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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<br />

Next door to the library, the Jesuit Chapel<br />

was built from 1615 to 1640 by Jean du Blocq<br />

(1583-1656), a Jesuit architect who also<br />

designed the Cathedral of Luxembourg. He<br />

was inspired by Gesù, the Jesuit church in<br />

Rome, combined with Gothic style. It’s here<br />

that Founding Fathers Charles Carroll, signer<br />

of the Declaration of Independence, Daniel<br />

Carroll, one of the Constitution’s two authors,<br />

and John Carroll who became America’s first<br />

Catholic Bishop and founder of Georgetown<br />

University, spent many years studying. It’s now<br />

used as a performance and cultural venue,<br />

though is currently undergoing a restoration.<br />

Abbey of Saint-Bertin<br />

By the neo-classical train station of Saint-<br />

Omer, one of the most beautiful in France<br />

and a listed historic monument, you’ll find<br />

the remains of Saint Bertin’s Abbey. Sadly<br />

destroyed during the French Revolution, it was<br />

at this location on the edge of the marsh that<br />

a Swiss monk called Omer, sent to become<br />

Bishop of nearby Thérouanne in 637, founded<br />

an abbey in what was known then as Sitiu. It<br />

became the Abbey of Saint Bertin, named<br />

after one of Omer’s helpers, while the town<br />

that grew up around it became Saint-Omer.<br />

The abbey was expanded over the years and<br />

was updated to the Gothic style now evident<br />

in the ruins.<br />

It was here in 1165 that Thomas Beckett who<br />

became a Saint, sought refuge from Henry<br />

II. The abbey became so important that a<br />

prince’s quarters was built for visiting Kings<br />

and Queens. Francis 1 came here on his way<br />

to the Field of the Cloth of Gold Summit with<br />

Henry VIII in nearby Guînes. Historians believe<br />

that Anne Boleyn may also have been there<br />

in the retinue of Queen Claude, wife of King<br />

France, though no one knows if she met Henry<br />

VIII at this time. Coincidentially, it was from<br />

Saint-Omer that Henry VIII later sought a<br />

swordsman to lop off poor Anne’s head.<br />

Louis XIV also came here in 1677 when Saint-<br />

Omer, which had been under Spanish rule,<br />

was taken back by the French. He visited the<br />

floating islands of the marshes that surround<br />

the town, famous even then. In fact he was<br />

so impressed he returned three years later<br />

with the entire royal family and the court<br />

and stayed at the Governor’s Hotel at the<br />

spot where the Sandelin Museum now is. The<br />

people of Saint-Omer marked his first visit<br />

with an inscription on the grand doors to the<br />

Cathedral, which is still there. Louis rewarded<br />

the town by having his engineer Vauban<br />

reinforce the rampart walls which now encircle<br />

a beautiful park.<br />

The Good Life France | 31

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