Archive for August 2nd, 2020

August 2, 2020

Lorient: submarines and museum!

So there you go another site vastly overlooked by yours truly in my blog. I have written several posts on Lorient but the coverage on its submariners’ history and museum was vastly overlooked me think. Therefore, let me tell you a bit more on Lorient and its submarine museum and history!

Lorient is a sub prefecture regional  government city for the department of Morbihan 56 in Bretagne, and very close to me, in fact is about equal distance to Vannes as well and even thus we come to Lorient often, the habit is to go to Vannes most of the time. Here, there is an underwater Museum of the Pays de Lorient, presenting the underwater heritage of  WWII within the oldest rescue center for submariners built in 1942 by the Kriegsmarine (or nazi navy), then reused for 42 years by the National Navy of France. The submarine “La Flore” S645, the former submarine of the French Army ,with an interactive museum ending with a visit of the submarine. Sublime for the lovers of history and seafaring!

Lorient

The museum features a fine collection of films, archive images, scale models, eye-witness accounts and unusual objects recovered from the Lorient coast from the 40 or so ships that were wrecked or scuttled during WWII. The Flore submarine is an old submarine disarmed in 1989 which is kept for its heritage, and to tell a history of Europe. A gateway allows you to bypass the submarine to admire it from the outside. Get on board! Using an audio guide, former submariners accompany you during your visit of the submarine, and you deliver their stories and the secrets of life on board. Opening in 1999 of the first visitation area in the heart of the Keroman submarine base, within the oldest submarine rescue center in the world, the former nazi tauchtopff renamed Davis Tower by the French Navy after the war. In a totally extraordinary place, where for five decades successive generations of submariners trained in shipwrecks, the Underwater Museum had just found its showcase on land to allow all visitors to “dive” into the history of war of WWII in the Pays de Lorient.

Lorient

The museum on submarine Flore info in English here: Submarine Flore museum at Lorient

The association of friends on the submarine museum in French with a lot more info here: Submarine museum of Lorient

However, for the history buff in me, this is the real story and a must to come to the museum me think. The Submarine base of Lorient.

The Keroman submarine base is a WWII bunker complex located in Lorient , Morbihan dept 56 of Bretagne in my belle France. It occupies the end of the Keroman peninsula, in the bay of Lorient and overlooks the Bay of Biscay. It took the basic name of General Engineer Submarines Stosskopf in 1946.  Built between 1941 and 1944 by Nazi Germany during the Occupation, it was then intended to house the 2nd and 10th U-boat flotillas of the Kriegsmarine (nazi navy), while being part of the device of the Atlantic Wall. Its presence is the cause of the destruction of the city of Lorient by the British and American air forces in January and February 1943, then of the late surrender of the Lorient pocket on May 10, 1945.  The submarine base was taken over by the French Navy after the conflict and was used until 1997 as a submarine base. Since the end of the 1990s, the site has been converted into a nautical center specializing in yachting and offshore racing. It also hosts a business center focused on the maritime world, a museum housed in the Flore submarine, as well as the Éric Tabarly cite du voile (see post). The complex is made up of three bunkers, Keroman I, II and III, two Dom-Bunkers located in the area of the Keroman fishing port, as well as a bunker located in Lanester, on the banks of the Scorff river. The three Keroman bunkers have between five and seven cells intended to accommodate U-boats, covered by roofs 3.5 meters thick for the K1 and K2 models, and 7.5 meters for the K3 model submarine.

Lorient

The city recovered its status of maritime prefecture by a decree of May 20, 1939, and had before the start of the war a garrison of nearly 5,600 sailors and a military arsenal employing some 5,000 workers, for a population of the agglomeration of 60,000 inhabitants. The city of Lorient is used as a base of fallback against the nazi advance in June 1940. The gold of the Belgian and Polish national banks is evacuated by its port on June 17 and 18, 1940. The same day, Admiral François Darlan, then withdrawn to Bordeaux, ordered the local forces to resist the nazi advance. Vice-Admiral Penfentenyo, who is in charge of the city, applies the scorched earth policy: the oil tanks in the city’s ports are set on fire, ammunition is drowned in the roadstead and the doors of the refit basins of the city. Its arsenal are blown up. On June 21, 1940, the nazi troops, which regrouped in Quimperlé, attacked Guidel. The city of Lorient falls on the same day.

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At the beginning of June 1940, the konteradmiral (rear admiral) Karl Dönitz , He decided to establish his headquarters as well as the 2nd U-boat flotilla in the city of Lorient on June 28, 1940: the latter is equipped with modern facilities, is connected by rail and is less exposed to British strikes than Brest. Dönitz moved to a villa in the Kernével district of Larmor-Plage (see post) on October 16, 1940, facing the Keroman peninsula. A first attack by 12 British bombers reached Lorient on August 22 and 23, 1940. Hitler approved the construction plan of the submarine base asked by Dönitz on December 23, 1940 The site of the Keroman peninsula was chosen to accommodate the future base. Almost a million cubic meters of concrete are used to build the fortress, which is almost a quarter of the concrete worked in France for the nazi military effort.

The insufficient size of Keroman’s first two bunkers does not allow them to accommodate certain U-boats such as type IX D and type X B which are too long for these installations, or even type XXI which are too high for them. The decision was therefore taken to build a third bunker, Keroman III, during Fritz Todt’s visit to Lorient on March 10, 1941. Work began in October 1941 and the building was operational in February 1943. The defense perimeter extended. on a strip of 24 km inland and also includes the naval air base of Lann-Bihoué (now Lorient airport). Nearly 400 blockhouses, machine gun nests, or even watchtowers were built between the mouth of the Laïta river and that of the Etel river. The commissioning of U-boats type XXI requires the creation of new bunkers because of their height. The Lorient base is the only one on the Atlantic coast to accommodate them; the construction of new facilities, Keroman IVa and Keroman IVb, was launched in the summer of 1943 to accommodate 24 of these U-boats. The construction of Keroman IVa was however slowed down by the lack of materials and labor and even had to be stopped on April 24, 1944; only the walls of two cells and the one making the interface with Keroman I have been completed. On the other hand, the construction of Keroman IVb does not go further than the work of digging the foundations and beginning of formwork of some cell walls.

The two Dom-Bunkers were built around the slipway of the fishing port from February 1941. They are made in six sections and measure 81 meters long, 16 meters wide and 25 meters high. The walls are 1.5 meters thick and their roofs have an ogive profile, so as to reduce the effect of the bombs. The Keromen I ,originally designed to accommodate U-boats when they are being repaired after they have been mounted on the slipway, they are not very practical in use and are converted into workshops, then into warehouses. It measures 120 meters long and 85 meters wide, has five cells and a covered slipway. Its roof initially consists of a reinforced concrete structure of 3.50 meters. It was enlarged in 1942 by the addition on its rear part of a technical section 81.7 meters long and 23 meters wide intended to accommodate electric generators and by the addition of a drive tower equipped with a 7 meters tank allowing sub- boatmen to simulate evacuation maneuvers. The Keromen II was 120 meters long and 138 meters wide and has seven cells, and was completed in December 1941.  Its roof has the same characteristics as that of Keroman I, with the exception of the DCA sites. It was extended in 1942 by the addition, on its rear part, of a technical part 57.42 meters long and 24 meters wide intended to accommodate electrical transformers. The Keroman III measure 138 meters long and 170 meters wide and has seven cells: two 95 meters long, three 98.5 meters long, and two 84 meters long.  Started in October 1941, the new bunker was completed in January 1943.

The Keroman base also served three times as a port of call for submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy, then an ally of Nazi Germany, between August 1942 and 1944: the I-30, the I-8, and the I-29. Of the three submarines that joined Keroman, only the I-8 managed to return safely to Japan in December 1943.

The Lorient pocket surrendered on May 10, 1945 after a nine-month siege, and the French forces recovered the base in perfect working order. On July 6, 1946, the base took the name of “General Engineer Stosskopf” . At the beginning of the 1970s, the French General Staff decided to gradually replace its classic attack submarines with nuclear attack submarines until the beginning of the 21C. As the Lorient base does not have a nuclear fuel-processing site, it was closed in the early 2000s. La Sirène is the last submarine to pass through the construction sites and leaves the site on the 11th. February 1997 for Toulon.

The bunkers are preserved because of their heritage value and the cost of their destruction, estimated at 31 million euros. It was decided to constitute within its space, a center on “man and the sea in the 21C” structured in five poles: offshore racing, naval strategies, prevention of risks at sea, underwater archeology, and fishing and aquaculture. And indeed the whole area feels the sea ,the mariners, and the history of submarines. Hope you have enjoy the tour and the history of it as we do.

A French site U Boote on more detail of the history of this former submarine base is here: U Boote on Lorient submarine base

And the Lorient south Bretagne tourist office on the visit of the submarine base in French: Lorient south Bretagne tourist office on the submarine base of Lorient

Lorient

And now I feel better! You have another wonderful huge monument near me on the history of France, Europe, and the World never to be repeated again. However, a visit to the Lorient submarine base and museum is a must by all those who like us appreciated the effort. Hope you enjoy it.

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

August 2, 2020

Landévant: Church Saint Martin!

And I will be around the beautiful Morbihan dept 56 of my lovely Bretagne in my belle France for the next posts. I have look deep into my blog ,and found many posts needed a refresher and just went out to get new pictures! My road warrior template got me going and having a blast with the boys on each town. The Morbihan rocks!

I have , also, refresh the text done in previous posts with new information so therefore, a new post. Hope you enjoy my tour of Landévant and the Church of Saint Martin!

landevant

Landévant is located between Lorient and Vannes on the N165 expressway , and very near me as I go by here on the D16 , then D33 when going out to the Finistére dept 29. The town is at the north end of the Étel river. In 1790, Landévant became an independent town! Landévant was a dismemberment of the former parish of Pluvigner (my town). In 1795, takes place the battle of Landévant where several thousands Chouans (rebel for king against the French revolution) obtained victory over the Republican troops( French revolutionaries).

The Church of St. Martin built in 1834. It replaces a 15C Church that has preserved a few animal sculptures. Some carved stones from the old church have been preserved, embedded in the south wall and fragments of inscriptions in Gothic characters giving dates 1413 and 1422.

landevant ch st martin side belltower aug20

The first church dates back to the 15C, we learn that the first bell tower was completed in 1512. The new church was built in 1834 according to the date shown on the gable of the chevet The new bell tower, built in 1857, and adorned with Doric, Ionic and Corinthian pilasters, is crowned by a stone spire The sacristy is contemporary with the church The south porch destroyed during WWII was rebuilt around 1950. A wooden cross was erected 1920, date carried on the plinth as the church is built in coated rubble stone following a Latin cross plan. Many sculptures are reused from the old church: on the apse above the date of 1834 protected by a drip edge two round coats of arms, now smooth in alliance in a crown of order; on the crawlers of the bedside, the remains of an unidentified animal. An axis sacristy on the ground floor is attached to the bedside.

landevant

You have a bit on the town’s webpage on its heritage here: Town of Landevant on its heritage

The tourist office of the Bay of Quiberon on LandévantTourist office of the Bay of Quiberon on Landevant

This is one of those town, you passed every day by it but hardly ever stop. Well have done that for the benefit of my blog and my readers. Landevant is not a tourist town but a rest stop would be fine in its city center by the church. It is historical for sure locally and has nice architecture which I like. Hope it helps

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

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August 2, 2020

Vannes: Porte Saint Vincent!

Well, here I go again. Do not know why not written a post on this fabolous gate of my dear Vannes in the Morbihan breton dept 56 of my adopted Bretagne. So many posts ,and brief mentions but with such an important icon of Vannes ,it deserves a post of its own. Therefore, here is my rendition on the Porte Saint Vincent!

The ramparts of the city of Vannes were, in the last century, first pierced with 3, then 4, then 6 gates, namely: the so-called Saint-Patern gate, then the Prison gate; de Notre-Dame, rue Notre-Dame, then rue de la Préfecture; de Saint-Salomon, demolished in 1790; the North Gate, opened in the 17C, and the Poterne Gate, which was opened around the same time. Another door remains to be noted, it is the one which received the name of Saint-Vincent.

vannes

In 1418, Jean V, Duke of Brittany, brought in from Spain a renowned preacher to put the inhabitants of Vannes back on the right path to the Church: it was Vincent Ferrier, originally from Valencia (see post). A true cult was dedicated to him after his canonization in 1455. The Saint-Vincent gate, the Place Valencia square , rue Saint Vincent , a Church, and in a chapel to his glory in the Saint-Pierre Cathedral still bear witness to the strong imprint he left in the city. On April 5, 1419, Vincent Ferrier died in the house which today bears the number 17  Place Valencia. On the south side of Saint-Pierre Cathedral, one of the five chapels is the one dedicated to Saint Vincent Ferrier and which, since 1456, has contained his holy relics.

vannes

More on the St Pierre Cathedral and the Chapel of Saint VincentCathedrale St Pierre on the Chapel of Saint Vincent

The successive tides of the gulf damaged the base of the gate and its structure showed serious deterioration at the beginning of the 18C. The gate was repaired in 1727. The gate was completely taken over in 1747 and work had it retained the original façade, but removes the roof and the upper room. In the central niche, a statue dating from 1891 of Saint Vincent Ferrier recalls the importance of this preacher in the history of Vannes. The arms of the city are carved in granite on the same date. The original stone or marble statue of the saint, placed in 1624, made in Nantes by the Vannes painter Guillaume Lemarchand and replaced during the French revolution by that of a sans-culotte, has disappeared. What you see now is a duplicata. He is the Patron Saint of the city of Vannes and of the Comunity of Valencia, Spain. His native house there now a museum is at Pouet de San Vicent, 1. Valencia

Vannes

The Porte Saint-Vincent gate is a city gate pierced between the end of the 16C and the beginning of the 17C. It is the main entrance to the old town of Vannes. Integrated into the ramparts of the city, the gate located to the north of the port and Place Gambetta was originally intended to allow port workers access to the walled city. For nearly two centuries, access to the gate was via a bridge (also called Saint-Vincent) which will be replaced by a semi-hemispherical square: the Place du Morbihan, current Place Gambetta.

vannes

It was under the League, between the end of the 16C and the beginning of the 17C, that an opening was pierced to the south of the ramparts for communication with the port. It is the Kraër-Calmont gate, named after the two districts of the city located respectively to the south-west and south-east of the city. The gate replaces fortifications from the 14C and 16C. The last vestiges of these fortifications; the bastion, gate and tower of Gréguennic, still exist today behind the left part of Place Gambetta. Between 1620 and 1624, at the expense of the work of the bridge and the Kaër-Calmont gate. Once the work was completed, the gate was renamed Porte Saint-Vincent in homage to the preacher Saint Vincent Ferrier.

Vannes

The Porte Saint-Vincent is a gate in cut stone of granite architecture with three spans framed by columns and three levels. On the lower level, the carriage door is framed by two narrow bays, one blind, the other open by a pedestrian door. Two niches open on the second level in the side bays, framing the arms of the city. The third level consists of a median niche framed by volutes.

There is a bit more on it on the city of Vannes, porte Saint Vincent in French: City of Vannes on Porte Saint Vincent

Upon arriving at Vannes by boat or car, coach/bus and want to go to the old town, the most magnificent entrance is by this gate from Le Port marina. We have have gone in from any angle but still the Porte Saint Vincent is the most beautiful way to see old Vannes. Hope you enjoy it

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

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August 2, 2020

Vannes:Music convervatory by the port!

And here I am in my beloved Vannes again. The capital city of the Morbihan dept 56 of my lovely Bretagne. I work not far from city center on the outskirts in a ruin castle from 1504! However, lived about 30 minutes from it nevertheless ,believe spent more time here than anywhere else. This is a city untouch by the events of wars so original!

I have have touch base on the music conservatory before but not enough me think. So some extra photos and a real post on a wonderful monument of Vannes. Here is my take on it, hope you enjoy it.

I always get a glimpse on the conservatory of music in le Port harbor area in Vannes. The architecture attracts my eye each time. One of the nice things to see in Vannes even if not a tourist site per se, entrance for a peek is allowed. The conservatoire de musique as well as théatre et arts plastiques . Founded on the convent of the Carmelites. At least, most is preserved now for all to enjoy the view over the harbor.

vannes

The Conservatoire de Musique or Music Conservatory is a conservatory with departmental influence and controlled by the State. It is financed by the city of Vannes, the general council of Morbihan and the regional council of Brittany.

It sits first as a Carmelite convent in Vannes been the first house of the Order of Carmel in Brittany, which was not yet part of the kingdom of France. Founded in 1425 by Duke Jean IV of Brittany, it was followed, some forty years later in 1463 by the first female Carmelite in Brittany, founded by the Duchess Françoise d’Amboise, widow of Duke Pierre II.

Vannes

Eventually, here , the land was donated at the beginning of the 17C to the Discalced Carmelites by Jean Morin (the president of the Presidial) and his wife Jeanne Huteau. The monks built a first church there in 1629, then, the following year, the first convent buildings, including the monks’ outbuildings and a cloister. Noting architectural weaknesses at the start of the 18C, the decision was taken to demolish and then rebuild the church on the same site. This second construction was completed in 1737; the choir was also rebuilt in 1865. Seized during the French revolution, when it is no longer occupied that by only 12 religious, it passed through several hands, it ended up being acquired by the city of Vannes. The city set up a museum there until 1945, then a college (middle school). It changed destination one last time, when the National Music School moved there in 1981.

vannes

The city of Vannes on the history of the convent of Carmelites now conservatory of music in French here: City of Vannes on the convent of Carmelites

Thanks to the artistic workshops and the conservatory, the city of Vannes offers you a wide choice of disciplines, such as music, theater, singing, plastic arts, etc. to study throughout the year and whatever your level.   For many, the conservatory trains future music professionals. This is partly true, but the students who want to obtain the musical studies diploma giving access to higher education represent only 1% of the graduates. The leisure practice is largely the majority   The average annual price of a course is 350 €. It is not more expensive than some sports clubs. The viola da gamba and the harpsichord are the most popular lessons for young people. Overall, the guitar and piano lessons are always the most in demand. As told by the Director of the Conservatory.

For a beginner musician, they offer two hours of lessons each week: one hour of practice of the instrument with, since this return, a share of collective learning to have fun together , and one hour of musical training during which yuo learn the grammar of music, the rhythm, etc. The objective is to make the pupil autonomous.

vannes

The city of Vannes on the shops ateliers of the Conservatory of Music in French here: City of Vannes on the conservatory of music ateliers

Further, by the Gulf of Morbihan tourist office on the Carmelite auditorium with a nice picture only by those there as not open to the public in French here: Gulf of Morbihan tourist office on auditorium of Carmelites

And there you go folks, another dandy monument in my dandy capital city of Vannes. The Conservatory of Music is worth going in even if just to look at wonderfully preserved for all. Hope you enjoy the post.

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

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