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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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July 16 2011 7 16 /07 /July /2011 12:12

006 Glee Project winnerYesterday was another beautiful day for a hike along le sentier des douaniers.  Again, I did about six kilometres on a trail near the one I did a few days ago close to Herqueville.  001 La Hague003 La Hague004 La HagueThis hike starts at the bottom of the D403 below Le Hameau Linnet.  Walking towards Vauville there are some spectacular views of the sea along the steep cliffside paths.  011 Glee Project winner012 Glee Project winner022 La HagueSadly, it was somewhat hazy (un peu brumeux) in the distance but that did not prevent me from completely enjoying my hike.  025 carrièreAs one walks toward le petit Beaumont, one comes across the old quarry called l’ancien carrière, a geological site with sedimentary rock as old as 450 million years .  031 Pouquelées030 Pouquelées029 PouqueléesContinuing up the path toward les pierrres des Pouquelées there is an interesting megalithic collective burial site erected around 4500 years ago during the Neolithic period.  It is not known precisely what people were buried here.  The alley, which opens toward the south-west measures 14.50 meters long and one meter wide.  The site rests 110 meters above sea level which means they had to be carried here as the stones are from a deposit located about three kilometres away at sea level.  At the beginning of 19th century, people began taking the stones to build a bridge.  Warned of this, the sub-prefecture of the time ordered the slabs replaced.  L’allée couverte des Pouquelées was made a historic monument in 1854.  018 Cotentin vol libre017 Cotentin vol libre019 Cotentin vol libreThis part of the hike takes one to the top of a cliff where people into paragliding can risk their lives.  More information about the association Cotentin Vol Libre can be found here if you are inclined to risk your life jumping off of cliffs.  I saw more than seven different people riding the wind with their para gliders—I’d love to try it someday.  035 Le petit Beaumont, GisementHeading back to my car, I passed the gisement des fossiles (480 million years old).  It may just look like a pile of rocks but it is actually a site loaded with ancient fossils of trilobites and echinoderms.  Be prepared to see a lot of goats, cows, sheep, butterflies and a wide array of flora especially wild berries while hiking. 008 Glee Project winner023 Glee Project winner041 Querqueville Cherbourg045 Camino de Santiago039 Mur Blackberries

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Published by The Baguette - in La Hague
July 14 2011 5 14 /07 /July /2011 08:56

015 HerquevilleOne of the best ways of discovering the countryside of La Hague is to walk along one of the many coastal footpaths called le sentier des douaniers.  In English, the name means “the customs’ paths” since it was once a notorious place for tobacco smugglers from the Channel Islands to hide their boats during bad weather.  006 Herqueville010 Herqueville008 HerquevilleFrom 1800 to 1850, French customs officials did their best to stop illegal contraband by guarding the many paths along the coast.  Throughout the region there are short, medium and long distance footpaths marked with red and white lined lines to keep one from getting lost.  My trip yesterday was just a small one at six kilometres total.  002 HerquevilleI started at the bottom of route des Moulinets and headed toward Herqueville along the Baie des Fontenelles.  The views from here are spectacular to say the least.  At one point, looking off into the distance, one can see the island of Alderney.  011 Herqueville012 Herqueville013 Herqueville014 HerquevilleAt the point called les Treize Vents (the thirteen winds) it is easy to see the small cove of port du Houguet.  This quaint little spot is one of four small ports in La Hague, the others being Port-Racine, le Hâble and Goury.021 Herqueville  019 Herqueville043 camino de santiago de compostela044 walking the camino de santiago de compostelaThe wild and colorful shrubs, ferns, brambles and thistle are everywhere clinging to the steep cliffs but some places have been grazed clean by the many goats and sheep raised here by local farmers.  020 Herqueville017 HerquevilleThe toughest part of the hike was the upward climb along the chemin de crève cœur (there’s a double meaning to the name of this path—the exhausted heart that bursts or the more romantic path to heartbreak) to the small village of Herqueville.  022 Herqueville023 Eglise Herqueville024b Herqueville035 HerquevilleBeside the town hall rests the quite modest church dedicated to Our Lady.  The old baptismal font near the entrance reminds us of Christ’s baptism.  The wooden vaults of the nave are shaped like an overturned ship and have recently been restored.  037 Herqueville029 Herqueville032 HerquevilleThe choir was rebuilt in 1785 and is surrounded by statues in polychrome stone or wood.  Just behind the altar is the sacristy.  025a Way of Saint JamesAlong one of the walls is a bell that came from Omonville-la-Petite and is dated from 1733.  Herqueville has its own well and lavoir as well which adds to the charm of this little village by the sea.040 Herqueville041 Herqueville

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Published by The Baguette - in La Hague
July 9 2011 7 09 /07 /July /2011 12:29

2501 Normandy Inn le val borelThe seigniorial chapel was originally dependent on the Château de la Motte de Montbray.  This building was granted to the parish (and the town) in the year 1697 by the baron at the time with support for them to maintain it.  The parish and the town did not fail to do so and even extended the nave to allow more space inside.  It was well known from the time of the Revolution that the chapel of the village was formerly called La Chapelle St-Guillaume in memory of M. Guillaume LAIR, originally the priest from Montbray and the parish priest of Saint-Martin.  2510 Chapelle St-Pierre, MontbrayOn May 28 1711, M. Guillaume LAIR died at the rectory leaving a will in which he requested that a chapel to be built in the village of Huillardière.  M. LAIR would provide for its construction through the sale of his furniture and 200 livres from the rent of his tenants.  From the sale of his lands in Huillardière, Masses in his name would be given in the new chapel.  M. CHARPENTIER, the local vicar was appointed to be the executor of the will.  However, the heirs were against its execution and took the matter to the courts in Vire.  After a year of arguments, the transaction took place before a notary in Villedieu in the presence of a priest and lord of the parish.  The new agreement was that a new chapel would not be built but the proceeds from the sale of the furniture would be allocated to the restoration and expansion of the old village chapel.  It would then become the property of the municipality.  2506 Chapelle St-Pierre, MontbrayThe architectural plans for the chapel in its old state were never found.  It was to include the tower (without the crown) and the two transept chapels that are now consecrated to the Holy Virgin and Sacred Heart.  At the time of the Wars of Religion (1562-1598), which afflicted much of the country, everything within the chapel and the parish church were destroyed.  Apart from the nave which was added later, much of the building dates from the 16th century.  The wooden vaults were rebuilt in 1911.  Restored in 1937, this chapel has never been the parish church even during the time when Montbray was the center of a large deanery stretching from Pontfarcy to La Chapelle-Cécelin.  2502 Chapelle St-Pierre, MontbrayThe main altar is of 16th century granite.  Above it is a Virgin and Child made from a rare limestone.  On either side of the altar are polychrome statues.  On the right is St-Roch (16th century) and on the left is the Education of the Virgin (15th to 16th centuries).  Admire the gracious and smiling visage of Ste-Anne. 2505 Chapelle St-Pierre, MontbrayThe old high altar of the 18th century was placed in the north transept—its tabernacle was decorated with statues of the Redeemer, a deacon and an evangelist.  The exhibition also featured a beautiful wooden crucifix supported by two angels.  Parts of this altar remain with four other angels (17th century) on either side holding candles.  The painting of the altarpiece on canvas represents St-Guillaume celebrating Mass at an altar in front of another painting which may be a representation of a martyr or perhaps Mary Magdalene.  It bears the inscription: St-Guillaume bishop of Bourges, 1751 (This beautiful altar is due to the generosity of M. Guillaume LAIR).  In front of the altar stands a statue of Ste-Barbara of polychrome stone and ancient baptismal and water fonts of granite.  In the south transept is an altar of granite on a triangular base.  2503 Chapelle St-Pierre, MontbrayThe baptismal font and the Virgin of Mercy (16th century) are of alabaster and probably come from the chapel of the old castle of La Concelière.  Note also in the south transept, the opening in the wall which served as a pillar and allowed the lords to view the priest at the altar within the enclosure reserved for them.  The main altar of the chapel was reclaimed in late December 1989, at the initiative of Abbé Mauduit, then pastor of Montbray.  Detached from the wall, it was then placed closer to the entrance of the sanctuary.  It is a rare specimen of granite, with its imposing dimensions and sculptures.  Two beautifully carved square columns support the front corners and finely crafted masonry supports it on the back.  This type of architecture can be traced back to the 15th century.  The work was completed by Marcel FRENE and his son Alain, Montbray masons, working on behalf of the Company SIMONIN from nearby St-Sever.  Note that in the year 1936, Henri FRENE, also a Montbray mason and father and grandfather of Marcel and Alain, put woodwork around the altar to keep it dry.  Now that the woodwork is gone, the 300 year old beauty of the original altar can now be seen by the faithful.  2507 Chapelle St-Pierre, Montbray copyAt the back of the chapel is a 19th century plaster statue of Our Lady and Child.  On the left and right are two paintings (1890) by Pierre Le François.  They originally hung in the choir but were placed here when the fresco of the choir was completed.  2508 Chapelle St-Pierre, Montbray copyThe painting on the left represents the great bishop of Coutances, Geoffroy de Montbray, blessing the army of William the Conqueror just before the Battle of Hastings in 1066.  2509 Chapelle St-Pierre, Montbray - Copy copyThe painting on the right shows Geoffroy de Montbray’s death on February 4, 1093.  At his wishes, he was carried by the clergy to the steps of the cathedral which in 1056 he had consecrated to Our Lady.  The frescoes of the choir are dedicated to St-Pierre and Geoffroy de Montbray.  The chapel of the Blessed Virgin is also decorated with frescoes by M. DUBOIS, commissioned by Abbé MOREL and later Abbé NEEL, both priests of Montbray.  The nave is lined with a beautiful set of white benches from the parish church of St-Martin.  2501a Gay Friendly Mont St MichelThe bell tower of the chapel is decorated with a clock and is home to only one small bell named Marie placed there in 1833.  Inscribed on the bronze are the following words: In the year 1833, I was blessed by M. Jean Pierre MURIE, priest, and named by Mademoiselle Stéphanie Eleonore Gaupuceau and by M. Victor Edouard Renault, doctor of medicine and mayor of Monbray.  I am the property of Monbrey Les Grente de Hambye who made me.

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Published by The Baguette - in Basse-Normandie
June 28 2011 3 28 /06 /June /2011 14:53

The pretty and lively city of Avranches is one of the oldest towns in Normandy and its origins date back to early antiquity.  Saint-Aubert, Bishop of Avranches in the 8th century, instigated the foundation of Mont-St-Michel and the two centers are therefore closely linked not only geographically but also historically.  2717 Jardin des Plantes, AvranchesLegend has it that a dense forest covered Mont-St-Michel Bay when St. Michael appeared twice before Aubert and commanded him to raise a chapel in his honor on the rock then called Mounte-Tombe.  Although sanctuaries to St. Michael were built by tradition upon high rocks, the Bishop of Avranches remained sceptical and vacillated.  St. Michael settled the matter by reappearing and digging an imperious finger into the doubting man’s skull.  Aubert could delay no longer.  2733 Basilique Saint-Gervais, Avranches2734 Basilique Saint-Gervais, AvranchesA skull with a hole in it is displayed in the treasury of the Basilique Saint-Gervais recalling this legend.  Sadly, the basilica was closed during my visit and I could only get these few photos of the exterior.  2716 Jardin des Plantes, Avranches2722 Jardin des Plantes, AvranchesSpread out to the west of the city is the Jardin des plantes.  The botanical gardens, once the property of a Capuchin monastery that was destroyed during the French Revolution, are well situated on a gentle slope below the town.  2721 Jardin des Plantes, AvranchesUp until 1882, the grounds were a famous botanical park used for medicinal purposes.  At the far end of the garden is a panorama of the bay.  2719 Portail de la chapelle St-Georges-de-BouilletThe doorway from the 11th century chapel of St-Georges-de-Bouillet, which was set up in the garden in 1843, stands facing the huge restful bay.  From Place Daniel-Huet, one can walk along the garden paths to reach the site of the old Cathédrale Saint-André.  In very poor condition by the 18th century, it collapsed one night in April 1794.  2724 Monument Henri II Plantagenêt à Avranches2726 Cathédrale Saint-André, Avranches-copy-1Nothing remains but this little square, known locally as la plate-forme.  It contains the paving stone marked with a chalice on which Henry II made public penance on May 22, 1172 for the death of Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket.  2728 l'ancien palais épiscopal, Avranches2729 l'ancien palais épiscopal, AvranchesThe former bishop’s palace now serves as a museum dedicated to the Avranches Archaeological Society.  The buildings here date from the 14th and 15th centuries.  2701 Église Notre-Dame-des-Champs, AvranchesThe previous church of Notre-Dame des Champs was situated, as its name implies, in the fields outside the southern part of the city.  Not much is known about the original edifice except through a few engravings from the 17th century.  It became too small for worship and in 1855 it was decided that a new church should be built.  2705 Vierge à l'Enfant, Église Notre-Dame-des-Champs, AvA member of the parish, an architect named Théberge drew up the plans and the specifications.  However, it was not until April 12, 1855 that the cornerstone was laid.  At that time, work really took off but there was the serious question of how to finance such a grand scheme.  2707 Église Notre-Dame-des-Champs, AvranchesThe bold proportions of the new church broke completely with the modest one it was replacing.  The means of the city and the parish were inadequate, especially as the rebuilding of Saint-Gervais had already cost the town dearly.  In 1865, the mayor of Avranches and the archpriest went to Paris to seek financial assistance from the state.  2708 Église Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Avranches2710 Église Notre-Dame-des-Champs, AvranchesIt took a long time before the assistance was granted in 1876 and the consecration of the church by Bishop Monsignor Germain on November 13, 1892.  The construction of the building was plagued with problems and tragedies during its slow construction.  In 1868, a mason fell from the rose window where he was working.  The architect Théberge died in 1866 and was replaced by Cheftel.  2712 Église Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Avranches2713 Église Notre-Dame-des-Champs, AvranchesWork was once again delayed during World War I when all the manpower was mobilized to fight the Germans.  The two towers of the façade were completed between 1926 and 1937.  Sadly, the church was severely damaged during World War II by firebombing of the city.  The restoration work took several years and Notre-Dame des Champs was reopened for worship in February 1962.  Its neo-Gothic style is its most beautiful feature with extremely large windows of clear stained glass allowing an abundance of light inside.  2702 Église Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Avranches2703 Église Notre-Dame-des-Champs, AvranchesIts exterior is decorated with numerous gargoyles that depict strange and imaginary creatures.  2735 Église Saint-Saturnin, AvranchesNearby is the church of Saint-Saturnin.  Quite a few archaeological discoveries have been made in the surrounding region, which seem to date the area as a religious site as far back as the Middle Ages.  In 1961 the remains of sarcophagi were uncovered around rue Saint-Saturnin that complemented the information provided by the discovery in 1959 of Merovingian tombs in the choir of Notre-Dame des Champs.  In 1988, new graves were discovered during the construction of the Crédit Mutuel confirming the presence of a paleo-Christian religious site in this area of the city.  Today, nothing is visible of this ancient occupation, and, apart from a few old houses, the area is a thoroughly urbanized space with a definitive twentieth century footprint.  2735a Église Saint-Saturnin, AvranchesThe church of Saint-Saturnin itself is considered rather old since it was rebuilt in the late 19th century.  Before this final restoration, the building had characteristics of the late 17th and early 18th century.  However, the western porch overlooking rue Docteur Gibert remain and date as far back as the 13th century and are considered by some historians to be the oldest in the town.  2736 Église Saint-Saturnin, AvranchesA report, from 1836, states that the church was in excellent condition and required no internal or external maintenance.  However, a transformation of the church was decided upon because of its small size.  At that time the population had increased by a fifth since 1789 and on market days the church was packed.  2737 Église Saint-Saturnin, AvranchesIn 1846, Abbé Caillemer stated that Saint-Saturnin could not contain the increased numbers of parishioners and as a result, something must be done.  Significant work was undertaken by a priest to enlarge the building.  Started in 1846, the aisles of the choir were completed in October 1847 and then in 1852 the chapels of the north and south transept were created.  2738 Église Saint-Saturnin, AvranchesIn 1865, the choir was raised to a new height to blend in harmoniously with the new constructions.  As with the nearby church of Notre Dame des Champs, a façade in the neo-Gothic style was created.  In 1944, the only damage it suffered during World War II was the destruction of its stained glass windows and from June 8 it was reopened for worship.  The modern stained glass windows are orange and red creating a warm glow inside yet in my opinion, the interior still is exceptionally dark.  2741 Église Saint-Saturnin, Avranches2743 Église Saint-Saturnin, AvranchesNear the entrance are three bas-reliefs depicting Joseph and Mary’s flight to Egypt as well as the Massacre of the Innocents.  2744 Mémorial de Patton, AvranchesThe Patton Monument is erected on the site of a strategic crossroads located south of the town and destroyed during the air raids of 1944.  The imposing memorial commemorates the deployment of General Patton’s troops toward Brittany and the areas surrounding lower Normandy (in July 1944 with the American 3rd Army).  2745 Mémorial de Patton, AvranchesThe square on which it stands is now American territory—the soil and trees were brought over from the United States.  It was from Avranches on July 31, 1944 that General Patton began the swift advance that smashed the German Panzer counter offensive launched from Mortain.  2746 Mémorial de Patton, AvranchesThe breakthrough marked the beginning of the attack that was to take the American 3rd Army through to Bastogne in Belgium.

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Published by The Baguette - in Basse-Normandie
June 27 2011 2 27 /06 /June /2011 05:00

2623 Mont Saint-MichelDuring the final days of my vacation, I spent some time in the countryside near Montbray.  From there, I took a morning trip to Mont-Saint-Michel.  It is truly one of the most amazing places in France if not the world.  I’ve been there before and did not want to pay 9 Euros to see the abbey again.  (If you’ve never been, you simply MUST take the full tour.)  2673 Mont Saint-MichelThis time around, I was more interested in the exterior of the building as well as taking a walk around the famous island.  2670 Mont Saint-MichelThe monastery was founded about the year 708 by St-Aubert, Bishop of Avranches.  According to the legend, by direct command of the Archangel Michael himself, who appeared to the bishop in a dream on three separate occasions, a church was to be built on the rock once called Monte-Tombe.  2632 Mont Saint-MichelPeople come from all over the world visit this place, still occupied by an order of monks, some of whom I saw worshiping in the parish church of St-Pierre.  2635 Mont Saint-MichelIf you plan on visiting Mont-Saint-Michel, be prepared to do a lot of climbing stairs.  It’s great exercise.  If you aren’t in a hurry, take advantage of the low tides and walk across the bay with a group of fellow pilgrims.  2666 Mont Saint-Michel2645 Mont Saint-Michel2644 Mont Saint-Michel2675 Mont Saint-Michel2639 Mont Saint-MichelBe sure you go with a group at the right time or else the tides can wash you out to sea.  I won’t go into great detail about Mont-Saint-Michel since its history and architecture can be read about in books and online quite easily.  2626 Mont Saint-Michel2627 Mont Saint-Michel2628 Mont Saint-MichelNeedless to say, I had a wonderful morning and got some photos I was unable to get the last time I visited in 2004.2678 Mont Saint-Michel

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
June 26 2011 1 26 /06 /June /2011 05:00

2603 Le cimetière militaire allemand de Mont-de-Huisnes, HCrowning a 30-meter high hill, half a mile from the village of the same name, the German military cemetery of Huisnes occupies a commanding position overlooking the curve of the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel.  2621 Le cimetière militaire allemand de Mont-de-Huisnes, HHere lie 11,956 German war dead.  Nearby, at Avranches, the Americans launched their decisive breakthrough into enemy lines on July 30, 1944.  2602 Le cimetière militaire allemand de Mont-de-Huisnes, H2604 Le cimetière militaire allemand de Mont-de-Huisnes, H2605 Le cimetière militaire allemand de Mont-de-Huisnes, H2606 Le cimetière militaire allemand de Mont-de-Huisnes, H2608 Le cimetière militaire allemand de Mont-de-Huisnes, HThe hill at Huisnes is unique: the only German ossuary in the country, the result of the disinterments made by the Volksbund (the German War Graves Organization) in 1961, bringing together the remains found in the Departments of Morbihan, Ile-et-Vilaine, Mayenne, Sarthe, Loire et Cher, Indre et Loire, Vienne et Indre, and also from the Channel Islands – Jersey, Guernsey, Aurigny and Sark (except for those graves in the cemetery of Port George in St. Peter Port, Guernsey).  2619 Le cimetière militaire allemand de Mont-de-Huisnes, H2613 Le cimetière militaire allemand de Mont-de-Huisnes, HThe mausoleum is a circular structure, 47 meters across, and built on two floors, each floor consisting of a gallery giving on to 34 crypts on each level.  2615 Le cimetière militaire allemand de Mont-de-Huisnes, H2616 Le cimetière militaire allemand de Mont-de-Huisnes, HWithin each crypt are the bones of 180 war dead: their names are inscribed on a bronze plaque.  A tall cross rises above the central grassed area.  The mausoleum was inaugurated on September 14, 1963.2612 Le cimetière militaire allemand de Mont-de-Huisnes, H

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Published by The Baguette - in Basse-Normandie
June 25 2011 7 25 /06 /June /2011 04:54

2401 Château de Domfront, DomfrontHenry 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.  2402 Château de Domfront, DomfrontDomfront 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.  2403 Château de Domfront, DomfrontThe 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.  2406 Château de Domfront, Domfront - Copy2407 Château de Domfront, DomfrontMontgomery 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.  2404 Château de Domfront, DomfrontThe remains of the fortress now enclose a public park.  2400 L'hôtel de ville, Place de la Roirie, DomfrontPlace 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.  2406 Rue Clément Bigot, Escalier carrée, Domfront, DomfrRue Clément Bigot – Previously rue Tripière (where they made tripe), one can see on the right a square tower that contains a staircase.  2408 Place du Panorama, le bocage, DomfrontPlace du Panorama – The view of the bocage (countryside) is excellent.  Before the June 14, 1944 bombing this area was entirely built up.  2409 Maisons à pans de boi, Place St-Julien, DomfrontPlace 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.  2409a Au Bar Normand, 29 Rue St Julien, DomfrontAu Bar Normand at number 29 rue St-Julien dates from the 16th century. 2414 Maisons à pans de boi, Grand Rue, Domfront2410 Rue du Dr-Barrabé, DomfrontRue 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.  2411 Hôtel du Marie Rocher, XVIIe siècle, Cour Marie du RCour 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.  2412 Hôtel Roullin-Martinière, tour escalier, XVIIe siècThe Hôtel Marie du Rocher, built in the 17th century, is on the left; the staircase tower was part of the Hôtel Roullin-Martinière.  2413 La Vicomte, XVIIe siècle, DomfrontLa Vicomte – Residence of the viscount in the 17th century.  Notice the globes on each chimneystack.  They possibly mean that the owner was a nobleman.  2415 L'échauguette watchtower, Château de Godras, DomfronL’échauguette is a watchtower on the first floor of what used to be the château de Godras.  2416 Théâtre municipal, Lycee Auguste Chevallier, 1689, DNear 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.  2418 Pavillion de Boudé, no 2 rue de Godras, DomfrontPavillion 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.  2420 Église Saint-Julien de DomfrontÉglise St-Julien was built in 1924 and one of the first to be built using reinforced concrete.  2420a Église Saint-Julien de Domfront, 1924Only 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.  2421 Église Saint-Julien de Domfront2422 Église Saint-Julien de DomfrontEven 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.  2423 Église Saint-Julien de DomfrontIt 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.  2424d Détail de la mosaïque, Église Saint-Julien de Domf2424b La coupole, Église Saint-Julien de Domfront2424f Nouvel autel, 2002, Église Saint-Julien de Domfront2424g Nouvel ambon, 2002, Église Saint-Julien de Domfront2424 Les fonts baptismaux, Église Saint-Julien de DomfrontSome of the images shown here are from a booklet about the church.  All proceeds go toward restoration.  2427 Rue de la Poterne, Domfront2429 La tour poterne, Rue de la Poterne, DomfrontPorte 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).  2431 Porte d'Alençon, DomfrontPorte d’Alençon – The last of the two towers that remains today is the entrance to the medieval town.  2430 Rue des barbacanes, DomfrontAlong the rue des Fosses-Plissons one can still admire six remaining towers from the 12th and 13th century ramparts.  2432 La tour Coroller, XVIIe siècle, Rue des Fossés PlissLa tour Coroller  2434 La tour Lafaye, XVIIe siècle, Rue des Fossés PlissonLa tour Lafaye 2435 La tour Guérin Leriverain, XVIIe siècle, Rue des FosLa tour Guérin Leriverain  2407 Place du Panorama, L'église Notre-Dame-sur-l'Eau, DomÉglise 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.  2436 La Varenne, Dalles funerairés, l'ancien cimetière, L2439 L'église Notre-Dame-sur-l'Eau, DomfrontThe 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.  2441 Autel du XIIe siècle, L'église Notre-Dame-sur-l'Eau,In the middle of the chancel with its lovely arcades is the altar composed of a granite slab supported by three squat pillars.  2442 Vierge à l'Enfant XIVe siècle, L'église Notre-Dame-To the right of the chancel is a 14th century statue of the Virgin and Child.   2445 Fresques du XIIe siècle, Pères de l'Eglise ou les Ap2447 Fresques du XIIe siècle, Pères de l'Eglise ou les ApSeveral 12th century frescoes have been uncovered in the south transept representing Doctors of the Church.  2443 Gisant de Pierre Ledin de la Châlerie, XVIIe siècle,The recumbent statue of Pierre Ledin de la Châlerie dates from the 17th century.  2449 Pierre tombale de J. Ledéboté, 1606, L'église NotreThis tombstone is from the grave of J. Ledéboté who died in 1606.  2450 Pierre tombale de dame Marquise Ledin XVIIe siècle, LThe other tombstone is that of Marquise Ledin who died at age 23 in 1613.

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June 24 2011 6 24 /06 /June /2011 05:00

2315a Château de Lassay, XIIe siècle, reconstruction 1456This ancient market town owes its name to a Roman town called Lacciacium or Laaceio because it used to be surrounded by lakes.  A few remarkable buildings have been restored, revealing some of the splendid red granite facades (especially along rue Dorée).  On the edge of the town stands an imposing fortress.  The castle, which dominates the village with its eight pepper-pot towers linked by a strong curtain wall, was built in 1458 in place of an older building which had been dismantled in 1417 during the Hundred Years’ War.  2310 Château de Lassay, XIIe siècle, reconstruction 1456-2312 Château de Lassay, XIIe siècle, reconstruction 1456-The castle is a prime example of military architecture under the reign of Charles VII.  Its history evokes three famous people – King Henry IV, the writer and poet Victor Hugo and the chemist Lavoisier who was a prisoner in the castle during the Revolution and used a curious “Chinese oven” situated in one of the towers not only to carry out his experiments but also to produce the first porcelain objects made from hard paste.  2302 Château de Lassay, XIIe siècle, reconstruction 1456-The bridge spanning the moat leads to the barbican, a fortified structure defending the entrance to the castle.  2307 Château de Lassay, XIIe siècle, reconstruction 1456-2308 Château de Lassay, XIIe siècle, reconstruction 1456-The two towers guarding the drawbridge are linked by living quarters, in which 16th and 17th century weapons and furniture are displayed.  Don’t miss the rose garden maintained by the city or the beautiful medieval garden.  2300 Le Crépuscule Pizzeria, Grande Rue, Lassay-les-ChâteLe Crépuscule Pizzeria along the Grande Rue is where I had lunch.  Excellent pizza !  2301 16 rue du Château, Lassay-les-Châteaux16 Rue du Château  2314 Le moulin et Église de Saint-Fraimbault-de-Lassay, LaLe moulin et Église de Saint-Fraimbault-de-Lassay  2315 Le lavoir, Lassay-les-ChâteauxLe lavoir  2317 La Tour carrée, Lassay-les-ChâteauxLa Tour carrée  2318 La Tour carrée, Lassay-les-ChâteauxLa Tour carrée  2319 9 Grande Rue, Lassay-les-Châteaux9 Grande Rue  2322 18 Grande Rue Courtyard, Lassay-les-Châteaux18 Grande Rue  2320 XVe siècle, Rue Dorée, Lassay-les-ChâteauxRue Dorée  2321 XVe siècle, Rue Dorée, Lassay-les-ChâteauxRue Dorée  2324 Le Pub à Victor Hugo, Lassay-les-ChâteauxLe Pub à Victor Hugo  2325 Maison du Bailly, Lassay-les-ChâteauxMaison du Bailly  2326 Hôtel de Ville, Grand Rue, Lassay-les-ChâteauxHôtel de Ville  2328 Église de Saint-Fraimbault-de-Lassay et la roseraie mÉglise de Saint-Fraimbault-de-Lassay  2329 Ancien couvent des bénédictines, Lassay-les-ChâteauAncien couvent des bénédictines  2316 Château de Lassay, XIIe siècle, reconstruction 1456-2331 La roseraie municipale, Lassay-les-ChâteauxLa roseraie municipale  2334 La roseraie municipale, Lassay-les-ChâteauxLa roseraie municipale  2332 La roseraie municipale, Lassay-les-ChâteauxLa roseraie municipale  2333 La roseraie municipale, Lassay-les-ChâteauxLa roseraie municipale  2330 Le jardin médiéval, Lassay-les-ChâteauxLe jardin médiéval  2335 Le jardin médiéval, Lassay-les-ChâteauxLe jardin médiéval  2336 Le jardin médiéval, Lassay-les-ChâteauxLe jardin médiéval

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June 23 2011 5 23 /06 /June /2011 05:01

2283 West façade, Château de ValençayValençay is actually in the Berry region but it can be included with those of the Loire Valley because of its period of its construction and its huge size, in which it resembles Chambord.  Valençay was built in 1540 by Jacques d’Estampes.  He had married the daughter of a financier, who brought him a large dowry, and he wanted a residence worthy of his new fortune.  The 12th century castle was demolished and in its place rose the present building.  Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, who had begun his career under Louis XVI as Bishop of Autun, was Minister of Foreign Affairs when he bought Valençay in 1803 at the request of Napoleon, so that he would have somewhere to receive important foreign visitors.  Talleyrand managed his career so skilfully that he did not finally retire until 1834.  2238 Orangerie, Le jardin à la française, Château de ValThe railings of the entrance, with the former orangery and outbuildings were renovated in 1785 and again restored in 1805.  2240 Boutique et Billetterie, Le jardin à la française, C2240a Petit théâtre, Château de ValençayIn 1810 an exquisite theatre was inaugurated in one of the renovated outbuildings.  Restored in 1989, it is a precious example of an Empire-style theatre preserved with its sets.  2231 Château de Valençay et le jardin des RondsThe beautiful French-style gardens with its statues and fountains welcomes visitors to the château.  2272 West façade and South tower, Château de ValençayBefore entering the château’s courtyard just through the keep, I wandered alongside the 18th century south wing to take a closer look at the roof-level Mansard windows and the alternating small circular apertures called l’œil de bœuf windows.  2247 Le jardin de la Duchesse, Henri Dauvergne double-retur2246 Le jardin de la Duchesse, Château de ValençayThe double-return staircase, designed by the architect Henri Dauvergne in 1882-1883, leads to the courtyard from the small Duchess’ Garden along the eastern slope of the estate.  From these steps, there is a splendid view of the forest of Garsenland and the hunting lodge in the distance.  It was built by the architect Charles Bonnard, in 1810, and is one of the very rare examples of Italianate construction still in existence in France.  2241 Cuisines du château, Château de Valençay2244 Cuisines du château, Château de Valençay2245 Cave des vins, Château de ValençayJust beneath the 18th century wing of the château are the pantry, kitchen and wine cellar.  They are enormous and demonstrate how much Talleyrand cared about food.  His table was famous throughout Europe, notably thanks to his talented cook, Antonin Carême, whom he discovered in 1804.  2232 Le jardin à la française, Château de ValençayThe entrance pavilion is a huge building, designed like a keep, but for show not defence, with many window, harmless turrets and fancy machicolations.  2235a Château de Valençay2235 Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord Coat of Arms,The Talleyrand coat of arms hangs above the carriage entrance.  2249a Galerie et Donjon, Inner courtyard, Château de Valen2249a Galerie, Inner courtyard, Château de Valençay2248 18th Century wing and Donjon, Inner courtyard, ChâteaBeside the 16th century keep is an outdoor gallery lined with basket arches and square pillars.  It was inspired by the ones at Veuil and Villandry.  The statue of Paris as a Shepherd, attributed to Pietro Francavilla is said to have come from the Palazzo Vecchietti in Florence.  2270 Chambre XVII siècle, Donjon, Château de ValençayIn the central room of the keep, in addition to the French-style ceiling, two 17th century fresco paintings have survived: a still life depicting a basket of flowers and a picturesque landscape with a fisherman in the foreground.  2252 Grand Salon de jeux, Château de ValençayThe Grand Salon contains a remarkable collection of Empire chairs (c. 1808-1810), upholstered in tapestries worked, it is said, by the ladies of the Spanish court during their exile at Valençay.  2251 Grand Salon de jeux, Château de ValençayBehind the two columns in the room is the Empire table thought to have come from Kaunitz Palace, where Talleyrand stayed during the Congress of Vienna (1815).  Hanging on the wall is a full-length portrait of Talleyrand (1806) by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon and a portrait of Talleyrand’s mother, Marie-Victoire-Eléonore de Damas d'Antigny (1728-1809) by Joseph Chabord.  The south tower of the château was built in 1770 and is therefore referred to as the new tower.  2255 Music salon, Château de ValençayA room on the second floor houses the Music Salon.  It has fine Louis XVI panelling, a piano made by Sébastien Érard dated 1808, and a Restoration style harp.  This was just one of the apartments that belonged to the lady of the house.  This turned out not to be his wife but the wife of his nephew, Dorothée, the Duchess of Dino.  With her in the role of as Talleyrand’s chief political collaborator she also took on the duties of the perfect hostess at Valençay.  Assisted by Dorothée, Talleyrand renovated and reappointed apartments, galleries and everyday living spaces.  2258 Chambre du roi d'Espagne, Château de Valençay2259 Chambre du roi d'Espagne, Château de ValençayThe state bedchamber, known as the king’s bedchamber, on the first floor, which was occupied by Ferdinand VII of Spain for six years, was decorated with a valuable grisaille wallpaper, produced in the Dufour factory in 1816, which depicted the story of Cupid and Psyche.  Most of the mahogany furniture dates from the Empire or Restoration period.  2256 Gallery, XX siècle, Château de ValençayThe tour of the ground floor includes the great Louis XVI vestibule and the gallery devoted to the Talleyrand-Périgord family with portraits of Talleyrand’s ancestors painted by Joseph Chabord from 1817.  Empire chairs and a superb collection of 19th century neoclassical sculptures complete the decoration.  2257 Tallyrand's Bedchamber, Château de ValençayTalleyrand’s Bedchamber, on the first floor, contains Empire furniture, some of which came from his Parisian mansion, the Hôtel de Saint-Florentin, where he would later die in 1838.  There is a bust of Talleyrand on a table in the center of the room as well as showcases nearby which hold clothes, ceremonial costumes and decorations that evoke the minister’s long diplomatic career.  2260 La chambre de la Duchesse de Dino, Château de ValençAlso on the first floor is the Duchess of Dino’s Bedchamber.  It boasts an outstanding suite of mahogany furniture including a Restoration platform bed in Cuban mahogany, adorned with four columns.  On the wall, Joseph Chabord painted the full-length portrait of Dorothée, Duchess of Dino, in ceremonial dress, in 1820.  2261 La chambre de Madame de Staël, Château de ValençayThe next room on show is the Madame de Staël Bedchamber.  It is on the first floor of the new tower and owes its name to the Empire-style bed that belonged to her.  2262 La chambre de Madame de Staël, Château de ValençayThe guéridon with Egyptian motifs was designed for one of the follies in the garden, an Egyptian temple (now lost).  2263 Le bureau de Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord,In the Périgord Room is a collection of furniture that belonged to Talleyrand.  The large early 19th century secretary is said to have been a gift from Prince Murat.  Like all convertible furniture, it contains several secret drawers and hiding places.  The prince used the worktable when he acted as ambassador to London (1830-1834).  I’ve no idea who the bust on the left is.  The one on the right is of Voltaire.  2264 Blue salon, Château de Valençay3The Blue Salon contains a pair of large Chinese-style vases that were fashionable in the 19th century, flanked by a Boulle bureau inlaid with brass and tortoiseshell.  On the wall, a full-length portrait of Frederick-Augustus I of Saxony (1750-1827), who became king in 1806, was a gift from the sovereign to Talleyrand.  2265 Blue Salon, Château de Valençay4The splendid ormolu-mounted Japanned writing desk with tiered drawers seems to be an original 19th century creation in Louis XVI style attributable to Charles-Guillaume Winckelsen (1812-1871).  It was in this room that the Treaty of Valençay was signed on December 10, 1813, thirty minutes after midnight.  A clock in the room marks the historic moment.  2266 The Long Corridor and Gallery, Château de ValençayThe long gallery on the second floor serves the upstairs apartments.  It is filled with bureaus of different designs.  At the opposite end is a small room that used to be a chapel.  Today it houses a copy of Houdon’s statue of Diana.  2267 Escalier d'honneur, Château de ValençayGoing down the Staircase of Honor, one arrives at the dining room.  2268 Salle à manger, Château de Valençay2269 Salle à manger, Château de ValençayOne could seat up to 36 guests around the large mahogany table.  Louis Hersent’s portrait of Louis Philippe was a gift from the king to Talleyrand on his return from London.2280 West façade, Château de Valençay   2284 Les Pierres d'Aurèle Hotel, Saint-Georges-sur-CherLes Pierres d'Aurèle Hotel in Saint-Georges-sur-Cher was just one of the places we stayed while we were travelling around the Loire.  It’s situated in the middle of a 15-hectare vineyard from which the grapes are used to make their own wine.  2284a Les Pierres d'Aurèle Hotel, Saint-Georges-sur-CherIf you feel like it, the host will give you a wine tasting session and you can purchase a variety of reds and whites made on the property.  The rooms have wonderful views over the vineyards and it is exceptionally quiet.  2284e Les Pierres d'Aurèle Hotel, Saint-Georges-sur-Cher2288 Les Pierres d'Aurèle Hotel, Saint-Georges-sur-CherThe breakfast is served downstairs in one of the three dining rooms or, if you prefer, outside on the patio.  I guess if you plan on visiting châteaux along the river, this would be a great place to stay.2284b Les Pierres d'Aurèle Hotel, Saint-Georges-sur-Cher2284c Les Pierres d'Aurèle Hotel, Saint-Georges-sur-Cher2284d Les Pierres d'Aurèle Hotel, Saint-Georges-sur-Cher

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June 22 2011 4 22 /06 /June /2011 05:00

2226 Le Logis Renaissance et la forteresse médiévale, MonLegend has it that Montrésor owes its name to a lizard—one coming out from a grotto in the hill covered in gold.  Legend or not, this medieval town is one of the many pleasant treasures to be visited throughout the Touraine.  The rocky peak was in the 10th century the property of the treasurer of the chapter house of Tours Cathedral.  2210 Indrois et la forteresse médiévale, MontrésorAs early as 1005, Fulk Nerra, count of Anjou ordered his captain “Roger le Petit Diable” to build a powerful fortress here.  Later, it was to be the property of families with illustrious names as Chauvigny in the 12th century, Palluau in the 13th century and particularly Bueil in the 14th century.  In 1493 the estates around Montrésor became the property of Imbert de Bastarnay (Diane de Poitier’s grandfather and counsellor to Louis XI, Charles VIII, Louis XII and François I successively).  It was he who built the Renaissance château within the feudal grounds.  2205 Indrois, Le Château de Montrésor2208a Indrois, Le Château de MontrésorThe main wing remains overlooking the River Indrois.  Perhaps the best way to view the château, fortress and collegiate church is along the banks of the Indrois with its scenic walking paths that wind along the river’s edge, offering magnificent views.  2207 Indrois, Le Château de MontrésorThe château was restored and refurbished in the 19th century by the Polish Count Xavier Branicki, whose descendants still live here.  2202 Le pont du jardinier, MontrésorThis metallic footbridge called the le pont du Jardinier was installed around 1870 as part of Count Branicki’s project to join the courtyard of the château to the park below.  After the count’s death, his beautiful and expensive project was never realized.  2203 Le pont du jardinier, MontrésorThe bridge was manufactured at the famous Eiffel Works in Paris.  It creates a link between the château’s gardens on each side of the river.  2212 Le lavoir, Indrois, MontrésorPrivate or public, small or large, there used to be no less than ten washhouses spread along the riverside of Montrésor.  The first washhouse was created here at the beginning of the 20th century.  Later, around 1948, the current washhouse was built.  Working in the washhouse was hard work but it was also a convivial meeting place and ideal for catching up with the latest village gossip.  2217 Le Bief et le déversoir, Indrois, MontrésorAn overflow weir blocks the Indrois River and diverts part of its flow to the millrace.  It allows it to overflow thus ensuring that the water is kept at a constant level.  When crossing the footbridge at the foot of the weir, if the water is not too high, one can see the foundations of a much older weir in V-form.  2219 Le Bélier Hydraulique, MontrésorThe circular building along the millrace is called Le Bélier Hydraulique.  2218 Le Bélier Hydraulique, Montrésor copyA small sign explains its invention by the Montgolfier brothers, its history and use within the château’s estates.  It was installed around 1876.  2223 La halle des cardeuxWalking through the small, medieval village, one finds buildings of great character, such as the 16th century Chancellor’s House and the Halle des Cardeux covered market (1700), which now serves as a permanent arts and exhibition center.  2224 Mairie de MontrésorThe Mairie dates from 1581 and is decorated with Renaissance dormers and an échauguette tower at one corner.  2220 Une maison à colombage2221 Église Saint-RochAt the foot of the ancient fortress is the 15th century half-timbered maison à colombage as well as the remains of the ancient church of St-Roch, now someone’s home.  2214 La collégiale St Jean Baptiste, Montrésor2215a La collégiale St Jean Baptiste, Montrésor2215b La collégiale St Jean Baptiste, MontrésorImbert de Bastarnay erected the Collégiale St-Jean Baptiste to shelter his family’s burial vault.  He died in 1523 at the age of 85 and the church was completed around 1541.  2215c La collégiale St Jean Baptiste, MontrésorIt is quite a gem and houses a 17th century Annunciation by Philippe de Champaigne.  An elegant pointed steeple about 35 meters high surmounts the building, which is 34 meters long.  2215 La collégiale St Jean Baptiste, MontrésorIn bad condition during the 19th century, due to a lack of money, the town council had a small steeple constructed but it took a gift from Count Xavier Branicki in 1875 to see the steeple spire rebuilt with neo-Gothic wood panelling.  During the restoration in the 20th century the wood panelling was removed in favor of slate facing. 

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