Archive for ‘France’

August 19, 2018

17th Edition Saint Christophe old vehicles show at Bignan

Ok so busy day today lol!! This is the third of a series today on the town of Bignan.  Sunday is usually calm and family time here. However, I am on vacation finding places to go and things to do without too much preparation as I am in no mood to do that. Therefore, I saw the 17th edition of Saint Christophe old Vehicles show at the Domaine de Kerguéhennec in Bignan and off we went.

This event is done every year and this time organize by the Avrbignan association. Its Sunday so what the heck get out of the house we did and glad we did it. The association site of old antique vehicles is here in French: http://avrbignan.fr/

Bignan

We love cars so been to several of them here and elsewhere. Even in my town there are every year. The freedom of the road is unequal and never replace. Put your pedal to the metal and rock!!! Of course, always with moderation, we are even going down to 80 KPH rules in France on one way lane department roads like the one today on the D767 ! OF course ,even if the death on the road increase again…of course is not speed but they get plenty of money from it last read the government racks in more than 700M € in fines!!!

Bignan Bignan Bignan

So let’s get to the old slow cars (even if new they went faster than today).

The 17 edition of the Saint Christophe was one of the zillions of events held at the domaine nowadays. It was an all day affairs even if we only stay for the antique old cars display show at 14h. The cars left from Baud to Bignan, there a Mass in the tent at Kerguehennec by 11h then lunch at 12h30 for 11€ including ham, cold cuts, fries ,cheese, fruit tarts and coffee. By 14h the exhibition of the vehicles were shown all parked behind the stables out to the left of the Castle. By 16h30 there were prizes given to the best show and at 19h another dinner 10€ without drinks but kir Breton offered for free, live music by Kelt ha Breizh, celtic Breton songs of course.

Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan

Again, the webpage for the Domaine (and Castle) of Kerguéhennec is here: http://www.kerguehennec.fr/le-domaine

The site is in French , so I put the above webpage on the page of agenda and cultural events coming up on it. Hope it helps. http://www.kerguehennec.fr/actualite-agenda

There you go a nice old fashion old car show nearby on a beautiful surroundings, perfect Sunday. Hope you enjoy it too

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

 

August 19, 2018

Domaine de Kerguéhennec at Bignan!

As mentioned in my previous post, Sunday is usually calm and family time here. However, I am on vacation finding places to go and things to do without too much preparation as I am in no mood to do that. Therefore, I saw the 17th edition of Saint Christophe old Vehicles show at the Domaine de Kerguéhennec in Bignan and off we went. I will post the Domaine here and the car event on another separate post ok.

Bignan Bignan

On the Domaine which is gorgeous and worthy of the title the Versailles of Brittany (smaller of course), I have written a piece before. It is now a center for contemporary arts spread all over the property as well and a great area for picnics and just family outings.  Here is my previous post on it

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/10/20/domaine-de-kerguehennecmorbihan/

Now a bit more on the domaine.

The Château de Kerguéhennec, (Domaine for the whole , the Castle is in the middle of the property) nicknamed the Versailles Breton, is an 18C castle located in Bignan in the Morbihan 56.. It is about 20 km north of Vannes, in the direction of Pontivy, the castle of Kerguéhennec was built in 1710 for two wealthy Swiss financiers from St. Gallen but settled in Paris, the Hogguer brothers, shareholders of the company of the India.

Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan

Thereafter, it goes thru a period of inheritance of different families such as in 1732, acquired as a land of agricultural and forestry by Guy-Auguste de Rohan , Count of Chabot, famous for having ordered taken prisoner Voltaire, who did not reside there. His son, Louis-Antoine de Rohan-Chabot , duke of Rohan, was to be separated shortly after the French Revolution. The estate was acquired in 1802 by the Count Louis Henri de Janzé , then, sold by his grand-son Count Louis Albert Henri de Janzé in 1872, then by Paul-Henri de Lanjuinais, the 3rd Earl of Lanjuinais, deputy and President of the General Council of Morbihan, his cousin, who then lavishly restored it.  It is also , Count Lanjuinais who made the park of 170 hectares The surroundings of the castle are treated with a French style gardens , while the north of the estate is arranged in the English style. It also houses an arboretum.

Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan Bignan

Bignan

The estate will then pass by inheritance to Marie Louise Marguerite Lanjuinais, daughter of Paul Henri Lanjuinais and wife of Arthur Espivent de La Villeboisnet. Finally, the eldest daughter of the latter, Elisabeth Anne Marie Espivent de la Villesboisnet, became Countess Pierre Humières in 1933, who will inherit it herself by way of In division in 1943. It is she who on January 19, 1972 will sell the Château and Domaine de Kerguéhennec to the Department of Morbihan.

In 1986, an open-air sculpture garden was built in the park. In 1988, a contemporary art center was installed in the castle’s dependencies. The estate also houses a cultural meeting center that hosts musicians and composers in residence. Always something going on here.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official webpage of Kerguéhennec: http://www.kerguehennec.fr/le-domaine

Tourist office of Brittany in English: http://www.brittanytourism.com/discover-our-destinations/destination-broceliande/unmissable-sites/the-kerguehennec-estate

Tourist office Morbihan : http://www.morbihan-tourism.co.uk/bignan/domaine-de-kerguehennec/tabid/8474/offreid/6f807b8a-bf32-4dea-bf50-fbff64d0bdb8

Central Morbihan tourist office : https://www.centre-morbihan-tourisme.bzh/bouger/en-famille/13-le-domaine-de-kerguehennec-a-bignan.html

Golfe du Morbihan tourist page : https://www.golfedumorbihan.bzh/bignan/domaine-de-kerguehennec/tabid/703/offreid/6f807b8a-bf32-4dea-bf50-fbff64d0bdb8

Another nice outing in my neck of the woods all wonderful, beautiful and the weather helps a lot. The beaches are still full of visitors and locals alike. And tomorrow is Monday wow what are we going to do??? Yikes!!!

Enjoy the photos which will be many, so will do another post for the cars event with plenty of more photos in the next post. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

 

August 19, 2018

Little Bignan in the Morbihan Breton!

Well, normally Sundays are quiet days around here and we follow too. However, this is Summer vacation times and we are always finding places to go and do. there was a big event at the Domaine de Kerguehennec (see next post) ,and we decided to go there and passed by the town of Bignan.

I have written briefly on the town in previous posts of the Some News from the Morbihan series but never a one shot post on it. Well today it their day in my blog. This is Bignan fierce Breton.

One of those previous blog post that I talked a bit on Bignan is here: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2016/01/30/my-travels-in-the-morbihan-xii/

Now let’s get with the new story.

Bignan is located in the Morbihan department 56 of Brittany. The castle of Kerguéhennec (more on this next post), sometimes dubbed the “Versailles Breton”, is one of the most visited places on the town. The town rests on the moors of Lanvaux (forest). Bignan is located between the towns of Locminé and Saint-Jean-Brévelay., and is only half an hour from the main cities of Morbihan: Vannes, at  25 minutes , Lorient 30 mins, and Pontivy 20 mins aprox. I am about 25 minutes from it. The best way for visitors is to come from Rennes take the N24 to exit with the D181 road direction Bignan city center, there panels will tell you the different sights to see. From Vannes take the D767 direction Locminé to the D115 at Colpo and then the D150 to Bignan. There is no train /bus stations. Of course, I took the back roads even the D1 and D16 in the country.

Bignan Bignan

The bit of history I like is short for a village town simply Bignan was a very active center of Chouannerie from 1794 by the action of Pierre Guillemot, called “The King of Bignan”, Lieutenant of General Georges Cadoudal. All leading figures in the fight against the French revolution and re establishment of the monarchy in France but especially in Brittany. The castle of Kerguéhennec, sometimes nicknamed the “Versailles Breton”, served as a warehouse for the Chouans to subtract the crops from the law of requisition of grains applied by the Republican administration.

Things to see

Château de Beaulieu ,19C, covered alley and dolmen of Kergonfalz, the fountain of Saint Eloi, A Cross in city center from the 16C, and the Cross of Treuliec from the 17C, the Chapel of Sainte Noyale and fountain of Sainte Nolwenn, the farm of Pierre Guillemot at Kerdel commune of Bignan. The most famous of it all the Domaine de Kerguehennec now a center of contemporary arts in the Castle of the 18C , a park and arboretum with great picnic areas. 42 calvaries in and around the town from simple Cross to Monumental in size. In a couple there is an inscription I translate as , “The stone will be used, the Cross will stay, and the sons of Bignan will not surrender” (evidence of the fierce resistance to the French revolution and its reign of terror.

The one, I  will tell you a bit more is the Church of St Peter and St Paul .The Church is located at the Place de la Chouannerie  in city center of Bignan. It was built in the 18C to replace a roman Church in ruins. The first stone is laid in 1787. Interrupted during the French revolution and the exile of Abbé Nemati, (who refuse to submit to constitution of the French Republic) , the work resumed in 1801.  Abbé Pierre Nemati was buried there when he died in 1804. New bells were melted for the Church and received  them in 1807. The steeple is built between 1824 and 1857.

Bignan Bignan Bignan

The Church is built of stones, according to the Classical  style,  and a Latin Cross.  The bell tower to which the arrow is missing, is built to the east, on the narthex side. Square pillars separate the nave from the aisles.  The high altar, which dates from the 18C , supports a Christ in the Cross surrounded by the statues of St. Joseph and St. John the Baptist, an angel hanging from above. The original canopy still overlooks this altar. A stained glass window, dated from 1625, represents the interrogation of Yves Nicolazic (on the apparitions of Saint Anne see posts on Sainte Anne d’Auray ) by the Bishop of Vannes that same year.

The city /town hall of Bignan in French has a lot more on the monuments and history here: http://www.mairie-bignan.fr/decouverte/patrimoine

I will do a separate post for it and an event there today, but the webpage for the main tourist attraction here is here: http://www.kerguehennec.fr/

A bit of detour and fall right into a very true history of France ,in just a small town in the Morbihan Breton, love it as a history buffs or lover or enthusiast or just plain history nuts.

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

 

 

 

 

August 19, 2018

Chateau Museum of Pau!

And I bring to a place our family gathered for many years, first on my dear late wife Martine’s side for the Tour de France, and later us just even staying there as a base to see more of the region. This is Pau, in dept 64 Pyrénées-Atlantique in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine.  Wonderful Pau is only  about 200 km from Bordeaux and Toulouse and 250 km from Zaragoza in Aragon,Spain. We have come by car always so know they have a train station quite nice and an airport nearby; the roads are super and we have taken them all such as the A64 La Pyrénéenne, A65 autoroute de Gascogne, N117 and N134 and as well the great beltway of Pau the D817 with lots of speed radars so check the sites to avoid them ::)

I have written several post on it, I leave you with my favorite post …on Pau. Wonderful Pau

In the city center of Pau, in old Béarn, there is the old Castle of Pau (and museum too), famous for having seen the birth of the king of France and Navarre, Henri IV. It is accessed by the Pont de Nemours. Its position allows to control the passage on the Gave de Pau (river canyon) located further south below.  The Castle estate is made up of a park, stretching westward along the gave, and by the buildings themselves, located on the east side, whose interior houses a museum. The east entrance of the Castle overlooks the Boulevard des Pyrénées which connects the castle to Beaumont Park!

Begun by the Viscounts of Béarn in the 11C, and in particular by Centulle le Vieux, the castle was gradually built throughout the Middle Ages. It is above all a military work of a typical castle, built at the top of the small hill that dominates the Gave delimited by the ravine of Hédas. In the 12C and 13C, successive dynasties of the Viscounts of Béarn built three towers at this fortress, which were named Mazères, Billère and Montaüser.

Gaston III de Foix-Béarn, better known as Gaston Fébus. This warlord, in a delicate situation since, by his possessions, under the rule of the enemy kingdoms of France and England, makes the Béarn, a united and autonomous region. He developed a network of strongholds in order to defend this territory. The Château de Pau was thus strongly transformed in order to become a imprenable citadel. Fébus built the Brick dungeon, which was thirty-three meters high, and engraved the inscription: “Febus Me Fe” (“Febus Me Fit”, in Béarn language). It also makes the Tour de la Monnaie and the south wing of the castle.

In the Renaissance, the installation of the Court of Navarre in 1512 significantly altered the appearance of the castle. Of fortress It was initially, it becomes a residence of pleasure. Henri Albret resides there accompanied by his wife Marguerite of Angoulême, sister of king François I, and better known as Marguerite of Navarre, author of the Heptahedron. The two sovereigns are at the origin of the development of a terrace in the south as well as the courtyard of honor, the construction of the staircase of honor in place of the old kitchens, the installation of the new kitchens in the north wing and the development of the gardens. The future king Henri IV was born at the château on December 13, 1553. The fame of this king, cradled as a child in a preciously preserved turtle shell, gives the castle, which saw it neither grow nor die and where it made no embellishment, a particular taste.

After the illustrious passage of the future King Henry IV and the death of his grandparents, no ruler will reside in Pau until the 19C. The castle was entrusted to the care of the Gramont family, and was thus maintained, but its ceremonial furniture was gradually removed and a large part of its estate was amputated under the constant pressure of the sprawling city. As to preserved it from demolition under the French Revolution, the castle arrives in a pitiful state when Louis-Philippe decides to fully restore it (same idea for Versailles). He therefore had the idea of restoring from 1838 the castle of the one who reconciled Catholics and Protestants to make it a royal residence, but it will not reside there however. The exterior of the castle is also strongly remodelled with the addition of a mock tower to the West (Louis-Philippe tower) by symmetry to the Mazères tower, the transformation of the fore-guard into a chapel and the destruction of the old fortified corridor. Louis-Philippe, renovator of the Castle as he was of Versailles, exiled in 1848 in England where he died two years later, could never stay in this place.

The restorations of the château stopped in 1848 are taken over in 1852. In 1859, we start the demolition of the East building, then we build the portico. The two medallions representing Henri of Albret and Marguerite de Valois placed above at the same time the construction of the buildings connecting the portico to the Montaüser tower. They restored the chapel, reinforces the staircase of honor, takes over the facade of the wing of the middle (aile du midi), establishes a library in the living room Bernadotte to install the six thousand books bought in 1867 by Napoleon III to the former mayor of Pau. The castle received the visit of Napoleon III but also those, more numerous, of the Empress Eugénie during her multiple cures in the southwest. In 1868, it was the Queen of Spain, on the run, Isabel II and her suite, who lodged at the castle. The Third Republic made the castle a presidential residence before becoming, in 1926, the National museum that it remained and which houses the works preserved since the time of Henri IV and especially during the restoration operated by Louis-Philippe. Indeed as in Versailles, a wonderful castle museum to be seen a must..

Let me tell you about the architecture, which is very rich, will be brief.

The main entrance takes place on the side of the city, by a bridge of bricks and stones built during the reign of king Louis XV, to replace the medieval drawbridge. A three-arch portico was built between 1859 and 1864 in the Renaissance style. Cour d’honneur , the courtyard of the castle has an original form, punctuated with sculptures and medallions at the doors and windows.

Pau

Pau

Towers of the Castle:

The Gaston-Fébus tower in the southeast, also called the dungeon. The latter was completed by Fébus in the 14C, it was built almost entirely in brick on a height of 33 meters. It had like the other towers, a slate blanket that was removed after a storm in 1820. In the part currently facing the Parliament of Navarre, the President of the States of Béarn proclaimed the name of each newly elected sovereign. The tower served as a prison until 1822.

The Mazères and Louis-Philippe Towers at the West End,start with the Mazères Tower is the oldest of the castle since it dates from the 11C while that of Louis-Philippe Tower was built in the middle of the 19C to echo in its twin tower. The two Towers measure each 22.5 meters. The Mazères tower refers to the village of Mazères-Lezons, on the other side of the Gave de Pau.

The  Montaüser tower to the north, the tower was devoid of stairs to its origin in the 12C. The garrison was, thus, tasked to mount the tower with ladders which were withdrawn after climbing. This tower was once a well to forget in which the criminals were locked up.

The Billère Tower in the north-west of the castle refers to the village of Billère in which the good king Henri IV was fed in the Lassensàa house. This tower measures 30 meters high, counting the attic, it was built in the 12C

The Napoleon III Tower, this one was carried out at the end of the 19C under the orders of the emperor in front of the Gaston-Fébus tower. It ends the castle at its northeast end.

Pau Pau

Pau Pau Pau

Blessed in 1843 by the Bishop of Bayonne, the present Chapel was set up in 1840 in the old drawbridge door built in the early 16C. It was located in a small room on the first floor of the south wing of the castle

Pau

Three walls surrounded the castle in order to protect it from the external aggressions constitutes an advanced defense for the castle. It was built by Fébus below the castle in the south, and was used to watch over the Gave de Pau, the Pyrenees and Spain in the distance.

In the 16C, the family of Albret created an exceptional set of gardens and parks around the castle the kings of Navarre thus develop a warren, an orchard, a chesnut grove, a vine, a small and a large park (named lower-level and high-level) the Haute-Plante (high level) is transformed into a public place (present Place de Verdun) as well as a cemetery. The lower level is, in part, preserved and the gardens become accessible to the public in the mid-19C. The lower level now occupies 23 hectares in the heart of the city with parks and gardens, as well as a forest. The present place Gramont occupies the other part of the original lower level.

Pau Pau PAu Pau Pau

Let go inside shall we, again briefly.

The Salle des cent couverts (room of the hundred utensils) has vast proportions allowing to accommodate a rich tapestry décor and a huge table of oak and fir in the large living room The Grand Salon or large reception room of the castle created with the present waiting lounge a large room in the castle where the court (assembly of nobles and clergy) of the Béarn was gathered in the Middle Ages. From the end of the 15C it became the throne room of the kings of Navarre. The coffered ceiling sees the golden figures of the fine gold of Henri IV’s grandparents

Chambre du roi or King’s bedroom,that actually was to be born King Henry IV was probably in the present family lounge on the lower floor. The Turtle shell, the first cradle of the future sovereign, is a central element of the legend of the good King Henri IV. Since the 18C, the latter has been the object of a cult in Béarn, it is solemnly worn during processions in the streets of the city. During the French revolution, a local collector, Mr de Beauregard, decided to substitute the turtle shell with a similar turtle shell that he possessed. He was helped in his company by the concierge Lamaignère on the night of April 30, 1793. The very next day the false shell was burned in the public place. Fortunately the real shell was finally made it in 1814 to king Louis XVIII, many testimonies confirmed the identity of the legendary Cradle.

Apartments of the Empress originally built for the wife of Louis-Philippe, Queen Marie-Amélie, these apartments were finally occupied by the Empress Eugénie. These apartments include a boudoir, a bedroom, a bathroom, a wardrobe, a maid’s room and a dressing room. The empress came many times in the castle of Pau during her travels between Biarritz and the spa resorts of the Pyrenees .

 Family Lounge, this piece was conceived in the 19C in order to be a meeting place for the relatives of the sovereign, family and friends in particular.

The staircase of honor, or grand staircase, serves all the great apartments of the castle. It was made at the beginning of the 16C by the grandparents of Henri IV. It is a Renaissance-style realization, close to the staircases of the castles of Bury ,and Azay-le-Rideau. Marguerite of Angoulême and Henri Albret signed the staircase of their initials H and M throughout the building. Two large vases of red porphyry adorn the bearings, these are gifts made by the King of Sweden Charles XIV Jean, born in Pau, to Louis-Philippe.

The Château de Pau concentrates one of the most important collections of tapestries outside of Paris. It gathers 96 pieces, coming from 17 different draperies, but mainly woven by the Gobelins in Paris. Several main themes are covered by this collection: The hunting scenes, the works of the fields, the noble leisure’s of the 16C, the Royal  parties and, of course, the life of Henri IV. It was only from 1860 that two paintings by Charles-Gustave Housez  and Eugène Giraud on Henri IV were installed in the family lounge, judged too austere.

Pau

Some of the webpages to help you plan your visit to this wonderful castle are

Official Castle webpage : https://en.chateau-pau.fr/

Tourist office of dept 64 on the castle : http://pratique.tourisme64.com/patrimoine-culturel/pau/musee-national-et-domaine-du-chateau-de-pau/PCUAQU064FS0004W.html

Tourist office of Pau Pyrenees: https://www.pau-pyrenees.com/home/notre-patrimoine/une-touche-de-culture/musee-national-du-chateau-de-pau

Nice info in English on the Chateau de Pau: http://www.chateau-pau.com/english/index.htm

There you go another gem of my belle France so many right, yes! And as a base, Pau is great even going into Spain! Remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

Tags: ,
August 18, 2018

My travels in the Morbihan, LXVIII

I am back on my wonderful department 56 Morbihan of Brittany. It has been hotter around 25C or 77F but clouds and sunshine in and out. We in general, have better weather than the rest of France and it shows. We have been invaded by folks from all over France and some European countries like the most, the UK, and Germany but also,Ireland, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Italy as well. It is said , Brittany is the third most visited region of France ,behind Ile de France 1 and PACA 2.

The locals like me knows how to get around this and avoid the expressways or N roads here. However, had a former boss friend from Paris visiting me with his wife last night and coming from the Rhuys peninsula not far from me usually is 40 minutes, took him almost 1h10 due to heavy beach traffic on the N165 expressway or as we call here voie express. Anyway we had nice rosé wines from Corsica and pizzas of different flavors at my house with a bit of whisky, porto, and vodka aperitifs (apéros) before meal drinks. Lots to catch up and we had a pleasant evening. We did get a nice gift from the Camargue , rose wine which is nice. Pluvigner

Then ,today our regular errands day while not traveling. And traveling nowadays is hard as do not have my second half anymore (Martine passed away last April 30th due to cancer) we are content to just be with us , glued together and share moments. I tend to go back to old posts and revive them again for the memories. The public gets the benefits of more information on traveling the world with me.

Amongst the many associations and institution I support in France and Spain especially are those dealing with cancer here. The Ligue contre le Cancer du Morbihan and the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale.  Their webpages to follow

https://www.ligue-cancer.net/cd56/journal

https://www.frm.org/

Now back to the errands of today.

We did some cleaning around the house, and left to have lunch out. We have not been for quite a long time to a chain we have visited before so we decided to go today. This is the steakhouse US style (but smaller steaks) Buffalo Grill at Ploeren just outside of Vannes. The webpage is here; https://restaurant.buffalo-grill.fr/261646-buffalo-grill-vannes-ploeren

Vannes Vannes

Here we had the new menu Tennessee Burger with barbecue sauce and a potato patty that was very good and a good deal. We got it down with a bottle of Côte de Provence rosé from Masfleurie 2017 and had desserts base on ice cream Coupe America. All came in for 23.30€ per person ,which is about average.

VAnnes Vannes VAnnes

From there we walk to the nearby favorite office supply store for printer ink HP at Bureau Vallée. The store webpage is here: https://www.bureau-vallee.fr/nos-magasins/magasin-ploeren-vannes-14/

We continue to do my car wash and gas up/petrol at E Leclerc hypermarket in Vannes, where we ,also,did our groceries as usual. Loading up on all essentials the quick way I am afraid. All in one spot shopping!  Webpage here: http://www.e-leclerc.com/vannes

Vannes

By this time we had it all done and were back at home ready for our late evening TV and meal which nowdays is light and plenty of liquids glory of France! And of course, my FB, my LK, My Blog and my Whatapps…..keeps me busy and entertain nowadays. Thank you for your loyal support.

Tomorrow is a quiet day for us. Probably just a ride out to just say we were out of the house. Monday due some administrative errands and then go on to the Loire for wine tastings!

And remember, life is beautiful but can be short, enjoy it now. Happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

Tags: ,
August 18, 2018

Château de Blois!

Now lets talk castles, but not just any castle. This one has been with the history of France and Europe for hundreds of years and many international events. I have written before on the town and the castle but think a deserves a single post on the Castle alone. So this is it. Bear with me it will be long.

I actually came here searching for Houdini, yes the magician it has a nice presence here and we love it; eating just across from it while glancing at the castle. Of course, we came here several times so eventually we went inside the Royal Castle of Blois. It is a must for any visitor to this region of my belle France.

Blois

My previous blog post on the touristic side of BloisBlois, the Castle and the Magic

The Château Royal de Blois, located in the Department of Loir-et-Cher no 41, Region Centre-Val de la Loire, and part of the Chateaux of the Loire. It was the favorite residence of the kings of France in the Renaissance. Located in the heart of the city of Blois, on the right bank of the Loire river, the Royal Castle of Blois gathers around the same courtyard a panorama of the French architecture of the Middle Ages in the classical period which makes it a key building for the understanding of the evolution of the architecture over the centuries.

Blois

A bit of history I like, well excuse the length but think is important.

During the reign of Charles the Bald, in 854, the site of the Château de Blois, built on the banks of the Loire river , was attacked by the Vikings. The rebuilt fortress is in the heart of the region of which the Counts of Blois, powerful feudal lords in the 10C  and 11C, whose possessions extend to the region of Blois and Chartres, and to the Champagne, are masters. The first fortress, the or Big Tower, was raised by Thibaud le Tricheur ( cheater) in the 10C. Around 1080, a charter shows Thibaud  III rendering Justice in the fortress of Blois, in the courtyard, behind the palace, near the tower, on the floor situated between the fire rooms (heating) of the palace.  In the 13C, the castle was rebuilt by the Burgundian family of Châtillon. The last descendant of the family of Châtillon, Guy II of Blois-Châtillon, sold in 1392 to Louis d’Orléans, brother of king Charles VI, who took possession in 1397, on the death of Guy II. When Louis d’Orléans was assassinated in Paris in 1407 by order of Jean sans peur (John the fearless), Duke of Burgundy, his widow, Valentine Visconti, moved to Blois, where she died the following year, after having engraved on the walls of the castle: “Nothing is more, no more laughs in me “. Her son, Charles, was taken prisoner during the disastrous Battle of Agincourt in 1415.  In 1429, before his departure to lift the siege of Orléans, Joan of Arc was blessed in the chapel of the castle by Renault of Chartres, Archbishop of Reims.

Blois

After 25 years of captivity, Charles d’Orléans returned to Blois and organized a court of scholars around him. He launches a poetry contest where François Villon is illustrated with his ballad of the concours de Blois. He also, undertakes to destroy parts of the old castle in order to make it more habitable. From the fortress of this period remain in the present castle only the great Hall, dated from the 13C, and the cylindrical Tower of Foix. In 1462, Louis, son of Charles d’Orléans, was born in the château of Blois. He became king of France in 1498 under the name of Louis XII. The medieval castle of the Counts of Blois became royal residence and Louis made it his main abode, at the expense of Amboise. Louis XII undertakes with Anne de Bretagne (his wife since 1499) a reconstruction of the castle in what will later be named the Louis XII style by combining the flamboyant Gothic style with elements already belonging to the Renaissance style. Privileged by Louis XII as a winter residence, the Château de Blois became the scene of several diplomatic meetings: marriage of Caesar Borgia in 1499, reception of Archduke Philip of Austria in 1501, marriage of Guillaume IX, Marquis of Montferrat, and of Anne, daughter of Duke René of Alençon, in 1508, betrothal of Marguerite of Angoulême with Duke Charles IV of Alençon in 1509, stays of Machiavelli in 1501 and 1510. Anne of Brittany died at the castle on January 9, 1514. Her funeral is celebrated at the Collegiate Church of Saint-Sauveur, near the castle.

Claude de France, daughter of Louis XII and Anne de Bretagne, married in 1514 her cousin François of Angoulême, great-grandson of Louis d’Orléans. She ascended to the throne in 1515 and Claude de France, with the intention of leaving the castle of Amboise, then refurnished the Château de Blois to install the courtyard. That same year, François I launched the construction of a new Renaissance-style wing and began one of the most important collections of books of the time. But after the death of his wife at the castle, in 1524, the construction stopped; François I left the Château de Blois for the benefit of the Château de Fontainebleau where he sent the impressive library to found the National Library. Always a festive place, Blois received in 1539 the visit of Charles V, and it was in Blois that Pierre de Ronsard met at a ball in April 1545 Cassandra Salviati, who inspired him in the “Loves of Cassandra“. Sacred King of France, the son of Francis I, Henri II, made his solemn entrance in Blois in August 1547, it was in 1556 that Catherine de Medici represented before the king the tragedy Sophonisba, the first play to respect the classic rule of the three units.

The Château de Blois remains the main residence of the successors of Henri II and in particular of Francis II and Charles IX. In particular, François II spent the winter of 1559 with his wife Marie Stuart, who was raised there. In 1572, a treaty with England was signed and in April there were celebrations in the Chapel the betrothal of Henri de Navarre (future Henri IV) and Marguerite of France. It is in Blois that Henri III summons the Estates General which are held in the Great Hall today called the State Hall in 1588-89. In the castle, in his room on the second floor, he had his enemy, the Duke of Guise, killed on 23 December 1588; His brother, the Cardinal of Lorraine, was assassinated the next day. Shortly thereafter, on January 5, 1589, Queen Catherine de Medici came to die there. The castle was occupied by the successor of Henri III, Henri IV, who stayed there in 1589, 1598 and 1599.

On the death of Henry IV in 1610, the castle became the place of exile for his widow Marie de Medici, and was inhabited by Cardinal Richelieu, after a passage of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria in 1616. Relegated to Blois in 1617 by his son Louis XIII, Marie de Medici undertook to build a pavilion in the north-west corner. An inscription leaves the souvenir in the basements of the wing Gaston d’Orléans. After two years of captivity, the Queen Mother escapes from the castle on the night of February 21 to 22, 1619 using the legend of a rope ladder, but more likely taking advantage of the work carried out there, as a result of which she ends up reconciling temporarly with her son. In 1626, Louis XIII allocates the county of Blois to his brother Gaston d’Orléans as a wedding gift. The latter settled there in 1634; Gaston lived there after the Fronde (war), from 1652 to 1653, and died there on February 2, 1660, when the castle was abandoned.

Abandoned by king Louis XIV, the castle was no longer inhabited. Later ,the Ministry of War proposed to install a regiment there. This is how the castle is occupied by the Royal Comtois, a cavalry regiment. At the time of the French revolution, the castle had been abandoned for 130 years and the revolutionaries anxious to remove any vestiges of royalty looted it by emptying it from its, furniture, statues and other accessories. The Collegiale Saint-Sauveur Church located in the front yard is sold to an entrepreneur, who will destroy it entirely. Emperor Napoleon I decided to transfer the castle to the city of Blois in 1810. However, for lack of money, the castle is again used as barracks by the army. In 1834, the south half of the Charles d’Orléans Wing was destroyed to establish military kitchens. The military presence at the castle does not prevent the public opening of the wing François I under the restoration. The castle is thus visited by Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, and Alexandre Dumas.

In 1840, during the reign of Louis-Philippe the restoration continues and by 1846 the restoration of the Royal apartments of the wing Francis I. It combines deep colors (red and blue) with gold restoration continues until 1871. The castle is then transformed into a museum!  It was in 1850 that the mayor of Blois, founded the Museum of Fine Arts of Blois, which he installed in the wing Francis I. A second restoration is undertaken between 1880 and 1913 to restore the Gaston d’Orléans wing. This is how it was built a monumental stone staircase. In 1921, also was created a lapidary museum in the castle’s old kitchens. During WWII, the south façade of the castle (mainly the Louis XII Wing) was damaged by bombing. The stained glass of the chapel is destroyed. The restoration work, begun in 1946, the castle is now the property of the city of Blois. In the years 1990 a new restoration is carried out.

Bear with me, let’s go inside a bit ok. In brief ok!

The Château de Blois, as it can be admired nowadays, is mainly made up of three wings where the Gothic, Renaissance and Classical styles mingle, even if traces remain of the medieval castle. State Hall built by the Count of Blois Thibaut VI in 1214. The Lapidary Museum, adjoining the State Hall, in the ancient cuisines of François I, brings together the 16C and 17C sculptures of the various wings of the castle. The circular tower of  Foix, slightly indented, near the Gaston d’Orléans Wing, is a vestige of the 13C feudal fortifications. The castle is penetrated by the Louis XII Wing, remarkable for its red brick-chained bricks, a common construction in the Franco-Flemish style buildings. The entrance is surmounted by the equestrian statue of Louis XII of 1857.

The wing contains since 1869 the Museum of Fine Arts of the city of Blois. The gallery’s eight rooms feature a selection of paintings and sculptures from the 16C to 19C. The gallery includes a set of French and Flemish tapestries from the 16C and 17C. The chimneys were remade to the emblematic of Louis XII and his wife Anne of Brittany, according to the famous book of Hours of the Queen; destined for the Count of Chambord, they are the work of Louis Delcros. The Tour des Champs (tower of the fields), visible on the courtyard, adjacent to the wing Louis XII, and the gable near the State Hall. Also in flamboyant Gothic style, built in brick and stone, it presents its high slate roof to the skylights decorated with acroteria, surrounded by a finely carved cornice of a frieze of oves. It can be seen in several sculptures including the Louis XII Porcupine in bas-relief. The Chapelle Saint-Calais is located at the end of the Louis XII Wing, in the inner courtyard of the castle. Today there is no such private oratory of the king (built from 1498 and consecrated in 1508 by Antoine Dufour, Bishop of Marseille and confessor of the Queen) as the Gothic choir with vaults in liernes and supporting ribs on the vault.

The Charles d’Orléans Gallery, next to the Saint-Calais Chapel, was once twice as long, but was, like the Chapel, partially destroyed in the 17C. In the Francis I wing, in Renaissance style, architecture and ornamentation are marked by Italian influence. The central element of this wing is the monumental staircase, an octagonal screw-type, of which three sides are recessed in the building itself. The staircase, searched like an ivory of China  according to Balzac, covered with fine Renaissance sculptures, Italianate ornaments  (statues, balusters, candelabras)  and Royal emblems (salamanders, crowns, “F” for Francis I, “C” for Claude de France) , opens between the buttresses by large bays on the courtyard of the castle. Its curved, helically shaped vault, supported by outer rectangular buttresses, makes it a recurring symbol of French architecture in the Renaissance and heralds the innovations of the time on the architecture of the staircases, which became, more than a functional element, a major aesthetic addition.  Accessible from the Queen’s Gallery, is the front of the lodges, built seven meters ahead of the former court-house, characterized by a suite of non-communicating niches. Despite its apparent homogeneity, the François I wing encompasses the State Hall, to the left of the dressing room façade.

Blois

The Royal Apartments located in the François I wing have been restored, the first floor is the floor of the Queen’s apartments. The tile of the Queen’s Gallery is of Terracotta glazed on a 15C model, was restored at the end of the 20C. It is in the form of a network of blue, white and yellow geometric forms. You can see an exhibition of ancient instruments, the gallery is also adorned with busts of kings of France. Queen’s cabinet: On the first floor is the cabinet of Catherine de Medici or studiolo, in which wooden panels conceal four closets with secret mechanism (cabinets that are opened by operating a pedal hidden in a plinth), which gave it the name of the Chamber of Secrets. The Queen’s bedroom, formerly the gallery of the apartments of Francis I, became the Royal Chamber of Catherine de Medici who died there on January 5, 1589. The monogram of Henri II and Catherine de Medici composed of an H and two interlaced C is omnipresent in this room, especially on the chimney. The Queen’s guards ‘ captain’s room, formed by the two-room meeting, is adorned with two chimneys with Renaissance décor, on which are visible the salamander of François I and the ermine of Claude de France. One of them is decorated with golden niches. It is possible to see a bust of Francis I in plaster, done in 1850.

Blois

The oratory, panelled, is inspired by the library of the Constable de Montmorency at the château d’Écouen around 1550. The stained glass windows date back to the 19C. It also contains a triptych belonging to the Queen. The second floor houses the King’s apartments, in which the new cabinet (Henri III’s work office) is located; the Galerie Duban presents drawings, engravings and objects evoking the work of the architect, notably at the Château de Blois. The Guise room houses a collection of paintings presenting the main characters and tragic events related to the wars of religion. Many 19C historical painters were inspired by the assassination of the Duc de Guise, such as the nicest done of “The assassination of the Duke of Guise”, oil on canvas by Paul Delaroche.

Blois

The Council room at the monumental chimney, adorned with a golden salamander, brings together rich furniture made in the 19C in the Renaissance style, reminiscent of the 16C princely luxury; the council Chamber is also adorned with several statues;  also decorated with several paintings. The King’s room is lavishly furnished, its monumental chimney is one of the largest and most imposing of the castle. Painted and gilded with the effigy of Francis I (Salamander and Fleurs de lys) and Claude de France (Hermine), and also decorated with a mixture of Italian-style elements such as putti (small cherubs), garlands of flowers and fruits, rinses, Candelabras and Festoons, and other medieval-style, like dragons. The King’s Gallery presents a beautiful collection of neo-Renaissance earthenware from the 19C and 20C. The King’s Chamber is the one in which the legend wants the Duke of Guise to be dead, throwing himself at the foot of the king’s bed after being struck by eight swordsmen. The Gaston d’Orléans Wing is classic in style. This wing occupies the bottom of the courtyard, facing the Louis XII wing, and replaces the bass fish of the Bretons, the Pavilion of Marie de Medici and the Logis de Charles IV.

Blois

Now here is some additional webpages to help you plan your trip to this monumental castle , and do not forget to walk outside into the park of Diane on the high plateau with a wonderful view of the right side of the Castle.

Offiical Chateau de Blois:  http://en.chateaudeblois.fr/

Tourist office of Blois Chambord: http://www.bloischambord.co.uk/discover/our-castles/chateau-royal-de-blois-en

Loire Valley Castles site: https://www.loirevalley-france.co.uk/loire-valley-chateaux/royal-chateau-blois

Valley of the Loire tourist office: http://www.amboise-valdeloire.co.uk/discover/the-castles-of-the-loire/royal-chateau-of-blois

There you go ,hope it helps and do come ,it is a masterpiece. Enjoy the ride

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

 

Tags: ,
August 18, 2018

The Hameau de Marie Antoinette,Versailles!

Well going again at my blog, surprise ,not written on one of my favorite subjects on it’s history! And this is my beloved Versailles, a city I lived for almost 10 years!! The place was closed by for  my leisure hangouts with the family on our weekend walks. Well ,its time I catch up on my old neighborhood!

Let me tell you a story on the history and the places there, as the touristic part I have in my previous blog posts here:Hameau of Marie Antoinette

Stories of Versailles: the Hameau

Let me get you right into the history I like, stay tune ,it is long,but beautiful!

The Hameau de la Reine ( hamlet of the Queen)  was born from the imagination of Marie-Antoinette. Bored by the Versailles court, she wanted to rebuild a farm by bringing animals and peasants not far from the Palace of Versailles, to teach nature to her children. But this secret garden will finally be destined for walks and sumptuous receptions, to which she invites her loved ones. Of the vine, a farmhouse and its farmyard, cottages, and a mill surround an artificial lake.  If the exterior looks rustic and simple, the interior is glitzy. To reproduce the atmosphere faithfully, some rooms have been refurnished. The royal Prestige is found in the decoration of the Maison de Marie-Antoinette, with its golden lanterns with fine gold which are now electrified.  The hamlet of the Queen is a dependency of the Petit Trianon located in the park of the Castle/Museum  of Versailles this hamlet of pleasure was commissioned during the winter of 1782 – 1783 by Queen Marie Antoinette  with the nostalgia for a more rustic life, in a decor of nature inspired by the writings of Rousseau, a small paradise where the theater and the feast would make her forget her  condition as Queen. This rural place, which was also a farm, marked the influence of the ideas of the physiocrats and philosophers of the Enlightenment of the aristocracy of the time.

The construction was entrusted to the architect Richard  Miqué on the inspiration of the hamlet of Chantilly and the drawings of the painter Hubert Robert. This fashion was a reflection of the Rousseau cult for simple rural life and the reminder of the ancestral virtues.  Launched during the summer of 1783 by the Queen, construction began with rustic houses. King Louis XVI had given, in order to establish the hamlet, a plot located to the northeast of the English garden, between the allée de  Saint-Antoine and the  Allée de Rendez-vous and the Bois des Onze Arpents forest. To the northeast of this small wood was the hamlet of Saint-Antoine-du-Buisson, whose church depended on the parish of Chesnay (nearby town). The main work was completed in 1786 .

Around an artificial pond for carp and pike fishing, Richard Miqué had erected twelve wood-framed cottages, of Norman or Flemish inspiration, in the northern part of the gardens, on the outskirts of the Petit Trianon and in the extension of the English garden.  A farm to produce milk and eggs for the Queen, a tower as a lighthouse, a dovecote, a boudoir, a barn, a mill, a house for the guard were thus built, each building being embellished with a vegetable garden, an orchard or a flower garden. The most important of these houses is the Maison de la Reine (House of the Queen) in the center of the hamlet, which divides a river crossed by a small stone bridge. The beds were planted with Milan sprouts, cauliflowers, artichokes, black beans, peas, strawberry, raspberries, gooseberry, plums, pears, cherry , peaches, apricot and walnut trees. More than a thousand vegetables were planted in the garden. The lake was also populated by twenty-seven Pike and two thousand carps. The Queen had hoped that in the spring of 1787 all the houses would be filled with flowers. During the winter they were busily cultivated in greenhouses specially fitted for the occasion. And by the end of the summer, bunches of grapes were hanging from the pergolas.

It was found that the flow of the basins, and in particular the clover, was insufficient to feed the lake and the streams. It was then necessary to work to bring the water from the plain of Les Chesnay, going up to the stream of Chèvreloup. The work, begun in 1784, was extended until 1789, with some 20 workers working daily to dig wells and aqueducts.  During one of his visits to the hamlet, King Louis XVI decided to create a triumphal arch at the entrance to the estate, at the edge of the Bois des Onze Arpents, at the north end of the Allée de Saint-Antoine; The construction of this new Porte Saint-Antoine (my entry point to the property) ended in June 1787 and was ornated with a lion’s body, emblem of the King. (My entry point to the Domaine for walks with family).  The place is completely enclosed by grates and ditches; It enters from the Trianon either by a covered and sinuous road, which allows  to discover with surprise the smallest houses, either by the edge of the Bois des Onze Arpents  and a meadow with light slopes forming tiny waterfalls, which offers a plunging view on the Main house and the village of Saint-Antoine.

Versailles

Despite its idyllic aspect, the hamlet is a veritable farm perfectly managed by a farmer designated by the Queen, with its vines fields, orchards and vegetable gardens that produce fruits and vegetables consumed by the Royal table. According to the Queen’s instructions, farm-reared animals came from Switzerland whose animal breeds are reputed to be the most authentic, which often gives  the name of the Swiss Hamlet. The Queen invited her guess upon her request only and many were jealous to be left out; some of the regulars were the Count of Vaudreuil, the Baron of Besenval, the Countess of Polignac with her daughter Aglaë de Guiche and her sister-in-law Diane, and the Count of Esterhazy . The Prince of Ligne does not missed an opportunity to visit the hamlet or, at the very least, to keep abreast of the news of the Place .  The Queen appreciates the company of her sister-in-law, Madame Elisabeth, and the Princess of Chimay. Madame Campan, first maid, and Countess of Ossun, Lady of D-Atous, accompany the Queen on all occasions ; the children also benefit from this relative simplicity: even Madame Royale, judged by her mother (Marie Antoinette)  too imbued of her rank, is sent to pick up with the other children of the hamlet the eggs of the hen house, in a nice basket . It is rare that King Louis XVI goes to the hamlet, the freedom of tone is therefore only easier: the meals are lighter and simpler than at Château, and you have fun during only a few steps away, in an empty castle of any courtyard animation, the nobility maintains hatred and jealousies.

The Queen’s house  (Maison de la Reine) is located in the center of the hamlet. Its picturesque appearance is reinforced by the originality of its structure: a double body of non-aligned buildings and simply connected by a walkway covered with a round tower, outside staircases supported by wooden poles and roofs of various inclinations. It is the only one, with the cleansing dairy, to be covered with tiles. Its decoration is simple but elegant, far from the flamboyant luxury of the castle. Composed of two floors, it comprises at the top level an antechamber in the form of a Chinese cabinet, the small living room, also called  Hall of the Nobles, and the large living room with a stretched panel of Swiss-style tapestries embroidered with wool and basketry. Of the six crossings of the room, the Queen can easily control the work of the fields and the activity of the hamlet. In the center of the room is a harpsichord on which Marie-Antoinette loves to play. The access to the floor is either by a large staircase inside, or by the round tower, stopping at half-height and followed by a footbridge and then a volley of ten steps reaching the outer gallery. On the ground floor, the building features a backgammon decorated with a chessboard and a simple white stone-paved dining room with the cut corners making way for small black squares. The chairs, in the backrest lyre in solid mahogany and garnished with green Morocco leather.

Versailles

On the left, another building is connected to the Queen’s House by a gallery of olive-green wood embellished with trellis and hundreds of pots of flowers in earthenware of St. Clement, marked in blue by the Queen’s figure, in a medallion suspended from a ribbon surrounded by Roses, which reminds the Queen of her Habsburg-Lorraine ancestry. An  eighty-foot garden  along the gallery allows you to grow flowers and grow up to the roof of climbing plants. A spiral staircase accessing it by the left is originally wrapped around a poplar present before the building. Upstairs, above the large billiards room, flanked by two wardrobes, is a small apartment, which seems to have been inhabited by the architect of the hamlet Richard Miqué and which includes five rooms including a library. Despite the rustic appearance of the facades, the furnishings and interior design are luxurious.  The Queen’s House and billiards are reopened to the public in May 2018 after five years of restoration!!!

The boudoir was originally dubbed the Little House of the Queen. Its dimensions are modest, 4.60 m by 5.20 m; It’s moreover the smallest construction of the hamlet, of very simple construction in apparent millstone. Marie-Antoinette withdrew alone or with one or two of her relatives, in the square living room which composed most of the place, at the fireside of a white marble fireplace decorated with twigs of ivy. The walls alternate embedded mirrors and drapes of tapestry cloth, which participate in the intimacy of the place. The woodwork was originally of mahogany-colored Holland oak, but they were replaced in the Second Empire. The windows are in Bohemian glass. the roof is covered in reeds. This cottage upholstered with a virgin vine is preceded by a small geometric garden, rather made up of flowerbeds than of cultures and surrounded by thickets. The small stream that runs along the boudoir marks the separation of the cottages for the Queen’s use.

The tower of Marlborough, built with the appearance of a vaguely medieval lighthouse, is originally called Tour de la Fishery (Pêcherie). Of the three floors of the tower, only the hexagonal base is of verge stone, to ensure its strength.  The tower is used to store boat fishing tools  in its basement. A narrow hallway allows you to go from the dairy to this circular room. From the foot of the tower, you climb up and down a wooden oak boat painted in grey, for walks on the Great Lake or fishing for carp or pike. The upper part is painted wood of a decoration imitating the stone and serves to communicate by signals with the castle.  The name Marlborough is a reference to the lullaby Marlborough going to war, written in 1722 but brought to the use of the day in 1782 thanks to Beaumarchais and its resumption to the court by the nanny of the Dauphin, Geneviève Poitrine.  After the revolution, the tower was one of the most damaged buildings.

The wind mill (Moulin) is one of the most picturesque cottages, with a pictorial charm reminiscent of the role of the painter Hubert Robert in the creation of the hamlet. The four facades of the building each have a different appearance and décor, although in harmony. The wheel driven by the brook derived from the Great Lake is only a decoration element and no mechanism or millstone was installed in this factory.  The ground floor room seems to have served a time of exhibition gallery for the first models of the hamlet. At this lounge is attached a small closet, serving as wardrobe. A small hallway provides access to a side entrance door. The square room on the first floor, four meters apart, is a small dining room or room, which is not known if it ever served. It is accessed by an outside complex of  staircase of two flights of stairs. On the front, a half-timbered cabinet is constructed as an outgrowth over the brook and is connected to the first-floor room by a walkway allowing access below.  The interior of the building received a sober but neat decoration. A tile is laid in all the rooms and the two main rooms each have a chimney in marbre. A molded cornice and painted faux mahogany wood panels complete the décor. The mill has a fenced garden in the south of hedges  and a pergola. A wash house is also attached to it, at the edge of the brook.

The réchauffoir (warming room)  is indented, about a dozen meters from the back of the Queen’s house, masked by bushy shrubs. It includes the premises necessary for the service: a large kitchen, a bakery, a lumberjack and a pantry, but also lingerie and silverware. The interior is made up of  stones and is illuminated by three windows. The food can be warmed up from the great common. Originally intended to be only a warming room, it actually cooks dishes intended for dinners given by the Queen in her house or at the mill. A large furnace of twenty-two fires, painted in faux-brick decor, is surrounded by a bread oven and a roasting-pan. A closet is intended to keep the royal dishes, porcelain and silver. A two-meter-high oven keeps the dishes warm. A beech table is placed in the center of the room. Running water is provided in the yard by a tank above the preparation dairy. A small adjacent house is designed to accommodate the workers.

The tradition of planting a dairy (Laitérie) in a Royal property is old . Marie-Antoinette ends up following the trend of her time, but preferring elegance and simplicity, far from any extravagance.  Originally, there are two dairies in the Queen’s Hamlet: the Dairy of preparation, in which creams and cheeses are produced, is located north of the tower. The milk is creamed from the cow and the butter is beaten. A stone table is surrounded by consoles on which are stored tin utensils. Pasteurization is carried out in a small adjoining room. The water, which also feeds the close houses, is stored in a tank cleverly concealed in the attic This building is  from 1783, but with another destination: composed of two rooms and a cabinet, it is originally a bakery,which the furnace is leaning against the west facade. The whole is covered with reed and the interior is tiled from materials recovered from the fishery The Queen comes to taste dairy products in the second dairy, named Dairy of Cleanliness, on tables of veined white marble arranged around  the room and supported by fourteen sculpted consoles. They are served in milk terrines, jugs, cups or butter in porcelain, made in the Queen’s protected manufacture, rue Thiroux in Paris. The floors are also covered with blue and white marble. In order to maintain the freshness of the room, a trickle of water flows into a central channel and four niches have been arranged with vases adorned with carved dolphins. The walls are adorned with a trompe-l’oeil decor. The dairy of cleanliness is, with the House of the Queen, the only thatched cottage to be covered with tiles, because of the fragility of the vault with painted caissons one builds even a small hangar simply equipped with two benches of stone, at the end of a wall pierced by two arches.

The farm (Ferme) of Marie-Antoinette is created, slightly away from the hamlet, to be a real exploitation. The various buildings that comprise it are built from 1784 to 1789, with numerous modifications during the construction: barns, a sheep barn, a pigs, hutches and a hen house.  The farmer designated by the Queen to drive the farm but also the dairy. He arrived from Touraine with his family. Their residence, built in 1787 and composed of three bedrooms, a kitchen and a dining room, is, like all the houses of the hamlet, decorated in the rustic taste. A dairy boy and a cattleman come to assist them in the farm. In 1787, the construction of a new barn in the farm enclosure allowed the first to be transformed into a ballroom. A bridge over the ditch allows access from the rendezvous aisle, thanks to a large awning door. The farm courtyard has a water trough and a well. In the direction of the hamlet rises another portal in masonry and stones , topped by two big balls.

Also close to the lake, the House of the dovecote (maison de colombier)  houses a dovecote, in its attic, and poultry house, on the back. The House of the Guard (Maison de la Garde),  is located on the edge of the estate. The house is in the center of a cultivated enclosure, made up of small plots. During the creation of the hamlet, a barn is built between the preparation dairy and the dovecote, and shows the Queen’s desire to be close to the peasant life.  On the other side of the barn is the two-window bedroom, which is accessed by a staircase of about fifteen steps overlooking a bin garnished with pots of flowers. Above it is a small attic used to preserve the seeds. The whole is covered with a very complex roof, straw, reed or even tiles, alternating the right and nested pans, which gives its charm to the building. The garden of the barn has the peculiarity of being completely enclosed of hedges and gates. It is accessed by three main entrances. A wide right path to the West is covered with a cradle of climbing plants and allows to go to the farm.

Reservoirs at the back of the belvedere flow from thin, cascaded streams in the middle of a low-slope meadow: the Cascatelles, designed by Richard Miqué, to fill the great lake. This one,dug in 1785, forms, in its outlines, small bays and peninsulas. Its largest dimension does not exceed 130 meters. A first river escapes to get lost in the outer ditches. It is equipped with a small stone bridge connecting the Queen’s house to the dovecote, decorated with a cornice in modillions. Another arm flows in front of the mill, in a narrow half-meter deep groove, after feeding the wash-house .

But it is the afternoon of October 5, 1789 , summoned by a messenger of the king while she is in her cellars, she casts a last glance towards her hamlet that she will not see again.   Abandoned after the French Revolution, the hamlet of the Queen was the subject of three major restoration campaigns: One led by Napoleon I from 1810 to 1812 represents the bulk of the present base. The second was achieved through the sponsorship of John Rockefeller Jr. In the  1930’s. Finally, the hamlet was renovated from the years 1990, under the impetus of Pierre-André Lablaude, chief architect of the historical monuments, and it was opened to the public in 2006 within a space named Domaine de Marie-Antoinette. The House of the Queen as above just came to be opened fully renovated in May 2018.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this super wonderful place in my beloved Versailles are

Chateau de Versailles and the Hamlet

Tourist office of Versailles ,and the Hamlet

Now you are all set to visit one of the must to see in Versailles and in France and Europe. Wonderful, magical, and just gorgeous after all the nice restorations.

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

 

 

 

August 17, 2018

Basilica of Our Lady of Miracles, Mayenne!

 

And in my continuing saga to showcase the very best, traditional and off the beaten track of my belle France, I bring you another beauty.

The city of Mayenne is one that I had to passed many times on my way to Paris from my beautiful Morbihan Breton. Eventually, I stop by for a drink or snack in town by the Mayenne river, and finally, came for a visit with the family . It was a nice moment indeed and was impressed by the Basilica , the reason of this post.

I like for reference but my previous blog post on the general family visit to Mayenne here: Mayenne old Pays de la Loire

The Basilique Notre Dames des Miracles or Basilica of Our Lady of Miracles is right by the Mayenne river and a must see in town. We like it even more than the old castle by the same river.

Mayenne

The Basilica of Our Lady of Miracles (Basilique Notre Dame des Miracles) in Mayenne is a composite building of the 12C, 16C and 19C in the city center of Mayenne, on the right bank of the Mayenne river. Mayenne is in department Mayenne no 53 of the region of Pays de la Loire. Easy to come here with a train station connects to Paris and by road the A81 from Rennes or the N12 from Paris are very good and many times taken by yours truly. Some estimated distances from nearby cities are 30 km from Laval, 45 km from Fougères, 65 km from Alençon, 100 km from Rennes and Le Mans, 110 km from Angers, 120 km from Caen, 180 km from Nantes, and 250 km from Paris.

Mayenne

Mayenne

The original Church was built in 1110 to replace a small oratory dedicated to Sainte Anne. It is mentioned for the first time in 1124 in a charter of Juhel I of Mayenne under the name of the Church of St. Mary. At about 1119, the Church was owned by priest of the Diocese of Le Mans, which at the time depended on the Mayenne. It is described as “in the form of a cross, composed only of a nave, chancel and vaults.” The priest partially handed it to Bishop Hildebert of Lavardin who invested in a religious order of the abbey of Marmoutier and before that of the parish of Saint Martin of Mayenne. The other part is ceded to a priest named John. The’ Church is plundered four times by the protestants during the Wars of religion , and during the French Revolution, the priest Louis-René Lefebvre de Cheverus refuses to take an oath (to the Constitution and not to God), just as his nephew, Vicar of the parish, the future Cardinal Jean Lefebvre de Cheverus . The Church became a temple of reason and then is used as a temple and the revolutionary Commission sat there. The cult is restored in 1803. The Church is erected in minor Basilica by an Apostolic Brief of May 15, 1900.

Mayenne

A bit on the architecture and things to see

The forecourt of the Basilica is endowed with a monumental staircase overlooked by a statue of Joan of Arc, which was inaugurated in 1896. The interior of the primitive Church has still preserved the central part of its façade, the pillars and the arcades of the nave and the gravestones of the Merovingian’s. The vaults of the nave and the transept, which are 14 meters high, are from the 15C, while the aisles are additions of the middle of the 17C. The choir, which is 22 meters high, was built between 1864 and 1890. Inspired by the Cathedral of Le Mans, under the nave, the crypt contains four Chapels.

Mayenne

During the bombardment of 8 June 1944, all the stained glass windows of the basilica were shattered as such, three 16C canopies, the prophet Jeremiah, the Prophet Solomon and the Coronation of the Virgin, due to Simon and David de Heemsee, glass painters of Flemish origin, established in Moulay from 1543 to 1567. The stained glass windows due to the master glassmaker Charles Champigneulle fils (1853-1905) from Paris.   The present stained glass windows were designed by Maurice Rocher, a glass master from the town of Evron, and made by the Barillet workshops of Paris. They were laid between 1952 and 1962. In the lower part of the stained glass of Saint Bernard, two famous Cistercian abbeys of the department are represented: Clermont and Fontaine Daniel. You should not leave the interior of the Basilica without detailing the composite architecture (mainly 15C 19C) and some curious elements: the representation of the miraculous statue of Notre Dame and the altar-front turned into a lintel to the arms of the Bazoges family .

Mayenne

The Basilica Church contains a statuette representing Our Lady of Miracles. Dating from the 16C, it was given to sisters of the city around 1630 by an anonymous rider with the message “weep, but hope”. First preserved in the Chapel of the Calvairiennes where donations helped the Religious order, it was preserved by the family Lemesnager during the French revolution and then given to the Church in 1897. It has been the subject of great devotion until the 21C.

Mayenne

Hope you have enjoy the ride. Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this part of inland beautiful France are

A bit of info on the city of Mayenne in French : https://www.mairie-mayenne.fr/53_mayenne_decouvrir-la-ville_un-peu-d-histoire_la-basilique-notre-dame.phtml

Tourist office of the Mayenne in English: http://www.mayenne-tourisme.com/en/Discover/Towns-and-villages-of-character/Mayenne

Region pays de la loire on the Mayenne in French: https://www.enpaysdelaloire.com/sites-de-visite-incontournables/5-curiosites-de-musees-a-decouvrir

It is a nice Basilica amongst the many in my belle France. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

Tags: ,
August 17, 2018

The Atomium and Mini Europe of Brussels!

Well the historical architecturally curious in me and my boys daring choices took me a bit out of Brussels to reach Heysel. The area is full of attractions that can keep you for a day or more alone. We came for the Atomium and other goodies such as the Mini Europe park a while back.

Brussels

Of course, I have written before but need to give you more anyway me think. Here is my previous blog post on the atomium. The Atomium of Brussels

And my previous blog post on the Mini Europe park: Mini Europe Park Brussels

Let me tell you a bit more on each shall we, love it.

The Atomium in Brussels was built on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1958 and to represent the conventional mesh of iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times. It is located in Laeken on the plateau of Heysel where this exhibition took place back then.

Brussels

It is a building halfway between sculpture and architecture that culminates at 102 meters. Its steel construction weighs 2 400 tons.It consists of a steel frame with nine interconnected spheres and originally coated with aluminum. The spheres have a diameter of 18 meters and each weigh about 250 tons. Symbolically, the Atomium embodies the audacity of an era that wanted to confront mankind’s destiny with scientific discoveries. Of the nine spheres, six are made accessible to the public, each with two main floors and a lower floor reserved for the service. The central Tube contains the fastest elevator/lift of the time It allows 22 people to reach the top in 23 seconds. The escalators installed in the oblique tubes are among the longest in Europe. The largest measure is 35 m long.

Brussels

The Atomium, designed to last six months, was not destined to survive the 1958 Universal exhibition, but its popularity and success made it a major part of the Brussels landscape. The Atomium, on the threshold of the 21C, had a tarnished aspect, it was strongly degraded by the work of time, its external sealing became inefficient and the interior elements of decoration and furniture to the tune of the 1950’s very outdated. Only the structure could be kept. In 2001, the renovation project was finally launched thanks to a partnership between the Belgian federal state, the Brussels-Capital region and Brussels-City. The renovation was initiated in March 2004 and ended in February 2006.

Brussels

The original aluminum cover has been replaced by a new, more durable stainless steel, which, on the other hand, is suitable for a symbolic iron monument. Each sphere was originally covered by approximately 720 aluminum triangles. All have been replaced, for each sphere, by 48 large stainless steel triangles. In addition, these new plates are more resistant than the old ones.   Of the six spheres accessible to the public, the basic sphere is reserved for the permanent exhibition devoted to the 1950’s, the Universal Exhibition and the construction of the Atomium. Another one hosts temporary exhibitions, a third with a versatile vocation allows the organisation of various animations, films, concerts, festivals or conferences. In the central sphere, a bar and in the upper sphere, in addition to the Panorama, a restaurant and very nice views indeed. The sixth sphere is the children’s ball, intended for the organization of urban pedagogy workshops, allowing children from six to twelve years to spend the night.

Brussels

The restaurant is super , more here on it: The Atomium Restaurant

There is a celebration for the Atomium 60 years; a temporary extension to the permanent exhibition will be of interest to the people who visited Expo 58, which was held from April 17 to October 19 1958 . Many vintage photographs and videos, mostly unpublished, will be offered at this expo “People of 58”. The ADAM Museum, located a few steps from the Atomium, will house two exhibitions that will also return to the Universal exhibition. More on this event here: 60 years celebrations of the Atomium

To get here you the metro line 6 on the last stop is Heysel or the tramway line 7,either ones put you within a short walk of the Atomium.

Some further webpages to help you plan your trip to the Atomium are

Official Atomium webpage

City of Brussels on the Atomium

Tourist office of Brussels on the Atomium

Brussels

from Atomium, kinepolis, heysel stadium and mini Europe!

The Heysel area has many other nice places that could be a whole day or more and an alternative staying base. Other attractions that require a lot of space including the Mini-Europe theme park, the Kinepolis cinema complex (28 screens and IMAX) and a water park with slides and pools are all in the area. Just down the road is also the Chinese Pavilion and Japanese Tower. We went to the Mini Europe park with the boys

Mini-Europe is a miniature park located in Bruparck at the foot of the Atomium in Brussels. The park presents reproductions of the most famous monuments of the European Union at a scale of 1/25. About 80 cities and 350 monuments are exhibited. The park contains many animations (train, windmills, eruption of Vesuvius, Airbus, self guided trucks, etc). At the end of the course an interactive exhibition “Spirit of Europe” presents the European Union in the form of interactivities and games. The park is built on 24 000 m2. Prince Philippe of Belgium inaugurates the park on June 1, 1989. The most popular monuments are  the Monastery of El Escorial, the Westminster palace , the Nyhavn of Nyhavn, the Grand-Place of Brussels, the Arc de Triomphe of Paris, the Tower of Pisa, the Parthenon and the Brandenburg Gate.

BRussels

BRussels

Brussels

Brussels

Most of the monuments are built by casting. The parts are constructed from various materials and then copied by silicone molding. The final copy is made of epoxy resin (at first) and polyester (currently). The models then are enriched with details such as statues. Three monuments were made of stone (the tower of Pisa and the castle of Chenonceau are made of marble). A new computer-milling technique was used for three models. Then comes the painting on the site of Mini-Europe. Finally, the monument is set up on site with decorations and light. Santiago de Compostela requested more than 24 000 hours of work. Many monuments have been financed by countries or regions of Europe. The gardens have hedges , dwarf trees, bonsai and grafted trees are used near miniature monuments, while classic bushes and flowers decorate the promenade.

Brussels

Brussels

Brussels

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this mini Europe park are

Mini Europe Park

Tourist office of Brussels on the Mini Europe park

And a site that covers the Atomium, Mini Europe ,and Kinepolis cinema is Bruparck: Bruparck official site

There you go a nice one day or two visit to Heysel, Brussels has never been more filling. Enjoy it

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

 

 

Tags: , ,
August 16, 2018

Some news from Bretagne, XXIIII

Way back in my initiation to blogging I did a series of entries showcasing my new region of Brittany or Bretagne or Breizh. This went on for a while in fact reviving this thread is no 24, with the last written on April 27 2017! You can search all of them in my blog by typing some news from Bretagne in the search box on the right hand column of my front page.

For reference, this was my last post on some news from Bretagne: some news from Bretagne

It has been amazing ride and later developed into more detail description of the events and towns here. However, today I go back because I have been in two of the regions of Bretagne , my own Morbihan dept 56,  and neighbor Finistére dept 29. So will do another Some news from Bretagne post.

I started my day after our family continental breakfast with painting! yes we painted a room in our basement (our basement has 130 sq meters or 1400 sq feet) on materials already purchase with my dear late wife Martine. We were thinking of doing two rooms in the basement for guests and we have it all done, just the room partitions is left to do! The boys did a good job and were treated with their favorite young people food, Star kebad and a sparkler mousseux from the Loire Vignobles Marchais that was not too bad for 6 euros lol! This was a great family affairs and I love it! The kebad has very friendly husband and wife team and  has a Facebook page here : Star Kebad Pluvigner

From here we went into our neighbor Finistére in the fortified town of Concarneau that we have visited many times and several blog posts on it. This time we were there for something special. FIFA Under 20 Women World Cup is been held in several cities in Brittany and today the quarter finals was SPAIN vs Nigeria!!! The game was played at Stade Guy Piriou with heavy security. We are so closed we could not miss cheering the girls so Spain won 2×1 and has a historical semifinal appearance which turn out will be against France yikes !!!! France beat North Korea 1X0 on a penalty kick. I will be neutral ::)

Concarneau

Concarneau

Concarneau

Concarneau

Concarneau

The game was pretty good, fast and lots of chances, Spain was dominating the first half ,winning 2X0 ,  a bit less the second half when Nigeria came back. They are very happy to be able to reach the semi finals for the first time. We had a blast there. Ah parking was funny, we saw it full around the small stadium and some VIP spaces so we ask a cop and told us go across to the E Leclerc hypermarket , so we did for free and an underground passageway to go from the hypermarket to the stadium to boot! Great!

Concarneau

As we were still about an hour from home decided to come back and celebrate the win closer to us in one of favorite bar and many times mentioned in my blog, the V&B of Auray. This is a nice concept of bar and liquor store where the closing time is 20h (8pm). The folks at the Auray store are very nice and have come to know them. The store is on a crossroads to the beaches south such as Carnac and Quiberon ,and just off the road N165 voie express or freeway here.

Auray

Auray

Auray

Here we had our usual German beers with my favorite Krombacher and wild pig and pepper sausages cut in thin slices.

Auray

After this indulgent we came home to relax and wait for a Paris friend visiting us by tomorrow.

Enjoy your day wherever you are, life is beautiful but short. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: