Archive for June 14th, 2021

June 14, 2021

Giverny or is it Monet!

Let me update this older post with text and links. One of the small popular towns in my belle France due to one person; Claude Monet. Without him, do not know anyone will know where Giverny is! I used to come often here for the old American artists and Monet. When moved to the Morbihan breton it has been years already. I like to tell you on this older post on Giverny or is it Monet! This one in my black and white series as pictures on the specific house museum post in my blog.

This is a small town, you can literally walk along its main street and that is it. However, for the famous per square feet /meter this is the world. Because of only one men, Claude Monet. Of course, they were other like the American painters who came here to seek inspiration and now the museum. I have come here often when lived in Versailles, not at all since moving to the Morbihan dept 56 of my lovely Bretagne ,but it’s time to reminicent after an article by fame French history presenter Stéphane Bern in the magazine Secrets d’Histoire or history secrets.

Giverny is in department Eure no 27 region of Normandie. Only 3,5 km from transport hub Vernon, at the union of the Seine and Epte rivers.  Only 74 km from Paris and 64 km from Versailles. Actually the town is quite old ,  back in 863 king Charles II the Bold gives to the monks of the abbey of Saint Denis le Ferment the possession of Giverny!

In 1883 Claude Monet comes to town in a house that he rented and later purchased in 1890. He change the house and arranged the gardens and vegetable garden as well, and had carved on the epse river in 1893 a flower garden with a water lilies basin from where he painted the famous Nymphéas.  He died in December 5 1926,  and is buried in the cimetery next to the Church. As said, same time many painters most Americans came to the town and some became friends of Monet.

The things you can see here are  of course the house and gardens of Claude Monet.  The Impressionists museum showing the work of the painters of Giverny (before called the American center); The former Hôtel Baudy and the rosary where many of these painters came together.  the Church of Sainte Radegonde ,and the stone of Sainte Radegonde by the Church.

Now, lets get to the reason I write this post and update you on Giverny; Claude Monet! I am sure you know him, the whole world knows him. My favorite painter. The secrets d’histoire story on Monet:

The story tells of the relationship of Alice Hoschedé and Claude Monet or the love in impressionism. The first wife of Claude Monet, Camille is sick and Alice married to his best friend comes to help. The first baby of Camille and Claude Monet is born and Alice helps out. They lived in the house at Vetheuil with Ernest Hoschedé, Alice, and the Monet. They have 8 children with them, 6 with the Hoschedé and 2 with the Monet. Not too far into this ménage à quatre! Ernest leave for Paris not able to withstand the ins and outs of the house. It is said that behind each great men there is a greater women :J You can see theportrait of Claude Monet done by Auguste Renoir in 1875 at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The Orsay museum on this painting:

There is ,also a portrait of Alice Hoschedé done by Monet in 1881. You can still go by the Castle of Rottembourg where Ernest and Alice Hoschedé lived before the ménage à quatre! It is in the town of Montgeron, Essonne dept 91 region of ile de France. The town of Montgeron and the castle:

It is the encounter at this castle that created first the love between Claude and Alice. In 1880, he had painted her at the Parc Monceau in Paris. Alice had a character stronger than Camille and at only 32 yrs old has some extra weight been already with five children.  The union with Ernest Hoschedé  came because he buys a portrait from Claude Monet called the  Soleil levant or sunrise done in 1872-73 over the port of Le Havre;  Ernest purchased it in 1874 for 800 francs! It was called later  Impression  possibly given name to the movement that later follow, and eventually change again to  soleil couchant or sunset until 1965 when a study shows Monet really meant the sunrise, it was stolen in 1985, and finally given to the Musée Marmottan-Monet of Paris in 1990. The Marmottan-Monet museum on the sunrise work:

During this early life ,Camille lived in an apartment without heating in Argenteuil , dept 95 Val d’Oise, and love lasts 35 years between her and Claude. There is a painting by Edourd Manet of 1874 La Famille Monet dans le jardin à Argenteuil.   Alice was invited as knowing that her husband had ruined her and left for Paris, she was in love with Claude and could not refuse coming to live with his family in Vetheuil part of the parc naturel regional du Vexin Français (see post) in Val d’Oise dept 95. Camille is sick and died of cancer of the uterus at 32 yrs old, Alice was there to help her until her last breath in her arms. She therefore, burned all clothings or belonging of Camille and stays the only women of Claude Monet.

The winter of 1879-80 is hard with minus 25 degrees Celsius and the Seine on ice .Monet just makes his first real money with the work Le Debacle painted in 1880 and sold for 1500 francs. Alice at home is in charge of all including 8 children!   She becomes jealous because Monet is always out away from home, to Vernon, Rouen, Pourville, Dieppe and Etretat etc. They moved to a house in Poissy (dept 78 Yvelines) changing nothing she demand that he writes to her each evening! He continue to travel, in Normandy, Bordighera in Italy, and Belle-île-en-Mer in the Morbihan Breton! Monet is unstable sometimes destroying his portraits with knives, changes to jokes or stress according to his many friends including Cézanne. He paints Bordighera several portraits while visiting there the one famous is call Bordighera from 1884. While Claude Monet is at Belle-île-en-Mer he writes 65 letters to Alice and paints 30 portraits until their marriage. The letters were burned by Claude Monet on the wish of Alice at her death.

In 1883, Monet makes his biggest decision purchasing a house in Giverny, he is already 43 yrs old. Alice is happy the children are well there. However, Ernest comes back from Paris and has a party with Alice to celebrate the 40th birthday! The children do not see well the sharing of love life in the house, and Martha the oldest daughter never arrived to be married maybe due to the situation in the family, and by January 1886 ,Alice threatens to leave Claude. Claude Monet leaves the house first to Etretat ,do not paint but writes letters to Alice. Becomes depressive do not want to paint, but Alice is in charge even if always jealous. The situation continues with Claude leaving for trips and Ernest coming for visits to Alice for several years!

By 1891 Ernest becomes very ill, and again it is Alice that takes care of him as she had done for Camille, the first wife of Monet. Ernest Hoschedé is buried at Giverny too. Finally ,in July 16, 1892, Alice became officially the wife of Claude Monet. Angélique Emilie Alice Raingo is her real long name. Ten days later her daughter Suzanne married Theodore Butler a young American painter in town. In 1897, Blanche daughter of Alice and Ernest married Jean, the son of Claude and Camille. Suzanne died at 30 yrs old leaving two kids orphan and Alice becomes ill. Depression sets in.

She accompanied Claude Monet on his trips to London 1899, Spain at Madrid in 1904 that they go by Panhard because Claude Monet was a passionate for the automobile. Finally , go to Venice in 1908, and he paints a lot here fascinated by the water coming back with about 40 portraits. It is returning from Venice that Alice begins to show her illness of blood and bone cancer ; a few months later on May 19 1911 at age 67 she died.

At 71 yrs old Claude Monet goes to a period of mourning, and depression gets him to destroy some portraits, when he lost his mother at 16 ,how can he survived alone in the last part of his life. He lost his son Jean in 1914 due to the great war or WWI. His daughter in law Blanche helps him at 50 yrs old and widowed as well becomes the blue angel for Claude Monet. Even with his catarat he paints his masterpiece Les Nymphéas in 19 panels and offered to France. He died December 5, 1926 in the arms of his friend Georges Clemenceau; on his burial the coffin in black cover was removed no, not black for Monet and was replaced by a flowery cloth.  In the shadows of the small Church of Sainte Radegonde of Giverny Claude Monet joins Alice, his son Jean, Suzanne, and Ernest!! (but not Camille Doncieux she is at Vertheil 95). For the record ,Camille was first a model for Monet and later for Renoir and Manet! All the correspondance and photos between her and Monet were detroyed by Alice jeolousy.   Six months later, the musée Claude Monet opened and France salutes one of its greatest artists. In 31 years Claude Monet painted 250 portraits of the Nymphéas. Inside of the former Hôtel Baudy, restaurant museum a place visited by Cézanne, Renoir, Sisley, Rodin,and Monet there is a reconstruction of his painting shop.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit and know a bit more Claude Monet are:

A wonderful site with information in English by an association Giverny:

The Claude Monet Foundation

The Eure dept 27 tourist office on Giverny:

The Normandie region tourist board on Giverny

There, an extraordiany men living ahead of his time,and even with blurry eyes had the best view of us all. The great Claude Monet, he still amazes me on his paintings and stories. Hope you like this one as I did.

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

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June 14, 2021

The National Domain of Chambord !

Ok so this is a new post with older pictures but needed to have in my blog the memories of enjoying the park of Chambord. Yes, I have several posts on the castle of Chambord but not enough or none on the estate which is huge. Will take more than a day to see it all me think, we just saw a bit of it and its beautiful.  Therefore, let me do credit to the park of the National Domain of Chambord!

For reference, the Domaine National de Chambord is a wonderful huge castle/park in the Loire region Centre-Val de Loire. Department Loire-et-Cher no. 41. It is only 14 km from Blois, 47 km from Orleans, and 164 km from Paris (about 101 miles). It is 381 km (about 236 miles) from my house.

A bit of history I like

The forest massif of Boulogne on which is located the national domain of Chambord was property of the counts of Blois in the Middle Ages, then Royal domain from 1498. In 1519, king François Ier acquired the agricultural lands adjoining the forest massif of Boulogne to the north of the Cosson, to constitute the park. More than 2,500 ha of agricultural land will thus be annexed. This area consisted mainly of cultivated land, a few groves, and, probably, moors which fed the sheep of the surrounding peasants. In 1645, Gaston d´Orléans (son of king Henri IV and brother of king Louis XIII) increased the area of the estate and completed the construction of its surrounding wall. The surface of the national domain of Chambord then reached its current surface: 5,433 ha.  The National Domain of Chambord also includes several ponds such as Halay, Fontaine, Baquetière, Grande-Brèche, Montrieux, Neuf, Faisanderie, Périou, Thibaudière and Bonshommes. The Cosson river, a tributary of the Beuvron, crosses the territory of the domain from east to west.


The surrounding wall of the national domaine of Chambord begun around 1542, is 32 km long. The construction work was long and yet it does not seem to have been interrupted after the death of Francis I as there are invoices from 1556 attesting that Henry II, his son, ordered the residents to continue the work in his absence. This wall of 2.50 meters of average height rests on foundations 70 cm deep. It is made up of small dry stones of limestone from Beauce. The gates created in the perimeter wall were lined with gates which remained in principle closed at night until the beginning of the 20C.They had lots of break-ins! They were then replaced by game grids placed on the roadway which both allow vehicle traffic and prevent the passage of animals.


The history of hunting and else runs deep here and still very much practice in France with modern regulations. King François Ier hunt with hounds at his time. However, the French revolution of 1789 democratised this type of hunting. The creation of the national hunting and wildlife reserve in 1947 put an end to this mode of hunting in Chambord. Indeed, a population of deer and hinds grows about 30% per year. From 600 animals before birth, we can therefore take 200 individuals without endangering the species. The capture of live deer in the forest of Chambord began in the 19C and took off in the 1950s. The very sustained demand for animals for other sites has led to the capture since 1950 of nearly 100 deer and hinds per year. Chambord has now become the only French, and even European, site specializing in recovering wild deer. The management of the wooded areas of the park is currently carried out by agents from the National Forestry Office (ONF) , and the National Hunting and Wildlife Office (ONCFS) made available to the estate. A third of the forest area of the national domain of Chambord is covered with coniferous trees. In these plots, on average, thinning or stand regeneration is carried out every ten years, if it is mature. Between 12,000 and 15,000 m3 of wood are exploited per year. In 1969, the national domain of Chambord was one of the first French sites to install observatories in the forest. There are eleven observatories in the part of the grounds open to the public, five of which can accommodate fifty people, and six have a capacity of three to four people. These elevated platforms allow the observer to spot , if lucky ; a wild animal, without it being locked up, like in a zoo.


A selection of products made according to the rules of the art from the natural resources of the domain is already offered for sale under the brand “Château de Chambord” in the castle boutique, (which is always great to buy), in a space identified as such. Honey, game terrines, wooden objects from the Chambord forest, deer antlers (key ring, walking stick, etc.) are currently marketed. From 2019, date of the 500th anniversary of the start of the construction of the castle, the wine was produced on the estate, and therefore the first vintage of wine from the Château de Chambord reach 50,000 bottles. The Sologne ewe is considered to be one of the current breeds closest to the old types of French sheep. In the 15C, its breeding was very important in the region. The rebirth and establishment of the Royal Court in the Loire Valley fostered the prosperity of the wool trade and sheep farming. Following the objective of restoring the domain to its agricultural vocation, 50 ewe lambs (six months old) and a ram arrived to form the basic herd to reach a goal of 200 ewes in 2026, divided into four herds, led in organic breeding!


Some webpages as usual by me to help you plan your trip here are

The official Nature 2000 ecolo park system on Chambord

The official Domaine National de Chambord webpage on the park in English (most above comes from here) :

The Blois-Chambord tourist office on the castle:

The dept 41 Loir-et-Cher tourist office on Chambord castle:

There you go folks now I feel better to have covered the castle and park domain in my blog. A wonderful site to be seen, a must! The description of others made my comments humble of the beauty of this place; we really enjoy this family trip and of course; loaded up on local products of the Château de Chambord. Hope you enjoy the post as I

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

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June 14, 2021

Blois-Chambord train station!

Aha and here I am telling you about a train station odd but indeed I have been to a few if only ridden in fewer. We were visiting Blois, (see posts) and staying at a hotel nearby and decided to walk by it. The idea is that you can go from Paris to Blois by train same day! Here is my take on the Gare de Blois-Chambord!

The Blois – Chambord train station is on the Paris-Austerlitz line to Bordeaux-Saint-Jean, located in Blois, about 20 km from Chambord, in the department of Loir-et-Cher, dept 41 in the region Centre-Val de Loire. Until December 14, 2013, it bore the name of Gare de Blois train station.


The new station is built slightly downstream from the old line of 1846. The works lasted from 1890 to 1893 and the new station then cut the avenue de l’Embarcadère (now avenue du Docteur-Jean-Laigret).  On June 12, 2015 a footbridge overhanging the tracks was inaugurated in order to allow users to cross conveniently to the train station and access to passenger platforms.

This Gare Blois-Chambord train station, has a passenger building, with counters, open every day. It is equipped with automatic machines for the purchase of tickets. The two main tracks (1 and 2) of the line from Paris to Bordeaux are bordered by platforms. To these are added two other platform tracks, one of which is bordered by two platforms (tracks 3 and 4). An underground passage connects platforms 1 and 2. The third platform (for tracks 3 and 4) is connected to platform 2 by a underground passage. The platform tracks are partially covered by a steel roof.

They offer service of the regional trains from the TER Center-Val de Loire network. The offer of the latter consists of omnibus or almost omnibus missions to Orléans and Tours, semi-direct missions between Orléans and Tours, semi-direct missions circulating between Paris-Austerlitz and Tours, and the Interloire between Orléans and Nantes, Saint-Nazaire or Le Croisic. So is not a train station of great use due to this connections and bus service instead of trains.

However, things are coming along only slow down by the pandemic but the Gare Blois-Chambord is moving up.

The Bloist Gare district, located in the heart of the city, is one of the major gateways to Blois. Five minutes from the Medici roundabout, and the Royal Castle, the Gare district extends the project of Carré Saint-Vincent and the ACVL to form, as far as the Vienne river, the backbone of the urban development underway in the heart of the city. In addition to the Ducoux block, the first stage of the project was the design and installation of the footbridge and its rotunda the forecourt of the station, which will be completely redesigned to offer a beautiful space open to the new district, of which it will be the heart. The flow of cars will be limited in front of the station, in order to give back their place to people on foot and by bicycle, with clearer routes. The forecourt was to be completed by the end of March 2021, but they have been some delays. Drop-offs and a car park managed by Effia with 200 spaces are also planned. Finally, the station being a privileged interface between urban and interurban coach lines, a real bus station will be created and completed at the end of March 2021, (again some delays) making the square an intermodal exchange hub (railways, bus station, public transport, etc. taxis and gentle traffic). However, all should be done by this coming summer.

The city of Blois on the Gare district project in French:

The SNCF Gare et Connexions on the Blois Chambord train station

The TER Centre Val de Loire on the Blois Chambord train station

This is a pretty train station or gare de Blois Chambord, really!  we park just in front in square Pasteur and corner of avenue du Docteur-Jean-Laigret for free! Always nice to visit Blois even if we have come by car, the train station is quant pretty nice should be worth the trip. Hope it helps your choices.

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

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June 14, 2021

The Grand Aquarium de Touraine!

This one is not really an update as only had a small line on it and was there briefly. However, it has grown and would be worth the detour again once in the area of Amboise. In fact, we were in Amboise seeing and buying our house wine in Limeray across the Loire river and as road warrriors well saw something else. This was the old Val de Touraine aquarium. Hope you enjoy the post as I bringing my memories back.

The old Val de Touraine aquarium now call Grand Aquarium de Touraine is at the place les Hauts Bœufs, Lussault-sur-Loire, and easy with a car arriving from Amboise, you will pass the village of Lussault and signs will indicate the direction on your left. This is of course Indre et Loire dept 37 region of Centre Val de Loire.


The Grand Aquarium de Touraine is an aquarium located between Tours and Amboise in the heart of Touraine. Located near the Loire, it is the largest freshwater aquarium in Europe with about 5,000 m2 and consists of 70 basins including a 30-meter-long freshwater tunnel housing species from the Loire river but also oceans around the world. A total of 12,000 fish are staged in two million liters of water.

The Grand Aquarium de Touraine is split into the following:

The freshwater tunnel. With its 30 meters long, it presents the species of the rivers of France. The tactile basin. A 15-meter tactile pool has been set up, where visitors can pet tame fish. The Silurium in nocturama. This presentation, unique in Europe, reverses the day / night cycle, making it possible to observe the animals in activity.  The Shark Tunnel. This 15-meter-long tunnel presents several species of sharks including bull sharks.

With families is an excellent change from the castles and wines of the Touraine area indeed. Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The official Grand Touraine Aquarium webpage:

The Touraine Loire Valley regional tourist office on the aquarium:

There you go folks another dandy in my belle France and a lovely region of Centre Val de Loire. The Grand Touraine Aquarium is a nice option especially if with families. Hope you enjoy it.

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

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