15 July 2007

Here There Be Dragons

A few weeks ago I happened across an interesting article.

John Howe, the famous Tolkien illustrator and one of the art directors on Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy, was mounting a special exhibit of artwork inspired by Tolkien's epic work in the small village of St. Ursanne. (For more information on John Howe, the movies and the exhibit itself, please click on the imbedded links above.)

I showed the article to GLH and we immediately decided we must go. It seemed too special to miss. Last Sunday was the day we made the journey into this small village in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. And, as it turned out, into the fantasized past.

Unbeknownst to us, we happened to select the weekend of the annual Medieval Fest in St. Ursanne.

Trust me when I say that it was much better than a standard Renaissance Festival!

In addition to the wonderful works artfully inserted amongst the historic structures...

Were craftspeople and artisans, exhibiting the traditional methods of their art. And dressed in costumes to boot...

I couldn't figure out why children stood in line to be locked in the stocks and spanked with a wooden paddle while onlookers laughed and their parents documented the event with their cameras...

Although we greatly enjoyed the festival, we did find the number of people created barriers to the views of the art. Therefore, if we have time we may return to this jewel of a village nestled in a valley in the Jura Mountain range. I would encourage others to make the trek as well.

But hurry, the exhibit runs through September 2nd and then the magical creatures will be gone.

One note: although you can take public transportation to St. Ursanne, depending upon where you are starting it may require a few transfers and relying upon a rural bus route with a limited schedule. If you do not have a car, I recommend renting one for the journey. Or acting real friendly towards someone who already owns one!


Kirk said...

We have fond memories of Saint-Ursanne because we took a day trip there last year and Gretchen went into labor the very next day. Very charming little town, and even in the absence of a festival there was at least some funky art around town.

Expat Traveler said...

now that looks incredible!!! I think you ran into good fortune or at least a great set of pics to show off to us! Thanks for posting them... They are beautiful.

Greg said...

St. Ursanne is great. We've been there two or three times now. There's a great little walk up to a little Hermitage.

You can get there via the train that goes to Porrentruy. The railway station is up the hill from town. It's a bit of a walk, probably 15 minutes or so.

On one of my trips I shot some video and put it up on my .mac site.