Friday, 17 August 2012

Model Wonders: Part 4

Many people say to me, "Nev, I love hearing about the world's greatest man-made structures, especially when I can see photos of you standing next to them. However, I love it even more when you buy cheap, tacky models of them and put them on your website."

To which I say, "Well, here's some more."

(For the first three in the series, click here, here, and here.)


France was a pleasure for model buying. Anything that can be represented in model form, thimble form, snow globe form, fridge magnet form, or tea towel form most assuredly is, and Carcassonne was no exception. The historic, medieval walled town is bursting at the gills with tacky shops as you enter the main gateway, and within less than a minute I realised that buying a miniature representation of the town would prove no obstacle whatsoever. I had a choice of several, with two different large ones being the main contenders, so opted for the biggest and most accurate, for around €20.

Albi Cathedral

Right by the square outside Albi Cathedral are two fairly large souvenir shops, with more postcards than you can shake a monkey at, and full of just total rubbish that can have no use for any man, woman, child, or whatever. Curiously though, I couldn't see any models of the cathedral. Sometimes this kind of revelation fills me with a clammy horror, but as the cathedral wasn't on my Wonder list, I had no obligation to buy a model of it, so could relax. Besides, on the way from the car to the cathedral, I'd already seen a model, oddly enough in a newsagents that had no other nods to tourist tat. €12 - and it means I don't have to worry about buying it when I visit it in an official capacity.

Millau Viaduct

This model couldn't have been easier - it was on sale in the visitor centre shop (which took up about 50% of the visitor centre). It wasn't cheap, at around €28, but I suppose I'll have to accept that European prices aren't going to rival Asian ones. To make this model even more stress-free (and some models can be quite stressful to procure), it was on the visitor centre website, so I was able to anticipate its purchase, knowing it would be waiting for me.

The Palace of the Popes in Avignon

This followed a similar story to the Albi Cathedral one - a newsagent near the car park had a host of decent models, whereas the souvenir shops right outside the Palace did not. Well, they did have one, after a little searching, but it was more expensive and less appealing than the newsagent's. I think this cost less than €8.

Nimes Arena

 €10 from a souvenir shop in a nearby square, although I could have bought it in the Arena shop. Sometimes France makes these things too easy.

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Here's a little bonus. During my visit to Bangkok, I'd struggled to get anything better than a fridge magnet of Thailand's most holy site. But popping onto Ebay the other day, I found this - a 3D jigsaw version of the temple, from Hong Kong. £32 including postage. It turns out it's pretty big, massive in fact, and unquestionably the biggest model I've got, something Danielle is "delighted" about. Although it doesn't feature the actual chapel the Emerald Buddha is kept in (an odd oversight), it doesn't feature the other three main buildings, and was quite enjoyable to assemble over an evening.

These models are beginning to take up more and more space - and we're still not even a quarter of the way there! - so I've bought some furniture to keep them together and display them.

 The top of a bookcase helps too.

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