Then It Began to feel a lot like summer

Maybe you could tell by the pics of the cat? The weather during our two-week stay in France was beaucoup different from what it was in Edinburgh. It’s cooler in the country, you say? Well, if 102 is cooler to you, things are really lost in translation. We experienced a couple of summer rainstorms and then a week of things really heating up.

Nevertheless, we did get to some walking in France, made a brief visit to Basel, and visited the Vitra Design Museum, too.

A great deal of our sightseeing took place inside the huge supermarkets in the outskirts of Basel. Fun, but we’ll spare you that. We did poke around the Swiss city a couple of times and enjoyed some food, plus the sight of people drifting in the swift-flowing Rhine river.

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They have cool mail slots in Basel.
They have cool mail slots in Basel.

Can’t figure out why this restaurant isn’t doing better business.

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On a hot day, hopping in the Rhine looked like fun. The grainy close-up shows a man swimming with his two large dogs.

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We were interested in walking paths, and found some good ones. Here’s a historically-minded route near the town of Pfetterhouse, France. The trail takes you to “Kilometre Zero,” the spot designated as the beginning of the Western Front during the First World War. The front stretched from the border of Switzerland to the North Sea. Along the way you see the remains of machine-gun batteries and the trenches, on both French and German sides.

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The loop trail takes you into Switzerland and then back into France again (before the Great War, Pfetterhouse was actually the spot where France, Switzerland, and Germany met). There is something quite interesting about walking across a national border.

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Another day, another hike. This one begins in Ferrette, France, a hilly town with castle ruins and (much more importantly) the location of the La Grotte des Nains, better known to you as the Cave of the Dwarves. We ascended above the town and saw the ruins across the way – now how to get there?

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Before long, the trail led to the Cave of the Dwarves itself.

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We didn’t venture far into the cave, at the risk of enraging the magical people within. The sad legend of the dwarves is here – bring your handkerchiefs. Then it was on to some fine views and the chateau ruins.

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Just down the road from Folgensbourg is the ruin of Chateau Landskron, which turned out to be a pretty spectacular site. A foresty path through the town of Leymen led to the well-restored ruin of the castle. From the top, you can see three countries again, in no particular order.

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The most heart-rending story about the history of the castle is that of Bernard Duvergez, imprisoned there after a love affair gone bad and apparently forgotten. There is a life-size figure in the dungeon to remind people of this tale.

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For variety, here’s a non-hike. The Vitra Design Museum, in Weil am Rhein, Germany — a ten-minute drive from Folgensbourg — is both a tribute to mid-20th century design and a showroom. It’s a very extensive campus of hip buildings.

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IMG_2635IMG_2628 Update: Irving Harper, the creator of this classic, called the Marshmallow Sofa, died August 4th. IMG_2630IMG_2640

Update: The creator of this sofa, Irving Harper, died August 4th

Here R relaxes on the chaise designed by the Eameses to the specifications of their friend Billy Wilder.

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Before leaving Folgensbourg, we walked through Wentzwiller, France, where the half-timbered buildings give a good idea of what towns around here look like.

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The signs of the area’s agricultural character are well in evidence.

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Adieu – see you in Switzerland.

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