Archive for June, 2021

June 30, 2021

The Cathedral Saint Gatien of Tours!!

One of the nicest cathedrals in France and it took me about two trips to Tours to finally see it! Well it was worth the stop and it is a wonderful cathedral. I like to update the text and links on this older post for the enjoyment of me and you. Let me tell you about the Cathedral Saint Gatien of Tours!!

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Now let me bring you to an area I have been coming since even before living in France. This is the Loire valley of the kings, and the purest French language according to scholars. I have passed and been in Tours several times, but rather quickly either on business meetings or just stopping by on my way to other places.  All this change until I came to live in France in 2003 and was close by. Tours and its castles you think , yes, there are plenty here and beautiful. However, I came mostly for the architecture and the history and mainly for the wines of the Loire. But again, fell that had not given the merit it deserves to its wonderful Cathedral Saint Gatien; therefore, here is my presentation of it now.

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Saint-Gatien Cathedral of Tours in the department of Indre-et-Loire no 37, Region Centre-Val de la Loire (this is the real castle region not to be confused with the other one pays de la loire, even if castles there too ::)) . Dedicated to Saint Gatien, the first Bishop of Tours, it is the seat of the Diocese of Tours and the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Ecclesiastical province of Tours. St. Gatien Cathedral was built between 1170 and 1547. During its creation, it was located almost at the outlet of the bridge over the Loire controlled by the Château de Tours, on the road connecting Paris to the southwest of France.

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A bit of history i like

The first Cathedral of St. Maurice was built by Lidoire, Bishop of Tours from 337 to 371 and Martin’s predecessor. Burned down in 561, it was restored by Gregory of Tours and opened  in 590. Because of its location, at the corner of the Castrum, and its orientation to the east, access was made, if not through the late-antique enclosure, at least by bayonet from the throughway in the city. The Cathedral of Tours was rebuilt during the second quarter of the 12C and was burned down in 1166 during the struggles between Louis VII of France and Henry II of England, Count of Anjou. This Cathedral has a length of 100 meters, with of 28 meters with the transept is 46 meters wide, the towers are on the North of 68 meters and on the South of 69 meters.  At the site of the present St. Gatien Cathedral, in the 4C there was a first sanctuary of modest size, then a second in the 6C. Finally, a third, Romanesque style, is built around 1125. Destroyed by several fires, the building was raised and transformed thanks to the generosity of Saint Louis (1236). From this time date the Choir of radiating Gothic style. Once the Choir and the transept were completed, the 14C saw the nave rise in turn. It will only be completed after the Hundred Years ‘ War, as is the façade that adopts a flamboyant Gothic style. It was also in the 14C that the Cathedral was definitively consecrated to Saint Gatien.

The best here are its stained glass windows. The most beautiful, dazzling, adorn the Chapels of the ambulatory and the high windows of the choir. It is one of the most perfect ensembles of  stained glass windows of the 13C  existing in Europe, complete, intact, multicolored, very varied. It is necessary to add the two rosaries of the transept, from the 14C, as well as those of the nave and the façade, from the 15C. Another beautiful 15C stained-glass window adorns one of the Chapels of the south aisle. The organ buffet would have been offered by Archbishop Martin of Beaune in the 16C damaged during the wars of Religion, it underwent several restorations and even in the 17C a real reconstruction, probably around 1620. The organ buffet is adorned with a dozen angels and cherubs.  When visiting Saint-Gatien, don’t forget your pair of binoculars!  The contemplation of these angels, very finely sculpted, when the rosary is in the background, is really breathtaking indeed. The bells are located in the south tower.  Christus, was done in 1749, it comes from the abbey of Cormy and then settled in the cathedral in 1807.  Maurice, was installed at the Cathedral in 1864.  Gatien, was installed at the cathedral in 1864. Martin, was done in the 14C .

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You can also see in the Cathedral the tomb of two of the children of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany, who died in the early years. The two recumbents this monument was in 1506 in the collegiate Church of Saint-Martin before being dismantled in the French revolution and then reassembled in 1814 in a Chapel of  Saint-Gatien where it was restored for the first time in 1834.  The tomb of the Children of France. This superb memorial in Carrara marble is the tomb of Charles Orland (died 3 years old) and Charles (died 25 days).  The recumbents correspond to the French sculpture of the time. The nave is the work of Italians artists  whom Charles VIII had brought back to France following the Italian Wars. They introduced the Italian Renaissance such as putti, coat of arms, dolphins, vegetable frieze, centaurs, sirens, etc. In the history of art, this monument is part of the first French Renaissance. It will of course have a certain influence on the sculptors of Touraine during what historians call the beautiful 16C.  Since 2011, the Cathedral houses a large 17C  tabernacle of ebony-and ivory-clad oak, having belonged to a chartreuse, then to the Carmel of Créteil which gave it to the State in  1950. Since 1963, it adorned the Château de Chambord  Chapel, but the estate wanted to refurnish itself only in objects related to its history. The tabernacle was transferred and renovated to St. Gatien Cathedral. A basement and a protection grid have been added. He is now exhibited in one of the Chapels of the ambulatory.

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During the first half of the 16C, the towers, characteristic of the Cathedral of Tours, received their coronation in Italian style. Two decades later, during the wars of Religion, the numerous statues of the portals were destroyed by the Protestants. At the French revolution, Saint-Gatien became the Temple of Reason.  The Cathedral of Tours has a magnificent canopy in its large Choir and two beautiful rosaries of radiant style, in the arms of the transept. One of them serves as a background to a sumptuous 16C organ buffet. The St. Gatien Cathedral has a magnificent canopy of the apse dates from the years 1260-1267. It dominates a Choir of radiant Gothic style erected thanks to the largesse of Saint Louis.  The nave comprises eight bays. The first six are from the 15C. The two farthest back to the Romanesque cathedral of the 12C. This is due to the lack of money. Pope John XXII , and the famous Jacques Duèze of the Cursed Kings even had to call for help in favor of the Cathedral.

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Further to be seen around the Cathedral Saint Gatien is a Cloister, also of Renaissance period, this Cloister bears the name of  Cloister of the Psalette, in reference to its function of school of Psalms (religious songs). Further north (about 350 meters), the remains of Gallo-Roman baths discovered during the excavations of 1974-78, under the original foundations of the castle of Tours, whose tower of Guise (13C), is the name of the young Duke who escaped in 1591, is well preserved. To the south of the Cathedral, the ancient palace of the Archbishop, built in the early 18C, is now the Museum of Fine Arts in Tours.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and is a must in Tours are

The parish of the Cathedral of Tourshttps://www.paroisse-cathedrale-tours.fr/cathedral/index

The Tours tourist office on the Cathedral: https://www.tours-tourisme.fr/voir-faire/activites-gratuites/468069-cathedrale-saint-gatien

The Touraine Loire Valley tourist board on Tourshttps://www.touraineloirevalley.com/decouvrir/belles-villes-de-touraine/visiter-tours/

The regional Val de Loire tourist board on Tourshttps://www.loirevalley-france.co.uk/outings/city-visits/tours-ville-dart-et-dhistoire-heart-loire-valley

There you go folks, you got all you need to come see this beauty, a jewel in the Loire, Cathedral of Saint Gatien of Tours. Enjoy it as we did.  And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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June 30, 2021

Castle of the Dukes of Brittany in Nantes!

Glad to find this old post and need to do update on text and links for you and me. This is an interesting post, of an emblematic monument just south of me. Let me tell you a bit about the Château des Ducs de Bretagne or the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany in Nantes!

Nantes is a unique place that is a must if only one this is it .It has been always my question coming to visit the city to ask why the dukes of Brittany/Bretagne have a castle in Nantes which is Loire Atlantique dept 44 of the Pays de la Loire region? I will answer this below in my amateur historical opinion and will be telling you about the Château des Ducs de Bretagne or the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany.

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Wait a minute! I have been telling you Nantes is not in Brittany but in Pays de la Loire region? yes officially indeed. This is an issue locally and many Bretons still considered it part of their region not just the castle but most of the Loire Atlantique dept 44 if not all. Historically, it was until the French revolution, what else!  There are historical quarrels that it was Marshal Pétain in 1941 who signed the order for the split and other that it was President René Coty in 1961 on a wish from the central government, but anyway nowadays they have been able to put the Breton flag on the pole in the city hall of Nantes and there are petitions for the annexation back into Brittany. This is the issue of long running , to be continue.

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My first encounter with this region or is it other region was on a touristic visit from my former home in Versailles to the city of Nantes and obviously we saw the castle first. This was back in 2003/4 thereabouts. I was a bit shock to realized that it was call the castle of the Dukes of Brittany a duchy but was not in Brittany!! See above….One reason the  French pages now says Castle of Nantes! I will go on with the tourist part as always.  I have written before in my blog of course, always mix in with visits to Nantes; however, a full post on it is well merited and here it goes!

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The castle of the Dukes of Brittany is an architectural ensemble, consisting of a 15C rampart and various buildings built from the 14C to the 18C after being ducal residence under Duke Francis II and Duchess Anne, the castle became a Royal fortress, seat of the governor of Nantes and Royal prison, then barracks from the 18C. Now owned by the city of Nantes since 1915, the castle has been used for tourist and museum use since 1924. From 1990 to 2007, the castle has benefited from a large renovation and is from the seat of a new museum dedicated to the history of Nantes. As a result of the transformation of the urban community into Metropolis, the castle becomes a metropolitan property in 2015.nantes-castle-dukes-main-ent-my13

Location and transport to the castle in town: The Castle is bordered to the north and west by rue Prémion, Place Marc-Elder and the Rue des Etats; to the east by the place Duchess Anne; to the south by the cours John Kennedy, which until the 1930’s was an arm of the Loire river, known as the arm of the hospital. The castle was indeed at the edge of the Loire river, which feed its moat; close to castle, on the town side, was the port Maillard (the present Allée du Port-Maillard) and the suburb side, the Quai de Richebourg (the current allée Commandant Charcot). The castle, located on the first line of bus in 1826, on the first tramway line in 1879, and is currently served by line 1 of the tramway and line 4 of the Busway of Nantes at the station Duchess Anne-Château des Ducs de Bretagne.

A bit of history I like:

From 1207, Guy de Thouars, a widower of Constance, Duchess of Brittany and in this title regent of the duchy, built the first castle called “de la Tour Neuve” at the foot of the Gallo-Roman ramparts of the city then circumscribed to the present district of Bouffay, replacing the Château du Bouffay. During the second half of the 14C, the Chastel de la Tour Neuve  was enlarged by Duke Jean IV of Brittany, who built several granite polygonal towers. The tower known as the  Vieux Donjon (Old Dungeon) is the only vestige of this epoch that remains in the 21C. In 1466, Duke François II of Brittany decided to rebuild the castle. The new castle will be both the main residence of the ducal court and a military fortress capable of withstanding the royal power. Courtyard side by a residential palace of white tufa with refined facades,  the great government, the Golden Crown Tower, the Grand Logis ((le Grand Gouvernement, la tour de la Couronne d’Or, le Grand Logis)  and, on the city side, by seven massive towers of shale and granite connected by curtains and 500 meters of rounded road. On the death of François II in 1488, his daughter, Duchesse Anne of Brittany, was the  queen of France from 1491 to 1514, by her two successive marriages, with Charles VIII and Louis XII, and  resumed the work. It also reinforces the fortress, on the Loire side, by building the Horseshoe Tower (tour du Fer à Cheval), an impressive artillery bastion. In 1514, the castle returned to her daughter Claude, who was married to king François I. To house the royal family, he enriched himself with a new Renaissance-style building: le Logis du Roy, now known as the small government (petit gouvernement).  In 1532, the castle became Royal property on the occasion of the Union of Brittany to France.

Under the Dukes Claude de France, François III and Henri, François I of France was a beneficiary of the duchy. Under its impulse and during the 16C and 17C, the castle is chosen as Breton residence of the kings of France.  Thus, from 1582, in a context of wars of religion, the Duke of Mercœur, governor of Brittany, reinforces the defences of the castle. Anxious to protect the city from the Protestant attacks from Poitou, he built an artillery terrace and two defence works in the form of a spur, called bastions. In the 21C, these transformations were no longer visible until the North Bastion and the curtain of the Levant( la Courtine du Levant) Mercœur had its emblems affixed.

On April 30, 1598, king Henri IV stayed at the castle when he came to the city for the signature of the Edict of Nantes. The signature of the famous edict will not, however, be done at the castle, but according to a popular tradition, in the House of Turrets (Maison des Tourelles) , a building which was located at the quai de la Fosse and was destroyed during WWII, during a bombardment on the city.  Cardinal Richelieu proceed with the militarization of the terraces of the entrance towers. Since that time the stained glass and the walls of the chapel bear the Cardinal’s arms. The building begins its function as a prison for prestigious detainees. In 1654, the Cardinal Retz, leader of the Fronde, escapes from the castle where he was detained.

On September 5, 1661, when the court was gathered in the castle de Ducs des Bretagne king Louis XIV for the States of Brittany. The Superintendent Nicolas Fouquet (Vaux le Vicomte fame see post)  was arrested by D’Artagnan, who led a detachment of Grey musketeers. Nicolas Fouquet is led to the castle of Angers where he will be locked up for some time.

In 1911, while it is a property of the state, an agreement between the Ministry of War and the municipality allows to exchange the castle against the ensemble Convent of the Visitation- for the barracks Bedeau belonging to the city, and which already houses a regiment of artilleries. In 1924, there was a municipal museum dedicated to decorative arts, completed after the war, new rooms containing the collections of the Museum of regional Folk Art, then the Museum of Salorges were house there.

The principal architecture points , brief.

The main entrance, located at Place Marc-Elder, the vulnerable point of the fortress, has a harrow and two doors protected by rocking drawbridges (a large one for the passage of carts and riders, a smaller one for the passage of men on foot), Which were recently restored during the restoration of the castle. The two other historic fortified entrances, less well known, are the poterne de la Loire, on the south facade of the castle, built by Anne of Brittany between 1491 and 1494, and the pont de Secours on the north façade. These two entrances were also returned to service during the restoration work.

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The towers of the du Pied-de-Biche and the la Boulangerie . These twin Towers date from 1466, the Tower of the Jacobins: so named because it faced the convent of the same name, it is sometimes called the English tower, because it was used to imprison English soldiers during the 18C. The tower of the old dungeon( tour du Vieux Donjon). : the only visible vestige of the castle called the new tower (la Tour Neuve), and the tour du Port, la tour de la Rivière ,and tour du Fer à Cheval.

The Campanile: Located on the moat side, this campanile bristling, with an arrow and a lantern, overlooks the entrance to the courtine de la Loire : built between 1491 and 1494 by Anne of Brittany, this part of the ramparts protected the castle from the river side. It is pierced by an entrance originally closed by a harrow, which was used to discreetly exit the castle and allow some visitors to arrive by water. Crenellated, it is adorned with gargoyles and machicolations adorned with the F of François I.

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On the interior courtyard of the Castle you can see ,the Grand logisTour de la Couronne d’Or connects the Grand Logis to the Grand Gouvernement: This building body, formerly called the Ducal Palace, was rebuilt by order of king Louis XIV following a fire. It is now called the Grand Gouvernement , in remembrance of the governor of Brittany Charles de la Porte, duke of Meilleraye, who decides to settle there in the 17C. The destroyed part were in May 25 1800 due to a violent explosion, triggered by the collapse of a rotten floor on which were stored three tons of powder, and destroyed the tower of the Spaniards (tour des Espagnols) , the building of the king’s Lieutenant (Lieutenant du Roi) as well as the Chapel and the archive Room(salle des archives,), which were in the extension of the Grand Gouvernement.   The Petit Gouvernement was done in Renaissance style, it keeps its chimneys of brick and slate original. Built on the orders of François I, it serves as the Logis du Roi (his bedrooms) during its stays in Nantes. You have the Concierge here it was built in the early 18C to house the lieutenant of the King ( Lieutenant du Roi) and then the offices of the arsenal. It became the concierge of the château in 1924 during the transformation of the site into a museum. The harnessing(Harnachement) ;this building houses temporary exhibitions.

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The current museum brings together the collections of several previous museums such as the Museum of the Arts and Popular Traditions ,Museum of the Salorges ,Museum of the Loire-Lower archaeological Museum of Nantes, Museum of the Image , and the Museums of the castle of Joseph Stany-Gauthier to Daniel Samson. Currently,the Museum of History of Nantes ( Musée d’histoire de Nantes) occupies 32 rooms of the renovated castle with a portrait of the city in seven large sequences is presented to the public such as the Castle, Nantes and Brittany from antiquity until the 17C; Nantes, daughter of the river and the ocean; Trading and Black gold in the 18C; Nantes in Revolution; A Colonial and industrial port (1815-1940); The new form of a city (1940-1990); An Atlantic metropolis, today and tomorrow.

The creation of a complete circuit of the ramparts, the setting up of a first access by the moat and a second by a footbridge, the arrangement of a garden in the moat, the night lighting participate in the rebirth of the Castle. The 500 meters of round road on the fortified ramparts offer viewpoints on the castle, the courtyard, the moats, but also on the city: the LU Tower, the location of the Arms of the Loire river which bathed the castle before the attics of the 1930’s , St. Peter and St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Bouffay district. Night lighting values the site in its architectural complexity within the urban fabric. At the main entrance by the sleeping Bridge, a warm, orange light gushes from the inside at the level of the curtains. In the garden of the moat, the illumination of the counter-escarpment gives a darker light. On the southern façade, a moving light glides over the imposing wall..An event to be there at night. See first for hours.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here ,and you must ,are:

The official Château des Ducs de Bretagne and Museum webpage: https://www.chateaunantes.fr/en/

The Nantes tourist office on the castle/museum: https://www.nantes-tourisme.com/en/museum/nantes-urban-history-museum

The Loire Atlantique dept 44 tourist board on the castle/museum: https://tourisme-loireatlantique.com/chateau-ducs-de-bretagne/

The Pays de la Loire region tourist board on the castle/museum: https://www.enpaysdelaloire.com/visites/chateaux/chateau-des-ducs-de-bretagne-musee-d-histoire-de-nantes

There you go, you are all set for a wonderful stay in Nantes and the Castle Museum of Nantes  or Castle of the Dukes of Brittany!!!. Hope you enjoy the post and do visit as it is a must in Nantes me think.

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

June 30, 2021

The Seine, the river of Paris!!!

And of course, mentioned in many posts in my blog. However, really needs more like a post of its own. This is the mighty beautiful Seine river of Paris! So many stories, too long to have in one post even one blog!! but I would give you my humble contribution and tell you a bit more on the Seine, the river of Paris!!!

I had realized not written much or nothing on the Seine river!! This is the best most glamorous river of France, and not just because it passes by Paris. It goes a long way thru some wonderful towns big and small and full of history and things to see. In Paris is it just romantic, wonderful, great, gorgeous well you get it right! It has 37 bridges passing over it, and I have written a piece on the bridges of Paris (see post).

The Seine river has a length of 777 km, which flows in the Parisian basin and covers Troyes, Paris, Rouen and Le Havre. Its source is located 446 meters altitude from Source-Seine, in Côte-d’Or dept 21 region of Bourgogne Franche Comté , on the plateau of Langres. Its course has a general orientation from the southeast to the northwes , finally flowing into the channel between Le Havre and Honfleur. Its watershed, with an area of 79 000 km2, is of interest to nearly 30% of the country’s population. The Seine is divided into five parts, upstream in Aval: The petit Seine (little seine), from the source to Montereau-Fault-Yonne (confluence with the Yonne);  La Haute Seine (upper seine), from Montereau-Fault-Yonne to Paris; The crossing of Paris; The Basse Seine,(lower seine)   from Paris to Rouen; and The Seine maritime, (marine or ocean seine) from Rouen to La Manche.

The artificial lake of the Forêt d’Orient, up Stream of Troyes, and the lake of Der-Chantecoq upstream of Saint-Dizier were created in the years 1960 to 1970 to regulate the flow of the river. The sources of the Seine are the property of the city of Paris since 1864. An artificial cave was built the following year to house the main source and the statue of a nymph symbolising the river. It also houses the remains of a Gallo-Roman temple (now buried). Objects testifying of the cult to the sources of the river (Dea Sequana) are exposed to the Archaeological Museum of Dijon

Here is a list of the main tributaries (greater than 100 km, or basin greater than 1 000 km2 ) known to the nearest confluence direct from the Seine and located with their confluence by distance (km) with the western boundary of the Seine estuary  : These are the  Oise, Marne, Yonne, Eure, Aube, Loing, Risle, Essonne ,Epte,and Yerre. The regions and departments crossed are the following, going from the source to the mouth: In the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté: la Côte-d’Or;  In the France Est region: The Aube and the Marne;  In the Île-de-France region: Seine-et-Marne, Essonne, Val-de-Marne, Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-d’Oise and Yvelines;  In the Normandie region: Eure, Seine-Maritime and Calvados (along the extreme end of the mouth).

In Paris, the floods are measured since 1876 by a hydrometric scale installed at the Austerlitz Bridge( Pont d’Austerlitz) , nevertheless it is the statue of the Zouave of the Alma bridge (Pont de l’Alma) which remains the most popular. This indicator during the flood of January 1910, water reached on this scale the record height of 8.68 meters ( I guess an ecological disaster but we never heard anything much of it ::)) . Since 1870, the height is taken at the station Paris Austerlitz. Although there have been no large floods in the last sixty years, five large floods occurred in the 20C: in 1910, 1920, 1924, 1945 and 1955. The oldest known floods of the Seine were narrated by Julien (358AD) and Grégoire de Tours (February 582AD ). The last one in May to June 2016, the Seine experienced an important flood. The water level peaks at 6.10 meters on the night of June 3 to 4. It’s the biggest flood in Paris for over 30 years. However, it does not exceed the 6.18 meters of the 1982 flood.

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The Seine maritime as well as part of the lower Seine are subjected to the tidal regime, which goes up to the dam of Poses in the Eure (60 cm tidal wave). It was still possible to observe in the 1960’s an imposing wave that could reach 4 meters at the time of the great tides and called Mascaret, more locally a Barre. The phenomenon reached its maximum in Caudebec-en-Caux, about halfway between Le Havre and Rouen. For Mariners and river Navigation Services, the Seine is broken down into:  “Petite Seine” from Marcilly-sur-Seine to Montereau-Fault-Yonne; “Haute Seine” from Montereau-Fault-Yonne to Paris;  “Seine parisienne” inside Paris; “Basse Seine” from Paris to Rouen; and  “Seine maritime” from Rouen to the sea. The Seine is navigable on a large part of its course. The responsibility for navigation belongs to the waterways of France (VNF) until  Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, and in particular to the navigation Service on the Seine upstream of Amfreville-sous-les-Monts. On the other hand, it does not include the Parisian canals (Canal de Ourcq, Canal Saint-Denis and Canal Saint-Martin) which are managed by the city of Paris.

Between Rouen and Paris, the Seine was channeled in the 19C. Seven lock dams located in Poses-Amfreville-sous-les-Monts, Notre-Dame-de-la-Garenne (Eure), Méricourt, Andrésy, Bougival, Chatou (Yvelines) and Suresnes (Hauts-de-Seine) allow the navigation of self-propelled barges (350 tons of freight) Self-propelled Freicinet  template boats  of 38.5 meters, self-propelled river barges (from 800 to 1 350 tons of cargo), 48 to 70 meters, thrust barge convoys (3 000 to 10 000 tons  freight) and Sea-River coasters (4 000 tons of freight). These barges carry, among other things, containers, automobiles, petroleum products, cement, etc.

The port facilities located in Île-de-France belong to the autonomous port of Paris, the first French river port. The main port facilities for freight traffic are located in Limay (Yvelines) and Gennevilliers (Hauts-de-Seine). The Seine has inspired many painters, and in the19C and 20C , Honoré de Balzac described the Seine from every angle. Gustave Flaubert uses the Seine as a metaphor for the linear flow of time, the symbol of narrative progress. Many poets, French and Francophone, sang the Seine. All too numerous to mention but huge names of all times.

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Move into Paris proper, the Seine river cuts Paris in its midst even if the right bank(rive droite)  occupies a space more important than the left bank( rive gauche). In Paris, its length occupies nearly 13 km, with a depth varying between 3.40 and 5.70 meters. Its width varies from 30 to 200 meters. The normal holding of the reach of Paris, i.e. the altitude of the surface in relation to the sea level, is about 27 meters. In Paris, the Seine is crossed by 37 bridges, including four footbridges accessible only to pedestrians.

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The course of the Seine is dotted with many sights. Near Paris a springs from the Seine to Source-Seine; Châtillon-sur-Seine with the numerous tributaries of the Seine, its ancient streets and the Vauclusian source of the Douix; Troyes and its ancient city center with its Churches and Cathedral; Moret-sur-Loing, which is close to the confluence of the Loing with the Seine and the painters; Thomery and the Forest of FontainebleauParis, and the  the banks of the Seine. The levies of Suresnes (see post) just across from one of my earlier jobs in France are awesome and just across the Bois de Boulougne.

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Outside Paris we have Bougival and its Frog Park (parc de la Grenouillére)  on the island of Bougival (île de Bougival) , whose extension is the island of Chatou (île de Chatou) ; Chatou and its Maison Fournaise, rendezvous of the Impressionists and often painted by them; Conflans-Saint-Honorine and the Musée de la Batellerie (river boat building) (Yvelines); Poissy and its 12C Collegiate Church, where King St. Louis (Louis IX)  was born and baptized; Mantes-la-Jolie and its 12C Collegiate Church; La Roche-Guyon and its castle (Val-d’oise), where the comic writer Edgar P. Jacobs has located one of the adventures of Blake and Mortimer, The Diabolical Trap; Giverny and the House of Claude Monet (Eure); The Andelys and the Château-Gaillard; Rouen, the medieval town (Seine-Maritime);  Caudebec-en-Caux and the Church of Notre-Dame de Caudebec-en-Caux, masterpiece of flamboyant Gothic and Renaissance; The Tancarville Bridge; The Pont de NormandieHonfleur and its port; Le Havre rebuilt by the architect Auguste Perret after WWII.

The wonders of the Seine river even beyond Paris. It is good to take a cruise ride beyond the city into the dept 77 Seinte-et-Marne or to Rouen in Seine-Maritime dept 76.(see post).

Some webpages to enchance your knowledge of the Seine river and fully enjoy its beauty are:

The city of Paris on the Seine riverhttps://www.paris.fr/pages/la-seine-2406/

The voies navigables de France on the rides on the rivers of France in French: https://www.vnf.fr/vnf/accueil/tourisme-fluvial/vivre-et-bouger-au-bord-de-leau/le-tourisme-fluvestre/

The voies navigables de France on the Seinehttps://www.vnf.fr/vnf/regions/vnf-bassin-de-la-seine/

There you have it folks, the wonderful mighty Seine river of Paris, You could not come to Paris without walking its quays and the boat rides , they are a must; indeed a magical body of water on a magical city of the world, Paris and beyond!!!

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

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June 30, 2021

The ocean is Honfleur!!!

Well, if you have been reading my blog and thank you for it doing it since Nov 2010; then you know my sentimental attachment to Honfleur. A city gear to the ocean and fishing and with several posts in my blog, this one is an overall small rendition to the ocean sea traditions of Honfleur. Hope you enjoy it as I.

I have come to realize long ago that even if the beach is not the best, the ocean, water is all around Honfleur and an integral part of its attraction. There is nothing better than walking ,eating or playing knowing you have the ocean next to you. This Honfleur has plenty and we love it! As said, I have several posts on Honfleur here , covering several years, therefore no need to tell you about the history of the place, it has been mentioned plenty already. I like to give you a bit on the ocean side of my special HONFLEUR.

I will first tell you a bit from the city on the old basin or Vieux Bassin the ones we all go to as soon as arriving in Honfleur.  The paddock harbor , called Havre Neuf until the construction of the Central basin. It then becomes Western Basin or old basin (Vieux Basin in French). In the inside of the fortified enclosure was the port, consisting of a stranded haven of 120 meters in length and 50 meters in width, which communicated with the sea by a ship lock, wide of 15 to 20 meters and located roughly on the site of the levy of the Western Basin(Bassin de l’ouest). This harbor of stranding, at the bottom of which the standing water resulted by means of locks located at the site occupied today by the Petite Poissonnerie shop, was bordered, on the west side, by a narrow wharf and by houses; beyond these houses, the fortified enclosure was on the very site where we now see the wall of the Saint Catherine Wharf. (Quai Sainte Catherine).

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Two towers dominated and defended the entrance to the inner harbor. It is in this basin so small, which barely had a surface equal to half of the smallest of the current basins, that the Honfleur sailors were arming their ships, in quite a large number at a time, for Newfoundland ,Canada, for the East Indies and the coast of Guinea, finally for the race and for these warlike expeditions in which their pavilion was honored as  Colbert sent Duquesne to this port to examine what improvements he was likely to have. The demolition of the fortifications was decided, dominated by the neighboring hillsides of the city and outside to withstand the artillery of the time; the Bourbon bastion (or barre) and the largest part of the enclosure on the western side were razed; The houses to the west of the port ,the quai Sainte Catherine were expropriated and, in 1684 – 1690, wharf walls were built, a hunting lock established at the bottom of the basin, the jetty of the lieutenancy repaired. The work was completed in 1690.  The wall of the quai Saint Catherine  was redone in 1791 – 1794. The wall of the Quai Saint Etienne from 1811 to 1813, when the demolition of the old wall, dating back to the reign of Louis XIV, was deemed indispensable. This ancient wall, of which there remains vestiges beneath the embankments of the Quai Saint Etienne, was two or three meters behind the wall of the wharf by which it was replaced. It can shelter from 1668 vessels from 3 to 400 tons. In the 18C, the vieux bassin (old basin) was reserved for coasters and armaments for fishing. Samuel de Champlain, Jean Denis or even Binot Paulmier de Gonneville  embark from these docks for great expeditions to the New World.

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The old basin or vieux basin now hosts many pleasure craft. Honfleur is a port of call for boaters going up the Seine in the direction of Paris. The quays in the Seine are host to many cruise ships. The inland port allows to receive during the season of the river cruisers with Honfleur offering the possibility to receive 5 steamers simultaneously. Fishing: About fifteen trawlers practice artisanal fishing in Honfleur. The grey shrimp “the little Grey” is very popular here and is still caught by some boats. The St Jacques clam shells of the Seine Bay occupies part of the fleet from October to the end of May, depending on the harvest resources. You will, also find the Sole and various fish dishes according to the seasons that can be bought at the bottom of the trawler or fish market.  

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Honfleur tourist office on fishing trips and cruises in English: https://www.honfleur-tourism.co.uk/making-my-stay-count/practical-information/les-ports/

And to know the marine forecast meteoconsult for Honfleur which I follow too; webpage: https://marine.meteoconsult.fr/meteo-marine/bulletin-detaille/port-274/previsions-meteo-honfleur-aujourdhui

The Butin beach is already a Blue Pavilion (means is tops ) since 2009. The Butin beach is equipped with sanitary facilities, beach cabins, showers, a paddling pool, a playground and a snack bar. Since 2017, a minibus does the transfer between the car park and the city center, see the timetables at the bus station at rue des vases. The Pavillon Blue award webpage: https://www.pavillonbleu.org/laureats-communes-2018/14-honfleur.html

And my fav beach webpage Plages TV on the plage Butin of Honfleur: https://en.plages.tv/detail/butin-beach-honfleur-14600

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And one organization that is dear to me. Very much on the sea saving lives and helping those wishing a final rest at sea.  The SNSM =société nationale de sauvetage en mer or in EnglishNational Marine Rescue Society,their history there a bit I like.  It is necessary to go back to 1848 to find the first bases of a real sea rescue organization in Honfleur, i.e. at the time of the creation of the Chamber of Commerce. The sinking of an English brig, the “Endearvour”, in 1857, in front of the port of Honfleur, proving the urgency of a better organization and, by decree dated August 12, 1857, the Emperor Napoleon III created the rescue station which he entrusted the management to the Chamber of Commerce.  In 1865 the Central Rescue Society of Shipwrecks was created in 1884, the Count of Châteauvillard, bequested to the Central Rescue Society, so that Honfleur could be endowed with a lifeboat, the rowing boat ” Châteauvillard “commissioned in 1885. In 1907, Mrs. and Ms. Augustin-Normand, ship builders in Le Havre but whose family was of Honfleur origin, offered a lifeboat to Honfleur. It was named “Jacques Augustin-Normand”. Baptized at Le Havre in 1908. By 1926, the inauguration of the new station, the shelter, and the new lifeboat “Alphonsine-Émilie”.

After  WWII, the Honfleur flotilla, largely destroyed by the nazis, had gradually been replaced and a new lifeboat was awarded to Honfleur by the Central Rescue Company, the “Fernand de Wegmann”.  The lifeboat “Fernand de Wegmann” was first modernised in 1973 in Cherbourg and then in 1984 in Honfleur. In 1986, the station was provisionally equipped with a second-class star, the “Robert-Edmond de Bassac”. In March 1988, the “Patrons Dubarre et Corvic” modernized in Saint Malo, joins the station of Honfleur.    In 1990, with the help of generous donors, the National Marine Rescue Society puts into service in Honfleur, a Zodiac MK III GR Inflatable boat, equipped with a 40 hp engine. Since 1994, the station has a first class vedette “Notre Dame du Port” (our sentimental boat and we are donors here) In April 2013, the vedette boat is equipped with two new more modern engines. A new Zodiac comes in 2013 to reinforce the means of the station at Honfleur.

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The Honfleur SNSM webpage: https://station-honfleur.snsm.org/

And the same SNSM webpage with a map locator of all their stations in France: https://www.snsm.org/retrouvez-les-sauveteurs-en-mer-pres-de-chez-vous?display=map

A wonderful sea town which we love very much. Always friendly people , good family fun, beautiful architecture and rich history as well as great artists of always; makes Honfleur the second most visited place in all Normandie!!

The city of Honfleur on things to see/do: https://www.ville-honfleur.com/decouvrir-honfleur/

The Honfleur tourist office in English: https://www.honfleur-tourism.co.uk/

And there you go folks, another dandy beautiful place in my belle France. Honfleur is a must visit especially if heading to Normandy. Hope you enjoy it as much as me writing the post, always special Honfleur.

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

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June 30, 2021

Domaine de Kerguéhennec of Bignan, the gardens!

This is a very nice property off the beaten path in my beautiful Morbihan dept 56 breton of my lovely Bretagne in my belle France! The first time, I saw an antique auto show event and decided to take a look and found out this is a beautiful palace out in the woods! As the property is huge, I have split the story into the palace side and the gardens side. The older post combine the two but I am updating it too. Hope you enjoy the Domaine de Kerguéhennec of Bignan, the gardens!

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The Château de Kerguéhennec, (Domaine for the whole , the Castle is in the middle of the property) nicknamed the Versailles Breton, is an 18C castle located in Bignan. It is about 20 km north of Vannes, in the direction of Pontivy, the castle of Kerguéhennec was built in 1710 for two wealthy Swiss financiers from St. Gallen but settled in Paris, the Hogguer brothers, shareholders of the company of the India.  You take the voie express or fast road N165 to exit with the D767 direction Pontivy. Then it becomes direction Locminé, then St Jean Beveley, and Bignan 56500; you have well posted signs all the way so by car is very easy to find. Plenty of free parking when you get to the Domaine.

The estate (Domaine) will then pass by inheritance to Marie Louise Marguerite Lanjuinais, daughter of Paul Henri Lanjuinais and wife of Arthur Espivent de La Villeboisnet. Finally, the eldest daughter of the latter, Elisabeth Anne Marie Espivent de la Villesboisnet, became Countess Pierre Humières in 1933, who will inherit it herself by way of In division in 1943. It is she who on January 19, 1972 will sell the Domaine de Kerguéhennec to the Department of Morbihan.

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It was only at the end of the 19C that the park, covering an area of 45 hectares, of woods, ponds and meadows, was considerably remodeled by Denis Bühler. To the north, the ample and sinuous lines will then succeed the rectilinear alleys of the French gardens. An arboretum made up of species from different continents is then set up. To the south, a bridle path has been dug in the axis of the castle to accentuate the perspective. The agricultural property, with an area of 175 hectares, is now operated by the Morbihan Chamber of Agriculture.

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 The Domaine de Kerguéhennec park is a place of reference for the presentation of contemporary sculpture. Created in 1986, the sculpture park now brings together more than thirty works by major artists. To explore these scuptures, visitors are invited to take the two routes set up to the south and north of the castle.

My favorites on the south (sud) trail are :  Richard Artschwager (1923-2013 – United States) Step to entropy. Vincent Barré1948 – France Couronne. Nicolas Fedorenko (1949 – France) Spiritual landscape. Richard Long (1945 – England) A circle in Brittany. Maria Nordman (1943 – Germany) Fragment for a future city. Carel Visser (1928 – 2015 Netherlands) L’Oiseau Phénix. And   Julien Perrier (1970 – France) Paul-Henri’s rebus

 My favorites on the north (nord) trail are :  Élisabeth Ballet (1956 – France) Trait by trait. François Feutrie (1983 – France) Neo-Renaissance cinema. Hreinn Friðfinnsson (1943 – Iceland) Second House (Secondary residence). Étienne Hajdu (1907-Romania – 1996-France) Seven columns to Stéphane Mallarmé . Giuseppe Penone (1947 – Italy) Charming Trail .Jean-Pierre Raynaud (1939 – France) 1000 painted concrete pots for an old greenhouse . Edouard Sautai La Pierée ,and Marc Didou Portal for an unknown.

You have in the middle of the park and the old stables a nice display of arts and a pretty cafeteria; nice to sit around this wonderful property indeed. See the old laundry or lavoir right around the lake beautiful scenery peace and quiet!

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The Official Domaine de Kerguéhennec webpage: http://www.kerguehennec.fr/le-domaine

The Bretagne/Brittany tourist board on the Domaine de Kerguéhennechttp://www.brittanytourism.com/discover-our-destinations/destination-broceliande/unmissable-sites/the-kerguehennec-estate

The Central Morbihan tourist office on the Domaine de Kerguéhennechttps://www.centre-morbihan-tourisme.bzh/bouger/en-famille/13-le-domaine-de-kerguehennec-a-bignan.html

Another nice outing in my neck of the woods all wonderful, beautiful Domaine de Kerguéhennec in little Bignan. Hope you enjoy the off the beaten path find in my area. If around and the car show is on, will be perfect way to come in , otherwise for the architecture and history of it is enough for me.

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

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June 29, 2021

Domaine de Kerguéhennec at Bignan. The palace part 2!!!

Well I was thinking this was it but have more pictures and a pity not to show them. The Domaine de Kerguéhennec is a nice beautiful property and worth the detour me think. Remember, this is in Bignan, Morbihan (56), Bretagne and France! I have two other posts to start and plenty of webpages and info there. This post will be on the extra pictures of the palace. Hope you enjoy it as I.

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Again, I have written on the town of Bignan and its Domaine de Kerguéhennec already in my blog, see recent updated posts. . However, it is less than half an hour from me and we go often, even to just to walk our dog Rex. It really gets him exercise and us too.

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This morning we were doing some of the chores of our house and decided to have a late lunch/brunch and take Rex to the Domaine de Kerguéhennec to walk him there. The trip was short and the time spent there too but the outing was well and Rex really enjoyed it.

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The place is managed by the department Morbihan no 56 in Brittany/Bretagne and it a place for arts, and exhibitions now . Fortunately for us its a huge domaine and dogs are allowed in with  a leash.  Parking is free too so great for families with domestic animals !!!

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Not to repeat but for reference on those first reading this post, the official webpage for the Domaine de Kerguéhennechttps://www.kerguehennec.fr/

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As have many posts on it will run this one as a pictorial of additional photos taken in the morning mist. Enjoy it as much as us, Rex says that too!

The Domaine de Kerguéhennec , the place is great for picnic with families , and dog walking in the park as well as many enjoyable events. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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June 29, 2021

Domaine de Kerguéhennec of Bignan, the palace!

This is a very nice property off the beaten path in my beautiful Morbihan dept 56 breton of my lovely Bretagne in my belle France! The first time, I saw an antique auto show event and decided to take a look and found out this is a beautiful palace out in the woods! As the property is huge, I have split the story into the palace side and the gardens side. The older post combine the two but I am updating it too. Hope you enjoy the Domaine de Kerguéhennec of Bignan, the palace!

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I saw the 17th edition of Saint Christophe old Vehicles show at the Domaine de Kerguéhennec in Bignan and off we went. See post on the car event. On the Domaine de Kerguéhennec ,which is gorgeous and worthy of the title the Versailles of Brittany (smaller of course). It is now a center for contemporary arts spread all over the property as well and a great area for picnics and just family outings.  You take the voie express or fast road N165 to exit with the D767 direction Pontivy. Then it becomes direction Locminé, then St Jean Beveley, and Bignan 56500; you have well posted signs all the way so by car is very easy to find. Plenty of free parking when you get to the Domaine.

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The Château de Kerguéhennec, (Domaine for the whole , the Castle is in the middle of the property) nicknamed the Versailles Breton, is an 18C castle located in Bignan. It is about 20 km north of Vannes, in the direction of Pontivy, the castle of Kerguéhennec was built in 1710 for two wealthy Swiss financiers from St. Gallen but settled in Paris, the Hogguer brothers, shareholders of the company of the India.

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Thereafter, it goes thru a period of inheritance of different families such as in 1732, acquired as a land of agricultural and forestry by Guy-Auguste de Rohan , Count of Chabot, famous for having ordered taken prisoner Voltaire, who did not reside there. His son, Louis-Antoine de Rohan-Chabot , duke of Rohan, was to be separated shortly after the French revolution. The estate was acquired in 1802 by the Count Louis Henri de Janzé , then, sold by his grand-son Count Louis Albert Henri de Janzé in 1872, then by Paul-Henri de Lanjuinais, the 3rd Earl of Lanjuinais, deputy and President of the General Council of Morbihan, his cousin, who then lavishly restored it.   

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The estate will then pass by inheritance to Marie Louise Marguerite Lanjuinais, daughter of Paul Henri Lanjuinais and wife of Arthur Espivent de La Villeboisnet. Finally, the eldest daughter of the latter, Elisabeth Anne Marie Espivent de la Villesboisnet, became Countess Pierre Humières in 1933, who will inherit it herself by way of In division in 1943. It is she who on January 19, 1972 will sell the Domaine de Kerguéhennec to the Department of Morbihan.

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In 1986, an open-air sculpture garden was built in the park. In 1988, a contemporary art center was installed in the castle’s dependencies. The estate also houses a cultural meeting center that hosts musicians and composers in residence. Always something going on there.

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In 2010, the Department of Morbihan decided to create, within the Domaine de Kerguéhennec, a departmental property, a research and creation center dedicated to the work and life of Pierre Tal Coat. Since that date, the Department has been building up, by way of donation and acquisition, a now rich collection of some 1,200 works including over 400 engravings and 500 drawings. Exhibitions are regularly presented there, artists and researchers welcome in residence, meetings promote exchanges between artists, art historians, writers … A publishing policy completes this system.  Pierre Tal Coat (1905-1985) is one of the most important artists of the 20C and one of the few to have been exhibited at the Grand Palais of Paris during his lifetime, in 1976. Friend of Giacometti, Nicolas de Staël and Gertrude Stein, he is considered one of the greatest landscape painters. He is the painter of the elements (earth, water, air) that he reproduces in his paintings, watercolors and drawings, of which the Department of Morbihan has one of the most remarkable sets. Webpage: https://webmuseo.com/ws/tal-coat/app/collection/expo/1

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The official Domaine de Kerguéhennec webpage: https://www.kerguehennec.fr/le-domaine

The Bretagne/Brittany tourist board on the Domaine de Kerguéhennechttps://www.brittanytourism.com/destinations/the-10-destinations/heart-of-brittany-kalon-breizh/the-kerguehennec-estate/

The Central Morbihan area tourist board on the Domaine de Kerguéhennechttps://www.centre-morbihan-tourisme.bzh/bouger/sorties-en-famille/13-le-domaine-de-kerguehennec-a-bignan.html

Another nice outing in my neck of the woods all wonderful, beautiful Domaine de Kerguéhennec in little Bignan. Hope you enjoy the off the beaten path find in my area. If around and the car show is on, will be perfect way to come in , otherwise for the architecture and history of it is enough for me.

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

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June 29, 2021

Church Santiago del Arrabal of Toledo!

Going back to historical beautiful Toledo in my blog to update this peculiar monument. Actually, we were walking first time there with the family and caught my attention to see it. Then, we saw it again each time in the city. Let me tell you a bit more on the Church of Santiago del Arrabal of Toledo!

This one was found by chance. We were walking, and walking all over this wonderful city of Toledo. I wanted to show my family the ramparts and gates of Toledo and going to one we stumbled upon this Church; it has been a long time by here so practically it was to know it as well as my family.  The Church of Santiago del Arrabal , Santiago el Mayor or St James of the suburbs as the old word Arrabal means. Because it was located on the outside of the old inner city of Toledo.

I had it mentioned briefly in other posts on Toledo but it really deserve a post of its own.  The Church of Santiago El Mayor or Santiago del Arrabal is a Catholic Church in Toledo, next to the Puerta Nueva de Bisagra or gate , in the northern part of the historic city center. Built in the second half of the 13C ( 1245–48) under the patronage of Sancho II, King of Portugal is one of the best examples of Mudejar Toledo architecture.

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It has masonry and brick walls with doors framed in polylobular horseshoe arches. It has three semicircular apses whose exteriors are arched floors of different types (half-point, pointed and polylobular). Inside there are Arabic symbols like the ‘ Hand of Fatima ‘ or inscriptions on the wooden roof. The arches of the nerf are Gothic, like the vault of the transept. The altarpiece is Renaissance with Plateresque decoration, with images of the lives of Christ and the Apostle James the Elder (Santiago el Mayor). The bell tower is the oldest in the region dating from the 12C , square floor and double arc windows in horseshoe covered with  a moulding which encloses the outward side of an arch.

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Its location, close to the Puerta Vieja de Bisagra and in an old Muslim quarter, suggests that the Church must have been built in the place of an original temple, perhaps a mosque of its location also comes from the name, finding itself in the past to then outskirts of the old city, in the suburbs .

Saint Vincent Ferrer preached in this temple, leading his faithful to forcibly Christianize the synagogue in 1405, later turned into a Church with the name of Santa Maria la Blanca. He later came to preach in Vannes and my new area and he is buried in the Cathedral of St Peter in Vannes.

The Parish of the Church Santiago del Arrabal webpage: https://santiagoelmayor.org/santiago/

The Castilla La Mancha tourist office on the church: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/iglesia-de-santiago-del-arrabal-7364/

The Toledo tourist office on things to see other: https://turismo.toledo.es/que-visitar-en-toledo/

there you go folks, another dandy in my dear Spain. Beautiful historical and architectural glory of Toledo. Hope it helps enjoy this less seem gem of Toledo , worth a detour indeed for all the treasures of this icon of all of Spain.

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

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June 29, 2021

The Gran Via of Madrid!!!

One of if not the one emblematic street of my dear Madrid! This one goes back to the 30’s really but it could have been name differently. Let me update this memorable post and hope you enjoy as I telling you. The Gran Via of Madrid!!!

Ok so this is not new, but always heavens for me. Got to tell more of the history of this great artery of my beloved Madrid. So much so, that is World famous as one of the great avenues of the World.  I am talking about the Gran Via of Madrid.  The street is so popular and so much written on it, that I have overlook writing about it. It is so essential of Madrid, well you could not come to the city without walking it at least. The Gran  Via is part of the history of Madrid,and all is represented there. 

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How to get to Gran Vía, well its easy all know it you can’t missed it. However, by metro takes you there Plaza de España on lines 3 and 10, Santo Domingo onn lilne 2, Callao on lines  2, 3,and 5, and of course Gran Vía on lines 1 and 5. Buses of Madrid last confirmed were lines 1, 2, 3, 44, 46, 74, 75, 133, 147, 148, 202 and  M2.Also, nearby Plaza de España, you can get there on Metro as above plus Noviciado on line 2. Buses as above and addition to lines  25, 39, 138,  C1 and C2. OF course, with the pandemic check the lines for schedules.

Let me give give some history on it, that I like.

The Gran Vía is entirely located in the Centro or city center district, it extends over the districts of Justicia, Parlamento, Sol, Universidad and Palacio, for a total length of 1 300 meters (4290 feet).  It comprises three sections, the first of which extends from Calle de Alcalá to Plaza San Luis, the second to the Plaza Callao and finally the third to the Plaza de Espana.

As the project progressed, the three sections each bore a different name: Calle del  Conde de Peñalver for the first, Avenidad Pi y Margall for the second and  Calle Eduardo Dato for the third.  In April 1936, the first two sections took the name of Avenida  de la CNT before being redesignated as the Avenue of Russia at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War by the leftist Republicans. A new change was made in November 1937 in favor of Avenue of the Soviet Union. That same year, the last stretch took the name of Avenue of Mexico. On 24 April 1939, after the victory of Gen.  Franco, the ensemble was baptized Avenue José Antonio (as I came to know it first).  Finally, in 1981, the Socialist mayor Enrique Tierno Galván gave it the official name of Gran Vía for the first time, and as of today.

Offering a wide range of styles ranging from the Viennese secession to the New York Art Deco, through the Plateresque, Neo-Mudejar and Haussmann architectures, Gran Vía is considered a showcase of the arts built from the twilight of the beautiful era at the dawn of the years 50’s. The construction of it took quite some time and many streets and building razed to make room for it. However, to note ,there were three attempts to do this road and finally at the third it was the charmer.

First,in 1862, after the refurbishment of the Puerta del Sol made five years before and the subsequent extension of the Calle Preciados to the area of the current Plaza de Callao, the Advisory board  drew up a first project consisting of the Extension of the aforementioned street to the Plaza de San Marcial, where the Plaza de España is currently located. Second in 1886 a project of prolongation of the Calle Preciados was approved, describing a large east-west transverse Avenue between Calle de Alcalá  and The Plaza de San Marcial,  offered three alternatives to join Calle de Alcalá, from the Church of San José, with the current Plaza de España. This project presented an avenue of 25 or 30 meters wide with roundabouts at the crossroads with the most important streets. This project was the origin of La Gran Via zarzuela (Spanish Operetta), with music by Federico Chueca and  scenes by Felipe Pérez y González. The work, premiered on July 2 of that same year and which garnered a great success.

In 1897 the municipal architects  were in charge of making a new project and in 1899 presented their project of reform of extension of the Calle  Preciados and link of the plaza de Callao with the Calle de Alcalá in it was proposed the realization of the work dividing it in  three sections as such;  Avenue A (534 meters), from the Plaza de San Marcial (current Calle de los Reyes) to Callao; The Boulevard (409 meters), from Callao to the Red de San Luis and Avenida B (417 meters), from the Red de San Luis to Calle de Alcalá. The total length would be 1,316 meters and the width of 25 meters, except the boulevard that would be 35 meters. It would  achieved, according to the project, the direct communication between the districts of Argüelles and Salamanca; The decongestion of the Puerta del Sol, the disappearance of a whole cluster of narrow and unhygienic streets and a more comfortable link between the stations of Atocha and Príncipe Pio. This one was approved on August 21, 1904, the works began finally on April 4, 1910. The first section, between the Calle de Alcalá and the one of Calle Montera was carried out between 1910 and 1915. On March 28, 1917 it was officially reported that the works were finished, although the definitive delivery occurred on July 18, 1924. The second section, the boulevard, between the Red de San Luis and Callao, took place in the following four years, between 1917 and 1922, although the definitive delivery of works was on August 20, 1927. The third section, was planned to continue in the direction of the Calle de  Jacometrezo, towards the Cuesta de San Vicente, in an almost straight extension with the second stretch, but was changed to splice with the Calle de la Princesa, which proved to be a success, so it was built and between Plaza de Callao and the Plaza de Espana; It was started on February 16, 1925 and was completed in 1929 although the delivery of works was on September 22, 1932 and some buildings would not be completed until after the Spanish Civil War.

Some of my favorites emblematic buildings on the Gran Via are:

Edificio Metropolis (1911), (see post) Strictly speaking it does not belong to this street, since it is the number 39 of the Calle de Alcalá, but, coming up from the Plaza de  Cibeles, it serves of undoubted letter of presentation of the Gran Via.

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Gran Via 1 (1916-1917) An eclectic-style building with reliefs and modernist-style tiles. Throughout its history it has been occupied by the Café Molinero, the Sicilian-Molinero restaurant, The Case de Piano , the Aeolian or the Grassy jeweler since 1952, which has a clock museum.

The Hotel de Letras, named for its construction, in 1917, “lodgings for the Count of Artaza”, is occupied by a hotel since 2005.

The Casa Matesanz, located at n ° 27, at the corner with the Calle de Tres Cruces, inspired by the architecture of Chicago to make this commercial building.

The Telefónica building, No. 28 (1929-1953 the highest skyscraper in Spain. It is also one of the first in Europe.

La Casa del Libro, no 29, had a construction firm now encloses about 30 small stores .

Gran via 8 (1915) The first house that was finished building on the new avenue. Here was the famous patisserie-cafeteria of Aquiles Caserta. The Loewe store is located in its street level since 1939.

The façade of the Oratory of the Knight of Grace (1916), (Oratorio del Caballero de la Gracia) no 17. From the Gran via you can only see the apse of this Church. It was designed a new façade aligned with the rest of the buildings. In the 1970’s was given the view of the apse practicing a great arch in the facade of Luque.

Madrid-Paris Building (1922-1924), at no 32. It was the tallest building up to 1929, in which it was surpassed by that of Telefónica. In 1934 after the purchase of the building by the dept store chain Sepu (now gone) suffers a great transformation. This building also houses the PRISA group headquarters, where some of the country’s main radio stations are concentrated, such as the main 40, M80 radio, or the Cadena SER.

The Palacio de la Musica built  for the general public company of spectacles, has been unoccupied since 2008. In 2020, Madrid City Council gave the go ahead for the Montemadrid Foundation to begin the process of restoring the property, respecting all of its original elements, as it s fully protected. After the refurbishment, the building will re-open its doors as a theatre space for diverse shows and it will have a multi-purpose hall on the top floor that may include catering associated with the theatre.  

The Palacio de la Prensa, No. 46 built from 1924 to 1928, takes its name from the fact that it was ordered by the Madrid Press Association. It housed the headquarters of various newspapers and, until 2015, that of the Socialist Party of Madrid. Now is the movie theater, Sala 0.  

The Carrión building (also known as the Capitol Building) cultivates an air of resemblance with the Flatiron building in New York. Built between 1931 and 1933, it bears the name of its sponsor, Enrique Carrión y Vecín, marquis de Melín. He is best known for his immense luminous sign in the colors of Schweppes.

Lope de Vega building (1945-1949), no. 53, 55, 57, and 59, it hosted the a big underground shopping center. The Hotel Lope de Vega  and a theater opened in 1949  with the play Tonadilla by Concha Piquer, and change to cinema in 1954.renovated in  2003, it change name to be call now Emperador, and the shopping center was reduce in space.

Cinema Rialto of Madrid (1930),no 54.  The cinema opened in  1930 with musical variaties of Paramount. Between 1932 and 1934 it was called Astoria. By 1957 it hosted the last dance of cuplé. Today it is call the Teatro Rialto and it shows musicals such as Los 40, O Cabaret, etc.

Coliseum building (1931-1932), no 78. The building has an American style architecture and was ordered built by the music composer Jacinto Guerrero. The cinema opened here in 1932 with the movie Champ. Now is the Teatro Coliseum.

Already reaching the Plaza de España, you can see the buildings of España and  Torre de Madrid, both at more tan 100 meters high. Torre de Madrid built in 1957, was during many years the tallest building in the city until the Torre Picasso.

And some description of some of the stores, restaurants and hotels that I have enjoyed over the years on the Gran Via !

The new H&M, at no 37 ,lets you see the tinsel of the old Cinema Avenue and the legendary Pasapoga party room, where they passed from Nazi spies to stars such as Ava Gardner or Gary Cooper; at no 34 Zara, One of the official stores of Real Madrid, at no 31; Or PRIMARK, the new dept store whose shocking space in number 32 has caused furor. At no  27, where the amazing fabric store Julian Lopez survives.  And more , Benetton’s shop, 41, Lacoste, 51, Carmina, 58.  at no  2 Ramón Freixa has installed its new restaurant there: Atico. At no  7. Jeweller Sanz, another of the representatives of luxury in Gran via. It’s been going on since it was opened in 1946.at no  9,  the Catalonia Gran Vía Hotel, formerly known as Catalonia Gaudí, stands in a building from the beginning of the 20C; at no 10 Mercado de la Reina, Which is not a market but an inspired restaurant, yes, with the fresh market products of the day and in the traditional stalls

No 12.the mythical Chicote Museum, which is also not a museum but a joint of all life. A classic cocktail between the classics, on the spot for 84 years and now has been transformed into a music club. Sunday Brunch and Dj sessions with people like Bimba Bose or Sofia Cristo   no 13. Cultural Center of the armies, or military Casino or army and Navy center.

N º 24. For years it has hosted the circle of the Mercantile and Industrial Union of Madrid. But now it’s the Gran Via Casino. No. 26 Papizza: Unlike other local pizza at the cut, this has seats and seating space. The best, your happy hour: everything to 1 euro from 17 to 7pm. And next, the Swiss Union, there since 1840. No. 25. Gran Vía Hotel, mythical from 1920 and now member of the TRYP group. In the basses is Bershka, known for being the squat of the legendary Madrid Rock.

Number 27. House Matesanz Era the year 1923. It houses the headquarters of Madrid Diario and the School of Decoration. Underneath is Julián Lopez’s knitting store. And a plaque recalls its past: in the 16C it was one of the few buildings designed by the architect Juan de Herrera in the capital, and in it lived the sculptor of Felipe II Giacomo da Trezzo, or, as it was known for posterity , Jacometrezo. And cornering, Cortefiel’s shop.

No. 30. Sfera, the first fashion shop on this sidewalk Pans and Company, also with terrace on the street-difficult to understand the attractiveness of terraces like these right next to a car-filled avenue. No. 31 in the lower floor are the Real Madrid Store, the Clarks shoe store and a Pull & Bear.

No. 39. Allianz Building, 1926. A mysterious animal presides over its facade: it is a winged lion of San Marcos that holds a book whose inscription reads: “Pax Tibi Marce, evangelist meus ” (“Peace be with you, Marcus, my Evangelist”). The street level are occupied by a Swarovski store and a Ulanka footwear. No. 38. Jules, boys ‘ clothes. The Atlantic Hotel and the Nike store. No. 40. Springfield Woman, and Burger King.

Cine Callao (another of the few historic ones that resist), a Desigual and FNAC store. Although it seems that the French teaches has always been there… what goes; In fact it was the company that replaced the Almacenes Galerías Preciados in 1993, after being absorbed by the El Corte Inglés in the 1990’s. N º 41. The Carrión building, on which the Benetton shop is located. In this same issue, also the Vincci Hotel and the Capitol cinema, n º 43. The first Vips-Gino and the Iris shoe store n º 45. Another disappeared, the cinema Rex. The one who does hold still is the Hotel Rex, right on top.

No. 53. Hotel Emperador. Not everyone knows the secret he hides on his rooftop: a roof garden, or Beach club. That is to say an outdoor swimming pool on the attic floor. Share number with a newest Tommy Mel-remember both the Peach Pit of feeling to live-and a Bingo. No. 56. More shops, Carmina shoes, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks.

No. 63. A 100 Montaditos with Super Terrace, which goes from Ole Madrid to Salvador Bachelor. Hotel Vincci at Gran via 66 at ,p. 70. Hotel Playa Senator. The best, your spa. Next door, the theatre room La Chocita del Loro, known for its performances of monologues. No. 69. Another Burger King, this one is big N º 72. Grilled meats at María Parrilla’s restaurant. And the Tryp Madrid Centro Hotel, next to the Museo del Jamon (Ham Museum reto) , the only one on this street.

Some webpages to help you know and enjoy more of the Gran Via are:

The shopping in Gran Via webpage in English: http://Some webpages to help you know and enjoy more of the Gran Via are

The Madrid tourist office on the Gran Via: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/la-gran-via

Memories and history of the 100 + years of the Gran Via webpage in Spanish: http://granvia.memoriademadrid.es/

There you go folks, a dandy in nice Madrid!! You can’t missed been here, the Gran Via is Madrid as any other world’s great avenues. Hope you enjoy the wonderful Gran Via of Madrid.

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

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June 28, 2021

Saint Augustin Church of Paris!!

Now this is great to be able toupdate this post for you and me! I have here very often and had lunch just across from it on several occasions and even a dinner! The area is nice and very close to the Gare Saint Lazare train station which I took to come to work in Paris. I like to tell you again a bit on the  Saint Augustin Church of Paris!! Hope you enjoy the post as I, and thanks for reading me since Nov 2010!

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I have been around seen some, most I like. Paris is an outdoor living museum! Beauty to the beholder and do walk, do stay above ground. I like to tell you about an unique church.  The Saint Augustin Church sits in an area of my first coming to Paris when came to live in France. From my beloved Versailles rive droite train station I came to Paris to work for about 9 years! The area is dear to me for this reason, and memories to last a lifetime!

The Church of Saint Augustin was built between 1860 and 1871, in the neighborhood of Petit Pologne (little Poland),at place Saint-Augustin in the 8éme district of Paris. Official address of 46, Boulevard Malesherbes . It was the first church in Paris to use a metal structure covered with a stone siding the work of Victor Baltard , also architect of the old Halles of Paris. This building is a composition of several architectural styles, such as Romanesque, Gothic, Byzantine and Renaissance. It has 94 meters long and 60 meters high on the Dome.  On the façade, the symbols of the four evangelists above the arcades and, under the Rosette, the Twelve Apostles.

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The design of the building, in trapeze, is original; It is the result of the difficulty in exploiting the triangular parcel along  Bd Malesherbes and avenue César Cairo. Behind a monumental gate, the nave and oblique aisles flare up to join the choir, of square plan, topped by a dome with up to date lantern. The nave is lined with arcades in full hanger, surmounted by a triforium. Leaves a vast nave without a aisle which gradually widens to the octagonal transept flanked by two side chapels . It is indeed the first religious building of such magnitude using cast iron, these new building materials then in vogue in the second half of the 19C. Inside, the cast that supports the vault and the dome is at the same time decorative element with its polychrome angels. The windows of the nave align bishops and martyrs of the 1C. The central part of the transept houses a sanctuary surrounded by a balustrade full of stone and marble; in the middle rises a rich ciborium of cast iron and the master altar adorned with bronze grates, marble columns and mosaics of Lyon. A bronze statue of 16 figures painted under the dome adorning the façade, the symbols of the four evangelists above the arcades and, under the Rosette, the Twelve Apostles.  There is a Rosary of 8 meters in diameter and 20 meters high.

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The great organs of this magnificent Saint Augustin Church are the work of the factor Charles Spackman Barker, famous in the world of the organ for his invention of the “machine Barker” which revolutionized the mode of transmission. They were built in 1867-1868 and inaugurated in 1868. This organ was also one of the first to integrate electricity. The instrument was restored by Cavaillon-Coll (1899), Beuchet-Debiere (1961) and Dargassies (1987).

This was the first time that a church of this size was built with a metal frame covered with stones. Baltard did not seek to conceal the metal: the frame is seen at the level of the vault and the columns. Gilded cast iron pillars adorned with polychrome angels support the entire building. The circular chorus hosts a large cast iron ciborium and opens onto three dominated chapels, each with an open grandstand.  Saint Augustin Church is arranged in Romano-Byzantine style, sometimes eclectic: Romanesque for the nave with its arches in full hanger, Byzantine for the choir with its dome, but also antique for the ciborium and Renaissance vaguely elsewhere.

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The emperor  Napoléon III himself had chosen the Church of St. Augustin to house his burial and it was in this building so representative of the Second Empire by its metallic architecture and by the eclecticism of its style that the supporters of the repatriation of the remains of Napoleon III in France would like to see the ruler buried.  Napoleon III decided that the crypt of the church would house his burial and those of the princes of the Imperial family, that of the emperors and empresses to remain in the Basilica of St. Denis. (see post) Finally, the emperor died in exile in England and was buried with his wife and son at the Abbey of Saint-Michel (Farnborough).

A bit on the construction I like

Napoleon III’s willingness to create major traffic routes in the capital, bordered by modern buildings, reshaped the population profile. The need to endow it with a church worthy of the standing of its inhabitants was pressed. The space was not wide: there was just a trapezoid delimited by bd Malesherbes and Ave Caesar Cairo. Moreover, if you look at a map of Paris, you will see a change of angle in the Boulevard Malesherbes at this place. To build a large church, thought Baron Haussmann, would conceal this obliquity from the perspective.

This task was entrusted to Victor Baltard  He had managed to settle, to the satisfaction of the Prince-President, the problem of the Halles in 1852. The construction  began in 1860. He was followed closely by the emperor. Resuming the innovation of the Saint-Eugène Church, Baltard proposed a metal frame covered with stone walls and a brick vault. This method of construction was, he argued, economical and solid. There was no need for buttresses or arch-tips. Using the metal to build, it was modern.  And it was also what the Parisian Catholics wanted at the time: to combine modernity with spiritual needs without losing sight of the usual stylistic formulas. Victor Baltard chose neo-Romanesque porches, Byzantine dome, arched arcades in the nave, ciborium to the antique, while emphasizing the new artistic techniques.

The Church of St. Augustin was inaugurated  in 1868 and did not unleashed enthusiasm. Very quickly, the architect was blamed for the too important part given to the technique. Others regretted that the route of the streets was to his  architecture and not the other way around, depriving the building of a harmony. Finally, during the War of 1870, the mockers did not hesitate to assimilate the lantern to a Prussian helmet and mock the Calvinist religion of the architect, which disqualified him, it was said, to build Catholic churches.

Outside you have the statue of Jules Simon behind the Church and that of Jeanne d’Arc in front of the Church.

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and it is a good one to visit,are:

The parish of St Augustin Churchhttps://www.saintaugustin.net/

The Catholic diocese of Paris on St Augustin Churchhttps://www.paris.catholique.fr/-saint-augustin-.html

The Paris tourist office on St Augustin Churchhttps://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71904/Paroisse-Saint-Augustin

There you go folks, another dandy in beautiful Paris. It is a wonderful church in a nice area close to the Madeleine and the gare Saint Lazare and the Big department stores ,all that glitter in Paris!! Enjoy the St Augustin Church in my eternal Paris!

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

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