Archive for June 30th, 2019

June 30, 2019

Vaux-le-Vicomte, when a King is jealous !

When a King is jealous alright, this is a marvelous castle often overlook for lack of leaving Paris proper by most visitors. However, it is highly recommended.  To say the least been here many times as it is in my spouse’s region, and it was one of the first properties visited when coming annually to France since 1990. Let me tell you a bit more on the Castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte!

vaux le vicomte

The castle is not name for the city, the town ,village we better describe it is call Maincy postal code 77950 with a population of about 1700 inhabitants. It all became famous when the  Superintendant of Finance (from 1653)  of king Louis XIV ,Nicolas Fouquet  purchase the land of Vaux in 1641 from the inheritance of his decease wife .  In 1657, he hires the Architect Louis Le Vau to built a castle , the Painter Le Brun to do its decorations ,and the gardener Le Nôtre to create the gardens .  The talent of these man was already known to the king as they were used to do the similar work at the Chateau de Vincennes (bois de Vincennes) in 1651-1653 .When all is done, Nicolas Fouquet proudly showcase the property with a grand bal or party on August 17 , 1661, inviting the King itself and it court.

vaux le vicomte

This was the beginning of disaster for him and his castle. Not just for this castle as it is the popular story, but because Nicolas Fouquet had fraudelent used the Kings’ money for other properties as well a total of 11 millions francs for which he recognise in front of the Tribunal only 8 millions.  Immediately all these events led the King Louix XIV and his advisers figure that the embellishement and grandeur of Vaux-le-Vicomte was due to the mis used of these funds. He was ordered arrested by the king  in September 5th of 1661 with the personage of Captain D’Artagnan , yes of the muskeeteers fame, the loyal guard of the king.  He is sentenced to 15 years in prison in Italy where he died on April 3, 1680.

A bit on the architecture

The castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte represent a French feodal architecture with four buildings ,two of rectangular shape along the gardens and two square along the courtyard; it has a Rotonda, Italian style in the center room with the king’s apartement on the left and the apt for Nicolas Fouquet on the right, the central room is of an oval shape something unique for the times. First floor or ground floor you have the Salon d’Hércules,Chambre des Muses (or Fouquet) ,there is a chimney in the Salon des Jeux or games room ,the antichamber of the king is not finished! as well as the chambre du roi or king’s room , there is the dining room, and kitchen . First floor or second floor (US) you have the bedroom of Nicolas Fouquet all is original ! ,Also, the one for Mme Fouquet all made of glass, plus a cabinet room or office . There is a huge beautiful garden as you can imagine fait par Le Notre,not to miss either about 3 kms of it French style.

You,also, have a carriage museum in an adjacent building of carriages from the 19C to 20C. There is a water fountain show the second and last Saturdays of the month from about March to October, check site for exact dates as they change a bit year to year.  Also, the Saturdays from May 1 to October 9 thereabout 2000 candles are lit at night for a magnificent show of lights after 20h.  There are kids theme games, and a special masquearade party every year not to be missed if possible.

A bit on the modern history

The Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte goes thru traumatic periods of inheritances and revolutions before falling by foreclosure sale to industrialist Alfred Sommier in June 15, 1875, he renovates the castle bring back its old belonging or make due imitations of the ones existing before, and the Castle is reborn, unfortunately he died at the castle in 1908.  The castle serves as a military hospital during WWI until 1918.  The castle  is today own by Count/ comte Patrice de Vogüé that inherit it in 1968 from his father Jean de Vogüé, nephew of Edme Sommier deceased in 1945 without descendants. The Count de Vogüé has done considerable work and publicity to make this property once again royal and magnificent for all to see.

To get here by car is to best take the A5a from Paris to exit/sortie  D215 road take it direction Melun, free parking.   By train from Paris Gare de Lyon take trains direction Sens or Montereau to station at Melun, there take the chateaubus (weekends in period april to november ), or a taxi.

The webpage to get you here best is the official one at : Official Chateau Vaux le Vicomte site

Ironically, even if not in Paris, the tourist office has information in English on the castle; Tourist office of Paris on Vaux le Vicomte

Also, the Melun Val de Seine tourist office: Tourist office of Melun Val de Seine on Vaux le Vicomte

The Seine et Marne dept 77 tourist office on the castle: Tourist office of Seine et Marne dept 77 on Vaux le Vicomte

As well as the ïle de France region tourist office: Tourist office Ile de France on Vaux le Vicomte in English

There you go , now you are well arm to come and enjoy this marvel of my belle France. Near Paris, why not, see one of the most beautiful castles in France with plenty of activities year-round. Enjoy the Castle of Vaux le Vicomte at Maincy in Seine et Marne region of Ïle de France!

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

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June 30, 2019

Hotel Dieu and Fine Arts at Mantes!

In a not far distant land there is a Royal town of France seldom seen by visitors to the capital, a pity indeed or too much travel books. In my beloved old home of Yvelines dept 78 in the Ïle de France region there lies one once a king Henri IV call the most beautiful. I am talking about Mantes-la-Jolie (or Mantes the Beautiful) and its old town center.

Here you will find marvels that I have written/told you before in my posts,and today I like to take you to one special place. This is a museum of Fine Arts but is more than that if you know the history and architecture of it. It is also the Hôtel-Dieu of Mantes.  Let me tell you a bit more on it.

mantes la jolie

The city of Mantes-la-Jolie is located on the left bank of the Seine river , 57 km from Paris , 47 km from Versailles, and 85 km from Rouen. The museum of fine arts or musée Hôtel-Dieu is just a few steps from the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame, (see that post) the Hotel-Dieu Museum is at the place de l’etape on the main street in town. Here it will allows you to discover the medieval past of the city as well as the works of the artist Maximilien Luce.

mantes la jolie

The Hôtel-Dieu was built in the 14C during the reign of king Charles V and heavily redeveloped during the 16-17C; the Hôtel-Dieu was an institution managed by the Church. After various occupations, the building was acquired by the city of Mantes-la-Jolie in 1962. It has a beautiful 18C façade characterized by its Corinthian pilasters, its large rosette adorned with a winged angel’s head and its ornamentation. The Hôtel-Dieu Chapel became a Museum in 1996 and name Museum of France or Musée de France in 2002.

The Hotel-Dieu Museum retains the largest collection dedicated to the artist Maximilien Luce in France. This post-Impressionist painter settled in the region, in Rolleboise, in 1917. He particularly illustrated the themes of the landscape in the Seine Valley, the activities on and off the banks of the Seine river, the industrial development as well as the working conditions of the time. Only museum of fine arts of the territory, it is on the road of impressionist painters, a few kilometers from Giverny, Pontoise and   Paris and allows to discover a great Neo-Impressionist painter.

It was closed for work for more than a year, the Musée de L’Hôtel-Dieu in Mantes-la-Jolie reopened its doors last February 16, 2019 with a new scenography centered on the work of the Neo-Impressionist painter Maximilien Luce. I admit the photos are not tops as were taken with my cell /mobile phone ::)

mantes la jolie

mantes la jolie

And who was Maximilien Luce? Well a bit on him shall we..

Maximilien Luce, was born on March 13, 1858 and died on February 6, 1941 in Paris, a French painter. A libertarian activist, he produced many politically engaged illustrations. He is also an engraver, portraitist and poster artist. His first known painting dates from 1876. From 1885, and for fifteen years, he enrolled in the Neo-Impressionist movement: he uses the technique of divisionism (or pointillism), developed by Georges Seurat. He later returned to a more classic billing, but kept the harmony and brightness of his first period.

In September 1883, he was released from his obligatory military duties. As the invention of zincography significantly reduced the opportunities for wood engraving, Luce became a full-time painter. From 1884 to 1886, Luce made several stays in Lagny-sur-Marne, in the company of Émile-Gustave Cavallo-Péduzzi and Léo Gausson, whom he had known at the atelier of Eugène Froment. The two painters kept him informed of Seurat’s research. It was in Lagny-sur-Marne, in 1885, that Luce began to produce in a divisional manner. In the spring of 1887, the works of the neo-impressionists were first assembled at the independants exhibition. Luce exhibited seven divisionist paintings.

mantes la jolie

oriental temp exhibit by Georgette Agutte

Luce was also a libertarian activist, his first political drawing appears in the modern life magazine. On 24 June,1894 the President of the Republic Sadi Carnot was assassinated by the Italian anarchist Caserio. Suspected of complicity, especially because of his collaboration with father Peinard, Luce was arrested on 6 July. He’s incarcerated at Mazas prison. But it is too late to include it in the trial of the thirty, which takes place from 6 to 12 August. He was released on 17 August, for lack of serious evidence against him.

In 1898 and 1899, during the Dreyfus affair, he supported Zola, then Colonel Picquart. He signed a petition, he produces dreyfusards drawings. At the beginning of the 20C, he definitively renounces the coloured dots that have earned the divisionists the nickname of pointillistes: his touches’stretches and softens, it comes to a more traditional billing, but which keeps the harmony and brightness of his first period.

From 1902 to 1912, he paints the big projects that remodel the face of Paris. He dedicates a dozen paintings to the bloody week which marked his childhood: Une rue de Paris en mai 1871 (1903-1905), Le 18 mars, place Pigalle (1906), Vive la Commune (vers 1910), Les Derniers Défenseurs de la Commune, le 28 mai1871 (1915), L’Exécution de Varlin (1910-1917), La République et la Mort (no date) .

In 1915 and 1916, he sought to show the social significance of the conflict (WWI) by painting the activity of the Parisian stations and the rear of the fighting. Far from the heroisation of patriotic propaganda, he testifies of the grey, ponderant and devoid of the shattered reality of war. In 1917, he discovered Rolleboise, on the banks of the Seine river. He bought a house in 1920 and shared it between this house and Paris where he leaves, the same year, the 16th arrondissement to settle 16 rue de Seine.

During the 1930’s , he was part of the Honorary Committee of the International League of Peace fighters, the most radical of pacifist organizations, whose motto was: “no to all wars!” In November 1934, he succeeded Paul Signac as President of the society of independent artists. At the end of the year, Luce resigned from the Presidency of the independent artists to protest against Vichy’s policy of discrimination against Jewish artists. He died in Paris on 7 February 1941. He was buried alongside his wife at the Rolleboise cemetery.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and you should are

City of Mantes la Jolie on the museum

Tourist office of Yvelines dept 78 on the museum

There you go again ,some marvels of my belle France in what can be describe as an off the beaten path monument that must be more than that and be visited. Hope you enjoy the Musée de l’Hôtel Dieu of Mantes la Jolie.

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

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