Archive for February, 2022

February 28, 2022

How about the islands between the Seine and Marne rivers !!

Yes they are plenty and not seen them all but have some and they are lovely even if rush by them. I like to give them credit in my blog in my black and white series, no pictures. Hope you enjoy this post as some off the beaten path places, the islands between the Seine and Marne rivers!!

Very close to the busy world of Paris you have several islands that covers the Seine and Marne rivers, These oasis promise evasion, adventure, relaxation, and wonderful sights, Once the gates of Paris passed, the rest is heavens,

On the île Fanac that since the Secone Empire has one of the oldest nautical society, and by the end of the 19C started the guinguettes, gone for most part after WWII they are reborn, You have the happy times at the Chez Gégéne, Goulué or the guinguette in the île du Martin-Pêcheur in Champigny sur Marne.

You continue to Nogent and the île des Loups with 7 hectares and name by Marcel Carné, painter Raoul Dufy, and writer Patrick Modiano, The island has an abundance of flowers.

On the other side of the Seine with a view of the high risers of La Défense we come to the île de Chatou and of course go to Chez Fournaise, and the impressionists fame. A bit more further you come to the bac d’Herblay to gain the agro park of Achéres for a lunch on the grass along the île d’Herblay.

Coming towards the Yvelines dept 78 my former home you come next to Mantes la Jolie, and to the île de Migneaux even passing by the route N184 you still find heaven here with lots of peniche boats anchored, You do go to the île du Platais where Guy de Maupassant anchored with his Nana, and if the Paradou of Emile Zola disappeared , the isle still offer pleasure with its sandy beach of Vilennes and several bungalows by the water.

Passing the pont de Mantes (12C) made famous by Corot in 1865 you find a trio of islands , Limay, aux Dames, and Aumône. Between La Roche Guyon and Vétheuil the route des Crêtres overlook the valley of the Seine with green islands such as Chantemesle the biggest, And not far with several pine trees you have the Haute Isle.

These islands in addition to others as there are about 50 known that come along the Seine and the Marne you will discover the pleasure and good living sometimes on foot or more often in canoes ou renting a small pénichette boat. In all take your time this is slow travel at its best.

One anecdote, in 1825 the Menier family comes to Noisiel on the banks of the Marne river to make chocolates, Many like Eiffel went themselves to do the pont Hardi taking you to the island, the windmill, the cathedral , halle Eiffel, Today it houses HQ of Néstle France. The chocolate factory is open to the public once a year during Heritage Days. And again, my dear late wife Martine maternal grandmother Fourré worked in the Menier factory in Noisiel!

There are several webpages on the islands but easy to find in google. I just leave you with the story from one of my old travel magazines. The islands are always picturesque romantic and a good spot to be away from hussle of big cities around. Hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

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February 28, 2022

My most beautiful villages of Île de France!!!

I like to do condense style , brief, a review of some of my favorite most beautiful villages of the Ïle de France region, that is La Roche Guyon, Montfort l’Amaury, Auvers sur Oise, Marly le Roi, Crécy la Chapelle,Barbizon, Dourdan, and Château Landon, Hope you enjoy it as I

Of course I have entries on most of them in my blog and more coming but this is a brief introduction and ideas to many. Therefore, this will be on my black and white series, no pictures. Hope it helps your travel plans in my belle France!

The La Roche Guyon sits between the chalk cliffs, and the Seine river and their toglodytic habitat with its feudal castle which you see first coming on the D913 road from Vetheuil, Here you ,also see the toglodytic Church Notre Dame de l’Assomption done on the rocks in 1670 with a nave of 8 meters and 26 meters long,The Donjon was built in the 12C into the rocks for more than 100 meters and 250 steps up, Here Rommel in WWII carved a barrack, A nice walk is to take the Promenade Louis Guy along the Seine river, From La Roche Guyon you can go into the vast Vexin regional park and see the wonderful Domaine de Villarceaux, as well as Vetheuil where lived Claude Monet and top of the hilly road see the wonderful Church Notre Dame,

The city of La Roche Guyon on its heritage :

You can always associe Auvers sur Oise with Van Gogh, the town where the impressionists took by pencil and palette,Here the town sits next to the Oise river and the extrance to the Vexin regional park as well as only 30 km from Paris, but in another world,Vincent Van Gogh lived here and painted his last 70 portraits of his life, However, if you climb by the heights of the town into the rue Daubigny you see the shop of the painter Charles-François Daubigny, the precursor of the Impressionists,You go up further in steps of stone to the sanctuary of Notre Dame where there is a bust of Daubigny and a portrait reproduction of Van Gogh painted between june 4 and 8, 1890, Of course, he stayed at the Auberge Ravoux aka maison Van Gogh,place de la Mairie, There is an audiovisula of his last day here of the sad 29 July 1890,His tomb is next to : of his brother Théo with two stones with lots of simplicity, Don’t forget to visit the Daubigny museum in the manoir des Colombiéres at 61 rue Daubigny, the first home of the artists of Auvers and still today the most authentique spot,

The Auvers sur Oise tourist office :

Barbizon became famous in the 19C when several painters took residence, There were almost 100 who were here in 1870 ! The Grande Rue is full of painted murals and shops of painters, the one Théodore Rousseau is at no 55, A more authentique shop go to the one of Jean François Millet , Also, Narcisse Diaz de la Peña at no 28 and Charles François Daubigny at no 21 next to Balfour Stevenson the author of L’Ile au trésor(treasure island), You can sense the artistic passion by going to no 92, at the auberge Ganne the first to welcome in 1849 several painters and from 1995 the musée de l’école de Barbizon, Close by you can escape into Milly la Fôret and see the house purchase by Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais a mansion from the times of Henry IV in 1959, Here see the frescos painted in the Chapelle Saint Blaise des Simples,

The Fontainebleau tourist office on Barbizon :

We come to the Château Landon, a pretty medieval town, From here the stone was extracted to build the Arc de Triomphe and the Basilica Sacre Coeur in Paris ! You cross two bridges to come into the rue du Bas Larry and city center, This takes you up the ramparts to the rue Jean Galland and to your right the Church Notre Dame at the Place du Marché, By here you discover the pretty sites other than the church, also the tour Madeleine, tour Saint André, abbey of Saint Séverin and the tour Saint Thugal. Beautiful architecture on mansions in the rue Thiers, where with previous permission you can see the Maison de la Pierre at rue Jean Galland and the hôtel-Dieu, There are several tradesmen here all members of the Route des Métiers d’Art en Gâtinais, At the former hôtel de la Monnaie 15C the silver money was made for 300 years !

The Château Landon tourist office on its heritage :

We come to Crécy-la-Chapelle the little Venice of the Briarde fed by the Grand Morin. Along this river, worked and lived Camille Corot one of the precursors of the Impressionists movement, This Crécy-la-Chapelle is the union of two towns Crécy en Brie and La Chapelle sur Crécy in 1972, However, the town dates from the fortified village of the 12C, By the 15C several tradesmen such as tanners, and curriers worked the skins along the quai de la Tannerie taken via the Grand Morin to Meaux and Lagny to the great fairs of Champagne region and Paris. By the fortified town you have the Collegiate Church Notre Dame de l’Assomption gothic but with franco champenois styles from the 13C and 15C, Its belltower is 33 meters high with great arcades beneath it, You can go underneath the tour de la Reine aka Grosse tour one of the better preserve, and the tour de la Prison where stayed Corot, and later the Church Saint Georges, This valley of Grand Morin I came several times with my dear late wife Martine to visit a homeopath plant medicine doctor we followed, sadly he passed away too. He was at St Germain sur Morin.

The city of Crécy-la-Chapelle on its heritage :

And I take you to Dourdan the royal town where was born Hugues Capet in 941. Place under protection of a castle from 1222, the only military building done by Philippe Auguste and still preserving its essential structures like the donjon and its ramparts of 90 meters on its sides. It has an important church like the castle, the gothic Church Saint Germain d’Auxerre from the 12C with 3 bells, an added chapel from the 17C, There are the covered market done in 1838 where a nice market is held wednesdays and saturdays, As a side trip ask for visit the Abbey Notre Dame de l’Ouye mentioned since the 12C, you can be shown the cloister and the chapel, This is at the town of Les Granges le Roi.

The Dourdan tourist office on its heritage :

Come to a memorable town of Montfort l’Amaury and its castle surrounded by nature and its monuments from the 15C, The feodal castle is from the 10C and the tour Anne de Bretagne is high of 185 meters, The town has streets like a labyrinth so patient with parking is a must ,they were pave from the 16C ,The city center is where the Church Saint Pierre with 37 stained glass inside, From the courtyard in front you can see the porte Bardoul high up rue de la Tours, the former gate of the castle, Nice fortification walls can be seen near the porte de la Tripiére les Poulies. Here at no 5 rue Maurice Ravel you see a museum on a house he lived from 1921 to 1937. You can see the house at no 2 place Lebreton of movie maker Henri Georges Clouzot where part of the film Le Corbeau (the Crow) was filmed here,In Montfort l’Amaury you can see the folly of the Château de Groussay 15C and an English style park, Also, the house where lived Jose Maria de Heredia, legion d’honneur and seat no 79 of the Academie Française who was born in Cuba,

The Montfort l’Amaury tourist office on its heritage :

And this is Marly le Roi, its palace destroyed in the 19C tells of Louis XIV, now a charming parc du Domaine de Marly, You come here by the royal grille on the side of the town of Louveciennes, You come to the museum with a nice model of the castle and the machine de Marly worth the visit indeed, You see the sculptures of the Chevaux de Marly where the originals are in the Louvre,You leave ,the parc by the pavillon des Gardes to reach city center, The Grand Rue is with nice winegrowers houses, and beautiful mansions of the 18C, In the park only remains the French style garden decorated with busts and statues, Nearby here you can see the Château de Monte Cristo in Port Marly the fascinating universe of Alexandre Dumas,

The Seine St Germain en Laye tourist office on Marly le Roi :

There you go folks, these are wonderful parts of my former region in my belle France. These cities have been criss cross but always worth coming back to them. Hope you have enjoy these beautiful villages of the Île de France region.

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

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February 28, 2022

The daily life in medieval Paris!

Going deep into my travel/history library many choices. However, I bet many are intrigue as to what was Paris like in the Middle Ages and see the most beautiful city in the World today. Of course, this will be in my black and white series,no pictures. Therefore, let me share a bit of history with you all, one of my passions, on the daily life in medieval Paris!

Let me start with some key dates such as 508 when Clovis made Paris his capital. 885-886 siégé of the Normans. 987 the sacre of Hugues Capet, return of Paris as capital city. 1180 start of reign of Philippe Auguste with the construction of the Louvre palace. 1226-1270 the reign of Saint Louis or Louis IX that starts the construction of Notre Dame and the Sainte Chapelle. 1337-1453 War of the Hundred years. 1358 uprising of Etienne Marcel provost of merchants. 1364-1380 the reign of Charles V that comes to the Louvre and enlarge the rampart walls of Paris to help defended. 1407-1436 Civil war between the Armagnacs and the Burgundians that bring the intervention of the English, Jean Sans Peur takes control of the city in 1418. 1437 Charles VII takes the city from the English , Paris stop been the principal residence of the king to moved into the Loire valley.

The main character was Philippe Auguste that helps built the rampart wall to protect Paris, A passionate of urbanism the king decided to improve the roads. Also, a push to economic activities around the Halles, Finally, he recognised the University (Sorbonne) in 1200 and made Paris an educational center of all Europe,

Lutéce counted about 8K to 20K inhabitants, From the 7C the population of Paris decreases, mostly in cause of the raids of the Vikings that pillage and burn part of the city, At the end of the 10C Hugues Capet made Paris his capital of the Capetians and the demographic growth takes off, It continues without interruption until the 15C including even during the Hundred Years war, At this time , Paris had 30k inhabitants by 1200 and 200k early in the 14C, In the Middle Ages, Paris was the most inhabited city in western Europe.

With the demographic trend at the end of the 12C and extension of constructions, it was necessary to defend Paris from attacks of the king of England. Philippe Auguste ordered the construction of a huge wall from 1180 that included the equivalents of today’s 1éme,4éme,5éme, and 6éme arrondissements or districts, Paris becomes cut in three parts, The Cité is the episcopal and royal city, rive droite or right bank the most inhabited and very merchants and bourgeois with the neighborhood of the Halles, The rive gauche or left bank became the student town since the foundation of the University in 1200 (Sorbonne).

The trades of Paris show in a book of 1268 by Etienne Boileau identified more than 100 professions, You have food derives, textiles, arts and crafts, or luxury, All with very detail rules and conditions to entered them, Most of the trades were concentrated in the rive droite and around the rue des Orfévres, rue de la Ferronnerie, rue de la Verrerie, quai de la Mégisserie etc, It came to light two powerful corporations, the butchers and the seamen.

The butchers were with strong families and one of the oldest corporations, You can see its power at the Church Saint Jacques de la Boucherie tower that they helped financed, The biggest butcherie was found near Châtelet at the end of the 14C with 19 butchers and 38 stands, Even if the meat was reserved to the most well off its consumption was equivalent to the one in Paris of 1950 !, There are texts like the Description of Paris by Guillebert de Metz in 1434 telling us that in Paris we ate 4000 sheeps, 600 porks, 500 calves, and 240 oxens. The seamen handle all the trafic in the Seine, very powerful they have their own jurisdiction recognised by the king from the 12C. The symbol of Paris becomes a boat with a Latin divise saying « it is tossed by the waves but does not sink » still today those of Paris!

Contrary to most cities that are rule by a town’s charter, Paris was administered by a representative of the king, the provost of Paris, that lived in the Grand Châtelet, However, the powerful seamen corporation was in charge of Paris de facto. Under Louis IX (Saint Louis) in 1263 the provost of merchants backup by four alderman becomes a sort of Mayor, The municipal council had as duty to control the river commerce and watch the ports, cash in the taxes, but also, maintenance of the city ; bridges, streets etc.

The streets of Paris came with having the wooden houses covered with plaster or chalk to limits the fires, consoles to hold up the projecting elements , the panels in wood or metal were works of arts as most could not read, they were displayed in such a way that you knew what it was by the drawing and shape of panels, You came into pigs, chicken, dogs, bears, all of them on the streets of Paris, In 1131 Philippe the oldes son of king Louis VI died after falling from his horse scare of a passing pig ! Paris also, had hundreds of taverns and drank in large quantities, The pavement of the streets began from the 12C with large blocks of sandstone with a thickness of 30 cm (almost 12 inches). They were narrow roads and zigzag streets and given no names for the most parts, They were found by the parish landmarks, The sidewalks were only 1,5 meters wide and roads of vehicules only 5-6 meters wide,sometimes not enough for two carriages, this created heavy trafic (and no talk of congestions then lol!)

The narrow streets were put more in difficulty by the houses that overhang them, The levels when 4 or 5 serve by a stair that advance towards the sidewalks and closer than the next one to diminish the rain falling off, Most houses especially at street level were used as shops built with wood, mud, and straws, The roofs were done with stubble quickly change to tiles, The hygiene was deplorable conditions As to the stone houses covert with tiles from the 14C they were reserve for the elite, The mansions were sumptuosly decorated with a bit of a protected lot with a garden looking fortified.

The garbage was dump everywhere ! There was only one hole per street and many times it was dumped in the Seine, or the Biévre, the butchers cut off the animals on the street which brought many rats, No system of used waters as the first sewer did not come until 1370, In 1186 Philippe Auguste orders the streets to be cover with large blocks of sandstone in some streets with a layer of mud.

In addtion with poor lighting with only three lights in the 14C one by the cemetery des Innocents, another by Châtelet and last one by on the tour de Nésles near the pont neuf.

The misery of the city of Paris arrived at 10% in the Middle Ages( today is 14% under poverty line!!) . By the place de Gréve each morning folks gathered to find labor for the day to feeding and lodging which came the slogan to be by the Gréve meant until the 19C to be without work, At the Middle Ages, the charity was little and the rich simply moved to the outskirt of the city, At the hospital like the Hôtel Dieu that could received 500 persons a work of the churches that gave the charity and was not until the 14C that doctors and surgeons were in permanence in the hospitals.

For feeding the great vegetable gardens were raised north of Paris on the old banks of the Seine. Inside the city of Philippe Auguste small gardens were set up as well, The left bank or rive gauche was covered in vineyards where the wine of Paris was done, The wheat was made in the Grand Pont and the Seine provided enough fish and as well transported from Dieppe and Rouen, the beef from the Limousin and the west of France, By the place de Gréve was the port de Gréve, the biggest in Paris. The water was not good to drink until at the end of the 12C two aqueducts were created by religious orders by the wells of the north of Paris in Belleville and Pré Saint Gervais, fed the waters of the Pré Saint Gervais was the first public water fountain in 1182 at the Halles. By the end of the Middle Age there were 18 fountains in Paris.

The city of Paris on medieval Paris:

The Paris tourist office on medieval Paris:

There you go folks, another dandy historical facts from yours truly on my eternal Paris. It is amazing to see the changes over the years from this dirty city to becoming the most beautiful city in the World! Paris is a mouvable feast alright. Hope you enjoy this historical post as I

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

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February 27, 2022

The Bourse de Commerce and the arts of Paris!!!

I like to bring you an update to another wonderful building in Paris that was seldom seen until it was change. Let me tell you about the Bourse de Commerce where now reign the Pinault collection of Paris.

The Bourse de Commerce is a circular plan building surmounted by a dome located rue de Viarmes, in the Les Halles district of the 1éme arrondissement of Paris. It is also an institution that was housed until 1885 in the Palais Brongniart.(see post).  There is a new use for the Bourse de Commerce after been share with the Pinault Collection and the city of Paris. In 2016, the City of Paris and the Artémis company, which belonged to François Pinault, businessman and great collector. The building was delivered as planned on March 9, 2020 and opened to the public on May 22, 2021.

paris bourse de commerce sept15

The monumental entrance opens with a portico, located to the west of the building facing the Rue du Colonel-Driant, summoned by a pediment carried by four fluted Corinthian columns, which surmount three allegorical figures, representing the city of Paris flanked by Abundance and Trade.   The interior is decorated with painted panels representing characters symbolizing the four cardinal points, and monumental frescoes evoking the history of trade between five parts of the World ,America, Russia and the North, Asia, and Africa as well as Europe.

All on 5 floors,10,000 works are brought together in the Pinault collection, enough to make great discoveries in Paris. They can be found in 7 galleries on the outskirts of the rotunda. A 91-meter-long interior concrete walkway, culminating at 9 meters in height in order to observe the works, More than 6,800 m2 of exhibition space and equipped with walkways to access the floors, a La Halle aux Grains restaurant on the 3rd floor with views towards the Saint-Eustache Church, the Canopée des Halles and, beyond, the Saint-Jacques tower and the rooftops of Paris. A 286-seat basement studio for performances, screenings and conferences. The museum will operate in coordination with those of the Pinault Collection located in Venice and will present ten exhibitions a year. Each structure, however, has a specific direction, a kind of constellation of museums, each of the sites having its specificity, its singularity , And because art is above all plural, conferences, guided tours, workshops, screenings , concerts and performances will also be regularly scheduled.

paris bourse de commerce and st eustache church sept15

A bit of condense history on the Bourse de Commerce or the stock exchange of Paris.

At the approximate location where the Bourse de Commerce or trading stock market is today was the hotel de Soissons, which belonged to Jean II of Nesles at the beginning of the 13C. Having no heirs, he gave in 1232 the property to Saint Louis, who offered it to his mother, Blanche of Castille, to make it her residence. Philippe le Bel, who inherited it, offered it in 1296 to his brother, Charles de Valois. The hotel then passed to the son of the latter, Philippe de Valois, who gave it to Jean of Luxembourg, son of the emperor Henry VII of the Holy Roman Empire and himself King of Bohemia. His daughter, Bonne of Luxembourg, heiress of the hotel in 1327, married Prince Jean de Normandie, the future king of France under the name of Jean Le Bon. Their son, Charles, ceded it to Amédée VI of Savoy in 1354. He then took part in Louis, Duke of Anjou and son of King Jean. His widow, Marie de Blois, sold it in 1388 to Charles VI, who offered it to his brother Louis, duke of Touraine and Orléans.

From 1572, Catherine de Medici suddenly abandoned the palace of the Tuileries, which she had built and acquired a hotel called Albret, consisting of various mansions that adjoined the convent. She settled there and began the development of what was to become the Hôtel de la Reine or Queen’s Hotel.  The fluted astronomical column, also known as the Medici column, 31 meters high, is the only surviving vestige of this hotel. The heirs of the Queen ceded the hotel to Catherine de Bourbon, sister of Henri IV. On the death of the latter, it was acquired by Charles de Bourbon, Count of Soissons, who gave it his name. The tel de Soissons then showed its appearance and its final look. In 1720, the Paris stock Exchange was created here.The prevost of Paris bought the land and destroyed the buildings in 1748. By 1763 a wheat market, on the banks of the Seine was created, and this building became the Bourse de Commerde of Paris or trade exchange in 1885. The ensemble was inaugurated on September 24, 1889. The city of Paris transferred ownership of the building to the Chamber of Commerce, for a symbolic French Franc in 1949.  Almost all of the monument was occupied by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris.

paris bourse de commerce from halles nov19

However, in 2016, the businessman François Pinault and the Mayor of Paris announced the departure of the Chamber of Commerce and the installation and presentation of a part of the art collections of Mr Pinault, managed hitherto by what was presented as a Foundation Pinault, in the circular building. The official end of the work was scheduled for December 17, 2018 and the opening to the public start 2019. However, as you can see from above due to covid and al  the opening was done May 22 2021. 

The official Pinault collection Bourse de Commerce Paris:

The City of Paris on the Bourse de Commerce

The Paris tourist office on the Bourse de Commerce

The official Le Halles aux Grains restaurant :

There you go folks, a wonderful building and now a great arts center in a grand location of my eternal Paris. Hope you enjoy the post as I and do visit when possible.

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

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February 27, 2022

My walks of Bourges!!!

This is another wonderful city to walk in my belle France. So many times in Bourges, and recently visited again. I have plenty written on it in my blog, so will do this one in my black and white series, no pictures. Hope you enjoy my brief walk of Bourges,

And I take you up to Bourges. We came to Bourges, the majestic city that was for a short period the capital of the kingdom of France. It’s huge gothic cathedral, the wooden houses, mansions Renaissance style , the marshes are all sublime.

You go to the Place Gordaine the old butchers’s market to meet up with the four pedestrians streets nice. The corner of this square with the rue Coursalon and the Palais Jacques-Coeur, you get into the passage Casse Cou to link upper and lower town, and the rue d’Auron, where on house palais d’Auron was born Jacques Coeur, This is Bourges.

You can’t missed the Cathedral Saint Etienne de Bourges bigger than ND de Paris ; when in 1195 the bishop Sully decided to rebuilt it, Its crypt built in the 12C keeps the remains of duke Jean de Berry. Be courageous and climb the 86 steps to the tour Nord, with beautiful views of the city. At its foot see the gardens of the city hall, French style of the 17C designed by a student of Le Nôtre, Follow up to the rue Moyenne, the most merchant of the city, take the street to your left you arrive at the Palais Jacques Coeur, the big house of the money men of king Charles VII and built between 1443 to 1451,

You descend the stairs to your left of the palace to come to rue des Arénes bordered by the courthouse and the Berry museum that took the building Hôtel Cujas built in the 16C, Passed by the place Planchat to link up with the place Gordaine by the rue Pelvoysin and rue Mirebeau,one of the prettiest with wooden houses and its terraces, You know Bourges has 430 wooden houses with the majority built in the last years of the 15C ! Worth the detour !

You can walk the Promenade des Remparts along the gallo Roman walls in parallel do not missed the rue Bourbonnoux with the Hôtel Lallemand a Renaissance building housing today the decorative arts museum. You are walking on pave brick streets ! Here in September you can see the night lights of Bourges event when all lights up coming into the night,

In city center Bourges you go to the Place Saint Bonnet then take the rue Edouard Vaillant to go to the avenue Marx-Dormoy, here you can access a unique land of another world, you are in the marshes of Bourges 130 hectares of green share in different parcels in the heart of the city. This swampy area serve as defense to the city for years and it was in the 13C that they were made into parcels for cultivation. Today there are about 1500 gardeners have replaced the pros market gardeners, There are several cabins that serves as housing, You keep going by a trail before you see a surprising bar on the chemin du Caraquis, a meeting place of gardeners, Here they regroup to go into the areas only accessible by boat, Instead you turn left into chaussée de Chappe until the railroad line that will bring you to the avenue Marx-Dormoy. Coming back you will have a great view of the Cathedral, Worth the walk and visit indeed ! To visit with the Association des Maraîchers berruyers with a guide contact webpage:

To recap the best to see in Bourges, many already written posts on it, These are: the Musée du Berry, Musée Estéve, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Musée des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France ,Palais Jacques Coeur, Cathédrale Saint Etienne de Bourges, Halle au Blé, Palais d’Auron, Church St Pierre, Church St Bonnet, Halles St Bonnet, and of course the marshes!

The city of Bourges on its heritage:

The Bourges tourist office :

The local Berry province tourist office on Bourges:

There you go folks, another dandy in my belle France! The sky is the limit so much to see all beautiful, and Bourges ranks up there with the best. Hope you enjoy this brief walk in Bourges as I.

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

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February 27, 2022

My walks of Amiens!!

This is another wonderful city to walk in my belle France. So many times in Amiens, yet not there lately due to the virus syndrome scaring us all. I have plenty written on it in my blog, so will do this one in my black and white series, no pictures. Hope you enjoy my brief walk of Amiens!!

And I take you up to Amiens, the heart of the Somme river. In the neighborhood of Saint Leu the town relive with modernity and keeping the old traditions of this great city of the north. This is the neightborhood of the artists and which the arm of the Somme river was a big help. Saint Leu was a little Venice of the North for Louis XI. A trip on its canals is a good initiation to the beat of Amiens.

You have narrow streets, winding with small colorful houses along the banks of the Somme river with restaurants, cafés, antiquares, the popular old neighborhood of Saint Leu comes to life.

By the Pont de la Dodane, and to the left the quai Bélu de la Queue de la Vache it was here that the beast were brought to the river, today is a big nightime of the locals is here. At no 35 there is a narrow impasse with colorful houses, and the passage Bélu few meters open the antiques and fleas market.

Going back out to the Pont du Cange the oldest in Amiens has lost two towers on the right the quai Parmentier the place of meeting of the market gardeners and gourmets every Saturday. You go on to the picturesque streets of Rue des Archers, rue des Coches, rue de Parcheminiers, will get you started in old Saint Leu showing the old traditions.

At the corner of rue de la Dodane and rue Motte, see several beautiful colorful houses with different materials from wood, to red bars, alternative of bricks to bring out the chalk or the flat tile or pan de Beauvais. On the other side of the river, see at No 56 the narrowest house in Saint Leu and at no 58 with four meters facade and two meters across a typicla house of Amiens. The rue Canteraine takes you to the pont à Moinet the most elegant. To the left, the sacristy of the Church Saint Leu straddling the canal, the passarelle to the right takes you to place Aristide Briand where on a green spot see Lafleur the homegrown puppet . You can see performances at the Théatre Chés Cabotans d’Amiens at 31 rue Edouard David, webpage:

And of course, you cannot miss this one ever, the grand gorgeous immense Cathédrale Notre Dame d’Amiens built between 1220 and 1270. Its dimensions are impressive with 145 meters long, an interior volume of 200K sq meters, it could hold two ND de Paris! A nave of 126 pillars that raise 42.5 meters high and spire of 113 meters. A biblical iconography that is simply awesome with 400 sculpture scenes on armrests of the 110 stalls with unusual representations of trades, stories, and other mores of daily life. From the north tower of the Cathedral and after climbing 307 steps you have a magnificent view of the city of Amiens with below the medieval bishop’s garden. The cathedral was destroyed in may 1940 in 60% rebuilt in the 1950’s.

The city of Amiens and its heritage:

The Amiens tourist office on its heritage:

Today we come to Amiens for the arts ;the history, the musée de Picardie housing a wonderful collection and to walk its streets or enjoy the terraces of Saint Leu. Nice Amiens in dept 80 of the Somme and in the region of Hauts de France. Enjoy the walks in Amiens!

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

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February 26, 2022

My walks of Arras!!

This is another wonderful city to walk in my belle France. So many times in Arras, yet not there lately due to the virus syndrome scaring us all. I have plenty written on it in my blog, so will do this one in my black and white series, no pictures. Hope you enjoy my brief walk of Arras!!

And I take you up to Arras do come here on a Wednesday or Saturday to enjoy the wonderful market in the place des Héros with about 250 merchants !

The Grand’Place and the Place des Héros are perpendicular and link by the rue de la Taillerie with 17 square km ! The two squares are bordered with 55 facades of the 17C to 18C and 300 columns , unique in the world ! All rebuilt after the Great War or WWI.

The facades at Place des Héros, and especially the houses with 3 cockerels at no 9, a siren at no 13 and a whale at no 64, On the Grand’Place you see the Maison des Trois Luppars the oldest from the 15C.

Next to the countryside Arras becomes a fairs town, a place of exchanges from the 9C. The city has the biggest cereal market north of Paris and a place for all wines destinations Pays Bas and Belgium, At this period the square Place des Héros also called the Petite Place was bordered with wooden houses and arcades housing shops, taverns, cellars etc as well as a subterranean cave of chalk that can be visited, You can climb the Beffroi or belfry with an elevator lift to see great views of the city, and also entered the cellars.

You go on to the Saint Vaast neighborhood, to see the Hôtel de Ville gothic flamboyant style and a Renaissance facade ! When you take the rue de la Taillerie you see the glorious past of bed sheets in Arras as in the Middle Ages the hall of bed sheets was found here. Move on to the Place Guy-Mollet to the left see at no 4 rue du Marché-au-Filé, the Mont de Piété the first example of gables made of curves and countercurves, A bit further you see the Cathedral Saint Vaast built on the old medieval cathedral with imposing dimensions on a gothic layout and a neo classic decoration, Next to it the former abbey sold as national property in the French revolution that houses today the fine arts museum or Beaux-Arts,22 rue Paul Doumer, the original lion that is mounted on the belfry.

The first belfries were used to sound the alarm and gathered the troops in case of an attack, However, from the 11C, the economic push of the cities and a new class made them serve other purposes such as prisons, keeper of the seal and place of meeting of aldermens, Therefore, to show this economic power, one builds a belfry higher than the next town, Until the construction of the belfry of Lille in 1929, the one in Arras was the highest with 75 meters, and built since 1453 ! , The clock is seen on its four faces to be seen by the entire population, and to show the influence of the church, The sound had meanings, such as Banclocque to call the aldermen to meetings, Effroy yells fire, couvre feu meaning sunrise and sunset , and Guet the monitoring of the city . Today the belfry serves a rallient point of the town where concerts are held like in Arras every Saturday morning,

There are still several mansions in the art déco style by rue Saint Aubert or nearby the Italian inspired Theater.

The city of Arras on its cultural sites :

The city of Arras on its heritage :

The Arras tourist office on must sees :

There you go folks, another dandy city this time of the north of my belle France. This is Arras , Pas de Calais dept 62 of the region of Hauts de France. Hope you enjoy the brief walk in city center, worth the detour.

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

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February 26, 2022

On the road warrior trails on the D670!!

Well found me two pictures that need to have in my blog, after all is my life’s history. I have material for a while but in the meantime let me tell you about the road warrior trails on the D670 road!!! Hope you enjoy the story as I.

I was in my road warrior trails coming from Spain and trying to avoid toll roads and see more of my belle France. So I took the D670 on a rainy day and in some parts hail. The road was created in 1933,and it was defined as the road from Saint-André-de-Cubzac to La Réole as a national road N 670.  It was downgraded in 1973 to a department road or  D670.

And of course, while passing driving on this road we came into a nice little village another picturesque spot in my belle France. This was La Riviére!!

La Rivière is located in the Gironde department 33 in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. This town has 427 inhabitants (2018), spread over 3.22 km, It owes its name to its location nestled on the banks of the Dordogne river. It is said that Charlemagne installs a watchtower on a promontory at the site of a Gallo-Roman tomb in 769. It serves as a lookout to alert the military camp located further at Fronsac.

The interesting thing to see here are the Church of Notre-Dame dating back to the 11C. In the 19C, a bell tower was added to the church. The vault of the sanctuary, as well as the semicircular doorway and the narrow windows visible on the south wall, date from the 11C. The nave with ogival vault is a little later since it dates from the 12C. Another we passed by and took a peek was the  Château de La Rivière. Wine is grown there and the historic cellars are open to visitors. The estate covers 100 hectares, including 65 hectares of vines producing AOC Fronsac wines, The current château was completed in 1577! The sad story of the castle/Château de La Riviére is that in September 2003 its owner became James Grégoire who,on December 19, 2013, sold the property to Lam Kok, a Chinese businessman, president of the Bolian group, specializing in the sale of Pu’er teas. Wanting to show him around the estate in his helicopter, he crash lands in the Dordogne, killing James Grégoire, Lam Kok and his 12-year-old son, as well as his adviser. Madame Lau, widow of Lam Kok, survivor of the accident, then becomes, alone, the owner of Château de La Rivière,to this day.


The official Château de La Riviére

The Fronsadais tourist board on La Riviére heritage

The community of towns of the Fronsadais on La Riviére

Continuing along this D670 road we reach the hamlet of Cantenac.

I passed by the Château Cantenac an 18.7 hectare wine estate located in the town of Saint-Émilion . However, way outside thet own on the road D670 actually closer to Libourne. 


The official Château Cantenac

The Saint Emilion tourist office on the castle viticole

The Community of towns of the Saint Emilion area on St Emilion

There you go folks, a dandy road warrior trip in beautiful wine country of my belle France. The beautiful scenery of country air and the smell of vineyards, can’t beat this combination love it. Hope you enjoy this bit of road warrior trip and do it when possible.

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

February 26, 2022

Bordeaux and its castles!!!

I have plenty on wines in my blog , one of my passions since childhood, I have,also written on the Bordeaux region, my favorite wine place in the world, However, I like to do a black and white series, no pictures on the architecture style of the place, Therefore, here is Bordeaux and its castles!!! Bear with me and hope you enjoy it as I.

There is a word in Bordeaux call castle or château very confusing to some, especially those not from the wine trade or passionate as I. There is a « château viticole » ; it designate the wine and the property that produces it, The name on the label does not mean that it is a castle from the architectural point of view as there are some castles that are simple homes without having an influence on the high and low quality of the wine. In a radius of 60 km (about 37 miles) from Bordeaux, the wine region includes 3 sectors : The estuary of the Gironde with the Médoc and the Blayais ; the Garonne with its left bank Sauternes and Graves, and the right bank of the Dordogne with the Libourne. A total of over 115k hectares with about 4K properties that have on their label the word castle Château.

The fashion of the châteaux viticoles left the Médoc to gain other appellations, It was here that before the 17-18C appears the designation more often the reconvertion of a agricultural domain, The 19C created a frenzy to built these castles first in the Médoc then in other appellations like Saint Emilion, Sauternes, and Fronsac, etc, The castles were built with a commercial eye with theatrical decorations, beautiful architecture that represented the quality of wines to the public, A very modern approach in the 19C. The concept of « Bourdieu » understood to be the exploitation of an agricultural domain including the house and its dependencies, They were administered by a manager and it was developped rapidly from the 16C on the banks of the Garonne and the Gironde, An example exist in Barsac with the Maison forte de la Sallasse , a fortified house. This one dates from the 14C very well preserve to our days, It is said to be built in 1340 still under English domination with a defensive wall today gone.

The commercial boom came in the 18C with the islands in the Americas and a triangular commercial entreprise, The interest of England that asked for fine wines created the production towards the high end, It is the reason why the new French clarets the ancestors of our wines today were sold four times more than the classic clarets while at the same time appeared the first cork bottle wines. During the Second Empire (Napoléon III) the commerce done thanks to the agreement of free trade and the railroad line between Bordeaux and Paris put the lights on the Bordeaux wines. Other regions such as Saint Emilion, Pomerol, Sauternes, put the competition on the quality level, The Bordeaux wines tried to differentiate themselves by bringing on the name Château/castle.

The great dates of wine making in the Bordeaux/Médoc area comes from the 1C when the merchants of Narbonne were more expensive and the grape biturica was well in the Roman areas of Brittany that is England. Jump to the 12-13C thanks to this commerce with England made more so from the Aquitaine was English and later when it came back to France in 1224 Bordeaux becomes a very important port, The vineyards extends to Saint Emilion, Bourg and Blaye, Again in the 17C the arrival in Bordeaux of the merchants Flamandes that encourage the making of white and sweet wines, To the claret for England becomes more so preferable the black wines of Spain (the reds), Coming to the 18C the golden age of Bordeaux ! The image of the Pontac family and their Haut-Brion started the movement, The fine Bordeaux wines conquers and give rise to the Grand Crus, In the 19C the classification of 1855 give priority to the château wines making a list of 58 grand crus of the Médoc and Haut Brion on red wines and 22 sweet wines of Sauternes, In this period many castles were built between 1850 and 1880. And we come to the 20C, here in 1935 was created the INAO (Institut de l’Origine et de la qualité) that groups the properties of the control origins, Bordeaux is reborn again from 1960 onwards to today.

Now good moment to tell you about the Médoc again (see post), as most call it Bordeaux but as you can see above, the name of Bordeaux is a much bigger area. My best wines comes from the Médoc. This is the region bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Gironde, pointe de Grave, and the Landes forest as well as the Bruges marshes. There are three parts: the Bas-Médoc, the Haut-Médoc and the Landes, and two terroirs, the famous Médoc vineyard along the estuary, and the Landes du Médoc towards the ocean. Get it or ask me.

Some brief description of what it is a Bordeaux « château »:

First in the property you have the master house normally rectangular in shape with small towers and decorative elements ; the wings holds the most important facade. Then you have the commons ,which could be attach to the master house in U shape or apart, This is for the animals, stables etc. Then, you have the vinification buildings ,which could be near or apart, with industrial materials like bricks, metal poles, for the vats and cellars. You have the vat where the juice is put to ferment in older days of wood or stone, and today of concrete or stainless steel, and sometimes a press on the same building. The cellars house the barrils where the wine is aged before putting them in the bottle. The big properties have a large personnel that have rooms for them such as in the Château Margaux, You have gardens, to make the castle look in a natural environment, There are chapels apart from the above buildings and sometimes in the extension of a wing;this tell us the merchants speak with God without passing by a priest or parish such as the Chapelle de Château Loudenne. Today the cellars are a work of art build by the great masters of architecture such as those in the Château-Rothschild work of Ricardo Bofill (RIP) or Egyptians lines like the Château Pichon-Longueville done by Jean de Gastines and Patrick Dillon.

Again for reference, the main cultivated grapes here and by now spread all over the world proof of French excellence are : Merlot, Cabinet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Cot for the reds , and Sémillon, Sauvignon, and Muscadelle for the whites.

Let me give some examplary properties ,briefly:

The Château Haut-Brion built in the middle of the 16C, the master house is rectangular from the times of Jean de Pontac by 3 corner towers of which one is gone, The facade is in one floor with reduce decorations and old fashion renaissance look. One of the owners of this castle was Talleyrand for four years between 1801 and 1804.

The Château Margaux, in neo classic or neo palladien style in an antique decoration baptised the « Versailles of the Médoc » built between 1810 and 1816. The master house is like a theater on adriveway of plane trees , the facade has 30 bays on four levels with in the middle a monumental stair and at its feet two sphinxes looking like the guardians of the place. The front has four iconic columns of great majesty, It has nice commons as mentioned above, The anecdote here is that after the French revolution the castle is acquired by immigrant Spaniard Bertrand Douat , Marquis de la Colonilla, and later in 1816 it passes by another Spaniard Alexandre Aguado and in 1977 to a Greek André Mentzelopoulus, it is his daughter Corinne at the commands today.

Other follies came like the Garros dynasty in the second half of the 19C with a mix of architectural influences from Italy, England and the Loire valley. Examples of this are the Château Clément-Pichon in Parempuyre with the loire castle inspiration. The castle fortress of Sauternes where they are inhabited all year as an agriculture domain, examples are the Château d’Yquiem at Preignac built in the 15C but renovated several times thereafter. The Tudor style with the English influence in its golden age of the 19C expecially the Oxford style, Examples of these is the Château Cantenac-Brown in Margaux built for John Lewis Brown in the middle of the 19C. You ,also , have the charterhouses like those in Périgord and in Bordeaux are call « girondines » built between 1650 and 1850 with a central master house surrounded by two wings and a principal door in the middle, examples of this style is the Château Loudenne in Saint Yzans de Médoc, The one unique is the Cos d’Estourel a castle apart ! Chinese pagodas without any style but universal look and a simple Burgundian master house,An eclectique decoration with theatrical look in the cellars with heads of bulls, dragons, etc. The main door of the cellars all in sculpture wood comes from the palace of the Sultan of Zanzibar ! This is the masterpiece of Louis Gaspard d’Estournel, inherits some vinyards in 1810 at Cos that means in old gascon pebble hill, his wines were appreciated by the tzar of Russia, Queen Victoria, Napoléon III, Stendhal, Jules Verne, Eugéne Labiche and even Karl Marx ! Ruined by his lifestyle he sells Cos in 1823 to an English banker with the right to stayed in the property. He died at the age of 91 while able to see the consecration of his castle at the head of Saint Estéphe in the classication of 1855.

The Bordeaux tourist convention office on wine castles:

The Bordeaux city tourist office on wine castles:

The city of Bordeaux on wine heritage:

There you go folks a wonderful world of Bordeaux and its castles. Hope you have a little better idea of what a castle means in Bordeaux and appreciate better its wines. Hope you enjoy the post as I. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

February 25, 2022

My walks of Nantes!!!

And I bring you to Nantes for another of my favorite walks, I have been saying in my blog, the best way to see a city is by walking it ; we do go in by car but then is walk all over, Above ground you see more of the beautiful architecture and read up on the magnificent history, I have plenty of posts on Nantes in my blog, so this one will be on my black and white series,no pictures. Therefore, here is my take on my walks of Nantes !!! Hope you enjoy it as I.

Nantes is a city along the Loire river and its quays, You can see it at the Place de la Petite Hollande with arch circle going around the ïle Feydeau where we start our walk. Here every Saturday along the Quai Turenne and Quai de l’Ïle Gloriette in the morning the fisherman brings their catch as well as vegetable vendors for a wonderful market, Before leaving the square look up the mansions telling us of the richness of the seamen in the 18C. Go up to rue Kervégan crossing the ïle Feydeau in half and at no 13 see the details of the macarons making reference to the sea ; push the door at no 11 and see a beautiful courtyard all this wonderful architecture around the allée de Turenne, Cour Ovale, and quai de la Fosse as well, At no 40 cours Clisson you see the birthhouse of Jules Verne and more narrow streets where you come to the Chapelle de Bon-Secours dedicated to the fishermen.

Return these streets to the allée Duguay-Trouin, and go across place de la Petite Hollande again to go over the quai de la Fosse ; at no 15 and 17 you see beautiful mansions with great sculptures showing once again the seamen past of Nantes, Around the pont Anne de Bretagne that you encounter again the Loire, you can go along with the tramway stop/arrêt Chantiers-Navals and descend at the next stop Gare Maritime, Or go on foot along the trails of the Loire Quai de la Fosse, then Quai de l’Aiguillon and see the vast river behold of the mighty Loire ! You can visit the musée Naval Maillé-Brézé a floating military museum , by here you can take the Trentemoult the navibus that takes you to this tranquil island still looking like a fishing village of old, You have a nice view from the hill or Butte Sainte Anne, Going back to the quai de l’Aiguillon go up to the rue de l’Hermitage and see the neighborhood of Sainte Anne for a nice view of the old Nantes and see the city center from the quai des Antilles.

I take you to the Bouffay neighborhood, and the medieval old town with its wonderful shops,restos at the heart of Nantes, The heart of the neighborhood is of course the Place Bouffay with the medieval look on its restaurants, bars and shops where we start our walk.

Every wednesday you have a bio and brocantes are held here, You go right into the rue de la Vieille-Monnaie , rue des Echevins and follow the rue du Bouffay then that of rue Vieil-Hôpital you are at the heart of the free town of Bouffay declare as is since 1976. Come back a few steps and go into rue de la Bletterie and turn immediately right into rue Beauregard and continue straight into the Place Sainte Croix, in front of the Church Sainte Croix you see a beautiful classic facade with a belltower from the 19C. Here since 1803 reign the store Devineau selling wax candles, Very near see the rue Travers to the place du Change, see again beautiful mansions in wood covered with tiles especially the Maison des Apothicaires a nice medieval one, come back to the Place Sainte Croix and go around the church on your left. At no 7 there is a wooden house from the 15C and at no 7 rue de la Juverie another mansion with a cross of Saint Andrews.

You can continue in this medieval beautiful part of Nantes by walking on the rue de la Baclerie, and rue des Petits-Ecuries, Follow here on your left to rue des Chapeliers, than right into rue du Château that takes you straight to the château des ducs de Bretagne (castle of the dukes of Brittany) passing the vast rue de Strasbourg. Take your back to the castle and go on rue Prémion and then go up rue Mathelin-Rodier, See the curious letter P let all know in the middle ages the present of wells in these houses in case of fire, you know where the water was ! At the top you come to the Place Saint Pierre that takes you to the magnificent Cathedral St Pierre et St Paul. The Rue de Verdun along the cathedral to the porte St Pierre at the limit of the old town see the column Louis XVI (one of five still in France) where it dominates the cours St Pierre that gives you a nice walk to the castle and not far the dome of the tour LU telling us of another era of the Lefévre-Utile (LU).

We come now to the classic Graslin neighborhood, all arts and business and again a naval past. Here you have the Place du Commerce where we will start our walk. Beautiful architecture all around you, not far from the square you come to the rue de Gorges that takes you to the Place Royale created in 1790. There is a monumental fountain celebrating the Erdre,Loire, Sévre,Cher and Loiret rivers (see post) Also, the city of Nantes represented by a women crown at its feet curious personages to tell us of the rich past of fisherman, mariners, and the industrial port, Behind it the narrow streets takes you to the Church St Nicolas.

You go down rue de la Fosse to reach the quai de la Fosse and stop to seee beautiful facades of mansions at no 7 and 9 a rich library and chocolaterie dating from 1850. You must stop enter admire the Passage Pommeraye (see post) and go up the wonderful wooden stair inside. This building was done in 1843 along the spirit of the passages of Paris. Go down a few meters to the corner with rue Crébillon that takes you to the place Graslin with a beautiful theater Graslin with sumptous decorations of busts of Voltaire, Rousseau, Racine, Corneille, Moliére, etc. Right here see the famous restaurant Cigale deco 1900 ( see wooden clock a cicada on the facade , which rang at the end of each intermission and invited spectators and actors to return to the theater). Continue on the rue Voltaire and its wonderfully beautiful mansions of the 19C heritage of shipbuilders of yesteryear, To the right of this square you come into the building of the Monnaie that houses since 1875 the National History Museum, continue to the place Jean V and see the Archeological museum Dobré inside the park see the nice manoir de la Touche. Finally go into rue des Cadeniers straight ahead you see mansions of the boat chain and metal builders with a pretty view of the Loire on your right and on the left the rich cours Cambronne.

The Nantes tourist office:

The city of Nantes:

The Loire Atlantique tourist office on Nantes:

There you go folks, another dandy spot for us and a must to visit, Nantes is wonderful. And now you know walking in Nantes is sublime, worth the walk! Another beauty in my belle France! Again ,hope you enjoy the post and visit when possible

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

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