.All Trips / Europe / France

A visit to Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, France

Abbey Fountrevaud 2013-001 intro

Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud is situated in the western Loire Valley, a short drive from Chinon and near Saumur.  The name refers not only to Europe’s largest medieval abbey, built in the 12th century, but also to the medieval town that surrounds it.  The abbey is the prime focus of this discussion as it has a fascinating rich history that includes monks, nuns, royalty, Napoleon and prisoners.
We visited this abbey because my wife is a student of the Middle Ages and its kings and knights, and was determined to see the region in which the Plantagenets had lived.  I’m glad she insisted on coming here because the two days we spent at Abbaye Fountevraud were truly memorable and special.

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The Fortress and Medieval town of Chinon, France


There are few places in France of greater historic importance than Chinon.  You wouldn’t know that by what you see when you drive into it today as it seems a small sleepy rural town.  You’ll see little evidence of it’s past prominence except for the ruins of a fortress on a hill, only partially restored.  Between the fortress and pretty Vienne River is sandwiched a small medieval village within which you’ll find dozens of beautifully restored buildings and — best of all — a place in France that is virtually free of tourists.  The newer portions of the Chinon have grown beyond this, mostly to the riverbank opposite the historic district.  And beyond the town lies the vineyards and greater …

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.All Trips / Europe / France

France’s Loire River Valley — l’art de vivre (the art of living)

Loire Valley-2013-001-intro Chateau Usse

Many find a visit to the Loire Valley to be the highlight of their trip to France, as did we.   When we were planning our journey I discussed our itinerary with my friend, Wayne.  Wayne and his wife had traveled to France for their honeymoon and he shared with me that the best part of their trip was the time spent in the Loire Valley.  With this recommendation alone it was worth planning some time in the Loire and we’re so glad we did.

Loire is actually an Arabic name meaning “unpassable”, coined by the Moors as this valley was the northern limit of their penetration into Europe.  The Loire Valley traditionally separates Northern France from Southern France.  It …

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