Archive for April 2nd, 2018

April 2, 2018

Sentimental Lavaur, deep Tarn region of Occitanie!

And the saga continues in my lovely Tarn, the deep real France of old. Let me bring you to a singular name ,close to the family and sad. Yes, need to mentioned, sad= my wife’s father was born here and died on a car accident when she was 10, I never met him, but know was a good father; he was going to the funeral of his brother who had died in a car accident too, and on the way back to Meaux he died as well on the icy roads on November 17 (this is also the birthday of our twin boys) so as a repayment perhaps. Ok that’s out then,  Lavaur is in the department 81 Tarn region of Occitanie located in the wonderful triangle of Albi, Toulouse, and Carcassonne,and the city itself on the banks of the Agout river and the hilly pays de Cocagne. It is on the north east of Toulouse, south of Gaillac, and west of Castres been almost on the limits of the next department of the Haute Garonne no 31.

Fast on the road you can reach on the autoroute A68 from Tolouse exit 6 , by train on the TER Occitanie at gare de Lavaur and by plane using the Toulouse-Blagnac airport. We take the D112 from Toulouse as it passes on many relatives cousins etc routes and it takes you right into Lavaur.

A bit of history I like as briefly as I can.

In 1025 the fortified town of Lavaur is mentioned on writings and by 1035 the first mention of a city center is mentioned ; by 1065 it is created the saviors of Lavaur given to the monks of the abbey of Sainte Foy de Conques ; by 1098 the Saint Alain Church is built on lands given by the monks of the abbey of Saint Pons de Thomiéres by Isarn bishop of Toulouse. In 1182, the count of Toulouse takes the town from viscount Roger Trencavel and Raymond V asked the help from Henri de Marsiac, Abbot of Clairvaux to takes action against Lavaur asking in dowry the wife of Roger Trencavel, Adélaide; once the town taken the Cathars living there  must renounced and Raymond keeps the town. In 1211 Lavaur is taken by Simon de Montfort (during the crusades albigeois) after a siege of more than a month. 80 knights are lost and 80 perfects cathars are burned on wood fires, by 1213 there is a council to bring peace, by 1220, following the death of Simon de Montfort, Lavaur is taken by the future Count Raymond VII. By 1226, king Louis VIII following his campaign to submit the Languedoc, made a stop here. By 1229 following the treaty of Meaux, meeting of king Louis IX and Raymond VII ,the fortifications are destroyed.  By 1255 charter for the construction of the Church of Saint-Alain. Finally in 1271, the passage of the town from the count of Toulouse to the kingdome of France.

By September 26 1317 the Pope John XXII ordered the birth of a bishophy of Lavaur. In 1439 the passage of the Dauphin, future king Louis XI at Lavaur, 1462-1468 Louis XI raise Lavaur as County. In 1483, the city returned to the Royal domain again and final under king Charles VIII. Last third of the 15C the construction of an Episcopal palace facing the Cathedral. From 1450 the pastel industry takes over the area until 1600. by 1540 the Estates Generals of Languedoc are held in Lavaur to debate about the project of a canal linking the Garonne river to the Mediterranean, the future Canal du Midi! The rest is calm not much during the WW’s.

Some of the things to see here and in my blog post or expanded here are:

The main thing to see in my opinion and worth the detour is the Cathedral Saint Alain done from the 13C to the 15C and its bellstriker or  jacquemart first one installed in 1603 the only automate in the southwest of France. Inside you will see a roman altar of the first priory from 1098, tomb of bishop Simon de Beausoieil and primitive porch of the 13C as well as monumental porch end 15C, beautiful paintings from the middle of the 19C.  The Bishop garden or Jardins de l’Evéche old garden in French style renovated in the 19C in the English style wonderful oaks trees and a monumental statue of Count Emmanuel de Las Cases. Church of Saint-François.


tour des rondes tourist office now


Grand Rue main street of Lavaur


brasserie les americains at allee jean jaures we ate here appropriately!

The Hôtel de ville , after been in the building of the college des Doctrinaires (today licée Las Cases high school) and in the Hôtel de Clauzade, now is in the former justice palace in a second empire architecture style.  Church of Saint-François, aka des cordeliers from the 13C-15C with a big organ of 1866 ; the former conventional Church of the Cordeliers (Franciscans) founded by Sicard Baron d’Ambres, after the prohibition of the convent the Church becomes parish Church from 1802 to 1963. The Plô (old site of the Castle of Lavaur today gone). This site purchased by the King for its consults in 1622 is now a public promenade and now an esplanade big walking space since the 17C! very nice walks here and a rest to marvel of the architecture all around you. The tour des Rondes one of the old fortifications of the city is now the Tourist office. The monastery of the Clarisses founded in 1642 destroyed during the French revolution and returning in 1802, the current Chapel (1837) houses since 1852 the coffin of Sainte Clémentine, Roman Virgin and Martyr discovered in a well in Rome. The hospital of Lavaur from the first half of the 17C; bridge or pont de Lavaur, stone bridge over the Agout river built between 1773 and 1791. The quaint nice cereal stockage market or Halle aux Grains done by 1880 and today the town’s market!!! Viaduc de Lavaur, railroad bridge in cement over the Agout river built between 1882 and 1884, and the Sanctuary of Notre-Dame du Pech.


Halle aux Grains and wife


Church St Francis at Grand Rue

And there you go. Some webpages on tourism to help you plan your trip to this nice city in deep Tarn on the  limits of the Haute Garonne.

The dept 81 Tarn tourist office on Lavaur

 City of Lavaur on tourism info in French:

 Region of Occitanie on Lavaur :

Welcome to the old midi pyrénées region of France now Occitanie. Happy travels, good health,and many cheers!!!


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April 2, 2018

A wonderful town bridge Canal of Agen!

On a lovely Sunday off and no work on Monday for Easter, Happy Easter you all!!! I am going to continue on my reminicents of old beautiful places in my belle France. This time let’s travel to the south the old Aquitaine, now Nouvelle Aquitaine and visit in the Lot et Garonne dept 47, wonderful Agen.

Agen  is in the department 47 Lot et Garonne in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. A town of thousands years old on the hills of the  Ermitage that was the original site of the gallois town of Nitiobroges and a history connected always to the Garonne river. The town today is about 140 km from Bordeaux and 115 km from Toulouse.

These are the long roads of my belle France and the Nouvelle Aquitaine show this the best. You have the fable D813 coming from Toulouse and Bordeaux, another is the autoroute A62 just by the city along the Garonne river and the Canal Latéral de la Garonne. Another that I used is the N21 taking you north to Villeneuve-sur-Lot and continue into Bergerac and finally Limoges. On the south this same road takes you to Auch ,Tarbes, and Lourdes. There is also, of course, a train station at Agen  that is served by the TGV ,Intercités trains as well as the TER Nouvelle Aquitaine and Occitanie.


The city went thru a lot of invasions even if little documentation has been saved we know of invasions by the Vandals, Visigoths, Francs, and later the Vikings in the 11C. The historians tell us that in the 12C , it had a certain autonomy with a costume, of liberties and taxes, more so in the 13C with a chapter dated 1248 under the protection of the King or Count, and the Bishop.  The immigration was strong here and the Italian family La Rovère, related to Pope Julius II were very good writers like Mateo Bandello, and one of these novels written probably at Bazens residents of the Bishops of Agen that inspired the Shakespearean play of Romeo and Juliet. Agen, a Catholic city and rival of Nérac, reformist was taken several time and looted by the Protestants troops during this period ; and kept for a time queen Marguerite de Valois aka Queen Margot.

The French revolution and the industrial revolution following took a heavy toll on the city . It suffered again during WWI and WWII. You can see on the Place de la Préfecture a monument to the fallen done in bronce. In WWII ,Agen was occupied from 1942 by the Nazis and took HQ at Toussaint for their general headquarters; even if Agen was a second line town where many wounded were care for especially at the buildings of the middle school or collège Chaumié , and the high school or Lycée Palissy.

Video on history of Agen from the city page in French :

Tourist office of Agen,

Tourist office of Lot et Garonne dept

For the things to see in my opinion , briefly stated are the must see; the Cathedral Saint-Caprais , built in the 12C on the spot of an episcopal basilica built in the 6C, looted by the Normans in 853 later restored. It was initially a Collegiale Church and raise to Cathedral in 1802. The Church of Notre Dame des Jacobins aka Notre Dame d’Agen has the only remaining section of the convent of the Dominicans later called the Jacobins built in the 13C It was built in the form of a rectangular boat with two nerfs and on top an octagonal  clocktower. Some of the major events of the city were held here such in 1279 when the Agen was given to England by Philippe III son of the king of France Louis IX; in 1585 Marguerite de Navarre, dishonor by her brother Henri III of France arrived in Agen  for the seat of the protestant league and installed a fortress in the convent of the Jacobins; in 1789, the Church was the meeting place of the three orders of the senatorial of Agen to ease the transfer into the General Estates. At the French revolution the convent of Jacobins was closed and later demolished and the Church was save as a stables, eventually returning to the Catholic rite in 1807. The Church was later restored and change to be an exposition hall for temporary arts exhibitions of fine arts.

The museum of fine arts or beaux-arts founded in 1876 is house in four wonderful mansions of the Renaissance style open to interior courtyards. It one of the museum with the best collections in the southwest of France offering paintings, sculptures and furniture as well as faiences from the Middle ages to the 20C. The St Stephen Cathedral or Cathédrale Saint Etienne of Agen is a vast basilica started in the 13C and never quite finished , however the interior is very rich decorated. The wonderful covered market of Agen was built in 1882 on the site of the old Cathedral of St Stephen and open to the public in 1884. It was modelled after the Baltard halles of Paris done in stone and metal.

The Tour du Chapelet is near the Saint Caprais Cathedral and is the last remains of the second wall of Agen built in the 13C and the tower added to the convent of Chapelet in the 16C  to serve as belltower. The convent was demolished during the French revolution  and the tower served as a prison from 1815. The tour des Pénitents, aka as the old Church of Saint Hilaire was a Church from the 12C today in ruins. The wonderful walkpath or passarelle of Agen is a suspended bridge built in the 19C to cross the Garonne river on foot linking the town of Passage with Agen.  The bridge or pont d’Agen was ordered built by Napoléon Ier visiting Agen in 1808; worked started in 1812 and finished in 1827. The magnificent and a must see bridge canal or Pont-canal d’Agen allows a lateral canal along the Garonne river ; built between  1839 and 1843. It has 23 arches and a length of 550 meters (about 891 feet) , making it the second longest bridge canal in France.  Finally, the Ducourneau theater is of italian style done in 1906 and the first stone was posed by the President of the French Republic Armand Falliéres who was from the Lot et Garonne; the theatre was the first one built in reinforced concrete.





Pnt Canal de la Garonne at Agen

There ,a brief but good me think presentation of a lovely historical town of France and not many tourist yet oh well read the story and you will be there too.

Have a great Easter weekend no work on Monday April 2nd!!! Happy travels, good health and many cheers!!!

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April 2, 2018

Discover Normandy, yes, Evreux!

I like to continue my routes of my belle France , remembering previous visits with the family. One area we went a lot and love it as many is in Normandy. However, not only the popular event ones, glossy over all tourist brochures and else. Come to see the beauty of the French countryside and its wonderful towns with Cathedrals to match any. Come to the Eure dept 27 and visit Evreux.

Let me tell you how to explore it. First, a nice map you can print from pdf file from the city here:

The tourist office location and webpage here: O.T Evreux, Office de Tourisme d’Evreux 3, place du Général de Gaulle – 27000 Evreux – Tel : 02 32 24 04 43 – Fax : 02 32 31 28 45. Tourist office of Evreux in English:

And to load up on all details for a wonderful visit  which I believe is a must; take a look at the department 27 Eure tourist office as well as on the region of Normandy tourist webpages.  The department of dept !Eure

The tourist office of Normandy on Evreux :

Now you are all set to choose your points of interests and ready for the visit. However, like I said, the tourist points are on my previous blog post, here will give you a bit of the history of this nice town in country Normandy.

Évreux is in the deparment 27 Eure, in the heart of the valley of the Iton , a river too which you can reach on the highway A13 autoroute de Normandie or the N13.  There is a train station on the line Paris Gare Saint Lazare –Evreux etc. There is a bus service with nine lines but usually very local.

In the Roman antique times the city of Evreux was identified as Mediolanum Aulercorum and was the capital of the people of Aulerques Eburovices founded in the end of the 1C BC.  At the end of the 3C after several raids by the barbarians to the city, it was built a wall ramparts at you can see today part of it in the Museum of Evreux. This protection gave rise to a monetary treasury discovered in 1890. After been kept at the Museum of Evreux ,it was taken to the National Library of France , it is 340 kg of Roman moneys coins ,about 110K of them Antoninians of which about 15 500 bears the face of roman emperor Gallien.

By the Middle Ages, Taurin was the first bishop of Evreux, died around 410 , and its honor an abbey of  Saint -Taurin was given by its founder the duke of Normandy Richard II. Évreux became in 989 AD the seat of the county of Evreux and diocese of Evreux, and was invaded and destroyed many times by invading armies, especially from England.  As an anecdote, many familes bearing Devereux are found in England especially around Essex where many counts were of Devereux as well in Ireland , all coming from the name of Evreux.  With the marriage of Philippe d’Evreux with Jeanne de Navarre, daughter of king Louis X le Hutin, the Evreux rule over the kingdom of Navarra. The direct line of the family of Evreux disappeared in 1400 with the death of Charles d’Evreux, cousin of king Charles II while the Navarrese line (Capetian line Evreux-Navarre) lasts until 1441.

By 1793, during the French revolution many citizens tried in vain to resists the convention. During WWII the city suffered many bombings first by the Nazis in 1940 and later the Americans in 1944. The city center was rebuilt shortly thereafter.

Things to see, not to repeat those given in my post and expands on others will just name them briefly here.

The tour de l’Horloge (beffroi) clock tower and the museum of Evreux with the archeological room with discoveries of the region gallo roman period , statue in bronze of Jupitor Stator, many rooms dedicated to the Middle Ages, and tapestries of Aubusson 14C. The first floor (2nd US) is dedicated to the works from the 17C and 18C with a nice collection of old watches .The last floor or 3rd (4th US) you have paintings and sculpture from the 19C  such as by Flandrin, Boudin, Rodin, and Gérôme. There is a bishop’s garden that is nice . You have the wonderful Notre Dame Cathedral , gothic style. As well as the Church of Saint Taurin with the coffin of Saint Taurin work of art from the medieval goldsmiths. The before mentioned ramparts of the 4C of 9 hectares, the old convent of the Capucins later a high school then the national school of music and now a conservatory of music of Evreux.

Others are the municipal Theater 20C Italian style built in 1903., The former convent of the Cordeliers , Franciscan medieval architecture of Normandy, and the former convent of the Ursulines now a national police hq at corner of rue Edouard Ferray/rue Buzot. The city hall or Hôtel de ville,b. end 19C at the location of the former Château of the Counts of Evreux; the current building built between 1889 and 1895. The Botanical gardens next to the convent of the Capucins ; the bridge or  Pont Eiffel, built for the railroad tracks by Gustave Eiffel in 1886. It is now overpass the streets between rue Pierre Sémard and rue de la Résistance. Very nice quaint medieval streets on the list of National Monuments of France are the boulevard  Chambaudoin and the allée des Soupirs as well as the Place Saint Taurin with very nice tree lined streets.

Something nice coming up this month again there is the nice Festival of 4th edition of the Les Rêveries d’Evreux  will take place April 26-28 2018 under tents at Trangis in Evreux. Live music, shows regional ambiance good for the whole family ; more in official site in French  here:

And there, hope it helps you discovered the real pretty quaint Normandy. And Evreux is one door to it that is worth a detour. Enjoy your Easter Monday, wherever you are or just plain traveling in our beautiful world. Cheers!

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