We’re back on the Les Plus Beaux Villages trail today with a visit to not one, but two pretty villages.
Our journey to Lods takes us into the land of Comte – France’s famous semi-hard unpasteurised cows’ milk cheese. Yummy, of course!
This mountainous area produces 64,000 tonnes of Comte annually. The girls are kept very busy!
It’s another glorious day but with a threat of three days rain to come. It’s certainly galvanized farmers into action – they’re busily turning and baling meadow hay as fast as they can. I’ve never seen so many tractors trundling about in one day.
After a very convoluted approach, we arrive at the tiny village of Lods.
It has an unusual history, once an iron forge and also a wine growing area, sadly, it no longer does either. Imports put paid to the iron works and the vines of the 16th to 18th centuries were wiped out in the 19th century by phylloxera, an aphid like insect. Today with only 231 inhabitants, it’s very quiet indeed, but oh so very pretty with its river setting.
Luckily, much of its history remains with 16th and 17th century winemakers’ and blacksmith’s houses dotted along the river Loue. They surely would have been a fit bunch – the climb to the top of the hill is virtually vertical.
No sooner than we’ve zoomed up to the top (where the church is, of course, and this rather extraordinary clock – that’s its mechanism, below) and lapped the village, it’s off to our next stop: Baume les Messieurs.
Farmers at their continuous toil line our way. The occasional farm cat, purposefully stalking his way across a field is spotted. At the edge of a forest thicket, well away from farms, I swear I see a European wild cat – catty yes, but with a bigger body, longer legs and thicker tail. No sooner than he’s spotted, he’s off through the undergrowth. Google supports my hopes – if so, it’s a lucky and rare sighting of an elusive creature.
The road in to Baume les Messieurs is no more than a country lane. It’s a big relief when nothing large comes the other way!
Once we’re through, there’s a surprise. We’re surrounded by Jura landscape – exposed rock faces surround the valley.
We settle by the Seille river and walk back into the village.
Baume les Messieurs is famous for its Imperial Abbey which inspired the founding of the Order of Cluny. The oldest parts of the Abbey date back to the 9th century. It Booming and expanding in the Middle Ages, it’s now a series of buildings around a series of squares.
After the French Revolution the Abbey was divided up into private dwellings and whilst some sections are retained for commercial use, we’re free to roam elsewhere.
We explore for a while then settle in the Abbey restaurant for a well deserved drink (much fearless driving from Himself today) before walking back home.
Late into the evening when thunderstorms and lightning hit, I ponder how the farmers fared with their hay harvest.
The rains have come.