Sunday was my last day in Haute Normandie and I still had a few places I needed to visit. Fortunately, there wasn't any fog and I was able to get some nice photos of our chamber d’hôte Au temps des cerises which was surrouned by orchards of fruit trees in blossom. Like many buildings in the region, it was an old timber framed barn at one time. Our first stop this moring was the Abbaye de Jumièges, one of the most impressive ruins in France. In the 10th century, Duke William Longsword rebuilt Jumièges on the ruins of the former abbey founded in the 7th century by Saint Philibert and destroyed by the Vikings. It was renowned especially for its charity to the poor, being popularly called "Jumièges l'Aumônier". Enjoying the patronage of the dukes of Normandy, the abbey became a great center of religion and learning, its schools producing, amongst many other scholars, the national historian, William of Jumièges. The large abbey was consecrated in 1067 in the presence of William the Conqueror. The last monks dispersed at the Revolution and in 1793 it was bought at a public auction by a timber merchant who intended to turn Jumièges into a stone quarry and used explosives to bring down the lantern in the church. A new proprietor in 1852 set about saving the ruins and in 1946 the complex was purchased by the State. Like many religious monuments, the abbey has been subjected to a great many modifications and reconstructions. Having become “the most beautiful ruin in France” according to many 19th century authors, it today offers us an interesting lesson in architecture. One enters the property through the 14th century gatehouse. The interior presents beautiful Gothic architecture with sculpted keystones. Looking up, one can see on one of them--the medieval green man mask. Today, the building houses a reception room, exhibition hall as well as the souvenir shop. The Notre-Dame Abbey Church is the main church of the abbey. It hosted members of the religious order and the laity during the major religious festivals. An exceptional example of 11th century Normandy Romanesque art, it is built on a particularly grand scale; the two towers are 46 meters high, the nave 25 meters high. The façade is remarkable for its austerity. It is a rare example of a projecting structure between two towers. The nave is visible as soon as you enter and is quite spectacular to look at with its white walls divided into three different levels: arcades, triple openings and tall windows. The Romanesque capital with the bird in the transept is from the 11th century and has two sides. It is fitted tightly into pillar which was added later and is recognizable by its original ochre color. Not much remains of the choir which was rebuilt in the 13th century. It is the part of the church where the clergy stood and where services were held. Of the seven radiating chapels arranged around the choir, only one is conserved. This portion of the site is known as the Saint Pierre Church. It is here that one can see the oldest vestiges of the abbey such as the series of six medallions surmounted by small gemel windows and a half-length portrait of a man. These decorations are the only traces of the monastery that was destroyed by the Vikings in the 9th century. The cloister was used for walking and meditation. It has lost its gallery passageway and its Renaissance decoration from 1530. The refectory which closed off one of the sides of the cloister has been entirely destroyed. The former hospice, converted into a storeroom, was given an upper floor in the 17th century to house the library. Within the park surrounding the abbey are other structures and buildings. The abbot’s residence was built around 1675. Near its main gate are two large outbuildings which haven’t changed since they were built. The interior of the abbot’s lodging serves as a museum for the collection of sculptures which came from the abbey including busts from statues, reclining figures, old capitals and keystones. The gardens surrounding the abbey offer some wonderful strolls among remarkable tree and plant specimens as well as amazing views of the abbey itself from the main terrace where several works by contemporary artists are on display in an open air exhibition. My favorite was this piece by Shigeko Hirakawa entitled Mandala oublié - Labyrinthe de meditation. Nearby is the former bakery which still stands at the far end of the park and is today used for exhibitions.