Archive for April 15th, 2021

April 15, 2021

The Aquarium of La Rochelle!!

Let me update this wonderful experience for all. We love the seas and aquariums are a bit of consolation to see these wonderful animals as our road warrior takes us we love to come to La Rochelle. PLenty written in my blog on the town and personal anecdotes , however, this time will tell you about the Aquarium of La Rochelle!

I usually just mention it on the run of a post on visiting a town, however, this is not just any aquarium. It is by the old port of La Rochelle, a town with many posts in my blog on visits by us. In our runs north south in France and into Spain we passed by La Rochelle until my son came to study here and told us about it. As so many things to see in our belle France , we went finally and love it; we came back to La Rochelle. One of the hightlights of the trip was going to this Aquarium by the harbor, very rustic and modern and from a real adventurer of the seas founder and now expert builder of aquariums all over the world. 


The aquarium La Rochelle is located in department Charente-Maritime no 17,region of Nouvelle Aquitaine, opposite the old Port. Opened in 1988 on a surface of 8 445 m2, it exhibits 12 000 animals of 600 species spread between 75 pool tanks.  The aquarium originates from the fish collection of René Coutant, a manufacturer of aquariums, which he publicly exposes for the first time in 1972, with the help of his children Pascal and Roselyne with only a surface of 250 square meters. This aquarium is destroyed in a fire, on July 31, 1985.

The aquarium,is rebuilt near the marina of the Minimes, has 1 600 M2 and has 36 aquariums with a total volume of 550 000 liters; then the aquarium moves near the vieux port or  old port in 2001. On a surface of 8 445 m2, it comprises more than 12 000 marine animals of 600 different species distributed in 3 million liters of sea water aquariums, of which 1.5 million of liters is for the shark Basin.


The tour is divided into sections such as

Salle Atlantique or Atlantic Hall. The first room presents the local species of the coasts of Charente-Maritime and the foreshore (cuttlefish, rays, soles, speckled seahorses, etc.).


Salle Mediterranée or Mediterranean Room. This room presents fish, invertebrates and corals of the Mediterranean Sea (saupes fish, cardinal fish, red coral, etc.).


Milieu Océanique or Ocean Environment ;an aquarium presents wildlife off the coast of Africa (Barracudas, jacks, guitar rays, etc).

Espace méduses or Jellyfish area. This space presents the jellyfish of tropical and temperate waters. Two aquariums also contain animal and plant plankton.

Salle Caraïbes or Caribbean Room. Five aquariums present species living in the Caribbean (diodes, angelfish, fish surgeons, etc.). A mangrove is also reconstituted on a terrarium.


Salle Indo-Pacifique or Indo-Pacific Room. This aquariums feature various species of fish, invertebrates and corals that are cohabiting in the Great barrier reefs, Hawaiian archipelagos and the Red Sea. Three aquariums immersed in darkness also allow to observe the life of the Night Reef: bioluminescence, fluorescence and absorption of light. Finally, a last aquarium shows cuttings of corals.

L’Aquarium des requins or the aquarium of sharks .Bleachers are installed allowing to observe different species of sharks (fish saws, grey sharks, bulls, etc.) evolving in an aquarium.


L’aquarium de l’amphithéâtre or the aquarium of the amphitheater presents benches of fish surgeons and jacks evolving among morays, a green turtle and a tortoise with scales. The amphitheatre behind the aquarium offers screenings of films.

La serre tropicale or the tropical greenhouse is the exit of the aquarium and takes place via a tropical greenhouse, consisting of three aquariums and a river with turtles.


In all is a great nice family outing after a day seeing the beauty of the sea and the historical buildings in La Rochelle, a must visit. You can type La Rochelle in my search right hand column of my blog and see all the posts on the town.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The official Aquarium of La Rochelle

La Rochelle tourist office on the aquarium

The city of La Rochelle on the aquarium

Enjoy this great family outing good for all ages in beautiful La Rochelle.  The Aquarium is another dandy to visit with the entire family.

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

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April 15, 2021

Basilica of Saint Nicolas of Nantes!

And let me update for you and me this one. Nantes has many beautiful monuments for a city not really taken aim to visit by visitors/tourists; however, it is worth the detour to visit old Bretagne. I happened to live near and use its airport for going out into the world. However, this time , let me tell you a bit more on one of its beautiful monuments, the Basilica of Saint Nicolas of Nantes!

Let me take you closer to me in the Loire Atlantique dept 44 of the region of Pays de la Loire from which many still think it is in Bretagne/Brittany. I take you to a dear city many times visited, the wonderful Nantes.  And while we are in this great city of the West of France, let me tell you a bit more on one of its monuments. The Basilica of Saint Nicolas or Basilique de Saint Nicholas, a great monument and one of the sights to see while in Nantes.  Of course, I have written on Nantes several posts but not on the Basilica alone and it deserves a separate post so here I go.  

The Basilica of Saint Nicolas dates from the 19C. The construction started in 1844 and lasted 25 years. It took no less than 15 years to erect the bell tower. The builders were faced with difficulties due to the narrowness of the terrain. They had to make an exception to the tradition, which meant that all the Catholic buildings should be oriented eastward, towards the Rising Sun, which represented the risen Christ. The Basilica of St. Nicolas has the peculiarity to be on a north-south axis. The Church is made of granite and stones. Its architecture is neo-Gothic style. The basilica is accessible by a door located on the right side, when you are behind, rue de Feltre. 


A bit of history I like

A Chapel or small Church branch is erected between the second half of the 11C and the end of the 12C. The hypothesis of a construction before 1186, based on the existence of a “cemetery Saint-Nicolas”, mentioned that year. At that time, the area was part of the Saint-Similien parish. In 1226, Duke Pierre I of Brittany launched the construction of an enclosure that encompasses the Saint-Nicolas district.

At the beginning of the 18C, with the fortifications deteriorating, the Duke François I renovated the walls and rebuilt the Porte Saint-Nicolas (at the junction between the current  rue de l’Arche Séche and the rue  du Commander-Boulay). At the same time, the Church of St. Nicholas is the subject of renovations. Its name is mentioned for the first time on a document of 1444. The before mentioned renovation  lasts between 1766-1772 is thus the final touch to the old building which has three naves separated by a large pillar. The bedside is flat. Its apse was located at the site of the present Rue Affre, and it could be accessed from the south from the place Félix-Fournier. The main entrance is to the south, via a porch, located at the level of the current place Félix-Fournier. The church always presents its monumental stained glass and its ornate altar.  The construction of the present church ranges from 1844 (laying of the first stone) to 1869 (blessing of the church) on a confined ground which obliges it to be oriented on a north-south axis, and not east-west as the Christian tradition would like. The Church is built in granite of the region, as well as in hard stones and tufa of Touraine. It is erected in minor Basilica on October 26, 1882 by Pope Leo XIII.


The Basilica Church is severely damaged during the allied bombardment of September 16, 1943 which affects the whole district , including part of the Place Royale, nearby, and the rue de Calvaire that runs along the north.  The war ended, the reconstruction site began in 1953 and lasted until 1974.

A brief description on the architecture by an amateur enthusiast , me.

The Basilica of Saint Nicolas consists of four buildings: the porch tower, the nave of the faithful, the transept and the bedside composed of five radiant chapels. The bedside is therefore polygonal. The nave is of eight spans including those of the transept, the choir is composed of six bays, three of which are for the chapels of the apse. The roofs of the basilica are in saddleback except the bell tower which is equipped with an arrow roof.



Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this wonderful monument are:

The Catholic parish of the Basilica :

The Nantes tourist office on things to see:

The Loire Atlantique dept 44 tourist board on Nantes:

The Pays de la Loire region on Nantes in 24 hrs:

Nantes is very easy to come from Paris as it is linked by airport and train station TGV and there is a wonderful airport express bus connecting the airport with the train station and the rest can be done on foot or a tramway! Enjoy the vist to the city of the  Dukes of Brittany oops! And do not forget to visit its historical monuments such as the Basilica of Saint Nicolas!!

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

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April 15, 2021

Cathedral Saint Julien of Le Mans!!

And this is another dandy monument of my belle France. In my road warrior ways of course I have come to Le Mans and what a surprise to find this wonderful Cathedral Saint Julien. Let me update this older post on it and hope you enjoy as much as I

In my humble efforts to showcase the wonderful historical architecturally stunning places of my belle France, I come to you to a fabulous city and great Cathedral.  I admit that I came here for the 24hrs auto race and the museum, but once touch base with the city, I came back for more to see it up close and personal; it was fantastic.  I like to tell you about the Cathedral Saint Julien of Le Mans; it too, deserves a post of its own. The fortified city of Le Mans is in the Sarthe department 72 in the region of Pays de la Loire. The city has a great public transport system with bus, tramway, and a great train station direct with Paris which I have passed and do connections in it. By car, best underground parkings are Jacobins and pl de la République. The autoroute A11/A10 from Paris is the easiest if toll road or get on the A13 direction Rouen , go down on the A12 direction Rambouillet and there take the N12 direction Dreux continue until Alençon and there take the A28 to Le Mans for free.


The first Cathedral was built in the 6C and the very famous Gothic choir was begun around 1220.  Let me tell you more of this Romanesque Cathedral Saint Julien.  The nave has five double spans. The vault is Gothic the vaults of the collateral have been rebuilt. The pillars are composed of half columns engaged on a quadrangular nucleus with balusters. The elevation has three levels: the large arcades, the triforium with alternately open and blind arches, the high windows. The large arcades are in a broken arch but the archivolt is distinguished from the Romanesque nave of the early 12C. The walls of the collateral are Romanesque. The first level is decorated with blind arches. The tower of the southern end of the transept dates from the middle of the 12C. The gate of the knights, name due to the relief of Samson recessed above. The window pierced above the gate also had a defensive role. The West façade. completed around 1110-1115, the two large buttresses were built around 1160 to counter support the vaults of the nave that did not originally exist; the pediment is bicolored (rousers/limestone) The large window has decorated archivolts falling on balusters.   The South gate of the nave. Although it can be counted among the portals of the first Gothic art, it retains the traditions of the Romanesque sculpture the roman Christ of the Apocalypse of Saint John, a novel theme par excellence. These stained glass windows are from the 12C: 2nd and 3rd Quarter: The window of Ascension; the cycle of Saint Etienne ;Saint Etienne lead out of the city been stoned, and Saint Gervais flogging as well as the gorging of Saint Protais.


Moving on to the history and architecture.

The Cathedral of St. Julien is one of the largest buildings of the Gothic-Romanesque period of France and unique in the west of France. It is a medieval testament to the architectural style of the Gothic Angevin. Begun around 1060 by Bishop Wulgrin, it was completed in its current form around 1430. It houses the tombs of Saint Julien and Charles d’Anjou. Located on the Butte du Vieux-Mans( a hilly area of the city), the building has a tower culminating at 64 meters, making it the highest building in metropolitan area of Le Mans and dominating the country around Le Mans.  The Cathedral is located in the city center of Le Mans, on the Cité Plantagenet. It is surrounded by the Place de Cardenal Grente, the Place Saint-Michel , the Psalette and its gardens and below the Place du Jet d’Eau. It marks the end of the Grande Rue which is the main street of the Old Town.




The cathedral has on its western flank a rare piece attesting to the ancient presence of megaliths. It is a sandstone menhir (standing stone) with a height of 4.55 meters. This menhir dates from prehistoric times and was installed in the Place Saint Michel in 1778, following the destruction of the Dolmen de la pierre en lait ( dolmen of the Stone with milk).

The Cathedral’s architecture combines two major arts: Romanesque art for the nave and Gothic art for the choir and transept. The stained-glass windows that adorn it are the symbol of this fusion of genres. The exterior length is of 134 meters, and the interior nave is of 57 meters. It is a true museum of the art of stained glass, the cathedral is home to the oldest stained-glass window on site, the window of Ascension.




The large organs, located at the bottom of the south Cross of the transept, were carried out between 1529 and 1535 by the factor Pierre Bert in a Renaissance style buffet, designed and sculpted according to the instructions of Symon Hayeneufve. In 1634, the brothers Jean and François de Héman restored the organ, which then had 42 games. In 1848, the division of the narrative is enlarged and that of the crankset is reinforced by the brothers Claude who carry the number of games to 46. From 1959 to 1963, Pierre Chéron began a restoration the instrument was inaugurated by Gaston Litaize in 1974. It is again restored between 2016 and 2018.

It is well recommended to see it by yours truly and of course if in Le Mans impossible to missed it. Some of the webpages available to help you plan your trip here are:

The official Cathedral St Julien of Le Mans

The City of Le Mans on the Cathedral:

The Sarthe dept 72 tourist board on the Cathedral of Le Mans

The Pays de la Loire tourist board on the Cathedral of Le Mans

Yes, this is Le Mans at its best in the Cathedral Saint Julien! Hope you have enjoy the post as much as we did. And remember ,happy travels ,good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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