A morning in Pontlevoy, lunch in Thenay and dinner with new friends.
We'd had a few huge days absorbing the delights that the Loire had to offer so we though a quiet day staying close to home might be nice for a change - it was grey and overcast. The weather is very similar to Melbourne at this time of the year. One day in T-shirts, the next in pullovers.
Sometimes the morning is glorious and as afternoon comes it's quite humid and then the storms roll in.
|A spot of coffee at Cafe de Sports before wandering around Pontlevoy|
Louis Clergeau. Louis was a watchmaker and jeweller but his hobby was photography. His many photographs were of this village that we were to experience and what he photographed 80 to 90 years ago.
|Photographs from the book "A Village in France" have been attached to various walls in Pontlevoy to show how it was during the years 1902 to 1936.|
After the coffee and a little chat and we were off for a stroll of discovery.
|Pontlevoy's local Museum in the main street. Not open when we were there unfortunately.|
|This building features in the book possibly as an old blacksmith business. Now its someone's home.|
The battle took place near Pontlevoy on the River Cher, between Blois and Tours, not far from the large Angevin fortress of Montrichard. Odo had ravaged most of the Touraine during Fulk's absence on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. After Fulk's return, Odo, with a large force and many siege engines, attempted to besiege Montrichard, but was intercepted by Fulk just north of Pontlevoy. Surprised by Fulk's preparedness, Odo was forced to give battle without putting his troops into formation. This was his disadvantage. The opening went in favour of Odo, however. Fulk was unhorsed and his standard-bearer was felled. Fulk may have even been captured briefly. At this juncture, Herbert intervened, attacking Odo's flank from the west. Odo was routed and fled, leaving his infantry to be massacred. There were over 42,000 men killed.
Pontlevoy had suffered many ravages of war over the centuries right up to WWII - and yet today it has such a sleepy hollow feeling about it.
We left the cafe towards the Abbey after our espresso - for some reason we have never had a great Cappuccino or caffe latte in France, only in Italy and Australia.
Some folklore on the founding of Pontlevoy's Abbey:
It is believed that Gelduin's boat was caught in a storm on the way back from a Crusade in the Holy Land. He prayed to the Virgin for help, promising to build Her a church in Pontlevoy, which he held as a vassal of the Count of Blois. Allegedly, the Virgin dressed in white, appeared above the rolling deck and calmed the sea.
Geldiun endowed the abbey with enough revenue for Benedictine monks to build a huge church, dedicated to the White Virgin. From the east, it looks like a complete Gothic cathedral with flying buttresses and trefoil stone tracery in the windows of the radiating chapels. There is a gravel courtyard where it the nave should be.
Yes - Wikipedia again.
|Outside the Abbey's walls - I wonder what this hole in the wall was useful for?|
|The gates took us to the Medieval Chapel, damaged over the years from many wars.|
We were quite taken by the grounds of the Abbey - it had a long rich history and had endured several wars and many uses over the centuries. These included a monastery, a school, a truck driving school and a convention centre. The grounds are peaceful and we spent all morning there before driving back to Thenay to take the washing off the line - clouds were brewing as they did on the odd afternoon.
|I always need to post either a car or bicycle photo. This delightful early Peugeot was in great condition except for the layer of dust.|
We decided to lunch at the local cafe in Thenay, not that we had noticed it before but most days we were somewhere else. There was no choice of menu - you had what was being cooked on the day and all for 12 euro. There was a salad bar for your entree, a jug of wine with a main course of braised duck and pasta. You had three types of cheese before the desert of a banana and chocolate gateau. We finished off with coffee and a walk back to the cottage.
Our hosts Carole and Michael had kindly invited us for dinner that night to join their friends, Katherine and Alan. I believe they were past renters of the Thenay cottage and have joined their circle of friends. It was a lovely night and we all had an enjoyable night comparing our different parts of the world. Mikey and I discovered we came from the same town of Preston, his in England, mine in Melbourne.
|What a fitting end to a day of discovery, surprises and new friendships.|
We headed back home after 12.30 and wondered how we would wake for our big day to see Chambord and Cheverny in the morning. But more about that next Wednesday.
A photo every day of our travels in France