Les Halles - new version (2)

I have already talked about "Les Halles" several times on my blog (see here) - the long history, how the place was remodeled in the 1870’s and then again in the 1970-80’s… and now once more. The work is in progress – should be completed next year. For the moment “La Canopée”, supposed to remind us of a natural canopy, is finished. (Some pigeons seem to appreciate.)

The really more natural part of the park with trees and pathways has still to be done...

… and the necessary remodeling and refreshing of the underground shopping centre (with cinemas, libraries, swimming-pool… and a complicated network between different metro lines..) is still ongoing. 


Walpurgis night

Certain European countries celebrate, in different ways, the Walpurgis Night, April 30. In Sweden it’s today rather a way to welcome the spring. It involves some singing, drinking… and watching a fire.

It’s celebrated each year at the Swedish House, one of the 37 international houses in the Cité Universitaire – the Paris University Campus (I wrote about it here).

We were welcomed by the director of the Swedish House, Åsa Ekwall. The Swedish Ambassador, Veronika Wand-Danielsson welcomed the spring and we also made a hurrah for the 70th birthday of the Swedish King.

The crowd had the pleasure of listening to a couple of spring songs…


… awaiting the daylight to fade... and the fire.  


Brittany (5)

A last report from my trip to Brittany.

Starting with La Roche-Bernard. This nice little town, some 20 km (12 miles) from the sea, on the river Vilaine, was obviously founded by a Viking, Bern-hart (meaning strong, brave as a bear) in 919 as a strategic defensive place. The successors remained and swore allegiance to the Duke of Brittany. It was a rather important commercial port with a shipyard for a few centuries, until the arrival of the railway. Today it offers a nice marina. 

Next stop was at Guerande with its medieval fortified walls. 

The city overlooks large salt marshes and Guerande salt is famous. Salt has been produced here since the Iron Age. You must obviously wait until a warmer part of the year to find the thousands of ponds getting white. Especially famous is of course the “Fleur de Sel” (flower of salt), harvested sunny summer afternoons.  

Then we continued the trip along the rough coastline, “La Côte Sauvage”

… on the way to the little town Croisic. Artists have worked a lot around these places. Here we can see a water-colour by Paul Signac (1865-1935) from 1928.

We made a quick passage via La Baule, since the end of the 19th century a famous seaside resort with its 12 km (7.5 miles) long sand beach. The seafront, where you used to find a large number of private villas is now almost full of nothing but hotels and more modern residences - you still find some old, nice, villas behind the seafront.

Behind La Baule, Guerande and just north of the Loire estuary … you find La Grande Brière (The Brière Marsh), a patchwork of streams, reed beds, water meadows and hillocks (see top picture). It used to be occupied by people who were hunting, fishing, cutting reeds, digging peat… Today it’s of course more dedicated to leisure, tourism… The 6.850 hectares are commonly owned and governed by the 21 small villages on and around the marshland. The specific flora and fauna are protected as well as possible.  

Before closing the Brittany file, maybe some examples of nature from a - then - still early spring. 



Brittany (4)

The history of the Brittany region is long and there are many landmarks to remind you of it. One of the more famous ones is the site just north of the city of Carnac – there are some 3.000 Neolithic standing stones, menhirs, and this is considered as the world’s largest collection. The stones can be found over a distance of some 4 km (2.5 miles). You can also find dolmens, tumuli… and what is referred to as the Manio quadrilateral and the menhir, Manio giant.  

Not far away you find the city of Auray with its port Saint-Goustan, today rather a marina. Although fairly far from the coastline, this was a quite important port for centuries, until the arrival of the railway. The tide allowed seagoing vessels to arrive … and it was here that Benjamin Franklin landed in 1776 to ask for French aid in the War of Independence.

I visited another landmark, the Suscinio castle. (The name doesn’t sound very local – it’s actually a mixture of a Roman prefix and a Celtic word and means “on the marsh”.) The castle was one of the residences of the Dukes of Brittany with origins from the 13th century, originally meant to be a place of pleasure, close to the coast and surrounded by nice hunting forests. It was later fortified and enlarged. Without going into details here, the castle has of course been involved in all kinds of movements between the Bretons, the French, The Plantagenets, the Lancastrians… During 1471-83 the castle housed Henry Tudor and his friends. Two years later he became the first Tudor King of England, as Henry VII, after having brought an end to the “War of the Roses” by defeating the last Yorkist King. Later abandoned, the castle needed heavy restoration when it was taken over by the Department of Morbihan in 1965. Although the restoration work is not yet finished, the castle has clearly regained the impression of a medieval fortress.  


Spring in "my park".

I haven’t quite finished with Brittany, but will make a little interruption. Just have to illustrate the SPRING, again of course in “my park”. (A already showed the top photo on Facebook. Sorry for the repeating.)

All the flowers were waiting for a visit, but not all were as lucky as the one showed on the top.

Here are some more general views.