Archive for March 16th, 2022

March 16, 2022

Brocéaliande, a land of fairy tales and magic !

And we have to go and meet king Arthur and magical Merlin in Brocéliande , the region of fairy tales and magic. Since a boy, I always heard the wonderful stories of the magician Merlin, the Vivianne, and king Arthur and the round table. I have passed by the area several times on quick runs, and finally decided to visit this part of Brittany with the family. We headed out early on road N24 to link up at past Ploërmel with the road D724, direction Campénéac then the road D40 direction Paimpont, to go back and around the region from there. This was an introduction to this area and will do in my black and white series, no pictures, See the corresponding post in my blog.

The first town we stop was Campénéac, founded from Roman times, and birthplace of a great religious leader and movement that of Armélie Nicolas or the Bonne Armélie. Her skull head is kept at the town’s Church and the body at the Cathédrale de Vannes. You have nearby the tombs of the giants and the abbey la Joie de Notre Dame . As for the tombeau des géants, they are the tomb,  measuring nearly 4 meters long and 1 meter wide with 1 meter in height. This tomb was built from 3 menhirs that stood in this place by 2200 BC.  Today are visible walls and 3 menhir lying at 8 meters, The tomb you see today dates from the Bronze age (about 1500 BC).  Its name is probably due to its shape and its dimensions. There are marked by a panel just out of Campénéac from the road D312 to the D40. We decided to walk around a bit in the town and took an aim at the church where a woooden carved devil holds the table of the priest in the altar, but it was closed.  Church of the Trinity of the most Holy Virgin or église de la Nativité de la Très Sainte-Vierge.

We continue on to Paimpont, we heard a lot of good about the town, but the abbey was under renovation,and it is heavily tourist invaded, not really my cup of tea ,living here.  Again seen from the outside, the abbey of Paimpont is an impressive building.  There is some treasury visits in the summer months, but not for me. Built in the 13C, on the site of a Priory founded in 645 by Lacy, king of Dumnonia. Benedictine monastery originally, it was the 13C inhabited by canons until the French revolution, Medieval Gothic style (walls, openings, the baptistery and the chapel of St-Sacrement, the vault), the abbey presents interior decoration (Chair, statue,altars, and altarpieces) characteristic of the baroque style of the 17C. The sacristy contains the Treasury of the Abbey church composed of a beautiful Christ in ivory (17C),  a reliquary (15C) offered by the Duchess Margaret of Brittany, mother of Anne of Brittany, which would contain a radius of Saint Luke, a statue in polychrome wood (15C).  The town has a picturesque open air city center full of shops , and lodgings.

If you go further out of town, road D224 well marked, you arrive at an old foundaries place call Les Forges de Paimpont. you see a foundary site as it was in the middle ages, with a chapel, and now ok to reserve for events and marriages etc. It is a private property today. This is worth stopping by indeed.  As early as 1675, Des Forges settled in the heart of the forest of Paimpont / Brocéliande.  Now, the 3 components of a forge are gathered here, the ore, wood and water. In the 18C, Diderot and d’Alembert retain the refinery to illustrate “the encyclopedia”.  Des Forges ensure orders linked to the war of independence of the United States of America. The maison de Maître de Forges, as well as worker homes are built start 18C on a plan or map of the 17C.  In the 19C, during the reign of king Louis XVIII, the Forges must modernise; a state of the art made (which gave us a beautiful series of detailed plans visible at the National Archives in Paris). Competitive prices from foreign firms , especially English, made the furnaces  stop in 1866 and then resume activity for the war of 1870 to stop permanently in 1880.   We can observe some products manufactured in these Forges (screw press, chimney plates, forged… nails) are visible in some masonry. This activity will stop in 1954.   A restoration program is committed with the assistance of the State, the Council régional de Bretagne, Conseil Général D’ille et Vilaine and the owner. webpage:

We continue passing by Beignon, and seeing the nice Church Saint Pierre, it is in the form of a Latin cross from ealry the 16C. You can admire beautiful classified stained-glass windows dating from the 16C,  depicting the tree of  Jesse and the life of St Pierre and its pits carved frame.  The north gate is dated 1268 and an episcopal crest.

Near Guer, on the road D773 we stopped by the école militaire de Saint Cyr-Côetquidan, they started out by order of emperor Napoléon 1ér out of the Château de Fontainebleau,and then at Saint-Cyr in my old dept 78 Yvelines. The schools are in order since 1805. Inside the one at Guer there is a museum. It is a museum of memories or musée du Souvenir, of all the officers dead for France in all wars. Many statues objects,and uniforms, and outside many statues of heroes. You will need to provide identification and register at the front entrance before told where the museum is located ar Rue Rivoli Inside the camp, Defense Ministry of France webpage:

Moving righth along on this wooded heavily forest area, we came back on the road D773 to St Malo de Beignon, where at the leisure lake base you have a minituare harbor! or Port Miniature,  from boats to rowing to coast guard boats all in small scales right on the lake.  You get to ride all these miniatures boats,and there is picnic area around the lake very nice. They even allow camping here with 50 spots. and there is the Cap Vert  restaurant on site.  The town is very nice medieval and quaint narrow streets in the old bishops palace of the bishop of Saint Malo.

We arrive at the wonderful town of Plélan le Grand, where we immediately sighted the Church.  The St. Peter’s church or église St Pierre  was built from 1850 in a spot of the church from the 13C which survives that of Sainte-Anne Chapel . A tower dating from 1620 plays the role of Bell Tower. It has a wonderful calvary on the side, beautifully done. We walked this town up and down very lively , very friendly folks, we purchase our baguette for home here at  Michel Bellier boulangerie, pâtisserie on 53 Avenue de la Libération, the main road of the town.

And the time for lunch came at Plélan le Grand. We heard of all the famous ones at the tourist office, but we went to a people place, down to earth and friendly folks , full, but so friendly, the owners do the the cooking and serving and it shows. Les Boucaniers or the Buccaneers restaurant not far from the Church on the main street of ave de la libération, and rue Nationale ,same road. Here we got the big table by the bar, as the back dining room was full. We were behind a door with a picture of Marilyn Monroe, figure it was the toilet or restroom but it was the stock room so all the good stuff was right behind us! The lady owner server was laughting with us all the way. They serve several servings of bread and butter, plenty of water, and good Grimbergen blonde beers. We had the house menu du jour, for an excellent 10,70€ per person. You have entrée buffet with cold cuts, terrines of paté campagne and mousse de  salmon, hard boiled eggs, pasta with shurimi shrimps, potato salad, just to start, then the main dish was hashi parmentier with pork and sausage meats, and bottom cut of steaks, with fries and salads greens, and for desserts, fondant de chocolat, and sorbet framboise and various fruits shunks; the beers we double it, so the total bill came to 16€ per person, a great bargain and sure to remember this place, A bit more on the restaurant guru reviews webpage:

The Brocéliande area tourist office for the above:

There you go folks a nice road warrior ride to introduce us to this magical area and we have been back ! Hope you enjoy the ride in Brocéliande and see the fairy tales and magic as I. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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March 16, 2022


I like to tell you further about a lovely town I like a lot and lucky enough to lived next to it for 9 years. As an introduction will be on my black and white series, no pictures, This is an update of an older post. The wonderful Royal town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye in the department 78 Yvelines, region of Île de France. Many memories with the family here on its castle museum and especially the open market with a city center of over 700 stores!!!

Saint-Germain-en-Laye is located at about 20 km west of Paris. The history of the the city is linked to that of the Castle, that was a regular residence of the kings of France, and the Forest an old Royal hunting grounds. The forest of 4800 hectares is the biggest in the department (3rd in the region behind Fontainebleau and Paris). It occupies the biggest part of the meeting of the Seine river and mostly covered by the forest. The historic site of the city is on the south east of the territory on a chalky plateau dominating the Seine river valley at 60 meters where you have an splendid view of the western part of Paris. Therefore, the city is really a rural town with about 73% of its area covered by the forest.

Next as always, like to tell you a bit on history I like.

The city of Saint-Germain was known as a blessed site in 1073, later a Germanic Saintly area in 1124,and known as the Sanctus Germanus in Leia from 1161. Saint-Germain goes back to the construction by the king of France, Robert II ,the Pious, a monastery dedicated to Saint Germain ,(probably that of the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés) that lived in the forest in the 6C . The rest of the name is probably the situation in an old forest of Lida that covered the region so therefore, en Laye. So, the name can be translated as Saint-Germain-dans-la-forêt (forest). By 1124, king Louis VI the Fat wanting to enforce his authority in France decided to built a Royal residence on the current site of the Castle facing the priory of Saint-Germain. In 1223, king Philippe-Auguste had built the first Chapel dedicated to Notre Dame. The regent queen Blanche de Castille, governing over the period of 1226-1236, had improved the road between Saint-Germain and Poissy thru the forest ,and on the part of the Castle where Saint Louis grew up having built a Chapel in 1238. In 1286,under king Philippe IV the Beautiful, the city becomes a prevost and first rang of Royal justice. With a Charter of 1305, Robert de Meudon was given by the King a home in Saint-Germain-en-Laye and made chief baker. In another charter of 1307, Robert de Meudon was name Concierge of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. During 1346, while the overlap of king Edward III during the war of Hundred years the Black Prince, son of the king of England occupied Poissy, ransacking and burning the Castle of Saint-Germain-en-Laye that  was finally destroyed, except the Holy Chapel. 20 years later under king Charles V,it will be rebuilt and turned into a fortress; the castle is eventually taken by the English from 1417 to 1440.

When king François Ier, marries Claude de France (daughter of Anne of Brittany) in 1514 the castle becomes Royal residence and a favorite of the king. king Henri II is born at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, becoming king in 1547. He starts the construction of the new castle or Château neuf with worked beginning in 1559 and finished under the reign of king Henri IV in 1600. Another king Charles IX ,also, born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, established in 1561 the first glass factory like those in Venice. In 1562 the Edit of Saint Germain gives the Protestants the right to free conscience and freedom of the cult. In 1570, the Peace Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye put an end to the third war of Religion. The king Louis XIII spent his enfant years at the old Castle or Château-Vieux. Later ,during a hunting trip in 1617 he discovered Versailles where he ordered built a hunting lodge and signed the demise of Saint Germain. On September 5 1638 it is born here Louis Dieudonné, future king Louis XIV. king Louis XIII died in the old castle or Château-Vieux on May 14 1643. From 1661 to 1682, the king Louis XIV spent a greater part of his time in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. He ordered renovate the gardens of André Le Notre , French style , and the Grande Terrasse between 1663 to 1680. Also, remodeled the apartments in the Château-Vieux ,done by Le Brun and Le Vau.

By 1680 worked began of the enlargement of the castle under the watchful eye of Jules Hardouin-Mansart,with the construction of five pavilions at an angle. Madame de Montespan ordered built a hospital Royal General Hospital as well as the Convent of the Ursulines. By April 1682,as the worked on the castle are been finished, the court departs definitively for Versailles. Saint-Germain-en-Laye comes to a stop even with the visit of the king of Great Britain James II, cousin of Louis XIV that lived in exile in the castle from 1689 to his death in 1701 (He is buried in the Church of Saint Germain across from the Castle now). In 1777, king Louis XVI bequest the Château-Neuf, already in bad shape to his brother Charles, Count of Artois,the future king Charles X. king Charles X ordered the castle demolished in ordered to have it rebuilt completely, not enough time in history….

By November 1st 1793, and by decree of the revolutionary Convention the city is renamed as Montagne-du-Bon-Air. By 1794, the town of Saint-Léger-en-Laye,that extended over the Valley of the Buzot (small river) is absorbed by Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Under the period of the First Empire , the Château-Vieux is repaired and house a school of cavarlry;; hosting the School of special military cavarlry that opened in 1809, and later in 1914 integrated with the school of special military cavalry of Saint-Cyr. By 1811,there is the creation of the education house for the legion of honor or Maison d’éducation de la Légion d’honneur des Loges wanted by Napoléon 1er. The city is occupied between 1814-1815 by the allied troops of Russians, Prusians and British that have won over Napoléon 1er. From 1836 to 1855,the castle is made into a military prison.

During WWII Saint-Germain-en-Laye, is not affected much. The town is occupied by the Nazis on June 14 1940 and liberated on August 25 1944. The HQ of the Nazi army was housed in the Pavillon Henri IV; and from here they planned the invasion of Great Britain on Opération Seelöwe. Then, Saint-Germain-en-Laye becomes the seat of the commandent of the Nazi forces covering from Norway to Biarritz; several bunkers were built from 1943 by workers from the Organisation Todt,and especially those built underground along the street rue Félicien-David.  In May 1954, the HQ of the US forces in Europe or USEUCOM was housed in the Camp des Loges. This created 261 housing projects called village SHAPE that were built in the domain of the Castle of Hennemont just on the outer limits of the city. The US HQ leaves Saint-Germain-ne-Laye on February 5 1967 when General de Gaulle decided to quit NATO.

Let me tell you about the things to see here, so many; great town. These are:

The Castle or Château-Vieux, and ruins of the Château-Neuf ; Royal residence of France since king Louis VI the Fat until king Louis XIV. The current castle is in the Renaissance style rebuilt by king François Ier ,and restored under emperor Napoléon III. It has still the beautiful Holy Chapel (13C) in Gothic style with a donjon tower from the 14C. Today, it houses the magnificent archeological museum or musée d’Archéologie nationale. The Château-Neuf of king Henri II and Henri IV, destroyed at the end of the 18C only remains the old oratory of the king where according to records was born the future king Louis XIV, and today this piece can be found where is the restaurant now of the Pavillon Henri IV. The terrace of the Castle done by Le Nôtre from 1669 to 1674,extending on a straight line over 2400 meters long by 30 meters wide linking the center of Saint-Germain to the castle lawn, and wonderful views over the Seine valley direction the town of Le Pecq and views of La Défense ,and Paris.

The museum other than the before mentioned you have the nice musée Claude-DebussyMusée du général Leclerc de Hauteclocque and the Armored 2nd Division,in the district of Gramont. The Castle was inhabited by hermits established in 1624 king Louis XIII bequested in 1685 to the Religious order of Saint Augustin that stayed there until the French revolution.  King Louis XVIII, in 1825 declared the branch as well as those of Saint-Denis. The prestigious high school or Le lycée international de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, located on a hill in the domain of the Castle of Hennemont built in 1907 on the site of an old priory of Hennemont by the pharmacist Henri Cannone, the inventor of the Valda tablets. You have the mansion or Pavillon de la Muette, old place of get together for the Royal hunt on the north of the forest of Saint Germain and built for the king Louis XV in 1775 on the ruins of an old castle of king François Ier. Also, the mansion or Pavillon de la Croix de Noailles, another site for Royal hunting and now an Italian restaurant, L’Osteria.

The Convent of Loges, founded in 1644 by Anne of Austria on the place of an old hermit of Saint Fiacre,in the middle of the forest ,and it is here since 1811 that the house for the education of the legion of honor is located. The buildings were totally rebuilt in the 19C. The parish Church of Saint-Germain, across from the Castle is where you find the mausoleum of the exile king of Great Britain James II (Stuart), that lived and died at the Castle. You have the old Church of Saint-Léger, oldest in town but the current church was renovated in 1961. The Chapel of the Hospital Saint Louis built in 1883 on the Roman style and the Chapel of the convent of the Ladies of Saint-Thomas, built end of the 18C. The Prieuré or old home of the painter Maurice Denis, that has a nice museum since 1980 dedicated to his work, and the place originally built in the end of the 17C by Madame de Montespan to house a general royal hospital. The Chapel is decorated by Maurice Denis. The aqueduct of Retz; and underground aqueduct built under king Louis XIV to feed water to the castle from water sources in the valley of the Buzot river. You can see a glance of it in the domaine of Château Saint-Léger (HQ of automobile Ford-France)my kind of building!

Several mansions I like are the pavillon d’Angoulême, hôtel de Conti , Hôtel de Madame de Maintenon, hôtel de Noailles, hôtel de Soubise, hôtel de Retz, hôtel de Rochefort, hôtel de la Rochefoucauld(built 1772 and city hall since 1842), hôtel de Rohan,and hôtel de Villeroy. You have the huge wonderful Forest of Saint Germain en Laye, especially the walktrail of Sentier des Oratoires of about 18 km long and allowing you to walk the forest and see the four historic crosses such as Croix Pucelle(1456),Croix Dauphine(1540), Croix Saint-Simon(1635), and the Croix de Noailles(1751), as well as houses on loges including where it was consacrated Saint Fiacre in the clearance of Clairière des Loges, the origin of a procession and festival des Loges today. See the wines ,vineyards here at the terraced vigne du Pecq and Saint-Germain, with 1900 pieds of Pinot Noir; bringing back an old tradition where the red wine is done on caves wines or Vin des grottes that is not sold.

The Transports brief info here/ connecting to Paris is easy on the RER A line at the train station or gare de Saint-Germain-en-Laye ,been the terminus for this line on the west. Boutique SNCF, 5 rue de Poissy, You have wonderful roads such as the old reliable N13 with a four lane deviation south of the city that linked Paris to Mantes-la-Jolie on the west, and the N184 links Saint-Germain-en-Laye to Conflans-Sainte-Honorine and further to Cergy-Pontoise crossing the forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. These two cross at Bel-Air, and can connect to the expressways or autoroute A13 on the exchanger of Orgeval located about 8 km west of the city as well as the A14 link by the exchange at Chambourcy at about one km from the city on the west side. The Autoroute A14 goes underground of the city all the way and can reach La Defense as well. There are department roads criss crossing the city such as the wonderful D308 links to Maisons-Laffitte to Poissy by the forest and crossing the N184 by the Croix de Noailles ; the D157 links Mesnil-le-Roi to Maisons-Laffitte ; D190 crossing city center and links Le Pecq to Poissy; D98 link Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche and Les Clayes-sous-Bois towards the south. There is the city D284 that is by the road of loges (N184 north) at the exchanger towards the N13 and the D99 links with the exchanger towards the N13 at the entry to Mareil-Marly.

In the line of gastronomy, two recipes are a must here. Classic born at the historical place and now restaurant of the Pavillon Henri IV : These are the pommes soufflées created in 1837,on the occasion of the Queen Marie-Amélie when traveling on the first train line from Paris and Le Pecq, due to a lateness of the train; and the Bearnaise sauce created by chef Collinet in 1844.

The City of Saint-Germain-en-Laye on its heritage :

The Seine St Germain tourist office on St Germain en Laye :

There you go folks, a beautiful majestic city of Saint Germain en Laye. Long post but I think worth it. We love it and always looking forward to be back when possible, Hope you enjoy this introduction and see my other posts on it,

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

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March 16, 2022

The beaches of La Rochelle!!

This is one of our favorite cities in France , really, that is saying a lot when you have visited zillions of villages here over the years. I have overlook the beaches so let me tell you some more of La Rochelle.

I have several posts on La Rochelle in my blog, but touch sparingly the beaches, It has some nice one been by the coast so therefore here is my take on the beaches of La Rochelle !!! The city is in the Charente Maritime dept 17 of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region and of course, in my belle France !

La Rochelle was thalasso and thermes to begin with and it finally exploded with beachgoers from 1907 onwards. Renowned for the seawater swimming pools of its thalassotherapy centers from the 18C, it was with the opening of plage de la Concurrence beach that the town really became a seaside resort. At the beginning, the beach was summarily laid out and a wooden palisade separated it in two, the right part being reserved for the military. It was not until the takeover of the casino by the town in 1901 and the decommissioning of the fortifications, then the departure of the military that a new beach, larger and better equipped, was developed in 1907. The Concurrence beach was followed by that of the Minimes in 1978, then by that of Chef de Baie more recently.

The Plage de la Concurrence is the most central beach, the closest to the Old Port. 150 meters of sand along a beautiful promenade allées du mail. There is a restaurant and a snack. From this beach, one can see the Pointe de Chef de Baie on one side and the marina. On the left of the beach, there is an access for disabled people (with a provision of specific equipment) . There are also showers and toilets. A car park is available behind the restaurant at the roundabout and the allées du mail . We can see the Richelieu Lighthouse offshore, recognizable by its red color. I have to say this is more central and a favorite beach.


The Plage de Chef de Baie is located west of the Old Port, at the Pointe de Chef de Baie, behind a small fishing port and the commercial port of La Pallice. There is less than 200 meters of sand . Access to the beach is via stairs or a ramp near the first aid station. There are also showers and toilets with a small snack. A large free car park is also available.  This one, which is not far from the old port, is pleasant with a peripheral promenade, which overlooks 2 historical monuments: the battery and the Tour Carrée. It is also accessible to people with reduced mobility. The sand here is soft, not too many shells depending on the tides. This small beach is part of a 30-hectare site of the same name, classified as a Sensitive Natural Area, which is home to preserved animal and plant biodiversity.

The Plage des Minimes is located between the marina and the Pointe de Minimes with some part bordering the pine forest. It is equipped for disabled guests (next to the dam, near the port and the aid station). There are also toilets and showers. Over the 200 meters of sand, one can enjoy the sand and the beach amenities. In summer, there is a beach volleyball court. The area nearest to the pine forest (at the alley Stella Maris) is not monitored and swimming can be dangerous because of sharp rocks. It is therefore advisable to use the area on the right to swim. Behind the dike and the port, there is a small beach reserved for water sports (windsurfing and small boats). A large car park is available behind the beach, there are restaurants and bars nearby. Sandy beach, ideal for families with children and for water activities: kayaking, stand up paddle, sailing, shore fishing, kite flying. In summer there is a beach volleyball court. The plage des Minimes beach faces the mythical Bout du Monde lighthouse ,and offers a splendid view of Fort Boyard and the islands of Ré and Oléron offshore. It is located on the edge of the large Parc des Pères, the starting point for a beautiful walk on the cliffs ! This our favorite beach!!!



The city of La Rochelle on its beaches :

My fav Plages TV webpage on the beaches of La Rochelle :

The La Rochelle tourist office on the beaches (see more but I gave you those on city limits) :

There you go folks a wonderful town for a stay of more than a day for sure. La Rochelle, we really like it and fond memories of it. There is wonderful beaches too and we love to be back the soonest, high on the list for sure. Hope you have enjoy the post on the beaches of La Rochelle as I.

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

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