Musée Lapidaire

Entrance to the museum
Entrance to the museum

The museum houses a grand collection of Roman Stones which were found in and around the area of Narbonne and offered on display in the former church, Notre Dame de Lamourguier, the remains of a 13th-century Benedictine Monastery.  It is a fine example of Southern Gothic art. There are over 1300 blocks of carved stone on display and constitutes one of the largest collections in Europe. Many of the stones were recovered from Roman grave sites and incorporated into the old ramparts of the city for decorative purposes. When the old ramparts were dismantled in the 19th-century, the stones were relocated to their current place of exhibition.

Make sure to click on the photos as it will make the carvings easier to view.

Bisous,

Léa

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Center isle

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Alet-les-bains

The old thermal baths - now closed
The old thermal baths – now closed

Situated in the Aude valley and surrounded by mountains is the lovely town of Alet-les-Bains. It is approximately thirty kilometers south of Carcassonne and an hour  east of the Mediterranean Sea and well into the “Pays Cathare”.

Once, Alet-les-Bains was a walled city. It had its own abbey, bishop and cathedral. All of this was fortified by ramparts and a moat in 1197. Today, it is a quiet village of five hundred but the remnants of its glorious past remain. You can still walk among the ruins of a medieval Jewish ghetto.

The natural springs remain and water from the springs is bottled and sold commercially. Yet, if you know and plan ahead, there is a spring fed fountain near the old spa where you can fill up any bottles you might have and there is no charge. The town has been famous for its thermal waters since Roman times. Today, the spas are closed. A victim to these hard financial times, the funds for badly needed restoration and changes that would bring it up to date are not available.

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Don't forget an empty bottle of two...
Don’t forget an empty bottle of two…

Despite closure of the spa, there are well preserved ruins that are well worth a visit. Many “belles demeures à colombages” or half-timbered houses, grace the steets. The medieval square features traditional medieval houses and one of these in which it is believed that Nostradamus had lived. Also among the ruins are a 12th century cathedral, the Episcopal Palace, the 14th century Chapter House, the Medieval town and more.

Le rivère
Le rivère

The natural springs were well known in ancient times attracting the Romans who had seized much of the lands. It is reported that Nostradamus and Charlemagne took the waters here. One of the oldest of bottled waters in France, it has been available for purchase for over 120 years. Furthermore, The French Ministry of Health recognized its intrinsic worth bestowing offical authorization to bottle the spring water back in 1886.

Bonne année, bonne santé et bisous!

Léa

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Through the cathedral window, you might catch a glimpse of the Star of David from the old ghetto.

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Wrapped in history!
Wrapped in history!
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Living with history

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Rennes-Les-Bains

Deep in the south of France lies Rennes-les-Bains. Ancient Thermal Pools This small village is located at the heart of “Cathar country” in the Corbières. It is located 48 km south of the city of Carcassonne. The area is known for:

* Since Roman times, it has existed as a spa town

* The cure, Abbé Henri Boudet

* Reported links with the Grand Master of the Knights of Templar, Bertrand de Blanchefort

* A setting in the novel Sepulcher

Ancient Thermal Pools

* A mere five-minute drive is the village of Bugarach were the reported portal for the New World is believed to be.

Regardless, it is beautiful place. Even if the baths were not here, it is worthy of a visit.

The benefits of going to a “spa” have been with us for centuries and evidence of their popularity dates back to the time of the Romans. There are over fifty such spa towns in France that are known for their healing qualities. France is one of the countries that still recommend spa treatment as part of available healthcare and are often covered by the individuals medical insurance.

Children swimming in the riverhere, it is worthy of a visit.

Photos are not allowed inside the baths and they are rather clinical. Regardless, I have never had a better massage and spent the rest of the day luxuriating in the glow.

The village is situated on the river Sals, which gets its name from the fact that it is salt water, which is unusual for an interior river. Rennes is one of many thermal baths and it is in the Languedoc-Roussillon Region.

The spa is modern and utilizes the latest in equipment. You can also bath in the old Roman baths the larger one at 46 degrees Centigrade / 114.8 degrees Fahrenheit. The village also contains a Turkish bath, jacuzzi, gym, and heated outdoor swimming pool.

Despite the fact that we did not have reservations, we were able to book time in the baths and found delightful accommodations a few minutes walk away.

Even on vacation, there can be stress. Do yourself a favor and check out the thermal spas. This is only the second Thermal spa I have visited. Perhaps further discovery is required.

Bisous,

Léa

Reception-book your treatments here

Arles

Déjà’-vu is not an uncommon feeling even on ones first visit to Arles. As you meander the winding streets and find yourself at the foot of the colorful houses and enjoy a cafe in the squares, it is as if you have wandered into a painting by Vincent Van Gogh.

This captivating city perched on the Grand Rhône River bears the footprints of previous occupants, During the Bronze Age it was a Celtic settlement before becoming a Greek colony then in 49 BC the Romans settled in and its prosperity and political standing soared when the powers of the day backed Julius Caesar. Caesar had never experience defeat throughout his illustrious career. Marseille had made the error of not supporting Caesar choosing to back Pompey the Great. For this error in judgment, Marseille was seized and pillaged. It cost them the power that is associated with being the region’s major port.

Along with power came growth and within the next century it accumulated both an amphitheatre which would seat 20,000 and a 12,000 seat theatre. The citizens were invited to partake in the entertainment of the day which included chariot races and contests among the gladiators. Amazingly, these two structures are still intact and in use. However, the gruesome sports of the past have been replaced by events such bullfighting (in France, the bull is not killed) and concerts. Regardless of the change in what is offered there is still the air of excitement when the season begins again each spring. The venues are packed with locals and tourists alike.

 While Arles was memorably rendered by one-time resident Vincent van Gogh. Sad to say, not one of the 200-odd canvases Vincent painted here, in just over a year, remains in Arles, but the town has made him a starring attraction nonetheless. From the re-creation of his bedroom to exhibitions in the former hospital where he had his ear stitched up, there’s a whole lot of Vincent to enjoy. Don’t miss the Van Gogh trail, a walking tour of sites where the artist set up his easel to paint canvases such as Starry Night.

Bisous,

Léa