January 19, 2019

Francis I gallery at Fontainebleau!

So I am staying in Fontainebleau, yes lovely town and wonderful immense castle on the entire history of France, well almost we are very old indeed. As said, my first castle ever on the region of my dear late wife Martine, so therefore, a personal favorite and friends of the castle!

The Castle is huge and many things to see, I have already told you of my favorite on previous post, however, there are more. The Galerie François I or Francis I gallery is another not to be missed under any cirscumtances. I like to tell you a bit more on it.


The Francis I gallery  or Galerie François I is a large ceremonial gallery located on the first floor of the Royal Castle of Fontainebleau , dept 77 Seine-et-Marne ,in the ïle de France region. The intervention in the 1530’s of Italian artists Rosso Fiorentino and the Primaticcio, makes this gallery the most representative decorative ensemble of the first school of Fontainebleau, and reflects the infatuation of François I for Italian art.


In 1689, a door was pierced in the west wall to gain access to the horseshoe vestibule. Then, some stuccos are remodeled . In 1701, king Louis XIV replaced some subjects too daring with new compositions (now extinct), including Zephyr and Flore, and in the central room Minerva and the Arts. It was in 1710 that they would have realized the door top of the vestibule, with scenes illustrating the victory of François I, and the story writing his actions on the wings of time. From 1730 to 1731, a restoration is conducted and again the end of the gallery is refresh in 1757 with the restoration of the frescoes.


King Louis XVI split the wing in 1786 by adding apartments, depriving it of the opening on Diane’s garden, but making false windows to keep a symmetrical appearance.  Napoleon I transformed the gallery into a gallery of illustrious by placing busts of generals and drawings of his military campaigns. In 1846, a new restoration, quite heavy, is undertaken. The creation of a cardboard frieze was done while the paintings were restored. The chimney is removed and the gallery receives a new parquet. The renovations continue by repainting entirely the frescoes with the encaustic, and adding new paintings, including a view of the Fontainebleau pond and an argument of Minerva and Neptune.  The gallery draws a set of spans, punctuated by symmetrical openings and large painted panels. The coffered ceiling plays a rather secondary role in the decorative ensemble and displays a rather classic style. The King’s monogramme is found everywhere.


A bit of history I like

Built between 1528 and 1530, it is approximately 64 meters long and 6 meters wide, and was formerly a covered bridge with openings on both sides. King Francis I made it built and decorates, in order to connect his apartments to the Trinity Chapel (see other post). He kept the keys and made it visited by his chosen guests. The gallery was entrusted to the Italians Rosso Fiorentino and the Primaticcio who decorated it in an original way with paintings, paneling, frescoes and stuccoes. The works were done from March 1535 to May 1537 for the stuccos, starting from 1536 for the frescoes, and were completed just before the visit of Charles Quint at Christmas 1539.  The carved walnut woodwork realized from 1535 with rare essences, but turned almost exclusively to walnut wood from 1539, when the floor of the gallery is executed and the paneling.


A bit on the decorations, and what is to see fully here! A must!!!

The paintings, divided into two groups of six frescoes separated by a central span, represent stories of Greco-Roman mythology and allegories whose meaning eludes us today.

In the first northern span is painted the so-called Sacrifice fresco, in which a mired priest dressed in black stands near an inflamed altar, surrounded by old men, women holding children and vase holders. The represented priest could be Saint Francis of Paula, or King Francis I himself, the fresco evoking the king’s religious role and his priestly skills, which he exercises as his sovereign function. The stuccoes around the fresco represent the sacrifice of a ram and that of a bull, always in the religious theme expressed by the central fresco.

In the second northern span, is the famous fresco of the Royal elephant , also known as the elephant at the flank (symbol of strength, sagacity, and durability of royalty) depicted in a square, bearing the royal figure on the forehead ,a salamander  and the fleurs-de-lis on the flank, thus representing King Francis I himself. At his feet are three allegories of the air, the Earth and the water (the man with lightning represents Jupiter, the man at the Trident Neptune, and the one accompanied by Cerberus Pluto, in reference to the three spaces on which reigns Francis I), as well as a stork who symbolize the loyal love , the latter representing the mother of the king, Louise of Savoy. On the sides are painted two frescoes on the theme of mythological abductions: right Saturn disguised as a horse removing Philyre, and left Jupiter, changed to Taurus, removing Europe. The stuccoes slightly illustrate the story of Alexander the Great, including Alexander cutting the Gordian knot, under the fresco.

In the third northern span is painted the fresco of the Fire in which two young men carry their fathers on their shoulders. It could be an evocation of the twins of Catania, or the myth of Aeneas leaving Trojan in flames and carrying his father Anchises on the shoulders. The stuccoes represent on the left a bearded man dressed in brays and on the right a young man wearing a loin cloth, these two characters evoking loyal love, while the fresco could refer to the dedication of the two sons of Francis I, the latter indulging in the Spanish enemy in exchange for the then prisoner king in Madrid.

In the fifth northern span is visible the Vengeance of Nauplii (also known as the shipwreck, or Destruction of the Greek Fleet), in which Nauplii, in the foreground, kills the panicked Greek sailors. The frescoes of the frames illustrate Neptune and Ammon, while the frescoes of the empty niches are arranged on both sides. The central fresco could symbolize the misfortunes caused by treachery and vengeance, punished by divine wrath. This fresco would thus be a direct evocation of the treachery of the constable of Bourbon, the latter having rallied to the Spanish enemies.

In the sixth northern span is painted a fresco dedicated to the education of Achilles by the Centaur Chiron, in which we observe the young Greek hero performing a series of exercises (fencing, swimming, hunting etc.) with to the left of prisoners locked in a cage. This fresco would illustrate the education of Francis I and thus the ideal education of a Prince, while the prisoners illustrate the form of slavery  that would constitute the lack of education. The side frescoes represent giants attached to trees.

In the seventh northern span is visible the scene of Venus and Love at the edge of a basin , while Mars is gone to war. Three loves wear a shield, a helmet, and a spear. The stuccoes represent a young man on the left and a young woman on the right. Low reliefs depict a naval battle on the left and a cavalry battery on the right. This ensemble could evoke the military chief king, and his sadness at the idea of leaving his house of Fontainebleau (symbolized by Venus). Under the fresco is installed a tableau tin made in 1540, and representing a view of the Château de Fontainebleau with the gallery François-Ier and the Golden Gate.

The central span is painted by two oval scenes: in the north, the nymph of Fontainebleau,  made in 1860-1861, and in the south, Danae, with stuccoes representing female figures bearing fruit baskets. The side frescoes depict the chariots of Apollo and Diane.

In the first southern span is painted the fresco of ignorance hunted, with on the right the representation of Francis I as Roman Emperor, crowned with a laurel, holding a sword and a book. Ignorance, represented by blindfolded characters, is driven away. The stucco framing the fresco depicts two male and female satyrs and their children. This fresco could evoke the cultural policy of Francis I, as it helps to keep away the ignorance and thus places the king as a guarantor of knowledge. The two satyrs illustrate the result of ignorance, leading to vice.

In the second southern span a fresco illustrates Francis I as emperor, holding in his hand a grenade, while a child kneels to him with other similar fruits. The king is surrounded by military, bourgeois and peasants, dressed in Roman and Gallo-Roman costumes. This scene would evoke the king as a defender of the unity of the State. He holds a grenade, reputed to contain many glitches, that the king thus gathered. The diversity of the social classes represented in his entourage would be a reference to the universal character of his government, applying to all his subjects, while the ancient costumes would place Francis I as a new Caesar. The stuccos represent two entwined couples.

In the third southern span is painted the fresco of Cléobis and Biton, in which the two young men carry their mother and lead her to a temple. Stucco reliefs represent on the left Side in the middle of the plague, on the right the death of Cléobis and Biton, and at the center Pera nourishing Simon. All these scenes symbolised the love of Francis I and Marguerite of Angoulême for their mother Louise of Savoy.

In the fifth southern span is painted  the fresco of the death of Adonis. Adonis is figured in the foreground. Love escapes with his clothes. Venus is depicted on his chariot in the midst of a cloud. In the vicinity are the allegories of Fortune, Love (Eros) and adversity. The stuccoes represent on the left Cybele on its chariot with lions and a lioness, on the right an orgy scene, and in the center a chariot race. This central fresco symbolizing death and misfortune, as well as a violent passion, could refer to the death of the Dauphin François in 1536. The framing frescoes illustrate two entwined couples.

In the sixth southern span is painted  a scene drawn from a fable of Nicander of Colophon and illustrating the perpetual youth lost by men. You can see in the top left the god Mercury coming in front of men announces that Jupiter agrees to give them eternal youth. On the left are a group of young people, in the center the donkey bearing the youth is being watered while the snake removes the youth represented by the traits of a young girl. To the right finally are represented old men. To the framing of the fresco are shown on the left: young people entering a temple, and to the right: allegories including the backbiting, a woman with three heads surrounded by bees.

In the seventh southern span is a fresco illustrating the Battle of the Centaurs and the Lapiths. The stuccos represent young men blowing in trumpets. To the east, on the side of the bust of Francis I are painted violent scenes: Defeat of Pavia, captivity of the king in Madrid.



There you go a splendid gallery for all the glory of France, well it was another castle dear to me too but this one can fit in too. A must when visiting France, go to Fontainebleau.  Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Fontainebleau on the Castle

Tourist office of Fontainebleau on the Castle

Tourist office Seine et Marne dept 77 on the Castle

Official castle of Fontainebleau on the Francis I gallery

Official Govt culture site on the Francis I gallery

Again , hope you enjoy the tour; it is a must I repeat… And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!




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January 19, 2019

Trinity Chapel at Fontainebleau!

So going to the origins, the roots of my encounter with France, here at Fontainebleau. You need to read about the place in my blog, several posts over the years. However, I believe this place deserves a post on its own, been my favorite. The memories of my dear late wife Martine taking me to show off her region still is strong even more so today.

Fontainebleau is a small town really, and the castle property takes a big shunk of it. Its forest, theater, St Louis Church and the castle. The Château de Fontainebleau is huge in French history and a must to visit all of it.  The city is in the Seine et  Marne dept 77 of the Ïle de France region ,east of Paris.

I like to tell you a bit more on the Trinity Chapel or la Chapelle de la Trinité inside the castle of Fontainebleau. Enjoy the tour.

Ancient Church Convent of Trinitarian clerics settled here by Saint Louis in 1259, this one was attached to the castle under king François Ier. Rebuilt from this reign and under Henry II, the Chapel received the present vault under Henri IV and was finished by Louis XIII and then enriched by Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI. This chapel is a masterpiece of classicism!

A bit on the construction style of it.

The Trinity Chapel is rectangular in shape. It is placed in the east wing of the Cour d’honneur ,to the left of the Great horseshoe staircase. The roof is double-sloped. The Interior is on two levels, the Chapel hosts the Royal Tribune in the background above the entrance. It is illuminated by high rectangular windows placed on the second level, alternating with oval cartridges decorated with paints. The first level is composed of side chapels closed by ornate wooden grates alternating with the batteries decorated with double Corinthian pilasters.


On the north side, the monumental altar is composed of a triumphant arch altarpiece decorated with bronze incense bearer statues of angels and adorned in its center a painting depicting the deposition of the Cross. Behind this altarpiece was located the choir of religious Trinitarian. The arched vaulted ceiling is richly decorated with paintings framed in cartridges, frames and floral decorations in stucco. The balconies were destined for the king’s music.


A bit on the history I like

The scenes of the mystery of the Redemption of Man (the Trinitarians being a redeeming order): The Apparition of God to Noah above the rostrum, the Annunciation behind the high altar, the Christ of the Last Judgement surrounded by Seven first intelligences in the center, as well as characters of the Old Testament (kings of Judah, prophets, virtues), painted on the vault between 1608 and 1619.


The master altar, realized in 1633, which the paving of multicoloured marble of the soil, is surrounded by statues of sovereigns (Saint Louis to the right of the altar with the traits of Louis XIII, and Charlemagne to the left with the traits of Henri IV). The altar and the original tabernacle are located at the parish Church of Fontainebleau, where they were transferred at the French revolution.


The altar painted in 1642 and represents the Holy Trinity at the time of the deposition of the Cross. The tribune, carried by marble columns, as well as the closing of the choir dating from 1554. The bishop presided over the creation of two oratories: one for Henri II, directed in 1557, the other for Diane de Poitiers. The two were destroyed in 1605. The panelling and grids of the chapels are from 1629. The decorative paintings, finished the last decorative paintings performed in the chapel are the oval paintings made under Louis XVI.


The organ of François-Henry Clicquot, still in place, was made in 1774.   The main event that took place in this chapel was the marriage of Louis XV and Marie Leszczyńska in 1725; the Chapel was also the scene of the marriage of Marie-Louise d’Orléans with Charles II of Spain (represented by the Prince of Conti) and the baptism of the Prince Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (future Napoleon III) in 1810 with 24 other children and the marriage of Ferdinand-Philippe d’Orléans with Hélène of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 1837.


IT is just gorgeous and one cannot come here without seeing it. I am friend of the castle for years and enjoyed even alone which is moving and grand. You can see it too and behold of its beauty. I do not have more words to describe it, it is just a masterpiece of our times. See it at Fontainebleau, the Trinity Chapel.

These webpages will help a bit more: Official Fontainebleau castle on the Trinity Chapel

City of Fontainebleau on Fontainebleau castle in French

Tourist office of Fontainebleau on Fontainebleau in English

The Friends of the Castle in French has a flyer very good on the Trinity Chapel, in French has more information you may want to translated it.

Friends of Fontainebleau on Trinity Chapel in pdf

For info, the Friends of the castle has a page in French: Friends of the Castle of Fontainebleau in French

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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January 18, 2019

Toys Museum of Poissy!

So now bring you back to childhood, I think we all have in us forever. I told you this was a nice town easily reach from Paris on the RER A once out of station turn right go up the hilly road past the Collegiale Church and you see the panel indicating the Toy Museum of Poissy or the Musée du Jouet Pierre Pinel of Poissy.

This is a magical children place and young adults who remember playing with some of these toys in years past. I brought my boys here and they were eye open all the time at the marvels here. Of course, this is for young children especially I would say less than 14, generally. But,did I said, adults young at heart can enjoy it too, lol; then bring on all the family. It is fun and worth the detour in nice Poissy.

The Musée du Jouet Pierre Pinel or the Pierre Pinel Toy Museum, named after the mayor in place at the time, is located in Poissy, Yvelines, dept 78 not far from the Collegiale Church (see other post) and dedicated to toys and children’s games. It is housed in the 14C poterie of the old abbey of Poissy, the former Royal Priory of Saint Louis, dismantled after the French revolution. It presents about 800 games and toys dated between 1850 and 1950, demonstrating a way of playing sometimes gone, but mostly timeless, beyond fashion and technology. They are industrial toys, mostly French and German, widely distributed from the middle of the 19C.


Created and opened in 1974 by Pierre Pinel from where the name of the complete museum is the Toy Museum Pierre Pinel, which during the period of construction and inauguration was the mayor of the city of Poissy. In July 2016 the Toy Museum closes its doors for modernization, reopening scheduled for May 11, 2019!


On the first floor, a room that reminds the granaries of our grandparents, restores full of treasures: Electric train networks, doll houses..exposed after experiencing a hectic life. We discover, for the joy of the little ones as the greatest:p orcelain dolls, shop, Teddy bear, rocking horses, cars, electric trains and many other surprises. The presentation of the collections is regularly renewed around thematic exhibitions which allow to evoke slices of the history of the city.

Playgrounds are arranged throughout the course for a playful and interactive visit and numerous animations, workshops and shows are offered throughout the year to the family public.  An interactive kiosk shows ancient magic tricks.  Animations and temporary exhibitions with workshops, magic and puppet shows help to animate this already pleasant visit. Games courses are offered according to the ages.  Art workshops and the traditional egg hunt during the Easter holidays. During the summer holidays, open-air workshops. Collections evolve and new objects are regularly presented to the public.




Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Poissy on Toy Museum

Tourist office of Poissy on Toy Museum

Tourist office of dept 78 Yvelines on Toy Museum

There you go something light and fun with the whole family and so close yet so far from Paris it is not well known to visitors. It should be another shot if coming with young children is a must , I say. The Toy Museum of Poissy!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!



January 18, 2019

Collegiale Church Notre Dame of Poissy!

So I am back to familiar territory in the region of Ile de France! and department 78 of the Yvelines!! Well ,I have written a lot on the city of Poissy in my blog but glancing over it seems was all very general . I need to start remedying that now.

I like to start by telling you a bit more of the Collegiale Church Notre Dame of Poissy. First of all, very easy to get to from Paris on the RER A line and once there go out station turn right and walk up the street ,you will see the big Gothic Church in front of you! Never time it ,but should be less than 10 minutes walking. This will be a long post sorry, but the place merits it, and I even cut a lot, so its the best possible condensed post I can do. Enjoy it, it is very nice indeed.

Notre-Dame Collegiale Church  is a parish Catholic Church located in Poissy, department no 78, Yvelines,of the Ïle de France region. It was founded by King Robert the Pious around 1016, but from the 11C church, only the western steeple-porch survives. Indeed, the Collegiate Church was rebuilt from the beginning of the 12C, in particular between 1130 and 1160, in the late Romanesque style, and later in the primitive Gothic style, which manifests itself in the eastern parts. The future king Louis IX (Saint Louis) was baptized, a few days after his birth in Poissy, on April 25, 1214. This event is the celebrity of the Church, and the baptismal fonts of that time are still preserved there. Although it has undergone numerous transformations and restorations since its construction in the 12C, this Church is not only the richest monument of the city’s heritage, but also remains one of the few witnesses to the development of Romanesque art and its transition to Gothic art. The Church bears the name of Collegiale because it housed a college of canons until the French revolution. It was the object of several restoration campaigns in the 19C, notably by Viollet-le-Duc.



A bit of history I like

The Church may be a successor to a first Merovingian cult Site, of which they  have found numerous fragments of stone cutters, capitals and bases at 60 cm below the paving. However, the base seems rather Roman, but the base could actually go back to the 7C. The Church had in any case been founded by King Robert the Pious around 1016.  Few episodes of the history of the Collegiate Church are known, the most important of which is the baptism of St. Louis, a few days after his birth on April 25, 1214, in Poissy. The baptismal fonts used at this Christening took the status of a relic after the canonization of Saint Louis in 1297. They have always been respected, but the numerous samplings of fragments to provide relics necessitated a profound restoration in 1630, an occasion to which they were brought back to the Saint-Louis Chapel, where they see themselves behind a grid. Saint-Louis never forgot the Church where he had been baptized, and founded a Mass for the birthday of his parents in 1238, then a Chapel in 1250. The first priest was installed , it was Mathurin Giquerel, Doctor of Theology of the Sorbonne, a dignified and virtuous man of Breton origin. The chapter experienced only an important reform during its long existence, and continued until the French revolution. Under the whole of the old regime (royals) , Poissy was the seat of the archdeaconry of the Pincers’ of the Diocese of Chartres, and the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame its spiritual center. The Church was reportedly burned during the Hundred Years ‘ War, and was partly rebuilt and enlarged in the late 15C and 16C. During the second War of Religion, in 1567, the Church was ravaged by the Huguenots, and to escape, inhabitants were forced to take refuge in the attic for more than two weeks. Some changes have been made to the classical period, but little is left. On the eve of the French revolution, the chapter was abolished and the Church soon closed to worship, and the Church of the Saint-Louis Priory  became the only parish Church in the city, except during the prohibition of worship under the reign of terror in the French revolution. With the Concordat (ending the terrors of the French revolution) of 1801, Poissy was integrated into the new diocese of Versailles, corresponding to the old department of Seine-et-Oise (now Yvelines mostly).



A bit brief on the construction of the Collegiale Church of Notre Dame. It is irregularly oriented towards the southwest on the side of the façade, the Church consists mainly of a central vessel of six long bar spans, accompanied by aisles and Chapels or other annexes; Of a five-pans apse; there is the  ambulatory; a square-planar axis Chapel dating from the 1860’s; and two Chapels oriented flanking the first and last span of the ambulatory, each with a straight span and an apse in the hemicycle. The nave is preceded by one of the two steeples, the ground floor of which was initially an open porch on three sides. Two stair turrets flank the bell tower, one to the north and one to the south. The Chapel of the Baptismal font occupies the angle between the steeple and the north side, and like all the spans of this aisle, it is flanked by a Chapel on the north side. This row of seven Chapels does not form a second aisle, because all the bays are enclosed. The rest of the Church is hunched over with simple warheads. A second steeple rises above the last span of the nave.

A bit more longer description of the interior of the Collegiale Church of Notre Dame.  The nave is particularly heterogeneous. After the Hundred Years War, at the end of the 15C  and early 16C, the only changes were the  north elevation, except the sixth span. This reshuffle uses the flamboyant Gothic style. The second reshuffle occurred around the middle of the 16C, and concerns the first three bays on the south side, as well as the vaults of the first three bays. But everything that seems to date from the beginning of the 12C and displays the Romanesque style, is in reality in very large part the result of the reconstruction. The Organ tribune, which appears to be very archaic, and the 12C reconstruction is characterized by an elevation on three levels, with the floor of the large arcades, the triforium floor and the upper windows. The large arcades, the triforium, the triforium bays, the high windows, the double arches and the warheads are in full hanger. The vault keys are not decorated and show a small aperture. Apart from certain details, the nave of the Collegiate Church can be brought closer to the other large Romanesque Churches of the region built at the beginning of the vaulting of warheads styles.

The north side with its row of Chapels represents the most homogeneous part of the Church, but apart from the supports of the large arcades, all dates from the end of the 15C and the beginning of the 16C. The chapels of the fourth and fifth spans are particularly distinguished by Baroque woodwork of great quality.  The last three spans of the south aisle are the last ones that still exhibit, at least in large part, their 12C provisions. The sacristy had been abandoned in the 18C and arranged in the Chapel facing south of the apse, but its location is the original.  The choir or chorus is oriented in the direction of the sun rising on August 15 (Assomption), is not in the axis of the nave. This is a very common observation that can be made in most Churches built successively at the site of an older church. Although in the case of a collegiate church and therefore of an ecclesiastical chapel where the liturgy involved a whole college of canons, the choir is small and is reduced to the apse. In the absence of a transept whose crusader often houses the high altar, it must be assumed that the last two bays of the nave were originally attached to the liturgical choir, and separated from the rest of the nave by a grate. The apse has two roughly straight sections and a bedside in the hemicycle, composed of only three pans. Thus, the apse communicates with the ambulatory by five large arcades.

The ambulatory represents, the most interesting part of the Church. This applies to the arrangement of the exterior walls, for the vaulting of original edges and for the very particular plane. It has no radiant Chapels, but primitively an alternation between square Chapels, including the first and last completed by an apse in the hemicycle, and walls facing the outside. The north-facing Chapel had been rebuilt in the flamboyant period with a prism-ribbed vault. The apsidal of the Chapel is in large part authentic. Quite spacious, it has a decoration consistent with that of the ambulatory. The vault of warheads is four-pointed, and the profile seems authentic: it is the same as in the apse, namely a net between two torus. The south-facing chapel, dedicated to St. Louis, has never been altered, and its plan is quite regular. As for the axe Chapel, dedicated to the Virgin, it was once an admirable construction of the second half of the 13C or the beginning of the 14C, in a radiant style reminiscent of the Sainte-Chapelle (Paris). Destroyed everything in the 1860’s, the demolition of the Chapel is regrettable, especially since it was not detrimental to the homogeneity of the Church, and that its state would have allowed a restoration, still envisaged by the Viollet -le-Duc in 1844. The present Chapel is inspired by the apsidials, but larger, with five pans and three windows.

The oldest capitals are naturally found in the base of the western steeple, which dates back to the late 11C, especially on the east side. In the nave, there are curiously more recent capitals under the fifth and sixth largest arcade in the north. It can be dated from the beginning of the 12C, while the construction of the nave progressed from west to east, and the last spans were only started around 1130. At the back of the façade, at the beginning of the big arcades of the South, appears the first marquee of a second type, evoking, as also the bedside in the big lines. In the apse, the only capitals that were not redone in the 19C are those to the east of the sixth pile of the north, as well as those of the four free columns of the apse roundabout. The sculpture of their large baskets is remarkable, and they are decorated with two registers of ribbed leaves, palmettos of a large drawing, long rods linked two by two in the center or under the angles of the stone cutter. The design and composition are of great originality, and the style is of uncommon vigor. The bay capitals of the central steeple are also remarkable.

The tribune Organ was commissioned in 1903. Its instrumental part was made by Charles Mutin, successor of Aristide Cavaillon-Coll. Its Gothic buffet was designed by the architect of historical monuments, Camille Formigé, who had been responsible for the last restoration campaign of the Church between 1884 and 1896. The columns of stone supporting the tribune were carved by Geoffroy.

And why not a bit more on the exterior of the Collegiale Church of Notre Dame de Poissy.  The western steeple, originally a steeple-porch, is one of the oldest steeples in the region among those of a certain size. The steeple is square and flanked by two orthogonal buttresses at each angle, which are strictly vertical and punctuated by the same drip present on the walls. Between two buttresses, the salient angles of the steeple remain free, which is not common. The ground floor only has small rectangular openings, and the first floor is also very discreet, with a unique rectangular window off the west side. The second floor is located at the same level as the upper windows of the nave, and originally had two rectangular bays, regularly spread over the three free sides. To the north and south, they are partly clogged by the two stair turrets.


A nave with three levels of elevation requires buttresses, which were not yet developed at the end of the Romanesque period, and appear only in the mid-12C. To the north, the wall of the nave ends with a frieze of foliage similar to that found inside, under a cornice formed by a succession of prismatic moldings. In the south, the first three bays were given a new cornice in the classical period. On the outside, the authenticity of the various elements is therefore not more assured than inside, and this also applies to the flamboyant architecture of the chapels of the north aisle and the sacristy in front of the last two bays of the south aisle. At the top, God the Father (beheaded during the French revolution) emerges from a cloud holding a globe in one hand. Rays of light descend from all sides, and reach a vase with two handles, from which a long leafy stem that carries three fleurs de Lys springs. A dove in the middle of the rays illustrates the Holy Spirit, and the rays themselves are the grace of God that he sends from the top of heaven. The flower that is the recipient is an allegory of purity and virginity, and symbolizes the Virgin Mary. The ensemble is therefore a symbolic representation of the Annunciation

The second Louis XII-style portal is wider and has two doors in a basket cove separated from a thomas whose jagged foliage and flamboyant-style monsters, overlapped already on the lower legs of the underside, at pilasters Italianate announcing the first Renaissance. Three niches with statues flank the doors, and still sheltered the Virgin and two angels in 1805. They were repainted same  year, but have disappeared since. The central steeple is, without a doubt, the most beautiful element of Poissy’s architecture.  Its north face was uplifted this time with respect for the authenticity of the monument, as between 1844 and 1850 during the restoration of the large arcades. The octagonal stump of the bell tower is pierced with a single undecorated, North and south window, which inwardly opens under a broken discharge arch. Between two modillions, a palmettos décor in bas-relief appears. Two seats above open the bays of the belfry floor. They are in the full hanger and number of two on the faces facing the cardinal points. The other faces are narrower and leave room for only one bay. The choir, the style is allegedly that of the 13C. As for the oriented Chapels, the windows of the square span were initially placed at the same height as the windows of the Apsidials, they had only one buttress instead of two, and the angles of the buttresses were not filled with balusters.


Some of the nice things to notice at the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame at best me think other than the Baptismal font of Saint Louis are:

The stone Altar adorned with eight characters under arches lobed and hooks, 94 cm high and 245 cm wide, dating from the first half of the 14C and apparently coming from the church Priorale Saint-Louis. The group carved in limestone representing the burial, also known as Holy Sepulchre, 140 cm high and 180 cm wide, mentioned for the first time in 1522.  The group carved in polychrome walnut wood representing the education of the Virgin by St. Anne, high of 137 cm and dating from the near end 15C to 16C. The stone statue of St. John the Baptist, 186 cm high and dating from the 14C, the stone statue of St. Barbara, 140 cm high and dating from the first half of the 16C; the tower on the left is its attribute, the palm in her left hand is the symbol of the Martyrs. The stone statue of Isabelle of France, daughter of St. Louis, high of 130 cm and dating from around 1300, comes from the rood of the Church of the Priory Saint-Louis de Poissy. The stone statue of St. Peter , high of 160 cm and probably dating from the 17C. The stone statue of Saint Louis teenager, high of 170 cm, dating from 1932. It bears the coat of arms of the city of Poissy.  The painted wooden statue of the Virgin, 130 cm high and probably dating from the first quarter of the 16C, was distorted by a smooth polychrome that makes it seem like a statue of the 19C, but the stylistic closeness with the statue of St. Barbara indicates the actual age of the statue, which remains to be confirmed during a restoration. The stone statue of the Ecce Homo or Christ with links, high of 185 cm and dating from the 17C. The statue of the Virgin and the Seated Child called Notre-Dame de Poissy, inspired by the seal of the Collegiate chapter, work of Manuela, her real name Anne de Rochechouart de Mortemart, Duchess of Uzès, high of 140 cm and dating from 1892. The stone statuette of a praying, perhaps a donor, with a inscription of dedication in Latin, high of 50 cm and dating from 1553. Most of the burial slabs were sealed in the Western Wall. Most of the paintings are hung in the Chapels, and poorly visible in these dark spaces.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and you must are

City of Poissy on the Church in French

Tourist office of Poissy on the Church in French

Tourist office dept 78 Yvelines on the Church at Poissy in French

Note the sites above are in French, nowdays easily translated for a fuller enjoyment and more information. This is a nice Notre Dame Collegiale Church and the area around it is very nice and more things to see in Poissy.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!






January 17, 2019

Schoolboys in France, our take!

So on a cold night in the Morbihan Breton, I like to be a bit nostalgic of my previous home in France. This is my 16th year living here and 19th as citizen of France. Basically, broken down evenly now between the Yvelines 78 (ïle de France), and the Morbihan 56 (Bretagne).

One subject dear to me and the family I have not touch in my blog yet, and its about time, is the question of schooling for the kids. I have 3 boys now young men. When I first had the idea from my dear late wife Martine (French native of Meaux ,Seine-et-Marne 77, ïle de France), the first thing we thought was the schooling for the boys. Back in the previous old home of Florida there were in A rated schools by the School system there so we wanted to stay the same in France.

We went out and spoked with the French family on the schooling and was a bit surprise of the strict ruling as compare to what we knew. Also, the easy school days as they are no substitute teachers here, and kids are sent home. The homework was constant every day! In all subjects!

We found out it was true. We ,also, got in touch with the American community in Paris which is numerous and we are acquainted. They refered us to the AAWE organisation or tha Association of American Women in Europe. They published a book detailing the differences and equalities of the US and French educational systems that was invaluable. https://www.aaweparis.org/

The landing was easy ,soft and we found out our boys were getting good notes from the start. Due in fact for the training at home with the mother, an import/export custom agent who was very good of grammar , an important subject in French schools.

We got in and found out the schools ;free public schools were better in the smaller towns in Yvelines. I do not want to give away all the addresses but will put some pictures here of younger days.

verneuil sur seine

The schooling in towns like Verneuil-sur-Seine on the college John Zay was super and the staff always gave us compliments of our boys. It was a nice trip for them fully enjoyed with the bus and train as it is usual here. It gives you freedom. Here all 3 boys came together the college is like a middle school back in the USA; they spent all here in France. http://www.clg-zay-verneuil.ac-versailles.fr/spip.php?rubrique127

les mureaux

Then, came the Lycée or high school Blanche de Castille in the nearer town of Le Chesnay It was fantastic! We really enjoy it and the nearby Bel Air complex with many friends meeting on the park, and a miniature statue of the Eiffel tower! The bus system was the same as the one in Versailles so very convenient and the boys love it. https://www.blanche-de-castille.fr/infos-pratiques

le chesnay


Then came big decisions. The university system here as compare to the USA is very weak, but practically free. The ones we saw near us were about 500 euros per year! Most of the best jobs are had in the Grande Ecoles and they are like Ivy league schools ,very expensive. I had experience with universities and my skills were home grown , not too positive about universities; I think they are just business. My opinion of course.

Therefore, I told my boys to choose: univ or special technical schools that provide a skill and a job. They chose the later one.

My boys were split with my twins going into specialized schools in gardening:building: plumbing, and wood work which gave them job experiences . France does not have a system of funnelling the students into jobs so the youth unemployment is very high unofficially at 25% .The yound spent a lot of time in interim, training jobs for long periods and unemployment until finally with lots of work experience they can land a permanent job. They are now on the right track and getting paid for it.


My oldest boy, went to commercial business school , very good CFA Affida at La Verriére 78 Yvelines. Here he got his commerce training as he wanted to go into Sales and did had the chance to work at the Chateau de Versailles and the gift stores across from the rive gauche train station in Versailles. Moving over to Bretagne, he went to the IBEP Vannes. Now getting his driving license and search for a permanent job in the meantime he gets support income from the mission locale who puts him into training program by working alongside local businesses for more time on the job and training for eventually getting a permanent job. The CFA Affida: https://www.affida.fr/nos-2-centres/cfa-affida-la-verriere-yvelines-78

The IBEP Vannes:  http://www.ibepformation.fr/fr/centre-formation-bretagne

la verriere


The life here is nice and friendly but the will to excel is a bit behind. If you have experience then coming will be no problems I found mine before arriving for a big CAC 40 company in management and have not stopped.   For the young, its an uphill battle.


le roc saint andre

So this is nothing compare to what we get here ,however, as free persons, we know the job market in France is not the best and needs a lot of improvements. Maybe the yellow vests (jilets jaunes) can do something about it!

The Great Debate  or Grand Débat is on in France at the mayor’s office level and creating lots of suggestions in a truly democratic way where the citizens participate. The online site is to be functional by January 21st so they said. https://granddebat.fr/

Hope it gives you another look on France from a worldly person and experiences on both sides of the pond! I lived 31 years in the USA between NJ and FL!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!




January 17, 2019

Some news from France CCXVI

And I am back on my regular news coverage of France , my take, my opinion, my tastes. Today is sunny!!! temp 6C or about 45F no rain of course just lovely in my beautiful Morbihan breton 56. In eternal Paris is about the same at 43F as well as in my beloved Versailles.

Let me tell you the latest news on my belle France.

There are three weeks of filming in Paris for the production of Roman Polanski’s film, “J’Accuse or I Accuse”, a feature film devoted to the Dreyfus affair with the principal actors Jean-Dujardin and Louis Garrel. The shooting started last November 26th to end on March 7, 2019 for allow a release in early December 2019. The Church of Saint-Germain L’ Auxerrois, was in the spotlight. Inside, while a huge luminous veil occupies the top of the church, an ambient mist creates an atmosphere of the end of the 19C. J’ accuse, the tribune of Emile Zola, denouncing one of the largest anti-Semitic cases in France, starring Louis Garrel in the role of Captain Dreyfus, accused of espionage. Jean-Dujardin is Colonel Marie-Georges Picquart, head of counter-espionage, who will eventually discover that the evidence against Dreyfus was false. More here in Allôcine: http://www.allocine.fr/film/fichefilm_gen_cfilm=229982.html

In this period of Epiphany (I am a bit late sorry), the galette de Rois is in the spotlight on all the displays of our bakeries. This winter pastry, more commonly known as Parisienne, makes the happiness of the 7 to 77 years old. Glazed, caramelized or creamy, these artisans of the capital revisit in their own way this traditional dessert, of the New Year. At Douceurs et Traditions, 85, rue Saint-Dominique, 7éme, Metro La Tour-Maubourg. At Karamel Paris, 67, rue Saint-Dominique ,7éme, Metro La Tour-Maubourg.  And  Un Glace à Paris, 15, rue Saint Croix de la Bretonnerie , 4éme, Metro Hôtel de Ville.

Webpages for above pâtisseries :




Beans and patties of kings are the inseparable of the pastry. Celebrating the 500th anniversary of Château de Chambord ( dept Loir-et-Cher), slips in his patties, beans with the effigies of historical figures, such as François I and Louis XIV, who contributed to the fame of the castle. Gluttony, the beans of the houses Hugo and Victor ,7éme and Karamel Paris, 7éme celebrate the desserts with unpublished pieces. More sporting, the 11 winning and red beans of the boutique Un Glace à Paris 4éme, will make you meet Emmanuel Petit, world Champion 98 and Emmanuel Ryon, best worker of France, to celebrate together the Epiphany. The wine of course will be white, and sweet enough to embrace the sweetness of the dessert. A semi-dry Champagne; or a muted Muscat ,whose fermentation was brutally halted by adding pure alcohol are in order.

A story of France and the people that belongs as French. 1954,the cold envelops France, at Saint-Denis, Smaïl, a worker, is sleeping outside, at minus 13 °C, on the site where he works. A few steps away from the location of the future Stade de France, where 44 years later, his son, help gave the football World Cup for France in 1998; his son Zinedine Zidane. Histoire d’Une Nation or Stories of a nation,will be projected this Thursday evening today 20h15  at the cinema L’Ecran  in Saint-Denis. This series in four episodes was aired in September and October last on France 2 TV. It interweaves the little stories and the great, drawing the portrait of a France that was built, sometimes in pain, according to successive waves of immigration, from 1870 to 2005. This suburb, where the generations of immigrants from Spain, Italy, Algerians, Malians mingled, inevitably fed the work. The film also gives the floor to immigrants and children of immigrants from Marseille, Toulouse, Clermont-Ferrand… There is a common history, a French history that has not been told. And from this point of view, the Seine-Saint-Denis is not atypical, Free entrance.More here in French: https://www.lecranstdenis.org/evenements/on-en-parle-histoire-dune-nation/

During the night of 12 or 13 October 1973, five wooden sculptures dating from the 16C and 18C were stolen. Only Sainte-Anne and the Virgin could be found. Forty-six years after being stolen from Houdan, a statue representing St. Anne and the Virgin will return to her place in  the Church of St. James (St Jacques) the Major of Houdan. The statue of Sainte-Anne and the Virgin, with a height of 94 cm in polychrome wood, was to be auctioned  last December 8th by a sales hall which has a street-corner in Heidelberg (Germany) for a starting price of 6 000€. Luckily it was found before the sale by Eurojust an European service tracking these stolen goods. In a similar story, a statue of St. Christopher in Wood, stolen from the church of Cergy-Village in Cergy (Val-d’oise 95) in November 1973, resurfaced last October. The work was spotted in Frankfurt (Germany) when it was to be sold. Be aware of what you buy in these markets in Europe.

A WWII bomb was discovered on the site of the future Tramway line 13. The bomb discovered in St Cyr l’Ecole, right next to the train station. It’s an English bomb dating back to WWII, weighing 500 pounds or about 250 kg and 115 kg of explosives, this bomb, in the event of an explosion, could cause a crater 4 meters wide and 3 meters deep by projecting splinters within a radius of 300 meters. This kind of discoveries remains rather common in this area.More from the agglo area here in French: https://www.versaillesgrandparc.fr/actualites/toute-lactualite/details/article/operation-de-deminage-a-sai/

A chemical transformation, more accurately, carried out by micro-organisms, bacteria, yeast or mold on the sugar in the absence of oxygen. And now it gives us the three pillars of French gastronomy: bread, cheese and wine. Moreover, two of them (hint: not the cheese) symbolize the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The fermentation holds the divine. When it is controlled by the human hand, fermentation gives a more complex taste to the food and keeps it longer. It’s useful. Enjoy it the tip.More in French from the La Revue du Vin de France: https://www.larvf.com/,fermentation-definition-dictionnaire-du-vin-vocabulaire-lexique,10355,4025490.asp

In the opinion of professional buyers like designers, Paris offers this season the most beautiful stage for the fashion of men. The American, British and Japanese labels feast on the public. Fashion Weeks, from last Tuesday night, first day of parades in the city.  56 shows (10 more compared to the previous edition) , and 26 presentations, 15 nationalities are on the program until  this coming Sunday evening, making once again (and even more than ever) Paris the great capital of men’s fashion; definitively, Paris is a springboard to fame and fashion for the youngest but especially for the most adventurous. The LVMH brand is set up under the dome of the Opéra Garnier; where the men’s fashion has never paraded. The company eco-friendly Lime will make available to the small world of fashion, a fleet of electric scooters, in partnership with Paris Fashion Week. More here in French on the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode: https://fhcm.paris/fr/paris-fashion-week-fr/calendrier-des-defiles/?session=session_1539768337

The first 12 cars sold in France are indeed produced by one of the two French car groups,no surprise very local mindset. The top 3 is made up of the Renault Clio, followed by the Peugeot 208 and the compact SUV Peugeot 3008. In fourth position , the first model of the Citroën C3. Next comes the entry-level model of the low-cost Dacia manufacturer, the Sandero. In sixth place is the Renault  Captur, followed by  the Peugeot 2008 and the compact 308. Dacia Duster in 9th, Renault Twingo ,10th, Renault Megane ,11th and Citroën C3 Aircross 12th. The first foreign car on the list is German. This is the Volkswagen Polo, which is followed by a Japanese: the Toyota Yaris produced in France in Valenciennes! . Follow again by locals Peugeot 5008 and the Renault Kadjar. A second Volkswagen, the Golf, slips to 17th place, been the most sold car in Europe, and due for a generation change this year. The 18th place is occupied by the Opel Corsa which will also change generation this year. It will be developed on the platform of DS3 Crossback and Peugeot 208, Opel being passed into the lap of PSA. In the penultimate position is the small Fiat 500. The Ford Fiesta manages to climb to 20th place.Of course, I am a Ford lover, but not the Fiesta, mine  done in Saarbruken and Valencia!  According to the French Automobile Manufacturers Assoc or CCFA: https://ccfa.fr/

My Ford dealer has invited me to a party this coming Saturday with food and drinks and maybe can get another deal from my salesperson lol!! Always out you never know…Stay tune ::)

The company Novaxia is planning to reallocate the phantom metro station Croix Rouge into a culinary space. Located in the 6éme arrondissement, the station will be transformed into a Halle halfway between an underground market and a restaurant with a cocktail bar on long quays of 75 meters. Another project is the Le Chai subaquatique or the underwater cellar; here not only can you have a drink (or two) but you can dive! Led by Winereef , the project includes a diving pit, a food market and urban agriculture garden. Réservoirs de Passy 16éme arrondissement. These and more new to paris at Reinventer Paris webpage : http://www.reinventer.paris/fr/resultats/

Do not recall if told you before but a classic is coming nearer me at Montparnasse (my entry point to Paris for the last few years).

It’s the Bouillon, the real, the only, the first in the matter.At the bottom of a small courtyard, the Bouillon Chartier captivated by its beauty preserved since 1896. Here is all the traditional French cuisine that is in the spotlight with low prices that make the house proud. And this, the group Joulie (owner of the Bouillon Chartier) understood it well, since a second  Bouillon  will open its doors at 59, boulevard de Montparnasse. More here: https://www.bouillon-chartier.com/fr/

The Le Chalet des îles on an island in the Bois de Boulogne, is since its creation under Napoleon III,  been a high-level spot for meetings. In the evening for  the social evenings and the day to sink into one of those armchairs by the fireside. As a country house that you would never want to leave, you can stay for hours to enjoy the quiet, yet so close to Paris. Le Chalet des ïles; 14, Chemin de Ceinture du Lac Inférieur 16éme arrondissement, open very day from noon to 22h30.  Webpage here: http://chalet-des-iles.com/en

We are painting you think of period furniture, grand piano and monumental chimney. You want some more? At the bar of the hotel Aubusson you can spend the evening enjoying the Jazz concerts (from Wednesday to Saturday evening) sipping a whisky by the fire. For the workers (or the most connected) the WiFi is free. Café Laurent, 33, rue Dauphine 6éme arrondissement, open daily from 12h to Midnight. Webpage here:  http://www.hoteldaubusson.com/en/cafe-laurent.html

On a non tourist news, I close out this news bulletin,  but me think worth telling you.  On Saturday 12 January at 9h (9am), a violent explosion caused by a gas leak erupted in the Boulangerie Hubert at rue de Trévise in the 9éme arrondissement of Paris. Since then, the city Hall of Paris has indicated that 6 Parisian buildings are at risk of collapse. Nine buildings are temporarily banned from occupancy, six of which threaten to collapse. The city of Paris remains fully mobilized in support of the victims. At the request of the mayor of Paris, they will all benefit from an accompaniment in their rehousing. They will also do everything they could to facilitate their efforts, particularly with regard to insurance. The commitment is clear: they will be at their side in this very difficult moment and we will not leave anyone without accommodation solution, City of Paris, the eternal city. A tribute was given this Thursday to Simon Cartannaz and Nathanael Josselin, the two firefighters killed in the explosion of the rue de Trévise in Paris. The Barracks Champerret,(HQ of firefighers brigades of Paris)  in the 17éme arrondissement of  Sergeant Simon Cartannaz and Corporal Nathanael Josselin had a farewell emotional tribute to these under 30 men who risk all to save, according to police more than 20 lives here. RIP


Enjoy your visit to our eternal Paris  you are in good hands here. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!




January 17, 2019

One personal touch ,Au Trappiste!

So on a cold wintery day in my neck of the Breton woods I like to come back to Paris again as I am lucky to do. If new to the blog, well worked for almost 10 years in Paris(75) while living in Versailles(78)…I now, live in the Morbihan (56) near Vannes, in Brittany for the last 8 years.

I used to hang out a lot in the city and written several pieces on shopping, eating, and drinking there. However, I sometimes become inspired or nostalgic about some spots very personal. I have been here to eat, drink, meet collegues and friends and participate in group organisations in Paris for many years at least since 2004. So let me tell you a bit more on the Au Trappiste. Too many to choose from in Paris but we all have our favorite even if just visiting.

First ,a bit on the history I like on this corner of Paris.

The rue Saint-Denis, located in the 1éme and 2éme arrondissements of Paris, is one of the oldest streets of Paris. Its axis is drawn from the 1C by the Romans, and it was the triumphant way of the Royals entrance in the capital. It is 1334 meters long, and was named because it is the road that leads directly from the Pont au Change bridge to the city of Saint-Denis, where is located the Basilica St Denis, necropolis of the kings of France.. This old road of Saint-Denis, was really named in honor of Saint Denis , who came from Italy around 250 or 270 A.D. with six companions to evangelize France. He was said to have been the first bishop of Paris (Lutèce), the Apostle of Gauls.

The street is line up parallel to the boulevard of Sébastopol and the rue Saint-Martin, and is part of the 1éme arrondissement or district in the quartier or neighborhood of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois, for the part between the Avenue Victoria and the Rue de Rivoli, neighborhood of Les Halles for the part between the rue de Rivoli and the rue Étienne-Marcel and from the 2éme arrondissement, rue Étienne-Marcel in the Bonne-Nouvelle neighborhood of bd Saint-Denis. During the French revolution, it was called Rue de Franciade.

The brewery bar is closer to Place du Châtelet to the Seine river.  Au Trappiste, 4 rue Saint Denis, open from 11h to 02h Monday thru Sunday and from 11h to 04h on Fridays and Saturdays. Here you are in Belgium with the monks; lots of good beer, simple good portions of food, moules or mussels and fries,and grill sausages. The first or ground floor is more noisy ,the second or upper floor more calm and better views!of Chatelet. no web but its just by the metro exit and rue de Rivoli. Best way is the metro ,the RER is too crowded to get here. OF course, I came by car and lovely parking at Châtelet too. One of my showcase hangouts in Paris. You , also, can get here on RER B and RER D Châtelet-Les Halles, as well as Metro lines 1 ,4, 7, 11, and 14 and your nice above ground bus line 21,70,72,4,74,75,and 85 stop Châtelet.


Dedicated mainly to Belgian beers, the Au Trappiste, of course offers many beverages from all over the world. No less than 120 bottled beers (including the majority of Trappist beers that are brewed in the world) and twenty drafts beers. Rare beers are found here too. On the plate side, they work on classic but well made dishes such as choucroutte (saukraut), french fries, steaks, burgers, croque monsieurs (ham and cheese sandwiches), mussels,sausages, etc.


dear memories of Au Trappiste with my dear late wife Martine my mamie blue!

The brewery bar resto Au Trappiste is on the south end of the street (near the river Seine) and is one of the most attractive beer bars in the city. There is breezy outdoor seating during the warm months of the year and beautiful light wooden decor inside with matching beams, walls, and tables. It has a nice clean modern yet traditional decor and has to be one of the best French styled bars for beer in Paris. The place is alive all day, until late at night, and a room in the upper floor allows to organize private events. Which I have been too ::)


Some of my favorite webpages found bottom of my main page in my blog roll give you plenty of more on the Au Trappiste.

Yelp on Au Trappiste Paris

The Fork on Au Trappiste Paris

Hope it helps your tracking here, lovely place, great service and great views from upper tfloor. Not to mention simple classic dishes with great selection of beers. Love it, at Au Trappiste, and many memories here.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!




January 16, 2019

Tower of London, yes of course ,London!

So lets shift gear and head over the neighbor to the other side, hopefull will stay close. I have been here several times, more on business than pleasure and we all love it. I guess we do not mind big cities… This is London, and one of the best for us has been the Tower of London.

I have written bits on it before in my blog, will just tell you a bit more here on the Tower of London. First, my business trips are done by airplane but the personal trips were done by car and it is super , love to drive in big cities too even on the wrong side of the road lol!

We came and ask around and was told to go the corner of Lillie rd and Seagraves rd where there was an Avis rental car park but for a fee they let you park, well it was word of mouth and it works, we parked there twice more and at half prices ,recall 16£ per day cash.  This is close to West Brompton tube Southern line You might want to check it out.  Althought, we stayed in apartment closer to Earls Court easy walking distance to get back home. The London inner ring road (beltway of London) with the local routes A406 and A205 (mine) and the motorways M25 getting around the city best to the city center of Inner London Oh yes to find your way driving, this is a tool I use rather nicely, good driving skills are needed London TrafficLondon Traffic helps your way around London




Let me tell you about our favorite sightseeing in London. Tower of London; wonderful places of history old and new. Visit the White Tower, and the Crown jewels section for sure.

The Tower of London is a historic fortress located on the north bank of the River Thames in London next to the tower bridge. The tower is located in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets east of the City of London in a space called Tower Hill. Its construction began towards the end of the year 1066 as part of the Norman conquest of England. The White Tower, which gave its name to the entire castle, was built on the order of William the Conqueror in 1078. It also served as Grand Palace and Royal residence. As a whole, the tower is a complex composed of several buildings surrounded by two concentric defensive walls and a moat.

A brief description if I may try it…

The tower consists of three ramparts. The inner rampart protects the white tower and represents the first phase of the castle’s construction. The intermediate rampart which encircled it to the north, east and West was built during the reign of King Richard I to ensure the security of the Kingdom during the reign of king Henry III, the castle was strengthened and extended, with among other things the construction of the Wakefield tower, the Lantern tower and a curtain wall surmounted by nine towers and surrounded by moats. Finally, a third rampart was built under king Edward I. The king only rarely stayed at the castle. A prison is installed there as well as a division of the Hotel Royal of the Treasury. The fortress is also used to store important goods and documents.


The White Tower is a dungeon, which was often the strongest structure of a medieval castle and the one that housed the dwellings of the Lord, in this case the king and his representatives. The White tower was also, by its strength, its majesty and its grandiose dwellings, the dungeon by excellence. As one of the largest dungeons in Christendom the White Tower has been described as the most complete 11C palace in Europe. The White Tower, without taking into account its corner towers, measures 36 × 32 meters at its base and rises to a height of 27 meters at the level of the south rampart. The building initially consisted of three floors: a basement, an entry level and a higher level. The entrance, as was the norm in the Norman dungeons, was above ground level. It was located on the south side and was equipped with a wooden staircase that could be removed in the event of an attack. The tower is mainly built with stone from Kent even though local mudstone was also used. From the stone of Caen was imported from the north of France to form details on the coating of the tower but much of it was replaced by Portland Stone in the 17-18C. Since most of the windows in the tower were enlarged in the 18C, there are only two originals, albeit restored on the south side.



The crypt of the Saint John Chapel occupied the southeast corner and was accessible only from the Oriental room. The upper level housed a large hall in the west and a residential room in the east, both initially open on the roof and surrounded by a gallery built in the wall, as well as the St John’s Chapel in the southeast. A fourth level was added in the 15C as is the current roof.


The inner rampart delineates an area just south of the White Tower and extends to what was the shore of the Thames river. The construction of the Wakefield and Lanthorn Towers, located at the corners of the inner rampart along the Thams river began around 1220 a door located near the Wakefield Tower allowed private access to the King’s apartments. The intermediate rampart was created during the reign of king Richard the Lion Heart when a clod was dug to the west of the inner rampart which allowed to double the size of the castle. The main entrance to the intermediate rampart would have been a body of guards probably in the west wall in what is presently the Beauchamp tower; The Beauchamp tower built in the 13C marked the first use on a large scale of the brick in Britain since the departure of the Romans in the 5C. The Beauchamp Tower is one of the thirteen towers located on the rampart.


The Salt Tower initially gave on the Thames river. Archers settled there to protect the tower and castle. The Broken Arrow Tower takes its name from the spear-iron symbol stamped on the property belonging to the King. From 1669 to 1841, the tower houses the Crown jewels. It was then known as the Jewel Tower. A third rampart was built under king Edward I. A bastion called Legge’s Mount was built at the north-west corner of the castle and a second bastion, Brass Mount, was later added to the northeast corner.   As a result of the addition of this new enclosure, the former main entrance to the Tower of London was blocked and a new entrance was created at the southwest corner of the outer rampart. In this rampart, it was built the St Thomas Tower between 1275 and 1279; subsequently called Traitors’s Gate, it replaced the bloody Tower as access door from the Thames river. From 1560, the Royal Mint was installed in a building backed by the exterior wall near the Salt Tower. Between 1348 and 1355, a second access gate on the river, the Cradle Tower, was added to the east of the St Thomas ‘ Tower for the exclusive use of the King.

A bit of history I like

After his victory at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, and vassal to the king of France spent the remainder of the year fortifying key positions to secure his power. Between 1066 and 1087 , William establishes 36 castles   as well as his subordinates. William sent an avant-garde to prepare his entry into the city, to celebrate his victory and to found a castle; The fortification which eventually became the Tower of London was built on the southeast corner of the ancient Roman walls of the city and were used to serve as prefabricated bases; In addition the Thames river provided an additional defense to the south. Almost all the first Norman castles were built of wood but at the end of the 11C some of them, including the Tower of London, were renovated with stone. The work on the White Tower, which gave it its name, would have started in 1078 but the exact date is uncertain. The Norman conquest of London was manifested not only in the form of a new ruling class but also in the way the city was structured. The land was confiscated and redistributed between the Normans. The castle probably retained its form established from 1100 until the reign of king Richard I ,the Lion Heart. It was enlarged under the impulse of William Longchamp, Lord Chancellor of Richard I and the man who was in charge of England when the king was on a crusade. In the 13C , the Kings Henry III and Edward I   enlarge the castle, the present form of which has hardly evolved since. From 1238, the castle was enlarged to the east, north and north-west.

The majority of the end of the 15C was marked by the war of the two Roses, which pitted the houses of Lancaster and Yorkshire; two contenders to the throne of England. The beginning of the Tudor period marked the decline of the Tower of London as a royal residence.   From 1547, the Tower of London was only used as a royal residence when its historical and political symbolism was deemed useful; For example, Edward VI, Marie I, and Élisabeth I stayed briefly before their coronation

Although much of the prison’s reputation was exaggerated, the 16-17C marked the culmination of the tower as a center of internment, and many religious and political opponents were detained there. Among the people executed at the tower are Anne Boleyn. So when Walter Raleigh was held in the tower, his cell was modified to accommodate his family whose son was born there in 1605. The executions were usually carried out at tower Hill rather than in the Tower of London itself and 112 people were there executed in over 400 years. Before the 20C, there were seven executions carried out within the castle in the Green Tower. This was reserved for prisoners whose public execution was deemed to be dangerous.

The tradition of harboring the crown jewels in the tower probably dates back to the reign of king Henry III. In 1649, during the first English revolution, the contents of the Jewel House were emptied of the royal properties. The metal objects were sent to the mint to be melted and reused, and the crowns were completely broken and disfigured. When the monarchy was restored in 1660, the only elements of the Coronation regalia were a 12C spoon and three ceremonial swords. The other objects had to be recreated. In 1669, the Jewel House was demolished and the crown jewels were moved to the Martin tower where they were exposed to the public.   Crown jewels are currently preserved in the Waterloo Barracks of the tower.

During WWI, eleven men were tried behind the walls and executed by a firing squad for espionage. During WWII, the tower was again used to detain prisoners of war. One of them was Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler’s representative, but only for four days in 1941. He was the last prisoner of state to be imprisoned , and the last execution in the tower was that of the German spy Josef Jakobs shot on 14 August 1941. The executions during the two world wars took place in a small field of shooting practice located near the exterior rampart which was demolished in 1969

The Tower of London had become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country in 1984, the London subway station Tower Hill (Mark Lane before 1967) was opened north of the tower, bringing tourists and locals more closer to the Tower of London . The Tower is managed by a Recognized Association of Public Utility, the Historic Royal Palaces, which receives no assistance from the Government or the Crown and is funded by donations and admissions.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official management organisation of the Tower of London

Tourist office of London on the Tower of London

There you go a wonderful spot to start your London sightseeing  ,why not go for the main ones first and this is tops. Tower of London for all of London thereafter! Hope you enjoy the tour.

And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!







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January 16, 2019

The Nord: Le Quesnoy and Mauberge!

And continuing my saga of the Nord or north of my belle France I take you closer to family and times expent there for years since 1990. As usually the case with places so familiar and personal , photos are minimum. Need to come back for them lol!!!

On this particular Sunday, I like to take you to visit two nice cities along the Franco-Belgian border, that is Le Quesnoy and Mauberge in the department 59 of the Nord, in the region of Hauts de France.

I have written on them a bit before such as from this writing:  We stay in the way Nord to see two small towns ,Mauberge with its wall fortifications going back to 1676, the museum les Corps de Garde, and the nice places to eat with good beers of the north. We have Le Quesnoy,it has fortified ramparts, they are 12 km of walls in line around a fortified wall intact of 3,5 km in circle with an ingenious systems of wells.  A belltower or Beffroi of 48 carillons,and a Hotel de Ville city govt building from 1700, and a most vivid a memorial to New Zealanders who fought here in WWI ,and now Le Quesnoy is forever linked to the city of Cambridge in New Zealand. A vivid nice memorial for all to see and not forget.

And I go on with some update wonderful information to help you visit these wonderful frontier towns.

Maubeuge is a town in the Nord department 59 in Hauts-de-France region. The Franco-Belgian border is only 7 km north of the city. The province passes to the House of Austria from 1478 to 1513, and to the House of Spain from 1513 to 1678. Maubeuge was definitively attached to France by the Treaty of Nijmegen of 1678, ratified by King Louis XIV a few days later, and by the King of Spain Carlos II , a few days further on.

A bit of history I like

During the French revolution in 1793, the siege was placed before the city by the Austrians of the Prince of Saxe-Coburg. A few months later it was the Battle of the Sambre, in 1794, which took over Maubeuge, and ended with the victory of the revolutionaries, thus securing the conquest of Belgium.

Following the defeat of the Napoleonic armies in Leipzig in October 1813, the coalition forces invaded France. The stronghold of Maubeuge resisted victoriously in 1814 to the attacks of the Duke of Saxe-Weimar troops. During the Hundred Days, Napoleon’s troops prepared here for the nearby Battle of Waterloo. Three days after this defeat, on June 21, 1815, Maubeuge was besieged by 12 000 Prussians and had to surrender. Following three years of occupation by the Prussian and then Russian troops.

In 1678, the signing of the Treaty of Nijmegen ended the war in the United Provinces. This treaty allows France to fill a fortified border in the north of its territory. This line of fortifications is almost identical to our current border with Belgium (from Dunkirk to Givet). The ensemble imagined for Maubeuge is composed of a line of ramparts of a height of ten meters flanked by seven bastions in Roll-ons. To close the space between two bastions, a half-moon belt is added (completely surrounded by ditches). The construction of this ensemble lasted from 1679 to 1685 in the north, on the place Vauban, leaning against the wall the Porte de Mons, a stone work surmounted by attics as of the Mansart style. Built in 1682 with materials of local origin two buildings from the military heritage have survived; the powder shop located near the rue de la Croix exhibits a vaulted room covered with a thick earth mount. The Arsenal built between 1678 and 1689 develops a long silhouette on three levels (103 meters long by 12 meters wide). This building is part of the barracks planned at the time to house the troops of the garrison.

In WWI will re-test the city until finally liberated by the British on 9 November 1918. WWII, on the other hand, had a disastrous effect on the city destroying the heart of Maubeuge at more than 90%. On September 2, 1944, the city was liberated from the Nazis occupier by the American’ 3rd Armoured Division known as SpearHead , led by Gen Maurice Rose.

The town other than fortications has a nice Zoo , to visit is worth the detour.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to nice Mauberge are

City of Mauberge on heritage

Tourist office of Mauberge on heritage

Offical Zoo of Mauberge

Info, contact on the tourist office are Tél  +33 (0) 3 27 62 11 93, and email tourisme.maubeuge@gmail.com

Tourist office of the region Avesnois on things to see

Moving right along to Le Quesnoy,  also a town in the Nord department 59 in the Hauts-de-France region. It has kept intact its characteristic ramparts which show the evolution of the art of Defence of the 17C (the so-called Spanish era) at the beginning of the 20C passing by the famous Vauban who changed its appearance. Belgium is 10 km away!

The border town undergoes a siege by the Austrian army of Cobourg and falls in 1793 it was retaken in 1794 by the troops of Schérer after a severe siege under a downpour rain.The news of the capture of the city is transmitted in a few hours by the telegraph Chappe, a world premiere, to the Committee of Parisian Public Salvation which welcomes it.

le quesnoy

le quesnoy

The city taken in 1914 by the German troops suffered a severe occupation during four years, that after a difficult approach by the Valley of the Ecaillon, the city was liberated in 1918 by a New Zealand Division. In 1923, the New Zealand monument was inaugurated. The Mayor Daniel Vincent welcomes Marshal Joffre, Lord Milner (one of the English signatories to the Treaty of Versailles) and Sir Allen, representative of New Zealand. The communal cemetery of the Quesnoy and its extension host 189 war graves of the Commonwealth War Graves Soldier’s Commission who died in November 1918, of which 49 are New Zealanders.

le quesnoy

A bit of history I like

The city was under Hainaut, Burgundian, and Spanish occupation and or control .Before the end of the Fronde in 1654, the city is taken by the Royal French Army of Turenne. The city that had never been French became it for the great pleasure of the court. The young king Louis XIV receives the city as a gift of his coronation.

In WWII, once defeated the Algerian Tirailleurs Battalion, which defended Jolimetz with a few tanks in support after the Nazis’ breakthrough through the defences of the Sambre, the 5th Panzer stood in front of the ramparts of the Quesnoy on 18 May 1940 towards the end of In the afternoon. The Nazis of the 5th Panzer, who are preparing a new attack with tanks and heavy artillery, propose to the defenders to give their surrender, which they accept in the afternoon.

Some webpages here to help you plan your trip are

City of Le Quesnoy on heritage

Tourist office of Le Quesnoy on heritage

Tourist office of the Avesnois on Le Quesnoy

Hope it helps come over to this wonderful northern region of France, unique and different but still the my belle France. Mauberge and Le Quesnoy are those town that are full of history and architecture but seldom gets recognition by the visitors. Hope it helps you discovered them

And remember, happy travel, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


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January 15, 2019

Cambrai, the Nord in Hauts de France!

And continuing this brief tour of Northern France dear to me I take you again to my family civic duty town of Cambrai, in the Nord department 59 of the Hauts de France region. This is a town very often by passed by visitors.

I have told you before that my dear late wife Martine oldest brother lives not far from here in a smaller town and all their adminitrative duties are done here in Cambrai .So naturally, when visiting the bro, we were taken here way back in 1990. We have several times afterward even if not a real tourist town. Cambrai is nice and has a nice history to it.

I like to tell you a bit more on Cambrai and hopefully you take the drive or train to see it. It is nice as in my belle France! To recap from my previous post

Lets go over to Cambrai, where my family goes to have their regional govt needs.  Obviously no hotels and little restos as it is close to home, so the places to see are the Cathédrale Notre Dame, built 1696-1702. a classic example of the Louis XV architecture and an icon Notre Dame de Grâce from 1492 still venerated ,it is at Place Jean Paul II. The Chapelle des Jésuites, built 1678-1694. Considered one of the best jewels of the baroque art form in France, it is at Place du Saint Sépulcre. The Citadelle built by emperor Charles V in 1543 ,it is at blvd Paul Bezin.Chateau de Selles ar rue Selles, one of the best kept example of the Middle Ages. The must Musée Militaire de Cambrai, retracing the history of the 1st infantry regiment of France fighting in from 1870, WWI,and WWII. It is the oldest regiment in France and in Christianity!!! it is at Cour de la Manutention, Rue des Capucins. By ave de la Victoire you can still the see the entrance gate to the city from Paris or the Porte de Paris, built around 1339 ,it was last renovated in 1904. Not really a sight but a mouthful are the two culinary institutions in town known for ages of all sorts, these are the Chocolaterie Diot, at  189 avenue Georges Nuttin near the commerce park of  ZC de Cora,where there is also a supermarket Cora. then you have what my kids grew up on the candies of Cambrai better known as the Bétise de Cambrai ,they are part of the culinary inventory of France and official candy of parc Asterix near Paris. There are located as you enter the city from Paris, at the industrial park ZI and you can order it here or at any store in Cambrai or the nord or even in Paris.

Here is a webpage in French with a nice video on how the candy mistakes of Cambrai are done ; bétise= mistake in the creation of this jewel of French gastronomy. Living heritage of France site on the Bétise de Cambrai candy


And a bit more on Cambrai, lovely to visit I say!

Cambrai is a town part of the  Habsburg  in the 16C, and rediscovered the kingdom of France in the 17C.  Strongly destroyed during WWII  due to the air raids, the town rebuilt itself in the aftermath, revealing today a pleasant face to the tourists. Although a large part of the heritage has disappeared over the centuries, the town of Cambrai still has interesting sights to discover during the time of a stay on site.

A bit of history I like

At the beginning of the Merovingian period, Cambrai became the seat of a vast bishopric extending across the right bank of the Escaut river  and the center of a small ecclesiastical principality which depended on the Holy Roman Empire until annexation to France in 1678.  This came about due to the Treaty of Nijmegen signed on 10 August 1678 , where Spain abandons Cambrai, and the town is definitively annexed by France. Here the famous bishop Fénelon, nicknamed the Swan of Cambrai, was the most illustrious of the archbishops.

The city suffers from the French revolution in 1796, the cathedral, marvel of the Netherlands, is sold in 1796 to a merchant who leaves only the tower. Deprived of support, it collapsed in 1809 during the French Revolution all the religious buildings of the city were sold as national property and destroyed , including the old Cathedral. Only four Churches, transformed into an attic, a hospital, a temple of reason or in prison, are spared. The Cathedral of Notre Dame Grace, completed in 1703 in the classical style of the time, replaced after the revolution of 1789 the admirable Gothic cathedral of the 12C, of which there is no traces on the present place Fénelon.

The gate of Paris (late 14C), of  Notre Dame (17C) and the towers of the towers of  Sottes (or Saint-Fiacre), of Caudron (first half of 15C), and des Arquets (16C) are the remains of the medieval ramparts.  Occupied and partially destroyed by the German army during WWI, Cambrai saw at its doors in 1917 the battle where the tanks were used for the first time used massively. The WWII, finally the first American tanks entered the city on September 2. 1944 , and thereafter the town followed a reconstruction program. A picture below of the oldies I was able to find in place Aristide Briand in city center Cambrai!circa 2006!!! ok ok just wanted to mention Cambrai !!!!

cambrai pedro and kids centre ville place aristide briand jun02

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Cambrai on heritage

Tourist office of Cambrai on heritage in English

There a bit more as promise, hope it helps you come on over and see some nice architecture of the north of France, is different promise. Cambrai has many examples.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!




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