We had a full day in Moissac yesterday and a 21-kilometre walk to beautiful Auvillar today. Yesterday’s highlight was touring the Saint-Pierre de Moissac Abbey and its cloister from the Romanesque period (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The Abbey dates back to the 7th century and the cloister was completed in the year 1100. Among the 76 capitals decorating the cloister, more than half of them depict episodes of the Bible or the saint’s lives and the rest are decorative. The 12th century tympanum over the main doorway depicting Christ and the Apocalypse was sculpted after the cloister.
The Abbey and cloister were impressive but we were equally intrigued by the precious manuscript kept under glass. “A cloister with no library is like an army with no arms.“ This saying which dates back to the 12th century shows how essential books used to be for the religious communities. At the beginning of the 12th century, around one hundred monks lived inside the monastery. Their main occupation was praying, but they also needed to perform some manual work. One of their jobs was to copy religious texts. The making of a manuscript was a long and complex task. Parchment was made from calf, goat, or sheep skin. Then the scribe had to trace the lines with a dry nib, make the ink, cut the quills, and prepare colours based on plant or mineral extracts.
Yesterday all the pilgrims staying at Gîte et Chambre d’hôtes Ultreia packed up and (sadly) left us behind because we were staying two nights. There was a whole new group of pilgrims at dinner last night. It was warm enough when we sat down to dinner at 7 o’clock in the garden, but two hours later when dinner was over it was very chilly – a preview of how cool it would be this morning.
It was just 9° this morning but perfect for walking. It felt great to be back on the trail and we loved this trail along a tree lined canal with reflections of boats, bridges and trees on the smooth waters. Soon we had a choice: take the GR 65 over the hills or continue walking along the canal for another 7.2 kilometres. No question! We took the canal! Dave said it was the most peaceful and enjoyable walk he’s ever had in Europe and that says a lot!
We arrived in Auvillar too early to check into la Chambre d’hôtes La Petite Inde so we explored the beautiful, hilltop village for awhile. We found an interesting epicerie that was more like a post office with windowed mailboxes. You put your money in and you take out your casserole, a bag of tomatoes, salad, etc. What a great idea!
We settled down at an outside table for a beer and saw something we have never in our lives seen before. A funeral went by with a casket on a trolley and two men steering it. The funeral party walked behind. Everyone along the route became quiet while the funeral procession paused and people paid their respects. It was a beautiful farewell to a loved one who must have been known by everyone in this village of fewer than one thousand inhabitants.
We love our colourful, private room at la Chambre d’hôtes La Petite Inde (Little India). Everything is beautifully decorated and dinner promises to be delicious judging by the fragrant spices being used. We can hardly wait! 😋