10 August 2022

Pontus de Tyard in Bragny-sur-Saône, Saône-et-Loire (71)

Famous poet, and member of La Pléiade, Pontus de Tyard (1521-1605) is usually associated with Bissy-sur-Fley, in the château where he was born. But he became bishop of Chalon-sur-Saône in 1578 and died in Bragny-sur-Saône. Until relatively recently there was no recognition of his existence in the church where he is buried in Bragny, although there is now a plaque. Unfortunately, the church was closed at the time of our visit.

9 August 2022

La Tour François 1er, Saint-Gengoux-le-National, Saône-et-Loire (71)

This 17th century stone constructed tower retains its original height. It also retains its original name after the eponymous king who authorised the creation of such musketeer companies.

Lavoir, Saint-Gengoux-le-National, Saône-et-Loire (71)

Yeah, I know, but lavoir-spotting is a little like water tower-spotting, or windmill-spotting: but at least it beats trainspotting. This lavoir with impluvium dates from 1857, replacing a medieval well-with-lavoir which was in the middle of the street leading to the church.

Les Parapluies de Saint-Gengoux-le-National, Saône-et-Loire (71)

Maybe les parapluies de Saint-Gengoux are something to do with the outdoor art exhibition, certainly they'd have more place in Cherbourg, or, say, Honfleur, but they're a decorative feature.

Artwork in Saint-Gengoux-le-National, Saône-et-Loire (71)

A number of artists have brought their art to the streets of Saint-Gengoux-le-National in the form of banners, which are on display until the end of August. This is just an arbitrary selection of them.

Hervé Bourdin, from Fresnes.

M. Alysson Duarte Rodrigues, self-taught painter.

M. Alysson Duarte Rodrigues again.

Daniel Perez, photographer from Anglet.

Christian Lefevre, from Lisbon.

Christiane Delacroix, from Dijon.

Max Lanci, from Maule.

Lavoir, Cheilly-lès-Maranges, Saône-et-Loire (71)


Again one gleaned from Le Journal de Saône-et-Loire, which at the moment is running a daily series of lavoirs in the département, which run to 500. Le Lavoir de Saint Pierre was Cheilly's second, and its construction in 1890 was of extreme urgency as the first was much too small.

Pierre de Mazenay was the material used for lavoirs in the area at the time, and this lavoir was large enough to accommodate 30 women. The lavoir was repaired in 2020.

Lavoir, Laives, Saône-et-Loire (71)



The lavoir at Sermaisey, Laives, was built in 1827 and fed by the Apcher spring. A stone above the entrance bears the names Munot and Ducrot-Verdun, the mayor and his deputy. It was renovated in 2001.

Jewish Kids Saved from the Nazi Camps, Cheilly-lès-Maranges, Saône-et-Loire (71)



The daily newspaper Le Journal de Saône-et-Loire (TJSL) mainly covers news from that département and sometimes beyond, and today (8 August 2022) it had a fascinating article on four Jewish children.

Between March and May 1943, the organisation L'Entraide temporaire sent four children from Paris to the relative safety of Cheilly-lès-Maranges, where each child was housed in a different host family, went to school and lived as normal a life as was possible under Nazi France. It goes without saying that the risk each host family was taking was enormous, and any leak of information would cetainly have resulted in death for all concerned.

By a quirk of circumstance, Anne Marie Phal was the only host parent to have been awarded the title of 'Juste parmi les nations', an honour created in 1953 by the Israeli parliament for civilians who saved Jews during the war. There is a sentence translated from the Talmud on a new plaque on the grave: 'Quiconque sauve une vie sauve l'univers tout entier': 'Anyone who saves a life saves the whole universe.'

The plaque stems from the research of René Maré, who was Anne Marie Phal's nephew, and who at the time he put the original plaque in place (2019) only knew the names of three of the children. Consequently the plaque mentioned the fourth as 'un garçon au nom inconnu': René never thought he would be able to put a name to him.

However, in a few paragraphs which appear as additions to the main text, 'Comment avons-nous retrouvé [l'inconnu'] ?', LJSL says that after questioning people in the village they found memories understandably hazy or quite simply incorrect. But then, as if by magic, a book written in the 1980s, containing a chapter on Cheilly and the hidden children, and published in 2021, appears: this is Danielle Kupecek Domankiewicz's Une Constellation dans la nuit. This didn't quite reveal the boy's name, although the author – now in her eighties, is still alive and remembers his name. René Beugelmans is 88, and has now been added to the names of the other children on the plaque: Jacques Schmelz, Rose Tabacznik and Rachel Schmelz, whose life Anne Marie Phal saved. The plaque is also a memory of the other host families involved: Bourgeon, Meunier, Fremin and Ménages.

5 August 2022

Boîte à Lire in Feillens, Ain (01)

This is quite a smart one too, although the wire scratched me. As compensation  (really out of interest) I took Patrick Besson and Danièle Thompson's La Boum: they were the scenarists of the film which launched Sophie Marceau.

Bread oven in Feillens, Ain (01)

I have been unable to find no information at all on this bread oven in Feillens.

Raymond Dumay in Replonges, Ain (01)



This impressive monument, tucked away in a square in Replonges, is in honour of Raymond Dumay, who had worked as a shepherd, a schoolteacher, journalist and editor-in-chief of La Gazette des lettres. It says in Wikipédia that he was the first person to publish a guide to wine (Le Guide du vin, 1967), which I find impossible to believe. Although noted for his interest in wine and food, he wrote novels too, such as L'Herbe pousse dans la prairie, Le Rat et l'Abeille and La moisson de sel. 

Louis Desnoyers in Replonges, Ain (01)




Also close to the lavoir murals in Replonge is a superb monument to Louis Desnoyers (1802-86), novelist and journalist born in Replonges and some of his works are mentioned here: Jean-Paul Choppart, Adventures de Robert Robert and Les Boétiens de Paris. He was also a founding member of La Société des Gens de Lettres and literary director of the journal Le Siècle.

Murals in Replonges, Ain (01)




These murals of a lavoir in Replonges show washer women and men of the time when the lavoir was active, and add interest and colour to these crossroads at the village. They were made by Roger Hagnere of l’Atelier Citron Bleu.

2 July 2022

Jules Verne in Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

This large mural was made by Jean-Yves Jodeau and is at the side of the steps along Rue de l'Échelle in the tourist area of Nantes. Construction of it was completed in 2008.

1 July 2022

La Cigale, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

La Cigale is a restaurant in Nantes, a very famous one, and if a person feels that they really must go there, then so be it. Inside I saw wonderful art nouveau, although to photograph the artwork effectively through the mass of tourists milling to get in there would be very difficult. We don't like crowds, and we hate tourism, and there we have it: La Cigale (featured in Jacques Demy's film Lola) from  the outside.




25 June 2022

Notre-dame de Lorette, Saint-Épain, Indre-et-Loire (37)

Notre-dame de Lorette is a wayside shrine, a hermitage consisting of a chapel and a troglodytic dwelling within the commune of Saint-Épain in the Courtineau valley in Indre-et-Loire. The troglodytic structures were built in the fifteenth century, although the chapel is only recorded from the nineteenth. Legend has it that Joan of Arc sheltered here in a rainstorm when journeying from nearby Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois to Chinon, although this is of course without foundation.

Jean Gabin in Deauville, Calvados (14)

Jean Gabin (1904-76) spent each summer in Deauville from 1956, and owned a house there in 1960, living there until 1974.

Isadora Duncan in Deauville, Calvados (14)

The plaque here reminds us that Isadora Duncan (1877-1927) was the founder of modern dance, and informs us that she stayed at the 'Villa Black and White' from August to October 1914. It calls her, and I translate, 'an audacious woman with an exceptional fate': the exceptional fate being her tragic death by accidental strangulation with her own scarf?

Colette in Deauville, Calvados (14)

Colette (1873-1954) stayed at the Hotel (sic) Royale in Deauville August 1952 and July 1953.

Georges Simenon in Deauville, Calvados (14)

Here is Georges Simenon, who came to Deauville in his boat in August 1931, signing copies of his works outside the famous Bar du Soleil, which I forgot to take a photo of. The plaque here says that Deauville provided the inspiration for his short story La Fleuriste de Deauville, (which he in fact wrote in La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime)).

Anna Karina in Deauville, Calvados (14)

A poster/plaque by Les Planches informs us that in the summer of 1966, Pierre Koralnik directed scenes for the film Anna, in which Anna Karina sang to music by Serge Gainsbourg. 

Kees van Dongen in Deauville, Calvados (14)

I still have a fair bit of catching up to do after our six-week visit to the Nantes, Tours and Deauville areas. Kees van Dongen (1877-1968), between 1913 and 1963, painted Deauville in the summer. This plaque is a feature of Les Planches, and of course this photo shows the painter there. 

19 June 2022

Gustave Flaubert, Deauville, Calvados (44)

In 1837 the family of Gustave Flaubert (1821-80) bought La Ferme du Coteau and the land on which the Villa Strassburger now stands. Flaubert inherited the property on his mother's death in 1872 and re-sold it in 1875.

Fernand Léger, Les Planches, Deauville, Calvados (44)

Fernand Léger (1881-1955) is one of a number of famous people celebrated in Deauville. His family's farm was in Lisores, in the south of the Pays d'Auge, and he regularly visited. Deauville's parasols inspired him to create a series of gouaches in the summer of 1950.

Longines clock, Les Planches, Deauville, Calvados (44)

The watch-  and clock-making business Longines has been in existence in Saint-Imier, Switzerland, since 1832, of which this at Les Planches, Deauville, is an example. Notices at eye-level, in French and English, mention the years of experience of the company's product in world championships.

11 June 2022

Marguerite Duras in Trouville-sur-mer, Calvados (14)

Les Roches Noires was formerly a hotel, but Marguerite Duras (1914-96) bought an apartment here in 1963. Several of her novels mention the place where she spent so much time, where she set three of her films (La Femme du Gange (1974), India Song (1975) and Le Camion (1977)), and where she met Yann Andréa in 1980. The stepped passage at the side of the former hotel is named after her.



Charles Adda, Les bains pompéiens and Les Planches, Deauville, Calvados (14)






In 1921 the architect Charles Adda (1873-1938) won a competition run by Deauville municipality to replace the ageing baths. His idea, which he called 'Les bains pompéiens', was inspired by ancient models but using modern materials. Multi-coloured mosaics were executed by the ceramic artists Alphonse Gentil and Eugène Bourdet. The originality of the project is also in the bathing huts along 'Les Planches' (boardwalk), where there are many names of (almost entirely American) movie stars: Deauville is of course famous for its American film festival. The structure was finished in 1929, and looks out onto the beach with its Deauville parasols.