Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Vehicle-Free and Loving It…by Adela Meadows

Ahhh…the life of an antiques dealer…after spending many years traveling across the U.S. in a fifty-one foot long rig…a motor home for us with an attached cargo trailer for the antiques…it feels sooooooo good to be vehicle-free! At least that’s our status when we are in Paris.

We walk everywhere for most things…
Cars metropolitain …but the Parisian subway…called le métropolitain…or métro for short…is never more than a couple of blocks away and, with its fourteen different lines crisscrossing beneath the city, it’s a very convenient option. The stations are a world within themselves…art exhibits, cooking demonstrations by Michelin-starred chefs, scores of daily concerts by talented musicians…the sanctioned musicians in the Paris métro must first successfully go through a series of auditions, after which they are assigned to the various stations based upon their level of proficiency…and of course, traveling by the métro gives one the opportunity to catch up on all the latest fashion trends…Cars metro
…Nope, I’ve heard that supposedly the big shoulders of the ‘80s are back, but I really don’t see myself wearing anything like this little number any time soon.

Should we want to travel a little farther afield, longer distances are handled via the train…only one hour and twenty-three minutes and I’m eating a gauffre in Brussels…
Cars gauffres
…hmmm…decisions, decisions…a plain gauffre is good, but one with strawberries and cream is so much better…

…a trip to Rennes, the capital of Brittany, currently takes two hours and eight minutes…but higher-speed rails are being installed and it will soon take even less time! For a longer journey, Jean-Pierre hops into his travel bag and it’s all aboard for the overnight sleeper to Venice, Italy…and to think it used to take us three days of practically non-stop driving just to get to Texas!

The opening of the railway line connecting Quimper with the rest of the world was a pivotal moment in the region’s history…
Car pb guengat jardiniere …and as can be expected, train travel was immortalized in Quimper faïence.

aloposter The railway company effectively advertised the virtues of Brittany and the outside world was suddenly not so far away. To the newly-industrialized population, the previously isolated Bretons were deemed to be quaint and soon hoards of artists and voyagers came to paint and gawk respectively.

By the time the automobile was invented, Quimper was considered to be  relatively cosmopolitan …kings and queens and heads of state had visited and paid their respect.

Like most inventions suddenly introduced to rural societies, the Bretons were frightened of the automobile at first…
1205rencontre diabolique
…but it wasn’t long before the townsfolk of Quimper began to embrace the horse-less carriage. And the newfangled contraption did not escape the attention of the potters in Quimper…here are some examples…

…an HR version…

…a sporty 1930s Henriot convertible…a pièce unique by Emile Compard (1900-1977).

Also from the ‘30s, a faïence bank in the form of a racing car by the HB factory

…this sports car raced out of the Henriot factory in June of 1927

The potteries in Malicorne were right in there as well…this racing car is by La Faïencerie Paul Lecomte…
…one of a series that were used to promote the famous “24 hours” automobile race at nearby Le Mans.

By the 1950s, the success of the automobile as a common mode of transportation created worldwide consternation regarding the adaptability of traditional headgear…across the United States, men and women alike began to stop wearing hats…

…and, of course, the same was true of Brittany!


Flash forward and vehicles continue to get smaller and smaller, especially here in France…a fact that formed part of our decision to hoof it everywhere…not wearing a hat was one thing, but what could poor Mark do about his long legs…not to mention no room for Jean-Pierre!


  1. Hi Adela,
    I am so enjoying your posts, they are all so interesting and diverse.
    Shoulder pads? I don't think so, but I'd share a gauffre with you anytime.

  2. The car pottery pieces might just be the way to get my son to enjoy Quimper a little more! I am always excited to see forms that I have never seen before. Thanks for sharing.

  3. As Always, Adela..loved your post! I am with you on the THUMBS DOWN on shoulder pads..but they will be modified and sneaked into things we buy, I am sure. It it part of the "planned obsolescence" of our society..makes our current wardrobes out of date. And I agree completely, about the utility of the metro..and the pleasures of walking. Paris is surely the best 'walking city' in the world...Sigh, I love it! Thanks for the charming Quimper pieces of autos and Bretons! Hugs...

  4. Adela, another fabulous post! Love the car photos, and still smiling thinking of Mark in one of those mini vehicles. I'm with you on the walking. It's one of the reasons I love to spend time in Paris. I agree with Cerelle, Paris is definitely the best "walking city" in the world. ~ Sarah