Archive for March 3rd, 2018

March 3, 2018

Dieppe, the sea,and the castle!

This is a weekend to be home, cool ,sunny, windy , a bit rainy; the weather has improve in Brittany, elsewhere not as good. So if we stay home let’s do it with travel souvenirs and good memories. I like to tell you a bit about Dieppe! We had visited couple times from Versailles and we like to bring it back to life in the blog.

Dieppe is in the département 76 of Seine-Maritime in the region of Normandy. It has been called the city of the four harbors in the Caux country ,about 170 km from Paris, and north of Rouen; right in the deep valley of the Arques.  The oldest mention of this name comes from the 11C, as it was first known as Deppae (1015-1029) Dieppa (1030), then in the 12C as Deppa or Diopa. It is related to a name given to a stream that throws itself at the city, it was called the  Tella, and in the text of the Mérovigians and Carolian kings it was designated as Dieppe!

The town has an intense seamen history and a great fishing port, first in France for the St Jacques! It is, also, the closest beach to Paris as well as pleasure boating basin.  Many personalities are link to the city too many to name, but one Jean Cousin, sailed to Brazil four years before Christopher Colombus (1488) and had the two Pinzon brothers with him that later accompany Colombus in his discoveries. Most of the old inhabitants had emigrated to the New World mostly due to the fact they were Huguenots or protestants. August 19,1942, Operation Jubilee during WWII, carry by Canadians invade the city testing the defences, for the fallen, the veterans name a town in New Brunswick, Canada in their honor, and today ,many tours are conducted showcasing the events of this period in the war at Dieppe.

Dieppe has a local network of public transport call Stradibus. This network has 3 lines in town and 3 lines suburbian, and another 3 lines linking to nearby cities such as Arques-la-Bataille, Hautot-sur-Mer, Martin-Église, Rouxmesnil-Bouteilles, and Saint-Aubin-sur-Scie. The bus company FlixBus, I am told has routes from the bus terminal in Dieppe at Boulevard Georges-Clemenceau to Paris, Lyon ,and Grenoble. Been the closet beach closest to Paris ,it is easily link by road on the wonderful A13 (autoroute de Normandie), A150,and the A151. Dieppe is connected locally by the D925 to the town of Eu and Saint-Valery-en-Caux, D920 to Envermeu and Londinières, the D915 to Forges-les-Eaux, and the N27 to Tôtes and Rouen. There are ferries on the Dieppe-Newhaven line;more here:


the ferry to Newhaven and the church Bon Secours up cliff!

There is a train station at Dieppe but no direct line from Paris, you need to go from Gare Saint Lazare Paris to Rouen and then take the train to Dieppe, which never have done. More on it here:

The city is divided on the four ports concepts with the historical center around the estaury of the Arques , including the sea front, neighborhood around the end of the quays and quai Henri IV (lovely) ,Grande-Rue, neighborhood of Saint-Jacques,and the area at avenue Gambetta. Another nice area is to the east of city center on the other side of the canal, the neighborhood of Pollet, with fisherman houses very typical of the region. All nice walks in the city.

A bit of history I like

At the times of the Gallo-Roman period the field of Ceasar aka « Cité de Limes », was located north of the current city of Dieppe, and a ramparts attesting to the fact this is one of the oldest human presence in the region. By 910,the Vikings were in the mouth of the Tella river,a deep river that ends at sea. They call the town Djúpr or deep or Djúpá or deep river. The oldest mentioned in text dates from 1030 saying there was a small fihing port called Dieppe!. A castle was built in 1188 by king Henry II Plantagenêt of England. In 1195 the castle is destroyed by fire from the French troops of king Philippe-Auguste, that was at war with Richard the Lion Heart Duke of Normandy. Two years later in 1197 Duke Richard gives the land of Dieppe to the Archidiocese of Rouen; however in 1204, after the falled of the Château-Gaillard and the taking of Rouen, Dieppe and NOrmandy were annexed by the kingdom of France under king Philippe-Auguste. In 1420, in the battle of Azincourt, Dieppe is occupied by the English and was kept for 15 years; by 1430 ,Dieppe was a temporary detention for Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) before she was transferred to Rouen where she was tried and ordered burned at the stake. Dieppe was finally liberated from the English occupation in October 1435 when the town was taken by the French led by Captain Charles Desmarets on account of king Charles VII.

The town has a rich seamen tradition and many leave Dieppe to explore new worlds. Given boats by the shipbuilder and explorer Jehan Ango , they reached Sumatra,Brazil, and Canada. In 1508, captains Thomas Aubert and Jean Vérassen reached Newfoundlands ,and discovered the Saint Laurent river . In 1529, the explorer Jean and Raoul Parmentier, sailed on the account of Jehan Ango for a trip that takes them to Indonesia and Sumatra. Jean Parmentier was in charge of the boat La Pensée,and Raoul,takes charge of the boat Sacre. Many misfortunes especially desease and sickness later Jean Parmentier ends buried in Sumatra in 1529. Raoul Parmentier died some time later. The explorer Pierre Crignon takes the command and continue the adventure reaching Indrapoura in Indonesia. Wealth from the gold of the Americas, and the wood of Brazil or even the codfish of Newfoundland,Jehan Ango is notice by the king François Ier that comes to Dieppe in 1534 to name him Viscount and Governor of the city. Dieppe becomes as well the seat of the cartography and hydrography school or École de cartographie de Dieppe et d’hydrographie under the direction of Pierre Desceliers,that designs in 1546 a map of the World with Africa and the Americas.

In 1822, the first bath house in France is built here on the beach under the name of  sea baths of Caroline in honor of Caroline de Bourbon, duchesse de Berry, daughter in law of king  Charles X. She opened the baths in 1824 that under the Second Empire received great fame  and the growth of this pleasure. By 1852 you have here the first race course on horses in the Hippodrome de Dieppe-Rouxmesni.

Under the First Empire, Napoléon  think of the construction of Dieppe into a large basin deep enough for big ships of war for an invasion of England. The sea bath gained popularity here,and brings many personalities of the Napoleonic aristocracy such as Hortense de Beauharnais, accompany by her children , including the future Napoléon III.

Moving forward in time, we have learned that from August 20 to September 9 1853, Dieppe was the honeymoon residence of the Emperor Napoléon III,and the Empératrice Eugénie Early on the 20C, the town is at its heights and it is until 1914, the first beach town in France frequent by the famous. Some of these were king Léopold II of Belgium, Duke of Westminster, Camille Saint-Saëns, Claude Debussy, Claude Monet, Madeleine Lemaire, Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissaro, Countess Greffulhe, Jacques-Émile Blanche, Walter Sickert, Marcel Proust. And Robert de Montesquiou, Gabriel Fauré, prince Edmond de Polignac stayed frequently in the house of the Countess Greffulhe in the villa La Case. During WWII, Dieppe is liberated in September 1944 without any compbats as the Nazis abandoned the post before the advance of the Allied armies.

Here are overall things to see in Dieppe, my favorites.

Dieppe has a beach, yes. Casino, 18 hole golf course, racecourse, harbor with ferry service and very nice complex of thalasotherapy on the beach and near the Castle. Since 1980, it host every two years, the biggest kite event on the beach, Festival International de Cerf-Volant, with as much as 44 countries represented and one of the best world events.Webpage here:

The Château de Dieppe ,had a first one in the 12C and the current one dates from 1443. The west tower dates from the 14C, and the place is really a fortress with a very solid architecture and with several parts in bricks. It housed until 1923 the army barracks of Ruffin. Today, the Castle house the museum of Dieppe ( a must to see), from the top you can see beautiful views of the sea and the city as well as inside marvel of the biggest and most beautiful collections of sculpture ivory in Europe; from crucifix, chapelets, statues, events, tabacs, painted work by Georges Braque, furniture from the house of pianist Camille Saint-Saëns and temporary expositions.


promenade off Verdun near thalaso pool and view of Castle

There is the Church of Saint-Rémy (15C and 17C) dominating the square or place Saint-Rémy, and known by locals as one of the prettiest Church in the region, with influences of the counter reformist movement and an organ by Parizot. The Church of Saint-Jacques (St James 16C) flamboyant and renaissance style and a great neighborhood we like . The initial Church was started in the 12C and name the parish Church in 1282 by the bishop of Rouen Guillaume de Flavacourt.  Inside see the Chapelle du trésors , showing the countries and towns discovered by the Dieppois people, this church was even visited by Victor Hugo. Marvelous quay or quai Duquesne with its arcades of the stockmarket or Bourse,see here the architecture modernist and classist of the old hardware store Leveau at 26 quai Duquesne.

The wonderful quai Henri-IV , we like to eat here and has several restaurants looking at the pleasure marina in front as well as some buildings from the 17C and 18C such as the collège des Oratoriens (1614)where the Chapel was built on the site of the house of shipbuilder Jehan Ango, Hôtel de la Vicomté and Hôtel d’Anvers (1697) with a bas-relief, showing the city of Anvers on the porch giving to the interior courtyard. In the ramparts see the tour aux Crabes (1374), that defended until 1841 the access to the channel going to the port. The bridge Colbert a turning metal bridge built in 1885-1889, it is the last turning bridge of Europe still active on its original configuration, it is 66 meters long and on the channel of Pollet carved during the renovation of the port ;and now covered in steel of the Eiffel type. It was dynamited in 1944 by the Nazis and rebuilt again on July 14 1946 (French National Day). The bridge Ango turning in metal from 1881 ,destroyed in 1944 and rebuilt in a levy bridge in 1950.

You have the street the Grande-Rue until the place du Puits-Salé, pedestrian and very nice a pleasure to walk it. The rue de la Barre,is nice and a continuation of the Grande-Rue. The houses in the neighborhood of Caude-Côte in the faubourg de la Barre,and the great windmill at the place du moulin à vent  with its pittoresques houses. The small municipal theater done in 1900 ,and do walk the sea front of 1500 meters with an esplanade designed by the Imperatrice Eugénie while visiting the city separating the boulevard de Verdun (great parking here!)  from the promenade maritime. The bridge or pont Ango, a metallic tourning bridge done in 1881 destroyed in 1944 and rebuilt in levy bridge in 1950

The wonderful Church of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours (1876) looking down at the city from the cliffs above the rock of Pollet,was a place of pilgrims and later a point to the memory of the marines lost at sea. The pretty Grande-Rue until the place du Puits-Salé, pedestrian and full of shops/restos etc.; the rue de la Barre,extended to the Grande-Rue. The architectural stunning houses of the faubourg de la Barre, and the place du moulin à vent. Take even the little Theater built in 1900 and now housing the memorial 19 August 1942. Inside Louis XV style. The beachfront is magical with about 1500 meters of sand designed by; the orders of the Emperatrice Eugenie, separating the great boulevard de Verdun (parkings).


from quai Henri IV to pleasure marina and up Church Bon Secours!

The gorgeous houses from the Second Empire, along the rue Parmentier and the rue de la Rade,were the first inhabited houses built on the beachfront ,and dates from before WWII. The Hôtel Aguado (1958),on the boulevard de Verdun; second hotel name as such here built on the spot of the royal manufacture of Cigars or Manufacture Royale des Tabacs,burned during WWII. The old Hôtel Royal (1901), symbol of the city and the last survivor of the palaces of the Belle Époque period now converted into appartments ; one of the most beautiful buildings along the boulevard de Verdun.And of course do not missed the twin towers or Tourelles(15C); built during the 100 years war and the last of the seven gates of the city that defended it against the English; a piece of the ramparts next to it is preserved.

The nice house or Maison Miffant(1624), built in wood a rarity survived the bombings of 1694 by the combined naval force of English-Dutch . See the architecture in the houses of the rue Jules-Ferry,neo norman end of 19C. The villa Perrotte designated a heritage of the 20C, built in 1928,the mansion avant arde of art deco style and modernist. The great scientific and technical center of the Estran Cité de la mer,showing on 1600 m2 expositions, naval construction, and the fishing techniques ,the coastline environment, and the marine fauna to old and young visitors. There is even left standing the bunkers or blockhaus left from the Nazis a bit hidden behind the cliff of the Castle. The underground aqueduct aka aqueduct de la source bleue , a gravity aqueduct carved in the 16C under the plateau of Janval.It has a lenght of 6,7 km, and brings water from a source at Petit-Appeville to Dieppe, and still in use as an electric and telecom network; you can see the entrance.

You have more wonderful walks between the rue Parmentier and the  rue de la Rade, where the first houses beach front were built amongst them the decorated one at the angle of the  rue de la Rade, was the old Hôtel Édouard-VII (1857), Villa Nelly, and the block between the rue Parmentier and the rue de la Brasserie, the Hôtel Aguado (1958),right on the boulevard de Verdun. Built at the previous location of the Royal cigar maker factory or Manufacture Royale des Tabacs, lost by fired during WWII. The former Hôtel Royal (1901) the last of the Belle Époque palaces now converted into living apartments and one of the most beautiful still at the boulevard de Verdun. Couple houses further you have the former Hôtel du Rhin and the Hötel  New Haven from early the 20C.  There are the small towers from the 15C built during the war of hundred years with the English and the last of the seven gates that had the city to defend from the English.  There is a section of the ramparts still visible by here

Last but not least in this wonderful Norman town , we have the Canadian Cemetary of Dieppe ,located nearby in the village of Hautot-sur-Mer. Here rest in peace Canadians soldiers killed during the landing at Dieppe on August 19 1942 : 944 soldiers from the allied forces with 761 identified of which 707 are Canadians. The cemetery is south of Dieppe along the road N27, or rue des Canadiens (Canadians street), later becomes rue des Jonquilles,right into the village of Hautot-sur-Mer,next to the hamlet of Vertus de Saint-Aubin-sur-Scie.

Some tourist links to help you plan your travel;always useful even by us living here.
Normandie tourism:

Dept Seine-Maritime 76 on Dieppe

City of Dieppe tourism in French

Of course, we have stayed there overnight to fully enjoy the city! At the Hotel de la Plage, blvd Verdun, just across from the beach and near the pool complex ,and castle. Great normandy welcome,friendly, excellent price for a family and great views. Webpage:

We ate in the hotel above very nice but also tried the crêpes of our Bretagne here! And we return on later visits too! It was a must stop for the mom and son team at Créperie Ty Breiz, 68 quai Henri IV, unfortunately it is now closed sadly, here just for the memories.

On our way out, we continuosly shopped at the L’Epicerie Olivier, genuine local and great choice of ciders, wines,cheeses, etc, 16 rue St Jacques near the church same name, webpage:

Hope you enjoy the trip to marvelous Dieppe, in Normandy.  And remember, Happy travels , good Health, and many cheers to all!!!

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March 3, 2018

Do not underestimate Le Havre, worth a detour!

And on this wonderful sunny,  cool , then  rainy and slippery weekend day of March 2018, I like to bring you up to Le Havre. This is a city 90-95% rebuilt after WWII, but it still has the charm of an old port, wonderful things to see, and friendly Normans! This is my treat to you , Le Havre.

Le Havre  is in the department de Seine-Maritime 76 of the region of Normandie right in the mouth of the Seine river. The port is second in France for the traffic and first for containers. And yes, my container moving from FL to FR was routed thru here then truck to my home in Versailles!! 2003 get it ::)

The city center of Le Havre is an Unesco World Heritage Site!!  On weekends folks here in good weather hit for the beach on the coast or Côte d’Albâtre by going over the bridge or great Pont de Normandie and spent a few hours in Honfleur, and in turn the folks there come over for their shopping in Le Havre! Yes!!!

Many roads were done here to give easy access to the city ,  kind of an enclave pointed on the continent.  The autoroute A131 link Le Havre to the A13  (autoroute de Normandie) by the other great bridge or Pont de Tancarville.  The autoroute A29 (autoroute des estuaires) link the metro area to the north of France and ends at the Pont de Normandie.  The trains are from the TER and Corail network   but no direct TGV service to Paris yet.  The regular trains put the city in touch with Gare Saint Lazare-Paris, Rouen, Marseille, Mantes-la-Jolie, Versailles, Massy, Lyon-Part-Dieu, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence etc  There is a small airport Havre-Octeville at about 5 km on the town of Octeville-sur-Mer; and buses normally link the airports even Paris CDG/Orly. There is a ferry service to Portsmouth , England.  The network LIA handles the local bus with 16 lines and two tramway lines as well as two night time call  LiA de nuit.  The cable car or funiculaire allows since 1890 to link the high to the low town . The link in English is here:



As said, the Lower city was mostly destroyed in WWII, and built afterward by the firm of Auguste Perret between 1945 and 1964; he personally directed the reconstruction of the city hall or Hôtel de Ville and the Church Saint Joseph. There is a wonderful Maison de la Culture du Havre built by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer ,known as the Volcan for it shape. Reasons  for Unesco to name it to the World Heritage list.  The northern section of the lower city has the oldest neighborhood not touch by WWII such as  Danton, Saint-Vincent, Graville, Massillon, etc. with buildings in brick dating from the 19C and first half of the 20C; the shops are around wide streets and the neighborhood of the Rond-Point. The south district of the Lower city has lots of industry but also great shopping we love just across from the train station. This is the old docks totally redone into a sport and spectacle building call the Dock Océane, and the wonderful shopping center Docks Vauban as well as expo park Docks Café, and the Les Bains de Dock designed by architect Jean Nouvel. Here is the shopping site in French:




The Docks for entertainment and concerts, events and cinema is here:

This is a wonderful area to stay in visiting the city as we always do!

The high city has more residential areas  such as the sides or  côte, the districts of homes or the big beltway cloister of homes .  On the sides ,you have the fortresses of Sainte Adresse and Tourneville as well as the main cemetery Sainte Marie. The forts now serve civil duties with the Sainte Adresse housing the suspended garden or Jardin Suspendu and the Tourneville houses the municipal archives.

The city is old but I will give you the founding of the proper city by king François Ist in October 1517, and it grew quickly thanks to its  port in the 18C and 19C;however, WWII stop all this, and the city needed to start again…not the first time as during the wars of Religion it suffered great destruction as well. On orders of Cardinal Richelieu, governor of the city then, had built the Arsenal, basin du Roy, ramparts reinforced and a fortress built. It is at this fortress that Cardinal Mazarin have inprisoned the princes of the frond revolt such as Longueville, Conti (the current city hall of Versailles was his palace), and Condé.  Early on the reign of king Louis XIV, minister Colbert began to renovate the port infrastructures and military installations; and by 1669, opened the canal du Havre à Harfleur,aka Canal Vauban.

The Orient company or Compagnie de l’Orient  is here in 1643, and the city began to import from the Americas exotic products such as sugar, cotton, tabacco, café, and spices. The treaty of Black make the locals very rich in slave trade especially in the 18C making the city the third on this trade behind Nantes and La Rochelle.  The world awaits and they go off, by 1707, the captain Michel Dubocage explore the Pacific Ocean aboard the boat Découverte and reaches the island of Clipperton; another captain Jean Baptiste d’Aprés de Mannevillette worked for the Compagnie des indes  and cartography the coasts of India and China. In  1749 , Madame de Pompadour wants to see the sea and king Louis XV chose Le Havre to have her do this at a great costs to the city.

The French revolution brings terror and religious transformation with the Cathedral Notre Dame changed to a temple of reason….under emperor Napoléon Ist ordered the building of a fort. In the 19C, Le Havre  becomes an European leader in the history of Café culture thanks to the arrivals of protestant German families who had acquired this technique during the Haitian revolution in the Caribbean . In the period 1850-1914 is the golden age for the city even with war of succession, Franco-Prussian war the commerce explode and the town built new modern boulevards, city hall and justice palace/courthouse as well as stock exchange/Bourse.

Before WWI ,Le Havre is the first port importing Café in Europe, also cotton, and petroleum are important items; the boating brings in wood, wheat etc. from Northern Europe and wine and oil from the Mediterranean. The city is a major entry point for merchandise from USA and a passing point for immigration to USA. By 1889 the great maritime boulevard is built , mainly the Villa Maritime, the casino Marie-Christine b. 1910, the Rowing palace or Palais des Régates b.1906 bring about the rich and famous and the first cabin are installed in the beach.  The human toll is big in WWI to the city and it served as the rear base especially for the British navy where 1,9 million British soldiers passed by the port of Le Havre.

During WWII, the Nazis occupied Le Havre since the spring of 1940; and prepare the city for the invasion of the United Kingdom (Operation Seelôwe), making arrangement along the coast with casemates, blockhaus and batteries integrated into the Atlantic Wall. Le Havre received 132 bombardments by the Allies during the war with the most damaging coming on September 5-6 1944 with English Royal Air Force bombing the city center and the port to weakening the Nazis during operation Astonia; the  Royal Air Force did more than 2000 waves dropping about 10K tons of bombs. Le Havre was liberated by allied armies on September 12 1944.

What is there to see, plenty I said. The oldest building still standing are the Abbey of Graville, medieval is the Chapelle Saint Michel d’Ingouville; there are redone after WWII, the Cathedral Notre Dame du Havre, Church Saint François, Church of the Immaculate Conception , Hôtel Dubocage,and the Maison de l’Armateur (shipbuilder house), as well as the old courthouse or Palais de Justice. Others are the Jardin Suspendu, Fort de Tourneville, Docks Vauban, Villa Maritime, church Saint Joseph, modern arts museum or Musée d’Art Moderne André Malraux, the old museum of Havre or Musée de l’Ancien Havre, and the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle.


The Fête de la Saint-Yves at le Havre in the neighborhood or quartier of Saint-François around the church. This is the historic area of the Bretons in Le Havre ::). This is the webpage with info in French, .


Right around here we had our lunch at Bistro du P’tit Port  , wonderful and the views of the ferry harbor and fish market is awesome,


THe Dock Océane for expo, theater ,arts, the Les Bains de  Docks  for a water park, Docks Café, and Jardin Fluvial. All of this around the places that are nice to use and some nex ones like O Blé Gourmand resto a la breton norman cuisine, ,


the whole complex is great and easily you can spent at least half a day seeing all around it. Here you have the Océane and Café expo places, ; then you have the shopping and restos here, Docks Vauban, the cinema Gaumont has its site here  , the Les Bains de Docks is closed until september 2013 but should be good then ,have a pool indoors, site here  , and the jardin fluvial is over 2 hectares or almost 5 acres of over  700 meters long ,all bordering the  quais de la Saône ,and de la Marne. Here is more in French,

Some paintings of Le Havre that I like are especially illustrating the Port du Havre and the light of the mouth of the Seine river such as those by Jean-Baptiste Corot, and Gustave Courbet. The one influential and of course neighbor is Eugene Boudin with many works from the 20C; the artist even lived for a while in the city. Another great one was Claude Monet who lived in the city since 5 yrs old and painted in 1872, the Impression, soleil levant (impression of the rising sun) a portrait that gave the name to the Impressionists movement of world fame.


Here are some additional essential information to visit Le Havre, and you should.

The city of Le Havre tourism info in French here :

The city tourist office here in English:

The region of Normandy tourist office on Le Havre in English:

The dept 76 Seine-Maritime on tourism in Le Havre in English:

Hope you have enjoyed the ride into a resistance strong city , with a lot of energy to show you the best positive mentality you can have, come back from ashes stronger than ever. See it live it, and come back to tell more about it. This is Le Havre!

Have a great weekend, Cheers!

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