• The Baguette
  • De captivants à banals, les articles et photographies de “The Baguette” sont une tentative de publier un journal de ma vie dans la Manche et de proposer un forum de discussion pour tout ce qui touche à la Normandie.
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Wednesday 22 february 2012 3 22 /02 /Feb /2012 15:29 went to the town of Pontivy over the weekend with some friends of mine.  We had such a wonderful time visiting the town as well as the Breton countryside.  Pontivy is the old capital of the Rohan family and gets its name from a 7th century monk named St-Ivy who built a bridge (pont) over the River Blavet.  Walking around the old town, one of the first places we visited was the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Joie located in the medieval town center.  The original church, dedicated to St-Ivy was totally rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries.  West of the building is the big square church tower, dated by an inscription between the two doors “1533”, and whose spire was rebuilt in the 19th century.  Before the 19th century restorations, the building, in the form of a Latin cross, was composed of a four-bay nave with side aisles, a transept and a chancel with a flat chevet.  Only the square of the transept was vaulted with diagonal ribs.  In 1866, the whole church was vaulted and the chancel was flanked by side aisles to extend the existing ones. church was consecrated to Our Lady of Joy in 1696 in acknowledgement of the intervention of the Virgin Mary to stop a plague epidemic.  The votive statue is made out of one single piece of oak wood leafed in gold.  Pope Jean XXIII consecrated the church into a basilica in 1959. crafted altarpiece of the high altar was erected in 1782 around the notion of “family”: divine, with the Holy Trinity (in the center the Child Jesus, surmounted by a dove, standing for the Holy Spirit, is pointing to God the Father above), holy human family with Mary and Joseph surrounding Him, and His grandparents, Anne and Joachim, testifying to His roots in the Old Testament; and in the upper register, the Christian family with St-Peter and St-Paul, who founded the Church, St-Ivy in the center, representing the local Church surrounded with the donors, the duke and duchess of Rohan in medallion. 1790, towns in Brittany and Anjou united in their struggle against the enemies of the Revolution.  They became known as the “federates” and it was on this altar that they signed their act of union. are a great number of statues placed throughout the church which come from the Récollets convent that was burned in 1795. the aisles are two plaster gisants.  One has been smashed to pieces while the other is in pretty good condition and rests in a niche of the wall.  I am assuming it is a likeness of the duchess of Rohan. organ dates from 1836 and was created by famous organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. stained glass windows are the work of E. Laumonnier, from Vannes and date back to the 19th century.  This was my favorite window. stained glass tells the story of Christ’s Passion, Resurrection and Ascension and is meant to be read from bottom to top and from left to right.  The nine small windows at the top of the arch depict symbols of Christ’s Passion known as the “Arma Christi”. the square beside the church are a reflecting pool and a monument  to the Breton-Angevin Federation  Mounted on a pedestal decorated with bas-reliefs and inscriptions, this monumental column commemorates the decision taken in January and February 1790 by towns in Brittany and Anjou to unite in their struggle against the enemies of the Revolution.  The monument was erected between 1890 and 1892, based on plans drawn up by the architects Edouard and Jules Deperthes.  The shaft of the column was originally decorated with a bronze figure depicting the spirit of liberty.  This feature was destroyed in 1938 when the monument was attacked by members of the “Gwenn ha Du”, the Breton independence movement. down the road is the most popular destination in Pontivy, the Château des Rohan built by Jean II de Rohan during the 15th and 16th centuries.  The façade is flanked by two large machicolated towers with pepper-pot roofs, all that remains of the four towers of the perimeter wall. walls are 20 meters high and surrounded completely by a moat which never held water. one continues to walk around the castle, notice the tall stone gabled windows decorated with gargoyles, outdoor fountain and lavoir, exterior of the ducal chapel and finally the entrance which used to have a drawbridge. the door is the family crest.  Sadly, the castle was not open when I was there so I could not visit the interior.  The castle is classified as a historical monument and still belongs to the Duke of Rohan who allows the town of Pontivy to use the structure as a tourist attraction.  Other places of interest in town are the old half-timbered and corbelled houses of the 16th and 17th centuries. in particular is named la maison des Trois Piliers (the house with three pillars) located at place du Martrat.  It is the only porched house remaining in Morbihan and bears the hallmark of the second half of the 16th century.  Numerous in Brittany at that time, the porched houses sheltered a boutique on the ground floor and the porch enabled trade to be carried on undercover, whatever the weather. disappearance is mainly due to the demand for modernization and a reduced fire risk, which characterized the urbanization of the 18th century: the numerous plans drawn up at the time for realignment and widening of roads carried the fatal blow to such architecture. across the street from place du Martrat is the Hôtel de Roscoët, a house with a corbelled turret.  The home is also characterized by its pavilion roof with dormer windows.  On the façade, a cartouche with the inscription reads : "Subtilus Iani Roscoet et Jaq Bourdin Colig et Amico 1578" (At the expense of Jean Roscoët and Jacques Bourdain his colleague and friend 1578). interesting stone and half-timbered buildings can be found along the rue du Fil. along the banks of the River Blavet one can see the old hospital.  There has been a hospital in Pontivy since the middle of the 12th century.  According to tradition, it was founded by the Viscount of Rohan, but its exact location is unknown.  The oldest written reference dates from the middle of the 16th century.  Gradually enlarged and restored over the course of time, the current buildings still have two external vestiges from the start of the 18th century: the Carhaix Gate, originally independent from the hospital buildings, and the chapel, credited to the architect Ollivier Delourme. unique feature along the river is the remains of the Nantes to Brest Canal.  In 1806, Napoleon I decided to have a canal built between the two ports for strategic reasons.  The sea being under English control, the canal would make the Breton naval dockyards and the center of Brittany less isolated.  They started digging the canal in 1811 and it was completed in 1842.  It boosted the local economy with the transportation of imported goods such as spices, wine, fertilizer, lime and sand from the Loire and also exporting wood, cereals, potatoes, etc.  However in 1923, the building of a dam at Guerlédan was a severe blow to the canal trade and in the 1970s this activity came to a halt. has now been replaced by leisure boating.  The Hilvern channel (rigole d’Hilvern), 63 km long was completed in 1836 and still joins the canal between Pontivy and Rohan.  It used to supply the canal with water.  The 71 km long canal runs through three smaller districts of the Pays de Rohan.  There are more than 100 locks, twelve of which are submerged under the water of the Guerlédan dam.’t forget to stop by the unique Chapel of St-Ivy located between the river and place Anne-de-Bretagne.  Tradition claims that it is here that the Breton monk Ivy, founder of the town, had his first oratory built at the end of the 7th century.  Dating from 1770, the current chapel replaced a 17th century oratory which had fallen into ruins.  Inside the original feature of this chapel is the split-level gallery, which allowed a privileged few to attend services without mixing with the crowd.  It was completely restored between 1984 and 1989. Saturday and Sunday morning, my friends and I warmed ourselves up after strolling the town by drinking tea, eating cake and tasting the traditional Breton pastry called Kouign-amann at the Patisserie Cartron on 16 Rue Nationale. Kouign-amann was delicious but it was made of butter and caramelized sugar—much too heavy for my taste. Saturday night we treated ourselves to a delicious meal of traditional Breton galette and crêpe from a popular crêperie called La Petite Bretonne at number 20 rue du Fil. all had something different as you can see.  Our host was very kind and spoke English and French.  At one time he burst into song and regaled us with stories from the days he used to be a captain aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean.  I recommend anyone visiting Pontivy to consider eating here as the price was moderate and the atmosphere comfortable and quiet.  Thank you Pierrot for your kindness!  

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Wednesday 15 february 2012 3 15 /02 /Feb /2012 08:00 

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Saturday 28 january 2012 6 28 /01 /Jan /2012 15:53 weeks ago we worked with encre "colored ink" and water to create these winter scenes.  It was somewhat difficult since no one in the class had ever attempted to create such a picture. followed the directions from a book the teacher had and I have to say that for the most part, all of our work turned out pretty good despite the fact we all had to use a little white acrylic to get the effect of trees and snow. weeks ago, once again we used encre and water to imitate a painting of flowers in a vase.  We used two differrent types of paper and this made all the difference ! first sort of paper soaked up color and spread rapidly even when the paper was dry. second type of paper was what a person uses to do watercolors.  It worked a lot better for our purposes however, my first try turned out much better than my successive efforts. week, we once again used watercolors in order to imitate an existing work of an old barn covered by snow. all tried to follow our teacher but as you can see, some students did better than others. get the bright white spots, one has to add an adhesive to the paper.  After you've finished painting and the paper is dry, just rub off the adhesive and the white paper shows through.  I thought it was pretty cool.  My finished product is the one in the center of the bottom row.  That one is mine.    

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Friday 27 january 2012 5 27 /01 /Jan /2012 00:32 are so many wonderful places to visit in our region that do not appear in most guidebooks.  However, with a little bit of research, one can find the most extraordinary of buildings in some of the smallest of towns.  Such is the case with Montfarville.  While reading other blogs about La Manche, I came across several articles about the Montfarville Church of Notre Dame.  If you are coming to Cherbourg to see the sites, this is one excursion outside of town that you simply should not miss. is a charming village of about 800 people in the north-eastern part of the Cotentin. is famous for its beautiful church interior which, in its present form, dates from 1763 – see the inscription engraved above the portal that reads : « 1763 Messire C.Caillet, curé de ce lieu a fait bâtir cette église à ses frais. Priez pour lui » (1763 C. Caillet, the pastor, had this church built at his own expense.  Pray for him). was built on the site of an earlier Gothic building of which only the 13th century Bell Chapel remains.  The building was blessed on February 12, 1764.  After his visit to the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the priest of Montfarville called upon a local artist Guillaume Fouace, born in nearby Réville, to paint the ceiling and arches of the church. commission was carried out between 1879 and 1881.  The church is also known for its exceptional artistic statues of several saints beginning with the 12th century Virgin and Child in painted stone. is greatly revered by the local community as “Our Lady of Consolation.”  Tradition has it that in 1793 the statue was buried not far from the shore at Keiry or Landemer to protect it during the French Revolution.  Once things returned to normal, it was returned to the church and placed in Chapel of the Holy Virgin. statues of note are those of Ste-Anne, also in painted stone from the 16th century and an anonymous female saint of the 15th century in plain white stone.  There are four large, carved wooden statues of St-Paul, St-Charles, St-Maur (St-Maurus) and St­-John the Baptist as a young man. latter is part of an ornate woodcarving used to cover to the baptismal font. high altar is sumptuously carved, painted and gilded in the purest Louis XV style as are the Communion rail and the magnificent Rood Beam “perque” bearing a 17th century crucifix.  Again, the most interesting parts of a visit to this church are the 19 different paintings by Guillaume Fouace.  It took two years for Fouace to paint the canvases depicting the life of Christ and that of His mother, drawing upon Leonardo da Vinci and Murillo for inspiration. visitors consider The Magi to be the finest of the paintings.  I must agree as it caught my eye immediately after I entered the side door. one enters the church from the west door you will admire in succession on the organ side of the church the first of the paintings as well as the stained glass windows created in the early 1920s by master glass maker, Charles Lorin whose father Nicolas Lorin founded the famous glass works of Chartres in 1869. first three paintings by Fouace are The Presentation of Mary in the Temple, The Annunciation, and The Visitation.  Between each painting is a stained glass window. first three are of St-John the Evangelist, Blessed Nicolas Cléret who was vicar of Montfarville for 25 years and was martyred in 1792 for refusing to take the constitutional oath at the start of the French Revolution, and finally, St-Mark the Evangelist. next four paintings are The Nativity (above the organ), The Flight into Egypt, Joseph and Mary Finding Jesus in the Temple, and The Dormition of the Virgin. the southern transept is the organ as well as the stained glass window depicting St-Maur in the year 524 at age 12 with his father entrusting him to the care of St-Benedict who spread the Benedictine order throughout France. next three stained glass windows depict St-Augustine of Hippo and his mother Ste-Monica, Ste-Elizabeth of Hungary, and St-Isidore the Laborer. the high altar dedicated to the Virgin is Fouace’s admirable reproduction of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.  On either side of the altar are statues of St-Peter and St-Paul. next two stained glass windows depict Jesus Welcomed by Mary and Martha in Bethany, and Jesus and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. the northern arches are the paintings of Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem, St-Peter Receiving the Keys to Heaven, and the Second Miraculous Draught of Fishes. the arches are the next three stained glass windows of St-Aloysius of Gonzaga receiving his First Communion at age 12 from St-Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan, the window of Ste-Cecilia patroness of musicians, and the window depicting St-Paul’s Conversion to Christianity on the Road to Damascus. the Chapel to Our Lady of Consolation is the painting of Jesus Healing the Paralysed Man.  Inside this chapel are several statues including the 12th century Virgin and Child, St-Marcouf, Ste-Anne, and the wooden baptismal sculpture of St-John the Baptist. stained glass window here honors Our Lady of the Rosary and features St-Dominic and Ste-Catherine of Siena receiving the Rosary from the Blessed Virgin. next sets of paintings along the aisle are of Jesus Healing the Blind Man from Birth, Jesus and the Samaritan Woman, and finally Christ’s Baptism. last three windows depict St-Mark the Evangelist, St-Jean Eudes preaching in Montfarville in 1668, and finally the Evangelist, St-Matthew. the ceiling of the nave are four larger paintings of The Magi Following the Star, St-Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, The Sermon on the Mount and The Ascension of Our Lord.  All of the paintings are listed in the Inventory of Historical Monuments (IMH).

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