|My cousin's daughter Lena and I on Market Square|
Friday, June 8, 2012
Saturday, June 2, 2012
|The harbor towers|
Yesterday, my parents and I drove down to the west coast to spend the weekend in La Rochelle. My younger brother, Florian, was born there in 1977 and we lived there for 4 years.
La Rochelle is a city in western France and a seaport on the Bay of Biscay, a part of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Charente-Maritime department, with about 76,000 inhabitants. La Rochelle was founded during the 10th century and became an important harbor in the 12th century. The main activities of the city were in the areas of maritime commerce and trade, especially with England, the Netherlands and Spain. In 1196, a wealthy bourgeois named Alexandre Auffredi sent a fleet of seven ships to Africa to tap the riches of the continent. He went bankrupt and went into poverty as he waited for the return of his ships, but they finally returned seven years later filled with riches. Until the 15th century, La Rochelle was to be the largest French harbor on the Atlantic coast, dealing mainly in wine, salt and cheese. Today, the city has beautifully maintained its past architecture, making it one of the most picturesque and historically rich cities on the Atlantic coast. This helped develop a strong tourism industry. La Rochelle's main feature is the "Vieux Port" ("Old Harbor"), which is at the heart of the city, picturesque and lined with seafood restaurants. The city walls are open to an evening promenade. The old town has been well-preserved. From the harbor, boating trips can be taken to the Île d'Aix and Fort Boyard (an old prison, like Alcatraz Island). A fun fact; the 2 american sister cities of La Rochelle are New Rochelle, New York (since 1910) and Newport, Rhode Island.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Francois Hollande, 57 years old, is the 24th President of the French Republic. The first President was Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (the nephew of Napoleon III), in 1848. In 1958, Charles De Gaulle proclamed the 5th Republic being its first President. Since this date, French socialist Francois Hollande is the 7th one, defeating incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy after a hard fought campaign.
This evening, I went and helped the community I live in and voted, in the counting of the ballots. It was a close run with Francois Hollande being slightly ahead.
|The city entrance, one main road|
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Literally called the Castle of the Battle Field, Champs de Bataille is impressive in every way, with its classical French architecture and beautiful formal gardens. The name dates from the 10th Century, in 935 a large battle was fought in the vicinity of the present day chateau. Two local families contested the battle, one led by Guillaume Longue Epée (William Long Sword) the other by Robert le Danois (Robert the Dane). Guillaume won the day and gained Normandy its independence. Although there is not much archaeological evidence it is believed that there have been several castles built on the site. In 1651 Alexandre de Créqui rebelled against the young Louis XIV and was exiled from court by Mazarin who was Regent. Créqui decided to build a magnificent residence to remind him of the splendours of the Royal Court which he believed he would never see again. The castle remained unfinished at his death and passed to the Marquis de Mailloc who inherited both the property and its debts. It was not until the Duke of Beuvron, nephew to Mailloc and Governor of Normandy, inherited the property that it achieved its full splendor. The Duke made the Chateau his principle residence, but even he was unable to finish the work. The Revolution interrupted the mammoth task, with the castle being looted and quarried. In 1992 the castle was bought by its current owner Jacques Garcia who finally managed to complete the building and to restore the gardens to their planned splendor.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Today, I visited one of the most famous castles in Europe: the Chateau de Versailles. I had not been there in probably 20 some years. I’m not going to write its entire history, it would be too long and you can read about it on the internet. So I’ll just give you some tidbits.