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Tuesday 29 july 2014 2 29 /07 /Jul /2014 10:28

149 Château de Fontaine-Henry186 Château de Fontaine-Henry

After visiting the Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer, I drove to the town of Fontaine-Henry near Caen to take a tour of its most famous residence, the Château de Fontaine-Henry. The name of the town means "fountain of Henry" the old spelling of the name Henri, a possible reference to Henry de Tilly.

178 Château de Fontaine-Henry

The town was also known for it fountains and preponderance of wells, one of which can be seen just in front of the main doorway.  Château de Fontaine-Henry has belonged to the same family for nearly ten centuries without ever having been sold. Nevertheless, several names have succeeded in ownership because it has repeatedly been handed down by women. The families Tilly, d’Harcourt, de Morais, Boutier de Château d'Assy, de Montécler, de Marguerie, de Carbonnel, de Cornulier and d’Oilliamson have all come into ownership through inheritance. 157 Château de Fontaine-HenryThere was a fortress at this location at the beginning of the 11th century and the Tilly family replaced the old fortress between 1200 and 1220 with a new castle. All that survives from this period are the chapel and vaulted rooms that once formed the ground floor of the residential building. These two elements give a measure of the magnitude and importance of this château in the middle ages. In 1374 Jeanne de Tilly married Philippe d'Harcourt and brought him a dowry of a lordship or 'seigneurie'. 155 Château de Fontaine-HenryIt was the Harcourt family who began to rebuild the château after the Hundred Years War. The works were spread out over nearly a century, from the late 15th century to the 1560s. The château is still lived in by the descendents of its early owners, the comte and comtesse de Olliamson. The château has a very original kind of architectural harmony, making it a Renaissance masterpiece, following the examples of the Hôtel d'Escoville and the Hôtel de Than in Caen. On its west façade one can see the different styles of architecture used during its evolution--the west side being the most curious where there are a series of three levels of columns. 215 Château de Fontaine-HenryThis was done to create perspective and the illusion of height. 204 Château de Fontaine-HenryAbove one of the windows is an inscription dated precisely to 1537, the date of completion for this portion of the château. 177 Adam et Eve, Château de Fontaine-Henry177b Moses, Château de Fontaine-Henry177a Noah, Château de Fontaine-HenryThere are several Biblical features on this façade as well, the images of Adam and Eve, Moses and Noah. 203 Château de Fontaine-HenryAbove another window is the image of Charles VIII. I was most impressed by the quantity and quality of the stonework with its filigree patterns and decorative medallions.

179 Château de Fontaine-Henry180 Château de Fontaine-Henry

The details are amazing if you take the opportunity to study them—especially around the lower windows which have images of cherubs, birds and plant motifs. 182 Château de Fontaine-Henry181 Château de Fontaine-Henry184 Château de Fontaine-HenryThe château is more than 15 meters high and the roofs that cover the building are considered to be the highest in France. 214 Château de Fontaine-Henry208 Château de Fontaine-Henry209 Château de Fontaine-Henry210 Château de Fontaine-Henry211 Château de Fontaine-HenryWe weren’t allowed to take any photos inside except for in the main reception hall which used to be the kitchen. Here there are three large fireplaces. Above them are the coats of arms of the different families who have owned the house over the centuries. The chapel was founded in the 13th century and transformed in the 16th century. 151 Château de Fontaine-Henry158 Château de Fontaine-HenryThere is an image of a stag just above the main doorway which I think represents the fondness of hunting by one of the former owners who is it said killed 1000 stags in his lifetime. Good for him ? 163 Château de Fontaine-Henry161 Château de Fontaine-Henry160 Château de Fontaine-HenryGothic arches are featured along the sides and decorative capitals above the columns. It is open to the public and has an exhibition of religious art inside. 171 Château de Fontaine-Henry172 Château de Fontaine-HenryAt the back of the château is the entrance to the oldest part of the castle, the vaulted storage rooms. They are dark and damp. There is a good view of the back of the château from here as well.

173 Château de Fontaine-Henry

154 Château de Fontaine-Henry

By The Baguette - Community: Castle church fortification
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Monday 28 july 2014 1 28 /07 /Jul /2014 10:18

123 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer134 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer124 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer

106 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer - Copy

088 Juno BeachHad some more beautiful weather last week so I drove out to Courseulles-sur-Mer to visit the museum at Juno Beach. 136 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-MerIf you don't know what that is, it's the beach where the Canadians landed during D-Day. 127 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-MerIt's hard to believe that 70 years ago over 14,000 men landed here and over 460 lost their lives fighting to liberate France.  089a Juno BeachRight on the beach is the museum which pays honor to all the Canadians who participated in the war effort.  Maybe its because I'm American but I wasn't wasn't that interested in going inside the museum like I was when it came to visiting the Utah Beach or Omaha Beach museums.  Still, I was glad that I got to make it here.  094 Juno Beach093 Juno Beach115 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-MerThe building itself, designed by Canadian architect Brian K. Chamberlain, is a single-storey structure with five main points, resembling a stylized maple leaf.  The exterior is clad in titanium scales and stands about 100 meters back from the present line of sand dunes. 102 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer104 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer101 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-MerA ceremonial area, which features a statue entitled Remembrance and Renewal, stands between the Centre and the dunes. 092 Juno Beach090 Juno Beach091 Juno BeachA gap in the dunes is filled by a symbolic structure shaped as a landing craft. An intact German bunker, once an observation post, stands immediately in front of this memorial.  125 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer126 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer128 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-MerRemnants of the Atlantic Wall remain strewn along the coast, including this half-sunk German gun emplacement. Naturally, such fortifications were deadly obstacles for those wading ashore. 135 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-MerThere were even some tetraheaders, pyramid shaped obstacles erected along the shore by the Germans who wanted to destroy any landing ships that happened to invade during high tide.  To the left of the museum are several monoliths whith plaques on them.  110 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer113 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-MerThis is known as the Commemorative Bricks area where doners and veterans can purchase an engraved plaque to be added to the monoliths.  Veteran Bricks include the person’s rank, name, decorations, unit, dates of service, as well as a comment regarding the veteran’s service, such as “Italian Campaign”, Battle of the Atlantic”, or “D-Day Veteran”.   Also, to the right of the museum is another memorial to those who fell on D-Day--several hundred posts hammered neatly in the sand with name plaques attached. 119 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-MerI guess if you can't make it to the cemetery this memorial is a welcome alternative. Nearby, I discovered a pile of stones called an Inuksuk--a symbol of survival among Canada's Inuit peoples. It stands as a guide denoting that humans have passed through that place. This particular Inuksuk was erected in 2005 in remembrance of the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit who served Canada in the Second World War.

117 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer

108 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer

By The Baguette - Community: travel tips and what not
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Friday 25 july 2014 5 25 /07 /Jul /2014 17:02

024 Amblie (Les Planches)

I went on another wonderful hike last weekend around Amblie in the Calvados Department. The walk has the special name of “randonnée sur les pas des carriers et des meuniers” (which means walking in the footsteps of the quarry-workers and millers) and is tied with the rich history of this area’s occupants. 002 Pierrepont (Lantheuil)The hike begins from the picnic area in Pierrepont, a small community that belongs to the larger Lantheuil and follows the small river called La Thue. 006 Pierrepont (Lantheuil)007 Pierrepont (Lantheuil)The waterway opens up a bit to create two large ponds shaded by towering willow trees, probably created in the 18th century by the owners of the nearby château. The Château de Pierrepont, built in the 18th century, was the home of the family of Michel Guillaume Jean de Crèvecœur, famous for his “Letters from an American Farmer” (1792). 010 Château de Pierrepont, Pierrepont (Lantheuil)011 Château de Pierrepont, Pierrepont (Lantheuil)The book was also the first literary success by an American author in Europe and turned Crèvecœur into a celebrated figure. The architecture of the château is typical of the Enlightenment with respect to its symmetry and rectangular pediment as well as the main portal area which is has three openings, as was customary in the 18th century. The farm, the grange and the pressoir portions of the property can be rented out as holiday homes. 013 Église de la Sainte-Trinité de Pierrepont (Lantheuil)014 Église de la Sainte-Trinité de Pierrepont (Lantheuil)Not far away is the Église de la Sainte-Trinité de Pierrepont which dates from the 11th century. 015 Église de la Sainte-Trinité de Pierrepont (Lantheuil)The south wall still bears eight typical Romanesque corbels, affixed to a checkerboard frieze. 016 Église de la Sainte-Trinité de Pierrepont (Lantheuil)The lintel of one of the bay windows is decorated with animals that seem to be biting their tails. 022 Église de la Sainte-Trinité de Pierrepont (Lantheuil)The west portal serves as the main entrance to the nave and is also Romanesque in style. The bell gable is from the 17th century and separates the nave from the choir. A single bell cast in 1868 replaces the two original bells. 019 Église de la Sainte-Trinité de Pierrepont (Lantheuil)A sundial is set on a flat buttress on the southern side of the church, receives maximum sun throughout the day. 021 Église de la Sainte-Trinité de Pierrepont (Lantheuil)In the churchyard stands a Pieta cast created by J. Sanson in 1869. After leaving the church, I realized that I was going the wrong way and following the trail in a backwards manner. I quickly turned around and went back to my starting point where I found my way again. The trail took me through several fields, some of which were lined with red poppies. 025 Amblie (Les Planches)It was a bit of a treat to be able to taste a little of the local produce as I walked. 027 Amblie (Les Planches)In one field I tried some fava beans, also known as fèves—they were almost ripe and ready to be harvested. 030 Amblie (Les Planches)031 Amblie (Les Planches)There were many wheat and grain fields as well. I took some grains and rubbed away the chaff just so I could taste the seeds. 028 Amblie (Les Planches)029 Amblie (Les Planches)I’ve no idea what this grain is supposed to be—it was perfectly cut and set out in straight rows to dry. 033 Amblie (Les Planches)Many parts of the trail were lined with cherry trees with the sweetest, ripest fruit you can imagine. I just reached up and grabbed a handful to snack on while I walked. It’s a shame I can’t get these in the grocery store—the ones in Leclerc have no taste at all. 035 Amblie (Les Planches)037 Amblie (Les Planches)038 Amblie (Les Planches)039 Amblie (Les Planches)In Amblie Les Planches I was supposed to see the château but it was on private property and behind a stone wall so all I could see was the main gate, the side buildings and the facade behind a large tree.  040 Colombiers-sur-Seulles041 Colombiers-sur-SeullesEventually, I arrived in Colombiers-sur-Seulles where I crossed the River Thue once again in order to visit the Église Saint-Vigor. Unfortunately, it was closed. 051 L'église Saint-Vigor, Colombiers-sur-SeullesIt is dedicated to Saint-Vigor, and evangelist and Bishop of Bayeux during the 6th century. The construction of the church dates back to the late 11th century but has been heavily restored during the 19th. The bell tower however dates from the middle of the 12th century and rests aside from the northern wall near the choir. It is one of the finest examples of Romanesqeue architecture in Calvados. 047 L'église Saint-Vigor, Colombiers-sur-SeullesThe bas-relief above the main door depicts the story of Saint-Vigor and how he imprisoned the dragon who was terrorizing the people of Cerisy. He tied his stole around the neck of the dragon and brought him to submission. The victory of Catholicism over paganism ? Strangely enough, he didn’t kill the dragon. He instead instructs his young companion, Theudimier to lead the dragon away to the sea. 048 L'église Saint-Vigor, Colombiers-sur-Seulles049 L'église Saint-Vigor, Colombiers-sur-Seulles049a L'église Saint-Vigor, Colombiers-sur-SeullesCorbels on either side of the church are faces of animals or human grotesques.

049b L'église Saint-Vigor, Colombiers-sur-Seulles050 L'église Saint-Vigor, Colombiers-sur-Seulles

There is even one making an obscene gesture by bending over and showing his anus ! What's that all about !  043 Colombiers-sur-SeullesNear the church is a lavoir, a public place for doing washing, which was built in 1864.  054 Four à pain, Colombiers-sur-SeullesAn 18th century baker's oven was found during renovation work in 1996.  It was restored thanks to the town council.  It must have been in operation during the time of the seigneurs (lords) of Colombiers.  In feudal times, the baker's oven was one of the installations owned by the seigneur, which inhabitants of the lord's domain could use in return for a due.  055 La ferme de la dîme, Colombiers-sur-SeullesThe tithe farm known as the ferme de la dîme, was a dependency of the domain of Colombiers-sur-Seulles.  The farm and its buildings span the 17th and 18th centuries but were heavily modified during the 19th and 20th.  It is along the rue du Bout du Bas which could be renamed to Thread Street in memory of the numerous lace-makers who used to live there.  Lace-making had been a common source of additional income since the Middle Ages.  059 Château d'Amblie060 Château d'AmblieThe château de la famille Archard de Bonvouloir is the most impressive of the fine homes one sees along the hike.  062 Château d'Amblie -- église

It was built in the late 17th century and is surrounded by a large park and even has its own chapel.  The building features a central pavillion topped by a triangular pediment flanked by another building on the right.   It belongs to the descendants of one of the companions of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. During World War II the house served as a camp to the thousands of victims and wounded from the bombed out city of Caen.065 Amblie, CalvadosFinally, I reached the town of Amblie proper which is one of those distinguished quaint towns located along the Thue River known for its old mills.

064 Amblie, CalvadosThe mills no longer work today and their wheels are all missing but they are really something to see nonetheless. 067 Amblie, CalvadosMost of them have been transformed into homes. The large houses are built from Caen limestone which is a sort of self-cleaning stone keeping everything looking new and bright. 066 Mairie d'Amblie, CalvadosJust past the town hall (and past several more beautiful stone homes and old farms) are the stairs leading up to the Église Saint-Pierre. 068 Église Saint-Pierre d'Amblie071 Église Saint-Pierre d'AmblieUnfortunately it wasn't open but that's okay, I took the time to just sit down and rest for a while underneath the shade of the cedar tree. The western façade is from the thirteenth century and appears to be the oldest part of the chruch remaining. 072 Église Saint-Pierre d'Amblie

In the 19th century a bell tower replaced a 16th century pinnacle which established an arch separating the choir from the nave. 075 Amblie, Calvados076 Amblie, Calvados078 Lavoir au bord de la Thue, Lavoir au bord de la Thue080 Moulin au bord de la Thue, AmblieIt was one of the nicest walks I've been on in a long time. The last part of the walk takes you past some trees ripe with plums. Once again, I couldn't help but reach up and help myslef !

084 Amblie, Calvados086 Amblie, Calvados

By The Baguette - Community: travel tips and what not
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Friday 25 july 2014 5 25 /07 /Jul /2014 05:29

P1150781 Pegasus Bridge, Bénouville

Something different ... Last summer, just before the 69th anniversary of the D-Day landings, I took a trip to Bénouville along the Caen Canal just so I could visit Pegasus Bridge. P1150779 Pegasus Bridge, BénouvilleThe bridge, which crosses the canal, was built in 1934 but was replaced in 1994. If you've ever seen the film The Longest Day, you'll remember the taking of this bridge was part of a major objective of Operation Deadstick where a glider-borne unit of the British 6th Airborne Division, commanded by Major John Howard, was to land, take the bridge intact and "hold until relieved." P1150791 Pegasus Bridge, BénouvilleThe successful taking of the bridge played an important role in limiting the effectiveness of a German counter-attack in the days and weeks following the invasion. The original Pegasus Bridge now resides in the grounds of the Pegasus Museum. After its replacement, Pegasus Bridge was left on waste ground until it was sold to the museum for the symbolic price of one Franc. P1150777 Café Gondrée, BénouvilleAcross the street is the famous Café Gondrée, the first French house to be liberated during D-Day. P1150788 Pegasus Bridge, BénouvilleP1150786 Pegasus Bridge, BénouvilleOn the other side of the bridge is the memorial to Major John Howard.

P1150799 Pegasus Bridge, Bénouville

By The Baguette - Community: travel tips and what not
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