The calendar doesn't say it yet, but spring is springing in Cadrieu!
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Saturday, March 8, 2014
I've blogged before about the 'most beautiful villages in France.' If you click on the highlighted link, you'll find an explanation of the requirements a village must meet to attain this designation as well as a list of them. There are several within driving distance from where I live, and I thought it would be fun to visit and share them on my blog. I've already been to some...St. Cirq-Lapopie, Conques, Cardaillac, Najac. There are several more, though, so watch for them in upcoming blog posts.
Today we'll visit Capdenac-le-Haut in the Lot department. I have no excuse for not visiting this beautiful village sooner. I've passed the sign to it many times. This week I found out what I've missed.
|Beautiful medieval village houses|
|The village square|
Today Capdenac-le-Haut is a sleepy village eclipsed by Capdenac Gare at the bottom of the valley below it. The railroad station there linked this part of France with the rest of the Aveyron, the Lot and beyond and a bigger town has grown up around it. The ramparts and donjon of the old village offer stunning views of the valley and its well-preserved medieval houses are a delight. There is a garden of medieval herbs and plants next to the donjon/tourist office and a small museum that is open during the tourist season. Visiting the old village is like stepping back into time.
|The Lot River and train station at Capdenac Gare|
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
|Waiting for spring|
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Abbey. The website says it's open year 'round, but the last time I tried to walk there, the gates were locked. Luck was with us this time! I paid the €2 entry fee, and the young woman who lives there showed me the map...
It took a bit of coaxing, but I managed to talk Lucie into climbing the skinny, winding stone staircase to the top of the tower. It offered a magnificent 360° view...
This was my favorite discovery of the day, though. It sits right outside the entrance to the house. I want one!
|Looking north at the tiny village of Elbes|
Saturday, March 1, 2014
|Loc Dieu Abbey|
The house and church are open during the summer for guided tours only. On the tour you hear the story about the Mona Lisa hiding here as well as other fascinating tales of the Abbey's history.
Cistercian churches do not have the colorful stained glass windows found in the later Gothic churches like Notre Dame. The Cistercian order followed the strict rule of St. Bernard who believed that churches should not have any superfluous ornamentation that might distract the monks from their religious life. The earliest monasteries like this one might only have a crucifix and single-color windows like these. I find them very beautiful and restful.
Monday, February 24, 2014
|Abbey Loc Dieu|
The Abbey Loc Dieu, founded by Cistercian monks in the 12th century, sits at the corner of three Rouergue departments: the Lot, the Aveyron, and the Tarn-and-Garonne. It's the oldest monastery in the area.As is typical of Cistercian monasteries, it is far off the beaten track, isolated and hidden, but with easy access to both water and agricultural land.
|Where Mona Lisa smiled for a few months in 1940|
In 1939 its isolation brought it to the attention of the administrators of the Louvre. Already they were beginning to crate up and move some of the priceless art housed there in anticipation of the war with Germany. Some found its way to the Loire valley chateaus, but in 1940 when Hitler's 'Phony War' ended with German troops rolling into Belgium and eastern France, the curators of the Louvre began their packing in earnest. The Loire Valley was still too close to Paris for comfort, so they hurriedly devised a plan to transport 3500 works of priceless art further south. The roads were a mess as thousands fled Paris and everything was in short supply. They requisitioned the biggest trucks they could find to transport such huge works of art as 'The Wedding Feast at Cana' by Veronese which measures 33 feet by 23 feet! One large truck hauled nothing but gasoline to fuel the others in the convoy. 3120 paintings and sculptures arrived here at the Abbey Loc Dieu between 5 and 17 June 1940 among them the world famous 'Mona Lisa,' who made the trip in her own personal car! Not only did the church house the artwork, but also the over 250 people who arrived with it to care for the pieces. Many lived in the old monks' quarters which had become an elegant manor house over the centuries, while others were housed in the nearby villages of Memer and Valhouries.
|After WWII, trenches were dug around the foundation of the buildings to drain away standing water and alleviate the dampness problem inside.|
|The room dedicated to all things Mona Lisa|
If you are interested in learning more about how art from the Louvre was transported and hidden during WWII, here are links to two excellent sources: "The Rape of Europa" a scholarly book detailing Hitler's war on "degenerate" art and the theft of thousands of pieces of art during the German occupation, and "Rescuing da Vinci" a book of fascinating photographs of the art from the Louvre being crated, transported and hidden.