May 21, 2018

The outer Paris for business and pleasure!

As you might know Paris is a small city, and only about 2,2M(2014 INSEE)  folks; the reason it looks so big is that normally they include all the metropolitan area that grows to more than 7M (2014 INSEE) folks. The metro area is small too only about 105 square km or about 41 square miles. However, outside the boulevard périphérique or beltway road of Paris there is another world and it is great too.

The grand Hauts-de-Seine dept 92 is full of beautiful town and chic neighborhoods. I have been lucky to have been able to see the outer Paris. Once worked in Suresnes a wonderful town, and have my World HQ company in La Défense on a new tower Carpe Diem where I make my regular runs all year around. So let me tell you a bit about these two 92émes cities! Suresnes and La Défense (not a city per se as it is an agglomeration of several cities).

Let me give you my previous posts on these two places for reference on what to see as tourist.

Suresnes memories of always

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/10882

La Défense business or pleasure

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/1336

Let me tell you that Suresnes is in the department Hauts de Seine 92 in the Ile de France region sitting on the left bank of the Seine river and part of the overall Metropole of Grand Paris and the territory west of La Défense. It is surrounded by Puteaux and Nanterre on the north, Saint Cloud on the south, Rueil Malmaison on the west and Paris on the east.

The transportation here is dense but fluid and never a traffic jam. The current bridge dates from 1950 and has 30 meters long; there are levies first ones appeared in 1864-1869, and others followed in 1880 and 1885 to improve river traffic between Paris and Rouen in Normandy. Next to the levies ,there was the basin of Saint Cloud-Suresnes on the limits of two bridges by same name and was used to test hydroplanes before today gives way to the practice of nautical sports such as motonautic, ski nautique and wakeboard.

Suresnes

levies and sliding bridge over the Seine river from Suresnes to bois de Boulogne

There is a good train station here on Gare de Suresnes-Mont Valérien on the line L of the Transilien coming out of Paris Saint Lazare train station ,very familiar to me. There is also a line 2 of the tramway that I ,also, got to test on the station Suresnes-Longchamp , and Belvédère both very crowded nowdays; there are ,also several bus lines passing by here such as the no 93, 141, 144, 157, 160, 175, 241, 244, 360, 544, and 563 of RATP and the night line N53 of Noctilien. Driving from Porte Maillot take the N185 road (allée de longchamp) thru the Bois de Boulogne and cross the Seine river at the D1/D785 pont de Suresnes into blvd Henri Sellier. When I came from Versailles by car, I took several options depending on the traffic news.

A bit of history on Suresnes.

The name of the town comes from the Latin Surisnce.  By 918AD Charles the  Simple gave the domain to count of Paris, Robert I and the abbot of Saint Germain des Prés. By 1593, king Henri IV of France had his conferences here in from of the Catholic from the Royal army and the League. In 1844, the ruins of the abbey of the congregation of priest of the calvary were been rebuilt to have the Fort of Mont Valerien (today still a military compound)  and making it as well a place of religious place. In 1914, the WWI starts and Suresnes becomes one of the places to produce ammonition and rockets. During WWII, the fort of Mont Valerien was occupied by the nazis and was the theater of many executions ,more than 1000. From 1941 to 1944, the Catholic priest Franz Stock accompany the prisioners to their last wish and on 1942 the writer and resistant fighter Jacques Decour (Daniel Decourdemanche) died for France on the firing wall executed by the nazis The Mémorial de la France Combattant du Mont Valerien is today  a place of pilgrimage; each year on June 18  the President of France comes here for the commemoration. In 1974 it was held here the 26th Congress of the Spanish workers socialists party (PSOE) then in exile from dictator General Franco in Spain.

Webpage on the memorial of Mont Valerien. Memorial of Mont Valerien

Suresnes

cross of Lorraine and Memorial to French resistance at Mont Valerien

Suresnes

memorial to French resistance Mont Valerien

Things to see in Suresnes:

The Notre Dame de la Paix Chuch, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Notre Dame  de la Salette Chapel, Saint Leufroy Chapel, Saint Louis Chapel, and Fort du Mont Valerien Chapel. Here at the Mont Valérien you see the fortress, mémorial of France Combattant, and the American cemetery of Suresnes; You ,also see the Terrace of Fécheray with a view of Paris and La Défense, best view of Paris from here in my opinion.  There is recenlty as 2013 a new Museum of Urban and social history of Suresnes in the old train station of Suresnes-Longchamp   Showing the evolution of the city from the 1920-1930.  IT has 7 sequences that the visitor cand discover on its past from religious to military, as wel as the agriculture history of the city with its many factories. On the first floor, you have the story on the person of Henri Sellier, mayor of Suresnes from 1919 to 1941 showing his devotion to the city and the urban projects such as the cité jardins etc. More here on the museum: Museum of Urban Social History

American Cemetery of Suresnes: American Cemetery of Suresnes

Suresnes

in front of American cemetery lookout to Paris

Not to mention,and along an anecdote to come here are the wines of Suresnes and its festival of the grape on each October as well as the Confrérie du vin or wine brotherhood. The vineyards here were cultivated on the lands of Couvaloux,  Bons Raisins, and Pas Saint Maurice. You can buy the wines at the tourist office always. Tourist office on the wine in French: The vineyards of Suresnes

Now I go not far to La Défense

La Défense  is a business district located in the metropole of the Grand Paris in the region of Île de France, the first in Europe by its inventory of offices buildings.  It is located in the north west  of Paris  in the department of Hauts de Seine no 92 and the territory of the cities of Puteaux, Courbevoie, Nantes and La Garenne-Colombes . It is on the historical axis that starts at the Louvre palace and continues avenue des Champs-Elysées  Arc de Triomphe and onwards to the Pont de Neuilly and the Grande Arche de la Défense.  The opening in 1981 of the shopping mall Les Quatre Temps made a strong impact on the area and we enjoyed always there; more here: Les 4 temps shopping Mall

La Défense

grande arche de la Défense

The neighborhoods of the La Défense has connection from the boulevard circulaire or beltway to the interior and exterior on a one way basis. It is large of 160 hectares and divided into four sectors such as Arche Nord, Arche Sud, Esplanade Nord , and Esplanade Sud.  The neighborhood is surrounded around a huge pedestrian square of 31 hectares, surrounded by works of arts. The circulation is around the autoroute A14 reaching La Défense by two exits one at Courbevoie and the other at La Garenne-Colombes (road D992) and another onwards to Puteaux and Nanterre (913). There is an underground city and on transports it has even a bus terminal reaching all parkings  with many transports choices including metro line 1 ,RER A Tramway 2 ,the express lane bus Express A14, many bus lines, night bus N24. Here I have come by train tramway and car. Trains from Rive Droite in Versailles or Saint Lazare in Paris, and tramway line 2 from Suresnes or by car along the Seine river D7 road.

A bit of history I like

The idea took thought in 1766 when Jean Rodolphe Perronet gives a road from his tower to mark the continuation of the Champs-Elysées with a prospective from the hill of Roule (future Place Charles de Gaulle /Arc de Triomphe) ,and the first houses of Neuilly  this road had the name of Chemin des Cours, and going to the hill of Chantecoq. At this location, it was designed a round square modeled after the Place de l’Etoile that was name Place de l’Etoile Chantecoq on whch an obelisk was placed of 40 meters  high. When the siege of Paris in 1870-71, the round square of Courbevoie was fortified and here was defended by the marching 19th regiment in 1870 after the Prussian show up in Malmaison. The round point became an obligatory passage of the French troops when preparing for the battle of Buzenval in 1870 and later in 1871. After the battle of Courbevoie in 1871, and during the uprisings of Paris, the troops from Versailles came to hold here than fired upon the pont de Neuilly held by the volunteers of the French National Guard.

The urban revival of the area was and is huge.  The first generation towers all identical with a base of 42 by 24 meters and a height of 100 meters was done in 1966 by the Tour Nobel ; early in the 1970’s the second generation towers came into being with towers of more than 100K square meters such as the Tour Fiat (today call Areva) at 184 meters high and 44 floors. IN 1970, the gare de la Défense was opened with the RER A. Later the third generation towers came to be on a more economical model.  Narrower and lower such as the Tour Pascal, tour Voltaire, and on the neighborhoo of MIchelet. On a contest started in 1982, the Grande Arche de la Défense see its day as well as hotels, CNIT renovated, and the extension of line  1 of the metro opened in 1992 making Paris closer.

Today, La Défense is the first Business district of Europe! New towers are going up such as the T1 at 185 meters and Tour Granite at 184 meters,and also the biggest Tour First at 231 meters is the highest skyrise in France. Many government services are moved here such as the environment ministry, and territorial ministry house in the Grande Arche, Tour Seguoia and Tour Pascal. At the side of the city of Courbevoie, you have  the tour D2 opened in 2015, Carpe Diem opened in 2103 and since early 2017 our world headquarters for my company.  Tour Majunga done in 2014

By this year, there will be two towers of more than 200 meters such as the tour First ,Sisters, and Air, 20 towers of more than 150 meters and 46 towers of more than 100 meters. Taken a look from the bridge or Pont de Neuilly you have the crossroads of the pont de Neuilly a busy road  to make for the exits from the autoroute A14 the boulevard Circulaire (beltway) and the quays on the Seine river  crossed by an open air ride on the metro line 1. The Basin Takis on the extreme east of the parvis with a great view of Neuilly-sur-Seine and Paris (historical axis and tour Eiffel). There is even a small vineyard there the Clos de Chantecoq on the border of the parvis. The Esplanade on the historical axis with trees and benches on a narrow passage way; then you come to the Place de la Défense on the circle and surrounded by the towers Ariane, Opus 12, Coeur Défense, etc) a very busy intersection by on foot folks and you find the information bureau and the museum of La Défense. The parvis itself is a huge space surrounded by the Grande Arche de la Défense , CNIT ,the shopping center Les 4 temps and underneath the exchange knot for public transports, huge underneath with tramway bus ,metro and RER ; and on top the place for the Christmas market ; all surrounded by nice streets such as the Place des Saisons, place Jean Millier (where the towers Total and Areva are), and the cours Valmy.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here,and ask me if doubts.

News on La Défense : https://www.ladefense.fr/en

Non official but better La Défense in French : http://defense-92.fr/

The Grande Arche de la Défense in English : https://www.lagrandearche.fr/en/

Hauts de Seine tourist office on La Défense : https://www.tourisme92.com/la-defense.html

This is the tourist office for the region of ïle de France covering both places as well

Ile de France tourist office

There you go an alternative to Paris proper is to go shopping at Les 4 Temps huge mall, then eat at one of the many restaurants in the parvis and esplanade and walk with an eye view from the Grande Arche de la Défense ito the Arc de Triomphe and all the way tot he Arc du Carrousel. You can then climb above the Grande Arche for spectacular views of Paris. A good day with the family indeed.

Hope it helps your planning; like I said, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all! Tomorrow back to work lol!!!

 

May 20, 2018

The one two punch of Dinan and Dinard in Brittany of course!!!

On a nice Sunday afternoon, and after doing some gardening in the house, and a wonderful ongoing Pentecost weekend, I  decided to mix two towns again. Why, because, they sound alike and many folks think are the same or close by , indeed they are in the region of Brittany but in two different departments/states/provinces.  I like to remind you of these two jewels of our region, Dinan and Dinard.

As an introduction, let me give you my previous posts in my blog on them here:

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2015/03/08/dinan-valley-of-the-rance-and-crossroad-of-brittany/

 https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2015/04/06/the-villa-city-by-the-sea-next-to-the-big-harbor-of-malo-this-is-dinard/

This is the beauty and diversity I have around me, and time for many to come on over , this is a gorgeous region; and if you are into the sea, the goodness of the produce from it and history, then by all means come to Brittany or Bretagne or Breizh.

Dinan is in the department 22 Côtes d’Armor in the region of Brittany, part of the cities of the Poudouvre traditional Breton country. It is a fortified town with ramparts defended by a castle ,strategic point between Normandy and north of Brittany. The city of  Dinan  was built mainly on a hill and the old town dominates from about 75 meters the Rance river that flows to the north into the Manche between Saint Malo and Dinard. The name of Dinan comes from two Celtic words, Dun meaning a high hill and ahna a protective goddess of the living and keeper of the dead.

Brief history I like. In 1357 the war of succession of the duchy of Brittany joined Bertrand du Guesclin and his brother Olivier to defend the city from the English and Bretons loyal to Jean de Monfort. They face Thomas de Cantenbury in a single combat and were victorious. In 1364, after many attempts the duke John IV takes control of the city and had built a donjon known as the Duchess Anne. The fortifications of the city were modernised in the second half of the 15C with the addition of several artillery towers.  A long relatively calm period followed and to note in WWII, by August 2 1944 the 6th Armored Division USA reaches Dinan, heavily guarded by the nazis it takes them to get around it and later come back on August 6 with the 802nd Tank Destroyer Battalion to liberated the city.

Things to see in Dinan

The city has a wonderful old town fortified and a large area from the harbor and the neighborhood of the Rue Saint Malo covering 90 hectares (222 acres) or almost a quarter of the city. The rue du Jerzual, the hill most famous in Dinan that connects the port harbor to city center/downtown with a difference in height of  75 meters a slope of  35 % . Glad I had a car lol!

Huge amount of sights including many mansions , some of my favorites are:

The castle or Donjon Duchesse Anne, part of the 2600 meters of ramparts walls. Saint Malo Church, end 15C to end 19C ,gothic and renaissance style with beautiful stained glass from early 20C, English organ, polychrome pipes built in 1889 ;the French revolution destroyed the Church and it was rebuilt and given back to the Catholic cult in 1803; The clock tower or tour de l’Horloge, from the 15C and 45 meters high, still has the bell given by the Duchesse Anne in 1498; the convent of the Cordeliers from the 13C and buildings now dating from the 15C, it held the estates general of Brittany in 1573 , and 1634 convent restored in the 19C and now houses a private school; Basilica of Saint Sauveur built from the 12C was never completed and it houses the cenotaph of the heart of the constable Du Guesclin. Done in the Gothic, classic, and baroque style of construction, with a nice portal from the 12C; the train station or gare de Dinan built in 1931 with ceramic mosaics maps inside showing the railroad lines and a map of the city of Dinan; the station is built in the neo Breton style of Ar Seiz Breur.

Dinan

Saint Malo Church

Dinan

basilica Saint Sauveur

Dinan

Castle of Dinan

Dinan

Tour de l’Horloge

The city is rich in museums and we like many but these are the best in my opinion:

The museum castle of Dinan, rue du Château ,history of Dinan from antiquities to now decorative arts, fine arts and religious art. Tour de l’Horloge, rue de l’Horloge f or a tour up 45 meters and the bell of Anne de Bretagne., and Musée Remember 1939-1945 , at 16 rue du Pont de la Haye, showing about 6000 items from cigarette boxes to airplane engines, artillery, uniforms, vehicles, and reconstruction of a blockhaus and history of the resistance in the area.

Some additional webpages to help you plan your visit to wonderful Dinan

City of Dinan on sights in French: http://www.dinan.fr/8/decouvrir

Tourist office of Dinan in English: https://www.dinan-capfrehel.com/

Tourist office for the North Brittany (Côte d’Armor) on Dinan in English: https://www.north-brittany-tourism.com/Explore/Iconic-sites-in-North-Brittany

Tourist office of Brittany: http://www.brittanytourism.com/discover-our-destinations/saint-malo-mont-saint-michel-bay/unmissable-sites/dinan

Dinard  is in the department 35 of Ille et Vilaine in the region of Brittany ; it is a beach town and well visited by British and Americans for its wonderful villas of the belle époque period and the British Film Festival held here since 1990. The official name of the city change from been Saint Enogat until 1879 to Dinard-Saint Enogat until 1921 and finally Dinard since then. It is located in the Côte d’Emeraude on the limits with the department 22 Côtes-d’Armor and the city of Saint Malo where the Rance river makes the separation. Not far, you have the Anglo Normand islands that can be reach in one hour fast speed from Saint Malo or in a few minutes by plane from the Dinard-Pleurtuit-Saint Malo airport (already had British friends visiting me here going this route by plane).

The British film festival still going strong ;more here: https://www.festivaldufilm-dinard.com/en/home-en/

A bit of brief history I like. Dinard is link to the legend of king Arthur as it is told he landed here in 513AD to built a fort ,and the name of the town comes from a etymology of Fort d’Arthur.

One of the first discoverers of the city was William Faber an American aristocrat that had visited the city and felled in love with it so decided to stayed and built the mansion on the pointe du Moulinet, with small terraces that were shown to his Anglophone friends of Dinan and become the origins of the British community of Dinard, after his passing his wife Lyona Faber continue the work. In 1858, the first sea villa was built by James Erhart Coppinger in the same pointe du Moulinet, it is known as the Château du Bec de la Vallée, or the  Villa Castel Mond (as it belong for a time to the couple  Sir Robert  Mond and his wife Lady Mond). From the 1880’s it was the first beach town in France and had its golden age known as the Dinard of the hundred hotels or the pearl of the emerald coast ; with many notables coming and staying here such as Albert Ier, Raymond Poincaré, Agatha Christie, Victor Hugo, Edward VII, George V, Winston Churchill , Judith Gautier, Jacqueline Kennedy, Lawrence of Arabia (in his childhood), Edmond Rostand, and Paul Valéry. Pablo Picasso painted the portrait of the swimmers in Dinard or the Les Baigneuses à Dinard on a series inspired by the nudity of the beaches. The firm L’Ecluse tried to restored many of these mansions and the first and only that could be done was in 1927 to the Gallic Hotel on the foot of the big beach or Grande Plage at  2  boulevard Féart done in a Art Déco style where Pablo Picasso stayed two times. Starting in the 1930’s Dinard saw its decline as the British  stop coming and later followed by the rest.

Some of the things to see here are, the the coffins of knights Olivier and Geoffroy de Montfort dating from the 14C now in the Chapelle of the old priory near the beach or plage du Prieuré; the house known as the Prince Noir or black prince built in the 14C; the manoir de la Baronnais ,renaissance style mansion with French gardens built in 1647; The fortress in the island or Ïle Harbour fortified from 1689; The Villa Les Roches Brunes built in 1893 and the Villa Greystones built in 1938; also, the Tennis club is one of the first built in France dating from 1879.  Notre Dame Church and St Enogat Church. The beaches are great and many smaller creeksn but the main four are plage du Prieuré, plage de l’Écluse, plage de Saint-Énogat, and plage du Port-Blanc.

Dinard

Notre Dame Church

Dinard

ïle Harbour afar from the promenade clair du lune

Dinard

lighthouse on a mansion on blvd de la Mer

Dinard

rue paul thorel at 6 ker Emerance and….

Dinard

plage de l’écluse and ocean pool from promenade de la mer

Dinard

plage de l’écluse from pointe du Moulinet

Dinard

plage du prieure

Dinard

plage St Enogat from blvd de la mer

Some further webpages to help you plan your trip here

Gorgeous photo of the city of Dinard in the city mayor’s page in French here  : http://www.ville-dinard.fr/listes/ville-dart-dhistoire/

Tourist office of the area Emerald coast Dinard: https://www.dinardemeraudetourisme.com/en/practical-information/brochures/

Region of Brittany tourist office: http://www.brittanytourism.com/ideas/short-break/dinard

Ille et Vilaine tourist office dept 35 on Dinard. https://www.brittany-tourism.com/towns-and-villages/PCUBRE035FS0000F/detail/dinard/dinard

There you have it for a Sunday in my Morbihan on Pentecost weekend including Monday. Nice weather , sunny ,relaxing  waiting for food and see where we go next. Remember ,happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all.

 

 

May 19, 2018

The big beach ambiance at Carnac, Grande Plage!

Ok rather than make a long post I split in two, the latest on Carnac. As in reality there are two in one with Carnac bourg and Carnac plage.

And here we are on another Saturday already with sunny nice weather temps around 20C or about 70F no rain, just perfect for the beach. We need to move on so with the boys we came back to our family nice beats in our corner of the world. We used to come here a lot with mom as it is only 24 km or about 15 miles from our house.

Proving this love for the area ,I counted 7 posts in my blog on the beach town. Of course, I am talking about Carnac, in the Morbihan Breton. Therefore, on this post will list the previous posts for you , plenty in Carnac!

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/07/04/carnac-a-lot-more-than-stones/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/08/21/the-one-two-punch-carnac-and-la-trinite-sur-mer/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2012/07/08/carnac-mythical-stones-and-gorgeous-beaches/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2012/08/11/carnac-its-beaches-and-stones-plus-my-backyard/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2013/06/08/carnac-history-stones-and-beaches-near-me/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2015/06/07/and-carnac-is-sublime-in-beach-weather/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2017/07/21/the-best-of-the-beach-carnac-and-quiberon/

There you have it all for you, enjoy it

The town is a must to come with the alignment megaliths stone that are Unesco World Heritage site There is guided visits duration about one hour from the tourist office, where you can go right next to the stones This is the largest megaliths space in Europe! There are about 3000 stones or menhirs here

However, the beach is superb. Great family place in a small compact shopping and eating area all parallel to the beaches. There is a little train or petit train that takes you in one sweep around the megaliths and the beach area with 39 sites narrated  Best to take at Carnac Plage port En Drö for 7,50€ adults and 4,50€ child under 12 It goes from 10h to 17h30 at this time but in summer, July/August it goes from 9h30 to 18h30. More info here: http://www.petittrain-carnac.com/carnac?language=en

The beaches are plenty starting looking at Carnac from the right to left you have:: St Colomban on an wall promenade road, and the lookout point of Pointe St Colomban; then comes the Ty Bihan beach, a dent on the continent but nice and smallist, follow by Légenéses beach or plage de Légenéses smallist taken you to the yacht club of Carnac and the Port En Drô harbor to the marshes. Then comes,the Grande Plage or big beach, this is absolutely wonderful and our favorite for hangouts and swimming; follow by a smaller beach of Beaumer ,and then the unique Men-Du beach on a big harbor dent with the possibility in low tides to walk to the island of Stuhan or île de Stuhan on your way to La Trinité-sur-Mer beaches.

The Grande Plage is here on the tourist office of Carnac: http://www.carnactourism.co.uk/node/454

The tourist office of the region Brittany on the Grande Plage: http://www.brittanytourism.com/to-see-to-do/beaches-and-seaside-activities/beaches/la-grande-plage6

The Morbihan dept 56 tourist office on Carnac: http://www.morbihan-tourism.co.uk/home/discover/morbihan/the-main-destinations/carnac

This is a beach site Plages.tv , I follow for several years now and very reliable with good info. http://en.plages.tv/detail/grande-plage-carnac-56340

The Yacht Club of Carnac has a webcam on the beaches that is very nice video type showing and I have it on the Grande  Plage:  http://www.yccarnac.com/webcam.html

The Grande Plage is 2 km of fine and beach with a south exposition, with beach cabins is a must for all families ,in season, the beach is with lifeguards protection.  There are two children clubs in season.  The beach is rated A for water safety in France. You won’t go wrong here, and I tell my family this one can match any and I grew up in beach areas in the Caribbean! Parking is available even right along the beach on the boulevard de la plage!

Carnac

Grande Plage central area

Carnac

Grande Plage left toward la trinite sur mer

Carnac

Grande Plage right towards the yacht club

Carnac

Grande Plage to ave Miln crossing before the blvd de la plage

Here we remember in family coming for our snacks on the boulangerie Mercier on ave des Druides, and the nice cold beers and food at the old Memestra, today another change of owner and name call Lulu à la plage; the shops and restos at le Passage de la Fontaine, and the Club Fisher on the Grande plage itself for drinks and snacks while enjoying the sea , superb. Also, at Quiberon. More here: https://www.lefisher.fr/carnac/

Lulu à la plage is here: http://www.carnactourism.co.uk/detail/72ba6b4efef7e28593cbd026abd57ec7/549864

We remember the movies at the Rex Cinema, a nice small two screen cinema that is so cool. And of course, the Le Marigny tabac to get our euro million lotto and a café ,just great, my father always ask me to buy here his ticket when around.  Here is the cinema on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CinemaRexCarnac/?fref=ts

Carnac

boulangerie Mercier on ave des druides

Carnac

Cinema Rex on ave de Miln

Carnac

early for le Fisher club on the Grande Plage

Carnac

Le Marigny tabac on ave de miln and druids corner

Carnac

le Passage de la Fontaine shops and restos

Carnac

Lulu à la plage resto on the Grande Plage

Of course the beach side is a lot more a nice walk on its quaint streets will make you realize this is easy living at its best. Oh the sea is wonderful indeed.

Carnac

Ave de Miln just ahead ave des Druides

Carnac

Ave de Miln looking inland from the Grande Plage

Carnac

ave des druides

This is  a lovely town ,again I insist a must to see with the family. We love it ,and now many memories for us coming here with my Martine . I hope you enjoy it too as we do. Again, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers! Enjoy the weekend

 

May 19, 2018

Big beach and nice laid back ambiance , this is Carnac!

And here we are on another Saturday already with sunny nice weather temps around 20C or about 70F no rain,just perfect for the beach. We need to move on so with the boys we came back to our family nice beats in our corner of the world. We used to come here a lot with mom as it is only 24 km or about 15 miles from our house. Proving this love for the area ,I counted 7 posts in my blog on the beach town. Of course, I am talking about Carnac, in the Morbihan Breton.

But wait, these are really two towns in one. First, we have Carnac bourg or the inland city with the main Church and city hall; and then we have Carnac plage or beachside with the big beach, shops, restos and just laid back ambiance. See next post on the beach side

With seven posts here will not give you the history of it, just that the alignments here are Unesco World Heritage Site. Let me tell you it is just down from my house on the D768 and then a quick turn into the D119 to Carnac bourg , really easy and as we got early by 10h30 we found easy parking at the place de la Chapelle next to the Pre History museum and right by the tourist office. This weekend as it was a Pentecost holiday  we had free parking too here. We took a quick tour of the tourist office as I think it is always essential no matter how many times you come to a place. There are always changes and we notice. Forgot to tell you about the official megalith alignment page in English here: The Menhirs alignment of Carnac

Carnac

arriving city center bourg Carnac

Carnac

going to Carnac D119 road

Carnac

side of pre history museum on place de la Chapelle

Carnac

entrance to pre history museum

Carnac

place de la Chapelle back of tourist office

Carnac

Chapelle de la congregation place de la Chapelle

Place de la Chapelle with hotel marine and afar Church St Cornély

Carnac

rue du tumulus next to tourist office

place de la chapelle tourist office

The town is very nice and small on the bourg side and then a short ride to the beach side for more walks. Other than the Pre History museum , webpage here; http://www.museedecarnac.com/en/accueil.html

The other must to see here is the Church Saint Cornély, a jewel itself and one of the best renaissance Churches in France! It is from the 17C. Tourist office in English here: http://www.carnactourism.co.uk/detail/fbff08068c24da45a957692628c4e564/549825

Carnac

Saint Cornely Church altar

Carnac

Saint Cornely Church back side

Carnac

Saint Cornely Church bell tower and St Cornely statue

Carnac

Saint Cornely Church front entrance

Carnac

Saint Cornely Church organ

There is a huge choice of shops and restos here. One of our favorite shopping for souvenirs and gifts is Korrigans on rue Saint Cornély just off the Church. They have no webpage but easy to find just go around the Church on your right hand side facing it. The other is an old timer used to be called Cozy restaurant , it was the first place I ate here back in 2011. Well , as we can’t keep up with the choices and changes around here lol! They have new owners and new name not tested yet call Les Caprices d’Anaïs. Here is their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Les-caprices-dAna%C3%AFs-1017058998335526/

Carnac

Korrigans Breton novelties

Carnac

Korrigans gift store off rue Saint Cornely my boys outside

Carnac

korrigans souvenirs of Brittany inside

Carnac

les caprices d’Anais now old Cozy inner patio

Carnac

les caprices d’Anais front old cozy

Again, so much to see here on the bourg , city center. Thinking about, will do a second post on the beachside, so can show you more photos. This is one to come with the whole family if ever in this corner of the world and of course let me know ok.

Carnac

the Kermario megalith stone Unesco world heritage site

Carnac

more of the lovely Place de la Chapelle

Carnac

plenty of gifts off rue Saint Cornely by the Church

Carnac

rue Saint Cornely further from the square of same name

This is  a lovely town again I insist a must to see with the family. We love it and now many memories for us coming here with my Martine . I hope you enjoy it too as we do. Again, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers! Enjoy the weekend

 

May 18, 2018

A little town with a big name, Hamm

And here I am on a Friday evening and my blog. It was hot today going to 25C or 77F and we expect a nice long weekend as Monday we are off on Pentecost Day.

Let’s get you into something different and historical I like it. In my rounds around Europe I not always go to the top tourist attractions anyway that is the advantage of living here you have so much history,architecture and culture around you. In my forays into Luxembourg I could not stop from going to Hamm, a very small district of Luxembourg and a special place.

This is now a district of Luxembourg city and the home of the American Cemetery of Hamm , resting place of General Patton.

My previous post on Hamm and Gen Patton here: https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/11116

Hamm as said was a town in the county of Luxembourg from 1873 to 1920 when it became part of the city of Luxembourg  from Sandweiler together with Hollerich and Rollingergrund. The origins of Hamm goes back  to the monastery of Sainte Catherine founded in the 14C from which a village developed. As it was close to the Alzette river there were lots of windmills built. In 1874, Hamm was an independant town and because of economic hardship was forced to merged with Luxembourg city.

The district houses since 1944 the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial resting place of American soldiers that fought in WWII and the Battle of the Ardennes including General Patton.

There is a train station here Cents-Hamm on line 3 of the Luxembourg-Wasserbilig frontier lines just between the station of Luxembourg and Sandweiler-Contern. However, as the post above tells you, it is very easy to come by car and most convenient.

To talk about General Patton is pure bravery , patriotism and hard guts that is always needed around to preserve Democracy.  I like to talk about one of my historical heros General Patton. He was born at Lake Vineyard Ranch what is now San Marino, California. In 1904, he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York following in the military fashion of the Patton family. After graduation, he was assigned to the Cavalry as an aid to General John “Black Jack” Pershing, who at that time was pursuing the Mexican bandit General Pancho Villa. During World War I he saw service in France as part of the United States Army Tank Corps.

During WWII, he was assignment to Dwight North Africa as head of the II Corp, where he received his third star from General Dwight D. Eisenhower. On to Sicily, the 7th Army enjoyed an unopposed landing and Patton assumed command of this unit. In January 1944, he was summoned to London and given command of the US Third Army which was still being activated. In July 1944, George Patton arrived in France one month after the D-Day landing. Once the 3rd Army was fully operational, its exploits throughout Europe became legendary. For the anecdote , his 3rd Army liberated my capital City of Vannes, when his Gen Woods entered the town.

General Patton’s journey into history began in Mannheim, Germany on December 9, 1945, when the sedan in which he was riding ran headlong into an army truck. He was taken to the army hospital outside of Heidelberg, where he died from his injuries on December 21. He lay in state at the Villa Reiner, one of the stately homes in Heidelberg. Funeral services were conducted at Christ Church, afterward his body was placed aboard a special funeral train for the trip to Luxembourg for burial at the Military Cemetery in nearby Hamm, where as much as 5,000 American soldiers lie, many having served under General Patton in the 3rd Army. General Patton died on December 21, 1945 He was buried on December 24th following a funeral service at the Luxembourg Cathedral. Representatives of nine countries and the highest ranking officers of the American troops stationed in Europe followed the coffin. Present were delegations from Luxembourg, France, Belgium, England, Italy, The Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. France and Belgium provided the honor guard.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here ,enjoy the trip into history

The American Battle Monument Commission http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries-memorials/europe/luxembourg-american-cemetery

Tourism Luxembourg https://www.visitluxembourg.com/en/place/misc/american-military-cemetery-luxembourg-hamm

City of Luxembourg on Hamm in French : https://www.vdl.lu/la-ville/en-bref/les-24-quartiers-de-la-ville/hamm

video on the funeral and burial of General George Patton:

 

If you go on the north of Luxembourg city into Ettelbruck, you can see the wonderful museum of Patton there: Patton’s Museum Ettelbruck

 

Hope you enjoy the brief historical trip into one men who Europe has a lot to thanks about, I do. The trip is pleasant even to Ettelbruck by road on the A7 only 36 km from Luxembourg city.

Again happy weekend, happy travels ,good health and many cheers to all!!!

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May 18, 2018

That little old town Trier, in Germany!

I think ,I have mentioned on the previous post but the way I came here was by accident or curiosity of a traveller. My idea and our family was to visit Luxembourg city, and we came here often. On one of the earlier trip, we had extra time and saw a brochure on Trier in the tourist office , been close and we with a car, we took off for the Roman city of Trier. Yes that is how we came to know Trier, and it has been a must visit once in a while over the years,and has become our favorite city in Germany, said.

I have written on it several times and would like to give the link to the previous blog posts here:

Trier oldest city : https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/2273

Quaint Trier https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/11162

Come back to Trier : https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/11393

Trier (Trèves in French) is in the region state of Rhineland Palatinate  on the Moselle river near the border with Luxembourg (about 50 km /31 mi) and the Moselle wine region.  You have good transport here with a nice train station with connection galore, by train the nearest cities are Cologne, Saarbrücken and Luxembourg city. The highway are wonderful and we have done it on the expressway A1 as well as A48 and A64 connecting Koblenz, Saarbrüken, and Luxembourg city. The airport nearest Trier is actually in Luxembourg at Findel just less than an hour away, Frankfort is about 2 hrs away as well as Cologne/Bonn. The Moselle river has nice cruises too.

A bit of history I like

Founded by the Celtic in the late-4C BC ; this town became an old Roman colony founded in the year 16 BC under the name of Augusta Treverorum on the site of a gaullist people name the Triveres. There is an old stone bridge built in 45 AD replacing an older wooden one and still the oldest bridge in Germany still working.  There is a rampart housing the biggest urban area in all of Gaul ,about 282 hectares. It ‘s still has the Porta Nigra , a must to see ,it is a fortified gate, as well as some wall foundations in the ramparts still from Roman times. Trier is considered the second Rome or Roma secunda. In addition from Roman times we have the Basilica which today is a protestant Church, remains of an amphitheater and ruins of the spas. The Franks took Trier from the Roman rule in 459 AD; by 870AD it became part of the Easter France that eventually became the Holy Roman Empire. The Cathedral of Trier is home to the archbishop that was one of the prince elect of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire, and keeps a vest that is considered the Holy Shroud that wore Jesus Christ to the Calvary. This Cathedral was closed for many years and finally re opened again in 1974.

Trier

Roman stone bridge

The German philosopher and one of the founders of Marxism , Karl Marx was born in the city in 1818. The University of Trier was founded in 1473 ,but it too was closed for several years , dissolved in 1797 and eventually reopened again in 1974. The years 1581 to 1593 ,the Trier witch trials were held ,perhaps the largest witch trial in European history. It was certainly one of the four largest witch trials in Germany. The persecutions started in the diocese of Trier in 1581 and reached the city itself in 1587, where it was to lead to the death of about 368 people, and was as such perhaps the biggest mass execution in Europe in peace time In the 17C and 18C, Trier was wanted by France, who invaded several times like during the Thirty Years war, war of the Grand Alliance, War of the Spanish Succession, War of the Polish succession; France finally claiming Trier in 1794 during the French revolution, and the electoral archbishopric was dissolved. After the Napoleonic wars ended in 1815 Trier passed to the Kingdom of Prussia. The city rose in revolt during the revolutions of 1848 in the German States   although the rebels were forced to concede. It became part of the German Empire in 1871. In June 1940 over 60K British prisioners of war captured at Dunkirk and Northern France were marched into Trier, which became a staging post for British soldiers headed for Nazis prisioners of war camps.

Things to see are plenty here, my family’s favorite are:

The Porta Nigra, the best preserved Roman city gate north of the Alps; ruins of three Roman baths, among them the largest Roman baths north of the Alps; including the Barbara baths and the Trier Imperial baths; the huge Constantine Basilica with 67 meters long throne hall of Roman Emperor Constantine, it is today used as a Protestant Church; the Trier Cathedral St Peter dates back to Roman times and as said houses the Holy Shroud a garment dated back to the 12C; the one Jesus was wearing when he died. It is exhibited only every few decades, at irregular intervals. The Liebfrauenkirche or Church of our Lady one of the most important Gothic Cathedrals in Germany on the French gothic tradition of Cathedrals; the Roman amphitheatre, the 2C AD Roman bridge across the Moselle river, oldest north of the Alps still with traffic; St Matthias Abbey still in use monastery whose medieval Church is the only Apostle north of the Alps is held to be buried; St Gangolf’s Church, was the city market Church that rivalled the Archbishop’s Trier Cathedral; Saint Paulinus Church one of the most important Baroque Churches in Rhineland-Palatinate State; There are two treadwheel cranes one gothic the old crane from 1413 and the other the Baroque crane or old Customs crane from 1774.

Trier

Constantine basilica

Trier

St Peter Cathedral

Trier

Porta Nigra

As to museums ,there are some nice ones. The archeological museum and most important in Germany on the Roman period call in German Rheiniches Landesmuseum; the history of Trier museum with a model of the medieval city or in German, Stadtmuseum Simeonstiff; and for the kid in all of us,the Toy Museum of Trier.

Trier

archeology landesmuseum

Trier

stadtsmuseum history

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to the nice old city of Trier:

Panoramic views of Trier ,wonderful site : http://www.stadtpanoramen.de/trier/index.html

Tourist office of Trier in English: https://www.trier-info.de/english/index

From the Rhineland Palatine region there is more on tourism here: https://www.en.romantic-cities.com/cities/trier/

Tourist office of Germany on Trier in English: http://www.germany.travel/en/towns-cities-culture/towns-cities/historic-highlights-of-germany/trier.html

Hope it helps plan your visit to the wonderful Trier or Trèves , it is a nice place even with the tourist around, heck so are we… we love it. Enjoy the post and remember; happy travels, good health ,and many cheers!!!

 

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May 17, 2018

A little detour to Darmstadt, Germany!

And it is Wednesday afternoon, a walk in town and thinking of finally going to work tomorrow after the passing of my wife. Another era begins for me, maybe less posts. Not withstanding, I like to reminicent of this city in Germany a bit ok. The weather in my neck of the woods is a whopping 25C or 77F sunny gorgeous too bad but we have next Monday off again! Vive Mai en France! Thank you all for following my blog ,its a pleasure having you around.

I came to know the city of Darmstadt because my company had a branch there that reported to me accounting wise. My interactions were daily so eventually I traveled a couple times there in 2004! As I recall all my business trips with the family in a general sights views basis, they were interested on all the places I go to ,of course. Once, we decided to vacation in Germany back in 2015, I told them would be a perfect opportunity to visit this off the beaten path city, and so we did.

The story on the visit is told in my previous blog post here: Memorable Darmstadt

It had good impressions on me and later the family as well so its time to tell you again about it on a bit of history side. Here is the story ,brief.

Darmstadt is a city in the Hesse region part of the Rhine of Germany Closest cities are Frankfort Main at about 30 km and Mannheim at about 45 km as well as Heidelberg It is call the City of Science due to the proliferation of technical schools and research centers there including the technical University founded in 1877.

Darmstadt is connected to a number of major roads, including two Autobahnen the no 5 and no 67 however the main road passing west east is the bunderstrabe 26 and the north south no 3. The public transport system of Darmstadt is integrated in the RMV (the transportation authority of the Frankfort Metropolitan Area). The backbone of public transport in Darmstadt is its modern tramway network of 9 lines and a local bus service serving all parts of the city. Darmstadt is furthermore connected to the Frankfort S-Bahn train network and being served by regional bus lines. Furthermore, regional rail lines R64, R65, and R66 connect six secondary railway stations within the city. Darmstadt is connected to the Frankfurt rapid transit network by the S-Bahn line S3. Darmstadt can be easily accessed from around the world via Frankfort Airport which is located 20 km (12 mi) from central Darmstadt and connected to it via the expressway autobahn no 5 and S-Bahn rail as well as several bus lines and a direct express bus-link , Airliner.

A bit of history I like

Darmstadt was chartered as a city by the Holy Roman Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian in 1330, at which time it belonged to the counts of Katzenelnbogen. When the house of Katzenelnbogen became extinct in 1479, the city was passed to the Landgraviate of Hesse , and was seat of the ruling Landgraves from 1567 to 1806, and thereafter to 1918 of the grand dukes of Hesse. The city became the capital of the princes of Hesse-Darmstadt from 1567 while the creation of the landgravat of Hesse-Darmstadt created after the death of Philip the Magnanimous. Part of the possessions of Philip the Magnanimous were ceded to Hesse-Cassel, Hesse-Marbourg, Hesse-Rheinfels, Hesse-Darmstadt, and Dietz. In 1668, Friedrich Jacob Merck purchase the pharmacy of Engel and put the basis of his empire of the future Merck KgaA pharmaceutical company of today.   In 1711 the Great Landgraves Caroline of Palatine-Deux-Ponts-Birkenfeld and Johann Heinrich Merck of the mentioned family were the initiators of forming a Circle of Romantic composers such as Goethe, Herder, and Klopstock.

In 1806 after the end of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire the landgravat of Hesse-Darmstadt became the Grand Duke of Hesse and the Rhine. This Grand Duke had the protection of the Tsar of Russia, nephew by alliance to the first Grand Duke. The princes and lovers of arts made Darmstadt an intellectual and cultural capital and towards 1900, a center of the Art Nouveau movement; many institutes especially the German Academy of the Language and Poetry and the Aesthetics and Industrial Institute continues today this tradition. In 1844, the monument to Ludwig Langer was built in the square Louise (Luisenplatz) with the statue of the Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig. From 1898 to 1908, the Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig had name 7 artists to create the colony of artists of Mathildenhöhe. His mother was a child of the Queen Victoria and his sister Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt married the Russian tsar Nicolas II to come to a tragic ending. To note, all 3 tsars having married princesses of Hesse-Darmstadt were assassinated.

In 1918, the defeat of Germany made end to the monarchy. Two sisters of the Grand Duke, the tsarine of Russia and the Grand Duchesse Elisabeth were assassinated with their families by the Russian Bolsheviks. The son of the last Grand Duke, openly against the Nazis died with his wife, his mother and the children in 1937 in a suspect airplane accident. Darmstadt was the first city in Germany to force Jewish shops to close in early 1933, shortly after the Nazis took power in Germany. Darmstadt was first bombed on in July 1940, and 34 other air raids would follow before the war’s end. Post-war rebuilding was done in a relatively plain architectural style, although a number of the historic buildings were rebuilt to their original appearance following the city’s capture on 20 March 1945 by the American 4th Armoured Division. At the end of WWII, Darmstadt was among the 112 communities where U.S. Forces were stationed. Early units stationed here included elements of the U.S. Constabulary, Air Force units and a Quartermaster School. As part of the U.S. Army’s ongoing transformation in Germany, the Darmstadt military community, by then designated as U.S. Army Garrison Darmstadt was inactivated on 30 September 2008. Even after the garrison inactivation, however, there is still one unit active in Darmstadt not showing in some official documents until much later, this is the 66th Military Intelligence Group at the Dagger Complex on Eberstädter Weg.

You can easily spent a day here on things to see and I would say as a side trip to Frankfort or even Trier near where we were base! And once in the city on foot is glorious!

The Evangelical Church, The Russian Chapel of Darmstadt, and the Saint Louis Church. Other interesting places to see are the History House of Darmstadt, the colony of artists of Mathildenhöhe , the German Center for Art Nouveau and its museum. The Prince Georges palace built in 1710 old residency of the landgraves and today housing the wonderful collection of porcelain from the Grand Dukes in which almost all were gifts of the Imperial and Royal families of Europe forming the biggest collection of porcelain coming from the Grand Ducal factory of Kelsterbach and other German and Russian factories. The Regional museum of Hesse, the Hunting museum, the city hall building built from the 16C to 18C, the column of Louis Ier of Hesse; the castle Frankenstein and the nice theater of Darmstadt.

Darmstadt

Column of Louis Ier in luiseplatz square

Darmstadt

State museum of Hesse

Darmstadt

Saint Louis Church

The Luisenplatz, the central square of the city, forms the center of the city and is the main public transport hub. Other important squares are the Marktplatz near the old city hall and the Sabaisplatz at the Mathildenhöhe. Among the most important parks are the English style Herrngarten in central Darmstadt. In former times it was part of the Royal Gardens used exclusively by the dukes of Darmstadt. Today it is a public park . The French style parks Prinz-Georgs-Garten and Orangerie, the modern style Bürgerpark or People’s Park in northern Darmstadt and the mystical Park Rosenhöhe, or Rose Heights, which also serves as the cemetery for the dukes, with two impressive mausoleum buildings in its remote parts. The Botanischer Garten or Botanical Garden in eastern Darmstadt is maintained by the Darmstadt University of Technology with a fine collection of rare plants and trees.

Some further webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Darmstadt https://www.darmstadt.de/sprachversionen/english/discover-darmstadt/

Tourist office of Darmstadt: City tourist office Darmstadt

Federal govt tourist info on Darmstadt http://www.germany.travel/en/towns-cities-culture/towns-cities/darmstadt.html

Frankfort area tourism on the Mathildenhohe Darmstadt :  Frankfort on the Mathildenhohe

Enjoy the seldom visit areas of any country is a wonderful local experience and by going to Darmstadt you will feel just that, unique. Enjoy the post and remember, Happy travels, good health ,and many cheers!!!

 

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May 16, 2018

Valencia, the Cid and a lot more in sunny Spain!

This is one of those cities that should be visited more. I was here as a child when had my aunt on mother’s side living there in a farm just south of the city near El Saler; when we lived in Madrid we would go there as our “vacation” ; then, their passing took us a dry spell of many, many years, finally with my wife and boys ,we decided upon my request to visit the city. Not the greatest impact for all but good enough to enjoyed the sites especially the markets and the beach front. I am talking about Valencia, Spain.

Valencia a city by the mediterranean sea founded in 138BC by Roman consul Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus with the name of Valentia Edetanorum which later in the middle ages became the capital of the kingdom of Valencia. It’s old town area is the most extensive in all of Spain, 169 hectares! The main motorways of Valencia have a radial route, such as the V-21, the V-31, the A-3 (the one to go from Madrid), the V-15/CV-500, the CV-35 or the CV-36. But Valencia also has a series of beltway roads around it, you are the by-pass, the V-30, which joins the A-7 with the city port, or the CV-30, which borders the north area of the city. The International Airport is located about 8 km west of Valencia, on the territories of the municipalities of Manises and Poblet.

The metro/Subway/tube network of Valencia is the third oldest in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona. The Port of Valencia is one of the ports managed by the Port Authority of Valencia (Valenciaport) ;the passenger Terminal of the Port of Valencia is managed by the shipping company Acciona Transmediterranea and has all the necessary services to Meet the demand of cruise ship owners: assistance to the crew, gangways for direct access to ships, passenger parking, gift shops, duty free, etc.

My touristic post on the city was done previously in my blog here: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2016/08/28/valencia-from-the-el-cid-to-pedmar10/

The natural park of the Albufera has  21 120 hectares located just 10 km south of the city on the way to El Saler which is right on the tip of it. The park includes the Lake Albufera. Its environment is humid, and adjacent to both the coastal strip. The marshes of Rafalell and Vistabella, with an area of 103 hectares, is one of the last marshes that extends to the north of the river Turia at Alboraya Sagunto, which shoots the groundwater and the irrigation. La Horta of Valencia (vegetable garden) was born in the Roman Empire , but what is really today the Horta of Valencia was developed in the Middle Ages, during the Arabic period.  Arabs have created an extensive network of irrigation infrastructures: irrigation canals; Wells; and small dams. This network is derived from the canals of the Turia and allows to the formation of marshes carrying large amounts of water to the irrigation fields.

A bit of history I like

In 711, the city was taken by the Arabs/Moors. Abd al-Allah, the son of Abd al-Rahman I, (first Emir of Cordoba), settled in Balansiya (name of the city in Arabic) and exercised his authority over the region of Valencia.  The Arabs imported their language, religion and customs, but coexistence with Hispanic people is done in a peaceful way. The assimilation of the indigenous population to the Muslim religion and the Arab culture was very rapid, since it was estimated that by the end of the 10C, Christians and Jews represented only 10% of the population. Within the taifa of the Amirides (descendants of Almanzor), Valencia is a city with an important influence.

Here comes the story of El Cid or Rodrigo for my post, who was then staying in Zaragoza, besieges Valencia and takes over the city in July 1093. A skillful politician or an inveterate warrior, Rodrigo does not seem to have aspired to exercise power directly. The arrival of a Almoravid army sent by Emir Youssef Ibn-Tashfin led the Valencians to shake the yoke again. As the Almoravids ran out of food without an arrow being blow, Rodrigo besieged the city again. After vainly awaiting the arrival of reinforcements, Valencia, decimated by hunger, capitulates on June 15, 1094. Rodrigo allied with Pedro I of Aragon and Raimond-Berenguer III of Barcelona with the aim of curbing the constant progression of the Almoravid. In 1096, the Great Mosque was transformed into a church. Then, in 1097, Jérôme de Périgord, acclaimed and elected by the chapter, consecrated by the hand of the Roman Pontiff, was named Bishop of the city. Rodrigo continued to consolidate his power on the Levant, notably with the capture of Murviedro (Sagunto), in 1098, Rodrigo El  Cid died in Valencia on July 10, 1099. Chimenea his wife succeeded in defending the city with the help of his son-in-law Raimond-Berenguer III Count of Barcelona, until 1101 when King Alfonso VI of Castilla ordered the evacuation of the city. From 1102, the family of the El Cid and his companions abandoned the city to the Almoravids. Valencia will only be recaptured definitively from the Arabs moors in 1238, by king Jaime I of Aragon. In 1391, the Christians forced the jewish to convert to Christianism or face death;by 1456 the Muslims face the same dilemma. The 15C is known as the golden age of Valencian culture, and since 1437 the Holy Chalise is preserved in the Cathedral of Valencia.

In the war of Independence vs Napoleon’s invasion,the first battle here took place on 28 june 1808 and you can still see the canons shots in the tower of Quart and lower base on fields around it. The city felled under command of Marshal Suchet on January 8 1812 after a long siege  and lasted until the end of the war in 1814.  In 1936 during the Spanish Civil War Valencia becomes the capital of Republican Spain until 1939.

There is so much to see in Valencia city alone, its incredible. You really several days here. Things to see and do in Valencia, general brief overview. 

Valencia has two urban beaches of golden sand, Las arenas and the beach of Malvarrosa, which are bounded by south the Port of Valencia and north the beach Patacona Alboraya. They are urban beaches, which have a large promenade where there are many large premises, which occupy old public baths, and offer a wide choice of accommodations and local cuisine. There are other beaches like those of Pinedo, with the area of the Black house where the beach is nudist, of Perellonet, of Recatí and the Gola del Perello, more than 15 km of coasts of sand (protected by dunes), which constitute an offer of large beaches , in the heart of the Albufera Natural Park. A must the beaches, Malvarrosa and Las Arenas are right in the city easy.

Valencia

Malvarrosa beach

The royal Chapel of the Virgin of the Forsaken, (Real Capilla de la Virgen de los Desamparados) with Basilica category from 1872, was made between 1652 and 1666 the temple dedicated to Saint Catherine Martyr, located in the Plaza Virgen de la Paz, rose on a previous mosque and in 1245 had already acquired the rank of parish Church. It consists of a single nave, with lateral buttresses between which the chapels were placed. It is the only one of the Gothic churches of the city with an ambulatory in the headrests, like the cathedral the Primitive Church of the Saints Johns was raised in the suburb of the city known as the Boatella, where and located an old mosque. The old hermitage was erected before 1240 on the mosque in the newly erected temple preached St. Vincent Ferrer and there offered his first sermon on the day of St. John the Baptist.  The Church of San Juan del Hospital was the first church built in Valencia, behind the cathedral, as a priory of the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. St. Mary’s Cathedral of Valencia  is a must.

Valencia

Basilica de los Desemparados or forsaken

Valencia

St Mary’s Cathedral

The Monasterio de San Miguel de los Reyes isan important work of the Valencian renaissance that according to some authors can be considered as precedent of the monastery of El Escorial, being like this, Jerónimo Monastery, cultural focus and church commemorative of the memory of its Founder. The first stone was placed in 1548 by the bishop and  Fernando of Aragon, Duke of Calabria. The construction of the monastery lasted during the 17C, beginning the church of the monastery from 1601 in 1821 the disentailment of the liberal three years abolished the Jerónima community in 1835 the definitive secularization is produced, passing the monastery ,and their properties at the hands of the state. It is now the home of the Valencian library or Biblioteca de Valenciana. Located in the Avenida de la Constitucion.

There were crosses, which in the Crown of Aragon were used to be called peirones and in other places wayside shrines, were located in the paths to mark the limits of the city ; the one cross covering the Camino Real de Játiva, is still visible on the  current Calle San Vicente. It is a gothic work carried out in the year 1376 (14C) by an unknown author. Between the years 1432 and 1435 (15C) ,the Master of Works Juan del Poyo and the Carver Johan Llobet renewed the cross on behalf of the factory (Fàbrica) of Murs and Valls, and in the 16C the temple restored itself and in 1898 (19C) José Aixá carried out a complete reconstruction of the work.

The building of La Lonja de la Seda is a masterpiece of the Valencian Civil Gothic located in the historical center of the city; Gothic-Renaissance style is the Palacio de Benicarló, the current headquarters of the Valencian courts. This building is an aristocratic mansion, which was built in the 15C as a residence of the Borja family in the capital of the ancient kingdom of Valencia. Between the years 1485 and 1520, adaptation activities of several pre-existing buildings were carried out, as well as the construction of the stone staircase of the patio the palace of the Valencian government is also a building late gothic with interventions Renaissance dating back to the 15C. The construction of the palace began in the year 1421, expanding in the 16C. In 1831 the territorial courts hearing was installed, which in 1922 became the provincial council.  The towers of Serranos are one of the twelve gates that guarded the old wall of the city of Valencia. Las Torres de Quart, a pair of twin towers, also formed part of the medieval wall that surrounded the old town of Valencia, whose function was defend the city. These towers are located at the intersection of Calle Guillén de Castro with Calle Quart.

Valencia

Torres de Quart towers

The Palace of the Marquis de Dos Aguas ( two waters), as it is known today, is the product of a radical reform carried out on the old manor house of the Rabassa of Perellós, holders of the marquis of Dos Aguas, in the decade of 1740 (18C) in a Rococo style houses the National Museum of Ceramics and the arts sumptuary González Martí with one of the most important collection of ceramics in Spain and Europe.In 1914 it became the seat of the Palace of Justice the Plaza Redonda, of singular round perimeter, was built in 1840 ,and is located next to the Church of Santa Catalina and the Plaza de la Virgen, in the historical center of the City.

Valencia

Santa Catalina Church

Valencia

Museum Nacional de Ceramica y artes decorativos

The bullring of Valencia was built between the years 1850 and 1860 (19C) on the site of a previous square that because of budget problems was never finished. It is neoclassical, inspired by Roman civil architecture. There is, also, a bullfighting museum, which was founded in 1929 with funds from the donation of Luis Moróder Peiró and the bull chopper José Bayard Badia, which for years collected a significant number of materials and objects of Valencian bullfighting of the 19C to the 20C .

Valencia

bullfight arena Valencia

The City/town hall (Ayuntamiento)  of Valencia integrates in a slightly trapezoidal block  two constructions of period and style well differentiated: the Casa de Enseñanza or house of Teaching, built by the initiative of the Archbishop Don Andrés Mayoral, between 1758 and 1763; and the building body (the main façade), made between the second and third decades of the  20C in a marked modernist style another of the most important modernist buildings of Valencia is the Estacion del Norte or North station, built between the years 1906 and 1917 the building of the Mercado Central market is also another construction of Valencian modernist style and began to be built in the year 1914 ;the Mercado de Colón (where we parked underground parking!!!) is another clear example of Valencian modernism of the early 20C. This market was designed and built  between the years 1914 and 1916.

Valencia

city hall Valencia

Valencia

Estacion del Norte

Valencia

Mercado central

Valencia

Mercado de Colon

The Puente 9 de Octubre or 9th of October Bridge was built in the 1980’s by the then still not recognized Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, by the Bridge of the exhibition (Puente de la Exposicion) and the metro station of the Alameda, which is located under the old channel of the river Turia to which you have to go down to access the station. These works were inaugurated in the year 1995 the complex of the City of Arts and Sciences, also designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela, one of the most popular areas of the city. Since,  1998 when the hemispheric (Hemisférico) was inaugurated, and in 2009 with the opening of the Agora. The Museum of Fine Arts St. Pius V and the IVAM (Institut Valencià d’Art Modern) , which are spaces in which permanent collections can be seen as well as temporary.

The botanical garden managed by the University of Valencia, the Royal garden or pots (Jardines Real) in the neighborhood of Pla del Real right where it was located the Royal Palace of Valencia(Palacio del Real de Valencia). Along the vast and nice Paseo de la Alameda you reach it from the sea, today it has a bit over a km walk between the Puente del Real and the Puente de Aragon bridges. The promenade without garden goes for 2,5 km from Plaza Zaragoza to Grao Cemetery. The parterre lawn or Plaza de Alfonso the Magnanimous was built on some existing plots in the old Customs square (Plaza de la Aduana), more or less in the year 1850, since its creation the garden has undergone very few variations, emphasizing fundamentally that due to the flood of 1957 which damaged this garden, thereby changing its morphology. The gardens of Saveros (which include the gardens of Montroy), the Jardín de Monforte  or the gardens of the Túria, former bed of the river Túria, which was deviated from the city center in the 1960’s after the Last flood of 1957. The Oceanogràfico, a oceanarium, a zoological park of 8 hectares, the Biopark Valencia, takes place west of the city by the Turia river too.

Main festivities in Valencia in my opinion are

From March 15 to March 19 the days and nights in Valencia are a continuous party, but since March 1 are shot every day at 14h (2pm)  the popular Mascletás. Fallas is a party with an entrenched tradition in the city of Valencia and different populations of the Valencian Community .yes the Fallas!  Easter has its prolongation with the festivity in honor of St. Vincent Ferrer,(who also is a revered Saint in Brittany and his body rests at the St Peters Cathedral of Vannes!)  Patron of the community canonized by the Pope Calixto III (Alfonso Borja, Spanish). This day is customary to visit the birthplace of the saint (currently a chapel), where it is “the Pouet of Sant Vicent” of which the children are given to drink ,so that they speak soon, they do not suffer from angina, they do not swear false or they are blasphemous. On the second Sunday of May the City of Valencia celebrates the festivity of the Virgin of the Forsaken (Desemparados), popularly known as “La Geperudeta”, affectionate allusion to the slightly stooped posture of one of the images of this vocation of the Virgin. The Corpus Christi procession has historically been considered the big festival of Valencia, especially since the last third of the 14C. The history of this festival begins in the year 1355. And of course ,when in Valencia is the time to eat Paella, the original and always the best , the dish of Valencia , which was originally a humble dish cooked by the inhabitants of the swamp of Albufera mainly of chicken, rabbit, duck, snails, legumes and fresh vegetables (later many variations have come forward). A legend ,I was told by the elders is that the name PAELLA is a contraction on how we speak cutting letters to speak faster so Para Ella or For Her became pa’ella and it was the fisherman out to sea for days to bring the food in to the families and the wives stayed behind to do everything else…One day a fisherman decided that they should all gathered their catch and prepare a dish for the wives, so they did and when a name was called, simply stayed well it is for them/her so PAELLA. I stick to this version.

Some further information to help you plan your visit to the city of Valencia.

Tourism of Valencia : https://www.visitvalencia.com/en

 Ciyt of Valencia in Spanish : http://www.valencia.es/ayuntamiento/laciudad.nsf/vDocumentosTituloAux/origenes?opendocument&nivel=3&lang=1

Spain tourism on Valencia: https://www.spain.info/en/que-quieres/ciudades-pueblos/grandes-ciudades/valencia.html

Hope you enjoy the post, and maybe take a look at Valencia! Happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all.

 

 

 

 

 

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May 15, 2018

Memories of my Spain, Villanua!!!

This is a road taken many many times since 1990. It nostalgic for me and brings me many good memories now even more. This is the first trip i took with my girlfriend, back in 1990 to show the Frenchie my  Spain; and later my wife for almost 28 yrs before the F cancer took her away from me recently.

I am talking with deep emotions about a very small town in Spain, call Villanua.

Villanúa is a mountain town in the Province of Huesca and the communidad autonoma de Aragon in northern Spain. It sits at the foot of the peak Collarada with 2 886 meters. The town itself is at 953 meters. It is half way between Jaca and the ski stations of Candanchu , Canfranc ,and Astun and only 12 km from the frontier with France over the Somport tunnel on the road N330 or E-7.

Somport

entering Somport tunnel to France

I wrote a post on it in my blog before, here it is.  Remembering Villanua:  https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/2375

Very old town was mentioned for the first time in the Cartrusa of Santa Cruz de las Seros in 992 AD   The Church of San Esteban from the 11C inside it has a polychrome St James from the 15C and a Virgin with Child from the 10C or early 11C called here the Our Lady of Angels or Nuestra Señora de los Angeles.

It has the cave of Las Guixas, dolmens or old stone as well as the abandon towns of Cenarbe and Aruej with its small roman Church from the 11C. The old bridge or Puente Viejo from the 12C built by ordered of king Pedro I of Aragon in 1100 the only access to the town until the new bridge in the 1990’s. The adventure park of Parque de aventura de los Arboles El Juncaral. The biggest in the pyrénees.

Villanua

park and the mountains from Villanua

More tourist interest information to help you plan your visit here

City of Villanua in Spanish for tourist interest go to El Pueblo, http://www.villanua.net/

Tourist page for Villanua in Spanish: http://www.turismovillanua.net/que-ver-en-villanua/

At the Jaca tourist office more on Villanua in Spanish : http://www.jaca.com/villanua.htm

Region of Aragon tourist office in Spanish on Villanua too: https://www.turismodearagon.com/en/ubicacion/zona-turistica/valle-del-aragon-y-jaca.html#.WvnuOoCFPIU

province of Huesca with the caves of Villanua: https://www.descubrehuesca.com/huesca/cuevas-de-las-guixas-en-villanua/

It is an excellent base for the skiing station of Candanchu and Canfranc especially and for the lovers of nature and walks, bikes, it is very laidback and the hotel/restaurant we stayed and always stop is still there even if the name has change. Even if we do not stop, we always passed by here at least one way and take a look at the hotel. The story is we arrived very late by 22h or 10pm and the kitchen was closed, but the nice owner open it to serve us and even allow to take pictures of his pyrenian dogs.

Villanua

Hotel we always stayed Faus Hutte now new name in villanua

Canfranc

up to France Torre de Fusileros in Canfranc

Memories to last a lifetime. I have many paper photos and with the aid of the internet and wordpress blogs my history can now be kept longer and for more to know the beauty of the mountains of Huesca and Aragon, kingdom of Spain.

Enjoy your week. Happy travels, good health and many cheers!

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May 14, 2018

La Rochelle in the Atlantic ocean!

This is one of our favorite cities in France , really, that is saying a lot when you have visited zillions of villages here over the years. It was found by chance, as my oldest son studied hotelerie/restaurant in Paris and needed a semester of on hands study here several years back. He came back very happy of the experience ,and we that had by passed the town on several occassion decided it was time to visit. We did for several days renting an appart hotel just by the museums in Gabut neighborhood. Oh yes I am talking about La Rochelle.

I have written on it for the vistior experiences in previous posts will put them here for visitor references.

Seafaring La Rochelle;  https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2014/12/29/the-seafarest-of-la-rochelle/

Museums and nights at La Rochelle: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2014/12/30/la-rochelle-continues-night-and-museums/

I like to go into the general history and a brief description of what is there to see as to how to get here next.

La Rochelle is in departément 17 of the Charente-Maritime in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. It is located on the borders of the Atlantic Ocean in the esplanade at sea of Pertuis d’Antioche and protected by barriers islands such as Ré, Oléron, and Aix. It is therefore, an important port and since the 12C, holding the title of  Gate to the Ocean or Porte Océane with three harbors marinas fishing, commercial and pleasure .

To give you an idea of the central location of the city even if a sea port let me tell you about the distances ok. It is at 472 km southwest of Paris link by the N11 and A10 now ; only 63 km from Niort, 125 km from Poitiers, 130 km from Angouléme, 147 km south of Nantes, and 187 km north of Bordeaux. Many roads by passes it in addition to the N11 and A10 above, you have the D137 and A837 as well as the N141. Nearby towns are close too such as Saintes only 70 km, by the A837, 30 km north of Rochefort by the D137 and to the island or ïle de Ré by a bridge or pont de l’île de Ré (just wonderful see my previous post on the island). You have ample bus transportation in the area first the RTCR has buses covering La Rochelle and the suburbs and the Ocecars has 11 linles covering the adjacent towns after that. There is a great train station in Gare de La Rochelle and an extension of the line to service the great cruise port of la Pallice.

La Rochelle

La Rochelle was a village from the 10C , the château fort de Vauclair built early 12C by the lords of Mauléon and Rochefort, later Guillaume X Duke of Aquitaine became lord of La Rochelle in 1130. He gave the town a ramparts and a charter of free port and once the English market opened after the marriage of Aliénor d’Aquitaine in 1152 the presence of the Templars and knights of St John of Jerusalem gave the town the biggest port in the Atlantic. The town passes from the kingdom of France king Louis VII to the king of England Henri II Plantagenêt; by 1224 Louis VIII annexed the town to the royal domain; in 1360 by the treaty of Brétigny, the town goes back to the kingdom of England. IN 1371 the locals send off the English out of the castle but left open the gates to Duguesclin ,that after confirmation by king Charles V of the privilidges to the town insuring to remain in royal possession of France.

In the 16C the doctrine of Calvin weights heavy here and La Rochelle becomes one of the principal centers of Protestants with many sieges of it by king Charles IX in 1573 and 1628 by Richelieu himself with heavy resistant by the mayor Jean Guiton that had built a digue of 1500 meters to isolate the city from the sea and his English allies, done but surrended the city to king Louis XIII eventually. By 1822 there was the conspiracy of the four sargents or Quatre Sergents a secret society of mostly sub officers that were trying to overcome the Restoration (king back in power ) they were discovered in time put in prison in Paris first where they were condemn to die and executed. This sentence made them martyrs of king Louis XVIII and at La Rochelle, that is why I am writing on it, they were initially imprisoned at the tour de La Lanterne where the graffitis can still be seen.

Some of the great men who passed by here included François Rabelais that he mentioned in his masterwork Pantagruel, the military engineer Choderlos de Laclos who first wrote dangerous liaisons or Liaisons dangereuses in 1782 and visit the city in 1786. Eugéne Fromentin is a writer painter native of La Rochelle, with his novel Dominique he wrote of life in the city in the 19C. Guy de Maupassant wrote about it in his work L’Epave in 1886. And many others.

To walk is to marvel of the best of France , it is a fortified city and just lovely we really fell for it. Many memories now of my other half.  Some of the nicest walks are in the quartier du Gabut or neighborhood nice and museums , Cours des Dames with boatbuilders houses, Rue Sur les Murs linking the tour de La Chaîne to the Tour de La Lanterne, and the Quai Duperré full of cafés  and facing the big clock or grosse horloge the statue of admiral Duperré born here in 1775 and leader of the fleet that took Algers in 1830. A main street is the Rue du Palais, Rue Chaudrier with wooden houses with a sculpture of Ronsard, at the end of this street on a small garden you see the house call Maison Henri II built in 1555 because done in his style of construction. Grande Rue des Merciers, loaded with shops and homes of the  17C ,and the rue de Minage covered with old arcades with very old houses such as no 43 ,22, 4 ,and 2 .The old port or Vieux Port is gorgeous with its towers or Tour Saint Nicolas, and Tour de la Chaine, and Tour de la Lanterne only left from the ramparts covering the town in 1628 mostly demolished by Richelieu. The gate or Porte de la Grosse Horloge kept the entry to the city from the old town still in medieval conditions   You see the remarkable city hall or Hôtel de Ville in the renaissance style and many buildings from the 17C and 18C like the chamber of commerce old Bourse or stock house.

La Rochelle La Rochelle La Rochelle

The city has wonderful parks too amazing. The two we like and biggest are the parc Charruyer created from 1887 on 40 hectares on military lands that were swampy with marshes located at the foot of the fortifications west of town dating from the ramparts of 1685; the park was finished in 1890 and originally was called the parc Monceau   of La Rochelle. It gives to the   Allées du Mail which at the summit you have the parc Franck Delmas, name after a local resistance fighter assassinated for his acts by the nazis in WWII. Before this part was private but now it is public with its wonderful Villa Fort Louis in the center of the park of 7 hectares and this park was renovated in 1999 due to the storm Martin.

At the beginning there were pools of sea water here and centers of Thalassotherapy from the 18C then the beach was open at Plage de la Concurrence and the town exploded with beachgoers from 1907. Other beaches followed such as those of the plage des Minimes in 1978, later plage de Chef de Baie and Plage d’Aytré. At the extreme point of the plage des Minimes you find the Phare du bout du Monde (lighthouse at the end of the world) a replica of the one in Cap Horn off South Africa. The lighthouse is in wood in an octagonal form with lights of 7 lamps with colza oil   good vision for 26 km at an angle of 93 degrees . One of the best aquarium in Europe that of La Rochelle in the neighborhood of the Gabut just on the other side of the old harbor has 10K animals from all the world in 3K sq meters of water divided into 65 basins. A nice visit indeed.

La Rochelle

You have the principal religious temples here such as Saint Louis Cathedral , Chapel of Notre Dame de l’Esperance, Church of Notre Dame de Cougnes, ,and Church of Saint Sauveur. Several museums here my favorites are the bunker museum or musée du bunker de la Rochelle on a real bunker of 280 square meters recounting the history of WWII here. Fine arts museum or Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Rochelle since 1845 on the old bishop’s house in city center with local painters. Natural history museum or Muséum d’Histoire naturelle since 1831 in the governor mansion given by Napoléon in 1808, the New World Museum or musée Nouvelle Monde given history from the 16C on what the locals have done in the world. The marine or musée maritime on floating and on land with 8 heritage boats in the basin of the old port allowing you to see the meteorological boat France 1. The automated museum or musée des Automates the first in France a collection of automated toys from all over Europe and all periods. Wonderful as well as the reduce models museum or Musée des Modéles Réduits.

La Rochelle La Rochelle La Rochelle La Rochelle La Rochelle

Many wonderful events here to check it out to be here at the time and reservations in advance. In May, Jazz Around La Rochelle since 2001 traditional jazz in a New Orleans ambiance wonderful. In June the Festival international du film since 1973 second only to Cannes in France;in July, the Francofolies since 1984, French music concerts and discovery of new talent. The Grand Pavois, in September lasting a week, the biggest international on water boat salon at the port des Minimes.

More information to help you enjoy your visit here can be found in the below official links.

The city of La Rochelle on tourism in English: https://www.larochelle.fr/en/discover-the-city.html

La Rochelle tourist office in English: http://www.holidays-la-rochelle.co.uk/

Department 17 Charente Maritime tourism https://www.infiniment-charentes.com/destination/que-faire-a-la-rochelle/

Region of Nouvelle Aquitaine tourism http://www.tourisme-aquitaine.fr/?lang=en

Enjoy La Rochelle, we really did and fond memories of it. There is so much to see just in France sometimes we take time in coming back to things we saw, but this one is high on the list for a return soon. As I said, happy travels, good health, and many cheers!!!

 

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