Monday, 25 March 2013

Villebois-Lavalette (Part one)

On Sunday, we went to the Foire des Rameaux et des cornuelles at Villebois-Lavalette, some way south-west of here, on the border with the Dordogne department. The small town clings to the side of one of  two neighbouring hills, which rise steeply from an undulating plain. It is easy to see how those people of long ago decided that these were strategic positions for defence!

The "foire" is an annual fair, with Palm Sunday celebrations - "rameaux" means palms in French)   Cornuelles are traditional large triangular biscuits, about 150mm (6 inches) to a side, with a hole in the centre, always baked and eaten at Easter time. There were long queues at the two bakeries!. The central hole was used in the past by cornuelle sellers, who transported the biscuits by threading them onto a stick! The "fair" part was pretty much the usual; countless tables of junk goods for sale, but what is rubbish to one man is useful to another!!  

We had previously booked a guided tour of the château, which was our main item of interest of the day, but that will wait for part two of this series!  We could not believe how lucky the organisers were for the weather this day; it has  been rotten for weeks, but the sun shone from a very blue sky, broken by small puffy clouds and it actually felt warm!

We do not often see pony rides offered at  local fairs, so this was something different for us. The animals came from a nearby equitation centre.

This lady artist had some very interesting art works on sale. The bee on the right was taken down and sold, seconds after I took this photo!

We could not return home without some great home-made saucisson. This stallholder wanted €10 for 3, but we found another stall that sold 4 for the same price!

I also could not resist a small packet of French nougat. Haribo is a German sweet company founded in 1920, but now apparently the world's biggest manufacturer of gummy sweets - so now you know!

We then wandered up to the newly restored covered market place (les Halles)  in the centre of the small town. It was built in 1665, paid for by the French nobleman who owned the château on the hill above. The town mayor decided to erect the stone columns in 1855 to replace the original oak ones, when the principal road through the town was widened (it's still not very wide!).

The original oak roof structure, below which.........

 the Palm Sunday service commenced.  The congregation then made their way up the steep hill to the church for the remainder of the service.

Thankfully, I had taken some  photos of the church on a previous visit, when the building was not in use!

The church of Saint-Romain. You see what I mean about the climb!
On 31 March 1864, the town benefited from a bequest in the will of the parish priest, named Vacher. The careful economies of the priest, together with the sale of his goods, realised the sum of 30,000 francs, sufficient to pay, in those days, for the enlargement and reconstruction of the church, dedicated to Saint Romain de Lavalette. His will also included the proviso that a requiem mass be celebrated in  perpetuity, on the anniversary of his death.

The church, dating from the XIIIth century, was eventually enlarged and reconstructed from 1894.
The view from the top of the church steps is quite stunning. You can see the other hill (with its own castle!) in the background.

 The side and rear of the church.

The altar inside the church.

The beautifully restored organ at the back of the church.

Some of the stained glass windows........

                                    set in exquisite stonework!


Part two of Villebois Lavalette will cover the château and some of the interesting bits of history in the town, about which our excellent tourist guide told us.
There is also a lot of information about the town HERE, but not the church.





See also - My Life Before Charente Updated 25/03/2013

and my daily photo diary  HERE
http://photodiarydps.blogspot.com 

81 comments:

  1. Hi Diane, you have stunning photos here. thanks for sharing. Love days out that have a fair or market involved :-) Haribos are a huge seller , even here in the UK ... and I love Nougat too.

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    1. Anne thanks for the kind comment re my photos. I think the new Nikon has a lot to do with it! We went on to the chocolate fair afterwards which was not very exciting, and the stands were not worth taking photos of. The chocolate though on the La Rochefoucauld stand was as good as ever but very pricey! Hope that you week is a good one, take care Diane xx

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  2. DEAR DIANE, WHAT A GREAT SUNDAY IT WAS! I LOVED EVERYTHING, THE CHURCH, OHH THOSE STAIRS! THE PONY, THE PAINTINGS. I'LL BE WAITING TO SEE THE CASTLE. TAKE CARE

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    1. Pamela the château is undergoing restoration, but of course because of the costs it is slow. They are still finding parts underground that they did not know existed! Keep well Diane

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  3. That pony is so cute, and I like the church architecture, the stained glass and the sculptures. I could see myself worshipping there. Thanks for sharing with us.

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    1. Terra all the ponies were very sweet and very small but only this one was co-operative when I tried to take photos! It is a stunning church, very beautiful. Take care Diane

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  4. They were lucky with the weather, weren't they!
    I enjoyed the detail of the woodwork on the the market place...lovely photographs.

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    1. Fly we could not believe the weather, just one day like mid-summer and back to the same old wet and cold today. Somebody must have been looking out for them! The market place is amazing, it is huge and has been beautifully restored. Hope that you both are well, take care Diane

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  5. Hi Diane, it is so nice to meet you and thank you for stopping by. I have certainly enjoyed my visit here and have added you to my blog roll so that I can come back. Your photos are fabulous, what a lovely area you live in. I was very interested in your life story. Years ago when my father was on the Staffordshire Police Force he was offered a position on the police force in Rhodesia. He couldn't persuade my mother to go on this great adventure though, and it was not to be. I shall enjoy reading your reminiscences as I revisit. Have a great week. Denise :)

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    1. Denise thanks for your visit and kind comments. Just think if you had gone to Rhodesia we may have met years ago LOL. Thanks for following, hope you enjoy. Have a good week, Diane

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  6. Come to think about it, I have not seen too many rides offered on ponies in France either; just the mechanical horses on the carousels. I love the church and the walk up. As you said, great views. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week.

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    1. Michel I am not sure I have ever seen pony rides before! The church I think is one of the nicest we have seen, beautifully restored and with a magnificent view. Have a wonderful week and a Happy Easter. Diane

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  7. ahhhhh...i never have to travel again but just read your blog!

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    1. Thanks Jaz, that is a great compliment. Have a wonderful week. Diane

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  8. You always take such lovely church photos! It looks like it was a very nice day; how great that the weather cooperated with you. And I love your picture of the pony, because I do have a soft spot for small animals (a pony is only small relative to a horse, but still....)!

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    1. Marjie the churches are always such an important part of the towns here and generally they are well restored and cared for. The weather was amazing I have no idea what happened for just one day :-) Take care Diane

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  9. Hi Diane, your photos are wonderful, love them all. What wonderful history these towns must have. Will have to look into the history of this beautiful town.

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    1. Thanks Horst, we are so lucky to have many beautiful places all with masses of history nearby. Hope the hips are doing well. Take care Diane

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  10. What a lovely place to spend a day. I am not fond of nougat but just LOVE fudge!! :)

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    1. Joan I am also very fond of fudge but have not had any for years. I am scared of what it may do to the scales! Hope all is well, have a good week. Diane

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  11. Beautiful photos Diane. It looks like you had a great outing ;-)

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    1. Thank you Joyful, it was a lovely day out and the weather cooperated 100%. I have still been having trouble with you blog! Keep well Diane

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  12. The architecture is so amazing. Look forward to the tour.

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    1. Gaelyn the whole place is quite amazing, it is great when we come across these gems not too far from us. Have a good week Diane

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  13. How fortunate you are able to spend time in this gorgeous region of La Belle France Diane .... So many beautiful old villages within driving distance. I would have loved a visit to the Chacuterie Traditionnelle stall.

    "All Things French"

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    1. Dianne, we are so lucky to be in rural France I think, there is so much going for us here and the people are so nice. Off to a club Repas today. Sit down at 12h00 for lunch then lucky to be home by at least 17h00 :-) Have a fantastic week Diane

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  14. A very interesting post about what sounds and looks like a perfect outing. Don't you just love those traditional village fairs, especially on a nice spring day!? The church is very beautiful and the interior as well as the exterior look so 'pristine'. Martine

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    1. Ladybird I love the fairs here, but Nigel is inclined to always be in a hurry and I never really get a chance to look at all the junk to see what may be interesting :-) The church is amazing, very well restored and with an amazing view. Hope all is well with you, have a good day. Diane

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  15. Lovely photographs! I went to Villebois-Lavalette this time last year and we had a gorgeous day as well. Could do with more warmth like that!

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    1. ladyjustine, it really is a lovely place to visit. The weather was amazing, where it all came from between all the cold days we are having I do not know! Have a good week Diane

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  16. Hi Diane .. amazing photos - your new camera just enhanced your previous photographic capabilities apparently ... the selection you've given us here are lovely .. I love the market place. Just delightful .. can't wait for part 2 and the castle tour ...

    Cheers - and a happy Easter ... Hilary

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    1. Hilary thanks you so much for the very kind comments. I have to say I am enjoying the camera but I still have so much to learn about it! Have a great week and yes Happy Easter to you as well. Diane

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  17. Bonjour Diane, Looks like you had an interesting sunday.
    When you went to the church was there a smell of boxwood ? When people come for mass on the "Dimanche des Rameaux " carrying a branch/twig of it, the smell does linger !! Some people don't like it but I must say I do .... The Foire of Rouillac is on tomorrow ; always interesting !
    Have a good week , A bientôt - Béatrice

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    1. Beatrice yes you are right everyone was carrying handfuls of box wood around but I have to admit to not noticing the smell, perhaps as we were only at the outside service. I find walking around Rouillac does my back in and I tend only to visit when we have visitors. The Chasseneuil monthly market is quite big enough for me. Have a great week and a Happy Easter. Diane

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  18. Merci Diane pour ce reportage très agréable sur le dimanche des rameaux et la foire dans ce joli village! Il y a toujours de bonne chose à manger dans ces occasions!
    Bonne semaine à vous!

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    1. Lucie merci pour votre aimable commentaire. C'est une très belle ville. Bonne semaine et bonne Pâques. Diane

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  19. Oooo...such a cute little pony. I always wonder if we big mama can take a ride on it ! I actually worried that it might turn into a camel after the ride. haha.... Probably should leave it to the kids. Again, thanks for another lovely tour. Enjoy & have a great week ahead.
    Blessings, Kristy

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    1. Kristy I think if I had of sat on those ponies my feet would have touched the ground LOL. They were really very small. You have a great week as well Diane

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  20. HI Diane. The church is certainly a well-proportioned structure and relatively pleasing to the eye, but I was struck by the photo of the service taking place inside Les Halles. The thought crossed my mind that if I were a religious person I'd far prefer to attend services in a simple and open structure like that instead of being stuck inside a big building. Holding services in places like Les Halles could even boost attendances, who knows! :)

    Have an excellent day,
    Frip

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    1. Frip I have to agree with you, the service outside was very pleasant and far more people could attend. Maybe though on a wintry day the church would have been better! This day was an exception to the horrible weather we have been experiencing. Have a good week Diane

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  21. Hi Diane - the church is beautiful and your interior shots of it are quite lovely. The stairs at the front of the church are daunting but very grand. Were there signs telling people with a weak heart not to attempt entry?!

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    1. Craig, ha ha no there were no signs but perhaps there should have been. They could though get to the back entrance by car so...... Have a good week and enjoy Easter. Diane

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  22. Diane what lovely pictures you always have, I love the pony, is so cute , and the church is beautiful I love the glass windows, the vitreaux are just beautiful!
    The last is Saint Joseph with Jesus a lovely image!
    Happy easter dear Diane!

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    1. Gloria that church really stunning, probably one of the nicest we have seen and the view is amazing. You have a wonderful Easter as well, take care Diane

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  23. I love seeing inside different churches and one looks very nice with its altar and stained glass windows, and the great architecture. I remember Haribo from when we lived in Germany so it brought back a good memory. The bee painting is great, I love the colors and would've bought it too! It was a beautiful day for your enjoyment! Happy Easter, my friend!

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    1. Pam this church I thought was quite special, very beautiful and so well positioned.

      Glad I brought back some good memories for you. That bee painting was one of her best but she had a great collection there. Have a wonderful Easter and keep well Diane

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  24. Villebois Lavalette is a lovely place, so pretty, as your photos show. We had a lovely lunch there on a previous visit and Les Halles is really interesting. Bonne Pâques x

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    1. Kerry it is a lovely place to take visitors and not too far away. Hope you have a good Easter D & N xx

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  25. I love the classic scenery.

    Diane, here's the puto recipe. I use the ready mix flour and I only add oil and sugar. I found this one online.

    Ingredients

    All about Eggs
    Original recipe makes 3 dozen
    4 cups all-purpose flour
    2 cups white sugar
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    6 eggs
    1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
    1 1/2 cups water
    2 1/4 cups Edam cheese, shredded

    Directions

    Grease small cake, puto molds, or ramekins for use in a steamer. Mix the flour, sugar, and baking powder together in a bowl. In a separate, large bowl, scramble the eggs with the evaporated milk and water.

    Fold the dry mixture into the eggs until evenly blended.

    Fill the prepared molds 2/3 of the way up with the batter and top with shredded cheese.

    Fill a wok or a sauce pan that will hold a steamer basket with a few inches of water.

    Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat.

    Place the molds into a steamer basket and place over the boiling water and cover.

    Steam until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the putos comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

    PREP
    20 mins
    COOK
    30 mins
    READY IN
    50 mins
    Footnotes

    If you do not have access to a steamer: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven. Pour your batter into greased muffin tins and place the tins into a large high sided pan; place onto the rack of the preheated oven. Carefully pour boiling water into the large pan, so that it reaches half way up the sides of the muffin tin. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

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    1. Rose thanks for this but this uses plain flour and I want a rice flour recipe, I will look on the internet. We would never have a ready mix here so no chance of that. Thanks for taking the time out to look though. Have a good Easter. Diane

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  26. Thank you for another charming and informative tour. The church was magnificent. I hope your week is off to a great start. Have a good day. Blessings...Mary

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    1. Mary it really is a stunning church. I hope that you have a wonderful Easter, take care Diane

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  27. Firstly, that is such a beautiful pony.

    And secondly, i never knew that Hario is a German company!!! You learn something new every day :-)

    Red

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    1. Boye By Red, I learn something new from the Internet everyday, if only I could remember it all!! You are right it was a pretty little pony and they were all very well cared for. have a good Easter. Diane

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  28. Hi there - nice post. I really like the wooden interior of that building. Made by hand, grow by trees, still standing after 100+ years. Pretty much the opposite of all we do today!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne.

    PS: WBW is open to anybody who puts up bird pictures, no matter how often!

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    1. Stewart thanks for the visit and the comment. Will see what photos I take over the next week or so. Have a good Easter. Diane

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  29. You had me at the pony. What a gorgeous place. Thanks for the great views of the church. The wooden arches are really art in themselves, aren't they?

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    1. lostpastremembered all the ponies were lovely but this one I just took a fancy too :-) This is a gorgeous little town and one that we will certainly be taking visitors to in future. Happy Easter Diane

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  30. Such a beautiful church! Love that artist's paintings. That bee painting--stunning!

    I love the food markets in France. Sigh...must wait until September.

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

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    1. Freda I would have liked to have taken more photos of her paintings but there was too many people in the way!! At least you have something to look forward to in September :-) Have a good Easter. Diane

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  31. Lovely photos Diane:) Hope you are keeping well and have a wonderful Easter!
    ~Anne

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    1. Thanks Anne, I hope you also have a great Easter. Take care Diane

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  32. I would have definitely stopped at the charcuterie stall! :-) I just love the stucture with the wooden roof. Fantastic!

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    1. JM the charcuterie is always a good place to stop :-) Hope that you have a good Easter. Diane

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  33. Merci pour cette promenade.
    J'aime beaucoup.
    A bientôt

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    1. C'est un plaisir. Bonne Pâques. A bientôt. Diane

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  34. I'm very fond of the old wooden market halls in France. They have a wonderful atmosphere about them and I'm always pleased to see eccentric touches like the stone columns. Oddly enough, I think my favourites are the few halls I've come across where the road actually goes through the market hall.

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    1. Phil I have yet to see a covered market where the road goes through the middle. I hope that you have a good Easter. Diane

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  35. That town has loads of interest, architecture and history. I would love to taste the produce too. Lucky you. Great shots and post.

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    1. diane I think we are very lucky to be living in France where there is so much interesting history and such great food. have a good Easter, Diane

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  36. Many thanks Diane, for so beautiful photos and interst reportage!
    I wish you a Happy Easter!
    Many greetings

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    1. Magda, glad that you enjoyed this post. You have a wonderful Easter also. Take care Diane

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  37. Gorgeous pictures, I am getting to know France through you, I've only been to Paris. Happy Easter Diane!

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    1. Francesca I am delighted that you are getting to know France better. Have a good Easter Diane

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  38. HAPPY EASTER!

    Looks like you have lots of things going on where you live.

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    1. Thanks Gunn, there is always lots going on in the country here especially once we get to spring and summer. Hope your Easter is a good one Diane

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  39. Wow, what a fun day you had, this town is amazing! What wonderful architecture and history. If the walls could only speak ....... :)

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    1. The Café Sucré Farine you are right, if only walls could speak :-) Hope you have a good Easter. Diane

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  40. The beams in the market are really quite something. The views of the church interior, particularly its windows, are also arresting. I'm so glad we have you to guide through the backroads and byways of France. Can't wait to see the chateau. Have a wonderful holiday, Diane. Blessings...Mary

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    1. Mary it is a huge market and so well restored. The church is one of my favourites that I have seen. Take care Diane

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  41. Páscoa doce e renovadora.
    Beijo.
    Nita

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