Tag Archives: France

France – Chateau de Nacqueville

France-Chateau de Nacqueville

 

Since building started 500 years ago, the history of the Chateau and Park of Nacqueville has been closely linked to those of the three families who have lived there:

Body text bullet pointthe Grimouvilles in the 16th and 17th centuries

Body text bullet pointthe Mangon family, and their relatives the Barbout de Querquevilles and the de Tocquevilles, in the 18th. and 19th. Centuries, and

Body text bullet pointthe Hersents and their descendants from 1880 to the present day.

 

In 1510 the ancient Norman family of Grimouville constructed the original building as a fortified manor with a protective wall, 6 metres high. This completely blocked out the view from the manor thus giving the owners of the time no interest in landscaping the surrounding countryside.

Around 1700 the defensive wall was knocked down. With only the postern gate as the remaining reminder of the original defences, the owners had a beautiful view from the Chateau over the valley floor to the ornamental woods beyond.

Only much later, in 183o, did Hippolyte de Tocqueville, whose wife owned the estate, decide to create a true park.

An English landscape gardener was commissioned to design a romantic park, taking in the three small valleys. Within a few years the work had been successfully completed:

Body text bullet pointcreating a lake next to the Chateau and forming ponds, waterfalls and fountains,

Body text bullet pointclearing the main valley and planting it with ornamental trees, flowering shrubs and exotic plants,

Body text bullet pointmoving the entrance drive to lead right up to the Chateau, and

Body text bullet pointextending the woodlands on the surrounding high ground.

These changes so impressed the political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville, the author of the classic “Democracy in America”, that he wrote to his friend G. de Beaumont in 1857:

“I was, the day before yesterday, at my brother Hippolyte’s house. They have lavished enough money and taste on Nacqueville to make it one of the prettiest places in the world.”

 

Restoration

During the 2nd World War, the Chateau and the Park were occupied by the German army and then the Americans, who used the Chateau as an headquarters.

When Marcel Hersent (1895-1971) reclaimed the property in 1946, the whole place was in a disastrous state. Parts of the roof were missing, the interior was in ruins, the park had been devastated and the woods badly damaged. Over the next ten years, he completely restored the Chateau and put the Park and the woods back in order.

Proud of his work, in 1962 he opened the Park and the Chateau to the public.

Consolidation

In 1971, Marcel’s daughter Jacqueline, who had married Francois Azan in 1946, inherited the property. For the next 29 years they dedicated themselves to keeping the estate in perfect order, preserving its harmony and charm.

In 2000, the property passed to their daughter, Florence. With her husband Thierry d’Harcourt and their three children Hildevert, Alban and Quitterie, they left their Australian home of 12 years to settle in Nacqueville and pursue the task of the 18 previous generations who have over 5 centuries been the owners of Nacqueville.

 

France – Mont St-Michel

 

 

Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky tidal island and a commune in Normandy, France. It is located approximately one kilometer (just over half a mile) off the country’s north coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches.

Le Mont-St-Michel was used in the 6th and 7th centuries as a stronghold of Romano-British culture and power until it was sacked by the Franks; thus ending the trans-channel culture that had stood since the departure of the Romans in 459 AD.
Before the construction of the first monastic establishment in the 8th century, the island was called Mont Tombe. According to legend, the archangel Michael appeared to St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches, in 708 and instructed him to build a church on the rocky islet. But Aubert repeatedly ignored the angel’s instruction until Michael burned a hole in the bishop’s skull with his finger. That did the trick.
The dedication to St Michael occurred on October 16, 708. The mount gained strategic significance in 933 when the Normans annexed the Cotentin Peninsula, thereby placing the mount on the new frontier with Brittany. It is depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry, which commemorates the 1066 Norman conquest of England. Ducal and royal patronage financed the spectacular Norman architecture of the abbey in subsequent centuries.

Legend has it that the Archangel Michael appeared to Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, inspiring him to build an oratory on what was then called Mont Tombe.
An Italian architect, William de Volpiano, designed the Romanesque church of the abbey in the 11th century, daringly placing the transept crossing at the top of the mount. Many underground crypts and chapels had to be built to compensate for this weight. These formed the basis for the supportive upward structure that can be seen today.
Robert de Thorigny, a great supporter of Henry II of England (who was also Duke of Normandy), reinforced the structure of the buildings and built the main façade of the church in the 12th century. Following his annexation of Normandy in 1204, the King of France, Philip Augustus offered abbot Jourdain a grant for the construction of a new gothic style architectural set which included the addition of the refectory and cloister.
The wealth and influence of the abbey extended to many daughter foundations, including St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, England. However, its popularity and prestige as a centre of pilgrimage waned with the Reformation and by the time of the French Revolution there were scarcely any monks in residence. During the Revolution the abbey was closed and converted into a prison, initially to hold clerical opponents of the republican régime. High-profile political prisoners followed, but by 1836 influential figures, including Victor Hugo, had launched a campaign to restore what was seen as a national architectural treasure. The prison was finally closed in 1863, and the mount was declared a historic monument in 1874. Mont Saint Michel and its bay were added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979.

France – Lyon

Lyon is the capital of the Rhone-Alpes region and the second-largest city in France. Located just two hours from Paris on the TGV, the city of Lyon is rich with religious and historical sites.

Lyon has a long cultural influence on France and the world. The city is known for its historical and architectural landmarks and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lyon was historically known as an important area for the production and weaving of silk and in modern times has developed a reputation as the capital of gastronomy in France. It has a significant role in the history of cinema due to Auguste and Louis Lumière.

France – Saint Malo

Walled and built with the same grey granite stone as Mont St-Michel, ST-MALO was originally in the Middle Ages a fortified island at the mouth of the Rance, controlling not only the estuary but the open sea beyond.
The promontory fort of Alet, south of the modern centre in what’s now the St-Servan district, commanded approaches to the Rance even before the Romans, but modern St-Malo traces its origins to a monastic settlement founded by saints Aaron and Brendan early in the sixth century. In later centuries it became notorious as the home of a fierce breed of pirate-mariners, who were never quite under anybody’s control but their own; for four years from 1590, St-Malo even declared itself to be an independent republic. The corsaires of St-Malo not only forced English ships passing up the Channel to pay tribute, but also brought wealth from further afield. Jacques Cartier, who colonized Canada, lived in and sailed from St-Malo, as did the first colonists to settle the Falklands – hence the islands’ Argentinian name, Las Malvinas, from the French Malouins.

France – Paris

Paris the capital and largest city in France, is situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Ile-de-France region (or Paris Region).
Paris is acknowledged for its classy food and great fashion sense. It is also known as the City of Lights and now considered as one of the most well-liked tourist destination in the world nowadays.