Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland.

[Footnote 24:  The most curious pit of this kind is the frais-puits of Vesoul, in the Vosgian Jura, which pours forth immense quantities of water after rain has fallen in the neighbourhood.  The water rushes out in the shape of a fountain, and on one occasion, in November 1557, saved the town of Vesoul from pillage by a passing army.  This pit is carefully described by M. Hassenfratz, in the Journal de Physique, t. xx. p. 259 (an. 1782), where he says that Caesar was driven away from the town of Vesoul, which he had intended to besiege, by the floods of water poured forth from the frais-puits.  I know of no such incident in Caesar’s life, though M. Hassenfratz quotes Caesar’s own words:  the town of Vesoul, too, had no historical existence before the 9th or 10th century of our era.  There is also a pit near Vesoul which contains icicles in summer, and may be the same as the frais-puits, for the old historian of Franche Comte, Gollut, in describing the latter, mentions that it is so cold that no one cares to explore it (pp. 91. 92).]

[Footnote 25:  See p. 122.]

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The grand and lovely scenery of the Val de Travers has at length been opened up for the ordinary tourist world, by the railway which connects Pontarlier with Neufchatel.  The beauties of the valley are an unfortunate preparation for the dull expanse of ugly France which greets the traveller passing north from the former town; but the country soon assumes a pleasanter aspect, and nothing can be more charming than the soft green slopes, dotted with the richest pines, which form the approach to the station of Boujeailles.  It is impossible for the most careless traveller to avoid observing the ill effects produced upon the trees on the south side of the forest of Chaux, by the crowded and neglected state in which they have been left, and the wet state of the soil.  The branches become covered with moss, which first kills them, and then breaks them off, so that many tall and tapering sapins point their heads to the sky with trunks wholly guiltless of branches; while in other cases, where decay has not yet gone so far, the branches wear the appearance of gigantic stags’ horns, with the velvet; and when a number of these interlace, the mosses unite in large dark patches, giving a cedar-like air to the scene of ruin.

Up to this point, an elderly Frenchman in the carriage had been extremely offensive, from the evil odour of his Macintosh coat; but in answer to a remark upon the improvement which the railway would effect, by providing ventilation for the forest, he gave so much information on that subject, and gave it so pleasantly, and had evidently so good a knowledge of the topography of Franche Comte, that his coat speedily lost its smell, and we became excellent friends.

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Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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