Wednesday, May 2, 2012

More France

The next morning we headed just outside of Narbonne to l'Abbaye de Fontfroide.  It was a functioning abbey up until about 1901, when it was abandoned by the monks and purchased by a local family.  When we arrived, they were closing for lunch so we wandered the grounds first.

It was incredibly windy, but so very beautiful around the abbey.

After the lunch break was over, we took a tour inside the abbey.  The tour was only offered in French, which I was hoping would be okay after taking French classes for a few months before the trip.  Unfortunately, I couldn't understand anything the tour guide was saying and ended up being very thankful that I had gotten the audio guide in English too.  I guess I need to head back to French class again soon!

The tour was very interesting.  There were both monks and lay people that lived inside the abbey when it was a functioning monastery.  I found it interesting to learn that the lay people had to take the same vows of celibacy, poverty, etc as the monks, but were not actually monks.

Another highlight of the abbey tour was that they actually let us take pictures of the stained glass windows.  Most cathedrals we visited had signs indicating that we shouldn't take photos, so we didn't get to share much of that glory with you.  But the colors were incredibly bright and vivid in all of the stained glass we saw there.  I had forgotten, but the stained glass is one of the things I really enjoyed about Europe! I'm pretty much an uneducated lout when it comes to most artwork, but the way they meld those colors together and the sheer beauty when the colors stream through amaze me.

We enjoyed more delightful french bread and cheese and various pastries.  Sigh...  It was good to eat food I know again!

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