Archive for May 24th, 2021

May 24, 2021

A park like no other at Chateau Thoiry!

I bring you and I back to my beloved Yvelines dept 78 of the Ïle de France region and the wonderful unique Château Thoiry! Where else can you find a castle and an open zoo than here in my belle France! I will update this older post and hope you enjoy as I.

Looking back at the places we have been as a family ,so many, I have come to realized sometimes do not write enough on certains ones. This is one of them, this is a wonderful castle and property that even one blog post won’t do justice. A must to see away from Paris. I am talking about the Castle of Thoiry and the Animal park or zoo that is there. Château de Thoiry is a Renaissance castle located in Thoiry in the Yvelines department 78, some 50 km west of Paris, and 30 km from Versailles. The roads are nice quant the real pleasure of driving in Europe, you have the D11 that cuts the town in half, towards Villiers-Saint-Frédéric and the N12 to Septeuil, the D45 goes to Richebourg and then Maule and Orgeval. The D119 runs almost the length parallel to the D11 to get you to Beynes and Hargeville. The closest train station is at Beynes 7 km and Montfot-l’Amaury-Mére at 8km.


A bit of history I like

Raoul II of Moreau, grandson of the first owner of the castle, led the castle’s one and only sale of its history. On May 1, 1612, he provoked a duel and killed Ann le Blanc de Rault at the gates of the castle. Condemned to death for this murder, he exiled himself to Rome. His property seized, the Château de Thoiry was entrusted by the king to Guillaume Marescot. Since its acquisition in 1612 by Guillaume Marescot, the Château de Thoiry has remained for thirteen generations the property of the same family, the transmission often being by women.

Angélique de Marescot married Charles de Machault Arnouville , later Charles must leave Angélique to find his troops, since he is in the regiment of Languedoc-Dragons (he will be Colonel in 1780). During those years when Charles will be away from Angelica regularly, they will write 1500 letters of love, 6000 pages in total. These pages kept in the archives of Thoiry are a gold mine where we find the small details of daily life of the times.

At the dawn of the French revolution, Angélique de Bandi, Charles de Machault and their children are in Paris. They left the capital after the Bastille took refuge in Thoiry. The family was denounced in December 1793 by the teacher at the Montfort Battalion at the city’s supervisory committee. He was reportedly saying that Charles ‘ son-in-law and brother had emigrated abroad, which was a punishable offence. They were therefore arrested on 20 May 1794. Condemned to the guillotine, they were rescued extremist from death. It was after the fall of Robespierre that the chain executions stopped. They were released on October 25, 1794.

Eugene, comte de La Coourse, his wife and Marie Hélène Béjot had made a vow at the beginning of the war of 1914: If the Germans had been stopped before Thoiry, they would consecrate the chapel to the Sacred Heart. Exhausted from the war, Eugene died in 1919 of the Spanish flu. His widow realized his vow to built the Chapel.  During WWII, Thoiry was often chosen by the Nazis Army as a resting place for their troops in 1940.

The castle, open to the public since 1965 by Count Antoine de La Coourse, is also famous for its zoo animal park. The entire castle does not visit. Only a few rooms on the ground floor are open to the public. The room with the staircase of honor is adorned with four tapestries of the Goblins series The Love of the gods, the arms of the poet Guillaume Budé: Venus in the bath, Diane returning from the hunt, the myth of Narcissus, and the abduction of Europe. In the entrance are several portraits, one of which represents Marie-Hélène Béjot, Countess of La Coourse.

A bit of a description on the interiors of the castle are

Salon of the Matin (morning room) this room retains a collection of porcelain plates. The furniture consists of several armchairs of the 18C, one of the Regency style, the other of Louis XV style, a last Louis XVI style. The chapel is dedicated to the Sacred Heart after WWI vows. The stained glass windows represent, among other things, two angels bearing the arms of Raoul and den Motet (referring to their participation in the 1248 Crusade). A Virgin to the Child and Enfant in stained glass, ceramic made by Della Robbia adorns the interior. The oak altar dates from 1754.

The Archive room of the Château de Thoiry retains several tens of thousands of documents, of which only a few are visible. These include several letters (signed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Châteaubriand, Rodin, Lamartine, Eugène Sue, George Sand ,etc), genealogical trees, photographs, miscellaneous objects, medals and official documents.

Salon of the Tapisserie is a room that owes its name to the tapestry of the goblins of which it is adorned. The exhibition has several portraits: one representing the Chancellor of Ponchartrain, the other Jean-Baptiste de Machault Arnouville. The lounge is also furnished with two 17C busts and a 17C Dutch chandelier.

The  Lounge Vertes Salon has a monumental 19C fireplace, a copy of the Renaissance chimney of the hotel Vogüé de Dijon. The furniture consists in particular of a series of armchairs, sofas and shepherdesses, a Dutch marquesy of the 17C, a small table of the 17C in fine marquetry supported by four gilded wooden caryatids, and a 17C dog bed. The piece also retains a tapestry representing king Henri IV chasing the Lion and a collection of portraits such as the  Portrait of Young Girl by Nicolas de Largillierre, Portrait of Galéas de Marescotti, Portrait of king Louis XV Child by the workshop of Hyacinthe Rigaud, portrait of Monsieur le Duc d’Orléans representing the brother of Louis XIV.

The large vestibule, covered with woodwork, is furnished with a chest-style inlay and a Regency-era ice, surrounded by two Roman busts. The rest of the furniture consists of the car chair of Charles de Machault Arnouville and a cassone, wedding chest dating from 1450, brought back from Italy by the Marescoti and restored in 2007. The vestibule is adorned with several portraits including two pastels representing Jean-Baptiste de Machault Arnouville and his wife Geneviève Rusty, a Portrait of a gentleman by Nicolas de Largillierre and a portrait of Alexandre Millan by Hyacinthe Rigaud.

The libraries are surmounted on their cornices of Imari vases of Japan. They retain a collection of old works of music salon or white salon furnished with two shepherdesses , an office in fine marquetry and above a roll signed Lardin, a table of Migeon stone, sofas and armchairs.  Due to club Père, tens of tapestries of Aubusson illustrating the fables of La Fontaine, armchairs made by Pissard and Jean, rafraichissoirs of China offered by king  Louis XV, and a harpsichord painted in 1750, near forty years after his realization, of grotesques and monkeys musicians by Christophe Huet, animal painter of the king.

This Angelique room owes its name to the various women bearing the name of Angélique who were the owners of the castle: Angélique de Bandi, Angélique de Marescot, Angélique de Vogüé and Angélique Apougny. The furniture of the room consists of a Migeon stone reading, a Regency-style dresser and another of turcot, corners, benches and a canopy bed, a dresser decorated with bronze. The walls are adorned with several portraits: a portrait of Angelique representative of a young Marescot, a portrait of Angelique representative of Vogüé, a portrait of Angélique Apougny and another of Michel de Marescot by Nicolas de Largillierre, a portrait of Angélique de Bandi and a portrait of Charles de Machault.

The Chinese boudoir retains an 18C hairdresser, a spittoon, and a cane chair concealing a pierced chair. The painted silks of the boudoir were imported from Asia in the 18C. The gardens of 450 hectares are wonderful see below.

The Thoiry Animal park takes place within the domaine of Château de Thoiry, located in the rural towns of Thoiry and Villiers-le-Maca. Opened in 1968 and first managed by its founder, Antoine de la Coourse, then by his son Paul, it is now managed by Antoine de la Panouse since 1968. This Zoological Park, which extends over 150 of the 450 hectares that includes the estate, presents about 750 animals belonging to approximately 46 species of mammals, 26 species of birds and 9 species of reptiles. It also has amphibians and invertebrates. It features a safari party, visitable by car, a more traditional pedestrian area and a 126 hectares botanical park comprising several theme gardens: Autumn gardens, perfumes, English, Labyrinth, Rose Garden, and an inverted floor.


The official webpage of the Park Castle of Thoiry

The Paris tourist office on the park castle of Thoiry

The town of Thoiry on its history and castle zoo

The Yvelines dept 78 tourist office on Thoiry castle and zoo

This is one of the off the beaten path sites of my belle France that needs to be seen more by all. The Château zoo park of Thoiry is very nice indeed; good for the whole family. Plenty of more history and architecture to be found here, hope you enjoy it as I.

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

May 24, 2021

Down the coast of Morbihan, three beauties!

Ok this older post I am just going to refresh the text and update the links and do in my black and white series with no pictures, plenty of them in my other posts on these three towns! These are down the coast of my department 56 Morbihan and we frequent often, very nice small towns. Let me in a way introduce you to Locmariaquer, Crac’h, and Saint Philibert. Hope you enjoy it as I bringing back the memories of our visits.

The beauties off the coast of my beautiful Morbihan just south of me. Just an update to tell you a bit more on the history and other things to see not shown before. I will be telling you about three beauties of Locmariaquer, Crac’h, and Saint Philibert. These are all coastal towns with good beaches!

Locmariaquer is located at the western mouth of the Gulf of Morbihan and has many beaches overlooking the Bay of Quiberon, western part of Mor Braz which opens access to the Atlantic Ocean. Love to come here for a drink or lunch across from the bridge into the sea.

The town of Locmariaquer was then considered the cradle of the flat oyster. The first concessions in the river of Auray were issued in 1882. But, in 1973-1974, the flat oyster of the Gulf of Morbihan is decimated, even annihilated by two pests. It is then that the culture of the hollow oyster of Japanese origin is introduced. Today, the Oyster farmer Locmariaquérois became a hollow oyster farmer in the Gulf and Rivière de Saint-Philibert. The harvest and rearing of the flat oyster are mainly in Quiberon Bay.

Things to see

Church of Notre-Dame de Kerdro: Romanesque style, built in the 11C and 12C, Chapelle du Moustoir; Chapelle Saint-Pierre, Saint-Michel Chapel; Statue of Our Lady of Kerdro, Pointe de Kerpenhir: High of 2.70 meters, it was carved in granite in 1946, but stayed for 16 years in the Church before being erected in its location in 1962. It replaces a statue erected in 1883 and destroyed by the Germans at the same time as the fort during the occupation, and the Port of Locmariaquer

Locmariaquer is home to a remarkable concentration of megaliths:: Large, shattered menhir of Er Grah, the world’s largest menhir, nearly 20 meters, currently broken into four pieces. Cairn of the Merchant’s Table; Mounds of Er Grah; The flat stones, a long-bent dolmen of nearly 25 meters; Room and tumulus of the Mané-Rutual; Dolmen of Kercadoret;Dolmen of Kerveresse; The Mane-Lud tumulus; Tumulus of Mané et Hroech; this tumulus, 100 meters long and 60 meters wide, 10 meters high, was excavated in 1863. This princely tomb concealed in its center a four-meters long burial chamber in which the researchers found exceptional furnishings, comprising of 106 polished axes in jade, as well as beads and pendulous in variscite, hidden for the most part under the paving of the vault. At the entrance to the room were three fragments of a carved slab. The decoration represents in the center a crest, figuration of the mother goddess, containing a horned sign and two small sticks; above and below, a series of driven axes and finally, at the bottom, a more combusting axe, with a ring at the bottom of the handle.

 Info on the megaliths stones of Locmariaquer:

The City of Locmariaquer on its heritage:

The Bay of Quiberon tourist office on Locmariaquer:

Moving right along to Saint Philibert.

Saint-Philibert was recently created in 1892 on territories that belonged to Locmariaquer.

Things to see here:

The beaches are wonderful here. Notre-Dame-de-Flux-and-Ebb chapel, or Notre-Dame-du-Ster, 17C. Point of Keryondre. Point of Men-er-Basie. Dolmen of Kermané. Dolmen of Kervehennec and  Church of Saint Philibert. 

The City of St Philibert on its beaches:

The Bay of Quiberon tourist office on St Philibert:

And smaller but more to see here at Crac’h, one of my sons worked here!

Crac’h is located in the district of Auray, in the agglomeration or metro area of Lorient, and is part of the community of towns Auray Quiberon Atlantique Terres. The emigrants, who came from current Great Britain in the 5C and the life of this century, colonized the territories of Crac’h to such an extent that all the names of places are borrowed from their language, starting with that of the parish. Crac’h, in all likelihood, is a variant of “Kreac’h, Kreh” which means: Butte, or Hill. The most known things to see here the Saint Thuriau Church, passing by just for shopping fruits or going to the beaches down further.

Things to see in Crac’h:

The Church Saint-Thuriau the parish church dates from 1809. It has been the subject of several restorations. In 1828 the Duchess of Berry granted the municipality of a relief for repair: The steeple located near the coasts would be a useful point of view for navigators. Above the West porch, a stone bears a Latin inscription referring to the altitude. In 1904, the Church received three beautiful new bells from Villedieu-les-Poêles . It is built In the form of a Latin cross, it rises from a square tower to the west and from a porch at middle. The bell tower has three uneven floors and a pyramidal arrow. An oculus adorns the second floor. The same bell tower is open in four bent bays.

Inside the Church Saint Thuriau, the nave is stone-paved. The wings of the transept open with bold arches, which takes place on a circular podium. The bust and the reliquary arm of Saint Thuriau contribute to the richness of the sanctuary. (The relics of this Saint were brought to the Duke of Brittany at the château of Auray and then entrusted to the parish of Crac’h). Descent of the Cross by Jouvenet, whose original of 1700 is located at the Louvre museum in Paris, and separating the statues of Saint-Thuriau and Saint Clair. The side altarpieces include flower falls and wreaths surmounted by cherub faces. It is to the north of the Donation of the Rosary: the character of the left at the foot of the Virgin would be Saint Dominic and the dog, symbol of fidelity, carries in the mouth the torch of the faith. South Side, the other painting The Virgin, St. Anne and Saint Joachim dates from 1882. Other statues enrich the Church: Saint Isidore, Saint Mathurin, Notre-Dame de la Clarity on the left, and right, Saint Thuriau, Saint Appoline and Saint Avertin. At the bottom of the Church, a vast rostrum rests on four columns with Corinthian capitals and its balustrade is adorned with two angels reported from the old altar. The organ comes from Sainte-Anne d’Auray.

The two dolmens of Parc-Guéren, the door of the staircase turret of the Château du Plessis-Kaër, the dolmen of Kerourang, the dolmen of Mané-Rohenezel, the dolmen of the Mare the walkway covered by Luffang Tal er Roch, the Gallo-Roman aqueduct of Rosnarho. The Château de Kérantré is on the right bank of the Auray river. It was built in the late 18C as a replacement for a former manor house destroyed by a fire in 1788. The place served as an asylum for the escaped emigrants following the Quiberon affair in 1795 (plot by Bretons against the French revolution). The house chapel was dedicated to Sainte-Anne. At the Gouvello since 1620, the castle passed, by marriage, in 1871, to the family of D’Aboville, who still owns it. The large rectangular building pierced by windows with mullions opens with a monumental door perched on a porch with balusters and enclosed in a thomas of stone that extends a triangular pediment placed on the roof. Nearby was the bridge called Caesar’s bridge in the countryside, which put in communication the two parts of the Roman way between Vannes and Locmariaquer.

The City of Crac’h on heritage/history:,5.html

The Bay of Quiberon tourist office on Crac’h:

And to know these towns are very easily connected and close to each other so it is possible to see them all in a couple days excluding the dolmens and beaches, for these you will need a week lol! There you go enjoy the coastal towns of my beautiful Morbihan of my lovely Bretagne.

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

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May 24, 2021

Schoolboys in France, our take!

This is an older post that believe good to update and hoping it serve as a base to research any family with young children moving to France at minimum perhaps Europe. This is our story of our boys going to school here. Read on, it might be interesting for you too. Any comments are welcome on the schoolboys in France, our take!!!

This is my 18th year living here and 21th as citizen of France. Basically, broken down evenly now between the Yvelines 78 (ïle de France), and the Morbihan 56 (Bretagne).  One subject dear to me and the family I have not touch in my blog yet, and its about time, is the question of schooling for the kids. I have 3 boys now young men. When I first had the idea from my dear late wife Martine (French native of Meaux ,Seine-et-Marne 77, ïle de France), the first thing we thought was the schooling for the boys. Back in the previous old home of Florida there were in A rated schools by the school system there so we wanted to stay the same in France.

We went out and spoked with the French family on the schooling and was a bit surprise of the strict ruling as compare to what we knew. Also, the easy school days as they are no substitute teachers here, and kids are sent home. The homework was constant every day! In all subjects! Mind you our boys already spoked French and even their grades were better than the average on first go! And this of course, was a huge advantage.

We did not want to just listen to the  French family here so we went out to the French-American community in and around Paris (there is an estimated 100K Americans living in France most around Paris) . By doing this approach we were directed first to the  AAWE organisation or the Association of American Wives of Europeans. They published a book detailing the differences and equalities of the US and French educational systems that was invaluable. Their webpage:

The landing was easy ,soft and we found out our boys were getting good notes from the start. Due in fact for the training at home with the mother, an import/export custom agent who was very good of grammar , an important subject in French schools. We were told of sending them to private school and there were good one near us in Saint Germain en Laye and Versailles. However, I was a product of public schools and did well with high notes at university (Dean’s list and Honor Roll student) so figure to put them as well in public schools here.

We got in and found out the schools ;free public schools were better in the smaller towns in Yvelines. I end up sending them to the town of Verneuil-sur-Seine and the collége John Zay was super and the staff always gave us compliments of our boys. It was a nice trip for them fully enjoyed with the bus and train as it is usual here. It gives you freedom. Here all 3 boys came together to the college is like a middle school back in the USA fyi. The school webpage:

Then, came the Lycée or high school Blanche de Castille in the nearer town of Le Chesnay (now call Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt) semi private this time.  It was fantastic! Very high ranking on passing BAC tests here! We really enjoy it and the nearby Bel Air castle complex with many friends meeting on the park, and a miniature statue of the Eiffel tower! The bus system was the same as the one in Versailles so very convenient and the boys love it so did we! The school webpage:


Then came big decisions. The university system here as compare to the USA is very weak, but practically free. The ones we saw near us were about 500 euros per year! Most of the best jobs are had in the Grande Ecoles and they are like Ivy league schools ,very expensive. I had experience with universities and my skills were home grown , not too positive about universities; I think they are just business. My opinion of course. Therefore, I told my boys to choose: univ or special technical schools that provide a skill and a job. They chose the later one!

My boys were split with my twins going into specialized schools in gardening, building/ plumbing, and wood work which gave them job experiences . France does not have a system of funnelling the students into jobs so the youth unemployment is very high ; according to the EU is 17.1% as of May 5th 2021, but France is at 19,5% .The young spent a lot of time in interim, training jobs for long periods and unemployment until finally with lots of work experience they can land a permanent job. They are now on permanent job for the older and still interim for the twin boys.

My oldest boy, went to commercial business school , very good CFA Affida at La Verriére 78 Yvelines.  There he got his commerce training as he wanted to go into Sales and did had the chance to work at the Chateau de Versailles and the gift stores across from the rive gauche château train station in Versailles. Moving over to Bretagne, he went to the IBEP Vannes. Got his driving license and found a permanent job in Vannes!

la-verriere-cfa-affida-noels-school-front c2010

For info the CFA Affida school webpage:

The IBEP school webpage:

My twins finished off their studies at the high school or Lycée Kerplouz LaSalle in Auray, where they work on certificates in gardening and buildings which allows them to get several interim jobs all over the Morbihan dept 56 and received an allocation something like a support for return to full time employment and continue to be on call for more jobs until finally get their permanent one. This is after graduation, they are assigned a counselor who works with the local Mission Locale house that help and guide youngsters to the job market. Its ok they get to choose missions all over from Vannes, Crac”h, Pontivy, Val d’Oust (old le roc st andré), and Auray. They are provided help on transporation, lodging, and food. The school webpage:



The life here is nice and friendly but the will to excel is a bit behind. If you have experience then coming will be no problems I found mine before arriving for a big CAC 40 company  (sort of dow jones )in management and even went to top management now in the process of retirement June 2021. However, for the young, inexperience, its an uphill battle. Of course, if  want to continue to university, there is another battle with housing, transportation, acceptance, etc and parents help. This is something I got away with!

Hope it gives you another look on France from a worldly person and experiences on both sides of the pond!  Schools included!!  And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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