And I bring you Fécamp !!

This is one of those towns I came to visit long ago and now not so. The choices are many and difficult to choose indeed. I found me an old paper pic and will try to give an introduction to this wonderful town of my belle France. Therefore, I bring you Fécamp !!

The city of Fécamp is located in the Seine-Maritime dept 76 in the Normandie region of my belle France. I will bring you a bit of condense history I like: Fécamp tell us that in the 7C, Saint Léger les leudes of the King of the Franks was deported to Fécamp, was welcomed into the first monastery which was then an abbey for ladies. In the 9C, the Vikings destroyed the monastery in a raid and it is said that the nuns will voluntarily mutilate their faces, to escape “dishonor” It is the birthplace of the Dukes of Normandy Richard I and Richard II who lived there , and died on August 22, 1027. The abbey church of La Trinité was built for the first time in Romanesque style with Caen blond stone and Fécamp stone. It was consecrated in 1106 . The relics of the Precious Blood, a sort of Holy Grail, will attract sinners and pilgrims and contribute to making this Benedictine abbey the most opulent in Normandy. In 1410 the English invaded and burned the city, then occupied it, maintaining a garrison there. In 1449, the city was liberated from English occupation.

One major thing to see here, and remembered visited but no pictures found. The Abbey of the Trinity of Fécamp, is a Benedictine abbey built within the walls of the castle of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction of the sanctuary began around 658 around the relic of the Precious Blood, entrusted according to legend to the sea by Isaac, son of Joseph of Arimathea, and came to miraculously run aground on the beaches of the pays de Caux. Later, Richard I had a new church of the Trinity built, consecrated in 990 . From the collegiate church, nothing remains today. Richard II of Normandy transformed the collegiate church in 1001 into Benedictine men’s abbey, and again nothing remains of this church.  A new Gothic church was then built in 1187 , and was completed in the 13C. During the French revoluition, on December 11, 1792, the church was transformed into a Temple of Reason where the feast of the raison. There remains only the choir for the exercise of worship. The 1st germinal year II, (in the period from March 21 to April 19, 1793 and 1794) the Catholic worship is suppressed, there is a lot of destruction, statues, bells, pulpit, stone and metal crosses, the gates of iron are dismantled, the rood screen that hides the choir is demolished.

However, for me the main thing to see here is the Benedictine Palace Museum. The Benedictine Palace is a building mixing neo-Gothic and neo-Renaissance styles, built at the end of the 19C for Alexandre-Prosper Le Grand, a spirits merchant who made his fortune by inventing and marketing Benedictine liqueur. The Palace houses a Museum of Religious Arts, the distillery still in operation as well as a cocktail bar, La Verrière, which is open every day even in low season. Work began in 1882, and it was inaugurated for the first time in 1888. But, devastated on January 12, 1892 by a fire, it was then rebuilt in its current form, in an architecture mixing neo-Gothic style and neo-Renaissance style, characteristic of eclecticism, a trend of historicism that ran through the entire 19C, before the emergence of Art Nouveau, to which the style of the palace also refers.

The Benedictine palace is both the place of production of Benedictine liqueur and a museum, unrelated to the Benedictine abbey of Fécamp. One room tells the story of the liqueur and another brings together some 600 counterfeits of which the Bénédictine was a victim, one of the most copied liqueurs in the world. The plants are presented under the glass roof of the Jardin des essences.  In the more classical part, the museum has a large collection of art from the 14-16C, partly from the personal collections of the founder, represented in the center of a large stained glass window as a glorious restorer of the liquor that made his fortune …There is also a contemporary art exhibition gallery open to the public. The museum is made up of rooms dedicated to ancient and medieval art, many of which come from the old abbey. They contain various collections of enamels and ivories, the library comes in part from the abbey of Fécamp, a collection of ironwork , acquired in a castle in the Val-de-Loire; paintings, mostly on wood, formerly attributed to specific French, Italian, German and Flemish artists, somewhat arbitrary attributions. From the abbey of Fécamp, a library exhibits manuscripts and incunabula, champlevé enamels from the 16C, reliquaries, carved ivories, ancient ironwork.

Fecamp palais benedictine liquor museum

Fecamp mon benedictine now hotel de ville et museum

The recipe for Benedictine liqueur was invented by Alexandre-Prosper-Hubert Le Grand, who founded the Benedictine Society in the 19C. His grandson Fernand Le Grand, while managing the family distillery, created a private radio station, Radio-Fécamp, in the mid-1920s. Its growing success led it to take the name Radio-Normandie and to offer commercial radio programs in English in competition with the BBC until WWII.  The Nazis, as part of the “Wall of the Atlantic”, fortified the city, the seaside villas and the casino are dynamited.

Some of the other things to see here are the ruins of the ducal castle, St. Stephen’s Church, and the Fisheries Museum.

The official Benedictine palace museum

The Fécamp tourist office on the Benedictine palace museum

The Seine Maritime dept 76 tourist office on the Benedictine palace museum

The city of Fécamp on its history

There you go folks, another dandy a jewel of my belle France. Fécamp needs more time and indeed more of that liquor of Benedictine nature. Hope you enjoy this introductory post and sure will come back, eventually.

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

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