Archive for June 30th, 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!!


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.


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.


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 .



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.


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.




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 Tours

The Tours tourist office on the Cathedral:

The Touraine Loire Valley tourist board on Tours

The regional Val de Loire tourist board on Tours

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.


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.



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!


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.


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.


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.


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:

The Nantes tourist office on the castle/museum:

The Loire Atlantique dept 44 tourist board on the castle/museum:

The Pays de la Loire region tourist board on the castle/museum:

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 river

The voies navigables de France on the rides on the rivers of France in French:

The voies navigables de France on the 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).


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.



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.  



Honfleur tourist office on fishing trips and cruises in English:

And to know the marine forecast meteoconsult for Honfleur which I follow too; webpage:

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:

And my fav beach webpage Plages TV on the plage Butin of Honfleur:


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.


The Honfleur SNSM webpage:

And the same SNSM webpage with a map locator of all their stations in France:

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:

The Honfleur tourist office in English:

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!


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.



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.


 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!



The Official Domaine de Kerguéhennec webpage:

The Bretagne/Brittany tourist board on the Domaine de Kerguéhennec

The Central Morbihan tourist office on the Domaine de Kerguéhennec

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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