Henry II Plantagenet and his Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine with their court of troubadours and poets often visited Domfront in the 12th century. It was here in August 1170 that the papal legates attempted to achieve a reconciliation between Henry II and his estranged Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. Domfront passed from English to French hands and it was often under siege during the Hundred Years’ War. In 1356 the town surrendered to the English who ruled for 10 years and only left once a ransom had been paid. The town once again passed to the English in 1418 who relinquished it for good in 1450, only three years before the English rule in Aquitaine ended with the Battle of Castillon. The town’s most important siege took place in 1574. Gabriel, Comte de Montgomery (1530-1574), a former captain in the Scottish guard, who had mortally wounded the French King Henri II in a tournament, defended Domfront against the royal or Catholic forces under Comte de Matignon. Montgomery surrendered to Matignon on the understanding that his life would be saved but was executed on the orders of Henri’s widow, Catherine de’ Medici. The remains of the fortress now enclose a public park. Place de la Roirie – In the Middle Ages this used to be the market hall. The town hall was built on the site of the old convent of St-Antoine, which was destroyed in 1847. Rue Clément Bigot – Previously rue Tripière (where they made tripe), one can see on the right a square tower that contains a staircase. Place du Panorama – The view of the bocage (countryside) is excellent. Before the June 14, 1944 bombing this area was entirely built up. Place St-Julien – The first St-Julien church stood on this square; it was destroyed in 1744. The square was then a fruit, vegetable and flower market. Don’t miss the nice timber-framed house known as the Bistrot St-Julien. Au Bar Normand at number 29 rue St-Julien dates from the 16th century. Rue du Dr. Barrabé – This was the main street in the Middle Ages. Today it bears the name of a mayor of Domfront between 1888 and 1910 who brought water mains and the telephone to the town. At number 38 one can see a half-timbered house with its upper floor projecting outward dating from the 16th century. Cour Marie du Rocher – In the Middle Ages this courtyard was dubbed “Courtyard of Miracles” and in later centuries two town houses were built on this site. The Hôtel Marie du Rocher, built in the 17th century, is on the left; the staircase tower was part of the Hôtel Roullin-Martinière. La Vicomte – Residence of the viscount in the 17th century. Notice the globes on each chimneystack. They possibly mean that the owner was a nobleman. L’échauguette is a watchtower on the first floor of what used to be the château de Godras. Near Place du Champ Foire is the Lycée Auguste Chevallier. This is the oldest building used as a teaching establishment in Lower Normandy. It was built in 1689, and the chapel beside it dates from 1730 and is now a theatre. It was given its current façade in 1904. Pavillion de Boudé – This is the only building remaining of the château de Godras, the residence of the governors of Domfront from the 16th to the 18th century. Église St-Julien was built in 1924 and one of the first to be built using reinforced concrete. Only a few years after its completion it began to deteriorate due to cheap building materials and poor excavation of the site. The church has had many problems ever since including falling concrete and tiles. Even the steeple is covered in green netting to prevent further danger to people below. It will take several years of restoration work for it to be open to the public again. The cost of renovations exceeds the budget for Domfront and its residents and so they urgently need funds from private donations. It was shut down in 2006 and its interior was filled with scaffolding to prevent it from falling down. The interior was built without any pillars and its decoration was inspired by Byzantine style. Some of the images shown here are from a booklet about the church. All proceeds go toward restoration. Porte de la Poterne – In this street one can admire the postern gate that allowed access to the medieval town. There used to be five gates: Alençon, Normandie, Castle, Brière and the Postern (the smallest). Porte d’Alençon – The last of the two towers that remains today is the entrance to the medieval town. Along the rue des Fosses-Plissons one can still admire six remaining towers from the 12th and 13th century ramparts. La tour Coroller La tour Lafaye La tour Guérin Leriverain Église Notre-Dame-sur-l’Eau – This charming Romanesque Church of Our Lady of the water (late 11th century) was badly mutilated last century when five of the seven nave bays were destroyed to make way for a road. Following damage in 1944 the church was restored. The bridge over the Varenne or the side of the road climbing up to the town center, provide the best overall views of the church with its squat belfry pierced by twin openings and its chevet with radiating chapels. According to legend, at Christmas in 1166 Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, celebrated Mass in this church while in exile in France. In the middle of the chancel with its lovely arcades is the altar composed of a granite slab supported by three squat pillars. To the right of the chancel is a 14th century statue of the Virgin and Child. Several 12th century frescoes have been uncovered in the south transept representing Doctors of the Church. The recumbent statue of Pierre Ledin de la Châlerie dates from the 17th century. This tombstone is from the grave of J. Ledéboté who died in 1606. The other tombstone is that of Marquise Ledin who died at age 23 in 1613.