Archive for January 2nd, 2021

January 2, 2021

A bit of impressionism at Bougival!

Ok so another memory lane from my vault of older posts. Here while in the Yvelines dept 78 and living in Versailles we moved about and decided for a couple of years my older boy wanted to have his birthdays celebrated in Bougival so there we went and now a family souvenir! Let me tell you a bit more of it ok.

Again on the trails and enjoying all my travels with the family. I will tell you about a place that even if we passed by and had my boys birthdays (Chez Clement now closed) done there along the Seine river, we really never took the walk to see it in depth. However, it is part of our trailblazing in my belle France. And now looking back without our dear late wife Martine these memories feels huge, so nice to remember the good!



I am talking about Bougival  in department 78 Yvelines in the ïle de France region. Bougival is located east of Saint Germain en Laye and north of Versailles, not bad at all ::) It is on the left bank of the Seine river and only 20 km from Paris. It is a hilly town, with only about 24 meters elevation by the levies of the river to as high as 110 meters by the train station. It ,also, has part of the forest domaniale of Louveciennes as part of the city limits.

To get around is easy along the Seine river, on the wonderful D113 (my old N13) and also by the D321  passing the bridge of  Bougival that connects to Croissy-sur Seine (almost lived here but chose Versailles lol!) . Bougival can also be reach by the autoroutes or expressways A86 (exit Rueil Malmaison) then the D113 along the Seine river direction Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The A13 autoroute de Normandie  exit Saint-Germain-en-Laye, then the  N186  until Port-Marly ,and the D113 to  Bougival. There is the nice D321 going from Versailles to Croissy sur Seine and passing by Bougival. All these roads greatly traveled by yours truly. The train station ,never taken here,  is on the line from Paris Saint Lazare to Saint Nom la Bretéche  and located in the town of La Celle-Saint-Cloud.

A bit of history I like

The territory now where Bougival is today was divided in two sections one was Bougival , and the other La Chaussée-Charlevanne, aka La Chaussée, or even Charlevanne.  Documents have been found mentioning Charlevanne before the 9C while Bougival was from the 13C.

In the 12C, war against the king of England by king Louis VI the Fat was decided to built Charlevanne,as a fortress to block the incursions ; on the insistant of the priory of Saint Germain en Laye , Louis VI abandoned these plans and gives the land to the monks of the Church. In 1273, Philippe le Hardi, abandon the rigths of Justice and gives the abbey of Saint Denis, the rights to the homes of Charlevanne. It creates differences between the two abbeys of Saint Germain des Prés and Saint Denis that own most all of Charlevannes, Rueil, La Celle, and Croissy; these differences were settled by an arbitration ruling of 1336.

In the 16C , Gabrielle d’Estrée lived in the mansion of the La Chaussée , she was the mistress and favorite of king Henri IV from 1591 to his death. It was here ,also, that lived Marie Anne de Bourbon ,mademoiselle de Blois, Princess de Conti from 1711 to 1716, she was the legitimate daughter of king Louis XIV and Louise de La Valliére. She had built the pavillon de Blois. In 1683, king Louis XIV buys the lands of Bougival to the family of the Count of Assy; the family Mesmes already holding the lordship of Bougival received from the king early in the 18C almost the entire lordship as well as La Chaussée and a great part of the surroundings. The family of Mesmes owned almost the entire town of Bougival.

The machine de Marly that brought water from the Seine river to the domaine and Chateau de Versailles was built here. The Church of Bougival dating from the 12C has the tomb of Rennequin Sualem, the inventor of the Machine de Marly.

Some of the things to see in Bougival

The before mentioned Machine de Marly (even thus it competes with been in Louveciennes) considered the 8th wonder of the world worked for 120 years from 1684 to 1817, and later replaced by the vapor machine and later the hydraulic machine. The Notre Dame Church, from the 12C with a bell tower in an arrow of octagonal stones partly built in the 19C. The Château de la Jonchère that welcome many famous guests such as Gabriel Julien Ouvrard, Count of Tolstoî, Adolphe Thiers, the Prince of Metternich, etc etc

The buildings of the water controller from the times of Louis XIV at quai Rennequin Saulem by the  Seine river. The building of Charles X neo classic style started under emperor Napoléon III that house the Vapor Machine of Martin et Cécile, 1817. The laundry in the Saint Michael neighborhood near the town of Louveciennes.  The Datcha built by Ivan Tourgueniev ,and where he died in 1883 today is a museum at  16 rue Yvan Tourgueneff. The levies of Bougival with the longest at 220 meters along the Seine river.

The house of Georges Bizet a famous composer that rented this house on the banks of the Seine river and created Carmen and where he died in 1875 after taking a swim in the river. It is in this island or ïle de Bougival that several portraits were made by the Impressionists; some of the most famous ones were le Pont de Bougival by Claude Monet, le Quai by Berthe Morisot, Sur la Terrace or les deux soeurs et Dance à Bougival by Pierre Auguste Renoir, and again La Seine à Bougival le soir painted by Claude Monet in 1869. These painters frequented Bougival from 1850 to 1900 for entertaintment and past times staying  and dancing at the Auberge du Bal des Canotiers every Sundays in Summer. Or the island or Ïle de la Loge, several shown by Alfred Sisley .

The colonne des fréres Montgolfier dating from the  1817-1818 was a stone done on 22,5 hectares by the Count of Boissy d’Anglas, member of the Senate and pair of France to remember his friends of  Annonaye, the brothers Montgolfier ,inventors of flying ballons.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here,and it should be an easy day trip from Paris, this is impressionists along the Seine at its best. We love to come here to celebrate our sons birthdays , and should have taken more time to see the rest, on our wish list.

The City of Bougival on its heritage in French:

The Bougival tourist office on the Impressionists in French:

The Yvelines tourist board on the museum Ivan Tourgueniev:

Enjoy the arts in Bougival along the Seine at the door to Paris . We shall be back when possible. And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers!!!

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January 2, 2021

Orthez and a Jeanne!!!

And doing my road warrior rides in wonderful Pyrénées Atlantiques dept 64 in the new region of Nouvelle Aquitaine I bring you to historical Orthez. We had great times here and several posts in my blog, just wanted to put up pictures here of the house museum of Jeanne. Hope you enjoy it as I

And moving up from the mountains and closer to the expresways , and another jewel in the deep south of France. What better place than to see history, architecture and a different story of France, Protestant one. We wandered by car always, to see these jewels of our belle France, and we encounter Orthez.  Orthez is half way between Pau and Bayonne and traverse the town by the gave de Pau and its tributaries rivers.

A bit of history I like

The oldest finding on Orthez (which still nobody seems to decide from where the name comes from)  is  from the 11C. This was two romanesque churches ,one in the neighborhood of old town by the bridge, and the other by next around the Church of Saint-Pierre (St Peter).  The town resulted in a union of these two around 1260 with the creation of a municipal council sort of.  In the 13C to 15C , Orthez was the residence of the Viscounts of Béarn; Gaston Fébus declared the independence here in 1347. However, by 1460 the resident was transfered to Pau. Even if Orthez remained the biggest town and most dynamic of the Béarn during the monarchies of France. At Orthez , all the products with destination to the port of Bayonne was assembled. In 1566 Jeanne d’Albret had transfered the Protestant academy of Béarn here ,and it was transformed into an University by 1583 under king Henri IV.

The town of Orthez, grew under the monarchies into the suburbs of Moncade, where there is a castle (see post) , a bit isolated from the town as it had military functions. In 1814  there was the Battle of Orthez  with the victory of the Anglo-Spanish troops of the duke of Wellington against the Napoleonic army of Marshal Soult.  Not much influence on the town but a major influence on the war in Spain. At Orthez, there is great interest for the bullfight and tradition is even older than the current arena (arena of Pesqué, 1927), and the town is member of the Taurino towns of France association. webpage in French here:

The city of Orthez on bullfights traditions in French:

What are the things to see at Orthez ,me think are:

The Jeanne d’Albret museum is a museum devoted to the history of Bearn Protestantism it is installed in the walls of an old residence of the mother of king Henri IV, Jeanne d’Albret, dating from the 16C . It indeed belonged to Queen Jeanne as attested by the letters patent of November 30, 1555, registered on May 5, 1556. They indicate that the building was offered to Jeanne d’Albret in 1555 by Arnaud de Gachissans, lord of Salles and butler of Henri II d’Albret, Jeanne’s father, in exchange for letters of nobility. The sovereign wanted to make it his home during his visits to OrthezThe house known as Jeanne d’Albret is distinguished by its remarkable spiral staircase inscribed in an octagonal turret connecting the two buildings that make up the house. The retaining wall of the garden is one of the remains of the city walls. The facades facing the street were enlarged in the 16C, but, on the garden side, one can observe different types of openings which make it possible to identify the successive stages of construction.


The Jeanne d’Albret museum retraces with its collections of objects, portraits and documents, the history of Protestantism in Bearn since the 16C. The historical characteristic of Bearn is the conversion to Protestantism of its sovereign Jeanne d’Albret, who governs this small state as a convinced Calvinist. Therefore, the history of Béarn remains intimately linked to that of Protestantism. The museum therefore reviews all the historical phases: wars of religion, wars of Rohan, persecutions and clandestinity, but also the development of Protestantism in the 19-20C, missions, secularism, and personalities of this time who have a link with the Béarn: Élisée Reclus, Félix Pécaut, Eugène Casalis, Albert Cadier or the Spanish preacher Manuel Matamoros, persecuted and imprisoned by his Spanish compatriots. Very educational and historical a must to see and worth the visit to Orthez alone in my opinion.


The Official Jeanne d’Albret museum house :

The Church Saint Peter’s or  Saint-Pierre (see post) dating from the 13C with a choir.  The work was not finished that a century later meanwhile changes of styles were done. Amongst the particularities of this Church is there is no collateral and the highest vault of the Béarn. In the 16C, the Protestants confiscated the Church. By 1865, the Church was restored and enlarged with a bell tower built under the entry portal.  It conserved an sketch of the panel of the Pantheon of Rome the martyr of Saint Denis that was offered by the fine arts in 1924.  Two statues in wood representing Sainte Anne, mother of Mary, (grandmother of Jesus) and St James.  There is the Protestant temple at 20 rue du Général-Foy), consacrated in 1790. Another nice Church is that of the parish Church of  Saint-Barthélémy.  The old bridge or Pont Vieux, dating from the 13C and 14C by the river.  It was begun by  Gaston VII Moncade at the moment of Orthez becoming the capital of the Béarn and carried his court.  Originally, it had two towers and today you see the unequal arches and a central fortified tower. It resisted two attacks in Orthez, that one of 1569 by the Protestants troops of Montgomery ,and in 1814 by the attack of the duke of Wellington after the Napoleonic troops.

The former Auberge Saint-Loup, today a private house at  rue du Pont-Vieux was in the 16C a hospice to welcome the pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela. A very rich medieval architecture indeed. The house or maison Batcave another nice medieval architecture example today private home. The Hôtel de la Lune, another stop for rest of the pilgrims of Santiago de Compostela, from the 15C. The Castle of Baure, and Castle of Préville, as well as the fountain of the Place Saint Pierre (by the Church) inmortalized by the painter Maurice Utrillo in 1923.

The City of Orthez on heritage

The Tourist office of Coeur de Béarn or heart of Bearn on Orthez

There you go for a wonderful tour of the deep south of FranceOrthez is a dandy town to visit ,Again,  hope you enjoy this post as I.

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

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January 2, 2021

Deep Pyrénées at Saint Palais!

Again bringing back memorable trips from my vault ,and what a ride it has been!!! Love it!!! This one is going down deep in the Pyrénées mountain before them you see the small town of Saint Palais. Hope you enjoy it as I do.

On a hot week with temps up to 28C or about 82F and very bright sunny day, let me tell you again about my wanderings road warrior travels of the deep south of France. There is a south and there is a deep south, this one is inner France amongst mountains, in the again deep south, get it!  I will talk about Saint Palais a small town for the essence of travel by car.  

Saint-Palais or Donapaleu in Basque is a town in the département 64 of  Pyrénées-Atlantiques in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine.  The town is at the heart of the old kingdom of Navarra of which it was the capital since 1521!  It is bordered by the Bidouze and Joyeuse rivers. Saint Palais is about 60 km from Bayonne, 85 km from Pau ,and 40 km from Spain.  It is on the via Podiensis of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (St James); the first town to cross Navarra and many times considered as the beginning of the Camino Navarro, or even the Camino Francés.

The automobile is king here coming on the autoroute A64 exit or sortie 4 ; and connecting to the roads  D8, D11, D302, D511 D933 , and D2933.  The closest airports are the Biarritz-Parme  and Pau-Uzein . From Pamplona or Navarra Spain by the peak or col de Roncevaux  at about 108 km.  For info, as of course,never taken it ,the bus line 809 from Orthez/Salies-de-Béarn/Sauveterre-de-Béarn/St Palais reaches here. webpage:

A bit of history I like:

In 1521 after the defeat against the Spanish in the battle of Noain, king Henri II made it the capital of Navarra.  He created the Estates General of Navarra in 1523 here, as well as the chancellery and the prime ministers that later king Louis XIII transfered to Pau.  The town grow thanks to the pimgrimage to Santiago de Compostela but in 1784 king Louis XVI ends the activities of the hospice of Utziat at Arros, Harambelts at Ostabat, and Saint-Palais, to create the hospital of Saint-Palais, been the capital of the kingdom of Navarra. The French revolution ends all that in 1790.

Some things to see here me think and some have written elsewhere are:

The mansion of D’Erdoy-Oyhenart  facing the Church of  Saint-Paul  is the Salle d’Erdoy,an old mansion where the pretender to the throne of Navarra Jeanne d’Albret married the historian   Oyhénart in 1627. Locally better known as the house of heads or maison des Têtes, for the five  bas-reliefs that decorates the facade; from left to right  the busts of Henri II, his daughter Jeanne d’Albret ,and Henri III of Navarra (future king Henri IV).

The Hôtel de La Monnaie , here while king Charles II of Navarra authorized Saint Palais to coin money, he installed the shop in the house of Angelu in 1351. Saint Palais had many people doing this trade of coinage , the shop was dismantled in 1672.

The house of the king or Maison du Roi  was a former palace and prison of the senators of Navarra from 1639 to 1790.  The house of the judges where the nobles were convened at its bells ringing to determine the sentences of the town.

Church of Saint-Paul built in the Middle Ages house the first Estates General of Navarra in 1523 ; later the reforme temple of religioni under Jeanne d’Albret and Henri IV. In 1524 it house the chancellery of Navarra that gives justice in the kingdom until 1624. The justice courthouse came here in 1790.

Church of Marie-Madeleine , a neo gothic Church built in 1866. It has artifacts of the old Church of Saint-Paul  such as a portrait of the apostle, a golden Virgin and a coffin. In 1888, it got an organ of Cavaillé-Coll. Passing by we were able to see this one.



The smaller but lively town of Saint Palais was a surprise for us, we saw it as a end of the line town and back, but instead we spent more time there walking all over, and seeing the wonderful Fronton of pelote basque , the regional sport. The wonderful covered market now ,also, use for events and concerts, and the nice Bidouze.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The City of Saint Palais on tourism:

The Basque country dept 64 tourist office on Saint Palais in French:

Hope it encourage you to visit this deep south of France, Saint Palais is lovely territory but you need a car.

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

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