Archive for April, 2018

April 30, 2018

In memoriam my sweet Frenchie!

As my blog is part of my life history and all the wonderful travels done with my family and alone throughout the years, I have a very sad news to tell all ,and make part of my blog.

I have no words as this is just been communicated to me by the doctors . My wife of 27,5 wonderful super years have passed away at Chubert Hospital in Vannes. It is a very sad moment for me but writing here is a soothing relief of the great pain I am going thru. We had 3 wonderful young men who are very close to her and me and we are hanging in there and we will survive together. My father still alive at 82 is with us.

The French family has call they are coming  ,and received condolances even from some not heard lately but in these times is when the real friends show up and I am very glad have a bunch.

In just 27,5 years of marriage date was December 26 1990 and her coming birthday was to be September 26 where she would have been 60 yrs old; she died of the lousy sickness of our times pancreatic cancer with intestinal occlusion complications due to the cancer.

In memoriam born in Meaux, dept 77 Seine et Marne, September 26 1958. I had the extreme priviledge of meeting by August 1989 and marrying on December 26 1990 in Daytona Beach Florida USA/ 3 young boys twins of 24 each and older of 26 years old are with me and very supportive. She died  at 19h (7pm) on April 30 2018 in Chubert Hospital (Bretagne Atlantique) in Vannes.

Farewell my Martine ,we will not forget your staunch positive aptitude and so much caring for us . As we had said many times, we take our motto from Alexandre Dumas Three Muskeeteers , ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR ONE. We are together thanks to your example and strenght. God bless you my mamie blue, and may the angels keep you great company as you look after us from your resting place.

We spoked and decided she will be cremated at Plescop, near Vannes and later on the ashes will be deposit in the Atlantic Ocean from Honfleur Normandy. Where my mother was done and where we are all coming.

Thank you all my readers to make it so comfortable to enjoy myself telling you all the good things about travel. I will be back , promise.

Pluvigner

My Frenchie mamie blue Martine

April 30, 2018

Travels in Rabelaisie; François Rabelais!

So on this long weekend, let me tell you about something personal. I love wines and drinking them, and also ,the French literature like one of my favorites François Rabelais. And now he is so close to me, past by it and stop of course several times, drinking on the road such evangelists tell you is not good, but with a prudent men it is always a tradition worth keeping. In Vino Veritas!!!

Chinon

chateau de Chinon from across the Vienne river

A bit on Rabelais I like

It all began near Chinon in the Loire Touraine area in the middle of vineyards and where the waters of the Vienne river meet the Loire river.  It was here in the end of the 15C in a farmhouse called “La Devinière”,(now a museum to his memory) attached to the parish of Seuilly and close by the abbey of Sully that came to our world  a literary genious call François Rabelais.  He offered the world the picturesque and funny stories of Pantagruel that his father Gargantua brought from the women Badebec, daughter of the king of the Amaurotes in Utopia. His books gave a tremendous popular following which was not to please the theologians of the Sorbonne in Paris. François Rabelais was accused of heresy and his book prohibited.  We have to say that François Rabelais was a humanist and his stories accompany the movement of the thinkers born in Italy and that marked the Renaissance. A humanism that the Church denounce as pagan.

Who is this guy? François Rabelais (aka Alcofribas Nasier, an anagram of François Rabelais, or that of  Séraphin Calobarsy) was a French writer of the humanism of the Renaissance period , born in 1483 or 1494 according to the theories and died in Paris on April 9 1553. His infant years was spent in a bourgeois level benefitting of a medieval schooling such as the Trivium (grammar, rhetoric, dialective etc) and Quadrivium (math, geometry, music and astronomy etc) . According to the accounts of history, Rabelais starts as a Franciscan in the convent of the Baumette before joining that of Puy Saint-Martin in Fontenay-le-Comte.  While writing articles not to much to the liking of the Church he gets a waver by Pope Clement VII to have permission to entered the Benedictine order of monks.  At the Abbey of Saint-Pierre-de-Maillezais, he meets the bishop  Geoffroy d’Estissac prelate name by king François I. The bishop d’Estissac takes Rabelais as his secretary and under his protection.  Rabelais takes a trip to Paris in 1528 or 1530 to study medicine as well as his first love relationship with a widower that makes him father of two children in 1540.

By September 1530 he entered the Medical faculty of Montpellier where he received a bachelor degree in six weeks in the spring of 1532. He then goes to Lyon a great cultural center where the library business is booming. By November 1st he is name doctor of the hospital of Hôtel Dieu de Notre Dame de la Pitié du Pont du Rhône where he works in intervals.

The book of Pantagruel come out in 1533 was an immediate success as well as an almanac Pantagrueline Prognostication that makes fun of the superstitions. The bishop of Paris ordered Rabelais in 1534 as his secretary and doctor while he was on a trip to Rome for serious business of convincing Pope Clement VII not excommunicate king Henri VIII.  The re edition of Pantagruel in 1534 is accompany by various orthographical ,syntax and typographical corrections and very innovating at the times , and shows the fight against the Sorbonne.

By January 1536, on a brief of Pope Paul III authorized Rabelais to reach the Benedictine monastery of his choice and the exercise of medicine so he joined the Abbey of Saint Maur de Saint Maur des Fossées. By 1540, Rabelais departs for Torino Italy while on the same year the Pope Paul III declares legitimes his sons François and Junie born out of wedlock.  By September 1545 , Rabelais is given a privilege for the printing of Tiers Livre (third book) edited in 1546 by Chrestien Wechel that he signed with his own name; the theologies of the Sorbonne condemned him for heresy. By March 1546, Rabelais escapes from France  until 1547 or early 1548 in Metz at the time an imperial free town. He entered at the service of the city as doctor and adviser living by Estienne Lorens in the district of the Old town, the building still has his name. The Quart Livre  (fourth book)  still has souvenirs of this stay in Metz by introducing the language of the town, his costumes, and city stories like the Graoully. By 1551, Cardinal du Bellay bequest on Rabelais the priesthood of Saint Martin de Meudon and of Saint Christophe du Jambet. Rabelais does not lived in Meudon but maybe in Paris or in the castle of Saint Maur.

In 1548, eleven chapters of the Quart Livre are published and by 1550 Rabelais is given by the King the right to print all his works without been copy or reproduce without his approval (sort of the first copyrights ruling ).  At the same time, the printing controls becomes stricter and the law of Chateaubriand gives the rise on one of its clauses that every book printed a copy needs to go to the library of prohibited books by the Sorbonne. And of course, the three novels of Rabelias are on the list.  This prohibition does not stop the circulation of works benefiting of a Royal privilege. The integral version of the Quart Livre out in 1552 has a dedication letter by Odet de Châtillon thanking for his support.

On January 7 1553 , Rabelais  stop his treatment, he died in Paris in a house on the street or rue des Jardins-Saint-Paul (reach on metro line 1 Saint Paul or Line 7 Pont Marie or even line 7 Sully-Morland), there is a commemoration plaque on the street.  His death gives way to several stories and rumors  such as saying like « Je n’ai rien, je dois beaucoup, je donne le reste aux pauvres » something like I have nothing I give a lot, and the rest I give to the poor’s or this other one  « Tirez le rideau, la farce est jouée » something like bring down the curtains the farce is played.  He is buried at the old cemetery of the Church of Saint Paul des Champs in Paris. The Church is now call St Paul St Louis ,however, some parts of the old Church still can be seen, like part of the bell tower you can still see in the house of no 32 rue Neuve Saint Pierre at the corner of rue Saint Paul. The cemetery was closed in 1791 with many bodies in the wells some executed during the French revolution. The body of Rabelais is there below the houses that were built later, and never care to find his and others remains.

You can come and see his museum (farmhouse birth)  in plain Touraine vineyards here: http://www.musee-rabelais.fr/

To recap his most famous works and I love them all!

Pantagruel published in 1532, the publishing under the name of Alcofribas Nasier and some estimates it was published in 1533-34 or even 1535.  The déuxiéme livre or Gargantua is a follow up on the first one. Published in 1546 under his real name with the benefits of king François I and Henri II for the 1552 edition of Tiers Livre. The first edition of Quart Livre came out in 1548 with eleven chapters and many typos, the book printed by Michel Fezandat tells of the trip of Pantagruel and his friends to questioned the sayings of the Dive Bouteille.  By 1562 after his death it came out in the L’Isle Sonnante a partial edition of Cinquiéme livre (fifth book) that had 16 chapters. There was another version of 47 chapters coming out two years later. There is a manusciprt well preserve in the National Library or Bibliothéque Nationale ; since the 17C the authencity of these documents has always been questioned.

The information on the books , publications and history of François Rabelais in French is at the National Library site here: http://classes.bnf.fr/dossitsm/b-rabela.htm

And, of course, been in wine country Touraine, Loire, Rabelais finally comes to mind the title of my post. The information in French is here:  Chinon has the travels of Rabelais: http://www.chinon.com/voyagez-en-rabelaisie/

First, the area I am talking about is one I passed several times and get my wines from, at least most of them. One of the oldest AOC in France that of Chinon from 1937 covering 26 towns, 2400 hectares of vineyards, 2300 of those planted with Cabernet Franc, 74 ha with Chenin Blanc, a total of 173 winemakers producing 13 million bottles of wine each year with about 1,3 million exported of which 50% to the United States (my figures from 2015).

The vineyards are about 8 towns of the Rabelais spirit on the left bank of the Vienne river including his birthplace area of Seuilly that are all in the Chinon AOC wine denomination area.  One of the most ardent defender of this Rabelaisiens and Chinon is the Domaine or Château Joguet (my favorite buy a must to buy) own by Anne-Charlotte Genet ,that has the bottles since 1957 decorated with the Rabelais. The humanism in a bottle with 550 hectares of vineyards. Here the Vienne river cuts the appellation in two while the Loire river helps with the climate escaping the clouds…

Here the black grapes do battle even if minorities providing 17% of the red wine in other areas, while at Chinon itself they do 85% of the production, later Rosé and only 3% of whites.  Fruity , gourmand wines simple and well digest and limited keeps. The underground cellars of the Chateau de Chinon are huge and at 12C constant they can be visited. The dominant grape here is the Cabernet Franc fleuron after WWI in the area producing from it wines of fine tannins, ripe as well.  The tradition continues thanks to the amazing fraternity of wine lovers of Rabelais or the Entonneurs Rabelaisiens webpage here: http://www.entonneurs-rabelaisiens.com/

Some biased choices, sorry, but they are good seek them out and tell me what you think.

Domaine Charles Joguet Clos de la Dioterie 2015 32€  here rated 18.5 /20!! absolute a must trust me.Only 2 hectares here but sublime bio cultivation; and les Charmes 2014 is awesome; anecdote Charles Joguet is a painter but seldom does interviews;in the property you can see his paintings which are well known .

Another one Beatrice and Pascal Lambert ,La Croix Boissée 2014 , 20€ 18.5/20 bio in chalk lands black grape with minty and sweet spices it can be keep as the one above. For all budgets, Jourdan et Pichard , Les 3 Quartiers 2014,from parcels over 50 years old in bio too, mint coffee, muscadet nuts very nice at 15€ 16,5/20. Domaine Eric Hérault, La Poiteviniére 2016 10€ 16/20, high in the quaint town of Panzoult near the castle of Chinon, strawberries, black olives, and liquorice. All good!!

A webpage with properties information in the region, in English, have it on Chinon: http://uk.vignobles-chinonbourgueilazay.com/cellars-wines/chinon

Enjoy the Touraine, a lot more than castles I am telling you ::) Happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all. Life goes on.

April 29, 2018

My travels in the Morbihan, LXIIII

Well I am back in the routine after my last trip to East Africa (see previous post). I am back to colder grayer days with humidity to boot, this is Brittany. The temps last I read last night was 7C about 45F and no rain,but colder, today was 10C or about 50F right at 11H.. I am at my blog to help me go over the illness of my wife,cancer, so is not good. I will try to bear with it in my posts and go on with life as usual ,but it will be very hard. Thanks in advance for your prayers and best wishes. Yesterday as today or any other day was a day to visit the hospital by noonish time.

We went out to get a new toaster as when back the boys just reported not working the previous ones ho ho  ho; replace a moulinex by another bigger same moulinex at Darty a good chain of appliances here and they had opened a store in Auray closer to us than Vannes. So we did and no pictures but the site has…. webpage: https://magasin.darty.com/692561-darty-auray

We went around to visit Vannes after the hospital, and took a walk around our family favorites areas as well as had lunch at Le Saint Nicolas on rue Francis Decker right next to the tour prison or prison tower on the ramparts of Vannes. The restaurant was great , we needed it, I needed it , two pints of grimbergen blonde beers and a burger espagnol that is Spanish burger, they just put chorizos lol!! it was ok; the boys had their chunk of beef and same beers. For about 26€ per person, average and good service and ambiance was a winner. Facebook webpage: https://www.facebook.com/Le-Saint-Nicolas-Vannes-1123994740984191/

Vannes

We continue a bit of walk in Auray as we needed to change my wallet (see my baptism on the Nile in previous post); luckily the store was a hit since coming to this area for all our luggage, wallets, bags needs and still there same service and good quality brands, I had and again purchase a Hexagona cow leather for 45€ same as old,done deal at Sacmania at rue du lait, Auray (the store since closed).

From our walks in Auray we went by the quaint nice rue du Lait going from Place Notre Dame to Place de la République in town. The St Gildas Church is here on one end Notre Dame square and on the other Republic square is the city hall or mairie of Auray; in between there is a open shopping with plenty of stores. As well as been a very nice historical town in the history of Canada and the USA.

We, then headed back home but needed groceries so decided to go back to Vannes for E Leclerc hypermarket there to do our groceries, the men’s shopping. They have been wonderful helping in all chores even taking their grandpa out for a spin the day before to have lunch at Burger King! The groceries at Leclerc are always good, and they get their cereals as well as the books, games etc at the cultural center part of Leclerc. Done. webpage: http://www.e-leclerc.com/vannes

Some of the walks in Vannes included passing by our great train station that I used more and more, across the street is the bus terminal, all near Hospital A Chubert. You walk along the ramparts to see our wonderful fortified town with the Constable tower, the walls, the views of the St Peter’s Cathedral, the gate or Porte Prison (because it was once a prison) right at the foot of the Le Saint Nicolas resto we ate lunch; the wonderful garden of the Garenne; the préfécture or regional government building for official events only as the administrative part is elsewhere in city center by Place de la République, Vannes. The great architecture of 1894 on the building across the street rue Alain le Grand for the manufacture of Petits Fers doing the now gone hardware tools, now a line of stores using the building.  Not to overlook the goodies in Pascal Brion antiques on rue Francis Decker right before the Le Saint Nicolas resto! All wonderful medieval untouch Vannes, a city worth coming to visit. Enjoy the photos.

Then, we came home to start using our new wallets (my oldest also change his), getting all the pictures from the East Africa (Uganda) trip and then the ones for this post sort out. Got all the mail done and now ready to do our French taxes on Sunday (our family Tax Day,,,yikes!). And rest, visit hospital again etc. Lucky will have a rest day on Monday, Tuesday is Labor Day here so off, then  I go to Paris on Wednesday on same day for an opinion of the Hôpital Americain of Neuilly sur Seine (Hauts de Seine 92) even if we can call it the Paris American Hospital. Thursday is rest day again, and will finally work on Friday this coming week. Vive la France!

You stay on, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all. Life is beautiful, just not perfect. Cheers!

April 21, 2018

Some news from France CXC

And lets get back to France, it is hot, very hot, today we got to 29C or about 84F, and the locals went to the beach. Not me, need to work but will check it out a bit tomorrow. Full sunshine and no rain of course; lovely France. And gorgeous Morbihan in Brittany on the west coast beaches!

Let me tell you a bit on what is going on of interest to many, not to mention the strikes on SNCF continues and AF is calling for days too, the University students are holding out and been kick out by the police special riots from the Universities, and so on ,that is France ,champions strikers; one way to break from the cold into the hot  spring days!

I have mentioned before of things to do in Versailles, and told you it is more than a castle well here is one update of one place we like when lived there and visit when by the city. You have on the left the Centre Commercial Parly II shopping center par excellence and we like too, on the right you have the Château de Versailles and between these mega places you have a heaven of peace with the sweetness of big trees covering about 250 fields of football/soccer and still not as well visited. The Arboretum de Chévreloup sits between the cities of Rocquencourt (Van Gogh painted on the town) and Versailles in the Yvelines dept 78 and after some renovation is open again! Normally, they had opened about 50 hectares to the public but after this major work, you can walk on 200 hectares or 494 acres! On a land that was the hunting ground of king Louis XIV and part of the Domaine de Versailles until the French revolution. It has over 2500 species of trees in geographical lineup,one of the richest collections in Europe!  The blue cedar trees are one of the biggest in the world with 800 meters on a straight line bringing you back to what the botanists were thinking when they created in the 1920’s. See it! Arboretum de Chévreloup, 30 route de Versailles, (N186) open every day from  April 1 to November 15 (except labor day May 1st) from 10h to 18h admission is 7€ adults more info at  Arboretum de Chévreloup

Major work to renovated the Grand Palais, as it is in a critical state of repairs. The main building in the Universal Exposition of 1900 ,the works planned for it will be the first since opening in a historical work site with a budget of 466 million euros , it will start in December 2020 and finish by Spring 2023 and by the summer of 2024 will be an Olympic site. The public debate on the progress will be held and decision done by May 14 . You can follow the vote and construction updates here.  building debate on the Grand Palais

And the men of the Big wheel or Grande Roue  in the place de la Concorde by the Jardin des Tuileries is at it again with the city of Paris. This time going to the Council of State the highest body to rendered a decision. Marcel Campion wants the wheel to stay here , however if the decision is negative, he will take the wheel to Red Square in Moscow. The decision by the Council of State should be by May 19 next. Marcel Campion is offering two free days to the resident of Paris with proof of domicile, on May 17 and 18. All others still need to pay admission of 12€.  Description of the Big Wheel is here in city of Paris tourist office! Big Wheel Paris tourist office

And the very busy and popular RER C station of Saint Michel is due to open to the public again by April 30. It has been closed for repairs and now there is a tentative opening day according to  SNCF  Réseau .

And as the weather is nice ,and will be for the next few days ,here is my suggestion for a nice weekend brunch in Paris. Claus Saint-Germain. 2, rue Clément (6éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 55 26 95 10. Brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 9h to 17H formule 4 brunchs from 31-34€. More here: Claus Saint Germain

And how about those wonderful Paris terraces, well they are all over and plenty of choices for all. My favorites the last couple years have been.

Marcello. 8, rue Mabillon (6éme). Tél. +33 01 43 26 52 26. open every day carte menu 30-60€ Marcello Paris

Le Drugstore. 133, avenue des Champs-Élysées (8éme). Tél. +33 01 44 43 77 64. Open every day carte menu 40-60€. Le Drugstore Paris

And with the look alone of the Basilica Sainte Clotilde you have the quaint Le Basilic. 2, rue Casimir-Perier (7éme). Tél. +33  01 44 18 94 64. Open every day carte menu 50-70€.  Le Basilic Paris

Maison Maison. Voie Georges-Pompidou, facing  16, quai du Louvre (1éme). Open every day except Mondays and Tuesdays for lunch. carte menu 15-30€

At La Démesure (9éme)  you have your views on the Seine river on the righ bank or rive droite on a boat barge of 120 persons capacity with tables on the quays. La Démesure sur Seine. 69, port de la Rapée (12éme). Open every day except Sundays and Mondays. Carte menu 20-40€.  La Démesures sur Seine Paris

And only steps from the wonderful nice pretty a must parc Monceau,you have a huge terrase for 70 persons capacity hiding behind the gate of the Camondo museum ,see the wonderful gardens . Le Camondo. 61 bis, rue de Monceau (8éme). Tél. +33  01 45 63 40 40. Open every day except Sundays. Carte menu 45-55€. Le Camondo Paris

And of course on these brunch and terrace combination, cannot go away without telling you again my all time favorite in my favorite spots in Paris, the 16éme and quartier Muette. What was an old train station for several years a wonderful place to eat, drink and enjoy the terraces in the back overlooking the Parc Ranelegh. Restaurant Le Gare, 19 chaussée de la Muette, metro La Muette line 9 leaves you facing the restaurant to your left out of station. Open every day menu carte from 24-39€ Enjoy it. Those from my previous life in the travel forums will remember taking you there each time in Paris. Webpage: Restaurant Le Gare

And Mexico is feeling strong in Paris! La Casa Corona , a house of artists and part of Corona France (the Mexican beer people) has open a new ephemeral bar in the 11éme on what was a huge loft with a glass ceiling now has several bars, lots of vegetation, water fresheners sprays, hammocks, swingers and small corners to speak softly between friends. The invited artists will be amongst you and could expose their works in the bar where a display has been installed;nothing told in advance you just show up and see who is showing or playing there. The La Casa Corona, 71 rue de la Fontaine au Roi, 11éme, Will have the space open from April 19 to May 13, Tuesdays to Thursdays from 17h to midnight and from Fridays to Sundays until 02h . You pay only 5€ for a corona beer and 10€ for cocktails. Really!!! See more in their Facebook page here: La Casa Corona Paris

Well Bio is on, and even I got some stuff bio here ::) Some of the best in my opinion and they are many and more and more coming.

Wild & The Moon has six addresses in Paris (last one at the fondation Lafayette Anticipations), the green cantina of  bio, local,  ethical, in season, vegan, rich in super foods, without lactose or additives or glutens.  Loaded with sweets as well and spices see it at  Wild & The Moon. 55, rue Charlot (3éme). Tél. +33 09 51 80 22 33. Open every day carte menu 15-30€. Wild & Le Moon Paris

A few steps from the Folies Bergére there is a counter, café-restaurant, and cantina.  The first is for take out food with retreats of purchase at the Le Campanier, the second is simple dishes with lots of vegetables and the cantina for fast lunch a la carte like soup of the day, veggie burger, and  cheesecake etc etc.  See at Supernature. 8 (counters), 12 (cantinas) , and 15 (restaurant), rue de Trévise (9éme). Tél. +33 01 42 46 58 04. Open every day except Saturdays and Sundays evening. Carte menu  16-30€. Brunch  on Sundays from 11h30 to 16h, 25€.  Supernature Paris

And for the fresh bio go and done since 1989,when a group got together here to offered all bio and one of the originals of Paris with a large choice of fruits, vegetables , and groceries and take out food.  Heavy on Sundays morning, the Marché bio Raspail. Boulevard Raspail, between rue du Cherche-Midi and rue de Rennes (6éme). Sundays from 9h to 15h. Marché Bio Raspail Paris

From bio to Cognac, well it is natural too ::)

The owner of cognac Remy Martin and liqueur Cointreau and rum Mount Gay just published the financials with cognac sales of 265M euros an increase of 2,6% if exchange rates taken into account ,otherwise it would be 12,8%. The sales of cognac Remy Martin are about 75% of that are 18;3% of the growth alone. The performance is very solid in the United States its first market as well as Russia, and the travelers sales on planes airports etc. The mark is positioning on the luxury segment and expect to have 60% of their sales on products costing more than 50 USDollars per bottle to the 2019-2020 period. The group overall sales are 1,13 billion euros and growth of 7,3% for 2017-2018. The story of Remy Martin here: cognac Rémy Martin

And I close out this edition of Some news from France with something from my earlier youthful days on light airplanes. ….

This weekend today at Cannes there will be the first Red Bull Air Race in France!!! with the participation of five French pilots. More here: Red Bull Air Race Cannes 2018

However, if you like to do this in while visiting France, let me give you some leads !!! The nice aerodrome of my nice Saint-Cyr-l’Ecole  and Dreux , have friendly voltage air rides for about 30-40 minutes and 240€ on a CAP 10 airplane, the most popular plane of  its class in the world. Also, in my old hangouts areas of the L’Isle-Adam, aerodrome Persan-Beaumont  are given rides of 30 minutes on an EXTRA 200 for about 526€, video souvenir included . For the same price in Coulommiers, dept 77 Seine-et-Marne, it is possible to fly for about 25 minutes on a wonderful Pitts Spécial, the mythical plane of voltage from the 1960’s and 265 Horse powers. And on the same club you can do a ride on a Robin R 2160 for 339€. Nearer me now in Ploemeur, near Lorient a ride sensation on a CAP 10 is doable for 120€.  At the Rennes airport they can give you a baptismal flight of about an hour over the Mont-Saint-Michel  for 749€.  You will do this and all along the coast in a Boeing Stearman of WWII vintage.   all of these  aerodromes can be found here. Just put the name of the town in France section. Aerodromes of France

Enjoy my belle France as I do. Have a great weekend you all. Happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all.

 

 

 

April 18, 2018

The Ducal Palace of Luxembourg!

Another of our favorite countries of Europe, small , pretty , quaint, historical and nice Luxembourg. We have come so many times, and each time we leave wanting to come back.  There, the nostalgic walk over of a palace always brings the best in me. The Ducal Palace of Luxembourg even has a non European as Heads of State in Europe! And the country will surprise many.

The quaint small but very nice Ducal Palace of Luxembourg. I have come here often first back in 1991 , and then very often while living in Versailles, even for lunch runs lol! Now out west much less often , missed it. While vacationing in Germany needed to stop by again in 2015. I love it there, and who knows when back but will dare to say would try harder, it is worth the visit. The city, the country and of course the Ducal Palace are all worth it.  The Grand Ducal Palace, excuse me, is done in the renaissance style of the 16C and its the official residence of the duke of Luxembourg ,chief of State since 1890. It is located not far from the Place Guillaume II.

luxembourg

luxembourg

A bit of history I like:

It was in 1572 that the governor of the Netherlands Spanish ordered the construction of the city hall and it was done in 1573. By 1683 and 1684 the palace had damages due to the bombings of the siege of Vauban. In 1713, Luxembourg becomes an Austrian possession, and work of repairs were done in 1728.  The building call the Balance was added in 1741 and the city hall becomes the seat of the Three States. In 1795, Luxembourg is under French control and the city hall becomes the seat of the prefecture or regional government building of the department of the forest or Département des Forêts. By 1814, it had already become a Grand Duchy and was trusted to the king of the Netherlands, by 1817, the city hall becomes the government house where the governor of the king works. Thanks to the purchase of nearby houses  an annex is added to house the chamber of deputies in 1859.

In 1890 the death without male heir of the king of Netherlands give the Grand Duchy to a distant cousin Grand Duke Adolph, he uses the palace as the resident of the ruler or of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg . To our days the Grand Duke uses the palace as a place of work and rarely as a residence.  It is here that he welcomes the heads of governments or receptions of dinners for the national day when it is welcome about 300 persons.  The Nazis occupied the palace during WWII for cultural and concerts as well as a private club called Schlosschenke. The furniture, jewelry ,and other works of arts were sent to Germany. IN April 14 1945, the Grand Duchesse Charlotte was welcome back by the Luxembourgian from a balcony in the palace. From 1992 to 1996 ,the palace went thru a complete renovation to give it the splendor of the original.

Guided visits are carried out between July and early September every day except Wednesdays from 10h to 17h, it last about 45 minutes. Reservations  and information to be found at the tourist office of Luxembourg LCTO in the place Guillaume II.

Luxembourg

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here , always a must to read before the trip.

The city of Luxembourg on the Ducal Palace: https://www.luxembourg-city.com/en/place/monuments/grand-ducal-palace

The Tourist office of Luxembourg on the Ducal Palace: https://www.visitluxembourg.com/en/place/castle/palace-of-the-grand-dukes

The Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg constitutes the House of Luxembourg-Nassau, headed by the sovereign Grand Duke,  and in which the throne of the Grand Duchy is hereditary. It consists of heirs and descendants of the House of Nassau-Weilburg,  whose sovereign territories passed cognatically from the Nassau dynasty to a cadet branch of the House of Bourbon-Parma itself a branch of the Spanish Royal House which is agnatically a cadet branch of the House of Capet that originated in France. On 28 July 1987, by grand ducal decree, members of the dynasty assumed the surname “de Nassau” and discontinued use of the princely title and in escutcheon of the House of Bourbon-Parma(the Dukes of which had not consented to the marriages to commoners of the dynasty of their Luxembourg  cadet branch, Prince Charles in 1967 and  hereditary Grand Duke Henri in 1981,  while retaining the style  of Royal Highness. Since the grand ducal decree of 21 September 1995, dynasts who are the children of a Grand Duke or Hereditary Grand Duke hold the titles Prince/Princess of Luxembourg and Prince/Princess of Nassau with the style of Royal Highness.

Shortly after his accession to the throne in October 2000, Grand Duke Henri issued a grand ducal decree conferring upon his eldest son and heir, Prince Guillaume, the title of “Hereditary Grand Duke” and restoring to him the title “Prince of Bourbon-Parma”.  Male line descendants of Grand Duchess Charlotte who are not the children of a Grand Duke or Hereditary Grand Duke are Prince/Princess of Nassau with the style of His/Her Royal Highness. The Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg is the current Grand Duke of Luxembourg. He was born on April 16, 1955. He was married on February 14, 1981 to Maria Teresa Mestre (born in Havana , Cuba) and became Grand Duke when his father, Jean, abdicated on October 7, 2000. Their children are: Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Guillaume born in 1981 ,also Prince of Nassau, and Prince of Bourbon-Parma, married Countess Stephanie de Lannoy in 2012.  Prince Félix of Luxembourg Prince of Nassau born in 1984, and married in 2013 to Claire Margareta Lademacher of which they have a daughter (Amalia b 2014) and son Liam b 2016). Prince Louis de Luxembourg born in 1986 married 2006 to Tessy Antony, he renounced before marriage to succession and later divorced in 2017. Their sons was out of wedlock Prince Gabriel born in 2006 and Prince Noah in 2007 . Princess Alexandra of Luxembourg born in 1991 and Prince Sebastian of Luxembourg born in 1992.

Grand Duchy family in French : http://www.monarchie.lu/fr/famille/index.html

Enjoy the Cinderella country dukedom ,duchy of Luxembourg. I have cruise on it north to south ,west to east by car; lovely. Have a great week you all, happy travels, good health and many cheers!!!

ps I have updated the post with new photos (on top) found in my vault cdrom safe lol!! Enjoy it!

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April 17, 2018

The Grand Place at Brussels!

I do not know but I love big squares with architecture or historical value. Luckily, Europe is full of them , and in my favorite places, there are just gorgeous. I am in the mood to tell you more about one of my all times favorites. The Grand Place of Brussels, Belgium.

I came to it way back in 1993 for the first time even with my parents in tow, and was magical. My oldest boy was just a year old and already visited France, we took him to Brussels this time. It is easy logistics for us, because the wife oldest brother lives in the north of France near the Belgian border, so we used it as lodging base.

Brussels

Early on 1993 in Grand Place my parents

Brussels

early on Grand Place 1993,P and M

After this early visit, and falling in love with the square, we came back repeatedly over the years, and even to spent Christmas in Brussels! Needless to tell you its one of our favorite countries in Europe.

Ok so enough of nostalgia, let’s talk about the Grand Place.

The Grand Place or Central square is bordered by corporation houses, the city hall and the house of the king.  The facades of the 19C are not always the exact of their construction after 1695. Several times the renovators have information that is not the original such as the mentioned of the king of Spain or without cohesions for the 19C styles. One example is the house of the Star left of the City Hall, the building was demolished to allowed for the enlargement of the street ; later it was rebuilt at the street level with a columns and a pedestrian gallery. The house of the king is a mixing styles of the 19C, the former building had a tragic history and was in bad shape; by the 17C the Archduchess Isabelle had decorated with a dedication to Notre Dame of Peace ,that was not pleasant to the renovators of the 19C; therefore, they replace the building with a new one, taking away all the religious figures and replaced them with political figures.

The history as I like in brief details is as follows:

In the 10C, the dukes of lower Lorraine had built a castle on the Senne island ,the birthplace of Brussels. By the end of the 11C, near the castle they installed an open air market in a dry swamp area with banks of sand which they called inferior market or Nedermerkt in Flemish.  This business district belonging to the church of Saint Nicolas, patron saint of the merchants was in a very important commerce route between Flanders and the Rhineland regions. Early in the 13C they built three markets in the square, one for meats or Great Butchers  ,one for breads and one for linen; these markets belonged to the Duke of Brabant allowing to exposed the goods and controlling the sales to make sure the taxes were paid.

The construction of the City hall in several phases from 1401 to 1455 in the square seat of municipal power responding to the central power symbolize by the Coudenberg palace. Facing the City Hall the power is omnipresent with the bread market taking the name of the House of the King because it was here that you paid your taxes since 1406. Around the square there was built rich houses of merchants and influential corporations mostly in wood but some on stone along the 17C. After the bombing and fires of 1695, the square is rebuilt almost entirely and even prettier.  At the end of the 18C the without britches or sans culotte destroyed almost all the symbols and statues of the old regime and the buildings were transformed as well as renovations in bad taste in addition to the pollution. Under the Burgomaster Charles Buls is progressively restored and rebuilt along the same representation of the reconstruction. . In the center of the square in 1856 there was a monumental fountain commemorating the 50th anniversary of king Leopold I, it was replaced in 1860 by a fountain of the counts of Egmont and Hornes in front of the House of the King. This fountain with statues on top of the counts of Egmont and Hornes  headless at the spot were moved to the area of the petit Sablon, and 30 years later in the Belle Epoque period a music kiosk was built. The market square has preserve its functions as a morning market until November 19 1959. It is still called the Grote Markt in Dutch or Gruute Met in Flemish today.

As said, the City hall was built between 1402 and 1455 and the only witness to the middle ages architectural style in the square today. The house of the king, in the 12C was in wood and bread was sold here; it was replaced in the 15C by a stone building to house the administrative services of the Duke of Brabant or sometimes called the House of the Duke. When the same duke becomes the king of Spain, it change to the house of the king; Charles V ordered built in the gothic style something like the one we can see today. The city had it rebuilt in 1873 in the neo gothic style after the bombings of 1695. The building houses today the Museum of the city of Brussels since 1887.

Each year on the weekend of August 15 the Grand Place is covered with a huge tapestry of flowers about 25×75 meters with over 500K begonias, something to see a must here.

Brussels

Grand Place

Brussels

Grand Place

Brussels

beer museum Grand Place

Brussels

beer museum Grand Place

Brussels

Grand Place

Brussels

City Hall Grand Place

Brussels

Grand Place

Brussels

City Hall Grand Place

A bit more detail on what you will see around the big square or Grand Place.

Between the rue de la Tête d’or , and rue au Beurre on the west side you have the house of the bakers corporation or the House of the King built in 1696. The house has been much change and totally rebuilt in 1901-1902; It has busts of St Aubert, patron Saint of the bakers and king Charles II of Spain.  By No 2-3 you have La Brouette, or the house of the graissiers corporation dated from the 15C , it was rebuilt in 1697 and is decorated with a statue of Saint Gilles, the Patron Saint of the Graissiers who also was restored in 1912. At No 4 you have the Le Sac or House of the cabinetmakers  corporation of which tools decorated the front since the 15C, built in stones in 1644 and rebuilt in 1697. The sculptures are Pierre van Dievoet and Laurent Merkaert.  The inferior part of the Sac has the symbol sculpture in 1644 and left intact as part of the third floor that the restoration began in 1697; and it is here that starts the sculptures of van Dievoet and Merkaert ; very decorative gable with torches and angles vases on top a globe on which there is a compass and on the windows heavy guirlandes of flowers and fruits, a shell, and heads of angels. This house was restored in 1912. Today it houses the house of Belgian master chocolatiers or the La Maison des Maitres Chocolatiers Belges. At No 5 la Louve, or house of the undertaking archers is built in 1690 and on 1696 the façade is rebuilt putting a phoenix born in ashes and coming out of flames symbol of the city reconstruction following the bombing of the city in 1695. The fronton is decorated with an Apollo following the original designs from 1890-1892, the lower reliefs are of Romulus and Remus fed by the she-wolf. At No 6 you have the Le Cornet, or house of the shipbuilders corporation since the 15C rebuilt in 1697. Design as  front of a boat, with sculptures even in the façade; house restored in 1899 to 1902. At No 7 you have Le Renard, or house of the craftmans corporation from the 15C rebuilt in 1699 with allegories from the four continents  and on top a statue of Saint Nicolas, patron Saint of the craftsman’s.

Between the rue Charles Buls ,and the rue des Chapeliers or south side you have at No 8 L’Etoile or House of the Amman rebuilt in 1695, demolished in 1852 and rebuilt in 1897 as an annex to the next house, and the street is rename rue Charles Buls, and a plaque on his honor is place there next to the monument of Everard t’Serclaes. At No 9, le Cygne,(swan) or bourgeois house rebuilt in 1698 with a façade not taken into account the three floors; it was purchased in 1720 by the butcher’s corporation and modified, restored between 1896 and 1904; here the Foundation of the Belgians workers party took place in 1885 and Karl Marx writes his Communist manifesto. At No 10, l’Arbre d’or or the golden tree you have the house of the brewers corporation ;that today is a museum; Dates from 1696 and restored in 1901. Decorated with sculptures and on top an equestrian statue of Charles Alexander of Lorraine put here in 1752 to replace that of Maximilian Emmanuel de Bavaria , governor while the reconstruction of Brussels took place. At No 11 la Rose or private house rebuilt in 1702, and restored in 1901. At no 12 le Mont Thabor, private house rebuilt in 16900 and restored in 1885.

Between the rue des Chapeliers,and the rue de la Colline on the East side, you have at No 12a former 2-4 rue des Chapeliers) the Alsemberg , a private house built in 1699 in blue stone with the mark of the stone cutter. At no 18-19 the house of the Dukes of Brabant, seven houses behind the same façade, modified in 1770 and call as such because of the busts of the Duke of Brabant the decorates it. Restored between 1881 and 1890. At no 13 the La Renommée, No 14 L’Ermitage, no 15 La Fortune, No 16, Le Moulin à vent or the house of the milling makers corporation; No 17 Le Pot d’étain or plomb house ,and it is the house of the carpenters and wheelers makers corporation. At no 18, La Colline or hill ,the house of the four crown corporation (for sculptors, stone cutters, roofmakers, and masonry); No 19 la Bourse or stock exchange.

Between the rue de la Colline and rue des Harengs on the north east side you have at No 20 le Cerf, private house rebuilt in 1710 and restored in 1897; at no 21-22 Joseph and Anne, two private houses in one façade, rebuilt in 1897 from an aquarelle of 1729  of Ferdinand Joseph de Rons. At no 23 L’Ange, private house rebuilt in 1697 and renovated façade from 1897 from older drawings. At no 24-25 La Chaloupe d’or, or house of the stone makers corporation, design in 1697 and with a monumental façade on the northeast side was refused by the neighbors; it has on top the statue of Saint Hommebon de Crémone, Patron Saint of the stonemasons; the bust of Saint Barbara below the entrance door from 1872. At no 2–27 Le Pigeon since the 15C the property of the painters corporation that sold it in 1697 to the stonemason Pierre Simon, the author of the façade; it house Victor Hugo and was restored in 1908. At no 28  Le Marchand d’or a private house rebuilt in 1709 and restored in 1882.

Between the rue Chair et Pain and the rue au Beurre on the northwest side you have at no 34 Le Heaume, private house ,restored in 1920. At no 35, Le Paon, style of houses of the 18C restored in 1882.  At no 36-37 Le Petit Renard or Le Samaritain et Le Chêne , two houses dating from 1696 and restored in 1884-1886. At No 38 Sainte Barbe (Santa Barbara) private house built in 1696. At No 39, L’Âne private house restored in 1916.

You have plenty of ammunition to come visit this place; gorgeous all around if busy very popular and the side streets are humming with restos ;bars; cafes and shops galore. To help you plan your trip and read more of it, here are some webpages.

webcams of the Grand Place : http://www.ilotsacre.be/images/virtualvisit/grand_place-grote_markt.htm

360 degrees view of the Grand place in English: http://cuicui.be/belgium-brussels-grand-place/

City of Brussels on the Grand Place: https://www.brussels.be/grand-place-brussels?_ga=2.77125333.1193796075.1523960972-1438831985.1523960972

Unesco on the Grand Place: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/857/

Brussels heritage site on the Grand Place in French: http://patrimoine.brussels/decouvrir/patrimoine-international-a-bruxelles/la-grand-place-de-bruxelles

Tourist office of Brussels on the Grand Place: https://visit.brussels/en/place/Grand-Place

Enjoy the ride or walks the best way to see a city. Have a great week you all, happy travels, good health, and many cheers!

 

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April 17, 2018

The Royal Palace of Madrid, Palacio Real de Madrid!

Let me take you back to my Spain, always memories and wonderful times of old and new. When I lived in the city going to the Royal Palace was a treat, coming from Quintana working class neighborhood. We had no money to go in back then in the old regime.  It took me to leave Madrid and Spain , spent some years in America; and finally come back to it in 1990 to see it inside. It was a treat I will always cherished for me and for the fact that I was there with my girlfriend , today wife of 27 years!!! and 3 wonderful young men.!!!

Oh yes this is the Palacio Real or Palacio de Oriente as some locals might call it.  I have written bits of it in other posts on Madrid (too many to mention, just search in my blog) ,but decided to do one for it alone. After all, it is all worth it me think. Therefore ,here is my story on it.

It is the official resident of the king of Spain even if only uses it for protocole functions and the rest is open to the public as a museum. Located in the Plaza de Oriente, right along Calle Bailén with metro Opera station lines 2 and 5 , as well as Bus lines 3, 25, 39 and 148.  The walk from Puerta del Sol takes approximately 15 minutes. The current king Felipe VI and queen Letizia and children live in the Palacio de Zarzuela. The Zarzuela palace was built in the 17C by king Felipe IV about a dozen km from city center Madrid to served as a residence for hunting and pleasure. You can find out more of the Palacio de la Zarzuela at El Pardo webpage in Spanish here: http://www.elpardo.net/palacio-de-la-zarzuela/

The current Royal Palace was built between 1738 and 1755 on orders of king Felipe V and lived by the king Charles III in 1764. The Royal Palace was built on the site of the former Royal Alcazar fortress destroyed by fire in 1734, and the king wanted to rebuilt it at the same spot to mark the continuity of the Spanish monarchy.

Madrid

left side of court parvis back of Royal Palace

Madrid

on Calle de Bailén Royal Palace

Madrid

gates back court parvis from Cathedral Almudena

In 1735, he call upon Filippo Juvarra, considered at the time the best architect in Europe to Madrid. Juvarra suggest a huge castle  with four courts to allow housing the Royal family, aristocracy, ministers, and necessary services of the palace sort of like the work done in the Chateau de Versailles. However, Juvarra died in 1736 before the palace work was to begin so the king call upon a disciple of Juvarra, that was working since 1736 in the La Granja Royal Palace near Segovia, another Italian name  Giovanni Battista Sacchetti with instructions to minimize the cost of construction. Sacchetti suggest a palace with one court that is approved in 1737 and he is name architect of the palace in 1738. He worked there with the help of Ventura Rodriguez( amongst his work is the Royal palace of Aranjuez) , and Francesco Sabatini (that designed the wing that gives out to the street Calle de Bailén ,stables, and imperial stair) , and the garden by his name as well as Fray Martin Sarmiento with the Marquis de Balbueno as treasury administrator of the construction.

Madrid

Entrance to Jardines de Sabatini

The building was to be square around a huge court and done with granite, white stone of Colmenar and marble for the details. The building is higher on the façade on the street with three floors, it has an interior floor and two with windows link by a colossal ionic stone; a large cornice with a baluster on top the superior area. The façade to the garden has a lowering position with lots of windows. The Royal palace is one of the biggest in all of western Europe after that of the Louvre, taking about 135K square meters and having 2800 rooms with 50 open to the public!! On its three floors and three mezzanines under the ceiling of each floor. The facades measure about 130 meters on the side for 33 meters high; and has 870 windows and 240 balconies that open ups over the facades or to the patio. It ,also, has 44 stairs and more than 30 main salons or big rooms.

Worth mentioning me think, the statues of the Visigoths kings that decorate the Plaza de Oriente were to be put up in the Palace above roof but been too heavy with the risk of falling, they were put in the square now. The main elements you should look for when visiting are the Throne room or Salon del Trono, also called Salon del Besamanos or kissed hands room as it is here where the reverence to the king are done. The patio and gate of the prince or Puerta del Principe, the area living of king Charles III (Carlos III); the hall of mirrors or Salon de los Espejos; The columns room or Salon de las Columnas; the room of Halbardiers or alabarderos; the Porcelains room or Saleta de Porcelana; Royal Chapel or  Capilla Real; and the Royal armory or Real Armeria.

The Royal Palace is richly decorated with portraits done by painters such as Goya, Velazquez, El Greco, Pierre Paul Rubens, Tiepolo, Mengs, and le Caravage. Several Royal collections of great historical significance are also in the Royal Palace including the Royal Armory with weapons and armor dating from the 13C, and the world’s biggest collection of Stradivarius, as well as collections on tapestries, porcelain, furniture, and other works of arts of great importance. Starting in 1636, the Flemish painter Frans Snijders painted several potraits of hunting scenes for king Felipe IV to be put in the hunting pavilion of the tower of Parada and the Royal Palace.

The change of the Royal guard in the Royal Palace is done every Wednesday from October to July and at 11h; need to check before going as this can be change without notice due for official acts or weather conditions.

You have two gardens around the Royal Palace, these are the  Campo del Moro (moors) on the west and Manzanares river, and the Jardines of Sabatini on the north of the Royal Palace next to it. The Royal Palace is bordered on the east by the Plaza de Oriente separated by the Calle de Bailén; on the south or Armories you have the wings of the Palace; on the south of this square you have the Cathedral of the Almudena,one of Madrid’s patron Saint.

To help you plan your visit here is the official site of the Royal Palace by the National Heritage Monument organization. http://www.patrimonionacional.es/real-sitio/palacio-real-de-madrid

And from Madrid tourist office;  https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/royal-palace

And for a closer look at the Spanish Royal Family here is the official link: http://www.casareal.es/ES/Paginas/home.aspx

The current king of Spain, Felipe VI:  name as his Majesty the King, Don Felipe de Borbón y Grecia,(Bourbon and Greece) is the third child of the former kings Don Juan Carlos and Doña Sofía. Born in Madrid January 30 1968 in the clinic of our Lady of Loreto. He was baptized with the names of Felipe, Juan, Pablo ,and Alfonso of All Saints in memory of respectively, the first Bourbon that reigned over Spain (grandson of Louis XIV of France and born in Versailles, Felipe V); of his paternal grandfather chief of the Royal House of Spain, of his maternal grandfather king of Greece,and of his great grandfather Don Alfonso XIII, king of Spain. His godparents were his grandfather Royal Highness Don Juan de Borbón, Count of Barcelona, and his great grandmother king  Victoria Eugenia. Curiosities of life, the current pretender to the throne of France as legimirate king Louis XX is named Alfonso also a Bourbon and born in Madrid. The current king’s Father Juan Carlos is a cousin of queen Elizabeth II of UK, and great (or is it another great ) Grandson of queen Victoria of UK, nephew of Emperor Frederick II of Germany and 5th in line to the throne of France ! blue blood….

Hope you enjoy the bits of history here, and a fine tradition I like. Have a great week with plenty of happy travels, good health ,and many cheers!!!

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April 16, 2018

Some news from France CLXXXVIIII

And we have Mondays, well if we didn’t then we we will have Tuesdays so let life goes on as plan and do not think so much about it, it is what it is,another day on Earth. Enjoy it. We have sunshine today and temps up to 13C  or about 58F no rain and it seems Spring is starting to show up this week.

Let me bring you up today on some goodies in my belle France and especially on the most beautiful city in the world, Paris.

Let’s off with the bike network of Paris , Vélib has a new management firm starting this year and apparently is causing some misfortunes already. We do not want a traffic jam on bikes lol!!  Paris already has 661 stations out of a planned 1400 already but many of them find themselves empty, bikes that cannot be removed, and very bad customer service. The new management company Smovengo had promise to make an additional 200 operational by January… is under pressure. Well I imagine from whom!  More info and map here: Velib stations map in Paris

And bike or not, you will be able to to to a library in Paris on a Sunday. The first one was the library or médiathèque Edmond Rostand (17éme), and there are other  7 libraries that will open normally from 13h to 18h . The objective is to have an additional 10 open by 2020. The current list of open libraries on Sundays are  Médiathèque Marguerite Duras – 115, rue de Bagnolet (20éme) Bibliothèque du cinéma François Truffaut – Forum des Halles – 4, rue du cinéma (Iéme).this one from 12h to 19h. Médiathèque Marguerite Yourcenar – 41, rue Alleray (15éme) ;Médiathèque Françoise Sagan – 8, rue Léon Schwartzenberg (10éme ); Médiathèque de la canopée La Fontaine – 10, passage de la Canopée (Iéme). from 12h to 18h. Médiathèque Hélène Berr – 70, rue Picpus (12éme)  ;Médiathèque Edmond Rostand – 11, rue Nicolas Chuquet (17éme). Happy readings!

Did I said , Paris has it all; well here it is in next two paragraphs.

They open a naturist space in the bois de Vincennes (12éme) since last Saturday in more than  7 300 m2, between the allée Royale ,and the route Dauphine.  The area is not close, but just a panel indicating « entrée » or entrance and other panels in wood indicating «You are entering into a space for natural nudity is authorise».  The city of Paris is allowing a period of 6 months from April 14 to October 24 2018. There is even an event to visit the Palais de Tokyo on May 5 2018 totally nude and already for 160 spaces the city has received 30 000 requests!!! according to the nudist association of Paris or the Association des naturistes de Paris.

And if the above do not crack you up then hold on for this one.  Hundreds of prostitutes came out on the street protesting the fines incur by the clients!!! Coming together at the wonderful explicit place Pigalle , historical neighborhood of the prostitution in Paris on a call from their syndicate = union , the  Syndicat du travail sexuel (Strass).  The law came into effect April 13 2016 where a client asking for favors to a prostitute can be fined if caught 1500 euros ,and if repeat offender  3750 euros. So I guess not enough clients because of the law ::)

In a more mundane news you have the Carrefour starting something unique.  Walk in drive in for pedestrians to their stores one of them I know at Bio Fondary, 3, rue Fondary ,15éme and plan about 9 others all over Paris. No need for car drive in, now you can walk in yourselves….! This is already happening in other cities such as Lyon and Saint Etienne. At Lyon, you have them at avenue de Saxe and a Carrefour City Renan Jean-macé.

A historical hotel is back, built in 1925, the Hotel Madison is only steps from the statue Diderot by a corner in the boulevard Saint-Germain. An Art Déco architecture in one of the most bohemians neighborhoods of Paris. Jean Cocteau  like very much this place where he came often for a last glass while Albert Camus  lock himself always at room 65  to finalize the writing of his novel the Foreigner or L’étranger. This room is open up to the Church Saint-Germain-des-Prés, on the side of nave, with light cloths small size with a bed of 160 cm rectangular pillow with golden cords and a light luminosity. The renovation done recently allows to create 14 communicating rooms and 12 triple rooms.  The hotel puts at the reach of their young clientele small boats like those seeing in the jardin du Luxembourg that you can use there too or a pedal automobile in house.Located at  143, bd Saint-Germain, tél. +33(0) 1.40.51.60.00 ;More info here: Hotel Madison Paris

 

Something new and nice from A Canadian in Paris. The roaste chicken with cauliflower is very good indeed, done by the Canadian chef Noam Gedalof (had experience with Thomas Keller in California, Pascal Barbot in Paris) and his wife Etheliya Hananova a sommelier and daughter of Russian restaurant immigrants to Canada.  Also, Joris Garcia, the sommelier from Canada as well. Etheliya was a lyrics singer before becoming a sommelier of wines! See them try them at  Comice, 31, avenue de Versailles, 16éme Tel +33 (0) 1.42.15.55.70. My kind of neighborhood! Open for lunch Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and dinners Tuesdays to Saturdays. Menu: 46€, and 80€ (Lunch), 120€ (dinner).  A la Carte about 84€ for three dishes. More here: Comice Paris

Another find is this new place in the new “Brooklyn area of Paris”, the Pantin. My first entry point to Paris back in 1990.  On an old flour factory from 1923, and a beautiful architectural surrounding purchased by a branch of BNP Paribas bank, today housing offices,but, however, you can eat here wonderfully good. A bistrot next to the Canal! Bistrot Des Grands Moulins 1 5, 3, rue du Général Compans – Pantin. Near REC C Gare de Pantin on the other side of the Canal de l’Ourcq.nice More here: Bistrot des Grands Moulins

Now something do not write enough, but you know if read my blog from where I grew up and diplomas on wine. A passion with a cellar to look over…

Each year more than 8 billion bottles of wine is produce in my belle France, with as many choices on the market!!! literally ! Therefore, how to choose to put in your cellar?  This is the 8B question, and very personal I must said from experiences ,even tutoring with the Rothschild!  The keeping of the wine must be done to improve its attributes, the texture, taste and aromas ; more than be keep the wine improves. You can keep to have souvenirs of a moment done in a span of life always trying to improve the quality of the wines are many reasons to have a cellar for keeps. Now, even here we differ, I know m any friends who had kept their wines for 30 years (even my father in law here lol!) ; however, this is too much to dwell on in my opinion. I usually buys my wines knowing that at maximum will be kept for five years in my cellars. Unless, it is a purchase for a special occassion. For instance, it is a French tradition to buy a wine from the year your child is born, and wait until 18 to open the bottle so we did with our sons with Mouton-Rothschild first wine.

After all, we notice that about only 1% of the wines are worth conserving , more reason to have a well chosen cellar or cave in your house (and be sure it is a cellar not a basement).  We all know that the tannins are known to preserve the alive wines such as the Reds like the high labels of Bordeaux because they have the tendancy to keep their tannins longer and more of it.  The same can be said of the wines with high sugar content such as the sweet white wines that helps in avoid the deterioration; therefore , the more the white wine is sweet the more it will aged; that is why the liquorous wines lilke the Sauternes are known to aged well. In a general sense, the red wines aged better than the whites, however some types of white wines like those with Chardonnay or Rieslings of high labels can last as long.

The millésime of the wine is the date in which the grapes are harvest and not the year of which the wine is sold.  It is important to look at the best millésimes years to put in your cellar, and even more so on the name of the producer not the label but who makes the wine. Generally, if the year of harvest is bad the wine will not aged as much, but this can extended if handle by a good producer. The hot days together with cool nights all contribute to developed the aromatic potential, the maturity, and the acidic vivacity of the grape aiding the wine aged better.

What wine to drink with strawberries. I say this because this is the season here and the fraises or strawberries look delicious as well as one of my favorite fruits. In a sorbet, salad, tartelette or even a salted recipe the red fruits are perfumy, and acidic sweet;the ideal to accompany this is a Muscat grape dry or sweet depending on the preparation of the fruit.  In a general sense, the white wines perfumy, light, pure, and young are the perfection for the aromatic intensity of the fruit.  If you do a tartelette of Strawberries then a sparkling white or sweet white will do; a strawberry salad with mint than a muscat rosé, and on a strawberry sorbet especially if a bit of sugar on top then the best is the Champagne rosé. Enjoy it all!!!

On another angle or different thing, we have the former Royal Manufacture of coins and medals open to the public and welcoming families. This is the manufacture royale des monnaies et médailles. You can discover the history of the treasury and the French institution the oldest founded in 864AD by king Charles the Bald.  This is the last factory of Paris and today houses the manufacture and a museum. You come to the entrance and go up a stair to the first floor (US 2fl) and see the exposition room, the shops of cutting, the Grand Monnayage or foundary where the workers did their job behind glass windows. A bit further, you stop at the manufacturing room before lots of machines that tell you the route of the fabrication of the coins and medals.  There are even tours for families to show the children. Manufacture Royale des Monnaies et Médailles de Paris, 11, quai de Conti (6éme). Tuesdays to Fridays 14h to 16h check schedule and hours please. More info here in English/French: Monnaie de Paris

Another nice conversion building in Paris. The BETC agency in charge to erase the frontiers between the artists and the amateurs has created a space where all can be borrowed such as works of art for a few weeks, and show them elsewhere  following the rules of the original artists.  To this it was chosen a nice piece of history of Paris, the Magasins Généraux, once the favorite of graffitti people until 2016 the BETC renovated the building; today it offered a lot of free events and organised by the CNEAI and MediaLab93.  You can visit here the Le Poste Général, that is accessable for all. See it enjoy it by the Pantin, the new Brooklyn of Paris ::) Le Centre National Edition Art et Image – Les Magasins Généraux 1, rue de l’Ancien Canal – Pantin. More in French here: Magasins Généraux Paris

Something beefy to close out this post, is the story of Hippopotamus chain of Restaurants. Early on in my French rounds, I ate a lot in them with the family but always the same sentiments these are not good steakhouses. Then, in 2017 ,they were purchase by the groupe Bertrand (owner of many resto chains and franchiser for Burger King France). The chain Hippopotamus has a new menu and decoration with cow leather seat buckets and all you can eat french fries as well as the sauces.  The interior is already more pleasant to be in with a good ambiance with a ranch hipster look. The food the burgers are ok, and the steaks are the biggest seen here. More on the restos here and you can find your closest by going to Nos Restaurants center upper page. Hippopotamus Restaurants

The groupe Bertrand is here on restauration you can see the chains of restos and on Hotellerie ,the chains of hotels. In French: Groupe Bertrand

 

April 14, 2018

A town with a lot more than France,Angers!

Going or coming along my ways in my belle France, need to tell you about a town that was a pleasant visit, and even close by , so much to see ! The title is of more than France because here the Plantagenêt dynasty that a lot to do with England was started really!  So, let me tell you a bit on Angers ,on a cloudy warm day in my gorgeous Morbihan.

Angers is a city on the banks of the Maine river in department 49 ,Maine-et-Loire in the region of Pays de la Loire. The city is at the confluence of the Loir, Mayenne and  Sarthe river been the latter two which form the Maine river by the island of Saint Aubin and the course continues into the Loire river. It is located about 80 km from Nantes and 81 from Le Mans, 110 km from Rennes, and 265 km from Paris. Only at 123 km from the Atlantic ocean at Pornic and 143 km from the Manche in Normandy. Historical capital of the Anjou , birthplace of the Plantagenêt dynasty , and one of the intellectual centers of Europe in the 15C under the reign of the good king René.

Angers is located on three road axis ; the A11 between Paris and Nantes, the A87 towards La Roche-sur-Yon via Cholet and the A85 towards Tours. Rennes can be reach by the expressway D775; and the D761 connects Angers to Poitiers, and Niort. All roads well-traveled by yours truly.  Angers by its location on a major river such as the Maine has 8 bridges including a railroad bridge. You can count them north to south as the pont de Segré, railroad bridge; Viaduc de la Maine go around town via the A11; pont Jean-Moulin connects the area of Capucins  to the neighborhood of  Saint-Serge; pont Confluences connects the hospital district and the Gaumont multicinema ,and now reserved for the tramway, bikes, pedestrians and emergency vehicules;  pont de la Haute-Chaîne connects the old historical boulevards to the right bank; pont de Verdun, oldest bridge over the river connects city center to the La Doutre, since the 11C;  pont de la Basse-Chaîne, near the castle; and the pont de l’Atlantique, continuation of the roads along the river linking the city center to the districts of Lac de Maine, Belle-Beille, and west of the city since  1973.

The transport here is good, easy no major traffic jams ever encounter. The train station is Gare Saint Laud, the junction with Tours at Saint Nazaire and Le Mans; this is the principal station getting the TGV fast train to Paris-Montparnasse, and Roissy CDG airport. Also, to Nantes. The river transportation is nice due to a pleasure marina at Cale de la Savatte  welcomes cruiser and boaters and in summer even cruises up the Mayenne and Sarthe, and Loire rivers. There is free bike service for those living or working in the city with the VéloCité program network. It is,also, in the network EuroVelo6 or the Eurovéloroute des Fleuves  crossing over Angers and connecting  Saint-Brevin-les-Pins to Constanza Romania, going across Europe from the Atlantic Ocean tothe Black Sea passing ten countries and on the Loire, Rhine,and Danube rivers. In the dept 49 of the Maine-et-Loire, this route is part of the local Loire à Vélo. In town the bus network is done by Keolis and intercities by Anjoubus.

The city architecture can be told in the materials used for construction such as the schist and tuffeau chalk that makes Angers a city of black and white. The inner old town you have the concentration of historic buildings such as the Cité ,the oldest neighborhood with small narrow streets and houses from the Middle Ages. The neighborhood of La Doutre on the right bank is the richest in these types of medieval and renaissance architecture; the city center has buildings to the end of the middle ages to the 19C, sometimes in the Haussmannian style.

A bit of history  I like

The name of Angers was mentioned for the first time around the year 150 by Ptolémée in his work of Geography as Juliomagus. On the stone table of Peutlinger we find the name Iuliomago. Angers is again mentioned in the Middle ages under the name of Andecava civitas  and in the 5C as  Andecavis, Andegavis between  861 and 882,  Angieus in 1127, Angeus  in 1205 ,and  Angiers from the 12C. It was or is known as the city of flowers , the city white or the city black as well as the Athens of the west. The Bretons and the Vikings made incursions here and ransacked the town by 845 and again in 852. After the battle of  Jengland, Charles  the Bold king of the Francs and Erispoë, Breton chief get together in 851 to signed the treaty of Angers that gives to the Bretons the country around Rennes, Nantes, and Retz fixing the limits of Brittany. The last Caroligians, king of the Francs and counts of Anjou gives the management to viscounts from the end of the 9C. One of these, Foulques le Roux, becomes Foulques Ier d’Anjou in 929  and creates the frist dynasty of counts fo Anjou :from 1060, the Plantagenêt dynasty takes the title of Count with Geoffroy III the bearded, grandson of Foulques Nerra. Leading an empire that goes from the Pyrénées to Ireland.  Queen Blanche de Castille ordered built a fortress with a rampart of 3800 meters long on the two sides of the river ; the circle of ramparts in the lower empire starts by the 13C making the cité a military bastion that is closed to the laiques persons.

By 1360, the county is raised to Duchy and Louis I becomes the first Duke of Anjou. By 1434 starts the reign of the good king René duke of Anjou ,Lorraine, Bar, Count of Provence , king of Naples and Jerusalem.  It had built three mansions near Angers such as  Haute-Folie, Reculée ,and Chanzé,near Baumette, where he found in 1451 the convent of the Cordeliers,and he bequested at his death the tapestry of the Apocalypse to the Cathedral. In 1474, king Louis XI does a movement against the Good King René by coming to Angers as a friendly march with his army and camps outside ; the the king René too old to fight decides to give his kingdom without a fight and Anjou finally entered into the Royal domain. In 1619 ,king Louis XIII authorized Marie de Médicis to stayed at her court in Angers, and she comes to lived at the Logis Barrault; by 1620 there was the battle of Ponts-de-Cé  between the allies of the king and those of the mother ; rapidly the treaty of Angers is done and the king accepts the return of his mother to the court of France.

The war of the Vendée creates great damange and losses here with fighting between the revolutionary Republicans and the Vendéens royalists non stop to 1793; the terror come over with many deaths by firing squad at the champ des Martyrs near Avrillé; a guillotine is installed 1793-94 at the current square or Place du Ralliement. Eventually in 1807, Napoléon Ier ordered the medieval fortifications destroyed. During the WWI the city does not suffers much, while during the WWII , she gets involved allowing the Polish government in exile to be seated here at the Château de Pignerolle, becoming the de facto capital of Poland..From 1941, the Nazis make Angers the seat of their HQ of the west of France and later at Pignerolle the communication center for submarines. In 1942,Angers becomes the seat for the regional center of the Gestapo. On August 10 1944, the city is liberated by the US 3rd Army of General Patton.

Things to see in Angers.

The episcopal palace of Angers and the Palais du Tau, since the 9C at the top of the Cathedral is witness to the roman architecture. There is a ramparts wall gallo roman from the 3C of which a tower is preserved and the Synodal room roman, the gothic chimney , a library, a stairs from the renaissance period and an apartment from the 19C. You have the Hospital Saint-Jean d’Angers of hospital architecture located in the La Doutre neighborhood built back in 1180! With sick rooms of the gothic angevin style, built by the narrowest point in the river on a hill of schist, the Castle of Angers began in 1232 under Blanche de Castille as well as a circle wall today the boulevards of the city center . One enclosure has 800 meters long and 17 towers of several meters in diameter and about 30 plus meters high. The house or  maison d’Adam is very nice medieval house in wood and has two facades of 10 meters each on six floors located near the Cathedral taken its name from the historical Adam and Eve sculptured on the house with decoration of persons and animals.  The maison de Simon Poisson in the Doutre built end of 15C, Hôtel des Pénitentes  from flamboyant gothic end 15C to first and second renaissance periods. The before mentioned  logis Barrault  early renaissance style and one of the first mansions done between court and garden and wonderful facades.  There is also, the logis Pincé, from the first renaissance style, with two bodies  around a tower stairs. Built in 1871 the Grand Théatre in the Place du Ralliement, is of the Haussmanian style ,and transformation of the Second Empire. The abbey Church of the former Abbey of Ronceray is a major work of Roman art with a nave of the 11C well preserved and chapters with decoration of vegetable,animals and figurative scenes. In the old center or Cité you have the wonderful Cathedral of Saint-Maurice built early 11C with an architecture between the roman and the angevin gothic. It has important collection of tapestries shown in the building of Saint-Jean to the Saint-Maurice. The abbey Church of the former abbey of Saint-Serge is also representative of the angevin gothic syle especially its choir. The tower or tour Saint-Aubin is an old clock tower by the former abbey of Saint-Aubin.  Finally, the Church Notre-Dame-des-Victoires is a modern realisation built in 1899 in romano byzantine style with great luminosity and esthetiques interiors.

Angers

Church Saint Laud

Angers

Place du Ralliement Grand Theatre

Angers

maison d’Adam place Ste Croix Angers

The main green areas in the city are the Jardin des Plantes an English style garden around a stream bordered by shrubs and statues; the jardin du Mail,wide promenade with a model of a fountain shown at the Universal Exposition of 1855 and a French style garden  and the parc de l’arboretum  enclosing five gardens with different varieties of trees, flowers etc around 1500 species and 4300 trees.

There are museums, my favorites are the fine arts museum or musée des beaux-arts d’Angers, it is at the famous logis Barrault,with museum graphics and the history of the city, and upstairs the fine arts. Located in the former abbey Church of Toussaint,you have the Galerie David d’Angers  showing an important part of the work of Pierre-Jean David, aka David d’Angers. The collection includes the quasi totals of the shop models in plaster of the sculptur of the 23 statues shown, and the model of the fronton of the Panthéon, etc etc. Located in the Castle, you have the Galerie de l’Apocalypse  showing the trapesty of the apocalypse ordered by Louis 1 Duke of Anjou at the end of the 14C; retracing the apocalypse according to Saint John but showing as well the sociopolitical context of France during the war of Hundred years. It has 106 meters now from 140 meters at the original and still gives a rare look at medieval art.  The museum or musée Jean-Lurçat  as well as the contemporary tapestry Done in 1957, the tapestry of the cry of the world or Chant du Monde  is a series of ten tapestries on human destiny and as honoring the tapestry of the apocalypse.

And last but not least,  the library Toussaint has over 250K volumes of local heritage including psalms Caroligians from the middle of the 9C as well as 117 incunables where it has still ten in the world !, and the first printed book after the Bible of Gutenberg,in  1457. Printed in three colors blue, red and black. Just outside town in Marcé ,you have an aerodrome housing the regional museum of the airplane with several models of old light airplanes, it is at Angers-Marcé. Very nice place indeed but need a car.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this intriguing nice city by the Maine are here:

City of Angers in French info on right about museums and castle : http://www.angers.fr/l-action-municipale/index.html

Tourist office of Angers in English: http://www.angersloiretourisme.com/en/discovery/see-it-do-it/must-see-list

Tourist info from the region department Anjou in English: http://www.anjou-loire-valley.co.uk/Explore-Anjou/castles-heritage/unmissable-castles

Region Pays de la Loire tourism on Angers in English : https://www.paysdelaloire.co.uk/suggestions/Angers

There you go, now you are all set to come and visit, this is worth the detour and you will be glad you did. Happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all! Weekend is here once again!

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April 13, 2018

The world comes to Le Mans!

And I continue my rounds in my belle France, this time I am going back to my early days when I was chasing or been chase car racing in Daytona. Well , here we got a pretty good one if not better race and it has a lot more than cars, with a very old city. I am talking about Le Mans.

This time  let me tell you or rather give you my previous post on the city here: My previous post on Le Mans

Le Mans is in the department of the Sarthe no 72 in the region of Pays de la Loire. The city is at the meeting point of the Sarthe and Huisne rivers, former provincial capital of the Maine and Perche from the 16C. Here the marriage of Geoffroy V d’Anjou and Mathilde l’Emperesse,daughter of the  king of England  created the basis for the Plantagenêt empire , and the birth of Henri II.  The old Le Mans called the Cité Plantagenêt (or Plantagenêt city) has been the historical neighborhood of the city, known as the Red city for the color of its gallo roman ramparts of which part is still visible,dating from the 3C!  The city is about 185 km from Paris. You some small gardens/parks here such as the jardin des plantes, with some remnants of the old periods of explorations ,it has an English garden, and another French garden with a rosary and a music kiosk. There is the parc du musée de Tessé  that with the Quinconces des Jacobins makes a nice green area in the middle of the city, and on the high ground you have the esplanade du Bicentenaire, another wooded park with a nice view over the Sarthe river below.  The  Jardins Pierre-de-Ronsard,has three gardens by the Chuch collegiale of Saint-Pierre-La-Cour.  Below the tunnel, there is the square Dubois, not far from the old town area where the Plantagenêt Rose was created  with a grenade color and petals of gold 22 karat in 2009.

For moving and transport, this is a big train station that I used sometimes in my travels as a correspondence stop. The first train station was done here in 1852 connecting  Paris, and later Rennes, Angers, and Nantes.  By road,you have a big exchange circle here with the A11 Paris-Nantes ,the A81 Le Mans-Rennes, and the A28 Rouen-Tours.  A fast expressway the D323 makes the grand circle of Le Mans and joins up with the A28 coming from Tours (exit d’Auvours), and the A11  direction Nantes  (exit d’Allonnes-Le Mans ZI Sud). The A11 and the A81 is taken by yours truly several times. There is a public transport intercity network ASF or Cofiroute. However, better stop at an underground parking and walk, the best way anyway, and the streets are very narrow and city center largely pedestrian , so park underground by the Place de la République. There is a local bus network  SETRAM as well as two lines of tramway.

A bit of history I like

The city is known since the 2C BC under the name of Vindinon and on the gallo roman times the name of Vindunum was mentioned by the geographer Ptolémée.  The city takes by the 4C the name Gallouis of  Aulerques  Cénomans,and the first mentioned as such  under Mans is from the 12C in a novel Rou calling it Prez del Mans.  A charter from 1264 gives the name of Mans.  The placement of the  le took place in the 12C on a change in language usages.

Le Mans is considered the first city to have done an European treaty of alliance between the German town of Paderborn ; this was called the light of Europe and was signed in 836AD. Its inhabitants can said to be the first city attached to the royal power of France in 1066.  The city has many alias such as been called the Capital of Automobile sports, international automobile capital or the birthplace of automobile ( auto club race in 1906 but I know my  city in Fla had world record racing in 1902 ::)

The first commercial available car in production was done here, the Red City for the color of its ramparts , the city of blood in gold for the color of its flag . The city of lights from the 19C as was one of the first ones to received electricity. The gate to the west for its car highways around it, the city of was from the 16C to the 19C production of wax here and candles; last factories closing in the 19C . The city of lace from the 17C to the 18C, and the city of leather makers from the 12C to the 18C.

A bit of history I like:

By the 9C the city was a fortress against the invading armies of all groups, the Bretons were pushed back and the Vikings came in force along the river . The city was conquered by William the Conqueror of Normandy in around 1060 and even decided to stayed and to do be well had ordered a donjon with two elevator moats the grand and petit Barbet. Geoffroy le Bel received in 1129 the count of Maine as heredity title as well as the count of Anjou and Touraine. He reigned over the territory from 1128 to 1151 and the senator of Anjou and Maine marries in 1128 the daughter of the king of England, Mathilde (fr) the granddaughter of William, she not only gave to Normandy but also the hope of one day reign over England. Their son Henri II born at Le Mans in 1130 did becomes king of England in 1154 and managed the Plantagenet empire from Angers and Chinon, a more vast domaine than the king of France of which he was subordinate! The empire ends by 1189 by king Philippe Auguste and the city does not return French that in 1448 .The last count of Maine Charles V died in 1481 and the domains possession were given to the king of France, Louis XI, and for this Maine returns to the Royal domain

 The battle of Mans in 1793 was the most deadly encounter of the war of the Vendée against the French revolution. The Vendéen army arrives at Le Mans in December 10, 1793 but rather disorganized were needed to take back to Laval. The dead are between 10k to 15K Vendéens sometimes with atrocities. The city was retaken by the Chouans, the Breton farmers fighting the French revolution in 1799 and later the Empire as well (been Royalists). By June 19 1940 during the battle of France the Nazis of the 38 corps takes the city.  The city is liberated by the 15 corps of  General Haislip during the battle of Normandy.

There are lots of things to see here, at Le Mans.

There is the neighborhood where you can see traces of the first battle of Mans, below the bridge or the current Pont de Pontlieue  as here were the Vendéens bridge. There is the former Municipal Theater done in 1842, and the city host today the 24 hours of Le Mans.  The course is here since 1923 and is done every year in June on the circuit of more than 13 km. The old town is encircled by  roman ramparts built at end of the 3C and well preserved. The most important witness to military architecture of France and the best preserve in Europe after Rome. The thermes or spas of Vindunum are now in the school of fine arts. There are several domus and the most visible is that one at the Halles or market, the forum is located under the Cathedral at the lowest point of the hill of Old Mans.

The cité Plantagenêt or city is at the heart of the medieval Le Mans ,at the interior of a wall you have the old Le Mans or Vieux Mans or old town with many houses from the renaissance. Especially the house of Adam and Eve, and Hôtel de Clairaulnay and Hôtel de Vaux, a count and royal palace of Maine (now the city hall) and the Collegiale Church of Saint Pierre-la-Cour .

The Place de la République is a big pedestrian square in city center, before it was called Place des halles, as it welcome the wheat market that was destroyed in the 19C. There is the place des Jacobins ,the second biggest in Le Mans by the old ramparts of old Mans and where the Cathedral is located. The Place des Comtes-du-Maine is there out of the need recently to have a central open space in city center , located by the avenue François-Mitterrand, the main road leading you to the train station gare Nord, where there is always great traffic! and has an underground parking. The place de l’Éperon is a nice area too with heavy traffic.  The place Saint-Nicolas is in the heart of the neighborhood of same name , was an old area in the old town and was very commercialise; the rich built great mansions around here by the 19C.

The must here is the Saint Julien Cathedral with roman architecture on the nave and gothic on the choir and abside. It has a gothic top high of 33 meters and the Cathedral itself was built in the 11C and 15C, with the stained glass done for the most part in the 13C. You have the nice Collegiale Church of Saint Pierre-la-Cour built in the 10C after the Norman invasions of the 9C, and renovated again by Henri II Plantagenêt in 1175 before it was enlarged in 1267 with the help of Charles III d’Anjou; this was the former lordship chapel of the counts of Maine and part of the royal and count palace; today it is a place for expositions and meetings.

le Mans

collegiale Church St Pierre la Cour

You, also , have the nice Grabatoire palace or palais du Grabatoire a canons house built between 1538 and 1542 by the bishop of Le Mans. Here in 1612, Marshal  Lavardin aka Jean de Beaumanoir, received the young Louis XIII ,and the governor care for the regent Marie de Médicis, that felled sick in the trip. You have the beautiful house or Maison de la Reine Bérengére housing now the museum of the Reine Béréngère housing the work of arts of the Sarthe region history and life in Le Mans. The wife of Richard the lion hearted never lived in the house, that was initially done as a salt stock in the 15C, the house is totally in wood with ornaments carvings and sculpture, columns etc. The house of Adam and Eve or Maison d’Adam et Eve was built in 1520, the name comes from an ornament on top of the entry door. The first floor (2nd US) has massive pillars. You have the house of the two friends or Maison des Deux Amis located in the rue de la reine Bérengère built in the 15C by a rich merchant. The house of the red pillar or Maison du Pilier Rouge was built in the 15C as well, with poles holding it on a floor of stones to protect it from humidity.

There are several nice mansions worth a detour me think. These are the Hôtel des Ursulines  as it was the former school for girls from the 17C.  It has a huge glass enclosure that today is the tourist office of Le Mans. The oratory chapel or Chapelle de l’Oratoire was built in 1683 next to the school of the Oratory, and today is part of the school complex of the Montesquieu.  The Hôtel Nepveu de Rouillon from the 18C and today the resident of the craftsman workers of France or the Compagnons du devoir,heirs to the great builders of the middle ages.  The Chapelle de la Visitation located in the Place de la République is a building in the Regence style in the city, the Church was founded in 1723. In the 20C columns were added to make it a courthouse or justice palace.

Built in the 11C the bridge or pont des Vendéens  was attack in the war of the Vendée fand allowed the city folks to prepare the defense before their arrival; you can see some remains of this bridge in the neighborhood of Pontlieue,south side of the city. The nice mansion Hôtel Desportes de Linières, located at the place de l’Éperon, has a nice facade on the 9 rue des Boucheries by the market area. It was built in three levels with about 8 rooms per floor; the hotel sufferes degradation but finally restored to see the luxurious rooms decorated on the Italian style and full of marble. The nice Tessé museum or Musée de Tessé is a mansion from the 19C former episcopal palace. One of the great museums of Le Mans, and one of the first ones created after the French revolution. Today it is recognized to have Egyptian collections of great value as well as portraits from the 17C to 19C. The stock exchange or Bourse du Mans started in 1866 and finished in 1890 located on the south side of the Place de la République. Today , it houses the chamber of commerce and industry of the Sarthe.

The shop or Atelier Cosson built in 1873 at 10 rue du Crucifix. This mansion in brick and stones of  Bernay was built as the photography studio of  Gustave Cosson (1824-1896), a famous local photographer.  By 1980 on a new urban developement the street is eliminated ; the shop is dismantle stone by stone and move to the rue Montauban. Today ,this shop mansion Cosson is part of the House of the Attorneys. The tunnel des Jacobins is a section done on the hill of old Mans created in 1873 to avoid traffic in city center ;nice to take a ride on it!   The abbey of Epau or the Abbaye de l’Épau is a former Cistercian abbey founded by the Reine Bérengère of Navarra in 1229. The tomb of the queen is in the Capitol room. The abbey received many cultural events and others such as the festival of classical music of Epau. It is a bit outside of town at about 4 km east on the left bank of the Huisne river, by the town of Yvré-l’Évêque. The city of Le Mans was liberated August 8 1944 by the 3rd Army of General George Patton.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this wonderful old city ,which I have come several times especially for the 24 hrs of Le Mans!!! the museum next door is excellent too.

City of Le Mans tourist info in French : http://www.lemans.fr/dynamique/des-idees-de-visite/les-monuments/

Tourist office of Le Mans in English : https://www.lemans-tourisme.com/en/

Sarthe department  72 tourism in English: https://www.sarthe-tourism.co.uk/sarthe-secret-dont-miss

Department Pays de la Loire on Le Mans in English: https://www.paysdelaloire.co.uk/suggestions/le%20mans

Hope you have enjoy the ride and welcome eventually to this nice town of my belle France. Happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

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