Archive for August 11th, 2019

August 11, 2019

Tour Tanguy at Brest!

So let me bring you back to a very nice feature of Brest. I have written several posts on this quant city of the north of the Finistére dept 29 of Bretagne. However, this part is rather nice so figure deserves a post on its own. Here it is for you, hope you like as I do.

As arrive by car and park in front of the Château, then do our walks all over the city. While passing by the Recouvrance bridge we noted this ancient tower right in the harbor not knowing what it was we headed for it. Well, it is a very nice museum of the city of Brest. I like to tell you a bit more on it.

The Bastille Quilbignon or Motte-Tanguy tower is built on a rocky mound along the Penfeld river, facing the castle of Brest, Recouvrance. It is accessed from Rue de la Porte by the Place Pierre-Péron, at the foot of the Recouvrance bridge. This tower of the 14C houses the museum of old Brest.


The origin of the medieval tower could not be determined very precisely. Tradition give it as founder Tanguy I of Chastel, lord at the castle of Trémazan in Landunvez, which was illustrated in the struggle of Brittany against England and contributed to the development of the right bank. But the construction is probably posterior.

In 1386 the Duke of Brittany Jean IV undertook the siege of the castle of Brest occupied by the English. To ensure the blockade he leaned on two bastilles: one facing the castle, the other at Quilbignon on the right bank, called Bastille Kerneguez, simple wooden fort. The Bastille of Kerneguez was taken and destroyed by the Duke of Lancaster. In 1387 Jean IV rebuilt the two stone buildings, much stronger than before

It is very likely that this Bastille Kerneguez, mentioned as being on the edge of the Penfeld river facing the castle, became the property of the family of Chastel after the departure of the English in 1397. The name of the Bastille gave way to that of Tanguy tower, first name worn by several members of this line. Their weapons are engraved above the door.

Until about 1580, the Tanguy tower served as the seat of justice of the lords of the Châtel, before they transfer it to a neighboring house. Then neglected, the tower became the property of the Rohan-Guéméné family in 1786 then passed into the Royal domain before being sold as national property during the French revolution to the Sieur Gabon. It becomes at this time the Cabon Tower. In 1862, it is acquired by the architect Barillé who transforms it into a dwelling house. It’s last resident and private owner, Dr. Joseph Thielmans, leaves her after the fire during the fighting of 1944 in WWII.


The city of Brest becomes the owner in 1954. The Tanguy tower is restored and inaugurates the museum of old Brest in 1962 which then had only two rooms. A third room was opened to the public in July 1964. In 1971, a pepper mill was added to it and its neo-Gothic cornice was replaced with crenellations to give it a medieval silhouette. The museum houses a set of models and historical reconstructions that constitute a walk through the picturesque streets of Brest before 1939, that is to say in the city as it was before the Allied bombing during  WWII. On two floors, there are models, huge dioramas (paintings painted in relief), official documents of several eras, photos and rare postcards, a collection of coats of arms or the map of the old Brest with the Vauban fortifications. Dioramas made by the Brest artist Jim Sévellec represent the great episodes in the history of Brest.  The tour Tanguy is divided into three section, the street level, (1fl US etc ), first floor and second floor, all very nice.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Brest on the history of Tanguy tower

Tourist office of Brest on the Tanguy tower museum

And there you go another dandy in nice Brest in the lovely Finistére of Bretagne. The Tanguy tower museum is worth the detour in the city and close to the main museums in the castle.

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



August 11, 2019

The towers of La Rochelle, Lantern!

So let me show something wonderful just a few hours south of my house and a place we came to love as my oldest son study hotellerie/restaurant courses there. He went and we follow, to our amazed eyes several years back, and have since return several times. I will be telling you about the tours or towers of the harbor of La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime dept  17 in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine! Bear with me on repetitions…as introduction is the same.

Once in town, we walk, and walk is a walker’s paradise of quaint old streets and historical buildings, we took the tour de la Chaine, tour de St Nicolas, and the  tour de la Lantern. The development of this new city of the 11C is assured from the 14C by the protection offered by the towers, including the towers of St. Nicholas and the Chaine that regulate the entry of many merchant ships in its port.

All three designed to serve as a residence, two towers out of three (ie the tower of Saint Nicolas and the tower of the Chaine) were also places of detention between the 16C and 18C for the Huguenots and foreign sailors. They then become military prisons in the 19C. The Lantern Tower was used to disarm the boats upstream of the port and was a lighthouse. The boutiques of the Chaîne and Saint-Nicolas towers offer throughout the year a wide range of books, products for young and old. The shops are free access and are open 7 days a week during the opening hours of the towers.

The Tour de la Lantern or tower (was on renovations when stopped by) is from the 15C is one of the 3 towers in the seafront of La Rochelle.  An order of the city dating from 1209 already mentions the existence of a Tower of the Chain, having nothing to do with the current Tower of the Chain, but having the same function. In effect, this one then barred the entry of the primitive harbor of La Rochelle located on the brook of Lafond, and was subsequently called “Tour du Garrot” after the name of the lifting device which was used to disarm the vessels before that they can enter the port. The tower captain was referred to as the “disarmer of the vessels”. the new building, begun in 1445, incorporated by lining this old tower. It was completed only 23 years later in 1468.

la rochelle

The various names of the tower ; the oldest was Garrot Tower. In 1568, in order to reinforce the walls, the churches are destroyed. Catholics flee from the walls, but 13 priests are arrested and locked in the tower. They will be slaughtered and thrown into the sea from the top of the tower the following weeks. The tower then took the nickname of Tower of the Priests. Nickname which was reinforced after the slaughter of four other priests by the crowd, during the French revolution in 1798.  Finally, in 1822, two of the protagonists of the Conspiracy of La Rochelle are locked in the tower before being executed in Paris with two others, same year. The tower then took the nickname of tour of the Four Sergeants. The tower of the Lantern  has a height of 55 meters, it consists of two parts. Its base is a cylinder 25 meters high and more than 15 meters in diameter, overhung by an octagonal arrow, four of the eight sides are pierced with three-lobed windows  in Flamboyant style.

Several rooms superimposed make up the interior of the tower of the Lantern: The salle basse (lower room). The salle des gardes  (guard room) located on the first floor (2nd US), this room is access to the tower from the ramparts wall. The level, divided into two rooms, retains two gunboats, a fireplace and a 19C oven. The Niveau or Level 3 ;the level is cut in half by a split wall . The wall divides the level into two rooms: the salle du désarmeur des nefs  (disarmer room of the vessels) and the salle de la pistole (Pistol’s room). The disarmer room of the vessels has a study, latrines. The room, called pistole, has inscriptions, including Spanish, religious, companions, corsairs, etc. The dormitory is the 4th level (5th US), it could accommodate more than 100 inmates. It includes as in the rest of the tower graffiti French, English, Dutch, poems, representations of ships .etc.  chemin de ronde ( walkway) . salle Jehan Mérichon ( Jehan Mérichon Room) ,this room is named after the former mayor of La Rochelle who financed the completion of the tower. Jehan Mérichon was mayor of La Rochelle five times and was advisor to King Louis XI. The prison cells are spread over two levels that were created in the 19C. They initially had openings that were closed during the restoration of the early 20C. The salle de l’amer (Bitter’s  room ), this room contains the most beautiful graffiti of ships of the tower. On the ground floor , a labyrinth can evoke the prison, the confinement … Suspended with the arrow of the tower, a vertical stele can symbolize the escape, the freedom.

The Tour de la Lantern is 38 meters high, the gallery offers an exceptional view of the city center and the bay of La Rochelle which explains the involvement of the tower in the lookout of the sea. The current lantern is a reconstruction. Unlike the La Chaîne and Saint-Nicolas towers, the Lantern tower has only two spiral staircases. The lower room is connected to none of them. The first serves all the rooms up to the walkway. It is capped by a stone pyramid of four sides. In addition to the flamboyant Gothic style hooks, one of the sides includes a stone inset under which was inscribed the completion of the tower dated 1468 and its attribution to Mayor Jean Mérichon. The second narrower connects the walkway to the gallery and the bitter hall. It is crown by the Lantern.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official National Monument Tours of La Rochelle

Tourist office of La Rochelle on the towers

There you go this is an amazing tower and well worth the visit to La Rochelle, a beautiful city indeed.

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

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