And just like that it’s over and no lambs were delivered! And nothing died! ‘Sept Fonts’ is translated to ‘seven springs’, and there are two lakes fed by those springs! This one with the geese / ducks is lovely. The farmer next door decided to have a bonfire, hence the smoke coming through the trees! I was going to take another picture on a sunny day, but just keeping forgetting and then it kept raining, so this is all you are getting!
We did get the chance to visit a few more places – La Rochelle, Melle, Rockfort ……
Keep out … the mighty towers [in La Rochelle] protecting the city, with a bit of help from me!
The day we went to La Rochelle, it was sunny mostly and a bit chilly. I did brave sandals but ended up with a jacket and a scarf and cold feet! La Rochelle is a coast town with a colourful history. Louis XIII, who stayed in ‘our’ Priory, undertook the Seige of La Rochelle back in some century long ago [circa 1627], and during WWII it was a base for the German Naval Fleet. I think the recent Red Bull ‘divers’ who dive of that tower on the right [St Nicholas Tower] add a more positive note to history!! The other is la Chaine Tower [it housed the ‘chain’ to the port] and these two medieval ‘towers’ guard the entry to the port, and have done since 1345. It now is the entrance for a large marina and of course a lovely place to explore.
Colin is walking along the original part of the wall toward the first lighthouse tower built – it took 30 years [in the 15th century]. It is the oldest medieval lighthouse on the Atlantic Coast, and used to hold prisoners at different times over its life. There were some lovely old houses along these cobbled streets, but none had lovely balconies looking out to the sea ….
This is the entrance to the old city [the Clock Tower], it too is pretty impressive. Beyond are all the cafes, shops and patisseries. I loved the wonderful selection of meringues in this patisserie. We actually had French sticks with ham/salad and then just sat in the square, people watching. It is amazing how many people still smoke here in Europe! It just seems to be a huge part of the culture, young or old – they are all smoking. So very weird coming from a country where it is not the norm anymore!!
Melle was the next town on our travels. We did some of the pilgrim trail walk, passing by the three famous churches. One [Saint-Hilaire’s] is a UNESCO site and was rebuilt in the 12th century! It is still used to this day. Saint-Pierre’s was also built in the 12th century with Zodiac signs lining the entrance doorways. Saint-Savinien’s is the oldest church. From the early 1800’s [and for nearly a century] it was converted to a prison and you can find ‘graffiti’ etched on the door and walls from the prisoners. It has been restored but only for historical purposes – it is not used as a church anymore.
It would have been a cold place as a prison! It did however have perfect acoustics! Ah, eh, eee, oooo, oouuu 🎶 Not that I think the prisoners would have been singing!
I couldn’t read the French prisoners ‘graffiti’, and alas there was not English conversion for us [maybe it said ‘I was here!], or even another soul to ask – we were the only people in all of the buildings. The joys of travelling in the off-season.
How they built these buildings, with such architectural flare, is a wonder – they are incredible. I stood in all three of these churches and did the ‘doh-ray-me’ and the acoustics were just amazing … wished I had a singing voice, but alas Colin tells me I am tone deaf, but I thought my tone deaf sounded great [where is my friend Ulrike when I need her?] A choir would sound a-maz-ing!
Rochfort, another port town was next on our to-do list! It has this incredible building, the Corderie Royale – at 375m long, it was where they used to make ropes for the big old ships of a bygon era! We spent a couple of hours here learning about the history of rope making. The was a ‘corderie expert’ who as part of his display made fantastic ropes items that you could buy in the shop – think placemats, doormats, key-rings and a ton of other things. Such a fantastic building and incredible to think it was built on a bog! Only half is available for the corderie museum, the other half is used for functions.
Next to the corderie was one of the old ships, where you could see all the rope that was used. Just amazing. And next to that was a high ropes course that had been designed to be like an old ship, and was in a dry dock – some very clever thinking here!
We had a walk around town, but again we seemed to time our visit while the shops are all closed for the two hour lunch break – it has been quite strange getting used to this. So stopped for lunch in a lovely cafe on a square, had quiche and cake and watched the world go by. The only thing about these lunch breaks it that means that window shopping is all that is available to me!
So our time in France has come to an end. We have had an amazing time looking after ‘our’ farm, and the home owners were such lovely people! They took a chance on us to look after their amazing priory and all their animals. We have a few new skills to add to our dossier.
For now though we are at Bordeaux airport, all checked in for our flight to Athens [via Paris airport!]. We have two days to begin with [in Athens] and then are heading to one of the islands [Andros] for a few days. We will probably island hop a bit, before returning to Athens for a couple more days and then onto our next Mr and Mrs Smith ‘assignment’ which is in Veliko in Bulgaria.
I will be sure to keep you enlightened of our adventures 😊
The only impossible journey is the one you never begin”