Archive for April 5th, 2021

April 5, 2021

The Panthéon of Paris!!

Ok so let me update this popular spot in my eternal Paris. Actually , I have to admit was always going to the nearby Jardin du Luxembourg (see posts) , and look at this building and told me ahh that must be the Panthéon so went for a peek. It is an awesome building and worth the visit at least once me think. The Dome was been renovated on this trip as shown in pictures. Hope you enjoy the update on the Panthéon of Paris!!

I have passed it many times and seldom been in it, one of the things in life when one lives so close to so much beauty and architecture. I finally went in, and it was stunning, well like everything in Paris in my opinion. This is the Panthéon de Paris!  It is located in a superb location near the jardin du Luxembourg ; in fact if you stand by the blvd Saint Mchel right out of the gate from the fountain of Marie de Médici you can look straight up Rue Soufflot into it.  Right in front of the Place du Panthéon.

paris pantheon cupola work feb14

Very appropiate nearby is the library or Bibliothéque Saint Geneviéve as well as the University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. RER B Luxembourg can easily take you in this direction and coming from the back you can get there on metro line 10 Cardinal Lemoine. And if like me ,you come by car, there is excellent underground parking Soufflot at 22 Rue Soufflot just in front of the Panthéon. Later , for business trip I took the bus line 82 which stops right next to the Jardin du Luxembourg.

paris pantheon side front ceilings feb14

At the Panthéon, they have organised it into four stages in the life of the Panthéon existance, the first one and oldest is that was there before the Panthéon, in effect, the Church of Sainte Geneviève (1744-1790); which of course, was demolished during the French revolution.

paris pantheon ceilings front feb14

The second period is that of the transformation of monuments to use the scholar choice, meaning the used of these monument to enhance the French Republic from the initial years such as (1791-1885). This is when the French revolution welcomes its heroes to the Panthéon with first Mirabeau ,one of the great speakers of the revolution. In 1806, Emperor  Napoléon Ier gave the nave of the Panthéon back to the Catholic Church while the crypts stayed for the cult of personalities.  Under the period of the Restauration, meaning back of the monarchy, king of the French Louis-Philippe 1st (reign of 1830-1848) gave it all back to the Catholic Church. Finally, in 1851, Emperor  Napoléon III change the Panthéon to a Church for the last time in its history.

The third period is that of the French Republic laique from 1885-1964 upon the death of  the writer Victor Hugo , a huge crowd follows the funeral car to the Panthéon.  The monument becomes laïque. This period extends all along the IIIe République (1870-1940) , and the IVe République (1947-1958).

The fourth and final period we can call it the Panthéon under the Ve République (since 1958), when it was open to transfer the ashes of  Resistant hero  Jean Moulin ,in 1964.  At the end of this ceremony the funeral speech done by the Minister of cultural affairs André Malraux , the Panthéon  gain little by little its position of all consensus of all the political families. The surveys conducted ,indicated how to allow the admission of ordinary people to better represent the French society by given honors in the future. The ceremony of May 27 2015 when entered into the Panthéon of Pierre Brossolette , Geneviève de Gaulle Anthonioz , Germaine Tillion ,and Jean Zay ( my boys middle school was name after this resistance fighter) falls into this doctrine.

However, to give you a rough tour of it inside , we will continue on the first level or principal ground level, and continue around the bearing along the wall to our right and coming across to the right side now, you will see Sainte Geneviéve encouraging the Parisiens to fight against Attila the Hun. Continuing along the right wall, you wil come to Jeanne d’Arc and Saint Louis completing the Christian heroes that are the history of France.  Coming along the right wall as if you were going out of the building now you will see the marches of Attila the Hun and Sainte Geneviéve showing calm to the Parisiens.  And just before the door on the right side wall , you will see the life of Saint Denis, evangelist of the Gauls and first bishop of Paris.

You will go back now to the stairs and go down to the Crypt. First tomb is that of the heart of Léon Gambetta  with an urn in glass, the III Republic transfer it here in Nov 11 1920 in honor of its founder.  In the lobby the first part of the crypt welcomes face to face the tombs of Voltaire, with beforehand by his statue in stone by Houdon(sculptor) and Rousseau with a look of rustic temple simulating his theories on nature. The tomb of Soufflot joined them in 1829.  In the west wing to the right you will see the 41 great men of the Empire at the other side of the rotonda, they were put here beginning in 1806 by Imperial decree, amongst them, Portalis, and Tronchet, the writer of the Civil Code of France. In the same west wing but to the left, you see Victor Schoelcher marking the aboliton of slavery, and next to Jéan Jaurés, father of French socialism killed in 1914, as well as Félix Eboué, first French resistant fighter from the territories.  You will see here too, Victor Hugo and Emile Zola, two writers of renown who fought for the liberties of all.  In 2002, the ashes of Alexandre Dumas, were deposited here too.  The personalities transfer here for the centenary of the French revolution comes before the tomb of Maréchal Lannes. In the north wing, you will see the tombs of Jean Moulin, hero of the Resistance movement in WWII and André Malraux, writer and  alongside Jean Monnet (created the European Union), as well as René Cassin, spiritual father of the universal declaration of the rights of man and citizens adopted by the UN in 1948. In the cellars that follows rest the personalities deposited during the bicentennial of the French revolution and a bit further away those of Pierre and Marie Curie, Nobel prize in physics on radium.

You can go to the high exterior columns to the base of the dome or coupola for a magnificent view of Paris, go there !  So it is a recommended detour when in Paris to see it. It is the very best of France.

paris pantheon front feb14

The offical Panthéon of Paris webpage in English:

The Paris tourist office on the Panthéon

Enjoy it as I do; after all Paris is eternal as they are! The Panthéon of Paris see it. And remember, happy travels, good health and good cheers to all!!!

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April 5, 2021

Hôtel de Ville de Paris!

A while back I did a series on government buildings in my belle France. These are wonderful monuments to architecture and history me think. The city/town hall of Paris or the  Hôtel de Ville de Paris is one of the best. I like to update this bit of an older post with different pictures than on my other post on it and hope you enjoy it as I.

Well seldom we write about our city/town hall but I do. Happened to come with roots in the oldest continuously in activity city hall in USA. That of the city of Perth Amboy NJ since 1789 (see post) . Coming to Paris was a natural for me to seek info on the Hôtel de Ville de Paris.  

Paris hotel de ville front feb2011

The Hôtel de Ville goes way back actually. The first evidence points to 1357 when the Provost of merchants Etienne Marcel ( a metro stop is name for him!) built to symbolized the municipal liberties acquired against the power of king Charles V. It was done again in 1553 but this one was burned down as many other buildings including the Palais des Tuileries by the uprising of the commune in 1871. Again, worked started on the current one at the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville between 1873-1892 in Renaissance style with identical layout as the one from 1553.


It is located on the north by the rue de Rivoli, and the south by the Seine river, pont d’Arcole allows access to the Ïle de la Cité. The Place de l’Hôtel de Ville  (took current name in 1803) known at the beginning of the 13C as Place de Gréve (and the word did stuck to mean strikes) was renamed Place de la Maison Commune during the French revolution Today the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville is a pedestrian street since 1982.

The first Paris government was created around 1260,  managing the flow of merchandise in the Seine river and others in addition to taxing the commodities and citizen coming in.  Before the French revolution there was a prevost, four elderman, 36 advisors, and 16 chiefs of neighborhoods. After the French revolution, by october 19 1795 Paris becomes divided into 12 arrondissements or districts. February 17 1800 Napoleon I , eliminates the arrondissements. June 16 1859 the arrondissement come back, with the modifications such as the Chief of State names always the representatives of each district , a mayor and two assistants  chosen amongst the citizen the more influential for a period of 3 years .  After the creation of the department of Paris No 75 in July 10 1964 the city has a council where are represented the elected officials of each district but the city still has no mayor only a president of the council. On December 31 1975 after passage of a new law, the city finally has a Mayor of Paris so now it has a city and department as Paris no 75 in the region of Ile de France.  The law of February 27 2002, given in to the democracy of proximity evoque to divide Paris for each 80K inhabitant into a quartier or neighborhood  so given birth to the Council of neighborhoods  that is taken from the council of districts.

The election to the council of Paris numbering 517 is done by vote of each district to eventually elect the council of district elects the mayor of each district thereafter.  The city elections of 1977, the mayor was elected by popular vote was Jacques Chirac , the first mayor elected as such, that later became President of France.  The voters of the 20 arrondissement/districts vote in two turns the counselors of each district that in turn name the mayors of each district and they elect later the Mayor of Paris. Later, as of early 2020 ,it was created the Paris Centre with districts 1-4 so really only 17 arrondissements are today , even if for normal day lives and postal regulation the 20 are still in use.

You have the wonderful dept store BHV nearby at the corner of rue de Rivoli ,and the metro line 1 and 11 takes you to the Hôtel de Ville. By car you have the wonderful underground parking Saemes Hôtel de Ville at 6 Quai de Gesvres not far from Pont Notre Dame.

The city of Paris:

The Paris tourist office on the Hôtel de Ville:

Enjoy Paris ,run ,quick, it’s all worth it; we will always have Paris. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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April 5, 2021

Church Saint-François d’Assisi of Le Havre!

So as we were by Le Havre why not update the wonderful historical Church Saint François d’Assisi in the old town near the harbor. We went for the Breton festival of St Yves and found this church by chance really. It was a nice find and we like it. Hope you enjoy the post as well as I.

Le Havre was beaten badly in WWII and has come back reborn, it is worth the detour for its marvels and the port area is tops so does the neighborhood of Saint François where I like to tell you a bit more on the Church of Saint François de Paul now call Saint François d’Assisi.  The Saint-François de Paul Church (known as Saint Francis of Assisi) is one of the oldest buildings in city center/ downtown Le Havre and one of the only survivors. It is located in the district of Saint-François, which was rebuilt in a regionalist style, which contrasts with the other quarters rebuilt  by Auguste Perret. It is a 17C Church  of rather Renaissance style.


A bit of history I like

Before the construction of the current Church, there would have been a Chapel in the Barres district (name of the district at the time), in 1524. King François I wanted to build a Church in this district dedicated to Saint Francis de Paul, a saint whom the King preferred at the time.  The construction of the Church begins in 1542, and in 1638, the Church was consecrated, although the Church was not finished. In 1687, the choir was built. The Church was originally referred to as Saint Francis of Paul, but it was replaced by Saint Francis of Assisi. In fact, this is due to the arrival of the Capuchin in 1590, who settled in the neighbourhood. Today, the Church is known as the Church of St. Francis of Assisi.

In 1793, the church was is in poor condition due to the French revolution, it had a  degraded roofing and broken stained glass. In 1802, the church was restored and rehabilitated the roof and restoration of the stained glass windows. In 1806, the roofs of the chapels were replaced by a single roof by aisle. After WWII, the church was restored and the sacristy rebuilt: In September 1954, the vaults damaged by the bombardments were completely redone. In 1955 and 1956, the porch and its bell tower are dismantled and restored with the facade refitted in place 1956. Then, all the chapels were rebuilt and, in 1961, new stained glass windows were laid.

A bit on the architecture of the Church Saint François d’Assisi of Le Havre.

The Church has a façade surmounted by a modest steeple. The walls of the church are supported by buttresses. The roof of the church forms a transept just behind the steeple; This transept was surmounted by two pinnacles dismantled after the restoration works of the 20C. The walls are pierced with large glass windows. At the back, the chorus is visible outside because its dimensions are less important than those of the nave; The bedside of the church is in the form of a hemicycle and is pierced by two glass windows. The church has only one façade which is in fact a porch of three bays and three entrance doors . The classic porch shows a slight influence of the Ogival style (Gothic). The porch is topped by a Renaissance-style steeple that takes on a Greco-Roman style.

The Interior of the church consists of a nave in three ships flanked by chapels, which extends into a chorus. The classical style is predominant, although the vaults of the aisles are of medieval styles. The main nave is covered by a plaster cradle that rests on pillars in the form of Doric columns. As for the aisles, they are arched on crossed warheads. The nave consists of four bays, plus another between nave and chorus. The Renaissance-style choir is of a more modest size. The high altar is a recent altar of neo-classical wood type. The choir has stalls and a small organ. At the bottom, in the apse, the altar with the tabernacle is surmounted by a Calvary. On the wall behind the altar there is a tapestry from the Royal Manufactory of Aubusson, offered in 1924 to the Church; Above, you can see a fresco depicting the coronation of the Virgin Mary.



le havre ch st francois chapel vierge mary my13

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and worth the detour are:

The Le Havre Etretat tourist office on Le Havre:

The city of Le Havre on its history:

Unesco Le Havre on the Saint François neighborhood:

Catholic Parishes of Le Havre on the church:–de-la-mer/

There you go another off the beaten path beauty of my belle France. Worth a detour to a city , Le Havre , that deserves more after WWII. Enjoy the Church Saint François d’Assisi.

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

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April 5, 2021

Le Havre is worth a detour!

And let me update this older post for you and I. Several times folks tells me Le Havre is worth a visit and how can folks be wrong. It is a more modern city thanks to hosting bombs in WWII but it has a nice layout with beautiful buildings. Great shopping and food to boot, we enjoy our trips there, twice and looking forward to be back when possible. Hope you like the introductory post and do visit Le Havre is worth a detour!

This is my treat to you , Le Havre is in the department de Seine-Maritime 76 of the region of Normandie right in the mouth of the Seine river. The port is second in France for the traffic and first for containers. And yes, my container moving from FL USA  to Versailles, FR was routed thru here then truck to my home in Versailles!! 2003 get it ::)


The city center of Le Havre is an Unesco World Heritage Site!!  On weekends folks here in good weather hit for the beach on the coast or Côte d’Albâtre by going over the bridge or great Pont de Normandie (see post) and spent a few hours in Honfleur, (see posts) and in turn the folks there come over for their shopping in Le Havre!  (see other posts) Yes!!!

Many roads were done here to give easy access to the city ,  kind of an enclave pointed on the continent.  The only way I have come to Le Havre. The autoroute A131 link Le Havre to the A13  (autoroute de Normandie) by the other great bridge or Pont de Tancarville.  The autoroute A29 (autoroute des estuaires) link the city metro area to the north of France and ends at the Pont de Normandie.  The trains are from the TER and Corail network  but no direct TGV service to Paris yet.  The regular trains put the city in touch with Gare Saint Lazare-Paris, Rouen, Marseille, Mantes-la-Jolie, Versailles, Massy, Lyon-Part-Dieu, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence etc  There is a small airport Havre-Octeville at about 5 km on the town of Octeville-sur-Mer; and buses normally link the airports even Paris CDG/Orly. There is a ferry service to Portsmouth , England.  The network LIA handles the local bus with 16 lines and two tramway lines as well as two night time call  LiA de nuit.  The cable car or funiculaire allows since 1890 to link the high to the low town .


As said, the Lower city was mostly destroyed in WWII, and built afterward by the firm of Auguste Perret between 1945 and 1964; he personally directed the reconstruction of the city hall or Hôtel de Ville and the Church Saint Joseph. There is a wonderful Maison de la Culture du Havre built by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer ,known as the Volcan for it shape. Reasons  for Unesco to name it to the World Heritage list.  The northern section of the lower city has the oldest neighborhood not touch by WWII such as Danton, Saint-Vincent, Graville, Massillon, etc. with buildings in brick dating from the 19C and first half of the 20C; the shops are around wide streets and the neighborhood of the Rond-Point. The south district of the Lower city has lots of industry but also great shopping we love it just across from the train station. This is the old docks totally redone into a sport and spectacle building call the Dock Océane, and the wonderful shopping center Docks Vauban as well as expo park Docks Café, and the Les Bains de Dock designed by architect Jean Nouvel. This is a wonderful area to stay in visiting the city as we always do!


The high city has more residential areas  such as the sides or  côte, the districts of homes or the big beltway cloister of homes .  On the sides ,you have the fortresses of Sainte Adresse and Tourneville as well as the main cemetery Sainte Marie. The forts now serve civil duties with the Sainte Adresse housing the suspended garden or Jardin Suspendu and the Tourneville houses the municipal archives.

A bit of history I like

The city is old but I will give you the founding of the proper city by king François Ist in October 1517, and it grew quickly thanks to its  port in the 18C and 19C; however, WWII stop all this, and the city needed to start again…not the first time as during the wars of Religion it suffered great destruction as well. On orders of Cardinal Richelieu, governor of the city then, had built the Arsenal, basin du Roy, ramparts reinforced and a fortress built. It is at this fortress that Cardinal Mazarin have inprisoned the princes of the frond revolt such as Longueville, Conti (the current city hall of Versailles was his palace), and Condé.  Early on the reign of king Louis XIV, minister Colbert began to renovate the port infrastructures and military installations; and by 1669, opened the canal du Havre à Harfleur,aka Canal Vauban.


The Orient company or Compagnie de l’Orient  is here in 1643, and the city began to import from the Americas exotic products such as sugar, cotton, tabacco, café, and spices. The treaty of Black make the locals very rich in slave trade especially in the 18C making the city the third on this trade behind Nantes and La Rochelle.  The world awaits and they go off, by 1707, the captain Michel Dubocage explore the Pacific Ocean aboard the boat Découverte and reaches the island of Clipperton; another captain Jean Baptiste d’Aprés de Mannevillette worked for the Compagnie des indes  and cartography the coasts of India and China. In  1749 , Madame de Pompadour wants to see the sea and king Louis XV chose Le Havre to have her do this at a great costs to the city.


The French revolution brings terror and religious transformation with the Cathedral Notre Dame changed to a temple of reason….under emperor Napoléon Ist ordered the building of a fort. In the 19C, Le Havre  becomes an European leader in the history of coffee culture thanks to the arrivals of protestant German families who had acquired this technique during the Haitian revolution in the Caribbean . In the period 1850-1914 is the golden age for the city even with war of succession, Franco-Prussian war the commerce explode and the town built new modern boulevards, city hall and justice palace/courthouse as well as stock exchange/Bourse.

Before WWI ,Le Havre is the first port importing coffee in Europe, also cotton, and petroleum are important items; the boating brings in wood, wheat etc. from Northern Europe and wine and oil from the Mediterranean. The city is a major entry point for merchandise from USA and a passing point for immigration to USA. By 1889 the great maritime boulevard is built , mainly the Villa Maritime, the casino Marie-Christine b. 1910, the Rowing palace or Palais des Régates b.1906 bring about the rich and famous and the first cabin are installed in the beach.  The human toll is big in WWI to the city and it served as the rear base especially for the British navy where 1,9 million British soldiers passed by the port of Le Havre.

During WWII, the Nazis occupied Le Havre since the spring of 1940; and prepare the city for the invasion of the United Kingdom (Operation Seelôwe), making arrangement along the coast with casemates, blockhaus and batteries integrated into the Atlantic Wall. Le Havre received 132 bombardments by the Allies during the war with the most damaging coming on September 5-6 1944 with English Royal Air Force bombing the city center and the port to weakening the Nazis during operation Astonia; the  Royal Air Force did more than 2000 waves dropping about 10K tons of bombs. Le Havre was liberated by allied armies on September 12 1944.

What is there to see, plenty I said. The oldest building still standing are the Abbey of Graville, medieval is the Chapelle Saint Michel d’Ingouville; there are redone after WWII, the Cathedral Notre Dame du Havre, Church Saint François (see post) , Church of the Immaculate Conception , Hôtel Dubocage,and the Maison de l’Armateur (shipbuilder house), as well as the old courthouse or Palais de Justice. Others are the Jardin Suspendu, Fort de Tourneville, Docks Vauban, Villa Maritime, church Saint Joseph, modern arts museum or Musée d’Art Moderne André Malraux, the old museum of Havre or Musée de l’Ancien Havre, and the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle.

The Fête de la Saint-Yves at le Havre in the neighborhood or quartier of Saint-François around the church. This is the historic area of the Bretons in Le Havre. We happened to be there when the festival was going on and saw our Bagad celtic music presentation in Normandie!


The Dock Océane for expo, theater ,arts, the Les Bains de  Docks for a water park, Docks Café, and Jardin Fluvial. All of this around the places that are nice to use and some new ones like O Blé Gourmand resto a la breton norman cuisinen or old ones like Le Lafayette cafe brasserie; the whole complex is great and easily you can spent at least half a day seeing all around it. Here you have the Océane and Café expo places. webpage:



The cinema Gaumont, the Les Bains de Docks  ,have a pool indoors, and the jardin fluvial is over 2 hectares or almost 5 acres of over  700 meters long ,all bordering the  quais de la Saône ,and de la Marne. The wonderful Docks Vauban is an excellent shopping center, we love it. The mall is closed until further notice due to the virus so check if eventually coming in , the webpage:

We had our lunch on this occasion at a wonderful resto Bistrot du P”tit Port, highly recommended and I do this sparingly. Wonderful and the views of the ferry harbor and fish market is awesome. Great seafood with my fish soup and marmite du pêcheur are awesome. webpage:


Some paintings of Le Havre that I like are especially illustrating the Port du Havre and the light of the mouth of the Seine river such as those by Jean-Baptiste Corot, and Gustave Courbet. The one influential and of course neighbor is Eugene Boudin with many works from the 20C; the artist even lived for a while in the city. Another great one was Claude Monet who lived in the city since 5 yrs old and painted in 1872, the Impression, soleil levant (impression of the rising sun) a portrait that gave the name to the Impressionists movement of world fame.

The city of Le Havre on what to do currently:

The Le Havre-Etretat tourist office :

The Seine Maritime dept 76 tourist board on Le Havre:

The Normandie region tourist board on Le Havre:

Hope you have enjoyed the introductory ride into a resistance strong city , with a lot of energy to show you the best positive mentality you can have, come back from ashes stronger than ever. See it live it, and come back to tell more about it. This is Le Havre!

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

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