Archive for November 12th, 2022

November 12, 2022

A passing by Viré !

As usual lately, digging into my vault of pictures found me one that led me to write this post. It’s a town need to see in detail ,this time it was just passing by Viré ! I like to included in my blog, after all, it is my life’s history of all places visited short or long. Hope you enjoy this new find as I.

The City of Vire is located in the Calvados department 14 of the Normandie region. The town is 30 km from Flers, 38 km from Saint-Lô and 60 km from Caen. The town is crossed by the departmental road 577 (former N 177) from Villers-Bocage to Mortain and by the D 524 (former N 24 bis) from Argentan to Granville. The D 674 (former N 174) from Vire to Carentan joins the D 577 to the north of the town. Flers, in the direction of Paris, is accessible by the D 524, Saint-Lô by the D 674 and Caen by the D 577. We have come down from the A84 rest area to the D674 .The train station of Vire is on the line of Paris-Vaugirard (Montparnasse 3) in Granville by which Villedieu- les-Poêles, Flers and Argentan can also be joined.

Vire Aire de la Vallée de la Vire Gouvets A84 going home 25sept11

A bit of history I like

In 1123, Henry I Beauclerc, King of England and Duke of Normandy, built on a rocky outcrop, bypassed by a meander of the Viré, a square keep with a first enclosure, to ensure the defense of the duchy against external support for its opponents, such as the troops of the Count of Anjou or the lords of Brittany, This set was, from the middle of the 13C, by order of Saint Louis, supplemented by external ramparts. This second enclosure was not completed until the beginning of the 14C. It corresponds to the current towers of Geôle, Saint-Sauveur, Raines, Douve and the Clock Gate, Under the reign of Louis XIII, like many defensive constructions of the Middle Ages that could serve possible rebellions (Huguenots in particular), the castle and its enclosure were dismantled on the orders of Richelieu,

Under the Terror,during the French revolution, the churches were closed, Notre-Dame became a fodder depot, Sainte-Anne a stable, Saint-Thomas a powder magazine and the Hôtel-Dieu a military hospital. A vast transfer of property, mainly benefiting the bourgeoisie, resulted from the sale of national assets. From 1795, the Chouans organized themselves in the bocage under the direction of Louis de Frotté. At the beginning of 1796, Viré was under siege. An attempt by Hoche to pacify the region failed and on October 25, 1799, de Frotté’s troops attacked Vire, which the national guardsmen, aided by reinforcements from across western Calvados, victoriously defended. The execution of de Frotté in February 1800 put an end to the Norman Chouannerie.

During WWII, on June 6, 1944 around 20h, like many other Norman towns, Viré suffered strategic Allied bombing and was destroyed at more than 95%, The soldiers of the 1st battalion of the 116th infantry regiment of the 29th US Infantry Division liberated the city on August 8, 1944, On January 1, 2016, Vire joined with seven other towns into the Viré-Normandie, The towns are Coulonces, Maisoncelles-la-Jourdan, Roullours, Saint-Germain-de-Tallevende-la-Lande-Vaumont, Truttemer-le-Grand, Truttemer-le-Petit, Vaudry and Viré, and Viré is the capital of the new town.

Things to see here and noted for a return visit are

The ruins of the 12C keep Tour de Coulonces. The sloped curtain platform located to the east of the castle. It currently serves as a retaining wall for the Place du Château. The ramparts will be demolished from 1720, and the ditches filled in. The Porte Horloge ,one of the entrance gates to the city,in the 13C and 15C is a square tower 33 meters high. Tour Saint-Sauveur ,only the north tower remains, 14C, Tour des Raînes (14C) near the southern end of the enclosure, at the corner of rue Valhérel, Tour de la Geôle. Tour de la Basirel corner of the enclosure. Tour de la Douve , located rue de la Douve which has since become rue Chênedollé.  The ramparts which replaced the old ditches, 7 meters wide and 5 meters deep.
Ruins of St. Thomas Church. It was originally dedicated to Saint Michael. This church, considered the oldest in the city, dates from the 12C. The base of the bell tower, the mutilated portal of the 12C and the bases of the walls of the nave remain. The  Church of Our Lady of Vire from the 13-16C. Built from around 1230, on the foundations of this chapel, in the primitive Gothic style, a new church was dedicated to Our Lady on July 20, 1272. It had to be restored in 1948 after the bombings of June 6, 1944. The 19C Sainte-Anne Church. Neo-Romanesque style. The Hôtel-Dieu (current Vire museum) from the 18C. The former convent of the Ursulines (became Saint-Louis hospice then Saint-Louis residence for the elderly within the hospital centre) from the 17-18C. The Hôtel Achard (17C ).  The Château du Cotin (18C, roof modified at the beginning of the 20C). King Charles X stayed here with his family on the night of August 11-12, 1830 during his exile to Great Britain. And of course, you have heard of the Andouille de Vire ,a charcuterie made from pork chaudin cut into strips before being stuffed into part of the large intestine. A local delicacy!

The City of Viré-Normandie on its heritage :

The Viré country tourist office on things to see

There you go folks, a nice introduction to nice Viré, for the memories of my road warrior trips. Looking forward to a formal visit eventually. Hope you enjoy the post and do visit it; worth the detour me think.

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

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November 12, 2022

My Pluvigner, part IV

My town ,my loving Pluvigner. Most write about far away lands we visit but seldom about the one we live in, I have lived in 5 countries and citizen of 4, having visited 81 so far and all have an impact on my life, Needless, to say the meaning of Pluvigner is big on my family. I had written several post on our lives here but realise these were repeated on individual posts; therefore, crazy me decided to erase them all. Not to lose the memories and sights of my loving Pluvigner ,will do several posts updating these older posts. This one is my Pluvigner ,part IV. This is my last one on this series. Of course, these posts will be on my black and white series,no pictures ,Hope you enjoy the post as I.

I have not told you about the house we live, and so much love keeping the work of my dear late wife Martine. Most folks including my overseas family think that we all have small houses, like cubicles lol! well if you live in a big city like Paris you find a lot of 50 sq meter homes and even less, but we live in the countryside Breton and houses are big here and lots of land. My land is 1000 square meters or about 10 760 square feet. The house living space is 255 square meters or about 2 743 square feet. It has five bedrooms,(we use one as game room/entertainment center for the boys) , and two full bathrooms and half toilet seat extra apart. There is a garage not counted in living space but can fit three cars easily, and a cellar of 33 m2 or about 355 sq ft. fully loaded!  A separate laundry room 28 m2 and so on and on. There is a front gate to enter the property and a long driveway for the back and the garage entrance. We have not counted in the living space an open air terrace of  11 m2 (118 sq ft) and a veranda glass enclosed terrace of 22m2 (237 sq ft). The house is about 400 meters or 1320 feet from downtown/city center or centre ville which we go on foot for all our needs.

There is bus service very limited every 2-3 hours on line 5, and no train station; therefore transportation is basically all done by car which we like ! and if I go the opposite way from the house I am in dairy and horse farms galore on a winding hilly road into the forest. However, we have taken the bus and my boys do it into Lorient and Vannes as well as Auray.  The bus network is manage by Keolis Atlantique, the line 5 is it, and there is a nice bus stop in city center where now we are doing a huge cultural center. And our Keolis Atlantique bus line 5 connects with Vannes bus terminal next to the train station and then bus intercity even to Paris!The town is sandwhich between two main road for easy access to everything. In the north on the D768 you reach the N24 and connects with Rennes, Lorient, Brest etc. Going to the south or the beaches on the same D768 you connect with the expressway or voie express N165 doing the run from Nantes to Brest. From the N165 you can connect on the N166 to Rennes and onwards to Paris and beyond. I can take the D767 and D779 very easily connecting with all the above and north south Bretagne. There are other roads we take that connects quite nicely with all the needs such as the D102, D103 ,and D16. There is an airport at Lorient Bretagne Sud but with limited flights choices located at 32 km or about 20 miles. My main airport is in Nantes Atlantique at about 147 km (91 mi) and 1h30 time, taken many times by yours truly.The closest train station is at Auray at about 14 km which I have taken, however, for choices I take the Vannes at 27 km. Both handle the TGV as well. Oh yeah we are 129 km (80 mi) from Rennes and 145 km (90 miles) from Nantes city center. Also, 161 km (100 mi) from Brest at the point, and 58 km (36 mi) from Sarzeau in the Rhuys peninsula as well as 161 km (100 mi) from Saint Malo in the north. All centrally located for our enjoyment.

This is the countryside! However, we do have 10 bars 8 restaurants, 1 supermarket, and 1 mini proxi grocery store, 5 bakeries, and 5 haircutters , 2 pharmacies, eyeglasses, dentist, doctor, nurses ,clothing/shoes store, gifts/pmu tabac stores, 3 banks, two car dealers and garages, oh well pretty much covered. The only service we go to Auray is the eye doctor and the Pratel hospital. A major hospital Bretagne Atlantique but known locally by its name  Chubert is in Vannes. Another great service of a small town, here with the mairie (Ti Ker in Breton)  we communicate by email and even before the virus and they respond rapidly very good service. We will go next to pickup our new French passports! Believe it or not, we have a tourist office in town, we do get a lot of Breton history here with sacre monuments and lots of walks into the woods with chapels etc.We belong to the Agglo communities of the Auray Quiberon Terres Atlantique, do not know why they invented these maybe to suck in national employees of the regions they cut down from 22 to 13. Oh yes one big advantage is that we are just very close to the beaches. Straight down on the road D768 you are in Unesco territory of Carnac, and also, St Philibert, Plouharnel, La Trinité sur Mer, Quiberon peninsula (our favorite) with a bit divertion to Locmariaquer, and on the other side Erdeven , and Etel ;all wonderful coastal beach towns at about 22 km (14 mi) ,28 km (17 mi) , 33 km (20 mi) and the farthest at 40 km (25 mi) going over to the Gulf of Morbihan name one of the most beautiful bays in the world! By Great Bays and Conde Nast publications! At Vannes there is also a gare maritime or sea passenger terminal for trips to the outlying islands in the Morbihan like Belle-île sur Mer, Houat, and Hoédic in the Atlantic , and in Gulf such as Aux Moines, Arz , and still a bit further by Lorient Groix in the Atlantic ocean.

We are lucky to have found the house, as we are near the best park in town Goh Lanno, and the city maintenance dept where we get our yellow tri garbage bags on foot! The folks are friendly and we talk to many neighbors already, as my boys take our dog Rex out for walks in the town and the park. He behaves very well indeed! We love him much!!! Many things happened lately you know, like the virus and we still trying to get out of it. However, we are behaving well in Bretagne and have some movement and hopefully by mid May we will be fully out. I like to tell you about some curiosities of Pluvigner, my town in the Morbihan  breton dept 56 of Bretagne and my belle France! Pluvigner comes from the Breton “Ploe” (parish) and “Guigner”, a Breton saint. In the Breton language is written Pleuwigner. 

The parish church is dedicated to St Guigner whose relics are carried in procession. The Saint is accompanied by an angel wearing an ermine coat of arms. The stained-glass windows done 1932-1933, relate the events in the life of famous figures of the parish, such as St Guénaël, the penitent Kériolet or St Guigner.  The lintel of the south door shows a group of Crucifixions, made up of Christ surrounded by the Virgin and Saint John.  The church contains the relics of Saint Guigner and houses a statue of Saint Guigner.  Next door to the above church and connecting to it we have the  Chapelle Notre-Dame des Orties or Our Lady of the Nettles was invoked against rheumatism. It stood next to the parish Church Saint Guigner , and even communicated with it, at the level of the sacristy. These are called double churches. Located between the parish Church Saint-Guigner and the remains of the Notre Dame des Nettles Chapel, this massive Calvary has a plinth with several degrees. Its long column ends with a two-sided sculpted panel. It shows the Christ, and Sainte Anne left and Saint Guigner rigtht.  It has been recently renovated to look like new. The Monument to the Fallen or Monument aux Morts has an obelisk on plinth with war cross at the top and numerous plaques with names of the dead for France (about.336 local boys) The Bas-relief on bronze plaque representing a Hairy or Poilus as combatant in WWI were called in France,it shows it shows a weapon at his feet. The monument is in granite and the slabs are in white marble. It was started and in 1906 and finished after the Great war, and renovated in 2018. It is right next to the above church as well.

Last but not least we had to take some home as it was across the street ! The La Fondue de Chocolat.  3 rue de l’église, diagonally in front of the Church Saint Guigner. This is a great shop and one we certainly visit often. The store is smallish, but packed with all kinds and shapes of chocolate items, wines, liquors, pates, miel ;coffees, cookies, jellies and snacks from many leading producers even as far as Provence.

There you go folks, my town of Pluvigner, Another historical memorable town for us , already 9 years in the house and now more empty than ever missing our two women, Life goes on and the town has been good, hard to tell the future but I believe this will be my last town, from here to the sea at Honfleur Normandie as our family has. Hope you enjoy this kind of post, and do get to know me more and hopefully I will you too. Do read my many posts on Pluvigner in my blog !

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

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November 12, 2022

My Pluvigner, part III

My town ,my loving Pluvigner. Most write about far away lands we visit but seldom about the one we live in, I have lived in 5 countries and citizen of 4, having visited 81 so far and all have an impact on my life, Needless, to say the meaning of Pluvigner is big on my family. I had written several post on our lives here but realise these were repeated on individual posts; therefore, crazy me decided to erase them all. Not to lose the memories and sights of my loving Pluvigner ,will do several posts updating these older posts. This one is my Pluvigner ,part III. Of course, these posts will be on my black and white series,no pictures ,Hope you enjoy the post as I.

Well it goes without saying, my best living as yet and enjoying it fully. This is history and love it, quaint streets building of historical value right in the cross roads of the Morbihan equidistance almost from good size cities like Lorient and Vannes and Pontivy; along major roads and close by TGV available train stations, local and departamental bus lines and all the amenities of a small town with all the trimmings. The city center is at 31 km from Lorient and 27 km from Vannes. So , this is Pluvigner in 2018, and what is it? Well I have written on many of its sites before, but this is about history after I am an amateur of history . I have membership in the local heritage association that tries to preserve and enhance history and architecture.

In 1887, Pluvigner was enriched with a young girls orphanage founded in Bieuzy (now part of Pluvigner). A Chapel was built dedicated to Notre-Dame-des-Pins in 1891.The Church of Saint-Guigner (16C) and the .Our Lady of Nettles, (Notre Dame des Oties) in the village, touches the parish church and communicates with it through the sacristy. It has the form of a Latin cross; The transepts are shallow and seem older than the rest of the monument. The choir is square; On each side, two arched arcades, now clogged, imply the primitive existence of two collateral. The square of the transept is separated from the nave by three arches, one large and two small, in warhead, worn on polygonal pillars. The windows are ogival, and the fire and trilobed mullions. The Chapelle Notre-Dame-des-Nettles (b 1426 ) it is now ruins of arches left of it next the town’ s Church of Saint Guigner.

Other Chapels in the city are: The Chapelle Saint-Adrien (15C) Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Fatima-aux-Granges (1895), Chapelle Saint-Colomban or Saint-Colombier (1453) ,Chapelle Saint-Mériadec (11C), Chapelle Saint-Guy or Guyon (circa 1600) , Chapelle Sainte-Brigitte (16-17C),Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-la-Miséricorde or Mercy (17C). Chapel of the Trinity (end of the 15C), Chapelle de Saint-Bihui (1593) The Chapel of Saint-Goal (17C),Chapel of Saint-Fiacre, in ruins in 1888, and rebuilt in the 19C. The ancient Chapel of St. Guénaël, rebuilt at the end of the 19C in an isolated place and mentioned in 1930, nearest to me. Also, the Fontaine Saint-Guigner (b 1526). The set includes a three-basin wash house ,the Fontaine Notre-Dame-de-la-Misericorde or Mercy.

And the Château de Rimaison (before 18C), rebuilt with stones from an older castle. The Chateau of Keronic (b 1426). Siege of an ancient lordship called Queronic or Keronic ; Château de Kerlois (b 15C), located on the Sainte-Anne road and transformed in the 17C. The old castle of Tancarville (located in the former spawning of Trelecan). The lordship belonged to the family of Lanvaux. The private chapel which was enlarged in the 15C, then restored in 1640, is dedicated to Saint-Fiacre and seems dated from the 12C. You can see a 15C altarpiece; The Manoir du Guern (circa 18C), which served as a presbytery. It is made up of a large body of dwelling. There is a small oratory with an 18C wooden altar surmounted by the statues of Saint Yves and Saint Vincent Ferrier; The steles of Pluvigner and Cosquéric (Iron Age). A dozen stones have been listed on the territory of the town of Pluvigner.

As our family is so spread out in four different countries, and two continents, and in France far away east and north of Paris we are the lone westerners lol! As my time for travel or desire has diminish a bit;;;just a bit; we are staying closer to home too. One of the things we have started to ease our week and take advantage of the Summer/Spring months is the barbecue. We are thinking in Fall/Winter to do so in the garage ,which is big. We wanted a manuable barbecue for quick meals the old fashion way, and easily transportable. We decided for a Weber and purchase it at our friendly home builders store Castorama in Vannes. We used once to try it and it took some time to get it lit but we manage ok. This time ,it was easier and quicker. We enjoy it in our open terrace in front of our house. We have a large covered veranda , so the enjoyment of barbecue when weather permitting. My sons took to the task and we all chip in as well as our dog Rex. He is always hungry anyway, our Borador (border collier/labrador), and already almost 10 months old. We got ourselves some nice German beers at our friendly V&B of Auray to go along with the food. And the day went really fast and we all had fun at home. Me watching the horse racing from Paris Longchamp (Bois de Boulogne) and they watching well, MasterChef  season 9 reruns from the USA led by Gordon Ramsay.

Coming to France (and already French) to live permanently in Aug 2003 took us luckily to lived in some awesome town such as Versailles! But, also some much smaller off the beaten path towns like Pluvigner, where surprise to us we have been already 6 years in the house we are in now. Here we get an occassional English or German passing by and we have two English families in town, one still works married to a French lady (Leeds) and the other couple are both English and retired (Sheffield).

The latest venture to eat out in town was to one my sons and dear late wife had already been and alwas talk about the gentle owners and very friendly who gives away a sweet call lokum (turkish delights), I finally try it. The Star Kebab (previous owner sold it to his cousin and still open) in pl St Michel walking distance from our house was nice, the service of the couple was as told, the locum was given, and the food very nicely best price and good. Anyway, here was lamb meat with vegetables including tomatoes, and french fries , the bread was Turkish origin and the drink was a Belgian blonde Leffe beer, also Heineken, and Desperados! all for 9.50€ per person nice for Dad!

On our 14 july celebration for our National Day (old Bastille day) we had Celtic dances, and a badag band singing celtic songs, and of course plenty of galettes, crêpes, and Breton beers! Next May 31st, June 1st we have a Fez Noz here at the Salle Marie-Josèphe Le Borgne , Rue Maréchal Leclerc. The local groups Les Fréres Mahévas, Rozenn Talec/Yannig Noguet, Triorezed, and War-Sav will perfom.Ok for the bakery Boulangerie YD as above with new owners Yann and Deborah. Yann bake bread until mid-afternoon so guarantee freshness.  Some novelties appeared new with sourdough bread and a relaxing chestnut bread. Soon it will be the apple slipper stuffed with salted butter caramel pastry. The specialty of Deborah,the pastry section is all homemade and only works with local products. This is the case of Plougastel’s eggs or strawberries. Ok , usually my boys go to get the breads but today I did, the baguettes but here we call them Tradition, or Breizh or Moulé depending on what you want in the wheat!! ,normally what you usually call the regular baguette here is the Moulé baguette. We prefer the breizh style which is Brittany in the Breton language. If traveling with domestic animals I highly recommend our clinic where we take care of Rex vaccines etc. The Clinique Vétérinaire du Chêne at route de Brandivy off the road D768 (route d’Auray) across from Lidl supermarket. And for us we do the Pharmacie de la Place at Pl du Marché (now closed and move closer to our house at Rue Saint-Mathurin ) city center and walking distance from us as most. They have a friendly staff and always very pointing on details of the medications especially for my Dad which is on diabetes treatment under control.

We go to other restos in towns such Scampi pizzeria, and Baccatella creperie and also the bakeries in old city center but these are once in a while when the above are more contants. The doctor, eye store, dentist all are in city center walking distance too. The closest big supermarket is a Super U which is at 1,1 km from home or about 0.7 mi which here is walking distance! but we seldom go to it unless to gas up the car. The big hypermarkets at Auray and Vannes wins over. The eye doctor is in Auray 14 km away or about 11 miles (but now open a branch in town ! ). The other stores are in Vannes like FNAC or Micromania or Carrefour.

We set out to vote by 10h walking as we live not far from city center and the voting hall. This is always at the Salle Marie-J. Le Borgne right after the cemetery.  May 26 Sunday , today is an important day that might shape the future of Europe as France is heavily counting on staying close rank and banner country for the European Union. Whether against or for it, it is the one thing that have kept Europe at peace. As I have said many times ,Hemingway felled short when he describe Paris as a moveable feast, he should had travel more into the country side of France! As France is a moveable feast! We check the new electric meter counter installed recently and my consomption is now less by 36 euros per month!! great!!! I always like to look at our eyeglasses store Optic 2000 which occupies a very nice building in city center/downtown. And of course our voting place.  Not to ever forget the wonderful Church of Saint Guigner belltower. Saint Guigner is the one who came here from the islands (UK) back in the 400’s and the town carries his name as Plu is breton for parish, and vigner is a contraction of Guigner so the parish of Saint Guigner became, Pluvigner or in Breton Pleuwigner !

Life goes on, we do not even want to mention but I must that today is Mother’s Day in France as well. Unfortunately we do not have one now, they are at sea ,and I believe their spirit is guarding us and helping us as we go along in life. Happy Mother’s Day for those celebrating.

There you go folks, my town of Pluvigner, Another historical memorable town for us , already 9 years in the house and now more empty than ever missing our two women, Life goes on and the town has been good, hard to tell the future but I believe this will be my last town, from here to the sea at Honfleur Normandie as our family has. Hope you enjoy this kind of post, and do get to know me more and hopefully I will you too. Do read my many posts on Pluvigner in my blog !

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

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