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Archive for the ‘Pre-history & History’ Category

HERE IS A SCOOP… next Saturday don’t confuse ‘Cinco de Mayo’ with Mexico’s Independence Day! Mexico actually declared its independence from mother Spain on 15 September, 1810.

So what happened on the morning of 5 May, 1862 in Mexico that is such cause for celebration? Well, that was the day 4,000 Mexican soldiers were victorious over Napoleon III’s army at Puebla which is a village about 100 miles east of Mexico City. Oui! I said, Napoleon’s army.

You see, the French had landed in Mexico five months earlier under pretense of collecting Mexican debts from the newly elected government of democratic President Benito Juaréz. But that was really a ploy of Emperor Napoleon III, who hated the United States, to gain a permanent foothold in Mexico. Napoleon had already sent a Hapsburg prince, Maximillian I, to rule over this new Franco/ Mexican Empire, an idea that both President Juaréz and his Mexican liberal party refused to recognize.

There is no question Mexicans had won a great victory on that May 5th and in doing so also kept Napoleon from supplying the Confederate rebels for another year which allowed the Union army to grow in strength. The Confederates loss at Gettysburg just 14 months after the battle of Puebla essentially ended the Civil War – Gracias Mexico!

Why do we celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Well, we love Mexico, margaritas, and our imported Corona’s! Remember, although we love France…  we don’t want everything in our lives to be French.

I hope today when you are having that tasty margarita or ice cold Corona… you will share a bit of this ‘French History’ with your amigos.

Plan to visit in 2013? Please have a look at the delightful accommodations at both Le Sud and the affordable ‘all-inclusive’ 1 week home-stays at the rural & eclectic French casa: Rancho Escargot.

Both represent excellent value and are located in the very heart of the Dordogne River Valley.

Viva Cinco de Mayo! et à bientôt, Jack
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May 5, 2013 - Posted by Jack Tobin

THE CHARMING 9th CENTURY MARKET TOWN of St. Céré is less than 5 miles east of the Dordogne River. Built along the Bave River it was defended by a series of castles, especially St. Laurent les Tours whose two towers look down a steep hill onto the village’s old tiled rooftops.

St. Céré owes it name to the martyrdom of Saint Spérie in 780. Born the daughter to the then lord of St. Laurent, Sérenus, Spérie pledged herself to God at a very early age. When Spérie refused a pre-arranged marriage to a local nobleman she was beheaded by her own brother and buried on the riverbank. Later, a chapel was erected directly over her grave which became a very important stop for pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostela. Within the church her crypt is still accessible and can be visited today.

Taking a coffee in the Place du Mercadial surrounded by its middle-age houses or walking through the twisting village streets soaking up the history is a pleasure not to be missed.

Join a group of riders on a fall mountain bike (VTT) ride 19k from Mézels to Saint Céré along the Causse (Palisades) just above the Dordogne River. You’ll pass through 3 of France’s most beautiful villages: Carennac, Loubressac and Autoire before arrival in St. Céré:

With such close proximity to the Dordogne River by the early 15th century St. Céré became a very important crossroads for trading merchants from Asia, Africa and Northern Europe and that tradition continues today with a very large open market here on every 1st & 3rd Wednesdays of the month…



We will look forward to seeing you there!

Bon marché et à bientôt! Jack

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September 2, 2012 - Posted by Jack Tobin

IN 51BC, Julius Caesar finally defeated the Gaul’s on a high plateau, just above the Dordogne River and the village of Vayrac, known as Uxellodunum (modern day: Puy d’Issolu).

Le Puy d’Issolud

The siege was a long one, as the Gaul’s had found this a naturally fortified position with the plateau’s steep & craggy cliffs protecting it. The top was lush agricultural land fed by a natural spring, thus providing sustenance for the few thousand Gaelic defenders.

With Roman legions surrounding the base of the stronghold for almost 2 years without a victory, Julius Caesar became furious with the Gaul’s continued defiance. Determined to subdue Gaul while he was still its governor, he personally lead his cavalry from Italy to Uxellodunum and quickly devised a scheme to cut off the spring feeding the plateau at its source. Once this was accomplished the Gaul’s were driven to utter despair and defeated.

Gauls at battle and their surrender to Caesar

However, Caesar’s mercy had come to an end with this siege and to prevent other tribal uprisings he had all the Gaelic defenders’ hands cut off , but permitted them to continue living. He then had the hands scattered throughout Gaul to show that there would be no tolerance for continued defiance.

Talk about tough love! (à bientôt!) Jack
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August 5, 2012 - Posted by Jack Tobin