|Clark's birthday breakfast - eggs, bacon, croissants, clementine juice, apricot jam and coffee - satisfying|
The weather is not cooperating today as it's grey and rainy, but we're off anyway, with all our layers. Much of what we'll see is inside anyway and we have raincoats.
Getting to Fontevraud was a challenge as the road our GPS wanted us to take was closed for military exercises. Who knew that these last 8 km before Fontevraud travel through a military camp which was on maneuvers today. After wandering blindly for 15 minutes, and listening to a GPS that was determined to send us on the same road, we pulled over, studied a map and took a course that skirted the military area. End result, a one hour drive took one hour and 45 minutes. But we got a good look at the Chateau de Brézé from all sides and will have to come back one day to visit it.
The abbey is known as the necropolis of the Plantagenet family - kings and queens of both England and France. Of course, we now know that Clark is a long-lost Plantagenet descendant.
|restaurant outside the gates of the abbey|
|Clark and his name-sake|
The abbey was turned into a prison during Napoleonic times and remained so until the 1960s. It had the reputation of being the harshest prison in France. Quite a change from when it was an abbey. During that time, significant changes were made to the church and the grounds to house up to 750 prisoners at a time, but frequently housed double that number. The church in particular was reworked to house 5 floors of prisoner barracks.
The abbey itself was built under the patronage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II Plantagenet.
|effigies of Eleanor (reading her prayer book) and Henry|
|effigies of Isabelle and John|
|The four effigies located in the center of the church. This is thought to possibly be near where they were buried, but there's no evidence one way or the other, thanks to the French Revolution.|
The church is enormous and bare today, but would have been colorfully decorated as can be seen from several remaining paintings on the walls.
|restoration work is on-going. Main entrance is closed and you enter on the side now|
|vaults of the ceiling have been replaced|
From the rear of the church, we entered the Grand-Moûtier convent through the St. Benoit courtyard. This convent housed the virgin nuns who were the most prominent members of the Fontevrist order. This part of the convent was used as a hospital and to house invalid nuns.
|St Benoît courtyard|
|the refectory where the nuns ate|
|Cloiser of the Grand-Moutier, the house for the virgin nuns|
|a peek into the chapter room|
|A carving in the chapter room|
Gardens of every sort provided the means of feeding the order and a gigantic byzantine-styled building was the kitchen and smoke house.
|This building confused archaeologists at first, but it has been decided it was the kitchen|
|central smoke hole in the kitchen - the side bays also had smoke holes|
Since the 60's the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud has become a Cultural Center of Western France. Work continues on restoring and maintaining this UNESCO world heritage site.
We plan to return on a day that is sunny and warmer to revisit the abbey and better appreciate its gardens and paths and to take better photos with less rain. Hopefully, next time, there won't be military maneuvers blocking our way.
Returning home, we warm up with aperos, then have a lovely grilled steak dinner using the tournedo steaks we bought from the local farmer at the Asseray vineyard. Dessert is a repeat of the chocolate cake from Janis' birthday. Clark has chosen our wines carefully for maximum enjoyment.
|Bonne Anniversaire, Clark|
Happy birthday, Clark. Many more to come.