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The great dike which protects it, or, protects the country from it, from Blois to Angers, is an admirable road; and on the other side, as well, the highway constantly keeps it company.
The Palais de Justice was the seat of the Government of Leon Gambetta in the autumn of 1870, after the dictator had been obliged to retire in his balloon from Paris, and before the Assembly was constituted at Bordeaux.
It is hardly too much to say that wherever one goes in, certain parts of France, one encounters two great historic facts: one is the Revolution; the other is the German invasion.
The most interesting fact, to my mind, about the high-street of Tours was that as you walked toward the bridge on the right-hand trottoir you can look up at the house, on the other side of the way, in which Honore de Balzac first saw the light. That violent and complicated genius was a child of the good-humored and succulent Touraine.
t6yThe cathedral of Tours, which is dedicated to Saint Gatianus, took a long time to build. Begun in 1170, it was finished only in the first half of the sixteenth century;
If you come down to Tours from Paris, your best economy is to spend a few days at Blois, where a clumsy, but rather attractive little inn, on the edge of the river, will offer you a certain amount of that familiar and intermittent hospitality which a few weeks spent in the French provinces teaches you to regard as the highest attainable form of accommodation.
The Chateau de Blois is one of the most beautiful and elaborate of all the old royal residences of this part of France, and I suppose it should have all the honors of my description.
Chambord has a strange mixture of society and solitude.
I had but a rapid and partial view of Cheverny; but that view was a glimpse of perfection.
Amboise was a frequent resort of the French Court during the sixteenth century; it was here that the young Mary Stuart spent sundry hours of her first marriage.
It was in the castle (Chinon) that Jeanne Darc ????? had her first interview with Charles VII., and it is in the town that Francois Rabelais is supposed to have been born.
“In 1747,” says Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in his “Confessions,” “we went to spend the autumn in Tou- raine, at the Chateau, of Chenonceaux, a royal resi- dence upon the Cher, built by Henry II. for Diana of Poitiers,
Langeais is rather dark and gray; it is perhaps the simplest and most severe of all the castles of the Loire.
Loches is certainly one of the greatest impressions of the traveller in central France, – the largest cluster of curious things that presents itself to his sight.
The cathedral of Bourges is indeed magnificently huge; and if it is a good deal wanting in lightness and grace it is perhaps only the more imposing.
Here (Cathedral of Le Mans) is the house of Queen Berengaria, – an absurd name, as the building is of a date some three hundred years later than the wife of Richard Coeur de Lion, who has a sepulchral monument in the south aisle of the cathedral.
Angers figures with importance in early English history: it was the capital city of the Plantagenet race, home of that Geoffrey of Anjou who married, as second husband, the Empress Maud, daughter of Henry I. and competitor of Stephen, and became father of Henry II., first of the Plantagenet kings, born, as we have seen, at Le Mans.
The chateau (Nantes) is naturally not wanting in history. It was the residence of the old Dukes of Brittany, and was brought, with the rest of the province, by the Duchess Anne, the last representative of that race, as her dowry, to Charles VIII. I read in the excellent hand-book of M. Joanne that it has been visited by almost every one of the kings of France, from Louis XI.
The man who showed me the castle in- dicated also another historic spot, a house with little tourelles, on the Quai de la Fosse, in which Henry IV. is said to have signed the Edict of Nantes.
On the south side stands the tomb of Francis II., the last of the Dukes of Brittany, and of his second wife, Margaret of Foix.
La Rochelle, which from the moment I entered it I perceived to be a fascinating little town, a most original mixture of brightness and dulness.
The lion of Poitiers, in the eyes of the natives, is doubtless the Palais de Justice, in the shadow of which the statue-guarded hotel,
For the rest, Bordeaux is a big, rich, handsome, imposing commercial town, with long rows of fine old eighteenth century houses, which overlook the yellow Garonne.
Except the church of Saint-Sernin and the fine old court of the Hotel d’Assezat, Toulouse has no architecture;
For the rest, the picturesque at Toulouse consists principally of the walk beside the Garonne, which is spanned, to the faubourg of Saint-Cyprien, by a stout brick bridge.
The writer makes a jump to the year 1209, when Carcassonne, then forming part of the realm of the viscounts of Beziers and infected by the Albigensian heresy, was besieged, in the name of the Pope, by the terrible Simon de Montfort and his army of crusaders.
The place (Montpellier) is charming, all the same; and it served the purpose of John Locke; who made a long stay there, between 1675 and 1679, and became acquainted with a noble fellow-visitor, Lord Pembroke, to whom he dedicated the famous Essay.
He (Francois Fabre) was the hero of a remarkable episode, having succeeded no less a person than Vittorio Alfieri in the affections of no less a person than Louise de Stolberg, Countess of Albany, widow of no less a person than Charles Edward Stuart, the second pretender to the British crown.
It was my belief that Aigues-Mortes was a little gem, and it is natural to desire that gems should have an opportunity to sparkle.
On my way from Nimes to Arles, I spent three hours at Tarascon; chiefly for the love of Alphonse Daudet, who has written nothing more genial than “Les Aventures Prodigieuses de Taitarin,” and the story of the “siege” of the bright, dead little town (a mythic siege by the Prussians) in the “Conies du Lundi.”
We knew in advance, my companion and I that Les Baus was a pearl of picturesqueness;
The fact, indeed, is simply that the palace (Papal Palace in Avignon) has been so incalculably abused and altered.
The principal lion is the Hopital-Saint-Esprit, or the Hotel-Dieu, simply, as they call it there, founded in 1443 by Nicholas Rollin, Chancellor of Burgundy.
The treasure of the place is a precious picture, – a Last Judgment, attributed equally to John van Eyck and Roger van der Weyden, – given to the hospital in the fifteenth century by Nicholas Rollin aforesaid.
- in the land of castles (plaridel.wordpress.com)