In the Country

Yesterday, with JTO, I went for lunch with some friends who live at a village called DorlisheimLike many villages in Alsace it is easy to get to by train in just half an hour from Strasbourg and, after a short walk, we were sat in a wonderful garden talking eating and imbibing the occasional drink.  Tomorrow the village has a fete de Mirabelle and our walk from the station took us past the yard of the house next door where this float was being made out of dahlias for the parade the following day, today.  We spent a nice afternoon together then went to a nearby village to look around, Rosheim.  From the 14th to 17th centuries, Rosheim was an Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire, and founded the Décapole confederation with nine other Alsatian Imperial Cities in 1354.  Like the other Decapolitan cities, it was awarded to France by the Peace of Westphalia and finally lost its independence under the Treaties of Nijmegen.  ONe of the first things we saw after stopping was the oldest boulangerie in France, more than 400 years old, as seen in the picture on the right.  It had some very nice cake in the window.(I don’t know who the chap is looking at the camera on the right.)  We then went inside the marvellous Romanesque church, St Peter and Paul, built by the Hohenstaufen dynasty between 1132 and 1190.  The external decorations are striking, in particular the Southern side portal, the decoration of the apse of which the central window is framed by the symbols of the four evangelists and on the corners of the main façade, four lions devouring a man.  The beasts represent sin attacking man and above them on the highest corner of the roof is an Eagle representing salvation.(Which can be seen clearer in the picture below)  The inside is very sober which I think gives it more power than if every inch was decorated as in say an orthodox church.  This also meant that the coloured light from the stained glass windows was displayed on the walls.  Also displayed on the walls of the church was the work of Aymery and Nathalie Rolland-Huckel.  Paintings by Aymery and jewellery,  sculptures and wall-hangings in lacquer and china with the theme “song of songs”.  The sober inside is softened by the alternation of square pillars and columns.  The sacristy from the beginning of the 12th Century was built on top of the choir of the former church which was burnt down.  Nearer the front of the church the pillar featured a carving of more than 20 faces, each with a different expression, said to be the monks who worshipped at the church at the time it was being built.  We looked into the building next to the church, slap bang in the centre of the village which was not only empty but was in some parts derelict and had trees growing inside it.  It surprised us that in such a central position, such an imposing and large building had been allowed to fall into wrack and ruin.    Rosheim was fortified for the first time in the 12th century  and refortified in the fifteenth century.  Of these walls three fortified gates remain.  On the main square stands the 18th century town hall, the Zittgloeckelturm (clock tower) and a very beautiful renaissance well.  The clock tower, which is also one of the gates, and the well can be seen on the left.  Just out through the gate there is a 12th century mason païenne (pagan house) which is the oldest residential building in Alsace.  We drove past it but didn’t have time to stop and look at it as time was getting on and we had to get back to Strasbourg to do our shopping for the weekend. (The shops being shut on Sunday it is necessary to make sure you have everything you need for the weekend before they close on Saturday.  This is something that was a culture shock on moving from Brixton where we did things just in time, buying the food etc. for the Sunday meal on the day itself.)  On the way out in the train I had been trying to post a video to Facebook to celebrate out visit but failed to do so.  Its posted here instead.  The janggly guitars of the 80’s pop sounds of the The Farmers Boys doing a cover of Sir Cliff and the Shads. ‘In the Country’.  Enjoy, I’m off for my Sunday Cremant:

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