Guest Notes for Episode 284: Searching for Joan of Arc in rural France

Categories: Alsace and Lorraine, Champagne Area, Hauts-de-France, Normandy & Brittany

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Discussed in this Episode

  • Aisne-Marne Memorial Cemetery WWI
  • Château-Thierry monument WWI
  • Porte Saint Pierre where Joan of Arc entered the town of Chateau-Thierry
  • Reims
  • Domrémy-la-Pucelle
  • Vaucouleur
  • Compiègne
  • Rouen

OUTLINE: Kim Loftus

Introduction

Where we went and why

Highlights

Backroads to Aisne-Marne Memorial Cemetery, a WWI American cemetery, and then the Château-Thierry monument.

Interview with upper elementary school children on field trip at cemetery.

Château-Thierry Visitors Center with very helpful staff.

Fortress related to 100 Years War

Joan of Arc was there with 6-7,000 troops and King Charles VII came as well.

Reims

Champagne was excellent – Pommery

Dinner at Le Cafe de Reims – wasn’t busy and appeared out of date but best creme brulee ever, made with Fossier cookies.Also sea bass and Dourado dishes.

Shop with French made products and others. Bought Letol scarf that I just love.

Au Bureau Restaurant with view of cathedral

Joan of Arc sculpture outside cathedral and chapel inside.

Cathedral, Basilica, and Library were highlights for us

Most vibrant rainbow we have ever seen over the cathedral

Summertime light show

Domremy-la-Pucelle

L’Arbre des Fées, the gift shop staff was so fun for a Joan geek like me, maybe because I was the only one there. It was another chance to practice my French.

Not so great experience in the Centre Johannique across the street – waited 20 minutes for English version of the Middle Ages show to start, only to have a French group insist on French first, which the staff agreed with them. We left without it.

But Joan’s childhood home and the garden where she heard the voices giving her instructions are peaceful and lovely.

St. Remy church next to Joan’s home.

Vaucouleurs

Visitors Center, which is where you request to see Joan of Arc Museum and I think it was a few euros admission for each of us.

Next to the Visitors Center, a shop called Mercerie Lagny. Nathalie, owner, was so delightful. Bought French made socks, Berthe aux Grands Pieds. I was able to use my French. It was just a great experience.

Eglise St. Laurent – chapel to Joan. Looked like school children had written letters or papers that were left there.

Up the hill is the gate of France where Joan left the city with her troops to go the dauphin at Chinon.

An old lime tree probably dates back to Joan’s time. Sign explaining only living thing remaining that would have been there to see her off in 1429.

The old castle’s chapel were Joan attended the Mass on mornings and stayed for hours in front of the statue of Notre-Dame-des-Voûtes. It was not open.

Rouen

Chemical plant explosion and awful smell in the air

The Joan of Arc Historical, an immersive experience – quite moving. http://www.historial-jeannedarc.fr/en/

Lesson – if its the day of mourning for President Jacque Chirac – nearly everything will be closed.

Rouen Cathedrale – light show in the summer months

Eglise St. Jeanne d’Arc, Rouen right next to Place du Vieux-Marché – Joan’s execution site, marked with a towering sculptural cross.

Best dinner at D’eux-Mêmes restaurant – Palet Breton, Tube Choco-dessert and a Daurade. https://www.restaurant-deuxmemes.fr/en/

Best hotel of the trip – Best Western Hotel Gustave Flaubert

Compiègne

Came through on a Sunday and everything except the Château de Compiègne was closed, which we didn’t want to go through.

Many timber frame buildings in the city center.

Joan of Arc on city hall and sculpture in the plaza.

Joan captured nearby but it started to rain hard so we drove onto Bayeux rather than see if we could find the location.

Bayeux

Normandy beach tour – take one that goes to Utah Beach rather than Omaha.

Three good museums – The Bayeux Tapestry, the MAHB – Museum of Art and History Baron Gérard, and the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy. I only went to the first two. The guys went to the Battle of Normandy one.

We didn’t like Calvados!

Relais 3 Pommes-I didn’t eat here but the guys did and said it was their best meal of the trip.

I also didn’t get to this store but they loved it. Said it was a type of mega store and would be a good place to find all kinds of French goods. https://www.e-leclerc.com/bayeux

Tips

#1 Prepare ahead and avoid buying fuel on Sunday.

#2 Get specific address and clear instructions on return site for the rental car at CdG.

#3 Might as well shop for a picnic if your day will get you to places during mid-day lunch. Not much will be open.

#4 Carrefour or Casino grocer best place to buy French food or wine. I’m still hoarding box of Fossier’s Le Craquant au Biscuit Rose de Reims and a chocolate bar.

Joan of Arc Super Short Version

She was born in 1412 near Nancy in the East of France. France was in the middle of a war called the 100 year war. This war started badly for the French following the disastrous loss at the battle of Agincourt (listen to episode 89 where I go into details on what happened there) and when Joan of Arc is born the English King rules France.

1oo year war: 1337 – 1453

Joan started to hear voices telling her it was her mission to help restore Charles VII to his rightful throne when she was 13. By the time she’s 18 she sets off on a daring journey to meet Charles VII. Along the way she ralies the people and inspires them in support of Charles.

How does the teenage daughter of farmers get herself into that situation is not something I can explain.

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Categories: Alsace and Lorraine, Champagne Area, Hauts-de-France, Normandy & Brittany