Tom & Sue–Sat May 23 Villefranche de Rouergue, France

MELILLO – SATURDAY, MAY 23 – VILLEFRANCHE DE ROUERGUE,  FRANCE

As always, I begin with our evening pre-retiring  story:
Before I hopped into bed last light, I took a couple of photos of our Host & Hostess as they walked around their property evaluating plants, the gardens and the grounds.  You could just see and feel the love they have for their home … and  for each other.   It was a great way to end the  day.  

Got up in the morning and we went downstairs for coffee and a quick “smoke”.  We greeted our hosts and they  invited us into their “Gathering Room” (which Susan named “The Club Room”  and they loved it!).  It is actually a room attached to  their garage under the house.  It is set up  with a table and chairs, lights for the evenings and shades to be drawn to hide the other areas of the garage.  A very comfortable and welcoming  “social center” to say.  It appears that this is also a  retreat for them during the day … or to visit with guests over wine and  cheese in the evenings.  We enjoyed a great conversation  with both of them over what was probably a full pot of coffee. But I still  wanted coffee with breakfast, I hoped we were not on rations! 

We went back upstairs to shower and finish  packing as Ina went off to prepare our breakfast.  We came down to a lovely dining room and a table set with all sorts  of “goodies” for breakfast and a full pot of coffee. (I’m getting used to  being wired) I think we have had a croissant for breakfast every morning since we arrived in Europe.  But today was different … Ina & Kees treated us with fried  eggs, prosciutto (jambon), other meats and cheeses.  Being the “pro’s” that we are, we both made ourselves a wonderful  “Egg Croissant” SANDWHICH … absolutely delicious! Wired up we went back upstairs to finish packing and  took some time for some photo ops with Kees, Ina & Bo … bidding  farewell and hating to leave.  We are most grateful to them for  making our time at their Bed & Breakfast so enjoyable and  memorable.  Kees asked that we add them to our email address for our Daily Trip Reports during our “personal pilgrimage” and we  have done so … welcome to the van Der Sandt’s. By the way … did I tell you that I loved this  bed and shower?

We headed out toward our next stop …  Villafranche-de-Rouergue, France … to Notre Dame de Treize Pierres les  Clerksde Saint Viatuer (the Path of the 13 Stones) where a beautiful story is told about Our Lady and the Apostles helping some workmen get across a  river in the area by laying 13 stones so that they could cross over the  waters with theirs carts and their oxen.  Of course, the purpose of the workmen’s efforts was because they wanted to build a Chapel to Our Lady which still stands today and we were Blessed to visit.

On our way to Villafrance-de-Rouergue, we wanted  to stop to stretch our legs and for Susan to remove her fingernails  from the car’s leather arm-rests that she was trying to hide from me as I  had my “fun” through the mountain “S-Turns”.  We saw a road sign on the side of the road that said “Notre Dame de  Quezac”.   The two of us, within seconds, said … this is a Shrine that the Sisters and Priest at Notre Dame L’Hermitage in Noiretalble had told us about.   This was not on our “radar” for  our trip … we had also learned that it is a pilgrim stop for those walking  the “Way of Saint James on the Road to  Compestello”.  I made a quick right turn, not knowing if we had  a long ride ahead of us and not knowing anything about the  Shrine.   Within less than one minute, the Shrine was  directly in front of us on the left … we pulled into the empty parking  spaces and entered the grounds … there was absolutely no one around. I was  wondering if they had a toilet?

Sitting inside the Church of QuexacThe Church of Quexac was beautiful and gave us  another opportunity to visit a Sacred Statue of Our Blessed Mother and Jesus which are so prevalent in France especially this  area. The finding of Sacred Statues, I believe is  one of the catalysts that has led so many people to the Chapels, Churches and Cathedrals that have the honor of Our Lady’s  grace and presence in the form of these mysterious statues.  They have been Prayed in by so many believers.  We have seen “ex-votos”(testimonial plaques) adorning walls, chapels, Sanctuaries …. Just incredible! Unfortunately today the believers  are few. We couldn’t leave this Shrine without praying, so we  decided that this was the perfect place in front of the Mother and Child  statue to pray the rosary for all you intentions. Our voices echoed  through out the church and a peace fell upon us.  We lit a candle as  usual in thanks to our Mother and Savior for listening to our  request.

Sign outside the Chapel of the 13 stones
Sign outside the Chapel of the 13 stones

We continued on our journey to  Villefranchise du Rougere  and the Chapel of the 13 Stones. The story  is below and a quick read. When we arrived it was closed as we had figured  since everything closes from 12 to 2, so we decided to find our B&B  and see if we could check in. No problem except for the flight of stairs I  had to go up to find the owner.  She, Jane, said the room was  ready and wanted me to go up another flight of stairs to see the room.  I said let me get some luggage first (my legs were killing me  and I didn’t want to up and down 2x without something in hand).and by the way let me get my  wife.

Here is our relaxing dinner in our room
Here is our relaxing dinner in our room

I figured we could do this in  3 trips, but dangerous  Dave the husband appeared and grabbed the 2  biggest pieces of luggage and was in our room with them before I locked  the car. Jane also appeared and grabbed some more luggage.  I gave  Susan some and I made it to our room with the wine and food in hand  without losing a breath.
 

The entrance to the Chapel of the Penitents
The entrance to the Chapel of the Penitents

We went into town to the Chapel of the  Penentinents, not realizing it was a museum of sorts. As we paid to  go in the woman at the desk, found out we wanted to visit the  chapel of the 13 stones that was always closed except by appointment,  she called the caretaker and made an appointment for us for 5 PM.
 

The caretaker gave us a great tour of the chapel
The caretaker gave us a great tour of the chapel

Pretty good except that this guy couldn’t  speak a word of English and his exuberance for his job was so overwhelming  that he spent 40 minutes telling us the story of the chapel and of the frescos on the walls in french and I think I said “oui” 50 times.  Thank God we understood the depictions. I tried to tip him but he  wouldn’t take it so I said donation and that was the it.  We bid him  farewell and returned to our B&B in desperate need of a glass of  wine.
 
We had a bite to eat and sent out a report  and crashed into that lovely
KING size bed.  Morning came to  soon.
 
Au Revoir
 
God Bless you all
 
Love Susan and Tom
Our Lady of  Quezac

Click here for the story of Our Lady of Quezac

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