Saturday 28 April 2018

Wandering around the cloisters

Saturday 28 April 2018 - Day 55

Nido’s parked up at another free aire, this time in the village of Castelsagrat.  We’re only about 4km from last night’s stop in Montjoi and earlier I heard their church bells ringing for evening Mass.  Our first stop this morning was the town of Moissac.  I’m not religious in any way, but I do admire some of the architecture and I have a particular soft spot for cloisters.  I like the symmetric form of the columns with the garden in the middle; I find them a peaceful place to contemplate and think. Walking slowly around and around the garden is very meditative. Usually, they’re too busy with other visitors to fully soak up the atmosphere, but occasionally I come across one early in the day.  The cloister and porch of the Abbey Church of St Pierre is a masterpiece of Romanesque sculpture.  It’s survived numerous wars, including the siege and sack by Simon de Montfort senior in 1212 during the crusade against the Cathars (another time in history that fascinates me).  The cloister adjoining the abbey surrounds the garden shaded by a very large cedar tree and it’s pantile roof is supported by 76 alternating single and double marble columns.  Each column supports a single inverted wedge-shaped block of stone, on which are carved animal and plant motifs, as well as scenes from the bible and the lives of the saints; every one of the 76 columns has an individual carving.  We wandered slowly around before climbing a steep spiral stone staircase to a large space with a vaulted roman ceiling, which overlooked the inside of the abbey.  The abbey itself had walls and ceilings covered in what, at a distance, looked like tiles, but were in fact one huge painted fresco.  

There was a large market in the town and we wandered about, buying a round loaf of Moroccan bread (deliciously light with a thin, crispy crust) and some cooked prawns from the seafood stall in the adjacent covered market.  We walked back to the van and drove to park alongside the river, enjoying our lunch sat at a wooden picnic table by the water.  Our next stop - here in Castelsagrat - was a return the way we came this morning.  We walked around the village - lots of the usual quiet streets with old, shuttered houses opening onto the road, some of them medieval.  The village square is dominated by covered walkways, under which there were several shops, including the post office, a restaurant, a tabac and a boulangerie - that’s breakfast sorted tomorrow!  We spent the afternoon sat on our chairs on the grass area by the van, enjoying the hot sunshine.  Cathy cooked a delicious ‘sweet and sour’ meatballs and vegetables and we sat out this evening, watching the swifts and swallows and some large dark clouds forming; Meteo France on Twitter are reporting an orange warning of torrential rain in three departments - and we’re smack bang in the middle!  Still, today was supposed to be cloudy but turned into a hot afternoon.  Tomorrow we’re moving out of this immediate area, heading north east towards the area around Cahors, where we hope to spend a few days exploring and maybe getting in some wild swimming if the weather allows. 

Castelsagrat aire

Entrance to the village square


  1. So glad you made it to Moissac. Isn'it magnificent! I take it you are staying at the aire?

    1. We didn't stay on the new aire, but parked by the river in order to visit the town. Considering it was market day there was plenty of space.


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