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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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French Country Travel Life History Lesson



The French Country Travel Life History Lesson 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.

And that’s “30” for our French Country Travel Life History Lesson.


What are ya thinkin’?


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15 Responses to “French Country Travel Life History Lesson”

  1. fred alongo says:

    nodbody does history like DA BG!

  2. urma bender says:

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

  3. calista morganfield says:

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

  4. anna renbourne says:

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

  5. carlson rentor says:

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

  6. 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!

  7. carolyn guenter says:

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

  8. luc maillie says:

    you’re right!

  9. alvin dennis says:

    great images and a great post!

  10. dorna lester says:

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

  11. leanna stammers says:

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

  12. stan cayert says:

    too bad this only happens once a year.

  13. carin sallers says:

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

  14. carin sallers says:

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

  15. nancy puritan says:

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

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