Archive for June 2nd, 2019

June 2, 2019

Abbey of Saint Gildas des Bois!

So here we go with something new for me!! Well as said in many posts, there is so much to see in my belle France, will need a lifetime and I am afraid will run out short on them! We had a four day weekend with Ascension Day in France so always on the last minute ,what to do? I look up a map and saw there was a nice abbey in a town about 1h30 from us and we say let’s do it. First time there!!

We pay a visit to the Abbey of Saint Gildas des Bois in neighboring town of Saint Gildas des Bois in the Loire Atlantique dept 44 of the Pays de la Loire region. Old Bretagne if you have read me ::) And of course, it was very nice and now time to tell you all about it, lol! Hope you enjoy it.

The town of Saint-Gildas-des-Bois is located  is located 17 km from Redon, 64 km from Vannes, and 59 km from Nantes. The neighbouring towns are Séverac, Missillac, Pontchâteau, Drefféac ,and Guenrouet.

st gildas des bois

The emerging village of Saint-Gildas supplanted the town when Lord Simon I of La Roche, Lord of La Roche-Bernard, implanted a Benedictine Abbey in honor of Almighty God and Blessed Abbot Gildas, in 1026. The current name of the town comes from the pine forest which was planted under the reign of king Louis-Philippe.  As its neighbors of the Nazi occupation in the hinterland, Saint-Gildas-des-Bois was caught at the end of WWII in the pocket of Saint-Nazaire, which earned it an extension of the Nazi occupation of 9 months more than the rest of the region or  from August 1944 to May 11, 1945.

A bit of history I like

The former Abbey of Saint-Gildas-des-Bois credit its foundation as a project in part  of a wider project of new wave of evangelisation, undertaken around the year 1000 by the Abbey of Cluny, then the spiritual capital of Europe. The founding of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Gildas-des-Bois dates from the beginning of the 11C. It is due to the will of the Abbot of Saint-Gildas of Rhuys (peninsula in the Morbihan dept 56), who undertakes to evangelise the south of Brittany after years of turmoil linked to the invasions of the Vikings, by implanting monastic communities, destined to become the homes of   evangelical life. They appealed to the Abbey of Saint-Sauveur in Redon, whose Abbot detached in 1026 eight of his monks to form the first nucleus of the community, with at the head Helogon, who thus becomes the first Abbot of Saint-Gildas-des-Bois.

st gildas des bois

st gildas des bois

The need is felt to build a new church, worthy of the Saint that has come to be worshiped and large enough to accommodate the pilgrims. Thus, at the end of the 12C, the present Abbey Church was built, about 150 years after the founding of the monastery. It is, from its construction and up to the present day, one of the most remarkable religious monuments of the countryside region of Nantes by the unity of its style. At the beginning of the 15C was built the porch of the Capitular Hall, flanked by two loathed stained glass windows. It is in this room of the chapter that the Father Abbot gathers daily his monks, to read a chapter of the rule of St. Benedict or make decisions concerning the monastic life.

st gildas des bois

st gildas des bois

In 1492, the King of France Charles VIII, who has just married the Duchess Anne of Brittany, appoints an Abbot commendatory of Saint-Gildas, Jean Bohier. With him is established at the Abbey what is called “the beginning”: Henceforth, the Abbot is no longer elected by his monks and no longer resides in the Abbey. The monastery is placed under the responsibility of a prior, which is renewed every three years. This is where the decline of the abbey begins. It remained however until the French revolution, which abolished it in 1790. The monastic buildings, rebuilt in the 18C, were then redeemed by Abbot Gabriel Deshayes, founder of the Sisters of Christian Instruction, more known nowadays as the Sisters of Saint Gildas. See their official webpage here: Official Sisters of St Gildas in French

st gildas des bois

st gildas des bois

In August 1944, the liberation armies were in the run on Nantes. It is then the pocket of Saint-Nazaire. On 12 August, Saint-Gildas-des-Bois underwent a double aerial bombardment. The stained glass windows in the lower parts are completely destroyed and, for lack of finances, replaced by Cathedral glasses of little aesthetic interest. Forty years later, in 2007, by the will of heritage lovers, fourteen of them are replaced by transparent monochrome Crystal stained glass windows depicting children. The whole project is designed by Pascal Convert.   The artist wished to draw inspiration from the dedication of Saint-Gildas, invoked to heal the madness. From the national archives, he obtained photographs of children from the book “invention of hysteria”, by Georges Didi-Huberman, describing the practices carried out around hysteria at the Hospital of the Salpêtrière of the time of Charcot. The faces have been altered to represent the children with their eyes closed, in a situation of meditation. Thus were born the portraits appearing on the stained glass windows today!

st gildas des bois

A bit on its construction

The main façade is in the early times done with simple windows. The broken arch gate dates from the 12C, as is the square tower of the transept, pierced by two stained glass windows on each side. The nave, the transept and the choir date back to the end of the 12C and strike by their will to return to the count, well in the spirit of time that sees the rise of the Cistercian order, well present in Brittany, even if this is a Benedictine foundation. The nave of six spans, covered with framing, opens on the aisles also framed by broken arches with double roll falling alternately on large round columns and on quadrillions piles. On the nave side of these, a half-column rises to the height of the top of the arches before interrupting without transition. Above the bare wall, without span articulation, is pierced large stained glass windows in a broken arch. The transept cross is mounted on complex piles. The large double-roll arches fall on pillars flanked by columns engaged in marquee carved with simple motifs. The choir consists of two straight spans completed by a three-sided apse. It is pierced by seven stained glass windows separated by engaged columns that support the vault. This, like that of the transept, was later built to replace the original structural cover. The choir is furnished with 36 oak stalls dating from the 17C. The old fencing of the monks bears the date of 1711. It was converted into an interior porch, during the transformation in 1840 of the old Abbey Church into a parish church. The wrought iron grille dates from the 18C. The altarpiece of Saint-Nicolas dates from 1725. The altarpiece of the Rosary dates from the early 18C.

A city of Saint Gildas des Bois on the Abbey: City of Saint Gildas des Bois on the Abbey in French

Local tourist office on Pontchateau and Saint Gildas des Bois on the abbey in English

And there you go another wonderful historical and architecturally stunning monument of my belle France and very near me! Behold I visited a new place, not common lately as I am a born repeater but this ride was nice and more to come. For now enjoy the Abbey of Saint Gildas des Bois.

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

 

 

June 2, 2019

La Roche Bernard and memories of always!

So here I am on a very hot day for us ,went up to 29C or about 84F very bright sunshine and as a long weekend here we stepped out into our countryside. Between the old and the new , we have here the old, memories for a lifetime.

I have written on La Roche Bernard (or the rock of Bernard) in previous posts on most of its history so just will recap the ones I like and go there for it. Also, our sentimental journey to a place we have been several times with my dear late wife Martine by the Vilaine river.

la roche bernard

city town hall of La Roche Bernard !

Let me tell you a bit about the town briefly on the things i like about it and no , before wrote on the old stone there ,this post is on the water, the port the river the good French ambiance and family values.

La Roche-Bernard is located in the Morbihan Department 56 of Brittany/Bretagne. It is one of the twelve towns of the intercommunality of Arc Sud Bretagne and the district of Vannes. La Roche Bernard is a Flower town of France, Natura 2000, and Small Town of Character designation! La Roche-Bernard is located 36 km from Saint-Nazaire, 41 km from Vannes and 70 km from Nantes. The Vannes-Nantes axis (N 165 highway) passes through the Pont du Morbihan on the outskirts of the town. The Atlantic Ocean stretches about 20 km from it. The town of La Roche-Bernard is bordered to the south by the peninsula of Guérande, and to the west by the peninsula of Rhuys and to the north by the countryside of Questembert. Finally, La Roche-Bernard is located on the border between Brittany and Pays de la Loire regions (which in old regime were together as Brittany) ; but belongs to the Department of Morbihan ,albeit on the left bank of the Vilaine River.

la roche bernard

The port activity of La Roche-Bernard is attested as early as the 13C. The yachting is now the activity and the main feature of the port of the city.  And the boating scene, the festival of the Garenne, and the river port basin is what is magical here to come again and again. Today, of the 4 bridges built during the previous centuries, only two of them have survived. The Pont de la Roche-Bernard in 1960 is inaugurated the second bridge of La Roche-Bernard, a bridge suspended on the model of the bridge of Tancarville. The Pont du Morbihan in order to relieve congestion in the city, it was decided to construct a new bridge between the towns of Marzan and Nivillac just 1 km upstream of the previous one. It will be inaugurated in 1996. With a length of 600 meters, it is equipped with a pedestrian arch located just below the main apron.

la roche bernard

The rock of the Roche of Bernard is located on Rue du Passage, this granitic promontory overlooks the Vilaine river and the harbor. There are also 2 cannons that belonged to the French warship Le Juste or righteous sunk during the battle of the Cardinals in 1759. A commemorative plaque indicates that it was in La Roche-Bernard that the warship the Couronne or crown was built in the 17C. This are the emblems of the city and always make sure to stop by here.

la roche bernard

Let me give some webpages to help you plan your trip here and you should are

City of La Roche Bernard on its history in French

Regional tourist office of Damgan La Roche Bernard on La Roche Bernard

Tourist office of Brittany on La Roche Bernard

Then , what we love to come and have lunch or dinner here is at the very friendly and good food/price ratio restaurant Le Yackam’s Bar Brasserie on the port below the promontory and on the Quai Saint Antoine.

la roche bernard

Every time is different, as you can have the menu or the plat du jour daily dish with good wines or beers. Today we had all different dishes, me a codfish and chips platter with salad and a Tripel Karmeliet Belgian 8.4% beer from 1679! and  very nice and expresso coffee. My sons took different dishes and ice creams , same beers , and one try the Loburg Belgian beer 5.7% pilsner . All came in for 18€ per person which very good deal!

la roche bernard

The webpage for Yackam’s is here: The Yackam’s Bar Brasserie at La Roche Bernard

This is a repeat place and the one we stop by here, very cosy, friendly and right over the foot bridge over the free parking de la Voute by the quai Saint-Antoine .And if any boaters out there, here is info on the port of La Roche Bernard. Official passeport to the ports of France on La Roche Bernard

Hope you do come to this lovely port city on the Vilaine river between the frontiers of Brittany and Pays de la Loire regions. La Roche Bernard or the rock of Bernard is waiting for you. We always enjoyed it.

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

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