Monthly Archives: June 2014

20140605_152419What do a 16th Century castle and a 20th Century War Museum have in common? In both of these French locations, WWI- The Great War, was a catalyst for drastic changes in the economies and political beliefs of countries with power.

Although Chateaux Chenonceau on the River Cher was built to house the king and queen of France, it was converted into a hospital from 1914-1918. The owner, Simone Menier, transformed every room into a treatment center at her family’s expense and tended over 2000 wounded. From 1939-1945, she also┬ácourageously carried out numerous acts of resistance, helping refugees escape while German guns were aimed at her castle.

The Museum for Peace in Caen, France is a vivid reminder of the economic and political factors which stemmed from WWI and led to WWII. Seventy years ago, on June 6, 1944, eight thousand Allied troops swarmed Normandy by boat, parachute and plane. The Germans were heavily fortified. Two thousand American soldiers died in the four-day battle.

These historical sites remind us that heroes are real people in extraordinary circumstaces.

Never underestimate what four teenage boys, exploring the forest can discover. In 1940 a dog stumbled into a hole near Montignac in Southwest France. These young explorers dug their pet out, then continued to clear dirt and rocks away to reveal a cave with six hundred perfectly preserved paintings on the walls and ceiling. Research continues into the tools, plants and animals the Cro-Magnon

people used 17,000 years ago.

Today you can take a tour of an exact underground replica of this sophisticated art, sometimes called the Sistine Chapel of Prehistoric Man. Our guides pointed out the perspective, details and motion created by clever use of the natural rock relief. Lascaux horses, goats, bison, cows, wild ox, bear, red deer, ibix, wooly mammoth and wooly rhinoceros come alive.

Seeing the grotto where St. Bernadette was graced with eighteen visions of the Virgin Mary is a gift. Not only was I speechless at the first sight of the extraordinary church built above the shrine, but I was moved by the sincere faces and songs of the Catholic pilgrims. This site is as sacred as Jerusalem, Mecca and the Ganges. More than five million people visit each year, many of whom are searching for a cure.

Swept along with hundreds of wheelchairs, candles and banners, I also asked that all people have a life of health and happiness.

While riding my bike back to our French inn, the hills felt easier to ascend and opportunities to see the world more precious.