The ancient church of Saint-Gillis
Near the Abbay des Dames and it's Sainte-Trinity church, a ruin is situated in between the housing blocks of Caen. Gracefully old bows are still standing straight in their battle against the time. Centuries have passed, as this remains from the one of the oldest churches of Caen already was mentioned in the early 11th century. Saint-Gillis church even as a ruin is still a special place. Especially because it's green surroundings in a living neighbourhood of the town.
Saint-Étienne-le-Vieux was erected between the 13th and the 16th centuries and lasted for a long time until the bombs of World War II destroyed it. This photo shows what is left today of that wonderful church. However, don't miss the inside, that has been restorated and has a lot to offer.
The nave itself announces you that you are in a Gothic church. You can understand that from the high and large windows that let the Divine Light fall upon the believers, as well as from the cross vaults that have replaced the Romanesque barrel vaults.
As for the tomb portrayed in the last pictures, I don't know who it belongs to. Maybe our Norman or French friends could help!
Tour de France
"Friday, August 5th - France"
Gillian and I already knew what 48 hours would get us in London, our first city in a 3 country tour of Europe, where we had arrived 3 days before. After meeting up with my friend Ann in England we were on our journey to France. We enjoyed first class reclining seats on a high deck on Brittany Ferries en route to France, including sitting on the top deck in the sun, enjoying the warm weather and sea breeze. We were ready to start our Tour de France, the second country on our mid-Summer agenda.
After boarding the ferry (http://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/) and departing from my friend Ann’s car in the cargo hold, we enjoyed a little downtime and solitude in our secluded seats as the four hour journey across the English Channel began. Reading, listening to music on the iPod, and napping consumed the first few hours of this part of our trip; but once we got so cold from the air conditioning we decided to head up on deck and catch some sun. It was refreshing to lie out on deck, and snooze while Roxy Music’s Avalon played in my ears.
Our first sighting of France included the fortified buildings in the Channel outside Cherbourg on the Contentin Peninsula in Normandy. Cherbourg is known for being part of the Battle of Normandy at the end of WWII in 1944. Allied troops landed there and isolated and captured the fortified port in three weeks as part of their plan to win the war in Western Europe. For more information on Cherbourg: http://www.ville-cherbourg.fr/uk/
Once off the ferry we quickly exited this port town and headed towards Paris, knowing we were going to stop along the way at some Chateau and stay the night. A few hours and several unsuccessful attempts later we found ourselves in Caen, a 150,000 person city in Normandy, 10 kilometers from Cherbourg and about 2 hours from Paris. Caen is known as the city of William the Conqueror, and for its part in the Battle of Normandy during WWII.
We parked Ann’s car in an underground lot and wandered around the small city in search of a place to have dinner and spend the night. We wandered through the cobblestone streets, stunned by the beautiful old buildings, including the Hotel de Ville (or Town Hall), Abbaye aux Hommes (Men’s Abbey), Notre Dame du Froiderue, Englise St. Etienne, and Palace of Justice.
"Dinner in Caen"
We found refuge in a Best Western Hotel and after unpacking wandered about the city before heading off to dinner. Dinner was found on a quaint little pedestrian street in the old Vaugueux quarter of Caen, just minutes from the heart of the city. This suburb derives its name from “val des gueux” (the vale of beggars) and was formerly a poor part of town with a frightful reputation. It is now filled with shops and restaurants rivaling any popular spot in any revitalized city, and we had our choice of restaurants to choose from as we wandered the short street.
We decided on dinner at La Poterne, a quaint French restaurant in the middle of the street, where we were seated outside on the cobblestone walkway and enjoyed a long leisurely French meal, including steak with Roquefort for me and steamed fish for Gillie followed by good French red wine. This spot also offered us the chance to people watch and we enjoyed seeing the French and European tourists enjoying the beautiful evening with us. We called it an early night at midnight, exhausted, knowing the following day would bring a brief tour of Caen before our next stop -- Paris.