Capturing Magic: Visiting Towns Rouen.

Another stop during our tour “Capturing Magic” is going to be in Rouen. It is located in the Seine Maritime department in Normandy. It is the capital of the “Haute Normandy” Region and has so much history, it would take me more than one post to tell you all about.

In the 10th Century Rouen became the capital of the Duchy of Normandy and the residence of the Dukes up until William the Conqueror established his castle in Caen.
In 1204 Normandy became part of the French Kingdom.

I grew up in Rouen until I was 9 years old. My childhood best friend still lives there and when I am in France, I always try to stop there. It has a special place to my heart. Fun memories, but also SO many beautiful monument and so many cute little street to walk in.

The beautiful Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame, which started being constructed in the XII century. It took over 100 years to finish but still had some reconstruction and upgrades throughout the centuries. While visiting the cathedral we can admire the beautifully Stained windows dating from the XIII Century to now, we can visit the sepulture of Ancient Normandy Duc such as Rollo (one of the first ruler of the Viking principality which later became known as Normandy), John Plantagenet (who oversaw Joan of Arc’s trial), William I (know as Willam Longsword) and many more. Richard the Lionheart heart is also in the cathedral as Rouen was his favorite city (His remain are actually in 3 different places).

It is mostly known to all french kids for the horrifying death of Joan of Arc who was burn alive by the English on May 30th 1431. She was fighting against the English invader during the “hundred Years War” and was capture in Compiègne by the Duke of Burgundy. She was kept in a jail until she was sold to the English Duke of Bedford who then trial her and sentenced her to be burned at the stake. (that’s the short story BTW, cause there is SO much more about Joan of Arc!)

Rouen is also a beautiful city to cruise in, admiring the Timber Framed houses while walking on cobblestone! Pass under the “Gros Horloge”( Astronomical Clock, also built in the middle ages with a mechanism from the 1300s mounted above a renaissance arch and passageway. jmc_turner_the_gros_horloge_at_rouen_normandy_c-1832

The Rue du Gros Horloge is a one of Rouen’s main shopping streets… so needless to say that if you are in Normandy and you want to shop. Rouen is a MUST stop!old-market-squareOn the Old Market square you can admire half timber houses that dates from the Middle ages. One of the oldest Inn in France is now a restaurant : La Couronne and is located across the Church of St Joan of Arc. The church a “modern” style church is well known for it’s stained glass window and has been built next to the ruins of the 16th century church of St Vincent, which was almost completely destroyed in 1944 during the Bombardment of the city. The Church of St Joan of Arc is also next to a small garden that marks the exact spot of where Joan was burned at the stake.15113586092_0b09bcd655_z

You can also go to the farmer’s market which happen every Tue, Wed, Thur and Sunday between 7am to 1pm, Fri from 7am to 6pm and every saturday is host a “brocante”(Flea Market) from 7am to 6pm


This is only a small taste of all the thing that you can do in Rouen. It has Museum, Opera… Every summer there is a huge festival of the Normandy Impressionist where they project images on the Cathedral facade of Impressionist painting. 9669550953_1bbfeb1ac3_z

You can see a lot of those here



Capturing Magic: Visiting Towns Pont-Audemer.


Pont Audemer is one of the many stop we will be doing during the retreat in Normandy that I will be guiding! Visit Jessica’s Site for signup here:for more information!
I tried my best to find places that not everybody knows about and will take a small group there and to some other places! Contact me if you want your own private personalized tour! Small group, medium size family! I will do all the research for you and will drive you as soon as you arrive in France (or elsewhere) and will guide you, translate for you…
#france #normandy  #pontaudemer #privatetourorganisation

Capturing Magic: Visiting towns Giverny 1st Part

Giverny will be our first stop after our Paris excursion. Sign up for the tourclos-normand-2

You can visit Monet’s house virtually to just make you want to join our tour!! Who wouldn’t want to see the house of such an amazing painter? clos-normand-1
Since we will be there in the end of May, the Iris will be blooming. We will be able to take our time to admire not only his house, but his garden. The end of Spring will make us be able to enjoy so much varieties of flowers.

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Monet had the spirit of a painter and throughout his house you can enjoy bold painted room. Beautiful Japanese print on the walls as well as so many more art piece. You can imagine what it would have been to live during his lifetime. It is a step back in time and pure enjoyment of the senses!
The water garden is something to be able to visit. It is a beauty and since we will be arriving hopefully mid morning, so that we can enjoy many hours visiting. I believe that the last time I was there the smell were just amazing. It is too bad that we can’t just bottle up spring smell from the Giverny’s Garden. giverny-japanese-bridge-2

First Tour Booking: “Capturing Magic”

I am SO excited to announce my first tour booking. It is going to be so awesome. I have studied, search, found, discover tones of informations to take small group to France and Jessica Brogan is going to host it: Capturing Magic: Normandy France is open for registration and I can’t wait till we get our first clients. My mother went to the place that I have been eyeing in Normandy and send me some more pictures of it!!!
OMG!!! I CAN’T WAIT!!! IMGP8225.jpgIMGP8199.jpgIMGP8198.jpgIMGP8227.jpgIMGP8189.jpgIMGP8200.jpg

Mont Saint Michel

Another sweet video about one of the “World Wonders” (I know I am going to probably show my age here, but once upon a time, they used to have only 7)
Anyway, if you have ever wanted to visit, or just for the beauty and history of it… Here is a little video for you.
BTW, did you knew that Mt St Michel is always being argued over by the two region that are on each side of the Bay? Normandy or Brittany, they both claimed it at one time or another.

Historically speaking it was giving to Brittany Duchy in 867 by the King of the Franks. Then back again to Normandy in 933.
But the way I was explain when I was a young girl (true or not… I don’t think it is, but I thought it was kind of funny so here it is) The Mont is located at the mouth of the Couesnon River, it has “moving sand” (no not the kind that you see in Indiana Jones movie) . It is an island and depending of the tide, the river will change from East to West of the Month. If the river was East of the Island the Mont was part of the Brittany region, if it was West of the Mont then it was part of the Normandy region. (See… I think it is way more funny for a kid to remember that it was part of Brittany and Normandy like that!) 😉
But really it has so much more history… you need to go and visit it during your stay in France. It’s only about 4 hours from Paris so if you don’t have the time, you can do a day trip. (A very quick day trip)
But believe me, it is worth it. Every step is worth of the view the you will see from the Abbey. Every corner of the Abbey is beautiful.. Just a MUST on your list of place to visit.
Oh and below is another video with some beautiful view of the inside of the Abbey! Enjoy!!

Paris Storefront

I found this lovely video and was wanted to share it with you.

It is such a reminder of what Paris is. The sound of life as car drive by, the “bonjour” from the restaurant host, the music of Paris is very perticular and this video shows it beautifully.

Oh and here are more beautiful view of Paris:   Pixar Printing

Design Boom Article where I saw this video first!

The behind the scene pictures of the movie:   apz media

CLIENT: Pixartprinting

DIRECTED BY: Pablo Apiolazza

PRODUCED BY: Federica Raffin


EDITING: Pablo Apiolazza


Last week I went to a “training” to Ladenburg for one of my coming assignment with the USO. I had NEVER been there and I will tell you that I found that little town just BEAUTIFUL and full of history.

I learn that Ladenburg was the second oldest city on this side of the Rhine River. The town started as a Celts settlement around 3000BC. The Name was LOKWODUNOM (meaning “Castle on the water”) it changes with the different area in history. Around 200BC the Celts left the region chased by the Suebs, who came from the North of Germany. When the Romans invaded the country, they accepted the Suebs as settles and made them their auxiliaries (militia). From 70AD the Romans started construction of a “Castellum” and chose to make town a “military base”. The town became soon after the “Capital” of the region. A little like in the states where DC is the Capital of the USA, each states has a capital, and in this time Rome was the Country capital and naming little town as their “regional/states” capital.


The Jupiter Column: Maybe the most remarkable ancient Roman piece that was found in Ladenburg is the Jupiter Column and Four Gods Stone.
The Bishop’s Palace: The painted architecture of the facades is a reconstruction. In 1960 remains of the original paintings were found underneath younger plaster and paint and the renaissance decoration repainted according to the finds.

St Sebastian Chapel: it belongs to the Bishop’s palace. Its origins date back to the 7th or 8th century. The oldest visible parts are the Romanesque walls of the northern transept and the steeple.

Witches Tower: Walking along the old wall you come to another old watch tower, It was built around 1200 as a watch tower, but was later used as a prison for “witches”, women who were thought to be witches.




Tagelohnerhaus: Daily wagers. People who didn’t have a “full time” job. In the morning they will go to the market place and look for work, and they will come and sleep in this house.


St Gallus : Middle of the 13th century was begun with the construction of the Gallus Church, z.T. on foundations of a Roman basilica market. The colored glass windows created 1966/67 “Valentin Feuerstein”. Represent Ladenburg as a Roman city, a Bishopric
and finally what is it today!



Key symbol on the wall: Signified that it was a bishopric town and that we were coming close to the bishop house.




The 30 years war (1618-1648) was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history. The war was fought primarily in what is now Germany and at various point involved most of the countries of Europe. The origin was initially because of a religious conflict between the Protestants and Catholics. Gradually it developed into a more general conflict involving most of the European powers. The war became more a continuation of the “Bourbon-Habsburg” rivalry for political power and then less specifically about religion.

Martin’s Gate: You can still see the holes made by cannon balls in the year 1622, when the town was besieged in the 30 years’ war.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Carl Benz moves to Ladenburg. In 1888 while her husband was away, Bertha decided to take the car on a long distance trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim where her mother lived. She took her 2 sons (13 and 15 years old) and left a note to her husband. So Bertha Benz and her sons drove by ear. If a chain had extended and now quite audibly missed individual teeth of the gears, they had to go to the blacksmith’s in Bruchsal who fixed the chain. However, two bad troubles happened in the middle of the road, so that “on-board” tools had to be used for the repair. These two pretty dramatic situations were described later as follows, rather coolly, by Bertha Benz, “The first time, the fuel line was clogged – my hairpin turned out to be helpful there. The second time the ignition was broken. I used my garter to fix it.” You can find the first garage in Germany in Ladenburg.

The Stumble Stones: Many places in Germany have started to put down some “Stumble Stones” – “Stolpersteine”. You’re supposed to stumble, not literally of course, but in your thoughts. These golden bricks are put down on the pavement in front of a building in which a victim of the Nazis used to live.

Schwetzingen Castle Garden Visit

This past week we have been bless with “spring” weather! Cloudy but concidering the fact that we didn’t see too much sun lately it was SUNNY!! So, of course I use this to open my windows everyday ALL day, instead of just a few minutes in the morning.

Then I recharged my camera battery and on Friday (since it was the only day of last week when I wasn’t busy) I took out!!

Camera in the bag & hat on my head. It was a pretty day, but lots of wind, so the clouds full of rain will come and go as fast as you could take refuge under a tree! LOL! BUT I did have a great time, I went to the Schwetzingen castle.

Here is a little info about the castle for those of you who one day will go around the garden, like I did!
Schwetzingen was the summer residence of the Electors Palatine Karl III Philip and Charles Theodore. It is situated in Schwetzingen, roughly equidistant from the electors’ seats at Heidelberg and Mannheim, and is most notable for its spacious and ornate gardens. Other than these exceptionally well preserved gardens and the castle proper, the compound also features one of the few surviving theaters in the rococo style.

The Palace Garden
The Garden Complex was created in Schwetzingen based on the example of Versailles and is unequalled anywhere in Europe.

The Schwetzingen Palace garden consists of two parts:
• The Symmetrically designed French baroque Garden with the Arion fountain in the center and
• The English landscape garden, this lies around the large pond and its arced canals in planned naturalness.
The Baroque garden is divided into the parterre, hedge zone and forest section. An unusual feature in Schwetzingen is the circular parterre formed by the “Zirkelbauten” (Quarter-Circle Buildings) and the vine-covered galleries, which distinguishes it from all other of the period.
The Schwetzingen gardens, like all baroque gardens, are oriented on the center axis of the palace. The main avenue is the reference point for all parts of the gardens. This idea embodies the concept of the absolute ruler: All parts of the estate are based on him; his glory shines like the sun over everything; his entire surroundings reflect his importance. With his building and landscape architects Nicolas de Pigage and Friedrich Ludwig Sckell, Carl Theodor, with his love of art and the good things in life, realized a garden complex which shows the intellectual history and fashions stretching from the baroque to the enlightenment to the Romantic period:

• The gardens, with their use of antique mythology (e.g. in the Temple of Apollo and the figure of Arion on the dolphin), becomes a Baroque stage for courtly life.
• The reasonable rationalistic view of the Enlightenment is reflected in the geometry of the circular parterre.
• In accordance with the ideas of the Romantic period, the concept of the gardens approaches nature with its imitation of natural moods and landscaped areas.

In all ages a multitude of fountains, cascades, lakes, ponds and channels bring movement into the gardens. Statesmen, artists and scholars of the highest rank met at the Palatinate Summer residence in Schwetzingen for the purpose of enjoying the opera performances and the magnificent courtly life. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart gave concerts here and Voltaire was a guest here. Schwetzingen later irresistibly attracted Romantic Friedrich Holderlin and Freiherr Von Eichendorff.
The Mosque was built as a Garden Folly.

Place Stanislas, Nancy

This past weekend was a “Long” weekend! Once a month Matt is off for 3 to 4 days. Most of the time the school are good to let the kids have the same weekend off, so it is nice because you can plan to get out of town and do something different. Well, we were thinking to go to Luzern (Switzerland) but decided against it as it is about 3 ½ hours away (one way) and we didn’t want to sleep over there (or at least not this time…. Way too cold to enjoy 2 days in Switzerland)

So we talked about it on Saturday and decided to drive to Nancy (which is still about 2 ½ hours away, mind you!!) Anyway, we stopped to see mainly the Place Stanislas, which is on the list of the “World Heritage Sites” of the UNESCO.

“Up to the middle of the 17TH century the Old Town and the New Town of Nancy were separated by a vast esplanade. Stanislas Leszczynski an exiled king of Poland who had become Duke of Lorraine in 1737, planned to create a square intended to honour and glorify his son-in-law Louis XV of France. The foremost of French royal squares, it sanctifies the royal image but at the same time is the setting for all popular festivities.

Stanislas and his architect Emmanuel Héré chose an ideal site for their project which was opposed to for a long time by Marshal de Belle-Isle, French military commander of the province. The foundation stone of the first building in the square was officially laid in March 1752 and the royal square solemnly inaugurated in November 1755.

At the beginning a bronze statue of Louis XV in the uniform of a roman general, the work of two sculptors Guibal and Cyfflé, decorated the centre of the square. The statue along with surrounding allegorical figures disappeared during the French Revolution and it was only in 1851 that a new statue, this time of Stanislas, was erected in its place.

The buildings round the square are classical in style with a play of colossal orders. The City Hall takes up the whole of the south side. The pediment above the main entrance is decorated with the coats of arms of both Stanislas and the town of Nancy. The present day Grand Hotel and the Opera House stand on the east side.

On the west side we find the Jacquet dwelling and the Fine Arts Museum which was in Stanislas’s time the College of Medecine. To the north the passage between the Vaudemont and Haussonville Bastions was still in existence and in order to maintain it on military defence grounds Emmanuel Héré conceived the ” basses faces “, buildings which were only the height of the first level of the others round the square.”

I found this photographer’s web site with gorgeous pictures of the Place Stanislas. The one that are on the blogs are mine, hope you enjoy them!
And of course nothing could be more perfect than a few Roses to tell you “Happy Valentine Day!”