Now that we have been driving a Peugeot since April, we are temporarily very brand loyal and just had to visit the Peugeot museum in Sochaux to experience its history.
If you own a Peugeot, you could be talking about a pepper mill, coffee grinder, sewing machine, vacuum cleaner, or a bicycle. (In fact, we had Peugeot bikes in the 70’s.) The family business that preceded the current Peugeot company was founded in 1810, and manufactured coffee mills and bicycles, among other things. Those boys were just gear-crazy, it seems.
It’s an old family company and an old brand. In 1858, Emile Peugeot applied for the lion trademark. Armand Peugeot built the company’s first car, but due to lots of family fighting, he went his own way and in 1896 founded the Société des Automobiles Peugeot. We got lost in the relationships, but seems like the bike side and the car side got more amicable later. But it’s the car side that is wonderful to see. How come our powerful efficient cars can’t be as lovely as these beauties were? The collection is fabulous – and even includes a Pope-mobile.. (John and Angella – this post is for you.)
And then we moved on to the second lion in our story, which is the emblem of the city of Belfort. It is located on the strategically important natural route between the Rhine and the Rhône, the Belfort Gap, also called the Burgundian Gate. It is the largest metro region in Franche-Comté, with a history that began in neolithic times, and rulers that included Austria as well as Monaco. It is so close to Switzerland and Germany that its cuisine and culture are much different that other parts of France, a real melting pot.
We had a fabulous lunch here, which immediately disposed us favorably to the town. The owner of the restaurant was quite charming, with excellent English learned in Idaho, where he had been an exchange student. Idaho? But he has traveled a great deal in the US and we got to dish about one of our favorite restaurants in New York, Jean-Georges. We didn’t know that Jean-Georges Vongerichten was Alsatian, but we go back to New York much better informed. Kudos to Les Capucins.
Now, for the lion. The Siege of Belfort in 1871 was successfully resisted until the garrison was ordered to surrender 21 days after the armistice between France and Prussia. Because this part of Alsace was French-speaking, while the rest of Alsace was German-speaking, the area around Belfort was not annexed by the Prussians. The siege is commemorated by a huge statue, the Lion of Belfort, by Frédéric Bartholdi, of Statue of Liberty fame. It crowns this lovely city with great vigor.