L'Isle Jourdain, France - a place to visit and savour
Find it in the Vienne department of France
I don't know about you, but we don't get chance to go out on day trips very often, so with the weather getting nice and warm we decided recently to take a break, down tools (so to speak) and go and explore this wonderful, varied and historic country of France some more.
If you've never been to France before it's quite a big place, (larger than the UK but smaller than the USA - now there's a useful comparison!) but it isn't just towns and cities - though all roads eventually lead to Paris! - a lot of it is very rural, with the serious mountain ranges of the Alps and Pyrenees to the south-east and south respectively, and a whole variety of countryside, coastlines, chateaus and fields in between.
A few hours away from us is the small town of L'Isle Jourdain in the Poitou-Charentes region in western France that we had heard about through friends, and so we climbed into the car and set off to find out what was so special about the place.
Come with us and see what we discovered when we got there...
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Arriving in L'Isle Jourdain
The first thing that struck us as we drove into town was the viaduct. A twelve-arch bridge spanning the Vienne river which used to take the railway 40 metres high over the water below, but has since been changed to a footpath, which we thought we would follow later on.
As we drove down the gradient into more of the town we came alongside the river itself and then the reason behind the name of the place was presented to us - L'Isle Jourdain or the island of Jourdain, literally related to the rocky island on which the local Lord Jourdain built his fortress and boy was it a sight! We visited in April and the wisteria was in full bloom all around the entrance and driveway up to this old and dilapidated building, which was actually for sale, as a lot of rural places seem to be in France.
That was it, we decided there and then that we must stop and take in the sights more. We found a place to park on the other side of the river; overlooking the viaduct, the actual L'Isle Jourdain and the St. Sylvain road bridge over the Vienne.
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On Closer Inspection
So once we'd parked up and got out of the car we chose to head towards the viaduct first, built in 1884 by Paul Sejourne. Not far away from the car park there were some steps up through some Californian poppies and on to what now is a footpath, but was once a railway line. The views from up there were stunning, but the sun was facing us making things a little hazy, but the photos didn't come out too bad.
As we were walking along the path we noticed some blue frames hanging over the side of the bridge and a car parked up. We were curious as to what was going on so we kept walking to find out what was occurring. On closer inspection we realised that people were signing up for bungee jumping! We were quite surprised in what seemed to be a quiet rural town, but there they were jumping off a 40 metre bridge towards the water below. I promise you - that wasn't going to be me!
We decided to keep walking and crossed the viaduct and descended the steps on the other side. Walking under the viaduct we thought we'd stop to see one of the 'jumpers' flinging themselves off the middle of the bridge - we were just glad it wasn't us.
The riverside was lovely and there were plenty of flowers and trees to add to the beautiful scenery. Walking back into town and down towards the island we really got chance to see the picturesque nature of the place. On the St. Sylvain bridge there was a statue of the martyr saint, who had been cast into the river and whose body was said to have washed up at that point making it an important pilgrimage site.
The best views were from this bridge, giving you wonderful photo opportunities of the L'Isle Jourdain and the Vienne river beyond - I'm afraid I couldn't resist - and with the most wisteria I've ever seen in one place I just clicked away my camera (see below).
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Though you might be able to get one once you're there, wouldn't it be useful to know that you can definitely use and charge all your electric devices while travelling in France?
You might want to know a bit more about what's happening day-to-day in France. This is THE French newspaper and will help you practice your language skills too.
Photos from our walk around L'Isle JourdainClick thumbnail to view full-size
Yes - I'd love to
L'Isle Jourdain, France - If you're visiting you need to be able to find it - right?
A Hidden Gem
We walked back to the car having crossed this second bridge and through the rest of the town. All in all we could quite easily see why the place was recommended to us and was potentially so popular. We were lucky as we visited before the start of the tourist season, but I couldn't be certain how hectic it would become later in the year.
The thing is that France, though extremely popular, is so big that there are plenty of places to visit and explore and living here we have the opportunity to find these hidden gems whenever we like - I know we're extremely lucky and am grateful for the life we lead.
However, if you're visiting France this year, or in the future, I don't think you can go wrong with a trip to L'Isle Jourdain; it's a beautiful place to visit or stay and I'm sure you wouldn't be disappointed - we certainly weren't.
Some helpful links for a visit to France
- How to Plan a Trip to France - Lodging Tips and Tricks
Some useful tips on how to plan a trip to France.
- The website for the French Tourism Development Agency
- Weather in France
- Informative WikiTravel page
© 2014 DreyaB