Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Auxerre - the river, canals, trains and an otter

Lillian :  Auxerre is on the river Yonne.         
Audrey :  The Cathedral and le pont Paul Bert (that's the bridge).
Lillian :  The Yonne is very peaceful with parks along the sides and lots of boats & barges.  

Audrey : We thought that perhaps we could stow-away on one of the boats - but we were discovered!
Lillian : In the shallows, there were so many little fish that in this photo they look like leaves.
Audrey : There were also lots of ducks and some big swans that you could ride on ...
Swan boat in need of repairs!

Lillian :  We went walking over the other side of the river - found a floor mill, the Moulin du Batardeau.
Audrey :  And I think we found where the pointillist artist Paul Signac was standing when he painted this in 1902.

Lillian :  Then while we were admiring that lovely view our Tour Manager spotted an otter!

 Audrey :  We didn't believe it at first but yes - it was an otter here is a close up

 Lillian :  A Common or River Otter (Lutra lutra) - swimming very fast across the river to a little island.
Lock almost full - the level of the canal
Audrey : All quite near where the Canal du Nivernais joins the Yonne.  There is a lock and they were busy.

Lock emptied - the river level

Lillian :  The Lock-Keeper's dog was over-seeing all the operations.

Audrey : The Lock-Keeper obviously has dollies and they live in a lovely doll-sized moulin of their own. 

Lillian :  Now this little building looks a bit like a windmill but it was probably a guardhouse.

Audrey : We had a little rest on the steps - our feet were tired and we'd been carrying a big cake box!
Lillian : Yes, our lovely day in Auxerre was nearly at an end - time to make our way back to the train station.

Audrey : That wasn't our train -

This was our train.

It was very fast - 
Audrey :  We were back in Avallon in a flash and those cakes were worth the carrying about.

Lillian :  A Flan Natur and a religieuse au chocolat.

Audrey :  That is a funny name - religieuse is French for a nun & a nun in a brown habit would probably be a Carmelite.

Lillian :  These yummy cakes are 2 choux pastries filled, put together & iced.  It doesn't really look like a nun - I think it looks more like a monk. 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Auxerre - the Église Saint-Eusèbe

Lillian :  In this post we'll look at another lovely church - the exterior of the Église Saint-Eusèbe in Auxerre was under renovation when we saw it last April.

Audrey :  The front facade is rather 'wedding cake' and gothic.


Lillian : This church has been built and re-built over the centuries and so there are a variety of styles.  Most of what we saw of the exterior looked, to our untrained eyes, quite gothic.

Audrey :  But we're Blythe dolls - we have 4pairs of eyes each, are they all untwained?

Sign on the Church - lots of building & re-building over the years

Lillian : Oh Audrey, it's a figure of speech - we are untrained in historical architecture.  But here are some links to other web sites if people would like to do further research -
Mapping Gothic France  &
this site is in French

Audrey :  A close-up of a putti and other ornateness.  Let's go inside the church now.

Lillian :  As you step inside the entrance has gothic cruciform pillars then the main parts are Romanesque - lofty, light and lovely. 
White stone, sunshine streaming through all the windows, lots of vertical lines. 


Audrey : We saw vaulting like this at the Cathédrale Saint-Étienne - cross vaults or groin vaults.
Lillian : This is down the nave and the last section is more decorated just like in the Cathedral.

Audrey : The chevet or apse was built in the 1530s and is Late Gothic.  Amazing vaulting, a statue of Mary with Baby in the centre and splendid stained glass windows all around.

Lillian :  These windows were renovated in 1967 - click on the picture to enlarge & see some of the detail.  The pair of windows on the left illustrates the Apocalypse, the next two - the Passion of Christ with the Last Supper, then the Resurrection and the pair to the right that you can't really see in this picture show the story of Solomon and Absalom.
Audrey :  There were other stained glass 'story' windows too - and I was surprised to see this picture in a church!

Lillian :  Umm one of the stories about Joseph, son of Jacob and the Joseph of the technicolour coat.

Audrey :  Looks like Joseph had a lot of trouble keeping his clothes!

Lillian :  Well, that window depicts the story of Potiphar's wife ... here is a Wikipedia article

 This is another part of the Joseph window - and here Joseph's half brothers are selling the young Joseph (who is without his technicolour coat) to the Ishmailite traders (wearing turbans & gorgeously coloured robes) - their camels are in the background. 

Audrey :  With two humps - Bactrian camels.  Those panels of stained glass have a short version of the stories written on fancy scrolls, in French.  Also, in the bottom RH corner this window is signed "Execute Sur la Garton-De Gaussen".

Lillian :   This beautiful window was in one of the chapels or bays down the side of the church. 
Audrey :   A lovely chandelier too - but what gorgeous blue and yellow glass!

Lillian :  Wouldn't that make a lovely fabric?  For curtains or ...
Audrey :  In silk taffeta it would make a really nice sun-dress - 1950's style with a great big skirt & matching bolero.

Lillian : Umm well, the central pictures show the Annunciation (on the left) and the birth of John the Baptist, patron of the Order of Malta - hence the Maltese crosses underneath.

Audrey :  Our stylist likes all the detail of the clothing in these pictures, especially the head-wear ... the young lady in the fore-ground is not about to lose her head scarf, it is tied on around her head & over then under her chin.


Lillian :  Well, enough lovely stained glass perhaps?

We also saw this gilded reliquary.

Audrey :  It is very pretty but we did not look inside - too spooky!

Lillian :  It houses relics of Saint Germanus of Auxerre.

Audrey :  Ok, but this is was not a Church of St Germanus - it is the Église Saint-Eusèbe and that is a funny name so we've looked him up - St Eusebius of Vercelli was born in 283 and became the first Bishop of Vercelli.

Lillian : Before we go back outside let's look back towards the entrance - remember those cruciform pillars?  Over that entrance - almost a narthex - is the pipe organ.  

 Audrey :  Outside again - we had a quick look for gargoyles.  Only found one, but we were in a hurry.

Audrey :  It is an excellent Gargoyle - bat-winged, dog nosed and donkey eared.

Lillian :  And after a little game of hide & seek amongst the pillars we walked to the river Yonne - those photos in our next post.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Auxerre - The Half Timbered Buildings

Audrey :  The old parts of Auxerre are full of wonderful Half-Timbered houses.  In England these are called Tudor style and they are usually painted black&white.  The French call them pan de bois or colombage and they use all sorts of colour-schemes though a soft apricot or creamy colour with dark brown is the most common.

Colombage building with Corbels


Lillian : Ah - notice the Corbels - nice heavy pieces of wood extending past the walls of the ground floor & supporting the slightly larger rooms upstairs.

Audrey : That's a clever way to get the most out of your real estate!
Lillian :  Apparently Corbel structures are quite traditional in the Burgogne (Burgundy) region. 

Lillian :  The combination of corbelling, sweet colour schemes and the generally higgledy piggledy nature of the buildings, often on narrow, curving lanes - it all creates really delightful streetscapes.

Half timbered shops going round a slight corner
Audrey :  You can see just how the building was made and those exposed timbers make lovely patterns - this is my favourite - kisses all over!


Audrey : And these look like knitting or perhaps fish-bones.

Lillian :  That was in the central square - and let's look more closely at the statue in front of those shops.

 Audrey :  Lovely outfit!  He is holding a bird aloft and there are cats at his feet - who is this flamboyant chap?
Lillian : He is Cadet Rousselle - you can read more about him here & here in French.   Guillaume Rousselle was an actual person who lived in Auxerre, but thanks to a very popular satirical song written in 1792 - Cadet Rousselle has become something of a story-book character.   

  Audrey : Another view from the central square - that was the cafe where we had ice-creams.

 Lillian :  Let's see more half-timbered buildings. 


Audrey :  This one looks like it is being squeezed by the somewhat more modern buildings to either side!


Lillian :  Often the ground level was made of stone and only the upper levels are the lighter construction of timber and cob. 

Audrey :  Another knitting / fish-bone patterned building but it is rather different - it has bricks between the timbers.   

 Lillian :  It also has a classic Mansard Roof.


Audrey : Here is a particularly neat looking colombage

 And at the opposite extreme - wonderfully higgledy piggledy.

Lillian :  Two styles of architecture - a newly restored half-timbered and corbelled house under the 
Cathédrale Saint-Étienne d'Auxerre.

Audrey : We'll leave this post with another wonderful street-scape from Auxerre.  In our next we'll be visiting a fabulous old church, the Église Saint-Eusèbe.