Archive for April 27th, 2020

April 27, 2020

Docks Vauban at Le Havre!

Ok let me bring you back to an off the beaten path city , oh yeah you have heard of it but hardly notice maybe because of the story of been 90% destroyed during WWII! However, this is the spirit of Le Havre it is back and even noted by Unesco! You should give it a try as we had several times and we like it. Le Havre is in department 76 Seine-Maritime of the region of Normandie.

I have written several posts on its monuments but need to tell you about a popular spot for my family, of course shopping! And the malls , but this one with a historic background and architecturally stunning. The Docks Vauban! Let me tell you a bit on it ok.

le havre

The Vauban basin is located near the entrance to the city center, surrounded by the train station, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Vauban docks shopping center. It was built in 1840-1843 and at that time accommodated boats carrying coal. The Vauban basin is the first of the basins beyond the old ramparts to be built. Inaugurated in 1841 for its western part, it will be finished in 1843 for the eastern part. Two banks, two quays, Quai Colbert and Quai Frissard. It was the Quai Colbert which was the first to be activated. South of the basin, first known as Quai Vauban, it became Quai Frissard in 1886. Since 2012, part of the basin has been converted into a marina call Port Vauban. A floating pedestrian bridge (gateway) makes it possible to cross it and join the Vauban docks at the station. The basin is 800 meters long and 90 meters wide.

Started in 1846, the construction of warehouse docks spanned several years until 1884. These first docks in France were used to store goods in transit such as cotton, coffee and spices. They survived the bombings of WWII. The buildings have been rehabilitated and transformed. They are made of bricks, slates and cover glass. They welcome shops, restaurants, cafes and cinemas. The project involved refurbishing and extending 13 huge buildings (60 metres long, 25 metres wide and 12 metres high); their brick and timber structures support roof structures in timber or steel; they are linked together by courtyards and glass-roofed passageways, laid out in a regular pattern.   The main arcades are designed to accommodate a mixture of lifestyle shopping, restaurants and market stalls following such precedents as Covent Garden, London and Faneuil Market Boston. The new interventions are contemporary in design juxtaposed with the grandeur of the historic warehouses. The south side has the main restaurant frontage overlooking the new marina. The night zone, for its part, offers a 12-screen multiplex cinema, a bar, restaurants, terrace cafés etc.There are also two new car parks, with car elevator/lifts, providing 1,094 parking spaces.

The shopping and leisure center Docks Vauban mall form part of larger mixed-use development which combine housing, workplaces, leisure complexe and cultural centre. It hosts Le Havre’s first branches of H&M, Saturn, La Grande Récré, G Star, Quiksilver, Levi’s, Du Pareil au Même and New Yorker stores. It ,also has our favorites Adidas, Foot Locker, Old Wild West restaurant, Columbus Café, and DeNeuville French chocolates.

The wonderful shopping center Docks Vauban webpage in French here:Docks Vauban shopping mall

You can get there by public transport LiA of Le Havre you can come here by the Tramway lines A and B, station “Gares” with access 5 minutes via the gateway Vauban Basin. By Bus lines   3 and 8, stop “Docks Vauban”. Lines 6 and 9, stop “stations” with 5 minutes access through the gateway of the Bassin Vauban. Lines 5, stop “Colbert” with 5 minutes from the dock. By the road coming from Rouen or Paris by the A13 , access is straightforward and it is not necessary to go through the city center. Many hotel car park (mall and effia) are around the basins of Vatine and Vauban. The A13 link up with the A131 to the Pont de Tancarville cross it continue right into Le Havre on the same road now name D282/D6015/ Bd de Leningrad to the Quai Colbert you have the parking EFFIA as below and over the basin is the Docks Vauban mall!

le havre

convenient money ATM lol !!!

The public transport LiA of Le Havre in French: Le Havre public transport network LiA

You can come by car as we do, and have the choice of the mall underground or the EFFIA Vauban parking we prefer as we do walk around from the mall into the city, easy walk. The parking for reference is here: Official EFFIA parking Vauban Le Havre

The city of Le Havre is nice and pretty now, on the city page of Le Havre you can see wonderful pictures my amateur rank will never make. City of Le Havre stunning maritime views

For brief info there is a shopping center in city center le Havre we have been but its for us just another mall, we much prefer the Docks Vauban, however, it would be worth mentioned it here for the shopper inclined in all of us!

L’Espace Coty is accessable from 5 doors with a nice FNAC reason we came in. It was done in 1995 ,name after  René Coty, President of the French Republic (France official name) from 1954-1959 who is a native of Le Havre. The webpage is here in French: Espace Coty shopping center

Le Havre

As it is my favorite form of painting, the impressionists! and Normandy has several including a Honfleur native and Le Havre resident Eugéne Boudin who painted The Vauban Basin at Havre c.1865;  see it at the local museum Musée d’art moderne André Malraux – MuMa!!

Hope you enjoy the shopping with a maritime look , wonderfully relax in my belle France and discover again Le Havre.

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

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April 27, 2020

Place Floquet at St Jean Pied de Port!

Well the title says Place Floquet but it could easily be the off the beaten path of  Saint Jean de Pied in the Basque country of France. This is a memorable spot where we have followed a local store even when they are visiting my now Morbihan breton for the gastronomic fairs. I have several posts on Saint Jean Pied de  Port but would like to tell you a bit about a spot in town.

We visited the town and saw the monuments as written in previous posts. However, there is one spot very dear to us and this is the reason of this post. Let me tell you a bit on the Place Floquet and al.

The square Floquet is name after  Charles Floquet, born at No. 33 rue de la Citadelle (1828-1896), a Republican lawyer who was a minister under the Third Republic. Here you now have a wonderful upper park which is part of the square and same name.

Saint Jean Pied de Port

There are many nice shops around here many of which we have patronized on our trips to Saint Jean Pied de Port such as

At 16 Place Floquet , the quaint nice  Hotel des  Remparts, very picturesque and should be a nice stayed here, not tried as we come usually from Toulouse or Pau for the day.  There is also, the Hôtel-Restaurant Etche Ona, at 15 place Floquet.

To eat, snack, apéro à la Française we came to the popular  Café Ttipia 2, place Floquet, that locals call Chez Peio.  Iberian plates, homemade cold meats, long wooden tables inside, large screen for match days like in rugby, and a beautiful terrace under the foliage. At Peio  you lives the countryside.

For a more refine cuisine come to the wonderful Restaurant Café de la Paix, traditional and typical basque cuisine, in the heart of the city at 4 Place Floquet. For eat out , take home the wonderful cold cuts of the Basques at La Ferme Elizaldia with homemade cold meats and regularly awarded Bayonne ham at 14 place Floquet .

For the shopper inclined this is heavens as well, with the wonderful linens and ready to wear at Galeries de Garazi, 7 place Floquet and Miss Tinguette at 5 place Floquet.

The Place Floquet is a popular bus station in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port served by ALSA and BlaBlaCar stop at 18 Place Floquet. There is nice parking right here at place Floquet! free!!!

Saint Jean Pied de Port

Time for a bit more on the town of Saint Jean Pied de Port!

Saint Jean Pied de Port with its streets paved with pink sandstone from the flanks of the Arradoy; tall houses with Basque red half-timbering and engraved lintels; an impregnable citadel built by the precursors of Vauban, and La Nive which rolls its white water flush with the bridges in the direction of the Adour. 8 km from the Spanish border, you will understand at first glance why this modest capital of Lower Navarre the most visited town in this area.

It was baptized Donibane Garazi in Basque, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port was indeed founded at the end of the 12C in order to protect the passage of the river and the access to the passes of Roncevaux and Bentarte. This is why Charles II of Navarre purposely called it “the key to my kingdom”. Judiciously placed equidistant from Puy-en-Velay and Santiago de Compostela at about 800 km, it is, in all seasons, the obligatory crossing point for pilgrims of Saint-James (Santiago), who very often end the first section of their path there, or else their journey to Spain begins there. The welcome house is at , 39 rue de la Citadelle and the boutique des Pelerins is at 32 rue de la  Citadelle.

And our fav store here which we always stop by and follow them on fairs around France especially right in Vannes, Morbihan our capital city and by now good customers and friend of the house.  The Maison Gastellou! with the best shop at 9 rue d’Espagne short straight walk to Place Floquet where we sat in the park above Place Floquet to have our lunch with a view of the city! Here you come for the Bayonne ham, Roncal brebis(ewe) (goat) cheese, basque sangria with piment espelettes,and delicious cherry and apple gateau basque or basque cakes!!

Peasants, farmers, breeders for several generations at the Poutzia farm located in Saint-Jean-le-Vieux,(where there is now a very good market, and we loaded on Irouléguy wines and Ossau-Iraty goat cheese)  the Gastellou family raises, prepares, cooks and conditions all of its production according to the rules of the art, while respecting tradition. You have to see the context in which calves, cows and other pigs evolve (visit by appointment)! Twenty hectares of forests, far from industrial farming chains. We find in the butcher’s shop rue d’Espagne, the company’s parent company, the Gastellou spirit. Aquitaine blonde, Bayonne and Garazi dry hams, Basque sausages, chorizos, ventrèches, rillettes, pâtés and Basque sausages but also many dishes cooked in jars, without forgetting the essential Ossau-Iraty cheeses from local producers. Finally, and from a recipe kept jealously secret, Basque cakes with cream and whole cherries, simply exceptional, homemade in line with the products mentioned above. It’s 4 shops and an online site that offer all the products.

Their official webpage is here: Maison Gastellou

Saint Jean Pied de Port

Saint Jean Pied de Port

Saint Jean Pied de Port

You get here by car best of course. The different options are given officially here. From Bordeaux via the A 63 highway/motorway: Exit Bayonne then 50 km via Bayonne, Cambo les Bains on the D 932 road. From Toulouse via the A 64 highway/motorway: Exit Orthez / Salies de Béarn then 60 km via Orthez, Salies de Béarn and Saint-Palais via de D 933 road. From Pau via A 64 and D 933: via Orthez and Saint-Palais. From Bayonne by D 932 and from Pamplona in Spain by the C135 and D933: via Roncevaux and Arnéguy.

The train station for the TGV is at Bayonne rain station ,the TGV from Paris, Talgo to Madrid, and the Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port SNCF station:at Avenue Renaud. Closest airport but never come this way so need to inquire as to how to get to SJPP, Bayonne-Anglet-Biarritz International Airport: Pau-Pyrénées International Airport; San Sebastian International Airport: Spain, Bilbao International Airport Spain: all in Basque country.

For the anecdote I have come here from Pau and Lacanau-Océan. From Pau we came by Gan on the N134 then Oloron Sainte Marie here we took the D919 to pass by Aramits , yes the town of the muskeeteer! we took the D26 to go further up into the mountains to Larrau and after the D19 then D18 to Saint Jean Le Vieux and hook up with the D933 to Saint Jean Pied de Port! All along the Pyrénées very high mountain roads sometimes on second gear! a thrill see my post on the roads here.

From Lacanau-Océan in the Médoc of Bordeaux we took the D5 to hook up with the autoroute A63 aka Route des Estuaires and around Bayonne we took the D932 direction Cambo les Bains and then Saint Jean Pied de Port! Hope it helps

Some further webpages to help you plan your trip here and its a must me think are

City of St Jean Pied de Port on heritage in French: City of St Jean Pied de Port

Tourist office of St Jean Pied de Port: Tourist office of Saint Jean Pied de Port

The Xacobeo French camino to Santiago de Compostela in French: Xacobeo camino de Santiago from St Jean Pied de Port

And Saint Jean Pied de Port is one of the most beautiful villages of FranceLes Plus Beaux Villages de France on St Jean Pied de Port

There you go a wonderful town to visit and most often due to the camino to Santiago but it needs to be seen other ways like we did up close and personal for a wonderful memorable experience for all; see Saint Jean Pied de Port!

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

April 27, 2020

Church St Vincent, Thouare sur Loire!

So here I am taking you to wine country of Pays Nantais not far from Nantes into the Muscadet domaines. I come here often as do get my wines from the region and this towns is tops. However, after telling you about the wonderful wines and wine tastings tours ,I need to tell you about the other nice monument in Thouaré sur Loire.

Thouaré-sur-Loire is located in the Loire-Atlantique department no. 44 , in the Pays de la Loire region. Historically, Thouaré-sur-Loire was part of Brittany and the Nantes region. The Breton name of the town is “Tarvieg”. Still shows adherence to Brittany by the locals.  Thouaré-sur-Loire is located on the north bank of the Loire river , 10 km from Nantes. Passing on the north of the town is the D923 road  with the town of Carquefou; to the south, the Loire, with the town of Saint-Julien-de-Concelles.

The city of Thouaré sur Loire on the town’s history and heritage in French is here: City of Thouaré sur Loire on heritage

There is not much written on the monument I like to tell you a bit on it. Luckily by been there I have brochures on the Church of Saint Vincent of Thouaré sur Loire.

thouare sur loire

The current Church Saint Vincent was built between 1861 and 1863, was like its elder who was located near the castle, dedicated to Saint Vincent. Saint Vincent has been venerated in the parish for over 500 years. The archives tell us that a foundation had been created in his honor by the lords of Thouaré from the beginning of the 15C. The name of Saint Vincent, patron saint of winegrowers, recalls that the culture of the vine was once very developed in Thouaré. the church has a 170 cm tall limestone statue of Saint Vincent recalling the name of the church.

thouare sur loire

The general layout of the Church Saint Vincent is in the form of a Latin cross. The architecture in neo-Gothic style, does not present any real originality. Here, no pillar or superfluous ornaments; simplicity and sobriety prevail. Let us not forget that Thouaré was then a modest rural town which had a little less than a thousand inhabitants. The two side altars located in the transept, on either side of the nave, are dedicated to the Virgin Mary and to Saint Joseph. The interior of the church benefits from relatively abundant natural light. This impression of luminosity is reinforced by the light colored walls and vaults. The church can accommodate around 500 seated persons.

thouare sur loire

The bell tower of St Vincent Church was from its construction, equipped with a bell called Rogatienne Marie Emilie Pauline. It weighs 537 kilos and rings the ground call. At the back of the choir, on the central window, is the Sacré-Coeur. This stained glass window was offered in 1875 by several parishioners who wished to remain anonymous. The stained glass windows of the Holy Virgin and Saint Joseph The St Vincent Church has several remarkable banners: The oldest, white in color, was offered by the young people of the parish at the end of the mission preached in 1875. Another, in red silk velvet all embroidered with gold and fine silver, dates from 1884. It presents on one side the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and on the other the image of Saint Vincent, patron of Thouaré.

You can see the presence of a 6 meters by 3.50 meters fresco in the left transept. It commemorates the trip that Notre Dame de Boulogne made on the Loire on June 4, 1944. It was painted by Paul Lemasson, a pupil of the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris. Blessed on September 8, 1946, the fresco represents some portraits of local Thouaréens, in particular most of those who disappeared during WWII.

And there a nice stop on your way to the wines and do appreciate the architecture and history of this church in a winegrowers’ town of Thouaré sur Loire or Thouaré on the Loire river. A wonderful trip each time along the river Loire and quaint Thouaré sur Loire. Hope you enjoy the post as I do

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

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