Friday, 24 November 2017

The Palace of the Dukes of Berry

On Monday I mentioned that Marguerite d'Angoulême was also known as Marguerite de Navarre and Marguerite d'Alençon. What I didn't say is that another of her titles was Duchess of Berry, a position she held in her own right, being granted the Duchy by her brother François I.

A part of the ducal palace in Bourges still exists, and is incorporated in the Prefecture of the Cher region. It was built in 1370, and has a rather plain 20th century extension blocking the view. You can see what is left of the Palace of the Dukes of Berry peeking over the new section.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Some more photos from the Traffic Jam

Back in September I went with Gaynor and TimB to the Bouchonne du Sainte Maure. Here are some additional photos.

Sometimes you have to improvise:

We're all going on a.... what sort of holiday?

Not only cars - there were quite a few bikes of all sizes

American and French style...

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Angevin Architectural Delights

Here are some more details of the Maison d'Adam, the late 15th century timber framed building in the centre of Angers. To see my previous post about it, click here.

The most famous of the carvings, the 'Three Balled Man'.

Saint George (or Saint Michael) slaying the dragon.

The Lovers.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Avranches Cathedral.

The internet is a wonderful thing, but you have to be really careful about using it as a reference tool: if you Google "Avranches Cathedral" the images you find will almost invariably be of the Eglise Notre-Dame-des-Champs, misidentified.

Avranches Cathedral was rebuilt in 1204 after the previous building of 1121 was destroyed by Breton invaders. The "new" building was probably built on the Romanesque plan of the previous building, and incorporated its towers. The whole lot started to fall down in the 16th century, and the remaining parts were demolished in the 19th century.

The reason we know the internet is wrong:
this is all that survives of Avranches Cathedral

There is a reason I am interested in Avranches Cathedral - we were there in early August, and I wanted to see the place where in 1172 King Henry II of England performed his penance for the murder of Thomas Beckett.

 The monument was erected in 1843 by the local historical society.

The inscription reads "At the door of the Cathedral of Avranches, after the murder of Thomas Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry II, King of England and Duke of Normandy, received on his knees the absolution of the legates of the Popes"

So, disappointingly, not only was I unable to see the church where this event took place, even the church that replaced the church where the event took place no longer exists.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Monday is Queens Day: 8 Marguerite d'Angoulême

Also known as Marguerite de Navarre and Marguerite d'Alençon, Marguerite d'Angoulême led a very complicated life: married twice, wife of a king, sister of second king, and grandmother of yet another king, patron of the arts, poet, diplomat and religious provocateur.

With her brother, François I she invited Leonardo to France and installed him in her home, Clos Lucé. She also invited trouble by writing a very long (and quite weird) poem, Miroir de l'âme pécheresse (Mirror of the Sinful Soul). It was enough to have her accused of heresy, a charge her brother had to fight long and hard to have overturned. The poem found its way into the hands of the 11 year old English princess Elizabeth, who translated it into English and gave it to her stepmother, Catherine Parr. It is claimed that the poem was in part responsible for the Protestant fervour of Queen Elizabeth I.

The Jardin du Luxembourg has statues of 20 French Queens and Illustrious women. The subjects were chosen by Louis-Philippe I in 1843. This statue was created by Joseph-Stanislas Lescorné in 1848. To see Margeurite looking pensive you have to go here.

Eventually all 20 statues will be featured here.

Sunday, 19 November 2017


Blackbean Castanospermum australe is native to the north-eastern coastal areas of Australia, New Guinea, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. It is a large tree with orange flowers and big pods of seeds that look like chestnuts.

Aboriginal people ate the seeds (carefully prepared to remove toxins) and the timber is attractively grained so after white settlement it was sometimes used for furniture.

The flower and seeds, fallen to the forest floor.