A curious pointed tower can be seen in the
graveyard behind the church at Sarlat in the Dordogne
region of France.It is called Lanterne des Morts, or Lantern
of the Dead.It was erected in the twelfth
century to commemorate a miracle performed by St Bernard when he preached in
Sarlat in 1147.When he blessed bread
presented to him he said that any sick person who ate the bread would begin to
recover and it is said that the miracle happened.
Despite its name, no one is certain what its
purpose was although there was an ossuary under the tower with a chapel above.
An out of place
brick structure attached to the tower
of St Martin’s Church in
the medieval town of St Valery
sur Somme served two purposes.The upper part containeda tank to collect rainwater from the church
roof.The bottom part housed, free of
charge, a widow who was employed to sell the water to needy parishioners.
Meanwhile at Calais a
similar system was employed by Louis X1V in 1691 when he ordered the
construction of a reservoir to hold some 400,000 gallons of water.It was built against the north side of the
cathedral of Notre Dame in order to receive rainwater from the church
roof.It was for the use of the garrison
and the population in times of drought.With walls up to 2 metres thick to withstand attack, it was in use until
the middle of the 19th century.
cheese town of Vimoutiers
was destroyed by US Marauder bombers in 20 minutes on 14th June 1944 during the
WW2 invasion of Normandy.A few hours later many refugees turned up at
Blondeau Farm some 1.5km from the town centre.The farm had survived the bombardments and the farmer and his family
soon had a meal ready for all comers.They had boiled a nourishing stew in a huge cauldron formerly use for
washing clothes and preparing pig swill.The farm was to continue this offering for some three months and became
the salvation of the refugees.
actual cauldron is preserved for eternity as a showpiece
in the centre of
the French revolution, farmer’s wife Marie Harel sheltered a priest from Brie
at the family farm in Camembert (pop. 185).
priest showed her how to improve her cheese making and Mme Harel sold some of
her cheese at the local market.It
became so popular and before long the same recipe was used by all and sundry
and the soft Camembert cheese became a popular household food throughout France.
Statue of Marie Harel in Camembert
William The Conqueror was also know as William The Bastard, and not because of
his bad temper and ruthlessness, but because his father and mother were not
William's statue at Falaise
father was indeed the powerful Duke of Normandy and the story goes that he was
bewitched by a young girl whom he saw washing clothes at the well beneath the
walls of his mighty castle in Falaise. Arletta was
the daughter of a local tanner and despite her lowly status, she became
The Washing Well
The meeting of the Duke and Arletta
in Northern Brittany is an area of many huge
rock formations.Alongside The Bay of
St Guirec near Ploumanach a huge rock can be seen-it
is known locally as ‘Napoleon’s helmet’.
Another rock at Ploumanach
Another rock at Ploumanach
The little town of Ste-Mère-Eglise in Normandy is close to UtahBeach,
where American forces landed on 6th
June, 1944 during the invasion of Normandy in World War 11.Airborne troops were used to secure inland
positions and amongst the 13,000 men,Paratrooper John Steele dropped from the sky near the Ste-Mère-Eglise
and gained lasting fame when he actually landed on the church.Steele’s parachute got caught on the parapet
of the church tower and he hung there helplessly feigning death before he was
eventually taken prisoner.A dummy
paratrooper still hangs from the church tower to this day.
The event is also commemorated in stained glass inside the church
The first stone marker on the Liberty Highway through France can also be seen close to this church