MAGDALEN, BLACK MADONNAS + FRANCE
July 26th - August 1st
This tour holds so much…mysterious coded churches, The Magdalen, her relics, and her daughter Sarah, a cave grotto church, ancient strongholds, cliff side sanctuaries, elementals in ancient forests, Black Madonnas, a gypsy seaside pilgrimage destination, medieval fortresses and drawbridges, sidewalk cafes, Palaces of the Popes, and more!
Our group will meet and get to know one another for dinner in the city of Toulouse in the Languedoc region of southern France at 6:00 PM. The exact restaurant is not yet set. Please check into the hotel prior to dinner. Afterward we will retire to our hotel for a good night’s sleep before we set out on our Pilgrimage.
We begin our day in Toulouse visiting the first Black Madonna, the Notre Dame de la Daurade in the Saint Étienne Cathedral.
Next we drive to another beautiful Black Madonna, Notre Dame de Marceille in the French town of Limoux.
We then head on to one of the most mysterious and controversial sites of our tour, the grounds of Rennes-le-Château, the place that inspired the book The Da Vinci Code. Here we will visit and meditate at the enigmatic church that is embedded with hidden codes and meanings.
We end the day with a wonderful dinner and a night’s rest in the medieval walled city of Carcassonne.
We begin at Montségur, the last strong hold of the Cathars, which fell after a 10 month siege in 1244. A field below the hilltop castle is reputed to be the site where over 200 Cathars were burned alive, having refused to renounce their faith. It is sometimes a steep but well cared for 45 minute climb to the summit. At the top is a beautiful view and the medieval ruins offer powerful portals into the past.
Later in the afternoon we’ll tour to the ancient walled city of Carcassonne, famous for its spectacular collection of drawbridges, towers, and atmospheric cobbled streets. We’ll stroll through its streets, drinking in the atmosphere, and enjoying another delicious meal.
Saintes Marie de la Mer - According to tradition in Provençe, the Magdalen fled from Palestina with several disciples after the crucifixion. Crossing the Mediterranean in a frail boat without sail or rudder, the exiles miraculously approached the Provençal shores in the place now called Les Saintes Maries De La Mer and became the first teachers of Yeshua's and Magdalen's path in Provençe.
This is a pilgrimage place also known for the Two or Three Marys (we’ll delve more into these legends on the tour). This is a powerful destination for all gypsies... REAL gypsies who have made Saintes Marie de la Mer their pilgrimage destination since 1449. The fortified church at Saintes Marie de la Mer is a tribute to Sarah, Magdalen's Egyptian daughter or handmaiden.
Saintes Marie de la Mer is also a fishing village filled with numerous shops and cafes. We will truly enjoy ourselves taking in this lively Mediterranean town.
Mary Magdalene, in St Baume, is first a geologic curiosity; a rocky bar over twelve miles long that emerged from the seabed and is surrounded by sacred forest. The natural Grotto dug by erosion became one of the most ancient pilgrimage places in the Christian world. The legend says that the Magdalen lived in the Grotto for thirty years.
Kings, popes, saints, and ordinary people have all walked the “King’s Path” to visit the cave and we will follow in their footsteps.
Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume’s Grotto is a basilica dedicated to Mary Magdalene. In the crypt there is a glass dome said to contain the relic of her skull.
The Grotto is a 45 minute, well cared for, hike up to the cliff side where the Grotto is housed inside a cave. Like at Montségur, we will take the hike slowly giving us time to be amongst the prevalent elemental energies contained in the surrounding ancient forest groves.
Beautiful Avignon was home of the Popes from 1309 to 1376. The history of why the Popes were not in residence in Rome is part of Europe’s complex history and part of our tour. We will visit the stunning Saint-Jean Chapel in the Palace of the Popes.
We will also stroll in the bohemian quarter featuring the La rue des Teinturiers à Avignon, nicknamed the street of the waterwheels. A picturesque cobblestone street, it follows the small channel of the Sorgue River. We will also visit the pedestrian and shopping zone featuring a covered market adorned with a hanging garden. There will be plenty of stalls offering all sorts of foods and treats!
From Avignon we drive to Narbonne which was the first Roman colony outside of Italy, established in Gaul in 118 BC. We’ll visit the Basilica of St. Paul Serge where the main attraction is the crypt built over an early Christian necropolis, dating back to the fourth century.
Narbonne is France's secret Riviera and the perfect place for us to spend our last evening in the south of France. The view over the canal, probably the city’s loveliest sight for eyes and belly, is a 1901 wrought-iron and glass market, Les Halles - we’ll have dinner here!
Departure - August 1st
An early departure time gets us back to Toulouse to catch the high speed TGV train back to Paris. We catch a noon-ish train (the TGV schedule is not yet posted), eat lunch on the train, and arrive at Gare Montparnasse Train station at approximately 5:00. Some of you may be staying with me for an additional 2 days in Paris. The first day will feature a day trip to the stunning esoteric Chartres Cathedral. On the second day we will tour the sacred sites of Paris as seen through the lens of the Egyptian Goddess Isis.
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For information on the Paris + Chartres Tour click here