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The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

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Bicycle Gourmet’s French History Fiesta



Bicycle Gourmet’s French History Fiesta goes down every year. All over France.  Usually just for one day.  Sometimes two. And, happily, it’s (mostly) free. While it’s not a holiday in the strict sense of the word, it’s equally, not a day of work.

It’s offical title is : “Le Journee Du Patrimoine.” which, loosely translated(and isn’t that the best way?) is:” The day of History appreciation. ” This is the day  that  private Chateau you’ve always wanted to visit but couldn’t is obliged to open it’s doors to “le grand public.” (if it is classed as one of the Historical Treasures of France.)

And that World class museum, usually too pricey to even consider? – Today – not a problem. (Note:  “attractions” with an entry fee will reduce it, if it’s not eliminated altogether.)

This particular “Journee du Patrimoine” happened to fall on a weekend. So – Historical goodies both days!  Since DA BG happened to be in the Loire, and being especially attracted to French Churches/Abbeys/Cathedrals, et al, the destination was clear. The monstrous Abbey (complex!) of Fontevraud.


Like every Monstrous Religious edifice in France Le Abbaye Royale du Fontevraud has a history worthy of several Hollywood movies. (“Abbey Wars – The Sequel!” ) It was founded in 1100 as a “double” monastery -ie – Monks and Nuns side by side.  A rarity in any era. A variety of King’s, Queens, and assorted Royalty are also associated with it. Particularly the  English Plantegenet line.


Eleanor of Acquitane, the Widow of Henry 2 become a nun at Fontevraud. Henry was buried there, along with their son, Richard “The Lionheart” (who spent most of his short  life in France) as well as their daughter Joan, their grandson Raymon VII of Toulouse, and Isabella of Angouleme, wife of Henry and Eleanor’s son King John.

The French Revolution, bringing bad news to almost everyone, didn’t spare Fontevraud. It ordered all monasteries closed.

Eventually, in 1804, the former Abbey became a prison. Reputed to be one of the harshest in France. During World World Two, scores of French Resistance fighters were executed there by the Vichy Government.

After a major restoration, Fontevraud was opened to the public in 1985.

It’s now open to you in THIS VIDEO .(Tip : Best enjoyed(by music lovers) without the robot piano soundtrack)


What are ya thinkin’?


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32 Responses to “Bicycle Gourmet’s French History Fiesta”

  1. fred alongo says:

    nodbody does history like DA BG!

  2. patrick samson says:

    i’ve visited quite a few french churchs…but not this one….many thanks for the great report..it’s on my list now!

  3. carolyn guenter says:

    if i’m not mistaken..i think is a europe wide event.

  4. luc maillie says:

    you’re right!

  5. urma bender says:

    right on fred – not to mention all the great links if you want to check out more!

  6. alvin dennis says:

    great images and a great post!

  7. calista morganfield says:

    sounds like a great idea! wonder if it could catch on here? (usa)

  8. anna renbourne says:

    so much to discover there – thanks for narrowing it down.

  9. dorna lester says:

    kinda creepy – the coffin picture.;but great post! – as usual!

  10. You reporting, particularly on historical themes is first rate. As this post again confirms. bravo.

  11. stacy horton says:

    good to know. not something that you find among the usual list of “chateau’s you must visit before you die”, etc.

  12. there really is so much history in france that it makes sense to have a day(days?) like this when everday people can bond with their heritage.

  13. Dennis Beam says:

    wondering how many “not famous” historical monuments are waiting to be discovered in france?

  14. stan cayert says:

    too bad this only happens once a year.

  15. harry watson says:

    dennis : ballpark – probably a few thousand. (give or take) But – don’t quote me.(lol)

  16. Truly amazing history! Especially the number of royals buried there. And the ongoing connection between England and France.

  17. Dennis Beam says:

    harry – no worries. but if i do find more than a thousand – you’ll be the first to know – fair enough?

  18. leanna stammers says:

    really the essence of france..this day you’re writing about…or at least the vision we non-french have of it.

  19. harry watson says:

    dennis – it’s a Deal!

  20. Thanks for the video. Really compliments your info. And, you’re right about the background “music” – give it a pass folks!

  21. hey victoria…i saw the vid too..and i didn’t think the music was too bad..

  22. Well Dennis, what can I say other than : “if we all had the same tastes, there’d only be one flavor of ice cream.” Right?

  23. victoria…whatever. as for your “taste” – i bet you’ve got one of the BG’s piano CD’s! (talk about prejudiced!)

  24. Dennis : RIGHT! – on both counts. I AM prejudiced. and i DO have a BG Piano CD: THIS ONE – http://soulmuse21.com/cd5.html – check it out….maybe it’ll be “up your alley.”

  25. The idea of putting a day(or two) aside to allow a”the common people” a chance to see and appreciate the richness of their history is fantastic..and sadly for America….uniquely French.

  26. Spencer – Absolutely. And more to the point, how much History REALLY as there to see in a country that’S barely 150 years old?

  27. Stephanie: uh….Mt. Rushmore? The Grand Canyon? The Library of Congress?

  28. winston – well….there’s one out of three (lol)

  29. sally cook says:

    love those pix! – sorry i wasn’t there. maybe next year?

  30. carlson rentor says:

    got it on my “must see” list thanks to you BG!

  31. carin sallers says:

    thanks for sharing this great piece of History with us. reallt top notch! – as usual!!!

  32. nancy puritan says:

    you’re right about “hollywood movie”…only this is way better! and for real!!!

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