October 5, 2014

We will always have Concarneau ::)

One of the advantanges of living in France is that no matter where you are there is always something wonderfully beautiful to visit. I am Lucky to have found Brittany, and my regular weekends with the family is to go into these wonderful places even just for a day trip. This Saturday, we went to  Concarneau, recently name by France 3 television of the top preferred monuments to visit by the French people. It is about 89 kms from my house or about 55 miles in the neighbor department of Finistére no 29.

The tourist office is here ,http://www.tourismeconcarneau.fr/ and the mayor’s office tourist section is here http://www.concarneau.fr/ville/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=162&Itemid=979&lang=fr

the city has a huge amount of parking and a nice train station with regular bus services as well, even on a Saturday their passing was often and regular. We park by the tourist office to be central and there is additional parking in front of the entrance to the ville close.  The train line to Paris Montparnasse is at nearby Rospoden with direct bus service to city center Concarneau.

In town you have the covered market or halles a site not to missed. Plenty of hôtels and restos all along the bay makes it nice for choices. But speaking of choices, the main attraction here is the ville close.  This was built in the end of the middle ages and subsequent rénovations and additions throughtout to 1889.

Enclosed town or ville close  by excellence, the maritime city established on l´ile of Conq: or “the large shell”  was popular in the middle ages as it sits on the shortest  itinerary between Quimper and Pont-Aven. Occupied many times by the English, she submits to Du Guesclin in 1373Vauban made modernize the fortifications of the city between 1692 and 1699.

Facing the land, towers of artillery or Major (to the North) and the Gouverneur or Governor (in the South) bordering the front entrance and the ravelin are reinforced by a liner granite several metres thick in the 16C and the 17C. To stagger the defense-in-depth, Vauban adapts a new gate with drawbridge and ditch behind the halfpipe. Side sea, Vauban endows the enclosure of ducking doorways to the places best facing the entry pass: the Tower of iron horse (tour du fer à cheval) and facing the inner harbour: the new Tower or Neuve.   In July 1695, Vauban himself (he is still Commander of upper and lower Brittany!) was deliver to Concarneau at the Château du Taureau of ammunition to put it in a State of defence. The parapets are raised and drilled slot of shooting while a powder magazine and a new barracks are built (1837). The island of Conq becomes at the end of the 19C a fueling station for the French mobile torpedo boats.

Archaeological excavations undertaken these past 30 years helped to rediscover a typology of embrasures (slits, slits-gunships, gunships, ducking doorways, niches of shooting etc.), gates and posterns… that to better understand the history of this city.  Some of the most interesting aspects of these fortifications are here:

Les Dames tronconic defensive walls impeding the access to the towers from outside. The corps de garde semi circular square to avoid getting to the bridge done in 1694, and the entry point to the ville close today too. The beffroi or belltower done in 1906 houses the clock visible from the city and its emblem. It has walls or courtines of granite with a thickness of 2,5 meters to 3 meters all along the city. The tour du Major, done in 1691 also called tour des munitions or ammunitations surrounded by figurines of breton origins and now shown totaly after excavations around the museum of fishing. The tour du gouverneur, the tour de la Fortune also call tour du masson, the origins remains a mystery, its one of the oldest part of the city. The tour Neuve or tour du moulin à poudré from the 19C, the Tour du Vin, or tour de la porte du vin, cylindrical form and not walled done around the 15C; Tour du passage also known as tour de  Chambertin, Istim or Larrons dates from the 15C. The tour aux Chiens, also known as Tour du port or tour de l’essence, from the 16C. The tour le Fer à Cheval, also known as tour Eperon, it is from the 16C serve as battery canons in the 19C, it was found remains of an older tower from the 13C, it had three levels with the bottom one having a chimney and two Windows; The tour du Maure or moors, also known as tour du connétable done in 1753, still today not found why call like this.

You have a well protected harbor and a huge basin on the other side of the ville close with lovely quaints boats and ships. You can take the bac or taxi boat between the ville close and the passage district 90 cents for 2 minutes of traverse, the smallest boat tour on record. The site from the city in French is here, http://www.concarneau.fr/ville/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=161&Itemid=977&lang=fr . Not to missed the wonderul musée de la pêche or fishing museum with wonderful collection of boat models in scale and paintings sea fishing items, lovely  and only 4,50€  on the main street of the ville close rue de Vauban, site here http://www.musee-peche.fr/

You have the colorful shopping of the area best fish, sardines especially a major port. Conserverie Courtin is lovely and well stock with delicious stuff, right on the ville close too, http://www.conserverie-courtin.com/ ; the wonderful chocolates and caramels of Georges Larnicol , http://www.chocolaterielarnicol.fr/content/12-nos-boutiques; the wonderful bargains at Marine & Co all made in Brittany, fashion a la Breton. http://www.pagesmode.com/boutique/sellier-concarneau great polos sweaters, rainjackets at good prices here and all locally made.

Come to see the yeararound festivities of the ville close, this time from Deizekilibre group, chants and performers all thru the town. http://www.antopya.com/deizekilibre/ see the photos on street performers. or the nice promenades at sea from the Vedettes de l’Odet, info here , http://www.vedettes-odet.com/index.php/en/overview-glenan-islands .

We did not stay at the hotel des Grand Voyageurs as we can do it easily in one day, however, it is a nice place to stay across from Ville Close main entrance and parking just in front at pl du 8 mai 1945.  We did try their restaurant and the service was impeccably great, fast friendly ,and good. The price a menu du jour for 13,80€ including a galette la speciale with ham, goat cheese, kir breton for apero (cider and white wine), a cup of cider brut, coffee expresso, dessert of crêpe chocolate or caramel, and delicious, a find. http://www.hotel-concarneau.com/

Not to forget a delicious homemade ice cream at 4 rue Vauban ville close by FK. Four scoops 4,50€.

We took the road D783 to Quimperlé,Pont Aven, etc glorious trip back home passing the Britt brewery, lol!! at Trégunc , if you want to pick up some on way home, local beer Breton, http://www.britt.fr/ and the day was another success !!! Enjoy Brittany! Cheers

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October 4, 2014

My aller retour à Paris or goings and comings!!!

Usually do not like to mix business and pleasure but sometimes I get the itch to tell my routine. The routine is wonderful as it may allow me to see great places and some very dear often. So on my last trip I decided to tell a bit about my rounds… First, it was raining hard towards Concarneau today but once there it was clear and nice, town pack after been name to the top 10 list of the preferred monuments of the French by a Survey on France 3 television here. Life goes on as usually great in our life’s journey. I was even able to locate a lost cousin in Chicago, IL USA!!! now the family is located all over our wonderful world.

I need to go to Paris for a couple of days on a business meeting , something I do almost every week but hardly ever tell. I love my car always a road warrior and on these business trips they send me by train yikes!!! never got used to them at all. Even the metro do not like, prefer to walk or the bus in town. However, business obliges and as all is reimburse by the company have really no choice.

The company books the train or plane, and the hotel in advance direct billing , I do not need to advance anything. If a car rental is needed once in a blue moon, it is also direct billing. Therefore, I have to go on public transport when on business. Even if I have try to negotiate going by car lol!!!

I have my TGV 1er Class electronic ticket loaded into my SNCF Grand Voyageur frequent traveler card (compliment of all those business trips) so is paperless.

My nearest station from home is out of Auray, it is small but nice size station train and bus, and counters and restaurant, relay store, avis car rentals, and hotel and resto across the street. I love to come early and see the train, TGV and TER Bretagne. Killing time is at the bar resto Le Tire Bouchon (corkscrew) where a nice Grimbergen blonde will always do wonders to the waiting time. And some nice chats with fellow travelers. Sometimes, If I go with collègues than we go out of Vannes, a bigger station with paid parking that is not to my liking;prefer Auray . The station at Auray in English SNCF site is http://www.gares-en-mouvement.com/en/frxuy/votre-gare/

The time is usually around 3h20 to 3h40 to Paris Montparnasse. The stops are always Vannes and Rennes, and sometimes we do stop at Redon, Vitré, Le Mans ,and Laval. We arrive in Paris by the berth 1 thru 7 always, this time it was berth 3. the Gare site in English is at http://www.gares-en-mouvement.com/en/frpmo/votre-gare/

I indulge a bit there sometimes stopping for a refreshing beer at brasserie Océane on the ile de France lines level almost leaving the station. This time my hotel happens to be across the square at 59 blvd du Montparnasse Hôtel Terminus Montparnasse. http://www.terminusmontparnasse.com/

As one of the bad points of business travel is that you do not choose your hotel, so this one was convenient and full of restos/bar around, some of them my favorites when used to have an office nearby in rue de depart. However, this one was very Noisy ,even the water flushes were heard and showers, the breakfast limited in a small room, and of course the room small with Windows given to a tree full courtyard that you could see the kitchen from your window! Not the type of hotel I would recommend personally or with families. Like i said, the only good point is that it was across from the Montparnasse transport hub and right between resto Montparnasse 1900 and La Marine, institutions in the area.

I need it to be by the tour Eiffel side,as my business office for meetings is nearby and its always a good opportunity to see the steel lady. Great views on the window of it and the Invalides dome as well. Getting there I take the metro line 6 to Bir Hakeim as it is an above ground train ride most of the way.  line 6 pdf file here http://www.ratp.fr/informer/pdf/orienter/f_plan.php?nompdf=m6&loc=reseaux

The return is always sad , au revoir Paris encore un fois. Saying goodbye to Paris again…. TGV Montparnasse thru Rennes, and Vannes this time to Auray where my car is waiting for the trip home of 20 minutes.  The lunches on business are done in the top floor of our building club house with views of the roofstops of Paris (en route for nomination of UNESCO world heritage site) with grand style and wines so can’t complaint here is done French class style. Even if missed going out to the wonderful restos of Paris.

And another trip ,sometimes for a day or two ,sometimes for 3 ,and less times for a week at a time. Until next time, mid month passing by CDG on my way to Prague. Time goes nicer when you are having fun of living in la belle France. Cheers.

Auray Auray Auray Auray Auray Auray Auray Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris



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September 28, 2014

Some news from France XCII

And here we go again, its the Fall season ,the leaves are changing and the days are mix, cold early mornings late night and warm daytime. lows of 7C and highs of 22C, but sunny. The company convention over and now work begins with travel to far distant lands next month but first its Paris again and Montparnasse as well as Tour Eiffel areas. October seems like a good month ::)

Now what is to do  to do to do, well good bargains and great brands can be found in Paris friperies ( used clothing), those wonderful stores selling good bargains if you know what are looking for.  The favorites over the years well,

Free’p’Star, mondays to Fridays from 11h to 21h and Saturdays and Sundays from 12h to 21h at  8 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie,  75004, tel +33 01 42 76 03 72;
By Flowers, Mondays 14h30 to 20h30, Tuesdays to Saturdays 11h to 20h30 ,and Sundays  14h30 to 20h30.
86 rue des martyrs,  75018

The Kilo Shop , Mondays to Saturdays from 11h to 21h at two locations, Marais :  69-71 rue de la Verrerie
75004, and Saint Germain : 125 boulevard Saint Germain,75006

The two locations of Guerrisol at 19 avenue de Clichy  75018,from 10h to 19h30. tel +33 01 40 08 03 00, and at  96 Boulevard de Barbes, 75018,Marcadet from 10h to20h.Tel +33 01 53 28 10 70

Rag et Vertiges , open Mondays to Saturdays from  10h to 20h , and Sundays  12h to 20h at 83 (Rag) and 85 (Vertiges) rue Saint Martin 75004 tel +33 01 48 84 34 64, and Rag, 81 rue Saint Honoré Louvre Rivoli
75001, tel +33 01 40 28 48 44

Fripes Ketchup at 8 rue Dancourt – 75018, tel +33  01 42 51 96 33;  contact@fripesketchup.com
La jolie garde-robe at  15 rue des Commines – 75003; Tuesdays to Saturdays from   13h-19h30 or by appointments. Tel +33 0142721390
Mam’zelle Swing at  35 rue du Roi de Sicile
 75004 open Mondays to Saturdays 14h to 19h, Tél. +33 01 48 87 04 06, email  contact@mamzelle-swing.com
Iglaïne at 12 Rue de la Grande Truanderie 75001  Métro : Etienne Marcel, open Mondays to Saturdays  11h to 19h,  Tél +33 01 42 36 19 91, webpage www.iglaine.parisluxx.biz
And been Parisien, if you want to make love, these are the best spots ::) so romantic lol!!! in Order, Parc Monceau, Jardin des Tuileries, le square de la place Dauphine,le jardin du musée Rodin,and jardin Tino Rossi along the quais of the Seine. Voilà and don’t say I told you so…
And something wonderful along the same lines … The Institut des Lettres et Manuscrits is showcasing for the first time in France, one of the works the most explain in the French literature : le rouleau autographe des 120 journées de Sodome ou l’École du libertinage. Something like the autography roll of 120 days of Sodome or the school of gaité, freedom of acts. It was written in  1785!!!,  on a thin paper roll by the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) while he was held prisioner in the Bastille. The document survived the taking of the fortress and on this year of its bicentanial of the death of the writer Sade ,it is shown to the public. From now to January 18 2015. Open every day except Mondays from 10h-19h, Thursdays open to 21h30; admission is 5€.  21 rue de l’Université, 75007. Metro Solferino or Rue du Bac.  Tel +33; official webpage here http://institutdeslettresetmanuscrits.fr/
And the Venerable institution of the Jardin des Plantes of Paris is celebrating the 220 years of the petting zoo, or ménagerie with exhibits and events thru January 5, 2015. From its beginning in 1794, the historic zoo has welcome many animals that some became famous. The Muséum d’Histoire naturelle or the museum of National History puts out the lights today with the program expo of Animaux célèbres de la Ménagerie, or famous animals of the zoo.  They will be exposed with a series of drawings, newspaper clips, post cards, photos and models. Open every day except Tuesdays and May 1 from 10h-17h. In summer it is open until  18h the Saturdays and Sundays, admission is 3€.  Metro Censier, and Dauberton line 7, webpage http://www.mnhn.fr/fr
The Centre Georges Pompidou de Paris will have an exposition from October 8 to January 26 2015 for the first time in Europe of the work dedicated to  Frank Gehry, one of the greatest figures of contemporary architecture and the most renown of the 20C. webpage http://www.centrepompidou.fr/cpv/ressource.action?param.id=FR_R-ac43f8319473f92ee2a5d5835a87277&param.idSource=FR_E-ac43f8319473f92ee2a5d5835a87277
Musée de l’Armée de Paris, will have an exposition from October 15 to January 25 2015 on the look from the front in WWI so that the contemporary see the reaction from those already in the front, how they saw the war, what have they have shown and why? Interesting retrospective.  programming still in French at Invalides, http://www.musee-armee.fr/programmation/expositions/detail/vu-du-frontu-du-front-u-du-frontu-du-front-u-du-frontu-du-frontu-du-frontu-du-front-representer-la.html
And during the whole month of October, at the Galleria Sylvan Gilles de Maria, at  51-53 rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île ,which is the famous Hôtel Chenizot, outside the business name is L’île aux images, there will be an exhibition on the île Saint Louis! http://www.lileauximages.com/index.php?page=propos_about
And last but not least, having worked in one and know them all, what are the best bars in the palace hôtels of Paris? Well as you might know the Crillon and the Ritz are still Under renovation opening in 2015. For the rest in competition this is the list of Le Figaro,in order:
The bar 228 of Meurice hotel, bar of Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme, bar of Four Seasons George V, bar long of Royal Manceau, bar of the Bristol, bar of Plaza Athénée, bar of Shangri-là, bar 8 of Mandarin Oriental, and bar Kléber of Peninsula hotel. I would add the Bar Hemingway of the Lutétia,,bar bulles of the Grand Intercontinental,and Bar Tuileries Westin (old Intercontinental);my old job. Salut; and enjoy your Sunday.
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 ::)










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


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


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.

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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



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

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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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