Walking through the cluster of cobblestone, pedestrians-only streets in the heart of the old quarter is by no doubt the main attraction of Troyes.
In 1524 a disastrous fire destroyed much of the town. The half-timbered houses that were rebuilt give the town a medieval look. Troyes has the most half-timbered houses of any town in France! Many have been lovingly restored.
These houses were not originally black and white but often coloured.
The half-timbered houses with dark and light checkerboard brickwork, the restored "hotels" mainly from the 16th c., the ten picturesque churches are worthwhile a journey in combination with a visit to the famous cathedral of Reims (125 km north of Troyes).
As Troyes was behind the lines during the First World War and the centre was not touched during the Second World War (on the contrary of Reims heavily damaged during WW I). Troyes has guarded intact a magnificent heritage of civil and religious architecture, stained glass and art treasures that will delight visitors.
The town of Troyes has an intimacy which invites to stay here for the night instead of in the larger Reims.
Il est certain que l'attraction principale de Troyes sont ses ruelles pavées, ses maisons à colombages, ses hôtels particuliers Renaissance, ses neuf églises, sa cathédrale de lumière.
Ce patrimoine, datant principalement du XVIe siècle, est toujours valide et toujours splendide, retrouvant maintenant, avec les pigments d'antan (réutilisés lors des rénovations), ses belles façades aux teintes pastel.
Mais il reste, au cœur de la vieille ville, enchevêtrés dans des quartiers animés, les témoignages des adroits bâtisseurs du Moyen Age. Il fait bon flâner parmi leurs œuvres, à l'ombre de leurs poutres sculptées. Vous les découvrirez en levant les yeux sous les pignons à encorbellement ou dans d'exquises cours intérieures.
La ville de Troyes a eu la chance de ne pas être détruite pendant la guerre 1914-18 comme le fut Reims. Son intimité médiévale invite au séjour.
Saint Pantaleon (16 - 18th C.) is the parish of the Polish community of Troyes.
Pantaleon is venerated in Eastern Europe as a great martyr (during the Diocletian persecution 305) and wonderworker. In the Middle Ages he came to be regarded as the patron saint of physicians.
This church is a real museum of the 16th century Troyes statuary, because it was the hiding place for statues saved during the Revolution.
The quite admirable statues are works in polychrome with really moving expressions of pain and gentleness.
Surprisingly, the subjects are not religious. At a balcony are two persons, one smoking a pipe, the other wearing a turban (see French text photo 2).
Also surprising for a church the group showing a workshop (French text photo 1) and an imposing knight holding a lance (pic.1).
Some were created by Dominique le Florentin, an artist from Troyes and decorator for François 1st.
Not to be missed is the grisaille glass from the 16th C. The "grisaille" or enhanced fiery colour technique made it possible to avoid cutting out as many pieces of glass as there were colours (pic.2).
Open every day from 10hrs-12hrs and 14hrs-17hrs except Sunday morning and Monday.
The former Bishop's Palace (16th, 17th and 19th C.) opposite the cathedral, now houses the Museum of Modern Art. The nucleus of the museum is the Levy Collection of art between 1850 and 1950. The museum shows mainly fauvism and expressionism with works by Courbet, Bonnard, Cézanne, Derain, Degas, De Staël, Dufy, Gauguin, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, Rouault, Seurat Soutine, Van Dongen, Vlaminck and Vuillard among others.
There is also a collection of African art and a collection of glass artefacts.
Sculptures are displayed in the garden.
Dans l’ancien palais des évêques, à côté de la cathédrale, le Musée d'Art Moderne rassemble quelque 2000 œuvres représentant les grands courants picturaux du début du siècle, de Courbet (1850) à De Staël (1950) avec une prédilection pour les mouvements fauve et expressionniste.
On trouve Bonnard, Cézanne, Derain, Degas, De Staël, Dufy, Gauguin, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, Rouault, Seurat, Soutine, Van Dongen, Vlaminck et Vuillard entre autres.
Il y a encore une rare collection de verreries du célèbre Maurice Marinot (verrier troyen) et un bel ensemble d’Art africain. Dans le jardin des sculptures.
Ouvert de 10h à 13h et de 14h à 18h sauf lundi et fêtes légales.
The construction of the present cathedral began around 1200 to end in the middle of the 16th century.
It is a jewel of the Gothic style. Remarkable are the doors on the west facade and the north transept with its richly decorated doorway, the "Beau Portail", and its 15th century rose window are particularly fine examples of Gothic sculpture. The flamboyant west facade was constructed at the beginning of the 16th century by the great builder of cathedrals Martin Chambiges. The two square towers are in late Gothic style; the Saint-Paul Tower was left uncompleted in 1545.
Troyes has been called by the specialists the “Ville Sainte du Vitrail - Sacred City of Stained Glass”.
The SAINT-PIERRE SAINT-PAUL CATHEDRAL with its 1,500 sq m of stained glass from the 13th to 19th centuries is a magnificent example of the art of stained glass in Troyes.
The most remarkable windows are the Assumption by Jean Sourdain (1523-1524), the bay window of the Immaculate Conception by Linard Gontier (1634) and the Mystical Winepress also by Linard Gontier.
It might be useful to take binoculars to see details of the upper windows and to choose a sunny day to benefit at most from the magic of the coloured glass.
The church houses an interesting treasure including The Hunt of Saint-Bernard de Clairvaux, and a beautiful collection of enamels (12th and 13th c.).It should be noted that the choir grill was removed in the 19th c. and now marks the entrance to a hall in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Open to the public:
1/10 to1/04 : 9-12h and 13-17h. Sunday 10-12h and 13-17h. Closed on Monday.
1/04 to 30/06 : 10-13h and 14-18h all days.
1/07 to 15/09 : 10-19h all days.
The Museum of Modern Art is at the south aspect of the Cathedral on the flank of the Place St.-Pierre. It is in the former Bishop's Palace at the end of a large park which contains several modern sculptures, both full figures and heads. The reconstructed interior now houses over 2.000 works and has much room for ancillary museum activity. The permanent collection of paintings is on the ground floor and includes a modest number of small sculptures. Other modern art includes glass works by Marinot and a section on African Art. On the first floor are drawings and other lesser art forms by all of the painters and an area for temporary exhibits.
Since the collection ends near 1950, the paintings are still works that are related to realism, even though the various artists may focus on lt from limited view points. There are works by such as Modigliani or those from the Fauve movement like de Vlaminck and several by Soutine.
The Modern Art Museum in Troyes starts with examples of the early types of painting that would pass be called Impressionism as it spreads out its collection. Thus, the earliest examples include painters who are on early edge of the period like Degas and Courbet. At the end of the period, still in the 19C, we come to painters like Seurat, Gaugin and Pissaro.
It is surprising to find a fine art museum outside of a very large city in France that is not designed to show the works of a single great artist, but Troyes has one and it covers essentially only the century from 1850 to the middle of the 20C.
The Beaux Arts Museum is northwest of the cathedral. Ie contains some archeological pieces of modest interest, but it is heavily represented by 17 and 18C pieces, some of whom at some time lived in Troyes. Do not confuse it with the Musee d'Art Moderne, which is the major sight in town.
The church of St. Jean is just south of the Hotel de Ville. It was built in the 14C and refinished in the 16C and was where Henri V and Catherine de France were married in 1420. The most attractive part of the church are the altar by Girardon and the paintings behind and above the altar which were by Pierre Mignard, the lower one a fine Baptism of Jesus. In a chapel nearby is another large colorful painted glass panel by Linard Gontier.
Inside the church there are extensive sets of stained windows from the 13C. They depict scenes starting with the Annunciation and extending beyond the early life of Jesus. In a chapel to the right of the choir standing upon a base is a beautiful statue called the Virgin of the Grapes. In the back of the nave stands an excellent Baptismal font.
Saint Urbain IV was born in Troyes, son of a shop keeper, and celebrated his home town with a fine church started in 1262 and finished in 1686. The church was built on the site of the family store. It is of two levels and extends almost onto the vault with a simple altar whose top also extends to the vaults. The present five gabled facade was installed in the 19C over the porch which obscures the fine tympanum which minimally depicts the Last Judgement. The lateral outer faces adorned with buttresses , pinnacles and gargoyles.
Although the Cathedral of St.-Pierre et St.-Paul has many stained glass windows from the 13C and each period of the next centuries, the most impressive window was created in the 17C by Linard Gontier in 1625. Note that at this time the pictures in each section are painted upon the glass and not embedded into the matrix. What is shown is called the Pressoir Mystique depicting Jesus under a wine press expressing his essence. He is surrounded by Apostles who are there to get The Word. Other fine series of windows are those on the Life of the Virgin from the 13C.
The inside of the church is light in structure and has great clarity. Although it is not high (29.5 m), it is of large size, 114m long and 51m wide. It has a flat false triforium with tall windows above and tall aisles. The church is filled with stained glass of every age from Gothic onward. The Rose Window in the west end is almost covered on the inner side by a large organ case.
The Cathedral of St-Pierre-et-St. Paul was started in 1208 but was built on soggy ground which caused difficulties in building. Thus it progressed slowly with many reconstructions and modifications into the 17C. After the Revolution essentially all of the outside sculpture was destroyed but some stone decoration and gargoyles remain above the west end gables. It was partly built and used by 1314 with part of the nave done but it was only consecrated in 1429 with Charles VII in attendance. There is only a Northwest Tower of Renaissance type; the Southwest end is only 29 m high.