LAST NEWS : this news comes from today's local newspaper but it happened in 1944.
In September 1944, a famous American singer came to Vézelise : Bing Crosby ! He was supposed to sing in another village but German soldiers were still there, so he had to go backwards in the country and stopped in Vézelise. He sang at the old beer brewery in front of GIs belonging to the 35th Infantry Division and a picture was taken by a journalist of the Omaha World Herald. It is quite unexpected, isn't it ?
We visit the Saintois area about once a year, sometimes to climb up to the hill of Sion, sometimes to enjoy the villages around. It is situated south of Nancy and has kept a few typical villages of Lorraine.
Vézelise is a big village with about 1,500 inhabitants. It already existed in the 10th century and was part of the Comte de Vaudémont property.
The Halles de Vézelise were built during the 16th century. A sign on one pillar explains it has been a place where justice was dispensed in the 18th or 19th century, I can't remember. It has been restored and has got one stone staircase and one wood staircase, the latter is particularly big and impressing.
The Hôtel de Tavagny is near the Halles, just a bit further in the street. It was built in 1546 and I think it is not common to see such a building in a village of Lorraine. A Renaissance building is more usual in bigger places.
In Lorraine, Vézelise is mostly known because of its beer which was produced from 1863 to 1971 and distributed in France and the French colonies.
Vézelise nowadays is a quiet place which has kept shops, restaurants and also this very old center where it is pleasant to have a walk on a Sunday afternoon. We visited the Saint-Côme et Saint-Damien church too and saw another particularity which I will speak about in another article.
For quite a long time I have only been interested in birds and common butterflies coming near our windows. But, a few years ago, I realized there were new animals coming I had never seen near our walls before.
There are new birds as goldfinches which now come to be fed, but also a nasty sparrowhawk which chases the other birds. Last year I saw it killing a sparrow only two or three meters away from me.
And each year I discover new insects. The most pleasant to observe is the humming-bird hawk-moth (a long name for such a small thing), it goes from flower to flower without stopping. The one which impressed me most the first time I saw it is the carpenter bee, big and black, but harmless (for human people, not for one corner of my balcony which it uses to nest once a year, always the same hole, only one). And there are all these new insects I don't know, strange shapes, strange colours. Are they pest or not ? Maybe they are coming because our weather is warmer, or because they are looking for new areas.
This year, the new thing is lizards ! I had seen them in our garden near stones but now they are near the house. They are not big, about 20 centimeters long, tail included. They are not colourful, always a greyish beige. They are quick, but not enough to escape when our dog decides to chase them. The one on the picture must have met her and chose to relax on our window sill before moving again.
After visiting the troglodytic houses in Graufthal, we walked down to the Protestant church at the bottom of the cliff. The door was open and people going out of it.
The building has to be repaired and notice boards explain what could be done inside. Nearly everything has been taken away apart from an old stove. As the place is not very big, a "normal" stove would have seemed alright, but we discovered something unusual.
The stove was made by De Dietrich, it is not an earthenware one as you can see in lots of places in Alsace. Instead of having a simple pipe going from the stove into the wall, there are plenty of parts added where the smoke and heat go before arriving in the pipe. They help to diffuse more heat in the building, clearly more surface means more air heated by the metal. We found it clever and had never seen a stove like that before.
I don't know if it will be restored, but I hope it won't be thrown away. It was another surprise in our trip day.
Graufthal is a hamlet near Eschbourg in Alsace, in the north of the Vosges mountains. I have known for ages that there are troglodytic houses there but I had never visited them.
When we left Réhaupal last week, we went to La Petite Pierre to see one of my husband's colleagues, then we drove to Graufthal a few miles away.
The houses are external built parts that lean on the cliff, painted in blue, so you see them very clearly from the road. They have been inhabited for about two centuries, but built at first in the Middle Ages to be used as attics.
Three families with children have lived in these small houses. Only one room has a wood floor, all the others have kept the stone to walk on. We saw two (or three) bread ovens. The rooms are small and a "first floor" has been built for the children to sleep on.
The last person living there died in 1958. It is hard to imagine how she coped, having to stay in such a small space, but, above all, such a low space. My husband was not able to enter any of the houses without bending and, inside, his head was not far from the rock.
We have visited troglodytic habitation in Turkey which were very different, nearly built completely in the rock, and also in Touraine in the Loire Valley. The latter looked as the ones in Graufthal but were higher inside and really more "comfortable". In fact, we have thought we could stay in one of them for a week, as some are used as gîte, and visit the Loire Valley again.
A few days after our wedding anniversary, we went again to the Domaine du Haut Jardin in Réhaupal in the Vosges. We went there to celebrate my young cousin's birthday.
As it is more than one hour away from home, we didn't come back late in the night and slept in the Vosges.
Our bedroom was not in the hotel building but in a chalet, one bedroom per chalet, I mean. When we entered it, we discovered a nice lounge with a sofa for two people facing a television and a wood burner with two glass doors, one on the side of the sofa, one on the side of the bed. The fire was ready to be lit. And the bed ! A heart shape ! It is not very common, is it ? A friend has asked me if there was any problem because of the point. No, it is so big you don't notice it when you are lying.
When I went to the bathroom, I arrived in a place with two stone basins on each side of an arch and behind it a huge shower room with two Italian showers, one classic and one with jets. My husband would say "A place I can move in without hurting my elbows !"
I liked the decoration with little things to make you feel well, the white, red and beige colours, the candles, the mixture of stone on the bathroom floor and wood in the bedroom.
And, in the morning, we decided to get up quite early to enjoy... our private jacuzzi. 10°C (50°F) outside and 37°C (98°F) in the water, a view towards the mountains and the trees of the park, a fence to keep out of sight. It was so pleasant to stay in the water to start the day, and so difficult to go out of it.
We left our chalet so relaxed. Oh, I forgot to mention its name : Cupidon ! Cupid, in English, of course.