Archive for August 20th, 2018

August 20, 2018

Collegiale Church of Notre Dame de Mantes la Jolie!

Now let me tell you about one from my old territory of the Yvelines dept 78 in the region of ïle de France. This is the farthest from Paris but also a Royal town of France. Why because king Henri IV in a letter to Gabrielle d’Estrées, his mistress, who resided in Mantes, the king wrote to her: “I come to Mantes, my Pretty” ,and so it stuck as Mantes-la-Jolie!

Mantes la Jolie

And we spent lots of time in the city because of its wonderful market, and the train line from Paris Saint Lazare for my oldest son restaurant/hostellerie studies in Mantes. Therefore, even if wrote before on the city, it really deserves to be written on its most beautiful emblem , the Notre Dame Church.

Several posts on the city but took one for reference here: Mantes Royal town of France

And now let me get up to the Collégiale Church Notre Dame of Mantes!

The Collegiale Church  Notre-Dame de Mantes-la-Jolie is a gothic Church of the 12C and 13C located in Mantes-la-Jolie, on the banks of the Seine river in the department 78! Yvelines, in the region of Ïle de France. The total length is about 68 meters and the length of the nave and choir about 58 meters; the total height of the towers is 61 meters. The collegiate Church of Notre-Dame consists, beyond the massif  facade, of a nave of seven arched bays of  warheads flanked by collateral vaulted with quadripartite warheads. The high nave is on three levels with large arches in broken arcs resting on an alternation of weak buttresses and strong pylons, arched grandstands of quadripartite warheads and broken cradles, and finally broken arch windows. The bedside, which supplements the composition, was not originally gifted with any Chapel. The radiant chapels, as well as those of the aisles, are additions to the 13C and 14C. The western façade is pierced by three large carved portals surmounted by a rose, crowned by two towers, the appearance of which was profoundly altered by 19C restorations.

Mantes la Jolie

The Collegiate Church Notre Dame of Mantes la Jolie  is one of the top 3 Churches of Île-de-France by its size and its seniority, one of the flagships of Gothic architecture  from the 12C and 13C. It is a simple nave, framed from a low side, without a Transept, which ends with an apse surrounded by an ambulatory and 9 radiant Chapels built in the 13C and 14C. The west-facing façade is pierced by 3 large carved gates surmounted by a rosary.

Mantes la Jolie

More than 800 years of history, begun towards 1150AD, it was completed towards 1350AD  after several work campaigns; the South tower was built towards 1250 and the North Tower by 1510. At its construction, the Collegiate Church reflected the power of the Capetian against the Norman Dukes. This rivalry explains the construction of a building of such imposing dimensions. Integrated into the defensive system of the city, it has been the subject of constant attention of the Royal family.  Philippe-Auguste himself will take charge and the title of Abbot of Mantes.  Built in the place of an ancient church attested before the 10C, the Collegiate Church was included within the walls of the Royal Castle of Mantes , which was destroyed in the 18C. Seat of the mighty Brotherhood of merchants known as the Assumption  in which the aldermen had traditionally been chosen, the Collegiate Church also possessed the title of Royal Chapel. The kings of France themselves or their closest relatives, up to Philip Augustus, were regularly appointed secular abbots of the Church. It was certainly under the joint impetus of the merchants and bourgeois of Mantes and the king of France that the reconstruction was decided and carried out from 1140. Where the heart of king Philippe Auguste was deposited while he died at the old castle now only some ramparts walls left

Mantes La Jolie Mantes la jolie

During the French revolution, the Collegiate Church is severely damaged. In particular, numerous statues of the façade were mutilated in 1794. The central portal dedicated to the Virgin was damaged . The Church was then converted to a temple of reason , then became successively a factory of saltpeter and an Arsenal. After the signing of the Concordat in 1801, some emergency restoration work was carried out, an important restauration was carried out in the 19C as well. The restoration of the North tower is carried out from 1851 to 1855.

Some important aspects to see while here are

The portal of the Resurrection in the west façade, is the oldest work of the Church. It was allegedly directed by 1150-1175 using white stone of Vernon or blonde of Ile de France by the workshops that worked in St Denis and Paris. This portal is dedicated to the resurrection of Christ. Sculpted in a more archaic style, it shows less technical mastery of the artist.

The portal of the Virgin, the main entrance of the Collegiate Church dedicated to Mary and her assumption. The portal of the Virgin is considered a masterpiece of Western sculpture. It consists of 2 sets designed to be 10 or 15 years apart. The lower part, below the level of the base of the lintel, had to be executed very shortly after the portal of the Resurrection. The whole upper part  vaulted and eardrum, is noticeably posterior.

The portal of the Aldermen, located to the right of the façade, this very richly decorated portal was built by 1300-1325  at the request of the aldermen of the city. It resembles its composition and style at the south portal of the Rouen Cathedral. It was severely damaged during the French revolution. It lost notably the statues of the jamb in the lower part and part of the decoration of the eardrum where the heads of the statues disappeared.


The highest gothic nave of the 12C with an elevation of the nave is divided into 3 floors of substantially equal height, the large arcades of the ground floor, those of the grandstands and finally the high windows. The layout of the nave is largely due to its 3 vaults of 6-pointed warheads , each embracing 2 spans. The tall Rosary of Mantes is one of the oldest in France. The oldest signs go back to the vicinity of 1210. It represents the Last Judgement. The central Oculus is occupied by a mandorla where the judge Christ sits, detaching himself on a blue background populated by red stars. He is surrounded by an angel choir whose winged busts come out of the clouds. The first circle, which obeys an axis of vertical symmetry, is that of angels and Intercessors. The blue background of the quad is opposed to the red on which the decorative rinses that complete each compartment are detached.

Mantes la jolie

At the south side of the Church, the Chapel of Navarre or the rosary, is undoubtedly the most famous. It was founded in 1313 by the wish of Marie de Brabant, second wife of Philip III le Hardi. Her wish was to equip the Collegiate Church with two Chapels dedicated to Saint Paul and Saint Louis. It is a double chapel, the result of the meeting of two chapels between 1352 and 1364. Four 14C sculptures, saints and donor queens are affixed to the walls. Traces of polychrome and a set of fake red-seal fixtures on a white background are still visible today. The weapons of Navarre painted in red on a yellow background, are observed on some batteries. A piece of funerary slab was reused in the steps. It now celebrated from the initiative of Queen Jeanne of Evreux and of  France, Queen of Navarre, to have this Chapel called of Navarre in the 7th and 8th bays of the lower south side.

Mantes la jolie Mantes la Jolie

No archive has been kept on this subject; only the architectural analysis shows today the chronology of the construction. The 1st, which marks the beginning of the reconstruction, sees the setting up of a platform, destined to catch a gradient located in front of the facade of the old collegiate, and the foundation of the first level of facade wall of the new building. Destroyed, with the tom tom of 1794, only 4 heads were found in 1857. The eardrum set in 1180, strongly mutilated in the French revolution, represents in a style and iconography very close to those of Senlis Cathedral, the coronation of the Virgin surrounded, in the covings, by the tree of Jesse.

Mantes la Jolie Mantes la Jolie

The 2nd Construction campaign saw the buttresses of the high nave and the vaulting of the lower sides and the ambulatory set up very quickly. The 3rd phase of construction corresponds to the setting up of the grandstands throughout the Church, with the exception of the bays closest to the façade still under construction, and to the particular design of their vaulting. The setting up of the high-level windows and the high-nave vault towards 1200 marks the completion of the major work.

The Church, partially unfinished, will be taken over 15 years later by the construction of the upper levels of the facade massif. It was towards 1220 that the façade was connected to the nave and the towers were elevated. Additions and modifications followed until the 14C the right portal, offered by the mayor and the aldermen, was installed towards 1300. Depicting scenes from the childhood of Christ and Passion; Radiant chapels were added to the choir between 1300 and 1325 . During the second half of the 14C, lateral chapels were installed on the southern flank of the Church, and large windows were arranged in the grandstands of the aisles of the nave, while the vaulting was altered.

Some webpages in addition to those in my blog posts (some migtht be repeated) will help you plan your trip to this wonderful Collegiale Church of Notre Dame in Mantes, a detour is recommended.

The tourist office of dept 78 Yvelines on the Cathedral (French):

The city of Mantes-la-Jolie on the Cathedral (French):

Site on the organ of the Cathedral (French):

The parish webpage of Mantes on the Cathedral (French):

There you go another gem of my belle France. It is easy does it from Paris Saint Lazare to Mantes la Jolie station at  place du 8 mai 1945 (not to take the Mantes Ville station) ,there are two here. On the road ,take the A13 out of Paris direction Rouen (autoroute de Normandie) exit/sortie 11. Follow signs for city center, and will come to it.

And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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August 20, 2018

Cathedral Saint Julien, Le Mans!

In my humble efforts to showcase the wonderful historical architecturally stunning places of my belle France, I come to you to a fabulous city and great Cathedral.  I admit that I came here for the 24hrs auto race and the museum, but once touch base with the city, I came back for more to see it up close and personal; it was fantastic.

I like to tell you about the Cathedral Saint Julien of Le Mans; it too, deserves a post of its own. Here I go, bear with me please. The fortified city of Le Mans is in the Sarthe department 72 in the region of Pays de la Loire. The city has a great public transport system with bus, tramway, and a great train station direct with Paris which I have passed and do connections in it. By car, best underground parkings are Jacobins and pl de la République. The autoroute A11/A10 from Paris is the easiest if toll road or get on the A13 direction Rouen , go down on the A12 direction Rambouillet and there take the N12 direction Dreux continue until Alençon and there take the A28 to Le Mans for free.

For reference my previous family trips to Le Mans here

Le Mans in the Sarthe and the 24hrs

The world comes to Le Mans

And now let me tell you a bit of the history and architecture of this wonderful Cathedral of Saint Julien.

The first Cathedral was built in the 6C and the very famous Gothic choir was begun around 1220. To show the Romanesque parts of the Cathedral as clearly as possible let me tell a bit.

The nave has five double spans. The vault is Gothic the vaults of the collateral have been rebuilt. The pillars are composed of half columns engaged on a quadrangular nucleus with balusters. The elevation has three levels: the large arcades, the triforium with alternately open and blind arches, the high windows. The large arcades are in a broken arch but the archivolt is distinguished from the Romanesque nave of the early 12C. The walls of the collateral are Romanesque. The first level is decorated with blind arches. The tower of the southern end of the transept dates from the middle of the 12C. The gate of the knights, name due to the relief of Samson recessed above. The window pierced above the gate also had a defensive role. The West façade. completed around 1110-1115, the two large buttresses were built around 1160 to counter support the vaults of the nave that did not originally exist; the pediment is bicolored (rousers/limestone) The large window has decorated archivolts falling on balusters.   The South gate of the nave. Although it can be counted among the portals of the first Gothic art, it retains the traditions of the Romanesque sculpture the roman Christ of the Apocalypse of Saint John, a novel theme par excellence. These stained glass windows are from the 12C: 2nd and 3rd Quarter: The window of Ascension; the cycle of Saint Etienne ;Saint Etienne lead out of the city been stoned, and Saint Gervais flogging as well as the gorging of Saint Protais.

Le Mans

Moving on to the history and architecture.

The Cathedral of St. Julien is one of the largest buildings of the Gothic-Romanesque period of France and unique in the west of France. It is a medieval testament to the architectural style of the Gothic Angevin. Begun around 1060 by Bishop Wulgrin, it was completed in its current form around 1430. It houses the tombs of Saint Julien and Charles d’Anjou. Located on the Butte du Vieux-Mans( a hilly area of the city), the building has a tower culminating at 64 meters, making it the highest building in metropolitan area of Le Mans and dominating the country around Le Mans.

Le Mans

Le Mans

Le Mans

Le Mans

The Cathedral is located in the city center of Le Mans, north-east of the Cité Plantagenet. It is surrounded by the Place de Cardenal Grente in the north, the Place Saint-Michel in the west, the Psalette and its gardens to the east and below to the south of the Place du Jet d’Eau. It marks the end of the Grande Rue which is the main street of the Old Town.

Le Mans

Le Mans

Le Mans

The cathedral has on its western flank a rare piece attesting to the ancient presence of megaliths. It is a sandstone menhir (standing stone) with a height of 4.55 meters. This menhir dates from prehistoric times and was installed in the Place Saint Michel in 1778, following the destruction of the Dolmen de la pierre en lait ( dolmen of the Stone with milk).

Le Mans

The Cathedral’s architecture combines two major arts: Romanesque art for the nave and Gothic art for the choir and transept. The stained-glass windows that adorn it are the symbol of this fusion of genres. The exterior length is of 134 meters, and the interior nave is of 57 meters. It is a true museum of the art of stained glass, the cathedral is home to the oldest stained-glass window on site, the window of Ascension

Le Mans

Le Mans

The large organs, located at the bottom of the south Cross of the transept, were carried out between 1529 and 1535 by the factor Pierre Bert in a Renaissance style buffet, designed and sculpted according to the instructions of Symon Hayeneufve. In 1634, the brothers Jean and François de Héman restored the organ, which then had 42 games. In 1848, the division of the narrative is enlarged and that of the crankset is reinforced by the brothers Claude who carry the number of games to 46. From 1959 to 1963, Pierre Chéron began a restoration the instrument was inaugurated by Gaston Litaize in 1974. It is again restored between 2016 and 2018.

It is well recommended to see it by yours truly and of course if in Le Mans impossible to missed it. Some of the webpages available to help you plan your trip here are

Official webpage of the Cathedral St Julien , Le Mans:

Tourist office of the Sarthe dept 72 on the Cathedral St Julien:

City of Le Mans on the Cathedral :

Region Pays de la Loire on the Cathedral :

Enjoy it as much as we did. And remember ,happy travels ,good health, and many cheers to all!!!




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August 20, 2018

Cathedral of the Trinity , Laval!

Ok so let me tell you about some of the jewels of my belle France spread all over the Hexagone as we commonly call our French Republic or France. In my trips around France I have encountered with numerous wonderful surprises of great beauty, and this one is one of them. Ah yes ,the city of Laval is in the department of the Mayenne no 53  in the region of Pays de la Loire.

Just for reference my previous blog posts on Laval here

Laval in Pays de la Loire

And we Laval in the Mayenne

I came here because one of my previous boss was a native here and spoked gladly of his native city. This gave me to look up Laval, and as not too far from me decided to come. I have written before a nice spread out on the city, but need to make justice on their greatest assets, the Cathedral of the Trinity or Cathédrale de la Trinité de Laval.


Raised by the monks of the Couture of Le Mans around 1070, the Trinity was originally a dependency of the priory of Pritz. Having acquired the status of Parish Church of Laval in 1160, it then acquires a nave covered with imposing vaults of warheads of domed shape responding to the Gothic style Angevin or Plantagenet.


The Trinity experienced a phase of enlargement between 1485 and 1595, materialized by the construction of a left collateral illustrating the transition from the flamboyant Gothic style to that of the Renaissance. Becoming Cathedral of the Diocese of Mayenne in 1855, the Trinity sees its plan regulated by the addition of a portal of neo-Romanesque style, the laying of a frame with metal frame and the elevation of its cross-tower on the model of Saint-Germain des Prés of Paris. The Cathedral is located in city center between the squares Place Hardy de Lévare and Place de la Trémoille.


During the French revolution, the Church was looted, but the destruction remained minimal. The prosecutor of the Municipality of Laval, presides over this devastation and its transformation into a Temple of reason for the worship of Reason and a Supreme Being: it is said that he took pleasure in hitting the statues and ornaments himself, to break them. Among the statues that decorated the Trinity inside and outside, that of the Blessed Virgin alone is spared. It was transformed into a Statue of Liberty.


Some of the wonderful details on the architecture I can tell you are

The cathedral presents an irregular Latin cross plan. The nave kept its dimensions from the 11C, but it was largely altered in the 12C, with the addition of Gothic vaults. It has only one vessel and three square bays. The remains of the 11C Church are scarce, and the Cathedral has few Romanesque traces. The last most visible elements are the arch separating the nave from the transept, as well as the berry passages that frame the present transept dating from the 16C and 19C. It is not in the same location as the Middle Ages transept, which disappeared during the extension of the choir. Indeed, it was behind the grand arc Romanesque, while the present transept is in front. It therefore reuses the last span of the nave, which acts as a cross-aisle of the transept. The chorus is the result of multiple extensions and it is the part of the cathedral that has the least coherence. There are only a few pillars of the Romanesque bedside, and the general structure is given by the bedside built in the 15C. The bell tower, of square construction, is located on the crossroads of the transept, a place it occupies since the 11C. The current building dates to its lower part of the 12C instead, a top floor was built in 1905. It is granite and it is also opened by geminate berries, but they are wider than those of the 12C.



The big Gate. In 1597 a monumental portal was built with the use of ancient pilasters, Columns, pediments…etc. The original statues, which disappeared during the French revolution, were replaced in 1853 by work made in terracotta of the Agêts, and representing Saint Benedict and Saint Bernard, the Popes Saint Léon the Great and Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Augustine and Saint Ambrose. These statues were replaced in August 2010 by copies for conservation reasons. At the foot of the gate, a double-flight staircase was built in 1734. Six tapestries of the manufacture of Felletin, end of the 17C, cover the walls of the nave. They illustrate Judith’s book.  The central picture represents the mystery of the Holy Trinity: three equal globes arranged in a triangle illuminate the Virgin kneeling, surrounded by the 12 apostles.  Below in a niche, the Holy Trinity: God the Father Blessing, the son holding a cross and above them the dove of the Holy Spirit. On both sides, in niches, Saint Peter carrying the keys and St. John the Evangelist. On either side of this altarpiece, built in the middle of the 17C, are the terracotta statues of St. Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi of the 17C as well. These tapestries were made during the second half of the 17C they were probably made for the Benedictine convent which was in the Place de Hercé before the revolution.



The portals of the transept are the most remarkable. The 16C presents the transition between Renaissance art and Classical style. It presents ancient registers and ornaments, such as Corinthian columns and enlargements, but also medieval details, as the Romanesque arch that overcomes the Cathedral door has a number of elements of the 18C, such as the Tribune, which dates from 1770. It supports the organ and has a wrought iron guardrail on Corinthian columns. Underneath, the oval baptistery in red marble dates from the same time. The crucifix that faces the pulpit is also of the 18C, it is made of polychrome wood. The chair dates from 1803. The Cathedral contains a second marble altar, dating back to 1554. This is perhaps the first marble work ever done in Laval the Tribune organ is a gothic-styled Coll. It was purchased after a subscription launched in 1852. The original great organ was sold.



Before the French Revolution, the Trinity Church had thirteen altarpieces. Only the great altarpiece has survived the great altarpiece is characteristic of the Laval school which developed in the 17C and radiated throughout the west of France. It has three floors, the big work in limestone, while the columns and inlays are in marble. The ensemble consists of terracotta statues representing St. John, St. Peter and the Trinity. The set is eight meters high.



Some webpages to help you plan your trip to the Cathedral are

Tourist office of Laval on the Cathedral

City of Laval on its history

A wonderful piece of Cathedral that should be visited in nice medieval Laval, department of Mayenne no 53, and region of Pays de la Loire. Enjoy it

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


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