Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


MAYBE YOU share M. Manuel Ribeiro’s love of stuff. I certainly stand in awe of the degree of his passion. He’d see something to collect, and then another of them, and yet another. Before long, he had quite enough to open a museum of popular culture—and in 1977 he and his family did just that.

How could anyone pass by such an engaging display?

The Musée Populaire Chez Manuel is just north of the French city of Poitiers, which in turn is 4 hours southeast of Paris, about 2 hours south of Le Mans. This latter, by the way, explains how I came to discover Chez Manuel as I took some early retirement after the rigors of covering the 24-hour race.

This isn’t a museum in the usual sense, mind. Rather, it’s a mélange of storage sheds, the stuff arranged more or less in logical orders.

A trio of classic Renault noses.

For example, M. Ribeiro found a single nose piece of an early Renault, the “coalscuttle” kind (used because the car’s radiator was mounted behind the engine). Then he found another, and another.

Water pumps? You want water pumps?

Even more so with a line of vintage water pumps. I remember my grandparents had one of these in their pantry.

Are you into baking? There’s also a succession of oven front plates, the oldest dating from the French Revolution, the latest likely from a 1975 boulangerie.

Mademoiselle de Poitiers, Parlez Vous?

Other displays are rather more eclectic, many accompanied by folk art which I suspect was done by M. Ribeiro himself. There are toys, games, cars, motorcycles, and one setting that reminded me of a Gypsy encampment.

This Gypsy encampment may be having visitors from above.

On top of the hill is this Sikorsky Chickasaw helicopter, or at least that portion of it deemed surplus.

Jean-Claude, M. Ribeiro’s son, is in charge these days. I remember him with enthusiast’s respect because Jean-Claude owns a Morgan Plus Four 4-Passenger Family Tourer similar to mine.

Despite this sign, the dogs didn’t seem all that naughty.

The museum is at 37, Avenue de Châtellerault, route D910, just north of Poitiers. Admission is 4 euros for adults, 2 euros for youngsters. Hours vary with time of year. The website, identifies a contact point as

A bit of everything for anyone.

The place is densely packed with popular culture of every sort. I found it extremely easy to lose myself in time, in more senses than one. ds

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This entry was posted on September 19, 2012 by in Just Trippin' and tagged , , .
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