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Title: Rambles in Normandy

Author: M. F. Mansfield

Illustrator: Blanche McManus

Release date: June 9, 2013 [eBook #42899]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Chuck Greif and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



Every attempt has been made to replicate the original book as printed.

Some typographical errors have been corrected. A list follows the etext. No attempt has been made to correct or normalize the French orthography of the printed book.

The images have been moved from the middle of paragraphs to the closest paragraph break for ease of reading.

(etext transcriber’s note)







The following, each 1 vol., library 12mo, cloth, gilt top, profusely illustrated. Net, $2.00; postpaid, $2.16

Rambles in Normandy

Rambles in Brittany

The Cathedrals and Churches of the Rhine

The following, each 1 vol., library 12mo, cloth, gilt top, profusely illustrated. Postpaid, $2.50

The Cathedrals of Northern France

The Cathedrals of Southern France

New England Building, Boston, Mass.

Mont St. Michel (See page 385)

Mont St. Michel

(See page 385)

R a m b l e s

B  y  F r a n c i s  M i l t o u n

With   Many   Illustrations

B y  B l a n c h e  M c M a n u s




Copyright, 1905
By L. C. Page & Company
All rights reserved

Published October, 1905

Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. Simonds & Co.
Boston, U. S. A.


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THE following pages are not intended to be a record of all the historic and picturesque features of the ancient province of Normandy. The most that is claimed is that they are the record of a series of ramblings in and off the beaten tourist track, with the addition of a few facts of history and romance, which could not well be ignored.

The scheme of the book as set forth in the table of contents will explain this plan far better than any author’s apology; and will also explain why a more ample guide-book treatment is not given to the cities and large towns such as Rouen, the ancient Norman capital; Caen, the capital of Lower Normandy; and Dieppe, and Evreux. All this, and more, with much information of a varying nature from that set forth herein, is given by Joanne, Baedeker, and the local guide-books, which in France are unusually numerous and trustworthy.

These rambles, of the author and artist, extending over some years of wanderings and residence within the province, are, then, merely the record of personal experiences, of no very venturesome or exciting nature, combined with those half-hidden facts which only come to one through an intimate acquaintance.

To this has been added a certain amount of practical travel-talk, which, for some inexplicable reason, seems to have been omitted from the guide-books; and a series of appendices, maps, and plans, which should furnish the stay-at-home and the traveller alike with those facts of relative importance in connection with a favoured land often not at hand or readily accessible. Nor is there any attempt at exhaustiveness. On the contrary, the matter has been condensed as much as possible.

The illustrations are not so much a complete pictorial survey of this delightful part of old France, as an effort to depict the varying moods and characteristics which will best show its contrast to the other provinces; always with an eye to the picturesque and pleasing aspect of a landscape, a detail of architecture, or the quaint dress and customs of the people.


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I. Introductory3
II. The Roads of France20
III. The Forests of France38
IV. A Travel Chapter49
I. The Province and Its People73
II. Norman Industries101
III. Manners and Customs of the Country-side113
IV. The Châteaux of Other Days136
V. Some Types of Norman Architecture150
I. The Seine Valley—Preamble157
II. The Seine below Rouen171
III. The Seine from Rouen to Pont de l’Arche203
IV. The Seine from Pont de l’Arche to La Roche-Guyon229
V. In the Valley of the Eure262
VI. The Pays de Caux286
VII. The Coast Westward of the Seine314
VIII. The Cotentin361
IX. The Norman Country-side393
 Index of Places: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, Y443


Mont St. Michel (See page 385) Frontispiece
A Diligence21
Road Placques, Touring Club de France28
Road Signs in France30
A Berline de Poste33
Explanation of the Maps of the Etat Major36
Lyons-le-Forêt facing 44
Chapelle Ste. Catherine47
Map of Normandyfacing 48
A Woman of Normandyfacing 84
Harvest-time in Normandyfacing 104
Norman Horsesfacing 106
Raising the Sugar-beet111
A Norman Farmhousefacing 128
A Peasant’s Cart134
Donjon of Arques (Diagram)138
Château Gaillard, Les Andelysfacing 138
Ancient Manor d’Argouges146
An Inn by the Seinefacing 158
Cape de la Hève173
Towboats on the Seine181
Quay of Caudebec-en-Cauxfacing 184
Jumiègesfacing 188
The Arms of Agnes Sorel189
A Rouen Café199
Rouen from Bon Secoursfacing 210
Some Seine Sketches214
Pont de l’Archefacing 222
Ancient Plan of Château Gaillard239
The Seine at Petit Andelysfacing 240
Collegiate Church, Ecouisfacing 244
Gisorsfacing 246
A Seine Hamlet249
The Two Châteaux of La Roche-Guyonfacing 260
Hôtel Du Grand Cerf, Louviersfacing 264
Garennesfacing 272
Song of the Pays de Caux (Music)287
A Pigeon-house289
The Harbour of Fécampfacing 294
The Cliffs of Yportfacing 296
Tréportfacing 304
A Cauchoise of Yvetôt312
Honfleurfacing 318
In the Cider-apple Country323
A Norman Cider-pressfacing 326
Dives-sur-Merfacing 334
Tower of Gens d’Armes338
Cloister of the Capucin Convent, Caenfacing 340
Walled Farm346
Old Wooden Houses, Lisieuxfacing 350
Château of Falaise (Plan)351
Donjon of Falaisefacing 352
Street Under the Church of the Trinity, Falaise356
A Cotentinefacing 360
Millet’s Home, Gruchy365
The Rock of Granvillefacing 380
Bay of Mont St. Michel (Map)384
Mont St. Michel in 1657385
Porte du Roi, Mont St. Michelfacing 386
Clock Tower, Vire392
In the Church of Ste. Foy, Conchesfacing 400
The Apiary of La Trappefacing 408
Château d’Alençon413
Market-place, Neubourg417
Abbey of Bec-Hellouin420
Interior of Abbey of Bernay424
The Provinces of France (Map)427
Itinerary of Normandy, I. (Map)433
Itinerary of Normandy, II. (Map)434
Profile Map of Normandy435
The Coast of Normandy (Map)436
Natural Curiosities of Normandy (Map)437
Architectural Curiosities of Normandy (Map)438
Road Map, Normandy Coast439
Road Map, the Seine Valley440
Road Map, Across Normandy441





“ONE doubles his span of life,” says George Moore, “by knowing well a country not his own.”

Un pays aimé is a good friend, indeed, to whom one may turn in time of strife, and none other than Normandy—unless it be Brittany—has proved itself a more safe and pleasant land for travellers.

When one knows the country well he recognizes many things which it has in common with England. Its architecture, for one thing, bears a marked resemblance; for the Norman builders, who erected the magnificent ecclesiastical edifices in the Seine valley during the middle ages, were in no small way responsible for many similar works in England.

It is possible to carry the likeness still further, but the author is not rash enough to do so. The above is doubtless sufficient to awaken any spirit of contention which might otherwise be latent.

Some one has said that the genuine traveller must be a vagabond; and so he must, at least to the extent of taking things as he finds them. He may have other qualities which will endear him to the people with whom he comes in contact; he may be an artist, an antiquarian, or a mere singer of songs;—even if he be merely inquisitive, the typical Norman peasant makes no objection.

One comes to know Normandy best through the real gateway of the Seine, though not many distinguish between Lower Normandy and Upper Normandy. Indeed, not every one knows where Normandy leaves off and Brittany begins, or realizes even the confines of the ancient royal domain of the kings of France.

Rouen, however, the capital of the ancient province, is, perhaps, better known by casual travellers from England and America than any other city in France, save Paris itself. This is as it should be; for no mediæval city of Europe has more numerous or beautiful shrines left to tell the story of its past than the Norman metropolis. Some will remember Rouen as a vast storehouse of architectural treasures, others for its fried sole and duckling Rouennais. Le vin du pays, cidre, or calvados goes well with either.

How many Englishmen know that it is in the tongue of the ancient Normans that the British sovereign is implored to approve or reject the laws of his Parliament? This is beyond dispute, though it appears not to be generally known; hence it is presumed that the land of the Conqueror is not wholly an overtilled field for Anglo-Saxon tourists.

The formula for the approval of the laws promulgated by the British Parliament to-day is: for the laws of finance, “Le Roy remercie ses bon sujets, accepte leur benevolence, et ainsi le veult”; for laws of general purport, “Le Roy veult”; for a law of local interest, “Soit fait comme il est desiré.” And finally, when the royal endorsement is withheld, the formula is, “Le Roy s’avisera.

In the House of Commons, only within the last year (1905), the First Lord of the Treasury rose to abolish this inexplicable usage, the employment of a foreign tongue. Mr. Balfour replied with a refusal based on historical tradition: “French was the language of state in England by right of the Norman Conquest.” It was in 1706 that the House of Lords forbade the use of French in parliamentary and judicial debates. The only chief of state in England who used the English tongue exclusively was Cromwell.

The full significance of the spirit of relationship between Normandy and England to-day is admirably brought out in the expression of sentiment which was advanced on the occasion of the Norman fêtes held at Rouen in the summer of 1904, when the following address was despatched to King Edward at Buckingham Palace by the society that had the fêtes in charge:

To His Majesty, Edward VII.:

“With the deepest joy the ‘Souvenir Normand’ respectfully begs your Majesty to accept its greetings from the banks of the Seine, the river whence your glorious ancestor, William, of the stock of Viking Rollo, set out to found the great British Empire under Norman kings. We thank Providence for the happy tokens of your royal efforts to bring about an understanding between the two Normandies, to secure the peace of the world through the Normans. May God preserve your Majesty; may God grant long life and prosperity to the King and Queen of England and to the English Normandy.”

Normandy is by no means limited to the lower Seine valley, but for the purposes of the journeys set forth herein it is the gateway by which one enters. Normandy is the true land of the cider-apple, though there are other places where, if it is not more abundant, it is of better quality, or at least it has more of the taste of those little apples which grow on trees hardly larger than scrub or sagebrush.

All so-called cidre in Normandy is not cider; most of it is boisson Normande. You buy it in little packets, at a comparatively small price, and add water to suit the taste; only you don’t do it yourself—the landlord of your hotel does it to suit his taste, or his ideas of good business.

A little farther south, on the confines of the plain of Beauce, where Normandy ended and the ancient royal domain began, you get another sort of vin du pays.

Du cidre, ou du vin?” says the garçon, or more likely it is a bonne in these parts. “Du vin, s’il vous plait,” you answer, anxious to see what the new variety may be. When you get it, you find it a peculiar concoction, resembling the wines of Touraine, Bordeaux, Burgundy, or the Midi not a whit. Yet it is not cidre, though it well might be from its look, and somewhat from its taste. “C’est petit cousin de la piquette et certainement cousin du cidre,” volunteered an amiable commercial traveller, in reply to a query.

A small boy was once asked by a patronizing elder what books he used in studying geography and history, and he answered, curtly, “I use no books, I go to places.” That boy was very fortunate.

If the traveller is looking for information and incidental pleasure, he is in a class quite apart from the mere pleasure-seeker; and he ought, if he would profit from his travels to the fullest extent, to be able to increase his power of observation as he widens his horizon. He is often unable to do so, and goes about deploring the absence of pie and buttered toast.

With visitors to Normandy, the case is in no wise different, in spite of the fact that the well-known roads from Havre or Dieppe to Paris, via the Seine valley, are a little better known than any other part of France.

There are still but two wholly unspoiled spots in all the Seine valley, Les Andelys and La Roche-Guyon; and it is doubtful if they ever will become spoiled by tourists within the lives of the present generation. The railway has only recently come to Les Andelys, and the two pretty little towns, with their stupendous Château Gaillard, are even now not popular resorts, though the French, English, and American travellers are coming yearly in increasing numbers, while La Roche-Guyon—a few miles farther up the river—is even less well-known.

Mention is made of this simply because it serves to emphasize the fact that all highroads are not well-worn roads, and that there is a wealth of unlooked-for attraction to be gathered wherever one may roam.

Of the theorists who have attempted to class the Normans with the Danes, the least said the better. To rank the Norman-French and the Dane together, as the pioneers of feudalism, is to ignore the fact that it was the Normans who were the real civilizers of Britain.

The fact stands boldly forth, however, that the ancestors of Norman William, who afterward became England’s king, came direct and undiluted from Scandinavia, while the Norman Frenchman of later times was a distinct development of his own environment.

It is well enough to claim that the English nobility is descended from the Norman barons. At any rate it seems plausible, and one may well agree with those who have said that no Upper House of Lords could ever have been conceived by the Anglo-Saxons. History demonstrates the fact that the idea of the English House of Lords, as an appointment by the Crown, was of Norman conception, and alien to Anglo-Saxon tendencies.

It seems, perhaps, superfluous to reiterate these facts here, but they are so commonly overlooked by the traveller in France that it is well to recall that it was the Norman who governed Britain, and not members of the Saxon hierarchy who afterward became kings of France.

It is with reason that the Norman speaks so fondly of Jersey, Guernsey, and their sister isles. This is explained, of course, by the geographers, and one should, perhaps, be charitable, and allow for the spirit of patriotism, when the Frenchman calls the Channel Islands Les Iles Normandes.

The people there are in many ways as French as French can be. Their laws and their courts make use of the French tongue, and in most, if not quite all, respects the common characteristics are French.

The Frenchman himself, too, is often very fond of them, in spite of their alien allegiance. He calls them “très curieusement pittoresques, féodals, sauvages, en même temps que très civilisées, les Iles Normandes sont un anachronisme, loyales à la couronne anglaise, mais avec une autonomie une véritable paradoxe de l’histoire politique.”

From this he generally goes on to say that “they are the Canada of Europe, a province of France, which continues the life of the French under the Protectorate of the English.”

The law of Jersey is that of the “Coutume Normande.” In Jersey the King of England reigns not; he is Duc de Normandie; the magistrates condemn or acquit “en parler Normand”; the code is Norman; the administration Norman. To London the habitant comes only as a resident, as does a Maltese, or a Canadian.

The Journal Officiel of Jersey is written in Norman. In it one reads such announcements as follows:

A vendre, une vache, ainsi qu’une piano, les deux en bon état.

Or again:

On demande une institutrice, et on céderait un vieux cheval, pour un prix peu élevé.

Throughout the islands the sentiment is decidedly republican, or if not republican is at least Norman.

It is the English king who is duke, but it is the descendant of Rollon who reigns.

All French provinciaux are patriotic beyond belief to the outsider. The Gascon is always a Gascon, and the Norman is always a Norman.

They were masterful folks, those early Normans and the Northmen before them. Rollon, the first Duke of Rouen; Rurik, the first Czar of Russia; Eric le Roux, the first colonizer of Iceland and Greenland; Leif Ericson, the first discoverer of America and the colonizer of Vineland.

Of the Normans, Guillaume, son of Herleve, Robert le Diable, and Robert Guiscard de Hauteville were kings of Sicily. Cabot of Jersey was the discoverer of Canada, and Jean Cousin of Honfleur was the pilot of Christopher Columbus. Binot Lipaulmier de Gonneville and Jean Denys were the discoverers of Newfoundland, of Brazil, and of the Canaries; the Chevalier de la Salle was the discoverer of the Mississippi; and Champlain was the founder of Quebec.

Among other great discoverers and navigators are Jean de Bethencourt, Jean Ango, Duquesne, Dumé, Tourville de Bricqueville, and Dumont d’Urville.

In letters and art Normandy has held a proud position.

In poesy stand forth the names of Pierre Corneille and his brother Thomas, Alain Chartier, Olivier Basselin, Jean Marot, Jean Bertand, Malherbe,—sometimes called “the father of modern poetry,”—Segrais, Malfiatre, Castel, Madeleine de Scudéry, Benserade, the Abbé de Chaulieu, Bernardin St. Pierre, Casimir Delavigne, and his rival in dramatic verse, Ancelot. The historians and savants, Fontenelle, Huét, and Mezeray, St. Evremond, Dacier, and Burnouf, Armand Carrel, Octave Feuillet, Louis Bouilhet, Gustave Flaubert, and Guy de Maupassant.

Among others of Normandy’s great names are: Fresnel, the inventor of the lenticular lanterns for lighthouses, and Conté, the inventor of crayons bearing his name.

Among the artists are Jouvenet, Restout, Nicolas Poussin, Gericault, Millet, and Chaplin, and the sculptors, Anguier and Harivel-Durocher, the composers, Boïeldieu and Auber, and the actor Melingue.

A great man in industry and statesmanship was Richard Waddington, while still greater and more ancient names, famed in history, round off the list: William the Conqueror, the Minister Le Tellier, Maréchal de Coigny, Charlotte Corday, Le Brun, the Duc de Plaisance, and Dupont de l’Eure.

Canada was discovered and colonized by the Norman fishermen, sailors, carpenters, and masons of the fleet of Champlain from Honfleur, Dieppe, and Havre.

The regard which the Norman has for things American has generally been overlooked. But one need not go so far as to say, as has been done by Norman writers, that the present cosmopolitan population of America is made up mostly of the Scotch, the Irish, and the Normans of England and France—the descendants of the people whom William and his sixty thousand companions organized in social order.

M. Hector Fabre has said that, while all the colonists of New France—actually Canada—were not Normans, it was a curious phenomenon that all the children born in Canada were Norman.

The St. Lawrence, which the French still call the Saint Laurent, is to them as Norman as the Mississippi or the Seine, and it is reasonable to presume that they still regard North America as “La Normandie Transatlantique.”

All this is with some justification, if we go back as far as the Northmen, as the good people of Boston, in America, well know, for it is they who have supplanted the Genoese admiral by Leif, the son of Eric, and have even erected a statue to him.

With all this, then, in view, may the writer be pardoned for presuming that Normandy is not a worn-out touring-ground, nor one of which there is nothing new to tell. The author wishes to repeat, however, that no more has been attempted herein than to gather together such romantic and historical facts as have readily suggested themselves to him and to the artist, who have each of them lived many months in the very heart of that old province between Paris and the sea.

Normandy is in many respects the ideal of a delightful tour for those who would not go further afield, or who wish to know still more of those conventional touring-grounds of which, truth to tell, but little is known by those tourists personally conducted in droves, who do a watering-place in the morning, take their lunch at some riverside shrine, and get to a cathedral town in time to nibble at its masterpiece before the hour of opening, which in Normandy, Rouen in particular, is early.

The great rhomboid which bounds the France of to-day, enclosed, before the Revolution, thirty-three great provinces, of which, save Guyenne, Gascogne, Languedoc, and Bretagne, Normandy was the largest, and certainly the most potently strenuous in the life of the times.

Surrounded by Picardy, the Ile de France (the domaine-royal of the Capets), by Maine, and Bretagne, and bordered on the north by La Manche, it was only joined to France by confiscation by Philippe-Auguste, from Jean Sans-Terre, some two hundred or more years after the advent of the third race of kings.

To-day it forms the Department of the Lower Seine, Eure, Le Calvados, La Manche, and a part of L’Orne.

Normandy was once doubtless a land of the Celts, who gradually withdrew to Bretagne. In time it became a part of Roman Gaul. The part once known as Neustria was ceded by Charles the Simple in 911 to the Norman descendants of Rollon, from whom it took its new name, Normandy.

The Dukes of Normandy became, after the conquest, Kings of England, and in 1154 the Counts of Anjou and of Maine inherited, through Henry Plantagenet, the throne of England, thus giving that country a line of Angevine kings.

This strong-growing power of the Norman dukes was broken by Philippe-Auguste, who conquered Normandy in 1204.

During the Hundred Years’ War the English many times invaded Normandy, but were finally driven out by the redoubtable Duguesclin.

Henry V. invaded France and took Harfleur in 1415, occupying all of the north and northwest of France. Charles VII. victoriously entered Rouen, and at Formigny again achieved the conquest of Normandy by the French. Louis XI. ceded Normandy to his brother.

Many ancient fiefs were contained in this great province, but the Comté d’Evreux, Comté d’Alençon, Comté d’Eu, and the Duché de Penthièvre were united definitely with the kingdom in 1789.

Previous to 1789 the ancient military government of the province was divided into Rouen, Caen, and Alençon.

By its reconstruction into departments the province lost two bishoprics, which were not reestablished by the Concordat, Lisieux and Avranches; and the latter lost, as well, nearly all vestiges of its former beautiful cathedral, before which Henry II. of England expiated his crime of the murder of Becket.

The Land of the Conqueror, trod by some of the greatest men the world has known in mediæval and modern times, has not, even now, in spite of its associations and accessibility, become a world-worn resort.

Students of art, architecture, and history, and a few tourists from London, who demand a change of scene in a near-by foreign land, reach its shores between Whitsun and the August Bank Holiday; but, popular supposition to the contrary, the traffic receipts of the steamship and railway companies do not indicate anything like a generous patronage of this ideal land for a present-day sentimental journey.

Normandy stands to-day as it stood in the middle ages, with many memorials and reminiscences of its feudal pomp and glory, with here and there a monument to Rollon, William the Conqueror, or Richard the Lion-hearted.

As it was three centuries or more ago, teeming with many a monument, cathedral, abbey, fortress, and château, so Normandy is to-day, except for the ruin wrought by the bloody hand of revolution. In spirit Normandy is still mediæval, and here and there are evidences of the even more ancient Roman or Celtic remains.

History gives the facts, and the guide-books conventional information. The most that the present work attempts is to recount the results of more or less intimate acquaintance with the land and its people, now and again bringing to light certain matters not to be met with in a briefer sojourn.



ONE of the joys of France to-day, as indeed it ever has been, is travel by road. The rail has its advantages, but it also has its disadvantages, whereas the most luxurious traveller by road, even if he be snugly tucked away in a sixty-horse royal Mercédes, is nothing more than an itinerant vagabond, and France is the land above all others for the sport.

As an industry to be developed and fostered, France early recognized the automobile as a new world-force, and the powers that be were convinced that the way should be smoothed for those who would, with the poet Henley, sing the song of speed.

With their inheritance of magnificent roadways, this was not difficult; for the French and mine host—or his French counterpart, who is really a more up-to-date individual than he is usually given the credit of being—rose gallantly to the occasion as soon as they saw the return of that trade which had grown beautifully less since the passing of the malle-poste and the diligence.

The paternalism of the French government is a wonderful thing. It not only stands sponsor for the preservation and restoration of historical monuments,—great churches, châteaux, and the like,—but takes a genial interest in automobilism as well.


Hills have been levelled and dangerous corners straightened, level crossings abolished or better guarded; and, where possible, the dread caniveaux—or water-gullies—which cross the roadway here and there have been filled up. More than all else, the execrable paved road, for which France has been noted, is fast being done away with. It is perhaps worth mentioning that the chief magistrate himself is not an automobilist; which places him in practically a unique position among the rulers of Europe.

At Bayeux, at Caen, at Lisieux, and at Evreux, in Normandy, one is on that great national roadway which runs from Paris to Cherbourg through the heart of the old province. This great roadway is numbered XIII. by the government, which considers its highways a national property, and is typical of all others of its class throughout France.

The military roads of France are famous, and automobilists and some others know their real value as a factor in the prosperity of a nation.

It is not as it was in 1689, when Madame de Sévigné wrote that it took three days to travel from Paris to Rouen. Now one does it, in an automobile, in three hours.

From Pont Audemer she wrote a few days later to Madame de Grignan: “We slept yesterday at Rouen, a dozen leagues away.” Continuing, she said: “I have seen the most beautiful country in all the world; I have seen all the charms of the beautiful Seine, and the most agreeable prairies in the world.... I had known nothing of Normandy before.... I was too young to appreciate.”

Certainly this is quite true of Normandy, now as then, and to travel by road will demonstrate it beyond doubt.

The roads in France were, for several centuries after the decline and fall of the Roman power, in a very dilapidated state, as the result of simple neglect. Louis XIV., in the latter part of the seventeenth century, made some good roads in the vicinity of Paris; but it was not until the end of the eighteenth century (1775) that the real work of road-making throughout the country began. It was in the time of Napoleon I. that most of the great national roads, which run through the country in various directions, were constructed. These roads were made largely for military purposes, and connect the chief towns and the French frontiers with Paris.

Besides the leading roads, there are also many other roads varying in degrees of importance, classed as follows:

(1) Routes Nationales. Constructed and maintained by the national government.

(2) Routes Départmentales. Constructed and maintained by the several departments at national expense.

(3) Chemins Vicinaux de Grande Communication. Passing through and connecting two or more communities, maintained and served by them, aided by government grant.

(4) Chemins Vicinaux de Moyenne Communication. Similar to Class III., but of less importance, and maintained at the cost of the people, but controlled by the department.

(5) Chemins de Petite Communication. Of still less importance, maintained by the communities separately under the supervision of government engineers.

(6) Chemins Ruraux. Roads of the least importance, and wholly controlled and maintained by the people without any interference from the government officials.

The art of road-building in France is only excelled by that of the Romans, and they unfortunately lived before the days of high-speed traffic and rubber-shod wheels.

The great national roads, usually tree-bordered, average but three in one hundred grade, the departmental roads four in one hundred, and the Chemins de Grande Communication five in one hundred. In all except very hilly districts, where of course there are deviations, this is the rule.

Napoleon’s idea was that these national highways were essentially a military means of communication, and as such they were laid out with a certain regularity and uniformity. Formerly they were largely paved with stone blocks. Who, among those who have travelled extensively by road in France, does not know the execrable pavements of the populated neighbourhoods through which these highways run? To-day these are largely disappearing. The roads in France suffer more from drought than from wet. They dry quickly after rain, and, in order to shade and protect the surface from the dry heat of summer, the planting of trees on the sides of the roads has been largely adopted. As showing the importance that has been attached to this matter, royal decrees were formerly passed, determining the manner of planting, the kind of trees to be used, and the penalties to be imposed on those who injured them.

Most of the roads of France, even the national roads, cross the railways on the level instead of over bridges. There are gate-keepers and gates for the protection of the public. At many of them the signalling is of a very primitive kind, and yet there are few accidents.

The history of the roads of France is the history of the nation since the conquest of ancient Gaul by the legions of Cæsar.

The Voie Auguste was the first, and bound Lyons with Italy by the Col du Petit St. Bernard, which to-day is actually National Road No. 90.

Agrippa made Lyons the centre of four great diverging roads; the first by the valley of the Rhine and the Meuse; the second by Autun to the port of Genosiacum, to-day Boulogne-sur-mer; the third by Auvergne toward Bordeaux; and the fourth by the valley of the Rhône to Aix and Marseilles.

From the decadence of the Western Empire and the invasion of the Barbarians, these fine roads were practically abandoned. Many good bridges were destroyed, and the work of road-building ceased completely, the people finding their way about by mere trails.

With the advent of Christianity in Gaul there was a partial renaissance of these Roman roads, thanks to great fairs and pilgrimages. The monastic orders became in a way the parents and protectors of bridges and roads, with St. Bénèzet at their head, who in the twelfth century constructed the wonderful Pont d’Avignon, which still stands.

The general system of the present-day national roads follows largely the old Roman means of communication, as well as those traced by nature, along the banks of rivers and on the flanks of mountains and in the valleys lying between. The great national roads of France form a class by themselves, independent of the departmental and communal roads. They approximate forty thousand kilometres, and run at a tangent from the capital itself and between the chief cities of the eighty odd departments which make up modern France.

In general, the designation of the road, its number, and classification are indicated on the kilometre marks with which every important road in France is marked.

The national roads, having their origin at Paris, have their distances marked from Notre Dame, and certain of the secondary cities are taken for the point of departure of other great roads.

A ministerial decree, put forth in 1853, decided that the national roads should have their distances marked from their entrance into each department, a regulation which has been followed nearly everywhere, except that distances are still reckoned from Paris on most of the great highroads of Normandy and Brittany.

Guide-posts are placed at all important cross-roads and pattes-d’oie (a goose-foot, literally).

An iron plaque, painted white and blue, beside the road, shows without any possibility of mistake the commune in which it is situated, the next important place in either direction, and frequently the next town of considerable proportions, even though it may be half a hundred kilometres distant.

Road Plaques Touring Club de France

French roads are indeed wonderfully well marked; and these little blue and white plaques, put up by the roadside or fastened on the wall of some dwelling at the entrance or the exit of a village or town, must number hundreds of thousands.

In these days of fast-rushing automobiles a demand has sprung up for a more striking and legible series of special sign-boards along certain roads, in order that he who runs may read. And so the Touring Club of France, on the great road which runs from Paris through Normandy, to Havre and Dieppe, for instance, has erected a series of large-lettered and abbreviated sign-boards, which are all that could be desired.

Besides these, there are other enigmatical symbols and signs erected by paternal societies of road users which will strike a stranger dumb with conjecture as to what they may mean.

They are all essentially practical, however, as the following tableau will show. It is very important indeed for an automobilist or other road user to know that a railway-gate (like enough to be shut) awaits him around a sharp curve, or that a steep hill is hidden just behind a bank of trees.

Descente rapide. Montée. Passage à niveau. Virage à droite. Virage à gauche. Mauvais pavé. Virage avec montée. Virage avec descente. Rails en saillie sur route. Dos d’âne. Caniveau. Passage en dessous. Croisement dangereux. Descente sinueuse avec mauvais virages. Village. Road Signs in France

Still another class of signs met with by road users in France is most helpful. They, too, shoot out a warning which one may read as he rushes by at high speed; printed in great staring letters, one, two, or three words which one dare not, if he values his life, ignore.

Truly one who goes astray or contravenes any law of the road in France has only himself to blame.

The chief national roads crossing Normandy are as follows:

—Paris to Havre, by the right bank of the
    Seine, passing Poissy, Melun, La Roche-Guyon,
    Les Andelys, and Rouen.
"190.—Paris to Rouen and Honfleur, by the left
    bank of the Seine.
"13.—Paris to Cherbourg, via Evreux and Caen.
"26.—Paris to Fécamp by Yvetot.
"14.—Paris to Dieppe.
"14, bis. Paris to Tréport.
"155.—Paris to St. Malo, via Mayenne.
"24, bis.Paris to Granville by Verneuil.
—Paris to Coutances by Bayeux and St. Lô.
"10.—Paris to Vannes, via Ploërmel.
"10.—Paris to Quimper, via Rennes and Lorient.
"10.—Paris to Brest, via Versailles, Alençon,
"12.—Laval, Rennes, and St. Brieuc.
"10.—Paris to Nantes and Paimbœuf, via Versailles,
    Chartres, Le Mans, Angers, and

After the fall of the Roman Empire the magnificent roadways which threaded Gaul in every direction all but disappeared, and for a time the horse was employed only with the saddle, the more or less indolent nobles travelling mostly by vehicles drawn by oxen.

By the middle ages the horse had come to be admired as a noble animal by virtue of his usefulness in war; but the routes of communication were hardly more than simple tracks and by no means replaced the great rivers, which Pascal had called “ces chemins qui marchent.” Indeed the “coches d’eau” had not entirely disappeared from the waterways of France until 1830.

The first carriages at all approaching the modern fashion were imported from Italy in the sixteenth century, doubtless by the Medicis. In 1550 there were three, only, in Paris, but under Louis XIV. the roads became more carefully guarded and increased greatly in number.

The great carrosses and calèches of the early days were ponderous affairs, a calèche known as a litière, the precursor of the modern sleeping-car, it would seem, having a weight of 2,500 kilos.

The following lines well describe it:

“C’est un embarras étrange,
Qu’un grand carrosse dans la fange,
C’est presque un village roulant....”


Under Louis XV. the carrosse became lighter and the chaise on two wheels came in. Then followed cabriolets, berlines, and the poste-chaise, and finally the malle-poste and the diligence.

The most familiar of all, to those of a few generations ago, and to readers of travel literature, is the diligence.

These great carriages apparently had a most respectable lease of life, many having been in service for a great many years. To-day they have mostly disappeared, and in Normandy and Brittany practically exist not at all, so far as the tourist traveller is concerned, though once and again they may be useful on a cross-country road in order to connect with the railroad.

It was only as late as 1760, however, that a public service of these diligences was established. At that time the coaches left Paris on stated days and travelled with unwonted regularity. The diligence to Rennes, in the heart of Bretagne, was timed for four days’ travelling, and five days was employed for the journey to the old Breton capital of Nantes, on the Loire.

These great carriages, commonly known as “Royales,” were hung on springs and drawn by eight horses. They did not travel as quickly as the malle-poste, but their rates were somewhat less, and they performed the common service before the advent of steam and the rail.

There was nothing very luxurious or grand about them, but they were majestic and picturesque, and they sometimes carried a load, including passengers and luggage, of five thousand kilos.

Closely allied with roads is the general topography of a country as shown by its maps.

No country has such a marvellous series of maps of its soil as has France. The maps of the Minister of the Interior and the Etat Major are wonders of the art, and no traveller in Normandy or Brittany, or indeed any other part of France, should be without them. They are obtainable at any bookseller’s in a large town, and the prices are remarkably low; ranging from thirty centimes a sheet for the map of the Etat Major, printed only in black, to eighty centimes a sheet for the map of the Minister of the Interior, printed in colours.

The following conventional signs will show the extreme practicability of the maps of the Etat Major, which are made on four different scales, the most useful being that of 1-80,000. The maps of the Minister of the Interior are made only on the scale of 1-100,000.

Now and then on these great highroads of France, of which those of Normandy and Brittany are representative, one passes a headquarters or a barracks of the gendarmerie, those servitors of the law, the national police, an organization which grew up out of the men-at-arms or gens d’armes of Charles VII.

These great barracks are veritable monasteries, where the religion of faithful duty to the public and the nation reigns supreme. One never passes one of these impressive establishments without a full appreciation of the motto of the knightly Bayard, so frequently graven over their doors: “Sans peur et sans reproche.”

Explanation of the Maps of the Etat Major

The Assembly, in 1790, first instituted this almost perfectly organized police force, and Napoleon himself thought so highly of them that he wrote to Berthier in 1812: “Take not the police with you, but conserve them for the guarding of the country-side. Two or three hundred soldiers are as nothing, but two or three hundred police will assure the tranquillity and good order of the people at large.”

To-day, in times of peace, twenty-seven legions of police assure the security of the country-side; an effective force of about twenty-five thousand men and 725 officers, of whom a comparative few only are mounted.

A colonel or a lieutenant-colonel is placed at the head of a legion, a company being allotted to each department. The company is commanded by a major; then comes the district, placed under the orders of a captain or a lieutenant; the section, commanded by a junior officer; and finally a squad with a non-commissioned officer or corporal at its head.

Independent of crime and its details, the police are responsible as well for the maintenance of order in general.

The pay for all this, it is to be regretfully noted, is not at all commensurate. An unmounted policeman receives but 2 fr. 81 c. per day, and if he is mounted but 3 fr. 23 c. per day.



THE forests of France are a source of never-ending interest and pride to the Frenchman, of whatever station in life.

They are admirably preserved and cared for, and a paternal ministerial department guards them as jealously as a fond mother guards her children.

No cutting of trees is allowed, except according to a prescribed plan; and, when a new road is cut through,—and those superlative roadways of France run straight as the crow flies through many of the finest forest tracts,—as likely as not an old one is replanted.

The process of replanting goes on from day to day, and one sees no depleted forests of a former time, which are to-day a graveyard of bare stumps.

If there is any regulation as to tree-planting in these great forests, it would seem, to a casual observer, to be that where one tree has grown before two are to be made grow in its place.

There is a popular regard among all travellers in France for Fontainebleau, Versailles, and perhaps Chantilly, but there are other tree-grown areas, quite as charming, little known to the general traveller: Rambouillet, for instance, and Villers-Cotterets, of which Dumas writes so graphically in “The Wolf Leader.”

Normandy has more than its share of these splendid forests, some of them of great extent and charm. Indeed, the forest domain of Lyons, in Upper Normandy, one of the most extensive in all France, is literally covered with great beeches and oaks, surrounding small towns and hamlets, and an occasional ruined château or abbey, which makes a sojourn within its confines most enjoyable to all lovers of outdoor life.

Surrounding the old Norman capital of Rouen are five great tracts which serve the inhabitants of that now great commercial city as a summer playground greatly appreciated.

Game of various sorts still exists; deer in plenty, apparently, together with smaller kinds; and now and then one will hear tales of bears, which are, however, almost unbelievable.

In some regions—the forests of Louviers, for instance—the wild boar still exists. The chase for the wild boar, with the huntsmen following somewhat after the old custom (with a horn-blower, who is most theatrical in his get-up, and his followers, armed with lances and pikes in quite old-time fashion), is, as may be imagined, a most novel sight.

The forests of Roumare and Mauny, occupying the two peninsulas formed by the winding Seine just below Rouen, are remarkable, and are like nothing else except the other forests in France.

There are fine roadways crossing and recrossing in all directions, beautifully graded, with overhanging oaks and beeches, and as well kept as a city boulevard.

Deer are still abundant, and the whole impression which one receives is that of a genuine wildwood, and not an artificial preserve.

In the picturesque forest of Roumare is hidden away the tiny village of Genetey, which has for an attraction, besides its own delightful situation, an ancient Maison de Templiers of the thirteenth century, a well of great depth, and a chapel to St. Gargon, of the sixteenth century, built in wood, with some fine sculptures and paintings, which was at one time a favourite place for pious pilgrims from Rouen.

Not far away is Henouville, with a sixteenth-century church, lighted by five great windows of extraordinary proportions. The choir encloses the remains of Legendre, the almoner of Louis XIII., who was curé of Henouville, and whose fame as a horticulturist was as great as that brought him by his official position.

The near-by Château du Belley and its domain is now turned into a farm.

La Fontaine, a hamlet situated directly on the Seine bank, is overshadowed by a series of high rocks of most fantastic form, known as the chair, or pulpit, of Gargantua.

The forest of La Londe, of 2,154 hectares, on the opposite bank of the Seine from Rouen, is a remarkable tract of woodland, its oaks and beeches quite reminiscent of Fontainebleau. The trees as a whole are the most ancient and grand of those of any of the forests of Normandy. Two which have been given names are known respectively as Bel-Arsène, a magnificent beech of eleven great branches, planted in 1773, and the Chêne de la Côte Rôtie, supposed to have the ripe old age of 450 years; and it looks its age.

The forest of Londe is what the French geographer would describe as pittoresque et accidentée. It is all this would lead one to infer; and, together with the forest of the Rouvray, exceeds any other in Normandy, except the forest domain of Lyons.

At the crossing of the Grésil road is the Chêne-à-la-Bosse, having a circumference of three and a half metres; and, near by, one sees the Hêtre-à-l’Image, a great beech of fantastic form.

Amid a savage and entirely unspoiled grandeur is a series of caves and grottoes, of themselves of no great interest, but delightfully environed.

Near Elbeuf, on the edge of the forest of Londe, are the Roches d’Orival, a series of rock-cut grottoes and caverns,—a little known spot to the majority of travellers in the Seine valley. Practically the formation begins at Elbeuf itself, onward toward Rouen, by the route which follows the highroad to the Norman capital via Grand Couronne. At Port du Gravier, on the bank of the Seine, is a sixteenth-century chapel cut in the rock, like its brethren or sisters at St. Adrien on the opposite bank, and at Haute Isle, just above Vernon.

At Roche-Foulon are numerous rock-caverns still inhabited, and at the Roche du Pignon begins a series of curiously weathered and crumbled rocks, most weird and bizarre.

On a neighbouring hill are the ruins of Château Fouet, another of those many riverside fortresses attributed to Richard Cœur de Lion.

The forest domain of Lyons is the finest beech-wood in all France, and its 10,614 hectares (rather more than thirty thousand acres) was in the middle ages the favourite hunting-ground of the Dukes of Normandy. It is the most ample of all the forests of Normandy.

There are at least three trips which forest-lovers should take if they come to the charming little woodland village of Lyons-le-Forêt. It will take quite two days to cover them, and the general tourist may not have sufficient time to spare. Still, if he is so inclined, and wants to know what a really magnificent French forest is like to-day, before it has become spoiled and overrun (as is Fontainebleau), this is the place to enjoy it to the full.

The old Château of Lyons, and the tiny hamlets of Taisniers, Hogues, Héron, and the feudal ruins of Malvoisine, are a great source of pleasure to those who have become jaded with the rush of cities and towns.

The château of the Marquis de Pommereu d’Aligré, in the valley of the Héron, can be seen and visited, or rather the park may be (the park and château together are only thrown open to the public on the fête patronale—the first Sunday of September). Croissy-sur-Andelle is another forest village, and the Val St. Pierre, a sort of dry river-bed carpeted with a thick undergrowth, is quite as fine as anything of the kind at Fontainebleau.

At Petit Val is a magnificent beech five and a half metres in circumference, and supposed to be four hundred years old.

At Le Tronquay there is a great school, over whose entrance doorway one reads on a plaque that it is—

Commemorative de la délivrance des paroissiens du Tronquay admis à porter la fierté de St. Romain de Rouen, le 5 mai, jour de l’ascencion, de l’anne 1644.

At the end of a double row of great firs, lie the ruins of the Château de Richbourg, built by Charles IX.

La Fenille is a small market-town, quite within the forest, where one may get luncheon for the modest price of two francs, cider and coffee included, if he wanders so far from Lyons-le-Forêt as this.



Here there are the remains of some of the dungeons and the brick walls of a château built by Philippe-le-Bel. The tiny church dates from 1293, and in the cemetery is a sculptured cross of the time of Henri IV.

In the canton of Catelier are found the most remarkable trees of the whole forest. One great trunk alone, which was recently cut down, gave over thirty stères of wood; which means nothing as a mere statement, but which looked, as it was piled by the roadside, to be a mass of timber great enough to fill the hold of a ship.

At the source of the Levrière, a limpid forest stream, is the manor-house of the Fontaine du Houx, of the sixteenth century, belonging to a M. Hebert. If one is diplomatic he may get permission to enter to view the bedroom of Agnes Sorel, that royal favourite of other days whose reputation is a bit higher than those of some of her contemporaries.

The doorkeeper will gladly accept a tip, so the visitor need have no hesitancy in making the demand, though he will have to choose his words.

The old manor is a fine representative of a mediæval house, surrounded by a great moat and garnished with a series of turrets. The chief features, outside of the apartment in which slept the gentle Agnes, are a fine staircase, a tower with a drawbridge over the moat, and, in the vestibule, a fine tapestry from the Château de la Haie.

The Château de Fleury, at Fleury la Forêt, is a fine structure, dating from 1645, and at Croix-Mesnil is the Château Louis XIII., which formed the dwelling of the grand master of rivers and forests in that monarch’s time.

By no means are these all of the interesting attractions of this great national forest, but it ought to be sufficient to inspire the true forest-lover to seek out other beauties for himself.

The road of the Gros Chêne, called also the “Chêne de la Londe,” and “l’Homme Mort,” and aged perhaps four hundred years, leads to the Carrefour des Quatre Cantons, near which is the Chapelle Ste. Catherine; a famous place of pilgrimage where, according to popular belief, any young girl who brings a bouquet to the shrine, and says a mass, is assured of marrying within a year. After this there is another act of devotion to be gone through—or is it a superstition in this case? She must bring thither the pins from her marriage veil.

The Abbey of Mortemer, founded in 1134 by the monks of the order of Citeux, is another architectural monument with a remarkably picturesque woodland site. The living-rooms (seventeenth century) have been restored, but the church, of three centuries before, is quite in a ruinous condition, though a great open-ended transept remains, as well as a fine rose window and some of the beautifully arched walls of the old cloister.

Chapelle Ste. Catherine

Chapelle Ste. Catherine

The Ferme des Fiefs, and the Château de Rosay, situated in a charming park, where the Lieure falls in a series of tiny cascades, about completes the list of the forest’s attractions; but its hidden beauties and yet undiscovered charms are many.

Perhaps some day the forest domain of Lyons will have an artist colony, or a number of them, such as are found in the encircling villages of the forest of Fontainebleau, but at present there are none, though it is belief of the writer that the aspect of nature unspoiled is far better here than at the more popular Fontainebleau.

enlarge-image enlarge-image
Map of Normandy



TO those upon whom has fallen the desire to travel amid historic sights and scenes, no part of France offers so much that is so accessible, so economically covered, or as interesting as the coasts and plains and river valleys of Normandy.

If possible they should lay out their journey beforehand, and if time presses make a tour that shall comprise some one distinct region only; as the Seine valley from Havre to La Roche-Guyon; the coast from Tréport to Caen, or even Granville, or Mont St. Michel; or following a line which runs more inland from Rouen by Lisieux, Falaise, and the valley of the Orne, to the famous Mont on the border of Brittany. They may indeed combine this last with a little tour which should take in the north Breton coast and even cross to the Channel Isles; but if it is the Normandy coast or the Norman country-side of the Seine valley which they desire to know fully, and if time be limited, they should confine themselves to either one route or the other.

Normandy divides itself topographically into the three itineraries mentioned: “The Coast,” “The Seine Valley,” and the “Inland Route.” They may be combined readily enough, or they may be taken separately; but to nibble a bit at one, a little at another, and still less at a third, and then rush on to Paris and its distractions, or to some seaside place where brass bands and a casino form the principal attractions, is not the way to have an intimate, personal, and wholly delightful experience of “la belle Normandie.”

A skeleton plan of each of these itineraries will be found, and further details of a practical nature also, elsewhere in this book.

One’s expenses may be what they will. By rail, twelve to fifteen francs a day will amply pay the bill, and by road, on bicycle or automobile, they can be made to approximate as much or as little as one’s tastes demand; nor will the quality of the accommodation and fare vary to an appreciable degree in either case. Even the automobilist with his sixty-horse Mercédes, while he may be suspected of being a millionaire American or an English lord, will not necessarily be adjudged so, and will be charged according to the tariff of the “Touring Club,” or other organization of which he may be a member. If he demands superior accommodation, a sitting-room as well as a bedroom, or a fire and a hot bath, he will pay extra for that, as well as for the vin supérieur which he may wish instead of the ordinaire of the table d’hôte, or the café which he drinks after his meal.

The old simile still holds good. The franc in France will usually purchase the value of a shilling in England. There is not much difference with respect to one shilling; but an appalling sum in a land of cheap travel, when one has let a thousand of them pass through his hands.

The leading hotels of the great towns and cities of Rouen, Havre, and Cherbourg rise almost to the height of the charges of those of the French capital itself; and those of Trouville-Deauville or Dieppe to perhaps even higher proportions, if one requires the best accommodation. The true peripatetic philosopher, however, will have naught to do with these, but will seek out for himself—unless some one posts him beforehand—such humble, though excellent inns as the “Trois Marchands,” or the “Mouton d’Argent.

These are the real hotels of the country, where one lives bountifully for six to eight francs a day, and eats at the table d’hôte with an informative commercial traveller, or a keenly mindful small landholder of the country-side, who, if it is market-day, will as like as not be dressed in a black blouse.

One criticism may justly be made of many of the hotels in Normandy, though mostly this refers only to such tourist establishments as one finds at Dieppe or Trouville. It is that the table wine is often charged for at two francs a bottle, while it ought to be served without extra charge, and is elsewhere in France. In many commercial hotels this is not the custom, but too frequently it is so, and, considering that the hôteliers of Normandy buy their wine in a much more favourable market, by reason of its cheap transport by sea, than their brethren of Lozère or the Cantal, where wine is never thought of as an extra, it seems somewhat of an imposition to one who knows his France well.

The beef and mutton of Normandy is of most excellent quality, coming from fine animals who are only used if they are in the best condition.

This statement is made with a knowledge based upon some years’ residence, to allay the all too prevalent opinion that French meat is of inferior quality, and is only palatable because well disguised in the cooking. This is a fetish which ought long ago to have been burned. The fish one gets in Normandy is always fresh and remarkably varied, as well as the shell-fish (crevettes, meaning usually shrimp or prawns). The oysters are of course famous, for no one ever heard of a Courseulles bivalve which had typhoid tendencies.

The railway has proved a great civilizer in France, and everywhere is found a system of communicating lines which are almost perfect.

The great artery of the Western Railroad reaches out through all Normandy and Brittany, and its trunk lines to Dieppe, Havre, Cherbourg, and Brest leave nothing to be desired in the way of appointments and expedition.

The only objection, that the economical traveller can justify, is that second and third class tickets are often not accepted for distances under a hundred or a hundred and fifty kilometres; and, accordingly, he is forced to wait the accommodation train, which, truth to tell, is not even a little brother of the express-train. If it is any relation at all, it is a stepchild merely.

At all events, the railway service throughout France is well systematized and efficient, and Ruskin’s diatribe against railways in general was most unholy. Lest it may have been forgotten, as many of his ramblings have, and should be, it is repeated here. “Railways are to me the loathsomest form of devilry now extant, animated and deliberate earthquakes” (we know what he thought of bicycles, and we wonder with fear what may have been his strictures on the automobile had he lived a few years longer), “destructive of all wise, social habits and possible natural beauty, carriages of damned souls on the ridges of their own graves.” This, from a prophet and a seer, makes one thank Heaven the tribe was blind.

Travel by rail is a simple and convenient process in Normandy, as indeed it is in all France. There is no missing of trains at lonesome junctions, and the time-tables are admirably and lucidly planned.

In the larger towns all the stations have a bureau of information which will smooth the way for the traveller if he will not take it upon himself to consult that almost perfect series of railway time-tables found in every café and hotel throughout France. He registers his baggage and gets a receipt for it, like the “checks” of the American railways, by paying two sous; or he may send it by express (not by freight, for there is too little difference in price), or as unaccompanied baggage, which will ensure its being forwarded by the first passenger-train, and at a most reasonable charge.

The economical way of travelling in France, and Normandy in particular, is third class; and the carriages, while bare and hard-seated, are thoroughly warmed in winter, and are as clean as those of their kind anywhere; perhaps more so than in England and America, where the stuffy cushions harbour much dirt and other objectionable things.

Second class very nearly approaches the first class in point of price, and is very nearly as luxurious; while first class itself carries with it comparative exclusiveness at proportionately high charges.

More important, to the earnest and conscientious traveller, is the fact that often, for short distances between near-by places, a convenient train will be found not to carry third-class passengers; and to other places, a little less widely separated, not even second class; although third and second class passengers are carried by the same train for longer distances. This is about the only inconvenience one suffers from French railways, and makes necessary a careful survey of the time-table, where the idiosyncrasies of individual trains are clearly marked.

Excursion trains of whatever class are decidedly to be avoided. They depart and return from Paris, Trouville, Dieppe, or some other popular terminus at most inconveniently uncomfortable hours, and are invariably overcrowded and not especially cheap.

The attractions of Normandy for the traveller are so many and varied that it would be practically impossible to embrace them all in any one itinerary without extending its limit of time beyond that at the disposal of most travellers.

From Tréport, on the borders of Picardy, to Arromanches, near Bayeux, is an almost uninterrupted line of little and big seashore towns whose chief industry consists of catering to summer visitors.

From Arromanches to Mont St. Michel, the seaside resorts are not so crowded, and are therefore the more enjoyable, unless one demands the distractions of great hotels, golf-links, and tea-rooms.

In the Seine valley, beginning with La Roche-Guyon, on the borders of the ancient royal domain, down to the mouth of the mighty river at Havre, is one continuous panorama of delightful large and small towns, not nearly so well known as one might suppose. Vernon with its tree-bordered quays; Giverny, and its artists colony; Les Andelys with their “saucy castle” built by Richard Cœur de Lion; Pont de l’Arche with the florid Gothic church dedicated to Our Lady of the Arts; the riverside resorts above Rouen; Elbeuf with its busy factories, but picturesque and historic withal; Rouen, the ancient Norman capital; La Bouille-Molineux; the great abbeys of Jumièges, St. Wandrille and St. Georges de Boscherville; Caudebec-en-Caux; Lillebonne; Harfleur; Honfleur, and Havre form a compelling array of sights and scenes which are quite irresistible.

On the northeastern coast are Etretat, famed of artists of generations ago; Fécamp with the associations of its ancient abbey; Dieppe; the Petites Dalles; St. Valery-en-Caux; Eu with its château; and Tréport and its attendant little seashore villages.

Inland, and southward, through the Pays-de-Caux, are Lyons-le-Forêt, which, as its name bespeaks, is a little forest-surrounded town, quite unworldly, and eight kilometres from a railway; Gournay; Forges-les-Eaux, a decayed seaport town; Gisors; and the charming little villages of the valleys of the Andelle and the Ept.

Follow up the Eure from its juncture with the Seine at the Pont de l’Arche, and one enters quite another region, quite different from that on the other side of the Seine.

The chief towns are Louviers, a busy cloth-manufacturing centre with an art treasure of the first rank in its beautifully flamboyant church; and Evreux with its bizarre cathedral, headquarters of the Department of the Eure; while northward and westward, by Conches and Beaumont-le-Roger to Caen and Bayeux, lies a wonderful country of picturesque and historic towns, such as Lisieux; Bernay, famous for its horse-fair; Falaise, the birthplace of William the Conqueror; and Dives, where he set sail for England’s shores,—names which will awaken memories of the past in a most vivid fashion.

Westward of the valley of the Orne lies the Cotentin, with the cathedral towns of Avranches, Coutances, and St. Lô, and Mont St. Michel, which of itself is a sort of boundary stone between Normandy and Brittany.

The monumental curiosities of the province and the natural attractions are all noted in the plans which are here given; and from them, and this descriptive outline, one should be able to map out for himself a tour most suitable to correspond to his inclinations.

There is this much to say of Normandy, in addition: it is the most abundantly supplied of all the ancient French provinces with artistic and natural sights and curiosities, and above all is compact and accessible.

There is one real regret that will strike one with regard to the journeyings in the valley of the Seine. There is no way of making the trip by water above Rouen. From Havre to Rouen, one may journey in a day on a little steamer, a most enjoyable trip; and at Rouen one finds the little “fly-boats,”—reminiscent of the bateaux mouches of Paris,—which will take one for a half a dozen miles in either direction for astonishingly low fares.

Pont de l’Arche, however, and Muids, and that most picturesquely situated of all northern French towns, Les Andelys, onward to Tosny, and still up-river, by Port Mort to Vernon, there is no communication by water for the passenger, though the great barges and canal-boats pass and repass a given point scores of times in a day, carrying coal, wine, cotton, and other merchandise, through the very finest scenery of the Seine.

A few words on the French language are inevitable with every author of a book of French travel, and so they are given here. There is a current idea that English is the language for making one’s way about. Try it in Normandy or Brittany, in the average automobile garage, the post-office, or the railway station, or on the custodian of some great church or château, and you will prove its fallacy.

At Rouen, Havre, or Dieppe, and at the great tourist hotels it is different; but in the open country seldom, if ever, will you come across one who can speak or understand a single word of English; save an occasional chauffeur who may have seen service on some titled person’s motor-car in England, and knows “all right,” “pretty soon,” and “go ahead” to perfection.

The writer notes two exceptions. Doubtless there may be others.

At the quaint little Seine-side town of Vetheuil, near La Roche-Guyon, which fits snugly in the southeast corner of Normandy, one enters the tobacco-shop to buy a picture post-card, perhaps, of its quaint little church, so loved by artists, and there he will find an unassuming little man who retails tobacco to the natives and souvenir postal cards to strangers while chatting glibly in either tongue.

At the Hôtel Bellevue in Les Andelys is a waitress who speaks excellent English; though you may be a guest of the house for months and talk in English daily with your artist-neighbour across the table, and not know that she understands a word of what you say,—which surely indicates great strength of mind on the part of this estimable woman, though the circumstance has proved embarrassing.

In this connection it is curious to note the influx of English words into the Gallic tongue. Most of these words have been taken up by the world of sport and fashion, and have not yet reached the common people.

One can, if he is ingenious, carry on quite a conversation with a young man about town, whom one may meet at table d’hôte or at a café, either at the capital or in the larger towns, without knowing a word of French, and without his realizing that he knows English.

Gentleman,” “tennis,” and “golf”; “yacht,” “yachting,” and “mail-coach”; “garden-party,” “handicap,” and “jockey,”—all these are equally well-known and understood of the modern Frenchman. “Very smart” is heard once and again of a “swell” turnout drawn by a pair of “high-steppers.”

For clothing the Frenchman of fashion affects “waterproofs,” “snow-boots,” “leggings,” and “knickerbockers,” and he travels in a “sleeping-car” when he can afford their outrageously high charges. When it comes to his menu—more’s the pity—he too often affects the “mutton-chop” and the “beefsteak” in the “grill-room” of a “music-hall.”

The fact is only mentioned here as showing a widespread affectation, which, in a former day, was much more confined and restricted.

In the wine country, in Touraine and on the coast, you will hear the “black rot” talked of, and in Normandy, at Havre, you will see a crowd of “dockers” discussing vehemently—as only Normans can—the latest “lockout.”

All this, say the discerning French, is a madness that can be cured. “Allons, parlons français!” that is the remedy; and matters have even gone so far as to form an association which should propagate the French tongue to the entire exclusion of the foreign, in the same way as there is a patriotic alliance to prevent the “invasion étrangère.”

The Norman patois is, perhaps, no more strange than the patois of other parts of France. At any rate it is not so difficult to understand as the Breton tongue, which is only possible to a Welshman—and his numbers are few.

The Parisians who frequent Trouville revile the patois of Normandy; but then the Parisian does not admit that any one speaks the real French but he and his fellows. In Touraine they claim the same for their own capital.

Henry Moisy claims the existence, in the Norman’s common speech of to-day, of more than five thousand words which are foreign to the French language.

The Normandy patois, however, is exceedingly amusing and apropos. The author has been told when hurrying down a country road to the railway that there is plenty of time; the locomotive “hasn’t laughed yet,” meaning it had not whistled. Again at table d’hôte, when one has arrived late, and there remains only one small fish for two persons, you may be told that you will have to put up with “œufs à la coque” instead, as there is only “une souris à treize chats.” It is not an elegant expression, but it is characteristic.

Victor Hugo had the following to say concerning Norman French:

“Oh, you brave Normans! know you that your patois is venerable and sacred. It is a flower which sprang from the same root as the French.

“Your patois has left its impress upon the speech of England, Sicily, and Judea, at London, Naples, and at the tomb of Christ. To lose your speech is to lose your nationality, therefore, in preserving your idiom you are preserving your patriotism.”

“Yes, your patois is venerable and your first poet was the first of poètes français:

“Je di e dirai ke je suis
Wace de Jersuis.”

The following compilation of Norman idioms shows many curious and characteristic expressions. The definitions are given in French, simply because of the fact that many of them would quite lose their point in translation.

Amuseux.—Fainéant, qui muse: “C’est pas un mauvais homme, seulement il est un brin amuseux.”

Annuyt.—Aujourd’hui. “J’aime mieux annuyt qu’à demain.”

Andouille à treize quiens (chiens).—Petit héritage pour beaucoup d’héritiers; on dit aussi “une souris à treize cats (chats).”

Apanage.—Possession embarrassante; “Ma chère, c’est tout un apanage de maison à tenir.”

Chibras.—Paquet, monceau, fouillis, amas de choses en désordre. Se trouve dans Rabelais.

Quant et.—En compagnie de, “j’m’en vais à quant et té.”

A queutée.—Rangée à la queue leu leu, “une à queutée de monde.”

Assemblée.—Fête villageoise.

Assiette faîtée.—Assiette dont le contenu s’élève au-dessus, en faîte, littéralement en forme de faîte: “C’est un faim-vallier, il ne mange que par assiettes faîtées.”

Du feur.—Fourrage, vieux mot d’origine Scandinave, d’où vient le fourrier.

D’s’horains.—Mot honfleurais; dans l’ancien langage des marins de Honneur, on appelait des horains les plus gros câbles des navires. Par image, le mot est entré et resté dans le langage usuel, pour amarre. D’où la très jolie locution honfleuraise, dont quelques vieilles gens font encore usage, sans trop en savoir le vrai sens original. “Il a queuq’horain.” Il est amoureux, il a quelques fortes attaches.

Et simplement: “Chacun a ses horains.”—Chacun a ses habitudes (en mauvaise part).

Crassiner.—Pleuvoir d’une petite pluie fine qui a nom crassin ou crachin et ressemble à du crachat qui encrasse les objets.

I’s ont té el’vés commes trois petits quiens dans un’ manne auprès du feu.

I’ li cause.—D’un amoureux, il lui fait la cour.

I’s parle.—Se dit d’un paysan qui cherche à parler le langage de la ville.

Le temps est au conseil.—Jolie expression maritime pour dire que le temps est incertain.—Le “conseil” délibère s’il fera beau ou vilain.

Se démenter.—Se donner du trouble d’esprit, pour quelque chose.

A Villerville, les pêcheurs sont tous des maudits monstres et des maudits guenons, termes d’amitié.—Les femmes sont des “por’ti cœurs.”

Pouchiner.—Caresser un enfant comme une poule son poussin.

Adirer.—Perdre, égarer.

Espérer quelqu’un.—Attendre.

Capogner.—Chiffonner avec force, déformer.

Se chairer.—S’asseoir en prenant toute la place, se carrer.

Mitan.—Le milieu, le centre (tout au mitan).

Le coupet.—Le sommet (au fin coupet de l’arbre).



Un repaire.—Se dit d’un homme vicieux. “Ne me parlez pas de celui-là, c’est un repaire.”

Atiser, ratiser.—Corriger par des coups: “j’t’ vas ratiser.”

Atourotter.—Enrouler autour; “l’serpent l’atourottit et l’étouffit.”

Attendiment.—En attendant que; “soigne le pot au feu, attendiment que j’vas queri du bois.”

A c’t’heure.—Maintenant: A cette heure, vieux français employé dans Montaigne.


Barbelotte.—Bête à bon Dieu, coccinelle.

Bavoler.—Voler près de terre; “i va ché d’qui (il va tomber quelque chose), les hirondelles bavolent.”

Qu’ri.—Quérir, chercher.

D’la partie.—En partant de là, depuis; “d’la partie de Pont-l’Evêque, j’sommes venus à Honfleur.”

A l’enrait.—A cet endroit.

Piler.—Fouler aux pieds; “ne m’pile pas su le pied.”

S’commercer sur, s’marchander sur.—Faire des affaires; “i s’marchande su’ les grains.”

Aloser.—Louanger, dire du bien de.

Allouvi.—Avoir une faim de loup: “j’sommes allouvis.”

Détourber.—Déranger, détourner.

Crépir.—“I’s’crépit d’su’ses argots.” Se dit d’un coq.

A ses accords.—A ses ordres. “Si tu cré que j’sis à ses accords.”

A ses appoints.—Même sens.

Demoiselle.—Petite mesure de liquide. Ce qu’une demoiselle peut boire d’eau-de-vie ou de cidre.

Dans par où.—Laisser tout dans par où; commencer un ouvrage sans l’achever.

Goublain.—Revenant, fantôme, diable des matelots; ils apparaissent en mer sous la forme des camarades noyés. En passant “sous Grâce” ou quand on fait le signe de la croix, le goublain se jette à l’eau; Kobold des conteurs du Nord.

Décapler.—S’en aller, mourir. “Le pauvre bougre est décaplé.” Terme maritime.


Une bordée.—Compagnie nombreuse.


C’est un char de guerre.—Se dit d’une personne brutale. Même signification que Cerbère, porte de prison.

La terre est poignardée.—La terre est corrompue.

Le monde tire à sa fin.—Pour exprimer l’étonnement d’un fait rare, extraordinaire, une découverte.

Où Dieu baille du train, il donne du pain.—Dieu protège les nombreuses familles.

Cramail.—Le con, “prendre au cramail.”

La belle heure.—“Je ne vois pas la belle heure de faire cela!” Ce ne sera pas commode.

J’va pas voulé ça.—Oh! mais non, par exemple.

Pièce.—“J’nai pièce:” je n’en ai pas.

Heurer.—“Il est heuré pour ses repas.” Il a ses heures régulières.

Heurible.—Précoce. Un pommier “heurible.”

Ingamo.—“Avoir de l’ingamo,” avoir de l’esprit.

Cœuru.—Qui a du cœur, dru, solide.

Faire sa bonne sauce.—Présenter les choses à son avantage.

Pas bileux.—Qui ne se fait pas de bile.

D’un bibet il fait un eléphant.—Il exagère tout.

En cas qu’ça sé.—En cas que cela soit, dubitatif ironique, pour: cela n’est pas vrai.

Cousue de chagrin.—Une fille cousue de chagrin, elle ferait pleurait les cailloux du chemin.

Suivez le cheu li.—On dit que c’est un brave homme; avant de le croire, suivez-le chez lui. Dans l’intimité, l’on se montre ce qu’on est.

Plus la haie est basee, plus le monde y passe.—Plus vous êtes malheureux, moins on a d’égards pour vous.

Les filles, les prêtres, les pigeons,

No sait ben d’où qu’i viennent.

No n’sait point où qu’i vont.

N’y a cô qu’sé à ses noces.—Il n’est rien de tel que soi-même pour veiller à ses intérêts.

L’ergent ça s’compte deux fé.—L’argent se compte deux fois.

Veux-tu être hureu un jour? Saoule té!

Veux-tu être hureu trois jours? Marie té!

Veux-tu être hureu huit jours? Tue tan cochan!

Veux-tu être hureu toute ta vie? Fais té curé!

With the English tourist, at least, the Norman patois will not cause dissension, if indeed he notices it at all—or knows what it’s all about, if he does notice it.

Every intelligent person, of course, is fond of speculating as to the etymology of foreign words and phrases; and in France he will find many expressions which will make him think he knows nothing at all of the language, provided he has learned it out of school-books.

Many a university prize-winner has before now found himself stranded and hungry at a railway buffet because he could not make the waiter understand that he wanted his tea served with milk and his cut of roast beef underdone.

French colloquialism and idiom are the stumbling-blocks of the foreigner in France, even if he is college bred. The French are not so prolific in proverbs as the Spanish, and the slang of the boulevards is not the speech of the provincial Frenchman. There are in the French language quaint and pat sayings, however, which now and then crop up all over France, and as an unexpected reply to some simple and grammatically well-formed inquiry are most disconcerting to the foreigner.

A Frenchman will make you an off-hand reply to some observation by stating “C’est vieux comme le Pont Neuf,” meaning “it’s as old as the hills,” and “bon chat, bon rat,” when he means “tit for tat,” or “sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

If you have had a struggle with your automobile tire, or have just escaped from slipping off the gangplank leading from a boat to the shore, you might well say in English, “That was warm work.” The Frenchman’s comment is not far different; he says, “L’affaire a été chaude.” “Business is business” is much the same in French, “Les affaires sont les affaires,” and “trade is bad” becomes “Les affaires ne marchent pas.” “He is a dead man,” in French, becomes, “Son affaire (or son compte) est fait.” The Frenchman, when he pawns his watch, does not “put it up” with his uncle, but tells you, “J’ai porté ma montre chez ma tante.” “Every day is not Sunday” in its French equivalent reads, “Ce n’est pas tous les jours fête.”

“He hasn’t an idea in his head” becomes “Il a jeté tout son feu,” and, paradoxically, when one gets a receipt from his landlord that individual writes, “pour acquit.”

A fortune, in a small way, awaits the person who will evolve some simple method of teaching English-speaking people how to know a French idiom when they meet with it. Truly, idiomatic French is a veritable pitfall of phrase.




GAUL in the time of Cæsar included Normandy in its general scheme, as is shown by the ancient names,—that of the Lexovii, at Lisieux; the Bajocasses, at Bayeux; the Unelli of the Cotentin; the Ambivariti, at Avranches; the Veliscasses of Vexin and Rotomagus (Rouen), and the Caletes of the Pays de Caux.

It was many centuries before all these peoples were welded together under one stable government, the Franks only predominating toward the end of the fifth century, after they had vanquished the Romans at Soissons, in Belgica, in 486.

Normandy formed one of the four ancient provinces of transalpine Gaul known to their founder, Augustus, as Lyonnaise. Since it bordered upon the Manche, or what is otherwise known as the English Channel, the “ancient land of Lyonnese” is known to geologists as forming a fragment of what was one day the mainland of Europe.

In our later day the only attempt at the preservation of this ancient name was in the distribution of the ecclesiastical provinces of France previous to the Revolution, when the archbishop who had his throne at Rouen exercised his rights through all the northern province of the Lyonnaise of Augustus.

Later ancient Gaul became again divided, so far as the present limits of France are concerned, into four great divisions, of which Neustria, a vast triangle between the mouth of the Escaut, the source of the Seine, and Bretagne, which included the whole of Normandy, was one of the most important.

The Neustri Kingdom (ne-ost-reich, the kingdom which is not of the east) was further distinguished from the Ostrasien by manners and customs which were climatically influenced to differ from those of the ost reich, which were manifestly Germanic.

In 1789 the Assembly reconstructed the map of France—the great rhomboid of France, as the French school geographies put it—into eighty-three departments, when Normandy was dismembered to form the Departments of Calvados, Orne, Manche, Eure, and the Lower Seine.

Lower Seine.Rouen.Havre, Yvetot,
Dieppe, Neufchâtel.
Eure.Evreux.Bernay, Pt. Audemer,
Louviers, Les Andelys.
Manche.St. Lô.Cherbourg, Valognes,
Coutances, Avranches,
Orne.Alençon.Domfront, Argentan,
Calvados.Caen.Vire, Bayeux, Falaise,
Pont l’Évêque,

Normandy, as a powerful independent state in the middle ages, was greatly helped by its natural advantages.

Its great spread of territory, along the Channel coast between the Bresle and the Couesnon, for a matter of six hundred kilometres, has its shore lined with numerous creeks and valleys and marked by jutting fangs of rock, with here and there a sand-spread shore lying beneath a chalky cliff.

Upper Normandy was the name given to that portion of the province lying to the eastward, and Lower Normandy to that lying to the westward; the dividing line being the Pays d’Auge, lying between the valleys of the Touques and the Dives.

Upper Normandy is a series of plateaus, not unlike Picardy and Artois. The streams run through deep valleys which divide these plateaus into distinct blocks, each with a striking individuality.

To the west is the Pays de Caux, which has for a subdivision a restricted region between the Bresle and Dieppe known as the Petit-Caux.

Dieppe, Havre, and Rouen are the three angles of this elevated plain, which, on its western boundary, is bordered by the Seine, where a great promontory known as the Nez de Tancarville juts out into the river.

To a great extent these plateaus are deprived of water, but the valleys have a super-abundance.

Along the coast of Upper Normandy are the famous seaside resorts of Tréport-Mers, Dieppe, Veules, St. Valery-en-Caux, Petites Dalles, Fécamp, Yport, and Etretat.

In the interior is the curious Pays de Bray, between the valleys of the Ept and the Andelle. This is a part of the ancient Vexin, of which the Isle of France also held a portion as well as Normandy; the old divisions being known as “Vexin Français,” and “Vexin Normand.”

Westward of the Seine is the Plain of St. André, and between the Eure, the Avre, and the Iton is the Campagne du Neubourg.

The Roumois lies between the Eure, the Iton, and the Risle, and the Pays d’Ouche between the Iton and the Charentonne, while the Lieuvin borders on the Risle and the Touques.

The Pays d’Auge, between the Touques and the Dives, is also a fragment cut from the same plateau which lies to the eastward.

Throughout Upper Normandy are innumerable forests, preserved to-day from reservations of a former time and guarded carefully by a solicitous government.

These are principally the forests of Eu, Arques, Bray, Lyons (an enormous tract), Les Andelys, Vernon, Bizy, Louviers, Pont de l’Arche, Londe, Roumare, and Rouvray (opposite Rouen), Jumièges, Trait-St. Wandrille, Beaumont, Ivry, Evreux, and Touques.

In Lower Normandy the topography and configuration change completely. It contains innumerable little streams and rivers, and it is more uniformly elevated than in the east; the plateaus averaging between one and two hundred metres above sea-level.

The Orne and the Vire are the chief waterways among this multitude of rivulets, very few of which, except the two former, are navigable to any extent.

The chief districts here are: The Campagne de Caen, the Pays du Bessin, the Bocage, the Cotentin, and the Collines de La Perche—whence come the Percherons.

The whole region is most delightful, abounding in charming river scenery, valleys, and wooded tracts of oak, beech, and pine.

The coast of these parts is more sombre and austere than that to the eastward, though none the less delightful, the Nez de Jobourg and Cape de la Hague being as unpeopled and as little known to tourists as if they were in Labrador.

For the most part the climate of Normandy is the same as that which prevails throughout the lower Seine valley; in general moderate and without extremes of heat or cold, and yet quite different from the climate of America, which Reclus, the geographer, has apportioned to Brittany.

Frequently, in the valley of the Orne, the early mornings are thick with mist which makes those charming views which artists love; while, in the valley of the Auge, and in Bessin, there is undoubtedly too much rain, as there is in some parts of the Seine valley, while at Les Andelys, thirty miles away, there is a notable absence of it.

Generally speaking, it rains more frequently on the coast than in the interior of Normandy. The Cotentin peninsula possesses the mildest climate of all, favouring that of Brittany to a great extent, owing to the proximity of the Gulf Stream. So mild is it here that myrtle, camellias, and fuchsias grow in the open air, which they do not in other parts of the province, unless well sheltered and cared for.

Properly speaking, France has no northern frontier, though the coast which borders the Strait of Calais and the Channel is quite as vulnerable and open to attack as it has been in times past, and as is the German frontier of Alsace and Lorraine.

The mementos of war along the shores of the English Channel are numerous indeed. From St. Malo to Dieppe, the corsairs frequently attacked. At Dives the fleet of William the Conqueror set sail for the shores of England, and Harfleur was the place of landing of Edward III. of England in 1346. The English occupied Cherbourg for a long period, and in 1415 Henry V. disembarked at Harfleur, near the mouth of the Seine, at the beginning of that campaign which terminated at Agincourt.

At the mouth of the Seine, François I. founded Françoisville, later Havre de Grâce, which for a time was in the hands of the English, and was three times bombarded during the wars of Louis XIV. and Louis XV. St. Malo, Cherbourg, and Dieppe also suffered in the same way.

The dividing of the old historical provinces of France into administrative departments, after the Revolution, was a most ingenious work. The idea was then, and always has been, to foster local pride and love of country, province, and district, and for this reason the nomenclature of the new departments, carved out of the old provinces, was most convenient and suitable.

It could not have been better done, for the names of local, physical, and topographical features, such as rivers, mountains, and plateaus were used to distinguish them.

Thus, whilst he is a Breton, and a Frenchman, the native of the Morbihan may have quite different emotions and sentiments from one of Finistère; and the peasant of the Pays de Caux, known as a Cauchois, is quite a different person from the peasant of the Cotentin.

These political divisions are now as familiarly impressed upon the French mind as were the old names of the provinces, and a son of the Aube or the Eure will fraternize to-day with none of those jealousies which formerly rankled between the Bourguignon and the Norman.

After the division into the old provinces, of which the residents of Normandy and Brittany were as proud as any, came the kneading together after the Revolution of those widely divergent influences which go to make up modern France.

The affairs of the departments—of which the ancient Normandy, as we have seen, made five—are administered by a Préfet appointed by the President on the suggestion of the Minister of the Interior.

Each department is made up of many districts, of which the smallest number is four, if one excepts the poor, rent fragment known as the Territory of Belfort—all that is left of the former Department of the Upper Rhine.

The district, of which there are 362 in France, has its affairs administered by a Sous-Préfet. He is nominated by the President of the Republic and is subordinate to the Préfet of the department.

The district is made up of many cantons, the smallest number being eight. The canton comprehends, usually, many communes, the smallest number being twelve. It forms a group, which, popularly speaking, enjoys a certain form of self-government, under a commissioner, who is, of course, directly responsible to the Sous-Préfet of his district. There are, throughout France, 2,865 cantons.

The commune represents the smallest territorial division recognized in the economic conduct of the French governmental affairs. There are in the neighbourhood of 36,000 in France, and they usually comprise a city or large town, with its surrounding villages, hamlets, isolated dwellings, and farms.

The affairs of the commune are administered by the mayor and common council. In the capitals of the department, district, or canton, the mayor is nominated by the President of the Republic, and in the other communes by the Préfet.

The city of Paris, however, has a special administration of its own.

The ancient province of Normandy, after it had been confiscated and welded to the royal domain of Philippe-Auguste (1204), enjoyed many unique rights; of which the chief was the privilege of its inhabitants to be judged on appeal to their own supreme court, which sat at Rouen.

The peasants of the country-side had always rebelled against royal despotism, for which reason their individuality was most pronounced.

Upper Normandy had Rouen for its capital, and Lower Normandy, Caen. This last city possessed a university and long remained the intellectual centre of the province.

To-day its five departments, the Lower Seine, Eure, Calvados, Orne, and Manche, have their ecclesiastical metropolis and archbishop at Rouen, with suffragans and bishops at Evreux, Bayeux, Sées, and Coutances.

From “The French Drawn by Themselves,” of Bedollière, one learns that “the Normans are the Anglais of France, but in industry only.”

Jal says briefly: “The peasants of Normandy have a great love for the bonnet of cotton.”

Bedollière continues with the statement that “the costume of the Norman women is varied to the infinite, but all, down to the fille d’auberge, have the instructive science of coquetterie.

“The Norman will never answer you directly,” says another; “yes and no are difficult replies for him to make to one’s question.”

“The Norman is the Gascon of the north and the Gascon is the Norman of the Midi,” one reads, also.

La Fontaine carried the simile still further, though it is difficult to follow his argument exactly:

Les serments des Gascons et des Normands passent peu pour mots d’Evangile.

A similar vein is the following Norman supplication which some cynical Frenchman has invented or unearthed from a hidden source:

“O Lord, I ask you not to favour me with good things. I merit not that which thou would’st give; but tell me only where they are and I will go and take them.”

The inhabitants of Normandy have unquestionably a strong individuality, “above all,” says a local chronicler, “good sense and good judgment.” The one would seem to include the other, but that is the way it is put.

A Woman of Normandy

A Woman of Normandy

The Norman is always serious and always practical. Some call him an evil-doer, but he is hardly that. He is, however, exceedingly economical. He deplores exaggeration of all sorts; is seldom or ever gay with that abandon one sees in the Midi or even in Touraine; he adores the sentiments of the old régime, even though it may have been his grandfather who lived under them; and he never ceases to struggle to defend the reputation of his country in all things. To-day he lives in a political hatred of change, something akin to the spirit which feared not Richelieu when provincial liberties were in danger.

“Est ce le loyer attendu
Pour avoir si bien défendu
La couronne des rois de France,
Et pour avoir par tant de fois
Remis et lys en assurance
Contre l’Espagnole et l’Anglais?”

With the Revolution it was much the same. Whatever may have been Norman sympathies, she demanded less of those responsible for the overthrow than any other of the old provinces of France.

All that Normandy stood for in the past, liberty and equal rights, were offered; but the province remained faithful in spirit during the sombre days of the Terror—and to-day the native will emphasize the fact by recalling to your memory the heroism of the young girl of Caen who stabbed Marat.

“The Normans,” it has been said,—by a Parisian, of course,—“are tolerant; the Bretons fanatical;” and in a way this describes the two peoples very well.

Most geographies, and many guide-books and histories, omit all mention of the etymology of place-names. This is greatly to be regretted; from the former and the latter they ought never to be omitted, and they should be included in the guide-books as well.

In a work like the present it is interesting to know something of the early nomenclature of a place whose present name bears at least some resemblance to its former appellation. Not always has such information been included, from lack of space. But it might well be made a part of every work which attempts to purvey topographical or historical information.

Every one knows, or may be supposed to know, that the Breton is from Brittany, and the Gascon from Gascony; but how many among the untravelled can put their finger on that spot on the map of France where live the Cevenoles, the Tricastins, or Cauchois; or, for that matter, can locate with exactness the country of the Comminges, the Caux, or the Cotentin?

With France, more perhaps than any other nation on the globe, names of places have a great romantic and patriotic significance. Little by little geography and history have given circulation to some which perhaps are indissolubly impressed upon the mind; but the foreigner—meaning, of course, those who are not of France—never, until he has delved below the surface, knows a tithe of the meaning of the well-nigh sacred devotion which the native has for these glorious titles which have become so identified with the national and life history of the people of France.

With the Frenchman it is something more than local pride and patriotism. It is the country first, his town or place of birth next, then his present domicile, and, lastly, his own person.

As with the topographical aspect, so with the inhabitants themselves. Great diversity obtains; and, in “these little lands of strangers,” as it has been delicately and suggestively put, the Frenchman of one locality is, except for a general likeness of speech and manner, almost as much of a stranger as the foreigner in race.

The Norman has little or nothing in common with the Provençal; the native of French Flanders still less with the men of the Midi; and those of the north not much of the feeling and spirit which actuates the life of those in the south.

This is, perhaps, unique among modern nations; and, while to-day this diversity does not exist on such lines of stringent demarcation as formerly, the difference is still there in a lesser degree.

Even though all are Frenchmen, they still pride themselves in proudly asserting their right to be called a Norman, a Gascon, a Bourguignon, or a Languedocian; without confounding, at the same time, their love of France, the great mother country.

It is interesting to note that it is perhaps a survival, rather than a modern interpolation, which accounts for most peculiar local customs met with in a journey across the country. Normandy has two neighbours which in former warlike times loved her but little, the Parisian and the Breton. To-day the Parisian no longer fears that Rouen may become the capital of France, but the Breton still feels some of the old rancour of contempt for him he calls the “wicked Norman.” Furthermore, the peoples of the two neighbouring provinces of Normandy and Brittany resemble each other not at all; nor ever will so long as old customs and traditions endure.

Normandy was divided into Upper Normandy and Lower Normandy. There were formerly many separate districts, and are still, for tradition has by no means wholly left these parts.

The country of Caux, between Rouen and Dieppe, which took its name from its first inhabitants, is the chief. The etymology of the word is considerably mixed. Caex, Cauex, and the Celtic Kalet all come to the fore. The earliest inhabitants were known as Caletes, which in later times became Cauchois. To-day one mostly sees the Cauchoises in their quaint cloaks and head-dresses on the quays at Caudebec, or in the markets at Yvetot or Duclair.

A physiological memorandum is found in the fact that the Cauchoises of eighteen years, when they open their mouths, show very bad teeth; which in all other lands is an indication of decrepitude.

Here in Caux, however, it is supposed to come from the abundant indulgence in cidre, which, by its corrosive properties, attacks the enamel of the teeth.

France has never been considered a prolific country, but here in this corner of Normandy the contrary seems to be the case. A Rouen daily journal published recently a notice of a matter which was just then attracting the attention of the Society for the Protection of Children. It seems among eight mothers of Yvetot, whom in recent years it had helped, there were forty-nine children. When interviewed, one fond mother made the following statement:

“Yes, monsieur, I have eleven children all brought up by myself and all living. I expect a twelfth! As you see, they are all blonds. Here is my eldest. Eighteen in the month of May. Is it not fine? She works with me in the fields. The three boys work at the forge with their father. There is another an apprentice to a saddle-maker, and there are six at school.”

The society makes a gift of forty francs upon each birth. Surely a patriotic encouragement.

The chief of the separate districts of Lower Normandy is the peninsula of the Cotentin.

The Cotentin was the ancient pagus Constantinus. Its capital was Constancia, which by process of evolution readily became Coutances. It is celebrated for its rich pasturage and the fine cattle which it breeds. The inhabitants are known as Cotentins or Cotentines.

“The Cotentin race with regard for all reason is the type laitier par excellence,” wrote Arthur Young in 1789, who was mostly taken with the milk-giving qualities of the Cotentin cow, but who was an astute observer of many things, nevertheless.

The Avranchin is another district of Lower Normandy, known anciently as the pagus Abrincatinus. Its inhabitants are known as Avranchais. They were further qualified by the sobriquets of Bouiderots and Bouilieux, probably because they were employed for the most part in the salt-works built on the shores of the bay of Avranches, where they boiled the salt water dry of its moisture and recovered the salt from great cauldrons of copper.

There is an old proverb which says: “Let the Auvergnats return to their pastures, the Normans to their fishing, the soldiers to their warfare, and the children to their games.”

Bocage is a separate district in the Departments of the Orne and Calvados. Its capital was Vire. Bocage took its name in a roundabout way from the German word Busch, which in Norman French is bosc, which comes from bois, meaning, in this case, a forest, from which in turn becomes bosquet (sort of arbour), bûcheron (a wood-chopper), and finally Bocage.

From a French source one learns that Bocage is the least productive part of all Normandy, and its workmen and peasants, known as Bocains, are the most laborious.

There is a charming little tale of the Bocage, by Anatole France, called “The Curé’s Mignonette,” which tells the story of a dove who came to a curé and brought untold blessings upon his parish. It is but a slight tale, but quite worth looking up for its charming sentiment.

Of the women of this part of Normandy the following remark by Arthur Young, the agriculturist, who wrote a century and a quarter ago, is pertinent. Writing from Caen, he says:

“I could not but remark an uncommon number of pretty women. Is there no antiquarian that deduces English beauty from the mixture of Norman blood?” He was a profound agriculturist, Arthur Young, and he wrote mostly of cabbages, departing occasionally into the realms of kings, but pretty women seem to have pursued him, or he them, for a bit farther on in his delightful “Travels in France,” he says:

“Supped at the Marquis d’Ecougal’s at his château La Frenaye” (Calvados). “If that French marquis cannot show me as good crops of corn and turnips as I would wish, there is a noble one of something else—of beautiful and elegant daughters, the charming copies of agreeable mothers.”

Robert Wace, the Norman poet (1120-80), put the following words into the mouth of William the Conqueror as he lay on his death-bed. They characterize the Norman of those times as faithfully as do the romances of Flaubert and the contes of Maupassant to-day.

“En Normandie è gent moult fière,
Je ne sai gent de tel manière
Normant ne sunt proz saint justise
Foler et plaisier lor convient;
Se reis soz piez toz tems les tient,
E ki bien les defalt et poigne,
D’els parra fare sa besoigne.
Orgueillos sunt Normant é fier
Evantéor é bombancier;
Toz tems les devreit l’en piaisier
Kar mult sunt fort a justisier.”

The gent moult fière of Normandy proved his ancient strength eight hundred years later at Bernay, when three hundred of the National Guard stopped the advance-guard of the Prussian army under General Bredow three leagues from the town. It was a daring thing to have done, since the Prussians were in overwhelming numbers, and the town was mulcted to the tune of a hundred thousand francs for the valour of its citizens, as a contribution of war.

The French coast is ever a source of joy and pride to the Frenchman; and no part in all its twenty-nine hundred kilometres is more frequented by summer dwellers by the sea than the strip along the Channel and the Strait of Calais from Dunkerque to Brest.

Picardy, Normandy, and Brittany all have their partisans; but the shores of Normandy and Brittany are the ideal spots wherein the Frenchman loves to while away a summer’s day.

No country of Europe, unless it be Greece, has its coast-line more deeply serrated than France. Brittany is rocky, Normandy high with its chalk cliffs, and Picardy populous with wind-swept dunes of sand and shingle. Each presents a distinct variety of attractions.

The downs of the north are the real lower country; but all this changes as one comes up with the Norman border. Then come great chalk cliffs, grass-crowned, and at their feet a pebbly strand. Occasionally granite ledges crop out, as they do in Brittany, until one reaches the Bay of Mont St. Michel, where the real Breton coast-line begins.

Cap de la Hève, which shelters Havre on the northeast, is one of those freaks of nature which have a great interest for the geologist and the geographers. It is the same great chalky cliff that we find on the south coast of England, and eastward toward Etretat, where are those wonderfully carved picture-rocks, so loved of painters of a former day.

Here on the northern edge of the ancient district of Caux, the vociferous waves and currents of the British Channel eat up the coast-line at the rate of a couple of metres a year, sometimes in one place and sometimes in another.

These great, chalky cliffs continue westward to the Cotentin peninsula; or would continue did not the Seine estuary rend them in twain with its mighty flow.

At Trouville advantage has been taken of the formation, and a modern roadway built which, in its way, quite rivals the celebrated arch of the Riviera. At present it serves merely the purpose of the gay life of Trouville, and automobiles, omnibuses, and motor-cycles rush around its death-dealing curves and sharp descents, to their great risk, and causing an occasional death.

There is a flaring red danger-board, a guide-post and telephonic communication with a red cross hospital plainly set out in view, but even this does not check the recklessness of the road-users in these parts.

Just beyond Trouville is Dives, from whence departed the fleet of the Conqueror in his descent upon England. To-day, the port is choked by the débris thrown into it by the sea.

Gradually the chalk cliffs give way to sand-dunes or high-rolling greensward, until Granville is reached on the other side of the peninsula.

Throughout all this extent the coast-line is dotted here and there with long stretches of sand and pebbles, which once and again have been turned into popular resorts, where inland France comes to enjoy the sea-breezes.

How many French affect this sort of a holiday it is impossible to say; but they seem to have a decided preference for the northern shore, and are quite as great devotees to the seaside—as it is known to Americans, and watering-places, as the English call it—as those of other nationalities.

Trouville and Deauville, with perhaps Cobourg, are the most brilliant and fashionable of these resorts in Normandy, though there are many others of lesser repute and decidedly quieter.

The western coast of the Cotentin peninsula has for its chief centre the picturesque old and new towns of Granville, which face the great islands of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and Sark, the Channel Isles of the English, and the Iles Normandes of the French.

This western shore-line of the peninsula marks the boundary between Normandy and Brittany at Pontorson, the gateway to Mont St. Michel; of blessed memory to tourists for its old fortress-abbey—and Madame Poulard’s chickens and omelets.

“The granite isles of La Manche,” as the French geologists call them, comprise the Channel Islands, which belong to Great Britain, and the Iles Chausey, a hideously terrible formation of jagged toothlike rocks which would prove a veritable ocean graveyard, were they but in a line of direct travel. A few miserable fishermen’s huts are the sole habitations on this bleak, wind-swept island; but the picturesque desolation of it all will quite make up for the lack of other features, if one is venturesome enough to make the journey by sailboat from Granville, and is prepared to rough it in the same manner as do the Cotentin fishermen themselves.

The Rocher des Moines and the Roches du Rhinocéros are quaint and gaunt indeed, but one wonders—as usual with regard to such fantastically named topographical features—where the resemblance comes in.

The coast-line of Normandy is generally high, cut once and again into canyon-like valleys, the chief of which are those of the Ault, Bresle, Arques, St. Valery-en-Caux, Fécamp, and Etretat.

Tréport lies at the mouth of the Bresle, and Dieppe at the mouth of the Arques.

To-day the commerce of other days on this coast is threatened. Dieppe has held its own as a fishing port, perhaps, and in a way, so has Tréport; but there is no deep-sea traffic now of any size between Havre and Boulogne, save the cross-channel passenger traffic between Dieppe and New Haven, and the Terre Neuve fisheries of Fécamp.

There have been rumours from time to time of the establishing of a deep-sea canal between Dieppe and Paris, but the project is too visionary for serious consideration, and the great waterway of the Seine is certainly all-sufficient.

From the Cape of the Hève to Cape Barfleur extends the delta of the Seine, or the Bay of Calvados as it is sometimes known,—the vast delta of the Seine.

The Bresle is a lively little river which purls away the seventy kilometres of its length between the hills of Picardy and Normandy, and passes Aumale and Eu, to finish its course in the Channel at Tréport.

The Arques flows gently down fifty kilometres of one of the richest valleys of Normandy, and enters the sea at the busy cross-channel port of Dieppe. Its confluence is made up of the streams of the Varenne, Bethune, and Eaulne. Between the mouth of the Seine and Cape of the Hague is the Touques, which comes down by Lisieux and Pont l’Evêque, for a hundred kilometres, and finishes at Trouville; the Dives, with a waterway of a hundred kilometres also ending on the coast at Dives; the Orne, which comes to the sea at Caen, after 150 kilometres through rich pasture-lands; the Seulles and the Drome, two tiny rivers of Calvados, and the Vire, of 130 kilometres; the Douves; the Taute; the Divette; and the Sée and the Sélune of the Cotentin.

From St. Malo, eastward to the north of the Somme, is a particularly vulnerable coast-line, which, in times past, was frequently attacked by the cross-channel brethren of the Normans. To-day, however, with strong defences at Cherbourg and the forts at Hogue and Havre, and others at Dieppe, there is little likelihood of its being again invaded without warning, though the memories of Gisors (1119), Crécy, (1346), and Agincourt (1415) die hard.

The gateways to the rich Norman country-side are both numerous and ample, however; and it may be depended upon that the distribution of the French army is such that ample protection is afforded to such important entrances as Granville, Caen, the little rivers Dives and Touques, and the galaxy of towns and cities lying above and below the cliffs at the mouth of the Seine, to say nothing of Dieppe and Fécamp, and the cities of the Seine valley itself.



NORMANDY is still a land fertile and rich, as well by nature and the product of the soil, as by the industry of her people.

The following charming lines by Frédéric Berat are appreciative.

“J’ai vu les champs de l’Helvétie,
Et ses chalets et ses glaciers;
J’ai vu le ciel de l’Italie
Et Venise et ses gondoliers!
En saluant chaque patrie
Je me disais: aucun séjour
N’est plus beau que ma Normand
C’est le pays qui m’a donné le jour.”

Not alone from this does one infer the prominence which the province holds, and has held in industrial and economic affairs since the time when Henry II. really broke the power of the Norman barons; but there are self-evident intimations at every turn of one’s footsteps, whether by the highroads or by the by-roads.

It is difficult to imagine what France would have been to-day had it not been for the disaster of the Franco-Prussian war, the rebuff of Fashoda, and the unrest attendant upon the Dreyfus affair.

France has held her own remarkably, when one considers the depression which periodically falls upon other European nations.

Still, there is a great influx of foreign influences to France which, in all but individual manners and customs, is making itself felt.

The English who have settled here in the great woollen industries in Normandy, at Louviers, Elbeuf, and in the neighbourhood of Rouen, are a notable indication of outside influence; but still more so is the recent advent of things American, to say nothing of the forty thousand persons who form the permanent American population of Paris.

American farming machinery is seen everywhere, and if the American automobile has found no place in France, American machine tools are greatly in use in the manufacture of the horseless carriages of France. The French are to-day wearing and copying the fashions in American boots and shoes almost exclusively, and are imitating the Americans in their habits and customs of travel.

A universal English innovation one sees everywhere is tea; but it is not the afternoon variety, except in the case of the “five o’clocks” of the Paris boulevards. Your Frenchman drinks his tea—and likes it very much, apparently—after his dinner. Other folk have the idea that this tends to sleeplessness, but not so the French.

In a recent number of a French journal devoted to travel an admiring and appreciative Frenchman says:

“The English and Americans come in great numbers to our land, and travel hither and thither over our great railway lines. They spend their money liberally, and to them we owe the opportunity of doing all that we can to facilitate not only their travel, but to make pleasant their stay amongst us. We should reconstruct the sanitary arrangements of our hotels, and encourage the circulation of information with regard to places of interest.”

And all this the French are doing, and if it is coming but slowly, so far as the country-side is concerned, it is most surely coming, and to-day no more delightful travel-ground is to be found in all the world than France, and Normandy and Brittany and Touraine in particular.

This, then, is one of the industries that is an important one in France, and the coming of the automobile and the revival of travel by road will do much for the increased prosperity of the genuine market-town inns of Normandy.

In the Seine valley, in the heart of Normandy, has sprung up a cotton and woollen manufacturing industry of immense proportions. Much of the wool is a local product, but large quantities of it in the raw state are brought from the river Plata; while at the wharves of Rouen are vast warehouses filled with cotton from the Southern States of America, ready to be worked into cloth by the busy looms of France.

The woollen mills of Elbeuf and Louviers are now turning out worsteds and cloth for men and women’s clothing of a quality and quantity quite rivalling that of Bradford, in England, in the olden times.

As far back as 1780-90 Arthur Young wrote of a visit to a great woollen manufacturer of Louviers, where he saw “a fabric unquestionably the first woollen in the world, if success, beauty of fabric, and an inexhaustible invention to supply with taste all the cravings of fancy can give the merit of such superiority. Perfection goes no farther than the Vigonia cloths of M. Decretot.” This, from an Englishman born and bred in the Midlands, is praise indeed.

Harvest-time in Normandy

Harvest-time in Normandy

The country to the west of Evreux forms the very heart of Normandy. It is a region of rich farms, great prairies, and apple orchards, in which apple-trees are set out twenty-five or thirty to the acre. Nowhere more than in the Plain of St. André and the country district of Neubourg, which immediately environs Evreux, is there to be found anything more characteristically Norman.

Little by little great pasture-lands have been made into tilled fields, to the prosperity of the individual and the nation as well. Were the English farming peasants able and willing to work small holdings in England in the same way, who knows but what prosperity might come to the small farmer there?

Through these rich lands of the Departments of the Eure, Orne, and Calvados flow the Eure, the Iton, the Risle, the Touques, the Dives, and the Orne, which nourish them abundantly, and give a thriving aspect to the towns and country-side alike. That Normandy is so plentifully watered, accounts for its bountiful pasture-lands and prairies; which, by a process known to all the world, produces most abundant supplies of butter and cheese, to say nothing of such by-products as the cattle themselves. It is doubtful if the cattle-raising industry of itself has a tithe of the economic value and importance of the trade in milk products, which in some parts of Normandy is of tremendous proportions.

The butter of Gournay (Lower Seine), of St. Lô, and Isigny is famous throughout England and France, while the savoury cheeses—above all the Camembert and the Pont l’Evêque—are exported to all ends of the earth. A good cow in the Pont l’Evêque country produces cheese to the value of 350 francs a year; and at Lisieux, the centre of the Camembert industry, as much as five hundred francs worth in value.

Agricultural machinery is coming fast into use, and increased crops are the result. In 1862 there were but 10,850 reaping-machines in France, but their number is now more than quadrupled. In a country where nearly fifty per cent. of its inhabitants follow agricultural pursuits, this may be considered as of some significance.

Norman Horses

Norman Horses

The Cotentin cow gives as much as twenty-five litres of milk per day. With the cows of the Cotentin and the horses of La Perche lies the chief glory of the product of Normandy to-day. The industry of horse-raising in Normandy is most prosperous in the valley and Department of the Orne. Northwestern France produces three races of horses, the Percheron, the Merlerault, and the Breton. The Percheron is mostly raised in La Perche, the Merlerault is a crossing of the Norman with English stock; and the Breton is a hardy little animal, not at all beautiful to look at, but, nevertheless, a most useful and economical animal to own, which is saying a good deal in its favour. The chief horse-trading centres in Normandy are Alençon, Vernon, Bernay, and Mortagne.

In general, the cattle of Normandy are famous for the quality and richness of their flesh none the less than for their products, and the Norman beef and mutton are much in demand in the markets of Paris.

The market-towns of Normandy are very numerous and important, but they are by no means so picturesque as are those of the south of France, or even of the cities and towns along the Loire, or in Brittany. Market-day is more of a matter-of-fact, hard-headed commerce, with the Norman peasant, than it is an opportunity for a day in town.

To the market the Norman peasant and his wife come to sell and to buy, in a tilt-cart, usually attached to an ancient-looking, though not decrepit, white horse, who is used to only moderately long journeys. As a matter of business the peasant leaves his home by nine in the morning—the height of the market usually being just before midday. By nine, then, all is ready,—the eggs in the pannier, the chickens in their baskets, and the cheeses and butter between crisp, cool leaves of beet-root or cabbage. Crossing the courtyard, a door is opened, disclosing the old harness hung on its iron nail. Soon it is on the back of the old white horse, and he is marched forth to be attached to the shafts of the great, high, two-wheeled tilt-cart, which seems very unsteady. When the baskets are all finally disposed, and the peasant and his wife are seated, it seems even more so; but as no one has ever seen it overturned, the Norman peasant’s cart must be a most satisfactory vehicle.

There is one event which comes off periodically in Normandy, which has never had much prominence given to it from the outside, and that is the fair at Guibray,—a suburb of Falaise, the birthplace of the Conqueror. Next to the great fair at Beaucaire, of which Dumas writes in “Monte Cristo,” the fair at Guibray is the greatest in all France; and is of the popular order of the trading-fair at Nijni-Novgorod in Russia.

At Guibray the event has been held for many, many years, though of late its importance has fallen somewhat away. A hundred years ago merchandise was sold to the value of 100,000,000 francs, while at Beaucaire the sales sometimes totalled 500,000,000.

Besides this, Normandy has the great horse-fair of Bernay, held at the Fête des Rameaux (Palm Sunday), the most famous and largest of its kind in France.

These great fairs of Normandy are one of the most interesting of all the attractions to the stranger.

No one should expect to find a town at its normal aspect on one of these occasions, and sightseeing of the conventional order is out of the question at such times; but, on the other hand, one’s gain is great, if he is a lover of such assemblages. Oftentimes the whole town will be found to be given over to the great local event, with the churches and musées closed, and the tables d’hôtes overcrowded.

Artists and lovers of new sensations, especially, will not mind this, for these local fairs and holidays will furnish much amusement and edification that would otherwise be missed. Colour and noise and life is everywhere. Everything smacks of gaiety and good nature, and for the most part it is distinctly local. Parisian costumes and manners have no place here, and one must be prepared to take things as he finds them.

The almanacs and local journals will give particulars of these events, and one can avoid them or not as is his mood. One cannot, however, claim to have really seen Normandy unless he has attended at least one fair.

Normandy is one of the greatest wheat-growing sections of France. Every plain, valley, and hillside is literally covered with it.

In the midst of all this agrarian industry are set many towns and villages alive with an industry of another sort. On the Avre, at Nonancourt, are the great spinning mills of M. Waddington, whose name and fame as a naturalized Frenchman are world-wide. At Evreux are great establishments which manufacture linen, cotton-stuffs, hosiery, and kindred products in vast quantities; while at Bayeux, Alençon, Argenton, and Caen lace is manufactured on a large scale. Again, cotton and woollen stuffs are produced at Elbeuf, Louviers, and Rouen; leather at Pont Audemer and Evreux; yarn and thread at Bernay, Alençon, Mortagne, Lisieux, and Vire, and pins and needles at Rugles and Laigle.

In addition, the fisheries and oyster cultures of Normandy are very great; likewise the coastwise shipping, to say nothing of the trans-atlantic traffic of the great liners from the ports of Havre and Cherbourg.

Raising the Sugar-beet

Raising the Sugar-beet

Out of Fécamp go many deep-sea fishermen bound for the Newfoundland banks; and Tréport, Yport, Dieppe, and Granville are important home ports for the mackerel and herring fleets of the North Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.

There is a great and still growing interest in France, and indeed in many other parts of Continental Europe, in the sugar-beet industry.

In Normandy it is very considerable, and “potato spirit” and “beet sugar” are two products of the soil which of late have added much to its prosperity.



WHEREAS England is a country whose land is owned by a comparative few, France is owned by the many. Of its population of forty odd millions there are nearly six million land-owners, almost, it would seem, one to each family.

The plots are small, not more than ten acres, perhaps, on an average, for the peasant landholder; but the degree of cultivation which they have attained is remarkable to one who comes from the far West of America, where only farming on a gigantic scale is pursued.

For a long time the Norman farmer held out against any ideas of progress with regard to machinery. He did not exactly plough with the proverbial crooked limb of Biblical times, but the implement with which he laid out his astonishingly straight furrows was, until recently, an antiquated piece of iron, which he handled in a most laborious manner.

To-day American sowing and reaping machines, or Continental imitations of them, are everywhere making their way, and the laborious, patient work of a former day is now being accomplished much more handily.

The French are great lovers of their land, the Normans in particular. They do not emigrate like the Germans or the Italians, and they are not great travellers, out of their own bailiwick.

The dwellers of the country-side of France are about the richest per capita of any nation on the earth. The enormous Franco-German war debt was promptly paid, and, stowed away in small parcels, there are doubtless hundreds of millions of francs which are never put into circulation.

French farming is carried on most assiduously, and a single plot of land becomes wonderfully productive under the hands of its devoted peasant proprietor.

One is wont to commiserate with the European peasant, who is supposed to be taxed to death, but, as a matter of fact, the French peasant is taxed very little. The recent tax exemptions of French farmers have caused a decrease in the revenue of 25,000,000 francs, and this sum has been saved to the very smallest of taxpayers. Nevertheless, some taxes exist, though they are almost infinitesimal. There are more than 8,000,000 persons who each pay a land tax ranging from ten to twenty sous only; more than 3,000,000 who pay from five to fifteen francs; and more than 2,000,000 land-holders who each pay from twenty to thirty francs per annum. If a farmer pays a rent of 250 francs or under he is untaxed; if he pays eight hundred francs, he is taxed only on a part, but if he pays more than eight hundred francs, he is taxed nine per cent, on the whole sum.

Almost all taxes here are based on incomes or rents. Business property is taxed eight per cent, of the amount for which it is rent, and if it is idle it is not taxed at all. If a store or house burns down the tax on the land stops from that moment, and if a factory stops work its tax stops. Every loom in the silk, cotton, and woollen mills of Normandy—where they are very numerous—pays a tax while it is working; but if it is broken or becomes idle, the tax officials are notified, and the tax is not collectible.

There is money in trees in France; and in Normandy, quite as much as in any other part, one sees those long, regimental rows of poplars which make walled alleys of the great national highways and the banks of rivers as well.

The French appreciate the commercial value of their forests. There are vast woodlands belonging to the government, and private holdings in which the trees are as well cared for as in a city park.

Only matured trees are ever cut in a national forest, and every piece of fallen wood is saved.

Normandy has one of the finest and most celebrated of these great national forests in the forest domain of Lyons, a few miles southeast of Rouen, just north of the ancient district of Vexin.

Some of the trees are a hundred feet high and bare of branches, with only a tassel left on the top. Others are full-limbed, and others are just sprouting new growth on all sides. Poplars are grown for their branches, and are finally cut down for wood or furniture. The branches grow rapidly. They are cut off year after year, put into bundles, and sold to the bakers, to make the hot fires necessary for the crisp crust on the French bread. There is such a demand for them that raising them is one of the chief industries of France. The poplars are planted in places which are good for nothing else; and after five years each will annually produce at least twenty sous in value in mere trimmings. Later on, the trees are thinned out and cut down and sold. Willows are grown in the same way, their sprouts being used for baskets, and the basket-maker is a familiar figure in nearly every town and village in the river valleys of Normandy.

Market-gardening in France is no inconsiderable industry. Not only does it supply the markets at Paris, but a vast product is sent across Channel to help nourish old England; potatoes and onions from Brittany, and cauliflowers, lettuce, radishes, etc., from Normandy, to say nothing of cheese, eggs, and butter, which are usually a product of the same farmyard.

The French have one million acres devoted to gardens and fruits; and, throughout the country, one sees fields of hotbeds and glass frames propped over plants outside the beds. In many places glass bells are used to cover the individual plants, and there are some sections which raise early potatoes under glass for export to London. Apparently, about the only vegetable or fruit crop which Normandy does not export is the cider-apple.

The French study the soil and the sun, and they coax both to work. They feed the crops rather than the land, and in places get three crops a year through intensive cultivation. Near Cherbourg, cabbage is raised early in February. After it is taken off a crop of potatoes is planted, and a third crop comes on in the autumn, and this is on land that has been used for generations without becoming impoverished.

The farming peasant of the Seine valley is in every way a kindly person. He will pose for the artist, does not object to being snap-shotted while at work by the amateur photographer, and will courteously help the automobilist who is in trouble to set himself to rights.

For all this, he wants and expects nothing, save that perhaps he will take a glass of wine or cigar at the nearest public house if there happens to be one near by. An inquiring stranger is not persona non grata, and the Norman peasant-farmer is more than glad to stop and discuss the good or bad times, or the state of the crops and the cattle market; his quid pro quo seeming usually to be your opinion about the state of things in the adjoining competing community which may send its products to the same market as he does himself.

Certainly a close-mouthed, ill-natured Norman farmer is a rare thing in the Seine valley, or indeed in any other part of the province. Not so in some other lands, where every civil advance of the stranger is met with a taciturn reply or a miserable whine against a presupposed unjust fate which permits a landholder to expect the tenant to pay rent.

Normandy, where it borders upon the Seine, comes very near being the artists’ ideal sketching-ground. It has all the attributes of the open country, as well as great industrial centres with picturesque chimney-stacks, and possesses a part of the most charming seacoast of France. Etretat and Honfleur are famous, Caudebec-en-Caux, in a way, is one of the reputed paradises for artists, while Les Andelys, Giverny, and La Roche-Guyon are—well, spots which as soon as they shall become popular with tourists will lose much of their charm, which is to-day natural, simple, and characteristically local. Throughout the open country in the Seine valley one may contemplate a succession of farmyards, orchards, and great brown and green patches of cultivated land which will make him envious of the genius of a Daubigny or a Millet.

The great walled farms of Normandy are ever a source of surprise to the stranger and of pride to the occupant, who, like enough, is the fifth of his line; for the peasant-proprietor is a power in the land to-day, as he has been since before the Revolution.

Usually, however, the peasant-proprietor, in Normandy at least, is not of the ambitious order that aspires to more than a small area to work as his own, compared with his apparently more opulent neighbour, who, perhaps, farms his land on shares with the actual land-owner, a practice known throughout France as métayage. Besides the two smaller classes of farmers, those who hire or work on shares, or those who own small tracts, there are the large landed proprietors who farm their own land on a scale known as high farming. The three together have made possible the prosperity of the greater part of the France of to-day; and in no other country can such a forcible economic lesson be learned of the power of a country to be self-sustaining.

Before now it has been said that Normandy is monotonous, but this is not true. Writers have compared its angularities, so to speak, with the nicely rounded contours of the South Downs of England; and its sturdy, soil-grown villages with the undeniably picturesque hamlets of Surrey and Sussex. One is characteristic of France and the other of England; but wherein is one more monotonous than the other?

Really, Normandy is one of the most diversified sections in all France, and while quite different, in almost every way, from Brittany, Maine, and Anjou, its neighbours, it forms with them a region where one learns more of the varying conditions which go to make up the life of the nation than in any other parts of France as it is known to-day; for Burgundy and its people are still Burgundian, Provence, Provençal, and the Midi, Spanish—or something very akin to it.

The Normandy of to-day, its people, and their manners and customs, however, breathes the very spirit of history of feudal and even more ancient times, from the days of Rollon, the Dane, down through Norman William and Richard Cœur de Lion, to the times when Normandy finally became attached to the Crown.

“High farming,” as the working of the great estates is called, is, of course, a very different thing from the working of small farms or vegetable gardens. Two and a half acres of land within a half a dozen miles of a city like Havre or Rouen, or even a town like Louviers or Vernon, will support a family of five, if the wife carries the produce to market herself, which she generally does, leaving the men-folks to gossip in a café and to hitch up the mare and the family cart when the day’s trading is finished.

It is only as one reaches the great plain of La Beauce, just across the southern border of Normandy, that one comes upon grain culture on a large scale, though, to be sure, the farm product of Normandy is by no means limited to vegetables. One must not forget the cider-apple and its product, the true wine of the country.

Olivier Basselin, who died in 1419, wrote in old Norman French an “Apologie du Cidre,” which as near as may be is translated as follows:

“Though Frenchmen at our drink may laugh,
And think their taste is wondrous fine,
The Norman cider, which we quaff,
Is quite the equal of his wine,
When down, down, down, it freely goes
And charms the palate as it flows.”

Mere diffusion of property is no indication of the wealth of a nation, but a general prosperity is; and if we except a few departments where the shepherding and grazing of flocks is the principal occupation, there are very few parts of France where one notices any lack of actual necessities.

France was poorest as a nation, and her working classes most prosperous, under Charles-le-Sage. France was richest, and her poor the most miserable, under Louis XIV.

Erasmus in his “Adages” has said: “Open your purse and pay, for you enter a port; pay, for you cross a bridge; pay, for you use a ferry;” and in general and with much elaboration there is still something more than a vestige of feudalism left in the life of to-day. What it was in former times, in France, is no more, but the single-taxer and the socialist—and some strangers from a supposedly freer land—will complain at the octroi, and the tax on matches and tobacco, as if a revenue from some source were not necessary for the conduct of the state. Whatever may first appear to the contrary, France is not overtaxed to-day, and no evidences of oppressive taxation are actually to be seen in the lives of the peasants of the rich hillsides, or the workers of the busy towns of Normandy.

Normandy must always have been a wealthy province; for, in Leopold Delisle’s “Study of the Condition of Agriculture in Normandy in the Middle Ages,” is made the astounding—and authenticated—statement that “the monks of Montdaie fed their pigs on meat.

Up to within the last half-century, if we are to believe the chroniclers, a Norman peasant might visit any parish in the province and note but little change from the aspect it bore in mediæval times.

In our day this would hardly prove to be the case: what with cream-separators, throbbing, mechanical sowers and reapers, traction-engines, and light-railways, all but the face of nature itself is changed—and in many parts not a little of that.

In some of the depths of Brittany, the heart of the Cantal, or the wastes of Lozère, this may be true. There indeed one might find little changed the wooden-pronged plough and rough flails, and hand labour throughout still continues its round of pastoral life as of yore; but in Normandy and the more prosperous north things have changed greatly, and always for the better.

A bird’s-eye view of the history of the provinces of France furnishes many surprises, as many, if not more, than would a résumé of the affairs of the capital, which has always reflected much more the sentiments of the country-side than has the capital of any other world power.

In spite of the more or less vulgar show of the wealth of the cities, it is in the country that the great prosperity of France lies, and in Normandy this aspect is very much to the fore.

The peasant-proprietor has always been a factor in the life and history of France. True enough, he was often suppressed and doubtless quite miserable at times; but from Martin’s history we learn that the land transfers of the time of even the Crusades were notable for their magnitude.

Between the seigneur and the serf were two classes, known as tenanciers and mainmortables. The former could bequeath their lands to their children, while the latter “lived a freeman, but died a serf,” as the saying goes, his heirs being compelled to purchase their right to inherit the land.

Just previous to the Revolution, curious as it may seem, one-third of French territory, according to Arthur Young, belonged to the peasant-proprietor.

In 1789 four millions of French subjects were land-owners, but to-day there are over eight millions, quite a fifth of the population.

Fénélon and La Bruyère drew sombre pictures of the French peasant of a former day; but they must have had in mind individual cases, or at least examples far from representative, taking into consideration the figures above given and the following statements. Foville cites the Commune of Paroz in the Department of the Seine et Marne as showing in 1768, and again more than fifty years later, that the land-holdings corresponded precisely, both in number and extent. In an article in the Contemporary Review (May, 1886) M. Baudrillart gives many more examples in a similar vein. Even during the reign of Louis XIV., when the monarchy and aristocracy were at their height, the farming peasant, in his own right, had begun to prosper.

Bois Guillebert wrote in 1709: “It would be impossible to find here a square foot of ground which does not produce all that it is capable of producing. No man is so poor that he is not decently clothed and who has not plenty of bread and drink.” (Meaning wine or drink made of fruit juices, as, for instance, the cider of Normandy—and, sometimes, an imitation of it known as “Boisson Normand.”)

In 1738 the Abbé St. Pierre wrote: “Almost all day-labourers possess a garden or a plot of ground.”

A half-century later Arthur Young, in turn pessimistic and optimistic, tells of a general prevailing prosperity of all that part of France through which he travelled. He goes particularly into details with regard to Normandy with credit to that province; while with Brittany his estimate is almost the reverse.

Balzac, that great delineator of French character, sets forth, in “Les Paysans,” the somewhat equivocal statement that the time would come, owing to the steady progress of the French peasant, when France would have neither horses nor cattle. In those days it is hardly likely that he anticipated the automobile, so we may infer that he had in mind that every peasant would be his own producer, and would accordingly not need the horse as a beast of burden to carry him and his produce to market.

The population of Normandy is in general of a full-blooded, blond type, with blue eyes, and of a good height. Misery and poverty are quite the exception throughout the farming communities, and the long blue blouse and the black bonnet, which one sees so frequently on the fair days, usually covers a wealth that at first glance is quite undiscernible.

Enter any of the ordinary farmhouses, which you may come across in a day’s travel by road, and you will see preserved many of the usages of olden times.

Your Norman of the old régime will not discard an ancient custom for another merely because it is new—sometimes he won’t even think of it in favour of a better one.

It is the hour for the repast; in the kitchen one sees a long, narrow table covered only with a simple napkin, more often none at all, but scrubbed to such a degree of whiteness as only old oak can attain.

The farmer and his household seat themselves about the table, frequently on a long bench, and the conversation is simply that of the country-side, tempered with occasional rallies as to the state of crops or the weather. There is never a word of outside interest; for as likely as not the old peasant-farmer has never left his native village, giving to his sons or his daughters’ husbands the burden of whatever intercourse may be necessary with the outside world.

A Norman Farmhouse

A Norman Farmhouse

In the Cotentin there were, and still are, though they are not built to-day, numerous mud houses and barns, quite like the adobe homes of the Mexican Indians. Some of these structures, in the Cotentin peninsula, before reaching Cherbourg, are of three stories in height, with not a rock in their make-up, being simply straw and mud strung together with beams and rafters.

The earth used for the purpose was a thick brown loam into which straw had been kneaded, after which it was cut into cakes (though not baked, as are bricks) and built into walls by layers simply. The walls are sometimes two feet thick. All the houses need is a periodical coat of whitewash to become as good as new.

France has been commonly thought to be a non-meat-eating nation, but the consumption is steadily rising. Only so late as the reign of Louis-Philippe the consumption per capita was but twenty kilos, but thirty years later it had risen forty per cent.

Lest any one should think that the peasant of Normandy knows not how to eat, let him read Gustave Flaubert’s description of a wedding-breakfast, which, in part, runs as follows:

“It was under the roof of the great wagon-shed that the table was laid. It had upon it four joints of beef, six fricasseed chickens, stewed veal, three legs of mutton, and in the middle a whole roasted suckling pig. At the corners were placed brandy in carafes and sweet cider in bottles, and all the glasses on the board were already filled to their limits. There were great dishes of yellow cream which shook at the least shock given the table, and from Yvetot came the cakes and the tarts. A great wedding-cake completed the repast. The base was a sort of temple with porticos, colonnades, and statuettes. On the second layer was a ‘keep’ composed of sweetmeats from Savoy, garnished with almonds, grapes, and oranges, while above the whole was a cupid.”

It has been a commonplace to revile French cooking for a long time, but the custom is going out of fashion.

Perhaps the English and American palate is becoming accustomed to a ragoût of mutton, rabbit garenne, or chicken chasseur, and it no longer looks “messy.” As a matter of fact, it is far more palatable than boiled fowl or the eternal boiled mutton of the average English country hotel.

In France one notes one difference, at any rate, in the country fare. The old-time inn, if it has not wholly disappeared, and there are at least a dozen reminiscent examples in Normandy which prove that it has not,—at Les Andelys and Louviers, for example,—has become more modern in the excellence of its cuisine.

There is the eternal chicken, of course, which is, however, better than eternal boiled mutton; there is a surprising frequency and variety of omelets, but they are excellent. There is always a stew of some sort, but it is not made of left-over scraps of some one else’s dinner, as is popularly supposed; and there is the roast with its salad, which is, of course, the principal dish. The crisp, green, and, above all, well-dressed salad is an infinitely better combination than best English beef and Yorkshire pudding or mutton and dumpling.

In France, too, there is always soup, which is always good—more than can be said for the feeble imitations of England and America. And there are no sticky cloying English puddings or abominable American pies to wind up with. A light, tasty cheese is served throughout Normandy, Petit Bondon, Cœur de la Crême, Pont l’Evêque, or Camembert, and a biscuit which one dips in his wine and munches thoughtfully, as he speculates as to what the price may be for all this, or how it can be done profitably at the price. The cost is not over three francs, and perhaps only two francs, fifty centimes, or even two francs.

It is a curious fact that on the beaten track in Normandy, in the Seine valley for instance,—though not all of its highroads and by-roads are well worn by English-speaking people as yet,—the patron of your hotel thinks nothing of it if you want the regulation Anglo-Saxon ham and eggs for breakfast. He only marvels if you drink café au lait with it, and then top off with jam or marmalade. If it is the former you want, you ask for confiture, but if nothing but marmalade will do—by which, in the English-speaking world over, is meant orange marmalade—you ask for “Dundee,” and you will get it, if your inn is in a town above ten thousand inhabitants.

Until recently Englishmen and Americans have had a great contempt for the out-of-door pleasures of the French, but matters have changed considerably during the past decade.

The sport of society is passed over here; horse-racing, golf, tennis, etc., and only such as form a part and parcel of the life of the common people is considered.

The French tendency in physical exercise is toward gymnastics and military drill—not quite to the German extent, but a nearer approach thereto than is found elsewhere. All this makes for a general physical improvement, class for class, throughout France. Fencing is still greatly in vogue, though, of course, it is practised, in its duelling aspect, only in the higher walks of life. When it comes to walking, the endurance of the French inhabitant of the country-side is astonishing. The peasant will trudge slowly thirty, forty, or fifty miles in the round of the clock and think nothing of it. There is not much horseback riding in France, particularly among the poorer classes, though the influence of the army has kept it from dying out entirely.

The French peasant can carry his whole family behind one horse in his light, high-wheeled cart; and, on any market-day, near a large town, you will see a cavalcade of country carts filled with a large proportion of the suburban population, all wending their way, for a dozen, fifteen, or twenty miles round about, to the market-town.

“As a nation,” says Hamerton, “the English are incomparably the finer, but the English industrial system of increasing the concentration in large towns is rapidly diminishing their collective superiority. The French generally are of small stature, so that a man of middle height in England is a tall man in France, and French soldiers in their summer fatigue blouses look to an Englishman like boys.”

A Peasant’s Cart

A Peasant’s Cart

Still, though the average Frenchman is short in stature, he is often muscular and capable of bearing great fatigue. His shortness is mainly in his legs, yet he strides vigorously in marching. Sometimes one finds a tall, powerful man in a French village, such as the men of Louis-Napoleon’s famous “Cent Guards,” and more often in Normandy than elsewhere, whereas in Brittany, even the inland country peasant has manifestly the cut of the sailorman whose ranks he mostly fills.



THE art and architecture of Normandy with respect to religious edifices, and not less with regard to its feudal châteaux, is of a peculiar variety, quite apart from the other types seen in France.

The birth of Norman architecture, as it is commonly known, was undoubtedly an out-growth of the older Romanesque.

The Scandinavian conquest of Neustria left no arts or evidences of art that would demonstrate to the least degree that these peoples brought any innovations of building with them.

The Merovingian period itself has left but few remains which are characteristic of any development of artistic taste. Hence such monuments as exist of Merovingian or the prehistoric civilizations are very meagre, and comprise no structures of any magnitude.

The Romans, however, coming between the two, have left very visible and splendid remains of their sojourn here,—though to-day in a ruinous condition,—the great theatre at Lillebonne being perhaps the chief and the most magnificent. Other important remains of this period are found near Lisieux, and Valognes, in the Cotentin.

The Romans built many defences in the region, particularly Limes, near Dieppe, and Chatelliers in the Department of the Orne. Generally the Roman defences in Lower Normandy were disposed in a double range of walls; and from these developed on a smaller scale the feudal château of later times.

Rollon and his companions had given a great impetus to the feudal régime in the duchy, and rival seigneurs built themselves strongholds, if possible, more formidable than those of their neighbours. By the ninth century this fortress-building gave way to establishments endowed with more comforts and luxuries of a domestic nature, but they continued to be fortified, as they were for a long time after.

The remains of the Châteaux of Arques, Domfront, Falaise (the birthplace of the Conqueror), Gisors, and Gaillard (the “daughter of a year” of Richard the Lion-hearted) were all wonders of their time.

All travellers for pleasure or edification have a lively interest in châteaux, whether they be of the feudal variety of fortress, or the comparatively modern domestic establishments of the Renaissance period.

Normandy had quite a representative share of both classes of these mediæval monuments, and their existing remains to-day are numerous and admirably cared for, ruins though many of them be.

Donjon of Arques (diagram)

Donjon of Arques (diagram)

According to Viollet-le-Duc, the Normans were the first to apply defensive works to a residential château, that is, an edifice which was primarily something more than a fortress.

Château Gaillard, Les Andelys

Château Gaillard, Les Andelys

Such strongly defended châteaux as that of Arques near Dieppe, whose donjon was the last to surrender to the French king after the conquering of the province, were exceedingly rare.

In general, the Norman châteaux of the eleventh and twelfth centuries were little more than a rectangular or round donjon, surrounded by exterior works of relatively little strategic importance. They were always defended by a deep fosse, and by subterranean passages which would allow the defending forces to move under cover from one point to another; and in addition, they were frequently placed upon the summit of a hill or rocky promontory, as was the case at Les Andelys, La Roche-Guyon, Falaise, and Domfront.

The Norman influence of château-building spread widely. England, of course, followed speedily; but their keeps or donjons were more often rectangular and seldom circular.

In the Vendée at Ponzanges, at Beaugency, on the Loire at Montrichard, and at Loches, the Norman influence prevailed, but still the most complete and successful examples were confined to Norman soil.

In the thirteenth century the châteaux throughout France all began to be built on one specific plan and arrangement, keeping, meanwhile, to the best traditions of Merovingian and Carlovingian times.

By the end of the thirteenth century the feudality, more or less ruined by the Crusades, were no longer in a position to build great independent fortresses; and the château by the middle of the century following had been shorn of many of its former fortifying attributes and became merely the great luxurious habitation of the seigneurs who, in other days, would have made war, or been attacked on their own account.

Some sort of defences they always retained, at least until a much later date; a fortified gateway, perhaps, a crenelated battlement, partly for use and partly for decorative purposes, and a moat, though oftentimes it was a dry one from the absence of near-by water.

By the time the fifteenth century had dawned many of the old châteaux of Normandy had been repaired, restored, or rebuilt, and many new edifices were erected; but with the Renaissance a distinctly new type was created,—that of a palatial country-house, which to all intents and purposes may be classed generally as modern châteaux, even though they may have been built up from ancient foundations.

Of this class in Normandy the most prominent were the magnificent establishment of the Archbishops of Rouen at Gaillon, the Château Inférieure at La Roche-Guyon, the Châteaux d’Eu, d’Anet, and Fontaine Henri.

If one could trace the history of all the châteaux of France, or even of Normandy and Brittany, to which are attached facts of historical or romantic purport, or which are endowed with artistic tributes, or are picturesquely environed, the results would make a formidable and most interesting work.

In France by the end of the ninth century there were some twenty thousand châteaux, so recognized by their own individual names.

The châtelain, or feudal lord, was a veritable king in his own domain, with his standard, his court of justice, and his vassals; and, quite rightly, in many cases he said to his people, “I will defend you against the enemy, and give you the right of refuge behind the thick walls of my château; at the moment of danger the pont-levis will lower for you, your wives, and your children.”

The discussion of the rights or wrongs of the feudal system is too big a subject to have place here; and, while the serfs of a former day may have suffered in many instances, there was a certain paternal care which doubtless more than overshadowed the ill deeds of the comparatively few overbearing and tyrannical lords.

Not every tenantless and ruined château or seigneurial manor of Normandy is a monument of greed and rapacity, and one need not conjure up a picture of other days, with peasants’ fields trampled and uptorn, and cattle and grain seized, in order to draw disparaging contrasts as compared with the times in which we live.

The history of feudalism is a long and lurid one in many respects; but there is much of the domestic life of the times which points again and again to the fact that the overlord and his serfs were not in far different relations than the king and his vassals, or the landlord and tenant of to-day.

Time was when a certain class of feudal barons were robbers who lived in moated and turreted castles and raided on the peasants beneath their walls, or compelled them to bring to their castles the products of the fields; but this was not so common in Normandy as elsewhere, and was more German than French. If one is to believe the chronicles of the feudal lords of Normandy and the northwest of France, there were a great many who promulgated a law much more charitable and fair than that in force in many a “boss-ridden” community of to-day, in England or America.

When the Franks became masters of Gaul they were quite content to let the old system of administration still obtain, and to confide to some count the governorship of the cities. He was usually a person who was subservient to the governor of the district, who, on his part, deferred to the heads of the province and the kingdom.

The office was hereditary in most cases; and, as the possessors of benefices which were withheld from the masses, they at first demanded an allegiance which, in later times, came to be greatly abridged.

This was the beginning of the feudal system in France. It became complete when Charles the Bold consecrated the hereditary offices by the “Capitulaire de Kiersi-sur-Oise,” in 877.

Each seigneur reigned in his fief over his serfs and vassals; and he in turn was subordinate to the count or duke, a rank higher up, the count himself regulating his movements and actions according to the will of the king.

Under the feudal system the government offered great opportunities for irregularities, and the Roman law and rulings practically disappeared from all but the ecclesiastical divisions.

From the tenth to the fourteenth centuries France was divided into as many petty states as there were cantons or châteaux; and, so far as intercommunication for purposes of commerce were concerned, the only relations with the outside world were by the aid of great periodical fairs, such as were held at Beaucaire in Provence, the most celebrated of all, where the volume of trade was second only to that of Nijni-Novgorod in Russia. In the north this great fair found its counterparts at St. Denis, near Paris, and at Guibray, near Falaise in Normandy, which was next to Beaucaire in magnitude and importance. As to other outside communications, it developed largely along the line of raids and warlike incursions into neighbouring territory, as a result of jealousy and envy between the various seigneurs. The only other opportunities offered for the lower classes to mingle with the great world, beyond the feudal territory which claimed them for its own, was through the means of religious pilgrimages and the Crusades.

This description to a great extent applies only to the châteaux of the powerful and wealthy seigneurs.

One then comes to the small nobility and their manor-houses, which were only less grand and luxurious in degree, not in kind. They were not fortified, save by an encircling wall, often of great height and thickness, which enclosed the whole domestic establishment and its home grounds. The manor-house of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries took frequent root in Normandy, and was often very splendid in its appointments and proportions.

The château of to-day, as one finds it in France, that is, the strictly modern edifice, which often bears the high-sounding name of château, is nothing more than a country-house of a small manufacturer or merchant; who, after thirty or forty years of a strenuous life, has married off his daughters and sons, and wishes to settle down in the country, and surround himself and his wife with the comforts of life and amid a glamour which, he fancies, somewhat approaches the splendour of the olden times.

All this is commendable enough, of course, and it is much better that such a châtelain should build a brand-new red brick and green-and-yellow tiled pompous edifice, with a plaster cat on the ridge-pole, than that he should buy and seek to remodel in new style a really good old-time edifice.

Ancient Manor d’Argouges

Ancient Manor d’Argouges

With the inherent good taste undoubtedly possessed by the French, it is astonishing how ugly and bizarre their modern country-houses are, examples of which one often sees in Normandy, along the Seine in the suburbs of Rouen, or in the neighbourhood of Dieppe or Trouville.

In the blazonry of the arms of the nobility of France, the château has a supreme significance. Wherever it is seen incorporated in quarterings, whether with a single tower or three, it signifies that the châtelain thereof has rendered some signal service to the state of France in its royal days.

Renaissance architecture in Normandy never achieved the magnitude that it did elsewhere in France, albeit certain notable structures yet exist to tell of the excellence of its comparatively few examples.

In the beginning Pierre Fain and Guillaume Senault built the archiepiscopal château at Gaillon, truly one of the wonders of the Renaissance. Roland Leroux erected that highly ornate tomb of the Amboise cardinals in Rouen’s cathedral, which, however, must be considered as merely a decorative, and not a constructive, work. In Caen and its environs Hector Sohier and a truly great unknown exercised their genius between 1515 and 1545. At Gisors, three generations of architects by the name of Grappin, Jean I., Robert, and Jean II., proved their originality.

This was the start made which culminated in the Hôtel Bourgtheroulde and the Palais de Justice at Rouen.

If the notable examples of early Renaissance in Normandy are not so numerous as elsewhere, they are certainly as beautiful, and reflect great credit upon their designers.

Throughout the Caux, in Normandy, there are innumerable seventeenth and eighteenth century châteaux. They do not rise to the splendour of the great Renaissance edifices of the Loire, neither in point of grandeur, excellence of their artistic embellishment, nor in their historical reminiscence. They are not so very large; their architecture is in general a great fall from that of the Renaissance beauties of the preceding centuries, and only infrequently were their associations intimately related with the court.

In spite of all this they exhibit many excellencies of detail, and, if simply built, are at least in much better taste and more appealing form than seventeenth-century architecture in general. Many of them are of brick, and are of imposing aspect, when considered from the point of view of great country-houses alone. Frequently they are preceded by flower-gardens, which are in turn faced with greensward, in most delightful fashion. Great avenues of trees lead from the highroad, and generally the aspect is one of great comfort, if not of extravagant luxury.

To-day, in many instances, these great domains are simply what are known as “high-farms,” where the gentleman farmer who lives in the great house is in far better odour than the country squire in England, principally from the reason that he often rents, sells, or works in shares such a part of his land as he does not work direct. This is an admirable system, which works wonderfully well throughout France, and should be studied by agriculturists and economists elsewhere.



THE religious architecture of Normandy, from the tenth century onward, with regard to abbeys, cathedrals, and parish churches alike, was so abundant and splendid as to merit the naming of the style as Norman.

The monkish builders of these early days, following in the wake of the Conqueror, went throughout the length and breadth of Britain, sowing the seed that was to develop the Anglo-Norman variety which, truth to tell, differs in many instances not at all from the parent style, seen at its best in such great edifices as the abbey churches of Jumièges and St. Georges de Boscherville, near Rouen.

Normandy did not fall under the sway of the ogival or Gothic style, which had established itself in the Ile de France and Picardy, until quite a hundred years after it made its appearance there (1150).

The Norman-Romanesque, for such the local style really was, was distinguished by a relative strength and grandeur which ranked it far ahead of the pure Romanesque in its general interest. Its walls were of great thickness, and frequently of great height, and the demi-rond arcatures, often interlaced for decorative effect, were distinctly characteristic.

The capitals were richly decorated, but seldom, if ever, in the style imported by the Romans from the Greek, and the geometrical, and zigzag, and lozenge decorations of the walls were, if bizarre, a departure from anything heretofore seen. Seldom, if ever, were plant-forms made use of, and statuary and effigies were, in the beginning, excessively rare.

Frequently in the early Norman churches there was no ambulatory to the choir, and the easterly termination took the form of a flat chevet rather than that of the trefoil or fan-like arrangement which had to some extent obtained in the pure Romanesque type, and was undergoing a high development through the interpolation of the flying buttress or arc-boutant in the newly innovated Gothic of the Ile de France.

The towers frequently numbered three, a great central tower and two smaller members flanking the façade, or perhaps one of the transepts. This great central tower gave rise to the lantern, which, for the purpose of lighting alone, proved a most desirable feature, and which, for long after the advent of Gothic, was retained in many Norman edifices in England.

From the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries the distinct Norman style developed rapidly before it was entirely crowded out by the onrushing wave of Gothic. In its rudimentary forms it is found as early as the ninth century, and some details lingered even after the wholesale advent of Gothic, but practically its reign was but three hundred years.

It was between 1180 and 1200 that Normandy received the first Gothic inspiration from the Ile de France. It resulted, at first, only in the interpolation of certain details of decoration, differing from the severer lines of the Normanesque; colonnets piled themselves up on columns, and instead of great cylinders and octagons, the ploughed and channelled Gothic piers slowly crept in. The windows gradually took on the pointed arch, and the tracery became more elaborate. Finally the triforium came, and balustrades, rosaces, and fleurons, and sculptured capitals, after the form of leaves and branches, completed the transition to pure Gothic forms.

At the end of the third ovigal period, when the Gothic was losing its individuality of character elsewhere in France, it was still flourishing in Normandy, and produced such marvellous examples as the south façade of Notre Dame de Louviers, the porch front at Alençon, and St. Maclou at Rouen, to say nothing of the more elaborate façade of Rouen’s cathedral.

In the Department of Manche one encounters frequent village churches with massive rectangular central towers after the manner of the large parish church in England, and once and again one comes upon a squared-off east end, such as is so greatly in vogue in England, and so infrequently seen in France,—the great parish church of Notre Dame at Grand Andelys, on the Seine, being one of the most notable Norman examples.

During the reign of Charles VII. and Louis XI. there was a great building revival wherein the principles of the Renaissance—brought from Italy, doubtless, by the nobles in the train of Charles VII.—flourished to the exclusion of any other style.

Here in Normandy, as elsewhere in France, the Renaissance architecture came to its greatest glories with respect to domestic establishments and civic buildings, though once and again there were manifestly good Renaissance details incorporated into the fabric of a great church, the most successful and notable example of such in Normandy being Hector Sohier’s work at St. Pierre in Caen.

The great château of the Archbishops of Rouen at Gaillon was a notable example of the other class, also the Hôtel Bourgtheroulde at Rouen, and such smaller works as the tomb of the Cardinals of Amboise in Rouen’s cathedral, and the Hôtel d’Escoville at Caen.

It is commonly thought that the beauties of the Renaissance in the lower Seine valley came as a result of the influence of the Cardinals of Amboise, who built the great château at Gaillon. So far as religious edifices went, it was mostly with respect to interpolated details or restorations that the style took on any very great proportions, though the evidences that one sees in the cathedral at Evreux and in the great hybrid church at Gisors are by no means slight in bulk.

The Towers of St. Eloi and St. Martin at Rouen are notable examples, and some parts of the parish church at Jumièges and the three chapels of the church of St. Jacques at Dieppe complete the list of really prominent religious Renaissance works in Normandy.




THREE great gateways to Paris, from England’s shores, lie through Normandy: via Cherbourg and the Cotentin, via Dieppe and the Pays de Caux, and via Havre and the Seine valley, by the old Norman capital of Rouen.

All three routes traverse a lovely country, but it is probable that the one by the great silent highway of the Seine is the most picturesque and historically interesting of its length in the whole world.

If the Seine be truly a great highway—the main street—of that elongated metropolis which extends from the Ile de la Cité, at Paris, to Havre, it is equally true that the roadways along either bank become its footpaths or sidewalks, and that the parallel highroads, running along either side not far from the river-bank, are as busy with wheeled traffic as any other of the great national roads of France.

“The Seine,” says Michelet, “is the most civilized and the most perfect of the rivers of France. It bears the spirit of Paris to Normandy, to the sea, to England, and to far-away America.”

“The valley,” say the geographers, “is monotonous up to Paris, varied to Rouen, and picturesque to Havre.” Deep-sea navigation is possible from its mouth to Paris, and above all as far as to Rouen, to which point great ships come and go with the same regularity that would obtain in a seacoast port. The tide of the ocean rises and falls as high up as Pont de l’Arche, where the first dam and lock are built.

The affluents of the Seine below Paris are the Oise, its principal tributary, which has its birth in the distant Ardennes in Belgium; the Epte, a “pure water” stream which flows through a charming valley, from Forges-les-Eaux to Giverny near Vernon; the Andelle, less important, but a wonderfully picturesque little river, which joins the parent stream near Pont de l’Arche. The Eure also comes to its confluence with the Seine at the same point, and the Risle, which rises near La Perche, after 140 kilometres, finally reaches the sea through the Seine at Quillebeuf.

An Inn by the Seine

An Inn by the Seine

The populous and charmingly situated towns of the Seine valley, its wooded banks and forests, and the delightful roads along its banks, with here and there a château half-hidden by trees, to say nothing of the bosom of the stream itself, which forms a greatly travelled highway of another sort, all combine to present a continually changing scene, which is not excelled in all France.

There is a little village on the banks of the Seine below Vernon, where everything save the grand old ruin near by dates from the time, a dozen or more years ago, when a well-known American millionaire stopped there in his long, low-built steam-yacht, and requisitioned all the resources of the town’s not very ample supplies in provender for himself and his “suite,” as the native will tell you. The party did not remain long—over one night only, and for the petit déjeuner the next day—but they must have strewn their pathway with gold, for the memory of the event still lingers.

Strange to say, this little old-world town has not become spoiled, and is not yet a popular resort, though now that an “artist colony” of a dozen or more young ladies descended upon it the last summer, in charge of a patriarchal old gentleman and his wife, its popularity appears to be on the increase.

The great highway of the Seine which connects the capital of France with the capital of Normandy forms, for the most part of its course below Paris, a broad, silvery band, which winds its way around numerous small islands until it comes well up to Rouen, when for fifty or more kilometres—as marked by the broad, white, and plainly visible stones along its banks—it flows through deep-cut cliffs of chalk crowned with greensward.

Below Rouen, after La Bouille is passed, the banks flatten out, until at Caudebec they take on quite a low-country aspect, from whence the Seine makes its way to the sea through the shifting sand-bars at its mouth.

For forty kilometres above Havre the estuary is a broad, lagoon-like expanse which looks little enough like a channel to the sea, though the country round about is not wholly flat, at least not in the distance.

Havre many travellers know as a port of embarkation or debarkation for the great Atlantic liners under the subsidy of the French government. Trouville, to the westward from Havre, across this broad bay of the Seine, is a genuine resort of rank and fashion, not dull, to be sure, but as stale and unprofitable a place in which to linger as one can well imagine. It is the abode of the fashionable world and of millionaires who are unable to take their pleasures except to the accompaniment of details which are not even luxuries to many others, but which to them are necessities of prime importance.

Etretat, practically equidistant eastward, offers much the same attractions, with this difference: it has, or had a half-century ago, a great vogue among artists. Its sea and sky and chalk cliffs are still there, all, it would seem, in a more superlative degree than elsewhere along the coast, but casinos, de luxe hotels, and “five o’clocks” have eliminated all the idyllic foreground, or at least thrust it paradoxically into the distance.

There are a dozen or more similar seashore resorts in the immediate neighbourhood, but when one turns the prow of his motor-boat upstream, or starts his automobile on the road which follows either bank of the Seine for the greater part of the distance from sea to source, he enters immediately upon associations of history and romance that are linked with an unbreakable silvery thread, which never allows one to forget or ignore the fact of its presence or the part it has played in the past.

Eastward lies the province of Caux, of the ancient peoples known as the Calétes, while westward, and onward through the valley of the Eure, the chief tributary of the Seine on the left bank below Paris, is the real Normandy, whose junction with the Isle of France—the ancient domain of the third race of kings—and the fertile plain of La Beauce is marked by the village of Houdan.

It was Napoleon, as first consul, who said that in time to come, Havre, Rouen, and Paris would be one and the same city, and the Seine would be the grand highway.

There is generally to be found lying at the Quai de la Hôtel de Ville, at Paris, a dumpy-looking little steamboat, with stubby masts and a collapsible funnel, which, when all is in order and shipshape, has quite the look of a deep-sea craft. In a way it performs much the same functions, for the passage of some twenty hours from Tower Bridge on London’s river to the entrance to the Seine at Havre is more often than not of a boisterousness quite the equal of the far-away briny deep itself.

Writing a hundred years after the great consul passed his observations on the great highway of the Seine, one realizes still more that its entire course, from Paris to Havre, in no small way resembles a great business thoroughfare, with its marts of trade on either hand, its green open places, its populous centres, its more bare and less pretentious areas, and its cross-roads represented by the inflowing streams, which empty into it from all directions.

In addition, the progress of the ages has multiplied the earth-roads along its banks, and the boats upon its bosom, and the iron rails which connect it with the uttermost corners of the land, bind and protect its permanent value as a great highway of trade.

One other aspect to-day, of which the majority of English-speaking folk know but little, is that the river is greatly given over, on certain occasions and on all fête-days, to sports.

The oarsman has come in the last half-century in great numbers, and in all the large centres on the banks of the Seine he is found, as often as occasion permits, in his racing boat, or shell, a name he has adopted from the English vocabulary. He may not go about his sport as scientifically as his American or English brother, but he is quite as enthusiastic.

To-day, also, the Seine is the true home of the automobile-boat. As an innovation of the times it has had some success elsewhere, but nowhere has the practice of the sport been achieved with the success that it has in that broad, though sinuous stretch of water between the islands below Paris.

Following again on the lines of Napoleon’s words, one appreciates that, if Havre, Paris, and Rouen have not yet become one, Rouen and Havre have come very near to it, for between the principal city of Normandy and the seaport city on La Manche—as the French prefer to call the English Channel—are a succession of villages and towns, one scarcely out of sight of the other, all swarming with industry and life, from the artists who throng Caudebec in summer to the peasants who, on a fête-day, crowd into the nearest centre of population to stare at townfolk and drink a particularly vile brand of the native cognac—calvados—known in parts of America as “applejack” or hard cider.

As a patriotic and observing Frenchman from the Midi told the writer: “Nowhere else in France may one see so grand a succession of charms and beauties, nowhere receive so live and varied impressions—the splendours of the arts of other days surrounded by the wonders of modern activities—as here in this beautiful stretch of the Seine through Normandy.

This is not fulsome praise, but enthusiasm merely, bred of intimate acquaintance.

One dreams of the time when Paris was but a tiny bourg: then Rouen was already a great city, having all the prerogatives of a capital. Indeed, capital she was, in effect, under the Romans, who made their way along the Seine and established their country along the banks of the majestic river.

On a certain occasion it was a great question with the author of this book as to whether a journey through the Seine valley in Normandy should be made by means of the novel and speedy motor-boat, or some other small water-craft, or by the better known motor-car.

A covered wagon, too, was thought of, with two small horses and a gipsy driver, but the thing had been done before, and it was not wholly with equanimity that we contemplated jolting over the many miles of the rough streets for which French towns are noted.

For more reasons than one the motor-boat would not do. So the decision ultimately came to the land automobile.

This offered great possibilities for exploration, in a well-known land, to be sure, but as an enthusiastic automobilist once said, it was vastly more satisfactory to him to discover a new and picturesque route from some Channel port to the south of France, than it would be to cleave a new path through trackless Africa.

The towns and places of historic interest or romantic beauty, if not of the river itself, were on its banks or near them, and were properly enough always considered in connection with the Seine.

The itinerary of the Seine occupied the whole of one long, bright summer, and when one adds to this the numerous excursions out of the Seine valley proper into those of its watershed,—up the Eure to Anet, the Ept to Gisors, or the Andelle to Lyons-le-Forêt or beyond,—one rounds off a considerable number of miles or kilometres to one’s credit, besides accomplishing much more than could possibly be achieved were the journey attempted by boat.

We progressed beautifully for the greater part of the journey. Occasionally, off the beaten track—while trying to discover that new route across France, or rather across Normandy from one river valley to another—we came upon a hill too stiff for us to surmount at the top speed. There is one in the Forêt du Rouvray near Grand Couronne, and another at La Thuit near Les Andelys; but in France such ungraded hills are few and far between. Even the dreaded Côte de Gaillon, of hill-climbing fame, paled before our machine, and we took it flying at twenty kilometres an hour.

Only one thing could have made our journey more delightful,—and that unfortunately was not possible,—the possession of a sort of amphibious automobile which, when occasion required, would take to water for a space,—we did take to water on one occasion, but the circumstance is too reminiscent of misery to recount here,—or to go one better, some sort of a machine constructed by the ingenuity of man which should travel by land, by water, or through the air; then bad stretches of pavé would truly be eliminated and all hills levelled. But this would indeed be in the millennium, and this book deals only with facts.

One enters the Seine from the sea at Havre by rounding a veritable graveyard of rocks. When we entered Havre on this occasion—the artist, the automobile, and the author, it was a dull, misty morning in May, and the hour, 5 A. M.

The cross-channel boat progressed slowly through the basin to its dock, swung its length as slowly around, and finally tied up with its deck some eight feet below the level of the wharf pavement.

The process of disembarking an automobile under these conditions was complicated. With true British conservatism of tradition, the captain, his mate, quartermaster, and crew of engineers and stokers declared that the automobile could not be landed “until the tide served,”—and it was still going down.

Meantime the patron of the local garage, having been advised of our coming, was on the wharf thoroughly equipped to receive us. Accompanying this thoughtful individual was a rubicund, genial-looking gentleman who afterward proved to be the representative of the Département des Mines, who had come from Rouen sometime during the still hours of the night, to put us through our paces. Clambering the steeply pitched gangplank, the author—who in this case was also the chauffeur—interviewed the before-mentioned gentlemen, thinking meanwhile that it was more or less astonishing that they should have put in an appearance at such an early hour.

It was suggested that a half-dozen stalwart Frenchmen could lift the automobile and all its twelve hundredweight on their shoulders. It seemed incredible, but it was worth trying—otherwise, four hours delay. It was tried, to the contempt of the crew of the steamer, and to their chagrin the feat was accomplished at a cost of three francs, which was immediately expended in calvados at the little cabaret opposite.

With the aid of the Automobile Club membership card, the custom-house was passed without difficulty or delay. The tanks were filled with naphtha, water, and oil, and forthwith the test was made—before the rubicund gentleman from Rouen—upon the outcome of which our certificate of fitness was to be granted or refused.

There was nothing formidable about the process, though we came to grief, or rather to a standstill, in the midst of a flock of sheep just around the corner, and, in returning, stopped only within the proverbial hair’s breadth of a flock of geese who had flutteringly escaped from a near-by market stall.

All this seemed to demonstrate a high and efficient degree of ability, and “un certificat de capacité pour la conduite des voitures automobiles à pétrole” was given us forthwith, and long before the hour of high water we were in full cry at the French legal limit for traversing the streets and boulevards of a large and populous city such as Havre.

The bad effects of the exceedingly bad coffee, and equally unpalatable “cottage loaf,” purveyed to us at that early hour on board ship, had now been dissipated in air, and another coffee and rolls taken at a café on the tree-shaded Place Gambetta proved to be so appetizing that we lingered on for déjeuner.



HAVRE is one of those neglected tourist points through which travellers frantically rush en route to—well, almost anywhere you like, Paris, Switzerland, or the Riviera. It is, accordingly, not so well known as it might otherwise be, a distinction it shares with Boulogne and Calais. Havre is a typical example of the “large modern city.” It has not the abounding wealth of historical association of Rouen. It is a city of new houses and new streets, laid out after the geometric manner in favour in America. But if the monuments of the past are rare, Havre is none the less an attractive and gay city, and the inhabitants are justly proud of their Rue de Paris and their Place Gambetta, which, truly, would dignify the capital itself. But one’s admiration never loses the key-note. The chief joy of Havre is its gigantic port, which controls the fifth part of the commerce of France.

The great strength and value of the port of Havre is that, as it stands to-day, it is modern.

When Napoleon, in his prophetic words, linked the city with Paris and Rouen, it had but twenty thousand souls. Fifty years later it had risen to thirty thousand, and more recently, since the efforts of the engineers Colbert and Vauban and the solicitations of statesmen have provided it with a grand port of entry, it maintains a steadily rising population above 130,000 souls, all practically dependent upon the commerce of the city for their support. As French cities go, this is an astonishing percentage of growth.

Mounting the heights of Ingouville, one sees unrolled at his feet, in an imposing panorama, the city of Havre to its uttermost confines, its port, its ten docks, its wharfs, its suburbs, the immense estuary of the Seine, Cape de la Hève, and the sea, with the white and brown sails of the ships and fishing-boats, and the parti-coloured funnels and hulls of big steamers. In thirty years the movement of ships in and out of the port has swelled from 2,600,000 tons to more than six million. Of passengers by sea, long voyages and short ones taken together, Havre, within a single year, has embarked and disembarked a total of 550,000 persons. Think of this, ye who suppose France an effete and untravelled nation; and this is only the normal business of a city of 130,000 inhabitants.

Cape de la Hève

Cape de la Hève

The expense of all this vast equipment was of course considerable. It may convey nothing to many passers-by to know that Havre, in the last ten years, has spent some forty-one millions of francs on these improvements, whilst the Chamber of Commerce has been directly responsible for perhaps twenty-five millions more, all of which ought to be a sufficiently tangible and plausible endorsement that the work is being well done. When the work is complete the port of Havre will rival the greatest in the world in magnitude and convenience. The historical remains of Havre may not equal those of many other of the important cities of France, and the Rue de Paris and the café-bordered Place Gambetta may be poor substitutes, but, nevertheless, Havre’s past is historic, though the ancient Havre de Grâce has disappeared entirely.

It was here, in 1514, that Leroy, the commandant of Honfleur, carried out the orders of François I. to “excavate and construct a port suitable and convenient to receive, provide for, and equip large ships, not only of our own kingdom, but of our allies.” From this may be said to have grown the present great port. The name of the city itself grew out of a chapel founded a few years before by Louis XII. (1509).

Primarily François I. may have desired to make it a great home-port, but no less did he have in mind that here was a most suitable place to assemble his fleet, which some day he would put forth against England.

In 1545 he actually did get together nearly two hundred ships of all sorts and conditions of fighting capacity for a descent upon England at the Isle of Wight. The expedition was repulsed, and in return, in a few years’ time (1562), the port was occupied by an English garrison.

Henri IV., the great Cardinal Richelieu, and Colbert were responsible in no small measure for the great prosperity and strength which soon settled down upon the city, though by the end of the seventeenth century it dawned upon the English that here, at their very doors, was a maritime rival which looked as though it were to outdistance all others in the north of Europe.

As a precautionary measure, presumably, the English fleet made an attack upon the port, but they in their turn met as fierce a repulse as did the French in England under François I. Admiral Sir Sidney Smith, in a vain attempt to capture a French vessel close under the guns of the fortress, was captured and held a prisoner by the French in the old citadel built by Charles IX. It was here, too, by the way, that the crafty Mazarin imprisoned the Princes of Condé, Conti, and the Duc de Longueville. It is recorded, in the annals of the city, that in the year 1535 the greater part of the newer portions were swept away and large numbers of persons drowned, by an extraordinary tidal wave—the ancestor, perhaps, of those which periodically ascend the Seine, to the joy of the tourist and the incidental profit of the innkeepers at Caudebec.

Large numbers of persons were drowned, mostly farmers who had gathered in the town “pour la populer,” as the chronicle gives it.

In general, matters of artistic and archæological interest are wanting in this city of commercialism, of great hotels, and the hum and echo of the workaday world.

The Art Museum, to be sure, has examples of the masterpieces of Poussin and Carrache, and even a Rubens, a Murillo, and a Van Dyck, but, on the other hand, the public monuments of the city are not artistic.

Pilgrims to literary shrines should remember that Havre was the birthplace of Bernardin St. Pierre, whose “Paul and Virginia” is as immortal to the Frenchman as “Locksley Hall” to an Englishman. St. Pierre’s statue, by David d’Angers, as well as another of Casimir Delavigne, stands before the Art Museum. Another monument on the cliff above the city, to Lefevre Desnouettes, once and again comes into view as one strolls about. It is one of the most atrocious monuments ever erected to the memory of man.

Havre is splendid and elegant in its way, but it is not picturesque, except possibly in the low streets near the wharfs, frequented by sailors, which have a cosmopolitanism reminiscent of Marseilles, itself the most thoroughly cosmopolitan of all the ports of the world.

Here are strange, perhaps dangerous, cabarets, cafés-concerts, and questionable amusements of all sorts, where strange and uncouth customs shoulder each other in a veritable babel of tongues; mulattos from the Caribbean Sea, Maltese, Greeks, Lascars, Chinamen, and above all Portuguese, with an occasional English or American sailor down on his luck,—all are here. Calvados, and dirks, and sharp knives all play their part, and clearly the quayside of Havre is no place after dark.

From the heights of Ingouville, of Cape de la Hève, or of Graville, the illuminated effect of the city at night is wonderfully soft, picturesque, and beautiful, the houses of all ranks twinkling with lights, the streets and wharves luminous with orbs of electricity and the reds, greens, and whites of the semaphore, the ships beyond flashing out to each other signals and commands inexplicable to a landsman,—all blend wonderfully into what the great Whistler would have called a nocturne.

Once and again one will hear the infinitely sad wail of a siren whistle on some vessel outward or inward bound, which will suggest the mutability of all things, and the strain and stress under which we live.

But on the whole, a midnight reverie on the heights above the old Havre de Grâce should awaken as pleasant emotions as the same view in broad day—perhaps more so.

The Seine, at its mouth, has as many whims as a stricken hare. Its channel turns about on itself in truly bewildering fashion, and what was this year deep water and a fairway, next year becomes, perhaps, dry land, or at least damp sand or swamp. In 1886 the channel followed somewhat the shore of the north bank from Tancarville to the sea, but by 1889 it had shifted to the south bank, and two years later seemed likely to engulf the ancient town of Honfleur, which was prosperous in the fifteenth century, before Havre was even thought of. Indeed its harbour is now so silted up that most of its commercial prosperity, though not its picturesqueness, has disappeared.

It is written in the books of travellers with tourist tickets that they may journey Paris-ward from Havre by Rouen either by boat or rail during the summer months. Many avail themselves of the alternative water route, and many do not. Those who do not miss a unique trip which is well worth the extra hours en route, though there is no very grand scenery until one comes well up with suburban Rouen, at, say, Molineux-La Bouille.

From the harbour at Havre runs the Tancarville Canal, which is a smooth, straight waterway which enables craft proceeding up river to avoid the shifting sands of the estuary and, at certain seasons of the year, to escape the tidal wave or mascaret.

As a waterway of the rank of the deep-sea canals of Holland, the Tancarville Canal looks, at first glance, wofully inefficient; but its almost constant use precludes any doubt as to its value.

It runs straight as the crow flies from Havre to Harfleur, and thence to Tancarville itself, where it joins the Seine, through the first lock, at the twenty-third kilometre mark from Havre.

The section of the Seine between Havre and Rouen forms what is known officially as the “Ninth Section,” though the application is properly given as one descends the stream, the section above, from Rouen to the mouth of the Oise, being known as the “Eighth Section.”

From the five hundred and sixty-third kilometre mark, at Havre, counting from Méry in the Department of the Aube, near Troyes, to Rouen, is 125 kilometres.

Up to the latter point, the rules of navigation as known upon the deep seas are applicable, and those which apply to the navigation of rivers, canals, lakes, and ponds of fresh water cease to apply.

The law on this subject is very explicit, and was promulgated in 1890, because of the lack of uniformity existing in the laws relating to navigation on French waterways. On the Seine the actual line of delimitation is at the curious, though not ungainly, Bridge du Transbordeur at Rouen.

The entire ninth section of the Seine is officially recognized as navigable for the whole of its 338 kilometres from Havre to the confluence of the Oise, its most important tributary below Paris.

Below Paris freight is carried largely by towboats. But there are some steam-carriers of curious design and build with a pair of twin stern-wheels revolving like a squirrel-cage, the pilot or helmsman perched upon a little platform between. These quaint craft carry from 150 to 280 tons of package freight, the péniches from 200 to 400 tons, and the barges perhaps as much as 650 tons. Recent improvements in dredging have given a depth of water which has of late allowed the development and use of a new type of steamer.

The steam-coasters carry a maximum of 750 tons at sea, from Havre to St. Brieuc or Morlaix, or to Dunkerque, and five hundred tons in the river.

Towboats on the Seine

Towboats on the Seine

Another sort of large barge has a carrying capacity of one thousand tons, on a significantly shallow draught, and finally, there are the steam-coasters, already mentioned, making the service between Paris and London, which are in reality ocean-going steamers, in spite of their collapsible masts and funnels.

Opposite Havre and connected by frequent boat journeys during the day is the most ancient port of Honfleur. One frequently enough reaches it via Havre, but, properly speaking, it belongs to that little group of coastwise cities and towns which stretches from the mouth of the Seine to the Cotentin.

Just above Havre on the Seine is the florid spire of the noble church of Harfleur,—not to be confounded with the now dormant port of Honfleur on the opposite bank,—one of the most imposingly placed spires in Normandy, if not in France.

Harfleur was besieged in 1415 by Henry V. of England, and fell after forty days, when sixteen hundred families were transported to England, “without having any belongings except the clothes they stood in and five sols each.”

The superb spire of St. Martin’s Church dates from the fifteenth century and dominates the fifteenth and sixteenth-century houses at its base quite like an angel guardian. The sixteenth-century château of the Comte de Labédoyère is an imposing edifice in the style of Louis XIII.

To-day this old seaport of Harfleur—which, like Honfleur across the estuary, has lost its former pride and glory—is scarcely more than a suburb of Havre, a half-dozen kilometres distant.

On an isolated cliff on the Seine above Harfleur, one sees the two great towers of the Château of Tancarville. This fortress-château was first built in the eleventh or twelfth century, on the plan of a triangle, having at each of its angles a great tower, and, on the intervening walls on each side, intermediate towers to the number of seven.

Within the walls was the castle of the seigneurs of Tancarville, of which more or less fragmentary ruins still remain.

On the terrace masking the ruins is the new château, a cold, modern edifice which no one could possibly be in love with, but for the admirably imposing outlook from its windows.

Lillebonne, on the Seine midway between Rouen and Havre, is known to have the remains of one of the most northerly—if not the most northerly—Roman amphitheatre extant.

Supposedly this little Seine-side town was named for the great Roman and bore the name Juliabona, from which was derived its present nomenclature.

Numerous Roman antiques have been discovered here from time to time,—most of which are to be seen in the museum at Rouen,—which marks it as having been a city of importance, indeed only such ever had a great open-air theatre such as is indicated by the remains visible at Lillebonne to-day.

Lillebonne was also the capital of the Province of Caux, but fell into decadence after the invasions. The Norman William resuscitated the place and made it a strong fortification. Remains of his château, also restored in the thirteenth century by the Comtes d’Harcourt, who in turn possessed the town, are yet to be seen. For the most part the edifice is in fragments, but enough remains of the old walls,—now forming a terrace,—a crenelated low tower, a hexagonal tower, and a cylindrical donjon—with walls a dozen feet in thickness—to suggest that the town’s former importance under the Norman dukes was quite the equal of that of its Roman days.

Lillebonne has also a most interesting mediæval church, dating from the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries.

At last one reaches Caudebec-en-Caux, a picturesque old town, with a most magnificent parish church and a little tree-bordered quay which is charming. But in season all is spoiled by the general attitude of lying in wait for unwary trippers and excursionists from London, which seems to have set its mark upon the inhabitants of this otherwise delightful stopping-place.

Quay of Caudebec-en-Caux

Quay of Caudebec-en-Caux

That great wonder of nature, the mascaret, is the great drawing-card of Caudebec, even more than the artistic pretensions of its flamboyant fifteenth-century church, with its wonderful spire, the old houses of the town, its famous market, and the quaint costumes of the Cauchoise women.

The great wave comes suddenly, as if the flood-gates were let loose, to a height of two or three metres above the normal surface of the water, and during May or June, when the mascaret is at its best, it is the chief magnet of attraction to scores of travellers who have timed their itineraries so as to witness this freak of nature.

The market-place of Caudebec is most delightfully situated, extending from the base of the old church to the tree-bordered quays, where also are the town’s two chief hotels, with delightful little balconies, on which one may dine and watch the throng below and the water-borne traffic of the Seine.

The banks of the Seine itself at Caudebec begin to rise and narrow, and the generally flat lowland aspect takes on more of the nature of wooded hills, with an occasional château or church peeping out from among the trees.

Next above Caudebec is one of the most celebrated abbeys in the north of France, St. Wandrille’s. It keeps company, or rather its ruin does, with those other grand remains of Jumièges and St. Georges de Boscherville, all of which lie within a twenty-mile square plot of ground on the two peninsulas made by the windings of the Seine just north of Rouen.

The cloister of St. Wandrille, which, in ruins, may yet be seen, was one of the most beautiful of the middle ages.

The founder of the abbey, in 648, was St. Wandrille, a disciple of St. Columba and a member of one of the most distinguished families of Austrasia. St. Wandrille exercised the most important functions at the court of Pepin, but subsequently retired to the monastery of Montfauçon in Champagne, ultimately to come to Normandy, where he founded the monastery of Fontenelle, or St. Wandrille, as it afterward became known.

In a little time the establishment came to a flourishing prosperity, with over three hundred monks.

St. Wandrille evangelized the entire Province de Caux and sent out many colonies of monks to carry on the work.

From the Abbey of Fontenelle came St. Lambert, Bishop of Lyons, St. Ansbart, the Bishop of Rouen, St. Gennade, and St. Agathon. In all, forty personages coming from the abbey were subsequently honoured in the French calendar by the title of saint.

The structure itself, splendid and magnificent, and its church, above all, was only to be compared to the gems of its era.

Nothing, or nearly nothing, remains of all this splendour to-day; some fragmentary piers and arches, or a bit of wall set shrine-like in the midst of the wooded valley on the right bank of the Seine, tell the story, but they tell it well.

There is a record of an old bénitier or holy-water font here which had engraven upon its rim the following admonition:

“He who takes the holy water without having immersed the hand, does a thing dishonest, and must demand a pardon from his God.”

It does not exist to-day, but the precept seems to be one which might find a useful place in twentieth-century churches.

Just above St. Wandrille is Duclair, a market-town of mean enough pretensions as to population except on market-days. On those occasions its principal streets and tiny place are encumbered with many varieties of live stock, from sucking pigs to crowing hens. For an automobile to pass through its restricted streets and not decapitate something (a fowl costs two francs, a duck five, and so on) would be a feat of skill indeed.

The town has no great artistic attractions, though its church is a queer composition of Norman fourteenth-century and Renaissance attributes. Beneath the steeple are also some ancient Gallo-Romain columns with sculptured capitals.

In the peninsula lying to the south of Duclair, where the river turns into one of those wonderful serpent-like bends, such as one used to see on the cashmere shawls of our grandmothers, are the remains of the ancient Abbey of Jumièges. Its two sombre towers, square at the base, but dwindling to an octagon, enflank an enormous shell, now dismantled and all but dismembered.

Jumièges was the most ancient monastery in Normandy. It was founded in the seventh century by St. Philibert, and had at one time nine hundred monks.

It endured for many centuries rich, powerful, and renowned; its abbots were beatified and many of them made bishops and archbishops. The Dukes of Normandy and the Kings of England and of France had the right to lodge there when passing in its neighbourhood.



The abbey declined with the reformatory ideas which went abroad through the Calvinists, who pillaged it of its riches.

Afterward a few monks were sheltered there, but these, too, were dispersed when the fabric finally suffered demolition during the Revolution.


The remains, with the fine surrounding gardens, are now the property of a Madame Lepel-Cointet, who herself inhabits one of the dependencies of the ancient monastery.

Lovers of French history will do well to recall the fact that Charles VII., and that paragon Agnes Sorel, frequently lodged here. It was at Jumièges, on the ninth of February, 1450, that the “gentille Agnes,” the beautiful mistress of Charles VII., died, some say of poison. She had the good fortune to merit far more approbation than most of the royal mistresses of France, and whether one pauses before the shrine of her birthplace at Fromenteau near Bourges, her tomb at Loches, or at Jumièges, their memories will unconsciously echo the following lines:

“Gentille Agnès, plus de loz tu mérites,
Ta cause étant de France recouvrer,
Que n’en pourrait dedans un cloistre ouvrer
Close nonain, on bien dévot hermite.”

The “gentille Agnes” had a manor-house in the neighbourhood, but died within the walls of the monastery itself in 1450, to the monks of which she bequeathed her heart.

In the Art Museum is still to be seen the stone which originally covered this relic, as well as the stone tomb of Nicolas Léroux, the fifty-ninth abbé, one of the judges of Jeanne d’Arc.

From the country round about are exported considerable quantities of early summer fruits and vegetables to England, the soil and the climate of the Seine country being particularly suitable to the early advancement of garden-crops.

Before one finally draws up on Rouen and its down-river suburbs there is still another ecclesiastical monument, St. Georges de Boscherville,—the third great church of other times still remaining to tell its story. St. Georges de Boscherville was more fortunate than Jumièges or St. Wandrille as to its enduring qualities. Its abbey church is to-day one of those marvels which one continually comes across in the out-of-the-way places of France; admirably preserved, of wonderfully excellent design, and immense in size—as compared with the functions which it performs to-day. It is one of the architectural wonders of a region distinctly prolific in treasures of the kind. Its strong, Norman-arched nave and walls, its chapter-house, its portal, in fact the whole structure, is of that long-lived Romanesque-Norman variety of building which gave its name and style to the far-heralded Norman architecture. It is a monument to the genius of one man: its builder, Raoul de Tancarville, the chamberlain of William the Conqueror. He posed the crowning stone of the edifice in 1066, the year of the Norman invasion of England, in the domain of Boscherville, of which he was governor.

The abbey was first devoted to the canons regular of St. Augustin, but in 1114 it was occupied by monks of the order of St. Benoit.

St. Georges de Boscherville is a grand church edifice, with a chapter-house. It could easily hold five thousand people, whereas the present population of the parish cannot be over a couple of hundred souls.

It is commonly accredited as one of the best preserved examples of Norman religious architecture extant. Over its doorway one may yet read this inscription to its founder.

“A la pieuse munificence de Raoul de Tancarville,
grand chambellan de Guillaume II. le Conquérant,
duc de Normandie.”

Toward Rouen the Seine describes a triple bend, its contours enveloped with high, wooded plateaus, of which the Roumare, Londe, and Rouvray forests are most charming, and are to the Norman capital what Fontainebleau and Rambouillet are to Paris.

Thickly set for many miles along the river-bank are villages and towns blending industrial and country pursuits in inextricable fashion, with here and there the luxurious villa of a wealthy manufacturer of Rouen peeping out from among the sheltering trees.

The Seine, both above and below Rouen, makes a series of snakelike curves which encircle a half-dozen or more forest-grown peninsulas, which appeal particularly to one who, judging only from the appearance of the dunes of the seacoast or the faintly outlined, tree-bordered roads which run tangently in various directions, had made up his mind that France is a barren, treeless land.

Back of St. Sauveur, but within full sight of a person standing on the water-front at Rouen, are the oak-clad hills which form the forest of Rouvray. The next peninsula contains the forest of Londe; and, across the river, on the same side with Rouen itself, is the forest peninsula of Roumare, which has for a neighbour another thumblike neck of land, on which is the forest of Jumièges and the ruins of its ancient abbey.

These taken together form the down-river environs of Rouen. The panorama along the banks of the Seine is a great treasure-house of natural beauties and historical relics.

There is a great deal of smoke near Rouen, but the chimneys from which it belches forth are, nevertheless, picturesque. Farther down the river are the busy manufacturing and ship-building towns of Petit and Grand Quévilly; while on the Rouen side at this point are a series of picturesque hamlets along the riverside road which extends for a score of miles around the flank of the peninsula to Duclair.

The foliage along the river-banks here, except for the high-grown forests behind, is much the same as elsewhere,—slim, light larches, with here and there a clump of low-lying willows and an undergrowth which runs to the water’s edge.

At Bouille-Molineux, the terminus of the ferry-boats from Rouen, is the famous monument to the French combatants who perished here in 1871; which reminds one of the bronze and marble effigies with which the Germans have decorated the Rhine. Here also is the suggestively named Maison Brulée, famed for its fried eels, which are really a delicacy as they are served in France.

The chief and only attraction of Petit Couronne is the home of Corneille, surely a literary shrine of the first rank, although frequently neglected by the tourist birds of passage who flock to the continent of Europe in summer. Why this should be so is inexplicable. It is scarce five miles from the Norman capital, and a plea is here made to hero-worshippers and lovers of literary landmarks for a better acquaintance.

The house dates from 1554, and was bought by the poet’s father in 1608, from whom Pierre inherited it in 1639. Two years after the poet’s death, in 1686, it was sold for 5,100 livres. The Department of the Lower Seine bought it in 1874 and transformed it into the Musée Corneillen, an art museum devoted to Corneille.

Within are many personal relics of the poet and a vast collection of contemporary works of art. Among the chief are a bust of Corneille after that in the Comédie-Française, some Louis XIII. chairs, portraits of the poet by Lebrun and Mignard, an engraving of Meissonier’s portrait retouched by himself, a statue by David d’Angers, and a manuscript letter bearing the signature “P. Corneille.”

The construction of the building is ingenious and peculiar. It is of the old timbered style, now grown so scarce, with an elaborately roofed garret.

The care with which such monuments are preserved is expressive of the fondness of the French for the memories of their great men; and, though it was wholly through local pride that the Musée Corneillen was established, it may well be considered a monument of national interest.

Petit Quévilly has a few memorials of other days which are perhaps of interest to the archæologist, if not to the general tourist: a chapel dedicated to St. Julien dating from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the somewhat scanty fragments of a hospital for lepers, founded in 1183 by Henry II. of England, some ruins of an ancient cloister, and an old Carthusian convent of the seventeenth century, which has since been turned into a factory.

Grand Quévilly still preserves the Château of Montmorency, built in the eighteenth century, when ornamental domestic architecture fell far below the height it had reached two centuries before. The château is beautifully situated in the midst of a fine park. Here, too, is the farm of Grand Aulnay, belonging to the hospital at Rouen, a gift to the old foundation by Richard Cœur de Lion in 1197.

By this time the traveller up the Seine is well in sight and sound of Rouen’s chimney-stacks, and the roaring traffic of its quays and streets.

At Croisset, on the banks of the Seine three kilometres below Rouen, is a literary shrine which is little known. It is the home of Gustave Flaubert. Maupassant, De Goncourt, Daudet, and Zola frequently met there for luncheon with the author of “Madame Bovary.”

When Flaubert died the house was for a long time deserted; but a committee has recently been formed to preserve its associations, as was done for the home of Corneille at Grand Couronne, on the opposite bank of the river.

“Truly a fair estate, here beside this great river up and down which the masts of ships pass before one, ...” wrote Edmond de Goncourt in 1830.

It was an appropriate home for a man of letters; for in the eighteenth century it housed a colony of Benedictines, and is destined to become one of those haunts of literary people, of which there are so many throughout France. All who go to Rouen should make a pilgrimage to the home of Flaubert.

No one who knows Rouen, the city of the Northmen, the Conqueror, and of Jeanne d’Arc, will for a moment contest its right to be ranked as one of the liveliest, if not one of the biggest seaports of the world. One marvels at the size and number of deep-sea ships at its wharfs. Here you will see colliers from Sunderland and Wales, of great depth and beam; lumber ships from Norway, of equally sturdy girth; and occasionally a full-rigged ship which has been towed up from Havre, where perhaps it has unloaded a part of its South Sea cargo. Across the Pont Corneille, just off the quay which separates the Grand Cours from the river, is the harbour of the great canal-boats which carry coal from Newcastle and Sunderland to Paris and the upper Seine, the Eure, and their branches, between the city of great churches and the metropolis of Paris. They are huge craft, built as if they were expected to cross the ocean. There are none as large as they, except their sister ships of Holland which ply on the lower reaches of the Maas and Neder Rijn or the great trunk-line canals. All other barges, canal-boats, and lighters pale before the splendour and magnitude of these great coal-carrying craft, which form a fleet of a hundred or more at a time tied up in their harbour in Rouen.

Besides these, there are the local bateaux mouches, which ply up and down to near-by suburbs, much as they do in Paris, as well as a more splendid craft which carries passengers on alternate days from Rouen to Havre. Last, but not least, the spider-like Pont Transbordeur is visible from every direction as evidence of progress.

Rouen, moreover, is about the only city of France which has its water-front flanked by first-class cafés. From the Pont Corneille, down-stream to the Pont Transbordeur, is one long succession of wicker chairs and marble-topped tables, where on a summer’s afternoon there is as much gaiety and splendour of life to be seen as on the most crowded of the boulevards of Paris.

A Rouen Café

A Rouen Café

There is this distinction, however. Instead of the tables being crowded with boulevardiers and their female companions of more or less vulgar raiment, they are occupied by substantial merchants and men of affairs, officers of the army, and, on Sundays and holidays, by many of their families, to say nothing of the numerous tourists both English and American.

All of this is in strong contrast to the workaday aspect of the ships which lie along the wharfs, and the long trucks and drays of wine-casks which form their cargo.

The Douane, the Bourse, the Grande Poste, and the Cours Boïeldieu, with its most excellent bronze statue of the composer, all combine to give an air of great prosperity to all Rouen.

The tourist in general, as well as the antiquarian and the artist, often overlook these components which make for the well-being of a great centre of population. But they are of vital interest to the genuine travel-lover, and indicate in an unmistakable way the real social and economic aspects of its life.

A capital city Rouen always was. May she continue to flourish as one of the artistic capitals of France, if not of Europe. She is truly the city of the best Gothic art. Nowhere else, indeed, can one see so complete an exposition of the development of this architectural style as in Rouen, with its three great and famous churches, its half-dozen half-demolished and desecrated ones, its court-house, and old-time buildings.

Again the art of the Renaissance is here seen in its very best domestic application, in the old timbered and stone shop fronts and houses, in the Hôtel Bourgtheroulde, or the Tour de la Grosse Horloge, and the Porte Guillaume Lion, almost unknown to the hurried traveller.

The magnitude of the harbour of Rouen and of Quévilly as a ship-building centre is comparatively unknown to most strangers.

The real port of Rouen, that part of the Seine flanked by imposing warehouses and luxurious quays, shows more plainly than in any other inland town or city of France the spectacle of modern activity which comes from commercial association with the cities of other lands. It was built at a great expense; and to-day allows access to ships drawing as much as twenty-four feet of water and of a burden of six thousand tons. The shipping of the port amounts to over two million tons a year.

From Havre to Rouen the depth of the Seine varies from 6.0 to 7.5 metres and it is unobstructed by locks or bridges.

Just above the entrance to the Tancarville Canal, where rises the Aiguille de Pierre Gant, and less loftily the ruined towers of the thirteenth-century Château of Tancarville, is a bend in the river which offered the guardians of the safety thereof an opportunity to install a wonderful lighthouse, which at night is weirdly kaleidoscopic in its functions, to say the least. Here it is that salt-water navigation practically ends, and the coast pilot turns over his great cargo steamer, bound perhaps from Norway, America, or the Antipodes, to Rouen, to the tenderer mercies of the river pilot. The pilot station is at Quillebeuf, a quaint old town on the left bank. Quillebeuf is the port of the lower Seine; but, though its active history goes back to the thirteenth century, and it was one time known as Henricopolis, because it was one of the first cities of Normandy to acknowledge the French king, there is little of interest in its streets and quays except for the painter of long-shore marines.



ROUEN is truly celebrated for its art; but above all it interests the tourist by reason of the multiplicity and accessibility of its sights.

One can well call it to mind by these lines of Victor Hugo’s:

“Rouen, la ville aux vieilles rues,
Aux vieilles tours, débris des races disparues,
La ville aux cent clochers carillonnant dans l’air,
Le Rouen des châteaux, des hôtels, des bastiles
Dont le front hérissé de flèches et d’aiguilles
Déchire incessamment les brûmes de la mer.”

All the city’s monumental glories cannot be described here. The most that is attempted is the record of various rambles here and there in nooks and corners often not covered by the general traveller; practically leaving Rouen’s magnificent cathedral, its great churches and their appointments, its architectural monuments such as the Palais de Justice, to the guide-books of convention.

Time was, though difficult of belief now, when Rouen was called by an eighteenth-century traveller “an ugly, stinking, close, and ill-built town.” To-day no provincial city of France is more visited by tourists of every degree of wealth than the ancient Norman capital, and certainly none is more liked.

Its general aspect is that of a city of modern appointments and ancient architectural treasures, and its municipal governors are keenly alive to all that makes for the betterment of life within the city limits.

In spite of all this, some of its back streets and alleys are badly cared for, even to-day; and the condition of nodding, leaning, old timbered houses which artists love, does not by any means tend to purify the atmosphere.

There are some things in regard to which the French are still behind the times. Their streets are not in the immaculate condition of cleanliness in which they ought to be. There is always some sort of municipal scavengering, but often this does not reach to the far corners, and often individual effort itself, in the poorer quarters, does not go beyond sweeping refuse into the gutter or some byway. This is perhaps no more true of Rouen than of Amiens, of Lyons, or of Marseilles; but, nevertheless, there is a great opportunity for a new effort with respect to some of the older quarters, such as the streets running immediately back of the Church of St. Maclou.

That “Rouen is dearer than Paris” is a saying which has come to us from a century-old traveller; and there is certainly some truth in it.

The history of Rouen’s bridges is most interesting. To-day there are but three, and only two of them are of the conventional order. The celebrated Pont Transbordeur, while being essentially practical, is a weird exotic, not entitled to be classed with those masterpieces in stone built throughout France in the middle ages, many of which exist even to-day.

The first bridge at Rouen was probably not built before the year 1000, and the first document which makes mention of any bridge here is an acte de donation of Richard II. in favour of the Abbey of Jumièges, dated at Fécamp in 1024. Therein was conceded to the monks at Jumièges, the right to fish from Pont de l’Arche up to the Pont de Rouen. At this time the Pont de Rouen was a stone structure. A bridge of boats replaced this early stone bridge, and was considered one of the marvels of its time.

The monks, it seems, were always endowed with certain talents for bridge-building; and like the brothers of the bridge of St. Bénézet’s day at Avignon, took a certain guardianship over travellers by road who were obliged to make use of these conveniences. The monks established shelters near the bridges, or even on them in some instances, as in the case of the establishment kept up by “Les Frères du Pont” at Avignon.

It was an Augustinian monk, Père Nicolas, who had furnished the plans for this bridge of boats at Rouen. In 1630 it was begun, but five years later it was, in part, carried away by a flood, which misfortune induced the authorities to rebuild it with improvements, permitting certain sections to be opened to allow the passage of floating ice. However, it met with disaster again and again,—in 1669, in 1741, 1777, and 1799. To-day, besides the Pont Transbordeur, Rouen’s bridges are the Pont Corneille, named for the great dramatist, and the Pont Boïeldieu, named for his brother in arts—this time for a great music master.

Above the Ile Brouilly, the Western Railroad crosses the Seine on an iron structure held aloft on stone piers. The newest of Rouen’s bridges is the unique and essentially practical Pont Transbordeur, opposite the Boulevard Cauchoise, not a wholly beautiful structure, though certainly a marvel of interest to the stranger.

It belongs to the workaday world of docks and shipping, and is nothing but a mass of wire rope and suspended car, or cradle, like that of a travelling crane; but it was economical to build, and is equally so to run, and it serves the purposes of those whose business takes them among the shipping of the really great port of Rouen.

At any rate this marvel is no less beautiful than the Tower Bridge on London’s river, which serves the same purpose.

After all, the standard of beauty by which one judges the things of this world is a variable one, and the same person may decry the ugliness of the Pont Transbordeur at Rouen, and yet think a full-rigged ship beautiful. As a matter of fact they are each a collection of struts and ties, and each is best adapted to the end in view; so the standard of judgment becomes a more or less artificial one, based simply on what we have been accustomed to see.

Not every visitor to Rouen searches out the delightful Hôtel Bourgtheroulde, one of the most brilliant Renaissance domestic establishments yet enduring in Normandy. It was built at great expense in the earliest years of the sixteenth century by Messire Guillaume Leroux, the seigneur of Bourgtheroulde. The exterior to-day shows little of luxury, but its interior court has the finely preserved decoration of other days, still left for us to marvel at. A series of bas-reliefs representing the triumphs of Petrarch and the famous interview of the “Field of the Cloth of Gold” are the chief of these admirable works of art.

In the desire to absorb all of the momentous historical attractions of Rouen one is apt to overlook a certain literary shrine, hidden away behind the old market.

In the Rue Pierre Corneille is the house where the father of the two poets by the name of Corneille lived. One reads upon a tablet placed upon the house:

“Ici étaient la maison
où sont nés les deux Corneilles
Pierre le 6 juin 1606, Thomas le 24 Août 1625.”

One of Rouen’s great attractions for many is Notre Dame de Bon Secours. As a place of pious pilgrimage its virtues may be all that are claimed for it, but as an artistic religious expression of an artistic and devout people it is about as low and vulgar a one as it is possible to see. No pagan ever erected a temple so hideous; and the church itself is set about by a burial-ground wherein are as offensive, ill-assorted a lot of tombstones as ever spoiled one of nature’s masterpieces. It is a masterpiece of landscape,—the winding Seine, the busy city of Rouen with its church towers and its bridges, and the forests of Rouvray, La Londe, and Roumare.

In addition there are curio shops for the sale of “objets du vertu et du piété,” the quality of which would be a disgrace to a fifth-rate watering-place.

A huge bell, too great to be hung in the tower of the modern Gothic Church of Our Lady, protrudes into the foreground surrounded by a clumsy iron cage. A placard requests the public not to throw pieces of stone at the bell, though why this should be necessary it is hard to say.

Another sort of a pagan temple, in triplicate, is supposed to commemorate the memory of Jeanne d’Arc; but it fails utterly to attract, and is merely to be counted as another of the side-shows of this splendid natural landscape, now utterly spoiled.

The simple marble square in Rouen’s old market-place, which presents only the plain statement that “on this spot, tied to the stake, was burned alive Jeanne d’Arc,” etc., is much more satisfactory.

An old-time traveller has said: “The first view of Rouen is sudden and striking.” He had come by road from Gisors. “The road again doubled in order to turn more gently down the hill, and presents the finest view of a town I have ever seen. The city, with all its churches and convents, and its cathedral proudly rising in the midst, fills the whole vale.”

The scene from the height of Bon Secours, where the great national highway from Paris drops down on Rouen, is in no way different to-day, and indeed it is doubtful if there be a finer view of a town in all the world than that same prospect.

What is the finest view in the world will, doubtless, always be a question for dispute; but those who have seen wide-spread Rouen, from the road which winds around to the back of Bon Secours,—not from the plateau or terrace of the church, or the Jeanne d’Arc monument,—have often reversed their previous judgments.

Rouen from Bon Secours

Rouen from Bon Secours

It is indescribable, unpaintable, impossible to photograph in all its glories; so one must see it for himself to really know it. The spectacle is so magnificent that it seems unreal and fairylike,—the great city and its faubourgs, with its apparently innumerable church spires, chimney-stacks, and roof-tops, and the broad, brilliant Seine, busy with its puffing tugs, great six-thousand-ton steamers, and an occasional four-masted ship, flowing through its midst.

Rouen is so admirably supplied with tramways and steamboats, that a week might well be spent in exploring its suburbs by any one who has the time and inclination.

Ossel, practically a suburb of Rouen, as one goes Paris-ward, has the look of an important manufacturing town; and so it really is, although it has one architectural treasure in the manor-house of Chapelle, dating from the sixteenth century. In its enclosure is a curious Renaissance work in the form of a pyramid held aloft by four columns, beneath which is sheltered an ancient well.

There are numberless small towns and villages throughout the length of the Seine which are nameless to the majority of summer travellers to Normandy. Caudebec they know, but Elbeuf, Pont de l’Arche, Les Andelys, St. Pierre de Vouvray, Bonniers, Giverny, and La Roche-Guy on are unknown ground to most of them.

Just above Rouen are innumerable riverside villages, many of which have their chief source of income from catering to those who like to dine al fresco in the country, in a garden overlooking the Seine.

These resorts are more or less of the country-fair or rural holiday order, to be sure; but hidden away here and there in snug little nooks are innumerable delightful gardens and many hundreds of arbours and groves where one may eat a meal in the open air, or while away a sleepy afternoon. And this is precisely just what does take place, not only throughout the length of the winding Seine, but on every other waterway in France.

There is no limit to the self-respecting capacity for enjoyment of those who fill these riverside resorts on Sundays and holidays. There is no drunkenness, no maudlin riot, no blasphemy, and apparently no satiety.

The games which amuse the French middle class on such occasions may, to Anglo-Saxons, seem absurdly childish; but no one will deny that the very simplicity of them is wholesome, and far less detrimental to self-respect than the faro and three-card monte games which are usually set forth under like conditions elsewhere. Grown men, sane fathers, and portly matrons join with the younger folk at such juvenile sports as swings, tilting-boards, “Aunt Sally,” and ninepins, not forgetting the ever-present ring and cane games.

In contrast to this are the more luxurious, if less moral, resorts of the wealthy class; or, at least, of that class which keeps more money in circulation.

The dwellers in the Seine valley, like those along the countless other streams of France, are great fishermen; not so much for the sport or the quarry it may provide, nor for sociability, since the fisherman’s art is the least sociable of sports, as, it would seem, for the purpose of meditation. There is good fishing in the Seine, as all who partake thereof well know. From the Paris bridges and quays down the river to Rouen are many famous fishing-grounds.

Here it is that you see the true fisherman in all his glory. He sits beneath his big hat, or under an umbrella if the sun shines strongly, in a low-backed chair in a punt, and patiently holds his rod or line from early morn to late at night.

Some Seine Sketches

When he lays down his line for a time the French fisherman begins to think of eating and drinking. None of your ordinary picnic lunches either, of cold ham and hard boiled eggs; but most likely a cold fowl, washed down with good wine; and he prefers cold coffee to weak tea as an afterthought. This if he is not within hail of a waterside inn, in which case he will find provided a variety and a quantity of well-prepared food to suit both his taste and his appetite.

One has heard of chapels in rocks before now. Indeed, if memory serves truly, there are several in various parts of Europe that are remarkable not only for the manner of building, but often for local tradition and legend as well. There is nothing remarkable about the rock-hewn, cliff-cut Chapel of St. Adrien, near Rouen, to give it any great distinction, except its manner of building; and in this respect it is far more interesting than many already more famous. There is no pretence at architectural splendour, and the size of the edifice precludes the possibility of any vast utility. Still there is something more than a mere curio-value to this little chapel cut in the limestone cliff above the Seine, and as an ecclesiastical monument of note it is far more worthy than the pilgrim shrine at Bon Secours.

The cafés and open-air restaurants at its feet somewhat savour of the frivolous. But what would you? They are there simply because it is a beautiful spot accessible to the busy city of Rouen; and are withal orderly and well-conducted, well-patronized places. Between Pont de l’Arche and Rouen is Elbeuf, perhaps as famous to-day for its cloth-manufactories as for its storied past. This, however, will not interest the seeker of historic shrines, nor will the miles of execrable pavement and the tram-tracks which line its five kilometres of main street please automobilists. These detractions account for the absence of the tourist from the busy but picturesque town of Elbeuf. Nor is there much to admire here except its curious, conglomerate old church and the general picturesqueness of its surroundings, heightened even by the commonplaceness of the busy little industrial city itself. The tall chimneys of its cloth-factories, and the streamers of black smoke continually belching therefrom, soften and tone down the tints of sky and landscape in the real symphonic fashion set by Whistler.

The streams which ripple through the town are all shades of the rainbow, on account of the refuse of the dye-works; and the very atmosphere is charged with an odour which bespeaks the industry of a manufacturing town, such as one comes across only in France or Germany, picturesquely situated on a river’s bank, and literally humming with the whir of many wheels.

All manner of cloths are made here, especially those finer qualities used in the make-up of officers’ uniforms, carriage cloths, and the coverings of billiard-tables. There are at least twenty-five thousand men and women employed here, and all the shops of the town are supported by them. The combined industries turn out a product to the value of ninety millions of francs per year.

It was at an inn here that Arthur Young, that astute observer of matters agricultural, learned at table d’hôte—a matter of common knowledge among the guests there assembled—that the wine provinces of France were actually the poorest in all France. With some exceptions this is true to-day, and is plausibly explained elsewhere. Times have truly changed since Young wrote that he had not found one decent inn in all France.

It must be recalled that the fashionable, or rather the modern up-to-date hotel, with its elaborate table d’hôte, is much the same wherever found; and that an inland spa or a watering-place on the Mediterranean coast of France, or at Ostend, Dieppe, or Trouville, does not differ greatly from an establishment of the same class in Paris, London, or New York.

The genuine traveller will have none of this, however, with its ever recurring mutton served under the name of agneau de Pauillac, and the eternal rag-time music of an alleged Hungarian band whose only claim to the title is the more or less incorrect copy of a Magyar uniform in which the players are dressed. The hotels de luxe have their place in the scheme of things as ordained to-day, no doubt, but they offer absolutely nothing to the lover of travel for its own sake, and are accordingly dreaded by most.

The inns of France which one meets in touring the country are so much better than similar establishments in England that the comparison is odious.

This may be disputed. Yet where in England, in a village of 1,500 inhabitants, will you get a five-course dinner or luncheon splendidly cooked, bountifully served, and with a seasoning and garnishing which it is impossible to duplicate elsewhere, for a modest two francs and a half, and at practically a moment’s notice? To be sure, it is always omelet, chicken, and salad; but that is surely better than the eternal bacon and eggs and cold boiled mutton of the English country inn.

The roadside inns are not becoming spoiled, either. On the beaten track where tourists throng they still possess the sentiment of good cheer in a more substantial manner than is implied by a few churchwardens and Brummagem pewter plates stuck up over the mantel; and if they lack “visitors’ books,” with sorry verses and weak platitudes about being “home from home,” they make up for it in good food and clean beds; and for what else does one go to a hotel?

Once and again, in the larger towns where there is an English quarter, and tea-and-bun-shops exist, there also may be found a “Hôtel des Iles Brittaniques” which caters, apparently, solely to milords and millionaires; and, is quite different from the Hôtel du Pays, around the corner on the market-place, where you may drink your bock, or dine, or play dominoes with a smock-frocked peasant from the country-side.

The following incident happened in one of these great hotels situated in the principal city of a Norman department. At least, a righteously indignant Frenchman assured us that it did happen; and there was no reason to doubt his word:

He was touring in an automobile of modest size, not loaded down with luggage, four people in the tonneau, a mechanic, and the driver. The hotel clientèle, for the time at any rate, was composed of what the French call “Milliardairs Americains.” This is the universal name given those who make a vulgar show of money, others are merely “Les Anglais.”

Upon applying at the desk for a room, our Frenchman was met with an astonished stare and a curt reply that they had none such; and that the house was full except for a “chambre à mécanicien” over the scullery. Our friend bowed his apologies and regrets, and departed, but with true Gallic ingenuity brought up within an hour at a small town twenty kilometres away, and telephoned the before mentioned hotel in this wise:

Allô! allô! je souis lord Whisky, oune cliente anglèse, auriez-vous cinq chambres confortébles pour môa et mon souite et garage pour mes deux automobiles?

The reply came back over the wire satisfactorily enough:

Mais comment donc, Excellence, tout ce que son Excellence voudra!

Then our friend had his turn.

Non, cher monsieur, je me contenterai de la chambre à mécanicien que vous avez offerte il y a quelques heures à un français!

In the main the inns of the Seine valley are no better or no worse than in other parts of France. They may not rival the Hôtel de Metz at St. Menehould, the fame of which was in part made by Victor Hugo’s charming description in “Le Rhin”; and in Normandy they have not the same splendid abundance of good things of the table as in Burgundy, where the wine and the blood is rich; but they are amply endowed with creature comforts, and since the Touring Club of France and the Automobile Club have taken it upon themselves to counsel more care in sanitation, the inns of all France are infinitely to be preferred to those of any other country.

Of all the near-by towns more or less intimately associated with Rouen, the most prominent and attractive of all is the little town of Pont de l’Arche. It is known to most travellers as a railway junction with little or nothing of attractiveness about it. There is the usual warehouse for freight, signal-house, and the “Bifur à Gisors,” a station hotel, and an unpretentious café or two; but that is all, if we except a long, tree-lined avenue which leads to a more ambitious group of houses, a mile or so away.

This is Pont de l’Arche. Its church and its few hundred houses lie mostly hidden from the railway by the screen of poplars on the long avenue leading from the station. Incidentally this adds additional attraction; and to-day there is nothing save the distant shriek of a locomotive to remind one its inhabitants are not living in another age. The river glides by as in olden times, and there is much boat and barge traffic. The town is not so especially decrepit, nor dirty, nor unwholesome; but it has a certain lackaday air of aversion to modernity which a town of its size seldom lacks in this part of France.

Those who know this charming little town admire it the more because of its somnolent air. It sits high on the escarpment of the river bank, one roughly paved street running indirectly to the water, which is crossed by the usual conventionally designed bridge. On the very brink is its stately, dignified Church of Notre Dame des Arts; and something more than scanty remains of the town’s ancient ramparts are still visible, notably in what is known as the Citadel.

Pont de l’Arche

Pont de l’Arche

It is from this citadel that the etymologists derive the name of Pont de l’Arche, from Pontarcy, which evolved itself from Pont arcis meæ (pont de ma citadelle), given to it by Charles the Bald, who had sojourned there.

Pont de l’Arche was one of the first towns of Normandy to open its gates to Henri IV. during his strife to reconquer his kingdom. At this time the ramparts were an effective protection against outside interference. Doubly so, in that its machicolated walls and towers were ably supported by the natural escarpment of the river bank.

The Church of Notre Dame des Arts is doubtless the only one of its name in Christendom. The reason for this singularly appropriate nomenclature will be obvious; and already, though the fabric is an unfinished one, and in still other parts has suffered the decay of time, the edifice itself proudly proclaims its right to the name. As a species of architectural art itself, Notre Dame des Arts comes well within the third ogival period (fifteenth and sixteenth centuries), with some good carvings in wood of the seventeenth century, and some acceptable glass of the same century or possibly of that preceding.

The restoration of this fine church has been most lovingly undertaken; and a most difficult piece of work it has proved not to debase the florid ornament beyond its original conception, which among neighbouring churches ranks it with the collegiate church at Eu, and St. Vincent’s at Rouen, if not actually with St. Maclou itself, the richest and most florid of all the Gothic churches previous to the Renaissance.

Though contracted, the interior likewise displays that profusion of ornament which characterizes the flamboyant style, notably in the keys of the vaulting, which show a remarkable strength. Its fenestration is good, as well as the glass, and such auxiliary features and furnishings as the retable and the organ buffet, which are acceptable, if somewhat debased from Gothic forms. Indeed, these features are seldom seen in anything but the more or less heavy Renaissance treatment of large masses.

Pont de l’Arche is the birthplace of Hyacinthe Langlois, architect and antiquary. His monument, erected through the beneficence of a little group of Norman archæologists, is on the little public square before the house in which the accomplished and versatile man was born. The fact is mentioned here in order to emphasize the regard which all French towns hold for the memory of any deserving person and his work. Langlois, the Norman antiquary, was perhaps not so very great a personage, but in the eyes of his fellow townsmen his was at least a fame which deserved a memorial which should outlive man.

The name Notre Dame des Arts is singularly appropriate to a finely planned church. One defines art as “the realization of a conception,” which in most cases is God-given, so far as the individual effort is concerned. Art is truth, therefore art is elevating, and it is chosen as the instrument that shall echo the grand truths which ennoble and purify mankind.

An eloquent plea is made to the artists of France to contribute their aid in glorifying the fabric of Notre Dame des Arts by the Abbé Philippe, vicar-dean of Pont de l’Arche.

The dean makes a most convincing plea, which is printed in a little book and presented to visitors. It is all very dogmatic, but still its object is commendable enough, one must admit. It smacks, too, of personal pride in the possession of this beautiful church, which again is surely pardonable. Most of us will admit that it is altogether a charming idea that a church should be built and beautified and dedicated to art, leaving others to cavil at dogma.

The plea of the devoted dean of the church ends with the intimation that it is proposed to erect mural tablets which shall emblazon in letters of gold the names of all who may contribute to the preservation and enrichment of the fabric. Future generations will then see that in the early years of the twentieth century the friends of art were not oblivious to its higher expression, and were devoted enough to further it in this noble monument.

The dean’s garden, just before the westerly end of the church, is charming in its unworldliness. From it one enters the sanctuary in a roundabout way along gravelled walks, box-covered hedges, bright-flowered beds and small garden trees loaded with plums, apricots, and pears. Nothing here is suggestive of the onrush of time; there is no hum of the electric-car to be heard; no rush of the automobile, no smell of gasoline, and no grime of the workaday world. The church itself towers above to the eastward, and opposite is the modest house of the dean, all suggestive of peacefulness and content.

Next to the Church of Notre Dame des Arts, the Pons Arcis of the days of Charles the Bald has its chief historical and artistic shrine in the old Abbey of Bon Port, now scarcely more than a riverside ruin.

It belonged originally to the monks of the order of Citeaux, and was founded by the Lion-hearted Richard in 1190 as the outcome of a vow made while pursuing a cerf across the river, to the effect that if his horse ever reached the other bank—“un bon port”—he would erect a monastery on the spot.

To-day the ruins belong to a M. Lenoble, who has spent much care and expense in preserving what is left of this interesting relic. Of the abbatial church nothing remains but the foundations. The refectory is in a fine state of preservation, with an admirably designed series of windows.

The cloistral buildings still exist in something more than mere ruins. The capitulary hall has been reëstablished after its original lines, and its library, with its high wood ceiling of the time of Louis XVI., is admirable.

The remains of the old abbey are reflected in the Seine, which winds about its feet and forms cool, shadowy pools now frequented by fishermen from Rouen, as they doubtless were by monkish anglers in days gone past.

After this contemplative trip about Pont de l’Arche one is quite ready to resort to the charming hotel of Guennord’s—“La Normandie”—near the bridge and partake of the unusually good luncheon served in a room overlooking the river. This dining-room, like those of many another spot in France beloved of artists, is panelled with sketches donated by them.



UP the river from Pont de l’Arche the beauties of the Seine are truly irresistible to the true traveller of artistic proclivities. At every kilometre stone along its banks the view has that charm of majestic simplicity that might be expected of a great inland waterway.

Not that it has no variety at all. It is an ever-changing panorama of a silvery sheet, reflecting the sky and clouds and the green and white of the chalk and tree clad river banks, in truly mystical fashion.

Just above Pont de l’Arche, the Eure and the Andelle join the Seine. The former is given a chapter by itself in this book, but the Andelle is merely one of those winsome little streams which in many other lands would hardly have arrived at the dignity of being called a river. Not every traveller in France knows the little river Andelle which rises in the district of Bray and flows southwesterly fifty kilometres or more until it mingles with the Seine at Pitres, near Pont de l’Arche, and almost exactly opposite the mouth of the Eure.

Forges-les-Eaux, near which the Andelle rises, first became celebrated for its chalybeate springs in the time of Anne of Austria, mother of Louis XIV., who, with many other celebrities of royal and noble birth, went there to take the waters.

To-day its fame has not wholly departed; but those who go to such places usually find that they are the more beneficial, the more fashionable they are, and the more alluring its amusements. Forges-les-Eaux is not one of the most fashionable, hence the virtues of its waters are now somewhat negatived. This is a pity, for it is in the midst of a charming country, and the sylvan attractions round about are doubtless as good an antidote to the excessive imbibing of water as “Petits Chevaux” or “Trente et Quarante.”

There are, however, no very splendid architectural remains in the town itself. A few old houses, some far more interesting ones in the country near by, a conventional “Etablissement” and a modern Gothic church, after the old-time manner, complete the list of attractions of Forges-les-Eaux, in addition to the springs themselves.

Southwesterly until one reaches the forest of Lyons, nearly four hundred square miles in extent, there is naught in this beautiful river valley but a succession of typical French villages, with high stone walls enclosing farms, red-roofed cottages, and outbuildings; and an occasional pigeonnier, and wayside cross.

At Lyons-le-Forêt, the little forest town of perhaps half a thousand inhabitants, one comes immediately into touch with a civilization strangely out of keeping with its idyllic setting. There is a hotel there with all the improvements of our own time: enamelled baths, running water, an automobile omnibus to the station, seven kilometres distant, ice for cold drinks, Scotch whisky, and many other luxuries which discount one’s enjoyment of real country travel.

It is pleasant enough, however, on a hot summer’s day; and the town itself is delightfully unspoiled, with its crooked, winding streets, its picturesque though not beautiful market-house, its pretty little church, and the tiny river Lieure, a tributary of the Andelle, where one may take fish if he likes.

Being in the midst of this great forest, it is but natural that the church of Lyons-le-Forêt should have a shrine to St. Hubert, the patron of the hunt. It is there on the north wall of the single nave of the church, with all its well-recognized symbolism; though, truth to tell, it is rather a tawdry shrine of no great artistic merit, and horribly desecrated by a coat of dirty yellow paint.

Menesqueville is the station for Lyons-le-Forêt, and from here to the Seine the banks of the Andelle are settled with little cloth-manufacturing villages and towns which form a curious contrast to their more peaceful wooded backgrounds.

Near by are Rosy, with its Renaissance château; Charleval, with its towering chimney-stacks; Fleury-sur-Andelle, with its steep hill, so dreaded by automobilists; Radepont, with its eighteenth-century ruined château, abbey, and tower; Pont St. Pierre, which is simply a picturesque, paintable, and lovable little town; and, finally, as one draws even nearer the Seine, Pitres, known formerly as Pistes, where archæologists have told us was an ancient Gallo-Romain city which came to great prosperity under the first and second races of kings.

The emperors after Charlemagne had their houses here, as one learns from the fragments of buildings which remain and the scraps of history which have come down to us. Charles the Bald ordered the principal feudal lords to build, each in his fief, citadels strong enough to arrest the Normans. A formidable one is known to have been built here, though but scanty remains exist to-day.

It is a curious, and contradicting history that is to be evolved from the topography of the river Andelle. Throughout the valley one receives emotions varying from those of sylvan and idyllic surroundings on the upper river, to those aroused by the busy little towns peopled with yarn-spinners and cloth-weavers of both sexes, who are supremely happy at their work, which lasts for a dozen hours each day.

The middle ages covered this contented valley of to-day with numberless fortresses, which are now scarcely recognizable even as ruins. The tower of Jean-Sans-Terre which remains at Radepont, together with the earlier work of Richard Cœur de Lion, is the exception. These sit on the side of a profound and luxuriant gorge environed with the remains of the Abbey of Fontaine-Guerard, and should be searched out if one has the time.

At Douville, between Radepont and Pont St. Pierre, are the ruined walls of the Château of Talbot. South of the Andelle was what is known as Norman Vexin, one of those little districts of the olden time which even unto to-day has kept its name.

At Ecouis, not far from the banks of the Andelle, is a magnificent church built at the highest point of Vexin, amid a country wholly given over to wheat-fields. The church was founded by Enguerrand de Marigny and consecrated in 1313. In the interior is a magnificent mausoleum of Jean de Marigny, a former Archbishop of Rouen, the brother of the founder. It is a wayside shrine of quite the first rank, though seldom visited or seen except by travellers through Normandy by road.

Near the juncture of the Andelle is St. Etienne du Vauvray, the chief and only attraction of which is its curiously outré church, with a conventional central tower, slated, and capped with a singularly light and graceful iron cross, which in turn is surmounted by a representation of a cock, dear to the French as a symbol of the ancient Gauls.

The really great and most curious feature of this ancient church is the peculiar round tower which rises on the south side midway along the nave and is joined to its more modern neighbour by a ligature which is, in a way, inexplicable. One can understand the desire to preserve so ancient and curious a relic, and even evolve for himself its original use, though it looks for all the world like the round towers of Ireland, which many a savant has declared were pagan.

The easterly portion of this curious church—the more ancient part—extending from this flanking round tower is a wonderfully massive structure considering its size. Its portal is bare and gaunt and devoid of ornament; but it is typically Norman, with that strength of proportion which even in the best of Gothic often fell short of the earlier style. The western end is modern, shockingly so, with pepper-box exaggerated apse and no transepts.

There is elaborate glass throughout, though apparently of no great value. It is a charming ensemble of reds, greens, and browns that composes the view of this tiny church which one gets from before the astonishingly ample mairie, on the road to St. Pierre-du-Vauvray, the railway junction for Louviers and Les Andelys.

Muids, en route from St. Pierre to Les Andelys, is ordinary enough looking, at first glance, to justify travellers by road—automobilists and cyclists—to rush by without stopping, in spite of its beautiful situation on the banks of the Seine. Travellers by train will hardly give it a glance, for the outlook therefrom is not inspiring. It has, however, a church which dates from the twelfth century, and in its churchyard is a sixteenth-century memorial cross which is indeed an admirable art treasure.

An artist will fall in love with the ancient mill, picturesquely planted on the river’s bank; and, if it were not that the proudly set Château Gaillard, to be seen in the distance, draws one to it in a magnetic and inexpressible fashion, many pages of his sketch-book would undoubtedly reproduce some of the charm of the environment of this otherwise unattractive village, which it may be said possesses no accommodation for the traveller save the roadside tavern.

The road to Les Andelys runs from St. Pierre, by the left bank of the Seine, for nearly a dozen kilometres.

Above are the great towering crags of chalk, cut in fantastic forms; and beside one, almost upon the same level, is the great boat and barge traffic of the Seine. One sees great barges, some coal-laden from Belgium and others with cargoes of wine, cotton, or lumber from Havre and Rouen, all bound for Paris.

The twin towns of Les Andelys are famed—if famed they are in the minds of the casual travellers—for the “Saucy Castle” of Richard Cœur de Lion,—the Château Gaillard, his “daughter of a year,” as he himself called it.

The great Continental strength of the Kings of England—the Angevin kings, not English kings, mark well—who were the Ducs de Normandie, gave to the France of Philippe-Auguste no little concern. They held nearly, if not quite all, the coast of ancient Gaul, from the northernmost limits of Normandy to the Pyrenees; and were virtually masters of Bretagne, Anjou, Maine, and Aquitaine, which encircled the France of Philippe-Auguste like a vast belt and struck to the heart the new empire.

The great Philippe-Auguste, who hoped to do so much toward welding new France, had professed a great fondness for Richard Cœur de Lion, and had even undertaken the Third Crusade in company with him. This did not prevent him, however, from assailing the English possessions in France, ultimately occupying Normandy, Maine, and Poitou.

Among the heritages which had come down to Richard Cœur de Lion from the Angevin Henry II. was the desire, as far as possible, to protect his fair province of Normandy from the political outbreaks and warlike invasions which might happen at any time.

Richard was not as great a political power as Philippe-Auguste; but he was more than his equal in military skill. He cared not so much to possess the sceptre of his brother king as his sword. Accordingly he erected the redoubtable fortress at Les Andelys, which to-day, ruin though it is, charms the thousands that have appreciated its majesty and its all dominant situation high above the cobble-paved main street of Petit Andelys; so distant from the surface of the river which washes its very haunches that the river boats and barges look like crawling, creeping things endowed with crude animal forces rather than steam or manpower.

When the historian writes of Château Gaillard and the siege which it withstood against Philippe-Auguste he writes of one of the most decisive and memorable events in the annals of French history; and for this reason it is not recounted here. All histories give it in full.

As a monument of military architecture Château Gaillard, putting aside the interest in the events of its history, holds, without contradiction, the premier place among all structures of the same class which to-day exist throughout Europe.

Whoever wishes to know what a mediæval château—in this case a fortified castle of great size, and as near as possible, perhaps, to invulnerability—was really like, should study the Château Gaillard of Richard Cœur de Lion in detail.

Ancient Plan of Chateau Gaillard

It was Richard Cœur de Lion, an English king, who built this stronghold to guard his dominions on the Seine, but the whole fabric, as is the case with English history of the period, was built upon a foundation manifestly not English.

Artists have often limned the outlines of this great fortress both in detail and in conjunction with its charming environment; but justice has hardly been done. Perhaps it was not possible, for certainly Château Gaillard must be seen to be appreciated.

Cotman, Turner, and, in more recent times, Alfred East, R. A., have all painted it and its proud position; and scores of lesser artists have tried their hand. Certainly no mediæval monument existing in modern times has a more commanding or magnificently picturesque situation.

The Seine at Petit Andelys amplifies itself at the bend across which the lion-hearted Richard spread his chains in defence of his château. Above, scarce five hundred yards, the river is narrower than at any other part along its length between Paris and the sea.

The tiny islands just below the bridge dot the stream quite in the manner of the wooded islets elsewhere, but the background, the château-crowned height, the winding river road to Vernon, flanked by forest-clad hills, the woods above Vacherie, and the chalky stratified formation off toward Muids,—all combine to make an ensemble which can only be seen in Normandy, along the valley of the Seine.

The Seine at Petit Andelys

The Seine at Petit Andelys

The twin towns of Les Andelys are quite the most delightful and charming towns in all the Seine valley. None are so beautifully situated, so characteristically unworldly, and yet so gay with local life and colour on a national holiday.

Petit Andelys, on the river bank, is a sort of watering-place suburb for the larger town, which lies “un bon kilometre” away, the native tells you, up a long, straight, tree-shaded boulevard, which would add glory to a much greater city.

Each of the towns possess a magnificent and delightful mediæval church. That of Grand Andelys is the more elaborate and is truly a grand affair, with very good late Gothic, some good fifteenth-century glass, curious aisle vaultings and arches in its interior; and, finally, a north façade in the ugliest of Renaissance workmanship which ever disgraced an otherwise beautiful Gothic fabric.

The Hotel du Grand Cerf, a sixteenth-century tavern, which has come down to the present day still possessed of some of its ancient furnishings of old oak, stone, and plaster, is another great attraction in Grand Andelys.

The present café shows most of these: a great Renaissance fireplace with its accessories, an overhanging mantel, and a couple of corner cupboards which are delightful. The entrance from the courtyard is also elaborately carved. Walter Scott and Victor Hugo have both sung the praises of the house and graced its board, and it should be seen by travellers.

St. Sauveur’s at Petit Andelys is in quite a different class from its sister church at Grand Andelys. It is smaller, and a thoroughly consistent twelfth-century fabric, wholly delightful in its plan and execution. In short, it is one of the most perfectly designed and preserved edifices of its kind in all France.

The fêtes of the patron saints of Les Andelys, Ste. Clotilde at Grand Andelys (June) and St. Sauveur at Petit Andelys (August), are events which draw great crowds from round about, and are the cause of much gaiety of a truly local nature.

Grand Andelys has, moreover, a miraculous fountain dedicated to Ste. Clotilde. It is the centre for a pilgrimage on the second of June of each year, the date on which the saint, who was the wife of Clovis, caused the water to be turned to wine. The same thing has not happened since; but the fountain is still a venerated shrine.

The national fête on the fourteenth of July brings out crowds of people from the inland towns and villages, to bathe and go boating in the river, and eat and drink in the gardens of Petit Andelys’s two charming riverside hotels.

The Anglo-Saxon tourist will not want for company here at Petit Andelys, though it is not a very popular tourist resort. But if he drifts into the garden courtyard of the Hôtel Bellevue, in mid-July or August, or indeed at most any time between May and November, he will find a joyous crowd of artists gathered about a long table set beneath the trees. At night the electric lights—the one worldly note of it all—twinkle out from among the trees, and the talk on art, literature, and automobiles which goes from mouth to mouth, would fill any one with interest, and hold his attention no matter how blasé he may think himself.

In the ancient district of Vexin lying back of Les Andelys, in the valley of the Gambon, and beyond, are many little farming villages and towns which are a delight to the artist and the traveller who is also a seeker after local colour: Ecouis, with its great collegiate church; Etrepagny, with a fourteenth-century church and a fine hotel in the style of Louis XIII.; Gamaches, with some underground remains and other traces of an old fortress-château; Thilliers-en-Vexin, with the Château de Boisdenemetz, built under Louis XIII., the building and grounds having been laid out by Mansard; and Fontenay, with the Château of Beauregard, where was born the Abbé de Chaulieu, celebrated as much by his Anacreontic poems as by his churchly qualifications.

As one draws near to Gisors one passes the ruined donjon of Neufles-St.-Martin (1182), built by Henry II. of England, and the ancient Château de Vaux, built also on the plans of Mansard, but now forming the manor-house of a great farm.

Gisors is not often visited by casual travellers in Normandy. They usually make for Evreux, when they leave the Seine valley, in order to visit its cathedral, they will tell you; certainly not for anything else, for Evreux does not possess many tourist attractions.

As a matter of fact, they would do better to leave Evreux out of their itinerary and visit Gisors, which has a great mediæval Gothic and Renaissance church, quite as grand and bizarre as Evreux Cathedral. The Church of St. Gervais at Gisors dates from the year 1240, and is called by the native, with unwarranted pride, “la cathédrale.”

Collegiate Church, Ecouis

Collegiate Church, Ecouis

To a great extent its foundation was due to Blanche of Castile; and it is one of those highly interesting works occasionally to be found in France, which has no architectural style in particular and is accordingly, in the eyes of the critical experts, an ungainly thing. But St. Gervais de Gisors is a remarkable work. It possesses two elaborate late Gothic portals, though for the most part its details are frankly Renaissance. Again, the still earlier period of its foundation crops out bare and unadorned. In the sacristy is a rare bibliographical treasure, a register on parchment of the brothers and sisters of the Confrérie de l’Assomption Notre Dame. Heading the list are the names of Charles V., his queen, and his suite, the Duc de Bourgogne, the Duc de Berri, the Duc d’Orleans, the Duchess d’Orleans, the Comte d’Etampes, etc. This fine piece of work is admirably ornamented with miniature and armorial blazonings and continues the roll of names up to 1776. Altogether it is a manuscript of great interest and worth.

Gisors itself is rather a smug town with a characteristically good hotel (l’Ecu de France) and the usual collection of country shops.

The Ept and two smaller branches run through the town; and here and there the picturesque wash-houses on their banks group themselves most picturesquely, with the roof tops of the houses round about and the church steeple or the donjon of the old château rising high above.

The history of Gisors has been most vivid, and there are many remains of its past activities and glories in warfare and strategy. Before the tenth century, Gisors was but the site of a small château held as a fief from the Church of Rouen. Ultimately it was acquired by Guillaume-le-Roux, who made Gisors the key of the eastern frontier between Normandy and the royal domain of the Kings of France.

The remains of the fortress-chateau, built by Guillaume-le-Roux in 1097, show plainly that it was one of the wonders of the military architecture of its time. Additions and reinforcements were made in turn by Henri I. and II.; and, from the conquest of Normandy by Philippe-Auguste until to-day, its ruins, though fragmentary and widely separated, form one of the greatest collections of details of a mediæval fortress to be seen in the north of France. It does not form a unit as does the château at Les Andelys, nor is it a mere tower or donjon, as at Arques, Falaise, or Conches, but it presents a convincing indication of its former strength and magnitude.

Within its confines are the remains of a chapel dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury; but the chief feature is the great Tour des Prisonniers, some sixty odd feet in height.



This great cylindrical tower was erected by Philippe-Auguste, and for a long time served as a prison of state. Many will remember an old steel engraving of a painting called “The Prisoner of Gisors,” which depicts the interior of this great tower.

In 1527 François I. gave the domain of Gisors to Renée de France, on the occasion of her marriage to the Duke of Ferrara.

In 1718 it was given to Fouquet, in exchange for Belle-Ile-en-Mer, and later, in turn, to the Comte d’Eu, and the Duc de Penthièvre.

On the little bridge which crosses the Ept, between the station and the church, is a statue of the Virgin, which perpetuates the thanks of Philippe-Auguste at having been saved from drowning in the stream below, when he had fallen with his mounted escort through the rotting timbers of an old-time bridge. The inscription thereon tells the story in detail.

At Dangu is still a splendid château, and at St.-Clair-sur-Ept are the remains of a fortified castle, where, in 911, was signed the treaty by which Charles the Simple ceded Neustria to the pirate Rollon, whom Normans to-day so proudly revere.

At this time the Norman territory was bounded by the Manche, the extreme limits of the Cotentin, and, probably, by the rivers Mayenne, Sarthe, Eure, Andelle, and Bresle; leaving Vexin, in the southeast, a debatable land which was to be the scene of future struggles between Philippe-Auguste and Richard Cœur de Lion and Jean-Sans-Terre.

Rollon at this time embraced Christianity, and the Archbishop Françon, who baptized him, obtained from his new convert large donations in favour of many monasteries and churches; among others the cathedrals of Rouen, Bayeux, and Evreux, and the abbeys of St. Ouen, Jumièges, and Mont St. Michel.

From this time on the fierce pirates, the former companions of Rollon’s dangers and glories, were so tractable under his will and the new laws which were promulgated, that they soon became rich and opulent. Thieving and brigandage disappeared, and in their place law and order reigned in these parts for the first time.

The “Echiquier” was only permanently established at Rouen in 1499, however, and took the name of the Parliament of Normandy.

Chaumont-en-Vexin, on the national road to Pontoise, is a delightfully picturesque hillside town, once a residence of the French kings who built a castle here to aid them in their struggles for the possession of Normandy. There is also a fifteenth-century church.

Down the river valley, below St. Clair, are Berthenouville, with the remains of a mediæval château; Dampsmesnil, to be classed in the same category; and Bray, the nearest railway station to Ecos, which has a fine Renaissance château of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

A Seine Hamlet

A Seine Hamlet

Some of these small towns have a remarkably busy appearance on account of the manufacture of zinc, which appears to be the principal industry of a neighbourhood otherwise given over solely to farming and grazing.

On the Seine above Les Andelys, until one reaches Vernon, are a succession of tiny villages and hamlets, each with its weather-worn church, smoking-room, and tobacco shop, with an occasional large estate on its outskirts. Vezillon, with its bare, tumble-down, and deserted church; Bouafles, on the flank of the hillside running up to the Forêt des Andelys; Courcelles, with its church-spire and pigeon-loft inextricably mixed; and Port Mort, with its great menhir of untold age and uncertain origin, all surrounded by straight-furrowed wheat-fields, form one of the most delightful parts of the Seine valley.

Opposite Les Andelys is Tosny, a riverside market-garden town on a hill, with a remarkably picturesque little aisleless church bearing a date over its front portal of 1817; but which in its framework, as one can see from an occasional uncovered arch and pillar, is distinctly Norman of many centuries ago.

Just beyond Tosny, on the same bank, is the military prison-town of Gaillon, with its long steep hill, one of the most terrible in France to travellers by road; while still further to the westward is Louviers, with its beautiful flamboyant church, and rival hotels of more than ordinary provincial excellence. One is the “show place” of the town, with its old timbered front and its polished kitchen utensils. The other, the hotel of the travelling salesman, in the Grande Rue, is less picturesque, but no less comfortable.

There is little enough of interest at Gaillon to-day, though the origin of the town dates from the foundation of the Gallo-Romain fortress here. Gaillon was given to the Archbishop of Rouen by Philippe-Auguste after the conquest of Normandy. In 1500 Cardinal d’Amboise, the minister of Louis XII., laid the foundations of a great country-house here upon the foundation of the earlier fortress-château. It was one of the most splendid examples of the Renaissance in France, with a beautiful extent of sculptured decorations and furnishings, before it fell at the Revolution. Little remains to-day except a small part now built into the military prison. Its admirable entrance façade was preserved, and has now been reërected in the courtyard of the Ecole des Beaux Arts at Paris.

One great event Gaillon has in the course of each year, and that is the now famous “Courses de Gaillon” for the hill-climbing championship of the automobile world. The great annual event excites more interest than any other similar affair. It is solely for racing machines, unlike the Château Thierry event or the international motor-cycle race at Dourdan. Even more so than the great Gordon-Bennett race itself, do the races at Gaillon hold the attention of the leaders in automobile sport; for it is there that the real test of power and reliability takes place among makers and drivers alike.

The hill of Gaillon is tremendously steep, almost like the side of a house. It is not of great length compared to some of the mountain roads of Dauphiné and Savoie. It is not even a poor, rough, winding road, as is Ventoux, where a competitive affair was held during the present summer; but it is by far the stiffest climb of three kilometres, or a trifle more, on any of the great national roads of France. Usually such abrupt ascents or descents in France have been avoided, or at least lengthened and made less steep.

The Gaillon hill has come to be accepted as the severest test an automobile can be put to on the main roads of France; but the rest of the twenty kilometres from Vernon to Pont de l’Arche is a superbly levelled highway.

The roadways of France may not have that dainty picturesqueness of those of the southern counties of England, but their vistas are much more sublime and grand, and there is really nothing at all monotonous in long stretches of tree-lined, straightaway highways, such as abound in all the departments which go to make up modern France.

The Frenchman when he visits England, as a party of automobilists did during the present year, puts it more strongly even and, of course, more picturesquely, when he writes:

Des routes bien indiquées, mais qui, par leur peu de largeur en certains points et leurs virages brusques et à angle droit nous faisaient encore parfois regretter nos belles routes françaises droites et larges.

L’aspect du pays n’en est cependant pas moins fort attrayant, rappelant avec ses verts cottages, ses delicieuses prairies, et les nombreux troupeaux de moutons qui sillonnent les routes, certains coins de notre Normandie.

It is always “our beautiful France” with a Frenchman, and rightly, too.

The real hill of Gaillon begins in the town itself, which is not very attractive, with its huge military establishment and its not very well-kept main street. Half-way up this main street, which is about as bad a bit of paving while it lasts as one is likely to meet in France, past the curiously ugly Renaissance church, and the one or two picturesque timbered houses which the town possesses, winds the first stages of this famous hill.

Singularly enough, there is no way of going around Gaillon, which is often the case in a French town which has narrow, tortuous streets; and, incidentally, the observation is here set forth that, without doubt, the next question with regard to civic improvements, which ought to occupy the attention of the authorities in all lands, is the consideration of some system of encircling roads or boulevards, which shall enable automobilists to go around a town. Automobilists are unquestionably the coming road-users, for whom legislation should be made.

Continuing through the town, this great national highway flattens itself out for a space, on a little plateau from which the hill takes a fresh start. For something over a kilometre it rises straight and bold; then dips, as if to give one an opportunity to take breath. Finally it rises for a short, straight length in an ascent which must be dangerously near a twenty-five per cent. grade, something really astonishing when achieved by an automobile; for few railway lines in the world are laid out to accomplish more than one in ten.

On the occasion of this great event last year the start from the Hôtel Bellevue at Les Andelys was something in the nature of a pious pilgrimage to the shrine of this comparatively new force—the gas achieved from the carburation of essence à pétrole. It was an early hour,—all tried and true automobilists know, like fishermen, the value of the hours just after daybreak,—the hotel garage was all astir, and empty bidons, old rags, and greasy oil-tins littered the very dining-tables of the inn’s pretty garden.

It is but a short ten kilometres to Gaillon, and one thence to the hill; but garage accommodation is limited, and the first start is at seven in the morning. Hence it is necessary to “Speed! speed! with the wings of the morning,” as Henley puts it.

Out by the back entrance, along the quay, thence to the highroad and across the bridge to Port Morin, which the Prussians destroyed in ’71; and, climbing the slope toward Tosny, with nothing remarkable about it but its grand view of the Seine and its church with the Norman doorway and pillars,—which even the natives don’t know are Norman, because the restored façade bears the date of 1817,—one soon leaves the sight of Petit Andelys behind, though the quaint but beautiful shell of the Château Gaillard can be seen long afterward.

Soon there is a drop down a long gentle slope, another flight of that same great hill on whose crown is St. Barbe, only reached by the direct road known as the big hill, and one comes at once to the little group of ordinary, mean little road-houses, dignified with the pretentious name of hotels, known to all travellers by the highroad.

A piercing hoot and an ominous rumble—an automobile, of course—is heard; and the roadway is magically cleared, awaiting what is naturally supposed to be one of the participants of the races. But it proves to be only the local station omnibus, whose conductor has adopted this up-to-date and efficacious but misleading means of making himself heard.

As for the great hill climb itself, a report of it here would not—could not—differ greatly from those one has read of similar affairs elsewhere, save to recall that it is all up-hill work, and when a hundred and twenty odd kilometres per hour are recorded it means a speed of between seventy-five and eighty miles an hour, which on the level might be almost any believable rate of speed.

The day of the hill climb is Gaillon’s great day of the year, and when the crowd departs it again subsides into its usual somnolence. “Gaillon! elle est morte,” is a saying which one hears in the neighbouring towns, and it is not hard to believe. From here to Vernon, by either bank, one passes nothing of note.

United with the pretty little town of Vernon, with its tree-bordered quays and cafés and a certain restaurant famous for its matelote, is Vernonnet, interesting only for the relic of an old-time, twelfth-century château with two great coiffed towers.

Vernon is not amply endowed. Its situation is nearly all it has to recommend it; but its church is fine, and there is a cylindrical, ivy-hung tower that will prompt a question. It is the “tour des archives,” the only remains of a fortified château built here by that Duke of Normandy who was Henry I. of England.

The Château de Bizy, one of the most imposing Renaissance châteaux of Normandy, was built by the Maréchal de Belisle; and ultimately passed to the Comte d’Eu and the Duc de Penthièvre. It was mutilated during the Revolution, as were most of the other monuments of France; but General Suir restored it, when it was presented to the Duchess d’Orleans. Through the forest of Bizy, on the way to Evreux, one comes upon one of those bits of forest-road which lend so much variety to travel by road in France. Literally as smooth as if sandpapered, almost free from dust, and lined on either side by trees, which shelter one from the sun, they form a pleasant interlude in the day’s journey.

Crossing the Seine, one comes to Giverny, a not very attractive little village of itself, but greatly affected by the school of impressionist painters who have foregathered under the banner of Claud Monet, who lives there. This influx of artist life has made the prosperity of the natives who dwell in this little waterside town. It is really upon the Ept, a tributary of the Seine, distant half a mile. A hotel of more than ordinary pretensions has sprung up; and its dining-room and café are amply decorated with sketches by many whose names are already great in the world of art.

From Vernon, the metropolis of the Seine between Paris and Rouen, it is but four kilometres to Giverny, and even here one may see the effect of the influx of Englishmen and Americans who annually spend the four summer months here.

La Roche-Guyon forms a sort of boundary sentinel between the ancient domain of the Dukes of Normandy and that of the Kings of France. Here the Seine leaves Normandy, and the ruined donjon tower of the old château, and the Renaissance edifice at its base, the home of the La Rochefoucauld family, is the first of Normandy’s châteaux on the way to the sea. It sits proudly upon the chalky promontory in quite an idyllic castled-crag fashion.

The donjon of the ancient château was built in 998 by a seigneur named Guy or Gyon. This curious structure is approximately triangular on the outside, and cylindrical in its interior. There are also vast subterranean passages, cut into the rock upon which the donjon is built.

In 1419 the English, under the Earl of Warwick, besieged the ancient Château of Roche-Guyon and obtained its capitulation, after having undermined a portion of its walls.

Guy le Bouteiller lui conseilla s’avancer jusqu’à sous les ramparts..... de faire miner sécrétement ces grottes pour faire écrouler toutes les constructions qui les surplombaient, et écraser les habitants sous un monceau de ruines.” (Chron. du Religieux de St. Denis.)

One may visit the new château in the absence of the La Rochefoucauld family, and truly it is worth seeing, though it has none of the really gorgeous appointments of its Loire compeers.

At the entrance one reads on an iron plaque, which dates from 1597, and is surmounted by the armorial bearings of the Dukes of Roche-Guyon, certain articles concerning “Les droits d’acquit et plage deubs aux seigneurs de Roche-Guyon,” and beside a doorway a little further on, as if it were a voice of welcome, an inscription which reads “C’est mon plaisir.”

Near La Roche-Guyon is Haute Lisle, with a curious rock-cut church or chapel, like that of St. Adrien near Rouen, but rather more elaborate.

This completes a list of the chief sights and scenes of the Seine valley as it crosses Normandy on its way from its source in the Côte d’Or to its juncture with salt water at Havre.

Dumas, in “The Vicomte de Bragelonne,” describes the Seine as “the beautiful river which encloses France a thousand times in its loving embraces, before deciding upon joining its waters with the ocean.”

This is a true enough description, particularly with respect to its convolutions between Vernon and Caudebec, where the stream sweeps in long untrammelled curves of a radius which makes the barge traffickers wish for an occasional portage of a mile or two which would cut off a score by river.

The Two Châteaux of La Roche-Guyon

The Two Châteaux of La Roche-Guyon

Let us pray nothing will ever happen which will enable the river trafficker to cut the corners. It has been estimated that an exceedingly moderate amount of canalization would reduce the distance, from Paris to the sea through Normandy, one-half; but by the process the charm of the Seine would be despoiled. Instead, the long, sinuous tows of many-hued barges would be supplanted by high-speed express-boats, perhaps run by an overhead trolley from an electrical current transmitted from the shore.

Where, then, would be the recollection of the vast river-borne traffic of days gone by, when kings and princes made their way to the coast cities by galleys and sailing boat, or travelled in carriages along its pleasant banks? Instead of châteaux to crown its hilltops, we would have towering chimney-stacks of the “power stations,” and everything would be regulated by clockwork and machinery.



THE busy little villages which lie in the course of the Eure from Pont de l’Arche to Louviers are unheard of in the school geographies and conventional guide-books. They have little appealing interest for the general traveller. Arthur Young, a hundred or more years ago, knew them when he journeyed from Rouen to Louviers, and they have not greatly changed since that day.

By no means are they mere hamlets, though St. Pierre du Vauvray, St. Etienne du Vauvray, and one or two others are straggling enough in their way. With an important local railway junction at St. Pierre, however, there has grown up a traffic which has perhaps had less effect on the general topography round about than it has on the somnolence which once must have existed to a far greater degree than to-day.

At St. Cyr du Vaudreuil one sees sawmills and flour-mills grouped along the banks of the Eure, which here spreads itself into numerous branches with tree-grown islets, forming natural piers for the bridge which belongs to that great national highway from Rouen to Nantes, known as National Road No. 162.

From the first span of this long bridge, one sees, up or down stream, a succession of groupings of poplars and locusts growing up from the river bank, a tiny orchard or two, the long, wooded alley of larches which forms the entrance to the private park on the Ile l’Homme, the curiously spired church of Notre Dame du Vaudreuil, a sluice, and a weir. There are innumerable “motives,” as artists love to call them, for a day’s, a week’s, or a month’s work of brush or pencil.

The church of St. Cyr itself is a severe little building, with no decoration or ornament worthy of remark, though its interior is by no means bare or ugly. It has, furthermore, a charming roof of barrel-vaulted brickwork, which would be the pride of a more pretentious building. Its chief charm, however, is its modern but exceedingly picturesque spire which towers above the western portal. Its slated peak, its ornate iron arrow, and its corniced shaft, all group in delightful fashion among surroundings which, if not in any way luxurious, are exceedingly lively and interesting. Pigeons, and even crows and swallows apparently, fly in and out quite in the romantic fashion of sentimental poetry. The wonder is that they have not stopped the functions of the clock, which in this case, with its four dials facing each of the four quarters, is decidedly less offensive than usual, and forms a charming high light in a landscape of tender greens and grays.

The two artistic and architectural glories of Louviers are its magnificently florid church and the Hôtel du Grand Cerf. The Church of Notre Dame is a curiously hybrid structure in spite of the almost universal admiration bestowed upon its specific ornateness; for most people view it from only one side, that which has all the liveliness of the late Gothic era, or even later, for Renaissance details have crept in here and there, which will not allow it to rank with St. Maclou at Rouen, the peer of its class.

Hôtel du Grand Cerf, Louviers

Hôtel du Grand Cerf, Louviers

Renaissance details are seldom beautiful in conjunction with Gothic of any form, and when mixed with the latest variety which took distinguishable form are the more to be regretted, if one admires it in its purity, as it sometimes does exist, though very infrequently.

Some will not admit the beauty of Renaissance details at all. Certainly it is open to objection in a northern clime, regardless of how successfully the importation has been developed in architecture other than great churches. Here, however, in this singularly effective church at Louviers, it hangs like a parasite on buttress, lintel, and wall; not obtrusively, indeed, at a distance it is hardly distinguishable, but it is there, nevertheless, and taints the whole structure like the blight on a blossoming tree. Notre Dame de Louviers is a conglomerate structure, with the palm going to its severe, simple north tower and façade, in spite of the effectiveness of the more florid south front.

Not even in the Low Countries, or at Noyon in Picardy, where is that dignified and imposing early Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame, is there to be found a more impressive and elegant flanking west tower than here. Its graceful windows look bleak, boarded up or filled with stonework; but this was not for ornament, or they might as well have been left bare. It was probably for strength, temporary or permanent, in the expectation that some day an ornate spire would be added, which might rival even that of Texier’s at Chartres. Such was not to be, however. Nothing happened but a sudden desire to ornament the western porch and façade, in the sixteenth century; and so the edifice stands to-day, not a solitary example of such work; for one must not forget the cathedral at Evreux or that astonishing and freaklike Church of St. Gervais at Gisors near by, but one which is all the more sympathetic and agreeable because of the juxtaposition of the contrasting styles. The interior is interesting, but by no means to the same extent as the exterior, though the general effect is one of genial warmth and luxury.

The Eure, though not a great river, is a very beautiful one; and, in spite of being not well-known, is a very useful stream to the manufactories along its banks. It is tributary to the Seine, and properly belongs to the watershed of its larger parent. It flows nearly northward through Anet and Acquigny, and the little metropolis of Louviers, till its juncture with the Seine at Pont de l’Arche makes them one, so far as navigation is concerned, from Pont de l’Arche to Louviers.

One remarks the many tall chimneys of the cloth-factories of Louviers, of which Arthur Young wrote in the year 1787. With letters of introduction he had come to visit one of the leading manufacturers of a cloth then thought to be the superior of any woollen in the world. “Perfection goes no further than the Vigona cloths of M. Decretot,” said the genial traveller.

At Louviers the Eure divides into many branches and flows through the town in quite a Dutch-canal fashion. Louviers is both a new and an old town. The first in stone and brick housing the great cloth-factories on the water’s edge; while the second in stone and wood surrounds the magnificent Church of Notre Dame, and the old market-place where on Saturdays is to be seen a most extensive and picturesque display.

Louviers suffered greatly in the “Hundred Years’ War”; and the English invaded it in 1418, condemning to death 120 merchants chosen from the wealthy residents of the town. Even then it sheltered many cloth-manufacturing establishments whose products were in great repute and demand at all of the great fairs of the middle ages. In later days the prices of the manufactured goods have lowered; but the quality of the product of Louviers has always remained of the best. A trip up the valley of the Eure, from Pont de l’Arche to its rise near the southern boundary of Normandy and on up the valley of the Avre, will be wholly a new experience to many. It is not a magnificent stream, but it is a most industrious one, and turns numerous mill-wheels and waters a considerable section of the plain of Upper Normandy west of the Seine.

Damps, St. Cyr, Louviers, Acquigny, and Pacy are comparatively well-known, at least by users of the roadway, even if they do not stop over. The rich charms of many of the smaller places are, however, quite generally ignored.

Acquigny has in its church some remarkable wood-carvings and some valuable reliquaries. In the cemetery is a chapel, built over the tombs of St. Maure and St. Venerand, who were martyrized in the sixth century. There is also a château of the time of François I.

Next is Heudreville, with a diminutive church in part Romanesque; and at Croix St. Leufroy are the remains of the Abbey of Croix, founded in 788, and built into the fifteenth and sixteenth century parish church, in which are also the ancient baptismal fonts from the same edifice.

At Autheuil-Authouillet is a church with some good wood-carvings and ancient statues. It has, too, a fifteenth-century churchyard cross.

Chambray is of little enough note historically, except for an unimposing château of the time of Henri IV.; but its modern-looking, though undeniably and romantically environed, mill is one of those reminders of times, all but disappeared, before the advance of steam and electricity, which will appeal to artists and all lovers of travel.

If an artist could find accommodation in some wayside tavern, which is doubtful, as Pacy-sur-Eure, ten kilometres away, is the nearest centre of population—if a tiny place of two thousand souls can be so called—where such might be found, he would find view-points and colour-schemes enough to last him a fortnight, unless he worked with the rapidity of a Turner.

Just before reaching Pacy-sur-Eure one comes to Jouy-Cocherel,—and most likely passes it with a rush; for the roadway, though not a national road, is of that superlative excellence which often induces the traveller, if on a motor-car, to keep the pace until some untoward thing stops him.

The fifteenth-century church is all that it should be, but the near-lying hamlet of Cocherel claims the predominant historical interest. It was here in 1364 that the redoubtable Duguesclin vanquished the combined troops of the Kings of England and Navarre, and made prisoner the great captain, Jean de Grailly, after his rear-guard was cut to pieces by the French cavalry.

This feat of arms is commemorated by a monument erected near the banks of the Eure.

Menilles, almost up with Pacy, has an attractive church whose portal bears some most acceptable statuettes of the time of Louis XII. There is also a sixteenth-century château, most delightfully placed high above the roadway.

Pacy-sur-Eure is in itself hardly an attraction for the tourist; but it is his only chance for a square meal such as automobilists and cyclists demand, between Louviers and Evreux; and its hotel, the Lion d’Or, is writ down in the books of many as one of those enjoyable and unexpected tables d’hôte which one so frequently comes across in the open country of France.

Pacy is the head of canal-boat and barge traffic on the Eure, and achieves something of importance from this enterprise; but otherwise, save for a most excellent automobile garage and a book-store which would delight the inhabitants of an English or American town of twenty times the size of Pacy, there is not much else of commerce to be noted.

The church dates from the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, and was built upon a still more ancient foundation, so far lost in antiquity that its date is unknown.

In July, 1793, General de Puisaye, at the head of the Revolutionists, was defeated in a battle here by the troops of the National Convention.

Onward, toward the source of the Eure, one passes, by a gently rolling highroad, Hécourt, Breuilpont, and Lorey; unremarkable except for the natural beauties of their situation and the surrounding country. Where the roadway rises just beyond Pacy one gets a delightful view of the river valley known as the “Circuit of the Eure.” Here the not very ample stream winds in and out among the tall poplars in the same sinuous curves made famous by the memories of the celebrated vale of Cashmere, the broad river-bottom itself stretching out on either side a half-dozen miles, and leaving the silver stream a tiny thread running through the centre. It is a truly idyllic picture, and full of the sentiment which artists love.

Bueil is hardly more than a railway junction, where the line for Cherbourg and Brest divides; and at Garennes, an unassuming little village, the highroad crosses to the opposite river bank by a small bridge, from which one gets a delightful outlook up and down stream. Numerous water-mills are scattered here and there through the meadow-land, and there is an aspect of mechanical industry, which is astonishing to one whose conception of a factory is a great building of brick, with many windows and a towering chimney-stack as its chief and visible signs of usefulness. At Garennes one may see the trenches of the camp occupied by the Duc de Mayenne at the battle of the Ligeurs, at Ivry, in the last years of the sixteenth century.

Before one reaches Anet is Ivry-la-Bataille, a place name that conjures up much of history, though the great battle itself took place five kilometres away, in the neighbourhood of Epieds.

A column, first erected by Henri IV. and rebuilt by Napoleon I., marks the spot where the battle was fought on March 4, 1590. In the chronicles one reads specifically that it marks the exact location of the tent of the victor “au panache blanc.”



Ivry-la-Bataille has a thousand inhabitants, and a mere roadside tavern which rejoices in the grand name of Hôtel St. Martin. There are still remains of its ancient triple moat and fortifications, which date from the time of Louis the Fat and Philippe-Auguste, when the town was of vastly more importance than it has ever been since.

In 1418 the place was taken by Talbot, in 1424 by the Duke of Bedford, and in 1449 by Count Dunois, who demolished the fortifications.

Up to his time the name was Ivry-la-Chaussée, but since the great victory here of Henri IV. against the League, in 1590, it has been known as Ivry-la-Bataille.

Near the southern boundary of the ancient province of Normandy, in the valley of the Eure, is the Château of Anet, Delorme’s famous masterpiece, built for the winsome Diane de Poitiers, whose husband was once Seneschal of Normandy, in spite of the fact that her own name was evolved from the family estates in Poitou.

It was in 1552 that Delorme laid out the general plan of this magnificent Renaissance work, of which the wonderful portal and one wing yet remain. The rest was destroyed in the fury of the Revolution. Jean Goujon, the most famous of the Renaissance sculptors of France, lent his aid; and the arabesques and window decorations of Jean Cousin are, like the contributions of his contemporaries, incomparable.

This château was the pet and pride of the attractive and unfortunate Diane. It was also a favourite resting-place of Henri II., who often sojourned here. La Fontaine wrote, presumably on the strength of having been invited there:

“par l’ordre d’Apollon
Transportent dans Anet tout le sacre vallon;
Je le crois; puissions-nous chanter sous les ombrages
Des arbres dont ce lieu va border ces rivages.”

The susceptible Henri II. gave the new structure to the winsome Diane after her fascinations had been rejected by his father, François I. Diane must have had a sincere attachment for the family, or was able to convince the son that she had, to have acquired this magnificent establishment, now greatly remodelled, but still showing the outlines of the original château and many remains which are more than fragmentary. It is one of the best works of the architect, Philibert Delorme. The portal, which is magnificent, one wing of the present château, and the chapel are the relics left to-day of the original structure.

Art lovers will recall the celebrated statue known as “La Diane,” by Jean Goujon, one of the few authenticated works of this sixteenth-century genius of sculpture. This statue formerly occupied the centre of the Court of Honour of the Château d’Anet. It was all but destroyed when the rest of the château suffered at the Revolution; and, though in fragments, was sold to some one who placed it for safe-keeping in the Musée des Petits-Augustins at Paris. In 1818 the group was inherited by the Duc d’Orléans, but Louis XVIII. acquired it for the Louvre by giving in exchange the statue of “Ajax Defying the Gods.”

The group, of course, had its inception in the mythological story of Diana; but since the court charmer herself was a huntress of repute, it was but natural for Goujon to have modelled the features upon that of Henri’s favourite. This has frequently been denied or ignored, though it seems plausible; and, when one notes the features and the coiffure, he finds them distinctly French, not Greek.

Diane, nude, is posed nonchalantly, her right arm around the neck of a superb deer whose antlers have six branches and who crouches on the ground beside her. In her left arm Diane bears a golden bow, and her hair is garlanded with pearls. The two dogs, Procion and Syrius, are playing beside her; and the whole grouping and execution is of a superb fidelity to nature, and must undoubtedly always remain as the most typical example of the best of French sculpture of the epoch of the Renaissance.

The daughter of Jean de Poitiers, Comte de St. Vallier, of the Valentinois counts, was born Sept. 3, 1499. Her biographers have in the main been flatterers, but it is generally admitted that she was a precocious child. At any rate, her education was considerable even for her time.

Diane married Louis de Brézé, whose paternal home was at Anet and who had previously espoused Catherine de Dreux, at the tender age of sixteen years. De Brézé, or De Dreux-Brézé as he had become by his former marriage, was then fifty-five years of age, so perhaps there is some cause for the winsome Diane’s lack of constancy. She had secured from François I. the release of her father, who had been imprisoned for complicity in the Bourbon affair,—a circumstance unknowingly, it has been said, brought about by Diane’s husband himself.

It was on a certain occasion at Amboise, when the nobles attached to the court were awaiting the pleasure of François as to whether or not he would hunt that morning, that we read one of the earliest references to Diane. The Comte de Saint-Vallier had just given the signal for departure when Marguerite d’Alençon addressed the father of Diane as follows:

“M. le Comte, tell me, when is the court to be graced by the presence of your incomparable daughter, Madame Diane, Grande Seneschale of Normandy?”

“Madame,” said Saint-Vallier, “her husband, M. de Brézé, is much occupied in his distant government. Diane is young, much younger than her husband. The court, madame, is dangerously full of temptations to the young....”

“We lose a bright jewel by her absence,” replied Marguerite.

Saint-Vallier had by no means any business to mix himself up in the Bourbon mêlée, and sorry enough he was for it ultimately.

Bourbon had fled to Spain, ultimately to take the field against his royal master, François, in Italy, and the Comte de Saint-Vallier was the principal aid in his flight and his chief accomplice. What his reward was to be no one knows.

“Saint-Vallier a conspirator, too!” said François, when told of the affair. “What! the captain of my archers? That strikes us hard. Well, I am sorry for Jean de Poitiers.”

“Are the proofs certain?...”

“Jean de Poitiers, my ci-devant captain of the guards, is the father of a charming lady. Madame Diane, the Seneschale of Normandy, is an angel, though her husband, De Brézé,—why, he is a monster. The old story, my lords,—Vulcan and Venus.”

In due time Diane appears at the court. “A lady, deeply veiled, who desires to speak with his Majesty alone,” she is announced.

“By St. Denis,” says the king, “who is she?”

“I think, Sire,” says the page, “it is the wife of the Grand Seneschal of Normandy.”

“Well, it does not surprise me,” says the king. “When her father got himself into this mess, I assumed she would intercede for him.”

“Diane entered,”—quoting from a contemporary account,—“her head covered with a deep veil.” She weeps, but her beauty shines radiantly through her tears. She is exquisitely fair and wonderfully fresh, with golden hair and dark eyebrows.

“Pardon, Sire,” she cries, “pardon my father. He is too old for punishment, and has hitherto been true to your Majesty.”

“At any rate, madame,” said François, “he is blessed with a most surpassing daughter. Mercy, Madame Diane, is a royal prerogative, but beauty is most potent. Will you, fair lady, exercise your prerogative and lend your presence to my court?... Then I declare your father pardoned, even though he had rent the crown from off my head.”

Diane thus left Normandy and became one of the shining lights of the beauty-loving court of François I., though, as history tells, she was not able to exercise her wiles to any great extent upon the monarch himself. Indeed he soon forsook her when she laid herself out to fascinate the feeble Henri, the king’s son,—a task which was not difficult or slow of consummation.

Her devotion to François was not returned, at least not ardently, though François is known to have visited the De Brézé home on three occasions, as royal ordinances were signed or dated from there in 1528, 1531, and 1543.

If Diane did not succeed to her liking with the father, she made a quick progress with the son, the Duc d’Orleans, who later was to become Henri II.; for he “broke a lance in her honour” at a tourney, thus constituting himself her chevalier, though at the time the youth owned to but fifteen years.

It was in 1536 that Diane de Poitiers almost literally captured Henri, who had become the husband of Catherine de Medici. Catherine could do nothing except ally herself with the Duchesse d’Etampes, who, even at the time of the lance-breaking, was a self-constituted rival of Diane. It was indeed the tragedy of Catherine’s position that it was considered beneath the dignity of tragedy. She, the wife of the future King of France, hardly acknowledged herself worthy of rivalry with this huntress, who was also able to woo with all the artifice of that terrible new Platonism. The Duchesse d’Etampes, with her “Petite Bande” and her alliance with the Guises and the Connétable Montmorency, was able to give battle to this upstart, but Catherine herself could only look on. There was a time, some ten years after her marriage, when François actually meditated her divorce from Henri. Catherine, now Dauphine, still remained without children, and, at a great family council, Diane de Poitiers persuaded the king that a separation of the husband and wife was the only wise course.

Catherine appealed to François I. She had, she said, heard of what had been proposed. It was for François to decide. Catherine wept during this appeal, and the king, who disliked tears, decided in her favour. Diane was defeated, and the Dauphine won one of her few triumphs against her insolent rival. Curiously enough, however, when, in 1543, a son was at last born to Catherine, it was Diane de Poitiers, robed in the black and white of her widowhood,—De Brézé having died at Anet, aged seventy-two years,—who received the little being into the world, and constituted herself the nurse of the mother. It was surely no wonder that Catherine, in spite of all her verbal gratitude, retained “une plaie fort saignante au cœur.”

A considerable advantage had already accrued to the fair Diane; for, when the Dauphin died in 1536, the Duc Henri d’Orleans, lover of Diane, became the heir presumptive to the crown.

Finally, in 1547, François I. died, and Diane first came into her real power. Catherine was neglected, and the vindictive Anne de Pisseleu, Duchesse d’Etampes, exiled to the Château of St. Bris. The historians speak of the death of François “as having released one long-suppressed individuality, that of the Dauphin.” The case of Catherine, however, was even harder than before. The sullen boy, her husband, had become a man under the tutelage of Diane, and silently Catherine had noted his mental growth.

She wrote to the Connétable Montmorency: “I know full well that I must not have the happiness of being near him, which makes me wish that you had my place and I yours so long as the war lasts; and that I could do him as much service as you have done.” Catherine served her husband well as a diplomatist in Paris, and Henri learned to respect her intelligence, though he never gave her a fraction of his heart. Always between him and her there was one woman, Diane de Poitiers, Grande Seneschale de Rouen, Duchesse de Valentinois. Diane was seventeen years older than Henri II., but the spell that she held over him had always been extraordinary.

The favours to come to Diane were meantime not long delayed. Her seigneury at Anet was contested, and Henri, by the right of kings, decided it in her favour. He gave her the magnificent château at Chenonceaux on the Loire, and the duchy of the Valentinois, to which he added “sums considerable,” say the chroniclers.

With this money Diane set about to construct the Château of Anet anew. Bearing in mind the memory of her former husband, Diane permitted only decorations in black and white, and Henri himself was led to adopt the same as his own colours. Henri came frequently to Anet, where one part of the château was reserved for him, and decorated, curiously enough, with the cipher and arms of himself and his queen Catherine.

These visits of her royal master were the cause of great expenditures on the part of Diane. In one year alone they rose above four hundred thousand francs. When one adds to this the expenditure of the construction and ornamentation of the château, one gets some idea of the disbursements of the public treasury on behalf of a royal favourite. Henri refused nothing to his mistress.

Diane by this time possessed ten estates in France, besides the duchy of Etampes and a hotel in Paris, which had also been the property of her ancient rival.

It was the curse of Catherine, whose own life was one long period of dissimulation, to see her husband’s mistress successful mainly by reason of sincerity. It was terrible for this woman, who, however decadent, stood for the culture and the traditions of the Italian Renaissance, to be set aside easily, contemptuously even, by one whose pose it was to stand for what was national in the French offshoot of the Renaissance.

Around Diane at Anet there circled a brilliant group of poets and architects and sculptors, who were all Frenchmen. Such men as these made Anet a resplendent citadel of the French Renaissance; and Diane, the typical Frenchwoman, was well equipped to play the part she had chosen. Her palace was indeed a kind of Thelema,—the home of nature and of intellect, of beauty and of ease. Rabelais would have wandered there content, nor would Diane have been too refined to laugh at his jokes with the true Gallic spirit. To her, as to her fellows, gaiety was more necessary than delicacy.

The later history of Diane all students and lovers of French history well know, but the Château of Anet stands to-day as a monument to her memory, more closely identified with her personality than even Chenonceaux on the Loire.

One may visit its apartments on Thursdays and Sundays in July of each year, through the courtesy of the present proprietor; and a personal acquaintance therewith is a thing to awaken a new interest in the life and times of Diane de Poitiers, one of the most famous of all the favourites of Kings of France.



THE whole coast-line northeast from Havre to the borders of Picardy is a delightful succession of villages and towns where the salt smell of the sea mingles with the odours of wild flowers.

Along the fringe of the coast itself the watering-places crowd close one upon the other, from the more ambitious resorts of Dieppe, Fécamp, Etretat, and Tréport, with their casinos and conventional amusements, to the quiet and tranquil little villages such as Yport, Petites Dalles, St. Valery en Caux, and Berneval, which possess quite all the advantages of the larger and more frequented resorts, so far as the charm of prospect goes, with none of their drawbacks.

From Havre to Etretat one rises to a grass-grown, chalky height, which extends quite all the distance to the famous “picture-rocks” of the latter place.

Song of the Pays de Caux

Just after leaving Havre, on the heights which seemingly hang so perilously above the city itself are the Phares de la Hève, two great quadrangular towers which were built in 1775. The larger of the towers has a flash-light in its lantern which is visible at sea a distance of fifty-one miles in clear weather. Between the two is situated one of those gaunt, long-armed semaphores, like Don Quixote’s windmill, with which the coast of France is so plentifully supplied. They are the forerunners of the wire-less telegraphy of to-day, and certainly serve their purpose admirably.

To Montivilliers, somewhat back from the coast, one passes the modern Château of Colmoulins, built after the style of the Renaissance, whose chatelain possesses, it is said, many fine pictures by old masters and the canopied bed in which hath once slept France’s great admiral, Jean Bart. Through the valley runs a charming little river called the Légarde.

The old-time pigeon-house attached to a great house or in a barn-yard is a frequent sight in Normandy. Usually it was a great, isolated round tower, large enough, one would think, to shelter thousands of pigeon families. That of the manor-house of Ango at Varengéville is one of the most curious of all, while St. Ouen at Rouen had, in the sixteenth century, one cruciform in shape, whose lower regions formed a cellar, the ground floor a poultry-house, and above was an open hanger or place for storing hay and grain.

A Pigeon-house

A Pigeon-house

Montivilliers, which is reached by electric cars from Havre, possesses a church which is a relic of a strong foundation dating from 682. The abbey was instituted by St. Philibert of Jumièges, and still other of the conventual buildings have now been incorporated into a local brewery, if such a degradation may be mentioned. The Cemetery of Brise Garet, with its surrounding galleries in sculptured wood representing funeral subjects, is decidedly unique, and quite well worth making the journey from Havre to see. The library of this small and wholly unimportant town of Caux has a collection of ten thousand volumes, all relating to the history of Normandy, as well as many precious manuscripts of the middle ages. It should form a vast treasure-house for some modern historian.

At St. Jouin, which is almost a suburb of Etretat, is the Hôtel de Paris, whose chatelaine was, in the days of the elder Dumas, known as “La belle Ernestine.” In 1865, Dumas fashioned the following portrait of her in verse, which, to say the least, seems rather free speech:

“Son esprit est comme ses hanches
Il est souple et toujours bondit,
Et comme elle a les dents blanches
Elle rit de tout ce qu’on dit.”

Dumas fils followed with:

“Mais si vous croyez qu’elle m’aime
Vous vous trompez complètement.”

Finally, Wallon, the Minister of Public Instruction, wrote ten years later:

“Griffoner ici quelque chose
Pour la belle Ernestine oh! non!
Il y faudrait mettre une rose.
Je n’y puis mettre qu’un.”

The town itself is but a little fishing village of a thousand or more inhabitants, but luncheon in the dining-room of Madame Ernestine Aubourg’s little inn is to enjoy a feast for the eyes and mind as well as the inner man. The walls are hung with paintings, sketches, and autograph letters. Among the latter are those of Isabella II., Queen of Spain, Castelar, Offenbach, Suzanne Brohau, and Dumas. The paintings are by Lambert, Picou Hamon, Maurice Courant, Corot, Yvon, Becon, Olivié, Landelle père, and many others.

Etretat, with its falaises, its bains de mer, and accessory attractions, has lost some of its former vogue with the throng of rank and fashion, but it is still as charming as ever, and, though solitude is a scarce commodity there to-day, there are really grand outlooks to be had, which might inspire poets and painter alike, as of yore, did they not mind the rush of automobiles and the distractions of the casino and its crowds.

The history of Etretat points to the fact that it was once the most famous resort on the north coast of Europe; but it is now surpassed by Trouville-Deauville and Ostend, which have been taken up by society, to the financial, though not artistic, detriment of Etretat.

The first bathers, the local chronicles will tell one, arrived 1803. In 1844 the old Maréchal de Grouchy came to Etretat, and Alphonse Karr contributed to the popularity of the place at about the same time by laying there the scene of his romances, “Vendredi Soir” and “Le Chemin le Plus Court.” Karr really was responsible for the great popularity which Etretat had as a watering-place at one time. He wrote further in its praises thus:

“Etretat is a new province which either I or the painters Le Pottevin and Isabey have discovered. I am as Americus Vespucius to Christopher Columbus or Daguerre to Niepèce. I nearly called it by my own name.... I talked so much about Etretat that I made it the mode, ... but to-day it has become merely a branch of Asnières.”

Isabey may be said to have been the first painter to discover Etretat. After him came Le Pottevin and Mozin; then an Englishman named Stanfield, and since then no one shall say how many artists have made its chalky cliffs and pebbly beaches their own.

From all this one might think that Etretat was essentially modern in all respects; but it existed in the epoque romain, and its name appeared, in a charter of 1024 given to the abbey of St. Wandrille, as Estrutat.

The chief attraction of Etretat, outside its delightful situation and its conventional amusements, is its fine Church of Notre Dame of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries; really a delightful old edifice, which, taken in conjunction with the gaieties of the summer life of the town, seems sadly out of place.

The whole neighbourhood round about abounds in delicious wooded hills and valleys running through openings in the cliff to the sea, often with a tiny, transparent rivulet clasped closely in its embrace.

Here is Guy de Maupassant’s charming description of one of these delightful Norman valleys, which for fidelity and picturesqueness of phrasing could hardly be improved upon:

“From Dieppe to Havre the coast presents an uninterrupted face of cliff about three hundred feet high and as straight and smooth as a wall. Now and then, where there is an abrasure in the cliff, a little valley descends from the well-wooded and perhaps cultivated plateau behind. Sometimes this little ravine resembles the bed of a torrent; and sometimes a little village settles itself in one of these self-same valleys.

“I have passed a summer here in one of these ravines which faced the sea, lodged at the house of a peasant. From my windows I could see a vast triangle of blue framed by the green sides of the valley, dotted now and then with white sails glittering brilliantly in the sunlight.”

There is a very considerable portion of the Normandy coast (and that of Brittany as well) which has just this aspect. The rivers, curiously enough, with the exception of the Seine, are not navigable. They are simply little rivers which carry off a certain amount of surplus water from the table-land above. Some of these have gone dry; hence the gorges or ravines which exist so very numerously along the Norman coast. They are truly delightful, and by no means have they become tourist-worn or denuded of idyllic charm.

From Etretat to Fécamp, which is a veritable metropolis compared to the former, is but a dozen kilometres as the crow flies, though the windings of the road as it nears Fécamp add six or eight more.

The Harbour of Fécamp

The Harbour of Fécamp

Yport lies between, and is what the French call a “petit bain familial.” It is a picturesque fishing port as well, and much nicer than either Etretat or Fécamp, the first of which smells of automobiles, and the second of Benedictine. It has a casino, too, but it is not pretentious and offers a sort of homœopathic amusement quite suited to French mammas and their strictly guarded daughters.

Fécamp is a historic town and the first deep-sea fishing port in France.

Sixteen hundred men and sixteen thousand tons of shipping are engaged in the Newfoundland fisheries out of Fécamp. The ships depart for the Grand Banks in March and return in September, when their crews lay up their great schooners, and equip their two hundred odd boats for the herring and mackerel season in the North Sea. And so the round of the year goes on in the fishing port of Fécamp, ceaselessly but profitably, and whether the Fécampois is hailing a Gloucester schooner on the banks, or passing observations on the weather with a Yarmouth trawler in the North Sea, he is always the good-natured, hard-working Frenchman that one sees in all the Norman and Breton seaports; for there is none of the laisser-aller of the Mediterranean fisherman in his make-up.

In the middle ages the belief that the relic of the Precious Blood of the Saviour had been brought here by a mysterious craft, and landed on the coast at the ancient settlement which bore the Latin name of Fiscamnum, was the cause from which grew up the ancient monastery for women founded by St. Waneng in 660. In time this establishment became an abbey for men, through the means of the monk Guillaume of Dijon.

To this abbey was attached a great and flourishing school which endured until the thirteenth century.

The Maison Morillon in the Quartier de l’Hospice is built up of relics from the old abbey demolished in 1802, and the Abbaye de la Trinity, with its church dating from 1125-75, is indeed of quite the first rank, though modern restorations have vulgarized it almost beyond belief.

The name Fécamp is also familiar to lovers of Bénédictine, that subtle liqueur invented by the monk Wincelli.

The Cliffs of Yport

The Cliffs of Yport

Leaving the coast, one finds Cany, a leading town of the district, at the mouth of the little river Durdent, a dozen kilometres from Veulettes. The little town sits in a delightfully wooded valley and possesses a fine sixteenth-century church. In the kitchen of the Hôtel du Commerce is one of those rare architectural or decorative accessories that one comes across now and then in out-of-the-way places,—a great armorial chimneypiece which dates from 1624.

The market is one of the most lively in all the Pays de Caux, and is frequented by large numbers of folk from the country-side and neighbouring towns.

On the coast are Grandes and Petites Dalles, small places where the bathing is the chief attraction of the visitor. They are surrounded, however, by the most beautifully rustic woodland country it is possible to imagine.

Veulettes partakes of much the same characteristics, except that this little town of three hundred odd inhabitants possesses a somewhat apocryphal legend all its own. “Formerly,” according to the legend, “there existed here an important town built upon the sands, at the mouth of the river Durdent, known as ‘la grande ville de Durdent,’ which one day was engulfed by the sands or overflowed by the waves, and so disappeared from view.

St. Valery-en-Caux is a veritable metropolis for these parts. It contains, perhaps, four thousand souls, and has grown up from an ancient settlement which surrounded a monastery founded here by St. Valery, who also erected another similar establishment, some leagues up the coast at the mouth of the Somme in Picardy, known as St. Valery-sur-Somme.

Both the ancient fishing port, which was also established here, and the town which hugged the old monastery in its grasp, grew to some considerable prominence, but were stunted by the wars of the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, only recovering their prosperity by the aggrandizement caused by the accession of the fisherfolk of Veules, who had been driven away from their own homes by the encroachments of the sea.

Of late years the usual watering-place tendencies have developed; and a casino has sprung up which draws a floating summer population of some hundreds of strangers from June to September.

Notre Dame de Bon Port is St. Valery’s chief ecclesiastical monument. It dates from the sixteenth century only, but has a remarkable wooden vaulted roof and two thirteenth-century pillars, and arches built into its portal.

The Maison Henri IV. (1549), so called because of having been the lodging-place of that turncoat monarch, is perhaps the other chief architectural curiosity. It is a typical Renaissance house with some finely sculptured woodwork. In the quarter known as the town is a Renaissance cross and a slate roofing over the ruins of the priory founded, perhaps, by St. Valery.

On the road to Dieppe, beyond St. Valery, is Veules-les-Roses, most picturesquely and euphoniously named. It has but 760 inhabitants, many of its fisherfolk having removed to Dieppe, where they settled in the quarter known to-day as Petit Veules.

Dieppe all cross-channel travellers well know. It is a great port of entry, a watering-place, a fishing port, and a city of shops and industries, all of considerable magnitude. Its attractions for all classes are many and varied, and no attempt is made to catalogue them here. To the eastward of the town the great promontory which juts out into the channel is strongly fortified; and at all times since the days of Philippe-Auguste, the town and its environs have been considered of great strategic value.

The Dieppois as seafarers were in the old days, and to some extent are still, the rivals of the Malouins of St. Malo in Brittany. In the fourteenth century explorers from Dieppe scoured the seas as far as Cape Verde and the African coast; and fished for cod off the coasts of Iceland and Norway.

Names of Dieppois famous to those who know the early discoverers and explorers of the new world are Jean Ango, the armateur (1480-1551), Jean Cousin, the pilot of Columbus, who discovered the Brazilian coast (1488), the Admiral Duquesne, one of the glories of the reign of Louis XIV. (1610-88), and many others.

Dieppe’s two great churches, St. Jacques and St. Remi, are wonderfully preserved monuments of their respective classes, and are rich in those accessories and details which make a great church truly beautiful. The chapel of St. Yves in St. Jacques served as the oratory of Jean Ango, Vicomte de Dieppe, the benefactor of the church.

The town hall is of modern construction, but it houses a library of twenty-five thousand volumes, including many rare works and maps and plans of the coasts of Europe.

The museum has many curios of town and country, which have come down from other days, and a fair collection of paintings, including works by Isabey, Le Pottevin, Colin, Lemaire Cugnot, Garnier, Falguière, and others. On the stairway leading to the second étage is a curious and valuable carte cosmographique by Jean Cousin (1570), near which are placed several of the nautical instruments made use of by him.

Dieppe, with its casino and its lawns, and the whole establishment devoted to baths and open air and indoor pleasures, places the town quite in the first rank of watering-places, though by no means is its situation as grand as that of Etretat; nor is it so greatly in vogue as Trouville-Deauville.

The château is a picturesque edifice high on the hillside, overlooking the shore, with four great towers, a donjon, and a pont-levis. It was built in 1435, but has been disfigured by various additions. To-day it forms the Ruffin barracks, and accordingly may not be visited by the curious.

Near Dieppe is Arques-la-Bataille and the forest of Arques.

The château of Arques was erected by William, the uncle of the Conqueror, about 1040. Its donjon was divided according to the usage of the time into two parts, though the second was doubtless a later addition. The history of this great fortress-château, one of the most formidable in all Normandy, is very vivid and extensive, and is known to all lovers of French history.

It was held successively, after its builder’s time, by the Conqueror, Stephen, Geoffrey Plantagenet, Cœur de Lion, Philippe-Auguste, and Jean-Sans-Terre. Finally it reverted to the French Crown. Louis XIV. visited the château of Arques in 1648; but the Bernardine monks took from it in the seventeenth century much material for the construction of their convent, at which time it became practically a vast quarry of stone. In 1793 the ruins were sold for 8,300 livres; but in 1869 it again became the property of the state, and a guardian was installed to prevent further ravage.

The sixteenth-century church of Arques-la-Bataille is an elaborate building, far more grand than one usually expects to find in a town of eleven hundred inhabitants; but, after all, the town’s chief attraction is the great rectangular donjon, practically all that remains of the old château.

The manor-house of Ango, also near Dieppe, is one of those reminders of the olden time which has reached us quite unspoiled. It was built by a celebrated ship-owner of Dieppe (1530-45), and is a great country-house surrounding a rectangular courtyard, to which one penetrates by two opposing entrances.

The very beautiful pigeon-house is quite the most elaborate of its kind anywhere to be seen.

Near Dieppe, also, is Puys, a sort of suburban watering-place for Dieppe itself. It owes its popular existence to Dumas fils, who made his residence there in summer. It was here that the elder romancer died in 1870; for which reason Puys may be said to be a true literary shrine.

“Monte Cristo” has something to say of the charms of Normandy. Addressing his companion, Bertuccio, Dantes says:

“I am desirous of having an estate by the seaside in Normandy, for instance, between Havre and Boulogne. You see I give you a wide range. It will be absolutely necessary that the place you select shall have a small harbour, creek, or bay, into which my vessel can enter and remain at anchor.”

Possibly Dumas may have had in mind the little Norman village of Puys, where he died, when he wrote the above lines; though more probably not, as the “Count of Monte Cristo” was written at an early period of his life, while he died only in 1870.

Eastward toward the boundary of Normandy and Picardy, one passes Varengeville-sur-Mer, Sainte Marguerite and Quiberville, all delightful little seaside towns with a touch of the beau-monde in summer, and a dull, quiet, but none the less entrancing, life in winter, when the natives gossip about their last season’s visitors, and speculate as to what the harvest may be the coming year, meantime catching a few fish and going weekly to the nearest market-town.

Tréport and Mers are the last two resorts on the Norman coast.

There are the usual summer attractions, of course, but there is much more also, and the life of the fisherfolk of Tréport and Mers forms a pleasant antidote to the observer of men and things who may become tired of watching bathers and red umbrellas.

Tréport was the Ulterior Portus of the Romans; but it came to no great importance until well along in the middle ages. Robert I., Comte d’Eu, founded here in 1059 an abbey of the order of St. Benoit; and Robert Courte Heuse garnered his forces here to set out in battle against Henri Beau Clerc, King of England.



The affairs of the ancient Comté d’Eu, in which Tréport was situated, were many and varied in the middle ages, and it was but natural that the seaport of the fief should speedily have grown to respectable proportions.

The Church of St. Jacques dates from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries; and, though reconstructed in the Renaissance period, has many attractive and beautiful details. The ancient presbytery is a charming Renaissance building with a façade of sculptured wood.

Mers, on the opposite bank of the Bresle, is usually linked with Tréport, and is of itself a seaside resort of no mean pretensions.

Next, perhaps, to the Château d’Anet, Normandy’s most celebrated Renaissance château is that of Eu in the Department of the Lower Seine, just south of Tréport on the river Bresle. Eu itself is a town of considerable rank; and has, besides its historic château, a remarkable church,—St. Laurent’s. It is an ancient collegiate church and one of the most beautiful in all Normandy.

The church was built 1186-1230 and reconstructed in the fifteenth century, but it ranks with the cathedral at Rouen, St. Maclou, and the choir of La Trinité of Fécamp as one of the greatest and most typical of the florid Gothic church edifices of Normandy.

It should interest Hibernians from the fact that it is dedicated to St. Laurence O’Tool, one time Archbishop of Dublin. Behind its fine retro-choir is a casket containing the personal relics of this great man.

In its actual state the Château d’Eu is of modern construction; but its souvenirs of the middle ages are numerous, nevertheless, and the names of its counts are not without honour in the annals of Normandy. The precise period of its foundation is unknown, but it dates perhaps from the period which preceded the arrival of the Normans into the Comté d’Eu, when it was probably simply a feudal fortress.

The hereditary Counts of Eu do not date back before the eleventh century. The first who bore the title was Guillaume, son of Richard Sans Peur, Duc de Normandie, and grandson of Rollon. When he died, in 996, he left the estates to his son, Richard le Bon, whose reign was apparently a troublous one, beset on all sides by turbulent seigneurs, who envied his security of tenure and wanted it for themselves, as was the way in those days.

Robert, Comte d’Eu, played a great part in the Conqueror’s invasion of England, and indeed aided greatly in the preparations which went on previous to the actual descent upon England’s shores. At the battle of Hastings he commanded the right wing of the invading army, and, as a recompense for his bravery and ability, was given Hastings Castle and its domains in the counties of Kent and Sussex. He died in 1080 and was interred in the Abbey of Tréport, founded by his father, where reposed already the remains of his wife Beatrix.

Guillaume, the next heritor, had nothing of the good qualities and abilities of his father, and was “of an unquiet spirit and a pusillanimous heart,” as the annalist has it. His mauvais passions inspired him to ill deeds; and altogether he was an unpopular sort of a person.

Jean de Bourgogne, Comte d’Eu, promised to deliver up the château to Edward IV., the English king, but Louis XI. ordered its destruction instead.

From a document of the time one reads the following, written in the picturesque old French of the time:

Dix-huictiesme jour de juillet, an mille quatre cent soixante et quinze, environ neuf heures du matin fut la ville de Eu et chastel ars et bruslés par les gens de guerre, par le commandement et ordonnance du roi.

Five years after this event, in 1480, a modest manor-house was erected on the ruins of the old castle. A century later the present splendid château was begun, but, unfortunately, in the second year of our new century it suffered so greatly by fire that somewhat of its former magnitude has been impaired.

The sixteenth-century château was begun after the marriage of Catherine of Clèves, Comtesse d’Eu, with Henri de Guise (Le Balafré). It was never wholly completed as planned, but the notorious De Guise (or famous, if one chooses to think so) spent some time here, “always absorbed and preoccupied.”

Charles de Lorraine, Duc de Guise, and son of Henri de Guise, inherited the title, but never visited his château or the town.

On June 26, 1641, Louis XIII., returning from Dieppe, stayed at the château; and his successor, Louis XIV., and the famous Montpensier sojourned there for a time; of which circumstance one may read at some length in that lady’s “Mémoires.” Shortly after she became Countess of Eu herself.

In 1660 Anne-Marie-Louise d’Orleans came into possession. The Duc du Maine came in turn to occupy the estates, but, though he sent a deputation to take formal possession, he himself never inhabited the château.

The Duc de Penthièvre inherited the domain and occupied the château from 1776 up to 1791. Louis-Philippe made much of the Château d’Eu. His court was frequently held here; and a most splendid fête was given on the occasion of the visit of Queen Victoria, who came to return a call from the French king. Some years later, in 1848, the prince became an exile in England, demanding a refuge from the young queen whom he had entertained so graciously. To-day the château belongs to the Duc d’Orléans.

On the little river Bresle just south of Tréport and Eu are Aumale and Blagny. The former possesses a remarkable sixteenth-century church, with a tower attributed, somewhat doubtfully, to Jean Goujon. Blagny has the Church of Notre Dame of the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries; and near by, at Séry, are the remains of a Premonstratensian abbey, founded toward 1120.

Neuchâtel-en-Bray, across country toward Yvetôt and Bolbec, is in the very midst of one of the richest pasture-lands of Normandy. The town dates from Merovingian times, and was called Driencourt before the construction of its château in 1106 by Henri I., Duke of Normandy and King of England. Thus its importance was early established.

The Church of Notre Dame dates in part from the twelfth century, and, with its later additions, forms an admirable expression of the architecture of its period, though in reality it is a work yet unfinished. It has been sadly mutilated.

An ancient abbey of the Bernardine monks is now occupied by the town hall, library, Board of Trade, and school.

The library contains many rare works, among them a manuscript Bible of the thirteenth century, a polyglot Bible from the old Abbey of Foncarmont, a collection of ancient royal bells, dating from their origin, and a fine silver seal and contre scel belonging to Louis II., who was Duc de Longueville and Comte de Dunois.

Situated in so rich a pasture-land, Neuchâtel is famous for its butter and cheese, as is Gourney, its neighbour on the west. The Suisse cheese of Neuchâtel is also a variety of light, sweet cream cheeses, and is often confounded with Neuchâtel in Switzerland, which really originated here in the midst of these Norman pastures.

Yvetôt, between Rouen and Havre, has not much fame with general travellers, though occasionally there is one who remembers Béranger’s verses on “Le Roi d’Yvetôt,” and thinks it warrants a call.

The history of Yvetôt does not offer anything of remarkable interest except the memory of the Kings of Yvetôt, which Béranger’s satire so well recalls.

The title of “Roi” was given to the seigneurs from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries, and was first popularized—perhaps in a vein of cynicism, too—by Henri IV.

Dumazet traced the succession of the title down to 1688, when it belonged to the illustrious family of Albon of Lyonnaise, the head of which was the Marquis d’Albon.

Tradition has preserved a certain style of buildings which crops out occasionally here. When the houses are not of wood, they are frequently built, or at least decorated, with little square cakes of quarried stone, in much the same manner as the Romans made use of decorative brick. Some of the old-time houses of Caux are indeed reminiscent of the Roman, with horizontal bands of stone or brick running across the façades in three or four rows.

The Cauchois have some distinctive customs in dress and manners of living, and Yvetôt is a good place to observe them.

Weaving is an important industry at Yvetôt, and it employs about a thousand workmen and women.

A Cauchoise of Yvetôt

Near Yvetôt is Allouville-Bellefosse, which possesses a phenomenal oak-tree celebrated throughout Normandy. It is the grandest tree in the province. Its trunk is entirely hollow for a great distance above the ground and is nearly ten metres in circumference. It enfolds in its branches two chêne-chapelles, as they are known. The lower is dedicated to Notre Dame de la Paix and the upper is known as the “Calvaire.”

A French savant has figured out the age of this remarkable tree to be approximately eight hundred years.



WESTWARD of the mouth of the Seine is a little strip of coast-line which in a restricted sense may be said to be the resort of the Parisian world of fashion during the summer months. Trouville-Deauville, Beuzeval-Houlgate, Dives-Cabourg, and Arromanches have their own especial attractions and their own clientèles; but they are all much alike, and it is only in the old towns, such as Honfleur, Pont l’Evêque, Ouistreham, Ruys, or Port-en-Bessin, that one sees anything at all characteristically Norman.

“To Honfleur seven and a half miles, which we made in an hour in a strong north wind, the river being rougher than I thought a river could be.” So Arthur Young wrote in the eighteenth century, as he journeyed from Havre de Grâce across the Seine bay to the still important port of Honfleur. “A small town, full of industry,” he continues, “with a harbour full of ships, and even some Guinea-men as large as at Havre.”

All this is true as far as a reminiscence of Honfleur’s former glory is concerned; but its commerce to-day is fishing and the tourist’s trade, and no deep-sea ships frequent its crumbling quays. Instead of casks and bales and other evidences of traffic beyond the seas, you will find white umbrellas and artists’ easels set about on the wharves, with their owners all trying to catch the fleeting picturesqueness of the old town, which has heretofore been successfully done by Eugène Boudin and his fellows in art of a half-century or more ago. The name of this great painter is much revered in France, and it stands for much that is best in the modern French school of painting. Boudin’s work forms the bridge which links the romantic style with the frankly impressionistic. Monet was one of Boudin’s pupils; but he did not continue simply a preacher of his master’s tenets, but ran riot with colour in a way which Boudin himself could never have conceived.

Boudin chiefly worked in those towns and villages which fringe the north coast of France, as indeed Monet has done since. But Havre and Honfleur and the Trouville of other days claimed his best and most prolific work.

Through the generosity of his brother, M. Louis Boudin,—still a dweller on the Norman shore,—the important art museum of Havre has lately been endowed with over two hundred of Boudin’s brilliant sketches; and at the smaller gallery of Honfleur (where Boudin, the son of a sailor, with the sea in his blood, was born) there are more than a dozen of his characteristic paintings.

One reason why the art of Boudin is specially to be enjoyed at Havre and Honfleur (though, indeed, the public galleries of those places contain nothing of his that is so important individually as the great “Port de Bordeaux” in the Luxembourg) is that there, within sight of its windows, are the elements, in depicting which with poetic realism Boudin won his title to fame. His are the fishing-boats riding the restless sea, his the infinite variety of the rolling waters and the changeful sky.

Boudin’s characteristic was not of colour alone, but of motif as well. He painted Breton “Pardons,” Belgian towns and scenes in the market-place, and drew also the cattle of the valley of Touques. He “placed” his cattle perfectly in those fat meadows,—they became, as he was, a part of the country. He drew the fashionable world of 1868, crowding the beach of Trouville. Without wishing it, he was the historian of the crinoline and the beau monde of his time. But one always comes back to those scenes which were the inspiration of his life. Boudin set down, in unexampled vigour and vivacity, his impression of the Channel, its vessels and its ports, its waters, winds, clouds, and sunshine; the weather of every hour of each day.

To-day one reaches Honfleur from Havre after much the same procedure as did the old-century traveller, whose description of the voyage might well apply even now, except that one makes the journey by steam-packet in a considerably less time. The latter part of the old account is, however, only too true. The mouth of the Seine is almost a replica of the boisterous Straits of Dover; but it is the only way to get to the decayed old port, Honfleur, from Havre without going thirty miles or more around and crossing the ferry at Quillebeuf.

Honfleur, the seat of a departed commercial glory, is to-day all the more attractive because of its dry-as-dust decrepitude; and the contrast with the busy metropolis of Havre, across the Seine, does not exaggerate this, it only emphasizes it.

Here the sea, as it mounts at break of day, finds the people already awake, and one sees a medley of fisherfolk and their craft, with which familiarity is needed for appreciation. The picoteux are a style of fishing-boat seen only out of Honfleur. These fishing-boats are very nearly yachts, for the modern science of construction, as to this type of craft, has not improved upon the provincial simplicity.

It was the ancient town of Honfleur that once held the bulk of the trade with New France in America; but its real commercial glory is now gone, stolen by its more opulent and successful neighbour. The activity on its quays to-day among passengers, stevedores, and fishermen is but a comic-opera travesty on the more magnificent activities which once obtained.

The beauties of Honfleur are to be found in its curiously appealing ensembles. All that remains of its thirteenth-century ramparts is the Quai Beaulieu, whence the boat for Havre leaves. Porte de Caen the ancient harbour was first called, and later La Lieutenance. Eastward lie the quartiers, as they exist to-day; and, though they are but a mimicry of their former selves, they are still characteristic of the olden time.



The denominations of the ancient parishes were Notre Dame des Vases, practically non-existent to-day; St. Etienne des Prés, called to-day the town; St. Leonard des Champs, to-day really a suburb; and Ste. Catherine de Bois, rising up the sides of the Côte de Grâce.

Honfleur has, in its Cours de la République, a sort of miniature Cannebière which fronts upon the old harbour. On the Quai St. Etienne is the old Church of St. Etienne, the most ancient in the city, though to-day it has been converted into a sort of local pantheon, which was commendable as an act of civic pride, but does not appeal to the outsider.

From Honfleur, by the Trouville road, Puits is reached, one of the most extraordinary and most lovable of all the little towns in Normandy. Here is the Church of St. Leonard, an isolated church surrounded by a sea of flagstones. It is not strictly beautiful as old churches go, though it is undeniably picturesque. On the other hand, all its charms are negatived by the heavy, meaningless tower or cupola which caps its façade.

The curious timber Church of Ste. Catherine de Bois is perhaps the most appealing and picturesque feature which Honfleur possesses; and, when seen in conjunction with the still more curious wooden steeple, one wonders that one has never been smitten by its charm before.

The church is separated from the tower by a narrow street, on which faces a most ungainly and ugly Renaissance portico. The main building dates from the fifteenth century, and its rare and mellow timbered side-walls have worn well. These enclose the aisles, which have curious little square windows with small leaded lights; while above rises a row of clerestory windows, also squared, but with good flamboyant mullions which would be the pride of many a more substantial and grander edifice.

More daintily environed than any other of Honfleur’s churches is the little sailor’s chapel of Notre Dame de Grâce, on the Côte de Grâce, on the west side of the harbour. There is nothing very splendid about its surroundings or its appointments; but on a day of pilgrimage, when the sailors and their wives, their sweet-hearts and their daughters, flock hither, it presents a sight comparable only with the pardons of Brittany. Indeed, after its sailors and artists, Honfleur would seem to be noted for religious processions.

The houses of Honfleur are, in general, less lofty and ornate than in many other regions of Normandy; but their narrow timbered fronts and irregular gables render them no less picturesque.

A half-dozen or more kilometres from Honfleur is a little stream, not marked on many maps, known as the Risle. On its banks, about the same distance from its juncture with the Seine, is Pont Audemer, another beautiful town, given over, however, to industrialism. Its tanneries and cider-presses give employment and sustenance to several thousand people.

The Parisian calls Pont Audemer the capital of the “royaume de chicane,” and goes on to say that this district comprises nearly all Normandy. This is manifestly an exaggeration and unfair; but it is claimed further that the municipal court-house at Pont Audemer is the most frequented of all its buildings, and that to be a notary, a lawyer, or a sheriff here is to become immediately rich.

The town is picturesquely disposed on the banks of the Risle, which furnishes an abundant supply of water to the tanneries which line its banks.

It has a really great church in St. Ouen, which makes it a place not to be omitted from one’s itinerary, if it can possibly be included. It dates from the eleventh, the fifteenth, and the sixteenth centuries, and still possesses fragments of early stained glass and some curious Renaissance wood-carvings.

Between Pont Audemer and the juncture of the Eure with the Seine one comes upon one of the most lively and interesting parts of agricultural Normandy. Here the fields are literally covered with apple-trees, planted more closely than elsewhere, to the number of a hundred to the acre, but the trees thrive exceedingly. The peasant cultivates his trees with great regard for their well-being, and is quite as deft and painstaking as his brother of the vineyards farther south. There are no vineyards which are celebrated north of a line drawn from the mouth of the Loire to where the Oise joins the Seine, just south of the confines of Normandy.

The Norman grower of cider-apples is assiduous in his devotion to his work. To gain an advantage of his competitor he will rent more ground, economize and borrow to buy other land, and wait patiently, working meanwhile early and late for the fifteen years to pass before he may gather a maximum crop.

In the Cider-apple Country

In the Cider-apple Country

When the fruit is abundant all the Norman country-side is a land of fulness and plenty, which in other times is wanting. Sometimes it happens that the cider crop is good when the wine crop is bad. Then all the more profit for Normandy; but the failure of the apple crop elsewhere—in England, for instance—does not affect the market in Normandy. The French do not export cider as they do wine.

None the less assiduously do the growers of cider apples in the north tend their harvest than the vine-dressers of the south; and the white or blond nectar of Normandy is as highly valued in its own land as are the ruby vintages of the south.

Savants have before now attempted to trace the origin of the apple-trees which so plentifully besprinkle Normandy, but they have generally fallen back upon the old excuse, “L’origine s’en perd dans la nuit des temps.” Some, again, have claimed that the first trees were brought from Italy by a Gauloise legion, a part of which penetrated into the north and settled in the land between Evreux and Caen; while still others of the older writers have said that the first apple-trees came from the north of Spain, in the time of Charlemagne.

For three hundred years at least the process of cider-making has not changed in Normandy. It is a simple one, and doubtless does not vary exceedingly from the practice elsewhere, except that it is made here from the distinctive cider apple, of which there are three varieties, the bitter, the bitter-sweet, and the sweet. As made in Normandy, it is the pure juice of the apple, purer doubtless than most wines alleged to be made of the juice of the grape. There is no sugar or spice added, and no marble dust to simulate a carbonated drink. Since the apples are not eaten, there is an abundance of all the varieties, which are usually mixed in equal proportions.

The actual making of cider in Normandy is a sort of a home occupation. One does not take his apples to an established press in some centre of population, if he has not one of his own, but arranges for a sort of travelling brewer to come to his own house. The various disjointed elements of a press, differing only in details from the usual form known throughout the world, are brought up on a cart, unloaded and dumped down in the courtyard at an early morning hour.

The process of erecting the press is not a long one, as the operation is astonishingly simple. A heavy square or circular platform is surmounted by the latticed cylindrical or square box into which the apples, previously mangled by a sort of gigantic coffee-mill, are emptied until it is filled to the brim. The long capstan-like arms, propelled by the master cider-maker and his press boy, complete the operation, and, two hours after sun-up, the end is in sight. By nine of a summer’s morning he is on his way to the next customer, leaving behind the débris of two or three hundred kilos of apples, which have been turned into 150 or more litres of the luscious brown juice, which only needs its eight days of fermentation to evolve itself into a sure cure for the gout and rheumatism.

There is very little variation in the process, though often it is carried out on a larger scale; and one progressive patron of an ambulating cider-mill has ingeniously attached a petrol motor by a simple system of shafting, which completes the preliminary process of mashing the apples in an astonishingly short while.

There is another method somewhat in vogue, and, though it is not so commonly practised, it is supposed to produce finer cider.

After a first crushing or bruising, the apples are left in a great tub open to the air for a day. Then the free juice is drawn off and the rest left to dribble out, after tepid water has been added to hasten the process. It is then left to ferment very slowly in a temperature of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Small cider—the common variety, one might call it the vin ordinaire of Normandy—is a mixture of apple juice and river water; the muddier the better, it would seem.

A Norman Cider-press

A Norman Cider-press

The consumption of cider is apparently increasing throughout France. Statistics show that it is made in over half the departments, and in Picardy, Normandy, and Brittany all classes drink little else.

It is popularly supposed that the increase in the consumption of cider was originally due to the invasion of the phylloxera in the wine-growing districts of the south some years since. Whether this is so or not, it does not much matter; the real Normandy cider forms a welcome summer drink after the heavy beer of England and the glucose-like compound of the Low Countries.

The cider industry is one in which the profits fluctuate, because it is almost wholly an article produced for home consumption. When the fruit-growers and the cider merchants’ receipts are less, the money in circulation in the neighbourhood is correspondingly less; and in some sections this produces much hardship. The cider of commerce is of two varieties, that drunk by the peasants and labourers of the towns—a rather weak mixture of cider and water—and that usually served at the better class of inns and hotels.

Beyond Pont Audemer is Touques, a most ancient town of about 1,200 souls; possessing, in its Church of St. Thomas, the first stone of which was laid by Thomas à Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, a shrine which no English tourist should omit from his itinerary of Normandy. In the middle ages Touques enjoyed a great and growing importance until the Revolution stunted its growth.

Between Pont Audemer and the Seine, at Quillebeuf, is a patch of morass, like nothing so much as the polders of Holland. Here it is known as the Marais Vernier; but it has a real, genuine Low Country dike encompassing it, known as the “Digue des Hollandaise.” An artist can here paint black and white spotted cows, windmills, houses on stilts, and most of the local colour of Holland without leaving the Seine valley.

At Beuzeville is a fine public square surrounded by quaint old houses, with a church in the ogival style of the thirteenth century, and a charming market-house which, undoubtedly, if transferred to canvas with the proper amount of skill, would make a picture worth buying.

Pont l’Evêque, just south of Trouville, enjoys the reputation of being one of the most picturesque towns in Normandy. This is due, principally, to the aspect of the life of its streets and squares in conjunction with its backgrounds of old houses, the great square tower of its church, and the usual surroundings of a quaint market-town. At any rate, it is typically Norman and is directly on the line between Trouville and Lisieux, or across country by road from Rouen to Caen; so there is not much excuse for real travellers to pass it by, although they frequently do so. Moreover, it is blessed with an excellent country inn, the Bras d’Or, where one is served a bountiful and excellent meal at a most modest price.

Bons vivants will revere Pont l’Evêque for its cheeses. Situated in the midst of the District of Auge, its pastures are very fertile, and accordingly its milk products are justly celebrated. Rich pasturage and great orchard enclosures, with hedges of willow so thick as to form a barrier as impassable as barbed wire, indicate the source of prosperity round about, with here and there a modest château half-hidden by the trees.

In the neighbouring Château of Bonneville William the Conqueror frequently resided.

The ancient market and the old houses of wood lend an air of antiquity to the general aspect of this rather more than usually lively country town.

In the Touques forest, which is an exceedingly fashionable driveway in summer for the gay folk of Trouville, is the Château d’Agnesseau, which dates from the reign of Louis XIII. At the cross-roads of Croix-Sonnet one comes to a vast plateau set out with orchards and fruit-gardens, while the forest itself, as one enters it by road from Trouville, offers thirty or more kilometres of beautiful tree-lined roadways, which must be refreshing to those dulled and jaded with the stone pavements and hot sands of Trouville-Deauville.

At the St. Philibert is a statue framed with verdure, erected by the wood-choppers of the forest to Notre Dame des Bois.

One makes his way from Honfleur to Trouville by a corniche road, which is a marvel among all similar roads in the north of Europe.

In a way, it reminds one of the famous corniche from Nice to Cape Martin on the Riviera, but so far as it goes it is a superb, though perilously planned, roadway running along the very face of the cliff, which blankets the coast-line for so great a part of the Norman shore. Its fifteen kilometres make an exceedingly picturesque drive, with charming snap-shots of sea and shore at nearly every turn.

The Hôtel St. Simon and its ancient farm and cour, which has been so often painted by artists (immortalized, one may say, by Monet), is passed on the right, and for a half-dozen kilometres or more one is within sight and sound of the sea and its sands.

The only town of any magnitude whatever passed is Cricquebœuf, which has a celebrated vine-grown church dating from the twelfth century, and an old manor-house which is unusually pretentious.

From this point, on by Villerville, one reaches Trouville via the Jetée Promenade and the Terrasse which faces the square, below the dominating hills which run inland to the woods of Touques.

Trouville is principally the resort for society, for millionaire yachtsmen and horsemen; but, for all that, it is, in a way, a typical Norman fishing village.

Lovers of Dumas will recall that it was the scene of the early life of Gabriel Lambert, in the romance of that name. Gabriel, the counterfeiter who finished his life in the galleys at Toulon, spent his early days at Trouville, whence he made his way to Paris by way of Pont l’Evêque,—just the route that record-breaking automobilists take to-day. The story of Gabriel Lambert and Marie Granger is an interesting one, albeit a sad one, and there is a wealth of local colour woven into it.

Trouville is also the scene of another of Dumas’s little-known tales, “Pauline.” Dumas’s own description of the little fishing village, as it then was, has a semblance of a likeness even to-day, when rococo villas, great hotels, electric-cars, and golf links have added an air of modernity to it which is anything but peaceful.

“You know the little town,” said he, “with its population of fisherfolk. It is one of the most picturesque in Normandy. I stayed there a few days exploring the neighbourhood, and in the evening I used to sit in the chimney-corner with my worthy hostess.... There I heard strange tales of adventures which had been enacted in Calvados and the Manche.”

Dumas also describes, though more or less superficially, many another quaint historic Norman town: Caen, Lisieux, Falaise, blessed with the memory of “the Conqueror’s birth,” Pont Audemer, Havre, and Alençon.

Trouville has two interesting, though not architecturally great, churches in Notre Dame des Victoires and Notre Dame de Bon Secours, which latter has an ex voto chapel as its great attraction.

The town hall is a modern structure, but it has two fine landscapes by Charles Mozin and Isabey hung in its board-room.

The public square is of course the rendez-vous of Trouville’s fashionable element, and, if they are not “five o’clocking” at the neighbouring tea-shops à l’Anglais, they may be found strolling on the boulevard which flanks the sands “quatre à six,” as the local expression goes.

It is impossible to catalogue society’s attractions here; nothing is missing; and those who are looking for the distractions of a modern watering-place will find them all.

Deauville is Trouville’s more exclusive and aristocratic neighbour, and has its polo field, golf links, tennis-courts, and automobile race-course. It is an impossible place for the man of moderate means, and is as Parisian as the boulevards themselves.

The “Terrasse” may be called its chief sight, though hardly any but mammon worshippers seek it out. Along its length and breadth, for it is a vast seashore boulevard sixty or more feet in width, are the villas of many whose names are famous in the society columns of the journals of France, England, and America; and, though Deauville’s season is short, it is very lively.

Villers-sur-Mer and Beuzeval-Houlgate each possess, in a minor way, the villa attractions of Trouville-Deauville.

From Villers to Houlgate extends a line of sombre cliffs called the “Vaches Noires,” from which fishermen may fish in June and July with almost invariable good luck. Its seaweed-strewn rocks are covered with mussels and other less edible shell-fish.

Dives-Cabourg is another of those hyphenated resorts of the Calvados shores which possess delightful aspects of sea and sky.

Dives-sur-Mer is the old town, the very old town, from which set sail William the Conqueror, in his descent upon England, with his two hundred thousand varlets and fifty thousand gens d’armes. Accordingly Dives and the country round about should prove of an interest to all lovers of historic shrines. The Church of Notre Dame is of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; but built up from the ruins of an edifice which existed in the eleventh century, and was destroyed in 1436 by Edward III. of England.



The old market-house of Dives, like many another in these parts, is an admirable construction in wood, and covers a part of the vast Place du Marché, where was formerly situated the ancient abbatial of St. Marie du Hibou of the twelfth century. The police now occupy an old Benedictine convent.

Dives’s really great curiosity, for those who marvel at personal relics of other days, is the “Hostellerie de Guillaume le Conquérant,” in part dating back to the sixteenth century at least, which has been preserved and restored with considerable care and skill by its proprietor, M. Le Remois.

It is a veritable museum of ancient relics, too numerous to be more than hinted at here. It is decidedly the great attraction for the visitor, and whether he is impressed the more with the relics of the days of the Conqueror, or by those of the accomplished Madame de Sévigné, he will be assured of comfortable quarters, a warm welcome by the landlord, and a bountiful repast. A stay at this old-time hotel is decidedly one of the pleasures which all travellers in Normandy will afterward cherish.

Cabourg it is impossible to describe; and in spite of its proximity to Dives and its association therewith, one will not come away from it with any feeling of regret. It is new, painfully new, with its shop-, café-, and hotel-bordered Avenue de la Mer, its casino, and its beach covered with bathing-machines, red umbrellas, and white tents.

The lay-out of this “station balnéaire” is unique. It opens itself out like a fan from the centre, where is the casino, with long, radiating streets and avenues bound together with semi-circular avenues in most symmetrical and dull fashion. There are fine sands, to be sure, and the attractions are all irreproachable of their kind; but the true lover of Normandy will much prefer to make his stay at Dives than at its seaside neighbour of Cabourg.

Caen, the old capital of Lower Normandy, is one of those conventional tourist points which ten-day travellers from across the Channel usually “do” in an afternoon, and hasten on to Bayeux for the night. With the beautiful “Abbaye aux Dames,” with its crypt of the thirty-four closely set pillars, at one end of the town, and the “Abbaye aux Hommes,” with the one-time tomb of William the Conqueror at the other end, to say nothing of the various churches lying between, it is hard to see why a tourist should hurry away. However, there is much available information on this paradoxical city of the present day Department of Calvados to be gathered from many sources; and, save to observe that its modernity and its ancient decrepitude are so strongly contrasted that it is bewildering, not much space can here be given to it.

The chief sights are its eight magnificently planned mediæval churches, of which the “Abbaye aux Dames,” founded by Mathilda, the wife of the Conqueror, and the “Abbaye aux Hommes,” founded by the Conqueror himself, are the most celebrated architecturally and historically.

The Manor-house Gens d’Armes, so called from two curious statues which flank its tower, is situated somewhat away from the beaten track of tourist promenades, and is quite worth the hunting out, if only to snap-shot its remarkable disposition of parts. It is an admirable example of sixteenth-century French domestic architecture.

With the same regard for architectural beauties, one must remark the admirable Renaissance apse of the Church of St. Pierre, mainly a Gothic fabric, but with the interpolation of one of the most elaborate and successful Renaissance adaptations in all French ecclesiastical architecture. This portion of the edifice dates from the early sixteenth century, while the main body goes back to three hundred years before. It was the masterpiece of Hector Sohier, one of the leaders in the art of the Renaissance in France.

Tower of Gens d’Armes

Tower of Gens d’Armes

A bibliographical note which is often ignored is the fact that Caen was the birthplace of two men whose names are very great in French literature.

The first is he who has been called the father of French poetry, though perhaps a truer name would be the father of French critics; for Malherbe’s title to the name of poet seems to rest mainly on those beautiful verses he wrote to console his friend Du Perier on the loss of his daughter, in which are the oft quoted lines:

“Et rose, elle a vécu ce que vivent les roses,
L’espace d’un matin.”

François de Malherbe was born in 1555 and died in 1628, and to French litterateurs he is known as the reformer (modernizer?) of the French tongue and of French poetry. The Malherbes seem to have belonged to Caen, for the father of the critic held the position of counsellor for the king in its magistracy.

The other celebrated litterateur born at Caen was even a more interesting man, Huet, Bishop of Avranches, the preceptor of the Dauphin, son of Louis XIV.,—he who has been called the last of those encyclopædic and massive scholars of whom France has produced so many. To-day one admires Huet most, perhaps, for the breadth of mind with which he united philosophy and orthodoxy. Malherbe and Huet are only two out of many of whom one must needs think, if one thinks of the past at all, in Caen, but they are probably among the cleverest of her sons.

Here, then, is something more than six hours’ work already laid out for the tourist. He will find innumerable facts and details set forth in the red-covered books with which tourists of all nationalities arm themselves; and Caen, for many reasons, will prove a vast and edifying treasure-house.

At Caen lovers of architecture should hunt out the Hôtel d’Escoville, an elegant edifice accounted one of the best of Renaissance domestic establishments. It was built between 1532-38 by an architect whose name, but not his fame, was buried with him.

Two other similar structures exist at Caen of value in the study of architectural art, but frequently overlooked by tourists in general. They are the Hôtel Mondrainville and the great pavilion of the Château of Fontaine-Henri.

Cloister of the Capucin Convent, Caen

Cloister of the Capucin Convent, Caen

On the keystone of an arch of the church of Ifs, near Caen, may be seen a curious device, presumably that employed by the master builder of olden times as a sort of a trade-mark. In form it is readily recognized as a stone-worker’s hammer or marteau, and, like the curious cryptogrammic and “Bill Stumpsian” marks on the cathedral at Cologne, doubtless means nothing more or less than the stamp of approval of the builder or his workmen, or the insignia of the work actually put into place by some particular individual.

Running due south from Caen there is a pretty bit of river—the Orne. On leaving the town, the road keeps close to the river, running through a charming valley interspersed with rocks and wooded banks, and in the midst of a country—

“Richly set
With châteaux, villages, and village spires.”

To continue up the valley of the Orne, and its smaller tributary, which is hardly more than a babbling brook, is to leave the well-worn roads behind and to strike out for oneself.

The valley of the Noireau is one of these. The towns are not as populous or as famous, perhaps, as those that fringe the coast; but they have at least so much to offer that one would regret not having known them.

Condé is a bustling little factory town, which is idyllic as to its situation, though the place itself is unattractive enough. Tinchebray, where Henry I. of England defeated and captured his elder brother, Duke of Normandy, in 1106, has a curious church, overburdened with clock-faces; for it has two, an ancient one which looks not out of place, and a modern one which looks as though it might belong to a cotton factory. Sourdeval is a charming old-world little town, though by no means a dull one, and when it celebrates the fête of its patron saint in the summer, it is as gay as the gayest resort on the coast.

The Brouains, which rises beyond Sourdeval, is a busy little working river which turns countless mill-wheels, and also waters many square kilometres of meadow-land. Above is Chérence, which is not found on many maps, and here the valley widens into a more ample vista. Brecey is a small town with a large public square; and, ten miles away, the coast of the bay of Mont St. Michel at Avranches is reached through the Cotentin, after a journey of some forty miles by road.

Not every one will perhaps make the journey, but the way is given here because of the fact that it embraces a region of the country-side of Normandy which is unfamiliar and certainly very beautiful and quite unspoiled.



Bayeux, Balleroy, Ryes, Port-en-Bessin, and the coast-line from Arromanches to the “Roches de Grand Camp” might well occupy a lazy week. Most tourists rush into Bayeux by train or automobile, have luncheon, a look at the famous tapestry and the cathedral, and take the road again to St. Lô, another cathedral town, and so to Coutances for the night. The thing is possible by either road or rail, but it is most unsatisfactory.

Of Bayeux but little need be said here. The guide-books do it ample justice; and the hand-books and various accounts which have been written concerning the now time-worn and rather dingy tapisserie have made it almost a familiar spot to “armchair travellers” as well as tourists.

Near Bayeux is the charming Château of Balleroy, built by the elder Mansard, the originator of the “Mansard” roofs, in 1626. On Wednesday one may visit its great apartments, good pictures, tapestries, and rare old furniture. Although it does not rank with the great Loire château, it approaches it.

The façade is handsomely disposed, if one admires Mansard’s manner, and the ensemble view just before one reaches the little village of Balleroy is quite on the grandiose order.

The château dominates the village and stands high above even the top of the parish church. There is a chapel attached to the château, or rather situated within the park.

Near by is the forest of Cérisy, planted closely with young birches like so many French forests. Nowhere does one see any old trees, and therein lies one of the reasons why the French forests are so well preserved.

Northward from Bayeux to Ryes one passes at Sommervieu the old-time château formerly belonging to the Bishops of Bayeux, which to-day is reconstructed and used as a seminary.

Normandy abounds in “fortified farms.” On the road to St. Lô from Bayeux there are several which one passes by road, and one of the best examples of its class is the farm of the Pavillon at Ryes. It has three great protected gateways, which to all intents and purposes are quite on the lines of a fortification.

Ryes is daintily situated on the little river Gronde, and possesses also a remarkable church of the twelfth to fourteenth centuries.

Asnelles, on the coast, four kilometres from Ryes, is a tiny watering-place whose population doubles itself during the summer months.

Offshore, a distance of a mile or more, is a series of great rocks known as the rocks of the Calvados, from which the name of the department was originally taken. It is presumed that the name Calvados was originally the name of one of the ships of the invincible Armada, Salvador, which was wrecked here at the time of the coming of the Spaniards to invade the north.

Walled Farm

Walled Farm

Arromanches-les-Bains is very pretentious, but of no interest whatever to the general traveller; though the artist, in spite of the distractions of the little resort, will get some good bits of life and colour among the mackerel fishermen of the town.

Port-en-Bessin, lying to the westward of Arromanches, just before the Cotentin peninsula is reached, is a fishing port at the mouth of the Drome which has not yet become overrun by tourists of the watering-place kind. Many who know its fame come here from neighbouring towns to enjoy the luncheons and dinners of the town’s fine tables d’hôtes, but this is all.

It is yet quite an unspoiled bit, not accessible by railway and not on the direct road to anywhere, though but eleven kilometres from Bayeux. For this reason it may retain for some time to come some measure of its present unworldliness and the charm of its local manners and customs.

South of the actual coast towns of mid-Normandy, and before one reaches the plateau region of the upper valleys of the Touques and the Orne, from Rouen to Mont St. Michel via Lisieux, Falaise, and Avranches, are innumerable roads which are unknown to most tourists.



Since this book does not pretend to survey the old province minutely, not all of these byways can be outlined here. Suffice to say that the chief towns of what one may be allowed to call South Normandy and those of the Cotentin peninsula and their characteristics are treated of in the chapters which follow.

For the rest, any who will linger on the way in a trip across Normandy, from the Seine to the Bay of Mont St. Michel, in a line drawn practically midway between the coast and the southern border of the old province, will meet with a succession of old-world spots which are comparatively little known.

Lisieux, St. Pierre, Falaise, Argentan, Domfront, and Mortain point the way in a comparatively straight line between the two points before given and form the chief places of interest; but the country which lies between is inexpressibly charming, and has only to be threaded in any direction to prove the unexpected wonders of days long gone by. The survival of many manners and customs which have not yet died out or become worldly by contact with railways, telegraphs, telephones, and great metropolitan newspapers will also be revealed.

If there ever was a city of wood it is Lisieux. All its buildings, however, are not wood; for there is a not very beautiful, but astonishingly complete, Gothic cathedral, and numerous other civil and domestic structures which are of stone; but wooden houses are everywhere, and in every state of hoary and tumble-down picturesqueness. Occasionally, even to-day, a salon exhibitor will show a painting of a street of those old lean-to houses of Rouen, which tourists and buyers of picture post-cards know so well. If he would paint some of those to be found at Lisieux, his fame would be made, for a more decayed, disreputable-looking, but altogether lovely, lot of mediæval houses it is not one’s good fortune to find elsewhere.

As a local Frenchman has sung:

“Dans nos vieilles maisons de bois,
Le beurre est d’or, le cidre est d’ambre;
Juin rit aux éclats; mais Novembre
Me semble aussi gai, quand je bois
Dans nos vieilles maisons de bois.”

To Lisieux one passes through Normandy’s most flowering farm-lands, but the thought of Falaise and its associations as the birthplace of the Conqueror will not allow one to linger by the way once he has got within fifty kilometres of it.

Old Wooden Houses, Lisieux

Old Wooden Houses, Lisieux

To-day Falaise has eight thousand inhabitants who live around its ancient historic château, one of the most important military constructions of mediæval times. The town sits upon a sort of isolated promontory in a most superbly imposing situation. Its history is so momentous and interwoven with that of the early days of the Normandy dukes and English kings that it were futile to attempt to review it here.

Plan Chateau of Falaise

The château is built of gray quartz, and its entire surrounding moat, with its twelve towers and two great gates each flanked by towers, is preserved to this day. The twelfth and thirteenth century remains are admirably preserved; and the donjon, which in this case was perhaps the residential portion as well, is situated high upon a great cliff overlooking the valley at its base. This great, grim square mass has been restored in recent years (1869), and worthily, for its aspect has not changed from what it was when the great Norman William first saw the light within its walls.

The Talbot Tower, a great cylindrical donjon, was an addition during the English occupation in 1415-18. One may stroll through the whole château under the leadership of a most capable guide, and the usual half-day given to Falaise will pass only too quickly.

The troubadours of the south have their celebrated heroines of whom they sing praises, but those of Normandy sing of Arlette of Falaise, the mother of the Conqueror.

Historians of olden times have given her the name of Arlette, Arliette, Herline, Hélaire, Aluiève, Arlet, and Arlot; but to the Latin chroniclers she was mostly known as Herlève. Thiérry has traced the name from its Scandinavian root as follows: Her—noble; lève—love. “A fine name,” says a Frenchman, “for a fine woman.”

Benoit de Saint More said: “She was wise, modest, and generous, to which virtues she added a rare devotion.”

Donjon of Falaise

Donjon of Falaise

All good Normans, and some others as well, know the legend of the peasant maid, the gentle Herlève, when she was surprised by Robert-le-Diable on his return from the chase at the fountain of the Château of Falaise.

Vauquelin de la Fresnaye recounts it thus:

“Des piès et des jambes parurent
Qui si très beaux et si blancs furent
Que ce fut bien au duc avis
Que neige est pale et flor de lys
Emerveille, li torna s’amor.”

The story moves rapidly enough, and ultimately a son, William the Conqueror, was born to Herlève and Robert the Magnificent.

After the death of Robert, Herlève married the Comte de Conteville, who took the name of Herlevin. Two sons were born to the pair, Odon, Bishop of Bayeux, and the Comte de Mortain, who fought gallantly at Hastings in the train of his stepbrother. There was a daughter, too, Muriel, who became Duchess of Albemarle.

Herlève and Herlevin were interred at the old Abbey of Grestain, whose ruins are yet to be seen near Honfleur.

It is a well-recognized fact in history that Edward VII. is a direct descendant, the twenty-ninth in the line, of William the Conqueror, the illustrious son of Herlève of Falaise; but it is not so widely known, apparently, that a number of the reigning sovereigns of Europe are equally of the blood of the duke-king, William of Normandy.

The Bourbons of France, Spain, Italy, and Brazil descended from Guillaume by the reine-l’impératrice Mathilde, daughter of Henri I., likewise the Bourbons-Orleans.

The Emperor Joseph of Austria, of the house of Hapsburg, and Victor Emmanuel of Savoy follow, the latter in the thirtieth degree.

Finally, the Kaiser Wilhelm II. is a descendant, also the twenty-ninth in line, of the Norman Herlève.

All these illustrious sovereigns are proud indeed of their Norman blood, and when President Loubet visited the court of the Quirinal recently, he presented to the little Princesses of Italy a family of dolls dressed after the Norman fashion, a delicate sentiment apparently much appreciated by their elders, besides being held a political move of the first importance.

When the Kaiser, a few years since, made his celebrated journey to the Holy Land, it was with the avowed intention of visiting the great religious monuments of Sicily, erected by the kings of the family of the Guiscards of the Norman Cotentin.

The learned work of Bellencontre of Falaise on the genealogy of the ruling European houses traces all of the following directly in descent from the peasant maid of Falaise:

“Angleterre, Anhalt-Dessau, Autriche, Bade, Bavière, Belgique, Bresil (Dom Pedro), Brunswik, Cobourg-Gotha, Danemark, Deux Siciles, Espagne, France (Bourbon et Orleans), Grece, Hanovre, Hesse, Leuchtenberg, Lucques, Mecklembourg-Schewerin, Modene, Naples, Parme, Pays Bas, Portugal, Prusse (Allemagne), Russie, Sardaigne, Savoie-Carignan (Italie), Saxe-Royle, Saxe-Altenbourg, Saxe-Weimar, Suède, Toscane, Wurtemberg.”

The Church of St. Gervais, an eleventh-century edifice which was begun by Henri I., Duke of Normandy, is a fine work of its era, though there have been many later additions, notably those after the style of Hector Sohier, one of the chief of Renaissance architects in these parts.

Street under the Church of the Trinity, Falaise

Street under the Church of the Trinity, Falaise

The Church of the Trinity dates from the thirteenth century, and is a very elaborate and graceful work, though showing many Renaissance interpolations which rankle the critics. At Falaise is held the great fair of Guibray, which has been held annually in August of each year since the ninth century. This great institution, so justly celebrated for its magnitude and importance, is one of the sights of Normandy, and is quite in a class by itself. Formerly it was a great mart for all sorts of wares, which ultimately were distributed through all the north of France; but to-day it takes prominence with the fair of Bernay as a great horse-market.

From Falaise, southwesterly to Domfront, the country-side is delightfully and picturesquely rolling, and deeply cut with river valleys, finally rising to the highest elevation in Normandy, where one crosses the forest tract of Andaine, just before Domfront is reached.

Normandy has a mineral spring of importance at Bagnoles de l’Orne, situated in a deep gorge near Domfront. It is not a fashionable spa, as great Continental watering-places go, but the baths accommodate a quarter of a thousand bathers, and there are the usual conventional amusements.

The following legend connects the waters with mediæval times, and shows that they must have some desirable properties for those who affect that sort of a cure.

An old seigneur of Bagnoles, of the name of Hugues, who regretted the rapidity with which he had lived the life of his youth, became transformed by bathing in these salt waters. He tried them on his horse as well, and it, too, regained its early agility. All of which seems as good an endorsement of the efficacy of a mineral spring as one could wish, and the popularity of Bagnoles de l’Orne has steadily increased.

François I. affected them, as well as his sister Marguerite of Navarre and Henri IV. Louis XIV. tried the waters on his soldiers, and, so satisfactory was the result that, up to 1840, the spring was used as a sort of auxiliary treatment at the military hospital at Paris. The old-time sixteenth-century bath-houses are still to be seen half-buried in the soil.

After all, the Bagnoles de l’Orne will not offer much inducement for the lover of architecture, or even of the highways and byways, to linger for long in their immediate neighbourhood. He will be impatient for the grand panorama of Domfront, but fifteen kilometres away, through the old forest of Passais, where the hermit St. Front established himself in the sixth century.

Those familiar with the church history of France will recall that this holy man finally came to the distinction of having the great cathedral of Périgueux dedicated to his honour. This magnificent structure marks the dividing line in the development of the Gothic architecture of France from the warmer-blooded styles which were born of Mediterranean surroundings.

St. Front built a chapel here in the forest, and gradually he and his disciples formed a village, the name of which, Domfront, was readily enough evolved from Dominus Frons.

At Domfront William of Bellême, seigneur of Alençon, built a fortress in 1011, and the place became one of the strongest defences of Normandy in the middle ages.

The Château of Domfront, situated a couple of hundred feet above the Varenne, served the Empress Mathilde as a retreat, and became the birthplace of the Queen of Castile. There are yet remaining two walls of its memorable donjon, reminiscent of the struggles of the Duke of Montgomery, but the ancient fortress-château itself was dismantled in 1598.

The panorama from the height of Domfront’s donjon tower is one of the most remarkable in France.

Of the twenty-four ancient towers with which the old town was surrounded, but fourteen remain, and they for the most part are built into various structures of the town. One alone has been restored and fitted with a new upper story,—the Tower of Gondras.

To the southward one sees Mount Margantin above the forest of Mortain. It is the most considerable eminence in Normandy, and rises to a height of 370 metres.

A Cotentine

A Cotentine



THE Cotentin peninsula is a great jutting finger of land which runs out into that part of the Atlantic which Frenchmen know as La Manche, and which Anglo-Saxons know as the English Channel.

It terminates in the Nez de Jobourg, a rocky formation which in its detached fragments makes up the Chausey Islands and the northernmost of the Channel Islands.

The chief places of note in the Cotentin are Cherbourg, Valognes, and the ancient cathedral towns of St. Lô, Coutances, and Avranches, which, with Vire, Mortain, Pontorson, and Granville, and on the north coast Isigny, Carentan, and Harfleur, form a practical list of its important towns and cities. It is a great grazing and pasture-ground, and the little cows of the Cotentin, like those of Alderney, Jersey, and Guernsey, are held in great repute.

The military port of Cherbourg, as it is known to-day, is a lively up-to-date gateway for visitors to France, resplendent with hotels and all modern conveniences. It was not so in a former day, when a travelled Englishman said: “Cherbourg is not a place for residence longer than necessary. I was obliged to go to a vile hole, little better than a hogsty, where, for a miserable, dirty, wretched chamber, two suppers composed chiefly of a plate of apples and some butter and cheese, with some trifle besides, too bad to eat, and one miserable dinner, they brought me a bill of nearly thirty shillings.”

Things have indeed changed, if there was no exaggeration in the statement. Even the most modern and up-to-date hotel of a great provincial town in France now seldom charges one more than twelve francs per day.

There is not much of sentimental or romantic interest to be gleaned from a contemplation of Cherbourg, which, in the minds of most new-world travellers, is merely a landing-place whence one takes the train for Paris.

As a matter of fact, Cherbourg is a great military port, which had its inception a couple of centuries ago, when the French had no port for war-vessels between Dunkerque and Brest, the former capable only of receiving frigates. The deficiency was fatal to the French on more than one occasion in their little wars with England, so admirably supplied with a base at Portsmouth, inside the Isle of Wight, directly opposite the peninsula of the Cotentin.

To remedy this defect, a môle was planned to be thrown across the open bay to Cherbourg, but this proved so great an undertaking that the plan was modified in favour of a system of artificial banks or bars. There were two entrances for ships, each commanded by a fortress which it is said was equipped a century ago with an apparatus for launching forth red-hot shot.

On one of these bars, ultimately covered by the sea, was placed the following inscription:

“Louis XVI.—Sur ce premier cone échoue le 6 Juin 1794, a vu
l’immersion de celui de l’est, le 23 Juin 1786.”

With the completion of the new harbour works, the hitherto dull city of Cherbourg took on a new lease of life. New streets and new houses were built; but, in spite of the present-day signs of progress and activity, there is little here to appeal to the imaginative person.

The undertaking was a prodigious one for the time, and the famous dike or breakwater was only recently completed, at a total cost of 62,500,000 francs. It took more than fifty years of constant labour, and four million cubic feet of stone, and encloses an area of a thousand hectares.

Cherbourg has one valuable architectural monument, the fourteenth-century Church of the Trinity. It was consecrated in 1504 and restored in our own day. The interior has really fine decorations.

The Henry Art Museum, named after its founder, contains a rather bulky and ill-assorted lot of paintings of no particular merit or fame, except a Van Eyck, a Poussin, an alleged Murillo, and a few minor works of the Dutch and Italian schools.

The suburbs of Cherbourg, toward the tip of the peninsula, form one of the most unspoiled and little travelled corners of modern France.

Near Cherbourg on the peninsula of the Hague, in the parish of Greville, is the hamlet of Gruchy, the birthplace of the painter Millet. The house bears an inscription on a tablet and is not difficult to find, if one can only thread his way through the tangle of by-roads which lie westward beyond Landemer, eleven kilometres from Cherbourg. It is an artistic shrine of real interest; and tourists, when at Cherbourg, are advised to explore this wonderful “land’s end” of Normandy, and pay homage to the birthplace of Jean François Millet.

Millet’s Home, Gruchy

Millet’s Home, Gruchy

Perhaps no modern picture is really so familiar to our eyes as “The Angelus” of Jean François Millet, the struggling peasant painter of Normandy. Those two figures, man and woman in the bare field, with the village church peeping over the horizon, are “hung on the line,” so to speak, in the mind of every one who has seen them.

Millet waged a long battle for art against poverty. At times he would exchange six drawings for a pair of shoes, or a picture for a bed. He faced starvation, and was not moved from his purpose of painting the truth as he saw it. Even his greatest pictures left him in poverty. He said: “They wish to force me into their drawing-room art to break my spirit. But, no, no; I was born a peasant, and a peasant I will die. I will say what I feel.”

Certainly when one is before his birthplace at Gruchy, it is not difficult to realize that at least there were no foppish or foolish influences at work in his youth, and that it was natural perhaps for him to carve out his future from the bald truth, as he saw it, in such pictures as “The Angelus” and “The Man with the Hoe.”

There is a neglected corner of France in the extreme northwest of the Cotentin peninsula, beyond Cherbourg even, and known locally as the Hague. Cape Hague, the Hague lighthouse, and the Nez de Jobourg form a trinity of attractions for the traveller jaded with the stock sights of conventional watering-places.

It is but a short thirty kilometres from Cherbourg, en route to nowhere, unless one is heading for America, and is known to Frenchmen as the most isolated spot of all the mainland of France. “One must not look there,” they say, “for the wonders of art or civilization, for vegetation, the life of the casino, or the tables d’hôte of the towns.”

Instead all is rock and sand and cliffs and zigzag paths cut in the steep escarpment, against which the sea batters tumultuously throughout the year.

The landlords have not spoilt this region with Restaurants de Paris or Hôtels d’Angleterre, and, accordingly, it is one of the few accessible and delightful spots where the lover of nature sees it as God made it. What accommodation there is in the neighbourhood does not rise above the dignity of modest tavern; but one will get such repasts of sea foods as would make the fortune of the proprietor of a Parisian restaurant could he but serve them as well and as cheaply.

Habitations of all sorts are rare, and roads and railways less prolific here, perhaps, than in any other part of France. No railways, post-offices, or telegraphs, save the line that runs to the signal-station at the Hague lighthouse. But it has its advantages as a place of resort, nevertheless.

The beautiful meadows of Urville and St. Martin are brilliant with their carpets of flowers in spring-time, as green and fresh as if they were in the south, and the hills between which tiny rivers flow into the Atlantic or the Manche are as shady with leaves as Vallombrosa. Suddenly all this changes as if by magic. The little river valleys become shelving red and brown rock and yellow sand; and the prairies end in a sheer fall of chalk-white cliff, tremendous to contemplate.

Cape Hague is the name of all of that tiny peninsula which forms the northwest extremity of the Cotentin; and its minor topographical formations, the cliffs of Gréville, the Creeks St. Martin, Jobourg, and Vauville, are only known to the native.

The great highway stops abruptly at a height of 180 metres above sea-level, just above the immense moors of Ste. Croix-Hague and Jobourg, with a view of the sea on three sides.

In clear weather one may see the English coast through the glass of the keeper at the lighthouse, and at one’s very feet, almost, are the jagged fangs of rocks which surround the Channel Isles, showing plainly how intimately they were once connected with the French mainland.

This highroad runs straight away from Cherbourg to the Nez de Jobourg, which is itself a high promontory of granite, carved curiously by the waves into grottoes, which are one of the principal curiosities of the region.

After one leaves the highroad, the only progress is on foot; even bicyclists had best leave their machines behind, and, as for automobilists, why, the chauffeur will doubtless not object to a repose in the tonneau, with nothing but the lap of the waves and the cries of sea-birds to disturb him.

The little zigzag paths and tracks will require all the attention and energies of the most sure-footed as he explores the region. But so much the better; for the picturesqueness and desolation of it all will amply repay one for his pains.

Between Cherbourg and the extremity of the cape is Querqueville. The road undulates, with occasional views of the great harbour and shipping of Cherbourg until one passes the fortifications on the moor of Ste. Anne.

Here in the open country one may see a tiny church, one of the oldest places of worship yet standing intact in all France. The choir is in the form of a tréfle, and is a rare archæological curiosity.

To the right, half-hidden in a deliciously shaded vale, is the Château of Nacqueville. Its amiable guardian will permit you to examine it if you happen to be a member of the Touring Club of France.

The little village of Urville is hardly more than a score of coquettish-looking little houses, charmingly disposed along the shady roadway. Here on a great sandy beach the English disembarked in 1758, when they besieged Cherbourg and invaded the Cotentin. Certainly they chose a most suitable spot; but all is peaceful now, and the only invader one is likely to see is an American or an English artist, who has set up his easel far away from the madding throng.

A little farther on, beyond the village of Laudemer, is a little hotel, all white and high up above the rocky escarpment which pares off toward the sea. It is the Hôtel Millet, founded by the brother of the painter of “The Angelus.” Truly we are now in an artists’ paradise, and, if not wholly an undiscovered land, it is a region not yet overrun with the conventional tourists. True, Barbizon is better known than Hague, but it is no more entrancing. In mid-August you will hardly find a dozen guests at the table d’hôte of Hôtel Millet.

Far away extends Cape Levi, and the Gatteville lighthouse is just discernible.

The isolated villa of Valtelles is camped securely upon a rock dominating the sea below, and a little thread of a foot-path marks the daily tramp of the coast-guard and the custom-house officer.

At the opposite corner of the Cotentin peninsula is the little maritime port of Barfleur, of 1,200 inhabitants. It would perhaps hardly be remembered to-day were it not for the celebrated naval battle of Barfleur. The town is quite worth the visiting for its own quaintness and charming situation, but is usually passed by.

The Gatteville lighthouse is one of those wonderful monumental lighthouses which the French are so fond of erecting. This really great work lies just to the northward of Barfleur, and is a vast granite pile some ninety feet in circumference at its base, half that at its summit, and has a height of two hundred odd feet above its already imposing foundation.

The rays of its great electric lamp shine out over the waters of the Channel for ninety kilometres, over fifty-five miles.

From the top of this great tower the view is of great extent, embracing the whole peninsula of the Hague; and, at night, one may clearly see the great light at St. Catherine’s on the Isle of Wight.

At Brix, a small town of two thousand inhabitants, between Cherbourg and Valognes, is a fine church built from the remains of an old fortress. This will, or should, recall the fact that Brix was the native town of the illustrious family of Bruce which gave to Scotland Robert the Bruce.

Valognes, the ancient Alaounia of the Romans, and a strong fortress in the middle ages, is a small town, though it is the principal one of its district. It possesses a library of twenty thousand volumes and a handsome church of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which is said to have the only Gothic dome in France.

There are a number of magnificent old houses which have come down from the time when Valognes was a viscounty.

A great cattle market is held here every Monday, and the great establishment which packs and exports the butter, eggs, and cheese of the neighbourhood is a sight worth seeing.

The remains of the old fortress-château of the middle ages, now moss-grown, still exist in the suburbs of Alleume.

Carentan is an unassuming little town in the midst of the butter farms of the Cotentin. With Isigny it leads the butter market of France so far as its first blends are concerned. Due to the prosperity arising from its milk products is a fine, rebuilt fifteenth-century church, and there are many memories of the ancient importance of the town. Edward III. of England burned it in 1346, some days before the eventful battle of Crecy, and in 1679 a conflagration destroyed over five hundred houses. Besides being the greatest centre for the trade in butter in all Normandy, it is also the centre of the region which raises the half-breed trotting-horse.

Carentan is connected with the sea by a canal eight kilometres in length, and there is considerable small coasting trade with neighbouring ports.

Isigny, like Carentan, is noted for its cream and butter. Isigny butter is the name given to the product of all that region of Normandy lying between Bayeux, Barfleur, and Coutances.

The grain elevators and the cattle market are truly the sights of the town on market-days, and all else pales before the importance of this trade.

Grandcamp, beneath which are the celebrated Rocks of Grandcamp, is a summer resort and a tiny fishing port.

It has a real artists’ resort in its Hôtel de la Croix Blanche, whose dining-room is a veritable picture-gallery, with landscapes and seascapes by Boutigny, Gagliardini, Mathon, Bonne Maison, and others.

In reality there is no port here at Grandcamp, only a sloping beach upon which boats are drawn as they fetch and carry from the vessels which anchor at some distance from the shore, beyond the bank of wild fairylike rocks at the base of the little cliffs.

St. Lô is of ancient Gallic origin, and was once called Briovera, which in the Celtic tongue signified Bridge-over-the-Vire, as the little stream which passes by the foundations of the town is called. St. Laud or St. Lô, Bishop of Coutances, came here to preach evangelization. Soon after his death personal relics of the saint were brought here, and finally the ancient town took his name.

The religious history of the town is most profound, and as a place celebrated in warfare St. Lô ranks among the most important in Lower Normandy. The Catholics captured the town in 1574, after the Calvinists had been its masters for a dozen years, and massacred three thousand of its inhabitants.

During the Revolution St. Lô was called the “Rock of Liberty.”

The very beautiful Church of Notre Dame, the ci-devant cathedral, is admirably placed on the edge of the table-land overlooking the valley of the Vire. Before it became a cathedral it was an ancient collegiate church, but this fine Gothic edifice as seen to-day dates only from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries.

Its towers quite rival, and are reminiscent of, those of either Chartres, Séez, or Senlis, and are far more beautiful and imposing than those of any church of its rank in all Normandy.

There is also a fifteenth-century open-air pulpit, almost a unique attribute of a great French church, which is artistically charming. From it were, and still are, read publicly the acts of episcopal jurisdiction.

In the Rue Poids-de-Ville, at No. 4, is the fifteenth-century Maison Dieu, a fine stone structure richly ornamented with stone sculptures.

On the square before the cathedral one notes a charming statue of a water-carrier, depicting the local custom which has not yet died out here. To-day even one may see these sturdy Cotentin maidens carrying their picturesque water-jugs in exactly the same pose as depicted in the statue itself.

From St. Lô to Coutances is thirty kilometres by road. The city is an ancient bishopric, and its great cathedral is one of the most imposing and celebrated of those of the second rank in all France.

Anciently known as Cosedia, the city became in time known as Constantia, after, it is believed, Constance Chlore, who fortified it and made of it a stronghold long before the end of the Roman occupation of Gaul.

The city was taken and retaken in the course of the wars which continued during the lives of the sons of Norman William, in the Hundred Years’ War, and in the other religious wars.

During the massacres of St. Bartholomew it was saved through the moderation of its governor, the Count of Matignon.

The cathedral sits upon the crest of a hill three hundred feet above the surrounding plain, and is, in every respect, an exceedingly beautiful structure, with its two great towers rising to a height of nearly 250 feet. There is also a great octagonal tower at the crossing, from which may be had a magnificent view of the surrounding country, south to Avranches and Granville and, perhaps, on a clear day to Mont St. Michel, and westward to the isles of Jersey and Guernsey.

Coutances has another remarkable old church in St. Pierre, fitted with pews, seldom seen in Normandy or indeed in France. It is a rebuilt fifteenth-century structure showing many Renaissance interpolations; but, on the whole, it is imposing and pleasing.

St. Nicholas is another ecclesiastical shrine with a tall square tower reminiscent of an English parish church. Its chief distinction lies perhaps in the great monocylindrical columns which divide the arcades of the nave.

The public garden of Coutances is an exceedingly ample and beautifully disposed park for a town of but seven thousand inhabitants.

The aqueduct of Coutances, to the west of the town, was one of the most remarkable works of its time. The Romans built more magnificent ones, and many have been constructed in later days; but the pointed and buttressed arches of the thirteenth-century Coutances aqueduct, now almost entirely disappeared, must remain always one of the chief works of its kind.

On the coast, midway between Coutances and Avranches, is Granville. It once had the reputation of being a vile, ugly, ill-built hole, whose only gaiety was due to the triflers on market-day. To-day the description does not fit, though it is gay enough in all conscience, and at all seasons, with its steamer traffic, its fishing, and summer visitors, for four months of the year. Before one is the Bay of Cancale, noted for its oysters; and in the far distance is St. Michel’s rock, with its satellite of Tombelaine. Down at the head of the bay is the gateway into Brittany, through the episcopal town of Dol, itself a queer, sleepy old place, with a street of decrepit houses, over which artists rave, and a grim weather-beaten cathedral, which looks like the bastion of a fortress.

Just off the shore from Granville is a group of nearly three hundred fanglike rocks which protrude toward the sky at low water, and are known as the Chausey Isles.

They seem a worthless pile of rocks at first glance, but when one recalls that Paris draws its supply of flagstones for its sidewalks from these granite protuberances their mission is seen to be an economic one.

To the west of the Chausey Isles are the very rocks described by Victor Hugo in his “Toilers of the Sea.” Still further from the mainland are the Minquiers and the Grelets, which at high water are, for the most part, hardly more than pin-heads above the level of the sea.

On the principal isle of the Minquiers, scarce a dozen feet above sea-level, is a little hamlet of a few huts and cabins of refuge built by the fishermen of Jersey and Guernsey.

Granville is indeed a city of sturdy sailors and men of affairs. It is situated at the very tip of an abrupt promontory, picturesque in the extreme, known as the Rock of Granville. The upper town and the lower town each adds its own variety of life; and there is no city in Normandy where one may observe more contrasting features than here on this rock-cut town overlooking the blue waters of the Manche.

The place is a summer resort of the very first rank, and its hotels are all that the most fastidious could require, in spite of which there still hangs about it all an atmosphere that has not yet become vitiated by the conventions of society. The tides of the ocean here rise and fall to greater heights and depths than on any other part of the European coast, and the sea is the great and abounding attraction of the city, which has twelve thousand inhabitants.

As early as the twelfth century a chapel was built upon the projecting rock; and from it and its influences grew up the present city. For many years the city was held by the English, but was retaken by the Normans in 1441, at whose head was Louis d’Estouteville, governor of Mont St. Michel. In 1695 it was bombarded by the English, and Louis XIV. ordered the fortification to be demolished.

In 1793 Granville opposed, with a courageous resistance, the Vendean army of twenty thousand men, commanded by La Rochejacquelin, who was forced to raise the siege.

Again, in 1803, the English bombarded the town, but with little effect.

Granville was the port of departure for a great number of privateers, who did considerable damage during the struggles between the French and English.

The Church of Notre Dame is Granville’s most interesting monument. It is built upon the point which culminates in the celebrated Granville Rock, and preserves many details of its ancient Roman construction. In its ensemble, however, it is highly florid Gothic, its later additions coming well down into the seventeenth century. In the interior is the Chapel of St. Nicholas, containing numerous donations of fishermen and sailors,—gilded anchors, models of full-rigged ships, and similar gifts.

The Rock of Granville

The Rock of Granville

There is an unobtrusive casino and the usual watering-place appurtenances, but all is subservient to the life of the port and the town.

The port itself is a wonder of what one might call marine architecture, were the term not applied to ships themselves. It has two great basins and a superb môle considerably over a quarter of a mile in length.

For the most part, the activity of the port is due to the local fishing-boats, the coasters or caboteurs, and the deep-sea fishing-craft which sail to far-away Newfoundland and St. Pierre de Miquelon.

There is some ship-building and considerable industry in fish-curing and the production of cod-liver oil.

Avranches was once an old cathedral town, but the Revolution made away with its cathedral, along with many another ecclesiastical monument of France; but since the ancient bishopric of Avranches was in existence from 511 to 1790, it may be inferred that its importance was considerable.

To-day it is a most interesting tourist point, though manifestly its position is not as proud as it once was.

A single shaft surrounded by a few poor, broken fragments is all that now remains of the edifice before which Henry II. of England did penance for the murder of Becket.

The ancient episcopal palace is now the court-house, a modern reconstruction built upon remains which date from the fifteenth century.

The public library contains fifteen thousand volumes and some valuable historical manuscripts of as early a period as the twelfth century.

The Jardin des Plantes is the ancient garden of a former Capucin priory (1618), now actually occupied by a community of Ursulines. The remains of a fortified gateway and an ancient tower and some moss-grown fragments of an ancient donjon are still left to suggest the aspect of other days from a military and strategic point.

The view from the height of the upper town, the plateau on which once stood the former cathedral, and indeed where all of the modern town is situated, is one of great and wonderful beauty, particularly out toward the bay of Mont St. Michel, through the estuary of the river See. Indeed it is the altogether remarkable situation of the modern city on the summit of a great promontory plateau that constitutes its chief charm.

One may eat of the best of sea and shore, including the famous oysters of Cancale, at any of Avranches’s inns, so there is every excuse for not omitting it from one’s itinerary.

From the height of Avranches is the first clear view of the famous Mont St. Michel, so well known that one almost forbears attempting to write of its somewhat terrible historical memories. It is indeed wonderful, but is difficult to enjoy properly, owing to the number of people sent around with one guide, and the touts who throng the single street, and who do not leave you a moment’s peace.

Impossible as it is mentally to plunge back into the past, as ought to be done when at such a place, there is always a remembrance to take away, and the gaps can be filled up afterward.

One can imagine how grand the place must look at neap tides, when the sea rushes in faster than a horse can gallop, or in winter in a storm, for it has been justly called “St. Michel au Peril de la Mer.

Tombelaine, the island from which the English made their gallant attack on St. Michel, offers a curious instance of the delusiveness of space. It looks to be within a stone’s throw of Avranches and the mount itself, but it really is quite an hour’s hard walking, if one has the temerity to brave the always possible danger of the quicksands which surround it.


The bay of Mont St. Michel of a moonlight night, when seen from the causeway leading to Pontorson, or, better yet, from a boat on the bosom of the bay itself, is indeed enough to have inspired the verses of Jean Richepin, entitled:

“La lune au ras des flots étincelants
Casse en morceaux ses jolis ecus blancs.
Bon sang! que de pécune!
Si ton argent, falle, t’embarrassait,
Pourquoi ne pas le mettre en mon gousset,
Ohé, la Lune?”

It is a fine road that runs from Avranches via Pontaubault to Pontorson, whence one makes his way along the causeway to the mount itself.

It seems futile to attempt to describe one’s emotions at first sight of that stupendous and wonderful fortress-abbey of Mont St. Michel. To know this wonderful place is to love it; but no one can become intimately acquainted with it in a few hours, or even in a few days.

Mont St. Michel in 1657

Mont St. Michel in 1657

A rampart of walls and towers surrounds the little cluster of houses at the base of the mount; and before its ancient barbican the steam-cars, omnibuses, and automobiles set down their hordes of visitors of all nationalities, to say nothing of the countless hundreds who come on foot and on bicycles over the causeway from Pontorson. The year’s visitors are supposed to approximate fifty thousand.

These ancient walls enclose a population of 250 souls. Where they all live, and what they all do when tourists are few and far between, is a question. Viewed from a distance of a mile, the great rock with its crowning abbey does not look as if it had any other attribute save that of a vast mediæval religious establishment. As one draws nearer, he sees the few score of houses huddled about the abbey’s haunches; but even then he doubts as to whether a quarter of a thousand people can stow themselves comfortably away, and wonders where they find room for the visitors.

The Porte du Roi, the Claudine and the Châtelet towers, and the fortified bridge all prove the fact that the abbey was also a great fortress. These, however, together with the Michelette and the home of Duguesclin, are but minor attractions. The real and overpowering feature of it all is the great abbey itself, which rises tier upon tier, its statue-crowned pinnacle seeming literally to pierce the sky.

Porte du Roi, Mont St. Michel

Porte du Roi, Mont St. Michel

In entering, one crosses the guard-hall, and goes up fifty steps to the court of the church, that tiny plateau from which one gets so wide a view of sea and shore and sky that he wonders if it is not the most ample and interesting in all the known world. Pontorson, Avranches, Granville, Dol, and St. Malo, on the mainland, are all spread out in the vast panorama. Near by is Tombelaine, a little brother to the mount itself, while on the dim horizon are the Chausey Isles, the Minquiers, and, if the day be clear, perhaps Jersey.

Within the sanctuary one remarks all eras of mediæval architecture, from the Roman nave to the flamboyant Gothic choir.

A narrow staircase to the right leads to a little terrace cut from the rock itself, which supports the Crypt of the Gros-Piliers. On this same little terrace the great supporting buttresses of the upper works find their foundations, and one may climb a story, if he choose, on the charming Escalier de Dentelle.

To enter the Merveille one descends again, and passes through the cloister, one of the most originally and gracefully disposed of any of its kind extant, surrounded by 120 svelt little columns forming the arcade. The refectory is a wonderfully brilliant apartment, and the Hall of the Chevaliers beneath, supported by three ranges of columns, will awake the memories of other days in the minds of all who know the romanticism of historical details in the least degree. It was here, in this wonderfully old abbey, that the order of St. Michel was first instituted.

To one side is the visitors’ room, a remarkably graceful, though much smaller chamber than any of the foregoing.

The next lower floor is occupied by the cellar and the armory, all in the most sober architectural display.

Crossing the walk and the crypts, one comes to the “Roue monte-charges,” a great machine turned by the hands of prisoners of other days, by which materials and supplies were brought to this vast height from the sea-level below.

In the thick granite of the walls of the old fortress-church were many dungeons and caves, where were hidden away criminal and political prisoners of all ranks. Here Barbés, Blanqui, and Raspail were imprisoned.

In returning across the Hall of the Chevaliers it is necessary to descend some steps graven in the rock itself; following respectfully behind the guardian, who jingles his great bunch of keys, as if to hurry along the unwilling ones, which is practically what it amounts to, for he is a much overworked individual, this guardian. If you wish, you may make another round, for he will not leave you behind, and he journeys through these silent, untenanted halls and chambers many times a day, with the precision and routine of a soldier on sentry duty, or a corporal inspecting the guard.

If one spends the night on the mount, he may see the most splendid sunrise he has ever witnessed. One need not rise, for his chamber, if it is on the water side, faces the east. It is incomparable to anything to be seen elsewhere. It is as if one were in mid-ocean. The Normandy coast, not so very far distant, is silhouetted against the sky as the refulgent sun breaks through the clouds and mists of early morning. Suddenly the sea reflects it with mirror-like brilliancy,—another day is born.

West of Avranches is Mortain, situated in the midst of the most picturesque country-side of the Cotentin. It sits high on the flank of what, in Normandy, may well be called a mountain, and below it runs the tiny river Cance.

The chief artistic monument of Mortain is the Church of St. Evroult, erected during the early part of the thirteenth century, with a Roman portal thought to belong to an ancient collegiate church of three centuries before. There is a series of fifty-eight elaborately sculptured stalls of the fifteenth century, and, altogether, it is quite as worthy of enthusiastic admiration as many a more famous one elsewhere.

To the northward, a half-hour’s brisk walk, is the ancient Abbaye Blanche, or a reconstruction of it, founded in 1105 for the Benedictines, and some years later affiliated with the order of Citeaux.

The Cance below Mortain is one of those rocky river-beds that awaken one’s admiration and surprise. It does not resemble in any way the Grand Cañon of the Colorado or the Gorges of the Tarn, but it is an unspoiled bit of nature, quite as God made it.

A Norman poet—Pontgibault—has eulogized it thus:

“Combien j’eusse aimé mieux m’en aller avec vous
Parcourir ces vallons dont un Suisse est jaloux,
Jouir (comme on jouet lorsqu’on est en vacance)
Des méandres charmants que dessine la Cance;
Voir ce ‘Pas,’ où, dit-on, les Diables s’égara,
La ‘Cascade’ aux flots bleus, petit niagara,
La ‘Grotte aux Sarrasins,’ dont la fraicheur sinette
Le dispute à ses eaux Fontaine Perrinette!”

Vire is another town of the Cotentin which, like most of its brothers or sisters, sits high upon an escarpment of surrounding hills. It occupies a veritable amphitheatre, and it is most curiously, if not beautifully, planned. It was an ancient feudal settlement which grew in time to some importance as far as its military history is concerned.

It is the birthplace of Olivier Basselin, the “satirique” of the “Vaux de Vire” and the inventor (in the fifteenth century) of that form of dramatic representation which we of a later day have come to know as “vaudeville.” The evolution of the term is thus made simple enough, though what such representations themselves have actually become in these days is perhaps not so easy to define.

The great Clock Tower and its ogival gate of the thirteenth century is Vire’s chief architectural curiosity.

Its greatest and most artistic architectural attribute is the Church of Notre Dame, which dates from the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. Its interior appointments are marvellously elaborate, including a fine sculptured pulpit in wood dating from 1643.

The town hall, a seventeenth and eighteenth century edifice, encloses a library of forty-four thousand books and 240 manuscripts, including a rich collection of works relating to the country. There is also a very considerable collection of paintings.

Clock Tower, Vire

Clock Tower, Vire



IT is difficult to apportion to any part of the Norman country-side characteristics which are common to the whole province.

Indeed, save for the fact that wine is not grown in Normandy, the whole region is given over to the growing of much the same crops, which seem to thrive in so many parts elsewhere. There is also the crop of cider-apples, of pears, and of many other fruits, including a delicious white strawberry, and the raising of sheep, cattle, and even horses,—all seem to flourish here in this great province.

Perhaps it is that Norman thrift and hard labour account for much of the prosperity attendant upon its bountiful crops; for certainly the Norman farmer, be he peasant or proprietor, has the faculty of getting abundant crops from comparatively restricted plots of land.

The Norman country-side may be properly said to lie to the westward of the Seine, beginning with the district of Neubourg and extending to the Breton border through the base of the Cotentin peninsula. This is the true Normandy,—Lower Normandy,—and it had for its capital in the old days the much bechurched city of Caen, as distinct from Rouen in Upper Normandy, the capital of the entire province. Rouen had early absorbed French manners and customs; and its inhabitants spoke the French tongue long before the speech and religion of the Northmen had died out of the mouths and breasts of their descendants in the lower province.

This is a fact advanced by historians, and may mean much or little. It is supported, however, by the statement that William Longsword, the first Rollon’s son, sent his son to Bayeux to learn Danish; for which reason it is argued that the lower province withstood the march of transition the longest.

Everything in Normandy has an attitude of palpable prosperity. There are occasional tumble-down outhouses, to be sure, and now and then a deserted hamlet, but this is no sign of a prevalent poverty or an increasing indolence, and Normandy, without doubt, is one of the most industrious and wealthy sections of all France.

The figures of population in France are ever full of surprises when regarded in comparison with those of another day. Many a French department has remained stationary as to its population for a hundred years, while occasionally one has decreased, as, for instance, the Department of the Eure, lying just west of the Seine, which has lost within the past decade something over five thousand of its children.

The population of France, as a whole, increases of course, but it is mostly the urban centres that show an increase. The country-side remains at its dead level, and that, perhaps, is why it is prosperous.

The men and women of Normandy are of rather larger stature than most of the population of France; they live and dress in a more comfortable, if not a more luxurious, manner, and they generally exhibit an air of thrift and prosperity which in the neighbouring province of Brittany is notably lacking.

As astute an observer as Professor Freeman—and he was an Oxford conservative of the most conservative type—had nothing but praise for Norman fare as compared with that of Paris. He said picturesquely and forcibly: “Any one with an old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon stomach—a man who would have liked to have dined off roast meat with Charles the Great, or breakfasted off beefsteaks with Queen Elizabeth—will find the Norman diet coming far nearer to his ideal than the politer repasts of Paris.”

In the matter of eating, Rouen, except in the little market-farmers’ tables d’hôte, has become corrupted and Parisian; but at Evreux, Louviers, Conches, and at Avranches and Bayeux, one eats only the native fare, and is not glutted with beefsteak, mutton-chops, and ham and eggs, and, worst of all, ham omelets, which every hotel in a large city in France seems to think is a specially palatable dish to English-speaking folk.

In the very heart of a wide-open bit of country lies Evreux, a pretty little commercial town. As a manufacturing centre it produces the hosiery, woollen stuffs, and the other products of the province. As auxiliaries to the great factories are innumerable public-houses and wine-shops of such diminutive proportions that one wonders that they can carry enough stock in trade to satisfy a reasonably thirsty baker’s dozen of workmen. They drink large quantities of cider, the innocuous wine of the country, and relatively smaller quantities of the more dangerous “applejack,” which the French call calvados.

It is difficult to place Evreux in the category of those places tourists in general love to visit.

Take away its bizarre Renaissance cathedral, and most travellers would know it not. But it is the typical chief city of a prosperous department, nevertheless, and is the centre from which radiates much local influence. The préfecture is here, and here is the headquarters of the Inspector of the Mines, both of whom one interviews if he lives in the Department of the Eure, and desires to possess an automobile or steam-engine to pump water for his garden.

There is nothing very formidable about these interviews with French officials. They are all most civil and obliging, but very formal. If you have any communication to make, you must first put it in writing on “stamped paper,” which you buy for sixty centimes at a tobacco shop, and forward it by post.

In due time a reply comes back to you, delivered by the hand of the sous-commissaire of the commune in which you live, making an appointment for an interview, or giving the desired information. It seems a roundabout way of doing it, but it serves to keep the under officials of the préfecture of a canton or a commune up to their work, thereby always having in the routine of office any number of well-trained subordinates, who recognize the will and power of a higher administration.

It is the military discipline over again, and it works very well indeed, in spite of the fact that it is not time or labour saving, two conditions of life which have not yet made much headway in France.

The cathedral at Evreux is an interesting mélange of good, bad, and indifferent Gothic and Renaissance architecture, and forms, as before said, its chief sight. It by no means takes rank among the secondary cathedrals of France as an artistic expression, but there is an inordinate amount of most excellent Renaissance woodwork to be seen in the chapel railings of its interior, which give it a much higher rank than it would otherwise take.

There is a frightful portrait of Charles the Wicked in the choir of the cathedral, which would be interesting if it were in an art museum or a picture-gallery; but it is so hideous that it is quite out of place in a religious edifice.

More interesting for the antiquarian is the Church of St. Taurin, all that remains of the old abbey of the same name built in 1026 by Richard II.

The bishop’s palace, to the rearward of the cathedral, has quite a feudal aspect, and, while not architecturally beautiful, has magnificently disposed surroundings.

There are the usual civic monuments that one sees in an important French town, the most beautiful, modern though it is, being a fine fountain ornamented with statues symbolical of the Eure and its tributaries, the Iton and the Rouloir. In the local art museum are shown an admirably arranged exhibit of medals, and some specimens of ancient pottery made here. The pictures are quite of the ordinary variety.

The civic belfry at Evreux is the chief curiosity of the town after the cathedral. It is one of those quaint minaret-like towers one sees in the lower country; nothing but a lone pile pierced with a portal on its ground floor, and ascended by a spiral stairway until one reaches an octagonal outside gallery, above which there is a pinnacle in which hangs the great bell.

The alarum-bells of a former day had some useful purpose to serve; but to-day, unless the belfry of Evreux should be used as a curfew, its utility has long since passed.

Just beyond Evreux, following the banks of the Iton, is Conches, a typical Norman country-side town, with a historic past. It has a beautiful church, a charming situation on the top of a hill, and a typical and astonishingly good country inn, but little else.

Conches had its origin in the foundation of an abbey here by the seigneur of the region, named Roger, in 1035. In 1355 King John gave the county of Conches to his son-in-law, Charles, Count of Evreux and King of Navarre, from whom it was taken some time afterward by force. The troops of the Duke of Lancaster and Philippe of Navarre delivered to the flames the old château and abbey; and to-day all that remains of the former is the great round donjon in the gardens of the town hall.

This old donjon turret is the most interesting memorial in Conches to-day, and is quite as representative of the manner of building these great circular defences as any extant. It is surrounded by a deep fosse, now herbage-grown and half-filled, and its walls are crumbled and covered with lichen and moss.

The Church of Ste. Foy is a charmingly spired fifteenth-century edifice, not so ancient nor so rich in treasure as are many churches in an important town such as Conches; but, in spite of all this, it is as lovable as any and more picturesquely disposed than most.

In the Church of Ste. Foy, Conches

In the Church of Ste. Foy, Conches

The ruins of Vieux-Conches, two kilometres distant, point out in a more or less halting manner the story of a past that is well-nigh lost in oblivion. There is here and there a pile of débris, some remains of old walls, indicating an old-time faubourg now overgrown and wiped out by its more ambitious parent.

A word as to the excellent hotel, the Croix Blanche. It sits unobtrusively enough to one side, just beyond the Church of Ste. Foy, on the opposite side of the street, its courtyard literally filled to overflowing with those great two-wheeled, high-hooded carts so characteristic of Normandy. The stable, too, is full to its limit, as well as the country people’s smoking-room, where, on an oilcloth-covered table, is served a bountiful bill of fare, with unlimited cider, for the modest sum of a franc a head.

The dining-room proper, which you enter through the kitchen, where the patron himself presides as chef, is not an ample apartment, but it seats perhaps two score of people, and here, of all places en route across Normandy, you will get as typical a country meal, with asparagus and strawberries and such generally liked eatables, as will make you marvel how it is all done at the price; for some of these stalwart Normans, to say nothing of the omni-present travelling salesman, have astounding appetites. All this costs but a modest fifty sous. They make it up perhaps on the coffee, for they charge you fifty centimes for it, though they do give you a small glass of calvados with it, which after all leaves no ground for complaint.

West of Conches is a grand forest tract, the road through which runs up-hill and down dale for fourteen kilometres. It is not a level road by any means, but it is a beautiful one. As one leaves this fine forest region and strikes the highroad again on the way to Laigle, he passes numerous little agricultural towns, set about here and there in a delightful rolling country, whose great charm is invariably their picturesque disposition.

Rugles is one of these, and it has a grand old church, or, rather, two of them, which dominate the road for a half-dozen kilometres at either entrance to the town. Curiously enough, Rugles, a little country-side place of less than two thousand inhabitants, in the midst of a frankly agricultural region, shares with Laigle, twelve kilometres distant, and a metropolitan town compared to Rugles, the honour of being the chief centre for the manufacture of pins in all France.



Laigle is a quaintly picturesque town. Its Church of St. Martin is a magnificent monument of the fifteenth century, frankly Renaissance with respect to most of its details, but with a most engaging great bare tower which dates from at least the twelfth century.

The old brick château which faces St. Martin is now given over to mundane commercial affairs; but it is a fine example of the work of the younger Mansard, and a contemplation of its exterior details will place his work on a much higher plane than does his rather outré invention, the Mansard roof.

The tiny river Risle—tiny in its breadth, though not in its length—cuts Laigle in twain on its way to the sea.

Between Laigle and Mortagne is Tourouvre, with a fine church in St. Gilles, with its wooden vault covered with paintings, its fifteenth-century choir-stalls, and many other accessories which any church should be proud to possess.

This church of Tourouvre contains many reminders of the connection of Normandy with New France in North America. One of the great coloured windows represents Julien Mercier and eighty families of the neighbourhood, who left here for the new world in 1650. Another window shows Honoré Mercier, the first minister of Canada, praying within this same church.

From those who went from Tourouvre and its environs to Canada in the seventeenth century, a notable portion of the French-Canadians have descended.

This emigration took place in the most opulent epoch of the reign of Louis XIV., when Colbert was minister. As the French authority Verrerie has said:

Ces familles percheronnes, arrivées en nombre quand la colonie sortait à peine de l’enfance, ont fortement influé sur les mœurs, habitudes, aptitudes, sur le langage et l’accent de cette nation.

It was during the administration of Colbert, the minister of Louis XIV., that the France of overseas first came to its full bloom. Jacques Cartier had already journeyed to the new world; and the foundation of Quebec by Champlain and his people in 1608 gave the first real strength to colonial ambitions.

Canada became a prosperous colony indeed, flanking both banks of the St. Lawrence and the northern shores of the Great Lakes, thanks to the discoveries of the intrepid voyager, the Cavalier de la Salle (1682), whose tomb in Rouen’s cathedral has become one of those shrines much favoured by visiting Americans.

The great tract afterward taken into the United States first received the name of Louisiana, after the kingly patron of the discoverer, while Newfoundland and all of New France furnished an impetus to French exploration and development across the seas, which in later years was not sustained.

Back of all this, a century before, appears the name of John Cabot, the discoverer of Newfoundland and Canada.

The question has often been discussed in Italy as to whether or no John Cabot was a Venetian, or, rather, a Venetian citizen. They evidently believe he was, for certain records claim the existence of one Ioani Caboto as a resident of that city.

The French, and the Normans more particularly, give this no credit. They claim that Jean Cabot, which certainly sounds as French as John Cabot does English, or Ioani Caboto does Italian, was of Normandy. “He may have been Venetian by adoption,” says your patriotic Frenchman, “and it was in the service of Henry VII. of England that John Cabot, then settled in Bristol, left upon that voyage of discovery in 1492, accompanied by his three sons, which resulted in the skirting of the American continent from Labrador to Florida; but Jean Cabot, nevertheless, was a Frenchman.”

The claim is not very fully substantiated, to be sure, but as the English claim him as an Englishman, and the Italians as an Italian, and inasmuch as he could not be both, perhaps he was a Frenchman. The French have evolved the word cabotage in marine nomenclature, which means navigation along the coast, showing at least the regard they have for the memory of Jean Cabot.

Before one reaches Mortagne there is the Abbey of La Trappe to be visited, an experience which will live long in the memory of the traveller.

You may get nourishment and shelter for a surprisingly small sum, and you will be served and waited upon by brown-robed monks, with all the mystery which surrounds the accounts of such hospitality which have come down to us from other days. But ladies must not be of the party. At least they may not enter the inviolate precincts of the monastery itself. They may go only as far as the lodge at the gate, where one may buy picture post-cards and little boxes of chocolate from a garrulous old frère, who looks and acts as if he hugely enjoyed female society. He appears to be the only one of the community who mixes with the outside world, and is gracious, kindly, and good-natured, and will even arrange to have a simple meal cooked within the hallowed walls and sent out to the hungry ladies of the party. The men may enter and eat in the refectory.

The fare is simple—exceedingly simple—a bit of preserved fish, an omelet perhaps, some boiled rice, and black bread with wine or cider. The price is also simple. You may give what you choose, or, if you can induce the happy, toothless old monk, who is the go-between of the world within and without, to set a price, he will probably tell you two francs for all, regardless of the size of the company.

This is truly an idyllic way of conducting an inn for the clients, but it is hardly good business. The old monk fares much better when he leaves the price to the visitor.

The monastery buildings are fine, but not strikingly beautiful from the outside, though set amid beautifully cultivated fields. The domain is over three hundred hectares, and is well stocked with cows, sheep, and swine. There is also a large apiary, the conduct of which seems to be particularly suited to a monastic life.

The brown-robed brother who mixes with the world seems to think so, too, and takes a pardonable pride in showing his beehives and beautiful cows to any one who will give him the opportunity.

The present establishment occupies the site of an abbey founded in 1140, the ancient oratory of which now serves as a bake-house. Later the abbey became associated with the order of Citeaux, and finally the Trappists installed themselves here in 1815, and commenced the construction of the present buildings.

All the principal structures within the walls are strictly modern. The chapel dates from 1890, the Capitulary Hall from 1891, and the cloister from 1892.

The Apiary of La Trappe

The Apiary of La Trappe

Within the walls of the little garden is a fine statue of the Virgin in white marble, given in 1847 by Madame Adelaide, the sister of Louis-Philippe.

The library contains twenty thousand volumes, including a very beautiful missal in a folio format on parchment, written in German script, and ornamented with miniatures and grotesquely decorated initials.

Mortagne is an eminently dignified district capital of four thousand inhabitants, admirably situated for defence, as was proved in the olden time when it was long held by the Counts of Perche against all invaders; but is withal a sleepy, dull town, with really very little of interest in it to-day for the traveller by road or rail, unless he happens to get here for the great Percheron horse-fair in December of each year, when transactions covering the buying and selling of two thousand head or more take place within a single day.

The church dates from 1495-1535, and is in no way remarkable except for its pretentious portal of the sixteenth century. There are numerous old houses of wood of the conventional rural Norman style, but, on the whole, beyond a general air of smugness and prosperity in the town, there is little visible to endear it even to the inhabitant himself.

Of feudal origin, Mortagne was the ancient capital of La Perche.

The traveller by road from Mortagne to Alençon and Domfront, or to Mayenne, will think he has struck a genuine mountain trail.

Not that the roadway is not good, for it is most excellently laid and graded. But, except for some mountainous parts of Brittany, this “Suisse Normande” is the hilliest region in France.

One should make a by-tour from Mortagne to Bellême and Mamers, if only to see what an unspoiled little old world a Norman hill-town looks like to-day. Bellême is all this and much more. It owns to nearly three thousand inhabitants, and sits upon a height two hundred metres above the valley of the Huisne.

There are many fine great houses in the town of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when everything was at the height of its prosperity.

Of ancient feudal origin, Bellême was one of the most strongly fortified places in Normandy in the eleventh century. The Counts of Bellême, more famous for their crimes than their virtues, were the possessors of nearly all of La Perche in the olden days. In 1082 they took the title of Counts of Alençon as well, but Bellême remained the capital of their domains.

Robert of Bellême was one of the most celebrated château builders of his day, being possessed of so great an ability that he was known as a most famous military engineer under Philippe I. He built the Château of Bellême, Nogent le Rotron, and Gisors.

Henri Martin, the historian, was born at Bellême.

The Church of St. Sauveur dates from the fifteenth century, and is a splendidly appointed and decorated church of its time. There is a great modern window therein to the memory of the mother of Aristide Boucicault, the founder of the great store at Paris known all over the world as the “Bon Marché.” There are also paintings here by Poussin, Isabey, and Oudry.

In the Square of St. Sauveur is an old fortified gate, a fragment left from the ancient château.

Alençon is first called to the minds of most women travellers as the original home of the lace known by its name. It is a great, overgrown, gone-to-sleep, old-world town, with a gorgeously ornate church, some remains of a feudal château, and the memory of its siege by Geoffroy Martel, Count of Anjou, in 1040. Under the Cardinal Richelieu the place became the seat of a district, the administration of which embraced over 1,200 distinct parishes.

The lace industry of Alençon in the olden time was justly celebrated. Working after the Venetian manner, a woman named Gilbert, a native of Alençon, first made this lace here. She obtained the exclusive privilege of making it up to 1685. The industry prospered up to 1812, since which date it has fallen sadly, though it is hoped, and even claimed, that a phœnix-like revival may be expected at any time since the school of lace-making has been established.

Alençon has its horse-fair on the January twenty-fifth and the February fourth of each year, and also a remounting post for the army,—all of which gives a certain air of prosperity, which at other times of the year is lacking.

The Church of Notre Dame of the fifteenth century is the chief architectural feature, and its magnificently sculptured portal is of the best of late Gothic workmanship.

The court-house and the prison occupy the site of the ancient château; in its façade are preserved two of the great crenelated towers of the portal, dating from the fourteenth century.

Château d’Alençon

Château d’Alençon

The art museum contains numerous paintings of little except local interest; but the public library has a superb series of decorations set about its walls in the twenty-six magnificently blazoned armorial bearings in oak, coming from the ancient library of the Val Dieu. The bas-reliefs are attributed to Germain Pilon and Jean Goujon. The library contains twenty thousand volumes, including various incunabula and 177 manuscripts.

Argentan lies fifty kilometres or so north of Alençon, and on the way there is the tiny cathedral town of Séez, which has one of the most perfect of Gothic cathedrals of its size in all France. The little city has a most unworldly aspect, silent but not sad. A Frenchman has called it a véritable ville episcopale et monastique.

There is, moreover, a hotel—the Cheval Blanc—at Séez which is something more than a mere rest-house. It is a typical, unspoiled old-time hostelry, where you are well served with the products of the farmyard and the fields. It is decidedly an inn to be noted; and, if one stays overnight, he will be put to bed in an old oak-raftered room, with a highly waxed, red-tiled floor, which will make him dream of the days of long ago.

Argentan, though it boasts but two thousand more inhabitants than Séez and has no cathedral, is a veritable metropolis compared to the latter.

The Church of St. Germain is a fine building, sadly blocked and crowded by the surrounding houses which huddle around its walls and leave only the north façade and the apse open to the day. The decorated Gothic tower (1638) is a fine achievement, and the interior arrangements are altogether charming.

The Château of Argentan is the most satisfying building in Argentan. It has two great square towers of the fourteenth century, which to-day form a part of an adjoining edifice used as a prison.

The library, while not so extensive as that in many other of the little capitals of Normandy, has six thousand volumes relating to Norman history and affairs, which should make it of value to any one of antiquarian tastes.



Northward from Evreux one follows the valley of the non-navigable, but utilitarian, little river Iton through the farm-lands of Evrecin and Neubourg, until finally one realizes that he is quite in the midst of the open Norman country. The apple-trees are everywhere; and the crop of cider-apples is here, as elsewhere in Normandy, of first importance. Prairies that once were only grass-land have been made into orchards and workable farms, and the big and little farmers, by a constant and well-paid effort, have made it a veritable land of plenty.

The little industrial town of Neubourg lies between Evreux and Bernay, in the great Neubourg district, an ancient petit pays where was once a vast château, the property of the Marquis de Sourdeac of Rieux, which dominated all the neighbourhood.

Market-place, Neubourg

Market-place, Neubourg

Like its more noble compeers in the Loire valley, it occasionally sheltered great companies of people who affected art and letters. As Molière and Rabelais frequently attended upon the court, when in residence at some gorgeous château in Touraine, so Sieur Pierre Corneille—who himself lived not far away, at Grand Couronne, near Rouen—was commanded to present a new piece at this little court of “Neufbourg” in 1661.

Here was presented for the first time the “Toison d’Or” by the royal company from Paris, in celebration of the marriage of the king and the conclusion of peace with Spain.

“The prologue was applauded generously,” say the accounts of the time. This prologue, to a great extent, proved a prophecy of things to come, as the following lines will show:

“A vaincre si longtemps mes forces s’affaiblissent,
L’état est florissant, mais les peuples gemissent;
Leurs membres décharnés courbent sous mes hauts faits
Et la gloire du trône accable mes sujets.”

The château is in ruins to-day, but a contemplation thereof serves to recall this unfamiliar page of the life of the times.

Brionne is another charmingly situated little town of this fertile country-side which is little known, except to stranger-travellers by road. It shows industry, too, in its yarn and thread works, has had considerable of a historical past, and possesses the rather scanty ruins of a twelfth-century château.

Above Brionne is Le Bec-Hellouin, all but forgotten, even by those who ever knew that the two Archbishops of Canterbury, Lanfranc and Anselm, were inmates of its old abbey before they came to their greater dignities.

The Abbey of Bec was founded in the eleventh century, and, as a great institution of learning, drew scholars from England, France, and Italy.

It was on account of the doctrines and dogma inculcated in his mind here that Lanfranc, when he came to be made Archbishop of Canterbury, summarily deposed the Saxon bishops throughout England and filled their places with Frenchmen and Italians.

Of the remains of the old abbey to-day, the church, which is best preserved, guards, as if by some miracle, some fine statues and remarkably beautiful enamels. The rest of the conventual buildings, or such as remain, have been turned into a military station for cavalry mounts. This desecration still goes on throughout France, which seems a pity, of course; but, since the Concordat turned over Church property to the state, the state was naturally bound to make some use of it if possible, regardless of how unpicturesque and unromantic the results might be.


Bourgtheroulde, between Brionne and Rouen, not far to the westward of Rouen, and just on the edge of the forest of Londe, is a chief town of a commune, but a very tiny chief town. It numbers but seven hundred souls, and has a Hôtel de la Corne d’Abondance, which lives up to its name with respect to its fare, which is excellent. Once the town possessed a Renaissance château, which disappeared during the Revolutionary fury. To-day only an entrance pavilion and a colombier, one of those great pigeon-houses which one sees so frequently in Normandy, remain. The church dates from the fifteenth century, and has some good Renaissance glass.

Bourg-Achard is another small town of the neighbourhood, and, while it is in no sense grandly picturesque, it is a charming little town, set amid a most beautiful country. Its Hôtel de la Poste is above the ordinary, and there is a remarkably beautiful fifteenth-century church, once a dependency of an Augustin priory, with an unusual amount of elaborate accessories, including a twelfth-century baptismal font and a prior’s seat in sculptured wood.

To the westward is Bernay, greatly noted for its horse-fair, held annually in the fifth week of Lent. It is the home of the Norman sire, which has been interbred with most of the high-class varieties throughout Europe and America, always to the advantage of the race.

Locally known as the Foire Fleurie, because of its being held on Palm Sunday, one sees here—as he sees only here—throng upon throng of peasants,—breeders of horses in silk caps and blouses, and horse-dealers in round hats and caps.

One never sees the type in such profusion elsewhere, and if one has an automobile at hand, so that he may get far away from the madding throng when it is all over, a visit to Bernay’s horse-fair will be put down as one of the enjoyable experiences of life.

There is very little direct voicing of yes or no, much blague and good humour, and not a little of simulated anger, as is the custom among horse-traders elsewhere. But the Norman traders are keen, and seldom does a year pass but that the tenor of the trading has been satisfactory and profitable to all.

Often there will be very little difference between the offer of the dealer and the demand of the breeder; but a difference of twenty sous is enough to make or break a bargain, not so much for the sum itself, but as matter of principle.

Sooner or later the matter is arranged, and the interested parties repair to the nearest wine-shop to conclude the bargain. When it is all over, there is the drinking of a great quaff of cider: “La vrai bon bere,” the Norman calls it in his patois.

All this time it is “blowing hot and blowing cold” on other bargainings, and much time is lost over superfluous contentions, but it is all in the day’s work. “Eh! que voulez-vous? L’z’affé sont l’z’affé, maintenant aboulez mé vot’ argent, m’n ami.

Yes, truly, “business is business,” and no spectacle of its kind is more amusing to the stranger or, apparently, to the participants themselves.

The ancient abbey at Bernay, whose church keeps company with the parish church as the chief ecclesiastical monument of the town, is still standing on the market-place.

The abbey was an ancient conventual establishment for women, and their church is celebrated for its typical characteristic Norman details, though it has practically been desecrated by the untoward uses to which it has been put in our day.

The Château of Broglie and the town of the same name is near Bernay. There is a daintily attractive church, with its façade in brown pudding-stone and a modern flèche of wood. It has also an arcade in the Norman-Romanesque style of the twelfth century.

Interior of Abbey of Bernay

Interior of Abbey of Bernay

The Château of Broglie has an imposing and pompous façade of the questionable style of Louis XIV., solemn and cold and not appealing to the finer sensibilities. It is framed between two great towers of feudal times, which were originally a part of the stronghold of the ancient fief of Chambrois.

Since the seventeenth century the château has belonged to that illustrious family of Italian origin, the Broglis, who furnished three marshals to France; an ally of the colonists of America in their revolution against the chafing of the English yoke; a prince of the name, who married the daughter of Madame de Staël; and his son, a politician and man of letters, who died as recently as 1901.

Up to the time of the French Revolution, the possessor of this splendid domain spent much care and means on its up-keep and appointments. There is left to-day a great library and a gallery of family portraits, including a brilliant chef d’œuvre, the portrait of Madame de Staël by Gerard. A somewhat gaudily painted chapel is attached to the château, which sits in the midst of a beautiful park of some sixty hectares.

All these attractions are open to the inspection of visitors under certain conditions; and, if the building and its contents do not rival that other more famous château of the Loire-Chaumont, now belonging to the Brogli family as well, it is at least liberally endowed with interest.






Up to 1789, there were thirty-three great governments making up modern France, the twelve governments created by Francis I. being the chief, and seven petits gouvernements as well.

Provinces of France

Provinces of France

In the following table the grands gouvernements of the first foundation are indicated in heavy-faced type, those which were taken from the first in italics, and those which were acquired by conquest in ordinary characters.

5.Champagne et BrieTroyes.
7.Maine et PercheLe Mans.
13.AunisLa Rochelle.
14.Bourgogne (duché de)Dijon.
15.Lyonnais, Forez et BeaujolaisLyon.
19.Guyenne et GascogneBordeaux.
20.Saintonge et Angoumois[1]Saintes.
22.Béarn et Basse NavarrePau.
24.Comté de FoixFoix.
27.Flandre et HainautLille.
29.Lorraine et BarroisNancy.
31.Franche-Comté ou Comté de BourgogneBesançon.

[1] Under Francis I. the Angoumois was comprised in the Orléanais.

The seven petits gouvernements were:

1. The ville, prévôté and vicomté of Paris.
2. Havre de Grâce.
3. Boulonnais.
4. Principality of Sedan.
5. Metz and Verdun, the pays Messin and Verdunois.
6. Toul and Toulois.
7. Saumur and Saumurois.


The following are the names of the principal pays and pagi of ancient Normandy:

Campagne de St. AndréEure
Pays d’Auge, the Pagus AlgiensisCalvados
AvranchinLa Manche
Bessin, the Pagus BogasiniusCalvados
Bocage (Le) or Pays de VireCalvados
Bray (Le), near ElbeufSeine Inf.
Caux, Pagus CaletensisSeine Inf.
CotentinLa Manche
Pays d’EuSeine Inf.
Pays d’EvreuxEure
Pays de Plains (Caux)Seine Inf.
RouennaisSeine Inf.
RoumoisSeine Inf.
Pays du ValSeine Inf.
Vexin NormandEure


Guillaume (Longsword)927-945
Richard I. (Sans Peur)945-996
Richard I. (le Bon)996-1026
Richard III.1026-1028
Robert (le Magnifique or le Diable)1028-1035
Guillaume (le Conquérant)1035-1087
Robert (Courte-heuse)1087-1106
Henri I.1106-1135
Henri II. (Plantagenet)1150-1189
Richard (Cœur de Lion)1189-1199



Comparative Metric Scale

Comparative Metric Scale



1. Itinerary of Normandy by Chemin de Fer de l’Ouest, from Paris, Gare St. Lazare.

First-class, 90 frcs.; Second-class, 70 frcs.

First-class, 90 frcs.; Second-class, 70 frcs.

Paris (St. Lazare), Louviers, Rouen, Dieppe, Rouen, Cany, St.-Valery-en-Caux, Fécamp, Le Havre, par chemin de fer ou Rouen, Le Havre, par bateau(1). Honfleur(1) ou Trouville-Deauville(1), Villers-sur-Mer, Beuzeval (Houlgate), Dives-Cabourg, Caen, Isigny-sur-Mer, Cherbourg,


Port-Bail, Carteret(1), Coutances, Granville(1), Bagnoles-de-l’Orne(1), Briouze, Dreux, Paris (Montparnasse).

2. Itinerary of Normandy by Chemin de Fer de l’Ouest, from Paris, Gare St. Lazare.

First-class, 50 frcs.; Second-class, 40 frcs.

First-class, 50 frcs.; Second-class, 40 frcs.

Paris, Les Andelys, Louviers, Rouen, Dieppe, Rouen, Barentin (Caudebec-en-Caux moyennant supplément), Le Havre, Honfleur ou Trouville-Deauville, Villers-sur-Mer, Beuzeval-Houlgate, Dives-Cabourg, Caen, Évreux, Paris.


Profile Map of Normandy

Profile Map of Normandy














Road Map The Seine Valley

Road Map The Seine Valley





A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, Y

Acquigny, 266, 268.
Agincourt, 80, 100.
Agnesseau, Château d’, 330.
Aix, 26.
Alençon (and Château), 31, 107, 110, 153, 332, 410, 411-414.
Alleume, 373.
Allouville-Bellefosse, 312-313.
Amboise, 277.
Amiens, 204.
Anet (and Château), 141, 166, 266, 272, 273-285, 305.
Angers, 32.
Ango, Manor-house of, 302-303.
Argentan (and Château), 110, 349, 414, 415.
Arques-la-Bataille (and Château), 77, 98, 137, 138, 246, 301-302.
Arromanches, 56, 314, 346, 347.
Asnelles, 345.
Ault, 98.
Aumale, 99, 309.
Autheuil-Authouillet, 268-269.
Autun, 26.
Auvergne, 24.
Avignon, 206.
Avranches, 18, 58, 91, 342, 347, 361, 377, 378, 381-383, 384, 385, 387, 389, 396.

Bagnoles de l’Orne, 357-358.
Balleroy (and Château), 344-345.
Barfleur, 371, 373.
Bayeux, 22, 31, 56, 58, 110, 248, 336, 344, 345, 347, 373, 394, 396.
Beaucaire, 108, 109, 144.
Beauce, Plain of, 7.
Beaugency, 139.
Beaumont-le-Roger, 58, 77.
Beauregard, Château of, 243.
Bec, Abbey of, 419.
Bellême, 410-411.
Belley, Château du, 41.
Bernay, 58, 93, 107, 109, 110, 357, 417, 421-423.
Berneval, 286.
Berthenouville, 249.
Bessin, 78.
Beuzeval, 314, 334.
Beuzeville, 328.
Bizy (and Château), 77, 257.
Blagny, 309.
Boisdenemetz, Château de, 243.
Bolbec, 309.
Bonneville, Château of, 329.
Bonniers, 211.
Bon Port, Abbey of, 227.
Bon Secours, 210, 215.
Bordeaux, 26.
Boscherville, St. Georges de, 150, 186, 190-192.
Bouafles, 250.
Boulogne-sur-mer, 26, 98, 171, 303.
Bourg-Achard, 421.
Bourges, 190.
Bourgtheroulde, 420-421.
Bray, 77, 249.
Brecey, 342.
Bresle, 98.
Brest, 31, 53, 94, 272, 362.
Breuilpont, 271.
Brionne, 418, 419, 420.
Brix, 372.
Broglie (and Château), 423-426.
Bueil, 272.

Cabourg, 314, 334, 335-336.
Caen, 22, 31, 49, 58, 83, 85, 92, 99, 100, 110, 147, 154, 324, 329, 332, 336-341, 394.
Calais, 171.
Cantal, 52.
Cany, 296-297.
Cape Barfleur, 99.
Cape de la Hague, 78, 99, 366-371, 372.
Cape de la Hève, 95, 99, 172, 177.
Cape Levi, 371.
Carentan, 361, 373.
Carrefour des Quatre Cantons, 46.
Catelier, 45.
Caudebec-en-Caux, 57, 89, 119, 160, 164, 175, 184-185, 211, 260.
Cérisy, 345.
Chambray (and Château), 269.
Chantilly, 39.
Chapelle, Manor-house of, 211.
Chapelle Ste. Catherine, 46.
Charleval, 232.
Chartres, 32, 266, 375.
Châteaux (See under separate names).
Chatelliers, 137.
Chaumont-en-Vexin, 248.
Chenonceaux, 285.
Cherbourg, 22, 31, 51, 53, 79, 80, 100, 111, 118, 128, 157, 272, 361-364, 366, 367, 369, 370, 372.
Chérence, 342.
Cobourg, 96.
Cocherel, 270.
Colmoulins, Château of, 288.
Conches (and Château), 58, 246, 396, 400-402.
Condé, 341-342.
Courcelles, 250.
Courseulles, 53.
Coutances, 31, 58, 90, 344, 361, 373, 376-378.
Crécy, 100, 373.
Cricquebœuf, 331.
Croisset, 196-197.
Croissy-sur-Andelle, 44.
Croix-Mesnil, 46.
Croix-Sonnet, 330.
Croix St. Leufroy, 268.

Damps, 268.
Dampsmesnil, 249.
Dangu, 247.
Deauville, 51, 96, 314, 330, 333-334.
Dieppe, 8, 14, 31, 51, 52, 53, 56, 57, 60, 76, 79, 80, 89, 98, 99, 100, 111, 137, 138, 147, 154, 157, 218, 286, 293, 299-303, 308.
Dives, 58, 79, 96, 99, 314, 334-336.
Dol, 378, 387.
Domfront (and Château), 137, 139, 349, 357, 358-360, 410.
Dourdan, 251.
Douville, 233.
Duclair, 89, 187-188, 193.
Dunkerque, 94, 181, 362.

Ecos, 249.
Ecouis, 234, 243.
Elbeuf, 42, 57, 102, 104, 110, 211, 216-217.
Epieds, 272.
Etrepagny, 243.
Etretat, 57, 76, 95, 98, 119, 161, 286, 290, 291-294, 295, 301.
Eu (and Château), 57, 77, 99, 141, 224, 305-309.
Evrecin, 415.
Evreux, 31, 58, 77, 105, 110, 154, 244, 248, 258, 266, 270, 324, 396-399, 415, 417.

Falaise (and Château), 49, 58, 108, 137, 139, 144, 246, 332, 347, 349, 350-357.
Fécamp, 31, 57, 76, 98, 100, 111, 205, 286, 294-296, 305.
Ferme des Fiefs, 47.
Fleury la Forêt (and Château), 46.
Fleury-sur-Andelle, 232.
Fontainebleau, 39, 41, 43, 44, 48, 192.
Fontaine du Houx, 45.
Fontaine-Guerard, Abbey of, 233.
Fontaine-Henri, Château, 141, 340.
Fontenay, 243.
Fontenelle, Monastery of (See St. Wandrille).
Forges-les-Eaux, 57, 158, 230-231.
Formigny, 17.
Fouet, Château, 42.
Fromenteau, 190.

Gaillard, Château, 9, 57, 137, 236, 237-240, 246, 256.
Gaillon (and Château), 141, 147, 154, 167, 250-257.
Gamaches, 243.
Garennes, 272.
Gatteville, 371-372.
Genetey, 40.
Gisors (and Château), 57, 100, 137, 148, 154, 166, 210, 244-247, 266, 411.
Giverny, 57, 119, 158, 211, 258.
Gournay, 57, 106, 310.
Grand Andelys (See Les Andelys).
Grand Aulnay, 196.
Grandcamp, 374.
Grand Couronne, 166, 196, 418.
Grandes Dalles, 297.
Grand Quévilly, 193, 196.
Granville, 31, 49, 96, 97, 98, 100, 111, 361, 377, 378-381, 387.
Grésil, 42.
Greville, 364, 368.
Gruchy, 364-366.
Guibray, Fair of, 108-109, 144, 355-357.

Harfleur, 57, 79, 179, 182, 361.
Havre, 8, 14, 31, 49, 31, 53, 56, 59, 60, 62, 76, 80, 95, 98, 100, 111, 121, 157, 158, 160, 162, 164, 167-181, 182, 183, 197, 198, 201, 236, 260, 286, 288, 289, 290, 293, 303, 310, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 332.
Havre de Grâce (See Havre).
Hécourt, 271.
Henouville, 40-41.
Héron, 43.
Heudreville, 268.
Hogue, 100.
Hogues, 43.
Honfleur, 14, 17, 31, 57, 119, 174, 178, 181, 182, 314-321, 330, 353.
Houdan, 162.
Houlgate, 314, 334.

Ifs, 340-341.
Inférieure, Château, 141.
Ingouville, 172, 177.
Isigny, 106, 361, 373.
Ivry-la-Bataille, 77, 272-273.

Jean-Sans-Terre, Tower of, 233.
Jobourg, 368.
Jouy-Cocherel, 269.
Jumièges, 57, 77, 150, 154, 186, 188-191, 193, 205, 248.

La Beauce, 162.
La Bouille, 57, 160, 179, 194.
La Fenille, 44.
La Fontaine, 41.
La Haie, Château de, 45.
Laigle, 402, 403-404.
La Londe, 41-42, 77, 192, 209, 420.
La Perche, 158.
La Roche-Guyon (and Château), 9, 31, 49, 56, 60, 119, 139, 141, 211, 258-260.
La Thuit, 166.
La Trappe, Abbey of, 406-409.
Laudemer, 364, 370.
Laval, 31.
Le Bec-Hellouin, 419.
Le Mans, 32.
Les Andelys, 9, 31, 57, 59, 61, 77, 78, 119, 130, 139, 153, 166, 211, 235, 236-243, 246, 249, 250, 255.
Le Tronquay, 44.
Lillebonne, 57, 137, 183-184.
Limes, 137.
Lisieux, 18, 22, 49, 58, 99, 106, 111, 137, 329, 332, 347, 349-350.
Loches, 139, 190.
Lorey, 271.
Lorient, 31.
Louis XIII., Château, 46.
Louviers, 39, 58, 77, 102, 104, 110, 121, 130, 153, 235, 250, 262, 264-268, 270, 396.
Lozère, 52.
Lyons, 25, 26, 204.
Lyons, Forest of, 39, 43-48, 77, 116, 231.
Lyons-le-Forêt (and Château), 43, 44, 57, 166, 231-232.

Mamers, 410.
Marseilles, 26, 177, 204.
Mauny, 40.
Mayenne, 31, 410.
Melun, 31.
Menesqueville, 232.
Menilles, 270.
Mers, 76, 304, 305.
Méry, 179.
Molineux, 57, 179, 194.
Montivilliers, 288, 289-290.
Montmorency, Château of, 196.
Montrichard, 139.
Mont St. Michel, 49, 56, 58, 95, 97, 248, 347, 377, 378, 383, 385-389.
Morlaix, 181.
Mortagne, 107, 110, 404, 406, 409-410.
Mortain, 349, 360, 361, 389-390.
Mortemer, Abbey of, 46.
Muids, 59, 235-236, 240.

Nacqueville, Château of, 370.
Nantes, 32, 34, 263.
Neubourg (and Château), 105, 415, 417.
Neuchâtel-en-Bray, 309-310.
Neufles-St.-Martin, 244.
Nez de Jobourg, 78, 361, 366, 369.
Nez de Tancarville, 76.
Nonancourt, 110.
Noyon, 265.

Ossel, 211.
Ostend, 218, 292.
Ouistreham, 314.

Pacy-sur-Eure, 268, 269-271.
Paimbœuf, 32.
Paroz, 126.
Petit Andelys (See Les Andelys).
Petit Couronne, 194-195.
Petites Dalles, 57, 76, 286, 297.
Petit Quévilly, 193, 195-196.
Petit Val, 44.
Pitres (Pistes), 230, 232-233.
Ploërmel, 31.
Poissy, 31.
Pontaubault, 385.
Pont Audemer, 22, 110, 321-322, 328, 332.
Pont d’Avignon, 26.
Pont de l’Arche, 57, 58, 59, 77, 158, 205, 211, 216, 221-228, 229, 230, 252, 262, 266, 268.
Pont l’Evêque, 99, 106, 314, 328-329, 332.
Pontoise, 248.
Pontorson, 97, 361, 384, 385, 386, 387.
Pont St. Pierre, 232, 233.
Ponzanges, 139.
Port du Gravier, 42.
Port-en-Bessin, 314, 344, 347.
Port Morin, 255.
Port Mort, 59, 250.
Puits, 319.
Puys, 303.

Querqueville, 369.
Quévilly, Harbour of, 201.
Quiberville, 304.
Quillebeuf, 158, 202, 317, 328.
Quimper, 31.

Radepont, 232, 233.
Rambouillet, 39, 192.
Rennes, 31, 34.
Richbourg, Château de, 44.
Rosy (and Château), 47, 232.
Rouen, 4-5, 6, 16, 17, 22, 31, 39, 40, 41, 42, 49, 51, 57, 59, 60, 74, 76, 77, 83, 88, 89, 90, 102, 104, 110, 116, 121, 141, 147, 148, 150, 153, 154, 157, 158, 160, 162, 164, 165, 168, 169, 172, 178, 179, 180, 183, 186, 190, 192, 193, 194, 196, 197-211, 212, 213, 215, 216, 221, 224, 236, 248, 258, 260, 262, 263, 264, 288, 305, 310, 329, 347, 350, 394, 396, 418, 420.
Roumare, 40, 77, 192, 193, 209.
Rouvray, 41, 77, 166, 192, 193, 209.
Rugles, 402.
Ruys, 314, 315.
Ryes, 344.

Séez, 375, 414, 415.
Senlis, 375.
Séry, 309.
Sommervieu, 345.
Sourdeval, 342.
St. Adrien, 42, 215, 260.
St. Barbe, 256.
St. Brieuc, 31, 181.
St. Clair-sur-Ept, 247, 249.
St. Cyr du Vaudreuil, 262-264, 268.
St. Denis, 144.
Ste. Anne, 369.
Ste. Croix-Hague, 368.
Ste. Marguerite, 304.
St. Etienne du Vauvray, 234-235, 262.
St. Jouin, 290-291.
St. Lô, 31, 58, 106, 344, 345, 361, 374-376.
St. Malo, 31, 79, 80, 99, 387.
St. Martin, 368.
St. Menehould, 221.
St. Ouen, 248.
St. Pierre du Vauvray, 211, 235, 236, 262, 349.
St. Sauveur, 193.
St. Valery-en-Caux, 57, 76, 98, 286, 298-299.
St. Wandrille, Abbey of, 185-187, 191.

Taisniers, 43.
Talbot, Château of, 233-234.
Tancarville (and Château), 178, 179, 183, 201, 202.
Thilliers-en-Vexin, 243.
Tinchebray, 342.
Tombelaine, 378, 383, 387.
Tosny, 59, 250, 255.
Touques, 77, 328, 330, 331.
Tourouvre, 404.
Trait-St. Wandrille, Forest of, 77.
Tréport, 31, 49, 56, 57, 76, 98, 99, 111, 286, 304-305, 307, 309.
Trouville, 51, 52, 56, 63, 95, 96, 99, 147, 160, 218, 292, 301, 314, 315, 317, 319, 328, 329, 330, 331-333, 334.
Troyes, 180.

Urville, 368, 370.

Vacherie, 240.
Valognes, 137, 361, 372-373.
Val St. Pierre, 44.
Valtelles, Villa of, 371.
Vannes, 31.
Varengeville, 288, 304.
Vauville, 368.
Vaux, Château de, 244.
Ventoux, 252.
Verneuil, 31.
Vernon, 42, 56, 59, 77, 107, 121, 158, 159, 240, 249, 252, 257, 258, 260.
Vernonnet, 257.
Versailles, 31, 32, 39.
Vetheuil, 60.
Veules-les-Roses, 76, 298, 299.
Veulettes, 297.
Vezillon, 250.
Villers-Cotterets, 39.
Villers-sur-Mer, 334.
Villerville, 331.
Vire, 91, 111, 361, 390-392.

Yport, 76, 111, 286, 295.
Yvetôt, 31, 89, 90, 130, 309, 310-312.

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:
Finally, in 1847, François I. died=> Finally, in 1547, François I. died {pg 281}
L’espèce d’un matin=> L’espace d’un matin {pg 339}
isle of the Miniquiers=> isle of the Minquiers {pg 379}
Voir ce ‘Pas,’ on, dit-on, les Diables s’égara=> Voir ce ‘Pas,’ où, dit-on, les Diables s’égara {pg 390}