Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday 6 February 2009


I slept in til 9:00 am (Cosne time). Do you blame me? We had chocolate chaude and pain francaise for breakfast (and certain of us had chocolate cake . . . ) Mme. Silvestre came to do the paperwork.  We looked at our little cottage in the daylight.                

Then we set off with a much better map that she had given us, plus suggestions of things to see.

Our first stop was a chateau, since we hadn't had time to see the one near Geneve yesterday. We went to le Chateau de Bussy-Rabatin, but we got there just after noon, and lunch for them is 1200-1400, so we only got to take pictures of the outside. We were planning to come back.

Next we went to the ruins of an ancient Gallo-Roman town, then called Alesia, now called Alise-Sainte-Reine. The ruins date from 4000 B.C. when it was a townful of Gauls. Much later in its history, there was a battle between the Romans (led by one of the Cesars) and the Gauls (led by none other than Vercingetorix) in August and September of 52 B.C. Alesia was a forfitied town and was situated on top of the tallest hill in the area. Vercingetorix let his 80,000 Gauls to Alesia for refuge against the 60,000 Romans that were after them. We could have visited the different Roman camps, because they were all documented. I don't know if we know exactly what happened during this battle, but the end result was that despite the Gauls superior numbers and excellent positioning above the Romans and in a fortified city, the Romans won. Todd thinks it was because of their superior tactics and armor. Those nasty old Romans took Vercingetorix prisoner back to Rome and kept him in prison until Julius Cesar was made Emperor of Rome. On that same day, Julius Cesar had Vercingetorix killed. After this battle and execution, the Gauls went downhill steadily. It was a pretty sad story.

We procured lunch from a supermarche in Venarey-les-Laumes, and ate it near a statue of Vercingetorix himself, complete with moustaches.

After that we went north to the ancient (but not as ancient) Abbey de Fontenay-- from about the XIth century. It was in much better condition in a pretty valley with a goodly stream running through it. The original ceiling beams and supports of the church, made of maple, were still intact and doing their jobs. We also saw the dormitory, the chapter room (where they read a chapter every morning), a writing room, a heating room, the forge, and the gardens. Very quiet and beautiful.

On our way home, we went through Villaines-en-Duesmois and found the 4 towers of a castle built before 1005 A.D. Small Son was ecstatic. We climbed down into the bases of the towers, and up into the tops, peeked through the archer slits, traced the moat and discussed the defenses with arrows or crossbows. Gunpower hadn't been invented yet.

We took the truck route toward Dijon instead of the car route and disscovered it was a much shorter way home, as we nearly drove past our house.

A fun day.

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