Friday, February 5, 2016

The view from Monbahus

I’ve passed through Monbahus many times, and nearly every time I’ve said, “We need to walk up to that structure on the hill someday.” We did just that on one recent afternoon and we were rewarded with an excellent view of the surrounding Lot-et-Garonne countryside as well as a few bits of new knowledge.

La Vierge de Monbaus can be seen from the surrounding valleys.

According to my French friends, Monbahus is pronounced mon-‘bye-ew. The little village (pop. 676) is located 40 km north of Agen, 45 km south of Bergerac, and midway laterally between Miramont-de-Guyenne and Monflanquin. In addition to the normal small-town amenities, Monbahus has two small restaurants: Le Moulin, with an English focus, and Le Portugais (another place I’ve been meaning to try). 

The village of Monbahus is seen enroute to La Vierge de Monbahus.

And then there’s the hill. Park in the village and head up the road across from Le Portugais. The sign at the trail head provides a bit of information about the path and urges visitors to to observe, link and compare the various sites ahead. The hill is maintained as a natural habitat, with each season providing specialties: wildflowers in the spring, spikey flora in the summer, green grassy hills in the fall and a time of rest in the winter.

It’s a short easy walk to our first stop, one of the observation platforms. Along le chemin (the path) there are several prompts urging visitors to note landmarks and the surrounding flora, most notably the prune and hazelnut orchards.

An observation platform on le chemin in Monbahus.

My walking companion checks out a signpost on le chemin
in Monbahus.

Le chemin is fairly easy, and except for one dog-walker, we’re alone for most of the hour we spend here. Our stroll takes us on a smooth dirt path and across grass. Since the ground is soggy, we’re glad we have worn old sneakers. It’s a beautiful day, so we take our sweet time admiring the views.

View of the village church from le chemin in Monbahus

Le cimetière as seen from le chemin in Monbahus

A large map identifies landmarks seen from the top of the hill in Monbahus.

A landscape map can be found at the top of the hill along with placards that provide a Monbahus history lesson. In addition to La Vierge perched on a tall round tower, there’s a stone structure resembling a water reservoir.

La Vierge de Monbahus

Inscription at the base of La Vierge de Monbahus

Stone structure on the top of the hill in Monbahus. 

The Virgin herself plays an interesting role in the history of Monbahus. In the late 1800s, mill owners M. et Mme. Gary longed for a child. After they eventually had a daughter, they had commissioned a three-meter tall, two-ton statue to be built and installed in the village church. Later, the statue was moved, with the help of many villagers, oxen and lumber wagons, and was perched atop of the hilltop mill. Tours of La Vierge de Monbahus are offered in the summer months.

The village center of Monbahus

Weather vane atop the Monbahus Mairie

A splash of color in Monbahus

No comments:

Post a Comment