Monday, 20 March 2017

Le Mans - it's not all about motor racing!

I am returning to French regional topics for a while, before telling you about our holiday in South Africa and Botswana, which was utterly fabulous!  We passed through Le Mans (in the NW France department of the Sarthe) at Christmastime;  the weather was bitterly cold, minus 5 degrees or so and not time for hanging about outside, but we managed to locate the cathedral in the heart of the city, ringed by busy roads and just across a dual carriageway  from a huge cinema and underground car park complex!
Cathédrale St-Julien du Mans is a Catholic cathedral, dedicated in the 9th century to Saint Julien (Julian in English) of Le Mans; he was an evangelist and the city's first bishop, who established Christianity in the area around the beginning of the 4th century. Julien had his own feast day, which was celebrated in England as well for a time, this because the future King Henry II of England was baptised in Le Mans in 1133!

There were earlier buildings on this site, constructed from the 6th century, but this stone building was started in the 10th century. Building continued, in a variety of styles as centuries passed, but work was eventually halted in 1430 with the building incomplete! The cathedral is however notable for, among other things, its rich collection of stained glass and the spectacular bifurcating flying buttresses at its eastern end.
Those spectacular flying buttresses!

Getting closer. Photo distortion is due to the wide angle lens I was using....

Five towers, four of which were Roman, were at one much earlier time distributed along this part of the enclosure walling.   They are presumed to have been demolished in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The beautiful nave, with its stone roof vaulting
The
A side aisle, generously proportioned. Cathedrale Saint Julien is one of the largest cathedrals in the country.

A glimpse of high level stained glass windows between the soaring sculptured columns.

A side chapel, with hints of winter sun filtering in!

La mise au tombeau is a late 16th century sculpture which cannot be accurately attributed. It was restored in the 1970's and occupies a prominent position in the St Joan of Arc chapel, with more beautiful stained glass windows behind!
This statue, the Great Sepulchure  by local sculptor Gervais Delabarre, showing the Virgin and Apostles, was originally in another local church.

On 20 October 2013 and with the aid of public subscriptions, Goudji's modern sculpture titled Christ in Glory  was installed in the cathedral, 12 metres above the floor, in front of a very large crowd! Born in Georgia, but long naturalised French, Goudji is a world-renowned artist well experienced in the creation of religious pieces.

The cathedral organ has its beginnings in an instrument built between 1529 and 1535.


Also see my daily diary HERE


and My Life Before Charente (updated  25 September 2016) I will get back to this eventually! 

My Life in the Charente 1 you can find here if you want to read the past.

18 comments:

  1. Bonjour Diane,
    Merci de me faire revisiter ce beau lieu du Mans! Nous y étions au mois de septembre et il faisait un temps beaucoup plus doux!
    Longue vie à ce nouveau blog, avec autant de succès que le précédent!
    Belle semaine à vous!

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    1. Merci Lucie pour le bon commentaire. J'espère que le nouveau blog durera aussi longtemps que le premier! Bonne journée. Diane

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  2. Nice to see you back with this interesting post. We seem to always drive through but don't stop in Le Mans on our travels in France so I've missed this lovely cathedral.

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    1. Karen we also generally drive through here and Rouen, this trip we stopped here going to the UK and at Rouen on the return so you will have that post soon as well. Have a good week Diane

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  3. Good interesting post, Diane! The cathedral is gorgeous! It's amazing with its architecture and it looks huge. It would be wonderful to see it in person!

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    1. Pam it is an amazing place, one day maybe you will get to see it :-) Keep well Diane

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  4. Minus 5 would have been a shock Diane! St. Julien's Cathedral is magnificent and you have shown it so beautifully here. Looking forward to hearing about your Botswana trip, it used to be so nice there and I'm hoping it still is 😊

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    1. It was very cold to say the least of it!!! Botswana was amazing and EVERYONE was so friendly and helpful. I could still live there quite happily. Great place still. Diane

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  5. My goodness! Great photos... Cathedrale Saint Julien is STUNNING!

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    1. It really was stunning and huge! Hope all is well Diane

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  6. I am in total awe of the architecture. It's so big and massively detailed. Plus how well built to still be standing. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Gaelyn these old buildings amaze me daily here in France. They have survived so much including WW1 and 2. It is quite beautiful to walk around inside. Have a great weekend Diane

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  7. What a stunning cathedral, well worth the visit.

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    1. It is truly an amazing place and soooooo huge. Thanks for the comment and have a good week Diane

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  8. I know you've done posts about cars and the Tour de France, and I think you might have touched on LeMans before. I always enjoy seeing those. But you know I really love your cathedral pictures. The majesty those artisans created without modern machinery to lift those stones and windows is breathtaking!

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    1. Marjie the mind boggles as to how these buildings went up without today's machinery and equipment. They never cease to amaze and surprise me. Wish I could g back in time and watch how it was done :-) Hope all is well Diane

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  9. Wow Diane a super post and fab photos still amazes me how they built thsee churches. I might go to Le Mans one day for the racing so will check this out. Take care . Xx

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    1. It is certainly worth a visit, I think that this cathedral and Reims are my two favourites, but there are so many others which are quite superb, Rouen being one of them of course. Take care and keep strong, Diane xox

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