Sanctuary in Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei

There is a tiny village in Normandy called Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei that is so charming, it is known officially as a ‘Most Beautiful Village of France’.  It was a privilige to spend my birthday afternoon there in September with my family ~

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The River Sarthe flows through this village with pretty cottages nestled cosily on both sides of the riverbank ~

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A short walk from the car park at the top of the village across the stone bridge brings you to the town square in minutes ~

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We hoped to find a place to eat, but were a little late for lunch at this quaint café ~

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This delightful café set within a walled garden looked ideal, but was also about to close ~

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I would have been happy here with a glass of wine or a cup of tea. Or both ~

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We found a restaurant on the other side of the square and then strolled through the village, captivated by its picturesque charm ~

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We found a path that took us out of the main part of the village towards the 11th century church ~

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And there, as we walked away from the church, the path opened up to a green expanse and a magnificent 15th century chapel ~

St-Ceneri-le-Gerei (66) EditedThis beautiful and unique chapel stands on the original, 7th Century site of the village of Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei, so named after Saint-Céneri, an Italian priest who, the story tells, having been guided by an angel, travelled north-west with a companion.

The long pilgrimage brought the two men across Northern Italy and eventually to the banks of the River Sarthe in the late 600s.  Exhausted and thirsty, they struggled to find clear water to drink. Saint-Céneri made the sign of the cross and suddenly, a clear water source flowed up out of the ground.  This source never dried up, and today, across the river, the Fountain of Petit Saint Celerin still stands ~

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Miraculous healings of eye diseases are attributed to the water source.  Another miracle occurred when Saint-Céneri  prayed and asked God to part the waters of the river, enabling him and his companion to safely cross, before the river closed back up.

Weary from his travels, the priest stayed in the so-named Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei, living as a hermit and visited by disciples, word having spread far and wide of these and other miracles.

Artists are more likely to visit the chapel these days, each giving their own rendering ~

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Today, with the horrors of the tragic attacks upon the citizens of Paris very much on my mind along with so many the world over, I hope and pray that those suffering find some small measure of comfort and peace as they grieve for the needless, tragic loss of so many beloved victims.

I remember the cool tranquility offered by this little chapel on a balmy, September afternoon ~

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Feeling helpless, lost, reeling from the terrible cost of violence and terror and the despair of the innocent, we can do little else but pray as we stand with our neighbours in solidarity, holding them ever-close in our hearts ~

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And we can hope that even in the face of such devastation, those suffering today in fear and pain, uncomprehending in all that has happened, will find healing and strength within the light and safety of their own, private sanctuary.

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri has been writing full time since 2011. Currently working on her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress', she has been published in a variety of national magazines, websites and three anthologies. Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief blogging, gardening, walking by the sea and snapping endless photographs. Her garden robin muse vists regularly.
This entry was posted in Current Affairs, Grief, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

87 Responses to Sanctuary in Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei

  1. Beautiful Sherri! A lovely storybook village that I would love to wander about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      It is such a beautiful village, and a privilige to share just one small corner of France here at such a time… Thank you Susan, you would never forget it if you do get to wander about there one day…and I really hope you do 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. jennypellett says:

    A wonderfully thoughtful post Sherri. The news this weekend was shocking.
    Isn’t Normandy just beautiful? Your pictures are stunning and reflect the peace that most of the world craves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Oh Jenny, I have yet to explore Normandy as much as you have, and I certainly know where to come when I want some great travel tips. I was overcome with the beauty of the place during our trip in September, having never visited that part of France before. I had wanted to share some photos long before now, but just never managed it. Now seemed like a good time…thank you so much Jenny, I wanted so much to convey some small measure of peace…

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Marie Keates says:

    I too have spent a lot of time in Normandy, we have friends out there. Many times I’ve enjoyed wandering the streets of Paris too. The news that began to unfold on 13 November was devastating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      How lovely to have friends there, the perfect excuse to visit such a gorgeous part of the world, and so convenient too! And yes, the last time I was in Paris with hubby, it was a bitterly cold November, but one of the most magical weekends I’ve ever had. Truly devastating for the City of Light…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. mvschulze says:

    A beautiful place, that little village. I would love for my wife and I to spend a day there as well. And yes, the events in Paris are so sad and heartbreaking. Our prayers go out to the good people of the City oif Light. M 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Marty, lovely to see you. Yes, you and your wife would adore it, and I know you would take some stunning photographs 🙂 I hope you will be able to, it is easy to get to. Praying with you for the City of Light and her people…

      Like

  5. Thank you for the well researched tour, Sherri, and for the links to Friday’s tragedies. So awful.

    Love,
    Elizabeth

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you Elizabeth. We feel so helpless at such times don’t we? I thought of my most magical day spent with hubby and the kids in this ‘Most Beautiful Village Of France’ and wanted to share it here it in honour of all who have been so terribly affected by the horrendous attacks in Paris…
      Love back to you…

      Like

  6. Beautiful tribute, Sherri. What a magical village…so peaceful. Thank you for sharing your lovely photographs. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a delightful little village Sherri. I do enjoy it when you take us on your walking tours 🙂 It must have been wonderful to celebrate your birthday in such a lovely location. I visited Normandy for the first time a couple years ago and was struck by the beauty of the region. After the devastation in Paris, this is a reminder of the peace and beauty that we all seek to protect.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much, Heather, I love it when you join me 🙂 I had meant to post about France well before now, but I seem to be chasing my blogging tail more than ever before! After hearing the dreadful news from Paris, I wanted to try to remember that there is still beauty in the world, and that we musn’t be overcome. Normandy is so beautiful isn’t it? This was the first time I had been to this part of France, and now I can’t wait to go back. I’m so glad you’ve visited it too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a serene setting, and gorgeous village! Yes, I’ve been praying for the victim s in Paris.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Denise says:

    Such a beautiful village. So beautifully kept, lush, but not overgrown. You can really imagine angels heading straight there!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you again for sharing pictures of your wonderful country with us. There’s beauty and wonderful people everywhere and It’s hard to imagine why a few want to kill and destroy innocent people. There’s not a reason good enough to excuse an act of violence like that, yet no one is immune to it.

    Like

  11. Heyjude says:

    Your lovely village has some similarities with Ludlow – that bridge for instance looks very much like Dinham bridge, and the pretty little courtyards. Not the shutters – they are very French 🙂 Love the light reflections through the stained glass too. Let us hope that there is light coming our way as at the moment it all looks very dark.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sue says:

    Ah, Saint Céneri….lovely place. Thanks for the wander, reminded me of times past…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a beautiful area you visited. Love the stone floor in the chapel…if the walls could talk, imagine the stories they would tell!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Well, Sherri, without knowing it you really took me home this time. I used to live an hour from this village until I finished high school. My mom still lives there. Your fifth picture shows the names of places that I know so well it’s weird to read them while I’m so far. I smiled when I read about cafes and restaurants and other places closed early afternoon. It’s a slower life there, right? But I grew up there and probably kept from these old stones and tucked in gardens some appreciation for little pleasures of life, often found in natural beauty. And a love for stories since I kept finding them all around me. Thank you for this trip to the landscape of my young(er) life.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sherri says:

      Oh my goodness, I am stunned, that is incredible to know Evelyne, I had no idea! What a truly beautiful place to grow up in, and your mom still nearby too. Wow! I can understand how that photo with the names so familiar to you made you feel. I am truly honoured to share this part of your home here, I hope I did it justice with my limited knowledge as a tourist. We stayed in a little village called Bourg-le-Roi and visited Alencon a few times. Also the gorgeous village of Fresnay-sur-Sarthe. I fell in love with that village too 🙂 We’ve driven past and through Normandy on our way to the Dordogne, but have never stopped, it was wonderful to spend a week there with hubby and the kids (all together too!). I have several posts to come of your beloved homeland my friend! Haha…yes, the pace of life is slower for sure, but that is part of the charm for us Brits. We love that 🙂 I also understand so well how such natural beauty inspired you growing up. I felt the same way about growing up in the Suffolk countryside here. Two different places, both sides of the English Channel, neighbours and now blogging friends. Isn’t it wonderful to celebrate the beautiful side of life Evelyne? I am so happy to know you enjoyed this trip down memory lane, thank you so much. I’m priviliged to share it with you…

      Liked by 1 person

  15. dgkaye says:

    Stunning photos Sherri. They almost look as though they were right out of a storybook. God bless France. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  16. badfish says:

    I don’t spend much time in Europe, but I would love to see this place. With someone who spoke French!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Mumblypeg says:

    What an enchanting village where peace seems to ooze out. Your photos are beautiful and this post is written at a time when sanity is needed in a very sad period of French history. You write so movingly. What a lovely tribute to Paris and its people. I have never been to Paris and have always wanted to go. Maybe one day. Bless you for your lovely blog Love MP xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      I hoped to be able to bring some light and peace after all the awful events going on in the world lately. I’m so glad you enjoyed it MP. And yes, oneday I hope you will visit Paris, it is beautiful…with lots of love… ❤ xxxxx

      Like

  18. Ste J says:

    Beautiful photos my friend, you have a great eye, it looks like the best place a writer could be to write as well. Coffee, wine, a good novel, note book and pen, that’s all anybody would need there.

    The events of last week were terrible but perhaps it will bring us together and the world will stand against these misguided fools. It is a shame it would take such a tragedy to do so but we can at least make those losses mean something and peace would be the greatest tribute.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      I would love to stay there and write and read and all those things you mention, the perfect retreat. The day we walked around this delightful village it was one of those glorious September days, just beautiful. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, thank you so much my friend. it’s great to see you back blogging again, so glad you kept safe on your recent travels. Yes, terrible events. Let’s hope peace reigns again, as impossible as it seems right now…

      Like

      • Ste J says:

        I would have loved to see a street of such buildings, in Germany or even locally as I wouldn’t leave. I always miss blogging and recently it has taken up more time but with so many things I am aiming to do outside the blog its becoming tougher to do everything, plenty more posts in the pipeline though my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. restlessjo says:

    Such a small world it is, Sherri (reference Evelyne). Nice that you could bring a little happiness at this indescribably sad time. The village reminded me a lot of Giverny. A similarity of architecture and stone, I expect. Love that little white table grouping. 🙂 It was all a bit ‘no room at the inn’ that day, wasn’t it? A glass would have been fine by me too. Lovely little chapel too. The one at Giverny was closed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Yes, a small world indeed Jo, I love it when that happens 🙂 Evelyne moved to California a little after I did, she from France me from England, and we both raised our children there, so it’s great to share stories 🙂 I thought of Giverny when I was in France and haven’t forgotten about it, I can imagine it being very similar. So pretty. Haha, yes, it was a bit like that. We wondered if we were going to find a place. My heart was set on that cafe in the walled garden, but it wasn’t to be. Maybe next time 😉 The chapel was an unexpected delight, just a lovely day. Thank you Jo, glad you enjoyed it…

      Liked by 2 people

  20. Such a picturesque village, Sherri. Thank God for such beauty. It’s so easy to end up focusing on all that’s bad in this world in the aftermath of all that carnage in Paris. It’s also beyond me, at this moment, to pray for the souls of the perpetrators. I can only hope that in the long-term it will be the case of the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” with regard to everyone uniting to defeat such evil.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Thank God, yes, that’s what I felt when I posted these photos, trying to make sense of everything that’s happened lately. It’s a terrible, tragic time. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos Sarah, lovely to see you here at the Summerhouse as always 🙂 xxxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dearest Sherri, I’m aware of not being at the Summerhouse often enough. You are in my thoughts, as always. Will be sending an email soon. Am fighting a sore throat today. Hoping the manuka honey will vanquish any germs before they get underway. I haven’t got time for a cold xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sherri says:

          Dearest Sarah, you must not worry about that, the Summerhouse (and me!) are here anytime you are able to pop in. We understand 🙂 So sorry about your sore throat, manuka honey is brilliant stuff. Get well my dear friend, and I will look forward to your email but only when you have the time…although always keen to hear your news 🙂 Thank you for your kind thoughts…means so much… ❤ xxxx

          Liked by 1 person

  21. Absolutely lovely, Sherri. I’m talking here about both the village and your photography. I wonder if a French Miss Marple lives (or ever lived) here? Looks the perfect place for her.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much Hugh, I’m so glad you enjoyed them. It’s hard to do such a beautiful village justice. Oh, I wonder. It looks just the place for a French Miss Marple doesn’t it? I’m sure there are plenty of mysteries just waiting to be told…or at the very least, made up…and hopefully not too many whodunnits 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  22. A beautiful tribute to France and such stunning photos. Once again I walked with you in my imagination through the lovely village and through History. Thank you dear friend for such a lovely post. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much Diane, I always love having you walk with me my dear friend, and I am smiling knowing you enjoyed this walk so much, my pleasure to share this beautiful village with you… 🙂 ❤ xoxo

      Like

  23. Elissaveta says:

    What a soothing set of photographs. I particularly loved the stained glass and its reflections on the floor. Looks like you had a very restful time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much Elise, I’m so glad you found the photographs soothing. That’s what I hoped to achieve 🙂 I was so taken with the way the light shone through the stained glass, it looked so very pretty. It was a restful, wonderful family time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Annika Perry says:

    Happy belated Birthday Sherri, what a magical place to celebrate your birthday. Thank you for all the beautiful photos, so serene and calm and a perfect antidote to the storms outside! I liked Fountain and perhaps I should go there as I have an eye disease!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you very much Annika, how kind of you. It was such a lovely day. I’m so glad that the photos gave you a sense of calm and serenity, just what I hoped. You never know with the Fountain…they say it really works! The only problem, is crossing the river to get there, I didn’t see any sign of a boat!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. These pictures are beautiful. With each one, I thought, “Oh, this is my favorite!” but then the next one elicited the same response. I want to celebrate a birthday there! (I’ll have to start dropping hints…a lot of hints. 😉 )
    A perfect conclusion, Sherri, the candles for prayers and blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Haha…start now Marylin! We found out about this village before we left for our trip and I was determined that we should visit. It was only about 15 miles from where we stayed! When I heard about Paris, I immediately thought of that day in the Chapel and the candles we lit in the peace and tranquility… Thank you so much dear Marylin…

      Like

  26. prior2001 says:

    Beautiful connection to the Paris sadness – and right now I am watching coverage of the raid in Saint-Denis as they maybe found the one who planned it – praying for them as they do that-
    Anyhow – what a neat story about the priests and that fountain!! I heard that sometimes miracles have some science behind them – like there might be sulfer or healing minerals in the water that heals eye problems. And when the walls fell with Joshua – i heard that the pounding around the foundation paved the way for the trumpet and high decibels of clapping – well the walls fell cos of a science – so God uses many things to bring about stuff – anyhow – did u get to try the water?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much mon amie. Let’s hope and pray they do catch them all… Yes, that’s fascinating about the fountain, I would love to know more about it. We didn’t try it, there’s no way to get across the water without having a boat and I didn’t see one, so I think they discourage it, to keep the ‘shrine’ in tact. It looks so old! And yes, it is wondeful to know that God is in the science, designed to help us as we turn to him 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  27. What gorgeous photos and memories, Sherri. It looks so peaceful there. I love the story of the miracle of the Fountain of Petit Saint Celeri. 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Thank you Sherri for a perfect days walk in Normandy. The village certainly was beautiful and oozed charm with the 15th century chapel and fountain the piece de resistance. What a lovely place to dwell on the sad events in Paris. Such a futile waste of more innocent lives. If only a solution could be found. The little chapel gives off such an air of peace … I hope it is catching. Lots of love 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      This was the first place I thought of when I wanted to post something in the aftermath of the tragic attacks in Paris…it is the futility of wasted innocent lives that cuts so deep doesn’t it? It wasn’t what I had originally planned and my rememberance day post went out the window last week. But in the end I just wanted to bring some beauty and calm to this little corner of blogland and I’m so glad that you shared that with me. How wonderful it would be to walk here with you my friend…you would absolutely love it. And all your photos 🙂 Lots of love to you Irene…hugs… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • There would be nothing nicer Sherri than a walk in the beauty and calm in your company. The world is too sad a place at the moment but a change has to start somewhere and perhaps it can be in blogland where we all accept each other and respect each other. Lots of love 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sherri says:

          Oh what a lovely thing to say Irene…I wish I could stay calm at times!!! But I agree, we can start here and make a difference in blogland. It’s that start that counts. So let’s get walking…and talking and snapping away 🙂 Lots of love to you too my friend… ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  29. Charli Mills says:

    We all need this sanctuary, a reprieve from bad news and graphic scenes of violence. Thank you for sharing your beautiful tribute.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Letizia says:

    What a charming village; I’ve never been. The house with the vines reminds me of my uncle’s farmhouse in Switzerland! Thank you for another lovely journey you have taken us on.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Sherri what a wonderful tribute to those lost in such tragedy. Life is all about finding peace and sanctuary. The village looks divine and the chapel art is beautiful. I feel at peace after walking reading your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Ali Isaac says:

    Stunning pictures, Sherri! What a beautiful place. I’ve only been to France twice, once for a couple of days working in Paris, and saw nothing except the Note Dame lit up at night, an impressive sight I’l never forget. And once for a girls weekend which was all about the spa and relaxation, so again didn’t see much. Maybe one day…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      I had never been to rural France until about five years ago when we first went with friends who have a place in the Dordogne. And I have only been to Paris once with hubby a few years ago (I remember that sight of the Notre Dame!). Other than that it was those boring school trips to the fish markets to Calais. I thought all of France was like that! So to discover these other regions of France has been a revelation, just so beautiful. I am so glad you enjoyed the photos, thank you so much Ali 🙂 I hope you get to go one day…

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Mél@nie says:

    “notre douce France… mille merci! I thank you for your impressive article! my very best & respectful regards, Mélanie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Merci beaucoup Melanie! Thank you so much for visiting and reading, I’m honoured and send very best wishes back to you… La France est très belle et occupe une place spéciale dans mon coeur 🙂

      Like

  34. All that ivy on those old stone cottages is brilliant! Glad you had a peaceful birthday in such a wonderful village.

    Liked by 1 person

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