Friday, 1 October 2010

Vallée des Fresques

The Valley of Frescos.  A fair while ago I went to visit the Abbey of Saint Savin sur Gartempe, a beautiful abbey church decorated in the most magnificent frescos.  While I was there, I took a short walk along the river and noticed a sign indicating that if you followed the river far enough you'd be able to visit several other churches with similar frescos, hence the name, Vallée de Fresques.  I made a mental note that I should do that before long.

That was 18 months ago, but the other day I finally made it back.

This was not a successful trip.

The idea was to start at Montmorillon because there I could see three things at once: a church, a chapel and an octagon.  Apparently.  From the car park I could see a church but I never actually managed to reach it.  The two other places had no sign posts to them at all, so I didn't see them at all, never mind reach them.

The river looked pretty and I could see the church from here too.  This was just about as close as I got.
Onwards.  Plenty of other places on the list.  Next, Jouhet.

The river at Jouhet, the same river, the Gartempe.

This is the funerary chapel.  I went to the church first by mistake, which was shut.  However on the chapel door there was a notice to say that if you wanted to see it, the keys could be found in the bar.  Or, if the bar was closed, they would be in the Town Hall.  Well, it was a very small chapel and there were still plenty of places left on the list....

The church at Pindray .... was shut.  There was no indication of any keys anywhere.

They appeared to be having some difficulty in the surrounding graveyard, with rainwater washing away the earth.  Many of the gravestones had fallen over or were propped up at odd angles.

Pretty fountain, though.  Maybe it overflowed into the graveyard?

It wasn't until I got home that I discovered I should have been looking at the nearby château and not the church at all. I didn't lose anything though, because the château isn't open for visiting.  So that's all right then.

From flickr
On to Antigny.  Antigny appeared to be open - as we sailed past.  It was by now lunch time and my chauffeur was rapidly losing interest.  So I noted the open door for future reference.

And it was back  to St Savin itself for a bite to eat in the only place serving food for miles around.  Wednesday.  Why was everything shut?  There was only one more place left on the list, St Germain.  I didn't hold out a great deal of hope, and it was just as well.

It was shut.  You could collect the keys from the Town Hall, if you happened to know where that was.

The side entrance was locked too.  The church was very clearly recently renovated, possibly over-renovated?  It all looked a little too perfect for a mediaeval church.  The surround for the side door looked as though it had been painted on but it really is stone.  It will be pleasant when, if, it's allowed to weather a bit.

Every cloud has a silver lining, however, and I found that the river here gave one of the better views of the abbey itself.  All was not lost.  Lunch was OK too.  Ice cream for dessert. :)

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  1. Bored chauffeur and half day closing? Ruined the day!

  2. I'm reading a magazine aimed at Great War soldiers, which was printed in the late thirties. They contain many 'before and after' photos. The rebuilt churches shown are really fantastic creations, and each one differs from the next. Some wild ideas found among the architects at that time.

  3. I thought that churches are meant to be where one can get sanctuary -- in which case they'd be open 24 hours. But, alas, that doesn't seem to be the case any more in a lot of places -- including the part of the Valley of Frescoes! ;(

  4. @Adullamite, nearly ruined, but not quite. :) I didn't know that about the rebuilt churches after WWI. I must investigate.

    @YTSL, a reflection of the times, I suppose, that so many are locked. Yet at the same time I've found many others unlocked, though even they may be locked at night.

  5. Hello again. How lovely to have contact again. I haven't travelled in ages and your posts still make me drool and yearn.

  6. You may be interested in what you missed in Jouhet...see my blog post..."being constrained"


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


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