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a little town which must be one of the most beautiful places on earth. Twenty thousand years ago there were people living there in caves hollowed out of the cliffs along the river bank. Twelve hundred years ago Charlemagne — in person — founded an Abbey there. The monks diverted the river and made an island, on which people built little houses with thick white walls and soft red roofs. And that is the whole story. Nothing has changed on the island, nothing has happened since. There are still houses cut into the cliffs. There is water and willow trees, silence and slow time. Visitors come and are swallowed up. Only the bell on the abbey church, one of the oldest bells in France, punctuates the dream.

For photos, see

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