austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

The eagle spread its mighty wings

Monday would be a sunnier day, really just the sort of day for going to an amusement park. Nothing to be done about that. We figured to take in the castle, and to take the walk alongside the canal to get there. This led us first through the train station, then out the backyard, and past a Pathe movie theater. bunny_hugger hadn't known they used a crowing cock for their logo. I knew that dimly but had forgotten. We caught a glimpse of Bambi on the screen announcing upcoming shows and waited through the whole teaser cycle to see it again. Apparently they had been doing a children's-buddies movie theme on Sundays and several weeks back Bambi had been one of the showings. We'd totally have gone to see Bambi, even if it were dubbed in French. Maybe especially. But we had missed it by several weeks, and it would've been on a Sunday which would have mesed up visiting Parc Festyland. Too bad, overall.

The canal path was actually several canals, leading closer to the center of town. They were also setting up tents and stands and such all along the canal ahead of some kind of boat race. We were diverted from the sidewalk nearest the water by some of the construction, but would end up walking through what we realized were also zones being prepared later on anyway. We also spotted shops offering boating lessons and auto-ecoles. That's surely driving schools, although seeing everything listed in the same window gave the impression of renting a boat that would teach you how to pilot it, no supervision required. We also passed a hobby store with a lot of interesting-looking models I don't have time to build. It was closed for the day anyway.

The first part of the castle we encountered was a tower standing free of the main structure, on the midst of a traffic island in the Boulevard des Alliés;s, one of many, many reminders of what the city had endured. The castle --- Le Château de Caen, they call it --- can be traced back to William the Conquerer's time. The main structure is a huge, thick wall on a lot of grassy hill. The hill conceals an underground parking garage, the sort of mixed-use that just seems bizarre to tourists from the United States, where the available land is vast and the history people pay attention to begins only about 75 to 150 years ago. We were more understanding of the idea that you can't just preserve everything and move on --- France is only about the size of Texas; you'd use the space up --- but still. The opening in the grassy hill that let us see the parking structure underneath, in front of this old stone castle, gave the place a weird Doctor Who-ish look of futuristic technology concealing itself with a faked antiquity.

The castle is not a single monolithic structure. The walls themselves are the result of centuries of reconstruction and rebuilding, and they mark the enclosure of quite some space. It'd be enough space for, well, the residents of a medieval city to huddle within while some deal was worked out with the invading army. There still are multiple buildings within. Some are hundreds of years old, such as the church that now serves as an interpretative center and for some reason a burial site for a handful of 18th-century city notables. Some are museums, including one for the province's history and another that's an arts museum. That arts museum was built in the early 1970s, and looks it, all imposing sharp angles and functional design. Yet as bunny_hugger noted, even though the arts museum wears its modernist style it does so huddling down, trying to fit in: the cladding and the shape don't clash with the castle walls. If you look casually it even fits in.

We did spend time sitting in the flower gardens, looking at the setting, and the people who came to just wander around. The castle's free to enter and is a beautiful spot, with a grand view of the city. And bunny_hugger looked attentively at things like the weeds growing into the castle walls. Some she identified as being relatives of, if not the same, plants that grow back home. Some of them are weeds, or at least boring, in their mid-Michigan setting. Some looked radically different in what's presumably their home climate. So even the base setting made the world more interesting.

Trivia: The Prussian parliament, after the Frankfurt Assembly, saw one-third of its deputies elected by each of three classes of voters. The first class was the wealthiest five percent of the population. The second was about four times as many voters. The third was the final three-quarters of the population. Source: 1848: The Revolutionary Tide in Europe, Peter N Stearns.

Currently Reading: Outland: The Complete Library, Sunday Comics 1989 - 1995, Berkeley Breathed. I happened to start reading it before the Bloom County announcement, but who'll believe me about that now?

PS: A Summer 2015 Mathematics A To Z: vertex (graph theory), one. No, I don't know what I'm going to do when I exhaust this A To Z project.

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