Archive for November 21st, 2017

November 21, 2017

And I present you,Meaux!

And I do present you with Meaux, a historical town east of Paris in department 77 Seine-et-Marne near Disneyland Paris and the Champagne region, but most importantly the fields of war of World War I and its gothic Cathedral , one of the best in France.

A while back I didnt even know there was a Meaux, a few years back. That is until I happened to meet a young lady in Paris ! She was a native of Meaux but work in Paris as a secretary to a real estate company.  The rest is history, wife,and 3 boys, and made many trips to Meaux, over the years.  It would be hard to tell you everything about the town, that I have come to know every bit nook and cranny of it, where my boys roll in baby carriages since age 5 weeks !! for one and 6 mos for the other 2,twins !!! Even along cobblestone streets around the Cathedral.

There is still family in small villages all around it ,and had come back for visits. Meaux was my first introduction to France; when every one arriving at CDG or Orly airports rush to see Paris and others, I was humbly taken a bus , yes a bus to reach Meaux and hook up with my girlfriend….::) Then wife of 28 yrs, this  was 1990.

The bus still does its runs no 20, here is the pdf of its schedule:  https://www.transdev-idf.com/ligne-20%20express/meaux-tremblay-en-france/054-SME20

Once the habit came back, and drove and took the trains. To come here from Paris, you can take the train at Gare de l’Est to the station in Meaux, or you can drive on the A4 connecting with the A140 straigth into town or do the scenic ride on the N3 from Porte de Pantin in Paris all the way to Champagne country passing thru city center Meaux.

It is worth spending a night here or more as it is very close to Disneyland Paris. As we came with my parents and too large of a family already there (until sisters married away nearby) we use hotels such as the Campanile hotel at webpage  https://meaux.campanile.com/en-us/, very good friendly folks used for family gathering over the years. In city center, the historic Le Richemond is grand and very nice by the river Marne at good prices, webpage : https://le-richemont-hotel-meaux.booked.net/en/

The town is divided into quartiers or neighborhood some newer away from the river and the old ones from times afar such as the city center or centre ville, and ,the Marché , just across from the bridge over the river Marne, the Faubourg Saint-Nicolas (where my wife was from), the Châage-Saint Faron or area of the hospital (where she was born), and the ave de la Republique/La Croix de Varenne, from where the escapee Louis XVI was brought back to Paris spending a night here.

There is a new WWI museum nearby ,actually next to the Monument Americain in honor of US soldiers who participated in the Battle of the Marne here. Well you can read a lot above on my previous posts on the town.

Here I like to tell you a bit on the St Stephens Cathedral (St Etienne) of Meaux. A wonderful gothic Cathedral where only one bishop is buried ,he is the Eagle of Meaux, confessor of king Louis XIV and bishop of Meaux, Bossuet.

The city can claim wholly this beautiful Gothic Cathedral and its episcopal palace now museum , the garden done by André Le Nôtre!!! the remains of the medieval ramparts, and its historical festival recreating the middle ages! A must. Meaux is the biggest town in Seine-et-Marne, and the Cathedral took 350 years to built it, when normally a Cathedral took 100 years. This gives it a unique architecture and one of the rarest in France with remnants of the Gothic in the middle part of the Cathedral, like the Choir, then the Rosary and organ tribune in a flamboyant style post 15C. Between the two a part of the nave stayed with its primitive style of the 13C; the stained glass are smaller.

It used to hold a cemetery of priests and bishops, today there is only one. The Eagle of Meaux as he was called. Two huges statues honor the centenary and bicentenary of his death inside the Cathedral. The old Chapter still is authentic and where the priest elders gave justice; you go in now on guided visit only. The Palace was the home of the bishop and it became a museum in 1908.

You reach the lower rooms ,the Chapel , and the bedroom of the Bishop as well as a reception room. The wooden floor is from the 19C, the windows gives you a view over the garden or Jardin Bossuet bordered with chestnut trees. The geometrical shape reminds us of a miter for the Bishops. It was designed by Le Nôtre. This green space link the episcopal palace museum to the walls of the old fortifications and the town.  At the times it was only a garden as well as a part of the town with canons houses; they purchased the land and later the bishop purchased the ramparts to enclosed all and creating the suspended garden in 1642! It was a great idea because today , are the only ramparts still on in Meaux. The whole is to be visit for free as well as the Cathedral, garden and courtyard (very nice). You can get information in France on tel +33 (0) 1 64 33 02 26. For individual guided visits they are done from April to November twice per month. They are free access on the weekends from April to October.

The museum or Musée Bossuet as I said opened in 1908  in the episcopal palace; today we can see an  aquarelle by Delacroix , and a portrait by  Courbet, given by the son of Chemistry NObel Prize winner Henri Moissan, before going to WWI in 1914.  The museum , also , gives credit to its biggest donor the neurobiologist Jean-Pierre Changeux, that gave it about 50 portraits and about 20 engravings.  You will see a huge herborist collection of 18 volumes given to the museum by him in the 19C.  In the Chapel , the town has put enclosed glass furniture with archeological items like a collar on shells from the Black Sea dating from  4 000 years BC.  A room is dedicated to portraits representing Bossuet.  The museum is concentrated with paintings from the 17C to the 19C, and has on display between 1000 and 15000 works. Admission is 3,10 € , free for those under 18, students and on Wednesdays, hours are from 10h to 12h and 14h to 17h , closed Sunday mornings, Mondays, and Tuesdays all day.

What better way to finish the post with a video on the Cathedral and museum and Meaux.

Enjoy your week wherever you are, happy travels; Cheers!!!

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