Thursday, 12 July 2012

A Candlestick Oak

June 10th
Arriving mid-morning in the village of La Neuville-en-Hez on the GR124,  Zorbee was able to quench his thirst at La Fontaine Saint Louis...
This spring was named after King Louis IX of France who was born here according to legend - other sources state he was born elsewhere, though he certainly often stayed at the castle here.  The Saint Louis moniker is due to the fact that he was the only canonised King of France.  He died in 1270 during the Eighth Crusade - not a glorious death on the battlefield, but rather ignominiously of dysentery in Tunisia.

From here we plunged into another former royal forest - this time the Foret de Hez-Froidmont which is a designated Area of Natural Interest for Flora and Fauna.
One unique natural landmark in the forest is La Chene Chandelier, or Candlestick Oak, so named due to its triple branching trunk which resembles a three branched candlestick
 Orme Lisse, European White Elm or Ulmus Laevis to give its Latin name, is relatively rare in France but also grows in the forest.  I assume the tree behind the little explanatory signboard about Orme Lisse in the photo below is a living example.
...but as it is now a protected species in France, I also assume the logs in the background are not examples.
Leaving the forest at on the other side I came across this ancient wall..
It turned out to be the old wall surrounding the remains of the Cistercian Froidmont Abbey which was destroyed during the French Revolution.  Founded in 1134 by Abbott Valeran of Ourscamp, the religious buildings have all gone, and all that remains is the wall and a few agricultural buildings which survive in various states of repair -the ruins of the barn are now a listed historic monument.  Incredible to think that at one time the abbey farm was so thriving that in 1230 it reportedly sold 7000 sheep fleeces!
Among those buried at Froidmont was Geoffrey II de Charny, whose family owned the Turin shroud .
A cat in the manger.......
..but Zorbee is more interested in the perky model horse.
Riding to Avesnes-en-Bray on June 11th , Zorbee waits patiently for me to take a photo in a field at Les Boulards near Bouchevilliers.
 A tight squeeze on a GRP (Grand Randonnee de Pays) near Neuf Marche. 
As mentioned before, GRP are not always so well maintained as GR and can be quite overgrown in places.

Zorbee admires the view over lowlands at Avesnes-en-Bray..
...where we were staying overnight at the lovely old French farm of fellow Welsh pony breeder Marie Hindie - we were now in Upper Normandy!

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