Sunday, 25 September 2016

Journées du Patrimoine

Moss has taken over the crumbled towers
Last weekend were the Journées du Patrimoine – the European Heritage Days. This weekend, towards the end of September, is always a feast for us perpetual tourists as they are the two days in the year that some special places are open and it is the weekend that entry into the large attractions is free or at a reduced price.

Cees is the senior tourist and he pours over the pages of the newspaper (aka Le Journals de Saône et Loire) and spends hours trawling the internet to find out exactly what is going on. Priority is given to places that are rarely open and a couple of days before the Saturday, a proposed visit plan is presented to the junior tourist. She then scrutinises, criticises and adjusts the programme and we come up with our final plan of attack.

The largest part of Lournand castle that is still standing
Sadly this year, the weather, which has been hot and very summery, decided to break on the Saturday morning. The day started grey so that the flypast I mentioned in my last blog was cancelled. Not a good omen for the weekend. But even faced with such adversity, we were not downhearted and we moved from the non-existent fly past to our next destination - the castle at Lournand. This castle is only ever open to the public on the Journeés du Patrimoine and so it is a must see. The site is large and rather dangerous for those who do not know their way around, so it normally locked and the public is kept away except for these two days when guided visits are available. Saturday we were there for the first tour after lunch and we were not disappointed.

Trees growing into the stonework
The site is much larger than I had expected and we were escorted around by the president of the association that has dedicated itself to rejuvenating the site. They won’t be rebuilding the castle, but they are restoring it into a safe state. To rebuild would be an impossible task and would take away from the beauty of the place in my opinion. I was fascinated by the way nature had taken over this ancient structure during its years of neglect. Where the towers have collapsed, moss has covered the stones in a brilliant green carpet and where the walls are still standing, trees have grown into the stonework creating a feast for the eye.

It started to drizzle as we went round, but we completed the whole visit (not far short of two hours) relatively dry.

We then moved on to see a small chapel that is never open - not really exciting, but it was turned into a post office for the weekend, so we bought a postcard and mailed it to ourselves.

Sunday dawned even more miserably than Saturday and by the time we set off (09.30) it was chucking it down. Knowing that it was likely to rain, we had reserved the indoor sites for this day. We went to the Doyanée at Bezornay, which has been split into four residential properties and is therefore never open to the public. It was a real treat. We had visited the site many months ago, but of course we could only see the outside and not all of that either. Seeing the place from the inside gave us new insights as to how the whole was in its heyday.

Imagine a living room like this
The chapel, which has just been restored and is now someone’s living room was spectacular, the attention to detail in the restoration process and the enthusiasm of the owner, made that for me the highlight of the weekend.

Despite the horrible weather, it was a very successful weekend.

Monday dawned sunny and we are now back to the Indian summer we have been enjoying for the last few weeks - long may it last.

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