Archive for February 6th, 2011

February 6, 2011

Poissy, the other royal town

Many bypass this lovely small town on their way to Normandy from Paris on the A13 or the train. However, it is a royal town of France, baptismal of king Louis IX or Saint Louis was at its church, and it is easy to get from Gare Saint Lazare in Paris (direction Mantes) or the RER A from several points in Paris.

I live close by, and do enjoy the church here Collegiale de Notre Dame. The wonderful toy museum ,and the fine liquor Noyau that is done here, and not forget the modern Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier  is here too.  At one time it was an important market for animals of consumption such cows, pigs, etcs with a huge slaughter house. It still has the marché very nicely done indoor and outdoors. A bit about this nice town bordering the forest of St Germain en Laye.

The Collégiale de Notre Dame built in the 12C  is its most amazing sight, here there was a college of priests so that it was call collegiale, the tower is facing the rising sun to commemorate in August 15 to our Lady of the Assomption.  you see inside the stones of the fountain where  the future Louis IX was baptised (April 15, 1214 ), statues of Isabelle the daughter of Louis IX, plus a young Louis IX praying. The church is at 8 rue de l’Eglise, open everyday from 8h-12h and 14h-19h.  The size is nice and grand, just a marvel to see ,and recently power clean to its old luster. Official webpage of the church in FRench

The Musée des Jouets or toys museum is a favorite of all children and adults too, my kids love it. Its in the building of the abbey of Poissy 14C with toys from the periods 1850 to 1950. First floor is full of toys with a presentation from 1900, then the second floor is railroad tracks , dolls, trains, the works, the visit is ended by a presentation of more modern toys. Lovely, at 1 enclos de l’Abbaye. No web as it belongs to the city of Poissy now, contact email

 Distellerie de Noyau de Poissy, a liquor born here, very famous, and delicious, there are two one that is done at 30° and its use for crepes, salads of fruits, ice creams, etc. The other one is at 40° it is used for cocktails mixers and aperitifs. Its located in city center near the market area. Official webpage

Halle du Marché or market is in city center using buildings done by Baltard between 1825 and 1832. It is modeled after the Halles de Paris, and it open three times per week, Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays at the Place de la République. Lively and great bargains.

Villa Savoye de Le Corbusier, built between 1928 and 1931 closes a cycle started by Le Corbusier. Incorporating all the modern facilities in advance of his time, modernism at its best. Located at 82 rue de Villiers, Open every day except Mondays as follows, March 1 to April 30 and Sept 1 to Oct 31 from 10h to 17h. From May 2nd to August 31, open from 10h to 18h. From November 2 to February  28 10h00 to 13h and 14h to 17h. It is closed May 1,November 1,11, December 25 ,and January 1. More info at its official webpage

I dont stay here obviously so cant really recommend lodgings but the Ibis Hotel by the train station is walking distance to everything, and of a good chain that I use a lot. webpage  . For eating out, Le Boucanier, 32 ave Emile Zola is fantastic by the river Seine, live music, and great grout food, the place to be in Poissy webpage  and for light snacks but excellent ambiance, beers and people watching by the train station try the La Taverne, 18 Rue de la Gare, they have live concerts of live music here on weekends that is good, no web contact Tel. +33 01 39 65 29 46

The tourist office is at 132 rue du Général de Gaulle and its a rounded tower built in 1832 to make payment of the animals sold, and a tax to enter the city, its mark the city limits. tourist office webpage

The city of Poissy webpage for transport and other such as a photo of the round tower of the tourist office is here

Enjoy the Royal Town of Poissy! Cheers!!!

February 6, 2011

Versailles and its museums

Someone once told me the castle at Versailles its not a museum, well it is a very big and nice museum in a castle; just on my last post on St Germain enLaye there is a very nice historical museum in a castle. Many abound. However, I like to talk a bit about the other museums in Versailles ,yes there are others; and one who is trying to be one but it is a historical monument.

I will name them here, Jeu de Paume, Osmothéque, Lambert,and maison de Madame Elizabeth, museum of Carriages, and Musiciens Italienes. Let me tell you a bit about them ,and maybe you will have time next time in town to see them. Ok. First, the tourist office of Versailles, webpage

In the jeu de Paume of Versailles the parliamentarians of the Estates General of France met and swear never to leave until they have created a new constitution ,this was on june 1789 with a very emotional speech.  It is also here that in 1686 the first rules and probably game of Tennis was played. After the revolution, many thing was done here not related at all,even a shop by painter Gros . It is not until 1883 that the city takes the opportunity to renovate and improve the site, finally it was renovated again in 1988 to make it available to the public on specific dates. You have a guide tour at 15h on Saturdays with prior reservation with the tourist office of Versailles, tel +33 (0)1 39 24 88 88 .

Next ,you have the Osmothéque, this is a perfum museum open by reservation too, it has a collection of more than 1800 perfums of which about  400 are no longer available or extinct ; some are the parfum royal of the 1C, the Eau de Cologne of Napoleon at Ste Heléne, Fougére royale d’Houbigant (1884), the Parfums of Rosine,Coty,Lubin,Piver,Weil, Patou, and others. Some of the perfum houses in order to keep their fragances have donated them to the museum such as Ambre Angique (1905), Le Chypre (1917), and Crepe de Chine (1925) etc.  The visit is very intuitive as they can recompose these fragances even today, and you will learn a lot about perfums.  The visit are by appointment only, mondays to fridays, contact at  36, rue du parc de Clagny, Tél : +33(0)1 39 55 46 99, Fax : +33(0)1 39 55 73 64, Email :   webpage

Musée Lambert is the city of Versailles museum, it is in a mansion or hôtel particuliers of the 15C in Louis XV style of architecture built in 1751. A dept of fine arts with work from the 16C to 20C ;including paintings and scultures, a dept of decorative arts  showing what an apartment of the 18C looks like, a department of  history showing the entire history of Versailles.  Admission is only 4€, and contact location info is here, 54 boulevard de la Reine Tel : +33(0)1 39 50 30 32, and  Fax : +33(0)1 39 51 90 88. No web but this is a lovely house with beautiful items that should be worth seeing by anyone.

The maison of Madame Elizabeth, is the house that king Louis XVI gave to his younger sister Elizabeth when she was only 19 yrs old in 1783. She entertain the people in this house full of the happenings of the court away from the court,she was a strong defender of her brother, and maybe for that she was ,also, guillotine at the age of 30 in 1794. He was made into some manufacturing fashion after the revolution ,and later was purchase by the city that it maintain in the middle of a very nice park Domaine de Montreuil. The house is at 73 rue de Paris just up the road from the Castle , and can only be visited by reservation at tel + 33(0)1 39 07 78 78. This is a nice webpage in French with nice pictures of the house, by the government site at

There is a seldom visited museum because it only opens on certains dates, that is the musée des Carrosses, or carriage museum at the Grand Ecurie built between 1679 and 1682;  building across from the Chateau. Here the horse carriages of the kings are kept including the last one of Louis XVI, and the marriage of Napoleon I amongst others; the future dates are Sunday 24 april 2011,Sunday  8 may 2011, Thursday 2 june 2011, Sunday 12 june 2011, and Thursday 14 july 2011. Inquire at the castle itself or  +33(0)1 30 83 78 00 .

The Maison des Musiciens Italienes, is the house where the musicians hire by Louis XIV to play at the opera were housed, they came from Italy. It was later occupied by Mme Marsan the governor of Louis XV, and later by a botanist Le Bonnier, later it was restored by the companogne and it is now their museum. Located at ( Musée du compagnonnage).15 rue Champ Lagarde , contact Tel : +33 (0)6 07 39 70 00. It is now visited by reservation only .

In the continuing sage to show you the other Versailles, hope you enjoy

them as much as I. Any further info ,please let me know. I used to live here for almost 10 years. Cheers!!!

February 6, 2011

Saint-Germain-en-Laye, fit for a king

The town of St Germain en Laye is located in department 78, call Yvelines , west of Paris. It is very near me and I do shopping and eating out there often with the family. It is ,also, the birthplace of king Louis XIV with a beautiful castle now a wonderful museum. To come best on the RER A from many points in Paris, or the train  station Grand  Ceinture ,just at entry to the city from the west, train from Paris gare St Lazare, the official site for the local trains is

The town offers many sightseeing choices and it is very easy to get to from Paris.  The town grew because of the castle and the forest that surround it which are magnificent with a wonderful view of Paris in the distance and its monuments at the park done by Le Notre. The name is old possibly from 972 AD when king of the French Robert I had built a monastery in honor of ST GErmain ,probably St Germain des Prés. The name of the town can be translated as Saint Germain of the forest in new French.

Some less known stories is that king François I married Claude de France in the chapel of the old castle in 1514 AD, and became its favorite living property. Henri II is also born here, and he became king in 1547!  Charles IX established a glass making trade in 1561, and  Henri IV exempt the inhabitants of all taxes in 1599 priviledge that lasted until 1789! king Louis XIII spent his youth at the old castle, and it was while hunting from here that he discovered another place to later build his hunting lodge-Versailles. He later died here in 1643, while his son Louis XIV was born here in 1638. As king Louis XIV spent a great deal of his time here from 1661  to 1682 afterward the castle decline as the new other property was been built at Versailles. The king of England Edward II comes here in exile from 1689 to his death in 1701 at the old castle, and is buried across the street at the church of St Germain.

It is from here that in 1837 the first railroad line in France is born linking St Germain en Laye with Paris!  The castle goes thru several hard times from been a school of cavalary to a hospital to a military prison until finally in 1862 a law passes to make of the castle a museum as the National Archeological Museum or Musée d’Archeologie National and it opens its door under Napoleon III in 1867. During WWII the city is occupied by nazy troops and finally liberated by Americans, the European commandant is set up here as the United States European Command from 1954 at Camp des Loges. Today its a vibrant community full of life.

Some of the sights to see here of course is the castle now National Museum of Archeology ,well kept with a beautiful chapel and inner courtyard, floors of antiquities artifacts from the region very nicely display, and the adjoining park design by Le Notre overlooking Paris. Behind the castle in what is now the restaurant Pavillon Henri IV, a marker displays the fact that king Louis XIV was born there. Admission to the museum is 4,50€ (this is the castle) the official webpage of museum is

You have the museum Claude Debussy, one of the greatest French composer, at his native house at 38 rue au Pain ,right in city center and free admission, the museum is link to the tourist office website to follow at end. Also, the museum/Garden  Maurice Denis a famous painter at 2 rue Maurice Denis, admission is 4,50€  and official website is here

Also, to visit are the Castle of or chateau du Vals right at the end of the grand terrace that overlooks Paris, it house since 1927 the retirees of the Legion d’Honneur of France. And the castle or Chateau de Hennemont  built early 20C by a pharmacist of different architectural styles , it sits right at the entrance to the city on the N13 road. By the Rampe des Grotte you will see fountain dedicated to the dragon,neptune, and whales, the only remains of the new castle that existed there built by Henri IV but left in dispair when Versailles was built.It sits now behind the resto pavillon Henri IV.

Many beautiful mansions or hôtels particuliers were built and remain wonderful properties to see in town, these are , Hôtel de Bontemps, 9 rue Roger-d-Nézot, built 17C for the room maid of king Louis XIV. Hôtel de Fieubet, 2 rue Voltaire, adviser to king Louis XIV and chancellor of the queen that acquires it in 1670 and resold it in 1693. Hôtel de Guise, 17 rue des Coches,  rebuilt in the 18C it belongs to Henri de Guise, grandson of king Henri I.  Hôtel de Noailles, at rue d’Alsace a wonderful property of the dukes of Noailles governors of Saint Germain until the revolution and built at end of 17C by architect Hardouin Mansart,  a road was created in 1836,crossing the central property of the building the two wings still standing at 10 and 11 rue d’Alsace. composer Mozart stayed here in 1778. Hôtel des Maréchaux de Villeroy 18 rue de la Salle ,property of  Nicolas de Neuville, duke of  Villeroy (1597-1685),minister of State of king Louis XIII, and one of the governors of king Louis  XIV in 1646 , becoming marshal of France the same year.  The property passes to his son François, raise with Louis XIV and also duke of  Villeroy, he was marshal of France, and governor of  Louis XV as well as minister of the council of Regents . Hôtel known as Conti and Hôtel known as de Soubise, Place Charles de Gaulle, built between  1754 -1758. The Hôtel Conti  was purchase by Louis Armand 1er de Bourbon-Conti, Prince of Conti . Property of  Louis-François de Bourbon Conti, prince of Conti that fought under Louis XV in Germany, Flanders and Italy during the war of succession . In 1754 ,the Duchess d’Orléans, daughter of  Louis-Armand  de Bourbon Conti sell the hotel to Georges René Binet, first room maid of dauphin Louis Auguste, future king  Louis XVI. the hotel was renovated between 1754- 1758 as well as the neighboring Hôtel de Soubise . Hôtel de la Feuillade, 24 rue du Vieil Abreuvoir, belongs to François d’Aubusson, duke de la Feuillade, marshal of France in 1675 and  vice-roy of Sicily in 1677. It passes on to his heir and now to the city. Hôtel de la Marquise de Maintenon, 23 rue du Vieil Abreuvoir  a modest home at first built after 1643  and purchase by madame de Maintenon in 1680. She never lived here as she was living with the king at the chateau de Saint Germain ;today there is no public admitted but you can see the outside.  Hôtel du Duc de Montausier, 22 rue du Vieil Abreuvoir built in the 17C and renovated in the 19C it belongs to the Duke of Montausier (1610-1690), governor of the dauphin .It later was occupied by Marshal  Lyautey from 1887 to 1891.  Hôtel de Crequy, 10-12 rue de Paris, renovated and enlarge in the 18C and then in 1979/1980. It has at second and third floors iron balconies of the times of Louis XV. The door is done from the 19C  in wood.

The church of Saint Germain  of today was consacreted in 1827  been the fourth church built on the same spot.  4 place Charles de Gaulle across from the castle, its official webpage is

I have not stayed in hotels as live 10 mins away but the grands of the city are the Pavillon Henri IV, in which I have eaten and it is very good, tops of French gastronomy. The spot where the king Louis XIV was born in 1638, the official webpage is . There is a simpler Campanile hotel outside city limits on the road N13 buses will bring you in, but again only try their buffet there which is good deal. webpage is

to eat, the very best for sports is the Bitter End, 20 rue St Pierre, for some drinks and light food, menus at lunch from 11€ webpage du Théatre, place Charles de Gaulle across from castle, menus from 15€  no web Tel +33 01 30 61 28 00
. La Fringale, bar a tapas, 24 rue St Pierre, menus from 15€ ,no web tel +33 01 34 51 77 78.

Shopping I do at the marché ,place du marché neuf,  open Tuesdays and Fridays from  8h30 to 13h, and Sundays from 8h30 to 13h30. There is also all sort of clothing for sale too in addition to the goodies produce, meats, cheeses, etc. I do around the corner the Famille Mary, 14 rue de Pologne, honey, pain d’épice, bio, supplements,soaps all derived from honey, this is the local branch stores all over,  webpage  . Also next door Damart, 20 rue de pologne, great clothing for men and women very old traditional name in France, we do like it; webpage  .  For bread, pastries and all sort of goodies are favorites are Boulangerie Bertrand , 18 rue de Pologne,no web tel +33 01 34 51 02 65
and for chocolates, macarons, fine pastries and cakes Patisserie Grandin, 13 rue au Pain,  webpage

The tourist office for Saint-Germain-en-Laye is on webpage ; the tourist office for the region of Ile de France (Paris region) is at Hope it helps you enjoy this wonderful city with lots of quaint streets and history at every corner. Cheers



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