The Vieux Chapitre of Meaux!!

And this is news! As getting to update many of my older posts during this special period of our lives, I sometimes encounters finds never told in my blog. I am thrill to tell you about this memorable spot shame not done it before. I have written so much on my beloved Meaux, Seine et Marne dept 77 of the region of Ïle de France and can’t believe left this one out!!

It is about time to remedy this unforgettable spot one of the first walks I took with my then girlfriend and later wife , my dear late wife Martine, a native of Meaux! Let me then, tell you a bit of history on the Vieux Chapitre or old chapterhouse of Meaux!!

Today we can still see a large building erected next to the Cathedral St Etienne (see post), with turrets on all four corners, called the Château du Chapitre. There is the old Refectory, the Common Dormitory, with large deep cellars below, spacious attics above. The Bishop provides for all the needs of his Canons, as much for clothing, as for food, and other necessities of life.

Meaux vieux chapitre stairs jun10

Contemporary of the St Stephen’s Cathedral of Meaux, the old chapter house is hidden just behind it. You will recognize it by its turrets and its large exterior staircase. It is here that ecclesiastics met, in court or in council, to administer justice, collect taxes or discuss important matters concerning the city. Part of the building now serves as a sacristy.

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The Meldois (local people of Meaux old celtic tribe) have been talking about the old chapter house since the 19C. But what is the origin of this denomination we can ask. The first hypothesis come up is the assembly of canons who were held in the chapel of cathechisms in the courtyard of the episcopal palace at the beginning of the 19C, the castle then became the Vieux Chapitre or old chapterhouse. The second and most probable hypothesis tells us that from the end of the 18C, cracks were clearly visible on the turret and the bay. The state of disrepair set in and grew throughout the 19C. The first hypothesis probably favored the second, the clergy not wanting, not being able to finance the work.

The old chapter house became State property, restoration began in 1916 and was completed in 1933 except for some interior fittings such as heating, wc, etc. completed in 1937. The footbridge designed and built by the architect Albert Bray was completed in 1935. The origin of the castle dates back to the 12C or 13C. The external staircase was covered with its framework in the 14C. It leads to the first floor. The basic room, located about 5 meters underground, was used as a storeroom. It would also have served as a prison. In the 19C, the room was partitioned. The two naves are separated in the middle by four massive pillars thus delimiting ten cross vaults. The ground floor has the same layout as the basement. This room would have been the refectory of the canons or the meeting place of the chapter. The first floor is accessed by the only external staircase. Inside, four columns carry a 15C framework. It is the noble floor as in any castle of the Middle Ages. Later, this room would have served as a dormitory for the canons. The attic, accessed by a   collimasson staircase located in the turret. The beautiful frame rests on the north and south walls joined by four oak beams crossing the room. This floor served as an attic.

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Its picturesque silhouette already attracted the attention of Victor Hugo as seen in his travelogue “Le Rhin”, published in 1842.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit here and it’s a must me think are:

The city of Meaux and the Vieux Chapitrehttps://www.ville-meaux.fr/fr/tourisme/balade-a-meaux/le-vieux-chapitre.html

The Meaux tourist office on the Vieux Chapitrehttps://www.tourisme-paysdemeaux.com/en/node/3423

This is a wonderful spot in Meaux as said behind the Cathedral and around the Jardin Bossuet and the museum, and the tourist office with the house of the brie cheese all in old town wonderful architecture and history abound. Hope you enjoy the post as me telling you about it!

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

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