Bicycle Gourmet’s French History Fiesta goes down every year. All over France. Usually just for one day. Sometimes two. And, happily, it’s (mostly) free. While it’s not a holiday in the strict sense of the word, it’s equally, not a day of work.
It’s offical title is : “Le Journee Du Patrimoine.” which, loosely translated(and isn’t that the best way?) is:” The day of History appreciation. ” This is the day that private Chateau you’ve always wanted to visit but couldn’t is obliged to open it’s doors to “le grand public.” (if it is classed as one of the Historical Treasures of France.)
Like every Monstrous Religious edifice in France Le Abbaye Royale du Fontevraud has a history worthy of several Hollywood movies. (“Abbey Wars — The Sequel!” ) It was founded in 1100 as a “double” monastery -ie — Monks and Nuns side by side. A rarity in any era. A variety of King’s, Queens, and assorted Royalty are also associated with it. Particularly the English Plantegenet line.
Eleanor of Acquitane, the Widow of Henry 2 become a nun at Fontevraud. Henry was buried there, along with their son, Richard “The Lionheart” (who spent most of his short life in France) as well as their daughter Joan, their grandson Raymon VII of Toulouse, and Isabella of Angouleme, wife of Henry and Eleanor’s son King John.
The French Revolution, bringing bad news to almost everyone, didn’t spare Fontevraud. It ordered all monasteries closed.
Eventually, in 1804, the former Abbey became a prison. Reputed to be one of the harshest in France. During World World Two, scores of French Resistance fighters were executed there by the Vichy Government.
After a major restoration, Fontevraud was opened to the public in 1985.
It’s now open to you in THIS VIDEO .(Tip : Best enjoyed(by music lovers) without the robot piano soundtrack)