Archive for July 10th, 2018

July 10, 2018

Closer to home ,Lorient!

Yes indeed ,let’s come home shall we! This is just around my alley in the beautiful Morbihan 56 of Brittany. For those new to my blog, Morbihan is the only French department adminstrative division that is not in French ,but rather in native Breton language. Mor=sea bihan=small or small sea or petite mer in French. Lorient is from the Orient for a history. Lorient in the Morbihan 56 of Brittany/Bretagne/Breizh . Still an active port city and maritime arsenal at the bottom of the Bay of Lorient.  It is located at the mouth of the Blavet and Scorff rivers , which flows into the Bay of Lorient, then into the Atlantic Ocean. The town is located 503 km from Paris, 153 km from Rennes and 158 km from Nantes. The capital of the Morbihan, Vannes is only 57 km.

This year will be the stage 5 of the Tour de France bicycle race starting point to Quimper finish point. All about the race already mentioned in a previous post, this is all you need for the stage around Lorient. Tour de France at Lorient

Brief history of the tour de France passing by Lorient with year , stage, and route:

1956 6 Saint-Malo Lorient 7 Lorient Angers ; 1960 6 Saint-Malo  Lorient 7 Lorient  Angers ;  1968 6 Dinard  Lorient ; 7 Lorient Nantes ; 1977 8 Angers Lorient ; 9 Lorient Rennes ;  1982 9  Lorient Plumelec ;  1985 2 Lorient  Vitré ; 1998 3 Roscoff  Lorient ; 2002 9 Lanester  Lorient ; 2006 8 St-Méen-le-Grand Lorient ; 2011 4 Lorient Mûr-de-Bretagne ;  and 2018 5 Lorient  Quimper.

How to get here is important as the car is still king for most parts except cities like Lorient. You can come on the N165 national road. Also, there are  departmental TIM bus lines such as line: 15 (Lorient-Plouay-Le Faouët-Gourin), Line 16 (Lorient-Étel) and Line 17 (Lorient-Baud-Pontivy) ,the later one my boys have tried it. There is a train station SNCF  with direct connection to Montparnasse in TGV . There is a local airport with summer and some flights to nearby places ,the airport  Lorient South Brittany  offers several daily domestic flights to Paris-Orly as well as seasonal flights (March to end of October) to London or annual to Porto (Portugal). You have sea cruise companies such as  Oceane offering crossings throughout the year to the island of Groix.  The main area transport network is CTRL  responsible for the Transrade, with Batobus to connect Lorient, Port-Louis, Gâvres and Locmiquélic. Finally, the boat-taxi ensures the Lorient-island of Groix and visits to the harbor.

Lorient was created in 1666 in a field called “the enclosure” and develops outside of it. The whole is closed by walls erected in 1744 the ramparts and the gates of Morbihan and Ploemeur were destroyed in 1906. The Royal Navy was here in 1690. At the same time in 1709, the parish of Lorient is created from that of Ploemeur.  John Law of Lauriston created the Perpetual India Company by acquiring several other commercial companies, and chose Lorient as the basis for its operations. In 1732, the company decided to transfer from Nantes to Lorient the seat of all its sales, and  build a new buildings in stones to accommodate its activities, and to beautify the space . Sales are made there from 1734, and are processed up to 25 million pounds. The monopoly of the company is however abolished at the same time as this in 1769 under the influence of the Physiocrats.

The American War of Independence led to an increase in activity from 1775, and several Corsairs used the city as their home port. At the end of the war, several transatlantic lines were opened to the United States, and from 1785, a new commercial company was created, the company of Callone, and settled in Lorient.

The French revolution and the ensuing wars against England put an end to the commercial activities in Lorient for nearly two decades. Thanks to its support for the  French revolution, the city acquired the title of  mayor of the Canton in 1790, the chief-place of borough and the Chief-place of Maritime borough in 1800.

The arrival of the steam engine in the second half of the 19C enabled the ports to revive their activities. A first ,locomotive crossed the Scorff in 1865 on a viaduct built for the Savenay line at Landerneau, the first railway line serving south Brittany. A second  opened in 1861. In the same year, the armored frigate the Crown came out of the Arsenal followed in 1876 and 1879 of the battleships the Devastation and the Redoutable.

The fishery business began to develop at that time following the creation of the municipal auction in 1889, and the arrival of the first steam trawler in 1900. From 1909, the Lorient traffic equals that of the three ports of Douarnenez, Pont Aven, and Concarneau combined. The fishing port developped after WWI (1914-1918) , the appearance of the engine on fishing boats makes Lorient as competitive as Groix and Étel. The fishing port of Kéroman is created from 1920.

During WWII,  It is decided to erect the largest of the Nazis submarine bases of the war, where the second and tenth fleets will be set up. Admiral Dönitz is setting up his staff at Kernevel Castle.  Lorient will be almost entirely demolished between 1943-1944 by Allied bombardments that fail with the objective of destroying the base of the submarines, despite the spill of 4 000 tons of bombs. The nazi  garrison will not surrended  the weapons until May 10, 1945, with the Bay of Lorient  . The city of Lorient, received condecoration from France as Died for France, the Legion of Honor in 1949 and the Croix de Guerre 1939-1945(War Cross).

Some of the things to see here are

Fishing port of Keroman; second fishing port of France in tonnage behind Boulogne-sur-Mer and first in value added. Port of Commerce of Kergroise (first port of the region Brittany) . Marina with numerous pontoon places spread over the ports of Lorient (370), Kernevel (1 000), Port-Louis (450), Gâvres (57) and Guidel (102). At these five sites are added the 880 meters of pontoons of the offshore racing pole recently arranged on the site of the former base of submarines of Kéroman, and reserved for racing boats, rental and passenger boats.  Passenger Port towards the islands of Groix and Belle-Ile-en-Mer.  Military Port between the Arsenal and Lann Bihoué.

Other places are the Saint-Christophe Chapel . The  Hotel Gabriel (former Maritime prefecture of Lorient) from the 18C. The base of the submarines of Keroman, built between 1941 and 1944 by the organization Todt, the Tower of the Discovery, watchtower to signal the approach of the ships and to monitor possible smuggling manoeuvres on the coasts of the island of Groix. Built for the first time in 1737, the discovery Tower was destroyed on two occasions by lightning in 1751 and 1784. In 1786, it was rebuilt on the hill of Faouëdic.  Les Moulins du Faouëdic, the Company of India built two windmills on the hill of Faouëdic; the first in 1677, the second in 1719. Constructed of rubble and slate-covered, they each measure 25 meters high and have an interior staircase serving the various levels.  Cité du Voile or the city of sailing Éric Tabarly which opened its doors in May 2008 (great place) ,The underwater Museum of the Pays de Lorient, presenting the underwater heritage of  WWII within the oldest rescue center for submariners built in 1942 by the Kriegsmarine, then reused for 42 years by the National Navy. The submarine “La Flore” S645, the former submarine of the French Army ,with an interactive museum ending with a visit of the submarine.  The Church of Notre-Dame-de-Victoire, known as St. Louis Church, in reference to the pre-war church, built in 1954-56 (place Alsace Lorraine) ,and  Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Nouvelle Church (Kerentrech-Place de l’Yser).


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here in lovely Morbihan are

City of Lorient webpage :

Tourist office of Lorient:

Dept 56 Morbihan tourism on Lorient:

There you go a nice city with plenty of boats in city center/Downtown, and great ambiance good for a family day out.

And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

July 10, 2018

The magnificent Arc de Triomphe

Now let me bring you to the history of a wonderful symbol of France and especially Paris. I go by here often, walking underneath and especially with my car love it! I come from ave Foch into the circle and it is always a thrill;not for the small town drivers ok lol!

I like to tell you a bit more about the Arc de Triomphe, and start with a bit of a post I did in my blog couple years back. Arc de Triomphe and al

Of course, the area is in the 8éme arrondissement or district of Paris in the quartier or neighborhood Champs-Elysées.


The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile is the official name but popularly known as simply the Arc de Triomphe. The construction of it was decided by emperor Napoléon Ier, and started early in 1806  finishing it in 1836 under  Louis-Philippe,king of the French. It is raise in the center of the Place Charles-de-Gaulle square (formerly the Place de l’Étoile), at  2,2 km from the Place de la Concorde. Its height is at 49,54 meters, wide of  44,82 meters, and deep of  22,21 meters, under the arch the height is at 29,19 meter and its width at 14,62 meters.  The small arch has 18,68 meters high by 8,44 meters wide.  The monument weights in at 50 000 tons and 100 000 tons, if taking into account the foundations that are reinforced 8,37 meters deep.

The former Place de l’Étoile created a huge traffic circle of 12 avenues in the 19C under the direction of the city planning of Baron Haussmann, these avenues came in as a star around the square especially Avenue Kléber, Avenue de la Grande-Armée, Avenue de Wagram , and the best known Avenue des Champs-Élysées (on this one later). The station metro line 1 Charles de Gaulle – Étoile as well as RER A is there.

Paris PAris Paris Paris

Emperor Napoléon Ier, after the battle of Austerlitz made a declaration to his soldiers that will only return to Paris under an triumphant arch ,and with an imperial decree ordered the building of the Arc de Triomphe to perpetuate the souvenirs of the French army victories.  The first stone was placed with an inscription on August 15 1806 and covered with a bronze plaque.

King Louis XVIII restarted construction in 1824 after a period of neglect on previous regimes. By 1830, Louis-Philippe king of the French (not King of France) took over the construction with now a spirit of reconciliation  putting together the armies that fought between 1792 and1815.  It was then Louis-Philippe and Adolphe Thiers (president of the III republic) that decided the themes choices and the sculptors such as the Le départ des Volontaires, or commonly called the  La Marseillaise, of François Rude , and the Le Triomphe de Napoléon by  Jean-Pierre Cortot.  More spectacular is the frise on top of the summit divided into two parts ; on one,  Le départ des Armées (departure of the armies) and the  Le Retour des Armées (return of the armies) with a large central scene on the glory of the nation. The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile opened on July 29 1836 on the 6th anniversary of the event known as the  Trois Glorieuses. The revolution of July after that of 1789 bringing on a new king Louis-Philippe Ier,king of the French or the monarchy of July succeeding that of the Second Restauration. This revolution took place in three days so therefore known as the Trois Glorieuses or Three Glorious days.

At the bottom level you find the tomb of the unknown soldier of WWI  with an eternal flame that houses the flag of the fatherland like at Rome the first since the one in Vestales in 391AD.  It commemorates the memory of the soliders dead in combat for never  off; it is replenish each evening at 18h30  by the Association of Veterans or victims of war. There is a renewal of an exposition from the 1930’s in a museographic style museum in a multimedia showing entitled Between wars and peace, with a history lesson of the monument and its evolution to present day.

A bit on the configuration of it.  It has four high walls put in sockets filled with stones and 18 meters high on each side,these are: Le Départ des volontaires  of 1792 ( La Marseillaise). Representing the union of all French to defend the Nation and leaving in combat with a diversity of soldiers such as revolutionaries, Bonapartists, and Royals , young and older. Below ,there is Victory guiding them in its wings. The architecture is mix such as Antique, and Romanesque. The victory or Le Triomphe de 1810; the Resistance or La Résistance of 1814, by Antoine Étex, and the Peace or La Paix of 1815, by Antoine Étex as well.

There are six lower level sockets with more significances such as retracing the scenes of the Revolution and Empire. They are below the arch and on the sides. These are: Les funérailles du général Marceau  September 20 1796, by H. Lamaire (facing right south view), La bataille d’Aboukir July 25 juillet 1799, by Seurre aîné (facing left south view),La bataille de Jemappes November 6  1792, by Carlo Marochetti (facing east), Le passage du pont d’Arcole November 15 1796,by Jean-Jacques Feuchère (facing right north view), La prise d’Alexandrie July 3  1798, by John-Étienne Chaponnière (facing left north view), La bataille d’Austerlitz  December 2 1805, by Jean-François-Théodore Gechter (facing west view), and the Mariage de Napoléon and Marie-Louise (1810).

Some of the events happening here that I like are

The occasion of the marriage of archduchess  Marie-Louise and the entering to Paris by Emperor Napoléon Ier with a model to give it a more artistic smaller size  by which the emperatrice will past under it. During the transfer of ashes of Napoléon, December 15 1840 with the funeral procession under the Arc de Triomphe. The body of Victor Hugo in funeral watch over the night of May 22 1885, before burrial at the Panthéon. In August 7 1919 an airplane of Charles Godefroy, passed in between the arches with a Nieuport 17 biplane.

There are curiosities such as two time per year the Sun is hidden in the axe of the Champs-Elysées, a person on the avenue des Champs Elysées the solar ring is also visible for a few minutes  under the Arc de Triomphe.  And on the opposite way from the Porte Maillot, the Sun is rising two times per year as well . The timings changes with the year but you can catch up in the tourist office for the dates;next usually around November.

So, therefore, this is a unique visit, you can walk underneath the Arc and visit the museographic, and also go to the top level for wonderful views of Paris especially that towards the Place de la Concorde and beyond.

A special treat visiting Paris, for me the thrill of getting around that circle yeah!! in a car!!!

Some web pages to help you plan your visit to the Arc de Triomphe are here:

Web page official Arc de Triomphe :

Tourist office of Paris on the Arc :

Good unofficial site on the Arc de Triomphe in English:

Official site of the Eternal Flame under the Arc de Triomphe in French:

Another merry go around tour of a vastly popular monument of the most beautiful city in the world, Paris. No more words are needed just come over.

And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

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