Archive for July 1st, 2019

July 1, 2019

Daoulas, in the Finistére! The Abbey!!!

So let me tell you about a town off the beaten path really, the cousin of the bigger town of Plougastel-Daoulas. I have written plenty on the bigger town in my blog but I feel need to tell you a bit more on the smaller Daoulas.

Daoulas is a town in the department of Finistere no 29, in the Brittany region, known mainly for the Notre-Dame de Daoulas abbey. This town is located at the confluence of two rivers, the Mignonne and Lézuzan. Further upstream, the manor of Kerdaoulas dominates the valley. This town is located at the bottom of the harbor of Brest, bordering the estuary of the river Daoulas, in typical situation of estuary bottom, at the limit of the navigability and the rise of the influence of the tide.


Daoulas has a magnificent abbey, Old monastery done by the 12C, at the French revolution the canons of the order  of Saint Augustin, the abbey still shows great architecture of its old beauty. A  cloister from the 12C unique example of it in Brittany , a fountain, an oratory  from the 16C and a conventional house from the 18C. An exceptional garden  with medical plants inspired by the monastic gardens of the 14C grouping about  250 species of condiments, the therapeutics, aromatics, exotics even magical  plants. In addition to 5 hectares of discovery gardens with small pond , old water washing machines, and sheeps from the region of the island of  Ouessant. It’s a magical place.

A bit of history I like

The legend, reported by Albert the Great in the Life of Saint Jaoua and then repeated by several authors says that a lord of Faou, still pagan, has committed a double crime in the Church of Daoulas. The latter, having become a Christian, in reparation for his crime, founded the monastery of Daoulas, or both wounds, of the two pains, at the very place where St. Judulus had been assassinated by him. Saint Jaoua was charged with the construction of the monastery and proved that he was a very good architect.

This town is known for events related to the Revolt of the Bonnet Rouges (Red Bonnets) against the taxes of the king,  which reaches the area of ​​Daoulas July 3 and 4, 1675.  According to Albert Le Grand, the port of Daoulas was as prosperous as that of Brest in the first half of the 17C. The union of the abbey with the seminary of Brest for the benefit of the Jesuits in 1692 led to the dispersion of the canons; it was the beginning of the decadence of Daoulas, that the suppression of the seigniorial justice in 1790 accentuated the decline. Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie de Montijo passed by Daoulas on August 12, 1858.

The things to see here and very much worth the visit are

The Notre-Dame de Daoulas abbey and its gardens belong to the General Council of Finistère. The fountain Notre-Dame-des-Fontaines contains a Virgin and Child holding an apple in the hand, symbol of original sin. It has probably been built on the site of a former pagan place of worship, especially druidic as a very old statue located nearby seems to illustrate. The three basins of the fountain recall the Holy Trinity. The basin of the fountain forms a rectangle of 6 meters by 4 meters and is surmounted by a sort of small Gothic chapel made of Kersanton stone, covered with two acute crawlers with pinnacles at the four corners. Gothic style, it was rebuilt in 1550. This fountain was in the past the object of great devotion.


The parish Church of Notre-Dame, is formed of the remaining Romanesque parts of the old abbey church and a neo-Romanesque part rebuilt in the 19C. the building to a supposed Romanesque state and brought down the choir of the 16C, very large, and the bell tower that threatened to collapse. The mission cross is on the site of the old choir. The Romanesque abbey remains the west facade, the nave and the north aisle dating from the last quarter of the 12C. The nave of seven bays 28 meters long, 12.5 meters high  is covered with a frame. Above, large splayed windows are pierced in the bare wall. The spans are not marked and the carved decoration is banned. At the end of the nave, the west wall is pierced by a door underlined by moldings and engaged columns. On the second level, three beautifully-sized windows with moldings cover the entire width of the wall, surmounted by a small window at the frame’s cradle. The choir and the two apsidioles, vaulted in a cul-de-four, directly extend the nave and the aisles, without transept. They are neo-romans ,19C, as is the south aisle and porch. The wall of the apse is animated by a series of seven blind arcades, supported by carved capitals imitating those of the cloister, where are inscribed in the axis three semicircular windows. The crests of the sacristy date from the 16C. In 1984, the altarpiece of the Virgin in the sacristy was restored and moved to the left side of the church. In polychrome wood, its pediment represents the eternal Father framed by 2 angels, the base represents at its ends, the adoration of the Magi and the Assumption of Mary.


The entrance porch of the parish enclosure (calvary), known as the Porch to the Apostles, corresponds to the old porch of the Renaissance-style church and basket-handle, which was transplanted there in the course of the 19C. It was replaced on the south facade of the parish church by a neo-Roman porch.The ordeal located at the entrance of the cemetery is simple only one cross, but is double-sided. The old Ossuary dates from 1454. It was transformed into a Sacristy in the 19C. It is a rectangular building in Kersanton stones with the exception of the basement. It bears an inscription with the date of 1589 and the arms of Father René Du Louet.


It’s a small town packing a lot of history and architecture that is worth going in and on the off the beaten path cycle of my lovely Brittany or Bretagne. Daoulas is a must.


Some webpages as usual from me to help you plan your trip here are

City of Daoulas on the abbey in French

Tourist office of Landerneau-Daoulas on the heritage of Daoulas

Heritage ways of the Finistére on the abbey in French

Tourist office of Brittany on the abbey in English

And there you go ,you are now arm to come see this jewel of my lovely Brittany, and belle France; Daoulas is super , small but packing a lot of history/architecture in it. Hope you enjoy it as we did.

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



July 1, 2019

Mansart and Le Nôtre, Versailles!!!

And why not come back to my beloved and dear Versailles! Always sublime and royal and wonderful to even talk about, when in town I am in heaven!  Versailles is a lot more than a castle I said. However, there are two men who are very much inlaid with the history of the city and the palace/museum.

Jules Hardouin-Mansart and André Le Nôtre  did they tell you anything? There are one reason of what makes France today to the world. And they both convene at Versailles. Of course, they did many other works all over as architect and gardener but Versailles remains their fait accompli par excellence. Let me tell you a bit more on these men. Photos in Versailles of course!

Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Earl of Sagonne (1699), born on 16 April 1646 in Paris and died on 11 May 1708 in Marly-le-Roi, buried at Saint Paul is a French architect. He was the first architect of King Louis XIV and superintendent of the king’s buildings. FThe son of  Raphaël Hardouin, master painter, and Marie Gaultier, niece of François Mansart. Jules Hardouin-Mansart married Anne Bodin on 3 February 1668, with whom he had five children. She was the daughter of Nicolas Bodin, advisor to the king, treasurer of the
provost of the hotel and grand provost of France, and Madeleine Adam, his wife.


He built the small castle of Val (1674) and won the esteem of King Louis XIV after drawing the plans for the castle of Clagny (Versailles) , intended for the king’s favorite mistress, Madame de Montespan. He became an ordinary architect in 1675 and entered the Royal Academy of Architecture. First architect of the king in 1681, he was appointed general steward of the king’s buildings in 1685.

On the death of Charles Le Brun in 1690, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, who had just completed the dome of the Hôtel des Invalides, became inspector general of the king’s buildings in 1691. He painted the interior of the dome from 1702 to 1706. In 1699 he was able to acquire the county of Sagonne in Old region of Berry and Bourbonnais today dept 18 Cher in the region of Centre Val de Loire, and assert his title of count.

At the Château of Versailles his work are noted as   1677 : Le bosquet des Dômes;   1678 -1684 : The Galerie des Glaces ,   1679-1689 : the façade on the side of the park, the wings of  retrait du nord and du midi , 1684-1686 : the Petite and Grande Écurie, the new Orangerie; 1687 : the Grand Trianon, 1698-1710 : the Chapelle Royale 1698-1710 : the Coll Church of Notre-Dame de Versailles , 1681 : Hôtel de Beauvillier, Versailles,(aka Hôtel du Grand Contrôle, located in the extension of the Midi wing of the castle and overlooking the gardens of the Orangery),   1682 : Hôtel Colbert de Croissy ,Versailles (Charles Colbert de Croissy) , and 1683 : Hôtel de Chevreuse ,Versailles.

Jules Hardouin Mansart’s rise to fame became meteoric when, in 1678, Louis XIV charged him with the vast modifications and additions to the Château of Versailles. He first reworked Le Vau’s garden facade, filling in the large terrace set into the middle of the building’s second story, in order to create the Galerie des Glaces. Later Mansart erected the great wings which extend symmetrically north and south of the central block, creating in the overall 549 meters (about 1,800-feet) in length an unparalleled monumentality. Among his most imaginative efforts at Versailles were the splendid horseshoe-shaped stables , which were carefully planned to fill in the wedge-shaped areas formed by the avenues radiating out from the château’s forecourt. Equally notable is his work on the second Orangery, with its magnificently scaled embracing staircases. His last undertaking at Versailles was the Royal Chapel ;conceived 1688; built 1697-1710. Jules Hardouin-Mansart died in 1708 while working on the Royal Chapel. It was completed by his assistant and son-in-law, Robert de Cotte in 1710.

Beginning in 1679 and continuing to the time of his death, Mansart was occupied at Marly-le-Roi, (Yvelines dept 78) building a novel weekend retreat for Louis XIV. In the perfectly balanced layout of the entire complex, the building reserved for the King’s exclusive use stood as an isolated block, bounded on its flanks by individual pavilions designed to accommodate those members of the court who were invited to spend several days at Marly. The arrangement suggests a new intimacy in French architecture and can also be regarded as symbolic, for the central building is the dwelling of the Sun king and the pavilions are his satellites.

Architectural genius, Jules Hardouin-Mansart has given Versailles to France , a monument that is without a doubt one of the most prestigious castles that the whole world envy us. It has its place among the great builders of France! Indeed!!!

Official Chateau de Versailles on JH Mansart

André Le Nôtre  born on March 12, 1613 in Paris, where he died on September 15, 1700, was a gardener to King Louis XIV from 1645 to 1700 and had the task of designing the park and gardens of the Château of Versailles. Very famous courtier, he managed to attract the favor of Louis XIV, by a bonhomie probably worked in the presence of the king, who earned him the nickname, during his lifetime, of “Bonhomme Le Nôtre”. He knew how to distance himself from the intrigues of the Court and obtain the good graces of a king passionate about gardens. He is the author of the plans of many French gardens. I will concentrate on those in Versailles.


He was baptized on 12 March 1613 in the Church of Saint-Roch (rue Saint Honoré) in Paris, his grandfather was Pierre Le Nôtre, a market gardener and then the king’s gardener at the Tuileries palace, a prestigious office he passed on to his son. His father Jean Le Nôtre was the king’s ordinary gardener in charge of the maintenance of the Tuileries garden of Marie de Medici and, since 1625, has held the title of designer of plants and gardens. His mother Marie Jacquelin is the daughter of master gardener Toussaint Jacquelin. his godfather, André Bérard de Maisoncelle, comptroller general of the King’s gardens under Henry IV and Louis XIII His godmother, Claude de Martigny, is the wife of Claude Mollet, also gardener of the king at the Tuileries On January 16, 1640, André Le Nôtre marries, in Paris, Françoise Langlois, daughter of the governor of the pages of the Grand Ecuries (stables) who survives him and with whom he had three children, all of whom died young

The young André Le Nôtre entered, in 1620, as a pupil in the studio of Simon Vouet, painter of Louis XIII, where he learned drawing for six years He also studied sculpture with Louis Lerambert and architecture and perspective with François Mansart . The craftsmen and artists (especially painters), whom he met at the castle where his father worked, allowed him to become familiar with the uses of the court that would be useful for his career.   In 1635, Le Nôtre becomes the first gardener of Gaston de France , brother of king Louis XIII, who entrusted him with his gardens in Saint-Cloud and Luxembourg. In 1656, Le Nôtre designed the new gardens of the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte . In 1661, André Le Nôtre put himself in the service of Louis XIV to restore the gardens of Versailles: his intervention began with the parterre de l’Amour ( Love) at the end of 1662 and continued until 1687. In 1664, Colbert instructed Le Nôtre to beautify the Tuileries garden, which he transformed in depth, opening several perspectives, one of which served as a route to the future Avenue des Champs-Élysées.Le Nôtre was knighted by Louis XIV himself in 1675: on this occasion he received the Order of Saint-Michel followed, in 1681, by the Order of Saint-Lazare.

In 1693, André Le Nôtre retired to his house near the Marsan pavilion (today housing the musée des Arts décoratifsin the Tuileries Palace (now gone) , with his wife and nieces and nephews whom he adopted after the death of his three children. His house was surrounded by a garden that he maintained himself. He died there on 15 September 1700 at the age of 87, leaving an estimated fortune of one million pounds. His funeral was celebrated in the Church of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois and was buried in the Church of Saint-Roch. According to his wishes, he is buried unceremoniously. The chapel that houses his tomb is decorated with a painting by Jean Jouvenet, entitled the Martyrdom of Saint-André. His widow, Françoise Langlois, soon commissioned the sculptor Pierre Cotton to honor the memory of her husband. Made before 1707, it took place in front of the high altar, under a large arcade. Standing on a veined marble background of color, it consisted of a white marble allegory holding the gardener’s epitaph, in golden letters on black marble, all topped with the coat of arms of the deceased, with the famous three masons and the necklace of the order of St. Michael’s; below, at the height of the spectator, was placed on a console the bust of the deceased, his head slightly turned to the right, specially ordered by one of the masters of the funerary sculpture of the time, Antoine Coysevox. It was demolished   during the French revolution, only Antoine Coysevox’s bust remains from this tomb.

Official Chateau of Versailles on André Le Nôtre

There you go two genious that we still keep coming back for them all over my belle France!  And Versailles was/is their greatest work of art!!! Enjoy the post and especially their work.

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

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