Under a blazing sun and temperatures in the top 20°c, the intrepid group of 17 met to explore the ruins of the “Abbaye de la Sauve”. This was to be an initial sortie into the heart of the “Entre deux Mers” region for several members. Building of this huge abbey complex started in 1079, at one point it was the head of 70 priories that stretched from England to Aragon and it was a major stopping place for the pilgrims travelling to and from Santiago de Compostela. The Abbey itself dates back to the 12th Century and during its later life has been a hospital, a prison and even a school. Fortunately, in the early 20th Century it was decided that the ruins should be saved for posterity.
We were given really good guide books that illustrated the points of interest that we were to see. These were located by tiles set in the ground which corresponded to pages in the book thus allowing discussion between us all.
One of the major attractions to the Abbey is the wide variety of diverse stone carvings. Which ranged from the story of Adam & Eve, Daniel being thrown to the lions, through to Homer’s Odyssey. Apart from these obvious ones there were many that had yet to be included in the guide book and their relevance explained.
The second major attraction is the tower which is complete except for its roof. Access is allowed and a few intrepid members climbed to the top. I would note that such a journey in such a building would never be allowed by UK Health and Safety. I admire them for their fortitude!!!
After the grounds, ruins and museum were explored we descended upon a small local restaurant. There we enjoyed a well presented, delicious meal with local wine included.
A special thank you is due to Hugh, our organiser, who lives nearby, and as a relatively new member already organised the successful river tour earlier this year. (Phil)
(Click here to view the photo album)
A former Benedictine monastery is sited in a magnificent location near the present village of La Sauve in the department of the Gironde, in a region once heavily forested. Although now in ruins, the remains of the abbey are still of great interest in terms of Romanesque architecture, especially because of the many sculpted capitals still surviving.
In 1998 the abbey ruins were included as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the pilgrimage route to St. James of Compostela
Meet at 10:15 for the tour. The address is:
L’Abbaye de La Sauve-Majeure, 14 Rue de l’Abbaye, 33670 La Sauve-Majeure.
The GPS co-ordinates of the entrance are: 44.767800, -0.312527
Please contact Hugh to book