June 23, 2018

Welcome back to Castres!

I go around this region a lot in the past due to my dear late wife Martine roots, and while there we decided to go to Castres on the extreme east of our trails for the curiosity of the Goya Museum there. It was a pleasant decision and a nice visit. If anything for the same Goya Museum….!

Let me bring you up to speed on the wonderful Castres. Castres is a town in the department of Tarn (81) in the region of Occitanie.. 42 km south southeast of Albi ,15 km of Mazamet, and 72 km from Toulouse. The town is cross by the Agout river a tributary of the Tarn river that joins here with the Durenque and the Thorate rivers.

A bit of history I like

Castres has an Origin around the Benedictine abbey of St. Benedict, which is supposed to have been founded about the year 647 on the right bank of the Agout by Lords of the Court of Sigisbert III , becoming an important stop on the international routes of Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela (through via Tolosane) to Spain. The Abbey Church, built in the 9C, keeps the relics of Saint Vincent, the renowned martyr of Spain. The former abbey of the Order of Saint-Benoit, located in the Diocese of Albi, dependent on Saint-Victor of Marseille, to which the body of Saint Vincent had been brought in 955. Bertrand was a monk and abbot in 1317, when Pope John XXII, originally from Cahors, erected it in the bishopric by Bulle in the same year of 1317..

During the Albigeois Crusade, a delegation of Castres surrendered and pledged allegiance to the Crusader Simon de Montfort. Castres entered the kingdom of France in 1271 with the Treaty of Paris, in the absence of successors in the county of Toulouse. In 1317, Pope John XXII established Castres as a bishopric; it will remain so until the French Revolution. In 1356, the seigneury of Castres was promoted to county by King John II of France. The county entered the crown of the king of France, Francis I in 1519.

In the years 1530-1560, a large proportion of the population of Castres was converted to Protestantism and there would be three successive Huguenot rebellions (1620-1622, 1625-1626 and 1627-1629). The revocation of the Edict of Nantes follows soon, and Castres suffers greatly when a large number of Protestants choose exile.

During the French revolution, the clergy was divided between unsubmissive clergy (refractory: Those who remain faithful to the papacy) and the swearing clergy (constitutional). In 1792, the refractory are all banished from France. Those who remained many face executions by the guillotine held on the present place of the Albin. In 1794, it was on this square of the albin that the scaffold lay, at the site of the present Halle aux Grains .A High cross near the forecourt of the Church of Saint-Jean-Saint-Louis reminds us of these events.

In the Great War or WWI, the city suffered a lot of casualties. For example, the rugby team at Castres Olympique was decimated during the conflict. In 1942, the Nazis occupied Castres. They took two German cannons of 1914-1918 because these two pieces of artillery were recovered by the French army at the end of the Great War constituting a war trophy. These two cannons were exposed, during the inter-war period, to the present place where the monument was erected in homage to the dead soldiers for France Castres was liberated by the FFI of Zone A of the Tarn, including an American OSS Commando and the Company Marc Haguenau des Maquis de Vabre, in August 1944.

My previous blog post on Castres here:  https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/2522

The city counts with many nice places to see and it is very quaint nice such as St. Benedict’s (St Benoit) Cathedral, the episcopal seat of the former Diocese of Castres, is today the most important of the churches of Castres; Dating back only to the 17C and 18C , the City/town hall occupies the former Episcopal palace, conceived in the 17C by the famous architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart (the architect of Versailles), and finished by the garden of the bishopric by Le Nôtre (Designer of the Gardens of Versailles). Near the palace, the Saint-Benoît tower, Romanesque architecture, is the only vestige of the old Benedictine Abbey. The city has a few mansions from the 16C and 17C, including the Renaissance Hotel de Nayrac.

Let me tell briefly ,some things to see here in quaint historical Castres!

Cathedral St. Benoit (St Benedict) This Cathedral is the largest of Castres. It was built on the site of the abbey, founded in the 9C by the Benedictines, whose remains are the only vestiges of Romanesque architecture which preserved on its faces Lombard strips of the same type as in Saint-Salvi of Albi ; it was consecrated in 1718.

Saint-Jean-Saint-Louis Church of the Albin ; this Church was built in the late 19C. This religious building is located on the edge of the historic city center of Castres. In 1867, the construction began of the Church of Saint-Jean-Saint-Louis, inaugurated in 1873.

Church of St. James of Villegoudou is the center of a passage of the pilgrims heading towards Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It owes its name to the hospital that greeted the pilgrims of Compostela, before the entrance of the city, left bank. The Ogive Church of St. James was built at the end of the 14C. Destroyed in 1567, today only the steeple, a square and massive tower of the south in Gothic style, remains. It is destroyed again in 1574, raised again in 1603; it will become a quarry for the ramparts of the city that welcome the Duke of Rohan in 1621. The spire was added in 1754 and in 1843 was acquired the ground which allows access by the boulevard exterior.

Church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Plate ; it is mentioned first in a text of the late 9C. It will be demolished and rebuilt several times before taking its present form. The Church of today which dates from 1755, is the 5th built on the site of the chapel of the 9C, Destroyed by the Calvinists to strengthen the walls of its stones. The facade of this Baroque church consists of two floors (one Doric, the other ionic) crowned with a triangular pediment. The altar is topped by an altarpiece comprising a statue of Saint Michael . In 1756, the Tuscan sculptors churned out the bas-relief of the Assumption of the Virgin, in Carrara marble, as well as the baptism of Christ from the baptismal fonts. The organ is added in 1764. The bell tower is built in 1771. The set of painted decorations dates back to the second half of the 19C.

Castres has the rare privilege of owning a carillon that has never stopped singing since its installation in 1847. It is part of the Church of Our Lady of the Plate. From this period only the biggest bell, Louise, is from the former Protestant temple destroyed in 1685. The bell tower of the church Notre-Dame de la Plate also has one of the most important and oldest carillons of the midi of France. It has 33 bells (almost three chromatic octaves), the biggest weighing 600 kg and dating back to 1650. It was installed in 1847 and restored in 1976, you can hear it and visit it every first Sunday of the month and the days of great religious feasts (Christmas, Easter…), from 11h to noon.

Some of the nice mansions here are the Hotel Jean dit de Nayrac , Hotel de Viviès , Hotel de Poncet, Hotel Jean Leroy , and see the wonderful houses on the Agout river; these houses were from the Middle Ages were the main place of activity for the artisan of different trades such as Tanners, dyers, parcheminiers, paper and weavers. There is a castle was built in the 19C and belongs to a Castraise family ,it dominates the heights of Castres.

Some interesting streets are the Place Jean-Jaurè former Place Royale under the monarchy of July (1830-1848) , then Imperial square under the Second Empire (1852-1870), and National square under the Third Republic (1871-1920). After the assassination of Jean Jaurès in 1914 in Paris, the place was renamed Place Jean-Jaurès in 1920. Place Soult is another nice one . Nearby is the Mail garden, the bus station and the police hotel. Every December, the market takes place in the place Soult because the Christmas market occupies the square Jean-Jaurès. The place of 8-Mai-1945 is located behind St. Benoit’s Cathedral and the Bishopric of Castres. It is surrounded by old half-timbered houses and arcades extending the episcopal palace .The unit of the 8th Naval Infantry Parachute Regiment (8th RPIMa) is garrisoned in Castres since 1962, neighborhood of Fayolle, Avenue Lieutenant-Jacques-Desplats.

Castres opened in 1840 the Goya Museum, containing the largest collection of Spanish paintings in France, after the Louvre museum. The Goya Museum is located in a part of the former bishopric of Castres, whose plans were designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, one of the architects of Versailles. More of it here: City of Castres on the Goya Museum:  http://www.ville-castres.fr/fr/musee-goya-presentation

Castres

Inaugurated on April 17, 1904, this Italian rococo-style Municipal theater was built on plans by Joseph Galinier, architect of Toulouse and pupil of Charles Garnier. The interior layout reproduces the comic opera of Paris and the exterior architectural style presents an original blend of borrowing from past centuries and references to the decorative language of its time. The painting that adorns the foyer and the dome overlooking the Hall are signed by Jean-Paul Laurens, decorator of the Paris City Hall, the Pantheon and the Capitole de Toulouse. The painting, representing the performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, is entitled “Music” and is dated 1902. In the dome, a sham depicting a torn velum shows scenes of the classic tragedy: Oedipus and his daughter Antigone, Hamlet and the gravediggers, the dream of Athalie and Prometheus chained to the rock.

The wonderful jardin de l’évéche or Garden of the bishop ; this garden “à la Francaise” was designed by André Le Nôtre in the pure tradition of the French classicism of the 17C. A real showcase of the city, it is a must for any visitor.

The jardin du Mail or Garden of the Mail is arranged in a triangle, bordered by the bus station and the place of the obelisk. It replaces, in 1893, the carpet of the game of Mail. The Mail is the ancestor of croquet and golf.fyi

In 1715,the hotel Frascaty was built. After 1760, the hotel Beaudecourt is erected nearby. The moats of the fortifications are filled and, on their site, we trace the current boulevard of the Lices. In a triangle formed by the front of the hotel Frascaty, the line of the garden of the hotel Beaudecourt and the portion of the boulevard between the Tolosane and the new gate, a grove of about 100 abalone is planted. This place is first named the Porte de l’Abalone . In 1865, a public garden project is intended to replace it. Various tree species are planted, the water room is built and the garden is surrounded by a grid, which is now extinct. This square takes the name of Frascaty, because it is inspired by the gardens of this city located in the vicinity of Rome. It is at Place de Frascaty.

Like that of Albert Kahn in Boulogne-Billancourt (near Paris). The Briguiboul Park was organized around a majestic three-Cedar Grove located in front of the staircase. The Cedars date from the Napoleonic campaigns.

Domaine and Parc de Gourjadela of the family Barbara de Labelotterie de Boisséson, this 53 hectares park is located on a site occupied since the Neolithic period. The estate, having been exploited for agriculture and livestock farming, comprises a large-scale manor house dating back to the 19C and agricultural buildings. The buildings of the Metairie and the mill date from the 18C. A chapel, a wash-house, a mills stone cave, a fountain and a basin adorn the surrounding park. The manor house is characteristic of the 19C rural bourgeois architecture.

The Miredames is a wooden boat built in 1990 on the model of the Old River stagecoaches that travelled the rivers and canals until the end of the 19C. Its length is 14.35 meters and its width 4.36 meters for a draught of only 39 cm and a weight of 6.8 tons which allows it to sail on the Agout river. It can board up to 60 passengers. It is a nice ride with time we did not had.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this quaint nice city of Castres are

The tourists office of dept Tarn (81) :  https://www.tourisme-tarn.com/a-voir-a-faire/les-incontournables/castres-montagne-noire

City of Castres on tourist heritage:  http://www.ville-castres.fr/fr/patrimoine

Tourist office of Castres:  http://www.tourisme-castres.fr/index.php?lang=en

There you go enjoy it, it is worth the detour. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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June 22, 2018

The Real Jardines Botanico de Madrid!

My continuing saga to show the beauty of my beloved Madrid continuos. This is something you come as a child and sticks with you. My dear late mom Rosa Gladys brought me here first, and then my dear late wife Martine, and then with my boys and then again. It is very nice, educational and family fun for all.

I am talking about the Real Jardin Botanico of Madrid or the Royal Botanic garden of Madrid. A treasure chest of history and fun knowledge right in the famous triangle of museums of Madrid. I have posts that talks about it , but this is the first time alone and well worth it.

The current site of the botanical garden or the Real Jardin Botanico is not accidental and responds to the interest of the enlightened monarch, Carlos III, to create a complex dedicated to the natural sciences in Madrid. That is why it was located next to what today is the Prado Museum, which at the end of the 18C was the Museum of Natural Sciences. The scientific spirit is currently preserved as the space is managed by the Higher Council for Scientific Research, which organizes a multitude of activities of an informative nature, such as conferences and exhibitions. Its collections include a herbarium with more than a million spreads, the library and archive, with about 10,000 drawings, as well as the sample of 5,000 species of living plants. Located officially at Plaza de Murillo, 2,and best going there on Metro Atocha line 1, Atocha Renfe train station metro stop and line 2 Banco de Espana.

Madrid

Madrid

Founded by Royal Order of 17 October 1755 by King Fernando VI in the spot of Soto de Migas Calientes, near the Manzanares River, king Carlos III ordered the transfer to his current situation in 1781,at Paseo del Prado, next to the Museum of Natural Sciences that was being built (current Prado Museum). King Felipe II created the botanical garden at the behest of the Doctor Andrés Laguna, next to the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. Later, king Fernando VI installed in 1755 by the orchard of Migas Calientes (currently Iron gate=Puerta del Hierro, on the banks of the Manzanares river) creating the Royal Botanical Garden. The continuous extension of the garden led king Carlos III to give instructions in 1774 to move it to its current location in the Paseo del Prado , within the program of management of the Prado and Atocha construction.

That between 1774 and 1781 year of the inauguration with a distribution in three levels, and part of the enclosure, which highlights the Royal gate (Paseo del Prado). On this basis, between 1785 and 1789 a second and definitive project was carried out, more rational and according to the scientific and educational function that the garden should have. It occupied an area of 10 hectares distributed in three terraced levels that adapted to the orography of the terrain, arranged in the form of Square barracks, following an octagonal layout and topped in the corners with circular fountains. The two lower ones (Terreza de los Cuadros and Terreza de las Escuelas Botanicas) remain today as they were built, while the superior one ( Terraza del Plano de la Flor) was remodeled in the 19C with landscaped features. The enclosure was closed by an elegant iron gate, seated on granite stone and had two access doors: the aforementioned Real Puerta de Sabatini, Classic style with doric columns and pediment, and another secondary, In front of the Prado Museum, which currently accesses the enclosure (current Plaza de Murillo).

The garden became the recipient of the recipient of the scientific expeditions that sponsored the Crown in this period. Between the 18C and 19C it participated in the development of at least five scientific expeditions, including the Royal Botanical Expedition of the New Kingdom of Granada (current Colombia), the botanical expedition to the Viceroyalty of Peru, the Royal Botanical Expedition to New Spain (present-day Mexico), the expedition around the world, and the Scientific commission of the Pacific (Philippines). It contains approximately 5,000 different species of trees and plants around the world.

In 1857, important reforms were carried out that still persist, such as the cold stove that bears its name and the renovation of the upper terrace. Also at that time a zoo was installed, which twelve years later moved to the Retiro park (where it would be known as a zoo Casa de Fieras) in 1893, opens the calle de los libreros (street of booksellers and popularly known as Cuesta de Claudio Moyano) and cutting one end of the main body of the garden, so its surface is reduced to the current eight hectares.

The before mentioned terraces are:

Terraza de los Cuadros (or portraits) is the terrace located below and the most spacious of all. It includes the collections of ornamental plants, medicinal, antique rose, aromatic and orchard and fruit trees, within the geometric tables formed with hedges of boxwood that surround small sources (fontanels) in the central axis of the tables. At the end of the central promenade of this first terrace you will find the coral rock spot.

Terraza de las Escuelas Botanicas ( botanical schools) ;this second terrace is a little smaller than the previous one. This terrace shows the taxonomic collection of plants. Ordered phylogenetically by families, around twelve sources are located. You can take a tour of the plant kingdom from the most primitive plants to the most evolved.

Terraza del Plano de la Flor (map of the flower) this is the highest terrace and a little more reduced, with a romantic style. It is divided into twenty-five figures or bedding curvilinear, limited by hedges of Durillo, four roundabouts and a central roundabout with a pond and a bust of Carlos Linnaeus. On the north flank of this terrace are the greenhouse Graells, a structure of the 19C, where we find tropical plants, aquatic and bryophytes. Next to the former is the largest and most modern greenhouse, the Exhibicion or exhibition, which is divided into three environments with different requirements of temperature and humidity (tropical, temperate and desert).

Terraza Alta o de los Laureles (High Terrace or laurels) , this terrace added as an extension of the garden in 2005, is of much smaller dimensions than the previous ones and is behind the Villanueva pavilion. Destined to host special collections, here is the Bonsai collection donated by the Spanish former President Felipe González.

You find as well the most important herbarium in Spain, bringing together nearly a million spreads, some from the 18C. It is composed of: the Fanerogamia Herbarium, the Cryptogamia herbarium and the historical collections. The latter gather the plants collected in the scientific expeditions carried out during the 18C and 19C.

The Library of the Royal Botanical Garden was formed at the same time as the garden grew. In 1781 it had some 151 works of which 83 were of botany, 19 of Natural history and 49 of Chemistry. Currently at last count, the library consists of some 30 000 books of everything related to botany, 2075 titles of periodic publications, some 26 000 leaflets or separate chucks , 3000 titles in microfiche, 2500 maps. It has facilities and equipment suitable for Internet consultation, reading and reproduction, on paper, microfiche and microfilm, photocopying of books and magazines and scanning zenith.

The Germplasm Bank since its foundation, the Botanical Garden maintains a seed exchange with other institutions around the world. The relationship of the seeds that can be exchanged is published annually in a publication called Index Seminum, which is distributed to more than 500 gardens and research centers. From 1987, with the construction of a refrigeration chamber where they can be stored at low temperature, dried and hermetically sealed, the conditions of conservation of the seeds were improved. This improvement allowed to extend the viability period of the seeds, so it was decided to carry out collection campaigns throughout the state.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourism Madrid on the Real Jardin Botanico

Official webpage Real Jardin Botanico

Consejo Superior of Scientific Investigation site

Digital Library of Real Jardin Botanico

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

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June 22, 2018

Jardines Sabatini and a Moro, wonderful Madrid!

Going back to my beloved Madrid again. Many places of youth still revisited every year. Now let me tell you about a wonderful garden not far from the Royal Palace.

The Jardines Sabatini are a great place to be not only for the location but also, the silhouette of the slopes in it giving you a wonderful view of the Royal Palace and Madrid afar.

A bit on it. The Sabatini Gardens in the classicist style were created in 1933 in the spot that occupied the stables built by Sabatini for the Royal Palace (Palacio Real) , hence the name. Located in front of the Royal Palace’s northern façade, the gardens were completed in 1978. It was king Juan Carlos I who opened the park to the public. Located officially at Calle Bailén, 2 , and the best way other than walking to it is by metro Opera lines 2,5 and Radial and Sol lines 1 ,2 and 3.

Today, a large, round fountain with tritons is at the intersection of the two major axes that are surrounded on all sides by quadrants and conifers, with trees arranged along the perimeter. The quiet secluded atmosphere of the Jardines Sabatini is in part due to the lowered elevation of the gardens, the gardens are approximately 10 meters (about 33 feet) lower than the main Plaza de Oriente. The gardens are connected to Plaza Oriente by a grand stone staircase, an appropriate entrance to the royal gardens .The Jardines Sabatini are named after the Italian architect Francesco Sabatini who during the 18C designed much of the Palacio Real (Royal Palace), this included royal stables which were demolished to create the gardens named after him.

Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid

Another gem nearby and less visited is the Campo del Moro, and also can’t find photos!. The least known and least visited, perhaps because its entrance is on the farthest part of the palace, a bit far from the tourist itinerary. The adjacent gardens of the Campo del Moro lies behind the palace. You will find beautiful shady paths, fountains and peacocks strolling. It is both romantic style with some English garden features. As for its name, the Campo del Moro (the Land of the moor), it comes from the fact that it was the place where the Moorish army camped before their unsuccessful attempt, at the beginning of the 12C to take over the Alcazar (castle). King Felipe IV was the first to develop this space but the Campo del Moro began to take its form as it is known today that in the 1890’s under regent queen Doña María Cristina of Habsburg.

Some webpages to help plan your trip are

Jardines Sabatini

Campo del Moro

I have several entries on them in blog but always link with something else or in my Some News from Spain entries. I believe this is the first time write on them apart, and well worth it. You will be please to visit them

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

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June 21, 2018

Parque del Oeste and more of Madrid!

And now back to the parks; my lovely park another memory that cannot resist visit every year, lucky now that I can do that. My beloved Madrid and my wonderful Parque del Oeste.

So many things here to do other than basic stuff you can do in a park. There monuments such as the magnificent Temple of Debod ,and the cable car to Casa de Campo, just fantastic. This is another park you should visit wholly while in Madrid. I have several posts on different parts of the park like the temple of Debod ,all can be found in search front of my blog.

Parque del Oeste or Park of west has 8 hectares, located in the area of Princesa, where the temple of Debod shine in all its splendor. It was installed on the remains of the barracks of the mountain (Cuartel de la Montana) according to the same solar orientation that had in its place of origin. The garden enjoys magnificent views of the country house, the park, and the Sierra. It is officially at Calle Ferraz, 1 and the best to get there by metro Plaza de Espana line 2,3 and 10, Principe Pio lines 6,10,and Radial, as well as Moncloa lines 3 and 6, and Ventura Rodríguez on line 3. It is specifically located between the Carretera de Coruna or expressway , Ciudad Universitaria (university city) and the district of Moncloa, between the avenue of the Arco de la Victoria and the Paseo de Pintor Rosales, to the east; linea del ferrocarril or railroad line, west and Avenida de Seneca, north. They cross it inside, the Paseo de Roberto Chapi, Paseo de Camoens and Calle Francisco and Calle Jacinto Alcántara.

Inside there is an artificial estuary of about 600 meters in length. A cedar tree call “El Abuelo ” or grandfather (Cedrus Atlantica), catalogued as a singular tree, two specimens of Sophora “Pendulum “, a majestic Ginko, the Choperas of Populus nigra and the plantations on the edge of the estuary of Corylus, Cornus, etc. At the end of the Paseo de Platanos (bananas), which runs along this area, you can contemplate various species of birds in the center of AviFauna, such as different birds etc., providing information panels.

Before the 20C, the land currently occupied by the park was the city’s main garbage dump . The work began in 1893 and the first phase was inaugurated in 1905. This phase comprised an approximate area of 87 hectares between the current streets of Moret, and Seneca,and Paseo de Camoens, today Paseo de Camos. In 1906 continued the works of the second phase, reaching the mountain barracks (present location of the Temple of Debod). It was spread parallel to the Paseo del Pintor Rosales, on old dumps. During the Civil War the Parque del Oeste became battlefield of the Battle of the University city, opening trenches and building bunkers that still today can be seen in its far north. Once the war was over, Cecilio Rodríguez, responsible for the municipal parks, took care of his reconstruction, which lasted until the end of the 1940s. During the years 1956 and 1973 it was extended, occupying the grounds of the Cuartel de la Montana, building the Rosaleda and the Parque de la Montana , placing it at the current Temple of Debod.

Madrid

Madrid

You have several monuments ,statues, busts in the park such as .
Monumento al Maestro or the master, Bust of Jaime I, bust of Paul Harris,. Monument to José de San Martín in the north end of the park. Monument to the Infanta Isabel . Statue of General José Gervasio de Artigas (Argentina). A statue of a Nymphe , statue to the poet Miguel Hernández, the statue of the Blessed Virgin, the equestrian sculpture of Simón Bolívar, the monument to the fallen of the Cuartel de la Montana.

The Téléferico or cable car connects from 1967 the Parque del Oeste with that of Casa del Campo. The three gun bunkers of the Republican side that are retained of the twenty that were installed during the Spanish Civil War. Its magnificent Rosaleda with more than 15,000 m2 and 20,000 roses from all corners of the planet. The Fountain of Juan de Villanueva, the Temple of Debod, a gift from the Egyptian people to Madrid for having helped them avoid the floods that would have caused the Aswan dam. It is from the 2C BC and is dedicated to the Egyptian gods Isis and Amon; A lookout or viewpoint next to the Temple of Debod have a splendid views and the light in this place is amazing.

Madrid Madrid

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are
City of Madrid on Parque del Oeste

Tourist office of Madrid on Parque del Oeste

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

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June 21, 2018

The Retiro park, my Retiro, my Madrid!!

Ok so on a semi cloudy  Thursday waiting for the World Cup football/soccer games, I have become nostalgic again. And that means coming back to my beloved Madrid. I lost count of the entries on Madrid or Spain in my blog, but they should be plenty just do search. Madrid is special because not only is my Spain ,but lived there in beautiful moments of my life.

I had to come back to the Retiro park, yes it was practically my backyard, not far from my house a couple metro stops and many times running,chasing,and eating playing you name it in it. The park of my first loves, my youth, my adolescent my early days of free life in my beloved dear Madrid. Even here, my journey with what later become my wife started, my dear late wife Martine (our first trip out of France with her I had to take her to Madrid and the Retiro was grand )still loved to come here each year with me and then with the boys. I can say my life can be resume with one word Retiro. This is Madrid at its best, yes I know ,there are many wonderful monuments and great museums people go to, but for me this is it. If can only have time for one thing would be to come to the Retiro park.

What’s in the name, well , it is known as the Parque del Retiro or Parque del Buen Retiro,and popularly call simply El Retiro. In its historique life ,it was also known as the Parque de Madrid, as you can still see written in some gates or Puertas coming to the park. . This was used when it was made part of the municipality of Madrid in the last third of the 19C. It is, also,known as the Jardines del Retiro or Jardines del Buen Retiro, even if this name has a restriction covering only the area created in the end of the 20C where today you have the Palacio de Cibeles on lands that belonged to the Royal Palace.

Anyway I have written several posts on it and would like to remind my readers about them here

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2010/12/18/parque-del-buen-retiro-or-retiro-park/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2016/05/30/a-new-look-at-my-best-souvenir-of-madrid-retiro-park/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2017/05/01/one-more-time-retiro-park-madrid/

And, will give you a run down for things to see and do in it. Of course, not exhaustive, heck you can get almost anything there now…  Let me briefly tells you about some of the wonders inside the Parque del Retiro.

The gates or Puertas:

Puerta de Felipe IV (or Mariana de Neoburgo) is the oldest gate today in Madrid done in 1680.

Puerta de la Independencia, done in 1817 as entry gate to the Casino de la Reina located in the Ronda de Toledo. In 1885 it was transferred to the Retiro park by the Cibeles fountain and square.

Puerta de España done in 1893 located at Calle Alfonso XII connecting to the Calle Antonio Maura and the big lake or Estanque Grande by the Paseo de la Argentina (before name paseo de las Estatuas or statues)

Puerta de Madrid at the corner of Calle de Alcalà and Calle O’Donnell, it is open to the Paseo de Fernán Núñez (or Paseo de Coches/ carriages),the longest in the Retiro (the Promenade).

Puerta de Hernani, first built in 1888 in metal, replaced in 1943 for a bigger one, located in the Calle de Alcalà in front is my family Church Iglesia de San Manuel y San Benito.

The monument/buildings:

The Ermita de San Pelayo y San Isidoro, built in the 11C outside the gates of Avila and brought to the Retiro park in 1896; now only the abside and a lateral door remains.

Real Observatorio Astronomico, built in 1790 on the height of the hill or cerro de San Blas in the Retiro that today are next to the Prado museum and the Royal Botanical Gardens part of the idea to give Madrid a district of Natural Sciences!

Palacio de Velàzquez while holding events in the Retiro park one of them was done here built between 1881-1883 for the national exposition of mining, metarulogical, ceramics, glass and mineral waters.

Palacio de Cristal (Crystal palace) an architecture of glass and metal to house different species of vegetables coming from the Philippines due to the exposition of 1887 on the country. As well as the Palacio de Velazquez ,the Palacio de Cristal is used for exposition center of the Reina Sofia Museum.

And it has many fountains , such as:

They  have from the 18C, two fountains in the parterre garden that are twin representations . there is also , the Fuente de la Alcachofa built in 1871. From the 19C , we have the Fuente Egipcia located next to the big lake or Estanque Grande as well as smaller fountains such as the Fuente de la Salud y Fuente de la Gruta decorated with corals simulating caves, and the Fuente de los Galapagos with a pedestal like a palm with children figures mount on dolphins on the base; this one was first set up at the street Red de San Luis in the Gran Via in 1831. In 1879 it was transferred to the Retiro park at the Plaza de Nicaragua, near the big lake. The popular Fuente del Angel Caido built in 1885 and some said the only fountain of a devil in Spain . From the 20C we have the Fuente de Cuba done in 1929 as a monument to the nation of Cuba as well as the Fuente de la Gaviota 1962 located in the gardens or Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez (inside Retiro park of course) surrounded by a sculpture group.

Madrid

There are walks, trails, promenades inside Retiro park , my favorites are:

The Parterre of course. One of the first gardens on the French style done in Spain; work began in 1716 and finished in 1722.

Paseo de la Argentina (or de las Estatuas (Statues) ) there are parallel to the Parterre. Takes its name because of the statues on its sides belonging to a series of Spanish kings created by the middle of the 18C to decorate the corners and niches of the Royal Palace on orders of king Carlos III ,however,he later figure they were too much and removed them. After several decades in storage, by 1843, they were rescue and put in several spots around Madrid and elsewhere in Spain. In Madrid, you can see them at the Plaza de Oriente and the gardens of Sabatini or Jardines de Sabatini, both near the Royal Palace.

Jardín madrileño. Came from reforms pushed by queen Isabel II from 1841 and this garden is located to the south of the Parterre.

Paseo de Fernán Núñez (or de Coches (carriages)).Done in 1874 and vehicules were still permitted on it until 1981. It is a big promenade all along the park.

La Rosaleda, done in 1915 by famous Spanish gardener Cecilio Rodriguez (1865-1953) similar to the one at the jardin de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris from which the gardener brought 12000 roses of more than 350 species, and created a greenhouse of steel and glass very near the Paseo de Fernàn Nûnez. Upon the Spanish Civil war it was badly damaged and was rebuilt it in 1941.

Jardines del Arquitecto Herrero Palacios (former Casa de Fieras or zoo) ; this was the old zoo of Casa de Fieras created in 1774 by king Carlos III in the street Cuesta de Moyano (where today you have a book stalls fairs each year) In 1830 it was transferred to the Retiro park upon instructions of king Fernando VII. Eventually, transferred to the Casa de Campo in 1972 (where the zoo still is) the place was name after the architect that was the gardener at the time. The place is very nice and it is preserved many parts of the simple old zoo like the pavilions, cages, and sculptures from the original zoo. Some were decorated and the pavilion called La Leonera o( the lioness from the first third of the 19C now it is a library on site!

Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez, the pioneer gardener of Retiro park who built one of his original gardens here as an extention of the Casa de Fieras (old zoo) done in 1918. When the Spanish Civil War destroyed it and the same gardener rebuilt it in 1941. On the rebuilding he change the decoration and laidout of the garden with a rectangular floor flank on three sides by pavilions that are now used for official events. IT houses several elements of gardening, fountains, pergolas, basins, ornamental columns, chess floors and sculptures groups from Hispanic Arabesque look.

Bosque del Recuerdo ( rememberance forest) was done in 2004 at the Plaza del Emperador Carlos V in honor of the victims of the terrorist act of March 11, by 2005 was place at the southwest side of Retiro park very near the Atocha train station. It is an artificial mountain surrounded by a basin on which are planted 170 cypress trees, 22 olive trees in honor of the 192 fallen on the terrorist act.

Madrid

The Retiro park also has as we call it Caprichos or whims usually of a king or queen. Two of them ,I have already discussed it above such as the Fuente Egipcia (Egyptian style fountain) and Casa de Fieras (the zoo). Those now still there are

Casita del Pescador. Fisherman’s house is a small house of square shape and two levels with roof in zinc and water spouts.

Montaña Artificial. Also known as the Montaña Rusa de los Gatos (rollercoaster mountain of the cats) because of cat sculptures on it. It is a hill on steps with lots of vegetation and corals on which you see several cascades that falls into a basin . There is a trail on the sides crossing several bridges with towers like a fortress in miniature and inside there is a funerary space from which you can come by three doors .However, check because it was closed for deterioration and do not know if re open

Casa de Vacas. Or house of cows here it used to milked cows and provide milk. Right now it has been rebuilt due to the storm of 1886 and the fire of 1982, Today it is a cultural center of the city of Madrid.

Casa del Contrabandista. The contraband house, as the previous one it has been rebuilt due to its use as a hostal lodging during the 20C and 21C. It was designed as a water wheel that is why circular and covered like a dome. At the roots of it had a collection of automates with Andalucian motifs such as a priest, and a bandid contraband that is why the name of the house.

Castillete medieval. A small medieval castle originally called the Torre del Retiro or the tower of Retiro with a middle ages aspect with four angle towers, three levels and a flat cover. At the end of the 20C was given to the Meteorological service currently it is without use and in bad shape.

Some of the lakes or estanques in the Retiro park you can see today are

Estanque Ochavado (or de las Campanillas (small bells)) The date of construction is not known but it has to be before the big lake or Estanque Grande. It is done with eight sides and a small isle in the center with a coral decoration today

Estanque Grande or big lake, was ordered built in 1634 done to extract water for the Royal Palace and use for fishing and boating as well as theatrical shows . In 1817 it was built a pavillon with oriental designs and later destroyed tobuilt what you see today the Monument to Alfonso XII. In 1917,it was done a new one located on the north side that caught fire and again was rebuilt in 1926 as the one that has reach our days. Just a must ,gorgeous spot many memories crying just to write on it.

Madrid

Ría de Patinar. An skating stream done in 1876 to replace a previous one that is now at the Rosaleda. It was chosen an area shady to keep the water colder frozen even so that the ice skating could be done, it has an oval shape around a garden isle.

Estanque del Palacio de Cristal ; small lake right in front of the palace built in 1887. Done in a rocky cave and a nice water basin.

Rias del Estanque Grande y Ria de La Chopera; on each side of the monument to Alfonso XII the two merge.160 for the Estanque and 200 for Chopera meters long , not known when they were created but probably end of the 19C, shown in maps until 1900. The Ria de La Chopera is from the same time and has 200 meters running.

Estanque Rustico, the gardener Cecilio Rodriguez did this one to provide water to his gardens from 1918 , the lake has a bridge and a masonry factory with brick lines.

There are the statues still left in the Retiro park from the times of king Carlos III, these are kings done in the 18C along the Paseo de la Argentina or de las Estatuas along the paseo from west to east are Fernando IV of Leon and Castilla, Sancho IV of Leon and Castilla, Enrique II of Castilla, Garcia I de Leon, Urraca of Leon and Castilla, Berenguela of Castilla, an empty pedestal follows then, Gundemaro, Visigoth king, Carlos I of Spain, Carlos II of Spain, Ramon Berenguer IV count of Barcelona and prince of Aragon, Chintila, Visigoth king , Alfonso I of Aragon, and Sancho IV el Bravo of Castilla.

There are ornamental monuments such as these:

Monumento General Martinez Campos, done in 1907 at the Plaza de Guatemala behind the monument to Alfonso XII, is an equestrian statue in bronze. He was sent to Cuba to try to pacified the independence rebellion in vain

Monument Benito Pérez Galdos done in a square of the same name next to the Paseo de Fernàn Nùnez. It is made of white stone of Lérida, and with 2,10 meters high ,1,3 meters wide and 2,2 meters deep opened in 1919 with the presence of the actor himself invalid and blind.

Monument Alfonso XII, it was called a national contest to built it upon the request of the regent queen Maria Cristina, the winner finally did it inspired on the monument of William I of Berlin, built this one in 1922 . It is at the west side of the lake or Estanque Grande and has 30 meters high, 86 meters long, and 58 meters wide. Around the king you have statues of representation of peace, progress and liberty . Around the hemicycle you have other statues representing The army and marine, the sciences, agriculture, Arts, industry, and two lions.

Madrid

Monument Santiago Ramon y Cajal, in the Paseo de Venezuela done in granite stone and bronze. In the center of a basin with Etruscan figures and fountains representing the life and death, done in 1926.

Monument Jacinto Benavente, is in the parterre garden forming an axis with the Puerta de Felipe IV and Cason del Buen Retiro (now part of the Prado museum) . It has a female figure of Greek inspiration with arms rise showing a mask referring to the theatre one of the genre of Jacinto Benavente, it was done by popular donations and finished in 1962.

There is extensive flora and fauna here as well as great sports installations.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip in addition to my blog posts above are

tourist office of Madrid on Retiro park: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/parque-del-retiro

City of Madrid on Retiro (sorry long link):  http://www.madrid.es/portales/munimadrid/es/Inicio/El-Ayuntamiento/Parques-y-jardines/Patrimonio-Verde/Parques-en-Madrid/Jardines-de-El-Buen-Retiro/?vgnextfmt=default&vgnextoid=499561945d9ec210VgnVCM2000000c205a0aRCRD&vgnextchannel=38bb1914e7d4e210VgnVCM1000000b205a0aRCRD

The Comunidad de Madrid region tourist office on Retiro: http://turismomadrid.es/es/descubre/madrid/de-inter%C3%A9s/5111-parque-del-retiro.html

Hope you get an idea, this is a must, a lingering must in Madrid. Cannot come to the city without visiting day and night. To me ,it is a pilgrimage each time. To Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day:yes, and the Retiro is a big spot looking down!

Remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers!!!

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June 20, 2018

Some news from France CXCII

So here I am in my pretty Morbihan of Brittany, Summer officially starts June 21st here but it is already 28C or about 80F very hot sun ,no rain very hot clear sunny day. I just came back from my monthly escapade to Paris and have many things to tell you.

First, this is the time of terraces in Paris. That wonderful sublime institution of a Parisian summer out on the sidewalk and seeing the world go by. Well , I have some favorites to share with my readers

Baïeta. 5, rue de Pontoise (5éme).  Tél. +33 (0) 1 42 02 59 19. open every day except Sundays and Mondays . Menus: à 29 € (lunch.), 45 et 85 € (dinners). Carte: between 50-75€.

Les Fables de la Fontaine with new chef 131, rue Saint-Dominique, (7éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 44 18 37 55).

Uncino. 31, rue de la Bruyère (9éme). Tél. +33 (0) 9 73 28 31 56. open every day except Saturdays lunch and Sundays/Mondays dinners. Formule: à 25 € (lunch), menu  32 € (lunch.). Carte: about 40€

Hugo & Co. 48, rue Monge (5éme). Tél. +33 (0) 9 53 92 62 77. open every day except Saturdays and Sundays. Carte:between  30 and 45 €.

Sauvage. 55, rue du Cherche-Midi (6éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 45 48 86 79. open every day except Sundays and Mondays . Carte: about  35-50 €.

For the Sunday market with terraces head for the Les Enfants du Marché. 39, rue de Bretagne (3éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 40 24 01 43. open every day except Mondays and Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesday (dinners). Carte: between 35  and 55€.

B.B. 21, rue Blanche (9éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 42 40 12 12. open every day  Carte between 40 and 60 €.

On horse races Thursdays best to head for the Le Petit Pré. Hippodrome de Longchamp. Grille d’Honneur. 2, route des Tribunes (16éme). From Thursdays to Sundays  Carte between  25 and 40€.

IF simply want a glass of wine or beer heads for the le Bal de la Marine  in the Port de Suffren, below the Eiffel Tower on the Seine river (7éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 47 05 66 57.

And if looking for a great roofstop now with plants heads for the top of store Au Printemps at Perruche au Printemps. 2, rue du Havre (9éme). Every day open mid July  Carte: between 30 and 50 €.

In the hotels you have great ones too  ,these two old hangouts still looks good. Anne at the Hôtel Pavillon de la Reine. 28, place des Vosges (3éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 40 29 19 19. open every day Carte: about 80 €.

And the new table lineup at the old Hilton for a while now name Hôtel Le Collectionneur 57, rue de Courcelles, (8éme). Tél. +33 (0)1 58 36 67 97).

Enjoy your summers in Paris!!!

And now even better the music festival all over France, and Paris is big on it. We will have it even on the campus of my company! June 21st is it, Fête de la Musique!!!

A very nice one at the Church Saint-Eustache. From June 20 at 16h to June 21 at 21h . Church located at  2, impasse Saint-Eustache (1éme). Another wonderful in the middle of government, the House of Representatives or Assemblée Nationale , june 21 from 18h30 to 22h30 you will enter by 128, rue de l’Université (7éme). Great places for a great event in Paris.

Great spot in Versailles at Rue de Satory off Avenue de Sceaux. Also at the parvis de Potager du Roi and the parvis de la Cathédrale Saint Louis.

The full program in Paris ,but you can search elsewhere too official webpage :  Culture Ministry Fête de la Musique

And what about those open Summer films events glorious in Paris; these are my favorites

The 14th edition of  Films sous les étoiles  (movies under the stars) have programs for free at the parc de Saint-Cloud from June 22-24  2018. First showing at 22h. More here:  http://www.domaine-saint-cloud.fr/Actualites/Films-sous-les-etoiles5

And the big one from July 19 to August 18 2018. Showings begins at  22h30. At the Parc de la Villette. Prairie du Triangle – 211, av. Jean Jaurès (19éme). Free admission! You can hire a cover and drinks from 19h30 for  7€. Forfait 5  20€. The name is Festival de cinéma en plein air de la Villette 2018. more info here: https://lavillette.com/evenement/cinema-en-plein-air-2018/

And as the World Cup of football/Soccer is now, why not see in big all big around you.  3500 square meters of space on the 8th floor (9 US) in the parking of Paris Expo Porte de Versailles. There will be a specific space of 150 square meters dedicated to watching the games until July 15 in a giant screen all games shown by French TV station TF1. And the suspended garden or  Le Jardin Suspendu is only to open on Thursdays to Sundays but in France advance in the rounds it will exceptionally open for them. There will be space for Grill, and shop Fratelli, as well as bars on site.  Le Jardin Suspendu.  The entrance is facing the  40, rue d’Oradour sur Glane (15éme). Thursdays to Sundays from 16h to midnite , Fridays from 16h to 02h ,Saturdays from 11h to 02h and Sundays from 11h to midnite. Free admission. Directions here: Le Jardin Suspendu

And if not enough , another big is coming to Paris well bigger now. The biggest H&M Swedish chain in France will be open today at 11h   at the angle of rue La Fayette and boulevard Haussmann (9éme). Right by the big department stores area ! It is open Mondays to Saturdays from 9h30 to 20h and Sundays from 11h to 19h.

Usually do not put photos here ,but for lack of a better use, will do here. In my trip to Paris yesterday, I stop by the Seine at Levallois-Perret in Hauts de Seine dept 92 and along rue Anatole France by metro line 3 pont de levallois bécon ,and then had a car ride and went by Dupleix on the line 6 and had me my lunch at Au Dernier Metro on 70 Boulevard de Grenelle. Couple planchas of ewe milk cheese with ham, pate, terrines chorizos salad and bread down with a leffe beer blonde just what Paris is all about. Info on the resto recommended by a Parisian friend who lives just around the corner. Official webpage : http://au-dernier-metro.lafourchette.rest/

and my favorite for comments from folks like us Yelp here: https://www.yelp.com/biz/au-dernier-m%C3%A9tro-paris-2

Paris Paris Paris PAris Paris PAris PAris

Yesterday an incident never seen, even the public workers of several Paris institutions were closed due to a strike. Including the Château de Versailles, and as well as the musée d’Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, Panthéon, château de Vincennes, Basilique de Saint-Denis, and the Notre Dame towers were closed as of mid day 12H, they are planning on reimbursement to those already with tickets. Well I told you its a past time and we are used to it but unfortuantely for a visitor to have this happened. Sorry.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI or Great War, there will be a wonderful air show  with about 90 airplanes flighing non stop for five hours organized by the aéro-club de Meaux-Esbly, Seine-et-Marne 77.  1900 ‘s music live and five bands from the US army representing the USA will be there. The show will see flying machines from WWI and WWII as well as modern planes.  Two Mirages 2 000 coming from Nancy will do a tactical demonstration , while a third one will do an interception of a civil airplane. There will be an expo space of 1 000 m2  presenting dozens of old vehicules like a taxi of the Marne of WWI. You will discover kites Saconney that took observation photos  during the conflict.  The only paying event will be a simulator ride on a fighter jet Rafale, 5 €. Good for the whole family.

And for now it is all from my side of the corner or the ocean in the Morbihan 56.  Have a great week, and remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

June 20, 2018

A look again at Montparnasse, Paris!

There are strikes in France, but hardly anybody notice at least me. This is routine for us here, and the strikes are now even schedule ahead of time and in intervals. I do go to Paris each month on business nowdays from Brittany, so my entry point has change from when I lived in Versailles; there it was glorious to go on the rive droite train station to gare Saint Lazare in Paris.

Nowdays from beautiful Brittany , I go in by Montparnasse for the last few years. I can go out from Auray or Vannes, the latter is better equipped and nicer parking ,free are both on sections on back of Vannes. I will be there tomorrow again, and will take a look at all the construction they are talking about in the Montparnasse district covering several neighborhoods. Glad is only once per month trips!!!

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The Gare Montparnasse is up for a renewal after 25 years is about time. Eventually, the station will be brighter, more open to the city, and equipped with more waiting spaces dedicated to passengers. It will also total 19,000 square meters of shops, restaurants, or other co-working spaces.

The Gare Montparnasse is a beauty. Starting with the repair of its 250 linear meters of exterior facade.  The façade – which also has large windows – is covered with aluminium panels adorning the walls of the railway station.  These frescoes dating from the beginning of the  1970’s  go on their side to be renovated. A glass walkway will also be created in the Hall to provide a walking space.

Inside the station, it is both better to manage the flow of passengers (notably by creating 14 additional escalators, which will bring their number to 39), to enlarge the reception space allocated to the public and to create businesses spaces. The creation of large bays windows allows to open the station on the district (on the side of the Avenue du Maine), while it turned so far back to the city. The traveller arriving from the province will thus have a view of the Montparnasse Tower-also in the process of being renovated, the glass windows also allow to bring in a maximum of light in a building particularly dark and cold. New materials – granite, bamboo…-are also introduced to end the All-concrete scene.

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One of the challenges of this monumental project is to carry out the work while keeping the station active. The first tranche of work (Commandant Mouchotte side) will be completed next November – with the opening of a part of the shops. The second instalment (Vaugirard side) will end in November 2019. The final delivery (center of the station) is programmed at the end of 2020 the space, the first service to be relocated, is currently forming along Pier 24. In parallel, on the Océane front side, a huge tarp conceals the passengers from a double panoramic lift access to the quays. These first developments will be discovered during October in the station.

Two new TGV lines destined for Bordeaux and Rennes, inaugurated in early July, sound the beginnings of this evolution. The renovation of two lounges, including that of the frequent flyer, was completed just in time for this event. The real big construction site has been in installation for several weeks, occupying almost all of the place Raoul Dautry and seriously impacting the passenger routes inside the station, especially the users of the Metro. The work is expected to begin in September and will be done in 3 phases:

Phase 1: Building on the street side of Commandant Mouchotte, until the end 2018

Phase 2: Part of the building at the corner of Boulevard de Vaugirard and place Raoul Dautry, end 2018 to end 2019

Phase 3: Central part, from end 2019 to end 2020.

Panoramic elevators/ lifts will be installed in a SNCF/RATP exchange room, as 70% of the station’s users arrive by Metro. will also be arranged 19 additional escalators, with the introduction of three “sense of departure” against only one today, and four “senses arrive” against two today. Photo credit Le Monde newspaper.

renovation quartier montparnasse

A few steps from the train station, another shopping centre, Gaîté-Montparnasse, undertook, in the summer of 2017, its renovation project underway will include a  E Leclerc hypermarket center, perhaps followed by an Ikea store. Above the train station, opposite the Atlantic Garden, the NOC Bar envisages a refreshment and the premises of the Museum of General Leclerc, which will move, are the subject of a call for projects of the city of Paris.  This is a vast renovation, to last for years in a perimeter which is an important gateway to the Paris . The first phase of the work could be programmed to end in the spring of 2024, then a second start in the fall, after the Olympics in Paris.

The neighborhood of Pasteur-Montparnasse will have renovations too. The Post office museum, which celebrated its 70 years in June 2016, is currently under construction. The institution, located on Boulevard de Vaugirard, will be completely transformed. Only the facade panels, signed by the sculptor Robert Juvin, will be preserved. The reopening has been done already. Current 2019, the Museum of General Leclerc/Musée de la Liberation – Musée Jean Moulin will take a new location. Located at the level of the Atlantic Garden, above the Gare Montparnasse, the establishment is difficult to reach and suffers from a lack of visibility ,a new establishment will be on the Boulevard Pasteur (between n ° 24 and 30) .Adjacent to a Jardin des Simples  proposing the cultivation of aromatic plants and herbal teas by rue du doctor Roux, will complete this project.

Farewell, two-wheeler (motos) stationed permanently on the Boulevard of Vaugirard.  A portion of the central aisle will soon be returned to pedestrians. The boulevards Pasteur and Vaugirard are going to be vegetated in two stages. The first one will be the Boulevard Pasteur with the layout of the small square located at the entrance of the subway Pasteur.  Other novelty, since the night of February 26, 2018, an intelligent night lighting system is been tested by Evesa in the Rue Antoine Bourdelle.

More on the renovation and work sites at the city of Paris in French: City of Paris renovations and works

And the report is the pictures, well there is lots of work going on and some areas are completely covered ,but you can’t hardly notice it, and all is smoothly flowing, that is Montparnasse. You are welcome to Paris.

PAris PAris

Another good day in Paris. It is always good to come back once in a while for personal reasons it took two months to come back, and it was missed the monthly trips. Paris is eternal you know, and once bitten by the virus you will always come back or we will always have Paris , right!

Remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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June 19, 2018

The unique of Madrid Church of Holy Cross!

Oh yes this is known to us as the Iglesia de Santa Cruz at Calle Atocha,6 in my beloved Madrid. There are many famous popular and tourist sites in Madrid, but why keep talking about them….I have been ask many times if there are new things to see in a particular city such as Madrid, well there are plenty you just need time…lots of time, Madrid has plenty.

I can write a blog on Madrid alone too, but the goal is share travel experiences from everywhere, anyway, Madrid will be always home in my beloved Spain. Let me tell you a bit about a nice Church.

As mentioned the Iglesia de la Santa Cruz is at a nice popular zone near the Atocha train station and the Plaza de Atocha or at Calle de Atocha no 6 corner of Calle de Santo Tomàs. You can here by Metro Tirso de Molina line 1 (blue) or Sol line 1 (blue) and line 2 (red) or line 3 (yellow) or at metro Anton Martin, line 1 (blue).

The  Church is found in a lot where the convent of St Thomas of Aquinas of the Dominican order was founded in 1583 by priest Diego de Chaves ,confessor of king Felipe II, and was left empty in 1836. The story goes that by 1626 , it felled under the patron of the count duke of Olivares and in 1635 the first stone was laid for a new Church, that went on fire in 1652  making the convent and the Church disappeared.  It is rebuilt in 1660 and the high altar falls off in 1726 killing the churchgoers , then in 1756 it goes through another fire. Finally in 1876 another fire destroyed the whole building and it was demolished. The current Church was began to be built in 1889 with a facade in the Churriguresco style and the cloister of the baroque school; the construction needed to stop for lack of funds and they took off again in 1899 , finally the Church was completed in 1902. Lots of faith and perseverance indeed.

The current Church has a neo gothic style with brick and white stone of Colmenar, the principal facade has an arc crown by a triangular front with a Cross.  The center of the facade has a relief with the apotheosis of the Cross and on top of the portico a great cupola in which a big clock . It has one nerf with eight lateral chapels.

MAdrid

The most interesting point of the tower is at more than 80 meters high at which top the bells are enclosed in a dome looking like a fortress and in some way continue the tradition of the previous Church towers of 144 feet built in 1660 and known as the Atalaya de la Corte (watchtower of the courts).  The tower was the highest point in the city until the Telefonica building in Gran Via was done in the 1920’s.

In the interior there is a portrait of the Virgen de la Cinta , patron Saint of the city of Huelva . Here is the seat of the fraternity branch of that of Huelva. Since building the Church in 1902, the Archicofradía del Santo Entierro de Madrid ( Catholic association of the holy burial ) , and one of the oldest in the city ,created in 1412. Also, home since the end of the 1950’s to the Cofradía de María Santísima de Araceli de Madrid, branch of the Real Archicofradía de María Santísima de Araceli de Lucena, in Cordoba.

Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid

Parish Church of Santa Cruz webpage : http://www.parroquiadesantacruz.com/Santa_Cruz_web/Bienvenida.html

There is a nice stop and not so far from the more popular places, just a tip of the off the beaten paths of my Madrid. Hope you enjoy it.

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

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June 18, 2018

Remembering Curitiba, Paranà, Brazil!

Over the weekend you have time to think and remember wonderful places you/I/we have been ,and lucky enough to go back to the country, it has been a while without returning to Curitiba, Paranà State of Brazil. I was there back in 2008 ,and even thus go to Brazil now every year, luck has it, not been by Curitiba since. It is time to bring it alive ,these wonderful memories of forever.

Let me tell you about Curitiba where I spent 3 months back in 2008, of great lasting souvenirs, experiences ,and worth it going there for all. The city of Curitiba has a high level of education, the best in Brazil, according to MasterCard Emerging Markets Index in 2008 it rank 49th amongst the cities with a growing world influence. The magazine Forbes in 2009, rank Curitiba as the 3rd most educated/intelligent cities in the world considering  its outlook on the ecology, durable development, quality of life, and performing infrastructure’s as well as a dynamic economy.  The city is an example of urban planning especially with the invention of the above surface metro (sort like a big long bus) . It has been call the City model of Latin America by many experts. The city is divided today into 75 neighborhoods and into 10 administrative districts.

A bit of history I like. The city of Curitiba was founded in 1654 and raised to City status in 1693 under the name of Vila de Nossa Senhora da Luz dos Pinhais or City of Our Lady of Light of Pines. The current name was officially given by an act of Congress in 1721 and come from the Tupi Indian word Coré Etuba, that means many pines making reference to the many pines on the hills surrounding the city. In the 1700s, Curitiba possessed a favorable location between cattle-breeding country and marketplaces, leading to a successful cattle trade and the city’s first major expansion. Beginning in 1870, many immigrants started to arrive due to a government land expansion program to inhabits large tracks of lands in Brazil. The majority of these immigrants came from Germany, Poland, Italy, and also French, Japanese, English, and Swiss.  The Germans came in by 1872, and Polish by 1871, the Italians by 1872 founding the district of Santa Felicidade in 1878 (very good restos here !). You, also, have the Ukrainians coming in by 1895, and the Japanese by 1915 and many from 1924 onwards. The Syrians/Lebanese came in also around this time as well. The first federal University in Brazil was founded here in 1913 as well the year of the electrification of the trolley bus . The city has three language schools teaching English, German,and French (the alliance française) webpage here: Alliance Française Curitiba

The gateway to wild Brazil and the Iguazu Falls, plus Pantanal, Ile da Mielhe, and Morrete, Ruta  Gracioza  , Serra Verde train ride!, marvelous terrain and inland historical Lapa ,in Parana state.  What is there ,well a very nice cosmopolitan city.

My home the apart hotel the Mercure Curitiba Batel webpage here : http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-2127-mercure-curitiba-batel/index.shtml

Batel is a noble/chic neighborhood where you will be in good safe areas, full of everything around you. That is where the Mercure hotel is on, you come in from the airport on avenida vicomte de guarapauva and leave on ave sete de septembro. The corner of this later on you have a grocery store, mercadorama. Walking distace from here you can see the tower font de jerusalem, mercado central, rodoferraria bus and train, praça Japao (Japan Plaza), and the main downtown city center shopping mall like Batel novo shops webpage http://www.shoppingnovobatel.com.br/, and Shopping Crystal at  webpage http://www.shoppingcrystal.com.br/, as well as shopping Curitibahttp://www.shoppingcuritiba.com.br/, and Shopping Estaçao Central with a railroad museum inside!  http://www.espacoestacao.com.br/site/. You have your typical Wal-Mart store at http://www2.walmart.com.br/Site/StoreLocatorResultadoLoja.aspx?IdLoja=64. You have the Carrefour store too, at Pinhais just outside the city was my store, http://www.carrefour.com.br/stores/PR/Pinhais.  And Extra Hipermercado in Av. Mal Humberto A C Branco, 230 – Jardim Social, webpage http://www.extra.com.br/Atendimento/LocalizadorLojas.aspx

Other shopping pleasures are shopping Mueller, by jardim public at http://www.shoppingmueller.com.br/. The biggest just outside by the park Barigui is  Shopping Barigui at http://www.parkshoppingbarigui.com.br/home/ , and yet in city center you have shopping Italia at   http://www.shoppingcenteritalia.com.br/principal.php.  There are various restaurants/bars  in town in addition to those found in the shopping centers above that I like such as Emporio San Francisco with great beers and live music at http://emporiosaofrancisco.com.br/programacao.php?id_dias=5 ; Jokers Pub Cafe in centro, great ambiance at nights webpage http://www.jokerspubcafe.com.br/.

Restaurant Familia Fadanelli (wonderful place ) in neighborhood of Santa Felicidade, great Italian tradition and the farewell restaurant for me last time in the city with many friends, http://www.famigliafadanelli.com.br/?s=introChurrasqueria Batel Grill, the great Brazilian steak houses, cant beat it ,webpage http://batelgrill.com.br/inicio/ . Mustang Sally for the real Mexican in you ,right in Batel, webpage http://www.mustangsally.com.br/ . For an American in Brazil, and great burgers deluxe head for Peggy Sue (now call Sheridans) ,webpage http://www.peggysue.com.br/. For the Cuban mojito and some salsa then head for Guantanamera (this I know has closed) , no web ,but Rua Colonel Dulcidio, 540 in front of shopping Novo Batel. For the real Brazilian taste and home cooking head for Tropilha Grill, webpage here , http://www.chimarraochurrascaria.com.br/home.php?where=curt. For the Spanish in me go to Pata Negra, Rua Fernando Simas,23, in the area of Batel, Praça de Espanha, flamenco music live on Fridays. Spanish and great cooking, like I was at home. no web. If you want to bring home some Brazilian wines with an Italian twist then head for Durigans winery, a real wine store, winery in one; webpage here http://www.vinhosdurigan.com.br/index.php#inicio

And for things to see there are so many in and around the city and not far from it if with a car as I had, my Chevy Prisma lol!

For tourist attractions ,my favorites were/are Bosque Alemao (German black forest), Cathedral (Basílica Menor de Nossa Senhora da Luz de Curitiba) , Centro historico or city historical center walks, Jardim Botanico or botanical gardens where in 2007 in Brazil poll it was declared one of the seven wonders of Brazil! it houses a part of the University  ,Memorial Ucraniano(Ukranian memorial) at Parque Tingui, Opéra de Arame (Wire Opera House) at the Parque da Pedreiras , built in 1992 in a circular design of metal tubes covered with polycarbonate fiber given it a cage feel , Parque Barigui( with an antique automobile museum webpage auto museum in Portuguese) my best park , Parque Tangua (impressive!), Passeio Publico (first park n Curitiba 1886) , Praça do Japao (Japan plaza),Praça Tiradentes (center and birthplace of the city),Torre Panoramica (panoramic tower of 109.5 meters), Santa Felicidade neighborhood (Little North Italy),Castelo do Batel or castle inspired by the French castles owners saw in France, now a cultural center, webpage http://www.castelodobatel.com.br/. The Contemporary Arts museum of Oscar Niemeyer, webpage http://www.museuoscarniemeyer.org.br/. A great historical center of learning the Universidade Federal do Parana, oldest in Brazil. The Municipal Market is not a normal market, there are a lot of organic products, and vegan food. The food court has a lot of Asian food, vegan food and organic too. There you will find everything and more. It is located in downtown, next to the bus station of Curitiba. It is superb, webpage here: Mercado Municipal de Curitiba

Curitiba Curitiba Curitiba Curitiba Curitiba Curitiba

A modern city of our world, public transport is second to none in Brazil, even I tried it lol!

There is a linha Turismo bus service that take you to the 22  principal spots in the city coming out from Centro praça tiradentes from 9h to 17h30 every 30 minutes for 20R reales. Line 208 take you from the airport Alfonso Pena to the city center, schedules at the city govt webpage http://www.urbs.curitiba.pr.gov.br/PORTAL/tabelahorario/tabela.php.  The main bus terminal is at avenida Presidente Afonso Camargo,340 Centro right across from mercado central, praça rua Barosa, the central market of the city. http://www.rodoviariaonline.com.br/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=41:curitiba-pr&Itemid=67&layout=default

The airport for all arrivals and departures is the Afonso Pena international airport, just outside the city at Sao Jose des Pinhas,  as above bus 208 takes you into the city or hire a taxi, services webpage http://www.infraero.gov.br/index.php/br/aeroportos/parana/aeroporto-afonso-pena/facilidades.html.  One of the best ways to see the coastal areas from Curitiba is to take the Serra Verde train, a wonderful ride into time with magnificent views ,webpage http://www.serraverdeexpress.com.br/

Another nice areas to visit from Curitiba other than Foz de Iguaçu are Morretes ( the summer get away of folks in Curitiba), and Lapa (epic battle for the federal union of Brazil), they were weekends escapes for me while there by car.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip are

This is the tourist office for Curitiba webpage http://www.turismo.curitiba.pr.gov.br/

City hall prefecture of Curitiba in Portuguese : http://www.curitiba.pr.gov.br/conteudo/perfil-da-cidade-de-curitiba/174

You need to check for updates but in my time there you had 8 buses daily lasting about 11 hours, and you can choose a conventional or convencional bus or a couch bed bus Leito. The line was Catarinense, their webpage here: Catarinense bus line  The Foz do Iguaçu official : Foz do Iguaçu

To Morretes you can go on the quaint Serra Verde train ride along the mountain and viaducs from Curitiba or by road as I did too. Info on the town from Brazil tourism here: Morretes

The train Serra Verde takes you there on  Sundays but I did it by car here, this is historical Lapa. Serra Verde on Lapa

Morretes

Hope it helps come to see something different in big and beautiful Brazil. And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

 

 

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June 18, 2018

A nice look at Autoworld, Brussels!!!

This is a magical place, if you like automobiles and been around them ,then it is a must. I spent my University days and into fatherhood surrounded by NASCAR in Daytona Beach Florida USA, and became addicted to them. The thrill of speed and just avoid that bear or grey uniform of the South, = police. After years, it became clear that the affection was not just speed but the beauty of the craftmanship ,the men who rode it, and the stories behind building them. Awesome.

I ,in a way, lucky to be in France where they are several nice auto museum like the one in Le Mans (24 hrs just goes today and tomorrow with a new entry in Fernando Alonso of Spain. Toyota won it finally and Fernando was in the winning team!!! more here:  24 Le Mans 2018

However, going on many trips to Belgium , business and personal, and stopping several times in Brussels, never imagine to me that there was an auto museum there. Until 2013; then I saw it fully with the family and it was unbelievable seeing the eyes of my boys and explaining these cars to them, even my dear late wife Martine got on it. It was a memorable trip and one we look forward to repeating soon.

I am talking about the AutoWorld of Brussels. I have written a blog post on it back then, here it is: My previous blog post on the Autoworld museum

Autoworld  is an automobile museum house in the Halle Sud or south hall of the Palais du Cinquantenaire (parc du Cinquantenaire) in glass and steel that was built for the universal exposition of 1897 .

The story goes on this spot,  that from 1880 when Belgium celebrated its 50th anniversary of their independence it was decided to host a National Exhibition. Before, the king Leopold II ordered to have traced the outlines of a huge park on an abandoned military training camp outside the city of Brussels, on the plains of Linthout covering 12 hectares (parc du Cinquantenaire). The building was designed in two sections linked by a semi circular colonnade with an Arc of Triumph built in the extension of the Rue de la Loi.

The museum now has about 400 vehicules from automobile collections retracing the histoy of it from 1886 to 1960 and carriages, motocycles etc. By visiting, you see the history of automobiles from the Belle Epoque to the Great War (WWI), the Crazy years, 1930’s, WWII, 1950’s ,and the Golden years in Europe.. Most of the cars in this museum came from private collections making most of the brands and models in it   including some animal drawn carriages, electric, steam, and gas cars. Some work on pedals and others by turning a crank. The collections are mostly from Gantois Ghislain Mahy, the motos from Marcel Thiry, the pieces from the Royal Art and History Museum in the Salle Pierre d’Ieteren, and the cars of Charlie De Pauw.

Brussels

The first exhibit on the main floor (street level) is divided into two. Start your tour by walking up the center aisle and look to your left side, walk around in an anti-clockwise circle. When you have completed the full circle walk up the center aisle again and work your way clockwise on the right side of the floor. This is a chronological tour of cars from different makes. Some of my favorites photos!

Brussels Brussels Brussels Brussels Brussels Brussels

At the very rear of the first floor( 2nd US) on the right corner is a small room that you may miss but is worth a look. Inside, away from roaring engines and gas guzzlers are horse carriages, including the one used in 1853 for Napoleon III wedding.

The mezzanine floor has an evolutionary timeline of cars from the late 1800s to the 2000s and a blank spot for “the future”. This brief tour will highlight the makes and models most popular in Europe in each decade. A great chance to admire the first models of Ferrari and Jaguars which look nothing like they do today. On the right as you exit is a shop where you can buy some souvenir keychains and postcards,  but most importantly thousands of miniature model cars for every make you can imagine.

There is a great video on youtube I like to show it here:

And some webpages to help you plan your trip here;

The official museum webpage: http://www.autoworld.be/infos-pratiques

Nice webpage with plenty of info on the museum: https://www.introducingbrussels.com/autoworld

The official tourist office of Brussels on the museum: https://www.brusselsmuseums.be/en/museums/autoworld-museum-brussels

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. An awesome place to hold it too, and nice walks afterward from here in pretty Brussels.

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

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