Easter was a trip to northern part of France: Normandie or
historical Duchy of Normandy.
Driving through its landscapes was total mind relaxation 🙂
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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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 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 Loré, 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.
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 Tessé. 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!