Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 6 - Viviers

Viviers' biggest claim to fame in the modern world is that it is home to Lafarge Cement Works, started in 1833 and still in operation today.  Its considerable architectural heritage testifies to its intense religious and commercial past from the 3rd century up to now with both Medieval and Renaissance buildings.  The cathedral was completed in the middle of the 12th century but has been altered over the years. 

Restoration to return Viviers to its original appearance is underway.  We observed many buildings being "stripped" of their stucco to expose the original stones used for building.  Their intent is to turn it into a vacation destination as an open air architecture museum.  But it is certainly not in "disrepair" and is a lovely little village on the banks of the Rhone.

We walked this avenue from the river into town.  The Sycamore trees get "a haircut" each year to keep them from growing too large.  This old, log lentil caught my eye.  Soon all the buildings will show their basic structure as they are restored.

An example of the stucco that has been put on many of the houses and is now being removed to expose the original stones underneath.


This is just one of many archways over alleys that we took as we climbed up to the cathedral.

St. Vincent Cathedral, patron saint of wine growers.

The tapestries surrounding the altar are from the 17th century and represent Bible scenes.  The altar is from the 18th century.  Below shows the massive carved wooden doors of the cathedral.

The views were spectacular from our vantage point on the hill overlooking the river. And the wisteria was in bloom here too.

Our next stop would be Tournon where we would not visit the city but would have dinner with a local family.  We were driven by Jean in his car to his home to meet his wife Nadia.  We were served three kinds of sausage, ratatouille, scalloped potatoes, salad with quail eggs, cheeses, pastries, wine and coffee.  It's a nice touch that GCT does to acquaint you with just not the locale but its people.  The house dates back to I believe Jean said 950 when the road outside was an old Roman road.  He has restored and expanded it over the years.  What is now their master bath was the original one room structure.  There is a framed drawing on the wall from the 12th century (pre-cursor to a survey I suppose).  Jean said the dining room window was the window shown on the front of that small house in the drawing.

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