Archive for December, 2010

December 26, 2010

Some news about France III

Well very cold days in France, temperature went down to -17°C in Strasbourg yesterday night, in my area it went down to -6°C with Paris -4°C ;these are very cold indeed this year. Orange alert still on for all those traveling.

However the airports had a calm day getting back for all those cancellations and delays in the last couple of days due to implement weather. The SNCF train is advising folks to go only if needed, the latest delays and cancellations there this morning 5 thalys and 4 Eurostars.

In Paris, the Seine is at its highest level in years….3,69meters the highest since 2006 declaring a level 3 alert for flooding on a scale of 6.  The Zouave is been watch carefully all night by Paris authorities as it tells them when higher alerts are needed in case of flooding. The roads are closed for precautions according to the Le Parisien newspaper, voie Georges Pompidou and the Tuileries tunnel by the Louvre is close to traffic. However, the pleasure boats on the Seine had a huge success as folks wanting to ride a boat in freezing water was unique, does not happened often I guess Lol!!!

I have been lucky as it is Christmas vacation for the whole family and stayed put at home. We usually ride by car but dangerous to do so nowdays, will wait it out until hit the roads with the family again. My last outing was mid december to Luxembourg, then the bad weather came in. Other parts of Europe are been similar hit with Spain having to put alert to as much as 34 provinces, and heavy flooding in Malaga province.

Best way to find out about train delays in France is to look at this site

So be careful, and plan alternatives routes if planning trip at this time of the year. Happy Holidays !!

December 25, 2010

The grand lady Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris

There is another monument that brings the most crowds, but if there is one that identify the soul of Paris,France the most is the Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris. All the major events in history has gone by it or thru it,and one cannot possibly come to Paris without stopping for a visit here. Its a must.

The most you need are the specific sites for information on the Cathedral as the main site Cathédrale de Paris, 6, parvis Notre-Dame, 75004;Tel +33 01 42 34 56 10.the access is free and to visit the treasure of it is only 3€ everday from 7h35 to 18h main webpage– . The treasure by the southside of the choir on a narrow entry built by Viollet le Duc in 1850 houses amongst other things the passion relics,the palatine cross with fragments of the true cross of Christ, the linen shirt of Saint Louis, and the underwear of Pope Pie X .

The tours or towers is visited also. There are just behind on the side entrance at rue du cloîte Notre Dame,75004. Tel +33 01 53 10 07 00. open every day from 10h to 18h30 from april to september 30th.  From october to march until 17h30. Nighttime visits on summer from may to august until 23h. admission is 8€ free for under 18. webpage is

Built on the initiative of its bishop of Paris (1160 to 1196 AD) Maurice de Sully. The principal nave built between 1180-1220 AD is 60 meters long (198 ft) wide of 12,50 meters(41,25 ft) , and high of 33 meters(108,9 ft). The choir built between 1163-1177 AD is 36 meters long(118,8 ft) . The Cathedral continue to add and renovate until the building was completed by 1345 AD.

Some of the items not to be missed are pointed out as exterior and interior but let me give some ideas looking at it from the outside, facing the cathedral at the parvis or central plaza ( where all kilometer distances are measure in France )  you look left to the tower Nord=North,the other opposite tower is the Sud=South; both of these towers with rosary windows of 13,10 meters ( 43.2 ft) beyond these towers you see the pointed arrow=flèche and right across it is the transept. As you come in to the cathedral you are at the portail de la vierge or virgen door looking at it from left to right, you continue with the portail du jugement dernier or final judgement door,the portail de Sainte Anne or Saint Anne door. Right above the doors you have the Galerie des Rois or gallery of kings, above it the Rose Occidentale or western rosary window and still higher you see the Grande Galerie or grand gallery. To your extreme right still looking facing the cathedral you see the Contreforts or holding scaffolds tower like figures and a side door, red door or porte rouge; following past this you are walking on the south side of the Cathedral you will find the Portail Saint Etienne or Saint Stephen door ,and right above it the Rose du croisillon sud (9,70 meters or 32 ft a gift from Saint Louis) . Continuing to the rear you will see the buttress arches acting as a counter to the weight of the main building. and right behind the Cathedral you will find the Chevet or apse.

Some of the famous buildings surrounding the Cathedral often overlook by visitors but of great historical value are going in the direction of south tower side of the Cathedral, the huge Episcopal palace, followed by the Hotel-Dieu (a historical hospital still functioning today and free access and on which you can see the chapel of hotel-dieu) on a side street in front of parvis Notre Dame see the Church of Saint Christophe,  from parvis and guiding you by the north tower you will see the Church of St Pierre-aux-Boeufs (old church of the butchers). Right next to the north tower you see a small building which is the baptistery of St Jean-le-Rond, and on the corner of it is the side street to the tours or towers admission on rue du Cloîte Notre Dame. You should walk right out of the parvis straight out from the door of last judgement into the street Rue Neuve Notre Dame, one of the oldest in Paris.

Now some descriptions on what you see on the Cathedral inside and out.  The parvis allows you to go into the archeological site where you will see a museum of the old foundations of the cathedral and the Seine river ,including a piece of the wall by the port or quai of the old Lutecia, remains of spas of gallo romans times, the wall of the city from the 4C, the basement of the old Hotel-Dieu, and the fondations of the hospital for lost children or hospice des enfants trouves.  The rose occidentale or western rosary measure 10 sq meters or about 170.6 sq ft done between 1190-1220 AD. In the gallery of kings there were 28 figures from the time before Christ, the communards thought they were kings and destroyed them in 1873. They were rebuilt.  The grand gallery has a nice view over the parvis and the Seine river. On the virgen door the deco is from 1208 AD except the virgen mother statue over the serpent that is from the 19C. The red door or porte rouge is from 1250-1270 AD reserve for the monks entrance.

As we come inside, you will see the huge nave built between 1180-1220 AD and the choirs built between 1163-1220 AD . You will find many chapels such as Chapelle Notre Dame des Sept Douleurs,Chapelle Saint Denis,Chapelle Sainte Madeleine, Chapelle Saint Ferdinand, Chapelle Saint Georges, Chapelle  Saint Guillaume, Chapelle Saint Louis, Chapelle Saint Marcel, Chapelle de la Sainte Enfance, Chapelle des Fonds Baptismaux, Chapelle Notre Dame de Gadalupe, Chapelle Saint Charles, Chapelle Sainte Clotilde, Chapelle Saint Landry, Chapelle Saint Vincent de Paul, Chapelle Sainte Anne, Chapelle Sainte Genevieve, Chapelle Saint Eloi, Chapelle Saint Joseph, and Chapelle Saint Pierre. The whole of the Cathedral proper is 4 800 sq meters (51 648 sq ft) , where accordingly about 9000 persons can attend Mass; total surface of 5 500 sq meters.

Some interesting information, the gallery of faces or chiméres are strange birds, serpents, are lookout to see the last judgement, there are not to be confused with the gargoyles which only function is to discharge the rain water coming from the roof towards the exterior.  The arrow pointed high behind the transept is build in oak covered with lead and along weights 750 tons, all with company from statues in copper in groups of three, the 12 apostles look toward the floor except one, that looks at the arrow, that is Saint Vincent patron of the architects! as design by Viollet-le-Duc.

At the foot of the transept south east section you will see a statue of the Virgen with a huge bouquet of flowers; this is the NOTRE DAME DE PARIS ,dating from the 14C and put at the Cathedral in 1818!!!

Some of the events that took place here was the coronation of Napoléon I   on December 2nd, 1804 in the presence of the Pope Pie VII, where Napoléon himself crown his emperatrice Josephine. At the parvis all merchants exempt of taxes are installed,as well as those sentence to die, nearby there the master of the templars order, Jacques de Molay  was executed in 1314 AD.  The funerals of the Prince de Condé ,where bishop Bossuet did the ceremony (he was the personal priest and religious adviser of king Louis XIV and buried at the Cathedral of Meaux, dept 77 as he was its bishop); General De Gaulle, and Presidents Pompidou, and Mitterrand was held its funerals here too.  Saint Louis put his relics here first in 1329 AD,Henry IV held a procession here in 1594 AD  for the liberation of Paris, Louis XIII in 1638 AD does his wishes and vouts to the Virgen, the mass for the marriage of king Louix XIV is celebrated here in 1660 AD, the ceremony for the liberation of Paris in August 1944 as well as the victory of WWII on May 9 1945 is held here. It saw the excommunication of king Philippe Auguste in January of 1200 AD by Pope Innocent III as well as closure of the Cathedral. The coming back to the crown of the Bourbons after the wedding of the Duke of Berry in 1816 AD and the baptism of the duke of Bordeaux in 1820 AD. Many many more in the life and history of the city of PARIS.

And yet another view go to the gallery of beasts or galerie de Chimères and the plateform of the tower south where a huge organ is held ;this made of copper and enamel weighting 13 tons;first use for the baptism of Emmanuel grandson of king Louis XIV in 1682. You need about 400 marches to reach it but all worth it. The organ has 110 beats and 8000 cables combinations and was restored in 1992 AD, some of the cables are 11 meters high (36.3 ft) all kinds of music is played here beautifully. The roof is covered with 1326 lead tiles weighting about 210 tons. The bells one call Emmanuel has been recognised as one of the best sounds in Europe, weights 13 tons and the bat to hit it alone wights 500 kilos or about 1,102 pounds.

Hope you have enjoyed the story of this magnificent building for all of us in this magnificent day of Christmas 2010. To come here is to see and hear the history of Paris,France. Its not a complete story but I am sure will give you the force to visit and finds new ways to enjoy it as I have for many years. Cheers!!

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December 21, 2010

Chateau de Versailles

One of the grands of our world, a must to visit when in France.  A bit of history and then some photos. The official webpage will give all information in english too, and any specifics you can ask me.

The first mentioned of Versailles dates from 1038 AD where monks erect a church of Saint Julien. By 1472 AD, the first complete mentioned of the city is as Versailles-aux-Bourg-de-Galie (new French, Versailles in the town of Gally). by 1475 AD the Lords of Versailles give right to Trianon to the abbey of Sain Germain, first mentioned of Trianon in texts. by 1589 AD first time king Louis XIII stops by Versailles, which he again will visit in 1604,1607, and 1609 ;while doing his first hunt in 1607. by 1623 AD ,king Louis XIII has built a modest country manor home in bricks to spent his time hunting and passing by but never sleeps in it.

The first castle type construction was done by what is today the cour de marbre ( courtyard of marble) being of 24 meters long and 6 meters wide. On April 18, 1632 king Louis XIII buys the lands and domaine of Versailles to Jean-François de Gondi, bishop of Paris. New lands around it are purchased and a bigger castle is built in 1634 AD. King Louis XIII died on May 14 ,1643 AD.

His son king Louis XIV lived in Paris at the Louvre, and was born in nearby Saint Germain-en-Laye. By 1651 AD does his first visit to Versailles and on October 25th, 1660 takes there for the first time his wife queen Maria Teresa (Spain). From 1661-1668 AD renovations and new constructions takes over the life of the domaine. He brings in the crew that built the castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte (seine et marne dept 77) as Le Vau,the architect, Errard and Coypel, the decorators, and Le Notre ,the gardener. By 1664 the first parties are done in the castle including plays by Moliére. First statues place in the gardens done in 1665 AD, the grand canal is build in 1667 AD. The biggest party is thrown on July 18 1668 AD to make the castle known to the world.

1668-1670 the castle is enlarged again with encircling the old building all done by architect Le Vau, and after his death in 1670 AD by his successor architect d’Orbay. The Trianon in porcelain is built in 1670 AD, and at this time many hôtel particuliéres or manor houses are built of great richness such as the ones of Luxembourg,Noailles,Guise,Bouillon, and Gesvres. Between 1678-1686 the galerie des glaces or the gallery of mirrors is built with decorations by Le Brun. By 1682 AD even before all is finished the king Louix XIV comes to live in the castle. Meanwhile, more construction is going on between 1685-89 AD. New Orangerie, Grand Comun (for servants and lesser officials quarters due to reopen to the public in 2012), the stables  of petit and grand ecuries.  1700 AD new apartments are done to house the duke of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV, future king of Spain under Philip V (the Bourbon line is done, ancestors of todays king of Spain Juan Carlos I).

1689-1710 AD the chapel is built;upon king Louis XIV death in 1715, Louis XV finally comes to live in Versailles in 1722 AD at the age of 12 years old, and makes his preference to lived at the Trianon. Meanwhile renovations and constructions continues from 1729 AD on such as the Salon d’Hercules in 1729-1736, the royal Opéra 1768-1770, and the petit Trianon 1761-1768. In 1770 AD the marriage of the dauphin heir future Louis XVI with Marie-Antoinette de Lorraine, archduchess of Austria is held here at the chapel.

Comes king Louis XVI, the builds the library in 1774 done by Gabriel. Cabinet Dorée or golden cabinet built in 1783 to house the collections of Louis XV, his father. then comes the French revolution.

The Estates Generaux are held here and from October 6, 1789 the castle is never the same again. All traces of kings is taken down, all objects are spread all over France and abroad.  the statues, sculptures and paintings as well as furniture is sold all over Europe. A sad time indeed. Then comes reason in the name of the new monarch of king Louis-Philippe in 1830, he decides for good that the castle can be save if made into a museum !  ” FOR ALL THE GLORIES OF FRANCE”. The museum is open on June 10, 1837,hails greatly by one Victor Hugo.

Here the treaty of Versailles ending world war I is done on June 28 1919. Today all changes or amendments to the French constitution as per article 89 needs the National Assembly or Assamblée Générale (house of reps) and the Senate,and the President and his cabinet must move and do those changes debates in Versailles. While here the city of Versailles becomes the de facto Capital of France!!! Like it never has stopped being it !!!!!!!!!! webpages for more info is the official site of the castle below in English,Chateau de Versailles.

information on the city hall government of Versailles ,in French with contact info. Its in the tourist page, with monuments to see as well as to the right the tourist office info

The official tourist office of the city of Versailles for all your needs, and very close to castle corner of ave de Paris and ave gal de Gaulle. the site in English

the site of the potager du roi or the vegetable/fruit garden of the King, still today on wednesdays you can come and buy produce at it! great. The site in English is a bit weird ,more info in the French version here is in English

in French but the ferme Gally or farm Gally sits on the site beyond the chateau in the town of Saint Cyr-l’école, where the same family runs it since 1741, this is the farm that provided food to the castle since its creation. It can be visited, and one I did try to encourage travelers to come for lunch

The equestrian show happening across from the castle at the Grand Ecuries, where the great Bartabas does its wonderful horse shows,not to be missed. Still within the Domaine of Versailles.

in French but the little city newspaper ,MonVersailles (MyVersailles)that you can subscribe for news of the city in general, give all the everyday life of it including tourist updates and information.

If you want to help restore and maintain this wonderful property call the Chateau de Versailles and join millions around the world who do including me, this is the site for Les Amis de Versailles or the friends of the castle.

Of course impossible to name them all, the property is huge, this will give some ideas and history to search. If need any detail information feel free to post a question or contact the owner, me of this blog. I lived here ::)

December 20, 2010

The medieval still in Paris.

When searching for old Paris, nothing can get any better than the areas around Cluny, Sens,and the Village Saint Paul. All on both side of the river Seine in the  rive droite or right bank  or rive gauche or left bank of Paris.

You can easily trace this route on foot from the cour Carrée du Louvre and the donjon or fortress of the Louvre (now the museum) you come up and cross the street rue de l’Admiral de Coligny, and voilà you are in front of the Church of Saint Germain l’Auxerrois, one of the oldest in Paris. The tower next to it does not belong to the church but to the mayors office of the 1er arrondissement or district of Paris and built in the 19C. Better see the gothic porch in front of the church of flamboyant gothic style the only in Paris together with the Sainte-Chapelle. The royal family came many times to pray here,and about this time going on the quai de la Mégisserie along the Seine was the territory of the tanners and saddle makers.

By todays pont du Change (old Grand-Pont) you have the great meatcutters area after being sold the animals from the nearby Champeaux (today Les Halles). The Church of Saint Jacques only remains the tower or Tour Saint-Jacques today. If coming back to the place du Chatelet you can imagine there once stood the Grand Châtelet ,a huge fortress where the provost of Paris lived and was raze in the First Empire period (Napoleon I). A bit down you will come to the place de la Gréve where stands the Hôtel de Ville. The most important harbor port of the city was here as boats load and discharge merchandise on the Seine.

One of my most marvel buildings is near the place de la République near the old port des Célestins stands the magnificent Hôtel de Sens, 1 rue de Figuier (today its the library Forney since 1961 here). It has French style gardens and flamboyant  architecture style. The archbishop of Sens Tristan de Salazar ,made built his residence from 1475 to 1519 here. The famous queen Margot was one of its residents, and at less than 100 mèters (130 ft) the lycée (High School) Charlemagne where the kids played football (soccer) at the foot of the oldest longest remaining old fortress wall of Paris built by king Philippe Auguste(bordering the rue des jardins-Saint-Paul)  ,just in front of the Church of Saint Paul Saint Louis, and behind the beginnings of the Village Saint Paul, where the stores are now in the old garden of king Charles V that used to lived in the Hôtel Saint Pol destroyed in the 16C.

You can continue your walk towards rue Figuier et de Fourcy to reach rue François-Miron, and from here the rue des Archives where at No 58 you will see the door of Hôtel de Clisson (built 1371 and now the national archives museum). A bit down at No 24 rue des Archives a door hides the only medieval cloister still in Paris, this is the Cloître des Billettes with its magnificent flamboyant ceilings , something to come and see .

Moving now towards the rive gauche or left bank , you can continue see the old fortified walls of Paris of king Philippe Auguste. At No 27 rue Mazarine you can come to the basement of the public parking second lower level to see the wall for several meters. At No 34 rue Dauphine, a kino medical cabinet occupies an old wall where you can see the foundations coming to the cellars of the building (need permission from the private cabinet but usually granted),and you need a flashlight. At the window of the old Maison de la Catalogne (of house of Catalunya) on No 4 cour du Commerce-Saint-André.  Cross over the carrefour de l’Odéon and go up rue de l’Ecole-de-Médecine to the old convent of Cordeliers (know by a rope monks carried around their waist) ,where the teaching were done even before the Sorbonne and where Danton had its club des Cordeliers in 1790.

At the other side of boulevard Saint-Michel you see the Hôtel de Cluny ,another middle ages look in Paris.  It was the Paris residence of the abbeys of Cluny in Burgundy, it is a building from the end of the 15C and was build to put together all their colleges (first were by place de la Sorbonne) and their gardens (near the Thérmes). It now houses the museum of the Middle Ages at 6 place Paul-Painlevé, 75005. It is a place that merits your visit, wonderfully done and preserve, as if you were inside an old cloister or a little castle from the renaissance Loire. Interesting things to see inside are the tapisserie in salle or room 22, the La Parisienne- statue in wood of Mary-Magdalene done around 1500, La 6é sens de la Dame, or the the lady in the unicorn dating from the end of 15C, The art of wars or Traité de Combat circa 1490-1500,only one in France showing the princes how to fight in combat. The temperatures are kept at 55% humidity levels constant, the tapisseries are hit with a low light as well as the Lady in the Unicorn, and temp are kept by room depending on the expose article. Do you know the American series Les Sopranos was filmed here? A must place to visit in Paris.

Hope you have enjoy this little walking tour of medieval Paris. More to come at Paris 1972, stay on.

Thanks for stopping by, Cheers!!

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December 18, 2010

Parque del Buen Retiro or Retiro park

It is the essence and lungs of Madrid, the best known park, a rich history and memories of youth. I lived not far from it, and use to walk its alleys and greens all over as a youth, then as an adult came to it on every trip to Madrid as if doing a pilgrimage to a sacred place. It is for me always will be Retiro, my park.

The park is 118 hectares or 291,4 acres. It takes its name from Felipe IV royal palace that once stood there. The only remains are the Cason del Buen Retiro (now part of the Prado museum) and the Museo del Ejercito (where the sword of El Cid is now at the Army museum, Calle de Mendez Nuñez). The royal family used it from 1632, in the 18 century it was partially opened to the public as long as they came properly dress ,until finally fully open to the public in 1869.

You have the estanque or lake where boats can be rented, at paseo salon del Estanque. A favorite of mine even today, used to take my girlfriend there and oars the boat just to show off ! Then took my girlfriend now wife, did the same just to show off. Then took my boys and wrote them around with the stories just to be sure they do the same ,hopefully !  Beyond the park main view you see the half moon colonnade with the equestrian figure of king Alfonso XII; all of 30 meters high(99 ft)  by 86 meters long(284 ft)  and 58 meters wide (191 ft). To the south of the lake you have two attractive palaces; the neoclassical Palacio de Velazquez(red brick and tiles now an exposition center by paseo de Venezuela )  and the Palacio de Cristal (crystal palace as in London by paseo de la Republica de Cuba). You can come towards the Prado museum and the botanical gardens entry by plaza de Murillo.

The main entrance is by the Puerta de Alcala, the gateway used by king Carlos III (emperor Carlos V) to entered Madrid that in the 19C marked the easternmost entry to the city. Occupying the plaza de la Independencia or Independance plaza. Coming into it the Calle Serrano and Calle Alfonso XII all alongside the Parque Retiro on Calle Alcala. By the corner here across the street from the park at Alcala 83 you will find the Church of San Manuel y San Benito, my church in Madrid.

You have large promenades of robust trees leading to fountains and statues, amongst its the La Chopera ( old equestrian center of king Fernando VII today sports installations abound ) ,fountains of Galapagos (b. 1832 commemorating the birth of queen Isabel II at the plaza de Nicaragua) , Alcachofa (by puerta de Atocha at plaza de  la Republica de Honduras  and built in 1781), and Angel Caido or fallen angel (built in 1885 by plaza del angel caido,and only monument dedicated to the devil in the world). When you past by the paseo de la Argentina also known as paseo de las estatuas or alley of statues you will see many such as Enrique II of Castilla or Henry II of Castile etc. From the street Alfonso XII you entered by the Puerta de España or Gate of Spain which leads you to paseo de la Argentina and the lake.

by the statue to the marqués de Salamanca or marquis of Salamanca you find the La Rosaleda (built in 1914 by Cecilio Rodriguez gardener) ,its an imitation of the one in the bois de boulogne of Paris for which the Spanish gardener took it queus. Other monuments nearby are the Academy of the Spanish Language (calle de Ruiz Alarcon), monument of queen Maria Cristina (facing cason del buen retiro at ave Felipe IV); Palace of Bruno Zaldo (calle Alfonso XII,26); Puerta de Mariana de Neuburgo (gate entrance on calle Alfonso XII to Retiro); in the parterre of the park you will see the oldest tree dating from 1633 original from Mexico call Ahuehuete. Also, in the parterre the monument to Jacinto Benaverte, 1922 winner of the Nobel prize in Literature, there in the parterre there is the lake of Campanillas call for the tower of bells that was there now gone but still the name remains ; Plaza del maestro Villa there is the quiosco de Musica or music kiosk ornate dome; Paseo del Estanque is the casa de la vaca or cow house that used to be a milk store, extreme northwest of the park you have the casita del Pescador  or Fisherman house near the artificial mountain, one of the original royal properties still standing there; next to avenue Menendez Pelayo you will find the Casita de Fieras or wild animals house , a small zoo for the entretain of king Fernando VII; jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez or gardens of Cecilio Rodriguez ,the gardener of the city build in 1972 with many ornaments and statues. In the southwest of the park you will find the Observatorio Central  Meteorologico or meteo observatory by paseo del duque de Fernan Nuñez; Iglesia de San Jeronimo el Real a church by calle de Ruiz De Alarcon, 19 (this is where the princes of Asturias swear allegiance to the crown from Felipe II in 1528 to the last one to do it here Isabel II in 1833); Monumento to the Republic of Cuba (at plaza del Salvador, to honor similar monument in Havana,Cuba to Spain, there in Retiro you will see Catholic queen Isabel I and Cristobal Colon(Columbus) built in 1952); Monument to General Martinez Campos at Plaza de Guatemala( built in 1927 to honor the gen that ended the 1er Republic in Spain and also head of Spanish troops in Cuba during the 1860’s); El embarcadero or embarkment for boats built in 1902 where you rent today boats for the lake.

Continue, the Glorieta de los Titeres or guignol theater. next to O’Donnel street you will have the Montaña de los gatos or cats mountain and also known as rollercoster mountain ,it is artificially done by 1816 . Huerto del Francés or French potager used today to recreate plants and flowers at the south part of the park, next to paseo del Uruguay you have the oriental gardens or Jardines Orientales; Pantéon de Hombres Ilustres a sort of Pantheon of Spain as in Paris built in 1867 today lies here Garcilazo de la Vega, Calderon de la Barca, amongst other, located at Julian Gayarre, 3 (some of the bigger names were determine not opt for transfer to the pantheon); and Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Atocha or Our lady of Atocha ,this church given status of basilica by Pope Pius IX in 1863 is founded in an old monastery dating from 1524.located at avenida de Ciudad de Barcelona,3.

The beautiful plazas that surround this park makes an international treasure fort, from the Cibeles fountain at plaza de las Cibeles to plaza de la Independencia at Puerta de Alcala to plaza Canovas del Castillo and Lealtad (by Prado museum) to Glorieta del Emperador Carlos V, passing by the Atocha train station and up Menendez Pelayo to O’Donnell and back to calle Alcala you have the Madrid of the Bourbons, and rich history of Spain all within walking distance. A must for every visitor to Madrid.

Hope you enjoy it as much I do forever Madrid!! Cheers!

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December 16, 2010

Some News about France II

The icy weather should be back this weekend with announced periods of snow, now we have fallen in my area rain and ice mix intermitently. The roads are still good thus. We will see as the messy road conditions of last week caused the highest output of electricity consumption in France at 96K  kw per day. Saturday 18 December 2010  and the snow its heavy around me easy 8 inches of the soft one on the ground, my car is covered and I am home for the weekend ::)

The new announcement in Paris is that the electric car will be part of the scene soon the same as the velib bike has done. Groupe Bolloré have just won the contract to installed  in Paris for the electric car and they can be rented.  From now until the end of 2011 about 3000 cars will be available in Paris and 27 neighboring communities; in about 1000 stations of which 700 will be inside Paris. It will be about the same concept of the Velib bike system. This concept is already in Antibes and Nice will have it soon . The phenomenon started with the city of La Rochelle. Watch for those little blue buggers all over Paris soon !!! News from Le Figaro in French here

The plan for the improvement of life in  Paris continues to have public hearings under the Paris Grand Projet. The idea is to make the city more pedestrian friendly, the plans calls for uplifting the areas along the Seine river such as Pont de Solférino/Musée d’Orsay, Port du Gros Caillou, Invalides/Concorde, Port des Céléstins, and Port de l’Hôtel de Ville. The French webpage is this one

Have a wonderful day everyone ::)

ps latest news all over the papers, the head of king Henry IV has been found and identify. The head is in good condition, it is held at a bank vault pending the process of bury it with the rest of the body at the Basilica of Saint Denis, this is taken part by the descendant of the Bourbon line of kings, the Duke d’Anjou or Luis Alfonso de  Bourbon, which if they have monarchy again will be Louis XX. Apart from other disputing the crown, from royal and imperial sides. The ceremonies will be reveal soon after negotiations with the French government on how and when to do it.

December 9, 2010

Some news about France

allo allo well some news about France now, as the season is just around the corner.

First the trains zones in Paris will be change beginning in July 2011. Now we have 6 zones stemming from Paris proper zone 1 all the way to Mantes la Jolie on the west and Melun in the east with Disneyland in zone 5. Now the longest zone will be zone 5 ,eliminating zone 6. The idea is to have a unique tariff for all transport by the year 2012. As July is the month where tarifs prices change in France, you will need to be on the lookout for that date on new tarifs update while traveling in France.

In addition the WTO=World Tourism Organisation has come up saying that France will remain in first place for visitors in 2010. In 2009, France had 74,2 million visitors,  United States 54,9 m, Spain 52,2 and China 50,9. For 2010 France will keep its first place, according to the organisations estimates with USA second and China moving up to third, Spain fourth. It is expected China to be number one by the year 2020.

Heavy snows in my area of Versailles, as much as 5-7 inches of snow (13-16cm +-) fell yesterday, and all transports were stopped. Cars were left on the road as folks could not get by. I spent 8 hours getting out my kids from school and work in Versailles, snow covered streets as police had blocked some routes for safety, and I needed to do some alternative routings to get in and out.

Unfortunately forgot the camera at home …………………….still learning ::)

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