Archive for April 14th, 2021

April 14, 2021

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Reims!!

And let me bring you back to the source of French monarchy and history of France. We have been attach to the city even if by my dear late wife Martine who used to come here as a young girl to pick grapes in the Champagne fields to help her studies etc. We came early invited by the maternal grandmother Fourré and tour the city and the region. We have come back with my parents and later my boys. It is with great pleasure that I get to update this older post on the most emblematic monument of the city. The Notre Dame Cathedral of Reims!! Hope you enjoy it as I.


So we go there a must to visit, one of the greatest Cathedrals ever, more history in it you can have a lifetime to trace. It is not only for the kings althought that is a big part but also the French resistance in WWI, and a symbol of France to the world. This is the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Reims (Notre Dame Cathedral), in the department 51 of the Marne, new region of Grand Est (old Champagne-Ardennes).  I have come here several times since early days in France circa 1990.  The Cathédrale of Notre-Dame de Reims, its construction began in the early 13C.  Consecrated to the Virgin Mary, the Cathedral of Reims was completed in the 14C.  This is one of the major achievements of Gothic art in France, both for its architecture and for its statuary, which has 2 303 statues.


A great history I like

According to Flodoard, Nicaise, Bishop of Reims, founded the first Cathedral in the early 5C, probably around 401, on ancient Gallo-Romain baths. It lies not far from the previous Basilica, that of the Holy Apostles erected under Bétause. It was before the door of his Cathedral, already dedicated to the Virgin Mary, that Nicaise would have been decapitated by the vandals in 407 or by the Huns in 451 (depending from whom). The term “Sainte-Marie” suggests that the second date is the right one, since St. Mary Major, is considered the first Church consecrated to Mary, dates from the year 430. The building then measures about 20 meters wide on 55 meters long. This is where Clovis ‘ baptism takes place, by Bishop Remi of Reims (later Saint Remi), on December 25th (Christmas Day). The year of this celebration is debatable and is located between 496 and 499 (From my family the first year is the most correct). In 816, Louis the Pious was the first French monarch crowned in Reims, by Pope Stephen IV and the last 1825: Charles X by Bishop Jean-Baptiste de Latil.

Archbishop Ebbon continued the work until 846, under the episcopate of Hincmar. The Archbishop adorns the interior of the building with gilding, mosaics, paintings, sculptures and tapistries. He consecrated this second Cathedral in 862 in the presence of Charles the Bald. The new building is 86 meters long and has two transepts. At the beginning of the 10C, an ancient crypt dating from the first Cathedral was discovered, unobstructed and renovated before being consecrated to Saint Remi. This crypt is the “initial nucleus” from which each Cathedral is built, thus the altar has been located in the same place for more than fifteen centuries!!. In addition to this work to the west of the Cathedral, a new Choir and Chapels are beginning to be built to the east of the Cathedral. The building measures 110 meters in length. At the end of the century, the nave and the transept were of Carolingian style, while the bedside in construction and the façade were of the first Gothic art. It is known, however, that Archbishop Albéric de Humbert poses the first stone of a new Cathedral in 1211, the fire destroying the previous building. Four architects succeeded each other on the construction site, the main work of which was completed in 1275. The Kings Charles VIII and then Louis XII, sacred in the Cathedral, provide financial support for the reconstruction, unlike their predecessor Louis XI. They grant in particular a royal grant, corresponding to part of the salt tax. As a thank-you, the new roof is topped with fleur de Lys and the Royal coat of arms is affixed to the top of the bedside. This decoration is nevertheless suspended in 1516, the work is stopped before the completion of the arrows.

reims cat notre dame altar aug11

The political power of the Archbishops of Reims culminated in Henry I in 1027 to definitively set the place of the coronation in Reims. All the kings of France were made sacred in the city of Reims, with the exception of seven of them  :  Hugh Capet at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Noyon or at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims in 987 by Adalberon, Archbishop of Reims;  Robert II at the Cathedral of St. Croix d’Orléans in 987 by Adalberon, Archbishop of Reims;  Louis VI at the Cathedral of St. Croix d’Orléans in 1108 by Dagobert, Archbishop of Sens; John I (died immediately after his birth);  Henri IV at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Chartres in 1594 by Nicolas de Thou, Bishop of Chartres; Louis XVIII (was not sacred); Louis-Philippe I (King of the French, is not a sacrament).  When Louis IX was crowned in 1226, the Cathedral as we know it today is still under construction. The coronation of Charles VII in 1429 is of particular importance, in that it reverses the course of the Hundred Years ‘ War thanks to the tenacity of Joan of Arc, whose statue sits on the Cathedral Square.  The Cathedral glorifies royalty. On the façade, in the center of the Gallery of Kings composed of 56 statues with a height of 4.5 meters, Clovis throne surrounded by his wife Clotilde and Remi.  On 8 October 2016, a plaque with the names of the thirty-one Sacred kings in Reims is set up in the Cathedral in the presence of Mgr Thierry Jordan, Archbishop of Reims, and Prince Louis de Bourbon, one of the present contenders to the throne of France (legitimate king Louis XX).

The troubles of the French Revolution have not reached the extent that we have seen elsewhere with only some statues  broken, gates torn away, the scepter and the hand of justice burned. The cathedral is turned into a forage store and the project to demolished it  is quickly abandoned.  The Franco-German reconciliation was symbolically formalized in July 1962 by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer under the vaults of the Cathedral of Reims which was intentionally bombarded in 1914 by the German Army in order to break the French moral.  The Cathedral of Reims was described as a “martyr’s Cathedral”Pope John Paul II, during his pastoral visit to France, came to the Cathedral of Reims on September 22, 1996 to celebrate the 1 500th anniversary of the baptism of Clovis.  Today, the bell tower have only two bells: Marie (7 and a half tons) and Charlotte (11 tons). These two bells are now very seldom used, so that they can preserve the fragile state to which the structure is still subjected; and that the vibrations generated by the sound of the bells could worsen.  Total length of the Cathedral is  149  meters, inside length: 138 meters, height of the nave: 38 meters, height of the two facade towers: 81.50 meters, height of the tower to the Angel (tour à l’ange): 87 meters, width of the western facade: 49 meters. Rosaries windows; the diameter of the West rosary is 12.5 meters , diameter of the northern rosary is  9.65 meters, diameter of the south rosary is  9.65 meters.

A bit introduction to the interior as it can be lenthly, brief:  The Cathedral of Reims is built on a plane in a slightly adapted Latin cross: The three-vessel nave is crossed by a transept, also with three vessels. However, the bedside retains the width of the transept. This allows the placement of two parallel-oriented Chapels of the right Choir , of which they are separated by an ambulatory. This one opens on five radiant Chapels, the axe Chapel being a little deeper than the other four. Vaults of quadripartite warheads cover the entire building. All the same at nearly 82 meters high. The orientation of the Cathedral follows a south-west-northeast axis. The Cathedral is therefore oriented not towards the Orient, but on the axis of the summer Solstice.  The elevation is three stories in the nave, the transept and the choir. Large arcades separate the main ship from the collateral. Above the large arcades, a triforium and high windows chant the wall. The Cathedral of Reims introduces a new window model, the reformed window or window-frame: composed of two lancets surmounted by a rose, it is independent of the architecture.


A brief tour of the Chapels I like:

The Chapel of St. John, located under the arm of the south transept, contains the great altarpiece, aka Altar of the Apostles. It dates from 1541. It represents the resurrection and the Virgin of Pity. In the center of the lower register is a Pietà, in the center of the upper register a triumphant Christ and in the pediment the eternal Father being capped with a tiara. The bluish cross that overcomes it was that which was on the beam of glory of the rood of the Cathedral.

The Chapel of Saint Joseph, it is dedicated to Joseph, son of Jacob. His limestone altar is carved from three scenes of Joseph’s life. The blue and gilded silver coin carries the weapons of the biblical character. The ground is paved with scenes of Joseph’s life drawn by lead threads encrusted in stone; They are divided into two groups of ten pieces.

The Chapel of the Sacré-Coeur, the stained-glass windows are the work of Imi Knoebel. The golden and red altar, which rests on a black marble, is surmounted by a golden Christ. The walls and niches are still painted.

The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament or Chapel of the Virgin, this chapel is located at the beginning of the ambulatory around the choir, on the north side.  It includes a statue of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, made in 1742.  The altar with circular pediment is supported by four marble columns dating back to 1741.  On the ground before the altar is the tombstone of Cardinal Robert de Lenoncourt, 78th Archbishop of Reims (1534-1552) who has sacred king François I.

And a bit on the exteriors as can be lenghtly as well

The western façade:  The Cathedral of Reims has a very rich statuary. The number of statues adorning it is indeed 2 303. The building is distinguished by a rare unit of style, despite a construction that stretched over more than two hundred years (mainly in the 13C) the central portal has as its general theme the Virgin and its glorification, which is exceptional. It is usually the Christ Savior, the cornerstone of the Church, which is located at the middle of the main gate to welcome the visitor;   The right gate is dedicated to the end of time and the Last Judgement; The portal on the left includes Saints and Martyrs. You can see the statue of the angel in the smile, emblem of the city of Reims.

reims cat notre dame chevet back aug11

At 50 meters from the ground, on the western side, is the Gallery of Kings with, in the center, the baptism of Clovis. Below, we can observe the story of David’s fight against Goliath. The statue of Goliath, which is more than five meters high (it is the largest of the statues of the façade), is currently in the Palace of Tau, which adjoins the Cathedral. Just above the great gate is a copy of the Coronation of the Virgin. The original of this grandiose ensemble is also at the Palais du Tau. (see post).  Facade of the south transept the South rose of the transept is flanked by two statues: on one side, the Church, on the other, the Synagogue which is recognized by its blindfolds.  Despite the successive destructions begun in the 18C, the Cathedral still has many 13C stained-glass windows, grouped in the high parts of the nave, the choir and the transept.


The Cathedral of Reims has two organs, the great organ on a rostrum above the entrance to the north porch, and the choir organ (smaller) in the nave.  The great organ: the buffet dates from the 15C, partly destroyed by a fire in 1481, it was rebuilt by Ojo-Heystre in 1487, then by Jean Thury in 1647. The buffet is topped by a blessing Christ and by two musicians Angels. The Choir organ is the work of the cabinetmaker Étienne-Gabriel Vantadour in the middle of the 19C, after WWI a gift of the Countess Werlé ,a game of Charles Mutin was added. Inaugurated in October 1926, it found its place in the Choir in May 1927 during the opening to the public of the nave of the Cathedral. It features two keyboards and a 17-game crankset.

And finally, there is crest of ridge of the roof adorned with an alternation of clovers and Fleurs de Lys, recalling that the Cathedral was the place of the coronation of the Kings of France. Suppressed and destroyed in the French revolution, these elements were restored in 1924-1926 during the reconstruction that followed the destruction of WWI (Great War).

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here, and its a must visit in Reims or France for that matter. Hope it helps you enjoy this jewel of my belle France.

The city of Reims on the Cathedral:

The Official Friends of the Cathedral of Reims:

The Reims tourist office on the Cathedral:

The Marne dept 51 tourist office on the Cathedral:

The Champagne-Ardennes region tourist board on the Cathedral of Reims:

And there you go, you have all you need for a splendid trip to Reims, and again very much recommended to see the Notre Dame Cathedral. Again gorgeous architecture and history of France! Enjoy it.

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

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April 14, 2021

Bignan in the Morbihan!!

And this is for a change inland Morbihan in a beautiful natural setting at Bignan near me.  This is an update of an older post. We first came here looking for a castle we did ,and came back for more in town. A different look at my lovely Bretagne and my belle France! Hope you enjoy it as I.

Well, normally Sundays are quiet days around here and we followed too. We are always finding places to go and do. There was a big event at the Domaine de Kerguehennec (see post) ,and we decided to go there and passed by the town of Bignan. This is sort of an introduction to the town, see my several posts on it for the sights.

The town of Bignan as said is located in the Morbihan department 56 of Bretagne. The Domaine (castle) of Kerguéhennec , sometimes dubbed the “Versailles Breton”, is one of the most visited places in the town. The town rests on the moors of Lanvaux (forest). Bignan is located between the towns of Locminé and Saint-Jean-Brévelay., and is only half an hour from the main cities such as the capital Vannes, at  25 minutes , sub capital  Lorient 30 mins. I am about 25 minutes from it. The best way for visitors is to come from Rennes take the N24 to exit with the D181 road direction Bignan city center, there panels will tell you the different sights to see. From Vannes take the D767 direction Locminé to the D115 at Colpo and then the D150 to Bignan. There is no train /bus stations. Of course, I took the back roads even the D1 and D16 in the country.

The bit of history I like is short for a village town simply Bignan was a very active center of Chouannerie from 1794 by the action of Pierre Guillemot, called “The King of Bignan”, Lieutenant of General Georges Cadoudal. All leading figures in the fight against the French revolution and re establishment of the monarchy in France but especially in Bretagne. The Domaine of Kerguéhennec, sometimes nicknamed the “Versailles Breton”, served as a warehouse for the Chouans to subtract the crops from the law of requisition of grains applied by the Republican govt. administration.

Things to see here are

Château de Beaulieu ,19C, covered alley and dolmen of Kergonfalz, the fountain of Saint Eloi, A Cross in city center from the 16C, and the Cross of Treuliec from the 17C, the Chapel of Sainte Noyale and fountain of Sainte Nolwenn, the farm of Pierre Guillemot at Kerdel commune of Bignan. The most famous of it all the Domaine de Kerguehennec now a center of contemporary arts in the Castle of the 18C , a park and arboretum with great picnic areas. 42 calvaries in and around the town from simple Cross to Monumental in size. In a couple there is an inscription I translate as , “The stone will be used, the Cross will stay, and the sons of Bignan will not surrender” (evidence of the fierce resistance to the French revolution and its reign of terror. And the Church St Peter and St Paul (see post).

I remind you here of the main thing to see here the Domaine de Kerguehennec

The Center Morbihan area tourist office on Bignan

The town of Bignan on its heritage

A bit of detour and fall right into a very true history of France ,in just a small town in the Morbihan Breton, love it as a history buffs or lover or enthusiast or just plain history nuts. Remember the name, Bignan!

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

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April 14, 2021

Notre Dame Cathedral update Apr2021

And this is about time to give you another update on the grand Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris and its reconstruction. As you might know , this is a symbol of Paris , sometimes more so than the Eiffel and the whole country is behind it. One of the magnificent gothic cathedrals of my belle France!  Here are the latest news on its return , and it will better than ever.

It’s a metal cathedral now. From floor to ceiling, from the Choir to the nave, are tens of thousands of steel tubes. Everywhere, scaffolders are busy putting up this framework. In the future, it will clean up walls contaminated with lead. At the moment, the scaffolding is used to access the vaults. The extraordinary work is the pride of its designer.

The vaults are particularly weakened, their consolidation is therefore the priority of the site. Massive structural members, 7 to 10 meters long, arrive by air. About twenty of these wooden belts are already in place. The device is close to that of the builders of cathedrals. The actual reconstruction work will begin this summer 2021.

The National Heritage and Architecture Commission (CNPA) has ruled after studying several restoration proposals. The frame will be “close to the missing frame”

In the aftermath of the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral in April 2019, Emmanuel Macron announced the reconstruction of the millennial cathedral in the next 5 years, on the horizon of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Hope undermined by the forecasts of the first deputy mayor of Paris, Emmanuel Grégoire auditioned in the National Assembly on the subject of the restoration of the church, which foresees a delivery of the site in 2025. The site will not be finished, but the cathedral will have a partial reopening and in particular to the exercise of worship in 2024.

Controversy especially with the mayor of Paris, (as always) Above all, those responsible for the hearing at the National Assembly were particularly interested in the allocation of the 50 million euros, promised by the city of Paris in 2019 just after the tragedy. For now, parliamentarians note that none of the structures and foundations mobilized in the restoration of the church has touched the slightest centime/penny. Concretely, the deputy mayor Emmanuel Grégoire, confirms that this sum will be allocated to the renovation of the surroundings of Notre-Dame Cathedral of Paris, in particular the famous square (parvis). There is the catch no money but wait we promise afterward for outside decoration work! The surroundings must continue to promote a mix of uses, a place for strolling, recreational and cultural uses for Parisians and visitors, a place of contemplation for users of worship , and enhance views of the cathedral on all routes. approach, including from the Seine river.

Thus, the city of Paris project is broken down into four main areas of work: the historical, heritage and landscape enhancement, the diversification of uses, the creation of a reception, waiting and of discovery , and strengthening of the environmental qualities of the site. Regarding the schedule, the final specifications will be submitted in the summer of 2021 before starting the selection of the “winner” project one year later, in the summer of 2022, according to the program planned by the City/Town Hall. of Paris. The start of work will not be envisaged before the Olympic Games are held in Paris in the summer of 2024.

A protective, non-slip, very resistant and cleanable resin has also come to cover the surface of the square (parvis) in order to alleviate the problems related to lead pollution, which appeared after the fire. Finally, the Crypt   decontamination work is completed. Measurements revealed very low post-cleaning lead levels, with 17 readings less than 100µg / m², the highest at 754µg / m². This site is therefore considered “clean”.

It’s the final line to found out who/what cause the fire; of course, a very political outcome. A little less than two years after the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral of Paris, which had devastated it, the investigations entered their final phase. Scientists from the Paris police headquarters laboratory and investigators are preparing to enter, for the first time, the red zone, which is located in the heart of the historic and religious monument, France Télévisions learned from a police source. To date, the conclusions of the investigation by the judicial police show that only a succession of errors and negligence would be at the origin of the incident, specifies the same source.

For the moment, they remained on the same theses: the cigarette butt, the short-circuit , indicates the source close to the investigation, still considering that it is“ too early ”to say that one of these two options is privileged. In parallel, several failures in the security of the cathedral were identified, in particular in the alarm system of it, which contributed to delaying the call to the firefighters on the day of the fire, or on the electrical system, on one of the elevators. These malfunctions were not likely the cause of the fire, but may have allowed the flames to spread through the cathedral.

One final question. Will the approximately 830 million euros of national and international fundraising (350,000 donors) be sufficient for the reconstruction of Notre-Dame? Many doubt it. The international outpouring of generosity has been exceptional in two years, but is now strongly penalized and complicated by the pandemic. As usual in these cases costs will go up as everywhere else due to the pandemic.

The official site of Notre Dame from the Culture ministry  of France on the work area and information in French:

The official Notre Dame Cathedral on news:

As a reminder, to arrive at Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris you can take the Metro/RER as metro line 4 Cité; Saint Michel – Notre-Dame RER B and C lines 1 and 11 Hôtel de Ville; line 10 Maubert-Mutualité / Cluny – La Sorbonne , lines 7 and 14 Châtelet – Les Halles as well here RER A and D. Of course, the best way is to come all the way walking from your spot in Paris!

And as in previus updates on the situation of Notre Dame Cathedral, here are my posts. Hope it helps tells you the whole story.

It is a monumental task but it will be done as per anything to do with French heritage in my belle France. Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris will shine again! And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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April 14, 2021

Chic Trouville sur Mer!!

This another of the Norman riviera town very chic nice and great beaches for a nice summer resort. We came here first on our road warrior trips between Honfleur and Deauville and found Trouville sur Mer very nice. Let me tell you a bit more on chic Trouville sur Mer!

We had some extra time in the area , and decided to come to the nearby town of Trouville sur Mer in dept Calvados 14 region of Normandy. I have passed by it several times but never really got into it as heard was a bit glitzy. This time we went in with the extra time and marvel of another jewel of Normandy and France even if still glitzy.


A bit of history I like

The rise of the seaside resort of Trouville sur Mer , began in the 19C with the fashion of sea bathing, is surely due to its attendance by a small group of painters: Charles Mozin; The “discoverer of Trouville” in 1825 , Paul Huet, A. G. Decamps and his pupil Louis Godefroy Jadin, Eugène Isabey, Corot, whose Musée d’Orsay provides at least one proof  Trouville fishing boats stranded in the channel and also Eugene Boudin. The writer Alphonse Karr also contributed to his fame. King of the French, Louis-Philippe also helped the launch of Trouville, which he opposed to Dieppe the legitimate side of monarchy, and it was from this station that he tried to leave for England during the revolution of 1848. Gustave Flaubert met with Elisa Schlésinger during the summer of 1836. Dubbed the “Queen of Beaches”, this grand bourse resort according to a ranking of guides Joanne is soon challenged by Deauville (see post). Alexandre Dumas talked about it in his memoirs.


Some of the things to see here  other than the beach are:

The Hôtel des Roches Noires (Black Rocks Hotel). Former palace inaugurated in 1866, whose entrance hall was decorated by Robert Mallet-Stevens. The hotel was painted by Claude Monet in 1870 and was the resort of Marcel Proust and Marguerite Duras.  The Villa Montebello built in 1865; now hosts the museum of the city. The Church Notre Dame du Bon-Secours. The Casino with the Lousiana theme ,first casino with this décor in Europe, build in 1912.


However, for us , the beach was it, large extensive white sandy beach with huge assortment of fun things to do for all the family and a beautiful swimming pool complex right on the beach.  It is recommended for all families even if a bit glitzy, upper scale beach town is really open to all pricewise I meant.



I figure the best combination is to be here at daytime for the beach, and then go about 14 km down along the D513 road to Honfleur (see posts)  for the evening dining and sightseeing activities. Food for thought…..There is so much to see in my belle France!! My friends and family asked me but I tell them not enough time in my lifetime to see it all, just enjoy the bit I have so far, which is not too shabby ok ::)  We are even thinking of coming back in quieter times and just marvel of the scenery.


The Trouville sur Mer tourist office

The city of Trouville sur Mer on tourism

My fav beach webpage in France, plages tv on the beach of Trouville sur Mer:

Enjoy the short post and introduction on Trouville sur Mer together with me. And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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