Sunday, 9 September 2007

Day Out

Today we went out with friends - first to the Abbaye de Valmagne and then on to lunch by the water at Meze. We all had a lovely time!The Abbaye is well worth a visit. Still in private ownership (and one part lived in by the family) it must be the only church with huge wine barrels inside. That's my idea of a religious establishment!
Built originally in the 11-12th centuries on the site of a Roman villa, it was expanded and fortified, and then decimated during the revolution. With the stain glass windows smashed to smithereens, and stone used to fill the gaps, it was purchase in about 1790 by a private individual who used the massive church as his wine cellar - no windows meant no light and so a perfect environment to mature your wine!
Because of this use, the local peasants refrained from nicking all the stones to build their houses - it is therefore reasonably intact.

The current owners have been gradually renovating this massive project - by that I mean trying to prevent further deterioration! Unfortunately the stone used in its construction is too porous and weathers very badly - but it is such a pretty pink colour, we are told!!
I certainly would not like their bills - the last 18 months of work cost 635,000 Euro and they footed 41% of this themselves! Begs the question about whose responsibility it is to care for what is a certified 'national treasure'?!
Note the crucifix - made out of 'ceps de vigne', which are the gnarled vine stumps. Only a wine making Frenchman would think of this!
Also note this tree and the wall - the tree continued growing so much that they had to slice a bit off the side of the trunk so that it would not push over the wall. And when it continued to grow even more, they cut an arch through the wall to make room! That's a French gardening solution for you - we would probably have cut down the tree - it is not as if it is a special one!!And look at this massive fireplace!
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We had a nice meal at a seafood restaurant - but do not even ask about the service!!

This man spent the whole time on his feet shucking oysters - everyone was eating huge platters of them!


Lee and Nic.


Riet and Albert.




Albert and Richard.

2 comments:

Gogus said...

http://www.wineterroirs.com/2005/02/abbaye_de_valma.html
This link takes you to a site dedicated to wine tasting around France. The Abbey was one I remembered reading about and thought it sounded great.
We used the site last year when we went to Paris, we printed of a few pages and visited some of the wine bars. It was fantastic we went into places we would not have considered other wise.
John & Carol

Jacqui U said...

This is a brilliant site - very interesting! Thank-you John and Carol.

I wish I had read it before visiting the Abbaye - I would have appreciated it even more. Unfortunately we did not get time to taste any of their wines - now I wish we had!