Archive for March 2nd, 2021

March 2, 2021

Cordes sur Ciel or is it heavens on Cordes!

And going back updating my older posts in my blog to take you again to beautiful Cordes sur Ciel. The story goes that met a native in the French consulat of Miami FL USA , while we were living there and members of Miami Accueil, and got the idea of one day visiting her town of which she spoked well of course. Well time came in my road warrior ways in the region to stop by Cordes sur Ciel or is it heavens on Cordes! Hope you enjoy the post as I.

The town of Cordes sur Ciel is very popular because it is beautiful.  Of course, I love it too. Let me tell you on the wonderful incredible little town of Cordes sur Ciel. This is an area of my dear late wife Martine father’s side family ,the Tarn! The city is in the department of Tarn No. 81 in the region of Occitanie. It was built in the year 1222 by Count Raymond VII of Toulouse as a place of Cathars ( The idea of two Gods or principles, one being good and the other evil, was central to Cathar beliefs opposed by the Catholic Church,) on a medieval layout of narrow and steep streets from which high above it , you can see the wonderful valley of the Cérou. It is a grand site of the region on the route to Saint James/Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage.

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On the road N122 on the left bank of the Cérou river tributary of the Aveyron you are in about 1h15 from Toulouse. The local roads are good but a bit narrow, on the D600 by Vindrac to Albi, and the D922 links the town with Gaillac and connects with the A680 to Toulouse, the one we like to take. There is a train station at Vindrac at about 5 km and local taxis make the run to Cordes, but never taken it.

A bit of history I like. As mentioned, in 1222, the Count Raymond VII gives the chapter of a town to the place called Peuch de Mordagne and by 1229 the treaty of Paris already mentioned Cordes as a stronghold of the Albigeois (proche of Albi another name for the Cathars). During this treaty of Paris of 1229, Jeanne daughter of Raymond VII of Toulouse married in 1241 Alphonse de Poitiers ,brother of king Louis IX. The Count of Toulouse up to them autonomous is attached to the crown of France on the death of Alphonse II and Jeanne in 1271. Cordes never conquered becomes land of the kingdom of France in 1370.

Follow by a golden age period and the construction of many mansions in the gothic style,from the end of the 13C to the middle of the 14C ,with an architectural unity to the bastide allowing to be called the city of the hundreds gothic arches or the Cité aux Cent Ogives with another splendid period from the 14C to the 16C. Hardly touch in the following wars the city has kept its architectural and medieval ambiance of always. During the French revolution, the city was named Cordes-la-Montagne to take away the Ciel or heaven part of the name! Albert Camus after visiting the city in the 1950’s said of it « At Cordes all is beautiful even the disappointments “ or  À Cordes, tout est beau, même le regret.  The city is officially named Cordes-sur-Ciel in 1993.

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Briefly on the things to see in Cordes sur Ciel and with many already told in previous posts in my blog:

The city is surrounded by four ramparts and many gates such as the porte des Ormeaux, porte de la Jane or the porte de l’Horloge. It has a well on the market that is about 114 meters deep. The house of the great hunter or the maison du Grand Veneur is a big house in  sandstone with a façade in three levels , been one of the most sculpture of the city. The mairie or city hall is at the house or maison Fonpeyrouse. The Chapelle du Saint Crucifix , and the Cross or Croix de Cordes sur Ciel. The most important Church is that of Saint Michael or Saint Michel in a meridional gothic style done mostly in the 13C and some renovations in the 15C. The bell tower is from the 14C , the interior has renaissance frescoes and several paintings. You can drive to the village of Pied Haut where you can see the bastide town and a great view of the town emerging from the clouds.  Others are the Convent of the Capucins of Gaillac, done in 1600 located in the chemin des Capucins ,rue La Peyrade. Since 1826 is given to the community of Sisters of Saint Joseph d’Oulias (Rhône). Since 1975 is the principal home of the community of Bliss or the Communauté des Béatitudes , the old community of the Lion of Juda and the Sacrificial Lamb. The paradise garden or Jardin du Paradis is on the first fortified terraces of the city with water pumps, flower carpets and exotic essences on the oriental influence ; each year there is something different for the visitor.

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There is a sugar and chocolate museum or musée du sucre et du chocolat. Inside you will see several creations of art done with the sugar on different themes going from the middle ages to the technologies. It is right in front of the big covered market. In the Maison du Grand Fauconnier (Falconer), it houses the museum of modern and contemporary art or the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, offering a unique contrast with the historical architectural heritage and the artistic creation  showing the styles of different movements with collections from the 20C.  An unique museum we like very much is the Charles Portal history and architecture museum or the Musée Charles Portal Histoire et Architecture that is house in the gate of the porte des Ormeaux, a medieval  building. The Cordes architecture is explained by showing historical items such as sculpture falcons, the former gate of the city hall from the 16C, locks etc of the period; there is a film showing the depths of the market well, and the collections of Cordes are shown as well as the region from pre history to the 16C with pretty items from the gallo roman, merovingians, and medieval periods. From the terrace you have nice views over the fields and the old streets of Cordes.

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Some further webpages to help you in your planning to this unique town are:

The Cordes sur Ciel tourist office in English: https://www.cordessurciel.fr/en/

The city of Cordes sur Ciel on things to see in French: http://mairie.cordessurciel.fr/culture-loisirs/decouvrir-cordes

The Tarn dept 81 tourist office on Cordes sur Cielhttps://www.tourisme-tarn.com/a-voir-a-faire/les-incontournables/cordes-sur-ciel

The Occitanie region tourist board on Cordes sur Cielhttp://tourism-occitania.co.uk/home/things-to-see-and-do/sightseeing-and-exploring/great-tourist-sites-in-midi-pyrenees/villages-and-tourist-attractions/cordes-sur-ciel

There you have it, Cordes sur Ciel or is it heavens on Cordes! A wonderful cloud perch town that is worth any detour you can take while in the region or even go directly there! We came back again and looking forward when possible to see it again.

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

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March 2, 2021

Laval is in the Mayenne!

Ok so this is an update text and pics and of course even the title, not so creative I know. I have several posts with pictures on Laval in my blog and this one was sort of an introduction to the city we like. Hope you enjoy the post and again thanks for reading me over the years!

And on a very rainy even grail and humid evening in my gorgeous Morbihan , I bring something close by again. This is the Mayenne dept 53 and Laval is the city. A nice one and my old boss native town lol! nice guy…Laval is in the Pays de la Loire and about 300 km from Paris. It was historically in the province of Maine, in the Breton and Angevin frontiers and not far from Normandie.

Laval is on the road axis linking Paris to Brest on the autoroute A81 and on the rail lines of Paris Montparnasse to Brest, been the gare de Laval served by the TGV Atlantique. It is also served by the TER Pays de la Loire going between Rennes and Le Mans or Nantes. You passed by quaint towns like Ernée and Craoin and even Fougéres. The course of the Mayenne river goes along the N162 road connecting Laval to Mayenne and even Angers. The road D31 connects Laval with Fougéres and Ernée. These cities I go thru many times on my runs to Paris. Locally, the bus service is handle by TUL and on the department of the Mayenne by Pégase, but never taken them so verify.

The city center is quant old and divided in two by the Mayenne river. The pedestrian streets with lots of shopping is around the Place du 11 novembre. The left bank is more residential . The most notable neighborhoods are between the Avesniéres on the south of city center and the Cathedral on the north around the Place de Hercé or along the rue du Lycée. The green spaces such as the Jardin de la Perrine and the quays on the left bank are also very chic.

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A bit of history I like:

Laval is a relatively young city  for France, not existing before the 11C and mentioned for the frist time as Vallis Guidonis in the 13C or 14C meaning the valley of Guy reference to Lord Guy I, the first lord of  Laval.  There was a castle here very primitive reaching the Cathedral with a dirt moat controlling the access to the castle; the Basilica of Notre Dame d’Avesniéres was founded in the 12C by Lord Guy II of Laval.  The castle by 1206 extended to a plateau where it was the donjon and a ramparts wall of 1100 meters long. Guy XVII had ordered built the new castle around 1542 and it was renovated by 1747. Lord  Guy XVII was a member of the court of king François I and the House of Laval.

Many constructions were done following on the prosperous period of Laval, such as the Monastery of Ursulines, Monastery of Benedictines and the Church of the Capucins, all destroyed during the French revolution. During the wars of the Vendée (against the French revolution) the city is taken by the Royalists in 1793 in the battle of Laval, they were trying to reach Granville to receive support from England but the expedition to Normandy failed and the revolutionaries overtook Laval later in the year eventually losing the siege of Angers and defeated by Republican armies.

Early 1871, the Prussian army are at the doors of the city but by no known reason took back and did not entered. This miracle according to local legend is attributed to the Virgin Mary that shows up to the children of Pontmain in January 17. In the morning of August 6 1944 the troops of General Patton US 3rd army arrived at Laval and face the offensive to take the city from the Nazis, the dynamite the bridges over the Mayenne river but by 15H or 3pm the city is liberated. The General Bradley set up command at the Castle of Bois Gamats. It is from the nearby aerodrome that he gives orders to General Leclerc on August 22nd to advance towards Paris, the step needed for the final liberation of Paris!

Things to see that I like:

Laval is a city full of heritage by the river and around town there at least 37 Religioius statues  dating from the 15C to 20C put in niches around the city center and  monuments as grand as the La Jolie by Louis Derbré, statue of Ambroise Paré by David d’Angers, and the one on Alfred Jarry by Ossip Zadkine , the one on Beatrix de Gâvre or Ubu roi and the monument to the fallen of the WWI dessigned by Hyacinthe Perrin; the city also has a Wallace fountain, a music kiosk from 1879 and the Morris columns.  Harder to find are the fountains at the Place des Quatre Docteurs-Bucquet and the one at place Saint Tugal dating from the 18C.

The wonderful Château de Laval, over the old town with two different buildings one the old or Vieux Château and the New or Château Neuf. All along worth for visiting here. The first old castle is from the medieval period built in granite and chalk, it has a court, chapel, donjon, and housing body. The Chapel is from the 12C and the Donjon and housing body are from the 13C .  The exterior renovated in the 15C and 16C and some rooms redone at the same time.  the new castle has a wing on a gallery in the renaissance style done in 1542.  It was decorated in 1747 and enlarged by a lateral building and a wing from around 1854. While the French revolution the old castle became a prison and the tribunals were in the new castle. The prison was purchased by the city in 1909 and renovated later change into a museum after 1920. The Justice palace left the Renaissance wing in 1996. There is a stair seen in the old castle that came from the Abbey of Clermon.

You can still see some parts of the ramparts that enclosed the castle with the towers Renaise, and Belot Oisel and the gate or Porte Beucheresse. The walls you see dates from the 13C and the round walk or chemin de ronde on the machicolis was added in the 15C . You see around it many wooden houses dating from the 15C and 16C especially those around the streets, Grande rue, rue des Chevaux, rue de Chapelle, and rue Renaise.  Other houses built in the 16C and houses with decorations on them can be seen by the streets rue Ambroise-Paré, rue de Paradis , and the ruelle Boulain.

There are some wonderful architecture here and well worth the walk within history. At the Place de Hercé you see the Hôtel Périer du Bignon dating from 17771, Hôtel du Bas du Gast from 1742, Hôtel Dubois de Beauregard from 1772, and along the rue du Lycée see the Hôtel du Plessis d’Argentré from 1771. Moving right along wonderful Laval, you come to the Hôtel Busson aka Grande Maison built middle 16C with a side court, semi open to the street showing the different levels of the house. In 1619 it was renovated and enlarged and finally purchased in 1791 by François Busson, Sir of Chambellay where he was assassinated in 1819. By 1821, the house is purchased by Thérése Rondeau, founder of the Sisters of the misercorde of Notre Dame of Laval, her tomb is in the garden, and today it is a retirement home. There is a wonderful street axis that includes the rue de Paris, rue de la Paix, rue du Général de Gaulle and rue de Bretagne done early in the 19C to get around the old town and show a new city center. These works allowed the construction of the bridge or Pont Aristide Briand or Pont Neuf built between 1812 and 1824 with several nice buildings like the Hôtel de Ville or city hall and the municipal theater. You see nice mansions done after 1850 by the rue de Paris and rue de Bretagne.

You need to see the Cathedral on the gothic angevin style as Cathedral de la Holy Trinity or Cathédrale de la Sainte Trinité ,and the Basilica of Notre Dame d’Avresniéres  in the roman style architecture. This Church was first mentioned in the 11C and offered to the sisters Benedictines a century later; they had it rebuilt but took several years because the War of  Hundred Years, and the arrow was done in 1538.  It goes into a bad deterioration and it became necessary to rebuilt identically finishing in 1887 . The Church of the Cordeliers was attached to the convent of the Franciscans built end of the 14C  but added very important baroque additions in the 17C like the porch and the altar. You come to see interesting sites such as the shower baths of Laval opened in 1927 with an Art Déco style and a granite façade and glass and ceramics in the interior were added after the bombings of 1944.The Viaduc crossing the Mayenne river done in 1856 and 25 meters high. The jardin de la Perrine with a high level promenade been an old private park purchased by the city in 1885 that is surrounded by a mansion from the 18C.  The park is share by a French and English style garden and a rosary and also has an orangerie from the 19C as well as a petting animal zoo with goats ,ducks and rabbits. You ,also, will find the tomb of Douanier Rousseau.

There are museums such as the Vieux Château museum  known for the collection of Naîf arts with works of Douanier Rousseau  and others from the same movement such as Jean-Joseph Sanfourche, Séraphine Louis, Lucien Le Guern, and Robert Tatin; and now call the naïf art museum but has as well a collection of portraits from the 19C and by Charles Landelle, Auguste Anastasi, and Guillaume Fouace as well as illustrations by Léopold Lelée , designs of old Laval, engravings, weapons and ceramics.  It has in addition a collection dedicated to ethnology of Africa and Asia with a stamp of Utagawa Kunisada and historic relics such as those from Saint Tugdual and the work bag of Ambroise Paré.

The Sciences Museum in a building from the end of the 19C has over 130K objects and especially fossils as it specialise in paleonthalogy, as well as herbs, grains, eggs, minerals ,shelling, bones of animals and birds , reptiles, etc. It has the collection going from the paleolithic to the high middle age years  including points of arrows, harpoons, jewelry and swords as well as insects and old intruments like telescopes etc , as well as curiosities. Then, the smaller school museum of Perrine in the mansion in the middle of the Jardin de la Perrine open on temporary expositions and courses of plastic arts and applied arts are given.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this interesting city that is worth a detour are

The city of Laval on its heritage: https://www.laval.fr/decouvrir-sortir/tourisme-patrimoine/patrimoine

The Laval tourist office: http://www.laval-tourisme.com/en

The Mayenne dept 53 tourist office on Laval: https://www.mayenne-tourisme.com/en/les-vallees-de-la-mayenne-en/le-pays-de-laval-en/

Hope it helps. Enjoy the city of Laval, worth the detour and surprisintly nice. And remember happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!!

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March 2, 2021

The Château de Mayenne!!!

And here is one of the best moment of updating my older posts in my blog; that is findind missing links! There is so much and so wonderful travel in my belle France, I sometimes overlook  monuments! This is the case with the Château de Mayenne, a castle museum now which told you already on the museum but feel the castle needs a bit more me think. Therefore, here is my take on the Château de Mayenne! Hope you enjoy it as I!

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The city of Mayenne in department Mayenne no 53 on region Pays de la Loire at about 250 km west of Paris .Dominating the banks of the Mayenne river between Le Mans and the littoral of the Manche. Mayenne is located north of the department of the Mayenne between Laval and Domfront, Aleçon, and Fougéres. Before the French revolution it was part of the province of Maine and after split into the Mayenne and Sarthe both in Pays de la Loire.

The transports well this is my usual route now by car to Paris,toll free. The city is crossed by the N12 that links Paris to Brest passing by Alençon, and also connecting to Pré en Pail, Ernée, and Fougéres where you can connect to the A84 connecting Caen to Rennes (and also Vannes) and the autoroute A28 connecting Tours to Abbeville.  You, also have the D23 that follows the course of the Mayenne river going north to south in the department and allows you to connect to Laval, Chateau Gontier and Angers on the south direction, and Domfront and Caen on the north direction. This road ,also allows you to connect with the autoroute A81 north of Laval that goes into Le Mans and Rennes. Amazing ,there is no train station here the one existant was closed long ago.  The region Pays de la Loire has not decided to re open it, in the meantime there are buses on the network Pégase of Mayenne that connects to Laval and other cities in the department (never use it so verify).

A bit of history I like on an old city of Mayenne.  The city of Mayenne first appeared in the Middle Ages on a Roman road connecting Jublains to Vieux near Caen and it was here that you can crossed the Mayenne river. From the Gauls time, the people of Aulerques Diablintes had their capital at Moulay south of the city ,later this was abandoned after the Roman conquest and a new town was built at Jublains. After much fiscal pressure, the territory was attached to the Cénomans of which capital and bishop was at Le Mans; this union of lower maine and upper maine allows the union of the province of Maine.

The Château de Mayenne was founded in the 7C and mentioned for the first time in 778 while Charlemagne gives it to the bishop of Le Mans. It is a noble residence in wood surrounded by a moat, this has disappeared only visible by some holes in the poles. The Bretons that carried wars against the Franks attacked it several times between 840 and 870. The castle bridges are demolished with the exception of the Caisse d’Epargne ; an American soldier J.D Mac Racken sacrifices himself to stop its destruction and later allowed the Allied to force the nazis to run over the Mayenne river,and now carries Mac Racken name.(see post).

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The new Château de Mayenne was a former fortified castle, from the 10C, built under the reign of Charles the Simple, and remodeled several times, originally a Carolingian palace, it was redeveloped several times during the Middle Ages, before becoming an 18C prison. The castle will finally be bought by the city of Mayenne in 1936. During major development work carried out in 1993, Carolingian remains were brought to light. This discovery of preserved Carolingian civil or military buildings is extremely rare , and seen in the museum.

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The castle dominates the Mayenne river on its south-eastern facade, the spur being bordered to the north by the Danube stream which fed the moat and which is now underground and channeled.. The castle is located on the steps of Bretagne, and like the Château de Laval, (see post) it was responsible for defending Maine against Bretagne, Anjou and Normandie. It thus faces the Breton castle of Fougères. With the borders with Lower Normandie and Bretagne only 18 km to the north and 33 km to the west, the town’s marginal position has long contributed to its strategic importance.

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The Château de Mayenne was for its part under royal control from 1592. The castle became a prison in 1745 and a canvas market was built in the courtyard in 1775. The tower on the boulevard for its part accommodated the canvas gauges. A pond   which served as a moat to the west of the castle dried up in 1787. The castle, which continued to accommodate prisoners during the French revolution, was bought in 1815 by an individual, Charles Desjardins. The openings and the roofs are redone, and a wall separates the courtyard in two, in order to delimit the space of the men from that of the women. The grand staircase was completed in 1825, and the commercial court was installed on the tower of the boulevard until 1854. The covered canvas was used as a theater before being replaced by a new construction in 1890. In 1935, the prison was closed and sold to the city of Mayenne, which now owns the entire castle.  On June 21, 2008 the city of Mayenne opened a museum in the castle (see post) The permanent collections are centered on the discoveries made during the archaeological excavations of the site.

The museum castle of Mayenne on the castle history: https://www.museeduchateaudemayenne.fr/decouvrir-le-chateau/son-histoire-2/

The Mayenne tourist office on the museum castle: https://www.mayenne-tourisme.com/les-vallees-de-la-mayenne/la-haute-mayenne/les-incontournables/chateau-musee-de-mayenne/

There you go folks, now I feel better having given credit in my blog to a nice property itself the Château de Mayenne. An impressive building once driving a car over the Mayenne river! Again hope you have enjoy the post as I

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

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