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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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September 20 2010 2 20 /09 /September /2010 07:57

September 18 and 19 was the 27th Journées européennes du patrimoine (European Heritage Days) and the theme this year was “Great Men and Women Who Helped Make History”.  Places that are not usually open to the public are open during these two days.  Many of them include spectacular mansions, gardens, churches, castles and museums.  Although most of these places have been classified as historical monuments, there are a great many in need of restoration.  014 Parc du château de la Germonière, Le Vast014a Parc du château de la Germonière, Le VastOne of these was the Château de la Germonière in Le Vast.  Vast comes from the latin word “vastum” meaning uncultivated, wasteland or even deserted.  That is not the case in this instance, where it can also mean woody.  Le Vast is the only town in France to bear this name although there are many towns in the region that share components of it—Hardinvast, Martinvast, Sottevast, Tollevast, Brillevast, Pépinvast, Vasteville—to name several.  These towns belonged to the forest of Brix which extended up to what is now Quettehou.  018 Parc du château de la Germonière, Le Vast021 Les Cascades, Parc du château de la Germonière, Le VaThe river of La Saire meanders through the picturesque towns and the surrounding countryside toward the sea.  The area was once famous for its 37 mills most of which were used to make flour.  However, there were several others in the region including three oil presses and two which were used in the manufacture of cotton thread and fabric.  At their peak, the mills provided work for over 600 people in the region.  The cotton and thread mill in Le Vast was established in 1795 by Philippe Fentenilliat.  In 1886 a fire destroyed the mill and it was never rebuilt.  014b Les Cascades, Parc du château de la Germonière, Le VLes Cascades du Vast are all that remain from this period and provides a tranquil scene for those discovering the surrounding park and château.  007b Parc du château de la Germonière, Le Vastt007c Parc du château de la Germonière, Le VastThe château was originally the Fentenilliat home built in 1803.  In 1894 the architect Alfred Trollier rehabilitated the area by adding two side wings to the residence creating a château from the once bourgeois cottage.  006c Parc du château de la Germonière, Le Vast006d Parc du château de la Germonière, Le Vast006e Parc du château de la Germonière, Le Vast006f Parc du château de la Germonière, Le VastHe also tailored the surrounding lands to create an attractive park setting around les cascades.  The name Louis Rangeard de La Germonière is attached to the château and park because he once lived here and was the town’s mayor before he died in 1887.  Here's a photo of the local Mairie:033 Mairie du VastMost people who visit Le Vast come to see the cascades which aren’t all that spectacular but are certainly enjoyable in the midst of the tranquil park.  Even famous artists have come to Le Vast to find inspiration such as Maurice Pigeon, Jac Lem and Robert Leboucher.  047 L'église Notre Dame du Vast040 L'église Notre Dame du Vast037a L'église Notre Dame du Vast045 L'église Notre Dame du VastThe magnificent Église Notre-Dame dates from the 14th century and has a stained glass window above the altar that dates as far back as the 15th century.043 L'église Notre Dame du Vast044 L'église Notre Dame du Vast

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Published by The Baguette - in Le Val de Saire
September 10 2010 6 10 /09 /September /2010 21:10

184 Le châtelet, Château de CarrougesFor almost five centuries this immense château, set in a 25 acre park, belonged to a famous Norman family, Le Veneur de Tilliéres; in 1936 it was bought by the nation.  From the 12th century to the 15th century the château was the seat of the Blosset and Carrouges families.  During the Hundred Years War the lords of Carrouges remained loyal vassals of the King of France.  185 Le châtelet, Château de Carrouges189t Château de Carrouges252 Le châtelet, Château de CarrougesThe 16th century gatehouse which marks the north entry to the estate is an elegant brick building with decorative geometric patterns.  Four slender towers, with pepper-pot roofs and narrow dormer windows flank the gatehouse.  It was commissioned by Jean Le Veneur.  The black and red brick ornamentation allows one to date the edifice between 1505 and 1533 when Jean Le Veneur became a Roman Catholic cardinal.  190 Le Veneur ironworks, Château de Carrouges190a le Veneur ironworks, Château de CarrougesThe Le Veneur family made most of their money through ironworks.  Jean Le Veneur created the Carrouges forge around 1540.  The most spectacular work from the forge is most visible at the grand gateway, its surrounding railing and the ornate south gate.  Operated with uneven success, the Carrouges forge remained active until 1854.  189a Grand Apartments Wing, Château de Carrouges189b Grand Apartments Wing, Château de Carrouges189 Château de Carrouges189c Blosset Wing, Château de Carrouges189e Blosset Wing, Château de Carrouges189s Château de Carrouges189f Interior Court, Château de Carrouges“The interior of the château is at least as expressive as the façades.  Here resides great simplicity of olden times, conspiring with bombastic magnificence.  The hallways are covered in lime, whilst the ceremonial chambers are highly embellished…” (Jean de La Varende, En parcourant la Normandie, 1953).  198 Kitchen, Château de Carrouges199 Kitchen, Château de CarrougesThe first part of my tour began in the kitchen.  It presents an imposing array of copperware utensils in part from the 18th century.  After leaving the kitchen, the tour guide led us up the spiral staircase of the Blosset wing (which also serves the right-angled, occupied wing) to the second floor.  201 Louis XI Bed Chamber, Château de CarrougesThe first room on this floor is the Louis XI bed chamber.  Its name evokes the king’s visit on 11 August 1473, on his pilgrimage to Mont-Saint-Michel.  Its present décor was installed in the mid­-17th century.  The imposing 15th century chimneypiece is partially concealed by a frame of polychrome-and-gilt sculpted wood, very typical of the 1650s.  203 Louis XI Bed Chamber, Château de CarrougesTwo windows light the room.  The interior shutters are left half-open so that the visitor might appreciate the refined quality of the decorated woodwork: charming, chubby-cheeked cupids and foliage painted on small panelled woodwork.  202 Louis XI Bed Chamber, Château de CarrougesThis décor contrasts with wainscoting panels that cover the walls and are ornamented with foliage and laurel leaves.  200 Louis XI Bed Chamber, Château de CarrougesThe 17th century furnishings—tables, stools, chairs—are completed by a chest and a canopied bed with curtains garnished with a fabric of alternating stripes of velvet.  They are reproductions of furniture said originally to have been in this room.  207 North Salon, Château de Carrouges205 North Salon, Château de CarrougesUpon leaving Louis XI’s bed chamber, one follows the corridor to reach the north salon which occupies the center of the Blosset wing.  During its last restoration in the 1980s, female portraits (Le Veneur women or close relatives) were reunited here.  Like most of the furniture presented in the rooms, the family portraits were acquired by the State in 1936 at the same time as the château.  The 18th century furniture (chairs, commodes, Turkish bed) soften the severity of the room’s architectural elements which are quite plain, painted in pink and white.  Terra-cotta tiling covers the floor.  Take a look out of the window at the beautiful gatehouse.  206 View from the North Salon, Château de CarrougesIn leaving this room one continues along the corridor to reach the Ceremonial Antechamber.  208 Ceremonial Antechamber, Château de CarrougesThe fireplace here dates from the 15th century.  By mid-17th century, the room was decorated with painted stars and sculpted motifs applied on the beams which span the ceiling.  210 Jacob at the well by Sébastien de la Planche, CeremoniThe tapestry representing Jacob at the Well was acquired in 1986 and bears the mark of Sébastien de la Planche, director of the Parisian Faubourg Saint-Germain Workshop in the mid-1600s.  Handsome Renaissance and 17th century furnishings (chests, chairs, table and armoire) enliven this room whose floor is decorated with hexagonal terra-cotta paving tiles.  212 East Staircase, Château de Carrouges213 East Staricase, Château de CarrougesAdjacent to the Blosset wing is the East Staircase.  It was completed in 1579 and is entirely built in brick with granite pillars and rails.  It does not appear to be made of brick because of the original painted plaster (paradoxically covering real brick).  It was reserved for the suite of the Le Veneur private apartments.  At the end of the 18th century it was used by the domestics of the château for dining-room duty.  217 Dining Room, Château de CarrougesThe dining room was installed permanently around 1787.  Until then, no room served a particular dining function, the table being set up according to needs.  On the large mahogany table is set the surtout in gilt bronze, cut crystal and glass.  These belonged to General Alexis Paul Michel Tanneguy Le Veneur de Tillières who was responsible for many of the changes within the château during the 18th and 19th century.  216 Dining Room, Château de CarrougesThe monumental chimneypiece is from the late 16th century in Maine marble, polished granite and limestone.  The walls are painted in a rag-finish whitewash with marbling.  215 Tapestry of Abraham and the Three Strangers by SébastiThe tapestry, again by Sébastien de la Planche, represents Abraham and the Three Strangers.  214 Dining Room, Château de CarrougesBetween two niches for water fountains are the paired portraits of Marie Blosset and Philippe Le Veneur.  They face those of Anne Le Veneur and François de Fiesque, her husband.  The floor is paved in terra-cotta which comes from the city of Argentan.  223 Summer Salon, Château de CarrougesThe next room is called the Summer Room and derives its name from the fact that it does not have a fireplace.  It is the smallest room on the floor and highly intimate.  A recent restoration transformed it into a charming little games room enlivened by walls covered in “domino” wallpaper with large Louis XVI motifs.  220 Summer Salon, Domino wallpaper, Château de Carrouges219 Summer Salon, Domino wallpaper, Château de CarrougesThe squares that make up the “domino” wallpaper were all hand-painted and assembled during a recent restoration.  221 Summer Salon, Domino wallpaper, Château de Carrouges218 Summer Salon, Château de CarrougesFurniture of the 18th century (commode, secretaries, hot-water bottle table, desk with table top for backgammon with a double-sided board for checkers and chess) complements the fine ensemble of chairs.  The pastel portraits present members of the family living in the 18th century.  222 Queen Marie Leszczinska, Summer Salon, Château de CarrThat of Queen Marie Leszczinska, by Jean-Marc Nattier, was offerd by the queen to Charles-Jean-François Hénault, uncle of one of the Le Veneur ladies.  The parquet is laid out in a herring-bone pattern called “point de Hongrie”.  224 Portrait Salon, Château de CarrougesThe next room is called the Portrait Salon where fourteen Le Veneur generations are reunited in a presentation executed in the early 1950s, in continuity with the family tradition.  225 Portrait Salon, Château de CarrougesAs was the case with most of the other house portraits, on them General Le Veneur had inscribed the name and titles of each of his ancestors.  Most of the personages also figure in the other rooms.  For a long time this room served as a ceremonial chamber where General Le Veneur would spend much of his time.  226 Portrait Salon, Château de CarrougesThe granite chimneypiece with polychrome designs retains its 17th century vividness.  Walls are painted in matching colors imitating cloth.  Furniture is disposed around the circumference of the space as was the tradition when it was not in use.  The chairs, 19th century copies, are in Louis XIII style.  227 Joseph Interpreting Pharaoh's Dream by Sébastien de laThe third tapestry of hangings from Sébastien de la Planche’s workshop features Joseph Interpreting the Dream of Pharaoh.  230 Grand Salon, Château de CarrougesThe room with immense proportions called the Grand Salon was created during the course of the 19th century by the unification of two salons whose wall partition was removed.   Illuminated on three sides, it benefits from full sunlight which accentuates the pale yellow tones of the small-panelled wainscoting.  229 Grand Salon, Château de CarrougesA granite chimneypiece, slightly austere, was retained while another chimney, situated between the two cabinets (study doors), disappeared under wall panelling.  Behind in the recesses of the south pavilion, three cabinets (for resting, reading, writing, confidences…) were built in.  231 Grand Salon, Château de CarrougesThe one shown here imitates a miniature study.  Furniture of the 17th and 18th century decorate the space.  Gaming tables and chairs are scattered about as though ready to receive guests.  228 Grand Salon, Château de CarrougesThe standing portrait of Cardinal Jean Le Veneur faces king Louis XIV, the latter displayed over the mantel.  The Grand Salon was serviced by the Ceremonial Staircase at the south corner of the château.  235 Ceremonial Staircase, Château de CarrougesIt assures the junction between the “grand apartments” wing and that of the “gallery”.  Like the East Staircase, it was once covered in painted plaster.  This was removed in the 1960s to reveal the bricks.  235a Ceremonial Staircase, Château de CarrougesThe best view of its twisting, square flights can be seen from the bottom floor looking straight up.  236 Festival Hall, Château de CarrougesCarrouges is one of the rare châteaux to possess a hall for theater.  The largest and only two-story room of the house, 20 meters long by 7 meters wide, the hall occupies the entire gallery wing between the west bastion and south pavilion.  237 Festival Hall, Château de CarrougesAt the end of the 18th century, it was General Le Veneur who undertook the creation of a theater hall.  To give it volume, the upper story was knocked down.  Mouldings to frame the large panels, window clamps and partition ornaments are the sole elements surviving from the original décor which perhaps included curtains or painted canvas on the wall and a plastered ceiling with moulded frame.  238 Festival Hall, Château de CarrougesDuring the 1980s restoration, a choice was made to use chestnut wood on the ceiling forming a basket-handle arch.  At the rear opens the Salon Pompadour, “foyer” of the theater; above is located the platform for musicians.  It is still used for small concerts and recitals.  253 Jardin, Château de CarrougesOutside across the moat from the south west wing is the manicured boxwood and rose garden known as a parterre de broderie.  It was restored in 1989 based on plans drawn up in 1711.  One exits the estate the way one came in : past the chapter houses and through the gatehouse.187 Chapter Houses, Château de Carrouges183 Le châtelet, Château de Carrouges 

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Published by The Baguette - in Orne
September 10 2010 6 10 /09 /September /2010 10:35

165 Hôtel de Ville de Bagnoles-de-l'Orne (2)Reading about Bagnoles-de-l’Orne in the Michelin Green Guide did NOT inspire me to want to visit.  I was disappointed in the book’s description of the town and I thought that there would be very little to see and do.  I expressed this feeling to my father when I spoke to him on the telephone before going on my trip.  He told me: “Every town has something interesting to see—you just need to know where to look.”  How right he was!  Unable to find a decent place to spend the night in Alençon, I booked a room at the № 1 rated Bagnoles Hôtel with its spectacular view overlooking the fountain at Place Méliodon.  160 Place Méliodon161 Place MéliodonBagnoles-de-l’Orne is an extraordinarily lively town with charm and character located in an idyllic setting surrounded by the Andaines Forest.  It is the largest spa in western France.  In addition to the healing waters, the countryside itself inspires well-being, and the lovely lakeside setting invites calm.  154 Autour du lac, Bagnoles-de-l'Orne152 Autour du lac, Bagnoles-de-l'OrneThe lake is formed by the Vée, a tributary of the Mayenne, before it enters a deep gorge cut through the massif of the Andaines Forest.  According to legend, rather than kill his horse Rapide, when it grew old, Hugues de Tessé abandoned it in the forest.  Some time later he was surprised to see Rapide return to her stable strong and revitalized.  He tracked the hoof marks to a spring where the horse had bathed and bathed in it himself and found similar rejuvenating effects.  Over the years, the spa became one of the favorite vacation destinations for the rich and famous.  150a Maison Style Belle époque, Bagnoles-de-l'Orne148 Maison Style Belle époque, Bagnoles-de-l'Orne150 Maison Style Belle époque, Bagnoles-de-l'OrneThe Belle Époque Quarter in Bagnoles-de-l'Orne exemplifies this with many upper-class residential homes built between 1886 and 1914.  The superb villas with polychrome façades have bow windows and unique roofing.  The rest of the town has similar architecture as well as some spectacular Art Deco buildings.  134 L’église du Sacré Cœur, Église Saint-Jean-Baptist135 L’église du Sacré Cœur, Église Saint-Jean-BaptistThe Église-Saint-Jean-Baptiste was built in 1934 by architect Olivier Michelin.  Inside, its stained-glass windows all are based on the theme of water.  138 L’église du Sacré Cœur, Église Saint-Jean-Baptist136 L’église du Sacré Cœur, Église Saint-Jean-BaptistAppropriately, there is a fabulous window inspired by the Gospel of John, Chapter 5 where there is a description of an angel blessing the Pool of Bethesda, giving it healing powers.  156 Le Casino, Bagnoles-de-l'OrneAlong the lake is the Casino du Lac built in 1927 by architect Albert Bluysen.  Both buildings are in romantic settings and blend flawlessly into the greenery of the surrounding forest.  After World War I, Bagnoles-de-l’Orne became a popular tourist destination and large hotels were built near the thermal springs and around the picturesque lake.  142 Les Thermes, Bagnoles-de-l'Orne143 Les Thermes, Bagnoles-de-l'Orne145 Les Thermes, Bagnoles-de-l'OrneSeveral buildings along the Vée are known collectively as Les Thermes and are the main attraction for patients seeking treatment for circulatory disorders, glandular disorders, phlebitis and even varicose veins.  Don’t miss out on the hike up the Roc au Chien which offers a beautiful view of the lake below.  146 Le Roc au Chien, Bagnoles-de-l'OrneIt is also the name of a small hotel at the base of the cliff.  A stroll through the surrounding park leads to an even larger park where the Hôtel de Ville is located in the former Château de Goupil.  162 Hôtel de Ville de Bagnoles-de-l'Orne163 Hôtel de Ville de Bagnoles-de-l'Orne161b Hôtel de Ville de Bagnoles-de-l'OrneIt was built in 1859 at the demand of Anne-Marie Goupil to honor her husband Louis and his brother Jean whose mausoleum can be found behind the château.  169 Mausolée des frères Jean et Louis Goupil, Bagnoles-de171 Mausolée des frères Jean et Louis Goupil, Bagnoles-deThe branches of two very large trees reach out to one another as if the brothers wished to be joined again throughout eternity.  My stay in Bagnoles-de-l’Orne went beyond my expectations and I wish that I could have stayed longer.  158 Autour du lac, Bagnoles-de-l'OrneDespite being adorned with spectacular floral displays throughout the town, I hear that Bagnoles-de-l'Orne is at its most colourful during the fall.

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Published by The Baguette - in Orne
September 9 2010 5 09 /09 /September /2010 08:44

088 Le pont sur la Sarthe, Saint-Céneri-le-GéreiSaint-Céneri-le-Gérei, a village built on a rocky spur overlooking the river Sarthe near Alençon and the Alpes Mancelles, is one of themost beautiful in France.  It was founded 1044 by William Giroie, who built a castle here.  Unfortunately, little remains of the walls today.  The place is named for Serenicus (Céneri), an Italian hermit who lived here in the 8th century.  When he died, a monastery was built but later destroyed by the Normans in 903.  Legends abound about the life of the monk Céneri.  Aren't legends fun?  In his youth, accompanied by his brother Céneré, he moved to Rome to be in the Pope's service where he entered the Benedictine order. Five years later, a vision ordered him to go west. The two brothers crossed the Alps in 659 and arrived in Saulges in the diocese of Le Mans.  117a La fontaine miraculeuse, Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei (2)There they stayed until 689 when Céneri and a disciple, Flavard undertook a journey through the Alpes Mancelles during summer.  Upon arrival at the edge of a beautiful river skirting a rocky promontory they decided to rest.  Exhausted and thirsty, Céneri asked God for aid.  A miraculous spring suddenly appeared along the side of a hill.   Since then, the spring has never stopped flowing and a stone fountain was built around it.  The water is said to have healing properties and can cure certain eye diseases.  118a La Sarthe, Saint-Céneri-le-GéreiAnother legend tells of a time when the river Sarthe was flooding and Céneri and some travellers wished to cross.  Again, Céneri asked for God’s help.  Suddenly, the river stopped flowing and everyone was able to cross the river.  This section of the river was a favorite spot for Céneri and he built a small hut out of branches where he maintained a quiet existence as a hermit.  As the reputation of Céneri’s holiness grew, disciples joined him and a thriving Benedictine community of 140 monks took hold.  In 669, Céneri began construction of a wooden church at the top of the rocky promontory.  He died on May 7, 670 before the completion of the church.  119 La chapelle, Saint-Céneri-le-GéreiIn the early 15th century La chapelle St-Céneri was built at the same location as his small hut.  Its simple Gothic style fits perfectly into the pastoral landscape.  Sadly, it was closed on the day I visited but inside is an interesting statue of Saint-Céneri.  107 L'église Saint-Céneri-le-GéreiTradition says that girls wishing to marry should stick a needle in the dress of the saint.  If the needle remains stuck in the stone, their wish would be granted within the year.  116 La chapelle, Saint-Céneri-le-GéreiA granite stone lies on the ground and may have served as St-Ceneri’s bed.  Two other traditions are associated with this.  Children with incontinence can be cured if they lie down on the stone.  The other tradition says that if young women desiring to be pregnant lie on the stone they would be granted a birth within the year.  099a L'église Saint-Céneri-le-GéreiThe Romanesque church on the hill was built in the late 11th century by the family Giroie which gave the village its name.  Inside the church, one first notes the contrast between the walls of the nave and choir.  099d L'église Saint-Céneri-le-GéreiDone in the Romanesque style, the paintings that cover the walls are of the 14th and 15th centuries while the oldest dates to the 12th century. These frescoes, covered in 1650 under a coating of plaster and lime were again restored and revealed in 1856.  105 L'église Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei106 L'église Saint-Céneri-le-GéreiTwo painting on either side of the choir are of angels in flight.  They wear  white dresses with wings made from the feathers of a peacock.  The four branches of the crosses they carry are made of lilies lined in brown and gold.  100 L'église Saint-Céneri-le-GéreiThe elliptical ceiling of the apse occupies the figure of Christ in Majesty.  It is interesting in its anatomical features reminiscent of 4th century paintings with the base of his nose being too close to the chin and the mouth being painted very thin.  101 L'église Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei103 L'église Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei104 L'église Saint-Céneri-le-GéreiOther Romanesque frescoes and designs abound throughout the choir including the lion, traditional symbol of St-Mark.  Outside the church along the wall of the apse, is a hive of bees which have made their home here since 898.  Soldiers who came to conquer the town showed great disrespect by placing their camp over the tomb of St-Céneri.  111 Les abeilles, L'église Saint-Céneri-le-GéreiThe infuriated bees chased the soldiers until every one of them jumped off the cliff to their deaths.  Since then, the bees have protected the town.  It was in 1886 that the church was classified a historic monument.  098 Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei097a Auberge Moisy, la salle des décapités, Saint-CéneriAuberge Moisy houses “la salle des décapités” with the walls of a room covered with portraits in Chinese shadow by painters of the 19th century.  097b Auberge Des Peintres, Auberge Des Peintres, Saint-CénAnother home called l’Auberge des Peintres is decorated with works of art by famous artists who visited the village for inspiration in their work.  092 Le pont sur la Sarthe, Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei096 Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei098a Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei098b Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei098e Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei093 Le Moulin à Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei en bord de SartheOf course one of the best photos is of the stone bridge which covers the Sarthe.  The many old stone homes including the old mill along the Sarthe give this village its unique charm.

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Published by The Baguette - in Orne
September 8 2010 4 08 /09 /September /2010 11:19

062c La Maison d'Ozé, Alençon - CopyJust like every other town of note that I have visited during my time in France, Alençon also claims to be one of the principle lace-making cities in Europe.  Well, this may be true but once you’ve seen lace-making in one town, like me, you’ve seen enough lace to last a lifetime!  On that note, my visit to Alençon was mainly due to its close affiliation with Ste- Thérèse of Lisieux and her parents Louis and Marie- Azélie Guérin Martin.  It was on the 2 of January 1873 that Thérèse was born here in the small house at 50 rue St-Blaise.  063 La Maison natale de Sainte-Thérèse, AlençonShe spent her early childhood years in this home until the death of her mother in 1877.  Zélie and Louis were married at the Basilique Notre-Dame on 12 July 1858.  They were also the first spouses in the history of the Catholic Church to be proposed for sainthood as a couple, in 2008.  For those Catholic pilgrims following in the footsteps of the Martin family, the home on rue St-Blaise is definitely worth the visit.  064 Église Sainte-Thérèse, AlençonThe Chapelle Ste-Thérèse, just beside their home, was built between 1925 and 1928 and decorated with sculptures and frescoes referring to Ste-Thérèse.  The new altar and the reliquary of her Blessed parents are contemporary creations.  Coincidentally, two days after we visited Alençon, Monday, September 6th was the centenary of the first exhumation of the relics of Ste-Thérèse.  They were exhumed from her grave in the Carmelite plot at the municipal cemetery at Lisieux.  (For anyone interested in the story of this event, you can read the story and view old records and photos at Maureen O'Riordan’s blog.)  068 La Préfecture, Hôtel Fromont de la Besnardière, HôDirectly across the street is the Préfecture building built in 1630 in pure Louis XIII style with a pink brick façade with surrounding bays and cornerstones in Hertré granite.  It also goes by the names Hôtel Fromont de la Besnardière (the family who built it) and Hôtel de Guise (from Elisabeth d’Orléans, duchesse de Guise, who lived there in the 17th century).  062a La Maison d'Ozé, AlençonJust beside the Basilique Notre-Dame is La Maison d’Ozé built in 1449.  A stately home at the outset, the house was refurbished in 1530.  The gothic style building then received a new wing on the left and a pointed turret decorated with ears of wheat.  It is alleged that the future Henry IV stayed here in 1576.  062d La Maison d'Ozé et la basilique Notre-Dame d'AlençonAt the bottom of the adjoining garden there are vestiges of the outer walls of the town which provide an excellent spot to photograph the church.  The tourist office can also be found here on the lower level.  The beautiful 14th to 16th century Flamboyant Gothic church of Our Lady was begun during the Hundred Years War under the period of English domination on the site of a Romanesque church which belonged to Lonlay Abbey.  Later, the church suffered from some alterations.  062s La basilique Notre-Dame d'Alençon062u La basilique Notre-Dame d'Alençon062v La basilique Notre-Dame d'Alençon (2)According to different sources it is said that the portal was greatly damaged during the Wars of Religion.  The chancel and transepts, dominated by the robust tower, were rebuilt between 1745 and 1762 by an engineer named Jean-Rodolphe Perronet, after damages caused by lightning in 1744.  During the French Revolution the church was sacked and devastated.  062f La basilique Notre-Dame d'AlençonThe church did not suffer from the 1944 bombings but the storms of 1999 weakened some parts of the porch which was restored in 2002.  This elegant three-sided porch, built by Jean Lemoine from 1490 to 1506, is an example of the purest Flamboyant style.  The refinement and splendor of the sculptures were such that they gave rise to a popular saying: “The church is built in such a way that, in order to give God the best spot, you’d have to place him out of doors….”  062g La basilique Notre-Dame d'AlençonAll the decoration is concentrated on the upper parts of the church.  The Transfiguration in the central gable shows Christ with the prophets Moses and Elijah.  Below are the apostles, Peter, James and John who uncharacteristically may be seen with his back to the street.  062l Chapelle Saint Thérèse, La basilique Notre-Dame d'AlThe first chapel off of the north aisle, with its attractive wrought-iron screen adorned with symbolic roses, is where Marie-Françoise- Thérèse Martin was baptised.  062m Chapelle Saint Thérèse, La basilique Notre-Dame d'AlThe stained-glass window created in 1925 by Louis Barillet portrays her baptism.  Above the font is her white embroidered christening robe.  062r La basilique Notre-Dame d'Alençon - CopyThe magnificent organ case inaugurated at Easter 1540 was created by Simon Le Vasseur and Gratien de Cailly.  It was restored and improved in the 17th century and again in the 19th century.  A restoration of the vault in 1966 caused a great deal of damage to the organ causing it to go silent in 1976.  Currently, there are plans to bring it back to life at the hefty cost of 715,000 €!  081 L’église Saint-Léonard, AlençonThere are several other places of interest in the city including the 15th – 16th century Gothic Église Saint-Léonard. 082a Hôtel de Ville, AlençonThere is also the Hôtel de Ville at Place Foch, built in the shape of an arc from 1783 to 1788 by the architect Jean Delarue in the Louis XVI style.  Its façade is similar to the Petit Trianon at Versailles.  085 Le château des Ducs et Palais du Justice, AlençonThe Ancien Château des Ducs was once a powerful fortress built during the 12th century.  One can see the 14th and 15th century towers of this old castle built by Jean le Beau, first Duke of Alençon and one of Joan of Arc’s companions in arms.  The central tower, known as the “crowned” tower, has an unexpected outline: the main tower with machicolations is itself crowned by a slimmer round tower.  083 Le château des Ducs, AlençonThe other two towers, which defend the main gate, can be seen from the rue du Château.  Can you believe that it is still used as a prison?  069 La Halle aux Toiles, AlençonLa Halle aux Toiles or Cloth Hall is a market built in 1827.  The first stone was laid September 7, 1827 by Marie- Thérèse Charlotte of France, Duchess of Angouleme, daughter of Louis XVI.  It came into service in early 1832 and featured the burgeoning hemp cloth industry which was being growing up around the city.  In 1865 with the decline of the canvas, the building changed its function and in 1899 became a ballroom.  It was renovated and renamed "Cloth Hall" in 1991 and serves as a convention center for the city.  087 La Halle aux Blés, AlençonThe enormous Halle aux Blés was built at the beginning of the 19th century.  It was a circular grain market and was covered towards the end of the century with a glass dome which appealed so much to the ladies of the town that they nicknamed it the hoopskirt of Alençon.  Time issues prevented me from seeing other sites in the city such as the Musée des Beaux-Arts et de la Dentelle located in the former 17th century former Jesuit college.  It houses a large museum featuring paintings from the 15th to 19th century as well as an enormous presentation to the art of lace making.  Like I already said though, once you’ve seen one lace museum, you’ve seen them all.  After finding where I parked the car, it was on to one of France’s most beautiful villages, Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei.

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Published by The Baguette - in Orne
September 6 2010 2 06 /09 /September /2010 19:10

028a La cathédrale Notre-Dame de SéesSées has been the seat of an episcopal see since St-Lautin converted the region to Christianity in 440 and became the first bishop.  The quiet cathedral town has some of the finest examples of 13th and 14th century Norman Gothic architecture.  This was my second stop on my weekend trip around the Orne Department.  After parking the car, I tried finding one of the first places noted in my guidebook, the Ancienne Abbaye St-Martin.  Instead, I got hopelessly lost and found myself even farther from the center of town where the famous Saturday market was in full swing.  032 Le Lavoir, SéesMuch to my delight, I came across a restored medieval lavoir along the river Orne.  From there I had a splendid view of la cathédrale de Notre Dame de Sées with its 70 meter high towers visible from all around.  027 La cathédrale Notre-Dame de Sées028b La cathédrale Notre-Dame de Sées028c La cathédrale Notre-Dame de SéesThis cathedral was built between 1210 and 1310.  The west front is pierced by a large porch which is unfortunately disfigured by heavy buttresses; they were added in the 16 century when the west front began to lean alarmingly, owing to poor foundations on unstable ground.  Inside, the great arches of the nave are separated by cornerstones adorned with fretted roses.  028m La cathédrale Notre-Dame de SéesThe nave sided with aisles, has seven bays among which the first one, near the towers, was walled up to strengthen the building.  028k La cathédrale Notre-Dame de SéesThis bay supports the organ loft and houses the great organ by famous 18th century organ maker Claude Parisot.  028j La cathédrale Notre-Dame de SéesThe well was discovered in 1880, during the restoration of the pavement of the aisles.  The architect, Victor Ruprich-Robert, repaired it and decorated the stone in a Romanesque style.  Such wells could often be seen in churches during the Middle Ages.  In addition to the symbolic explanation of water as a source of life, it can’t be doubted that this also helped in the building of the cathedral.  It also helped those who, using the right of sanctuary of the House of God, needed water.  028h La cathédrale Notre-Dame de SéesIn the southern transept, one should admire the statue of the Virgin, Our Lady of Sées.  This marble statue miraculously escaped all the plunderings of the cathedral since the 14 century.  One can admire the graceful movement of the Virgin.  As for the child, in his hand, he is holding the world as small as an apple.  He seems to be playing with his mother’s veil while smiling gently to her.  028f La cathédrale Notre-Dame de SéesOpposite the statue is a fine marble bust of Christ teaching, carved in the 18th century by Jacques Caffieri.  028g La cathédrale Notre-Dame de SéesBuilt into the wall is an original 14th century stone altar of polychrome featuring the Deposition of Christ.  There are five apsidal chapels : the Saint Mary Magdalene Chapel, the Saint Augustine Chapel, the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament (Our Lady’s Chapel), Saint Nicolas Chapel and the Saint Godegrand Chapel.  028d La cathédrale Notre-Dame de SéesIn this last chapel, one can find stained-glass windows that were remade after the fire of 1375.  One particular window features the Drapers of Sées offering a stained-glass window to the church.  028e La cathédrale Notre-Dame de SéesBefore leaving the cathedral, take another look at the choir.  How amazing to think that in 1880, it was in such a dangerous state that it had to be completely taken apart and rebuilt stone by stone !  This gigantic work lasted for 15 years, but it was such a success that even before it was restored the well-known architect Eugène Violet-Leduc said, “Thanks to the purity of its lines and its lightness, the choir of Sées is perhaps the masterpiece of the 13th century French architecture.”  033 Ancien Évêché, Le Palais d'Argentré, SéesThe Palace of Argentré (also known as the Ancien évêché) is a former episcopal palace, built in 1778 for Monseigneur d’Argentré, who was both a bishop and the elected mayor of Sées.  It is the work of the architect Joseph Brousseau and one of the most beautiful specimens of neo-classical architecture in Normandy.  It boasts a walled-in northern garden and a southern garden (currently undergoing a major restoration) along which the river Orne flows.  035 Hôtel de Ville, SéesIn front of the Hôtel de ville (which also houses the tourist office) is a bust of Nicolas-Jacques Conté, one of the city’s most famous residents.  Did you know that he was the inventor of the modern pencil ?  Near the early afternoon, I purchased a baguette for lunch and rested on the steps of la halle aux grains to prepare for my next stop later in the day to Alençon.  057 Les anciennes halles, SéesLa halle aux grains is an unusual covered market having a rotunda with a peristyle (columned porch).  The timber-work roof is supported by columns of stone and dates from the early 19th century.059 Les anciennes halles, Sées

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Published by The Baguette - in Orne
September 6 2010 2 06 /09 /September /2010 05:49

001 Château d'O à MortréeIt hardly seems possible that another summer has come and gone.  Yet, the warm weather, uncharacteristic of the region has managed to linger on into this first week of September.  Before I return to my French class on the 13th, I wanted to take advantage of what little time I had left before the seemingly endless chill of fall and winter sets in around me.  One of the many places in the Orne Department that I visited over the weekend was the Château d’O near Mortrée.  It is a private residence and is only opened one month out of the year.  Entry is free to the visitor.  Despite its true nature as a château “d’eau” which is surrounded by water, the name Château d’O derives from the O family who began its construction in 1484.  The château is built on stilts on an island in the middle of a pond.  017 Château d'O à MortréeThe calm water of the moat reflects the gracefulness and imaginative style of the early Renaissance Norman architects.  022 Château d'O à MortréeThe château consists of three ranges of buildings framing a courtyard which is open on the north side facing the moat, gardens, orangery and 19th century chapel.024 Chapelle, Château d'O à Mortrée006 Château d'O à MortréeThe east wing is the oldest part of the château (late 15th century).  The Gothic core is decorated with new motifs of the French Renaissance.  Wide windows open to the park.  The ornamentation is particularly delicate in the inner courtyard.  The many sloping roofs, the slim turrets and the walls patterned in brick and stone make a charming ensemble.  The 16th century south wing consists of a floor with large window bays over an arcade divided by slim columns decorated with ermines, the emblem of the house of O.  009 Château d'O à Mortrée011 Château d'O à Mortrée013 Château d'O à MortréeNo photos are allowed inside the château.  There is no souvenir shop offering postcards or guidebooks either.  Instead, one must rely entirely on information found on the internet or from the person showing the property (not a proper tourguide).  The long mirrored hallway of the south wing is reminiscent of Versailles.  It leads to the first of two rooms on display for the public.  The sitting room has recently been restored and depicts over a dozen Greek statues painted in trompe l’oeil along light blue walls.  The second room is commonly referred to as the marble room despite the fact it contains no real marble.  Instead, the walls are painted in earth tone hues using a faux marbling technique.  008 Château d'O à MortréeThe west wing which dates from the reign of Henri IV, is built of brick and stone and decorated with carved medallions.  The downstairs room of the west wing has a fully functional kitchen that includes an original “potager” (a sort of oven in which one could simmer meat stews and conserves).  It is entirely decorated with numerous copperware utensils in part from the 18th century.  The abundant tile work is made of an intricate blue ink on white background design.  015 Château d'O à Mortrée004 Dovecote, Château d'O à Mortrée018 Orangerie, Château d'O à Mortrée021 Orangerie, Château d'O à Mortrée020 Château d'O à Mortrée019 Jardin, Château d'O à MortréeAll of the buildings belonging to the Château d’O are registered as historical landmarks including the farmhouses, the dovecote, orangery and the elegant winter garden laid out in the shape of Saint Andrew’s cross.

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Published by The Baguette - in Orne
September 2 2010 5 02 /09 /September /2010 07:09

Carteret

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Published by The Baguette - in Sea
August 27 2010 6 27 /08 /August /2010 10:53

Daniel Tosh, Tosh.0

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Published by The Baguette - in Happy Things
August 24 2010 3 24 /08 /August /2010 17:01

The Color Purple“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.”  -- Alice Walker

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Published by The Baguette - in Nature