Saturday, December 23, 2023

Advent Postcards, Tusson Charente


French Village Diaries cycling adventure Advent postcards Tusson Charente
Advent postcards, Tusson, Charente

Advent day twenty-three

Today’s cycling advent-ures postcard is from Tusson in the Charente, an easy twenty-kilometre bike ride from home. This means it’s not only a popular cycling destination for us, but also our morning coffee stop if we are cycling the sixty kilometres to Angoulême. It is also somewhere that holds some significant memories.


Way back in 2019, when Covid-19 was just a whisper in the newspapers, we created our Christmas Day bike ride and picnic tradition, and Tusson was the location we picked to pop open the Champagne and tuck into our feast. It was also Tusson that was the destination for our first post lockdown adventure in May 2020. Safely spaced, but cycling together with Ed, Pearl and our friends, we took it in turns to choose our takeaway cakes from Gâteaux, a popular tea shop in Tusson, before heading back to our Christmas Day picnic tables to enjoy an outdoor freedom treat.


French Village Diaries cycling adventure Advent postcards Tusson Charente
The delights of Gateaux salon de thé

There is a lot more to Tusson than just our memories though as it is also a significant stage on the Chemins de Saint-Jacques pilgrimage route. The 15th century church is dedicated to Saint-Jacques, so it’s not surprising that the entrance is home to a carved statue of him as well as a contemporary sculpture of a pilgrim, and the inside also has some striking wall paintings. As you take your time to explore the narrow lanes of Tusson, many with stunning flower borders, you will also find statutes, stained-glass and pottery workshops, and many noble medieval buildings.


The other side of the main road there is a 19th century lavoir (wash house) that hides an unusual secret, something we only discovered this summer. To the left of the lavoir, and up some stone steps, it is possible to see part of an ancient underground aqueduct that used to bring water to the old priory. Running behind (and completely hidden from) the main road are the remains of two priories (a men’s and a women’s), a medieval monastic garden and the biggest surprise for us, an adapted sensory garden for people with autism. It is definitely a village that deserves the time to explore its many treasures and if this isn’t enough, just outside of the village there are megaliths and tumuli dating back to the 5th millennium BC.

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