Ok, I’m not going to beat around the bush. I was super excited about this adventure we went on. Like giddy excited. For those out there who don’t know me personally, I am a super nerd. Yup. Total, and complete and complete nerd. More specifically, I am a history nerd. So much to the degree that I rarely watch television unless it is non-fiction, and usually historically based. For what most people find to be a boring read, I find absolutely enthralling. Ok, ok I need to get to the point.
I’ve always been ultra fascinated by the story of Joan of Arc. Yes, she was probably schizophrenic and a bit of a nut job, but I’ve always taken interest in her story. I’ve probably read every book about Joan of Arc ever written in English and in French. I can’t really explain why this story fascinates me so much. Maybe it’s because it’s the tale of a young woman venturing off into foreign lands, wielding a sword and not following the typical societal norms of her time. I’m definitely not wielding a sword, but I can identify with her persistence, thirst for adventure and boredom of the daily grind.
Something about this story is truly remarkable; maybe it’s the mixture of mystery and fact that keeps me interested in learning more. Or perhaps the story appeals to the political scientist in me because Joan was only valuable for political reasons. Either way, this story is one that continues to fascinate me year by year.
While in Germany I began to do some research and discovered thather town, church, and house still survive! I had to do some digging, but I found the information on how to get there and what to expect.
The site is the perfect place for me. It’s not well known so there are not many tourists, yet. The town is situated in the countryside just over an hour from Nancy. On the drive there you go through winding green pastures and sunflower fields. The road twist and turns and you get to experience the clouds rolling in over the valley. It’s really quite beautiful.
As soon as you arrive at the town you can park next to the church, yes Joan’s church. The church where she was baptized, where she allegedly heard God talking to her asking her to lead the French army to victory over the English so the Dauphin would be crowned king. Anyway, I digress.
Before we entered the church we took a stroll through her village. Her town is your quintessential French village. Its buildings are extremely old, with some dating back to the 12th century. There are flowers everywhere and rolling green fields surround the village.
After walking around for a while we had a coffee and then visited the church. The church is small but absolutely beautiful. It is beautifully decorated with statues. The windows are all stained glass, which casts a beautiful glow into the church.
It’s really quite a surreal feeling to think that this was the place where one of the histories most well known Heroines would pray daily.
After I spent some time in the church taking about a gazillion photographs we headed over to the small museum. It costs about 4 euro to enter and you can walk through the museum and visit her house. Most of the information is provided in French, but English and German are also available upon request. When you enter the museum you can choose to watch a short film explaining the life of Joan, her quest to defeat the English, and the political repercussions that ensued when her government shifted allegiance.
You can also view a short ten-minute play that explains the political situation of France at the time and all the people who were involved in her rise to fame, and also those who were responsible for her death.
Luckily, her house is in pretty good condition. It is two floors, although you can only visit the first floor. Contrary to popular belief, Joan was not a peasant. Her father was well respected and owned land, so chances are her family was relatively wealthy.
Inside her house was fascinating for me, you can see where she was likely born, where she slept, ate, and possibly went crazy. It was a little surreal being able to touch and feel a part of history I’ve always been so fascinated by.
Just up the street from her home and church is a second church that was resurrected as a tribute to Joan and her family. It is much larger, much richer and extremely decorated. It was beautiful of course, but I still think I preferred the smaller one, which Joan actually attended herself.
If you are a history lover, and in France, I would highly recommend you go to Domrémy on a day trip. The town is small but lovely and it’s such a nice experience. In addition to the Churches, house, and museum there are also some Roman ruins nearby. It could make a really nice day trip, and a great way to learn more about one of history’s heroines.