Views and Food

I met a friend up on Montmartre for breakfast one day at a place called the Hardware Société, owned and run by Australians from Melbourne. It was really good.

It was right around the corner and down a hill a bit from Sacre Coeur.

Where there was a very good harp player with speakers and taped background music.

The nice interior.

Beautiful and delicious french toast. I had yummy scrambled eggs.

I sat next to the window.

We had a beautiful day.

Isn’t this something? I saw it on Instagram and wondered how in the world they did it. I was standing below Sacre Couer and looked to my right and recognised the building, took the photo and then turned it so the hill looked flat. An optical illusion of sorts.

 

A Bit About Nantes

As I said in an earlier post, I knew nothing about Nantes except its name on a highway sign. Like many places in France, it turned out to have a beautiful old section with pedestrian zones and very little traffic. You have to have a code to get your car into the area. Some of Nantes was destroyed by bombing in WWII but it has been beautifully restored. It was delightful to walk around.

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This beautiful passage, an early mall, was built in 1894. It’s recently been restored and is just lovely.

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We passed this beautiful church while walking.

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This fitting angel mosaic graffiti was on the side of the church.

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A butcher shop had these delightful animals on the outside all with wigs.

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This was above a barber shop, the type that puts zig-zags onto the closely shaven heads of men. Made me laugh.

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Inside the beautiful Nantes Cathedral. This was on the tomb of the Duke of Brittany and his wife, the parents of Ann of Brittany who is highly regarded there. She was central to getting Brittany joined with France back in the 1400’s.

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The theater on the gorgeous Place Graslin.

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Look how lovely the lights are at night.

Conques

We passed many villages with intersting churches that were stops on the Camino but we stayed in Conques. We weren’t on the freeway but a little curvy road that started out being charming but after a day of driving on it, I was really tired. Conques was the next village so we called and made a reservation at a hotel there, the Sainte Foy. We were lucky enough to get a really great view of the cathedral there. It’s a very small viallage with just one main street with a couple of others braching out from it and it is closed to cars, a little place forgotten in time but rediscovered by tourists and a stop for pilgrims on their trek.

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The view of the cathedral from our room on the second floor.

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The entrance to the cathedral below street level.

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I loved the slate roofs there.

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The terrace for breakfast in the hotel.

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The hotel was full of antiques including two really old radiators with doors on them with shelves inside for keeping food warm or maybe dring out shoes and gloves? I’m not sure.

The Unexpected

So we left Annecy and headed back across France towards the Atlantic coast. I was driving sometime in the evening and told Maurice I was exhausted and saw that the next place was a city called le Puy de Velay and asked Maurice to use Google (what did we do before Google and our portable phones?) and see if they had hotels there. Indeed, they did so we took the exit and saw a cathedral on top of a hill as well as a chapel on another little hill and a giant figure of Mary on yet another-it turned out to be an old volcanic area. The name le Puy sounded familiar to me and I soon found that this area was home of the famous green lentils with their own AOC label and very famous in France for their taste-it’s that volcanic soil. It turned out that le Puy had a very long religious history and that it is the starting place for the Camino de Santiago de Compestela, an ancient route across France going into Spain to the tomb of Saint James. In fact, Maurice wants to try it next year, at least the part in France. Maybe someday we will make it all the way. We saw a lot of people with back packs around the city and beyond in this area.

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Seen on a building near the cathedral.

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The steps , and there were many, going up to the cathedral where there even more steps. That is quite a hill.

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This is the starting place of the Camino. The night before I read that there was a mass for the people starting the walk but it started at 7am so I thought I wouldn’t see it, however, I woke up really early, so early that I had to wait for the sun to rise to set off and I made it to hear the mass with about 200 walkers. I liked seeing their bags in the aisle.

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A sign marking the start.

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All of the streets and alleys in the old section of the city were paved with either plain rocks or with these nice black and white stones.

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The cathedral has two black Madonnas which are said to cause miracles and have roots in the deep relious past of Goddess worship.

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Statue of Saint James. His symbol is the half shell and you see it in many places welcoming the pilgrims to hostels and the like.

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This huge statue of Mary was outside the cathedral up even more steps. It was made of melted down Russian cannons captured during the Prussian war.

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Next door was a chapel with this fantastic ceiling. The whole place was very baroque in decorations.
So, who knows what you can find by making an unscheduled stop? This turned out to be a most fascinating city.

Chartres

While my son and his family were here, we made a trip out to Chartres, the famous cathedral of stained glass. It was, as always, fabulous but the weather was so horrible with heavy rain and then wind gusts that we only saw the interior of the cathedral, had some hot chocolate and then staggered, into the wind, back to the car.


The front. It was as famous as Lourdes in its day.


By the door as we entered.


This beautiful area is to the right as you enter the church.


Newly renovated, the windows over the door. They are slowly cleaning and renovated the interior of the church.


A dressed statue of the Virgin Mary.


The famous labyrinth on the floor of the church that some people use as a spiritual exercise.

Reims Cathedral

While we were in the Champagne region we made a quick detour to Reims to see the Cathedral there. It was called the Coronation Cathedral because all but two of the French kings were crowned there by the bishop. Joan of Arc led Charles the VII there to be crowned in 1429-she had a vision that he had to do so. The Cathedral was very badly damaged in WWII and is being restored.


A look as you approach.


A statue of Joan of Arc outside.


And inside. It is said that this is what she looked like.


There are windows there by Chagalle.


And the famous smiling angel has to be seen.