Archive for September 10th, 2021

September 10, 2021

Amboise fit for a king and a genius!

How about this one , well need to update my introduction to Amboise several years back. Oh yes of course, been here done that, very familiar for many years since living in Versailles ,and then now from my Morbihan breton , of course this is Amboise. Well we get some of our house wines from across the Loire and oh yes darn it, there is a castle here in fact two one for a king and one for a genius so we saw both! 

The wines are from the Domaine Dutertre (see post) across the Loire in Limeray. We tend to gravitate to the other side for the castle and its market days. Glorious within the two castles! Oh well, let me tell you a bit more on Amboise.

Let me repeat how to get here , we of course always do it by car. You can get to Amboise from Paris by road on the A10 direction Bordeaux and get off at exit /sortie 18 Château Renault D31 road  that leads you right into the Loire river, here you can turn right before the river into the D952 to go across to Amboise on the D431 or cross the river from the D31 and come alongside it on the D761 into the city. All is well paneled with signs so it’s very easy. You can do so by train station TER from Paris Gare d’Austerlitz, (never done it) by Blvd. Gambetta./rue Charles Peguy and walk along rue Jules Ferry towards the river crossing it you are in Amboise and the castle upon you.  Or by TGV from Paris Montparnasse to Saint Pierre-des-Corps (never done it) 20 km away and here by taxi or rental car. I come always by car and parking is very convenient by the castle at rue Victor Hugo above ground along castle walls,  and others are place du Marché, le Mail, quai Charles Guinot, place Richelieu, parking du Château, avenue Léonard de Vinci, and rue du Clos Lucé.


I have other posts on the sights so pictures will be limited here but one to see is the Mini Châteaux park. Le parc des Mini-Châteaux / Parc de loisirs  La Menaudière – D81 road, Amboise. And the La Pagode de Chanteloup D31 road, Amboise. And the Val de Touraine aquarium now call  Grand Aquarium de Touraine  Lieu dit les Hauts Bœufs – 37400 Lussault-sur-Loire ,and easy with a car arriving from Amboise, you will pass the village of Lussault and signs will indicate the direction on your left.

We have enjoyed eating here wonderful by the castle, over the years, one nice quick bite place is the Bigot Chocolatier-Pâtisserie-Boulangerie-Salon de Thé . For desserts our fav and bring home too; wonderful sweets of different tastes for all and very good. Maison Bigot webpage:


One of our big meals favorite since our first trips here and continued is the  Anne de Bretagne resto right in the corner before moving up to the castle, friendly place, nice talkative servers, and good food at reasonable price. On this particular occasion ,we had our onion soups, galette St Jacques (scallops) steak and fries, spaghetti bolognaise, galette canard confit (duck) croque madame sandwich (with the egg) plenty of Stella Artois beers, coffee expresso,and diabolo menthe , and of course we have come back again and again right up the hill going to the castle. Great resto  with very friendly service always even if crowded/ Recommended; no webpage. Tel +33 (0) 2 47 57 05 46.


Others we have enjoyed there over the years are the Les Arpents, L’Ecluse, Brasserie de la Loire, Cafe des Arts, and La Terrace, on our visits to lovely Amboise. Another good one especially for coffees or ice creams is Amorino Amboise, 6 pl Michel Debré .  And of course, we love biscuits , of all sorts so stop by the Biscuiterie d’Amboise 2 Place Michel Debré.

There is a wonderful walking town if a bit hilly towards Clos Lucé we enjoyed all the time. One specific street which is our hq for walking shopping eating all around as above is the up the castle at Place Michel Debré, this is a bit of its history I like

The Place Michel Debré was originally a street lined with houses on each side. The rampart was cleared under king Louis-Philippe and only the houses opposite it were preserved. Before the French revolution, it received the name of rue du Château; from the First Republic to the First Empire (1792-1814), it was the rue de la Citadelle. In 1833, it regained the name of rue du Château. Today, Place Michel Debré brings together the old Place du Château and the old rue du château. It was the most lively square in the medieval town. By a donation from Geoffroy Martel to Lisois de Basogers, we know that from the middle of the 11C the market took place there.  It was also the square where the route d’Espagne separated from the route de Montrichard or even the link between the city and the Petit Fort before they were gathered in 1469.  With the exception of the stone hotel at 4 place Michel Debré, only the half-timbered houses can date from the 15-16C. There are large facades like at 54 place Michel Debré: 9.2 meters!, and very narrow facades such as 8 place Michel Debré: about 3 meters!!. There is one of the two half-timbered houses which has kept its original sculpture at 54 place Michel Debré. One can imagine that the established houses dating from the 15-16C were most prestigious because of their privileged position in front of the king’s home (the castle).


There you go folks, can’t get away from wines and here the Amboise-Touraine has some good ones just do a nice walk in fancy gourmand Amboise, of my belle France. Right in above square is our fav for tasting before heading out into the properties, this is the Caveau Des Vignerons d’ Amboise 1, Place Michel Debré! webpage: !

The city of Amboise on its heritage

The Amboise Val de Loire tourist office on Amboise

Amboise, see it , come on in, its a lot more than a castle for a king and a genius here, the ambiance, the walks, the architecture, and history is all around us and we love it. Hope you enjoy the brief tour of Amboise, in the Indre et Loire dept 37 of the Centre-Val de Loire region ; the real valley of the kings!

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

September 10, 2021

The Château de Moncade in Orthez!!

Well we have a huge inventory of wonderful monuments to see here , of all sorts . However, to me leave me in a castle and I will be just fine thank you. Oh and any castle no matter the state of it today. This is the case of the Moncade Castle in Orthez. Mostly in ruins with a tower save by the city but a wonderful site to see in my road warrior ways of the old Béarn now in dept 64 Pyrénéens Atlantique. We passed by and saw the tower so a must to come in and visit! Let me updated for you and me today.

I have other posts on Orthez proper but anyway for the reminder of this old nice town of Orthez, let me give you an overview. First, Orthez is a town located in the Pyrénées-Atlantique department 64 in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Halfway between Pau and Bayonne, the town is close to the Landes department. By road: the A64 passes south of the city exit n ° 8, rest area Magret, and the departmental D947, D933, and the D817(beltway to that goes into Pau)  pass in the town. By train: Orthez station is located on the Toulouse – Bayonne line and on the TGV line  Tarbes – Paris-Montparnasse; but always come here by car ok

A bit of history I like

The oldest remains of the city of Orthez date back to the 11C. Count Gaston VII Moncade had the idea in the 1250s, to build a new castle where he established his main residence. It was at the same time that he had the wooden palisade defending the Old Town replaced by a real rampart, and that was built the Pont-Vieux,(old bridge), a real fortified gate over the river. From the 13C  to the 15C, Orthez was the residence of the viscounts of Béarn. Gaston Fébus declared the independence of Béarn in 1347.  Although in 1460 this residence was transferred to Pau, more central, Orthez remains throughout the old regime (monarchy)  the largest and most dynamic city of the Béarn. In 1566, Jeanne d’Albret transferred there the Protestant Academy of Béarn transformed into a university in 1583 by Henri IV. Fast forward in history to cut it short, from 1940 to 1942, the dividing line that divided the department of Basses-Pyrenees into two parts integrated the city into an area occupied by the Nazi army, because of its position as road and rail. 5 crossing checkpoints were established, but many illegal refugee crossings and trafficking occurred and continued until the end of the war. Orthez was associated in 1973 with the former town of Sainte-Suzanne to form Orthez-Sainte-Suzanne, then this new town took the name of Orthez by itself.

The Château de Moncade and its keep-tower was built around 1250 by Gaston VII Moncade at a strategic place that was obviously fortified since ancient times. Gaston Fébus completes the fortifications and gives it its final form. It is then the seat of a sumptuous court. The tower is saved from total destruction around 1840 by decision of the town because it simply serves as a quarry for the construction of houses around. Nowadays, it is visited in summer and offers a panoramic view of the rooftops of Orthez and the surrounding countryside, against a backdrop of the Pyrenees in clear weather.


This is a bit outside Orthez but right from the town is easy on the road D933 . When we were there , a medieval horse knights competition was going on very nice indeed. We love it!!!

Some webpages to help you plan your trip are:

The city of Orthez on the castle

The heart of the Béarn tourist board on the castle

The Béarn region Pyrénées Atlantique dept 64 tourist office on the castle

There you go folks; another dandy old nice castle to visit while in the area, worth the detour I say. Enjoy the Chateau de Moncade in Orthez!

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

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September 10, 2021

The new train station of Auray!!

I need to give you an update as I finally was by the new train station of Auray. I have in previous posts and even one telling you about the construction going on and the plans for the station. However, I have passed by and it looks great. Nostalgia sits in ,is me again.

The Auray train station was my first train in the Morbihan dept 56 way back when I came into the area from Versailles, Yvelines dept 78. I need to go on business trips and this was the closest station to my first foothold in the area at Brec’h. Even moving to Pluvigner early on I still use the station for my trips to Paris, especially on TGV. Also, using TER from here for connections in Redon, Le Mans, or Rennes. Later on, there was plenty of parking and better schedules from Vannes so moved there for my trips.

It will always be my first train station in the Morbihan. Previously took a train from Paris Montparnasse to Rennes on a business trip while still living in Versailles, therefore, Rennes is my first train station in Bretagne!

I passed by Auray, for trains and it has a bus terminal but never use the buses here. The Auray train station or gare d’Auray is located in the district of la Gare of the city of Auray. It was commissioned in 1862,  and served by the SNCF, TER of Bretagne and Pays de la Loire and the TGV Atlantique mainly. To cut it short as written on it elsewhere, the movement for improvements here started with the  “Bretagne à Grande Vitesse” project, or high speed Brittany when the hope was and done to put Auray train station at  2h40 from Paris . Increase the reception capacity, create a forecourt, a footbridge, parking lots, create a new passenger building, but also increase the capacity of the bus station. I would try not to repeat myself, bear with me I am a frequent train traveler but not an expert…

Let me translate from the agglo metro area of Auray-Quiberon on the train station.

The new Auray train station welcomes travelers with its modern and functional architecture that blends harmoniously into the landscape. This transparent building consists of a ground floor and a mezzanine. On the ground floor, a crossing hall gives access to the platforms from the forecourt. It allows a very good visibility on the arrivals and departures of the different modes of transport. Its structure also offers a good overview of all the services. The covered external staircase leading to the walkway serves the middle level of the building. The old train station building will be preserved because of its historical and heritage value. Rehabilitated to accommodate catering for travelers and residents, it will contribute to the attractiveness of life in the neighborhood.

auray train station old sep21

auray gare entrance sep21

The work consist of the embellishment of rue de la Paix ,Now this embellishment continues on a second part further east between rue Jean Mermoz and place Raoult Dautry, The Quai A (main platform) was thus raised to the height of the trains, ie 20 cm over 125 linear meters, to the level of the current passenger building. All the quay sides are now equipped with alert strips along their entire length, ie no less than 1,550 linear meters. At the same time, the lighting of the platforms was brought up to standard. The underground passage and its stairs which previously allowed users to access the central platform (tracks 2 and 4) has been closed. Also, to maintain access to these tracks, the first part of the walkway is now in service as well as the high-capacity elevators located at each end. This is a big improvement indeed remember going at night by these underground passages not an easy feeling,

auray gare voies et parking sep21

From this month of September 2021, there is a new track that will link the road from Pipark to Brec’h limits , thus opening up a new access from the north of the territory and more particularly to the square with its parking spaces and the various services of the Multimodal Exchange Hub. A new access which shortens the distances and should make it possible to facilitate transfers between the various transportations modes. Last September 7-8, the footbridge connecting Auray and Brec’h was installed. It is 100 meters long, and it spans the tracks of the train station that is turning into a real Multimodal Exchange Hub. Located 7 meters above the ground, this footbridge will offer, when it is fully operational by end September 2021, a viewpoint over the Chartreuse in Brec’h (see post). It meets all accessibility standards and will have a very large staircase and elevators at each end, as well as at the central platform. It is made up of metal beams, which will also serve as a railing, and a wooden interior cladding. The second part of the footbridge will create the access road, parking spaces (cars and two-wheelers) and the development of the square to the north of the railway tracks.

Auray bus terminal train sep21

Something to feel good about it is the finally ! development work on the “long-term” car park offering 124 parking spaces to station users. Then, the central car park is open and offers 64 additional spaces (including 5 spaces reserved for People with Reduced Mobility) dedicated to “short-term” parking. This car park accommodate a space for bicycles, two-wheelers, taxis and rental companies. Thus, a second “long-term” car park with a capacity of 173 spaces (including 6 spaces for Reduced Mobility) is created, a second car park, this one dedicated to “short-term” parking, is under construction to offer 18 additional spaces (including 1 disabled parking space). 

The agglo area of Auray Quiberon more on the Auray train station:

The SNCF Auray train station  :

The TER Bretagne on the Auray local train station

The Bay of Quiberon tourist office on Auray :

There you go folks, a dandy modern train station just 14 km from my house, just enticing to try the trains again. Easy connection from Paris, already friends have use it to visit while the old station, now should be even better… This is my update on the wonderful Auray train station or Gare d’Auray. Hope you have enjoy the post.

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

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September 10, 2021

The Notre-Dame Church of Oloron-Sainte-Marie!

I continue to update and show you some that I may consider off the beaten path places and they are worth a detour while visiting France. I bring to you the Notre Dame Church of lovely  Oloron-Sainte-Marie. I passed by it many times and once in town walking by saw it again and this time went in ; a pleasant surprise. I have come by the city often usually in my ways to Spain, but lately been stopping by to see a bit of the town. This Notre Dame Church is one of the things to see there. The church is located at Place Gambetta.



Let me tell you a bit of history as I like it

In 1844, the inhabitants of the Notre-Dame district asked the city council to build a more decent place of worship than the chapel of St. John the Baptist, which became a parish Church in 1826. The town agreed to provide the land to build the new Church while the parishioners financed its construction. The Notre Dame Church is Gothic with many borrowings from Romanesque art. It consists of a central nave along two aisles, a transept and a choir flanked by two chapels in apsidiole , Chapel of the Sacré-Coeur and Chapelle Saint-Pierre, the apse ends with a vault in the cul de furnace adorned with the fresco of the coronation of the Virgin .The steeple-tower rises to 52 meters. It is constructed of hard stones of Louvie. The first stone was laid in 1869 for the new Church with setbacks during the construction led to the resignation of the architect and the stoppage of the works for a dozen years. The work resumed and the Church was consecrated in 1893.

A bit on the description of the Notre Dame Church

The statues inside the church are of St Vincent de Paul gathering abandoned children, 19C, a work from the altarpiece of the old hospital; First Communion in the Trinity , end 19C.  Assumption of the Virgin, mid 19C; and Adoration of the shepherds, 19C. The important painted decoration was mainly made between 1895 and 1899 . For the choir a fresco and 25 strengthened canvases distributed in the choir and the transept on the theme of the Life of the Virgin. The coronation of the Virgin is placed in the axis of the apse.


The Chapel of the Sacré-Coeur was decorated with a fresco with 8 strengthened canvases. In the Chapel of St. Peter, a fresco was executed. Most of the stained glass windows are made to order including the nice ones at the Chapel of Saint Peter and the Chapel of the Sacred HeartThe organ was created in 1851 by Vincent Cavaillon-Coll , the elder brother of Aristide. It was first carried out for the Capuchin church before being transferred to the Church of Notre-Dame at the end of the 19C.



Some webpages as usually from me to help you plan your trip are :

The Pyrénées Béarnaise tourist office on the Notre Dame Churchhttp://Eglise Notre-Dame (Oloron-Sainte-Marie) | Site officiel des Pyrénées Béarnaises (

The Pyrénées Atlantique dept 64 tourist office on the Notre Dame Churchhttp://Eglise Notre-Dame à Oloron-Sainte-Marie (64) – Activités (

The city of Oloron Sainte Maire on its historyhttp://Oloron Sainte-Marie – Découverte (

A lovely territory to come in and of course the car is king, to see more of the wonderful Bearnaise architecture and its sauce! and wines! ,its chocolate, and history of a region within a region. Oloron-Sainte-Marie is nice. The tourist office in town is located at Allées du Comte de Tréville near the gave d’Aspe river, and the jardin public

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

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