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Spring 2022

Discover Paris in the spring, Caen in Normandy and its marvellous markets plus Yvoire, a picturesque village on the edge of Lake Geneva in Haute-Savoie. Explore Saint-Omer, a historic city in the far north that's full of secrets and treasures, and Evian, where Frankenstein's monster stayed! Head with us to Metz in Lorraine to find out about its incredible past, La Couvertoirade, one of the prettiest villages in France, and the UNESCO heritage of Avignon. Guides, gorgeous photos, what's new in France, the best tours and delicious recipes from the legendary Le Nôtre bakery in Paris - and more.

Discover Paris in the spring, Caen in Normandy and its marvellous markets plus Yvoire, a picturesque village on the edge of Lake Geneva in Haute-Savoie. Explore Saint-Omer, a historic city in the far north that's full of secrets and treasures, and Evian, where Frankenstein's monster stayed! Head with us to Metz in Lorraine to find out about its incredible past, La Couvertoirade, one of the prettiest villages in France, and the UNESCO heritage of Avignon. Guides, gorgeous photos, what's new in France, the best tours and delicious recipes from the legendary Le Nôtre bakery in Paris - and more.

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The Jesuit Chapel

Next door to the library, the Jesuit Chapel

was built from 1615 to 1640 by Jean du Blocq

(1583-1656), a Jesuit architect who also

designed the Cathedral of Luxembourg. He

was inspired by Gesù, the Jesuit church in

Rome, combined with Gothic style. It’s here

that Founding Fathers Charles Carroll, signer

of the Declaration of Independence, Daniel

Carroll, one of the Constitution’s two authors,

and John Carroll who became America’s first

Catholic Bishop and founder of Georgetown

University, spent many years studying. It’s now

used as a performance and cultural venue,

though is currently undergoing a restoration.

Abbey of Saint-Bertin

By the neo-classical train station of Saint-

Omer, one of the most beautiful in France

and a listed historic monument, you’ll find

the remains of Saint Bertin’s Abbey. Sadly

destroyed during the French Revolution, it was

at this location on the edge of the marsh that

a Swiss monk called Omer, sent to become

Bishop of nearby Thérouanne in 637, founded

an abbey in what was known then as Sitiu. It

became the Abbey of Saint Bertin, named

after one of Omer’s helpers, while the town

that grew up around it became Saint-Omer.

The abbey was expanded over the years and

was updated to the Gothic style now evident

in the ruins.

It was here in 1165 that Thomas Beckett who

became a Saint, sought refuge from Henry

II. The abbey became so important that a

prince’s quarters was built for visiting Kings

and Queens. Francis 1 came here on his way

to the Field of the Cloth of Gold Summit with

Henry VIII in nearby Guînes. Historians believe

that Anne Boleyn may also have been there

in the retinue of Queen Claude, wife of King

France, though no one knows if she met Henry

VIII at this time. Coincidentially, it was from

Saint-Omer that Henry VIII later sought a

swordsman to lop off poor Anne’s head.

Louis XIV also came here in 1677 when Saint-

Omer, which had been under Spanish rule,

was taken back by the French. He visited the

floating islands of the marshes that surround

the town, famous even then. In fact he was

so impressed he returned three years later

with the entire royal family and the court

and stayed at the Governor’s Hotel at the

spot where the Sandelin Museum now is. The

people of Saint-Omer marked his first visit

with an inscription on the grand doors to the

Cathedral, which is still there. Louis rewarded

the town by having his engineer Vauban

reinforce the rampart walls which now encircle

a beautiful park.

The Good Life France | 31

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