February 29, 2020

A revisit to the Potager du Roi, Versailles!

And cannot be too far from my beloved Versailles.  I  have written so much on it, sorry if sometimes I repeat myself. Of course, written on the wonderful Potager du Roi but have some new pictures to tell you a recap and encourage you to visit it.

The Potager du roi.  At the request of king Louis XIV, gardener Jean-Baptiste de la Quintinie made this vegetable/fruit garden between 1678-1683.  It provided the king with its own supplies of veggies well done for his taste. The design is of three central trails of about 3 hectares ( 7,4 acres) divided into 16 squares all around a fountain. At the center of each square, surrounded by fruit trees, you have rounds of vegetables flourishing. You will have a wonderful view of this from the terraces. You will discover about 12 enclosed gardens with its collection of fruit trees where still the art of growing them continues. You can,also, with time take a course in gardening at this wonderful place.


The Potager du Roi is located at 10 rue du Maréchal Joffre, just in front of the Cathedrale Saint Louis. You can come from Paris on the RER C to rive gauche, take a left to rue du Gal Leclerc and  take left on Maréchal Joffre, about 10 mins walking. It is open from April 1 to October 31 every day except Mondays from 10h to 18h, and from November 1 to March 31 the tuesdays and thursdays from 10h to 13h. However these are the general times, it can change each year


The King’s Vegetable garden, or potager du roi ,which has an orchard of some 5 000 fruit trees (more than 400 different varieties), produces good year bad year about 50 tons of fruit and 20 tons of vegetables, part of which is sold in the store boutique (open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays morning).


It is a nice place and recently given the attention it deserve for renovation and keep it for generations more.  I will give some webpages to help you plan your trip here

Official Potager du Roi how to get there in French: Potager du Roi how to get there

The official webpage of the management of the Potager du Roi is done by the l’École nationale supérieure de paysage or the National School of Landscape, more info in French here: National School of Landscape Versailles on the Potager du Roi

Official Gardens of France on the Potager du Roi in French with a nice layout map of the garden: Jardins de France on the Potager du Roi

Tourist office of Versailles on the Potager du Roi in English: Tourist office of Versailles on the Potager du Roi

And the Americans to the rescue of the Potager du Roi , the WMF (World Monuments Fund)  is helping restore this wonderful place in the history of Versailles, France and apparently the world; more info in English here: Official WMF org on restoration of the Potager du Roi

And if you want to help why not join the Friends of the garden or Association des Amis du Potager du Roi in French here: Assoc Friends of the Potager du Roi

There you go another dandy in Versailles, and like i always repeat, the Royal city is more than a Palace/Museum even if this is huge indeed. Hope you enjoy your visit here a lot more than a one day trip to the palace and enjoy fully my Versailles. Enjoy the shopping in the Potager du Roi too!!! superbe!

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

February 28, 2020

A bit more on the wines of Spain!

Ok so is not all French wines with me. I grew up drinking Spanish wines, believe I told you already my grandmother gave me a zip of a Marqués de Riscal red Rioja when I was 8 yrs old! And the tradition took off never to look back. Wine is a way of life, tradition, but good foodie complement and I follow it to the letter with diplomas from France and Spain on its wines.

I have written a bit on Spanish wines before , mainly on region overall history and making of the wine. I have done the same for France. However, done a brief introduction to the wines of Castilla La Mancha but not the others for lack of photos. This has change found them and will tell you a bit more on the wines of Spain.  Disclaimer, the prices are only a guide,they may differ in your area or at time of purchase.

Believe me I had this one for the first time in La Coruña, Galicia and been after it ever since on my visits there. This was one of first bottles. The Juan Gil Jumilla Castilla La Mancha 2014 . Nice density and velvety texture. It is clearly distinguished by its nose, a real explosion of fruit, and by its delicacy on the palate. It is a sweeter wine, with perfectly balanced tannins. a varied wine from the Monastrell variety, the variety that reigns in Jumilla. The grapes come from a single estate of old vines over forty years old planted on limestone and stone soils, at an altitude of about 800 meters above sea level. The cost is around 10 euros. Webpage: Official Bodegas Juan Gil


Marqués De Griñon Red 2010 Dominio de Valdepusa, Castilla La Mancha. The grapes with which the wines are produced come from the own vineyard planted 20 years ago. After fermenting in stainless steel tanks, it is aged in a heated container in French oak barrels for 18/24 months. Ruby red color of high layer, intense aroma of red forest fruit and spices, structured and powerful in the mouth. To consume today, but it will certainly improve over the next ten years. Cabernet Sauvignon (90%). Merlot (10%). The cost is about 20 euros. webpage: Official Pagos de familia wines of Marqués de Griñon


Bodega Garcia Carrion Pata Negra Valdepeñas Gran Reserva 2006 ;Castilla La Mancha. This Pata Negra Gran Reserva is a deep red wine, the tile tones appear very slightly, in the nose the aging aromas are complemented with the aromas of the variety, which are no longer fruity but have evolved to more complex spices and dairy. It is a structured, very pleasant, enveloping wine with a long aftertaste. A wine whose destiny is a five-year-old guard perfectly accompanies red and roasted meats. Theh cost is about 20 euros. webpage: Bodega Garcia Carrion on Pata Negra Valdepeñas


Bodegas Félix Solis Altos de Tamaron Reserva 2006 Ribera del Duero. Cherry red color with medium layer ocher trim. Very clean and bright. Complex and elegant aroma, with marked mineral notes and other very suggestive aromas. In the mouth it is powerful, broad and with great harmony. Red meat, bush hunting, cured cheeses and lamb stews. The cost is about 12.50 euros. webpage: Bodega Felix Solis Avantis on Altos de Tamaron

ribera del duero

Bodega Lan Crianza 2016. Rioja. Red Crianza wine made mainly with Tempranillo grapes and complemented with Mazuelo. A classic wine from the strains of Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa, balanced and with a combination of fruity varietals and unmistakable spicy aromas. A wine with character and elegance. The cost is about 9 euros. Webpage: Bodegas Lan wines


Bodega Ramon Bilbao Crianza 2016. Rioja. The wine is a renewed classic which bases a large part of its regularity on an exhaustive monitoring of the whole process of maturation of the grape. It is a mono-varietal wine made from Tempranillo grapes, a typical variety from La Rioja, which comes from several plots. It is only when bottled that they combine to become one of the most balanced and versatile reds in Rioja, a harmonious wine that conquers any good meal and that can be enjoyed from its youth. Once decanted, it wears a brilliant garnet color with a medium layer and an intense nose of wild black fruit, licorice and warm spicy notes of nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon. On the palate, it is tasty and balanced, with good acidity and a perfect integration of tannins. Roasted tones appear behind the first sip. The cost is about 9 euros.Webpage: Bodegas Ramon Bilbao wines


The Bodega Ramon Bilbao limited edition or edicion limitada 2014.  Rioja. 100% Tempranillo, with soul and fruitiness. Ruby red wine with notes of black grapes, ripe and aged in noble barrels. The palate is long, with weight and presence of the terroir. House with veal, smoked and soft cheeses. The cost is about 15 euros. webpage: Bodegas Ramon Bilbao on limited edition wine


Bodegas CVNE Viña Real 2012. Rioja. Wine made from grapes from the Rioja Alavesa area harvested by hand and processed in Viña Real. Once the malolactic fermentation has been done the wine goes mainly to age in American oak barrels where it remains 13 – 14 months. During this time, the wine acquires the aromatic balance which characterizes the wine as well as its finesse and great expression. This wine shows shades of medium to deep shiny cherry colour on a purple background. To the nose, intense aromas of ripe fruits (blackberries, blackcurrants) stand out, complemented with subtle hints of oak. To the palate, it shows structured and round with a good integration of fruitiness and oakiness. The aftertaste is marked by very well balanced tannins as well as by persistent spicy, toasty and balsamic aromas. A long stay in bottle is the finishing touch to this Rioja Alavesa wine’s character. The cost is about 9 euros. Webpage: Bodegas CVNE on its wines


Some webpages to compliment those above and provide you with more info for your plan to visit and they are a must, wines is it.

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on its wines in English: Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on wines

The wines of Ribera del DueroRibera del Duero wines

The DOC official wines of La RiojaOfficial Wines of Rioja DOC

There you go ,now you all set to enjoy the wines of Spain ,whether those above , recommended or your own finds, wine is good, enjoy it.

Oh yes Spanish nostalgia.  You get the idea , and I won’t translate;;;!!! En vino veritas!

La comida es la parte material de la alimentación, pero el vino es la parte espiritual de nuestro alimento.» Alejandro Dumas

“Un buen vino es como una buena película: dura un instante y te deja en la boca un sabor a gloria; es nuevo en cada sorbo y, como ocurre con las películas, nace y renace en cada sabor.” Federico Fellini

El vino hace la vida más fácil y llevadera, con menos tensiones y más tolerancia.» Benjamin Franklin

Dios no hizo más que el agua, pero el hombre hizo el vino.» Victor Hugo

«El vino es la cosa más civilizada del mundo.» Ernest Hemingway

El vino da brillantez a las campiñas, exalta los corazones, enciende las pupilas y enseña a los pies la danza.” José Ortega y Gasset

El vino, mientras más se envejece, más calor tiene: al contrario de nuestra naturaleza, que mientras más vive, más se va enfriando.» Lope de Vega

«Se templado en el beber, considerando que el vino demasiado ni guarda secreto ni cumple palabra.» Cervantes

«Me gustaría ser todo de vino y beberme yo mismo.» Federico García Lorca

«Para conservar la salud y cobrarla si se pierde, conviene alargar en todo y en todas maneras el uso del beber vino, por ser, con moderación, el mejor vehículo del alimento y la más eficaz medicina.» Francisco de Quevedo

«Un gran vino requiere un loco para hacerlo crecer, un hombre sabio para velar por él, un poeta lúcido para elaborarlo, y un amante que lo entienda.» Salvador Dalí

Remember, always with moderation but keep the tradition going after all these folks above could not be wrong. Enjoy the wines of Spain

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


February 28, 2020

Saint Peter at Montfort L’Amaury

So sticking around this quant and nice town in my beloved Yvelines department 78 of the Ïle de France region of my belle France.  I will tell you a bit more on the nice things to see in Montfort L’Amaury

This time will need to tell you a bit more on the St Peter’s Church or église St Pierre located at Place de la Liberation. 

Montfort L'Amaury

A bit on the town history  I like.

Count Amaury I who inherits the titles of his father. Under his authority will be built the castle, the ramparts, the churches of Saint Pierre and Saint Laurent . The Montfort family perpetuate themselves with Yolande who, by her marriage to the Duke of Brittany Arthur II links the county to the Duchy of Brittany. From this union was born Anne of Brittany, Queen of France twice and Duchess of Brittany who embellished the City of Montfort L’Amaury with its constructions. Today, Montfort l’Amaury has become a place of residence for artists who come to relax and find their inspiration.

Montfort L'Amaury

The wonderful impressive by its size and the size of the town is St Peter’s Church from the 15C and 16C ordered rebuilt by Anne de Bretagne in 1491, at the place of the old medieval church of the 11C ordered built by Count Amaury Ier de Montfort. If you are into these sort of things ,there is a cemetary from the 15C and 16C surrounded by galleries looking like a cloister serving as charniers for the inhumanisation of corps taken from the old cemetary by the Church; nice looking cloister entrance.

Montfort L'Amaury

The St Peter’s Church is made of cut stone. It consists of three naves and eleven spans. Its facade is surmounted by a tall, stocky bell tower. This same facade has a semicircular arch entrance with a semicircular bay on each side highlighting the side aisles of the nave. The church is dotted with typically Gothic bays alternating with buttresses. You will note the presence of gargoyles in the upper part of the church holding as well as buttressing arches to the east supporting the structure. Side openings provide access to the interior of the church. The église St Pierre ends on a semicircular apse also reinforced by flying arches and pierced with Gothic bays. The interior of the church is vaulted in quadripartite warheads with magnificent hanging keys.

Montfort L'Amaury

The Romanesque St Peter’s Church, surrounded by its cemetery, was becoming too small and perhaps dilapidated. It is undoubtedly Queen Anne of Brittany who commissioned the construction of a new place of worship. The bedside and ambulatory have started, but work must be stopped before resuming around 1532; the vault of the nave then stops at the old Romanesque bell tower, still in place. The last works, covering and gargoyles, date from 1595. In 1613, the church receives a facade inspired by a drawing by Philibert Delorme. It was not until 1848 that the nave, beyond the bell tower, was raised to the height of the first part. The northern part of the Romanesque bell tower, with its two twin bays, is probably from the 11C. The construction of the bell tower-porch was completed in 1851.

Finally, the 16C stained glass windows are perhaps the most precious jewel in the building. Brilliant in color, these thirty-seven canopies are a precious summary of the art of the time. Lead salts, enamel and Venetian glass are at the service of a refined design and a very complete iconography synthesizing the great scenes of the Old Testament, of the life of the Virgin, that of Christ and the Saints.

It is a small detour not far from Versailles or Paris but worth the off the beaten path visit to Montfort L’Amaury and the Church of St Pierre! Hope you enjoy the post

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Montfort L’Amaury on Ch St Pierre in French

Official Church St Peter in French

Tourist office of the Yvelines dept 78 on Ch St Pierre in French

There you go another dandy in my beloved Yvelines 78, the royal grounds of France. And behold not know it at the time of the visit but now live in Brittany and all makes sense of the Montfort’s! Superbe!! Hope you enjoy the Church of St Peter in Montfort L’Amaury!

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




February 28, 2020

A composer at Montfort L’Amaury!

Here I am in a music mode! Well there is so much in my belle France. I have written on this one briefly but feels he needs a bit more. Therefore, here is my hommage to Maurice Ravel, the composer.

When I was in Versailles, I came often to his town and initially walking to the tour donjon of Anne de Bretagne, saw his house by chance. Then, the rest is history. I like to tell you more about the Maison Museum of Maurice Ravel in Montfort L’Amaury in the Yvelines dept 78 of the ïle de France region.

Montfort L'Amaury mus maison Maurice Ravel 2011

The house now museum of Maurice Ravel (music composer creator of Bolero )  call the  Belvédère, a mansion from the 20C at the foot of the ruins of the donjon/tower Anne de Bretagne ,looking down on the house by Rue Maurice Ravel.

Montfort L'Amaury

Le Belvédère is the name of the house located in Montfort-l’Amaury  that the composer Maurice Ravel lived for sixteen years from 1921 until the year of his death in a clinic in Paris in 1937

This relatively modest and cramped house, acquired in January 1921, owes its name to its hillside location and the panorama it offers of the town of Montfort-l’Amaury and the Rambouillet forest in the background. It is in this house that the composer composed almost all of his works from 1921, including L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, Chansons madécasses, the famous Boléro (I know him for it), the Concerto in G for piano and orchestra, the Concerto pour le main gauche.

The house, inherited by the musician’s brother, Édouard Ravel, firstly remained under the care of the musician’s faithful governess of Breton origin, Mrs. Marie Reveleau. the custody of the Belvedere was jointly entrusted in 1954 to Céleste Albaret, former governess of Marcel Proust, and to her sister Marie Gineste. However, Céleste Albaret had to leave the Belvedere in 1970. In his second authentic will of July 18, 1958, Édouard Ravel bequeathed the Belvedere to the Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Union of National Museums).  The museum officially opened as such on May 18, 1973

Guided tours in small groups are organized there every weekend, and during the week by appointment. The house contains many precious and unusual objects. Indeed, Ravel collected trinkets, surprising and wonderful objects. He took great care to decorate his house, perfectly in his image. In the music room are the composer’s office and his Erard piano, made in 1908 and acquired in 1911, who traveled from 4 avenue Carnot to Paris where he was until 1917, then to Neuilly-sur-Seine until at the installation at the Belvedere which began in January 1921

In this room of the house there are also, in addition to numerous objects and souvenirs, five family portraits: two portraits of the child composer, one by his Swiss uncle Édouard Ravel and the other painted in 1886; one of his younger brother Édouard Ravel as a child by the Swiss uncle Édouard Ravel, one of his mother Marie Delouart also by uncle Édouard Ravel and one of his father Joseph Ravel. In the dining room, there is among other things a realistic bust of Maurice Ravel made in the summer of 1928.

The Belvedere can be visited by appointment with the Tourist Office of Montfort-l’Amaury, in groups of six people at most. See the second link below for reservations.

The foundation of Maurice Ravel has more info on the house museum in English here: Foundation of Maurice Ravel on the Belvedere house museum

The city of Montfort L’Amaury on the house museum Maurice Ravel in English

There you go a bit of culture away in a small quant town in my beloved Yvelines, nearer my dear Versailles. Its a nice detour to see what could be call an off the beaten path visit in my belle France. The house museum Maurice Ravel is very interesting if into music.

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

ps. and give credit when credit is due hooray for Montfort L’Amaury and Ravel.  Le Village préfére des Français or the Favorite Village of the French? We will have to wait until the start of summer 2020  to find out on France 3 television, on the program of the same name. Stéphane Bern will take up his pilgrim’s staff to take viewers to visit the fourteen villages vying for this 2020 edition. A stroll that will pass, in Île-de-France, through the charming little medieval town of Montfort-l’Amaury, in the Yvelines, which also houses, through a museum, the memory of the composer Maurice Ravel, the man of the “Boléro”. Stay tune!!



February 27, 2020

A Notre Dame at Amiens!

Ok so you know we have a lot of Notre Dame in France, and it means Our Lady or signified the Mother of Jesus , Mary. There is a very famous one in Paris but there is the biggest in Amiens. I have written little on Amiens yet visited several times over the years. I need to get going here folks; so let me tell you a bit about the Cathédrale Notre Dame d’Amiens.

Wait a minute, this is a huge task just looking at the library of yours truly so much written on it and so much information, will need to write another book on it. However, been the uncreative guy I am , let me tell you just a bit on it on this post ok.

The Cathedral of  Notre-Dame in Amiens, the biggest medieval and religious building in France (twice the size of Notre Dame of Paris) . It is 145 meters long ,with an arrow top at 112 meters, the nave vaults are 42 meters high.  OF course, it is in Amiens, dept 80 of the Somme in the region of Hauts de France.


The Cathedral Notre Dame of Amiens has lost most of its original stained glass, but it remains famous for its 13C Gothic sculptures adorning its western facade and the portal of the Golden Virgin on the south facade of the transept, as well as the stalls, work of art in cabinetry. Its architectural unity is evident, except for the upper parts of the two towers. The elevation of the nave of the choir and the transept reflects the ingenuity and boldness of the builders.


The current Notre Dame Cathedral occupies a site where several sanctuaries have followed one another and of which the historians knows little, due to the lack of texts and archaeological excavations. Catholic tradition, however, traces the Christianisation of Amiens to the arrival at the end of the 3C of Firmin who would have suffered martyrdom at the end of the 3C or at the very beginning of the 4C. He is considered by Catholics as the first bishop of Amiens. The first church was dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul, later to Saint Firmin the Confessor; the second devoted to Our Lady and to Saint Firmin the Martyr. Following a fire which destroyed a large part of the city, a new Romanesque church was built between 1137 and 1152, the year of its consecration, but there are any document to determine what it was. The prestige increased dramatically with the arrival in 1206 of the chief of Saint John the Baptist.


At the beginning of the 13C, period of the reign of king Philippe-Auguste, Amiens knew a period of prosperity. It was the bishop Évrard de Fouilloy who would have laid the first stone of the church under the pillar supporting the statue of the Golden Virgin at the south portal of the transept. It was necessary to offer the relic of Saint John the Baptist a case worthy of the importance of the character. And to welcome pilgrims from all over Europe, you had to think big. The construction work begins with the foundations in 1220 and the laying of the first stone takes place the same year as evidenced by the inscriptions in the labyrinth and above the portal called the Golden Virgin.


The Notre Dame Cathedral is erected on a plan in the shape of a Latin cross and is liturgically oriented from East to West, with an inclination to the south of about 23 degrees. It has a surface of 7,700 m2 and a volume of 200,000 meters. Its aisle with aisles opens onto a transept overflowing with collaterals and a Choir which includes five naves. The bedside consists of three straight spans with double side pieces. The ambulatory is surrounded by seven radiating chapels, of which the central one, the axial chapel, resembles in architecture the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, of which it is contemporary. The elevation in the nave is tripartite: large arcades, triforium and the skylight of the tall windows. The pillars supporting the arches are round and confined by four columns. The rib vaults are supported by engaged columns.

During the French revolution: In December 1793, volunteers from Lille entered the Notre Dame Cathedral and mutilated with sabre the sculptures of the enclosure of the choir; they were restored in the 19C. The statue of Saint Louis in the Chapelle du Pilier or Chapel of the Pillar was destroyed, crosses were also removed, but most of the carved decoration was preserved. In 1793, the cathedral was transformed into a temple of Reason and Truth and then, in 1794, a temple of the Supreme Being. Catholic worship was restored there in 1795.

During WWI: In 1915 during an episode of intense bombardment, the three portals of the main facade as well as the portal of the Golden Virgin were covered with a formwork made up of dirt sacks, to protect as much as possible their sculpted decoration. In July 1918, during the last German offensive in the west, the cathedral fell under the fire of the German imperial troops, in spite of the intervention of the Pope with the Emperor William II. On April 4, a shell crossed the roof of the choir, without much damage. On the 25th of the same month, three shells reached the cathedral and a buttress was destroyed, the vault of the south aisle of the choir was pierced as well as the paving, a third shell destroyed the first span of the southern triforium and opened the wind tunnel of the organ placed there. A few days later, the vault of the Chapelle de l’Annonciation or Chapel of the Annunciation was pierced by a shell, the first flying buttress south of the apse was destroyed by another and a third touched the outside of the cathedral near the sacristy. The grandstand organ was dismantled by the Paris fire brigade, the stained glass windows were also dismantled and sent to Paris to be restored there before reassembly. Unfortunately, they were largely destroyed by an accidental fire in the Paris premises where they were stored.

During WWII: In May 1940, during the Nazis bombardments which destroyed a large part of the city center. Many of the buildings surrounding the Notre Dame Cathedral were destroyed, but fortunately the cathedral was not affected. Allied bombing in 1944 also spared the cathedral.

In 1981, the Notre Dame Cathedral of Amiens was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO. In 1998 it was registered a second time under the Routes of Compostela in France. Some of the events and I pick my favorites are: king Charles VIII and Queen Anne of Brittany came to Amiens on June 11, 1493 and went to the Notre Dame Cathedral. On September 25, 1513, Louis XII attended, at the Notre Dame Cathedral of Amiens, the Mass of the feast of Saint Firmin. In June 1517, it was François I and Queen Claude of France who came to Amiens and went to the cathedral. King Henry IV came twice to the Notre Dame Cathedral of Amiens to attend a religious ceremony, the first time on August 18, 1594 after the city recognized him as king of France, the second time on September 25, 1597 after the city was taken over from the Spanish. King Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu attended a thanksgiving ceremony at the Notre Dame Cathedral after the fall of Arras, from the Spanish on August 9, 1640.

Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul, accompanied by Joséphine de Beauharnais, visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral and struck by the beauty and majesty of the cathedral, would have said this sentence: “Atheists must not be well here”, June 28, 1803. The October 12, 1854, Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie, attended in the Notre Dame Cathedral the inauguration of the Chapelle Sainte-Theudosie chapel whose Empress Eugenie had financed, on her personal wealth, the refitting and decoration under the direction of Eugène Viollet -le Duc. On November 7, 1920, Marshal Foch attended the inauguration ceremony for the monument in memory of the Australian soldiers who died on the soil of the Somme department during WWI or Great War.

This is a huge wonderful gorgeous Cathedral that needs to be visited by all means while in France. Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Notre Dame Cathedral in English

Official Notre Dame Cathedral on the 800 years anniversary in French

city of Amiens on the Notre Dame Cathedral in French

Tourist office of the Somme dept 80 on Notre Dame Cathedral in French

And there you go folks just a brief introduction to what should be on anybody’s list of things to see in France. Remember, Notre Dame Cathedral in AMIENS, Somme dept 80, region of Hauts de France, in my belle France!

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

Tags: ,
February 27, 2020

Another look at the world of wines!

Let me give you some news from the world of wines, my world. If you have read my blog you know that once in a while I need to tell you about wines. It is part of our family tradition for generations and of course it is tradition not alcohol. We drink respectfully.

As the lead country, France, wine is always on the table and my table. There are some rumblings out there and would like to keep you abreast and a notch for me too. Here are the latest tidbits of the wine world from France.

The cru bourgeois are making their revolution with new colorful banner (brand identity), new coat of arms (logo) and new motto (baseline): “Quality with the eyes closed”. But in substance, they return to the old regime, distinguishing “crus bourgeois exceptionnels”, “crus bourgeois supérieurs” and “crus bourgeois“. The selection was unveiled in Bordeaux this past Thursday, February 20 (hot off the press!!) . It is the fruit of nine years of work intended to extinguish the smoldering sling. Because, in this immense and very diverse family of XXS or XXL vineyards, family properties, belonging to private or institutional investors, or even active in large groups, which represents 31% of the production of the Médoc with 28 million bottles, the chateaux enjoying a brand as strong as the label threatened to secede.

Owners and traders deplored the volatile nature of the annual classification: how to explain to the markets which abhor the uncertainty that a same vintage is bourgeois in this year and loses this quality the following year. Consumers, themselves, wondered about a price range varying from simple to triple depending on the prestige of the appellation and the reputation of the chateau with prices generally pulled down. The L’Alliance des crus bourgeois du Médoc,( Médoc Crus Bourgeois Alliance) has therefore clarified its offer. The new protocol, validated by the public authorities, introduces a return to prioritisation with constraints and independent controls specific to each category. And stabilizes the offer with a classification valid for five years, enough to sustain trade relations. They need to adapt to an ultra-competitive global market, while the quality level has generally gone up. This revised classification sounds a new start for the cru bourgeois wines.

Two hundred and forty-nine chateaux have therefore been selected from seven Médoc appellations. Fourteen are distinguished “crus bourgeois exceptionnels” wines, fifty-six are recognized as “crus bourgeois supérieurs” , 179 are “crus bourgeois “. The first level of qualification was for all a blind tasting, by the verification body set up by the association, of five vintages chosen between 2008 and 2016. For candidates for an additional mention, the second level of qualification included the tasting of five other vintages. It was then a question of appreciating the regularity of the quality, as well as the evaluation of the cultural and environmental practices, the management of the exploitation, the promotion of the vintage, the quality of reception, and the wine tourism offer.

Three categories but a collective promotion. Among the crus bourgeois exceptionnels winners are some of my favorites (in black) and others, these are Agassac, Arnaud, Belle-Vue, Cambon La Pelouse, Charmail, Malescasse, Malleret, Taillan (in AOC Haut-Médoc), Arsac and Paveil de Luze (Margaux), Le Boscq, Le Crock and Lilian Ladouys ( Saint-Estèphe), Château Lestage (Listrac-Médoc).

All these new “exceptional” were once “superior”. A good progression therefore. And among the new “superiors” of today, 24 ordinary citizens of yesterday are promoted while 18 regain their former title. It included nine “exceptional” (including Chasse-Spleen, Haut-Marbuzet or Phélan-Ségur) which, since, have prospered and 87 superior. Those who today would be unhappy with their fate still have the opportunity to appeal. As for the coexistence of these three categories, on the need for collective promotion, mention or not in titles. To be seen now the public reaction and welcome of these labels and properties. There are in general a very good price quality ratio to had.

More info in English at the official webpage of the Alliance: https://www.crus-bourgeois.com/en/

One of the best wine salons fairs in France is at Mâcon; Saône et Loire dept 71 in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region. Knowing a growing success, the Salon des Vins de Mâcon or Mâcon Wine Fair is renewed for the year 2020 on April 17, 18 and 19.

The show offers a tour of France of the wine regions. It will take place at the Mâcon Exhibition Center. You can discover and taste wines from all over the country and build a quality cellar at various prices. This event, open to the general public, promotes discussion between producers and consumers in a warm and friendly meeting place. The Concours des Grands Vins de France or the Great Wines of France Competition is also organized among all the exhibitors and will reward the best wine. The latter will take place on Saturday 18 April 2020.

Brief info the event will be held at the “Le Spot” Parc des Expositions, avenue Pierre Bérégovoy, 71000 Mâcon. The schedule hours are Friday April 17 from 14h to 21h, Saturday April 18 from 10h to 21h, and Sunday April 19 from 10h to 19h. Price admission is 5€ adult or free for children under 12 . The admission includes free tasting, and a free vintage tasting glass. More info here: https://www.concours-salons-vins-macon.com/

A misled issue out of trade barriers which we all talk of bringing down but still active. This one does not make sense as we cannot compare planes with wines! Apparently America thinks they are the same. The long meeting on Saturday with the President of the French Republic; Emmanuel Macron at the Salon de l’Agriculture or Agricultural Fair did not calm fears of the wine industry. Affected since October by a 25% surcharge on still wines exported to the United States, French wine-growers insist on the “urgency” of a response to an unprecedented crisis situation, which should cost them 300 to 400 million euros of turnover this year, out of 1.2 billion realized per year in the country of Uncle Sam.

A retaliatory measure linked to a judgment by the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Airbus, accused of receiving public subsidies that distort competition with Boeing. The WTO therefore authorized the United States to tax $ 7.5 billion in products imported from Europe per year. The Trump administration immediately imposed an import tax of 10% on commercial aircraft and 25% on wine (Airbus produced in the state of Alabama which explains the low tariffs applied to aeronautics so a biased system indeed). The EU is still evaluating their counterattack nbut it seems do not want or need further escalations on trade barriers. In the meantime, the French winemakers suffer and the public over the pond pays higher prices.

And be ready as from March 1 to 31, 2020, Duclot La Vinicole, distributor of Bordeaux Grands Crus, presents its ninth edition of “Carte sur Table” (menu on the table) . Fifteen very fine Bordeaux wines will be on the menu of prestigious establishments at cellar prices so that amateurs can indulge themselves from 60€ Château Branaire-Ducru 2012 to a 690€ Château Cheval Blanc 2006. The selection is made up of wines that have reached perfect maturity or are highlighted in younger vintages, ready to drink even if we can still keep them waiting. These fifteen vintages will be available in a dozen of mainly Parisian restaurants such as Le Gabriel, La Scène, Origines, Gaya, etc ; but also in Versailles in the Trianon Palace to which are added Flocons de Sel in Megève. Among the bottles not to be missed, let me tell you to note a Château Pavie-Macquin 2014, 1er grand cru Classé of juicy Saint-Emilion, powerful, mineral, with chalky tannins 75€, a Château Giscours 2006, 3rd classified growth of Margaux en magnum , supple and silky, with melted tannins 150€. In the Saint-Estèphe appellation, connoisseurs will appreciate the Château Cos d´Estournel 2008, 2nd growth classified complex and generous 160€ or the Château Lafon-Rochet 2001, 4th growth classified 75€. Without forgetting a Château Lafite Rothschild 2004, Premier Cru Classé of Pauillac 690€ as well as a Château l’Évangile 2012, a magnificent Pomerol 160€. Superb opportunity at good prices, more info here: https://www.cartesurtable.com/

And one big news if lately the country has scare a few…. We do not seems to stop going ,investing, and enjoying China. La Fondation pour la culture et les civilisations du vin or in English the Foundation for Wine Culture and Civilizations, which manages the Cité du Vin de Bordeaux, brings its expertise to a pharaonic Chinese project: musée universel du vin or the universal wine museum. The opening is scheduled for the end of 2021. A cultural center dedicated to wine will be created in Fangshan, 40 km from Beijing, just over five years after the inauguration of the Cité du Vin de Bordeaux. The two institutions work in cooperation, but it is neither a copy nor a trademark license.

Its initiator has been speaking French since the age of 12 and knows the hexagonal culture (French) and its wine well, he planted a 60 ha vineyard in 1999, south-west of Beijing, and vinifies his Château Bolongbao organically (“ Bo ”for Bordeaux,“ long ”for the duration and“ bao ”which means castle, very French), in Bordeaux style, and finally, the City/Town Hall of Beijing is participating in this museum project as well, of course…

The new 18,000 m² space, located next to the Bolongbao estate, will include a 6,700 m² permanent tour with temporary exhibitions, an auditorium, multi-sensory events, a cellar, a gourmet restaurant and a wine school. The neighboring commercial area with hotels will obviously include wine sales spaces for individuals. There will also be a breeding ground for Chinese and international businesses. Designed in partnership with the French agency Architecture Studio, based in Paris, Shanghai and Venice, the project is presented as a stone village backed by vines, inspired by Saint-Emilion. The Scarabée agency, which had already focused 10 years ago on the founding fund for what would become the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux, is also associated with the Chinese project.

The 5 themes presented will be: What is wine; wine in the world with 12 major countries, 6 from the New World, 6 from the old, including France and China; the history of wine in China, rich in its latest archaeological discoveries; wine and the senses will present the categories of wine (red, rosé, white, sparkling …) and their sensory effect, with whenever possible, a passage to practice and advice on the art of living. The unmissable tasting stage will be staged like in a Parisian bistro.

The cooperation project of the Cité du Vin de Bordeaux is the 4th French museum project in China. It was announced after, the opening of the annex to the Pompidou Center in Shanghai in November 2019, as part of a brand license agreement, sale of expertise, loan of works and organization of exhibitions. the association of the Musée Picasso Paris and the Giacometti Foundation with the opening of a new art center in Beijing in June 2020, in district 798, as part of a contract for the sale of expertise, loan of works and organization of exhibitions; the project to create a Rodin museum in Shenzhen, the fruit of a partnership between the Rodin Paris museum, the city of Shenzhen and a Chinese collector, within the framework of a contract for the sale of expertise, loan and purchases of works and organization of exhibitions. And a 5th project should be announced soon by another French scientific museum.

SOURCES: avis-vin.lefigaro.fr, lejournaldesentreprises.com, vitisphere.com, and winespectator.com

Hope you have enjoyed this special post on the wines from France. And do drink it awesome tradition with good food , good cheers, and good family reunions. En Nino Veritas.

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



February 27, 2020

The Basilica of Albert!!!

And do stay in the north of my belle France, the real thing, and wonderful things to see around here, close to family territory.  I have done posts on the region briefs and have come back with more on their main things to see me think. I take you now to Albert and the Basilica of Notre Dame de Brébiéres . It is the basilica of Albert and could be at least one of the Basilica’s of France for its history and meaning.

The wonderful Basilica of Notre Dame de Brébiéres built from 1885 to 1895 in neo byzantine style, and connects to the museum of  Somme 1916. See that post

The Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-Brebières was one of the high places of Marian worship in Picardy since the 11-12C. At the end of the 19C, the pilgrimage experienced a revival of fervor with all of Marian devotion. In 1895, at the time of its new inauguration, Pope Leo XIII conferred the honorary title of Minor Basilica on the new church. He specified in his papal bull his ambition for the basilica: “Albert would have to become the Lourdes of the North”. The bell tower-porch, 76 meters high, was surmounted by a dome carrying a golden statue of the Virgin which culminates in 82 meters. Albert’s basilica was completely destroyed during WWI ( Great War) . Just on the south side of the basilica is the entrance to the Somme 1916 Museum. As part of the ceremonies commemorating the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, American singer Barbara Hendricks gave a Peace Concert accompanied by the Orchestra de Picardie, on Friday July 1, 2016 at 22h at the Basilica Notre Dame of Brébiéres in Albert.


A bit on the construction which is unique me think

The main facade is formed by a porch with three gates located under the bell tower. The floor and the facade are decorated with mosaics. The bell tower-porch rises to 76 meters. Its upper part is made up of a dome carrying a virgin covered with 40,000 gold sheets, six meters high presenting the Child Jesus: the child’s arms form a cross. An outdoor gallery located sixty meters above the ground allows you to go around the bell tower and offers a remarkable view of the city and its surroundings. The plan of the basilica recalls that of the first Christian basilicas with a large apse formed by an elevated chapel and framed by two apsidioles leaning on both sides on the transept also finished in the north and in the south by two apsidioles . The transept crossing is surmounted by a small quadrangular lantern tower. A five-span nave flanked by two side aisles extends the basilica. Each of the spans communicates with the collaterals which open on each side into five chapels. A decorated frame and a coffered ceiling replace the traditional vaults. The length of the building is 70 meters, its width is 35 meters at the transept. The ceiling height is 23 meters. The tribune organ inaugurated in 1901; the organs were completely destroyed. They were replaced, in 1958. The Choir organ was installed in the basilica at the same time as the tribune organ.


And the event that the world remembers, and me too. Here is the story.

On October 22, 1914, a first shell hit the Basilica Notre Dame de Brébiéres. Unintentionally perhaps, because from a strategic point of view the Basilica offers the enemy a landmark for the regulation of artillery fire that destroys industry, the railway and improvised hospitals in schools and boarding schools. Three other shells still hit the Basilica across the bell tower right through without causing irreparable damage. Two others crush the central skylight, the debris of which crashes on the high altar. A quarter of the roof is destroyed. On January 7, 1915, a shell burst the dome and the vaults collapsed. Having achieved its objectives, the enemy then targets the Basilica. On January 14 and 15, 1915 about 43 shells fell on the basilica!.

On January 15, in the afternoon, around 15h the dome shatters, and shortly after the bronze statue of the Virgin and Child Jesus, 7 meters high, surmounting the bell tower of the Basilica of Notre Dame de Brebières , bows. Later in the evening, under the effect of the storm, it positioned itself horizontally. The frame yields without completely breaking. The Virgin finds herself suspended above the void, directed towards the south. Seeing this leaning Virgin, the soldiers imagine a legend: “When the Virgin falls, the war will end”. On March 26, 1918, Albert fell back into German hands. What remains of the bell tower of the Basilica becomes an observation post for the occupier, which must be destroyed to take back the city. On April 16, 1918, around 15h30, on the third attempt, the British artillery hit the steeple and the Virgin collapsed. We are in 1918 the Virgin falls and the same year the war will end. The legend is “respected”. Indeed wonderful story!!!


Ministry of Culture of France on the Basilica in French: Ministry of Culture of France on the Basilica Notre Dame de Brébiéres

Tourist office of the Somme dept 80 on the Basilica in French: Tourist office of the Somme dept 80 on the Basilica Notre Dame de Brébiéres

I have the city of Albert on public transports as train passes by here from Paris to from Lille. City of Albert on public transportation

There you go another gem ,this time in the north or Hauts de France, old Picardie region. Albert has a lot of punch and thanks to the Basilica Notre Dame de Brébiéres. Hope you enjoy the post and do come to visit it, its another must around this region.

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

Tags: ,
February 26, 2020

WWI museum at Albert!

And staying in my road warrior mode in the Nord , I came upon another historical dandy and nice town. This is the wonderful Albert in the Somme dept 80 of the Hauts de France region. Easy to visit due to family in the region ,the nordistes or Ch’tis!

And I like to give you a bit more on the musée Somme 1916 in Albert.

The wonderful museum of the Somme 1916 or musée Somme 1916, an old underground museum that connects to the basilica of Notre Dame de Brébiéres (more in later post), civil defense and life in the trenches  during WWI. All this is in Albert located in the department of the Somme 80 in the region of Hauts-de-France.


Albert was at stake in terrible fighting during the WWI (here calle the grande guerre or great war). These were from September 25 to 29, 1914, during the Battle of Albert, as part of the Race to the Sea; during the year 1915, the city was the object of numerous artillery rounds which almost completely destroyed it, the bell tower of the basilica was hit and the Golden Virgin on top remained leaning over the void; also, during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, from July 1 to November 18; during the battle of Kaiser in spring 1918, the ruined city was occupied by German troops; in 1918, general Douglas Haig launched a counter-offensive in Albert, on August 21. The main attack was launched by the 3rd British Army, which was joined by the 2nd United States Corps. Albert fell on August 22, 1918.


The city of Albert became one of the main poles of tourism in memory of WWI in the Somme. The Somme 1916 museum was created in 1992. Every July 1, a bagpipes concert is given in front of the basilica in memory of the soldiers who fell in battle.

The Somme 1916 museum, located at rue Anicet Godin. The Somme 1916 museum, formerly the Shelter Museum, is set up in a civil defense underground and presents life in the trenches during WWI at ten meters deep and 230 meters long. Its entrance is located to the right of the Basilica Notre-Dame de Brebières. The museum opened to the public on July 1, 1992.


This underground museum is made up of about fifteen alcoves or shelters, on either side of a gallery 230 meters long. In the gallery, weapons and military equipment are displayed in display cases as well as posters, newspaper articles and photographs. In the alcoves were reconstructed various scenes illustrating the daily life of soldiers in the trenches during the Franco-British offensive of 1916 during the Battle of the Somme with scenes from German, Australian, British, Canadian or French trenches; infirmary scene; soldiers’ rest and distraction scene; and attack scene, at the exit of the underground. To end the visit, the Gallery of Heroes retraces the journey of certain characters who distinguished themselves during the Battle of the Somme. Also, projection of documentary films on the Great War; animation on the soldier’s equipment at the front. The museum exit gives access to the public garden where the Ancre river flows, under the remains of the city walls of Albert. Awesome!!


This is another wonderful historical, educational museum to see and make you reflect on the bounties of life, an unbelievable experience. Hope never to be repeated. Hope you enjoy the tour, and do come to see it , its a must. Good for the whole family.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official musée Somme 1916

City of Albert on the WWI museums

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

Tags: ,
February 26, 2020

My travels in the Morbihan, LXXVIII

And I interrupt these tour of my belle France to bring you back to my beautiful Morbihan dept 56 of Bretagne. It was a cool on and off sun day today, and temps saw them down to 5C now in late afternoon is shown at 9C oops it went up …..this is about 47F and I am home, lovely home in my dear Pluvigner.

It was a short day today, needed to do some inherance paperwork for the passing of my dear late wife Martine’s mom Yvette, the maternal grandmother of my boys will get some ,and the paperwork done by email and mairie was easy. I still do not understand folks claiming France admin is slow lol!  I just send an email to my Mairie or city hall, the madame told me to  come in any time did that done that and no cost. Later passing by the post office to drop off the envelope to the Notaire in Seine et Marne dept 77.


The city/town hall is simple but nice in neo Breton style and a clean spacious lobby. Great views over the city main square place Saint Michel. As we have some British expats living here there was a sign to come in and inquire about the effects of Brexit on their stay.



Later, my oldest son got a quick (another quick action) rdv for the dentist , he call yesterday and told him to come in this morning , dentist saw him a bit inflammation some antibiotics and gone, got the Pharmacie de la Place and pick up the medicines , no costs! It was about 45 minutes visit and out we went. No photos here!

Finally, to compensate a day of errands and me been around the house for a change , took them to eat to an Asian resto they told me had gone with the mother. I am weak when told this, so I took to eat there in Chez Moi, Vannes.


The place is very spacious, more like Oriental cuisine mixing Chinese, Japanese ,etc foods. It is an all you can eat buffet, entrée,plat, dessert, one non alcoholic drink and coffee for 12,80€ ! can’t beat that here lol!! Well yes I had lunch near my job for 12€ but only all you can eat entrées and wine free flowing!!!


I had all kinds of shrimp, pork nems, beef samossas, cantonese rice, noodles, caramel pork, and onion beef, fish nems, cakes, apple and chocolate, kumquats, ice cream, coca cola, and coffee expresso. And left full could not move lol!!! dinner is similar for 17,80€. Ah the place is Chez Moi or at home in the Copernic commercial center next to the Cinéville cinema, back of E Leclerc hypermarché and just right by the shopping area we go to here.  They have a Facebook page here: Facebook page of Chez Moi restaurant Vannes


We came back and relaxing at home glad no work and already with duties by inner Paris next month life goes on until full retirement in my belle France. Hope you enjoy the every day errands of a French family , a bit different from the usual tourist oriented rounds we post in the blog.  Again , enjoy Vannes, Morbihan, Bretagne and France!

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



February 26, 2020

WWI museum at Péronne!

Well let me bring you up up to my picardie and now Hauts de France region, in nice Peronne and a great museum for all to know and visit and learn not to be repeated.

The Historial de la Grande Guerre or the Historial of the Great War (WWI) is located in Péronne,next to the medieval castle, and taken some parts of it. This is in the Somme department 80, region of Hauts de France. It is a museum of the history of WWI, an international research center and a documentation center. It is a an official Museum of France.


Among the most terrible moments of WWI was the Battle of the Somme, as tragic as the Battle of Verdun: from July to November 1916, it caused, all nationalities combined, more than a million victims including more than 400k dead or missing!

The Historial of the Great War  was born, and the location was fixed in Péronne, which offered the double advantage of being located in the heart of an area of intense fighting from 1914 to 1918 and near an access to the autoroute du nord or northern highway. The Historial of the Great War opened in 1992.


It was conceived and designed in 1986 by international specialists, it favors an approach that puts people at the center of concerns, by comparing the three main belligerent societies: Germany, France, and the United Kingdom , in fields relating to life at the front and the rear lines. On what was the front line, where more than twenty nations came to fight during WWI, the Historial was financed with European, national, regional and departmental funds.

The Historial of the Great War invites visitors to question the concept of conflict , to reflect on the past, present and future world. The Museography seeks to explain at first, so that knowledge then allows emotion to express itself. Thus, the museum shows the profound influence on the contemporary resonances of a war, total, industrial and world.

The collections are distributed in space according to their level of belonging to the conflict and according to a comparative system between the German, British and French collections.


Those on the front , the relics are placed in the center of the rooms in disbursed in pits of white marble,   one for each nationality, referring to the world of trenches and death. In the center of rooms II and III, the pits display the uniforms and weapons of the combatants, surrounded by regulatory objects specific to war of movement and then, of trenches. The rear collections , those of civil society engaged for the first time in this global war are displayed in display cases at the periphery of the rooms on three levels of presentation to better compare the social and cultural dimension of the conflict between the belligerents or the mobilization of the rear. Between the two, the objects of memory such as drawings, watercolors, paintings, engravings, extracts from archive films , etc., which try to describe the indescribable and play in the museum the role of mediators as they played in society. Extracts from war literature and poetry punctuate didactic signage and also strengthen mediation. Awesome!!!


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official museum historial de la grande guerre in English

This is the Somme dept 80 on museum of WWI history in English: Tourist office of the Somme 80 on museums of WWI

City of Peronne on history and heritage of it

And this one you should come and see it , a must for all. We by passed the area on our trips to visit family in the Nord so it makes it easy but if you are in Paris you should make the effort to come here, after all France is a movable feast! Hope you enjoy the Historial de la Grande Guerre at Péronne!

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





Tags: ,
%d bloggers like this: