Here’s one of the cool things about French bike trips: Very often you turn a corner … and come across something quite unexpected … and spectacular.
It was 1993, our honeymoon bike trip … we had climbed up and out of Rouen, found the route along the Seine and kept peddling.
“Hey Susan, look at that sign, the one pointing to the left,” I said. The sign read: Jumieges.
“What is it?” Susan asked.
“I have no idea … let me look at my Michelin map.”
I did … and it had three little dots by Jumieges, which indicates: Ruins. And, it also had three stars next to Jumieges, which indicates: Highly recommended (by the Michelin people).
“We should check it out,” I said. “It’s highly recommended by the Michelin people. And it’s a ruin, and you love ruins.”
“How far is it,” the tired, but determined Susan asked.
“Looks like 3.5 kilometers.”
“How far is that?”
“About 2 miles,” I said.
“OK. It’s a ruin, we have to go.”
Turns out Jumieges is the spectacular ruin of a Benedictine monastery and cathedral that dates back to 654. A couple centuries later, Viking raiders attacked and pillaged (as Vikings so often do). Skip ahead another few centuries and William the Conquerer rebuilt the abbey. After the 16th Century, with the outbreak of religious wars, the abbey and cathedral fell into disrepair.
Ah, but disrepair and the resulting ruins can be beautiful.
We spent an hour or more at Jumieges, staring in wonder at the ruins … while Susan began shooting photos. Back then, she had a Nikon camera that used film. Yep, film. Actual B&W film. Which meant we had to carry like 25 or so rolls of film with us. And two heavy lenses.
As you can see … it was worth it.