Thursday, 26 August 2010

Cognac: from the Place François Ier to the Place d'Armes, via the Rue d'Angoulême

Today we will continue our exploration of Cognac, from the Place François Ier to the Place d'Armes, passing through the other main shopping street of the town: the Rue d'Angoulême.

Several grand buildings surround the Place François Ier but above one of the cafés that occupy the less ornate corner of the Place is a painted sign. A very appropriate one as it promotes an aperitif. The sign for Byrrh had been covered by one for St Raphäel in Saintes but here it is perfectly intact. This sign, with its simple, large letters must have been painted either in the 1930s or after 1952. Indeed a law passed by the Vichy regime prohibited adverts for aperitifs. It was repelled in 1952.


location: Place François Ier

Not far from the Place and just off the Rue d'Angoulême is the house where Jean Monnet, known in France as 'The father of Europe', was born on November 9, 1888. The parents of Jean Monnet were Cognac merchants so it is very unlikely they were behind the sign on the facade of the house.

Sellerie Carrosserie
[Saddlery Bodyworks]

Location: Rue Neuve des Remparts

Walking along the pedestrianized Rue d'Angoulême, one rapidly comes across several ghost signs, starting with this one at the corner with the Rue du Prieuré.


'Régime', which in most cases is translated as 'diet', can also mean 'bunch'. Did this shop specialize in bananas or dates? Somehow that seems unlikely. Maybe it was just the surname of the owners. Just round the corner is the foundation date of the business. The street was too naroow to have it all on one picture.

Maison fon...
[Company foun...]

...dée en 1815
[...ded in 1815]

On the other side of the street is a sign full of abbrevations. It was certainly a jeweller's. Indeed it appears that was the profession of Maurice Mariau (1866-1937).

Anne Mon [Ancienne Maison]
Mce Mariau [Maurice]
fondée en 1892
Maurice Mariau
Fonded in 1892

On the facade of the building at the the corner with the Rue Challais the same sign was painted twice.

Chemiserie spéciale
[Special Shirtmaker's]
Léon Jarnac

Location of three signs (five pictures) above: Rue d'Angoulême

A few meters away is a sign for a company well known to generations of gardeners across France. The origins of Vilmorin can be traced back to 1743, the year Claude Geoffroy, the spouse of Pierre Andrieux, seed supplier and botanist to King Louis XV, opened a seed shop on the Quai de la Mégisserie in Paris (the shop still exists). In 1774 their daughter married botanist Philippe-Victoire de Vilmorin. Together they created the Vilmorin-Andrieux company, which over the next couple of centuries became a leading supplier of seeds and plants in France. It remained in the same family until 1972, when it was purchased by a farmer from the Anjou region. Three years later it was acquired by agro-industrial cooperative Groupe Limagrain, which in 1981 began developing its international operations by purchasing companies in the US, the Netherlands, Britain, Australia, Spain, Italy, etc. Nowadays it is the fourth largest seed company in the world.

Graines Vilmorin
[Vilmorin Seeds]

Location: Rue Challais

At the end of the Rue d'Angoulême is the Place d'Armes, where two more buidings with ghost signs can be found. Both facades were painted on more than one occasion.

Between the second-floor windows, the name 'A. Deschamps' was covered by

Across the whole facade, all I can read is
Quincaillerie Articles ...hais
[Ironmonger's Goods ...]
and I am not even sure they go together. I may have a further look later.

As for what is between the first-floor windows, I can't make anything sense of the few letters visible.

On the south side of the Place was this clothes shop.

A la Belle fermière
A. Durand
Vêtements pour hommes et enfants
At the Beautiful Woman Farmer's
A. Durand
Clothes for Men and Children
Something else was originally painted slightly below 'A. Durand' on two occasions. I can't read anything of the original layer. As for the one it was covered by, all I can see is:
... ... Durand

Just to make sure nobody would miss this shop, a small portion of the wall just round the corner was also painted. Yet one had to twist one's head to read it.

... pour hommes
[... For Men]

At the northeast end of the Place d'Armes begins the Rue du Boulevard, where the final three signs for today have survived.



Café - Bar

All pictures taken on: 03/06/2010

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