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My French Life: Orchid Festival in an ancient Abbey in France

 Nave of church of Abbey of Vaucelles, northern France filled with orchids

I can’t claim to be an avid orchid fan. I like them, they are beautiful flowers but I’m not obsessed with them like some people. My Mother had a friend who adored her orchids, crazy about them; she lavished attention on them and talked to them every day. Some people have special orchid greenhouses built and spend huge sums of money pursuing the perfect bloom. They have been a significant feature of Chinese culture for centuries – the philosopher Confucious  (551–479 BC) compared them to a virtuous man: “An orchid in a deep forest sends out its fragrance even if no one is around to appreciate it. Likewise, men of noble character hold firm to their high principles, undeterred by poverty.”

I recently came across a site which advertised an Exposition Internationale d’Orchidées to be held in a village not too far from where I live. It got my attention because it is going to be held in an Abbey of great beauty.

Abbey de Vaucelles

The Abbaye de Vaucelles is in the town of Les Rues des Vignes near Cambrai in northern France. It is a very prestigious historical monument, a former Cistercian abbey which had fallen into ruin but underwent an extraordinary restoration and is now open for visits and used for cultural and artistic events.  The first stone of this building was laid on August 1, 1132 by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and at it’s peak it was the largest Cistercian Church in Europe, as big as Notre Dame in Paris. This building has had a long existence as a church of great significance.  In the 18th Century the Abbaye de Vaucelles housed a world famous collection of 40,000 books and manuscripts collected by the Abbot appointed by Louis XV. It has also been a textile factory, farm and was damaged by fire in World War I.

Abbey de Vaucelles

In this extraordinary building the 23rd International Festival of Orchids will be held – March 14-18 2013. Producers and amateurs will display orchids from Italy, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Malaysia and Taiwan which leads the way in orchid cultivation in an exceptionally beautiful location.

I have to say I find the prospect of beautiful flowers in such a wonderful setting is irresistible!

Details about this festival and other events and visits on the Abbey de Vaucelles website: abbayedevaucelle.com

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