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Certain regions of France have never been the site of ostentatious courts, nor of flourishing industries, they have had no famous schools, nor well-known artists, nor luxurious palaces nor wealthy towns. Their modest rustic charm entrances without dazzling, and their crudely hewn, bare stone renders them inseparable from the village whose toil they sanctify, and from the countryside with which they are linked by many secrets ties.
Published by Francois Hagnere 68 months ago in France | +11 votes | 1 comments
Like all Breton calvaries, Tronoën is an enigmatic piece of work. With their suggestions of savagery, their striking realism, their depiction of the closeness of death, the religious statuary of the 15th and 16th centuries in Brittany achieved a haunting power which had rarely been matched and at the same time expressed the spirit of the people. This unique blend of toughness and mysticism and a living background of Celtic traditions can still be found near the Pointe du Raz.
Published by Francois Hagnere 68 months ago in France | +13 votes | 4 comments
When people talk about the Châteaux on the Loire, they usually refer to the châteaux along the tributaries of the river as well as those on the banks of the Loire itself. Some even prefer the châteaux on the tributaries to those of the parent river. Chenonceau with its magnificent gallery on the Cher River has always been a ladies' château. No less than six have been involved in its history, among them the fascinating Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henri II.
Published by Francois Hagnere 69 months ago in France | +9 votes | 2 comments
The builders of Saint-Sernin wanted to rival the Benedictines of Cluny when they erected the vast basilica of Toulouse. All the resources available to a pilgrimage church were brought into play: ambulatory with radiating chapels, transepts with small apses, and above the crossing, a huge five-storey tower. In the Gothic period, an octagonal spire completed it. There is no doubt that with Conques, it represented the apotheosis of this kind of pilgrimage basilica, barely inferior to Compostela its...
Published by Francois Hagnere 69 months ago in France | +16 votes | 8 comments
The rock was converted to Christianity by Saint-Auber, bishop of Avranches, acting on the orders - so tradition has it - of Saint-Michael the Archangel. But profoundly Christian that it is, this gem of western architecture retains its links with an earlier magical tradition. In the Summer, its mystical beauty is spoilt by the teeming crowds and souvenir shops. But during the Winter, the Mont-Saint-Michel comes back into its own when solitude descends, the cold wind blows and the waves hammer aga...
Published by Francois Hagnere 69 months ago in France | +11 votes | 2 comments
From Honfleur and its calm harbour on the "Côte de Grâce" to Deauville on the "Côte Fleurie" where so many personalities have strolled at some time or the other on the famous "planches" to Omaha Beach and the historic sites of 1944 Allied landings, you will discover the various faces of Normandy coastline. At Coutances, you will admire a majestic Gothic cathedral that seems to defy the laws of gravity. You will also have a glimpse of the "Norman Switzerland" down to the marvellous Mont-...
Published by Francois Hagnere 69 months ago in France | +9 votes | 5 comments
The Gothic was long to penetrate Brittany, but once the Breton craftsmen had learnt to produce gables and lacy spires, they took delight in rich ornamentation. Even in the 18th century, Breton masons were still building Gothic edifices. The towers became higher and higher as they were seized with a desperate search for empty spaces. They carved the granite and stone with a wealth of intricate decoration. Enjoy this tour of the most fabulous Cathedrals of Brittany!
Published by Francois Hagnere 70 months ago in France | +13 votes | 5 comments
Since the nineteenth-century, the Church of Paray-le-Monial has been a pilgrimage centre for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in memory of the visions of an eighteenth-century nun, Sister Marguerite-Marie Alacoque. Inside the church, light plays on a dizzy assembly of columns and barrel vaults, bringing life to the stone; an unobtrusive twist underlines the curves like a garland. All the architectural knowledge of the Romanesque age was brought into play in the magnificent ambulatory of Paray-le-Monia...
Published by Francois Hagnere 70 months ago in France | +14 votes | 3 comments
Souvigny is one of the finest examples of architecture and sculpture adapted by regional styles; the choir with its ambulatory and the rectangular end-chapel recall the ground-plan of Issoire in Auvergne, while the capitals ordorned with basket-work patterns reflect the proximity of Berry in the north. The church was a stopping point on the pilgrimage road to Santiago de Compostela, and has been altered several times by the Dukes of Bourbon who introduced the Gothic to the heart of France. The r...
Published by Francois Hagnere 70 months ago in France | +18 votes | 6 comments
No church exemplifies better the architectural innovation that came in the wake of the disastrous pyres of Montségur. It is a masterpiece of the Southern Gothic; the external severity belies its joyous interior. The nave is 100 meters long, with no side-aisles, transept or ambulatory to spoil the unity of the conception and the vault is covered with blue and gold paintings of the 16th century. A magnificent dais intricately carved in white stone contrasts with the austerity of the brick walls...
Published by Francois Hagnere 70 months ago in France | +10 votes | 4 comments
The Benedictines played a seminal role in the diffusion of architectural style here as in many other regions of France. Cupolas, bringing an unusual touch of Byzantine charm to the Aquitaine skyline, top many edifices, from Cahors to Angoulême. These are not placed on squinches, as they are at Le Puy, in Provence or at Saint-Martin-d'Ainay in Lyon, but on pendentives, springing from very wide arches carried on powerful pillars. Some people have attempted to explain this taste for cupolas.
Published by Francois Hagnere 70 months ago in France | +11 votes | 3 comments
Sens and Saint-Denis, the famous necropolis of French Kings near Paris, are together the mother and father of French Gothic churches. The Bishop of Sens, Henri Sanglier, was a close friend of Abbot Suger who, no doubt, introduced him to his daring plans. If Sens Cathedral is a venerable dowager, Auxerre is a merry widow, "the merriest Gothic cathedral in Burgundy". When Abbot Guillaume de Seignelay decided to rebuild his church, he announced that his plans would give it "all the beauty of a seco...
Published by Francois Hagnere 70 months ago in France | +11 votes | 7 comments
The heart weeps for these high points of the faith in Normandy, wrecked by the passage of time or the brutality of the human race. In the 17th century, the Congregation of Saint-Maur undertook a major programme to save many of these beautiful places; but their reconstructions often were of the kind that wiped out the original buildings. The traditional plan of Benedictine monasteries underwent modifications in the Classical Style with ornamental staircases like in a château.
Published by Francois Hagnere 70 months ago in France | +12 votes | 4 comments
If you approach Corsica from the sea, its charm starts to work even before you set foot on its shores. The salty, seaweed tang of the open sea gives way to the offshore breeze bearing with it a unique combination of fragrant perfumes that is typically Corsican: a mixture of aloe-wood and juniper, cistus and asphodel, eucalyptus and lentisk, lavender and myrtle.
Published by Francois Hagnere 70 months ago in France | +18 votes | 6 comments
In the other Rome, also nicknamed "the ringing city" by Rabelais, one could once hear the bells of eight chapters, thirty five monasteries and sixty churches. From 1309 to 1377, the small town of Avignon was turned into the capital of the Papacy. The greatest artists of Italy and other regions came to work on the palace. Among them, Simone Martini came from Siena to create several masterpieces for the cathedral Notre-Dame-des-Doms, including the Madonna and Child and the frescoes of the porch. ...
Published by Francois Hagnere 70 months ago in France | +10 votes | 2 comments
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