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Showing posts from July, 2018

Stained Glass

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I had been seeing so much "stained glass" in churches and cathedrals, that I was very pleased to learn there was a Musée du Vitrail  (Museum of Stained Glass -- "vitraux" are stained glass, plural, as in stained glass windows) in the Poitou region town of Cuzay-sur-Vonne, a whisper of a village in the western part of the Vienne department.


Two aspects of the museum particularly interested me:  1)  the display of contemporary colored glass, in addition to descriptions of how it's made (both blown and flat), and its history, particularly in religious settings; and 2) an on-site, resident artisan who showed me step-by-step how a stained glass window is made.  My idea of a great time:  indulging my senses while learning.  Photos and explanation follow.

First, some of the contemporary work exhibited:











Now for the process:  I don't know enough about it (and it was explained to me by the artist, Pierre, in French) to be absolutely correct, but you'll get the ge…

With Eleanor of Aquitaine in Poitiers

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Eleanor (Aliénor) of Aquitaine, 12 C France, was arguably the most powerful woman of the Middle Ages. Enormously wealthy, she had inherited the Aquitaine -- a huge region NOT part of what was then a very small France -- when she was 14, when her brother died. Poitiers was and still is, the main city of the region, and I visited it July 19-20, 2018.

Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, became Queen of France by virtue of her first marriage in 1137 to Louis VII, and brought all her lands to that marriage. She had two daughters (whom she never really knew) with Louis, participated with him in the Crusades, and then had the marriage annulled by the Pope 15 years later, uncommonly keeping her lands. Although she had many residences, she always considered Poitiers "home", and when there she lived in the family château, built by her grandfather (the original "troubadour", Guillaume IX) -- the spectacular Palais des Comtes de Poitou-ducs dÁquitaine (Palace of Poitou counts…

Destination: Bourges

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The XII and XIII c. Cathédrale St Étienne in Bourges is a marvel, a UNESCO World Heritage Monument, and a symbol of Bourges' rich medieval history.  But the town itself goes back even further, to when it was known as Avaricum, and played a significant role in 50 BCE during the Gallic Wars.  Even then, it was known as one of the loveliest towns in Gaul.

Definitely worth a visit, and only an hour-plus from me -- if you don't take into consideration having to slow down and indeed occasionally stop for truck traffic and a "convoi exceptionnel" (unusual convoy), such as this:


My route in the traditional, cultural region of "the Berry" (a majorly disputed area between France and England during Eleanor of Aquitaine's day -- 12th C),took me out of the Indre département of the Centre-Val de la Loire region, into the (river) Cher départment.

First stop of note along the way, the charming town of St. Florent-sur-Cher, with its Roman bridge and exquisite Hôtel de …