Eglise Notre Dame d'Esperance Cannes Our Lady of Hope

Cannes is a fishing town. Just walk through its market on any given day and you will come across the full Mediterranean seafood menu. The world of the sea pervades Cannes' history. The importance of such a world on a town makes itself felt in the belief systems and architecture of the town. The Ancient Romans had numerous gods, deities and spirits that touched on the many manifestations of the sea. It would be foolhardy for one not to pay them obeisance. This feeling was carried through the conversion to Christianity.

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Churches take on the names of the saints. The name of the church in the picture below means Our Lady of Hope. She is one of the fishermen's most favoured saints. What tales she could tell! The building is quite a sight. It is the oldest church in Cannes and located at the top of Le Suquet Hill dominating the old town. The word beautiful could aptly describe it. Medieval architecture was a slow process. Everything was carved and chiselled by hand. An idea that first blossomed in the early XVIth Century was only realized over a hundred years later. In this particular case, the first stone was laid in 1521, while the last one came in 1648.

This medeval building might not look like much from the outside but it belies its interior.

Architecture in France was evolving from Gothic to Renaissance during the XVIth Century, which is displayed throughout the building, especially in its vaulted ceilings and squared bell tower. Look at the exterior, at how its walls are covered in round smooth stones. The close proximity to Italy meant that the Italian Renaissance inspired a lot of local architecture. A learned eye will notice little subtleties between churches here and in the rest of France. We leave the joy of discovering them to you.

Apart from its location that offers breathtaking views of the bay, what is inside in the church is quite special too. The wood panelling predates the church going as far back as the XIVth and XVth Centuries. Not exactly sure where it came from, but most likely from a previous monastery which this new church replaced as a place of worship. Run your hands along it if you dare without being caught by the local clergy. Pause at the altarpieces. There is a series of XIXth Century paintings, of which the one depicting the baptism of Christ by George Roux is the most famous one. A must-see are the two wooden statues, a XVth Century one of Saint Anne and a XVIth Century one of the Virgin Mary, both of which are gilded or thinly covered in gold leaf or paint.

A peaceful place for contemplation

A lovely touch is the plaques giving thanks to the Virgin Mary for answering prayers. They are famous in and around the area, and attract plenty of visitors. Each one is individually designed by local inhabitants, and despite lacking in artistic technique; they are overflowing with care and love.

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