Posts Tagged ‘avallon’

PostHeaderIcon Things to do in Avallon

For those people who have been mistaking Avallon France with the legendary King Arthur, sorry, this is a totally different place altogether. According to myth, King Arthur was a Breton chieftain or perhaps a Roman, but he was definitely not from Avallon, France. This spelling comes from the ancient word aballo for Apple, even though I did not see any apple orchards here. Maybe, the name came from the possible term, “an apple ripe for the picking,” in the terms of military strength. Anybody who wanted to take on the Dukes of Burgundy, and had a strong line of mercenaries behind him, could grab this juicy apple of France.
Our trip is going to start by visiting the statue of one of the greatest soldiers of France, the Seigneur de Vauban, who lived in the times of Louis XIV. In 1703 was made the Marehal, because he served France for 50 years. The statue honouring him was built by one of the greatest sculptors of that time, Bartholdi.

If you go around this fortified city, you are going to understand why people in mediaeval times were so worried about invasions. That is why they had their lookouts, their fortified walls, their watchtowers, and even bell towers. For all those who enjoy walking around Castles, and forts, travelling around Avallon is a really interesting and memorable experience. And if you are looking for a spiritual experience, you need to visit the village of Vezelay, and the St Madaleine church there. This church goes back to the 12th century and is one of the world Heritage UNESCO sites. This is right at the top of a very steep hill, but it is well worth a visit if only to see the rising Sun over the mountains of the Morvan range.

Vezelay is a city on a rock that rises from the valley below. It is one of the four cities from which the route to Santiago de Compostelo begins in France. It was from Vezelay that St Bernard called for the Second Crusade and it was in Vezelay that Richard the Lionhearted and and King Philippe Auguste met to go on the Third Crusade. But the main claim to fame of Vezelay is the Basilica of St Madeleine.

Even though this review is on Avallon, and well, I have seen the fort and the bell tower, I am concentrating on Vezelay for its historical and tourist appeal. So right, you decide to park in the car park, before you walk up to the basilica, following in the footsteps of all those pilgrims who came here in the summer. At the moment you reach the top, voila, you are met by another car park! But hey, one needed the exercise and the next time we are going to make sure that there is a car park, over there, whenever we go on pilgrimage trails over steep hills. Thanks to the Revolution, this amazing structure was nearly lost to us and thanks to the enterprise and dedication of that 19th-century giant, Le Luc, who has been instrumental in preserving so many old French buildings, you can spend a Serene afternoon here. The relics of St Magdalene are preserved here, and that is the reason why this was considered to be one of the major sites for pilgrimage during mediaeval times.