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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 Churches – part Three of Four


No fine and fancy ramble through the cloisters of French Churchdom would be complete without a large tip o’ the glass to “The Booze Brothers. ” Those monks who  praise the Holy Spirit by brewin’ up a batch of spirits. “Bros ‘n Booze” is a tradition as old as monkdom itself. Plus,it’s only logical. Men, perhaps some even manly men, living in the company of other men, with no Women, no beer, no Monday night football. How better to do manly things in a manly way than to brew up a little somethin’?

The Spirited Lowdown

Although most monks are brewmiesters, the  most celebrated liquid “Holy Spirits” are two French Church creations – Benedictine and Chartruese. Both share the same basic m.o. Secret recipie. Combo of herbs,plants,leaves honey,sugar,alcohol,old sandals, etc. Starts out as a “medicinal”beverage. Recipie lost in the mists of time. Then, miracle of miracles, Rediscovered.! Big money builds a big brewery. Hotch is still produced by monks from the original recipie. But, bowing(in a Holy way, bien sur) to the demands of the secular world, the booze bros produce “wimped down” versions of the original. Allowing them to buy more candles, new sandals, and generally “OM” away their non-brew moments.

Six Holy Spirits

Benedictine hits yer glass at 80 proof.(40% alcohol) There is also, as you may know a “B n’ B” – Benedictine and Brandy. And ever attuned to the Holy art of marketing – a “Café Bendictine.”

Chartruese gives ya three kicks at the can. Green Chartreuse – 100 proof.(55% alcohol) Yellow Chartruese – 80 proof.(140% alcohol) And their top o’ the line, fancy, smancy, you-pay-thru-the-ying-yang V.E.P Aged longer. Wax seal. Prettier bottle. Optional gold embossed dedication? Probably.

A Carnival of Marvels

There are four marvels that smack me alongside the head each time I’m in a French Church . First, the architecture. An amazing amalgam of influences. English. Italian. Arabic. Further refined by the tastes of the Kings,Popes,and religious visionaries who were signing the checks.

Second, after our sheer, vast, and often enormous mentality of “must decorate/must decorate/must decorate” every possible inch – to enter a dimension”full of emptiness” is a HUGE breath of fresh, very relaxing air.

Third, I’m gobsmacked(and who would not be?) by the organization,dedication and patience needed for centuries of construction. Like Rome, French Churches were not built in a day.

Fourth, that all this dedication,organization and patience, not to mention awe, respect, wonder and reverence to the nth degree was lavished on the construction of momuments to an unseen “Supreme Being.” An invisible diety who has never once, in 4000 plus years done even a cameo for his assembled multitude.

Part Four – Next Time


What are ya thinkin’?

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7 Responses to “French Churches – part Three of Four”

  1. betty stansfield-turner says:

    Fascinating! – never realized the connection between the well known drinks and their origin. Especially loved your “old sandals!(guess thats what the wine snobs are referring to with their “leathery finish? lol!)

  2. yarmin gerard says:

    Only you could connect booze,religion and introspection in one post, and make it work. All my hats off, sir!

  3. cynthia forester says:

    As you are no doubt aware, there are other “holy spirits” brewed by monks, at other locations in the World. But, agreed, the two you profile are the most well known. And they don’t taste bad either!

  4. carl parker says:

    you’ve spotlighted an area of religious practice that almost never surfaces in the media. good to see it.

  5. carmen villeneuve says:

    I’m thinkin’….well actually …I’m wondering (big time) how you manage to come up with all this cool stuff…AND make it all so much fun to read! You should do a writing course…SERIOUS!

  6. gordon amis says:

    You make a good point, often overlooked, that the finished look of any church depends more on who’s footing the bill, than asthetic or spiritual considerations.

  7. sydney pinaud says:

    I too find it incredible that tens of millions have for thousands of years, worshipped and erected monuments to an “unseen supreme being.”

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