Saturday, 28 May 2011

Laon and Bertha Big Foot

Like many medieval towns in France, Laon perches on a high outcrop. The car park was at the bottom and we chose to reach the main part of the old town the lazy way, we took the funicular. It was a little scary...

The next picture is of the Ardon Gate.    Tradition has it that it's the gate through which the great medieval warrior Roland is said to have ridden on his way to do battle at Roncevaux in 778.    He did so against the wishes of his uncle, Charlemagne, and had to flee the palace in secret.

In this military age, the battle became something of a myth.  It was recorded in the eleventh century in the epic poem the Song of Roland.

Below the Ardon Gate is a spring-fed washhouse:

This is of a later date.   (15th century, I think)

On the opposite side of Laon from the Ardon Gate, the view from the Saint Remy Rampart looks out over the forest of Samoussy.  It's the legendary location for the conception of Charlemagne by Pepin le Bref and Berthe au Grand Pied.    Medieval names are great, aren't they?   I wonder if it's fair to translate those names as Pepin the Short and Bertha Big Foot...

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