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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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June 11 2011 7 11 /06 /June /2011 05:00

1317 La façade François I, Château du LudeThe origins of the château date back to the 10th century when it was first situated on the border of Anjou on the banks of the river Loir.  It was used as a stronghold to protect the region against attacks from the Normans.  1301 Entrée, Château du LudeUntil the 15th century, it was the property of the great feudal lords, belonging first to the counts of Anjou and later to the high-ranking families of Beaumont, Brienne and Vendôme.  1302 West façade, Château du LudeBy the time of the Hundred Years’ War, le Lude had already acquired a military strength that ranked it amongst the most important strongholds in France.  In 1425, it was captured by the English who occupied the château for two years with a garrison of 1,200 men.  It was delivered by the French Gilles de Rais, the legendary “Barbe-bleue,” friend of Joan of Arc.  1304 West façade, Château du LudeIn 1457, the château became the property of Jean de Daillon, a native of Poitou who was a good friend of Louis XI.  His descendants occupied the château and converted it into a comfortable dwelling until the end of the 17th century.  Each Daillon held high positions in the court as chamberlains, governors and senators.  Amongst their renowned visitors to the château were Henry IV, Louis XIII and the Marquise de Sévigné.  1315 La façade François I, Château du LudeIn 1751, the château was sold to Joseph Duvelaër, a rich ship owner of the Compagnie des Indes.  Made Count of le Lude by Louis XV, he undertook the task of restoring the château which he left to his niece, Françoise Butler, Marquise de La Vieuville.  1316 La façade François I et la façade Louis XVI , Chât1333 La façade Louis XVI , Château du LudeShe defended the château during the Revolution with the aid of the inhabitants of le Lude.  However, furniture had to be sold and most of the archives destroyed.  Élisabeth Marquise de Talhouët, daughter of Marquise de La Vieuville, inherited the château.  In succession, Frederic de Talhouët, a general under the Empire, who married the daughter of the Count Roy, Minister of Finance to Louis XVII and Charles X, passed it on to their son Auguste, deputy senator and minister under Napoléon III.  1322 Terrasse, Château du LudeFrom 1892, it belonged to the Marquis René de Talhouët-Roy, mayor of le Lude for 56 years.  On his death, the château fell into the hands of his grandson, Count René de Nicolaÿ who died in 1954.  1325 Neo-gothic façade, Château du Lude - Copy1327 Neo-gothic façade, Château du Lude1336 La façade Louis XVI, labyrinthe, Château du LudeHis wife, the Countess Renée de Nicolaÿ, Princess d’Orléans Bragance then became the owner.  It was she who opened the château to the public in 1958.  Being highly ranked in France, it has experienced the pleasure of visits from King Karl Gustav of Sweden, Georges Pompidou, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and the Queen Mother of England.  It is now the property of the Count and Countess de Nicolaÿ who live in the château with their children.  1304a Vestibule Renaissance, Château du LudeThe Entrance Hall is decorated in the Renaissance style and portrays four paintings from the 15th century Italian School representing the Evangelists.  The ceiling includes the Daillon coat of arms which alternates with the letter D.  1304b Vestibule Renaissance, Château du LudeAt the foot of the staircase is a bronze statue called the Angel of Le Lude, which was part of the decorative scheme of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.  It was sold in the 19th century by the Marquis de Talhouët-Roy to pay for the restoration of the roofs.  1307 Bibliothèque, Château du LudeThe large library was decorated in the 19th century.  It protects the impressive book collection of the Duke de Bouillon.  There are over 2,000 books, the oldest dating to the 16th century.  In the middle of the room is a statue of the Count Roy, Minister of Finance to Louis XVIII and Charles X.  1305 Galerie Renaissance, Château du LudeThe Renaissance style ballroom contains the oldest furniture in the château.  On the other side of the chimney are two royal portraits, representing the regent of France, Duke d’Orléans, nephew of Louis XIV and his wife, Mademoiselle de Blois, daughter of Louis XIV.  Opposite are four costumes entirely hand-embroidered, dating back to the 18th century.  The large 19th century writing desk belonged to the Count Roy.  The large bronze gate at the end of the room was presented to the artisans of the town to the Marquis de Talhouët-Roy at the end of their restoration work in the château.  The Blue Room is the first room of the 18th century wing.  It contains the family portraits of the Talhouët family.  The furniture dates back to the era of Louis XIV and Louis XVI.  1308 Le grand salon, Château du LudeThis is the Main Reception Room of the château.  In each corner are large mirrors, toning down the angles and enlarging the room.  The Chinese porcelain ornaments of the 18th century belonged to Mr. Duvalaër, the ship owner of the Compagnie des Indes.  The chandelier made from German crystal weighs one ton.  The two paintings on either side of the chimney can be attributed to François Boucher.  The next room is the Small Room where one can find the family portraits from the 17th century to the present day.  On the stand is a portrait of the Countess Renée de Nicolaÿ.  1307a Cabinet des peintures, Château du LudeThe Flemish cabinet, made from ebony, dates back from the 17th century and is decorated with Biblical scenes.  The Music Room complements, once again, the magnificent Renaissance style seen throughout the château.  On the walls are Gobelins tapestries dating from the 17th century.  The furniture, upholstered in Beauvais tapestry, dates from the 18th century.  In front of the window stands a marble bust of the Cardinal de la Tour d’Auvergne (18th century), who was a cousin of the Duke de Bouillon.  1309 Salle à manger, Renaissance, Château du LudeOn the walls of the Dining Room hang large Flemish tapestries from the 17th century.  They were hidden under the floorboards during the Revolution and found 80 years later during the restoration of the château.  The huge chimney place bears the emblem of François I, the salamander and his wife, Claude de France, the ermine.  The bronze chandelier dates from the 17th century and originates from Holland.  1310 Les cuisines, Château du LudeThe large Kitchens are arranged in a 15th century room.  Here one can admire the arched ceilings.  The kitchens were in use up until 1945.  Their restoration in 1993 has re-emphasised its architecture and its original furniture.  1311 Les cuisines, Château du Lude1313 Les cuisines, Château du Lude1314 Les cuisines, dumb waiter, Château du Lude1312 Les cuisines, Château du LudeOne can find here: two large chimneys and their turning spits, the oven for baking bread, the kitchen range with its twelve ovens and Bain-marie, a dumb waiter, stone sink and the wood furnace, built at the end of the 19th century to heat the first floor rooms.  1324 Neo-gothic façade, Château du Lude1339 Underground cellars, Château du Lude1340 Underground cellars, Château du LudeOn leaving the kitchens, the walk by the dry moats allows one to discover the medieval walls which held the fortress and gives access to the underground passages of the 13th century.  1329 Jardin bas et Le Loir, Château du Lude1331 Jardin bas, Balustrade de pierre, Château du Lude1332 Jardin bas, Balustrade de pierre, Château du Lude1334 La façade Louis XVI, Rose Garden, Château du LudeThe large terrace with its beautiful balustrade from the 17th century overlooks the lower gardens which are lined by the Loir River, designed by Édouard André in the 19th century.  1354 Jardin de la source et Le Loir, Château du Lude1353 Jardin de la source, Château du Lude1355 Jardin de la source, Château du LudeThe walk in the park, created in 1993, offers a spectacular view of the chateau, which leads to the picturesque English garden and spring.  1352 Orangerie et Potager, Château du Lude1341 Écuries, Château du Lude1345 Écuries, Château du Lude1347 Écuries, Château du Lude1346 Écuries, Château du Lude1348 Granary, Château du LudeOn leaving the chateau, one can visit the Orangerie and Potager Garden and the old offices of the 17th century with the stables and garages used for the four-wheeled carriages below.1351 Écuries,The Well, Château du Lude

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June 10 2011 6 10 /06 /June /2011 04:02

1175 Cloître, Abbaye de l’Epau, 1229, Le MansL’abbaye de la Piété Dieu de l’Épau was founded in 1229 by Queen Bérengère of Navarre, widow of Richard the Lionhearted and Dowager Countess of Maine (who also lived in the heart of old Le Mans—Cité Plantagenêt).  It is one of the last Cistercian establishments in France. During the Revolution, the abbey was home to only 6 monks. It was then closed and the land assigned to agricultural use. In 1959, the abbey’s very survival was threatened until the local government intervened and purchased the site.  For nearly 30 years restoration work was undertaken to return the building to its original splendor. The spirit of this restoration was to restore the monument to its configuration from the 12th and 14th century.  Today, the Abbaye de l’Épau is one of the best preserved abbeys of France.  It has preserved nearly all of its buildings. Only the cloister has disappeared.  The building needed to enclose the cloister would have been somewhere in the west but it was never built.  The cloister area was probably destroyed during the redesign of monastic buildings in the 18th century.  1174 Abbaye de l’Epau, 1229, Le MansThe remaining double stone corbels which supported the structure of the wood shed, suggesting that it was not vaulted.  1188 Le Scriptorium, Abbaye de l’Epau, 1229, Le MansThe scriptorium is a rectangular room with six bays on cross-ribbed vaults whose ribs fall on the monolithic pillars with basket-shaped capitals.  Upon entering, one can see the recessed opening allowing communication with the kitchen.  It was through this opening that the copyists who worked here could warm their hands and warm their inks since the scriptorium scriptorium was not heated.  1186 Le Dortoir, Abbaye de l’Epau, 1229, Le MansThe dortoir is a large room measuring 43 by 11 meters, whose wood-paneled ceiling has been restored to its original arched profile.  It is illuminated by a series of 25 small windows.  At the north end, on one side we see the door to the stairway to the church.  At the south end is the Abbot’s room—a vaulted cell (not open to visitors), the walls of which one can see details of a fresco representing the Annunciation.  1187 Le Dortoir, Abbaye de l’Epau, 1229, Le MansThis room was also a "safe" or where the monastery preserved its valuable assets and documents.  1176 La salle capitulaire ou chapitre, Abbaye de l’Epau,The vaults which cross the chapterhouse find their base on four central square columns with octagonal capitals.  The keystone is adorned with the representation of the Sacred Lamb.  1177 Gisant de la Reine-Bérengère, La salle capitulaire o1178 Abbaye de l’Epau, 1229, Le MansIn this room rests the recumbent statue of Queen Bérengère of Navarre, founder of the abbey.  1185b La Sacristie, Abbaye de l’Epau, 1229, Le MansThe sacristy has intersecting ribs based on two central columns—monoliths with sandstone capitals and ten square balusters set into the walls.  1183 La Sacristie, Abbaye de l’Epau, 1229, Le MansOne can distinguish some murals of the 16th century along with keystones and vaults themselves being painted.  As you can see, I wasn't able to get any of those photos.  Oh well.  On either side of the door leading to the church are images of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the foot washing and the Last Supper.  On another wall is an image of a bishop submitting a document to a monk kneeling before him—this monk is probably the architect offering his plans of the abbey.  1179 Abbaye de l’Epau, 1229, Le MansThe Abbey Church—at the door of the church is an alcove which served as an enclosure which held liturgical books.  Above the entrance is another representation of the Sacred Lamb in. The Sacred Lamb, the emblem of the Abbey, is often found inside its buildings.  1182 Abbaye de l’Epau, 1229, Le MansOne cannot fail to note the highly developed transept—the nave was not finished.  This transept opens on both ends to six side chapels.  It is in these chapels that monks celebrated their Holy Offices which included Mass every morning.  1181 Autel du 13e siècle Abbaye de l’Epau, Le MansIn the north transept, isolated in a chapel is a magnificent altar of the 13th century decorated with its original polychrome adornment.  In the south transept is a wooden staircase (modern) that allowed monks to descend directly from the dormitory to the church for the Office of Vigils in the middle of the night.  1193 Cadran solaire de la Groirie -- de Trangé à l'AbbayeWithin the park surrounding the abbey, one can only wonder how to use the 17th century sundial created by a Benedictine monk in 1635.  It was originally kept in the garden of the Château de la Groirie until it was restored and placed within the abbey precincts in 2004.  There is a detailed history of this sundial including many more photographs explaining every facet of the sculpture at the Association Tempora website.

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June 9 2011 5 09 /06 /June /2011 19:52

1157 Le Mans TramwayAnother great way to get around Le Mans is to use their ultra-modern light rail service, which takes you to stops on either end of the city.  It’s not expensive and it is certainly worth trying if you are heading somewhere in the suburbs.  I chose to visit the Arche de la Nature on one of my afternoons and I took the tram from Place de la Republique to a stop just outside of the park.  1194 L'Huisne, Arche de la Nature, Le MansLocated just ten minutes from the center of Le Mans, the Arche de la Nature offers visitors a huge natural space.  1195 Arche de la Nature, Le MansAlong the footpaths, walkers can explore the river, the wooded areas and the forest, and can visit the Ferme de la Prairie (meadow farm).  A total of 450 hectares of nature open to the public permanently and free of charge.  The forest of the Arche de la Nature extends over almost 350 hectares.  1198 Arche de la Nature, Le Mans1197 Arche de la Nature, Le MansRepresentative of the region’s forested landscape, this forest is a favored habitat for a wide variety of wild animals: deer, wild boar, pheasant, etc.  There is also a remarkable 2.5-kilometer tree walk, arboretum and three marked orientation trails to choose from.  1210 Arche de la Nature, Le Mans1211 Arche de la Nature, Le Mans1212 Arche de la Nature, Le MansThe conservation farm and the kitchen garden of the Ferme de la Prairie are teeming with activities for people of all ages.  First, one needs to be able to walk at least 2.5 kilometers in the hot sun in order to reach it!  Yes, I found that out the hard way when I ventured there hoping to reach “The Inn” which I was told would serve food and refreshments.  Wrong.  They were closed and it was already after noon.  I had to wait around until 2 PM just to get a bottle of water and a morsel of cake before making the walk back to the tramway.  If you plan on visiting and you are reading my article, be warned: take food and water with you!  I didn’t have lunch until well after 3 PM.  1206 Arche de la Nature, Le Mans1207 Arche de la Nature, Le Mans1217 Arche de la Nature, Le Mans1220 Arche de la Nature, Le Mans1219 Arche de la Nature, Le Mans1214 Arche de la Nature, Le MansWith its barn, sheepfold, farmyard, stables and meadows, the farm is home to many local animal breeds, some of which are very rare (the Blanc de l’Ouest pig, the Normandy donkey, the Le Mans chicken or the Saosnoise cow).  1204 Arche de la Nature, Le Mans1199 Arche de la Nature, Le Mans1200 Arche de la Nature, Le MansAt the heart of the farm, the kitchen garden offers a great diversity of crops and gardening techniques.  The stables of the Percheron horses are open to the public as well and horse-drawn carriages are a great way to explore the park.1216 Arche de la Nature, Le Mans

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June 8 2011 4 08 /06 /June /2011 14:23

1160 Maison de l'eau, Le mansThroughout the year, the Maison de l’Eau presents to the public large aquariums with fish from the local Huisne and Sarthe rivers.  The ecosystem includes trout, bream and barbel.  1162 Maison de l'eau, Le mansThis old water mill built in 1906, also allows visitors to browse the history of water treatment and how drinking water is obtained.  1164 Maison de l'eau, Le mansMany of its old fittings are still in use for visitors to see such as the 8.5 diameter wheel and steam engine.  In 2007, a Bollée wind turbine was restored and reinstalled near the entrance.1166 Maison de l'eau, Le mans

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June 8 2011 4 08 /06 /June /2011 13:51

1130 Place Saint Nicolas, Le MansThe Saint-Nicolas quarter is actually the city center of Le Mans.  It is devoted to pedestrian shops and as of 2008, no vehicles are allowed on the streets.  La Place de la Republique is the center of the neighborhood and the main rallying point for the city.  1136 L'église de la Visitation, Place de la République, L1137 L'église de la Visitation, Place de la République, LThe Visitation Church was constructed between 1723 and 1737.  It is a very rare and beautiful example of Regency style architecture in western France.  It was built according to plans designed by Sister Anne-Victoire Pillon.  At the same location, the district is crossed by tram.  This part of the city has many old buildings although more recent compared to those in the Cité Plantagenêt dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.  1131 Empreinte des vainqueurs, Place Saint Nicolas, Le MansToday it is also the site of Vainqueurs des 24 heures du Mans where signatures, footprints and handprints of winners from the towns’ famous race can be found engraved in bronze—a regular outdoor walk of fame.1133 Empreinte des vainqueurs, Place Saint Nicolas, Le Mans1134 Empreinte des vainqueurs, Place Saint Nicolas, Le Mans    

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June 8 2011 4 08 /06 /June /2011 07:55

1138 Église Notre-Dame-de-la-Couture, Le MansThis church, now in the center of the Le Mans, was originally the abbey church of the monastery of St-Pierre-de-la-Couture.  It was built by Bertrand, a bishop from the 6th century.  The façade of the building is from the 13th century as is the impressive tympanum over the door depicting the Last Judgement with Christ in Majesty surrounded by the evangelists and saints.  The wide single nave was built in the late 12th century.  It is designed in the Plantagenet style.  1140 Le tympan, Le Jugement Dernier, 13th Century, Église1141 Le tympan, Le Jugement Dernier, 13th Century, Église1144a Germain Pilon Vierg a lenfant, Église Notre-Dame-de-The enchanting white-marble Virgin and Child dates from 1571 and was sculpted by Germain Pilon.  1143 Église Notre-Dame-de-la-Couture, Le Mans1147 La chapelle du Sacré-Coeur, Église Notre-Dame-de-la-La chapelle du Sacré-Coeur was established in the 14th century to replace a Romanesque chapel.  The woodwork on the side walls come from the old choir stalls and date from the 15th century.  The altar covered with a stone dome or canopy is a rare sight.  It is in the Renaissance style and was sculpted by Gaullier nineteenth century. The marble statues represent Ste-Catherine of Siena on the right and Saint-Dominique to the left. 1148 La chapelle de Saint-Léonfort, Église Notre-Dame-de-La chapelle de Saint-Léonfort dates from the 15th century.  The altar of stone and marble of the 18th century is dedicated to the risen Christ, triumphant over suffering and death.  In a niche above is this glorious figure of the risen Christ (terracotta 18th century).  On the lower base is the group representing the Crucifixion carved at the foot of the cross.  They are the Virgin and Saint-John, created in the 19th century. Standing on each side are two terracotta statues (19th century) worth mentioning: Saint-Sebastian on the right and Saint-Roch on the left. This particular saint is popular in many French churches as he is the one invoked against epidemics including plague.  This chapel was called the Holy Saviour until the Revolution and even given the name of Saint-Léon, probably because this is the altar that was to be used to celebrate the feast of Saint-Léon by request of Abbé Michel Bureau in the early 16th century.  On either side are life-sized statues representing an unknown saint as well as Saint-Sebastian. 1151 La crypte, Église Notre-Dame-de-la-Couture, Le Mans1152 Tombeau de Saint-Bertrand, La crypte, Église Notre-DaThe church houses Saint-Bertrand’s famous shroud (9th century) preserved underneath an altar in the beautiful 10th century crypt—altered in 1838, it has pre-Romanesque or Gallo-Roman columns and capitals.

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June 7 2011 3 07 /06 /June /2011 14:41

1125 Musée de Tessé, Le Mans-copy-1Le Musée de Tessé is the Museum of Fine Arts in Le Mans.  It offers numerous guided tours on various themes and is located just inside Tessé Park.  The building is a former bishop’s palace, itself built on the site of the former mansion of Maréchal de Tessé.  It is famous for its large Egyptian collection which contains the reconstructed tombs of Nefertari, the wife of Ramses II and the mayor of Thebes.  All of this is located underground in a specially built basement.  1129 Jardin, Musée de Tessé, Le Mans-copy-1There are several sculptures outside within the park including a nude lady painter and the modern glass sculpture Temps imparti eclipse created by Jean-Bernard Métais.  It is actually a huge hourglass.1127 Temps imparti -- Eclipse, Jean-Bernard Métais-copy-1

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June 7 2011 3 07 /06 /June /2011 13:46

1115a Église Saint-Benoît, 15-20 Century, Cité P-copy-1Église Saint-Benoît has an ancient foundation built in the 12th century.  The original church was damaged by fire in 1367.  It was extended in 1473 by Charles d’Anjou, count of Maine and renovated in the 16th century—a new nave was constructed, the south aisle and the north chapel were completed in 1523.  The north aisle was added in 1626 and the Virgin’s chapel was added in 1689.  1117 Église Saint-Benoît, 15-20 Century, Virgin and ChilIn a niche at the corner of the chancel is a terracotta Virgin and Child dating from the first half of the 17th century.  The church was renovated considerably in the 19th century and endowed with its current tower in 1900.  1115c Église Saint-Benoît, 15-20 Century, Le MansSadly all I have are pictures of the exterior since it was closed during my afternoon visit.

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June 5 2011 1 05 /06 /June /2011 12:05

A great way to visit Le Mans is to take a leisurely walk through the old town, along its narrow streets and river embankments.  1005 La cathédrale Saint-Julien et la place du Jet-d'eau,1007 La place du Jet-d'eauI started my walk at the foot of the cathedral steps at the Place du Jet d’Eau where there sits a marvellous fountain from 1853.  Further up the stairs is the Place St-Michel.  1018 La maison de Scarron, Cité Plantagenêt au MansStanding in the shadow of the Cathedral of Saint-Julien is the Renaissance house where Paul Scarron lived while he was a member of the cathedral chapter.  Its stone façade and tower date from the 12th and 15th centuries.  There are several other buildings of interest that can be found here.  1019 La maison Saint-Paul, Cité Plantagenêt au MansThe first is the Maison Saint-Paul, also known as the Maison à la Tourelle.  This Renaissance mansion from 1530 is named after the corbelled turret, which it features on its corner.  1017 Hôpital des ardents, Cité Plantagenêt au MansSecond, we have the old windows of the chapel and Hôtel-Dieu des Ardents which are from the 14th century while the building to its right is the Maison du Bon Conseil and was built in the 15th century.  1020 Le palais du Grabatoire, Bishop's House and Pilgrim'sFinally, near the western porch of the cathedral, one has a spectacular view of the Hôtel du Grabatoire (1545) and the Maison du Pelerin (16th century), which now serve as the bishop’s house and offices.  1033 Escalier des Pans de Gorron, Cité Plantagenêt, Le Ma1035 Escalier des Pans de Gorron, Cité Plantagenêt, Le MaWalking down the wide staircase of the Pans de Gorron from the Middle Ages one reaches the base of the hill and the banks of the Sarthe River.  1038 Enceinte Romaine, Tour des Pans-de-Gorron, Century et1043 Enceinte Romaine, Tour et poterne du Tunnel, 3rd CentuClearly visible from all along the quays of the Sarthe, the well-restored Gallo-Roman ramparts (3rd century) in their typically pinkish hues, are truly unique.  The alternating layers of brickwork and black and white ashlars arranged in geometrical patterns create the overall impression of elegance.  This military construction, interrupted by 11 towers, is one of the longest in France.  1108 Enceinte romaine, Tour de Tucé et tour des Ardents, 31110 Piliers de la Grange Grousset, 12th Century, Cité Pla1113 Enceinte Romaine, Tour du Petit Saint-Pierre, 3rd CentToday, nine towers can still be seen on the Sarthe side.  From these towers, a watch could be kept and any assailants fired upon.  Three different tower shapes can be seen: hexagonal (the Pans de Gorron Tower), horseshoe shaped (the Magdelaine Tower), and the ¾ circle shaped Hueau Tower.  It is thought that they were built on two levels, their original upper levels are now lost: a terrace or a roof, perhaps?  1120 La Sarthe, Jardin des Tanneries, Cité Plantagenêt, L1107 Rue Saint-Hilaire, Cité Plantagenêt, Le MansContinuing along the Sarthe toward the Jardin des Tanneries, one passes two old fountains within the Gourdaine gardens.  1045 Fontaine Abel, 18th Century, Cité Plantagenêt, Le MaThe first one, Fontaine Able, was built in the 18th century as a place for watering horses or doing laundry.  1046 Fontaine de l’Hôpitau, Medieval, Cité PlantagenêtThe second is the Fontaine de l’Hôpitau that dates as far back as the Middle Ages.  To head back into the old city, just climb the stairs which run along either side of the Tunnel des Jacobins.  1099 Tunnel, Eugène Caillaux, 1872-1877, Cité PlantagenêThis large avenue designed by Eugène Caillaux cuts directly through the center of town and was created between 1873 and 1877 to alleviate the heavy traffic within the city.  One can also climb the 15th century Tucé Staircase to reach Square Dubois and the very popular Grand Rue with its many half-timbered houses.  1055 Maison dans le Grand Rue, Cité Plantagenêt, Le MansWithin the old city there are some 100 of them.  The oldest date back to the late 14th century, the majority were built in the 15th and 16th centuries.  1069 Maison dans le Grand Rue, Cité Plantagenêt, Le MansOver the past few years, work has been ongoing to restore the original medieval colors (blue, green or red) to the houses in order to liven up the old town.  1072 Maison dans le Grand Rue, Cité Plantagenêt, Le Mans1123 Rue Dorée, Cité Plantagenêt, Le Mans1092 Cité Plantagenêt, Le Mans1090 Cité Plantagenêt, Le Mans1091 Cité Plantagenêt, Le MansWhen a house has many timber slats and its façade contains molded or sculpted work on it, it is a patrician’s house (aristocrats or bourgeois).  Many are still decorated with a corner pillar.  The pillars are thought by some to be a rudimentary street recognition system.  1048 Maison du Pilier Vert, 16th Century, Cité Plantagenê1050 Maison du Pilier à l’Ecrevisse, Cité Plantagenêt,1054 Maison du Pilier aux Clefs, 16th Century, Cité Planta1054a Maison du Pilier aux Clefs, 16th Century, Cité Plant1056 Maison du Pilier à l’Évêque, 16th Century, CitéAlong the Grand Rue one can see the Maison du Pilier Vert, Maison du Pilier Rouge, Maison du Pilier à l’Ecrevisse, Maison du Pilier aux Clefs and the Maison du Pilier à l’Évêque, all of which date from the 16th century.  1051 Maison d’Adam et Ève, 1520-1525, Cité Plantagenêt1053 Maison d’Adam et Ève, 1520-1525, Cité PlantagenêtAnother house along the Grand Rue is the Maison d’Adam et Ève, 1520-1523.  This superb Renaissance mansion was the home of Jean de l’Épine, an astrologer and physician.  1094 Maison des deux amis, 14-15th Century, Cité PlantagenThe street opposite the Grand Rue is known as Rue de la Reine Bérengère where one can find the Maison des Deux-Amis and across the street, the Musée de la Reine Bérengère with its small garden where I sat in the shade and rested beside the statue of François Liger, an architect who wrote a book about the art of iron work.  1097 Musée de la Reine-Bérengère, Cité Plantagenêt, LeTrust me, even Google has forgotten this guy.  In 1989, a bicentennial garden was created along the Rue de la Verrerie.  Although not very impressive, it offers a spectacular view of the western part of Le Mans toward the Church of Notre-Dame du Pré.  1061 Jardin du Bicentenaire, 1989, Église Notre-Dame-du-PrI didn’t have time to visit this church but my guidebook says this about it: “First built in the 5 century on the site of Saint-Julian’s tomb, this church of the former Saint-Julian’s Abbey was completely rebuilt in the 11th and 12th centuries. It remains one of the most beautiful Romanesque style monuments in the Maine region.  Max Ingrand created the stained glass windows in 1950.  A medieval style garden surrounds it and all the plants contained within the garden are those used in ancient pharmacopoeia.”  Isn’t that interesting?  If I had known this at the time, I would have made more of an effort to cross the Sarthe and visit.  Oh well.  1068 Ste-Maria Magdalena, rue de la Verrier et rue Bouquet,Once again I headed for the Grand Rue to see some more half-timbered houses and then to Place St-Pierre, the place where one can see the Hôtel de Ville (18th-19th centuries).  1077 Place St-Pierre, Cité Plantagenêt, Le Mans1076 Hôtel de Ville, ancien Présidial, 18-19th Century,Pl1080 Palais comtal-palais royal Plantagenêt, 9-15th CenturJust behind it are buildings that once made up the palace of the Counts of Le Maine.  The palace was the birthplace of the Plantagenet king Henry II, future king of England.  It also housed the Présidial (court) until the Revolution and became the seat of the Town Hall in 1790, which it still is today.  1082 Jardin Ronsard, Collégiale royale de Saint-Pierre-la-1084 Collégiale royale de Saint-Pierre-la-Cour, 11-14th CeBeside the ancient palace is the former Holy Chapel known as the Collégiale Saint-Pierre-la-Cour now used as an exhibition space and concert hall.  With the day almost at an end, I wanted to visit the cathedral precincts again.  1101 Enceinte du Château, tour Margot, tour du Papegay, toThe northern side of the ancient city has a semi-circular bastion with five towers, four of which remain and can be seen in the small square Robert Triger.  These towers were to protect the weakest point in the town’s defenses.  1103 Boulets de la Guerre de 100 ans, Cité Plantagenêt, LThe big stone balls, which were hurled against the town during the Count of Salisbury’s assult of 1425, still lie at the foot of the wall.  In the small garden, don’t miss the strange looking Bollée sundial.  1104 Cadran solaire Bolée, 19th Century, Cité PlantagenêI couldn’t figure out how it worked.  Well, that’s all for now.  There’s still so much I want to post but I’m tired of trying to remember all the history of this awesome city.  Check back again soon for more vacation pictures.

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June 5 2011 1 05 /06 /June /2011 09:12

I took so many photos during my vacation that there is no way to post all of them at once.  Instead, I will create short articles about the things I saw on my visits dans les Pays de la Loire in the upcoming weeks.  I hope you will bear with me and check my site often for updates.  My first article was about the Cathédrale Saint-Julien in Le Mans.  1001 Statue en hommage à Wilbur Wright sur la place des JaThis one is about the statue in the center of town near the Place des Jacobins (just below the cathedral) in memory of Wilbur Wright and the pioneers of aviation.  The front features two medallions.  The first is of Léon Bollée, a French automobile manufacturer and inventor who allowed the Wright brothers to use his factory in Le Mans to perfect their motors for the Wright Flyer.  The other medallion is of Orville Wright.  Below them is a diagram of the Wright Flyer that Wilbur Wright flew at Hunaudières (the site of Le Mans Speedway) on August 8, 1908 to prove to the sceptical French that he and his brother had really mastered flight and could claim the title as the first aviators.  1004 Statue en hommage à Wilbur Wright sur la place des JIn a series of exhibition flights, Wilbur managed to dissipate all doubts.  His first flight lasted only one minute 45 seconds, but his ability to effortlessly make banking turns and fly a circle amazed and stunned the French onlookers, including several pioneer French aviators.  A statue depicting a man reaching for the heavens tops the monument.  1002 Statue en hommage à Wilbur Wright sur la place des JaAlong with a short history the achievements made by the Wright brothers, the monument also immortalizes the first world record for flight distance and duration made in Auvours on September 21, 1908.  The left side of the monument is dedicated to the precursors of flight with a high relief of the departure of Icarus and a list of pioneers of aviation through the ages.  The right side is dedicated to victims of aviation including a high relief of the death of Icarus.  The back tells of the inauguration of the monument and includes the emblem of the city of Le Mans, the seal of the state of Ohio and the name of the sculptor (Paul Landowski) and architect (Paul Bigot).  Check out some great photographs by Julien Prangère and Pierre Pécastaingts detailing the artwork of the monument at the Aérostèles web page.

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