France 2018 August 3

"Climb Ev'ry Mountain"

We woke up refreshed from a good sleep in the lovely room in our B&B outside of  Avalon. I looked forward to the Continental breakfast they advertised and was not disappointed. They had everything I like – yogurt, granola, croissants, fruits. I really depend on a good breakfast to start me out each day, so I saw this as a good beginning to what I knew would be another long day.

After the previous day’s experience of attempting too much, though I had no regrets I didn’t want to do anything but visit the famous Abbey du Fontenay, a couple hours to the south of and east of Avallon. We would then head west and north to Sens, where we would spend the night before taking an early train to Paris.

While I was packing our car, Dori conferred with the host of our B&B. He noted that our route would take us through the village of Montreal – pronounced without the “t” – he told her that we must stop there and visit the church, which again, stood atop a hill with a commanding view of the environs. He spoke with such glowing enthusiasm that Dori was convinced.

I winced inwardly when she told me about this extra stop along the way, but I could tell that she really wanted to follow our host’s advice and add the church at Montreal to our itinerary. I just had to pray that God would again supply the necessary energy to me.

When we arrived at Montreal, we found a parking place at the bottom of the hill. The lady at the visitors’ center was most helpful, assuring us that the ascent would be easy and the view worth the walk.

She was right, as was our host in Avallon. Montreal is a charming medieval village. (See the description and pictures at You pass through three gates before arriving at the church and the cemetery at the top. Along the way, you go by stone row houses, most with flower boxes in the windows and many with historical markers.

Once again, the view from the summit offered a panoramic sight of fields, villages, and other churches. We took some time to walk through the cemetery, with graves dating back to the Middle Ages and coming up to the near present. This time we also entered the church building, where village believers and visitors attend regular worship services. As I knelt down to pray, I thanked God for the countless sincere Christian who had offered up their praises and prayers to God over the past one thousand years or so.

True, I could not fully endorse either the Roman Catholic religion or the union of church and state that nurtured an unhealthy symbiotic relationship until the French Revolution. Despite that disagreement, I could not help respecting the faithfulness to God that this ancient building, still in use, represented. I know that we Protestants stand on the shoulders of our spiritual forebears, without whom the Bible and the essential beliefs of Christianity would not have been handed down to us.

Thoroughly enjoying every aspect of this delightful village, Dori stopped often to take pictures, while I tried to be patient and grew increasingly anxious about the remainder of the day. When we finally drove away from Montreal, however, I was glad that she had listened to our host. Smaller than Vezelay, Montreal had been much easier for us to access and enjoy.

Next stop: The Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay