Archive for November 10th, 2018

November 10, 2018

World War I or the Great War

This is a special post on a special commemoration that has started today and will climax tomorrow. I thank from the bottom of my heart all those men , women and their respective countries who had fought in this so called World War I or as we know better in France, the Great War.

Je remercie tous ces hommes et ces femmes et leurs pays respectifs pour leurs efforts et leur sacrifice dans cette grande guerre au nom de ma famille, et le peuple français

In this terrible war ,1.4 million French military personnel lost their lives in the Great War. Their condecoration are understood to be under the words , “Deaths for France” identified by the French Ministry of the Armed Forces. Created in 1915, this reference is attributed to soldiers killed in combat or died as a result of their injuries. Soldiers who are reformed, shot, died of illnesses or victims of accidents are excluded.

The facts:
On September 25, 1915, with a double offensive in Artois and Champagne, was the deadliest day of the war for the French Army, with more than 25 000 deaths. More than a quarter of the soldiers killed are before their 23 years.

The Battle of Verdun, which began on February 21, 1916, stood out: The number of deaths in one day did not equal the previous clashes, but it was one of the first German offensives since 1914, and it lasted much longer. It strikes the spirits deeply. It was “The Battle of France for France, against the German aggression, the place where France shows all its soul and its ardour”

The comparison with the Battle of the Somme, which begins on July 1, 1916, is thus revealing. The French losses were important, but the offensive, led by the British, was much less imbued with collective memory.

The deadly clash of the  Chemin des Dames or Ladies ‘ Way, which was to be the last major offensive of the war, marks the year 1917 until the end of October. The War of Motion resumed in 1918, with several German offensives in Picardy, and Champagne. The Germans wanted to win the victory fast before the Americans, who had just entered the war, were lining up too many troops on the front. The general counter-offensive of the Allies led them to the Armistice.

The death of these young men has profoundly marked the French society, reversing the order of generations and disturbing the birth rate. More than a million births were never caught up, so that in 1939 France became the oldest country in the world, notes François Heran of the National Institute for Population Studies (INED) in an April 2014 publication.

The events:

From Saturday morning  (November 10th) at 11h (11am), the French president E Macron will received his American counterpart Donald Trump for a bilateral exchange.  The exchange was expected to be tense. The two men had to exchange on European strategic capabilities. President Macron has just suggested that Europe should build its own army to protect itself from the United States, China and Russia. President Trump responded in his usual way “Very insulting but perhaps Europe should first pay its share to NATO that the US subsidizes widely!”, had tweeted the US president Friday night at the time of landing in Paris.  Bit of errors on M . Macron already critized in France for comparing Gen Petain efforts in WWI with his treason in WWII. On Saturday afternoon, Emmanuel Macron travelled to Compiègne, Oise, before being joined by Angela Merkel, for a commemorative ceremony at the Clearance of Rethondes.

But it is Sunday that the commemorations of  November 11 centennial will know their true culmination. In total, some 85 heads of State and government-including Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin-will be meeting at the end of the morning at the Arc de Triomphe to attend a one-hour ceremony.  Emmanuel Macron will give a speech of about ten minutes, in which he wants to resound France 2018 with that of 1918 and insist on the importance of multilateralism for peace. Hopefully with a better speech ….

It is also the theme of “peace” which will be in the spotlight in the afternoon, since 75 foreign leaders will be gathered at the Grande Halle de la Villette (19éme) for a “Forum on Peace” organized at the initiative of France but with UN participation. President Trump is not scheduled to be at this meeting.

As one other person so vividly say it and I copy:  Remember this day. November 11 is far more important than 9/11 or 12/7. It’s much more important than Memorial Day or Labor Day. This Remembrance Day is to keep in mind that ungodly slaughter of 1914-1918 and the war spawned by its hateful end, 1939-1945. We owe it to each other, our children, and their children’s children to never let anything like that happen again. Amen

meaux

musee de la grande guerre museum of WWI trench Meaux, Seine et Marne 77

ps Special thanks for my American friends and family Belleau Wood, fields of courage , the first taste of war for the doughboys!

Enjoy your Sunday, we have a lot to be thankful for nowdays.

November 10, 2018

The high places of pilgrimage in France!

And why not this piece after all , it is said by one well known personality of France’s heritage Stéphane Bern that the 92 million visitors (on a running year to October) coming to France are here to see the accomplishements of the previous Monarchies and one particular part of this tradition is the Christian faith. I am a subscriber to M. BERN magazine and participate on his efforts to safeguard these monuments. I have, also, met him in person in Paris. You can read more on the magazine he heads Secrets d’Histoire (subscription gift of my dear late wife Martine) at Official Secrets d’Histoire webpage

Without going into thesis and validation, and concentrating only on the main sites of visitors/pilgrims here, let me give you a run down. Worth visiting all of them of course. And remember the poilus of WWI, tomorrow is their big day to give Thanks. Fitting to post this now.

Lourdes, Hautes-Pyrénées : When between 11 Feb and 18 jul 1858 Bernadette Soubirous see 18 apparitions in the grotto of Massabielle along the pau river and 160 years later this site has become the first Catholic pilgrimage in France with each year receiving between 3-4 million visitors. See the Basilica Notre Dame du Rosaire and above the esplanade the Basilica of the Immaculate ConceptionLourdes

Rocamadour, Lot: On the valley of the Alzou since the Middle Ages pilgrims after climbing 216 steps to the sanctuary to cultivate the Black Virgin. The sources unknown as well as that of the hermit Amadour of which body was found intact in 1166 in front of the Chapel of the Virgin Mary. The pilgrims come by way of Puy-en-Velay or the one leaving from Bénévent-l’Abbaye (Creuse). Rocamadour

Mont Sainte Odile Bas-Rhin: The pilgrims come to venerate the Patron Saint of Alsace born blind in the 12C. She was given vision by the baptismal waters from which comes her name Odile means the daughter of light, and she became the abbesse of the convent that was raised here by her father, Duke of Alsace , Etichon-Adalric . The route of pilgrims takes you from Ottrott, the climb is difficult but with a beautiful panorama of the plains of Alsace, the Rhine river, the Black Forest as well as the chain of the Vosges mountains. Mont Sainte Odile

Chartres, Eure-et-Eure: The Cathedral of Chartres more than any other sanctuary invites you to arrive on foot ; you can come on the itinerary created by Charles Péguy in 1912-13. You can see the belltower from the plains at a great distance. You need an entire day to see the 9 gates decorated with more than 2500 statues! On the interior the stained glass is wonderfully beautiful, and the medieval enclosure of the choir, the great organs, and kneel before the relic scarf of the Virgin, statue of Notre Dame du Pilier as well as in the crypt like the one of Notre Dame-de-Sous-Terre. In the nave, the labyrenth done on Fridays from careme to all saints day. Chartres

La Saint-Baume Var: Pilgrims comes by the the way of Kings because it was taken by at least 40 monarchs since Saint Louis in 1254 to Louis XIV in 1660. The way starts at the Basilica of Saint-Maximin about 15km away where the skull of Marie Magdalene is exposed. However, it is only guided coming from Nans-le-Pins halfway here; and most pilgrims only do the last couple of km from Trois Chênes. Once arrived you see a sumptuous panorama looking at the Sainte Victoire and on cliffs you see the grotto where Mary Magdalene spent her last 30 years. It is said that seven times per day she was raised by the angels of Saint-Pilon where today lies a Chapel, the strongest pilgrims do this route when not too much wind and rain. You can then go down by the road chemin du Canapé and reach the hotel where the Dominicans guard the sanctuary since 1295 and host the pilgrims. Sainte Baume

Vézelay, Yonne: This is the inspired hill as this hill the spirit blows harder. The Basilica is dedicated to Mary Magdaleine where some of the assumed relics are kept in the crypt. Here the pilgrim will be astounded by the beauty of Roman art where the land and the heavens speaks along a game of lights to see the soltice. You can hear the chants of the monks that rhyme with the hours of the day. Vézelay

Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Bouches du Rhône: The story here begins at the beginning of Christianity when the Christians were persecuted in the year 45AD It was here where the Rhine meets with the Mediterranean that were appear the three Marys’s (Mary Solomé mother of St James, Mary Magdaleine, and Mary Jacobian ) accompanied by Lazarus, Martha, Maximin ,their servant Sara and a few others. The pilgrimage of travelled people is the most known here in the month of May, a huge crowd accompanied the gypsies towards the sea escorted by provençal guardians on horseback. Saintes Maries de la Mer

Lisieux, Calvados:  The Basilica of Lisieux built in 1954 is the second largest pilgrimage site in France after Lourdes. Here we venerates the relics of one of the biggest Saint of the 19C, Theresa Martin that entered the Carmelites and took the name of Theresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. She was also known as the little Theresa as she trace a spiritual life of childhood that has given her the title of Doctor of the Church and secondary Patron Saint of France. There are over a million visitors each year here, making the 3rd most visited place after the Landing Beaches of Normandy ,and Mont Saint Michel. Lisieux

Sainte Anne d’Auray , Morbihan: This one is very close to me (12 km) and all true on the expectations and crowds. It was a humble laborer of the land Yves Nicolazic that the Mother Virgin Mary appeared from 1623 to 1625 asking to built a Chapel that was promise in the 6C. At the spot , Yves digs a hole and finds a small wooden Virgin figure on the spot called Ker Anna or the village of Anna in Breton. Too small to welcome the crowds of the faithful it was replaced in the 16C by a Basilica of Sainte Anne d’Auray. Each year as much as 500K persons come here by July 25-26; the procession is huge with Breton songs and costumes   bagpipe bands and banners. It is the Patron Saint of Brittany and call the Mamm Gozh ar Vretoned or the grandmother of the Bretons. The Bible tells us she is the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus. Sainte Anne d’Auray

The Mont Saint Michel, Manche: The pilgrims arrived by the northern flank and crossed the Bay with the help of guides. The crossing in moving sand is to show the troubles of life and to overcome it. You ,then climb the rock and visit the Church of St Peter and keep climbing until the arrow steep on the western terrace with a great view of the Bay. The songs of the monks incite you to walk on the abbey Church and discovered the Chapel of Notre Dame-Sous-Terre that replaced the sanctuary done first in 708AD by Saint Aubert . The site covers 13 centuries of history, and the spirit of the angel St Michael is here. Mont Saint Michel

Le Puy-en-Velay , Haute-Loire: The Cathedral de l’Annociation is together with Chartres the oldest Marian sanctuary in the Christian Gaul. The Virgin appeared in the 5C helping a suffering women to laid for rest on a stone flatbed, this stone call the Stone of Fevers is today inside the Cathedral. The pilgrims came to see the Black Virgin a statue from the 17C that replaced the original medieval statue; It is in this town, a departing point for the Route of St James. However, before doing the walk the pilgrims followed three ascentions. One the rock of Corneille where since 1860 lies the statue of Notre Dame de France; the rock of St Michel d’Aiguilhe that takes you to a roman Chapel dedicated to the Archangel. Finally, in the upper town you take the rue des Tables that leads you to the Cathedral where you will received benediction. From here the road of Puy-en-Velay awaits you for the trip to Santiago , St James 1600 km farther. Le Puy en Velay

These are the most popular places of pilgrimage in France, and folks from around the world do come. There is no better way to know the history, traditions, architecture, and customs of France then by visiting these high places. Enjoy them all!

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

November 10, 2018

A square for a king in Paris, Edward VII!

So back to Paris I take you, easy right! Well just thought of the times I spent working in the city and the nice corners I went by on leisure time, even coming back with family. Paris is eternal we say, it is like a virus, once bitten ,it will never go away.

On a cloudy cool day at 12C or 52F in my Morbihan breton, in Paris it is 15C or about 67F and sunny. Let me tell you a bit on the Place Edouard VII (Edward VII) of Paris.

Place Édouard-VII is on the 9éme  arrondissement of Paris.  The square was created and takes its present name in 1912;  named after the son of Queen Victoria,  Edward VII, who was king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1901 to 1910.  The square is located near the Opéra Garnier with a nice entrance in all its splendor by the Bd des Capucines. The square is adorned with the equestrian Statue of Edward VII.  A bit further on the square from the square de l’Opéra Louis Jouvet  and the Pegasus statue (equestrian statue of the straddling poet  Pegasus carried out in 1897). You see near the Musée des Parfums Fragonard. Another melancholy entrance can be done  from Rue Auber to rue Boudreau left into the Square de l’Opéra Louis Jouvet and further the square Edouard VII.

Paris

On the Place Edouard VII you find the wonderful Theater Edouard VII of which have written before. Their webpage is here:  http://www.theatreedouard7.com/e_affiche_accueil.php?rub=1

Froufrou , is the name of the new restaurant since last September. It is a restaurant and cocktail bar signed by the  Moma Group. Located within the magnificent Edouard VII Theater. I have been to the basement  which from 23h30 you can enjoy  the Cancan Bar Froufrou  in a speakeasy old format. All this from  Wednesday to Sunday, after the shows or dinner, this cocktail bar goes into cabaret mode and offers burlesque shows to go back in time. The resto webpage is here:   http://www.froufrou-paris.com/

Paris

A bit of history I like

King Edward VII , made himself the artisan of the Entente Cordiale, between France and England. Paris which he appreciated above all the spirit, gastronomy and women, paid homage to him in 1913. The young Paul Landowski wished to register here, far from the style of his Saint Geneviève or the Christ of Corcovado.  In the great tradition of the equestrian statue. The king, guiding his horse calmly, is represented in his role as chief of the armies. He carries, executed with realism, the uniform of Marshal who befits his rank: helmet with panache, coat, jacket probably red barred with a scarf and adorned with decorations, white panties and boots of rider. The choice of this classical iconography also echoes the portraits commissioned by the Sovereign in his own country. It is that it is indeed an official portrait, to express the nobility and the power, in the center of a place strictly authorised.

At the end of the  18C, there were built  18 private hotels in the  rue Caumartin, a few steps from the Boulevard des Capucines, which was then a place of promenade established on ancient fortifications dating back to King Louis XIII. In the 19C, in the purest Haussmann tradition, this boulevard had seen the erection of monumental buildings of five floors. Finally, in 1913, Nénot, the architect of the new Sorbonne and the Palais de la League des Nations in Geneva, had pierced a street in a piecemeal gap in order to carry out an extensive urban and real estate program. A street that was to take the name of Edward VII, in homage to the King of England who had worked so much in the Franco-British rapprochement.

From 1921, the premises were gradually occupied and privatized by the central services of the Société Générale bank, the rue Edouard VII became a private lane closed by barriers. Follows in the suburbs of the Société Générale bank offices in 1992, the neighborhood  is rehabilitated from 1995 to 1999.  Thus, in the rue Edouard VII which will regain its appearance and function of origin with promenade and shops , it removes the barriers that block the  access and the grids that disfigured the facades, while it restores the wooden storefronts of the shops of the beginning of the last century.

Closest parking Édouard VII , 23 rue de Caumartin, but I always used the  Parking Opéra-Meyerbeer, 3 Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin. On public transports you can do the  RER A Auber, RER  E Haussmann-Saint Lazare, and the metro station Opéra lines  3, 7, 8 .A  bit further metro station  Madeleine lines 8 12 ,14. Bus lines 20, 21, 24, 27, 29, 42, 52, 68, 81, 84, 94, and 95 all take you close.  I have used 24 27 84 and 95 very nicely in that area.

The webpage of the Tourist office of Paris is on the theater but it gives you a feeling of the area the square is in. Tourist office of Paris on the Edward VII theater

Hope it helps your enjoyment of this bit of space of my gorgeous Paris. The area is quaint, nice , super, worth the detour for a walk, and walk is best in Paris!

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

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