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.
THROW ME A BONE HERE, PEOPLE!
What are ya thinkin’?