Thursday, May 17, 2012

Quiet Day in Avranches

It was a quiet day in Avranches in two senses. First, the streets were eerily quiet when we went out at 9am. Most businesses seemed to be closed, and there was little traffic. Where was everybody? We finally asked and learned this was a "Bank Holiday." They sure have a lot of holidays in France. May Day was a big one, and also the day after the election of a new president was a holiday, and now this one.

Second, it was quiet for us as the only scheduled "things" were laundry (yippee!) and a visit to the Avranches Scriptorial, the storage site for, and museum of, the manuscripts and books created and collected by the monks of Mont-Saint-Michel over a millenium. When the monasteries were broken up in the Revolution, the library at Mont-Saint-Michel was recognized as a national treasure and given to the municipality of Avranches to preserve. They have a relatively new museum building for displaying them.

However, when we got there (after the laundry) at 12:15 they were just closing for the two-hour lunch break. So we had to pass a little time. Today was cloudy with showers (we were very lucky to have had yesterday's perfect weather for visiting the Mont itself) but we visited the only other attraction of the town, the Jardin des Plantes. A very nice, although small, botanical garden. And naturally, took some pics.

View of M-S-M from 11km distance on a rainy day.

Like meeting a friend from home: Sequoia Gigantea.

Place was just full of rhododendron and azalea in bloom.

Funny little green plant with rows of pendant white bells.

The Scriptorial museum didn't allow photography of any kind. We spent two hours there. There were several short films on skills like making hand-laid paper, re-binding old books, and calligraphy which were beautifully made and quite informative even though they were French-only, no subtitles. And the dozen or so books on display (rotated from the collection of over 200) were quite astonishing. Pages of hand-penned text in about the equivalent of 16-pt type, with perfect blocks of marginal comments in, kid you not, the hand-written equivalent of 9-pt type. Amazing skills of penmanship, not to mention patience.

Tomorrow, to Dinan by way of Saint-Malo.

1 comment:

  1. Avranches is where George Patton made his breakout through German defenses, starting a broad sweep through France to Paris.

    It's nice to see that the area shows no signs of the long-ago battles there and, instead, beautiful flowers abound.