Archive for February 28th, 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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