May 19 - Landes and Bayonne
we traveled to Bayonne through the department called Landes. We
stopped midway to visit the Ecomuseum of Marquèze near
Sabres . First a few (cribbed from the Internet) words about
is in great part a vast pine forest southwest of Bordeaux. This
is virtually homogeneous. Apart from a short stretch of coast on
the Bay of Arcachon, it consists of pine forest, broken here and
there by large agricultural clearings where crops such as asparagus
are grown. Villages are often as much as 16 kilometers (ten miles)
apart, which is unusual in France, where three or four is the average.
For centuries this was a region of large-scale sheep-farming. The
local shepherds, known as échassiers, used to follow their
flocks over the flat, shrub-covered grazing lands on stilts, in
order to keep their animals within view. This traditional way of
life changed in the 19th century. Maritime pines were planted to
drain the marshy land and to fulfill a demand for turpentine and
rosin. The forests are still being exploited for their timber.
this year, there was an unusually severe storm that wreaked havoc
with the trees, destroying 60% of them. We could still see them,
in some cases uprooted and in some snapped off in the trunk. They
are very spindly trees and they are looking for alternatives to
plant there instead. Just the problem of removing them is tremendous
and many remain. The disposal is also a problem and we later saw
logs being loaded onto a ship in Bayonne for sale on the cheap in
Ecomuseum at Marquèze is a faithful reconstruction of a traditional
19th-century rural Landes settlement. Access is via a tourist steam
train from Sabres, We took this after a long wait at the near end.
There was a small museum there that looked as though it might have
been interesting but we had no guide and the signs were all in French.
After that we took the train to the farm village where we had lunch
and then were taken around by a guide. On the whole it was interesting
but not overly special. I took lots of pictures, but forgot to do
so of the forest and its damage.
that we returned to the bus for the remainder of the journey to
Bayonne. there we checked into the Best Western Le Grand Hotel,
which was quite pleasant and conveniently located. We had dinner
at the hotel restaurant.
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