Archive for February 2nd, 2020

February 2, 2020

Sainte Croix Cathedral and Orléans!

I have visited this town couple times and it seems not written enough on it which won’t surprise me due to the beauties of my belle France, the material to writer is never ending. However, this is a key city in my belle France and beautifully located right on the Loire river.

Let me tell you a bit more on the Sainte Croix Cathedral which by itself is enough to come to visit Orléans. Of course, a bit on the city as well.


The city belongs to the Loire Valley sector located between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes-sur-Loire, which was classified World Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in the year 2000. It is in the department 45 of Loiret in the Centre-Val de Loire region.

Orléans has five bridges   to allow the crossing of the Loire river: these are the pont or Europe bridge, the Maréchal-Joffre bridge, the George V bridge, also commonly called by the locals “Royal bridge”, serving as a tramway passage, the bridge René-Thinat , and the Vierzon bridge, which is railway.

When France colonized America, it conquered a territory in the valley of the Mississippi river, baptized Colbert river, from the mouth to its source at the borders of Canada. It is baptized Louisiana and the capital is named New Orleans in honor of the regent of Louis XV, the Duke of Orleans. In 1790,during the French revolution; the province of Orleans was dismantled and the department of Loiret (no 45) was created, with Orleans as the capital. During the Franco-German War of 1870, the city still presented itself as a strategic stake geographically. On October 13, 1870, the city was occupied by the Prussians. The Loire army was formed under the orders of General d’Aurelle de Paladines and based in Beauce near the city. The Second World War hit the city hard. The destruction is numerous. During the Vichy Regime, the Nazis made the Aubrais train station a central station for their rail logistics. At the Liberation, in 1944, the British intensely bombed the city and the Aubrais train station. The damage is very important. Orleans was liberated on August 17, 1944, by General Patton’s American troops. In the years following its liberation, the town was one of the first to be rebuilt, work began at the start of 1945. This reconstruction was done in the same way, like rue Royale and its arcades.

Its main arteries of touristic note are the following.  The Place du Martroi, symbolic heart of the city, has in its center a monumental equestrian statue of Joan of Arc. This statue was broken during WWII then repaired by the sculptor Paul Belmondo, father of the famous actor; the bas-reliefs of the pedestal are by the sculptor Vital Dubray.


And the Rue Royale (18C) and its shopping arcades were largely reconstructed identically after the bombings of WWII and constitute a masterpiece of town planning. The monumental perspectives it offers (on the statue of Joan of Arc in Place du Martroi in particular) recall those of major European cities.  As well as the rue Jeanne d’Arc (18-19C) is a large artery facing the Sainte-Croix Cathedral and opening up a wonderful perspective on it. It is lined with opulent buildings, in stone for the most part, remarkably homogeneous although all different because of strict town planning rules, adopted from the start of the project which led to the destruction of the entire central part of the old town which was in place.


The tourist office of the metropole of Orléans on heritage gives more info here: Tourist office of metro Orléans on heritage

And the wonderful Cathédral Sainte Croix of Orléans

The Sainte-Croix Cathedral, place Sainte-Croix, is the cathedral of the diocese of Orleans; Gothic style with baroque ornamentation of which partly rebuilt in the 17C, it is dedicated to the Holy Cross (Sainte Croix) The cathedral is 140 meters long, it is made up of 5 naves. Total interior width of the nave: 40 meters. The two towers are 88 meters high. The central spiral rises to 114 meters. The five bells are located in the north tower.

The oldest text is the Life of Saint Euverte, written in the 9C. He made the future bishop of the 4C a sub-deacon from Rome who had come to Gaul to look for members of his siblings who had been abducted forty years earlier by Barbarians. While passing through Orleans, he attended the election of a new bishop in the cathedral, a dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, miraculously came to designate Euverte to the episcopate. Some time later, he saved the city from total destruction by fire and initiated the construction of a new cathedral. During the works, he found a treasure and decided to bring it to Rome, to the Emperor Constantine from whom he, in return, received, both grants to build the cathedral, and a fragment of the True Cross to garnish the central altar. The dedication Mass of the new cathedral, dedicated to the Holy Cross, was the setting for a miraculous consecration by a divine hand emerging from a cloud. At the end of his life, Euverte had Saint Aignan elected to succeed him to the episcopate.


The second text, the Great Passion of Auxerre is both more recent, it dates only from the 11C, and is more ambitious: it traces the foundation of the Church of Orleans and its cathedral to apostolic times. It says that Saint Peter in person would have entrusted seventeen of the seventy-two disciples with the mission of evangelizing Gaul. Among them, the Saints Savinien, Potentien and Altin were in charge of Lyonnaise IV to which Orléans belonged, and from which came the former ecclesiastical province of Sens. In Orleans, Altin, instituted bishop of the city, would have dedicated a first cathedral to Saint Etienne. This last story was based on an anachronism: it laid on the Gaul of the 1C an administrative organization in 17 provinces, which was not put in place until the end of the 4Cor at the beginning of the 4C. This legend is part of the propaganda intended to recall the prerogatives of the metropolitan headquarters, Sens, over that of Orleans


Around 1277, the Romanesque cathedral would have experienced a collapse and what remained, would have threatened to collapse in turn the first stone of the new cathedral was not laid until nine years later, on September 11, 1287, under the episcopate of Gilles Pastai and the work begins with the bedside. The great organ comes from the Abbey of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, exchanged with that of the cathedral in 1822. After other episodes, the instrument was renovated one last time from 2004 and restored in operation in September 2007 The choir organ is also a Cavaillé-Coll. temporarily installed in 1837, replaced by a final organ in 1846.

In the 14C, the bedside table is completed by a new choir. work resumed in the second half of the 15C by crossing the transept and continued in the 16C with the construction of two spans of the nave. In 1512, the cross tower was decorated with a large golden ball surmounted by a cross, the very one evoked by François Rabelais. In 1601, the king and queen Marie de Medici laid the foundation stone of the new cathedral. The choir was finished in 1623. In 1627, the foundations were laid for the transept which would be completed in 1636. The north transept was completed in 1643, and the south transept in 1690. The mark of the Sun King appeared by introducing a part of classicism in the flamboyant Gothic style building. His portrait and motto Nec pluribus impar also appear, with the date of completion in 1679, in the center of the rose window located above the portal of the southern transept. The works were not resumed until 1817. King Charles X inaugurated the completion of the works on May 8, 1829, for the 400th anniversary of the lifting of the siege of the English, by Joan of Arc and her army: a monumental staircase took square in front of the cathedral, parallel to the opening of the new rue Jeanne d’Arc and the creation of the grand forecourt of the cathedral.


There is an indirect link between the current Cathedral of Sainte Croix and Joan of Arc. The national historic heroine came to follow evening Mass on May 2, 1429 during the siege of Orleans (it should be remembered that the cathedral as it stands today did not exist in 1429, with the exception of the chapels of the apse, which surround the choir at the back). It can be; also point out that the rue Jeanne d’Arc, opened in the 19C, arrives in front of the main facade .Each year, on the evening of May 7, during the Johannian Feasts, the ceremony of the handing over of the standard takes place on the forecourt (which evokes that of Joan of Arc). The city o Orleans is its guardian and transmits it to the Catholic religious authorities for the duration of the festivities. The facade of the cathedral then serves as a support for sound and light effects. In François Rabelais’ Pantagruel, the golden ball which surmounts the bell tower is mentioned as being one of the bronze pills which were used to explore the stomach of the giant Pantagruel in order to cure it !

orleans over loire to cathedral aug07

The parish of Orleans on the Cathedral in French! Catholic Parish of Orleans on the Ste Croix Cathedral

Dept 45 Loiret tourist office on the Cathedral Ste Croix

Tourist office of Orleans on the Cathedral Ste Croix

There you go another dandy in my movable feast of France. This one on the Loire river glorious royal river of France and a historical city of Orléans with wonderful architecture and great walks in city center. Enjoy the tour

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

Tags: ,
February 2, 2020

A stair and D’Artagnan in Auch!

So come all the way with me south, in the deep France I love. Come to Auch in department 32 Gers in the region of Occitanie. The town is practically in the center of the Gers department and only 69 km west of Toulouse 162 km from Bordeaux, 390 km from Marseille, 530 km from Nantes and 595 kms from Paris to name a few.

There is two wonderful monuments in one to see here a must. Let me tell you a bit more about them ok

The escalier monumental of neo classic style connecting the upper town to the lower town in 374 steps on a 35 meters levelling with six volleys of which four are double on a rest platform and three pylons in the terrace to showcase the fountains and garden. Actually, it takes 233 steps to go from Lower to Upper town of Auch.

The east side of Place Salinis closed by stone balustrades, forms a first balcony offering a panoramic view of the lower town. The same balustrades protect the first landing of the Monumental staircase to the right of the Tour d’Armagnac to the north and the Salinis college to the south. In the center of the retaining wall of the two terraces and the central garden is dug, over the entire height, a cul-de-four niche, framed by pilasters and surmounted by a semicircular arch, housing a fountain and a basin.

On the ground of the first esplanade, L’Observatoire du temps, a cast iron sculpture by Jaume Plensa commemorating the 1977 floods in Gascogne, echoes the words of the Old Testament evoking the flood. To the south, the esplanade continues along rue Vieille Pousterle with medieval houses. To the north are the terraced gardens of the Hôtel de la Préfecture, the former Archiepiscopal palace. On the last terrace, preceding the descent to the Gers spanning rue Charras and rue Rabelais, overlooks the monumental statue of the famous Gascon Charles de Batz de Castelmore, dit d’Artagnan.

Tourist office of Auch on the Monumental Staircase

It has at its center a statue of Charles de Batz, aka D’Artagnan true musketeers, and one reason I had to come here period. One of my favorite characters of history, thank you Mr Dumas…

A bit of history of the personnage I like

Charles de Batz de Castelmore, aka D’Artagnan was born between 1611 and 1615 at Castelmore Castle, near the village of Lupiac, in Gascogne ,current department 32 of Gers and died in Maastricht during the siege of this city June 25, 1673, during the Holland War.


Little its known but some apocryphal memories appeared in 1700, that is 27 years after his death. Mixing reality and imagination, they were written by Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras from scattered notes left by D’Artagnan. Gatien de Courtilz discovered the life of the Gascon hero during one of his stays at the Bastille, while Baisemeaux, ex-companion of D’Artagnan, was its governor.  Alexandre Dumas was inspired by these memories to compose his character of d’Artagnan, hero of three stories published between 1844 and 1850 and of which the best known is The Three Musketeers. But he gave birth to it around 1607: he was eighteen in 1625, the first year of the romantic trilogy.

Through his mother, the famous musketeer Charles de Batz-Castelmore, known as the Count d’Artagnan,  is also the first cousin of Pierre de Montesquiou d’Artagnan who later became Marshal of France. In 1657, the first company of musketeers, known as “large musketeers” or “gray musketeers” because of the dress of their horses, was reconstituted. D’Artagnan became a member with the rank of second lieutenant in 1658, and even as second he assumed the real command.

D’Artagnan had his mansion (now disappeared) at no 1 of the current rue du Bac, at the corner of the Quai Voltaire in Paris, in the current 7éme arrondissement (former Quai des Théatins). There he met a rich widow, Anne Charlotte de Chanlecy, lady of Sainte-Croix. On March 5, 1659, a contract bearing the signatures of Louis XIV and Mazarin authorized him to take her for his wife, which he did the same year, on April 3, 1659, in the Saint-André-des-Arts Church, in Paris. They had two sons but left without name D’Artagnan (Batz) heirs by around 1892.

The sons were Louis de Batz de Castelmore (the elder), took the title of Count of Artagnan. He was raised as a page in the Great Stable, became a lieutenant in the guards, then retired from service because of his infirmities and died at Castelmore Castle in December 1709. Louis de Batz de Castelmore (the youngest), knight, later known as Count d’Artagnan, baron of Sainte-Croix, lord of Chanlecy from his mother’s chief, lord of Castelmore, was second lieutenant to the menins guards of Monseigneur le Dauphin and knight of Saint-Louis. He was camp marshal when he married by contract of May 21, 1707 Marie Anne Amé , daughter of Jean Baptiste Amé, adviser to the presidial of Reims. He died on June 7, 1714 at the Château de Sainte-Croix. He had two sons: Louis-Gabriel, who follows, and Louis-Jean-Baptiste.

In 1660, king Louis XIV married the Infanta of Spain, Maria Teresa. The ceremony takes place on June 9 in Saint-Jean-de-Luz. The trip to the Basque Country lasts a year and gives Louis XIV the opportunity to visit the southern provinces of his kingdom. D’Artagnan accompanies the procession. On September 5, 1661, the king entrusted d’Artagnan with the delicate mission of arresting Nicolas Fouquet (owner of Château Vaux-le-Vicomte) , during the holding of the Council in Nantes. A long period begins during which the musketeer, transformed into a jailer, accompanies his prestigious prisoner in his successive places of imprisonment: three months at the castle of Angers, at the castle of Amboise, then at the keep of Vincennes, on June 20 of following year at the Bastille and finally at Pignerol. Ten years later, on November 25, 1671, he proceeded similarly to the arrest of Lauzun. D’Artagnan was governor of Lille from April to December 1672.

D’Artagnan was killed on June 25, 1673 in front of Maastricht, during the war launched by Louis XIV against the United Provinces (Holland war) in 1672. The king himself led an army of 40,000 men. D’Artagnan, called in for reinforcement, was hit by a musket bullet received in the kidneys when he was fighting on a day off and was in the throat of the Tongeren gate of the fortification. The place of his burial is unknown. According to one hypothesis, he could have been buried in the Church of St. Peter and Paul in Wolder, near Maastricht. A legend would have it that the body of D’Artagnan was brought back to the castle of Olhain, in Pas-de-Calais, where it would still be today. Some others that his body was buried right in the battle field,, anyway it has never been found.

Tourist office of Auch on statue of D’Artagnan

A museum has been setup in his native village of note, Lupiac. Tourist office of the Gers on the Museum D’Artagnan in Lupiac

There you go a nice town with some posts on it but really needed to expand on this complex of stair facing the Gers river and the statue of the great D’Artagnan , captain of the Muskeeteers! Hope you enjoy the story as I do

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


Tags: ,
February 2, 2020

A king at Cuenca!

So here is another important figure in the history of my beloved Spain and pave the foundation for its unification and reconquest period. I happened to visit the city of Cuenca several times and always marvel of his equestrian statue there at Travesía Clavel, 6 street. Let me tell you a bit more on king Alfonso VIII, the Noble.

A 17-year-old Alfonso VIII of Castile tried to conquer the city, but after five months of siege, he had to retreat after the arrival of troops sent by the Almohad caliph Abu Yaqub Yusuf. Alfonso signed a seven-year truce but when, in 1176 the Cuencans occupied some Christian lands in Huete and Uclés, Alfonso intervened at the head of a coalition including also Ferdinand II of León, Alfonso II of Aragon and the Military Orders of Calatrava, Santiago and Montegaudio, besieging Cuenca for months starting from 1177’s Epiphany. The city’s commander, Abu Bakr, again sought the support of Yaqub Yusuf, but the latter was in Africa and did not send any help. After an unsuccessful Cuenca sortie against the Christian camp on 27 July, the besieged city was conquered by Alfonso’s troops on 21 September 1177, while the Muslim garrison took refuge in the citadel.

The latter fell in October, 1177 putting an end to the Moors domination in Cuenca. King Alfonso VIII granted the city a title, and it was considered to be “Muy noble y muy leal” (Very noble and very loyal). It was given a set of laws, the Fuero, written in Latin, that ruled Cuenca’s citizens, and it was considered one of the most perfectly written at that time. The diocese of Cuenca was established in 1183; its second bishop was St. Julian of Cuenca, who became patron Saint of the city.

King Alfonso VIII  (b.1155 –d.1214), called the Noble or el de las Navas, was the King of Castile from 1158 to his death in 1214 ,and King of Toledo. He is most remembered for his part in the Reconquista and the downfall of the Almohad Caliphate. After having suffered a great defeat with his own army at Alarcos against the Almohads, he led the coalition of Christian princes and foreign crusaders who broke the power of the Almohads in the Battle of the Navas de Tolosa in 1212, an event which marked the arrival of a tide of Christian supremacy on the Iberian peninsula. His reign saw the domination of Castile over León and, by his alliance with Aragon, he drew those two spheres of Christian Iberia into close connection.


In 1202, he claimed the county of Gascogne brought as a dowry by his wife Eleanor of England, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine. His expedition took him to the gates of Bordeaux, which he unsuccessfully besieged in 1205 or 1206.  King Alfonso  VIII was the founder of the first Spanish university: the studium generale de Palencia, which disappeared after his death. He also founded the order of Alcántara.

He was married in 1170 at his majority of age at 15, to Eleanor of England aged 8, daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, whose possessions made him the largest sovereign of the moment. They have twelve children, including four daughters who become queens. One important one to me aws the Infanta Blanche (1188–1252), married to Louis VIII of France and regent of this kingdom during the minority and the crusades of her son Louis IX (1226 to 1235);later Saint Louis.

You can read a lot more of him here: Roman Catholic Saints on Alfonso VIII

There you go a nice walk up hilly streets but once you past it the views and the statue is nice. Travel and history goes hand in hand for me. Hope you enjoy Cuenca and the statue of king Alfonso VIII  as I do

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





Tags: , ,
%d bloggers like this: