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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The world of weekends and what I found there...

Since the beginning of 2012 life has been a bit different. I've been spending time closer to home, getting to know the city of Nantes, especially its medieval quarter where I officially live but have spent relatively little time until recently. Weekends have been devoted to travel among friends in the magical region of Brittany to the north or along the seacoast just south of Nantes. My obsession with ancient architecture and the beautiful countryside is always richly rewarded in this lovely region. And of course I adore sharing my walks with are a few...

January found me in the medieval center of Dinan, Brittany, a town crowned on one of its hilltops with the beautiful Romanesque basilica of Saint Saviour. The church was commissioned in the early twelfth century by a crusader knight, Rivallon le Roux, in fulfillment of a battlefield vow to build a church if he survived to return home to Brittany. Its exterior is rich in stone carvings, some still fresh and lively, others eroded to mere suggestions of form.
 Later in the same day I walked along the windy cliffs high above a jewel tone ocean.

On another weekend I visited friends at the seacoast close to Nantes. Across the road and visible from their front room is a Romanesque chapel, St. Jean-Baptiste, nearly the polar opposite of Saint Saviour in its minimalistic simplicity and rough stone walls.
Prigny, France
On the beach in nearby Moutiers en Retz, a storm had dredged up the most plentiful variety of seaweeds I have ever encountered. I worked in the morning cold to make mandalas from sea treasures and left them for the rising tide to claim.

Yet another weekend in Brittany and another couple with an ancient chapel next door.
Their house is an old traditional stone and stucco country place made consciously green. They grow and preserve much of their own food and purchase most of the rest from local farms. There is wood heat, a natural grey water filtering system of small ponds and a composting toilet.
In the niche once reserved for a saint's figure a saxophone playing gnome now guards the house front.
The heart of the cozy kitchen/living area.
I visited the chapel both days and left a small offering of bracken and catkins at the foot of its ancient stone cross. 
chapel door and window with lichen

And when I was not traveling, I spent much of my weekend time in the charming Jardin des Plantes in Nantes, a nineteenth century botanical garden rich in lovely water features and a seemingly endless array of ducks.
Wishing you all a magical spring (or fall) wherever you may dwell.

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