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Saturday 16 November 2013

Fontevraud and the Vendee

Have been meaning to write a post about our weekend away all week but the days have just slipped away! Anyway, here is a brief(ish!) account of our travels.

On Friday we drove north from here - about three and a half hours - to Fontevraud which is in the Loire valley, roughly between Saumur and Chinon.
I have long wanted to visit the Abbey at Fontevraud and once got as far as the entrance only to find that then they closed for lunch and we needed to be on our way. However, now they are open all day which is much more civilised!
Fontevraud's main claim to fame for the English is that two of our Kings and a Queen were buried there. Sadly their remains are long gone but their effigies still remain and are given centre stage in the beautifully restored Abbey church.

These are the effigies of HenryII and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor is represented holding a book which is significant as it is the first time that a woman was shown  that way - up until then women were just represented with crossed hands.

Their son, Richard the Lion Heart is also there.
The fourth effigie is of Isabelle of Angouleme who was the wife of John Lackland, Henry and Eleanor's youngest son.
Unusually it is carved from wood.

I loved the ironwork on the Chruch doors - especially the little faces!

The Abbey was founded in 1101 and was a religious comunity for both men and women although unusually, according to wishes of the founder, Robert d'Arbrissel, an abbess was always in authority! The last abbess left the abbey in 1792 when it was closed due to the Revolution.
When it re-opened in the early 1800's it was converted into a prison for both men and women and was considered one of the toughest in France. It remained a prison until 1965. During that time parts of the abbey were open to the public but since then extensive restorations have taken place and still are.

Chapelle St Benoit

There is masses to see here including this amazing light installation by Claude Leveque in what was once the monks dormitory.
And this amazing construction which was the kitchens.
 The main chimney which was surrounded by a series of smaller chimneys.

Lots more lovely things but too many to show here. A great visit and I hope I go again.

On Saturday it rained, and rained, and rained..................
However, we had places to see so off we went. We had stayed overnight in Cholet (no sign of Madam Cholet sadly) and headed further west into the Vendee.
Our first stop was la Chabotterie a beautiful house which was the scene of the arrest of General Charette at the end of the counter revolution in the Vendee in 1796.
Unfortunately we had not done our research quite well enough as it was closed for renovations! However, we were able to walk around the park and had a view of the amazing gardens.

Such a shame we could not get inside.

Well, that is all I have time for - the rest of our Vendee trip will have to wait.

Have a good weekend


1 comment:

  1. Hello Lin,

    Thanks so much for these wonderful photo's and info. I would love to visit places like this, thankfully I don't have to leave home when I can see them on your blog. I am always amazed that buildings like this could have been made without the technical buildings things we have nowadays.

    Happy days.


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