This was a building that caught my attention in Senlis. It was different to the other old buildings, in that the stone work of orange & cream gave a chequered effect. It isn't the original station, as that was burnt by German troop's in 1914, and then demolished. The new building was built in 1922. In 1950, the rail passenger rail service closed, and in the 1990's, so did the freight service. It is now a listed National Monument and used by a business company.
The Royal Castle at Senlis, dates back to the time of the Merovingians when it was a Carolingian Castle. It was the birthplace of the Capetian dynasty, also known as the House of France, one of the largest and oldest European royal houses. After the accidental death of the last of the Carolingians, Louis V, Hugues Capet was elected king there in 987. It became a Palace, and was the home of many Kings, who altered it over the years.
In 1793, it became a National property. Unfortunately, a lot of the buildings were destroyed between the years 1812 and 1861.
So what I saw were the ruins. A Romanesque tower stands at the entrance, thought to be the remains of a Keep. The main part of the Castle is next to the Gallo-Roman walls. Probably the ground floor housed the utility rooms and service rooms where-as the first floor was kept for the kings and their suites. Some of it has been bricked up. Saint Denis, the royal chapel consisted of 2 bays and a semi-circular apse; the gallery of the Western bay led directly to the first floor room of the royal apartments. The priory of Saint-Maurice was abolished in 1768, [insufficient Monks], and the cloister and the chapel were demolished after the Revolution.
The city of Senlis bought the ruins in 1956 to house a museum, this is the Museum Venerie. Now, all the ruins of the royal castle and the priory of Saint-Maurice are located on the same lot, landscaped, and can be walked around FREE every day except Tuesday.
AT the entrance of the museum and the park of the Royal Castle, is the municipal museum Fpahis
As it happened, we were in Senlis on a Tuesday, which is a Market Day, the other is Friday.
The market is held in the old part of the town, stretching along many of the streets. I found the majority was food that was being sold, but there were other items too. It is held in the morning.
I thought it quite unusual to see a Triperie van, perhaps the French love Tripe. I know in Australia, somebody selling this, would go broke in the first week!!!
This Cathedral is still being used, even though it was built in the 12th century on the orders of King Louis XII and Thibault, Bishop of Senlis. I was able to view the outside and inside of what is one of France's oldest, narrowest and smallest Cathedrals. Is the Spire the most beautiful in France, I'll let you make up your own mind, but pundits say it is. It was added in 1240 and Rose windows were added in the 16th century. The Cathedral is built in Gothic style, has many sculptures, paintings and beautiful stained glass windows.
Notre-Dame de Senlis Cathedral is open daily every day of the year, from 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM, except during religious services.
The Church of St. Pierre is a pre-Roman building. Over time, architectural alterations have taken place, including the addition of a choir and transept in mid 13th century, rebuilt in 16th century, and the addition of a steeple. The facade dates back to 1546 and the Renaissance square tower is 16th century.
In 1791, the Church was abandoned and has since been used for storing hay, chicory manufacture, cavalry quarters from 1841 on, a covered market then a mortuary chapel for the victims of the tragic crash of a Turkish Airlines DC10 plane in 1974.
It is now used as a Cultural centre by the City.
In these very old towns and cities, this is what I enjoy doing, as you never know what your going to find. The streets are very narrow and footpaths not the best, so be aware of cars. You will see mansions, false doors, old walls, squares, gardens, churches, palaces and more. It is an old Roman city, so you need to keep your eyes open.
This Monument was originally known as the Victory & Peace Monument, later being renamed "the Monument "of the Franco-Moroccan friendship."
The Monument shows a Moroccan Spahis shaking hands with a French Cavalryman.
Originally it was in Casablanca, but was dismantled and shipped to Senlis by the French Navy in 1965. It was decided to put it on the square in front of the former barracks of the Spahis. I thought it was an unusual Monument, and I couldn't read what was written around the base. I have since researched, and found the 7th Regiment of Moroccan Spahis, were a unit stationed in Senlis, from 1927 to 1964. Around the base it shows the feats of the French and Moroccans during World War I. The sculptor was Paul Landowski.
It is located in a park and can be driven around, but it's best to get out the Car and have a look, as both sides of the Monument are different.
If you have a look at the website, it tells you in English what is written around the base.
This is what I suggest you do first, as Senlis is a very old city and has quite a few sights to see, and lovely old, narrow cobblestoned streets to wander through and get lost!
Pick up the free guide book [see photo]. It gives details on the sights and a good walking map.
The tourist office is easy to find. as its located near the Notre Dame Church.
Open every day except 1st January, 1st May and Christmas Day
November 1st - 28th February & 10 - 12.30pm & 2 - 5pm
Sundays and Bank Holidays 10.30 - 12.30pm & 2 - 5pm
March 1st - 31st October & 10 - 12.30pm & 2 - 6.15pm
Sundays and Bank Holidays 10.30 - 1pm & 2 - 6.15pm
Guided tours are available
Morris dance is a traditional English form of folk dance. It is performed mainly using rhythmical walking and hopping and dancers can carry swords, sticks handerkerchiefs or bells. It is traditionally performed by men.
Imagine my surprise when I came across a group of Morris Dancers in the middle of Senlis. They were local fellows putting on a performance. There is no set time so next time you visit Senlis yu may be lucky!
Senlis Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Senlis) is a Roman Catholic cathedral formerly the seat of the Bishopric of Senlis - until 1801 when the area was passed to the Diocese of Beauvais.
The cathedral was built between 1153 and 1191; its 256-foot-tall (78 m) south tower dates from the 13th century. Its transepts were rebuilt between 1530 and 1556 after a fire, and the side portals and shallow east chapels date from about the same period.
You can get more information on the web-site below by clicking on the link to the cathedral
Senlis is the kind of place where it makes sense just to spend a couple of hours walking around the old narrow streets of the town centre, ideally stopping midway for a coffee + croissant and to watch the world go by. My exploration took place right after breakfast, so I wasn't quite ready for coffee etc, but I was tempted anyway.
The good thing was that most people were still just waking up, so it was all very quiet. You get to enjoy the sights and sounds of a French Sunday morning as the town stretches and yawns. People heading for confession, to the boulangerie for bread & croissants, to the cafe for a pick- me-up and to read the newspaper....
On the downside, all the places I might have wanted to visit (see below) were still closed! Mind you, I didn't have much time anyway!
Cathédrale de Notre-Dame can be seen from far and wide, on account of the size of the spire. It was built in the 12th-13th centuries. The ornate main door was being restored at the time of my visit.
Opposite that door you will find the tourist information office, and the Musée de la Venerie which looked particularly attractive from the outside.
As you will see from the photos, I stumbled upon a section of the 3rd century Gallo Roman town wall.
The square where the Mairie is located is also attractive, with outdoor seating for a moment's rest before continuing and blessed with the early morning smells of a boulangerie - good spot for al fresco croissants...
Check out the tourism office's website - details below - it was very useful to me.
One block east of the apse of the cathedral is the Church of St.-Pierre which was built even earlier than the cathedral, at the beginning of the 12C. Although the bases of both towers are Romanesque, the church was redone in the 17C with a heavy Renaissance Tower dome on the right and a display of Gothic-like decorations covering the facade. The left tower was finished completely Romesque with a stone spire. The church today is only used for secular functions. The towers and that of the cathedral stand out as you walk the old town and see the sights.
This beautiful example of Flamboyant Gothic was created between 1530-56 by P. Chambiges. Every yard is a gem from the pinnacled gable below to the windows above and the tower-like buttresses laterally.
The main portal of the West facade is devoted to the Virgin. The tympanumhas her Assumption while below it on the lintel are scenes of her dormition with angels raising her. This is fine bas relief. There are 8 column-statues of biblical patriarchs. First on the left is Isaac being restrained from his sacrifice by an angel. These statues have more life to them than those of Chartres and seved as models to other works soon to follow elsewhere. They were all beheaded during the Revolution and these are new heads. The socles at their feet show the Labors of the Months. As is usual in active churches, you may be delayed in entering because of weddings 9seen here). There is a reward for this, because the church may be illuminated during the ceremony (as is true on Sunday morning) and although it is impolite, it improves ones ability to take pictures.
Dedicated to the Virgin (like the one in Paris), this Notre Dame was begun in 1153 in Gothic style, 10 years earlier than Paris. The West facade has a main door that has jamb column statues of that period, like Chartres. The towers were not finished. When money became available in the 13C the South tower was completed with a spire, the first in France. A devastating fire occurred in 1504 and the vaults were replaced and the upper nave and transepts. The architect Chambiges worked in Flamboyant Gothic style such that the interior is improved and the South Door is a masterpiece.