Ducey, Ville Étape

This #Traveltuesday is brought to you by a soaked to the skin photographer who thought it was a fabulous idea to go to the beach during a storm and now wear fully waterproof clothing… However, it was a good idea as the photos I got were absolutely stunning and I will be sharing those in my next snapshots post! How’s the weather where you are?
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I little ways inland from my favourite spot, the bay of Le-Mont-Saint-Michel, around 10 miles, you’ll find the village étape of Ducey. The town itself is relatively small, and has the usual small-town shops and atmosphere, except for the distinct chateau and gardens and a couple of beautiful bridges.

Pilgrim bridge in Ducey
The Selune River from the main road bridge looking to Pacé. Taken 14/06/2020 – Canon 6D 1/800 f/4.0 ISO240

The History

As with all communes in Normandy, they have a wealth of history stretching back around a thousand years. Ducey is not a stranger to this. Ducey’s namesake, William of Ducey (Guillaume de Ducey) traces his roots to Ducey in the 12th century. Being a part of the 1066 norman invasion, William was granted the land, and then a wooden castle, of Ducey. There is not much noted down between this date and 1418, when Henry V of England seizes Norman lands after the famous battle of Agincourt, relinquishing norman control of the small town to William Nessefeld. It’s not until 1521 that modern-day Ducey starts to take its shape. the Duchy of Ducey is married into the Montgomery family around this time, this family would be in control of the town until 1721.

The Ducey’s are known in French history due to their misfortune. During the 16th Century, Gabriel, the first official Mongommery of Ducey fatally wounded King Henry II in a tournament held in July of 1559. Henry II would die of his wounds, branding the Ducey’s name with regicide. His son, Gabriel II is responsible for the chateau you see today, or the remains of it. In the 19th century, the Sémale family took ownership of the Chateau but were later found out to be in hiding.

The Chateau is open to visitors in the summer months for a very nice price of €5-6 depending on if you want a day tour or a night tour. The gardens are open year-round and host interesting artworks throughout the year.

The older of the two bridges date back to the 17th century as a pilgrimage route to Le-Mont-Saint-Michel, and as you can see from the previous photo, it’s definitely an Instagram-worthy bridge.

The church in Ducey is pretty impressive. Saints-Pères is a catholic church full of amazing art and sculpture. The outside is also unusual due to the bell tower being separate from the main entity of the church.

Chateau Montgomery in Ducey
Chateau Montgommery from the main road. taken 14/06/2020 Canon 6D 1/640 f/4.0 ISO 500

Activities

Ducey is not a very touristic town. It’s pretty small and is notable as a stopover town due to its proximity to large tourist attractions and the motorway. This does not mean you shouldn’t visit it though, as Ducey takes pride in its appearance. You may have noticed some french towns have signs with flowers on them. These are signs given by Villes et Villages Fleuris, a label given to towns that have gardens and green spaces, strive to be committed to sustainability, are open and friendly, and overall look good. This is done by planting flowers, having hanging baskets, and keeping clean and green. Ducey has a 3 flower rating, meaning it’s pretty high up on the Villes et Villages Fleuris list.

To enjoy the best of the flowers in town there is a loop walk that guides you around the town, packed with fun information and history to keep the walk exciting. The start of the walk is by the tourism office, opposite the iconic chateau.

The shopping is very independent and local based, but the shops are pretty good! There is even a very good antiques brocante as well if you are in the market for some classic french furniture and decoration!

Ducey main road

So when are you going to visit?

Next time you visit France and you see signs for a Ville or village étape, check it out, you may be surprised!

Join me next week for more Northern French travels!

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Published by Briony-Molly

Reader, artist and Politics lover.

2 thoughts on “Ducey, Ville Étape

  1. Dear Molly,
    This is simply a joy. I sent to all of my franco-phile friends, bolding parts that are particularly enticing to me. I, too, cherish Mt. St. MIchel and its Baie above all parts of France — even beyond my one-year home, Cannes near Vallauris… Do they still have the nighttime Les Merveilles at the Mont – starts near midnight and laser magic puts a large round loaf of pain complet and a chalice of sacramental wine on an altar, vestments on the steps, tapestries on the floor of the dining salon, manuscripts being illumined on their solid wood (real) supports in the Scriptorium…? Heaven, because it started in the most ancient part – probably pre-Christianity. I take every step with you, eagerly and slowly all at once. I care about the history, care about the bridge. Giggle because my very serious Swiss husband always named the events of 1066 as being the result of the skills of “Norman the Conqueror” — so I’m always in danger of getting this wrong. Smiles and gratitudes for memory and promise. Carolyn Edelmann of Lawrenceville NJ

    Liked by 1 person

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