ITWPA Member Jim Cassidy takes a step back in history at France’s International Cave Painting Centre in Lascaux
The spirit of Christmas in Strasbourg begins as you leave the railway station and cross the road on the way to the city center. The smells of hot mulled wine (vin chaud) and hot chocolate drift into the air from a small number of decorated cabins selling gifts and food.
Remember those sleepless nights lying on a rickety camp bed — or worse, on rough ground? Well, this yurt has a large, super comfy double bed and bunk beds for the youngsters. Forget wandering across to the shower block to freshen up in the morning. There’s a modern bathroom with double sink and shower.
The buffet itself was art. Shrimp and snails were piled majestically into a silver tureen with the hotel garden as a backdrop. Delicate slices of salmon were deliberately draped across a silver tray. Fresh salads of every type glistened with olive oil and glowed with the colors of freshly-picked vegetables.
“We’re a generalist festival,” Caron says, “with three main pillars: sacred music (because we play mainly in churches), symphonic music (because we have the largest auditorium in France’s Massif Central), and piano music (because the festival was founded by the great pianist Georges Cziffra in 1966).”
The visitor’s reward for a steep climb on foot along a twisting rock-strewn path is a stunning 360-degree view across the Corbières range, with countless hectares of vineyards carpeting the slopes. One can almost feel ghosts of the Cathars who fled the brutal crusaders to seek asylum here from the sympathetic lords of Termes, owners of Chateau d’Aguilar since the 11th century. After the crusade ended in 1255, Aguilar became an important redoubt on the Franco-Aragon frontier until the 1659 Treaty of the Pyrenees settled the border between the two countries.