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  • 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.
  • 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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November 12 2011 7 12 /11 /November /2011 10:01

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6106/6336865220_599a408972_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6237/6336124659_09c7f2b2ec_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6104/6336881368_2254fcf56f_b.jpgAvant de passer de ce monde à son père, Jésus disait à ses disciples : « c’est la paix que je vous laisse, c’est ma paix que je vous donne ; ce n’est pas à la manière du monde  que je vous la donne.  Ne soyez donc pas bouleversés et effrayés.  Comme le Père m’a aimé, moi aussi je vous ai aimés.  Demeurez dans mon amour.  Si vous êtes fidèles à mes commandements, vous demeurez dans mon amour.  Mon commandement, le voici : Aimez-vous les uns les autres comme je vous ai aimés.  Il n’y a pas de plus grand amour que de donner sa vie pour ses amis. »  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6108/6336864240_80f60a4f01_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6033/6336110093_7f67dd5230_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6110/6336109719_7f8d8f2e57_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6041/6336864920_5f814f82ed_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6047/6336867046_a7479663a6_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6227/6336110711_8c66d26602_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6091/6336107321_9dc53538ea_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6039/6336862502_c6b136e54c_b.jpg http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6114/6336863760_17144eb06e_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6219/6336106661_754ac30980_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6239/6336107789_46840c8b87_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6119/6336106089_d7d43b60de_b.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Querqueville
November 6 2011 1 06 /11 /November /2011 11:17

111 Les Barbiers116 Les Barbiers117 Les Barbiers112 Les Barbiers113 Les Barbiers115 Les Barbiers

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Published by The Baguette - in Nature
November 5 2011 7 05 /11 /November /2011 11:00

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6048/6312061344_39b5298273_b.jpgLe Manoir du Parc à Saint-Lô-d'Ourville is a souvenir of rural life in the Cotentin during the 15th and 16th centuries.  Its architecture presents a variety of elements which have come to symbolize the power of a lord in a feudal society complete with stately manor house, chapel, dovecote, moats, defensive towers, a mill and cider house all grouped around a large courtyard.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6111/6311540781_a4306c7782_b.jpgIn 1998, owner Valentin Giard bought the manor house and surrounding lands with plans to completely renovate and restore the ruinous state of the buildings.  He served as our guide and showed us this remarkable piece of cultural heritage.   He was well versed in the manor’s history and lineage.  Before the annexation of Normandy by the French king Philippe Auguste in 1204, the fief and fort on this site belonged to the Aubigny family.  The king had the castle and fort demolished and gave the fief to the Argence family who constructed a manor house that was passed down to the succeeding lords of Criqueboeuf, d’Argouges and Clamorgan.  In the 15th century, the manor then passed to the family of La Rivière and, by succession, to that of Thieuville for almost one hundred years until the marriage of Marie de Thieuville and François de Pierrepont.  The Pierrepont family were the lords of the manor until 1711.  After that, it went to Jean Antoine de Thère and finally to Barnabe d’Osmond Medavy.  The last lord was Adolphe de Mauconvenant, a chevalier and marquis of Sainte-Suzanne.  He died in 1829 in Valognes.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6239/6312063352_b173f1c633_b.jpgAfter entering the property through the large welcoming hall, which has an amazing wood beam roof structure, one enters the main courtyard.  To the right are three buildings that served specific purposes during feudal times.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6211/6311541811_b53955a5a1_b.jpgThe old charretterie / wagon house is remarkable for its two walled arcades which rest on pillars topped with square capitals.  Its location, near the monumental gate opening on the court, allowed people living outside of the mansion to deposit their royalties without having to enter the precincts.   http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6218/6312062166_db7e9cd1bf_b.jpgBeside the charreterrie is the old chapel, which dates to around 1450.  It is rectangular in form with its own small bell tower built into the wall.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6219/6311544261_d28f44c068_b.jpgThe remains of a window with fine stone tracery can be seen in one of the walls.  Over time the functions of the chapel were lost (perhaps during the French Revolution) and the building was adapted for agricultural use.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6215/6312062522_9494f8cb74_b.jpgTo the left of the chapel is a newer building that also served as a carriage house and stable.  The manor house stands proudly within the courtyard surrounded by defensive towers that overlook the moat allowing for a stronger defense of the property and recalls the power and social status of the lord of the fief.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6231/6311545069_b6bf4737ee_b.jpgRectangular in shape, the main part of the manor house is divided in two parts by two interior walls that rise to three levels accessed by a spiral staircase beginning at the main entrance.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6033/6311545583_723f09f669_b.jpgThe first part of construction began around 1480.  Reached by the stairs of the outside tower is a great room with a cellar topped with an upper room adjoining the western part of the building.  The great room was an important element of life in the manor as it served a variety of functions both official and ceremonial.  The room was often used to hear court cases where the lord served as judge and dispensed justice.  Royalties to the lord were also paid here.  More often than not, it was a place for socializing, accessible to all and where banquets and parties were held.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6096/6311544625_1d0c0cb85f_b.jpgThe large beams that made up the upper floors are all that remain allowing the visitor to look up and see the large stone fireplaces that would have heated each room.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6053/6311542911_38fe189e55_b.jpgThe second phase of construction began in the late 16th and early 17th centuries when mullioned windows were added as well as a straight staircase.  To the left is another smaller rectangular building of two levels.  It is divided internally by a central bearing wall and originally included a wine cellar and bakery with access by an outside staircase.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6092/6311543781_0bb252a362_b.jpgSome researchers believe that this building could have served as a private area reserved for the lord alone, elevated and separated from the great room.  This was a traditional practice for lords in the Cotentin region during the 15th and 16th centuries.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6040/6312067200_d9d9945a43_b.jpgIn the southwest corner of the part of the manor is a small tower called an échauguette which overlooks the moat and once served as a watchtower.  Beside it, imbedded in the wall, are the niches of the former colombier / dovecote.  It was the privilege of a lord to own and raise pigeons as a sign of his rank and social superiority.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6058/6312066208_9639c7fcc7_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6095/6312068192_096b848bd5_b.jpgAt the back of the manor house one can see the remains of defensive towers with splayed windows to aid in defending the property as well as an opening over the moat which once served as a drawbridge.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6039/6311546667_9b1eb9ab12_b.jpgThe pressoir / cider house was one of the first buildings to be renovated by the current owner and now serves as a private residence for his mother.  Other elements within the prerogative of the lord of the manor were the mill and the fishpond.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6049/6312067650_1599e175d8_b.jpgThe mill wheel was driven by the overflow of the moat, itself dependent on a particularly abundant source (a stream which runs through the property).  Downstream, a pool would form allowing for a fishpond.  The pond not only offered fish for the lord’s dinner table but a place where ducks, geese and other birds could nest before they too were added to the menu.http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6115/6311548733_bfab391b37_b.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Cotentin
November 5 2011 7 05 /11 /November /2011 09:24

137a AVF, Château d'Omonville à DennevilleOn m'a demandé de ne pas publier les photos du Château d'Omonville à Denneville sur mon blog, car c'est une résidence privée. Si vous voulez voir mes photos, s'il vous plaît envoyez votre adresse email à thomashugues007@yahoo.com et je vous enverrai un lien temporaire pour les photos. 

I was asked not to post my photos of the Château d’Omonville in Denneville on my blog because it is a private residence.  However, if you wish to see the photos, please send your email address to me, thomashugues007@yahoo.com and I will send you a temporary link to the photos. 

Cette demeure dont la partie la plus ancienne est du XVIème siècle est édifiée au centre d'une cour d'honneur entourée de douves en eau et présente à l'arrière un jardin à la française.  Au XIXème siècle, les bâtiments de services ou communs furent reconstruits en arc de cercle sur un terre-plein dominant légèrement la cour du château.  Ouvert toute l’année sur réservation uniquement :

Château d'Omonville

3 rue d'Omonville

50580 Denneville

tel. 02 33 47 97 29 

This beautiful château whose oldest part dates from the 16th century is built on a square courtyard surrounded by a moat. 
In the rear is a small French garden and orchard.  In the 19th century, the large service buildings were rebuilt and now overlook the main courtyard.  The château is open all year by reservation only and the tour of the property covers only the exterior.  Contact the owner at the telephone number above for more information.

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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage
November 2 2011 4 02 /11 /November /2011 15:28

After visiting the windmills at Besneville, our AVF group headed to the small town of Saint-Lô-d'Ourville where we were to have lunch at the restaurant "Au p'tit creux".  Before that, we had quite a surprise when we were given a guided tour of the parish church.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6112/6298608090_b97cca0619_b.jpgThis church owes its patronage to Saint-Lô, the fifth bishop of Coutances during the 6th century.  Tradition says that when he was only 16 years old, he was appointed bishop by the people when they all cried out in unison, “Lô évêque ! Lô évêque !”  They did not say, “Vox populi, vox Dei” meaning (the voice of the people is the voice of God).  Therefore, an election took place in the year 525 and he held the post of Bishop of Coutances for nearly 40 years.  The origin of this parish church dates from the 11th century, but the construction that we see today dates from the 14th and 15th centuries.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6098/6298611712_815a83c53f_b.jpgThe tower, with its gabled roof, is from the second half of 15th century while the rest of the building has been redesigned over the centuries.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6102/6305727722_59bebea797_b.jpgThe window above the altar came from the late 16th century, the Gothic arch of the entrance to the choir was enlarged and the rood beam above the sanctuary dates from the second half of the 18th century.  Long missing and forgotten, it was found in the attic of the sacristy in 1952 and in 1959 it was returned to its place between the chancel and the nave.  The crucifix attached to the rood beam is probably from the 16th century.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6110/6298610252_11040a830c_b.jpgThe main altar and its reredos come from the 17th century and refer to two scenes from the life of Saint-Lô: http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6231/6304866173_475e569e41_b.jpgto the left, his ordination, http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6220/6305391472_58b6b67993_b.jpgto the right, the miracle of the bishop healing the eyes of a blind woman.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6119/6298607362_5521cfba3a_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6060/6298085869_64f1518e8a_b.jpgStatues of Saint-Lô and Saint John the Baptist can be found above the altar as well.  The nave, the choir and part of the transept belong to a period of transition from late Romanesque to early Gothic.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6019/6298611102_4c3ce6b6b5_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6235/6298612942_4c854fe1b6_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6211/6298085341_4cd0b440ef_b.jpgThe chapel to the left of the nave has an exquisite limestone baptismal font and a stone statue of Saint-Sébastien.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6054/6298608998_83a86aacf9_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6222/6298617228_568f3b6841_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6214/6298084897_01372a36b9_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6041/6298081963_dbfbbeac5e_b.jpgIn 1572, the arch of the entrance to the choir was enlarged and expanded to create the Chapel of the Virgin.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6060/6298081601_385b8fe9bc_b.jpgThis beautiful stained glass window dedicated to Notre-Dame-des-Compagnes can be found in the Virgin’s Chapel.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6220/6298080075_89de10f1a6_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6229/6298608484_b52d2160c9_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6034/6298084447_aa679dd4d8_b.jpgThere are also a number of fine statues here as well such as a small wood statue of Mary Magdalen from the 15th century as well as some older statues of Saint-Maur and Sainte-Barbe.  To the left of the transept is a statue to the Blessed Thomas Hélye.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6041/6298083939_42bf9a395b_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6104/6298606856_68e0e0f4e9_b.jpgTo the right of the transept is a 14th century polychrome stone statue of the Virgin and Child.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6046/6298609514_51b6844c84_b.jpgThe organ, built in 1852 by the Bataille brothers, organ builders from Saint-Nicolas-de-Pierrepont, was restored in 1912.  Heavily damaged during the events of 1944 it was restored again in 1956.  This time it was equipped with an electric blower.  The presence of such an organ in a modest parish church is exceptional.  Inventories of organs in la Manche totals 78 with most of them being in religious buildings of large towns.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6101/6298617748_b658913b8a_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6217/6298618668_4cb7c9a72e_b.jpgAnyway, after the guided tour of the church, we all headed across the street to the restaurant "Au p'tit creux" where we had lunch together.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6046/6298087433_11c0b27646_b.jpgI had the roasted chicken with green beans while others had steak and fries.  I have to say that for only 21 EUROS, the trip was well worth it and I am anxious to go on another excursion with AVF.http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6094/6298083497_4db1a4daca_b.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage
October 31 2011 2 31 /10 /October /2011 08:57

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6058/6291187495_c102629e08_b.jpgLe Mont de Besneville is a hill 116 meters above sea level offering a breathtaking panorama of the countryside and the coast.  This was the second stop on the trip I took with the AVF Cherbourg group on October 9th.  There is a road leading to the summit and several footpaths for those hiking to the top.  In the midst of the heather and gorse, le mont has the distinction of being topped by three old windmills.  Two of the three mills have been transformed.  A large Calvary surmounts the largest.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6092/6291159921_9d64f7aa1d_b.jpgInside there is a quaint little chapel with an oratory, which was blessed on August 13, 1950 by Monsignor Guyot, bishop of Coutances and Avranches from 1950 to 1966.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6235/6291682772_c2cfa1a178_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6226/6291167957_1ce215ca37_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6099/6291690460_cffb83f67a_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6097/6291202387_492c695f96_b.jpgThe chapel was created by local parishioners who wished to express their gratitude to God for protecting them during the liberation of June 1944.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6217/6291190439_2f94553757_b.jpgSeveral meters away a viewing platform with an orientation table was built on top of another mill.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6227/6291713210_7c9edd2b9d_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6041/6291715592_0585102686_b.jpgIt is easily accessed by a staircase with an iron railing inside the mill.  Here, the visitor is offered a fantastic view of the countryside, the coast with glimpses of the Channel Islands as well as the Ouve Valley.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6049/6291178863_fff50481e0_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6047/6291181973_6ab6b0b505_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6047/6291184831_22754969eb_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6091/6291202739_55bc28c147_b.jpgThe third windmill is in ruins and its interior is covered with vines.  I thought it was pretty cool that I took the same image that was captured practically a century ago on this postcard.  On sunny days, the sunsets viewed from this hill are said to be marvellous.  Sadly for me, it was a cold and windy day—no chance to catch a beautiful sunrise or sunset.  I hope to visit again someday.http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6228/6291197589_68ff6ceddf_b.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage
October 29 2011 7 29 /10 /October /2011 08:09

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6033/6290939378_507dc8e1bb_b.jpgOn Sunday, October 9th, I went with a group of 40 people from the AVF Cherbourg Association on a tour of several private and public manors, châteaux, churches, windmills and gardens that make up a large part of this region’s cultural heritage.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6219/6290908968_2a571f32d2_b.jpgThe first stop of the day was the Manoir de Gonneville near the small village of Saint-Jacques-de-Néhou.  It is a fortified farm with a large courtyard and is representative of the civil architecture of this region that has its roots in the 13th century.  The lord of the manor and his tenant lived in buildings with openings mainly on the inner courtyard.  The exterior walls had few if any windows in order to protect the residents from unfriendly neighbors.  The main entrance to the manor was enclosed by a large imposing porch, which has long since disappeared.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6117/6290399727_a6e1e12193_b.jpgThe main residence, which has been restored, is in the Renaissance style of the 16th century.  The ceiling of the roof reaches to great heights, it has mullioned windows and the chimneys are decorated with small stone balls (a sign that the manor belonged to a lord or someone of royalty).  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6033/6290427447_5b0f5dc623_b.jpgAbove the dormer window to the right is a sundial facing south.  The house of a lower height on the right has its origins in the 13th century and served as the residence for the lord’s tenant.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6031/6290922744_d2007f6c7e_b.jpgFurther to the right are the cellar and the stables.  They were built here for practical reasons so that one could quickly and easily look after the horses.  Naturally the carriage house was placed next to the stables.  The ceilings and roofs have all been restored with original materials.  The beams and joists are made of oak with cracks and chinks filled in with strips of chestnut.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6037/6290914548_eed8abb2c1_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6095/6290405363_59a98a5966_b.jpgOn the other side of the courtyard are buildings strictly regulated for agricultural and storage use.  The stone walls against the hillside are close to a meter in thickness.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6236/6293939471_7d68135205_b.jpghttp://farm7.static.flickr.com/6101/6290408235_8bdabd0e53_b.jpgThere is a small barn for storing wood, a small stable, a large barn and a special room with a cider press.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6232/6290963704_359a1619df_b.jpgThe cider press, called a pressoir, is an exact replica of the one that used to be here.  It was able to produce one metric tonne of cider from the apples that grew in the orchards.  The time-honored tradition of making apple cider on the premises may have diminished over the centuries in Normandy but there is still a large number of people who embrace the art of cider making in our region.  (Here is a link that allows you to see the entire process of cider making as it was practiced using such a press.)  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6213/6290397031_327372b995_b.jpgIn the corner of the courtyard is a cylindrical pigeonnier (dovecote).  This is evidence that the lord of the manor had certain rights and powers.  For centuries, only important people could own pigeons due to the fact that they were used for communication purposes and their droppings used as fertilizer.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6052/6290411041_53530735a7_b.jpgInside there are about 400 niches for the birds corresponding to the number of hectares of land on which a lord’s power extended.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6217/6290413427_d1856dfd8d_b.jpgThe central pillar allowed for a rotating ladder, or "potence", providing an easy way to collect eggs and to provide maintenance to the tower.  On the grounds outside of the courtyard are three different buildings which served very different purposes.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6050/6294466704_35f39803dd_b.jpgIn front of the courtyard entrance is a garage.  Cited in nearly all regional records, this was once a chapel dedicated to Saint-Clair.  The garage was built long ago using the stones from the ruins.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6098/6290943878_b1884c2fe1_b.jpgIn the meadow behind the lord’s residence is a bakery with a bread oven maintained in perfect condition.  The entire roof is made of lauze stone. Originally, the rooftops of the manor house were also made of such stone.  Over time however, when the roofs collapsed, various owners put up thin slates instead.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6050/6290911870_907bd43ffa_b.jpgThe difficulties of having a roof of lauze stone is the fact that the stones are quite rare, they are extremely expensive and it is necessary for the walls and internal skeleton to have a immense structural strength to support the weight of the stones.  Only the dovecote and the bakery are covered with lauze stones today.  It should be noted that the roof of the bakery has been restored using old methods, which means that no metal at all was used in its reconstruction.  The anchor of the roof frames are made of wood while stones are held to the slats by small pegs made from chestnut (prevents wood rot).  The pegs pass through an eye carved into each stone.  The stones are larger toward the bottom and smaller toward the top.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6051/6290946258_360f4b18c5_b.jpgAlso in the meadow behind the pigeonnier is the lime oven.  It is the oldest part of the manor since it was first necessary to build the oven in order to then build the house.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6044/6290950494_dc2a529f5d_b.jpgThe lime mortar was used for building walls.  In fact, only the tops of doors and windows are framed in local stone.  The remaining “stones” throughout the manor were created here in the lime oven.  The manor has always been occupied and used as a working farm since its inception up until 1976.  The requirements of modern agriculture and the development of a restoration program of old homes in the region made it so that the manor is now only a place to live.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6218/6294464058_19bac2eb17_b.jpgIt also serves as a reminder of times gone by in this part of Normandy.  The manor has the distinct honor of once being owned by the maternal grandfather of French writer, Guy de Maupassant, Paul Lepoittevin.  He was born in 1778 at the mill of Gonneville (on the road near the bridge) because his father was the miller.  Having been well educated by the parish priest of Perques, he moved to Rouen, where he made his fortune in the textile industry.  His family was then located in the Caux region where he befriended the family of Gustave Flaubert.  http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6118/6290941618_8fce9c4e57_b.jpgIn his old age, Paul Lepoittevin returned to his home in the country, buying the Gonneville mill, the Manoir de Gonneville and the Manoir Derécu on the other side of the river.

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Published by The Baguette - in Basse-Normandie
October 28 2011 6 28 /10 /October /2011 15:37

4127 Tour de la Chaîne et Tour St-Nicolas, La Rochelle4118 Vieux Port, La RochelleBy sea and by land, La Rochelle has many monuments related to its defense.  The best known are the medieval towers of the Old Port which guard the entrance to the harbor and make it world famous.  Of these, the Tour Saint-Nicolas, the Tour de la Chaîne and the Tour de la Lanterne are all that remain of the 14th century medieval defense system destroyed by Richelieu in 1628 during the Siege of the city.  4124 Tour St-Nicolas, La RochelleBuilt in the 14th century, the Saint Nicolas Tower is a true stately keep.  Concentrated on the sea, this military building symbolised the power and wealth of La Rochelle.  With a height of 42 meters, its architecture is dependant on a maze of steps and corridors built into the depth of the walls.  4122 Tour de la Chaîne, La RochelleAlong with the Chain Tower, it protected the town’s sea front for centuries as a defensive mechanism.  The Chain Tower was constructed between 1382 and 1390 and from it, a long iron chain was joined to the Saint Nicolas Tower to prevent ships from entering the harbor.  4122a Tour de la Chaîne, La RochellePreserved at the foot of the tower lies the actual chain from which the tower took its name.  4121 Tour de la Lanterne, La RochelleAt a height of 55 meters, the Lantern Tower consists of two parts.  Its base is a cylinder 25 meters high and over 15 meters in diameter.  It is topped by an octagonal spire with four of the eight sides pierced with trefoil windows in the Flamboyant style.  Inside the tower, there are messages and graffiti carved into the stones by English, Spanish or Dutch sailors who were imprisoned here between the 17th and 19th centuries.  It is sometimes referred to as the Four Sergeants Tower after four young French soldiers who were accused during the Bourbon Restoration of trying to overthrow the monarchy.  They were kept in this tower before being transported to Paris and guillotined in 1822.  4119 Vieux Port, La RochelleA more recent monument erected in 2009 in front of the ancient towers is in honor of Michel Crépeau, a minister, deputy and mayor of La Rochelle between 1971 and 1999.  4132 Grosse Horloge, La RochelleAnother landmark near the Old Port is the Grosse-Horloge, originally a gate of the walled city of the 12th century La Rochelle.  In the 13th century it was named La Porte du Parrot because it gave access to the suburb of that name.  4131 Grosse Horloge, La RochelleThe gateway was originally pierced with two bays, one large to allow access for carts and wagons while the other much smaller to allow pedestrian access.  In 1672, the two bays were combined into one to facilitate traffic.  In 1478, an octagonal bell tower topped the gateway but this was changed again in 1746 when the top was demolished to make way for the current construction with a Louis XV tower flanked by statues with scientific and military attributes.  Today it remains one of the main crossing points between the docks and the old town.  4134 Eugène Fromentin, La RochelleNearby is the memorial to one of the city’s favorite sons, Eugène Fromentin, the famous painter and author.  As one roams the narrow streets, ALL OF WHICH are polluted with dog poop and the reeking odor of stale urine, don’t forget to admire the 13th century arcades.  4107 Les Arcades de la Rochelle4108 Les Arcades de la Rochelle4109 Les Arcades de la RochelleThey still have some half-timbered houses built above them that date as far back as the 15th century.  The arcades themselves were once used by merchants to display their goods.    4140 Maison Nicolas Vanette, La RochelleOther points of interest in this beautiful city of fetid smells include the House of Nicolas Venette, a physician who wrote not only many medical and biology books but also a rather risqué “Table of Conjugal Love.”  The house was built in the early 17th century for a Spaniard, Martin Bartox, who was an ex-Trinitarian monk turned dean of the Royal College of La Rochelle.  4141 Maison Nicolas Vanette, La RochelleIt is decorated with gargoyles and busts of physicians of ancient times.  The Revolutionary leader Jacques-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne, a member of the Committee of Public Safety, lived here also.   4136 Palais de Justice, La RochelleAnother building to see is the Palais de Justice which was built between 1783 and 1789.  The façade has Corinthian columns and borders with crests and coats of arms.  4137 Stock Exchange, La Rochelle4139 Stock Exchange, La RochelleBeside it is the Stock Exchange with its cloistered courtyard and peristyle walkway built between 1760 and 1785.  4135 Musée Rochelais d’Histoire Protestante, La RochelleThe old Protestant Temple from the 16th century now serves as a museum.  It houses a collection of various objects on the history of Protestantism in La Rochelle and the Aunis and Saintonge provinces: manuscripts and ancient books, engravings, maps, portraits, medals and rare pieces like ceramics from the workshop of Bernard Palissy.  The library contains a collection of Bibles in all languages published in the 19th century.  4110 Le chien, rue Chaudrier, La RochelleAt the entrance to the street, rue Chaudrier is a corner watchtower covered with a dome roof.  A small pug dog is enthroned at the top.  The image belongs to that of the mayor Pineau (1563) who lived here.  4145 L'Oratoire, La RochelleThe small Gothic side entrance is all that remains of the early church of Sainte-Marguerite-de-l’Ordre-de-Premontrés.  Rebuilt in the 16th century, it was successively a Catholic then a Protestant place of worship as well as a hospital or arsenal when needed.  During the 1620s, the Oratorians, a newly created congregation, settled here but were driven away by the Protestants at the beginning of the Siege of 1627 – 1628.  On All Saints’ Day 1628, Cardinal Bishop Richelieu in the presence of King Louis XIII held the first Mass celebrating the reconquest of La Rochelle by the Catholics in this chapel.  Important alterations gave the oratory its present appearance in the 18th century.  The convent of the oratory, confiscated during the French Revolution, was returned to the city by Napoleon in 1811, it became county property a few years later and then city property again in 1851.  It was the city’s earliest movie theatre in 1909 and is now used for conferences and concerts.  4111 Hôtel de Ville, La RochelleThe City Hall of La Rochelle (which has no control over the overwhelming putrid stench of dog poop and rancid stink of urine that pervades every street of the town) is composed of a main building in the Renaissance style protected by a Gothic style wall with battlements and towers built in the late 15th century.  4112 Hôtel de Ville, La RochelleThe façade is decorated with the arms of La Rochelle and Henry IV.  It also has many gargoyles, statues and carvings--many of which are covered in scaffolding due to renovations.  4114 Hôtel de Ville, La RochelleThe main gate opens onto a fortress courtyard marked by the influence of the Renaissance and Antiquity, with a monumental staircase, a bell tower and dome occupied by a statue of Henry IV in porcelain enamel.  4115 Hôtel de Ville, La RochelleOn the ground floor is a gallery consisting of nine arches on eight pillars and two pilasters with the monograms of Henry IV and his second wife, Marie de Médicis.  4117 Hôtel de Ville, La RochelleOn top of the gallery are four niches framed by Corinthian columns and statues symbolizing the cardinal virtues.  4100 Cathédrale St-Louis, La RochelleLa Cathédrale St-Louis, built in La Rochelle from 1742, remained unfinished for many years due to a lack of funds, yet it was still open for worship in 1784.  Before this cathedral existed there was La Cathédrale St-Barthélemy-du-Grand-Temple built in the early 17th century.  On February 9, 1687 a bonfire lit on the square to celebrate Louis XIV recovery from an illness spread to the church burning it to the ground.  All that remains of the original church is the bell tower.  4103 Cathédrale St-Louis, La RochelleOn June 18, 1742, the foundation stone of the present cathedral was blessed and on June 27, 1784, in the presence of the clergy and all civilians and military forces of the city, the Bishop of Uzés blessed the building.  The remainder of the construction was taken up in 1849 and finished in 1857 during the Second Empire, the two towers originally planned were never built.  It was classified a historic monument on 30 October 1906.   The cathedral has a very stripped façade, decorated with two orders of Doric and Tuscan columns, topped by a triangular pediment flanked by wings.  The interior is also very plain except for the dome which is decorated with paintings by William Bouguereau.  4104 Clocher St-Barthélemy, La RochelleThe Gothic bell tower of St-Bartholomew is attached to the apse of the cathedral.  4144 Hôtel d’Hugues Pontard dit Maison Henri II, La Roc4142 Hôtel d’Hugues Pontard dit Maison Henri II, La RocThis house is known as La Maison Henri II et Diane de Poitiers due to the fact it is styled in the manner of Henri II Renaissance architecture.  It was built in 1555 for Hugues Pontard, a local prosecutor and consists of two buildings of different heights connected by a gallery on two floors.  4143 Hôtel d’Hugues Pontard dit Maison Henri II, La RocOn the death of its owner from the plague in 1565, the house went to his son François who became they mayor of La Rochelle at age 27.  In the 17th century, the house became an inn named “l’Etang”.  In 1695 it became the Office of Finance.  On April 19, 1894, the city acquired the house and adjoining land belonging to the family Véron and created a savings bank.  Finally, in 1975, it became the home to the Society of Archaeology and History of Aunis.  The courtyard features a lovely garden.  4130 Église St-Sauveur, La RochelleThe Gothic style church of St-Sauveur was first built in 1157 along with the old church of St-Bartholomew.  A fire destroyed it in 1419 and the reconstruction was completed in 1492.  The only remains of the Gothic part of the church are the bell tower and fragments imbedded in the portal.  St-Sauveur altar, La RochelleIn 1568, this magnificent building was demolished by the Protestants to reinforce the walls of the city.  The bell tower was retained for military purposes and served as a lookout tower or platform for canons.  The main doorway collapsed in 1573 and from 1650 to 1669 was once again rebuilt only to be destroyed by the fire of 1705.  It was again rebuilt in the 18th century which transformed the roof and nave.  St-Sauveur, La RochelleDuring the Revolution, it became a facility to store food for the Navy.  It did not open again for worship until 1802.  Since then, the church fell into a state of disrepair and had to be closed in 1995 due to stones falling from the arches and cracked pillars.  St-Sauveur Organ, La RochelleA new roof was installed, the bell tower and the organ underwent repair until the church was officially reopened in 2008.  The Botanical Gardens have a long history dating back to the 16th century.  4150 Jardin des plantes, La RochelleAfter the siege of 1628, the area was entrusted to the Jesuits who bought it in 1629 and built a chapel on the grounds.  The chapel, the only remains of the Jesuit college was restored between 1843 and 1858.  Today it still serves the function of a school and museum.  As for the Botanical Gardens, they too were created by the Jesuits and opened to the public in the 1800s with a variety of plants from the Americas.  4149 Jardin des plantes, La RochelleA feature of the garden is a statue of mythical figures Hero and Leander.  Not far from the gardens is the oldest church in La Rochelle, Notre-Dame-de-Cougnes, which can trace its history as far back as 1149.  4148 Église de Notre-Dame, La RochelleIn 1568 it was practically destroyed by the Protestants who used the stones to reinforce the walls of the city.  All that was left were some arches, a few pillars and the remains of a staircase.  In 1653 the ruins were incorporated into the new construction which was finished in 1665.  An arcade was added in 1713 to enlarge the nave and provide more room for parishioners.  During the Revolution, the church was closed and became a stable.  Worship was once again reintroduced to the parish in 1802.  Today, the building is used to host concerts and exhibitions.  The old cemetery was turned into a parking lot.

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
October 27 2011 5 27 /10 /October /2011 13:38

035 Portilhon et Còth de BaretjaStarting from Bagnères-de-Luchon heading east is the famous Col du Portillon, a high mountain pass in the Pyrenees that connects Luchon to the town of Bossòst in the Val d'Aran of Spain.  The climb from Luchon is 10.2 km long while the climb from Bossòst is 8.6 km—quite a gruelling ride for any cyclist.  The Col du Portillon was first used in the Tour de France in 1957, and since then it has been featured 18 times, most recently in 2006, when the leader over the summit was David de la Fuente.  From the summit, one has spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.  Down below is the valley itself with small villages with churches and chapels dating as far back as the 11th century.  The information I had about each town was practically nil except for a map with one or two sentences describing all there is to see.  I’m not going to go into any history lessons with this post—just some simple explanations of what I saw and where I visited.  For more information on each site, click on the highlighted words.  I provided links to a site with some fairly decent information.  037 Chapelle de Sant Blas, Les, Val d'Aran038 Chapelle de Sant Blas, Les, Val d'AranMy first stop was the small village of Les.  While I was there, I walked the quiet streets until I came to the local church.  Although it was very nice inside, I thought that I was visiting the Chapelle de Sant Blas.  As it turned out, it was just the village church.  039 Chapelle de Sant Blas, Les, Val d'Aran copyInside, there was an old alter reredos above a glass display case with small statues of venerated saints.  040 Chapelle de Sant Blas, Les, Val d'AranBehind the main altar were statues of St-Joseph, St-John the Baptist and Santa Lucía.  I missed altogether the 12th century chapel.  043 Hermitage, Les, Val d'AranWalking down the main road, I eventually came to a small chapel which I can only assume is one of many hermitages found in this region.  058a Bossòst, Val d'Aran058b Bossòst, Val d'Aran052 Église d’Era Mair de Diu dera Purificacion, Bossòst053 Église d’Era Mair de Diu dera Purificacion, Bossòst055 Église d’Era Mair de Diu dera Purificacion, BossòstThe next stop was the town of Bossòst with its stunning mountain chalets and its 12th century Romanesque church called Église d’Era Mair de Diu dera Purificacion.  In addition, Bossòst is surrounded by seven Romanesque chapels that, according to its inhabitants, were built to protect the village from the plague.  059 Chapelle de Sant Joan Crisotòm, Bossòst, Val d'Aran061 Chapelle de Sant Joan Crisotòm, Bossòst, Val d'AranOne of these that I visited was named Chapelle de Sant Joan Crisotòm.  (I am using the spellings given on the French tourist map which you can find here as a PDF file.)  My third stop was the oldest village in the Val d’Aran, Vilamòs.  075 Çò de Joanchiquet, Vilamòs, Val d’Aran073 Lavoir, Çò de Joanchiquet, Vilamòs, Val d’AranIt is known for its museum where one can see what life in the Val d’Aran was like during the 18th century.  The museum, called the Çò de Joanchiquet, has a covered limestone lavoir which dates from 1832.  065 Église de Santa Maria, Vilamòs, Val d’Aran066 Église de Santa Maria, Vilamòs, Val d’Aran067 Église de Santa Maria, Vilamòs, Val d’Aran069 Église de Santa Maria, Vilamòs, Val d’AranThe church of Santa María de Vilamòs dates as far back as the 11th century while the main door dates from 1816.  Interestingly, the belfry of the church and that of the church of Bossòst, are the only two Romanesque belfries conserved in the Aran Valley.  078 Vilamòs, Val d’AranHalfway down the road, I had to get out of the car and get this photo of the Maladeta mountain range—the day was just too nice to pass it up.  My next stop was the capital city, Vielha.  080 Église de Sant Miquèu, Vielha, Val d’Aran088 Église de Sant Miquèu, Vielha, Val d’Aran081 Église de Sant Miquèu, Vielha, Val d’AranThe church of Sant Miquèu dates from the 13th century and has a 16th century octagonal bell tower.  082 Église de Sant Miquèu, Vielha, Val d’Aran copyInside is a sculpture of Christ called the Crist de Mijaran and was once part of a larger ensemble piece now destroyed.  084 Église de Sant Miquèu, Vielha, Val d’AranTo the right of the main altar are the baptismal font and a beautiful organ.  Of course, the most treasured part of the church and something not to be missed are the Gothic and Baroque paintings on some of the arches.  They depict the following: 085 Église de Sant Miquèu, Vielha, Val d’AranJesus is scourged and a crown of thorns is placed on His head, 085a Église de Sant Miquèu, Vielha, Val d’AranJesus in the Garden of Gethsemane with the sleeping apostles Peter, John and James.  An angel of God presents Him with the cup of poison (mankind’s sins).  To the right is the apocryphal Veronica as she wipes Jesus’ face with her veil, 086 Église de Sant Miquèu, Vielha, Val d’AranChrist resurrected and to the right, the crowning of Mary, 086a Église de Sant Miquèu, Vielha, Val d’AranThe Magnificat, when Mary is greeted by her cousin Elizabeth and beside it the Nativity of the Lord, 087 Église de Sant Miquèu, Vielha, Val d’AranThe Last Supper.  089 Musèu dera Val d'Aran, Vielha090 Çò de Rodès, Vielha, Val d’AranAmong other things to see in Vielha are the museum of local history and the stately home Ço de Rodes which serves as a wool museum.  Before leaving, I stopped at a grocery store and bought things to make sandwiches for lunch.  That's when I headed to the next stop on my journey, the church of Sant Martin de Tours in Gausac.  094 Église de Sant Martin de Tours, Gausac, Val d’Aran093 Église de Sant Martin de Tours, Gausac, Val d’Aran092 Église de Sant Martin de Tours, Gausac, Val d’AranUnder the shade of its octagonal tower, I ate my sandwich and then explored the interior which houses a beautiful 12th century baptismal font.  After lunch it was off to my next destination, the town of Escunhau with its 11th century Church of Sant Pèir.  097Église de Sant Pèir, Escunhau, Val d’Aran101 Église de Sant Pèir, Escunhau, Val d’AranIts bell tower was added between the 17th and 18th centuries.  100Église de Sant Pèir, Escunhau, Val d’AranThe tympanum above the door has a sculpted figure of Christ.  I was unable to see the interior since it was closed.  As it turns out, many churches in the area are closed when it is not peak season.  The tourist map that I was using recommended that one visit the oldest home in the Val d’Aran called the Çò de Perejoan, built in 1393.  I couldn’t find it anywhere.  There were no signs in the town and so I missed it completely.  I hate that.  The next to last stop was the town of Arties and its 12th century Church of Santa Maria.  104 Église de Santa Maria, Arties, Val d’Aran105 Église de Santa Maria, Arties, Val d’AranIt has a five-story belfry with a pyramidal roof and dates from the 13th and 14th centuries.  106 Église de Santa Maria, Arties, Val d’AranBeside the church is a 16th century tower called the Çò de Portola which was part of an old manor house.  108 Casa Paulet, Arties, Val d'Aran109 Casa Paulet, Arties, Val d'Aran copy110 Casa Paulet, Arties, Val d'AranAlso from the 16th century is the Casa Paulet which possesses several large mullioned windows with interesting Renaissance sculptures.  107 Arties, Val d’Aran110a Arties, Val d'AranThis town, just like many of the others I saw in the Val d’Aran had beautiful chalets as well as traditional homes decorated with garlands of corn.  The last place I saw was the old mill in the town of Salardú.  It is no longer used but it has been restored and is open for tourists during the peak season.  111 Mòla de Salardú, Val d’Aran112 Mòla de Salardú, Val d’AranAll I got to see were the original hydraulic mechanisms underneath the mill that were once powered by the Garonne River which runs around the town.  114 Salardú, Val d’AranThe bridge which connects the town with the mill is of modern construction.  I wanted to see more of the region but it was getting late; and you should try driving for 20 kilometers on roads full of hairpin turns throughout the mountains.  I felt it was time to call it quits and head back to Bagnères-de-Luchon.  My advice to anyone wishing to visit this region is plan on spending more than just one day to see everything.  It looks small and reasonable on a map but trust me, there is a whole lot to see and do.  Hopefully, I can go back someday.

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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage
October 26 2011 4 26 /10 /October /2011 09:32

Bagnères-de-Luchon is a lively spa town lying in a beautiful setting amidst the Pyrénées.  It is the busiest and most fashionable cure resort in the region, and also a tourist and winter sports center with a wide choice of ski runs, climbs and excursions.  111057 Superbagnères111053 Superbagnères111056 Superbagnères111058 Superbagnères111050a SuperbagnèresIn the winter, the town serves as a base for skiers attracted by the slopes at Superbagnères, the resort’s high altitude annex.  Luchon’s first inhabitants arrived 4,000 years ago, during the Bronze Age.  However, it was not until the Romans arrived that it was developed into an outpost which they called Ilixio after the goddess of waters, Ilixon.  It was during this time that thermal swimming pools were dug.  Legend has it that a Roman soldier with lesions on his arm discovered the healing properties of the thermal waters when he dipped his arm into a spring and soon after found his skin to be cured.  111213c Bagnères-de-LuchonLuchon’s fame arrived in 1759 when Baron Antoine Mégret d’Étigny, the Royal Steward of Gascony, Béarn and Navarre decided that the area should be restored.  By 1762, a carriage road linked Luchon to Montréjeau in the north.  111216 Bagnères-de-LuchonThe splendid avenue, which now bears Étigny’s name, was officially inaugurated and planted with rows of lime trees which still stand today.  D’Étigny then replaced the original common pool with nine double troughs made of wood, each with a removable cover which had a hole for the bathers’ heads.  This was a substantial improvement, though those taking the waters still had to undress in the open air, screened only by a board fence.  D’Étigny was also the first person to think of appointing a regular doctor to a thermal spa.  The next step was to advertise the town.  He persuaded the governor of the province Maréchal Duc de Richelieu, to take a cure.  The duke, enchanted by the Roman ruins, was delighted.  He extolled the merits of the spa back at the palace in Versailles and returned for a second cure.  From then on, the town’s success was assured and soon became well known amongst the rich who came to town to take the waters.111219 Hôtel de Ville, Bagnères-de-Luchon111217 Bagnères-de-Luchon  111016 Bagnères-de-Luchon111017 Bagnères-de-LuchonMuch of Luchon’s rich and beautiful architecture grew during this period, under Napoleon III.  Luxurious villas, required by high society visitors were built and gave the town its elegant character.  As you can see, some of them are quite grand while others are simply marvellous wood chalets.  111220 Bagnères-de-LuchonThe mansion at number 18, built in the 18th century now houses the tourist office and local museum.  111022 Casino, Bagnères-de-LuchonIn 1880 the Casino was built to add additional pleasures for visitors to discover.  111026 François I et Marguerite, Bagnères-de-Luchon111025 La fatalité, Bagnères-de-Luchon111020 Le baiser à la source, Bagnères-de-Luchon111215 Cain et Abel, Bagnères-de-LuchonSeveral parks designed with fountains, ponds and statuary can be found throughout the town.  Life in Luchon centers around les allées d’Étigny and the main avenue leading to the baths.  111203a Bagnères-de-Luchon111203 Bagnères-de-Luchon111209 Bagnères-de-Luchon111210 Bagnères-de-Luchon111213 Bagnères-de-LuchonThe grand entrance to the baths, known as the “Chambert Thermal Baths” was built in 1848. 111213b Bagnères-de-Luchon111213a Bagnères-de-LuchonThe “Pavillion Impérial” was built in 1954 and the “Vaporarium,” unique in Europe was completed in 1970.  In front of the Chambert Thermal Baths is a statue of d’Étigny.  111201a Hôtel d’Étigny, Bagnères-de-LuchonI stayed at Hotel d’Étigny which was just across the street from the thermal baths.  111059a Superbagnères111059b Superbagnères111051 Superbagnères111059 Superbagnères111063 Superbagnères111065 SuperbagnèresSki enthusiasts started coming to the area by 1911 when the construction of the Grand Hotel and the Cremaillère leading up to Superbagnères had begun.  111041 Téléporté de Luchon à Superbagnères111047 Téléporté de Luchon à Superbagnères111045 Téléporté de Luchon à SuperbagnèresIn 1993, the Cremaillère was replaced by cable cars.  The cable cars now take people to the top of the mountain to an altitude of 1,800 meters.  On the morning that I decided to take the cable car to the top, the mountains and the town were occasionally covered in clouds.  How fortunate I was that there was no rain.  The views were still spectacular from the top of the mountain.  111067 SuperbagnèresIn the months when there is no snow, farmers let their cows wander the green slopes.  111035 Les halles, Bagnères-de-LuchonIn town, the weekly market was taking place in La Halle built in 1896.  It is decorated with charming ceramic decorations of all sorts of food.  111031 Bagnères-de-LuchonThese three men are dressed in their traditional costumes as mountain guides.  In French they belong to a group of mountain guides that has existed since the early 18th century.  Their role was to carry or aid people wishing to go on excursions through forests and lakes in the region.  The right to wear the costume is passed down from father to son.

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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage