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Report 2029: France 2012 Part 1 - The Loire Valley

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2012

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Page 27 of 33: To the South - Frescoes, Statues and Embroidery

photo by MAW

Angles sur l'Anglin

This is an area which gets few visitors and hardly merits a mention in the guide books. This is a shame as it is very pretty with some nice towns and small villages. We felt we were ready for a break from châteaux and wanted to do something different. The frescoes of the World Heritage site of St Savin were calling. There are more frescoes in the churches in the small villages south along the Gartempe Valley.

Using the Michelin map and the internet, I began to research the area and decided that we could easily spend an interesting day away from the crowds. This presents an overview of the area and I have written detailed reports on the following pages.

There is little traffic and roads are good. We found the yellow and white roads on Michelin more pleasant to drive than the main red roads. As we drove south we lost the vineyards and there were orchards with people picking apples. As well as the usual arable and fields of sunflowers, maize and millet are also grown.

Palluau-Sur-Indre (page 26) is a small village off the D943. I had learned about this through the Slow Travel forum and had been told there were frescoes in the priory. We went to investigate. Unfortunately St Laurent Priory, a rather nondescript building on the main street, was being restored so we didn’t have chance to see the frescoes in there. Église Saint-Sulpice more than made up for our disappointment with many glorious old polychrome wooden statues.

St Savin (page 27) is a large settlement and felt unkempt and uninviting. Signing is poor and we ended in a scruffy car park in the center of town although there is a larger (unsigned) car park by the abbey.

The best views of the abbey are from across the bridge when it can be seen above the river with the Abbot’s House (often incorrectly referred to as the château) along side it.

The 11thC Abbey with its frescoes is a World Heritage site and justifiably so. We walked into the church and our jaws did literally drop. This was a very worthwhile visit and a highlight of the week.

From St Savin, we drove down the Gartempe valley (page 28) through wooded and arable countryside to Antigny, with a 12thC church with frescoes.

From Antigny we continued along the river to Jouhet, with church on one side of the road and the funerary Chapelle Ste-Catherine across the road with frescoes.

By now we were having to watch the time and began to return to Perrusson. We had a brief stop at Angles Sur l'Anglin, which is described as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It is dominated by the ruins of the 12thC castle on a rocky ridge overlooking the Anglin river. The best views of this are from the D2 to the southwest across the bridge. There is parking on the road below the castle walls. In September this is only open at weekends. Steep narrow cobbled streets and steps lead up to Haut Ville with a few cafes and tourist-style shops. Église St-Martin was shut for renovation. The Tourist Office in the square has an exhibition on drawn thread work with examples of table cloths, tray cloths, handkerchiefs, blouses, child’s dress. The workmanship is exquisite. During the time of Napoleon III there were over 300 embroiderers here who supplied the grand Parisian shops.

Our final stop was Preuilly-Sur-Claise (page 29) which is the main town for the region and dominated by the massive Église Abbatatiale St-Pierre on top of the hill. This was the former abbey church and is a marvelous example of Romanesque architecture.

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