When you say you’re going to France people tend to think “Paris”, but I go to the Franche-Comté in eastern France, not far from Switzerland and Germany. I also go to the country and a lovely place it is, as you can see.  Right now, much of Europe is in the grip of drought, so we saw lots of brown and lakes much lower than usual.  There’s been only one cutting of hay, which will cause winter to be a difficult time for farmers with livestock as well as for growing other crops.

© janet m. webb

Although my s-i-l and b-i-l live in the country, it’s not far to the city, albeit a city of only about 8,000.  Luxeuil-les-Bains (les Bains meaning “the baths”), has been a hot spot (so to speak) for many years, as far back as Celtic and Roman times, when people came to relax and heal in the thermal baths. In 590, St. Columban founded the Abbey of Luxeuil.  St. Columban (remember that name as you’ll be reading more about him over the next few weeks) was an Irish monk who, during the 500’s A.D., traveled extensively in France and, eventually, into Italy.  Luxeuil was destroyed and rebuilt a number of times, raping, pillaging, and destroying being popular pastimes in those days.  Saracens, Normans, Magyars, and Muslims as well as several other groups all took part in these exciting activities.

You can see Roman influences everywhere, even though modern shops find their homes under these arches.

© janet m. webb

Everywhere you look there are little interesting touches that most of us don’t see around home, shutters as well as these little guys hanging about on the corners of the buildings.

© janet m. webb

Part of Luxeuil’s heritage includes lace making.  I spotted these two examples as we hunted for a bakery.  The first is a lace rendering of part of the Abbey of St. Columban.  I didn’t quite manage to get completely out of the photo!

© janet m. webb

Not made for rain, but certainly for beauty.

© janet m. webb

Of course, there’s another bit of French culture that everyone enjoys, the macaron.  Don’t confuse these meringue-based cookies made with almond flour and filled with ganache, buttercream or jam, with the American version, the macaroon, made with shredded coconut.  Although back in the mists of bakery time, the two were one in Italy, sometime after Catherine de Medici brought her pastry chefs and their recipes from Italy to France, the two types of cookies diverged.   Macarons and croissants have become what most Americans think of when they think of bakeries in France, although trust me, there are many, many other goodies to be found and you’ll see some of them in later posts.  So save room!

© janet m. webb

for Jo’s Monday Walk

Comments
  1. Good morning, Janet. What a delicious walk!
    I learned interesting new facts, enjoyed beautiful pictures and the only problem is to be now craving for a macaron….

  2. Joanne Sisco says:

    I’ve done more than my fair share of travelling in the world, but France has long been and continues to be my favourite. Thanks for taking us along on a walk through a small French town. I love all the details of so much history!

    I was never a fan of macarons until I had a REALLY good one. It was a thing of pure bliss! They are so pretty to look at though 🙂

    • Macarons aren’t my favorite, either, Joanne. There are so many other delicious pastries from which to choose and I also love a good pain au chocolat or, this year, an almost croissant.

      It’s been many, many years since I’ve been anywhere other than France for an extended period of time as having relatives with whom to stay is a wonderful thing. But there could be many places less enjoyable to visit, so you won’t catch me complaining. 🙂 Thanks for sharing the walk today and keep your walking shoes on. There will be more.

      janet

      • Joanne Sisco says:

        I would have no problem going back to France year after year. Sadly my husband doesn’t share my enthusiasm 😏
        Looking forward to more!

      • I’m blessed to have a place to stay when I go and a s-i-l who knows all about the area (or any area where she lives) and also loves to drive all over the countryside and explore. 🙂

  3. markd60 says:

    Love the architecture! And that umbrella!

  4. Marvelous with visual treats to spike the senses.

  5. marianallen says:

    Ooo! Pistache! And that lace is amazing! Is it still made by hand, or is it mechanized at all?

  6. happyface313 says:

    🙂 Yummie, Framboise/Anise looks delicious.
    Thanks for taking the tour for us, dear Janet!
    Have a very HAPPY week
    Claudia 🙂

  7. The lace umbrella might work a little in the sun – I imagine the beautiful patterns it would make on the person underneath it!

  8. Su Leslie says:

    Although I’m losing my sweet tooth, I do enjoy macarons. My french isn’t great but two of the flavours look like green tea, and lime with basil — if that’s right I can only say yum. And you would have lost me from the walk at the pâtisserie I’m afraid.

    • Several times our walks were ultimately aimed for one pâtisserie or another. There are several excellent bakeries there, enhancing all the history in a delicious way. 🙂 One thing I love about the pastries are that they aren’t overly sweet the way so many in the US are. I can’t handle too much sweetness.

  9. Lignum Draco says:

    History, culture and patisseries. France has an abundance of these. Thanks for taking me back there again. 🙂

  10. Lovely country! That lace umbrella is just incredible

  11. pommepal says:

    The delightful joys and discoveries while travelling

  12. thirdeyemom says:

    Looks lovely Janet!

  13. Thank you for taking us on your walk! I would love to see France one day!

  14. Dan Antion says:

    One Pistache and one Caramel, please. Those look delicious. Great photos. I love the walkway under those arches. I’d like to spend some time there.

  15. We have an authentic French pastry shop in Portsmouth about ten miles away. I was there a couple of weeks ago to enjoy a salted caramel macaron and a vanilla latte. You’ve just reminded me, I need to go back. 🙂

    • Go!! In France you probably won’t find lattes, at least in smaller towns. Coffee, espresso, cafe au lait, and sometimes cappuccino. Thankfully, there’s nothing like Starbucks, although I did see a McD or two. My s-i-l says at McD in France, you’re served at your table. 🙂

  16. Linda Apple says:

    I LOVE France. We may have to explore this region when we go to Germany. 🙂 Thank you!

    • It’s a lovely area, but not one many people know about. Visit Colmar. It’s an amazingly beautiful place. And the Vosges Mountains are excellent as well. The forests are a continuation of the Black Forest.

      janet

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