Jenny and Stafford's amazing blog site ~ http://www.gites-morlaix.com/

Archive for the ‘Coat Amour’ Category

Creating a New Web-site ~ Part Two

L’Ecurie ~ front garden and parking

Jean Oriot

Time absolutely flies past when one is busy. It seems like yesterday since I wrote Part One of this blog and yet three weeks have passed by.  In the meantime Jenny and I have spent a few days in Belle Isle en Mer, managed to finish off the decorations to L’Ecurie gite and have given one of our letting bedrooms, that we call Jean Oriot, a thorough make over.  We have some details to finish and maybe a carpet to change, but it looks good, don’t you think?

L’Ecurie ~ Living room

The work schedule was really started by the need to replace the roof covering on the gite.  The nails had rusted badly allowing some of the slates to slide off the roof and the frost had seriously damaged the ridge tiles.  The re-roofing works were done in late February and the roofing company, Gilbert Moal of Cleder, did a marvelous job, on time.  The roof looked smart, but the external paintwork did not look very good at all.

L’Ecurie ~ back garden

This has now been finished, using a different colour scheme of charcoal grey and rust red.  This scheme has beed carried through into the main living room, where we have used a pale and mid-grey colour scheme to compliment both the exterior and the kitchen.  Whilst we were about it we redecorated all the other rooms too!  Jenny and I are thrilled with the results.  For more information on renting this cottage and our chambers d’hôtes ~ click here.

L’Ecurie ~ kitchen/living room

L’Ecurie ~ kitchen

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Creating a new web site ~ part one

This is a two part blog, the first part celebrates the launch of the our new web site, whilst the second part will feature the inclusion of some new super photos within the web site.

I am not sure still, after seven months work, what the secrets are to creating a web-site easily.  If anybody has any ideas I should love to hear from them, just for the next time around.

Jenny and I wanted a refreshed, easy to use, modern, stylish replacement for our original web-site that was created for us by our friend John Worsfold about seven years ago.  We have largely retained the wording from the original and indeed many of the photos.  We even had a good idea of how we wanted it to look.  It took us longer us much longer to achieve than expected, but in any event it is now finished and launched.

I am sure that the critical and particularly the teachers amongst you, the readers of our blogs, will spot the typos and grammatical mistakes/errors.

So on to some excuses.  Spring has sprung, we have almost finished the complete refurbishment of our big gite L’Ecurie, with a new roof, new internal and external decorations and some little other tweaks too.  We have been busy in the manor house as well with redecorating the dining room and two bedrooms plus making some changes in the garden.  We have yet to take any new photographs, however, the wisteria and the azaleas around L’Ecurie are almost in full flower ~ so anytime soon!  In addition we have been so busy with clients this April, and both gites are occupied so that photos have not been at the top of our agenda!

Co-incidences

The governess

Jenny and I are constantly surprised by life.  Over new year’s eve we had a charming French couple stay the night.  They live in the Loire valley but it turned out have a holiday house locally and their daughter was having a new years eve party for her friends.  As you might imagine parents and teenage children’s’ parties do not go well together!   Mme left some earrings on the bedside table at Coat Amour and Jenny e-mailed her to say so.  The return e-mail came back with a different name on it than her married name (not at all uncommon in France, and yes they were her earrings). Two days before this we had received an e-mail from an English couple who wished to bring their elderly mother to Morlaix to find a chateau, where her mother had been a governess during the first world war.

We were told the name of the chateau and the name of the family and asked if we could help find where this was. We put the two e-mails together and found that name and chateau matched.  So ~ just a few days ago we were able to take the English couple and their mum to the chateau and walk around the grounds.  Needless to say “elderly mum” was thrilled and moved by the emotional experience.  Jenny and I had a great morning with them sharing a little bit of history and visiting a local private chateau.

Now that is a co-incidence.

What a Surprise ~ Figs

Jenny and I have picked many kilos of figs this summer and our cupboards are full of jams and chutney already.  We thought that the fig tree were exhausted and had finished for this year.  Imagine my surprise at finding a tree with loads of ripe figs, ready to pick, and on 9 November.  I picked 6 kilos of figs and filled a trug.  Our guests had fresh figs for breakfast this morning and Jenny has made some more jam this afternoon.  Things in the garden are definitely a little wonky this year, as we also have several rhododendrons in flower now and some of the magnolias have some pretty advanced buds on them.  They are all in for a massive shock soon.

Bike hire in Morlaix / location de velo a Morlaix.

No Nellie ~ Stay!

Bike hire in Morliax / location de vélo a Morlaix.

A super new facility is available to visitors to the town. A bicycle hire shop has been set up in the ex -tourist information office, which was formally a railway station building.  Conveniently situated just close to the viaduct, in the Place des Otages, the shop is called the ‘Pavillon de la randonnée.’  It is open all year from 9am until 7 pm, including lunch times (closed on Sundays except in July and August)

C’est possible  à louer des vélos au centre ville de Morlaix. Le Pavillon de la randonnée est situé tout près du viaduc dans l’ancien office de tourisme, Place des Otages.   Les horaires sont 9 hrs au 19 hrs tous les jours.  (Fermé  le dimanche, sauf juillet et aout)

Quelques différents modèles sont disponibles.  Vélos pour les enfants entre 6 et 12 ans.  Several types of bicycle are available, including bikes for children from the age of 6 – 12 yrs.

VTT  – Vélo tout terrain  – off roader

VTC – Vélo tout chemin  – mixed off roader and city bike.

VAE – Vélo assistance électrique.  Electric bike for adults.

It is also possible to hire a trailer for children ( UNE REMORQUE)  a baby seat (9 – 20 kilos)( PORTE – BEBE) and basket / saddlebags. ( PANIER / SACOCHE)

On peut louer les remorques, porte bébé ( 9 – 20 kilos) paniers ou sacoche.

Bicycles are hired with a helmet and luminous vests. Une casque et une veste lumineuse  sont inclus avec la location.

A family who stayed with us in August about to set off on an excursion!

It is advisable to reserve in advance for the summer season. Vaut mieux réserver en avance pendant la saison estivale.

For information and prices/ renseignements et prix :

Contact Yannick Le Fuc . e mail velo.rando@tourisme.morlaix.fr 0033 ( 0) 2 98 63 87 82

The Grand Railway Viaduct in Morlaix

Before the inauguration of the railway from Paris to Brest in 1865 it took 72 hours to travel to Paris on horseback and only 32 hours by boat.

The railway between Paris and Rennes was completed in 1857.  The Western Railway Company wanted to extend the railway line to Brest through the centre of Brittany.  Such a route would have avoided the construction of many large viaducts over the deep valleys of the northern coast.  The towns of Morlaix, St Brieuc and Guingamp objected to this proposal.  They argued that by taking the railway through the least populated parts of Brittany the railway would lose more trade than if they built it along the north coast.  Eventually Napoleon III made the decision that the railway had to be built to pass along the north coast to serve St Brieuc, Guingamp and Morlaix.

It was decided that the railway station serving Morlaix would be built on St Martin’s Hill at the end of a new viaduct.  The construction of the viaduct took 900 men two and half years, between 1861 and 1863, to build.  It was the biggest construction site of the day in France, similar now to the recent construction of the viaduct at Milau.

In 1861 the top of the harbour at Morlaix finished close to site of the new viaduct.  Stone from the quarries arrived by boat and were carved to shape on the quayside.  These stones were used in the external facing to the viaduct.

The stones used in the interior of the structure are not carved and irregular in shape.  This makes the structure of the viaduct more flexible and more able to resist the pounding and vibrations generated by trains passing over it.  All the building materials were lifted into position by steam crane.

When this railway line was built the construction of the railway embankment just north of Coat Amour effectively cut off the spring water feeding the leat that powered the watermill belonging to the estate.

When Jenny and I moved to Coat Amour we found a surveyors map, dating from 1863.  The map shows the line and levels of the then proposed railway line from Morlaix to Concarneau passing though the estate.  It fell into disuse and is now a Voie  Verte (public footpath) that passes right alongside Coat Amour.  It is a marvellous resource and we often go for a stroll along it with Phoebe our dog.  Many of our guests use it for an early morning run, whilst others arrive by bicycle via this Voie Verte.  The map, bye the way, is framed and on the staircase going up to the first floor.

Mediaeval Houses in Morlaix


Morlaix is fortunate in that it has managed to retain approximately one hundred and twenty 15th and 16th century timber framed buildings.   La Maison du Pondalez is a typical Morlaisian house, built in the 16th century and then inhabited by a nobleman.

 

 

La Maison du Pondalez is located in the heart of Morlaix, in the street called “la grand rue”.  It was, and still is, a commercial street where, in the past, the linen traders were found.  In those days the harbour in Morlaix was very active and the trade in linen contributed towards the great wealth of the town, and the area.

The 14th century “War of Sucessions” made many noblemen poor.  Those who wanted to trade in linen, to earn money, had to give up their noble titles in order to do so.  By surrendering their nobility they also gave up many privileges but felt ashamed to have to do this.

In order to make themselves feel, and appear, more important they built themselves splendid homes, whose architecture was inspired by their rural manor houses.  The interior designs of these houses are unique in the world, and a very special feature.

Front Elevation

These timber framed houses are called “maisons a pan-de-bois” or “a columbages”.  The space between the timber frames is rendered with a mixture of clay and straw, or sometimes horse or cow hair.  The outside face of this is covered with a lime wash to help keep out rain water.

This house has three floors, and each floor projects forward in front of the one below and is called corbelling.

Do you know why corbelling is used in the design?   ≈ It serves as a form of protection for the house, reducing solar gain, by creating shadow, and it helps to stop rain water running down the face of the building.

The distance between similar houses on either side of a street is about 5.8m at ground floor level and only about 3.3m on the top floor.   Some timber framed houses have had slates hung on their facades to keep rain water out.  La Maison du Pondalez  house does not, however, it is possible to see many nearby that do.

On the front of this house there are many sculptures and it is possible to imagine how wonderful this street must have looked when all the houses had such statues.

On the first floor there is the statue representing “L’Annonciation” or “Lady Day”, with the Angel Gabriel on the left and the Virgin Mary on the right.  The two statues in the middle represent two angels playing music.  Together these represent both themes normally found in sculpture, namely religion and feasts.

On the second floor there are the statues of St Jacques, St Laurent, St Nicolas and Ste Barbe.  Sainte Barbe is the protectress saint of the town of Roscoff.  Sainte Barbe is also the patron saint of firemen   So the sculpture of Sainte Barbe on this house acted as a good luck charm against the possibility of fire.  Wooden houses, built so close together, burn very easily, however, the designers incorporated stone walls between each house to prevent the spread of fire.

Inside La Maison du Pondalez the unique architecture is split into three parts:

1.  The Booth (shop) was where business was done.  Goods or commodities were presented for sale on a stall.  When the shop was closed for business the stall became a shutter.  This one was restored completely a few years ago  The stained glass windows have been restored too, using the original methods of construction.  It is made up of little pieces of blown glass set into lead cames (H shaped pieces of lead that clamp the glass between the wings of the H).

The original windows opened outwards, unlike most windows do in France today, and the hooks are still there that fixed them open and served to prevent them from banging.

2. The Manor Room was a common space, inspired by the design of the Breton manor houses.  This space is unique as it provides a central atrium running up through the house from ground floor to the underside of the roof.  There are spiral staircases linked by little bridges called “pont d’allees” or “pondalez”.  This Breton word means “landing” or “corridor”.

3. The Back Room was either a bedroom or cellar.  It’s exact function is not really known.

Click here for more photos

 

Maison de la Duchess Anne

 Anne de Bretagne, who was born and lived in Nantes, was crowned Duchess of Brittany (Duchess Anne) on 10 February 1489.  Duchess Anne was twice Queen of France, having married Charles VIII in December 1491 and then Louis XII in January 1499.

In June 1505 she decided to visit her region, and when she visited Morlaix she was received with acclaimed and made most welcome.

This house is called “the Duchess Anne House”, not because Duchess Anne stayed here, she did not, but the house was new when she visited Morlaix, and has been known by this name ever since.

We can see many sculptures on the front elevation, representing one of the most common themes: “the feast”.

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