Archive for January 13th, 2019

January 13, 2019

Abbey Church of St Ouen, Rouen!

And I stay in Rouen, no problems, this is a nice town and full of jewels to see and enjoy. I repeat , I have come here many times with the family and even watch sporting events here, the amount of historcial architectural stunning places are awesome. Rouen should get more visitors , it is worth it. I like to tell you here about another jewel of architecture and history, the Saint-Ouen Abbey of Rouen.  Its abbey church is a complete example of Gothic architecture in Normandy.

The Abbey of Saint-Ouen was one of the most powerful Benedictine monasteries in Normandy, founded in 750 under the term of Saint Peter the first church at this site was a Merovingian basilica; Dadon (Saint Ouen) was buried there in 684 and then gave his name to the abbey. Also, the Benedictine monastery which succeeded him at the time Carolingian naturally took the name of this prestigious abbot.


Hildebert first true abbot, is considered the restorer of the abbey. Under his command, the abbey follows the Benedictine rule.. In 1067, William the Conqueror attests to a confirmation in favor of the abbey. The body of Saint Ouen and the other relics are transferred there in 1126

The work of the present-day Gothic abbey church began in 1318, the tombstone located in the chapel of the Abbey of St. Agnes indicates in its epitaph that Master Alexandre de Berneval, a masonry master, is the author of this Church And that he died in  1440. In all likelihood, he is depicted on the tombstone and undoubtedly is that of the two characters, the oldest, who holds in his hands a compass and a medium on which is engraved a quarter of a rosette.


In 1803, the city hall of Rouen settled in the former Dormitorium or sleeping quarters of the 18C. The Logis abbatial is demolished in 1816. The church itself, having sheltered a factory at the time of the French revolution, was then returned to the Catholic cult but without becoming a parish church, now serves as a place of exhibitions and concerts.

The western façade of the Abbey Church was built in Gothic style between 1845 and 1852, only the escutcheon is original. It is constructed of limestone from the quarries of Saint-Leu and Saint-Maximin.  The main gate is made up of three porches, whose foot-rights host statues The central portal, composed of Christ on the central pillar of the great gate, is surrounded by the apostles.  We enter the building by the portal of the Marmousets which closes the south arm of the transept. The ribs of the vault fall on two large pendant keys. The lower parts of the foot-rights and the central thomas are carved with forty medallions quadrilles tracing the life of Saint Ouen, whose statue perched on the thomas. The tympan is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

The Abbey Church of Saint Ouen measures 134 meters long, with a height of 33 meters under vaults, and has a superb crowned central tower that does not have lantern of the flamboyant Gothic style. It measures 82 meters and a structural belfry supports the bells, of which one was melted in 1701. The nave, very bright thanks to its canopies on three levels of elevation; adjacent to the north of the nave, stands the only gallery still existing cloister; It has a beautiful, flamboyant network.


The Choir and the pentagonal bedside with its eleven Chapels, visible from the garden of the town hall, is a marvel of harmony and balance, all in the radiant Gothic style, with the exception of the northern part of the choir against which remains a Romanesque apsidal, Called the Clerics’ tower, a vestige of the former great abbey. The choir is closed by grates forged in 1740-1749; above the large arcades, under the triforium, are wall paintings from the 14C. The Altar is made of gilded brass.

The Salle des Marmosets overlaid at the gate, was once used as a charrier or maybe  the Abbey’s archive room. In the 19C, this room served as a library, as evidenced by the few traces of polychromies and nails. The room has an irregular vault that is based on the bases carved with sacred and secular scenes

The stained glass windows form a coherent ensemble, of great homogeneity, made between the 14C and 15C. All the windows are filled with stained glass. On the stained glass windows are only figures on foot, given the height of the building which would make it impossible to read smaller religious scenes. Therefore, each of them represents a patriarch, a prophet or a sibyl in the north, and a saint, a prelate or an apostle in the south. The windows then open directly to the aisles. Contrary to those of the bays of the nave, the stained-glass windows are here religious scenes under architected decorations of a very fine execution.

The Rosary in the south arm was decorated with a tree of Jesse, a recurring theme in this art. The north arm shows us the hierarchy. As for the façade, its rose is adorned with a modern and abstract window, in beautiful blue hues, which slices with the rest of the scenes. The scenes of the canopies takes up the window of the tall windows of the nave with figures on foot. There is, however, one exception: a modern window by Max Ingrand representing the Crucifixion that adorns the axis.

The windows of the radiant chapels there is the largest collection of stained glass windows from the 14C in France. They illustrate for example the life of the Saints honored in the abbey. The abbey of St Ouen has an organ Cavaillon-Coll of 1890; one of the most beautiful in France with that of the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris and the greatest Cavaillon-Coll of the provinces after that of the Collegiale Saint-Pierre de Douai and the great organ of the Cathedral of Nancy. More on the organ below link.

Organ of abbey of St Ouen

The old garden of the abbey is today called the City/town Hall Garden. It can be seen, located next to the west entrance, near the portal of the Marmosets, a copy of the Big Stone of Jelling offered by Denmark to the city of Rouen, on the occasion of the millennium of Normandy in 1911.  Not far from there are a stone statue of Rollon and a bronze bust of the Belgian poet Émile Verhaeren, who died accidentally in the train station of Rouen in 1916.  To the north of the abbey Church, a basin is decorated with a sculpture evoking the abduction of Dejanie by the Centaur Nessus. Against the north wall, you the Meridian.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Rouen on the Abbey

Tourist office of Rouen on the Abbey

Tourist office of Seine Maritime dept 76 on the Abbey

Tourist office of Normandy region on the Abbey

Site on Norman Abbeys on St Ouen

There you go another jewel in pretty historical Rouen. Not to be missed!ok

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

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January 13, 2019

Palais du Tau, Reims

And while in Reims why not come to an unique museum next to the Cathedral, another awesome monument to visit in my belle France. This on in Reims, department 51 of the Marne, in the Grand Est region of France.

This is a city best known for the Champagnes and no doubt a must to see too. However, seldom the monuments are overlook. Do not miss this museum in a palace, the Palais de Tau. This is one place where the pictures of old were lost so bear with me.

The Archbishop Palace of the Tau in Reims was the place of residence of archbishops of this city. It owes its name to its plan, which was in the Middle Ages in the form of a letter T (Tau in Greek). Building adjoining the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims, it was also a royal residence at the coronations of the Kings of France in Reims.

Occupied since the 5C at this site, the former residence of the bishops and archbishops of Reims was enlarged and rebuilt over the centuries, with major reshuffles at the end of the 15C and in the years 1680-1690. The palace was transformed into a court of law, then a trade exchange during the French revolution.

Severely damaged during a fire at the beginning of WWI in 1914, following bombardments on the Cathedral, the Palais du Tau was restored in the 1950’s ,and has since 1972 a museum linked to the Cathedral and the coronations of the kings of France.

A bit of history i like

At the present location of the Cathedral, the founding Bishop Nasser built a Church dedicated to Notre-Dame at the beginning of the 5C and settled in a contiguous Gallo-Roman villa, whose vestiges were found during excavations in the lower hall of the current palace. This church is the place of the baptism of Clovis by the bishop of Reims Remi around 500 and becomes from 816 to 1825 the place of the coronation of most of the kings of France. The Palace of  Tau was the place of residence of kings for their coronation, and the Hall of the Tau hosted the Royal banquet at the end of the ceremony.

The palace in the flamboyant Gothic style at the end of the 15C. The palace retained this style for nearly two centuries, until the work of Robert de Cotte between 1688 and 1693.. The palace then acquires a classical aspect. The palace saw the archbishop’s departure in 1790 during the French revolution, during which the palace was transformed into a court of law, then on the stock exchange of Commerce. The archbishop’s return was made during the restoration in 1823. For the coronation of Charles X in 1825, the palace was restored. The separation of the Church and the State in 1905 ended the occupation of the palace by the Archbishops of Reims. On December 17, 1906, the Archbishop of Reims Louis-Joseph Luzon was forced to leave the palace.

From 1907, the palace is intended to host the ethnographic Museum of Champagne. It is necessary to wait until 1950 for the reconstruction of the palace to be opened, in order to welcome a museum which opens in 1972. Since 1972, the Palais du Tau is a national monument managed by the Centre of National Monuments ;the Palais du Tau contains the museum of the work, with important sculpted elements coming from the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, deposited after the fire of 1914 and during the 20C. The tapestries that were exposed to the Cathedral are visible in different rooms of the palace. The museum exposes the treasure of the Cathedral, and dedicates halls to the evocation of the rites of the Kings of France. It is also the place of temporary exhibitions, demonstrations and shows. It currently has a restaurant room with terrace in the courtyard.   Since March 2017, the palace has hosted a tea room, the Tau.


Things to see are plenty here!

The lower Chapel dates from the beginning of the 13C. A 14C tympan, a Virgin and the Child, is located above the passage leading to the Chapel. Since 1919, the lapidary deposit elements of the Cathedral, visible through a glass door closing the access, has been formed in this part of the palace. In particular, the fragments of the rood of the 15C Cathedral, destroyed in 1744, are shown. The lower room, located below the Tau room, dates from the 15C. It presents vaults on a cross-shaped warhead, the vault keys bearing the arms of Guillaume Briconnet. Excavations have shown levels dating back to the Gallo-Roman era and the north wall has 9C arcs

Tau Room or banquet hall; this room initially had a form of T, hence its name. This large, now rectangular room since Robert de Cotte’s works in the 17C, was previously reworked at the end of the 15C. His arms, mingled with those of ecclesiastical heraldry, are carved on the chimney.   The wooden frame of the room has the shape of an inverted ship’s hull and has nine horizontal beams. The room, heavily damaged during the fire of 1914 which destroyed this ceiling but spared the chimney was restored following old engravings. Two large wall hangings illustrating the history of the 15C Fort Roy Clovis are exhibited. This room is also called the Feast Hall as the banquet following the Royal coronation took place there

The treasure is exposed in two rooms located between the Tau room and the upper Palatine Chapel. The first presents the treasure of the old regime and the second exhibits the collections dating from the restoration, mainly the coronation of Charles X. It consists of objects from the cathedral and objects used during the coronation ceremony, among which: the reliquary of the Holy Ampulla ; the chalice of the coronation, a piece of goldsmith which was part of the regalia of the Kingdom of France; the talisman of Charlemagne, jewel of the 9C. This gift of the Caliph Haroun ar-Rachid to Charlemagne would have been found during the exhumation of the emperor’s body in 1166. Kept since in Aix-la-Chapelle, the talisman was offered to Josephine by the Bishop of the city in 1804. This jewel in gold, emeralds, garnets, beads and sapphires contains a thorn of the True Cross; the reliquary of the Resurrection dating from the second half of the 15C. The nave of St. Ursula. This ceremonial nave , carried out by a goldsmith of Tours of the late 15C, was given to Anne of Brittany in 1500. In 1505, the Queen placed statuettes of Saint Ursula and her companions on the deck of the nave. The nave reaches Henri III, who offers it to the Cathedral in 1575. The coat of arms of Henri III, and a Latin inscription made for his gift are visible on the base of the object.

This Palatine Chapel is accessible from the Tau room. The entrance is surmounted by a tympan adorned with a Adoration of the Magi. It currently hosts the six candlesticks and the Cross which were made on the occasion of the marriage of Napoleon and Marie-Louise . The Chapel is built on two levels.

Charles X Room; this room is particularly dedicated to the coronation in 1825 of Charles X, the last sacred French sovereign. The coat of the coronation of Charles X is a piece of purple silk velvet 5.70 meters long.

The Antichamber; this piece presents a copy of the crown of Louis XV, the original in the Louvre museum one of the versions of the painting by Joseph Siffrein Duplessis representing Louis XVI in the coronation costume. Since November 2017 is presented the period copy of a portrait of the Grand Dauphin by Henri Tara, whose original is presented at the Château de Versailles.

Goliath Room; this room contains statues and various elements of the Cathedral. The Goliath, carved with its chain of mesh and its helmet, dated the third quarter of the 13C is 5.4 meters high and weighs 6 tons. Other monumental statues of the Cathedral are also exhibited in this room: the Synagogue and the Church, Adam and Eve, Saint Paul and Saint James, and the risen Christ and Saint Thomas.

Small Sculptures Room ; a hall with many carved heads fallen during WWI, the monumental sculptures of Abraham, and some models, including the one representing the ideal cathedral of the famous-le-Duc, and since November 2017 a Model of the Cathedral of Reims.

Song Room, four wall embroideries, dating from the 17C, represent imagined scenes of the biblical book Song of songs adorning this room. These embroideries of wool and silk come from the castle of Hauteville (Aisne) and were given in 1807 to the Cathedral.

Square Lounge, or Pepersack room; the statues of Saint Peter and La Madeleine, dated the 1st quarter of the 13C and deposited from the western façade of the Cathedral in 1970, are presented here. This room also exhibits the six remaining tapestries of a set of 29 pieces woven in Reims in the 17C , representing episodes of the Life of Christ.

Room of the King of Judah; the statue representing a king of Judah gives its name to this room of modest dimensions. This imposing statue of 4.2 meters high, dating from the middle of the 14C, was located at the base of one of the towers of the Cathedral in the Gallery of Kings.

Coronation Hall of the Virgin; this room owes its name to the gable called Coronation of the Virgin from the central portal of the cathedral. This gable with a width of 8 meters and a height of 5.5 meters, displayed above the staircase of honor, was deposited in 1948-1949. This room contains several tapestries of the   life of Notre-Dame; these were given in 1530 . Sculptures of kings, one attributed to the representation of Philippe Auguste, frame the tapestries.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and coming is a must are

Official Palais du Tau

City of Reims on Palais du Tau

Tourist office of Reims on the Palais du Tau

National Monument Center of France on Palais du Tau

This is one of the best antiques museum and merits a visit,and me to get back for more pictures lol! Palais du Tau at Reims. It is worth a visit as you are next to the Cathedral.

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


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January 13, 2019

Notre-Dame Church of Cape Lihou at Granville!

And continuing my search for the other France as if more than Paris; I come back to you to my neighbor Normandy and a very nice old town with superb views over the bay of Mont Saint Michel.

I like to tell you about a small Church but very nice with great views that been off the beaten path is one of the gems to be visited. Oh yes in Granville, dept 50.

The Notre-Dame Church of Cape Lihou or  église Notre-Dame du Cap Lihou is in Granville, dept 50 of the Manche in the region of Normandy. I am surprise not to find more on this wonderful small Church overlooking the town from the upper town or haute ville of Granville. This is a wonderful walk , beautiful sights from it, and a very nice Church. Worth the walk, I say.


As you might know, Granville, is on the peninsula across from that other monument of Normandy,France and the World, Mont Saint Michel (see my posts on it). From Paris best by car on the A13 direction Rouen continue until Caen and there continue on the A84 until reach the town of Villedieu-les-Poêles and here take the D924 direction Granville.right by the harbor continue follow direction Notre Dame du Cap it at Place du parvis Notre Dame.


A bit of history

A first chapel was built in granite in the 12C on Cape Lihou, after, according to legend, sailors found in 1113 a statue of the Virgin in their nets. It was then decided to name Our Lady of Cape Lihou. This makes it the oldest place of worship in Normandy.  After taking possession of Cape Lihou by the British, they began in 1440, at the same time as they raised the fortress, a Church whose granite was brought from Chausey 16km away  by Gabare boats, taking 3 centuries of construction.. From this period, dates the Tour du Clocher or tower of the steeple and the bays between the transept and chorus.  The construction of the choir began in 1628 and ended in 1641, the year of the building of the ambulatory. The large nave is erected between 1643 and 1655, the Saint-Clément and Notre-Dame chapels of Cape Lihou are added in 1674 and 1676 respectively. Almost a century later were raised the western façade, in 1767, and the sacristy, in 1771.


The great organ that date from the years 1660-1662. The magnificent buffet and its tribune were built between 1660 and 1668. The console dates from 1899.


Inside you have paintings such as the  L’Assomption de la Vierge (assumption of the Virgin from 1712) inspired by Rubens, and the La Pêche miraculeuse de Bonneville (miraculous fishing or sin) of 1787. The Chapelle Notre-Dame houses a statue of the Virgin in stone of Caen from the 15C. The Chapelle Saint-Clément, lighted by the stained glass windows representing Saint Eloi has a statue of the patron Saint of marines and of the Parish. Famous fashion designer Christian Dior was baptised in this Church in 1908.



Some webpages to help  you plan your trip here are

Churches of the Manche on ND Granville

City of Granville on heritage

Tourist office of Granville on heritage

Official Manche 50 Tourism

Here is a youtube video on the Church that is very nice me think

Enjoy the Church and the views high up at Granville, it is worth the detour off the A84! And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


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