A couple of times today we felt a twinge of regret that we hadn’t taken the high route above the cliffs overlooking the valley. Instead, we took quiet country “D” roads all the way from Marcilhac to Cabrerets. We were satisfied with our decision later when we heard from our host, Richard, about the ups and downs that make 19 kilometres seem like 29, especially on a hot day like this. There weren’t many cars, the terrain was flat, the views of the beautiful cliffs were stunning, and the river meandered beside us much of the time. There were many road signs warning drivers of falling rocks which really made us wonder how people can build homes under these cliffs!
We had a couple of history lessons that I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post. We visited the ruined but still beautiful Abbaye Saint-Pierre in Marcilhac-sur-Cele. It was built in the 9th century and experienced its golden age from the 12th century. It was partly ruined during the Hundred Years War, rebuilt in the 15th century, and then burned down again by the Protestants during the Wars of Religion. It is a Historic Monument and there is talk about it being restored to its former glory. We like it as it is, maybe just to serve as a reminder about how senseless wars are.
We saw Sainte Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) in the church and learned a little about her, too. The camera feature of Google Translate worked like a charm to translate French signs. Jeanne was a peasant girl who felt at a very young age that she had a mission. She must have twisted the king’s arm to allow someone as young as she was to lead the French troops against the English armies. She helped reverse the course of the Hundred Years’ War. She was captured and sold to the English who conducted a heresy trial in 1431 and burned her at the stake when she was just 19-years-old. Because the trials were eventually found to be flawed, she was declared innocent in 1451 and made a saint in 1920.
By afternoon the sun was beating down and radiating off the pavement. The road narrowed and was snug against the cliffs so, if there happened to be an out-of-control car, there was no place to leap. We were happy to finally reach Auberge de la Sagne just beyond Cabrerets.
Our host, Richard, offered to drive us up to the Grotte de Pech Merle after breakfast tomorrow. It is one of the few caves in France where you can still see the original cave paintings. They were painted 30 thousand years ago when sabertooth tigers were around. Imagine that! We’ve got lightening, thunder, and heavy rain right now so who knows what weather we’ll be facing by morning!?