Bordeaux

Cycling Great: Louison Bobet

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Louison Bobet – a Breton who first became a Tour de France winner, then a Tour Great, the a Tour Legend!

Louis “Louison” Bobet – French

b. 12 Mar. 1925 Saint-Méen-le-Grand

d. 13 Aug. 1983

Tour de France – 10 Participations, 3 Victories, 11 Stage Wins.

1947; Didn’t finish

1948; 2 stage wins, stage 6 Bordeaux – Biarritz & stage 12 San Remo – Cannes

1949; didn’t finish

1950; King of the Mountains, 1 stage win, stage 18 Gap – Briancon

1951; 20th overall, 1 stage win, stage 17 Montpellier – Avignon

1953; Winner, 2 stage wins, stage 18 Gap – Briancon, & stage 20 Lyon – Saint-Etienne (time trial)

1954; Winner, 3 stage wins, stage 2 Beveren – Lille, stage 18 Grenoble – Briancon, & stage 21 part 2 Epinal – Nancy (time trial)

1955; Winner, 2 stage wins, stage 3 Roubaix – Namur, & stage 11 Marseille – Avignon

1958; 7th overall

1959; Didn’t finish

Jacques Anquetil said of Bobet “in Bobet’s eyes, there were no little races or unimportant victories. Every race mattered and he wanted to give his all to his public. Bobet knew only one way to race, whatever the sacrifices.”

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World War I

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Map of military alliances of Europe in 1914. (...
Map of military alliances of Europe in 1914. (English) Français: Carte des alliances militaires en Europe en 1914. (Anglais) Русский: Схема военных альянсов в Европе в 1914 г. (англ.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

France has often been the center of the known world and war not far from its present.

World War 1 – The Great War – The 1914 – 1918 War

Well I’m not in the ‘Great War’ camp when it comes to descriptions but I’m sensitive to the need for remembering in certain ways for some people.

France lost 1.4 million people during the First World War, a staggering number now but worse still 100 years ago. We are all still feeling the historical consequences of this war even today. Narratives of the war linger on in family histories from all affected nations and the national memory is no less affected, the losses were a colossal and traumatic national loss for all nations involved. Millions killed, millions more maimed, it was a human, economic and demographic trauma on an unthinkable scale with a massive and profound effect on every country involved.

The questions it raises about the relationship between the individual and the state, to what extent should sacrifice be made? What is the meaning of the collective effort to resist? What is the meaning of national solidarity?

Of course the First World War became the foundation on which the Second World War was eventually fought. The impact on Germany was huge, the rise of the Nazi Party, the eventual devastation and destruction, the division of Germany and eventual reunification, the effect on World Jewry, the creation of Israel and a ‘Palestinian’ people… The list goes on and is almost endless.

The 100 years centenary next year is sure to be a difficult time for both France and Germany who were bitter enemies during both World Wars but who are now the closest of European Allies. I’m sure beyond doubt that commemorative events in Germany next year will be a somber and very subdued affair indeed. Not least because Germany is a Federal State, no central Ministry of Culture to whom other potential partners could turn to assure that any commemorative events bear a pan-European sense.

This history of conflict between the now firm and close allies is long and varied going right back to the dawn of real European civilization; back to 718 – 723 when Charles Martel Duke and Prince of the Franks won a series of victories subjugating Bavaria, Alemmania and defeating the pagan Saxons. In fact he offered the Saxons a stark choice of convert to Christianity or die. Some of the Saxons didn’t quite grasp the compelling benefits of conversion and on one occasion 4000 souls were killed in a single day.

From 723 – 728 Charles consolidated his ‘kingdom’ preparing for the storm to come from the South and East. The province of Aquitaine was under Muslim rule and war was inevitable. The battle of Tours was the true turning point where with a smaller army Charles defeated the Muslim cavalry with infantry men by taking the top of a hill with a square formation; he resolutely beat his enemy. Had he not of course European history would be so much different.

So I return to my starting statement France is oft the center of the known & developed world for knowledge, religion and war. Without the French and proto-French, Europe just wouldn’t exist in its present form and civilization would be a very different thing indeed.

The world owes the French, or more accurately The Gauls, The Franks & The Normans et al  a debt of gratitude, we should be thankful for what we are because the French are the French.

derouler le tapis rouge

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Well here we go again, ding ding, round two.

Before he’d even uttered his closing words about a Euro in-out vote Mr. Cameron was being heckled from across the Channel. M Laurent Fabius the French Foreign Minister speaking on the radio station France Info said “Si la Grande Bretagne décide de quitter l’Europe, nous déroulerons aux hommes d’affaire le tapis rouge”  or in other words, they’ll roll out the red carpet for British Business.

A reference no doubt to the comments made last year by Cameron regarding the French Corrective Finance Bill or as we all know it the 75% tax take on those earning €1m+ where he offered to roll out the red carpet for French Business.  Saying they could pay for the British Health Service, Schools and everything else, so completely realistic then eh Mr. Cameron?  No, I didn’t think so.

During the interview M Fabius pointed out that Europe is not “a la carte”, its a set menu, the members cannot choose which bits they want and which bits they don’t.  Well the French may be playing football and they may think the Brits are playing rugby but heck they’re both team games so it would seem the war of the metaphor is about as enlightening as the red carpet digs.

Anyway my plaudits go to M Michel Sapin the French Ministre du Travail who suggested that rolling out a red (or any other colour for that matter) carpet over the Channel might get it wet.

All this said, countries do actually pick and choose in reality on so many things and as far as I can tell always based on National rather than EU interest; just have a look at the Common Agricultural Policy and try to work out if it applies equally to all nations.  No, you don’t think its applied evenly across the EU?  Well perhaps not but the history of the CAP is based on French farmers concerns regarding keeping produce local so limiting the amount and ensuring a high price and to be honest I don’t mind paying if what I’m getting is authentic.

Long may these exchanges continue, highly entertaining I think.

The EU will almost certainly benefit from more integration but it’s gotta keep localized production processes to make the very most of the range and quality of food, drink, clothing, cars and any other product produced in a specialized way. Why would anybody want Bordeaux wine made anywhere else but Bordeaux?

M Sapin, I’m with you, wet carpets aren’t much fun and a devil to get dry.  After all with an ENS education he’s a clever chap.

Anti-Malbouffe

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Millau, 12 Aug. 1999 sheep farmer and Roquefort producer Jose Bove & a few friends decided to dismantle an under construction McDonalds in the South of France. His action was precipitated by an EU-US trade dispute at the WTO where the cheese had been punitively subject to a 50% tariff. 

Some accused Bove of nation bashing, of national chauvinism. But Bove himself made himself clear that his target was not the national origin of the restaurant. Rather, it was the quality of the food it served.

It wasn’t anti-American, it was anti-malbouffe (against bad food). It was a struggle against global free trade and capitalism. It was about the logic of a certain system, of globalization, of homogeneity, it was not directed at those who carry an American passport. 

In a later incident Bove was detained for setting fire to a field of genetically modified crops. At the same time a group of peasant Indian farmers were touring Europe as part of an international caravan. After Bove’s arrest they insisted the French Authorities arrest them too, the meaning of the golden arches was just as objectionable to them. 

Bove is part of an international movement, one that is far from knee-jerk. It’s a movement that would like to turn the clock back to a time when food was the result of traditional cooking. 

The amount of time spent cooking in UK homes has fallen dramatically in the past hundred years. This has happened as a function of women’s changing role in society, the possibility of long food storage and preservation, longer working hours, the availability of food which is quicker to prepare, and the sense that there are better things to do than food preparation. 

Bove is aiming to return the meaning of food to one of celebration rather than one of requirement. When people no longer feel the need to eat together at home or cook for themselves then the family will begin to disintegrate. Those who do this are complicit in the march towards universal alienation. 

Children tend to do better when they interact with adults and mealtimes are the best time to interact this is not, I offer rocket science. Bove is making a much deeper point though, adults do better when taking time to eat, to appreciate the ingredients and the process of cooking. 

1934 = average time to cook a meal 150 minutes (2.5 hours)

2010 = average time to cook a meal 8 minutes 

Good reasons to love Bordeaux wines

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Freedom, diversity, simplicity… and much more! 

The 7 Bordeaux appellations account for 54% of the Bordeaux wine region, 63000 hectares and 5000 winegrowers, making it the world’s largest fine wine area. With such a wealth of wines, there is something for every taste and every fancy, an infinite variety of pleasures.

They are simply delicious wines.

Elegant, delicate, balanced… There’s no shortage of words to describe Bordeaux wines. They can be drunk with any meal from the simplest of country fair to the most elaborate of dishes, from the most traditional to the most exotic.

They can be drunk at any age. Bordeaux Superieur can give the best when young.  The fruity quality is a delightful experience on the palate. But they are also capable of aging for a few years to offer a more subtle bouquet.

Famous all over the world for quality, Bordeaux is now available at more than reasonable prices. They are well within the reach of everyone’s pocket.

Bordeaux reds boast a wide range of nuances and combine their qualities in a 1000 ways. But diverse as they may be they all share the same quality; the ability to express the fruit to the full.

When most people say Bordeaux they are referring to the Chateaux. But Bordeaux is so much more. Wine blended by wineries of trading houses or cooperatives can be equally excellent too. Behind the label you’ll fine wine of a consistent nature year-on-year variations in the terroir notwithstanding.

Vines that are often ancient, a minimum maturing time of 12 months, long periods in oak barrels… If you want to earn the Bordeaux Superieur Appellation you have to comply with some really strict rules designed to give an optimum expression of the terror. But the wine maker will also show off their talents too. Each bottle will contain an imprint of the maker. The wine will be a reflection of the specific expertise, personal style, each bottle will have the taste of the vintage, something quite special.

Consumed young the wines are generally eloquent, but with some patience they will reveal aromatic richness, and fruity flavors endowed with woody, leathery, spicy notes as well as plenty more. Bordeaux Superieur do not age they simply get better with time.

My advice is discover the wines, share the wine. There is no need for a special occasion or ceremony open a bottle and enjoy.