Archive for July, 2021

July 31, 2021

The Abbey Saint Michel of Plouharnel !!

Let me tell you a bit more about Plouharnel. I have other posts mostly on the surfing beaches here ,but this is the off the beaten path gem I like to tell you more. An update of an older post, hope you enjoy it as much I.

As you know Plouharnel is just south of my town say about 25 km or 15 miles. It is in the beautiful Morbihan dept 56 of my lovely Bretagne. And it has two wonderful abbeys that looks like only one! Let me tell you a bit about the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Michel.



The Abbey benedictine of Saint Michel , at the end of WWI it was house by US troops. The Abbey of Saint-Michel de Kergonan is a Benedictine monastery, depending on the Solesmes congregation and located next to the abbey. It was founded in 1898 by the Abbaye Sainte-Cécile de Solesmes and has several nuns.


This Abbey of Saint Michel de Kergonan , possesses not only a long history of the tradition of Gregorian chant but also that of its precious audience for this tradition. The Abbey still supports Gregorian chant, not only in favor of its offices but also by participating in publications. Thus, it helped write the Gregorian Hours released in 2008. Moreover, the   choir sister Marie-Emmanuel Pierre, published a book on Gregorian chant in 2005: Cantabo Domino. Five Abbesses have succeeded Saint-Michel de Kergonan.


The official abbey Saint Michel de Kergonan:

The Bay of  Quiberon tourist office on Plouharnel heritage:

You need to come here by car from the express way N165 ,along the D768/781 direction Quiberon, once at Plouharnel bear left on the circle and slow down will read the panels. In summer you can take the train tire bouchon from Auray with a stop at Plouharnel. There you go folks, hope you enjoy the post it is very nice historical , greatly done archictecturally and very nicely done biscuits by the monks! This is the abbey of Saint Michel of Plouharnel. Again, hope you have enjoy the post as I.

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

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July 31, 2021

Church of St. Joseph of Pontivy!

Here I am again back to my wonderful beautiful Morbihan  in my lovely Bretagne. Again, I have written several posts on Pontivy and mentioned this Church but feel it deserves a post of its own and more details. I am updating this post from the original stormy cloudy day , let me tell you a bit more on the Imperial Church of St Joseph.

The Church of St. Joseph is located on Rue Nationale, it was built in the heart of the Napoleonic district of the city (city was known as Napoleonville) between 1863 and 1867, thanks to an imperial grant granted by self name Emperor Napoleon III during a visit to the city. As the Imperial subsidy was exhausted on that date, the work was interrupted and the Church remained unfinished. This Church is open in summer, so check schedules with the tourist office for opening dates and hours. Inside photos are not allowed.


The Church of St Joseph features a belltower-porch that has implemented large-grain granite in big facade, with monolithic balusters, granite stone from the area. In neo-Gothic style, the Church remained outwardly unfinished (no spire of the Bell Tower). One notices the gargoyle overcoming the porch, left side, which represents the Empress Eugenie and, inside, the stained glass with imperial weapons. The final reception of the works takes place as is in 1869. The Church was officially handed over to the bishopric in 1873 as the auxiliary chapel of the parish church and consecrated on April 12, 1876 as in Saint-Joseph.

The Church of St. Joseph is built on a three-tiered Latin cross plan: large arcades, triforium and tall windows. It has the choir facing south, contrary to the religious architectural norms that require an orientation of the choir towards the east. The Emperor also wanted the Church to finance a Finnish-style Bell Tower, but the Church of St. Joseph nevertheless had no reference to the Breton Gothic. It was the French Gothic of the 13C that inspired the Parisian master of the Church.

The bell tower could not receive an arrow because the Imperial financial contribution was not enough to complete the construction site, as well as other elements of the Church such as the stones sometimes carved sometimes simply spliced with architectural sculpture are a good examples. The Sacristy, indispensable to the good conduct of the cult, could not be built. In 1869, fixed furniture such as altars, pulpit, stalls and organ were non-existent.  In the 1870s, in Neo Gothic style, the panels that closed the Choir, as well as the stalls and the pulpit to preach, carved the dove of the Holy Spirit which decorate the lampshade of the pulpit to preach and the reliefs of the four Evangelists accompanied by their symbol on its cube, Saint Mathieu and the Angel, Saint Mark and the Lion, Saint Luke and the Bull, and Saint John and the Eagle.


The organ that is in the choir today dates from the early 20C. In 1972, the restored organ was installed in the Benedictine Abbey of the Sisters Saint-Michel de Kergonan in Plouharnel (see post). In the early 1990’s, the nuns preferred to separate from this instrument and was acquired by the Intercommunal Union for the Tourist Development of the canton of Pontivy. This is how the organ was installed in the Church of St. Joseph where it has remains.

The arms of the self name Emperor Napoleon III are inlaid on the stained glass of the eastern arm of the transept, on the keystone of the apse of the Choir and under the railing of the bell tower-steeple outside. The elements that form the coats of arms are: the Crown, the Imperial mantle, and the signs of the sovereign authority such as the scepter and the hand of righteousness; the Eagle is still present because it symbolizes the military victories and the necklace of the Legion of honour. The “E” of the Empress Eugenie (of Spain) and the “N” of Napoleon III are located in the center of the stained glass of the west arm of the transept and on the floor of the Choir, topped by the Imperial Crown and surrounded by bees, as well as in the center of the west arm of the transept. The bee symbolizes immortality and resurrection and creates a bond also between the Empire and the origins of France. It was in 1653 that, on the tomb of Childeric I, father of Clovis, small bees in gold and garnet were discovered in Tournai ,Belgium. The bee figures are present on the two rosettes of the transept where they surround the central motif with stars. They are also found on the floor of the choir, framing the Imperial Eagle or the figure of Napoleon and on some keystone of the aisles of the nave and the Chapel and the Choir. The bees surround the figure of the Emperor and the Imperial Crown on the pavement of the Choir and the figures of the Emperor and the Empress in the center of the rose of the west arm of the transept.

The Bell Tower, the triforium and the rosettes of the transept; before being restored in 1991, the Church’s bays were once closed by stained white glass windows, most of them surrounded by a blue border. the Church of St. Joseph of Pontivy is today among the major French historical monuments that have participated in the renewal of the art of contemporary stained glass from the 1980’s.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit here and it is worth a detour are:

The Morbihan dept 56 tourist office on St Joseph Church in Pontivy:

The city of Pontivy on heritage

The Pontivy tourist office on Napoleonic heritage see flyer

There you go folks, another nice stop in your route of Bretagne ,and especially my dear home dept 56 of Morbihan. The Imperial Church of St Joseph at Pontivy is worth waiting to see it.

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

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July 31, 2021

Monument to Chambord in Sainte Anne d’Auray!

Let me take you to an off the beaten path site in a very popular town of my beautiful Morbihan , and lovely Bretagne. This is in the city of Sainte Anne d’Auray near me where I past by several times a week. I have written briefly on it in several posts but feel deserves a post of its own, therefore ,here it is for you.  Enjoy it for the history of it, usually only written by the victors. I will tell you a bit more on the Monument to the Count of Chambord!

The monument statue to the Count of ChambordDuke of Bordeaux  . This is in honor of the support the count of Chambord had for Bretagne.  The monument to the Count of Chambord was erected in 1891 in Sainte Anne d’Auray , in memory of Henri d’Artois, claiming the Crown of France as Henri V.

A bit of history I like

During the attempt to restore Henri V, a pilgrimage was organized by the royalists of western France at Sainte Anne d’Auray to pray for the King’s return to the throne. The latter is maintained every year on 29 September, the anniversary of the birth of the Prince, until his death in 1883. As a result of this, a subscription was launched and allowed to acquire the land as well as built the  five statues. On 20 February 1889, a civil society, known as the “Société de Saint-Henri”, was created for the purpose of the erection and maintenance of a Memorial of Monsieur Le Comte de Chambord. This group buys the land destined for the monument which is finally realized in 1891. A wall and a grid are installed in 1897, but the originally planned garden does not see the day, due to lack of sufficient funding until 2012.

The annual pilgrimage, more or less abandoned after WWI, was revived in 1983 at the initiative of the Union of Legitimized Circles of France. In 2012, the monument was restored and the garden finally realized. On 31 May 2015, Prince Louis de Bourbon, Duke of Anjou and Burgundy (heir king as Louis XX) and his wife Princess Marie-Marguerite went there during a ceremony organized in their tribute, on the occasion of their official visit to the Morbihan. And I follow up!

The monument is located in near of the Basilica of Sainte-Anne d’Auray, about 700 meters to the west,direction Brech,  the monument consists of a summary statue in cast iron of the Count of Chambord, depicted on his knees and in Sacred outfit, placed on a granite pedestal. At its four faces it has the two saint patrons of France and Paris; Sainte Jeanne d’Arc in front and Sainte Geneviève in the back, as well as the two great heroes of the French chevalry, Bayard to the left and Du Guesclin to the right, all four standing.


A bit on who was the Count of Chambord as he is generally known.

Henri (born 29 September 1820) is the son of the Duke of Berry, murdered on 13 February 1820 by Louvel and the grandson of king Charles X. On August 2, 1830, Charles X abdicated in his favor, but Henri followed his grandfather in exile in England. His mother, Marie Caroline de Bourbon, attempted to raise an army in battle in the west of France in 1832 , her attempt fails. In 1833, Henri V was 13 years old and considered a adult. He followed king Charles X in exile in Prague after England. After the fall of the Empire in 1870, the legitimists Royals tried to impose the restoration of the Bourbons on the throne of France. This restoration failed because Henri categorically refused the Tricolor flag (French revolutionaries and current flag of France), prefering the White flag (Royal) to be use. With him disappears the eldest branch of the Bourbon.

As he is very much connected to the Castle of Chambord (see post) that was his once, there is a whole room on him there including his letter refusing the king’s title on the flag issue. The museum piece on the Count and the letter display. You can see my blog posts on Chambord. You can see his story there in remarkable personages page in English:

Some further webpages to help you plan your trip are:

The official Count of Chambord webpage in French:

The official Union of Legitimized Circles of France (Royals) on Chambord

The official Royal Prince Louis heir to be Louis XX king of France

There you go folks, an interesting other history of France that even today still has conversation talks in my neck of the woods, still Catholic and Royal. Hope you enjoy it, the monument to the Count of Chambord in Sainte Anne d’Auray. A great excuse to stop by the Basilica Ste Anne (see post).

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

July 30, 2021

The Alignments of Carnac!

I am writing again about the stones of Carnac oh its megalithes or line up or alignments an Unesco world site indeed. The folks come all over here to see the stones.  You have to see them at least once and even thus written bits and pieces on them before in my blog, I would like to dedicate one post just on them. Hope you enjoy it. Do need to tell you ,it is in dept 56 of Morbihan in the region of Bretagne and in my belle France!

Then, they are just south of me about 31 km or 19 miles, and we past by the famous megalithes or stones, as well as stopping by once for the formal knowledge about them. Indeed they have been here for centuries, and very popular now. I am not much into stones, mind you,  but its very historical and folks all over come to see it. The locals have a predilection for stones even decorating their homes with it on the facades. Which we of course , have copy for our house! Carnac is nice for the ambiance of its restos bars and beaches in summer; its a place to go eat seafood, fish, and the great Breton galettes/crêpes with the cider or the white wine of muscadet/Loire or the Breton beers ,the works!!

carnac-alignments jul12

Let’s go into the technical, historical, architecture of it shall we!

The alignments of Carnac  are an exceptional megalithic  alignments located in the town’s limits of Carnac and La Trinité-sur-Mer. The area around Carnac bringing together the highest concentration of megaliths in the World, and consists of alignments of menhirs (stones), dolmens (tomb like covering of stone) and aisles covered and spread over 4 km. The alignments of Carnac are the most famous and most impressive megalithic ensembles of this period with nearly 4 000 stones lifted around 4500 years BC. The alignments are however accessible to the public in high season through the visits conferences with a guide proposed by the Maison des Mégalithes,  and are on open access in winter period.


The alignments of Carnac follow about 4 km between the bay of Plouharnel and the rivermouth of  La Trinité-sur-Mer. They mark the junction of two different territories, one coastline to the south and the other continental to the north. They include 2 733 menhirs, probably largely below what existed in the Neolithic era. It is possible that the alignments have reached the Crac’h river by spreading over 8 km. The  Kermario’s alignment, presumably contemporary of Kerlescan, appears to be built on the mound of Manio which is dated 4000-3500 BC. The construction of the alignments seems slightly posterior, so these would date from the middle of the 4C BC (end of the middle Neolithic).

carnac-kermario jul12

The main alignments of the menhirs of Carnac  are from West to East : Le Ménec, Kermario, Kerlescan and Le Petit Ménec. The ensemble has a general direction southwest northeast . In each alignment, the menhirs are placed in ascending order in the direction of the west. A dolmen (cromlech) precedes the Menec’s alignment, 240 meters away from  Kermario’s alignment,  preceded by a dolmen.  Kerlescan’s 390 meters  alignment is, like the Ménec, preceded by a semicircular cromlech. The menhirs are exclusively formed of local granite, a granite of anataxis with two heterogeneous micas, comprising of porphyria zones.


The alignments of the Ménec, these alignments constitute the most representative set of menhirs with 1 165 meters long over 100 meters wide for 1099 menhirs spread over 11 files. The highest stones that compose them reach 4 meters. The alignments of the Ménec begin in the southwest by a cromlech comprising still of 71 surviving blocks some of which sneak between the buildings of the village of Ménec. A very ruined cromlech still exists in the east.

carnac-menec-stones jul12

The alignment of Kermario and the Manio, these alignment are the best known and most frequented of the alignments of Carnac. Indeed, it is here that we find the biggest menhirs. It has 10 lines representing a total of 982 menhirs. This alignment is marked by the existence of the Kermaux mill which offers a point of view on the alignments. Finally, the Kerloquet  pond dug in the 19C destroyed some of the alignments. It separates in two the alignment with the Kermario on one side and the Manio on the other. The Kerloquet site, composed of 82 menhirs. Not far from this alignment is the quadrilateral of Manio which consists of several blocks of granite of 1 meter in height placed jointly. They were delimiting a tumuli mound. There is also the giant of Manio which rises at a height of 6 meters.

The alignment of Kerlescan and the petit Ménec, these alignment contains 540 menhirs spread over 13 lines and on 3.50 hectares of surface. At its extremity is a cromlech of 39 menhirs. This is the best-preserved alignment. The alignment of Kerlescan extends into a wooded area located beyond the road leading to La Trinité sur Mer with the little Ménec, now restored.

carnac-kelescan-stones jul12

It is only from 1750 that folks began to be interested in the alignments of Carnac and that the first assumptions were issued. The Count of Caylus in 1764 believed that the megaliths date back to the time of the Gauls and the Romans. It is notice and mentioned of improper restoration, noting that now only 36% of menhirs are in their strict place and original situation. Near or around Carnac, many other monuments of this period are distinguished such as  La Table des Marchand of Locmariaquer, Le Dolmen de Mané-Kerioned, Les dolmens de Kermario, Les dolmens de Cruz-Moquen,  Les dolmens de Kériaval, Le dolmen de Clud-er-Yer, Le dolmen de Nautério, Les dolmens de Kerlescan, Le cairn de Kercado,  Le dolmen de Kerluir, Les tertres du Manio, Les tertres de Moustoir, Le tumulus de Saint-Michel and the Le menhir de Kerdeff. All very nice and mostly visited already but not all.

I will put several webpages that will help you further understand these stones and plan your visit to this wonderful area of Carnac.

The official menhirs of Carnac webpage:

The Carnac tourist office on the stones:

The city of Carnac on the stones:

The ministry of Culture of France on the stones of Carnac:

There you go folks,now you are loaded to come and see them. Worth the visit and let me know when in town. Carnac is special for the stones and more! Hope you have enjoy the tour.

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

July 30, 2021

Church Notre Dame de Locmaria of Quiberon!

Well if you have read my blog, you know this is my favorite area to spent my time. The peninsula of Quiberon is gorgeous and full of interesting spots. I have written widely on it in different posts before, but feel obligated to tell you a bit more on some of our interests that might be of yours too.  Quiberon, been a peninsula has beautiful beaches very much sought out by other Europeans as well. However, it has some interesting monuments located in quant nice city center full of shops, restos,and bars in the bourg or as well call here city center of the administration part of a town.

Therefore,  let me tell you a bit  more of the  Church of Notre Dame de Locmaria  in the bourg  of Quiberon!  The  Église Notre-Dame-de-Locmaria is at the entrance to the old section towards the beaches in city center Quiberon, we were just there for the first time several years back just before a wedding was to take place, very nice, no photos.  It is our walks now when we go in the main road into the town and parked for free by the train station or gare de  Quiberon, and then walk into the beach area minutes away. It is located in city center bourg at Place du Repos.


The Church of Notre Dame de Locmaria was built in the 15C when the parish seat was transferred from the prieural Chapel of St Clement to the town, entirely redone in 1654, it will be wearing a Lantern Tower only in the 19C. Ransacked by the English of Admiral Lestock’s army in 1746, it would even serve as a hospital for the Chouans and the emigrants in 1795 (fight against the French revolution). But it was in 1900 that a storm damaged the Bell Tower destroying much of the roof. The Church in its present form dates from 1906.


All in beige granite, sober, it occupies the highest point of the town. To see, when open, the Altar of the emigrants Breton in granite and bronze of the 20C ,and a painting of Pierre Roux of 1884, the baptism of Christ. The bells date from 1871 and come from the old church and carry inscriptions to identify them and to know their donors. The first Bell is called “Louise-Marie” and the second Bell is called “Joséphine-Félicité “. There is an ex-voto , a model of the Melpomène, a frigate dated from the 19C.




Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and is a must to Quiberon and why not stop by the Church of Our Lady of the Assomption.

The city of Quiberon on its heritage

The Bay of Quiberon tourist office on Quiberon:

There you go folks, another nice gem to see in beautiful Quiberon. And to add around the Church you have the city center admin area with plenty of shops to spent your day shopping away as well!

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

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July 30, 2021

Port Haliguen in Quiberon !!

In this time of the year the place is pack with visitors and locals alike and the weather is great of course.  What I am talking about Quiberon, the peninsula south of me, my backyard. And more specifically Port Haliguen; which not had written much about yet. This is an update of an older post ,hope you enjoy it as I.

There is a nice lighthouse done in 1856 and the marina was done from 1968; it is now on its way to be improve and enlarge from its current 1200 moorings. The governing body is on a plan right now such as a large renovation project at Port Haliguen is now underway. It involves: The large-scale dredging of the west dock (Bassin de Castero), which will be followed by the east basin (Bassin du Porigo).The complete re-planning of the quays, pontoons and commercial premises.The creation of a lively centre around the basin. This will improve the services for boat owners, develop the port and strengthen its identity. A sensible extension of the number of moorings. and you can read more on the city of Quiberon port haliguen:


There are beaches in between very nice, the wild and secluded plage de Castéro  and Kermorvan to the left facing the harbor and plage de Porigo to the right all the way to the plage du Fort Neuf.  Several fishing, boating, beach shops have opened up here as well as créperies, restos and bistro à vins. Very nice indeed.

My favorite beaches here are Castero and Porigo  ,and see more info on the webpage of Plages TV:



You can, also, see the expositions in the Maison du Phare a sort of events place for the area . The Bay of Quiberon on the lighthouse house:



You find all kinds of boats here from cruisers to dingy zodiac types, from motor to sails, combine, and catamarans. It is really a gorgeous spot to be in. We parked behind the Port Haliguen hotel right facing the harbor on a side street for free! Plenty of this type of parking if you come early.


The lighthouses are always a pretty sight, and the bigger one from 1856 or phare de Port Haliguen can be seen for 10 miles with a height of 12 meters and no more in operation. Two smaller red phares or lighthouses are on the causeway out to see; the one on the left has 11 miles vision at 8 meters high; the one on the right has 8 miles vision of a high of 7 meters. On the north dam, there is another lighthouse,this one green with a vision of 6 miles and  9 meters high.


Then, there is the Maison du Port or house of the harbor where the Yacht Club de Quiberon is house with a full program and plenty of boats in its yard. Official webpage of they YCQ:



Then, you have the Capitainerie or harbormaster in Port Haliguen, VHF Chanel 9. Contact on right hand column of this harbors webpage:


You have a nice train station where you can walk to the Grande Plage and all the rest is not far, we parked and walk all over… the train station has a special service from Auray on the Tire-Bouchon  train or screwpull train in Summers only. You can, also, come on Keolis bus line 1 from the Auray train station in Summers.


Driving out of town it is great to do so on rue du Port Haliguen where the Casino (betting) is on, and you past just in front of the Church of Notre Dame de Locmaria in city center.  You ,also, drive on the causeway in and out, one road two lanes in and out, and past the historic Fort of Penthievre, still a military installation but a site of firing squads assassination during the Nazi occupation. I have written on these several times before.


Another dandy spot in my beautiful Quiberon peninsulaPort Haliguen is kind of secluded nice and great for the whole family. Enjoy it as I.

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

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July 29, 2021

Hôtel de Ville of Vannes!

As I did with my other two city halls in Paris and Versailles, the one now mine in Vannes is almost a replica, confirm with that of Paris. This is something, again, has written in bits and pieces before but feel needs a post of its own. Let me update this post for you and me ok. Therefore, let me tell you a bit more of the Hôtel de Ville or City/Town Hall of Vannes!


The Hôtel de Ville de Vannes is located on the Place Maurice Marchais, and was built between 1880 and 1886. The other part of the administrtive part is at rue Joseph le Brix coming out of old to your left.

The City/Town Hall of Vannes was built to replace an old city/town hall in poor condition and not reflecting the ambitions of a prefecture city. Located at the place des Lices, the old city/town hall was a typical Breton-style building. Rescued from destruction, the staircase of the old city/town hall was installed in the 1960’s  in the courtyard of the Hotel de Limur. (see post).


In 1878, the Municipal Council of Vannes fixed the location of the City/Town Hall on the place Napoléon, present day place Maurice Marchais and former place du Marché. This building wanted by the Republicans (revolutionaries) after their victory over the Monarchists in 1878 was the triumph of Republican ideas. The City/Town Hall is of Italian Renaissance style  and a copy, on the scale of Vannes, of the City/Town Hall of Paris(Hôtel de Ville).


The main 4-story building is framed by 2 pavilions. On the main façade, the frontispiece is equipped with a clock and topped by the crest of the city. Reminiscent of the former belfry, the steeple located at 36 meters in height dominates the ensemble. The columns engaged in Corinthian capitals and pilasters. A monumental flight of stairs guarded by 2 Lions in cast iron leads to the entrance where 4 busts welcome you with Lesage, Descartes, Thiers and Mirabeau. The interior is the image of the outside;   including statues and stained glass depicting the marriage of Anne of Brittany and Charles VIII in 1491 at the level of the magnificent staircase of honor.

The city of Vannes on the Hôtel de Ville

There you go folks, another dandy in my beautiful capital city of Vannes. Hope you enjoy the post as I. Remind you it can be visited and with a guide to go into the details of it. The Hôtel de Ville of Vannes is on the rue Thiers on the edge of the old town where you can walk into the middle ages and beauty behold you!

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

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July 29, 2021

Houdan in the Yvelines 78, nice!

Now this is off the beaten path town in a vastly popular department 78 Yvelines just west of Paris with the capital city of Versailles! Houdan is south west and worth the detour me think. This is an update of an older post sort of an introduction, and I hope you enjoy as I. This was my old hunting ground…and I have come back as nostalgia sets in always. I have written bits of pieces on it, however, need to tell you more.

I like to tell you about the nice historical city of Houdan. Now I bring you to the heart of the Yvelines; visitors should dare more to come over and out of Paris! This is another example of a town that is not portrayed as Royal, but it is, go figure! .  It is Houdan, 43 km from Versailles. The nice road N12 (free road) passes by the town as well as the Paris Montparnasse direction Granville train line that has stop at Houdan.

The bit of history ,I like tells us that Houdan belongs to the Lords of Montfort from the 10C and later was added to the Duchy of Brittany!!! by marriage. It was disputed between the English and finally entered the Royal domain with the marriage of king Louis XII and Anne of Brittany/Bretagne. Given by king Louis XIV to the Luynes family in exchange for lands closer to Versailles, and stayed with them until the French revolution.

The fair or festival of Saint-Matthieu is done here every year for 2-3 days on the last weekend of September (Saint-Matthieu saint day is Sept 21). It is one of the oldest fairs in Europe with the first one going back to 1065, by the Count Amaury II de Montfort.

If not at the above festival in town, go to see the St James and St Christopher Church or église Saint-Jacques et Saint-Christophe gothic style built in the 15-16C with a renaissance choir, and an organ originally from 1739.  The first church of Houdan, at this site, was built in the 11C under the surname of Saint-Jacques-le-Major (St James the Mayor). It was rebuilt from the beginning of the 16C with the donations of the inhabitants against promises of indulgences. In 1510, the surname of Saint Christopher was added to that of Saint James. Private donation funding explains the length of the work: they ended in the early 18C. With a construction spanning three centuries, the Church of Houdan syncretised the transition from Flamboyant Gothic to Renaissance style. See the tracery of flamboyant style on the windows, and the Renaissance capitals on the pillars of the transept. The transept has only one arm and the upper part of the steeple is missing; probably for lack of funding. The Church of Saint-Jacques-le-Major-Saint-Christophe, 50 meters long, with a fairly stripped interior, is nonetheless worth the visit for its juxtaposition of the various artistic styles, from the gothic walls to the altarpiece of the high altar of 1672, not to mention a 1582 fresco. The canopy is made of white stained glass where fragments of 16C stained glass were inserted, some with a very beautiful greyness.





Also, the tower or donjon very visible as you entered the city by car .It is what remained of the old fortifications been built in the 13C by Count Amaury III de Montfort; a massive tower alone in the western part of the town with 25 meters high and 16 meters of diameter, flank by four smaller towers of 4,8 meters in diameter; it is used today as a water tower.

houdan donjon-fortified-tower-houdan

The Houdan tourist office on the Church

The official Donjon of Houdan webpage:

The Yvelines dept 78 tourist office on Houdan :

This is an overlook town for those visiting the Paris/Versailles corridor and as it is still an off the beaten path area that visitors should try to visit more if can. There is so much to see, I know!!! Anyway, Houdan is nice and lovely city center around the castle and donjon tower, the market right next to the Church all around you! Hope you enjoy the post and Houdan!

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

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July 29, 2021

The Estanque Grande del Parque del Buen Retiro of Madrid!!!

And I take you to my dear beloved Madrid again. Of course , written plenty on this wonderful city, and as well on the Retiro park. This time I like to concentrate on the big pond in it or the Estanque Grande del Buen Retiro in Spanish full name. I like to tell you details of it but mostly its history, as do not want to repeat myself. Here is my take on the Retiro park big pond! OK great news, just name to the Unesco World Heritage list , Parque del Buen Retiro I knew it!!!

The Estanque Grande del Buen Retiro or the Grand Pond of the Good Retreat, popularly known as the Retiro Estanque or Pond, is an extension of an artificial body of water, located in the Retiro Park. It was created in the first half of the 17C as one of the most important landscape elements of the Buen Retiro,an ancient possession of the Spanish Crown arising during the reign of Felipe IV. Its ownership corresponds, since 1868, to the City Of Madrid, as well as the landscaped spaces on which the current public park was formed. With an area of 37 240 m2 and a volume of water of 55 150 m3, it has a jetty that allows recreational navigation and the holding of rowing and canoeing competitions. On its banks are the Monument to Alfonso XII and the Egyptian Fountain.



A bit of history I like

The Estanque Grande was built in the context of the works of the Buen Retiro, a set of palaces and gardens promoted in 1632 by the Count-Duke of Olivares for the enjoyment of King Felipe IV. In its location, it was occupied of a primitive pond, from the time of Felipe II who frequented the old Royal room of the Monastery of the Jeronimos,(see post) around which the Palace of the Buen Retiro would end up forming. According to some historians, it would be the pond that the aforementioned monarch had to make on the occasion of the entry into Madrid of his fourth wife, Queen Anne of Austria , and where a naval battle was staged in her honor. Although there is no written proof of this story, only the thought of historians.

Apart from the playful function that the Estanque Grande would eventually develop, its creation was mainly motivated by the need to have a large water reserve that guaranteed the supply to both the palace and the gardens and fountains. Hence four Ferris wheels were enabled on its banks, which extracted the water for distribution to different points of the complex. In addition to facilitating the practice of fishing, they had a scenic function within the theatrical performances that were held there especially during the reign of Felipe IV. According to the chronicles of the time, one of the most applauded performances was El mayor encanto, amor, or the greatest charm, love, of Calderón de la Barca that was staged in 1635, in the first Estanque Grande, with sketches of Cosme Lotti . Nautical simulations of naval combat were also carried out, using scale-made military ships and artifice fires. They were so numerous that the Royal site came to have its own fleet, integrated not only by military vessels, but also by gondolas and falúas, that made it possible to sail through the pond. In the Museum of Falúas Reales (Royal boats) , in Aranjuez exhibits a golden gondola belonging to this fleet, which King Carlos II commissioned in Naples, in 1686.

Recreational navigation was also practiced in the Rio Grande or El Mallo, a canal that started at the end of the pond and ended, after forming a circle and forking, in the lobbed estuary of San Antonio de los Portugueses (St Anthony of the Portuguese), a hermitage that was located on an artificial island, approximately where today stands the Fountain of the Fallen Angel (Fuente del Angel Caido). The Estanque Grande was surrounded by a lush forest, whose plantation began in 1638 and lasted until 1642. At that time, it should also have been carried out to afforestation of the Rio Grande, with a double row of trees on its edges.  In 1767 King Carlos III allowed public access to the compound, under certain restrictions, and established as a limit of the visits one of the banks of the Estanque Grande. During the War of Independence (1808-1814) the Buen Retiro was used as a barracks of Napoleonic troops, which caused significant damage to both the palace and the gardens, including the pond. With the arrival of king Fernando VII in 1814, its recovery was carried out, while new architectural elements were created The largest, the disappeared Royal Pier, was built in 1817 on the east bank, where the Monument to Alfonso XII is today. On the southern bank was built the Egyptian Fountain, which does stand still today.

During the reign of Fernando VII, the public visit to the gardens was still allowed, except for an area, called El Reservado (the Reserve), which the king took it for his personal enjoyment. In 1867, his daughter Queen Isabel II went a step further and allowed public navigation within the Estanque Grande, by leasing the facilities. In 1867, the boating service was inaugurated, with the assistance of professional rowers, and subsequently the first hotel establishments were opened on the banks. After the Revolution of 1868, which led to the dethroning of Isabel II, the Real Sitio del Buen Retiro (Royal Site of the Good Retreat) passed into the hands of the City Council of Madrid, which would make it a public park, with what the Estanque Grande went on as under municipal management.  In the first two decades of the 20C the physiognomy of the Estanque Grande changed substantially again, as a result of the construction of the Monument to the Spanish Fatherland personified in King Alfonso XII (better known as monument to Alfonso XII) on the shores, right in the place occupied by the Royal jetty. In 1917 the jetty was made that was to be definitive, this time on the northern bank and not on the east, like the previous ones. Six years later, in 1926, the jetty that has arrived to this day was built, as well as the lockers and surveillance posts annexed.

Some interesting facts I like

The Estanque Grande or big pond   has been dried several times throughout its history. This was proceeded in 1964, due to the filming of the film The Fabulous World, where it was used as a stage. In 1982 and 2001 it was emptied again, this time for cleaning, maintenance and repair. In 2001 it had to be waterproofed, since it was losing about 5000 liters a day. In 2001 it was completely emptied to repair it, and when the water disappeared they came to light, among others things , the following treasures: 192 chairs, 40 boats, 41 tables, 20 bins, 9 wooden benches, 3 containers, 19 town hall fences, 50 mobile phones, a gum vending machine, several shopping carts, numerous skateboards and an open empty safe. The Estanque Grande is inhabited by about 8,000 fishes, most of them carp although there are also other species such as catfish or pond perch. It also has other beings such as tortoises or crabs. As for the flora, there are several tree plantations on its banks, belonging to six main species: the false acacia, the white poplar, the chestnut tree of the Indies, the cedar of Lebanon, white eucalyptus and the shade banana trees.



At its deepest point, the pond measures 1.81 meters. Its dimensions are 280 meters long by 140 meters wide. Inside, 55,000 cubic meters of water can fit. During the reign of queen Isabel II, the Paseo de las Estatuas (later christened Argentina) was opened, which touches the west bank with the Puerta de España (Spanish Gate). After the transfer of the Real Sitio to the City of Madrid in 1868, the Avenida de México was inaugurated, which links its northwest angle with the Puerta de la Independencia (Puerta de Alcalà), through the Fuente de los Galapagos. The pond is bounded by four main tracks. The Calle de Nicaragua runs along its west side, while The Plaza del Maestro Villa passes through the back of the Monument to Alfonso XII, marking the eastern flank. To the north extends the Paseo del Estanque and to the south the Paseo de Venezuela.


The tourist office of Madrid on the Estanque Grande of the Retiro park:

Needsless to say as done it in previous blog but for short, I used to lived not far from it and it was  my park; the city limits of Madrid ended there really as the centro was for the visitors and a lot more today. The park has become very popular as well but it is big so all can fit in! My quickest entry was the Puerta de Hernani and the big entrance was at by the Puerta de la Independencia facing the Puerta de Alcalà on Calle de Alcalà ,my street! Memories forever and a must stop by me and now family when in town. It could be your memorable moment too, Retiro Park is awesome!


Hope you enjoy the park and the pond with me many memories that have lasted over the years and with my family too. Estanque Grande del Buen Retiro is sublime, and Madrid awesome! I shall return!!!

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

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July 28, 2021

Chateau de La Roche Guyon!

And this was a historical visit lol! Actually passed by it several times and never got in until one day we had time and finally went in!! It was a memorable visit and we remember fondly especially the garden with my dear late wife Martine. Thereafter we came several times. Therefore, here is my take on the Chateau de La Roche Guyon!

la roche-guyon-chateau-roche-guyon-et-donjon

This is an updated older post. It is always good to have nice memories of the Castle of La Roche Guyon! Let me tell you a bit about La Roche Guyon  in dept 95 Val-d’Oise in the Île-de-France region. Very nicely along the A13 by car, direction from Paris on the autoroute A13 of Normandie, direction Rouen, at Mantes exit 14 take it followed direction Limay than Vétheuil./La Roche Guyon or even better the A15/D14 more scenic out of Paris. We always stop by La Roche Guyon, make it a one two punch hard to resist while driving this beautiful area great for weekends. Here you have the Chateau de la Roche Guyon, the Seine river form an unique turn with a high elevation ideal for a lookout from those invading Normans!

la roche-guyon-close-up-chateau-roche-guyon-on-way-to-giverny

A bit of history I like

In the 3C , the troglodyctives caves, and the local lord Guy eventually gave the name to Roche Guyon. History tell us that from the year 911 , the treaty of Saint Clair sur Epte giving Normandy to the Vikings, the Roche Guyon keeps the limits of the frontier with the French kingdom over the Seine river.  The French revolution has a tragic and bloody event here, as the owner of the castle was Louis Alexandre de La Rochefoucauld, he was very close to the ideals of the American Revolution and translate to French all the articles of the constitution of the States of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina with first editions in 1778.  He along with the Marquis de Lafayette, joined the estates generals and guided in principles the avenants of the French revolution, elected President of the department of Paris in 1791. Aftet the revolutionaries turn against him for fear of his democratic ideals, he take refuge with his wife and mother at  Forges-les-Eaux where he hides there but in september 4, 1792 while doing a carriage transfer at Gisors he is arrested and massacre by stoning while his mother and wife looks on in disbelief.  More than 1000 are taken prisioners there and killed, the mother the Duchess of Enville is spare with the daughter in law by the intervention of the local people who appreciated their support. She died in Paris in 1797 and the grandson continues with the property of Roche Guyon which eventually passes to his heir, the Cardinal Rohan. Some renovation is done to preserve the castle from lack of care in years later.

Then WWII starts, from 1940 the village is occupied by the nazis, and on 1943 a civil defense field  created.  In February 1944, marshal Rommel established his command HQ in the Château de La Roche-Guyon.  The town is liberated the 8 august 1944 after 8 bombs hits the Chateau , taking about 20 yrs to make it back to how it was before the war.


The castle and gardens are now open.  The visit is done following the terraces, then along and inside the salons or rooms, then the circuit of donjons /towers, and chapels, then the casements. Dont forget to visit the gardens just in front of castle towards the Seine river.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The official Château de La Roche Guyon:

The town La Roche Guyon on the castle in French:

There you go folks, hope you enjoy the ride, it is a historical nice place to visit and the views over the garden and into the  Seine river are sublime. Enjoy La Roche Guyon!

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

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