France Trips


Silvja Helmanis



Main Attractions: Jardin (Palais) Saint Georges, Parc du Thabor, Place de la République, Hôtel de Ville at Place de la Mairie, Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Rennes, Portes Mordelaises, Tour Duchesne, Hôtel de Blossac, Rue du Chapitre, Basilique Saint-Sauveur, Parlement de Bretagne, Le Champs Libres.

Distance: 12 km. Duration: 3/4 - 1 day. Weather: no rain or wind. Start and End: Gare de Rennes.

Introduction: Rennes is the capital of the region of Brittany. Rennes is a medium size town and well worth a visit.  BUT, during the years 2016-2018 it is under heavy construction works (underground lines) which makes a little damage to its lustre and young appeal. and It has more than 200,000 inhabitants, of whom about 60,000 are students. This gives the town a vibrant nightlife: a ‘city with a small town vibe’. Rennes is a perfect blend of city and small town life. It is considered as the best city in France for foreigners to live - beating the likes of Lyon, Nice, and yes, even Paris. Most people thoughts inevitably go to Paris, and then perhaps to the sunny French Riviera. But in a quality of life - this humble city in Brittany in western France came out as the surprise winner. French voters pointed on Rennes as an excellent place to live for foreigners (and French people as well, of course). Ther city has an exceptional historical heritage. It is welcoming and diverse. Rennes is a lively university and student city that is accustomed to opening the door to foreigners. There are parts of Rennes that are quite similar to Montmartre (in Paris), with lots of bars and cafes. But, of course it’s not as expensive as Paris. In 2018, L'Express named Rennes as "the most liveable city in France". Some streets, such as the Rue Saint Michel, have only bars on both sides. (The locals actually call it "la rue de la soif", which means "Street of Thirst". The most exciting night on "Rue de la Soif" would be the "Jeudi Soir", Thursday nights, during the universities terms. Jeudi Soir is the night when bars are most often packed with students. The sights on Thursday nights out on the town are very memorable and interesting. Rennes is particularly nice in early July, during the "Festival des Tombées de la Nuit". Its streets are then full of people enjoying the free street entertainment and eating or drinking at the terraces of the restaurants and cafés. In recent years, Rennes's bars and cafes are bustling all throughout the year. There are more than 70,000 students in Rennes. it is the eighth-largest university campus in  France. Rennes is now a significant digital innovative centre in France. Now, it is the tenth largest in France.

Short History: Rennes's history goes back more than 2,000 years, at a time when it was a small Gallic village. It was one of the major cities of the ancient Duchy of Brittany. From the early 16th century until the French Revolution, Rennes was a parliamentary, administrative and garrison city of the historic province of Brittany of the Kingdom of France. Due to the presence of the Parlement de Bretagne, many "hôtels particuliers" were built, and still exist, in the northern part, the richest in the 18th century. The Parlement de Bretagne is the most famous 17th century building in Rennes. It was rebuilt after a terrible fire in 1994. Since the 1950s, Rennes has grown in importance and increased its number of inhabitants through plans to accommodate upwards of 200,000 inhabitants. During the 1980s, Rennes became one of the main centres in telecommunication and high technology industry.  

Our Hotel: Hotel ibis Styles Rennes Centre Gare Nord, 15 Place de la Gare. Opposite the railway station, bus station and metro and 10 minutes’ walk from the historic city centre and Parlement de Bretagne. 

Our 1-day itinerary: From Hotel ibis Styles Rennes Centre Gare Nord we head northwest on Place de la Gare toward Avenue Jean Janvier, 50 m. We turn right onto Avenue Jean Janvier. Walk 500 m. northward (passing Rue Albery Aubry, Rue Descartes, Boulevard de la Liberté and Rue Saint Thomas on your left). Note at #7 Avenue Jean Janvier this building  of the municipality of Rennes. The building dates from 1928. Its architect is Jean Poirier who built several other housing buildings in Rennes between 1928 and 1936. The mosaics are of Isidore Odorico:

We return back (south) to the intersection of Avenue Jean Janvier and Rue Saint Thomas and turn RIGHT (west) (our face to the south) onto Rue Saint-Thomas, 200 m. Turn right onto Rue du Capitaine Alfred Dreyfus, 160 m. Captain Alfred Dreyfus street connects Emile Zola quay to the north and Carmes street to the south. Alfred Dreyfus was victim, in 1894, of a miscarriage of justice which is at the origin of a major political crisis of the beginnings of the Third Republic, the Dreyfus scandal upset the French society during twelve years from 1894 to 1906. The scandal began in December 1894 with the treason conviction of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Alsatian and Jewish descent. Sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly communicating French military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris, Dreyfus was imprisoned on Devil's Island in French Guiana, where he spent nearly five years. Dreyfus was judged in Rennes, in the premises of the high school (today high school Émile Zola ) from August to September 1899. The affair is often seen as a modern and universal symbol of injustice. Open letter published in a Paris newspaper in January 1898 by famed writer Émile Zola blamed the French society in an horrible injustice. In 1906 Dreyfus was exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French Army. He served during the whole of World War I, ending his service with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He died in 1935. Alfred Dreyfus was appointed Knight of the Legion of Honor on July 20, 1906, then promoted to Officer of the Legion of Honor on July 9, 1919.  We shall zig-zag, here, to get better vies of the Vilaine river in Rennes. Turn left onto Quai Emile Zola, 110 m. It bears the name of the French writer Émile Zola (see above), born in Paris on April 2 , 1840 and died in Paris on September 29 , 1902. This road is a quay of the Vilaine river stretching between the Place de la République (west)nand the Place de Joseph Loth . Located on the left (south) bank of the river, it faces the Chateaubriand wharf to its north side. The Parlement de Bretagne is not far from here (to our north-west) - but, we'll return to this building later.  We walk 300 m. to our next destination - Jardin Saint Georges. Head east on Quai Emile Zola toward Rue Léonard de Vinci, 150 m. Turn left onto Place Pasteur, 85 m. Turn right onto Rue Kléber, 5 m. Turn left 55 m.and face Jardin  & Palais Saint Georges. The Saint George Palace, 2 rue Gambetta (It is served by the Métro station République) was built in 1670 to replace a much older abbey building that stood on the same site. The Benedictine Abbey of Saint George (Abbaye Saint-Georges de Rennes) was closed in 1792 during the French Revolution and the property was seized by the government. Since 1930 the building has been listed as a monument historique of France. It is situated in the Thabor-Saint Hélier quarter of Rennes. The building now  houses the fire services for the city and other civil administrative offices. The front facade of the building consists of a long gallery of nineteen two-storey windows and paired nineteen granite arches. A landscaped formal garden, Jardin Saint-Georges, is situated in front of the building, with gravel paths leading to the main entrance. There are benches in the garden in front of the building where you can sit,to admire the garden. A heaven in the center of the town:

We continue walking NORTHWARD along Rue Gambetta - crossing Place de la Motte on our right. When we arrive to Place saint Melaine and see the church of Notre Dame St. Melaine on our right - we turn right to enter Parc du Thabor. Its name refers to a mountain overlooking Tiberias' lake in Israel , Mount Thabor. The main feature of Parc du Thabor is its mix of: a French garden , an English garden and a large botanical garden. Access to the park is through six entrances. It is served by lines C3 and 44 , stop Thabor; the nearest metro station is Sainte-Anne. The park is open all year. The park was, mainly, enhanced between 1866 and 1868 by the contributions of Denis Bühler by setting up various areas as: bowling , "hell", French gardens and English gardens . At the beginning of the 20th century, the southern part of the park, called "les Catherinettes", was built as an extension of the English garden. It reflects the idea of ​​the time of a "school garden". You'll admire the considerable maintenance to meet the criteria of a highly structured garden with floral decoration elaborated and varied in the species used according to the seasons and and the expectations of regulars and tourists alike.

1)The square Du Guesclin .
2) Hell (the RED area) .
6) French gardens (the PINK area).
4+5+7) The botanical garden and the rose garden .
8) The landscaped garden of Denis Bühler (the LIGHT GREEN area).
2+3) The Catherinettes.

The entrance is marked by a monumental portal, bearing the arms of Rennes. It is a work of Jean-Baptiste Martenot which replaced the grid previously executed by Vincent Boullé, Rennes' municipal architect during the Restoration:

The first sight (from the west entrance) is the July column (La Colomne de Juillet) of the Du Guesclin square completely renovated, in 2014.

The Guesclin square is, actually, a trapezoidal lawn with a promenade bordered with chestnut trees:

 The rest of the park includes an aviary, performance spaces, walking/running paths, formal gardens, recreational fields, a nicely-equipped children's playing park, greenhouses and specimen garden/nursery. Formal and informal lawns and flower-beds.  Wonderful statues and fountains. Variety of trees from large sequoias to Ginko Bilobas. Huge rose garden (make a visit during the blooming season !). During a sunny weekends, it could be a bit BUSY. Better, visit it during weekdays. Loads of space to relax and wander around. One of the best parks in France:

A monument in tribute to the Breton poet Glenmor adorns the junction between the English garden, hell and the bowling greens. June 27 , 1998:

Dovecote - a structure intended to house pigeons or doves:

The park's gardens are built on many levels with water features: lakes, ponds, waterfalls and fountains:

Amazing flower-beds, fantastic colours, and huge variety of plants:

the Rose garden in the east side is stunning (come in June-July):

Le Jardin Botanique - Sibirian Iris:

We loved these innovations !!!:

We make the whole way back south to the Vilaine river - all in all 1 km. From Tabor Park or Place Saint-Melaine we head south, 190 m. Turn right toward Rue Martenot, 30 m. Turn left toward Rue Martenot, take the stairs, 45 m. Turn right onto Rue Martenot, 170 m. Continue onto Rue Victor Hugo, 130 m. Turn left onto Contour de la Motte, 10 m. Continue onto Rue Gambetta, 200 m (the Palais Saint George on your left) and continue onto Place Pasteur, 45 m. Arriving to the Vilaine river - turn RIGHT (west) onto Quai  Châteaubriand. Walk 300 m. westward along  Quai Châteaubriand (following the yellow sign of  "Place Saint-Germain") and turn left at Rue Jean Jaurès, 35 m. Turn right onto Place de la République, 100 m.

Place de la République is a mighty square, served by the République metro station, the most central of the line, is a crossing point for many STAR bus lines, including lines that take a moment, either to the east or to the east. west, the quays of the Vilaine on both sides of the square. Its southern side consists mainly of the Palace of Commerce, being a gate between the northern part and the southern part of the city. It is bounded by the Lamartine Quay to the north and south by the Palais du Commerce, begun in 1890. Under the square, the Vilaine river flows. The creation of the rectangular square was undertaken by the cover of the Vilaine river in 1912 and 1913 under the leadership of Mayor Jean Janvier. A white stone wall surmounted by candelabrum lampposts with three branches surrounds the square. It's THE TRANSPORT HUB of Rennes when it comes to taking a bus. Overwhelmed by the local company Star's vehicles, the Place de la République will "lose" some of its lines in the years to come. The city wants to reduce bus traffic in the square in 25% - during the years to come:

We return walking northward, still moving from the east to the west. Our next destination is the town hall in Rennes. Head north and continue onto Rue d'Orléans, 90 m. Continue onto Place de la Mairie and the Hôtel de Ville at Place de la Mairie is on the left. The Opera is on the opposite side. The Town Hall itself is a nice building. There is a small chapel dedicated to those people from Rennes who have lost their lives in various wars that the French have fought in:

Head north on Place de la Mairie toward Rue de l'Hermine, 65 m. Turn left onto Rue de l'Hermine, 75 m. Continue onto Rue Duguesclin, 80 m. Turn left onto Place Saint-Sauveur, 15 m. Turn right onto Rue Saint-Sauveur (note: Basilique Saint-Sauveur, see photo below), 120 m. 

Basilique Saint-Sauveur:

Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Rennes is in front of you. The existing façade with its neoclassical granite towers in four stages was constructed during the 16th and 17th centuries. Rebuilding began in 1787, shortly after which the French Revolution began and all work was suspended. It did not recommence until 1816, initially under the supervision of the architect Mathurin Crucy. He died in 1826; the work was continued under the local architect Louis Richelot, and finished in 1845. The building was badly damaged during World War II. On the imposing facade,you can admire the French weapons and the sun, the emblem of Louis XIV and symbols of royal power. Note: the Cathedral is closed between 12.00 and 15.00:

Pop in behind the cathedral (to the west of the church) into Rue des Portes Mordelaises - where you can see the Portes Mordelaises. A castle entrance gate with two towers, defended by a drawbridge and featuring two smaller gates for carriages and pedestrians, once led to Mordelles. This symbolic setting was where the future Dukes of Brittany swore an oath to defend Brittany's freedoms. The medieval walls to the west were built on the site of a third-century wall. An artillery platform was added on the fortified gateway (or barbican) to protect this entrance to Rennes. It was a nice surprise to see the old city entrances retained and so well preserved:

Portes Mordelaises - Half-timbered houses in Rue des Portes Mordelaises:

Head northwest on Rue des Portes Mordelaises toward Rue de Juillet, 55 m.  Turn left onto Rue de Juillet, 25 m. Turn left onto Place du Bas des Lices, 30 m. Slight left to stay on Place du Bas des Lices and 15 m. further you see the Gout et Gourmandise restaurant, 5 Place du Bas des Lices, on your left. Divine crêpes and galettes, hot chocolate and hot soups. VERY friendly staff members. ost of the crêpe ARE GLUTEN FREE (as in most places in Bretagne / Brittany). Very authentic place to enjoy the culinary delights of Brittany:

We continue to Tour Douchesne. We take the Rue Nantaise with our face to the south. On our left we see the old walls and ramparts of Rennes with Tour Douchesne. Tour Duchesne is an old tower dating from the 15th century, it is located near the Mordelaises gates we've seen before. The tower derives its name from Jehan du Chesne, who was the first inhabitant of the tower, who was responsible for the opening and closing of the gates of the city. The tower is part of the original city walls, which date back to the 3rd century, but were rebuilt between 1447 and 1459. Today it is integrated into the Artillery Hotel:

We loved the promenades along the river in Rennes. So, we opted NOT for the shortest routes in our visit - BUT for the most romantic pieces of walk. Continue walking south along Rue Nantaise toward Place Maréchal Foch. Continue straight onto Place Maréchal Foch, 45 m. Turn right onto Mail François Mitterrand/Place Maréchal Foch and continue following Mail François Mitterrand for 90 m. Turn left (south) onto Quai d'Ille et Rance, 15 m. Turn left (east) onto Pont de Bretagne, 130 m. 

Continue onto Quai Lamennais, 30 m. Turn left onto Place de Bretagne, 5 m. Turn right onto Quai Lamennais, 40 m. Slight left toward Quai Duguay Trouin for additional 40 m. Turn left toward Quai Duguay Trouin, 15 m. Turn right onto Quai Duguay Trouin, 20 m. Turn left (NORTH) onto Rue le Bouteiller, 50 m. Continue onto the narrow Rue Georges Dottin with your face to the north, 60 m.  The Cathedral is on your left. Turn right (east) onto Rue du Chapitre and beyond 90 m. you see, on your left, the Hôtel de Blossac in 6 Rue du Chapitre. Now, office of the direction régionale des Affaires culturelles. The building, which has two main wings, was constructed in 1728. A fire in 1720 had destroyed much of the city of Rennes. The architect is said to have been Jacques Gabriel. The building has a unique classical architecture for Brittany, including its size, the assembly of several architectural components, and its grand staircase. It was private hôtel particulier for, approx., 50 years from 1947. FROM 1982 the apartments gave way to offices. It houses, now the Direction régionale des affaires culturelles (DRAC, Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs of Brittany) and the Territorial Service of architecture and heritage of Ille-et-Vilaine:

Note the houses and buildings in Rue du Chapitre: many of them are half-timbered and/or with sculptures. It starts with Café Babylone in the west and ends, in the east, with Rue de Montfort. This street was not attacked by the fire of 1720 and the buildings are, for the most part, of the 17th century. Note, at #3, the Hotel de Brie. You can also see, in the courtyard of the Escu de Runefaut hotel, at  #5, a pretty wooden staircase with turned balusters. Note the house in #20:

In  the middle of Rue du Chapitre, in the intersection with Rue de la Psalette (#1 Rue de la Psalette) - you see this house with small sculptures:

11-13 Rue du Chapitre - Eleven Art Gallery:

In the east end - turn left to Rue de Montfort. Attention, on your left, the Basilique Saint-Sauveur. Its foundation, under the name of Saint-Sauveur, predates the twelfth century. Extended several times and rebuilt in the early eighteenth century:


Turn right (east) to the impressive Rue Duguesclin (impressive and quaint road). In this part of the city, many inner courtyards remain invisible from the street. From Rue Duguesclin turn left (north) to Rue Chateaurenault. Continue north-east with Rue du Champ Jacquet. Here, you see the sculpture of Leperdit - Mayor of Rennes, 1794-5:

Return back (your face to the south) to Rue Chateaurenault. Turn LEFT (EAST) to Rue La fayette and continue walking along this road. It continues eastward as Rue Nationale. Walk until the eastern end of Rue Nationale and turn LEFT (north) to the narrow and atmospheric Rue Salomon de Brosse. Here, stands the famous Parliament of Brittany. The road bears the name of Salomon de Brosse  (1571 - 1626) - the architect of Parlement de Bretagne (1617) (also architect of the Palace of Luxembourg in Paris). It has survived the ages untroubled. It was spared in the great fire of 1720, only to be partly burnt down in 1994. It now houses the Rennes Court of Appeal, the natural successor of the Parlement. Inside, the Parlement building boasts prestigious French-style ceilings, sculpted gilded wood panelling and allegorical paintings, culminating in the magnificent Grand Chambre, or main chamber. Prices: adult - € 7.20, concessions - € 4.60, 7-18 years - € 4.60 €. Parliament's opening hours change regularly. Visiting this building is NOT easy. You must  contact the Tourist Information Office on 02 99 67 11 66 to arrange a conducted tour in advance.... Exact schedule / opening hours and admission payments - at the Rennes Tourism Office:

The Parlement de Bretagne is our last attraction in Rennes. We return to the new section of the city with our face to the south. Our final destination will be a marvelous shopping centre in Rennes. Full with restaurants, supermarkets and... the Museum of Brittany, Espace des sciences and le Théâtre National de Bretagne. Head south on Rue Salomon de Brosse toward Rue Nationale, 35 m. Turn left onto Place du Parlement de Bretagne, 70 m. Continue eastward onto Rue Victor Hugo, 160 m. Turn right (south) onto Contour de la Motte, 10 m.  Continue southward onto Rue Gambetta, 200 m. Continue onto Place Pasteur, 90 m. We keep on walking southward. Continue onto Avenue Jean Janvier, 450 m. Turn RIGHT (west) onto Rue Albert Aubry, 80 m. You face the Museum of Brittany. Le Champs Libres is on your left, extending further west along  Cours des Alliés. Metro: Charles de Gaulle. A WONDERFUL ATTRACTION. Ggreat spaces. Interesting new architecture. The Museum's Opening hours: TUE - FRI: School periods : 12.00 to 19.00, Half term holidays : 10.00 to 19.00, July & August : 13.00 to 19.00, SAT - SUN: 14.00 to 19.00. Closed:  Mondays and bank holidays. The Museum of Brittany is, usually, closed during the first two weeks every SEP. FREE - first Sunday of every month. Prices: adult - 6 €, concessions (under 18 years old) - 4 €.

It is a 300 m. walk to the Railway Station. Walk east on Cours des Alliés toward Boulevard Magenta. Turn right onto Boulevard Magenta, 190 m. Turn left onto Avenue Jean Janvier and Place de la Gare and the station is  on the right.


Silvja Helmanis



Main Attractions: Château de Vitré, Rue de la Baudrière, Rue de la Poterie,  Norte Dame Church, Promenade du Val, Rue de la Bridolle, Rue Sévigné, Rue d'en Bas, Place Saint-Yves, Rue du Château. District of Rachapt (optional detour).

Duration: 1/2 day. Distance: 3-4 km. Weather: any weather.

Our Hotel: Minotel, 47 rue de la Poterie, 35500 Vitre. Low-budget, good sleep, convenient beds, quiet, a small room, friendly owner, good breakfast, charming decor, no sockets.  61 euros/couple including breakfast. The reception is closed everyday 13.00 - 15.30.

The cat of Hotel Minotel, Vitré:

Orientation: Go to Vitré for no crowds and excellent photo , opportunities. Vitré is perhaps the most impressive medieval town in Brittany. It is one of the few places in France where you can see a complete Gothic style town. With its small sheer size and its narrow roads - Vitré can be explored within a few hours. At nightfall Vitré is illuminated and in 2000 won an award for its night time illuminations. Note: the town is very rainy and exposed to storms. Market days are Monday and Saturday mornings until 14.00 for Vitré and are held on the square in front of the church of Notre Dame. The town is very clean, lots of little shops (not touristic shops) and restaurants, very helpful and friendly locals. Most of your walk will be along cobbled-stones alleys. The architecture in Vitré is largely unspoilt and it is very enjoyable to just wander and marvel. The town is quite compact. The streets are narrow and cobbled so there is very little traffic to worry about and you can walk all over it in 1-2 hours if you don’t stand around too long. BUT, we recommend allowing 3-4 hours for the town. You can get a little map of the key sites from the Tourist Office at the railway station. The inner courtyard of the chateau is free to visit as are the local buses.

Introduction: About 25 kilometres east of Rennes. Vitre is 275 km from Paris. In 1999, Vitré obtained the label "Town of Art and History" because of its rich cultural inheritance. The town's monuments attract many tourists each year. Vitré is a perfect example of a town of 500 years ago - with its houses with porch or timber-framed, its ramparts, its religious heritage, old streets, etc. Many 15th and 16th century buildings remained much as they were in the days when it was one of the most powerful towns in Brittany. A significant part of the original ramparts of the town is also still intact.

History: The site of Vitré was occupied in Gallo-Roman times. Around year 1000 a small wooden castle, on a feudal mound, was built on the Sainte-Croix hill. The castle was burned down on several occasions. A stone castle was built in 1070 by Robert Ier on the current site, on a rocky outcrop dominating the Vilaine's river valley. Certain parts of the original stone castle are still visible today. In the 13th century, the castle was enlarged and equipped with robust towers and curtain walls. During this period the church of Nôtre-Dame, developed on the eastern side of Vitré. The city was encircled by fortified ramparts and ditches. Since the 13th century, Vitré has integrated together all of the elements of the traditional medieval city: a fortified castle, religious buildings, churches, colleges, and suburbs. In the 15th century, the castle was transformed from a military post to become a comfortable residence for Jeanne of Laval-Châtillon and her son Anne de Montmorency. At the same time, many half-timbered houses and private mansions were built inside the city. These medieval districts are characterized by their sturdy timber frame construction and their narrow, dark streets, as well as by a network of lanes. The fronts of the houses are made either of half-timbering or stone. They protected pedestrians from bad weather, and they channeled rainwater into the central gutters, helping preserve the wooden facades. The names of the Vitré's streets often originated from the trade guilds in the region. Vitré's economy flourished during the Renaissance as any city in Brittany. The merchants built large private mansions with ornate Renaissance decorations that are still visible today with the city walls. During the 17th century the city lost much of its vitality, becoming a town of secondary importance. This situation lasted through 18th century and until the arrival of the railroad in the middle of the 19th century. To prepare for the arrival of the railroads, the city decided to destroy the southern fortifications of the city to open up the closed city and to improve visibility. Vitré has been a railway hub since the first lines were opened on 15 April 1857 on the Paris-Brest line. Vitré did not suffer massive destruction during the two World Wars, and preserved its historical inheritance. In the aftermath of the Second World War, Vitré experienced an economic boom along with the rest of France. The population of Vitré expanded from 8,212 inhabitants in 1931 to around 19,000 in 2018.

From Gare de Vitré to Chateau de Vitré - 450 m. easy walk: Head west on Place du Général de Gaulle, 25 m. Turn right to stay on Place du Général de Gaulle, 35 m. On your left the Office de Tourisme de Vitré. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Prom. Saint-Yves, 260 m. Turn right onto Place Saint-Yves, 20 m. Turn left onto Rue Rallon, 95 m. Turn right at Place Galbrun, 45 m. In front of you - Vitre Chateau or Château de Vitré, Place St-Yves. Dating from the 13th century, the castle, with its pointy slate turrets, hosted the Parlement de Bretagne on three occasions in the 16th century when plague ravaged Rennes. These days it houses a museum with an extensive range of sculptures and artworks from the region, mostly paintings, sculpture and tapestries from the 16th and 17th centuries. The museum which is housed in the castle has been built in 1876 by Arthur de La Borderie, a Vitreans Historian to provide an encyclopedic history of the period. Opening hours: July & August: Everyday from 10.00m to 18.00, April, May, June & September: Everyday from 10.00 to 12.30 am and 14.00 to 18.00, March & October: Everyday from 10.30 to 12.30 am and from 14.00 to 17.00, January, February, November & December: Everyday from 10.30 to 12.30 am and from 14.00 to 17.00 BUT closed on Tuesdays (all the day) and on Saturdays and Sundays mornings. Prices (pricey !): adult : 6 €, concessions : 4 €, Free -12. As we said before - the inner court is open for FREE visit. The castle, an imposing building with many towers inset in the high walls and reached across a drawbridge, surely competes with Chateau de Jumilhac in the Dordogne for being the castle with the most pointed turrets. Wonderful for those of us who like old military architecture. The Chateau is unusual in that, with its attached buildings, it has been built in a triangular pattern. This is because of the shape of the raised rocky area it was built on. The Mairie of Vitré is housed in one of the buildings in the Chateau complex - wander into the triangular courtyard to see the lovely building. Well, the castles in Fougeres and fortifications in Dinan are BETTER than the ones in Vitré ! NOT MUCH to see in the various rooms (or halls) - but fun to climb around and enjoy the view from the windows. It is all in French with no English explanations or audio guide. NOTE: to exit the castle - press the white wide button and DO NOT use the bar-code ticket (see below):

You use the ticket's bar code to scan at the door on the building on the left to enter. You scan every other room' door with your bar code ticket (7 different rooms). Each floor is a mini museum on its own. The spiral stairs are beautiful but do be careful when it's wet. There's one level where you can walk around the tower. My guess is it was once used as a watch tower to look out for enemies. The 1st floor has a small collection of artifacts. The second floor is the bedroom. Then you have the watch tower. Then another bedroom. The very top floor is a circular room with some beautiful oil paintings of the castle and surrounding areas. Then you head down to one of the levels to get across to the other 2 towers in the north side, which have more artifacts. The last one used to be a chapel and it has religious artifacts left behind. Unfortunately, the other wing is used as the city (Mairie) hall with no public entry.

The Museum:

View from the castle windows - in the centre - Restaurant La place: 

Vitré old city houses from the castle windows and turrets:

1st floor:

2nd floor:

View from the 2nd floor to the inner court:

Views from the 3rd floor:

3rd floor wooden ceiling and coupola:

Château de Vitré in a sunny day:

In the south-west corner (outside) of the castle - there  is a splendid viewing platform:

The Place du Château, outside (east to) the castle, used to be the castle forecourt where stables and outbuildings were. It is now a car park that properly shows off one of the most imposing castles in France. We dined in La Place Restaurant, 8 Place du Château. 10.50 euros for the main portion/person. Good quality Plat du Jour. Efficient, professional service. Modern looking restaurant. Expect full capacity and heavy traffic in the rush hours - with loads of tourist groups. Check the parking lot - before sampling this restaurant. Stunning view of the castle from the dining hall (partial) and the terrace.

The strong point of this city is its historic centre as a whole. The town is basically north of the train station and there are signs around for touristy locations so you won't get lost. A superb, well preserved historic town centre. The most atmospheric street in Vitré is Rue de la Baudrière (street of people who worked with leather), where you’ll find grand high-rise half-timbered houses (colombage). These were built by merchants who made their money from the cloth trade; the town had a thriving canvas industry from the 14th century. They look like they belong in Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley. So we head to the southern end of Rue de la Baudrière. From Vitre Chateau - head northwest toward Rue Rallon, 45 m. Turn left onto Rue Rallon, 95 m. Turn right onto Place Saint-Yves, 20 m. Turn left onto Prom. Saint-Yves, 180 m. Turn left onto Rue de la Baudrairie:

If you walk along Rue de la Baudrairie from south to north-  Rue de la Poterie (Pottery Street) is the second to the right (east). Rue de la Poterie is also worth a look for its preponderance of ‘porch houses’, whose first floors extend over the street creating an arcade underneath. Rue de la Poterie is the only street in Vitré on which such a large number of half-timbered houses, also known as porch houses or overhangs, remain intact. Note particularly the house of Isle, at the intersection of rue Poterie Street and rue Sévigné, double corbelling (east end of Rue de la Poterie). these overhangs created a covered market alley perfect for displaying produce. We'll return to Rue de la Poterie later in this itinerary (see below):

From the north-east end of Rue de la Poterie (where it meets Rue Sévigné -  you turn left onto Rue Duguesclin, 65 m.  Turn left onto Rue Notre Dame and walk 110 m. to find Church of Our Lady of Vitre on your right. The Norte Dame Church is well worth entering and looking upwards to the fascinating ceiling paintings and stunning stained glass windows. The attractive 15th century Church of Notre-Dame is quickly recognizable because of its decorated spire. Don't overlook this church because the castle is the principal monument in Vitré. The spiritual life was immensely important . The Basilica of Vitre is dedicated to Our Lady and responds to a common model of the region. It was built during the last medieval period, so the Gothic style dominates the construction. Although being dated near the Renaissance, the finishing is simpler than in other churches of the same period. The church also contains interesting items including an impressive stained glass windows. Note: the Gothic style south side is the most interesting part of the cathedral so don't rush straight in the front entrance without looking around the outside !  Another tip: near the church - there is an a viewing terrace with a wonderful view of the town and the surrounding fields.

From the Church of Our Lady of Vitre (Notre Dame) - we continue east on Rue Notre Dame toward Rue Saint-Louis, 180 m. Continue onto Place de la République, 35 m. Here, the weekly market takes palce. Here, stands the Post office building:

At the intersection of Place de la republique (its south-west edge) and Rue Notre Dame, with you face to Rue Notre Dame - you can turn RIGHT (north) and walk along Promenade du Val to see the majestic ramparts of Vitre. The ramparts of Vitré are the fortifications built between the 13th and 17th centuries to protect the town of Vitré and Brittany against the French Kingdom. The city was located near the Breton border, near Maine, Anjou and Normandy. They cover a length of 500 m long and 200 m width. The fortifications of the thirteenth century are the best preserved in Brittany. The ramparts were built in 1240 by Baron Andrew III and reinforced with the development of artillery in the 15th century. Vitré was a Protestant city, rich and prosperous. But during the religious wars, attacks by the Catholic leagues destroyed a part of the towers and ramparts east of the ancient city. At the end of the 16th century, a bastion was built in 1591. The fortifications were destroyed in the south in the 19th century to connect the old town with the modern neighborhood. The towers you see from south to north are: Tour des Prisonniers, Tour Doré, Tour du Géomètre, Tour Rompue or Tour de la Fresnaye:

When you arrive to the north end of Promenade du Val - turn RIGHT (north-east) (here, you see the Bastion), and, again, RIGHT (south) to return back via Rue de l'Éperon - Back to Place de la Republique. Here, turn RIGHT to meet, again, Rue Notre Dame. Turn LEFT (south) to Rue de la Bridolle. Here, we can see the famous Tour de la Bridole (or Tour du Coin or Tour du Marché). The tower of the Bridole is built in the 13th century. It has three levels with archers still visible but only from the inside. The tower is not accessible except during guided tours, Heritage Days , and exhibitions. The lack of access to the floors does not allow a wide opening to the public:

After arriving to the southern end of Rue de la Bridolle we turn right onto Rue de la Borderie, 100 m. Turn right onto Rue Duguesclin, 50 m. Turn left (again) onto Rue de la Poterie, 35 m:

Slight left onto Rue Sévigné, 50 m. Walk down along Rue Sévigné from north-east to south-west: marvelous wooden houses, some of them with striking  bold colors:

Between Borderie Street (main facade, south side and garden side) and Sévigné Street stands Hotel de Sevigne. The mansion dates from the 18th century. It was built by the Hay family of Nétumières in 1750 at the southern fortifications, on the house of the Sévigné tower, property of Madame de Sévigné (Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, Marquise de Sévigné, born Feb. 5, 1626 in Paris - died April 17, 1696 in Grignan, French writer whose correspondence is of both historical and literary significance, of old Burgundian nobility):

Head southwest on Rue Sévigné toward Rue Garengeot, 20 m. Continue onto Rue de la Tremoille, 80 m. Turn right (again) onto Rue de la Baudrairie, 35 m. Turn left onto Rue d'en Bas. At #1 Rue d'en Bas stands a red wooden house with the sign of "Au Vieux Vitré": a well-reputed restaurant: 

Rue d'en Bas is fluent with colorful wooden houses. We walk along this road from east to west until it ends with Place Saint Yves.

#5 Rue d'en Bas:

#19-21 Rue d'en Bas:

More wooden houses in Rue d'en Bas:

#30 Rue d'en Bas:

#32-34 Rue d'en Bas:

End of Rue d'en Bas and entering Place saint-Yves:

Place Saint-Yves is THE place for festivals, concerts and spectacles in Vitré. From this impressive square you get another insight of ancient Vitré walls:

We RETURN northward to Rue de la Baudrière:

The third turn to the left is Rue du Château:

La ville de Vitré a ses Heroes:

Here, we returned to Rue de la Baudrière - to our Minotel hotel.

In case you have time and you are, still, in fit- make a detour to Rachapt (1.5 - 2 km. walk both directions).  You have to repeat several roads, we've already explored, to pave you way to Rachapt. From Rue de la Baudrière - turn right onto Rue d'en Bas, 120 m. Continue onto Place Saint-Yves, 40 m. Continue onto Rue Rallon,150 m. Turn right onto Rue des Augustins, 40 m. Turn left onto Rue Pasteur, 150 m. Slight left onto Rue du Rachapt. On the north side outside the 13th-century town walls is the district of Rachapt, where old stone cottages are built into the slopes. The area is reached through St Pierre postern, a medieval covered gateway that was big enough for riders and walkers but not carriages. This district was occupied for several years by the English during the Hundred Years' War whereas the town and castle withstood all attacks. The people of Vitré paid the invaders to leave and the district took its name from this event. This peaceful place at the foot of the castle is situated in the Vilaine valley and offers a fine view of the fortress:

Angers - Day 2

Silvja Helmanis


Angers - Day 2:

Main Attractions: La Maison Bleu, Place du Ralliement, Maison d'Adam, Place Sainte-Croix, Rue Saint-Aubin, Place Saint-Éloi, Musée des Beaux-Arts, jardin du Mail, Pont de Verdun, La Doutre, Jean Turc Promenade.

Start & End:  Gare d'Angers Saint-Laud. Our Hotel: Hotel ibis Styles Angers Centre Gare. Duration: 1 day. Distance: 7 km. Weather: No rain or wind.

Our 2nd day in Angers: From Gare Angers St Laud, 1 Esplanade de la Gare we head west and turn right onto Espl. de la Gare, 45 m.  Turn RIGHT (north-east)  onto Avenue Denis Papin and go through 1 roundabout, 220 m. Continue straight onto Rue du Haras, 120 m. Continue onto Boulevard du Maréchal Foch, 450 m. In the crossroads with Rue d'Alsace (the 5th road to the left) - stands the Blue House (La Maison Bleu), 25 rue d'Alsace and 10 boulevard Maréchal-Foch. At the corner of rue d'Alsace and boulevard Foch, the building with blue and gold highlights is one of the masterpieces of Art Deco between the two wars. The Blue House is an Art Deco apartment building built in 1929 as a result of the significant demographic growth experienced by Angers in the early 20th century. Built by the architect Roger Jusserand and decorated by the mosaicist Isidore Odorico. This was the first building with elevator in the city. One of the buildings with the largest facade, in the world, covered with mosaic in the Art Deco style. From the ground floor to the upper floors, the color changes from a beige ocher united to an ultramarine blue:

The interior of the building is also covered with mosaic floor-to-ceiling through the walls and stairs with dominating blue , green and gold . All the rooms in the building are ornamented with mosaics, like parrots frescoes in the bathrooms and navy blue entrance halls . The elevator cages and the railings of the stairs and balcony are wrought iron with bright geometric shapes with cutaway characteristic of the Art Deco style:

From the Blue House we head northwest and continue along Rue d'Alsace
for approx. 200 m. The Galeries Lafayette Angers, 6 Rue d'Alsace is on our left. Go up to the top floor to see a splendid view of Place du Ralliement:

The medieval city center was redeveloped and expanded from 1791. The Place du Ralliement, the main square, was then built in place of three churches destroyed during the French Revolution and, later, ring boulevards planted with trees replaced the city walls. The architectural style used is mainly Haussmanian, but leaves sometimes room for Palladian, Art Nouveau or Art Deco buildings. Place du Ralliement is also the place chosen to place the guillotine (1792-17930. Place du Ralliement is the commercial heart of downtown Angers. It hosts major stores including Galeries Lafayette. The Place du Ralliement is, since 2010, is pedestrian-only and accessible only to Line A of the tramway which crosses the square with the Ralliement station:

The Grand Théâtre d 'Angers , in Place du Ralliement, is a theater built in 1794 in the old Grandes Ecoles of the Place du Ralliement 2 , and opened in September 1795. On the night of December 4 to 5, 1865 , a fire destroyed the building. The municipality decided to rebuild it, which began in 1867 under the leadership of Alphonse Botrel, succeeded by Auguste Magne. The new building was inaugurated in 1871:

The famous Allard Pâtissier Chocolatier, Place du Ralliement. 2 rue Chaussée St Pierre:

From the delicatessen shop of Allard Patissier Chocolatier, 2 Rue Chaussée St Pierre we head southwest on Rue Chaussée St Pierre toward Rue Plantagenêt, 60 m. Turn right at Carrefour Rameau onto Rue de l'Aiguillerie, 60 m. Note in R. de l'Aiguillerie, this old building:

Turn left onto Rue Montault, 75 m. Turn left onto Place Sainte-Croix and Maison d'Adam or Adam House (House of artisans), 1 Place Sainte-Croix is on your left. Thisa half-timbered house is located at the crossroads of Montault street and Sainte-Croix square , just behind the cathedral. It is a medieval house, built in year 1491, with some incredible and ornate carvings and  timber framings built in the13th century and is decorated with numerous sculptures. The building consists of a ground floor surmounted by three floors, plus two floors of attic, totally of six levels. If you are looking for the reason for the house's name - the original figures of Adam and Eve are missing but only the tree remains on the bottom floor on the corner. Duringt the French Revolution, the revolutionaries destroyed the figures of Adam and Eve with the serpent, leaving only the apple tree carving . From 1990, the house houses the House of Artisans d'Angers (see below). Even Just watching this house from outside is very nice. The façade is beautifully decorated with wooden sculptures: 

Tree of Life:

Couple of Lovers:

There is a very interesting gallery at street level with all kinds of locally created designs (scarves, jewelry, tapestry, sculpture, glass work, etc.). Artworks and unusual gifts fill the shop - to the delight of the herds of tourists who fill this splendid shop. Do not miss the original, inspirational art on display. Incredible, exceptional shop. You can purchase online: 

The little square outside, Place Sainte-Croix, makes it possible to take good pictures:

From Place Sainte-Croix continue waking southwest toward Rue Corneille (turning left) for 90 m. Slight right onto Rue Voltaire (one of the most beautiful street of the city with its buildings with the Haussmanian architecture), 55 m. Turn left onto  Rue Saint Aubin.  Rue Saint-Aubin is the longest shopping street in Angers.  It is one of the five main pedestrian streets of the city center with the rue d'Alsace (see above) , rue Lenepveu , rue de la Roë and rue Saint-Laud (see Angers - Day 1):

In the crossroads where Rue Saint-Aubin meets Rue des Lices - we see Benoit Chocolates, 1 Rue des Lices. Hand made chocolates made from  cocoa beans that are imported from Ecuador, Brazil and Venezuela. You can find, here, a huge range, more than 70 varieties, from deliciously sweet to very bitter  chocolates:  

We advance, slowly, to the Musée des Beaux-Arts. From Benoit chocolate we head BACK northeast on Rue des Lices toward Rue Saint-Aubin, 10 m. We turn left onto Rue Saint-Aubin, 30 m. Turn left onto Rue du Musée, 50 m. Turn RIGHT onto Place Saint-Éloi - a VERY PRETTY square with the spires of Saint Maurice Cathedral (north side in the background) , a famous  sculpture and an abbey  around. Galerie David d'Angers and Musée des Beaux-Arts are on the west (left). This square is one of the most beautiful places in downtown Angers. Closed by the Museum of Fine Arts, the Café des Orfèvres, the Municipal Institute, the Saint Aubin Abbey/Tower and centuries-old houses, it hosts in its center a magnificent sculpture depicting a woman's face. The tufa of the surrounding buildings forms a marvelous setting for this jewel of sculpture. The statue, "Per Adriano", is an unfinished portrait of the French-Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj:

The Saint-Aubin Abbey of Angers:

Statue Per Adriano ( For Hadrian ), work of the wonderful sculptor Igor Mitoraj:

Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts) : Angers calls itself the "City of History and Art," and the Musee des Beaux Arts is one of the jewels in the crown. The collection does not include any major works. BUT it does include 18th-century masterpieces by French painters, such as Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard and Chardin and 19th-century works of  Sisley, Corot, and Ingres.  The largest collection is by a 19th century painter born in Angers, Guillaume Bodinier.  The whole layout is confusing (labels and descriptions only in French). A temporary gallery focuses on contemporary artists and heritage exhibitions. The “Parcours Histoire d’Angers” is a trail that ushers you through the collections from Angers’ former museum of antiquities, with portraits of the historical personalities and landscapes of Angers through the ages to convey the development of the city. Then the “Parcours Beaux Arts” shows the Flemish, Italian and French school paintings that once enriched the homes of the city’s elite. The building 
is an old  private mansion, known as the ‘Logis Barrault’. This listed Historic Monument was built between 1486 and 1493. Throughout the ages, this dwelling has received several prestigious guests including Louis XII and Anne de Bretagne, César Borgia and Marie de’ Medici. Opening hours: everyday - 10.00 - 18.00. Prices: 4 euros. combined entry with the MUSÉE JEAN-LURÇAT ET DE LA TAPISSERIE CONTEMPORAINE: 6 €:

La déclaration attendue, Jean-Antoine Watteau:

Cephalus and Procris, Jean-Honoré Fragonard,1755:

San Marino près de Rome, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, 1826:

"Jeunes Baigneurs sur un Rocher à Capri", Guillaume Bodinier,1828:

The gardens of the Musée des Beaux-Arts originally belonged to the Saint-Aubin abbey, built c. 534 AD. Part of these gardens was given up to the canons of the Toussaint abbey church (dating from the 13th century) in 1419. In 1422, Saint-Aubin sold the north part of the garden which would become from 1495 onwards, the garden of the Barrault private mansion. This is now the museum terrace. In 1834, a fruit garden was planted in the former garden of the Barrault private mansion and the Toussaint abbey church. This ‘fruit school’ contained 1,700 varieties of fruit and sought to improve knowledge of, and teaching about the cultivation of fruit. In 1850, the Doyenné du Comice pear was first grown here. This variety is still considered to be the best pear in the world. Later, the garden became known as the Jardin des Beaux-Arts. From the 1920s an ornamental garden had been established around the museum - decorated with flowerbeds and statues, shaded by trees and rare shrubbery donated by nurseries in the Anjou region. Garden opening hours: everyday 08.00 - 20.00:

We continue to stroll around the old city of Angers, returning, sometimes, to sites - visited in our Day 1 in Angers. We head, now to Logis Pincé or Musée Pincé, 32 Rue Lenepveu. From the Beaux-Arts Gardens we head northeast, 35 m. We slight left toward Rue Toussaint, 60 m. Turn right toward Rue Toussaint, 50 m. Turn right onto Rue Toussaint, 160 m. Continue, again, onto Place Sainte-Croix, 130 m. Look for Carrefour Rameau and continue onto Rue Chaussée St Pierre, 25 m. Slight left to stay on Rue Chaussée St Pierre, 70 m. Continue straight onto Place du Ralliement, 35 m. Continue onto Rue Lenepveu and Hotel/Logis/Musée Pincé is 35 m. further on your left (32 Rue Lenepveu).  On your right - a giant store of FNAC. The Logis Pincé is a Renaissance building built between 1525 and 1535 , by the Renaissance architect Jean Delespine from Angers at the request of its owner Jean de Pincé , mayor of Angers. This mansion has been classified as a historic monument since 1875. In 1861 , the painter Angevin Guillaume Bodinier gave the house to the city of Angers to create a museum. In 1889 , the museum was opened to the public. it is devoted to Greek , Roman , Etruscan and Egyptian antiquities, as well as Chinese and Japanese art. The museum is currently closed for construction works.

From the closed Musée Pincé, 32 Rue Lenepveu we retrace southwest on Rue Lenepveu toward Place du Ralliement, 35 m. Turn left onto Place du Ralliement, 85 m. Turn left onto Rue Saint-Maurille, 130 m. In the intersection of Place du Ralliement and Rue Saint-Maurille - you see Residence Gmim and this sculpture:

Turn right onto Rue David d'Angers, 110 m. Turn left onto Impasse de la Mairie, 80 m. Turn left onto Boulevard Résistance et Déportation, 45 m. Turn right toward Boulevard Résistance et Déportation, 15 m and you face the Le jardin du Mail, Boulevard Résistance et Déportation. We took our lunch at the Black Peat, 2 Boulevard du Maréchal Foch restaurant. Menu de Jour + Dessert: 12.90 euros/person. It advertises itself as a Scottish bar. So, you can drink beer, eat burgers and enjoy, "Au plaisir", a whisky bar in the heart of Angers. The upper floor is more pleasant than the ground one (a bit dark). It is opposite the Mail gardens. The Mail Garden is a park which was constructed around the 17th century, the " game of mail ". Marie de Medici and the Bishop of Luçon (future cardinal Richelieu ) played in this garden. In the middle of the 17th century - the garden had been abandoned.  It became a walk as it is today under the name of Avenue Jeanne d'Arc. The flowering, every year, consists of 20,000 to 30,000 flowers in massifs with perfect symmetry. The bandstand, a fountain and the statues contribute to the life of these gardens. BUT, this is a park WITHOUT TREES !

In the east side of the gardens - Palais de Justice:

We exit the gardens from the western entrance. We walk, now, 1.2 km. back to the Maine river. From 2 Boulevard du Maréchal Foch we head northeast on Boulevard du Maréchal Foch toward Rue David d'Angers, 15 m. Continue onto Boulevard Résistance et Déportation, 150 m. Turn left onto Rue du Mail (a bustling road) and walk down 450 m. Turn left onto Rue de la Parcheminerie, 15 m. Turn right to stay on Rue de la Parcheminerie, 280 m. Continue onto Rue de la Poissonnerie, 70 m. Turn right toward Rue Baudrière, 40 m. Turn left toward Rue Baudrière, 95 m. Turn right onto Rue Baudrière, 40 m. Continue onto Pont de Verdun, 35 m. The Verdun Bridge connects the city ​​center to the district of La Doutre. It does NOT commemorate the Battle of Verdun in 1916. It is renamed "Verdun Bridge" with the erection of the statue of Lieutenant-Colonel Beaurepaire , officer of the French army, who died in 1792 in Verdun during the surrender of this city against the Prussians:

La Doutre, an old quarter located on the western bank of the Maine and facing the castle, contains two major medieval sites, the former Abbaye du Ronceray, built during the 11th and 12th century, and the Hôpital Saint-Jean, founded by Henry II of England and used as the city hospital until 1870. La Doutre is a clutter of streets and alleys, many with covered passageways and lined with timber-framed houses. All you have to do is take Rue Beaurepaire from the bridge and let yourself be drawn down the side streets. Place de la Laiterie has a real village-like feel in what is still the centre of the city, while Place du Tertre Saint-Laurent is where the 19th-century bourgeoisie settled, and all the adjoining streets have refined stone mansions. With its avenue of giant plane trees Quai Monge is as grand as it gets, and belongs to the Berges de Maine, a 300 hectare public space by the River.

We retrace our steps and return to Pont de Verdun on the Maine river. We head southward to the famous Angers Castle. From Pont de Verdun head southeast toward Quai René Bazin, 35 m. We see, opposite us, the stairs leading to the Saint Maurice Cathedral:

Continue onto Rue Baudrière, 75 m. Turn right onto Prom. Jean Turc, 20 m. Slight right (and, later, turn right) to stay on Prom. Jean Turc, 70 m. Slight left to stay on Prom. Jean Turc, 25 m. Slight right to stay on Prom. Jean Turc, 10 m. Turn left to stay on Prom. Jean Turc, 120 m. On our left the mighty walls of Château d'Angers:

Jean Turc Promenade, formerly known as the "Quai Ligny Walk" is the Maine  riverbank road. In purpose to clear the Château de Angers surroundings, the city in the 1970s decided to demolish the buildings along the Ligny wharf. It left a wide strip of land at the base of the castle. A long and wide island of greenery, lines of  trees were planted in the middle of this island and extending up to the Boulevard De Gaulle. In 1981, the gardens were extended to the bridge of Verdun. A pleasant rose garden, with a regular outline, is planted with its pergola covering the central path, a vast construction of metal arches, however well proportioned to the imposing mass of the rock which dominates it. But a few years are needed to get an interesting cover of roses and honeysuckle. At the bottom of the Saint-Maurice climbing stairs, a large pond was built with its water games covering the traffic noise.

These gardens, very pleasant walk at any time, form today a magnificent set of greenery, lying under the giant walls of the Castle:

It is a 750 m. walk back to Angers railway station from the intersection of Prom.. Jean Turc and Boulevard du Général de Gaulle. Head southeast on Boulevard du Général de Gaulle, 210 m. Slight right to stay on Boulevard du Général de Gaulle, 45 m. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Place de l'Académie, 100 m. Turn left to stay on Place de l'Académie, 15 m. Continue onto Rue Hoche, 160 m. Continue straight onto Place de la Visitation, 20 m. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Rue de la Gare, 130 m. Turn left onto Place de la Gare, 45 m. Slight left onto Espl. de la Gare, 30 m. to see the Gare Angers St Laud.

Angers - Day 1

Silvja Helmanis


Angers - 1st day:

Main Attractions: Galerie David d'Angers, Château d'Angers, Tenture de l’Apocalypse (Apocalypse tapestry), Saint-Maurice Cathedral, Rue Saint-Laud, Place du Pilori, Jardin des Plantes, Pont de la Haute Chaîne, Musée Jean Lurçat et de la Tapisserie Contemporaine. 

Part 1: Galerie David d'Angers, Château d'Angers, Tenture de l’Apocalypse (Apocalypse tapestry).

Part 2: Saint-Maurice Cathedral, Rue Saint-Laud, Place du Pilori, Jardin des Plantes, Pont de la Haute Chaîne, Musée Jean Lurçat et de la Tapisserie Contemporaine. 

Start and End: Ibis Styles, 23 B rue Paul Bert / Le Gare. Duration: 1 day. Weather: Only bright day. Distance: 15-16 km.

Orientation: We spent 2 days in this rich and wonderful city.  The first day is quite busy and involves a long deal of walks on both sides of the Maine river. The second day is more in leisure. A lively university city today, Angers makes an engaging western gateway to the Loire Valley. The old city is on the river’s left bank, with three bridges crossing to Doutre. Despite the damage of past wars, particularly World War II, Angers is still rich in medieval architecture. NOT ALL the attractions are "covered"@ in our two blogs.
Introduction: Angers is located 91 km from Nantes, 124 km from Rennes, 132 km from Poitiers and 297 km from Paris. Getting to Angers By Train (SNCF-TGV) : 35 min from Nantes, 90 min from Paris. The old medieval center is dominated by the massive château of the Plantagenêts, home of the Apocalypse Tapestry, the biggest medieval tapestry ensemble in the world. Before the French Revolution, Angers was the capital of the province of Anjou. Angers enjoys a rich cultural life, made possible by its universities and museums. The Angers metropolitan area is a major economic center in western France, particularly active in the industrial sector, tourism and horticulture. The city’s traditional industries such as slate quarrying, distilling, rope and cable manufacture, and weaving have been supplemented by electronics, photographic equipment, and elevators. Angers is on both the Nantes-Paris and Nantes-Lyon railways. The city has several train stations, all originally built in the 19th century.  The main station, Angers Saint-Laud, is on a TGV line and has a direct TGV service to Paris (1 hour 30 minutes), Lyon (3 hours 45 minutes), Strasbourg (4 hours 35 minutes), and Lille (3 hours 25 minutes), as well as Avignon, Marseilles and Montpellier. Regional trains go to Cholet, Saumur, Tours, Blois, Nevers and Bourges. The nearest airport is Angers - Loire Airport.  The airport is located 20 kilometers from Angers. The mostly pedestrianised old town supports a thriving cafe culture, thanks in part to the dynamic presence of 38,000 students, as well as some excellent places to eat. The city is famous for two sets of breathtaking tapestries: the 14th-century Tenture de l’Apocalypse in the city’s medieval château, and the 20th-century Chant du Monde at the Jean Lurçat museum - both of them are "covered" by our daily itinerary. Largest city of the department of Maine et Loire (795 000 people, 27th most important department in France), Angers is situated in the center of the Pays de Loire Region and is home to 149 017 people, and the urban center of an area with a population of close to 270 000 people (18th city of France). Angers is a very young city with 48% under the age of 30.

Major festivals and events:

  • Festival Premiers Plans (January): an annual competition for promoting young European film makers.
  • Made in Angers (February): more than one hundred companies open their doors to the public for behind-the-scenes tours.
  • Cinemas of Africa (April, biennial).
  • Artaq festival of urban arts (June).
  • Festival d'Anjou (June-July): France’s second-largest theatre festival features some 20 performances, all outdoors and in historic venues.
  • Tempo'Rives (July-August): along the banks of the River Maine. You can enjoy 10 free concerts held in the historic Angers suburb of La Doutre.
  • Festival des Accroche-Cœurs (September): this 3-day pan-European ‘Kiss Curl’ Festival mixes culture, entertainment and fun: street theatre, dance, music, outdoor cinema and art installations.
  • Soleils d’hiver (December): this ‘winter sunshine’ event lights up Angers with a traditional Christmas market and jolly street illuminations.

Angers Loire Tourisme: 7 place Kennedy 49000 ANGERS. Telephone:
02 41 23 50 41. Email:

Our hotel: Ibis Styles, 23 B rue Paul Bert. VERY pleasant hotel. Pretty close to the railway and bus stations. Quiet but central. Clean. Colorful decor. Good, filling, rich buffet-breakfast. Reasonable price. Comfortable beds and bathroom. Coffee and tea were available at reception with take away cups also. A computer for guests use. Turn left out of the hotel, and then up (a modest climb) the street, left again and you reach the heart of Angers.

Our 1-day Itinerary: From the train station or the Ibis Styles hotel, Paul Berth 23 you head northwest (the railway station is on your left) on Rue Paul Bert toward Rue Béclard, 190 m. Continue onto Boulevard du Roi René, 500 m. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Place du Président Kennedy, 70 m. Continue and climb onto Rue Toussaint  (follow the sign of "Jardin de Musee des Baux Arts") and after 140 m. the Galerie David d'Angers, 33Bis Rue Toussain is on your right. You can enter the gallery from the street (through an old stone arch)

or via the Beaux Artes museum:

The way from Jardin de Musee des baux Arts:

The David d'Angers Gallery : beautifully restored, the former 13th-century Toussaint Abbey is now the home containing works by the sculptor David d'Angers. The Angers-born sculptor Pierre-Jean David (1788–1856) (the French Revolution), or David d’Angers, is renowned for his lifelike sculptures, which adorn public monuments such as the Panthéon and can be seen in the Louvre and Paris' Père Lachaise cemetery. You can see, inside, Interesting sculptures of famous historic people. The setting is also exquisite; the 12th-century or 13th-century Toussaint Abbey was in ruins before it was converted for this museum in 1984, with a new glass roof filling the galleries with natural light. Here in the  Toussaint Abbey, you can admire models and most of his creations. The site is very nice with a mix of ancient style and modern architecture. The church fell into ruin but in 1984 it was restored, a glass roof was added. The ruins have been turned into a bright museum space by the use of copious amounts of glass. This all made an ideal backdrop for the works of sculptor Pierre-Jean David, known as David of Angers. While the sculptural artwork is worth the visit to this museum, the fact that they are displayed in such a dramatic setting greatly enhances the experience !

David d’Angers was a leading sculptor in the 18th and 19th centuries, receiving commissions from all over Europe and even America.  The gallery is not a big one, but it is packed with so many sculptures and drawings that you are overwhelmed. There are 985 statues, medallions and busts in all, including those for preeminent contemporary figures like Goethe, Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Balzac, Chateaubriand, Paganini, Napoleon and La Fayette. On the gallery's upper floor you are invited to make your own drawings of the exhibited pieces of art. Papers, pencils and drawing-boards are made available.

You can buy combined ticket (€10 combined) for the gallery and the Museum of Fine Arts. There is, even, a better , more extensive-combined ticket, 15€,  for 5 museums in Angers and the Castle (that's a bargain !). Photography allowed.


Honore de Balzac:

Victor Hugo:

Jean Bart:


Nicolo Paganini:

Austerlitz Battle:

From Galerie David d'Angers, 33Bis Rue Toussaint we head west on Rue Toussaint toward Place du Président Kennedy, 140 m. On our right is the Tourist Information Office. We turn right onto Place du Président Kennedy, 110 m. Continue onto Promenade du Bout du Monde for 85 m. facing Château d'Angers, 2 Promenade du Bout du Monde. The  Castle of Angers  was during the Middle Ages the core of the city defense system, composed of tall city walls and river chains to prevent enemy ships from going up the Maine. In the tenth century the counts of Anjou erected a palace inside the Gallo-Roman town enclosure of Angers. From 1230 onward king Louis IX built a massive fortress boasting seventeen towers and two gates around the palace, incorporating part of the town walls. In 1356 king John II granted Anjou to his second son Louis. Becoming Duke, the latter and his descendants refurbished the great hall, rebuilt the residential wing of the palace and added a ceremonial wing and service buildings. Of particular mention are Louis II (built the chapel prior to 1410) and René I (built the royal residence between 1435-1440 and the chatelet in 1450). At the end of the sixteenth century the fortress was adapted to modern warfare. The towers were cropped, the walls were thickened and artillery platforms were installed. Henceforth the site served as a military camp and a prison. 500 British sailors were imprisoned in the castle between 1779-1781 and some carved their names into the walls. Only a single wall of the tenth century palace still stands. Less than one quarter of the buildings erected by the Dukes of Anjou have survived to this day. Today, portions of wall are still visible in Rue Toussaint and Boulevard Carnot, as well as some towers, like the Tour Villebon and the Tour des Anglais. The massive walls (2.5 m. thick) are about one kilometer long and punctuated by 17 towers - each 18 metres in height. Some imagination will be required to visualize the fortress in its heyday. The remaining structures are unfurnished and are mostly used as exhibition rooms, displaying excellent scale models of the castle in its various phases of construction.

The castle dominates the river Maine and the old town. You can walk around the top of the castle's ramparts, which afford spectacular views, along the Chemin de Rond (Parapet Walk). Some parts of the parapet walk includes steep steps, one access port does has a gently sloping ramp. The Mill Tower in the north corner is the only tower to have retained its original height, and once supported a windmill. On the southern side of the ramparts near the restaurant you can see the original entrance to the castle with its defensive systems and portcullis:

The Castle Courtyard:

As you walk around the ramparts you also have lovely views across the roofs of Angers, the flower gardens in the moat, as well as various gardens on the ramparts including a vineyard and a herb garden. There are great views of the Maine and town from the castle walls and you can also take stroll in the sweet formal gardens at the base of the walls in the castle’s former ditches. The interior gardens offer a haven of peace and are well worth lingering. Visitors can discover the stronghold of Angers with the help of a guidebook or an audio guide. They can also participate in a guided tour, lasting about one hour. Allow at least an hour to walk the chateau and perhaps another hour for the tapestries. We spent several hours looking around:

A purpose built gallery houses the famous tapestry of the Apocalypse, manufactured for duke Louis I between 1373 and 1382. It is the stunning Tenture de l’Apocalypse (Apocalypse tapestry), a 104m-long series of tapestries commissioned in 1375 to illustrate the story of the final battle between good and evil, as prophesied in the Bible's Book of Revelation. it is a majestic work of art. In the 1370s, Louis I, the Duke of Anjou commissioned artist Jean Bondol to make the preliminary sketches for what would become the immense tapestry that is presented inside the castle. The Apocalypse Tapestry was finished in 1382 and would have required as much as 85 accumulative years of labour from its weavers at their workshop in Paris. When it was done it had six sections, each one just over six metres high and 24 metres wide, and is seen by critics as one of the greatest artistic representations of the Book of Revelations and a medieval wonder. The colours are vivid. BUT, to preserve the tapestries, there is little light in the exhibition area, and the interior is painted black, so be aware, it may be difficult to move in there without stumbling. Better guiding lights should have been in place. Each of the panels of the tapestries is labelled so if you don't know what it's about it is difficult to follow the story, which is explained in the guide that you're given but it's too dark to read it. Moreover: the hall with the tapestries is extremely cooled. Bring a sweater or jacket. To see the tapestries in detail - bring your binoculars. Viewing the tapestries is not to be missed. Said to be the largest collection of tapestries in the world. One simply cannot be prepared for the immensity of the tapestries. Words really cannot describe the beauty of a work of art miraculously rescued (for the most part) from having been cut into separate panels. The guided tour of the tapestry leaves from the gift shop:

From the movie on restoration of the tapestries:

Now, skip to Tip 2 (below)


Silvja Helmanis



Main Attractions: Pont Cessart, Saumur Mairie, Place Saint-Pierre, Château de Saumur, Rue Jean Jaurès (old town), Saumur  Theatre.

Start and End: Hotel ibis Styles, 15 Avenue David d'Angers / Gare de Saumur. Distance: 6-7 km. Weather: Bright day. Duration: 6 hours only.

The town of Saumur was awarded the Croix de Guerre with palm for its resistance and display of French patriotism during the war. In World War II, Saumur was the site of the Battle of Saumur (1940). The town and south bank of the Loire were defended by the teenage cadets of the cavalry school. In June 1944 the town was bombed several times by the Allied planes to stop planned German divisions, travelling to engage the newly landed allied forces in Normandy.

Transportation: Trains from Paris Montparnasse are frequent (though not direct) and take around 2-2.5 hours. Flights run to and from London City to Angers Loire airport, and from London City and Gatwick to Nantes Atlantique airport.

Orientation: Our itinerary is a SHORT-day one. OUR ITINERARY DOES NOT INCLUDE: Musee des Blindes, Le Cadre Noir - the horsemanship show, wine caves, Musee de la Cavalerie and Les Légumes Jardins du Puygirault. Saumur skyline is best seen from the Loire river.  It has a marvelous riverside setting, all topped by its grand chateau set on a hill above the town. Look at the two following photos - they remind the skyline of Bratislava from the Danube river:

The architectural character of the town owes much to the fact that it is constructed almost exclusively of the beautiful, but fragile, Tuffeau stone. The most famous monument of Saumur is the great Château de Saumur which stands high above the town. The Place Saint Pierre is particularly attractive with the imposing church of Saint Pierre which dates to the 12 and 13th centuries and contains some lovely stained glass windows. Also on the square are some attractive half-timber buildings from the 15 and 16th centuries. Two other attraction are concerned with horses and military vehicles. It is home to the Cadre Noir, the École Nationale d'Équitation (National School of Horsemanship), known for its annual horse shows. Saumur is home also to the Armoured Branch and Cavalry Training School and to the officers' school for armored forces (tanks). Saumur hosts the national tank museum, the Musée des Blindés, with more than 850 armored vehicles, wheeled or tracked. Saumur has a famous Saturday market with hundreds of stalls open for business in the streets and squares of the old town. Do not come before 09.00. Saumur excels with its wine industry producing white, red, rosé and sparkling wines. Wine cellars cluster the outskirts of town. The annual Grandes Tablées du Saumur-Champigny is a popular annual event held in end of July or early August end of July as the biggest restaurant in the world which is formed using two kilometres of tables set up in Saumur so people can sample the local foods and the local wines. 

Our hotel in Saumur: Ibis Styles Saumur Gare Centre, 15 avenue David D Angers: fabulous, clean, QUIET, friendly, efficient, modern, budget price, good breakfast, cheerful decoration and furniture. A few steps from the railway station. 10-15 minutes walk to town centre. A supermarket is nearby. Recommended.

From the IBIS hotel we turn EASTWARD (left, with our back to the hotel)

Graffitti opposite the hotel:

and walk 300 m. east to the Pont des Cadets de Saumur. We cross the Loire from north to south over this bridge.

We continue direct south west along Avenue Charles de Gaulle and cross, again, another branch of the Loire, over Pont Cessart - a bridge that was built from 1756 until 1770 with arches and pillars of stone:

From Pont Cessart we get magnificent views of the Chateau de Saumur and the town:

We turn LEFT (east) along Quai Gautier:

After walk of 120 m., and after passing Rue Corneille on your right - you see the imposing  Town Hall or Mairie, on your left, in Rue Molière. Formerly lapped by the Loire, the town hall was part of the surrounding fortifications, hence its fortified appearance. The façade overlooking the courtyard is finely sculpted in the transitional Gothic-Renaissance style. Only the left side of the building (the Papegault tower) remains from the 16th century. It once had a wooden parrot on the top which was there as target practice for the archers. A large wing was added in the 19th century, in neo-gothic style. You can walk around to see the rear of the Town Hall, which is equally impressive. The Town Hall was built from 1856 until 1862:


The 8th of May is WWII Victory Day (la fête de la victoire, le jour de la libération) - an holiday to celebrate the end of World War II and the French people's freedom. It is the anniversary of when Charles de Gaulle announced the end of World War II in France on May 8, 1945. We saw an impressive ceremony opposite the Town Hall with many ex-pats of the French army in WW2:

We walk, now, 260 m. east and south to Place Saint Pierre. Head southeast on Rue Molière toward Place de la République, 60 m. Continue straight onto Place de la République, 60 m. Turn right onto a small road called Rue de la Tonnelle, 120 m. Slight right onto Place Saint-Pierre, 15 m. The Saint Pierre Square is equipped with a Gothic-style (pure white)  church (Eglise Saint Pierre) and wooden houses. The main church building was constructed in the12th-13th centuries. The facade of the Saint Pierre Church dates from the 17th century. The church  is lit up in various colored lights after dark. The interior has Romanesque elements and is considered Gothic Plantagenêt style. It also has some beautiful stained glass windows and an impressive organ, which is often used for recitals The church is usually open from 09.00 to 18.00. Entry is FREE. Definitely worth a visit:

Timber-framed houses in Place Saint Pierre:

We head , now, to the town’s crowning glory, the chateau. We have to climb for 500 m. Several sections are quite STEEP. Follow the signage in the sloping roads or follow these instructions. From Place Saint-Pierre head southwest toward Montée du Fort, 15 m. Turn left onto Montée du Fort, 110 m. You'll see,a long this narrow road more timber-framed houses. Turn left onto Rue des Remparts, 110 m:

Turn right to stay on Rue des Remparts, 60 m. Turn your head backward to see some splendid views of the Saumur town:

Slight left and continue climbing for 180 m. and you face the Château de Saumur  on a bluff overlooking the river:

The castle is closed until 31 MAR 2018. Opening hours: From 31 MAR to 14 JUN:  TUE - SUN to Sunday, public holidays Mondays, 30 APR, 7 MAY: 10.00 - 13.00, 14.00 - 17.30. 15 JUN - 30 JUN: daily 10.00 - 18.30. From 1 JUL - 31 AUG: 10.00 -to 18.30. 1 SEP -  15 SEP:  daily 10.00 - 18.30. 16 SEP - 11 NOV:  September, every day from 10.00 to 18.30. and from September 16th to November 11th: TUE - SUN to Sunday, public holidays Monday:  10.00 - 13.00, 14.00 - 17.30.  22 DEC - 6 JAN 2019:  Mondays and Wednesdays to Sundays, from 10.00 - 13.00, 14.00 -  17.30. No visit on: 25 DEC and 1 JAN. Prices: adult: € 6 (€ 7 High season 1 July - 31 AUG), concessions (high school students, students, 7-16 years old):  € 4 (€ 5 H/S), Family rate (2 adults and 2 children and more): 18 € (€ 20 H/S) , Adult group rate (from 12 people): 4,5O € (€ 5.50 H/S). Belvedere (open from 15 June to 15 September): 3 € in addition to the entrance fee - with guide / duration: 30 min / groups of 8 people maximum. Pets are not allowed in the castle grounds. There's a little café in the chateau grounds and another café opposite. Allow 1.5 - 2 hours.

It is a wonder it is there at all, having weathered all sorts of bad treatment from its time as a prison under Louis XIV and Napoleon. Within is a mishmash of items bequeathed to the municipal museum, but the location and chance to glean a little of its tumultuous history make a visit worthwhile. Views of the iconic 10th-century Château can be enjoyed from all angles from below (like the rest of the town, it's carved from the region's pale Tuffeau stone, formed when the Loire Valley was a seabed over 90 million years ago). But don't miss the opportunity to climb up to the (well-signposted) viewpoint that takes in the town, the river and the castle from above. The views over the town and Loire are fantastic. The chateau we see today originates from the 14th century but it was in the 15th that it was made into a comfortable residence by Duke Rene d’ Anjou. During its long history it has been the governor’s house, a jail before the town purchased it in 1906 to restore and turn it into the tourist attraction it is today. 

Then head over to explore the castle from the inside, reached via a dramatic moat bridge and broad cobbled approach where there's also a café overlooking the town. From its lofty position you have great views of the town and river -- it is worth parking riverside and hiking up the hill to appreciate this as well as the chateau itself. Note: This castle has been long neglected and is only now receiving the attention it needs. Very few of the castles rooms are open to the public and those that are opened contain very little information. It is still under restoration so you cannot see the whole site. 

View from the eastern wooden Bridge and Belvedere:

The views of Lorie are spectacular and worth the ticket price. Go and see the Chateau even if it's just for the views !

In the right side of the next photo - Pont Cessart:

The chateau serves as the town of Saumur’s museum. The former royal apartments now house two museums – ‘Musee des Arts Decoratifs’ and Musee du Cheval’.  The first houses European china and tapestries. The interior has a  nice decorative arts collection, and a few stunning, exceptional  tapestries we have ever seen (goats legs on men...):

As you tour the interior, a collection of artefacts points to its history as a battle stronghold, noble's residence and state prison. There is a free tour in English which makes the visit more interesting:

The second museum is located in the attic of the Chateau being dedicated to equestrian pursuits where you are taken into a world of saddlery from across the world – all lovingly worked:

On summer evenings, a light-and-sound show plays out in the Chateau grounds:

Incidentally, the grass by the vineyard beyond the car park is about as fine a place to spread a picnic blanket as you’ll find:

From the Château de Saumur we descended to the old city - heading to Cafe du Coin Rue Saint Jean x Place de la Bilange. We, more or less, retarce our steps. Head north toward Rue des Remparts, 180 m. Slight right onto Rue des Remparts, 60 m. Turn left to stay on Rue des Remparts, 110 m. Turn right onto Montée du Fort, 110 m. Turn right onto Place Saint-Pierre, 35 m. Place Saint-Pierre turns slightly left and becomes Rue de la Tonnelle, 20 m. Slight left onto Rue du Puits Neuf, 85 m. Continue onto Rue Saint-Jean, 180 m and you face the Cafe du Coin,13 Place de la Bilange. We paid 18.20 euros for filet bourguignon and fish with boiled vegetables (2 persons). A rare find in Saumur since they are flexible with lunch times. Menu is more casual, tending more to sandiwches and salads. Fast service with simple portions. Do not expect hot, sophisticated portions. Prices are relatively inexpensive for the Loire region (in Bretagne we found cheaper restaurants - mainly, based on Gallettes (buckwheat open-faced crepes). There is a Carrfour supermarket 50 m. west to the cafe. Note: in our itinerary - we'll return to this square:

We continue eastward along the river - walking 800 m. to Place Allain-Targé via Quai Mayaud. Head northeast on Place de la Bilange toward Rue Molière 90 m. Turn right onto Rue Molière, 170 m passing the Town hall on our left. Continue straight onto Place de la République, 60 m. Continue onto Quai Mayaud and go through 1 roundabout, 400 m. Slight right to stay on Quai Mayaud, 60 m. arriving to Place Allain-Targé. The area around is not the best - but you may enjoy the proximity to the Liore river on your left. We turn right (south) to Rue du Général Bontemps in purpose to sample the old sections of Saumur (nothing outstanding...). Turn right (west) to Rue Jean Jaurès and walk along this road to see typical "Saumuric" houses. On your right, upstairs, you see the mighty ridge or cliff where the Chateau is built.

Note the caves below. There are hundreds of miles of caves in and around Saumur, some bored into the hillsides, some under the plains. Most are abandoned. Others have been revamped as troglo hotels, restaurants, museums, artist galleries, wineries, farms for mushrooms, silkworms and snails, a rose water distillery and a disco (Troglos):

Continue walking west along Rue Jean Jaurès. Later it changes to Rue Fourrier. After passing Rue Montesquieu, on your right, you turn left  onto Rue des Patenotriers, 170 m. Turn left onto Rue Dacier  to see this splendid house:

Head west on Rue Dacier toward Rue Cendrière, 10 m. Turn left onto Rue de la Porte Neuve, 65 m. Turn left onto Rue de la Petite Douve, 170 m. Slight right onto Place Dupetit Thouars, 15 m. In Place Dupetit Thouars you find the Post Office and the monument to Aristide Dupetit-Thouars - a French naval officer of the eighteenth century. Aristide Aubert Dupetit-Thouars, gave up his noble title and status at the time of the Revolution (hence the official name's spelling that is retained). At the end of a life rich in adventures, he commanded the ship "the Thunderer" at the Battle of Aboukir, August 1, 1798. As long as his strength permitted him, he continued to give orders, and he shouted : "Crew of the Thunderer, never bring your flag! ":


The general elections of presidency in France took place, yesterday, in 7 May 2017:

We shall return to the town centre (Place de la Bilange). Head northeast on Place Dupetit Thouars toward Rue du Portail Louis, 35 m. Continue onto Rue du Portail Louis, 170 m. Continue onto Rue Franklin Roosevelt, 110 m. Continue straight onto Place de la Bilange, 55 m. At the Place de la Bilange - you find "The Dome" - Saumur imposing Theatre. The theater, built from 1864 to 1866, is one of the most prestigious monuments of Saumur and one of the masterpieces of the architect Charles Joly-Leterme. The façades are punctuated by Corinthian colonnades inspired by the 18th century French. The interior houses an Italian-style room with a capacity, in the 19th century, of 860 people. The restorations, realized from 2011 to 2014, modernized the monument while respecting its architectural envelope: the stage and the stage cage are modified to propose several configurations with a theater, a circus stage, an orchestra pit, a step for the lyric and the symphonic, an opening at the bottom of the plateau on the Place de la République. This work has made the theater a totally innovative place of national stature:

We continue walking north-east towards the Loire river and Pont Cessart:

The view of the Chateau with the last glowing rays of the sunset, from the stone bridge - is magnificent:

It is 1 km. walk back from the Cessart bridge to our hotel: Ibis Styles, 15 Avenue David d'Angers. Head northeast on Pont Cessart toward Avenue du Général de Gaulle and pass through 3 roundabouts, 650 m. Slight left onto Pont des Cadets de Saumu, 20 m. At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto Place de la Résistance, 90 m. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Avenue David d'Angers and the Hotel ibis Styles Saumur is 190 m. further on the right.


Silvja Helmanis



Main Attractions: Duchesse Anne Château, Château des Ducs de Bretagne,  St. Peter and St. Paul's Cathedral, Place Maréchal-Foch, Musée d'arts de Nantes, Jardin des Plantes, Basilique Saint-Nicolas, fresco of Jules Verne, Place Royale, Passage Pommeraye, Place Graslin, La Cigale Brewery, Cours Cambronne, Palais Dobrée, Eglise Notre Dame de Bon Port, Les Machines de l'île.

Start and End: Gare de Nantes. Distance: 15 km. Weather: a bright day only.

Flying to the Loire ?  we found a cheap flight from London to the heart of France (Nantes) by British Airways. The flight's times were perfect. The flight is leaving Heathrow during the afternoon hours and landing at Nantes during the early evening hours (still pleasant daylight hour). We booked, first, a flight from London City Airport to Angers in the Loire valley. This flight had been canceled by BA one month before our planned departure and we had been forced to change all our plans, bookings and itinerary. We chose the BA alternative, default offer of flight from Heathrow to Nantes. It was, still, a budget price option. But, using Heathrow, as a departure airport, instead of London City Airport, is, always, an worse option. Heathrow is far more congested airport with lengthy journey, security procedures, waiting times etc'. We still think that arriving to the Loire Valley via Paris is an worse option. The train connections between Paris and the Loire Valley are very good. But, the hotels prices in Paris are, still, daunting. We advice you to find a flight, from your country, to the Loire region, via London, using cheap connection flights from London (better, via smaller airports in the British capital). Formally, Nantes is not included in Brittany, but, you feel Brittany heritage and tradition in every step in the city.

Introduction:  Nantes is the main north-western French metropolis. The city is the sixth-largest in France, with a population of nearly 300,000 in Nantes and an urban area of 600,000 inhabitants. Nantes belongs historically and culturally (but, NOT, formally, nowadays) to Brittany. It was founded by Celts around 70 BC and in AD 937 it joined the duchy of Brittany. It was conquered by the Bretons in 851. The Edict of Nantes, a landmark royal charter guaranteeing civil rights to France's Huguenots (Protestants), was signed in Nantes by Henri IV in 1598. By the 18th century Nantes was France's foremost port, and in the 19th century – following the abolition of slavery – it became an industrial centre; the world's first public transport service, the omnibus, began in Nantes in 1826. Shipbuilding was the corner-stone of the city's economy until the late 20th century and when the shipyards relocated westwards to St-Nazaire, Nantes transformed itself into a thriving hi-tech and cultural hub. When it comes to Nantes the city is so rich in history just walking through the streets you see the modern industrial out skirts and as you go into the centre you see its historic buildings and its medieval streets.

Tip: Following the Green Line around the Nantes city will guide you to all the tourist sights.

Although Nantes was the primary residence of the 15th-century dukes of Brittany, Rennes became the provincial capital after the 1532 union of Brittany and France. During the 17th century Nantes gradually became the largest port in France and was responsible for nearly half of the 18th-century French Atlantic slave trade. The French Revolution resulted in an economic decline, but Nantes developed large-scale industries after 1850 (chiefly in shipbuilding and food processing). De-industrialisation in the second half of the 20th century triggered the city to adopt a service economy.

Nantes Airport: Small, intimate, pleasant, very efficient. Quick transfer procedures. You can get the bus to the city (Navette) every 20 minutes.  Price: 8 euros.

The hotel in Nantes: Our hotel was Novotel Centre Gare,  rue de Valmy, 4, Nantes, 15 minutes walk from the the Bus Station. A pleasant walk along the river and its canals. The hotel is new, modern, quiet, a spacious room, very convenient, Shower separated from the WC, a table, chairs, a sofa, kettle with coffee and tea bags, a small frigid, a coffee machine, a safe, free WIFI . Friendly staff members. Good, well stocked  breakfast. This hotel is within walking distance of the Cathedral, the Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne and the Botanical Gardens. The location is pretty, quiet, overlooking a branch of the river. You can (hardly) see the river from the dining room. Price: 90 euros/night for a standard double room:

Our first day in Nantes: From Hotel Novotel Nantes Centre Gare
3 Rue de Valmy, we head southwest on Rue de Valmy toward Avenue Carnot, 70 m. We turn right onto Avenue Carnot and walk along the avenue for 300 m. Continue onto Cours John Kennedy for 40 m. and you see Duchesse Anne Château  (Castle of the Duchess Anne) on your left.

From Gare de Nantes to Duchesse Anne Château (500 m.): From Gare de Nantes, 27 Boulevard de Stalingrad head west on Espl. Pierre Semard, 100 m. Turn right toward Allée Commandant Charcot, 20 m. Turn left onto Allée Commandant Charcot, 220 m. Slight left toward Cours John Kennedy, 55 m. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Cours John Kennedy, 90 m. and  Duchesse Anne Château is on the right side.

Buses arriving near this castle: 1, 4, 23, C3. This is the most east wing of  the Château des Ducs de Bretagn (see below):

With your face to Duchesse Anne Château head north on Cours John Kennedy, 35 m. Turn left to stay on Cours John Kennedy, 10 m. Turn left toward Rue des États, 300 m. Turn right onto Rue des États, 80 m. The sights of the southern walls of the Château des Ducs de Bretagn are magnificent:

The main entrance to Château des Ducs de Bretagne, 4 Place Marc Elder, is on your right. Adult ticket price: 8.00€, concessions (age 18-25) - 5.00€ ; FREE with the Nantes City Card. Free: under 18 years. FREE entrance to courtyard and ramparts to ALL visitors. Guided tours: Adult ticket price: 12.00€, concessions (age 18-25) - 7.50€. 7 - 17 years - 2.50€, free - under 7 years. Free on the first Sunday of the month. The castle guided tour offers around 34 rooms and lots of stairs to climb. Wear your best shoes...  Opening hours: daily: 8.30 - 19.00. 1 July – 31 August: 8.30 - 20.00. MUSEUM AND EXHIBITION: 10.00 - 18.00 except Mondays. 1 July – 31 August: 10.00 - 19.00, 7 days a week. The castle is closed: 1 January, 1 May, 1 November, 25 December. Allow, at least, 2 hours.

It is located on the right bank of the Loire, which formerly fed its ditches:

Near the entrance stands a sculpture of Duchess Anne (1477 - 1514) :

The Château des Ducs de Bretagne (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany) is one of the main historical sights in the heart of the French city of Nantes. It is Listed as a historical monument for over 170 year. The Castle of the Dukes of Brittany’ serves not only as a symbol of the city’s intriguing history and home to the Urban History Museum, but also as a gathering place for the residents of Nantes. Over the course of its history, the Castle of the Dukes has served as a military fortress and royal residence, and was home to Duchess Anne of Brittany (twice crowned Queen of France…before the age of 25). It stands on the site of a previous 13th century fortified palace called La Tour Neuve (The New Tower). The present castle, surrounded by a moat and ramparts, was built in the 15th century for Francois II, last of the dukes of Brittany. It was the residence of the Dukes of Brittany between the 13th and 16th centuries, subsequently becoming the Breton residence of the French kings. From the 1990s, the town of Nantes undertook a massive programme of restoration and repairs to return the castle to its former glory. It was reopened on 9 February 2007 and is now a popular tourist attraction which now includes the new Nantes History Museum, installed in 32 of the castle rooms.  Night-time illuminations at the castle further reinforce the revival of the site.

Cross the bridge over the moat and step into the fortress courtyard, where you’ll see the octagonal wellhead with its ornate wrought iron crown. Around you are the various buildings that make up the heart of the castle. The Golden Crown Tower, with the nearby well, stands over 100 feet tall, and connects the Grand Logis (the main building) (see below) and the Grand Gouvernement. The loggias at the top were built for Duchess Anne and provide a view of the Loire River:

Remember: The battlements are free. The castle itself is very picturesque and pretty. The 500-metre round walk on the fortified ramparts provides views not just of the castle buildings and courtyards but also of the town. Made out of giant granite blocks and white stones, the site features 500 meters of curtain walls, seven towers, and a sentry walkway. The residential palace of this historical monument features fine sculpted facades and Renaissance loggias. The walk all around the ramparts and across the courtyard is very well signposted. Absolutely stunning views of the totally rebuilt architecture. The fortifications, consisted of water tunnel and mighty walls, indicate towards the importance of the shelter it provided to residents who resided there. You can slide down from the top of the walls to the bottom but you must be adequately clothed to avoid any friction burns (the slide is not open everyday). The walls are relatively high but nice to walk around to get a different aspect of Nantes. There are spectacular views of Nantes from the heights of the walls. As we said before - descent can be via a slide off the walls downstairs to the ground. The castle also features moat gardens and a rampart walk where visitors can have a picnic or simply enjoy the night lighting of the fortress. Le Grand Logis – this five-story building (six if you count the basement) was built in two stages; the first four levels constructed under the reign of Francois II and the top two under that of his daughter the Duchess Anne:

Le Grand Gouvernement – formerly the Ducal Palace, this ‘Large Government’ building with symmetrical stairs (left side of the photo below), served as of the Home of the Governor. Rebuilt following a fire in the 17th century, the building bears the Coat of Arms of Louis XIV above the doorway. Inside you’ll see the wood framed ‘upside down ship’s hull’ vaulted ceiling, made of chestnut:

Le Petit Gouvernement – a simple building, this ‘Small Government’ building, also referred to as Logis du Roi (King’s Home)  (middle of the photo below) dates to the 16th century. It’s believed to have been the site of the signing of the Edict of Nantes, a ‘Treaty of Tolerance’ signed by the duc de Mercœur, Governor of Brittany, and Henry IV, King of France, putting an end to the French Wars of Religion. Le Harnachement – now used for temporary exhibits this symmetrical building served as a munitions warehouse in the 18th century (middle of photo below):

The museum is very interesting, goes through the history of Nantes in fine detail. Lots of interesting artefacts. The history of the city snakes through the castle (rabbit's warren of rooms) allowing you to see the refurbished structure as you go. The museum is equipped with many multimedia devices. The castle and the museum try to offer a modern vision of the heritage by presenting the past, the present and the future of the city. Particularly interesting is the section on the slave trade and the involvement of the Nantes city. Note: While English audio guides are available the signs with each exhibit are almost exclusively in French. Excellent and impressive museum:

Model of the castle and a tapestry:

Crown of Duchess Anne:

Commercial ships of the Dukes of Bretagne:

Les Mascarons, masques en pierre:

Commerce Chambre:

Le Navire des armoiries:

Iconne Bretonne:

We exit the castle from the main entrance in Place Elder and turn RIGHT (north) . On our right is Rue Premon:

We climb with our face to the north along Rue Mathelin Rodier and within walk of 2 minutes we arrive to the Cathedral of St. Pierre and St. Paul. The cathedral resides on the right side (east side) of Place St. Pierre:

The 1868 alignment modeled a regular square, in the form of a 60-meter square, bordered by the identical facades of five-storey "Haussmanian" buildings, with shops on the ground floor. Balconies on the upper floors are cast iron:

St. Peter and St. Paul's Cathedral , built between 1434 and 1891, dominates the square. The cathedral's foundation stone was laid on 14 April 1434, by John V, Duke of Brittany and Jean de Malestroit, Bishop of Nantes (1417-1443). The first architect in charge was Guillaume de Dammartin who was later replaced by Mathurin Rodier. The building started when Nantes and Brittany were commercially prosperous. The cathedral is in the Gothic architectural tradition. Construction of the church began in 1434, on the site of a Romanesque cathedral, and took 457 years to finish, finally reaching completion in 1891. It has a classification as historical monuments since 1862 14 . Gothic style , 63 meters high , light in color due to the use of tufa. At the entrance to the cathedral, the steps of four steps, created during the leveling of the square of 1867, contributes to the majesty of the building. The steps outside seem to be a popular place to hang out, and they overlook the St. Pierre Square. The edifice was damaged by Allied bombing during World War II, on 15 June 1944. On 28 January 1972, a gigantic fire started on the roof. Firemen managed to bring it under control, but the timber frame was severely damaged and many other damages were inflicted. This event led to what was undoubtedly the most complete interior restoration of a cathedral in France:

The plain façade is largely compensated for by the polish of the interior of the building. The whiteness of the stone, accentuated by recent restoration work, the imposing dimensions of the nave and the aisles and the effect of the immense inner column create a Gothic atmosphere inside the cathedral.

The Nante Cathedral contains the tomb and recumbent Duke Francis II of Brittany and his wife Marguerite de Foix (the parents of Duchess Anne of Brittany):

You can leave the Cathedral from its west front or its eastern facade - continue walking northward along rue de L'ereche. Cross the city walls and Louis VI Square (or Place Maréchal-Foch). One of the most famous squares in Nantes , France , is an architectural ensemble designed in the 18th century. In its center the Louis XVI column , erected in 1790 as "Column of Liberty", 28 meters high , surmounted since the Restoration of a statue of the sovereign . It is one of the rare statues of Louis XVI still present in France in the public space. It was established in 1823:

From Place Maréchal-Foch head north-east onto Rue Gambetta. Turn right to Rue Henry IV, where the mighty Place de L'oratoire on your left. Turn, again, left onto Rue Georges Clemenceau and you'll see, on your left, the Musée d'arts de Nantes (Arts Museum of Nantes) or Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, 10 Rue Georges Clemenceau. The Musée d’arts de Nantes is open daily, from 11.00 to 19.00, except Tuesdays. Late-night opening all year round on Thursdays until 21.00. Closed on 1st January, 1st May, 1st November and 25th December. Prices (to all permanent and temporary exhibitions): adult: €8, concessions: €4. Guided tours: adult: €12, concessions: €8 or €4 or €2.50. The museum offers an overview of all the main French and European art movements, which places its collections among the largest public collections of province alongside some of Museums of Fine Arts of Valenciennes, Grenoble, Lyon, Lille and Montpellier. Artworks in the collection include paintings from the 13th century to modern art. In 2011, the museum was closed for a maximum of 2 years to make major expansion work. Reopening of the museum finally took place in May-June 2017, after 3.5 years of delay. Exhibition space, restored facades, a restaurant and a bookshop all designed by the London's architecture firm Stanton Williams. The more famous painters represented in this museum are: Guido Reni, Peter Paul Rubens, Antoine Watteau (remember Hannah Rothschild's book of  'The Improbability of Love' ?), Camille Corot, Raoul Dufy, Max Ernst, Wassily Kandinsky, Fernand Léger, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Georges Seurat, Paul Signac  and Alfred Sisley. It is a fabulous, neat, polished architectural gem. The collection is huge. You may spend here a day. A real experience for a rainy day. You can buy a pass for 8 euros entitling unlimited visits in this museum combined with the Château des Ducs de Bretagne ! The visit in the museum's halls is an experience in its own !

Pietro Perugino, Sant'Antonio da Padova e San Sebastiano, 1476-78:


Georges de La Tour, The Denial of Saint Peter, 1650:

Jean-Antoine Watteau, Harlequin, Emperor on the Moon, 1707:

Nicolas Lancret, Before the Constume Ball, 1743:

The Wheat Sifters, Gustave Courbet, 1854:

First Leaves, near Nantes, Camille Corot, 1855:

Portrait de Mademoiselle Stéphanie Brousset, Jules-Élie Delaunay, 1871:

Léon Comerre, Le Déluge (The Flood):

Vassily Kandinsky, Gegenklänge, 1924:

Wassily Kandinsky, Mild Process, 1928:

Wassily Kandinsky. Downwards, 1929:

We leave the Museum of Fine Arts in nantes and head northeast on Rue Georges Clemenceau toward Rue Élie Delaunay, 210 m. We turn right onto Allée des Magnolias, 50 m and face the main entrance to Jardin des Plantes, Rue Stanislas Baudry. Open daily. FREE. The two exhibition greenhouses: Monday to Friday: 12.30 to 18.00, Saturday and Sunday: 09.30 to 18.00. Guided tours for individuals: FREE. From the front of the reception located next to the restaurant north of the garden: Monday 15.00, Visit of greenhouses: → Wednesday 15.00, Friday 15.00, Saturday 11.00, 15.00, 16.00, 17.00,  Sunday 10.00, 11.00, 15.00, 16.00, 17.00. The greenhouses are wheelchair accessible. Palm Island's greenhouse: daily from 12.00 to 18.00. The Nantes botanical garden started in 1688 as a small medicinal plant garden outside the city walls. In 1726 it was transformed as a Royal Garden for exotic plants. By 1795 the garden again reverted to a medicinal garden, and slowly declined until its demise in 1877. The current garden was first established in 1806 under the leadership of Jean Alexandre Hectot, and by 1807 contained a magnificent magnolia which still exits (the Magnolia d'Hectot). It became a municipal garden in 1820 and opened to the public in 1829. Under director Jean Marie Ecorchard, it was restyled as an English park containing some 2500 species. The last section was created in the 1850s, including a remarkable fountain (1859) that operated for 130 years without maintenance or repair. After more than a decade of neglect, active restoration began in the early 1890s under the leadership of Paul Marmy, who built the garden's palm house 1895-1898 and orangery in 1899. By 1900 the garden was substantially complete in its current form. From Wikipedia: "Today the garden contains about 11,000 species planted within a web of ponds, waterways, and paths, with an artificial "mountain" and fine collection of statues, as well as pavilions, fountains, and cascades. It features an excellent collection of camellias (600 cultivars), mature specimens of Magnolia grandiflora (219 years old), Liriodendron tulipifera (150 years), Sequoiadendron giganteum (150 years), and Sequoia sempervirens (150 years), Aesculus hippocastanum (140 years), Platanus acerifolia (140 years), as well as fine specimens of Arbutus unedo, Carpinus betulus, Ginkgo biloba, Liquidambar styraciflua, Pterocarya caucasica, and Quercus mirbeckii.". The gardens complex have many entrances. On their southern side resides the Gare SNCF (railway station). The gardens ARE MAGNIFICENT. There many points of interest including topiary, lakes or ponds, waterfalls, sculptures, hot houses and planted structures. Trees and plants from ALL around the world are clearly labeled. Bring your camera as the vistas and the flowers are spectacular. Take your time and walk the entire park. There are tables where you can sit and eat your own picnic if you have brought one with you EXCEPT the grass which is NOT for sitting on. It is a lovely spot and definitely worth visiting:

We took our lunch in the restaurant of the Jardin des Plantes - Cafe De L'Orangerie. 13.50 euros/person for Poulette+Pommes de Terre. Delicious, pleasant and efficient with young friendly staff. The chalk board Menu de Jour is quite limited but good quality. Expect the cafe to be crowded during the weekends. In a bright day it is a good idea to sit in the outside terrace.

We change direction and head, now, to the south-west districts of Nantes. First, we walk 1.7 km. from the Jardin des Plantes to Basilique Saint-Nicolas. From the Jardin des Plantes, Rue Stanislas Baudry, we head southwest and slight left at Volière, 158 m. Turn right toward Rue Ecorchard, 20 m. Turn left onto Rue Ecorchard, 15 m. Turn right onto Boulevard de Stalingrad, 100 m. Continue onto Allée Commandant Charcot, 300 m. We passthrough several hotels (the railway station is nearby) like: Ibis and Kyriad. Turn left onto Cours John Kennedy, 5 m. Turn right toward Rue de Strasbourg, 300 m. Turn left onto Rue de Strasbourg, 20 m. Turn right onto Cours Franklin Roosevelt, 400 m. Turn right onto Allée Cassard, 150 m. Continue onto Allée d'Orléans, 130 m. Turn left onto Rue de Feltre, 50 m. You see the Basilica on your left. Turn left onto Rue Affre and Basilique Saint-Nicolas, 5 Rue Affre is on the right after 70 m. Under the leadership of Felix Fournier , pastor of the parish and future bishop of Nantes, the construction of the current church ranges from 1844 to 1869. The tomb of Félix Fournier (died in 1877), had been installed in 1883 in the basilica. The church is badly damaged during the bombing of September 16 , 1943. The rebuilding project began in 1953 and lasts until 1974 . The damaged great organ, dating from 1901, was later rebuilt, in two sections of work, in 1963 and 1985. Saint-Nicolas is  a church that the father of Jules Verne (see below) helped rebuild in the 1840. His father belonged to the parish council that commissioned the building, and was one of the first subscribers. The old church, which leaned against the ramparts and had threatened collapse for over a century, served as the backdrop to Verne’s first novel, which he never finished and was published by the City of Nantes in 1992 (Un prêtre en 1839, le cherche midi éditeur):

Next, we walk 250 m. to the new fresco of Jules Verne. From Basilique Saint-Nicolas head north on Rue Affre toward Rue du Pré Nian, 60 m. Turn left onto Rue de Feltre, 110 m. Turn left onto Place du Bon Pasteur and take the stairs, 70 m. Over the stairs in Rue de L'echelle - you see the fresco of Jules Verne depicting Jules Verne and his Voyages Extraordinaires. This large mural to the glory of the most famous child of Nantes, on the wall of a building along the stairs of the rue de l'Echellet is part of the route "in the footsteps of Jules Verne" already existing.  Directed by the muralist painter Jean-Yves Jodeau, this fresco is fourteen meters wide and twelve above. It depicts the port of Nantes as known by the little Jules, but also the Albatross, the Scarecrow, and a Jules Verne with a white beard (although Nantes is rather related to his childhood). The work of preparation of the wall began in November 2007 and the fresco is completed at the beginning of the year 2008:

With our face to the mural, we take the road on our right, Rue Contrescarpe and turn left to Rue Crebillon and we arrive to Place Royale, where we see the high tower of Basilique Saint Nicholas. The square was designed in 1786 by the Nantes architect Mathurin Crucy . Built in 1790 after the destruction of the medieval ramparts. It has a monumental fountain inaugurated in 1865. The monumental fountain, was designed by the city architect Henri Théodore Driollet and symbolizes the fluvial and maritime vocation of Nantes. Its pyramidal structure is composed of three granite basins superimposed. It shows allegorical figures of Nantes (top), of the Loire river (front) and of its tributaries: the Erdre (front left), the Sèvre nantaise (front right), the Cher (right, hidden) and the Loiret (left, hidden). Architect of the place: Mathurin Crucy (1788). Fountain by Daniel Ducommun de Locle, Guillaume Grootaërs and Simon Voruz (1865). Despite its name, the square had never hosted a monarch statue, like the other Royal squares in France. It is an iconic site in Nantes, and is a popular point of artistic, festive or political gatherings. The site, very damaged during the Second World War , is restored almost identically between 1945 and 1961. The square, entirely paved with granite blocks, is served by nine streets:  Crebillon , the Pit , Gorges , La Perouse , Orleans , Commandant-Boulay , L'Arche-Sèche , Saint-Julien and the Vieilles-Douves. It is located at one of the lowest points of the city:

Basilique saint Nicholas from Place Royale. Behind the Basilica stands Tour Bretagne with 26 floors:

We leave the Place Royale from its most southern end and walk DOWN (southward) along Rue de la Fosse. On our right (west) is the pretty Passage Pommeraye. A very special shopping center with very old and luxury architecture and fantastic photo opportunities. A classy, multi-level mall with marvelous, colorful shops. Lovely roof, statues and  staircases. A vintage atmosphere at its best. Named after its property developer, Louis Pommeraye. Construction started at the end of 1840 and was completed on 4 July 1843. Two architects, Jean-Baptiste Buron and Hippolyte Durand Gasselin, contributed to its design:

We cross and walk through the mall from east to west. We exit the shopping centre at Rue Crébillon and turn left to continue climbing south-west along Rue Crébillon. Walking 300 m. along Rue Crébillon will bring us to the impressive square of Place Graslin. It is served by eight roads:  Crebillon , Moliere , Corneille , Racine , Voltaire , Piron , Regnard and Jean-Jacques-Rousseau. The square is mostly pedestrianized , except the west side serving the streets Racine and Piron (the beginning of the street Voltaire is also pedestrianized) which are open to traffic. On its north side is the Graslin Theater ; south of the square is La Cigale restaurant and brewery. Jean-Joseph-Louis Graslin was the promoter of this square from 1777. In 1960, the place served as an outdoor setting during the filming of Lola (1961) by Jacques Demy. The theatre, in the north side, was built in 1788 , on the plans of Mathurin Crucy . Twelve steps lead to the vestibule , while eight Corinthian columns support the pediment. Ravaged by a fire in 1796 , it was only after the visit of the Emperor Napoleon I , in 1808 , that the theater was rebuilt. This operation was conducted from 1811 , still under the leadership of Crucy. A little later, during the period of the Second Restoration , the sculptor Dominique Molknecht creates the eight antique-style muses overlooking each column, as well as statues of Molière and Corneille overlooking the main staircase, visible from the square.

tThe theater (middle) and the café le Molière (left):

La Cigale , which is one of the most beautiful breweries of France in the style " Art Nouveau", faces the theater from the south side of the square, was inaugurated on April 1 ,1895. It is a place very frequented by comedians at the exit of the theater. Thus, the actor Jean-Louis Trintignant (Claude Lelouch classic movie "A Man and a Woman", which at the time was the most successful French film ever screened in the foreign market) said of this brewery that it was "probably the most beautiful brewery in the world":

We leave Place Graslin from its southern edge. Behind La Cigale resides Cours Cambronne. Head south on Place Graslin and continue onto Rue Piron, 30 m. Turn right onto Cours Cambronne, 100 m. This avenue is approximately 180 meters long and 50 meters wide. You enter this manicured avenue (from both of its sides) via wrought iron gates located at both ends: rue Piron to the east and rue des Cadeniers in the west. The west gate is further framed by two stone sentry posts . The course is bordered by a row of identical buildings on the north side (overlooking rue Gresset ) and south (overlooking rue de l'Héronnière ). The avenue is planted with silver lime trees , magnolias with large flowers , adorned with boulingrins and flower beds


In the center of the avenue is a statue of Pierre Cambronne , created by Paris sculptor Jean Debay . According to a very popular legend, Pierre Cambronne, commanding the last square of the Old Guard at Waterloo, summoned to surrender by the British General Colville , Cambronne would have replied: "The guard dies but does not surrender! ".  During the Waterloo battle, Cambrone was seriously wounded. He was indeed taken prisoner after the massacre of the last squares. Led to England, he wrote to Louis XVIII to obtain permission to return to France. He returns without having received an answer, is arrested, taken to Paris , brought before the council of war. He is released to attend his trial for treason ( attack of France at gunpoint ). Defended by the royalist Berryer, he was set free on April 26, 1816. Cambronne then returned to live in Nantes at No. 3, rue Jean-Jacques-Rousseau. He died in the night of January 28 to 29, 1842, at his home in Nantes Street Jean-Jacques-Rousseau, and was buried in the cemetery Misericordia . By an order of December 5, 1842, King Louis-Philippe I authorized his hometown to raise a statue in his honor. The monument is inaugurated on July 28, 1848, and placed in the center of the avenue which since 1936 bears his name . In Paris , a street , a square and a metro station located in the 15th arrondissement bear his name:

We walked the whole Cours Cambronne from north-east to south-west. We turn right (north) to Rue des Cadeniers and, immediately, LEFT (west) to Rue Voltaire. After passing Rue Mascara, on your left, the street changes its name to Rue Dobrée. In 18, rue Voltaire stands Palais Dobrée hosting the Departmental Museum Thomas-Dobrée. Public transport: Tram line 1 (stop Media Library) or Bus 11 (stop: Jean V). Coming from an old Huguenot family from Normandy , established in Guernsey in the 16th century, Thomas Dobrée abandoned business at twenty-eight years of age. Then he devoted himself to collecting works of art. From 1862, he devoted himself to the construction of his "palace. The palace was intended to accommodate the ten thousand objects of art that he spent his life collecting them. His collections were particularly rich in precious books and old Breton prints and in manuscripts for paintings, autographs, coins and medals, in graphic arts (in particular the German and Dutch engravers). But they also included a large collection of sculptures, paintings and decorative arts from the Middle Ages to the late nineteenth century. Dobrée then built in the immediate area of ​​the medieval manor of the Duke of Brittany Jean V (dating from the fifteenth century ), a palace that meets his expectations, and was the joint work of architects Simon , Boismen , Chenant and Le Diberder. The palace was not completed until 1899, four years after the death of Thomas Dobrée. Dobrée museum will reside, in the future,  into TWO remarkable buildings: the Dobrée Palace, neo-medieval style, with its tower 30 meters high and the Manoir de la Touche, former episcopal residence. The Dobrée Museum is under renovation and will open on 2021. At the moment visitors can access ONLY temporary exhibitions and the garden around. The gardens are open every day from 08.00 to 18.30 (19.30 in July and August). Closed: January 1st , November 1st and 11th, December 24th, 25th and 31st:


We continue walking south-west along Rue Voltaire and after 150 m. we arrive to the Eglise Notre Dame de Bon Port. The church was constructed in 1846 by the architects Seheult and Joseph-Fleury Chenantais:

From here we have to walk 750 m. to our final destination in Nantes: Les Machines de l'île. From Notre-Dame de Bon-Port, 1 Rue Dobree we head northeast on Rue Dobree toward Rue Massillon, 35 m. Turn right (south) onto Rue de la Verrerie, 270 m. Continue southward onto Boulevard Léon Bureau and cross the Loire over Pont Anne de Bretagne, 350 m. Turn right toward Mail des Chantiers, 20 m. Turn left toward Mail des Chantiers, 100 m. Turn left onto Mail des Chantiers, 10 m. and the huge site of Machines of the Isle of Nantes, Parc des Chantiers, Boulevard Léon Bureau is on your right. Les Machines de l'île is one of a kind in the world. This park or museum is a very exceptional experience for adults and children. The main player here, a company called "La Machine" is creating giant machines with the form of surreal animals for entertainment - automated animal-machines. You may call them "Outdoor Robots". The Machines of the Isle of Nantes (Les Machines de l'île) is an artistic, touristic and cultural project based in Nantes and aims to promote the city's image and tries to build an identity as a creative metropolis of dream and of fantasy. The site was opened to the public on 1 July 2007 in the old covered buildings of the former shipyards in Nantes that were once used for ship construction (les nefs), and later used as business sites. The Machines of the Isle were, actually, created by two artists: François Delarozière (of La Machine production company) and Pierre Orefice (of Manaus association). 

You can see the workshop where  the giant machines / animals are made and where new projects are starting. The animals are created out of machinery and wood. The only giant animal in motion is the elephant. it is magical and unforgettable to see the elephant walking and carrying people, either from on high (from the magical tree) or by walking alongside it. You have to pay extra if you want to go on it. The other machines are interesting, especially the dragon, a spider, a heron, a worm and an ant. People can go on them and "pilot" them under instruction from staff. The Gallery is a living place with the staging of a real bestiary of machines. It is a laboratory where the machines built in La Machine's workshop are tested. Sale of tickets on the spot, the same day, during the ticketing hours, within the limits of available places. Each ticket gives access to the terraces of the workshop, the film and the Prototype Branch of the Heron Tree. This ticket is different of the Trip in Grand Elephant. In case you want to see the galleries and ride the Giant Elephant - you are obliged to buy to two distinct tickets ! The following prices hold for the TWO tracks of visit. Adult price:8,50 €, concessions - people with disability. Free of charge: Children under 4 years old and the accompanying person of a disabled person. There are MANY other options and types of tickets. The gallery or workshop option is intended only for the persons who can understand French. If you don't, we advice you to skip this attraction. Inside, the employees introduce all the machines one by one in French. They show how they work and, if you are lucky, you might be chosen to ride the machine. During the presentation, the place gets very crowded and you can barely see anything. The machines are FANTASTIC. Unfortunately, they don't work on their own, but rather with a help of a lifting system and under the guidance of the staff members. Very  small number of people can go on the machines and you have to watch them downstairs with herds of other people. Not very well organised and sadly not in English. More or less holds for the Elephant. If we consider adults only -  just standing watching it go for a walk is amazing and well worth a FREE visit. You get better photographs of the mighty elephant from ground level. In the summer months the queues can be long. Beware of the water while the elephant is marching on. Its funny to see the elephant using its trunk to spray water on people. Our advice: just go and see the elephant and carousel from the outside for free. Free entrance if you use your Nantes City Pass. Highly recommended. Allow 2-3 hours.

The Great Elephant is a mechanical elephant (2007) with 12 meters high and 8 meters wide, made from 45 tons of wood and steel. It can take up to 49 passengers for a 45-minute walk. It is a non-exact replica of The Sultan's Elephant from the French group Royal de Luxe (from Aix-en-Provence), which toured the world from 2005 to 2007:

The Marine Worlds Carrousel (Carrousel des Mondes) (2012) is a huge carousel, rising nearly 25 m. high and measuring 20 m. in diameter. Visitors move about amidst a ballet of aquatic animals and sea carriages, as well as climb aboard and guide the movements of the Machines. Three carousels are stacked in a genuine concrete lacework topp­ed by a marquee adorned with pediments, and guarded by 16 fishermen from all the oceans of the world. You witness the sea every way, from the depths of the bottom, through the abysses, right up to the surface of the sea:

The Arbre aux Hérons (The Herons Tree) is still a model at this moment, though. This future project will consist of a 35 meter tall steel tree with herons nests in it, of which you can already see a prototype branch outside, above the café and gift shop:

The Workshop:

In case you decided to complete your busy 1-day tour in Nantes - it is a 2.7 km. walk to the railway station. From the Carrousel of the Marine Worlds you head northwest, 25 m. Turn right toward Quai Fernand Crouan, 15 m. Turn left toward Quai Fernand Crouan, 65 m, Turn right onto Quai Fernand Crouan, 80 m. Turn left to stay on Quai Fernand Crouan, 160 m. Take the pedestrian tunnel, and, the stairs - approx. 250 m. Continue straight onto Quai François Mitterrand, 90 m. Turn left onto Passerelle Victor Schoelcher, 450 m. Turn left toward Cours Franklin Roosevelt and walk along it for 700 m.  Turn left onto Rue de Strasbourg, 20 m. Turn right at Allée du Port Maillard, 300 m. Turn left onto Cours John Kennedy, 5 m. Turn right onto Allée Commandant Charcot, 300 m. Turn right at Rue Stanislas Baudry, 20 m. Turn left onto Espl. Pierre Semard, 100 m. You are in Gare de Nantes, 27 Boulevard de Stalingrad.

Paris, around the right bank of the Seine

Ariel Shafir


Paris - along the right bank of the river Seine: from Place de la Bastille to Pont de Bir-Hakeim.

Tip 1Main Attractions: Place de la Bastille, Bassin de l'Arsenal, Pont Morland, Pont de Sully, Pont Marie, Hôtel de Sens (detour), Pont Louis Philippe, Église Saint-Gervais (detour), Hôtel de Ville, Pont au Change, Place du Châtelet, Tour Saint-Jacques (detour), Pont d'Arcole, Pont Notre-Dame, Pont Neuf, Pont des Arts, Pont du Carrousel, Pont Royal, Pont de la Concorde, Pont Aleexandre III, Pont des Invalides, Pont de l'Alma, 

Distance: approx. 14 km. Weather: Bright day ONLY. Duration: 6-8 hours. Our suggestion for lunch: quite late in this route - near Alma Bridge. Option for extension: continue southward from Bir-Hakeim bridge, along the Seine to Pont de Grenelle or Pont Mirabeau (additional 900 m. / 1.4 km..). Not included in this itinerary: all the iconic attraction near the Seine: the Louvre museum, Musée d'Orsay, Eiffel Tower etc'. They are all included in other Tipter blogs.

Start: Bastille Metro station. End: Bir-Hakeim metro station (or Javel metro station with the extension option).

General orientation: a brilliant idea for your last, concluding day in this wonderful city. It contains most of the famous, iconic sights and attractions in central Paris. Our suggestions: do this itinerary from east to west. The sun will be on your back. The photo ops are better - if you start at the morning and complete the route during the late afternoon hours. The major part is along the Seine river - but, we included several short detours - deviating from the water front. Many part are even shaded with linden and plane trees along the river banks. It is a flat, convenient roue for pedestrians. ONLY the last section, along New York avenue - just before approaching the Bir-Hekeim bridge (near Tour Eiffel) is under reconstructions. This section is unfriendly for walkers. Be careful when you cross one or two bustling roads leading (from the south) to Avenue New York. Anyway, your last spot would be, in this itinerary, the Eiffel Tower. The closest metro station, to the tower, is Bir-Hekeim (approx. 500 m. from the entrance (under strict security measures) to the famous tower. Most of the restaurants, along and close to tis route - are expensive and tourists traps. The only solution is to get off from the river promenades, into the city alleys, and find a cheaper one - probably near Alma bridge or, better, near Place du Châtelet, on the right bank of the river Seine, on the borderline between the 1st and 4th arrondissements, at the north end of the Pont au Change, a bridge that connects the Île de la Cité, near the Palais de Justice and the Conciergerie, to the right bank (the closest métro station is Châtelet).

Remember: there are many bridges over the Seine. One very good way to see them is to undertake a river cruise. This allows you to see the ornate stone work as well as ornamental work. Spring is the best time of the year. Late afternoon is the best time during the day.

We start at the Place de la Bastille. It is called the Bastille square - but, no vestige of the prison remains. It was destroyed during the French Revolution, between 14 July 1789 and 14 July 1790. The capture of the Bastille, on July 14, 1789, marks the start of the French Revolution. It is celebrated each year as the Bastille Day, which was also declared the French national holiday in 1860. Two days after the crowds had captured the Bastille - the fort or prison was demolished. As a consequence of its historical significance, the square is often the site or point of departure of political demonstrations.

The square borders 3 arrondissements of Paris, namely the 4th, 11th and 12th. Not so much to see around. The original outline of the fort is also marked on the pavement of streets and pathways that pass over its former location, in the form of special paving stones. Some stones of the former foundation are visible in the Bastille metro station, at line no. 5. 

The July Column (Colonne de Juillet) stands at the center of the square and commemorates the 1830 revolution, during which king Charles X was replaced by king Louis-Philippe.  The bottom half of the column is plastered in advertising billboards...:

Another notable attraction in the Bastille square is the imposing Bastille Opera. The Bastille Opera building was opened on July 14, 1989 during the bicentennial celebrations of the French revolution. It was part of the 'grand projects' initiated by the former French president François Mitterrand. The massive building was meant to be a modern and democratic opera building, as opposed to the aristocratic Palais Garnier. A metro exit as well as shops are integrated in the building, reinforcing the idea of a 'people's opera'. The Bastille Opera is by far the largest opera building of the two. Its auditorium seats 2700 people. The design by Carlos Ott, chosen from 750 entries in an international competition, contrasts starkly with its environment. The square is home to concerts and similar events. The north-eastern area of Bastille is busy at night with its many cafés, bars, night clubs, and concert halls.

Not much to see in this congested and polluted square. It is NOT one of Paris' most beautiful spots.In case you prefer to skip the Place de la Bastille and start our route with the Bassin de l'Arsenal - you can arrive to one of the following metro stations: Quai de la Rapée (50 m. walk to the southern end of the basin) or Sully – Morland (500 m. walk to the basin).

The large area behind the past fort has been transformed into a marina for pleasure boats, the Bassin de l'Arsenal or Port Arsenal, to the south, which is bordered by the Boulevard de la Bastille. Port Arsenal is the main reason for starting our route in the Bastille. It is a pleasant walk along its banks - until we arrive to the river Seine itself. To the north, a covered canal (and further north, an open one), the Canal Saint-Martin, extends north from the marina beneath the vehicular roundabout that borders the location of the fort, and then continues for about 4.4 kilometers to the Place de la Bataille-de-Stalingrad. Your best bets are Thursdays and Sundays (08:00-14:00): a large, open-air market occupies part of the park to the north of the Place de la Bastille, along the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir. Locals and tourists find fresh fruit, fish, meat, cheese and breads and, mainly, typical flea market items. Note the "crayons" (home-made saucisson/sausages' snacks) with different flavors.  Many cafés and some other businesses largely occupy the close-by Rue de la Roquette and the Rue Saint-Antoine passes directly over it as it opens onto the roundabout of the Bastille.

From the Place de la Bastille - we head southward along Boulevard Bourdon (it deviates from Avenue Henri IV) along the Bassin de l'Arsenal.  We walk 650 m. along the pleasant east bank of the Arsenal port until we meet Boulevard Morland. From here we get a nice view of the whole arsenal port/canal with the (remote) Colonne de Juillet in the Place de la Bastille:

No tourists around. Very calm and pretty place to relax from the hassle of Paris. The canal tour company Canauxrama (their centre is in the Bassin de la Villette - and they have a small stall also in the Arsenal port) runs a daily 2.5hr cruise (with possibility of lunch and dinner à la carte) along the Canal Saint-Martin which departs 09.45 and 14.30 from the charming Arsenal Marina to the Parc de la Villette or inversely. It costs €18. Bar on board:

The Bassin de l'Arsenal (Port de l'Arsenal) links the Seine river with the Canal Saint-Martin. It is bordered by the Boulevard Bourdon (4th arrondissement) on the westerly side (Where we walk) and the Boulevard de la Bastille (the 12th arrondissement) on the easterly side. The arsenal basin derives its name from the name of the neighborhood, Arsenal, bordering the westerly (4th arrondissement) side of the basin. The destruction of the Bastille created the fossé (ditch) in the foreground. This fossé was later converted into the Bassin de l'Arsenal. During the French Revolution, the Bassin de l'Arsenal was excavated to replace the ditch that had been in place to draw water from the Seine to fill the moat at the fortress. During the nineteenth century and most of the twentieth, the Bassin de l'Arsenal was a commercial port where goods were loaded and unloaded. The port was converted into a leisure port in 1983 by a decision of the Paris City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and it is now run by the Association for the Leisure Port of Paris-Arsenal. Since that time, it has been a marina (port de plaisance), for approximately 250 pleasure boats.

As we said before, we end our walk in the Arsenal Basin with facing the Pont Morland. We cross the Avenue Morland and Blvd. Henri IV and turn north-west along the Seine river. It is 550 m. walk, along Quai Henri IV, to the next bridge - Pont de Sully. The view of Notre-Dame Cathedral from Quai Henri IV:

When we approach Pont de Sully - we see the southern edge of Île Saint-Louis:  one of two natural islands in the Seine river (the other natural island is Île de la Cité):

We see the Pont de Sully from the east. Actually, there are two separate bridges meeting on the south-eastern tip of the Île Saint-Louis. They link the 4th and 5th arrondissements of Paris along Boulevard Henri IV, and they connect, also, to the eastern end of the Boulevard Saint-Germain. it connects the Pavillon de l’Arsenal on the Right Bank to the Institut du Monde Arabe (Left Bank). Sully-Morland is, again, the nearest Metro station. The current bridge was constructed in 1876, as part of Haussmann's renovation of Paris, and opened on 25 August 1877. It is named in honour of Maximilien de Béthune, duke of Sully (1560-1641) and minister to Henry IV. The two bridges were built with an angle of about 45 degrees to the river banks. The view from the south (where we appreoach the bridge) is more beautiful since the southern section is comprised of  three cast-iron arches. From the south-east - Pont de Sully offers one of the loveliest views of Ile Saint-Louis and Notre Dame Cathedral:

It is 500 m. walk to the next bridge - Pont Marie. We walk, now, along the Quai de Celestins. Leaving the Pont de Sully, we pass near Square Henri-Galli on our right. It is triangular in shape and is framed by boulevard Henri-IV , quai Henri-IV and Quai des Célestins. In the corner formed by Boulevard Henri IV and Quai Henri IV there are vestiges of one of the eight towers of the Bastille prison. Arriving to Pont Marie - we start walking along Quai de l'Hôtel de Ville. The bridge links the Île Saint-Louis to the Quai de l'Hôtel de Ville and is one of three bridges designed to allow traffic flow between the Île Saint-Louis and the Left and Right banks of Paris. The bridge is one of the oldest bridges in Paris. The Pont Marie links the Right Bank and is the counterpart of the Pont de la Tournelle which is hardly seen from the distance, on our left, and built along the same line but serves to connect the Île Saint-Louis with the Left Bank. The Pont Marie derives its name from the engineer Christophe Marie, who proposed its construction beginning in 1605. Actually, the bridge was approved for building by the king only on 1614, at which point Louis XIII laid the first stone as part of a formal bridge building ceremony. The Pont Marie's construction was spread out over 20 years, from 1614 to 1635. Around 50 houses lined the bridge in the 17th century, but were later demolished. Since the 18th century, the structure has seen little change. The Pont Marie connects the Marais with the Ile Saint-Louis. Closest Métro station: Pont Marie. Arriving to the Marie bridge is a good excuse to stop here and take lots of pictures of Île Saint-Louis and the river. It's just the right place for taking pictures for TV teams and romantic couples. You won't regret coming here during the sunset and night hours:

Allow time to make a short detour at the Gardens of Hôtel de Sens, 7 Rue des Nonnains d'Hyères, a superb 15th-century building, on the right (east) side of Pont Marie. Hotel de Sens is one of only three medieval residences remaining in all of Paris. It is a a stately medieval castle, complete with turrets, spires and grand stone arches. The castle was built between 1475 and 1507. The Hotel de Sens is most famous for having served for several months as the residence of Queen Margot who moved into the building in 1605 after her marriage to King Henri IV. The Hotel de Sens was confiscated during the French Revolution and began a long chapter of misuse and neglect. The City of Paris bought the building in 1911. In 1929 it was turned into the Bibliotheque Forney, a textile and graphic art library and museum, with an extensive collection including 230,000 prints and 48,000 museum catalogues. From 2011, the castle was once again cleaned and renovated. Nowadays, the hotel still houses the Forney art library:

The gardens are BEAUTIFUL with magnificent floral creations and very relaxing:

Our next bridge is Pont Louis Philippe - 330 m. walk from Pont Marie, along Quai de l'Hôtel de Ville. Pont Louis Philippe links the Quai de Bourbon on the Île Saint-Louis with the Saint-Gervais neighborhood on the right bank. King Louis-Philippe laid the first stone of a wooden suspension bridge on July 29, 1833 - marking his accession to the throne after the Revolution of 1830. This unnamed bridge was opened to traffic on July 26, 1834. It was burned during the Revolution of 1848, but was fully restored. It was eventually named Pont de la Réforme, a name it kept until 1852. The bridge was opened to traffic in August 1862. The bridge leads into the Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe. Closest Métro station: Pont Marie. One of the most sought-out spots in Paris, by the Seine river, to enjoy the sunset:

View to the Notre-Dame Cathedral from Pont Louis-Philippe:

Again, we make a break and spare 1 hour for visiting an overwhelming museum - The Shoah Memorial. Turn right to Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, turn left to Rue de l'Hôtel de ville and climb, immediately, to Rue des Barres - a charming small alley. On our left is the Église Saint-Gervais.  Saint Gervais church, 13 rue Barres is the oldest church in the north of Paris. It is named for brothers and Roman officers who were martyred by Nero. The Saint-Gervais Church sheltered one of the most famous families of French musicians during more than two centuries since 1653: the Couperin family. On the side of the church still remains the house of these famous organists and composers as well as a plate commemorating their address. The prestigious organ of Louis and François Couperin exists still today inside the Church. It was rebuilt in 1212, in 1420 and in 1581. Its very high Gothic vaults are as bold as they are elegant. The church of Saint-Gervais possessed stained glass windows by Jean Cousin and Pinaigrier which still exist in part, paintings by Albrecht Dürer, Champaigne and Lesueur:

Inside, the building is richly decorated. A stone crown adorns the keystone of the chapel of the Virgin. The stained glass windows of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste chapel date back to 531 and illustrate the Wisdom of Solomon:

Leaving Église Saint-Gervais - we continue walking northward along Rue des Barres and turn, immediately, right to the Alee des Justifis (or: rue Grenier sur L'eau) to meet the secured yard and building of the Mémorial de la Shoah: a whole complex (multimedia center, library, reading room, memorial monuments, exhibitions and documents of the slaughtered French Jews during the Holocaust. For those who are remembered forever. The museum is mesmerizing, evocative and moving and totally in contrary to romantic and joyful Paris - particularly the crypt with the eternal flame. This location had been chosen since Le Marais had a large Jewish population before WW2.  Be prepared for VERY tight security procedures and for unforgettable experience inside. A must. Amazing restraint and dignity in this sobering memorial. As you enter, you go through walls with the names and birth dates of the victims. Inside, the most bottom floor is dedicated to the permanent exhibition: the events that lead up to the holocaust. There is special room with photographs of the murdered children. On the middle floor -  a temporary exhibit of the years after-war. On May 2017 - the trial against Klaus Barbie - the "Butcher of Lyon". We found the museum, during our unplanned visit - FULL with French young students and researchers. Please pay tribute to the murdered ! Free admission. NO photos inside:

We rturn via Rue Geoffroy l'Asnier to the Quai de l'Hôtel de Ville and continue walking along the Seine and Quai de l'Hôtel de Ville westward. We, quickly face, on our right, the Paris Hôtel de Ville. It has been the headquarters of the municipality of Paris since 1357. It serves multiple functions, housing the local administration, the Mayor of Paris (since 1977), and also serves as a venue for large receptions. The northern (left) side of the building is located on the Rue de Rivoli. The nearby Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville (BHV) is a department store named after the Hôtel de Ville. one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris. There are numerous statues on and around the building. The architecture is grand and the interior is splendid. Note: in front of the Town Hall big courtyrad are TWO "Paris Water Springs" to refill bottles: the water is free, fresh and perfectly drinkable. What a treat !   Closest Metro station: Hôtel de Ville:

Continue walking north along Quai de l'Hôtel de ville. Cross Place de l'Hôtel de Ville. On our left is the Pont au Change. It connects the Île de la Cité from the Palais de Justice and the Conciergerie, to the Right Bank, at the Place du Châtelet. The current bridge was constructed from 1858 to 1860, during the reign of Napoleon III. The bridge bears the letter N which is the imperial insignia of Napoleon III. It owes its name to the goldsmiths and money changers who had installed their shops on the bridge in the 12th century. It provides a pretty view of the Seine on either side. This bridge was also featured in Les Miserables...

Our next attraction is the Place du Châtelet. The public square stands on the land that was once the site of the medieval fortress of Grand Châtelet. The fortress was built around 1130 by King Louis VI at the Pont au Change (a bridge) to defend the Île de la Cité, Paris's historic center. The area around the fortress was one of the city's most dangerous and criminal. During the rule of Napoleon, in the year 1808, the whole neighborhood including the Grand Châtelet was destroyed in an attempt to eradicate the criminality. After the area was cleared, the idea for a public square was carried out. The first thing we will notice,  approaching Place du Châtelet, is the large fountain that stands in the center. Known as the Palmier Fountain, it was built in 1808 and erected to pay homage to Napoleon's victory in Egypt. A golden winged figure sits atop the column in the center of the fountain and a number of sphinxes surround it, each commemorating a famous battle, including the Siege of Danzig (1807, Prussia), the Battle of Ulm (1805, Austria), the Battle of Marengo (1800, Italy), the Battle of the Pyramids (1798, Egypt), and the Battle of Lodi (1796, Italy):

On either side of the Place du Châtelet stands a theatre. West to the square is  Théâtre du Châtelet, is reserved for music and, more recently, hosted a number of popular Broadway-style musicals. The Théâtre de la Ville, which is situated on the east side of the square, is dedicated to theatrical performances, both classic and contemporary. This theatre was once owned by actress Sarah Bernhardt, who was born and died in Paris and lived much of her life there. The two theatres were designed by the French architect Jean- Antoine-Gabriel Davioud, and built around 1862 in an effort to attract more upper-class people to the area. The two buildings are almost mirror images of each other. Underneath this busy square lies one of the largest Metro stations in Paris, with five metro lines and three RER lines all converging under the square.

We skip the Pont d'Arcole and Pont Notre-Dame. The Arcole bridge connects the Hotel de Ville on the right bank to the Hôtel Dieu on the Île de la Cité. The name comes from the battle of Pont d'Arcole won by Napoleon Bonaparte on the Austrians in 1796. It was by the Pont d'Arcole that the first tanks of the 2nd Armored Division of General Leclerc arrived at the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville during the Liberation of Paris in August 1944:

Pont Notre-Dame links Quai de Gesvres on the right bank (Rive Droite) with Quai de la Corse on the Île de la Cité - one of the two natural islands on the Seine. The bridge is noted for being the "most ancient" in Paris - BUT, NOT keeping its original state. Each of the bridge's arches carries a head of Dionysus carved in stone. Its piles are decorated on each side with a ram's head. In the niches along the arches there are statues of Saint Louis, Henri IV, Louis XIII, and Louis XIV:

Our next detour and destination is the Tour Saint-Jacques. We turn right(north) to the Blvd. de Sebastopol. On our left we see the Chat Noir bar, 5, Blvd. de Sebastopol:

We cross Avenue Victoria and turn right (east) to the Tour Saint-Jacques. On summer 2017 the tower complex and the park around were surrounded by fences and ware under reconstruction. Wanting to have green spaces as in London, a park was made around the tower and a facing street was named in honor of Queen Victoria coinciding with her Paris visit. The tower is 52-metre high, Gothic tower, built between 1509 and 1523, and all that remains of the former 16th-century Church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie ("Saint James of the butchery"), which was demolished in 1797, during the French Revolution, leaving only the tower. This sanctuary was the meeting point on the Via Toronensis (or Tours route) of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle). The closest métro station is Châtelet. In the mid-seventeenth century, mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal chose to use Tour St-Jacques as his laboratory, where he conducted a variety of experiments on atmospheric pressure. In tribute to Pascal, a statue of the scientist stands at the base of the tower and a number of meteorological instruments were placed on the roof. Nice view from the top of the tower - when it is open. Three hundred steps lead to the summit of the former bell tower. Open: JUN-SEP only, WED-SUN, 10.00 - 17.00. Price: 10 € adult, youngsters under 18 - 8 €. It is possible to climb the tower in summer, but only with a guided tour. The stunning building is well preserved and a great site for taking some photos:

A stunning view of the tower from Rue Nicholas Flamel (the main entrance):

The statue of Blaise Pascal:

The Hotel de Ville from the Tour Saint Jacques:

View from the tower to the west towards Eiffel Tower:

View from the tower towards North East – From Beaubourg to Belleville:

View from the tower towards the Sacre Coeur and Montmartre:

We leave the Tour Saint Jacques and its gasrden\park from its north-east corner to connect with Rue Saint-Martin street  and walking northward along this road. This is, mainly, pedestrianized road packed with restaurants and boutique shops.  It is an old way and It takes its name from the former priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs , today assigned to the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts (CNAM), to which it leads.  We liked this atmospheric, typical-Parisien road. Rue Saint-Martin crosses Rue Rivoli and Rue Pernelle in its way from south to north and makes very long way to the north - until it ends in Blvd. Saint-Denis. It diverges (beyond rue Pernelle) to two interesting roads: rue de la Verrerie to the right (east) and rue des Lombards to the left (west). By the way - from the beginning of Saint-Martin road - you get another wonderful view of Tour Saint-Jacques. Turning right to rue de la Verrerie will bring you to an interesting road which is unique, mainly, after raising your head upward for catching its hidden gems. It dates from the 12th century and takes its name from the glass makers who were established there, according to the habits of the Middle Ages. The Rue de la Verrerie was, at the beginning of the 20th century, the street of merchants in grocery stores, or, as it was then called, in colonial goods:

The rue des Lombards is famous, above all, for hosting three of the main French jazz clubs : Le Baiser Salé, Le Duc des Lombards and the Sunset/Sunside. The Sunset/Sunside regularly welcomes world-class artists. Today, la rue des Lombards hosts a motley nightlife, mixing british pubs and gay bars, French restaurants and chicha bars, far from the financial turmoil of medieval times, except for the abusive prices of the drinks. It was originally a banking center in medieval Paris, a trade dominated by Lombard merchants from the 13th century and until the 18th century (as in the City of London).

We return to the Seine rive, but, now, we are in the Quai de Gesvres. We head to the Pont Neuf. It is 500 m. walk from Pont au Change to Pont Neuf along the Quai de la Mégisserie. The Pont Neuf ("New Bridge")  is the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine in Paris, Along with the Pont Alexandre III, it is one of the most beautiful bridges in Paris. The Pont Neuf actually consists of two different bridge spans, one on each side of the Île de la Cité, where the Place du Pont Neuf connects the two spans. The bridge has a total of twelve arches, with one span of seven arches joining the right bank and another span of five arches connecting Île de la Cité with the left bank. The other, near our route, is another of seven joining the island to the right bank.  The Pont Neuf meets Île de la Cité near the most northern tip of the island south to the Square du Vert-Galant -, a small public park named in honour of Henry IV, nicknamed the "Green Gallant". In the middle of the bridge stands the bronze statue of Henry IV on his horse. The statue, installed in 1818, faces the left bank. The bridge is full with couples' love PADLOCKS (padlocks on Pont Des Arts have been removed !). Breathtaking views all around. Be aware of pickpocketers. From the Vedettes du Pont Neuf,
1 Square du Vert Galant - departs, every half an hour, a 1-hour cruise along the Seine. The cruise passes through various spots along the Seine - EXACTLY in par with our Tipter route ! Internet prices ( Adult : 10,00 € "open" ticket (12 € for fixed-time departure), Child : 5,00 €:


350 m. further walking to the north-west along the Quai de Conti brings us to the Pont des Arts.This section is packed with books' stalls along the Seine:

Some of them with iconic vinyl records:

The Pont des Arts or Passerelle des Arts links the Institut de France on the left bank and the central square (cour carrée) of the Palais du Louvre on the right bank.  This bridge was built etween 1802 and 1804, under the reign of Napoleon I, as the first metal bridge in Paris.  The bridge is,  today, an open-air studio for painters, artists and photographers who are drawn to its unique point of view. From 2015 all padlocks had been avoided and torn-off from the bridge panels. Thousands of padlocks (with total weight of 50 tons) had been removed from the bridge. Metal panels of this bridge had been replaced with special glass panels, where locks cannot be attached to. The Arts bridge is not anymore serving as a repository for love padlocks. There is permanent presence of street artists or performers. We felt romantic without the mighty weight of the locks and their glittering from the metal locks. Closest Métro station: Pont Neuf:

Most of the next 450 m. from Pont des Arts to Pont du Carrousel is along Quai Malaquais. king Louis-Philippe named it Pont du Carrousel in 1834, because it opened on the Right Bank river frontage of the Palais du Louvre near the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in front of the Tuileries Gardens. The bridge is situated so as to make it in line with The Louvre Museum. The one you can see today was constructed between 1935 and 1939. Its unique feature are the four stone statues, which were designed by Louis Petitot as allegorical statues depicting Industry, Abundance, The City of Paris and The River Seine, which originate from the original bridge back in 1847, although the bases they sit on are more recent. Pont du Carrousel linking the Quai des Tuileries on the Right Bank to the Quai Voltaire on the Left Bank. The nearest Métro station is Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre. The bridge carries a huge volume of traffic back and forth across the river from the archway entrance to the Louvre, to the Quai Voltaire. The views, from the Carrousel bridge, are breathtaking with the tremendous Louvre on one side of the river (and the Musee d’ Orsay on the other side, on the left bank):

The next bridge downstream is the Pont Royal. Beyond Pont du Carrousel starts Quai François Mitterrand. We walk 300 m. to Pont Royal. The third oldest bridge in Paris, after the Pont Neuf and the Pont Marie. The Pont Royal meets the left bank of the Seine in Avenue du Général Lemonnier. The bridge is constructed with five elliptical arches. The construction of a new bridge was ordered by Louis XIV. Jules Hardouin was instructed to build a bridge in stone. The five-arch bridge was built between 1685 and 1689 using the best materials and finest stone. Since its construction, it has only been slightly modified. It is a listed historical monument.

Note the impressive building on the right bank - just before arriving to the bridge:

From the Pont Royal - you see, very clearly, from the right bank the impressive complex of Musée d'Orsay:

From Pont Royal starts Quai des Tuileries and extends until the Pont de la Concorde. Our next bridge is far less known and it is the passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor or pont de Solférino. The former cast iron bridge inaugurated by Napoleon III in 1861, which allowed vehicles to cross between quai Anatole-France and quai des Tuileries. The new passerelle de Solférino linking the Musée d'Orsay and the Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Gardens) was built between 1997 and 1999. Crossing the Seine with a single span and no piers, this metallic bridge is architecturally unique and covered in exotic woods. Its materials give the bridge a light and warm appearance. Its innovative designe brought Marc Mimram, its designer, the award "Prix de l'Équerre d'Argent" for the year 1999. It is a "passerelle" and not a "pont" because there is only pedestrian traffic. The bridge was renamed after Léopold Sédar Senghor, past president of Senegal (1960-1980) (and also former French minister), on 9 October 2006 on the centenary of his birth. This is a PRETTY bridge and ROMANTIC. Don't rush over this bridge and allow time to walk on this masterpiece of engineering and design. Closest Metro station: Assemblée Nationale:

Before approaching our next bridge, Pont de la Concorde- we (hardly) see and pass (on our right, in the most western edge of Jardin des Tuileries) the Musee de l'Orangerie:

Before approaching the Pont de la Concorde - we take another phote of our last stop, in this itinerary, the Eiffel Tower:

Pont de la Concorde links the Quai des Tuileries at the Place de la Concorde (on the Right Bank) and the Quai d'Orsay (on the Left Bank). It has formerly been known as the Pont Louis XVI, Pont de la Révolution, Pont de la Concorde, Pont Louis XVI again during the Bourbon Restoration (1814), and again in 1830, Pont de la Concorde, the name it has retained to this day. It had been planned since 1755, when construction of place Louis XV (now place de la Concorde) began, to replace the ferry that crossed the river at that point. A masterpiece of Jean-Rodolphe Perronet, conceived in 1772, The demolition of the Bastille offered the perfect opportunity to finish the bridge and build one of the first monuments of the new republic. Abolishing its original name of Pont Louis XVI, the Pont de la Révolution was completed in 1791. Traffic across the bridge became very congested and the bridge had to be widened on both sides between 1930 and 1932. Today, the Concorde square is one of the busiest spots in Paris. The bridge itself is nothing special. But, you can get nice views of the Seine from this bridge. Closest Metro stations Assemblée nationale and Concorde:

View of Pont Alexandre III from Pont de la Concorde:

550 m. seperate between Pont de la Concorde and Pont Alexandre III. But, this section is one of the most beautiful parts of the Seine banks - mainly, thanks to the magnificent Pont Alexandre III. First, we pass through the Port de la Concorde (on our left) and, while approaching Pont Alexandre III - we pass north to the Port des Champs-Élysées:

The more we approach the Pont Alexandre III - the more impressive are the sights on our left:

The last 200 m. before arriving to Pont Alexandre III from east to west, along the Port des Champs-Élysées - is not less than spectacular:

The Pont Alexandre III connects the Champs-Élysées quarter in the right bank with those of the Invalides and Eiffel Tower in the left bank. The bridge is the most ornate, grandiose bridge in the city. It was built between 1896 and 1900. this historical monument was constructed for the 1900 Universal Exposition in the French capital. It is named after Tsar Alexander III, who had concluded the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892.  The Pont Alexandre III opened just in time for the Universal Exposition of 1900 together with several structures that still stand today like the Gare d'Orsay, the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais. The exposition would attract an impressive 50 million visitors. This bridge is very unique in Paris with its exuberant Art Nouveau lamps, cherubs, nymphs and winged horses on its both ends. The style of the bridge reflects that of the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais , to which it leads on the right bank. The top design, by the architects Joseph Cassien-Bernard and Gaston Cousin, was constrained by the need to keep the bridge from obstructing the views from Les Invalides to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. The closest metro station to here is Champs-Élysées - Clemenseau or Invalides.

Four gilt-bronze statues of Fames watch over the bridge. The gilded statues of the fames (representing the illustrious Arts, Sciences, Commerce and Industry) are eye-catching when looking up at them against the blue sky. This is the north side of the bridge, and, from here we start the Cours la Reine section promenade - along Port des Champs-Élysées:

The Nymph reliefs are at the centres of the arches over the Seine. On each side of the Pont Alexandre III at the centre of the curved arch, there is an angular stone, which on one side shows a hammered copper sculpture of the Nymphs of Neva displaying the arms of Imperial Russia. On the opposite side sits a sculpture of the Nymphs of the Seine, showing the arms of France. Both sculptures were produced by Georges Recipon, who also worked on the construction of the Grand Palais, in preparation for the 1900 World Fair in Paris:

There are also two statues of lions designed by the French sculptors Jules Dalou and Georges Gardet:

Here, we are 150 m. "deep" (west) in Port des Champs-Élysées:

A view back (east) to the Pont Alexandre III on our way to Pont des Invalides:

We walk only 250 m. further west to arrive to the Pont des Invalides. Again, heavy traffic will hamper your enthusiasm of this bridge. But, you get good views of Paris and the Seine from this busy bridge. This is the lowest bridge over Seine. You get amazing views of Eiffel Tower from both sides of the bridge:

You find two moving monuments in the north side of Pont des Invalides, along the right bank. The first, in Place du canada,  is the Monument in Memory of the Russian Expeditionary Force 1916 - 1918 in Paris. The bronze statue shows an ordinary Russian soldier in uniform next to a horse that was designed to look like it was drinking water, and this was the vision of Vladimir Surovtsev who was the main Russian sculptor of this monument, which he gave it a name of The Spring, referring to the Russian Soldiers homeland.  The statue was inaugurated on 21st June 2011. On 27th November 2009, the Russian Prime Minister / President Vladimir Putin and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon approved the idea of establishing a memorial dedicated to the officers and soldiers of the Russian Expeditionary Force and an international competition was launched with the renowned artist Vladimir Surovtev being the overall winner. During World War I the Allies asked for help from Russia, and the Russians responded by sending 750 officers and 45,000 soldiers from the Russian Expeditionary Force, with two of the brigades being sent to fight alongside French soldiers in Champagne, France. Unfortunately over 5,000 Russians were killed in battle, most notably defending Reims and on the Somme River:

The second monument, in Cours Albert 1, is the Armenian Genocide Memorial commemorating the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and honors the French-Armenians who died during the first and second World Wars. The monument is dedicated, especially to Father Komitas (real name:Soghomon Soghomonian), composer, and musicologist who collected the songs of oral tradition of the Armenian people. The closest métro stations are Invalides and Franklin D. Roosevelt:

With this monument starts Jardin d'Erevan - a very nice section with Linden trees, a gorgeous pocket of landscaped greenery. The relatively unknown garden was inaugurated on 12 March 2009 by French foreign affairs minister Edvard Nalbandian in the presence of legendary French singers Charles Aznavour and Helène Ségara, both Armenian in heritage. Erevan is the French name for Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.

Our way from Pont des Invalides to Pont de l'Alma is especially splendid. The Jardin d'Erevan on our right and the bateaux Mouches on our left. The Bateaux-Mouches pier is located very close to the Pont de l’Alma on the Port de la Conférence. Another cruise company with boats departing from their extensive basin near the Pont des Invalides. THey own 6 passenger-boats for a romantic commentated trip down the Seine. Boat tours depart daily, running in both the daytime and evening. Most of them serve meals and have interior restaurants. The boats depart from there and travel up the Seine towards Notre Dame de Paris, passing by the Louvre Museum, the Town Hall and the Conciergerie. The boat turns around near to the Arab World Institute. Passing via the Monnaie (Paris Mint), down a small arm of the Seine between the Ile de la Cité and the Left Bank, gives you a close-up view to admire the Cathedral of Notre Dame. The cruise continues alongside the Musée d’Orsay and the National Assembly towards the Eiffel Tower. Most of their clientele are tourists groups. Price: 13 euros. Be advised: young Parisians standing on the bridges and throwing their drinks on the boats passengers' heads as you pass by... Most of the cruises are quite packed. This company runs also late-evening and late-night cruises as well. The boats are huge, flat and long and the views are good regardless of where you sit. Best at the front on the open top if the weather's allows. Magical atmosphere !  A great way to see the highlights of Paris at night without trekking from one location to the next.

View of Eiffel Tower and the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Quai Branley from Jardin d'Erevan. Note the tiger sculpture on Bateaux Muches complex roof:

Coming close to Pont de l'Alma and Place de l'Alma we observe the Mickiewicz monument. Commissioned by a Franco-Polish committee , the monument to Mickiewicz is a sculpture by Antoine Bourdelle . The first model dates from 1909 but Antoine Bourdelle saw the inauguration of this project, in Place de l'Alma, twenty years later on 28 April 1929 a few months before his death. Thereafter, the monument was moved to the Cours Albert- Ier at the Jardin d'Erevan in March 2009. It was a gift from the Poland to France:

Our next stop is the Place de l'Alma. Place de l'Alma is a square at the intersection of New York Avenue , President Wilson , George V , Montaigne and the Albert I promenade. The square is famous for its Flame of Liberty , a replica of the flame of the Statue of Liberty . This flame is overlooking the tunnel where Princess Diana died on 31 August 1997 in a car accident. It has since served as a monument to the memory of many admirers of the princess:

Pont de l'Alma (Alma Bridge) was named to commemorate the Battle of Alma during the Crimean War, in which the Ottoman-Franco-British alliance achieved victory over the Russian army, on 20 September 1854. Construction of an arch bridge took place between 1854 and 1856. It was designed by Paul-Martin Gallocher de Lagalisserie and was inaugurated by Napoleon III on 2 April 1856.

The Modern and Contemporary Art Museum of Nice - MAMAC - roof terraces worth the entrance fee on their own

Fabrice Pelletier


The Modern and Contemporary Art Museum of Nice (Musée d'art moderne et d'art contemporain), Address: Place Yves Klein, 06364 Nice.

Practical note: in case you stay in Nice at least 4 days - buy a 7-day pass giving access to most Nice museums for €20. Great value ! Price: 10 euro fee entrance. If you have a museum pass it is worth calling in.

Another note: the museum entrance is quite tricky to locate. You have to go up ABOVE the street level  before you can enter. NO disabled access to this modern building ! Give the museum a chance in a rainy day. No cafe' or restaurant.

Introduction: There are four floors each with plenty to see - but, the museum is recommended ONLY if you stay here and love art and architecture (Niki de Saint Phalle, Yves Klein, Andy Warhol, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Larry Poons, Morris Louis and Frank Stella, Claude Viallat, Bernard Pagès, Nöel Dolla, Daniel Dezeuze, Marc Devade Simon Hantaï, Olivier Mosset and Martin Barré). DO NOT MISS THE ROOF TERRACES !!!

History: The Modern and Contemporary Art Museum of Nice was inaugurated on the 21 June, 1990. The first attempt to create a contemporary art museum in Nice was initiated in the second part of the 20th century:  proposing the restructuring of the Ponchettes' Gallery by Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard. That was the "first bird"  of  the Modern Art Museum of Nice. The second reincarnation was the construction of a modern wing in the Massena's Museum garden. The project was abandoned and a parking place was constructed instead. The vision was renewed in the middle of the 70's when Claude Fournet had been promoted as director of the Department of the Museums of Nice. Both of the establishments breath and kick in Nice. The Contemporary Art Gallery as well as the Ponchettes' Gallery are both popular showcases of modern art in Nice. In 1985, an accord was signed with the French state planning an exceptional five-year program of acquisitions of art works. The financial help of the state given at the beginning of these ambitious acquisitions will determine the future institution to be called "the museum controlled by the state". In 1987 was signed an agreement between the town of Nice and the state for switching to municipal financing of the architectural project of modern art museum buildup. It took only three years between the decision and the inauguration of the museum. The architects Yves Bayard and Henri Vidal proposed a very original arch with one part on a Paillon side and the other on the axe of the old National 7, between the harbor and the old city with districts developed during the 19th and 20th centuries. The architecture of the museum had to satisfy two components of Nice's characteristic ingredients : the unique urban planning and the exotic, romantic air of the "Belle Epoque".

Overview: The building that hosts the Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain (MAMAC), one of Nice’s architectural treasures, was designed by Yves Bayard and Henri Vidal. There is a total area of 4000 m2 on three levels with nine halls for exhibitions. The exhibition spaces are distributed on three levels and an extra one with terraces for public access. The first floor houses the temporary exhibitions, the second and the third one are reserved for the collections. On exterior of the complex has no windows, but all the halls are connected with glass-made footbridges. The round towers connected by the transparent, in between walkways provide interesting spaces for display.

The upper floor is actually open terraces which are used as panorama open spaces from where people can have a wonderful views of the town. In one of these, is presented "Le Mur de Feu"  of Yves Klein.The front entrance and the shop of the museum are at the same level with the esplanade, the auditorium and the gallery of the museum. There are esplanades connecting the museum to the municipal theatre on one side and on the other - to the Palais des Congres. The two esplanades offer the possibility of exhibiting monumental sculptures by: Alexander Calder, Mark Di Suvero, Barry Flanagan, Bernar Venet, Keith Haring, Sandro Chia and Niki de Saint Phalle.

Our opinion: intriguing exhibition - but, nothing breathtaking. There was not one item we had admired. The building itself is a piece of art and the roof is fantastic. Worth a visit if you enjoy modern art. Go for the roof, architecture and the museum's surroundings. Anything else is a bonus...

Keith Sonnier - Elysian Plain Series. Keith Sonnier was part of a group of artists who challenged preconceived notions of sculpture in the late 1960s by experimenting with materials as varied as latex, satin, bamboo, found objects, satellite transmitters, and video. In 1968, the artist began working with neon:

Andy Warhol - Dollar Sign - 1981:

Niki de Saint Phalle - La Mariee sous L'arbre. She was a French sculptor, painter, and filmmaker (29 October 1930 – 21 May 2002):

Niki de Saint Phalle - Fontaine aux Quatre Nanas:

Yves Klein Hall:

School of Nice Hall: Dolla, Pages, Charvolen, Chacallis:

Yves Klein - Blue. Monochrome abstraction—the use of one color over an entire canvas—has been a strategy adopted by many painters wishing to challenge expectations of what an image can and should represent. Klein likened monochrome painting to an "open window to freedom." He worked with a chemist to develop his own particular brand of blue. Made from pure color pigment and a binding medium, it is called International Klein Blue. Klein adopted this hue as a means of evoking the immateriality and boundlessness of his own particular utopian vision of the world. Klein's pictures with the blue color are amazing and which photos don't do justice to and have to be seen to be believed:

Views from the MAMAC windows over Cimiez roofs:

View of Place Garibaldi and the surrounding hills from the rooftop terrace of MAMAC:

THE ROOF TERRACES ARE STUNNING !!! ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF NICE. The view from the museum roof  gives you a good sense of Nice's topography and size. Amazing on a sunny day, less so on a cloudy one. You arrive to the roof by climbing up the stairs designed by David Tremlett:

View of the Acropolis from the MAMAC roof:

View of the Jardin Maréchal Juin and the Cube. See Stelios Pamphilos' blog: Nice - From the Promenade du Paillon to the Castle Hill (Le Chateau):

View of the Jardin Maréchal Juin, the Cube and the Acropolis:

View of past Hotel Regina:

Eze - Medieval village, a short bus ride from Nice

Stephanie Marti


Eze - French Riviera (Cote d'Azur):

Introduction: It is one of the most beautiful villages in France and an unmissable highlight of a visit to south-east France. We urge you to get away from the French Riviera for an half day (better, sunny full day !)   and see it for a unforgettable experience. The medieval village of Eze is perched high on a hill above the French Riviera - from where it has lovely views along the coast and out across the Mediterranean. The ancient fortified village is still crowned with the ruins of its 12th-century fortified castle (torn down in 1706), sitting on a narrow rocky peak. The castle grounds actually host the well-known exotic garden (see below) (Jardin Exotique). Keep in mind that EZE IS VERY TOURISTIC. Many of its houses are now shops, restaurants or galleries. Eze is a pretty village, but it's not at all off the beaten path.

Weather: Choose a sunny - BUT NOT a HOT day. in the height of summer it can be exceptionally crowded and challenging to visit, helped by its easy access from so many of the popular riviera resorts including Nice and Monaco. If you can visit Eze in spring it will be a more pleasant experience.

Public transportation:Busses 82 or 112 from Nice. They depart from a parking lot near Vauban (6 stops from Place Massena on the Nice Tram line). Eze village sits beside the very busy Moyenne Corniche (RN7), the main road (along with the Basse Corniche and Grande Corniche) between Nice and Monaco-Menton. The Moyenne Corniche is usually very crowded, and in the summer extremely crowded, so plan an early start.

Dining: There are plenty of cafés and restaurants at Eze village. Most of the lower-priced ones are at the lower part of the village. In the upper part of the old village there are are some up-market hotels' restaurants.

Short history: The area surrounding Èze was first populated around 2000 BC. Eze was the site of an ancient Ligurian oppidum, probably established by the Phoenicians and later occupied by the Romans. The original oppidum was on Mont Bastide, 1 km northwest of the current perched village. A trail, marked by yellow, goes from Eze Village up to the Oppidum de Mont Bastide. The Gallo-Roman Heraklean Way (later replaced by the Via Domitia) passed by Eze; there's a pillar somewhere,  3 km to the west of the village. A Roman tomb can be seen at the Chapelle des Pénitents inside Eze. The area was subsequently occupied by not only the Romans but also the Moors who held the area for approximately 80 years until they were driven out by William of Provence in 973. By 1388 Èze fell under the jurisdiction of the House of Savoy, who built up the town as a fortified stronghold because of its proximity to Nice. The history of Èze became turbulent several times in the next few centuries as French and Turkish troops seized the village under orders from Hayreddin Barbarossa in 1543, and Louis XIV destroyed the walls surrounding the city in 1706 in the war of the Spanish succession. Finally in April 1860, Eze was designated as part of France by unanimous decision by the people of Eze.

Eze Highlights: There are three main highlights in Eze that would deserve even a FULL DAY:

Exploring old Eze: The whole medieval village itself is entirely pedestrianised so you will need to park in the car park down near the main entrance to the village.  Next to the car park you can also find the Eze tourist office. The public toilets are near the parking lot.Spend a few minutes in the village entrance to catch stunning views of the Mediterranean and the hills around the village.

Note: Finding parking at the bottom of the hill can be difficult !!!

As you enter the village, with your back to the Corniche and the entrance, right to the public bus station, on the south-east side you ascend to the castle. The view from the entrance to the village is stunning. Your way up is adorned with sculptures of: knights, gorilla etc':

Eze is an incredible walking experience, especially in the Fall when most of the summer crowds have gone home. The views are incredible and the narrow cobbled streets are filled with wonderful galleries, stores and restaurants. This ancient village is a stone stairs hike. The more you ascend - the better views you gain on the village houses:

From the village heights - view to the sea:

We continued on up to the fortress-like structure at the top of the hill. There are small houses, tiny shops and cafes and most significantly brilliant views over the coast and out to sea.

View of the castle promontory:

Note: Eze has become a tourist magnet for good reason: the medieval jumble of houses and the views are just wonderful. Our only advice is to try to arrive either very early or very late in the day when the crowds are less.

The Eze village is fluent with artists, handicrafts and colorful artifacts. Wood carving sculptures:

Dolls artist:

Artistic pillows:

Flowers' paintings gallery:

A visit to the church cemetery and garden are also worth a visit. As you climb towards the village you can see the church on the hill ahead of you, and you soon enter the narrow paved streets of the historic centre. The rather orange church in the centre of Eze old village was built from 1764 - 1772 and has a neo-classical facade. Eze is so high that the light ochre church (Notre Dame de l’Assomption) can be seen from afar. The two-level square clock tower on the church is lovely. The relatively plain exterior conceals an impressive interior where you can see several interesting decorative features including paintings and frescoes. An Egyptian cross inside the church suggests the village's ancient roots, when the Phoenicians erected a temple there to honour the goddess Isis:

View of the village houses from the main church (Eglise):

Around the church there is a path which allows further views of the village houses:

Above the church there is a cemetery. From there you can gain spectacular views of the bottom bay and sea:

Adjacent to the church - there is a military cemetery with view of the cliff opposite the village and its aqueduct:

The village forms a circular pattern around the base of the castle (which is, actually, the Eze exotic garden). The old buildings and narrow streets are very well restored, with high stone walls and narrow roadways of red-brick centered stone. There are numerous streets and alleys to explore in Eze, with many beautiful courtyards, picturesque houses, pebbled roads. One of first views across the coast is also to be seen from here. So much to be seen and photographed around every corner.

The only fountain in the village:

Head sculpture on one of the houses:

Two Grasse parfumeries are represented in Eze village, Galimard (open daily, Tel: (33) 493 41 10 70) with a shop and Fragonard (open daily, 08.30 -18.30, Tel: (33) 493 41 05 05) with shop as well as a factory you can visit.

The lovely gardens of the Chèvre d'Or hotel: Situated beyond stone walls at the top of the village. This is one of the world's finest hotels. A series of terraces drop down towards the ocean, revealing quiet courtyards, swimming pools, sun decks and Moroccan-style gardens.

Allee Chèvre d'Or:

Horse sculpture on the hotel walls:

We entered the garden free of charge - with no sign hinting or avoiding our free strolling around:

Hotel Chèvre d'Or - the entrance:

They are magnificent !!! Unbelievable sculptures, flower-beds, sights of the mountains around and the coasts far down below. It is an heavenly spot. Striking premises of a very expensive and aristocratic hotel. When you arrive at the bottom of Eze village, where the public parking area is located, walk up the road leading to the village and, on your right, follow the signs leading to the Chèvre d'Or hotel front gate. Please note that cars are not allowed in the medieval village. You enter the gates into a corner of paradise where the scents of jasmine, bougainvillea and rose guide the visitor up the gently sloping, multi-colored, rich, fresh and cool lanes:

Inside the walled chateau there are high ceilings, marble decking and giant chandeliers. The spacious rooms have hosted Marlene Dietrich and Robert De Niro, and are decked out in Italian marble and Parisian antiques. They boast jacuzzis and large terraces with sweeping views of the Mediterranean. Very expensive (minimum 420-450 euros for a double room).

Le Jardin exotique d'Eze: A magical place. Allow nearly 4-5 hours strolling leisurely through the paths, admiring the wide selection of plants from many locales. when you get close to the top of the village you will see the entrance to the gardens which have been established in the ruins of a medieval castle. Almost nothing remains of the castle itself. But, the tropical gardens are superb and the views across the village rooftops and the coast are exceptional and more than worth the admission price (6 euros). Don't visit Eze and dare not paying to enter the gardens. It is a spectacular place and memorable visit for months. The gardens are meticulously maintained. The gardens include a wide range of cactuses and succulent plants and areas for rest and relaxation until you finally reach the belvedere at the top and the best viewpoint of all.

Note: despite being 550 metres above sea level - the uphill walk, inside the gardens, is relatively easy for an averagely fit person.

Opening hours: everyday. JAN-MAR, OCT-DEC: 09.00 - 16.30, APR-JUN: 09.00 - 18.30, JUL-SEP: 09.00 - 19.30. Prices: MAR-NOV: 6 €, students - 2.50 €, children - 12 yrs - FREE. You are buying the ticket for the exotic gardens, but the VIEWS are the highlight of this place. The breathtaking views and photo opportunities are well worth the visit and the entrance fee alone. You can leave and reenter with the same ticket on the day it was bought. Duration: 3-4 hours. You should save for it at least half a day - probably more...

Note: take some water up because it does get very warm and the historic ruins at the top of the gardens are very exposed.

Another note: every September, the French Riviera locales celebrate the Heritage Week Festival (Voyageur Heritage) for 2-3 days. During this period the entrance to the Eze gardens is free. During a couple of days in September - buildings, monuments and sites not normally accessible to the public will open their doors for the European Heritage Days. This is your one and only chance to visit extraordinary sites in France:

Spectacular views from more remote spots of the gardens. It's well worth the walk up to the top to get a spectacular view. The top of the hill gives way to 360 degree views:

View of the church:

A special upper section in the gardens - is actually a sculptures' garden with remains of the old castle. The unique garden adds the visual glamour of sculptural women to the succulent and cactus they surround:

A fountain near the bus station from Eze to Nice:

After the village and gardens visit there is a possibility to use Nietzsche Path to go down to the coast and Eze train station (directly to Eze-sur-Mer) where trains to Nice can be caught. The famous writer walked the trail every day. It helped him to think more clearly. Path is in some places very rocky and absolutely not suitable for the unfitted. This trail is really quite difficult to negotiate unless you are used to hill walking. It took us an 75 minutes to get to the bottom. You can catch the #83 bus from Eze Village to Eze Beach. This is spectacular route of hairpin bends that saves you an arduous 1 hour descent.

Tende - Train des Merveilles

Stephanie Marti


Tende - Train des Merveilles (the Wanders' Train from Nice to Tende and back):

Start & End: Chemins de Fer de Provence station. The modern new station is at 4 bis, Rue Alfred Binet - about 6 blocks north of the Nice main railway station (Gare de Nice-Ville, Avenue Thiers).

Duartion: 1 day. Weather: ONLY SUNNY DAY !!!

Lunch: there are 3-4 restaurants in the town of Tende. All of them are good with reasonable prices. Expect some of them to close off around 13.30...

Introduction: Merveilles means, in French, marvels or wonders. The name of the train line doesn't, actually, refer to the train itself but to the area of the Mercantour National Park in the Southern Alps where the "Vallée des Merveilles" (Valley of Marvels) is located. Tende falls within the eastern part of the Mercantour National Park. The wonders are the thousands of prehistoric rock engravings found there. This Nice-Breil-Tende-Cuneo railway line follows the Roya valley to cross the Alps into Italy. Tende, itself, is a small town, half-French, half-Italian and is one of the places from which you can access this Valley of Marvels and Mercantour National Park. There are a lot of lovely mountain villages along the line, along with great places for hiking.

The train itself is nothing special: modern, comfortable, its carriages are decorated with images of the 3000 year old glyphs and there are, only, 1-2 carriages... 

The track climbs from sea level to 1000m through more than 100 tunnels, few of them are spiral. A magnificent engineering achievement.

It was built between from year 1882 to year 1928.  Much of the line is separate from the surface of the earth. 30-40% of the travel time is under tunnels and another 10-20% over viaducts. The rest  - you see pretty riverside or hilltop villages, spectacular cliffs and canyons, pretty forests and green, prospering valleys. Along the ride - there are 8-9 stops.

The landscape beyond Fontane-Saorge:

During the main season, from June to September you catch the 09.15 train from Nice. The full trip between Nice and Cuneo takes about three hours; between Nice and Tende is 90-120 minutes. Normally, the timetable is: departure from Nice-Ville at 9.23, arriving in Tende at 11.24. You can take your bicycle with you on the train, at no extra cost. To get back to Nice you need to check the railway timetable at the Tende station as it varies from day to day ! You are left with 4-5 hours for exploring Tende itself and the castle above the town. it's not a big town and you can do it in the 4-5 hours allowed before the afternoon train. The area around Tende is excellent walking country. The sights from the castle, perched high above Tende, over the town and its surroundings - are SPECTACULAR. The town itself - is charming and picturesque. In Tende do not miss the ultra-modern Musée des Merveilles to find out more about the rock carvings. Do not forget just exploring the narrow, sloping alleyways of the medieval core of Tende.

Stops Along the Way, from Nice to Tende:
• Nice main railway station
• Nice St. Roche
• La Trinité
• Drap - Cantaron
• Peillon Ste Thecle
• Peille
• L'Escarène
(long tunnel)
• Sospel
(long tunnels)
• Breil-sur-Roya
• Fontan - Saorge (loops inside mountain)
• St Dalmas-de-Tende
• La Brigue
• Tende

During the train ride - you are  "flooded" by non-stop, informal commentary in English as well as French. Sometimes, you can avoid the commentated carriage and find shelter in a second, more quiet (and less crowded) carriage. The return journey has no commentary. Commentary on the entire journey:
- Weekends and public holidays in May (except May 1) and October
- Every day from June 1 to September 30,

Prices: Prix : 15 € for adults, 7,50 € for children (12 yrs old +), FREE for children until 12 yrs old. No need to book. Buy your ticket at the counter the day of departure,  or reserve your Zou Pass at: (15 €). For 15 euros, ZOU! Pass allows you to travel for 24 hours unlimited throughout the Alpes-Maritimes region. Valid from 1 June to 30 September. Tende has a railway station on the Nice/Ventimiglia-Breil-Cuneo line run by the SNCF, with connecting service from Ventimiglia/Nice in the southwest to Turin to the north. Train services are mostly operated by Trenitalia.

Tende, itself, is located in the French Alps within the French Mercantour National Park. The mountainous town is bordered by Italy to the north. The line of mountain tops between the two countries contains more than 20 summits exceeding 2,000 meters. The Col de Tende (Tende Pass), a strategic pass through the Alps to Piedmont, has been modernized to be a road and railway tunnel. Tende is split from north to south by the Roya river valley. The Réfréi river joins the Roya river within the limits of Tende.

Tende is a medieval village and belonged successively to the Count of Ventimiglia in the 10th century, then the Counts of Provence and the Counts of Lascaris of Ventimiglia before being swapped several times between Italy and France. First to the Duchy of Savoy, then the First French Republic (later the Napoleonic Empire), then restored to the Savoyard Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont (which became in 1861 the Kingdom of Italy). From 1861 to 1947 Tende was part of Italy, and was damaged during the Italian Nazi invasion of France in 1940. Tende was the last commune to join the French Republic in 1947, when Italy was forced to give up (after defeat in World War II) some alpine areas to France. Tende is located on what was once an important route of the salt trade between Italy and France. During their reign of Tende, the Lascaris would demand a toll of those transporting salt and others passing through the region. While the main language of Tende is French, most of Tende's residents also speak Tendasque - a mix of the Ligurian language with Provençal influences.

Note: the is a public restroom in the Bar de Sport in Tende's centre.

Tende is a very lovely little Italian-style medieval mountain town, with the houses grouped tightly together on the slope of the mountain. You certainly feel that you are in a mountain town - a total opposite to a riviera town. The most striking thing about Tende, given its relative isolation, is the size of the town and in particular the very extensive old center, with numerous paths, roads and alleys to explore (on foot, the roads not being adapted to vehicles). The medieval houses, typically three-five stories high, are built sturdily from the surrounding rock. Buildings are typically medieval houses and alpine architecture, with narrow streets, vaulted passages and sculpted door lintels. The houses are roofed in "Lauze" stone, a local varient of slate, and are often dark in the shadow of the mountains.

The renaissance period painted houses around Tende central square were built later than the smaller stone houses in the outskirts (see below):

The main square in  Tende in memorial to the heroes of WW1:

The Main Square:

Fountain in the centre of the town:

The view to the east from the town/village centre:

Many houses are still made of wood. There are many "trompe l'oeil" paintings on the town buildings, sometimes the whole wall but occasionally just a single painted window beside real windows:

Tende alleys in the ancient town are VERY picturesque. Allow half an hour for strolling along these narrow trails. Most of the residents, there, are far beyond their eighties:

Place de Chatelain:

Green "schist" doorways on village street. These doorways are carved from large pieces of the "schiste verte":

Modern painted sundial:

The most important religious building in Tende is the Collegiale Church of Notre-Dame that dominates the centre of the town with its tower and Baroque facade. The Collégiale Notre-Dame de l'Assomption is the large, dark-ocre building in the middle of the old town. The Count of Tende, Honoré Lascaris, ordered its construction in the 15th century. We quite liked the lintel statues of Christ and the 12 apostles. The decorative stone carvings of the 12 apostles above the doorway date from 1562, and the bright colours of the facade were only added in the 19th century:

The interior is full of fine and ancient items. Open in the summer 9.00 - 18.00 and during the winter 9.00 - 17.00:

The base of the Collégiale Notre-Dame de l'Assomption bell-tower is bright, but the sundial isn't very useful without its pointer:

The main highlights around Tende: 

The ruins of the 14th century castle that once stood above Tende - the Chateau Lascaris, largely destroyed in the 17th century - can be visited by following the steep path at the top of the town.  A walk of 40 min along sloping trail leads to the ruined castle or fort above the town. We do the climb with two parts. First, arriving to the highest viewpoint over the Tende town/village, and, later, continuing to Tende cemetery with further striking sights over Tende and the surrounding Alps:

The trail climbing up over Tende:

The views from the highest viewpoint are breath-taking:

Viaduct and view to the north from the castle hilltop. The railway viaduct crosses the valley towards the station at the left:

The view to the north-east from the castle hilltop:

Ten km north of town is the Col de Tende, one of hundreds of beautiful sites in the region. The Col de Tende is the source of the Tende river, at 45 km long. The view to the south-east from the castle hilltop towards the Roya Valley:

Roya Valley - south of Tende:

A small fountain near the highest viewpoint:

"Lauze" stones on Tende roofs - from the climb to Tende Cemetery:

From there we climbed further, with our face to the south, to the town/village cemetery. There, we'll find the very few reamins of the ruined castle. The castle ruins themselves consist largely of one single 'spire' of wall that still remains. Particularly notable here is the adjacent cemetery and the lovely views back across the town and surrounding mountains. Today the proud silhouette of the proud central fort recalls the darkest hours of the Nizza Savoia wars between Nice and the Italians. It belonged to the Kingdom of Italy and then moved to France as a result of the Treaty of Paris in 1947. This central fort or castle extended both on the Italian side and the French side. The hillside Tende is overlooked by this spire-like remnants of the castle of the Lascaris. It  was built in the 14th century as protection from the attacking Count of Provence, Charles d'Anjou. The castle was destroyed in 1692 when King Louis XIV ordered his Marshal, Catinat, to destroy all fortified structures in France that might challenge his rule. The fort was completed in 1880 and was joined by a defensive barracks (today there are significant remains) that was able to accommodate about 300 men. The Central Fort was also served by a cable car that ensured the connections in case of snowfall. From this ruined fort - there are paths leading to other defensive positions of the Maritime Alps. As we said before, the only complete structure that remains is a circular tower, transformed into a clock during the 19th century. The voice of the clock's bells can be heard day and night throughout Tende.

On the way to the ruined fort and the cemetery:

Tende houses - from Tende Cemetery - view to the east:

Tende houses - from Tende Cemetery - view to the east:

Tende houses - from Tende Cemetery - view to the south-east:

Tende houses - from Tende Cemetery - view to the south - the Roya valley:

There are various scenic routes to follow into the valleys around Tende. The Col de Tende is one of the most attractive, and follows north from the town towards Italy:

View from the cemetery to the north - the viaduct leading to Tende station:

The remains of the castle of the Counts Lascaris: a view of the hilltop Tende and the Roya valley:

The castle ruins themselves consist largely of one single 'spire' of wall that still remains:

The tranquil area, near the river, almost flat:

One big attraction close to Tende is the Valley of Merveilles, with literally thousands of prehistoric carvings to be seen in the rocks. Further examples and replicas can be seen at the Musée des Merveilles in Tende, The museum's name comes from the nearby Vallée des Merveilles. Do not miss the museum with free admission.  The museum documents stone age and other historic artifacts from the Mercantour National Park. It opened in 1996. Great displays in different languages: 

There is notably a large collection of real and reproduced petroglyphs from the surroundings of the nearby Bégo Mountain: