April 21, 2018

Just information post!

Ok so just for a temporary hold on my posts in my blog. I will delete after my return.

I will be away to an East Central African country and back next Saturday April 28; exciting trip first time in that country. I will not able to write as internet is very limited and sporadic me think.

Therefore, until next time and hopefully better news keep cool, healthy and keep on traveling, life is beautiful even if for some too short.

On a sad note my wife is sick but will see how she does in my return for now appointment with the American hospital in Paris (Neuilly sur Seine). Hoping for the best; thanks ahead for your prayers and well wishes.

Salut, chau, hasta la vista baby; ciao, a bientôt, Saludos.

April 21, 2018

And we do still have eternal Rome!!!

Ok so this is a major tourist destination so one page blog won’t cover it. However, will give you enough wish list items to do visit. I admit when living outside of Europe never visited Italy, but since living in Europe, been there several times and one big summer vacation with the family all over Rome, Lazio region. Flew the family with the frequent miles by air and then public transport or a rental car to visit outside Rome was fantastic.

The public transport in summer was almost empty, and all the attractions were open even with big line did not matter we have seen plenty of old stones already in Europe ::) We did rented an apartment the Nomentano area very residential nice real people living and doing our groceries in the nearby Carrefour market. We were near Bologna metro/subway station but nevertheless we only use a couple times, the rest was on the bus, best way to see a city ,above ground!

So let’s give you an overall view of the Eternal Rome, starting with my previous blog posts on it !

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2013/08/22/eternal-roma-rome-in-italy-of-course/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2013/08/24/the-castle-at-rome-sant-angelo/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2013/08/25/the-piazzas-or-squares-of-rome/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2013/09/03/the-vatican-and-rome/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2013/09/05/the-churches-of-rome/

Rome or in Italian Roma is the capital of Italy since the Italian Republic in 1871 , located in the center west of the Italian Peninsula near the Tyrrheniann sea and also the capital of the region of Lazio; and was of the Roman empire for 357 years. It has the peculiarity to have a State right in the middle of the city, Vatican city where the Pope is the chief of State; it is the only one of its kind in the world. The history of Rome extends for over 28 centuries since the foundation by Romulus in 753 BC to now, been successive the center of the Roman monarchy, Roman republic (509 BC to 27 BC) ;later the Roman empire ( 27BC to 330AD)  ; during all theses periods we came to hear the popular phrase, All roads lead to Rome! . Since the 1C AD it host the seat of the Roman Catholic Church in the  Pontifical States from 752 to 1870 and later the Vatican City.

The city center extends 25 km to the coast by the Tyrrhénien sea forming the district of Ostia later call the Lido of Rome  (as lido means littoral ).  It is why Rome is one of the rare capital city that has a sea front and about 20 km of beaches.  The center is where you hear the phrase the seven hills of Rome with the Aventin, Caelius, Capitole, Esquilin, Palatine, Quirinal, and Viminal on the south where there is the Tiberian island. The city center ,also, includes the hills of Janicule and Pincio as well as the Vatican and the nearby Mount Testaccio. Outside the walls of the city you can find other hills even higher such as Monte Mario , Monte Parioli and Monte Antenne; as the old city was surrounded by ramparts walls or the Aurelian wall built by Emperor Aurelian in 270AD to protect the neighborhoods developed outside the Servian wall.

As mentioned , and by looking at my previous blog posts above there is lots to cover here. However, as different from many my favorites parts of the city are the parks such as : Villa Doria Pamphili, Villa Ada, Villa Borghése ( a must),  Gardens of the Vatican, Villa Glori, Villa Celimontana, Villa  Torlonia, Villa Medici (another dandy) ,the gardens of Pincio and the botanical garden of Rome.

Roma

Villa Borghese gardens left of palace

There is a lot of old history and monuments here, so you come for the  Roman period, excellent choice. My favorites or everybody’s favorites are the Colisseum ,Panthéon, Roman Forum,  arch of Triomphe of Arch of Constantin, and the Arch of Titus, the Marcellus theater, Via Appia, Thermes of Caracalla, Trojan column , Circus Maximus, Aurelian wall, Pyramid of Caius Cestius, Hercules temple, and Ostia Antica. You have nice fortress castles such as Castle of San Angelo, Fortress of Ostia and House of knights of Rhodes.

Roma

Colosseo di Roma

Roma

Trojan garden domus aurea

Roma

Foro Romano by palatino entrance

Roma

Pantheon di Roma

There are beautiful squares we like such as the Piazza Navone, Piazza di Spagna, Piazza di Capitolio , Piazza de la Rotonda, Piazza de popolo, Campo de Fiori, Piazza de Quirinal, Piazza Farnese. The nicest bridges in my opinion are the Ponte San Angelo ,and the nicest fountains are of Trevi, Four rivers fountain, Neptune fountain, Turtles fountain, Triton fountain in piazza Barberini, and fountain of naides in piazza della Repubblica. Then, you have many many obelisks, gates, columns, catacombs, churches, basilicas, chapels, museums  libraries and the semifinalist in the Champion League 2018 AS Roma!

Roma

Piazza di Spagna climbing

Roma

Piazza Narvonna obelisk

Roma

Piazza Popolo

The webpage to help you plan your trip further is the tourist office of Rome here:  http://www.turismoroma.it/?lang=en

The region of Lazio tourist office: Lazio tourist office

Hope you enjoy it, on a hot Saturday in the Morbihan going to 29C or 84F!!! time to head for the beach. Happy travels, good health and many cheers!

 

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April 21, 2018

Some news from France CXC

And lets get back to France, it is hot, very hot, today we got to 29C or about 84F, and the locals went to the beach. Not me, need to work but will check it out a bit tomorrow. Full sunshine and no rain of course; lovely France. And gorgeous Morbihan in Brittany on the west coast beaches!

Let me tell you a bit on what is going on of interest to many, not to mention the strikes on SNCF continues and AF is calling for days too, the University students are holding out and been kick out by the police special riots from the Universities, and so on ,that is France ,champions strikers; one way to break from the cold into the hot  spring days!

I have mentioned before of things to do in Versailles, and told you it is more than a castle well here is one update of one place we like when lived there and visit when by the city. You have on the left the Centre Commercial Parly II shopping center par excellence and we like too, on the right you have the Château de Versailles and between these mega places you have a heaven of peace with the sweetness of big trees covering about 250 fields of football/soccer and still not as well visited. The Arboretum de Chévreloup sits between the cities of Rocquencourt (Van Gogh painted on the town) and Versailles in the Yvelines dept 78 and after some renovation is open again! Normally, they had opened about 50 hectares to the public but after this major work, you can walk on 200 hectares or 494 acres! On a land that was the hunting ground of king Louis XIV and part of the Domaine de Versailles until the French revolution. It has over 2500 species of trees in geographical lineup,one of the richest collections in Europe!  The blue cedar trees are one of the biggest in the world with 800 meters on a straight line bringing you back to what the botanists were thinking when they created in the 1920’s. See it! Arboretum de Chévreloup, 30 route de Versailles, (N186) open every day from  April 1 to November 15 (except labor day May 1st) from 10h to 18h admission is 7€ adults more info at  Arboretum de Chévreloup

Major work to renovated the Grand Palais, as it is in a critical state of repairs. The main building in the Universal Exposition of 1900 ,the works planned for it will be the first since opening in a historical work site with a budget of 466 million euros , it will start in December 2020 and finish by Spring 2023 and by the summer of 2024 will be an Olympic site. The public debate on the progress will be held and decision done by May 14 . You can follow the vote and construction updates here.  building debate on the Grand Palais

And the men of the Big wheel or Grande Roue  in the place de la Concorde by the Jardin des Tuileries is at it again with the city of Paris. This time going to the Council of State the highest body to rendered a decision. Marcel Campion wants the wheel to stay here , however if the decision is negative, he will take the wheel to Red Square in Moscow. The decision by the Council of State should be by May 19 next. Marcel Campion is offering two free days to the resident of Paris with proof of domicile, on May 17 and 18. All others still need to pay admission of 12€.  Description of the Big Wheel is here in city of Paris tourist office! Big Wheel Paris tourist office

And the very busy and popular RER C station of Saint Michel is due to open to the public again by April 30. It has been closed for repairs and now there is a tentative opening day according to  SNCF  Réseau .

And as the weather is nice ,and will be for the next few days ,here is my suggestion for a nice weekend brunch in Paris. Claus Saint-Germain. 2, rue Clément (6éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 55 26 95 10. Brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 9h to 17H formule 4 brunchs from 31-34€. More here: Claus Saint Germain

And how about those wonderful Paris terraces, well they are all over and plenty of choices for all. My favorites the last couple years have been.

Marcello. 8, rue Mabillon (6éme). Tél. +33 01 43 26 52 26. open every day carte menu 30-60€ Marcello Paris

Le Drugstore. 133, avenue des Champs-Élysées (8éme). Tél. +33 01 44 43 77 64. Open every day carte menu 40-60€. Le Drugstore Paris

And with the look alone of the Basilica Sainte Clotilde you have the quaint Le Basilic. 2, rue Casimir-Perier (7éme). Tél. +33  01 44 18 94 64. Open every day carte menu 50-70€.  Le Basilic Paris

Maison Maison. Voie Georges-Pompidou, facing  16, quai du Louvre (1éme). Open every day except Mondays and Tuesdays for lunch. carte menu 15-30€

At La Démesure (9éme)  you have your views on the Seine river on the righ bank or rive droite on a boat barge of 120 persons capacity with tables on the quays. La Démesure sur Seine. 69, port de la Rapée (12éme). Open every day except Sundays and Mondays. Carte menu 20-40€.  La Démesures sur Seine Paris

And only steps from the wonderful nice pretty a must parc Monceau,you have a huge terrase for 70 persons capacity hiding behind the gate of the Camondo museum ,see the wonderful gardens . Le Camondo. 61 bis, rue de Monceau (8éme). Tél. +33  01 45 63 40 40. Open every day except Sundays. Carte menu 45-55€. Le Camondo Paris

And of course on these brunch and terrace combination, cannot go away without telling you again my all time favorite in my favorite spots in Paris, the 16éme and quartier Muette. What was an old train station for several years a wonderful place to eat, drink and enjoy the terraces in the back overlooking the Parc Ranelegh. Restaurant Le Gare, 19 chaussée de la Muette, metro La Muette line 9 leaves you facing the restaurant to your left out of station. Open every day menu carte from 24-39€ Enjoy it. Those from my previous life in the travel forums will remember taking you there each time in Paris. Webpage: Restaurant Le Gare

And Mexico is feeling strong in Paris! La Casa Corona , a house of artists and part of Corona France (the Mexican beer people) has open a new ephemeral bar in the 11éme on what was a huge loft with a glass ceiling now has several bars, lots of vegetation, water fresheners sprays, hammocks, swingers and small corners to speak softly between friends. The invited artists will be amongst you and could expose their works in the bar where a display has been installed;nothing told in advance you just show up and see who is showing or playing there. The La Casa Corona, 71 rue de la Fontaine au Roi, 11éme, Will have the space open from April 19 to May 13, Tuesdays to Thursdays from 17h to midnight and from Fridays to Sundays until 02h . You pay only 5€ for a corona beer and 10€ for cocktails. Really!!! See more in their Facebook page here: La Casa Corona Paris

Well Bio is on, and even I got some stuff bio here ::) Some of the best in my opinion and they are many and more and more coming.

Wild & The Moon has six addresses in Paris (last one at the fondation Lafayette Anticipations), the green cantina of  bio, local,  ethical, in season, vegan, rich in super foods, without lactose or additives or glutens.  Loaded with sweets as well and spices see it at  Wild & The Moon. 55, rue Charlot (3éme). Tél. +33 09 51 80 22 33. Open every day carte menu 15-30€. Wild & Le Moon Paris

A few steps from the Folies Bergére there is a counter, café-restaurant, and cantina.  The first is for take out food with retreats of purchase at the Le Campanier, the second is simple dishes with lots of vegetables and the cantina for fast lunch a la carte like soup of the day, veggie burger, and  cheesecake etc etc.  See at Supernature. 8 (counters), 12 (cantinas) , and 15 (restaurant), rue de Trévise (9éme). Tél. +33 01 42 46 58 04. Open every day except Saturdays and Sundays evening. Carte menu  16-30€. Brunch  on Sundays from 11h30 to 16h, 25€.  Supernature Paris

And for the fresh bio go and done since 1989,when a group got together here to offered all bio and one of the originals of Paris with a large choice of fruits, vegetables , and groceries and take out food.  Heavy on Sundays morning, the Marché bio Raspail. Boulevard Raspail, between rue du Cherche-Midi and rue de Rennes (6éme). Sundays from 9h to 15h. Marché Bio Raspail Paris

From bio to Cognac, well it is natural too ::)

The owner of cognac Remy Martin and liqueur Cointreau and rum Mount Gay just published the financials with cognac sales of 265M euros an increase of 2,6% if exchange rates taken into account ,otherwise it would be 12,8%. The sales of cognac Remy Martin are about 75% of that are 18;3% of the growth alone. The performance is very solid in the United States its first market as well as Russia, and the travelers sales on planes airports etc. The mark is positioning on the luxury segment and expect to have 60% of their sales on products costing more than 50 USDollars per bottle to the 2019-2020 period. The group overall sales are 1,13 billion euros and growth of 7,3% for 2017-2018. The story of Remy Martin here: cognac Rémy Martin

And I close out this edition of Some news from France with something from my earlier youthful days on light airplanes. ….

This weekend today at Cannes there will be the first Red Bull Air Race in France!!! with the participation of five French pilots. More here: Red Bull Air Race Cannes 2018

However, if you like to do this in while visiting France, let me give you some leads !!! The nice aerodrome of my nice Saint-Cyr-l’Ecole  and Dreux , have friendly voltage air rides for about 30-40 minutes and 240€ on a CAP 10 airplane, the most popular plane of  its class in the world. Also, in my old hangouts areas of the L’Isle-Adam, aerodrome Persan-Beaumont  are given rides of 30 minutes on an EXTRA 200 for about 526€, video souvenir included . For the same price in Coulommiers, dept 77 Seine-et-Marne, it is possible to fly for about 25 minutes on a wonderful Pitts Spécial, the mythical plane of voltage from the 1960’s and 265 Horse powers. And on the same club you can do a ride on a Robin R 2160 for 339€. Nearer me now in Ploemeur, near Lorient a ride sensation on a CAP 10 is doable for 120€.  At the Rennes airport they can give you a baptismal flight of about an hour over the Mont-Saint-Michel  for 749€.  You will do this and all along the coast in a Boeing Stearman of WWII vintage.   all of these  aerodromes can be found here. Just put the name of the town in France section. Aerodromes of France

Enjoy my belle France as I do. Have a great weekend you all. Happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all.

 

 

 

April 20, 2018

How about the history and things in Jerez de la Frontera!

Here we are again with a piece of my beloved Spain. This is deep Spain, in fact when visitors comes to Spain or hear about it, what they really see / hear is Andalucia. Not bad to wandered around Spain, as we say Spain is everything under the sun ::)

I came here to see the history as told abroad with the famous sherry ,horses,  and flamenco all in one, mind you as Spanish these are not my traditions been from Tenerife. However, all refer to Spain with these Andalucian treasures. So, therefore, lets talk about Jerez de la Frontera.

Jerez de la Frontera is in the province of Cadiz, autonomous region of Andalucia ; frontera comes from the frontier between moors nazari Granada and the Crown of Castilla. Only about 12 km from the Atlantic ocean and 85 km from the Gibraltar strait. It can describe in four words, wine/sherry ,horse, flamenco and motorcycles. The city is known for centuries as the capital of wine or sherry. Another trait is the horse or cartucian horse or jerezano a line of the andalucian horse from the 15C. The city is also known as the birthplace of Flamenco. The motorcycle Grand Prize of Spain is run here along the neighboring El Puerto de Santa Maria.

The name of Jerez is from the denomination Xera of the Phonecians in the area where the city id found today; later the Roman called it Ceret or Seret and after the  Visigoths it was called Seritium or Xeritium. After the Moorish invasion it was called Sherish and when the kingdom of Castilla took Jerez in 1264 the city came to be known as Xerez, and later added de la Frontera as it was in the frontier with the kingdom of Granada. It is said the origins go back to the city of Asta Regia founded by the Tartessos at about 8 km from the current location and could have been their capital. After the discovery of new world and the conquest of Granada in 1492 Jerez goes thru a tremendous growth period with trade with nearby ports of Sevilla and Cadiz. This made that king Felipe II ordered built a navigable estuary so the ships can reach the port in the city such as El Portal to the city of Guadalete,and that the city was included amongst the 480 cities of the world part of the  Civitates Orbis Terrarum  or panoramic cities of the world. By 1890, Jerez  was the first city to have public electricity at least for the lighting together with Haro in La Rioja . From the 17C, time where Sherry was famous all over the world, many British companies settled here such as Garvey, Gonzalez Byass, William & Humbert as well as Spanish Bearn such as Domecq; the strong close link to the  British remained constant.

I have written a piece in my blog a while back and will remind you to see the more touristic side of it here: My post on Jerez de la Frontera

Then, the city of Jerez has excellent information in Spanish here: Jerez city info on heritage

Tourist office of Jerez de la FronteraTourist office of Jerez de la Frontera

Tourism in the province of Cadiz on Jerez de la Frontera: Cadiz Province tourism

Some of the things to see from a religious standpoint are huge, some of my favorites are:

Convento de San José, now housing Franciscans Clarisas descalzas or no shoes ; Capilla de los Desamparados, Capilla de San Juan de Letràn, Capilla del Calvario, Convento de Madre de Dios, very good pastries here!!! with sisters of the Franciscans Clarisas , Church Madre de Dios (mother of God) Sanctuary San Juan Grande, Church of Santa Ana, and Capilla de Santa Marta.

The city has several castles/palaces some in not so good shape, again many, so my favorites are:

Palacio, Duke of Abrantes, here is the home of the Royal school of Andalucian Equestrian art. By the nice Plaza Benavente you have the Palacio de Camporreal, and Palacio de Bertemati, Palacio de Riquelme, 16C, Palacio Domecq baroque style built in 1778 with Italian red marble and decorated arches. Palacio Dàvial renaissance style, in the Plaza Rafael Rivero come to see the Palacio de Luna (moon palace) baroque style built 1777. Palacio Pemartin, home of the Flamenco Andalucian center. Palacio de Villavicencio inside the Alcàzar, the curious can see now a store but this is the Palacio del Marqués de Villamarta in Calle Larga! At the Calle Pozuelo see the Palacio del Conde de los Andes; Casa Palacio de los Ponce de Léon, now the home of the sisters of the Savior ; in the Plaza de Belén see the Palacio de los Condes de Montegil, and the unique Casa de los Basurto built between the 16C and 19C is now part of the Bodegas Domecq sherry house.  Plenty more I told lots of palatial homes here.

There are several museum spread all over the city, my favorites are:

The Archeological museum or Museo Arqueologico in nice Plaza del Mercado with a corinthian center unique in the western world found near the Cartuja and the Guadalete river. Museos de la Atalaya, includes the mystery of Jerez (wine museum) and the Palacio del Tiempo ( watches museum). Museo Taurino on the bullfights and matadors! The Museum of the Andalucian costumes :dresses or Museo del Traje Andaluz. A unique museum for all is the Museo de la Fundacion Espinosa de los Monteros, with guitars, and musical instruments on strings; interesting indeed.

Some other interesting building in my opinion worth a detour are: City hall or ayuntamiento in Renaissance style. The Zoo and botanical garden, Alcazar old arab fortress and as mentioned inside it has the Palacio de Villavicencio and a hidden camera; as well as the ramparts walls with pieces of it on several streets, open or encrusted in buildings today.

Jerez de la Frontera

walls tower of the Alcazar

And of course other then the horse, the best to come here is the sherry , or Jerez; in many forms. Many houses but in my opinion the best from a historical , architectural and wine perspectives are:

The Gonzalez Byass (visited), Domecq (visited), Grupo Garvey, Williams & Humbert, Sanchez Romate (visited), bodegas Lustau, and Bodegas Tradicion with wine cellars from 1666. Other aspects of a visit to this city is the vineyards festival or Fiestas de la Vendimia, celebrated since 1848, oldest in Spain, the first foot step of the grape is done the first 15 days of September. Another huge event here is Holy Week or Semana Santa, the biggest in Andalucia! with 42 processions averaging six per day, and several nativity scenes in town. The Festival de Flamenco de Jerez is considered the best in the world​ by many and including the prestigious Flamenco magazine, Flamenco magazine

Jerez de la  Frontera

Domecq and the horse Casimiro in the patio of the house

Jerez de la Frontera

Gonzalez Byass bodega los Apostoles barrel aging

There you go a full version on Jerez de la Frontera, Province of Cadiz, autonomous region of Andalucia, Kingdom of Spain. Enjoy your visit here, it is all worth it; happy travels, good health, and many cheers!!! and Weekend is here again lol!

April 19, 2018

In Aranjuez there was a Prince, Palacio de Aranjuez!

Reading about palaces, another blogger mentioned liking Aranjuez. It gave me an inspiration to write something about the town which is the palace. I know about Aranjuez since a small enfant, my mother would sing sing to me the concerto of Aranjuez, that has been even turns into operas and zarzuelas in my beloved Spain. The best I heard was played by Paco de Lucia ,the great Flamenco guitarist. This concerto song was composed in Paris (always love) by Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo in 1939 on his last year living there. He was inspired by the love to his wife Victoria. Many versions tells of a love between a Prince and a lady that was not possible to be, this one I like it better but both are not proving yet.

Aranjuez is about 44 km from Madrid on the left bank of the Tajo river. Here at the palace were signed many treaties over the years, my two favorite ones were the Treaty of Aranjuez of 1779 between France and Spain where Spain entered the War of Independance of the United States as an ally of France; and the Treaty of Aranjuez of 1793 , a protective defense between Spain and the United Kingdom in face of the defeat and execution of king Louis XVI during the French revolution.

The National Heritage sites of Spain has a bit on it in English : Patrimonio Nacional on Aranjuez

The tourist office of the Comunidad de Madrid, region of Madrid where Aranjuez is located. Turismo Madrid region on Aranjuez

On the city in general and a bit on the Palace I wrote before in my blog here: Aranjuez more than a concerto

Now, let me give you more on the palace. The place is big and right in city center, easy parking up the main street for free was easy to find along Calle de la Florida; we always walk all over town and into the garden and forest. We found the best places to eat away from the center around the palace, less authentic, lot of tourist influences, best to walk away  like by Calle Postas after the covered market, if you want the real taste of Aranjuez.

On my last trip here we just wandered about without going into the Palace. Well seen it before and so many of them; better be more nostalgic next time. However, for all visitors to Spain and especially from Madrid, it is a must to visit me think.  The Royal Palace of Aranjuez is one of the residences of the King of Spain located in the town of Aranjuez, part of the Comunidad de Madrid autonomous region.

Aranjuez

arriving under Arch Calle de la Florida NIV Aranjuez

A bit of history I like.

When Holy Roman Emperor Carlos V or King Carlos III became interested in developing Aranjuez as a Royal site for hunting came to used as in 1501 was already done by Felipe the Beautiful on the old masters palace of Santiago. It eventually was ordered built by king Felipe II to architect Juan Bautista de Toledo ,he died during the construction and it was finished by Juan de Herrera. During the 17C the work was completely stop until the times of king Fernando VI and enlarged during king Carlos III that ordered built the wings on back as you can see today.  a smaller Palace was done called Casa del Labrador or house of the labrador outside the limits of the castle and forming part of the Prince’s gardens or Jardin del Principe. The huge gardens were done to create bigness in the palace and were irrigated with the waters of the Tajo and Jarama rivers, been the most important gardens of the Habsburgs period.

In 1808, the ceremony held in the Royal Chapel of the Palace the Supreme central council and kingdom government was created; been part the deputies from the supremes council of the main capital cities of the old kingdoms. In 1971, the lower level of the palace was created the Historical Court Costume museum. In 1997 ,the museum reopened as the Palace lifestyle museum that included the uniform of the King Juan Carlos I from the date of his proclamation in 1975 as well as the dress of queen Sofia of the same day; you can see her dress as bride as well as those of queen Letizia, infanta Elena and Cristina. From 1977 to 1983 it served as residence of the foreign chief of States visiting Spain by 1983 this function was transfered to the Palacio Real de El Pardo.

The Palace of Aranjuez is exactly located between the avenida del Palacio, and the plaza de las Parejas on the south, garden or jardín del Parterre by the east, stream of water by the north and the plaza del Raso de la Estrella by the west.

Some of the best from inside are:

The dining room  (Comedor) is the center of the Palace and decorated as conversation piece since 1748 under king Fernando VI and later dining room per se under king Carlos IV. You will see lots of decorations here , meaning several dictums such as justice, prudence and charity, faith etc in rococco style, and the four corners of the world . You have several paintings here , as well as huge clocks from the times of Carlos IV, furniture, from Fernando VII and porcelains.

The Arab office or Gabinete Arabe; was inspired by the room of the two sisters in the Alhambra of Granada, and built between 1848 and 1850 by the same architect that restored the  Nazari palace in Granada, Rafael Contreras.  It is decorated in ceramic tiles walls and sculpture chalk polichrome with arabic symbols. The Andalucian decoration is completed by a transparency of the Lions patio of French making done with damascus of silk and candles in bronze and porcelain plaques painted in 1835 created at the manufacture of Sévres , France as a gift of king of the French Louis Philippe of Orléans to the regent queen Maria Cristina de Borbon Dos Sicilias of Spain.  There is a huge neo gothic lamp in golden bronze with 81 lights in two levels gift of infante Don Francisco de Paula to his consort king Francisco de Asis de Borbon.

The Porcelain office or Gabinete de Porcelana (my favorite);  was the first work of the Royal Factory of Porcelain in the Buen Retiro Palace finished in 1765 here. Later it was the inspiration for the homogenous stand on the  Royal Palace of Madrid on a style closer to the neo gothic.  You have around seven big mirrors and other portraits with a oriental figures, dragons, monkeys, fruits, and diverse objects . There is a porcelain lamp resembling a palm tree with open arms and a Chinese holding its edge with a monkey doing the same.  The work is with golden painting on the windows, glass enclosures and doors to match the decoration of the office. There are six chairs in ceramic lacquer on the English model of queen Anne. This office served as a room for the office of king Carlos III and later as a music hall for the queen Isabel II with a piano of Collard & Collard, now in the bedroom of the queen.

And the gardens are wonderful indeed. I think the best.

Next to the facade of the Royal Palace there is the lawn garden or Jardin del Parterre ordered built by king Felipe V to the French gardener Bouteloul in 1727 and done in 1746.  On the northern  part you will see the Tajo river and from the bridge or Puente Barcas you see the arches of the Royal Palace that are divided from view by  jars of  flowers , a well, created in 1762 by king Carlos III.

This garden has several fountains amongst them the Fountain of Hercules and Anteo and Ceres and Nereidas. The fountain of Hércules and Anteo, is the most espectacular ordered built by King Fernando VII in 1827.  On the extreme western of the garden you have a small square facing the Royal Palace and you have there the Statues garden or Jardín de las Estatuas, due to its fourteen busts in marble of roman emperors, kings of Spain, and personages from antiquity place in niches on the wall. It is also, known as Kings garden or Jardín del Rey as it was king Felipe II who ordered it built in the second half of the 16C , the garden is enclosed on the south side of the Royal Palace next to the Clock tower  on the renaissance style.  The garden of islands or jardin de las Islas was called as such for been surrounded on three sides by the Tajo river and on the south by an artificial stream, and it is on the north of the Royal Palace.  Its origins go back to the order of Santiago between 1387 and 1409 that was a masters palace build here before the Royal Palace.  When in 1487, king Fernando the Catholic became Master of the Order, the Queen Isabel the Catholic took it for her and became known as the queens garden or Jardín de la Reina. Later on, kings Carlos I and Felipe II decided to change the area into a natural priviledge forested area.

Aranjuez

Jardin de las Islas

You only need to enter the garden over the ramp bridge and you see the fountain of the pharmacist or Fuente de la Boticaria, a circular glass with children with shells and rocks figures . At the back there is the room of the Catholic Kings or Salon de los Reyes Catolicos, a promenade of 300 meters with plantains trees next to the levy of the Tajo river. The fountain or Fuente de Hercules e Hidra is the first to find here after crossing the stream by a small stairs on a pedestal you see the figure of Hercules killing the Hydra. The fountain was ordered built by king Felipe IV  to replace a former fountain dedicated to Diana in the times of king Felipe II. The sculptures on the pedestal around the fountain were purchase by king Felipe V and originally located in the gardens of La Granja (Segovia).  Later moved to the columns at the entrance to the Jardin del Principe by ordered of king Carlos IV and finally are now resting in the Prado museum of Madrid.

The fountain of Apollo or Fuente de Apolo  from the 16C is just next to that of Hercules on a marble pedestal on which center there is a cup with the figure of Apollo with the foot on a dragon; the small square was called previously Puerta del Sol de Aranjuez next to the street or Calle de la Galeria with water  pumps reaching hip high call the Burladero (sort of the barrier where the torero hides in the arena). This walk takes you to the Fuente del Réloj or Watch fountain also known as hours or rings that is in square flank by six benches in stone and the fountain in the middle. When is working the shadows of the water spouts marks the hours of the day! We moved on to the Spines Children fountain or Fuente del Nino de la Espina also known as the spines or witches ordered created by king Felipe III with a round stone and corinthian column in each corner ;in the center there is  there a personnage in stone trying to take a spine out from his left foot.  In each corner of the fountain there is a column on which top there is a figure of an witch throwing water to the center of the fountain of a witch.  The Fountain of Venus or Fuente de Venus is also known as the Fuente de Don Juan de Austria as it is believed the stone was taken from the battle of Lepanto.  It is located in the center of a square with a figure of Venus in bronce trying to dry its hair with the hands; it was sent to Spain from Florence in 1571.

Deeper into the garden you come to the Fuente de Baco, or Bacchus fountain; located in a hexagonal square with stone benches and at the center you see the god Baco, crown with grape branches sitting on a barrel with a wine cup in his right hand. The main body of this fountain was a gift of king Felipe III to the Duke of Florence and designed in marble by Giambologna. It was originally designed to house the Fountain or Fuente de Sanson el Filibustero giving by king Felipe IV to king Charles I of England in 1623 and today it is at the Victoria and Albert museum of London. Since 1656 it is crown by the figure of Baco done by Jacobo Jonglinck. Continue on the walk with the Fountain or Fuente de Neptuno located far from the entrance to the garden, representing god of Neptune done in a shell type thrown by the right hand on two marine horses, around it in four pedestals you have the goddess of Cibeles, and Ceres each with a crown in the form of a castle and carriages thrown by lions held by children. On the third pedestal you have god Jupiter on an eagle over a globe of the world held by titans with the legend written as ” The king his majesty Felipe II ordered made this fountain while governor Don Francisco Brizuela, year MDCXXI = 1621.”
 This jardin de Narciso garden is the most extensive on the Tajo river and Calle de la Reina, in Aranjuez. A perimeter of 7 km and over 150 hectares of which only about half are to be visited. Great varieties of trees, and a dam of stone call Malecon de Solera. It has a port or fortified embarcadero ordered done by king Carlos IV , and very much used during the kings visit to Aranjuez.  It shows a fountain or Fuente de Narciso next to his dog almost fallen off while holding on are four Hercules. It was damaged during the Spanish Civil War and rebuilt in 1827. Continue to the fountain of the swans or Fuente de los Cisnes inspired by the one at La Granja palace (Segovia). It has a stone with two children figures in marble holding a swan from which the peak water comes out. It was damaged in the War of independance (c 1808) partially destroyed but in 2009 there is a renovation done on the figures of the Children and swan. The Apolo fountain or Fuente de Apolo in carrara marble shows the god on the high of the pedestal, ordered by king Carlos IV was not finished until his son king Fernando VII reign. It has a semicircular shape with six columns crown with guardians ducks; on each side two square columns and the statue of Apollo purchased by king Felipe V and located at La Granja (Segovai), king Carlos IV ordered brought to Aranjuez. The current statue in the Jardin del Principe is a replica as the original was sent back to La Granja in 2000.
Aranjuez

jardin del Principe fuente de Apollo

Aranjuez

jardin del principe Fuente de Narciso

The lake or estanque de los Chinescos or shadow plays is an artificial lake with small fence around it on three isles on which there is a temple or kiosk of greek style, other shadow plays and an Egyptian mausoleum in granite. The Greek pavillion is the work of Juan de Villanueva (escorial) with eight columns of ionic order holding the ceiling crown with an pineapple in bronce painted like marble color.  The shadow plays temple was heavily damaged during the War of independance (C 1808) and rebuilt by king Fernando VII as a kiosk on the Turkish style with colorful greens, red, and golden colors. Nearby there is a rollercoaster or Montana Rusa even if the true name is Swiss mountain crowned by a temple in wood from where you have great views of the garden. Finally, on the extreme western part of the garden you have the Casa del Labrador ordered built by king Carlos IV and a great collection of statues and clocks. In this garden , you have pheasants and royal turkeys as well as squirrels and other animals.

The Isabel II garden or Jardin de Isabel II is the last garden to be built in Aranjuez from the 19C when queen Isabel II was still a girl. It is a square garden located next to the Plaza de San Antonio and the Paseo del Brillante,created in 1830, while four years later it was put in the middle on a marble pedestal a bronce statue of the girl queen; it has eight benches in stone and eight flower pots. It is very nice as a last stop before leaving the city.

Aranjuez

jardin Isabel II and statue

 

There you go a nice castle in a nice town of old Madrid, maybe not a love story for you or me but nevertheless its a very romantic place especially in the gardens. Enjoy the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. Happy travels, good health, and many cheers!!!

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April 19, 2018

Another bloody dandy square ,Trafalgar in London!

Ok so we went to London, we have been there a few time , couple times with the family on vacation and several other by me on business trips. London is more as like going back over the pond, but a bit more aristocratic. We love the night life and the free museums but walk so wonderful to walk.

In walking nothing tops going over the big squares and my favorite there is Trafalgar ,so therefore, here is a bit of honor on Mr Nelson.

Trafalgar Square in the neighborhood of Westminster in London is name after the battle of Trafalgar by Cape Trafalgar opposing the French-Spanish navy vs the British in 1805. The square is very lively and we like it. Trafalgar Square is at the intersection of Charing Cross where it connects with  Whitehall (in turns connecting to Parliament Square), The Strand, The Mall (connecting to Buckingham Palace via Admiralty Arch), Cockspur Street ,and  Northumberland Avenue, while on the north the square ends on the Pall Mall extension, and  Duncannon Street.

Other than several embassies  there , you have the National Gallery, one of the most important museum in London and the Anglican Church St Martin-in-the-Fields  built in the 18C on the spot of an earlier Church built in the 13C that was in a field between the City and Westminster.  Many famous people have been buried at St Martin’s including Nell Gwynn, mistress of Charles II , the painters William Hogarth and Joshua Reynolds and the renowned craftsman Thomas Chippendale. There is a statue of king James II in costume of an emperor. In the center of the square there are two fountains one with LED colors. The fountains reduced the open space available for public gatherings and reduced the risk of riotous assembly.

The site of Trafalgar Square had been a significant landmark since the 13C and originally contained the King’s Mews. After George IV moved the mews to Buckingham Palace, the area was redeveloped by John Nash in 1820 designed, but progress was slow after his death, work started in 1829 and the square did not open until 1844, when the northern terrace of the National Gallery was done.  It was in 1842 when Nelson’s Column was erected at 52 meters high and a pedestal of granite, a chapter in bronze and the statue itself of 4.50 meters high representing Admiral Horatio Nelson that lost his life in the battle of Trafalgar.  Nelson faces south, towards Whitehall, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and the River Thames. South west is Admiralty Arch, the entrance to the wide ceremonial drive to Buckingham Palace called The Mall. The monument is surrounded by four sculptures of lions protecting the statue that were added in 1867.  Legend says the lions were done from the metal of the French navy that was defeated by Admiral Nelson and on a high that he can see his navy anchored in Portsmouth.

London

Adm Horatio Nelson column in Trafalgar Square side statue of king Charles I ,National Gallery in back

Anecdotes are a few here are my favorites in this square has the smallest police station in London, a cylindrical building in the southeast corner of the square; these days the police phone box is used as a storage room by the cleaners. Norway always sends a huge Christmas tree that stands in the square, as a token of gratitude for Britain’s help during the Second World war. The tree given is between 60-70 feet tall and is decorated with approximately 500 white lights. If you want to see the lights on the tree switched on, this always happens on the first Thursday in December. In 1876 the Imperial Measures were set into the north terrace wall. Surveyors can still check ‘Perches’, ‘Chains’ and other archaic measures against feet and yards. When the central staircase leading to the National Gallery was added, the measures were relocated to the bottom steps.

In the square there are two plinths for sculptures on the north side of the square. A bronze equestrian statue of George IV originally intended to be placed on top of the Marble Arch was installed on the eastern plinth in 1844, while the other remained empty until the late-20C. There are two other statues on plinths, both installed during the 19C that were later removed. The Gift Horse was installed on the fourth plinth in 2015. It is a model of a horse’s skeleton with a live display of the London Stock Exchange. There are three busts of admirals against the north wall of the square. Those of Lord Jellicoe by Sir Charles Wheeler and Lord Beatty, by William MacMillan were installed in 1948 in conjunction with the square’s fountains, which also commemorate them. The third, of the Second World War First Sea Lord Admiral Cunningham was unveiled alongside them in 1967.  On the south side on the site of the original Charing Cross, is a bronze equestrian statue of Charles I ;it was cast in 1633, and placed in its present position in 1678. The two statues on the lawn in front of the National Gallery are the statue of James II to the west of the portico, and of one George Washington, a replica of a work by Jean-Antoine Houdon, to the east  that was a gift from the Commonwealth of Virginia installed in 1921. For over 150 years the plinth in the north-west corner of Trafalgar Square, commonly known as the ‘Fourth Plinth’, remained empty. It was intended to hold an equestrian statue of King William IV. A failure to gather sufficient funds for its construction meant it was never realized. In 1999 it was decided to use the plinth for the temporary display of modern sculpture.

Nowdays, the square holds several events some of these were used for two sketch portions from BBC’s comedy series named as ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’. ‘Olympic Hide and Seek’ sketch also starts here. It is featured in ‘V for Vendetta’ comic version as the location where V’s met the army and defeated them, without a single fired shot. The Square was also the location of the successful ‘World’s Largest Coconut Orchestra’ on 23 April 2007.  In May 2007, for the campaign by London authorities to promote “green spaces” in the city, the square was grassed over with the 2,000 square meters of turf for two days. In July 2007, a parade was held on the square and concert was arranged for the 60th independence of Pakistan from the British. Besides all these activities every year the Sea Cadet Corps holds a parade in honor of Admiral Lord Nelson and the British victory on the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar (21 October), over the combined fleets of Spain and France at Trafalgar.

London Underground’s  (subway/metro) Charing Cross station on the Northern and Bakerloo lines has an exit in the square. The lines had separate stations, of which the Bakerloo line one was called Trafalgar Square until they were linked and renamed in 1979 as part of the construction of the Jubilee line, which was rerouted to Westminster in 1999. Other nearby tube/metro/subway  stations are Embankment connecting the District, Circle, Northern and Bakerloo lines, and Leicester Square on the Northern and Piccadilly lines. London bus routes 3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 29, 53, 87, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176, 453 all pass through Trafalgar Square.

We came by car , parked by Earl’s Court, and take the tube or double decker buses in, and walk walk a lot with a pint you go further lol!

Some webpages to help you plan your trip and more on Trafalgar square to follow:

Webcam of Trafalgar Square: http://www.camvista.com/england/london/trafsq.php3

More info on Trafalgar Square in the City of London webpage: https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/our-building-and-squares/trafalgar-square?source=vanityurl

Tourist office of London : https://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/place/283774-trafalgar-square

And if you still need more of London, then read this London enthusiast site, many interesting facts are here: https://londontopia.net/

Hope you enjoy the ride on Trafalgar, and do count as seeing it on your next visit to London. Happy travels, good health, and many cheers!!!

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April 18, 2018

The Ducal Palace of Luxembourg!

Another of our favorite countries of Europe, small , pretty , quaint, historical and nice Luxembourg. We have come so many times, and each time we leave wanting to come back.  There, the nostalgic walk over of a palace always brings the best in me. The Ducal Palace of Luxembourg even has a non European as Heads of State in Europe! And the country will surprise many.

The quaint small but very nice Ducal Palace of Luxembourg. I have come here often first back in 1991 , and then very often while living in Versailles, even for lunch runs lol! Now out west much less often , missed it. While vacationing in Germany needed to stop by again in 2015. I love it there, and who knows when back but will dare to say would try harder, it is worth the visit. The city, the country and of course the Ducal Palace are all worth it.  The Grand Ducal Palace, excuse me, is done in the renaissance style of the 16C and its the official residence of the duke of Luxembourg ,chief of State since 1890. It is located not far from the Place Guillaume II.

A bit of history I like:

It was in 1572 that the governor of the Netherlands Spanish ordered the construction of the city hall and it was done in 1573. By 1683 and 1684 the palace had damages due to the bombings of the siege of Vauban. In 1713, Luxembourg becomes an Austrian possession, and work of repairs were done in 1728.  The building call the Balance was added in 1741 and the city hall becomes the seat of the Three States. In 1795, Luxembourg is under French control and the city hall becomes the seat of the prefecture or regional government building of the department of the forest or Département des Forêts. By 1814, it had already become a Grand Duchy and was trusted to the king of the Netherlands, by 1817, the city hall becomes the government house where the governor of the king works. Thanks to the purchase of nearby houses  an annex is added to house the chamber of deputies in 1859.

In 1890 the death without male heir of the king of Netherlands give the Grand Duchy to a distant cousin Grand Duke Adolph, he uses the palace as the resident of the ruler or of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg . To our days the Grand Duke uses the palace as a place of work and rarely as a residence.  It is here that he welcomes the heads of governments or receptions of dinners for the national day when it is welcome about 300 persons.  The Nazis occupied the palace during WWII for cultural and concerts as well as a private club called Schlosschenke. The furniture, jewelry ,and other works of arts were sent to Germany. IN April 14 1945, the Grand Duchesse Charlotte was welcome back by the Luxembourgian from a balcony in the palace. From 1992 to 1996 ,the palace went thru a complete renovation to give it the splendor of the original.

Guided visits are carried out between July and early September every day except Wednesdays from 10h to 17h, it last about 45 minutes. Reservations  and information to be found at the tourist office of Luxembourg LCTO in the place Guillaume II.

 Luxembourg

front entrance Ducal Palace

Luxembourg

Ducal Palace back side

Luxembourg

Ducal Palace walking up to it

 

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here , always a must to read before the trip.

The city of Luxembourg on the Ducal Palace: https://www.luxembourg-city.com/en/place/monuments/grand-ducal-palace

The Tourist office of Luxembourg on the Ducal Palace: https://www.visitluxembourg.com/en/place/castle/palace-of-the-grand-dukes

The Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg constitutes the House of Luxembourg-Nassau, headed by the sovereign Grand Duke,  and in which the throne of the Grand Duchy is hereditary. It consists of heirs and descendants of the House of Nassau-Weilburg,  whose sovereign territories passed cognatically from the Nassau dynasty to a cadet branch of the House of Bourbon-Parma itself a branch of the Spanish Royal House which is agnatically a cadet branch of the House of Capet that originated in France. On 28 July 1987, by grand ducal decree, members of the dynasty assumed the surname “de Nassau” and discontinued use of the princely title and in escutcheon of the House of Bourbon-Parma(the Dukes of which had not consented to the marriages to commoners of the dynasty of their Luxembourg  cadet branch, Prince Charles in 1967 and  hereditary Grand Duke Henri in 1981,  while retaining the style  of Royal Highness. Since the grand ducal decree of 21 September 1995, dynasts who are the children of a Grand Duke or Hereditary Grand Duke hold the titles Prince/Princess of Luxembourg and Prince/Princess of Nassau with the style of Royal Highness.

Shortly after his accession to the throne in October 2000, Grand Duke Henri issued a grand ducal decree conferring upon his eldest son and heir, Prince Guillaume, the title of “Hereditary Grand Duke” and restoring to him the title “Prince of Bourbon-Parma”.  Male line descendants of Grand Duchess Charlotte who are not the children of a Grand Duke or Hereditary Grand Duke are Prince/Princess of Nassau with the style of His/Her Royal Highness. The Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg is the current Grand Duke of Luxembourg. He was born on April 16, 1955. He was married on February 14, 1981 to Maria Teresa Mestre (born in Havana , Cuba) and became Grand Duke when his father, Jean, abdicated on October 7, 2000. Their children are: Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Guillaume born in 1981 ,also Prince of Nassau, and Prince of Bourbon-Parma, married Countess Stephanie de Lannoy in 2012.  Prince Félix of Luxembourg Prince of Nassau born in 1984, and married in 2013 to Claire Margareta Lademacher of which they have a daughter (Amalia b 2014) and son Liam b 2016). Prince Louis de Luxembourg born in 1986 married 2006 to Tessy Antony, he renounced before marriage to succession and later divorced in 2017. Their sons was out of wedlock Prince Gabriel born in 2006 and Prince Noah in 2007 . Princess Alexandra of Luxembourg born in 1991 and Prince Sebastian of Luxembourg born in 1992.

Grand Duchy family in French : http://www.monarchie.lu/fr/famille/index.html

Enjoy the Cinderella country dukedom ,duchy of Luxembourg. I have cruise on it north to south ,west to east by car; lovely. Have a great week you all, happy travels, good health and many cheers!!!

 

 

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April 17, 2018

The Grand Place at Brussels!

I do not know but I love big squares with architecture or historical value. Luckily, Europe is full of them , and in my favorite places, there are just gorgeous. I am in the mood to tell you more about one of my all times favorites. The Grand Place of Brussels, Belgium.

I came to it way back in 1993 for the first time even with my parents in tow, and was magical. My oldest boy was just a year old and already visited France, we took him to Brussels this time. It is easy logistics for us, because the wife oldest brother lives in the north of France near the Belgian border, so we used it as lodging base.

Brussels

Early on 1993 in Grand Place my parents

Brussels

early on Grand Place 1993,P and M

After this early visit, and falling in love with the square, we came back repeatedly over the years, and even to spent Christmas in Brussels! Needless to tell you its one of our favorite countries in Europe.

Ok so enough of nostalgia, let’s talk about the Grand Place.

The Grand Place or Central square is bordered by corporation houses, the city hall and the house of the king.  The facades of the 19C are not always the exact of their construction after 1695. Several times the renovators have information that is not the original such as the mentioned of the king of Spain or without cohesions for the 19C styles. One example is the house of the Star left of the City Hall, the building was demolished to allowed for the enlargement of the street ; later it was rebuilt at the street level with a columns and a pedestrian gallery. The house of the king is a mixing styles of the 19C, the former building had a tragic history and was in bad shape; by the 17C the Archduchess Isabelle had decorated with a dedication to Notre Dame of Peace ,that was not pleasant to the renovators of the 19C; therefore, they replace the building with a new one, taking away all the religious figures and replaced them with political figures.

The history as I like in brief details is as follows:

In the 10C, the dukes of lower Lorraine had built a castle on the Senne island ,the birthplace of Brussels. By the end of the 11C, near the castle they installed an open air market in a dry swamp area with banks of sand which they called inferior market or Nedermerkt in Flemish.  This business district belonging to the church of Saint Nicolas, patron saint of the merchants was in a very important commerce route between Flanders and the Rhineland regions. Early in the 13C they built three markets in the square, one for meats or Great Butchers  ,one for breads and one for linen; these markets belonged to the Duke of Brabant allowing to exposed the goods and controlling the sales to make sure the taxes were paid.

The construction of the City hall in several phases from 1401 to 1455 in the square seat of municipal power responding to the central power symbolize by the Coudenberg palace. Facing the City Hall the power is omnipresent with the bread market taking the name of the House of the King because it was here that you paid your taxes since 1406. Around the square there was built rich houses of merchants and influential corporations mostly in wood but some on stone along the 17C. After the bombing and fires of 1695, the square is rebuilt almost entirely and even prettier.  At the end of the 18C the without britches or sans culotte destroyed almost all the symbols and statues of the old regime and the buildings were transformed as well as renovations in bad taste in addition to the pollution. Under the Burgomaster Charles Buls is progressively restored and rebuilt along the same representation of the reconstruction. . In the center of the square in 1856 there was a monumental fountain commemorating the 50th anniversary of king Leopold I, it was replaced in 1860 by a fountain of the counts of Egmont and Hornes in front of the House of the King. This fountain with statues on top of the counts of Egmont and Hornes  headless at the spot were moved to the area of the petit Sablon, and 30 years later in the Belle Epoque period a music kiosk was built. The market square has preserve its functions as a morning market until November 19 1959. It is still called the Grote Markt in Dutch or Gruute Met in Flemish today.

As said, the City hall was built between 1402 and 1455 and the only witness to the middle ages architectural style in the square today. The house of the king, in the 12C was in wood and bread was sold here; it was replaced in the 15C by a stone building to house the administrative services of the Duke of Brabant or sometimes called the House of the Duke. When the same duke becomes the king of Spain, it change to the house of the king; Charles V ordered built in the gothic style something like the one we can see today. The city had it rebuilt in 1873 in the neo gothic style after the bombings of 1695. The building houses today the Museum of the city of Brussels since 1887.

Each year on the weekend of August 15 the Grand Place is covered with a huge tapestry of flowers about 25×75 meters with over 500K begonias, something to see a must here.

Brussels

Grand Place

Brussels

Grand Place

Brussels

beer museum Grand Place

Brussels

beer museum Grand Place

Brussels

Grand Place

Brussels

City Hall Grand Place

Brussels

Grand Place

Brussels

City Hall Grand Place

A bit more detail on what you will see around the big square or Grand Place.

Between the rue de la Tête d’or , and rue au Beurre on the west side you have the house of the bakers corporation or the House of the King built in 1696. The house has been much change and totally rebuilt in 1901-1902; It has busts of St Aubert, patron Saint of the bakers and king Charles II of Spain.  By No 2-3 you have La Brouette, or the house of the graissiers corporation dated from the 15C , it was rebuilt in 1697 and is decorated with a statue of Saint Gilles, the Patron Saint of the Graissiers who also was restored in 1912. At No 4 you have the Le Sac or House of the cabinetmakers  corporation of which tools decorated the front since the 15C, built in stones in 1644 and rebuilt in 1697. The sculptures are Pierre van Dievoet and Laurent Merkaert.  The inferior part of the Sac has the symbol sculpture in 1644 and left intact as part of the third floor that the restoration began in 1697; and it is here that starts the sculptures of van Dievoet and Merkaert ; very decorative gable with torches and angles vases on top a globe on which there is a compass and on the windows heavy guirlandes of flowers and fruits, a shell, and heads of angels. This house was restored in 1912. Today it houses the house of Belgian master chocolatiers or the La Maison des Maitres Chocolatiers Belges. At No 5 la Louve, or house of the undertaking archers is built in 1690 and on 1696 the façade is rebuilt putting a phoenix born in ashes and coming out of flames symbol of the city reconstruction following the bombing of the city in 1695. The fronton is decorated with an Apollo following the original designs from 1890-1892, the lower reliefs are of Romulus and Remus fed by the she-wolf. At No 6 you have the Le Cornet, or house of the shipbuilders corporation since the 15C rebuilt in 1697. Design as  front of a boat, with sculptures even in the façade; house restored in 1899 to 1902. At No 7 you have Le Renard, or house of the craftmans corporation from the 15C rebuilt in 1699 with allegories from the four continents  and on top a statue of Saint Nicolas, patron Saint of the craftsman’s.

Between the rue Charles Buls ,and the rue des Chapeliers or south side you have at No 8 L’Etoile or House of the Amman rebuilt in 1695, demolished in 1852 and rebuilt in 1897 as an annex to the next house, and the street is rename rue Charles Buls, and a plaque on his honor is place there next to the monument of Everard t’Serclaes. At No 9, le Cygne,(swan) or bourgeois house rebuilt in 1698 with a façade not taken into account the three floors; it was purchased in 1720 by the butcher’s corporation and modified, restored between 1896 and 1904; here the Foundation of the Belgians workers party took place in 1885 and Karl Marx writes his Communist manifesto. At No 10, l’Arbre d’or or the golden tree you have the house of the brewers corporation ;that today is a museum; Dates from 1696 and restored in 1901. Decorated with sculptures and on top an equestrian statue of Charles Alexander of Lorraine put here in 1752 to replace that of Maximilian Emmanuel de Bavaria , governor while the reconstruction of Brussels took place. At No 11 la Rose or private house rebuilt in 1702, and restored in 1901. At no 12 le Mont Thabor, private house rebuilt in 16900 and restored in 1885.

Between the rue des Chapeliers,and the rue de la Colline on the East side, you have at No 12a former 2-4 rue des Chapeliers) the Alsemberg , a private house built in 1699 in blue stone with the mark of the stone cutter. At no 18-19 the house of the Dukes of Brabant, seven houses behind the same façade, modified in 1770 and call as such because of the busts of the Duke of Brabant the decorates it. Restored between 1881 and 1890. At no 13 the La Renommée, No 14 L’Ermitage, no 15 La Fortune, No 16, Le Moulin à vent or the house of the milling makers corporation; No 17 Le Pot d’étain or plomb house ,and it is the house of the carpenters and wheelers makers corporation. At no 18, La Colline or hill ,the house of the four crown corporation (for sculptors, stone cutters, roofmakers, and masonry); No 19 la Bourse or stock exchange.

Between the rue de la Colline and rue des Harengs on the north east side you have at No 20 le Cerf, private house rebuilt in 1710 and restored in 1897; at no 21-22 Joseph and Anne, two private houses in one façade, rebuilt in 1897 from an aquarelle of 1729  of Ferdinand Joseph de Rons. At no 23 L’Ange, private house rebuilt in 1697 and renovated façade from 1897 from older drawings. At no 24-25 La Chaloupe d’or, or house of the stone makers corporation, design in 1697 and with a monumental façade on the northeast side was refused by the neighbors; it has on top the statue of Saint Hommebon de Crémone, Patron Saint of the stonemasons; the bust of Saint Barbara below the entrance door from 1872. At no 2–27 Le Pigeon since the 15C the property of the painters corporation that sold it in 1697 to the stonemason Pierre Simon, the author of the façade; it house Victor Hugo and was restored in 1908. At no 28  Le Marchand d’or a private house rebuilt in 1709 and restored in 1882.

Between the rue Chair et Pain and the rue au Beurre on the northwest side you have at no 34 Le Heaume, private house ,restored in 1920. At no 35, Le Paon, style of houses of the 18C restored in 1882.  At no 36-37 Le Petit Renard or Le Samaritain et Le Chêne , two houses dating from 1696 and restored in 1884-1886. At No 38 Sainte Barbe (Santa Barbara) private house built in 1696. At No 39, L’Âne private house restored in 1916.

You have plenty of ammunition to come visit this place; gorgeous all around if busy very popular and the side streets are humming with restos ;bars; cafes and shops galore. To help you plan your trip and read more of it, here are some webpages.

webcams of the Grand Place : http://www.ilotsacre.be/images/virtualvisit/grand_place-grote_markt.htm

360 degrees view of the Grand place in English: http://cuicui.be/belgium-brussels-grand-place/

City of Brussels on the Grand Place: https://www.brussels.be/grand-place-brussels?_ga=2.77125333.1193796075.1523960972-1438831985.1523960972

Unesco on the Grand Place: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/857/

Brussels heritage site on the Grand Place in French: http://patrimoine.brussels/decouvrir/patrimoine-international-a-bruxelles/la-grand-place-de-bruxelles

Tourist office of Brussels on the Grand Place: https://visit.brussels/en/place/Grand-Place

Enjoy the ride or walks the best way to see a city. Have a great week you all, happy travels, good health, and many cheers!

 

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April 17, 2018

The Royal Palace of Madrid, Palacio Real de Madrid!

Let me take you back to my Spain, always memories and wonderful times of old and new. When I lived in the city going to the Royal Palace was a treat, coming from Quintana working class neighborhood. We had no money to go in back then in the old regime.  It took me to leave Madrid and Spain , spent some years in America; and finally come back to it in 1990 to see it inside. It was a treat I will always cherished for me and for the fact that I was there with my girlfriend , today wife of 27 years!!! and 3 wonderful young men.!!!

Oh yes this is the Palacio Real or Palacio de Oriente as some locals might call it.  I have written bits of it in other posts on Madrid (too many to mention, just search in my blog) ,but decided to do one for it alone. After all, it is all worth it me think. Therefore ,here is my story on it.

It is the official resident of the king of Spain even if only uses it for protocole functions and the rest is open to the public as a museum. Located in the Plaza de Oriente, right along Calle Bailén with metro Opera station lines 2 and 5 , as well as Bus lines 3, 25, 39 and 148.  The walk from Puerta del Sol takes approximately 15 minutes. The current king Felipe VI and queen Letizia and children live in the Palacio de Zarzuela. The Zarzuela palace was built in the 17C by king Felipe IV about a dozen km from city center Madrid to served as a residence for hunting and pleasure. You can find out more of the Palacio de la Zarzuela at El Pardo webpage in Spanish here: http://www.elpardo.net/palacio-de-la-zarzuela/

The current Royal Palace was built between 1738 and 1755 on orders of king Felipe V and lived by the king Charles III in 1764. The Royal Palace was built on the site of the former Royal Alcazar fortress destroyed by fire in 1734, and the king wanted to rebuilt it at the same spot to mark the continuity of the Spanish monarchy.

Madrid

court parvis back of Royal Palace

Madrid

left side of court parvis back of Royal Palace

Madrid

on Calle de Bailén Royal Palace

Madrid

gates back court parvis from Cathedral Almudena

In 1735, he call upon Filippo Juvarra, considered at the time the best architect in Europe to Madrid. Juvarra suggest a huge castle  with four courts to allow housing the Royal family, aristocracy, ministers, and necessary services of the palace sort of like the work done in the Chateau de Versailles. However, Juvarra died in 1736 before the palace work was to begin so the king call upon a disciple of Juvarra, that was working since 1736 in the La Granja Royal Palace near Segovia, another Italian name  Giovanni Battista Sacchetti with instructions to minimize the cost of construction. Sacchetti suggest a palace with one court that is approved in 1737 and he is name architect of the palace in 1738. He worked there with the help of Ventura Rodriguez( amongst his work is the Royal palace of Aranjuez) , and Francesco Sabatini (that designed the wing that gives out to the street Calle de Bailén ,stables, and imperial stair) , and the garden by his name as well as Fray Martin Sarmiento with the Marquis de Balbueno as treasury administrator of the construction.

 

Madrid

Entrance to Jardines de Sabatini

The building was to be square around a huge court and done with granite, white stone of Colmenar and marble for the details. The building is higher on the façade on the street with three floors, it has an interior floor and two with windows link by a colossal ionic stone; a large cornice with a baluster on top the superior area. The façade to the garden has a lowering position with lots of windows. The Royal palace is one of the biggest in all of western Europe after that of the Louvre, taking about 135K square meters and having 2800 rooms with 50 open to the public!! On its three floors and three mezzanines under the ceiling of each floor. The facades measure about 130 meters on the side for 33 meters high; and has 870 windows and 240 balconies that open ups over the facades or to the patio. It ,also, has 44 stairs and more than 30 main salons or big rooms.

Worth mentioning me think, the statues of the Visigoths kings that decorate the Plaza de Oriente were to be put up in the Palace above roof but been too heavy with the risk of falling, they were put in the square now. The main elements you should look for when visiting are the Throne room or Salon del Trono, also called Salon del Besamanos or kissed hands room as it is here where the reverence to the king are done. The patio and gate of the prince or Puerta del Principe, the area living of king Charles III (Carlos III); the hall of mirrors or Salon de los Espejos; The columns room or Salon de las Columnas; the room of Halbardiers or alabarderos; the Porcelains room or Saleta de Porcelana; Royal Chapel or  Capilla Real; and the Royal armory or Real Armeria.

The Royal Palace is richly decorated with portraits done by painters such as Goya, Velazquez, El Greco, Pierre Paul Rubens, Tiepolo, Mengs, and le Caravage. Several Royal collections of great historical significance are also in the Royal Palace including the Royal Armory with weapons and armor dating from the 13C, and the world’s biggest collection of Stradivarius, as well as collections on tapestries, porcelain, furniture, and other works of arts of great importance. Starting in 1636, the Flemish painter Frans Snijders painted several potraits of hunting scenes for king Felipe IV to be put in the hunting pavilion of the tower of Parada and the Royal Palace.

The change of the Royal guard in the Royal Palace is done every Wednesday from October to July and at 11h; need to check before going as this can be change without notice due for official acts or weather conditions.

You have two gardens around the Royal Palace, these are the  Campo del Moro (moors) on the west and Manzanares river, and the Jardines of Sabatini on the north of the Royal Palace next to it. The Royal Palace is bordered on the east by the Plaza de Oriente separated by the Calle de Bailén; on the south or Armories you have the wings of the Palace; on the south of this square you have the Cathedral of the Almudena,one of Madrid’s patron Saint.

To help you plan your visit here is the official site of the Royal Palace by the National Heritage Monument organization. http://www.patrimonionacional.es/real-sitio/palacio-real-de-madrid

And from Madrid tourist office;  https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/royal-palace

And for a closer look at the Spanish Royal Family here is the official link: http://www.casareal.es/ES/Paginas/home.aspx

The current king of Spain, Felipe VI:  name as his Majesty the King, Don Felipe de Borbón y Grecia,(Bourbon and Greece) is the third child of the former kings Don Juan Carlos and Doña Sofía. Born in Madrid January 30 1968 in the clinic of our Lady of Loreto. He was baptized with the names of Felipe, Juan, Pablo ,and Alfonso of All Saints in memory of respectively, the first Bourbon that reigned over Spain (grandson of Louis XIV of France and born in Versailles, Felipe V); of his paternal grandfather chief of the Royal House of Spain, of his maternal grandfather king of Greece,and of his great grandfather Don Alfonso XIII, king of Spain. His godparents were his grandfather Royal Highness Don Juan de Borbón, Count of Barcelona, and his great grandmother king  Victoria Eugenia. Curiosities of life, the current pretender to the throne of France as legimirate king Louis XX is named Alfonso also a Bourbon and born in Madrid. The current king’s Father Juan Carlos is a cousin of queen Elizabeth II of UK, and great (or is it another great ) Grandson of queen Victoria of UK, nephew of Emperor Frederick II of Germany and 5th in line to the throne of France ! blue blood….

Hope you enjoy the bits of history here, and a fine tradition I like. Have a great week with plenty of happy travels, good health ,and many cheers!!!

 

 

 

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April 16, 2018

Some news from France CLXXXVIIII

And we have Mondays, well if we didn’t then we we will have Tuesdays so let life goes on as plan and do not think so much about it, it is what it is,another day on Earth. Enjoy it. We have sunshine today and temps up to 13C  or about 58F no rain and it seems Spring is starting to show up this week.

Let me bring you up today on some goodies in my belle France and especially on the most beautiful city in the world, Paris.

Let’s off with the bike network of Paris , Vélib has a new management firm starting this year and apparently is causing some misfortunes already. We do not want a traffic jam on bikes lol!!  Paris already has 661 stations out of a planned 1400 already but many of them find themselves empty, bikes that cannot be removed, and very bad customer service. The new management company Smovengo had promise to make an additional 200 operational by January… is under pressure. Well I imagine from whom!  More info and map here: Velib stations map in Paris

And bike or not, you will be able to to to a library in Paris on a Sunday. The first one was the library or médiathèque Edmond Rostand (17éme), and there are other  7 libraries that will open normally from 13h to 18h . The objective is to have an additional 10 open by 2020. The current list of open libraries on Sundays are  Médiathèque Marguerite Duras – 115, rue de Bagnolet (20éme) Bibliothèque du cinéma François Truffaut – Forum des Halles – 4, rue du cinéma (Iéme).this one from 12h to 19h. Médiathèque Marguerite Yourcenar – 41, rue Alleray (15éme) ;Médiathèque Françoise Sagan – 8, rue Léon Schwartzenberg (10éme ); Médiathèque de la canopée La Fontaine – 10, passage de la Canopée (Iéme). from 12h to 18h. Médiathèque Hélène Berr – 70, rue Picpus (12éme)  ;Médiathèque Edmond Rostand – 11, rue Nicolas Chuquet (17éme). Happy readings!

Did I said , Paris has it all; well here it is in next two paragraphs.

They open a naturist space in the bois de Vincennes (12éme) since last Saturday in more than  7 300 m2, between the allée Royale ,and the route Dauphine.  The area is not close, but just a panel indicating « entrée » or entrance and other panels in wood indicating «You are entering into a space for natural nudity is authorise».  The city of Paris is allowing a period of 6 months from April 14 to October 24 2018. There is even an event to visit the Palais de Tokyo on May 5 2018 totally nude and already for 160 spaces the city has received 30 000 requests!!! according to the nudist association of Paris or the Association des naturistes de Paris.

And if the above do not crack you up then hold on for this one.  Hundreds of prostitutes came out on the street protesting the fines incur by the clients!!! Coming together at the wonderful explicit place Pigalle , historical neighborhood of the prostitution in Paris on a call from their syndicate = union , the  Syndicat du travail sexuel (Strass).  The law came into effect April 13 2016 where a client asking for favors to a prostitute can be fined if caught 1500 euros ,and if repeat offender  3750 euros. So I guess not enough clients because of the law ::)

In a more mundane news you have the Carrefour starting something unique.  Walk in drive in for pedestrians to their stores one of them I know at Bio Fondary, 3, rue Fondary ,15éme and plan about 9 others all over Paris. No need for car drive in, now you can walk in yourselves….! This is already happening in other cities such as Lyon and Saint Etienne. At Lyon, you have them at avenue de Saxe and a Carrefour City Renan Jean-macé. Source Le Parisien newspaper

Infographie WEB carrefour

 

A historical hotel is back, built in 1925, the Hotel Madison is only steps from the statue Diderot by a corner in the boulevard Saint-Germain. An Art Déco architecture in one of the most bohemians neighborhoods of Paris. Jean Cocteau  like very much this place where he came often for a last glass while Albert Camus  lock himself always at room 65  to finalize the writing of his novel the Foreigner or L’étranger. This room is open up to the Church Saint-Germain-des-Prés, on the side of nave, with light cloths small size with a bed of 160 cm rectangular pillow with golden cords and a light luminosity. The renovation done recently allows to create 14 communicating rooms and 12 triple rooms.  The hotel puts at the reach of their young clientele small boats like those seeing in the jardin du Luxembourg that you can use there too or a pedal automobile in house.Located at  143, bd Saint-Germain, tél. +33(0) 1.40.51.60.00 ;More info here: Hotel Madison Paris

Something new and nice from A Canadian in Paris. The roaste chicken with cauliflower is very good indeed, done by the Canadian chef Noam Gedalof (had experience with Thomas Keller in California, Pascal Barbot in Paris) and his wife Etheliya Hananova a sommelier and daughter of Russian restaurant immigrants to Canada.  Also, Joris Garcia, the sommelier from Canada as well. Etheliya was a lyrics singer before becoming a sommelier of wines! See them try them at  Comice, 31, avenue de Versailles, 16éme Tel +33 (0) 1.42.15.55.70. My kind of neighborhood! Open for lunch Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and dinners Tuesdays to Saturdays. Menu: 46€, and 80€ (Lunch), 120€ (dinner).  A la Carte about 84€ for three dishes. More here: Comice Paris

Another find is this new place in the new “Brooklyn area of Paris”, the Pantin. My first entry point to Paris back in 1990.  On an old flour factory from 1923, and a beautiful architectural surrounding purchased by a branch of BNP Paribas bank, today housing offices,but, however, you can eat here wonderfully good. A bistrot next to the Canal! Bistrot Des Grands Moulins 1 5, 3, rue du Général Compans – Pantin. Near REC C Gare de Pantin on the other side of the Canal de l’Ourcq.nice More here: Bistrot des Grands Moulins

Now something do not write enough, but you know if read my blog from where I grew up and diplomas on wine. A passion with a cellar to look over…

Each year more than 8 billion bottles of wine is produce in my belle France, with as many choices on the market!!! literally ! Therefore, how to choose to put in your cellar?  This is the 8B question, and very personal I must said from experiences ,even tutoring with the Rothschild!  The keeping of the wine must be done to improve its attributes, the texture, taste and aromas ; more than be keep the wine improves. You can keep to have souvenirs of a moment done in a span of life always trying to improve the quality of the wines are many reasons to have a cellar for keeps. Now, even here we differ, I know m any friends who had kept their wines for 30 years (even my father in law here lol!) ; however, this is too much to dwell on in my opinion. I usually buys my wines knowing that at maximum will be kept for five years in my cellars. Unless, it is a purchase for a special occassion. For instance, it is a French tradition to buy a wine from the year your child is born, and wait until 18 to open the bottle so we did with our sons with Mouton-Rothschild first wine.

After all, we notice that about only 1% of the wines are worth conserving , more reason to have a well chosen cellar or cave in your house (and be sure it is a cellar not a basement).  We all know that the tannins are known to preserve the alive wines such as the Reds like the high labels of Bordeaux because they have the tendancy to keep their tannins longer and more of it.  The same can be said of the wines with high sugar content such as the sweet white wines that helps in avoid the deterioration; therefore , the more the white wine is sweet the more it will aged; that is why the liquorous wines lilke the Sauternes are known to aged well. In a general sense, the red wines aged better than the whites, however some types of white wines like those with Chardonnay or Rieslings of high labels can last as long.

The millésime of the wine is the date in which the grapes are harvest and not the year of which the wine is sold.  It is important to look at the best millésimes years to put in your cellar, and even more so on the name of the producer not the label but who makes the wine. Generally, if the year of harvest is bad the wine will not aged as much, but this can extended if handle by a good producer. The hot days together with cool nights all contribute to developed the aromatic potential, the maturity, and the acidic vivacity of the grape aiding the wine aged better.

What wine to drink with strawberries. I say this because this is the season here and the fraises or strawberries look delicious as well as one of my favorite fruits. In a sorbet, salad, tartelette or even a salted recipe the red fruits are perfumy, and acidic sweet;the ideal to accompany this is a Muscat grape dry or sweet depending on the preparation of the fruit.  In a general sense, the white wines perfumy, light, pure, and young are the perfection for the aromatic intensity of the fruit.  If you do a tartelette of Strawberries then a sparkling white or sweet white will do; a strawberry salad with mint than a muscat rosé, and on a strawberry sorbet especially if a bit of sugar on top then the best is the Champagne rosé. Enjoy it all!!!

On another angle or different thing, we have the former Royal Manufacture of coins and medals open to the public and welcoming families. This is the manufacture royale des monnaies et médailles. You can discover the history of the treasury and the French institution the oldest founded in 864AD by king Charles the Bald.  This is the last factory of Paris and today houses the manufacture and a museum. You come to the entrance and go up a stair to the first floor (US 2fl) and see the exposition room, the shops of cutting, the Grand Monnayage or foundary where the workers did their job behind glass windows. A bit further, you stop at the manufacturing room before lots of machines that tell you the route of the fabrication of the coins and medals.  There are even tours for families to show the children. Manufacture Royale des Monnaies et Médailles de Paris, 11, quai de Conti (6éme). Tuesdays to Fridays 14h to 16h check schedule and hours please. More info here in English/French: Monnaie de Paris

Another nice conversion building in Paris. The BETC agency in charge to erase the frontiers between the artists and the amateurs has created a space where all can be borrowed such as works of art for a few weeks, and show them elsewhere  following the rules of the original artists.  To this it was chosen a nice piece of history of Paris, the Magasins Généraux, once the favorite of graffitti people until 2016 the BETC renovated the building; today it offered a lot of free events and organised by the CNEAI and MediaLab93.  You can visit here the Le Poste Général, that is accessable for all. See it enjoy it by the Pantin, the new Brooklyn of Paris ::) Le Centre National Edition Art et Image – Les Magasins Généraux 1, rue de l’Ancien Canal – Pantin. More in French here: Magasins Généraux Paris

Something beefy to close out this post, is the story of Hippopotamus chain of Restaurants. Early on in my French rounds, I ate a lot in them with the family but always the same sentiments these are not good steakhouses. Then, in 2017 ,they were purchase by the groupe Bertrand (owner of many resto chains and franchiser for Burger King France). The chain Hippopotamus has a new menu and decoration with cow leather seat buckets and all you can eat french fries as well as the sauces.  The interior is already more pleasant to be in with a good ambiance with a ranch hipster look. The food the burgers are ok, and the steaks are the biggest seen here. More on the restos here and you can find your closest by going to Nos Restaurants center upper page. Hippopotamus Restaurants

The groupe Bertrand is here on restauration you can see the chains of restos and on Hotellerie ,the chains of hotels. In French: Groupe Bertrand

 

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