Sunday, November 23, 2014

Historical Midi and Pyrénées Triplet 2015

I'm already dreaming of our next stay in France and of course, the next triplet.

We are going to be a little more conservative this year, and explore the Pyrénées region of France.  There is so much to see that it will be a challenge to make this trip a triplet.

Cotignac-Arles-Saintes-maries-de-la-mer-Rennes-le-Château-Château-Verdun-St-Étienne de Baïgorry-Biarritz and back home.  950 kilometers and 4 nights.

For a North-American 950 kilometers is not a big deal. This however, is France and 950 kilometers is DENSE with gorgeous countrysides and things to see.

We could spend a solid week busy all day visiting worth-seeing sights.  As it stands, here are some spots that could make it on our list:

1. Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer: this is where Mary Magdalene is purported to have landed in France.  After visiting the cathedral at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume this year, I'm motivated to follow the footsteps of Mary in France...

2. Abbaye de Fontfroide: a wine-producing former Cistercian monastery with vaulted cloisters;

3. Montségur: a commune famous for its fortification, the Château was built on the ruins of one of the last strongholds of the Cathars;

4. Rennes-le-Chateau: an important site of Da Vinci Code fame where the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene is visited by 10,000 people/year;

Church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

Via Chateau de Gudanes website
The Class 1 Historic Monument was designed by Parisian architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel, famous for his neoclassical, architectural symmetry, including the Le Petit Trianon and Place de la Concorde. 
In 2013 it was purchased by an Australian family who have taken on the responsibility to awaken this sleeping beauty after years of neglect;
6. St-Étienne de Baïgorry: a beautiful town in the Pyrénées where velvety-green hills and sheep abound and very good cheeses are made;

7. Biarritz: is a luxurious seaside town (the Atlantic) and is popular with tourists and surfers.  My adoptive Tita and Tonton used to live in this area.  Tonton passed this year and I'm going to say goodbye at the cemetery;
Biarritz - La grande plage via Wikipedia
8. Toulouse: If there is time, I would like to visit Toulouse as it is a town that I haven't visited but know to be a lovely are from Kaari Meng's Château Getaway that takes place every summer just north of the city at Chateau Dumas.  This city is also the birthplace of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec whose paintings I loved as a girl. There is a Toulouse-Lautrec museum in Albi close by.

About Toulouse,  Wikipedia says:
A city with unique architecture made of pinkish terracotta bricks, which earned it the nickname la Ville Rose ("the Pink City"), Toulouse counts two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Canal Du Midi (designated in 1996 and shared with other cities), and the Basilica of St. Sernin, designated in 1998 because of its significance to the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route.

Over the winter, I'll be reading Ina Caro's The Road from the Past: Traveling through History in France to guide our way. I also have to reread sections of Travelling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk-Kidd because she makes a reference to some sites in this general area.


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