Tag Archives: Moutier d’Ahun

France 2018 – to the Auvergne (made it!!) – days 10 & 11

19th September (Day 10)
Aubusson & Tolkien

10 days in and we have finally made it to the Auvergne! We are stopping at Camping La Perle about 12km from Aubusson – the most prominent tapestry and weaving centre of Europe, in fact a UNESCO site.
After a morning walk we drove into Aubusson ready for a 2hr lunch at Les Maison du Pont followed by a walk around the 2 main museums of tapestry. One houses some contemporary tapestries in 6 rooms of a very old house which is the Office du Tourisme – the contrast between an old building and more modern tapestries was fascinating. It was here we found out that the artist who creates what is called a ‘cartoon’ for the weaver to follow and in traditional Aubusson style is done in reverse.

The Tapestry Museum in Aubusson – the amount of colours being employed is amazing

Inbetween the two tapestry museum visits we came across a tiny studio with the artist producing some very different pieces of work. They reminded me of the Cirque du Soleil and on discussing this with the artist (in my best french of course) he enlightened me and told me they wee after the style of Cirque de la Luna (is there such a troupe? – I’ll have to google it!).

Strangely different sculptures to be found in a little studio – Aubusson

The sculptor at work

The second venue was the Cité Internationale de la Tapissaire. It can take anything up to a month for 1 sq metre of tapestry to be completed – when you see the size of some of the works one wonders how they keep motivated. I guess it’s like a painting, you slowly see it develop. We learnt such a lot in such a short space of time I could not do justice to it here. My suggestion would be to get online and have a look. One of the most amazing projects the venue is tackling is turning a series of J.R.R. Tolkien’s original illustrations into tapestries. Since negotiations with the Tolkien estate started in 2013 they have chosen 14 illustrations and have manged to complete the first in April this year after starting it last November. The technique harks back to the 16th & 17th Centuries when tapestries were used to tell a story – also they are utilising the colour styles of those centuries (5 only in a group of greens or blues or reds, etc) which leads to a more co-ordinated pallet.

The first finished Tolkein tapestry along with studies for the next

The ‘cartoon’ as it is called along with colour swatches to be used by the tapestry experts.

Absolutely fascinating and absorbing, so much so we said we would return for the final tapestry being completed in 2021! A very uplifting and energising day which has given both Janette and I food for thought regarding inspiration for future artistic projects when we finally cut the bonds of work.

20th September (Day 11)
Hoping for more of the same

Having rested Hilma for a couple of days we are off again on another search for a France passion site. We have our eyes on a bio-culture farm.
Before that though we want to look at a small Benedictine Abbey in Moutier d’Ahun. What a pretty village, plenty of money here we guessed. A river running through it, an old Roman bridge, the abbey with it’s beautiful wooden carvings, a restaurant – whats not to like? Unfortunately this late in the French holiday season the abbey was closed so we had a little wander through the village and learnt all about the old mill and oil press.
We head for our overnight stop and arrive in the afternoon only to find piles of soil, a straw shed, some old tarpaulins and a large wooden hut, also a route barré chain across the drive – no thanks. So off we go again on another Plan B- this time aiming for a vineyard producing Vins de Tourraine. Upon arrival we were greeted by Sophie who was also busy trying to organise a coach tour so got her Mother-in-Law to show us to our designated parking spot overlooking the vineyards of Francois Jourdain. Fascinated, we watched the grape harvesting machine work late into the evening (only to be woken by it again at 6:00am – ahh the romantic life of a motorhomer. Settling down for the night I was perturbed by the lack of power in the water taps – I couldn’t figure it out, the battery voltage was high enough, we had enough water – oh well, will have to sleep on it.

France 2018 – to the Auvergne (maybe) – days 8 & 9

17th September (Day 8)
Journey to the centre of the Earth (well France)

A good night’s sleep at Sury – waking to glorious sunshine we watched a pair of red squirrels attacking the walnut tree (and then Janette had a go and retrieved a bag full of walnuts). Within 15 mins we also saw a Kestrel, a Woodpecker, a Nuthatch and plenty of tits. Walking down the road and saw at least 3 Great White Egrets and numerous Grey Herons – a beautiful walk.

Gourds on a garden fence – a walk from Chateau Sury

We plan our route by looking at the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness book of France looking for interesting places to visit. We then look at which aire’s / passion sites / or camp sites are in the area and hava plan A & B just in case we can’t get in. We then look at the maps and highlight a route and put key parts of the drive into Mrs. Garmin – if we just put the final destination I guarantee she will take us down some narrow farm track with no places to turn – she’s a bit of a meany like that and I don’t know why we employ her. Janette is the voice of reason and will quite often admonish Mrs. Garmin for her stupid suggestions.
Onward we go as the France Passion stopovers are only for 24 hrs – we don’t need to chase the sun as it’s all around us. We are still heading for the Auvergne and tonight’s stop will be at St.Amand-Montrond. We arrive in the late afternoon and don’t like the look of the aire and decide to move on to a camp site in Bruere Allichamps which is the very centre of France – I’ve yet to get my compass on the map to test this – I’ll just have to trust the French they have their measurements correct. The site was unmanned and barriered and we had to purchase a Camping-Car card from the machine (€4) at the entry and load it with €8 for one night’s stay. Toilet block was closed but a bonus was free wi-fi which allowed me to top up the sim card to get online and write the blog (I had been without wi-fi for 4 days so much of this is catch-up).

18th September (Day 9)
Abbeye Noirlac

We had identified Noirlac Abbey as a place to visit en-route to our next stop. We are getting into a rhythm with traveling now – we try and get some walking or cycling in the morning and move on before midday or, if we have a longer drive, try and get away before 10:00am (never happens!). The Abbey was literally only 5km away and the area near the camp site was uninspiring for a walk or cycle so we headed off to the Abbey. This place had massive car parks but very few cars – the time of year was on our side.

Noirlac Abbey – contemporary logo

Noirlac Abbey was home to two communities in the 12th Century; choir monks and their lay brothers. The way I saw it the lay brothers were the go fetch people for the monks – basically servants to the choir monks making sure the Abbey ran smoothly and letting the monks get on with prayers and singing.
The Abbey itself had been in restoration since 1959 and continues to this day. What I took away from this was the sheer beauty of the light within, no darkened stained-glass windows here, as you can see from the pictures.

The Abbey Church

Beautiful windows in the Abbey Refrectory

The building does not hold any special religious meaning for me, rather I am more interested in the historical aspect of medieval times and the architectural wonder and how this must have been a very imposing building. My mind tries to comprehend how people lived in those times and just how much effort went into building such a place. Interesting how in contemporary times the building is being used for choral and music concerts and I imagine would be magnificently lit for those evening soirées.

Cloisters – imagine walking through these in your habit

Not quite as old as the Abbey – these 100yr old Lime trees brought some welcome shade to the garden

We left Noirlac with a sense of well being and motored on towards a campsite (La Perle) near Aubusson. Having eventually found it (the Lat/Long co-ords in the Touring France book published by the UK Caravan and Motorhome Club book take you down some very tiny roads which if you did have a caravan on the back would be very scary and impractical) we had a look around before deciding to put our feet up for 2 nights. Their were two places we wanted to visit nearby – Aubusson (home of French Tapistry artisans) and Moutier d’Ahun.