Troyes – A Taste of Late Mediaeval France

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We are on our way back to Blois from our cycling holiday in Germany and are looking for a stopover in France. There is nothing interesting midway but Troyes is about 3/5 of the way which is fine. We book a hotel that is a bit higher than German prices but seems to be well located.

The rood-screen in the church of Saint Madeleine as you enter the church

The rood-screen in the church of Saint Madeleine as you enter the church

We have been to Troyes already several times and I particularly want to go back to see the rood screen in one of the churches, after seeing one recently in Tübingen in Germany. Much of the city’s architecture also corresponds to more or less the same period of history that dominates the towns in Germany that we have just visited.

The parking lot in front of Conforama with our hotel on the right (white building)

The parking lot in front of Conforama with our hotel on the right (white building)

I’m a little nonplussed when I see the hotel, which is a Kyriad, a chain we have never used before. It’s three stars so I figured it would be like a Mercure. It looks very modern and ugly. Still, we only want a bed. It’s next to Conforama, a furniture chain. There is a bike path just in front of the hotel so we can’t even pull up there. Jean Michel waits in the Conforama parking lot while I go in. The girl at reception is friendly enough but does not seem to have learned to rules of polite conversation. “Do you want a bill or what?” she asks the person before me in French.

Our bedroom at the Kyriad

Our bedroom at the Kyriad

There is an extra charge for underground parking which I didn’t see on booking.com. The receptionist tells me we can park for free at Conforama which has cameras operating all night so I choose that. When we get up to the room, I decide I am striking Kyriad off my list forever. It is just too ugly and shoddy.

Some beautifully renovated half-timber houses in Troyes

Some beautifully renovated half-timber houses in Troyes

After resting from the 5-hour drive, we walk into the old town, which really is only 10 minutes away. The first thing we see is a set of beautifully renovated half-timbered houses that we don’t remember seeing before. Troyes, with its rich history, has a large number of 16th and 17th century Renaissance-style half-timbered houses that have gradually been restored since the 1990s, especially in rue Passerat.

Troyes Cathedral

Troyes Cathedral

Next, the cathedral, which I certainly don’t remember.

The main square at 5 pm on a Saturday in summer

The main square at 5 pm on a Saturday in summer

I do remember the main square, Place Maréchal Foch, but it was not this animated on our previous visits. We don’t think we’ve ever been here during the summer. Everybody looks are though they are enjoying themselves.

Saint Madeleine's from the outside

Saint Madeleine’s from the outside

We head down the main street which is full of restaurants until we find Ruelle aux Chats on the right, which leads to Saint Madeleine’s church which has the rood-screen. The nave of this gothic church, which claims to be the oldest in Troyes, was built in the 13th century, while the chancel and apse were built in the 16th century and the tower in the 17th century. It is one of the rare churches to have preserved its Renaissance stone rood-screen finely sculpted by Jehan Gailde.

The rood-screen from the back

The rood-screen from the chancel

It is as magnificent as I remember. There is only one person in the church so we are able to take plenty of photos.

The painted wood calvary in Saint Madeleine church probably dates from the mid 16th century

The painted wood calvary in Saint Madeleine church probably dates from the mid 16th century

I particularly like the gold-painted calvary on one side of the rood-screen.

Stained glass window in the church of Saint Madeleine

Early 16th century stained glass window in the church of Saint Madeleine

The ambulatory has a magnificent set of beautifully-coloured stained glass windows from the same period (around 1500) that show considerable technical skill.

The view from the terrace of the restaurant

The view of Saint John’s church from the terrace of the restaurant taken earlier

After visiting the church we join the throng on the main square for an aperitif. We then have dinner in a street parallel to the main restaurant street. What I didn’t see is that our restaurant has a terrace on the other side which means that there are a lot of customers and obviously not enough kitchen staff! Our meal takes a very long time to come. But it doesn’t matter – we’re not in a hurry.

Saint Rémi, rebuilt in the 14th century is thought to be one of the oldest churches in Troyes, despite its more modern look. The fresco was painted in 1772.

Saint Rémi, rebuilt in the 14th century is thought to be one of the oldest churches in Troyes, despite its more modern look. The fresco was painted in 1772.

Next morning, after a good night’s sleep (at least the beds are comfortable), we leave our ugly hotel (the man on reception has more personal skills than the girl yesterday) and walk into the centre for breakfast as neither of us wants to have it at the hotel.

The main square on a Sunday morning

The main square on a Sunday morning with not a soul in sight

Visiting Troyes on a Sunday morning is a different experience. There is practically no one around and I am able to take more photographs. It’s even quite difficult to find somewhere for breakfast.

Half-timbered houses on the other side of the square from Saint John's

Half-timbered houses on the other side of the square from Saint John’s

We go past the church of Saint Jean in front of which there is plaque dedicated to Marguerite Boureoys, the founder of public schooling in Montreal and “apostle of French culture in Canada” born on 17 April 1620 in one of the nearby houses and baptized the same day in the church. She died in Quebec in 1700, was beatified in 1950 and canonized in 1982 as the first female saint of Canada. If you would like to know more about her very interesting life, click here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marguerite_Bourgeoys

Troyes City Hall built during the second half of the 17th century

Troyes City Hall built during the second half of the 17th century

We finally have breakfast looking out onto the main square, with the Town Hall on the left and some of Troyes’ colourful old half-timbered houses on the left.

Our breakfast view of typical painted half-timbered houses in Troyes

Our breakfast view of typical painted half-timbered houses in Troyes

Our return to the car takes us past the Haute-Seine canal next to the 27-km long 3-meter wide asphalt bike path joining up nine of the surrounding villages. It’s part of a route that will eventually take cyclists to Paris. We regret that we didn’t try it out the previous day.

A delightfully pink house!

A delightfully pink house!

We discover the very attractive fountain in front of the Préfecture (Troyes is the “capital” of the Aube département, one of France’s 96 administrative divisions).

The fountain and préfecture

The fountain and préfecture

Oh, and I nearly forgot to say that the old town of Troyes, which is part of the Champagne region, is in the shape of a champagne cork!

The Voie Verte bike route

The Voie Verte bike route

Troyes, once a thriving drapery centre, is also known for its outlet stores – McArthur Glen, Marques Avenue and Marques City http://www.troyesmagusine.com/ – which we visited many times in the past until they were developed in the Paris region. However, now that we no longer live in Paris and Jean Michel is retired, our vestimentary requirements have changed and we do our clothes shopping during the sales in nearby Tours.

AllAboutFranceBadge_bisThis post is my August contribution to Lou Messugo’s All About France link-up. For other posts about France, click here.

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7 Responses to Troyes – A Taste of Late Mediaeval France

  1. The cathedral is quite a beauty!
    William Kendall recently posted…The Building Of The War MemorialMy Profile

  2. Helen says:

    What a beautiful city – cathedral, architecture and fountain. I’m quite often affronted by pink houses but this one is as you said, delightful. Except for your accommodation, a lovely conclusion to your holiday.
    Helen recently posted…Nature’s Beach Patterns and ColourMy Profile

  3. I hate those sneaky charges – shame on them. Beautiful town though! looks like something straight out of a movie 🙂 #allaboutfrance

  4. Lorri says:

    What a lovely town! I think I should like to visit there!

  5. Gosh, wow, wonderful – I have heard Troyes is something rather special and now I can see that it is. One day I will make it there but it is a bit of a trek from Normandy. #AllAboutFrance

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