Saturday, October 23, 2010

Abbaye de Sénanque

Having had our eye on a walk from Gordes to the Abbaye de Sénanque, we finally set out to follow what was supposed to be an easy hike—and for once, the book was right! A few parts of the trail made Mom nervous as we walked along the edge of the hill with steep drop-offs to the valley below, but for the most part the trail was smooth with only gentle inclines, even if they were long. A nice flat rock offered a fine setting for lunch, with the Abbaye in view below; the only down side was the gray weather that we seem to be getting every weekend. But, as Dad pointed out, about 25% of the rainy days are during the weekend no matter where you are. Verrrrry funny, Dad!

Lots of areas are marked for hunting; this time we did
actually see some hunters across the valley.
A photo Alan took while working on his woods project.
You can take a tour of the abbey, but we decided to go to None instead. Eight monks came out to perform the 10-minute singing service. We thought that all the monks came to every service, but that’s not very many of them if there are only eight! The abbey was founded in 1148 and prospered greatly, with so many monks that they expanded to found another abbey in Vivarais. The monks are of the Benedictine order, and so the buildings are all austere and without decoration, although for a while at its peak in the 13th century the wealth of the abbey gave was to the pressures of corruption. Revived to the ideals of their order by the rule of a good abbot in the 15th century, the abbey survived until 1544 when the monks were hanged and some buildings razed in the Vaudois Revolt. It never really recovered, was sold as private property but thankfully kept intact, and eventually returned to the church.

This is the most famous view of the abbey,
usually taken in June when the lavender bushes
are in full bloom.

We returned to Gordes along the old mule path, through narrow lanes with high stone walls on either side; we had seen others like them only when going to the Village of the Bories just outside of Gordes. Perhaps it is just the local style, or maybe they just have too many masons in town with nothing else to do : )

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