March 19, 2019

Chantilly, more than a cream, a beautiful castle!

And I bring the crème de la crème ooops nah as the title says it is more than a cream Chantilly is a beautiful historical and architecturally stunning castle and proud member of the Friends of Chantilly Castle!

I like to tell you a bit more reloading an old post of this beautiful property. Of course, one of my favorites in France. Hope you enjoy Chantilly, the castle!

This is a cinderalla castle ,wonderfully done and maintain, full of history and hunting stories of France.  Chantilly is ,also, the name of the town, in the department of Oise, No 60 ,in the region of Hauts de France  ( previously Picardie and historically the region of the Valois) , north of Paris, and right in the middle of the forest of Chantilly.  World renown for its cream of Chantilly, but also, a beautiful castle with a museum of Condé, racetrack or hippodrome, and a museum of the living horse! It took a great beaten in WWI as the opposition hq was based until Marshal Joffre got rid of it in the great battle of the Marne. In WWII ,the hq of the opposition was installed at the grand ecurie, the town was liberated by the Americans in 1944.  Afterward it became a great residential area full of horse lovers, and most of the jobs are found south towards Paris region.

The main route to reach Chantilly is the A1 and A16 autoroutes easily accessable from Paris or London.  The train station Chantilly-Gouvieux is on the line Paris-Lille from Paris gare du Nord, and also on the RER D from Paris.  It is only about 30 kms from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.

chantilly

A bit of history I like

The area is the domaine of the Montmorency family from the 15C to the 17C, then it passes to the Conde house, junior house of the Bourbon branch from the 17C to the 19C.  Only the petit chateau is original from the 16C, the Grand Chateau is a reconstruction from the 19C ( 1875-1881)  . It was the son of king Louis Philippe Ier,Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Aumale that inherits the castle and adorned it with paintings and objects of arts.  He in turns donates all to the Institut de France and the collection is turn into the museum of Condé inside the Castle ( the best collection of old paintings in France behind the Louvre!) . The Grandes  Ecuries built in 1719-1740 AD  today house the musée vivant du cheval or the living museum of the horse ,and the gardens is done by none other than Le Notre. All these complexes are worth a visit, a must to see while in the Paris area.

chantilly

chantilly

Chantilly

chantilly

chantilly-chateau-des-princes-de-conde

A bit of a tour at the properties. In the Petit Chateau, you have the appartments des Princes or princes apartments, where the Grand Condé lived; the Duke of Aumale was reserved the apartment in the ground floor. You can see a beautiful collection of manuscripts in the Cabinet des Livres or library ,where you will find the original copy of the “Trés Riches Heures du Duc de Berry”. The galerie de Monsieur le Prince or the gallery of Mister Prince has works of arts showing battles under the command of the Grand Condé.

chantilly-library-at-chateau-chantilly-1876

The Grand Chateau, once crossing the galerie des Cerfs or gallery of deers dedicated to hunters and hunting, you will the tapestries from the 17C, then the galerie de Peintures or paintings gallery, showing the tastes and likes of the Duke of Aumale with paintings of military battles, Richelieu,Mazarin and Gabrielle d’Estrée au bain. At the end of the gallery you reach a rotonda or main hall, you see the Vierge de Lorette by Raphael, turn to your right at the end you see the salle de la Smala and the rotonde de la Minerve where portraits of the family of Orléans are shown.  Come back a bit and see the Cabinet de Giotto dedicated to the primitive Italians, then in succession you see the Salle Isabelle, wonders from the 19C as Delacroix and Ingres, Salon d’Orléans, with porcelains of Chantilly taken from the factory founded by the duke of Bourbon in 1725. The visit continues with the salle Caroline,  work by Van Loo and Watteau etc,then Cabinet des Clouet a collection of works of arts in miniatures, opening into the Santuario where the works of Raphael Vierge de la maison d’Orléans, the Trois Glaces, Esther et Assuerus, portrait of the marriage coffre by Lippi, forty miniatures by Jean Fouquet as told in the book by Heures d’Etienne Chevalier, and you will finish this tour on the Cabinet des Gemmes that houses the beautiful jewerly and enamels as well as miniatures ,and the Tribune showing the 8 places favorites of the Duke of Aumale. All just gorgeous !

chantilly

chantilly

chantilly

chantilly

Then ,you move into the gardens, compose of three sections, the jardin a la française design by Le Notre, the jardin anglo-chinois around a hameau or house dating from 1773, and the jardin anglais from 1819. It takes about an hour to really see these. You can make longer by going to the Potager des Princes or prince veggies garden. Begin at the English garden or jardin anglais with its platanesques trees, take the allée Blanche and continue on the canal des Morfondus to reach thechapel of St Jean (built 1538); take a half turn and cross the canal des morfondus by a passarelle bridge to reach the hameau or country house created in 1774, along the banks you will see the Grand Canal to see the castle from the back great view indeed. When you return go by the allée des Philosophes; you can see kangaroos if you go outside their sleeping time very early.

chantilly

chantilly

The official webpage of the Chantilly castle properties ,you can see it in English at http://www.chateaudechantilly.com/en/  with up to date information and pricing.

You can go see the Hippodrome or racecourse,not open to the public during racing unless you pay but off you can ask to see the racecourse and training stables at 5 ave magdalene , see the info in English  http://www.france-galop.com/en/node/60

chantilly

The living museum of the horse or Musée vivant du Cheval, near the castle you can see it, walking distance, you see about 30 different races of horses for real actual horses of course as well as poneys, in the Grandes Ecuries you have 240 horses, 500 dogs, and just wonderful, performances are done daily. see webpage Chantilly Living museum of the Horse

chantilly

The tourist office for Chantilly webpage has lots of goodies, and if you have any questions just let me know ok.   Tourist office of Chantilly in English

Hope you have enjoy the ride or the visit to a wonderful castle museum of Chantilly, see it from Paris its easy. Enjoy it

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

 

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March 19, 2019

How to be a Parisien…..really!

Re blog and still holds true, how to be a Parisien!

This came out in my favorite newspaper and magazine Le Figaro, so I am translating here from the French. The 100 ways you can be or are sure to be a Parisien. That fits my bill alright ::)

1. Had dinner at Tokyo Eat (16éme) and not needing to open the door to the Palais de Tokyo

2. Taken a breakfast in the terrace of Café Marly (1 éme)

3. Be seated at a table in l’Abtrance (16 éme)

4.  Had organise a goodbye party to a colleague at the Train Bleu, gare de Lyon ( 12éme)

5.  Had dinner at Lipp (6 éme) at the first floor and street side with preference next to a famous head statue

6. Had eaten an onion soup at Halles (1 éme)

7. had bought a ice cream cone at Bertillon, the main house in the 4éme

8.  Had tasted a Paris-Brest by  Philippe Conticini in the Patisserie des Reves in rue du Bac (7éme)

9.  have the pleasure to fill your basket in the Grande Épicerie du Bon Marché (7éme)

10.  Have fallen for the caramel macaron with salted butter at Ladurée (8éme)

11.  had taken a mint tea at the Mosquée de Paris  (5 éme)

12.  had for lunch a tamoul at Pooja ( 10éme)

13.  Clean plate of a côte de bœuf for two at 6am in Chez Denise or La Tour de Montlhèly (I éme)

14.  Believe you were stuck in New York having a club sandwich at Harry’s Bar  (II éme)

15. Had ordered a cheese dish at Marie-Anne Cantin (VIIe)

16.  Ruined yourselves a Sunday morning at the bio market in boulevard Raspail (VIIe)

17.  had lunch un bento at Kunitoraya 2  (Ier)

18.  had drank and participated with the winegrowers while the feast of Fête des vendanges de Montmartre, early October

19.  had eaten un fallafel a Sunday at As du Fallafel , rue des Rosiers (IVe )

 20. had spent 80 euros for two of a roasted chicken with potatoes afire in Ami Louis (IIIe)

21.  had found the bag to go buy the flowers at Rungis  and eat oysters

22.  had purchase the favorite tea at  Mariage Frères

23. had a picnic on the pont des Arts

24.  had taken a bite of a libanese sandwich  at avenue George-V to think you are in Beirut

25. had a stop a pause at New Nioullaville (XIe) to enter into the Chinese new year

26. had taken a cafe at Flore

27.  be seated in front of a breakfast « plateau » at Coupole, sitting on the red benches but not in the terrace

28. to not swear if by the head of veal at Apicius  (VIIIe)

29. to be hug on the quai de la Tournelle

30. to have order a cocktail at the Bar Hemingway in the Ritz, at the eye color of the invited person, (do it before it closes for renovations)

31.  to have rented a room at the Hotel Chopin at  passage Jouffroy (IXe)

32.  to have mark your name and of your love one in the walls of the catacombes

33.  had played the card of double winner, champagne plus plaid on one the bridges of a Bateau-Mouche toenjoy the lights of the city of llights

34.  to have appointment at least once on the parvis de Notre-Dame, the fountain of Saint-Michel or the steps of the Opéra Garnier

35.  to have taken a glass facing the sun set at Bourbon, behind the Assemblée nationale

36.  to take a walk at cementary Père Lachaise  passing in front of the tombs of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde

37.  to have descended on the sewers of Paris to breath its odors !

38.  to have done a jogging in the jardin des Tuileries at sunrise

39.  to take a tour around the place des Vosges in trying to find the appartments of Jack Lang, Maître Binoche, and   DSK

40.  to have gone to Aubervilliers in the home camp of Bartabas

41.  to subscribe for a ride iin rollers blades in Paris

42.  to go walking in the city while celebrating a white night or Nuit blanche

43. to have purchase a subscription to a Vélib’

44.  to have taken the electric stairs at the Beaubourg

45.  to admire the windows of Christmas or  Noël in the big department stores

46.  to look for the Café des Deux Moulins, rue Lepic, thinking of Amélie Poulain

47.  to get lost in the basements of the  Châtelet-les Halles

48.  to walk along rue Saint-Honoré without spending nothing

49.  to be confused with  Shirley McLaine in  Irma la Douce (Billy Wilder) while walking  rue Casanova (Ier )

50.  to have missed a change in the change at Michel-Ange-Molitor and do a tour for nothing on the line 10 of the metro of paris

51.  to have assisted at march of the 14 Juillet  in the  Champs-Élysées

52.  to have put a small sailboat to ride in the lake of jardin du Luxembourg or des Tuileries

53.  to go see the old crocodiles at porte Dorée

54.  to finish reading a romance novel in a green chair (hard to find) at the jardin du Luxembourg

55.  to have purchase a ticket for a night of Pedro Almodovar or Lynch at the Cinema CHampollion (Ve) or for an episode of Star Wars at the Grand Rex  (IIe)

56. to have yell at and insulted the taxis that goes by all full

57.  to go dance at a  Bal des pompiers, an evening of the 14 Juillet

58.  to have waited for the tour Eiffel to flips it lights from the Théatre de Chaillot, at the entrance.

59.  to have taken an aperitif on the canal Saint-Martin, between two rounds of the game pétanque

60.  to have dance for a song of a DJ at Batofar

61.  to have dance on the salons of Maxim’s the friday evening for the parties of Belle Époque

62.  to have walk an evening of winter on the racecourse of trotters in Vincennes

63. to be seen been refuse entrance to chez Castel

64.  to have come in on foot a morning, because of no bus nor metro

65.  to have waited for the sunrise from the steps of Sacré-Cœur

66.  to go to the Collége de France and assist of its courses for free

67.  to be one evening on the presentation at the gallery Kamel Mennour (VIe) to see an artist such as Claude Levêque,or  Daniel Buren)

68.  to have seen an opera at the Bastille

69.  to have gone to the Louvre, simply to smile at the mona lisa and delayed your stay at the salle des Rubens

 70.  to have seen Podalydès play at the Comédie Française

71.  to have look and see at the aisles of La Hune (new address) or of the Écume des Pages (VIe)

72.  to have admired the work of  Nuit étoilée by Van Gogh at the museum of Orsay

73.  to have entered the Shop/atelier of Delacroix at  place de Furstenberg

74.  to have try to enter the Chateau des Brouillards in the butte Montmartre

75.  to have seen the work  Porte de l’enfer inside the park of the museum of Rodin

76.  to have understood what is Austerlitz at the Invalides

77.  to have entered the metro by the mouth of Guimard ,porte Dauphine or that of Othoniel at  place du Palais-Royal

78.  to have walk between the girafes and elephants in the Galerie de l’Evolution, jardin des Plantes

79.  to have seen a musical play at the Théatre du Chatelet

80.  have seen play the Philarmonica of Vienna or Berlin on the TCE

81.  Be entered in the drawers of the Bank of France while a heritage days event or Journées du patrimoine

82.  to have taken your companion to the oldest theater of Guignol of Paris , rond-point des Champs-Élysées

83.  to found yourselves seduce by shopping on Sunday in the rue des Francs-Bourgeois (IVe)

84. to have purchase old 45/78 vinyls music records at Crocodisc (Ve)

85.  to have pushed the doors at the Herboristerie du Palais-Royal (Ier) and ask plenty of questions

 86. to have obtain from your sample mold of a shirt at  Charvet (Ier), high temple of made to order

87.  to come out of Colette (Iéme) with many things of no use whatsoever

88.  to have desire to buy a pet dog right away at the animal stands along quai de la Mégisserie (Ier)

89.  tohave assisted to an Orthodox mass in rue Daru (VIIIe)

90.  to enrich yourself but not much in a sales room at Drouot

91.  to have taken time to take care of yourself in a spa on a palace hotel such as Plaza Athénée or Meurice hotels

92.  tohave spend 90 cents for an egg mayo at Voltaire  (VIIe)

93.  tohave try to walk the sidewalks of the palais de l’Élysée and be reprimend by the police force

94.  to have fallen for a ride with a nice taxi driver

95.  to have taken a glass at the first floor of Café Germain and see past the young bust of Sophie, the  sculpture of Xavier Veilhan

96.  to have attended a march of the ballet in the Opéra de Paris, and be ready for its reverence

97.  to have been mistaken for a statue in the columns of Buren

98.  to have done the experience of the high rise hair on the head of the electrostatique room of the Palais de la Découvertr

99.  had try the guitars n the stores of the rue de Douai (IXe)

100.  to have spent the month of August in Paris

Yes its sublime Paris isn’t it….Paris forever. The saying simply the best was created for it. Cheers ! Parisiens.

March 19, 2019

Teatro Nacional D. Maria II at Lisbon!

And talking about theaters well been to a few, not from a pro angle but mostly because of their history and architecture which I like. Visiting Lisbon, Portugal is always a pleasure and many times there and many friends.

I ,of course, have written several posts on Portugal in my blog; but decided to do justice to this cultural monument in the old town. I like to tell you a bit more about the Dom Maria II National Theater or Teatro Nacional D. Maria II of Lisbon.

The National Theatre Dona Maria II or Teatro Nacional D. Maria II is located on the Rossio neighborhood at Praça D. Pedro IV in the historic heart of the old town of Lisbon. The theatre is one of the most prestigious venues in the country.

It is built on the northern façade of the Rossio square at the site of the former Estaus Palace , built around 1450 to house the foreign dignitaries and the nobles visiting Lisbon. In the 16C, the Estaus Palace became the seat of the Portuguese Inquisition. The palace was spared by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake but is completely destroyed by a fire in 1836.

Thanks to the stubborn efforts of the Romantic poet and writer Almeida Garrett, it is decided to replace the old palace with a modern theatre dedicated to Queen Mary II of Portugal. The construction began in 1842 on plans of the Italian neoclassical to finish in 1846.

The Theater of D Maria II  is one of the best representatives of the influence of neo-Palladianism in Lisbon. The main element of the façade is a portico of six Ionic columns supporting a triangular pediment. The tympanum is decorated with bas-reliefs representing Apollo and the Muses. The pediment is surmounted by a statue of the Renaissance playwright Gil Vicente, considered the father of the Portuguese theater. Some of Gil Vicente’s plays were censored by the Inquisition at the end of the 16C.

Lisbon

The interior is decorated by the best Portuguese artists of the 19C, but the bulk of the original decoration was lost in a fire that occurred in 1964. The theater D. Maria II had to be completely renovated and only re-opened its doors in 1978. The building that you see today was reconstructed preserving the original neoclassical style from the 1840s.

There are guided tours that lead you from the performance rooms to the unseen areas in the theater backstage, including dressing rooms, technical areas, prop and costume-making rooms. The guided tours take approximately one hour, and are available in Portuguese, English, French, Spanish, Italian and German. Enjoy it!

Some webpages to help you plan your visit here are

Official webpage Theater of D. Maria II in Portuguese

Tourist office of Lisbon on the Theater D Maria II in English

Tourist office of Portugal on theater D Maria II in English

There you go a cultural stop on your glorious walking of Lisbon as we did; and plenty to see and taste around it too. Enjoy the theater of D Maria II and Lisbon!

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

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March 18, 2019

Capuchins theater of Luxembourg city!

So lets move back to the east of France in Europe shall we! And I take you back to one of my favorite countries in Europe, that is Luxembourg. Needless ,to say I have come here several times over the last 28 years and always lovely with great memories with the family.

In our walking endlessly routine in town we have come across many interesting buildings and many off the beaten path sites. This one is overshadow by its grander theater but we like it for the cosyness of and the old town feel all around it. In addition, we have parked here underground garage many times to start our walks of the city.

So ,therefore, let me tell you a bit more on the Theater of Capuchins. Briefly ok

The Theater of Capuchins or Thêatre des Capucins is located at 9, Place du Théâtre, (theater square), just around the corner where we have parked many times and therefore took a peek at this quant theater. The Capuchins theater is managed by the city of Luxembourg City. It puts on performances in German, French and Luxembourgish.

The theater of Capuchins has an Italian room of 270 seats. The Capucins theater is one of the witnesses of the eventful history of the city of Luxembourg. Successively was a Convent of Capuchin monks, grain store, theater, place without assignment, it was renovated in 1985.

Luxembourg

Making a big part of the dramatic creation, it offers viewers the opportunity to discover artists from all over Europe. The Capuchins theater presents an eclectic programming, representative of what is sung, plays and dances on national and international plateaus, with a constant demand of quality, without exclusive, and always motivated by the desire to meet the expectations of a cosmopolitan audience.So claims their official city site.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Luxembourg city on the theater

Advance ticket site for the theater and future events

Tourist office of Luxembourg on the theater

It is lovely to attend even briefly as we did and especially walk around this lovely part of the old town of Luxembourg city. Enjoy it and do stop by the Thêatre des Capucins!

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

 

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March 18, 2019

Two countries road trip, Bratislava, Brno, and Otrokovice!

Ok so let me bring my memories into my blog blossoms into the old eastern Europe. I have venture there with my eyes opened to see the differences in the changes of the guards. The young  may not remember, I do. I can tell the changes.  The trip was an eye opener of the positive changes encounter all over my road trip.

Oh I took a road trip thru the countries of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, (old Czechoslovakia). It was a cruising trip fast pace by car so not much to see just glimpses of the cities of Bratislava, Brno, and town of Otrokovice.  I like to share for me and you, some of the things I would like to have seen if time there and the pictures I was able to take on the road!

Bratislava is the capital of independent Slovakia since 1993, located in the southwest of the country, just on the border with Austria, only 60 km from Vienna , with Hungary about 10 km and nearby also from the border with the Czech Republic.

The Carpathians begin on the territory of the city Malé Karpaty, or small Carpathians. It is crossed by the Danube river . It includes universities, many museums, theatres and other cultural institutions including a famous philharmonica. The city was traditionally influenced by several nationalities such as Austrians, Hungarians, Slovaks etc. Throughout its history, the city has also been known as Pressburg.

The nice thing I heard about the city is its many theatres, museums, galleries, concert halls and cinemas. The best known are the Slovak National Theater. Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra. Slovak National Museum. Slovak National Gallery. The Museum of Natural History, with two million exhibits, is one of the richest in Europe. The Mirbach Palace, built in 1768 and renovated in 1975, houses Baroque works from the 17-18C in a fascinating Rococo décor. The watchmaking Museum allows, meanwhile, to discover a superb collection of portable sundials, clocks and ornate gussets, made by the masters of the city in the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Grassalkovitch Palace b. 1760 and residence today of the President of the Slovak Republic; another site is the Gothic St. Martin Cathedral built between the 13C and 16C, where nearly nineteen Kings and Queens were crowned between 1563 and 1830. The major monument of the 20C is the Pont Neuf or new bridge over the Danube river with its panoramic restaurant in the form of a flying saucer. Bratislava also has two castles. The first simply called Bratislava castle overlooks the city and the Danube river. The second is completely ruined, it is the castle of Devin above the Morava River which forms the border between Austria and Slovakia. It was destroyed by Napoleon’s troops in 1809 and today still constitutes a strong Slovak national symbol.

Tourist office of Bratislava

Bratislava

bratislava

Brno is a city in the Czech Republic and the capital of the South Moravia region. Brno was the capital of the historic region of Moravia. It is located at the confluence of the Svitava and Svratka rivers, 112 km north of Vienna, 123 km NNW of Bratislava, and 185 km SE of Prague.

Brno was founded in 1243 and remains a fortified town until the 19C. It became the capital of Moravia Margraviate from 1641. It is the political and cultural centre of the Southern Moravia region.

Some things I would love to see here are the City/Town hall , built in the 13C, is the oldest civil building in the city. In particular, it holds a high tower, topped by a Renaissance roof. Some parts of the city are underground labyrinths accessible by guided tour with master cellar corner , and ossuary under the Church of St. James (second largest in Europe), modern sewers, tunnels..etc.

St. Peter and St. Paul’s Cathedral; The Cathedral, built on the site of a former fortress, dominates Petrov Hill. It is a late Gothic building of the 13C, built on an older crypt, and reengineered in the Baroque style in 1743-1746 after the Swedes burned it during the siege of 1645. The façade and towers were completed at the beginning of the 20C.

The fortress of Spielberg was a State prison famous for its dungeons having enclosed protagonists of the Italian Risorgimento. It was also nicknamed “the prison of Nations”. During WWII, the Gestapo invested the fortress, which became a center of torture. This place of sinister memory now houses an exhibition on the history of the city and the Municipal Museum. In the Chartreuse of Parma of Stendhal, the young Fabrice twice expresses his fear of being sent there. The namesti svobody (central republic square) is emblematic of the city.

Tourist office of Brno

brno

Otrokovice is a city in the district and the Zlín region of the Czech Republic. Otrokovice is located at the confluence of Morava and Dřevnice rivers , 10 km west of Zlín, 68 km east of Brno and 243 km SE of Prague

The first written mention of the locality dates from 1141. In 1930, the shoe manufacturer Tomáš Baťa created the Baťov industrial zone, in which the subsidiaries of the Baťa company and the aircraft manufacturer Zlín settled. Otrokovice was named Baťov between 1938 and 1946 and Otrokovice-Kvítkovice between 1960 and 1964.

The Canal of Bata is the historical waterway on the Morava river. It is also possible to navigate there now. The canal is passable from Spytihněv to Strážnice. The castle Nový Světlov was built in Gothic style . Buchlovice castle from the end of 17C and the beginning of the 18C0 Brumov castle is from the year 1255 The castle opens from the beginnig of May, You can visit the Jewish cementary. Bucovice castle, this casle has 3 floors and arcades on 3 sides of the courtyard. The visitors of the castle can be surprised with the mannerism ornamentation of the room for Emperor and with the Bird Hall. The area is literally filled with many other castles I just mentioned the ones I would had love to visit.

City of Otrokovice on things to see

Otrokovice

otrokovice passing town hall oct16

There you go ,another road warrior tour of yours truly ;of course I got first there by plane to Prague ::) and then the glorious car rides!! I would love to go back one day for an in depth look, done so at Prague (see previous posts on Prague in my blog). A bit of patient and will do it.

Prague

Hope you have enjoy it and take the chance tell me about it ok. Enjoy the ride

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

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March 18, 2019

Capitol, Havana, a symbol of a Nation

Let me bring along a emblematic building that represent a linkage of the past and present, a symbol of what and where you are in Cuba and especially Havana.  In my early youth ,I spent many afternoon going by and on school tours to see the meaning that it was to the Cubans. Inside is a plethora of historical facts to better understand the country.

I am talking about the Capitol building in old Havana. El Capitolio as it is known in Spanish, built in 1929  to house the two chambers of the Cuban congress. Its was inspired by the Roman capitol and that which is in Washington DC USA. The building has a front neo classic style with a dome of 92 meters tall ( 303 ft).  It is located between the streets or  calle Pardo, Dragones, Industria, and San Jose. Inside it marks the kilomerter zero of all distances in Cuba with a diamond on the floor. After the Cuban castro revolution it house the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment and the Academy of Sciences of Cuba.

Havana

It is in the space where the old city of Havana walls were crossing built in colonial period by the Spanish.  The walls here were destroyed in 1863. There was a statue to queen Isabel II, and it was the start of the now Parque Central de La Habana or Central Park.  Part of the public work efforts by then President Gerardo Machado (later dictator too), the team of architects Cuban and French participated in its design and decorations, with an American company for its construction. However, it was the French ,who put together the urban plan of the Capitol and surrounding areas as in Paris.

havana

The details of the work made the building  207 meters long in its facade  which included a large monumental stair of about  36 meters wide ( 119 ft) , 28 meters long (92 ft) , and 55 steps with three rest squares . At the two sides of the end of the stair you have two sculptures made in bronze by an Italian  artist, call ” La Virtud Tutelar del Pueblo ” (the virtue of the people) , and ” El Trabajo” (the work) ,both of 6,50 meters high (21 ft).

To continue the description of this wonderful building, we come to the main central door with a lenght of 36 meters (119 ft)  and 16 meters high (53 ft)  all held by 12 ionic columns of granite.  It is here that the main doors of access to the building are place with 7,70 meters high (25 ft) and 2,35  meters wide (8 ft) as well as the sculpture in relief of marbre ,also done by Italian artists.  The dome with a high of 92 meters (304 ft)  was at the moment the fifth highest in the world with a diameter of 32 meters (106 ft).  It has 16 panels of which the most impressive are those covered with gold leaves of 22 karats .  The dome has a lantern with 10 ionic columns of which interior were 5 light reflectors until 1959 when taken down by the revolutionary government.  In this space you see the symbolism architectural of the sculpture of the ” La República” or the lady marianne under the dome done in bronze of  15 meters high  (50 ft) and 30 tons in weight that at the moment was the second biggest in the world under a roof.

havana

Havana

You come to the great room call the “Salón de los Pasos Perdidos” ( the hall of the lost steps, the most monumental of the spaces with almost  50 meters long (165 ft) and 14,5 meters wide( 48 ft)  and almost 20 meters high (66 ft)  that serve the interconnection to the two bodies of government the  Cámara de Representantes (House of Representatives) and the  Senado (Senate). These two blocks are organised in a rectangular fashion around two gardens with dimentions of  45 by 15 meters each (149 x 50 ft). 58 types of marbre, wood of the most exquisite in the country, decoration and ambiance done by an  English firm.   The wrough iron in bronze by  an American company,  the lamps by the French, and Italians, Germans  for the work in marbre, onyx, etc .  The diamond that mark the distances in Cuba is of brilliance of 25 karats the last owner was the tzar of Russia Nicolas II, and arrive in Cuba by Turkish jewerler that purchase it in Paris. Now you see a replica, the original is the the vaults of the Bank of Cuba.  Looking at the volume of its construction it is estimated that the Capitolio of La Habana is the third in importance for its monolithic construction in the world ,and the only one with its characteristics built in the 20C.

havana

havana

It is inmense ,the pride of Havana, and one of the most visited buildings in the city as of today. It was always like that, a must to see while in Havana. Just now looking at the pictures I am in awe of  its beauty and I have seem some beauties now living in France. Hope you enjoy it.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip are

trip to Cuba private site good info and Capitolio

La Habana private site good info on city and Capitol

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

March 17, 2019

A tribute to friendships and good cheers!

And I need to re write this old post as it brings very nice souvenirs overall. I have been lucky to have visited 81 countries of our wonderful world (dont read the fake news) , and lived in 6 (Cuba, Spain, USA, France, Brazil, Nigeria, and Swizerland) and able to fluent speak 4 languages (English, French, Spanish,and Portuguese). I have dealt with the internet and travel forums and enjoyed finally even meeting some of the folks there and even had them visited my home and even stayed in my home! over the years. I am now alone as my dear late wife Martine, who accompany me on many of these trips and welcome these folks to our home is no longer due to the dreadful pancreatic cancer; this one is for her too.

I like to bring this post up again the best way I can, reblogging do not know how that works lol! Sorry not techie but humanoid lol! Here is part of my story.

Over the years I had the opportunity to meet wonderful folks from around the World that have come over to meet me in France or Spain or USA or me meeting them in their country. I like to pay tribute to their enduring friendship in this up dated post.

I have had the opportunity to be involved in several travel forums over the years that have been fulfilling to say the least. Encounter folks from many lands who right away established a good friendly rapport with, and it continues for some.

Some of the sites were Madridman, Cityvox(now yelp), Slow Travel, Tripadvisor, Virtual Tourist (now gone), Fodor’s, and Bottin Gourmand (as taster in France). I am no longer with any for reason of time and personal expressions that led me to start this blog, and away from forums. It is my intention to help readers enjoy the beauty of my surroundings and travels, and to help them enjoy their visits to these wonderful places more and better.

I have met them in New Jersey USA, Florida USA, Madrid, Spain, Paris, France, Versailles,France, Suresnes, France, St Germain en Laye, France , South Africa, etc. Some have come and some I have gone over, the general feeling is the same. Our love for travel and the human spirit remains strong attachment to our continuing relationship.

It is with great joy that I decide to interject my blog travel writing with this one, a special post in Paris1972-Versailles2003 blog. A bit of an explanation on the name: Paris 1972 was the first time I saw Paris visiting it from my home in Madrid! Versailles 2003 was my coming to live permanently as a French citizen in France from Florida USA! Two important dates in my life.

Those met in Madrid

madrid

madrid

madrid

Those met in Paris

paris

paris

paris

paris

Those met in Suresnes, Hauts de Seine dept 92

suresnes

Those met at Versailles!

versailles

versailles

Those met in Carnac, Pluvigner , Morbihan(56)

Carnac

Pluvigner

Those met in Johannesburg, South Africa.

South Africa

Thank you very much, and may the relationships and friendships  grow stronger with time. And welcome all new readers and followers to my blog.  La vie est belle en France, life is beautiful in France.

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

 

 

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March 17, 2019

Bordeaux, Médoc, family vacations!

So here I will redo update a popular destination and our favorite for the last several years. Bordeaux is it, and those words means a lot more than the city. You need to go around it and into the Médoc peninsula to see more gems.  As my belle France the sights are endless.

I like to tell you a bit more on our family vacations sort of a nostalgia event for me. Bear with me please ,and hope you too can enjoy it with your family. This is the Médoc and Bordeaux, one-two best!

I like to talk today about the Bordeaux region, one my favorite in all of France. There are many regions in France, total 13 as the country is divided sort of like States but not the same. The Bordeaux sits in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine and is great because of the following reasons :  first,the wines, the best in the world in my wine lovers’s opinion. Second ,the beaches, true only good for july and august but they are on the same level as the  best in Europe and the Americas. Third, the abundance of its gastronomy, diverse natural passages, and its friendly people. There is a huge amount of information here, will need an entire blog to tell you, have written several posts on it so browse my blog for more or contact me.

If you take the city of Bordeaux, you have a bit south the area of the Graves, and Leognan, and Cadaujac beautiful country towns with many activities for the kids and wines of course.  The whole huge area around Bordeaux is connected by a beltway road, the “rocade” or the A630 that takes you into the city or out into the other areas and Spain. My best is to go into the Médoc, the famous area of wines but it has a lot more. From the rocade you  take exit 4 to go into central Bordeaux or exit /sortie in French to no 7 that takes you into the side D1/D2 of wine country along the Garonne river, the other exit/sortie no 8 takes you into the beaches and central area of Medoc.  There is a bus from the Bordeaux train station St Jean to Lacanau near the beaches the No 702, 701,and 710 (need to check for updates as never taken them) ; and train service to Pauillac (again check update as never taken it). The train station is best for schedules at the TER webpage here , see the webpage here: TER Nouvelle Aquitaine region

bordeaux

Bordeaux

The buses  info is here  https://www.transgironde.fr/fr/horaires/23 .  There is, also, a great airport connecting to the rest of France and some European destinations webpage in English http://www.bordeaux.aeroport.fr/en . Once in the Medoc you have many department roads that takes you everywhere there, like the D215 and D207,D208,D3,and D5; via Michelin is good for a starter to guide you while on the road, more here: https://www.viamichelin.co.uk/ .  Again if you need shortcuts or curious let me know.

The main sites in the city of Bordeaux are; Esplanade des Quinconces ( one of the biggest plazas in Europe, see the towers statues of Montaigne,and Montesquiou ; Grand Théatre ( one of the most beautiful in France b. 1773-1780); walk the street of Cours de l’Intendance ( where at no 57 Goya lived,died in 1828,and now a Spanish cultural center); Place Gambetta (houses style Louis XV, the English garden where the guillotine was placed during the French revolution,and the door porte Dijeaux b.1748 ; Place de la Bourse (b. 1730-1755 with its fountain Trois Grâces b.1860), Place du Parlement (old royal market place), Basilique Saint-Michel (b. 1350) ,and its tower Tour St Michel with it clock dates from the end 15C,and the tallest tower in the south at 114.60 meters {378 ft]) ; Porte de la Grosse Cloche ( from a belltower of the 15C the big clock is an institution in Bordeaux); Rue Sainte-Catherine (pedestrian and full of shops and restos, walk it about 2 kms long); see the Musée d’Aquitaine ( the prehistoric to today history of the region) ;Musée des Beaux-Arts or fine arts museum( next to hotel de ville great paintings); Cathedrale St Andre (by the place Pey-Beland, the most majestic of the churches in Bordeaux, built in the 12-13C) Tour Pey-Berland ( 229 steps to reach the top,and a beautiful view of Bordeaux); Centre Jean Moulin( the hero of the French resistance, deportation,and view of WWII); Basilique St Seurin ( UNESCO heritage site, built 11C; great historical chapels,and rosaries, gorgeous); Musee du Vin( for the wine story in detail by the river Chartrons district), Hotel de Ville (palais de Rohan b 18C), and Pont de Pierre. These are the highlights, you could easily spend two days in the city alone. the tourist office webpage is at  https://www.bordeaux-tourisme.com/

For shopping the city is just like Paris, you have all the main stores here too, and for me and the family  the shopping mall at Meriadeck is great and easy to reach on public transport from anywhere in the city plus a great underground parking for yours truly; webpage https://www.meriadeck.com/ . If you want to buy wines,etc in the city, the very best selection, service, and availability with price is La Vinothéque,near the tourist office, webpage  https://www.vinotheque-bordeaux.com/fr/la-vinotheque.html

Food is king so we have eaten in many over the years, our long time favorites are: El Bodegon, 14 place de la Victoire.Brasserie du Passage St Michel, 14 place Canteloup; Cafe Opera, (inside Grand Théatre) Place de la Comedie, Le Dix (now the Gabriel), 10 place de la Bourse, le Bal des Grands Hommes, (inside shopping Les Grands Hommes, good parking underground) 2 rue Montesquieu; Cafe des Arts, 138 cours Victor Hugo, just a sampler.

Moving south you can visit Cadaujac, with its petting zoo and stables, great for kids, La Ferme Exotique, its call, and you need a car as this is in deep country with great views south of Bordeaux. Highly recommended if with kids and have a car, my boys still remember it!!. webpage  https://www.fermeexotique.fr/

Cadujac

Going over the Médoc, now you are in heaven country, my country, we are base here always. We go here every year, sometimes twice a year during school vacations, the long one in the summer we spent 3 weeks each year. We skip 2018 due to the death of my dear wife Martine, will see when going again.  Our favorite was to rent a camping at Les Grand Pins ,and great for the whole family only 300 meters from the beach!!!  Webpage here: https://www.lesgrandspins.com/en/

lacanau-ocean

You have a nice mobile homes, with all amenities, great pricing, with grocery store ,bike rental, pool, exercise room, dancing at nights,and free parking so close to all in the region even trips to Bordeaux. The beach is glorious here, as good as any anywhere. It is in the town of Lacanau-Océan, the webpage for the town Lacanau is here in English: https://www.lacanau.fr/

You are along the ocean here, you can go south or north from here or over the pines central section of the Medoc to the wine chateaux. Lacanau-Océan is a world center of Surfing in Europe and the best come here to compete in the Lacanau Pro event.  We eat at the camping on our own, but if we splash out of town our evening favorite is Kayoc, by the beach overlooking its sunsets glorious, webpage  http://www.restaurant-lacanau.com/  . For ice cream we go to Pinocchio in city center, for groceries and more selection we go old supermarché Shoppi, now a Carrefour at 4 rue Emile Baudoux, near the main street to the beach webpage : https://www.carrefour.fr/magasin/contact-lacanau-ocean , and outside by the huge lake of Lacanau with many water activities, we eat at Restaurant La Conche, 24 allée du club de voile, la Grande Escoure, webpage and reservation contact for evenings  here: https://lacanauocean.com/fr/restaurant-la-conche-lac-lacanau.htm

e head for the beaches of Cancans and Hourtin as well like our playground area, crisscrossing this wonderful region, great beaches there if a bit smaller. We love the italian ices in Cancans, and the pizza at Hourtin. Can’t missed the ice creams in Cancans its right in the small city center street facing the beach at Maubuisson at 2 rue Rossignols, the webpage for tourism there and Hourtin,and Lacanau in English! is here  https://www.medoc-atlantique.com/a-voir-a-faire/tous-a-l-eau?listpage=1

The pizza at Hourtin is Restaurant Pizzeria Le Palerme at 8 place de l’église, tel +33 05 56 09 18 46.right in front of the church, in the market plaza and the road to the beach. The Hourtin area has a huge lake too. There is also a webpage for Carcans-Maubuisson here  https://carcans-maubuisson.com/

Throughout this wonderful area we enjoy all kind of beach activities, but,also,kart racing, bike riding ,and horse riding at these places . For Karting we go north along the ocean to Vendays-Montalivet motorsports center, great rides all pro done, and fun for the teen kids, You can contact them ahead for info and direction but its really easy on the D6 road, the webpage for the karting is http://www.gironde-tourisme.info/randonnee,quad,medoc-65.html

For the horse riding we have been using since 2005  this place, Lacanau Equi-Passion, you can taylor made the rides according to level of expertise,and arrange for rides on the ocean ! webpage http://lacanau-equipassion.fr/

For bicycle riding, we can use the local rental at the camping but they have a limited number of bikes, so we go out into the town and rent at Locacycles,Avenue de l’Europe, Central Garage ,tel +33 05 56 26 30 99. just before the Kayoc resto on your way to the beach. Webpage: https://www.locacyclelacanau.fr/

While at the famous D2 wine route and cruising all these wonderful properties, we have eaten at the Restaurant La Toscane, 28 rue Aristide Briand, Pauillac, right from the harbor city center up the pedestrian street to the resto on your left side;great Italian dishes and Pizza which our teens love always. Try for local traditional dishes the Restaurant Saint Martin, 5 quai Leon Perier across from pleasure boat marina, webpage:  http://restaurant-lesaintmartin.com/

Here of course you are in heaven at least me, its my place PAUILLAC, got it.  You can indulge yourselves by visiting the museum and property of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, by reservation at tel + 33 05.56.73.21.29. webpage  https://www.bpdr.com/en/chateau-mouton-rothschild-2 , or the museum of the property of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande with reservation at tel +33 05.56.59.19.40. webpage  http://www.pichon-comtesse.com/

Other than visiting the chateaux direct, if time is of the essence, you must stop by the vinothéque de Pauillac, it is in the Maison du tourisme et vins de Pauillac building just at the entrance to the town; info at bottom at this webpage https://www.pauillac-medoc.com/fr/pauillac-tourisme/vins-chateaux/   with many souvenirs and food items from the region as well . Once in the area I recommend heading over to Chateau Lanessan at Cussac-Fort-Medoc, with its nice fortress (Fort Medoc) by the river in the town , and on the chateau property a very nice carriage museum and horse history with tastings, my kids introduction to wine tasting was here back in 2008! webpage http://www.lanessan.com/#/Visite/

Fort Cusac

Another great wine and information center is the Maison du vins de Margaux ,which has it own webpage http://maisonduvindemargaux.com/ ; here we have try the Brasserie du Lac part of relais de Margaux complex and its wonderful, webpage https://www.relais-margaux.fr/fr-fr/restaurants1/brasserie-du-lac1

Do not forget to stop by in Margaux at the Mademoiselle de Margaux chocolates, for the famous serments de Medoc ,webpage : https://www.mademoiselledemargaux.com/

Going to Saint Estéphe, the maison du vins there is excellent in inner court of the street very quaint area, webpage http://saint-estephe.fr/ .  And, a page in French, for everything, or almost everything you need to know about the Medoc, Bordeaux region or the Gironde, private site Caruso33 ,here is a know it all webpage http://www.caruso33.net/

Of course there are many individual properties visited over the years too numerous to mention, buy the Feret edition, Bordeaux and its Wines book at any serious book store, the essential historical analytical guide to the wines of the Médoc,last edition from 2014. Webpage:  http://www.feret.com/bordeaux-et-ses-vins/bordeaux-et-ses-vins-19-edition-2014.html . Hope it bring some taste for visiting the region, its glorious, for all ages, and the France profonde/deep France I love so much.

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

 

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March 17, 2019

Ben Thanh Market at Ho Chi Minh City!

So here I am taking you back east all the way to Vietnam. I have visited the country several times in the last few years and always impressive with its recovery after the wars. My main city was Ho Chi Minh City or old Saigon; even if some locals still call it Saigon!

On the several posts done on the country , I like to tell you about one particular spot that I got in by surprise walking from my hotel once, and then on another occassion came back to see it fully inside. This is the Ben Thanh Market, a must to visit.

The Ben Thanh market or Ho Chi Minh Market,  or Saigon market , whose Vietnamese name is Cho Ben Thanh is the best tourist shopping destination in Ho Chi Minh City. This tourist spot is located in the heart of the city, in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City, more precisely the Ben Thanh market  is located at the end of a commercial street call Le Loi, and at the beginning of the Le Lai street.

Ho Chi minh city

This building, which covers an area of more than 13 000 m 2, is made of cream-painted concrete with red roofs. Rectangular in shape, has 4 entrance doors or access inside the building, each door is equipped with an animal as a symbol of this entry, for example at the door of the animal is a cow. The highlight of the main façade is the huge clock housed in the middle of the front door turret.

ho chi minh city

Cho Ben Thanh Market was built in 1914 by the French in Ho Chi Minh. Although the building is relatively modern market, the inhabitants of the city and traded near the river since the 17C.

On the market you can find clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry, equipment, pet shops, crafts, flowers, spices, nuts, food and restaurants . If you can’t find what you want inside the Ben Thanh market, you won’t be able to find it in Ho Chi Minh city!,so is the claim.

ho chi minh city

As a rule, prices are not fixed and will need to be haggle, or as traders say, apply a discount (except for restaurants). During the day, traders and stands  inside the market building, but in the evening , after 18h, the market closes to make room for the so-called Ben Thanh Night Market. A part of the traders mounted their stalls and shelves outside the Ben Thanh Market and all the restaurants and food stalls, without exception, continue its activity at the gates of Cho Ben Thanh Market.

The market opens its doors in the early hours of the morning and closes in the evening at 18h.  It is open every day of the week ,Monday to Sunday, whether it is a holiday, only during the Lunar New Year (Tết) and holidays, some stores can be closed. From 18h until midnight, outside the market, it continues the night market as above mentioned.

ho chi minh city

Hope you enjoy the tour, and see some webpages to help you plan your trip here

Official Ben Thanh Market HCMC

Vietnam Guide hotels.com on Ben Thanh Market

A nice Youtube video on Ben Thank Market:

There you go always busy but so many wonders inside to bring home as souvenirs from Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon. Enjoy Ben Thanh Market!

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

 

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March 17, 2019

Chateau de La Roche Guyon!

And I am coming to an old hunting ground when I used to lived in Versailles. Now out west have been lagging passing by here but always good to remember. This is an updated new blogging of an old post from 2011. It is always good to have nice memories of the Castle of La Roche Guyon!

Let me tell you a bit about with some personal old photos included! La Roche Guyon is in dept 95 Val-d’Oise in the Île-de-France region. Very nicely along the A13 by car, direction from Paris on the autoroute A13 of normandy, direction Rouen, at Mantes exit 14 take it followed direction Limay than Vétheuil./La Roche Guyon or even better the A15/D14 more scenic out of Paris.

We always stop by La Roche Guyon, make it a one two punch hard to resist while driving this beautiful area great for weekends. Here you have the Chateau de la Roche Guyon, here the Seine river form an unique turn by the river with a high elevation ideal for a lookout from those invading Normans

la roche guyon

A bit of history I like

In the 3C AD, the troglodyctives caves, and the local lord Guy eventually gave the name to Roche Guyon. History tell us that from the year 911 AD, the treaty of Saint Clair sur Epte giving Normandy to the Vikings, the Roche Guyon keeps the limits of the frontier with the French kingdom over the Seine river.  The French revolution has a tragic and bloody event here, as the owner of the castle was Louis Alexandre de La Rochefoucauld, he was very close to the ideals of the American Revolution and translate to French all the articles of the constitution of the States of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina with first editions in 1778.  He along with the Marquis de Lafayette, joined the estates generals and guided in principles the avenants of the French Revolution, elected President of the department of Paris in 1791. Aftet the revolutionaries turn against him for fear of his democratic ideals, he take refuge with his wife and mother at  Forges-les-Eaux where he hides there but in september 4, 1792 while doing a carriage transfer at Gisors he is arrested and massacre by stoning while his mother and wife looks on in disbelief.  More than 1000 are taken prisioners there and killed, the mother the Duchess of Enville is spare with the daughter in law by the intervention of the local people who appreciated their support always. She died in Paris in 1797 and the grandson continues with the property of Roche Guyon which eventually passes to his heir, the Cardinal Rohan. Some renovation is done to preserve the castle from lack of care in years later.

la roche guyon

Then WWII starts, from 1940 the village is occupied by the nazis, and on 1943 a civil defense field  created.  In February 1944, marshal Rommel established his command HQ in the Château de La Roche-Guyon.  The town is liberated the 8 august 1944 after 8 bombs hits the Chateau ,taking about 20 yrs to make it back to how it was before the war.

la roche guyon

The castle and gardens are now visited from February 5, every day from 10h to 17h. From March 28 from  10h to 18h during the week and 10h to 19h the weekends, from October 31 every day from 10 to 17h.  The visit is done following the terrases, then along and inside the salons or rooms, then the circuit of donjons /towers, and chapels, then the casements. Dont forget to visit the gardens just in front of castle towards the Seine river.

La roche guyon

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Chateau de La Roche Guyon

City of La Roche Guyon on the Castle in French

Hope you enjoy the ride, it is a historical nice place to visit and the views over the garden and into the  Seine river are sublime. Enjoy La Roche Guyon!

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

 

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