Thursday, November 26, 2015

Château de Chambord - France

My next travel to France has to be to visit the Mont St. Michel or the castles of the Loire Valley. It will be difficult to choose which castles to visit in the Valley but Chambord will probably be one of them. 
The 1st card was sent as a belgium official card and the 2nd arrived in 2007 sent by Agnes. 

BE-404570, sent by Jan.
The royal Château de Chambord at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France, is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world because of its very distinctive French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures. The building, which was never completed, was constructed by King Francis I of France.
Chambord is the largest château in the Loire Valley; it was built to serve as a hunting lodge for Francis I, who maintained his royal residences at the châteaux of Blois and Amboise. The original design of the Château de Chambord is attributed, though with some doubt, to Domenico da Cortona; Leonardo da Vinci may also have been involved.

Chambord was altered considerably during the twenty-eight years of its construction (1519–1547), during which it was overseen on-site by Pierre Nepveu. With the château nearing completion, Francis showed off his enormous symbol of wealth and power by hosting his old archrival, Emperor Charles V, at Chambord.
In 1792, in the wake of the French Revolution, some of the furnishings were sold and timber removed. For a time the building was left abandoned, though in the 19th century some attempts were made at restoration. During the Second World War, art works from the collections of the Louvre and the Château de Compiègne were moved to the Château de Chambord. The château is now open to the public, receiving 700,000 visitors in 2007. - in: wikipedia

Friday, November 20, 2015

Neuf-Brisach - France

 The Fortifications of Vauban are 12 groups of fortified buildings and sites along the borders of France. They were designed by Vauban (1633–1707), and were added in 2008 to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I already had cards of Libéria Fort in Villefranche-de-Conflent, Camaret-sur-Mer and Besançon. In the beginning of this year, Óscar sent me a 1st card from another fortification, Neuf-Brisach and a few weeks ago Raquel sent me a 2nd card from there.  

Neuf-Brisach is a fortified town 18km south-east of Colmar in the Haut-Rhin department of the Alsace region, close to the Rhine River. It is best known as being a masterpiece of military design by Vauban.

Photo: A. Linder - Editions VALOIRE-ESTEL - BLOIS
The defensive layout of Neuf-Brisach is best understood from an aerial view which clearly shows the octagonal layout of the town, with its borders heavily fortified with two further rings of fortifications (the inner ring is octagonal while the outer defences are in the form of an eight-pointed star, and yet more regular fortifications outside the 'star'.
The town was designed by the renowned military engineer Vauban, under Louis XIV, in order to defend the border from Hapsburg, and built starting in 1698 - there was previously no town at all in the location, which was intended to replace the town of Vieux-Brisach which had recently been lost to the Hapsburgs as part of a peace treaty signed in 1697.

Work on the defences was complete by 1702 and the buildings in the town were constructed over the following 40 years.
It was to be a long time until Neuf-Brisach was to see military action, with the Prussian invasion of 1870 - the French troops here were unable to prevent the Prussians from advancing, and the occupying Germans subsequently linked the town with an important bridge across the Rhine nearby. The town was also damaged during the Second World War (and subsequently repaired).
It is the unusual, carefully planned, design that is of foremost interest in the town - it is unusual to see a town so carefully planned unless we look back to the 13th century bastide towns of south-west France, and is considered to be one of Vauban's greatest achievements. Consequently Neuf-Brisach is a magnet for historians and engineers as much as tourists. - in:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Porquerolles Island - France

Even with one stamp missing, this card, also sent by Damien, made it to my mailbox!! 

Porquerolles Island, together with the island of Port-Cros and île du Levant, belong to the îles d'Hyères Archipelago, also knows as the îles d'or (Golden Islands).
Situated just off France’s Mediterranean coast, between Toulon and Saint-Tropez, Porquerolles is a little corner of paradise with dreamy beaches, where nature has been preserved by strict environmental protection laws, where the only noise is that of the cicadas, the rustle of the breeze, and the gentle waves.

Porquerolles is the biggest of the three islands of the archipelago, it measures seven kilometers long by three kilometers wide.
Along the north coast, amid the sweetest of landscapes you find many white sand beaches and maritime pine forests that come all the way up to sea, which is azure and as crystal clear as seen only in very few other places in the Mediterranean.
The slopes of the southern side of the island are a bit harsher and wilder, with their rocky bluffs and small coves reachable only via perilous trails.
What really makes Porquerolles Island special is, without a doubt, the fact that it’s one of the most protected places in the world from an environmental perspective.
Strict rules such as the prohibition on driving automobiles, building, camping, and even on smoking outside allow for the conservation of one of the most fascinating landscapes of the Mediterranean and for its protection from the risks of tourism and accidents. - in:

Saint Charles Station, Marseille - France

A card from Marseille sent by Damien who has been to the city last September. 

All the romance of the early days of rail still surrounds Marseille's main train station, perched high on a hill to the east of the city centre and linked to it by a magnificent staircase.
 The first station building was opened on 8 January 1848 and, before the advent of mass air travel, Saint Charles quickly became the gateway to Africa and the Middle East for Northern Europeans.
Today, Marseille Saint Charles is the terminus for train routes serving most of the major French provincial towns and cities. It's also the southern end of the high-speed TGV Mediterrané line. 

Photo: © Frédéric Rolland
The grand staircase first opened to the public in 1925 (the sculptures were completed in 1927), and are 155 metres / 169.5 yards long, with 104 steps punctuated by seven landings.
The international flavour of the city, poised as it is on the very edge of Europe, is reflected in the ornate decoration, which consists (as you descend) of two matching sculptures of a child and lion; two ships' prows with symbolic female figures signifying the routes to the East and Marseille's own Greek origins; six bronzes celebrating the riches of provençal produce - grain, fruit, fish, wine, flowers and game. 
At the bottom of the steps are two highly politically incorrect sculptures: reclining, self-naked female figures representing the decadent colonies of Africa and Asia. - in:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Giverny - France

A few days after getting a Mont Saint Michel card sent by Ara, I received another card from Normandy. This time Ara sent this card with some images of Monet's house in Giverny. 

The village lies 80 km from Paris, west and slightly north, in the old province of Normandy. It is best known as the location of Claude Monet's garden and home. 

Giverny rises to fame in 1883 when the painter Claude Monet discovered the village whilst looking out of the train window (the line has since closed down). Monet was enthusiastic about the spot. He found a large house to rent, "the Press House". By the end of April he had moved in with Alice Hoschedé, his lady-friend, his two sons and her six children. The house was a farmhouse with a vegetable garden and an orchard of over one hectare. 
At the time there were about 300 inhabitants in Giverny, most of them farmers, and a few middle-class families. * photos © didier piquer
In 1890 he became the owner of the house and gardens and transformed them completely. In front of the house lies the Clos normand, full of flowers, (100, 000 plants replaced each year and 100, 000 perennials) on the other side of the road he had the waterlily pond dug. To achieve his aim he didn't hesitate and diverted a branch of the Epte River.
At the beginning of his stay in Giverny, Monet found inspiration in the surrounding countryside. But he gradually limited himself to his water garden and depicted tirelessly the Japanese bridge and the waterlilies.
From 1887 onwards a colony of foreign painters, mainly Americans settled in Giverny. But this seems to have been by chance and the charm of the place rather than the presence of Monet (which they did not know of). The painters Sargent, Metcalf, Ritter, Taylor, Wendel, Robinson, Bruce and Breck came first.
For thirty years about a hundred artists stayed one after the other in Giverny, although they did not have much contact with Monet who considered their presence a nuisance. However their art would be deeply influenced by impressionist techniques.
Monet died on 5th December 1926. He was buried in the family vault near the village church. - in:

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Mont Saint-Michel - France

Is just a coincidence that I'm posting these french cards after the tragedy that hit Paris yesterday. My thoughts are with the french nation and with the families of those innocent victims, including 2 portuguese citizens!! 

I'll visit Paris someday but 1st I want to visit this amazing place, Mont Saint Michel. These cards are sent to me in the last 7 years by Ara, Hanna, Raquel and Valérie. 

Éditions D'Art * Photo: H. Marcou
Mont-Saint-Michel is a rocky islet topped by a famous Gothic abbey, 1.6 km (1 mi) off the coast of Normandy in northwest France in the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel in the English Channel. The island, located 5 km (3 mi) from the shore during the Middle Ages, is now surrounded by water only two times a month. Its one cobblestone street climbs in three spirals from a great granite base to the towering Benedictine abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, an architectural masterpiece built in the 13th century, replacing the original abbey, which was founded in 708 by Saint Aubert, bishop of Avranches, but destroyed by King Philip II of France in 1203.

Its fortifications enabled the islet to withstand repeated English assaults during the Hundred Years' War. The abbey served as a prison during Napoleon I's reign. Restored after 1863, and connected to the mainland by a causeway (completed 1875), the abbey is preserved as a national historical monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of France's great tourist attractions. - in:

 Mont St Michel lies in the heart of an outstanding setting. Mont St Michel Bay has the highest tides in Europe, up to 15 metres difference between low and hight water, which transform the surrounding landscapes twice a day.  During top of the spring tides, the sea goes out 15 kilometres from the coast and comes in again very quickly.
The tides are caused by the action of the heavenly bodies, principally the sun and the moon. When they are in line with the earth (in syzygy) the attraction is multiplied, announcing spring tides, this corresponds with the period of highest tides ; on the contrary, if the sun and the moon form a right angle (in quadrature), the attraction is reduced and we are in neap tides, the period of lowest tidal movement.

 Artaud Frères - Editeurs 
 This phenomena are accentuated in Mont Saint-Michel bay, because with the rock being in the back of the bay, the sea doesn't reach the Mount during neap tides. On the other hand during spring tides, the sea reaches the Mount but only after 4 hours and 30 minutes after the start of the rising tide, about every fortnight. - in:

Monday, November 2, 2015

Tossa de Mar - Spain

Here it is another card sent by Celina. Both the card and the stamp are showing the Vila Vella Ramparts. 

Located on the Girona coast, at half way between the city of Barcelona and the French border, Tossa de Mar is an ancient fishermen's village with an important historical background, that has been transformed during the last 50 years into an emblematic tourist destination of the Costa Brava area.

Foto: Angel Gago
The emblematic walled Vila Vella or Old Town of Tossa is the sole remaining fortified medieval town on the Catalan coast and was listed as an artistic-historic monument in 1931. The original structure dates from the 13th-century.
The original perimeter walls and battlements are largely conserved, with four large towers and three machicolated cylindrical towers. The best-known towers are Joanàs Tower overlooking the bay; Clock Tower at the entrance to the parade ground, thus named because it was the only public clock in the town; and Codolar Tower (or Keep), overlooking Codolar beach. The rectangular castle with a watchtower at the top of the Vila Vella was replaced by the present-day lighthouse. 
The Vila Vella itself is a charming place with narrow cobbled streets. In the 15th and 16th-century age of splendour, the town boasted eighty houses. A superb voussoired entrance gate gives access to the Vila Vella via the former parade ground. In the 16th century, however, the town started to expand beyond the walls, with the first extra-mural houses built in Sa Roqueta district along the highroad. - in: