Vailly-sur-Aisne, France
Vailly-sur-Aisne, watercolor, 21 x 30 cm/8.3″ x 11.7″

Vailly-sur-Aisne is a small town in the Gran Est region of France. We were moored on the canal when a woman stopped to chat. Later she returned in her car. This is the view from her garden.

Wine and Cheese

wine and cheese in Lyon
Wine and Cheese, watercolor and ink, 21 x 30 cm/8.3″ x 11.7″

Two of my favorite cheeses are featured in this painting. Rustique is a brand of Camembert. It is reliably excellent and inexpensive to boot. Chausse aux Moines, a monk made cheese, has a washed rind that makes for a delightful crusty texture in contrast with the rest of the cheese.

The French eat cheese after or in lieu of dessert, and sometimes at apero, a causal social gathering. It is usually paired with red wine. I have had it served with champagne. It is not served as an appetizer. Smoked salmon is not usually paired but I doubt I would hear any objections.

We often enjoy cheese and wine with a great baguette- something the French have mastered!

Pérouges, watercolor painting

Plaza in Perouges, France, watercolor
Perouges, watercolor, 21 x 29 cm/8.3 x 11.7″ Canson 300 gram paper

Not far from Lyon is the medieval, walled village of Pérouges. It’s name is derived from Perugia, Italy, a mountain town dating back to the Etruscans. Legend has it that French visitors to Perugia returned to France and then founded the town at least 1000 years ago. It is recognized as one of the most beautiful French villages, see Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. Human presence dates at least to 1500. For more see my entry at One of the most picturesque villages.

In the Saone in Lyon

Il Barbe is an island in the Saone River. It’s springtime and the river flow is up, overflowing some of the riverside sidewalks.

On the island was the home of a 5th century abbey. It was dismantled during the French revolution. Today there are beautiful stone houses and a magnificent church. See watercolor painting below.

Old houses on Ile Barbe, Lyon
church tower
Church on Ile Barbe

There’s been a bridge to the island since the 17th century. There’s a modern one in place now.

Houses on ile barbe, water color
Houses on Ile Barbe, Lyon, France. This area is private so we had no access. Looks really neat. Photos above show it from the river side

We got there on a local bus. You can get weekly tickets for €22 via the app, which I learned about as we were standing in line to get the paper version, which is €5 more. Once installed and you buy the tickets with your credit card, you simply click on your phone to activate the screen light (you do not have to unlock) and hold it over the scan pad at the metro entrance or inside the bus.

Margaret Walker, African American poet

Margaret Walker (1915-1998) was a highly accomplished woman. She was at college student at the young age of 15 when she begin writing poetry. In 1936 she joined the Federal Writers’ Project in Chicago, befriending Richard Wright. BA from Northwestern 1935, MA and Ph D U of Iowa 1945. Her dissertation was published as a novel, Jubilee 1966.

margaret walker portrait conte
Dr. Margaret Walker, Conte pencil, 32 x 50 cm/ 12.5 x 19.5″ on gray pastel paper

Walker was the first African American poet to receive the Yale Younger Poets Prize, penning For My People 1942. She published This Is My Century: New and Collected Poems , October Journey and Prophets for a New Day .

In 1949 she joined the faculty at Jackson State College. She returned to the University of Iowa for her doctoral studies and received a PhD in 1965. In 1968 Walker founded the Institute for the Study of the History, Life, and Culture of Black People at Jackson State College.

As what became the Margaret Walker Center, she organized the 1971 National Evaluative Conference on Black Studies and the 1973 Phillis Wheatley Poetry Festival.

In 1979 she published On Being Female, Black, and Free, a collection of personal essays, and Richard Wright: Daemonic Genius.