Shopping Basket
0 items
Total £0.00

The Roannais to the Italian city of Siena by Brian Franklin

Within a day’s steady drive away from our base in the Roannais, Rhône-Alpes you can be walking through the Piazzo de Campo in the wonderful, medieval city of Siena (spelt Sienna in English) in the heart of the Chianti region of Italy.

Stunning and beautiful with medieval and ancient history oozing out of its  fascinating architectural landscape, Siena is simply a ‘dream’ of a place to visit for a few days.

The historic centre of Siena has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Italy, with almost 200,000 international visitors per year.

Siena is particularly famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape and the historical ‘Palio’, a horse race held twice yearly.

The Palio di Siena is a traditional medieval horse race run around the Piazza del Campo twice each year, on 2 July and 16 August.

The event is attended by large crowds, and is widely televised. Seventeen Contrade (which are city neighbourhoods originally formed as battalions for the city’s defence) vie for the trophy: a painted banner, or Palio bearing an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For each race a new Palio is commissioned by well-known artists and Palios won over many years can often be seen in the local Contrade museum. During each Palio period, the city is decked out in lamps and flags bearing the Contrade colours.

Siena’s cathedral (Duomo), begun in the 12th century, is one of the great examples of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture.

Its main façade was completed in 1380. It is unusual for a cathedral in that its axis runs north-south. This is because it was originally intended to be the largest cathedral in the world, with a north-south transept and an east-west nave, as is usual.

After the completion of the transept and the building of the east wall (which still exists and may be climbed by the public via an internal staircase) the money ran out and the rest of the cathedral was abandoned.

Inside is the famous Gothic octagonal pulpit by Nicola Pisano (1266–1268) supported on lions, and the labyrinth inlaid in the flooring, traversed by penitents on their knees. Within the Sacristy are some perfectly preserved renaissance frescos by Domenico Ghirlandaio, and, beneath the Duomo, in the baptistry is the baptismal font with bas-reliefs by Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Jacopo della Quercia and other 15th century sculptors.
The shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, the town square, which houses the Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia, is another architectural treasure, and is famous for hosting the Palio horse race.

Fantastic architecture, history, culture, plus the Italian sunshine and conviviality of the locals, and a myriad of excellent restaurants serving wonderful food – what more do you want!!

Le Cuvage Story: ‘Keeping Your Head Above Water’ by Brian Franklin

Continuing on from my last month’s article about our renovation and conversion of ‘Le Cuvage’ in the Roannais, Rhône-Alpes, things have moved along rapidly.

Our French friends, Jean-François and Adeline, co-partners in this exciting joint project, have now moved into their part of Le Cuvage.

Their new home looked great!

Although each of the three dwellings, being created out of this original ‘pressoir’ (wine-making barn) was individually planned and designed differently, the essential style and concept, led by our French architect, was consistently followed throughout each interior for a ‘co-ordinated ‘look’.

Our friends stepped over their threshold and moved into their new home before us at the end of October 2005.

This was purposely staged to be completed first so that they could move from their current smaller home at the ‘Pavillon de Chasse’ (hunting lodge), in part of the original grounds and courtyard of the Chateau des Cresses. Of course, unlike us at the time, Jean- François and Adeline lived in France, so it was essential that they ‘moved in’ first.

A young couple with modern attitudes, their new home in ‘Le Cuvage’ reflected an imaginative and contemporary ‘flavour’, with ‘lacquer-sealed concrete floor throughout the ground floor, stunning red kitchen, and a generally ‘fun’ atmosphere about the place.

We were impressed with their interior treatment and the practicality of Jean-François who had completed much of the flooring, painting, and lighting installations himself. As I have said previously, he is a useful, ‘hands-on’ guy (I have to admit with some envy!)Anyway, in the meantime, whilst our friends moved in, we moved on…!

Read the full article at: – The Cuvage Story

Bar and Brasserie Clemenceau in Roanne, Roannais

‘Le Clemenceau is a Bar and Brasserie with panache – a great place to chill-out with a coffee or beer on a sunny Roannais day. Great for a quick lunch, too!

A convivial Bar-Brasserie set in a prime position right in the heart of the Place Georges Clemenceau.This attractive square is is one of Roanne’s most impressive, flanked on one side by the church St.Etienne, and on the other, by the ancient Roanne Chateau, and an amazing ‘trompe l’oeil’ wall mural reflecting its rich, historical past.

There are also a couple of contemporary designed water features with dramatic fountains, which contrast with the surrounding medieval buildings.

‘Le Clemenceau’ is a great place for lunch, and good value, too!

They do a ‘plat du jour’ for 6.95€ which changes daily. Within this, you can choose from a selection of desserts, and downed with a glass of chilled rosé or ‘biére préssion’. They are open 7 days out of 7, too! Good business approach!!

The atmosphere is extremely friendly and relaxed, which, of course, partly explains its popularity with local business men and women, as well as shoppers, tourists, and families (particularly during the week-end).

Visit ‘Le Clemenceau’ in our ‘Restaurant’ section within the ‘Roannais Directory‘ at for more details on this great place!


Restaurant la Rocadine in Perreux, Roannais

This is a sincere recommendation to an excellent restaurant run by Jérôme and Mélanie Sadot.In typical Jérôme fashion his menu and presentation is traditional French, but with contemporary and original styling. A winning combination along with the use of high quality, local produce. It’s a good sign when you can see many local French people are eating and enjoying themselves there!

Specialities : foie gras, viande charolaise, poissons, desserts maison. Closed Sundays, Saturday lunchtime, Wednesday evening, and Bank Holidays Open daytime 12.00 to 1.30pm, evening from 9.00pm (summer), and from 8.45pm (winter). Menu – 12€ (during the week) to 34€.Menu for children 10€ (up to 10 years) Groups 60 max. Handicap access. Terrace. Take-away Service: foie gras,terrine, poissons, viandes, dessert. Order 1 week in advance.

Purefrancenow Directory – La Rocadine