October 21, 2021

Catedral San Pedro of Jaca!!

These are territories that I love coming here several times and passing by hundreds not counted but so many times it has become my second home. This is Aragon, the old kingdom of it all in the north that most need to learn more about to better undertand the Spain of today. I like to show you a bit on one of its most representative jewels, the St Peter’s Cathedral or the Catedral San Pedro de Jaca! briefs as can be, here is my story with the help of my library.

The Cathedral of San Pedro is of course in Jaca,  in the province of Huesca, autonomous region of  Aragon, is one of the most characteristic and ancient Romanesque constructions in Spain. It began to be built almost at the same time as that of Santiago de Compostela in the last quarter of the 11C as the episcopal seat and head of the Kingdom of Aragon on the initiative of King Sancho Ramírez, who had obtained the Vatican vasselage after his trip to Rome in 1068 , as a result of which he was granted the episcopal seat.

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A bit of history I like

The city of Jaca receives jurisdictions as a city, by the king Sancho Ramírez of Aragon, in 1077, displaying the capital of the kingdom between this year and 1096 and becoming a diocesan seat, which makes necessary the construction of a cathedral. A first, the construction could be located between 1077 and 1082 that corresponds to the reign of Sancho Ramírez and the bishopric of his brother, the Infante Garcia, and a second between 1104 and 1130, which corresponds to the reign of Alfonso I the Battler (Batallador) and Esteban de Huesca as Bishop.

In the second decade of the 16C some additions  were made, such as the vaults of the lateral naves, the late Gothic, and the covers of the new Chapels of San Sebastián, San Agustín, Annunciation and Santa Ana. Later, in the Renaissance, the Chapels of St. Michael and the Trinity, both of 1572, were added. In 1598 the vault of the central nave is built and windows are opened in it. In the 17C the construction of the altarpiece was completed and the reconstruction of the cloister was undertaken, which was replaced by the current Baroque, finished at the end of the 17C. In this same period, the Chapel of Santa Orosia, the main baroque element of the temple, is built. Also at the end of the 17C the Romanesque apse is replaced and a new one is erected, decorated with paintings by Manuel de Bayeu, brother-in-law of Francisco de Goya, between 1792 and 1793.

A bit more on the construction style

The Saint Peter’s Cathedral preserves the Romanesque structure and configuration, with a basilica plant, several apses, and two access doors ,that of the Plaza de San Pedro, where in the past there was a homonymous monastery, and the southern gate, which in the 16C is endowed with portico, linked to the Plaza del Mercado, as well as a cupola in this southern apse where are located the architectural elements that summarize the characteristic language of the Romanesque architecture of the Camino de Santiago, which is then disseminated throughout the route of Compostela.

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The exterior of the Cathedral of San Pedro has two facades with doorways.  On the west facade of the Cathedral we find the atrium and the main façade, whose arch of greater radius, semicircular, links to the central nave, vault barrel, inside the temple. In the tympanum of this façade, the main one of the Cathedral, is an exceptional piece, the Chrisom, symbol of the Aragon’s monarchy and with a clear Trinitarian and penitent character. The chrisom or monogram of Christ, is wavered by two lions. In the facade we find another portico, made in the 16C with pieces from other parts of the Cathedral, highlighting the capitals made by the masters of Jaca. As for the apses, it is only preserved from the Romanesque that gives to the south, since the central and north, were modified in the 18C. In this apse you can see the tripartite organization of the wall both horizontally and vertically, characteristic of the Romanesque Jaquésan extended by other constructions of the Camino de Santiago. At the top of the building is a belfry with the bells of the Cathedral, a piece that was added in the 16C.

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The interior of the Catedral de San Pedro show us a plant of the temple is basilical of three naves ,and five bays, of which the central is wider and higher than the lateral ones, allowing thus to open the stained glass in the wall of the central nave and above the lateral ones to illuminate its interior. The nave extend to the three semicircular apses with the organ and the chorus, which were at the foot of the central nave and which moved to the apse, although the transfer was carried out in 1919. The area of the transept is covered with a unique semispherical vault of octagonal plant on horns. In the Baroque period the Chapel of Santa Orosia, the Patron Saint of the city of Jaca, was done, decorated with striking paintings showing his life, martyrdom and encounter of his body. It is worth mentioning the cloister , which is part of the Diocesan Museum of Jaca, one of the most outstanding in Spain of Romanesque painting; It shows Romanesque paintings of the jaquésan area that were in Churches such as Navaa, Ruesta or Bagües.

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The decoration of  the Catedral San Pedro is nice with capitals, corbels and metopics are decorated with scenes of the Bible, On the bases , the two elements originating in the jaquésan Romanesque art can be seen along the Camino de Santiago, which shows the influence exerted along this pilgrimage route.  At the side door of the Cathedral is carved the pattern of a unit of measure called Vara Jaquesa (Jaquesan Rod) , a measure of the medieval period equivalent to 77 cm today or about 30 inches). This unit was used during the Middle Ages in the market located in the Plaza de la Catedral square to measure lengths, and this metric unit was used throughout Aragon.

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Some webpages to help you plan your visit here and understand more this jewel of my beloved Spain are:

The city of Jaca on the Cathedralhttps://www.jaca.com/catedral.php

The Huesca province tourist office on the Cathedral/museumhttps://www.huescaturismo.com/en/monumental-detalle/7/the-diocesan-cathedral-museum/

The Catholic Diocese of Jaca on the Cathedralhttps://www.diocesisdejaca.org/index.php/catedral-de-san-pedro-de-jaca

The Roman Aragon heritage on the cathedral webpage: http://www.romanicoaragones.com/0-Jacetania/03-Catedral01.htm

There you go folks, this is another jewel you need to get away from big cities to go see, is a must and a well interpretation of Spain then and now. The Catedral de San Pedro of Jaca,  go see it

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

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October 21, 2021

Convento de San Pablo, Parador at Cuenca!

I like to tell you about an unique place in the off the beaten path trail of Cuenca, one of my sentimental towns of my beloved Spain. I have spent several vacations in the area with the family over the years and we love it. Castilla La Mancha region of Spain of Don Quijote fame! There is so much to see here and Unesco site that have several posts on the town and surrounding in my blog, Today ,let me introduce you to an off the beaten path visit even thus you can stay in it ::) Let me tell you a bit of history on the Convent of San Pablo or parador lodging of Cuenca.

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The parador of San Pablo ,in Cuenca, is an old convent of the order of the Dominicans, outside the urban walls, in a place of a great natural beauty, since it rises in a promontory on the sickle of the Huécar, to quite a height on the channel of the river and in front of the Casas Colgadas (see post). The architecture responds to some of the ideas of the first years of the 16C; Gothic structure and Renaissance decoration. It is popularly known as “los Pablos”. Since 1993 the convent functions as a national tourism Parador lodging.

A bit brief on its construction tells us that the Convent of San Pablo is composed of the church, built in the bow, as advancing in the Huécar’s sickle, the cloister on its right and another series of buildings that have been growing attached to the main body according to the needs of the different orders that they have lodged in the convent. The church and the cloister are from the 16C, with the rest of buildings from a later period. The building is perched on a prow or promontory over the Huécar river. This unique building that emerges between the rocks and rocky shapes that festoon the Hoz del Huécar, between orchards and hanging houses that overlook the abyss, which has served as a monastery, convent, school, seminary, nursery, special education center and many projects that were not carried out, in addition to numerous celebrations of all kinds, both in the beautiful church, which was the concert hall of Religious Music, and now Espacio Torner, as in the convent building itself through which the Dominicans passed, the Redemptorists, the Josephites and the Vincentian fathers, and since 1993, the visitors who stay at the Parador.

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A bit of history I like, it’s nice from my library, so bear with me please.

He was a canon born in Almodóvar del Pinar (see post), Juan del Pozo, who was the promoter of this colossal building when on April 24, 1523 he requested the census from the Chapter Corporation. The primitive wooden Puente de San Pablo or bridge of St Paul, that he himself paid to unite the convent with the old basin commanded to begin the works of the convent and church that put under the trusteeship of the Apostle San Pablo (St Paul), supporting of his money the construction of both, and endowing the foundation with huge rents to attend the maintenance of the same.

So it was and in 1836 the Dominicans had to leave the convent and it was the Bishopric of Cuenca who later bought the building in public auction to install the Minor Seminary of San Pablo. At the end of the 19C the PP. Redemptorists destined the house for the Apostolic School; but they did not fit easily. In the early 20C the Seminary of San Pablo was ruled by the Sons of Mosén Sol, Diocesan Operatives, who were vulgarly known by the “Josefinos” (josephs). On January 3, 1912, the seminarians of San Pablo, and with them those of the Seminary of San Julián, rebelled against the superiors, who had to flee at night through the Huécar river and through the tunnel of the garden that gave to the San Pablo seminary . Faced with the events produced, the Seminars, expelled the students and intervening the Vatican itself. The “Josefinos” left Cuenca and the Seminary of San Pablo remained closed again.

On July 3, 1922, the concession of the Convent of San Pablo to the Community of Padres Paúles (pablos=pauls) was confirmed. On July 25, 1936, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic sent a letter to the bishop of Cuenca stating that the Provincial Council requested the seizure of the building and transfer to the Provincial, in order to install a provincial sanatorium, after having been evicted by the community of Father-Parents. But during some months during the Spanish Civil War it was left without activity and the building suffered some looting.   In 1973 the Seminary closed its doors, handing over the keys two years later the Bishopric. The current iron bridge connecting the lower town with the promontory was done on April 19, 1903, the Puente de San Pablo  was blessed and inaugurated.

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In the 1980’s after many attempts to do something here ,all failed,and the great building was still empty and the people crossing the Puente de San Pablo (see post) returned after walking before a closed and gloomy place at dusk. In November 1988 the Bishopric agreed to cede to the State the Convent of San Pablo for a tourism lodging Parador, and a few months later, on July 11, 1989, the cession of the property to the Spanish State was signed for a period of fifty years, with an extension clause and an exclusive destination for Parador de Turismo, except for the church with its front part or body of the sacristy, which years later it would become, through another agreement, in the Torner Art Space.  The works of transformation and restoration of the Monastery or Convent of San Pablo began in December of 1990 adapted the building for 63 rooms, two of them suite. The dining room was located in the old refectory that preserves the reading pulpit and the main hall bears the name of Vincentian hall in memory of the Vincentians(Vicenciano), also with a large pulpit for reading or speeches.

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The inauguration of the Parador took place on Thursday, April 1, 1993, on the eve of Holy Week and from the first day its occupation was full. The Parador can tell many stories, although the most impressive was the overnight stay of the Princes of Spain, Felipe and Letizia, on their honeymoon trip through Spain, with the first nuptial stop in Cuenca on Sunday, May 23, 2004.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip are :

The official Paradores of Spain on the San Pablo parador of Cuencahttps://www.parador.es/en/paradores/parador-de-cuenca

The Cuenca province tourist office on the convent/paradorhttps://www.descubrecuenca.com/en/enclaves-y-poblaciones/la-capital/cuenca-antiguo-convento-de-san-pablo-113

The Castilla La Mancha region tourist board on the convent San Pablohttp://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/convento-de-san-pablo-29764/descripcion/

The Espacio Torner of Cuenca next to convent/parador San Pablo: https://www.espaciotorner.es

There you go folks, now you are loaded to come and enjoy this marvel of architecture and history in the comforts of a modern lodging building,a Parador of San Pablo in Cuenca. Hope you have enjoy the story!

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

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October 21, 2021

The wines of Ribera del Duero of Spain!

As far as fame, this is the second best known area of Spain for wine aficionados. This counts me in as well. I have written on the other regions of my beloved Spain where wine is coming up in quality over the last few years. This time will tell you a bit overall introduction to the wines of Ribera del Duero. Hope you enjoy it as I.

The Ribera del Duero located in the autonomous community of Castilla y Léon, which has an DO (Denominación de Origen ). Its vineyard, in the area of ​​the Upper Duero Valley, brings together many towns in the provinces of Burgos, Valladolid, Soria and Segovia with a long tradition of wine production. The appellation of origin was approved in 1982. It is located 150 km north of Madrid, and its hillsides extend over 700 meters above sea level over 100 km on either side of the Duero River. With 22,000 hectares, the denominación de origen Ribera del Duero has less than 200 bodegas/wineries.

The DO of Ribera del Duero includes these areas and best producers me think, Burgos: Condado de Haza ,Santa Eulalia, and Ismael Arroyo, Valladolid: Bodegas Vega Sicilia ,Castillo de Peñafiel, Emilio Moro ,Matarromera ,Tinto Pesquera, and Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez. Soria: Valdeviñas, and Segovia: Aldekoa, Some of the best known wine towns are: Pesquera de Duero, Quintanilla de Onésimo, Roa, Valbuena de Duero, Sotillo de la Ribera, Aranda de Duero, Peñafiel, and Haza. 

The wines of Ribera del Duero are mainly red wines, vinified from the Tempranillo grape, locally called Tinto Fino. The appellation also authorizes the cultivation of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec, mainly intended to enhance the Tempranillo in blends.The Garnacha grape is most often used to make the rosés of Ribera del Duero, To be eligible for the appellation, a red wine from Ribera del Duero must contain at least 75% Tempranillo and 95% Tempranillo + Cabernet Sauvignon + Malbec + Merlot. The harvest period in Ribera del Duero is usually between the months of September and October. However, it is the Regulatory Council that determines when it starts and ends.

Ribera del Duero wines are offered under four different formulas: young red, crianza red, reserva red and gran reserva red. The red crianza is aged for no less than 24 months, at least half of that time in oak barrels. Its color is from cherry red to cherry red with certain shades of violet tones , it develop more complex aromas of spices, vanilla and toast. The reserve red is seen with the naked eye with a cherry red hue, and depending on its degree of maturity, it also has a ruby ​​tone. Maturation time, at least 36 months, 24 of them in barrels of the same traditional type of wood. They release tertiary aromas of candied fruit and leather, The Gran Reserva is a wine of great excellence with 60 months of maturation process of which at least two years must be in oak barrels. Its natural color at the end of that process is a distinctive cherry red. They are very elegant and reveal exceptional aromatic complexity. And appreciated and highly sought after.

As a general guide, the rating of the last few years show that in 2016 MB muy buena/very good : 2017 MB muy buena, 2018 MB muy buena, 2019 Excelente/Excellent ; 2020 Excellent.

Consejo Regulador, or regultating council of Ribera del Duero DOhttps://www.riberadelduero.es/la-do-ribera-del-duero

The wine route of Ribera del Duerohttps://www.rutadelvinoriberadelduero.es/en/nuestros-pueblos

Of course, I won’t just leave you with the technical stuff. Let me tell you some of recent favorites from Ribera del Duero!

The biggest surprise was  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 here was 12.50€. webpage: https://felixsolisavantis.com/en/wine/altos-de-tamaron-reserva/

ribera del duero altos de tamaron 2009

Bodegas Tarsus is a Bordeaux castle-style cellar, located in the heart of the Ribera del Duero where it produces wines with deep aromas, highly concentrated and offering great aging potential. The Bodegas Tarsus are located in Anguix (Burgos) with 70 hectares of its own vineyard where it grows the Tinta del País (ie tempranillo similar) ,and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties. It was founded in 1998. The name of the winery derives from Tarsus, an ancient city of Cilicia, in Asia Minor, cradle of the wine civilization and where vines have been planted for more than 6,000 years. Currently, the Tarsus reserva  is made with grapes 98% Tinta del País, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has been produced from 25 to 30 days at a temperature between 28º-30º and is aged for 16 months in French (80%) and American (20%) oak barrels, mostly new. Complete the aging with a year and a half of rest in the bottle. Delicious ,you just need let it aged as I recommend. Webpage: https://www.tarsusvino.com/es/nuestros-vinos-tarsus-reserva

Ribera del duero Tarsus 1999

There you go folks, hoping you get a taste of Ribera del Duero wines at least in your next visit to Spain. However, they are available in several countries including France. Hope you enjoy the post as I, I say.

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

October 20, 2021

The wines of La Rioja, Spain!

Wine is part of my life since birth, my maternal grandmother was the one who offered me a tiny bit of wine at age 8! It has been a love affairs ever since and in my house we cannot eat without wine. That is wine as culture in our home, we know how to drink in moderation.

That first sip of wine came from Marqués de Riscal in the Rioja region of Spain. It was, also, my first bottle of wine I purchased; many many years ago. From then , I even worked in a liquor store wine department in Florida. Went on to have diploma from ICEX the commercial office of Spain abroad and Sopexa ,food and wine from France. My cellars is not big but any day you can find 50 bottles in it , ready to drink shortly; who wants to aged the wines, they are meant to be drunk!!!

Guillermo Hurtado de Amézaga inherited vineyards and old wineries from his sister in Elciego in 1858, founding in 1860 together with his son Camilo Hurtado de Amézaga the Marqués de Riscal winery, considered the oldest modern winery in La Rioja. He conceived the winery in the style of the French Château, bringing in 1868 the first vines of French origin that were grown in Spain and the best French techniques from the hand of Jean Pineau.

The Rioja is Spain in a glass of red wine. The wine is known for its structure and tannins, similar to Cabernet Sauvignon , but it also has a fruity characteristic. This is a wine perfect for a drinker who loves Cabernet but is also looking for the dominant cherry flavor that’s often present in a wine like Pinot Noir. Rioja is made from a blend of grape varieties, with Tempranillo the dominant grape (Garnacha is typically included in the blend to add some fruitiness. Mazuelo and Graciano may also be included). Spain is very proud of its indigenous Tempranillo grape because they have been making it into wine for over 2,000 years. When choosing to buy a Rioja, the most important thing to know is that the wine separates into four levels of classification, which depends on the amount of time the wine spends in oak. The classification of each Rioja will be labeled clearly on the bottle.

Rioja: This is the basic form of the wine. It has been aged for only a short amount of time in oak, potentially only a few months, and then the wine is bottled and sold. It is in this wine where the juice will taste the “ripest” because the wine is very young. Therefore, sometimes is sold as Joven or young on the label.

Crianza: For a wine to be labeled a Crianza, it must spend a minimum of 1 year in oak. Following its removal from oak, the wine must spend at least another few months in the bottle, before being sold. This is the level of Rioja that is most affordable.

Reserva: This is a Rioja made from the best grapes of the harvest, and is only made during years that were considered to have a good growing season. A Reserva must be aged a minimum of 3 years, with at least one year being in oak, and the rest in the bottle.

Gran Reserva: This is a Rioja that is only allowed to be made in years with exceptional growing seasons from the most exceptional grapes harvested. Gran Reserva’s must be aged in oak for at least 2 years, and then must spend at least 3 more years in the bottle.

Rioja wines are aged in 225-liters oak casks, with periodic racking, followed by a further period of bottle ageing. There are about 567 ageing bodegas in Rioja. The Rioja wine region is located in northern Spain, on both sides of the River Ebro. The local terrain perfectly delimits the region and sets it apart from surrounding territories. From an administrative point of view, however, its 63,593 hectares of vineyards are divided between three provinces on the Upper Ebro – La Rioja (Rioja Alta) (43,885 ha), Alava (Alavesa) (12,934 ha) and Navarra ( Rioja Baja)  (6,774 ha). The grape varieties that are currently authorised by the Regulations of the D. O. Ca. Rioja are:

RED: Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo, and Maturana Tinta.

WHITE: Viura, Malvasia, Garnacha Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco, Maturana Blanca, Turruntés, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Verdejo.

To help with the ranking of harvest years  ,which are only to be used as a general rule, the most important one is who is the producer. These are the rating on last few years from the wine council. , 2016 MB( Very good), 2017 MB, 2018 Buena (Good), 2019 (Excellent), 2020, MB (Very good).

Rioja wines are protected by the oldest Designation of Origin in Spain, officially recognised in 1926. In 1991, it was awarded the highest category -Calificada- making Rioja the first designation in Spain to be so honored.(now there are two ), To learn more of Rioja from official sources see the Rioja denominacion de Origen Calificada (DOC) webpage:  https://www.riojawine.com/en/home-en/

If you can read Spanish you can see this site to learn all about the Rioja from harvest to the bottle.  Webpage : https://www.lomejordelvinoderioja.com/doca-informa/

And on the same site, you can find information just by knowing either the name of the label or the town from where it comes from here in Spanish webpage : http://bodegas.lomejordelvinoderioja.com/

An Apolo y Baco webpage, that I have below in my blogroll ,and I help input info when it began many years ago, now much better. IN Spanish, but you have all info here even contact information for all Bodegas in Spain. Webpage :https://www.apoloybaco.com/vinos/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=36&Itemid=136

OF course, it would not be complete if I do not give some of my best bottles of Rioja wines. Again, the main thing is the producer, if he/she/they are good, the bottles eventually will be good on any given year, all else been equal. I stick to them over the years and never disappointed. Of course, again, tastes differ and new ones are coming in the market, and we should try to taste ,but these will never disappoints . Enjoy the wines, even if not all with photos….. Disfruten de los vinos de la Rioja, mi España!

Ramon Bilbao , Marqués de Riscal ,Bodegas Palacio, Unión Vitivinícola, S.A. better known as Marqués de Caceres , Montecillo, S.A.  part of the group Osborne , Bodegas Lan, CVNE is Compañia Viñicola del Norte de España, Bodegas Bilbaínas, S.A. part of group  Codorniu, Bodegas Muga , Bodega Lopez de Heredia, Bodega Rioja Alta , Bodegas Berceo, S.A.  part of Group Gurpegui , Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta , Campo Viejo, S.A.  part of Pernod Ricard group , Bodegas Baron de Ley , Bodegas Luis Gurpegui Muga S.A. part of Manzano Entreprises group  , and Bodegas Beronia.

And you can’t come to these bodegas ,you can shop their wine in your local wine shop or as I past by Madrid quite often ,I get mine at Lavinia, Calle Ortega y Gasset store. webpage: https://www.lavinia.com/es-es/tiendas/ortega-gasset

And another old time favorite in Madrid is Santa Cecilia at Calle Bravo Murillo location. webpage: https://www.santacecilia.es/tiendas-de-vino-madrid

There you folks, now you have a choice go out and try them, love them you will. The Rioja is the best known of Spain, and for good reason, Hope you enjoy the post as I ! And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

October 20, 2021

The wines of Alsace, France!

And need to tell you all eventually! I admit this would be the least experience with as the region is mostly whites and I am mostly red. However, over the years I have my share of Alsacian wines and even done a bit of the wine route of Alsace. Therefore, let me tell you a bit of the wines of Alsace! Hope you enjoy it as I.

The Alsatian vineyard is a long ribbon 170 km long, located at the foot of the Vosges massif, which stretches from Marlenheim in the north to Thann in the south, completed by a wine-growing island on the border of Germany, around Wissembourg and of Cleebourg.  In 1828, the vineyard thus extended over 30,000 hectares (ha). But competition from wines from the South and phylloxera in the second half of the 19C and then the world wars of the 20C led to a long process of decline: in 1948, the vineyard had only 9,500 ha. Today, the vineyard covers more than 15,000 ha and produces around 1.2 million hectoliters per year, a quarter of sales being exported; and ironically mostly to Germany.

Recognised in 1962, today the protected designation of origin AOC Alsace represents ‘ over 70% of the production including 90% of white wines. In 2011, AOC Alsace was supplemented with two geographical names: the Communales (villages) and the Lieux-dits (localities).

The majority of Alsatian wines are dry whites (around 80%), aromatic, fruity and floral, well typified by their grape variety. Most of the wines come from a single grape variety, with the exception of a few grands crus (Kaefferkopf or Altenberg for example), crémant and edelzwicker. Frequent, on the label, the mention of the grape variety is not mandatory. Recognized in 1984, the Alsatian “late harvest” and “selections of noble grains” are sweet wines from overripe harvests and subject to very strict production conditions, particularly with regard to the sugar level of the grapes. There are also 51 grands crus in Alsace, corresponding to terroirs defined according to geological and climatic criteria, and meeting strict production and development criteria (limited yields, manual harvesting, use of limited grape varieties, etc). Finally, Alsace is at the top of the production of crémants (sparklers méthode champenoise) in France.

The 12 appellations of Alsace are Chasselas ou Gutedel, Edelzwicker, Gewurztraminer, Crémant d’Alsace, Klevener d’Heligeintein, Pinot noir, Riesling, Sylvaner, Alsace grand cru, Muscat, Pinot blanc or klevner. Good years are 2016 excellent, 2017 very good, 2018 very good, 2019 excellent.

The grapes and some description, keep it simple folks, are:

Riesling, the driest of Alsace wines. The Sylvaner, dry, fruity and fresh.  The Gewurztraminer, full-bodied and fruity. The Pinot Blanc, all in balance. Pinot Gris, ample and fragrant. The Pinot Noir, the only red of Alsace wines, Light, dry and delicately fruity, is drunk chilled and replaces the usual summer rosé. Crémant, festive and sparkling from Pinot blanc, Pinot noir or Riesling, Crémant d´Alsace is a sparkling wine. Muscat d ‘Alsace comes from the assembly or not of three varieties of muscat: white muscat with small grains, pink muscat with small grains and muscat Ottonel.  Only the Alsace wine called either “Edelzwicker”, or “Zwicker” or “Gentil” is a white wine made from the assembly of white grape varieties. The AOP Alsace, AOP Alsace Grand Cru, which has 51 identified terroirs, and finally, for sweet and syrupy wines, Vendanges tardives (VT) and Sélections de grains nobles (SGN).

The official wines of Alsacehttps://www.vinsalsace.com/en/terroirs/ 

The wine routes of Alsace: https://www.wineroute.alsace/

The Alsace tourist boardhttps://www.visit.alsace/en/must-sees-in-alsace/

Of course, could not leave you with just the info. I like to show some of my latest forays into the world of Alsace wines chez moi! Hope you enjoy them as I.

My wonderful red Klipfel Pinot Noir: produces rustic, light wines that give off aromas of cherry, cranberry, strawberry and raspberry with supple, smooth tannins. Pinot Noir in Alsace is required by law to be bottled in tall flute-shape bottles, just like the white wines produced in the region. Webpage: https://boutique.klipfel.com/fr/cuvee-louis-klipfel/19-pinot-noir-cuvee-louis-klipfel.html

alsace klipfel pinot noir 2016

Louis Hauller Family.  A pale gold color, limpid and brilliant Riesling. A nuanced nose revealing aromas of white flowers, citrus fruits and mineral notes. Its attack on the palate is lively with fresh acidity. In the mid-palate, a nice volume with these mineral notes that we found on the nose. webpage: https://boutique.famillehauller.com/riesling-s13.html

Alsace louis hauller riesling 2012

Wolfberger is cooperative whose history dates back to 1902 with the grouping of winegrowers around the cellars of Eguisheim and Dambach-la-Ville. Wolfberger continues its development and counts, in 2021, 420 vine growers members of the cooperative and more of 1200 ha of vineyard. Produced from the seven Alsatian grape varieties (Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sylvaner and Muscat d’Alsace). It also produces wines from localities producing Appellation Alsace Grand Cru wines which include: Rangen, Pfersigberg, Eichberg, Kirchberg-de-barr, Steinert, Ollwiller, Steingrubler, Mandelberg, Hatschbourg, Hengst, Florimont, Pfingstberg , Spiegel, Muenchberg, and Frankstein. Also produces and markets AOC Crémants d’Alsace. In addition to wines and crémants, Wolfberger also produces Eaux-de-Vie and Liqueurs. These range from traditional eaux-de-vie, such as Mirabelle or Raspberry, to innovative liqueurs such as the NEO range of liqueurs. I have tried what you see in the bottles! Webpage: https://www.wolfberger.com/en/

Alsace Wolfberger 2016

There you go folks, a dandy selection of Alsace, and some contribution introduction to the wines of Alsace. WE do love wines, and its shows in my blog. Hope you enjoy them too!

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

October 20, 2021

The Grand Cascade in the Bois de Boulogne!!!

Why not head for a park in Paris, and even better with plenty of water. The beautiful city has plenty of parks and water spots. I like to tell you about a favorite of my family.  We really did not seek this even if I worked for a while not far across the Seine river. Seeking always new things to see in our belle France. I notice this big park, the Bois de Boulogne. Yes ,it is big ,but it has many things to see. I rather just tell you about one, the Grand Cascade. The big waterfall!

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Napoleon III, an emperor like his more-famous uncle emperor, loved waterfalls as much as he loved hunting. So, when he ordered the massive renovation of Paris in the second half of the 19C, he was going to make sure there were waterfalls at the end of it. He instructed his city planner, Baron Haussmann, to turn the royal forest on the west of Paris, the Bois de Boulogne  into a large park complete with lakes, 420,000 trees, waterfowl, and deer to hunt. And, of course, a big waterfall. La Grande Cascade was built in 1856 with four thousand cubic meters of  rock brought in from Fontainebleau, and two thousand cubic meters of cement. The lakes and the waterfall are fed with water from a canal on the Ourcq River, so that in this case the waterfall is gravity-fed. In addition to the picturesque waterfall, it has two artificial grottoes. one over the other, which can be visited.   What’s special is that you can walk inside the grottos behind the cascade and view the lake and the park through the falling water !  There was a hunting lodge ,later expanded and turned into what is today a Michelin-starred restaurant also called La Grande Cascade, one of our more enjoyable restaurant experiences in Paris. Located at Allée de Longchamp, 16éme arrondissement of Paris.

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A bit of history I like on the Bois de Boulogne, briefly.

The Bois de Boulogne is a remnant of the ancient oak forest of Rouvray, which included the present-day forests of Montmorency, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Chaville, and Meudon. Today is a large public park located along the western edge of the 16éme arrondissement of Paris near the cities of Boulogne-Billancourt and Neuilly-sur-Seine, both in Hauts de Seine dept 92. And across from my old work spot in Suresnes! The land was ceded to the city of Paris by the Emperor Napoléon III to be turned into a public park in 1852. The Bois de Boulogne received its present name from a chapel, Notre Dame de Boulogne la Petite, which was built in the forest at the command of king Philippe IV of France . In 1308, Philippe  made a pilgrimage to Boulogne-sur-Mer, on the French coast, to see a statue of the Virgin Mary which was reputed to inspire miracles. He decided to build a Church with a copy of the statue in a village in the forest not far from Paris, in order to attract pilgrims. The chapel was built after Philippe’s death between 1319 and 1330, in what is now the city of Boulogne-Billancourt.

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What things you can see here beside the Grande Cascade.

Within the boundaries of the Bois de Boulogne are an English landscape garden with several lakes and a cascade; two smaller botanical and landscape gardens, the Château de Bagatelle and the Pré-Catelan; a zoo and amusement park , the Jardin d’Acclimatation; also , the GoodPlanet Foundation’s Domaine de Longchamp dedicated to ecology and humanism, The Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil , a complex of greenhouses holding a hundred thousand plants; two tracks for horse racing, the Hippodrome de Longchamp and the Hippodrome d’Auteuil,  a tennis stadium , Roland Garros, where the French Open tennis tournament is held each year, and windmills,(the original wheat breads of Paris see pic) etc.

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Napoleon III, in order to decorate its stops in the wood, built the Buffet of the waterfall in 1856. Enlarged for the Universal exhibition of 1900 it is enlarged and adopts a Belle Epoque decor. Damaged during the bombardment, in 1870, the pavilion was demolished around 1950. It is replaced by the current restaurant of  La Grande Cascade , its style retro-modern. And great meals here too ! For reference, their webpage: https://www.restaurantsparisiens.com/la-grande-cascade/en/home-page-en/

Its creation date, its environment and its vegetation bring it a lot of charm. It can be a step in your walk in visiting this green lung from Paris. In the setting sun, the orange light shaving brings very colorful touches to this waterfall. A wonderful spot in Paris especially in Summer and Fall. Bring the whole family going under the grotto waterfall is fun!

Some webpages to help you plan your trip are:

The city of Paris on the Bois de Boulognehttps://www.paris.fr/equipements/bois-de-boulogne-2779

The Paris tourist office on the Bois de Boulognehttps://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71494/Bois-de-Boulogne

There you go folks, a dandy in beautiful Paris, the Grand Cascade in the Bois de Boulogne is an off the beaten path site that must be visited especially with nature lovers’s and children, me think, You will have a good time here for sure.

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

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October 19, 2021

Gan, the Béarn,and the Jurançon!!!

I passed by here many times on my way to Spain, always using it as a rest stop either at Pau or around Gan. As time went on, we spent more time here and finally several days. And of course, not only did we drank the wines from the area but visited a very nice enclave of the Caves de Jurançon  in Gan. Let me update this wonderful post for you and me, bringing back many nice family memories for me. Hope you enjoy it as I.

The wonderful  Caves des Jurançon, a wine cooperative of Gan founded in 1949, and its delicious Jurançon wines. To find it is real easy as there are right on the National road N134 at Gan just south of Pau. Just follow direction Centre Ville Gan and you will hit the cellars or Caves!

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A cooperative in the heart of the vineyards: the cellar of  Jurançon at Gan plays a major role in the Jurançon and Béarn AOC, bringing together nearly 300 winegrowers. Located a few steps from Pau, this cooperative is committed and respectful of its terroirs. Founded in 1949, it has become a landmark in the Béarn. The wine of the Jurançon: a good wine is made with good grapes, sun, rain and foehn. Its most famous grape varieties are the small and the big Manseng (petit et gros manseng). On the vineyard of the piedmont Pyrenean, the vines are planted in the direction of the slope and are oriented to the South in order to be sheltered from the West wind. Harvest by hand, sort with love, vinify patiently… so many steps necessary to the quality of the wines of the Jurançon.

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

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

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

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

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After all this process and wandering about the place we headed for the boutique store for purchases. We already had our price list completed with the wines we wanted, handed it over and they do all the packaging for you. We purchase two cases of different wines for my cellar ::) and we did said goodbye to all, a wonderful day , and very friendly folks;  makes you come back for more….And we had!!! We had always friendly welcome and sharing here, and I am on their mailing list , so if not stopping by ,get my wines by domestic transport to my house.

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

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The official Caves de Jurançon webpage: https://www.cavedejurancon.com/

the Pau tourist office on the Caves de Jurançon: https://www.pau-pyrenees.com/home/pourquoi-venir-chez-nous-/pau-mag/suivez-le-guide-a-la-cave-cooperative-de-jurancon

The official Wines of Jurançon webpage in French: https://www.vins-jurancon.fr/

But wait, there is more than wines, there is a town name Gan! lovely place quant cosy, we love it!

Gan is located in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department 64 in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region (even thus fiercily keeping the old habits of the Béarn) . 9 km south of Pau. The town is crossed by the national road 134 (N134), as well as by the departmental roads D 134, 217 and 230. Gan train station is located on the Pau-Canfranc line. It is served by the TER Nouvelle-Aquitaine between Pau and Oloron-Sainte-Marie (changing here for Canfranc in Spain). Gan is a bastide founded in 1335 by Gaston II de Foix-Béarn. He gave it this name, the namesake of Ghent (Gan) in Belgium, in memory of the campaign of Flanders to which he participated.

Some things to see other than wineries are:

The prison gate (porte de la prison) dates from 1335; the Roman Baths from 1748 (with iron and sulphur waters); The House of Bazirus (Rue Ossau); The House of Ergashali (on the road to Lasseube); The houses of Arrac (1548), of Aldoins (1593) and the Château Marca prior to 1600 birthplace of Pierre de Marca. Church of Saint Barthélémy was rebuilt near the ancient church of St. Jean, which was restored in several phases between 1811 and 1930. The Church of St. Peter (Saint Pierre) (see post) dates from 1838. The Saint-Pierre Church is well before 1838, since traces are found in the parish archives in 1759 of baptisms, marriages, and burials.

Some additional webpages to help you plan your trip ,and worth the detour are:

The Pau tourist office on the bastide of Gan: https://www.pau-pyrenees.com/gan/bastide-de-gan/tabid/315/offreid/d3aaafd7-56f3-4861-b3f7-92496e8f6196

The city of Gan on its heritage: https://gan.pau.fr/rechercher/patrimoine?_source=user&_org=6

The Bastides or fortified towns of the Pyrénées Atlantiques dept 64 on Gan:  https://bastides64.org/bastides/gan/

There you go folks, in all a wonderful time we had here with funny moments, great company, excellent guide and plenty of bottles home to continue the tradition!!! En vino veritas!!! and I hope you enjoy the post and do visit Gan and the Caves des Jurançon! They claim to be the third most visited company in France!

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

October 19, 2021

The Basilica of Our Lady of Miracles of Mayenne!

And in my continuing saga to showcase the very best, traditional and off the beaten track of my belle France, I bring you another beauty. The city of Mayenne is one that I had to passed many times on my way to Paris from my beautiful Morbihan Breton. Eventually, I stop by for a drink or snack in town by the Mayenne river, and finally, came for a visit with the family . It was a nice moment indeed and was impressed by the Basilica , the reason of this post. The Basilique Notre Dames des Miracles or Basilica of Our Lady of Miracles is right by the Mayenne river and a must see in town. We like it even more than the old castle by the same river.

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Mayenne is in department Mayenne no 53 of the region of Pays de la Loire. Easy to come here with a train station connects to Paris and by road the A81 from Rennes or the N12 from Paris are very good and many times taken by yours truly. Some estimated distances from nearby cities are 30 km from Laval, 45 km from Fougères, 100 km from Rennes and Le Mans, 110 km from Angers, 120 km from Caen, 180 km from Nantes, and 250 km from Paris.

The Basilique Notre Dame des Miracles or Basilica of Our Lady of Miracles is a composite building of the 12C, 16C and 19C in the city center of Mayenne, on the right bank of the Mayenne river.  The original Church was built in 1110 to replace a small oratory dedicated to Sainte Anne. It is mentioned for the first time in 1124 in a charter of Juhel I of Mayenne under the name of the Church of St. Mary. At about 1119, the Church was owned by priest of the Diocese of Le Mans, which at the time depended on the Mayenne. It is described as in the form of a cross, composed only of a nave, chancel and vaults. The’ Church was plundered four times by the protestants during the Wars of religion , and during the French revolution, the priest Louis-René Lefebvre de Cheverus refuses to take an oath (to the Constitution and not to God), just as his nephew, Vicar of the parish, the future Cardinal Jean Lefebvre de Cheverus . The Church became a temple of reason and then is used as a temple and the revolutionary Commission sat there. The cult is restored in 1803. The Church is erected in minor Basilica by an Apostolic Brief of May 15, 1900.

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 A bit on the architecture and things to see

The forecourt of the Basilica is endowed with a monumental staircase overlooked by a statue of Joan of Arc, which was inaugurated in 1896. The interior of the primitive Church has still preserved the central part of its façade, the pillars and the arcades of the nave and the gravestones of the Merovingian’s. The vaults of the nave and the transept, which are 14 meters high, are from the 15C, while the aisles are additions of the middle of the 17C. The choir, which is 22 meters high, was built between 1864 and 1890. Inspired by the Cathedral of Le Mans, under the nave, the crypt contains four Chapels.

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During the bombardment of 8 June 1944, all the stained glass windows (1543-1567) of the basilica were shattered as such, three 16C canopies, the prophet Jeremiah, the Prophet Solomon and the Coronation of the Virgin, The current stained glass windows were replaced and laid between 1952 and 1962. In the lower part of the stained glass of Saint Bernard, two famous Cistercian abbeys of the department are represented: Clermont and Fontaine Daniel. You should not leave the interior of the Basilica without detailing the composite architecture (mainly 15C 19C) and some curious elements: the representation of the miraculous statue of Notre Dame and the altar-front turned into a lintel to the arms of the Bazoges family .

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The Basilica Church contains a statuette representing Our Lady of Miracles. Dating from the 16C, it was given to sisters of the city around 1630 by an anonymous rider with the message “weep, but hope”. First preserved in the Chapel of the Calvairiennes where donations helped the Religious order, it was preserved by the family Lemesnager during the French revolution and then given to the Church in 1897. It has been the subject of great devotion to today.

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this part of inland off the beaten paths of beautiful France are:

The Haute Mayenne area tourist board on things to see in generalhttps://www.mayenne-tourisme.com/les-vallees-de-la-mayenne/la-haute-mayenne/explorez-la-haute-mayenne/

The city of Mayenne on transportshttps://www.ville-mayenne.fr/utile/deplacement/roule-responsable/

This is a complete story on the basilica church of Mayenne from the Château de Sainte Suzanne webpage in pdf file in French: http://www.chateau-de-sainte-suzanne.fr/images/pdf_guides/FOCUS_BASILIQUE_MAYENNE.pdf

There you go folks, another dandy in my belle France, The Basilica Church of ND des Miracles is a must to visit in Mayenne. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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October 19, 2021

Guérande a lot more than ramparts!!!

It was that time again to go visit one of my favs places in my  west coast of France. The place is not far from me about 1h30 in a free toll road to heaven.  I did some errands in the morning and home by 13h, we sat to have our goodie lunch, and finally done by 14h we set out on our way.  I had contacted a local friend (now living in Canada!) to meet us there ,and set out to see Guérande again, in the Loire Atlantique dept 44 (old Brittany) now part of the region of Pays de la Loire. There was the 2nd edition of Village Vignerons festivities for local Loire muscadet wine tastings as well!

The city of Guérande we have been several times there and even collect my Loire wines there at the parent’s home of the winemaker.  This time we set out for another quick look at the town and take part in the festival. Easy on the road N165 to exit 15 and onwards on the D774 to the Porte or gate Vannetaise just by the ramparts walls of Guérande. Here , we always get a nice metered parking and this time was no exception parking right in front of the gate! The rest is on foot!

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Let me tell you a bit on the transports: The transport here is mainly roads and car is king. The D213 road , nicknamed the Route Bleue (Blue Road) , is a tourist road, which, from the start of the route, leads to Moutier-en-Retz; It connects to Nantes-Saint-Nazaire to the city center, several departmentals roads cross the Blue Road; D 233 leads to Saint-Molf; D 51 heads towards Saint-Lyphard. The D 247 joins Saint-André-des-Eaux ; D 774a reached the peninsula of the Saillé after crossing the salt marshes.  Finally the D 99 leads to the Turballe, after being passed through Clis. The D 774, via Herbignac, joins the dept 56 of Morbihan by connecting on the National road N165 which leads from Nantes to Vannes. (my road usually) . The bus network is Lila, never used it. There are many bicycle paths and one created for the region connecting to the European network here call Vélocéan, which follows the Atlantic coastline in the Loire-Atlantique department. And is served by 4 routes of the network, me never used it.

The city urban part occupies the top of a hillside that dominates a territory almost entirely surrounded by water, salty or sweet, called the Guérande Peninsula. The history of the town itself is strongly marked by the presence of salt marshes that have made its richness.  It is located 17 km from Saint-Nazaire, also at 44 km (about 27 mi) from Vannes and 67 km from Nantes.

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A bit of history I like

The first known signs of the existence of the present locality date from the second half of the 4C. The High Middle Ages is a period disturbed by the differences between Francs and Bretons. It is then Breton under Merovingian domination, then by the Norman invasions. The first known written reference of the town is from  1206. In the 14C, the city was drawn into the war of the Succession of Brittany, which pitted Jean de Montfort with Charles de Blois. It ends with the signature of a treaty  in 1365. At the end of the 15C, the city was the refuge for almost a month of  Anne of Brittany and her court fleeing the plague which then raged in Nantes. The Duchess will maintain privileged ties with Guérande throughout her reign.

  A first church was located on the present site along the centuries, according to tradition, under the aegis of the king of Vannes, Waroc’h II. This religious building, probably modest, would be at the origin of the current urban settlement. After the transferred of the relics of Saint-Aubin of Angers, a second larger church was built in the late 9C or 10C ,and it was the Church of Saint Aubin. This church will be very quickly surrounded by a cemetery between the 10C and 12C. One of the sarcophagus found under the present choir, at the bedside level, in the 19C was deposited in the lower chapel or crypt of the Collegiate Church. The incursions of the Normans, with significant consequences in the region, needed the reconstruction of the church, in Late Roman style.  This phase began after the middle of the 12C and ended with the construction of the main façade in the 13C. After the sack of Guérande by the troops of Louis de La Cerda in 1342 in the context of the War of Succession of Brittany, the ruined Collegiate Church is rebuilt from 1380 in Gothic style; with the south transept and the Crypt done in the 14C , the north transept is then resumed and the choir and bedside are rebuilt in the 15C. A new Gothic façade finishes the church, the frame on the transepts is laid in 1541. The cemetery extends from this time to the north of the Collegiate Church, until its displacement to place Sainte-Anne in the 19C, at the site of the present place John XXIII, thus creating the present place Saint-Aubin. In 1705, a hurricane destroyed the campanile of Renaissance style at the top of the façade. A new arrow is built, it will be destroyed by a storm in 1785. In 1789-1790,during the French revolution, the Church is dilapidated, the pipes of the organ are melted, the bells also. The church will temporarily serve the worship of the temporay supreme being. The Church St Aubin was returned to Catholic worship in 1802 under the Concordat. Some beautiful stained glass; an always beautiful church to visit!

Right around the Church Saint Aubin (see post) and the wonderful Halles (covered market -see post)  you have a wonderful market and especially fish and seafood , and other local products on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturday morning . The building is a nice covered market and the morning markets overflow into the place Saint Aubin, Place de la Psalette areas. City of Guerande on the marketshttps://www.ville-guerande.fr/pratique-vos-demarches/tourisme-et-decouvertes/marches

Now another reason to come this day was the 2nd Edition of the Village Vignerons; or the independent winemakers of the Nantes region. We come here and get our house wines all the way from here to Amboise in Touraine. These are wonderful wines not yet too known ,very affordable and good winemaking with lots of history behind.  For France, this is still small ,regional fanfare but its gaining nicely thanks to folks like me!! The official name of the organizers are the Association de Vignerons Indépendants Nantais. This official webpage tells of their extension:https://www.vignerons-independants-pays-de-la-loire.fr/vignobles/vignoble-nantes/

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The event took place at the Place du Vieux Marché. You buy a glass with the icon of the independent vignerons for 3€ and this allows you to taste up to 3 different wines per winery. Therefore, there were 10 wineries and we tasted 33 wines!!! Not all drank mind you, there is a proper way of spitting most of it. It was done with plenty of children games that my friend’s son really enjoyed and got us into it! there were troubadours singing trios parading the place and goodies from oysters, to foie gras, pate,and jellies/honeys from the area. 

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However, the main thing was the wine and mostly Muscadet Sévre et Marne sur lie, but also, chardonnays, malvoises, gamay, glolleau, melon de Bourgogne,  old berligou red (Breton Ducal wine), 4754 a extinct grape from the 1800’s still kept a parcel here, and of course cabernet franc and apple juice and crémant bubbly wines, sauvignon gris, grape juice,  you name all done on site by families of many generations; my real France!! All was set up in a circular motion around the square of the old market in Place du Vieux Marché.  The welcome or Accueil center where you purchase your glass and get a map of the presenters and a coupon to play on the nose senses challenge to win bottles of wines.  Some of the other producers on site were Servanne Bigot of the Conserverie Les Bocaux Locos with lots of canned, jar goodies, Les Chévres du Cougou with good goat cheese from the best area, Nicolas Josso with its oysters, and mussels etc all yummy!

We started of course with No 1 on the list Château de Fromenteau, and owners Anne and Christian Braud.  We continue with Domaine du Champ Chapron, of Carmen Suteau, Domaine Ménard Gaborit of Philippe Ménard, Château du Coing of Véronique Gunther Chéreau. Vignobles Jaumouillé of Gaêtan Jaumouillé, Domaine Le Jardin d’Edouard , with  Edouard Massart, Domaine le Moulin de la Touche of Vincent Hérissé. Vignoble Marchais of Philippe Marchais (still a provider to us). Domaine Poiron Dabin of Jean-Michel Poiron (still a provider to us). Domaine de la Coche with Laurent Guitteny, and Domaine Pierre-Luc Bouchaud with Pierre-Luc Bouchaud.

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And of course we load up as usual, the idea of coming to these things is not just to taste but to encounter the owners, learn more on wine (always time for that even for old pros like me) ,and buy some of the better ones on a foursome panel (me and my 3 boys, sadly my dear late wife Martine would have love it).

We purchased our favorites from domaine poiron dabin, domaine de la coche, vignobles marchais , and domaine le moulin de la touché. And we pickup some ideas to come back! First, the Vignobles Marchais have a lodging in barrels made into a cabin you can stay and rent it includes aperitif drink to start, a basket of breakfast, and a tour tasting of the property. We did it later and it is fun, good for a repeat! The cabin barrel is right between the vineyards! The other was the Domaine Poiron Dabin , they have a bigger selection of wines including the ones we purchase too, the Berligou Red 2015. This is a grape  ordered planted here by the Dukes of Brittany from 1460 after a gift made by the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Reckless (téméraire)  cousin of Duke François II of Brittany! here you have a walk escape in the vineyards in early morning to find bottles hidden in their grape plot, middle of the enigma you will have a picnic meal, encounters with members of the wine making team that will take you to the cellar for tastings. This was done too and is a lot of fun drinking those bottles in the middle of the vineyards!!

Another possibility with Poiron Dabin, and Philippe is very talkative guy!!! just my type lol!! jointly with the La Toue de Nantes will give you a boat ride call Régal vigneron, on the boat Libellule a replica of the traditional boats of the region navigating by the Sévre river and later the Maine river with beautiful natural views and fairy tell lights, you will meet a winemaker  like him very passionate about his trade and will taste several bottles.  A wonderful tour indeed; try it! La Toue de Nantes webpage see last entry for the Poiron Dabin trip: https://www.latouedenantes.fr/balades-a-lannee/

My fav winemakers from this region webpages!

Vignobles Marchais: https://www.vignoblemarchais.fr/

Domaine Poiron Dabin: http://www.poiron-dabin.com/fr/accueil/

Some additional webpages to help you plan your trip are:

The La Baule-Guérande tourist office on Guérande: https://en.labaule-guerande.com/guerande-the-medieval-one.html

The city of Guérande on things to see: https://www.ville-guerande.fr/pratique-vos-demarches/tourisme-et-decouvertes/visiter-la-cite-medievale

The Loire Atlantique dept 44 on Guérande: https://www.atlantic-loire-valley.com/suggestions/gu%C3%A9rande

There you go a wonderful one day trip as many able to do here in my belle France, wonderful west of France off the coast and rivers of my beloved Bretagne (and some parts that were like Guérande). Enjoy the tour of Guérande, worth the detour.

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

October 18, 2021

The Cathedral Notre Dame of Luxembourg Ville !!!

I am back to this small beautiful country, first encounter in 1990 and love it ever since. Many memorable trips, sometimes even just for lunch from my beloved Versailles with the family. And lucky to have been able to do this run from my now Morbihan breton dept 56, WE all love the city of Luxembourg. After the years, we began to see the rest of the country and it was just as quant magical nice, friendly. Memories never to forget , that I kept going there with my dear late wife Martine and the boys.

I like to tell you about a special place for them, for us, for all. Folks go there for the Casements or the Gund or even the Ducal Palace; we think magical is the Cathedral of Notre Dame! And the story goes… The Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Luxembourg is located in Luxembourg City. Built from 1613 to 1621 as a Church of the College of  Jesuit, it became the Cathedral and seat of the Archbishopric of Luxembourg in 1870. It is also a Marian shrine, housing the statue of  Notre Dame (Our Lady) Comforter of the Afflicted , protector of the city of Luxembourg (Patron Saint).

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A bit of history I like

The history of the Cathedral is linked to that of the Society of Jesus. In 1594, Jesuits settled in Luxembourg, the city which was then part of the Spanish Netherlands. They opened a college there in 1603 ; by 1613, the rector of the College, lays the first stone. The work lasts eight years. By 1621, the Church is solemnly consecrated by the Bishop of Trier, and dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.

In 1773, the Society of Jesus was suppressed by Pope Clement XIV. Their Church in Luxembourg became, in 1778, a parish Church, under the name of Saint-Nicolas-et-Sainte-Thérèse. In 1794, the Church welcomed the miraculous statue of Notre-Dame, comforter of the afflicted, which was formerly in a Chapel outside the city walls. In 1801, the Church changed its name again by being dedicated to Saint Peter, before regaining its dedication to the Virgin Mary in 1848.

In 1840, the Grand duchy was erected by Pope Gregory XVI in Apostolic Vicariate. The Diocese of Luxembourg was erected in 1870 and the Church of the former Jesuit college became the Cathedral. A century later, on 23 April 1988, the Diocese of Luxembourg was raised to the rank of archdiocese by Pope John Paul II. An extension of the Cathedral began in 1935 and continue until 1938. The Choir was remodelled in 1962 – 1963, after which the Cathedral was again consecrated on December 8, 1963, the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. A crypt is built under the choir and dedicated to Saint Peter which contains the tombs of the bishops of Luxembourg. Communicating with the latter, there is also the necropolis of the Grand Ducal family, closed by a grid surrounded by two bronze lions , dated 1936-37.

It was in this crypt that John the Blind, King of Bohemia and Count of Luxembourg found his last rest. This tireless knight that is found all over Europe, whether it is his native county or the Kingdom of Bohemia, Germany where he was the lieutenant of his father or in northern Italy, to the court and to the battlefields of the kings of France or to the Popes in Avignon or Lithuania during the Crusades of the Teutonic Order, was the son of Emperor Henry VII and father of Charles IV. He found death in 1346 at the battlefield of Crécy in the service of the king of France, in one of the first campaigns of the Hundred Years War.

The Cathedral of Notre-Dame of Luxembourg, by its history, has become a temple of Luxembourg memory. The national character of the building is emphasized on the day of the national holiday when the official ceremony organized by the Government takes the form of a service of Thanksgiving in which the Luxembourg authorities and the diplomatic corps participate.

Some description on the architecture

The 17C Notre Dame Cathedral is a late Gothic Church. On its main portal in the primitive Baroque style is the statue of the Blessed Virgin, surrounded by the Apostles Peter and Paul, as well as Ignatius of Loyola and Francis  Xavier, founders of the Society of Jesus. Later a statue of St. Nicholas completed the ensemble. The portal of the new part of the Cathedral, marked by the ornamentation  comprises a hundred human figures, about fifty animal representations and a rich vegetal decoration. The bronze shutters of the doors also all made by Auguste Trémont.

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Among the works present in the cathedral, one can see:  The large canopies of the Choir. The canopies of the Grand Ducal Tribune, representing the characters of the medieval Comtal house.  The stained glass windows  representing biblical scenes (episode of Tobie in the eardrum of the door of the inner courtyard, issuance of Saint Peter in the eardrum of the Chapel of the Sacred Heart) or of the Jesuit Saints (Pierre Canisius, Robert Bellarmine, François Xavier, Ignace de Loyola, Jean Berchmans) and other well-known Jesuits in Luxembourg, such as Alexandre Wiltheim or Jacques Brocquart.  The stained glass windows of the years 1848-1860 depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin.  The abstract canopies of 1966 located at the organ stand , inspired by the canopies of Notre-Dame de Paris. The rood decorated with alabaster statues dating back to the late Renaissance.  The cylindrical pillars adorned with a system of interlaced bands. A painting, the Adoration of the Magi, of Jacques Nikolai, of the School of Rubens.  The mural paintings , dated 1897. The two organs: the Haupt symphonic organ of 1938, and the classical organ of Westenfelder installed in 1995. In the Crypt: you will see the stations of the way of the Cross ,and the altars,  adorned with reliefs representing the Saints Henri and Cunegonde, Hubert and Willibrord.

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The main figure to come here and see and  blessed is Notre-Dame, comforter of the afflicted the statue which is kept at the Cathedral of Luxembourg has been attested since the beginning of the 17C. It is an effigy of a woman bearing her child, carved in Linden Wood, with a height of 73 cm, and established that its date of manufacture dates back to the end of the 16C. In addition, the style and technique of shearing would indicate that the sculptor would come from the greater German region, not from Flanders or Champagne as it has been assumed for a long time. It is a woman standing, the hair untied, the feet laid on the moon, capped with a crown of stars, appearing in the narrative of the Apocalypse according to the traditional Catholic interpretation, this woman is the Virgin Mary, the Sun represents The New Covenant, the moon the Old covenant or heresy. She carries a scepter of the right hand and on the left hand the Child-Jesus seated, wearing a royal crown and carrying  a globe surmounted by a Cross. These symbols evoke the kingship of Mary in heaven and of Jesus on Earth, Christ the king. The sculpture depicts her wearing a tunic, a belt and a cloak. Following a medieval and long-preserved use in Spain, the statue was clad in richly embroidered and ornamented garments, in particular a large cloak in the shape of a cape or a screed descending to the ground and concealing its feet placed on the moon. These ornaments were renewed several times, adapting to the style of the time, as attested by the various representations of the statue published over the centuries. The Crown of the Virgin lost its stars, attributes were added later.

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After the election of Notre-Dame comforter as patron of the city in 1666 and as patron-protector of the Duchy of Luxembourg in 1678, the statue is preserved in the Chapel of the Jesuit college. Since 1766 it is placed during the Octave on a particular votive altar of rock-style, designed in wrought iron and richly adorned. Nowadays it is still the object of veneration, especially from the fourth to the sixth Sunday of Easter. The pilgrimage to the comforter of the afflicted, can be considered as a national pilgrimage. Thus each year the solemn vows of 1678 are renewed in the presence of the Grand Duke, the government and the municipal authorities.

In the crypt of the cathedral are the tombs of the ducal family: such as : John, Count of  Luxembourg, King of Bohemia (10 August 1296-26 August 1346)-(son of Henry VII of the Holy Roman Empire).  Marie-Anne of Portugal (13 July 1861-1 August 1942)-(wife of Grand Duke Guillaume IV of Luxembourg). Marie-Adelaide I of Luxembourg, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg (14 June 1894-24 January 1924)-(eldest daughter of Grand Duke Guillaume IV of Luxembourg). Charlotte I, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg (23 January 1896-9 July 1985)-(daughter of Guillaume IV of Luxembourg).  Félix de Bourbon-Parma (28 October 1893-8 April 1970)-(husband of the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg).  Charles of Luxembourg (7 August 1927-26 July 1977)-(son of the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg).Josephine-Charlotte of Belgium (11 October 1927-10 January 2005)-(married to the  Grand Duke Jean).

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip , and is worth the detour are:

The Luxembourg tourist office on the Cathedral: https://www.visitluxembourg.com/en/place/misc/cathedrale-notre-dame 

The City of Luxembourg on the Cathedral: https://www.luxembourg-city.com/en/place/church/cathedral-of-the-blessed-virgin

The city of Luxembourg on its heritage: https://www.vdl.lu/fr/la-ville/en-bref/histoire-de-la-ville

And there you go folks ,another jewel of in Luxembourg ville, do not forget to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral. A wonderful city state of Luxembourg, we love it so much. Enjoy the visit as we have over the years, it is recommended.

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

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