Archive for February 14th, 2021

February 14, 2021

Parc Balbi, Versailles!!!

And glad to update/revise this post from 2019 for you. This is my beloved dear Versailles and a nice park often on the off the beaten path trail as most folks go to the Palace. However, as I have said many times, Versailles is a lot more than the palace. The Parc Balbi has a nice history and wonderful family park. Let me tell you a bit on it ok, and hope you enjoy it as I.

In my beloved Versailles; there is so much to see here, pity folks only come for the castle,nice as it is itself, get out into the town and see wonderful sights. Versailles is my former home for those new to my blog.  I like to tell you a bit about a nice park which again been there with the family on picnics and just hanging around and so little personal pictures, found one of the front panel going into the park lol! sorry me terrible photo men especially in my own town; looking forward to be back as soon as possible.

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Parc Balbi is an English-style park, located next to the Potager du Roi or King’s Garden in the Saint Louis district of Versailles, dept 78 Yvelines of the ïle de France region. It is part of the historical heritage of the city and very often overlook by visitors, but a wonderful park to visit as well.  You will go to very narrow old streets of old Versailles, the park itselt is 2,6 hectares ( 6.4 acres) and you access it by 12 rue  du Maréchal Joffre. One of my family’s favorite is the Parc Balbi, and as usual when living there not enough pictures lol! 

In 1785 the Count of Provence (brother of king Louis XVI , and future king Louis XVIII) and the Countess of Balbi (Anne de Caumont -La Force) buys the land here; to use as enjoyment for the Countess Balbi. The garden is done in 1786 by gardener/architect Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin. In 1791 in the French revolution they had to leave, and in 1792 the plants and vegetables, trees of it are taken and transfer to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. (always the same) The new garden had a winding stream, islands, and a belvedere atop an artificial grotto, in the picturesque style of the time. In 1798, the pavillon and garden features were demolished, but traces of the alleys and the lake are still visible, the park is still free.

After the French revolution, many owners passed by the park until finally in 1828 it is sold to the State.  In 1907 the school Jules Ferry is located here and a door had access to the Potager du roi. In 1914 the park is given to the horticulture school., and with the coming of WWI the park is left abandoned, until 1930 again it is renovated.  During WWII the park is again abandoned until 1960 a new plan of renovation takes effect.  Finally in 1982 the park is open to the public all done. It has a cave original from its creation in 1786 deep in the forest of the park, to reach it from the Potager du roi only. Very nice area.  It is open during the school holidays in the area, and normally Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays from 9h to 17h, sometimes later in summer.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The tourist office of Versailles on the Parc Balbi: https://www.versailles-tourisme.com/parc-balbi.html

A bit more in French from the Yvelines dept 78 tourist board on Parc Balbi: http://www.sortir-yvelines.fr/Art-et-culture/Art-et-culture-dans-les-Yvelines/parc-jardin-yvelines/parc-balbi-versailles

Hope you enjoy , it is in a nice area next to the Potager du Roi and by the Cathedral Saint Louis area. Enjoy it with the family on your walks on the marvelous streets of Versailles.

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

February 14, 2021

Bercy Village, Paris of antan!!!

And yes this is sublime Paris! I came for the museum and then hook up with the ambiance to come alone and with family and with friends, and even business meeting nearby, all wonderful memories. I like to update this post from 2018 and time to serve credit to the Bercy Village of Paris!

Now keeping in line of the fine places to see in Paris away from most visitors on the off the beaten path ,however, nice to visit and enjoy the culinary historical eternal Paris. I will tell a bit on Bercy Village. This is a nice place especially if come at night, with plenty of nice restaurant in a quant chic place in my eternal Paris.

Bercy Village is a commercial and leisure center based in the 12éme arrondissement of Paris, inaugurated in May 2000, and open to the public in 2002 It is served by the metro line 14 stop Cour Saint-Émilion.  The Cour Saint-Émilion, another name given to Bercy Village, is pleasant for its atypical, almost exotic atmosphere. This pedestrian area, built around old wine halls, is unlike any other in Paris,  here, no Haussmannian buildings, but only old buildings in white stone and with pointed roofs now housing large boutiques. stores or restaurants of all kinds. 46 19C cellars divided into two rows and separated by a paved courtyard, where visitors wander, when they are not taking a seat on one of the many terraces for food.  This was built on the place of the old storehouses and warehouses of Bercy the place was an important place of the market and the logistics of the wine in the 19C and the beginning of the 20C. You notice on this small alley the presence of old rails. Enough to guide us even further on the history of the place! In the 19C, the largest wine and spirits market in the world was held there: the Cour Saint-Émilion served as a huge warehouse and sales counter for wines, previously bottled not far from there, in Bercy. Beverages transported by the Seine directly from the Yonne, Burgundy, Algeria, or by train via the Gare de Lyon from the Midi. At that time, wine lovers liked to go to Bercy warehouses where alcohol was zero-rated, at least until the neighborhood was annexed to Paris in 1860, which proclaimed the end of this tax benefit.

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There are now some thirty shops and restaurants nestled in these old warehouses, giving a very nice architectural side, human size, cozy. A movie theater complex is also located at the end of the street as well as several hotel chains. The neighborhood is nowadays very lively and comes alive even more when demonstrations take place at the Palais Omnisport de Paris Bercy (now known as the AccorHotels Arena)Bercy Village is adjacent to a small quiet park very nice too.

To imagine the activity of the time, nothing like to go a few steps away, at the pavilions of Bercy, which once housed the Chais Lheureux, the name of the pupil of the architect Victor Baltard (of Halles and others fame). Just a few meters from the Cour Saint-Émilion, on the edge of the rue des Canoes, there are six large cellars of millstone stones with a very industrial appearance, metal structures, rails , or even brick vaults used as passageways. Far from the appearance of a sanitized hair of Bercy Village, the soul of the place and its past are more palpable. But if the exterior keeps its form of yesteryear, the interior of the cellars is now invested by the magnificent Museum of Fairground Arts or musée des Arts forains.

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With family or friends, Bercy Village is a pedestrian place of leisure and pleasure… a small parenthesis without a car, in a historical place out of time. Perfect for an outing with family or friends during an evening or even during the day.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit here are:

The official Bercy Village webpage: https://www.bercyvillage.com/tourisme

The Paris tourist office on Bercy Village: https://en.parisinfo.com/shopping-paris/73909/Bercy-Village

The regional Île de France tourist board on the Bercy Village: https://www.visitparisregion.com/en/bercy-village

Hope you enjoy it and do stop by very lively fun spot in a quaint old corner of my eternal Paris. Remember the Bercy Village while in Paris!

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

February 14, 2021

Vitré, a lot more than a Castle!

I like to update this older post from 2018 as it is often the case, we come searching for a big monument to see and end up seeing a lot more of what the town has to offer. This is the case with nice Vitré, where we heard of the castle and came to see it, however, we found out many nice things to tell. This is the times to update/revise this old post on Vitré, a lot more than a Castle! Hope you enjoy it as I.

Of course Vitré is in the Ille et Vilaine dept 35 of my lovely Bretagne. It occupies the Marche region in upper Bretagne. It is label City of Art and History and the inscription to the list of the most beautiful detours of France. Vitré is the 37th French town with the most historical monuments and  comprised  14% of the historical monuments of the department. She was promoted to flower town or “Ville Fleurie”, on 3 flowers label and has two stars in the green Michelin Guide. There what are you waiting for?

Vitré is located 275 km from Paris, 132 km from Caen, 104 km from Nantes, 62 km from Mont-Saint-Michel and 35 km from Rennes. The Paris-Brest Expressway N157-E50, which extends the A11 expressway to Vitré. It, also a railway node, to Vitré was opened in 1857 on the Paris-Brest line. Then, a second line in the direction of Fougréres was opened in 1867  a viaduc spanning the valley of the Vilaine was built to the west of the city, and finally in 1874, a third line to the La Guerche-de-Bretagne. The construction of the train station was carried out in 1855 in the form of a small Gothic Castle in brick and Tufa, in the city center, just south of the walled city.

A bit of history I like

In Breton history, Vitré is part of the country Rennais (Bro-Roazhon in Breton) and the traditional cultural country of Vendelais (Gwennel in Breton). The city is located on the sunken slopes of the Vilaine valley and is cut into three parts: the northern districts, the historic city center and the southern districts. The Vitré name is attested in various forms Vitriacum in 987 and 1037, Vitrei en 1050, Ecclesia Vitriacensis in 1070, Vitreium in 1335. of Gallo-Romanesque origin, this toponym is derived from the Latin Victorius (carried by a Gaul) and the suffix of Location-Acon, (from the common Celtic -Āko ). The primitive meaning is therefore “the domain of Victorius”. This means that a Gallo-Roman farm was located on the town’s territory.

Vitré is in the Middle Ages the seat of a barony, of 1008, Riwallon was the first baron between 1008 and 1040 and  until 1254, when the lordship passed in the hands of the second house of Laval until 1547, then of Montfort-Laval until 1605 and finally the Trémoille-Laval until the French revolution. The Castle was built by Robert I who soon became Lord, beneficiary of a banal power, a major princely authority. He’s close to the Duke of Brittany. The castle is referenced in 1047 in the cartulary of Redon where we learn that Robert is the keeper of Vitré and not the owner. Another stone castle was built in 1047 by Robert I. The castle is built on its current location, on a rocky spur dominating the Vilaine river.  Then, in the 13C, the castle was enlarged and the “Old Town” with the Notre-Dame Church developed on the eastern plateau. The place du Chateau, which was considered as a front yard, was actually urbanized. The city was surrounded by ramparts and outside ditches. It was then that the enclosed town took its present form. At the same time, “privileged villages”, i.e. suburbs born at the request of the Baron, have developed around the enclosed town. As early as the 13C, Vitré brought together all the elements of the city.

In the 15C, the castle was transformed with the progress of artillery such as the gunboats. From 30 June to 2 July 1488, the French army camped at the Pont Étrelles, a few days before the Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier, which provoked the end of Breton independence. During the wars of religion at the end of the 16C, the Protestant city was besieged for 5 months between 22 March 1589 and 14 August 1589 by the league troops under the command of the Duke of Mercœur, governor of Brittany, aided by inhabitants of 53 villages of the Barony of Vitré.  The meetings of the States of Brittany were held in Vitré in 1655, 1671, 1697 and 1705 when Rennes was ravaged by the plague or insurgents. Madame de Sévigné had at that time a residence in the vicinity of  Vitré, the Chateau des Rochers (of the rocks) where she stayed at least four times between 1671 and 1690, these four travels representing a total of six years of residence and she wrote almost three hundred of her letters. She attended these States of Brittany and made numerous references in these famous letters. It was during the 17C that the barons deserted the city to prefer the Court of Versailles.

All around Vitré, the chouannerie develops in the countryside, in particular the division of Vitré, member of the Catholic and Royal army of Rennes and Fougéres led by Alexis Louis Gordien du Bouays de Couësbouc on the one hand, and the Knights Catholics, led by Joseph de Puisaye and René Augustin de Chalus. In 1799, the Battle of Argentré  occurred, still in the surrounding of Vitré countryside. A legitimitist Royal insurrection, hostile to the new regime of the July monarchy, broke out in 1832 in the country of Vitré, marked in particular by the Battle of Toucheneau.  During his trip to Brittany in 1858, Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie stopped for a few moments in Vitré, the last Breton town visited before their return to Paris via Laval. Vitré also had its haussmannisation with the piercing of streets in its medieval center such as Rue Garangeot, rue Bertr and rue Argentré, rue Bordie and Boulevard Saint-Martin.

The things to see are many as Vitré is a nice place to spend some time in it. (many  have separate posts in my blog).

Le Jardin des Rochers , a private property but open to the public and managed by the city . It’s a park of 30 ha alongside the Château des Rochers-Sévigné, where lived Madame de Sévigné.  Le Jardin du parc : orientalist style and built in 1885 on a small isle. There is a music kiosk built in 1897 and often used by the Military. There is a statue of Mme de Sévigné near the lake.  This English style garden has botanical essences of a varied and rare trees such as pines and thuyas (that reach up to 22 meters high and a floor coverage of 1 800 m2!), Cypress, sequoias, pines etc.

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The museum in the Château de Vitré  includes an exterior visit and the interior with paintings, tapestries, sculptures, and natural history museum. There is the Museum or Musée Saint-Nicolas located about 500 meters from the Castle with a collection of religious jewerly from the end of the 19C and early 20C (Unique in France and of National reference).  The museum or Musée Saint-Nicolas is really the chapel depending and next to the convent of Augustinians built in the 17C; it has a beautiful cloister of the times.   The castle present square was the courtyard or farmyard of the castle: there were the collegiate church, the stables and the common. The entrance is defended by a drawbridge and a mighty Châtelet flanked by two large towers in machicolations. At the south corner stands the dungeon or St. Lawrence Tower, at the northeast corner of the Madeleine Tower, at the northwest corner of the Montafilant tower. These various works are connected by an enclosure reinforced by other towers.  Only one wall enclosure was built in the 13C. Today only the north and east ramparts (the broken tower) and the south wall between the Tour de Claviers (keyboards tower) tower and the Bridole tower remain. Finally, part of the Porte d’Embas  is still standing. This set of ramparts is among the oldest and best preserved in Brittany.

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Château Marie is a 17C building, where the Councelor also stayed. It has a ceiling with exposed beams painted. The stadium and Jardin du parc was part of the property of the princess of Taranto, widow of Henri-Charles de la Trémoille, Baron of  Vitré and friend of Madame de Sévigné.  The Château des Roches-Sévigné, former Breton residence of Madame de Sévigné, is a gothic manor of the 15C located 7 km from Vitré towards Argentré-du-Plessis. Where she wrote several letters to her daughter . It has a garden French style. The museum or Musée des Rochers-Sévigné, is inside showing objects such as the Marquise de Sévigné  letters , where she wrote several letters to her daughter . It has a garden French style.

Vitré, also houses a rich heritage of private mansions, mainly built between the 15C and 19C. We note the Manoir de la Meriais, the Hôtel du Bât, the Hôtel Ringues de la Troussanais, the hotel de la Botte Dorée, and the Hotel de Sévigné. The streets of the Baudrairie, Poterie, Embas, etc. and the squares of the Marchi, station, Castle, and Notre-Dame show a medieval and Haussmann architecture. Out of the 53 houses with porches in Brittany, the rue de Poterie counts 9 and has the most important concentration of houses in porch of the area. Moreover, this street was once called  “Rue des Grands Porches” or the street of the big porches” .

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The Chapelle Saint-Nicolas, at 500 meters from the castle was the chapel of the hospitals Saint-Nicolas and Saint-Yves established in the suburbs since the Middle Ages. The Notre-Dame Church was founded in the 11C by Robert I, a true founder of Vitré. In the 12C, it was entrusted to the Abbey of Saint Melaine in Rennes and became a parish church.  The Church of Saint Martin: Neo-Romanesque church, blessed in 1885. The Church of St. Croix:  built in 1672 on the hillside. It was renovated in 1827.  The priory of the Benedictines or priory of Notre-Dame: This building adjoins the Church of the same name. The Priory hosted the sub-prefecture until 1926. The District court occupied the West Wing until 2010. The north wing has since 2004 an antenna of the house of Cultures of the world, which became in 2011 the French Centre of intangible cultural heritage. The Chapel of Trois-Maries: It is located at the top of the Rue du Rachapt. The name originates from the cult of the three Mary developed in Brittany in the Middle Ages by Pierre de Nantes, who was Bishop of Rennes, and derived from beliefs drawn from the Golden legend.  The Vitré train Station: The construction work of the station started in 1855 and ended in 1857.

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The Monument aux Morts or monument to the dead of Vitré bears the names of 315 soldiers who died for France during WWI. The monument to the dead of Vitré bears the names of 47 people who died for France during WWII.

The references to Vitré are numerous in the literature. Here are some examples with sometimes great authors: Madame de Sévigné, famous epistolary, has precisely described in her famous letters, the urban life of  Vitré in the 17C. Honoré de Balzac, Les Chouans, First Chapter L’embuscade, (the paperback book, pages 40 – 41). and Victor Hugo, as well as others in music literature, painting, and folklore. The Carnival of Gais Lurons, the biggest carnival in Brittany. The parade occurs every year on Palm Sunday. Every year, this great popular event attracts visitors from all over the west of France. Traditionally, the Vitré carnival is characterized by big heads of paper mache and the use of confetti.

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

The city of Vitré on its heritage: https://www.mairie-vitre.com/-Discover-Vitre,88-.html

The Vitré tourist office on things to do/see: https://en.bretagne-vitre.com/

The Ille et Vilaine dept 35 Tourist board on Vitréhttps://www.bretagne35.com/partez-a-la-decouverte-de-lille-et-vilaine/sites-remarquables/vitre/

The Brittany/Bretagne tourist board on Vitréhttps://www.brittanytourism.com/destinations/the-10-destinations/rennes-and-brittanys-historic-gateways/vitre/

There you go a wonderful town of Vitré indeed and really worth a visit , one of those towns passed by many times and when finally came in inside it hits me , lovely place. Again hope you have enjoy the post.

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

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