September 18, 2014

wines and more wines, the foires are on, wine fairs in France

This is the period of the wine faires or Foires du vin in France. Being a wine drinker, aficionado, amateur, lover, collector? , and former wine store manager I am always in love with wines. Water is for the agriculture ,wine is for the good health.

Some good quotes; “One should always be drunk. That’s all that matters…But with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you chose. But get drunk.”
Charles Baudelaire

“Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.”
Louis Pasteur

and my favorite, “Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
Ernest Hemingway

 

I rather go to the properties themselves and have some in the Médoc, around Amboise, Clisson near Nantes, and the South west near Gaillac, as well as pays basque with the jurançons. However, as one cannot be always on site even if live here, we do go to the Nicolas stores to shop my wines as well as online from the Baronnie of the Mouton-Rothschild family.  A representative presentation of some of my house wines ::)

http://www.lanessan.com/

http://www.chateau-latourdemons.com/

http://www.chateau-ducru-beaucaillou.com/site2006-va/index.html

http://www.domainedutertre.fr/

http://www.sauvion.fr/english.htm

http://www.domainedescausses.com/

http://www.chateaudelacroux.com/index.php?id=english

http://www.clement-termes.com/accueil.html

http://www.cavedejurancon.com/?___store=uk

store Nicolas, have in Vannes and Lorient, but Customer of the one in Vannes

http://www.nicolas.com/fr/magasin/vannes/vannes-10-18-465.htm

and La Baronnie, http://www.labaronnie.fr/

of course , here there is heaven so many so much choices, and so good quality wines ,it is like well heaven ::)

The new year will be exceptional according to my latest report from Bordeaux, such as “caught up with the heat deficit in August by a month of exceptional September”. Started by places early September, the harvest of white grapes, representing 12% of the blend of the 112.600 hectares of the wines of Bordeaux, including late harvested sweet wines, in the middle of month full swing. The harvest of red grapes are planned from the last week of September”  And that is for both colors white and red.

Enjoy the wines of France, no matter what they said the others are copies these are the real thing. See the grapes ::) Cheers

plu chateau bel air lalande de pomerol 2011 sept14 plu chateau de Chizots fleurie 2012 sept14 plu chateau de navailles jurancon 2010 sept14 plu Chateau Haut La Pierriere 2011 Castillon Bordeaux sept14 Plu domaine de la Morandiere 2012 Chinon aug14 plu lupe cholet bourgogne hautes  cote de nuits 2012 sept14

 

 

 

 

 

September 14, 2014

Returning to Quiberon , always grand!

Today was a wonderful day sunny with 24C temps or about 75F, as Sunday, the family took a ride back to one of our favorite areas, but since so many of them ::) took a while since January. This is summer still here lol! the beach was full but parking was ok offstreet and free . Quiberon is only about 40 minutes by car from my house so it  should be visited more often, it is grand.

For a reminder, the tourist office official page is here http://en.quiberon.com/

We went by car, and stop at nice Plouharnel ,which we have passed by and in city center but this time went to their beach. Nice clean beach, althought more suited for surfers and kites folks ,lots of waves; the rest was nice.  Their tourist office official page is here http://www.plouharnel.com/

We ,also, stop by the old chapel of Ste Barbe which has a history of the chouans rebels that were here camping with Gen Cadoudal back in 1795; they fought the French revolution. As many led you to believe that it was a revolution on the king and period, it was longer than that and not totally wipe out the resistance than in 1832. Before all the combattants were given pardon and titles given back. More here, http://www.plouharnel.com/religious-heritage/chapelle-de-sainte-barbe.html

Quiberon is a peninsula (it reminds me of the Florida Keys, my old hangout years ago), there are beaches on both sides and a military fortress as well, a railroad line from Auray in summers and the rest connected by the departément 56 TIM bus service on line 1 from Vannes, passing by many communities; the Schedule now is here  in pdf file

http://www.morbihan.fr/fileadmin/user_upload/Les_services/Vos_deplacements/Transports_collectifs/Fiches_horaires_TiM/Morbihan_Tim_HLn1-A-2014.pdf

We try to find free parking and Varquez square was full, the train station we left behind so we found street parking for free on Sundays by rue du Port de Pêche not far from Place Varquez andthis street takes you straight to Port Maria and the cruise terminal or gare maritime. The station takes you to the Belle-île-sur-Mer, île d’Houat, and île d’Hoëdic.  The Compagnie Océane does this service, the dept tourist office tells you, http://www.morbihan.com/compagnie-oceane/quiberon/tabid/7426/offreid/e2c2af26-73ec-48be-a41d-4d7cad90414b/detail-se-deplacer.aspx

Once in Quiberon, we did our usual things, walk up and down the grande plage area, full of shops, restos, pubs, and people. We got into the 14th Balade Solex Club Quiberonnais, folks in old bicycles with costumes ludics. An event done here with lots of local interests and joined in by some tourists still left behind … more in French here ,http://en.quiberon.com/evenements/135385-rallye-solex-costume

We had our usual lunch away from home on the beach at the Grande Plage or big beach, the center of it all. There is a resto bistro right on the sand call Fisher’s Club, we had our beers, and tapas of red peppers with goat cheese, calamar in its sauce, ham and cheese rolls, codfish fritters, with a great look at the beach, grandiose!!!  Very nice cool place , to relax by the sea, sublime, and even kids space to boot. classic on the beach of Quiberon, go to gallerie to see more photos. http://tomtom35.wix.com/fishers-club#!restaurant/crrl

For dessert, we went over across to the Quai des Glaces or Ice wharf  parlor to have our 3  and four balls of ice creams like marc de bourgogne, pruneaux d’armagnac, strawberries for me with churros or chichis as call here. At the place du Hoche just going down to the beach at Grande Plage. Wonderful friendly service always , great ices and the four scoops any flavor  at 4,40€.no webpage.

On the way back , I stop at the dolmen Mané Kerioned on the D768 road between Auray and Plouharnel, always pass by it and see, this time took pictures lol!! The stones here dates from more than 3500 years BC. Its a group of 2 dolmen stones standing side by side facing South, and a third one facing them; the longest one you need to kneeled but it is 10 meters long below the surface. It has several engraving hard to decipher even today, these were burial chambers….impressive. The dept 56 Morbihan tourist site has more in French, http://www.morbihan.com/site-de-mane-kerioned/carnac/tabid/7430/offreid/59febbf6-1dae-4d21-b327-a574669cd8e2/detail-visites.aspx

Again, another wonderful Sunday in the Morbihan, Departément 56 of Brittany, France. And now ready for work,reports,and annual company convention in near Paris. I have to say, I had my birthday yesterday, and was loaded with bottles of wines from my son’s. It took them over 20 years but its nice to get something back finally ,I am thrill !!! Enjoy your Sunday. Cheers.

 Plouharnel  Plouharnel  Plouharnel  Plouharnel  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Quiberon  Plouharnel  Plouharnel  Plouharnel  Plouharnel  Plouharnel  Plouharnel

 

 

 

 

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September 10, 2014

Some news from France XCI

ParisOr the empire of Alain Ducasse, one of my favorite chefs and Le Figaro did an entire article on him, I am translating here what they wrote.

Alain Ducasse in figures:

By becoming a name, this gascon has also built an empire. Swarming its know-how both in books as in the schools of training or mobile apps, Mr Ducasse knows how to move ahead.

More than 6,000 hours of courses on cooking and oenology for amateurs, dispensed each year on average by the stamped school AD. Two addresses in Paris: 64, rue de Ranelagh (16th, yes great!), with cellar tasting, and BHV Marsh, 52 rue Rivoli (4th at the store). Average price of a course: from €140 for adults and €90 for children. Possible privatization.

100 books, published by Alain Ducasse Edition since its inception in 1999. Fully digitized, the catalogue lists some 20 authors (Julie Andrieu, Pierre Hermé, Guy Savoy, Anne-Sophie Pic…), translated in 10 languages and distributed in 30 countries.

3,500 students enroll each year in one of the two schools of Alain Ducasse formation, one in culinary arts (Argenteuil), the other in pastry (Yssingeaux, Haute-Loire). They offer a multitude of formulas from 1 day to 8 months, diplomas and vocational. Among the latest: a training specially dedicated to heads of yachts and their crews (cost: 940-1 €940).

26 restaurants in the world (London, New York, Las Vegas, Monte Carlo, Tokyo, Osaka, Doha…), including 10 in Paris: Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée, the Relais Plaza, the Court Garden (in the eighth), Le Meurice and the Dali (in the 1st), Le Jules Verne (2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower, in the seventh), Aux Lyonnais (in the second), Benoit (in the fourth), Allard (in life) and searching in the  17th ). Global annual turnover of Alain Ducasse Entreprise: EUR 80 million.

320 m 2 for the Manufacture of chocolate at Bastille. Alain Ducasse, bean fan, wanted to be able to master the manufacture of its cocoa vintages from the beginning to the end. This is done since February 2013, date of commencement of this factory in the heart of Paris. Controllers, one of his followers: Nicolas Berger, chocolatier-roaster. 40, rue de Roquette (11th).

And also…

18 stars in the Michelin Guide1 booth Choux (cabbage d’Enfer) opened early 2014 with the pastry chef Christophe Michalak in the 15th; 1 academie of taste, culinary encyclopedia online with, among other things, the recipe ideas7 applications iPad and iPhone, including that of castles & Hotels Collection1 online shop selling gift boxes, table objects, books, etc.

An amazing French story of international proportions. I highlighted above my favorites haunts in Paris. and here is the article in French

http://www.lefigaro.fr/sortir-paris/2014/09/10/30004-20140910ARTFIG00039-alain-ducasse-de-a-a-z.php

Cheers

September 3, 2014

Some news from France LXXXX

Well all back to normal here the rentrée or come back to norm is on, just routine by now, its my 11st. The idea is really a mental process as all here act like machines on it. In reality ,its just another day, another day at school for the Young and work continues for the middle, the retirees don’t feel anything ::) well maybe the grandchildren.

The weather has stay hot even as 24C sunny ,just like beach weather. It makes you go back hehehe. I am taking this month to catch up on house chores and no outside travel, next month already planned trips out to Europe and South America.

The latest from our Paris megapolis is Bob ‘s Bake Shop, after Bob’s juice and Bob’s kitchen now we get Bob’s bake shop with pastries. Some are quaint, unique trying to find a niche. Bagel with avocado, Batka brioché au chocolat, and Blueberry pie. Halle Pajol, 12, esplanade Nathalie-Sarraute every day from 8h to 16h, closest metro jules joffran line 12.http://www.bobsjuicebar.com/

Another nice new spot is at Boulogne-Billancourt, my old hangout for business work.  La Passarelle, 52, quai du Point-du-Jour, everyday from 16h to 02h. You need to look for it as it a boat peniche  Les Calanques, and go over a narrow bridge to it. The ambiance is terrific.and new to try out , at http://www.lapasserelle-boulogne.fr/

Another great point with nice views of Paris is again the store BHV rooftop bar as the others …::) Perchoir éphémére is the bar at http://www.bhv.fr/magasins/bhv-paris/

And again thanks to Le Figaro as above, I am giving you two maps of the metro done with the best bars and burger joints in Paris.

Then, we have 150 years of the Musée Décoratifs celebrating with 16 interior designers who chose their best there; http://www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr/english-439/exhibitions/forthcoming-events

The newest shopping center in Paris, Beaugrenelle will have an English showcase of goods from September 6 to 20th, http://www.beaugrenelle-paris.com/

At Honfleur, the story of Eugéne Boudin continues with an expo to the local painter until September 29th. “Dans l’intimité d’Eugéne Boudin; http://www.musees-honfleur.fr/musee-eugene-boudin/expositions.html

 

This is it for now, will need to get cranking on the rentrée ::) Enjoy your week.

Paris Paris

 

 

 

August 30, 2014

Pont Aven an artist hangout and a second look.

This is less than an hour from me, but with so much to see I just stopped by again and realise the last time wrote about it was in January 2013 here!!! The town of the school of painters of Pont Aven more commonly call the Americans.  As it was a Mr Bacon and Mr Wylie who first came here by 1864 and fell in love with the place painting their way attracting others thorought the years including the great Gauguin, and the word stuck even if many were not Americans.

The tourist office is here http://www.pontaven.com/L-Office-du-Tourisme  ; you have the department 29 or Finistére tourist board here, in English, http://www.finisterebrittany.com/discover/pont-aven , and you have the region tourist office of Brittany here, in English, http://www.brittanytourism.com/discover-brittany/hidden-gems/pont-aven

We came by car of course easy on the N165 exit or sortie 48 on the D4 or you can go along the expressway as we did coming back to avoid the weekend tourist hordes going home by the D783 to Quimperlé and take the D16 out into the N165. The weather was cool warm some sun, very nice for walks.

When we arrive we parked by the harbor parking le port  right along the river Aven. For free. We set out into city center along the Aven looking at the nice stores and restaurants and taking a beat as to what to do later on.

I went first to the museum of Pont Aven, as I knew it was Under construction and so sad it is still in scaffolds and the tourist office confirm to  me will take about another year before it opens again.. This is the one showing the great painters of the School of Pont Aven. The webpage for future use, http://www.museepontaven.fr/

We set out to do some shopping very typical nice and good prices for this hidden gem of the Finistére Breton. Well that is what the tourist office says but from the crowds there, it is not hidden anymore ::)

The biscuiteries or cookie making companies are a boundful here,and we did grab a box or bag here and there on our favorites already from our last visit. The Traou Mad galettes,http://www.traoumad.fr/

The biscuiterie de Pont Aven, http://www.biscuiteriedepontaven.fr/

The Biscuiterie de la Maison de Fanch ,1 quai Botrel  (this one was a new one), the Real Chocolat,  26 rue du port (another new one for us) all wonderful to explore and shop.

We check on the vedettes de l’Aven Maritime a cruise up the river Aven, and into the ocean,  starting from September 2nd, 1h15 rides for 13,50€ adults.  http://vedettes-aven-belon.com/content/54/29/les-circuits

We went for some spicy seafood to bring home in jars at the Moulin de Rosmadec épicerie or grocery store, this is an excellent restaurant but more suitable for evenings , my take. The grocery store is right before getting to the resto and they have a small hotel as well; very chic. The items here are a mouthful;;;;  see and the rest here, http://www.moulinderosmadec.com/gb/epicerie.html

These are very local goodies you can eat on the spot or take home to wherever you are lodged. The Niniches are the stors of the La Maison d’Armorine, and they have several stores as per their site we go to Carnac most often but been to all of them, superb. The niniches were created in Quiberon and they have won honors for their confection in France as the best candies, they come in many flavors; something unique to buy here. http://www.maison-armorine.com/public/catalogue/produits/fr/nos-confiseries/les-niniches.php

Somewhere in the above we stopped by our favorite gift store in the area rivals the other one we like,  ,,,, this is Lever Micheline, cadeaux Bretonnes in Pont Aven. Here we got kitchen deco and t shirts with merlin the magician logos and dragons, snakes you name it. They carry the whole range of Breton goodies from food, liquors, to gifts of all sorts and with genuine made in Brittany or France logos. You should be here if in the area. It is at the main street diagonally to the museum, 2 place Paul Gauguin and across from tourist office.

And of course, we ate lol!! forgot the entry but posted the photos. The wonderful Le Moulin du Grand Poulguin by the harbor back , free parking, and great prompt service with delicious food. We had Breton beers Duchesse Anne Triple 7,5% and kids had Morgane, bio blonde beer. Just to try them. We ate from pizzas savoyarde and Forte to tagliatelle albacore tuna pasta and the Tagliatelle 3 fromages, all with expresso coffee, bread,butter,and water, limonade, menthe syrop drinks, and only 17€ per person tops! http://www.moulin-pontaven.com/

We had some time and one our son was shopping in Vannes, so we continue to the coast into the ocean at Nevez, Port Manec’h, and Moelan sur Mer wonderful town with beaches and the ocean breeze with all the tourists out, this is heavens !!!! There we saw two wonderful sights, Church  Sainte Thumette and Chapel of Sainte Barbe in Nevez. We went to the sea at Manec’h before moving on by the riviere of Bélon, yes the famous wonderful Breton oysters having its capital at Riec-sur-Bélon. We continue coming back up to Moelan sur Mer to see the wonderful Church of Saint Mélaine.

We headed back thru Quimperlé back to Vannes to get our son and head home for the day. Vacation as official French time is over, Monday is back to work or the Rentrée the re-entry and it is always busy period trying to catch up on everything. At least my boys are now at working age so no more school hassles. Enjoy your weekend, and until next time at Paris1972-Versailles2003.  Cheers

Port Manec'h  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Pont aven  Nevez  Nevez  Nevez  Nevez Moelan sur Mer Moelan sur Mer Moelan sur Mer Moelan sur Mer Moelan sur Mer Moelan sur Mer Moelan sur Mer Moelan sur Mer

 

 

 

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August 27, 2014

Fougéres in 35 as in Brittany, a castle and more!

Well vacations à la French are coming to an end rather quickly and today has been a cloudy light rainy day ,just time for a ride into Vannes. However, last Monday we were in Fougéres, a wonderful town that speaks of the Bounty of opportunities to visit here if only one has the time. We go by it always on our way to Paris and really never experience other than for an occassional pit stop for a quick bite. This time after spending most of the vacation in the basque country we decided this last week to give a try up close and personal;and it was a dandy.

First,their tourist office is in English here  with a good map of the town and points of attractions; http://www.ot-fougeres.fr/accueil/decouverte_de_fougeres_et_son_pays/carte_de_fougeres

Then we arrive by car of course, on the A84 road that connect Rennes to Caen exit 29 we got to Fougéres and came upon the castle and the free parking at parking du château on your left , there is another one the parking de la Poterne just behind the castle and to your right as you come into the city. The Castle is the first thing you see, and even thus we left it for last working ourselves backward from the high town to it.

You past the wonderful Church of Saint Sulpice, at the street, Enclos Etienne de Fougères, founded in the 11C at the foot of the castle. Taking a quotes from the tourist office who always explained it better, this is the take, rebuilt in the 15C and 16C in a flamboyant Gothic style, completed for the choir in the 18C, St Sulpice church is one of the richest in Brittany. Inside, you will discover the nave preening hull overturned boat, the choir in style rocaille of 18C woodwork Louis XV, the medieval altarpieces in granite, the stained glass of the 16C, works by the master glassmaker fougerais Pierre Symon. On the left of the nave, the altarpiece dedicated to Notre Dame des Marais is one of the rare medieval altarpieces in granite kept in Brittany, with one of the tanners lying in the mortuary chapel.  Outside, the sculptures strike by the imagination of their inspiration. You will find the so-called Gargoyle “the satyr” and the sculpture of the fairy Melusine above the South door of the Church.

We follow that up with the Church of Saint Léonard, Founded in the 12C, rebuilt in the 15C  and 16C, the Church was disoriented and enlarged in the 19C and with a portal and a rosette of six meters in diameter from flamboyant Gothic style. Outside, admire the North facade with balusters and strange gargoyles. The South chapel contains the oldest stained glass (12C) of Brittany and which comes from the Abbey of Saint-Denis near Paris and the assumption an array of Achille Dévéria in 1835. The North Chapel holds an array of Eugène Dévéria (19C). Deveria brothers were friends of Victor Hugo.During the high season, visitors have access to the Bell Tower of the Church where they discover an incredible panorama on ferns, its monuments and the surrounding countryside. The mortuary chapel of the Church houses the oldest stained-glass window preserved in Brittany: the medallion of St. Benedict. Donated by a parishioner after the Revolution, he comes from the Abbey of Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis) and illustrates the history of Saint-Benoît. Left of stained glass, he returned to the monastery where the Abbot hands him his coat of monk; right, a priest visits him. Above, a Jerusalem cross fragment, incomplete, recalls that a jacket was placed under the feet of the donkey. Wonderful indeed.

You come to see the Beffroi or Belfry of the city, off rue Nationale; Symbol of the wealth of trade with distant regions, the first belfry of Britain was erected by the Burghers of the city in 1397. Its architecture is inspired by the Flemish models the Drapers of ferns were discovered during their travels in Flanders. Engraved on the Bell is the inscription: ‘in 1397 the bourges of ferns made me and call me Roland Chapelle ‘. You past by the nice homes of the Place du Marchix where the maison de Savigny is the oldest in the city, 14c/15C. You can see the muséums such as  the Emmanuel dela Villéon, housed in the last wooden house of the 17C in town with about 30 portraits of the artist, born in Fougéres in 1858 and one of the last impressionist painters. He painted Brittany but also love to travel and painted his destinations. Also, the small but educational Museum of the Watch or musée de l’Horlogerie at 37 rue Nationale as well, here it is http://www.ot-fougeres.fr/welcome/things_to_discover_in_fougeres_and_its_surroundings/fougeres_town_map/clock_and_making_workshop_museum

We moved on to walk its wandering street , see the petit train work,and the wonderful Théatre Victor Hugo. We very much enjoy the market or marché, lots of folks full, and goodies like those cheeses we got from maison hautbois stand their home base in the Manche (50) here http://www.specialiste-fromage.fr/plan

We went up the jardin public or public garden, this is probably not mentioned much but for us it was great, climbing to the top of the hill to see the city ,valleys and wonderful statues and streams passing by it, you go up to the haute ville to connect with Church of Saint Leonard here too passing by the Hôtel de Ville. Here is more of it, http://www.ot-fougeres.fr/welcome/things_to_discover_in_fougeres_and_its_surroundings/fougeres_town_map/the_public_garden

Other than the market we stop for sandwiches at one our favorite store in any town La Mie Caline bakery, we got our burger sandwich, caramel chocolate cake, and Orangina soda for 6,20€ , along with the cheese and more bread we had our lunch. We ate at a bench behind the place des fusillés, the shop is here, http://fougeres.lamiecaline.com/fr/

We were now ready to visit the Castle of Fougéres. This is a huge fortified castle, the largest in Europe!! it is impressive. We walked all around it, and then got in by the rue de la Pinterie, This is the official site in English, http://www.chateau-fougeres.com/en.html

Dates are May;June, September 10-19h except Mondays ,july and august 10-19h all days, October to April 10-12h and 14-17h30, except Mondays.Closed Jan 1, May 1, as well as the annual closing in month of January. Admission is 8€ adults there is a family rate of 20€, children Under 6 are free.  There is a bookstore that also serves as the ticket counter . audioguides are available as well as a children trail with Mélusin and Mélusa characters and puzzle books.

You go by this boutique store for the tickets then continue into the St Hilaire tower, into the enceinte or central square of the castle where you can look up all the towers such as Guédameuc, Coigny, Guilbé, Gobelins,Poterne,Mélusine, Surienne, Raoul,Cadran to come back out again.  Between the Poterne and Gobelins towers you can see the old ruins of the keep with traces of the original wooden castle from 1166AD.  Inside the most interesting towers are Mélusine, showing how the castle was built, Surienne, life in the castle, and Raoul, the power of Brittany  with coronation of the Duke Francis II.

As we left the city, we encountered two characters one in a huge statue by rue Rallier (can be seen from rue Nationale) of Général de La Riboisière,  Jean-Ambroise Baston the Riboisiere  was born on 18 August 1759, in Fougères. He was classmate of Napoléon Bonaparte at the artillery School of la Fère, general and baron d’Empire, inspector-general of artillery, and played a decisive role with his guns at Austerlitz, Wagram, Eylau, Danzig, Lena, Smolensk and Borodino, where one of his sons was killed. Shortly after died in Königsberg, Prussia, the General was buried at les Invalides. But his heart rests at the Monthorin Castle in Louvigné du désert. The statue of the General found back in 1999 the place he had left in 1942.

Another one, very interesting for me was of Marquis de la Rouërie, Armand Tuffin. Born at Fougères, in 1751, Armand Tuffin de la Roûerie  is covered with glory in America under the name of Colonel Armand, during the war of independence. He remains a friend of  Gen. Washington. Back in Paris, he was the ardent defender of Breton privileges.  At Saint-Ouen-la-Rouërie, shortly before 1789, he founded the Breton Association who in 1791-1792 prepares an insurrection against the French revolutionary movement. Betrayed by one of his friends, hunted, he died of exhaustion in the castle of Guyomar (côte d’Armor dept 22) on January 30, 1793. He will be beheaded post-mortem. RIP.

It was a nice stop and one that will bring me back with the family again;hope you enjoy it and the photos. Cheers.

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August 26, 2014

Monasterio San Juan de la Peña, Aragon.

As it goes driving around Jaca got a pamphlet from the tourist office about this monastery. So decided to give it a go. What a pleasant surprise and great road warrior ride up the mountains to it. The Monasterio de San Juan de la Peña.

This is their official webpage, http://www.monasteriosanjuan.com/monasterio-san-juan-de-la-pena.php?L=en

We drove from Jaca after coming back from Sabiñanigo, on the N330a. We took going the mountaneous ride (about 1280 meters high)  along the A1205 road that change into A1603 that goes to the monastery head on. We arrive about 10H30 in time to go the new monastery and take the mini bus by 11h30 to the old monastery. We left the place by 18h going the way towards Santa Cruz de los Seros on the A1603 that connects with the N240 that brought us back to Jaca.

This is a monumental place that must be seen advertise spread the word more, can’t believe it is not more known. I take office of the tourist guide who gave an excellent recount of the events here, she was good. Here in the mount of Oroel you find San Juan de la Peña, the monastery is covered by a huge mountain rock and its done since 920AD and known for maintenance of the Christian faith in the Pyrénées at the time of the Muslim occupation, this monastery was chosen as pantheon by the Kings and nobles of Aragón-Navarra. The land was before occupy by hermits who had withdrawn in this hidden corner of the Pyrénées, following the Muslim invasion, around the year 720.  In the 11C, the monastery adopted the Cluniac reform.

The low church or early church who subsequently made office crypt, is one of few Mozarabic buildings remaining in the region. The courts and Pantheon of the Aragonese nobles of the 11C to 14C. Aligned along the left wall décor billets and pearls, burial niches are minted badge, a chrismon or cross in four Escutcheons, emblem of lñigo Arista, one of the founders of the Kingdom of Navarre. On a niche you can see an Angel carrying the soul of the deceased. Opposite a door gives access to the Museum, products of excavations in the monastery. The high Church of the end of the 11C. Part of its single nave in the rock for vault and three apse chapels decorated with arches are engaged in the wall.

The royal Pantheon opens in the left wall. For five centuries the Kings of Aragon and Navarre there were buried. Its current appearance dates from the 18C a la renaissance style. The cloister from the 12C and  it is reached by a Mozarabic door. Inside you can see the paintings of San Cosme and San Dàmian from the 12C, the Superior Church done in 1094AD, and gothic chapel of San Victoriàn.

After fires and hesitudes a construction of the new monastery was begun in the year 1676. Throughout its works that extended until the first years of the 19C the monks counted on the advice of numerous professionals,you can see several Windows on the floor covered with glass floors that shows the work been done in the lower floor off from visitors only can be seen thru the glass. The trace of the building constitutes one of the most perfect and evolved examples of the monastic architecture in the Modern Age, because of its symmetry, because of the multiplication of its cloisters and because of the rational organization that possessed the original project, the one that, regrettably, was never totally carried out.

The facade of the new monastery building is impressive of a barroque style. It was abandoned in 1835 and after much needed renovation it houses Inside the center for interpretation of the monastery of San Juan de la Peña, and a hospederia four stars (lodging hotel), a rest area, cafeteria’restaurant, Spa, salons and free parking. You can contact at gestora.sanjuandelapena@aragon.es or tel +34 974 355 119 fax +34 974 355 089.

Enjoy the pictures and sure its Worth the detour. A magical place indeed.Cheers San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña  San Juan de la Peña

 

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August 26, 2014

Deep pyrénées at Saint Jean Pied-de-Port

We continue our journey South and we enter the domain of the basques as well as their reputed excellent cuisine. As much as driven this is a new area for me. I usually driven by pass this mountaineous area to go by Oloron Sainte Marie or go further into Saint Jean de Luz/Bayonne/Biarritz areas.  We took the plunge into Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port again in the Pyrénées Atlantiques dept 64. We drove from Pau and took the most scenic route ,meaning mountains !!

We set out on the N134 direction Oloron Sainte Marie, and here took the road D919 direction Aramits (yes please the famous member of the 3 muskeeteers is from here ,the film Aramis personage real name  Henri d’Aramitz) so I can say been to see Richelieu, D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos ,and now Aramis. My motto all for one and one for all !! Here we took the road D918 directon Tardets, and then we hit the mountains on the D26 to reach Larrau and then Iraty and its col de Bergagi!!!1327 meters high through the clouds wow!!! on third gear on the D19 now, then again thru huge mountains we hit the road D18 direction Saint-Jean-le-Vieux (here they had a fairs all goodies from the region and it was packed traffic directed to connect with the road D933 that took us in to Saint Jean Pied de Port at last!!! Great ride !!!

We got in thru the citadel ramparts of the old castle of citadelle de Mendiguren that you can meandered through. tourist office is http://www.saintjeanpieddeport-paysbasque-tourisme.com/  and in English at the town site here, http://www.st-jean-pied-de-port.fr/mpi2/en/8/29/58/presentation-du-patrimoine-de-la-ville/presentation

You need to see the Church of the Assomption de la Vierge (that locals still insist is the old name that counts such as Notre-Dame-du-Bout-du-Pont) . The various gates or portes surrounding the old town along rue de la Citadelle such as Porte St Jacques, Notre Dame, Navarre, Spanish , and France.  This street is full of shops and restos very quaint and picturesques. The Bishop’s prison or Maison prison des évêques is nice small museum .

The most impressive for us however, was the food, we are very gourmand and wine lovers so we had our lunch with local products at a butcher, traiteur shop, this is the real thing forget the restaurants. We had our Bayonne ham, Roncal brebis(ewe) (goat) cheese, basque sangria with piment espelettes,and delicious cherry and apple gateau basque or basque cakes  at Charcuterie Basquaise Maison Gastellou on 9 rue d’Espagne. Go for it. We took it and ate at the parc with an overview of the city by Place Floquet. We then came back to buy more to take home ::) http://www.charcuterie-basquaise.com/page/nos-boutiques

We went for the basque macarons at the La Fabrique de Macarons on rue de la Citadelle, yummy for desserts. here they had almonds, chocolate, lemon, noix de coco, almonds with piment d’espelette, flavors that we clean the house. http://www.lafabriquedemacarons.fr/

At the La Caves aux Fromages we clean up on brebis(ewe)  cheeses in different shapes and textures from Ossau-Iraty region simply awesome we eat them at home like bread lol!!! They are at the place des remparts back on the left of the covered market, this is what you would get there the real thing, http://www.fromage-brebis.com/fr/ , and this is from the tourist office http://www.saintjeanpieddeport-paysbasque-tourisme.com/fr/producteurs-degustation/la-cave-aux-fromages-cooperative-laitiere-du-pays-basque#.U_xkK8IcTmI

And to end it all, we stop by the store of Etienne Brana, one of the original irouléguy wine and do not forget the apéritf wine Txapa ::) The the tourist office is here on them http://www.saintjeanpieddeport-paysbasque-tourisme.com/fr/producteurs-degustation/sarl-etienne-brana#.U_xkzsIcTmI  ,and the page for them, which you can also tour their winery, we decided to go for the wine at the store instead on rue de l’église.  http://www.brana.fr/PBSCCatalog.asp?CatID=1399191

Now we were all set to go back on a full day swinging since early hours, we decided to take it easy and go thru more flat terrain now; so we head out of the D933 road direction St Jean le Vieux. Then took the D918 direction Mauléon-Licharre, where there was a nice Church of Saint John the Baptist and a Castle of Andurain.  Continue on fast empty departémental roads we took the D2 direction Navarrenx (which had already visited) , took the D947 direction Orthez and then the rocade road D817 to Pau. And rest !!! but ready for more . Enjoy the photos and Cheers.

Mauleon LIcharre Mauleon LIcharre Mauleon LIcharre Saint Jean le Vieux  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

 

 

August 25, 2014

Jaca in Aragon Spain, we I come again!!!!

Here I come again but this time up close and personal. This is another town in my life that passed by so many times on my route to Madrid of my youth, and really never explored it. Well, its never too late in life ,and to have the opportunity to be closed tented me for the ride with the family to see it up close and personal. It will once again deepens my appreciation for my Spain and closer to a new region of Aragon. This is Jaca, or Jacetania and the road to St James,  and the tourist office ishttp://www.aspejacetania.com/oficina_turismo.php?idio=fr&Id=5  and the tourist section on the city page is   http://www.jaca.es/oficina.html

Most of the best information is in Spanish of course, but rather give you the most coverage on the place, you can later translated online or other places, but the one I give you are the official Spanish sites. Good info.

We got into town by the road N330 coming from France by car, you hit immediately the boulevard facing the Ciudadela or citadel or castle of San Pedro on your right hand side, impressive fortified castle and what a way to enter a city! wow!!! I parked by car by the parking Turismo on Plaza Ripa across is the bus station and to the right is the Cathedral right in city center secured underground parking all day for 6€.

We moved on first by the Citadel like I said its a must to visit, there is a minituare museum of military pièces Inside very nice admission is 7€ adults. Here is the city page on it in Spanish, http://www.jaca.es/turismo/monumentosymuseos/la-ciudadela-de-jaca.html  and a video presentation in English of the museum and ciudadela here http://ciudadelajaca.s3.amazonaws.com/scb/CiudadelaJacaEN.html  (just drag the computer mouse and go in virtually !)

Next you should see the Cathedral of San Pedro or St Peter’s huge richly decorated a marvel and UNESCO heritage site, an absolute must to see, i can’t describe not good for that, but its a must tant pis. 11C jewel of a Cathedral ,construction from 1077AD , as the site says its an open book of architecture from romanesque to renaissance. See my pictures it tells it all.

We had our lunch right across it while seeing the world go by at Plaza de la Catedral,3 at Casa Fau, very nice folks , fast service, good food, veal pork chops, fries, roast beef, sodas, coffees, and a bottle of Enate Crianza red 2008 Somontano local wine delicious. All for 16€ per person ::) nice Spain. no web but the commerce assn of Jaca has their listing ,http://www.acomseja.com/asociado_ficha.php?id_asoc=293

We continue wandering to the side Streets having cheese breads from the local bakeries and did went shopping for sweets to take home at Confiteria/Pasteleria Etcheto , right next to the restaurant above, site, http://www.confiteriaecheto.com/lapasteleria.shtml

We had some goodies for later and wines from Somontano like the Enate again at Bodegas Langa, lots of canned gourmet goodies like ham Teruel, cheeses of Roncal, and wines of Lalanne as well. Great, happy ::) Also, in the same area behind back door of the Cathedral, http://www.bodegaslanga.es/venta-de-vinos-a-granel-jaca-74/

We were ready and charge for more sightseeing, we walked past the episcopal palace or Palacio Episcopal , a site for those seeking the way of Santiago, http://www.jaca.es/turismo/monumentosymuseos/palacio-episcopal.html  We enjoyed the old ruins of the ermita de Sarsa or chapel right at a corner with great views over the mountains , it is the abandon Church of a nearby town moved to Jaca in 1970, http://www.jaca.es/turismo/romanico/ermita-de-sarsa.html

Monasterio de Santa Cruz, where the daughter of a king of Aragon Ramiro I, Sancha was brough over from Santa Cruz de los Seros in 1622, (the best preserve romanesque tomb in Spain) the monastery itself was built from 1555.  The order of Benitas of sisters were in charge of the place. http://www.jaca.es/turismo/romanico/monasterio-de-santa-cruz-monjas-benedictinas.html

The Seminario Diocesano built in 1926 follow a great tradition in the city of diocese life for teaching the gospel since 1610. A great architecture building on the old walls of the citadel, that passes behind it.http://www.jaca.es/turismo/monumentosymuseos/seminario-diocesano.html

There is a street of the old jewish quarters such as Calle de Ferrenal and Calle de Cambras panels show you the history as you walked. The old coins and money of Aragon is shown on the pavement of Calle Mayor with a plaque to explained it in Spanish. There is a beautiful Paseo de la Constitucion with nice children playground, and music kiosk , many libraries or book stores are here and an open air book market with stands as well, http://www.jaca.es/turismo/naturaleza/el-paseo-de-la-constitucion.html . This is the area that takes you to the Puente (bridge) de San Miguel in the back , http://www.jaca.com/puentesanmiguel.htm#.U_sIncIcTmI

In the Paseo you have the Seminario Diocesano on the side and behind it the Ciudadela. You ,also, can see the quaint Torre del Reloj or clock tower built in 1445, it was once used as a prison. Now its a work office of the region of Aragon, but it can be seen Inside too by Calle(street)  Sancho Ramirez, http://www.jaca.com/torredelreloj.htm#.U_sJLsIcTmI

With all there is to see you will have a full day or more, we rather like the wandering of the old Streets and the foods lol! its a state of mind, and so much to be back in Spain.  From here we went to the side at Sabiñanigo on the new A23 and back on the N330a to Jaca, just for the ride on this side, and take a look at city center and breath a bit more of Aragon, Spain. We remain in Spain see next post ::)

Enjoy the pictures. Cheers.

 Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca

 

 

 

 

 

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August 24, 2014

The trip continues Monein, Navarrenx, and Oloron-Sainte-Marie.

Moving right along, on our wonderful escapade to the Pyrénées Atlantiques departément 64 of the Région of Aquitaine, France.  This is the department official tourist site in English http://www.bearn-basquecountry.com/12-8944-Home.php

French is more so here it is, http://www.tourisme64.com/ . We passed the towns of Monein, Navarrenx, and Oloron-Sainte-Marie. Criss crossing the region by the road warrior pedmar10 ::) yours truly.

We set out from our home base in Pau to reach Monein, this is in the heart of Jurançon wine country and their English tourist site is http://www.mysecretholidays.com/  again more in French at http://www.coeurdebearn.com/  We took the rocade de Pau D817 towards Orthez and then cut off at road D2 at Pardies direction Monein right on a traffic circle.  It was a very prosperous city since the times of Viscount Gaston Fébus and only when industralisation came that the city slow down. Today other than the many caves of jurançon wines that we left for other location like Gan , you have the wonderful Church of Saint Girons, built from 1470 taking 70 years to complete! entering the Church is free if you wish to go up to the attic 72 steps,  and see the concave ceilings you pay 5€ adults, it is open for this from April 15 to June 30 and September 15 to October 16 Tuesday, Thursdays, and Fridays at 16h, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 15h and 17h. July 1 to September 15 every day at 11h , 15h and 17h; Sundays and Holidays at 15h and 17h. October 16 to April 14 Wednesdays and Saturdays 16h. You must see it.

We continue to Oloron Sainte Marie along the road D9, and this is a town we passed so many times its unbelievable that we never had stop to really see it. Well better now than later, it is very nice place to visit, again.  This is their tourist office in French but it can be change to English, http://www.tourisme-oloron.com/

At Oloron you have two wonderful Church buildings, first Sainte Marie , a Cathedral from the 12C a UNESCO heritage site and on the way to St James de Compostela. Treasures of metal and wood from the 12C and 13C unique and richly deserving of the status and a must see ; there is even a baby crib from the 13C! you have a room done in the 17C with priest and bishop clothings of the period done in gold and silver! a really place to be. I won’t tell you more , you must come to see it.http://www.tourisme-oloron.com/fr/sites-monuments/cathedrale-sainte-marie-d-oloron-et-tresor-oloron-sainte-marie.html?idProduit=PCUAQU064FS00061&p=2

We moved on to the Church of Notre Dame ,where it has a crypt from the 19C where mass is still held today.  The crypt has now a collection of sacred art. IN its four rooms you have a sacristy, and the crypt of the dead that welcome the families of the decease before their burials. A very serene quiet place and nice to see. http://www.tourisme-oloron.com/fr/sites-monuments/eglise-notre-dame-oloron-sainte-marie.html?idProduit=PCUAQU064FS00062&p=2

The city has a huge public garden or jardin public with many memories of the Fallen in wars all over; a nice covered market or marché couvert for veggies fruits cold cuts goodies, and a wonderful river or gave d’aspe passing thru it . By the Church of Sainte Marie you have a statue and plaque of the storey of the Saint Grat, where it said, the bishop of Oloron died in Jaca (Aragon,Spain) in the 6C and both the Aragonese and Béarnaise argued over keeping the body. To settle this issue they chose a mule at the col de Somport (the mountain passage we took and divide the countries) to see which direction the mule will take as it was blind. The blind mule carry the body all the way to the steps of the Cathedral of Sainte Marie in Oloron Sainte Marie, end of dispute.

One place you should not missed if chocolate lovers is the store of Lindt, the Swiss chocolate house has a factory and store here selling to the public as outlet. WE went for it and got a bag full of great chocolate some not even yet in the stores like the infusion of orange truffé sublime ::) http://www.lindt.fr/swf/fra/en-savoir/factory-shop/  and the tourist office take on it , http://www.tourisme-oloron.com/fr/sites-monuments/maison-des-maitres-chocolatiers-lindt-et-sprungli-oloron-sainte-marie.html?idProduit=PCUAQU064FS0006J&p=2

We hesitate whether to head back to Pau or stop by Navarrenx , a town we read was nice and fortified. As passing thru the area and missing so much before, now here, we did not passed up anything, and decided to stop by. A wonderful decision. Navarrenx is quaint, nice ,old and a very nice intact ramparts system. Meaning we had to take the road D936 and get away from Pau, no problem the road warrior to the rescue.

Navarrenx has the ruins of a citadel and the ramparts still intact. Awesome to climb and great views; http://www.tourisme-bearn-gaves.com/content/navarrenx-bastide-bastionn%C3%A9e-sur-les-chemins-de-compostelle#.U_nLrcIcTmI  ; you see the porte Saint  Antoine from the 16C still there, rigtht over you see the river or Gave d’Oloron a wonderful river with a nice bridge. Historic town since 1180 it got its fortified castle in 1316  by initiative of the viscountess Marguerite Mathilde. The ramparts are 10 meters high and were designed by an italian architect call for the job. The city is on the way of  Puy en Velay, the most frequented to arrive at Santiago de Compostela or St James in Galicia, Spain.  The wonderful Church of Saint Germain, built from 1551 and finished in 1562 is nice. It has a late gothic style and it was use as a protestant cult at first. king Louis XIII  stablished the Catholic cult in 1620 when the whole region was annexed to France.  The bell was added in the 19C. You can see the heads of pilgrims on the pylon columns and a portrait offered by emperor Napoléon III.

One of the curiosities of this city is that it house the Maison du Cigare or the house of tabacco, where they are handrolled and sold along the old tradition of Cuba. However, its the only cigar done with French Tobacco so uniquely French and not bad from what I remember of my grandfather ::) http://www.cigare-navarre.com/index%202.htm  the tourist office has more on it, and a nice video, http://www.tourisme-bearn-gaves.com/bearn-des-gaves/visitez-la-maison-du-cigare-navarrenx#.U_nPScIcTmI

Very nice indeed! and oh yes we ate but we carry our picnic home made and stop along the rivers banks for eating, family style and better products purchase in the local markets with wines. Of course, we had those chocolates of Lindt for dessert lol!!! The country way to travel. Enjoy the trip as we did and the photos. Cheers and happy Sunday.

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