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.

10 June 2022

Cimetière de la Bouteillerie #4: Camille Mellinet: Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

Camille Mellinet (1795-1843) was a printer, journalist and historian who was born in and died in Nantes. In 1820 he took control of the Malassis print works which was previously run by his mother, and founded Journal de Nantes et de la Loire-Inférieure, the first journal d'opinion in the city. He introduced the first mechanical press into the region. He wrote for his own publications under the pseudonym 'Francis', and wrote a number of texts for the Annales de la Société académique de Nantes. From 1839 to 1843 he published the twelve volumes of his huge historical work, Histoire de la Commune et de la milice de Nantes.

Cimetière de la Bouteillerie #3: Ange Guépin: Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

Ange Guépin (1805-1873) was a philanthropist doctor and a writer, a Republican, socialist and feminist who played an important role in the political and social life of Nantes, and who was influenced by the followers of Saint-Simon and the utopian socialists. He was encouraged to come to Nantes by Camille Mellinet. Several thousand people were present at his funeral.

Cimetière de la Bouteillerie #2: René Guy Cadou and Hélène Cadou: Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

The poet René Guy Cadou (1920-1951) is buried with his parents and wife Hélène (1922-2014), who was also a poet. She dedicated much of her life to preserving his name, and René's Hélène ou le règne végétal was published shortly after his death. There is a museum in his honour in Louisfert.

Cimetière de la Bouteillerie #1: Serge Danot: Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

Serge Danot (1931-1990) is famed as the inventor of the stop motion animation Le Manège enchantée (Magic Roundabout in English, although with many alterations), and this superb colourful grave shows just a few of the television characters in the 1960s and 70s. As a reminder, I include more than those who are featured on the grave. Pollux (Dougal) the dog is a Skye Terrier with a strong English accent in the French version: Danot's business partner Ivor Wood was half-French, half-English; Zébulon (Zebedee) is a jack-in-box-magician; Amboise (Brian) is a snail; Azalée (Ermintrude) is a cow; Flappy (Dylan) is hippy-like in English, Mexican in French turning towards Italian in the later colour version; Margotte (Florence) is the young Parisian girl; etc. The novelty of the show is that it appealed to all ages, many children certainly not being able to understand all the connotations. (Yes, I'm sure I've made a few mistakes, but with so many versions of the same thing it's very difficult not to.)

8 June 2022

Jacques Demy, Nantes (44)

For many, the film director Jacques Demy is a highly important figure in the history of Nantes, and certainly the Médiathèque is named after him. But unfortunately there remains very little of L'Allée des Tanneurs, and nothing of which I'm aware of 9 Allée des Tanneurs, where Demy's father had a garage, where his mother serviced the local women in hairdressing, and where Jacques spent his childhood and adolescence. Jacques's wife Agnès Varda brought much interest to this spot in her film Jacquot de Nantes.

Ador, Hangar à bananes, L'île de Nantes, Nantes (44)

The artist Ador's mural at the Hangar à bananes on L'île de Nantes. His works exist in a number of local places, buildings in Nantes, Rezé, Orvault, Saint-Herblain, etc. There is obviously a narrative to this one, although of what I have no idea. Any comments in French, Spanish or English welcome. No, ANY language!

2 June 2022

Transfert in Rezé, Nantes, Loire Atlantic (44)


Transfert was born in 2018 on the wasteland left by former abattoirs in Rezé. It was intended as 'une zone libre d’art et de culture ouverte', a 'poetical and oneiric metaphor for a town within a town'. It's unclear what will happen to the site after the agreement expires at the end of the year, but it appeared to be closed at the time that we were there. A great pity.

Gustave Flaubert, Trouville-sur-Mer, Calvados (14)

Trouville-sur-Mer obviously believes that the town had a great influence on the writings of Flaubert (1821-80). A plaque on this statue states that it was here that he met Elisa Schlesinger, for whom he had a burning passion and who became his muse. His look here is turned towards Elisa's second floor window of the Hôtel Bellevue, although the hotel has now gone. Léopold Bernstamm made the statue.

Raymond Savignac, Trouville-sur-Mer, Calvados (14)

Raymond Savignac (1907-2002) was a self-taught affichiste (poster designer) whose art, simple and humorous, was often undertaken for advertising purposes, and he is particularly known for his sketches for Monsavon milk soap and his depiction of a cow. He also designed the posters for Yves Robert's films La Guerre des boutons (1962) and Bébert et l'Omnibus (1963), Mario Monicelli's Mortadella (1971) and Robert Bresson's Lancelot du Lac (1974). He retired to Trouville-Sur-Mer in 1979, where a room in the Musée Montebello is dedicated to him. Along the Promenade Savignac, the boardwalk ('Les Planches'), are a number of his posters, which I include here without comments, which are unnecessary:

Savignac even did some artwork for the Hôtel Flaubert.