Thursday, October 9, 2014


Southwest from Canet-Plage is the town of Elne.  Like Canet, there's the beach Elne and the town Elne--each separated from the other but joined in municipality and in history.  Elne was the capital of Roussillon in antiquity.
And its cathedral--built in the 11th century stands over the town.
Looking over Roman wall into "new" town
 The cathedral and its neighborhoods are inside the ancient Roman walls with narrow streets--many pedestrianized--and narrow buildings.
Narrow houses in old cité 
Decorative window protection
Narrow pedestrianized street
Through the wall

Its monument to the war dead of WW I and the South Asia and Algerian wars is inside the walls overlooking the new town below.
Maillol sculpture in memoriam to the war dead
As in many other towns, the names of the WW I dead outnumber the others with solid lists on three sides to the one short list on the fourth side including war dead from both of the more recent two.

The cathedral is late Romanesque--large for Romanesque.  It was the religious center of Roussillon from the 6th to the 17th centuries.  When the center changed from Elne to Perpignan, the Bishop up and took the famous relics with him leaving Elne and its cathedral a forgotten backwater.  
Column in cloisters
Beautifully-preserved capitals in the cloisters
The buildings, however, remain, and are full of well-preserved carved capitals in the cloisters and other stone features.
The white blue-veined marble in the cloisters

Elne is also home to La Maternité Suisse (the maternity hospital) that was made famous by the Swiss nurse, Elizabeth Eidenbenz, who took in at least 1000 women and children between 1939 and 1944.  Women fleeing the concentration camps survived the war and gave birth here to 597 children.

A museum dedicated primarily to the work of Etienne Terrus shows their permanent exhibition of his work along with temporary exhibits of other artists.  Terrus was friends with Aristide Maillol (from Banyuls-sur-Mer) and Henri Matisse, among others.

Life here in Roussillon holds endless surprises.  It's not all beaches and sunshine, though it's also beaches and sunshine. The entire time we've been here, this has been the warmest and sunniest part of France except for Corsica.

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