Archive for February 27th, 2020

February 27, 2020

A Notre Dame at Amiens!

Ok so you know we have a lot of Notre Dame in France, and it means Our Lady or signified the Mother of Jesus , Mary. There is a very famous one in Paris but there is the biggest in Amiens. I have written little on Amiens yet visited several times over the years. I need to get going here folks; so let me tell you a bit about the Cathédrale Notre Dame d’Amiens.

Wait a minute, this is a huge task just looking at the library of yours truly so much written on it and so much information, will need to write another book on it. However, been the uncreative guy I am , let me tell you just a bit on it on this post ok.

The Cathedral of  Notre-Dame in Amiens, the biggest medieval and religious building in France (twice the size of Notre Dame of Paris) . It is 145 meters long ,with an arrow top at 112 meters, the nave vaults are 42 meters high.  OF course, it is in Amiens, dept 80 of the Somme in the region of Hauts de France.

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The Cathedral Notre Dame of Amiens has lost most of its original stained glass, but it remains famous for its 13C Gothic sculptures adorning its western facade and the portal of the Golden Virgin on the south facade of the transept, as well as the stalls, work of art in cabinetry. Its architectural unity is evident, except for the upper parts of the two towers. The elevation of the nave of the choir and the transept reflects the ingenuity and boldness of the builders.

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The current Notre Dame Cathedral occupies a site where several sanctuaries have followed one another and of which the historians knows little, due to the lack of texts and archaeological excavations. Catholic tradition, however, traces the Christianisation of Amiens to the arrival at the end of the 3C of Firmin who would have suffered martyrdom at the end of the 3C or at the very beginning of the 4C. He is considered by Catholics as the first bishop of Amiens. The first church was dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul, later to Saint Firmin the Confessor; the second devoted to Our Lady and to Saint Firmin the Martyr. Following a fire which destroyed a large part of the city, a new Romanesque church was built between 1137 and 1152, the year of its consecration, but there are any document to determine what it was. The prestige increased dramatically with the arrival in 1206 of the chief of Saint John the Baptist.

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At the beginning of the 13C, period of the reign of king Philippe-Auguste, Amiens knew a period of prosperity. It was the bishop Évrard de Fouilloy who would have laid the first stone of the church under the pillar supporting the statue of the Golden Virgin at the south portal of the transept. It was necessary to offer the relic of Saint John the Baptist a case worthy of the importance of the character. And to welcome pilgrims from all over Europe, you had to think big. The construction work begins with the foundations in 1220 and the laying of the first stone takes place the same year as evidenced by the inscriptions in the labyrinth and above the portal called the Golden Virgin.

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The Notre Dame Cathedral is erected on a plan in the shape of a Latin cross and is liturgically oriented from East to West, with an inclination to the south of about 23 degrees. It has a surface of 7,700 m2 and a volume of 200,000 meters. Its aisle with aisles opens onto a transept overflowing with collaterals and a Choir which includes five naves. The bedside consists of three straight spans with double side pieces. The ambulatory is surrounded by seven radiating chapels, of which the central one, the axial chapel, resembles in architecture the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, of which it is contemporary. The elevation in the nave is tripartite: large arcades, triforium and the skylight of the tall windows. The pillars supporting the arches are round and confined by four columns. The rib vaults are supported by engaged columns.

During the French revolution: In December 1793, volunteers from Lille entered the Notre Dame Cathedral and mutilated with sabre the sculptures of the enclosure of the choir; they were restored in the 19C. The statue of Saint Louis in the Chapelle du Pilier or Chapel of the Pillar was destroyed, crosses were also removed, but most of the carved decoration was preserved. In 1793, the cathedral was transformed into a temple of Reason and Truth and then, in 1794, a temple of the Supreme Being. Catholic worship was restored there in 1795.

During WWI: In 1915 during an episode of intense bombardment, the three portals of the main facade as well as the portal of the Golden Virgin were covered with a formwork made up of dirt sacks, to protect as much as possible their sculpted decoration. In July 1918, during the last German offensive in the west, the cathedral fell under the fire of the German imperial troops, in spite of the intervention of the Pope with the Emperor William II. On April 4, a shell crossed the roof of the choir, without much damage. On the 25th of the same month, three shells reached the cathedral and a buttress was destroyed, the vault of the south aisle of the choir was pierced as well as the paving, a third shell destroyed the first span of the southern triforium and opened the wind tunnel of the organ placed there. A few days later, the vault of the Chapelle de l’Annonciation or Chapel of the Annunciation was pierced by a shell, the first flying buttress south of the apse was destroyed by another and a third touched the outside of the cathedral near the sacristy. The grandstand organ was dismantled by the Paris fire brigade, the stained glass windows were also dismantled and sent to Paris to be restored there before reassembly. Unfortunately, they were largely destroyed by an accidental fire in the Paris premises where they were stored.

During WWII: In May 1940, during the Nazis bombardments which destroyed a large part of the city center. Many of the buildings surrounding the Notre Dame Cathedral were destroyed, but fortunately the cathedral was not affected. Allied bombing in 1944 also spared the cathedral.

In 1981, the Notre Dame Cathedral of Amiens was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO. In 1998 it was registered a second time under the Routes of Compostela in France. Some of the events and I pick my favorites are: king Charles VIII and Queen Anne of Brittany came to Amiens on June 11, 1493 and went to the Notre Dame Cathedral. On September 25, 1513, Louis XII attended, at the Notre Dame Cathedral of Amiens, the Mass of the feast of Saint Firmin. In June 1517, it was François I and Queen Claude of France who came to Amiens and went to the cathedral. King Henry IV came twice to the Notre Dame Cathedral of Amiens to attend a religious ceremony, the first time on August 18, 1594 after the city recognized him as king of France, the second time on September 25, 1597 after the city was taken over from the Spanish. King Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu attended a thanksgiving ceremony at the Notre Dame Cathedral after the fall of Arras, from the Spanish on August 9, 1640.

Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul, accompanied by Joséphine de Beauharnais, visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral and struck by the beauty and majesty of the cathedral, would have said this sentence: “Atheists must not be well here”, June 28, 1803. The October 12, 1854, Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie, attended in the Notre Dame Cathedral the inauguration of the Chapelle Sainte-Theudosie chapel whose Empress Eugenie had financed, on her personal wealth, the refitting and decoration under the direction of Eugène Viollet -le Duc. On November 7, 1920, Marshal Foch attended the inauguration ceremony for the monument in memory of the Australian soldiers who died on the soil of the Somme department during WWI or Great War.

This is a huge wonderful gorgeous Cathedral that needs to be visited by all means while in France. Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Notre Dame Cathedral in English

Official Notre Dame Cathedral on the 800 years anniversary in French

city of Amiens on the Notre Dame Cathedral in French

Tourist office of the Somme dept 80 on Notre Dame Cathedral in French

And there you go folks just a brief introduction to what should be on anybody’s list of things to see in France. Remember, Notre Dame Cathedral in AMIENS, Somme dept 80, region of Hauts de France, in my belle France!

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

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February 27, 2020

Another look at the world of wines!

Let me give you some news from the world of wines, my world. If you have read my blog you know that once in a while I need to tell you about wines. It is part of our family tradition for generations and of course it is tradition not alcohol. We drink respectfully.

As the lead country, France, wine is always on the table and my table. There are some rumblings out there and would like to keep you abreast and a notch for me too. Here are the latest tidbits of the wine world from France.

The cru bourgeois are making their revolution with new colorful banner (brand identity), new coat of arms (logo) and new motto (baseline): “Quality with the eyes closed”. But in substance, they return to the old regime, distinguishing “crus bourgeois exceptionnels”, “crus bourgeois supérieurs” and “crus bourgeois“. The selection was unveiled in Bordeaux this past Thursday, February 20 (hot off the press!!) . It is the fruit of nine years of work intended to extinguish the smoldering sling. Because, in this immense and very diverse family of XXS or XXL vineyards, family properties, belonging to private or institutional investors, or even active in large groups, which represents 31% of the production of the Médoc with 28 million bottles, the chateaux enjoying a brand as strong as the label threatened to secede.

Owners and traders deplored the volatile nature of the annual classification: how to explain to the markets which abhor the uncertainty that a same vintage is bourgeois in this year and loses this quality the following year. Consumers, themselves, wondered about a price range varying from simple to triple depending on the prestige of the appellation and the reputation of the chateau with prices generally pulled down. The L’Alliance des crus bourgeois du Médoc,( Médoc Crus Bourgeois Alliance) has therefore clarified its offer. The new protocol, validated by the public authorities, introduces a return to prioritisation with constraints and independent controls specific to each category. And stabilizes the offer with a classification valid for five years, enough to sustain trade relations. They need to adapt to an ultra-competitive global market, while the quality level has generally gone up. This revised classification sounds a new start for the cru bourgeois wines.

Two hundred and forty-nine chateaux have therefore been selected from seven Médoc appellations. Fourteen are distinguished “crus bourgeois exceptionnels” wines, fifty-six are recognized as “crus bourgeois supérieurs” , 179 are “crus bourgeois “. The first level of qualification was for all a blind tasting, by the verification body set up by the association, of five vintages chosen between 2008 and 2016. For candidates for an additional mention, the second level of qualification included the tasting of five other vintages. It was then a question of appreciating the regularity of the quality, as well as the evaluation of the cultural and environmental practices, the management of the exploitation, the promotion of the vintage, the quality of reception, and the wine tourism offer.

Three categories but a collective promotion. Among the crus bourgeois exceptionnels winners are some of my favorites (in black) and others, these are Agassac, Arnaud, Belle-Vue, Cambon La Pelouse, Charmail, Malescasse, Malleret, Taillan (in AOC Haut-Médoc), Arsac and Paveil de Luze (Margaux), Le Boscq, Le Crock and Lilian Ladouys ( Saint-Estèphe), Château Lestage (Listrac-Médoc).

All these new “exceptional” were once “superior”. A good progression therefore. And among the new “superiors” of today, 24 ordinary citizens of yesterday are promoted while 18 regain their former title. It included nine “exceptional” (including Chasse-Spleen, Haut-Marbuzet or Phélan-Ségur) which, since, have prospered and 87 superior. Those who today would be unhappy with their fate still have the opportunity to appeal. As for the coexistence of these three categories, on the need for collective promotion, mention or not in titles. To be seen now the public reaction and welcome of these labels and properties. There are in general a very good price quality ratio to had.

More info in English at the official webpage of the Alliance: https://www.crus-bourgeois.com/en/

One of the best wine salons fairs in France is at Mâcon; Saône et Loire dept 71 in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region. Knowing a growing success, the Salon des Vins de Mâcon or Mâcon Wine Fair is renewed for the year 2020 on April 17, 18 and 19.

The show offers a tour of France of the wine regions. It will take place at the Mâcon Exhibition Center. You can discover and taste wines from all over the country and build a quality cellar at various prices. This event, open to the general public, promotes discussion between producers and consumers in a warm and friendly meeting place. The Concours des Grands Vins de France or the Great Wines of France Competition is also organized among all the exhibitors and will reward the best wine. The latter will take place on Saturday 18 April 2020.

Brief info the event will be held at the “Le Spot” Parc des Expositions, avenue Pierre Bérégovoy, 71000 Mâcon. The schedule hours are Friday April 17 from 14h to 21h, Saturday April 18 from 10h to 21h, and Sunday April 19 from 10h to 19h. Price admission is 5€ adult or free for children under 12 . The admission includes free tasting, and a free vintage tasting glass. More info here: https://www.concours-salons-vins-macon.com/

A misled issue out of trade barriers which we all talk of bringing down but still active. This one does not make sense as we cannot compare planes with wines! Apparently America thinks they are the same. The long meeting on Saturday with the President of the French Republic; Emmanuel Macron at the Salon de l’Agriculture or Agricultural Fair did not calm fears of the wine industry. Affected since October by a 25% surcharge on still wines exported to the United States, French wine-growers insist on the “urgency” of a response to an unprecedented crisis situation, which should cost them 300 to 400 million euros of turnover this year, out of 1.2 billion realized per year in the country of Uncle Sam.

A retaliatory measure linked to a judgment by the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Airbus, accused of receiving public subsidies that distort competition with Boeing. The WTO therefore authorized the United States to tax $ 7.5 billion in products imported from Europe per year. The Trump administration immediately imposed an import tax of 10% on commercial aircraft and 25% on wine (Airbus produced in the state of Alabama which explains the low tariffs applied to aeronautics so a biased system indeed). The EU is still evaluating their counterattack nbut it seems do not want or need further escalations on trade barriers. In the meantime, the French winemakers suffer and the public over the pond pays higher prices.

And be ready as from March 1 to 31, 2020, Duclot La Vinicole, distributor of Bordeaux Grands Crus, presents its ninth edition of “Carte sur Table” (menu on the table) . Fifteen very fine Bordeaux wines will be on the menu of prestigious establishments at cellar prices so that amateurs can indulge themselves from 60€ Château Branaire-Ducru 2012 to a 690€ Château Cheval Blanc 2006. The selection is made up of wines that have reached perfect maturity or are highlighted in younger vintages, ready to drink even if we can still keep them waiting. These fifteen vintages will be available in a dozen of mainly Parisian restaurants such as Le Gabriel, La Scène, Origines, Gaya, etc ; but also in Versailles in the Trianon Palace to which are added Flocons de Sel in Megève. Among the bottles not to be missed, let me tell you to note a Château Pavie-Macquin 2014, 1er grand cru Classé of juicy Saint-Emilion, powerful, mineral, with chalky tannins 75€, a Château Giscours 2006, 3rd classified growth of Margaux en magnum , supple and silky, with melted tannins 150€. In the Saint-Estèphe appellation, connoisseurs will appreciate the Château Cos d´Estournel 2008, 2nd growth classified complex and generous 160€ or the Château Lafon-Rochet 2001, 4th growth classified 75€. Without forgetting a Château Lafite Rothschild 2004, Premier Cru Classé of Pauillac 690€ as well as a Château l’Évangile 2012, a magnificent Pomerol 160€. Superb opportunity at good prices, more info here: https://www.cartesurtable.com/

And one big news if lately the country has scare a few…. We do not seems to stop going ,investing, and enjoying China. La Fondation pour la culture et les civilisations du vin or in English the Foundation for Wine Culture and Civilizations, which manages the Cité du Vin de Bordeaux, brings its expertise to a pharaonic Chinese project: musée universel du vin or the universal wine museum. The opening is scheduled for the end of 2021. A cultural center dedicated to wine will be created in Fangshan, 40 km from Beijing, just over five years after the inauguration of the Cité du Vin de Bordeaux. The two institutions work in cooperation, but it is neither a copy nor a trademark license.

Its initiator has been speaking French since the age of 12 and knows the hexagonal culture (French) and its wine well, he planted a 60 ha vineyard in 1999, south-west of Beijing, and vinifies his Château Bolongbao organically (“ Bo ”for Bordeaux,“ long ”for the duration and“ bao ”which means castle, very French), in Bordeaux style, and finally, the City/Town Hall of Beijing is participating in this museum project as well, of course…

The new 18,000 m² space, located next to the Bolongbao estate, will include a 6,700 m² permanent tour with temporary exhibitions, an auditorium, multi-sensory events, a cellar, a gourmet restaurant and a wine school. The neighboring commercial area with hotels will obviously include wine sales spaces for individuals. There will also be a breeding ground for Chinese and international businesses. Designed in partnership with the French agency Architecture Studio, based in Paris, Shanghai and Venice, the project is presented as a stone village backed by vines, inspired by Saint-Emilion. The Scarabée agency, which had already focused 10 years ago on the founding fund for what would become the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux, is also associated with the Chinese project.

The 5 themes presented will be: What is wine; wine in the world with 12 major countries, 6 from the New World, 6 from the old, including France and China; the history of wine in China, rich in its latest archaeological discoveries; wine and the senses will present the categories of wine (red, rosé, white, sparkling …) and their sensory effect, with whenever possible, a passage to practice and advice on the art of living. The unmissable tasting stage will be staged like in a Parisian bistro.

The cooperation project of the Cité du Vin de Bordeaux is the 4th French museum project in China. It was announced after, the opening of the annex to the Pompidou Center in Shanghai in November 2019, as part of a brand license agreement, sale of expertise, loan of works and organization of exhibitions. the association of the Musée Picasso Paris and the Giacometti Foundation with the opening of a new art center in Beijing in June 2020, in district 798, as part of a contract for the sale of expertise, loan of works and organization of exhibitions; the project to create a Rodin museum in Shenzhen, the fruit of a partnership between the Rodin Paris museum, the city of Shenzhen and a Chinese collector, within the framework of a contract for the sale of expertise, loan and purchases of works and organization of exhibitions. And a 5th project should be announced soon by another French scientific museum.

SOURCES: avis-vin.lefigaro.fr, lejournaldesentreprises.com, vitisphere.com, and winespectator.com

Hope you have enjoyed this special post on the wines from France. And do drink it awesome tradition with good food , good cheers, and good family reunions. En Nino Veritas.

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

 

 

February 27, 2020

The Basilica of Albert!!!

And do stay in the north of my belle France, the real thing, and wonderful things to see around here, close to family territory.  I have done posts on the region briefs and have come back with more on their main things to see me think. I take you now to Albert and the Basilica of Notre Dame de Brébiéres . It is the basilica of Albert and could be at least one of the Basilica’s of France for its history and meaning.

The wonderful Basilica of Notre Dame de Brébiéres built from 1885 to 1895 in neo byzantine style, and connects to the museum of  Somme 1916. See that post

The Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-Brebières was one of the high places of Marian worship in Picardy since the 11-12C. At the end of the 19C, the pilgrimage experienced a revival of fervor with all of Marian devotion. In 1895, at the time of its new inauguration, Pope Leo XIII conferred the honorary title of Minor Basilica on the new church. He specified in his papal bull his ambition for the basilica: “Albert would have to become the Lourdes of the North”. The bell tower-porch, 76 meters high, was surmounted by a dome carrying a golden statue of the Virgin which culminates in 82 meters. Albert’s basilica was completely destroyed during WWI ( Great War) . Just on the south side of the basilica is the entrance to the Somme 1916 Museum. As part of the ceremonies commemorating the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, American singer Barbara Hendricks gave a Peace Concert accompanied by the Orchestra de Picardie, on Friday July 1, 2016 at 22h at the Basilica Notre Dame of Brébiéres in Albert.

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A bit on the construction which is unique me think

The main facade is formed by a porch with three gates located under the bell tower. The floor and the facade are decorated with mosaics. The bell tower-porch rises to 76 meters. Its upper part is made up of a dome carrying a virgin covered with 40,000 gold sheets, six meters high presenting the Child Jesus: the child’s arms form a cross. An outdoor gallery located sixty meters above the ground allows you to go around the bell tower and offers a remarkable view of the city and its surroundings. The plan of the basilica recalls that of the first Christian basilicas with a large apse formed by an elevated chapel and framed by two apsidioles leaning on both sides on the transept also finished in the north and in the south by two apsidioles . The transept crossing is surmounted by a small quadrangular lantern tower. A five-span nave flanked by two side aisles extends the basilica. Each of the spans communicates with the collaterals which open on each side into five chapels. A decorated frame and a coffered ceiling replace the traditional vaults. The length of the building is 70 meters, its width is 35 meters at the transept. The ceiling height is 23 meters. The tribune organ inaugurated in 1901; the organs were completely destroyed. They were replaced, in 1958. The Choir organ was installed in the basilica at the same time as the tribune organ.

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And the event that the world remembers, and me too. Here is the story.

On October 22, 1914, a first shell hit the Basilica Notre Dame de Brébiéres. Unintentionally perhaps, because from a strategic point of view the Basilica offers the enemy a landmark for the regulation of artillery fire that destroys industry, the railway and improvised hospitals in schools and boarding schools. Three other shells still hit the Basilica across the bell tower right through without causing irreparable damage. Two others crush the central skylight, the debris of which crashes on the high altar. A quarter of the roof is destroyed. On January 7, 1915, a shell burst the dome and the vaults collapsed. Having achieved its objectives, the enemy then targets the Basilica. On January 14 and 15, 1915 about 43 shells fell on the basilica!.

On January 15, in the afternoon, around 15h the dome shatters, and shortly after the bronze statue of the Virgin and Child Jesus, 7 meters high, surmounting the bell tower of the Basilica of Notre Dame de Brebières , bows. Later in the evening, under the effect of the storm, it positioned itself horizontally. The frame yields without completely breaking. The Virgin finds herself suspended above the void, directed towards the south. Seeing this leaning Virgin, the soldiers imagine a legend: “When the Virgin falls, the war will end”. On March 26, 1918, Albert fell back into German hands. What remains of the bell tower of the Basilica becomes an observation post for the occupier, which must be destroyed to take back the city. On April 16, 1918, around 15h30, on the third attempt, the British artillery hit the steeple and the Virgin collapsed. We are in 1918 the Virgin falls and the same year the war will end. The legend is “respected”. Indeed wonderful story!!!

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Ministry of Culture of France on the Basilica in French: Ministry of Culture of France on the Basilica Notre Dame de Brébiéres

Tourist office of the Somme dept 80 on the Basilica in French: Tourist office of the Somme dept 80 on the Basilica Notre Dame de Brébiéres

I have the city of Albert on public transports as train passes by here from Paris to from Lille. City of Albert on public transportation

There you go another gem ,this time in the north or Hauts de France, old Picardie region. Albert has a lot of punch and thanks to the Basilica Notre Dame de Brébiéres. Hope you enjoy the post and do come to visit it, its another must around this region.

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

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