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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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April 10 2014 5 10 /04 /April /2014 12:38

054 Église St-Pierre de Bolleville053 Église St-Pierre de Bolleville

The original building that is now the choir of Église St-Pierre-de-Bolleville was first constructed between the 13th and 14th century. The rest of the building underwent extensive reconstruction during the 18th century as well as the 20th century when the church was badly damaged by bombs in 1944. 057 Église St-Pierre de BollevilleThe interior of the church is quite sombre and only lit with a few beautiful stained glass windows installed in the 1920s to commemorate local members of the community who died during the First World War. 062 Église St-Pierre de Bolleville064 Église St-Pierre de BollevilleThe oil painting above the main altar was done in the 19th century after Rubens and depicts Christ being taken down from the cross. To the left and right are the statues of Saint Paul and Saint Peter. 058 Église St-Pierre de BollevilleThe north chapel is dedicated to the Virgin and has statues of Saint Stephen (17th century), Saint Anthony and Saint Peter. 060 Église St-Pierre de BollevilleOf note is the spectacular 17th century chapel of Saint Sebastien with its beautifully sculpted wood. At the back of the nave is a 17th century baptismal font of limestone covered with a sculpted oak lid.056 Église St-Pierre de Bolleville

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Published by The Baguette - in Basse-Normandie
November 24 2012 7 24 /11 /November /2012 09:56

    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8207/8254578746_5efdaff997_b.jpgSorry for the late blog posting but we had some beautiul colors this year and I wanted to make sure I published these photos before it was too late.http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8198/8254566086_273994a7df_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8207/8254583622_77b6ff5d24_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8342/8254581204_2c05eccb62_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8059/8254576320_5dcd4354cb_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8349/8254571186_813b3b5421_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8077/8253499295_48d2dc734d_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8491/8253489855_4795a18f3c_b.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Basse-Normandie
August 28 2012 3 28 /08 /August /2012 08:52

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7266/7873351766_045d6b90d8.jpgVocable Sainte-Colombe, martyrisée en 273.  Dans sa prison, un homme, sur ordre de l’empereur, s’apprête a la violer.  Une ourse se jette sur lui.  On vient metre le feu à la prison, l’ourse bouscule l’incendiaire.  Colombe est finalement décapitée.  Son culte est largement répandu en Europe occidentale.  En Normandie, douze églises lui sont dédiées don’t quatre dans la Manche.  Elle est invoquée pour obtenir la pluie.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7130/7873350996_77a06d8bfe.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8289/7873341962_8538a516da.jpgL’église de Chef-du-Pont occupe une place importante dans l’histoire de l’art normand par l’importance de ses parties romanes.  La nef, fort remaniée en 17 siècle, a gardé sa structure generale, marquée par six arcades d’une grande austérité.  La porte qui ouvre sur le mur pignon est ornée, sur l’archivolte supérieure, de pointes de diamant évidées; sur les chapiteaux, serpent et cheval à tête d’homme.  La choeur n’a presque pas été touché.  Ses deux travées voûtées sur croisées d’ogives se terminent par un chevet plat éclairé par un triplet.  L’arc triumphal est en cintre outrepassé.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8292/7873347376_b22f806999.jpgLe choeur est garni, au dessous des fenêtres, d’arcatures qui reposent sur en banc, comme à la trinité de Caen et dans la nef de Rots (canton de Tilly, 14).  Elles sont ornées de pointes de diamant évidées - que l’on retrouve sur deux portes murées du choeur et du transept.  Des éléments de cette arcature, démontés, ont été remontés au revers du chevet, dans la sacristie.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7120/7873347992_eed84fd390.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8147/7873348650_26480b956a.jpgLeurs chapiteaux, comme ceux de l’arc triumphal sont garnis de rinceaux don’t certains éminent de têtes humaines ou bien de crochets et de feuillages plats.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8422/7873342962_0ec61c8aa7.jpgL’élément sculpté le plus remarquable se trouve a l’extérieur, sur le tympan d’une porte murée au sud du choeur.  On personanage, traité avec un grand sens de movement y terrasse un lion.  Les historiens d’art y croient reconnaître le thème de Sampson tuant le lion qui est considéré par les théologiens du Moyen Age comme la préfiguration de la victoire du Christ sure le paganisme.  La sacristie a été construite par Robert Gignet de Carquebut, en 1778.

L’autel, rocaille et de très belle qualité, 1776, est très proche de celui d’Amfreville.  L’on y retrouve le pélican, traité avec vigueur et accompagné de superbes rameaux de laurier et d’olivier ainsi que de pampers.  Les belles portes de sacristie sont peintes en fausse loupe d’orme ou, comme on dit, en “pelure d’oignon”.  Sur le tabernacle, agneau sur un autel, épis et grappes de raisin.

Dans le choeur, tombes du Moyen Age.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8304/7873345878_6a2c1c4592.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8303/7873346704_c010a3b9f4.jpgSous le clocher, une belle statue de Sainte-Colombe en plâtre peint du 18 siècle et un curieux buste de personage tenant un livre, en plâitre plein polychrome, peut-être aussi du 18 siècle. 

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8288/7873350356_4f63e8ae5a.jpgLa perque, du 18 siècle, comporte un riche décor avec gonfanon décoratif dans le style de Berain.  Elle vient d’être restaurée et redorée.  Le Christ paraît plus récent.

Bas côté nord: autel et retable en bois peint, 18 siècle; Saint-Sébastien, plâtre.

Bas côté sud: autel et retable de même époque.  Curieuse et belle statue de “Vierge allaitant”, plâtre polychrome 18 siècle.

Nef: toile représentant l’Assomption qui a été retaillé dans une plus grande en mauvais état – provident d’un presbytère et, auparavant peut-être d’un retable.  Fonts ovales avec consoles opposés sur le pied.  Bénitier encastré, pierre 17 siècle.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7250/7873343686_cc6f5980ff.jpgMais l’objet le plus extraordinaire ce sont les peintures de la chaire (17  - 18 siècle).  La cuve est ornée de cinq losanges et cinq petit rectangles qui représentent, en camaïeu, des personnages don’t l’identification n’est pas aisée, en raison des couches de glacis et des vernis successifs.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8308/7873345282_90eec6d046.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8433/7873344518_da60259e6c.jpgEn haut, sur les losanges, on croit reconnaître le Christ rédempteur entouré de Saint-Pierre et de Saint-Paul; aux extrémités un pape et un roi (ou un empereur).  En bas, sur les rectangles, des évangélistes ou des docteures de l’église.  On distinguée un boeuf (Saint-Luc) et un ange (Saint-Mathieu).

Nous avons pas vu le lutrin orné d’un buste de prophète – il paraît que celui-ci aurait disparu – ni la belle statue de Saint Jean l’Evangéliste.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8423/7873349702_06c124f4a2.jpgVitraux:

Choeur: “une ourse protégé Sainte-Colombe”, signe Mauzet 19.., armoiries: d’azur au lion rampant d’or, au chef d’argent chargé de trois rosés de gueules.  Un martyre de Saint-Simon, de même facture, “don de Mme Blondel en mémoire de la famille Roualle”.

Sur le pignon oust, le Christ “don des paroissiens, souvenir du jubilé 1926

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8440/7873340190_f21ef9443f.jpgCimetière: Près l’angle du choeur et du collatéral sud, tombe de Jean-François Laurence “conservateur et curé de l’église, né dans cette paroisse le 30 novembre 1758 et décedé le 11 août 1822. Requiescat in pace”.http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7140/7873341032_4c6beccf21.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Basse-Normandie
August 27 2012 2 27 /08 /August /2012 15:14

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7130/7872537710_76ca92ee67.jpgOn June 23, I attended the Clochers en fête which took place among several churches in the Marais du Cotentin.  Because I didn’t want to be shackled to a tour guide and only see one or two churches, I visited about twelve on my own.  It was quite an adventure and took me to several churches that were not normally open to visitors during the week.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8301/7872535296_58c289ce68.jpgOne of these churches was the Église Saint-Candide de Picauville.  Saint Candide was an officer in the Theban Legion of the Roman Empire who was murdered in 297 in Valais, Switzerland on the orders of the Roman Emperor Maximian for refusing to fight against the Bagaudae in Valais who were Christians.  He was martyred with his companions which included Saint Maurice.  Their remains were found in the fourth century by the Bishop of Lyon, Saint Eucherius (449) who told the story of their martyrdom.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8427/7872536554_53c525ed18.jpgA basilica was built near the site of their martyrdom which became the Abbey of Saint Maurice-en-Valais.  Today, the cult of these martyrs (especially that of Saint Candide) is quite rare—to find a church dedicated to the saint in Picauville, Normandy is rarer still.  The church’s tower rises above the transept crossing.  The upper part was rebuilt in the 15th century, and resembles the church tower in Périers.  It has a pierced railing in the flamboyant style flanked by pinnacles.  The octagonal spire is pierced with quatrefoils like those seen on the spire of the church in Carentan.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8426/7872537240_937bc4df25.jpgAttached to the south wall of the nave is a large porch of 19th century construction.  The chapel at the corner of the transept and the south aisle dates as far back as 1402.  The sacristy was built when the choir was enlarged between 1680 and 1702.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8426/7872535954_3530fec205.jpgThe large window of the apse is dedicated to the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian and is one of the masterpieces of the workshop Champigneulle. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8288/7872533326_261c987c92.jpgThe dignity of the figures and the evocation of Roman monuments are in perfect harmony with the seriousness of the subject.  A clever composition and choice of colors highlight the principal personage, the saint who adjured Diocletian to stop the persecution of Christians.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8290/7872533964_f79742cc0d.jpgThe covered marble baptismal font dates from 1848.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7275/7872534656_667c857e95.jpgIn the southern aisle of the church is a large, beautiful statue of Saint James the Pilgrim of polychrome limestone which dates from the 14th or 15th century.

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Published by The Baguette - in Basse-Normandie
October 29 2011 7 29 /10 /October /2011 08:09

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

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

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

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

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

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June 26 2011 1 26 /06 /June /2011 05:00

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

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2401 Château de Domfront, DomfrontHenry II Plantagenet and his Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine with their court of troubadours and poets often visited Domfront in the 12th century.  It was here in August 1170 that the papal legates attempted to achieve a reconciliation between Henry II and his estranged Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket.  2402 Château de Domfront, DomfrontDomfront passed from English to French hands and it was often under siege during the Hundred Years’ War.  In 1356 the town surrendered to the English who ruled for 10 years and only left once a ransom had been paid.  The town once again passed to the English in 1418 who relinquished it for good in 1450, only three years before the English rule in Aquitaine ended with the Battle of Castillon.  2403 Château de Domfront, DomfrontThe town’s most important siege took place in 1574.  Gabriel, Comte de Montgomery (1530-1574), a former captain in the Scottish guard, who had mortally wounded the French King Henri II in a tournament, defended Domfront against the royal or Catholic forces under Comte de Matignon.  2406 Château de Domfront, Domfront - Copy2407 Château de Domfront, DomfrontMontgomery surrendered to Matignon on the understanding that his life would be saved but was executed on the orders of Henri’s widow, Catherine de’ Medici.  2404 Château de Domfront, DomfrontThe remains of the fortress now enclose a public park.  2400 L'hôtel de ville, Place de la Roirie, DomfrontPlace de la Roirie – In the Middle Ages this used to be the market hall.  The town hall was built on the site of the old convent of St-Antoine, which was destroyed in 1847.  2406 Rue Clément Bigot, Escalier carrée, Domfront, DomfrRue Clément Bigot – Previously rue Tripière (where they made tripe), one can see on the right a square tower that contains a staircase.  2408 Place du Panorama, le bocage, DomfrontPlace du Panorama – The view of the bocage (countryside) is excellent.  Before the June 14, 1944 bombing this area was entirely built up.  2409 Maisons à pans de boi, Place St-Julien, DomfrontPlace St-Julien – The first St-Julien church stood on this square; it was destroyed in 1744.  The square was then a fruit, vegetable and flower market.  Don’t miss the nice timber-framed house known as the Bistrot St-Julien.  2409a Au Bar Normand, 29 Rue St Julien, DomfrontAu Bar Normand at number 29 rue St-Julien dates from the 16th century. 2414 Maisons à pans de boi, Grand Rue, Domfront2410 Rue du Dr-Barrabé, DomfrontRue du Dr. Barrabé – This was the main street in the Middle Ages.  Today it bears the name of a mayor of Domfront between 1888 and 1910 who brought water mains and the telephone to the town.  At number 38 one can see a half-timbered house with its upper floor projecting outward dating from the 16th century.  2411 Hôtel du Marie Rocher, XVIIe siècle, Cour Marie du RCour Marie du Rocher – In the Middle Ages this courtyard was dubbed “Courtyard of Miracles” and in later centuries two town houses were built on this site.  2412 Hôtel Roullin-Martinière, tour escalier, XVIIe siècThe Hôtel Marie du Rocher, built in the 17th century, is on the left; the staircase tower was part of the Hôtel Roullin-Martinière.  2413 La Vicomte, XVIIe siècle, DomfrontLa Vicomte – Residence of the viscount in the 17th century.  Notice the globes on each chimneystack.  They possibly mean that the owner was a nobleman.  2415 L'échauguette watchtower, Château de Godras, DomfronL’échauguette is a watchtower on the first floor of what used to be the château de Godras.  2416 Théâtre municipal, Lycee Auguste Chevallier, 1689, DNear Place du Champ Foire is the Lycée Auguste Chevallier.  This is the oldest building used as a teaching establishment in Lower Normandy.  It was built in 1689, and the chapel beside it dates from 1730 and is now a theatre.  It was given its current façade in 1904.  2418 Pavillion de Boudé, no 2 rue de Godras, DomfrontPavillion de Boudé – This is the only building remaining of the château de Godras, the residence of the governors of Domfront from the 16th to the 18th century.  2420 Église Saint-Julien de DomfrontÉglise St-Julien was built in 1924 and one of the first to be built using reinforced concrete.  2420a Église Saint-Julien de Domfront, 1924Only a few years after its completion it began to deteriorate due to cheap building materials and poor excavation of the site.  The church has had many problems ever since including falling concrete and tiles.  2421 Église Saint-Julien de Domfront2422 Église Saint-Julien de DomfrontEven the steeple is covered in green netting to prevent further danger to people below.  It will take several years of restoration work for it to be open to the public again.  The cost of renovations exceeds the budget for Domfront and its residents and so they urgently need funds from private donations.  2423 Église Saint-Julien de DomfrontIt was shut down in 2006 and its interior was filled with scaffolding to prevent it from falling down.  The interior was built without any pillars and its decoration was inspired by Byzantine style.  2424d Détail de la mosaïque, Église Saint-Julien de Domf2424b La coupole, Église Saint-Julien de Domfront2424f Nouvel autel, 2002, Église Saint-Julien de Domfront2424g Nouvel ambon, 2002, Église Saint-Julien de Domfront2424 Les fonts baptismaux, Église Saint-Julien de DomfrontSome of the images shown here are from a booklet about the church.  All proceeds go toward restoration.  2427 Rue de la Poterne, Domfront2429 La tour poterne, Rue de la Poterne, DomfrontPorte de la Poterne – In this street one can admire the postern gate that allowed access to the medieval town.  There used to be five gates: Alençon, Normandie, Castle, Brière and the Postern (the smallest).  2431 Porte d'Alençon, DomfrontPorte d’Alençon – The last of the two towers that remains today is the entrance to the medieval town.  2430 Rue des barbacanes, DomfrontAlong the rue des Fosses-Plissons one can still admire six remaining towers from the 12th and 13th century ramparts.  2432 La tour Coroller, XVIIe siècle, Rue des Fossés PlissLa tour Coroller  2434 La tour Lafaye, XVIIe siècle, Rue des Fossés PlissonLa tour Lafaye 2435 La tour Guérin Leriverain, XVIIe siècle, Rue des FosLa tour Guérin Leriverain  2407 Place du Panorama, L'église Notre-Dame-sur-l'Eau, DomÉglise Notre-Dame-sur-l’Eau – This charming Romanesque Church of Our Lady of the water (late 11th century) was badly mutilated last century when five of the seven nave bays were destroyed to make way for a road.  Following damage in 1944 the church was restored.  2436 La Varenne, Dalles funerairés, l'ancien cimetière, L2439 L'église Notre-Dame-sur-l'Eau, DomfrontThe bridge over the Varenne or the side of the road climbing up to the town center, provide the best overall views of the church with its squat belfry pierced by twin openings and its chevet with radiating chapels.  According to legend, at Christmas in 1166 Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, celebrated Mass in this church while in exile in France.  2441 Autel du XIIe siècle, L'église Notre-Dame-sur-l'Eau,In the middle of the chancel with its lovely arcades is the altar composed of a granite slab supported by three squat pillars.  2442 Vierge à l'Enfant XIVe siècle, L'église Notre-Dame-To the right of the chancel is a 14th century statue of the Virgin and Child.   2445 Fresques du XIIe siècle, Pères de l'Eglise ou les Ap2447 Fresques du XIIe siècle, Pères de l'Eglise ou les ApSeveral 12th century frescoes have been uncovered in the south transept representing Doctors of the Church.  2443 Gisant de Pierre Ledin de la Châlerie, XVIIe siècle,The recumbent statue of Pierre Ledin de la Châlerie dates from the 17th century.  2449 Pierre tombale de J. Ledéboté, 1606, L'église NotreThis tombstone is from the grave of J. Ledéboté who died in 1606.  2450 Pierre tombale de dame Marquise Ledin XVIIe siècle, LThe other tombstone is that of Marquise Ledin who died at age 23 in 1613.

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April 19 2011 3 19 /04 /April /2011 08:22

006 BrixThis oratory to Notre Dame de Grâce in the forest of Brix has a very ancient origin.  The dates engraved on the Romanesque turret coincide with its successive restorations: 1695, 1876 and 1906.  009a BrixLegend has it that the tower contains the trunk of a tree. This trunk once housed a lantern of the dead, perhaps to protect the living from the haunting of ghosts.  The stone at the base of the cross was where coffins were laid before being buried in the cemetery.  012 BrixAlong the path through the forest, one can see also the 12th century church 013 Église Notre-Dame de Brixand this monument commemorating the Battle of Hastings in 1066.  It was erected in 1966, 900 years after the Norman victory.005 Brix

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