Archive for January 12th, 2023

January 12, 2023

Always more in Saint Germain en Laye !!!

And I am in my old neighborhood of Saint Germain en Laye, a wonderful town near my old home, why not tell you again about a wonderful royal city of my belle France, and of great historical significance and beautiful museum today. It is a must see while here and very easy to get to from Paris.

The town of Saint Germain en Laye is located in the Yvelines department 78, west of Paris; this is in the Île de France region.  It was very near me and I did shopping and eating out there often with the family. It is ,also, the birthplace of king Louis XIV with a beautiful castle now a wonderful museum. To come best on the RER A from many points in Paris, or the train  station Grand  Ceinture ,just at entry to the city from the west, train from Paris gare St Lazare.  The most obvious parkings  is by the RER A station, two are call RER and Chateau parking in two levels. The other is to go underneath the Vieux Marché or market area on ave de la République, or the parking Pologne at rue de Pologne or the Monoprix store parking.


The town offers many sightseeing choices and it is very easy to get to from Paris.  The town grew because of the castle and the forest that surround it which are magnificent with a wonderful view of Paris in the distance and its monuments at the park done by Le Notre. The name is old possibly from 972 AD when king of the French Robert I had built a monastery in honor of St Germain ,probably St Germain des Prés. The name of the town can be translated as Saint Germain of the forest in new French.  In 1777, King Louis XVI donated the New Castle, in bad condition, to his brother Charles, Count of Artois, the future Charles X. He had it demolished with the intention of rebuilding it.  Under the first Empire, the Château-Vieux was repaired to form a cavalry school. It hosts the Special Military School of Cavalry, opened in 1809 and merged, in 1914, with the Special Military School of Saint-Cyr. From 1836 to 1855, the castle was transformed into a military penitentiary. It was extensively restored under Napoleon III . On March 8, 1862, an imperial decree acts the creation in the castle of a Museum of Celtic and Gallo-Roman Antiquities (later renamed Museum of National Antiquities, then recently , and still today the Museum of National Archaeology).


I have other posts on the castle,but here is a little more ok. The castle revolves around an inner courtyard in the shape of a trapezoid, taking the primitive route of Charles V Castle. The wings that frame this courtyard traditionally bear the following names: King’s Wing (north wing), Queen’s Wing (east Wing), King’s Children’s wing (southeast wing), Chapel Wing (southwest Wing), and the Feast Hall Wing (West Wing). The ballroom is located in the West Wing. Unfinished at the death of François I, it was inaugurated by his son Henri II at a grand banquet in 1549 to celebrate the baptism of his son. It is more than 500 m2 and has a monumental chimney with a stone motif, which features the salamander; the emblem of François I. Louis XIV transformed it into a comedy room, and the team of formidable instruments. More than one hundred and forty representations of all kinds were given in this room considered the largest of the whole kingdom. Lully and Molière knew their hours of glory here. In 1666, king Louis XIV performed himself in the Ballet des Muses. This room now houses the comparative archaeology room.


The castle museum are well kept with a beautiful Chapel of  St. Louis, located in the Gothic castle, is a vestige of the ancient fortress. It was built by Saint Louis in 1238. Louis XIV, although born in the Château Neuf, was baptized there. An inner courtyard, floors of antiquities artifacts from the region very nicely display, and the adjoining park design by Le Notre overlooking Paris. Behind the castle in what is now the restaurant Pavillon Henri IV, a marker displays the fact that king Louis XIV was born there. Of course, the castle now the museum of antiquities or musée national des antiquites it covers in three floors wonders of the old days found in the surrounding areas, and it is considered one of the best in its genre.  Behind you see an archdoor leading to the Pavillon Henri IV restaurant (great dining) an enblem showing this is where Louis XIV was born. The parc and gardens were done from  1668 to 1675 by the great gardener Le Nôtre, and it has an expansive view over Paris and the vineyards of Le Pecq that after doing so from antiquity are now back in form from 2000 onward producicng pinot noir base wines.   


Some of the stories and personalities of the Castle and the city of Saint Germain en Laye were:

King François I married Claude de France (daughter of Anne de Bretagne and queen as well) in the Chapel of the old castle in 1514 , and became its favorite living property. Henri II is also born here, and he became king in 1547!  Charles IX established a glass making trade in 1561, and  Henri IV exempt the inhabitants of all taxes in 1599 priviledge that lasted until 1789! king Louis XIII spent his youth at the old castle, and it was while hunting from here that he discovered another place to later build his hunting lodge-Versailles. He later died here in 1643, while his son Louis XIV was born here in 1638. As king Louis XIV spent a great deal of his time here from 1661  to 1682 afterward the castle decline as the new other property was been built at Versailles. The king of England Edward II came here in exile from 1689 to his death in 1701 at the old castle, and is buried across the street at the Church of St Germain (see post).

Saint Germain en Laye saw the birth of  (year following name) :Henri II, 1518; Marguerite de France, Queen Margot, 1553 ; Jeanne d’Albret, (mother of Henri IV and great figure of the Reformist era) ,1528;Charles IX , 1550 ; Louis de Buade count de Frontenac,( Governor of New France (Canada)),1622; King Louis XIV, 1638 ; Philippe de France, duke of Orléans,1640 ; Philippe de France, duke of Anjou, (oldest son of Louis XIV), 1660; Marie-Louise of England , (daughter of king James II of England exile in the city and buried at the Church of St Germain across from castle), 1692;  Claude Debussy ,1862 ; Edouard Bourdet, 1887;  Jehan Alain, 1911 ;  Christian Fouchet, 1911,(ambassador and previous minister and follower from the first hour of Gen de Gaulle); José Artur, 1927; Michel Pericard (1929-1999), (previous mayor of Saint-Germain- en-Laye (1977-1999),deputy of the Yvelines  (1978-1999) , and Vice President of the National Assembly of France (1997-1999); Jean-Edern Hallier, 1936;  and Pierre Douglas, 1941…

Saint Germain en Laye saw the passing of figures such as (year of death following name) : Louis XIII,1643 ; James II king of England, 1701; The knight  Ramsay  1743 ; François de Beauharnais, (father in law of Joséphine first wife of Napoléon), 1800 ; prince de Polignac, 1847 ; Adolphe Thiers, President of the IIIe Républic, 1877; the Poet Catulle Mendès, 1909 ; Henri Cochet, Tennis champion 6 times winner of the Davis Cup, 1987; Suzanne Chantal, roman writer, 1994. And who have passed by in the city, some of the famous are : Molière, alias Jean-Baptiste Poquelin; Mozart for a day in 1778 ; Benjamin Franklin also in 1778; Alexandre Dumas father and son. The father wrote  “Les Trois mousquetaires” and “Le Comte de Monte Cristo” in the city while commander of the national guard in town as well as directs the theater.  The son wrote  “La Dame aux camélias” in the city. The musician Claude Debussy, and the painter Maurice Denis , that have a museum in the city as well. And of course, many many others too numerous to mention.

The Seine Saint Germain en Laye tourist office :

The Castle/Museum of National Antiquities:

There you go folks, worth a detour out of Paris glitz! come on over the Yvelines dept 78 ; the first , history , architecture, marvels of my belle France, and enjoy Saint Germain) en Laye as I !!!

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

January 12, 2023

The fabulous places of Vannes !!!

We have come here for many years , do not recall exactly but must have been since 2015 or 2016 and enjoy it very much. Columbus Café is one of the places the whole family took part for lunches while sightseeing or shopping in our capital city of Vannes. Needless to tell you again, many posts on this city. However, we stop by today again and again fabolous ambiance, food, and prices . However, we did a bit more walking today and will include those sights in this post, Therefore, here is my take on fabulous places of Vannes !!! Hope you enjoy it as I.

The Columbus Café is located at 11 rue du Mené, open since 2014 on a surface of 125 m². The restaurant has more than 65 seats inside and a dozen more on the terrace. open Monday to Friday from 7h45 to 19h, and Saturday from 9h to 19h. We had our usual goat cheese bagel and chocolate muffin with peach ice tea and then a café latte to finish for me, My sons had a variety of different items all good and all at good prices 14 euros per person,

Vannes columbus cafe front jan23

The official Columbus Café of Vannes

And of course not there without some shopping and Dad paying some is a visit to Japanim, the mangas and figurines stores my boys are craze about, Each time here they load up , long time customers and now in a nice bigger store at 3 Place Joseph le Brix just across from Monoprix,

Vannes japanim mangas store front jan23


By the rue du Mené ,and Place Joseph Le Brix ,there are some interesting historical and architecturally stunning buildings some of which will highlight briefly here for you and me

The building at 20 rue du Mené was a commercial building called Grand Bazar du Morbihan Paul Coquinet, then Magasins Modernes, then Les Nouvelles Galeries, then Eurodif and currently Magasins Bouchara, It initially was established in the fourth quarter of the 19C by Paul Coquinet at n°24 rue du Mené. This bazaar was subsequently bought by the Magasins Modernes (of Paris) at the beginning of the 20C and is given in management. In 1920, an expansion project was requested that gave rise to the building adjoining the first commercial building, located on an old garden. The building leaning against the adjoining rampart facing the street comprising 2 square floors and one in addition. The front elevation is coated with limestone ashlar used for the frames of the openings. Double in depth, the building originally served by a symmetrical T-shaped staircase, now replaced, is linked on the rear facade to 2 other buildings, the first with long sides and the second leaning on the rampart, probably replacing a courtyard interior with direct access from the street through a passage under the porch. The building on the street is later doubled by another building with a gabled façade and zenital lighting.

Vannes bouchara building jan23

The building now housing the Le Temps Des Cerises (women clothing ), and the L’Hiboutique of Harry Potter fame is at 18 Rue du Mené, The house built in 1892, date given in Roman numerals on the facade for Charles Marin, wine merchant and whose shop, built on a plot abandoned at the beginning of the 20C, is adjoining. Charles Marin was president of the commercial court and mayor of Vannes. The house faces the street entirely in freestone limestone, with a square story and an additional story facing the street. The rear elevation is coated, with a gabled hipped roof, with a square story and an additional story. Large bay window on the street facade surmounted by a dormer window with gabled pediment balcony. The facade of the shop retains its original woodwork.

Vannes temps cerises building jan23

At the Place Joseph Le Brix , a travelers hotel rebuilt on an older building appearing on the cadastre of 1844 and the plan of Vannes de Bassac of 1869. A café opened in the wing back on Avenue Victor Hugo in the first quarter of the last century. The hotel is flanked by a cabaret avenue Victor Hugo destroyed and replaced some time later by the hotel of Madame Chauchet. The hotel was then sold to Monsieur Foucaud who set up his tire business there in 1927 according to the plans that have been kept. Building located in alignment with Place Joseph Le Brix and back on Avenue Victor Hugo with a double plan in depth. The building is made of fully coated granite rubble. The elevation on the ordered place, is marked by the 3 median bays, topped by a large attic skylight open to several bays.

Vannes place joseph le brix jan23

The Monoprix store was inaugurated in March 1967 on the land which until then had housed the Mené community and their Notre-Dame-du-Mené chapel. The 6,000 m2 of the huge building and its 1,800 m2 of shelves on two levels now serve this wonderful store chain very much in vogue in Vannes, and of course we have shopped there too !!

Vannes monoprix front jan23

Vannes monoprix back jan23

A bit more on the fine Rue du Mené , which means “hill” in Breton, was urbanized in the 19C. Built on the ditches of the fortifications, with a significant leveling, the opening of the current avenue Victor-Hugo gives an additional axis to the Nantes-Quimper axis, by linking the train station to the city center. The upper part of rue Notre-Dame-du-Mené, named since 1931 Joseph-Le Brix (an aviator born in Baden Morbihan 56), is adorned with buildings such as the “Hôtel de voyageurs du commerce et de l’épée” (1844), known for its comfort, its luxury, its large café with a room for the bourgeois and the military. Next to the current Cheminant (formerly Le Royal cinema from 1934 to 2000), was built in 1920 at nº 17, instead of the public baths, the Modern Hôtel. On the site of the current pharmacy, was the Hôtel de Bretagne, run by two sisters in caps until 1927, renowned for its clean beds and fresh water ! It will then be a tire trade. On the current place Joseph-Le Brix, buildings with cut sides are visible. The Monoprix building was built in the 1960s after the total destruction of a church. At numbers 21 and 23 are the André Frères novelty shops, where the names of towns served by the train are still inscribed on marble slabs. At nº 18, a beautiful limestone building from 1892 housed a wine merchant (now Banque Populaire). In 1920, at nº 20, leaning against the ramparts, the 1st Grand bazaar of Morbihan set up its commercial premises, which would become Nouvelles Galeries before Eurodif, and now Bouchara as above. The oldest house on the street (1840) is above the Caroll store. In the rue du Mené, the old town is forgotten while it remains visible behind many shops. A wonderful area to walk and see history and architecture at its best !

The building at 8 Rue Joseph le Brix now houses the Chez Suzette resto on the corner of rue Billault and rue Joseph Le Brix, The building was built in 1928 with granite rubble, on the site of a mid-19C house, This building was built in the gardens of the old moats of the rampart, destroyed, on a site that was virgin until 1840, but was built with two houses on 1863. It was built in two close campaigns, because of this double plot: the first is prior to 1897, and concerns the five east bays. It was extended to the west by three spans shortly after its construction on the site of this old house. It could have been raised by one floor at the beginning of the 20C. The attic floor was created on the attics in the second half of the 20C. The apartment building located in alignment with rue Joseph Le Brix with a double plan in depth. With an elongated plan, it is equipped with a half-timbered service body on the rear facade. On a freestone ground floor, the building develops a facade with 8 coated bays. The facade is structured horizontally by two running balconies highlighting the first and third floors. The rear facade is made of slate and the chimneys are in brick.

Vannes chez suzette building jan23

The city of Vannes on its heritage and architecture:

The local Gulf of Morbihan tourist office on Vannes

There you go folks, a wonderful old town indeed ,that needs to be discovered more by all ; my capital city of Vannes. It is as said, a must to visit and you will be glad, the looks at it are awesome, full of wonderful architecture and history of this fine city. Again, hope you enjoy the post as I

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

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