Saucerie gatehouse

In the morning we headed east across Southern Normandy.

We drove along the coast road to Ducey, and then up the Selune River past two hydroelectric dams. These were much more important previously; now France gets 80% of its electric power from nuclear plants. Following Michelin's scenic highways and getting lost a few times we wandered up the river to a little side road which led to the ruin of the gatehouse to la Saucerie Chateau. It was built in the 16th century. The chateau it guarded was burned in the 19th century, but this gatehouse has been declared a Historic Monument because of its unusual architecture. Domfront city square

Next we went through the town of Domfront, and stopped for a walk. Domfront is a mediaeval walled city on a hilltop. Although we really didn't see the towers, we did enjoy the many still intact centuries-old buildings in the town itself, with plaster washed off and the beams showing cleanly. We explored some of the narrow twisting streets.

Then we continued east on scenic roads through pretty forests to the town of Bagnoles-de-l'Orne. Michelin described this as the largest health spa in Western France, but it looked quite closed up to us; the baths not in use, no crowds visible, paint peeling from the facades of the great hotels. Perhaps again the season comes later, or perhaps spas are becoming less popular. Chateau Carrouges

After Bagnoles we stopped at Carrouges, and visited the old chateau. This was the home since the fourteenth century of descendants of the Carrouges family, through married daughters in the Blosset family and then starting in the 15th century in the Le Veneur de Tillieres family; these were well-connected landed gentry who advised kings and princes, sometimes married them, served as cardinals and generals. The end of the family was not chronicled. The ample chateau featured 18th century furnishings. The most exciting thing architecturally was the 16th century brick staircase, which had been covered 16th century staircase with plaster for centuries. When the staircase was rediscovered, the plaster was carefully removed to reveal a really exciting brick architecture.

We had a late lunch of pastries, sitting across the road from another splendid-looking chateau. then continued west to Sees, where we saw the cathedral, then Mortagne-au-Perche, from the region where the Percheron horses originated, through Longny-au-Perche to Senonches and then to Chartres.

We did not visit the cathedral today, but it dominates the city from a distance. Over the flat wheatfields can first be seen the twin spires, then gradually the huge vault of the nave. No other buildings are visible until you are closer to the city. So the cathedral from a distance looks like a giant building rising up out of the wheat fields.