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Béarn and the Pyrenees A Legendary Tour to the Country of Henri Quatre   By: (1799-1870)

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BÉARN AND THE PYRENEES:

A Legendary Tour to the Country of Henri Quatre.

by

LOUISA STUART COSTELLO,

Author of "The Bocages and the Vines," "A Pilgrimage to Auvergne," Etc.

With numerous Illustrations.

In Two Volumes.

London: Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street, Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty. 1844. Printed by R. Clay, Bread Street Hill.

TO MISS BURDETT COUTTS, THESE VOLUMES ARE DEDICATED WITH MUCH RESPECT AND AFFECTION BY HER SINCERELY OBLIGED HUMBLE SERVANT, LOUISA STUART COSTELLO. LONDON, MARCH 16, 1844.

INTRODUCTION.

When I first indulged the inclination, which I had long entertained, of visiting the famous castle of Chinon, and the equally interesting abbey of Fontevraud the palace and tomb of our English kings and paused on my way in "the lovely vales of Vire," and gathered in romantic Brittany some of her pathetic legends, I thought I should have satisfied my longing to explore France; but I found that every step I look in that teeming region opened to me new stores of interest; and, encouraged by the pleasure my descriptions had given, I set out again, following another route, to the regal city of Rheims, visiting the vine covered plains of Champagne and Burgundy, and all their curious historical towns, till I reached the dominion of Charles the Seventh at Bourges, to become acquainted with whose gorgeous cathedral and antique palaces is worth any fatigue. From thence I wandered on to the beautiful Monts Dores, and the basaltic regions of unexplored Le Vellay; and, after infinite gratification, I once more turned my steps homeward; but, like Sindbad, I felt that there was much more yet to be explored; and I had visions of the romantic and delightful realms, which extend where once the haughty heiress of Aquitaine held her poetical courts of Love and Chivalry. The battle fields of our Black Prince were yet to be traced; the sites of all the legends and adventures of the most entertaining of chroniclers, Froissart, were yet to be discovered; and the land of mountains and torrents, where the Great Béarnais passed his hardy childhood, was yet unknown to me.

I therefore again assumed my "cockle hat and staff," and, re entering the Norman territory, commenced exploring, from the stone bed of the Conqueror, at Falaise, to the tortoise shell cradle of Henry of Navarre, at Pau.

Not inferior to my two former pilgrimages, in interest, did this my third ramble prove. How many "old romantic towns" I passed through; how much of varied lore I heard and found amongst the still original and, even now, unsophisticated peasantry; how numerous were the recollections which places and things recalled, and how pleasant were the scenes I met, I have endeavoured to tell the lovers of easy adventure for any traveller, with the slightest enterprise, could accomplish what I have done without fatigue, and with the certainty of being repaid for the exertion of seeking for amusement.

In succession, I paused at Le Mans, the scene of the great Vendéean struggle, where the majestic cathedral challenges the admiration of all travellers of taste; at Poitiers, full of antique wonders; in the region of the Serpent lady , Melusine; at Protestant La Rochelle, with all its battlements and turrets, and the most beautiful bathing establishment in Europe. At mysterious Saintes, and all its pagan temples and arches; at Bordeaux, the magnificent; on the Garonne, and by its robbers' castles; at Agen, with its barber troubadour ; in the haunts of Gaston de Foix and Jeanne d'Albret and her son; in the gloomy valleys of the proscribed Cagot; and where the mellifluous accents of the Basquaise enchant the ear... Continue reading book >>




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