Showing posts with label Histoire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Histoire. Show all posts

March 8, 2013

Genève : Premières Impressions

My first impressions of Geneva:

Geneva is beautiful.

The gorgeous stone buildings transport one from modern day to ancient times.

Stone buildings complete with a sprinkling of snow.

There are swans floating on the lake, immediately making one feel like the star of a Disney princess movie.

Swans on Lake Geneva.

It’s Protestantism with a bit a flare.

The church that houses Calvin’s chair looks a lot more Catholic than the churches in good ol’ America (probably because it was originally Catholic).

St. Pierre Cathedral.

The wall of statues celebrating the Protestant Reformers is very showy for Protestant principles, but I loved it all the same.

The Reformation Wall.

It’s also full of lovely modern day activities, such as giant chess in the park, or drinks and snacks at a restaurant floating on the lake.

Babies playing chess.

View from the Bains des Paquis.

A great place for a day trip, it left me wanting more.

February 6, 2012

Statue: Mon P'tit Quinquin

In Lille, there is a statue dedicated to the Northern lullaby “P’tit Quinquin” and its author Alexandre Desrousseaux.

Lillois soaking up the sun at the statue dedicated to Desrousseaux and his famous song.

Desrousseaux was a 19th century poet born in Lille who wrote in both French and Ch’ti.

His most well-known and well-loved song is L'canchon Dormoire, more commonly referred to as mon p’tit quinquin. It’s a lullaby that has become Lille's unofficial city anthem.

Here’s the famous refrain (en ch’ti):
Dors min p'tit Quinquin,
Min p'tit pouchin,
Min gros rojin ;
Te m'f'ras du chagrin,
Si te n'dors point j'qu'à d'main.

Which translates to:
Sleep my little baby
My little chick
My fat grape
You will fill my heart with sorrow
If you don’t sleep until the ‘morrow

The statue features the bust of Desrousseaux as well as a woman singing her child to sleep, the embodiment of his famous lullaby.

The lullaby is feautured in Bienvenue Chez Les Ch'tis. When Dany Boon and Kad Merad are drunkenly visiting all the homes along their postal route, an elderly woman sings them this song, bringing them all to tears.

Check it out:
Rue Nationale entrance to square Foch

December 20, 2011

Statue: Lille A Ses Fusilles

During La Grande Guerre (the “Great” War, aka the WWI), Lille was under German occupation. Some Lillois stayed loyal to the French Republic and started a resistance movement.

Unfortunately for the individuals who made up the resistance group called comité Jacquet, the German soldiers discovered them and had them executed. The same was true for Léon Trulin, an 18-year-old student, who was caught while attempting to pass on intelligence to England.

In order to honor these brave men who died for their country, France dedicated the monument entitled Lille À Ses Fusilles to them in 1929.

Lille à ses Fusilles. The five men represented are (from right to left): George Maertens, Eugène Deconynck, Sylvère Verhulst, Eugène Jacquet, and Léon Trulin.

The four men who are awaiting execution are the members of comité Jacquet. None of them are looking at the executioner, denying the German authority until the very end.

The man who is already shot and lying on the floor is Léon Trulin. All five were sculpted after numerous discussions with their friends and family in order to get their faces right.

But the story of this statue does not end there.

During La Seconde Guerre Mondiale (WWII), the Germans once again occupied Lille. Upon seeing the monument to those who defied them the first time around, they took at it with pickaxes until it was destroyed.

France didn’t let the statue die with the German occupation, however, and set about rebuilding it. In 1960, the new, identical monument was reinstalled and is still around today.

Check it out:
Square Daubenton
Lille 59800

November 28, 2011

Statue: Au Pigeon Voyageur

Au Pigeon Voyageur.

During WWI a major line of communication used by the French army was pigeons voyageurs (carrier pigeons).

Once the Germans occupied the North of France, they outlawed the use of pigeons voyageurs.

To be caught releasing pigeons was punishable by death, and to be in possession was punishable with three years in prison. All citizens who had pigeons voyageurs were supposed to turn them over to German authorities.

These anti-pigeon laws didn't stop certain Nordist from using their pigeons voyageurs, however. Many pigeons and colombophilies (pigeon raisers) were killed during the war.

Translation: "To the pigeon raisers who died for France, shot by the enemy for having sent pigeons voyageurs."

In 1936, France built a monument dedicated to the French pigeons that died and the French colombophilies who were killed.

Not only do these carrier pigeons have a monument dedicated to them, but those who survived the war were often decorated as soldiers.

La colombophile, le bouclier, et le serpant (The pigeon raiser, the shield, and the snake).

In the statue, the colombophiles are represented by a woman surrounded by pigeons. The strength of the French pigeons is shown by the circular shield decorated with a single piegon, protecting the colombophile from the enemy, here in the form of a snake.

Check it out:
At the Entrance to the Citadel,
At the end of Le Point de la Citadel,

Sources: Newsletter de Verdun-Meuse, and wikipedia.

November 2, 2011

La Légende de Lille

In the olden days, when justice was carried out with swords and mysterious creatures still lingered in the forests, begins the legend of our fair city, Lille.

Salvaert, the Prince of Dijon, and his beautiful wife, Ermengaert, were expecting their first-born child when the King of England summoned them to his court.

It was to be a long, slow journey as they were traveling with the prince’s many men, and Ermengaert, being pregnant, was in no shape to ride a horse.

Unfortunately, the only road to England took them through the Bois-sans-Mercy, the Merciless Forest, where many a man had perished at the hands of the ruler of Flandres, for he was no ordinary man.

Phinaert Lord of Flandres was a giant, known throughout France for his cruelty.

When word arrived that the Prince of Dijon was traveling in the Merciless Forest, Phinaert would have none of it. Wanting Ermengaert for his own, he attacked the prince’s party, killing first the knights and then finally dueling the Prince himself.

Despite a valiant effort on the Prince’s part, he was no match for the giant’s brute strength and mighty ax, and quickly perished.

He held the giant off long enough for Ermengaert to flee from the battle.

Running aimlessly in the forest, she went into labor. Not being able to go any further, she stopped by a stream, and gave birth to a baby boy. Afraid of being discovered, she quickly hid her newborn baby in the bushes. When Phinaert arrived moments later, he knew not of the baby, and took Ermengaert as his prisoner.

But Ermengaert was not able to overcome the grief of loosing both her husband and her child, and died shortly thereafter.

The baby should have also perished alone in the woods, but fate had other plans.

A religious hermit, who lived in a cabin in the woods and went to the stream for his drinking water, discovered the crying child. Not one to let a baby die alone in the woods, he took the child in and feed him with sheep’s milk. The hermit named the boy Lydéric.

Years later, upon learning what Phinaert had done to his parents, Lydéric swore to avenge them.

He taught himself the ways of the sword, and in his 20th year, set out to find Phinaert.

Lydéric discovered that Phinaert had been living in Dagobert King of France’s palace and so he traveled to Soissons.

Once there he challenged Phinaert to a duel in front of the King’s court, stating his desire to avenge his parents’ deaths.

The King sanctioned the duel, citing the Bois-sans-Mercy as the location where the duel would take place.

Phinaert thought he would be able to crush Lydéric as he had his father, due to his inhuman size and penchant for cruelty, but what he hadn’t counted on was Lydéric’s desire for vengeance enhancing his abilities.

Phinaert swung his mighty ax with all his strength, but was unable to hit the agile Lydéric.

The battle waged on until suddenly Lydéric saw his chance. Quick as lightening, he brushed the giant’s stomach with the sharp edge of his sword. The giant collapsed; life spilling out of him.

Lydéric had won.

Dagobert King of France awarded Lydéric Phinaert’s old lands, naming him the new Lord of Flandres.

Lydéric established a new city where he had defeated Phinaert, which would come to be known as Lille.

A statue of Lyderic and Phineart holds up Lille's beffoi.

My version of Lille's founding legend is based off of wikipedia, the Lille Office of Tourism, and my imagination.

October 18, 2011

La Vieille Bourse

One of the most beautiful buildings in Lille can be found in the Grand Place. It’s intricately sculpted façade stands out in bright red and yellow. The coherency of the Vielle Bourse gives it the appearance of a single structure, yet it is actually 24 separate, identical houses.

La Vieille Bourse.

The houses form a square around an open-air courtyard. They were built to give protection from the elements to merchants, who up till then had to work outside. There are arcades, which provided protection from rain, and the houses themselves blocked the wind.

The courtyard.

It was built during the Spanish rule and with King Philippe IV’s consent, in 1651.

Today the building is still used for commercial purposes. Different stores, cafés, chocolate shops, and ice cream parlors are found on the ground floor facing the outside.

Pick any one of the four arches, one on each side of the building, leading into the courtyard to discover a used book market. While there are plenty of old books worth perusing, don’t miss the old postcards and old franc coins.

One of the four arches.

I spent a good two hours there once enjoying looking at old photographs of Lille and the other cities in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais.

People checking out cool, old books, postcards, and coins.

If you’re lucky, you may even witness some chess games, as there are a game boards available. Or perhaps you can even play, but I’m not good enough.

Check it out:
La Vieille Bourse
Place du Général de Gaulle
Open afternoons on Tuesday – Sunday

October 11, 2011

Lille et Ses Portes

Although most of the ancient walls that once enclosed Lille were destroyed, a few of the large city gates (portes) remain, telling the city’s history.

While Lille was a walled-in city starting in the Middle Ages, both la porte de Gand and la porte de Roubaix were built while Lille was under Spanish rule, in 1620.

La Porte de Gand.

La Porte de Roubaix

Once Lille became French in 1667, the Marquis de Vauban, under orders from King Louis XIV, set about making Lille more French. He also wanted to show the strength of the French monarchy through doubling the ramparts surrounding the porte de Gand. These ramparts can be seen in the park in front of the Ghent Gate.

La Porte de Gand and some of the ramparts in the surrounding park.

La Porte de Roubaix was built to protect the 75 acres the Spanish added to the city. In 1792, during the French Revolutionary Wars (wars that took place after the French Revolution between the newly formed First Republic of France and coalitions of other European states) a general from the Austrian Netherlands came to la porte de Roubaix with an ultimatum from the Duke of Saxe-Teschen demanding that the city surrender. The city did not surrender, withstood several days of cannon fire, and won the battle, remaining loyal to the new democratic France.

La Porte de Roubaix.

Although taken down in 1920s during the major dismantlement of the city’s ramparts, a piece of the porte de Tournai can be found in the square de reduit.

The remains of la Porte de Tournai.

In 1667, after France's victory over the Spanish Netherlands, King Louis XIV entered the city of Lille through the porte des malades in order to accept the keys to the city. In 1685 work started to transform the gate into an Arche du Triomphe celebrating King Louis XIV’s victory. The arch was finished in 1692 and named La Porte de Paris.

La Porte de Paris and le beffroi.

In order to glorify King Louis XIV, the architect decided to add sculptures to the gate. On the left there is a statue of Mars, the Roman god of war, and on the right there is a statue of Hercules, symbolizing the strength of Louis XIV. At the top two angels can be seen with golden trumpets, announcing the victory to the world, and in the middle is Victory herself, ready to crown the King.

La Porte de Paris and its statues.

Check it out:
La Porte de Gand - rue de Gand
La Porte de Roubaix - where the rue de Roubaix meets park Henri Matisse
La Porte de Tournai - rue de reduit, in the square du reduit
La Porte de Paris - Place Simon Vollant
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