Archive for February 7th, 2021

February 7, 2021

This is Paris: Church Saint Germain l’Auxerrois!

A while back I did a series on the churches of Paris, well received thank you. However, some were less than others and it is a pity. These monuments are the ones that keeps the wonderful architecture and history of a city today, and Paris is no difference. One of my most pleasurable moments is to visit them in my walks in my eternal Paris. Therefore, here is the revised updated links Church of Saint Germain l’Auxerrois!

This is a very well known church in Paris and sitting on prime location, even my Dad went to the clinic next door, Louvre as the museum. Yet is the one least seen well just passed by it. I will give you some general views on it and then a picture. The tower is not of the church but of the city hall of the 1éme arrondissement of Paris. The Churches of Paris hold the story of the city, its history, architecture, and wars, religion or not, they are a must to visit in Paris or any other city for that matters. As I like history and architecture, I have seen plenty even if the numbers are unbelievable, keep trying to see them all. It is very close to the nerve center of tourism Paris. This is the Church of Saint Germain l’Auxerrois.

ch st germain l auxerrois and bell tower of cityhall of paris

The Church of Saint Germain L’Auxerrois is  located at place du Louvre next to the City/town hall of the 1éme district or arrondissement ncorresponding to the oldest place of worship on the right bank, known in the 6C, under the name of Saint-Germain-le-Rond. Rebuilt in the 12C and 13C, the Romanesque base of the steeple remains from the 13C.  Its overall harmony, which makes it one of the great Gothic monuments of the city of Paris. The Church is located on the southeast side of the Louvre Square, facing the colonnade of the Louvre. It is served by the Louvre-Rivoli and Pont Neuf metro stations line 1 and 7 respectively. In 1859, a new building in the north to house the City/town Hall, a true copy of the facade of St Germain Auxerrois, which gives a very peculiar symmetry , using a style inspired by the late Gothic and the French Renaissance.

 A bit of history I like

Existence of the Church is attested in the 7C, at the time Merovingian. It is the burial place of Saint Landry, Bishop of Paris, died around 655 or 656. Abbé Lebeuf believes that it is necessary to attribute the first origin to a chapel, the Chapel of St. Vincent, which was built shortly after the death of Saint Germain, Bishop of Auxerre.  On July 25, 754, during the reign of Pepin the Writ, the transfered of the body of Saint Germain from the small chapel was held in the chorus of the Great Church of St. Vincent, which has since been called Saint-Germain Church or Saint-Vincent and Saint-Germain presumably to distinguish the two churches consecrated to the same Saint, the last of which was named Saint-Germain-le-Rond.  The oldest part is the Romanesque tower, which dates from the 12C. It was surmounted by an arrow which was shot down around 1754 and replaced by the current balustrade. In the 13C, the western portal, the choir and the Chapel of the Virgin were built. The Church is largely rebuilt in the 15C in particular , the elevation of the porch.

The Saint Germain l’Auxerrois Church became the appointed Church of the Royal family at the time when the Valois moved to the Louvre in the 14C. Parish of the Kings of France because of its proximity to the palace of Louvre, the Church is one of the oldest in Paris.  It is one of the four Churches marking the cardinal points of Paris in 581.  It was the parish of François Boucher who lived in rue Saint-Thomas-du-Louvre. The two daughters of Boucher and his wife Marie-Jeanne Buzeau married, the painters Baudouin and Deshays. Danton, then a young lawyer, married Antoinette-Gabrielle Charpentier, the daughter of the owner of the Café du Parnassus nearby, on June 14, 1787.

At the beginning of the French revolution, after the forced return of the Royal family of Versailles to the Tuileries, the future king Louis XVII (assassinated by the French revolution) made his first communion here. Under the terror, Saint-Germain is emptied of its contents and converted into a fodder store, in printing, in the police station, in the factory of saltpeter. In 1795, Théophilanthropic cult was celebrated there. The church regains its Catholic vocation in 1802 after the Concordat. Under the First Empire, an old project of destruction of the church, in order to clear the colonnade of the Louvre by a large square in the middle of which the new bridge would succeed, is envisaged then abandoned at the beginning of the Restoration.

In the Second Empire, the Baron Haussmann once again refuses to destroy it while the Minister of State and the House of the emperor, suggests he develops a project to balance the whole thing; he asks to build a building inspired by the religious building to house the city/town hall of the 1éme arrondissement.  The designed reproduces almost identically the main façade of the Church (a porch surmounted by a rose window), which is similar to buildings of that time.  Between the two, it was built a flamboyant gothic campanile (or belfry) connected to both buildings by two doors of the same style, giving access to a square separating the two monuments. This architectural ensemble is built between 1858 and 1863. As we know it today.

Given the proximity of the Louvre where many artists reside after the departure of the court at Versailles, the church becomes the last abode of many of them and even bears the nickname “Saint-Denis of Genius and Talent”. The church offers on the  rue Arbre-Sec a curiosity; the carps of the Church Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois. It is a frieze, carved around the central chapel, representing sections of carp (heads, bodies, tails) alternating with rosettes. According to the historian of Paris, this decoration would correspond to a specific request of the rich textile Draper Tronson who, in 1505, had financed this chapel. It is not known whether the Draper Tronson had fishmongers in his family, or if they are simply sections of carp evoking his name. Source from brochures in the Church itself.

There are the six statues representing the characters of the old Testament and the Saints, as well as the 30 other characters. The Campanile (or belfry) was built between the two facades from 1858 to 1863. The use of the stone conceals an iron structure supporting all the bells of the now famous carillon. The silhouette and some details of the belfry are reminiscent of those of the Saint-Jacques tower. It was the parish of the kings of France due to its proximity to the Louvre. In the old regimes it was know as the Parish of the Artists! It was name after Bishop Saint Germain l’Auxerrois from the region of Auxerre in Burgundy today.

Inside you will see a monumental Flemish wooden altarpiece dating from the early 15C is located in the Chapel Notre-Dame de Compassion . It is a gift from the Comte de Montalivet, Minister of Louis-Philippe. The first register is divided into five scenes: one recognizes from left to right, the marriage of the Virgin, the Nativity of Christ, the Dream of Jess, the Adoration of the Magi and the presentation at the temple. The upper register represents more classically the ascent to Calvary, the Crucifixion and the descent of the Cross. These last three scenes can be compared to the corresponding scenes of the Passion Altarpiece exhibited at the Louvre museum.

The Chapel of the Virgin is located at the entrance of the church on the South side; It corresponds to four former 16C chapels gathered during the 19C. It presents the peculiarity, on the one hand to be isolated from the southern collateral by a woodwork, and on the other hand, unlike most of the other churches, not to be in the central axis of the church at the end of the apse. Its decoration dates back to the 19C, but there are several more anciently reported statues.

The Chapel of Notre-Dame de la Bonne-Garde contains a stained glass window representing Saint Louis ( king Louis IX, born in Poissy, Yvelines 78 on  25 April 1214, and died in Tunisia on 25 August 1270, during the Eighth Crusade, canonized in 1297) , making justice under the oak of Vincennes , and a statue of the Holy Virgin (1812), miraculously spared during the riots of 1831.

The Chapel of the Patron Saints had in the past many burials, including a vault for those who, having no particular burial, had obtained the right to be buried in the Church. During the redevelopment of the chapel in 1841, many coffins were found.

The Chapel of the tomb (also called Calvary) was founded in 1505 by Jehan Tronson, the wealthy drapery merchant who decorated the outside of the Church with a frieze of pieces of carp. The members of this family are then buried there. Because of its rich founder, it became the seat of the Brotherhood of Clothiers who held their corporate meetings there and celebrated masses there. During the sack of 1831, the burials of his vault were desecrated.

The Chapel of Good Death (formerly called the Blessed Sacrament) is completely remade in 1841. It houses stained glass windows dating from 1859; To the right a holy stone, barefoot, the head circled with a halo, crossing on his chest his two keys; In the center, in four compartments, Saint Joseph, the Virgin, Christ and Saint Michael.

The Chapelle Saint-Landry (formerly Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul), which refers to the former bishop of Paris, Saint Landry, is built between 1521 and 1522. It was ceded in 1624 to Étienne Aligre (market fame) and became the Chapel and burial place of his family. At the beginning of the 19C, king Louis XVIII deposited the heart of Joseph Hyacinthe François-de-Paule de Rigaud, Count of Vaudreuil , the great Falconer, whose body is in the family grave at Calvary Cemetery.

There is no trace of what was the great organs of the Royal Parish before the French revolution the present organ was transferred in July 1791 from the Sainte-Chapelle, where it had been built twenty years before by François-Henri Clicquot, in a buffet designed by Pierre-Noël Rousset. Last the Church has been painted by some notable painters over the years such as Claude Monet , Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois (1867) and Jean Béraud , Première communion, work not found or credit given.

There you go ,it is well tucked in by the hôtel de ville of Paris, on the parvis , but you do well in getting there and see, it is really nice this Church of Saint Germain l’Auxerrois.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and you must are

The Church of Saint Germain L’Auxerrois webpage https://saintgermainlauxerrois.fr/

The Catholic Churches of Paris on the Church Saint Germain L’Auxerrois: https://www.paris.catholique.fr/-saint-germain-l-auxerrois-.html

The Tourist office of Paris on the Church St Germain l’Auxerrois: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71883/Eglise-Saint-Germain-l-Auxerrois

A unique site in French on tombs and burials of France with details work and wonderful pictures on the Church of Saint Germain l’Auxerrois :http://www.tombes-sepultures.com/crbst_1305.html

In all a wonderful inventory of history and architecture of Paris. Enjoy the Church of Saint Germain L’Auxerrois, Paris at its best.

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

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February 7, 2021

This is Paris: Church Saint François Xavier!

A while back I did a series on the churches of Paris, well received thank you. However, some were less than others and it is a pity. These monuments are the ones that keeps the wonderful architecture and history of a city today, and Paris is no difference. One of my most pleasurable moments is to visit them in my walks in my eternal Paris. Therefore, here is the revised updated links Church of Saint François-Xavier!

And I go on with showing the Churches of Paris on a single blog post. They deserve it I believe, they will show the history, architecture and more of what really is Paris.  I go around and come into these monuments just searching that inner soul of a city ,of any city, and Paris is no different. In the churches we see the real history, wonderful architecture, and the ups and downs of the people over the periods. This one was a surprise, just passing by, (they are so many ) and would like to tell you a bit about it.

I am talking about the Church Saint François Xavier, one of the least visited and one of the prettiest.  The church is located in the 7éme district or arrondissement of Paris, in place de President-Mithouard. It is the place of worship of the Catholic parish Saint-François-Xavier-des-Foreign Missions. A more popular direction would be by the  Boulevard des Invalides in front of Piazza Tardieu, and surrounded by the place of the President-Mithouard. The church was commissioned in 1861, it has a facade is inspired by the Italian Renaissance.

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The main façade has a central part flanked by two square towers. The church is framed by two squares: the square Pierre de Gaulle and the square abbot Esquerré. Thanks to its metal frame, the vault rests directly on the lateral walls, with no aisles or tipping arcs. The plan of the Church is in the Classical style with a central nave with lateral chapels, transept and deep apse. The axial Chapel features a statue of the Virgin.  Above the main gate is a remplage-framed rosette of niches containing statues. The ensemble is crowned by a triangular pediment whose bas-relief, appearing Saint Francis Xavier, baptizing the inhabitants of India and Japan. The nave of 5 bays is wide, with a non-protruding transept, but the 3-span choir is narrow and flanked by passages communicating with a large axis Chapel surrounded by an ambulatory.

Internal elevation punctuated by fluted and banded Corinthian columns. The vaults of the nave were decorated with paintings, the rest of the painted décor by several artists. The crossing of the transept is covered with a dome on a colorful pendant.  The metal frame allows the vault to rest directly on the side walls. A triumphal arch showcases the chorus and builds a perspective leading the gaze towards the statue of the Virgin in the axial Chapel.  A construction of the church began by 1861 and  was completed in 1873 (with the exception of its interior decoration), opened for worship in 1874 and consecrated on May 23, 1894.

During the French revolution, like many others churches were closed. The parishioners took the habit of meeting in the Chapel of the seminary of the foreign Missions, located on Rue du Bac. With the Concordat of 1802, the chapel became a parish. Under the Second Empire, the construction of a new church in the Invalides district was decided. The work began in 1861 until 1874. The church is dedicated to St. Francis Xavier, the patron of the Missions.

Among the 130 churches in Paris, Saint-François-Xavier is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. The splendor of his choir strikes the visitor as soon as he enters the nave. At the end of the 19C, it was also one of the richest: many donations have come to increase its heritage in works of great masters. One can admire in particular a masterpiece of the Tintoretto; The Last Supper. The artist seized the moment when Christ announces to the apostles that one of them will betray him. See also the crucifixion of Saint Peter by Luca Giordano.  The nave of the Church is separated from the aisles by a suite of fluted columns surmounted by Corinthian capitals enriched with cherubs and thus characterized as composite. These columns are connected by arches in a full hanger. The two levels of the elevation are separated by a protruding cornice that belts the entire building. The cradle Vault features decorative paintings by Alexandre Denuelle.  Under the Second Empire, the construction technique of the churches progressed: a metal frame was built. Masked by a stone covering. This practice has a triple advantage; the building is very strong, construction is fast and not expensive. St. Francis Xavier Church follows this new concept.

The Church of Saint-François-Xavier does not enjoy an important natural luminosity. It has a large number of windows, only two of which are with history on them. These two stained glass windows, dating from 1959, represent Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus. The two transept rosettes, which are identical, possess, for their own, petals decorated with liturgical symbols. The other stained glass windows are geometric compositions, often based on circles sustained colors. In fact, all the stained glass windows, by the intensity of their colors, obstruct the daylight. In grey weather or late afternoon, the church is bathed in a pronounced twilight that only increases until artificial light has taken over.

In the Chapel of the Sacred Heart lies the shrine of Sainte Madeleine-Sophie Barat. Born in  1779, she created the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1800 to develop the teaching of young girls. The shrine is in the Chapel of St. Joseph. The Choir of the Church of  Saint-François-Xavier is one of the most beautiful in Paris. Above the altar, in the spandrels, Moses holding the Tables of the law and, on the left, his brother Aaron holding his miraculous wand . Finally, above, in front of a Christ of Byzantine inspiration, Saint Francis Xavier presenting to Jesus Christ the peoples he has converted.  The statue of St. Francis Xavier, the sculptor (unknown) represented the Saint brandishing the Cross with a raging and determined gesture. His mouth is open as if he needed to catch his breath with his Cry of Faith. This cry is accentuated by the left hand which grasps the reverse of the garment as if to put the heart to bare and show the violence of his faith.

Another wonderful find in Paris, and again seldom visited but should be a must, well maybe a route of the Churches of Paris should be an inspiration by the Tourist Board of Paris! I know need to be back here myself.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The parish Church Saint François Xavier : https://www.sfx-paris.fr/

The Catholic Churches of Paris on the Church Saint François Xavier: https://www.paris.catholique.fr/-saint-francois-xavier-.html

Hope it helps as not in the tourist office, need to stop by yourself more, well worth it. And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

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February 7, 2021

This is Morlaix up in Finistére!

And time to update this older post in my blog on our initial trip to wonderful Morlaix in the Finistére dept 29 of my lovely Bretagne, and in my belle France. Enjoy the ride up north!! Bear in mind ,several posts on the town and things to see with pictures in my blog.

I have come to see most of Brittany, I say most because we can never see everything, but most I say. I have the great opportunity to live in the region now and take advantage of knowing this historical wonderful region of France. Brittany/Bretagne/Breizh. I have come north to the Finistére to encounter the sea and the historical nice city of Morlaix. My dear late wife Martine liked it too.

Morlaix is in the north of department Finistère. In the background of a Ria, this city is often the victim of floods because it is at the confluence of two rivers, the Queffleuth and the Jadhav, which form the Dosenn (or river of Morlaix) that flows into the channel, in the Bay of Morlaix. On average we observe two to three storms each year exceeding 110 km/h . In Finistère,  it is part of the Trégor and Leon, both being delimited by the Dosenn. They are separated even in the city as evidenced by the quay of Trégor and the quay of Leon.  The city is famous for its viaduct built in the 19C in the city center/downtown  which is given the nickname of the “City of Viaduct”.There is a train station SNCF on the TGV Paris-Brest and by the TER Bretagne local trains. 

A bit of history I like

Morlaix was originally a Gaulish oppidum, then transformed into a Roman castrum, located on the hill of the “Parc-au-Duc”, which dominates the Ria du Dossen and located southwest of the center of the present city, in the western part of the peninsula , formed By the Jadhav and the Queffleuth  rivers. It was around the year 1000 that a lord of Leon built a castle on the present site of Morlaix, between the rivers of Queffleuth and Jadhav. There, in the peninsula, is born a village sheltered from the fortress living mainly from fishing-related activities. From the 11C, monks from three abbeys, those of Saint-Mathieu de Fine-Terre, Saint-Melaine de Rennes and the Abbey of Marmoutier, founded the first religious settlements of the city, the Priorys, which gave birth to the three . The respective suburbs of Saint-Mathieu , of Saint-Melaine , and of Saint-Martin.

When Duchess Anne has just acceded to the duchy, she sees herself isolated in her own court, which in her vast majority does not trust her. Contrary to the provisions of the Treaty of the Orchard signed in August 1488 by king Louis XI and her father the Duke of Brittany Francis II , the king of France Charles VIII invaded Brittany in January 1489. Aid from King Henry VII of England landed in Morlaix to help Queen Anne in 1489, as she married Maximilian of Austria in December 1490 in Rennes (formation of an England-Habsburg-Aragon-Castile-France axis). Finally, Anne will be Queen of France twice by marrying Charles VIII in December 1491 and then Louis XII in January 1499. During a tour of Brittany , the Duchess-queen of France Anne stops in Morlaix and descends to the convent of the Jacobins in the summer of 1505 . Queen Anne makes a solemn entrance that all cheer, she lodges at the convent because the castle must be  repaired.  The Duchess is offered a ermine with a pearl necklace. A sudden movement of the animal frightens the Queen. Pierre de Rohan speaks to the Queen in these words:  “What are you afraid of, Madame? These are your weapons!  ” Coat of Arms of Brittany still today.  King Francis I, son-in-law of the Duchess Queen Anne, will also visit the city on September 15, 1518 .After a bitter battle and great losses due to the English ,they find, the latter offering little resistance because of the libations of the previous night. Following this event, it was decided to build the castle of Taureau in the Bay of Morlaix in 1544.

The locals or Morlaisiens merchants built, on the main street, houses with narrow facades, due to a parcel lanièré due to the plan of subdivision established for the reconstruction after the fire of 1522, including the House of 9, Grand-Rue (which serves as a museum) and the so-called Duchess Anne, built around 1530, are beautiful examples of these houses called “Pondalez”.  After the wars of religion, Morlaix takes full advantage of the apogee of the trade of the linen in the 17C, the apogee being about 1680. However, from 1620, the noble merchants of Morlaix no longer build houses in Pondalez, but houses In stone with curtain facade such as those in the  rue Longue-de-Cramt and Place des Otages, as well as private hotels totally stone like the Maison Pénanault and the Hotel François du Parc built in blue schist and granite.   The arrival on Monday 10 November 1624 of the Duke of Vendôme, son of king Henri IV and Gabrielle of d’Estrées visiting Morlaix. Morlaix is a city of goldsmiths; in 1754, it was the most important community of goldsmiths in Brittany.  Many having fabricated coins in the Treasury of Saint-Jean-du-Doigt or Locam’s Treasure.

At the beginning of the French revolution, popular societies of the Friends of the Constitution are created everywhere. The first Jacobin Club of Brittany was foounded in 1790. The nave and the bedside of the Church of Notre-Dame-du-Mur, which had been transformed into a temple of reason during the French revolution  were sold in 1805 in order to serve as a stone quarry. There is a nice facade in the Cour d’honneur of the tobacco factory of Morlaix.  The tobacco factory in Morlaix is one of the oldest in France, it already existed in 1689.  The third company (Morlaix) of the 4th Battalion of Mobiles Guards of Finistère participated on 29 November 1870 in the Battle of the L’Haÿ during the siege of Paris during the war of 1870.

There is a WWI  commemorative painting placed in the Church of Saint-Mélaine. Morlaix was bombarded many times during  WWII by the British and the Americans, the main objective was the railway viaduct, in order to cut the rail communications with Brest. Morlaix was free on 8 August 1944 by American troops from the north coast to the Ponthou where Marquis resistance fighters had strafed Nazi troops on 4 and 5 August 1944 on the road N12 to facilitate the advance of the Allied army.

Things to see in this quant nice town of Morlaix

The former convent of the Jacobins, whose Church founded in 1230, is the oldest in the city. The convent was built in the 13C, the rose of the bedside dates from the  15C.  It was confiscated in the French revolution, then served as barracks, and finally siege the Archaeological Society of Finistère. Since 1887, it houses the Museum of Fine Arts of the city,

The Viaduc of Morlaix sees its first stone laid in 1861. Its construction ends in 1864. The demolition of the houses required for its construction resulted in the erasing  of most of the houses in Pondalez and porches (stilt houses and three or four-storey buildings along the harbour) in the remaining  houses demolished between 1880 and 1907, the last in 1969. The 19C Granite Viaduct (1861) for the Paris-Brest railway line. Majestic piece of granite from the ile Grande  was built from 1861 to 1864 during the construction of the Paris-Brest line.  The result is prodigious: 292 meters long, 58 meters high, 14 arches and 9 poles, 11 000 m3 of stones… The Rennes-Brest line was inaugurated in 1865.  There is a nice Italian Theater from 1888 and fully restored.

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The  Church of Saint-Mélaine, of flamboyant Gothic style (15C) dedicated to Melaine de Rennes. The Priory of Saint-Mélaine  was founded between 1149 and 1157 following a donation of Guyomarc’h III, Lord of Morlaix. The Church was built at the end of the 15C. In 1879, the Church lantern was replaced by a zinc-coated wooden arrow. The Church houses beautiful paintings and scultptures from the 15C to 19C, as well as a Dallam organ restored in 1971.

The Church of Saint-Mathieu, the tower is one of the first Renaissance buildings in the area. It houses an opening statue of gilded wood from the late 14C. When opened it offers a carved trinity and painted scenes from the new Testament. This statue from the Cologne (Germany) region was commissioned by the Brotherhood of Weavers of Morlaix. The Church also houses a beautiful organ, the late 17C buffet containing an instrument of Heyer (1873).

The quaint historical nice house at  9 Grande-Rue welcomes the works and objects of the collection of the Museum of Morlaix relating to the architecture and the history of the city – and the so-called Duchess Anne (16C), Rue du Mur.  The booth of the Place des Otages, offered in 1903 by Auguste Ropars. The Carmelite fountain, dating from the 15C, at the foot of the former  Church of Notre-Dame de Fontaines. The Château de Suscinio (House of the privateer Charles Cornic) and its botanical park, located in Ploujean, former village annexed by Morlaix.

In the Bay of Morlaix, the castle of Taureau, erected in the 16C to defend the bay, was reworked by Vauban from 1689, but he died in 1707 before his completion. The stone ship then takes its current dimensions: 60 meters long, 12 meters wide and 12 meters high for a built up surface of 1 450 m2. In addition to eleven bunkers that can each receive a cannon, the Fort houses housings, two dungeons, a canteen, a kitchen and a chapel. In the 20C, it is the second residence of the family of Vilmorin, then houses, from 1960 to 1980, a sailing school having counted up to 250 trainees, of which 150 housed in the castle. This fort to the sea, a national property managed by the ICC, can now be visited.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The City of Morlaix on things to see in French :https://www.ville.morlaix.fr/VIVRE-A-MORLAIX/Tourisme/A-la-decouverte-de-la-Ville/La-balade-patrimoniale/(view)/content

The Tourist office of the Bay of Morlaix on things to see in French: https://www.baiedemorlaix.bzh/fr/s-inspirer/patrimoine-et-culture/

The Tourist office of the Finistére dept 29 on Morlaix in French: https://www.toutcommenceenfinistere.com/article/morlaix

The tourist office of the region of Bretagne on Morlaix in English: https://www.brittanytourism.com/destinations/the-10-destinations/pink-granite-coast-morlaix-bay/morlaix/

The pleasure marinas of the Bay of Morlaix on Morlaix port in French: http://www.plaisancebaiedemorlaix.com/fr/les-ports-de-la-baie/port-de-morlaix/presentation-de-morlaix

There you go ,you are all set for an enjoyable trip to the north of Brittany and Finistére at Morlaix. The tourist office of Morlaix is in the historical Maison Penanault, 10 place Charles de Gaulle. Enjoy the post!

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

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February 7, 2021

Mythical Navarrenx and its cigars!!

Oh let me update revise this old post from my road warrior trip in the south. I was pleasantly surprise to find myself with a history on cigars (tobacco)! I would be delighted to tell you a bit more on mythical Navarrenx and its cigars!!

In our wandering ways around our belle France, we have been to many towns and regions, this one was by accident. We went to Orthez (see post) and decided what to do next. We look up a map and decided to visit the town because of the history on cigars!  I am talking about Navarrenx in the department 64 Pyrenees Atlantique in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. The town is part of the most beautiful villages of France association since 2014 and the first one in the Béarn area to be name. Of course, see my other posts on Navarrenx!, this one was sort of an introduction.

A bit of a brief history I like:

By 1078 it was the first time the name was known. In 1523 ,the Spanish led by the Prince of Orange takes over the town and destroyed the defenses. They were rebuilt by 1538 to 1549 by Henri d’Albret and Marguerite d’Angoulême, king of Navarra. In 1620  king Louis XIII visited the town to imposed the union of the Béarn and Navarra to France.  The town did not gave trouble to the Royal troops. In the French revolution ,Navarrenx was chosen as the capital of the department of the Basses-Pyrénées (1790), later transfering it to Pau in same year.

Some things to see

The town is surrounded by the first rampart walls built from 1538 ordered by Henri II d’Albret king of Navarra, Viscount of the sovereign territory of the Béarn. The town still keeps most of it as well as the porte Saint-Antoine, redone in 1645, tour de la Poudrièreplace des Casernesmilitary fountain as well as gothic houses and on the place de la mairie,an arsenal from the 17C built on the ruins of the house of the kings of Navarra. Also, the house or Maison Paillé from the 16C. the town is on the via Podiensis or of Puy-en-Velay  on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.  There is a bridge from the 13C that allow you even today to cross the gave d’Oloron river; before the pilgrims crossed by boat on very dangerous crossing by the gué de Mongaston.  Near the southern gate there was a hospital, Chapel of Saint Antoine, to welcome the pilgrims. Several lodgings were available and a welcome snacks offered to all those arriving between Easter and All Saints Day.

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The river or Gave d’Oloron a wonderful river with a nice bridge. Historic town since 1180 it got its fortified castle in 1316  by initiative of the viscountess Marguerite Mathilde. The ramparts are 10 meters high and were designed by an italian architect call for the job. The city is on the way of  Puy en Velay, the most frequented to arrive at Santiago de Compostela or St James in Galicia, Spain.  The wonderful Church of Saint Germain, built from 1551 and finished in 1562 is nice. It has a late gothic style and it was use as a protestant cult at first. king Louis XIII  stablished the Catholic cult in 1620 when the whole region was annexed to France.  The bell was added in the 19C. You can see the heads of pilgrims on the pylon columns and a portrait offered by emperor Napoléon III.

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The Church of Saint-Germain-d’Auxerre (see post) dates from the 16C but the lower element in the nerf were done in 1862. There are human marks on the walls and painted and you can recognized the contemporaries of king Henri II d’Albret. A door on the side was reserved for the cagots.  There is one personage born here that I like to mention, this is Paul de Batz d’Artagnan a muskeeteer and Captain of the kings’s guards as well as older brother of Charles de Batz-Castelmore d’Artagnan, who inspired the novel and later movie of the Three Muskeeteers . King Louis XIV gave him in 1667 the management of the fortress here and this was renewed every three years until his death in 1703.

One of the curiosities of this city is that it house the Maison du Cigare or the house of tabacco, now Hedon Cigares, same cigars different owners, here they are handrolled and sold along the old tradition of Cuba. However, its the only cigar done with French Tobacco so uniquely French and not bad from what I remember of my grandfather ::)

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This was the best for us located at the Place de Casernes in a house from the 17C , where you have the Maison du Cigare, or cigars house (now Hedon).  Here, you have the opportunity to follow the steps necessary before reaching the realization of the only French premium cigars. Coming from the Cuban seeds and handrolling Cubans when we were there. You will know everything about its history from the seed that gives the tobacco plants to the placement of the ring. The course ends with the Torcedoras coming from Cuba. During your stroll, you will be able to observe the staff working, panels and videos explain each step of production. Small precision for connoisseurs: Three cigars are prepared in the house, the shorts, the robusta and the double Corona, sold in the unit or in boxes. In the house of cigars, in total immersion, a rolling workshop framed by a rolling machine will help you to make your own! Finally, a wine tasting and deli completes the exciting visit of the House of Cigars or the Maison du Cigare of Navarrenx. Officially now name the Hedon Cigares webpage: http://hedon-cigares.com/

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and well worth it!

The city of Navarrenx on its history/heritage in French: http://www.ville-navarrenx.fr/histoire-ville-de-navarrenx

The local tourist office for the region of Béarn des Gaves on Navarrenx in English: https://www.tourisme-bearn-gaves.com/en/discover/culture-and-heritage/bearn-des-gaves-cities/navarrenx-the-bastioned-city/

The webpage of the Les Plux Beaux Villages de France or most beautiful towns of France on Navarrenx in French: https://www.les-plus-beaux-villages-de-france.org/fr/nos-villages/navarrenx/

There you go something unique in deep south France. You should make it a stop at Navarrenx!

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

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