St Guilhem Le Desert Ste Eulalie De Cernon St Jean Dalcas

Jan Leeming

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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

St. Guilhem le Desert - Ste Eulalie de Cernon - St. Jean d'Alcas

Date: 19th July 2011

SOUTHERN AVEYRON - a very short trip

Mireille had planned a sort of ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ for us. Both she and Owen are extremely good at arranging trips and holidays and have made journeys deep into the heart of Borneo, chanced going to Burma and Vietnam and always doing it in a way which brings them into contact with the people of the regions they are visiting.

This was only a brief trip but nevertheless we packed in a great deal. For several years I have had an interest in the Knights Templar and the Cathars - both of whom flourished in this region. In fact since 1997 the Conservatoire LarzacTemplier et Hospitalier has pursued a programme of tourist development in the area - good in some ways and unfortunate in others.

I was lucky to visit La Couvertoirade about 20 years ago long before it became a Mecca for tourists - as I did also Les Baux which now teems with tourists.

However  tourism is aiding in the conservation of these historic sites so one shouldn’t complain and they attract the kind of tourists who are in search of history.

Our first stop today was St Guilhem le Désert - an incredibly picturesque mediaeval village nestling in the hills. Having toured the village and oo’d and aah’d over the Church, we found a place for a picnic and a right royal feast it was.

When the children were small and we used to spend our days at the Swimming Pool at Lambesc, lunch was Baguettes with ham, cheese and tomatoes followed by luscious peaches and nectarines topped off with a bottle of wine for the grown ups!

The make-it yourself baguette/sandwich is great fun. Minimum preparation by the adults and maximum fun in the making.

After lunch we made our way via Nant and a visit to the Templier Church and on to our stopping place at Ste Eulalie de Cernon. Mireille had taken pot luck booking only a couple of weeks beforehand so we’d no idea what to expect. She’d struck gold. Ste Eulalie is a virtually untouched Mediaeval Village and we were staying in a Chambre d’Hotes slap bang in the middle.

Of course we had to abandon the car outside the Portal and proceed with our bags up La Grande Rue 9 ( all of about 100 metres in length). My mouth was wide open - to be staying in this fantastic place was a dream. Sadly the weather didn’t match my enthusiasm and it started to rain.

We dined at the Cardabelle restaurant outside the walls. I’d like to explain what is a Cardabelle (Occitan) or Carline (francais) but it almost defies description ( so I’ll put a photo in the Gallery). It is described as a dried acanthus but that it certainly is not - it’s more like a dried flowering artichoke. You see them everywhere in this region hung on doors as a kind of Good Luck symbol.

The owner of the Chambre D’Hotes told us the next day that below the Grand Rue (the High Street) there is Lower Street (Rue Bas) and below that a Lower Lower Street (Rue Bas Bas) which for some reason I found highly amusing. These streets were little more than alleys.

The next day we explored the Templier Church - fascinating and far too complex for me to try and explain at the moment. I bought a book on the Templar and Hospitalier Sites so when I’ve digested it I might be able to give you a little precis of the information if you’d like. Do give me some feedback. Although I enjoy keeping my ‘diary’ as a Blog. it sometimes feels like hard work.

We had intended visiting La Couvertoirade - a gorgeous Mediaeval Village used predominantly for Film shoots and visited by tourists but not lived in any more. However, it was raining hard and having stayed in Ste Eulalie which was similar - but without hordes of tourists - we went on to St. Jean d’Alcas. Again another superb restored Templar site.

It was pouring with rain so where were we to have our picnic. The problem was solved. I’ve eaten picnics in some odd places but never in a Bus Shelter!!! However, it kept us dry and we laughed a lot. After our bon repas, the rain had eased a little and we ventured into the ‘fortress’. Again a feast for the eyes.

Our next port of call was the city of Lodeve where they were holding an exhibition of the work of the Fauvist artist Louis Valtat.  I have to say that the 45 minute video introduction to the exhibition was wonderfully enlightening.  I knew virtually nothing about Fauvism except the name but the video gave me a perspective on the exhibition which I found very interesting.  To my amazement we were allowed to take photos without flash.  Normally I would buy postcards.  Mind you it was just as well I took photos because on offer for sale was a very poor selection of postcards - so at least I have my memories.

Then sadly it was  time to return to Alleins and the Last Supper.

I’ll put photos of Ste. Eulalie and St. Jean d’Alcas into the Gallery but for now I want to share with you our lovely picnic place.

A bientot. Jan 

St. Guilhem le Desert - Ste Eulalie de Cernon  - St. Jean d'Alcas

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