Monday, 12 January 2015

A visit to Nanteuil-en-Vallée.

The town of Nanteuil-en-Vallée is located in the north of the Charente department. The population fell quite sharply after the losses suffered in the First World War, but subsequently recovered and in 2012 numbered 1452. It has a mixture of house styles, mostly of stone and some half-timbered, all very traditional - dating back at least to the 12th century. A historic and popular area for all kinds of outdoor pursuits!

The maps shows the topography and suggestions for rambles and view points.

The village lavoir, a subject on which I have often written, where in years gone by, the ladies used to meet to do  their washing and exchange gossip.



The thirteenth century Church of St. Jean the Baptist  is open to the public again after ten months of closure. The roof was seriously threatened with collapse and much work has been done. There is still a lot of restoration needed, but costs are high and it will take time. Meanwhile the church is back in use while work continues.
It boasts some wonderful stained glass windows and stone vaulted ceilings.
and this lovely carved entrance door.
The Auberge Le Saint Jean, which was a highly recommended and popular restaurant, has sadly since closed down.  You can see part of the church in the background. Happily, another hostelry still survives in the town, a blessing when so many country restaurants have closed down due to the economic crisis.
Fontaine Saint-Jean.  There are steps inside leading down to the water source, which runs through the town. It is piped from the abbey and appears here and a couple of other places nearby. 
Anne walking through the streets of Nanteuil-en-Vallee, when she visited with us in May last year.
I loved this old picture on one of the walls.
The remains of the 12th century Benedictine Abbey of Notre-Dame de Nanteuil are the main tourist attraction in the village.

Unfortunately it was closed that day and we could not go in to see it!
A narrow village street leading to the Treasury
The plaque recording that this present abbey was built on the site of an earlier, 8th century abbey founded by Charlemagne. At one time a very large abbey, you can now only see the sturdy Treasury building, its walls inset with high arches. Although given this specific name, its use is not actually known!
Little remains of the other main abbey buildings, but there are enough ruins to give one an idea of the original layout, so we are told!

Our last part of the visit was to the arboretum, created by the local authorities for the benefit of residents and visitors. I could have spent more time walking around there, but our schedule didn't permit it!
Ann taking photos in the well-kept gardens.
 The river here is named L'Argentor, a  30km long tributary of the Charente river, formed by the separate streams called L'Argent and L'Or (silver and gold), no doubt a reference to their perceived colours in the sunshine!

See also my daily Photo Diary Here
My Life Before Charente New scanner - New post 20/01/2015

54 comments:

  1. What a picturesque little town. I loved the old picture, it appears that some things don't change.

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    1. Thanks Karen, so many of these little places do not change much in the centre, sadly lots of little house going up around the outskirts that do not match. Have a good day Diane

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  2. What a treasure. I love villages like this one. So much history.
    The streets, the church, the streets, that old photo.
    Fantastic. thanks for sharing.

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    1. Rick there are just so many lovely villages in France and each has its own history. They are fascinating. Have a good day Diane

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  3. Dear Diane, I loved this place. I always wonder how this small villages survive through ages. Beautiful pictures as always. Big hugs

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    1. Pamela these old buildings never cease to fascinate me and how they have survived. Have a great day hugs, Diane

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  4. Your photographs would do credit to a tourist brochure...you take me right to the spot.
    I would have loved to have seen more of the aboretum...those photographs whet the appetite. There was one a few kilometres from us and it was a favourite place to take visitors.
    Oddly enough, the river running through our garden was called the Argenton...one down on this place as we could claim no gold!

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    1. Thanks Fly what a kind comment. I would also like to see more of the arboretum, an excuse to return there one day. Hope that you are both well, take care Diane

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  5. Beautiful and fascinating, I thoroughly enjoyed this tour.

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    1. Thanks Linda, glad that you enjoyed your virtual tour. Keep well Diane

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  6. Dear Diane, Beautiful pictures. It looks glorious to visit.

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    1. Thank you Catherine, glad you enjoyed the photos. Hope you are well Diane

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  7. Another charming French village. Thanks for taking me on the tour.

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    1. diane there are so many of them, each with different features and history. Impossible to see them all but we go the the ones we can. Glad you enjoyed this post. Have a good day t'other Diane

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  8. a beatiful place, full of interesting pieces of architecture
    I like the idea of a laundry as a place when you don't only do the washing up:)

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    1. Ola I suspect we probably missed quite a lot as we did about four villages in that day. Now the difficulty is remembering!! Take care Diane

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    2. Yes I agree ...now we just have to remember :-)

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  9. Such beautiful buildings. Love the fun shaped tree, its amazing how they grow like this x

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    1. Kerry it is a place I would like to see again. Not so far from you as it is from us. That tree was amazing. Happy Birthday Diane

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  10. Hello Diane,

    What a wonderful introduction to this delightful country town.

    The golden tones of the stones in the old buildings are so beautiful. Indeed, each of your images is so very pretty. Clearly just wandering the streets and gazing at the charming architecture could occupy one most satisfactorily for hours on end.

    It is sad that so many businesses in the countryside are not viable and have closed. This makes for an empty feel and it is so much nicer when one sees signs of everyday life thriving rather than just tourists.

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    1. Bonjour Jane and Lance, it is so good to see you back again. It is strange how these villages always seem quiet out of tourist season, we saw almost nobody there at all. On the other hand I do not like crowds so I am not complaining :-) We loved walking around and taking in all the history around us. Take care and I hope al is going well Diane

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  11. i love visiting places like this. how wonderful!

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    1. Thanks Jazz for the comment, hope you are well Diane

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  12. I still have a difficult time in Europe wrapping my head around houses that people lived in in the 12th century and churches from the 13th. I'm also fascinated with their laundry facilities. We have it so easy now, but somehow I imagine the ladies made a chore more enjoyable with good conversation and a bit of gossip thrown in. Nice peaceful village Diane. Thanks for taking us along.
    Sam

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    1. Sam having lived most of my life in South Africa I also find European history incredible and that so many of the very old buildings are not only still standing but in use. Even our own house is well over 200 years old and that is young :) I think laundry must have actually been fun in those days (well perhaps not in winter) so much gossip!! Glad you enjoyed the virtual trip. Take care Diane

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  13. Super pics. The town was certainly worth a visit. Love the tree!

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    1. Its a lovey little village but I would like to go there when the ruins are open. The tree was amazing. Hope al is well Diane

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  14. Hi Diane Nice to see you again!!
    I love these p0ictures are lovely!!
    I love this tour Diane!!
    Merci beaucoup!

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    1. Thanks Gloria, glad you enjoyed the tour. Hope you are well, have a good day,Diane

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  15. This is such a beautiful town with lots of history. Those old buildings are marvelous! I was interested when you brought up Charlemagne. I remember seeing his statue near Notre Dame in Paris.

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    1. Denise I wish it was easier to track down the history of these little towns but it is not always so simple! Thank goodness for the internet though. Hope you are well Diane

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  16. It looks like a lovely little town. I always enjoy the stained glass in the old churches. The gardens look very lovely too. Happy New Year to you and Nigel! xx

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    1. Happy New year to you also Joyful. Hope that al is well in your world and remains good for 2015. This was a lovely little church. I am so glad that they are finding the finance (if slowly) for the restoration, Have a good day Diane

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  17. Great photos, Diane! It is amazing with all the old buildings and all the great architecture. And the narrow streets, the beautiful churches. I remember you mentioning the village lavoir on your blog before, always thought that was fascinating. What a chore that was back then, carrying the clothes, washing them in cold water and so forth. Thanks for the tour and Happy New Year!

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    1. Thanks Pam, the old buildings here never cease to amaze me. Washing them may well have been a chore but think of all the friends you would meet and the gossip that went on :-) Happy New Year to you both as well, Diane

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  18. I love when you take us on a walking tour and am entranced by the architecture. I guess after surviving so long all buildings need repair and maintenance. Too bad the restaurant and Abbey were closed. The arboretum looks delightful.

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    1. Gaelyn Europe is such a different world to what I am used to, history here, and history in S.Africa are worlds apart. Restoration and maintenance is the way things work here as we have discovered with having a house that is only just over 200 years old! Keep well Diane

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  19. It looks like that was a wonderful day indeed! Of course, the reminder of warmer weather when we're in the doldrums of winter is always delightful. Happy New Year, Diane!

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    1. Thanks Marjie and I hope that 2015 is a good one for you all as well. Roll on spring, how I hate winter! Have a good day Diane

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  20. Encore une belle région. La France est un très beau pays.
    Merci pour cette ballade.
    A bientôt

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    1. Oui Nadji, la France est un beau pays. Bonne journée. Diane

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  21. Every time I see your wonderful images of beautiful French towns and villages, it reminds me that it's too long since I visited your adopted country, Diane. I used to visit three or four times a year, but I've just realised that it's nearly eleven years now since I was last there - based in Carcassonne.

    Best wishes - - Richard

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    1. Ah Richard Carcassonne is a beautiful place, I would be very happy living in that area,but having said that I also love the Charente. It is time you came back I think for a holiday. Keep well and have a good weekend Diane

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  22. I would love to walk around those huge trees!

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    1. They are pretty amazing Rose. Have a great weekend Diane

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  23. Merci Diane de nous faire visiter ces beaux village de votre région d'adoption! Vos publications donnent vraiment envie de les voir! On comprend notre chance de vivre dans des régions où chaque pierre remonte le temps et nous raconte l'Histoire!
    Bonne fin de semaine à vous!

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    1. Lucie, merci pour votre commentaire. Je adore l'histoire de France. Europe est très différent de l'Afrique du Sud! Bon week-end Diane

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  24. Hi here again, Diane!
    What great time you've spent in Nanteuil with Ann!
    Notre Dame abbaye is quite imposing and it is awesome when you think of how old it is... nearly 1200 years!!! WOW!!
    You certainly choose a very interesting region to settle in, one I don't know much!
    Hugs from from the Pyrenees!!!

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    1. Noushka the history here in Europe never ceases to surprise me. Hope the Pyrenees are warmer than it is here but I doubt it at present. We do love the Charente though :-) Take care Diane

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  25. I enjoyed your posting. The old trees and buildings are beautiful. I also liked the old b/w photograph put up on the wall. Nice!

    Greetings from me up in Stavanger / Norway.

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    1. Thanks Gunn it is an interesting region. I am just wondering how cold it is around your area, much colder than us I suspect. Keep warm Diane

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  26. So much of interest in your region, thanks for sharing yet another place with us. I think I need to consider an extended tour of Europe sometime. So much to see and do in this adventure called Life!

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    1. Linda I replied to this but........... I think there is so much to see in all of Europe but we are lucky that there is much around us.Have a great week Diane

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