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Month: May 2019

abbey 95

Köln, Deutschland

Some time ago, still living in Brussels, – I realized I have a friend from hometown in Croatia that lives currently in Köln.

I used some app for shared drive and arrived in 2 hours. My friend was waiting for me at the main station. 🙂

It  is the largest city of Germany’s most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, making it the fourth most populous city in Germany after BerlinHamburg, and Munich. It is the largest city on the Rhine river…

The city is famous for the Cologne Cathedral or in deu. Kölner Dom. This roman catholic monument started to be built in 13th century and it is the biggest example of gothic architecture.

Cologne’s medieval builders had planned a grand structure to house the reliquary of the Three Kings and fit its role as a place of worship for the Holy Roman Emperor. Despite having been left incomplete during the medieval period, Cologne Cathedral eventually became unified as “a masterpiece of exceptional intrinsic value” and “a powerful testimony to the strength and persistence of Christian belief in medieval and modern Europe”

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Rouen, France – steps of Jeanne d’Arc đź—ˇ

Rouen is a city on the River Seine in the north of France. It is the capital of the region of Normandy. Formerly one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe, Rouen was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy during the Middle Ages.

We made a short stop in this city to have lunch and spread our legs from the long ride as coming back to Brussels. Bad for me, I soon realized this city deserves much more attention. So I promised to come back – event though I do not re-visit. Life is to short! World is to wide!

The first stop was Le gros horloge (The Big Clock) recently restored, located in the middle of the Rue du Gros Horloge.

Le gros horloge

It is a 14th century astronomical clock.

The clock is installed in a Renaissance arch. The mechanism is one of the oldest in France. The Renaissance facade represents a golden sun with 24 rays on a starry blue background. The dial measures 2.5 metres in diameter. The phases of the moon are shown in the oculus of the upper part of the dial. It completes a full rotation in 29 days. The week days are shown in an opening at the base of the dial with allegorical subjects for each day of the week.

Already in love? Me too…

The little cobbled pedestrianised streets will accompany your weekends, holidays… These incomparable charming streets are decked on both sides with timber-framed houses dating from the Middle Ages were so cozy to my traveller heart…

Then the 16th century glory of the Palais de Justice… no it is not a cathedral, yet…

Now, this is the Cathedral… Ready?

It started on the site of the 4th century local church. Then, all the buildings perished during a Viking raid in the 9th century. The Viking leader, Rollo, founder of the Duchy of Normandy, was baptised here in 10th century and buried as well. The next generations of his sons were re-constructing the building to become greater and greater.

The gothic church became the Cathedral in 15th century . In the late 16th century the cathedral was badly damaged during the French Wars of Religion: the Calvinists damaged much of the furniture, tombs, stained-glass windows and statuary. 

The statue of Jeanne d’Arc
The relics from the baptizing ceremony of Viking king who brought the Christianity later to Baltics

Time for lunch. We went typical Norman: the neck of the beef… yuck! But apparently the favourite dish of the former French president Jacques Chirac.

The last rushy thing we did was the Place du Vieux MarchĂ© – famous again for the timer houses but also for being the burning site of Joan of Arc. Yes, I am a total fan of this discussible icon so the feeling was weird. Ebven more, when I realised that the marking place was some badly recognized statue and modern church… Not enough for this French saint who ran the battles against English to free the nothern France.

However, there is still a lot to see and space to update this post… Gustave Flaubert, Claude Monet…

Until next time, Rouen!

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Normandie ♠️

Easter was a trip to northern part of France: Normandie or
historical Duchy of Normandy.

Driving through its landscapes was total mind relaxation 🙂

Domfront

On our way to Mont St Michel, we had an opportunity to stop in city of Domfront – established in the 6th century round the oratory of the hermit St. Front, and played an important part in the wars against the English and the French Wars of Religion.

The most impressive was the castle from 11th century. Firstly occupied by the forces of Geoffrey of Anjou, and then it was besieged by William the Conqueror, duke of Normandy.

Who ever possessed the castle, had an amazing view on the lilacs 🙂

Alencon

The city is located less than 200 km from Paris.

William Duke of Normandy, later known as William the Conqueror and king of England
Then the citizen William of Poitiers insulted William by hanging animal skins from the walls, in reference to his ancestry as the illegitimate son. As a revenge, William had a number of the citizens’ hands and feet cut off so Alençon remained occupied by the English during the Anglo-Norman wars until 13th century.

It was Great Saturday so we decided to visit the local market and buy some food for the Eastern breakfast.

Quail

The 16th century Basilica of Notre-Dame d’Alençon is more or less dominating the cityscape.

Alençon lace or point d’Alençon is a needle lace that originated in Alençon. It is sometimes called the “Queen of lace.” Lace making began in Alençon during the 16th century and the local industry was rapidly expanded during the reign of Louis XIV, producing the lace in the Venetian style in 17th century. So soon, Alencon became famous as the prominent historical personalities like Marie Antoinette were wearing dresses trimmed with Alençon lace.

The rest of the day we spent in the park. I have to say I was impressed with mini labyrinths and bridges and houses for birds 🙂

Saint-CĂ©neri-le-GĂ©rei

A short afternoon trip to this place just to get more into nature and have a drink while watching the sunset. It was incredible.

Every corner of this small, beautiful place is picturesque and calling for a beauty shot.

Some sacrla bees which attacked the church demolishers

Le Mans

In the old town, the Gothic-style Le Mans Cathedral of St Julian occupied my mind, as it features stained-glass windows and flying buttresses.


Henry II Plantagenet, king of England, was born and baptized here

As being located on the Sarthe River, it was reaching its glory in medieval times. Hence the streets and houses dating from that time are just astonishing:

Château de Carrouges

Dating partly from the 14th century, located in the commune of Carrouges, in the Orne department,it is a beautiful romantic castle surrounded by typical stylized gardens.

But before everything, please, allow me to update you with colza fields. There is something so beautiful i them. I think I like them more than the tulip fields in The Netherlands.

So, the castle.

It is unusual in its combination of an austere fortress with a comfortable residence. The original fortifications at Carrouges were besieged and destroyed by English forces during the Hundred Years War. After the war, the château was rebuilt by Jean Blosset, grand seneschal of Normandy, in the 15th century.

The entrance to the castle is quite special:

Once in, I was amazed by the space and the water digged around.

In the 16th century, the family of Le Veneur de Tillières came into possession of the château. It was extended several times until the 17th century, with notable additions including a gatehouse, the western bastion, and the grand apartments. The interior was remodelled in the 18th century, when the music room was built. The last Le Veneur sold the château to the French state, and from 1944 it was restored and is open to the public.

Originally an oppidum, or defensive hill town, located at the southernmost border of the Norman duchy of William the Conqueror, Carrouges was vainly besieged by the Plantagenets in 12th century. It was destroyed by the English in 14th century, at the beginning of the Hundred Years War.

Funniest thing, french King Henry IV and Catherine de Medici were sleeping here on their way to Mont Saint Michel. I say funny, cause Catherine de Medici was originally from Florence, were the Medici family was ruling across. I was just 10 days ago there, following their route. 🙂 Past and present intercepted.

Perhaps the most interesting part was the collection of the buttons from the hunting, and the trophies, of course.

Fresnay-sur-Sarthe

Fresnay-sur-Sarthe is a commune in the Sarthe department in the region of Pays de la Loire in north-western France. So technically, it does not belong to Normandy, but as it is close enough to visit when you are in Normandy – I will keep it under this post.

The city is gathered around the castle on the rock which was erected by William the Conqueror.

In 1100, Henry I decided to join the Maine to the Anjou, protecting the Maine against “North Mans” (Vikings)’s attacks. At that time, the city was then called Fresnay-le-Vicomte. It was the time of the reign of Charles the Bald. 🙂

The strategic importance of the Castle of Fresnay was particularly highlighted during the Hundred Years’ War. Successively occupied by the adventurers of Philippe de la Chèze, in 1356, then captured by the English troops of King Henry V, in 1417, it came back to the French, thanks to Ambroise de LorĂ©, future companion of Joan of Arc.

In 1420, the city was again taken by the English who occupied the place for thirty years (1420 to 1450). Heavily affected by the Hundred Years’ War, Fresnay also had to suffer from the Wars of Religion; in 1562, it was devastated by the Huguenots. From then, the castle started to gradually fall into ruins.

Nowadays, the castle is a park. And the city is a maze. I stumbled upon the small one room museum of sarthe and Normandy lace. It was cute and educative. Just have a look 🙂

To the very end: the parish church of Fresney sure Sarthe. This building dates from the transition period between the Romanesque style and the warhead. It was built in place of an ancient church ruined during wars. The church of Fresnay is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Maine in Russard sandstone.

Bagnoles-de-l’Orne

This commune is famous for its Hydrotherapy baths, which are known for their supposed healing powers for rheumatic, gynaecologic and circulatory problems. The origins of thermal activity are said to date back to the Middle Ages. The spa is centred on the lake, which is formed by the River La Vée, before it enters a deep gorge cut through the massif of the Andaines Forest.

Local legend tells of the medieval lord, Seigneur Hugues de TessĂ©. Believing that his once-glorious horse, “Rapide”, was reaching the end of its life, Seigneur Hugues decided to abandon it in the Andaines Forest. He was amazed when the animal returned home some time later, strong and totally revitalized. Without resentment, “Rapide” took its master along to the waters of Bagnoles where he drank and was also rejuvenated. The spa was born.

And for this very hot hot springish day, I leave you with the refreshments: calva de Normandie 🙂 Apple fermantion!