Easter Part 1

What did we do over Easter? Actually we did so much that we’d better split it into two blogs.

Although we would have liked to have gone to church on Good Friday, we had to stay to see the end of Edouard’s mammoth tree chopping extravaganza which has spectacularly opened up our garden.

The weather over the weekend wasn’t wonderful for this part of the world; in fact on Monday night it got close to freezing here in Taradeau. The weather forecast for Saturday looked best for the coast so we decided to visit Toulon, which is where the prefecture for Var is based and makes it in a sense our county town. If you know anything at all about Toulon it is that it is the great Mediterranean naval base for France and was the scene of Napoleon’s first military victory. Our only previous family acquaintance (apart from visiting IKEA on the outskirts) has been brief but memorable: when Alison and seven-week-old John were evacuated from Beirut in 1982 by the French, the ship docked at Toulon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe weren’t expecting very much but were pleasantly surprised. It’s a fantastic harbour and despite various and complicated unpleasantnesses of the Second World War (at one point the French scuttled their own fleet) there are some lovely old buildings. One difference between Britain and France: almost all inland French cities escaped substantial damage during the Second World War but almost all the port cities were badly bombed.

There was a boat going round the harbour so we boarded and spent a happy hour touring the bay. The interesting thing is that despite the recession it is plain that no one has told French Navy to downsize. (Or perhaps they have and the Navy hasn’t listened.) There was a lot of grey and menacing hardware afloat including a nuclear submarine heading into port.

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Wandering through Toulon afterwards it became apparent that it was full of English people and it transpired this was for the Wasps-Toulon rugby match on Sunday. The Wasps lost but I’m sure everybody had a good time.

In the afternoon we drove up to the top of Mount Faron which overlooks Toulon. One doesn’t like to do the classic British expat comment that begins ‘the thing about the French is that they…’ partly because actually most generalisations are misleading. But it does seem an almost universal rule that they really can’t be bothered with health and safety notices, and seem to assume that most people are adults and if they die, well it’s their fault. But if ever a road deserve to be labelled with ‘not for the fainthearted!’ it’s this narrow single lane snake of a track above sheer cliffs with only a few token stones for a barrier.

Double-click to get a bigger picture which shows part of the road…

 

The view from the top however was extraordinary and there was a fascinating if rather dusty military museum to the other D-Day: the Allied landings in southern France in August 1944. They don’t quite have the glamour of Normandy landings partly because down here the Nazis fielded their B Team. Besides it’s particularly hard to convince anybody you had a tough war if the high point was storming the beaches of St Tropez.

Easter Sunday saw our church full almost to overflowing. Apparently if you count children there were over 200 people. One nice touch was that when we ended with ‘Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son’ we sang a final verse in the French language that it was originally written in.

À toi la gloire, Ô Ressuscité !
À toi la victoire pour l’éternité.
Brillant de lumière, l’ange est descendu,
Il roule la pierre du tombeau vaincu.
À toi la gloire, Ô Ressuscité !
À toi la victoire pour l’éternité.

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One Response to Easter Part 1

  1. Pam Hodson says:

    What a delightful hymn version! So glad you are exploring the area and sharing your experiences with us.

    Love

    Pam

    >

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