Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Touring, September 7 and 9

Friday afternoon we took the 15 minute train ride to the neighboring town of Gien. That’s where the rental car agency is that would provide us with transportation for the next 10 days.
After we picked up the car we made a beeline for the Faiencerie Gien, a famous pottery manufacturer. They have an outlet store and we thought maybe we could find a deal. Turns out the deals weren’t enough to cause us to part with our hard earned euros so we returned to the boat, continuing our end-of-season chores. Laundry must be done, oil and filters must be changed and things packed away for the long dark winter months.
Sunday we set off again, heading down along the Loire River, back through Gien.
In the middle ages the town of Gien-le-Vieux (Old Gien) became a parish when Saint Peregrine, bishop of Auxerre, founded the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. In the eighth century, Charlemagne authorized the construction of a fortified mound around the site of the present castle (château).
In the ninth and tenth centuries the decline of the Carolingian empire and Viking raids led to a gradual abandonment of Gien-le-Vieux. The population mostly moved to the site of the current town of Gien which was easier to defend. However, the church of St. Peter and St. Paul survived until the seventeenth century.
Gien had a large Protestant community during the French Religious wars and like its neighbors, Châtillon-Coligny, Châtillon-sur-Loire and Orleans, it was a Protestant stronghold. The churches were looted and clergy hunted.
Much of Gien was destroyed during the World War 2. The town was bombed by the Luftwaffe, who aimed to destroy the town's bridge over the river to prevent the French Army from retreating. The bombardment created a huge fire which destroyed over four hundred buildings, including the town's two main churches. The town was rebuilt after the war.

The Chateau de Gien and Église Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc loom over the city and the river.

Our next stop was the Chateau Sully. We had planned to take a tour of the castle but when we arrived there was a huge Fête de la Sange taking place. We think it had something to do with hunting (sang is blood) but the place was crawling with people and the parking was a nightmare. We wandered around for a few minutes and took a couple of pictures and then beat a hasty retreat.

If you follow the link above there’s lots more information on the castle as well as a video tour. Well worth a look!

Further west along the river, our next stop was Germigny-des-Prés to see an ancient oratory, or small chapel.
Built in 806 by Theodolf, the Bishop of Orleans and private counsellor to Charlemagne, it is all that remains of his villa.
The interior is beautiful, very simple and peaceful.

In the 19th century, during one of the many reconstruction efforts a mosaic from the 900’s, covered in whitewash and depicting the Arc of the Covenant, was discovered in the western apse. Created by a Byzantine artist, it is made up of over 130,000 broken glass bricks.

The inscription at the bottom translates to “Look on and contemplate the Holy Oracle and it’s cherubim, here stands resplendent the Arc of the Testament Divine. Before this spectacle strive to touch with your prayers the Master of Thunder - and please do not overlook Theodulf in your blessings.”

Next we were off to Orléans.

Joan was here!

A statue entitled I Die Through You. The monument is near the north transept of the cathedral. 
It was erected at the time of Joan of Arc's beatification in 1909 and canonization in 1920.

The city was having it’s fall fair where all of the cultural institutions and other clubs sign residents up for winter activities and distribute schedules. We heard performances by the city orchestra and a group of pipers. The model railroad club was there as were several youth sports leagues. 
Since it was pretty late in the day and we had over an hour’s drive to get back to the boat, we didn’t stay long but we lamented that the Canal d’Orléans is closed. We would have loved to visit here for several days by boat.

In a couple of days our next excursion would take us to a château under construction.

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