Posts tagged ‘Bretagne’

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.

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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 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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August 23, 2014

More of the Pyrénées Atlantiques in Aquitaine!

Here we go continuing our whirlwind tour of Aquitaine and especially the Basque/Béarn  region we got out this time from Orthez in direction Saint Palais, and later Sauveterre de Béarn. Wonderful country ride on départementales roads mostly the D933.

The tourist office here are more in French, http://www.tourisme-bearn-gaves.com/content/sauveterre-de-b%C3%A9arn-village-fortifi%C3%A9-face-aux-pyr%C3%A9n%C3%A9es#.U_imEMIcTmI

http://www.saintpalais-tourisme.com/ , and the city hall or government building as mairie or hotel de ville are http://www.bearn-gaves.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=228&Itemid=87  ,and http://www.saint-palais.fr/tourisme-patrimoine-environnement/

The smaller but lively town of Saint Palais was a surprise for us, we saw it as a end of the line town and back, but instead we spent more time there walking all over, and seeing the wonderful Fronton of pelote basque , the regional sport. The wonderful covered market now ,also, use for events and concerts, the nice river Bidouze.

Out main goal was to visit Sauveterre de Béarn, a town on the St James route, full of colorful history of Béarn and Gaston Fébus. It was a hit.  There is a wonderful feodal castle (14C) of Gaston here with the great pont vieux or légende,  and the gave d’Oloron or river of Oloron, with beautiful natural views and great panels mentioning the wonderful old history of Gaston Fébus. The story goes that the pont de la Légende (there were two Pont de la Légende and Pont de la Réclusy) link the right back of the gave d’Oloron. However in 1732 a huge flooding took away part of this bridge. It now remains but half of it, both Gaston VII Moncade (1229-1290) , and Gaston Fébus (1349-1391)  fortified this bridge and added a tower with an adjoining stairs (still there) , rooms and levy bridge and the entry to this the old Hôpital Saint-Jacques des pèlerins de Compostelle (St James hospital of the pilgrims of Compostela).

You, also, must see the église Saint André or Church St Andrews,  a wonderful stop indeed. The Church from the 12C to 13C is fortified in the romanesque gothic style. On its tympan or front porch you see represented Saint Mathieu (as a  Young men), Saint Marc (as a lion), Saint Luke (as a bull), and Saint Jean (John) (as an eagle). On the South side of the Church you will see a door reserve to the cagots, a category in the population deem of the lowest levels in the social scale but admitted to the Christian community.  Some tourist historical information on it , It has a length of 35 meters, a width of 20 meters  and at the top of its spire, it reaches the 27 meters. It has 3 naves (the central nave has a height of 13 meters), an apse and two apsidal chapels, a transept with 2 beautiful roses. Its Bell Tower, its cover with roof of 4 sides, and on each of its 4 sides, you can see 3 bays encrusted, the Central column surmounted by a pierced tympanum of an oculi. The porch and sacristy are more recent and dates from the end of the 19C In the mandorla, there is a Christ in Majesty. The entrance portal has only a single arching, but notice the side framing (7 columns from each side surmounted by capitals decorated with vegetative motifs in general, some of them presenting figures. A really nice Church with great views of the valley and gave d’Oloron river below it.  Not much is written on it on the tourist sites but it should be and it is the main thing to see in Sauveterre de Béarn, here is a bit more on it in French, http://pratique.tourisme64.com/activite/?engine=act&acttype=culture&ville=26252&lat=43.3995&lon=-0.939722&zoom=13&scale=0.028237512026542788&submit=

We were way into the country and to go back will be too long without eating so we decided to have lunch here at the Auberge du Cheval Blanc in the place Royale (tel +33 (0) 5 59 67  36 52 of Sauveterre de Béarn. It was a pleasant choice, friendly service, fast ,and funny exchanges with the servers. The food was done on site nothing special just home made,  entrée of salad of chévre chaud (hot goat cheese), beef and cheddar cheese lasagna in a terrecotta hollow dish very original and delicious, créme brulée for dessert, with water , bread , all for 12,80€ per person and a glass of rosé wine from the Jurançon area for 2,80€. good deal. from tourist site, http://pratique.tourisme64.com/restaurant/sauveterre-de-bearn/auberge-du-cheval-blanc/RESAQU064FS001RA.html

I hope you are enjoying reading and seeing photos of these family trips, that will become so rich and dear for us. Thanks for reading and enjoy the weekend.

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August 22, 2014

The Caves de Jurançon at Gan

Well I am into wines big time for many years too many since working in liquor stores in the USA as a Young men….. Now in France, this is heavens,and passing thru the magical region of Aquitaine and its great Pyrénées Atlantique dept 64 its the mother of all wine régions.

We knew there was an open house on August 14th at Gan with the Caves des Jurançon a wine we had drank before many times but never at the spot so took a ride here and spend the day great folks,great location, and great wines. The Caves de Jurançon is at the town of Gan just South of Pau on the N134 and follow direction Gan Centre, you will hit the caves.http://www.cavedejurancon.com/

We arrive early but enough to have them all set up and ready to go. Ample free parking as the Caves occupies spaces on both sides of  Avenue Henri IV in Gan. We went to the main tent right in front of the receiving of grapes store. There was music groups playing French and Basque/Béarnaise music, a beret throwing contest (beret is the hat of the basque) , the store was fully open and staff ready to go.

We went Inside with a guide Julien , who was fantastic, we exchange lots of questions and he was right on right away no hesitation real pro.  The building is where they have the process of receiving grapes from the coopératives that are members of the cave, 660 hectares are own by them and about 40 is own direct by the Cave.  The grapes are separated along the two main grapes gros manseng and petit manseng for the whites dry and moelloux or sweet sort of they go from dry to late vendage very sweet, they also do rosé and red wines from coopératives in other regions of Aquitaine. They are blend it base on the master winemaker decision base on quality.

We then, took the ride on a petit train or little train into the back of the building where huge aluminum tanks stored the juice for fermetation and treatment. And we ran across with the little train to see the building across the street where they do the filling, labeling ,and packaging of the wines with special computised machines including a robot that does 6000 bottles per hour. The place hold about 80 full time employees and the automation has not decrease the number. They ship 10% international and 30% to individuals another 30% to small stores mom and pop places and 30% to big distribution.

The process is very computerized and very clean, all the personnel spoked with us very nicely, and very willing to explain their processes. Once the trip was done we headed back to the main Platform where grapes are received for a free tastings of all their lineup of wines!! Of course, we tasted them all!!! It was great the lady was very nice and we were serve sausages,and cheese to eat along the way.  You were given a list with prices and another pamphlet with the wines and matching suggestions.

After all this process and wandering about the place we headed for the boutique store for purchases. We already had our price list completed with the wines we wanted, handed it over and they do all the packaging for you. We purchase two cases of different wines for my cellar ::) and we did said goodbye to all, a wonderful day the best so far and very friendly folks: makes you come back for more….

For lunch we stay there, one of the bottles we purchase we ask to be open and they did for us, went across to a bakery pastry store Boulangerie Chuchi, wonderful regional products like ham and chorizos yummy with great tarte of fruits, etc there is a bench outside by the road and had our picnic sort of right on the spot with a bottle of Oh Biarnesa rosé cold from their store at the cave!

We left back to Pau our base very satisfy and highly recommending this place for a visit. Of course , the wines I drink them all year lol! Cheers !

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August 10, 2014

My travels in the Morbihan VII

Another nice sunny day in the Morbihan, and family last day to go back nord. We came back to prepare for our family vacation in the pyrénées area starting tomorrow on the road warrior trails of France.

We probably repeated photos and trails this day as we were showing our family some of the areas we like here. Today , we went to La Trinitaine store in St Philibert on road D28 off the N165 ,this is outlet store huge with all the deco ,drinks and souvenirs of Brittany, as the factory is right behind it. It is in a small shopping center where the store is it, with bakery next door and ice creams, fruit stand from the Drome and galettes resto; all in one stop before heading for the beaches.

We love it , of course, and took time to buy some goodies to eat tonite and others for the road tomorrow. Here is the store ,http://www.latrinitaine.com/magasins/saint-philibert/

From here we went down to La Trinité-sur-Mer a gorgeous harbor with plenty of sailing , motor boats and restos all alond the harbor. There is nice shopping, woodend boat builder and museum such as http://www.la-trinite-sur-mer.fr/en/en/fiche_contact.html?webcontact=849  ,and nice old church of St Joseph as the first chapel was built in 1682. In 1894, the height of the belfry was increased by more than 10 meters, thus serving as a landmark to sailors. The chapel was enlarged in 1935, thus becoming a true Church. http://www.morbihan.com/eglise-saint-joseph/la-trinite-sur-mer/tabid/7430/offreid/bf770cb5-2d1e-4ff6-95be-03d2b2e4324e/detail-visites.aspx

the gracious fishing market or halle aux poissons off the harbor fresh catch of the day, open 7/7 here, http://www.ot-trinite-sur-mer.fr/fr/384.aspx  , and of course the tourist office and the wonderful looks at the harbor. We had our hot dogs, galettes and ciders here right next to the fishing market in a food truck , unique, for a first time.

We ,then took a quick tour of Locmariaquer to see the monoliths and the museum , we were here many times and the visitors wanted to continue to Sainte Anne d’Auray so we left quickly, however, the museum is good to see for a first timer at least; http://locmariaquer.monuments-nationaux.fr/en/

We arrive at Sainte Anne d’Auray by the old C2 communal road that comes right  facing the basilica of Sainte Anne, imposing as well; we used to live about 6 kms from here now it is about 18. Still impressive. There were getting ready for festivities of Yves Nicolazic (the one who saw the appearance of Ste Anne first) running thru August 15 and then on the 23/24 the world festival of galettes the goodies from all over the world competition. http://galettesdumonde.free.fr/ and the feast here , http://www.morbihan.com/tabid/7418/OffreId/3a49f39f-5129-4798-a3e6-fb97c5b9b4d0/Default.aspx

We had the view of the service Inside the basilica and follow the priest into the cloister, the beautiful room, nice cloister, great free museum expo. the monument to the Fallen of Brittany, the places where Pope John Paul II came to speak to the faithful, and the stair of prayers and celebration, the beautiful gardens, and the tranquil peace coming here brings to all, a must to visit while in the area, they all enjoy it very much. http://www.sainteanne-sanctuaire.com/?langue=en

more on tourism here, http://auray-tourism.com/home/our-towns-and-villages/sainte-anne-d-auray.aspx  , and the city tourist info in English, http://sainte-anne-auray.net/spip.php?rubrique32

We came home and say goodbye as the family were heading also to pack and go back nord tomorrow morning we are now packing ::) the rest of the family, so we head tomorrow first to Pau and then beyond into Spain. Until then have a wonderful week. Cheers.

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August 9, 2014

Auray and the district harbor of Saint Goustan.

Well nice weather ,hot and plenty of tourist from all over the world is the mood here in my coastal breton lands. We are getting ready to go out in our vacation to the pyrénées and before visit by the wife’s brother and family from the ch’tis nord !

We went out to Saint Goustan where we used to lived in Auray before moving to inland Morbihan. Still we are about 15 kms from Saint Goustan or about 9 miles.  Our town tourist page in English, http://www.auray-tourism.com/  and more on Saint Goustan from tourist office of Brittany/Bretagne. http://www.brittanytourism.com/discover-brittany/quintessential-brittany/saint-goustan

The area is gorgeous , just at the point of heading into the Gulf of Morbihan and UNESCO Heritage site islands in the gulf. here in French, http://www.golfedumorbihan.fr/   and English from tourist office , http://www.brittanytourism.com/discover-brittany/islands-and-headlands/the-gulf-of-Morbihan

What can I say more, it is sublime like an islands in heavens. the only drawback is the climate for most of the year is windy ,cold and rainy, but around june to september very places can compete.

We went out with the family and the visiting family to our favorite galette place at Saint Goustan , a memorable historical and gorgeous harbor to eat at Créperie Saint Sauveur, http://www.morbihan.com/creperie-st-sauveur/auray/tabid/7419/offreid/2b3adb0f-aa80-478a-82d4-64ec8f2841a9/detail-restaurants.aspx

We had our usual galette madrilene, savoyards, goat cheese salads, etc with coco nuts ,banana splits ices and plenty of bottles of the local Coat-Albret brut cider all for about 18 euros each great place, great food, good friends and reasonable prices, heavens. The visitors like it too….

As the brother and family were trying out our Interceltique festival in Lorient, all about the Celtic people from France, UK, and Spain with lots of celebration superb but we have been already. http://www.festival-interceltique.com/

We headed back to Vannes to do some last minute shopping for our trip and some Tools for the house like a lawnmower machine! and then headed back to Saint Goustan for ice creams at the L’Igloo !!! superb ice cream I had the dark chocolate large cone with five flavors from strawberry ,coconut, mousse de chocolat, chocolate raspberry, and banana wow for 5,70 euros ;great you should try it big cone!  Over 150 flavors and branch in Carnac Plage/beach too which we of course have tried too !! http://www.ot-carnac.fr/infos-pratiques/marches-et-commerces/commerces/549692-glacier-ligloo  as not available in the auray area directory, give you the area on the city mayor’s office here http://www.auray.fr/auray/architecture/saint-goustan/

We then did our usual walk around this gorgeous place taking some pictures don’t even know if repeated but so what they are always wonderful. Enjoy the Morbihan, and do try Saint Goustan.  Cheers

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August 3, 2014

Peninsula of Conleau, Vannes

Well its time so much to see and not posting since november 2011 on conleau the peninsula off Vannes. This is ideal for families,barbecue, and just soak in the tranquil life away from the city and crowds.

We had family visitors from the nord ,but they are off to the interceltique festival in Lorient, and we done that so we went to the Conleau for a relaxing moment of our own.

The Conleau peninsula is a former island of the Gulf of Morbihan, connected to the Mainland by a dike road from 1879. Of modest dimensions (about 500 meters in length for an average width of 100 m, it lies at the confluence of the rivers Vincin and Marle, the two main streams of Vannes. The peninsula is separated from the municipality of Arradon by the Vincin and the municipality of Séné by the Marle.  In 1878 the résidents decided to give a different look at the area so they created  a pool of seawater surrounded by cabins of bath, chalets, a restaurant and a grand hotel (now Best Western Le Roof). As early as 1879, a dike-road connects the island to the Mainland, promoting the development of the small seaside resort.
The colorful Guinguette créperie, the Corlazo cafe facing the pool and the cafe de conleau as well as restaurant le Roof in the Best Western hotel provides all the eating/drinking you need. There are public bathroom and change rooms available.  More info from the tourist office of Vannes, http://en.tourisme-vannes.com/search/node/conleau
For the camping cars aficionado there is a great facility there  http://en.tourisme-vannes.com/where-stay/camper-van-sites/111756-camping-car-park , and for  families there is also, a camping le conleau, with great facilities here ,http://www.flowercampings.com/en/campsite-brittany/camping-le-conleau/book/
nice site I follow on beaches of France, here is the pool of sea water at Conleau ,http://www.plages.tv/detail/plage-piscine-de-conleau-vannes-56000
In addition to the pictures I took, enjoy a full day with the family here. cheers
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