Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pyramid = Dead Horse

Résidence La Pyramide, Foix
Foix.  Unless you're a Medievalist, you may never have heard of it.  But Foix dates back to the time of Charlemagne, and its rulers, the Counts of Foix, once ruled a County larger than the Kingdom of France....and were certainly more powerful.  That is, until they weren't.  Simon de Montfort, dickhead supreme, never took its famous castle.  As we still happily celebrate in these parts, Old Simon got his head crushed by a stone flung from the ramparts of Toulouse, from a catapult operated by women, so they say, during another of his unsuccessful sieges.  Fortunately for the Toulousains.  "Kill 'em and let God sort 'em out"?  That's a paraphrase from de Montfort, who put some 20+ thousand residents of Béziers to the sword after he captured that unfortunate burg.

Foix is well-known to French kids due to the following lil' ditty, which is a way of illustrating the weirdness of French:  four spellings, four different meanings, with the same pronunciation:

Il était une fois,
Dans la ville de Foix,
Une marchande de foie,
Qui vendait du foie...
Elle se dit : Ma foi,
C'est la première fois
Et la dernière fois,
Que je vends du foie,
Dans la ville de Foix

In English is makes less sense, but this is what it means:

Once upon a time
In the town of Foix
A liver merchant
Selling liver [like, duh!]
Said to himself:  My lord
This is the first time
And the last time
That I sell liver
In the town of Foix

Foix is a sub-Prefecture of the Ariège, a mountainous department on the Spanish border.  It's coat of arms features red and yellow stripes, resembling that of both Catalonia and Aragon.  Historically, this area has longer links with Spain than France.  It's deep in Occitan country, not far from Montségur, where the Albigensian Crusade came to its horrible end as hundreds of "heretical" Cathars were burned alive, en masse.

There are also caves galore around here, a paleolithic paradise.  People have been living here for a very, very long time.

Monuments aux Morts, Foix

Anyway, I just wanted to show a photo of an HLM, or public housing building, called "The Pyramid" with a pyramid-shaped entrance, just down the road from the WW1 monument, an obelisk, which marks the entrance of Foix's town center.  As the title of this post suggests, I've flogged this topic a lot, but it never ceases to amaze me how the French still work the pyramid into their architecture in all sorts of contexts:  parks, monuments, border crossings and here, public housing.  I'm not sure I even need to go into the irony of using a pyramid in the design of public housing.

So, follow my tag for "pyramids" and you'll find more discussion.  At this point, I'm just cataloging examples.

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