Thursday, March 27, 2014


Jean-Dominique Bauby, the author of this week's review book, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, was hospitalized at Berck-sur-Mer while he wrote the book, and he writes a lot about it.

If you have to be hospitalized, might as well be somewhere nice, right?
Berck-sur-Mer (or simply Berck) is in the far north of France, in the Pas de Calais region. As the name suggests (to francophones, anyway), it is on the water: the English Channel, specifically.

The hospital there began its work, in the mid-19th century, as a center for treating tuberculosis. This was a time when sea bathing was considered beneficial for all sorts of maladies, so other hospitals and centers sprung up.

File:Berck - L'église Saint Jean Baptiste.JPG
The church, St. John the Baptiste
There is a lighthouse too (originally the stone tower of the church, St. John the Baptiste) which is no longer in use as a lighthouse. I presume (based only on a guess of my own) that the lighthouse on the cover of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is meant to be that tower.

Berck-sur-mer's Kite Festival
Having steady sea breezes, Berck has been used for aeronautical experimentation as early as 1887. Nowadays, they hold a kite festival that seems to be a pretty big draw for tourists.

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