Archive for ‘France’

May 2, 2021

Goya museum of Castres!!!

And again looking at revising updating older posts found some surprises again. I am sure there will be more as my vault of travels is huge…. I have mentioned this beauty in previous posts but feels it deserve a brand new post of its own. This is the Goya museum of Castres!!! Hope you enjoy it as I.  

For orientation, Castres is a town in the Tarn department 81 in the region of Occitanie. My nostalgic part of my belle France. It is  42 km from Albi ,15 km of Mazamet, and 72 km from Toulouse. The town is cross by the Agout river a tributary of the Tarn river that joins here with the Durenque and the Thorate rivers.

The Goya museum is located in a former episcopal palace of classical 17C architecture whose plans were drawn by Jules-Hardouin Mansart, one of the architects of Versailles. The Goya museum is a museum of Hispanic art unique in France, presenting the creation in Spain from Antiquity to the 20C. The Goya museum has the second biggest collection of Hispanic art in France after that of the Louvre.

castres hotel de ville and musee goya jul10

A bit of history I like

In 1894 when Pierre Briguiboul, son of a painter and collector from Castres, bequeaths the private collection of his father Marcel to the city of Castres, he donated in particular three works by Goya, “Self-portrait with glasses”, “Portrait of Francisco del Mazo ”and“ the Philippine junta ”. At the same time entered the museum in the company of seventy-two objects including sixteen paintings, furniture, weapons. and tapestries. This bequest is at the origin of the Hispanic vocation of the museum. From Goya, the museum also preserves all four engraved series: Caprices, Bullfighting, Proverbs and the Disasters of War, regularly presented in temporary exhibitions. In 1947, in agreement with the authorities of the State and the City, the museum of Castres then took the name of “Goya Museum” and oriented its collections around Hispanic art.

 In 1949, prestigious deposits from the Louvre confirm the Hispanic orientation of this museum.  Since then, the acquisition policy pursued by the City of Castres and the museum has made it possible to regularly enrich this remarkable collection. The purchase of the Gaudí series by Joan Miró fulfills the desire to strengthen the estate linked to the 20C. The Goya Museum also keeps in its collections, the four engraved series of Goya. However, these are only presented to the public on an ad hoc basis during temporary exhibitions for conservation reasons.  Other artists are also present, such as Juan Rexach, Velasquez, Murillo, Ribera, Valdés Leal, Alonso Cano, Pacheco, Zurbaran, and Picasso. Among these deposits, we find two essential paintings: the Portrait of Philip IV by Velázquez and the Virgin with the Rosary by Murillo. The galerie du Siècle d’Or or golden age gallery dedicated to 17C works was opened to the public in 1956. More recently, following on from salle Goya or Goya room, a 19-20C room has been fitted out, bringing together major artists of this period. that some historians have called the Silver Age such as: Anglada-Camarasa, Rusiñol, Sorolla… and Picasso.

The building on which museum is located began its construction in 1665 under the direction of Jules Hardouin Mansart , intendant of the buildings of King Louis XIV and architect of Versailles, it ended in 1673. In 1676, the building was decorated with French garden designed by André Le Nôtre, architect of the royal gardens under Louis XIV. Requisitioned as national property following the French revolution, the building was acquired by the town in 1794. It initially housed the Sub-prefecture then the City/Town Hall and in 1840, the first floor accommodated at its creation, the Castres museum, then the library and archives.

Castres hotel de ville and musee Goya ent jul10

There is a large-scale project that began the summer of 2020 at the Goya Museum. Expansion of exhibition halls, redevelopment of spaces, improvement of accessibility etc. This in-depth modernization will breathe new life into the museum and renovated it from top to bottom and for 18 months, this cultural establishment steeped in history. Due to the pandemic the renovations are ongoings and its expected to reopen in July 2022.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit here and its worth the detour are:

The City of Castres on the Goya Museum:

The Castres-Mazamet Tourist office on the Goya museum:

The Tarn dept 81 tourists office on Castres:

The museums of the Occitanie region on the Goya Museum of Castres :

And there you go folks, a wonderful historical museum in a wonderful historical architecturally nice building in central Castres. You won’t have to go to Spain to see Goya at his best, just come to the Goya Museum of Castres! And my nostalgic Tarn dept 81 of my belle France.

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

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May 2, 2021

The ecomuseum of Burgundy Bresse !!

Well well, one thing looking at this older posts is well a thrill! However, one great thing out of it is that I find sights to tell that have overlooked over the years. This was a wonderful trip with the whole family! many years back, the pictures are personal but all that is left. I like to relive and tell tell about the ecomuseum of Burgundy Bresse in the Château de Bresse! Hope you enjoy it as I.

Let me bring you in into this east of France beauty slowly… The town of Pierre-de-Bresse is located in the department 71 of Saône-et-Loire in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region. By the road is halfway between Chalon-sur-Saône (40 km) from where we came in sort of , and Dole (40 km).  The village would take its name from a megalithic monument similar to the stone of Couhard (near Autun). Pierre was on the border of Bresse then Burgundy after 1477. The village was burnt down in 1638 by Spanish troops under the orders of Baron de Watteville. The fortified château de Pierre was defended by Captain de Chanteret for the crown of France. Other interesting thing here are the Saint-Marcel Church, and the Château de Terrans  that is in the former village of Terrans, merged with Pierre-de-Bresse in 1973. The castle is a private property, cannot be visited, but worth seeing from outside.

The way to get there on public transports for information as never taken them are:  The Dijon – Bourg-en-Bresse line serves Seurre Station (21) located 18 km from Pierre de Bresse webpage:

Also, Bus Line 716 of the MobiGo network connects Pierre de Bresse to Chalon sur Saône. Webpage pdf file:

The property of this post is the Château de Pierre de Bresse. A bit on its construction includes two very distinct parts: on the one hand the outbuildings, and on the other hand the manor house. Each of these parts is surrounded by ditches filled with water. The outbuildings are accessed by a stone bridge connecting the park to them, and to the house by another stone bridge ensuring communication between the two. The outbuildings are formed, on either side of a large rectangular courtyard, of two oblong buildings, each preceded by a small pavilion. There is a nice park with grand tree lined entrance!

The castle is built in brick,and a rectangular shape, made up of three U-shaped bodies topped with a broken slate roof and surrounded by towers. The two wings in return of square have the same external elevation as the main building. Finally, if the twelve windows on the second floor correspond exactly to the twelve windows on the ground floor, the roof dormers are only six in number and their wider intervals help to lighten the two facades. A sundial is placed at the north wing. The castle is also characterized by the presence of four towers at the corners of the stately home. The better tower has four gun outlets, two downstairs, two on the first floor, the other towers none, the  remaining two towers, are on the ground floor. Likewise, only the two towers are crowned with machicolations. They are all four covered with bulbous domes surmounted by a campanile.   The castle is the property of the department of Saône-et-Loire.

The ecomuseum of Burgundy Bresse is an ecomuseum of the history of Burgundy Bresse, founded in 1981 at the Château de Pierre de Bresse. In 1956, the castle was bought by the general council of Saône-et-Loire. It was restored and founded this eco-museum there in 1981.  The museum exhibits the history of Burgundian Bresse (one of the three parts of Bresse with Jura Bresse and Pays Dolois and Savoyard Bresse), with its natural environment, its heritage, its history, its habitat and its architecture, its farms bressane, furniture, old trades (mulching of chairs, breeding of Bresse chickens, tile making, pottery, clog makers , popular arts and traditions (costumes, pottery, music), the life of the Thiard family in Château de Pierre de Bresse as well as temporary exhibitions of local art, shop, sale of local specialties and tea room etc.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The official ecomuseum of Burgundy Bresse

The region tourist office of Burgundy Bresse on the ecomuseum

The town of Pierre de Bresse on ecomuseum

Pierre de Bresse

Now last but not least , you might be wandering what was the family wonderful trip of above… Well the oldest brother of the Nord and my dear late wife Martine figure it out that since we were vacationing together in Buxy in the Côte Chalonnaise of Burgundy in a house take some side trips away from wines lol! So the bro decided to take us here and we were following in our car. Well the trip was about an hour but I was getting a bit upset seeing just cows and mountains on the N73 road and then the D73 road until we got to the town of Pierre de Bresse and I say geepy now a pint! Well he ahead of me turn left and voilà this wonderfu gorgeous castle that in order to save it the regional council has turn it into an ecomuseum. A very nice experience, we like it and stay as a memorable family trip. Do not know why left it out ,maybe because all I had were a couple of personal pictures from it!

Pierre de Bresse

Hope you like the story and do come over the Château de Pierre de Bresse and its ecomuseum are wonderful. One more reason to love my belle France!

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

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May 2, 2021

Encore Sainte Anne d’Auray!!!

And yes encore Sainte Anne d’Auray, again and again; I passed by it almost every day and have several posts in my blog on it or its surrounding monuments. This is awesome regardless of your beliefs and the town of Sainte Anne d’ Auray is totally devoted to the wonderful Basilica.

Needless, to repeat the many text on its description and history so I will be brief and add new pictures taken yesterday morning on our Labor Day 1st May road warrior trip. Hope you enjoy it; I think the pictures came out better than ever ::)

Ste Anne d Auray Bas Ste Anne altar left side may21

Taken some parts of previous texts on older posts let me tell you that I have written on this religious town often as it is just 20 minutes from my house I am talking about Sainte Anne d’Auray and the Basilica of Sainte Anne; the patron Saint of Brittany. According to the Bible, the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus Christ!

Ste Anne d Auray Bas Ste Anne fountain ste anne may21

I would not go into more details as I have written on the story and history of this high religious stop in the Morbihan Breton on several occasions. Suffixes to say it is a wonderful complex of the Basilica of Sainte Anne, to the statues of her all over the park, to the area where Pope John Paul II visited in 1996.

Ste Anne d Auray Bas Ste Anne altar may21

Ste Anne d Auray Bas Ste Anne chapel Ste Marie may21

You see the baptismal fountain or fontaine, the place of the first prayer and statue of Sainte Anne right coming straight to the Basilica  By choosing the fountain as a place of its first appearance, St. Anne reminds us of the importance of source water, but above the water of baptism: as water is essential to our lives, baptism is essential to grow in faith. The water of baptism makes us children of God and St. Anne, by appearing at the fountain, invites us to return to our baptismal promises.

The Basilica dedicated to Saint Anne is the heart of the sanctuary. It replaced, in the late 19C, in 1872, the first chapel built by Yves Nicolazic chapel became too small to accommodate the crowd of pilgrims.  It was built in the same field of Bocenno which was found the original statue of Ste. Anne by Yves Nicolazic.  Neo-Gothic combines the grace of the Renaissance, model houses the tombs of Yves Nicolazic , the man who saw Ste. Anne and Pierre de Keriolet the penitent.

Ste Anne d Auray Bas Ste Anne chapel back right may21

You will see a Chapel dedicated to Sainte Anne (St Anne) and another one to Sainte Marie (St Mary).

Ste Anne d Auray Bas Ste Anne chapel ste anne et mary may21

Again, some webpages to help you plan your trip here ,and a must if want to get into the Breton/French psyche with its huge history and beautiful architecture. Of course, try not to come on July 24-26 if you don’t want to see yourselves in half a million to a million pilgrims from all over the world.

The official Sanctuary of Sainte Anne:

The long webpage of the Morbihan dept 56 tourist board on the Sanctuary of Ste Anne

The Bay of Quiberon local tourist office on Sainte Anne d’Auray:

Hope you enjoy the short post and do read my many others on Sainte Anne d’Auray and its wonderful monuments. A small town but packs a lot of power….The history is nice and the architecture is beautiful, a must to see in my Morbihan breton.

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

May 1, 2021

Thabor park of Rennes!

This is it, the best park of Rennes in my opinion. I have been here  and love it. This is again an older post update that have allowed me to come back to these beautiful spots in my lovely Bretagne and my belle France. The Thabor park of Rennes is nice indeed. Hope you enjoy the post and thanks again for reading me over these wonderful years of blogging!

Ok so now lets get ecological nature lover in me and tell you about a wonderful park right in the middle of a large city. This is Rennes, dept 35 of Ille et Vilaine in the region of Bretagne ! Having taking on monuments and museums, let me tell you about a nature lovers paradise.  I have several posts on Rennes but would like to tell you about the wonderful Thabor park or Parc du Thabor of Rennes!


Parc du Thabor park, is close to the city center, a public park with more than ten hectares, the characteristic of which is to mix a French garden, an English garden and an important botanical garden. Since its private origin, vegetable garden and pleasure of the monks of Saint-Melaine Abbey long outside the walls of the city, the park has become, by successive developments and enlargements, one of the emblematic places of the city and of the most popular.

Thabor Park is in the district of Thabor-Saint-Helier-Alphonse Guérin. It is framed by rue Martenot and Rue de Paris to the south, the boulevard de la Duchess Anne to the east and the Rue de la Palestine to the north. The west of the park is clearly tightened between Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melaine in the north and middle school Anne de Bretagne in the south; You can access it by the place Saint-Melaine, the entrance closest to the center of the city. Access to the park is made by six open entrances on the above mentioned streets. It is served by lines C3 and 44, Thabor stop; The nearest metro station is Sainte-Anne. The park is open all year round. Just to say I always come here by car as on trains is only a transfer station for me.

A bit of history and description I like

Originally, the park was only a hill culminating at 56 meters above sea level, i.e. it dominated a large part of Rennes, the altitude of which ranges from 20 to 74 meters. The first mentions of the Thabor date from 1610. The lands of Thabor have long been a dependency of the abbey of Saint-Melaine, where they were mainly used as an orchard. In the 17C, Benedictine monks opened their gardens, but they were reserved for men only. The Thabor was accessed by a passage that communicated between the abbey’s interior cloister and its vegetable garden, and then through a door that was set in the wake of the Great Fire of 1720, the Thabor became the seat of the bishopric. The Palace of the bishopric was built there and part of the gardens became those of the bishopric.

In the French revolution, all ecclesiastical domains are attached to the State. On May 10, 1793, Rennes became the owner of these lands following an exchange with the State. A public promenade was opened on the rest of the bishopric and Benedictine lands; the Court of the bishopric is the main entrance. In 1826, the demolition of the Church of Saint John, located next to Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melaine, abandoned since the French revolution, opened the current entrance to Saint-Melaine.

Besides the French gardens expressly requested by the mayor, Denis Bühler proposed to create the first landscaped garden of Rennes and to move the garden of plants, then to the west of the Orangerie, to the east of the park. The greenhouses, the aviary, the grates, the Orangerie and the bandstand are made on the plans of the local architect Jean-Baptiste Martenot. The last expansions took place at the end of the 19C with the transfer of the Office of the Catherinettes in 1891, then the acquisition of the parcel Perrigault. During the 20C, some minor developments were carried out, such as the addition of wrought iron gratings at the entrance to Rue de Paris, in 1912 and Avenue de Grignan in 1926, but also the creation of a menagerie in 1930 following the success of the park of Maurepas created essentially as a playground and relaxation in 1936, the Thabor park, also receives this type of equipment. The Duchess Anne’s greenhouses were demolished at the beginning of 2005 to liberate the settlement area of the social housing, as well as a neighborhood library and a new entrance towards the square Lucien Rose.

A bit of a description of Thabor park!

The 10 ha of the Thabor public garden consists of two walks-the square of the Guesclin and the L’Enfer (hell) to the west-of the French garden in front of the Orangerie in the north, a large landscaped garden in the center and the south, and finally a botanical garden and a rosary to the east. The Guesclin square was laid out in bowling lawn in 1825, it is a trapezoidal lawn with a promenade lined with chestnut trees. On the small side, a stone arch highlighting a column of July allows to overlook the bowling, of this observatory, the impression that the Guesclin square is of parallelepiped form.. The demolition of the Church of Saint John allowed to create an entrance leading directly to the Guesclin square in 1826 overlooking the Place Saint Melaine, ancient forecourt of the abbey, the entrance is marked by a monumental portal, bearing the arms of Rennes. A small wall was spread on either side of the pillars, punctuated by six low-protrusion pilasters adorned with cast iron vases. The construction of the new grid, is a miniature version of that of Parc Monceau, Paris began in 1873 and ended only 3 years later.

The terraces, along Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melaine, are lined with mosaics of flowers. From 1950, these mosaics were thematic and could represent comic characters (Asterix, Smurfs…) or the Fables of Fontaine. This demanded substantial financial support for the city of Rennes, and since 1975, the flower beds have been a simpler motif. During the early 20C, L’Enfer (hell) was a holiday place with the installation of a green theater. In front of L’Enfer, a very treed square houses a children’s carousel. An overhanging promenade is located on the edge of the Espachien. It includes a foosball table, a stones table and two sculptures made between 1889 and 1895 by the students of the Beaux-Arts of Rennes who face on the east side of the promenade.  Between L’Enfer and the French gardens, a bar-restaurant is located along the Rue de la Palestine. The Thabor’s snack bar becomes the La Terrace du Thabor Restaurant. webpage:


The French gardens were designed by Denis Bühler at the explicit request of the mayor of the city. This is the only French garden created by this landscaper, and the only 19C park to own a French garden. The French garden respects the precepts of Le Nôtre: we find gendarme hats, embroidery beds and basins. In addition to the Floral Park, the French garden also stands out by its decoration and its development by factories, statues and by the urban furniture. The bandstand, strategically placed in the alignment of the massif of the French garden, on its eastern part, is built by Martenot in 1875. He took trips before designing the kiosk, including advice on acoustics, and was very much inspired by the Bois de Boulogne kiosk. The statues were added at the end of the 19C. In 1807, the Orangerie and two greenhouses were built, but the latter were replaced almost sixty years later (in 1862 and 1863) by the greenhouses designed by Martenot. The glass and steel greenhouses are largely inspired by the greenhouses of the Bordeaux Botanical Garden. Three cut-out pavilions called palmerium, surmounted by a balcony and a dome crowned with a lantern are connected by small galleries.


The greenhouses of Martenot are affected by the bombardment of WWII; more classic integrated into the buildings of the Orangerie were built after the war. The Orangerie consists of two buildings that frame the greenhouses in the east and west. The Orangerie, pierced by windows on all sides except in the north, is decorated with bas-reliefs and inscriptions commemorating the great names of botany and horticulture: The pediment is adorned with names of botanists such as Linné and De Jussieu are represented on the western part and the Quintinie and Le Nôtre on the eastern part. Today, the 85 m2 of the west Orangery serves as a showroom.


The Botanical Garden which was located west of the Orangerie and moved to the east of the park. The botanical Garden is organized circularly in eleven flowerbeds where more than 3 000 species grow to understand this organization, the visitor should browse the botanical garden starting from the acotylédones (mushrooms, mosses and ferns) , then going up to the center of the circle by turning clockwise until the flowering. So the plants become more and more imposing, and we pass herbs to shrubs. Between the Rosary, the botanical gardens and the French garden, a space of 300 m2 is isolated from the public by means of grills. It is the site of   experimentation of the Ecorurb research program, the objective of which is to understand the effects of urbanization on biodiversity. The grid plot must primarily be used to understand the process of recolonization of plants on pristine terrain with or without seed input. For this, the land was sterilized and then isolated from the rest of the park.


The Rosary garden is rich in many varieties of rose stem, half-stalk, climbing or bush. A large part of the climbing roses are presented on the north wall separating the garden from the Rue de la Palestine, but also on arbours and pergolas. In the square of the novelties, an exhibition of roses that has been created during the previous ten years is located around the statue La Pensée( thought), a copy of the Louvre or Versailles. The side of the wall bordering the Rue de la Palestine is a place of observation where the adaptation of the roses created less than five years ago to the climatic and soil conditions is tested for two to three years by the National Society of Horticulture of France in order to compete in the Grand Prix de la Rose SNHF. A square of the old Roses inaugurated in 1990 to the south of the botanical garden allows to discover the first varieties of tea roses and their hybrids of the Japanese steps allowing to access the young Savoyard mourning his groundhog, but also to enter the heart of the ancient Rosary. To the northeast of the Botanical Garden is an exhibition of dahlias.

The landscaped garden is summarily divided into two areas: first of all the garden imagined by Denis Bühler, offering larger spaces grassy and creating openings allowing the creation of picturesque landscapes. However, the landscape garden remains the place of the idealization of nature. The landscaped garden is home to many species of trees, including redwoods that are in some way the signature of the Bühler brothers. The most elaborate part of the landscape park is the mosaiculture representing the coat of arms of Rennes surrounded by two ermines. This is the only part of the park enclosure that is wide open outside, thanks to a long grid, so that passersby and motorists browsing the Rue de Paris can enjoy it. The monumental fountain of 1829 for the development of the Square de la Motte is dismantled and installed at the entrance of Rue de Paris in 1901. The waterfall is lined with rocks from the forest of Saint-Aubin, although during the construction of the Catherinettes, picturesque-shaped rocks were made using cement. The waterfall is a miniature copy of that of the Bois de Boulogne.


The menagerie was arranged in 1930 to the southeast of the Catherinettes. It originally housed deer, sheep and some birds such as ducks and guinea geese, but several complaints from the vicinity, vandalism and also inadequate food for the species present led to the transformation of the Menagerie in simple duck pens in 1978. In 1968, the children’s playground is located in the southeast of the landscape park. It currently contains several slides and swings highlighted by large circular stone surrounds. A lawn adjacent to the playground is allowed to the public. Many captive birds are found at the Thabor park. Many species of surface duck and parakeets are exposed to the public in the duck enclosure and aviary. Wooden panels representing each bird installed in the vicinity of these facilities make it possible to inform the public of the different species presented. The park allows to observe several wild birds, passers and raptors mainly (Owl Tawny, European hawk). The red squirrel is also present.


The Thabor park consists of 52 000 m2 of turf, 5 800 m2 of shrubs and 700 trees of which 200 conifers. The park, and in particular the landscaped park, is embellished with many species of trees: redwoods, Lebanese cedar, tricolor beech, Tulip tree of Virginia, Cork Oak, magnolias, silver bell trees, pyramidal oak, Algerian fir, Colorado blue fir, Etc. The Thabor Park represents 59 000 annual plants, 54 000 biennial plants, 18 500 plants bulbous, 500 chrysanthemum, 1 000 dahlias of 78 different varieties and 2 100 roses of 980 different varieties. The Botanical Garden Houses 3 120 different plants, of which 800 are planted each year; The most represented family is that of daisies. It is also a place of exhibition, especially thanks to the orangery where different artists were exposed.

Ok so I believe you get the picture , this is a big Thabor park and a wonderful place to do your walks and or relax after a long day of sightseeing in Rennes, in dept 35 Ïlle et Vilaine,  capital of the region of Bretagne!

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The Rennes tourist office on Thabor park

The Rennes metro area on the 150 anniversary (2018) of Thabor park

The Bretagne 35 Ïle et Vilaine on Thabor Park

Enjoy Thabor park ,its wonderful with the whole family, we even go there while walking around the city, lately to eat out. Its an off the beaten path site that needs to be visited more. Beautiful Rennes!

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

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May 1, 2021

The Château de Vitré!!

a wonderful castle in my lovely Bretagne just at the entrance of it. In our road warrior trips we have been to Vitré and have several posts on it in my blog. This time will just love to update for you and me the entry of The Château de Vitré!! Hope you enjoy it as I.

I like to come back to my region of Bretagne. Again, written general posts on the city of Vitré and its wonders, but feel once again a single post on the castle is merited and worth the visit by all those passing by. In our quest to take advantage of living here and with so much history and architecture around we took it upon ourselves to see as much as possible of my new region and it has been a blast! Let me tell you a bit more on the Castle of Vitré!


The Vitré castle is a powerful castle located at the western end of the fortified town of Vitré, in Ille-et-Vilaine,dept 35 of Bretagne and on the marches of Bretagne. The Vitré castle occupies the end of a schist spur overlooking the north of the Valley of the Vilaine and to the south a swampy brook, disappeared in the 18C to make way for the royal road from Paris to Rennes. The renovation of the castle c. 1420,  had another purpose, the affirmation of the lords’s power, shaken by the arrival of the English in Maine ,because the castle then was the refuge of the counts of Laval, especially when the English took Laval in 1427.


A bit of history I like

Around the year 1000, a first wooden castle mentioned between 1066 and 1076 was built on a clod castrale by Baron Riwallon of Vitré at the present site of the Church of St. Croix. This castle whose shape is unknown was burned on many occasions. It was abandoned for the benefit of a new stone castle built by Baron Robert I of Vitré at the end of the 11C on a new defensive site, a vast rocky headland of schist that dominates about thirty meters above the Vilaine river. This castle still has a Romanesque-style porch. The reconstruction of the castle in its current, triangular form and the fortification of the city in the first half of the 13C was traditionally attributed to Baron Andre III.

The Parliament of Brittany took refuge on three occasions (1564, 1582 and 1583) during the plague epidemics in Rennes. With the families of the Rieux and Coligny, owners of the castle between 1547 and 1605, Vitré houses the Protestant cult and became for a few years a Huguenot bastion. One of the major elements of the French revolution in Vitré was the accidental fire that destroyed the Seigneurial house in 1795. At the beginning of the 19C, a departmental prison was built in the place of the Seigneurial house and occupied the entire northern part, including the Madeleine tower. The prison became garrisoned upon the arrival of the 70th Infantry Regiment from 1867 to 1877. The castle was bought by the State in the 19C. Today, the Vitré City/town Hall is installed inside the castle enclosure, in a building rebuilt in 1912 according to the plans of the medieval Logis.

A bit on the architecture details I like

The entrance facade to the east is preceded by a large esplanade called Place du Château (castle square). The entrance Châtelet dating from the 15C is composed of two towers in pepper-pots ,the north tower in rubble and south tower paired, topped by a gallery of machicolations Breton Sandstone and a double fortified floor.


The tower of the Oratory, also called the Chapel Tower, takes its name from the Renaissance apsidiole which adorns its facade the coat of arms of the Comte de Laval surrounded by the collar of the Order of St. Michael appear intertwined with those of his wives, Charlotte of Aragon, Anne de Montmorency and Antoinette de Daillon. Around the inner courtyard are distributed the seigneurial buildings, which became those of the City/Town Hall. The tower of the Oratory exhibits a triptych altarpiece consisting of 32 enamel plates of Limoges tracing the life of Christ and the Virgin.



The St. Lawrence Tower was the home of the governor. The four floors of this imposing tower are such that it acts as a dungeon. Built in the 15C on the site of a 13C tower, it collapsed in 1835 and was rebuilt around 1870.  The museum presents a collection of paintings depicting the history of Vitré and the evolution of French religious goldsmith from the 17C to the 20C. The Saint-Laurent tower houses, among others, sculptures from the 15-16C from Vitré’s houses, a Renaissance fireplace dating back to 1583, tapestries from Flanders from the 16C and Aubusson from the 17C, and the tomb of Guy X of Laval.


There, and now some webpages to help you plan your trip here which I say is a must to see in Vitré and Bretagne!

The official Castle of Vitré:

The city of Vitré on its heritage

The Vitré tourist office on the castle

Now you are all set to visit this enchanting castle right in city center Vitré on the frontiers of my lovely Bretagne, and worth the detour. It was a very nice visit by us there, and sure worth a return.

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

May 1, 2021

Castle museum of the Navy, Brest!!

And here I go to the extreme northwest of my lovely Bretagne and the great seamen city of Brest. Of course, many posts on it but this one would like to update for you and me. I love castles and when they house a naval museum even more, and this is the case of this post, the castle museum of the Navy in Brest! Hope you enjoy it as I.


In maritime Brest, let me bring you into something more historical , older, and with great architecture. Just what I like to see. I have come to Brest several times with the family, and we have stop here each time with each trip more in depth visits. The diversity of things to see here allows for the opportunity to come back again and again to see these jewels of my lovely Bretagne and belle France. One of the sights that rigtht away comes to your eyes upon entering the city is the Castle , a wonderfully preserved one indeed. However, the best of it is what is inside! A naval museum of France! It is a must to see indeed and good for the whole family!


Within the recently renovated Brest Castle, rich in 17 centuries of history, the National Museum of the Navy, traces the history of the arsenal and large sea fleets from Primauguet and Richelieu until today, and confirms the close ties between the city of Brest and this maritime history. By browsing the different rooms of the castle, the historic heart of the city, and one of the few vestiges of its past, you will enjoy a superb collection of models of ships, paintings, sculptures, the pocket submarine, the evocation of the old Brest, The memories of the prison… all in connection with the great naval adventure. Alone or in the company of a speaker, discover this exceptional site that offers a superb panorama of the harbor, the Penfeld and the city.


Heir to the historical halls of the arsenals, the great collections of Paris, Versailles and the practical Works Hall of the School of Engineering Builders, the National Museum of the Navy is both museum of art and history, science and technical, human adventures and popular traditions, a center of maritime culture open to the widest public. It is intended to be the showcase and the Heritage Conservatory of all Marines. With the Museum of the St. Petersburg (Russia), it shares the privilege of being one of the two oldest maritime museums in the world by the importance and diversity of its collections.  Around its permanent collections, large models of arsenals, paintings including the series of the ports of Vernet, of objects witnessing maritime activities, and by its temporary exhibitions, the National Museum of the Navy sensitizes the public to the maritime fact. It offers to the visitor not only a permanent collection but also temporary exhibitions as well as numerous animations, workshops and visits with family or for the younger ones.



Some webpages to help you plan your trip here ,and you must, are:

The official marine museum of Brest

The Brest tourist office on the marine museum

There is a great parking area just in front of the castle ,where we always parked and from there is easy walking all over the city center. A wonderful time well spent with the family and highly recommended as one of the best maritime museums in the world! Enjoy it

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

May 1, 2021

Grand Thêatre de Saumur!

And how about showing you a theater outside of Paris, oh yes we have plenty of them all over small medium and large towns. This is a wonderful update older post on nice historical Saumur. Let me tell you a bit more of the Grand Thêatre!

So lets get back in the Loire, and show you the city of Saumur and its wonderful monuments including Cathedrals, Churches, and a Castle ,not to forget good wines! However, there are so much to see here, and one of my favorite for it’s impressive look by the Loire river was the GrandTheater.  Not just any theater but a Grand Théâtre right along the quays of the Loire river. One of the things I wrote briefly before, but really needs a visit especially for its dome or even a show…. It is located at the confluence of the shopping squares of Place de la République and Place de La Bilange, at the edge of the Loire river, the Grand Théâtre of Saumur has always wanted since the 18C, the symbol of the modern city. And it is impressive indeed.


A bit of history I like

The town of Saumur took advantage of the arrival of the Cavalry brigades in 1763 to begin its modernization.  In the context of the extensive urban redevelopment plan, the creation of the new theater began in 1785. In 1788, the first theater was finished at the location of the current theater, associated with a market hall and a tree-lined walk on the new quays. The expenses were covered by donations mainly composed of Cavalry , notable, entrepreneurs and traders of Saumur and the surrounding area.  A trader of Angers, Joachim-Jean Trottouin, even subscribes an action on the head of Louis Charles de France, the future Louis XVII! (that never reigned murdered in the French revolution).  Very degraded despite successive restorations, the building was finally demolished in 1863. The construction of a new theater was  given to the architect of the city, Charles Joly-Leterme . He opted for an imposing building in tufa and slate.


The 30 Corinthian columns that belt the building testify to influences from the canons of classical architecture. The outer galleries serve, as in the previous century, a covered market and a trading stock exchange with nice arcades closed by the gates Place de la Bilange. Inside, the Italian style room can accommodate 860 spectators at ease, even 950 a little tight. The interior decoration is entrusted to Antoine-Victor Barbereau dit Saint-Léon, Parisian painter decorator.  The bombardments of June 1940 which damaged the theater,  a new ceiling representing the allegory of opera, tragedy, comedy and dance was done.

Despite regular attention, the very dilapidated theater closes in June 2008 for security reasons.  The restoration project, launched in 2010, proposes a complete modernization while respecting its architectural envelope.  In the theater, the stage and the staging area are modified to offer several configurations: theater, Circassian scene, orchestra pit, stand for lyrical and symphonic, opening possible in the background of a plateau. In the foyer, the extension of public staircases to courtyard and garden by destroying the main staircase makes this space free for the reception and the wandering of the public.


Finally the realization of a dome roof marks externally the transformation of the building. The theater dome marks the entrance to the city on the north side, giving it an important counterweight to the rest of the facades on the Loire. Its new characteristic profile becomes by essence one of the flagship buildings of the city with the dome of the Ardilliers, the Castle and the 3 arrows of the Church of St. Peter, the old City/Town hall and the Church of Saint Nicholas.(see previous posts).

Another nice one to see in Saumur, the Grand Théâtre is great in a wonderful shopping area with arcades fountains and the Loire, as well as great places to eat, see my previous post on the city. For now enjoy the Grand Théâtre of Saumur!

Some webpages to help you plan your visit here are:

The city of Saumur on the Grand Theâtre

The Saumur tourist office on things to see:

The Greater Saumur area on the theater cultural season:

There you go folks ,another dandy by the Loire river of my belle France, enjoy the mouvable feast of France! And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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April 30, 2021

Church Saint-Germain-d’Auxerre in Navarrenx!!

And continuing my rounds of updates on older posts on the deep France which brings many memorable moments of family travel, let me stop in an unique off the beaten path town of Navarrenx and show you a bit of the Church Saint Germain d’Auxerre! This is my deep France , and we love it. Hoping you do too!

The territory in expansion is not really big but the treasures in it are huge. And coming back to the deep south I came upon the nice historical Church of Saint Germain d’Auxerre in the lovely town of Navarrenx.  The Saint-Germain-d’Auxerre Church is located in Navarrenx, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques dépt 64 of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region.  It is a fairly old Church whose origins date back to 1551, under the reign of Henry II of Albret. Its steeple, as can be seen at present, dates from 1731. This gothic style Church, relatively rare in this part of France, measures 41 meters in length for 21 meters wide.  Following the arrival of king Louis XIII, wishing the final end of the war of religion, in Naverrenx in 1620, the Catholic cult was indeed restored. The patron of the Church is Saint-Germain-d’Auxerre, whose painting adorns the back of the Church. The Saint feast is on July 31st. The organ was built around 1850, but it is not signed so builder not known for sure.


This was the so-called Edict of the Union of Béarn. At Naverrenx, in favor of the entire integration of the kingdom, the king attended the solemn Sunday Mass at the Saint-Germain-d’Auxerre Church the following day. Two days later, the edict was finally approved by the Royal Council. Above the gate is a laurel wreath with the shield of France, completed according to the visit of Louis XIII. On the other hand, the current common coat of arms is characterized as a bluish golden Fleur de Lys replacing the old coat of arms.


The main portal of the Church Saint Germain d’Auxerre is distinguished from four large-scale paintings, including those granted by Emperor Napoleon III and his wife Eugénie de Montijo. Indeed, after treating Eugènie, future Empress, Doctor Jean-Baptiste-Prosper Darralde became a resident of Navarrenx, then Mayor of this town between November 1841 and December 1845, finally was appointed ordinary doctors of their Imperial Majesties, towards 1857. Hence, during the visit of the Imperial couple to Navarrenx in 1859, Napoleon III thanked him because of numerous treatments, notably those of the Empress, by granting the Church four paintings. The gifts of the Emperor and the Empress were successively arrived while they were copies of the masterpieces.  With their biblical subjects, these great paintings at the door invite the Pilgrims of St. James, during the the re start of their journey, to keep their spiritual prayer on the way. These paintings are:

Nativity of the Virgin MarySaint Germain, Patron of the Church and parish; Piéta of Adele de Kercado, this Piéta is accordingly exactly attributed to Mademoiselle de Kercado, who made numerous copies of masterpieces at that time; And this is a reproduction of the piece by Lodovico Carracci. The Ascension of Jesus, unlike the other three paintings, this work is nothing but an original by François Dubois, already completed in 1848, and which arrived at the Church later, in 1859. This is a work of the Ascension of Christ.




Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The city of Navarrenx on history/heritage

The Béarn Gaves tourist board on Navarrenx in English:

The Béarn Gaves tourist board on the route to St James at Navarrenx

This the real old France we came to know in books and old films, lovely pure and simple with lots of architecture, history and more; the food of course is delicious and so are the wines of the Béarn! Enjoy Navarrenx and the Church Saint Germain d’Auxerre as I do!

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

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April 30, 2021

Cathedral of Sainte-Marie of Oloron-Sainte-Marie!

And moving right along in one of my favorite areas of my belle France, we went deep! We have been passing by here for several years until one time we settled in Pau and began to see the region up close. One of my pleasant surprise was quant tranquil Oloron Sainte Marie. Let me update this old post on one of its emblematic monument, the Cathedral Sainte Marie!

And why not stay a bit longer in Oloron-Sainte-Marie, a nice town between lovely Pau and the Pyrénées to Spain! I cannot count how many times by here, since 1990! Read my previous posts on the town. It is a nice stepping stone into the mountains, the wines, the history and the architecture. Speaking of which , let me tell you about another gem of my belle France.  The Cathedral of Sainte-Marie in Oloron-Sainte-Marie  department of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques 64 in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. I will make it brief, promise.



The Church of Oloron was destroyed in 848 by the Vikings when they ransacked the city.  It was around 1102 that the Viscount of Béarn Gaston IV the Crusader decided to build a new cathedral that  began to build on the left bank of the gave Aspe (river). It remains from this 12C Cathedral especially the Romanesque portal protected by the steeple-porch as well as elements in the transept. The new cathedral dedicated to the Virgin was begun at the beginning of the 12C.

The nave was built in the 13C. The present sacristy, former Chapel of St. John the Baptist, was built in the late 13C or early 14C. The  Church was partly burned by lightning in 1302. The choir and bedside are rebuilt in the 14C. Two lateral vaulted chapels of liernes and third-party warheads were added in the late 15C or early 16C. The Cathedral was enlarged  in 1749 by constructing four lateral chapels with altarpieces on both sides of the nave and creating a new decor. This Cathedral was the episcopal seat of the former Diocese of Oloron, which was abolished in 1802 (separation of Church and State). In 1909, the Bishop of Bayonne was given the title of Bishop of Oloron and Lescar. Since that time the diocese of Bayonne, Lescar and Oloron has a mother church (Cathedral of Bayonne) and two co-Cathedrals (Cathedral of Oloron and Cathedral of Lescar). The restoration of the Cathedral was undertaken from 1859.




In front of its Romanesque portal, a 12C, defensively-styled steeple-porch surmounts a slate roof. The main eardrum is adorned with a carved cross descent. The Romanesque portal is the work of two sculptors who are distinguished by their technique. One of them is called the Master of Oloron. With his workshop, he worked on the roads of Compostela, the main theme of the descent of Christ’s cross is very rare in a church at this side. This representation takes up the account of the death of Christ given in the Gospel according to John:. Around the cross, you can see on the left, Mary, mother of Jesus, hands on the heart, Mary, mother of James, kisses the Hand of Christ who has been liberated, a character who holds the body of Christ, Joseph of Arimathea holds pincers to denial the left hand of Chris, and the Apostle John with a hand against his cheek to manifest his deep sorrow. Above the horizontal traverse of the cross, two busts, which represent the sun and the moon to recall the darkness that occur at the time of the death of Jesus. At the foot of the Cross, a Crimson. Under the Crimson has been carved a calf or bull’s head whose interpretation is not assured.

The treasure is made up of articles of Goldsmiths, cabinetmaking and liturgical garments dating from the 17-18C. It is housed in the restored and rehabilitated North lateral chapels.  A curious and imposing cabinet of the 19C, presenting a collection of priestly ornaments from the 14C to the 17C  worn by the bishops of Oloron including a veil, a handle, a stole, two jumpers, three dalmatiques, and two screeds. A nativity scene and figures from the 1Q of the 18C.  Orfrois representing Saint Denis, Sainte Barbara, a holy bishop, the Veil of Véronique held by two angels dating from the 16C. Goldsmith’s pieces from the 16C to the 19C.



The Organ was built between 1647 and 1652. The organ was restored in 1771. The organ was dismantled at the French revolution. Aristide Cavaillon-Coll installed an organ in the 17C buffet in 1870. Stained glass windows were laid in the 19C after the restoration of the Cathedral. A stained glass window depicts Mary’s presentation at the Temple and the Annunciation. Another, representing the Virgin Mary, the Child Jesus and Saint Joseph, from 1867.

There you go a bit of history I like which always look forward to when visiting these places and talking with the local people its just an amazing experience. I was glad to spent more time in the city, see my other posts, there is nice wines, chocolates and food here to keep at least me for a long time… Been the importance of the Cathedral in terms of local folklore, it is not a big size nor highly decorated but worth the detour if passing near or by Oloron-Sainte-Marie.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The city of Oloron Sainte Marie on heritage

The Pyrénées Béarnaises tourist office on Oloron Sainte Marie

The Béarn Pyrénées tourist board dept 64 on the Cathedral

And there you go folks, another dandy in my belle France and a deep region bordering with Spain, the real country just what I like the best. And the Cathédrale Sainte Marie of Oloron Sainte Marie is a nice place to stop while in town.Hope you enjoy the post as I

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

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April 30, 2021

Gan on the Pyrénées Atlantiques 64!

Let me bring this old post to life again for the road warrior memories of my southern France near border with Spain. Many years by here, and always an exhuberant glory of going there. I like to update our stayed in Gan (as many passing by!). Hope you enjoy as I.

So let me bring you down to a beautiful area and wonderful wines. I have enjoyed with the family for many years and even been base at Pau to just drive around the whole region. It is a pity not better known, as it is worth a detour for an off the beaten path area of my belle France.  The city of Gan is best known for its wine, which I have done another post on it. However, it does have a nice Church which again is very little credited and it is a nice stop while in town. It goes to saying have wine and take time for the Church. Let me tell you a bit more on this quant little town. Gan is a town in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques dept 64 in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, and only 9 km south of Pau.

The St. Barthélémy Church was rebuilt near the ancient church of St. John which was restored in several phases between 1811 and 1930.  The St Barthélémy Church has an 18C gilded wooden altar, enamelled Way of the Cross of ceramists Cazaux, stained glass windows of Atelier Mauméjean.. The Atelier Mauméjean is one of the main actors in the decoration of the stained glass. They are the work of three generations of Mauméjean the oldest being a Saint Peter of 1891 the most recent dating from 1939. The 18C gilded wooden altar located in the left ambulatory is the oldest room. The restoration of the church in 1920 and entrusted to the Abbot Annat priest of Gan who will follow the complete remodeling work of the Church to be consecrated in 1922 by Monsignor François Marie ,Bishop of Bayonne.





Gan is a large French wine-growing town with permission to produce the following appellation wines:   Béarn, comté de Tolosan; and Jurançon. (see post)The Béarn is a French AOC label (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée))   and a European AOP label(Appellation d’Origine Protégée).  The Comté de Tolosan is a European label IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée). Note that the IGP label replaces the VDP label (Vin de pays) since 2009. It also has the word “regional “. The word “regional ” means that the IGP has the legal area of wine production of the widest possible. As it is fixed to a whole region which can bring together several departments.  The Jurançon is a French AOC label (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée ) and a European AOP label (Appellation d’Origine Protégée ). We love and are direct with the cooperative at Gan for jurançon and béarn wines, delicious at affordable prices!

The city of Gan on heritage–henri-iv-et-henri-dalbret

Official bastides fortified towns of the Pyrénées Atlantiques on Gan

The Béarn area tourist office on Gan

Its market is usually open from 8h to 13h in city center. These times can vary depending on the weather and the season.  There you go a nice stop for us always on the way in or out of Spain, and we stop by Gan  too. As said, we have even stayed at Pau and wondered around this area for several years. Very nice places and should be seen more by all. Hope it encourage you to do so.

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

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