We are leaving the Loire today!
We started our last day in the Loire at the village called D'Azay le Ridieau.
The fifteenth century chateau at d'Azay le Ridieu is built on an island on the Indre river. Surrounded on all four sides by water, it can only be reached by bridge. It is much smaller than the other castles in the area and very interesting. King Francois I seized the castle from his royal treasurer Giles Berthelot accusing the treasurer of embezzling funds. Psyche, the wife of Eros the Greek god of love is depicted in many tapestries inside. I just enjoy standing in the rooms listening to the memories of all the people who have resided here.
Candes Saint Martin is a gorgeous village on the banks of the Vienne river, on a confluence with the Loire, on a small hill. In the 4th century, St. Martin arrived secretly in the village, destroyed their pagan temple (although remains of the earlier building can be seen) and converted the residents. When he died in the village he was laid to rest in what is now one of the chapels in the church. I'm sure I've read somewhere that St.Martin is the patron saint of pub and innkeepers?
It is amazing to me to be standing in a village that has been here since before the 4th century. Perhaps it's because I live in Melbourne, where the oldest house is only just over 100 years old. I find being here in these old, gorgeous villages something quite special.
Lovely vegetable gardens of the locals
This vegetable garden has the most amazing views out over the sandbanks of the river, people fishing and splashing...
A tumbling down old building built into a cave in the hillside - still the vegetable garden is well tended!
Tall hollyhocks towering over Master Bok everywhere
Apple trees spilling over old stone walls
Loving the fragrance of honeysuckle everywhere. I can't seem to get this to grow back home!!
These roads are so narrow! Had to fold in the side mirrors.
Next stop - Fontevraud Abbey - an amazing place, the largest and most extraordinary of its kind in France.
The road to the abbey is gorgeous. Wheat fields, sunflower fields, woods then the abbey in the distance...
Cornfields on the right, sunflower fields on the left...
The first hen house I've seen! No hens in sight but plenty of hay in there. I think perhaps they are hiding under the bridge away from the sun ( 34 degrees or so that car tells me)
Fontevraud Abbey was founded in 1101 by Robert d'Arbrissel, 'an itinerant priest and significant personality of the period' - what do you think that means? I'd love to know! It brought together men and women in a religious community ruled by the authority of an abbess - women! - for 700 years, many of the abbesses were royal family members. King Henry II's widow, Eleanor of Aquitane, became a nun there. She is buried here. The abbey became a monastic city obeying rules similar to those of St Benedict - prayer, manual labour, silence and caring for the sick. It had a leper colony and became a refuge for battered women and prostitutes. It is a huge complex built over 34 acres.
Monastic life ended with the Revolution where it was taken over by the state and used as a prison in 1804. It held up to 2000 people (men, women, children) and was one of the roughest prisons. In 1963, prison life ended and a restoration campaign began. The last abbess died in poverty in Paris. After ten centuries of enclosed life, Fontevraud became the contemporary and open city that we visited today.
Nave of the abbey church
The tablets on the floor are biblical texts. On the right are the tombs of four people including Richard I of England (Lionheart), Isabella of Angouleme, King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitane
The building above houses the Abbey kitchens. It is in a Byzantine style brought back by the crusades, the building differs from the other buildings in the abbey by its Charente stone, harder than tuffeau and more resistant to heat and has an octagonal shape. It has 21 chimneys decorated with fish scales and has eight radiating chambers. These eight kithens, known as smoke rooms, were used for smoking fish, the staple diet of the nuns. The fish were reared in the abbey ponds or from the Loire fisheries or the sea. Depending on the direction of the wind, they lit one or other of the chambers the smoke then rose and filled the central conduit.
Don't you love the gargoyle below? Sticking out its tongue - very fitting for a gargoyle attached to a kitchen :)
Below are the abbey gardens. The gardens are arranged in a precise and regular way. Vegetables and fruit provided the staple diet for the nuns which also included eggs, dairy, fish, bread and wine.
The garden is planted with vegetables (root crops, pulses like chickpeas and white beans, leafy vegetables) and herbs. Some vegetables were used for herbal medicine such as chard for its virtues on bites or onion which is an antiseptic and soothes wasp stings apparently! Medicinal herbs are cultivated...see if you can recognise one of them below!
Look what I found in the abbey's herb garden! I'm sure you know what it is...
Look what else I found in the abbey's vegie garden! An acrobatic photo shoot was taking place in the potager grounds...
So many ladybirds!!
I wonder what kind of tangle my garden is turning into at home...?
Back on the road today...speeding away from the hot sunny Loire and towards Troyes...