Wandering Through Autumn in France: Chestnut Picking, Art Museums, and Coastal Cycling

  Going to Fontainebleau to pick chestnuts
  The first time I went to Fontainebleau was nine years ago. At that time, like most Chinese tourists who went abroad for the first time, I visited France in two days, and spent the next few days. Tianneishan went to three European countries, including the Vatican. I have no impression of Fontainebleau Palace, I only know that it is similar to the Summer Palace.
  The name sounds romantic. Fontaine means autumn colors and red maple leaves, while Bailu means sunlight and dew. Now that I have plenty of free time, it’s okay to go again, and Fontainebleau in October really has a “maple” color. But what really attracted me was much more than that.
  The palace is not very big, at best it can be visited in an hour. Everything inside is reminiscent of the Palace of Versailles, which makes me feel prosperous and beautiful, amazing, but also too far away, but there are a lot fewer tourists in comparison, and even a bit of depression.
  The palace is surrounded by four parks, including typical French gardens and British gardens that were quite foreign at that time. Autumn has just arrived, and some tired leaves on both sides of the road have just started to turn yellow, and some extra tired ones have already fallen on the path. The palace is not very attractive to me, but such a vast and colorful park makes people feel very comfortable. But this is not all the beauty of Fontainebleau in autumn.
  Fontainebleau was originally the emperor’s palace and a place where they went hunting on vacation, so there is a forest a little farther away. There are many chestnut trees in that forest, and autumn is the time when chestnuts ripen and mushrooms grow. I dare not pick mushrooms, but I heard that after picking mushrooms in the Swiss forest, you can find a national registration expert to identify them for free, but France does not have such a good policy.
  Chestnuts are simple, there are only two possibilities. One is the poisonous horse chestnut that mainly grows in the city, and the other is the chestnut that mainly grows in the forest. The horse chestnut is round, without the small white pointed head of the chestnut, and does not have a slightly flat surface like the chestnut. Only one fruit can grow in the chestnut bud. For horse chestnut and chestnut, it does not require much wisdom and experience to distinguish clearly.
  French favorites, though, are confusing. Horse chestnut is called marron, but chestnut is called differently. However, various foods that use chestnut as the base use marron as the name, such as creme de marron, pate de marron, because they want to use marron to describe very full. Chestnut. Isn’t this confusing?
  From Paris to the south, chestnut trees are widely planted in forests, and the proportion of chestnut trees in some forests in Paris can reach 50%. There are wild chestnuts everywhere. They grow slowly in the forest. They bear fruit as they like, are eaten by insects as they like, and rot as they like.
  But how can I tolerate free chestnuts rotting in the forest? It would be a pity not to pick it up. I carried a red plastic bag, hurriedly left the carved dragon building of Fontainebleau Palace, and plunged into the forest.
  How to find the chestnut tree? I think the best way is to listen to the sound. The October forest is full of tiny crackling crackles. The ripe chestnut buds that opened their mouths fell from the tree, and the chestnuts hit the ground and rolled around. Li Bao looks like a sea urchin, covered with thorns, sharper than imagined. As long as you follow the cracking sound, if you find a big chestnut tree far away from the road, you can easily pick up ten catties of chestnuts. It’s just that after squatting frequently, my legs will feel weak the next day, like falling into the clouds.
  I never knew fresh chestnuts could be oily, it’s not quite brown but reddish. When the sun shines on it, it shines among the dull dead branches and rotten leaves, and even the tiny fluff is completely visible.
  Finding chestnuts is the same as counting stars. At first glance, you just feel at a loss. After you find one, spread it around carefully, and you will find more and more. Some chestnut buds have not been broken, and at least two plump fruits can be harvested with a single step. In short, after two hours, I unknowingly harvested a bag of chestnuts, which should weigh seven or eight catties.
  Sometimes I think I enjoy simple, repetitive physical labor because I don’t think about anything during the process, and I don’t even feel the passage of time. It’s getting dark fast and just rummaging around a tree has taken over all my thoughts, which is much more helpful than sitting at home saying “it is what it is”, but what to do after dark Woolen cloth?
  On that emotional afternoon, I sat on a bench by the lake facing the sun and squinted my eyes to rest. The setting sun was dazzling, and I could only see a wave of light. I suddenly thought, have I ever eaten chestnuts from the same tree as Napoleon or Louis XIII? Will they also like to sit by the lake and bask in the sunset?
  This is much better than visiting the palace!
  Go to Florence
  Perhaps no other city has such a dense collection of inexpensive museums as Florence.
  For two euros, I wandered under Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Dante, Dürer, Rembrandt, Titian, Caravaggio, patrons of the beginning of the Renaissance , Shuttle in the palace of the Medici family. Climb up the huge vault built more than 500 years ago, and you can touch the “Doomsday” with your hands. It is precisely because of this that, regardless of wind, frost, rain, snow, cold and heat, the footsteps of tourists always make the ground of the city hot.
  It is said that I am not a person with great artistic taste. I often forget the religious and academic meticulous brushwork. However, when I woke up in the morning, I thought that I would be able to talk with myself in the museum all day, and I still felt very happy in my heart. The warmth of the museum, the toilets, and the safe storage of bags is just too much to pass up.
  Whenever I travel, when the world seems too big, I hide in a museum. The disadvantage of traveling alone is that time passes too slowly, and a person can quickly finish watching the scenery alone, but other than that, it is all good.
  I can’t tell the truth about those works of art, and sometimes even after reading the introduction, I suddenly realize that I am standing in front of the authentic works that have been mentioned repeatedly in history books, and that they come from such famous creators. hand.
  I don’t even need to try to introduce those churches and monuments, not only because they are too overflowing in Europe, but also because they never measure time, but only represent degree, and degree can only be felt personally, and cannot be transmitted through media.
  I can’t describe to you what it’s like to be within arm’s reach of the Doomsday that covers the entire vault, or tell you how remote and small the whole city becomes after climbing the bell tower, or describe the reliquary How fragile and insignificant the remains of the bones appear.
  There are two main things that left an impression on me.
  One is the less famous Palazzo Vecchio compared to the Accademia Gallery and the Uffizi Gallery. Inside the hall of five hundred people, there are not only the drafts left by Da Vinci and Michelangelo on the wall, but also Dante’s death mask. Above all, though, it was a symbol of Florentine civic power. It is not difficult to think from the Hall of Five Hundred People to the core of democracy in the ancient Greek city-state Athens – the Council of Five Hundred People. They are very different, but the core is the same. It was once the town hall of the Florentine Republic, heralding an early form of democratic governance at a time when the tyranny of one man was still the rage in Europe. Just imagine, at the peak of the Renaissance, hundreds of people from all walks of life gather here to contemplate and debate, regardless of whether they can make the most sensible suggestions or come up with the most efficient solutions, how many people can this inspire? Thoughts, how active the cultural atmosphere of the city is. Only with such conditions for people to speak and discuss can the art and culture of Florence lead the whole of Europe on the basis of economic prosperity.

  The other is the Medici Chapel of the Basilica of San Lorenzo. There are sculptures of the last member of the Medici family who sponsored the Renaissance and who donated the entire family collection to the city, with the only proviso that it be open to the public.
  As the museum closes and the sun turns from bright white to warm, that’s the time to go to Piazzale Michelangelo. In the square, you can overlook the Arno River passing through the city, and you can also see the whole picture of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Because the church is too huge, it is impossible to see its whole picture without jumping out of the city. However, it also looks small in the dense low vermilion roofs.
  At sunset every day, there are countless tourists, especially lovers, sitting on the stone steps of the square, watching the daylight gradually disappear from the sky over the city, and the night covers the city. Each of them felt that they would be special, as everyone in this city had thought for hundreds of years.
  There can’t be a more beautiful island.
  When I was cycling in Brittany, I suddenly had the illusion that I was carrying the whole world on my shoulders. The uphill here is so long and steep, it’s almost to the point that if you don’t advance, you will retreat. I am like Sisyphus carrying a heavy boulder, walking painfully and slowly on the hillside. On the way, I couldn’t help but suspect that the bicycle speed on Google Maps must have been calculated according to the speed of the Tour de France athletes. Otherwise, why did I ride for a full hour for the 10-kilometer journey marked as 30 minutes?
  The value of time is relative. For me, spending time on things I want to do is better than scratching my head in front of the computer. Originally, I stayed on the island for a full 24 hours, but who would have thought that due to my weakness and weakness, I would have to set aside about three hours for each scenic spot to go back and forth. Sweat trickled down the corners of my eyes as I watched others speed by on motorcycles. But when I finally left those colorful small villages and reached the cliff by the sea, the sea breeze blew away my sweat and my mind full of complaints.
  There are long trails built along the coast of the island. If you want to, you can walk for several hours. I rode my bike along the coast, and when I saw a beautiful scenery there, I pushed the bike to the side of the road and ran to the beach. Follow the trail all the way down to the beach, or walk along the cliffs by the sea to the distance. Les Aiguilles de Port-Coton (Coton Port) is famous because the road here is more than ten meters above the sea, even tens of meters high. Along the coastline of the island, you can see many hills made of black rocks scattered in the sea, like fragments of the island. The tallest ones are more than ten meters high, and some are twisted in strange shapes, like hands stretching out of the sea.
  I have been traveling in Europe for three years, and I have visited many places in China, and I have seen countless natural scenery. However, the scenery here still makes me cry out the moment I see it. It’s almost like being in Iceland, not like being in Brittany. The rock of the island comes from the solidified magma after the volcanic eruption, which is very fragile under the erosion of the waves day and night. Therefore, the reefs standing in the sea now were actually part of small islands before, they were smashed by the waves and scattered in the sea. Now and in the future, the sea is eating up the island little by little every day until it is completely submerged in the sea.
  Standing by the seaside and looking at those strange strange hands that seemed to grow out of the sea, I suddenly felt a sense of openness. Those things that bothered me and made my thoughts that were always upset for no reason became insignificant. road. I’m one of those people who has five thousand roses in their garden and can’t find the one they want. However, in front of such a sea, I suddenly felt that I could only hold the waves and the wind in my heart, and they filled every gap in my heart. I resolved to look up at the wide sky more often, to see the color of the wheat, to care about the war between the sheep and the flowers.
  When you don’t want to move forward, you can ride your bicycle and go further until you stop again. When I was riding my bicycle, I met a hedgehog crossing the road more slowly than me, a golden pheasant that would not run away even two meters away from me, and a rabbit hopping around the wooden fence. Looking out of the hotel window at night, there are even foxes. Of course, it’s also possible that I had more than eight hours of riding in total, so the chances of seeing them were greatly increased.
  There are almost no people on the island, and the city can’t be said to be very special. It is the kind of coastal town that is used to being sunny all year round and spoiled by good weather. At the northernmost point of the island, there is also a famous small peninsula. The coastline here is particularly tortuous and broken, with boulders scattered at the foot of the cliffs. Since there is no shelter, the sea wind is extremely strong, and the waves are also extremely strong, so they patiently cut the rocks on the island. In this most remote corner, on the seaside without any people, there is a small lighthouse on the cliff. The lighthouse was built in 1867 and looks like a small church.
  Compared with the waves and the steep cliffs, it is too small to be worth mentioning. It seems that it will be blown into the sea with just a gust of wind. It was not until 1987 that the last keeper of the lighthouse left. I imagined that once on this small island far away from the land, beside the broken coastline, there was a person who lit a lamp in such a fragile house on the cliff every night, waiting for the passing ships.
  This is simply the kind of life that Byron’s characters have.
  [Author profile] Shi Xiaohan, female, member of the Chinese Writers Association, member of the Chinese Prose Society, was selected into the Guangdong Army Creation Support Program for Guangdong Youth Literature. Published a collection of essays “Clouds in the Blue Sky, Water in the Bottle”, “I have something to eat, separated from a distant country”, “Endless Distance”. His works have been awarded the 8th “Shenzhen Top Ten Best Books”, selected in the 2021 Shenzhen Reading Month “National Top Ten Workers’ Literature Good Books” and “The Most Popular Books by the Public”, and won the 5th Guangdong Province Periodical Outstanding Works Won the second prize and other awards in the selection of works.

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