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Escaping death during the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, he devoted himself to the fortunes of Henry of Navarre, and on the accession of that Prince, under the title of Henry IV., to the throne, became financial minister of the state. When James I. became King of England, Sully visited this country in the capacity of French Ambassador. Rosny is a beautiful place, and the country here is richly wooded ; and occasionally we gain a glimpse of charmingly situated villas, almost theatrical in their seeming unreality.
Mantes is a town prettily situated on the banks of the Seine, and interesting to the English traveller, as being the place where William the Conqueror, falling from his horse, received the fatal injuries which led to his death shortly afterwards at Rouen. The lofty tower of the recently restored Church of Notre Dame here attracts the notice of the tourist, as does the Tower of S. Maclou, the only portion of the fine church erected in the fourteenth century. The town suffered considerably during the invasions of the English into Normandy, and, at a later period, during the wars of the League. There are numerous pleasant walks, some being on the banks of the Seine, a bridge across which leads to the town of Limay, on the opposite bank. Mantes possesses several fountains, a hospital, refuge for the aged, and a public library, containing a good collection of ancient volumes. There are some large tanneries in the suburbs, and in the town a number of hosiery and cotton factories afford employment for the inhabitants. The vineyards of the district produce large quantities of red wine, which finds a ready sale in Paris.
Meulan formed the scene of many hot contests between the English and French troops in Normandy, and played a conspicuous part in the famous wars of the League, during which the Duc de Mayenne vainly besieged a fort situated on an island in the river opposite the town. There are two churches here, one of which is used as a corn market. The manufacture of woollen hosiery and similar articles is extensively carried on here. There are also numerous flour mills in the neighbourhood.
As we proceed, we note one peculiarity of the French landscape : that instead of the surface of the earth being partitioned off into fields, as with us, it is divided into innumerable small allotments, each of which is the property of the individual tilling it. Indeed, in France the peasantry are the actual proprietors of the soil. The cherry orchards in the neighbourhood produce large quantities of delicious fruit.
Poissy is remarkable as having been the birthplace of St. Louis, better known as “ Louis of Poissy.” Here is held the largest cattle market in France, and from which the principal meat supplies of Paris are obtained. In 1561, Poissy was the scene of an important theological conference, having for its object the settlement of the various conflicting claims of Protestants and Roman Catholics.
We next arrive at Conflans, at the confluence of the Seine and the Oise—a river formed by the union of two streams, one having its rise in the Ardennes, the other in Belgium. The number of navigable rivers in France is very large, being not less than 400, exclusive of about 500 smaller streams. In times of long-continued rains, many of these streams become swollen, and serious inundations are the result. The valley of the Seine, through which the Paris, Rouen, and Dieppe Railway takes its course, frequently suffers from such calamities. The Seine has, in consequence of its numerous windings, an exceedingly slow current, the boats between Rouen and Paris generally taking from six to ten days to perform the voyage, although the land journey is but 76 miles. The introduction of the curiously-shaped steamboats, which may frequently be observed gliding easily over the surface of the river, has greatly lessened the time occupied by the river route.
Passing St. Germain, and getting just a glimpse of the old and splendid Terrace, which forms the principal charm of the place, extending as it does for upwards of a mile and a half along the eastern slope of the hill; then through the beautiful and extensive forest of St. Germain, more than 20 miles in circumference, and one of the most delightful portions of the environs of Paris, we pausę at the village of
Maison Laffitte. The Château at this place was formerly the property of the Count d'Artois (Charles X.), and was subsequently presented by Napoleon to Marshal Lannes, a remarkable man, who, born of humble parents, fought his way up from the ranks of the working classes until he became Duke of Montebello and Marshal of France. Afterwards it was purchased by Laffitte, the celebrated financier, whence it secured its present name. Jacques Laffitte was the son of a poor carpenter at Bayonne, and distinguished himself by rising from the grade of clerk in a banking house, of which he ultimately became the proprietor, to that of the chief banker of France during the Empire and the Restoration ; he died in 1844. And now, as the train approaches Paris, the windings of the Seine become more distinct, and the repeated appearance of picturesque country-houses, adorned with luxuriant orchards and tastefully arranged gardens, tells the tourist that his journey is rapidly nearing its termination.
The suburban district of Paris, through which the line passes, is full of beauty, and its views sharpen the appetite of the stranger for the gorgeous views of the city upon which the eyes are about to be feasted. On arrival at the station,
there is a slight detention whilst the registered luggage is arranged in the spacious Custom House for examination; and after that little formality, the next important thing is to reach your Hotel, and then to form some plans for the full enjoyment of the anticipated pleasure of a visit to this queen of European cities.
As it forms no part of our plan to make this a Guide Book to Paris, we do not even give a list of places which every visitor ought to see—but proceed now to describe much more briefly than we have described the route from Dieppe, the routes :
I. From Boulogne to Paris. II. From Calais to Paris.
And then we shall start off in company from Paris to Switzerland. (See p. 45.)
FROM LONDON TO PARIS, VIA BOULOGNE,
By South-Eastern Railway, via Sevenoaks to Folkestone, steam by good boats to Boulogne (passage 2 to 3 hours).
Boulogne is the English colony of France : it is situated on the estuary of a small stream, the Liane, which forms a tide-harbour; it has all the interesting sights common to a large city, such as cathedral, museum, library, etc. Visitors staying here will find a pleasant pier, esplanade, ramparts, and sandy beach. Taking the train, “ Chemin de Fer du Nord,” at the end of the bridge on the left bank of the Liane, we run past
Montreuil, the scene of Sterne's “Sentimental Journey." Moyelle, hard by the river Somme; the rail passes close to the ford of Blanchetaque, where, before the battle of Crécy, Edward III. crossed the Somme.
Abbeville, a large town, with narrow and dirty streets, and on through somewhat tame scenery to
Amiens, which was the capital of Picardy, and is one of the largest manufacturing towns for cotton velvets, cotton and woollen yarn, etc., in France.
The noble Gothic cathedral in Amiens is well worth a visit, and it will be interesting to know that one of the heads of St. John the Baptist is here, several other churches in Europe claiming upon infallible tradition to have it also. Peter the Hermit was born in Amiens. A good buffet here.
Clermont is on the river Oise; the scenery about here is a little more picturesque.
Criel (buffet here) has the ruins of an old castle, in which Charles VI., who was married in the cathedral of Amiens to Isabel of Bavaria, was incarcerated.
Chantilly is one of the loveliest spots in the neighbourhood of Paris. Everybody knows that Chantilly is the Ascot of France, the principal races in France being held here. In crossing the viaduct of 15 arches over the Thève valley, a capital view is obtained. A short distance further brings us to Paris.
FROM LONDON TO PARIS, VIA CALAIS.
FROM VICTORIA, HOLBORN VIADUCT, OR LUDGATE HILL
The journey to Paris via Dover and Calais is undoubtedly the best for those who wish to run away at once to the playgrounds of Europe. It is only to get into your railway carriage and dash down to Dover, then on to the steamboat,