Archive for March 23rd, 2021

March 23, 2021

This is Evreux!!!

And let me update this older post in my blog on a fine Norman town. As other posts in my blog, this will be in my black and white series, no pictures. My first inclination to see Evreux was that a good friend collegue of mine was a native and told me stories about her town, ironically she is now in Marseille! However, let me tell you a bit about nice Evreux!

I like to continue my routes of my belle France , remembering previous visits with the family. One area we went a lot and love it as many is in Normandy. However, not only the popular sights glossy over all tourist brochures and else. Come to see the beauty of the French countryside and its wonderful towns with Cathedrals to match any. Come to the Eure dept 27 and visit Evreux.

However, like I said, the tourist points are on my previous blog post, here will give you a bit of the history of this nice town in country Normandy Évreux is in the deparment 27 Eure, in the heart of the valley of the Iton , a river too which you can reach on the highway A13 autoroute de Normandie or the N13.  There is a train station on the line Paris Gare Saint Lazare –Evreux etc. There is a bus service with nine lines but usually very local.

A bit of history I like

In the Roman antique times the city of Evreux was identified as Mediolanum Aulercorum and was the capital of the people of Aulerques Eburovices founded in the end of the 1C BC.  At the end of the 3C after several raids by the barbarians to the city, it was built a wall ramparts at you can see today part of it in the Museum of Evreux. This protection gave rise to a monetary treasury discovered in 1890. After been kept at the Museum of Evreux ,it was taken to the National Library of France , it is 340 kg of Roman moneys coins ,about 110K of them Antoninians of which about 15 500 bears the face of roman emperor Gallien.

By the Middle Ages, Taurin was the first bishop of Evreux, died around 410 , and its honor an abbey of  Saint -Taurin was given by its founder the duke of Normandy Richard II. Évreux became in 989 AD the seat of the county of Evreux and diocese of Evreux, and was invaded and destroyed many times by invading armies, especially from England.  As an anecdote, many familes bearing Devereux are found in England especially around Essex where many counts were of Devereux as well in Ireland , all coming from the name of Evreux.  With the marriage of Philippe d’Evreux with Jeanne de Navarre, daughter of king Louis X le Hutin, the Evreux rule over the kingdom of Navarra. The direct line of the family of Evreux disappeared in 1400 with the death of Charles d’Evreux, cousin of king Charles II while the Navarrese line (Capetian line Evreux-Navarre) lasts until 1441.

By 1793, during the French revolution many citizens tried in vain to resists the convention. During WWII the city suffered many bombings first by the Nazis in 1940 and later the Americans in 1944. The city center was rebuilt shortly thereafter.

Things to see, not to repeat those given in my post and expands on others will just name them briefly here:

The tour de l’Horloge (beffroi -see post) clock tower and the museum of Evreux (see post) with the archeological room with discoveries of the region gallo roman period , statue in bronze of Jupitor Stator, many rooms dedicated to the Middle Ages, and tapestries of Aubusson 14C. The first floor (2nd US) is dedicated to the works from the 17C and 18C with a nice collection of old watches .The last floor or 3rd (4th US) you have paintings and sculpture from the 19C  such as by Flandrin, Boudin, Rodin, and Gérôme. There is a bishop’s garden that is nice . You have the wonderful Notre Dame Cathedral , (see post) gothic style. As well as the Church of Saint Taurin with the coffin of Saint Taurin work of art from the medieval goldsmiths. The before mentioned ramparts of the 4C of 9 hectares, the old convent of the Capucins later a high school then the national school of music and now a conservatory of music of Evreux.

Others are the municipal Theater 20C Italian style built in 1903., The former convent of the Cordeliers , Franciscan medieval architecture of Normandy, and the former convent of the Ursulines now a national police hq at corner of rue Edouard Ferray/rue Buzot. The city hall or Hôtel de ville,b. end 19C at the location of the former Château of the Counts of Evreux; the current building built between 1889 and 1895. The Botanical gardens next to the convent of the Capucins ; the bridge or  Pont Eiffel, built for the railroad tracks by Gustave Eiffel in 1886. It is now overpass the streets between rue Pierre Sémard and rue de la Résistance. Very nice quaint medieval streets on the list of National Monuments of France are the boulevard  Chambaudoin and the allée des Soupirs as well as the Place Saint Taurin with very nice tree lined streets.

The city of Evreux on its heritage:

The Eure dept 27 tourist board on Evreux

The Normandie tourist board on Evreux

And there, hope it helps you discovered the real pretty quaint Normandy. And Evreux is one door to it that is worth a detour. Enjoy the post and see you around Evreux one day when possible.

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

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March 23, 2021

Auch is a lot more than D’Artagnan!

And here I go again with my updates, great memories comes alive again and even better on these new times of ours. We were on our road warrior mode passing by the region of Occitanie and stop at Auch. A very pleasant surprise and I like to update this introductory post on Auch as other posts shows pictures and sights in my blog. Hope you enjoy it and come on over to Auch!

This is another dandy town we like. It is more than D’Artagnan, yes that captain of the musketeers a real character immortalize by Dumas in the book and later movie. He was born not far from here in the Chateau de Castelmore near village of Lupiac. Let’s tell you about the city of Auch.

Auch is in department Gers no 32  in the region of Occitanie. The town is practically in the center of the Gers department and only 69 km west of Toulouse 162 km from Bordeaux, 390 km from Marseille, 530 km from Nantes and 595 kms from Paris to name a few. Auch is crossed by the Gers river a tributary of the Garonne river that divides the city into the the upper town or haute-ville, on the left bank where the medieval city center is located on a hill and the lower town or basse-ville, on the right bank. The upper town is link to the banks of the Gers river by pousterles of the middle ages, meaning tight narrow streets with high elevation and the Escalier Monumental or monumental stairs built in 1863 (see post).  It is wide beautiful country by car on the roads N124 linking Toulouse to the N524 direction Bordeaux. Also a train station serving TER trains from Toulouse-Matabiau station. The LGV line last read was in study to link it with Toulouse. Picture of our parking while visiting Auch!

auch-pl-de-la-liberation jul10

The bit of history I like. At Roman times the city  was developing fast and became the main urban center of  Occitanie (old Aquitanie)  on the crossing of two Roman ways such as Lyon des Convénes (Saint Bertrand de Comminges) to Agen and Toulouse to Bazas, and after the looting of the town of  Eauze , Augusta Auscorum becomes the main city.  In the Christian era, Auch was elected to a bishop and then archbishop in 879AD.

Auch was capital for a while of the Counts of Armagnac in the 10C and 11C ; and was taken in several occasions to serve the fighting of power between the Church, Municipal and Lordships. From the 12C the city was shared by the two authorities that of Armagnac and the archbishop , and the lines were present on the gates of the city and on the columns of the old market until the French revolution.  After the battle of Lectoure in 1473 marking the end of the Armagnac dynasty the city was taken by the troops of king of France ,Louis XI . WWII passed by here with just some collaborators turning jews into the concentration camps.

Some of the things to see here are:

The Hôtel de Ville facing the Cathedral built between 1760 and 1778. It has a theatre on the Italian style that still is open today as well as a room of notables with the portraits of many famous Gascons. Early in the 12C the archibishop Raymond II ordered built a new palace for him and his successors at the place of existing buildings occupied by the sacristies and prisons including the tour d’Armagnac; The current building of the regional government or préfecture du Gers now occupies the archiepiscopal palace that was finished between 1750 and 1770 at the same place of the old medieval building of which some sections are still preserve.

The tourist office is in a wooden house from the 15C . The Maison de Gascogne is a market in stone decorated with commerce signs that originally for the business of grains but now houses a wonderful local produce market which we liked very much. The former Church of des Carmelites on the square of the same name is today the municipal library ; this medieval building was before the castle of the counts of Fezensac and later Armagnac, built in the 17C. The Place Salinis is a nice quaint medieval square to walk too. The nice bridge or pont de la Treille built between 1746 and 1750.

The must see for coming here are The Sainte Marie Cathedral (see post) built between the 15C and the 17C with stained glass that are just gorgeous, and the choir with 113 stalls in massive oak representing more than 1500 personages. On the way to Santiago de Compostela, St James way in which the Cathedral offers lodgings. The escalier monumental of neo classic style connecting the upper town to the lower town in 374 steps on a 35 meters levelling with six volleys of which four are double on a rest platform and three pylons in the terrace to showcase the fountains and garden. It has at its center a statue of Charles de Batz, aka D’Artagnan true musketeers work of Michelet in 1931.

Others are the Cloister of Cordeliers from the 14C in excellent shape with a capitulary room and remains of a cloister The collège (middle school) d’Auch founded in 1543 and eventually taken over by the Jesuites in 1590 until 1762, later the college is then name the College Salinis with a Chapel consecrated in 1628 for a nice architecture view. Hôpital général Saint-Augustin started construction in 1715 ; it was for two centuries manage by the Sisters of St Vincent de Paul until its closing in 1974 when the new hospital was built. The tour d’Armagnac, built in the 14C was originally a prison on the archibishop palace then later warehouse of religious archives, and later back to prison in the 19C and served until 1860. The donjon tower of 40 meters is on top of the monumental stair and has the the prison cells on the lower section and some by level which you can see climbing a steep stair today.

The museum of the Jacobins of Auch or Musée des Jacobins d’Auch were created by govt order in 1793 to house the collections taken by force by the French revolution mostly paintings and objects of arts, additions to it were by the archeological museum of the Sociéte historique de Gascogne end of the 19C. In 1921 it was enriched by the donation of  Guillaume Pujos of great Latin American work and later by the ethnographic gascon collection of Henri Polge after WWII , after several moving the museum is finally since 1979 at the former convent of Jacobins  In 2007, the museum benefited from a donation by the Lions international that gave it the second collection of pre Colombian arts in France after that of the Museum of Quai Branly in Paris of which they collaborate.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this again wonderful area of my belle France:

The city of Auch on history and heritage:

The Auch tourist office:

The Gers dept 32 tourist board on Auch:

The Occitanie region tourist board on Auch:

There ,quite a bit of nice town deep in my France, you know you should come and visit it. Auch is great, we have good memories of visiting and eating there with the family.

Enjoy Auch as we do and remember, happy travels, good health and plenty of cheers to all!!!

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March 23, 2021

Metz, a lot more than a Cathedral!!!

And this was a curiosity as we were doing runs to Luxembourg city and passed by this city a few times…Finally, we decided to visit it first time at Christmas time for its wonderful Christmas market which is to be recommended. I am glad to update this post on Metz for you and I, and hope you enjoy it as I.

 A very unique city of France and with an unique history. We love it going at it by car and enjoy very much their Christmas market. The Cathedral is awesome to rival any in my opinion, and so much to see here. Of course, from the title you know I am talking about Metz. You say it like a mess and not met pronunciation. You can read on the sights and more pictures in my posts on Metz in my blog.

Metz  is in the department of the Moselle no 57 and in the region of Grand Est. It was part of the Three bishops until 1790 (together with Verdun ,and Toul) and was in the historical Lorraine region.  The city is several thousand years old known as the Divodurum Mediomatricorum and later as Mettis , becoming capital of the kingdom of the Francs, wanted by the kingdom of France,, Metz is annexed in the 19C to the German empire. With a diversity of architectural buildings from antiquity to the 20C with medieval and classic French influence as well as German especially in the neighborhood Imperial from the annexation of the Alsace-Lorraine on the Wilhermine architectural style.

Metz is at the crossing of many roads and only 55 km from Luxembourg, 53 km from Nancy, and 60 km from Sarrebruck, 130 km from Strasbourg, 155 km from Reims and 320 km from Paris as well as 230 km from Francfurt. Metz is in the Valley of the Moselle and on the Moselle river coming from the southwest and the Seille that goes by the historical gate of the Germans or Porte des Allemands coming from saulnois; the town is on the hills of the Sainte Croix and the Citadelle. The roads are good coming on the autoroute A4 that connects Paris to Reims, Strasbourg and the A31 to Luxembourg on the north (my route) and Nancy, Toul and Lyon on the south. By airplane you have the local regional airport of Metz-Nancy-Lorraine about 20 km from the city center and link to the train station Lorraine TGV that, is also link by expressway to the city , the major airports is that of Luxembourg –Findel at about 70 km by the A31 and on the same distance you have the Sarrebruck-Einheim on the A320 road. The train station of Gare de Metz is very nice and fast trains arrived from Gare de l’Est of Paris as well as train station Gare Metz-Nord handles the local TER lines.  Metz is also accessable by the canal de la Moselle reaching the city center with a pleasure marina.

metz-porte-des-allemands dec06

A bit of history I like ,and a lot of it which I condense as much as possible.

The name comes from the original inhabitants known such as the Médiomatriques a celtic tribe that eventually gave the name to the city of Metz; first appearing on a text from a Roman general Julius Ceasar. The celtic tribe was here around 3C BC on a territory going from the Argonne to the Vosges.  It was in 58 BC  that the Romans occupied the city ;shortly after the conquest the Romans name Metz as a Divodurum Mediomatricorum and make it part of the Belgians Gauls of which the capital was Durocortorum , present day Reims. Metz was the capital of the kingdom of Austrasia (Prussians/germans) for two centuries of the Frankish period from  511 to 751.  In 511 upon the death of king Clovis the sons inherited the territory so Thierry 1er fix his capital at Reims then later at Mettis (Metz) and it is here that the Carolinian dynasty is born started by Pepin le Brief in 751. Metz is declared a free city of the Holy Roman Empire.

In 1552, the king of France Henri II takes the area of the three bishops or Metz, Verdun, and Toul. After the entrance of the troops of Anne de Montmorency in town and thanks to some local  support  the king Henri II makes an entrance to Metz on April 18 1552.    After the battle of Borny-Colombey in August of 1870 Metz is siege or surrounded by the 20 of August and finally surrended on October 28; the Prussian troops entered the town the next day after taking the strongest city in France and Metz is attached again to the German empire from May 10 1871 as stipulated in the treaty of Francfurt. Metz becomes the main town of the Bezirk Lothringen a district in the Lorraine integrated to the Reichsland Elsab Lothringen or German state until 1918. As in the rest of the Moselle, the French language is prohibited in the primary schools where the German teacher gives classes in German. The French is allowed as a foreign language in the high schools and some bilingual schools. Each year, the emperor William II comes visit the city  to inspects the civil works and the fortifications.

While WWI begins the Moselle people sided with the German empire , very rare are those who refused, and died in the fields defending the Germans on the Eastern front but also on the west. By November 16 1918, the troops leave the city and the French army entered the city on November 17 evening with a deserted town; the city is returned to France in 1918.  After the intervention of the USA many Germans who were send back could return by 1920; but the superior management classes and the capital never returns to Metz or the Moselle region. After 48 years of annexation the population had become bilingual and the German culture is well impregnated in the daily life of the Metz people, the Messins. The majority of Messins had by consequences a double cultural franco-german base on the eve of WWII.

As WWII begins by June 14 1940 Metz is declared an open city, and three days later at 17H (5PM) the Nazis arrived with a motorized patrol of the 379 infantery regiment opening the way for the 169th infantry division on an empty city and raised the nazi flag on the city hall . Again anexed Metz becomes the front post of the Gau Westmark or the western march of the third reich of which the seat was at Sarrebruck. The nazi regime established a politic of annexation by forming a CdZ Gebiet Lothringen and even Hitler himself visit the city at Christmas December 25 1940.  As been in the Moselle annexed the Metz population becomes part of the Deutsche Volksgemeinschaft or the community of German people under strick security  and followup by the police. At the battle of Metz August 27, 1944, The American Third Army led by General Patton faced the 1st army of General von Knobelsdorff ,the nazis block the advance of the Americans using the forts of WWI as defensive wall; the battle ended with heavy losses on both sides after many bombings and tanks offensive;finally the battle ended on November 22 1944 with the American and allies victory .  The nazis holding the fort Jeanne d’Arc held by the 462nd Volks Grenadier division until December 13 1944.

This is heavens in architecture of two sides of their history.  Some of the monuments by architectural period (there are too many to see !!!) Some are mentioned individually in my blog:

Those from the Holy Roman Empire are the Church of Saint Maximin ,Church of Saint Pierre aux Nonnains (possible oldest Church in France) , Chapelle des Templiers and the Grand and Moyen pont des Morts. Those with Italian influences ( 13C to 14C ) are the facades of the Place Saint Louis, Hôtel Saint Livier and some mansions of the Place Sainte Croix; Gothic style are the abbey of Saint Vincent, Saint Etienne Cathedral (wonderful a must to see) Hôtel de Gargan, Hôtel de la  Bulette, the grain depot of Chévremont, the gate or Porte des Allemands; from the Renaissance period ( 13C to 15C) we have the Hôtel de Burtaigne, and the Maison des Têtes. The main buildings from the Monarchies periods are in renaissance style (16C)  the storage stores and the citadelle, on the baroque style (16C to 18C) Church of des Petits Carmes, Church of Notre Dame de l’Assomption, Church of Saint Simon-Saint Jude ; from the neo classic period (16C to 18C) we have the Porches of the abbey of  Saint Vincent, Hôtel de Ville, Opéra-Theater, Justice Palace and the covered market; the rococo style (18C) we have the abbey of Sainte Glossinde.  The main buildings from the German empire are on the neo gothic style, the porch of the Cathedral St Etienne, façade of Church Sainte Ségolène and the temple de garnison, in the neo roman rhenan style (19C to 20C) the central post office, the temple neuf, and the gare de Metz train station.; on the neo renaissance Flemish style (19C to 20C) we have the Governors palace, and the Hôtel des Arts et Métiers; art nouveau style (20C) we have the maison bleue, place Saint Jacques (great at Christmas time) and some buildings on the avenue Foch and neighborhood of Imperial , Sablon, and Queuleu.; Main buildings from the Imperial period of France and the French Republic are on the neo classical style (19C) the Arsenal, neo roman (19C) synagogue consistoriale; on the modernist movement we have the Church of Sainte Thérése de l’Enfant Jesus, and on the contemporary style we have the amphitheatre in centre Pompidou Metz.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here in addition to my blog post above are:

The city of Metz on its heritage:

The Metz tourist office

The Moselle dept 57 tourist office on Metz

In essence you need more than one day here, maybe 3 days to see it all. Well we spent a week and did not see all, more reason to come back when possible as Metz is nice!.  We love it as we have been even at the Chrismas Market here all over the city. Hope it helps and enjoy it as I do.

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

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