A couple of months ago I was fortunate enough to spend some time exploring the historical and cultural department of the Loire-Atlantique including the commune of Châteaubriant in Brittany, France. The area is perhaps most renowned for its large medieval castle and was a prime location during the French Renaissance period.
After reading this interesting post highlighting France’s historic figures in Paris, I thought it would be a good idea to do the same for this post, highlighting the significance of historical figures in the region of Brittany and their influences on the surrounding architecture.
The fortified town of Châteaubriant with its impressive feudal and Renaissance castle lies on the border of Brittany and Anjou, roughly halfway between Rennes and Nantes in woodlands dotted with small lakes. At the gates of the town at the Carriere des Fusilles is a monument to 27 heroes of the Resistance who were executed by firing squad on October 22 1941 as a reprisal for the assassination of Colonel Holtz, who commanded the German forces at Nantes.
The 16th-century part of the Castle was built by the Counts of Châteaubriant from whom the author François-Rene de Chateaubriand claimed descent. Across the courtyard is a mediaeval structure, of which all that remains is the Keep and some curtain walls. The Seignorial Palace of the Renaissance period is outstanding, its three wings connected by pavilions, dormer windows ornamented with the Châteaubriant coats of arms and colonnades.
An esplanade runs around the building with gardens sloping down to the River Chere and there is a large car park beside the entrance; the tourist office is opposite.
The interior of the palace is no less impressive and 30 minute guided tours in French include the room of Françoise de Foix, the child bride of Jean de Leval, who built the Château for her.
The château where the great French Romantic writer, François-Rene de Chateaubriant spent his early childhood years dominates the skyline of this sleepy French country town from which it takes its name. Chateaubriant immortalises it in his Memoires d’Outre-Tombe (Memoirs from Beyond the Grave), posthumously published in 1849.
The Tour du Chat, where Francois-Rene slept, was said to be haunted by a former Lord of Combourg returning in the form of a black cat. Mementoes of the author, whose statue broods over the Place Chateaubriant outside, include documents and awards with furnishings from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The crenellated parapet walk remains as he would have known it with views over the wooded park where visitors may wander at will. The nearby Restaurant du Lac is the perfect place to linger with a drink or meal, savouring the lake view at the same time.
For further information on visiting Châteaubriant and guided tour times for Combourg Castle, click here.
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Best Places to Travel in December
Travel in December is a good idea for you if you want a vacation that is during the slow season. Here are the best places to travel in December, when everyone else is home celebrating the holidays.
Here are more places to travel in December. Enjoy!
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The Ultimate American Road Trip: Route 66
If you’re looking for the omega American road trip then you’ve got to hit the Mother Road, otherwise known as Route 66. From Chicago to LA, it’s a journey that’ll provide the experience of a lifetime, showing you the heart of a great nation.
Start in Chicago & Chase the Sun
In reality, the best always head west. Would you rather end the trip in the Windy City, or just in time to catch a gorgeous L.A. sunset on the beach? There’s just something deeply spiritual for folks when we head west. It becomes an adventure. It becomes a vehicular voyage to the sea. Here are some of the highlights you can expect in order:
• Illinois: It’s a pretty straight shot through the state from Chicago through Springfield (which has some stretches of restored Route 66) and southwest to St. Louis. There’s a bit of the bright lights of big cities, but also a good calm stretch of rural to cruise through as well; vast fields of corn and farmland for close to 300 miles.
• Missouri: Once you hit East St. Louis you’ll again be greeted by sky scrapers, industrial areas and the mark of modernity but then it’s another SE straight shot through the entire belly of the state.
• Kansas: You’re only going to spend a little time in the good’ol Kansas heartland. And by little we mean a whopping 14 miles far down in the bottom south east corner. You’ll go through two towns: Galena and Baxter Springs but rest assured there’s great classic restaurants and places that’ve been open as long as Route 66 has been around. In fact, it’s because of road tripper like you just passin’on through that keep’em goin.
• Oklahoma: You’re going to go through two huge metropolises that have “country” written all over’em: Tulsa first and then into Oklahoma City before heading directly west towards the Pan Handle. Of all 8 states, it’s here that they take Route 66 the most seriously. It’s got the most preserved still-drivable miles and you’ll be able to see the remnants of Kiowa, Apache and Comanche Native American land. And, you’ll get to take the same route as families long ago in the Dust Bowl took to escape.
• Texas: You’re going to go through the upper tip of the Texas Pan Handle that takes you through Amarillo. It looks short on a map but the 200-mile stretch of plains is a sight to behold like none other. If you can time it so you cut through here in the afternoon on a sunny day your spirit will be recharged. Just try not to pay any attention to all the truckers!
• New Mexico: Welcome to the Land of Enchantment where you’ll pass through Sun Belt city and Albuquerque. These days, it can be a bit challenging to stay strictly on the old road but with all the sandstone mesas and pine forests it’s definitely worth it.
• Arizona: In Arizona you’ll stay in the northern plains rather than heading down into the really hot areas around Phoenix. Instead, you’ll pass directly through Flagstaff which is a mountain town and where Northern Arizona University is located. The sights here are like a completely different world from everything you’ve seen so far, especially once you begin to head south right before passing into California. Oh, and because of the high speeds on the I-40, this will feel like one of those awesome car track days.
• California: Once you reach this point get ready to cruise through rolling hills, vineyards, orchards, stunning landscapes and then at Barstow you should begin smelling the sea. From San Bernardino and Pasadena to Santa Monica it’s simply breathtaking.
This is only a taste of the experience really. You’ve just got to get out and do it. There’s plenty of great resources online to keep you on track and if you have the time you don’t have to miss a thing. Enjoy!