17 May 2022

Boîte à lire, Véretz, Indre-et-Loire (37)

An interesting boîte à lire (here called niche à livres), by the church in Véretz, in the shadow of the white mulberry tree, and quite well stocked. I couldn't resist picking up Queneau's Pierrot mon ami.

Eugène Bizeau and Anne Bizeau, Véretz, Indre-et-Loire (37)

The anarchist writer Eugène Bizeau (1883-1989) and equally anarchist Anne Bizeau (1882-1973) share this grave, under Anne's statue of a seated naked woman (made by Charles Correia), which resembles Rodin's Le Penseur and is turned towards the Bizeau house on Rue Chaude.

Paul-Louis Courier in La Forêt de Larçay and Véretz, Indre-et-Loire (37)



I still have a number of posts to write on the Nantes area, although I thought it important to include some of our more recent visits. Near the centre of the Forêt de Larçay is a memorial to the writer Paul-Louis Courier (1772-1825), which reads:

'Although born in Paris, Paul-Louis Courier spent his youth in Cinq-Mars-la-Pile, near Langeais. At a very early age he showed great enthusiasm for the Greek language. He became one of the best Hellenists of his time and associated with the most erudite people. He served for seventeen years as an officer in the artillery and left the Napoleonic army after Wagram. Married to Herminie Clavier in 1814, he bought the Forêt de Larçay on 16 December of the following year; he settled in Véretz in April 1818.

'The excesses of the Restauration led him to write several incendiary pamphlets.

'He was assassinated here by his gamekeeper, who manipulated other servants. It is quite possible to believe that this crime had political ramifications.

'This monument was erected in 1828 at the expense of his widow.' (My translation.)

This monument omits a number of things, such as Courier's problems with the neighbours using the wood from his trees for warmth, why the gamekeeper killed him, and his relationship with his wife, but so much has been written on the subject that it would be redundant to add anything.


The grave of Paul-Louis Courier in Véretz.


This monument was made in 1878 following plans by archictect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc and was due to be on Paul-Louis Courier's grave, but the elder son Paul-Étienne objected to this. It was inagurated in Véretz by the river Cher in 1878, to great ceremony, boats on the Cher, fireworks, etc. It is dedicated to the 'champion du bon sens et de la liberté'.

15 May 2022

Sally, Pavement Artist and Nottingham Evening Post seller

I've made well over 4000 posts not since I began my blog in 2007, but two years later when I began the blog post count. I'm amazed that, in all the posts I've made about various places in various countries, Sally should now be among the top ten of those posts. In spite of several posts on the internet claiming to know her surname, and in spite of several of them suggesting that she's dead, nothing is known and any speculation is not only wrong but wholly out of order. I am delighted that Sally has acheived so much interest and hope that in future much more information about her will immerge.

I shall in the not too distant future add more to this particular post, although this will not make for 'pretty' reading.

Yet another anti-vax demonstration: Passage Pommeraye, Nantes (44)





As far as Nantes is concerned, Le Passage Pommeraye is a huge attraction both to nantais and tourists from all over the world. So this can be a major target for extremists, as it was on Saturday 14 May 2022, when several anonymous protesters visited the upmarket shopping centre with placards against the innoculation of children and the, er, harmful effects of children wearing masks, etc. This demo is two days before the official legalisation of people not wearing masks on public transport throughout France. What do these people want, other than to find a cause to protest against? They were politely shown the exit because they didn't have an invitation. Amen.

Le Cimetière Miséricorde, Hauts-Pavés–Saint-Félix, Nantes (44): #8 Topette and Carafon

It seems that the sisters Topette and Carafon – street musicians (with a violin) in Nantes during the 1920s, and from an upper middle-class family from which they rebelled – are spiritually linked to the Amadou sisters in Nantes in the mid-nineteenth century. The Amadou sisters called themselves Coquette et Papillon and used a guitar, and after a cab accident Coquette became handicapped and for a time Papillon took her around on a soapbox on wheels: they died in oblivion. The story goes that Topette and Carafon were named in memory of the former sisters. When Carafon died Topette shut her in a cupboard, and it was only because neighbours were alarmed by the smell that the police were called, much to the fury of Topette, whose mentality was in a very poor state.

Le Cimetière Miséricorde, Hauts-Pavés–Saint-Félix, Nantes (44): #7 Pierre-Hildevert Lagarde / La Tombe Pagode

The writer and ship owner Pierre-Hildevert Lagarde was a friend of Jules Verne and the composer Aristide Hignard (also a friend of Verne, with whom he journeyed to the UK and Scandinavia). The influence of exotic places is evident here.

Le Cimetière Miséricorde, Hauts-Pavés–Saint-Félix, Nantes (44): #6 Jean-Romain Lefèvre and Pauline Utile

The initials of the surnames of Jean-Romain Lefèvre (1819-83) and Pauline Utile (1830-1922) provide the name of the world famous biscuit LU, which I made a post of some way below. As I said there, the original factory has now retained the name LU, being a Lieu Unique.

Le Cimetière Miséricorde, Hauts-Pavés–Saint-Félix, Nantes (44): #5 Louis Pommeraye

It is ironic that the person responsible for the magnificent Passage Pommeraye in the centre of Nantes – which is certainly the biggest attraction in the area – would not have a grave to match that glory. However, this very humble stone is all there is: the passage, with all its legal and structural problems, proved Pommeraye's ruin.

Le Cimetière Miséricorde, Hauts-Pavés–Saint-Félix, Nantes (44): #4 Sylvain Royé


Sylvain Royé (1891-1916) was a poet born in Nantes who died in World War I in Douaumont. A plaque on his grave gives a few lines from his poem 'La Prière des tranchées': 'D'autres heures naîtront, plus belles et meilleures. / La victoire luira sur le dernier combat. / Seigneur, faîtes que ceux qui connaîtront ces heures / Se souviennent de ceux qui ne reviendront pas.'

14 May 2022

Le Cimetière Miséricorde, Hauts-Pavés–Saint-Félix, Nantes (44): #3 Pierre-Gabriel Verne and Sophie Allote de la Fuÿe



Pierre-Gabriel Verne (1799-1871) and Sophie Allote de la Fuÿe (1800-87) were the parents of Jules Verne, who was born in Nantes and whose presence is all over the city.

Le Cimetière Miséricorde, Hauts-Pavés–Saint-Félix, Nantes (44): #2 Philippe Gengembre


Philippe Gengembre (1764-1838) was born in Houdain, Pas-de-Calais, and was a chemist and inventor. He became an expert in powder chemistry and the energy produced by steam. He was sent to the USA to help the commercial and political interests of France. His son Colomb (1790-1863) was the originator of the idea of the commune La Colonie in Condé-sur-Vesgre.

Le Cimetière Miséricorde, Hauts-Pavés–Saint-Félix, Nantes (44): #1 Marc Elder


Oddly, Marc Elder (1884-1933) isn't featured in many guides to this cemetery, not even – at the time that I post this – in Wikipédia's entry for Le Cimetière Miséricorde. And yet he earned the Goncourt in 1913 with Le Peuple de la mer, a novel set in L'Herbaudière, Nourmoutier. Elder (or Marcel Tendron, his real name) was born in Nantes, and is recognised in at least two local street names: one opposite the castle, and the other in Rezé-Trentemoult.

10 May 2022

Paimbœuf, Loire-Atlantique (44)

Paimbœuf is an interesting village on the Loire, a former outer harbour of Nantes. Some of its facades are odd, such as the one with computer circuits as a kind of decoration, or the one made of reclaimed articles of wood. 



The lighthouse dates from 1855, and is still active. It received electricity in 1913.

One of Paimbœuf's biggest attractions today is Kinya Maruyama's Le Jardin étoilé, taking (you'll just have to believe this) its point of departure from Ursa Major and the four compass points.



Pitre Chevalier, Paimbœuf, Loire-Atlantique (44)


Pierre-Michel-François-Chevalier (1812-63) was an author, historian and journalist born in Paimbœuf and who died in Paris. He was editor-in-chief of Le Figaro and director of the journal Le Musée des familles. His intention was to be a Breton Walter Scott, but his historical novels were without success: his historical non-fictional book La Bretagne ancienne et moderne (1844), however, was much more successful. 

Boîte à lire, Vue, Loire-Atlantique (44)

With a name like Vue, how could such a village not have a boîte à lire? And this at the time of the visit was quite a well-stocked one. I like the stuck-on stork in the reeds carrying a baby: so appropriate, as books have given birth to countless progeny, countless ideas. I came away with Éric Faye's Le Mystère des trois frontières. I recently noticed that the ten or twelve French novels I left at the boîte à lire in the E. Leclerc car park have all disappeared, plus the highly specialised English books on obscure viruses: is someone taking the piss by making a profit out of this, as it is counter to what I believe to be the spirit of the boîtes à lire?

8 May 2022

Flora Moscovici's Le Temps entre les pierres, Bouffay, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

Flora Moscovici's Le Temps entre les pierres.

Covid demonstration, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

On the face of it, the first banner here seems to be right on the button about the problems faced by all today: against globalisation, market values, corruption, treating people as sheep, etc. But what of that banner behind, indicating horror at health workers being suspended? What's that about? Suspended because they've not had the jabs?

And then I picked up a leaflet, which I discovered is highly Covid-sceptical, questioning the substances in the vaccine, questioning the authority of people to give the vaccine without full qualifications, questioning the lack of knowledge of doctors of the substances in the vaccine, questioning the assumed silencing of Covid sceptics in the media, questioning the efficacy of the vaccine, etc, etc. At a time when all virtually measures are about to be relaxed in France, there is a demonstration for what purpose? I give up.

Common Lizard, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

This may be a common lizard, but I'm from the UK where such views are rare. I also hugely respect animals, and consider this creature to be beautiful.

Cigarette ends and pollution, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

I find this very interesting. An amateur notice tells me that one cigarette end can pollute up to 500 litres of water. Although I've no proof of this, it nevertheless sounds impressive. Le jardin extraordinaire is a non-smoking zone, even if it is outdoors. I applaud this, as I applaud any action against smoking: we have to realise which century we're living in, and smoking is a very dangerous part of our past.

Le Jardin extraordinaire and general area, Chantenay, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

La Carrière Miséry is in the process of life change. From a quarry for the extraction of granite, the place of the execution of counter-revolutionary surrounds, an industrial brewing area and theatrical acts, it is poised for L'Arbre aux hérons in 2027, a creation by François Delarozière.

Delarozière, with his La Machine, also created this network of steps leading to Le Jardin extraordinaire, which has 177 steps and four belvederes.

The waterfall is twenty-five metres tall.

7 May 2022

Tadashi Kawamata's Belvédère de l'Hermitage, Chantenay, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

Tadashi Kawamata is trying to create a link between people and places. This is a long, wooden passageway giving a view of the sky and the river, a projection above the cliff. The structure is a heady experience to view from its thirty-six metres in  length, twenty metres from the ground.

Mrzyk and Moriceau's Lunar Tree, Chantenay, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

Mrzyk and Moriceau's Lunar Tree  is perhaps best seen in the dark, although I think it stands out well here against a clear blue sky. A dead tree, pure white, twelve metres tall.

Philippe Ramette's Éloge du pas de côté, Bouffay, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

Philippe Ramette's Éloge du pas de côté is right in the centre of a restaurant area, his besuited man in almost archaic tie with his eyes on the horizon. But the vital thing is that he has one foot on a base, the other in nothingness, the void. How much do we believe him, or in him? Is he really human? In his impeccable dress he seems a part of the world, or maybe a very old world that vanished before his eyes? Maybe just an old fart, or a memory of how we used to look but have moved on sartorially, but not mentally? We may have casualised the way we look, but not the way we think?

Boìte à lire, Sainte-Anne, Chantenay, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

Oddly, this is one of the few Boìtes à lire (usually called Boìtes à livres, here called Dépôt des livres) I've yet to find in the Nantes area, but there were no pickings for me. Is anyone really interested in ancient Bottins (telephone directories)? Yeah, I suppose there must be. The world is a strange place.