Saturday, 13 July 2013

Malestroit and Le Château Suscinio, Brittany

Malestroit has a navigable canal running beside the town where it is possible to hire boats and explore the waterways. The canal links the two cities of Nantes and Brest from coast to coast through inland Brittany. Built during the 19th century it has 238 locks and its total length is 385 km. The mill in Malestroit sits alongside the weir taking full advantage of the gushing water.
All of these photos were taken late in the evening when we visited Malestroit to hear an open air music concert in the town square.
More time should have been spent in the town. The church and many of the houses are covered in amusing carvings - an anxious bagpipe playing hare looking over its shoulder - little devils with their tongues sticking out, the outside of the church being decorated with drunkards, acrobats, and torturing demons.
 Château de Suscinio
Suscinio château - built during the 13th to 15th centuries has mainly preserved its original characteristics. It was classified as an historic monument in 1840, and since 1965 has been the property of the Département du Morbihan, which has been carrying out restoration work It's finest hours were during the 13th - 15th centuries when it was one of the favourite residences of the Dukes of Brittany. 
Built initially as a manor, it was slowly altered and enlarged to become the great fortress that can be seen today. In the late 15th century Suscinio was abandoned in favour of Château de Nantes, but by the end of the 18th century Suscinio had fallen into serious disrepair. It was sold to a private individual who used it as a stone quarry!!!
Fireplace with view up and garderobe with view down!!!
The Duke's private stairway
Doth m'lady await the return of her Duke?
At the top of the château private terraces adjoin the Duke's apartment giving access to fresh air and recreation without being observed. From such a high vantage point the Duke and his entourage could also view the surrounding landscape and seascape beyond the château in case of attack.
Young archaeologists currently working at the Château.

62 comments:

  1. I think that your second shot is one of the best I have ever seen on your blog. Congratulations.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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  2. There is much more to Brittany than I thought. It's a region I've never visited and I think that must change. Your pictures are lovely.

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    1. I think that there are two ferries that travel from Plymouth to Brittany so why not give it a try? Thanks for your visit.

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  3. Dear Rosemary,

    It's so interesting to see how a medieval duke would have lived, and the secluded terraces must have been been treasured in a hectic and uncertain life.

    The funny carvings remind me of my favorite gargoyle at the National Cathedral, in Washington, D. C. It's a tourist in hair curlers, and I've always thought that the stone carvers actually saw such a person in the cathedral!

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    1. The day we visited the château was very warm, but the terrace was lovely and cool being high up.
      Yes, you are right - I believe that stone and wood carvers have had fun with their work over many centuries - may be at others expense!!!

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  4. Hi Rosemary,
    I'm loving those photos a lot. :)
    From: Bea Cupcake

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    1. You must get your mother and father to take you there when you are in FranceX

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  5. WWII Rosemary, I enjoy visiting Medieval towns like these in France. It seems there's so many History around. It's great that they are able to preserve it. Those carving are amusing especially those little devils and those men with their tongues out . Have a wonderful weekend. Pamela

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    1. Dear Pamela - lots to see and do in Brittany - I do like the way the French decorate their towns with lots of flowers everywhere - good for photos too.

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  6. Such an interesting post Rosemary,
    What a shame the castle was left in disrepair. Its like some of our old castles here.
    This post is a coincidence.. My eldest grandchild.. Josie now 17.. is spending one month in Brest.
    Its part of the Swiss school carriculum . She was complaining on skype the other day..that we were all having a good time without her. But Its improving her French.
    I think i mentioned that Nina and I passed through Brittany some many years ago.. its a beautiful place.
    France is a lovely country.
    your photos are great.. love the old houses and all the stories of the devil's faces and animals.
    val x

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    1. Dear Val - in years to come Josie will be pleased that her French is good after living in Brest. My two granddaughters in Norway are going to live in Paris at the beginning of August for five years.
      If we had followed the road signs for Brest we would not have ended up in the centre of the city of Rennes as per my first post on Brittany!!!

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  7. I do love canals and your photos with the summer flowers overlooking the water are magic. What a beautiful place to spend an evening or a lot longer too I would imagine:)

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    1. Dear Jane - thank you for your visit and kind comment which I appreciate very much.

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  8. Dear Rosemary, Thank you for sharing your stunning photos of Brittany, an area of which I know nothing - but I am learning from you! Malestroit looks very appealing with all the carvings - I love the cute hare - but I have never understood the reason why devils and other naughty characters were carved on the outside of churches. The Chateau is a wonderful historic building and so outrageous it has been used as a quarry, but then I know that has happened in the past in many places. So good to see the young archeologists there - I would have loved to do that when I was young!

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    1. Dear Patricia - the grotesque carvings, amusing to our eye, were viewed in two ways by the church throughout history. Primarily they conveyed the concept of evil - a stark message to the common people, most of whom were illiterate. They were also said to scare away evil spirits from the churches and houses. However, some medieval clergy did view them as a form of idolatry. Sometimes I think that the stone and wood carvers themselves were having fun.
      My eldest granddaughter is studying anthropology and archeology at Oxford and is in her final year. She loves it.

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  9. I've enjoyed this lovely walk with you. Everything looks beautiful in the evening sunshine. Thanks for all of your beautiful photos and interesting descriptions which you share with us Rosemary. I'm learning much.
    Hope you are enjoying a warm/hot week-end. Betty

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    1. Dear Betty - thank you for your very kind message - I sometimes wonder whether my posts are too overloaded, so thank you for the reassurance. Very, very hot here, a bit too much for me - I will stay in the shade.

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  10. Looks a lovely place.. I love the carvings x

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    1. Thank you Penny - have you been away?

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  11. Lovely wooden faces ;O). I like those old, grey stone walls. Looks like a beautiful place. Happy Sunday, Rosemary!

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    1. Thank you Satu - glad you enjoyed seeing the carvings - do not work too hard in your garden today - have a little relaxation too.

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  12. My husband is fascinated by the English canals and would love to one day hire a boat and travel them. The chateau would be amazing to explore and learn of in detail.

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    1. Dear Karen - I am sure that you realise that this canal is in France, but equally we have some wonderful ones in the UK. The way to explore the English ones is to hire a traditional canal longboat which are very easy to learn how to operate, and then off you go - sleep on it, eat on it or find little pubs for a meal - great fun.

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  13. One of those staircases again with the rope :)
    Love the petunias makes a lovely photo great.

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    1. Sharp eyes - the municipal gardeners in France really make their cities, towns and villages look most attractive with baskets and troughs of flowers everywhere.

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    1. Thank you very much Erwin - glad you liked them.

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  15. Very interesting and beautiful pictures! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Lisa - it is always interesting, I find, to see how other countries do things and learn their history.

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  16. Great pictures Rosemary ! These old buildings must be cared thoroughly from the state . Thank you for sharing !Have a nice week !

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    1. These buildings hold so much history it would be a crime to let them become ruined - fortunately Suscinio château is now in safe hands.

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  17. How very special to share the same wedding Anniversary...congratulations my friend..and thank you for your kind words
    Thea x

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    1. Funnily enough we also share our anniversary with Sarah at Down at the Sea.

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  18. Dear Rosemary,

    We have been to Brittany several times, but we must have been in another part of the province. I enjoyed your photo's of Josselin and the impressive castle at Scuscinio. A place to remember when next there!

    Happy new week,

    Madelief

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    1. I am sure that you would enjoy that area Madelief - France is such a big big country, and even Brittany itself is very large.

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  19. What a gorgeous place, Rosemary: I love those geads looking out of the thatch.

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    1. I do recall Kate, that you are rather partial to grotesques!!!

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  20. I adore carvings, grotesques and gargoyles, so I loved seeing these. I always wonder, too, if the carvers were having fun depicting local people. We've collected and had special carvings done here, and there's always room for more! The chateau is impressive, too. I wonder what the archaeologists will find?

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    1. Dear Wendy I am sure that you must have shown your carvings on your blog - I shall have to have a little exploration on it to find them. The archaeologists were lovely friendly young people and were excavating what had been the kitchens.

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  21. Dear Rosemary, Your photographs are always so diverse and most interesting. Exactly what an armchair traveler needs to get motivated to experience for themselves. I love the photograph of the village scene in the roundel. The colors are so harmonious, something only age can produce. Have a wonderful week. ox, Gina

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    1. Dear Gina - you are always so very very generous with your kind comments - thank you. Standing on the pretty bridge and looking towards the town so late in the evening was beautiful. As you mentioned, the harmonious skyline - its shapes and colours, stems from the towns ancient history.

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  22. It seems in this case neglect proved advantageous in preserving the Suscinio château. It conveys so much information about the time, plus a hint to the character of the first owner. Pure imagination but I sense the duke met his beloved in the terrace, far from prying eyes.

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    1. I had similar thoughts myself Susan - wouldn't it have been fun to have been a fly on the wall?

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  23. Dear Rosemary,
    Wow-- such a fascinating place! I think the next time we're in France, we'll HAVE to add Brittany to the itinerary... In fact, I think I could use your blog as a travel-planning tool, as this isn't the first time I've felt a strong inclination to go where you've gone!!! :) I especially loved the hare-piper....What fun!
    Warm regards,
    Erika

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    1. Dear Erika - I don't think you could go far wrong with much of Brittany - I still have two more posts to come - good job I wasn't there for longer.

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  24. Lovely lovely post Rosemary and beautiful photos. We've just arrived back from Brittany ourselves where we stayed at Plougourvest near Landivisiau with friends who live there. Wonderful place to visit.
    Patricia x

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    1. Dear Patricia - glad to learn that you have had a good trip to Brittany, and hopefully you will be showing us some photos from your holiday. I am sure that the weather this past week has been very hot in Brittany too - perfect for getting your holiday washing all dried and aired.

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  25. I always enjoy your posts and learn something new and interesting, rosemary. What impressed me most in this lovely post is various different carvings. They are amusing as you wrote, add more charms and fantasy, and made me wonder what are the purpose of these.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - In the medieval period the grotesques were primarily there to convey the concept of evil - a stark message to the common people, most of whom were illiterate but had a powerful belief in God. They were also said to scare away evil spirits from the churches and houses. With some of the more amusing ones it is considered that the stone and wood carvers were simple expressing their own sense of humour and fun.

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  26. Dear Rosemary,
    i always enyoy seeing your wonderful pictures and all those amazing places you visit! Suscinio château looks gorgeous!Thanks for sharing!
    Have a lovely week!
    Dimi...

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    1. Château de Suscinio stands in a rather lovely spot right on the edge of the salt marshes and the sea. It would be a lovely place to visit with children as it would really stimulate their imagination.

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  27. Hello Rosemary, First let me apologize for getting so behind in my comments. I have been thoroughly enjoying your series on Brittany, and perhaps have been studying your recent photos a bit more that usual, trying to learn something of your technique.

    The photos here of the old stone buildings with the bright flowers in the foreground are absolutely stunning. I am also a big fan of the photos showing mysterious passageways and other architectural features.
    --Jim

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    1. Dear Jim - a very generous comment from you, but I am no expert with photographs. The only tip I could give is that sometimes, if not mostly, it is good idea to cut your photos down when you see them on the computer. In that way you actually zoom in much more on what you intended to be the focus. The photos with the flowers in the foreground were in troughs on the bridge over the canal. Generally other people were lifting up their cameras and taking the river and buildings but by crouching slightly I got the flowers too, thus framing the photo and adding colour. Hope that this helps.
      Are you still in the States.

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  28. As always superb photos, Rosemary and I'm very much enjoying these glimpses of our neighbouring region. Those are stunning fortifications and the use as a stone quarry is typical of revolutionary and post-revolutionary France, as it was of post-dissolution treatment of the British monasteries.

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    1. Dear Perpetua - you are correct, wander around any small town in Britain with a ruined castle or monastery and it is possible to see the remains of them used in the local dwellings and garden walls. I wonder if you know the history of the stone used in your own little Normandy cottage?

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    2. I don't think it has any history, Rosemary, since it's mostly very ordinary, barely-shaped field stone, with only the quoins and door and window reveals in local granite. However a friend of ours has a small house with the most enormous carved Normandy fireplace in the living room, quite obviously taken from elsewhere - probably the ruins of a local chateau of which nothing now remains.

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    3. Thanks for taking the trouble to reply Perpetua - today I have been on the hunt for apricots, would you believe. At the moment they are rather expensive, probably a bit early, but will keep my eyes open. I am hoping that somewhere like Lidl might get some in.

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