Monday, August 10, 2015

Caudebec - The Normand Abbey Trail! June 22, 2015

Today was our second full day of our river cruise and we were starting to feel quite at home on our ship.  We loved the routine, we enjoyed the dining experiences and the fact that the ship only had about 125 or so passengers on board, which meant we were really starting to get to know one another and make some vacation friends! See, you'd start to see the same people on the tours, then you'd see them at the meals and you would talk about the tours you did that day and have an instant connection to one another!  Before long you were sharing stories about home and families and becoming great vacation friends! There were people on board from many countries. Many from the US, Canada and then England, Australia, and even New Zealand! 

So this morning we woke up to gray, rainy skies.  But you know the saying "a rainy day on vacation is still better than a sunny day at work"!  We took that to heart, and picked up our umbrellas in the lobby, which the cruise line provided for us, and waited for our tour to begin.  Today we had a choice of either a drive through the countryside to see the Thatched Cottage Roof homes, or a visit to the Jumiège Abbey ruins and then a visit to the working Abbey of Saint Wandrille.  We had chosen the Normand Abbey Trail.  Now, that it was raining, although just a drizzle, we were thinking maybe the drive through the countryside might have been a better choice, but we forged on - rain couldn't stop me from more ruins!  

This is Caudebec-en-Caux, where we docked.  

Carol and I, along with our group of Abbey goers, arrived in the town where the St. Jumièges Abbey ruins were.  We originally were to have about 15 minutes to walk around, but with the rain, we decided to just head to the Abbey. But here's a quick picture of part of the town square I suppose it was.

The Abbey is one of the most impressive ruins in France. The last monks left here during the French Revolution, then parts of the magnificent buildings, which date back to the 10th century, were demolished. The monastery was used as a quarry before St. Jumiège was saved at the last minute from complete decay in 1852.


As we had our tour, we were shown how different parts of the monastery were built at different times, which you can definitely see here.  

This place was's difficult to capture the size of the structure!

This is the entrance, where the gift shop and information center was.

Back outside of the Abbey, Carol is thinking of taking one of these boats back to our ship!

After leaving this once used Abbey, we moved on to the St. Wandrille Abbey.  This is a Benedictine monastery which was built in the 7th century and about 50 monks still live here. There is a ruin of the Gothic church,  Baroque abbey buildings, cloisters and a Romanesque refectory all to be seen here!  We had a fantastic tour by one of the Brothers, who only spoke French, which was then translated by our guide.  I wish I could remember his name, because he was fantastic, even though he spoke not one word of English! One of his duties was to give tours, it was a calling and he definitely had the personality to do so!

Here he holds the key to let us into the Abbey.....

That's our guide translating, she isn't as annoyed as she looks, he was being quite humorous and in her translation, she was telling us one of his joking comments, and that's her sort of "ha ha" look.  It was followed by a big smile, just bad timing on my part in the picture taking!

Behind the gates, this is where the monks live.

Some of the ruins here at this monastery

We heard so many stories, and all about the daily life of the monks. We could ask any type of questions as well.

There is some very detailed, and time intensive restoration going on as well.  

It must be quite an interesting life to live there....

This is all of the ruins of the Gothic Church that was once part of the Abbey.  The current monastery is built basically connecting to these ruins.

And then they have this charming little chapel set in the woods a bit

And these are the graves of the monks from the monastery who have died

Thier current church is quite unique inside, although very simple

After our tour, we did go to the Abbey gift shop, where the proceeds go to the funding of the Abbey.  Many people bought wines and breads or books, or of course beer!  And then we were on our bus again, heading back to the ship for lunch.

We still had a very full afternoon ahead of us!  Rain or no rain, we were glad to have chosen this as our morning excursion. It was quite fascinating!

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