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Bazas & Sauterne Country


October 2007


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Bazas is now a quiet market town on the via Lemovicensis from Vezelay to Santiago de Compostela, though one look at the setting and facade of the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Bazas confirms the fact that back in pilgrimage days this was no quiet little backwater !   The town's Gallic history predates pilgrimages - Euric the Visigoth King was involved in some disturbances and a massacre around here related to the Arian heresy at the end of the 400s.  The town and its cathedral got flattened by the Normans later in the first Millennium, then one of the Toulouse Raymonds (the II) organized the rebuilding of the cathedral in 1070, and it was ready for consecration by the ever travelling Pope Urban II shortly after he had set the First Crusade in motion at the Council of Clermont in November 1095.







Sure enough, the right (south) portico still has a few recognizable Zodiac signs and monthly labours left in place.  These weathered figures are much more evocative than some of the more complete sets in the better known places, many of which are replacements from the 1800s and 1900s and look like it! 




Paring something

Leo - July
Sything Crops ? Virgo - August
Picking Grapes (Missing: Libra - September)

Treading Grapes




The great nave is a light and happy feeling place - or maybe that was the photographer





The monastic buildings of the cathedral (now replaced by a well cared for garden) were right up against the southern rampart of the town.  This photo was taken from the terrace of the Restaurant "Les Remparts" further round the rampart, whose height makes one wonder how many hundreds of thousands of medieval wheelbarrow hours went into its construction. 


Incidentally, the restaurant provided the best pumpkin soup ever plus a good osso buco - all for €12 including wine (2007 prices) - a good example of the value of lunch deals at this time of year, also the rewards of moving away from the monopoly "view of the cathedral" joint in the square, which here unbelievably insists that single diners sit at tiny single tables perched uncomfortably on the edge of the dining area, even when the restaurant is half empty!


Bazas marked the southernmost point of our 2007 pilgrimage road journey - next it was back up the via Podiensis to le Puy-en-Velay, but before that there was a quick diversion to be made to the village of .......




... where teams of pickers were busy gathering the botrytis affected liquid sunshine (in foreground) of tomorrow - Chateu d'Yquem is near here, but it eluded us, and the truth is that like several other French wine areas this one is pretty flat and boring both scenically and built environment wise.



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