The Eleanor of Aquitaine Tour 2011

Eleanor of Aquitaine Tour

Eleanor of Aquitaine Tour

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE

An educational tour led by acclaimed author Sharon Kay Penman

June 4-13, 2011

Join acclaimed author Sharon Kay Penman on a journey to France this June to retrace the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine!

Eleanor—Duchess of Aquitaine and Gascony, Countess of Poitou, Queen of the French and Queen of England, mother to future kings and queens—was one of the most extraordinary women of her time, and continues to hold a fascination for us today!

Ms. Penman, author of seven historical novels including the Henry II Trilogy: When Christ and His Saints Slept, Time and Chance, and Devils’ Brood, and four medieval mysteries surrounding Queen Eleanor, leads this exceptional tour.

Travel back into the French Middle Ages and imagine the life of one of its most captivating royal figures.

Visit Paris where Eleanor married the French King Louis VII. Then travel into Normandy and Anjou, domains of her second husband, King Henry II of England. Explore the Aquitaine, richest medieval duchy in the south of France, where troubadours originated the daring idea of Courtly Love, and where Eleanor was born and raised in the court of her ducal ancestors.

Finally, find Eleanor and Henry in the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud, their last resting place, where Ms. Penman will read from her forthcoming book, Lionheart.


MY BLOGS ON THE TRIP

ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE TOUR–OUR ARRIVAL

Well, I am finally on the mend after my bout with Angevinia, as Sherill, one of our tour group, named the ailment that struck so many of us down upon our return home. So I feel up to starting my tour reports—sadly, after the fact. But even if my netbook had let me log onto the internet as often as I’d wished, I wouldn’t have been able to manage daily bulletins—too much fun, friends, and wonderful French wine. My intentions were good; I just wasn’t being very realistic.

I thought I’d do a day at a time. Most of us arrived in Paris on Sunday, June 4th Read more


ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE TOUR–DAY ONE, PARIS

Day One of the tour began with a visit to my favorite cathedral, Notre Dame de Paris. The first stone was laid in 1163, under the supervision of the Bishop of Paris, Maurice Sully, and the consecration of the high altar in the choir was done in 1182. It would become one of the gems of the new style that we know today as Gothic. But if it was not begun until Eleanor had been long gone from Paris, what is its Angevin connection? Read more


ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE TOUR–DAY TWO FALAISE AND MONT ST MICHEL

We got a late start leaving Paris and it was afternoon by the time we were approaching Falaise. Its castle was a very important stronghold in Henry’s time. Today the town is small—about eight thousand inhabitants—and, as we found out the hard way, it shuts down so its residents can enjoy a long, leisurely lunch. I was surprised, for the castle is a popular tourist attraction, and this was June, after all, hardly the off season. Read more


ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE TOUR–DAY THREE, MONT ST MICHEL AND LE MANS

We arrived at Mont St Michel on Tuesday evening, still early enough to do a little shopping before our dinner at La Mere Poulard. The main street is crammed with small shops, all selling trinkets and souvenirs and any item you could possibly want stamped with the name Mont St Michel. Some people might have thought the scene was tawdry or tacky. Not us, for we knew how very medieval it was. Read more


ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE TOUR–NIGHT THREE, OUR ARRIVAL AT FONTEVRAULT

I pick up the story on Wednesday, June 8th, in early evening. After a delightful afternoon in Le Mans, a wonderful place for communing with our Angevin ghosts, we headed for Fontevrault Abbey; by the way, I use the older spelling instead of the more modern Fontevraud for consistency, as this is what I’ve used since Here Be Dragons. But we were to encounter an unexpected obstacle on the way. Read more


ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE TOUR—DAY FOUR, POITIERS

Breakfast at the Abbaye Royale Hotel is a wonderful way to start any day, for the restaurant is built around the lazar house cloisters. It is like gazing through a window to the past. So despite our rather bumpy introduction to Fontevrault, we were all very happy to be here. And we were eager to begin the day’s expedition,. If Henry had left his heart in Le Mans, Eleanor gave hers to the city we would be visiting today, Poitiers. Read more