December 9, 2022

Day 10 – Lourdes and a visit to the Larrey museum in Beaudéan and film in Bagnères-de-Bigorre

The night was wet and several heavier storms went through up until about 10 in the morning, after that a light to heavy drizzle set in. My weather app was more optimistic but didn´t tie in well with the view outside. I had fortunately got towels and socks hanging outside in before retiring to bed but still everything seemed to be wet round the edges. At about 10am a campsite bakery man came round a sold me a special pyrenean monster blueberry muffin which was good as I´d forgotten to order croissants et cetera so I started on this sitting under the sunshadow in a more than light drizzle and resolved to make a go for Beaudéan and the Larrey museum which, as previously mentioned, was open today from 10-18. I put on layer by layer and eventually my rain oversuit (rain bag), took some dry clothes and spare shoes with me and got the bike going. It was a very wet and slippery 38 minutes creeping round corners and teetering about as quite a lot of leaves had come down and I coundn´t see a huge amount as visor was rained up or steamed up or both. Anyway, finally got there, went in, had a chat with the lady at the information, various local men were going round in full blown napoleonic uniform with swords and all the accessoires, one was, in fact, a replica of Larrey´s uniform. The museum is very interesting if you know a bit about Larrey and speak and read some French. I had started his memoirs volume 4 last night with his accounts of the beginning of the Russian campaign in 1812 and found it fascinating to read an account by someone who had experienced it, from a surgical point of view it was also an eye-opener. With his team of 30 surgeons and “flying ambulance” teams he had to deal with 150 wounded after a minor skirmish or up to 6500 wounded after a more major engagement! Middle size hospitals these days get into trouble if more than 3 injured turn up at the same time but 6500 is just inconceivable.

The museum has an interesting selection of items from Larrey´s era and work. Also numerous certificates, for example, for acceptance into the Legion d´honneur, there are also films about his area of the Pyrenees and the period of his life.

Although orphaned as a child, he was taken on by his uncle in Toulouse who was a prominent surgeon and thus found his way into surgery. He pursued medicine and, specifically, surgery and was found to be intelligent, talented and a hard worker. His early adult life was the time of the French revolution and the ascent of Napoleon. Thus by way of hard work and fortune, he became the head of military surgery and was greatly appreciated by Napoleon and by his soldiery. By the end of the day with all the impressions from the museum, reading his memoirs and later the film I was truly impressed by the person Larrey, dedicated, talented and intelligent, ingenious, organised and an excellent pre-planner but never interested in rank, fame or hierarchy, he treated all whether general, simple soldier or enemy combatant.

After this I returned to the site in the afternoon, it was pretty cold and drizzly and the only consolation was being temporarily adopted by a cat.

the cat adopted me for a while

In the evening I set off again for Bagnères-de-Bigorre again with all my rain stuff on, now all damp pretty much everywhere. The ride was uninspiring and wet, the film was to be shown at “Le Maintenon” a small cinema, after a while all of us, quite a crowd, were let in, among us all sorts I recognised from the museum and several more also in various napoleonic uniforms.

The film itself was about 15 minutes long, was directed by Guillaume Main and staring Marco Longo. I thought the film was excellent and really brought over the atmosphere of the Napoleonic era well, the battle scenes were very intense and shot from close up in the “Saving Private Ryan” style . Larrey was shown working on the front line on wounded soldiers dodging bullets and being the battlefield surgeon, what a brave man as the Napoleonic battlefield looked like a nightmarish place to be. Marco Longo managed to protray Larrey very convincingly.

After the film I managed to have a chat with Marco Longo with whom I had had a LinkedIn-exchange some months previously. Congratulations to all others involved in the film. Then back to the tent on the bike in the dark and now only very light drizzle.

Larrey on the field of battle:

As I fell asleep in the tent I could hear “Ave Maria” being sung in the Sanctuaire in the distance and it reminded me of this in Montreux (youtube link).

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2wheels, adventure, ecology, dad and husband, green, news, tech-fan, trauma- and orthopod, engineer and human. https://mstdn.social/@MarkDW

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