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Step ten (and last) – A walking through Castres

Another beautiful road led us north of Carcassonne, to visit the city of Castres….

Castres is a commune, and arrondissement capital in the Tarn department and Midi-Pyrénées region, and it lies in the former French province of Languedoc. Castres is (after Toulouse, Tarbes and Albi) the fourth largest industrial centre of the predominantly rural Midi-Pyrénées region and the largest in that part of Languedoc lying between Toulouse and Montpellier. It is noted also for being the birthplace of the famous socialist leader Jean Jaurès and home to the important Goya Museum of Spanish painting.

(above and below, old houses along the river Agout)

The name of the town comes from Latin castrum, and means “fortified place”. Castres grew up round the Benedictine abbey of Saint Benoît, which is believed to have been founded in AD 647, possibly on the site of an old Roman fort (castrum). Castres became an important stop on the international pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela in Spain because its abbey-church, built in the 9th century, was keeping the relics of Saint Vincent, the renowned martyr of Spain. It was a place of some importance as early as the 12th century, and ranked as the second town of the Albigeois behind Albi. Despite the decline of its abbey, which in 1074 came under the authority of Saint Victor abbey in Marseille, Castres was granted a liberal charter in the 12th century by the famous Trencavel family, viscounts of Albi. Resulting from the charter, Castres was ruled by a college of consuls.

During the Albigensian Crusade it surrendered of its own accord to Simon de Montfort, and thus entered into the kingdom of France in 1229. In 1317, Pope John XXII established the bishopric of Castres. In 1356, the town of Castres was raised to a countship by King John II of France. However, the town greatly suffered from the Black Plague in 1347-1348, then from the Black Prince of England and the Free Companies (bands of lawless mercenaries) who laid waste the country during the Hundred Years’ War. Consequently, by the late 14th century Castres entered a period of sharp decline. In 1375, there were only 4,000 inhabitants left in town, only half the figure from a century before. Following the confiscation of the possessions of Jacques d’Armagnac, duke of Nemours, to which the countship of Castres had passed, it was bestowed in 1476 by King Louis XI on Boffille de Juge (Boffillo del Giudice), an Italian nobleman and adventurer serving as a diplomat for Louis XI, but the appointment led to so much disagreement (family feud between Boffille de Juge, his only daughter, and his brother-in-law) that the countship was united to the crown by King Francis I in 1519.

(above, the statue of Jean Jaurès in the same name square – below, with a very interested husband – at market time, and after it)

Around 1560, the majority of the population of Castres converted to Protestantism. In the wars of the latter part of the 16th century the inhabitants sided with the Protestant party, fortified the town, and established an independent republic. Castres was one of the largest Protestant strongholds in southern France, along with Montauban and La Rochelle. Henry of Navarre, leader of the Protestant party, who later became King Henry IV of France, stayed in Castres in 1585. The Protestants of Castres were brought to terms, however, by King Louis XIII in 1629, and Richelieu came himself to Castres to have its fortifications dismantled. Nonetheless, after these religious wars, the town, now in peace, enjoyed a period of rapid expansion. Business and traditional commercial activities revived, in particular fur and leather-dressing, tanning, and above all wool trade. Culture flourished anew, with the founding of the Academy of Castres in 1648. Castres was turned by the Catholic Church into an active center of Counter-Reformation, with the establishments of several convents in town, and the building of a renowned bishop’s palace by Mgr. Tubœuf, still the most famous monument in town today. A new cathedral was also built, after the destructions of the religious wars. Perhaps even more important, Castres was made the seat of the “Chambre de l’Édit” of the Parliament of Toulouse, a court of justice detached from the Parliament of Toulouse and in charge of dealing with the cases involving the Protestants of Languedoc, a measure of protection granted to them by the Edict of Nantes. This court attracted lots of business to Castres. In 1665, there were 7,000 inhabitants in Castres, 4,000 of whom Catholic, and 3,000 Protestant.

In 1670 however, the Chambre de l’Édit was transferred to Castelnaudary, much to the discontent of even the catholic citizens of Castres, who lost a major source of business and revenue with the departure of the lawyers and the plaintiffs. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes soon followed, and Castres suffered a lot when a great number of Protestants chose to go into exile. Then came the plague of 1720-1721 and the fire of 1724. Last but not least, Castres lost its liberal charter in 1758. In the 1760s, a few years after the famous Calas Affair in Toulouse, Castres made the headlines nationwide: Pierre-Paul Sirven and his wife, both Protestants, were wrongly accused of having murdered their daughter in order to prevent her from converting to Catholicism. Tried and sentenced to death “in absentia” on March 29, 1764, they were defended by Voltaire, and eventually exonerated in 1771.

The outbreak of the French Revolution was generally welcomed in Castres, particularly among the local Protestant merchants and entrepreneurs, but the majority of the population remained moderate during the whole period. In 1793 for instance, Protestant pastor Alba La Source, Castres’ representative at the Convention in Paris, opposed the deportation of “non-juror” Catholic priests to French Guiana, where death in the horrid jungle was certain. “Non-juror” priests were by far the majority in the region of Castres. Accused of being a moderate, Alba La Source was guillotined in October 1793. Suspected of being lukewarm toward the revolution, Castres was duly chastised. The bishopric which had been established by Pope John XXII in 1317 was abolished, Castres later becoming part of the bishopric of Albi. Capital of the département of Tarn in 1790, the town was downgraded to capital of an arrondissement in 1797, Albi being made the capital of the département. Despite these setbacks, in the 19th century the economy of Castres developed greatly, and the town grew outside of its old medieval center. As early as 1815, the first mechanized wool mill was set up in town. Originally specialized in luxury cloth, the Castres textile industry then turned toward more ordinary types of cloth, whose markets were considerably larger. Around 1860, there were 50 wool mills in town, employing 3,000 people. In the end of the 19th century, mechanical engineering industries appeared beside the textile industry, which led to Castres becoming a major arsenal for the French army during the First World War. Castres was linked to the French railway network in 1865. At the end of the 19th century, Castres was the largest town in the département of Tarn, with 5,000 more inhabitants than Albi.

The Goya Museum (below) is settled in a part of the ancient bishop’s palace of Castres which plans had been designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, one of Versailles architects. Although the museum exists since 1840, the Briguiboul legacy of 1894 determined its Hispanic vocation. Painter and collector, dazzled by the famous Spanish master, he acquired numerous quality works among which Goya famous : “Self portrait with glasses”, “Portrait of Francisco del Mazo”, a set of engravings : “The Caprices” and” The Philippines Assembly”. In 1949, prestigious deposits from the Louvre Museum confirmed such specialisation :”Portrait of Philip IV” by Velázquez, “Virgin with the Rosary and child” by Murillo. Since then, the Castres Museum never stopped enriching and, particularly, those past twenty years and this place, unique of the kind, became a reference to appreciate Spanish creation, from Antiquity until the 20th century. (sorry, but inside it was forbidden to take photos).

Castres Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Benoît de Castres – below), now the Roman Catholic church of Saint Benoît (Saint Benedict), was formerly the seat of the bishop of Castres, but the diocese was not restored after the French Revolution and was added by the Concordat of 1801 to the Archdiocese of Albi. The first cathedral was built in the 14th century after the creation of the diocese of Castres in 1317, along with a number of other dioceses created in the region after the suppression of the Albigensians. It was destroyed during the French Wars of Religion. The present building which replaced it was constructed in the 16th and 17th centuries.

On a plaque is written: “Bishop of Tuboeuf initially, first put into effect plans for the building in 1678”, on the site of the former St. Benedict Abbey, which had been destroyed by religious wars. The works were later halted by a lack of funding. The construction was then resumed under Monseigneur de Beaujeu. The cathedral was consecrated in 1718. The style is baroque and very sober. The initial plans were for a large imposing building. The interior is huge. The decoration of the vault dates from the last century. In the choir is a canopy of gilded wood supported by red marble columns from Caunes (Aude). The side chapels contain a rich collection of paintings from the Toulouse school of the eighteenth century (Chevalier Rivals). Most of the decorative elements are from the old monastery of Saïx, including : the seats of the canons, the doors of the sacristy and the paintings. The Cathedral of Saint-Benoit was classified as a Historical Monument on June 24, 1953.

It was a very interesting visit, the last one of our vacation in France. This country never stops to surprise us, and each time it leaves seeds for another visit….

 

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Step seven – The other two cities

Our hotel in Carcassonne was located near the walls of the old medieval city of ” La Citè” in the old neighbourhood of Trivalle, just halfway from the old Bastide St. Louis….

In rue Trivalle (just opposite the hotel) stands a three-story house whose façade, long neglected, has recently been restored, House Montmorency. The ground floor is made of stone like the framing of the stories, but it have an inside structure of wood. This type of construction, common in the sixteenth century – probably the date of construction of the building – was obviously fragile due to frequent fires that were ravaging towns: this is one of the few building that have survived over the centuries in the region. The name of Montmorency is given by a family of the sixteenth century, the most famous of its member being Henri de Montmorency, Lord of Damville, who during the Wars of Religion between 1585 and 1591 was the captain of the Catholic “moderates” based in the Trivalle area, that was the scene of violent clashes, as the one that took place between the 14 and 16 April 1590, when the fortress pulled over the lower town and the suburbs more than 600 cannon shots.

One of the many houses that presents a cathar symbol (a flag in this case, disturbed by the wind…) a cross that has became the symbol of the region…

A church dedicated to Our Lady seems to have existed in the fourth century. It was then mentioned at the beginning of the tenth century under the name of Sainte-Marie-du-Saint-Sauveur. This church was served by regular canons living under the rule of St. Augustine. The Capuchins settled in the Church of Our Lady of the Abbey in 1592 and restored it completely. In the nineteenth century, the chapel again changed its name to St. Gracious and became the major seminary chapel. It houses now the Diocesan Museum.

On the outer wall of Notre-Dame of the Abbey, a magnificent fresco realized in 1991 by ” The City of the Creation “a company based in Lyon. Measuring 100 m of length and 5 m of height, the fresco represents strong moments of the past of the medieval City between XI ° and XIII ° century. In the form of miniatures from the 11 letters of “Carcassonne”, it offers a succession of historic pictures staging characters of the crusade among whom Trencavel, Saint-Louis, Simon de Montfort, the “heretics”, the Saracens and the crusaders…..

Between old houses and little shops…………….

 

……at the end Rue Trivalle surprises with the old Royal Manifacturing building, with the coat of arms of the king of France on the main entrance door. Material benefits accompanied the honorary privileges. Manufactures Royales each received three thousand pounds a year as a subsidy for rent and a bonus for the amount of linen exported to the Levant. In return, the Manufactures Royales had to maintain the number of jobs in business and ensure a minimum production. Former home of a noble family Carcassonnaise, the building was bought in 1694 by a relative of Colbert, who founded a cloth mill. The latter will take the title of Manufacture Royale in 1696. The only building from that time still visible, is the owners’ home. The Royal Factory grew until 1789, but by lack of investment, modernization of equipment and accounting rigor, the establishment went bankrupt.

On the side door of the old factory, has disappeared the word “Royal”, it was cleared out in 1789, during the French Revolution.

Near this building there’s the access to the oldest bridge of the town “Pont Vieux” (‘old bridge’) and it is indeed old, dating from the 14th century. Until the 1800s it was the only bridge between the Bastide (the ‘newer’ lower town) and La Cite (the ancient walled town) over the river Aude. It’s closed to traffic and it’s a really nice walk for pedestrians…

On the other side of the bridge the building of the Old Hospital still exists (very much restored), and it is nowadays a house for pensioners.

In front of it, the little chapel Of Notre-Dame de la Santè (Our Lady of the Health). It was formerly used as the chapel of the hospital and this function certainly gives the explanation for the name….

This chapel is a true jewel and a perfect example of the Flamboyant Gothic architecture, though it was built during the Renaissance period. In the choir of the chapel behind the altar stands a nice statue of the Virgin and Child. Another statue of the Virgin is to be found outside, hidden in a recess of the wall. Although the dimensions of this chapel are very small, it is still visited by many people who come there to pray, or just light a candle. Obviously many visitors had their whishes granted according to the wall full of ex-voto….

Just around the corner of a beautiful house recently renovated, there’s one of the most frequented place, Square Gambetta.

Built on the former Place Coal after various properties acquired or expropriated by the City, following a city council decision of 20 December 1850, it was then called Place St. Cecilia. It took the name “Gambetta Square” by decree of July 7, 1883 with the addition of a garden. This garden remained in its state until March 27, 1944 when “by order of the German occupation authorities” began the demolition of the square. 
After the liberation of the city on 22 August 1944, the Municipality worked to remove the stigma of the passage of the occupant.
On the platform facing the east stands the Monument of the Resistance, by the sculptor Iché, presented to the City of Carcassonne by the Resistance Veterans. The sealed urns at the feet of the monument contain soil from the Buckenwald camp. 

The Museum of Fine Arts, closing one side of the square.

Oh my…how much I love this kind of old houses, very french, don’t you think?

As well as this school….

….or this Court of Justice….

We walked so far as to reach the first lock of the city on the Canal du Midi (south canal)………

The work of Pierre-Paul Riquet and excavated in the XVIIth century to link the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, the Canal du Midi, formerly used for transporting goods and people, is today frequented by numerous boaters and tourists and flows through the centre of the city of Carcassonne. In 1996, the Canal du Midi was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The locks, bridges, aqueducts and canal bridges along the 240 km of the waterway are witness to the technical prowess of its constructors and also a work of art..The canal banks, once towpaths, are fringed with different varieties of trees and are a ideal walking and cycling trail for visitors

From there we walked toward the Bastide St. Louis.  The bastide is hemmed by boulevards built in the 18th and 19th century over the old, once fortified town ditches. The military enclosure and the gates protect the “ville basse” or lower town. Its surrounding wall was built betwen 1355 and 1359, under the orders of the comte d’Armagnac; it was 2,800 metres long; the bastions were built after 1359; at that time, people simply erected in the corners some round-shaped towers, greater than the other parts of the wall. Toward the end of the 16th century, during the wars of religion that devastated the South of France, the town was flanked with 4 bastions located at each corner: the bastion of Saint-Martial in the northwest, the bastion of la Figuières in the northeast, of Montmorency in the southeast, of la Tour Grosse or les Moulins in the southwest (now called du Calvaire).

On the eve of the French Revolution of 1789, the lower town had yet only 4 gates: – the western gate, porte de Toulouse or des Augustins (rue de Verdun), adorned with two handsome towers forming like a manor, which were restored in 1749. But because of a Council decree issued on 31 May 1778 ruling that the walls, towers, ditches, ramparts and walkways were to be handed in perpetuity to the Lower Town Community, the consuls let this monument fall into decay, and it was entirely destroyed in 1806.
– Rue des Carmes (located at the end of today’s rue Georges Clemenceau).
– The western Rue des Cordeliers, located at the eastern end of today’s Rue Aimé Ramond (formerly rue de la Mairie).
– The gate, porte des Jacobins, currently preserved and registered on the additional Historical Monuments inventory.

Situated right in the heart of the main avenue of the lower city, nested between two shops so that it would almost go unnoticed, the Church of Notre-Dame du Mont Carmel (XIV century) remains open permanently. Very dark, very Gothic also, you can admire especially an attractive altarpiece and some very old statues made with golden wood.

Near the church there’s a place very dear to the people of Carcassonne, Place Carnot….

Place Carnot, while one of many squares scattered throughout town, is the “heart” of the city, the central square since medieval times that has been the main meeting place and market for the lower town.  Place Carnot is where the open-air vegetable, fruit, and flower market is held every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  This is the place to sit and enjoy a morning café creme or afternoon Pastis at one of the many cafés’ outdoor tables and watch people walk past. Place Carnot is where you can enjoy watching children chase pigeons past the Fountain of Neptune or skate on the seasonal skating rink that is assembled during the Christmas season.  This is where many free musical events and an occasional wine tasting are hosted during the year.

The history of the square is very rich.  At the junction of the main streets of rue de Verdun and rue Georges Clemenceau, royal surveyors marked out a large square. After 1355, the square was reduced to the size we see today. After the fire in 1622 which destroyed more than 150 houses and the arcades filled with shops round the square, a new corn market (now the covered market) was built on the site of the Officiality. This cleared the square. On 27th December 1792, during the French Revolution, Jeanne Establet, or Joan the Black, was guillotined here with two of her accomplices. Two years later, Father Henri Beille, Vicar of Alet, a non-juring priest became the only victim of the Reign of Terror when he was executed. During the Napoleonic Empire, the square was renamed Place Impériale. It became Place Royale during the Restoration of the Monarchy, then Place Dauphine, Place de la Liberté and Place de la Révolution, Place aux Herbes (1852) and, finally, Place Carnot (1894).

At the center of Place Carnot is the marble Fountain of Neptune.  The fountain is surrounded by a rose-colored marble basin from the village of Caunes-Minervois which has been producing marble since Roman times. Neptune was sculpted by Italian artist Barata and his son and finished around 1771.  Beneath Neptune are marble figures of dolphins and naiads.

Straight from Place Carnot, one the old gates of the Bastide, the Jacobins’ Gate…..

Raised in 1779 on the place of an old gothic gate, it is part of a more ambitious town planning. In the 18th century old gothic buildings were not fashionable anymore. Bishop Bazin de Bezons decided to raze those old gates and build modern and monumental entries to the Bastide in neo- classical style. There were four gates (north, south, east, west) which were old were destroyed.The Jacobins’ Gate which is the south gate of the Bastide is the only one that was erected. The royal coat of arms decorating the gate was destroyed during the French Revolution. The little house next to the gate was formerly the lodging house of the doorkeeper. There is a very nice fountain too, on the square facing the gate…

We walked around a little portion of the old Bastide walls. The three bastions we see today in the Lower Town are the only remains of the former fortifications. They date back from the 16th century.There were five of them originally. Bishop Armand Bazin de Bezons ordered in 1764 to demolish the two others together with the ramparts. The fortifications were replaced by the Boulevards.

And then, through some little streets and alleys, here we are again, on the Pont Vieux towards the Citè…..

Stunning view, isn’t it? We’ll keep this view in our eyes and in our hearts for a very long time…..

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Step one – Uzès

We were there already, four years ago, but just for a few hours, a walk through its streets and squares…..This time we found on the web a lovely B&B  where to stay for three nights (and the expectations were more than satisfied!)….there we met an english family from Sheffield, and by the end of our stay we were already friends, exchanged our home addresses, phone numbers and e-mails, to be sure to stay in touch…and the place was so charming and cozy and the owners so friendly, we’re thinking of coming back this fall….

Staying longer we had the chance to see a little more of this charming village (photos posted at random) its very quiet streets, especially at the end of the day, or its crowded places………both aspects are nice to see.

(hubby being the lonely walker at that moment...)

Originally Ucetia, Uzès was a small Gallo-Roman oppidum, or administrative settlement. The town lies at the source of the Alzon river, at Fontaine d’Eure, from where a Roman aqueduct was built in the first century BC, to supply water to the local city of Nîmes, 50 kilometres (31 miles) away. The most famous stretch of the aqueduct is the Pont du Gard, which carried fresh water over splendid arches across the river Gardon (another beautiful memory of the region, back in the summer of 2006).

The civilized and tolerant urban life of 5th-century Uzès contrasted with the Frankish north. Jews were apparently settled there as early as the 5th century. Saint Ferréol, Bishop of Uzès, allegedly admitted them to his table; on this account complaint was made of him to King Childebert I, whereupon the bishop was obliged to change his attitude toward the Jews, compelling all those who would not become Christians to leave Uzès. After his death (581) many who had received baptism returned to Judaism. Jews were expelled from the region in 614.

In early 8th century, Uzès was a fortified civitas and bishopric under the archbishop of Narbonne. During the Umayyad conquest of Gothic Septimania, Uzès became the northernmost stronghold of the Andalusians circa 725. Charles Martel went on to lay siege to the stronghold in 736, but it remained in Gothic-Andalusian hands up to 752, when counts loyal to Ansemund of Nîmes handed over a large number of strongholds to the Frankish Pepin the Short. In 753 the stronghold rebelled against the Franks after Ansemund’s assassination, but the uprising was suppressed and a Frankish trustee of Pepin imposed. In the 13th century, Uzès hosted a small community of Jewish scholars, as well as a community of Cathars. Like many cloth-manufacturing centers (Uzès was known for its serges), the city and the surrounding countryside were strongly Protestant during the Wars of Religion in the 16th century, which wreaked havoc in Languedoc. Numerous of the city’s churches were trashed and burned by furious Protestants: only two remain today.

While there, we enjoyed some very good meals in local restaurants….the first we tried was good for the food, but the service was really deplorable, a very long wait and not so cheap….the location, on a terrace, and the view made up for that…

Located on the Place aux Herbes there are at least 15 restaurants….we chooce A Cotè and it was a good choice….

The best was the one we found following a horse carriage, in a little place just behind the main square….

Obviously, being in France, we couldn’t avoid the nth market (not that we wanted to, but we didn’t look for it neither)……the explosion of colors and smells was amazing as always…

We decided to exlpore more of the place….but that’s for another chapter…

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Life goes like this…

Lots of things going on here…. It’s the busiest time ever at work, working 10 hours a day all week…saturday and sundays are for shopping, cleaning, family and friends, not really enough time for being social….I’ll be back to normal mid-august….if I survive!

Here are some pics from our visit (end of april) to the annual flowers and plants fair, held in the park of the Royal Palace in Colorno.

We try to visit it every year because our friend R has a stall there where he sells his olive and fruits plants….our last time was two years ago, read about it here….

 

This muscular back belongs to M, our friend’s son….

The same weekend was also dedicated to some Street Food tasting…..a really good tasting!

From the end of february we are renovating my m-i-l apartment for our daughter, lots of things to do, to buy, to decide, problems after problems…now we are almost done, and this will be a subject for another post…soon, I hope.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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A busy saturday

First saturday of march, the day wasn’t that good, a little rain in the morning, heavier later in the day…I had a lunch date with my ex-collegue P. and her little boy. I was early, so I decided to get off the bus and take a walk. Not that there weren’t things to look at along the way……..

The Palazzo Dazzi, also known as Palazzo Corradi Cervi, (below) was built on the site of existing buildings between 1794 and 1797 by the architect Domenico Cossetti, a student of Ennemond Alexandre Petitot , at the behest of the Marquis Gian Francesco Corradi Cervi, Captain of the militias of the Duke of Parma. In 1832 it was placed in the small courtyard the statue of ‘Innocence’, by the parmesan sculptor Tommaso Bandini , on a fountain with a marble fish tank. During the nineteenth century, the palace was bought by the Dazzi family, and now it’s a private residence.

The beautiful church dedicated to St. Anthony Abate (below). I already knew about this church, but I went inside for a few moments. (If you wanna know more, I already posted an entry about it here.)

There were lots of open wooden gates, like the one below….just to have a glimpse of the inside courtyards…….can you think of old chariots ready to leave?……

The Palazzo Marchi is a neoclassical building (below), built between 1770 and 1774 for the Marquis Scipione Grillo, duke of  Anguillara, a project by the architect and abbot Giovanni Furlani. In 1859 the building was sold to the Marchi family, that a few years later bought also the scenic Fountain di Proserpina , made ​​in the 20s of the eighteenth century by Giuliano Mozzani for the garden of the Palace of Colorno; it was placed in the back garden of the palace, but already in 1890 it was dismantled and sold to a Venetian antiques dealer, who in turn sold it abroad; broken and without drawings to testify the original arrangement, its pieces were divided into two groups to form two separate fountains, today positioned respectively in front of and behind the Waddesdon Manor castle in England . During World War II , the palace became the headquarters of the military command of the provincial Republican army Republican. In the following decades the Marchi family took care of the restoration of the entire building, part of which was intended for a public function: after being used for some years as the seat of the Institute for the Verdi Studies, between 2003 and 2009 the building housed the representative office of the Arturo Toscanini Foundation. 

I don’t know a thing about this palace below (a private residence) but I wish I would…..

Or why on this house wall they left the date….1721…but maybe it had to do with some renovation began in that year of the adjacent Church of St. Michael of the Arch

The church was called St. Michael of the Arch because it was probably built near the ‘ triumphal arch built in the third century by the Emperor Gallienus on the Via Aemilia . The building is cited for the first time in a document dated 8 February 1136 .St. Michael the Arch was consecrated by Pier Simone Brunetti, aid-bishop of Parma, on 29 May 1437 .

 

In 1514 the original building was knocked down to allow the road axis expansion; Giovanni Gozzadini, prothonotary apostolic and papal governor of Parma, ordered its reconstruction on the left side of the road coming into town, and commissioned the works to Giorgio da Erba, a local architech very active in town. From this church is the altarpiece depicting the Holy Family with Saints Michael, Bernardo degli Uberti and Angels of Giorgio Gandini del Grano , now kept in the Galleria Nazionale Di Parma .The church, united for a short time with the one of St. Sepulchre , was consacrated again as parish on 25 July 1814 .The facade was redesigned by architect Niccolò Bettoli in 1820 and the bell tower was raised in 1877. The church has one nave only, covered by umbrella vault . The frescoes in the lunettes that run along the walls were made ​​by Latino Barilli in 1924 .The altarpiece on the main altar, painted by Stanislao Campana in 1828, represents the Virgin with Saints Michael and Gemignano.

I was really starving when I finally met my friend for lunch…………

After a good coffee (and a lot of talking) we were ready for the second part of the day. We drove (on her car) till the Parma Fair to visit the annual “Merchants on Fair” a mix of antique, brocante and vintage…for all tastes and wallets….We got lost among so many things to see (so lucky her son, after a while, fell asleep….) and I have to admit, If it wasn’t for a bit of sanity left, I could have gone broke in a moment….

It was an intense day, but a funny, relaxing and good one!

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Our home away from home

Speaking of places we like so much and where we keep coming back, a name rise up from our hearts….Castellane, Provence region of France. First time we were there by chance, on the road to Camargue and we stayed at this hotel (a little bit expensive but it was just for one night). We immediately fell in love with this little village and we promised to be back soon….and we did, four more times…(photos taken over the years and already published – most of them – in previous posts).

The town of Castellane is a very old city located upstream of the Gorges du Verdon, at 724 meters above sea level.

The Roc, or Notre Dame overlooking the city is 184 meters above the city. The historical site has been occupied since the High Middle Ages. The site is accessed from the center of town behind the old Church of St. Andrew. The walk takes about 30 minutes, and it’s totally worth it! You can see it behind the Church of St. Victor. The old parish church of Saint-Victor-standing part of the thirteenth century and is a listed building. It is constructed in a similar manner and on the same plane as the Church of St. Andrew, the old town above the present town. It was the seat of a priory of the abbey of St. Victor in Marseilles. The apse is decorated with Lombard bands, each hoop is monolithic. Unusually for the region, it has a collateral novel revoûté the seventeenth century. The base of the tower date from 1445, but the summit was rebuilt in the eighteenth century. This work follows the damage done by Protestants in 1560. Its altar date from 1724. The choir is adorned with paintings, framed in wood, an Annunciation carved in high relief of gilded wood from the eighteenth century. The wooden furniture, the stalls, the pulpit and the lectern at the foot hexagonal form, in total, an interesting set of eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The furniture also includes a silver chalice of the early seventeenth century, whose foot is multilobed.

 

The Chapel of Our Lady of the Rock, belongs to the former Convent of Mercy. But the wall and the south facade only dates from the late twelfth century, having been shot in half during the wars of religion, and rebuilt in 1590. Crumbling in 1703, it was again rebuilt in the early eighteenth century and in 1860. A tent foliage and scrolls date from the Renaissance. The furniture includes a statue of the Virgin, in marble, of the sixteenth century and two paintings of St. Charles Borromeo and St. Francis and St. Jane de Chantal, classified for tables and frames gilded, bearing the arms of the Bishop of Senez Duchaîne and dated the seventeenth century. She has received numerous votive offerings dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including classics engraved plates (136 total), bridal bouquets (21 total), a given array after a vow to Our Lady, dating from 1757, a given array after the cholera epidemic in 1835, a table given by a released prisoner, dated 1875, thanks for a given table after a smallpox epidemic, dated 1870, a table, given by a person who escaped a shipwreck in 1896.

The second time we stayed at this other hotel, not bad but it’s located just on the main street and it’s a bit noisy….plus it hasn’t a closed garage for bikes, so for hubby it’s usually a big “no”…..

In the early ninth century, all the area around the current town of Castellane was inhabited by only 84 people. To protect themselves from invasions, inhabitants shifted to the top of the Rock which dominates the valley of the Verdon, and on the terraces below the Rock. Some vestiges of this site of Castellane, who was appointed in SINAC 813 (current place called Signal and Petra Castellana in 965) are still visible. For practical reasons, the people then settled at the foot of the Rock in the bottom of the valley. Gradually, three towns came into existence: the Rupes, on top of the Rock, soon entirely occupied by the castle (built in 977 by Pons-Arbaud and Aldebert); the Castrum, halfway up, on a larger site but easy to defend; the Burgum, current site, easily accessible and facilitating trade.

In 1189, Baron de Castellane Boniface III was attacked by his lord Alfonso I of Provence whom he refused to honor, and must forfeit. Another war broke out between the Baron and Count of Castellane in 1227. In 1262, Charles I of Anjou submittied Boniface VI of Castellane. In the thirteenth century, the family of Castellane lost possession of the city in favor of the Counts of Provence. To protect themselves from these attacks, in addition to the protections specific to the city, the Castellane lords built a series of fortified outposts: Demandolx, Chasteuil, Rougon, and perhaps Taloire.

The Black Plague reached Castellane in 1348, and was followed by a devastating flood of Verdon. In 1390, Raymond de Turenne ravaged the surrounding territory and the village of Taulanne, failed to take the city, but destroyed the wooden bridge over the Verdon River. The bridge was rebuilt with stones in mid ‘400, and since then that road was frequently used as a route between the site and the Mediterranean. It was in March 1815 that Napoleon crossed this bridge when returning from exile in Elba: hence the bridge and Castellane also form part of the popular Route Napoleon tourist route.

In the middle of the fifteenth century, the high village is completely abandoned in favor of that of the lowland site. Provence was attached to the Crown of France in 1483.

The most monumental fountain, in the main square, features a pyramid on which is carved a cross on a square compass, two chisels and a mallet, emblems of the Freemasons. At the top of the pyramid is a pedestal with a ball.

From our third visit here we have always stayed at this cozy hotel, well known by all the bikers crossing these roads….

What we like the most while there, is strolling around little alleys and looking for something interesting, and hubby usually is so good at finding little treasures….and we always come back home with some local goodies…

On the place de l’église, the Porte de l’Annonciade is the scene of the Fête du Pétardier every year. This is the celebration of an episode which took place long ago. In 1586, the Wars of Religion brought terror to France. The Baron of Allemagne and the Duc de Lesdiguières began to covet the little town, but they had not reckoned with the courage of an inhabitant of the village, Judith Andrau, who poured boiling water from the top of this gate on the Captain directing the operation. Castellane was once again freed from the claws of those who wanted it as theirs and the streets rang with the joy of victory. Ever since, the inhabitants of Castellane have celebrated their heroine’s courage every year on the Sunday closest to 31st January.

Let’s not forget we are in the Provence region, the land of lavande, and you can find plenty of that here….(and sunflowers too)

It’s been already three years since we were there last time, we have to plan the next trip….

 

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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October

It was a full and busy month, spent with family and friends ….the best way to have a great time!

A study client opened a new branch of his company and invited us for a “little” coffee break….

A night out with friends at the “Bandit” a nice bikers’ club with live music, that night the enterteinment was provided by a rock band we know very well…

Then it was P and M big day!!!

Every year my hometown hosts a french market, usually in december, this year it was in october and it was a “vintage” one…I bought some breton cookies and some bottles of cider..

We had the chance to celebrate the Oktoberfest at the German/Irish pub we like the most….

Thanks to my cousin L and his wife A, we discovered a new restaurant, not very near but really worth the trip!

Finally, our so long awaited visit to the Expo in Milan….an amazing experience….

Last sunday of the month it was dedicated to our favourite thing to do….drive our bikes!

We drove back home early, because mid afternoon we had another date….All the family gathered together for my cousin S. daughter A.’s christening….

And now….it’s up to you november….what will you bring?

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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