After spending a night in a noisy gite (got a bunch of non-pilgrim youth who partied way too late), we got up and rented a car to drive over a mountain range twice. There and back. Our goal was to reach the La Porte homeland where in the mid-17th century there were 150 people with the last name of La Porte in a town of 1500. No, I do not know if they all married their cousins.
The whole region reminded me of North Carolina the home of the Bryson’s and lots of funny mountain folk. The neighborhood is a two or three day walk from Nimes and civilization. Much like the Scots-Irish of the Carolina’s and Georgia, these folks were stubborn and fought for their beliefs.
The hill folks were big fans of John Calvin and his belief system whose followers were call Huguenots. In the 1500s there was a long war that resulted in the Huguenots having the freedom to practice their Christianity. In 1685 Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes and was determined to eliminate all French Protestants. After the torture and murder of Pastor La Porte, his nephew and great nephew led a rebellion against the king. We were here to see the area and the museum dedicated to the Huguenot resistors.
I do want to make it clear that I do not know the actual parentage and ancestry of George La Porte. All evidence points to his origins in this valley with so many La Portes there and the timing of his birth and immigration to the US so closely fit the patterns of other Huguenots from this area. The village and the buildings of his birth era have been preserved and provide insight into the thinking of a future Ohio bear hunter.
We also had a fantastic meal waiting for the museum to open after the lunch break ( a civilized two hours). No menu. You ate whatever they brought. A plate covered with carrots, potatoes, chicken, beef, really good tofu, onions, mushrooms, etc. the proprietor explained that all was local and organic as was the vino rouge.
The Museo du Desert, so named for their 40 year persecution by the king, summarizes the martyrs and heroes. The one of primary interest is this Pierre La Porte with his nom de Guerre of Rolland. He and 2000 Camisards preoccupied 25,000 of the king’s troops for two years. 5000 hugenots died on the king’s galleys. There were a couple of La Portes and a Brison on the wall of galley slaves.
The church where the rebellion started and pictures of the area.
The Huguenots had to practice in secret. The pulpits were designed to collapse into a wine barrel and the pastors needed to be able to fit into little holes under the floors.
Hard to believe there were La Porte pastors. Here is proof on the wall of pastor martyrs. Notice the wheel in front of me.
We will spend the day in Le Puy tomorrow. Need to do to some shopping and touring. There is a church built on a rock with 300 or so steps. Peggy will love it.