David Downie’s latest entertaining memoir, “Paris to the Pyrenées, a skeptic pilgrim walks the way of Saint James” is a series of vignettes. The book is multipurpose whose words constantly upturned my lips into a smile or a smirk. They are the stories of his walk across France. It is also a guidebook along a segment of a trail steeped in history. It is a memoir of a skeptic pilgrim’s path to self-help along the Route of Saint James. When your body is falling apart, why not have a personal quest to possess France by walking across it! ….
You might think that ball gowns are a thing of the past. In the second half of the 20th century, Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent traveled with the “jet-set”, artists, fashionistas and aristocracy in a world alive now in memories and imaginations. In the 1950s and 1960s, this crowd wore the designs of Yves Saint Laurent to château balls.
Today, the memories and imaginations are kept digitally alive.
Jack Lang decided in 1984 to open the doors of French public buildings to the public. 50 countries in Europe now do the same, annually the third week in September.
After that first Journée Portes ouvertes dans les monuments historiques (Historical Monuments Open House) on the third Sunday in September. The Sunday visits became so successful, that in 1992 the event became a day-two French affair taking place the third weekend in September. The name changed to Journées du Patrimoine. Europe adopted the name Journées européennes du patrimoine in 2000.
For the French, this is an opportunity to visit their national monuments that are closed to the public or have limited access the rest of the year.
The visits include national monuments, churches, theaters, castles, private residences, banks, parliament buildings, government buildings, justice buildings, city halls, chambers of commerce.