Archive for ‘Europe’

February 17, 2020

A little Chapel in a little town, Ernée!

SO here I am again for another off the beaten path of my belle France. I am on the road a lot in this beautiful country and passed by many wonders, usually no time to stop and just marked it for later returns and in depth views. Or bring the family over for a nice day out or weekend or more.

One of these small towns I passed by and brings good souvenirs of passing on the job and then bringing the family over on a non toll ride to Paris/Versailles area. The little town is Ernée in the department of the Mayenne no. 53 in the Pays de la Loire region.  And the little Chapel is right there on the road N12 each time so let me tell you a bit on the Chapelle de Charné

The town of Ernée is cut by the river that flows through the town, of the same  name. This river creates the Ernée valley and leads to a body of water integrated into the city.

The town of Ernée of course has no train station, however, the TGV train station in Laval located less than 30 km away, takes you /from Paris Montparnasse in about 1.5 hours away . Ernée is also served by bus lines 104, 105 of the Pégase network in the Mayenne dept 53, connecting the city of Mayenne and Laval passing by Ernée. You can look up bus line 116 as well. Their current schedule is here: ALEOP transports of Pays de la Loire region

Of course, we go by car here on the N12 long trip without tolls or taxes to Paris/Versailles and the round trip is done by here. We gas up and have a snack on our way , especially at the Au Ptit Bistro, a nice rest area and picturesque little town. The businesses webpage is here in French: Heart of the town of Ernee on restos hotels etc

A bit of history I like of Ernée

In 1231, after the truce concluded in Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier, on July 4, between Queen Blanche of Castile, (mother of St Louis or Louis IX) regent, and Pierre Mauclerc, Duke of Brittany, the city of Ernée is the place of the interview between Pierre Mauclerc and Philippe Hurepel, the king’s uncle. This interview ended with a solemn exchange of oaths.

Some things to see here are

The Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption Church which dominates the town with its high bell tower. It was consecrated in 1697. The Chapel of Charné 13C altered in the 15C and later 17C. Also, Roman Antiquities. The Château de Pannard 16C of Renaissance style. The local museum of prehistory. The Louis-Derbré cultural space: foundry workshop, sculpture garden and open-air theater. The Dolmen of Contrie. . And The Covered Alley of the Tardivière.

The one I like to tell you today is special because I passed by here often very often on the N12 road and see it all the time, a nice view on the road warrior trips of mine.  The Chapelle de Charné is the old parish church of Ernée. The chapel is on the edge of the N 12 road, called route de Paris exactly at local 32 Avenue de Paris.


The existence of the Church of Charné is attested for the first time around 1150. The church was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, whose Assumption was especially honored. In the 17C, people came from all around Charné, to give worship of the imposing statue of Notre Dame, very old, but of which we know neither the date nor the craftsman. It is in oak, measures 1m30 and, according to the attitude of the Virgin, the rusticity of the presentation, the drapery of the clothes, it seems to be from the 13C.  Mary holds in her hand the scepter, symbol of power, and Jesus, the cross on the terrestrial globe, symbol of royalty and redemption.

In 1793, during the French revolution and in the context of the anti-religious struggle, the chapel was closed and the entrance guarded to prevent access. It was sold as national property, but a certain Le Nicolais, although a member of the revolutionary committee, hid the statue in a barrel in his cellar where it remained until 1800. Marie had regard to this gesture of piety; he died christianly.

However the Chapelle de Charné threatened ruin and its disappearance seemed inexorable when it was put up for sale a third time in 1807. It was then a humble servant, Anne Vauloup, who offered all her savings, obtained a deposit on her wages, begged to Ernée and surroundings, which, on January 18, 1808, had the joy of being awarded the chapel and cemetery. She immediately donated it to the Charity Office of the city on the express condition that the chapel remained for the use of Catholic worship. She reserved for her only one place in the cemetery. She rests there, a little to the right, opposite the west entrance to the chapel. A city street now bears her name.

The Chapelle de Charné, with its Romanesque tower, is the remains of an old church which was demolished at the end of the 17C. It is surrounded by its classified cemetery where there are very ancient tombs.   The construction of the central part and the choir can be dated to the beginning of the 13C. The nave was destroyed around 1690, during the construction of the ND Church of Ernée. Consecrated on June 29, 1697, the ND Church of Ernée replaces the Charné as a parish church.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Ernee on the Chapel of Charne

Tourist office Pays de la Loire on the Chapel of Charne

And there you go  a nice ride by and rest stop with a nice monument to boot, this is my belle France. Hope you enjoy the post and more take a ride by Ernée in real French country!

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

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February 16, 2020

Ramparts of Guérande!

And I come back to a very familiar town, there is plenty written in my blog on it but feel the part of the ramparts are not; this is Guérande. I did came here a lot to visit collegues and get some Clisson wine , however, do not know now as my best friend left France for work to Canada.

I like to tell you a bit more on the ramparts of Guérande! Awesome!! a must to visit!!!

The ramparts are fortifications that surround the medieval city of Guérande, in the Loire-Atlantique department 44 of the Pays de la Loire region. The medieval city of Guérande is one of the few to have preserved its ramparts in their entirety. It is also one of the best-preserved in France. It has been little altered since its main construction phase in the 15C and very little restored in the 19C. It currently includes 10 towers, 4 doors, two of which are flanked by towers, and a postern which opened in the 19C, connected by a curtain, over a length of 1.434 meters.


The gates or portes are :

Porte Saint-Michel , the Châtelet reported around 1350, refurbished around 1440-1450, the cover was put in place in the 17C. Restored in the 19C. The Châtelet includes a Museum of the Friends of Guérande, founded in 1928, which brings together an interesting collection of headdresses and traditional costumes from the peninsula, as well as archaeological collections and the Treasury of the Collegiate Church of Saint Aubin de Guérande. This gate dominates the Place du Marché au Bois square.


Porte Vannetaise (you got it we come thru here from Vannes!): 13C. It is one of the oldest elements of the enclosure, it is of “Philippian” style. Some authors put forward the hypothesis that this gate was one of the elements of the Castle, or fortified Logis serving as a residence for the Dukes of Brittany, others, that it was linked to the residence of the bishop of Nantes called the bishopric.



Porte de Saillé: 16C. As for the Porte de Bizienne (more recent), the Saillé gate is made up of only one simple opening apparently little fortified, in fact the external earthen fortifications, leveled in the 18C, ensured this defensive function. The surrounding wall between the Porte de Saillé and the Poterne du Tricot, is dated according to some authors of the 12C and would therefore constitute the oldest surviving element of the first enclosure of Guérande.


Porte Bizienne: historians assume that the name of this gate originates from a noblemen of Guérande. It is the most recent element of the fortified enclosure.


The towers or tours of the enclosure are 7 towers and these are the Saint-Jean tower (early 15C), the Sainte-Catherine tower (collapsed in early 1818, now disappeared), the Abreuvoir tower (1460-1470), the Gaudinais tower (mid 15C), the Kerbernet tower (mid 15C), the Sainte-Anne tower (mid 15C) and the Theological tower.

The roads and moats around the ramparts are:

The mail or boulevard, built at the end of the 15C or at the beginning of the 16C, located between the Saint-Michel gate and the Saillé gate for the part still preserved, constituted a first line of defense, reinforcing the ramparts becoming less effective with the development of attack artillery, and moreover made it possible to deploy cannons. Its current appearance results from the installations of the Duke of Aiguillon who made it enhance and transform into a tree-lined promenade. This hill derives its name from the mall, an ancestor of croquet a sport which the gentlemen practiced.


The moats, originally dry, were dug between the Mail and the ramparts to strengthen the fortifications. They once completely surrounded the fortified enclosure. However, they were partly blocked because of the odor they gave off (part of the inhabitants threw their waste there). A part was however preserved between the Bizienne gate and the Vannetaise gate.

Some webpages in French for more better info to help you plan your trip here are

City of Guérande on the ramparts

Tourist office of La Baule-Guerande in English on the ramparts

Tourist office of the Loire Atlantique dept 44 on the ramparts of Guerande

A wonderful town in old Bretagne and very much like to visited for various reasons as above. Hope you enjoy the ramparts of Guérande! A must to see indeed

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



February 16, 2020

Another of my house wines, Marchais!

Ok so did a run but coming back, wine is part of my life since first tasted from my grandmother at 8 yrs old!! With us its a tradition of great proportions, my sons continue the trend.

I have written several posts on wines and even one on this region but need to come back for more as it is one of our house wines and we go often, thinking of been back already!

Thouaré sur Loire is in the department 44 Loire Atlantique south of me in the region of Pays de la Loire. Historically part of Bretagne … and only 13 km from Nantes. And about 2 hrs by car from my house.

The area around Thouaré-sur-Loire has the authorization to produce the wines of the following appellations: Coteaux d’Ancenis, Gros Plant du Pays Nantais, Muscadet; the Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire, and the Loire Valley.

The Muscadet is a dry white wine of AOC (appellation d’Origine Controllée) mainly in the Loire-Atlantique dept 44, south of Nantes, and partially overflowing on the Maine-et-Loire dept 49 and the Vendée dept 85 ,all in Pays de la Loire region. This wine from the Loire Valley vineyards comes from a unique grape variety, the melon of Burgundy (Melon de Bourgogne) . This appellation has been classified AOC since 1936.  The Muscadet vineyards has several appellations: the Muscadet-Sèvre-et-Maine, the Muscadet -côtes-de-Grandlieu, the Muscadet-coteaux-de-la-Loire and the Muscadet without any particular denomination.

The properties we have chosen to buy are but about 3 but the main buy is done at Vignobles Marchais lately, this is at La Blandiniére hamlet just outside the town of Thouare-sur-Loire, and it has been a pleasant find. We first met at the village vignerons of Guérande .  About the second time we visit the owner Philippe Marchais arrived we were surprise by  a visit by radio chain France Bleu and the owner Philippe was interviewed right in front of us. I was one of the ones chosen to be spoken to and was indeed on the air!!!


It is in the vineyard near Nantes, in the heart of three terroirs Le Loroux-Bottereau, Thouaré-sur-Loire and Mauves-sur-Loire , that the history of the Marchais family, winemakers from father to son is written. In the heart of a green setting, the vines stretch, offering an exceptional setting for a total immersion in the world of winegrowers. Here, the muscadets-sèvre-et-maine with a generous and floral nose (such as Le Grand Clos du Moulin du Pé or Le Domaine de la Bronnière) and muscadets-coteaux-de-la-loire (the Thouaré vineyard) with a nice minerality are worked with passion. In this winery, you can choose between Le Grand Clos du Moulin du Pé, which is a fine local classic, or the historic muscadet of the vineyard: Le Domaine de la Bronnière, or the unusual Saveur d’Origine. Especially the sparklers rosé and white perles lutines and the parasol rose from old grapes before phylloxera call the 54 dating from the 1800’s.



True independent winemaker, Philippe Marchais strives to develop wine tourism by highlighting his work with wine, and it is successful. In his cellar, you will find wines from other family production, but also wines from winemakers from Loire, Bordeaux, Burgundy and elsewhere; local products such as Loire fish terrines, local beer and many other delicacies to discover, wine accessories and many gift ideas. A multifaceted place, very pleasant to discover. Also, in good weather the Bar!!!


Their official webpage here: Vignobles Marchais

The independent wine growers official site on the Marchais property: Official Independant winegrowers on the Marchais vineyards

We come by car of course; taking the freeway N165 towards Nantes stay out of the city center and continue on the A844/N844  get off at sortie 41 on the route de Paris which is the D723 into Thouaré and see the restaurant Au Chemin de Nantes turn right here into the La Baisse Hiliére road and the wine property is on your right corner with D68 route de Mauves. No bus or train by here that I know.

Enjoy the ride close to the loire river and wonderful countryside with the smell of the melon de bourgogne! And do visit vignobles Marchais the real thing down to earth la vie en rose of my belle France.

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


February 15, 2020

Some wine news from France!

And back with some news about my favorite or one of , pastimes that is wines.  In my belle France ,there is always something about wine even if with the dacronian modes of living today they are trying to eliminated. I have written several posts on wine and this is another one with news from various sources I follow here and have translated.

When the number of cafes continues to decrease in France (they were 38,800 in 2016 against 45,080 in 2011 according to Statista), Paris is an exception. According to different studies, the City of Lights had 14,363 cafes and restaurants in 2017. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris and Île-de-France thus recorded an 11% increase in the number of these types of shops between 2014 and 2017.

But those who continue to appreciate a good bottle, and there are more and more of them, especially in Paris; no longer hesitate to push the door of one of the 600 or so Parisian cellars shops, almost a quarter of wine merchants have developed their bar. wine and more than 60% offer delicatessen products. La Grande Épicerie du Bon Marché cellars has a clientele 80% Parisians. True national pride, wine is above all a marker of the strong identity of French gastronomy, especially in Paris. Alain Ducasse and his head sommelier, Gérard Margeon offer, in the four brasseries of the capital, very beautiful wines at affordable prices.

What comfort the 87% of Parisians who drink wine in restaurants (against 81% for all of France), but who find the wines too expensive. It must be said that, according to Statista, wines are 26% more expensive in gourmet restaurants in Paris than in the rest of France, and 15% in independent restaurants and bistros. (Of course Paris carries a price!)

Matthieu Bosser, co-founder of the Les Vignobles Parisiens  (55 Rue de Turbigo 3éme) in 2015, succeeded in making wine in the heart of Paris. Of course, his grapes do not come from Paris or even from Ile-de-France, but they are transported by refrigerated truck from Visan, in the Rhône valley. All winemaking and maturing are then carried out in Paris, or at least were given the success of the Parisian winegrowers, the company had to expand and create a winery in Saint-Denis, even if the aging is always done in the Marais in their barrel cellar.

The Les Vignobles Parisiens has already taken the plunge with 10 hectares of vines have already been planted, in organic conversion, in the plain of Versailles and 13 others will be planted this year. The land has a flush of limestone, on the Davron plateau, in the Yvelines (dept 78), 140 meters above sea level. While waiting for the vines to enter production, the young company vinifies and ages in Montreuil, in Seine-Saint-Denis (dept 93) , wines made from grapes from different French regions. The latest highlight is the installation on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower of wine-making tanks and barrels for the aging of part of the 2019 harvest, from the Ile-de-France vineyards.

An effort to revive the first vineyard in France which had some 42,000 hectares at its peak in the 18C, before completely disappearing after WWII. The numbers are

14,363 cafes and restaurants were identified in Paris in 2017, which represents 61.3% of Ile-de-France establishments (Source: CCI de Paris Île-de-France). 604 wine merchants are established in Paris, i.e. + 11% between 2014 and 2017 (Source: CCI of Paris Île-de-France). 8,800 bars and restaurants in Paris have an IV license, which allows them to sell alcohol (Source: CCI de Paris Île-de-France). 8.84 restaurants per 1,000 inhabitants in Paris far ahead of Lyon (5.62), Bordeaux (6.77) or Marseille (5.22) (Source: CCI de Paris Île-de-France). 5.40 euros average price of a glass of wine in a restaurant or an independent bistro in Paris. An amount which rises to 9.10 euros in a gourmet restaurant (Source: OpinionWay for Wine Paris). 52% of wine consumers in Paris consider themselves to be enlightened amateurs  (Source: Wine Paris). 250 sommeliers are members of the Paris and Île-de-France Sommeliers Association.

In other front, Champagne sales fell 1.6% in 2019 to 297.5 million bottles, but the overall turnover of the sector increased by 2%, announced the Comité Champagne , the ex- Interprofessional committee for Champagne wines. In terms of exports, the European Union is on the rise again (+ 1%) while the rest of the world has seen its growth slow (+ 0.7%). Winegrowers’ Champagnes have jumped almost 18% in major exports (Americas, Asia), with 3.4 million bottles sold. Same trend on this market for cooperatives with an increase of almost 7% (5 million bottles).

2019, was a great year for French wines and spirits for export. Driven in particular by the return of volume, thanks to good harvests, the sector recorded a turnover of 14 billion euros, an increase of 5.9%. Over the year as a whole, 194.6 million cases of 12 bottles (+ 0.7%) left the country, for a balance of 12.7 billion euros (+ 8.5%). Federation of Wine and Spirits Exporters of France (FEVS), announce these are trompe l’oeil results, international trade and political tensions are weighing on exports and herald a difficult year 2020 as told during a press conference on the Wine Paris-Vinexpo show. The first three markets, the United States, the United Kingdom and China, which represent 50% of total turnover, are indeed surrounded by uncertainties. Anticipation of the application of US taxes of 25% in the first case and of Brexit in the second.

The Trump administration has taxed French, Spanish and German still wines since October 18 2019 by 25%, in retaliation for the preferential treatment that the EU would accord to the aircraft manufacturer Airbus ( nothing to do with each other but here are the Americans again) Importers, distributors has said that given the number of intermediaries, a 25% surcharge is equivalent to an increase of 60% to 70% in stores, says Michel Chapoutier, a large merchant and producer in the Rhône Valley.

One general view on Champagne.  At the head of the wines and spirits business of LVMH, Philippe Schaus reviews the various actions carried out by his group, in particular with regard to sustainable development.

Living Soils brings together all the activities that they have implemented, whether in favor of reducing water consumption, inputs in viticulture, but also with regard to biodiversity, the carbon footprint or the consumption of energy, etc. They are currently building a new research center in Champagne in which are investing 20 million euros. When we talk about Living Soils, it is the future of Moët Hennessy that is in question. Just as we would like the Dom Pérignon and Moët & Chandon brands to be one of the most beautiful brands in the world of wines and spirits in a hundred years.

For Brexit, he continues, we do not yet know, in details what will be the results of negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom on the new import and export conditions for wines and spirits, he said. We are in absolute uncertainty. But we believe that the English will continue to consume champagne, that the Europeans will continue to consume whiskey and that solutions will be found. Amen!

And he continues ; we are growing almost everywhere in the world. In Eastern Europe, which continues to catch up and its purchasing power compared to Western Europe. Africa is taking an important place especially for champagne and cognac. In India, we have very little presence because we do not have local brands. China is experiencing strong growth, but above all, for us, the United States continues to be the market that most drives the growth of our business.

France dominates in sparkling wines with Champagne. It is the country with the most prestigious wines. It is a world where France fulfils a very beautiful role and a very beautiful position. Champagne is more or less 300 million bottles. In terms of volume it is frozen since we are in an appellation area which is 100% exploited to date. Champagne represents today in this immense sparkling wine market 2 to 3% of the production but it is the top of the pyramid. The future of Champagne depends on our ability to continue to develop our brands and create value through price. It is a production which is very expensive therefore it must be sold dear.

Investing in rosé corresponds to several ideas. This color has undergone an important evolution in recent years since it has risen in quality thanks to producers such as Château d’Esclans and others. In this world, the rosé from Provence has taken on a particular stature. It is considered the excellence of rosé. We are the leaders of Champagne, we can be the leaders of rosé. We were interested in different actors, the most important being Château d’Esclans. Because it is the American market leader and there is an extraordinary personality behind this wine (Sacha Lichine). That is to say the search for excellence, freedom, entrepreneurship, the right balance between tradition and modernity. Besides that, we bought a smaller property called Château du Galoupet, by the sea, which will allow us to do different things. The North American market remains the main market for Provence rosé today, but we also plan to develop the United Kingdom, like the Germanic countries, and even Italy and other European countries. And also Japan.

We launched the Volcan tequila two years ago near Guadalajara, (Mexico) in our own distilleries. We are in partnership with the Gallardo family, a well-established Mexican family. This tequila was launched in the United States and Mexico and we are going to launch Volcan in Europe for the first time this year. We will start with Spain. We, also, acquired an American whiskey two years ago called Woodinville. It works very well. We are the leader in Washington State, in the United States. We are gradually developing its presence in the various American states and it works very well.

The above interview came out in Le Figaro Vins.

An unique event coming on from February 29 to March 1, 2020, find the fourth edition of the Rare Grape Variety Fair at the Saint-Etienne Chapel in Beaune, Côte d’Or dept 21 Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region. The schedules are: Saturday February 29 from 10h to 20h. Sunday March 1 from 10h to 17h. Location: Chapelle Saint-Etienne Place Félix Ziem, Beaune. Price: from 5 € . More info here in French : Cepages rares at Beaune

And that is all folks ,for now at least. Hope you enjoy the post on the wonderful world of wines and of course France!

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


February 15, 2020

A king ! and a kingdom !! France!!!

So here I am in a cold rainy gray day due to the storms lately that thankfully bypassed us rather nicely, I like to tell you about a king. My favorite pastime is architecture and history other  than wines and football/soccer not necessarily in that order and this is history with a capital letter L.

As we came to know him well while living in Versailles and was such an influential there and elsewhere, I like to tell you a bit of the story on king Louis XIV of France. Hope you enjoy the story and see his doing while stopping by Versailles.

Louis XIV, known as Louis the Great or the Sun King, born on September 5, 1638 at the Château Neuf in Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Yvelines dept 78) and died on September 1, 1715 in the Château de Versailles (Yvelines dept 78) ,was a king of France and Navarre. His reign extends from May 14, 1643 – under the regency of his mother Anne of Austria until September 7, 1651 to his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years is one of the longest in the history of Europe and the longest in the history of France.

Saint Germain en Laye



Born Louis, nicknamed Dieudonné, he ascended the throne of France on the death of his father, Louis XIII, a few months before his fifth birthday. He thus became the 64th king of France, the 44th king of Navarre and the third king of France from the Bourbon dynasty.  France is, during his reign, the most populous country in Europe, which gives it a certain power especially as, until the 1670s, the economy is doing well thanks in particular to the economic dynamism of the country and to public finances in order. Through diplomacy and war, king Louis XIV asserted his power in particular against the Habsburgs. His pre-square policy seeks to enlarge and rationalize the country’s borders, protected by the iron belt of Vauban, which fortifies the conquered cities. This action allows it to give France borders approaching those of the contemporary era, with the annexation of Roussillon, Franche-Comté, Lille, Alsace and Strasbourg.


From 1682, king Louis XIV ruled his kingdom from the vast Palace of Versailles, whose construction he supervised and whose architectural style inspired other European castles. His court subjects the nobility, closely watched, to a very elaborate etiquette. The cultural prestige asserts itself there thanks to the royal patronage in favor of artists such as Molière, Racine, Boileau, Lully, Le Brun and Le Nôtre, which favors the apogee of French classicism, qualified, from its lifetime, of ” Grand Siècle ” (Great Century) , or even century of Louis XIV. After the disappearance of Louis XIV, Voltaire was partly inspired by him to develop the concept of enlightened despotism.

King Louis XIV was the son of king Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, Louis was the fruit of the union of two dynasties, with parents belonging to two of the most powerful families of that time: the Capetian house of Bourbon and the Habsburgs. To the traditional title of Dauphin de Viennois is added at birth that of First son of France. On the death of his father, Louis-Dieudonné, who is four and a half years old, becomes king under the name of Louis XIV. The Regent then leaves the inconvenient apartments of the Louvre and settles in the Palais-Cardinal, bequeathed by Cardinal Richelieu to Louis XIII, to take advantage of the garden where the young Louis XIV and his brother can play. The Palais-Cardinal then becomes the Palais-Royal, (as known today) where housekeepers abandon young Louis to their chambermaids who give in to all his whims, which will give birth to a legend.


Cardinal Mazarin, godfather of king Louis XIV, was given responsibility by the Queen in March 1646 for the education of the young monarch and his brother Duke Philippe d’Orléans (known as “the petit Monsieur or little Mister). Louis is not a very hard-working student. In his childhood, Louis XIV repeatedly escaped death. At 5 years old, he almost drowned in one of the basins of the Palais-Royal garden. He is saved in extremis. At 9 years old, in 1647, he suffered from smallpox. Ten days later, the doctors no longer have any hope, but the young Louis is recovering miraculously. At 15, he has a breast tumor. At 17, he suffered from gonorrhea. The most serious alert for the Kingdom takes place in 1658: the king, at 19 years old, is victim of a serious food poisoning due probably to the water) and of typhoid fever, diagnosed as a typhus exanthematic, when taking Bergues in the North. On July 8, 1658 they gave him the last sacraments and started to prepare the succession, but François Guénaut, Anne of Austria’s doctor, gives him an emetic based on antimony and wine which once again heals miraculously  the king.


By September 7, 1651, a decree of justice declares the majority of the king (the Royal majority is at thirteen years). All the great men of the kingdom come to pay him homage, except Condé who, from Guyenne, raises an army to march on Paris. The court then leaves Paris for Fontainebleau, then Bourges, where the four thousand men of Marshal d’Estrée are stationed. Then begins a civil war which will help to clarify things. king Louis XIV was sacred on June 7, 1654 in the Cathedral of Reims by Simon Legras, bishop of Soissons. He left the political affairs to Cardinal Mazarin, while he continued his military training with Turenne. Absolutism of divine right begins to take shape.

On November 7, 1659, the Spanish agreed to sign the Treaty of the Pyrenees, which fixed the borders between France and Spain. For his part, king Louis XIV consented, willy-nilly, to respect one of the clauses of the treaty: to marry the Infanta Maria-Teresa of Austria, daughter of Felipe IV king of Spain, and of Elisabeth of France. The purpose of this marriage, however, was to bring France closer to Spain. It takes place on June 9, 1660 in the Saint-John the Baptist Church of Saint-Jean-de-Luz (see my post on it). Note that on the occasion of this marriage, Maria-Teresa must renounce her rights to the Spanish throne.

When Cardinal Mazarin died on March 9, 1661, king Louis XIV first decision was to abolish the position of principal minister and to personally take control of the government on March 10, 1661 with a “coup de majesté” . On September 5, 1661, the day of his 23 years, the king had Nicolas Fouquet  (Château Vaux-le-Vicomte) arrested in broad daylight, by d’Artagnan (captain of the musketeers). At the same time, he abolished the position of superintendent of finance. The reasons for Nicolas Fouquet’s incarceration are numerous and go beyond a problem of enrichment. specifically, Nicolas Fouquet can be perceived as a political threat Louis XIV. The king created a chamber of justice to examine the accounts of finances, including Fouquet. In 1665, the judges condemned Fouquet to banishment, a sentence which the king commuted to life imprisonment in Pignerol. In July 1665, the judges prosecuted the farmers and the businessmen who were friends of Fouquet, on payment of a fixed tax. All this allows the state to recover about a hundred million pounds (from what supposedly Fouquet dwindle).

King Louis XIV had several mistresses, the most notable of whom are Louise de La Vallière and Madame de Montespan. The latter, who has in common with the king a taste for pomp and grandeur, advises him in the artistic field. She supports Jean-Baptiste Lully, Racine and Boileau Things changed in the early 1680s, when the king got closer, then secretly married Madame de Maintenon. Around 1681, the king returned to a decent private life, under the combined influence of his confessors and Madame de Maintenon. The year 1683 was marked by the death of Colbert, one of his principal ministers and the agent of this rational absolutism which then developed, the fruit of the intellectual revolution of the first half of the century. Queen Maria-Teresa died the same year, which allowed the king to secretly marry Madame de Maintenon, during an intimate ceremony which probably took place in 1683 among others.


In 1685, the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which granted religious freedom to French Protestants, restored the prestige of king Louis XIV vis-à-vis the Catholic princes and restored him his place among the great leaders of Christianity. The end of the reign was overshadowed by the loss, between 1711 and 1714, of almost all of his legitimate heirs and by the health problems of the old king. On September 1, 1715, around 8h15, the king died of an acute ischemia of the lower limb, caused by an embolism linked to a complete arrhythmia, complicated by gangrene. His courtiers surround him.The agony lasted several days. His death puts an end to a reign of seventy-two years and a hundred days (fifty-four years of effective reign if we withdraw the period of the regency from 1643 to 1661). The body of king Louis XIV was deposited in the Bourbon vault, in the crypt of the Saint-Denis Basilica. His coffin was desecrated on October 14, 1793 during the French revolution, and his body thrown into a mass grave adjoining the basilica, towards the north. In the 19C, Louis-Philippe I king of the French, ordered a monument in the Bourbon memorial chapel in Saint-Denis, in 1841-1842.

st denis

King Louis XIV had many legitimate and illegitimate children. From his wife, Maria-Teresa of Austria, the king had six children (three girls and three boys) of which only one, Louis of France, the “Grand Dauphin”, survived childhood. These were Louis of France, son of France, the Grand Dauphin; Anne-Élisabeth de France, daughter of France; Marie-Anne de France, daughter of France; Marie-Thérèse of France, daughter of France, and La Petite Madame(little misses) , Philippe-Charles of France, son of France, Duke of Anjou; and Louis-François de France, son of France, Duke of Anjou.

Of his two main mistresses, he had 10 legitimate children, only 5 of whom survived childhood. From the king’s union with Louise de La Vallière were born five or six children, two of whom survived childhood. The king is said to have had other children, but whom he did not recognize.

From Madame de Montespan were born: Louis-Auguste, Duke of Maine, Louis-César, Count of Vexin; Louise-Françoise de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Nantes, married to the prince of Condé; Louise-Marie-Anne, Mademoiselle de Tours; Françoise-Marie, Mademoiselle de Blois, married to the Duke of Orleans and Louis-Alexandre, Count of Toulouse.

Some webpages to note and help you plan your trip to Saint-Germain-en-Laye and/or  Versailles are

Official Château de Versailles on Louis XIV in English

Official Château de Versailles on the capital of a kingdom with Louis XIV in English

There are in French of course…

Birth certificate of Louis XIV:

Death certificate of king Louis XIV:

And there you go , I know a bit long but the personage can be describe in volumes of books and I did condense  my book at home with the main parts me think. Hope you have enjoy it as I do. King Louis XIV was awesome for Versailles, France, and the world; maybe we need another one today …

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



February 14, 2020

Chateau de Pontivy dit Rohan!

And again a re visit of something that alone is worth the visit to Pontivy in my opinion. There is a lot history here and architecture, even not enough for a couple of posts in my blog. However, each time here is a must to go by it. I will give some additional historical information and new pictures here but there is plenty more in my blog on it.

The Château de Pontivy , called Château des Rohan, was built in the 15C and 16C by the family of Rohan. The castle belongs to the family of Rohan who stayed there irregularly until the end of the 18C. Thereafter, the castle is successively occupied by the sub-prefecture and the courtroom of the civil court of Pontivy (1800-1839); General Bernadotte, commander-in-chief of the Western Army in charge of combating the Chouans (local farmers who fought against the French revolution for the king and region), installed his headquarters (May-June 1801); The Sisters of Kermaria, who created a school and a boarding schools for girls (1841-1884); A Breton museum founded by Jérôme Le Brigand in the late 19C; La Garde Saint-Ivy (sports Club of the city), the Scouts of France, some local families were housed in the west gallery, then severed in several rooms in the 1st half of the 20C with interruption in 1939-1940. During WWII, the Polish troops and then Autonomists Breton (June-September 1940). In 1953, Madame de Rohan rented it to the town of Pontivy by a lease of 99 years for a symbolic French Franc ,assuming all the charges of the owner. The town of Pontivy is then responsible for the maintenance, restoration and valorisation of the castle. Duke Josselin of Rohan agreed to cede his property to the city which became its owner on 16 October 2015. It still has some private rooms ,but most is open to the public.


The Château Rohan was the place of the declaration of independance that was thwarted in Brittany while the creation of the National Breton Committee by the members of the Nationalist Breton Party in July 1940.


The castle of Pontivy was built in a quadrangular and irregular way of about 90 meters by 75 meters flank by four towers with a circular angle connected with a courtine of 20 meters high very traditional.  The gross of its walls can reach in some spot to more than 5 meters in order to protect it from the progress of the artillery and canon balls. It is as it looks more of a fortress!


The tourist office of Morbihan more on the castle in French

The tourist office of Pontivy communité on the castle

Hope it brings you here you won’t regretted, Pontivy and its castle. Lovely walks all around the castle/fortress indeed, and down its walls we have great souvenirs eating at L’Aiglon resto. Do read my previous posts on Pontivy, and I thank you.

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


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February 14, 2020

St Joseph Imperial Church of Pontivy!

I have written on it before in my blog and upon coming back for a visit to Pontivy of course could not avoid stopping by it again. I will be brief as the history ,architecture of it has been already covered in my previous posts on it.

Imperial Church of St Joseph (église Impériale de Saint Joseph) is done in  néo gothic from 1860, It was built while visiting by Napoléon III . Under an imperial subvention, the crowning Arrow was not finished so square top on the belltower seen today. In our timing it was closed but it is open  every day from 14h to 19h except Tuesdays and dates of events.


The tourist office of Morbihan in French on the Church! Tourist office of Morbihan on Imperial Church St Joseph

In addition to my previous post here is more detail on the architecture and symbolism of the Emperors here with a bit of description of the Imperial Church of St Joseph of Pontivy.


The first stone was laid on July 29, 1860 by Princess Bacchochi, cousin of the emperor, residing in Colpo (Morbihan 56) . Construction, started in 1863, was stopped in 1867.

 The Saint Joseph’s Church is built on a Latin cross plan on three levels with  large arcades, triforium and tall windows. It has the choir oriented to the south, contrary to religious architectural standards which require an orientation of the choir to the east. The church is undoubtedly in neo-Gothic style with vaults are on crossed ribs whose thrusts are buttressed outside by a series of flying buttresses, the light penetrates through bays in broken arch, enriched with the outside of gables and pinnacles. All  faithful to one of the wishes expressed by Napoleon III regarding this church.  It was the Parisian Gothic style of the 13C that inspired the Parisian master builder. Carved the dove of the Holy Spirit which decorates the shade of the pulpit to preach and the reliefs of the four evangelists accompanied by their symbol on this church such as those of Saint Mathieu and the angel, Saint Marc and the lion, Saint Luc and the bull, Saint John and the eagle. The organ which is in the choir today dates from the beginning of the 20C was acquired by the intermunicipal union for the tourist development of the canton of Pontivy. This is how the organ is installed in the Saint-Joseph church where it still remains. The coat of arms of Emperor Napoleon III is inlaid on the stained glass window of the eastern arm of the transept, on the keystone of the apse of the choir and under the balustrade of the bell tower outside. The “E” of Empress Eugenie and the “N” of Napoleon III are in the center of the stained glass window on the west arm of the transept and on the pavement of the choir, surmounted by the imperial crown and surrounded by bees, as well as at center of the rose window on the west arm of the transept. The bee symbolizes immortality and resurrection and also creates a link between the Empire and the origins of France. Bees surround the figure of the Emperor and the imperial crown on the pavement of the choir and the figures of the Emperor and Empress in the center of the rose window on the west arm of the transept.

Between 1991 and 1994, contemporary stained glass windows, on the theme of the four elements, were made and color the building with a new breath

Indeed a wonderful monument surrounded by a pretty park garden in city center Pontivy. Hope you enjoy the post as I do.

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

February 12, 2020

A castle and museum at Laval!

And I take you now on a trip to Laval, in the dept 53 of the Mayenne and the region of Pays de la Loire.  Of course, I have come by here with the car and by train, but hardly ever did justice to the town  emblematic monuments until now.  I have written on the garden, the Cathedral , and the Basilica, and now its the turn to do it for the Castle-Museum.

The castle is overlook a lot by all, of course in an region where castles are like houses you tend to dismiss some great properties. However, this castle is unique for its architecture and interesting museum in it. Let me tell you about the Château of Laval and its Naîf arts museum.

The Chateau de Laval  has its foundation in the 11C , and allowed the birth of the city. An emblematic monument of Laval, it occupies a rocky promontory above the Mayenne river. It nevertheless has an element which gives it a unique status in the castral landscape: the oldest preserved masonry in France. It is made up of two distinct sets: the Vieux-Château, (old castle) which corresponds to the medieval castle, and the Château-Neuf, (new castle) a Renaissance gallery transformed into a courthouse in the 19C.



The history of the Château de Laval is intimately linked to that of the Maison de Laval, which appeared with Guy I, founder of the château. The Old Castle is remarkable for its 12C chapel as well as for its imposing master tower, crowned with a 13C wooden mantle, an exceptional example of military architecture from the Middle Ages. The richly carved bays of medieval houses, made at the beginning of the 16C, and the gallery of Château-Neuf, dating from the 1540s, are outstanding elements of the Renaissance which show the evolution of architecture at that time.

Laval chateau vieux feb16

The Old Castle, which served as a prison from the French revolution to 1911, has been open to the public since the 1920s. Initially devoted to archaeology, natural history and the decorative arts, it has housed the Musée d ‘Naive Art and Singular Arts of Laval. This museum presents works by numerous artists representative of naive art and singular art.


The Museum of Naive Art and Singular Arts (MANAS) is the oldest museum dedicated to naive art in France. It was created in 1967, and its opening was a way for the town to pay homage to Henri Rousseau, whom it regretted not having celebrated in his lifetime as not accepting his art form. This emblematic painter of naive art was born in Laval. In the following decades, the collections were increased and diversified, in particular to take into account singular art and foreign artists. These are presented in seven rooms, one dedicated to modern primitives like Henri Rousseau, another to various naive currents, another to naive Eastern Europeans, another to the Lefranc collection, the rest being dedicated to singular artists.


The official webpage for the museum is here: Official naif museum on the old castle

A bit on the architecture that I like

The castle forms a triangular set of about a hundred meters on one side. It is surrounded by several streets that date back to the Middle Ages such as to the south is the Grande Rue, to the west the rue des Orfèvres, to the northeast the rue du Val -de-Mayenne. To the northwest, the Château-Neuf and its esplanade are bordered by a steep lane, the roquet du Palais; roquet means pug which is a steep slope in local talk. The main entrance of the castle overlooks the Place de la Trémoille, one of the most important in the city. This square overlooks both the pavilion which provides access to the Vieux Château, and the esplanade opening in front of the Château-Neuf. This is a wonderful area to walk like if you are back in the Middle Ages , just awesome and worth the detour me think.


Since the Château-Neuf housed the Laval courthouse from the French revolution to 1998, the square formerly bore the name of Place du Palais. Its current Place de La Trémoille, honors the youngest son of the last count of Laval, Antoine-Philippe de La Trémoille, royalist chief guillotined in front of the castle gates in 1794.


Some webpages as usual from me to help you plan your trip to this wonderful town of Laval are

City of Laval on the castle museum in French

Tourist office of Laval on the Castle Museum in French

Tourist office of the Mayenne dept 53 on the castle museum in French

There you folks, i put the webpages in French because it has more info as usually the case but in the tourist offces you can see in English for example. Hope you enjoy your visual visit to Laval and its Castle-Museum!

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

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February 12, 2020

Fine Arts Museum, Angers!!

And why not speak of Fine Arts museums , these are the treasure throve of my belle France,and Paris is not alone the proof again is to follow here. I have written about Angers before in my blog, but figure not enough on the wonderful Fine Arts Museum or Musée des Beaux Arts d’Angers. There are museums, my favorite is the fine arts museum or musée des beaux-arts d’Angers, it is at the famous logis Barrault.

The Museum of Fine Arts of Angers is an art museum located in Angers, in an old mansion, the Logis Barrault, place Saint-Éloi near the historic city center of Angers. It is part of the Toussaint complex which includes the garden of fine arts, the David d’Angers gallery and the municipal library. It presents a collection of works of art acquired over the centuries . The museum is administered by the City/Town hall of Angers


In May 1801, the museum of the Central School of Maine-et-Loire opened its doors, along the lines of the Louvre museum. In 1803, the central schools were abolished, but at the behest of the town of Angers the painting museum was preserved, the natural history cabinet and the municipal library opened there in 1805. The museum was then considered to be one of the richest deposits which has been preserved in all the neighboring departments, and after that of Paris, it would be one of the most beautiful in France. The museum therefore became a municipal museum in 1805!


In 1859, Lancelot Théodore Turpin de Crissé enriched the museum’s collections with an important legacy: Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities, ancient bronzes, Greek vases, glassware, enamels and earthenware, numerous paintings including those by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (Paolo and Francesca ), and some Primitives including a triptych from the Avignon school. In 1861, the painter Guillaume Bodinier offered the city the Pincé hotel (the Pincé museum) to house objects from the Turpin de Crissé collection in honor of the donor Lancelot Théodore Turpin de Crissé The Beaurepaire gallery was inaugurated in 1887. es presented works include La Danse by Charles-Adolphe Gumery, La Mort de Priam by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin.


From 1949, the museum was summarily reorganized, and reopened in 1950.   Between 1999 and 2004 major renovations, alterations and enlargements were orchestrated . In 2003, the city of Angers received, by bequest of its last owner and donor, Daniel Duclaux, the Château de Villevêque and its large collection of art objects it contains. Among this collection rich with more than 900 works, a hundred old pieces of furniture, sixty old books, manuscripts and incunabula, Italian and Hispano-Moorish ceramics, Limousin enamels, 70 works of art, stone or wooden sculptures polychrome from the Middle Ages and tapestries from Flanders from the Renaissance period.


The Fine Arts museum covers a total area of 7,000 m2 divided into 2,500 m2 for permanent collections, 500 m2 for temporary exhibitions, 1,000 m2 for public reception areas (reception halls, museum passageways, auditorium, video room, café, shop, etc.) and 3,000 m2 for technical buildings.


The description of it briefly are as follows. Two rooms on the first floor are devoted to the Primitives of the 14C (French, Italian and Flemish) and to works of art from the end of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, but also to the northern schools of the 16-17C, to French and Italian schools of the 16-17C. On the second floor, the visitor discovers works from the 18C under the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI, then the large paintings from the first half of the 19C. For the 18C French. On the first floor, a large room is dedicated to modern art of the 20C and contemporary art. Finally, on the ground floor, the Gumery room presents large canvases from the second half of the 19C and sculptures.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Museums of Angers on the Fine Arts Museum

Tourist office of Angers on the Fine Arts Museum

Tourist office of the Anjou area on the Fine Arts Museum

And there you go another gem of my belle France and this one not far in my lovely Pays de la Loire region, and the beautiful city of Angers. Hope you enjoy it as we did

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




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February 11, 2020

Col du Portalet !!!

Well I told you we drive , anywhere! and we had plenty of opportunities over the years to go over the Pyrénées between my loves France and Spain. Even when there were no tunnels!!! It was a thrill. Now with the tunnels is a piece of cake!!!

I love one as the others posts in my blog. Let me tell you a bit more on the Col du Portalet and its port.

Col du Portalet

The Col du Pourtalet pass is a border crossing between France passing by the town of Laruns and Spain, between the Ossau valley and the Tena valley.  Located at an altitude of 1,794 meters, it overlooks the Cirque d’Aneou and offers a magnificent view of the Pic du Midi d’Ossau.

col du Portalet

The Col du Pourtalet pass proves to be a starting point for various excursions in the surrounding mountains. Snow is regularly present there from the end of October to the end of May.

On the Spanish side, there are several stores that are call  ventas or sales outlet). Because of the difference between French and Spanish taxes, many French people come to get their supplies,oh yes and everywhere along the long frontier.

Col du Portalet

The Col du Pourtalet pass was crossed only once by the Tour de France, in 1991, during the 13th stage between Jaca and Val-Louron. The Belgian Peter De Clercq won the stage.

You can do excellent skiing here at the Artouste station / Col du Pourtalet on the road D934 going to Spain. At Laruns ,you have spas , lake Artouste, and many other mountain activities which to me is reduce to going over by car!

The Col du Pourtalet is indeed an outlet for Sallent-de-Gallego, Panticosa, Tramacastilla in Spain. The tourist office of Laruns offers, with the office of guides and mountain guides, several walks around the Col du Pourtalet. In the heart of the Pyrenees national park, just before arriving at the Col du Pourtalet, the Cirque d’Aneou marks the border with Spain!

Col du Portalet

Not stay at the hotel Portalet, but pass by the road in front so a nice picture of it here:

The access to the col or pass or peak is from the tourist office base at Laruns more here in French it shows more info. Tourist office of valley of Ossau on transports

Info on the ski resorts there ,for information only ,never done it. Tourist office of the Valley of the Ossau on ski activities

Info on the Col du Portalet in French from tourist office of dept 64 Pyrénées Atlantiques: Tourist office of dept 64 on the Col du Portalet

And you try it, now it is highly recommended a thrill to do by car and the views are fantastic much better than my amateur photos! Enjoy the Col du Portalet sitting quietly between France and Spain.

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



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