On Tuesday, the national holiday, we left the boys at home and went to Troyes. After lunch at my favorite crèperie, we did something I've wanted to do for five years: walked right into the Church St Jean-au-marché.
This church in the "old town" centre ville area of Troyes dates from the 12th century. It is most notably important as the place where Henry V of England and Catherine of France were married. However, the church spent most of the 20th century in ruin. In 1911, it was decided to tear down the houses built on the church's outer walls, which ultimately lead to the bell tower falling down. After decades of disrepair, it was finally closed in 1999 and renovation was begun.
In celebration of it's opening, St. Jean-au-marché (literally "St John of the market square") is hosting a nationally recognized exhibit called "Le Beau XVIème: Sculpture in Champagne" ("The Beautiful 16th [century]").
At this time, Troyes was an important market town of the Champagne region, and thanks to its upward mobility, the aristocracy, along with the artisans, found themselves traveling to Rome and London. Thus, the School of Troyes was born.
The works of art are surprising in their detail, their representation of the subject matter and, in cases like that one above, incredibly real depictions of people carved from wood or stone. This exhibit will be open until October 25, and I highly recommend it!
Before heading back to Tiny Town, we visited the church of Sainte Madeleine, which is well known for it's gorgeous jubé (a partition that keeps the congregation seperate from the altar). The jubé is often quite delicate so there are only a few left in churches across France, and this one is considered to be among the most beautiful. Before going in, we took a moment in the beautiful garden just next door, on the site of the old graveyard, now filled uniquely with white flowers.
It was quite dark in the church, so I still haven't got the picture that I've been trying to take for years now (with an admittedly crappy point and shoot but still, one day I will have you, jubé!), but here's as close as I could get:
As always, you can see more pictures on my flickr feed, and you can find more information on the Sculpture in Champagne series here (warning: music plays when the site loads, but you can turn it off in the top left corner).