Archive for July 18th, 2021

July 18, 2021

Château de Villandry, the castle!!

And we went back to the valley of the kings and the wonderful castles of my belle France. We have been to them when even visiting France but has taken me many years to be back; this was as good as any time to do this. We first went to the Château de Villandry and then the Château de Langeais! Let’s continue the tour with several posts,and now the Château de Villandry, the castle! Hope you enjoy it as we!

A bit of history I like

The Château de Villandry is a complex interweaving architecture and gardens. The last of the great palaces that were built on the banks of the Loire in the 16C, (1536) the castle brings a final touch to the research of the First French Renaissance. Throughout the Middle Ages and until the beginning of the 17C, the domain of Villandry is called Coulombiers or Colombiers and is none other than the seat of a castellany under the castle of Tours. The fortified castle of Colombiers (Villandry) remains, at this time, typical of the constructions carried out by the lords of the village. However, the primary function of this fortress and the will of this regional power is not to protect the population but to dominate it. This is why this 12C castle only defends the power of the Lord. It is in this medieval fortress of Villandry that on July 4, 1189, the “Peace of Colombiers” (Villandry) took place , during which Henry II Plantagenêt, King of England, came before Philip Augustus, King of France, to acknowledge his defeat. This treaty not only marks the conquest of Touraine by the King of France but also an essential stage in the triumph of the Capetian monarchy over the great feudal lords, foremost among them the Plantagenets, including the immense French domain nicknamed “the Plantagenet Empire. It then included Normandy, Brittany, Maine, Touraine, Anjou, Poitou and Aquitaine.  It was then that undergoing the fate of most buildings of the classical Middle Ages (11-13C), the fortified castle of Villandry was modified for the first time after the Hundred Years War in a new search for comfort and lifestyle. The completely new multiplication of crown ornaments and the boring of numerous windows in the curtain walls of this fortified castle, then convey a new notion of luxury. Today all that remains of the medieval building are the foundations and the 12C keep, modified in the 14C, which we can still guess, included, in one of the wings of the main courtyard.

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An important event took place on July 23, 1754, when Michel-Ange de Castellane bought the domain of Villandry. This French diplomat, from one of the oldest and illustrious families in Provence, was not only a brigadier of the king’s armies but also French ambassador to the Sublime Porte from 1741 to 1747. While the title of marquisate was extinguished , the last marquis of Villandry, the lordship was set up as a county in March 1758 for the benefit of Michel-Ange de Castellane.  The 18C saw the great works of Michel-Ange de Castellane such as the corner pavilion on the terrace (circa 1754). Located at the entrance to the estate, the Audience pavilion, a transition-style folly (mid-18C). The so-called “moat” room (modified in the 19C). The dining room   (modified in 1811 by Jérôme Bonaparte).   The outbuildings and the orangery (circa 1754). The pond in the jardin d’eau or water garden replacing one of the Renaissance vegetable gardens. And. the French-style flowerbeds of the water garden (mid-18C).

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This to continue with perhaps even the best period of the Belle Époque with the resurrection of the castle of Villandry by Joachim Carvallo. He enhance the castle with amongst other things the children’s room (early 20C). Joachim Carvallo’s bedroom (early 20C). Mudejar ceiling recovered during the demolition of the palace of the Dukes of Maqueda in Toledo (13C). It has the central motif of the Mudejar ceiling of the Palace of the Dukes of Maqueda in Toledo. Seated dwarf inspired by Vélasquez, Goya school (early 19C). Christ on the cross, school of Van Dyck (1620/50). La Jeune Malade, (young sick) Goya school (early 19C). The 15C Ottoman turban helmet, in damascened steel, decorated with a long calligraphic headband in the 19C.

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But in my opinion and of many others, the best most glorious contribution of Mr Carvallo was the gardens. While threatened with demolition, the castle was finally bought at the end of 1906 by Dr. Joachim Carvallo and his wife Ann Coleman, extremely wealthy heiress to great American steelmakers, great-grandparents of the current owners.. The Spanish doctor decides to abandon his brilliant scientific career in order to devote most of his time and money to returning the Villandry castle to its original state, that of the Renaissance. In particular, Joachim had the gardens reconstructed between 1908 and 1916, based on the Monasticon Gallicanum and the old boards and texts by the architect Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, dealing with a Renaissance garden typical of the 16C as he wanted to return Villandry to its authenticity. Today the castle is still furnished with several Spanish pieces of furniture and an interesting collection of paintings from different schools dominated by the pupils of Francisco de Goya and Antoine van Dyck. On the ground floor, the grand staircase with a wrought iron banister leads to the gallery of paintings and the room with the Mozarabic ceiling from Toledo (13C). Joachim Carvallo devotes the rest of his life to the restoration of Villandry and has been resting since the 15th March 1936 in the lordship vault of the Saint-Étienne Church in Villandry (see post). The doctor was also the founder, in 1924, of the first French association for the defense of private monumental heritage, La Demeure historique, bringing together the owners of historic castles; he was a pioneer in opening these monuments to the public. The current heirs continue the work of their grandfather and maintain with the same passion the castle and its gardens open to the public since 1920, thus preserving the family aspect which characterizes the residence since its construction in 1532. The current owner, Henri Carvallo , is the great-grandson of Ann and Joachim!

The official Château de Villandry: http://: https://www.chateauvillandry.fr/en/

The Touraine Val de Loire on cultural heritage such as the Château de Villandryhttps://www.touraineloirevalley.com/patrimoine-culturel/chateau-et-jardins-de-villandry-villandry/

A bit personal on the tour I took alone in the castle of Villandry! You start by the Vestibule and the miniature model of the castle room tracing the owners of the castle and their contributions. You then move on to the Salon and Cabinet de Travail or working office room, from where the donjon starts and the peace of Villandry was made (see above).Moving on to the salle à manger or dining room in the 18C style; the cuisine or kitchen . You move up to the first floor (2nd fl US) and the chambre or bedroom of prince Jerôme younger brother of Napoléon 1er who was owner of the castle for a few years in the first empire. You arrive at the chambre de Joachim Carvallo or bedroom with a great view on his gardens. Follow up with the Bibliothéque or library with works and items belonging to Joaquim and Ann Carvallo. You reach the chambre du potager or vegetable garden room with great views over the vegetable garden. Thereafter the chambre des douves or moat room styled from the 18C and was the bedroom of Mrs Carvallo (Ann Coleman) with portraits of 3 of the 6 children of the couple done by vendéen painter Charles Milcendeau. You arrive at the wonderful galerie de peintures or painting gallery with many from Spanish masters of realism and many with religious motifs. You can’t missed the salon oriental taken from the palace of the dukes of Maqueda built in the 15C in Toledo Spain. The ceiling has 3600 pieces in polychrome wood requiring a year’s work. The portraits are of Michel Ange de Castellane while he was ambassador of France to the ottoman gate present day Turkey working for king Louis XV. On the 2nd fl (3rd US) you have the chambres des enfants or children’s bedrooms, and eventually reaching the Donjon showing the visit of king François Ier to Villandry castle in January 17, 1543. Here they are shown temporary galleries of artists showcasing the nature and the gardens to end your visit in the boutique. voilà  ,wonderful castle indeed.

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There you go folks a wonderful and beautiful Villandry castle!! All about 3 hrs from our home which can be done in a day!! We got the hang of it and will be back for more castles which we love in natural setting with great food and wines of my belle France. Hope you enjoy the post as I did telling you about it.

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

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July 18, 2021

A visit to Villandry and its castle!!!

And we went back to the valley of the kings and the wonderful castles of my belle France. We have been to them when even visiting France but has taken me many years to be back; this was as good as any time to do this. We first went to the Château de Villandry and then the Château de Langeais! Let’s start the tour of several posts on a general overview of Villandry shall we! Hope you enjoy it as we!

Villandry is located in the department of Indre-et-Loire, no 37 in the Centre-Val de Loire region. It is located at 250 km from Paris, and 16 km from Tours. In the heart of the Loire-Anjou-Touraine regional natural park. It is bordered by the Loire river, on the left bank and crossed by the Cher river, the confluence of the two rivers being in the north-west of the town. The name of the town is attested in the forms Columbarium in 852 , and Colombiers was the first name of Villandry and means: “pigeon trees”.

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A historical important event took place here as on July 4, 1189, “La Paix de Colombiers” or peace of Colombiers(Villandry)  was signed in the castle. It was there that Henry II Plantagenêt, King of England, came before Philippe Auguste, King of France, to recognize his defeat.

The best here is the car, and we came by the A11 and A85 to exit 8 Villandry and exit 7 is Langeais, even if we took the D57 to get to the latter . The bus network is served every day of the week, from Monday to Saturday. The Line 32 serves the Lycée Grandmont. It has a direct connection to tramway A at the Fac 2 Lions station in Tours. The train: line 29 Tours-Chinon (Druye station stop) and line 28 Tours-Saumur (Savonnières station stop).

The main things to see here as per yours truly are the Château de Villandry, a wonderful complex interweaving architecture and gardens. The Saint-Etienne (St Stephens) Church. The church is dedicated to Saint Etienne, the first martyr. And La Pierre aux Joncs, a menhir located in Bois Lureau. Dating  from  3500 BC., it testifies to the presence of prehistoric men in the Loire region.

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And we had our lunch at the Resto L’Epicerie Gourmande, 6 rue de la Mairie. A wonderful experience!!

In the heart of Villandry,near the mayor’s office, the Epicerie Gourmande invites you to discover its tea room, its “natural” wine bar, its restaurant, as well as its shop where taped apples and pears, honey, jams, gingerbread, cookies and confectionery, but also perfumes and wellness products for the body and the home are in the spotlight. It is the meeting place for gourmets. A large choice of wines or teas … which you will find on your plate with a wide choice of cold meats or cheeses, tapas, salads, omelets, pancakes … Only homemade that delights our taste buds. The decor is warm with a large fireplace. Finally, it is possible to sleep on site (double or family room).

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Located a few meters from the Château de Villandry, in a building dating from the 16C, Maryline and Marion will welcome you by a fireplace, or on sunny days, on the shaded terrace. We were welcome by Marion and had the terrace for us and our dog Rex!

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We had 3 galette ham goat cheese ementhal cheese and eggs, 2 dish of the day camembert cheese melted with greens salad, baked potatoes and smoked bacon. All wash down with a local white wine of Nicolas Page Chenin Mélodie 2020 Touraine Azay-le-Rideau….. and for dessert a home made lemon tart with meringue that was awesome; well the whole was and of course finish with a expresso coffee all for 25 euros per person just right! We shall return!!!

The Epicerie Gourmande webpage: http://www.epicerie-gourmande-villandry.fr/

The town of Villandry on its heritage: https://www.villandry.fr/tourisme.html#patrimoine-de-villandry-leglise-saint-etienne

There you go folks a wonderful entry into beautiful Villandry and its castle gardens!All about 3 hrs from our home which can be done in a day!! We got the hang of it and will be back for more castles which we love in natural setting with great food and wines of my belle France. Hope you enjoy the post as I did telling you about it.

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

July 18, 2021

The War Remnants Museum , Ho Chi Minh City!

I am glad got this one out of the hat to update this educational old post on the War Remnants Museum of Ho Chi Minh City! Let me tell you a bit more about it and hope you enjoy it as I.

I have come to Vietnam several times in the last few years, and always a nice welcome. The impressive country knowing of all the wars there is amazing the recuperation of its landscapes. I have touch briefly on it but believe need to expand a bit more on this museum in Ho Chi Minh City, the the War Remnants Museum .

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I visited the War Remnants Museum , this is a must to understand the war from French colonial and especially from the American intervention, with portraits, maps, weapons ,and real remnants of airplanes, helicopters, tanks, machine guns like the 107 mm huge; tracing the history of cooperation and support for the Vietnam liberation.  You take it as you know it. It is well worth the visit. 

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The War Remnants Museum ,first opened to the public in 1975. Once known as the Museum of American War Crimes, it’s a shocking reminder of the long Vietnam War.  Graphic photographs and American military equipment are on display. There’s a helicopter with rocket launchers, a tank, a fighter plane, a single-seater attack aircraft. You can also see a conventional bomb that weighs at 6,800kg. American troops had used these weapons against the Vietnamese between 1965 and 1975.

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Operated by the Vietnamese government, an earlier version of this museum opened on September 4, 1975, as the Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes. It was located in the former United States Information Agency building. In 1990, the name was changed to Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Aggression, dropping both U.S. and Puppet. In 1995, following the normalization of diplomatic relations with the United States and end of the US embargo a year before (the war dead were forgotten), the references to war crimes and aggression were dropped from the museum’s title as well, and it became the War Remnants Museum as of today.

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The most talked-about exhibits at the War Remnants Museum are the tiger cages. The South Vietnamese government kept their political prisoners in these confinements.  Locals believe the cages imprisoned up to 14 people at a time. The museum also has a guillotine brought in by the French government. Both the French and South Vietnamese used it to execute their prisoners until 1960. The museum comprises a series of themed rooms in several buildings, with period military equipment placed within a walled yard.  Other exhibits include graphic photography, accompanied by a short text in English, Vietnamese and Japanese, covering the effects of Agent Orange and other chemical defoliant sprays, the use of napalm and phosphorus bombs, and war atrocities such as the My Lai massacre.

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The War Remnants Museum is currently one of the most popular museums in Vietnam. The War Remnants Museum is a war museum at 28 Vo Van Tan, corner with Le Quy Don Streets, in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City (old Saigon).

The official webpage of the War Remnants Museum is here: http://warremnantsmuseum.com/

The Vietnam tourist office on must things to see in HCMC including this museumhttps://vietnam.travel/things-to-do/7-must-see-attractions-hcmc

There you go folks, something that needs to be told and visit and you make your own conclusion. Its part of the historically politically correct traveller in me. The War Remnants Museum is all that and more. Hope you enjoy the post!

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

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July 18, 2021

Church of St Pierre of Plougastel-Daoulas!

And love to update this older post for you and me. If you read my blog, you know we came here on our road warrior trips to know Plougastel-Daoulas and were surprise. We like this little town and the resto we had lunch so much we came back an even celebrated my boys birthdays there!! However, plenty already in my blog, this one is on the sublime  Church of St Pierre of Plougastel-Daoulas! Hope you enjoy it as I.

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And I sticking around the area to take you to another off the beaten path of my lovely Brittany. This time is a wonderful town of many nice memories for my family. We first came to Plougastel-Daoulas on a rainy day and had lunch where we met the owners and try a delicious African chicken dish from Senegal. To our surprise the city is full of memorable places to see and it must be seen.  Plougastel-Daoulas is in the dept 29 of Finistère in Bretagne. It is a town in the Brest harbor, located on a peninsula in the southeast of the city, which is separated by the mouth of the Élorn. The town is part of the former bishopric of Cornouaille. Plougastel-Daoulas remained very isolated, the Élorn being an obstacle to its relations with the Bishopric of Leon and especially with Brest. Before the construction of the Albert-Louppe Bridge in 1930, only one ferry allowed to cross the estuary starting from the place called the Passage to lead to a place of the same name located on the current town of Relecq-Kerhuon. The WWI painfully strikes Plougastel, and in 1944, a parachute unit of the 3rd Parachute Fighter Regiment, was parachuted into the Plougastel-Daoulas area as part of Operation Derry to open the way to the 8th US Army Corps, commanded by General Troy Middleton, responsible for taking Brest, to support the local resistance and to avoid the destruction of the Plougastel bridge. The Task force  “B ” continued its advance and showing a very high attack power clearing the Plougastel Peninsula on August 30, 1944.

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The parish Church of St. Peter, once a priory dependent on the abbey of Daoulas,(see post) dating from the 15C, but then too small, was destroyed in 1870 and replaced by a Church of Flamboyant Gothic style at a site of a Chapel.  The initiative probably comes back to the Lords of Léon and the family of Rohan. The Church was completed in 1623 with a 28 meters high bell tower in a round turret containing the staircase to access the bells.  A Renaissance porch is added between 1640 and 1650. It was destroyed by WWII  and it was rebuilt with the bell tower done with concrete. However ,some items do remain such as the descend of the Cross and two retables one of Saint-Peter ,and the other of a Rosary.

The first that you see upon coming to town is the Church of Saint Peter rising above the place de l’église, monumental front and great bell tower. It was rebuilt as it is today in 1950.  The current Church was rebuilt in cross–shaped, style  with a recessed Spire, a nave of five bays with aisles, a crossroads with lantern and wings at the center of which is the choir, then another nave of three bays with aisles terminated by a right chevet. The Church of the 19C has retained a beautiful retable of the Rosary (dated 1654-1656) and topped by an altar the tomb of 16C of the Fallen Christ. The modern altar, made with marble of Mayenne dedicated in 1957.  There is a path of modern cross and the baptismal fonts from the 12C. The Church houses a statue of St. Peter and a Pietà.

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A lovely ensemble around the main square of Plougastel-Daoulas, the Church, (calvary and strawberry museum see posts). A great day for the whole family on a lovely traditional Breton town, and it was here that we first heard the Breton language spoken by folks in the restaurant!!

The city of Plougastel on its historyhttps://www.plougastel.com/histoire.php

The Finistére dept 29 tourist office on the raid of Brest and Plougastelhttps://www.toutcommenceenfinistere.com/loisir/rade-de-brest-brest

The Bretagne region tourist office on Plougastelhttps://www.brittanytourism.com/destinations/the-10-destinations/brest-terres-oceanes/presquile-de-plougastel-and-daoulas-abbey/

There you go folks, enjoy a nice Church St Pierre in an nice town of Plougastel-Daoulas off the beaten path and trails of coastline to fall in love with!

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

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