Archive for March 26th, 2021

March 26, 2021

Maisons-Laffitte, a castle and more!!

So will update for you and me this older post of a nice town that was near me for a period of my life. It is a royal town of France but seldom mentioned or seen, sort of like an off the beaten path town. I have a few posts on it in my blog and would like to expand a bit here. Hope you enjoy my take on Maisons-Laffitte!

And why not a castle very close to Paris and seldom visited but is a must for the architecture and the history of it as well as the horse races. Well, it was not far from me while in the area so used to go there a lot ,even to shop in the wonderful gourmet store of Longueil.  I am talking about Maisons-Laffitte of course. It is a town in the département 78 Yvelines in the region of Île-de-France, about 10 km from Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and 18 km from Paris. It is at the banks of the Seine river on the left bank and on the west it has the forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The metro area also includes a part of the isles of the Seine and de la Commune.  The road D308 runs from Paris to Poissy passing by Maisons-Laffitte as principal road. The train station connects to Gare Saint Lazare in Paris and also has the regional express train RER A line L from many points in Paris. The night bus N152 Gare de Cergy-le-Haut Paris St-Lazare, passes by Maisons-Laffitte as well.

A bit of history I like

The first mention of the village dates from about 820, in the writing of Bishop Minot, the name was Mansionis Villa.  The first squire was certainly Nivard of Septeuil. His son Geoffroy I granted the Abbey of Saint-Wandrille de Fontelle the free passage in front of the port of Maisons  towards 1060-1066. He also gave towards 1087 the Church of Maisons at the Abbey of Our Lady of Coulombs (near Nogent-le-Roi), with land, vines, tithes and a share of the toll. The family of Avesne  kept its land, which quickly passed to the family of Marseille. The family ceded their property from 1460 to Jean IV de Longueil, judge in the Parliament of Paris. The Lordship’s town will be found in 1602, when John VIII of Longueil buys the share of Marseille.

And the main attraction here, the castle.

The castle was built by François Mansart, uncle of Jules Hardouin-Mansart who will build Versailles a few years later… This new building takes the place of the previous buildings built by the two lineages of house Lords. The castle will be great, to receive the king during the hunts in the forest of Saint-Germain. It is for this reason that the entrance to the monument is back to the Seine, preceded by a wide avenue coming from the forest. Construction started around 1642, ending at 1650. king Louis XIV lodged there in 1671 on the day of the death of Philippe François de France, duke d’Anjou.

Maisons laffitte castle main ent jun12

The first alleys of the park, the Avenues Albine and Aegle, are contemporary of the castle. The other aisles will be created during the 18C. A map of 1740 shows it as we know it today. A majority of families live in the vineyard, which occupies 40% of the cultivated land. Among the descendants of René de Longueil, figure Jean-René who received scholars and writers at the château, among which Voltaire. The latter tells in his correspondence the fire which damaged the building in 1724, when he left after being treated with smallpox.

Maisons laffitte castle right side jun12

Starting with the king, to please Madame de Pompadour in 1747, then to Madame du Barry in 1770 to sell the castle. But king Louis XV did not let himself be engaged in these operations and end up selling Maisons in 1777 to the Count of Artois, brother of king Louis XVI and future king Charles X, who complemented the embellishments. The French revolution has finally put an end to this procrastination. The Count of Artois fled to England, and the estate was put under receivership in 1792.  Put on sale in 1797 as national property, the ensemble is awarded to Jean Lanchère , supplier to armies interested in the profits he can make of the buildings, Lanchère destroys some pavilions, sells sculptures… to finally resell the Castle in  1804 to Marshal Lannes after his death in 1809 at the Battle of Essling, his wife, the Duchess of Montebello, sometimes received the emperor in visits. The latter, in 1810, ordered the construction of the first bridge between Sartrouville and Maisons.

Maisons laffitte castle back jun12

In 1813, the Duchess of Montebello received the Empress Marie-Louise, of whom she had been a lady of honour for three years. In 1818, she sells the estate of Maisons in favour of Jacques Laffitte. Opponent of king Charles X (the former owner of the castle, between 1777 and 1789, while he was Count of Artois), Jacques Laffitte welcomed many members of the political opposition to Maisons. It is therefore logical that he exerts decisive influence during the other French revolution of 1830.

Maisons laffitte castle patio to gardens jun12

Jacques Laffitte is appointed President of the Council and Minister of Finance of the king. Overwhelmed by political agitation, he left the post in 1831, and came out pretty much ruined from the adventure. As a result of these events, he decided to divide the estate of Maisons to carry out a fruitful real estate operation. In 1833, the stables and other dependencies were destroyed in order to provide building materials for the purchasers of the park lots.  In 1834 is deposited before notary the specifications of this subdivision, a copy of which is, even today, given to each purchaser in the park. The idea of this specification is to lay the principles of construction of this “city in the countryside”. To ensure the service of the properties, Jacques Laffitte is led to open new avenues in the park. Starting from the already existing backbone (avenues Aegle, Albine…), he traces geometric figures. He also draws a cross of the Legion of Honour around the place Napoleon and the Circle of fame, from which avenues will bear the names of the battles of the emperor. Jacques Laffitte died on May 26, 1844, carried by a pulmonary disease. The estate passes to the hands of his daughter Albine, who proceeds from 1846 to an auction of the remaining lots and who will eventually sell the estate in 1850, including the 33 hectares including the Castle. Charles Laffitte, a large horse-sport enthusiast, is a founding member of the Jockey Club in Paris, where the Encouragement society will be established. He owned the “Le Val-Fleuri” property in the park where the Malesherbes room is currently located, although the property was much larger.

The remains of the water machine of Maisons-Laffitte on the small arm of the Seine. It was probably built by François Mansart at the request of René de Longueil to fuel his future Castle of Maisons in 1634. Destroyed in 1885, it remains today that the three masonry abutments on which the machine rested. The wonderful  Château de Maisons-Laffitte (b. 1643). is considered a masterpiece of 17C civil architecture. Constituting a reference in the history of French architecture, it marks the transition between the end of late Renaissance architecture and that of Classicism.

The official webpage for the castle of Maisons-Laffittehttp://www.chateau-maisons.fr/en/

The webpage for the Friends of the Castle of Maisons-Laffittehttp://amisduchateau.fr/sacm/la-sacm/

Other things to see in Maisons-Laffitte!

Inaugurated in 1878, the Hippodrome de Maisons-Laffitte (horse racecourse)  is part of the series of racing fields built during the second half of the 19C  in the region of ïle de France in addition to the Grands racecourses of Paris (Auteuil, Longchamp, Saint-Cloud and Vincennes) and alongside those of the Marche in Marnes-La-Coquette (1851), Enghien (1879), Saint-Ouen (1881) and Colombes (1883). A runway of 4 680 meters in grass, located on the edge of the Seine. The straight line of more than 2 000 meters is the longest in Europe with the Rowley Mile Course in Newmarket (Suffolk, England). The Hippodrome de Maisons-Laffitte has the peculiarity of being the only course of flat runs  in Île-de-France where horses can run rope left and rope right in the same meeting of races. Different track configurations are possible, with a total of 35 different departures: A right-hand rope track (1 600 meters to 3 200 meters), a left-hand rope track (1 400 meters to 2 400 meters), and a straight line (2 000 meters).

Contemporaries of the château, several pavilions also of François Mansart: Two at the entrance of the Parc de Maisons-Laffitte, framing the two gates of Maisons-Laffitte, once closed by a grid. Two others a little further, very revamped, in the extension of Avenue Albine. A fifth in the northern cellars, Eglé Avenue, at another end of the park.  An old church of the 11C and 16C, disaffected in 1896, today Exhibition Center. The Fountain of Maisons-Laffitte, in the village, next door, dating from the 18C.  A Benedictine priory that the tradition brought back to the 15C, which survives the exterior structure with two pepper towers at the end of the street of the same name, very reshuffle before and after long served as a school of the village.  You have the nice Church of Saint Nicolas, (see post) at 13 rue de la muette. The Church is built between 1867-1872 in a neo Roman style on the land of an old cemetery given by the city.

Several mansions such as the one at 30 avenue Pascal. The Doulton Pavilion made by the British pottery company Royal Doulton for the Universal Exhibition of 1878. After the exhibition, the façade was reassembled in the Parc de Maisons-Laffitte and a house was built in the back.  At 35 Avenue Belleforière, Villa sur jardin of 1923 , it is now divided into apartments and the garden Loti is occupied by several buildings.  At 2 Avenue du General-Leclerc, call the  Florentine Villa built in 1905 . Also, several other building of great architecture interest such as the Juillard Property, Guard Pavilion, 72 rue de Paris , mansion at 2 rue de la mute, mansion at  24 Avenue Eglé,  mansion at  21bis Avenue Eglé , mansion at  39 Avenue Albine,  the Hotel Royal of Maisons-Laffitte, a building at 36bis rue de la mute.

I like to tell you here that we have eaten out and shopped at Maisons Laffitte as well and is sublime. Some open still and some close here for the memories.

One of my all time favorite places to eat, drink and be seen just by the theater and other side of RER/train station and right on the chic 46 avenue de Longueil, is L’Avenue, that is right, the avenue; we have burgers, pizzas, salads, specials of the day like steaks, fish, with a good selection of wines and beers. For Lunch bill came to about 12 euros per person. Unfortunately no longer there there is the Le 46 now. Therefore, here just for the memories of always.  Another one, I come is Caffe et Cucina, 36 avenue de Longueil, classic italian, with a nice terrace ,and even better prices. webpage: http://www.pizzeria-restaurant-cucina.fr/fr/

For those special occassions, we had visited Le Tastevin,9 Avenue Eglé  right after the archdoors into the gardens and near the castle. Great traditional French food exquisively done. Webpage: https://www.letastevin-restaurant.fr/

The best bakery pastry store around, boulangerie/patisserie Ledoux, 26, Avenue Longueil, real bread old traditional way nothing added, and great pastries such as the almond and chocolate croissants. Unfortunately no longer there, therefore here just for the memories.  The ultimate upscale grocery store, and a tradition at Maisons Laffitte, my buys here were even for that special olive oil crackers from Seville, Spain.  As well as the cheeses and wines. The Epicerie de Longueil, 28, avenue de Longueil ,  and there since 1880. Webpage: https://www.epiceriedelongueil.com/

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and it is a must are:

The city of Maisons-Laffite on its history and heritage: https://www.maisonslaffitte.fr/Histoire-et-patrimoine/3/

The Maisons-Laffitte tourist office: https://www.tourisme-maisonslaffitte.fr/

There you go ,you are all set for a wonderful experience in Maisons-Laffitte,  believe me. Hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

March 26, 2021

My travels in the Morbihan LXXXVI

Well did never occur to me these popular series in my blog when I started back in 2011! thanks for reading me over the years since 2010. This is the 86th post on the series where I write about miscellaneous travels in my Morbihan or petite mer or small sea…oh yes this is Breton language, the only department (56) not in French in France or the French Republic. Mor=sea bihan=small in our local language:Breton!

As it is trying to venture out and escape this virus thingy already geting tired of it; we go out into the wonderful Morbihan even just for a ride and see the things we have missed a picture before or new things to see when possible. This is the case of this week in my capital city of Vannes or Gwened (Breton). Plenty to see there but some spots needs more disclosure lol!! Let me tell you about Vannes with new pictures!

This is a monumental cathedral with a nice Saint resting inside. I have come many times to say the least. The architecture the history and the Saint Vincent Ferrier are just awesome. A bit more on the Saint Peter’s Cathedral! Gothic in style, it is built on the site of the old Romanesque cathedral. Its construction spanned five centuries, from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century, and if we include the lifespan of the Romanesque bell tower preserved from the old building, we arrive at a construction duration of seven centuries. As a whole, the building remains, in spite of everything, faithful to the old Romanesque style and includes a nave accompanied by ten side chapels, a transept with unequal arms, a choir surrounded by an ambulatory and two axial chapels in a row. webpage: https://www.cathedrale-vannes.fr/

vannes cat St Pierre front mar21

The La Cohue musée des Beaux-Arts or Fine Arts museum La Cohue is right on Place Saint Pierre across from the above Cathedral and it also has an entry on the rue des Halles behind it. This is another must to visit while in Vannes. Again, plenty written on it in my blog. Since the Middle Ages, the Cohue, a word of Breton origin was used in the Middle Ages to designate market places in towns, has belonged to the Duke of Brittany. Its oldest part dates back to the 13C and the building was extended in the 14C and 17C. As said it is located in the heart of the old town opposite the Cathédrals Saint-Pierre de Vannes. More on the city of Vanneshttps://www.mairie-vannes.fr/vannesloisirs/musees/musee-des-beaux-arts-la-cohue/

Vannes mus la cohue beaux arts front mar21

The street behind the above is rue des Halles, very narrow, cobblestone street very quant we love it. You can see wooden houses here at No 7 and No 27 especially from the 17C and 18C. Other than the museum back entry it is full of shops and restos with a great medieval ambiance at nights. 

vannes rue des Halles back la cohue mus mar21

The Château Gaillard is wonderful architecture, history and a beautiful museum of history and archeology. It is located in the former Hôtel du Parlement de Bretagne (parliament of Brittany), or Château-Gaillard, a former private mansion. Built at the beginning of the 15C, the castle is built on land originally belonging to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. This is a must to visit while in town and when possible. The city of Vannes on the castlehttps://www.mairie-vannes.fr/chateau-gaillard-en-detail/

vannes Chateau Gaillard courtyard mus archeo mar21

And the city of Vannes on the museum: https://www.mairie-vannes.fr/vannesloisirs/musees/musee-dhistoire-et-darcheologie/

vannes chateau Gaillard mus archeo front mar21

We have a wonderful Halle aux Poissons or fish market doing wonders every Saturday morning and we love it. Right around is the open air marché or market and not far the halles covered market. Sublime to say the least and we shop plenty here. And of course plenty in my blog. The fish market is located on the Place de la Poissonnerie in the inner city of Vannes, near the bastion of Gréguennic andthe Porte Saint-Vincent. I got a nice picture of it been clean after the wednesday smaller market in Vannes. City of Vannes on the markets: https://www.mairie-vannes.fr/vannesdecouverte/marches/halles/

vannes halle aux poissons empty at end mar21

The covered market or Halle des Lices, also has plenty in my blog. This one is the least visited by us, but a nice monument in a beautiful area. We prefer the open air markets and here at the Place des Lices is the best and name the No 9 best in France! More from the city of Vannes as link above.

vannes halles des lices marche couvert mar21

And you have a view of the ramparts from inside the old town, Rue de la Monnaie to the ramparts and our wonderful tour du Connétable or Constable’s tower. Built in the first half of the 15C is fully integrated into the ramparts. However, despite its fortified appearance, resolutely turned towards the defense of the city, and although the tower has artillery casemates in the lower room, the initial destination of the Constable’s tower was to house the chief of the Duke of Brittany’s armies. His name therefore comes from his function, the most illustrious representative of which was Arthur III of Brittany known as “the Constable of Richemont”, Constable of France and Duke of Brittany.  Arthur fought alongside Joan of Arc during her victory at the Battle of Patay on 18 June 1429!

Vannes Tour Connetable from Pl des LIces mar21

And there you go a nice walk in beautiful medieval Vannes, our capital city of the Morbihan dept 56 in my lovely Bretagne. You will do well to stop by and see the real old in my belle France right here! Hope you enjoy the walking tour and see you soon!

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

Tags: ,
March 26, 2021

My travels in the Morbihan LXXXIV

Well did never occur to me these popular series in my blog when I started back in 2011! thanks for reading me over the years since 2010. This is the 85th post on the series where I write about miscellaneous travels in my Morbihan or petite mer or small sea…oh yes this is Breton language, the only department (56) not in French in France or the French Republic. Mor=sea bihan=small in our local language:Breton!

As it is trying to venture out and escape this virus thingy already geting tired of it; we go out into the wonderful Morbihan even just for a ride and see the things we have missed a picture before or new things to see when possible. This is the case of this week in my capital city of Vannes or Gwened (Breton). Plenty to see there but some spots needs more disclosure lol!! Let me tell you about Vannes with new pictures!

La Huche à Pain is one of our favorite bakeries pastry shop or boulangerie/Pâtisserie in Vannes. It offers you daily artisanal products with a unique taste thanks to the combination of Qualista flour and the know-how of your baker. All the breads are kneaded, shaped and baked in the bakeries throughout the day. Discover a wide range of Savory Pleasures (quiches, pizzas, toast, sandwiches, salads, etc.) of Sweet delicacies (pure butter pastries, tarteries, pastries; Breton specialties, etc.). To take away or quietly installed in our Cafés-Restaurants.  Our spots in Vannes are at 23, place des Lices or 42, avenue de la Marne; webpage of tourist office Gulf of Morbihan: https://www.golfedumorbihan.bzh/fiche/la-huche-a-pain-artisans-boulangers-patissiers-traiteurs-vannes-centre/  

vannes boulangerie la huche a pains front mar21

The Dominique Blanchard Cordonnerie is an institution at 15 Place des Lices since 1960 father and now son. Shoe making and repairs .I translate the official Cordonnerie association in France with their address. We have been getting repairs here since in the area in addition to the one in our town. A traditional shoemaker from father to son for 3 generations, you will be offered repairs to shoes and leather goods, the sale of slippers, wooden or locally made leather clogs, the sale of belts and small leather goods. you can also have your keys reproduced, all in a good mood with a smile. webpage: https://www.cordonnerie.org/cordonnerie-22

vannes cordonnerie pl des lices mar21

The place des lices is perhaps the main square of Vannes, vast and greatly pedestrian with plenty of shops we love such as la trinitaine, belle iloise, and the above.  This one have written plenty before in my blog. It communicates with the Cathedral of Vannes (via the rue de la Monnaie) and to the port (via the rue Saint-Vincent and the porte Saint-Vincent). It is also in direct relation with the place du poids public square and with the ramparts.  The square measures about 200 meters in length, for an average width of 25 meters, or an area of about 0.5 hectares. More from the city of Vannes: https://www.mairie-vannes.fr/vannesdecouverte/histoire-et-patrimoine/qr-patrimoine/place-des-lices-en-detail/

vannes pl des Lices mar21

The place Henri IV is smaller but older and very picturesque including some wooden houses going back to the 14C. Another one have written plenty in my blog and many passing by with the family. It is a square square located in the inner city on the heights of the Mené hill. It communicates with the Place Saint-Pierre and the Cathedral, and with the rue Saint-Salomon and with the rue des Chanoines and the rue Émile-Burgault. The square measures about 20 meters per side, or an area of about 400 m2. More from the city of Vannes: https://www.mairie-vannes.fr/vannesdecouverte/histoire-et-patrimoine/qr-patrimoine/place-henri-iv-en-detail/

vannes pl Henri IV mar21

The place Saint Pierre is even smaller but it is here you find the magnificent Cathédrale Saint Pierre of Vannes , and La Cohue, the fine arts museum. Again written plenty on this square and its monuments. 

Vannes Pl St Pierre cor mar21

The place Valence ,a wonderful square with nice restaurants we like and a famous landmark (see post). The square is located inside the city’s first intramural wall, the square opens at the intersection of rue des Halles, rue Noé and rue des Orfèvres. Irregular in shape, it does not occupy more than 500 m2. The place Valence bears the name of Valencia (valence), the birthplace in Spain of Saint Vincent Ferrier, who came to preach in Vannes in 1418-19. The preacher would have lived in a house in the square (see post). 

vannes pl Valence house of St Vincent Ferrier mar21

Right in this Place Valence, you have an emblematic bust of Vannes. Vannes et sa femme is a polychrome stone sign representing the busts of a couple and probably dating from the 16C. Integrated into the facade of a half-timbered house in the inner city of Vannes, it is a famous emblem of the city. A bit more on the Gulf of Morbihan tourist office: https://www.golfedumorbihan.bzh/explorer-vannes/decouvrir-vannes/golfe-morbihan/vannes/vannes-et-sa-femme/

vannes pl Valence vannes et ces femmes bust mar21

The rue Emile Burgault is another favorite of ours and my boys shopped a lot there. It is a very narrow old street space for just one car! Here specially at No 4 and No 9 you find wooden houses from the 15C! Also see houses at No 2 and No 7. We come here specially for the Japanim mangas store! 

Vannes rue Emile Burgault to pl Henri IV mar21

And there you go a nice walk in beautiful medieval Vannes, our capital city of the Morbihan dept 56 in my lovely Bretagne. You will do well to stop by and see the real old in my belle France right here! Hope you enjoy the walking tour and see you soon!

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

Tags: ,
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