First Week in July

The first week of July has been pretty swell for us here in southwestern France. We began the week with a day trip to Montauban to visit the Ingres Museum. Ingres was born in this town and at the age of 71 in 1851 he gave part of his collection to the town. I've been a big fan of Ingres' painting since taking an art course while in college so I was very keen to visit the museum. Keen ... but disappointed. The museum had paintings and sculptures by other sons of Montauban but quite little by Ingres and none of the classical genre for which he is most famous. We did have a very nice lunch in Montauban in the Arcade at the Place Nationale.

Montauban Place Nationale

The very pleasant arcade of the Place Nationale where we had lunch

After the Montauban day trip we made another day trip to the grotte de Niaux, a cave with prehistoric paintings located near the town of Niaux in the foothils of the Pyrenees. We had reserved a spot on the English language tour which started at 12:15PM and lasted about 2 hours. Our group numbered about 20 and I believe we walked about 0.8 km to the Salon Noir (Black Room) which held all of the cave art available for visitors to view. The walk was brisk and I was happy when we arrived at the Salon Noir not only to see the paintings but also to have a rest. Our tour leader had a very gentle manner and explained that the paintings we were seeing had been created between 13000 and 11000 BC. We found the paintings to be quite sophisticated often with what we imagined to be realistic details. It was inspiring to be in that room with the images. The photos of paintings that follow here are all taken from the web as we, of course, were not permitted to take any photos inside the cave.

Entrance to the Niaux Cave with a small office and a large triangular decorative sculpture

We came out of the cave at about 2:15PM and were very hungry. We drove to the town of Niaux, a very nicely situated town, had a sandwich (too late for a real meal) and then drove on small roads back to Brax. As we drove through the beautiful Ariege and Haute Garrone countryside we saw many huge fields filled with sunflowers. They seem to be all over the southwest of France. And each one is a thrill to come upon.

Countryside near the Town of Niaux

River Bank in Niaux

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