Archive for July 3rd, 2021

July 3, 2021

The Churches of Auray!

And on this wonderful tour of updating my older posts and including some new ones in the new era of travel I come to my first main city when moving to the beautiful Morbihan dept 56 of my lovely Bretagne. This was Auray, a town still very much visited and enjoy. I did a post sort of an introduction to the churches of Auray. I like to update it trying not to repeat the pictures I have in the many other posts on Auray in my blog. Hope you enjoy it as I.

I take you to the churches of Auray on a Sunday.  In France we have thousands, and Brittany leads the way been one of the most if not the most traditional region of France. I happened to have inititally lived here in Auray a historical town of many nations and with plenty of churches. I have written many posts on Auray and bits on them, but believe a full post on just the Churches is merité n’est pas? So,therefore, here they are the Churches of Auray! I moved but only by 12 km (about 7 miles) lol!

The town is surrounded by the towns of Crac’h to the south and west, Brech to the north, and Pluneret to the east. It is crossed by a small coastal river, the Auray river, which leads into the Gulf of Morbihan. The port of Saint-Goustan is at the bottom of the valley, east of the river. The port of Saint-Goustan is at the origin of the city. It is located on the Auray river, at the most upstream point that can reach the sea ships with the help of the tide. It received high seas vessels until the 19C. It was, also a port of cargo active in the direction of Spain and Great Britain. Its decline as a trading port with the arrival of the railway in 1862. Today it is a marina and a stopover of the tourist circuit of the tour of the Gulf of Morbihan

Auray is a place name, originating from a Breton name of a person, mentioned for the first time in 1069, Alrae, then in 1168 Alrai, in Breton An Alré. The national road N165 Vannes-Lorient bypass the center of Auray by the north. In 1989, the construction of the Kerplouz viaduct on the N 165 (voie express) in 4 lanes above the Auray river downstream of Saint-Goustan removes the agglomeration of transit traffic. The train station of Auray is located more than two km north of the city center. This is the station that I took  and later Vannes on my trips to Paris-Montparnasse via TGV.

What Churches are in Auray? well several and will start with the main one. 

The Church of St Gildas (see posts) owes its name to a 12C priory which depends on the Benedictine abbey of the Rhuys Peninsula. The work started in 1623 ,it bears the date of 1636 on the three gables and was consecrated in 1641 ,but is only completed in 1663. This Church is a sober building, except for the two porches of Renaissance and Baroque style.  The whole dates from the 17C 18C, 19C and Baroque style .Located at Place Gabriel Deshayes.

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The Chapelle du Saint-Esprit (Holy Spirit). 13C, it is the last vestige of the commandery of the Order of the Holy Spirit of Montpellier. In the 14C, this convent and hospitable house of the Holy Spirit at Auray would have become one of the principals of France, with, under its authority, some fifty foundations. In 1762, Pope Clement XIII abolished the order of the Holy Spirit. The city installed the headquarters of the General Hospital, then, in 1790, a military hospital. At the beginning of the 19C, what remained of the buildings was transformed into a permanent barracks. Important works transformed the chapel as seen before the restoration of 1990-1994. It will take the name of Duguesclin Barracks. The present restitution allows this building to regain its original volumes: a single vessel with five bays and a flat bedside ; an unusual silhouette in Brittany. It is a site of many cultural presentation exhibits etc today. Located at Place du Four Mollet. The Morbihan dept 56 tourist board on the chapel: https://www.morbihan.com/auray/chapelle-du-saint-esprit/tabid/12562/offreid/7e87038d-cd73-49e0-a688-32991827b894

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Chapelle du Père Éternel (Chapel of the Eternal Father). This Chapel is the last testimony of the convent built from 1644 to welcome the Franciscan sisters. They arrive at Auray in the early 17C to hold a girls’ school. Hunted in 1792 during the French Revolution, the convent and thus the Chapel are abandoned and serve different uses. These monuments retook their original function in 1807 with the arrival of the Sisters of Charity of St. Louis. The Chapel contains beautiful 18C carved panelling and stalls. Located at Rue du Pére Eternel.

The Chapelle Sainte-Hélène , built in the 15C is one of the oldest monuments in the city of Auray. It is known in the course of history under four names: Chapel of Notre-Dame, name under which she was blessed; Chapel of the hospital, in reference to the hotel Dieu which it served; Chapel of the Augustines, name from the hospital nuns in charge of the sick; and Chapelle Sainte-Hélène, name given by the locals to their Chapel. This Chapel contains beautiful 18C carved stalls from the Chartreuse de Brec’h, a 19C altarpiece and woodwork. Open all year round ; Daily from 9h to 12h and from 14h to 17h30, except Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. It holds a Pardon on August 21st at 18h each year. Located at Rue Georges Clemenceau.

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Ancient Chapel of the Congregation of men at auray. Its full name is Chapel of the Brothers of the Congregation of Men of the Immaculate Conception . It’s dated from 1672. Only the front is original. Pious craftsmen gathered there to pray to the Virgin. Before going out, observe the Tribune and its central panel. You will see the Rapture of Saint Paul , a work performed around 1672-1678 by Antoine de Bray a Parisian decorator who adorned several halls of the parliament of Brittany in Rennes. Today it welcomes the tourist office, at rue du Lait.

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The Church Charles de Blois (see posts)  begun to be built in 1929, and consecrated in 1939. Built according to a centered plan, the Church consists of a first vessel that opens onto a wider square space where the cult takes place. The wrong side is adjacent to the west.   Access to the Church is done in the east. It is a gabled façade adorned with Lombard strips. It consists of a portal in full hanger topped with a rose, and has to its left a small steeple. The main steeple is to the west of the building, it is a Cornish steeple. The roof of the building is polygonal on its central part and double slope for the remainder. The side walls are pierced with berries. The district of the train station quickly populated at the beginning of the 20C, a Church became necessary. Léon Chevassu, rector of the parish, decides to built it with private donations. And it is done very nice you can see from the train station of Auray. Located at Place Léon Chevassu.

Need to tell you the story of Charles of Blois was the son of Marguerite de Valois, sister of the king of France Philip VI, great-granddaughter, therefore, of Saint Louis, who had just been placed on the altars. His father, Guy de Châtillon, Count of Blois, was as good a Christian as brave Knight. The old chronicles point out that everything was serious, almost severe in his castle; One could have believed in a monastery rather than in the abode of a lord.  On the conflicts of the War of Succession of Brittany, the quarrels got first to an arbirtration by the king of France. King Philip VI convened his parliament in an extraordinary assembly. In July 1341, the ecclesiastical and secular peers were gathered in the united commission, presided over by the bishops of Noyon and Langres, who travelled to Brittany to study the customs of the country on the spot. The final judgment, after hearing counsel for both parties, was rendered on September 7, 1341. The right of representation was law in Brittany, Jeanne de Penthièvre, daughter of the elder brother of Jean III, inherited from her uncle by him, Charles of Blois was Duke of Brittany!!! The opposing Jean de Montfort did not wish to submit to this sentence, and the war was declared and lasted for more than twenty years!. The death in combat at the Battle of Auray of Charles de Blois ended it. On December 14, 1904, Pope Pius X solemnly recognized that the cult of blessed Charles of Blois had been maintained throughout the centuries. He was beatified then.

Another nice one I go often for visits is the Church of Saint-Sauveur (see post) located in the Saint-Goustan district of Auray. The Church, whose origin dates back to the 15C (c 1469), was largely destroyed by a fire in 1886. Rebuilt, the Church retains the original portal only.  Although the Church is under the term of Saint-Sauveur, the district is under the protection of Saint-Goustan, the patron of sailors and fishermen. Saint Goustan was born in Cornwall in 974. Kidnapped by pirates at 18 years old, wounded, he is abandoned on the island of Houat (Gulf of Morbihan) where he owes life only to Providence which provides him with fish which he uses sparingly and which each day reconstitutes (hence his legend and his representation with a fish) and the cures of St Felix, who will convert him to Christianity. He became a monk in 1025, and founded a priory on the island of Hoëdic. He rests with his friars monks in the abbey of Saint Gildas de Rhuys.(see post). On the picture below St Sauveur is on the left hand side.

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On the other side of the street stands the Notre-Dame de Lourdes Chapel  (see post) of 1878, closed, given a certain fragility. The construction of the Chapel Notre-Dame de Lourdes takes place from the winter of 1874-1875 and probably continues until 1878 (vintage of stained glass) or 1879 (the blessing by the Bishop taking place in November 1879). Victim of a fire in 1886, the structural failures leave it in disrepair.  In a Gothic style it was restored by 2020 and now open to the public again. On the picture above it is the one on the right hand side.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and worth the detour are:

The city of Auray on its heritage circuits in French: https://www.auray.fr/Ma-ville/Patrimoine/Circuits-du-patrimoine

The city of Auray on its monuments with map in French: https://www.auray.fr/Ma-ville/Patrimoine/Les-monuments-historiques

The Baie de Quiberon tourist office on Aurayhttps://www.baiedequiberon.co.uk/auray

The Bretagne tourist board on Saint Goustan district of Aurayhttps://www.brittanytourism.com/destinations/the-10-destinations/southern-brittany-morbihan-gulf/auray-port-of-saint-goustan/

There you go folks, a hugely historical city for USA and Canada as well. A gorgeous old upper city center and a magnificent district of St Goustan in the lower city! Direct trains from Montparnasse Paris , superb! Enjoy it, this is Auray.

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

July 3, 2021

Let me tell you about Pontivy, and its Castle!!!

Ok so now bringing you back to my area in my beautiful Morbihan dept 56 of my lovely Bretagne ,and my belle France! This is up the alley from me and not only visited and several posts in my blog but one of my sons worked and lived here. Therefore, let me tell you about Pontivy, and its Castle!!!

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And in my quest to showcase not only the best of France ,which is a lot, but my new region of Brittany, and especially my home department 56 of Morbihan , let me take you back to the north. Again, to remark, my Morbihan is the only department in France that is not a French word or meaning! It is completely Breton language, mor=sea bihan=small or small sea in French would be petite mer. Ok

I have come to Pontivy a few times and even one of my son had a job there for a while so we visit him as needed  as he stayed in an apartment there.  It is a nice town very much with the imperial family in fact for a while it was called Napeleonville!  However, as many things to see and written, the main thing here and indeed worth a detour is the Castle of Pontivy by the Blavet river.  The Château de Pontivy , called Château des Rohan, was built in the 15C and 16C by the family of Rohan.

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An ancient feudal castle that belongs to the family of Porhoët, as mentioned in the 12C along the Blavet river, below the current castle. This Castle of the Halls was besieged in November 1342 by the English troops of William of Bohain, Lieutenant of King Edward III, during the war of Succession. Probably ruined by the assaults it had to support, the castle is abandoned. After this war of Succession, the Viscounts of Rohan decided to make Pontivy the chief place of their quasi-principality. In 1456, the site was given to the Cordeliers who built their monastery there. Viscount John II of Rohan (Count of Porhoët, son-in-law of Duke Francis I of Brittany, who opposed Duke Francis II and governor of Brittany for Charles VIII), wanted to build a new fortress through the drudgery regime (free labor). He built the present castle between 1479 and 1485 on a new site easterly which probably encompasses that of John I of Rohan, his great-grandfather: He made to dig a large trench on the flanks of a hill controlling the main access to the village, indented of the Blavet river, and which dominates the city to the east.

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In 2014, following heavy rainfall due to the Petra storm, a part of the south curtain ramparts and tower collapses . While restoration continue and doing some preventive archaeology operations , it was reveal in particular two former furnaces in the courtyard; one the Great Oven which could match a bread oven while the small oven could have been used as a baking oven. The renovations continue..

The architecture that I like

The irregular quadrangular plane of about 90 meters by 75 meters of the castle, flanked by four circular corner towers connected by a 20 meters high curtain, remains traditional. The thickness of the walls reached in places more than 5 meters wide, in order to withstand the progress of the artillery and the firing of the cannons. The apparatus is shale up to the height of the Breton machicolations carved in granite. On the floor of the crenulated and covered round road were added at the beginning of the 16C of skylights with acute pediments. Access to the inner courtyard is through a sleeping bridge that replaced the two drawbridges thrown on the moats never filled with water. The counterscarp was levelled at the beginning of the 20C, the land thus recovered having served to bridge the gap.

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Only two bodies of dwelling remain, west and north sides. The residential wing at the western façade is flanked by two large towers in machicolations, topped with peppers, of the four that probably included the enclosure. Several statues of Saints such as the Virgin to heavens, Saint Maurice on horseback, St. Catherine, Saint Germain, Sainte Marguerite, Saint Isidore, Saint Louis and Saint John the Baptist, originating in the Chapel of Saint-Laurent in Moustoir-Remungol , are displayed in this gallery. This Gallery the lordships residence in the north is reworked in the 18C. It is adorned with sedentary pediments and a double Louis XV style staircase and a wrought iron ramp. A niche under this staircase of honor houses the statue of Saint-Mériadec (favorite Saint of the Dukes of Rohan) which was carried out in the 3rd quarter of the 20C in the east, the original housing body was transformed into an artillery terrace in the 18C, then a pleasure garden. You can visit the Guard room, the rooms on the first floor overlooking the round road, the ducal room with the beautiful ceiling and the chapel. Especially notice the two stone chimneys in polychrome and armor, from the 16C, from the castle of Coët-Candec in Locmaria-Grand-Champ. (even closer to me).

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A bit more on the history I like

The castle belongs to the family of Rohan who stayed there irregularly until the end of the 18C. Thereafter, the castle is successively occupied by: the sub-prefecture and the courtroom of the civil court of Pontivy (1800-1839); General Bernadotte, commander-in-chief of the Western Army (later appointed by Napoleon king of the Swedes and Norwegians!) (see post on native house museum in Pau) in charge of combating the Chouans (local farmers who fought against the French revolution for the king and region), installed his headquarters (May-June 1801); The Sisters of Kermaria, who created a school and a boarding schools for girls (1841-1884); A Breton museum founded by Jérôme Le Brigand in the late 19C; La Garde Saint-Ivy (sports Club of the city), the Scouts of France, some local families were housed in the west gallery, then severed in several rooms in the 1st half of the 20C with interruption in 1939-1940; During WWII, the Polish troops and then Autonomists Breton (June-September 1940). In 1953, Madame de Rohan rented it to the town of Pontivy by a lease of 99 years for a symbolic French Franc ,assuming all the charges of the owner. The town of Pontivy is then responsible for the maintenance, restoration and valorisation of the castle. In December 2014, in view of the particular context associated with the collapse of the courtship ramparts towers (due to Petra storm)  and the amount of restorations supported by the municipality would have to endure, Duke Josselin of Rohan agreed to cede his property to the city which became its owner on 16 October 2015. It still has some private rooms ,but most is open to the public.

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Some webpages to help your plan your visit here which is worth the detour are:

The city of Pontivy on the castle: https://ville-pontivy.bzh/decouvrir/histoire-patrimoine/le-chateau-des-rohan/

The greater community of Pontivy on its heritage: https://en.tourisme-pontivycommunaute.com/Discover/Visit-Pontivy

And one more thing to know about my area ,and a lot more about France than on the travel books. Or rather, a bit more on Bretagne/Brittany or Breizh

The Rohan Castle is the place of the aborted declaration of independence of Brittany during the creation of the Breton National Committee by the members of the Breton National Party in July 1940. The Breton National Council, a representative body of the Bretons, concerned with the collective good and the honor of their people, would act at the time chosen by it to endow Brittany with a national state, in its natural setting and in the spirit of its tradition, in order that it could finally live in an organized nation, free of its aspirations and owner of its interests   and that the international status of the Breton state, the nature of its relations with France and Germany would be defined by agreements, freely discussed in the the possibilities offered by the new general Conditions. The Castle was the headquarters of Lu Brezhon, the embryo of the Breton National Army created by Breton nationalist Celestine Laine in the wake of the creation of the Breton National Committee in 1940. Voilà!

There you go folks, a huge historical place in my lovely Brittany, and I hope you enjoy this post as much as I. Brittany is full of history ,architecture, customs and thrills and of course the very good Breton cuisine. And a wonderful Rohan castle too!

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

July 3, 2021

The Paseo de Recoletos de Madrid!!!

For some reason, do not ask me why I left this street spot in my dear Madrid out of a post, pity. One big wide nice boulevard with so many wonderful things to see. I like to bring it out of the closet /armory and tell you a bit on the Paseo de Recoletos de Madrid!! 

I like to continue the saga of my MADRID! It is said, that once biten by its virus you never want to leave, well i did but always come back to it. Madrid has a lot to offer and often overlooked! I like to change you a bit ….  Today, I will talk about a simple spot that will make you fall in love with Madrid. The Paseo de Recoletos of Madrid.

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Where can I start, you will notice , I am not a writer or poet or even into long verses for most of my posts even if sometimes an exception is made. I try to be short and to the point, these are all places that I have enjoyed since youthful days of early teen years and really find it hard to describe all my love for them. But , lets start shall we…

The Paseo de Recoletos is an avenue of 700 meters rising very slightly, from south to north, and from Plaza de Cibeles to Plaza de Colón. It is part of the boulevards of the central axis of the city, which extends north as Paseo de la Castellana , and south as a Paseo del Prado. its the place where the National Library of Spain and the Archaeological museum of Spain were built ,and currently there.

It had its origin in the ravine formed by the Arroyo de la Fuente Castellana, which furrowed it, and as a continuation of the primitive walk of the old Prado of San Jerónimo and its extension to the Puerta de Atocha (what is now the Paseo del Prado). The Paseo de Recoletos took its name from the convent of the Order of the Augustinian Recollects, whose ensemble was built in the area between 1592 and 1595, and in what was formerly the town of Valnegral, in lands of Eufrasia de Guzmán , Princess of Ascoli. The Alameda ended at the Puerta de Recoletos, a Baroque-style gate built under the reign of king Fernando VI in 1756 and dismantled in 1863. It was alternately known as El Prado Nuevo and Recoletos or Prado de Recoletos.

In the second half of the 18C king Carlos III undertook a series of reforms, among which was the modernization of Madrid to bring it to the height of the famous big cities of the time such as Paris. In this modernization plan; the Neptune Fountain (see post) was included. It was made with white marble from Montesclaros (Toledo). The fountain stands on a large circular pylon in whose center is the figure of Neptune, God of the sea, one of the twelve divinities of Olympus, is the son of Saturn and Rea, and brother of Jupiter. It is presented with a snake curled in the right hand and the trident in the left, erect on a cart formed by a shell pulled by two sea horses with fish tail. Around the car swim seals and dolphins that throw jets of water at a high altitude. The god of the waters could be a symbol of the Navy that king Carlos III reformed to make it more competitive and strengthen the nexus with the colonies.

Aristocrats who had a house in this promenade (Paseo), among them them the Duchy of Sesto; some neighbors who were born, lived or died in Recoletos, were the painter José Villegas Cordero, Ramón del Valle Inclán, Juan Valera or the Andromaca that José Vilches sculpted in 1853,in Rome, and previously held at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid. The gatherings of the café Teide, the literary home of César González Ruano and the Café Gijón, still open( very nice place to chat) at the beginning of the 21C, remain in memory.  It should also be remembered the presence in the second half of the 21C of the Libreria-Galeria Buchholz , cradle of the almost fictitious school of Madrid, or of installations like the Museum of Wax of Madrid, inaugurated in 1972 at the No 41.(see post ).

Some of the best known buildings to marvel at their architecture and chic styles in the Paseo de Recoletos are:

Palace of Linares or Palace of the Marquis of Linares, next to Cibeles, built in 1873 today the headquarters of the Casa de America.  (see post) The Palace of Library and National Museums, finished in 1892, in which they are, in the facade that gives to Paseo de Recoletos, the National Library of Spain (see post). In the opposite façade, in Calle Serrano, is the National Archaeological Museum of Spain (see post). The Palace of the Marquis of Salamanca, built between 1846 and 1855 ; the Convent of San Pascual , originally from the 17C, but demolished and rebuilt in the 19C. The Palace of the Duke of Elduayen, built between 1890 and 1895. The Palace of the Duchess of Medina de las Torres, between 1881 and 1884. The Palacio de López Dóriga and Salaverria, built towards 1872. The Palace of the Marquis of Alcañices, also known as of the Duke of Sesto, of 1862 . the building Restaura , formerly of the Insurance L’Union, in the numbers 18-20. And the building of the insurance company La Aurora, at number 4.

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The Madrid tourist office on Paseo de Recoletos: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/paseo-de-recoletos

There you go folks another dandy spot in my dear Madrid. A nice trip up and down one of the best arteries of my beloved Madrid. The walk on Paseo de Recoletos is awesome just keep going north from the Prado museum!! Hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

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