Espalion reflecting in the Lot river
Spring finally sprang this weekend, which made me want to get out and go anywhere and everywhere.
On Sunday, besides taking a nice hike on the nature paths around my house, I made a lightening-quick visit to nearby Espalion: population about 4,300.
Espalion is one of Aveyron's larger villages, or smaller towns, and every time I head north to it, I tell myself I should go more often.
Espalion has plenty of personality. It is home to a most unusual museum, Le Musée du Scaphandre, which somehow sounds much better in French than "The Diving Suit Museum."
I'm not sure if it's the only diving suit museum in the world, but I would bet that it's the only one housed in a church.
So why is this off-beat museum here?
According to Wikipedia: Benoît Rouquayrol was born on June 13, 1826, at Espalion... In 1864, with the help of the French Navy lieutenant Auguste Denayrouze (also of Aveyron), Rouquayrol created the first diving suit. This diving suit won the gold medal at the 1867 World's Fair, and drew the attention of author Jules Verne. Verne included the diving suit in his fictional depiction of a contemporary submarine voyage, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.
Rouquayrol died on November 14, 1875 at Rodez, Aveyron, France.
So that is how we have ended up with a diving suit museum in Aveyron.
I've been there before, but I think it is time for a new visit once the museum opens for the tourist season.
Aveyron or Provence?
Much like Rodez, Espalion does not display an overwhelming degree of architectural unity.
Definitely Aveyron -- not Provence
But I find this fascinating, and would like to know of the history behind the many different architectural styles of the area.
A cool book shop
There is a lovely little bookshop in Espalion and, given the problems independent booksellers are having here -- as everywhere -- I vowed to come back on a Saturday and buy a few paper books.
A new word for me...
Boulangerie, sandwicherie, boucherie, crêperie...I thought I knew every word ending in -erie for a French food establishment.
How could I have missed "Tarterie"?
This looks like another good reason to go back to Espalion on a Saturday...