Montreuil-sur-Mer, Pas-de-Calais – August 2014

In 1837 Victor Hugo stopped for lunch in Montreuil-sur-Mer. He came away with a bad case of indigestion, and memories of a lovely afternoon, that he called on twenty five years later when he wrote ‘Les Misérables’.

We had a lovely morning there, no indigestion, and who knows, in twenty five years I may write a novel.

Like at Rye, there’s been a build up of silt, and Montreuil is no longer sur-Mer.

Victor Hugo wasn’t the only visitor, Lawrence Sterne visited the town, and saw it through the eyes of his narrator in ‘A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy’.

Montreuil was the head quarters of the British Army during the WWI. The war cemetery at nearby Étaples contains 10,771 Commonwealth war graves.

It’s a lovely place to wander round…I was taken by this double decker organ…

…a mini-Villandry window box…

…a pig that’s all together too happy to be in a pork butcher…

…and a friendly cat.

Vauban built the ramparts in the 17th C, and they’re a lovely walk.

It appears that the town is home to some giant rabbits!

Le Touquet-Paris-Plage – August 2014

It maybe because it was the end of our holiday, and I was ready to go home, but I didn’t really take to Le Touquet. It might have been because we’d come from rural Burgundy to a town full of people, and an odd mix of glitz and ‘Kiss Me Quick’. It does have a beautiful beach…

…some gorgeous dunes…

…with feral cat colony.

Speaking of cats…

… it also has a wonderful chocolate shop.

I’d say this was something for Christopher Stockdale, but he wouldn’t eat a cute piggy!

Oh…and there’s golf.

Burgundy 2014 (Le Retour) – Auxerre

I few year ago we had a lovely day in Auxerre (according to the guidebook you pronounce it ‘Aus-air’. This caused incomprehension in locals. Oh, ‘OX-air they said). I’ve had a yearning to go back every since. Sadly, it was a horrid, grey day, and once it started raining we hightailed back home.

We had a look round the Abbey of Staint-Germain

…which has an amazing organ…

…which looks like it’s about to open fire on the congregation.

The XIth C crypt in the cathedral of St. Étienne houses the remains of the former Romanesque cathedral.

The paintings include is scene of Christ-Horseman…

…the rider ‘Faithful and True’…

…on a white horse (Apoc. 19:11-16).

Despite rushing through the rain, we had time to notice some little details. A wooden carving above a shop…

…the remains of a statue…

…and a very perplexing piece of signage.

Burgundy 2014 (Le Retour) – Alluy

About ten minutes up the road from Moulins-Englibert is the small hamlet of Alluy. The church has a XIIIth C crypt…

…with amazing wall paintings…

…and baby capitals!

The paintings seemed to have walked off a medieval manuscript.

The paintings were restored in 1979…

…and look very good.

Sadly, I don’t think they hold any services crypt. It’s tiny…

…but I think it would be wonderful to take part in a mass there.

Next time we’re in Burgundy, I’ll make sure we take the Boy.

Burgundy 2014 (Le Retour) – Mont-Saint-Vincent

After our inadvertent detour we made it to the hilltop town of Mont-Saint-Vincent.

It’s a beautiful, little place…

…and the main attraction is the Cluniac church…

…built in the late 11thC and early 12thC.

…which lost its steeple during the French revolution.

The Cluniac monks left the church in 1506…

…after having a community there for over 500 years.

There were more of my favourite capitals.

It was nice to wander around the village…

…there were lots of lovely little details…

…including door furniture…

…hanging signs…

…chickens…

…and doves.

Burgundy 2014 (Le Retour) – Gourdon

We decided to take a trip to the beautiful chapel at Berzé-la-Ville. On the way, we noticed that the church at Mont-Saint-Vincent, was marked with two stars on the Michelin map. On the spur of the moment, we decided to take a detour to look at it. We turned off the road to early, and discovered an absolute jewel of an Romanesque church in Gourdon.

We realised that the church must be worth looking at when we saw signs for a coach park.

We wandered around in silence…

…staring in wonder at the wonderful paintings.

It just shows how many wonderful churches there are in this part of the world, the Gourdon wasn’t marked as an attraction on the map.

I thought the chaps at the back were rather fun.

I assume that they’re bishops…

…the hats were especially good.

The remains of this painting seemed to be slightly newer.

However, my favourite, as ever, were the capitals.

These weren’t the most sophisticated we’ve seen…

…but they had a real strength.

Burgundy 2014 (Le Retour) – Bourges

Another new place for us this trip, was to Bourges, out of the Nièvre into the Cher…

…it’s twined with Peterborough, who have the best of it methinks.

I loved this sundial…

…I wasn’t quite sure how to read it.

The cathedral is very impressive…

…it’s the earliest example of High Gothic in the 13th C.

The main phase of construction was contemporaneous with Chartes.

I loved all the intricate details…

…especially this wooden door.

There was vaulting…

nice doorways…

…and lovely, lovely stained glass.

This hell mouth was rather fun…

…and I loved these jaunty devils.

The astronomical clock was restored with funds provided by EDF…

 …when André was on the donations committee.

This is the door to the Sacristy.

Sadly, the Boy wasn’t feeling very well, so we didn’t have much more time in the city. However, we did see this lovely post office.

That’s more like it, isn’t it Virginia?