Following up on the Gers – Part 1 post, here are some other places we visited in the Gers:
This small town a few miles from our base at Moulin de Bapaumes has one distinguishing feature: an amazing country market. It has everything: from live animals to mattresses (and even a car for sale). We’ve seen lots of markets and always find them interesting; this was a great one.
I call the car above dangerous because a driver does not need a license to drive it. There’s a whole class of cars here like that. They are limited to about 40 mph and are not to be driven on the autoroute (supposedly: I’ve seen one there, driving at 40 mph where the speed limit is 75.) Even around town, they’re a nuisance. The dangerous part is this: blind? You legally could drive one of these, since you don’t need a license. So the drivers of these cars are almost always folks who, for some reason, could not get a real driver’s license. That may hint at their driving abilities. I give these things a wide berth and my full attention when I see one on the road.
Barbaste is another small town, with just one sight to visit, but quite an interesting site. Here’s a picture of a small structure in Barbaste:
I know you’re all yawning and saying, “Oh, yeah, another fortress. Boring!” In fact, it is kind of a fort – in this case, a fortified mill. In the 1300s, when this mill was built, only the king or his representatives could mill wheat and so the power associated with that (local farmers were dependent on that mill) was closely guarded. Hence, the mill was fortified and stocked with soldiers to maintain that power. This mill was abandoned for hundreds of years, survived and is now being slowly restored.
Next to that mill are two kind of interesting sights. The first is a bridge built a hundred years so so before the mill, so, about a thousand years ago. It’s still in use.
And one last kind of funny thing. Across a street bordering the mill is a beautiful structure. Closer examination (and a hint from Danny and René at Moulin de Bapaumes) reveals it to be a “folie’; same as in English: a folly. This beautiful structure, which you’d expect to see as the façade on an impressive building, covers up…a staircase. Nothing else.
That’s it for today. More posts coming Real Soon Now.