Thursday, July 5, 2012


Three of the greatest battles in French history were fought around Poitiers, the most famous in 732 when Charles Martel halted the Arab invasion.  After two periods of English rule, the town thrived during the reign of Jean de Berry (1369 - 1416), the great sponsor of the arts.  Its university, founded in 1431, made Poitiers a major intellectual center and saw Rabelais among its students.

The Wars of Religion left Poitiers in chaos and not until the late 19th century did any major development take place.  Today, however, the town is a modern and dynamic regional capital with a rich architectural heritage in its historic center.

Despite its name, Notre-Dame-la-Grande is not a large church.  One of Poitiers' great pilgrim churches, it is most celebrated as a masterpiece of lively 12th-century Poitevin sculpture, notably its richly detailed facade.

Having taken that one hour information tour in Melle is making us appreciate the church architecture and specific features.

Also, the tour of the Musée du Vitrail is making us notice specifics in the stained glass, including the themes that are not always strictly religious.

I have been praying to Frère Antoine all my life, but this one is Saint Antoine de Padue.  Close enough for me to light a candle.

Joan of Arc

The columns and ceiling in this church are incredible!  They're painted and detailed and very unusual.

This beautiful book has music for every day of the liturgical year.  It has a place of honour close to the altar.

Incredible depiction of Christ being prepared for burial.

"Karl, I really, really want to go on the Merry-Go-Round.  Want to come with me?"

"If Val were here, we'd be going on this ride together!  We did in Paris in 2004!"

"Ok then, I'll go by myself.  It's SO much fun to go round and round!"

Isn't this a magnificent Manège? (Merry-Go-Round)

This is the Cathédrale St-Pierre, more of a Gothic church.  Its 13th-century carved choir stalls are by far the oldest in France.

Yes, definitely Gothic.

These are shots taken around town, just to show the buildings and the streets.

Liberté.  Have you seen a larger version anywhere before?

Behind the bland Renaissance facade is the 12th-century great hall of the palace of the Angevin kings, Henry II and Richard the Lion-Heart.  This is thought to be the scene of Joan of Arc's examination by a council of theologians in 1429.

Karl really loves the half-timbered houses.

Recognize the face?

A touch of Canadiana - the Caribou Café.

Uncle Peter always calls Karl "Karlee", but I think "Carles" is close enough in pronunciation.

My kind of store, dedicated entirely to rosé wines!  I lingered there quite a while, studying the names...

The coquelicot (poppy flower) is found everywhere in France.

Another symbol of France is the macaron (macaroon).  Karl loves these little cookie treats and bought half a dozen.

I bought some jellied sweets, at the same store.

More streets and beautiful flowers that brighten up the continuous cement look...

Uh oh, somebody didn't pay for parking!

Joan of Arc can be found around every corner, it seems.

We stopped for an afternoon refreshment and I was commenting how everyone was dressed so well and really had "style".  Karl said he had great style too, and proceeded to show me the four very flattering ways to sport a cap, "à la Canadienne"!

Frankly, the French men around here don't wear caps.  Some sport narrow-brimmed fedoras.

We had planned on going to Maxim's for supper, but it's been closed for 1.5 years.  (The danger in using old travel books...)  When I was shopping for a new dress and a couple of blouses, I asked the clerk what she would recommend for a dinner place and she suggested "Le Bistro de l'Absynthe".  It's a pub/casual little place, so imagine our surprise when we had the most wonderful dinner!

The entrée was a delicious salad.  Main course was duck, but with scalloped potatoes topped with mushrooms, and a wrapped "gift" of ratatouille.  How delicious!

Dessert was an old favourite: chocolat moëlleux, or volcano cake as we know it.  Topped with an attractive little fruit called allékenge (cerise de terre) and a scoop of sorbet on the side.

Poitiers was a great town to visit, but it is hilly and I found it a bit tiring to be going up and down the paths.  Still, a very worthwhile place to tour.



  1. Did you go in to the palais de justice to look at the great hall?
    It's a great experience to be waiting to go into court and sitting where those seeking the justice of the dukes of Aquitaine would have been sitting centuries earlier.

  2. love the pics guys! What a beautiful Merry-Go-Round, I would have loved going on a ride with you.