Friday, 7 February 2014



Saint-Catherine's Church, Honfleur

This very unusual wooden church which was built on the model of a market hall using naval construction techniques where saws were not used. It partly resembles an upside down ship's hull.  
It has a completely separate bell tower
The bell tower is some distance from the church


Wikipedia tells us :

The church is dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria as evidenced by a wooden sculpture above the porch of the bell tower which separates the two naves. She is shown holding a wheel and a sword. The first nave is the oldest part of the building, dating to the second half of the 15th century, constructed right after the Hundred Years War. It was built on the model of a market hall, using naval construction techniques, which gives the impression of an upside-down ship's hull. Then the bell tower was built a good distance away, so that parishioners would not be burnt in case of a fire. Indeed, the bell tower did draw lightning strikes due to its height and its position on the side of a hill. In the 16th century, a second nave was added, whose vault was like the wooden vaults of modest Gothic churches. This second part was rather rounder, and did not look like a ship's hull. Later, supplementary bays were added to both naves.
The famous "Axe masters" of the naval yards of the city created this lovely building without using any saws, just like their Norman ancestors (who can be seen in action in the Bayeux tapestry), and like the Vikings before them.
The beams used to create the pillars of the nave and the side walls are of unequal length, because there were not anymore any oak trees long enough to construct them. Also, some have a footing of stone, some of greater or lesser height, and some have no footing.
The bays for the choir, redone in the 19th century, are of rather mediocre quality, and the roof above is higher than those of the older parts.
The church is partially covered in chestnut shingles, which are called "essentes" in the local dialect.
The neo-Norman porch was built following the model of rural Normandy churches at the beginning of the 20th century, and replaced a monumental doorway in neo-classical style from the previous century (which can be seen in certain canvases by Jongkind or Boudin. The doorway itself was in Renaissance style.
It is worth noting that the classical organ comes from the parish St. Vincent of Rouen, and the Renaissance balcony is decorated with musicians. Stained glass from the 19th century decorates the windows of the east choir.
The building lacks a transept and the lateral walls of the chapels are uniquely adorned by statues of recent saints, including two local ones: saint Marcouf et sainte Thérèse de Lisieux.


The Night Watchman

The delightful little town of Turckheim in the Alsace Region is probably most well known for its surrounding medieval wall which  has three doors, or gateways, The Munster Door, which opens into the Munster Valley; The Door of the Brand, which begins the Route des Vins; and the Door of France, through which lies the railway station and the roads to Colmar.

A popular feature of Turckheim is the Night Watchman. The traditionally dressed Turckheim native, cloaked in black and carrying a halberd and lamp makes the rounds at 22.00 (10pm) each night from May to October, keeping alive an ancient tradition. "Take care of the fireplace and the candle" is his advice because the main part of the watchman's duty was to guard against risks of fire. As he patrols the protected village, he sings a number of Alsatian favourite songs and is often accompanied by a group of tourists.


Another feature of the town is the stork's nest on top of one of the gateways

These protected nests are a feature of many towns in this region.

Stork's nest at Ribeauville


The boat lift


The Canal of Neuffossé runs through the town of Arques in Northern France and connects the River’s Aa and Lys.
The canal once required a crossing of five locks with a lift of 13.13metres, but in 1888 a huge canal lift was constructed at Arques,  ‘L’Ascenseur á Bateaux des Fontinettes’.  Two compartments within the construction, large enough to accommodate a barge in each, were filled with water and two huge pistons acted as a kind of hydraulic scales.  As one compartment lifted so the other was pushed down.   This tourist attraction which can be visited, was replaced by the new lock in 1967.

Open air concert


Open air theatres are not common in France and one wonders why a piano would be placed on a roundabout in the little town of Charmes near Nancy in eastern France.


The Elephant

Another colourful display at Le Portal

An early caravan ?
Seen in the lovely Alsace town of Riquehr

La Roque-Saint-Christophe

A gigantic cliff face at the side of the River Verzere near the lovely village of Le Moustier in the Dordogne Region is the home of an entire troglodyte cave village five levels high carved into the cliff face. Now a World Heritage Site it was inhabited continuously from 50,000 years ago until just a few centuries ago. 1km in length this is the largest settlement of it type in Europe


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