Tuesday, April 10, 2007

sights for sore eyes

Friday afternoon I jumped on a train and headed east. Somewhere on the same train were my friend Christy and her mother, on their way to spend Easter weekend with Doc. I hadn't planned to see them until the next morning with Steph, but thanks to a scheduling conflict, I came alone a day early with Steph planning to meet up with us the next day. It was perfect timing - Doc and Christy were saying hello on the platform and Doc had just enough time to ask, "So, did you find your surprise on the train?" before I appeared and said, "'Sup?" Hilarity ensued.

Thus reunited, the four of us - joined the next morning by sweet Sarah (who is heading back home to Scotland after finishing her term as a teaching assistant this weekend and will be sorely missed!) embarked on two days of sightseeing.

We couldn't have ordered better weather - perfect blue skies, comfortable breezes in the low 70's - for exploring ancient ruins or wandering through narrow lanes in medieval fortified cities. Here's a brief synopsis of what we saw:

la porte champagne

The Château de Lafauche in Haute-Marne dates from the 10th century. There isn't much left but a few walls here and there, but it has been in various stages of restoration through the years and also boasts a gorgeous view of the surrounding countryside.

Our next stop was the village of Vignory, which also boasts a crumbling tower on a hill, its fortifications and a medieval garden. It is also home to this church:

Church of Saint Etienne

Doc tells me that this church dedicated to Saint Etienne is the oldest church in France still in use.

At this point, we retired to Doc's home, where we ate the most delicious fondue I have ever eaten in my life and hope to try to replicate next year, and we hit the hay for an early start on Saturday.

We headed south to Cote d'Or in the Borgogne region. Our first stop was the Abbaye de Fontenay.

chapter room

This abbey dates back 900 years and is in remarkable shape thanks to the family that now owns it and the UNESCO grant it received in 1981. You can read about its interesting history here.

After a rejuvenating lunch in the town of Montbard, we headed to our second destination.


Flavigny-sur-Ozerain is well known for two things: yummy aniseed candies (I bought a beautiful wooden box for Steph that contained three tins of different flavored aniseed candies) and for being the location of the movie Chocolat. I have to admit that by the time we had the list of locations of the movie, Doc, Sarah and I could only contemplate searching out a cool drink at the local watering hole, but Christy and Mrs G went to hunt them up, so they may have some photos to show you sometime in the future.

Filled to the brim with beautiful sights, we headed home, pizzas in hand, to meet up with Steph and Marc, who were holding down the fort. After an evening of dinner and conversation, Steph and I headed home.

Even as I type, Christy and her mother are probably hanging out at Charles de Gaulle airport, getting ready to head home. It was so great to see y'all, and fun to discover these places with you! Have a safe trip home and I can't wait to see the rest of the photos of your adventures from this side of the ocean!

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