A Visit to Mende by Angela Wren


Hi, Val. Thanks for inviting me onto your blog today.


It is always a pleasure to host you, Angela. Thank you for your time. Now over to you!




I thought I’d take you and your regular readers on a visit to Mende today. But, before we set off, I probably need to supply a few facts and a bit of history.

Sitting on the southern edge of the Massif Central, Mende is the préfecture – principal administrative city - for the département of Lozère, which sits on the northern edge of the Occitanie region of France. With a population of around 12,000 and an area of 14 square miles, the town sits in the high valley of the Lot about 30k due west of Mont Goulet and the source of the river. At an altitude of 700m, living here is bit like living near the top of Cross Fell in the Pennines, but with better weather.




There has been habitation on this spot for over 2,000 years and the history is varied and complex. Raided and sacked on numerous occasions – not least during the Religious Wars - Mende has survived to be the prominent town that it is, centred around it’s old medieval foundations with the modern city surrounding it. In the middle ages, Mende became a centre of culture and civilisation, a focal point for trade, art and craftsmen with a notoriety that stretched from the Cévennes north to the Auvergne.


We begin our visit in Place Urbain V with a look at the cathedral. The Basilica of Notre-Dame-et-St-Privat is striking because of its mismatched towers. Begun in the 14th Century, under the auspices of the then Pope Urbain V, the cathedral was partially destroyed during the Religious Wars of the 16th Century – hence the odd towers. The original bell ‘Non Pareille’, then the largest bell ever to have been cast, was melted down for bullets so that Capitaine Mathieu Merle and his Huguenot soldiers could continue the fight. With more than 10 interior chapels, Aubusson tapestries in rainbow colours and the detailed vaulting, this is a truly magnificent example of the changing architecture over the centuries.




Out in the sunshine again and we are going to take a right, past the préfecture building. It was in this building, during the 1939/45 war that the Mayor at the time, Henri Bourrillon, defied the Vichy regime. Bourrillon objected to the internment camp that was built close to the town and his further objections to Vichy policies caused him to be removed from his position of authority in 1941. Henri took this in his stride and joined the Resistance and Mende, and some of its bravest people, took on a new role in support of the Jewish community that had existed within the city since the middle ages.


If you follow me into the bright white heat of Place au Blé you will see one of the vestiges of the old fortifications of the town – Tour des Pénitents. Originally constructed in the 12th century and then rebuilt after the Hundred Year’s War, it survived the deliberate destruction of all of the ramparts in 1768.




One last stop and if you follow me onto rue Henri Bourrillon and look south; you will see Mont Mimat, which overshadows the city. Forested in the 1960s it once housed two small villages. The inhabitants were sheep farmers and wool traders but the living up on the Mimat was harsh - scorching summers followed by freezing winters. The villages were abandoned at the beginning of the 20th century but the vestiges of their existence are still there. A perfect place to use as a location for murder!


And that’s Mende - a bit of geography, an amazing history and some of the many reasons why I chose to set my books in this area and to have my private investigator, Jacques Forêt, live and work here. It's also a place that I will always come back to. What about you?




Mercœur Blurb

On a quiet forest walk, Investigator Jacques Forêt encounters a sinister scene. Convinced there is evidence of malicious intent, he treats his discovery as a crime scene.

But intent for what? Without a body, how can he be sure that a crime has been - or is about to be - committed? Without a body, how can Jacques be sure that it’s murder, and not suicide? Without a body, how can the perpetrator be found?

A baffling case that tests Jacques to his limits.

Mercœur is the fifth instalment in the bestselling Jacques Forêt Mystery series.




The Author


Angela Wren is an actor and director at a small theatre a few miles from where she lives in the county of Yorkshire in the UK. She worked as a project and business change manager – very pressured and very demanding – but she managed to escape, and now she writes books.

She has always loved stories and story-telling, so it seemed a natural progression, to her, to try her hand at writing, starting with short stories. Her first published story was in an anthology, which was put together by the magazine ‘Ireland’s Own’ in 2011. She also works with 8 other northern writers to create the series of Miss Moonshine anthologies. Most recently, Angela contributed a story set in the 19th century to the DARK LONDON collection.

Angela particularly enjoys the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. Her short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery, and historical. She also writes comic flash-fiction and has drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.

Her full-length novels are set in France, where she likes to spend as much time as possible each year.



Links


Amazon : AngelaWren

Website : www.angelawren.co.uk

Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com

Facebook : FacebookAngela Wren

Bookbub : BookBubAngelaWren

Goodreads : GoodreadsAngela Wren

Contact an author : Angela Wren

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