Archive for February 2nd, 2018

February 2, 2018

Bretagne, Brittany my region!!!

So this is it, Bretagne, my region and home for the last almost 7 years. It has been a wonderful rollercoaster ride, smooth out into a dolmen tranquility and splashes of seawater. Bretagne or Brittany but even better Breizh is heavens. Before moving here , I have to admit, only had visited Rennes for a company trip of one day!!! When I came in 2011 did not thought would be this long to tell you the truth, but gladly I am still here, a lovely area of France that needs to be visit more. I have two old friends from my previous life in travel forums and they have admit to me the area is indeed pretty ,nice and should be visited more. I agree ::) Degemer mat !!!

The region official page of course ,can be translated into Breton on top middle front page. And the webpage is written with the bzh and not fr designation ::) Here it is in French:

And even in Paris there is welcome of Brittany by the gare Montparnasse as the Maison de la Bretagne open to the public from 9h to 18H. Located at 8 rue de l’Arrivée ,15éme, more here:

The regional official tourism page is here
And the office of tourism is here:

Now let’s get into the details ok;
Something about mon Bretagne. The region is a peninsula on the extreme west of France located between the Manche to the north, the Celtic sea and sea of Iroise to the west and the Gulf of Gascony to the south. The insular Breton came from the old Gaullist Armorique and created a kingdom in the 9C that eventually become a Duchy depending of the kingdom of France. Finally reunited by marriage to the French crown in 1532. In 1790 during the rule of the French revolution , it was divided into five departments such as Côtes-du-Nord, Finistère, Ille-et-Vilaine, Loire-Inférieure, and Morbihan. The old department of Loire Inférieur becomes the Loire-Atlantique is attach to the region of Pays de la Loire. The question of the unification to the current region of Brittany is the object of heated debates.

A bit of history I like; tell us that Brittany rarely written as Britannia means literally the country of the Bretons. Or in Breton, Breizh.

By the 5C BC, Brittany is touch by the second wave of expansion of the Celts, and they impose their language, costumes, made discovery of iron to the local populations and the agriculture is advance. The territory is occupied by five groups such as the Coriosolites (territory east of current department of Côtes-d’Armor, in the west of Ille-et-Vilaine , and north of the Morbihan) ; the Namnètes occupying the current department of the Loire-Atlantique, north of the Loire river, given name to the current city of Nantes) ; the Osismes ( occupying the current department of the Finistère, and the west parts of the Côtes-d’Armor and the Morbihan) ; the Riedones (occupying the east of current department of Ille-et-Vilaine ,given the name to the city of Rennes) ; The Vénètes occupying the current department of the Morbihan,cousins of the Vénétie and Gwynedd.Given the name to the city of Vannes or Gwened in Breton).My current department 56 and capital city where I work !!! We,then add the Ambilatres, occupying the south of the current department of the Loire-Atlantique and the north of the Vendée. The territory of Brittany was conquered by the Romans led by Jules Cesar in the war of Gaullia or Gauls in 56 BC.

At the high Middle Ages, Brittany was divided in two ,then three kingdoms, such as the Domnonée, Cornouaille, Broërec (initially called the Bro Waroch) that were under the authority of the dukes and kings of Brittany in the 9C . King Nominoë, 845 to 851, was the one credited with the origins of Brittany unified and independent and given the name of father of the fatherland or Tad ar Vro in Breton. The region grew in the 9C under king Erispoê into a kingdom of Brittany. The treaty of Angers of 851AD defines the limits but encouraged king Salomon to go to war vs Charles the bold or taken by the Vikings ; thanks to the conquest of king Salomon and the treaty of Entrammes of 863, and that of Compiègne in 867,Brittany reached it maximum area which included the Avranchin, Cotentin,the anglo normand islands, a good part of the Maine and Anjou. The kingdom is constantly attacked and occupied by invasion of Vikings early in the 10C.

Rebuilt by Duke Alain II of Brittany aka twistedbeard after the battle of Trans in 939AD, the politics of the Duchy of Brittany is carried out independent but sometimes dominated by the kings of England or France. With the these alliances the region reached again the old limits of the Treaty of Angers. Following the uprisings against the Royal power in the crazy war or Guerre Folle, Duke François II of Brittany encounter important military defeats in 1488 such as the battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier. The treaty of Sablé aka as treaty of the Verger signed by king Charles VIII of France and Duke François II of Brittany in this year 1488 stipulating that the Duke cannot married his daughters without the consent of the king of France, the war continue for three years under the pretext that the treaty was not respected from the first marriage of Anne de Bretagne until 1491, when king Charles VIII married Duchess Anne de Bretagne; therefore the king enforcing his authority on Brittany. Following Anne’s death and the marriage of her daughter Claude the duchy and the kingdom of France were finally united in 1532.

What happened at Vannes where the Estates general of Brittany were held under the duke François Ier given quickly ruling an edit signed at Plessis-Macé guaranteeing the province of certain rights such as legislation and specific taxes. These privileges existed until the French revolution, cancelled in August of 1789 as well as the eradication of titles of City, corporations, nobility, clergy as well as the rest of France. The Brittany stop fonctioning as such and is divided into six departments which were Finistère Nord (Brest, Lannion, Lézardrieux, Plounévez-Quintin, Carhaix) ; Finistère Sud (Plougastel-Daoulas, Rostrenen, Guidel, Pointe du Raz) ; Côtes-du-Nord and Ille-et-Vilaine Nord ( Saint-Malo, Dol, Les Forges, Corlay,etc) ;Ille-et-Vilaine ( Fougères, Vitré, Rennes, Redon, Châteaubriant, Sainte-Anne-sur-Vilaine, Ploërmel, Lanouée) ; Morbihan ( Langon, Pontivy, Lorient, Vannes) ; Loire-Inférieure( current limits except Châteaubriant). They were divided further in February 1790 as five departments such as Côtes-du-Nord ( which became Côtes-d’Armor in 1990), Finistère, Ille-et-Vilaine, Loire-Inférieure ( attached in 1956 to Pays de la Loire, and becoming Loire-Atlantique in 1957),and the Morbihan.

In 1956 the program regions had reborn the region of Brittany , but on technical, economic, and political considerations and nothing to do with history the creation was done with four departments and the Loire-Atlantique attached to the region of Pays de la Loire in 1973. Even thus, the general council of Loire-Atlantique asked in 1973 to be attach to Brittany, and the regional council of Brittany asked for the unification or a re examen of the limits was adopted . Even against these transactions and the new referendum asked to be done in 1982 and 2001 for a popular consultation with the authorities of France, these have never agreed to their request, even if the request came from the elected officials of Brittany. After, the analysis of 13 survey results in 25 years suggesting that 65% of the population wishes to be reunited, Brittany and Loire-Atlantique with only the other departments of the Pays de la Loire against it ,the authorities have never had an ear to these requests. Still a matter of regional debate and argumentation as of today.

The region was difficult to pinpoint a capital city as the Estates general of Brittany reunited in different cities in their history with Dinan, Nantes (17 times), Ploërmel, Redon, Rennes, Vitré, Vannes (19 times), and Guérande. The same for the bishops’s seat being at Dol until 1199AD the metropole de Brittany and were the maximum leader in the absent of the Dukes and later governors and commanders of the region with later Dol united with the diocese of Rennes in 1790 . Eventually the bishop of Rennes obtains from emperor Napoléon III the confirmation of the seat in Rennes. While in 1532 the parliament of Brittany needed to be together in both cities , however, the interdiction of the Court of France ,starting with Catherine de Médicis with Nantes and its old privileges in Brittany was overtaken by Rennes the seat of Parliament from 1560-1675, and again from 1689-1790), the faculty of justice, residence of the commander in chief and later intendant, and with this the prefecture or regional government was given to it by the French republic as well.

Brittany has two historical areas on language. The lower Brittany or Basse-Bretagne or Breizh izel in the west (grouping Finistére, Morbihan, west of Côtes-d’Armor and on the south the peninsula of Guérande with the towns of Bourg-de-Batz in the Loire-Atlantique speaking the language of origin bretonnic (close to the gallois and Cornish) known as the Breton or Brezhoneg ; the other is the high Brittany or Haute-Bretagne or Breizh Uhel in the east of Ille-et-Vilaine, Côtes-d’Armor east, Morbihan east, Loire-Atlantique where the dialect of the oil are spoken such as the Gallo,same as the Poitevin in the Pays de Retz and some Breton in the region of Rennes.. The Celtic league considered Brittany as one of it’s six countries as far as language more here:

Some of the particulars of the region of Brittany is the stones, well before the Celts the population neolithique erected stones or menhirs, cairns and tumuli that still we have the Dolmen and covered alleys of which the latter had a funeral and cultural significance. Their function still is a mistery but many think that it is a territory mark associated with religious activities. The Christians of Brittany are mostly Catholic, and the patron Saint of Brittany is Sainte Anne or « Mamm gozh ar Vretoned », in Breton. Also known as the grandmother of the Bretons. According to the Bible she is the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus. IN many parishes once a year the believers gathered for a « pardon », the feast of the town’s saint. It starts with a procession follow or preceeded by a Mass. This feast has a pagan side with offering of food or souvenirs . The most popular is that dedicated to Saint Ronan at Locronan,in the Finistére with a procession of 12 km, known as the « troménie » from the Breton tro minic’hi,or the sacred exil tower of the monastery, done with several people dressed in period costumes ; is the biggest procession that of Sainte Anne at near me Saint-Anne d’Auray in the Morbihan. More, the flag of Brittany in its modern version (1923) is the Gwenn ha Du ( or the white and black). The superior left square takes the armors of Brittany a Ermine. In heraldic it says franc quarter of the plain ermine, meaning without precise number. The flag has 11 stripes and the bands of white and black are the explication the most popular representing the region or country and its nine parishes of Brittany; four for the part of the Breton language, and five for the part of the Gallo language. It is the Bro gozh ma zadoù ( old country of my parents), even if not officially recognized by France. There, is also, an hymn or national anthem of Brittany with words of François Taldir-Jaffrenou at the end of the 19C ; it is sang with the lyrics music of the anthem of the British Cornouailles under the name of Bro goth agan tasow en cornique.

Transports are still a bit behind to the rest of France even if big investments by the Government is coming along. This is a peninsula you know… There is a network of good roads and free of tolls pushed by De Gaulle in 1962. The main ones in () and corridors are Nantes – Saint-Nazaire (RN171) ; Brest – Morlaix – Guingamp – Saint-Brieuc – Rennes (RN12); Saint-Malo – Rennes – Nantes (RN137); Brest – Quimper – Lorient – Vannes – Nantes (RN165) Rennes – Lorient (RN24) ; Ploërmel – Vannes (RN166) ;Châteaulin – Loudéac – Montauban (RN164) ; Rennes – Vitré (Le Mans) (RN157) : Rennes – Fougères (Caen) (autoroute des Estuaires – A84) ; Nantes – Saint-Nazaire (RN171) ; Brest – Morlaix – Guingamp – Saint-Brieuc – Rennes (RN12) ; Saint-Malo – Rennes – Nantes (RN137) ; Brest – Quimper – Lorient – Vannes – Nantes (RN165) ; Rennes – Lorient (RN24) ; Ploërmel – Vannes (RN166) ; Châteaulin – Loudéac – Montauban (RN164) : Rennes – Vitré (Le Mans) (RN157) ; and Rennes – Fougères (Caen) (autoroute des Estuaires – A84). As you can imagine if reading my posts I have tried them all :J
Now we have GPS but still the paper trail is good to compare , best around here is viamichelin here :

The train network is improving with faster service to Paris. However, the network is done around Rennes (sort of Paris for France) linking to Paris on the TGV Atlantique and last year started the line LGV line Bretagne-Pays de la Loire, or the classic route Paris – Chartres – Le Mans – Laval – Rennes. The main routes are Nantes – Saint-Nazaire ;;Rennes – Saint-Malo via Dol ;Rennes – Brest via Saint-Brieuc ;Rennes – Redon – Quimper ;;Rennes – Redon – Nantes ;Rennes – Chateaubriant. §Here taken most on the Rennes, Nantes, Redon lines. Some secondary TER lines are Saint-Nazaire – Le Croisic via La Baule-Escoublac ;Dol – Lamballe via Dinan ;Dol – Folligny – Saint-Lô – Lison – Caen ;Saint-Brieuc – Loudéac; Guingamp – Paimpol; Guingamp – Carhaix; Plouaret – Lannion; Morlaix – Roscoff ; Brest – Landerneau ; the most used line in Brittany; Brest – Quimper (via Landerneau); and for summer only the tire bouchon or corkscrew line of the beaches Auray – Quiberon.
Some of the link that will be useful are the local regional TER site here:

And a total site for all kinds of transport in Brittany, very useful to try different combinations of modes of transport here:

Now that is a lot info to swallow but you can always ask me ::)

Unesco sites here are for the Vauban fortifications at Camaret-sur-mer; while the megaliths stones of Carnac are still in the process. Also, the Breton festival of Fez Noz are under consideration. As far as cities of Art and History designation in France we have my old home Auray, then Châteaubriant, Concarneau,Dinan, Fougéres, Guingamp, Hennebont,Lamballe, Landerneau,Lannion, Morlaix, Nantes, Pont l’Abbé, Pontivy, Port Louis,Quimper, Quimperlé, Rennes, St Malo, Saint Pol de Léon, Vannes, and Vitré. All of these in my blog.

Well, we come to the part where I post on Bretagne/Brittany/Breizh but there are sooo many. I rather tell you to look up these towns in my blog and see the history of Brittany before you.

And the first encounter with Brec’h my first home in Brittany all in the Morbihan 56 department . And we move rather quickly to my current home Pluvigner.  And my work and capital city of Vannes

You get an idea ook. One picture to showcase this region, and my Morbihan deparment? well I am a believer to our lady Sainte Anne at Sainte-Anne d’Auray; enjoy it. See you soon in other areas of France. Cheers!

February 2, 2018

The region of Île de France!!

The region of Île-de-France, also known as the Parisian region and representing 19% of the French population. The region is bordered by the régions of Hauts-de-France, to the north, Grand Est,to the east, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, to the southeast, Centre-Val de Loire,to the southwest, and Normandie,to the west. It includes 8 departments such as Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Paris, Seine-Saint-Denis, Seine-et-Marne, Val-de-Marne, Val-d’Oise, and the Yvelines (my old department home).

A bit of history I like and on the region where I first made my footprints in France and still very much attached to. The Royal domaine was created after the 10C by the Capetians kings, and even if it is in firm land the name of île de France or island of France was given as the land surrounded by rivers such as the Oise, Marne, and the Seine. Another story on it is that the name is an alteration of the Frankish word of Liddle Franke, meaning Little France in French. Under the monarchy it was a French province, with an administration directly under the King of France.

Just until the monarchy ended, this province was covering up to the north and northeast comprising the Soissonnais and Laonnois areas now in the Aisne dept 02; as well as the Beauvaisis and Valois now in the Oise (Picardie dept 60), but less extensive to the east excluding the Brie Champeonoise around Meaux that stays attached to Champagne. To the south the limits were the same as today including the Gâtinais, while to the west at the limit with Normandy stayed the same along the limit of the Epte river.

Following the revolution it was divided into five departments such as Seine, Seine-et-Oise, Seine-et-Marne, Oise, and Aisne. The government change this in 1956 and called the Région Parisienne and covering the departments of Seine, Seine-et-Marne, and Seine-et-Oise that were under the authority of the France under the regime of Vichy from 1941 , and the important department of Seine was given the No 75 and became Paris. Creating as well 3 other departments in and around Paris including 80 towns of the ex Seine and 43 towns of the ex Seine-et-Oise that all became part of the small crown aroundn Paris or the petite couronne. These were Paris city as 75, Hauts-de-Seine as 92, Seine-Saint-Denis as 93 and Val-de-Marne as 94. The biggest part’ of the ex Seine-et-Oise became no 78 Yvelines ! while Seine-et-Marne remained the same. So, you have Val-d’Oise as 95 , Essonne as 91, and the before mentioned Yvelines. This new administrative structure came to be the Île-de-France in 1976.

As far as transport well, this is the main of France or the French main or whatever you want, this is it. All comes and go from Paris. France is a National government.

In 1969, the first RER trains express regional were born with the line Nation to Boissy-Saint-Léger,completely electrified. In 1977, you could cross Paris with the RER A linking Auber with Châtelet – Les Halles. At the same time as the line serving the valley of Chevreuse to the southeast of Hauts-de-Seine was extended to the new hub at Les Halles and became the RER B. The RER C connecting the network in the suburbs from the gare des Invalides and gare d’Austerlitz from 1979, and later to the valley of Montmorency in 1988. Again the RER D line connecting the network out of the Gare de Lyon to les Halles , and the north of France in 1987; later the RER E done to relieve the congestion in the RER A but not totally done until at least 2020. In 1992, the tramways came back to Paris after leaving in 1937 with the line T1 northeast of the city covering La Défense. Then, the T2 to the east and the T4 on the north east. On the boulevards des Maréchaux and the boulevard périphérique you have the T3 and eventually the lines T3a and T3b.

In all we have 16 lines of metro handle by RATP ,metro opened in 1900. The RER trains with five lines, A and B handle by the RATP and SNCF and lines C,D,E handle by the SNCF. The tramway has 10 lines, so 8 handle by the RATP and line T4 by the SNCF and line T11 by Keolis, first line in operation by 1992.

The Transilien train network or TER of the SNCF that has other than the lines RER and T4 tramway ;9 other train lines of the suburbs such as reaching rive droite in Versailles from Gare Saint Lazare for example. The bus has about 1500 lines with about 350 handle by the RATP and 1180 by Optile. There are, also, bike for rental such as Vélib network and electric car for rental such as Autolib.

The highway network is very intensive and dense, you need to be used to big city driving to do it, me no problems, got my driving license in NJ/NY border and been driving here since 1990. The network covered over 800 km of expressways and a dozen radial networks with the principal ones been the Autoroute du Soleil A6 (Dijon, Lyon, Marseille), A1 Nord (Lille), A13 Normandie (Rouen, Caen, Le Havre), and the east A4 (Reims, Metz, Nancy, Strasbourg), A10 Aquitaine and A11 Océane (Nantes, Bordeaux, Rennes) as well as the beltway types such as the A 86, and the Francilienne A/N104.

You have basically three airports such as the aéroport de Paris-Orly built during WWII, the aéroport de Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle built in 1974, and the aéroport de Beauvais-Tillé located about 70 kms from Paris porte Maillot serving low cost airlines. The city of Paris, also, has a heliport,located in the 15éme district or arrondissement south of the boulevard périphérique, at the limit of the city of Issy-les-Moulineaux, and therefore it’s name héliport de Paris – Issy-les-Moulineaux.

From the regional government page in French on transports :

the trains TER:


The airports are easy to get on google and see my other posts on Paris and île de France transportation options in my blog.

The history is link to beautiful wonderful buildings of different eras and styles to make this an unique piece of France. They are gothic architecture such as Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, Basilique de Saint-Denis, abbaye de Royaumont, château de Vincennes, Church of Saint-Eustache, Conciergerie ,and the holy chapel or Sainte-Chapelle. Renaissance architecture we have the Château d’Écouen (Val d’Oise) done by Anne de Montmorency in the 16C. The city of Écouen has several of these from this time period and architecture. The Arc de triomphe de l’Étoile, and hôtel national des Invalides ,and the Château de Versailles, Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte,Château de Fontainebleau, and the Château de Rambouillet . The Basilica of Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre with a romano byzantine style of architecture . The great mosque of Paris with a hispano Mùdejar Arabic style; the great Synagogue of la Victoire in the flowery roman style. You have modern and contemporary architecture as well with the Centre Georges-Pompidou, Grande Arche de la Défense, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and on the new cities in teh suburbs such as Marne-la-Vallée(Disneyland), Cergy-Pontoise ,Évry, Melun-Sénart, and Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. These are some of the better known, there is a lot more.

The region also, has 8 cities name as cities of Art and History such as Paris, Boulogne-Billancourt, Etampes, Rambouillet, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Pontoise, Meaux(wife native town !) , and Noisiel. It, also, has four historical touristic routes such as those in Normandie-Vexin, the route François 1er , and the Impressioinists pathways. The region, has four Unesco sites as well such as the banks of the Seine river, Chateau and parc of Fontainebleau, Château and park of Versailles, and Provins and its medieval fairs/festival.

The regional government page on tourism in French here :

The main natural parks in French in the region here:

The official tourist page of the region in English:

The Paris tourist webpage in English here:

And of course the tourism page in English of my beloved Versailles a lot more than a castle !

The church of the Madeleine because so many times passed by it on way to work and ate in all the cafes/restos around it. And the wonderful Notre Dame marché/market with the name direction of hotel du cheval rouge ,the first hotel I stayed when visiting Versailles way back, and later came to lived not far from it. Enjoy it, I still do ::) Cheers!

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