Thursday, September 26

France 2013(2) - Laon

Rather than just bombing up the motorway back to Calais, we broke our journey in Laon, which was the Carolingian capital of France.

The main part of the town was bombed to bits during WWII...

...but the medieval centre on top of the hill came out mostly unscathed.

The present cathedral dates from 12th and early 13th centuries, and is absolutely stunning.

The stonemasons became so fond of the oxen who carried the stone, that they added them to the tower.

There are also lots of other fun details...

...but the interior is absolutely breathtaking.

The lantern under the tower is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen...

...the stained glass is stunning.

The font dates from the 8th or 9th century...

...and has the  most amazing patterns and heads.

I loved the remains of this painting. Imagine what the cathedral must have looked like when it was all painted.

This panel shows the Visitation, the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth, John the Baptist's mother when they are both pregnant. When John senses Jesus presence, he leaps in the womb. I'm also very moved by this story.

I really don't have the words...

...or the pictures... convey how beautiful it is.

What a fantastic name for an eatery!

I'm sure we'll be back.

France 2013(2) - Lac des Settons

I've been very slow to blog my holiday pictures this time, I think it's because for once, I really didn't want to come home.

The Boy and I are far from being 'Beach Holiday' people, but we ended our trip with a blissful couple of afternoons sat next to a beautiful reservoir, the Lac des Settons.

We read, snoozed and I swam in fresh water for the first time in forever.

It was close to perfection.

Friday, September 20

France 2013(2) - Mont Beuvray

Mont Beuvray is a very special place.

It's the site of the Gaulish settlement, Bibracte...

...and there's still a lot of digging going on. This was a Roman villa.

There are some amazing tree roots...

...and a Holy Well...

...some interesting modern structures to cover excavations...

...views over the beautiful Morvan...

...and walks through the woods.

France 2013(2) - Paray-le-Monial

Avoiding the rain clouds, via a very strange SatNav route, we made our way to Paray-le-Monial. It's home to the 12th century basilica. It was a daughter church to the great abbey at Cluny.

The basilica was originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but was rededicated to the Sacred Heart.

It's a HUGE pilgrimage site, but I must admit that I found the church to be over-manicured, and curiously soulless.

Inside the church, things have highly restored, but outside things look a little more weathered...

...and you can get a feel of the character of place. It gives rise to an interesting debate about restoration. I'm sure that the interior is probably very close to how it was when it was built, but if returning it to that state removes its soul?

The exterior reminded me of the basilicas we saw in Ravenna.

There is the lovely St Nicholas tower...

....and the fantastic Hotel-de-Ville.

I rather liked this sturdy warrior ( are those breasts under the breastplate?)...

...and these little critters.

I'd like a little 'pencil' tower like this too.

Monday, September 9

France 2013(2) - Marmot Tea?

When I first saw this, I thought it was tea made FROM marmots - shocking. A closer look shows that the tea is made BY marmots. So that's alright then.

France 2013(2) - Le Chalet du Montal (Dun-les-Places)

On our way back from Époisses, we stopped of at Le Chalet du Montal...

...a restaurant with rooms, in a fabulous location. The folks who run it are really nice, and they have a cute pooch that came out to greet us, and took us to our table :-).

It was a lovely end to a great afternoon.

It's very painful to think that on the 26th June 1944 Dun-les-Places was the site of a terrible massacre. The beautiful hills of the Morvan have seen some dreadul things.

Saturday, September 7

France 2013(2) - Époisses

Époisses...a Mecca for cheese lovers...(the cheese was first made by monks, you know. Cheese, wine, beer, fab music...all that and prayer)... also has a lovely chateau. Still in private hands, lucky buggers.

I was most taken with the dovecote, with nesting boxes for 3,000 birds...

...unicorn weather vane...

...and seriously cute watchtower, which is the motif on Fromagerie Berthaut packaging.