Friday, May 29, 2009

Stepping Back in Time

Almost two years into our three year tour, I'm already feeling a little bit panicky about how much more of Europe we'll be able to fit in during our time here. So much to see and so little time! How can you possibly choose? One good place to look for direction is UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites. It includes nearly 900 places around the world considered to be of cultural or natural significance from well known landmarks like the Taj Mahal to the more obscure (at least to me) Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in St. Louis, Illinois. Of course, I'll have to save those for another time; for now, I'm trying to focus on Europe.

I took some of my own advice last week when we took a day trip to Provins, a medieval village about an hour's train ride from Paris. It made the UNESCO list since it was the center of trading fairs that once connected northern Europe with the kingdoms in the Mediterranean. In time, commerce passed Provins by but the town remains for current day explorers. We had perfect weather for strolling among the half timbered houses, climbing the tower that had once served as part of the king's keep and later a prison, scaling the ramparts, watching an equestrian show, and of course, eating ice cream. Provins is also known for its roses but it was a little early for them. They should be in full flower by the time of the annual festival, the second weekend in June.

In France, UNESCO's list is as follows (I've checked off the places I've visited):

aChartres Cathedral
aMont-Saint-Michel and its Bay
aPalace and Park of Versailles
aPrehistoric Sites and Decorated Caves of the Vézère Valley
Vézelay, Church and Hill
Amiens Cathedral
aArles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments
Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay
aPalace and Park of Fontainebleau
Roman Theatre and its Surroundings and the "Triumphal Arch" of Orange
Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans
Abbey Church of Saint-Savin sur Gartempe
Gulf of Porto: Calanche of Piana, Gulf of Girolata, Scandola Reserve
Place Stanislas, Place de la Carrière and Place d'Alliance in Nancy
Pont du Gard (Roman Aqueduct)
aStrasbourg – Grande île
Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Remi and Palace of Tau, Reims
aParis, Banks of the Seine
Bourges Cathedral
aHistoric Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge
Canal du Midi
Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne
Pyrénées - Mont Perdu
Historic Site of Lyons
Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France
Belfries of Belgium and France
Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion
aThe Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes
aProvins, Town of Medieval Fairs
Le Havre, the City Rebuilt by Auguste Perret
Bordeaux, Port of the Moon
Fortifications of Vauban
Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems

1 comment:

Starman said...

You guys had better pack up and start traveling if you expect to see all those places before you return to the US. Of course, you could do one of those "we've been there tours", where you spend no more than a day in each place (if it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium).

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