Archive for June 20th, 2021

June 20, 2021

The Pas de Calais, and Arras!

The wonderful town of Arras. I have written on it before in my blog , and even the Christmas market in Arras is tops. However, I need to update this older post with refresh text and links to bring it up to date. It is wonderful to go over these previous places we have travelled and love it. Again, thanks for reading me since Nov 2010!

Let me update this post sort of an introduction to the wonderful Arras in my black and white series,no pictures. Hope you enjoy it as I.

We go to Arras, a nice town with lots of war history to remember. Also, in my opinion , the best Christmas market in the region. Arras is the historic capital of the departement 62 of Pas-de-Calais, in the region of Hauts de France; 45 km from Lille, and 160 km from Paris. We go here on the A1 who has an important exchange with the A26 here, and  we take the D 939.  The core historical of the city is along the ramparts with the oldest construction there around the bell tower or beffroi, and by the beautiful Grand’Place.

A bit of history I like: the treaty of Madrid of 1526 attached Arras to the Spanish lower countries but was never respected by king François I and conflicts continue until the end of his reign. The city is conquered by king Louis XIII in 1640 and later siege by the Spanish in 1654 ; however , the attachement to France does not happenned until the Treaty of the Pyrénées in 1659.(That set the frontiers of France and Spain to this day).

WWI or the Great War gave considerable damaged to the city and destruction of its heritage buildings as the town was only 10 km from the front. The beffroi is destroyed then the Cathedral and the palace of Saint-Vaast are bombarded in 1915. In secret the British built the stone quarries of chalk under the city to house the soldiers necessary for the battle of Arras of April 9 1917; the quarry of Wellington is open today to remember what heroic actions were taken place here. After the war, Arras was demolished in 3/4 of it and was rebuilt almost identical later. It had some damaged in WWII but not nearly as much than during the Great War 1914-1918.

Some of the things to see here are: Well let me tell you this little town has a punch. Arras is a City of Arts and History designation, and member of the Vauban network; it has 225 monuments classified as historical monuments that makes it the 7th city in France! The wonderful place des Héros,rue de la Taillerie, and the Grand’Place form an extraordinary monumental group of buildings unique in Europe.

The bell tower or beffroi in the city hall or hôtel de ville was built between 1463-1554, destroyed by Germans in WWI it was rebuilt to the identical after the war. The huge abbey of Saint-Vaast rebuilt in the 18C in classical architecture today houses the fine arts museum or musée des Beaux-Arts d’Arras, and the municipal library. Originally founded in the 7C ; the Church became the Cathedral of Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Vaast after the old cathedral was destroyed during the French revolution. The lower town has the district that link the city to the Citadelle, around the place Victor-Hugo, built in 1756 in an octagonal shape of which in the center an obelisk was placed. The Citadelle was built between 1668-1672 as a defense in square format as wanted by Vauban, to protect the kingdom from invasion by the Spanish low countries but was never attack.

There is a theater on the Italian model built in 1785 and renovated last in 2007. The fine arts museum has sculptures, objects of art, and painting collections from the Flemish, Dutch, Italian, and French schools . There is an agreement between the city and the chateau de Versailles to offered collaboration that will give the museum a royal domain look (of course).

The culinary traditions here are other than the beer… Chocolate Hearts: In the 12C the heart-shaped pastries were done and still do. In the 17C, the Gingerbread hearts became the “hearts of Arras”. Since the years 1950, they are made of chocolate, and they are great! Since the Middle Ages, the home grown pigs perpetuate the traditional recipe of the antler of Arras, elaborated from veal strawberries prepared by hand. The antler of Arras has its brotherhood and its annual feast.

The city of Arras tourist office on its heritage in French:

The Arras tourist office in English:

There you have it, a wonderful town the Pas de Calais dept 62 in Hauts de France region.

And now , there you go folks, again a  wonderful city of Arras with great memories.  Hope you enjoy the post on Arras, and do visit worth the detour. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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June 20, 2021

There is a nice place in the Aisne, Château Thierry!!!

Ah here is a nice one to update again having fun, hope you are enjoying the ride with me. Thanks again for reading me since Nov 2010 in my blog!!! This one was an invitation to come to this town which by the way have passed by it several times and never the idea of going in. I have other posts with pictures so this one again will be on my black and white series, no pictures. However, once invited the time there was fun and the bubbly Champagne even nicer. Let me tell you a bit more on Château Thierry!!!

I continue my travels with you of my belle France. I have come many times to this area, close to family and they worked in the Champagne fields here when young.   Yes this is Château Thierry ; and yes it is in Champagne country still produce there.  Château-Thierry is in the department 02 of the Aisne in the region of Hauts de France .The town belong to Champagne until the French revolution. 

Château Thierry is located in the Marne valley in the middle of a great highway of regions and big cities like the railroad line Paris-Strasbourg and only 85 km from Paris. The autoroute A4 passes by the city exit Château Thierry/Soissons allowing connection between the city and Reims and east west routes. The D1 passes by the city north to south and connects the city with the north via Soissons and between the city and Troyes and Provins. My toll free favorite N3 (route d’Allemagne or road of Germany) crosses the city east to west and connects with La Ferté-sous-Jouarre and Meaux to the west and Epernay and Chalon en Champagne on the east; my hangouts. The traffic in the city is bothered by the problems of crossing the Marne river where there are only two bridges, one in city center and the other over the expressway. There is a train station or Gare de Château Thierry terminus of the line P Transilien Paris Est and also the regional lines of Hauts de France on the TER trains.

A bit of history I like:

From excavation, they have found that there was an antique town here abandoned in the 3C or 4C, monies mentioning odomo fit discovered in the city attest to the fact there was important occupation in the period of the Merovingian’s. By the Carolingians period the area of the current Château Thierry was link to the powerful family of the Herbertiens. Herbert  Ier was a descendant of Charlemagne by Pepin of Italy and his mother inherits the powerful family of Thierry. The Herbertiens family was at the origin of the county of Champagne by 910, Herbert II de Vermandois inherit from his grandfather and by 918 received from the marriage of Adéle, the county of Meaux.; it is from this time the dates the proofs of a fortified town with the name of Château-Thierry . At the death of Herbert II there goes several descendant and exchanges of territory until I catch up the history at Eudes III who married in 1060, the sister of William the Conqueror, Adelaide. He participates of the conquest of England in 1066, his brother Thibaud III takes the possessions of the county of Champagne. William the Conqueror for compensate this lost, gives him the County of Aumales in Normandy and Holderness in England to Eudes III. And again several passing of descendant and territory.

Château-Thierry is the site of an important battle in 1814, the Russian and Prussians armies were set back by the troops of Napoléon at Montmirail, the foreigners were trying to stop the French for passing the Marne river bridge, heavy combats are held even on the streets but the foreigners were set back to Soissons. The city was one of the key points during the battles of the WWI in 1918 between the Americans and German troops. By June 1918, during the 3rd battle of the Aisne, the 10th colonial infantery division and the 2nd division of American infantery stopped the German offensive here . The city is ,also, the theatre of heavy battles during the Battle of France in 1940, the bridge in Chateau Thierry was defended by the Red Aspirant troops for which the new bridge carries their name.

Things to see in Château Thierry:

First, you have to come to the castle dominating the Marne valley, built from the 9C and heavily renovated over the years. Today, the old castle is a point of promenades/walks and holds a falcon spectacle that is very nice. The Church Saint-Crépin is the only Church in the city (many were destroyed during the French revolution). The Church was in the 15C located outside the walls of the ramparts but now it is near the city center. The clock tower is 36 meters high and can be seen from the banks of the Marne river. The tower or tour Balhan is a remained of the old mansion called the Hôtel du Mouton d’Or (built for a Balhan in 1480); the tower has a stairs ,and old Chapel and a prison room. What is left was restored from the Fort Saint Jacques residence of the Counts of Champagne that preferred it over the castle as when they came from Provins for a few days. The square tower is 33 meters high on top there is an octagonal arrow with tiles; to the east they are two smaller round towers with hexagonal roofs and to the west two small triangular pyramids fix on the tower. The interior stair leads you to the gothic Chapel and later the old prison room. From 1874, two cadrans completes the work as a town’s clock.

There is the Hôtel-Dieu former hospial of the city and today a museum ; the hospital was founded by Jeanne of Navarra in 1304. See the Mémorial Américain Aisne-Marne built in 1933 on the hill 204 about 3 km west of Château-Thierry, a monument that dominates the city and the valley with a great view. The native house of Jean de la Fontaine or Maison Jean de La Fontaine is the museum of Jean-de-La-Fontaine the story teller was born here in 1621, the author of the La Cigale et la Fourmi. (cicada and ant) . See also, the city hall or Hôtel de Ville built in 1893 and open later by Raymond Poincaré, the public instruction minister at the time (later President of France). It is located in the place de l’Hôtel de Ville, where you will find the cinema theatre (art deco style), covered market, Protestant temple and imposing stairs to go up to the old castle. Here the Grand Rue, joins the square to go the native house of Jean de la Fontaine, and the rue du Château, that takes you past the gate or porte Saint-Pierre.

The Protestant Temple was during WWI was an American Methodist Church created to offered help to the American soldiers done with donations that allowed to built the temple in 1924. One of the stained glass on the Temple represent La Fayette, Foch, Joffre, Pétain ,and Nivelle. Château-Thierry is crossed by the touristic route of the Champagne called Vallée de la Marne connecting Château Thierry to Epernay , a distance of 90 km. However, what brought me here was as initially stated the family is not far and as young even my wife worked here on the grapes of the  valley of the Marne west Champagne appellation . At  Château-Thierry, you must visit the cellars of Champagne Pannier (see post) with instructive tours on the making of the bubbly inside medieval galleries carved out in the 12C and decorated walls with old engravings such as an archer from the 14C, that has become the symbol of the house.

At Château Thierry the House of the Franco American friendship in French :

American Memorial of Chateau Thierry:

The city of Château Thierry on its heritage in French:

The portes de la Champagne local tourist office on Château Thierry:!/?q=chateau%20thierry

The Aisne dept 02 celebration July 2021 the 400 anniversary of Jean de la Fontaine in French:

The Aisne dept 02 tourist office on its heritage:

There you go folks, you all set to visit Château Thierry a nice town and a great bubbly. A bit of the east of my belle France.  And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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June 20, 2021

Chapelle Notre Dame de Béléan of Ploeren!

And another gem found in my blog only briefly mentioning when in fact I passed several times a week by this town and already a post on other monuments. This one for some reason was left out but deserves a post of its own. Therefore, here is my take on the Chapelle Notre Dame de Béléan of Ploeren!

Ploeren is in my beautiful Morbihan dept 56 of my lovely Bretagne! It runs almost pretty much along the expressway or voie express N165 (Nantes-Brest). Ploeren city center to Vannes city center is about 9 km and it is 21 km (about 13 mi) from our house.  In essence, this is where our hypermarkets are located and many shopping/eating places we do just on the other side of the expressway is Vannes.

The city of Ploeren was a former primitive parish which once enclosed the current territories of Arradon and Ile aux Moines, and is one of the cities of the first beltway of Vannes. It was long before the French revolution when the noble families of Vannes liked to own a farm that had a significant income. Even Nicolas Fouquet, (vaux le vicomte non fame) Superintendent of Finance of Louis XIV, was no exception to the rule. This was happening in 1656. It took the French revolution to divide the inhabitants into Chouans (Royal rebels) and Republicans (revolutionaries). Many of the locals engage with General Georges Cadoudal (Chouans). They risk having their belongings confiscated or even losing their lives. But what does it matter,the list was long of the farmers made prisoner here. During WWII, two military planes, one ally, the other enemy, crashed on the town: on August 12, 1941, a Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4 killed its pilot; on May 29, 1943, a B-17, the Concho Clipper serial 42-29838 of the 8th US Army Air Force ,351th bombardment group, 509th bomb Squadron (RQ) collapsed causing 4 fatalities among the crew members.

The Chapelle Notre Dame de Béléan or the chapel of Our Lady of Béléan is located at the village named Béléan, in Ploeren. The original chapel was built by Jean du Garo in gratitude for surviving with his squire, during the seventh crusade preached by Saint Louis in 1248, in order to liberate Palestine. They had been locked up by the Turks in a crate and loaded on a ship. The ruined chapel was restored in the 15C. Today, the Chapel is rectangular in shape, in large and medium size, it measures about 18 by 7 meters. In 2016, the Chapel is still the subject of an important devotion, as evidenced by the numerous candles constantly lit and the book where pilgrims write their requests and thanks. The chapel of Our Lady of Béléan is also called Notre-Dame de Bethléem (Our Lady of Bethlehem). The furniture and interior décor are very simple. Two large paintings on wood, represent “Jean du Garo” and “Saint Michel d’Auray”. An interior stone bench girt the walls. The stained glass window dates from the 16C. In the bay of the south half-mouthful fragments of stained glass bearing the coats of arms of the Kermeno of Garo are remarkable.



The city of Ploeren on its history in French:

The Diocese of Arradon on the Chapelle Notre Dame de Béléan in French:

There you go folks, now this is close to home and familiar territory. Ploeren is a nice suburb of Vannes and worth the detour for the Chapelle Notre Dame de Béléan. Hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

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June 20, 2021

Ploemel, a church and a chapel!

Again, this is another find looking at older post realise only briefly mentioned this monument in a combine post so therefore ,I have taken it out singlely as they deserve a post of their own. This is the story of the Church Saint André and the Chapelle ND de la Recouvrance of Ploëmel in my beautiful Morbihan dept 56 of my lovely Bretagne.

Ploëmel in the heart of a triangle between Auray, La Trinité-sur-Mer and Étel. Ploemel is 137 km from Rennes, 138 km from Nantes and 105 km from Quimper.  Ploemel comes from the Breton “ploe ” (Parish) and “Emel ” or “Meir “, leader of the Breton emigrants who came in the 7C. The wave that brought the Bretons from present day UK. The main lordship was that of Locmaria, formerly owned by the Broérec in the 13C, a younger branch of the ancient Counts of Vannes, and by the family of Trévegat in the 15C. In 1790, Ploëmel was erected as a town under the French revolution, and capital city of the District of Auray, with Erdeven for sole dependence. During the revolutionary torment, the Rector refuses to take the civil constitutional oath and exile himself in Spain. The Royalists (Chouans), many in Ploemel, then supplied vigorous supporters to GenGeorges Cadoudal. In 1801, the town loses its title of Canton capital and is attached to that of Belz.

At Ploëmel a small town furthest from the ocean ,you have wonderful small city center with a fountain laundry of Recouvrance and the nice Church of Saint André and the better Chapelle Notre Dame de la Recouvrance next to each other. The bus 18  passes by here from Auray so not even need a car!  The Chapelle was done between 1560 to 1563 and a pilgrimage site for the fisherman and seamen in the area ,and there is a big pardon on August 15 each year.




The Saint-André Church (St Andrews) done from 1835-1847. It is a church, shaped like a Latin cross, with semicircular windows. This church replaces a 17C church damaged during the French revolution. The current church was extended to the east by a sacristy. The nave comprises of four bays, with a bell tower-porch which dates only from 1847. The retable-lambris (wooden panels) dates from the 19C and the central painting which represented a Resurrection, done in 1859, was recently replaced itself surmounted by a representation of the eternal Father, and the lateral niches houses statues of St. Andrew and St. Isidore.



The city of Ploëmel on the Church in French:

The city of Ploëmel on the Chapel in French:

The Bay of Quiberon tourist office on Ploëmel

There you go folks, now I feel better telling about this small town  of Ploëmel  very close to the coast and the Atlantic ocean .Hope you have enjoy this brief introduction and the main monument St Andrews Church!

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

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