A Travellerspoint blog

France

Norwegian Breakaway

Le Havre and Honfleur

sunny 58 °F

Last night we zipped across the English Channel and arrive in the major shipping port of Le Havre. While many folks headed off to the Normandy Beaches and Paris, we chose to visit the wonderful little fishing village of Honfleur, right across the Seine from Le Havre.

It is especially known for its old, beautiful picturesque port, characterized by its houses with slate-covered frontages, painted many times by artists, including in particular Gustave Courbet, Eugène Boudin, Claude Monet and Johan Jongkind, forming the école de Honfleur (Honfleur school) which contributed to the appearance of the Impressionist movement. The Sainte-Catherine church, which has a bell tower separate from the principal building, is the largest church made out of wood in France. At the end of the Hundred Years' War, Honfleur benefited from the boom in maritime trade until the end of the 18th century. Trade was disturbed during the wars of religion in the 16th century. The port saw the departure of a number of explorers, in particular in 1503 of Binot Paulmierde Gonneville to the coasts of Brazil. In 1506, local man Jean Denis departed for Newfoundland island and the mouth of the Saint Lawrence. An expedition in 1608, organised by Samuel de Champlain, founded the city of Quebec in modern-day Canada.

Tonight we sail to Southampton, where we head back home tomorrow. NCL did a great job! I look forward to sailing on their new ships again!

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Posted by rpickett 09:41 Archived in France Tagged honfleur Comments (0)

Munich and the Rhine

Kehl and Strasbourg

sunny 66 °F

After cruising for the afternoon and early evening, we tied up in Kehl Germany, right across the river from the wonderful town of Strasbourg France.

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Before the 5th century, the city was known as Argantorati, a Celtic Gaulish name Latinized first as Argentorate , and then as Argentoratum. That Gaulish name is a compound of -rati, the Gaulish word for fortified enclosures, cognate to the Old Irish ráth , and arganto(n) the Gaulish word for silver, but also any precious metal, particularly gold, suggesting either a fortified enclosure located by a river gold mining site, or hoarding gold mined in the nearby rivers. After the 5h century, the city became known by a completely different name Gallicized as Strasbourg . Gregory of Tours was the first to mention the name change: in the tenth book of his History of the Franks written shortly after 590 he said that Egidius, Bishop of Reims, accused of plotting against King Childebert II of Austrasia in favor of his uncle King Chilperic I of Neustria, was tried by a synod of Austrasian bishops in Metz in November 590, found guilty and removed from the priesthood, then taken "ad Argentoratensem urbem, quam nunc Strateburgum vocant" ("to the city of Argentoratum, which they now call Strateburgus"), where he was exiled. Strasbourg's historic city centre, the Grande Île (Grand Island), was classified a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988, the first time such an honour was placed on an entire city centre. Strasbourg is immersed in the Franco-German culture and although violently disputed throughout history, has been a cultural bridge between France and Germany for centuries, especially through the University of Strasbourg, currently the second largest in France, and the coexistence of Catholic and Protestant culture. The largest Islamic place of worship in France, the Strasbourg Grand Mosque, was inaugurated by French Interior Minister Manuel Valls on 27 September 2012.

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Strasbourg is also the home of a wonderful Cathedral. Strasbourg Cathedral de Notre-Dame is known as one of the most beautiful gothic cathedrals in Europe. The Cathedral stands on the exact site of a roman temple built on a little hill above the muddy ground. The first version of the church was starting to be built during 1015 by proposal of Bishop Werner von Habsburg, but fire destroyed most of the original Romanesque building. By the time that cathedral was being renovated (at the end of the 12th century, this time with red stones carried from the nearby mountains of Vosges), the gothic architectural style has reached Alsace and the future cathedral was starting to develop all characteristics of gothic aesthetics. The project of the first cathedral in Alsace was handed to craftsman and stonemasons who had already worked on the also famous gothic cathedral in Chartres. The cathedral greatly contributes to the history of Gothic sculpture. The façade of the southern cross bar is decorated with the famous Church and Synagogue from the same workshop than produced the remarkable inside pillar of the Angels (1230-1250). While previous façades were certainly drawn prior to construction, Strasbourg has one of the earliest façades whose construction is inconceivable without prior drawing. The statues, dating from the 13th to the 15th century, located above the triple portal of the Gothic façade, depict the Prophets, the Wise and Mad virgins and the Virtues and Vices.
Inside, it is possible to admire the high Gothic styled baptistery made by Dotzinger (1453), the magnificent pulpit decorated with numerous statuettes sculpted by Hans Hammer in 1485, the Mount of Olives in the northern transept by Nicolas Roeder (1498), and the St. Lawrence's portal dating from the middle Ages.

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Posted by rpickett 08:29 Archived in France Tagged strasbourg Comments (1)

Switzerland and the Rhine

Strasbourg France

sunny 72 °F

After a mid night departure, we continued our voyage into the heart of Alsace, the 4th of the 26 regions of France. Alsace is derived from German and means "seated on the Ill River". Our tour today was through Strasbourg city to the old town. Strasbourg is the home of several European institutions including the Council of Europe and the European Parliament. The port of Strasbourg is the second busiest on the Rhine. The city center or Grande Ile was designated a world heritage site in 1988, the first city center to receive this designation. In addition to some wonderful architecture, the highlight is the Cathedral Notre Dame du Strasbourg and its famous astronomical clock. Again it was a perfect fall day!
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Posted by rpickett 08:20 Archived in France Tagged strasbourg Comments (0)

Switzerland and the Rhine

Breisach, Germany

sunny 70 °F

Our first stop on the voyage was at Breisach Germany, a quaint little town of just over 16,000 inhabitants. We ended up on a tour to Riquewihr France, one of the most beautiful villages in France in the middle of the Alsace region. The weather was perfect which produced some great colors in the French wine vineyards. This village is more than 400 years old, and largely escaped the ravages of World War II. You can wander the streets and get a great picture of life in the 16th century.
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Posted by rpickett 08:00 Archived in France Tagged riquewihr Comments (0)

Paris and the Seine

Photo Album

My photo album of this great trip is done! Click Normandy and Paris to view the album!

Posted by rpickett 06:56 Archived in France Comments (0)

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