Day 1: Arriving in the medieval town of Saint-Cyprien
We are now in the Dordogne region, and specifically in Saint-Cyprien which is a small hamlet in this region that is steeped in history dating back from some distant cousins of ours, the Neanderthals. The Dordogne area is called “La Vallee d’Humanite” or the Valley of Humanity (sorry, I don’t know how to do accents on my keyboard), given the vast amount of uber ancient caves and paintings in this area.
I don’t know if you could call Saint-Cyprien a town, as it is very small and is built as many of the European villages/towns were developed…around religious centres. The history in a nutshell, is that a hermit named Cyprien arrived in the area in 620AD and settled in a cave somewhere on the side of the hill that the village is built upon. He had a religious following, which drew other not-so-hermit folks to the area, and they had a little religious following here. After he passed away,there were some miracles that happened at his tomb, which led to a monestary being built in the area. Specifically, our apartment was built in the mid-800s, and expanded upon in the 1300s to what it looks like (the apartment) today. As Saint-Cyprien grew, like European villages do, it grew so that all of the roads lead to the church at the centre of the town and the buildings literally look they haven’t changed since the 13th century when the area started growing as a religious community.
In nearby Bordeaux, the Bishop, Bertrand de Got, came over to Saint Cyprien and declared this area as a place of religious significance, which exhaulted its religious stature in the area.
I won’t elaborate much further as Deb reminded me that her blog, and the kids blogs go over this as well…but I just find it uber cool. I felt like getting up in the morning and walking around the town in nothing but a brown housecoat and some bunny slippers so that I could feel like a monk. Oh ya, and shave my head too. Here is a link to a good summary if you care to read more.
Now, back to the adventures of the Travelling Trenholms!
We pulled into the narrow “holy crap we are going to take the mirrors off the car” streets of SC (I am getting tired of typing it out) and found our apartment, where we met our host Wilson! He is an artist, a designer, and a contractor…so needless to say, the apartment was nicely renovated and incredibly well finished.
He showed us through the apartment and went over the history of the monestary here. The large fireplace dates back to the 13th century where the monks used to prepare their meals.
Under the bed in the first floor bedroom where Deb and i stayed, there was a large cross that ran the length of the room under the bed that was made out of very thick and heavy stones from the area.
We headed off to a local magasin to buy local produce, meat, wine, beer, and of course cheese. Oh, the cheese. C’est tres bon! Then we went to the grocery store to get some Rice Krispies for Lulu, and Special K for Deb, among some other things.
At home, Wilson prepared the goat cheese appetizer that he learned at Mama Florence’s school and Lulu made dessert. I made dinner with sausages and salad. It was delish, and washed down with a nice bottle of local red wine. Can’t pass up French wine while you are in France!
Wilson (who owned the apartment) had a booklet that explained how everything worked in the apartment, but also an expansive and detailed history of the area. The kids took turns reading through it in English and French for oral reading and french language “school” and to prepare for what we would see the next day.
Off to bed for the next advenutre tomorrow as we are going to hit up some castles!!