Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day 43 Paris - Sacre Couer

The famous Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, is in English the "Basilica of the Sacred Heart", and is a Roman Catholic basilica and one of the most popular landmarks in Paris. It is so named in dedication to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city and within a few minutes walk from our apartment residence.

We saw it in 2002 and I drew a sketch of it. Now I have a longer time to take in the majestic building and walk around it and inside.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Day 42 Window Shopping in Paris

Nothing, but nothing, can push you into the current of Paris life faster or more effectively than a few hours of shopping. Follow the example of Parisians, who slow to a crawl as their eyes lock on a tempting display. Window-shopping is one of this city's greatest spectator sports, and the French call it lèche-vitrine—literally, "licking the windows"—which is quite fitting because many of the displays look good enough to eat.
Here is a picture of the ceiling in the Lafayette Department Store.

Store owners here play to a sophisticated audience with a voracious appetite for everything from spangly flagship stores to minimalist boutiques to under-the-radar spots in 19th-century glass-roofed passages. Parisians know that shopping isn't about the kill, it's about the chase: walking down cobblestone streets looking for things they didn't know they wanted, casual yet quick to pounce. They like being seduced by a clever display and relish the performance elements of browsing. Watching them shop can be almost as much fun as shopping yourself.

With the euro trouncing the dollar, it may seem foolish to even contemplate the latest Chanel handbag or that racy pair of Christian Louboutin stiletto boots. All the more reason to look for things that can be found only in Paris. Travelers can still find a treasure on even the most stringent budget: bottles of fruit-flavor eau-de-vie, a box of jewel-like chocolates, antique filigree picture frames, lacy lingerie. And if you do decide to indulge, what better place to make that once-in-a-blue-moon splurge?

Most stores in Paris—except for department stores and flea markets—stay open until 6 PM or 7 PM, but many take a lunch break sometime between noon and 2. Although shops traditionally close on Sunday, regulations have been greatly relaxed in the past decade, and you'll find a number of stores open then, too, most especially in the Marais. If you're making a special trip somewhere, especially around holidays, it doesn't hurt to call ahead and check the hours. And don't forget to greet and thank the staff everywhere.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Day 41 Eiffel and the Arc

It's a bit of a hike but we have done it before and here we are again, having marched our way to the downtown from our residence in north Paris. We are here to see both the Arc de Triumphe and the Eiffel Tower. We did it in 2002 and we are doing it again, climbing the Arc and taking the elevator to the top of the tower. It is absolutely worth it. These are memorable. Taking many photos along the way. Our intention when we get back home is to incorporate them into a hard cover book for our own joy and this is easy given the free download of software from online printers. Hard cover and dust jacket for a coffee table book for $60 is a wonderful way of preserving memories and revisiting them easily. Here is a look at what we see from the top of the tower. But for an even better experience tap this link and see a panoramic view from high above.

The Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile, the world's largest triumphal arch, forms the backdrop for an impressive urban ensemble in Paris. The monument surmounts the hill of Chaillot at the center of a star-shaped configuration of 12 radiating avenues. It is the climax of a vista seen the length of the Champs Elysées from the smaller Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in the Tuileries gardens, and from the Obélisque de Luxor in the place de la Concorde. I can't beleive that neither of us considered dates for this trip that would include the Tour de France which finishes right here after its weeks on the roads of France. Inside the Arch, a small museum documents its history and construction. The price of admission includes access to the top of the Arch. From the roof, one is treated to spectacular views of Paris. Looking eastwards, down the Champs Elysées, toward the Louvre, there is the Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries Gardens, and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. In the opposite direction - westwards - in the distance is its larger and newer cousin, La Grande Arche de la Défense.

The Eiffel Tower is an iron tower built on the Champ de Mars beside the Seine River in Paris. The tower has become a global icon of France and is one of the most recognizable structures in the world. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower is the tallest building in Paris. We are two of the more than 200,000,000 people who have visited the tower since its construction in 1889, making it the most visited paid monument in the world. Including the 24 m (79 ft) antenna, the structure is 324 m (1,063 ft) high, which is equivalent to about 81 levels in a conventional building.

When the tower was completed in 1889 it was the world's tallest tower — a title it retained until 1930 when New York City's Chrysler Building (319 m — 1,047 ft tall) was completed. The tower is now the fifth-tallest structure in France and the tallest structure in Paris.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day 40 Walk Around Montmartre Day

This is walk around Montmartre day, stop for a cafe au lait or expresso, sit and watch people, gander at the art that is everywhere. Street artists continue to ply their trade much as some do in Stanley Park. I have thought of doing the Stanley park display myself but I am just not sure that is my kind of exposure or forum for showing my work.

This quarter of Paris with it's artistic vocation and rich history has become an unavoidable meeting place for tourists, art collectors and gallery owners.
In 1977 it was officially recognized and regulated by the Prefecture of Police and since 1983 has been under the administration of the 'Marie de Paris' or, City Council of Paris. It is formally known as the 'Le Carré aux Artistes' or Artists Square and is home to 298 painters, portraitists and caricaturists all of whom share a one square metre place and work part-time on the square.

From the end of the 19th, and through the 20th century, Montmartre witnessed the activities of some great painters and styles including Impressionism, Cubism, Fauvism, and the development of Surrealism and modern painting. Many artists have contributed to the tradition that is Montmartre and include De Jonking, Pissarro, Cézanne, Manet, Van Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec, Degas, Renoir, Picasso Braque, Matisse, Derain, Villon, Duchamp, Dufy, Susanne Valadon, Utrillo and Gen Paul, among others.
Renoir and Utrillo were, at different times, lived in the house which is now the Montmartre Museum.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 39 The Louvre Palace

When we were last in Paris in 2002 we spent one day in the Louvre and realized that not only did our feet ache after a day of touring, but one day was positively insufficient to see the exhibits.

Covering an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet) the Musée du Louvre or the Louvre Museum is one of the central landmarks of the city of Paris. Actually the museum is housed in the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre) which began as a fortress built in the late 12th century under Philip II and remnants of the fortress are still visible. Within the facility are contained nearly 35,000 objects from the 6th millennium BC to the 19th century AD.

When Louis XIV moved to the Palace of Versailles he left the Louvre Palace as primarily a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of antique sculpture. In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons. The Académie remained at the Louvre for 100 years. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum, to display the nation's masterpieces. The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being confiscated church and royal property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The size of the collection increased under Napoleon when the museum was renamed the Musée Napoléon. After his defeat at Waterloo, many works seized by Napoleon's armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and gifts since the Third Republic, except during the two World Wars. As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; and Prints and Drawings. You can see why one needs more than one day to explore this extravagant exhibit.

The Louvre website is accessed here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day 38 Montmartre is our neighbourhood

Montmartre is officially designated as an historic district with limited development allowed in order to maintain its historic character. Montmartre is the artists' and bohemian quarter of the capital and is situated in the 18th arrondissemont or district of Paris, France.

Place du Tertre which is the place of artists and the vibrant heart of Montmartre, is in close proximity to the Basillica of Sacre Coeur, itself the crown on the hill or 'Butte Montmartre'.

One of the most unusual places in Paris, was imagined and created by the artists at the end of the 1940's. It grew into a large open air studio which has now become one of the most visited sites in Paris. The creation of an original painting or piece of art before your eyes is one of the principal attractions of the 'Butte Montmarte'.

Montmartre, a hill (the butte Montmartre) is 130 metres high and it gives its name to the surrounding district, in this north end of Paris which is part of the Right Bank. Montmartre is primarily known for the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré Cœur which Christine and I visited when we were last here in 2002. Then we stayed in a small hotel nearby. This is a nightclub district. There is another older church on the hill which is Saint Pierre de Montmartre, which claims to be the location at which the Jesuit order of priests was founded. During one stage in its history, many artists such as Salvador Dalí, Modigliani, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh retained studios or worked around the community of Montmartre. Montmartre is also the setting for the hit films of La Môme, which elaborates the life of famous French singer Edith Piaf and her times in the slums of Paris, and Amélie, the story of a young Parisian woman determined to help the lives of others and find her true love.

The name Montmartre signifies 'mountain of the martyr' and it owes this name to the martyrdom of Saint Denis, who was decapitated on the hill around 250 AD. Saint Denis was the Bishop of Paris and is the patron saint of France.

During the 19th century when Napoleon III and his city planner Baron Haussmann planned to make Paris the most beautiful city in Europe, a first step was to grant large sweeps of land near the center of the city to Haussmann's friends and financial supporters. This drove the original inhabitants to the edges of the city — to the districts of Clichy, La Villette, and the hill with a view of the city, Montmartre. Russians occupied Montmartre when invading Paris. They used the altitude of the hill for artillery bombardment of the city.

Since Montmartre was outside the city limits, free of Paris taxes and no doubt also due to the fact that the local nuns made wine, the hill quickly became a popular drinking area. The area developed into a center of free-wheeling and decadent entertainment at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. In the popular cabaret the Moulin Rouge, and at Le Chat Noir, artists, singers and performers regularly. The Basilica of the Sacré Cœur was built on Montmartre from 1876 to 1912 by public subscription as a gesture of expiation of the "crimes of the communards", after the Paris Commune events, and to honour the French victims of the 1871 Franco-Prussian War. Its white dome is a highly visible landmark in the city, and just below it artists still set up their easels each day amidst the tables and colorful umbrellas of Place du Tertre.

In the mid-1800s artists, such as Johan Jongkind and Camille Pissarro, came to live in Montmartre. (It is Pissaro's painting of the area)By the end of the century, Montmartre and its counterpart on the Left Bank, Montparnasse, became the principal artistic centers of Paris. Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, and other impoverished artists lived and worked in a commune, a building called Le Bateau-Lavoir during the years 1904–1909. Artist associations such as Les Nabis and the Incoherents were formed and individuals including Vincent van Gogh, Pierre Brissaud, Alfred Jarry, Gen Paul, Jacques Villon, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Henri Matisse, André Derain, Suzanne Valadon, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Maurice Utrillo, Toulouse-Lautrec, Théophile Steinlen, and African-American "expatriates" such as Langston Hughes worked in Montmartre and drew some of their inspiration from the area. Composers, including Satie (who was a pianist at Le Chat Noir), also lived in the area. The last of the bohemian Montmartre artists was Gen Paul (1895–1975), born in Montmartre and a friend of Utrillo. Paul's calligraphic expressionist lithographs, sometimes memorializing picturesque Montmartre itself, owe a lot to Raoul Dufy.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Day 37 Paris to Versailles Day Trip

Our second full day in Paris. When we were in Paris in 2002 we had 48 hours in which to see as much as we could. We missed seeing Versailles and promised ourselves that on this holiday we would do a day trip to Versailles, so this the day.

We have taken the RER (Réseau Express Régional)train which is a regional express network with RER trains offering fast transportation, and easily accessible. It was a half hour trip.

The Palace of Versailles, or in French the Château de Versailles, or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles, the Île-de-France region of France. When the château was built, Versailles was a country village; today, however, it is a suburb of Paris, twenty kilometers southwest of the French capital. From 1682, when Louis XIV moved from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789, the court of Versailles was the centre of political power in France. Versailles is therefore famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime.

What a history this site has. In 1575, Albert de Gondi, a naturalized Florentine who gained prominence at the court of Henry II, purchased the seigneury of Versailles. In the early seventeenth century, Gondi invited Louis XIII on several hunting trips in the forests surrounding Versailles. Pleased with the location, Louis ordered the construction of a hunting lodge in 1624. Designed by Philibert Le Roy, a small château was constructed of stone and red brick. Eight years later, Louis obtained the seigneury of Versailles from the Gondi family and began to make enlargements to the château.

Louis's successor, Louis XIV, had a great interest in Versailles. He had grown up during the disorder of the Fronde, a civil war between rival factions of aristocrats, and wanted a site where he could organize and completely control a government of France by absolute personal rule. He settled on the royal hunting lodge at Versailles and over the following decades had it expanded into one of the largest palaces in the world. The King's court was officially established there on 6 May 1682.The idea of establishing the court at Versailles was conceived to ensure that all of his advisors and provincial rulers would be kept close to him. He feared that they would rise up against him and start a revolt. He thought that if he kept all of his potential threats near him, that they would be powerless. Over the next 50 years there were four distinct building campaigns that enlarged and enhanced the properties. Louis XV and Louis XVI lived there as well and during the French Revolution it was vacated by the monarch. It's preservation and that of its contents was in question at various later junctions.

With the Revolution of 1830 and the establishment of the July Monarchy, the status of Versailles changed. In March 1832, the Loi de la Liste civile was promulgated, which designated Versailles as a crown dependency. Like Napoléon before him, Louis-Philippe chose to live at the Grand Trianon; however, unlike Napoléon, Louis-Philippe did have a grand design for Versailles.

In 1833, King Louis-Philippe proposed the establishment of a museum dedicated to “all the glories of France,” which included the Orléans dynasty and the Revolution of 1830 that put Louis-Philippe on the throne of France. For the next decade, under the direction of Eugène-Charles-Frédéric Nepveu and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine, the château underwent irreversible alterations. The museum was officially inaugurated on 10 June 1837 as part of the festivities that surrounded the marriage of the Prince royal, Ferdinand-Philippe d’Orléans with princess Hélène of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and represented one of the most ambitious and costly undertakings of Louis-Philippe’s reign. Over 3,000 paintings depicting glorious events in French history and a small army of busts of French heroes were commissioned by Louis-Philippe to decorate his new museum.

What an astounding monument and we are glad to have seen it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Day 36 - Paris and our new home

We are at home in Paris. This is our first full day here.

Over one year ago, Christine and I made contact with Cheryl Krecsy whose Paris apartment was the subject of a major article in a fashionable home magazine. She is the owner and proprieter of the Little White House in Fort Langley. I began correspondence with her about the rental of her Paris apartment. We met her and her husband Gene and her two other partners in this vacation enterprise. We arranged to rent their place for two weeks, so here we are.

It is called the Countess and there are four units in total and our place opens to a courtyard away from the street. We are located in Montmartre, a delightful part of the city, north of some of the major sites but accessible easily by public transit and mostly as far as we are concerned, by walking.

Here is a peak at our new digs.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Day 31 Guernsey - Beaches and Inspiration for Painters


What they say about Guernsey is what we see - beaches - over 20 of them. The island is blessed with some of the finest and most spectacular beaches in Europe, from secluded bays and rocky caves to sweeping sands. Quiet sandy coves are just right for sunworshippers and interesting reefs and rocks are everywhere for snorkellers, divers and rockpoolers to explore. I doubt that we are going to do any of the water sports here.
The colourful rocky beaches are responsible for inspiring some of Renoir's paintings, and Victor Hugo to write Les Miserables.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Day 30 - Arriving on Guernsey


This is our day for leaving St. Malo, boarding the Condor Ferry to the islands of Jersey and Guernsey. We will soon land at St. Peter Port and then will be driven to our wonderful week long vacation at the Bon Port Hotel which has a seaside balcony.

We have come to an island of Christine's family history. Guernsey is a heritage location for us because Christine's paternal ancestry stems from this island. Although she was born in Britain, her maiden surname was Langlois, of French derivation and the Langlois family came from here. Here is where her father James Parham Langlois' ancestry stems. Her brother David and his wife Patti have visited the island some years ago, gathered from archives in local churches the family history dating back several hundred years. Her brother Robert and his wife Gloria, by all reports are planning to arrive on the island during our stay so that he and Christine can share this portion of their heritage together. That's a profound treat. Rob and Glo come from Port Stanley, Ontario.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Day 28 - Cari's and Tim's Anniversary Today as we Ferry to Guernsey

This is my daughter Cari's and my son in law Tim's eleventh wedding anniversary today. Again for this family event Christine and I are far away but we remember nonetheless the wonderful memories of their wedding day and rejoice with them in their marriage and their family with three children.

I will remember as long as I have a memory the day that my only and beautiful daughter, with blue eyes and blonde hair, wore white and held an extraordinary floral bouquet, and stood caressing my arm while waiting for the anticipated and carefully selected sounds from the soundtrack of The Mission. (Hear ENNIO MORRICONE conducting The Mission (2007 UN Headquarters). Four Vancouver Symphony guest musicians sat at the front of our wedding auditorium that afternoon playing prelude music and then this magnificent score. I listened to it many times before that day, often alone in my car and thinking tearfully of the moment I would walk with her. On that day, her determination was my strength. A dad much in love with his girl, brought her to meet her man, her fiancee soon to be husband waiting with the words "I do." I even made the pronouncement to them that they were now husband and wife.

As Christine and I spend our last day and evening in this quaintest of port towns I bless you both and express our love for you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Day 24 - More of the Loire Valley

I must apologize that on days such as this, I have no access to internet to relate the experiences of the days. There will be others as well.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Day 23 - Loire and the Valencay commune

Valençay is a commune in the Indre department in central France. It is situated in the Loire Valley on a hillside overlooking the Nahon river. The commune was formed by the amalgamation of three settlements: the "Bourg-de-l'Eglise", the "Bas-Bourg", and what is called the "old quarter." On May 6, 1941, Georges Bégué, the first SOE agent from England was parachuted into a field near Valençay. Fifty years to the day, the Valençay SOE Memorial, originally known as the "Spirit of Partnership," was dedicated in honor of the 104 members of SOE's F Section who died for the liberation of France.

The town is dominated by the Château de Valençay, built in 1540 by Robert d'Estampes and most notably acquired in 1747 by the Scottish Banker John Law. Later, in 1803 the castle was purchased by the diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Day 22 - Chateauroux on the way into the Loire Valley

Châteauroux lies on the Indre River 250 km (155 miles) south of Paris and 142 km (88 miles) south of Orléans. Châteauroux is the capital of the Indre department in central France and the second-largest town in Berry, after Bourges. Its residents are called Castelroussines or Castelroussins. Châteauroux is one of the communes awarded the grand prize by the Concours National des Villes et Villages Fleuris, a beautification initiative begun in 1959. The castle from which the city takes its name was built in the latter part of the 10th century by Raoul, prince of Déols.The old town, close to the river, forms a nucleus around which a newer and more extensive quarter, bordered by boulevards, has grown up; the suburbs of St. Christophe and Déols lie on the right bank of the Indre.

Châteauroux inherited its name from the "Castrum Dolis", which became Château Raoul, founded between 917 and 927. It remained a "modest town" until the Revolution, and grew to its present size in the 19th and 20th Centuries. The town is situated on the edge of the immense State-owned forest of Châteauroux, which is dominated by sessile oaks, and the Brenne national park, a land of water and hedged farmland. In these delightful surroundings, the town has been able to safeguard and develop its natural environment. The Indre runs through the town, creating a kind of green valley, with little bridges, footbridges and paths where you can wander along the Indre without ever having to use or cross tarmac roads.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Day 21 - Loire Valley Travel

We are moving through the Loire Valley, stopping at B&B's and small hotels as we move from Dordogne, mid-west country to the north. We do this for the next five days, heading ever north to Normandy. Meanwhile, great chateaus and wineries mark the countryside all along the trip. It is exquisitely scenic. A feast for the eyes. We had heard about this and read about it but actually touring and stopping and viewing is beyond words.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Day 20 - Dordogne area - Foie Gras de Canard (Duck Liver)

Tomorrow, Friday, is market day. We love the town markets. They sell everything a person needs. BY THE WAY, I DID GET MY BERET.

Here is a picture of Velouté de foie gras de canard, (which is a very thick, creamy foie gras (duck liver) soup). We are in foie gras country. I used to enjoy calves' liver for a meal. Sort of got turned off in later years when I let my mind contemplate what exactly I was eating. So here we are in the area where ducks and geese are force fed in order to develop the biggest, healthiest livers in fowl that once can. The process is called gavage, and hoses are placed humanly, we are told, down a goose neck, to fill and fatten the bird and its liver. Then the livers are harvested, and I guess the rest of the gooses and ducks too. But the livers become rendered into foie gras, the speciality spread for crackers. Well it's actually more sophisticated than that. Goose lives is the best apparently, smooth and refined. I bought and have eaten duck liver, cheaper, and a bit stronger in flavour. That was 5 euros which is about $7.50 CA. But Goose Foie Gras Entier, the actual liver itself is very expernsive and a small jar may be 25 euros. Christine doesn't like the taste of this at all, so it is all mine. I have had about enough of it myself.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Day 19 - Le Buisson de Cadouin is where the Duckhouse is located

If I didn't make it clear, the Duckhouse title for our little gite (holiday house), derives from the fact that the building did serve as a duck raising house/shed before its conversion into this modern cottage. All appliances and kitchen and furniture is brand new and we were the very first guests the hosts have ever had here. All the stuff comes from IKEA an hour away in Bergeron. By the way, there is a town called Bergerac not far from here - remmember Cyrano de Bergerac, uh uh? with the long nose and unrequited love?

Le Buisson de Cadouin is situated at the crossroads of the departement’s main towns, the historical and tourist sites of the ‘Périgord Pourpre’ and the ‘Périgord Noir’ and of‘Bastide Country’. The town itself has developed around the train station and its railway network linking Bordeaux and Sarlat, Paris and Agen.

Le Buisson de Cadouin is also a cultural centre with a forward-looking, active library and an arts cinema. It is twinned with St Marcelline in Quebec.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Day 18 - Dordogne - visiting Sarlat and nearby Cave Drawings

Sarlat is 35 kms away from the Duckhouse. It is a wonderfully quaint city with a well known and busy weekly market seen here.

Cave Drawings
In the Perigord Noir within a 20 km radius of the city of Sarlat there are hundreds of caves with prehistoric sites with drawings, even theme parks. Several that we find attractive are the following.

Lascaux II was closed since 1963 because of algae and calcite and then in the past ten years demanding restorative work was done in parts of the cave. The reason for visiting these is the restored wall paintings.

Cap Blanc offers three dimensional friezes featuring almost life-sized horses that seem to jump out of the wall and the claim is made that these are 13,000 years old.
Font de Gaume contains thirty of the most beautiful cave paintings, most from about 12,000 BC. About a mile south is Les Combarelles, with a profusion of intermingled engravings of many animals, the horse being represented most frequently.

La Roque Saint Christophe is a stronghold in a limestone cliff, occupied from Cro-Magnon to relatively recent times. It features one of the largest natural terraces in Europe, with a great view of the river. Close by is the Prehistoparc, where children can see how life was lived by Cro Magnon. There are good walking trails here.

This is a painting of the town market

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Day 17 - Dordogne Cadouin

We are staying near Cadouin, a beautiful little town about 35km from Bergerac and 40 km from Sarlat. It is not far from the Dordogne River.

Cadouin is famous for its abbey. Founded in 1115 by Robert d'Arbrissel and taken over by Cistercian monks in 1119 it became one of the most important in the area. It became a pilgrim centre due to a piece of cloth said to be part of Christ's shroud. Pilgrims flocked to the Abbey which became part of the pilgrim route to Saint Jacques de Compostelle in Spain. Important pilgrims welcomed by the abbey included Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lion Heart. The shroud is now known to date from the 12th century but the Abbey remains worth a visit. The main attraction is the beautiful cloister in gothic style. There are many fine pieces of stone sculpture inside but many are damaged. In the French Revolution faces of religious statues were systematically destroyed throughout France. Cadouin Abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the pilgrim route to Compostella.

Part of the Abbey buildings, now beautifully renovated, now house the youth hostel in Cadouin. Take a look the buildings are lovely.

Next to the Abbey, the Halle at Cadouin is different to many in the area as it is set on stone rather than wooden pillars.

Around the halle and wandering through the streets there are lots of lovely buildings and there are some very interesting shops with furniture, pottery, pictures etc made by local artists. Some pieces really are very good.

Cadouin has a medieval festival every year during the second fortnight of August. This is a great time to visit the town and many people will be dressed in medieval costume.