Dispatches from a Last Ape Standing – France #1

DSCN1489Returned last week after three weeks in France on assignment for National Geographic Magazine…still a Last Ape Standing :-). Unbelievable trip! It’s been busy and deadlines loom on various projects so time is in short supply. Pardon my ragged and disjointed dispatch….

Arrive in Paris mid September direct from Pittsburgh. How nice was that! No hopping from city to city to get to the final destination exhausted and cramped. Jet lagged, yes, but then, jet lagged in Paris…hotel room not yet ready on arrival … walk down the streets of the Latin Quarter (Paris’s oldest neighborhood after the Île de la Cité and Saint Michel) and grab a bite to eat in a little bistro

A sliver of Paris's Latin Quarter

A sliver of Paris’s Latin Quarter

…find a Heinz Ketchup packet on the table…ironic…

Proof that Heinz is everywhere...

Proof that Heinz is everywhere…

later a meeting down the street from the hotel in the oldest square in Paris…just on the corner Victor Hugo’s old garret…the one where he wrote Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame! Think about that…

Directly across the park, Victor Hugo wrote two of his greatest works.

Directly across the park, Victor Hugo wrote two of his greatest works.

Little time for sight-seeing and after some meetings the next day head to the small medieval town of Vezelay about two hours south of Paris…beautiful basilica sits above the village on a small mountain

Eleanor of Acquitaine, one of the great women of any time or place, walked up this street 900 years ago.

Eleanor of Acquitaine, one of the great women of any time or place, walked up this street 900 years ago.

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St. Bernard gave his sermon here and launched the Second Crusade, which in a strange way helped make the U.S. Constitution the fine document it is.

…Eleanor of Acquitaine walked the main street here 900 years ago, up to the Basilica where St. Bernard gave the sermon that launched the Second Crusade, which, by the way, was led by Eleanor’s oldest son by Henry II, Richard the Lionheart…if that hadn’t happened there would be no Robin Hood legends…nor a Magna Carta (which changed the course of western history and is one of the foundations of the United States Constitution).

Prince/King John, Richard’s younger brother signed the Magna Carta because his brother was absent and on the crusades and eventually died (that’s another story)…

But I am here because there are also very ancient cave paintings nearby in a place named Arcy sur Cure, some approaching 40,000 years old (very old)…we have chosen this place (with Count Vezelay’s permission-he owns the caves) to arrange a paleo-concert. Not permitted to say much more than that, but keep a look out for the article and especially the interactive iPad edition which will feature the concert, held in a great hall in the 1/2 mile deep caves among their ancient paintings. It was primal and beautiful and haunting.

The chamber in the caves at Arcy sur Cure where we staged the "Paleo-Concert."

The chamber in the caves at Arcy sur Cur where we staged the “Paleo-Concert” using ancient instruments. It was quite an experience.

Next…onto Toulouse and Montignac, the land of still more ancient caves. Stay tuned…

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