Archive for November 14th, 2020

November 14, 2020

The seafarer town of La Rochelle!!!

And on my black and white series saga this time I take you to La Rochelle. Again, the pictures are on the individual posts on the sights, this is an update, revision of an older post of my first visit. Hope you are enjoying these book type reviews of my belle France!

Wonderful energetic vibrant lively town, I have passed by it and been in it briefly several times and as usual the family comes after. My oldest son studied here in the restaurant/hôtels business and he love it too . We arrive by car of course, driving past Nantes on the A83  going down and then driving by the D937/949/746/165 back for free via La Roche sur Yon, Nantes and home ground. Plenty of parking by the Place de Verdun and the Vieux Port parking areas, and a nice park and relay by Jean Moulin at city entrance.

Oh yes we booked an appart hotel one room all the family, great, at the wonderfully renovated sparkling new clean nice all aboard Odalys Appart’Hotel Archipel at 27 rue de la Huguenotte in the Ville en Bois district.  webpage: http://www.odalys-vacation-rental.com/beach-holidays-france/poitou-charentes/la-rochelle/archipel.html

The appart hotel Odalys was just around the corner of two museum , the automates and the reduits, and you see in the Automates  museum figurines of old publicity periods in working order and they move, they sing etc. You are thrown back to another era with walks by Montmartre. We got out into the Reduits museum this one is of scale models of boats, like the Titanic, the trains, the planes, the cars and motocycles, very nice indeed as it relates more to our adult life. Webpage for both here: https://museeslarochelle.com/index.php?resultat=automates/automates.php

La Rochelle was wonderful on our first full day there, and the second day was no exception if better.  We had out on a tour of the town again, and again, we walk all over, wonderful town full of old wooden houses, and old historial buildings even now used as concert hall like the Oratory or Oratoire where Richelieu gave the first Catholic Mass after taking the town back from the Protestants. We did enjoy the rock scene at the Christmas market by the cours des dames near the vieux port.

We had plans to visit the aquarium as my boys love them, so we hit that first right off opening time at 10h (10am).  We walk into the main section where an elevator takes you down to the Atlantic cell, then more Mediterranean, Oceanique, to the amphitheater , and up again by walkways (there are elevators too) ; you see the corals, the indo pacific ocean, the lagoon, the Caribbean the sharks, go around the cornish  and the tropical jungle, then out back out to the boutique and restaurant on the top floor with great views of the old harbor or vieux port. The site tells you 2 hours are ok but we took 2h30 to see it all. webpage: https://www.aquarium-larochelle.com/en

Another nice museum is the naval museum or musée Maritime ,this is a wonderful home grown museum that shows the sea life in this area typical of the region and France. The sea is everywhere,and this is a seafarer town par excellence!  Since its inception in 1988, the Maritime museum of La Rochelle or Musée Maritime gathered a fleet of 8 ships such as the meteorological frigate France I, the trawler Augoumois, the tug Saint Gilles, the classic trawler, Manuel Joël, Joshua, Bernard Moitessier, the SNSM Commander Leverger , the canoe Ketch, the dredger TD6, and Duperré, and  the major canoe Star. La Rochelle Naval Museum has developed on its quays a reception policy of classic yachts whose owners are committed to sail and race. The project of restoration of the Slipway will complement this dynamic and will give La Rochelle of a tool suitable for the restoration, maintenance of the boats. Just great history for the whole family!!! webpage: https://museemaritime.larochelle.fr/

We continue to walk, and walk is really a walker paradise of quaint old streets and historical buildings. We walked by the tour de la chainetour de St Nicolas, and the scaffold tour de la lanterne ,the great Grosse Horloge at the vieux port,and the halles or market.

And of course the Cathedral St Pierre, and the Church of Saint Sauveur were nice, and a stop by the train station or Gare de La Rochelle, why not! We do the train here too, you know, its not like all my friends think I drive all over, well most places, I do take the trains sometimes, not too many times…we do preferred the car/auto!!

And of course , between all we had time to eat and shop at La Rochelle!

We had some sweets ,snacks at places like the La Panitiére, and  La mie Caline bakery. Finally, we sat for a formal dinner at Quai 22 restaurant, 22, Quai Duperré( sadly by now has closed and its place there is now The  Jolly Sailor)  This was like a metal boat with several floors and the funny anecdote was to find rest room or toilette hahaha.  I got me into the women side, lol!! oh well, those darn beers again; nothing major, the ladies behave lol!  The fish and chips was excellent too the best I had in France, so far.

And of course, some ice creams at D’Jolly, oh yes in zero temps C° !!! and chocolates at l’Atelier du chocolat.  And the boulangerie chain Roger Sicard, the boys tea atInfini Thé, the works!!!

Of course, they saw  Micromania and video games galore! The walk inside the covered market or Halles, the ramparts and the beach or plage de la concurrence. Oh well what a day and night; all wonderful!

In all it was a pleasant visit to La Rochelle ,and now that we know it better, another spot in our favorites map, and one to consider coming back. You too will be enchanted by this seafarer town of La Rochelle.

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

November 14, 2020

The haute Bretagne: Vitré!!!

In here I continue redoing my blog literally , updating and revising old posts with new text, sometimes photos when not repeated to bring these marvels to life. I have really enjoyed doing this and hope my readers too. I will bring you now to Vitré a wonderful castle town in my lovely Bretagne!!

As often the case, when you have so much to see this town needs more visits, haute Bretagne or high Brittany sits in the marshes of medieval times that were the frontier into the dukedom. Vitré is gorgeous and has more porch houses than any other in France!  The town is one of the Arts and History designation, 3 flowers towns , and best detour de France désignations 2012.  It is located South east of Rennes in departément 35 Ille et Vilaine. I am updating from 2014.

The town is about 2 hrs from our home. We took the N157 from Rennes into the D777 to Vitré by car is easy. The day was raining at home both ways but at Vitré it was wonderful a bit cloudy but no rains at all ::) Goes to show you when people ask us about weather,,huh? do not worry  just come and you will be surprise.

We came back to city center Vitré, where we hit right on the Church Saint Martin, imposing on a traffic circle that lines up with the historic center of the town.  The Church was closed but it is imposing and it can be seen from many places in the city. The other nice church was that of Notre Dame Church; nice  with beautiful chapels ,not much in tourist office but needs to see it as it is closer to the castle 

You have the wonderful laundrymat or pré lavandières by the river VIlaine where the wash clothing used to be done; the many wonderful wooden houses and porches the most of any city in France!

The one thing , in fact only second to the castle ,that we love was the jardin du parc or garden of the park, right at the entrance of the historic center, and very near where we park at parking place du champ de foire. This was a noble land that was taken by the city in 1867, and it is even now considered an eco garden designation. It has pagodas, huts, kiosk of music, wonderful lawn gardens , huge wonderful curved trees, and just a pleasure to be and walk; nice in the city center. http://www.mairie-vitre.com/Jardins-et-nature,173.html

It was time for the mid day break a religion in France so we got into it as usual. We had our lunch at Le Chene Vert, 2 pl du Général de Gaulle diagonilly across the train station of Vitré, great tagliatelle with scallops mushrooms and all others with porto rouge as apéro,grimbergen beers, coffee expresso for less than 16€ per person. I have on a newer post that we came back and this resto has closed ,with a new owner/name L’Odorico. So here for the memories.

We got our baguettes, pastries in double chocolat and strawberry caramels, éclairs, tarte à poires, etc at La Petite Marquise. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Bakery/La-Petite-Marquise-Vitr%C3%A9-1684863461803632/

We had some chocolate sticks filled with fruits in chocolaterie Le Derf which we have one closer in Vannes, but they are delicious anywhere. Webpage: https://www.brunolederf.fr/les-boutiques/

And fully loaded, we continue to concentrate on the Château de Vitré, wonderful already with a post on it but here is a brief. The Château de Vitré, this is one of the most remarkable fortress in city center in France, and it is very nice richly decorated . The whole castle is in a parvis that once belongs to a monastery. The castle is done with huge walls surrounding it, and a huge courtyard, now housing the city hall or city govt offices, and a museum up the tour Saint Laurent across the ramparts to Tour de l’Argenterie and finally the tour de l’Oratoire. Each room is name after a famous personality related to the castle. I have been to the city hall on visit not tourism, and this time took the family so we saw the whole thing,and it is a must to visit here and Worth a detour just for it. The museum is loaded and richly shown with nice clean détails of life back then. There each room has a motif related to it like the Salle des Marchands d’Outre Mer saw how the merchants of the old French post lived, then Salle Henri de la Trémouille retraces the founders, Salle Claude-Etienne Savary, with silver utensils, Chapelle Seigneuriale in the tour de l’oratoire or prayers tower with religious objects of great value, Salle Raoul David with paintings of the master with many scènes of castle life, chemin de ronde, a small cozy space for family life and heated; Salle Aimée des Nétumiéres, tapestries and uniform of French nobility. Richly wonderful, Worth the detour for it. Webpage:https://chateau.vitre.bzh/en/home/

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You can continue by going along rue Pasteur at no 15 the museé Saint Nicolas with many more items than on the castle and the old building of the monastery of Saint Nicolas today a training center educational organism.

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We were genuingly impressed with the city layout, cleanliness and joyful ambiance. In addition, the rich historical values in the architecture and visiting places. It has a wonderful hippodrome or racecourse too, evidence of the rich horse tradition here,

We knew the Château de Mme Sévigné was closed for rénovations but we went to see the outside anyway, it is about 5 kms from Vitré on the D88 direction Argentré du Plessis, and right around the golf course of des Rochers. Nice horse country road and pity the rénovations, I past by here sometimes and family was looking forward to see it but it will be next time. It traces the story of Mme Sévigné in Brittany , this is at the Château Des Rochers -Sévigné, and the property extend to include the golf course. webpage: https://bretagne-vitre.com/le-chateau-des-rochers-sevigne/

There you go folks, this was the entry post to the wonderful town of Vitré. There were numerous posts afterward showcasing the different sights above. You can take a closer look of Vitré on them and do visit, worth the detour. Hope it helps

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

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November 14, 2020

Paris,it’s Paris, and with company better!

And I am updating this post for the memories and the friendships one can make in travel forums. I was heavily involved in the forum of many from less known to the world known and over the years I gather some virtual friends and sometimes met them in Paris or Vannes or Versailles. I like to bring one memorable encounter to live in my blog today.

I was to meet a couple from the state of  Georgia USA in Paris that have met thru the travel forums of Virtual Tourist (now part of Tripadvisor) way back in June 2015!

And already by Paris myself with my dear late wife Martine we took advantage to meet the couple. We arrive by car at Gare Saint Lazare and left our car there, we met our friends by the valises statue. If you buy in advance the tariffs is half price from 28€ per day to 14,20€!!! I do it all the time all over at Neoparking ; this has become parking AI now and the Saint Lazare parking is part of the network EFFIA new webpage: https://www.effia.com/parking/parking-paris-gare-saint-lazare-effia

Paris gare saint lazare front 2 apr12

I first took them to Mount Valerien to see the monument to the fallen and the American cemetery there, in addition to the wonderful views all over Paris, the best site to see in Paris! We walked a lot and they were a bit surprise of how much walking we did! I have this souvenir photo

Suresnes mount valerien Georgia VT friends visiting jun15

We first, walked out into Paris with the Georgia couple in tow by going to one of my favorite off the hidden path places in Paris. The Chapelle Expiatoire,(see post) at rue Pasquier just walking down from Saint Lazare cross Haussmann and there it is. Encircle by a nice small park garden this is the old cementary of Madeleine, where during the French revolution many were literally dumped here such as Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette!

The cementary was open already since 1721, but more fame if any from the French revolution period of 1792-1794. Others dumped here were Charlotte Corday and the Girondins deputies. Also, Duchess d’Angoulême oldest daughter of Louis XVI.

During the the end of 1814 once the revolution losses some of its grips, the monarchy tried one more time to come back. this is what happened when a descendent brother still alive (after the oldest son of Louis XVI was mysteriously disappear and never to be found again,Louis XVII) , the brother came back as Louis XVIII, and order the remains of his brother and M-A removed from here and buried at the Basilica of Saint Denis where most of the kings/queens of France are buried now.

Louis XVIII decided to erect a chapel as the same spot where his brother and sister in law were dumped. The first stone for this chapel was put on January 21 1815, the anniversary of the death of Louis XVI;and the building was done in 1826 under the reign of Charles X. It was a controversial spot for many many years, lots of politics and hassle , many times decided to demolished it.  Finally , ironically it was declared a National Monument of France just at the beginning of 1914….

You entered through a large pavilion that takes you to the center of the chapel showing the wishes of Louis XVIII to erect this monument. Once in the vestibule you go through some steps then take you to the inside garden. Here you have the campo santo or saintly field, a garden where it was the execution point of the place during the French revolution, now a sacred spot. You have huge stones as a symbol of souvenir of the courageous Swiss guards executed in 1792 while the arrestation of the king and queen at the Palais des Tuileries (today destroyed but a cause is on to rebuild it, I was on it, but lots of problems raising money). The old site Tuileries.org has now been disconnected really a pity.

You enter the Chapelle with a wonderful inmense dome with religious connotations such as the passion of Christ, Eucharism, trinity, and the tables of the law or commandments. At the entry it shows the transition of the bones from here to the basilica of Saint Denis. You have statues in white marbre representing Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.The will of Louis XVI is written on the black pedestal of the statue. Also, the last letter written to the sister of Louis XVI, madame Elizabeth is written on the marbre (sister also guillotine in 1794, just for being the sister),you can see here house in Versailles 73 rue de Paris). The crypt is reach by stairs at the end of the chapel the black marble altar is where the exact location the bones of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were found. There is a confessional sacristy and lateral galleries of columns. The whole place small park and chapel is what today it is call square Louis XVI created in 1862.

The official webpage of the Chapelle Expiatoirehttp://www.chapelle-expiatoire-paris.fr/en

From here I had promise my friends will take them to another of old job hunts, where we spent many years of good cheers and many family vacation, The Le Grand Hotel intercontinental next to the marvelous Café de la Paix and Opéra Garnier.  I was met there by my old boss!, who as usual took my family and friends on a mini tour of the salon Opéra of the hotel ,historical monument of France, and done by Charles Garnier, the same as the Opéra Garnier, and many others. Also, into the Café de la Paix another historical monument of France where it was reminded the ceilings are worth more than those in the salon inside the hotel. And I worked here in finance management!!!

In all, a wonderful day in Paris, once again ! You are never far from grandeur ,beauty, and good cheers while in Paris. Thanks for the good company of my friends from Georgia USA, and from my old boss who still is as gentle as when worked under him. Merci beaucoup JC.

We departed at the Gare Saint Lazare, and we took our car back home. My friends continue their vacation in Paris. Nice memories indeed and looking forward to more, even at wordpress. Hope you enjoy the post!

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

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