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Title: Rambles in Normandy
Author: Mansfield, M. F. (Milburg Francisco), 1871-
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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RAMBLES IN NORMANDY

_WORKS OF FRANCIS MILTOUN_

_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_

_L. C. PAGE & COMPANY New England Building, Boston, Mass._

[Illustration: _Mont St. Michel_

(_See page 385_)]



                                Rambles
                                   in
                                NORMANDY

                           BY FRANCIS MILTOUN

                       _With Many Illustrations_

                           BY BLANCHE MCMANUS

                        [Illustration: colophon]

                                 BOSTON
                          L. C. PAGE & COMPANY
                                  1906

                           _Copyright, 1905_
                        BY L. C. PAGE & COMPANY
                             (INCORPORATED)

                         _All rights reserved_

                        Published October, 1905

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



APOLOGIA


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.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                                    PAGE

PART I.

I. INTRODUCTORY                                               3

II. THE ROADS OF FRANCE                                      20

III. THE FORESTS OF FRANCE                                   38

IV. A TRAVEL CHAPTER                                         49


PART II.

I. THE PROVINCE AND ITS PEOPLE                               73

II. NORMAN INDUSTRIES                                       101

III. MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE COUNTRY-SIDE                113

IV. THE CHÂTEAUX OF OTHER DAYS                              136

V. SOME TYPES OF NORMAN ARCHITECTURE                        150


PART III.

I. THE SEINE VALLEY--PREAMBLE                               157

II. THE SEINE BELOW ROUEN                                   171

III. THE SEINE FROM ROUEN TO PONT DE L’ARCHE                203

IV. THE SEINE FROM PONT DE L’ARCHE TO LA
ROCHE-GUYON                                                 229

V. IN THE VALLEY OF THE EURE                                262

VI. THE PAYS DE CAUX                                        286

VII. THE COAST WESTWARD OF THE SEINE                        314

VIII. THE COTENTIN                                          361

IX. THE NORMAN COUNTRY-SIDE                                 393

APPENDICES                                                  427

INDEX                                                       443



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                           PAGE

MONT ST. MICHEL (_See page 385_)                  _Frontispiece_

A DILIGENCE                                                  21

ROAD PLACQUES, TOURING CLUB DE FRANCE                        28

ROAD SIGNS IN FRANCE                                         30

A BERLINE DE POSTE                                           33

EXPLANATION OF THE MAPS OF THE ETAT MAJOR                    36

LYONS-LE-FORÊT                                       facing  44

CHAPELLE STE. CATHERINE                                      47

MAP OF NORMANDY                                      facing  48

A WOMAN OF NORMANDY                                  facing  84

HARVEST-TIME IN NORMANDY                             facing 104

NORMAN HORSES                                        facing 106

RAISING THE SUGAR-BEET                                      111

A NORMAN FARMHOUSE                                   facing 128

A PEASANT’S CART                                            134

DONJON OF ARQUES (DIAGRAM)                                  138

CHÂTEAU GAILLARD, LES ANDELYS                        facing 138

ANCIENT MANOR D’ARGOUGES                                    146

AN INN BY THE SEINE                                  facing 158

CAPE DE LA HÈVE                                             173

TOWBOATS ON THE SEINE                                       181

QUAY OF CAUDEBEC-EN-CAUX                             facing 184

JUMIÈGES                                             facing 188

THE ARMS OF AGNES SOREL                                     189

A ROUEN CAFÉ                                                199

ROUEN FROM BON SECOURS                               facing 210

SOME SEINE SKETCHES                                         214

PONT DE L’ARCHE                                      facing 222

ANCIENT PLAN OF CHÂTEAU GAILLARD                            239

THE SEINE AT PETIT ANDELYS                           facing 240

COLLEGIATE CHURCH, ECOUIS                            facing 244

GISORS                                               facing 246

A SEINE HAMLET                                              249

THE TWO CHÂTEAUX OF LA ROCHE-GUYON                   facing 260

HÔTEL DU GRAND CERF, LOUVIERS                        facing 264

GARENNES                                             facing 272

SONG OF THE PAYS DE CAUX (MUSIC)                            287

A PIGEON-HOUSE                                              289

THE HARBOUR OF FÉCAMP                                facing 294

THE CLIFFS OF YPORT                                  facing 296

TRÉPORT                                              facing 304

A CAUCHOISE OF YVETÔT                                       312

HONFLEUR                                             facing 318

IN THE CIDER-APPLE COUNTRY                                  323

A NORMAN CIDER-PRESS                                 facing 326

DIVES-SUR-MER                                        facing 334

TOWER OF GENS D’ARMES                                       338

CLOISTER OF THE CAPUCIN CONVENT, CAEN                facing 340

TINCHEBRAY                                                  343

WALLED FARM                                                 346

PORT-EN-BESSIN                                              348

OLD WOODEN HOUSES, LISIEUX                           facing 350

CHÂTEAU OF FALAISE (PLAN)                                   351

DONJON OF FALAISE                                    facing 352

STREET UNDER THE CHURCH OF THE TRINITY, FALAISE             356

A COTENTINE                                          facing 360

MILLET’S HOME, GRUCHY                                       365

THE ROCK OF GRANVILLE                                facing 380

BAY OF MONT ST. MICHEL (MAP)                                384

MONT ST. MICHEL IN 1657                                     385

PORTE DU ROI, MONT ST. MICHEL                        facing 386

CLOCK TOWER, VIRE                                           392

IN THE CHURCH OF STE. FOY, CONCHES                   facing 400

RUGLES                                                      403

THE APIARY OF LA TRAPPE                              facing 408

CHÂTEAU D’ALENÇON                                           413

ARGENTAN                                                    416

MARKET-PLACE, NEUBOURG                                      417

ABBEY OF BEC-HELLOUIN                                       420

INTERIOR OF ABBEY OF BERNAY                                 424

THE PROVINCES OF FRANCE (MAP)                               427

ITINERARY OF NORMANDY, I. (MAP)                             433

ITINERARY OF NORMANDY, II. (MAP)                            434

PROFILE MAP OF NORMANDY                                     435

THE COAST OF NORMANDY (MAP)                                 436

NATURAL CURIOSITIES OF NORMANDY (MAP)                       437

ARCHITECTURAL CURIOSITIES OF NORMANDY (MAP)                 438

ROAD MAP, NORMANDY COAST                                    439

ROAD MAP, THE SEINE VALLEY                                  440

ROAD MAP, ACROSS NORMANDY                                   441



PART I.



RAMBLES IN NORMANDY



CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTORY


“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.



CHAPTER II.

THE ROADS OF FRANCE


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.

[Illustration: DILIGENCE]

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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: 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:

  No. 192  { Paris to Havre, by the right bank of the
      and  {  Seine, passing Poissy, Melun, La Roche-Guyon,
  “    14. {  Les Andelys, and Rouen.

  “   190. {Paris to Rouen and Honfleur, by the left
  “   182. {  bank of the Seine.
  “   180. {

  “    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.

  “    13  {
      and  { Paris to Coutances by Bayeux and St. Lô.
  “   172. {

  “   10.  {
  “   12.  {
  “   24.  { Paris to Vannes, via Ploërmel.
  “  166.  {

  “   10.  {
  “   12.  { Paris to Quimper, via Rennes and Lorient.
  “   24.  {
  “  165.  {

  “   10. { Paris to Brest, via Versailles, Alençon,
  “   12. {  Laval, Rennes, and St. Brieuc.

  “   10. { Paris to Nantes and Paimbœuf, via Versailles,
  “   23. {  Chartres, Le Mans, Angers, and
          {  Nantes.

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....”

[Illustration: BERLINE _de_ POSTE.]

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_.”

[Illustration: _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.



CHAPTER III.

THE FORESTS OF FRANCE


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.

[Illustration: _Lyons-le-Forêt_]

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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _Map of Normandy_]



CHAPTER IV.

A TRAVEL CHAPTER


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).

     _Binder._--Rebondir.

     _Patinguet._--Saut.

     _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.

     _D’aveuc._--Avec.

     _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.

     _Itou._--Aussi.

     _Une bordée._--Compagnie nombreuse.

     _Eclipper._--Eclabousser.

     _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.



PART II



CHAPTER I.

THE PROVINCE AND ITS PEOPLE


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.

  DÉPARTEMENTS.     PRÉFECTURES.   SOUS-PRÉFECTURES.

  Lower Seine.       Rouen.       Havre, Yvetot,
                                  Dieppe, Neufchâtel.

  Eure.              Evreux.      Bernay, Pt. Audemer,
                                  Louviers, Les Andelys.

  Manche.            St. Lô.      Cherbourg, Valognes,
                                  Coutances, Avranches,
                                  Mortain.

  Orne.              Alençon.     Domfront, Argentan,
                                  Mortagne.

  Calvados.          Caen.        Vire, Bayeux, Falaise,
                                  Pont l’Évêque,
                                  Lisieux.

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.

[Illustration: _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.



CHAPTER II.

NORMAN INDUSTRIES


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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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.



CHAPTER III.

MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE COUNTRY-SIDE


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.

[Illustration: _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.”

[Illustration: _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.



CHAPTER IV.

THE CHÂTEAUX OF OTHER DAYS


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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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.



CHAPTER V.

SOME TYPES OF NORMAN ARCHITECTURE


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.



PART III.



CHAPTER I.

THE SEINE VALLEY--PREAMBLE


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.

[Illustration: _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_.



CHAPTER II.

THE SEINE BELOW ROUEN


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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _Jumièges_]

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.

[Illustration]

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.

[Illustration: _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.



CHAPTER III.

THE SEINE FROM ROUEN TO PONT DE L’ARCHE


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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: 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.

[Illustration: _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.



CHAPTER IV.

THE SEINE FROM PONT DE L’ARCHE TO LA ROCHE-GUYON


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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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_.”

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _Gisors_]

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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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.



CHAPTER V.

IN THE VALLEY OF THE EURE


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.

[Illustration: _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_.”

[Illustration: _Garennes_]

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.



CHAPTER VI.

THE PAYS DE CAUX


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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _Tréport_]

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.

[Illustration: _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.



CHAPTER VII.

THE COAST WESTWARD OF THE SEINE


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.

[Illustration: _Honfleur_]

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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _Dives-sur-Mer_]

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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _Tinchebray_]

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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _Port-en-Bessin_]

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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: 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.”

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _A Cotentine_]



CHAPTER VIII.

THE COTENTIN


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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: BAY of Mt. ST. MICHEL]

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:

       “LES ECUS DE LA LUNE

    “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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _Clock Tower, Vire_]



CHAPTER IX.

THE NORMAN COUNTRY-SIDE


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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _Rugles_]

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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _Argentan_]

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.

[Illustration: _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.

[Illustration: _ABBEY of BEC-HELLOVIN_]

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.

[Illustration: _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.


THE END.



APPENDICES


I.

THE PROVINCES OF FRANCE

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.

[Illustration: _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.

  NAMES OF GOVERNMENTS                        CAPITALS
   1.  =Ile-de-France=                         Paris.
   2.  =Picardie=                              Amiens.
   3.  =Normandie=                             Rouen.
   4.  =Bretagne=                              Rennes.
   5.  =Champagne et Brie=                     Troyes.
   6.  =Orléanais=                             Orléans.
   7.  _Maine et Perche_                       Le Mans.
   8.  _Anjou_                                 Angers.
   9.  _Touraine_                              Tours.
  10.  _Nivernais_                             Nevers.
  11.  _Berri_                                 Bourges.
  12.  _Poitou_                                Poitiers.
  13.  _Aunis_                                 La Rochelle.
  14.  =Bourgogne= (duché de)                  Dijon.
  15.  =Lyonnais, Forez et Beaujolais=         Lyon.
  16.  _Auvergne_                              Clermont.
  17.  _Bourbonnais_                           Moulins.
  18.  _Marche_                                Guéret.
  19.  =Guyenne et Gascogne=                   Bordeaux.
  20.  _Saintonge et Angoumois_[1]             Saintes.
  21.  _Limousin_                              Limoges.
  22.  _Béarn et Basse Navarre_                Pau.
  23.  =Languedoc=                             Toulouse.
  24.  _Comté de Foix_                         Foix.
  25.  =Provence=                              Aix.
  26.  =Dauphiné=                              Grenoble.
  27.  Flandre et Hainaut                      Lille.
  28.  Artois                                  Arras.
  29.  Lorraine et Barrois                     Nancy.
  30.  Alsace                                  Strasbourg.
  31.  Franche-Comté ou Comté de Bourgogne     Besançon.
  32.  Roussilon                               Perpignan.
  33.  Corse                                   Bastia.

[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.


II.

The following are the names of the principal _pays_ and _pagi_ of
ancient Normandy:

  PAYS                               DÉPARTEMENT
  Campagne de St. André                 Eure
  Pays d’Auge, the _Pagus Algiensis_    Calvados
  Avranchin                             La Manche
  Bessin, the _Pagus Bogasinius_        Calvados
  Bocage (Le) or Pays de Vire           Calvados
  Bray (Le), near Elbeuf                Seine Inf.
  Caux, _Pagus Caletensis_              Seine Inf.
  Cotentin                              La Manche
  Pays d’Eu                             Seine Inf.
  Pays d’Evreux                         Eure
  Pays de Plains (Caux)                 Seine Inf.
  Rouennais                             Seine Inf.
  Roumois                               Seine Inf.
  Pays du Val                           Seine Inf.
  Vexin Normand                         Eure


III.

DUKES OF NORMANDY

  Rollon                                     912-927
  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
  Mathilde                                 1135-1150
  Henri II. (Plantagenet)                  1150-1189
  Richard (Cœur de Lion)                   1189-1199
  Jean-Sans-Terre                          1199-1204


IV.

THE METRIC SYSTEM

METRICAL AND ENGLISH WEIGHTS AND MEASURES

  Mètre = 39.3708 in. = 3.231.    3 ft. 3½ in. = 1.0936 yard.
  Square Mètre (mètre carré) = 1⅕th square yards (1.196).
  Are (or 100 sq. mètres) = 119.6 square yards.
  Cubic Mètre (or Stere) = 35½ cubic feet.
  Centimètre = ⅖ths inch.
  Kilomètre = 1,093 yards = 5/8 mile.
  10 Kilomètres = 6¼ miles.
  100 Kilomètres = 62⅒th miles.
  Square Kilomètre = ⅖ths square mile.
  Hectare = 2½ acres (2.471).
  100 Hectares = 247.1 acres.
  Gramme = 15½ grains (15.432).
  10 Grammes = 1/3d oz. Avoirdupois.
  15 Grammes = ½ oz. Avoirdupois.
  Kilogramme = 2⅕th lbs. (2.204) Avoirdupois.
  10 Kilogrammes = 22 lbs. Avoirdupois.
  Metrical Quintal = 220½ lbs. Avoirdupois.
  Tonneau = 2,200 lbs. Avoirdupois.
  Litre = 0.22 gal. = 1¾ pint.
  Hectolitre = 22 gallons.

[Illustration: _Comparative Metric Scale_]


ENGLISH AND METRICAL WEIGHTS AND MEASURES

  Inch = 2.539 centimètres = 25.39 millimètres.
  2 inches = 5 centimètres nearly.
  Foot = 30.47 centimètres.
  Yard = 0.9141 mètre.
  12 yards = 11 mètres nearly.
  Mile = 1.609 kilomètre.
  Square foot = 0.093 mètre carré.
  Square yard = 0.836 mètre carré.
  Acre = 0.4046 hectare = 4,003 sq. mètres nearly.
  2½ acres = 1 hectare nearly.
  Pint = 0.5679 litre.
  1¾ pint = 1 litre nearly.
  Gallon = 4.5434 litres = 4 nearly.
  Bushel = 36.347 litres.
  Oz. Troy = 31.103 grammes.
  Pound Troy (5,760 grains) = 373.121 grammes.
  Oz. Avoirdupois = 8.349 grammes.
  Pound Avoirdupois (7,000 grains) = 453.592 grammes.
  2 lbs. 3 oz. = kilogramme nearly.
  100 lbs. = 45.359 kilogrammes.
  Cwt. = 50.802 kilogrammes.
  Ton = 1,018.048 kilogrammes.


V.

1. Itinerary of Normandy by Chemin de Fer de l’Ouest, from Paris, Gare
St. Lazare.

[Illustration: 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,

                                 St-Lo

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.

[Illustration: 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.


VI.

[Illustration: _Profile Map of Normandy_]


VII.

[Illustration: _THE COAST OF NORMANDY_]


VIII.

[Illustration: NATURAL CURIOSITIES _of NORMANDY_]


IX.

[Illustration: ARCHITECTURAL CURIOSITIES _of NORMANDY_]


X.

[Illustration: _ROAD MAP NORMANDY COAST_]


XI.

[Illustration: _Road Map The Seine Valley_]


XII.

[Illustration: _ROAD MAP ACROSS NORMANDY_]



INDEX OF PLACES


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}





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