St. Hilaire Poiters

Hotel Mercure Poiters

Poitiers is a small city on a hill above a bend in the Clain River, a tributary of the larger River Vienne.

We drove up the hill from the river to our hotel and found Poitiers, a city of tidy and lovely buildings. The feeling is of a small town with University facilities everywhere; a bit larger than Cambridge, MA, and on a hill. The Mercure Hotel where we stayed was created out of a closed 19th century Gothic Revival church. The reuse of the church is certainly preferable to the demolition of Gothic revival churches we have seen recently in France (and in the US).

The hotel nave has been converted to the restaurant space and sports an added set of insect-like legs supporting floors above. Quite an unusual arrangement. Food blog from our visit is linked here

In Poitiers the church of St. Hilaire is a must see. We walked down the Rue de la Tranchee and approached the church down a nondescript residential street, coming suddenly upon the apse with its crown of round chapels.

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The entrance front of St Hilaris features exquisite Romanesque Sculpture beginning with Adam and Eve on the left. The statues were all defaced either by the Protestants or in the French Revolution including the 14 above

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The interior was restored after the Revolution, much of what is there is modern
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The “relics” of St Hilaire? (Perhaps)
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Scallop shells, angels and demons, the universe of characters and stories can still be made out
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St Hilarie is a stop on the Chemin de St Jacques, Luz documents our stop there for our private pilgrimage
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Built over a Roman ruin perhaps this mosaic is older than the church
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Jean d’Arc watches over the nave

The day was cloudy and threatening and the rain held off just long enough for us to enjoy visiting the church before it began to rain heavily. Still, it was a warm rain and we ran from shelter to shelter making our way back toward the center of town for lunch.

 

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