Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Transfer to Bayeux

Today was primarily scheduled to be a transit day, which features (a) packing everything into our cases, (b) checking out, (c) driving someplace else, finding the hotel and the parking, (d) unpacking and settling into a new room. In this case, Marian had also planned four short stops along the way.

First up, half an hour out of Rouen, was the Abbaye de Jumiège, a ruined abbey that Victor Hugo thought was the most beautiful ruin in France. It was still a functional and influential abbey until the 1790s when the French Revolution occurred. The Revolution was anti-clerical as well as anti-monarchist, and the Republicans closed and destroyed this along with many other abbeys. So it hadn't been a ruin even a century when Hugo saw it.

Anyway, it's ruined.

For anything but pictures, that is.

Next, a few Ks down the road, was the Pont de Brotonne, a fairly new bridge over the Seine, a very nice cable-stayed bridge (such as the new Bay Bridge will be).

In Caudebec-en-Caux, the town at the foot of this bridge is a notable church.

The main attraction is that its West front has 330 little figures of people of all walks of life from the time, the 15th century.

Some of those within reach of the ground are broken. Protestant Iconoclasts destroyed all the larger saint's images but only poked at the little ones. (Or maybe figures of ordinary people were politically acceptable?) The event is memorialized in an inscription on the North wall,

"La Desolation de cette église fut le 12ieme jour de mai 1562"—The despoiling of the church was done the 12th of May 1562.

We paused for lunch in what the guidebook said was attractive riverside town, but nothing looked too cute in gray light, so on. Looked at some of the other very large bridges that span the Seine.

Brightest thing around, a field of rapeseed, future canola oil.

These fields of rapeseed, huge blocks of vivid yellow on the green landscape, are the only visible agriculture at this time of year.

From there an hour on the motorway (partly toll, partly free) brought us around Caen to Bayeux, which is quite small, a big village rather than a medium town like Rouen. More about it later.

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