On The Abbaye Road…

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I woke up at 6:30 AM today while Bonaparte slept soundly.  Apparently between 6:30 and 7:00 AM is the only window of time where I can get Wi-Fi on my iPhone.

In addition, I received a phone call from a number in Long Island.  My voicemail isn’t working either. So now I don’t know if someone died or got injured. Maybe it was a wrong number.

Remind me to make like ET and leave my “phone home” next summer.

Anway, it’s partly cloudy today. Since we’ve both been out in the sun or rather one of us who hasn’t been sitting under the umbrella and not in the sun for the past few days, we figured it would be a good idea to play tourist.

We’re going back to the Abbaye du Thoronet.  The Abbaye, better known simply as “Thoronet”, was a home for the Cistercian monks back in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Thoronet Tarif sign. GOLD

If you are thinking about visiting–here’s the lowdown on the tarifs!

Our Abbaye Road will be the ones along the coast to St. Raphaël and then we’ll switch over to the highway.  Thoronet is such a peaceful and calm place to visit.  The grounds are beautiful and we’ve both wanted to return.

We stopped for gas at Total and headed into the McDonald’s that is on-site. Or rather we headed into the Mc Do, as the French refer to this fast food bastion.  Don’t judge either!

Food Breakfast on the road mc do. GOLD

Yes. THIS is what breakfast at McDonald’s in France looks like..note the warning on the coffee and hot chocolate…

Food. Mcdonalds display GOLD

My other regret is that I didn’t purchase a “‘Eppy Meal”. I could have gotten some cute toys!  Check out the baked goodies!!

Travel Tip: Don’t dismiss McDonald’s when you are in France.  I’m not telling you to eat all your meals there. But for a quick breakfast when you are on the road and want a cup of coffee or a croissant, Mc Do delivers the goods.  It’s a different animal than here in the States.  Regulations must be followed strictly. The pastries are of very good quality and the chocolat chaud is superior.  There is also free “wee-fee” available. 

Just as I started washing my hands in the very clean and spotless ladies room, the water gushed out of the faucet and all over my dress.  I keep forgetting that the water pressure in France is quite amazing and comes out full force!  Remember that for future visits!

We are ready to get into the car and I spot the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo. Donald Trump is on the cover. Can’t I get away from this man’s face for at least two weeks?  But in true Hebdo form, they are making fun of him.  We buy the paper!

Charlie Hebdo trump cover GOLD

They could have made him a bit more l’orange! PS. What he is saying is not nice! 

The return to Thoronet was a bit disappointing.  The first time around we were able to go into the olive tree orchard and enter into little areas of quiet gardens. We were also able to go around to the back of the abbaye to take photos.

This time, gates were locked and visitor space was limited. Oh well, we were still able to take some nice photos.  Warning–pic heavy!

Thoronet Exterior view side

Exterior view. Notice the lack of people–that’s what makes this a good place to visit. It’s a hidden gem of France!

Thoronet flowers up the steps

Pretty steps..

Thoronet Frescoed ceiling. GOLD

..incredible to see that this ceiling still has remains of paintings from the 12th century..that’s some long-lasting paint..

Thoronet Mary and baby jesus. I'm guessing this is relatively new

…this statue of Mary and Jesus looks too modern to be that old. I’m wondering if this was added much later on. I’ll do some sleuthing.

Thoronet Window GOLD

View from a window out to the grounds

Thoronet. Another steeple view

Another view

Thoronet. Better courtyard view

The courtyard from above. Isn’t this building beautiful?

Thoronet. Church

The inside of the church. Even if you are not Catholic or a believer, THIS is a great place for quiet reflection and thought. 

Thoronet. Do you think monks wore Tropeziennes GOLD

I felt like a monk in my sandals. Do you think the monks wore Rondini sandals?  As an aside–if you DO visit this abbaye or any other attraction or place that has the slippery stones and tiles, by all means–wear shoes with strong soles. The leather soles on the bottom of these sandals were perfect because I didn’t slip or slide. You do not want to hurt yourself while enjoying the sights!

Thoronet. Exterior shot taken from under the trees

Another exterior view. 

Thoronet. Fountain in the rocks

A little fountain…

Thoronet. Fountain

..and another fountain.  I’m sure this one got a ton of use from the monks many centuries ago.

Thoronet. I wore the same dress last time I was here.

Again–a naked face except for the eyes.  It’s amazing how well a blow out lasts in dry weather. The hair still looks great!

Thoronet. Me. Well Rounded

OOTD. More like OOT Every D.  This shift of seasons past from Banana Republic was a “go-to” on this trip. It also has bode well for my weight gain.  My years-old, raggy Longchamp bag was also used every day.  

Thoronet. Passageway

A quiet passage.  Look how bright and immaculate the stones are.

Thoronet. Ruins among the abbaye

Among the historical ruins.

Thoronet. Snails

Escargot in training. 

Thoronet. Stained glass window

Stained glass window.

Thoronet. View from courtyard

Another view of the courtyard.

Thoronet. view from the terrace.

And another pic..

Still, if you are in the Var or anywhere on the Cote d’Azur on vacation, by all means make it a point to see the remains of this once thriving abbey.  There’s a chance we just returned on a bad day!

Bonaparte, ever the navigator, thought he knew a shortcut to somewhere when we left. I have no idea what somewhere he spoke of because his accent is now sooooo heavy that I’m begging him to just speak French. I can understand him better that way.

The “shortcut” ended up bringing us a great, great surprise.

We ended up in Draguignan. And in driving through the village center I noticed a sign. It was a sign for the American Cemetery.  During WWII many soldiers landed in towns along the Cote d’Azur.  Draguignan was one of them.

We followed the signs, got a parking space immediately and made our way to pay our respects.

Draguignan. Rhone American Cemetary GOLD

Another hidden gem.  Rhone American Cemetery in Draguignan

This little side trip that we stumbled upon was almost as emotional as our visit to Normandy Beach.  The amount of soldiers buried was not a small one.  And it broke my heart to read where so many of these young men were from.

Draguignan. American Cemetery 2

We paid our respects in an impeccable setting.

Draguignan. Tombstone of soldier with memorial flowers GOLD

It was  nice to see that flowers are still being placed at these graves

Draguignan. American Cemetary. Grave stone. Amann from New York.

We thank you Alfred Amann for giving up your life so selflessly.

It also broke my heart that they died thinking the atrocities during that war would never happen again.  We, as humans, just don’t learn—do we?  Look at our world today. So much hate and anger. Wars that are falsely declared by politicians who only want power.  Men who try to lead on fear. It’s awful.

A memorial is also on the grounds. I’m telling you when I went into that building, I cried. I cried because during WWII men and women gave up their lives so selflessly.  And to pay them back, we’ve regressed…

Draguignan. Makeshift chapel of sorts GOLD

In the memorial. Solace.

Draguignan. American Cemetary memorial Thanks from locals

One of the many illustrations and notes that local people and visitors left at the memorial. Never forget–but we did and continue to do so.

Thank you, France. Thank you for placing our soldiers in eternal rest in such a beautiful setting. Thank you for remembering them so fondly.  Thank you American government for maintaining the grounds so impeccably.  It is nice to see our tax dollars being put to very good use.

Our last stop on this now sunny day was a trip to FNAC in Cannes.   There is an important need to add to my collection of French pop music.  I got lucky!

Shopping. 2016 CDs.

I cannot stop listening. All CD’s have been uploaded to the computer and are now in my car.  I’ll have memories of this trip every time I listen…

We also spotted a film starring Danièle and also starring Jean Gabin!  It was like another sign from her that she was watching over us. We bought it because we don’t have it at home.

Danieles movie with jean gabin at FNAC

Danièle looks so serious! I think it is because she had to watch out for naughty Jean Gabin!

Gossipy French Movie Trivia: During one of my stays with Danièle, I mentioned that I loved Jean Gabin.  Her eyes almost popped out of her head. She told me that when she was in a film with him, he wanted to sleep with her and she refused.  The above is the film she spoke of!  He got really angry at her. She also said he had bad breath.  It was so funny. I did tell her that I still loved him as an actor!

Demain tout Commence!

Here’s a beautiful song by Florent Pagny “Le Soldat”….

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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27 Responses to On The Abbaye Road…

  1. Bernadette says:

    How sweet that you ran into the spirit of Daniele.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Bernadette. Isn’t that wonderful? It really is like an omen that she’s watching over us. I think she gave us good weather too because the rest of France had some pretty crappy weather! XOXOXOXO!!!

  2. julietC says:

    Daniele obviously still loves your company – it is so sweet that she leaves you little “hello”s here and there and as always the photos are gorgeous.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Juliet! Right???? I think it’s great that she has popped up on our trip. Glad you are enjoying the photos!! Thank you! XOXOXOXO

  3. I did not see that film yet I will soon. Nice pictures.

    • Catherine says:

      Hey Dude! Definitely give it a view. What do you think of my juicy gossip regarding Daniele and Jean Gabin? Glad you like the pics! XOXOXO!

  4. Sharon Daly says:

    Thanks so much for the beautiful photos.

  5. Wow, this is phenomenal. I love the pics and you look so beautiful! Thanks for the tour. Interesting stories about Daniele.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Lisa. I’m so happy that you are enjoying the pics! Right??? Isn’t the story about Daniele just too much–but in a great way?? XOXOXOXOXO!!!

  6. Margaret says:

    Wow, I’d love it if McDonald’s served croissants here. Seems like such a simple but extravagant thing. Love that Charlie Hebdo cover, looks like no country can escape him! The pics of the Abbey are beautiful. I love visiting old churches and Abbeys, the architecture and artwork are always interesting, and I appreciate the peacefulness. Btw you look like a college student in that Abbey pic, fantastic!! Those war-cemeteries certainly put things in perspective very quickly, everybody should visit one at least once, maybe then things would be different. How nice of you and your husband to spend some time there.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Margaret. You know, I really wanted to say something about our breakfasts at McDo. Although MicDonald’s isn’t my choice of a quick meal here at home, the breakfast that the company offers in France is so well done. And I don’t think travelers should discount that. A decent breakfast can be had at a budget price when on the road. It isn’t pretentious nor is it snobby. It’s just what it is. I think if McDonald’s “upped” their breakfasts and the quality of food here, it would be a better fast food joint! Isn’t visiting churches a great thing to do? I love the “oldness” and the history and they are very beautiful places to collect your thoughts too!

      Yeah. The American cemeteries are definitely places all visitors should stop by. Its important. I also have issues with my more “conservative” friends who seem to have this bizarre idea that I’m anti-American. Because I speak my mind about our idiot politicians, does not make me anti-American. I oftentimes wonder if any of these same people have ever visited American cemetaries not only overseas, but in Washington DC. Right??

      A college student? Thanks!! I’ll take that compliment and place it in my pocket!! XOXOXOXOXOXO!!!!

      • Margaret says:

        You, anti-American?!? Freedom of speech in this country is protected under the First Amendment to the US Constitution. We must all keep open minds and hearts, especially in these trying times. In my opinion, you are a true American… and also our favorite Francophile!! 🤗

  7. calensariel says:

    Terrific post! One question… That stained glass window wasn’t original to the building, was it? My favorite picture? The shot out of the window at the grounds. LOVED it.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Lady Calen. You know, I don’t think it’s original. I didn’t get that up close to see if the stained glass was wavy or not. My guess is that it isn’t–but that’s a good question and good food for research!! I love the shot out of the window too. We discussed our revisit last night and Bonaparte thought I was being a bit to tough by stating it was a bit of a disappointment the second time around. But–that’s how I felt…XOXOXOXOXO!!!

      • calensariel says:

        Well, you weren’t in the same place emotionally this time. Perhaps before everything in France still had a fantasy feel to it for you because Danielle was there. Could it just be that some of the magic is gone now? But as you saw for yourself, she did let you know she was there with you. You must have loved you guys very much to make her presence known to you. I truly believe in that kind of stuff. 🙂

      • Catherine says:

        You know–you’re right. Its a weird thing–I don’t think the magic is gone, but I think I’m just so much more familiar with France that it isn’t the fantasy place anymore. It’s more real and familiar. I think I’ve crossed over the tourist boundary to visitor–but I still love discovering new places and touring places I’ve never seen. Does that make sense? Oh..and I definitely believe in those signs and omens. Bonaparte has told me many times that Daniele truly loved me and looked forward to our visits. XOXOXOXO!!!

      • calensariel says:

        Perhaps, then, your soul has absorbed so much “France” that it feels like home (away from home) more than an adventure?

  8. sunnyd710 says:

    Escargot in training. I snort laughed at that!!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Sunny! LOL–I’m so glad you “got” that! That was my reaction when I saw those little snails on that leaf. I HAD to take a pic! Now I’m hungry for escargot! XOXOXOXO!!

  9. Military cemeteries and a concentration camp are musts.
    I love this Abbaye, as I love most Abbayes, for the same reasons you state. This one isn’t as well kept as St. Michel de Cuxa, dans les Pyrenees Orientales, but has its own beauty about it. Upkeep costs money…
    I am with you: the statue is gorgeous and modern for the era.
    Wow. Danièle.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Maribeth. Military cemeteries are definitely a must. I have not had the opportunity to visit the countries where the camps are housed but hearing about them from Bonaparte’s family is sad and frightening. Upkeep does cost money, but even in a state of not being well-maintained, there is a certain charm that goes with it.
      Yeah. Daniele. Wow! XOXOXOXO!!!

      • Natzweiller-Struthof, 30 miles south of Strasbourg was a German operated concentration cap that started out as a work camp, then a transit camp and then a death camp. About 2 miles away or so can be found the gas chamber and the crematorium. I didn’t go to this place of horror or to Dachau as a “tourist”, but rather to bear witness, to honor those lives destroyed by the horror. These are very heavy places, very difficult to visit, but if we don’t, then who will…?

      • Catherine says:

        Hi Maribeth.
        Oh, I heard the horrors about Ravensbruck. That’s the camp that Bonaparte’s grandmother was sent to. And I agree with you that we should visit. Although I haven’t had the opportunity, I’ve been to the holocaust museums both in Paris and Washington DC. Both are places people need to visit–especially now with the way our world is……XOXOXO!!!

  10. painterwrite says:

    Although I refuse to even use the loo inside a U.S. McDonalds, you’ve just convinced me that I have to try a McDo while in France (which by the way is not very Rick Steves OR Anthony Bourdain of you). And I’m not leaving without my Eppy Meal prize!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Painter. Right???? Would Rick or Tony EVER enter into the kingdom of McDo? Nevah! But the breakfast offered is great. When traveling, we’re not out for a haute cuisine breakfast. We just want something quick that’ll keep us from unwanted hunger pangs. I’m getting an Eppy Meal next year. BTW, I DID have an Egg McMuffin on another occasion and it was spectacular!! XOXOXOXO!!

  11. mareymercy says:

    DAMMIT, woman! Stop making me want to EAT with all these photos!!

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