16 November 2018

Vieilles pierres dans le Marais poitevin

The man we rented the Vendée gîte from was pretty talkative, wired even, when we arrived three weeks ago. That's not a criticism. He showed us how the kitchen was set up, how to work the satellite TV system, and how to connect the the internet. Then he started telling us what the local sights to see were, writing down 15 or 20 names of villages and other attractions in a stream-of-consciousness-style delivery. Our heads were spinning.



We decided not to go on any long drives the next day, but to stay close to "home" and see local sights before heading further afield over the week to come. We wanted to see places like La Rochelle and the Île de Noirmoutier, but doing that required long car trips. One thing the gîte owner told us we should try during our stay was a Vendée bakery specialty called un préfou, which turned out to be garlic bread, and is very good.




The best bakery for préfou was in the neighboring village of Fontaines, we were told. So we headed there first. It was mid-morning on a Sunday and the boulangerie/pâtisserie in the village would be closed for the afternoon. It was located just 2½ miles from the gîte. There were half a dozen other customers in the bakery, buying baguettes, croissants, and, yes, for some of them, a préfou. We were in the right place.




We drove away toward the east after getting our breads, thinking we'd go see three or four other villages — Maillezais, Nieul-sur-Autise, and Vouvant among them — and then return to the gîte in mid-afternoon, take the dog for a long walk along the Vendée river, and generally just relax and enjoy the fine weather. But of course we got lost. We came upon the church in Fontaines, but all the roads around it seemed to be sens uniques running in the wrong direction, or impasses leading nowhere. I got out of the car and took some photos of different features of the church, which I'm posting here. Then we had to backtrack to get to where we wanted to go.




The arch in the photo above looks like it used to be a doorway, but a blog post I found describing the Fontaines church, called Notre-Dame-des-Sources, says no, it was always just decorative. The church dates back at least to the 12th century. Here's a link to another blog that has a lot of photos of the church in Fontaines.

I took the photo above of the stone wall of a barn, I think it was, in Fontaines, just because it's interesting to see how these buildings are constructed. Carved stones of all sizes are go into the mix. The formerly independent commune (municipality) of Fontaines, by the way, merged with the neighboring commune called Doix in 2015. The newly formed commune is called Doix-lès-Fontaines ("Doix next to Fontaines"). We were headed to Doix [dwah].

13 comments:

  1. I love seeing these carvings on churches in smaller towns, because you have the sense that they are not re-touched by 19th century hands.

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  2. The stone wall is wonderful. Thanks for telling us how to say Doix.

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  3. Did you have a navigation system, or your phones, to get you out of being lost? The préfou sounds wonderful. I second that the stone wall in the last photo is cool.

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    1. We don't have or use smart phones or GPS. We just muddle through. We got very lost between the towns of Richlieu and Loudun on the first day of our trip because the main road, a straight shot just 12 miles long, was completely closed and the required déviation was poorly marked. In the end, I think the detour added only 6 or 7 miles to our trip, and we saw a lot of interesting village, towns, churches, and houses along the way, and found our way to Loudun just fine. It's hard to get too lost in France because the country is so densely populated and the road network is so extensive that you never have to go very far to get to an intersection with road signs that point you to the next town along the way.

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  4. I love all your posts but especially this one. When Danielle and I were driving in the Loire valley, we discovered Chateau de la Reve(sp) because of a detour. I feel there are no wrong roads in France, only new experiences. Btw, my new kitchen backsplash is very similar to that beautiful stone wall. Love them both!

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    1. I wonder what château that was, and where it is located. I'm glad you found it. One of my mother's favorite lines went something like this: She and her sister had found a really nice store in the town of Jacksonville NC and wanted to go back again one day when I was with them. I said okay, let's go. I was driving and I said they could show me the way. "But we were lost when we found it last time,"my aunt said, "and we have no idea where it was!" We found it, however, and they said the route I took was not half as long as the route they had taken earlier to get to the same destination.

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    2. Great story about your Mom!

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  5. What Evelyn said, gorgeous stone wall. And those church arches are, as well.
    There's an app called Wayz useful for navigation. A friend rec'd it, but I'm still learning how to use it.

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    1. I'll look into Wayz. I usually just do a lot of planning before we set out, studying paper maps as well as Google Maps and GeoPortail.fr.

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    2. I navigate with chart and compass. But Wayz is good for avoiding road problems -- it updates in real time.

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  6. Wayz has been recommended to me too but I haven’t looked into it yet.
    The chateau whose name I mangled is Chateau du Rivau

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    1. Oh, I know where Rivau is. We used to drive over there to buy Chinon wine from the nearby Château de Ligré. The Château de Ligré had a major fire a few years ago, if I remember correctly. I've never actually been inside or in the gardens. You were lucky to stumble upon it that day in 2008.

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    2. The fire was at Rivau, not at Ligré.

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