One enters, briefly, the département of les Landes. Over the next couple of days there’s a bit of this:
Cropping is big around here, and maize seems very popular. What strikes me is the fussy, Cartesian approach to land prep.
I’m one of those people impervious to the western part of Paris with its massive geometries: that dead straight perspective, stretching from the Louvre to La Défense (shudder), and raying outward in straight lines at the Étoile. It’s the side of France and the French which remains quite foreign and mostly meaningless to me. Just about everyone else seems to like it, so I shut up about it.
But here, on the huge agricultural flats near the Adour, I rather enjoy the precision and economy of it all. Apparently you can use lasers to get it perfect; but my guess is that the French farmers were Cartesian long before lasers or even Descartes. They just like their geometry…and la présentation.
If people are going all the way to western Spain to visit a saint, doesn’t it make sense to have a few saints on the way? At Aire-sur-l’Adour, where I spent the night, that’s what you get.
Sainte-Quitterie may have been a Visigothic princess who was escaping from an unwanted suitor after a vow of chastity. Or she may have rejected the Aryan heresy or Roman gods – much like little Sainte-Foye. We’re not sure.
What is certain is that, after she was decapitated a fountain immediately sprang up in the spot where her head fell. Quitterie was no quitter. She neatly picked up her own head, nicely washed by the spring, and carried it up the hill to the spot where her future church would be.
And that church, where her relics were venerated for centuries (till Huguenots trashed them), is right on the pilgrim trail to Compostela.
Position, position position!