"St Pierre sur Dives" Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives by ranger49

Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives Travel Guide: 9 reviews and 37 photos

A return visit after many years

We once stayed just outside the town during a wet, wet week late one October and always meant to return in the hope of seeing it in a better light. This time we enjoyed an unusually warm and sunny September and discovered much about the town that we missed as we tried to escape the rain.

Archeological discoveries at the end of the 19th C. confirmed human occupation of the site from the time of the first iron age but it was the establishment of a monastery there in 1011 that laid the foundations for the town that still exists today.
Now, to my surprise, the population is little more than 4000. It seems to be a place that could accommodate more perhaps because of the size and grand architectural style of some of the medieval buildings.

In adition to the religious life of the church the monks were also responsible for laying down the foundations of economic development in the town through the establishment of tanneries and leather making works that continued until the 1980s.
They also built a barn, and what a barn! Not only a market place for the trading of produce and goods but also a place in which to receive the tithes of parishioners , a practice long since ceased.

The building you see today is not the original of the 11thC. which was bombed and burnt to the ground in August 1944.
It is however a completely faithful reconstruction; only chestnut pegs, nearly 300,000 of them were used to secure the great rafters of the roof and all the roof tiles. No nails or screws were used at all.

A busy high street

The high street still has many buildings dating from the late 19th/early20th century that escaped the bombardment. I particularly liked this building with some architectural features reminiscent of turn of the century seaside buildings. It is now a very good Maison de la Presse.

On market day - Monday mornings - when the grounds alongside the market hall are packed with stalls, cars that can find a space, park on Rue de Falaise the main roadthrough the town.

The Abbey will celebrate its Millenium in 2011

A good deal of restoration has been undertaken on the medieval buildings. Even more will take place prior to the great celebrations being planned throughout 2011 when St Pierre sur Dives will celebrate the Millenium of the foundation of the Abbey.

From all the information I have seen it promises to be an ongoing spectacle of events and festivities with medieval markets and feasts, carnivals and music festivals..

  • Last visit to Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives: Sep 2010
  • Intro Updated Nov 2, 2010
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Reviews (9)

Comments (5)

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Oct 22, 2011 at 10:54 PM

    Great page on this wonderful little town. "La méridienne" has nothing to do with Greenwich meridian though it is not far. Any line drawn along a meridian is named a "méridienne". Together with a gnomon, it allows to establish every day exactly the hour of noon. It is a kind of sunclock but more precise.

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Nov 10, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    Those are indeed very colourful floral decorations as well as the landscaping on the pretty streets! What an interesting history those beautiful religious buildings have had over their long lives! Beaut weather you had this time.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Nov 5, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    A lovely write-up and photo's on this drop - dead gorgeous town! I don't think I have ever seen such beautiful geranium's!

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Nov 2, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    Barabara, fantastic new page with outstanding photos of this French gem. I am glad to read that you had such lovely sunny weather on your return Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives. It just makes photos so much nicer.

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Nov 2, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    Excellent new page about a lovely town. I would so love La Salle Capitulair- and the flowers. I was surprised , when last week, I did a Wiki search on Geraniums, and discovered that they originated in South Africa. Great photo of John in Geranium heaven.

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