Upon our return to Metz on Wednesday from Rheims, we began the process of packing up our suitcases and bidding farewell to a city that we enjoyed so much. We went to the Metz Synagogue yesterday and met with the Grand Rabbi to thank him for the warmth of his community; we took a last look at the lovely cheese in the Covered Market; we walked around the central part of the city and said goodbye to our neighborhood baker.
Jean was incredibly wonderful and drove us - and our six suitcases - to the Lorraine-TGV station this afternoon. We were able to get on and off the train without too much of a problem (this is always the worst part of traveling in France) and we are at a hotel near the airport for our final night in France.
As has been the case for most of our travels, we start walking around a city in France and we find a synagogue. And this one in Rheims was quite a jewel. Consecrated in 1879, the synagogue served Jews from Alsace and Lorraine who had moved west as a result of the German Annexation.
We were fortunate to be at the synagogue at the right moment - a group of people were meeting inside, and David asked if we could take a peek at the sanctuary. The synagogue is still in use and serves a community of about 200 families.
And a Jewish colonel in the U.S. Army intervened to return the synagogue to the Rheims Jewish community after the liberation of Rheims in August of 1944.
Our first stop in Rouen was a visit to an exhibit at the Beaux Arts Museum entitled, "A City for Impressionism: Monet, Pisarro and Gaugin in Rouen." The exhibit had opened on June 4, so we were among the first to see the incredible paintings gathered from collections around the world. The exhibit included ten out of 30 paintings in Monet's Rouen Cathedral series that he painted in 1892-1893.
Here are my additions to the series...
Rouen Cathedral, 3 pm
Rouen Cathedral, 9:15 am
This exhibit has inspired a summer's worth of events taking place in cities throughout Normandy, from exhibits to concerts to theatre. One of these events was held yesterday in an abbey church in Rouen, where amateur artists painted away.
We had a fabulous lunch at La Mere Poulard, one of Mont-St.-Michel's more notable restaurants. The omelettes were incredibly light, due to the beating of the eggs; the omelettes are cooked over a fire.
David has said that the Mont-St.-Michel is one of the must-see sights in France. And, having visited it yesterday, I agree with him wholeheartedly.
We made the 45-minute drive early in the morning to get ahead of the buses of tourists that journey there every day. Once we arrived, we climbed - after all, the abbey is on the top of a mount - through the town to the abbey itself. And people have been doing this since the 8th Century, this being a place of pilgrimmage.
David's post is more extensive, so I've posted some photographs that show details of the abbey and its buildings.
A capital in the abbey.
The abbey's choir.
Sculptures of foliage on the sprandrels in the cloister.
Yesterday, David and I spent the day in Dinan, a city that is rich in medieval buildings, cobblestones, and steep hills. Its Old Town is full of 14th and 15th century restored half-timbered houses.
Here is a view of its Clock Tower, built in the 15th century; we climbed most of the way up to see the panoramic views.
I particularly like this detail on the side of a building.
This street runs from the center of the Old Town to the port of the River Rance. The combination of steepness and cobblestones makes for an interesting walk!
These women had a strategy for walking up the street - link arms and walk up together!
The Saint Sauveur Basilica is interesting in that it mixes the Romanesque and Flamboyant Gothic styles. You can see this from a corner of the church's exterior. I found the windows, in the Flamboyant Gothic style, quite beautiful.
After enjoying lunch at a lovely creperie, we left Dinan and headed south to the Chateau de la Bourbansais, which has been owned by the same family since the 16th century. They open the chateau for public tours in the afternoon and maintain a zoo on the property.
After seeing parts of the interior of the chateau, we saw two demonstrations of chateau life - the training of the hounds and falconry.