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  • The Baguette
  • De captivants à banals, les articles et photographies de “The Baguette” sont une tentative de publier un journal de ma vie dans la Manche et de proposer un forum de discussion pour tout ce qui touche à la Normandie.
  • 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.


January 6 2010 4 06 /01 /January /2010 10:51


Saint Nicaise
On December 14th, 406, St-Nicaise rushed to the doorway of his church to stand in the way of the invading forces and protect the faithful who had sought refuge inside. He was savagely decapitated. Legend has it that he continued to recite a psalm after he was beheaded.

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Published by The Baguette - in Catholocism
January 4 2010 2 04 /01 /January /2010 10:37

I was in the Restaurant Grill in Bény-sur-Mer several months ago and someone had this painting on the wall.  It's a copy of the Van Gogh painting "Shoes" from 1888.  I've always loved this work.  He painted them with character and gave them just as much importance as a portrait or a beautiful landscape.  He found beauty in the everyday, in the things people take for granted, and deemed them worthy of a painting. 

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Published by The Baguette - in Art
January 3 2010 1 03 /01 /January /2010 15:00

In France, the feast of Epiphany fell on January 3rd this year.  In most other countries it is celebrated on January 6th, unless one belongs to an Eastern Orthodox faith—then it may be celebrated as late as January 19th. The feast primarily commemorates the coming of the Magi--wise men from the East who, in Christian tradition, visited the infant Jesus shortly after his birth and presented him with "gifts of gold and of frankincense and of myrrh."  This tradition originates from the Gospel of Matthew (2:1-2:12).  Although Matthew does not mention their number, because three gifts are recorded as having been given to the Christ Child, traditionally there are thought to have been three Magi. 
On his knees is Balthasar, the youngest king, bearing frankincense and represents Africa. To the left stands Caspar, middle-aged, bearing gold and representing Asia. On the right is Melchior, oldest, bearing myrrh and representing Europe.

On Epiphany, people living in the northern half of France and Belgium eat “La galette des Rois” (the cake or "wafer" of the Kings).  It is a cake celebrating the Epiphany and traditionally sold and consumed a few days before and after this date. In modern France, the cakes can be found in most bakeries during the month of January. The cake consists of flaky puff pastry layers with a dense center of frangipane (sweetened almond paste).  A trinket (usually a porcelain figurine of a king), called a “fève,” is hidden inside.  The person who gets the piece of cake with the fève becomes "king" for a day. 
In this year’s galette, the fève was a fireman in full gear (EN PLEINE ACTION !).  Since I found the fève, I got to wear the golden crown.

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Published by The Baguette - in Happy Things
January 3 2010 1 03 /01 /January /2010 07:30

This portion of the Normandy beach was difficult to take from the Germans because of the steep cliffs.  Of the 225 men who embarked on this stage of the advance, only 90 survived.  They found that the Germans had moved their real guns inland and replaced the gun turrets with large timber beams.  As the American forces moved inland, they destroyed the German guns they found.
Much of this area remains as it was in June 1944, pockmarked with craters that look like the lunar surface, concrete bunkers and many large gun turrets.  The popular memorial dedicated to the Second Ranger Battalion is now fenced off from the publicc because it is dangerously close to the edge of the sea and authorities fear that people will fall off.  Nearby is the museum which documents the events of the  day.
The movie The Longest Day features scenes that take place at the Pointe du Hoc.  The Pointe du Hoc is located just between Utah Beach and Omaha Beach.

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Published by The Baguette - in Haute-Normandie
January 2 2010 7 02 /01 /January /2010 07:59

009rouenThis is the former keep in Philippe Auguste's 13th century castle where Joan was subjected to torture on 9 May 1431.  A facsimile of the manuscript relating to her trial is displayed on the ground floor from which a spiral staircase leads up to the first floor where models and documents evoke the history of the castle.  The second floor is devoted to the life of Joan of Arc.

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Published by The Baguette - in Haute-Normandie
December 21 2009 2 21 /12 /December /2009 09:43

020 (2) 
This picture has nothing to do with my ranting down below.  It's just a nice photo I took in Tourlaville last spring of a boat sinking into the pond. 

Can you believe it?  The weather in most parts of Norhtern Europe has taken a turn for the worse and many people are stranded in train stations and airports.  It's typical for this time of year but the recent catastrophe with the Eurotunnel has everything and everyone running around like chickens with their heads cut off.  People were stuck on the train underneath the English Channel for close to 16 hours without electricity, food or air-conditioning.  One woman said that Eurotunnel employees suggested she take a plane or a ferry but these two modes of transportation are currently booked solid.  To add to her pain, she was told she could maybe drive !!! Whatever idiot said that ought to be fired.  How do you drive a car across the English Channel?  Dummy. . .  Anyway, due to train cancelations, my friend can not make it to his family's house in time for the holidays in the south of France.  To help him out, I told him I would drive him tomorrow.  So, I guess I won't be spending the holidays alone afterall.  I just finished packing and getting the house ready for my absence.  If I don't post anything for a few weeks, it will be because I will have little opportunity to connect to the internet.  My loyal readers will understand and I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year !

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Published by The Baguette - in Rants
December 20 2009 1 20 /12 /December /2009 20:36


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Published by The Baguette - in Happy Things
December 19 2009 7 19 /12 /December /2009 11:21


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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
December 18 2009 6 18 /12 /December /2009 14:21


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Published by The Baguette - in Cherbourg
December 16 2009 4 16 /12 /December /2009 15:37

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In the 6th century the Gaulish town of Briovère (meaning "Bridge on the Vire River") took the name of its lord, the Bishop of Coutances.  In 1944 it acquired the sad title of Capital of Ruins – it was the administrative center (préfecture) of La Manche; on July 19th, the day the town was liberated, only the battered towers of the collegiate church and a few houses in the suburbs remained standing.  Since then St-Lô has recovered to become a modern city, proud of its ancient heritage.

st lo  St-Lô, a vital communications center, was destined to play a strategic role in the Battle of Normandy.  Owing to its position at a crossroads, the town underwent heavy bombing from June 6th aimed at dispersing the enemy forces.  The battle for St-Lô began early in July in the middle of the War of the Hedgerows to capture the Lessay-St-Lô road, the base for Operation Cobra. 

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st loThe town, which was the center of German resistance, fell on July 19th.  A monument, erected in memory of Major Thomas D. Howie of the American Army, recalls a moving episode in the town’s liberation.  Major Howie had wanted to be one of the first to enter St-Lô but he was killed on the 18th of July; in order to fulfill his wish, the first Allied troops to enter St-Lô carried his coffin in with them and sat it down in the ruins of the belfry of Sainte-Croix church.  A week later, after an unprecedented aerial bombardment, the German front broke in the west and the Avranches Breakthrough was launched.

st lo  From the ruins, a new town has arisen, planned so that one can now clearly see the outline of the rocky spur, ringed by ramparts and towers that have become landmarks of the city.  The oldest district, the Enclos, in the upper part of the town includes the Préfecture and administrative buildings, which make an interesting post-war architectural group.  I had to go to the Préfecture office today to renew my carte-de-sejour.  The weather was bright and sunny but ever so cold!  The temperature was -7°C !!! 
st loSaint-Lô also has remains of its medieval line of walls and towers. They include: Tour des Beaux Regards ("Tower of Beautiful Glances"), commanding the steepest part of the spur of the town (with an amazing view of the Vire Valley and the bocage),
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and the Tour de la Poudrière ("Tower of the Gunpowder Store"), the last relic of the old citadel.

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Opposite the Place du Général-de-Gaulle is the former prison porch, now a memorial to Resistance fighters and the victims of Nazism.

st lo  The west front of Église Notre-Dame (13th – 17th century) and the two towers have been shored up but otherwise left as they were in 1944 as a witness to the ferocity of the bombardment.  The church was partially restored after the war with the facade rebuilt as a plain green schist wall.

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Published by The Baguette - in Basse-Normandie