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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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January 16 2014 5 16 /01 /January /2014 11:31

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5462/9014684699_4d2d94a62e_o.jpgMore of a palace than a château, Serrant has travelled through centuries without sustain any damage. The Renaissance château is built on the foundations of a medieval fortress. In 1749, the estate was sold by the last surviving descendant of the de Bautru family and was bought by Antoine Walsh, a shipowner whose family were exiled Jacobites. http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3690/9015871484_0c6cbdd089_o.jpgAs well as redecorating the interior of the castle, the Walsh family built an English style park, pavilions, and a monumental gate complete with the family crest. The château eventually passed out of the hands of the Walsh family in 1830 when Valentine Walsh de Serrant married the Duc de La Trémoïlle. http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5326/9014684785_34c455e140_o.jpghttp://farm6.staticflickr.com/5335/9015874102_35832a2fcd_o.jpghttp://farm4.staticflickr.com/3750/9014683577_478bd91537_o.jpgLa Trémoïlle assigned Luciene Magne the task of restoring the castle and several features, including parapets and cornices, were added. The La Trémoïlle family still own the château, and in the 20th century it was modernised with cellars and the introduction of electricity. http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3756/9014683439_452ac8f251_o.jpghttp://farm4.staticflickr.com/3687/9015872776_1647303b43_o.jpgAs you can see, it presents similarities with Valençay, Villandry and Chenonceau.  All very wonderful places to visit. The castle is notable for the library, stocked with 12,000 books; the vaulted halls, originally home to the kitchens; and Napoleon's bedroom, which was never used by the Emperor as he stayed at the castle for only two hours.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7333/9015871972_30fd453da5_o.jpgThe chapel is also the final resting place for many of the Trémoïlle family (many of whom died from tuberculosis or during the flu pandemic of 1918).  http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3682/9015871230_6ce6ca03ae_o.jpgIf it isn't cold and raining, as it was on the day I visited, a walk through the park would be quite enjoyable I think.

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
January 16 2014 5 16 /01 /January /2014 11:09

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8274/9015877810_fe19ca4ef2_o.jpgIt has been quite some time since I’ve posted anything here and I apologize for that to anyone who’s interested in reading what I have to say in my blog. Instead of doing my French homework or preparing for my English classes, I’m once again distracting myself from what is really important. It’s hard to believe we are already in 2014. Happy New Year everyone! Anyway, back to my travels in the Loire over the summer… One of the places I visited was the Château du Plessis-Bourré constructed in less than five years between 1468 to 1472 by Finance Minister Jean Bourré, the principal advisor to King Louis XI. http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5456/9015877002_1200e04ffa_o.jpghttp://farm6.staticflickr.com/5445/9014687047_1c18e7ffbf_o.jpgThe château has not been modified externally since its construction and still has a fully working drawbridge. Its moats are among the widest in France. I have no photos of the interior because photography is strictly forbidden during the guided tour of the property. It still retains, in the guardroom, an extraordinary painted ceiling. Many of the scenes which were painted some five centuries ago are still an unsolved mystery. Here is an excellent link to a French website that has some amazing photos of the painted panels as well as descriptions. The château also houses other masterpieces such as tapestries, paintings, woodwork and furniture.http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7313/9014685745_2fd4d85198_o.jpg http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7429/9014685809_390f09a1a5_o.jpgThis is an image of the immense courtyard. http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2810/9015875972_071d9f358d_o.jpgLooking back from the drawbridge, one can see the stables and outbuildings, now used for exhibits and a souvenir shop.

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
December 11 2013 4 11 /12 /December /2013 09:36

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8117/9015879480_efc43e83aa_o.jpgThe Château de Brissac is located in a fine park shaded by magnificent cedar trees. The building is unusual both because it is exceptionally tall (the tallest château in France, they claim), and because it comprises two juxtaposed buildings one of which was intended to replace the other, rather than stand next to it. http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5336/9015882164_661e010283_o.jpgBuilt around 1455 by Pierre de Brézé, Minister to Charles VII and then to Louis XI, the chateau was bought by René de Cossé in 1502 and has remained in the family ever since. René’s grandson, Charles de Cossé, Count of Brissac, was one of the leaders of the League, the Catholic party which supported the Guises in the 16th century. In 1594, as Governor of Paris, he handed the keys of the city to Henry IV who had arrived newly to Roman Catholicism at the city gates. In gratitude the king raised him to the status of duke. The new duke began to rebuild his house but work was brought to a halt by his death in 1621 and the chateau has been left unaltered ever since. http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7332/10452470465_1944cdf23a.jpghttp://farm3.staticflickr.com/2806/10452463215_1921a321a8.jpgIt was by far the most impressive chateau that I visited during my time in the Loire. Inside, the ceilings are still adorned with superb tapestries. http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1262/1195544033_714aa75533_o.jpghttp://farm6.staticflickr.com/5462/9015883158_9436e4e4df_o.jpgThe Louis XIII staircase leads to the guardroom on the first floor as well as the bedchamber where Louis XIII and his mother, Marie de Medici, were at least temporarily reconciled after the Battle of Les Ponts-de-Clé in 1620. http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5445/9015882190_45b17050bd_o.jpgThere are a number of interesting rooms underneath the château including the old kitchen and endless corridors that wind themselves around the foundations like rabbit warrens. http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7290/9014694439_a558d4eb66_o.jpgIn the Golden Drawing Room, many family souvenirs are on display. It was the first room that we visited and certainly the most elegant. The top floor is the highlight of the visit to the château. It reveals indeed the most remarkable room: the theatre ! http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3516/3216120192_871aba6a3e.jpgIt was built at the initiative of the Marquise de Brissac, born Jeanne Say, who undertook the restoration of the château in the late nineteenth century. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8041/8003994237_94f996e354_o.jpgPassionate opera and herself a talented performer, she built her own theater in a Belle Epoque style. I was amazed by the gilt and red draperies that decorate this room. http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7352/9014690317_ebe8c27be5_o.jpgThe park and gardens equally offer agreeable walks under imposing century old trees, following flowered paths winding along the riverbanks of the Aubance. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8259/9015880398_2c6ffd1a8f_o.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7401/9014689589_43a8f77200_o.jpgThese walks evoke names such as Pierre de Ronsard, the gardener's cottage, the Mausolée and the five century vineyard. http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7402/9015880944_6b208714ce_o.jpgThe vineyards yield 1,500 bottles of some of the worst tasting wine you will ever encounter. I’m not sure what the owners were thinking trying to sell this stuff to tourists but it certainly wasn’t a good idea. http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3732/9015881438_d1f035020e_o.jpgAnother interesting part of the walk through the park is the family mausoleum built in the early nineteenth century in the neo-classical style.

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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage
December 5 2013 5 05 /12 /December /2013 13:20

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7433/9015886618_9a7733fe1e_o.jpgThe monastery at Cunault along the banks of the Loire, downstream from Saumur, was founded in the fourth century by Saint-Maxenceul the area’s first evangelizer. http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3723/9015886334_11478bb85a_o.jpgMonks from Noirmoutier then founded an abbey here in 847 but were expelled from Cunault during the Viking invasions and fled to the Abbey of Tournus in Burgundy. They came back in 858, bringing with them the relics of Saint-Philibert and a reliquary containing a vial of dust from the cave of the Nativity which was moist from the breast milk of the Virgin Mary—this led to the church being named in her honor and drew many pilgrims to the region. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8115/9014695295_6fedfcfa80_o.jpg A new church was built in the 11th century and the priory was enriched through the favors of the lords of Anjou, Fulk IV Rechin and Fulk Nerra. After the Hundred Years War, the priory grew weak and was closed. In 1749, the choir was sold to an individual who made it into a barn while the nave became a parish church.  http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3801/9014696441_f127cef9bc_o.jpghttp://farm6.staticflickr.com/5470/9014694571_be5b37412f_o.jpgFinally, the building was sold as national property during the Revolution. Notre-Dame de Cunault is famous for its 223 carved and painted murals that make a true artistic treasure. http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6175/6171598883_4a9cb8c084.jpghttp://farm6.staticflickr.com/5044/5234339569_5109a40a9f_o.jpgThe church keeps its place the shrine of St. Maxenceul, the founder of the abbey church. His reliquary is almost like a small church itself with a roof and a door. http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5341/9015886126_b8279818c4_o.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8116/9015885478_002137dfe7_o.jpgIt is carved from a single block of walnut and depicts scenes from Christ’s life including the Last Supper and Pentecost.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8277/9014695273_c175a79c25_o.jpgThis is a piece of furniture inside the church which was used to store vestments.

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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage
December 5 2013 5 05 /12 /December /2013 11:01

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7350/9015887670_b8c370b07f_o.jpgAll along the Loire are some interesting small villages that have maintained many of their medieval buildings. The castle keep catches your eye as soon as you approach the village of Trèves. It is nearly 50 meters tall and was part of an important castle, which dates back to the 11th century and was rebuilt in the mid-fifteenth century by Robert Lemacon, lord of Trier and Chancellor of Charles VII, King of France. Its shape is the result of the joining of a round tower and a square tower. Sadly, the rest of the castle no longer exists. The tower can be seen clearly from the cemetery of the Eglise Saint-Aubin which dates from the 11th century.http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7391/9014697675_657a09c2b8_o.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
December 5 2013 5 05 /12 /December /2013 10:30

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7343/9015887806_62cfea958f_o.jpgIt was a beautiful day when I visited Saumur but I must admit that it was colder than I expected. I parked the car near the chateau and walked to the tourist office to see if I could get myself a walking map of the city. Strangely enough, the map misses many interesting places including this building known as the Maison des Compagnons which dates from the 15th century. http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5453/9015892018_7c9a137438_o.jpgIt was in ruins and sold for a symbolic franc to the Assiciation Ouvrière des Compagnons and was rebuilt I 1982 as a training center for apprentice stonecutters. Just down the hill from here is the Église Saint-Pierre which is the only church of the enclosed town. http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3814/9014701933_729694b6f9_o.jpgIt is a building that dates from the second half of the 12th century. After its collapse in 1673, the façade was built in a classical style. Unfortunately, the church is closed and undergoing a complete restoration until 2014. It has been a historical monument since 1862. One of its most interesting features is its spiral steeple which doesn't really spiral that much.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8272/9015891994_fda002e5c4_o.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7454/9015890520_f3c9e4488f_o.jpgAt the front of the church is the Place Saint-Pierre which is surrounded by several old timber framed houses which date from the 15th and 16th century. After leaving the tourist office, one of the first things to see in Saumur is the Pont Cessart which spans the river Loire with twelve basket handle arches. http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3750/9015891760_86dbda3865_o.jpgIt was built with the labor of 600 men in 1757 and finally completed in 1770. It was restored to its former glory after German forces destroyed some of the arches in 1944. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8536/9015890944_751e53f79f_o.jpgThis is the Hôtel de Ville located along the banks of the Loire. The old part of the building, flanked by two turrets, dates from the 15th century. It was originally a fortified stronghold incorporated into the city walls and was intended to enhance the protection of the bridge. Its façade is decorated in the Gothic style. http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2830/9014700657_a4fd712e8a_o.jpgStanding twenty meters tall, the tour Grénetière, built in the 15th century, was the most impressive of the city’s defensive system. It takes its name from its use as a wheat granary in the 17th century. It became a prison for salt smugglers in 1694. http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3724/9015889944_44110efa0f_o.jpgSaumur’s first protestant temple was built in 1593 but after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes it was destroyed in 1685. The new temple was constructed outside the city walls in 1842 by architect Joly-Leterme. It is a Neo-classical rectangular building with four Doric columns. The tympanum represents the burning bush with the inscription "To God alone the glory." Despite poor reviews in my guidebook, I decided to visit the famous castle that overlooks the city. http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2880/10313032405_1a8863fb03_o.jpgThe Château de Saumur, originally built as a castle and later developed as a château, was originally constructed in the 10th century by Theobald I, Count of Blois, as a fortified stronghold against Norman invaders. It overlooks the confluence of the Loire and the Thouet. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8140/9015889382_29b6783f82_o.jpgIn 1026 it came into the hands of Fulk Nerra, count of Anjou, who bequeathed it to his Plantagenet heirs. Following its destruction in 1067, the castle was rebuilt by Henry II of England in the 12th century. Since then it has undergone many different owners and uses. In the early part of the 13th century, Philip II of France made Saumur part of his royal domain. A page from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry depicts the château as it looked in 1410. http://farm1.staticflickr.com/160/363536238_c03eed2eb0_o.jpgIt changed hands several times until 1589 when the Protestant King Henri IV gave the castle to Duplessis-Mornay. In 1621 the castle was converted into an army barracks. Nearly two centuries later it was converted into a state prison under Napoleon Bonaparte. It now serves as a museum featuring tableware, porcelain and crockery.  It even houses some interesting pieces of religious art.http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7424/9015888798_c29c8374c7_o.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage
December 3 2013 3 03 /12 /December /2013 11:00

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2884/9015893410_ed8ee4aaae_o.jpgThis is the Eglise Saint-Simplicien located in the town of Martigné-Briand.  It has a very interesting bell tower which was originally built in the second half of the 13th century but was rebuilt in 1874.  From a distance, the bell tower appears to be a missile or even a large rocket getting ready to take off. The apse and entrance arches of the ambulatory walls of the choir date from the 12th century.  The immense nave is brightly lit with several stained glass windows.  http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5348/9015893592_5a35221629_o.jpgThe church rests beside the ruins of the ancient château built in 1503 by René de la Jumellière. I think that it would have been a very cool visit if I had the time but I was on my way to Saumur and I only had time to stop and take a few photos.http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8129/9015893516_2581cd56d9_o.jpg  

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
December 3 2013 3 03 /12 /December /2013 09:51

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7399/9015906056_14b0d0589b_o.jpgWell you are probably wondering where I stayed while visiting the Loire this summer. It was a very nice bed and breakfast called Domaine des Gauliers which overlooks vast fields of grapes and the small village of Chavagnes. http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5465/9015906180_dc0f056698_o.jpghttp://farm6.staticflickr.com/5467/9014717383_5befc5feba_o.jpghttp://farm4.staticflickr.com/3771/9014717135_3f6a123636_o.jpghttp://farm4.staticflickr.com/3736/9015905968_a1ea598aa2_o.jpgThe property consists of a lovely manor house and two old farm buildings that have been recently converted to fully functioning holiday cottages with kitchens, bedrooms and living space. The owners were very kind and even invited us up to the manor house one evening for aperitifs and foie gras. It was quite entertaining. Visiting châteaux in the region is easy since Les Gauliers isn’t far from Angers or Saumur. After visiting the Abbaye de Fontevraud, I spent the next day in the pleasant city of Angers, the former capital of Anjou. http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3755/9015895876_d467763fa4_o.jpgWalking through the streets of the old town is like visiting an open-air museum with many 16th century buildings and half-timbered houses. http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3693/9014715013_62b1f74bf6_o.jpghttp://farm4.staticflickr.com/3768/9014714281_caa45b46ff_o.jpgPerhaps the most popular spot in the city is the fortress which was built by Saint-Louis between 1228 and 1238 and is a fine specimen of feudal architecture in dark schist alternating with courses of white stone. It is located on a rocky promontory overlooking the river Maine and has been occupied by man since the Neolithic period. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Dukes of Anjou Louis I, Louis II and King René, enlightened princes and art lovers, developed a dazzling court life at the château. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8541/9015904288_99c33b7bb3_o.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7432/9014711343_f89fb91eae_o.jpghttp://farm3.staticflickr.com/2893/9014711769_d2a2b9c708_o.jpgAt the end of the 16th century, at the height of the Wars of Religion, on the orders of Henry III, the governor of the fortress, Donadieu de Puycharic, had the roofs of the towers and the ramparts levelled. It subsequently became a simple security enclosure and was frequently used as a prison. From the top of the hightest tower, Tour du Moulin, on the north corner, there are interesting views over the town, the cathedral towers and St-Aubin, the banks of the Maine and the gardens laid out at the foot of the castle (these beautiful gardens used to be the castle moats). http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2871/9014713471_b254cbd157_o.jpgWithin the castle precincts are the towers on the curtain wall, the chapel and the Royal apartments, residents of the dukes of Anjou in the 15th century. http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3752/9014713303_c134ae7b29_o.jpghttp://farm4.staticflickr.com/3724/9015902774_b7994fa5b2_o.jpgThe château even has its own vineyards with vines grown the traditional way using slate stakes which absorb sunlight keeping the grapes warm at night and free from mildew. Along the ramparts of the east side are charming medieval gardens laid out with lavender, marguerites and hollyhocks as well as various species that were known in the Middle Ages as medicinal plants, aromatic herbs and flowers reproduced on the Apocalypse Tapestry. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8135/9015903434_befc74769b_o.jpgThis legendary tapestry is housed in a gallery especially designed in 1954 on the site of former buildings to ensure maximum preservation conditions. Apart from the Bayeux tapestry, it is the oldest to survive to the modern era. The tapestry is still an exceptionally large piece of cloth work, measuring about 100 meters long and 4.50 meters high. http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1011/1185437566_e37ba18ef7_o.jpgIt was commissioned in 1375 by Louis I, Duke of Anjou and brother of King Charles V, and was probably completed in 1382. It was subsequently hung in the courtyard of the bishop’s palace in Arles to celebrate the marriage of Louis II of Anjou to Yolande of Aragon in 1400. Donated to Angers Cathdedral by Good King René, it was often displayed during religious festivities up to the late 18th century when it fell into oblivion. Though it has deteriorated over time, most of it has survived and was restored by cathedral canons between 1843 and 1870. http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3676/9968858304_010570dbc2_o.jpgThe tapestry consists of six sections of equal size, each featuring a main character seated under a canopy looking on as scenes from the Book of Revelation are depicted on alternating red and blue backgrounds. It is truly a stunning piece of work and not to be missed. After visiting the castle, I took a walking tour of the city and crossed the Ponte de Verdun into the right bank of the city called la Doutre. http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5459/9014710061_a0fb312013_o.jpgOf all the bridges that span the river Maine, this one is the oldest in existence since the third quarter of the 6th century. It was reconstructed in early 19th century and was named in honor of Nicolas-Joseph Beaurepaire, a French army officer who died in 1792 in Verdun (not during the battle in 1916 as some people assume). http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7286/9015899384_fc409a449f_o.jpgFrom the other side of the river there are exceptional views of the old quarter, the château and the impressive towers of the cathédrale Saint-Maurice. http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5461/9015899106_ab42061991_o.jpgThis is a beautiful building called the hôtel des Pénitentes and was built in 1490 for the Benedictine monks of Saint Nicolas. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8268/9015898522_bff56468b9_o.jpgNearby is the Place du Tertre-Saint-Laurent and its memorial which shows the former location of the pauper cemetery. It is also the place where the procession of the Blessed Sacrament began in the 13th century and continued up until the 1960s. Beside the memorial is the 12th century Grenier Saint-Jean which is now used as an exhibition hall. http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7298/9014708507_95cf2818a9_o.jpghttp://farm6.staticflickr.com/5332/9015897692_7fbccb43c1_o.jpgNot far from there is the old Hôpital Saint-Jean, a hospital founded in 1174 and provided care for the poor until 1854. The large room is hung with Jean-Lurcat’s modern tapestry called Chant du Monde. http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5446/9015900270_feec927eef_o.jpghttp://farm4.staticflickr.com/3667/9015896260_47fc59dea0_o.jpgAfter trying to visit several places that were closed for lunch, I made my way back to the old town and up the grand staircase which leads to the cathédrale Saint-Maurice, a fine 12th and 13th century building surmounted by three towers, the central tower having been added in the 16th century. Above the third story level are eight niches containing roughly carved bearded figures in military uniforms, St-Maurice and his companions. Inside the walls are hung with Aubusson tapestries and everything is dimly lit by 13th century stained glass windows. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8394/9015896124_f1a71e2ecd_o.jpgOne of the most impressive half-timbered buildings in Angers is the Maison d’Adam. This 16th century house has posts decorated with numerous carved figures. It owes its name to the apple tree which appears to hold up the corner turret and which was flanked by statues of Adam and Eve until the Revolution. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8117/9014705571_5ab709f001_o.jpghttp://farm3.staticflickr.com/2871/9014705251_08b0e091b1_o.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8118/9014704389_1f6c945e7d_o.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7379/9015893318_55ac185d0c_o.jpgThis is the Logis Barrault which is now the Fine Arts Museum. Beside it is the courtyard of the former All Saints Abbey which now serves as a sculpture museum. This is the belfry (12th century) of the former St-Aubin monastery, a wealthy Benedictine abbey founded in the 6th century. http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7371/9014705315_dfb9607576_o.jpgThe tower takes its name from St-Aubin, Bishop of Angers who was buried here.

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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage
October 23 2013 4 23 /10 /October /2013 09:19

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3695/9014724759_eeb2d9dc45_o.jpgSorry that I’ve been away from my blog for so long.  I’m occupied with so many other things and just don’t have the time or the energy to post more often.  I would however like to share some photos of the vacation that I took just after finishing the Camino de Santiago in May.  After spending a few days with friends in the Lot, I drove to the Loire region where I had the chance to visit many lovely churches, castles and châteaux.  My first stop was to the Abbaye de Fontevraud between Saumur and Chinon.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8554/9014726265_74682854ca_o.jpgDespite the fact that it has been ravaged through history, it remains the largest group of monastic buildings in France.  The monastic order at Fontevraud was founded by Robert d’Arbrissel who had been a hermit in the Mayenne Forest before being appointed by Pope Urban II to preach in the west of France in 1101.  The order soon became quite aristocratic and the Plantagenets showered it with wealth.  From the beginning the abbey was unique among religious houses in that it had five separate buildings accommodating priests and lay brothers (St-Jean-de-l’Habit), contemplative nuns (Ste-Marie), lepers (St-Lazare), invalids (St-Benoit) and lay sisters (Ste-Marie-Madeleine).  Each body led its own life, with its own church and cloister, chapter house, refectory, kitchen and dormitory.  Robert d’Arbrissel had ordained that the whole community be directed by an abbess chosen from among widows; she was later designated as Head and General of the Order and this female supremacy was to be maintained right up to the French Revolution.  The abbey became a refuge for repudiated queens and daughters of royalty or highly placed families who, voluntarily or under compulsion, retired from the secular world.  There were 36 abbesses, half of whom were of royal blood including five from the House of Bourbon, between 1115 and 1789.  The Huguenots desecrated the abbey in 1561; in 1792 the order was suppressed by the Revolutionaries who completely destroyed the monk’s priory.  In 1804 Napoleon converted the remaining buildings into a prison which remained open until 1963.  In 1975 the abbey embarked on a new vocation as a venue for cultural events.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7449/9014726083_bd4a1638e2_o.jpghttp://farm6.staticflickr.com/5339/9015914264_9f9b1a2e38_o.jpgThe now-restored 12th century abbey church was divided into storeys at the time when it served as a prison so much of its original interiors are missing or damaged.  The vast nave is roofed by a series of domes, a characteristic of churches in the south-west of France.  This style can be explained by the important links the Plantagenets had with Anjou and Aquitaine.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7429/9015915268_7ecc9ce244_o.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7356/9014725307_48ba7ea12d_o.jpgThe abbey church houses the 13 polychrome recumbent figures of the Plantagenets, representing Henry II, Count of Anjou and King of England, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, who died at Fontevraud in 1204, their son Richard the Lionheart and lastly Isabella of Angouleme, second wife of their son, King John of England.  http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5470/9015914190_bf25f13424_o.jpghttp://farm6.staticflickr.com/5450/9015913110_940eb8b85f_o.jpghttp://farm6.staticflickr.com/5461/9015913066_35fd8800fe_o.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7351/9014723335_b2b487d04d_o.jpgThe Ste-Marie cloister of the nun’s convent is quite large and decorated with nicely trimmed boxwood shrubs laid out in geometric patterns.  A wooden walkway, much like a roller-coaster now takes up much of the center space and serves as a functional piece of art allowing visitors to walk high above the columned walls in order to meditate.  http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5446/9014720867_0e929f32cd_o.jpgIt also serves as a platform for taking some pretty interesting photos of the surrounding arches.  Here the vaulting is of the Renaissance style except on the south side which is Gothic inspired.  http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2826/9014722211_a2f9db34bc_o.jpghttp://farm6.staticflickr.com/5342/9014722363_4cf9ac34ac_o.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7361/9015911842_07ef675d0a_o.jpghttp://farm4.staticflickr.com/3751/9014722645_9d05b6464f_o.jpghttp://farm3.staticflickr.com/2876/9015911246_68e6cd4087_o.jpgA richly carved doorway in the east gallery, paved with the Bourbon coat of arms opens into the chapter house which is lavishly decorated with 16th century murals representing the life and passion of Christ with former abbesses meditating upon the action.  http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3726/9014720151_711b4e867d_o.jpgThe refectory is a very large hall with Romanesque walls and roofed with Gothic vaulting which replaced a timber ceiling in 1515.  http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3771/9014720043_8516f42920_o.jpgThe kitchen is perhaps the most unusual building on the site.  It is the only Romanesque kitchen in France to have survived the centuries.  This most intriguing building is roofed with overlapping lozenge-shaped stones and topped by a number of chimneys, added in 1904 during restoration by the architect Magne.  http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5340/9015909316_19346c89ab_o.jpghttp://farm4.staticflickr.com/3817/9014719193_75d352a71a_o.jpghttp://farm6.staticflickr.com/5443/9014718627_ed32eca77e_o.jpgOriginally, the building was free-standing, built on an octagonal plan and capped by an octagonal hood.

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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage
October 22 2013 3 22 /10 /October /2013 12:58

Sunday, May 12, 2013 -- Santiago de Compostela

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3797/8989254534_26e2dba0c4_o.jpgThere are many things to see and do while in Santiago.  Perhaps the most important is to visit the cathedral and stay for the Pilgrim Mass held every day at noon.  It is this Mass that pilgrims are most anxious to see since it involves the swinging of the famous, giant incense burner called the Botafumeiro which was originally used to fumigate the sweaty (and possibly disease ridden) pilgrims.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8118/8989227336_c272ae0c0b_o.jpgIt requires half a dozen of assistants known as Tiraboleiros to lift it into the air and make it swing to either end of the church.  The entire experience is mesmerizing.  The video that I took turned out great but sadly, the sound is just awful...so, here's a link to someone elses video which was taken in about the same spot where I was sitting and looks strangely just like mine.  After Mass, we each took our turn following the timeworn pilgrim rituals which are as follows.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7332/10420392815_2c934a94f5_o.jpgStand before the Tree of Jesse, the central column of Master Mateo’s masterpiece: the Portico da Gloria.  Millions of pilgrims, over the centuries, have worn holes in the solid marble as they placed their hands there as a mark of gratitude for their safe arrival.  A barrier has been in place since 2007 to prevent further wear and so this ritual consists mostly of photo taking opportunities.  This inner portico was fashioned by Mateo in the 12th century (the outer porch was added in 1750).  The Bible and its main characters come alive in this remarkable marble façade.  The central column has Christ in Glory, flanked by the apostles and, directly underneath, Saint James sits as an intercessor between Christ and the pilgrim.  http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2835/10420392535_661552155f_o.jpgUnfortunately, this entire ensemble is obscured from view by scaffolding which has been erected in order to facilitate a complete restoration.  On the other side of the portico is where the kneeling figure of Master Mateo has been carved into the back of the central column (facing the altar).  http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3705/8988006809_2223ba1758_o.jpgIn the past, before the barrier was put in place, pilgrims would touch their brow to that of the Maestro and receive some of his artistic genius in a ritual that is known as the head-butting saint “santo dos croques”.  Later on, we proceeded to the High Altar to ascend the stairs and hug the statue of the Apostle.  http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5450/8989209354_8ed51828ab_o.jpgMany of us just lay our head on the shoulders of the statue say thank you.  http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5455/8988009861_5e3cc602e3_o.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7451/8988008349_1e2f6f17cc_o.jpgAfter this ritual we go down the stairs to the far side of the crypt and visit the reliquary chapel under the altar.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7364/8988018141_5f8bbfa2c7_o.jpgIt is here in a silver casket that the bones of the Apostle rest.  Here one can kneel before the saint and offer a prayer.  The remainder of our day was spent visiting all that Santiago had to offer including a visit to the museum, a walk on the roof and, for me in particular, a look behind the scaffolding to see the Portico da Gloria which is off limits to pilgrims until restorations are completed.  We also walked the city and visited many of its famous squares that surround the cathedral.  http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5441/8988057943_d78925eff0_o.jpgThis first one is the Praza das Praterias.  It is the most initmate of the squares with its lovely centerpiece, an ornate statue of horses leaping out of the water.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7310/8989242834_2b4445aebd_o.jpgJust opposite the facade is the Casa do Cabildo which now houses a museum free to the public where you can explore the history of the cathedral. http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3673/8988040903_a6100b3278_o.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7359/8989978742_178334eb4b_o.jpgAlong the walls of the cathedral are the silversmiths shops that gave the square its name.  Up the steep flight of steps we come to the magnificent southern door to the cathedral, traditionally the entrance taken by pilgrims coming from Portugal.  http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5350/8988042897_6db909c72e_o.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7357/8988041833_8f74e90263_o.jpgAmongst the many sculpted figures portrayed here is one of Saint James between two cypresses.  The Clock Tower, also called Berenguela, is at the intersection of the Praterías square and the Quintana square.  The second square is called the Praza da Quintana.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7437/8988000679_a4aa3c45de_o.jpgThis wide square is readily identified by the broad sweep of steps separating the lower part Quintana of the Dead from the upper Quintana of the Living.   http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7304/8988045207_39d584f760_o.jpgOpposite the cathedral is the high blank wall of the Mosteiro de San Paio de Antealtares (with its museum of sacred art).  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7304/8989248634_43ab449ba0_o.jpgThe square provides the eastern entrance to the cathedral via the Holy Door Porta Santa, sometimes referred to as the Door of Pardon, which is only opened during Holy Years (and when Saint James Day, 25th July, falls on a Sunday).  http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2866/8989205798_daca664a29_o.jpgHere is a photo of what the Holy Door looks like from inside the cathedral.  The third square is the Praza da Inmacculada.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7349/8988796095_86ed7e7400_o.jpgHere we have the north facing Azabacheria facade with the least well-known doorway and the only one that descends to enter the cathedral.  It certainly has the most weathered aspect, with moss and lichen covering its bleak exterior.  http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5325/8989994326_4dcba7922a_o.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7298/8988798351_b3b087237f_o.jpgOpposite is the imposing edifice of the Mosteiro de San Martino Pinario while below is the Bishop's Arch which leads into the fourth square, the Praza Obradoiro.  The golden square of Santiago is usually thronged with pilgrims and tourists admiring the dramatic west facing facade of the cathedral, universal symbol of Santiago, with Saint James looking down on all the activity from his niche in the central tower.  http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3821/8989193666_da25c21014_o.jpgIn this square we also find the Renaissance facade of the Parador named after the monarchs Ferdinand and Isabel, Hostal dos Reis Catolicos on whose orders in 1498 work commenced on its construction as a pilgrim hostel making it the oldest "hotel" in continuous use in the world.  http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3671/8988032105_89d2a6f60a_o.jpgAt right angles is the more austere neoclassical town hall Pazo de Raxoi.  Finally, making up the fourth side of the square is the Colexio de San Xeronimo, part of the university.  http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3726/8989250652_3ea230f502_o.jpgTLater in the afternoon, we lined up at the museum entrance just under the main stairway of the cathedral which leads to the crypt.  Here we bought tickets to the museum and the highly prized tickets for the guided tour of the roof of the cathedral.  I purchased an extra ticket to go on a guided tour behind the scaffolding in front of the Portico da Gloria.  http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3821/8989205074_bc0266b106_o.jpgIt was very interesting and I had to wear a hard hat.  Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to take pictures.  The Cathedral museum is definitely something you should see if you ever visit Santiago.  http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3737/8988027613_f189bb7ab5_o.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7355/8988021935_edc551c93e_o.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7383/8989218998_1184ed8607_o.jpgIt houses the Cathedral’s history and artistic testimonies, from the first basilicas and archaeological remains to the Romanesque period.  It also features many works of art including the work of Master Mateo, with the reconstruction of the Cathedral’s stone choir.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7370/8989211778_f0c0a80596_o.jpgThe museum also features sculpture in the Cathedral between the 13th and 18th centuries, a tour of the cloister, the library, where the Botafumeiro censer is exhibited and the chapterhouse, ending on the top floor with an important tapestry collection, which includes a room dedicated to Goya, and the spectacular continuous balcony that dominates Plaza del Obradoiro and the streets of historical Santiago.  http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5455/8988024451_ab173d79ca_o.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7445/8989215400_3a46d6aff4_o.jpghttp://farm4.staticflickr.com/3723/8989214370_dde80f69a1_o.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7282/8988014425_996f3413c9_o.jpgPerhaps the most exciting part of the visit was our guided tour of the roof of the cathedral.  It is limited to only a few groups per day and we were very lucky to get tickes.  The views from the roof are amazing.  I took many artsy photos.  http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3780/8989202462_47918f29eb_o.jpghttp://farm6.staticflickr.com/5332/8988004051_a25a7ea83d_o.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8118/8989196312_9dfca88766_o.jpghttp://farm3.staticflickr.com/2868/8987997099_c0ab329011_o.jpgOur time in Santiago ended the next day and some of the last images I took of the city were during the night.  Isn't the cathedral beautiful when it is lit up ? http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5335/8989985058_74279123a8_o.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8125/8988785857_f96618d99a_o.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Chemin de St-Jacques