Archive for August 12th, 2018

August 12, 2018

Gare de Lyon , Paris!

And like to continue with the train stations in Paris. Read I like train stations lol! nooo rather take the car, but in France as in most of Europe , public transport is a must many times, usually forced by work. This is the case for the train station Lyon of Paris.

So ,therefore, let me tell you a bit about the Gare de Lyon of Paris.  I have come thru it for business trips to Geneva, Basel, and Zurich, as well as my sons going on ski school trips. It is a very nice station and something inside worth coming to even if not traveling on the train…Let me tell you a bit more on it.


Gare-de-Lyon is also a train station of the RER network of Île-de-France. It is located in the 12éme arrondissement or district of Paris, mainly in the neighborhood or quartier of Quinze Vingts ; however, the southeast of the tracks and quays being located in the neighborhood of  Bercy. It is the third station of Paris by its traffic , and a train station of main lines ensuring the service of a large southeast quarter of France and intermediate regions. Gare de Lyon is the head of the TGV line to the southeast of France. I have taken it for business trips to Geneva,Basel and Zurich. It is also, a Transilien train station making the service of the southeast of the Parisian region with the line R of the Transilien (lines Paris-Montereau via Héricy, Paris-Montereau via Fontainebleau and Moret and finally Paris-Montargis). An underground station, common to the RATP and the SNCF, is located under the Rue de Bercy. It is part of the RER A and D lines and offers a correspondence with lines 1 and 14 of the Metro. The main entrance, on the Place Louis-Armand , is on the Rue de Lyon, which leads towards the Place de la Bastille, and on the boulevard Diderot. This station is distinguished by its belfry, a square tower of 67 meters and with clock dials on its four sides.

In my business trips, couple times had to stay overnight there and use the wonderful next door Mercure hotel.  More info here: Mercure hotel Gare de Lyon

A bit of history I like

The Lyon Pier has been operating since 1847. It is officially open to the public on August 12, 1849 under the name of “Paris Railway Pier” in Montereau . The PLM company was unflattered to arrive in front of the new   Prison Mazas. It hoped to be able to go to the Place de la Bastille. The route was used for the creation of the Rue de Lyon. With the increase in rail traffic and the ramp-up of PLM, this pier has been expanded on many occasions.

In 1855 as terminus of the lines of the railway company of Paris to Lyon . This train station is built on a 6 to 8 meters land lift to protect it from the floods of the Seine. It comprises only five lanes covered by a large hall of 220 meters and wide of 42 meters. A portico, spanning the entrance of the courtyard of the arrival, on the right, connected the station proper to a central administration building on the side, building X overlooking the Boulevard Mazas. This station was partially destroyed by a fire in the commune of Paris in 1871 and rebuilt in identical fashion.

In 1900, travellers visiting the Universal Expo in Paris arrived at a new 13-lane Gare de Lyon, inaugurated on 6 April 1901, by Émile Loubet, President of the French Republic. It now has a façade on the place Diderot (present place Louis-Armand) and a high clock tower of 67 meters, covered with a zinc dome. Each side of the bole, of square section, is 8.5 meters wide; The cube of the clock measures 10 meters on the side. We climb to the top by a staircase of 400 steps. The monumental clock is from Paul Garnier with four dials of 6.4 meters in diameter and a surface of 140 m2 of stained glass. The Roman brass numerals are hand-painted and measure one meter high. The needles are aluminum; The big ones weighs 38 kg and measures 4 meters while the small weighs 26 kg and measures about 3 meters. The dials were illuminated from the inside by 250 oil spouts, until 1929. They were replaced by electric lighting, modernised in 2005 by the company Bode .It was stop due to the storm of 26 December 1999, and restarted on 15 February 2005 (with its original mechanism, modernized by a system of Motorization and synchronisation on the hourly signal transmitted by the transmitter of Allouis of France Inter on large waves. This clock tower was thus restored twice: in 1948, then in 2005. The passengers of 1900 also discover the first line of the Parisian subway, which serves the station.

The 13 tracks of the station put into service in 1900 corresponded to the current “letter” lanes. The “figure” lanes, located at the end of the ticket room, are added later, and were originally used only for trains departing from Gare de Lyon. The building evolves little until the 1960’s, the decade in which is built the line RER A network of Île-de-France. The facade on the Rue de Bercy and the Halle Bercy are destroyed; A suburban railway station (now RER D station) and, below, the RER A train station (inaugurated in December 1977) are dug.The creation of a new canopy of more than 4 400 m2 is also planned, in order to house shops and services.

A bit on the description and architecture

In the SNCF Gare de Lyon station, at the top of the columns, are the coats of arms of the cities served. In the wicket room, the large fresco spans a hundred meters parallel to the letter lanes, showing, on a continuous basis, the main destinations accessible by train from the station, to the Côte d’Azur and the city of Menton.

On the first floor, by the grand Staircase, is the mythical restaurant style Second Empire, the Train Blue , as well as its bar le big Ben. The blue Train is a gastronomic restaurant of neo-Baroque style and Belle epoque of the 1900’s. This is a must to try, lovely. More info here!


Some on the transports choices from it and within it

From Gare de Lyon Station originates many TGV running the high-speed south-east line and its extensions (LGV Rhône-Alpes, LGV Méditerranée and LGV Rhine-Rhône), it is, by the number of travelers, one of the first SNCF stations, and the first for large traffic Lines. The TGV to the southeast of France and the intermediate regions, as well as five neighbouring countries (Monaco, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and, Germany). The Gare de Lyon is served by two lines of the RER network (A and D), in a underground station sit under the Rue de Bercy, against the main station.

The Gare de Lyon train station is in line with the metro station Gare de Lyon   of lines 1 and 14. The station of Line 1 is located under Boulevard Diderot in the northeast, opposite the line 14 and the underground station (RATP and SNCF) located under the Rue de Bercy in the southwest. In addition, the metro station Quai de la Rapée, located in place Mazas, on the banks of the Seine, at 600 meters, is accessible by exiting the station and taking the street. It is also possible to walk to Austerlitz station (ten minutes walk), on the southwest of Gare de Lyon, the rue Van-Gogh, then the Charles de Gaulle Bridge. The station is served by Bus lines 20, 24, 29, 57, 61, 63, 65, 87 and 91 of the RATP network, plus the OpenTour tourist line, as well as line 4 of the Direct bus to Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport. Finally, at night, it is served by the lines N01, N02, 11, 16, N31, N32, N33, N34, N35, N130, N131, N132 and N134 of the Noctilien bus network.

And anecdotes inside of it.  The Gare de Lyon station served as a setting for many films, including: A final scene of the Crossing of Paris (1956) between Gabin and Bourvil; Two scenes from the film The Man of Rio (1964) by Philippe de Broca; and a scene from the film La Grande Vaudrouille (1966) by Gérard Oury, actually play at the Gare de l’Est;

Parking Urbis Paris Lyon at 193 rue de Bercy , you can come in by two in and outs entries such as at 56 Quai de la Rapée and 193 Rue de Bercy. More here: Urbis Gare de Lyon parking

Some webpages to help you plan your trip and passage by here are

Tourist office of Paris on Gare de Lyon

SNCF on Gare de Lyon

Raileurope on Gare de Lyon

Practical info in French on the Gare de Lyon :

Now you are all set to know and come in and out of the Gare de Lyon. Another nice architectural building in Paris

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

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August 12, 2018

Castle of the Dukes of Brittany, Nantes!

And I come to the ultimate history of Nantes. A unique place that is a must if only one this is it while in Nantes. I have long stories on it but just will tell you one. I will be telling you about the Château des Ducs de Bretagne or the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany.


Wait a minute! have I been telling you Nantes is not in Brittany but in Pays de la Loire region? yes officially indeed. This is an issue locally and many Bretons still considered it part of their region not just the castle but most of the Loire Atlantique dept 44 if not all. Historically, it was until the French revolution, what else!  My first encounter with this region or is it other region was on a touristic visit from my home in Versailles to the city of Nantes and obviously we saw the castle first. This was back in 2003/4 thereabouts. I was a bit shock to realized that it was call the castle of the Dukes of Brittany a duchy but was not in Brittany!! Give it to French geography and the National intention to hide the many differences in their regions and people. One reason the  French pages now says Castle of Nantes ::)

I will go on with the tourist part as always.  I have written before in my blog of course, always mix in with visits to Nantes. However, again, these places deserves a minimum of one blog post on their own, so here I go.

The castle of the Dukes of Brittany is an architectural ensemble located in Nantes, consisting of a 15C rampart and various buildings built from the 14C to the 18C after being ducal residence under Duke Francis II and Duchess Anne, the castle became a Royal fortress, seat of the governor of Nantes and Royal prison, then barracks from the 18C. Now owned by the city of Nantes in 1915, the château has been used for tourist and museum use since 1924, from 1990 to 2007, the castle has benefited from a large renovation and is from the seat of a new museum dedicated to the history of Nantes. As a result of the transformation of the urban community into Metropolis, the castle becomes a metropolitan property in 2015.

Nantes Nantes NAntes NAntes Nantes NAntes

Location and transport to the castle in town: The Castle is bordered to the north and west by rue Prémion, Place Marc-Elder and the Rue des Etats; to the east by the place Duchess Anne; to the south by the cours John Kennedy, which until the 1930’s was an arm of the Loire loire, known as the arm of the hospital. The castle was indeed at the edge of the Loire river, which feed its moat; close to castle, on the town side, was the port Maillard (the present Allée du Port-Maillard) and the suburb side, the Quai de Richebourg (the current allée Commandant Charcot). The castle, located on the first line of bus in 1826, on the first tramway line in 1879, and is currently served by line 1 of the tramway and line 4 of the Busway of Nantes at the station Duchess Anne-Château des Ducs de Bretagne.

A bit of history I like:

From 1207, Guy de Thouars, a widower of Constance, Duchess of Brittany and in this title regent of the duchy, built the first castle called “de la Tour Neuve” at the foot of the Gallo-Roman ramparts of the city then circumscribed to the present district of Bouffay, replacing the Château du Bouffay. During the second half of the 14C, the Chastel de la Tour Neuve  was enlarged by Jean IV of Brittany, who built several granite polygonal towers. The tower known as the  Vieux Donjon (Old Dungeon) is the only vestige of this epoch that remains in the 21C. In 1466, François II of Brittany decided to rebuild the castle. The new castle will be both the main residence of the ducal court and a military fortress capable of withstanding the royal power. Courtyard side by a residential palace of white tufa with refined facades,  the great government, the Golden Crown Tower, the Grand Logis ((le Grand Gouvernement, la tour de la Couronne d’Or, le Grand Logis)  and, on the city side, by seven massive towers of shale and granite connected by curtains and 500 meters of rounded road. On the death of François II in 1488, his daughter, Anne of Brittany, was the  queen of France from 1491 to 1514, by her two successive marriages, with Charles VIII and Louis XII, and  resumed the work. It also reinforces the fortress, on the Loire side, by building the Horseshoe Tower (tour du Fer à Cheval), an impressive artillery bastion. In 1514, the castle returned to her daughter Claude, who was married to king François I. To house the royal family, he enriched himself with a new Renaissance-style building: le Logis du Roy, now known as the small government (petit gouvernement).  In 1532, the castle became Royal property on the occasion of the Union of Brittany to France.


Under the Dukes Claude de France, François III and Henri, François I of France was a beneficiary of the duchy. Under its impulse and during the 16C and 17C, the castle is chosen as Breton residence of the kings of France.

Thus, from 1582, in a context of wars of religion, the Duke of Mercœur, governor of Brittany, reinforces the defences of the castle. Anxious to protect the city from the Protestant attacks from Poitou, he built an artillery terrace and two defence works in the form of a spur, called bastions. The latter are equipped with terraces to receive the cannons. In the 21C, these transformations were no longer visible until the North Bastion and the curtain of the Levant( la Courtine du Levant) Mercœur had its emblems affixed.

On April 30, 1598, king Henri IV stayed at the castle when he came to the city for the signature of the Edict of Nantes. The signature of the famous edict will not, however, be done at the castle, but according to a popular tradition, in the House of Turrets (Maison des Tourelles) , a building which was located at the quai de la Fosse and was destroyed during WWII, during a bombardment on the city

Cardinal Richelieu proceed with the militarization of the terraces of the entrance towers. Since that time the stained glass and the walls of the chapel bear the Cardinal’s arms. The building begins its function as a prison for prestigious detainees. In 1654, the Cardinal Retz, leader of the Fronde, escapes from the castle where he was detained.

On September 5, 1661, when the court was gathered in the castle de Ducs de Bretagne king Louis XIV for the States of Brittany. The Superintendent Nicolas Fouquet was arrested by D’Artagnan, who led a detachment of Grey musketeers. Nicolas Fouquet is led to the castle of Angers where he will be locked up for some time.

In 1911, while it is a property of the state, an agreement between the Ministry of War and the municipality allows to exchange the castle against the ensemble Convent of the Visitation- for the barracks Bedeau belonging to the city, and which already houses a regiment of artilleries. In 1924, there was a municipal museum dedicated to decorative arts, completed after the war, new rooms containing the collections of the Museum of regional Folk Art, then the Museum of Salorges were house there.

The principal architecture points , brief.

The main entrance, located at Place Marc-Elder, the vulnerable point of the fortress, has a harrow and two doors protected by rocking drawbridges (a large one for the passage of carts and riders, a smaller one for the passage of men on foot), Which were recently restored during the restoration of the castle. The two other historic fortified entrances, less well known, are the poterne de la Loire, on the south facade of the castle, built by Anne of Brittany between 1491 and 1494, and the pont de Secours on the north façade. These two entrances were also returned to service during the restoration work.

The towers of the du Pied-de-Biche and the la Boulangerie . These twin Towers date from 1466, the Tower of the Jacobins: so named because it faced the convent of the same name, it is sometimes called the English tower, because it was used to imprison English soldiers during the 18C. The tower of the old dungeon( tour du Vieux Donjon). : the only visible vestige of the castle called the new tower (la Tour Neuve), and the tour du Port, la tour de la Rivière ,and tour du Fer à Cheval.

Nantes Nantes

The Campanile: Located on the moat side, this campanile bristling, with an arrow and a lantern, overlooks the entrance to the courtine de la Loire : built between 1491 and 1494 by Anne of Brittany, this part of the ramparts protected the castle from the river side. It is pierced by an entrance originally closed by a harrow, which was used to discreetly exit the castle and allow some visitors to arrive by water. Crenellated, it is adorned with gargoyles and machicolations adorned with the F of François I.

On the interior courtyard of the Castle you can see ,the Grand logis, Tour de la Couronne d’Or connects the Grand Logis to the Grand Gouvernement: This building body, formerly called the Ducal Palace, was rebuilt by order of king Louis XIV following a fire. It is now called the Grand Gouvernement , in remembrance of the governor of Brittany Charles de la Porte, duke of Meilleraye, who decides to settle there in the 17C. The destroyed part were in May 25 1800 due to a violent explosion, triggered by the collapse of a rotten floor on which were stored three tons of powder, and destroyed the tower of the Spaniards (tour des Espagnols) , the building of the king’s Lieutenant (Lieutenant du Roi) as well as the Chapel and the archive Room(salle des archives,), which were in the extension of the Grand Gouvernement.   The Petit Gouvernement was done in Renaissance style, it keeps its chimneys of brick and slate original. Built on the orders of François I, it serves as the Logis du Roi (his bedrooms) during its stays in Nantes. You have the Concierge here it was built in the early 18C to house the lieutenant of the King ( Lieutenant du Roi) and then the offices of the arsenal. It became the concierge of the château in 1924 during the transformation of the site into a museum. The harnessing(Harnachement) ;this building houses temporary exhibitions.


The current museum brings together the collections of several previous museums such as the Museum of the Arts and Popular Traditions ,Museum of the Salorges ,Museum of the Loire-Lower archaeological Museum of Nantes, Museum of the Image , and the Museums of the castle of Joseph Stany-Gauthier to Daniel Samson.

Currently,the Museum of History of Nantes ( Musée d’histoire de Nantes) occupies 32 rooms of the renovated castle with a portrait of the city in seven large sequences is presented to the public such as the Castle, Nantes and Brittany from antiquity until the 17C; Nantes, daughter of the river and the ocean; Trading and Black gold in the 18C; Nantes in Revolution; A Colonial and industrial port (1815-1940); The new form of a city (1940-1990); An Atlantic metropolis, today and tomorrow.

The creation of a complete circuit of the ramparts, the setting up of a first access by the moat and a second by a footbridge, the arrangement of a garden in the moat, the night lighting participate in the rebirth of the Castle. The 500 meters of round road on the fortified ramparts offer viewpoints on the castle, the courtyard, the moats, but also on the city: the LU Tower, the location of the Arms of the Loire river which bathed the castle before the attics of the 1930’s , St. Peter and St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Bouffay district. Night lighting values the site in its architectural complexity within the urban fabric. At the main entrance by the sleeping Bridge, a warm, orange light gushes from the inside at the level of the curtains. In the garden of the moat, the illumination of the counter-escarpment gives a darker light. On the southern façade, a moving light glides over the imposing wall..An event to be there at night. See first for hours.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here ,and you must , are

Official site Chateau de Nantes

Tourist office of Nantes on castle museum

Tourist office of Loire Atlantique on the castle museum

Region of Pays de la Loire on the castle/museum

There you go, you are all set for a wonderful stay in Nantes and the Castle Museum of Nantes (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany). Enjoy it

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

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August 12, 2018

Basilica of Saint Nicolas at Nantes!

On the continuation of sunny hot days let me take you closer to me in the Loire Atlantique dept 44 of the region of Pays de la Loire from which many still think it is in Bretagne/Brittany. I take you to a dear city many times visited, the wonderful Nantes.

In while we are in this great city of the West of France, let me tell you a bit more on one of its monuments. The Basilica of Saint Nicolas or Basilique de Saint Nicholas, a great building and one of the sights to see while in Nantes.


Of course, I have written on Nantes several posts but not on the Basilica alone and it deserves a separate post so here I go. You can do search in my blog and find all the other posts on Nantes and al.

The Basilica of St. Nicholas dates from the 19C. The construction started in 1844 and lasted 25 years. It took no less than 15 years to erect the bell tower. The builders were faced with difficulties due to the narrowness of the terrain. They had to make an exception to the tradition, which meant that all the Catholic buildings should be oriented eastward, towards the Rising Sun, which represented the risen Christ. The Basilica of St. Nicholas has the peculiarity to be on a north-south axis. The Church is made of granite and stones. Its architecture is neo-Gothic style. The basilica is accessible by a door located on the right side, when you are behind, rue de Feltre. It is one of the two basilicas of the city, with the Basilica of Saint-Donatien-et-Saint-Rogatien

The Catholic webpage for it is here:




A bit of history I like

A Chapel or small Church branch is erected between the second half of the 11C and the end of the 12C. The hypothesis of a construction before 1186, based on the existence of a “cemetery Saint-Nicolas”, mentioned that year. At that time, the area was part of the Saint-Similien parish. In 1226, Pierre I of Brittany launched the construction of an enclosure that encompasses the Saint-Nicolas district.

At the beginning of the 18C, with the fortifications deteriorating, the Duke Francis I renovated the walls and rebuilt the Porte Saint-Nicolas (at the junction between the current  rue de l’Arche Séche and the rue  du Commander-Boulay). At the same time, the Church of St. Nicholas is the subject of renovations. Its name is mentioned for the first time on a document of 1444. The before mentioned renovation  lasts between 1766-1772 is thus the final touch to the old building which has three naves separated by a large pillar. The bedside is flat. Its apse was located at the site of the present Rue Affre, and it could be accessed from the south from the place Félix-Fournier. The main entrance is to the south, via a porch, located at the level of the current place Félix-Fournier. The church always presents its monumental stained glass and its ornate altar.  The construction of the present church ranges from 1844 (laying of the first stone) to 1869 (blessing of the building) on a confined ground which obliges it to be oriented on a north-south axis, and not east-west as the Christian tradition would like. The Church is built in granite of the region, as well as in hard stones and tufa of Touraine. It is erected in minor Basilica on October 26, 1882 by Pope Leo XIII.

The Basilica Church is severely damaged during the allied bombardment of September 16, 1943 which affects the whole district , including part of the Place Royale, nearby, and the rue de Calvaire that runs along the north.  The war ended, the reconstruction site began in 1953 and lasted until 1974.

A brief description on the architecture by an amateur enthusiast , me.

The Basilica consists of four buildings: the porch tower, the nave of the faithful, the transept and the bedside composed of five radiant chapels. The bedside is therefore polygonal. The nave is of eight spans including those of the transept, the choir is composed of six bays, three of which are for the chapels of the apse. The roofs of the basilica are in Saddleback except the bell tower which is equipped with an arrow roof.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this wonderful monument are

A modern look at Nantes tourism in English:

Some info on the region Pays de la Loire in English:

Nantes is very easy to come from Paris as it is linked by airport and train station TGV and there is a wonderful airport express bus connecting the airport with the train station and the rest can be done on foot or a tramway! Enjoy the vist to the city of the  Dukes of Brittany oops!

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



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