Henri Toulouse-Lautrec's Cane
Lautrec's cane was a support for him in two ways. Firstly it was a walking stick that helped him move about on his deformed legs. Secondly, it was specially made for him at his design to contain a central glass chamber in which he carried a goodly supply of cognac for times of need. This remarkable device is exhibited in the museum in his honor, among personal objects and photographs, all of which you are not allowed to photograph (as if they were works of art). We found this photo of him with his cane. The stigma of Lautrec's mis-shapen appearance weighed heavily upon him. Sadly when he lived (around 1900) the scientific cause of his deformity was totally unknown; nor did anyone realize that it affected his hands as well or that his bones were fragile and subject to micro-fractures.(Perhaps alcohol was an analgesic for him). His father and mother were first cousins and besides his being the last in the line of the Counts of Toulouse, he inherited an autosomal recessive gene from each parent that produced a form of dyschondroplastic dwarfism. This rare defect has been the source of one type of dwarf who are otherwise normal and long lived. They have been the favorites of monarchs. (Velazquez painted one in Las Meninas and other works; Cuvillies was an architect in Munich). The defect has been carefully inbred in dachshunds and bassethounds. The disease is a failure of proper bone growth from the cartilage of long bones (extremities , fingers, toes) Flat bones (skull and vertebrae) develop differently and are not affected. This produces an individual with a normal torso and head (think of a dachshund) with short legs (and arms). Such is human adaptability, that Lautrec could use his extremities, especially his hands, and in spite of his difficulty this may have driven him to be such a good sketcher.
All sorts of mints in St Salvy
The cloister of St Salvy is not really off the beaten paths, specially the locals who walk through for a short cut between rue Maries and rue St Julien or Ste Cecile Since my last visit, the central part of the cloister garden has been laid out like a medieval herb garden; basil, thyme, borage, parsley. . . and mints! Mints, lots of mints! I had never noticed there were so many mints used for culinary or medicinal purposes! I knew plain mint, peppermint, Moroccan mint, and. . . that’s it. . . but there is also Spanish mint, crisp mint, deer mint, apple mint, cologne mint, pineapple mint, etc, etc. . . Common mint is used to help digestion or as a breath system antiseptic, but the others? Generally, they have the same properties, and some of them are cultivated for their essential oils, which are slightly perfumed, like chocolate mint (After Eight?), cologne mint. . . .
It is just fun and nice to comb the plants with the hand and then smell the hand and try to find if the name is appropriate, and to be amazed how the shapes of leaves are different, as well as the silhouettes of the plants.
The medieval gardens were surrounded by wicker lattices (picture 1), allowing the earth to be higher than the alleys: the ground was not so far for the arthritic monks and more seriously, the plants were protected from pests like mole crickets, mole rats, . . .
Crisp mint and peppermint (foreground) were blooming. . . (picture 2), whilst Spanish mint and Swiss mint (right) displayed light yellow-green leaves (picture 3).
The Cologne water mint has relatively tough leaves, and you see it on picture 4 with basil in the lower right corner and a red blooming sage upper right: a feast for the nose. . . . .
The apple mint (picture 5) has dark sub-rounded leaves. . . . there are many more in this garden which gives a bit a medieval character to the St Salvy cloister.
Place du Cloître St Salvy; Entrance of the church: rue Mariès
Rue Mariès or Sainte-Cécile, 81000 Albi
Le Vieil Albi: Hotel de Reynes
The Hotel is next to the Prefecture. It was the home of a rich merchant and now is the seat of the Chamber of Commerce. It has an inner courtyard entered through an impressive gate on the street. The courtyard is fronted by two a stone dressed arcade and gallery with a brick tower in the corner. In the courtyard is an ancient well (another sign of wealth). The two-light windows have sturdy stone carved central posts, mostly decorated with female figures. On one wall a carving displays the busts of Francois I and his second wife, Eleanor of Austria.