Now we've started rolling north from the French coast, and on the way we've visited the town of Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume and what is considered to be the tomb of Mary Magdalene. There are many interesting things to see in this area, and we have now set our sights on a very exciting destination.
From Le Lavandou and northwards
Then it was time for us to leave the coast of France and roll north with the motorhome! After the visit to the beautiful island Porquerolles we rolled to Brignoles, where we spent the night. The supermarket Casino's car park was indicated as a parking place, free and without service. A little unexpected perhaps, but here we spent the night together with another motorhome and a lorry.
Our first stop the next day was the lovely little town of Saint-Maximin-le-Sainte-Baume. This small town, dominated by the mighty basilica, is home to around 15,000 people and feels like a genuine part of France. We parked outside a grocery store and slowly walked up to the church, while accidentally shopping for a dress, a top and a pair of shorts ...
Basilica of St Mary Magdalene
The Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine is a Gothic-style church dedicated to Mary Magdalene. Construction of the church began in 1295 and continued in various stages until 1532. At that time, construction was completed, even though it was not quite finished. The basilica is powerful when seen from a distance, and very tall and grand inside.
Crypt and tomb of Mary Magdalene
After Jesus was crucified, according to legend, Mary Magdalene escaped by boat and landed in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. She settled in a cave outside Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, and later died in the arms of Saint Maximine, the Bishop of Aix-en-Provence.
According to the same legend, Mary's relics were kept in a sarcophagus until 710, when they were buried to protect them from the Muslims. They then disappeared until 1279, when they were said to have been miraculously found. And now, of course, they wanted to build a mighty basilica to house the newly found relics!
In the crypt under the basilica are four sarcophagi from the 3rd century, which are believed to contain, among other things, the relics of Mary Magdalene. However, several cities and churches seem to have competed with each other to have the real relics, and it is of course always difficult to know what is true and what is not in such old stories. If you want to delve deeper into the subject, you can read, among other things The history blog in Svenska Dagbladet. At least it's a bit titillating!
Towards new adventures!
There is a lot to see in this part of France, and we planned to visit Aix-en-Provence, which is supposed to be a charming city. We actually circled around the town, but couldn't find anywhere to stay with the campervan... That's for another year, when we have time to stay at a campsite in town!
Even the amphitheatre in Nîmes and the aqueduct outside Avignon will have to be saved for another year. We had our sights set on an even more interesting destination, which seems to be absolutely fantastic. We will tell you more soon!