For yesterday’s afternoon drive, we explored the valley of the Rebenty river as far as Joucou, a picturesque little village clustered along the river’s banks, and around the remains of the Abbaye de Joucou, dating from 785. Gorgeous.
The road to Joucou winds up alongside the Rebenty river, through thick forest, towards the Plateau de Sault. Forestry is the main economic activity here apart from the ski industry, and some logging trucks use the narrow roads as access. Luckily we didn’t meet any on any of the bind corners… I’m told a local bylaw was passed some time ago, requiring all new housing in the Pays de Sault to be built of wood. You can see the result of that law evident in the construction of chalet-style houses more recently.
The Rebenty is a delightful, meandering creek, never very large or swift and looks lovely for paddling and mucking about in.
The village has a lavoir, like many others, but this one is beautifully and quirkily decorated by the local children. The whole village is extremely well cared for, with several public spaces, all beautifully planted with roses, irises and other, wilder flowers.
Not much remains of the abbey, but what is left has been lovingly cared for and partially restored by the ‘Friends of the Rebenty’. The panel notes that the abbey may have been destroyed during the religious wars, or it may have been destroyed at the time a large landslide buried half the village. You can certainly see evidence of the landslide elsewhere in the village – a whole swathe of the central area comprises houses built in the early 1900s, and the main street is noticeably wider than most village streets in the region.
Much of the old town remains though and the two seem to be well integrated. There’s even a more modern chalet-style house up the back, which does not look out of place, along with a few house trucks. The fact that the town is so beautifully maintained bodes well, I think. There is also evidence of life, with children’s bicycles parked outside one door, two young guys clearing out a large dilapidated building above the village, and a field of caravans on the outskirts. The one older French lady we spoke to was walking her dog, and happy to chat.
We stopped to give Nick his afternoon milk in a wee picnic/play area beside the church, and snacked on cherries from the tree in the abbey grounds. Nobody else seemed to have picked any of the ripe cherries and it seemed a shame to waste them when they were bursting off the tree.
The church is pretty and even the cemetery is lovingly cared for, though headstones do not appear to go back further than the early 1900s. Perhaps the cemetery was also wiped out in the landslide?
As always, you can guess what we did – we cased the joint for houses… 😉 Sadly, none were obviously for sale, though I personally wish this one was on the market. It would be tempting (at the right price) to snap it up!