Archive for April 26th, 2020

April 26, 2020

How about Le Chesnay!

Well there you go written couple posts on the big shopping center here which was our favorite when in Versailles, but my boys went to school here too, and else not much written on Le Chesnay and figure its about time!

So let me tell you about this upscale town next to Versailles, this is Le Chesnay. Which to update the town merged with Rocquencourt and now its call Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt.  The first traces of a town here dates back to the time of Charlemagne. In the 13C, it is still a village in the middle of a forest, woodcutters and farmers, Chesnay “the place where there are oaks”. The Le Chesnay depended on the parish of Rocquencourt when in 1683, king Louis XIV bought it to bring it into the park of Versailles.

Since January 1, 2014, Le Chesnay has been part of the Versailles Grand Parc urban community. It is a new French town resulting from January 1, 2019 from the merger of the towns of Le Chesnay and Rocquencourt, Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt is located in the Yvelines department 78 in the Île-de-France region. The town is located 18 km from Paris, and just across the street from Versailles. The neighboring towns are: La Celle-Saint-Cloud to the north, Vaucresson to the northeast, Versailles from the east to the southwest, and Rocquencourt to the west. The town of Chesnay-Rocquencourt territory is crossed, in its northern part and along an east-west axis, by the A 13 autoroute de Normandie as well as, in its center and along a north-south axis, by the N321 road which leads to La Celle-Saint -Cloud and Bougival to the north and Versailles to the south. It is bordered, by way of southwest and south limits with Versailles, by the N186 road which leads in the direction of Saint-Germain-en-Laye towards the north and at Versailles towards the south and, by way of north limits with La Celle-Saint-Cloud, via the departmental D307 road, east-west axis leading to Vaucresson and Saint-Cloud to the east and Bailly and Noisy-le-Roi to the west.

The old town of Rocquencourt is occupied in the south-west by the Domaine de Chèvreloup , contiguous to the park of Versailles and which houses the arboretum of Chévreloup (see post) , covering approximately half of the town; to the north, it encompasses the southern margin of the Forêt de Marly, while the space located east of the N 186 road   is covered by the large residential complexes of the Domaine and Parly 2. One castle here is the Château de Beauregard built in 1786. And the Château of Rocquencourt. The Countess of Provence had the castle built in 1781. The French revolution interrupted the completion of the works, which were resumed afterwards. In 1824, the estate was acquired by the Duchess of Corigliano, niece of Joachim Murat, then, in 1829, it was bought by the banker Beer Léon Fould. Cécile Furtado-Heine, his granddaughter, had the park landscaped. The estate then became the property of Princess Murat, née Cécile Ney of Elchingen, granddaughter of Mme Furtado-Heine. The castle was occupied and heavily damaged during WWII. It was demolished in 1963, leaving only the entrance gate with interlaced initials: CFH, for Cécile Furtado-Heine.

The last battle of the Napoleonic imperial troops took place in Rocquencourt, July 1, 1815, 13 days after Waterloo and 9 days after the abdication of Napoleon I but before the signing of the armistice, when the Prussians had invaded France. It was the fact, at the instigation of Marshal Davout, Generals Exelmans and Pira and resulted in the annihilation of a Prussian brigade and more than 400 prisoners.  In July 1951, the great headquarters of the Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE) moved into pre-fabricated buildings, built in about three months by French military engineers, on a site which France had donated to NATO. It was located at the Voluceau camp in Rocquencourt, until March 30, 1967 (first exit of France from NATO by De Gaulle).  Towards the end of WWII, the Supreme Allied Command (SHAEF) was installed at the Trianon Palace, in Versailles. The Americans will then gather nearby, at the Château du Chesnay, various senior officials and engineers of the German armaments to question them. These, taken prisoner in Germany gradually occupied by the Anglo-Americans, are interned there a few weeks, in spring and summer 1945, including Albert Speer (before his transfer to be tried in Nuremberg), architect of Hitler and Minister of Armaments, Ernst Heinrich Heinkel, aircraft manufacturer, General Georg Thomas but also probably and accidentally the theologian Martin Niemöller.

From 1820, bourgeois families began to create second homes in Le Chesnay which at the time was mainly rural. The first of these was that of the Genouville family, which can still be seen at 23 rue Laurent Gaudet. Thus was born the Plateau Saint Antoine district, one of the richest in Grand Versailles. At the beginning of the 20C, the plateau was built with the Saint-Antoine-de-Padoue Church, consecrated on November 18, 1900 after three years of work.

Things to see in Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt:

Church Notre Dame de la Resurrection, modern style, opened in 1970, it is located almost in the heart of Parly 2 mall area. Church Saint Germain, the oldest, dates from 1805. Church Saint Antoine de Padoue at Place Saint-Antoine but always visible by me as located on the edge of Versailles, not far from the Place de la Loi in Versailles city limit. Here, the stained glass window “The baptism of Saint Anthony”, and the statue of Saint Anthony are to see. This was a new neo-gothic style church. Inaugurated in 1900, it was not finally completed until 1910. Its 51-meter spire is in line with the boulevard du Roi, Versailles. At the apse of the church is a Breton-style Calvary at the foot of which the founding parish priest is buried.

Château du Haut Bel-Air at 158 rue de Versailles (in the back was my boys school!! see pic my twins) Built under Louis XIV to house the fountain maker who watches over the pools of the Bel-Air hill, this castle was enlarged in the 19C by the addition of a fashionable main English style building The most famous of its residents was Dr. Philippe Ricord , a physiologist and doctor of Napoleon III. It was also used as a summer camp in the 1950s. The dovecote is replacing an old single-story building, this hexagonal ornamental dovecote has a stone base and a brick body. And all is current still but found me an old new pic (my boys) that will have below from the school.

le chesnay

Le Chesnay Bel Air school boys coming out c2010

Château du parc Aubert ou Grand Chesnay .This castle is in the shape of a horseshoe, around the courtyard of octagonal shape, closed by a gate and a wrought iron gate. The castle has two levels. The central part has a third level, which makes it the main part. The Château du Grand Chesnay in the Aubert Park begins with the construction of the Château de Versailles which will allow the development of Le Chesnay. Its physiognomy is urbanized in the shadow of the kings of France

Others include the Le Manoir, Château de Bellevue;  Arboretum de Chêvreloup (see post);  Villa Chêvreloup;  Fontaine Jardins Nouvelle France, Old City/town Hall or Mairie;  First City/town Hall/School or Mairie/école,  and Cemetery de Chesnay.

The city of Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt on heritage things to see in French: City of Le Chesnay Rocquencourt on heritage

And yes the bus lines have change alas ! They used to be by letters and now are by numbers but pretty much the same route. Here is the latest on the Versailles, Le Chesnay magical combo for us. There is now Line 1(Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt Louis Pelin – Versailles Université) replaces line B and Ractuelles by serving in particular the Parly 2 shopping center, Place de la Loi, the Notre-Dame market and the three main stations of Versailles (Versailles Rive Droite, Rive Gauche and Chantiers). It also offers direct access to the University! Then, Line 3 (Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt Hôpital A. Mignot Accueil – Versailles Satory) is identical to the route of line A between A. Mignot Hospital and Versailles Satory. We did Line 5 (Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt Coeur de Bourg – Versailles B. de Jussieu) replaces line B in the village of Rocquencourt, in particular with the Parly 2 shopping center and the heart of Versailles (Place du Marché Notre Dame, ave de l’Europe ). And last but not least Line 8 (Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt Parly 2 shopping center – Versailles Les Grands Chênes) replaces the line U by resuming its route between Place Laboulaye, rue de Glatigny, A. Mignot Hospital and Parly 2 shopping center. You can see it all in the Phebus network here: Phebus network of Versailles Le Chesnay bus routes


From the Gare Versailles Chantiers you can take the TGV Ouigo ,and possible to reach Lyon, Avignon, Aix, and Marseille. More here: Oui SNCF TGV line from Versailles Chantiers

The town of le Chesnay-Rocquencourt does not have a train station so the closest ones are Versailles Rive Droite (mine), Vaucresson, and La Celle Saint Cloud that all take you to the Paris Gare Saint Lazare.  The town of Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt is an important highway junction at the intersection of the Autoroute de Normandie A12 / A13 and the Ile-de-France ring road A86.  More info on the ring road here:   Dupleix ring road A86

The Vianavigo transport site in the region of ïle de France for all modes is here in French: Vianavigo transport hub Ile de France

And now I feel better to let you know about a dear place town for us, Le Chesnay, after we left the area it became Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt and bus routes change letters to numbers, time change in all places. However, the memories remain the same, all pleasant times in our lives. Hope you like it as we do

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

April 26, 2020

Mantes La Jolie, dogs on a bridge!

Well back in old familiar territory, and again even if written on the town several times, I missed the dogs and the bridge! Mantes la Jolie or Mantes the beautiful just because of Henri IV well read those posts. I like to tell you about the dogs and the bridge on this one.

The city of Mantes-la-Jolie is in the Yvelines department 78 in the Île-de-France region. It is a medium-sized town on the left bank of the Seine river, 57 km from Paris. 47 km from Versailles, and 85 km from Rouen. It is one of the Royal towns of France, see my several posts on it in my blog.

A bit again on the city of Mantes la Jolie I like

Mantes-la-Jolie is crossed in the east-west direction by D113 It constitutes the main axis of the city with the avenue du Général-de-Gaulle, the boulevard du Maréchal-Juin, and avenue de la République. The city is bypassed to the east by the D 983 road which connects it to Magny-en-Vexin and Houdan. Mantes is also linked to Meulan by the D 190 and to Dreux by the D 928. The A13 autoroute de Normandie runs south of town with exit/sorties 11: Mantes-Est; 12: Mantes-Sud ,and 13: Mantes-Ouest . Really to see the sights the best is exit 11 coming from Paris. A very good road network which yours truly has taken on many occasions. The best places to park is at Parking Hotel de Ville ,place Saint-Jacques and Normandie ,place Henri-Dunant in city center.

The train stations of Mantes-la-Jolie and Mantes-Station are served by line J of the Transilien: Paris-Saint-Lazare – Vernon, via Poissy, by the left bank of the Seine river ; Paris-Saint-Lazare – Bréval, via Poissy, by the left bank of the Seine river; and Paris-Saint-Lazare – Mantes-la-Jolie, via Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, by the right bank of the Seine river. And yes folks taken these too especially the via Poissy lines. There is a TGV line here bypassing Paris: Le Havre – Rouen-Rive-Droite – Mantes-la-Jolie – Versailles-Chantiers – Massy-Palaiseau – Lyon-Part-Dieu – Valence TGV – Avignon TGV – Marseille-Saint-Charles, in the morning towards Marseille and in the evening towards Le Havre. I never need to use this one. However, the train service is good on all J lines and very congested too especially at rush hours.

We had come here to see the monuments of course, but also to go to the market always chasing them all over France! Here there is a nice one with great views of the Collegiate Church Notre Dame. The market is held Wednesdays and Saturdays mornings at the marché Couvert du Vieux Pilori 7h30 to 13h and the Marché Centre Ville fleas right by the place du Marché au Blé, 8h30 to 12h30 , and this is where the Christmas market or Marché de Noêl is held too.  While here we always stop at the le Coq Hardi,  25 pl Marché au Blé ,tel +33 (0) 1 71 48 27 79, its a great brasserie bar, with a nice view over the place marché au Blé just around the corner from the Tour St Maclou.

mantes la jolie

Mantes la Jolie

The Vieux Pont de Limay, its one of the oldest bridges in France; document have it from 1050! It connected the city of Limay to the Ile aux Dames. It had 11 arches but was partially destroyed by French resistance trying to slow down the nazi advance in the area 1940. The original bridge had 37 arches!  Famous by painter Jean-Baptiste Corot, painting of the Pont de Mantes (1868) work that is exhibit at the Louvre . Limited restoration work has been done to try to revive the old bridge, now a newer bridge crosses the river Seine at this junction. This is now the pont de Perronnet bridge (photo).

mantes la jolie

As in many cities in France, the origin of this company of the Arquebusier is linked to the handling of weapons, it started with arrows, bows, crossbows, and finally the arquebuses around 1450. The city of Mantes had a bourgeois militia and an elite company of 20 Arquebusiers. Charles VII, in 1452, granted them privileges. Each Arquebusier company had a motto, for Mantes it was the dogs or “les Chiens“, and across teh bridge , Limay was the wolves or  “les Loups” .

In Mantes, it was said of this company of Arquebusiers that they were “the dogs of Mantes”, this is probably the reason for the choice of Arquebusiers to take this animal as an emblem. These dogs have therefore naturally become the emblems of Mantes la Jolie, two magnificent bronzes sculpted by Bernadette Kanter which sit majestically at the entrance to the city facing Limay who opposed him to the wolves. Here by the porte des poissons or porte de l’Etape they built a house for them as were given special priviledge to serve God and King. Unfortunately the bombs of WWII in 1944 and the rebuilding of the area with a new bridge, the house is no longer here, but the dogs remains!

Mantes La jolie

The city of Mantes la Jolie tourist information office is here in French: City of Mantes tourist information desk

The city of Mantes la Jolie on heritage things to see in French: City of Mantes la Jolie on heritage

So there now cover the royal city of Mantes la Jolie; it is nice to go in daytime and see these marvels after all is on the route Paris to Normandy so many miss out that they remain off the beaten path sights. Hope you enjoy it

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




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