Archive for January 15th, 2022

January 15, 2022

Curiosities of Reims!!

One of my favorite cities, region,and one of the first cities that I visit in France way back in 1990. It has become a fixture ever since with many family trips and even weekend getaways. It is a tender family story as my dear late wife Martine used to work picking grapes here to save for schooling together with her other sisters and brothers who followed.

Reims is in the Department of the Marne No 51 in the region now of Grand Est old Champagne-Ardenne; and the Marne dept, east of Paris. I like to tell you about my walks in the city and the marvelous architecture and history they have. This is all new text, with older pictures; hope you enjoy it as I.

The Rue Colbert is located on the perspective that goes from the City/Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville) to the Place Royale. A fountain in the center and at its ends two parking areas. It links the Place Royale to Place Simone Veil. The road is one-way towards the City/Town Hall, and bears this name in homage to Colbert, a native of the city. Since the mid-19C, it has replaced rue Royale and rue Charles X. It is surrounded by the Place du Forum of the old forum of the Roman wall of the city. In its center a cryptoporticus is still open and it was for a long time a market place, cloth market, wheat market, a covered market was built in 1872 but was not rebuilt after the Great War or WWI.pic below towards the City Hall.

Some interesting buildings in the next over Place du Forum are at No 13-15: building with the sculptures, taking up in particular the theme of wheat, There are several houses in the Art Deco style.  The Vergeur museum-hotel is located between the house of the Counts of Champagne and the Cryptoporticus, corner of rue du Marc. The Musée le Vergeur, created in 1932, houses the collections that Hugues Kraff had accumulated during his life and during his numerous trips and which remain the property of the Société des Amis du Vieux Reims. Since January 1, 2019, the Musée des Beaux-Arts has taken over the scientific management of the Le Vergeur museum. 
The cryptoporticus is worth the detour to see ,is an underground gallery, a horreum, in the shape of a U at the present Place du Forum. It was certainly the northern part of the Roman forum during antiquity which must have been 65 meters wide by 250 meters long ; it was built around the year 100 , and mostly ruined during the invasions of the 4C; its entrance consisted of a monumental staircase which turned at a right angle and thus passed above an altar for the statue of the emperor.

The Rue de Vesle has been pedestrianized over its entire length since the tram was inaugurated in April 2011. In the center of the street is the Vesle station of tram A and B. It is one of the busiest streets in the city center of Reims. It bears the name of the Vesle, a river, tributary of the left bank of the Aisne and which crosses Reims. This was one of the old ways of Reims, is the old rue de la Porte-aux-Ferrons, and covers, part of the site of the decumanus maximus, the main Gallo-Roman street which crosses the city. from east to west. Very largely destroyed during the Great War or WWI, it does not preserve any old buildings, but it does have several art deco buildings.  These are at No 17 to 23: corner building, remarkable for the rigorous geometry of reasonable Art Deco. The building of No 33 to 45: Galeries Lafayette. The original attic, capped with broken roofs, was destroyed by fire in November 1932 and then rebuilt in 1933 with imperial domes. The No 65 to 73: The KodaK building. And no number the Portal of the Saint-Jacques Church. Also, the Reims Opera, inaugurated in 1873 in Italian-style theater with initially 1,200 seats, then enlarged by 100 seats during its restoration in 1931, it is one of the most beautiful in France, with a sumptuous ceiling. in luminosity and of a circular frieze having for theme the arts of the theater.  Although the architecture of the building is neoclassical, all the interior decoration is in Art Deco style such as bas-reliefs, ironwork, chandeliers, paintings, etc. The Passage Saint-Jacques links the Rue Condorcet to the Rue de Vesle over a length of about 20 meters by two branches. Destroyed in 1918, it was replaced by a semi-covered passage, the Saint-Jacques passage and by the Saint-Jacques square created in 1925. The Galerie Condorcet succeeds a bus station and a garage. This passage links the Rue Condorcet to the Rue de Vesle over a length of approximately 60 meters by two Branches. After 1920, as part of the reconstruction after the Great War or WWI, a bus station was created at this location, The concession was replaced, in 1971, by the current shopping mall on the ground floor. Pic below me left Reims Opéra building!


The Place Royale ,measures, according to the dimensions of the time, 33 toises by 38 (about 64 meters by 74 meters) . In the center, was a monument dedicated to Louis XV .The royal statue was destroyed during the French revolution, then, replaced in 1818 by a bronze representing the king as a Roman emperor. The sculptures of the pedestal, have been preserved. Around, the square is lined with buildings with structured architecture, characteristic of royal squares. It bears this name because of the presence on this square of the statue of Louis XV.  The current square was part of the influence of the Roman forum of Durocorturum, it takes over the main Roman axes, the Cardo and the Decumanus, but over time it closed under the pressure of the construction of houses, houses with gardens, which belonged in large part to the chapter of Notre-Dame grouped under the name of Grand Credo and belonged to the parish of Saint-Michel welcoming many canons. On the one hand, the recovery of the old cardos and decumanus by destroying the Porte aux Ferrons (or Porte de Vénus) and the restructuring of the wheat and cloth market places (current place du Forum) with the creation of a new perspective towards the City/Town Hall (now rue Colbert). On the other hand by the recovery and widening of the current rue de Talleyrand / rue Chanzy for reasons of convenience. And finally the widening of the current Rue Rockefeller to facilitate the arrival of the king at the cathedral during the coronation. See pic below,the sous prefecture of Reims and back the Notre Dame Cathedral!

The paving of the Place Royale was done in 1766 and its embellishment by the Monument to Louis XV, was inaugurated on August 26, 1765 and its illumination by twenty lanterns in 1763. Le Génie du Commerce (also called Le Citoyen) on one side and La Raison mastering the Strength on the other are from this time. The first stone of the current monument was placed on March 30, 1818. The monument comprising the new statue of Louis XV and the allegories was inaugurated on August 25, 1819 with a feast as majestic as that of 1765. The monument was surrounded by a gate . It has now become paved again and is prohibited from parking to give it a more harmonious appearance. You can see the old Hotêl des Fermes which is today a magnificent sub-prefecture of Reims. The Place Royale remains one of the most beautiful squares in Reims, even if we hardly do anything but pass by there.

This pic I have in another post on the ND Cathedral but will tell you more about the rue Libergier as it was normally the street I parked to walk to the Cathedral and ate just by the corner at the old Le Colibri which is in my blog as well. Today no longer there , there is a Au Bureau restaurant which we have tried elsewhere but not yet in Reims.

The rue Libergier begins at the rue Chanzy and it ends on boulevard Paul Doumer towards the Vesle river, It bears the name of Hugues Libergier architect of the Saint-Nicaise Church. The street was crossed by the enclosure of the Augustan oppidum at the level of n ° 25. The habitat consisted of gardens, orchards and villas on an older substrate; a third century domus had a fountain. The street has been bearing this name since 1836 by creating a street that started from the Notre Dame Cathedral, replacing rue Sainte-Catherine, then crossing the old garden of the Carmelite convent, it was once again lengthened to end at the canal de l ‘Aisne à la Marne in 1853. The street lost its upper part at the end of the Great War or WWI to become Rue Rockefeller. Pic from my on street parking walking to the ND Cathedral!

Reims Cat Notre Dame rue lieberger parking may07

The city of Reims and its heritage

The Reims tourist office on must sees

There you go folks, a dandy set of beautiful streets in wonderful sublime Reims! Hope you enjoy the tour ,and do walk this city, a lot more than Champagne! And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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January 15, 2022

Shopping in Toulouse !!

I have said not a shopper’s delight but out of family needs have gone into some serious shopping in many cities around the world, One nice experience with the family was visiting Toulouse as usual but more into shopping, I like to update text and link on this older post to tell you about our shopping spree in the city, The walking is great, the shopping is inspirational, and the food oh well its French with an Occitan twist! Enjoy the pink city of Toulouse and its shopping as we did.

And who say you don’t do gro ery shopping here while on vacation? Of course, we do and enjoy it very much as we have been renting appartments or apparthotels for the last several years as our family grows and we now have a dog, our big boy Rex

We went to our old favorite not available in our current Morbihan, Auchan.  From our Adagio apparthotel we move up north pass the A61 autoroute and into Gramont and Balma to visit the Centre Commercial Espace Gramont.  There are the usual mall stores here but we came expressively for the Auchan hypermarket and our groceries. Shopping mall on Auchan:


For an overall mall ambiance you can head for the Espace Saint George, Here you have the NewYorker, Ikea, and the local From Toulouse with Love, The mall address is 51 bis Rue du rempart Saint-Etienne off Bd Lazare Carnot, metro Jean Jaurés and just 450 meters from the Place du Capitole! Shopping webpage:

toulouse espace st george shopping at rue carnot jul10

We had to go to the boys favorite store FNAC, they get so much goodies out of here, and more I do not understand oh well!!! The store here is very convenient in city center by Pl Wilson and Allée Jean Jaures, on 3 levels rather well stock. FNAC PL Wilson webpage:


And of course, there is for Dad too, so my favorite store for yeears has been you guess it Galeries Lafayette. There are all over not just in Paris ,we even have it near us in the Morbihan Breton. The store in Toulouse is of course nice too. It is right into the old town at 4/8 Rue Lapeyrouse not far from the Capitole and near the busy shopping artery of rue  d’Alsace-Lorraine.  It has a food market in the basement and a wonderful views of the city from its terrace top floor resto Ma Biche sur le Toit. GL webpage:

And this is what I mean of the Ma Biche sur le Toit GL Toulouse resto:


And there you go folks, choices for everyone and at every level, this is the pink city of Toulouse in my belle France. Hope you have enjoy the run and we as said will be back!!!  And do have a happy shopping spree anywhere. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

January 15, 2022

Curiosities of Pau!!!

I am bringing you back to a wonderful city of the old region of Béarn in the south of France, Pau. This was my cruising town on my way to Spain for many years until finally step in and saw Pau, even a tour de France race, It has been sort of home base in the area thereafter for us. Pau  is in the department 64 Pyrénées Atlantiques in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine.

I have written several posts on Pau, and decided to do this one on two curiosities briefly mentioned before but needs more exposure me think. Anyway, Pau is a delight to visit, worth the detour. Here is my take on the City Hall/Saint Louis theater, Villa Lawrance, and the Bernadotte museum.

The Pau City/Town Hall and the Saint-Louis theater are part of a building located on Place Royale. The latter, built from 1854 to 1862, accommodated the theater in 1862, then the municipal services, from 1878. The current location of the building is initially intended to accommodate a new church dedicated to the worship of Saint-Louis. On April 28, 1876, the municipal council therefore ratified the decision to buy the Saint-Louis theater and its outbuildings. In the fall of 1878, after development work, the City/Town Hall took possession of the premises and still occupies them today.


The Saint-Louis theater opened its doors in 1862, replacing the main theater in the city which was then located at number 4 of the Place Gramont, now destroyed, and of which only the facades and a few decorations remain. The 300-seat room is decorated in the Second Empire style.  The theater, now 430 seats strong, reopened in 1984, and hosted a number of shows and performances until it was closed again on October 25, 2013, when the condition of the hall was again deemed worrying, following the fall of part of the decor of one of the boxes, In June 2016, reopens again ,and now hosts both dance performances, concerts and plays, as well as conferences.   

The Pau Pyrénées tourist office on the theater

The city of Pau on its cultural richness

The beautiful Villa Lawrance housed the Robert Poplawski Institute of Legal and Economic Studies between 1946 and 1970, housed the Faculty of Law, Economics and Management before the creation of the University of Pau and the Pays de Adour ,then the administrative services of the presidency before a dedicated building was built on the campus in 1994. Since 2002, it has been the headquarters of the Cercle Anglais or English Circle of Pau and houses its collections. Villa Lawrance was built in 1840 and was then called Villa Schlumberger. It was later purchased by the Lawrence family and took its present name. At the time it was a villa in the countryside, the city of Pau not yet extending that far. The Lawrance bought land around to make a park. This was bought by the city of Pau during WWII.


The English Circle was founded in 1824 by a few English living in Pau such as Lord Selkirk or Lord Oxenden. First settled in Place Royale, the circle moved to the Hotel Gassion, then to the Trespoey and Riquoir villas before finally joining the villa Lawrance at the initiative of the city/town hall of Pau. The Musée de Pau Ville Anglaise presents a collection of photographs, as well as rare books dedicated by their authors to certain members of the circle. You can also see bronzes there, as well as a set of paintings by Paul Mirat, Blocaille or Alan Sealey for example. 

The parc Lawrance is one of the public gardens in the city of Pau. It is a park featuring ancient trees, such as cedars of Lebanon, lawns and paths. There is a play area for children. It is located in a district with many English villas of the 19C, not far from the Pau exhibition center or the Place de Verdun.

The city of Pau on its parks/gardens

The Pau Pyrénées tourist office on the parc Lawrence

We took a peek at the  Bernadotte museum, at the limits of the neighborhood of Hédas ; the birthplace of this Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte chosen by Napoleon I to secure the continuation of the royal house of Sweden in 1818 he finally became the king of Sweden as Charles XIV, and king of Norway as Charles III. Today the current king Gustav XVI is a 7th line descendant Bernadotte. The Musée Bernadotte is here since 1951.


There were many efforts to do a museum on his native house but difficulties always prevail the opening, Many years passed and many changes, due to the dilapidated buildings in Rue Neuve des Cordeliers ,today Rue Bernadotte, modified the appearance of the “Maison Balagué”, the only one that remained intact. On the occasion of the passages in Pau of the kings of Sweden or the members of the royal family of Sweden, the birthplace of the Marshal was the object of a visit. The house was visited in 1872 by Queen Joséphine, in 1878 by Gustave V, then prince royal, in 1892 by Oscar II, who returned in 1899, and finally by the Duke of Sudermania, future King Charles XIII of Sweden. In 2018, to celebrate the bicentenary of the accession of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte to the Swedish throne, Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel visited the restored birthplace of the founder of the dynasty,


In 1935, the birthplace of Bernadotte was poorly maintained and in poor condition. A company, the “Association des Amis du Musée Bernadotte”, was therefore set up in order to safeguard the interests of the house. The mayor at the time,took over the file in order to allow the museum to reopen in good conditions. He thus contacted the Swedish ambassador in France to set up a viable financial project. The whole of the birthplace and the collections belonging to the Bernadotte Society were therefore bought back half by the city and the other half by the Swedish crown.
The Lundberg donation still makes up the bulk of the Bernadotte museum’s collections, even if successive additions have been made by the various kings of Sweden. The life of Bernadotte is thus evoked, from the young soldier of the king, to the general of the French revolution, then marshal of Napoleon, to the crown prince and finally king of Sweden and Norway. The museum contains paintings, miniatures, watercolors, drawings, engravings, snuffbox, porcelain, rare books and prints, coins and medals, dispatches, personal memories (saber, spurs, gloves) , etc. The letter in which Napoleon authorizes Bernadotte to respond favorably to his appointment as Crown Prince of Sweden is part of the collection on display at the museum. The royal iconography is also very present with many documents, engravings and paintings, evoking the reign of Charles XIV Jean (Bernadotte), and his successors.

The city of Pau on the Musée Bernadotte

The Pau Pyrénées tourist office on the museum

There you go folks, a dandy collection of curiosities of Pau. Again, a wonderful city to visit, worth the detour, we love it. Hope you enjoy this brief introduction to the City Hall/Saint Louis Theater, parc/Villa Lawrance, and Bernadotte’s museum of Pau!

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

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