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Thursday, August 30, 2012

[2012 Maffliers] Kids grow fast... and we age faster...?

It has been almost 7 years that we didn't see each other.
We've spent a few days of vacation together in Bruges, Belgium in summer 2005.
Remi was a baby and so do our friends' kids.
Then, the last time I saw my friends and their kids was when I stayed at their place in November 2005. 
We've seen each other at least every other year, if not every year, until 2005,
but well, then time flew.
 We had arranged before and we booked rooms at the same hotel in Maffliers.
That's how it has worked out for many years.

As Matthies has been tall since he was a baby,
so we had imagined him already very tall even though he's not fourteen yet.
 Matthies at three @ Fontainbleau, December 2001
Me with baby Matthies in Fontainebleau, December 2001.
He was taller than his mom who is 5'9" at thirteen. He said he was a little bit taller than the rest of his class. (How can Dutches be so tall, I always wonder!)
And he speaks English very well. We were so glad to have nice conversation with him.
Isa and Julia are not the babies anymore.
I'm not joking,
they were the cutest littles girls I've ever seen.
They are now eleven and nine(going on ten) respectively.
Before we had kids,
we had thought their kids were standard normal kids.
It was only after we had our own kids that we realized that their trio was extremely well behaving kids.
They were already extraordinary as young kids.
Now they are two awesome beautiful girls and a wonderful teenager.
My goodness, how can time pass so quickly?
 Kids got along very well and quickly.
Glad Matthies was there to translate between English and Dutch.
As Dutches learn English very fast, I'm sure Isa and Julia will be fluent in English by next time we see them, probably in 2015.
Well, kids could still play together without translation!
I've known that Matthies loved babies, including toddlers.
But, I didn't know that he also is so good with young kids.

 Well, how would I know? Last time I saw him was when he just turned seven and he was the age even younger than Remi.
But, this time, Pablo adored Matthies and spent the time with Matthies.

 The hotel was perfect for family entertaining.
Chateau Maffliers Novotel has a shallow, but nice indoor pool, and very large private park where we could have picnics.
 We drank wine, ate lots of baguette with cheese & all sorts of charcuteries
and talked a lot.
We drank wine, champagne, and wine. :)

 Pablo eating baguette sandwich at our picnic.
Baguette was not Pablo's favorite bread. As a child who does not like crust of bread, how could he like French baguette? But he didn't have a choice in France~
I really think he should learn how to appreciate French breads.
Of course, he loves "pain au chocolat". He has been having a "pain au chocolat" every morning.
They also had tennis courts. It was too bad, but we really didn't have time to benefit from the facility.
 Kids loved swimming.
Having had swimming lessons for a few months and a swimming day camp,
Remi can now swim free style 20m.
 Their reasonably-priced restaurant was at their "Chateau"while all the guest rooms were at the other building. 

Evening was warm so that we could enjoy the dinner on the terrace.

The hotel offered a great dinner promotion that we couldn't really miss.
We shared salmon and chicken~
We visited Chateau de Chantilly, i.e. Musée Condé, together, about which I will post very soon.
On the last day, I asked Julia if I could braid her hair.
And Julia said yes :D
I wish I had a daughter so that I can braid her hair every day~
Well, I didn't braid hair for long time. The only thing I braided was challah bread dough.
It was why I did a messy job with such pretty blonde hair.
But, still I managed to braid somehow!
And a proof shot :)
 Hope Julia will let me braid her hair again next time!

 You can see more posts about my trip to France if you click the links below:
1) [Auberge Ravoux] Van Gogh's last residence in Auvers-sur-Oise
2) [Basilique Saint-Denis] French Royal Necropolis - The burial place of the French Kings

Old Friends

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

[Basilique Saint-Denis] French Royal Necropolis - The burial place of the French Kings

We landed in France in the morning.
Before heading to Saint Denis and Mafflier, we dropped by a "Centre Commercial" in Rugis to have lunch and get  French cell numbers for both Mr. D and me.

The first (touristic) place we visited in France this year was Basilique Saint-Denis.
As a history lover, I should have been there long time ago.
But, better late than never!

Well, like most of French cathedrals, this one was also under restoration!
Yeah. how surprising, or rather unsurprising. :(

Nevertheless, you cannot deny its medieval beauty.

The basilica was built from 1135 to 1144 in two phases.

It was a breathtakingly beautiful church.
From the portal of the basilica.

 Pablo walking through the south aisle.

Here I came, finally!
(As I said before, I love visiting cemeteries and tombs)

The entrance to the basilica is free of charge. But you have to pay the entrance fee to the necropolis and crypt.
You can see the tombs of the French kings and queens of which you read in the history books.

All but three of the Kings of France are buried in the basilica.

I am posting the photos of the tombs and crypt.

It was relatively easy to take the photos of the tombs in the necropolis since it was in the main floor of the basilica that was full of lights thanks to beautiful stained glasses.

On the other hand, as the crypt was underground and illuminated only by very very dim bulbs, photos are not so impressive.

 I'm not going to post all the photos of the tombs of the kings, queens and princes/princesses as they are too many. I only post notable ones.
The feet in the above photo are the ones of Francois I and his wife.

All the tombs are Cadaver tombs, i.e. tombs featuring an effigy in the macabre form of a decomposing corpse.

Henri II and his "even more" famous wife, Catherine de Medici.

Henri II and Catherine de Medici from a different angle :)

Henri II in an approached shot.

 Henri II (1519 - 1559) and Catherine de Medici (1519 - 1589) without crowns on their heads.

Clovis I (465 - 511)
The first King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes~

The tomb of Clovis I was not originally set at Saint-Denis basilica, but his remains were exhumed later from the despoiled Abbey of St Genevieve.

A tomb of an unkown princess.
Besides the tombs of the French kings and queens, there also were many tombs of princes and princesses.

And this is the ultimate reason for which I visited Saint Denis Basilica.
I've always wanted to the memorial of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

The bodies of the beheaded King Louis XVI, his wife Marie Antoinette of Austria were not initially buried in Saint-Denis. Their bodies were buried in the churchyard of the Madeleine, where they were covered with quicklime.

During Napoleon's exile in Elba, the restored Bourbons ordered a search for the corpses of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The few remains, a few bones that were presumably the king's and a clump of greyish matter containing a lady's garter, were found on January 21, 1815, brought to Saint-Denis and buried in the crypt.

Marble statues of a kneeling Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, for the église de Saint-Denis  were commissioned by Louis XVIII in 1816 from Edme Gaulle and Pierre Petitot and realised in 1830.

Then we went down to the underground crypt.

 Louis XIV, the sun king.
Louis XIV's tomb didn't have a sculpture on its sarcophagus.

There also was the heart of Louis XVII, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, but as the crypt was too dark to take a decent photo.

And now here, the following would be the most important(?) tomb.

In the 7th century, on the orders of Dagobert I, the body of Saint Denis, a patron saint of France, moved to the basilica.

There is no remains of his body anymore in his tomb, but in the pit where Denis was buried , a projection of his sculpture standing in the facade of Notre-Dame de Paris.

Saint Denis, or Saint Dionysius after whom the church was named, is a Catholic saint who was bishop in Paris in the third century, but martyred during the Decian persecution under the emperor Decius. He was venerated just after his death.

Believe or not, according to the legend, Denis picked up his head beheaded in Montmartre and walked ten kilometres, preaching a sermon the entire way, to the town where he actually died. Saint Denis Basilica was built on the site and the basilia became the burial place for the kings of France.

That is why all the statues of Saint Denis are holding Saint Denis, holding his heads.
 You can read more about the basilica here:

I was very glad to have finally visited the basilica and the tombs of the French kings and queens.
If you are interested in French monarchies and their histories,
Basilique Saint-Denis would be a must place to visit.

 You can see more posts about my trip to France if you click the links below:
[Auberge Ravoux] Van Gogh's last residence in Auvers-sur-Oise

Basilique Saint Denis