Monday, 1 August 2011

Abbey in the Valley

By now, you would have figured out that most of our destinations in Provence seemed to include a religious institution of some kind or other.  No, we were not on a pilgrimage but the church was so dominant in the middle ages that religious structures seemed to be the only ones around or still standing and worth seeing.  The Abbe de Senanque (apologies for all the missing accents in my French names -  I have yet to find them on the blogging site!) is hidden in a valley near the town of Gordes.  We had to drive down a narrow winding mountain road to get here, all the time keeping our fingers crossed that we wouldn't encounter a tour bus going in the opposite direction. The location is very secluded and I could imagine it would be very peaceful when all the cars were gone. It is an active monastery and guided tours in French were again the only way to see it.  

This used to be the dormitory for the monks.

Here is the chapel.

Note the asymmetry in the location of the windows in the chapel.

Haven't we seen this before?

I loved the challenge of taking photos in the dim lit rooms.  Figuring out the lighting was a learning experience, but there were also the physical challenges of trying to out manoeuvre a crowd of more than 50 people milling around and competing with other photographers for the prime spot for photos.  I have developed a technique when forced to be in a group - be the first one in and the last one out.  Other photographers had the same idea of course but we were all very considerate of each other and moved on when we were done, unlike people who didn't take photos but talked on cellphones or for some reason or other wouldn't get out of the room.

This was the room where meetings were held.

And here, the only room in the monastery with a fireplace, the place where the monks could do work or write as it was the only warm room.

Here is the door to the library - you can see the word "Bibliotheca" carved into the stone.  I would have loved to see inside, but it was not open to the public.  

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