Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Life Through the Lens - MELLE

Melle is a lovely historic town in the Deux-Sèvres region of the Poituou Charentes. Now, we have lived here 10 years this year and I thought we had pretty much covered all that Melle had to offer! Well I found out that's not quite true and a very unfair assumption on my part!  And this year is probably the best year to discover the hidden delights of this town as it is celebrating 10 years since being given the designation of "Petite Cite de Caractere".  

Not only is Melle very popular on market day, selling all types of home grown vegetables and fruit, to sea food, flowers and cheese,  one in particular is the cheese of the area a type of goat's cheese named 'chabichou', driving around the routes to Melle you will see the brown sign and "Route de Chabichou" we have had it once, I shall leave it at that!
"The town was founded in the reign of Charlemagne as a mining centre and was, for a time, the home of the French mint: the Aachen penny of Charlemagne, the first coin of Charlemagne to be found at his capital of Aachen/Aix, was minted at Metullo. The silver mines which supplied the mint continued to function off and on before being forgotten altogether in the 18th century, not to be discovered again until the 20th century. The mine is now a tourist attraction and can be visited most days of the year.
In the Middle Ages, Melle flourished as a town, as can be seen from its surviving medieval houses and the three churches, built in the Romanesque style during the 11th and 12th centuries."
(thank you Wiki!) 
We have also travelled the paths of the Silver Mines many years ago (well 9 and a bit to be precise!) and it was very enjoyable and quite amazing to think that something so incredible is on our very own doorstep! The Problem with living so near to somewhere sometimes leads us to think we know that place and we have "done" the tourist attractions etc...but yesterday I went off piste! I had a whole hour to meander through the little lanes and around the old Church of St. Savinien... I was quite surprised when the door not only opened but to walk in and discover - nothing - no chairs, benches, altar or even stained glass windows! The church is now used mainly for concerts especially for the Fête de Musique which runs through the month of June. Another Church we have visited is Eglise St. Hilaire, a church that is  listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the World Heritage Sites of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France. The church of Saint-Hilaire has an "ecclesiastical juke-box" which plays hymns and chants, which annoyingly wasn't working when we popped in - so that means we can go back - yes? This photos was taken from the 'Arboretum, Chemin de la Découverte'. Which has been having much work to the area over the last few years, and has about  1,000 different species of trees and shrubs, and 100 different species of Roses...now these are more established another walk in the Spring will be undertaken :)
So back to discovering the delights of this little town full of history and for me surprises! Most people probably know about Melle, but somehow we never have the time just to wander, and especially with the camera at the ready!

The church of Saint Savinien....exterior and then another door into the interior - this was to my surprise, completely empty! 
The writing is on the door!

I love the ceiling! 

As the sun was coming out by this stage I had to take a walk around the ramparts...

With cars and barriers in the way it was hard to get a full photo - might be going back again then!

With still plenty of time to spare and that wandering will I chose a road and walked it -- to find myself again somewhere we hadn't been for a few years! So many roads to choose, and really they all go around the outside of the Town square - but I have been to those shops and the Place du Marché many times so another road for me today!

The back of the Office de Tourisme

Medieval quarter

I then happened upon a garden area with the Bread oven so beautifully kept! Although the steps down should come with a warning as they were very slippery - which shook me up just a little! I knew I should have take the steps next to where the cat was sitting!
Lovely but slippery steps are a hazard!

Such a cutie!

Walking under this overhead bridge made me think of times gone by, who walked over it? Who lived in the houses that shared the bridge? So many questions! 

I also love all the colours that you can see where the paint is peeling off - how many layers are there I wonder?

And then a left at the end and another road we have walked before but then the decision to take the road or follow the pathway that went uphill? The latter would make sense as that would lead me back to the Church and to my rdv point with dearest daughter - so the hilly path (and slippery in places) won out....

leading my back to the l'eglise Saint Savinien

Looking back

I didn't really know where I was going at this point, don't you just love that? The wonder of what you will find and the possibilities in France are endless really!

Looking down and I could be somewhere far more Mediterranean, with the Olive tree! 

and Palm trees to the left

Rooftops and Chimney pots

So I am not at the top of the path and find myself in company of two Gendarmes also making the rounds, the Mr. Gendarme had nearly slipped over coming up the path and was leading off about that, so me being me, pointed out that the steps in front of the Bread Oven are also very slippery and that I nearly went down but luckily didn't (my camera! and backside unscathed!) and maybe a notice placed to warn people in the area! Hmmmm this is possible I think was the response! Oh well, I did my bit!

So I then spotted a gateway in the wall and found myself following the Gendarmes into the "Hospital Gardens" the hospital is no longer situated in this part of Melle but has been moved to brand new facilities. So it's very quiet and desolate around me.

I can only assume that works will be undertaken at some stage - but for me I found the buildings so interesting and only until recently would have been used as the Old People's home also.

On walking around a little more I saw this gateway and doorway, that would have to wait a while longer I had some great scenes in front of me that needed attention! Those will be shared later - they are another blog!

Eventually I finished my photos of the "other" things that I love taking, and found the Chapel. The ornate doorway detailed and beautiful....fingers crossed the door would be unlocked!

And yes it was, not quite what I was expecting, but very peaceful! And that ended my little promenade around just one part of Melle, I am hoping to get back over the next few weeks, weather permitting of course!

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