09 June 2011

Laon, once again

The last time I had been to Laon, before yesterday morning, was in 1994. It was September that year and Walt and I were on vacation from California, staying two weeks in an apartment on the Ile Saint-Louis in Paris. Two other Californians we knew were also staying in Paris, over by the Place Monge, at the same time. The four of us rented a car and took a driving trip one day.

All the photos in this post are ones I took at Laon yesterday.

We started by driving from Paris up to Beauvais, and we ended up in Laon before returning to Paris. Maybe you've been to Laon. Walt had been there when he was a student in Paris in the early 1980s. It is not far northwest of Reims and not far northeast of Soissons. At Laon, there's a huge church at the top of town, in the « cité médiévale ». If you've been to Loches and to the medieval city there, you'll get an idea of the grandeur of Laon when I say it is probably three or four times bigger and more extensive.
Laon, by the way, is pronounced with a French nasalized à vowel, as if the O weren't in there. It rhymes with grand, blanc, sans, and lent. And paon, which means "peacock." The town's population is about 26,000. The butte that the upper town at Laon is built on has been settled since pre-Roman times — for about 5,000 years now. The church in Laon is a cathedral and was built between 1150 and 1180. Laon has been the seat of a bishopric since about the year 500 of the current era.

The pictures in this post show the cathedral at Laon. Some of them I've left at a fairly large size so that you can see details. Besides Laon, yesterday we also walked around in two other amazing churches. One was the cathredral at Reims, which is famous as the place where many French kings were coronated over 1,000 years of history. The other was a 15th century church I had never heard of before called Notre-Dame-de-l'Epine. It's in a tiny village five miles outside the town of Châlons-en-Champagne and has some amazing gargoyles.

Another thing I did yesterday was buy some champagne. We had just driven through Epernay and were passing through a village called Mareuil-sur-Aÿ when I noticed a champagne producer's sign. I went in, asked if I could buy a few bottles, and then tasted a Blanc de Blancs (pur chardonnay) champagne I thought was very nice. I bought three bottles of that, three bottles of regular brut champagne, and three bottles of the local Mareuil-sur-Aÿ red to take home.

It's hard to travel as much as CHM and I are traveling, seeing so many places and churches, and still find time to blog. Luckily, nowadays nearly all hotels in France have wifi connections, so it's easy to get on the Internet. But I'm tired in the evening and in a hurry in the morning. I'm doing my best...


  1. Your best is very good. Thank you. I love seeing the carving around the arch.

  2. En même temps , il vaut mieux poster tous les jours ainsi on ne risque pas de mélanger les souvenirs comme c'est souvent le cas quand on arrive au terme du voyage (surtout si on s'était beaucoup déplacé ....:D

    Bonne semaine .


  3. Laon is stunning! It's hard for me to imagine how many hours of work went into those stone carvings. Then I guess it was turned to rubble, then reconstructed. I'm glad I got to see your photos today and very thankful for wifi, clouds and our modern world of technology.

    Thanks for your efforts!

  4. The gargoyles are really remarkable. Thanks for posting these pics.

  5. Ken

    Your best is incredible - don't know how you manage but a big "Merci" for taking the time to describe your daily sightseeing including the other interesting hobby- wine :-)

    If Laon is 3 or 4 X bigger than Loches then it will take me more than a day to visit

  6. Thank you so much for your efforts. We love reading about your trip.

    I hereby grant you dispensation to take a day or two off from blogging. You deserve a vacation!

  7. Ken,

    Please keep up the good work. It's so great to share the trip with you.

  8. We all appreciate your effort and are so happy to discover all those splendors with you. I think you are lucky the weather is not as warm as it was in May.

  9. We are very pleased that you do find the time and energy to post on your travels - Laon is where Nick took his motorcycle for a new tyre when we had a puncture many years ago. We were on a camping holiday but treated ourselves to a room in a hotel while the bike was being fixed. I remember thinking then the town had some beautiful buildings.

  10. Magnificent architecture.

  11. Much as we readers enjoy your extensive posts, you deserve a break while on the road so that you can relax, savor the countryside and new places and enjoy CHM's company...we'll survive with just quick, short entries...and you have an official dispensation from Chrissoup. If that's not good enough, perhaps we could arrange something with the Vatican. You are, after all, spending most of your time in churches.

  12. I just read these last two posts (temporarily don't have a computer or Internet at the new house) and loved them! I will re-read and re-swoon another day! Great! Enjoy yourself :)


  13. Beautiful! I'm so impressed with how well your indoor pictures turned out. Mine are always so dark.

  14. Thanks all for the nice comments. My little Panasonic camera takes pretty good pictures. I also edit and modify them in Photoshop.

    I think I've gotten compulsive about blogging. A day isn't a good day without a post, some bread, a glass or two of wine, and a ray of sunshine.

  15. Hello, yeah this article is actually nice and I have learned lot of things
    from it about blogging. thanks.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?