Archive for ‘France’

September 17, 2021

Schaerbeek was memorable!!

Here nostalgic sets in again, doing my road warrior trips in Europe. We love the freedom of the road and gone to great distances. We went from our former home in Brec’h ,beautiful Morbihan all the way to Schaerbeek, next to Brussels, Belgium! A memorable road trip and fun for the whole family. Let me give you a bit more as have some post on it in my blog as well.

Schaerbeek is one of the 19 bilingual towns that makes up the Brussels-Capital in Belgium. It borders the towns of Brussels-city, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Evere, Etterbeek and Woluwe-Saint-Lambert. The eastern part around the Square Vergote, Boulevard Lambermont, Place Jamblinne de Meux, the Diamant district and Josaphat Park are today a privileged place for a wealthy population for its architecture and its practical location, as it is near the European institutions and the financial heart of the city, NATO, the European School, the airport and the ring beltway road.

The first written mention of Schaerbeek is Scarenbeca in 1120 by the bishop of Cambrai (see post) in France in a document in which he also cites Everna, this neighboring town of Evere served as the administration and part of the revenues of the churches at the chapter of Soignies. In the Middle Ages, the territory of the town was part of the Duchy of Brabant. Schaerbeek was part of the “vat”, that is to say the suburbs, of the city of Brussels, and the village was annexed to the city in 1301. This situation continued until 1795, when the French administration decided to make Schaerbeek a town as under the French revolutionary period.

I did not use but for information only , Schaerbeek train station is one of the largest Belgian railway stations located on the territories of the towns of Schaerbeek (passenger building) and Brussels-City.  Also, the Bruxelles-Nord train station is located on the territory of the town of Schaerbeek.  While there walked all over but got to use a lot of public transport leaving our car in the hotel parking which was inexpensive, We took the metro line 1,5,and 6. As well taken the tramways 25 and 92, and the bus 66. We prefer the trams very nice clean efficient and see it all.

Brussels tram 25 by Schaerbeek feb13

Brussels bus 65 et 66 Schaerbeek stop jan13

We were here choosing at random a hotel that was nice ,well place, and inexpensive such as the Hôtel Bentley, avenue Rogier 51. This is a small hotel in a lively area, with parking and very close to public transport, it is really easy to access. The rooms are quite nice and well maintained. Recently renovated , and really cheap to spend a night here. It has 30 rooms equipped with a bathroom or a shower, a television and a telephone. hotel parking ,not bad at all. We love the fact you leave the key at front desk and just take off walking was nice even all the way to the Botanical garden center (see post); and then taking the public transport as above was fun for a change did not drove in the city!  webpage on the Hotels finder site : https://www.hotels.com/ho467234/?q-rooms=1&q-room-0-adults=2&q-room-0-children=0&f-hotel-id=467234&sort-order=BEST_SELLER&ZSX=0&SYE=3

Schaerbeek has some remarkable sites such as Josaphat Park (1904), the City/Town Hall built in 1887 at Place Colignon ; the Royal Sainte-Marie Church,(see post) the Maison des Arts, as well as many Art Nouveau and Art Deco houses particularly well preserved by example the Autrique House. It is also the birthplace of singer Jacques Brel , one of the best in the French language. The Halles de Schaerbeek is a Brussels cultural center located in Schaerbeek, 22 rue Royale Sainte-Marie ; in the former Sainte-Marie covered market built in 1865 and destroyed by fire in 1898. The renovation project, which began in 1984, is finished in 1997 and Les Halles became a cultural center. It has excellent museums such as the Musée Schaerbeekois de la Biére (beer museum) at 33-35 avenue Louis Bertrand, the musée de l’Horloge en Faïence or Clockarium museum at 163 boulevard Reyers, the before mention Autrique house or Maison Autrique, first home of Victor Horta in Brussels, at 266 Chausée de Haecht, and the Train World at Place Princesse Elizabeth.

The city of Schaerbeek on its heritagehttps://www.1030.be/fr/patrimoine-tourisme

The Brussels tourist office on Schaerbeekhttps://visit.brussels/fr/article/promenade-quartiers-schaerbeek

If you are handy with public transport, this is an area to stay to see all of Brussels inexpensively with a large family. We never fell any problems walking the streets here and sure will be back when possible. Schaerbeek was a pleasant find indeed. Hope you enjoy this post which again know have pictures,  but can’t find them in my huge vaults of over 50K photos! sorry. Ironic the ones I found were on public transports !!

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

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September 17, 2021

The market of Brest!!

And back to one of my favorite subjects, the markets! Love these , go to them all over my belle France. The very essence of what French culinary excellence is known and the better ones are away from the big metropolis. I have been with the family to the one in Brest, dept 29 Finistére, in my lovely Bretagne. Let me tell you a bit more on the Markets of Brest.

You find the wonderful Halles Saint Louis or covered market St Louis. A must on any visit to the city for the local ambiance, the goodies from the French countryside, and the history. They are open Tuesdays to Fridays from 8h30-13h30 and 16h to 19h30, Saturdays from 8h-14h and 16h to 19h30, and Sundays from 8h to 13h. You see one picture on the old market and new one after the market was renovated in 2020.

brest-halles-st-louis-nov13

The Saint-Louis market had a redesigned formula to integrate sanitary and distancing rules, while maintaining fluidity and conviviality. A hundred traders are present.  Local producers are located around the Halles Saint-Louis.  The story began in 1845, long before its reconstruction after WWII, it had a metallic architecture in the Napoleon III style.It is conceived now as follows:

Zone 1 / Rue de Lyon, a special feature in front of the Halles Saint-Louis in addition to the deployment on one side along the rue de Lyon, some market traders will face the halls: they will be positioned on the south road, that is to say back to the church parking lot.

Zone 2 / The producers’ square. This is one of the major changes in this new organization: this part of the market can no longer be held on Boussingault and Picot streets, which are now too cramped and crowded. It is therefore repositioned on the rectangle around the Halles Saint-Louis on rue des halles saint Louis and rue Pasteur to rue de Lyon.

Zone 3 / World kitchens or the food trucks. Usually in the car park in the square of the Tour d’Auvergne, the food trucks will be repositioned, always on one lane, in the car park, for some of them, and on rue Boussingault for others.

My best reason to come in here was and is the cheese store in the Halles Saint Louis market, or La Maison du Fromage  webpage: https://www.lamaisondufromage-brest.com/nos-fromages

brest-halles-st-louis-front-may17

Outside Saint-Louis or around the Halles Saint Louis open market on the sides of rue de Lyon and rue Pasteur) ,these are non food market sort of like a flea market. Open from  8h30 to 19h. On the side of rue de Siam ,rue de Lyon, rue Boussingault, Rue Colonel Picot you have a mix food and non food market open May 1st to September 30th from  8h to 13h , and from October 1st to April 30th from 8h30 to 13h.

The city of Brest on the Halle Saint Louis and othershttps://www.brest.fr/bouger-se-divertir/commerces-marches-halles/marches-et-halles-1619.html

There you go folks a great family outing to indulge on the best of my belle France. Hope you enjoy the shopping! we do lol! The Halles Saint Louis is now even nicer. Hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

September 17, 2021

Arsenal Naval Base of Brest!

Ok so once again going to tell something different, it can be a tourist destination more of a military naval base but can be visited with prior arrangement of the tourist office of Brest and will be the highlight of your trip here me think. Of course, I have mentioned in previous posts, but will like to update the post on the  Naval Base of Brest.

The Brest arsenal or military port of Brest is a naval base of the French Navy consisting of a set of military and naval installations located in the Penfeld River in Brest, dept 29 of Finistère in the region of Bretagne. This is the second French naval base, after that of Toulon. In the popular workers’ language the local Brestois, call it the “arsouil” (do not want to say the meaning here but soldiers needs). It is right in city center after the castle naval museum of course!

brest-base-navale-port-nov12

The Penfeld, in the confines of the military port, is almost entirely bordered by wharves, which however present the major drawback of not being attached directly because of the level of the rock that in many places are seen at low tide. There are also positions, mainly on the left bank, by means of overflowing, in order to allow some small units to moor in Penfeld, and to use some facilities such as the great crane. There four spikes were to be attached to the south pier of the military harbor, parallel to each other, arranged in an angle to the pier and rooted every 250 meters, the first spur being rooted at about 600 meters from the rooting of the pier. Their common length of 270 meters and the depth available to their right would allow accommodating the largest boats of the Allied Marines, especially the aircraft carriers, hence their name. This basin, located in the so-called Troulan Cove, on the left bank of the Penfeld, is currently named pool no. 1. It is the oldest of them, so called Basin No. 1 and was built in 1683, modified in 1745 and 1864. Its dimensions are 115 meters in length for 25 meters width at the level of the docks.

brest-base-naval-complete-nov13

Until 1966, France was part of NATO’s integrated command. As such, France had to have facilities for the reception of Allied marine boats, including American aircraft carriers. For the arsenal of Brest, this obligation was done by the creation of four pitches, the ears of aircraft carriers. The two basins of Pontaniou are located in the Cove of Pontaniou, at the confluence of the Penfeld and the Valley housing the rue Saint-Malo, now crossed by the building of the Salou an area located upstream of the current Pont de L’Harteloire, where currently are basins 4, 6 and 7 of the arsenal.

Not much used upstream of the pont de Recouvrance,(see post) these stations welcome however downstream of this bridge the old naval rigging, the port’s skippers and the trans rades providing services between Brest and the Crozon peninsula (see post) . Bordered by eight lines of pontoons launched perpendicularly to the wharf, this wharf is the privileged area for the docking of the units of the National Navy based in Brest, in particular for the minehunters, the avisos, or the buildings-school. Two parallel pontoon lines are embossed in front of the underwater base and have a similar role. One of the most spectacular workshops is certainly the cordage (Corderie), if only because of its length.  In Brest, there were two cordages, after the oldest one, installed along the Brest basin, burned down: the low cordage and the high cordage stretched under the prison and the maritime hospital. The Madeleine building, or Pontaniou prison, was built during the first decade of the 19C. Originally intended for the sailors and workers of the arsenal (and not the convicts), it was a model prison, with a certain comfort whose flagship point were the individual cells. Located just beyond the lift of Pontaniou and the building to the Lions,( bâtiment aux Lions) it was outside the confines of the arsenal.  Transferred to civilian use in 1952 the building is still standing today.

brest-arsenal-boats-and-canons-may17

The building to the Lions, the name given comes from the ten lead lion heads that serve as gargoyles. It is also referred to as the lifting of Pontaniou.  This building, located at the bottom of Pontaniou Cove, had a double objective: to close the Pontaniou Cove , and to promote communication between the plateau of the Cayenne ,where was the second depot of the crews of the fleet, and that of the Capuchin.  The lifting of Pontaniou is a four-story dike bridge, 58 meters long, 10.5 meters wide and 20 meters high. The site successively housed the convent of the order of the Capuchin, a hospital, a barracks and in the 19C, large industrial workshops.  Retrofitted to the community in 2010, the workshop buildings were conserved and rearranged to accommodate commercial and cultural activities (e.g. Media Library and Cinema). The mole of the viaduct allows to ensure the connection between the workshops of the Capuchin plateau and the docks. This imposing construction is elevated to the north of the plateau to which it is connected by a 30 meters long arch. This is one of the most representative monuments of the naval arsenal steam period.

brest-base-naval-helicopter-nov13

In all an impressive naval base right up to the city center of Brest! Some webpages to help you plan your trip are:

The Brest metro tourist office on the naval base: https://www.brest-metropole-tourisme.fr/sortir-bouger/activites-culturelles-et-patrimoine/patrimoine-culturel-brest/base-navale-de-brest-15284

The Bretagne region tourist board on Brest: https://www.brittanytourism.com/destinations/the-10-destinations/brest-terres-oceanes/brest/

The FInistére dept 29 tourist office on the Capucins shops of Penfeld: https://www.toutcommenceenfinistere.com/ateliers-des-capucins-brest

There you go folks ,something different off the beaten path and well worth the visit; the Naval Base of Brest is unique for a visit. Hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

September 16, 2021

Some news from France, CCCXLIII

The most favorite monument of the French was unveiled in a special program presented by Stéphane Bern on France 3, while the 38th European Heritage Days are taking place this weekend 18-19 sept 2021). Built between 1751 and 1755, Place Stanislas has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, for the whole it forms with the Place de la Carrière and the Place of Alliance which extend it. It was previously open to traffic, before being made fully pedestrianized in 2005 for its 250th anniversary after two years of construction. And you thought there are other monuments, this is voted by the French! The complete ranking is this:1 Place Stanislas in Nancy (Meurthe-et-Moselle 54 ) 2 – The Château de Falaise (Calvados 14 ) 3 – The Towers of La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime 17) 4 – The Pont-Canal in Briare (Loiret 45) 5 – The Theater antique d’Orange (Vaucluse 84) 6 – The Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune (Côte-d’Or 21) 7 – The Château de Pierrefonds (Oise 60) 8 – The Pont du Gard (Gard 30) 9 – The railway rotunda of Chambéry (Savoie 73) ) 10 – The Caillebotte Property in Yerres (Essonne 91) 11 – The Balata Garden in Fort-de-France (Martinique 972) 12 – The ramparts of Saint-Malo (Ille-et-Vilaine 35) 13 – The Citadel of Bonifacio and the Staircase of the Roy d’Aragon (Corse-du-Sud 2A) 14 – Passage Pommeraye in Nantes (Loire-Atlantique 44)

Marks & Spencer closes more than half of its stores in France because of Brexit, The British brand Marks & Spencer is forced to reduce its presence in France and in Europe. Eleven stores are affected. It continues to downsize, more than 140 stores have been closed around the world over the past two years.

Quinze.bis, a multidisciplinary concept store divided into several spaces. 550 m2 dedicated “to words and writing”, spaces curated by Gibert booksellers and highlights, meetings and dedications are therefore announced. There will also be the Music Store, a music space designed with the Balades Sonores record store, which provides a precise selection to complete the general offer. The stationery / gifts area has been revised to highlight “French, artisanal, eco-responsible or ethical brands that do not yet have physical stores Quinze.bis 15bis, boulevard Saint-Denis 2éme opens September 30 2021.

Next weekend Sept 18-19 2021 are Heritage Days, so little-known treasures to discover in Ile-de-France and in the regions, For example, Viry-Châtillon (Essonne 91). Behind the gates of the Piédefer estate, hides the Nymphaeum, or shell cave, a jewel from the end of the 17C, The Beauvaisis steam train is a metric-gauge tourist railway created by the Museum of steam tramways and of the French secondary railways (MTVS) on part of the old line from Saint-Omer-en-Chaussée to Vers. More on the Heritage Days or journées du Patrimoine here: http://etudiant.aujourdhui.fr/etudiant/agenda/journees-du-patrimoine.html

The Nuit Blanche 2021, artistic-sport hiking version of the program of the 20th edition of the Parisian meeting, scheduled for October 2 to 3 2021, The artistic walk will take place on the Grande Randonnée trail around Paris, and will be followed, for the first time, an exhibition across the city. This will start from the Trocadéro !

The first rail line of the Aéroport-d’Orly metro station is welded. A sympathetic and decisive step was taken this past Wednesday morning for the creation of the future station for lines 14 and 18, which will link Orly airport to Paris , Orsay (Essonne 91) and Versailles (Yvelines 78), Also, “Céline”, the first tunnel boring machine on line 18, will dig 6 km between Palaiseau and Massy, ​​it was necessary to dig a 14-meter-deep case and extract 23,000 tonnes of backfill. Officially named, the tunnel boring machine will begin its nibbling work around November 15. Before that, the second tunnel boring machine, the one that “Céline” is to join in Massy, ​​will be baptized in a month, on October 16, during the open doors of the Grand Paris express. And it will start digging the 6 km from Massy towards Orly airport in mid-December 2021, More expansion more people using public transports into Paris !

While around thirty French territories have chosen to opt for free public transport, Paris has just made the metro and Vélib free for all people under the age of 18. This new measure will be exclusively reserved for young Parisians residing in the capital and having a Navigo Imagine’R and / or Vélib ’Métropole“ V-Plus Jeune ”mechanical package. To obtain the free Navigo pass, all you need to do is fill out a form on the City of Paris website. The request will then be processed within a few weeks. Webpage: https://www.paris.fr/pages/remboursement-des-transports-pour-les-jeunes-parisiens-7064

And for the low cost traveler in you, good news, From October 31, 2021, Ryanair will offer two return flights per week (Thursday and Sunday) between Brest-Bretagne airport and Lisbon (Portugal). Check out the airport webpage or Ryanair.

And your friendly French taxpayer is awakening as Ile-de-France Mobilités, the transports arm of the Ïle de France region has suspended the payments to the SNCF and RATP ! Without the 1.3 billion claimed from the State (our taxes), Île-de-France Mobilités believes that it will have to give up certain infrastructure works and orders for rolling stock, reduce the supply of transport, or even increase the price. Navigo oh well this is the new Paris.

Since August 1, 2021 for non-resident motorists in Paris, the hourly rate in the street has increased to 6 euros in zone 1 and 4 euros in zone 2. In some districts, it is more interesting to park in the underground parkings in Paris. Paris is by far the city in France where parking your vehicle in the street is the most expensive. Since August 1, the city has introduced rates that are dissuasive to say the least. For visitors, it now costs 6 euros per hour in zone 1 (from the 1éme to the 11éme arrondissement) and 4 euros per hour in zone 2 (from the 12éme to the 20éme). As for the “FPS”, the post-parking package, that is to say the fine set for non-payment or exceeding the time, it is now set at 50 euros or 75 euros, depending on the area. Be aware the idea is to get the car out of Paris indirectly but this will fail too, can’t cover the volume with the ageing public transports network.

The inauguration of the Johnny Hallyday esplanade began with the inauguration of the statue ,The 6-meter-high statue represents a pole in the shape of a guitar neck, with a Harley Davidson at the top that belonged to Johnny in front of the Accor Arena (ex Bercy) and ends with an exceptional show in his favorite hall, (ex-Bercy) started at 10h20 in front of Bercy with a mini-concert bringing together the last five musicians of Johnny Hallyday, including Yarol Poupaud (guitarist) and Yvan Cassar (sound director of symphonic albums) , joined by 150 bikers and their motorcycles, some of whom had escorted Johnny’s coffin to the Madeleine on December 9, 2017, for the funeral. And at 21h, on the stage of Bercy, the concert “Johnny Hallyday that I love you” will begin, in front of 10,000 fans and live on France 2 television (saw it!!). Organized by his widow, this show aligns headliners such as Florent Pagny, Patrick Bruel, Catherine Ringer, Louis Bertignac, Calogero, Gaëtan Roussel, Patrick Fiori, Julien Doré, etc.

As a side kick, the Johnny’s Bar opens its doors this past Tuesday, September 14 next to the arena, perfect for a drink while toasting in memory of our national Johnny. Ultra comfortable leather sofas, subdued lighting, terrace, rock and stage music to host lives and, of course, flowing alcohol; good taps, excellent whiskeys and a menu of our Johnny’s favorite cocktails. To be enjoyed while singing its greatest aperitif hits until the end of the night. It can even be accessed without a ticket for the concerts in the hall. It is at the heart of L’ACCOR Arena that we discover the new homage to Johnny Hallyday: an eponymous intimate bar with a well-filled whiskey menu, one of Jojo’s favorite spirits served in a room where he has played over a hundred times. A winning combination. Johnny’s Bar, ACCOR Arena, 8, boulevard de Bercy 12éme, webpage :https://www.accorhotelsarena.com/fr/informations-pratiques/informations-pratiques

The new Bouillon Pigalle à République for the greatest pleasure of your taste buds. 160 years after the creation of the first Parisian bouillon, they are still there in the districts of Pigalle, Grand Boulevards or Strasbourg-Saint-Denis, all of Paris is in a hurry to devour good French cuisine while enjoying the conversations of neighbors. Luckily, a new kid is settling in today in the République district. Bouillon Pigalle République 39, boulevard du Temple 3éme

For the first time in France, a history museum traces chronologically and thematically the history of the persecution of gays and lesbians under the Third Reich, drawing on a rich selection of documents, most of which have never been presented in France. Gays and lesbians in Nazi Europe at the Shoah Memorial, 17, rue Geoffroy -Asnier ; from the 4-6 March 2022 Info webpage; http://expo-homosexuels-lesbiennes.memorialdelashoah.org/

There you go folks, another dandy series of some news from France from yours truly, a pleasure all the time to talk about my belle France! Hope you enjoy the post and again thanks for reading me since November 2010!!

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

September 16, 2021

La Villette, that other park of Paris!

This is an anormaly for me right off the bat; this is one of my first areas visited in Paris as came by it with my then girlfriend in 1990 and later wife and many more times by here. I have come by here more often than I can remember and saw the transformation of this area from  a low unknown to a vibrant lively area and up and coming real estate values.  I am talking about the La Villette and its park complex in the 19éme arrondissement of Paris. I could not find my pictures for this place darn it, even if look several times in my vault, therefore, will need to do the post as my black and white series, no pictures.

I used to drive into it from the old N3 now D603 road direction Meaux. It covers the northeast quadrant of Paris bordering the boulevard periphérique, the first mention of La Villette goes back to 1198, and the area was like many annexed to Paris proper in 1860.  It is divided into four quartiers or neighborhood such as La Villette, Pont de Flanders, Amérique, and Combat. The Grande Halle de la Villette, metal structures built in 1865-1867, it was the site of one of the biggest slaugherhouses in Paris and today it serve for cultural events and concerts.

The parc de la Villette, is located on the quartier Pont de Flandre  is one of the biggest park and the biggest green area of Paris. It was built on the slaughterhouse of the Villette that were demolished in 1867 under orders of emperor Napoléon III and the prefect Haussmann , and finally raze in 1974. It has 55 hectares of which 33 are green areas so making it the biggest in Paris, larger than the Jardin des Tuileries with 25,5 hectares, parc des Buttes Chaumont with 25 hectares and the Jardin du Luxembourg with 23 hectares. It has the Porte de la Villette on the north, the porte de Pantin on the south and the Canal de l’Ourcq crosses it in the middle. Two pedestrian passarelles connect the canal with the north and south section, and also there is a floating mobile bridge half way between the two passeralles that allow walkers and bikers and mobility impaired persons to cross it. There is a passages garden inspired from the exposition planetary gardens in the grande halle on a site of an old lamb corral; this island of green has 3000 sq meters with an ecosystem of forest, and dry stones.  It is a space of culture and teaching around ecological themes.

The things to see here in my opinion are:

The Grande halle de la Villette, with a nave of 9000 sq meters, the space Charlie Parker  with 4 000 sq meters, four studies and 8 balconies on the room Boris Vian.

The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie opened in 1986. The Géode , a large dome shape building of 36 meters (119 ft)  in diameter housing a cinema IMAX cinema on a  geodesies dome opened  in 1985. The Cité de la Musique , concert hall opened in 1995 and music museum opened in 1996.  The conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris opened in 1990.  The little Villette the old pavilion Paul Delouvrier. The Zénith de Paris, opened in 1984 and stayed concert hall. The Philharmonic de Paris created in 2015. The space Chapiteaux with Chapithôtel opened in 2013 to house the artists. The submarine ArgonauteCinaxe , this is a cinema made like a flight simulator ,very good! you play the movie with the same movements lol! The Trabendo opened in 1994 under Hot Brass spectacles hall . The wonderful Cabaret Sauvage concerts spectacles since 1997. The theater Paris Villette opened in 1986 in the old pavilion de la Bourse aux cuirs (leather stock exchange) . The Hall de la  Chanson in the pavilion of Charolais behind the Grande Halle.

Others are the WIP Villette opened in 1987 first as the Maison de la Villette. The  beltway spaces for residence of artists , an equestrian center, Pavillon Janvier, Cité Administrative, and the thematic gardens such as the  jardins passagers, jardin des bambous, jardin des frayeurs enfantines, jardin de la treille, jardin des équilibres, jardin des îles, jardin des miroirs, jardin des dunes et des vents, jardin des voltiges, jardin du dragon, jardin des ombres, and jardin des dessins. It has an equetrian center, sculptures, and music kiosques all around, great place to spend a day in a different Paris.

It has gorgeous walks along the Canal de la VilletteCanal Saint Denis,and Canal de l’Ourcq all meeting here going into a great esplanade to the Rotonda de la Villette ,the old tax authority now been converted into a Brasserie restaurant ,and very popular. The luminous cinema MK2  overlooking the canal is romantic ,beautiful cinema house.

All around these canals you have the bassin de la Villette, the biggest body of water in Paris with 700 meters long( 2310 ft) .  The aforementioned Rotonde de la Villette  is one of 54 buildings done in 1784 to received the taxes on products entering Paris; it faces the Bassin de la Villette.  For difference there is a nice church St Jacques et St Chritophe de la Villette at place Bitche a nice small park in front will do good for a rest and some snack/drink to recharge your walk, I know I did ! Here you can get to many peniche boat and cruise boat on the canals and bassin the most famous is the Canauxrama firm right on quai de la Loire. Also, the newer Paris Canal same side of the quais .(see posts).

To have a quick drink spend a lovely time here other than inside the Parc de la Villette, you have a wonderful cafe MK2 inside the MK2 cinema overlooking the bassin de la Villette, Belushi’s at rue Crimée is wonderful and youthful with good prices, and great views. For a heartier meal I suggest the Au Boeuf Couronné, for great beef and the signature of Gerard Joulie restaurants in Paris, located at 188 ave Jean Jaurés, metro porte de Pantin ,line 5 . There is a hostal St Christopher’s (inside is Belushi’s) next to it with lively ambiance, great prices, and very easy located on metro Crimée line 7.

In all a labyrinth of good ambiance always guarantee

The Paris tourist office on the Grande Halle: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71597/Grande-Halle-de-La-Villette

The Paris tourist office on the general parc de la Villette: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71469/Parc-de-La-Villette-Plein-Air

The Official parc de la Villette with a map is better: https://lavillette.com/plan-du-parc?view=overall

The concerts hall Zenith with programming: http://www.le-zenith.com/fr/programme/programmation.html

The official Cité de la Musique on programming: https://philharmoniedeparis.fr/fr

The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie webpage: https://www.cite-sciences.fr/en/home/

The Géode webpage; https://www.lageode.fr/?lang=en

There you go folks, a wonderful parck for all to enjoy the parc de la Villette is awesome. Hope you enjoy the black and white post on it as I. You will do good to visit this off the beaten path area of Paris, it is very nice. And, remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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September 16, 2021

Place Charles de Gaulle or Etoile of Paris!!!

Ok so in my rounds of updating older posts in my blog during these times of ours I came across new finds! One of them was on this very famous square where I had concentrated on the  Arc de Triomphe but not on the Place de l’étoile as it is better known even if officially now is Place Charles de Gaulle. Therefore, let me tell you a bit more on it; hope you enjoy it as I.

The Place Charles-de-Gaulle, formerly Place de l’Étoile is an important roundabout, in the center of which is the Arc de Triomphe, (see posts) and which constitutes one end of Avenue des Champs- Elysees (see post). Place de l’Étoile, as well as the Arc de Triomphe itself, is shared like a cake between the 8éme, 16éme and 17éme arrondissements of Paris with the 8éme bounded by avenue de Wagram and the ‘avenue Marceau; the16éme bounded by avenue Marceau and avenue de la Grande-Armée; and the 17éme bounded by avenue de la Grande-Armée and avenue de Wagram. It has a diameter of 241 meters, which gives it an area of ​​approximately 4.55 hectares.

The Charles de Gaulle square is one of the prestigious squares in Paris. Although it was renamed in 1970, its old name of “Place de l’Étoile” is still the most common in use. The square is surrounded by two streets forming a circle around it: the rue de Presbourg and the rue de Tilsitt which perpetuate two diplomatic successes of Napoleon and are the names given in 1864 to the circular street. Taking place between avenue Kléber and avenue Victor-Hugo, rue Lauriston constitutes a thirteenth lane radiating around the square but it stops at rue de Presbourg and therefore does not disturb the harmony of the square itself, Another underground passage, the Passage du Souvenir, is reserved for pedestrians, and connects the median where the Arc de Triomphe is located to the sidewalks of Avenue des Champs-Élysées and Avenue de la Grande-Armée.

The Charles de Gaulle square is serve by the RER A and metro lines 1, 2 and 6 under the square, serving it from the Charles de Gaulle – Étoile station. On the surface, the RATP bus lines 22, 30, 31, 52, 73, 92 and 341 run all or part of the square and serve it through stops on the various avenues leading to it. At night, the square is served by the Noctilien lines N11, N24, N53, N151 and N153. OF course , me only use the metro line 1 and 6 as well as the RER A here, The others are for information only,

A bit of history I like, This square was created around 1670 at the top of the old butte temoin or witness hill in the northern part of the Chaillot hill. The mound was called the Butte de l’Étoile from 1730 or more commonly the Étoile de Chaillot, because of the alleys which intersect there and give the shape of a star. The architect builder of the King who gave this shape was Ange Gabriel, and he made sure that the path was of an equal slope from the place Louis XV to the Neuilly bridge, was carried out from 1768 to 1774, The mound was lowered by 5 meters and the land removed was used to backfill the Champs-Élysées and to form the slopes of the current rue Balzac and rue Washington. In 1787, during the construction of the wall of the Fermiers généraux or general farmers was created the barrier of the Etoile ,also called barrier of Neuilly, The square was at the limit of the territories of the towns, created in 1790, of Passy which extended to the south of the avenue de la Grande Armée and of Neuilly to the north of this avenue. The town of Passy was annexed to the city of Paris in 1860 forming the 16éme arrondissement as well as the part of the territory of the town of Neuilly corresponding to the Ternes neighborhood of the 17éme arrondissement.

A bit on the arch even if plenty of posts on it, The construction of a triumphal arch in the center of the square, begun in 1806 by order of Napoleon I, and was completed in 1836 under the reign of Louis-Philippe I. The Place Charles de Gaulle in its current appearance was built under the Second Empire on the initiative of Baron Haussmann and Napoleon III. From 1854 and around the Arc de Triomphe,were completed in 1836, twelve avenues in the shape of a Star. The “Hôtels des Maréchaux” or marshall’s hotels , who were twelve in number, they are bordered by the twelve avenues starting in a star around the square. These U-shaped constructions on the rear facade have their entrances on a circular street such as the rue de Tilsit and the rue de Presbourg. The motifs of the facades are common with Greek friezes, pilasters, garlands, balcony with balusters, cornice with modillions decorated with palmettes, etc.

The twelve avenues clockwise are:

The Avenue de Wagram named after the Battle of Wagram won by Napoleon in 1809 in Austria. Formerly boulevard de l’Étoile or boulevard Bezons. The Avenue Hoche named after Lazare Hoche French General. Formerly avenue de la Reine-Hortense under the Second Empire and boulevard Monceau before. The Avenue de Friedland named after the Battle of Friedland won by Napoleon in 1809 in East Prussia since the Second Empire. Formerly boulevard Beaujon, The Avenue des Champs-Élysées, named after the Champs-Élysées, the place of the Underworld where virtuous souls stayed in Greek mythology. The Avenue Marceau named after François Séverin Marceau French General. Formerly avenue Joséphine, The Avenue d’Iéna, named after the Battle of Jena won by Napoleon in 1806 over the Prussians. The Avenue Kléber named after Jean-Baptiste Kléber French General. Formerly avenue du Roi-de-Rome and boulevard de Passy previously. The Avenue Victor-Hugo named after Victor Hugo French writer. Formerly avenue d’Eylau and avenue de Saint-Cloud, The Avenue Foch named after Ferdinand Foch Maréchal de France. Formerly avenue du Bois (de Boulogne) under the Third Republic and avenue de l’Impératrice under the Second Empire, The Avenue de la Grande Armée named after Napoleon I’s army Formerly avenue de Neuilly. The Avenue Carnot named after Lazare Carnot, Member of Parliament and Minister. Formerly avenue d’Essling under the Second Empire named after the lost defeat in 1809, and the Avenue Mac-Mahon named after Edme Patrice Mac-Mahon Marshal of France. Formerly avenue du Prince-Jérôme.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

After all the above ,you have these twelve avenues forming six axes: The axis avenue Mac-Mahon and avenue d’Iéna, the axis avenue de Wagram and avenue Kléber, the axis avenue Hoche and avenue Victor-Hugo, the axis avenue de Friedland and avenue Foch, the axis avenue des Champs-Élysées and avenue de la Grande-Armée. And the axis avenue Marceau and avenue Carnot, All ridden by yours truly awesome !!

Paris arc de triomphe on C-E jan12

Some of the grand events on this Place Charles de Gaulle or Etoile in my opinion were : On June 25, 1792 around 21h, the royal family (Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette) entered Paris by the Etoile barrier returning from the flight from Varennes after having bypassed Paris by the outer boulevards. The carriage surrounded by two hedges of National Guards and a silent crowd then descends the Avenue des Champs-Elysées to the Tuileries Palace ( now gone facing the Jardin des Tuileries see post), Also, on April 2, 1810, the day after the civil marriage of Napoleon Bonaparte and Marie-Louise at the castle of Saint-Cloud (now gone just the gardens remain), the imperial procession heading towards the Tuileries Palace where the religious marriage was to be celebrated passed under the Arc de Triomphe under construction covered by a dummy monument with a frame covered with canvas and between the buildings there are lavishly decorated barriers. On December 2, 1852, the day of the proclamation of the Empire, Napoleon III left on horseback from the Château de Saint-Cloud and entered Paris via the Arc-de-Triomphe to reach the Palais des Tuileries, On November 11, 1920, the tomb of the Unknown Soldier was installed.

The Paris tourist office on the squarehttps://en.parisinfo.com/transport/90841/Place-Charles-de-Gaulle

The Champs-Elysées webpage on the squarehttp://www.champselysees-paris.com/en/sightseeing-details/place-de-l-039-etoile/208

There you go folks, a wonderful spot in my eternal Paris. You must have been by there ,now you know a bit of the history, next try a ride by car around it!!!Awesome! The place Charles de Gaulle is one heck of a square to be around while in beautiful Paris. Oh by the way the text is new in my blog, the picture is old . Hope you enjoy the post as I

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

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September 16, 2021

Inner Paris transports !!!

This is a subject of many questions over the years by visitors unknown ,closed friends and family members. Paris been a nice side city has a huge choice of local transports that can be confusing to many. However, as I tell my contacts/friends/family coming from big cities , getting public transports in Paris should not be a problem. For me learning the rope of public transports in the NJ/NY metro area, coming to the Paris metro area was a breeze.

I have several posts on transports in Paris on all modes. However, i like to provide more information and remind you of the one mode most ask me questions about, the metro:subway:tube of Paris! Therefore, here is my take on them briefly, if detail questions you can ask me.

One of my biggest affirmation is that once in Paris, walking is the best and sublime way to see the beauty of the most beautiful city in the world above ground. By far, walking is the main mode of travel in Paris, it provides 40% of all daily journeys, whether internal to Paris or between Paris and the suburbs. On the surface, it represents 75% of trips, while sidewalks cover only 40% of the road network. The public transport network in the Paris area is particularly developed. The metro, which provides 20% of Parisian travel (whether internal to Paris or between Paris and the suburbs), which makes it the second most important mode of travel after walking, is its most emblematic representative. Yes and for some reasons beyond me the one that gets more questions and confusion.

I have written many posts on the metro and its lines so rather than redo here is a link to all those posts:Have a good reading folks, and hope it helps. The specific webpage in Paris is the RATP: https://www.ratp.fr/en/plan-metro

Line 1: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2020/03/04/metro-de-paris-line-1/

Line 2: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2020/03/05/metro-de-paris-line-2/

Line 3: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2020/03/05/metro-de-paris-line-3/

Line 4: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2020/03/05/metro-de-paris-line-4/

Line 5: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2020/03/06/metro-de-paris-line-5/

Line 6: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2020/03/06/metro-de-paris-line-6/

Line 7: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2020/03/06/metro-de-paris-line-7/

Line 8: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2020/03/07/metro-de-paris-line-8/

Line 9: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2020/03/07/metro-de-paris-line-9/

Line 10: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2020/03/07/metro-de-paris-line-10/

Line 11: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2020/03/08/metro-de-paris-line-11/

Line 12: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2020/03/08/metro-de-paris-line-12/

Line 13: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2020/03/08/metro-de-paris-line-13/

Line 14: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2020/03/09/metro-de-paris-line-14/

Other lines: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2020/03/09/and-yes-other-metro-lines-of-paris/

The tramway appeared, during the 2000s, as an ideal mode of transport to ensure the transversal service which is lacking in the suburbs (the Transilien lines being rather radial), The Paris area has a large network of bus lines operated in part by the RATP (Paris and inner suburbs), in part by transport companies grouped together within the Optile group under the authority of Île-de- France Mobilitiés.

Paris has six major terminus railway stations (Gare du Nord, Gare Saint-Lazare, Gare de l’Est, Gare Montparnasse, Gare de Lyon and Gare d’Austerlitz) providing both main line traffic and commuter traffic. Main line traffic has grown considerably with the TGVs which leave from the Gare de Lyon (to Lyon, Marseille etc), from the Montparnasse station (to Rennes, Nantes, Bordeaux etc), Gare du Nord (towards Lille London etc) and, Gare de l’Est (towards Strasbourg, Meaux etc). The Saint-Lazare station is the first station for the number of departing trains (suburbs and main lines) while the Gare du Nord is the first for trafic, Seven of the eight suburban railway lines (Transilien) end in the large Parisian stations in cul-de-sac and complete the heavy service to the suburbs provided by the regional express network of Île-de-France (RER) . The five RER lines (A B C D E ) are rail gauge lines serving both the suburbs and the center of Paris.

More info on the Paris train stations in French: https://www.oui.sncf/gares/paris

Paris has had a constantly growing network of cycle paths since 1996 ,The market was taken over in 2018 by the Smoovengo consortium, which offers 30% of electrically assisted bicycles, There are about 17000 taxis in Paris, with Taxi ranks organized into three categories: 28 large stations are located near the main tourist sites or major city squares with taxis available 24/7; 90 neighborhood stations located near the main traffic axes and 316 local stations located near public buildings (hospitals, hotels, theaters, etc.) and intended for the removal and collection of users. They provide 0.5% of Parisian trips.

Find your Vélib station here: https://www.velib-metropole.fr/en/map#/

Find your Taxi stand here: https://www.taxis-paris.fr/plan-stations.htm

The road network includes about 800 km of highways in Île-de-France. There are about ten radials, the main ones being the Autoroute du Soleil (Dijon, Lyon, Marseille), the Autoroute du Nord (Lille), the autoroute de Normandie (Rouen, Caen, Le Havre), Autoroute de l’Est (Reims, Metz, Strasbourg), Autoroute d’Aquitaine (Orléans, Bordeaux) and Autoroute de l’Océane (Le Mans, Nantes) as well as three circular ring road surrounding historic Paris, the A 86 motorway, completely encircled in 2008, located in the inner suburbs and the Francilienne traced about ten km further outside. The average speed is 15.2 km / h, but 17.3 km / h after 20h and 17.8 km / h before 7h (even if the mayor of Paris impose a 70 kph limit! in the BP boulevard périphérique) Electronic sensors are placed in the roadway of the main Parisian axes and almost all of the region’s highways. From August 30 2021 Paris has enforced the 30 kph limit inside Paris proper. The data make it possible to determine the flow of traffic and to indicate traffic jams and estimated travell times between different characteristic points handle by the SYTADIN system. webpage: http://www.sytadin.fr/

The old STIF is today the Ïle de France Mobilités for all transports even in English : https://www.iledefrance-mobilites.fr/en

There you go folks, a condense information post on the inner transports of Paris with heavey emphasis on the metro/subway/tube as per popular demand. Hope it helps you travel smoothly thru and in Paris in your future travels to the capital of my belle France.

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

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September 15, 2021

The Beaubourg of Paris !!

Ok while in Paris passed by several times and visited once, the area ambiance was my main motive to stop by over the years. I admit contemporary arts is not my forte, I am from an older era ::) However, this is one of the monuments to see while in Paris, a must. Therefore, let me give you an introduction to the Centre Pompidou or as we call it  the Beaubourg! 

The Georges Pompidou National Center for Art and Culture (CNAC), commonly known as the Georges Pompidou Center, or Centre Pompidou or the Centre Beaubourg or simply the Beaubourg is a polycultural institution born from the will of the President. Georges Pompidou, a great lover of modern art, created in the heart of Paris an original cultural institution entirely devoted to modern and contemporary creation, where visual arts would be associated with books, design, music and cinema. It is located in the Saint-Merri neighborhood or quartier, in 4éme arrondissement or district of Paris, between the neighborhoods of Les Halles, in the west, and the Marais, in the east.  On January 31, 1977, the Georges Pompidou National Center for Art and Culture was inaugurated by President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in the presence of Prime Minister Raymond Barre, Mrs. Claude Pompidou and numerous personalities. Later on February 2, it was opened to the public.

paris-centre-beaubourg-front-nov19

Within the National Museum of Modern Art / Center for Industrial Creation (MNAM / CCI), it has one of the world’s three largest collections of modern and contemporary art and the first in Europe. It also houses major galleries of temporary exhibitions, theaters and cinemas, and the BPI, the first public reading library in Europe. On either side of the square, two annexes house the IRCAM and the Brancusi workshop. 

paris-centre-beaubourg-side-nov19

At the end of 1997, after having celebrated its twentieth anniversary, the center closes its doors to be renovated in depth. Since its reopening on January 1, 2000, these changes have made it possible to exhibit more works and offer more dance, theater and music performances. The space dedicated to young people is also developed with the new children’s gallery where two exhibitions are presented each year. Since December 2003, Espace 315, located on the first level, south side (just before the south gallery), hosts, on 315 m2, contemporary artists. It is here that the winner of the Marcel Duchamp Prize is exhibited every year.

paris-centre-beaubourg-arriving-nov19

The main building, 166 meters long, 45 meters wide (60 counting the exterior escalator) and 42 meters high (52 meters on the square side), consists of eight floors accessible to the public of 7,500 m2 each, including two floors of basement (-1 and 0), the street floor being at level 1 of the mezzanine, a useful floor area of approximately 45,000 m2, given the voids of the first floors of the Forum and the courtyards located at 5th and 6th floors, which roughly correspond to the floor area. Nevertheless, the building actually has a total area of 103,305 m2 on ten floors, taking into account the technical and parking spaces that extend to the square, and not including the 600 m2 Brancusi workshop and IRCAM. The height between each plateau is seven meters under ceiling except that of the Forum which is ten meters. The upper floors offer a wide and wonderful view of Paris. It is reached by the diagonal of the external escalators which, crossing the entire zigzag façade, give the building its visual signature.

The museum is divided into section too long for me to describe fully here but these are ,the National Museum of Modern Art and the Industrial Creation Center, the Public Library Information; the Atelier Brancusi, on the square, and the IRCAM at place Stravinsky square. A specific building houses the Institute for Research and Acoustic Coordination / Music, including a gauge room and variable acoustics, studios, anechoic chamber and a media library. the offices as well as certain activities are distributed in four buildings in the immediate vicinity of the center.

Beyond the controversies aroused by an architecture that appeared daring before finding its place in the landscape and in the urban fabric of Paris, the Centre Pompidou has quickly established itself as an important success in terms of attendance, thanks to an attractive diversified programming and with staggered opening hours. The Centre Georges Pompidou rehabilitated in France the museum concept, which was in a state of collapse at the time of its creation, and its success was at the origin of the proliferation of museum institutions in the 1980s and 1990s. Arts always Paris!

The official Centre Pompidou: https://www.centrepompidou.fr/en

The Paris tourist office on the Centre Pompidou: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71538/Centre-Pompidou

There you go folks another wonder of my Paris, in my belle France open to the world. And even if not my favorite (need to say this) it is a must to visit while in France! Centre Pompidou for what is due.

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

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September 15, 2021

A quick look at Pont L’Evêque!!

This is another of my road warrior trips going back and forth all over my belle France. I have not seen it all but working on it ! This is a find in my vault so the text is a new post, however, will do in my black and white series, no picture! I like to bring into my blog the quant old Pont-L’Evêque. This trip was about 2008. Hope you enjoy the post as it reminds me of former trips.

The town of Pont-l’Evêque is in the department of Calvados no 14 of the region of Normandie,sort of in between Caen and Rouen. We visited it coming down from Deauville on the road D677/D579 on our way to Lisieux. You can see these posts in my blog as well. In Jan 2019 it absorbed the town of Coudray-Rabut to create one town still under the name of Pont-l’Evêque. The new town extends mainly along the road D677/D579 ,which in itself is halfway between Deauville and Lisieux. You can, also, come on the A13 autoroute de Normandie to the A132 towards Deauville. There is a train station gare Pont-l’Evêque on the line Lisieux-Deauville.

A bit of history I like. n the Middle Ages, the town became an important administrative seat of the Viscount of Auge. Occupied by the English during the 15C, then affected by the Wars of Religion, Pont-l’Évêque then experienced an era of calm and prosperity. At the end of WW II, on August 24, 1944, after three days of fighting, the city, 65% destroyed, was liberated by the Allies.

What took our interest as my boys love was the Domaine du Houvre right off the D48 and A13 that takes you on the outside of Lisieux, This conservatory farm raises Norman farm breeds, say a total of 20 breeds of different domestic animals such as cows, goats, sheeps pigs etc. It has a nice nature trail for an interactive passion hike over 3 km, along the Touques river. Also, leisure team and carriage rides. It is seating right at the point of the Lac de Pont-l’Évêque or lake. Right at the lake there is a leisure water park with aquatics activities call Lac Terre d’Auge, All great for the country family in you and us ! There is a nice camping park next to it for fun activities and a nice vacation me think call the Terre d’Auge camping.

The Domaine du Houvre webpage: http://ecodomaineduhouvre.fr/UK/index.php

The lac Terre d’Auge webpage: https://loisirsnormandie.fr/lac-terre-d-auge

The Camping park Terre d’Auge webpage: https://www.terredauge-camping.fr/fr/

Some of the things to see in Pont-l’Evêque are :

The Church Saint Michel 15-16C located on the Place de l’Eglise. The Dominican Convent of Isle, 17C, which has now become the “Dominicans Cultural Space”, located on the Place du Palais-de-Justice. The City/Town Hall, former Hôtel de Brilly, at 58 rue Saint-Michel, Also, the wonderful half-timbered houses of the Vaucelles district , Interesting here since 1972, Pont-l’Évêque cheeses has benefited from a controlled designation of origin (AOC) and has contributed to Normandy’s reputation as a gourmet destination. On the grounds of the oldest Maison de Calvados, a new kind of museum puts visitors’ five senses to the test. Through seven rooms with unexpectedly realistic settings, the Calvados Père Magloire experience promises a fun journey through the centuries, from the Vikings to today, to learn more about the history of the department and the making of eau-de-vie which is the Calvados brandy, It is located at route de Trouville. This is great for a future visit,webpage: https://www.calvados-experience.com/en/

The town of Pont l’Evêque on its heritagehttps://www.pontleveque.fr/ma-ville/patrimoine/

The Terre d’Auge tourist office on Pont l’Evêquehttps://www.terredauge-tourisme.fr/fr/decouvrir/je-decouvre/pont-l-eveque/

There you go folks, another dandy off the beaten path of my belle France, These are road warrior towns because we passed rather quickly, will need to be back for an in depth look, Until then ,hope you enjoy this post on Pont l’Evêque as I

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

September 15, 2021

The other Royal towns of the Ïle de France region !!!

I had this idea and now updating this older post on a wonderful historical post I like, There is much written on these towns in my blog but need to specify these are were Royal Towns of France, specifically on the region of Ïle de France which includes much famous royal towns such as Paris and Versailles . As already plenty of pictures, this post will be on my black and white series ; hope you enjoy it as I, Some of these are very well known towns and others much less; but they are all wonderful towns visited umpteen times by yours truly. They deserve more folks to come and visit them, you will be pleasantly surprise. Therefore, here are the other Royal towns of the Ïle de France region !!! Bear with me please, its long but love the history of them all!!

The first one I like to tell you about is Rambouillet in my old department 78, Yvelines. It is about 45 kms from Paris and the road N10 takes you there easy or the train from Montparnasse in Paris.  The town is mentioned as far back as 768. However, it is best known for the residence since purchase a mansion castle there by king Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette ordered built a milking farm. However, it last not that long as the French revolution came around in 1789. Napoleon I in 1809 made restored the Castle where earlier king François Ier came to hunt and died here in 1547 on a tower now bearing his name. Napoléon III gets the train connection in 1849.  The castle was built between 1368 and 1384!  In 1815 Napoleon Ier passed his last nights in France before exile in Sainte Hélène and by 1830 the last king of France and younger brother of Louis XVI, Charles X escape from the Paris revolutionary upheavel of the Trois Glorieuses to arrived at Rambouillet castle , and later here he abdicated. The President Félix Faure makes the castle his summer residence in 1896. Until the end of 2009, it was the residence of the President of the French Republic (France) . You have here the Palais du Roi de Rome built in 1784 on orders of king Louis XVI as well to served as the government seat; the town now uses as a cultural center. You can see the Bergerie Nationale built in 1786 by king Louis XVI and now the museum of the lamb or musée du mouton. The  monument du Souvenir et de la reconnaissance, aka as the American monument or the American Eagle Monument by the old American military that participated in the town’s liberation in August 1944 was done outside of town on the route de Gazeran,in memory of the American soldiers fallen here in August 1944, the monument was unveiled  in 1947. One of my family fondest moment here was visiting the Rambolitran museum on train models which opened in 1984 showing the history of railroad from its origin to our days, and also toys and an reconstructed toys store from the 1930’s.

I continue our journey to the nice town compact on things to see but really nice and easy connection to Paris from gare Saint Lazare or the RER A trains. This is Poissy. One of the earliest cities of France, since 1200. It is old, main site of the Pincerais under the Merovingians kings and one of the oldest royal towns of France. Here, kings Louis IX (Saint Louis) and Philippe III were born ; before been overpassed in the 15C by Saint Germain en Laye. The roads A13,A14, D30, N13 D190 all passed and bypassed the town. A city always in the history books to modern times and a big crossroad of railways as well. You have things to see here such as  The Collegiale Church of Notre Dame (St Louis was baptized here ) a roman Church style from the 12C; the old bridge of Poissy first built in the 12C destroyed by English bombings in 1944; was a bridge of 410 meters long and 24 arches , now only three arches remain linking the left bank of the Seine river to an isle in the middle of the Seine river; it has been replaced by a new bridge just 300 meters next to it. The prairie Porterie is what is left of the old abbey of the Dominicans where the colloquial of Poissy was held, been founded by king Philippe le Bel in the 13C and destroyed in the 18C including the priory Church of Saint Louis. It is now housing the museum of toys or musée du jouet (very nice indeed) . The city hall or Hôtel de Ville is the old Cistercian convent dating from 1620  that was changed to a school in 1837; a new building was done in 1937 including a theater. The Pavillon de L’Octroi is an octagonal tower  built in 1830 replacing the old gate of Paris and now the tourist office . The nearby  Villa « Les Heures Claires », or aka as Villa Savoye work of architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret aka as Le Corbusier built between 1928 and 1931; the wonderful distillery of the liquor of Noyau de Poissy, with a store at the rue du Général-de-Gaulle. The old slaughterhouse of the Halle aux Veaux built in 1831 in the now place de la République, stop been used as such in 1870;now it is the host of a wonderful market inside and outside there. The Chateau de Villiers of Louis XIII style built with stone and brick in the 19C now houses since 1976 an events center; the Chateau de la Coudraie built in 1870, on rue de Migneaux, and housed personnel of the auto brand Simca in 1962. The Chateau de Bethemont modified in 1858 is today a golf park . The chapel of Saint Lazarus de la Maladrerie dating from 1120-1140 , the tower or tour de Bethemont built in the 14-15C, damaged in 1429 while the reconquest by Jeanne d’Arc and taken again by the English who made it without further use. The wonderful park or parc Meissonier 12 hectares along the Seine river and the avenue du Bon Roi Saint-Louis (road D 153).  It has English style garden with a lake , a rosary, theater and green house owned by the city since 1952 and renovated a part of the old abbey cloister. The parc de Villard next to the parc Meissonier and owned by the city since 1976 includes a castle, playground park and mini farm. Lovely town I tell you ; it must be seen more !

Ok so easy to come to the next town and one we visit quite often while living nearby,,,,We reach the magnificent Saint-Germain-en-Laye. only 20 km west of Paris. It was very closed to my old home in dept 78 Yvelines. The presence of a castle here one of the regular residence of the kings of France that loses out once king Louis XIV goes to Versailles, and the forest, royal hunting ground.  You have here the castles such as the Chateau-Vieux and ruins of the Chateau-Neuf (where Louis XIV was born) and the chateau of Hennemont (now international high school ; as well as wonderful museums such as the musée d’Archéologie nationale (inside the castle) , the musée du Prieuré and musée Claude Debussy. The road A13 exchange at Orgeval connects to the city as well as N184 and N13; trains as RER A and from gare Saint Lazarus in Paris. Anecdote, in 1919 the treaty of Saint Germain signed in one of the rooms of the castle established the peace between the Allies and Austria given to the end of the Austro-Hungarian empire and Hapsburgs.  There is a great number of mansion or hotel particulieres in town with a great architecture façade, and one of the most shoppers paradise city center/Downtown in all of France, over 700 stores. The Priory the old home of painter Maurice Denis houses since 1980 a museum dedicated to his work. The house was built in end of 17C by Madame de Montespan to installed a royal hospital of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The Chapel was decorated by  Maurice Denis.

How about  off the beaten path Houdan ! I bring you to the heart of the Yvelines dept 78; visitors should dare more to come to this wonderful places! This is another example of town that is not portrayed as Royal, but it is, go figure ! Houdan, 43 km from Versailles. The nice road N12 (free road) passes by the town as well as the Paris Montparnasse direction Granville train line that has stop at Houdan. The bit of history I like tells us that Houdan belongs to the Lords of Montfort from the 10C and later was added to the Duchy of Brittany!!! by marriage. It was disputed between the English and finally entered the royal domain with the marriage of king Louis XII and Anne of Brittany/Bretagne. Given by king Louis XIV to the Luynes family in exchange for lands closer to Versailles, and stayed with them until the French revolution. The fair or festival of Saint-Matthieu is done here every year for 2-3 days on the last weekend of September (Saint-Matthieu saint day is Sept 21). It is one of the oldest fairs in Europe with the first one going back to 1065,by the Count Amaury II de Montfort. If not at this time in town, go to see the St James and St Christopher Church , gothic style built in the 15-16C with a renaissance choir, and an organ originally from 1739. Also, the tower or donjon very visible as you entered the city by car .It is what remained of the old fortifications been built in the 13C by Count Amaury III de Montfort; a massive tower alone in the western part of the town with 25 meters high and 16 meters of diameter, flank by four smaller towers of 4,8 meters in diameter; it is used today as a water tower.

Next we move on to Fontainebleau  in Seine-et-Marne dept 77, the wonderful Fontainebleau castle spanning 34 monarchs and almost all the history of France. From Paris here from the gare de Lyon to the station that is actually in the town of Avon or the A6 road. Fontainebleau was just a village until 1528, when king François I returning from prison in Spain after losing the battle of Pavie in 1525 decided to built a castle here inspired by the Italian palaces. The rest as we say is French history, and the world. Other than the magnificent castle propery you can see here many mansions or hotel particulieres. There is also, the musée Napoléonien d’Art et d’Histoire Militaire ,in 8 rooms with weapons and uniforms going back to the 16C, the third most important museum in France for the subject display. Some of the works here were given directly by the Imperatrice Eugénie (Montijo of Belmonte, Castilla la Mancha Spain ,and wife of Napoléon III). There is ,also the musée des Arts Figuratifs with a collection of contemporary works by several painters; The town is an important center of the horse, housing the prestigious Centre sportif d’équitation militaire (CSEM) housed in the old stables of the castle, trained the mounted officers for competition. As well there is the Hippodrome de Fontainableau de la Solle . It is here at Bois le Roi  in Fontainebleau that in 1776 was held the first horse race on the English style in France. The first test was opened by king Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette of Austria; and the brother count of Artois (later king Louis XVIII) had his horse run in the race.

And great to mention this beauty in Seine-et-Marne dept 77, there is a small village call Maincy.The owners purchased these lands and built a castle on it. The village is still here and so is the castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte  (17C) and still in descendants hands semi private. Most people, even in travel forum still name the place as Vaux le Vicomte, but in reality the place is Maincy, ok.  Only 4 km from nearest town of Melun.  Before the castle, the Manufacture of Gobelins or manufacture des Gobelins was here, and was displaced to Paris by order of king Louis XIV after firing Nicolas Fouquet his superintendent of finances and first owner of Vaux-le-Vicomte; some said for jealousy and other for mishandling of State funds. Other than the castle, other things to see here in Maincy are the Saint Etienne (St Stephen) Church, the Maison des Carmes where the manufacture of Gobelins was, the the bridge at the place known as Three windmills or Trois-Moulins over the Almont river, famous because it was painted by Paul Cézanne under the title Pont de Maincy.  Who worked in the castle well, André Le Nôtre, Nicolas Poussin, Daniel Gittard, Charles le Brun and Louis Le Vau. The principal owner today is the Count Patrice de Vogüé.

Then, we go down south a bit on the region into magical Dourdan, about 44 km from Paris in the department 91 Essonne. This Celtic village later Gallo Roman town, birthplace of the Capetian kings and royal town from the 10C, is today known for its castle, 13C very well preserved.  The road A10 passes on the north of town before the tolls of Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines (that I always avoid lol!). You have the better road D836 crossing the town west to east and onwards to Etampes and Rambouillet. Also, the D838 goes up to Versailles and the D116 with a beltway going to Arpajon. You,also, have good train service on the line RER C and the TER Centre Val de Loire that passes by here too. There is a train station in town as well as the Dourdan-La Fôret servicing the RER C as terminus.

 The castle belongs to Hugues le Grand, Duke of the Franks that built this castle to his taste and died in it in 956. Also, here was born in 940, Hugues Capet founder of the dynasty of Kings and crowned himself in 987, so Dourdan can be called the foundation of the House of France, royal town since the 10C.  It was in 1220 that king Philippe Auguste decided to built a new castle here taking as a model, the Louvre. The donjon was 26 meters high which was impressive at the times. It was offered as a chic place to such folks as Blanche de Castille, Marguerite de Provence, Saint Louis, Louis d’Evreux, Jean I de Berry, Sully, favorite Anne de Pisseleu and Anne of Austria. The town had a Hôtel Dieu to welcome pilgrims .  In 1314, Jeanne II of Burgundy future queen of France was prisioner here. By 1340 it was completed the Chapel Saint Jean l’Evangéliste. The castle of Dourdan owned by Jean Ier de Berry since 1400 , and he ordered the construction of the ramparts. It passed thru many ravages of wars for many years and by 1562 king Henri II sold the property to the Duke de Guise, in the 17C by wish of his son king Louis XIII gives it to the queen Marie de Médicis. At the French revolution, the Church was ravage, enclosed and change into a temple of reason ,then prison, and finally brought back to a religious building in 1795. At the time, the castle was the property of the Duke of Orleans, and became a prison; in 1961 the castle is sold to the city. 

What else can you see here; well the Church St Germain d’Auxerre built along the lines of the Cathedral of Chartres in 1150 and finished in the 13C  with modifications in the 15C and 17C, the Church is 50 meters long by 18 meters wide, with a spiral tower at 50 meters, the bronze bell called “Germaine” dates from 1778 and weights 2300 kg, the portal gate on the north side is from the 15C, and there are wonderful paintings, sculptures  ; the Hôtel-Dieu with the chapel of Saint Jean l’Evangéliste or St John the Baptist; there is a vast hunting royal forest that became domain in 1870. The ramparts are still there since the Middle Ages, long of 1700 meters and with 24 towers, Four gates (Paris, Chartres, Etampes, and Puits des Champs) and three wells (Grouteau, Croix-Ferras, and Petit-Huis) ; today only remains some in the north, west, and east of the city, two towers on the blvd des Alliés, one tower on the trail of Laubier, and that tower or tour du Petit-Huis on rue de l’Étang.

 There are two other towns that are not royal towns but merit the distinction in my opinion. These are Jouarre and Maisons-Laffitte. Therefore, here is a bit on them too; and of course, plenty written on them in my blog.

The first one is Jouarre in Seine-et-Marne dept 77, not far from my wife’s native town of Meaux. This is where king Dagobert Ier created a palace school reuniting in court ,the highest dignitaries of the kingdom and gave them a culture and initiation of the royal administration. This is how Adon leave the king’s court to found a monastery at Jouarre becoming in time an abbey of double sense, men and women living in the same monastic order in the same place with separate buildings and all the founders on both sexes are in tombs there at the crypt of Saint Paul in the monastery of Jouarre, except those in the crypt of Saint-Ebrégésile, Caroligian origins and used as a Chapel until the 20C ,it has the tomb of Saint Ebrégésile, bishop of  Meaux  in the 7C, and brother of Sainte Aguilberte. The abbey of Notre Dame de Jouarre a Benedictine abbey of the 7C and still inhabited by them; it was destroyed during the French revolution in 1792 but rebuilt in 1837 . The Tour Romane, house a sisters store and traces the history of the abbey, shown a audiovisual projection on the monastic life. It is the example to see and know about the history of Jouarre.

You can see here the wonderful  musée de la Civilisation paysanne or the museum of the farmers’s life, in two rooms given by the abbey and families of the town you see agriculture hardware in all shapes and forms, and rural furniture all in the Chapel  Saint Martin above the crypts. Also, the St Peter and St Paul Church built in the 16C with many jewels and chases from the abbesse and other protector Saints, a Christ in wood 15C, pieta 15C, Christ in resurrection 16C, stained glass from the 17C and several statues and sculptures in stone. The relics are carried on the back of the faithful every year in procession of Pentecost. The Manoir de Nolongue, a farm kept intact from the middle of the 14C; the Domaine de Perreuse and its Castle of the 16C, here during the first Battle of the Marne in WWI, the castle was turned into the HQ of the allied commanders and one of the biggest military hospitals in the region, now it is a nursing home. Especially, the Fromagerie Ganot, one of the oldest if not the oldest brie cheese maker and tastings and visits available. Brie is from this region, unique, cheese of the kings, king of the cheeses , Vienna 1815. And carries the appellation of Meaux!

Last but not least we come back to the Yvelines dept 78, and Maisons-Laffitte. About 10 km from Saint Germain en Laye and 18 km from Paris.  It is on the left bank of the Seine river, and the forest of Saint Germain en Laye with an isle on the Seine river ,île de la Commune. Very well connected by road on the D308 linking Paris to Poissy and the train station Gare Saint Lazare as well as a RER A train line and regular train service J and L Transilien network. The bus 262 link Pont de Bezons and T2 that passes by the La Défense and to Porte de Versailles. The night bus Noctilien N152 link the train station here to Saint Lazare in Paris.

First mention of Maisons-Laffitte is around 1060, and the town is finally shape as still is around 1602  when Jean VIII de Longueil buys all the parts of the town. He was succeeded by his son René that was President of the Paris parliament and superintendent of finances in 1650-51 ; the castle was done on his request to François Mansart, uncle of Jules Hardouin Mansart who built Versailles a few years later.  The castle is big to welcome the King on his hunting days in the forest of Saint Germain, and for this reason the entrance is on the back of the Seine river in front of a grand avenue coming from the forest, construction begins around 1642 and finished in 1650.  There are many attempts to sell the castle , king Louis XIV stayed here in 1671 during the funeral of the Duke of Anjou, but only finally the castle is sold in 1777 to the Count of Artois brother of king Louis XVI and future Charles X that finished the decorations. After many attempts to embellished the castle and due to short cash and the subsequent French revolution makes the Count of Artois exiled in England and finally the castle is taken in 1792 during the French revolution, again sold in 1797 and again in 1804 to Marshal Lannes. The Castle is brought to the attention of Napoléon I, and the Marshal does more renovations including the gardens. After his death in 1809 in the battle of Essling, his wife Duchess de Montebello received the emperor and he ordered in 1810 the construction of the first bridge between Sartrouville and Maisons; by 1813 the emperatrice Marie-Louise also visits the castle and finally in 1818 the castle is sold to Jacques Laffitte.

Jacques Laffitte comes from modest background , carpenter, but quickly rises up. Governor of the Bank of France in 1814, opposing Charles X, he welcomes to the castle many adversaries and has great influence on the Revolution of 1830 (that ended monarchy in France with Charles X)  The same year he is named President of the Chamber of Deputies and once in throne king Louis Philippe I king of the French (but notice not of France) he is named President of the Council and minister of finances for the king. He goes thru a period of real estate development to create a new town, selling lots and building houses. Jacques Laffitte died on May 26 1844 not before building a town that now bears his name. The domain past to his daughter Albine that continues the sale of lots and finally sells the domain including the castle in 1850.  The castle is very nice and so is the town, we went there regularly and shop at the épicerie de Longueil a lot. Glorious !

There you go folks, a dandy of places to see in my belle France, Again plenty to read about these places in my blog, but figure a separate post as an introduction to them was good to read and visit ! These beauties are a must to visit, not only for its architecture but the history of France and even Europe is in them, Again, hope you enjoy the reading and thanks for following me since November 2010 !

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

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