L'Annunciade and St. Agnes
Peter Beers

We started off the day at a monastery called L’Annunciade. It is now run by nuns and they have a pretty good tourist business going. They grow lemons and grapes and press their own wine. When they started pressing wine back in the mid 80s, it was pretty much vinegar. They got some help from some Italian wine professionals and their wine is now very good.

I was told by one of the tour guides that L’Annunciade is the final resting place of the man who invented rugby.

There were two tours of school kids visiting that day. We didn’t get much of a tour of the place, but we walked around and enjoyed the bird’s-eye view of Menton. It was not the only bird’s-eye view of the town that we’d get that day.

We continued the trend of going higher by continuing up the valley to St. Agnes. This is another small town perched on the side of a hill. Even though that description sounds like I’m bored of these little Villes, I’m not. I could visit one per day for the next 10 years and enjoy every moment of it.

We started our tour of St. Agnes with lunch on a hillside café. When I say hillside, I really mean that it is perched on a cliff. If you drop a spoon over the railing, it is going to fall several hundred meters before it hits the ground. It made for great photography and a great place to dine.

The south end of St. Agnes is home to a huge fortress that was built under ground to protect the town and the surrounding area. It was planned in the early 1920s and completed by 1930. It has 5 different levels under ground and has a complete self-contained village. We were fortunate enough to take a tour of the place. During WWII, it could house hundreds of soldiers and trades people that were needed to make it run well. Inside the fort was a dentist, chapel, machine shop, mortician and more. We got to tour their electric generators, sleeping quarters, military planning area and where the big guns were fired.

The place is amazingly preserved and an awesome tour. The tour guide had done a lot of research on the area. He talked about how each of the soldiers was given one hour per day under a sun lamp to keep them healthy since they wouldn’t go above ground for months at a time. He also told us that more people died building the fortress than died in defending it.

I had a few minutes while Laura, Josy and Herb were relaxing, so I ran to the top of the hill where a 2nd century chateau lays in ruins. They’re slowly shoring up the ruins and may even be rebuilding it someday. The run was really challenging, even though it was rather short. The view was AWESOME!!!! They’re cultivating a medieval garden up there to go with the old chateau. It is very pretty.

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