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

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July 22 2014 3 22 /07 /July /2014 09:07

139 Église Saint-Germain de Saint-Germain-sur-Ay

There is so much information about this town online that it is overwhelming. I’ll try to be concise and too the point but if you are interested in all the facts just check out their link online. After a long day of hiking and visiting old churches, I had one more stop to make in Saint-Germain-sur-Ay to see the old church and its priory as well as the old harbour now known as le havre which is watched over by the corps de garde, a 17th century guardhouse. 140 Église Saint-Germain de Saint-Germain-sur-AyThe Église Saint-Germain dates from the 12th century and has simple architectural design with an absence of a monumental gate. It therefore respected the Benedictine Rule which did not seek distractions of the mind. It is on the 14th century fortified bell tower that you can see a noticeable effort with sculpture—here there are eight windows, of which four have grotesque faces carved into corbels above the arches. 138 Église Saint-Germain de Saint-Germain-sur-AyThe tower also has false battlements which are simply decorative and devoid of openings for shooting. Despite this, the false machicolations were intended to strengthen the defensive tower and deter invaders. Indeed, in the 14th century English raids were frequent and deadly. The tower was part of a network of fortified churches in the Cotentin that could allow local populations to use them as defensive positions when needed. The inside has a single nave and two side aisles separated by simple Romanesque arches. 146 Église Saint-Germain de Saint-Germain-sur-AyThe choir and the nave are separated by another large Romanesque arch. Motifs of animals and plants adorn many of the capitals above the columns in the choir. 149 Église Saint-Germain de Saint-Germain-sur-AyThe nave is the part of the building with the least amount of decoration and has undergone the most changes over the last century which included new wood vaulting installed in 1954. 150 Église Saint-Germain de Saint-Germain-sur-AyA staircase beneath the tower leads to the three bells of the church. Inside, the church has two works listed as historical monuments: 145 Église Saint-Germain de Saint-Germain-sur-AyThe medieval baptismal font...151 Église Saint-Germain de Saint-Germain-sur-Ay...and the 15th century statue of the Virgin and Child. 148a Église Saint-Germain de Saint-Germain-sur-AyThe wooden altar from 1828 is painted in faux marble with two kneeling angels at the top. On either side are statues of Saint-Germain and Saint-Lo with a painting depicting Christ’s Resurrection at the center. 152 Église Saint-Germain de Saint-Germain-sur-AyI found a source that says the crucifixion is from the medieval era but I really doubt that since it isn’t in the correct fashion for that time.  154 Église Saint-Germain de Saint-Germain-sur-Ay160 L'ancien prieuré bénédictin de Saint-Germain-sur-Ay158 L'ancien prieuré bénédictin de Saint-Germain-sur-AyIn the shadow of the church is the 12th century priory which was the home to Benedictine monks. 164a Le corps de garde de Saint-Germain-sur-Ay (Chapelle du Grapillon)168 Le corps de garde de Saint-Germain-sur-Ay (Chapelle du Grapillon)172 Le corps de garde de Saint-Germain-sur-Ay (Chapelle du Grapillon)The corps de garde (guard house) has very old origins and is without a doubt part of a defence system whose purpose was to protect the region from Viking invasions. Although driven out of France in 1450, the English continued to harass the commercial fleet and to carry out raids in the country on the beaches by seizing merchandise, animals and boats at the quayside. 161 le havre de Saint-Germain-sur-Ay161a le havre de Saint-Germain-sur-AyThey attacked the ports of Cherbourg, St-Vaast, Carteret, Portbail and St-Germain-sur-Ay. Guard posts were built all along the west coast of the Cotentin in order to ensure the surveillance and protection of the marine traffic, particularly boats in the process of landing and unloading. The harbor (called, le havre in French) of St-Germain was much bigger than it is today, protecting the village of Salines, that you can see on the other side of the bridge, and possessed a very busy port receiving boats of 400 tons specializing in the commerce of wood, sea salt cereals and animals. The small village of les Salines owes its name to the practice of extracting salt which was done at this period. 164 le havre de Saint-Germain-sur-AyThe sea, with the passage of time silted up the harbor and the commercial traffic collapsed. The guard house was built in 1659 on a rock five meters high, allowing one a view of the whole of the harbor. Under military command, it was run by 2 officers and 10 men. As a reprisal for the help given to the Protestants in La Rochelle, Richelieu ordered the destruction of the port facilities but the guard house was not touched. 174 Le corps de garde de Saint-Germain-sur-Ay (Chapelle du Grapillon)It was transformed into a chapel on the July 29, 1945 and assumed the name of Notre-Dame du Rosaire, but was called Notre-Dame du Grappillon (from the name of the place where the sheep of the salt marshes fed in the harbor) by locals. 178 Le corps de garde de Saint-Germain-sur-Ay (Chapelle du Grapillon)The families Deshayes-Alliot gave it as a gift to the commune on condition that it was to be restored to its original state. The commune accepted it and from 1977, at the instigation of the committee of preservation created that same year, volunteers carried out considerable restoration work.

181 Le corps de garde de Saint-Germain-sur-Ay (Chapelle du Grapillon)

163 le havre de Saint-Germain-sur-Ay

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July 16 2014 4 16 /07 /July /2014 09:08

125 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, Tamerville

L'église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption is a 12th church in Tamerville dedicated to Our Lady. It has undergone many changes over the years and sadly, only the bell tower has retained its Romanesque style. A chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist was originally built on the site before the 9th century but every vestige has long since disappeared. The construction of a new, larger building at the current location had to stop twice: during a famine in 820 and again in 838 with the arrival of the Normans who left only the tower standing. 148 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, TamervilleThe present construction was initiated in 1070 by Geoffroy de Montbray, bishop of Coutances with the aid of a lord from Chiffrevast who returned to England several times to seek more workers and builders. Around 1420, Jacques d'Anneville, lord of Chiffrevast, added to the left of the choir a chapel to Saint-Jacques, whose purpose was to serve as his funeral chapel. This same chapel is now dedicated to St-Sulpice. 150 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, TamervilleIn the 15th century, alterations were made ​​especially on the choir (ribbed vaulting added) and chevet. In the 17th century modifications to the nave were undertaken by extending one bay and enlarging several windows. 126 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, TamervilleOn the exterior north façade one can see remnants of Romanesque windows now blocked. 127 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, Tamerville128 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, TamervilleThe cornices of the nave and the choir maintain over sixty Romanesque corbels of grotesque faces. 141 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, TamervilleIn 1672, access to the Saint-Jacques chapel was created by knocking down part of the wall in the transept and creating a pointed arch--remains of a window can be seen at the top. 158 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, TamervilleIn 1755, the western portal was installed and topped by a triangular pediment and surmounted by a niche with the cast iron statue of Saint Mayeul. 151 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, TamervilleThe ceiling was redone with wood in 1813 and two small side chapels along the nave (one of which holds the baptismal font) were created in 1855. 134 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, TamervilleA stained glass window in the Saint-Sulpice chapel recounts the life of St-Sulpice, a 7th century bishop of Bourges whose reliquary would have been shared between this church and the one in Fresville. 146 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, Tamerville153 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, TamervilleTo the right of the rood beam on one of the capitals of the triumphal arch is the image of Saint-Hubert hunting a deer. Many elements of church furniture are classified as historical monuments: 142 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, TamervilleTo the right of the main altar, a very damaged colored limestone bas-relief from early 16th century representing the twelve apostles. 132 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, TamervilleIn the chapel of Saint-Sulpice, a high-relief statue depicting St-Jacques (with a staff in his right hand) in polychrome limestone from the 14th century. 143 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, TamervilleIn the chapel underneath the 11th century bell tower is a 15th century Pietà in polychrome limestone. 131 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, TamervilleThe side altar in the Saint-Sulpice chapel is painted in trompe-l'oeil and comes from the second half of the 18th. Its paintings represent the Assumption of the Virgin, the Resurrection of Christ and Saint Benedict. Very little information is given about the many remains of frescoes throughout the church. One can only imagine they are very old.

139 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, Tamerville

149 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, Tamerville152 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, TamervilleOther interesting pieces of furniture include a carved pulpit and a very colorful high altar. There are some interesting (if not dirty) memorial inscriptions in the chapel below the bell tower. They are very difficult to read since they are written in Old French and Latin.145 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, Tamerville144 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, Tamerville

159 Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, Tamerville

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May 1 2014 5 01 /05 /May /2014 09:57

P1000960 Sizun

The triumphal arch of the enclos paroissial in Sizun dates from 1585 – 1588. Its central part is surmounted by a Calvary and a walkway where priests could celebrate Mass in the open air. A stone stairway gave access to the upper gallery but it was removed during the widening of the adjacent road. P1000964 SizunThe ossuary chapel (1585) has a façade decorated with caryatid statues and the Twelve Apostles. Above the doorway are the arms of the Rohan family which bears two inscriptions: Memento Mori -"Souviens-toi qu'il faut mourir" (Remember that you will die), and "Vous nos enfants qui par ici passés, souvenez-vous que nous sommes trépassés" (You, our children who pass through here, remember that we are dead). P1000974 SizunOne of the strange sculptures on the roof depicts a mermaid carrying traces of seaweed. P1000971 SizunThe ossuary chapel is now a small museum featuring Breton arts and crafts which includes local costumes, furniture and embroidery—before leaving Sizin, I left some kind words in the visitor book. P1000963 SizunThe churchyard, which once was the cemetery, now has a monument to those who died during both World Wars. From this angle one can see the sacristy which is octagonal in shape and has an upturned-keel roof covered in slate. P1000973 SizunAlthough there is no grand Calvary in the center of the close, there is a unique grouping of statues depicting the Descent from the Cross. P1000961 SizunThe église Saint-Suliau was restored in 2010-2011 and dates from 16th and 18th centuries. Its bell tower is 56 meters high and has two dates inscribed on its base of 1728 and 1735. P1000966 SizunThe interior of the church is simply stunning to behold due to its ornately carved altars and its wood pulpit created in 1784.  The main altar was built in the 17th century by a sculptor from Landerneau named Maurice Le Roux. P1000968 SizunAbove the tabernacle is a painting depicting the Ascension of Jesus which is bordered by two polychrome statues in niches of Notre-Dame and Saint-Suliau. It is surrounded by two more altars built on the same model. The one on the left contains a painting of Saint Augustine with the angel and the one on the right depicts the Christ’s baptism. P1000967 SizunThe organ was created by Thomas Dallam, son of organ builder Robert Dallam (1602-1665) who designed many instruments for churches in Finistère. The organ was restored in the 18th century and was painted a dark brown in the 19th century. It has now been restored to reveal its original polychrome designs. Within the transept, religious items such as vestments and silverware are on display. There are also several glass cabinets with processional banners inside. P1000970 SizunThe alter of the Holy Rosary has two twisted columns that frame a painting of the death of a faithful person in the presence of Dom Michel le Nobletz, a famous Breton missionary from the 17th century. The altar has statues of Saint Peter and Saint Paul on either side as well as a statue of Saint Joseph at the top. P1000969 SizunThe granite baptismal font is dated 1679. It is surmounted by a canopy supported by eight columns, four plain and four ornamented.

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April 30 2014 4 30 /04 /April /2014 12:27

P1000937 La MartyreP1000942 La MartyreP1000939 La Martyre

I can’t tell you how glad I was to finally reach La Martyre. It meant that I could sit down on a park bench near the church and eat my lunch. I was so hungry. After eating, I was able to take my time and really enjoy visiting the parish close, the oldest in the Léon region. P1000959 La MartyreP1000958 La MartyreIt opens onto a triumphal arch with a Flamboyant balustrade walkway and a small Calvary that dates from the 15th and 16th centuries. P1000957 La MartyreP1000954 La MartyreThe south porch is of kersanton stone and depicts several scenes from the life of Christ. Another notable scene above the entrance of the church is that of the Nativity. P1000953 La MartyreIt is rare because it shows the Virgin lying down and breast feeding--it has since been chipped away and mauled by a parish priest who thought it was not appropriate. P1000955 La MartyreP1000943 La MartyreThe ossuary is from 1619 and above the water font is the image of a man, Death, brandishing a skull and crossbones with the quote : "la mort, le jugement, l'enfer glacé, quand l'homme y songe, il doit trembler : fol est, si par mégarde son esprit ne voit qu'il faut mourir" (If one is not careful, one will not see that they must die). The church is dedicated to Saint Solomon and has a beautiful porch on the south side which dates from 1450-1455 and celebrates the Nativity (in the arches, you can see scenes from Christ’s childhood). P1000944 La MartyreP1000945 La MartyreThe entrance of the main porch also has statues of the twelve Apostles--something that is quite popular with Breton churches, it seems. The bell tower dates from the 13th and 14th century. P1000948 La MartyreInside there is some stunning woodwork and some fragments of 16th century stained glass. P1000950 La MartyreThe canopy of the baptismal font is the work of Jean Le Moing (1635) and bears the inscription of the artist. The altar was executed in 1706 and is the work of Alain Castel. There are however much older works such as this altarpiece from the 15th century dedicated to Saint John and Saint Paul. P1000952 La MartyreThe center painting depicts angels cleansing the souls of those in Purgatory. The crucifixion of the central window is the work of Jost de Negker dated 1535. Stained glass of the north aisle depict the Dormition of the Holy Virgin, the Last Judgement and the Tree of Jesse all dating from 1562.P1000951 La Martyre

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April 29 2014 3 29 /04 /April /2014 14:31

P1000899 La Roche-MauriceP1000900 La Roche-Maurice

The first known mention of le château de la Roche dates from 1263. It was one of the residences of the vicomtes de Léon until 1363, when that family line became extinct. The fortress occupied a central position on a hill overlooking Elorn valley and allowed the lords to direct their fiefdoms and important parishes. The gallows stood opposite the castle on a hill on the right bank of the Elorn. Le château de la Roche became the possession of the family of Rohan in 1363 through the marriage of Jeanne de Léon with Jean de Rohan The castle had residents habitually until the 15th century but in 1421 the Rohans left and the castle became dilapidated. From 1678 to 1694 it was transformed into a prison. P1000901 La Roche-MauriceIn the 18th and 19th century, the castle served as a stone quarry and was mostly demolished. Many houses of the village and perhaps the present church were built with these stones. P1000921 La Roche-MauriceThe 16th century parish church has a fine parish close featuring three crosses of Christ and the two thieves at the main entrance. P1000903 La Roche-MauriceP1000905 La Roche-MauriceP1000906 La Roche-MauriceThe ossuary dates from 1640 and is one of the largest in Brittany. The door of the main façade is topped by a triangular pediment under which is written the inscription from 1639: "Rappelle-toi mon jugement, tel aussi sera le tien : à mon tour aujourd'hui, à ton tour demain." (Remember my judgment, as yours will be the same: my turn today, your turn tomorrow.). Above the outside font, Ankou (Death) is shown armed with an arrow, threatening small figures framed in medallions representing all social classes: a peasant, a woman, a lawer, a bishop, St-Yves, a pauper and a rich man. He proclaims “Je vous tue tous” (Death comes to all). Above the door of the south gable is another Latin inscription dated 1640: "Souviens-toi, homme que tu n'es que poussière." (Remember man that thou art but dust."). An elegant, twin-galleried belfry crowns the building. P1000908 La Roche-MauriceThe south porch is delicately carved with bunches of grapes and statuettes of saints. P1000911 La Roche-MauriceP1000915 La Roche-MauriceP1000913 La Roche-MauriceP1000919 La Roche-MauriceInside there is an oak Renaissance rood screen (jubé) from the 16th century decorated on the side facing the nave with twelve polychrome statues carved in the round, including nine Apostles and three Popes, and on the chancel side with low-relief sculptures of saints venerated in Brittany. On one end are the statues of Saint Anne and Mary. The entire rood screen is held aloft with by two stone columns and an abundance of fantastic and grotesque creatures. P1000914 La Roche-MauriceAlso of interest is the panelled ceiling adorned with angels and coats of arms, carved purlins and beams. P1000916 La Roche-MauriceBehind the main altar is a large stained glass window from 1539 that illustrates the Passion and the Resurrection of Christ. To the right of the main altar is a niche devoted to Saint Yves, the patron saint of Brittany, lawyers and abandoned children.P1000918 La Roche-Maurice

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April 29 2014 3 29 /04 /April /2014 12:44

P1000896 Bodilis

The parish close of Bodilis is from the 16th century and is proceeded by a Flamboyant bell tower (1570) which rests on four arches. P1000895 BodilisIt is the last of its kind to be built in the area. Another interesting facet of this church is the fact that it still retains its cemetery around the close. While walking around the church, it is easy to admire the architecture and the different stages of construction. For example, the choir and nave were begun in 1567 while the latest portion of the building, the sacristy was built in 1682. P1000897 BodilisIt is interesting for polygonal shape and its upturned keel style roof as well as its buttresses which are adorned with shell niches surmounted with lanterns and funeral urns. The porch from 1601 is one of the most comprehensive and most original in the region. P1000883 BodilisP1000884 BodilisOf note are the fluted columns and semi-circular arches with statues of the Virgin and the Angel Gabriel one either side forming the Annunciation. P1000886 BodilisP1000887 BodilisIn the gallery of the porch are statues of the twelve Apostles. P1000888 BodilisThe interior is ornate and boasts five altars as well as a large collection of decorative beams that run along the wood panelled barrel vaulting. The hexagonal baptismal font is from the 16th century and carved from kersantite stone and attributed to Roland Doré. P1000892 BodilisThe figures are polychrome and depict Matthew, Mark, the Eternal Father holding Christ in his arms, Saint John, Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Peter and Saint Ambrose of Milan. I wasn’t able to take a photo of every single object, nor did I want to but I can certainly attest to the beauty of this churches interior—for example, above the southern portal is this 16th century Descent from the Cross which features nine characters dressed in Renaissance fashions.P1000893 Bodilis

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April 18 2014 6 18 /04 /April /2014 14:56

325 Les Andelys

From one castle to the next... Les Andelys lies in one of the loveliest settings along the Seine and is dominated by the impressive ruins of Château-Gaillard which overlooks the valley. 422 Château Gaillard, Les Andelys332 Les Andelys340 Les AndelysCarefully following the walking tour map from the tourist office, I began my visit along the Seine. Les Andelys has had several bridges and this one, a suspension bridge, is the most recent. 333 Le pont suspendu des AndelysIt was built in 1948 and replaces the bridge that was blown up in 1940 by resistance fighters to delay the advance of the German army. The town is actually made up of two communes, le Petit Andely and le Grand Andely. 336 Les Andelys344 Les Andelys369 Les Andelys369d Les AndelysI didn’t make it to the latter but a stroll along the Seine offers a great selection of charming, old timber frame houses that seem as if they’ve not changed for centuries. This one in particular is called La Chaîne d’Or which used to shelter the offices where taxes were collected from the riverboats that passed through the town. 369c Les AndelysThis source of income was enforced through the use of a large chain running across the Seine that stopped any boats. This is the Hôpital St-Jacques and during the 13th century it was a stopping place for pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela. 350 Hospice Saint-Jacques, Les AndelysIn 1785 the present building was erected and it now serves as a day hospital and senior citizens home. In the Middle Ages, the Gambon river ran through le Grand and le Petit Andely and provided the raw power for several mills in the area. During violent storms or when the snow was melting, the flow of the Gambon increased and often overflowed its banks destroying everything in its path. 355 Le Canal du Grand Rang, Les AndelysIn the 17th century, King Louis XIV ordered that a dam be built and the residents to build a canal. This canal called le Grand Rang (more like a fast flowing stream), is now the main waterway running through the town. In the center of the town is the Saint-Sauveur Church. 420 Les Andelys367 Église Saint-Sauveur, Les Andelys361a Église Saint-Sauveur, Les AndelysIt was started in 1220 and ended a hundred years later. Unfortunately, it was closed during lunchtime and of course, that is when I wanted to visit. I’m sure the interior is something to see but all I could admire were the flying buttresses framing the upper windows, the slate spire and the wooden porch supported by a stone base on the western side dating from the 15th century. The most impressive attraction that Les Andelys offers is the Château-Gaillard, erected in record time between 1196 and 1198 by Richard the Lionheart, King of England and Duke of Normandy, in order to protect Normandy from the ambitions of the king of France, Philip II Augustus. 399 Château Gaillard, Les Andelys376 Château Gaillard, Les Andelys371 Château Gaillard, Les Andelys385 Château Gaillard, Les AndelysIt had a reputation of being an impregnable fortress; nevertheless it fell into the French king’s hands in 1204 after a seven month siege. To throw out brigands and thieves who were living here in later years, Henri IV and later Louis XIII organized the dismantling of the castle. 390 Château Gaillard, Les Andelys384 Château Gaillard, Les Andelys393 Château Gaillard, Les AndelysRichelieu had it torn down stone by stone until it was only a third of its original height. Much of the outer curtain wall is no longer standing but there are still quite a few towers and casemates to be seen. 405 Château Gaillard, Les Andelys418 Château Gaillard, Les Andelys397 Château Gaillard, Les Andelys400 Les Andelys389 Les Andelys388 Le pont suspendu des AndelysIn any direction from nearly every corner of the château are countless spectacular views over the Seine and the valley below. Since I didn’t have time to walk around the part of town called le Grand Andely, I drove there in order to quickly visit the Collégiale Notre-Dame des Andelys which was built in 1225 on the ruins of an abbey founded in 511 by Ste-Clotilde, wife of Clovis I. 424 Collégiale Notre-Dame des Andelys425 Collégiale Notre-Dame des AndelysConstruction and improvements continued until the late 17th century, and major restorations were carried out in 1860. 426 Collégiale Notre-Dame des AndelysThe façade is of the 13th century and the tympanum features stories from the life of the Virgin. The north gate was built during the time of King Henry II in Renaissance style. It once had a central tower and spire but these were destroyed during World War II and were never rebuilt. 433 Collégiale Notre-Dame des Andelys435 Collégiale Notre-Dame des Andelys437 Collégiale Notre-Dame des AndelysThe stained glass windows are exceptional and were executed largely by master glassmakers of the 15th century. The windows of the south aisle are dated 1540 and those at the top of the nave from 1560. 443 Collégiale Notre-Dame des AndelysThe beautifully carved organ case is from 1573 and depicts biblical scenes, as well as mythological imagery. 440 Collégiale Notre-Dame des AndelysInside the transept and one of the side chapels are two paintings from 1612 by Quentin Varin—this one is called the Martyrdom of Saint Clair. In the south aisle below the tower is a 16th century set of statues depicting the Entombment.428 Collégiale Notre-Dame des Andelys

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April 17 2014 5 17 /04 /April /2014 10:26

251 Au Temps Des Cerises, Jumièges

If I didn’t already tell you, let me say it again: the weather in Haute Normandie was just wonderful last weekend. Not only were the fruit trees blossoming, so were the cherry trees and fields of yellow rape. 256 Au Temps Des Cerises, JumiègesOn the morning of my second day, I had a sumptuous breakfast in the dining room of our chambre d’hote. The owner was very kind and served us fresh crepes with several different homemade jams and conserves. While I ate, I wondered what the day was going to bring since the countryside appeared to be covered in a thick fog. 255 Au Temps Des Cerises, Jumièges254 Au Temps Des Cerises, Jumièges257 Au Temps Des Cerises, JumiègesI took a few photos of Au Temps de Cerises and then decided that the fog would likely burn off by the time I reached my first destination for the day, the Château de Robert le Diable. 262 Les bacs de SeineSince there was no bridge over the Seine nearby, we would have had to take the road around the river and put over 50km on our car. Fortunately, drivers can take the ferry over the river at Le Mesnil-sous-Jumièges and the distance is only 18km. 263 Les bacs de SeineThe ferry had to wait for eight vehicles to board before casting off to the other side of the Seine which we couldn’t even see because of all the fog. 266 Château de Robert le DiableWhen we arrived in Moulineaux, we parked the car beside the war memorial which was constructed using the remains of an old tower from the château. The Château de Robert le Diable is a feudal castle from the time of the Dukes of Normandy. 276 Château de Robert le Diable282 Château de Robert le Diable293 Château de Robert le DiableIt takes its name from Robert the Devil who, according to some, was Robert de Montgommery, also known as Robert le Magnifique ('the magnificent'), Duke of Normandy and father of William the Conqueror. However, there is no evidence that this person was involved in the construction. The castle was built during the 11th and 12th centuries and stands on a hill which dominates the River Seine--the views extending over the whole Rouen region, making it a particularly strategic location.  280 Château de Robert le Diable270 Château de Robert le Diable279 Château de Robert le Diable274 Château de Robert le Diable275 Château de Robert le DiableFortunately for us, the fog had cleared off and all that remained could be seen hovering over the Seine. It is known that the English King Richard I ('Lionheart') stayed here. His brother, King John ('Lackland') destroyed the castle during his struggle with the King of France Philip II Augustus. The latter rebuilt it. During the Hundred Years War, the people of Rouen destroyed the towers to prevent the castle being used by the English.

297 Château de Robert le Diable

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April 16 2014 4 16 /04 /April /2014 16:07

171 Caudebec-en-Caux207 Caudebec-en-Caux

Caudebec-en-Caux is a pleasant town settled around the Seine where the Ste-Gertrude Valley runs into the river. It was here that I stopped on my way to Jumièges where I had booked a room at a chambre d'hôte called Au Temps des Cerises. I wasn’t planning on stopping but I needed to do some shopping to get some stuff for dinner since I didn’t want to go out to some restaurant. I’m so glad I stayed for a while and took a walking tour of the town. The Quai Guilbaud along the river is a popular place for a stroll and offers wonderful views of tour boats and barges passing by as well as the Pont Bretonne. Because there are so few bridges over the Seine in this part of Normandy and because the river winds its way like a serpent throughout the countryside, it can be difficult to get from one point to another. A good example of this is the Pont de Bretonne in Caudebec-en-Caux which was built in the 1970s to relieve the amount of traffic taking the numerous ferries along the river. There are still quite a few ferries and one day in particular, I took a ferry that cut my distance from 50km to only 15km. 201b Les anciennes prisonsOne of the first interesting old buildings in town was the Old Prison which dates from the 14th century. 203 Maison des Templiers, Caudebec-en-Caux205 Maison des Templiers, Caudebec-en-CauxCloser to the center of town is the Maison des Templiers (12th and 13th centuries), called “Templar” perhaps because it served as a Protestant temple during the Reformation. It escaped destruction in 1940 probably because of its stone structure—one of the few houses of its kind from medieval Normandy. When an American threatened to buy the building and rebuilt it stone by stone in the United Sates, a local association saved the building and created the Museum Biochet-Bréchot which now houses items of local history and archaeology. 201 Caudebec-en-Caux201a La tour d'HarfleurSadly, much of Caudebec-en-Caux lost its ancient fortifications in 1378 however some portions of the old walls still exist like the Tour d’Harfleur and the Tour des Fascines. 197a Caudebec-en-Caux197 Caudebec-en-CauxThere are several half-timber houses in the town as well which give an idea of what Caudebec must have looked like during the Middle Ages. 196 Église Notre-Dame de Caudebec-en-Caux195 Église Notre-Dame de Caudebec-en-Caux193 Église Notre-Dame de Caudebec-en-CauxThe chief architectural interest of the town lies in its Flamboyant church, Église Notre-Dame which was constructed during the 15th and the early 16th centuries. Henri IV once described it as “the most beautiful chapel in the kingdom.” It is certainly that—the belfry is 53 meters tall and its upper part is surmounted by a stone crown spire. The west façade is pierced by three doorways which portray 333 different characters from the Bible and by a remarkable rose window surrounded by small statues. 186 Église Notre-Dame de Caudebec-en-CauxInside, there is no transept and the nave is quite narrow. 185 Église Notre-Dame de Caudebec-en-CauxThe 17th century baptismal font is decorated with intricately carved panels. 187 Église Notre-Dame de Caudebec-en-CauxThe great organ is from the 16th century and has 3,345 pewter pipes. 180 Église Notre-Dame de Caudebec-en-Caux178 Église Notre-Dame de Caudebec-en-CauxThe Chapelle du St-Sépulcre at the rear of the church has a set of large stone statues (16th century) including a recumbent Christ which were originally from the Jumièges Abbey. 189 Église Notre-Dame de Caudebec-en-CauxThe Chapelle de la Vierge, or Lady Chapel is famous for its keystone which weighs over seven tonnes. 192 Église Notre-Dame de Caudebec-en-Caux181 Église Notre-Dame de Caudebec-en-CauxThe most impressive parts of the entire place are the stained glass windows which date from the 15th and 16th centuries.

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April 16 2014 4 16 /04 /April /2014 12:03

005 Colza

The weather was spectacular this last weekend that I decided to take a trip to the region around Haute Normandie known as the Seine Maritime. After making several stops to get pictures of the fields covered in rape flowers, or colza as it is known in France, I made my first stop in the delightful city near the Channel known as Fécamp. 009 FécampIt is a fishing port as well as a center for pleasure boats. According to its late medieval founding legend, the trunk of a fig tree (ficus) carrying the Precious Blood of Christ collected by Joseph of Arimathea was washed ashore on the riverbank at Fécamp in the 1st century. Immediately, a fountain of holy blood gushed from the site; the relic attracted many medieval pilgrims, enhancing the reputation of the city. 022 Palais Bénédictine, Fécamp025 Palais Bénédictine, FécampFécamp is also known for its Palais Bénédictine where the Bénédictine liqueur is made. The building, designed by Camille Albert in the late 19th century is a mixture of neo-Gothic and neo-Renaissance styles. Inside is a museum that displays a large collection of objets d’art as well as rooms adorned in chestnut and oak. 030 Palais Bénédictine, Fécamp033 Palais Bénédictine, Fécamp036 Palais Bénédictine, FécampThe most interesting parts of the building are the displays of objects and documents relating to the history of making Bénédictine liqueur as well as the visitor’s center with guided tours that show how the liqueur is made. After visiting the souvenir shop, we decided to take a hike along the sailors’ footpath (la sente aux matelots) to the top of the hill called Cote de la Vierge and leads to a park known as Cap Fagnet which overlooks the town. 042 La chapelle Notre Dame du Salut, Fécamp045 La chapelle Notre Dame du Salut, FécampAt the end of the hike one is greeted by the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Salut crowned with a golden statue of the Virgin who looks out over the sea. It was originally built in the eleventh century as a chapel where pilgrims from northern France could come to honor the “Precious Blood of Christ.” 047 La chapelle Notre Dame du Salut, FécampIt escaped destruction during the Revolution and found another religious vocation in the nineteenth century when the fishermen of Fécamp made the chapel the goal of their pilgrimages before leaving on trips to Newfoundland via the same path I climbed known as la sente aux matelots. 066 La sente aux matelots, FécampSome of the steps leading up to the chapel are adorned with religious images carved by sailors many years ago. Inside is a memorial with candles, ex-votos and flowers to all those lost at sea. 053a Semaphore, FécampAnother fixture atop the hill is the Sémaphore built in 1808 to help boats navigate to shore. 057 Les Blockhaus du Cap Fagnet, Fécamp059 Les Blockhaus du Cap Fagnet, Fécamp058 Les Blockhaus du Cap Fagnet, FécampDuring World War II, the Germans built several large bunkers and gun turrets along the alabaster coastline which can still be seen. 050 La sente aux matelots, Fécamp061 Côte d'AlbâtreThese white cliffs stretch as far as the eye can see to Étretat on one side and Dieppe on the other. 110 Abbaye de la Trinité de Fécamp105 Abbaye de la Trinité de FécampIn the city down below are many old houses as well as churches that conjure up Fécamp’s medieval history including the Abbaye de la Trinité founded in 658. The cathedral is one of the longest in France at 127 meters, equal to that of Notre-Dame in Paris. The façade of the abbey features the statues of Richard I and Richard II. 157 Abbaye de la Trinité de Fécamp151 Abbaye de la Trinité de FécampAbove the transept crossing rises the square lantern tower designed in the typical Norman style. 145 Abbaye de la Trinité de Fécamp126 Abbaye de la Trinité de Fécamp129 Abbaye de la Trinité de FécampInside the south transept is a beautiful 15th century sculpture known as the Dormition of the Virgin. To the right is the Angel’s Footprint. In 943, when the reconstructed church was being consecrated, it is said that an angel appeared and left his footprint on the stone. 130 Abbaye de la Trinité de Fécamp140 Abbaye de la Trinité de FécampThere are several recumbent effigies and tombs within the church as well including those of the two benefactors of the abbey, Richard I (943 – 996), grandson of Rollon, a Viking chief and beside him, his son Richard II (996 – 1026). 133 Abbaye de la Trinité de FécampThe high altar was rebuilt in the mid-eighteenth century with a lavish canopy of gilded wood and pillars of red marble. 132 Abbaye de la Trinité de Fécamp135 Abbaye de la Trinité de Fécamp138 Abbaye de la Trinité de FécampThe side chapels around the church are all enclosed with stone walls which are intricately decorated and altars that are ornately carved. One interesting feature of the church is the astronomical and tidal clock which dates from 1667 and is still in good working order. 148 Abbaye de la Trinité de FécampIt is one of the first clocks of its kind to display two needles to indicate the hours and minutes as well as the phases of the moon and tidal forces of Fécamp. 141 Abbaye de la Trinité de FécampBehind the high altar facing the chapel to Our Lady is the tabernacle containing the relic of the Precious Blood of Jesus. 155 Abbaye de la Trinité de FécampThe fine organ above the western portal was installed in 1746. 071 Maison des Moines insoumis, FécampAcross from the abbey is the home of the monks from the seventeenth century, known as Maison des Moines insoumis. 107 Palais Ducal, FécampAnother interesting residence is the Ducal Palace which was originally built in the 10th century on the site of an ancient nunnery destroyed by the Vikings. At the end of the 12 century, Henri II Plantagenet, the husband of Eleanor of Aquitaine, came to Fécamp to assert his rights over Normandy. He built the enormous fortified bastion on top of the ancient ramparts which can still be seen today. It was eventually dismantled and the castle was integrated into the monastic property around the abbey. 103 Muraille des Ducs, FécampThis is a long section of wall known as the Dukes’ Wall which is a vestige of the defensive wall of the palace and the Abbey erected in the 11th century. 078 La tour de la Maîtrise, FécampThis is La tour de la Maîtrise or Choir School Tower. It is part of the ancient exterior fortifications whose defences were composed of alternating round and square towers. It rises to two floors and in the Middle Ages it housed the famous Fécamp music school that provided the abbey with instrumental and vocal music. It is said that the choir’s repertoire was so extensive that it could be sung for ten years without ever repeating the same piece twice. 082 Quartier des Hallettes, FécampA walk through the old town takes you past many old houses which were originally workshops and homes of artisans and shopkeepers attracted to this area by the continual flow of pilgrims who visited the abbey. 091 l'ancien Hôpital de FécampNearby is the old hospital with a chapel built over a stream. Another very small building in the area is known as the Chapelle du Précieux-Sang and although it is not recognized by the local Catholic Community, in the garden adjoining the chapel is a spring whose waters are supposed to cure eczema. 093 Chapelle du Précieux-Sang, FécampAccording to some 19th century documents, owners of this garden charged patients for a few ounces of the holy water. One of the nicest surprises that Fécamp had to offer was le petit parc, a small green oasis located amidst all the buildings in the newer part of town. 051 La sente aux matelots, Fécamp117 Le petit parc de Fécamp111 Le petit parc de FécampInside, is the memorial to fisherman lost at sea erected for the “Thousand Years of Normandy” celebrations in 1911. It draws inspiration from the figure heads of Viking ships. 113 Monument des marins disparus en mer à Fécamp114 Monument des marins disparus en mer à FécampIn all, Fécamp was a great place to spend the morning.

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