Sunday, 17 November 2013

La Rochelle - Part 4

I have made this post a little longer than usual, so as to wrap up the La Rochelle posts before completing the holiday break blog with Part 5 - the day trip to Île de Ré.

About 16 km (10 miles) north of where we were in Part 2, the villages of Maillé and Maillezais  sit close together on an island in the surrounding marsh. Believed to be smaller until 1000 or so years ago,  this island of firm ground was enlarged by monks from the nearby abbey, who dug canals to drain the wetland and make their settlement more accessible.

First, we visited the generously proportioned church in Maillezais, dedicated to St Nicholas; he is the patron saint of watermen, so the dedication is very appropriate! This very solid roman-style edifice was built in the 12th century, but added to and greatly altered over the following centuries, such that a lot of its original design has been lost. It was badly damaged during the wars of religion in the 16th century and at another point in history, the building is said to have been used for the production of saltpetre! More rebuilding has taken place in the last 200 years.



The arches, above and below, are beautifully decorated with carvings of gymnasts and acrobats, violin players, demonic monsters, jugglers and geometric figures, all conjured up no doubt from the stonemasons' imaginations!


So much work and decorative carving!! It can often take one stonemason up to a week just to carve an elaborate single stone, let alone hoist it and set it in position!

 Most French villages of any size have a memorial to the Great  Wars, and Maillezais is no exception.  More fine carving!

 The abbey of Maillezais, founded at the beginning of the 11th century, fell into disrepair in the 17th century and was mostly demolished by an owner in the 19th. After that, it came into the hands of more responsible parties and was declared a national monument in 1923. The remains have now been preserved  and the site opened to the public.

One for the French car fans! I didn't get to see the radiator badge, but I would guess it's a Citroen from the 1930's?



There is still evidence of magnificent stone facades, built on the grandest scale!

We moved on to the neighbouring village of Maillé. Above is a view of the church. German forces occupied the town during WW2 and the French Resistance was also secretly based there during 1944. On 25 August of that year, it is thought to have been the Gestapo who led the reprisals for attacks made on German troops by the Resistance and they murdered 124 civilians, about 25% of the population. The town was also badly damaged by  shelling from anti-aircraft guns and set afire during this same episode, but, unlike the village of Oradour-sur-Glane further east which was abandoned after a similar massacre, the local people  decided to rebuild the village exactly as it was before the war.

There isn't much information to be found about this church, but it can be seen that it is built in the same Romanesque style as Saint Nicholas in Maillezais. The interiors are, however, quite different, but this may be because of the rectification of the wartime damage.

Beautiful carvings on the main entrance archway, but suffering now from the effects of air pollution!

Above and below, spectacular interiors and stained glass, beautifully restored and maintained!



Back in La Rochelle later in the day, we saw this old WW2 armoured vehicle, a still-visible reminder of the area's turbulent wartime  history.

The old port at La Rochelle, with its very busy night market attracting plenty of visitors and locals alike.

 We watched this break dancing for a bit; the dancers were excellent and seemed to work hard for the money  donated by the audience!

and finally, off to dinner at Le Thiers Temps restaurant; small, intimate, exclusive, and fully booked, as the restaurant is very highly rated by a popular travel website! In the 90 minutes we were there, we saw no fewer than 6 prospective dining parties turned away. Imperative to to reserve your seats!!
All extremely artistic, but there wasn't a lot of food in these "main courses", so we had to fill up with bread!

46 comments:

  1. what a wonderful place! i love that car!

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    1. Thanks Jaz and that car was pretty neat :-) Have a good week. Diane

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  2. This looks like a fabulous place to visit. I love the port area. So inviting and beautiful at night. The historic buildings you feature are lovely. I really love all the art in the church in the bottom pics. All in all, it looks like a very nice place for a visit.

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    1. Joyful the buildings in that area are amazing, I would like to return someday and take a bit longer looking around. I hope you have a good week Diane

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  3. Some fabulous photos here, Diane! The restored painting behind the altar is just magnificent!

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    1. Hi Colin and Elizabeth that painting behind the alter was amazing, it was sort of 3D with a skylight behind the cloud. I just wish had of had more time. I would love to return but there is still so much of France I want to see!! Keep well and have a good week. diane

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  4. Have loved your post re La Rochelle, not been there ... yet, though I feel I have now. Thank you for sharing and great photos of the town and surrounding areas. xx

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    1. Hi Karen, glad that you ave enjoyed the 'visit' to La Rochelle, I hope that all is well with you, Have a great week Diane

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  5. I particularly liked the photograph with the children - took me back to the fifties with the clothes and the pose!
    The presentation of the food looks spectacular - but in quantity it seems to be the equivalent of one of the grumps of a good trencherman friend of ours who referred to cocktail canapes as 'Society sandwiches, six to a gobful'....

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    1. Fly I do not often take photos with children having non of my own but I also liked that particular shot.
      They must have spent hours on the food with the artistic touch, we had all 3 courses and still the bread was a necessity :-) We had been out all day hopping from place to place and we really need a good meal to up the energy for the next day. It was spectacular to look at but.... Hope that you both are well, enjoy your week Diane

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  6. I am astounded by the size of these ancient buildings and all the fine detail. They probably took years to build and rebuild. Love seeing life on the streets, and dinner looks pretty but small.

    Hope you have finished canning from the garden.

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    1. Gaelyn I have had a break from canning, but now the medlar tree is dropping its fruit so I start all over again!!! I have limited time now though as at the end of the month we are off to spend December with N's Dad of 92 in the UK.

      The old buildings never cease to amaze me, how they managed to build some of them without the equipment that we have today is a mystery. For all that they are far better built than the modern buildings and have stood the test of time standing for, in some cases, for many 100's of years. Yes dinner was delicious but it was too small for us!! Have a good week Diane

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  7. I love the old port at night. So full of life and the food looks fabulous too. Every time I visit your blog, I can't get over how ancient these villages are. When you think about it, it boggles the mind to look at something from the 12th century.
    Sam

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    1. Sam the old buildings are amazing and so many of them are still in pretty good condition.You have to see them though to appreciate them properly. Have a good week, Diane

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  8. More excellent photos - love seeing the architecture & stained glass. The breakdancing photo is awesome too!

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    1. Thanks Pam for the comment, the break-dancing was awesome to watch, the speed in which they moved was amazing. Take care Diane

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  9. My goodness, I love that old architecture. The art, the history... It totally gets me. Unfortunately, what lives in those old walls gets my nose, so my visits are best at a distance. Loved the pictures!

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    1. Hi Crystal, thanks for the visit and comment, much appreciated. Glad I could show you some of the old architecture without having to get close :-) Hope you have had a good day. Diane

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  10. I always love following along on your travel adventures. I get so many ideas for the next time we are in France. Thank you, Karen

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    1. Karen there is just so much to see in France, the more we see the more we want to go further! Glad that I am giving you some ideas. Have a good week Diane

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  11. Super pics with clear definition showing the detail. I also like the restored painting.

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    1. Gaynor that painting at the back was amazing and the light shining through the clouds was fantastic. Hope that all is well with you, take care Diane

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  12. Diane, all your photos are great as usual! I love the architecture, churches, stained glass. Beautiful! The old port with the market at night looks inviting. Thanks for the tour!

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    1. Pam thanks for the comment as always. Glad that you enjoyed this post. Hope that you are both well, Diane

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  13. Hi Diane .. loved the Church of St Nicholas ... it looks amazing and that stone work - the stonemasons of yore were incredible visualisers and artists. The Abbey too - I'm so pleased they preserved it ... and also have reminders of WW2 ... there was so much going on in that part of France.

    La Rochelle looks amazing .. and the weather you had looks just brilliant .. bright and sunny ... while your dinner looks yummy - but I can see they were sparsish helpings! Looks delicious though ...

    I'd love to follow in your footsteps one day with this tour .. great photos too ... thankfully the sun is shining today! Cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary maybe one day you will be in this direction, there is just so much to see over here. We still find places quite close to us that are so interesting. We think we have seen it all close by then suddenly we come across another new place. So many little villages with some sort of history attached. Hope that you are back to full health now. Diane

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  14. The place is a classic beauty! All the photos are beautiful but my favorite is the one with the children, very beautiful!

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    1. Rose I would have guessed that the one with the children might have been your favourite :-) Thanks for your visit. Have a good week, Diane

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  15. Very interesting read, Diane, but somehow felt disappointed that all I was having for supper was a plate of crisps which I was busy munching my way through just as I landed on those photos of your meal! I was alright about snacking on crisps up until that moment!

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    1. Ha ha Vera, sorry about that but you were probably fuller at the end of your crisps than we were at the end of our artistic meal!! Hope all is well down there, take care Diane

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  16. All the architecture is fantastic but the very old buiding on top is amazing! Look at those carvings and the signs of the time. WOW!

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    1. JM I am truly amazed how these old building have stood the test of time. Nothing built now I am sure will not be around in 100's of years! Have a good week Diane

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  17. La Rochelle is one of these towns that repay very careful exploration.
    Each stone is of interest, it seems.

    Ending up at a top class restaurant isn’t to be sneezed at either.

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    1. Friko I could spend a lot of time in that area, there is so much to see and masses of history. The restaurant was great, just the quantity was a bit small! Keep well Diane

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  18. I am in love with that car and the stone wall behind it. I also loved the slate plate in the restaurant and the way they plated the food. Another great tour of a place I didn't know about!

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    1. Deana that car is pretty cool I have to agree :-) That restaurant was exceptional in every way other than quantity! Have a good day Diane

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  19. Thanks for sharing your visit to La Rochelle, a place I have not been to up to now. Interesting to see how the air pollution is affecting the stone. Have a great day.

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    1. Michel thanks for the comment. It is quite sad how the stone suffers from air pollution mais c'set la vie. Have a good day Diane

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  20. Beautiful cathedral! I always admire your cathedral pictures; your attention to architectural detail satisfies my curiosity about those details. Astonishing dancer, fine old car, and I really liked the shot of the children admiring the ruins. It's great when you get a picture of people where they are not identifiable, but their attitudes are. La Rochelle looks wonderful. (There is a city in New York called New Rochelle, it must be named for this place.)

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    1. Marjie I am happy I take the right photos for you, we are both interested in architecture so maybe that is why :-) I have just looked up New Rochelle and you are right, definitely named after La Rochelle as it states 'The town was settled by refugee Huguenots in 1688 who were fleeing persecution in France'.. Have a good week. Diane

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  21. it's just amazing looking at the carve work done on the building..i also wonder how long they actually took time to complete everything..beautiful interiors of the church!

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    1. Thanks Lena for the comment, the carving is amazing on these churches, it is sad that it is mainly a work from the past. Take care Diane

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  22. Beautiful pictures. I especially like the stained glass windows!! Wishing you well!!!

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    1. Thanks Cathy for the visit and the comment. Glad you like the photos. Have a good day, Diane

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  23. Again, thanks for sharing. I enjoy your postings. Greetings from Stavanger /Norway.

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    1. Thanks Gunn, glad that you enjoy my posts despite me being a long way behind this year!! Diane

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