Tag Archives: Noirlac Abbey

And so it ends (day 18)

27th September (Day 18)
Spoonbills and Avocets

This will be our final full day in France for 2018 – I’m sure we will be back next year (I feel Brittany calling – out of season).
Janette has identified a nature reserve on the North Coast – Le Parc du Marquentierre – from what we could gather the land belonged to a tulip grower who turned it into a nature reserve in the 70’s and 80’s. We have brought along a spotting scope I recently purchased second hand, so we are hoping to see some decent ‘oisans’ close up (25x maginification).
We turn up before midday and learn the long route (6kms) with 13 hides will take about 2hrs (I usually add half on again) so we decide to take some supplies with us. The first section was a little uninspiring but later on we were treated to some pretty good birdwatching. Spoonbills galore – throughout the day we counted about 120 in 2 different flocks (a first for Janette) – I had some pretty decent binoculars that I’ve had a couple of years but the scope is just fantastic – 3 times the magnification of the binoculars and with a large front lens not much loss of light. We then went on to see Avocets (another first for Janette) and later on some Moufflon and wild horses grazing near the scrapes. We were told by one of the wardens of a rare vagrant bird which had arrived from N.America – a Pectoral Sandpiper – just the one (and we managed to spot it!). To top it all as we were leaving a wild boar mother and 5 piglets crossed Hilma’s path. Not quite a black cat but we thought it was lucky 😊 A great way to spend our last full day – now we are off to top Hilma up with some wine to take back.
All good things must come to an end (or do they) – well maybe temporarily, “we’ll be back”.

Highlights and lowlights
There are so many memories of this holiday we will both take away with us. Passion France was an eye opener for us – you still have to be a bit choosy in terms of where you would like to stay, vineyards, market gardens, working farms or Chateaus. My favourite was meeting the old boy at Chateau Sury – I’ll never forget helping him fix his curtain and his wonderful smile when we said goodbye.
Aubusson was the next highlight for me with it’s inspiring art and tapestries – somewhere I’m sure we will go back to (hopefully to see the rest of the JRR Tolkein tapestries).
Noirlac Abbey was a peaceful interlude where the ‘light’ will forever stick in my memory. In between we have passed through many villages and towns which we have noted we would like to visit some other time – France is so large we will never see it all.
Cycling to Troo and seeing the Troglodyte caves was another little adventure which was fun – such an unusual place situated on the Loir.
Then the most amazing ‘visual indigestion’ trip to Giverny to see Monet’s house and gardens, what can I say? It was beautiful day and a beautiful place.
The ‘pièce de resistance’ was our last full day in France at Le Parc du Marquentierre mentioned above – 200 hectares set aside for nature and nature lovers.
Some obvious lowlights if you have been reading the blog was the failure of the water pump and the loss of the lockable Gazole cover – but you know what – that’s all part of motor-homing, it goes with the territory and with a little luck, asking for some help and a little ingenuity you can always get by and motor on.
This was the first holiday where we had planned with a ‘broad brush stroke’ identifying regions we wanted to visit and then ‘homing’ in on places we wanted to see using a French guide book. The only thing is we didn’t want to see every cathedral or church it had to offer so we sought out alternatives – even missing a few we might come back too.
Total accommodation cost for 18 days: £127. If we include the France Passion purchases for our hosts products that rises to a whopping £208 (£11.55 a day) not bad.
A fantastic treat – we are so privileged to be able to do this. Stop work for 3 weeks and really enjoy ourselves. We wouldn’t have done anything different, each day was an adventure, something to embrace and build upon for the future.
Bye for now – until next time.
Ian and Janette xx

The dodgy duo signing off until our next trip

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.