Wednesday, January 31, 2007

8 January, 2007 Puy en Vellay

It started snowing in the night and continues as I write this--winter hasn't passed us by after all!
I'm finally taking up my description of the trip we made to the Puy en Vellay. The photo shows the two major attractions of this village dating from Roman times. The statue of Our Lady of France is highest in the picture. It was made of melted-down canons taken from Sebatapol. The rock on which it stands, the Corneille, is a vestige of an ancient volcano.
The church in the foreground, St-Michel d'Aiguilhe, named for St. Michael the Archangel. Aiguilhe is old French spelling for aiguille, which means needle. The church does indeed appear to stand on a sharp point of land. This "needle" is another volcanic witness.
The lighted steeple in the distance is a cathedral dedicated to the Mother of Christ, and dates from medieval times. The path to the church is a tortuous climb over cobblestoned streets, which kindly builders have built in degrees, like steps. As we climed to the cathedral, me huffing and puffing, an elderly woman, loaded down with what seemed like garbage bags, climbed ahead of us. Does she do this every day, I wondered?
From the cathedral, a path leads up to the statue of Our Lady of France. My son and family climbed up there, but I was out of breath and my legs were rubber. I stayed at a resting place, caught my breath and got some postcards and a lace bookmark at the souvenir shop conveniently placed opposite my resting bench.
The lace made by the ladies of Puy en Vellay is famous for its delicacy and beauty. I can't remember the name of the technique, but it's worked with spindles, with whirl about in the fingers of these ingeneous women with the speed of light!
Puy en Vellay was one of the major points for pilgrims on the medieval road to St. James of Compostello in Spain. Chaucer immortalized the road in not-so-reverent tone.
I've not described the wonders of the cathedral, because I'm not good at descriptions of architecture, but it is indeed a marvel.


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