I have always been attracted to artistic expression of religion in its early years, when it came from the spiritual passions (and bawdy joys) of real people and was not yet bogged down by dogma and liturgical ritual. Walking in the steps of pilgrims through wonderfully preserved medieval villages on the cliffs of the Massif Central was to share in that rhapsodic experience.

The Abbey church at Conques was at the heart of my experience. Its rather rapid construction in the 12th led to a very consistent aesthetic, and its tumultuous past continues to excite the town. The stunning tympanum above the main entrance is an art historian’s dream — though I noticed that it includes depictions of creatures that look suspiciously like the House Elves of Hogwarts!

Though I journeyed to the Lot Valley to experience the cultural history of Medieval France, it was a far more diverse and stimulating journey full of gorgeous waterfalls, mouth-watering produce at village markets and rich meals at local inns, remarkably personable livestock, warm and hospitable people, and wonderful traveling companions.

By 5-time WT adventurer Suzy McIntosh, Medieval France: The Lot Valley

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