Monday, November 27, 2006


Props to Will, friend and former ex-pat, for recommending such an engaging place. Villers-la-Ville is the site of a ruined 12th century Cistercian abbey. Not much is left of the monastery's former glory; French revolutionnaries plundered the abbey long ago. It takes some imagination (and the audio guide) to make out what free-standing wall was what. The church is the most distinct. The prison, the most evocative.

Our visit had not begun very well. It rained cords the entire miserable drive up from Bruxelles. We pulled into the parking area. Then, as if by enchantment, the sun cleared (must be all the candles Edouard lights in churches). We made our way to the ruins, only to realise that the place was overrun with Boy Scouts. A blessing in disguise as it turns out, the flurry of activity kept Edouard focused and interested throughout the visit. The rain had made the ivy-clad walls dewey; the ruins seemed to glisten. It was all hauntingly romantic (Hubby, I want a third child...). Scouts-gone-wild burst the fantasy bubble in an instant.

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