Category Archives: in France

Parc de Saint-Cloud

Parc de Saint-Cloud :

Parc de Saint-Cloud is located in the southwest of Paris. It’s in the suburbs. Away from the center of Paris, people are enjoying the nature there. Picnic, reading, jogging, cycling, whatever you want.

How to Get There

Take Metro 9 and ride it to the terminal, Pont de Sevres. From there you can walk to the park. It’s about five minutes. Take the bridge, and you will see Musee National de Ceramique. The park entrance is just past the museum. Tram 2 also stops at Musee de Sevres.

When it’s sunny there are many people in this park.
But different from the parks inside Paris,
here, there is enough space for everyone.
It’s a huge wood.

The park covers 460 hm. and has been protected as a nature reserve. It’s considered to be one of the most beautiful parks in Europe, and in 2005 the park was awarded Remarkable Gardens of France. Many trees in Parc de Saint-Cloud were once heavily damaged when a big storm struck Paris in 1999, but a lot of restoration efforts were given and still the park is receiving much care. It is really beautiful.

There are several remarkable gardens. One is a French style by Le Notre, one is an English, and one is called the garden of Marie Antoinette.

History of Parc de Saint-Cloud:

a model of Saint-Cloud Castle

Parc de Saint-Cloud was built on the site of Château de Saint-Cloud (or Saint-Cloud Castle). This castle was used as a residence for the Royal family and the Imperial family of the 16th century, and in 1785 LouisXVI purchased this castle for Marie Antoinette, who believed that the air in Saint-Cloud was good for her children. Then Napoleon declared war on the Prussian, and this led to occupation by a Prussian force. Paris was attacked from there. On October 13, 1870, the castle was burnt out because of the counter-fire from the French and completely razed in 1892. At the present time, only a few outbuildings remain.

In spring colorful flowers welcome you.
Panoramic view from the hill.
The Eiffel Tower in the distance.

In April a variety of tulips at their best.
Refresh yourself in nature.
It’s not hours away from Paris.

Parc de Saint-Cloud (the park map is given)

reference: Wikipedia

Cassis and Calanques

Cassis ・Calanques

Cassis is the town situated in the east of Marseille. It’s a small port town, but always lively with many visitors. Around the port are the typical Provençal houses and colorful cafés. These buildings stand in the limited space with a lot of slopes, and this makes it a little difficult for drivers to reach the port.

The coastline between Marseille and Cassis is also very unique geographically. Several inlets called Calanques lie in the area, and they provide vacationers with excellent locations to enjoy calmness. Some cliffs are more than 300m high. Some people sunbathe on the beach, some enjoy boating, and some others enjoy rock-climbing. Everyone comes here to benefit from the nature of the Mediterranean Sea.

The proverb says, “even if you have seen Paris, you can’t tell anything until you see Cassis.” It’s worth visiting once.

a small port town
with colorful houses
and the blue of the sea

cafés and souvenir shops
a parade with traditional music

boats lined side by side


enjoy quiet time

blue sky and blue sea
the magnificent view is indeed astonishing

feel the air of the Mediterranean Sea
( click on the image to enlarge)

And, don’t forget to enjoy the taste of the Mediterranean Sea!
La Presqu’ile serves you one of the best bouillabaisse in Provence.

Route des Calanques 13 260 CASSIS — Tel : 04 42 01 03 77
Home Page

This restaurant also has a beach right in front of the terrace.
The building showing out of the trees is the restaurant,
and there are people enjoying swimming below the building.

La Presqu’ile Bouillabaisse (left)
plenty of soup and fish
Provençal mayonnaise which comes with the dish is also a must-try.
Put some on the bread and dip it in the soup!

Have you ever heard Cassis wine?
It’s also my favorite.
Fresh white wine under the sun!!!
Why not !?
Enjoy your vacation.

Profitez-en !


History of Les-Baux-De-Provence

The first human beings appeared in this area 6,000 B.C. and in the 10th century this castle was built. Pons le Jeune is one of the well-known members of Les-Baux family. His name is seen in the family documents from 934 to 981. The last member, Alix died in this castle in 1462. The history concerning this castle is very long, and many events took place between the 10th century and 15th century. Many wars, revolts and so on. However when it comes to the 16th-century Les-Baux began to enjoy its prosperity. This is the time when many architectures were made up, but unfortunately very few decorations and paintings remain.

In 1632 the castle was destroyed because of the trouble which was caused by a traitor. So the present deserted appearance will remind you how sad it was.
The Sights of Les-Baux

First of all, the vast image of this area will astonish you. It’s located in the north-west of Marseilles. On top of the hill is the castle. There are many small hills around here, which are called Alpilles. It’s the beginning of the Alps. You can also look down over the sea in a distance. And what I didn’t like was there was a strong wind blowing down from the Alps. They call this gale Mistral. And it was a little cold too.

You can have access to the hill by car, but the road doesn’t go up to the top. You have to park your car and climb up on foot. There are small souvenir shops at the foot of the hill and many old buildings. And those buildings will remind you of the old times. When you arrive the entrance, you pay and go into the small museum, where you can learn about the history of this area. After collecting some information, you go outside again and find some monuments. There is a huge catapult on exhibition. It’s really big. I felt very scared, imagining that people used this at this high place. When you go on further, you will find the ruined castle. It’s hard to believe that people really lived in such a place. And there are steps which lead to the top of the stone building. It’s very scary because there’s more wind on top, so I couldn’t enjoy the view. If you are not afraid of heights, I’m sure you will have a wonderful view from there.

Click on the pictures.

Click the photo on the right.

Also this area has many nice restaurants and hotels. My recommendation is La Petite France (55, avenue de la Vallee des Baux-13520 LE PARADOU TEL 04 90 54 41 91). It stands in a small village and has a nice atmosphere. The waitress was very friendly, and when I visited this restaurant one Japanese chef was studying their cuisine, and the waitress let me in the kitchen. The Japanese chef told me that many people come to eat taking lots of time by car.

In 2009, I had another chance to visit Les Baux, and this time I visited a different restaurant “Ou Ravi Prouvençau”.

Ou Ravi Prouvençau
34 av Vallée des Baux – 13520 Maussane les Alpilles
Tél. 04 90 54 31 11  I  Fax. 04 90 54 41 03
サイト Ou Ravi Prouvençau

Nice atmosphere.
In summer, in the pretty garden,
in winter, in the charming salon.
You can enjoy traditional Provençal food all year.

My recommendation is pieds et paquets Marseillais (photo on the left).
Goat cheese with olive oil and herbs is excellent too!! ( photo on the right)

This restaurant was introduced in Figaro Japan.

For your information, there is another spot to visit in the neighborhood.
Moulin Jean-Marie Cornille
olive oil factory.
You can find fresh olive oil!!!

Chateau des Baux

13520 Les-Baux-de- Provence
tel : 04 90 54 55 56
fax: 04 90 54 55 00

Open hours
Summer 9:00-8:30 pm
Spring and Fall 9:00-6:30 pm
Winter 9:00-5 pm

25km from Avignon、15kmfrom Arles
Airports : Niem 、Marseilles 、Avignon
TGV : Aix-en-Provence 、Avignon

Le Castellet

Le Castellet

A small town located in the east of Marseilles is called “Le Castellet.” It stands on the hill, and there are many cute houses and souvenir shops in the small space. Some houses are decorated with colorful flowers. They are like pictures. You will feel like taking a picture in every alley. It’s a small place, but it takes time to see around. It gives you a feeling of traveling in the medieval time. I visited several shops selling the famous textile of Provence and a shop selling colorful room lamps. Everything is full of colors and stylish.



When I visited there in the summer, the first thing I realized was there were many cicadas, just like my country. Not only in the trees but in the souvenir shops! They sell many cicada character goods. Some toys have a sound device, so everywhere cicadas!!! The funny thing I found is, in Japan, they cry “min min min,” but in France “tss tss tss.” Even cicadas are French!!


Le castellet comes from Latin, Castellum. It was occupied by Rome before the 8th century and then by Zarasin. Furthermore, Guillaume I began to govern the region, changing it into the feudal society. One aristocrat became a new governor here and built a Castellet Castle and churches after the religious revolution occurred in Marseilles. Then, time passed, and in 1437 the city was sold to Castillon Family and belonged to the family until 1790. After the French Revolution, France took over the power.


The panoramic view from Le Castellet.

Le Castellet official site
Hotel de Ville 83330 Le Castellet


Carcassonne is a fortified town situated in the southwest of France. A French proverb says, “you can’t die before you see Carcassonne.” It is an admirable town.

This year (2009), I had a chance to stay here and greet the New Year. The sky was gray, and maybe visitors were not many compared to the high season. On New Year’s Day people are usually supposed to stay home with their family, so I think it was normal. My husband and I could enjoy a quiet time in one of the most popular tourist sites in France! It was a quite experience.

This town is divided into two areas. One is the fortified Cité, and the other one is the ville basse (or the lower city).

The hotel we stayed in stands on the Aude River, opposite from the Cité,
This hotel commands a great view of the Cité,
especially at night the landscape is marvelous.
It’s also romantic to take a walk at night.
There is a footpath along the river.
The Cité is lit up, like in the photo below.
Totally different from the view in the daytime.

Click the images in the middle and on the right.

Pont Vieux (Old Bridge)
I don’t know how in summer,
but in winter I hardly saw tourists on this bridge at night.
100 % silent and calm.
We could enjoy the small light show with no disturbance.

Click the image on the left.

History of Pont Vieux

  • The stone bridge called Pont Vieux (or Old Bridge) was built in the Roman time as a replacement of the old one from the feudal age. The date goes back to the 14th century. The construction was already in process in 1315, and 5 years later it came to completion. Special taxes were introduced to cover the construction expenses. This bridge also has 12 arches, but each size is slightly different. Their diameters vary from 10 to 14m. What we can tell from this fact is that the construction was proceeded on and off according to the budget. In other words, these arches were built one by one, not
  • Pont Vieux was once separated into two parts by a stone arch, which means that contact between Cité and Ville-Basse was interrupted. There was an internal split involving the citizens of the two cities. However it followed that they concluded a peace treaty.
  • The looks of the bridge didn’t take much change until 1820. In those days it had a light and strong rail attached to the two sidewalks. In 1436 two arches collapsed, and restoration of other parts as well as repairs of the two arches took place in 1559. After this accident several readjustments were done, but the bridge never lost its taste. Then in 1820 the time finally came when Pont View had to accept reconstruction work that would change the original form.
  • In 1999, Carcassonne City and l’Architecte des Monuments de France examined the condition of this area, and they approved of the project to make the east side of Pont Vieux look nicer. Keeping the 13th arch on the east side, the ground was leveled and became a nice terrace. Now behind the planted trees along the foot pass there is enough space for a parking area.

On the side of Cité across Pont Vieux,
there is a space for picnics.
Ideal to take a rest under the trees.
It was not only us but other friends resting there.

On the west side of Pont Vieux,
There is a small chapell.
Chapelle Notre Dame de la Sante

History of Chapelle Notre Dame de la Sante

  • This chapel was built as a hospital facility in order to save people suffering from the plague. Jean de Saix donated to the construction. There was once a regular guard here because the area was very important from the strategical point of view, and this building was starting to function as a castle wall.
  • Today, we can see the number 1692 on the ceiling which tells us the date when the construction was completed.
  • Every year many believers and tourists come to see this chapel, and likewise in the past more and more people paid a visit to this hospital facility. In 1685 this chapel was expanded and a strong wall was added so that it could resist river floods.

Now let’s walk toward the Cité.
There are two main gates to the Cité.
Porte d’Aude and Porte Narbonnaise.
These photos above were taken from the side of Porte d’Aude.
The view from below the buildings is very powerful.
The church standing below the hill is Eglise Saint Gimer.

History of Eglise Saint Gimer

  • A young man named Eugène Viollet-le-Duc discovered Carcassone. It was 1831 when he was going on an expedition to the Pyrenees. After visiting Italy, he was most likely to show up in Carcassonne again in 1839. He was charged to write a report about restoration work of Saint-Nazaire in 1843, and the following year he became a supervisor for the work. The relation between Eugène Viollet-le-Duc and Carcassonne lasted until 1879 when he died.
  • Viollet-le-Duc was in charge of 4 construction sites, and Saint-Gimer is the least known of the four. Although he played an important role as an architect at the time, he is now rather considered to be a renovator. This is because he could realize only 3 churches in his career; Saint-Denis de l’Estrée, Aillant-sur-Tholon and Saint-Gimer。
  • Saint Gimer was built from 1854 to 1859, and being simple was one of the objectivities in this construction. Viollet-le-Duc wanted to realize genuine work within the budget.

History of Porte d’Aude

  • The Aude gate stands below the cliff and its castle wall once guarded the area around the riverside. This wall dates back to the 13th century. The Aude gate was made in the wall of Visigoths in the 12th century. It has an arch form, and the interior brings us back the atmosphere which it used to have.

This is Porte Narbonnaise
On the other side of Porte d’Aude

History of Porte Narbonnaise

  • Porte Narbonnaise is situated in the east of the Cité. This gate was built to raise dignity and enhance comfort, and these elements were well integrated into military establishments.
  • From 16th century, this fortified castle was starting to lose symbolic power, and to maintain the fame several legends were appearing. One of the most famous stories is Dame Carcas. When the Cité was occupied by Saracens, Charlemagne kept attacking the Cité for 5 years. Dame Carcas, who lost her husband, grand duke, led the Cité order. The attack continued and the people in the Cité were running short of provisions and water. Then, Dame Carcas tried to make a list of what was left in the Cité. One citizen brought one pig and wheat, and she came up with an idea. She let the pig eat the wheat and threw it outside the Cité. When Charlemagne found the pig, he thought that there must be still enough food inside the Cité, and he withdrew. People rang all the bells in the Cité to celebrate the victory. One of the soldiers on the way of withdrawal noted down 《 Sire, Carcas te sonne 》. It means “Carcas is ringing the bell”. 《Carcas sonne 》, that is, Carcassonne! This is the origin of the city name. The statue of Carcas stands at Porte Narbonnaise.

Now, let’s go through the gate and see the inside of the Cité.

Joseph Poux (1873-1938)
Joseph Poux is the historian who studied this fortified castle.

History of 2500 years of Carcassonne

  • In the 6th century BC Celtics settled here, and it developed to be a city in the Roman time.
  • In the 3rd century BC a strong castle wall was starting to be built.
  • In 435, it became part of Visigoth.
  • From 725 to 759 Muslims occupation, and then by Franks.
  • In the feudal age, Trencavel dynasty began.
  • In 1208 the Cité became the king’s territory. Trencavel II tried to take back the Cité but failed.
  • 1997 registered as a UNESCO world heritage

The castle wall is reinforced double,
and it’s 3,000m long.
There are 52 towers.

This is a hidden device to trick on enemies.

Grand Puits
The oldest well in the Cité.
There is a legend that treasure is hidden in this well.
But never found.

Many shops inside the Cité now.
I bought some cookies to fill my stomach.
Many souvenir shops, cafés and restaurants too.

Basilique Saint-Nazaire
There are many figures like this on this church.
To prevent evil?

I had a little more time to look around the Cité and found some interesting things. I’ll show you some of them.

Maison dite « de Montmorency »
The house named Montmorency.
Built in the 16th century.
The first base is made of stone,
the other three floors are made of wood.
The wood helps support the wall made of sand.

The photo on the right shows gutters.
They look like dragons.
When it rains, the water comes out of their mouths?

Notre-Dame de l’Abbabye
Strange paintings.
Look, it’s got three legs?

It is also known as a place
where Christians in Carcassonne gathered for the first time.

This is the street I found in Carcassonne.
Indeed, it was a quiet night when I visited there.

It was a short trip, but there were many spots to see and I walked a lot! Most of the shops and hotels are found in the lower city, but you can find a few good hotels and restaurants in the Cité too. If you prefer to eat and stay inside the Cité, you’d better make a reservation, of course. The list of the accommodations and restaurants in Carcassonne is found at Carcassonne tourism official website. They can send you a city map and a guide booklet, or you can download them at their website. They also show more details about history for each spot in their homepage. I suggest you studying a little about the history before your trip. It’s good to know it, and you will enjoy your trip more.

I found people there nice and friendly. A nice landscape and nice food too. Don’t forget to taste their specialties!!! Food from the southwest of France is known to be one of the best in France.

On New Year’s Day we had dinner at a Brasserie near the station because we didn’t make any plan for this trip except a hotel. Actually we didn’t expect anything special. We were kind of giving up on food, but they serve excellent food. They had a special menu for the day too. After the meal they gave us a small sachet of chocolate as a New Year’s Day gift. They made my day.

Carcassonne tourism office more info and a city map.

( reference: Carcassone tourism office guide, Wikipedia)