June 1, 2020

Gander, Canada!!

Another one out of the old cabinet, vault whatever, this is way from the beginning of visiting France with my now dear lafe wife Martine from Florida. Always looking for a inexpensive way to travel with the whole family and do so every year since 1990 to 2002 when finally came to live permanently in France in 2003 as already French citizens. Memories forever!! Hope you like the story as we do.

We were registered at the French consulate in Miami as French citizens and partipated in its activities thru Miami Accueil. One of the niceties of belonging is that French families living there (about 8K in all of Florida) looking for ways to visit the country the least expensive possible as the goings and comings were frequent. One of the ideas was to charter a flight by the group and passed on the good prices to us. So therefore we got on Rich International airlines (now gone) and took a charter flight to Paris Orly airport at less than 400 dollars per person!!! The trick it landed for refueling at Gander, Canada. Sot here is the story of this spot on earth, I can call it I WAS HERE!

By the way for any French reader of this post, the Miami Accueil is still there! Here is the webpage: Miami Accueil Miami Florida

Gander is a town located in the northeast of the island of Newfoundland in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador,Canada; about 40 km south of Gander Bay.  The territory of the city is home to the Gander International Airport, a former major stopover for the refueling of transatlantic flights and still houses a military air base, as well as an air control center, attached to the Gander Oceanic Control Center. The activity of the city is very linked to this airport which was created in the 1930s .

Some titbits of information gathered from the town’s webpage which I like as history is good to know are

Nearly all of Gander’s streets are named for famous aviators, from the Wright brothers, Alcock and Brown, Lindbergh and Earhart, to more modern pioneers like Canadian astronauts Marc Garneau, Roberta Bondar and Chris Hadfield. It hosted early experiments in aerial refuelling in the late 1930s. The decidedly low-tech system of the day required some brave soul to lean out of the target plane with a large hook and try to snag a fuel line dangling from a tanker flying in close formation overhead. In the early years of the supersonic transport Concorde, while most nations still refused to allow the futuristic craft into their airspace, Gander successfully lobbied to host cold-weather avionics testing. Two prototypes were based at Gander International two years before Concorde’s first commercial flight!.  The runways at Gander International Airport routinely handle the world’s largest, fastest and heaviest aircraft, up to and including the Russian Antonov An-225. Due to its strategic location and runway capacity, Gander was a designated alternate landing site for NASA’s Space Shuttle program! At the time of its completion in 1938, the then ‘Newfoundland Airport’ was the largest airfield on the planet, with four huge paved runways covering a combined area of one square mile.

Gander is the site of North America’s only Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery as well as a nice museum would love to visit the North Atlantic Aviation Museum: where you learn all about Gander’s strategic role in the world of aviation and its important role in WWII and beyond. More here: North Atlantic Aviation Museum

The Gander International Airport Authority Inc. is the official authority of the airport main office at 1000 James Boulevard P.O. Box 400 Gander, NL, Canada.  According to their site there are only four airlines such as Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing Airlines and Pal Airlines. More info here: Gander International Airport

GAnder

Gander International Airport (IATA: YQX, ICAO: CYQX) is the official name of the airport, and is operated by the Gander International Airport Authority. Canadian Forces Base Gander shares the airfield but is a separate entity from the airport. Construction of the airport began in 1936 and it was opened in 1938. Within a few years it had four runways and was the largest airport in the world. Its official name until 1949 was Newfoundland Airport.

Gander

The Canadian federal government changed the name to Gander Airport after Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949. It opened the current passenger terminal in 1959. On 16 September 1945 the first transatlantic proving flight, a Pan Am (I worked for them in Miami!) DC-4, departed Gander for Shannon in western Ireland On 24 October 1945, the first scheduled commercial flight, an American (my school chairman was co founder in 1934) Overseas Airlines DC-4, passed through Gander. Gander is near the great circle route between North America and Europe. Starting in the 1940s it was a refueling stop for transatlantic flights and continued in this role through the early 1960s and in some cases into the 1990s.

Gander

With the advent of jets with longer range in the 1960s, most flights no longer needed to refuel. Gander has decreased in importance, but it remains the home of Gander Control, one of the two air traffic control centrers (the other being Shanwick Oceanic Control in western Ireland) which direct the high-level airways of the North Atlantic. Most aircraft travelling to and from Europe or North America must talk to at least one of these air traffic controls.

Gander

During the Cold War, Gander was notable for the number of persons from the former Warsaw Pact (I was part of it young boy) nations who defected there including Soviet chess player and pianist Igor Vasilyevich Ivanov, Cuban Olympic swimmer Rafael Polinario and the Vietnamese woman famously photographed as a naked girl fleeing a napalmed village, Phan Thi Kim Phuc. It was one of the few refueling points where airplanes could stop en route from Eastern Europe or the Soviet Union to Cuba.

On September 11, 2001, with United States airspace closed because of the terrorist attacks, Gander International played host to 38 airliners, as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon. Gander International received more flights than any other Canadian airport involved in the operation apart from Halifax.

Officials at Gander International Airport have stated that the future for the airport is grim unless the Canadian Federal government provides funding to cover costs. Over 50% of all aircraft operating from the air field are military, and do not pay landing fees The terminal building built in the 1950s and noted for its modernist design and heritage architecture still includes many of its original furnishings and fixtures. In 2017, the airport announced the existing terminal would instead be renovated and downsized .

A BBC Video showing Gander passed world leaders and celebraties of our world interesting me think: BBC video on people faces at Gander

The city of Gander on its history here: City of Gander on its history

And there you go folks ,another corner of the world yours truly has partake; never amazes me our wonderful world. We find ways where there is none and continue to enjoy travel as a free men, Gander is an example of it thru the years and hosting a family wishing to reach France inexpensively and together. Gander is for the memories, never forgotten. The pictures are old from paper photos maybe blurry but worth a million showing my family in flight. Hope you enjoy the post on Gander, Newfoundland, Canada!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

June 1, 2020

The Virgin Islands, US and UK!

Well going back deep into my vault, times require me to put in my blog my life’s history and so I am doing just that. Many posts many spots on our wonderful Earth over the years and still keep going strong like duracell commercial lol! Well here I am going down to my roots, the Caribbean , that wonderful sea. After all nothing comes close for a water, beach activity. And I have been to plenty everywhere.

I have mentioned in a previous post about my sailing adventures in the Caribbean area last done in my blog was March 2019. However, the islands are more than sailings so here is a bit more on the US and British Virgin Islands, the one for the thousand virgins!

Saint-Thomas is an island which constitutes with those of Saint John and Sainte-Croix the Virgin Islands of the United States, it is also one of the three districts of this territory. The island has an area of 81 km2. The main city is Charlotte-Amélie, capital of the archipelago. Saint-Thomas was once one of the haunts of privateers, pirates and buccaneers and it is a customs and tax free zone which makes it one of the tax havens of the United States

The Dutch West India Company established a post on St. Thomas in 1657. The Danes conquered the island in 1666, and in 1672 established their control over the whole island through the Danish West India Company and Guinea. In 1685, the Brandenburg African company took control of the slave trade to St. Thomas, and rented the island to the Danes, and for some time the island became the largest slave market in the world. The island was finally bought in 1917 by the Americans from Denmark. A great deal again.

The capital city is Charlotte Amalie founded in 1666 as Taphus (meaning “beer house”]). In 1691, the town was renamed to Charlotte Amalie after Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel queen consort to King Christian V of Denmark-Norway.  When American tourists were barred from Cuba in 1960, some began visiting Charlotte Amalie instead. As an unincorporated territory of the United States, it’s been a haven for mainland United States citizens seeking luxury vacations or a second home in the Caribbean.

St Thomas

I happened to spent time here on my crossing between the US and UK Virgin Islands and connecting flights to the USA. Still many memories and recall the name very well of the Galleon House Hotel very high overlooking the harbor and Main Street. It has a sweet water pool with a terrace! . You are within 5 minutes on foot of the market. The hotel house was built in 1852. It has AC rooms with all the trimming and a wonderful breakfast on the veranda . The sights of the Fort Christian is only about 500 meters and the airport  Cyril E. King is only about 10 minutes by car. Love the experience still. More info here. Galleon House Hotel

St Thomas

Another nice sides to see here are the Blackbeard castle, the wonderful beach area of Magens Bay, and the Coral World Ocean Park.

The tourist office to the US Virgin Islands :Visit US Virgin Islands at St Thomas

Saint Thomas things to do and seeVisit US Virgin Island St Thomas things to do

Now always my final destination were the British Virgin Islands and their wonderful beaches and sailing ambiance.

Tortola

The British Virgin Islands are an archipelago of the Caribbean and an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. The British Virgin Islands are a tax haven. The Virgin Islands were discovered by Christopher Columbus during his second trip in 1493, who would have named the islands in honor of Saint Ursula, known in the legend of the eleven thousand virgins. Abandoned by the Spaniards who preferred the wealthier regions, the archipelago became the ideal haunt of the pirates English, French and Dutch buccaneers who plied the Caribbean Sea to carry out their raids against the Spanish Armada. Colonized in 1648 by the Dutch and annexed by the English in 1672,

The British Virgin Islands are a group of around fifty islands that are part of the West Indies, of which only 16 are inhabited. The main island, Tortola, is separated from Saint John, in the Virgin Islands of the United States, by only 2.3 km. The main inhabited islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, Peter Island and Salt Island . Road Town, the territorial capital is located on Tortola. Glad to write I have been to all the previously name islands.!

Tortola  largest and most populated of the four main Islands, is a lush mountainous Island which was formed by volcanic activity. Crowning Tortola is the tallest peak, Sage Mountain National Park, at 1716 feet (great views over the bay it can be climbed!), which exhibits the characteristics of a tropical rain forest. Beef Island, an island in the British Virgin Island, is located to the east of Tortola, and the two islands are connected by the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. Beef Island is the site of the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport the main commercial airport that serves Tortola and the rest of the British Virgin Islands. Adjacent to it is sailboat-filled Trellis Bay, a unique cultural village with craft shops and restaurants, awesome indeed at least from I remember.

Tortola

Tortola

Virgin Gorda is the third largest island of the four main islands The capital of Virgin Gorda is Spanish Town.  The Baths  (heavens for me) is located on the southern end of Virgin Gorda. This tourist attraction shows evidence of the island’s volcanic origins as huge granite boulders lie in piles on the beach, forming scenic grottoes that are open to the sea (and you can swim inside of them and between them!)  The Baths, a geological wonder comprised of awe-inspiring granite boulders, which form sheltered sea pools on the beach’s edge. The protected area also includes Devil’s Bay, which can be reached from The Baths by a series of ladders scaling the boulders ,yes indeed a wonderful thing to do!. Just north of The Baths, Spring Bay is reached by a separate road and includes a lovely white sand beach but smallish.

tortola

Named Anegada or the “Drowned Land” by the Spanish, Anegada is the only coral island in the Virgin Islands’ volcanic chain. Anegada is known for miles of white sand beaches and the 29 km (18 miles) long Horseshoe Reef, the largest barrier coral reef in the Caribbean, and the fourth largest on earth.  Indeed this is awesome and a must visit.

tortola

Jost Van Dyke is the smallest of the four main islands of the British Virgin Islands. Jost Van Dyke, named after a famous Dutch pirate, has been a sailor’s mecca for years. Like many of the neighbouring islands, it is volcanic in origin and mountainous. Captain ‘Joost van Dyk’ was a 17C Dutch pirate who used its harbours as a safe hideout and to attack ships passing North of the island on way to Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, and Cuba. Great Harbour, the main port of entry, is always bobbing with sailboats and sailors coming ashore to the charming West Indian village that lines the beach with gift shops and restaurants. Since the late 1960s, Foxy’s Bar in Great Harbor has been a popular stop for Caribbean boaters. Indeed Foxy’s is the talk of the islands and a must for a cold beer and great storytelling for all.

tortola

And one not mention in tourist brochures because it is private but you can go as part of a group cruising trip as I was, singles and it was party time galore! Peter Island is a 720 hectare (1,779 acre)  private island located in the British Virgin Islands. It is about 5 miles (8 km) south-west  from Road Town, Tortola.  The island was named after Pieter Adriensen nicknamed The Commander who was the brother of  Abraham Adriensen  Patron of Tortola under the Dutch West India Company in the early 17C. Pieter Adriensen and Joos van Dyk built a fort and slave pens at Great Harbour on Peter Island to facilitate privateering and the nascent trade in slaves from Angola. Right now there is a coconut trees shaded semicircular beach which is heavens on earth.  A world  famoust resort is right on it, more here fyi ; Peter Island Resort

Tortola

Hope you enjoy the tour with me in my memory lane of younger wild days, and still fond of  a lot. Never the youth out of me; hope you too can enjoy this heavens on earth, the US and UK Virgin Islands. All pictures copies of paper photos.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

May 31, 2020

The villas of Dinard!

And why not come back to my beloved Bretagne, and take you to a place written before but figure on the emblematic villas of Dinard need to tell you more. Hope you enjoy this architectural delight tour!

Dinard is gorgeous and the best for us were the beaches ! Dinard means elevated hill and in Breton it is Dinarzh.  It is a famous seaside resort, particularly with the British and the Americans, for its Belle Époque villas and the British Film Festival which has been held there every year since the 1990s. It is considered with its classified villas, its casino and its cultural events as one of the most prestigious seaside resorts in France.

The seaside resort of Dinard is located on the Emerald Coast, in dept 35 Ille et Vilaine, near the border with Côtes-d’Armor dept 22 and the town of Saint-Malo separated by the Rance. It is the Rance tidal power plant, located in the town of La Richardais,  a technological feat of the 1960s and a tourist hotspot, which connects Dinard and Saint-Malo.   Dinard brings together the aristocracy, political figures and intellectuals from all over the continent who no longer stay solely in their private villas and frequent the most luxurious hotels: Albert I, Raymond Poincaré, Agatha Christie, Victor Hugo, Édouard VII, George V , Winston Churchill, Judith Gautier, Jacqueline Kennedy, Lawrence of Arabia (in his childhood), Edmond Rostand, and Paul Valéry all spent holidays in Dinard. Pablo Picasso painted his series of paintings Les Baigneuses à Dinard, or the swimmers in Dinard , inspired by the less and less hidden nudity of bathers.

Dinard is the first seaside resort in France to safeguard its architectural heritage from the end of the 19C by classifying 407 villas and buildings. The Dinard villas have made the resort’s reputation and constitute a considerable architectural heritage. If most of them are concentrated in the luxury housing district of the Malouine. Most of the villas and missing buildings that were destroyed in the 1970s and 1980s. At that time, Dinard fell into oblivion and poorly survived the flight of the wealthy tourists of yesteryear..The houses if we can them that , more like mansions or small castles of the belle époque period are superb; can’t wait to get my hand on one of them ::).

And this is the topic of this post. On the villas or mansions of Dinard, splendid architectural history with many great names over the  years and a superb ride by car or bike along the ocean’s edge. Recommended.  Could not take pictures of all of them but did some just for a sampler it is all superbe!!!

You have wonderful villa reine Hortense, (queen of Holland) who vacationed here built by the Russian lover prince Nicolas Vlassov who was passionate of the life of the mother of Napoléon III.  The mansion continue too numerous all wonderful such as the villa Cézembre with a stair bringing you down to the beach and the villa Greystones of art deco style. Here more villas such as Saint Germain built in 1870, the pont d’emeraude with great views of the ocean and the villa La Garde tudor style construction , up on blvd Féart and see the villa Montplaisir very so British style.

The famous villa at the Pointe de la Malouine, belonging to the businessman François Pinault, The villa Greystones was built from 1938 on a front plot sea from the tip of Malouine. It is of granite and concrete vessel overhanging the sea, the house, covered with a roof terrace and extended by a cantilevered rotunda, seems cut to face the elements, like the military works built in front of it, while drawing from the formal repertoire of 18C follies, an intimate and comfortable haven on a human scale. It is accompanied by a Mediterranean-style garden, made up of a succession of terraces connected by stairs and winding alleys, and decorated with sculptures by Alfred Janniot.

dinard

Villa Ker Alice, known as Villa Ker Kenta, 1 rue Roger Vercel. Resort house built around 1914 on the beach of Saint-Enogat. Large house, with one square floor and two attic floors. The floors are separated by a horizontal cement strip. Complex type plan with recessed façades. Overhanging roof with underarms and half rump forming gable on the facade. The entrance to the courtyard is sheltered by a wooden awning. A bow window upstairs once enlarged a room with a sea view. Imposing cement terrace with balustrade railings.

dinard

Villa Les Embruns 5 rue Roger Vercel .Beautiful and large family Villa of 200 m2.  This old 19C forge with the purest Anglo-Norman spirit , and a  large garden of 450 m2, the beach is only 10 mins walk. It was lived by writer Roger Vercel Prix Goncourt 1934. His memories of war inspired him to write some of his first books such as Notre Père Trajan, Capitaine Conan, and Léna, but it was the maritime world that was at the heart of his work. In 1934, Roger Vercel meets Louis Malbert, captain of the tug Iroise, who inspires him to write the novel Remorques; also the title of the film taken from this novel by Jean Grémillon in 1941 in which the role of Captain Malbert is held by Jean Gabin. Au Large de l’Eden won him the Prix du Comité Fémina France-Amérique in 1932. He won the Goncourt Prize in 1934 for Capitaine Conan, a partially autobiographical novel.

dinard

The Villa st Germain at the Plage de l’Ecluse; originally called villa Mortemart built by François de Rochechouart, viscount of Mortemart, between 1868 and 1874. It is from the Pointe du Malouine, in a dominant position, that you will discover the breathtaking views that Villa St Germain offers. The park of more than one hectare is fully enclosed and has two outbuildings. A pretty chapel on the water will invite you to calm and contemplation. Located in the city center, everything is done on foot, a private staircase will give you access to the lock beach directly.

dinard

The Villa known as Port-Riou, also known as Château de Port-Riou, 24 boulevard de la Mer . Residence built on the cliff on the edge of Port-Riou beach between 1879 and 1882. Implantation on the seafront on a large plot delimited by a buttress terrace. Logis with stepped gables. West facade with half-staircase staircase covered with a polygonal roof. Facade is wooden gallery. A water tower, located east of the plot on a promontory, was powered by a wind energy pump located to the west opposite the house. Outdoor stairs to the beach.

dinard

The  Chalet des Bruyères, avenue Cézembre, Pointe de la Malouine I took the picture but not much on it, only that it is in many sites as a rental property .Most of the above are also available for rental if you can pay the price.

dinard

Some webpages as usual by me to help you plan your trip here and it is recommended are

The city of Dinard on its heritage and history: City of Dinard on its heritage and history

The Dinard tourist office there is at blvd Férat in city center: Tourist office of Dinard

Dinard Ille et Vilaine dept 35  tourist office: Dept 35 ille et vilaine tourist office on Dinard

Region of Brittany tourist office on DinardRegion of Brittany tourist office on Dinard

And there you go folks, you are all set for a wonderful visit to the Villas of Dinard, and its beaches and all of it. A great spot up the road from me and loving it in Bretagne. Enjoy the tour…

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

May 31, 2020

Quiberon and the Côte Sauvage!!!

And this is my backyard for the last several years of our living in the Morbihan 56 of Bretagne. Sure, there has been many other trips and posts, but this is our home away from home. This is the presqu’ïle de Quiberon or peninsula and all the way to the town of Quiberon. Of course, I have written several posts on it but let me tell you a bit more as we can again travel.

quiberon

The Côte Sauvage or wild coast extends on the western part of the peninsula from the village of Portivy, in Saint-Pierre-Quiberon, to Port Maria, in Quiberon. All wonderful. I will be brief as plenty told in previous posts and just wanted to give you new photos after the confinement from the wuhan virus.

The Côte Sauvage, facing west, extends over 8 km from Château Turpault to Pointe du Percho. Owned by the Conservatoire du littoral, the Côte Sauvage is constantly harassed by the sea and the winds. Even in calm weather, the waves crash noisily on the steep cliffs, causing spurts of foam. Erosion has shaped countless coves, reefs, caves and arches which are only revealed at low tide. The cliffs are covered with a cushion of short grass where small pink flowers bloom: the carnation and the maritime armory.

quiberon

To discover the Côte Sauvage from the Chateau Turpault, take the coastal road dotted with numerous parking areas and follow the coastal path. You will discover the old Vivier, the Trou du souffleur, the Port Kerné fountain, the Pointe de Kervihan where the fortifications of a Neolithic camp, Port Bara and its cave visible at low tide, Port Blanc beach and its arch , the Pointe du Percho dominated by the remains of a customs post, and finally the Pointe de Beg en Aud and its Venetian camp.

quiberon

The côte sauvage on Quiberon; from the tourist office of the Bay of Quiberon in English: Tourist office Bay of Quiberon on the wild coast

The côte sauvage on Saint Pierre de Quiberon in English: Tourist office of Bay of Quiberon on the wild coast by St Pierre de Quiberon

Ok folks this is the ride optimum wonderful wild and beautiful with the blue vast Atlantic ocean on your right hand side going to the tip of Quiberon Grande Plage from the mainland coming from home (if coming from Vannes take the N165 direction Brest and get off at exit/sortie 33 for Quiberon) on the road D768 direction Quiberon. Passing Plouharnel you entered into the isthmus passing on your right the musem of the war of the west (chouans) and the railroad track of the tire-bouchon train (from Auray open in summer with risk of been stop altogether). You continue on the D768 and passing several earlier beaches such as Mané and Mentor; you passed the Fort de Penthiévre (see posts) on your right hand side and the ocean beaches. Awesome. You take right by Portivy and follow signs for the Côte Sauvage. Here you can see the Port de Portivy but very narrow streets if not used to driving skip and continue direction Côte Sauvage now on the road D186 A. By Porz Stang the coastal ride really begins. You passed by the memorial to lifesavers at sea and the sights of the cliffs begins. Several parking or stops are available along the road to view the magnificent views of the cliffs. You can even have a wonderful seafood meal at the Les Viviers restaurant our favoirte we stopped there often for oysters and muscadet white wine. And you continue along the wild coast or Côte Sauvage, the splendid wonderful ride along the edge of the Atlantic ocean. You see the approach to the Castle of Turpault a private property and the entry into Quiberon, and then the quai de Houat with pleasure boats and the SNSM lifesavers house that protect you from casualties at sea and the fisherman cooperative ,than the Port Maria beach and the gare maritime or cruisers passenger terminal. Here you stopped or go around Port Maria as the road to the Grande Plage or big beach is off from vehicular traffic. You have reach the fabled big beach , Grande Plage, wonderful and sublime our ending point always.

quiberon

quiberon

quiberon

quiberon

Sometimes we go on to Pointe de Conquel and its beach or continue to the beach of Porigo before reaching the wonderful harbor or port Haliguen and its wonderful pleasure marina and its lighthouse. This is the presqu’ïle de Quiberon at its best; a wonderful ride and of course plenty of walks in heavens. Hope you enjoy the ride and do visit it is recommended by yours truly.

quiberon

The tourist office of Bay de Quiberon on QuiberonTourist office of Bay of Quiberon on Quiberon

The tourist office of Brittany on QuiberonTourist office of Brittany on Quiberon

The conservatory of the littoral that is the management of the wild coast or Côte Sauvage in French: Conservatory of the LIttoral on the Cote Sauvage

Of course, we saw the beach and there was already many there, and we took advantage of our must on the beach, the ice creams at the Quai des Glaces right on the Grande Plage. We took our norma walk for the first time in 2 months on the Esplanade de Hoche. This feels good at last at Quiberon

We even took a ride into Port Haliguen even with a lot of road construction we manage to reach it for a closer look. This is all very nice and we are glad to be back,; looking forward to more time here in the future. Maybe a meeting point for the readers of my blog ::) The presqu’ïle de Quiberon or peninsula is unique and we encourage you to see it and enjoy it as we do; remember Quiberon.

And ,remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

May 31, 2020

Saint Pierre de Quiberon!!

Now let’s swing you back to my department 56 Morbihan in my beautiful Bretagne. This town I passed several times and is part of the wonderful Presqu’ïle de Quiberon peninsula, heavens on the beach/coast side and only 40 minutes from my house. Obviously I have written plenty in my blog on it but it really needs more, so much beauty to see around here , all natural and the car is king. Let me tell you a bit on Saint Pierre de Quiberon.

Saint-Pierre-Quiberon is located on the south coast of the Morbihan department 56 and the Brittany region. Saint-Pierre-Quiberon constitutes the northern part of the Quiberon peninsula, the town of Quiberon occupying the southern part. Saint-Pierre-Quiberon became a full-fledged town in 1856, under the name of Saint-Pierre, and took its current name in 1962  The town has 13 beaches! accessible to swimmers, ten beaches on the bay side .Of course our favorites are in Penthièvre   bay side and Penthièvre ocean side, On the west coast of the peninsula, the Côte Sauvage, renowned and beautiful driving or biking along clifs and the wide blue ocean in front of you on 6.7 km of road and the property of the coastal conservatory. Most of the famous sites on the Côte Sauvage, such as the Port-Blanc arch, are located in the town of Saint-Pierre-Quiberon.

Saint pierre de quiberon

However, Penthièvre is the northernmost village of Saint-Pierre-Quiberon. It is bounded to the north by the Quiberon national forest located in the town limits of Plouharnel, to the east by Quiberon bay, to the west by the ocean, and to the south by the village of Kerhostin. It is in Penthièvre that the isthmus is located which forms the entrance to the Quiberon peninsula. I have written on these places in my blog this is additional material and photos.

The Fort of Penthièvre is a fortified structure placed at the entrance to the Quiberon peninsula commands access to the level of the isthmus at its narrowest point. Following the siege of Lorient and the looting of the Quiberon peninsula in 1746, the construction of a new defensive structure was decided in 1747 as part of a more general framework for strengthening the defenses of the southern Brittany coast. This effort was undertaken by the governor of Brittany at the time, Louis Jean Marie de Bourbon, Duke of Penthièvre, who will give it his name . The fort is built on an escarpment calle La Palice at narrowest spot on the peninsula.

saint pierre de quiberon

In 1795, the Royalists landed on the peninsula coming from England (the immigrant Bretons) and besieged the fort on June 27, renamed Fort Sans-Culotte, which eventually fell after four days, its defenders being short of food. Eventually 400 out of the 700 that the fort counted , then agreed to enlist in the Catholic and Royal army. Signaling the end of the expedition, it will be stopped by General Hoche’s troops (the pacifiers of the uprisings against the French revolution). In 1800, at the instigation of the First Consul Napoleon, and Armand de Marescot, the fort was reinforced and modernized while France had just defeated the Second Coalition. During WWII, the Nazis forces integrated this fort into their Atlantic Wall. It also served as a prison and place of execution at the end of the war: 59 resistance fighters died there between April and July 1944, including 50 on July 13, 1944. A monument was erected on the site behind the fort in their memory. The 3rd Marine Infantry Regiment of Vannes has used it as a training base since 1969.

Saint Pierre Quiberon

The fort is off limits the monument can be visited. Here is the Min of Defense of France on the fort in French: Ministry of Defense of France on Fort Penthievre

Memorial webpage on the resistance executed there and behind there is the cave where they were killed with a stone memorial , more in French here: Memorial on the executed of 1940 1944 at Ponthiévre

The tourist office of Bay of Quiberon on the Fort Penthiévre  in French (more info): Tourist office Bay of Quiberon on the Fort

Another great moment to be here and we love it are the beaches. This is a laidback beach town as you can recall any and I grew up on one and lived next to them for many years of my life, I still enjoy going to them if for different reasons.

Penthièvre Beach in Saint-Pierre-de-Quiberon is the first beach on the Quiberon peninsula. It extends on the continent at the level of the town of Plouharnel, making it the largest beach on the peninsula with several km of white sand. It is bordered by dunes call the falaise or cliff. You can practice sand yachting, kitesurfing and surfing. Please note, you are on the west coast, the ocean can be rough with the east side on the bay more protected. To get to this beach, take the D768 road (straight down from me)  towards Quiberon. At the entrance to the peninsula, at the La Penthièvre sign, there is a car park on the left near the level crossing. The beach is on the right ,you have to cross the road. Note that dogs on a leash have been tolerated on this beach are allowed ,the only one on the Quiberon peninsula.

saint pierre de quiberon

saint pierre de quiberon

saint pierre de quiberon

The plages tv webpage that has been my favorite for many years on beach information in France in English: Beaches of Penthievre

Tourist office of Brittany on the beach at Penthiévre in English: Tourist office of Brittany on Penthiévre beach

And there you go we live in heavens in land and so close to the marvelous Breton coast filled with hundreds if not thousands of beaches and all fun related to the sea. And do you know the Bretons are the best marines! Hope you enjoy the Saint Pierre de Quiberon area.

And , remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

May 30, 2020

Verneuil sur Seine!

So now let me tackle another nostalgic spot for me and my family in our belle France. Nothing fancy not a tourist destination but oh so dear to us. Part of living the good life in the countryside of the Yvelines. Let me tell you the story of Verneuil sur Seine!

The story goes that we first came into France to live permanently as French citizens, we had to find schools for the boys as well as all. Been that they came after ,me in August and ,they in December 2003   (due to my job), the school year was started and no place was found in Versailles. So we end up so they speed up quickly the French the mother has taught them started them in elementary school in Verneuil sur Seine and this is the story of the town. Forever in our hearts!

Verneuil-sur-Seine is a town in the Yvelines dept 78 of the ïle de France region. It is about 17 km from Saint Germain en Laye and 28 km from Versailles. It is, also about 40 km from Paris. Verneuil-sur-Seine benefits from very exceptional rail and road connections to Paris. As well as a privileged geographical location between the banks of the Seine river, the Verneuil ponds, the Verneuil forest massif and the agricultural lands of the Groux plateau. The name is explained from 2 Gallic words: “vernos” which designates the verne and “ialos” which means the clearing, the cleared place and finally, the village. Verneuil is, literally, the village built with the vernes so they say.

A bit of history I like

The discovery of sarcophagi suggests that the territory of Verneuil-sur-Seine was inhabited in the Merovingian period and several charters attest that the existence of the village dates back to a remote period of the Middle Ages. In the 12C, the land of Verneuil was on the list of possessions for the house of Montmorency. It then passed into the Narbonne family, then in the 15C, to Mary Bureau who sold the fiefs, the lands and the lordships of Verneuil and Vernouillet with their memberships and their dependencies, to Estienne Alleaume, squire and lord of La Motte, in 1517.  Later, Count Hervé de Tocqueville, loving wealth, honors and power, lived in Verneuil as a great lord, surrounded by a large family and receiving a host of guests, including Chateaubriand. In 1804, the Count de Toqueville accepted from the Emperor Napoléon I , whom he did not hesitate to call the usurper the day after his fall, the functions of mayor of Verneuil, which he exercised until 1814.

We came up from Versailles on Rue Neuve Notre Dame to rue des reservoirs or D186 same road but now call bd du Roi into Place de la Loi and left on bd Saint Antoine   past Parly II shopping center and Arboretum (see posts) continue same road now call Rue de Versailles then loop road into the A13 autoroute de Normandie direction Rouen connect with the D113 at Orgeval and past La Maison Blanche turn right into the D154 road into Verneuil sur Seine, by BNP Paribas bank turn left into rue de Bazincourt and into the collége Jean Zay. Hopefully I taugh my Dad how to get there and he did the roundtrip with my Mom.. Always appreciated this big help!

And who was Jean Zay ? He was born August 6, 1904 in Orléans and died assassinated by the French Militia collaborators (nazis) on June 20, 1944 in Molles (Allier),he was a French lawyer and politician. He was Under-Secretary of State for the Presidency of the Council, Minister of National Education and Fine Arts, Member of Parliament for Loiret and General Councilor. The school here that bears his name and my boys went webpage in French here: Collége Jean Zay Verneuil sur Seine

verneuil sur seine

In other transport modes:

The city of Verneuil sur Seine has two Transilien-train stations operated by the SNCF: I passed by it sometimes on the Vernouillet-Verneuil station, actually located at theentrance to the city on the edge of the town of Vernouillet. It is located next to the Notre-Dame Les Oiseaux school (old castle). The less frequented by all is the Clairières de Verneuil train station, located at the other side of the city on the edge of the Verneuil forest. These two stations are served by line J of the Paris-Saint-Lazare network. This line travels Paris-Saint-Lazare <> Mantes-la-Jolie by Poissy or Houilles-Carrières. You can ,also, reach here on the RER A from Paris Gare de Lyon – Poissy: get off at Poissy, take the regular train towards Mantes and get off at Vernouillet / Verneuil station or Clairières de Verneuil station.  Next to the Vernouillet-Verneuil train station is the bus station . Plenty of bus service by the Transdev group, which operates 18 lines, but never taken it here. There is the L’Express A14 highway bus that passes by Verneuil and goes to La Défense in 30 minutes claimed but never taken it. . The main road here is the D154 linking Orgeval to Les Mureaux, parallel to the A13 autoroute de Normandie.  

Some of the things to see here are

Saint-Martin’s Church The church dates from the 12C and the 13C was rebuilt several times. The basement of the church has a much older history than its walls suggest; the foundation of the church actually dates back to the first Middle Ages, the Carolingian era (9-10C). Indeed, a rectangular church, with an apse with rounded angles and a flat apse, could be identified under the choir of the current church. No act indicates the precise date of the foundation of the Saint-Martin Church of Verneuil, but from 1790, the parish is attached to the diocese of Versailles.

There is a beautiful 12C castle built by the Montmorency family, and modified since. The castle preserves, before the 16C, its cellars, its dovecote and its vaulted outbuildings. In 1773, the Renaissance style manor house was decorated with facades in the fashion of the time with false windows, pediments, and garlands. The castle has been uninhabited for 15 years when its new owners arrived in late August-early September 1929. They are nuns from the Notre Dame congregation, a congregation born in 1597 from the intuition of Alix Le Clerc and Pierre Fourier. The sisters founded the Notre Dame des Oiseaux school. In the 18C, the castle underwent profound modifications. The execution of the Countess de Senozan, Anne Nicole de Lamoignon, owner of the land and the lordship since 1780 and sister of Malesherbes,   gave rise to the confiscation of her property, the prison of Port-Royal and guillotined in May 1794 , and the castle remained in receivership until 1802, then fell, in 1807, to Louise Magdeleine Le Peletier-Rosanbo, wife of Count Hervé de Tocqueville. It is today the Notre Dame des Oiseaux private school.

There is a huge acitivities park with plenty of fields and lake and fun for the entire family we encounted a couple of times, this is great in Summer for the whole family , call the Ïle de Loisirs du Val de Seine; more info in French here: http://valdeseine.iledeloisirs.fr/

Verneuil sur seine

Small town but pack a load of the famous such as François-René de Chateaubriand , French romantic writer and politician, lived a few years in Verneuil and wrote several chapters of his Memoirs from beyond the grave in the park of the castle, today a private educational institution Notre –Dame des Oiseaux. Alexis de Tocqueville , French political thinker, historian and writer, lived part of his childhood at the castle of Verneuil-sur-Seine. His father, Hervé Clérel de Tocqueville, prefect and peer of France, was mayor of the town from 1804 to 1814. Émile Zola , naturalist writer. When he lived in the neighboring town of Médan, in the 1890s, Zola regularly came by bicycle to Verneuil to visit his mistress, Jeanne Rozerot and his two children, Denise and Jacques. And Dwight D. Eisenhower , one of the main figures in the liberation of France during WWII. The Manoir du Champclos, in Verneuil, was occupied by the nazis until the arrival of the Americans in 1945. General Eisenhower, then a 5-star general of the American army and commander-in-chief of the Allied forces in Europe and his officers dine there and rest there for a few hours.

The city of  Verneuil sur Seine on its history and heritage in French : City of Verneuil sur Seine on its heritage and history

And there you go another soft spot in my belle France for me and so sad not enough pictures to show as on those days, we were just living here and no internet guru no blog no need for pictures as have post cards collection of over 4K from 76 countries. The photos and posts came much later; so bear with me on this one.

Nevertheless, hope you enjoy the reading and do stop by for a bit of à la Française real living surrounded by architecture and history as usual in my belle France. Enjoy Verneuil sur Seine in the Yvelines!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

May 30, 2020

Some news from France, CCCVI

Well is about time we get back to normal and me too with my series of Some news from France! We are slowly but surely coming out with a lot more loosening it up on June 2nd and then further opening by June 22nd. Stay tune , France is back!

Update no time to wait for another Some news from France; Info on Notre Dame Cathedral!  The Parvis or  square of Notre-Dame reopened today Sunday, Pentecost Day. The dismantling of the scaffolding 10,000 bent and welded metal tubes – which have already started in their preparatory phase, will enter from June 8 “in the last phase”!!! Notre-Dame is the emblem of Paris, more than the Eiffel Tower, and is the zero point in Paris to measure distances in France!. Should a chapel be installed on the forecourt before 2024? Mgr Michel Aupetit indicated that there would be “probably something more modest”, the rector evoking a possible “representation of the Virgin” in this place where millions of visitors pass each year.

“Phase 2” of the deconfinement was launched Thursday by the government. If on the whole territory, the “indicators are green”, Ile-de-France is one of the three regions classified in orange zone (with Mayotte and Guyana). This Saturday the gates open on all of the 400 or so parks and gardens in the city, the Parisians returned to the Gardens of Bagatelles, coulee vert, petite ceinture, Arboretum, small squares etc. The playgrounds will be gradually reopened. Individual sports activities are authorized if you are a fan of tai chi or yoga, prohibited if it is a football tournament or any other team sport.

The symbols of a French art of living, the terraces of cafes and restaurants will once again be able to welcome customers from June 2 in Ile-de-France. But those who lack it feel aggrieved. Reduction of tables need 60% minimum filled if not they can close before the end of the year for 40% of restaurant owners according to the chefs. This really makes us smile! Phase 3 of the deconfinement will be tackled on June 22, when it is likely that cafes and restaurants can also welcome us inside their establishments. It remains to be seen under what conditions.

It’s official. The Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann (9éme) reopen today Saturday. A relief for both employees and management after two and a half months of total shutdown. Victory for the legendary brand on Boulevard Haussmann: Au Printemps was able to reopen this past Thursday, May 28.

 Two emblematic sites in the history and cultural life of Val-d’Oise 95 will reopen their doors this weekend. In Vexin, the latter have already been present in numbers for two weeks. They will be able to visit the fascinating castle of La Roche-Guyon again from Saturday. The fruit garden will only reopen on June 6. A specific itinerary at Royaumont abbey also comes out of sleep. monument built in the 13C in Asnières-sur-Oise. And it also offers a renewed vision of the abbey.

So sad to read the Fête des Loges in Saint-Germain-en-Laye which has been officially canceled. A wonderful fair in the woods or forest of Saint Germain en Laye we went couple times wonderful memories. The Ferme de Gally of Saint-Cyr-l’Ecole is as we have never seen it. Empty of people!! . Or almost. Reopened since May 13, the famous educational farm had to adapt to the health crisis. The number of visitors is limited and the public is necessarily less numerous than usual to wander in its meadows, around the animal enclosures.

The company that handle the pedal boat rides on the Seine river, the Société Marin d’Eau Douce announce the opening of its facility in Meaux (Seine-et-Marne 77) since May 21. Parisians need to take advantage of it as La Villette is still close.

Since May 11, and at least until the end of the epidemic, cars have been banned from the famous rue de Rivoli in Paris! This street leading from Saint-Paul to the Concorde. The Samaritaine complex, is still no one there. Scheduled for last April, the opening of the historic department store bought by LVMH in 2000 is postponed due to Covid-19. After fifteen years of work and 750 million euros of investment, the complex could open next February 2021 . For now , you can already admire its corrugated glass facade signed Kazuyo Sejima. This is a beautiful artery and well taken even worked off of it for several years. A bit of nostalgia is that In 1800, in place of rue de Rivoli, there was a large network of unhealthy alleys. To link the Palais-Royal to the Concorde, Napoleon I drilled a first part of this axis between 1811 and 1835. He named it after a victorious battle in Italy. The works are of general interest, the necessary expropriations. Among the forty or so demolished streets, that of Mauvais-Garçons is a cut-throat where criminals find girls of joy. In 1850, under Napoleon III, Baron Haussmann extended Rivoli to the east and linked the Louvre to the Bastille. In the shops under the new arcades, a decree of 1852 prohibited the use of the hammer and the burning oven. Yes indeed history of my eternal Paris!

As of   today Saturday, the Claude Monet’s house in Giverny reopens its doors and its famous gardens which so inspired his genius. Indeed, after three months of closure, the magnificent pink building with green shutters takes us back on a journey back in time, to meet one of the masters of Impressionism. To access it, wearing a mask is compulsory for everyone and not provided. Hydroalcoholic gel will also be available for all to use. The Claude Monet Foundation will be open every day from 9h30 to 18h until November 1, 2020.

From June 15 and if the health situation allows, France is also in favor of reopening the European borders without a fortnight for European nationals. Regarding the external borders to Europe, they will remain closed until June 15, 2020, at least.

Since the end of April, the period at which the foxes who lived at Père-Lachaise cemetery were seen by the curator of the cemetery, the Paris City Hall considered having to move them. Now, it has been confirmed, the little family can stay there without forced deconfinement, and we secretly hope to be able to see babies as young as two months old from afar without disturbing them, of course. I saw this on TV and they look cute but they are foxes about 6 of them, be careful.

And last but a bargain perhaps the price of real estate in Paris has come down ! A first for a long time. Drimki, a specialist in online property valuation, says housing prices fell 5% in the city on March 16 due to the confinement. If you had to plan at the start of the year 13,070 € / m2 on average to buy a property in the center of the city, you now have to count 11,581 € / m2. A nice drop of almost 1,500 € per m2! Yes my dear you are reading right, this is just double what it cost in Versailles for example and out in the Morbihan you could buy a castle!!! And you know Hemingway was not a good traveller, he wrote posthumously the Movable Feast for Paris but if he had travelled a bit into the country; could easily wrote a second volume, France is a movable feast! I say!!!

And there you go folks , some news from France is back alive and well. We will be reading the new and grand of my belle France, and of course, slowly opening up everything. Even no more 100 km limits, so off I go preparing my vacations again. Stay tune, France is back!!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

May 30, 2020

Monument to Pershing and Lafayette!

So getting my delights in my old home now, and telling a bit more expanded views on some of its wonderful monuments off the beaten path indeed. I have written briefly on it but feels they deserve more, so here is my take on the Monument Pershing Lafayette of Versailles!

The Pershing – Lafayette monument is a memorial located on the heights of Versailles , department 78 Yvelines in the ïle de France region. My old home for almost 10 years. The monument was erected on the one hand in tribute to the American army which fought during the Great War or WWI and to the army of the war of American independence, on the other hand. The monument was inaugurated on October 6, 1937 in the presence of General Pershing, but the monument erected remained unfinished. The very degraded plaster statue of General Pershing was deposited in 1941.

Versailles

The Pershing-Lafayette-Versailles association undertook, with the help of generous donors (moi aussi) , to install the final statues of the two generals whose plaster model was deposited in 1941. On September 8, 2017, the statues of Generals Pershing and La Fayette are inaugurated. The memorial has two concrete pedestals that face each other on Avenue des Etats-Unis. They are in fact pedestals which support the equestrian statues of General Pershing and Lafayette. Built hastily, these were made of reinforced concrete sails, only one of the 4 stairs is made of stone. The two reinforced concrete bases intended to receive the equestrian statues are about 9 meters high raised on 2 benches pierced on either side of two staircases distant from the road by a grassy ground. Each base was surmounted by an equestrian statue about 5 meters high in patinated bronze plaster for the inauguration of October 6, 1937.

versailles

Coming from Versailles, the monument on the right is dedicated to La Fayette and recalls the battles in which he participated in the USA War of Independence, the monument on the left is dedicated to General Pershing and recalls the battles to which this general took part with the American Expeditionary Force (as the US Army coming to France was named. A unique symbol of Franco-American friendship. The equestrian statues of Generals Pershing and La Fayette were inaugurated on the Butte de Picardie, avenue des Etats-Unis or road D185 in Versailles direction Ville d’Avray (see post).

For those on public transport from the Versailles Château rive gauche RER C station take bus line 10 direction Vaucresson and stop at Versailles Pershing. Also from Versailles Chantiers train station take bus line 13 direction Versailles Pershing final stop. When in the area use this vianavigo itinerary planner its official :  Phebus bus network Versailles and vianavigo journey planner

A bit more info can be read in French from the The US WWI Centennial Commission :Pershing Lafayette Versailles commission

And the L’Association des riverains Etats-Unis Pershing (association of neighborhood Avenue des Etats Unis Pershing): Neighborhood association avenue Etats Unis on of Pershing

There you go a nice place to be and pay our respect while indulging in a big of Franco-American history, cooperation, and friendship that goes back to the founding of the USA.  Hope you enjoy the story and can visit these wonderful equestrian monuments to La Fayette and Pershing in my beloved dear Versailles.

And, remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

May 30, 2020

St Cyr l’école!!!

And coming back to my old stumping road warrior area ,and catching up on my many photos to bring you new areas and ideas to visit my belle France, here is a new one. Well , I have written on the farm very famous there but now let me tell you a bit about the town itself, this is Saint Cyr l’école!!

Saint-Cyr-l’École is located in the department 78 of Yvelines, in the Île-de-France region. The town of Saint-Cyr-l’École is just birds view only 21.5 km from Paris Notre Dame Cathedral. It is bordered by the towns   of Versailles to the east, Guyancourt to the south, Montigny-le-Bretonneux to the south-southwest, Bois -d’Arcy to the southwest, Fontenay-le-Fleury to the west and Bailly to the north. Areas truly visited as lived nearby…and plenty of activities with the boys on them.

Plentiful road access that is tops. The main road is the D10 connecting Versailles (by the Orangerie side) to Rambouillet and regional road D11 connecting Saint-Cyr-l’École to Plaisir (and great shopping area). In the immediate vicinity is the Bois-d’Arcy interchange between the A12 highway, on a north-south axis which connects the triangle from Rocquencourt to Trappes on the N 10,and north with the A13 autoroute de Normandie, the N 12, connects Dreux at the A86 highway.

The  Saint-Cyr train station,of the Transilien network is on the N line connecting Paris to Rambouillet / Plaisir – Grignon / Mantes-la-Jolie, the station is not served by trains from Dreux. The station or Gare de Saint Cyr is located on the line connecting Paris-Montparnasse to Chartres and is at the point of the junction giving access to the Granville line via Plaisir – Grignon and Dreux. Direct commuter train services are provided to Paris-Montparnasse via Versailles-Chantiers. RER C connecting Saint Martin d’Étampes to Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, serving Paris-Austerlitz via Invalides. And the train U line connecting La Défense to La Verrière.

Keolis Yvelines is serving the lines, 52, 53 and 54 of the Phebus bus network  in Versailles . You can find all these buses  and trains at the somewhat new ïle de France Mobilités (old STIF) site here: All transports ile de France region Mobilités

A historic city at the gates of Versailles, Saint-Cyr-l’École shines in the Yvelines department 78. The Maison de Saint-Louis founded by Madame de Maintenon, then transformed by Napoleon into a Military School has notably ensured its reputation.
The history of the city begins at the end of the 11C, when the monks of the Sainte-Geneviève Abbey in Paris decided to set up, on the edge of the ru de Gally, a chapel and a priory with its farm, to evangelize and clear the valley.

In 1686 the royal house of Saint-Louis was founded, an education house for 250 young girls, by Madame de Maintenon and whose construction was entrusted to Jules Hardouin-Mansart. In 1808, in the same buildings, the Special Military School was established. This school, founded in 1802 in Fontainebleau by Napoleon I and then transferred to Saint-Cyr, remained there until 1940, when it was withdrawn to Aix-en-Provence.  The buildings of Saint-Cyr are then seriously affected by the Allied bombings of 1944 and the school is recreated in 1945, but in Coëtquidan ( my Morbihan 56 see post) under the name of Special military school of Saint-Cyr.

The city of St Cyr l’école on its history and heritage in French: City of St Cyr on history and heritage

The city was 92% damaged by the bombings of WWII.  In 1995, Saint-Cyr officially received the 1939-1945 War Cross with palm, which had been awarded to it forty-five years earlier for acts of resistance and for its exemplary attitude under the bombing but which the town of the day had refused.

Saint-Cyr-l’École aerodrome (nice) occupies an area of ​​75 hectares, or 15% of Saint-Cyrien territory. On the eastern side, it adjoins the park of the Palace of Versailles! and stretches north to the rue de Gally. He is a historic player in the plain of Versailles. It was indeed in 1907 that the Count de La Vaulx had a hangar built at the gates of the town to house an aeronate, more simply called an airship. The same year, Santos-Dumont managed to link Saint-Cyr-l’École to Buc at a speed of 90 kph on board his Demoiselle monoplane. It is on this aircraft that Roland Garros will learned to fly. Three years later, this is where the tests of the La Liberté airship were carried out. Today, the aerodrome is home to nine air clubs gathered within GUAS, the Saint-Cyr-l’École aerodrome users’ group, and is attended by a thousand enthusiasts; including me on old light planes air shows!

The aerodrome today is managed by Aéroports de Paris, the site in English here: Paris airports on aerodrome St Cyr

And just a friendly reminder,(see prev post) for what we came here the most and love it and still waiting to go back, the Ferme de Gally!

My family’s favorite place in St Cyr l’école, the Ferme de Gally. Yes a farm, but not an ordinary farm. It was acquired in 1684 by Louis XIV to supply the court of milk products. It is at the end of the Grand Canal, yes the one you think ends by the boat lakes, but its actually goes way back, keep walking …. all along the allée de la Ceinture. The farm is still today in activity, handle by the same family since 1741!!! It is one of the oldest building in the area ,originally founded in the 11C by the priests of the abbey of Sainte-Geneviéve-du-mont at Paris to plow and put into use the lands around the plains of Versailles.  It was call after the val de galie, a stream,that since then was change to Gally. We can continue today follow the stream, from the allée du Plat Fond just to the small village of Rennemoulin off the D307 and very picturesque horse country today.  At the beginning by 1038, this stream gave the name to Versailles because the lord of these lands was named Hugo de Versaillis. Yes indeed part of my history too you know….

St Cyr

St Cyr

Official webpage in French for the Ferme de Gally, see the picture this gate (see prev post for a closer look than the one above) goes or used to go into the domaine de Versailles to provide the kings with food! Les Fermes de Gally

Hope you enjoy the ride into my nostalgic Yvelines the cradle of the kingdom of France and lovely towns all over with great architecture and history, St Cyr l’école is one of them.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

May 29, 2020

Looking at wines in France!

So here coming back with wines. Yes indeed love it and great drinker collector passionate and diplomé of it. I have written several posts on it and on many regions of France and the world. However, let me bring you the latest good news and stories on the wines of France.

The origins of the Union des grands crus de Bordeaux (UGCB) are not as old as that of the 1855 classification, but its tale is furiously reminiscent of a 19C adventure novel. It all started with a business trip to Japan in 1973 from a few big Bordeaux owners. Asia well and it seemed appropriate to them, after conquering America, to turn to Japan. But it was necessary to simplify the presentation of Bordeaux wines so that our interlocutors were not lost between the 1855 classification, that of bourgeois wines and Pomerol which did not have one. It was not a question of being profiteering, but of explaining Bordeaux outside the hierarchy. Quite naturally, in 1973, Jean-Bernard Delmas became the first president of the Union des grands crus de Bordeaux.

Wine tastings of members of the union were also started to be organized outside Bordeaux such as in Paris first, then in London thanks to the support of Irish-born merchant Anthony Barton, in Brussels etc. Opening up to new horizons, notably the United States, the highlighting of our wines by the Anglo-Saxon press and, in particular, by a young American journalist still unknown will change the situation. It will be the beginning of the Parker era, with great successes, but also some excesses. From 1997, the week of primeurs was introduced instead of two weeks of dedicated tastings, one for the international press and the other for trading. The idea of bringing everyone together over a week has gradually emerged to become what it is today with tastings seated for journalists and in properties for all buyers. On this it was decided to organize the first tasting in China. About fifty members of the union made the trip, Shanghai will be the first city visited in China, followed by smaller ones, but also trips to Brazil, India .all successes.

The history of its presidents to put effort and love into the Bordeaux association took Pierre Tari to bring a taste for travel. Peter Sichel had a profile perfectly suited to the Anglo-Saxon markets so important at the time. Alain Raynaud, son of a winegrower and doctor in Bordeaux, came up with modern ideas that upset the train before the arrival of Patrick Maroteaux, the right president at the right time. The UGCB knows how to find the one who will take it further. They are sometimes victims of the image of the Bordelais, a little locked in their castles, but at the head of all these properties, there are businessmen, passionate about their profession and the wines they produce and who are fully invested. It is normal that this is effective.

More information of this wonderful group of passionates about the Bordeaux wines , my fav is here in English. UGCB on wines of Bordeaux

One organism that I started my career in the world of wines while an office in Miami, now is New York, the food and wines of France or Sopexa (official France govt source). webpage in English here:  SOPEXA Food and Wine from France

The wine merchant Joseph Drouhin at the beginning of the last century when his son, Maurice, told him about his professional ambitions. What would the grandfather say these days? Founded in 1880 in Beaune, Joseph Drouhin is today a house unanimously respected around the world. A 73 hectare wine estate, two thirds of great and premier crus on the most beautiful lands of Burgundy, from Mâcon to Chablis. With 90 appellations, including Musigny, Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche, Clos Vougeot and the cult Clos des Mouches, a Burgundian icon. Catalog of legend to which were added, in 1987 and 2013, two properties in Oregon (United States). Vinified or produced, the wines signed Joseph Drouhin are exported to 90 countries.

In 1878. Joseph Drouhin and his wife, Pauline, left the Yonne to open a bookstore in Beaune, which was soon abandoned for trading in wine. Future profession boosted by the rise of the railroad. In 1914. Maurice Drouhin, the only son of Joseph, is one of the youngest captains in France. Perfect polyglot (German and English), he was recruited by the future general MacArthur. In 1918 at the end of the Great War or WWI and return to the wine market, cured of military chaos and phylloxera.

Their wines get all the attention and fame that it deserves. The director of Maxim’s, in Paris, requests exclusivity. People of yesterday and today love this dry and elegant white wine. Alfred Hitchcock, Louis de Funès, Sean Connery, Jean-François Moueix, the owner of the Pétrus estate. On June 7, 1944, the day after the Allied landing in Normandy, the friend of the Americans was informed of a raid by the Nazi police. Thanks to the maze of ancestral cellars under its vat room, it escapes, emerging through a back door, and reaching the Hôtel-Dieu. Protected by the sisters for several months, he donated 2.5 hectares of his best vintages after the war. Each year, during the charity sale for the benefit of the Hospices de Beaune, a cuvée from these vines now bears his name, several pieces (228 liter barrels) faithfully bought by his grandchildren to continue the charity work. Contact Maison Joseph Drouhin, 7, rue d’Enfer, 21200 Beaune.

Again, this large building located at the exit of the village of Ampuis from the capital of Gaul. In a curve of the road RD86 (ex-route 86), the famous N7 sung by Charles Trenet, impossible to miss this high plastered house of brown ocher crossed out with the name of its company name: Établissements Guigal. Three generations of a family name synonymous with the biggest appellations in the Rhône valley: Côte Rotie, Condrieu, Hermitage, Châteauneuf-du-pape, saint-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, etc. Among which, mythical plots: La Mouline, La Turque, and La Landonne. So many treasures cultivated on the steep hillsides of the Côte-Rôtie ,the cradle of Syrah for 2,400 years, the steepest and oldest vineyard in France.

The young Guigal is doing so well that in twenty-two years, the Vidal-Fleury house has become a first-class property and trading house. The Vidal-Fleury-Guigal duo is renowned. Joseph travels the world, palaces and wine-growing authorities. Etienne manages everything else; from the management of the vineyard to real estate investments. His father wanted to put his surname on the labels and founded his own house in 1946. The break with his employer was dramatic. Joseph Vidal-Fleury contracted jaundice and when he met my father in the village, he was feeling unwell. On January 11, 1961 when on his return from high school, he found his mother in tears, his father decked out in dark glasses from a detachment of the retina, operated three times. Etienne is blind. Marcel does not have a driver’s license, not his bachelor’s degree, not even a major. He has no choice but to imitate his father’s signature to prevent the establishment from collapsing. But the reward is there. In 1961, the house of Guigal, that’s 13,000 bottles per year and an employee; by 2020, around fifty people work to produce more than 8 million bottles, not counting the production of satellites passed under the Guigal fold. From north to south, some 150 hectares of vineyards: Vidal-Fleury establishments, Château d’Ampuis, Domaine de Vallouit, Domaine de Bonserine, Château de Nalys, etc, and always the three hats owner, winemaker-breeder and merchant- breeder; sported with equal pride by Philippe, like before him his father and grandfather. Contact at Etablissements Guigal, 5, route de la Taquière, 69420 Ampuis.

A nice pairing for the  Summer.  From mid-May to mid-July, the orchards that have become immaculate see the branches of the cherry trees bend. From the soft, dark red burlat to the rather sour and almost black morello cherry, passing by the pale yellow Napoleon and the vermilion Montmorency. To wash down with cherries which we love you can have a Maury from the Domaine Pouderoux ;aromas of cocoa and black cherry with a hint of mint; on the palate, a lot of sugar richness, but a very integrated and well-balanced alcohol structure, and above all a very pleasant suppleness. Delicious.

a couple of late taste with a meal and very good value/quality wise I believe very well spread in the world  ,the reds of Bordeaux:

Château Rollan de By, Cru bourgeois 2015, Médoc, Red. The tannins are tender, nice length, full, suave, elegant, powerful, fresh on the finish. I had their rosé as well very nice balance fruity wine excellence for a Bordeaux rosé! Château La Tour Carnet 2009 Grand cru classé, Haut-Médoc, Red .Full, intense, concentrated, fleshy, this Grand Cru Classé of unbeatable value for money offers a nice freshness, very fine tannins.

And one from lointime my period of Burgundy and the first property tasted and visited at Beaune. Louis Jadot, Monopole Clos de la Barre 2014, Volnay Premier cru, Red Soft attack, elegant mouth. The power is gradually installed. Silky tannins. Always a great property.

Entitled Boire avec les dieux  or Drinking with the Gods, the temporary exhibition at the Cité du Vin did not open on April 10 and is postponed for a year. In 2021, from April 9 to August 29, announces the Foundation for Wine Culture and Civilizations.

The 2019 Primeurs campaign in Bordeaux has just experienced its first boost this morning with the marketing of Château Pontet-Canet, 5th Grand Cru Classé 1855 (Pauillac) announced at the buyer price of 68€ excl. tax (source) or more exactly 58€ excl tax ex-trader, which represents a significant drop compared to the 2018 vintage, released at 98€ excluding taxes a year ago.  Will this 31% reduction in price for an 1855 Grand Cru Classé give the market trend for the 2019 vintage in Bordeaux? If that is the case, it is undeniable that this 2019 is going to be rich in good deals for amateurs. The next outings will be closely monitored in the coming days. At the start of the week, some pretty nuggets opened the campaign: Château d’Arsac, Cru Bourgeois Exceptional (14€ excl tax), Château Lanessan  Haut-Médoc (10.40 € HT), Clos Manou en Médoc ( € 17.30 HT) or Château Haut-Bergey in Pessac-Léognan (14€ excl tax). All prices are at least 20% lower than the 2018 vintage!. Gear up for bargains folks; I am ready willing and able.

There you go for the wine news from yours truly. Enjoy it en vino veritas!!!

And remember, happy travels ,good health, and many cheers to all!!

%d bloggers like this: