Monday, June 1, 2015

L'Être suprême

Leaving the south of France our group visited Rodez and settled down for the evening in Clermont-Ferrand, home of the famous Michelin tire company.


When entering Rodez from the west the view on the mighty Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame is impressive.

Cathedral of Notre Dame in Rodez

As you would expect: Saint Mary everywhere

The annunciation: Hail, thou that art
highly favoured, the Lord is with thee:
blessed art thou among women
This is Saint Elisabeth of Hungary
lying to her husband by displaying roses
instead of the bread she gave to the poor
The window in Elisabeth's chapel shows from
bottom to top: The capture of French troopes at
Dunkerque 1940, as POWs sent to work in
 STALAG VI C (Stammlager, i.e., main camp),
liberation under the Tricolor with the dove, the
Holy Ghost, symbol of hope and faith on top.
This window called
Genesis in water

I regarded as
an attempt to reconcile creation
with evolution. An audacious
display in a Catholic church.
Tired by all the impressions I settled down in a cafe at Rodez's central square and market place for an aperitif. The yellow stuff guests were drinking at the other tables intrigued me. It was a local gentian schnapps. Following a lively conversation with people from Rodez and a second gentian I wanted to pay but those friendly Ruthénois, as the inhabitants of Rodez are called, had paid the bill already. Vive l'hospitalité francaise!

A gentian schnapps

Red Baron's frugal but tasty lunch in one of the bistros at the market place


Clairmont-Ferrand is the city of Michelin, the famous inventor and maker of tires. From our hotel we walked to the Cathedral Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, passing on the way the Romanesque Basilica Notre-Dame du Port.

Notre-Dame du Port seen from a courtyard

The interior of the Romanesque basilica is even more impressive than the outside

The Cathedral Notre-Dame de l'Assomption seen from the roof of our hotel

Pope Urban II started it all in Clermont in front of the cathedral
on November 27, 1095, when he called for the First Crusade.

The Gothic interior of  Notre-Dame de l'Assumption
A Poor Man's Bible in the form of stained-glass windows for the many illiterates in the Middle Ages. From bottom to top:
Annunciation, Visitation of Mary, Birth of Jesus, Angels announcing Christ's birth to the shepherds, Adoration of the child by the shepherds, The Three Magi contemplating the guiding star, The Magi before King Herod, Adoration of the Child by the Three Magi.

Are we not back to to icons and Emojis nowadays?

Stained-glass windows as Biblia pauperum
During the French Revolution: The proclamation of the Supreme Being at a side entrance of the cathedral: The French people recognize the Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul.

Where did the poor souls of all those people guillotined end up?
Once more French genius impressed me. I remember that during the oil crises the slogan: We French have no oil but ideas was popular. Here comes one of those strokes of genius: the tramway in Clermont-Ferrand. It is simple: Take a bus, guide it by a metallic rail and place the vehicle below one overhead line. No heavy rail construction is necessary, no double catenary as in the case of a trolley-bus is required since the guiding rail in the ground serves as the return conductor. In addition, the tramway smoothly and silently runs on tires, local Michelin oblige.

Clermont-Ferrand's tramway 

On our way back home we made a stop at Chalon-sur-Saône. It was the time of the morning market but two other items caught my attention instead:

Molière et la Ménagère at the Place du Théâtre by Philippe de Lanouvelle
Nicéphore Niépcy, the inventor of photography, was born in Chalon-sur-Saône
Red Baron wanted to visit Nicéphore Niépcy's Museum
but our tour coach in the back signalled me to hurry up.

This ends the tetralogy about my visit to the cathedrals down south:

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