Conche-en-Ouche is a commune in Eure (Haute-Normandie), south of Le Neubourg and west of Evreux. It had 4.982 inhabitants in 2006. It’s old name was Conques.
Between Le Neubourg and Conches (there’s no “en-Ouche” on the road signs) lies the “Campagne de Neubourg”, a huge plain.
Conches itself consists mainly of a narrow shopping street, that’s full of parked cars. Some of the houses in this street are beautiful old timbered houses, with very modern, colourful window displays. It is very difficult to get photos there. Everywhere are cars, at the abbey, the church, the town hall, the keep and the city wall. Conches seem to have more cars than inhabitants and they are all in the center of the town.
At least the Conchoises seem to have humour.
First sight we visited was the keep (donjon). Next to the keep is a shop for lawnmowers and when we arrived there, someone was just testing a loud lawnmower, very idyllic.
At the keep there’s a convenient sign giving information about the keep’s age and history. It was built 1035 by Roger I of Tosny, 1364 conquered by english troops, 1441 conquered again by english troops and destroyed 1591 in the French Wars of Religion.
The keep itself is dilapidated and it’s forbidden to go inside. But there is a path around the ruin. Behind the keep was a surprise awaiting us. It was as if God (if he exists) has poked his finger in the landscape. The keep was built on a ridge over a kloof, nothing for people with acrophobia.
On the other side of the keep are some parts of the city wall and a well, that had been filled up. At the end of the path lies the Mairie (town hall).
Behind the town hall stands the church Sainte-Foy (Saint Faith) and in front of the town hall stands the statue of a boar, no idea why it’s there and when it was made.
The gothic church Sainte-Foy was built in the 16th century. There’s a convenient sign in the church, that’s informing the tourist about the history of the church. The first church in Conches was built in the 11th century by Roger I on the base of an older chapel. Roger I also donated the relics of Saint Faith. That church was destroyed in the 15th century.
In the church is the tombstone of the philosopher William of Conches. The stone is in a very bad shape, someone seems to have tried to rescratch the head of William but has done a bad job.
The interior of the church is nevertheless very impressing. It contains a lot of sculptures, wonderful wood carvings (for example a pulpit made in 19th century) and beautiful windows showing detailed biblical scenes.
Two 15th century artworks were stolen from the church in 1976. Reproductions are shown in the church and visitors are asked to look for the artworks.
After we had visited the church we went to the hospital. It had been a benedictine abbey, that was built in the 11th century. As usual it was full of cars there. Outside were only some arcs with grotesque faces of stone visible.
On the way back to the car I found another piece of the city wall on the other side of Conches, that is also a ridge above a valley.
Finally we ate some sanwiches (very German) in a strange park without alleys, in which chives was growing in front of the statue of Maurice Quentin de La Tour.
The article Conches-en-Ouche, picturesque and full of cars (except the weblinks) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
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