“Journées du patrimoine” 2016 in pictures

Each year on the third weekend of September, France – like many other European countries – celebrates the “Journées du patrimoine” (“Heritage Days”).
It is an opportunity to visit sites that are not usualy open to the public like the “Elysée” palace where the president’s office is located and the “Palais Bourbon” that houses the “l’Assemblée nationale”, the French parliament, in Paris, the offices of the mayors in the big cities of France, privately owned castles and remarkable gardens, important archive collections etc.
The “Journées du patrimoine” are very popular and to get the most of them one has to get up early and expect, in many places, to wait in a long line his or her turn to visit.

I went to two events that took place on the weekend of the “Heritage Days”: the medieval festival of Belleperche Abbey and the Moissac Saint Pierre Abbey , entrance free for this special event. My choice was dictated not only by my passion for the medieval history but also by the proximity of these two sites, both located in the Tarn-et-Garonne department of the southwest France, and the fact that in Moissac and around the abbey there was also the festival of the “Chesselas grapes”, the white, sweet, table grapes that are the pride of Moissac!

Belleperche Abbey is an ancient Cistercian monastery founded in the 12th century, rebuilt in the 18th century but closed at the French revolution. It now houses the museum of the “Table’s Arts”. Each year since 2003 in September it hosts a Medieval Festival that tries to bring to life the atmosphere of the epoch when the abbey was still a living religious establishment.

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Belleperche Abbey houses now the museum of "Table's Arts"
Belleperche Abbey houses now the museum of “Table’s Arts”

Belleperche Abbey Cloister
Belleperche Abbey Cloister

Medieval Festival of Belleperche Abbey - Medieval Play
Medieval Festival of Belleperche Abbey – Medieval Play

Medieval protection gear workshop
Medieval protection gear workshop

Praybirds
Praybirds

Taking a bath in Middle Ages
Taking a bath in Middle Ages

The Moissac’s Saint Pierre Abbey is a more grandiose structure, listed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage. Its cloister is a remarkable monument of mixed Romanesque and Gothic art, one of the most notable of France. But the most outstanding monument, a masterpiece of the Romanesque art is its tympanum of the south portal, depicting Jesus Christ surrounded by 24 different elders.

Moissac Saint Pierre Abbey Tympanum - a masterpiece of Romanesque art
Moissac Saint Pierre Abbey Tympanum – a masterpiece of Romanesque art

Abbey's entrance
Abbey’s entrance

Moissac abbey cloister
Moissac abbey cloister

Flight from Egypt sculpture
Flight from Egypt sculpture on the upper right side of the main entrance

Scene of resurection of Lazarus
Scene of resurection of Lazarus sculpture on the left upper side of the main entrance

Sculpture depicting the lust on the left side of the main entrance of Moissac Saint Pierre Abbey
Sculpture depicting the lust on the left side of the main entrance of Moissac Saint Pierre Abbey

Moissac grapes displayed inside the abbey
Moissac grapes displayed inside the abbey

Chasselas grapes protection "syndicat"
Chasselas grapes protection “syndicat”

Chasselas of Moissac are black, sweet, table grapes
Chasselas of Moissac are black, sweet, table grapes

Wine and cheese tasting
Wine and cheese tasting
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