Saturday, 18 April 2015

Châtellerault : town sights and its motor museum.

Châtellerault is a smallish town (about 30,000 people) in the Vienne department (part of the Poitou-Charentes region), 100 kilometres (62 miles) or so north of us. It's well situated on the river Vienne, very near to the A10 motorway linking Bordeaux and Paris. The high speed train line between these two cities also runs through here. We parked the car and the first thing we saw was this beautifully restored building, now apparently containing private apartments.


Lavish decoration, all done to a tight curve!

This stone plaque records the site of the Saint Catherine's gate, once an entrance into the town and through which passed the French heroine Joan of Arc in March 1429 during the 100 Years War. You will recall that Joan, a young lady of seventeen, was inspired by "voices" to raise a force to recapture the town of Orleans, held by the English. She successfully did this in May 1429 and went on to win a series of battles against them, including the capture of Reims, where Charles VII was crowned king of France in July 1429. In May 1430, Joan was captured and tried by the English as a heretic. They burnt her at the stake in 1431 in Rouen, but in 1920 she was raised to sainthood in recognition of her efforts and sacrifice for France.

Pont Henri IV. THE thing to see in the town, so the guidebooks say. The work was ordered by Catherine of Medici (queen of France, wife of King Henry II) in person, during quite a frenzy of such projects at the time and started in 1572 by Charles Androuet, whose brother built the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris. This one is 144 metres long and 21 metres wide, but it took a looooong time to build! Androuet's son Rene took over the supervision in the last 5 years up to completion in 1611.

This second bridge nearby, is the bridge Camille de Hogues, built in 1900 and notable for being the first reinforced concrete bridge in France! Chimneys at the motor museum (see later) in the background.

Église St-Jacques is yet another church on the pilgrim route to Saint Jacques de Compostelle in Spain, featured in other blogs! It was built in the 12th and 13th centuries, but the towers were added in the 19th century.

The beautiful roof vaulting inside.....

....and the stained glass windows.

But now to the main reason for our visit,  the car and bike museum.  These are only a very few of the photos I took, and if you are in the region, it is well worth a visit for a modest 5 euro entrance fee.  The museum is large and there are loads of things to see. It is housed in a 19 century former armaments factory, which is eye-catching in itself, but in 1970 the space was provided for the motor museum. These two beautiful and shapely brick chimneys below form part of it and can be seen from a long way off. A masterclass in brickwork!

Below is a very small selection of those which caught my eye! I've tried not to be too technical, limiting myself to the brief descriptions on the signs in front of each exhibit.
Draisiaenne - A replica of a German design of 1820, pioneered by Baron Drais. It allowed the rider to be "seated" and the front wheel to be steered. They excited great curiosity and amusement in the public who saw them on the streets of Paris and London!

Tricycle from 1889 offering more comfort, technical design advances and manoeuvrability than available with the bicycle of the time

Werner from 1903. The 2,5 hp 4 stroke engine was started by the cyclist pedalling. it could attain 35 -45 kph. Note: 100 kph is 62 miles per hour! It won at least 2 long distance races in 1901; Paris - Bordeaux and Paris - Berlin but the marque disappeared in 1906, when regulations were changed.

Panhard - Levassor. State of the art in 1890! One of the first models with a petrol engine. Similar to the car which Levassor drove non-stop in 1895 for 48 hours and 48 minutes! Brave man!

1906 Brouhot. Four cylinder engine with maximum speed of 60-80 kph. This car was rebuilt from pieces in 1969 and is the only known surviving example.

The Darmont from 1929, developed under licence from the English company Morgan, who had started with 3 wheeled cars in 1908. This French version has an 1100cc engine powering the car to a very respectable 150 kph!

Longchamp was an engineer who built chassis and bodywork for speed recordbreaking competition cars. The engines were ordered from other specialists. This car is from 1953 and doesn't look out of place today!

1939 Peugeot 402B , although the 402 model first appeared in 1935. A 2100cc engine gave it a top speed of 135 kph. Production was stopped in 1939 with the start of World War 2.

Teilhol electric car, with Paris registration, from 1972! Useful for parking where there isn't much space. Powered by batteries to maximum speed of 75 kph. Weighing 500 kg, it could be driven for 75 km before recharging was required.

The world famous English marque, a BSA, with sidecar from 1918. Only 4.5 horsepower! Birmingham Small Arms Company (hence BSA) manufactured rifles in the 19th century but later turned to motorcycles. The sidecar was relatively modern for its era; shaped metal panels on a wood frame.

Just a glimpse of the host of interesting exhibits following the evolution of  personal transport from the wooden bike to the more familiar machines of today!


Thanks to Nigel once again for all his research and writing the article to go with my photos.


See also my daily Photo Diary Here
My Life Before Charente  - New post 18/04/2015

50 comments:

  1. Hello Diane..looks like a very interesting trip especially the Bike and Car museum ..love the Blue car ..Super. well done to Nigel too..great combined post. Super photos Diane. Thanks for sharing. Take care love Anne xo

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    1. Thanks Anne, we were lucky that the weather was perfect when we visited as well! The car museum is great we could have spent a lot more time there than we did. Have a good weekend Diane xox

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  2. Great post, and fascinating, too. I love all your photos!

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    1. Thanks so much Linda for the kind comment. Hope you have a good weekend Diane

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  3. Very enjoyable, lovely scenes and those modes of transport are fascinating.

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    1. Thanks Denise, amazing how they used to get around. Some of the old cars are surprisingly quite modern looking and before their time. Keep well Diane

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    1. Thanks Immanuel and the same to you. Diane

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  5. You've persuaded us to make the trip! Great photographs.

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    1. Gaynor I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did. The museum was brilliant and the town has some interesting buildings as well. Take care and enjoy the weekend Diane

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    2. Gaynor, we could all go...
      Tim and I could do the Museum...
      and you and Pauline could "do the Town"!
      T'otherTim

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  6. Wow those vintage hot rods and bikes are awesome! I love that bridge too!

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    1. LOL I would hardly call them hot rods, most of the early cars were quite sedate in the speed they went. There were of course the odd few that could speed up. The bridges are lovely. Have a good weekend Diane.

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  7. As usual the architecture fascinates me. But then those bikes and cars are all very interesting. I see you really do have a love for autos.

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    1. European architecture is fascinating Gaelyn and the older it is, the better it is so it seems. Yes I do love old cars, my Dad was an engineer and I think a little rubbed off on me, and of course I am married to a man who also loves cars. Thanks for the comment Diane

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  8. cool little town and love the old cars

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    1. Thanks Rebecca, it was a lovely town and the museum was quite spectacular. Because I am not on Google plus, I had numerous problems with it so went back to normal google I am now unable to leave comments on your posts, sorry. Have a great weekend Diane

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  9. Α very interesting trip! Thanks for sharing.

    Ζ.

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    1. Thanks, so glad that you enjoyed it. Because I am not on Google plus, I had numerous problems with it so went back to normal google I am now unable to leave comments on your posts, sorry. Have a great weekend Diane

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  10. Merci Diane pour cette belle visite du musée de Châtellerault! Vous êtes une merveilleuse guide touristique! Merci aussi pour la plaque rappelant le passage de Jeanne d'Arc : j'aime beaucoup l'expression employée en 1829 "l'héroïque bergerette"!
    Bon dimanche à vous!

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    1. Merci Lucie pour le genre de commentaire. Bon dimanche à vous aussi. Diane

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  11. The apartment building is gorgeous. I'm taken with the Peugeot 402B! The range of that 1972 electric car is almost as good as present day models isn't it? We haven't advanced as much as we should have in that area, unless you are rich enough to own a Tesla. The old factory housing the museum is lovely.

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    1. Craig old French architecture is beautiful, I am always in awe of what they used to build. The Tesla was originally invented by Elon Musk a South African and the inventor of PayPal. There were certainly some interesting cars and bikes in the museum plus a a few ,very old guns as well.Have a good day Diane

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    2. Yes, I know of Elon quite well Diane. He's the owner of Space-X too I think?

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  12. Love the cars and bike. Car design has got so boring these days!

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    1. Sarah I agree with you there, the old cars and bikes are so much more interesting in general. Have a good week Diane

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  13. Hi Diane - I must come back for a better read and look .. incredible town .. and then the museum with its chimneys .. and fantastic shots you took of the various modes of transport .. such a pity about the Werner marque going out of fashion or fading from history. Cheers - definitely a place to visit .. Hilary

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    1. Hilary it is a lovely little town with lots of history. We were actually visiting the larger town of Poitiers but we wanted to go and see the museum which was well worth the trip, Take care Diane

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  14. Wow. What a lot of history in your short trip. I do love that first picture with the apartments. I wish the shutters were thrown open to give a hint about what's inside. I'd love it if you'd link up with Dreaming of France. Thanks for visiting. Here’s my Dreaming of France meme

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    1. Thanks Paulita for the visit and the comment. I have, since starting the blog 4 years ago, stayed away from awards, advertising and linking to any other blogs. It all gets too complicated, and once I do one, others will expect me to change my mind. The couple of ads I have on the blog are friends and definitely an exception to my rule. Sorry but I want to keep it that way. Also as I live in France I am hardly dreaming about it, I live it :-) Have a good week Diane

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  15. The museum looks brilliant, right up Rogers street. He loves anything with an engine x

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    1. Sure you would enjoy it as well Kerry, there is a lot to see there. Keep well Diane xx

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  16. So many interesting things ....... This time it was the very special roof that caught my attention. Very pretty!

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    1. Gunn I agree that ceiling is very special which is what I think you are talking about. Keep well Diane

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  17. Loved this trip Margaret, the museum looked so interesting.. we've sure come a long way since the wooden bike hey :) the vintage cars are divine, so elegant.

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    1. LOL think you mean Diane. Your right, things have changed a lot since the wooden bike!! Hope all is well Diane

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  18. This was a wonderful trip on many levels, Diane! It's a beautiful town, and I love those bridges. I have been to a couple of transportation museums, and they are fascinating. But I've never seen a wooden bicycle. (I finished a book last weekend that reminded me of you, by the way.)

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    1. Marjie it was an interesting town for a number of reasons. Now I am intrigued, what was the book called? Hope you are all well, Diane

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    2. It was the one I just reviewed, Around the World in 50 Years. He wrote extensively about Africa, which reminded me of your mother's book, as well - I'm currently rereading that just for fun.

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  19. Diane, were there and BSA three-wheelers in the collection?
    The other great machines from Brum!!
    Tim

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    1. Tim there was not a lot of British vehicles there so far as we can remember and the only BSA (we think) was the sidecar'. Certain worth a visit. Diane

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  20. Toutes ces voitures sont vraiment magnifiques.
    Encore une bien belle promenade. Merci.

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    1. Merci pour le commentaire. C'est un plaisir. Bonne journée.

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  21. I must have that blue peugeot!!! how divine and sweet it is. The shape is too perfect isn't it. A great little town too!

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    1. Deana there is no blue peugeot there so I am not sure which car you mean. There is the Longchamp body or the Teilhol electric car both isblue. It is an interesting place to visit. Keep well Diane

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  22. Hello Diane,
    A lovely visit to Chatellerault museum and its old chassis car!
    I find the wooden bike stunning but i can't help wondering how one can ride such a thing! LOL!
    Great set of pics showing the magnificence of these great oldies!
    Enjoy your week and keep well :)

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    1. Thanks Noushka, personally I think it would be easier to walk than ride that wooden bike :-). Thanks for the kind comment. Keep well Diane

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  23. Beatuiful buildings in the town. I love the Church doorway. I know someone who would love that car museum.

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    1. Diane even if you are not mad about cars and bikes the museum is very interesting. The church was very hard to take photos of, too many buildings around it! Hope all is well t'other Diane

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