Archive for February 24th, 2011

February 24, 2011

Meaux,brie cheese, and the Cathedral

A while back I didnt even know there was a Meaux, a few years back. That is until I happened to meet a young lady in Paris ! She was a native of Meaux but work in Paris as a secretary to a real estate company.  The rest is history, today she is my wife of 20 years, 3 boys, and many many trips to Meaux, in department Seine et Marne ,no 77. east of Paris.

It would be hard to tell you everything about the town, that I have come to know every bit nook and cranny of it, where my boys roll in baby carriages since age 5 weeks !! for one and 6 mos for the other 2,twins !!! Even along cobblestone streets around the Cathedral. But, I will try to tell you a bit about it ,and maybe you will come to know MEAUX too ::)

Its people are call the Meldois, going back to celtic tribes in the area of the Meldois, very old town yes.  In the region of Brie, cross by the wonderful river Marne (that goes into Champagne country !) , the town was occupied by vikings in 882AD, and even before that many Romans remains have been found by the river bed, and next to the Canal de l’Ourcq. The town was a major scene of WWI, with the famous Battle of the Marne play just around it, the bridge going over to the marché was destroyed by the French to hold the advance of the Germans, and it was successful. There are many monuments to the dead around just outside of town, with huge statues dedicated to them such as the Monument Americain (b. 1932) , dedicated to the Americans, and plaques inside the Cathedral dedicated to the British who died in its fields. If you are into military history you should come here.

To come here from Paris, you can take the train at Gare de l’Est to the station in Meaux, or you can drive on the A4 connecting with the A140 straigth into town or do the scenic ride on the N3 from Porte de Pantin in Paris all the way to Champagne country passing thru city center Meaux.  The train webpage for the ile de France region in English is here http://www.transilien.com/web/site/lang/en , it can ,also be read in Spanish. The easiest is to trace the route in viamichelin in English here if coming by car, http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/.  Best parking is by parking centre ville (underground parking) entrance facing the river Marne or along cours de l’arquebuse road (open air).  For local public transport see the city of Meaux transport page in French here http://www.ville-meaux.fr/-Transports-publics-.html

The town is divided into sections or neighborhood some newer away from the river and the old ones from times afar such as the city center or centre ville, and ,the Marché , just across from the bridge over the river Marne, the Faubourg Saint-Nicolas (where my wife is from), the Châage-Saint Faron or area of the hospital (where she was born), and the ave de la Republique/La Croix de Varenne, from where the escapee Louis XVI was brought back to Paris spending a night here.

Some of the places of interest in the town in my opinion are , the gallo roman ramparts still visible today and near where I lately park my car! , the complex of the Cité Episcopal includes the Cathedral St Etienne of Meaux (12-15C) a jewel of gothic art, and holds the remains of bishop Bossuet, the religious teacher and advisor of king Louis XIV; the episcopal palace (12-16C) , the vieux chapitre (13C) , and the jardin Bossuet (17C), and Musée Bousset with paintings and sculptures  of the ile de France region  ; the many convents proof of its strong religious past are couvent de la Visitation, chapelle des sœurs Augustines, chapelle des sœurs Saint-Joseph de Cluny, église Notre-Dame du Marché, église Notre-Dame de Chaâge, and as well beautiful mansions as such hôtel Macé de Montoury, hôtel Passelaigue, hôtel de la Sirène, hôtel Prévost de Longpérier, hôtel Marquelet de la Noue, and the old hôtel Dassy which have been redone as apartments! The Château Frot, the music conservatory today at cours Pinteville. And something that is to start by November 11, 2011 the museum of the Grande Guerre as call in French WWI, you can see been built in French here, at the official webpage http://www.museedelagrandeguerre.eu/

You can lodge well in the Campanile hotel at webpage http://www.campanile-meaux.fr/en/index.aspx  , very good friendly folks used for family gathering over the years. In city center, the historic Le Richemond is grand and very nice by the river Marne at good prices, webpage http://www.hotel-lerichemont.com/index_en.php.

To eat out, there are plenty of good restos we enjoy over the years such as Le Briconnet, just around our alley ,the webpage is in French but they will respond in English if contacted, see details first page, glorious attention and good French food, http://www.lebriconnet.fr/accueil.html  La Péniche ,is a boat resto by the river Marne, great tradition and good food tooo, webpage in French bien sûr  http://la.peniche.free.fr/ ,and Le Laureat, just in city center by the Cathedral, refine and old French, http://www.lelaureat.com/ . La Table à Crêpes, in city center, very good over the years, still going strong with real Bretons, and food/beer/cider from the country, 5, rue des Vieux Moulins tel +33 01 60 09 48 98. up from the river Marne past the hotel de ville .

The things to buy here of course, the world famous Brie de Meaux, the king of cheeses and the cheese of Kings, as per the Congress of Vienna 1815. You can find the original in the marché or the fromagerie in city center, the webpage for the fraternity that guard over the authenticity of this cheese is here in French, http://www.confreriedubriedemeaux.fr/actualite/accueil.htm

And there is the mustard of Meaux, well renown, the story goes well there is no telling when it was created !!! all we know is that in 1760 someone gave to a Mr. M.J.B Pommery , the secret recipe for the mustard, that has by priviledge be presented on the tables of the kings of France since 1632 AD , the house of  Pommery came to be located at 69 rue du faubourg St Nicolas until 1927 refusing to give the secret away, at that time the last descendant of the house sells the business with recipe and all . Still commercialise in all over by this webpage ,and you can buy it too in many stores in Meaux, the manufacture is an adjacent town where we have family too, http://www.moutarde-de-meaux.com/en/contact.php

You have the marché or market in city center around the blvd Rose,and the river or around the cinema Majestic every wednesday mornings, Saturday all day, and Sunday morning. Under the covered market in just over the river Marne you will find merchant selling the real brie cheese with un pasteurised milk.  The area just outside Meaux along the A140 is full of stores of all kinds, a great shopper paradise with prices better than Paris.  City center around rue st Remy is pedestrian only.  For the brie cheese and many other do come to La Fromagerie de Meaux,4, rue du Général Leclerc, city center off rue st Remy, tel +33   01 64 34 22 82 ,is open every day except mondays and even open Sunday morning. Bakeries goodies our favorite is Boulangerie Prentignac, 31, rue du Faubourg St Nicolas ,tel +33 01 64 34 12 38 open every day even Sunday mornings, except Mondays.  TAke cty center rue St Remy and you will have a field day shopping typical French. For entertainement with the family head over to the Majestic theater or cinema, my first movie and have come back for more, the webpage is here http://www.cinesoco.com/meaux/ located at place Henri IV, with nice parking next to it.

The official city of Meaux webpage has tourist information too, however, in French, if need help let me know. http://www.ville-meaux.fr/-Tourisme-et-patrimoine-.html?lang=fr

For further tourist info,you can look at the department tourist webpage here in English ( I have in the Cathedral of Meaux page) http://www.tourism77.co.uk/heritage-culture-france/religious-heritage/cathedral-meaux.htm

Hope you have enjoyed this small trip to a very special place for me. Cheers.

 

%d bloggers like this: