Archive for March 3rd, 2011

March 3, 2011

Chatou and Chaussy, paint and nature IDF

These are two jewels that is known one by its Impressionists legions and the other one ,well is hidden in the woods. Its a way to spread out from Paris ,and see France. I think I lost the pictures that I had on a CDRom but so what I will definitively come back for them in the walks and rides of Pedmar 10 ::)

The first is the little known Domaine de Villarceaux, this is in Chaussy the extremes of the Ile de France region almost in Normandy territory. It has 900 years of history so might as well tell you some. First it is best with a car, along the A15 autoroute to Rouen then the N14 same direction and get out at the sortie/exit Vernon/hodent, take the road D86 direction Chaussy. You can do it from the A13 autoroute de normandie taking sortie Mantes la Jolie, Mantes Est no 11 stay on the N183 road direction Limay, then just past Drocourt bear left on road D142 direction Villers-en-Arthies, and then Chaussy. It is deep in the woods so the trains are either to Mantes La Jolie and then hire a taxi or to Magny-en-Vexin and do the same.

You will come to an oasis in the forest, with a parterre sur l’eau (garden just by the big lake Le Grand Etang, there are other basins like Bassin des Huit Jets, you have an old tower, tour Saint-Nicolas, then the communs du manoir or the servants farmers quarters of old . You move on into more woods before before you like a cinderella castle you see the Castle of 18C architecture before it a hill of fine grass call Le Vertugadin, of 530 meters long (1749 ft)  and to the right of it the Orangerie.  All in 70 hectares of domaine land (173 acres).  And all classify as an historical monument in France.

Le manoir started small probably in the 12C or 13C where king Louis VII found a small prierie of benedictine woman.  A century later it is the lord of Villarceaux, and in the 15C a castle fortress. It is enlarge during the Renaissance with agricultural dependancies and servants quarters,and was inhabited by the mistress of the marquis de Villarceaux. The area of the tour Saint Nicolas is from the 16C. The Orangerie is from the 19C. The Chateau is magnificently decorated with period furniture and objects d’art as well as tapestries. In the le Grand Etang with an area of 3 hectares ( 7.4 acres) and deep of 8 meters ( 26.4 ft) is equipped with an intricate hydraulic system with many animals and fish in it. In the north wing of the Communs there is shops for artists of different sorts, and teaching shops whre one can discover painting, photo,video,dance, and writings.  The season is April to October, and all has been recently renovated completely !  The webpage in French of the regional council here

Then we go over to Chatou, near Paris in my dept 78. Here is an oasis of Impressionist artist painters, the best were here, all centered around the Fournaisse family, and the now Musée Fournaise. They were the last survivors of the “guinguettes” open air dance halls of old.  It serve food and boat rides on the Seine river, and the whole family entertain some others like a  Claude Monet,Alfred Sisley, Berthe Morisot, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, and Pierre Prins. This was the country favored by them to paint and do wonders; the best also came for the family wedding like Edgar Degas, and Guy de Maupassant has mentioned the place in its short stories.

Next to the museum the former Restaurant Levanneur was the meeting place of Andre Derain and Maurice de Valminck and now converted into a center for creation,documentation and exhibitions. It was here at the “Centre National de l’Estampe et de l’Edition” on a studio that the two painters beforementioned together with Guillaume Apollinaire, Henri Matisse, and Paul Poiret prepared for the artistic revolution of 1905, the Fauvism movement.

Today the Fournaise houses a restaurant (privately owned) and the museum on the upper floors, it exhibit rotating exhibition of the impressionist school of painting .  Pierre-Auguste Renoir did more than 30 of his paintings here and wrote nostalgic about this place, some of them now permanently in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.  The town of Chatou purchase the house with the help of two associations that helps maintained “Les Amis de la Maison Fournaise”,and ” Friends of French Art”.

You come to Chatou and Museum by RER A train to station Rueil-Malmaison ,walk towards Chatou crossing the bridge at the river Seine, walk 500 meters more and halfway turn right on the island. By car take the A14, then the A86 direction Versailles, exit.sortie 35a in the middle of the bridge turn right on the island. More info in these webpages ,official museum go above right for English version, , and les amis webpage English version at bottom of page,

Hope it gives you another look at the deep France, and I need to get me those photos Lol!

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March 3, 2011

Go north, Nord, Flemish and Ch’tis country

Well yes indeed lets go North, to the Nord department region of Pas de Calais . This is a wonderful region not much shown or visited and they should have more exposure.  Other than the casual transshipment to UK or the passing by train at Lille folks over looked very often.

However, it has a lot to offer. I know been on the area in and out since 1990 as I have family here. Many encounters and good times ,going out together. Unfortunately as family time, we had very little photos of monuments just personal photos.

If you go from Paris ,the best way is by train to Lille, Arras,Cambrai, have good connections, then Mauberge ,Le Quesnoy ,and Caudry less but done well by train. The main travel site for trains in France is in French at ,however the right column is very easy to handle for travel info by train. The train stations are all in city center so its very easy to walk out into the city from them. You can actually book air,auto,and hotels here too as I do. Of course, when in with family I do it with my car./auto. Here for visitors viamichelin should do the work even if not perfect, however, if you need to know a side road or picturesque way let me know here. The webpage for michelin is at

Let me tell you a bit about Lille as one can fit in a blog about the area ::)  Other than the great EuroLille with its wonderful shopping (120 stores )and eateries ,webpage here in the map section with direction in French, and go shopping or go restaurants,  . This is the stop of LIlle Flandres or LIlle Europe train stations can get you here easily. Then you are in the city, the must see sights are in my opinion, the Palais Rihour (tourist office is here now goes back the building to 1453) ,  Vieille Bourse at Place du Gal de Gaulle, built in 1651, a gorgeous building the old stock market, Hotel de Ville et Beffroi or belltower is an UNESCO heritage site for the belltower of 104 meters high ( 343 ft), and the building of original Flemish architecture. The Grand Place with the Déesse on top, a symbol of the city ,remembering the assault on the city by the Austrians in 1792. The Opéra, Place du Théatre, a gorgeous opera house, built in 1903 by Garnier (the guy of the opera in Paris!) .Cathédrale Notre Dame de la Treille, thought out in 1854 but actually completely finish in 1999!  132 meters long ( 435.6 ft)with spires that goes 115 meters high!(379.50 ft!) , it is at place Guilleson. And of course the Citadelle,  43 avenue du 43 regiment d’Infanterie.Built from 1667-1670 by Vauban who himself call it the most beautiful and best built of them all. There are many museums but the must to see is the Fine Arts or Beaux-Arts museum ,one of the best in France!  Which is to say a lot, the best paintings and sculptures we can think are here but better get yourself acquainted at the official webpage ,turn it to English at bottom left of screen. As far as eating well, the best beer in France with many local brands boutique style and of course the traditional dishes such as Carbonnade Flamande ( small pieces of beef blend in with the beer), waterzoî ( poultry or fish with cream and small cut vegetables ) , and the  potjevleesch ( or small pot of beef, terrine of white meat en jelly).

here again no hotels of course bunch of nice family takes care of me. So I go out daily to sightsee alone or with them. The Restos are plenty and good ones as any, my favorites are Créperie La Regalade, 38 rue de Paris, near the palais Rihour. Brasserie La Paix for its seafood at 25 Place Rihour and with webpage at ; Flam’s, 8 rue de pas, alsacien cuisine and very well known in the city, there are in Paris too, but webpage opens with the one in Lille, ; les 3 Brasseurs, 22 place de la Gare, and they do their own beers, TOP, you come here, Restaurant Meerk, 27 rue Esquermoise, gastronomic resto and superb, very traditional in town, webpage .

Lets go over to Cambrai, this is a sous prefecture or sub government city center 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. free visits to see how chocolate is made, tastings and purchases. This is their webpage
then you have what my kids grew up on the candies of Cambrai better known as the Bétice 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 Cantimpré, and you can order it here or at any store in Cambrai or the nord or even in Paris, I have eaten here at the Jolly Sailor, very nice locals place ,and very good prices menus from 11€,webpage


Moving alone to Caudry, my family lives here. It is a small town, and typical flemish, with a great interest for the theater.Here there is an imposing basilica callBasilique Sainte Maxellende de Caudry, the story of a young girl killed by her lover in the 7C, it is a pilgrimage place for the blind and the mutes. It is 72 meters long by 36 meters wide and 75 meters high with three heavy bells,it is at place du Gal de Gaulle.  Now what is really known here is the laces embroideries or Dentelles ,there is a very nice museum at Place des Mantilles ,Musée des Dentelles et Broderies , only 3€ admission but it show you the manufacture and distribution of this wonderful accessory. You  have dresses exhibitions of great fashion all done by the best known in the world, and you can contact them for whats available here email musee-dentelle– .The webpage in French is here: . I was there for the opening ceremony of it back in 2002!  You can even see the machines that made this product!

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 place to eat with good beers of the north is at Shakespeare webpage The we have Le Quesnoy,it has ramparts fortified, Les remparts du Quesnoy,they are 12 kms of walls in line around a cite fortified intact of 3,5 kms in circle with an ingenious systems of wells.  A belltower or Beffroi of 48 carillons,and a Hotel de Ville city govt building from 1700AD, and 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.

Finally on my tour of the Nord, we come to Arras. We go here often ,even for the Christmas market. A wonderful town  to walk and see. We all come here for the Beffroi or belltower, a must in the city to climb it. built from 1453-1554, it was a lookout point in WWI with its 75.36 meters high ( 248.7 ft)  towards 3 kms to the east where the front was. admission is 2.80€ and it is UNESCO. You can see the Boves or the underground tunnels, it house 24 000 British soldiers during the WWI, and can be seen for 5.10€ admission. The Musée des Beaux-Arts or fine arts is seen for 4.60€ admission.  It is at 22 ruer Paul Doumer,  housed in a wonderful  building of the monastic architecture of the 18C that is the abbey of Saint-Vaast, it has a medieval collection, school of Arras paintings, and porcelains in its gorgeous room or salle des Mays. Come see the Carriére Wellington, chalk caves where soldiers hid during WWI, and started from the offensive of 1917 with 24K British soldiers, admission is 6.80€, and then you have the Citadelle ,built 1667-1672 by Vauban, known as the un used beauty as Arras never had a siege after its contruction, it has a chapel on the side, the oldest religious building in Arras. It is by Blvd Gal de Gaulle. Again no hotels to recommend here as usually make my trip from Caudry, so ,I know there are good ones by the train station such as the Mercure and Ibis hotels. As far as restaurant, the Cafe de la Paix near the train station at 6 Place du Marechal Foch ,tel
+33 (0)9 63 20 73 24. Côte Sud, 10 rue Gambetta on a side street near city center and train station is a good mediterranean style cuisine, Tel +33 (0)3 21 59 18 18n webpage . And dont forget to try the local beer with 21 breweries in the region,and washed it down with a good local andouillette (sausage like goodie). Here you have one of the best Christmas markets in France( Marché de Nôel) , and certainly the best in the nord region,and the Saturday morning marché at Place des Héros.

The tourist office for these cities of the Nord are to follow here and then the region ,and then the photos some that I kept.






Le Quesnoy

Tourism Nord ,pas de Calais region.

Enjoy the Nord de France! Cheers!!!

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