Archive for February, 2011

February 27, 2011

Paris, Museum of Cluny

This is a very historical museum , it is old, going back to the foundation of Paris. Over the years I heard many talk about it, but when in the museum, the crowds were minimum at the least. It should have more visits.

The museum is formally known as the Musée National du Moyen Âge, however is most popular known as the musée de Cluny. It is located in Paris 5éme arrondissement or 75005 in the heart of the Quartier Latin, at 6 Place Paul Painlevé, along the rue du Sommerard. Metro Cluny La Sorbonne line 10 or bus Nos.

The buildings are from an old abbey of the 13C enlarged over the years.  It was nationalised during the French revolution, and finally in 1832 purchase by Alexandre Du Sommerard to bring his collections ,however in 1833 he sold to the State,and named him the first conservator of the museum. In it ,there are Roman thermes or spas dating from the 1C  AD.  The total surface is about 3500 sq meters of which 2000 sq meters( 21 520 sq ft) are in collections numbering 23 000 but only 2300 shown to the public. The items dates from the Gaulist Roman period to the 16C AD.

Some of the items shown are , in the gallo roman spas like the column of Nautes restore in 2003.  Roman sculptures as well as Gothic, in stone and wood from the 12C to early 16C  coming from the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris but also from Germany , Low Countries, Spain, Italy  as well as others. There are about 70 tapestries including the famous La Dame à la Licorne, and stained glass fragments especially from the Sainte Chapelle. About 50 lamps, close to 300 ivories dating from antiquity to the Middle Ages , as well as painting from the school of France, England, Germany, Spain, Flemish from the  14C to the 16C. Pieces of goldsmith and silversmith of relics and enamel de Limoges plus jewerly . Weapons and armory from the wars of old , and objects of every day life as well as furniture, toys etc.

You are in a nice area but  heavily frequented by many, very popular and prices to match. One of the historical nice is Bouillon Racine, there since 1906, and still serving great roast suckling pig or the saukraut with pork cook with beer, and the onion soup!  webpage in English at  For a ligher meal and budget go to La Créperie de Cluny at 20 rue de la Harpe, webpage here .  For some rock music and good beers, with a nice view, and ambiance , go to La Taverne de Cluny, same street as the crêperie above, and weppage

The museum is a member of the association of Clunicien sites, webpage in English here,

The official site of the museum in English is at , it can,also , be read in Spanish.

Hope you enjoy the trip, it is worth a detour I am sure. Cheers.

February 27, 2011

Some news from France XXII

Another Sunday and ready for the start of a new week.  The Mister Winter is coming back with temps from 0°C to 9°C thru March 8th. by wednesdays winds of up to 48 km/hr will make the windchill factor lower temps even more. So if coming in then bring layers of clothings to keep warm. Per Meteo France predictions of course.

The group ACCOR hotels has an increase in its sales volume in 2010 vs 2009 due to high and middle hotel revenues,so where is the crisis ??? 3.6 millions gain in 2010!!!

Sabotage in the TGV line to Chambery caused 30 000 to be delay up to 6 hrs for their winter vacation on the line from Paris Gare de Lyon. The cables that feed electricity were cut with a saw, investigation in France undergoing.

The Césars are in ,the best films in France, the winners are numerous but the main winners were for Best film,   <Des Hommes et des Dieux>from Xavier Beauvois, talks about French monks killed in Algeria while doing a good cause. Best Actress ,Sara Forestier in <Le nom des gens>. Best actor, Eric Elmosnino in < Gainsbourg (vie héroîque)>. Best foreign film ,<The Social Network> (USA) by David Fincher. An honorary César was given to American producer Quentin Tarantino.

Bars in Paris with a game in mind, I try myself the pool table at Café Germain, at 25, rue de Buci (75006). Tél. +33 01 43 26 02 93 ; after a nice dinner go up to first floor for a game of pool with web but metro Mabillon line 10 just over blvd St Germain. For ping pong or table tennis head for Derrière, 69, rue des Gravilliers (75003). Tél. +33 01 44 61 91 95. At the end of the pub/resto you have a nice table to play after your dinner or drinks. metro Arts et Métiers, line 3,11;just off rue de Turbigo. If you like poker, a fad nowdays in France, go to Murano,13, boulevard du Temple (75003).Tel, +33  01 42 71 20 00; at the end of the bar behind thick curtains you have three tables set up for the game. This is ,also, a hotel by the way, which I have not tried. webpage

In the VI Nations rugby tournament France lost to England 9 x 17 at Twickenham, England. So winning the tournament will be difficult if not impossible now. Next up is vs Italy and will finish vs Wales at home.  Official webpage for the tournament,

From April 28 the musée de Cluny will show an exhibition on the sword in history, call L’épée, usages, mythes, et symboles or The sword,uses,myths, and symbols. webpage in French,

From April 5th, the Musée d’Orsay will have an exhibition on “Manet inventeur du moderne” or Manet the inventor of modernism. info on webpage[tt_news]=27127&no_cache=1

The Musée Jacquemart-André will have from March 25, and exposition on “Dans l’intimité des fréres Caillebotte, peintre et photographe” The intimate paintings and photos of the brothers Caillebotte. webpage for info,

The Cinémathèque Française will pay tribute to Stanley Kubrick, from March 23rd. This is at rue de Bercy, Metro Bercy lines 6 and 14, official webpage

At Carré de la Farine, in the marché Notre Dame of Versailles, there will be an exhibition on New York,jardin Majorelle,from April 18. You enter by the rue de la Paroisse on the first floor.this is a gallery showing  artist  Chantal Cavanna; webpage

In Lille ,museum of fine arts or musée-Palais des Beaux-Arts, This is one of the premier museum in France, near our family of the Ch’tis ::) Place de la Republique metro line 1. You will see a nice exhibition on Velazquez, Ribera, and Giordano, from March 11, webpage

In my other family ways cathars country in Castres, you will see the museum/Musée of Goya, showing Baroque des Andes, with paintings and objects from Argentina, Peru ,and Bolivia, from March 18. Webpage It is in the same building as the hotel de ville govt office.

Closer to me in the Musée Condé,Chateau de Chantilly, you have an exhibition call ” Les Clouet de Catherine de Médicis. Portraits dessinés de la cour des Valois” or painting and dessigns done by Clouet for the queen in her court. It will be in the Galerie des Cerfs. From March 23 2011; webpage

I just sawed this and its unbelievable gorgeous, if you are looking for a spa in Paris then try the Institut Dior spa at the hotel Plaza Athénée,webpage with all info here

And we just had a couple of wonderful trips into the country side south of us, going again to Maintenon, Epernon, and Monfort l’Amaury areas. La vie est belle en France ::) Cheers.

February 26, 2011

Dieppe, fishing ,corsairs, and Normandy!

This is another of my watering holes, as it is close to me, and great quaint, seamen town of France. It is located in the department of  Seine-Maritime, region of Haute Normandie. dept No 76.  A great way to see Normandy and France is to visit Dieppe.  The oldest mention of this name comes from the 11C, as it was first known as Deppae (1015-1029) Dieppa (1030), then in the 12C as Deppa or Diopa. It is related to a name given to a stream that throws itself at the city, it was called the  Tella, and in the text of the Mérovigians and Carolian kings it was designated as Dieppe!

You get here as most visitors do from Paris, train service from gare St Lazare, and arrive at Blvd Clemenceau in Dieppe train station.  The train TER regional link is this one,

Above is at the research itineraries section in French. By road, you take the A13 direction Rouen, at Rouen take the connector road A151 to Dieppe (about 2h45m from Paris) , best parking by Blvd Verdun or underground by Casino .By air the airport aérodrome Dieppe-Saint Aubin offers service to tourist light planes, webpage at    . From Newhaven ,UK you can come in via Transmanche ferry,webpage .

The town has an intense seamen history and a great fishing port, first in France for the st jacques ! It is ,also, the closest beach to Paris as well as pleasure boating basin.  Many personalities are link to the city too many to name, but one Jean Cousin, sailed to Brazil four years before Christopher Colombus (1488) and had the two Pinzon brothers with him that later accompagny Colombus in his discoveries. Most of the old inhabitants had emmigrated to the New World mostly due to the fact they were huguenots or protestants. August 19,1942, Operation Jubilee during WWII, carry by Canadiens invade the city testing the defenses, the fallen name a town in New Brunswick ,Canada in their honor, and today ,many tours are conducted showcasing the events of this period in the war at Dieppe.

Many activities at Dieppe, it has in addition to the beach, a huge indoor/outdoor pool complex right on the beach with water temp of 28°C! my boys love it !!! and thalasso, weppage here  , a Casino (from 1961), racetrack course, and 18 hole golf course.  Some of the attraction must see in the city are the Chateau de Dieppe, built from 1443, where Chateaubriand was prisonier,and serve as a prison during the French revolution, and today it houses the museum of Dieppe, with the biggest ivory collection in the world, webpage in French official at . You ,also, have a splendid view over the ocean, beach, and town.  Church of St Rémi (16-17C) reputed to be one of the prettiest churches in Normandy, Church of St Jacques (13-16C), richly decorated, inside see the Chapelle du trésors , showing the countries and town discovered by the Dieppois people., this church was even visited by Victor Hugo. Walk along the Quais Duquesne and Henri IV, the Grande Rue (pedestrian), and place du Moulin with its old wooden houses, blvd Verdun with houses dating from the second empire , the towers from the 15C at blvd Verdun, are the old entrance to the city, the casino,(see the inside moorish and art deco architecture) and the beach of course. The Estran Cité de la Mer is a center to learn about the coast and the ocean off Normandy, very educational and nice. webpage here

You want to partake in the local life,and enjoy Normandy at its best, do like us, come to the market days on Saturdays mornings fresh from the sea and the land around  Place Nationale, Place Saint Jacques from 7h30 -13h00, and Grande rue from 7h30-13h00, as well as around Rue St Jacques,and Rue de la Barre. Another sure thing to enjoy with the family is the racetrack, you dont even have to bet, so many beautiful horses by the sea is great in family, the season starts in june-thru sept 2011, official webpage in French,

One of the biggest event to come here is the kite festival or cerf volants, it is wild on the beach, and great for the whole family. One of our activities here with the gang, You have plenty of time to prepare as it happened every two years so the next one will be in around Sept 2012. webpage


Plenty of hotels in town, it is close to us so we sneak many times for the day, however, we have stayed at the Inter Hotel de la Plage, blvd Verdun, just across from the beach and near the pool complex ,and castle. Great normandy welcome,friendly, excellent price for a family and great views, webpage here . As we have seen the Mercure and Ibis are very good from our always reliable French chain ACCOR.

As far as eating, well crêpes and cider goes hand in hand here , and we love it. Our house away from home and a must stop is the mom and son Ty Breiz creperie in 68 quai Henri IV, tel +33 02 35 82 86 56 ,no web. Another favorite has been the A la Marmite Dieppoise, 8 rue st-jean, tel +33  02 35 84 24 26, no web  but come for the seafood !, Newhaven, 53 quai Henri IV, tel + 33  02 35 84 89 72, no web, your steak and fries with great beers and views;these are it, pretty consistant, but the town is full of them and around quai Henri IV or quai Duquesne you will be fine.

Shopping and load up on local products if the market is not enough ::) we come here L’Olivier, genuine local and great choice of ciders, wines,cheeses, etc, 16 rue St Jacques near the church same name, webpage . For fresh fruits go to the start of Grande Rue to Royal Fruits. For tabacs, postcards,souvenirs,and needy items the ones I know are Le Balto at quai Duquesne and the Puits Salé 56 rue st jacques. Les temps des Fleurs for flowers at 24 Grande Rue, there is a Monoprix supermarket at 13 Grande Rue for your groceries,and sundries needs. Pharmacy at q32 quai Duquesne Armandou Benedicte, and bakery Daniel Busson, 15 quai Henri IV.

The main tourist webpages are the tourist office at , and the city of Dieppe, tourism section under “découvrir Dieppe” at  as well as the regional tourist organism at

Hope you enjoy this town , it is magical by the sea, and if come early in market day Saturday with the smell of fishes been brought in at same time, its France at its best ::)


February 26, 2011

Lagos,Nigeria, an adventure

Well lots of writings on the wall when we speak of Nigeria. I can only said that in my business travels done a lot of business with Nigerians very well. I was able to visit their country, mostly Lagos but into Port Harcourt as well. It is not your typical tourist attraction yet, but if in town be good and have fun.

The security precautions are evident, the ones you hear in the news is because some folks gets loose when in unknown territory and trouble comes their way. I have never encounter a problem not even an attempt of a problem there. You must be coach into the areas to go by an expert security person, the times to go best, etc. You are wise to hire a trusted local driver to get you around, and dont do it yourself. Photos are hard to come by as cameras are not seen in public, credit cards better keep them at home or just for an ultimate emergency, this is a cash country and the currency the Naira is only good in-country. If you must use cash take the ATM machines of Zenith bank, one of the largest in Africa, and well first in Nigeria. webpage

There are plenty to see during the daytime, such as the Bar beach harbor area (not to swim just for the ambiance), there is a beach further north along the Lekki peninsula,Lekki Beach , most expats come here.  There is a soccer/football stadium, while I was there last the under 17 World Cup was being played. Saw the Nigeria vs Spain match the locals won. You need to get ticket from a trusted person such as from the company you are in there,and go with the locals friends.

I stayed in a very nice compound, Osborne Foreshore Estates, call Somerset Court ,very well protected as it is the home of many armed forces personnel. The place is at  Ikoji, one of the nicest districts of Lagos, very nice with all amenities including a pool, billiard room,bar, restaurant, sports TV all over, exercise room, and very friendly staff.

The shopping was done at Palms shopping center, with a big supermarket, call Shop Rite (locals describe the shopping center as shop rite) and Cinema, plus restos, the webpage is here . Some of the best restos here are the Caffe Vergnano, and News Cafe   . The Mega Plaza also has a grocery store, with a courtyard full of restos selling local food ,pizzerias, and Indian foods,Lebanese foods, etc. The webpage is . Another nice shopping center is Silverbird galleria shopping at  267A Etim Inyang Crescent , Victoria Island , Lagos;no web

The properties of the Sofitel Hotel was my lunch venue, and of course the hotel is from the French chain ACCOR so its very nice, its webpage is at ,

The EKO Hotel and Suites  is another nice property,with webpage at as well as the Sheraton by the airport  . However, my best is the Federal Palace Hotel, great bar sports bar area, and wonderful restaurant buffet downstairs, while there it was in the process of opening a Casino; webpage

A nice place to be if have a local influential friend like me is to go to the old British country club, now the country club and golf complex at Ikoyi , you need to be with a member but the company can arrange maybe;;webpage Another interesting place is the Lekki Conservation area, a wildlife reserve for free and just as natural as you can get to wild animals; webpage , . For other interesting sites see the National Theater, and the National Museum at Awolowo Rd, Lagos Island, this last has artifacts and sculptures of local origins.

For eating out, my favorites were the Churrasco Brazilian resto located at 1C Ozumba Mbadiwe Ave, Victoria Island, Lagos, Golden Gate China resto located at 25B Glover Road , Ikoyi , Lagos  , Manuela Italian resto and residency with webpage at ;  and of course the resto at the Federal Palace Hotel. The Bangkok, thai food located at  244A Muri Okunola St, Victoria Island, Lagos; Marco Polo, for seafood located at Marco Polo seafood, 9 Karimu Kotun Street, Victoria Island, Lagos; and the Chocolate Royal, French bakery and resto popular with many expats located at 267A Etim Inyang Crescent , Victoria Island, Lagos.

I needed a visa which was handle by the company, and the transportation hotel to airport and back also. The airport is the International Airport Murtala Muhammed, two terminals ,one for international flights and the other domestic, very easy to navigage.  You need to take precautions for sickness so vaccination is a must, check with your embassy for requirement of your Nationality to get to Nigeria, for the French the Air France center in Paris is this one, webpage . The French Consulate in Lagos which it is recommended you register is at 1, Oyinkan Abayomi Drive, Ikoyi Lagos Nigeria Phone: + 234-1-26934227 +234-1-26934230. For families with small children there is a French school which many other expats and locals take advantage , the school is at Lycée Français Louis Pasteur, 16 Younis Bashorun street, Victoria Island Annex P.O. Box 72172, Lagos ; Tél. (234) 1 270 05 45/46 Fax. (234) 1  270 05 44.

If you need to go to Port Harcourt, more precautions needed here, the best property is the Novotel hotel part of the French ACCOR chain, the details are here, ,

Some webpages for help, first the official Nigeria tourism webpage at , and this site that is very useful too,

If ever at this part of the world hope you have a wonderful stay and enjoy the adventure.



February 25, 2011

Honfleur, seamen, painters,and Normandy

For one who does not know it well it will be hard to imagine that this small fishing village in Normandy is the second most visited site in all of Normandy just behind Mont Saint Michel :::! But it is. Made famous by painters of yesteryear and today, with perhaps more museums per square meter/feet than any other city, and the fisherman touch that it always retain, its magical. One of your stops in Normandy. To me its magical,nostalgic, and a must stop several times a year. After so many trips with the family, my Mom is buried at sea just outside the harbor in the ocean current mariners style, its the way we will all go.

Honfleur is in Calvados dept 14, and it sits right in the mouth of the river Seine as it goes to sea, facing Le Havre.  To come here you have many possibilities, such as , by car/auto on the Autoroute A13, exit/ sortie Beuzeville, national road N13. Autoroute A29, exit/ sortie Honfleur. Viamichelin should help here,  , then you have the trains, from Paris (gare Saint-Lazare), correspondance to Honfleur from the stations at Deauville/Trouville, from Lisieux,and Pont -l’Evéque with the Bus Verts du Calvados, lines n° 20 and n°50. bus vert webpage here . The train webpage for all travel in the area is here TER Normandie, Then, you have the airport at Deauville Saint-Gatien about 10 km,taxi to Honfleur, and the sea Car-Ferry Caen-Ouistreham/Portsmouth – Le Havre/Portsmouth.ferry webpage here

It was first mentioned by Richard III, duke of Normandy in 1027AD as records shows. Several taken and release by the wars with the English, it was finally French from the time of Henri IV in 1590 AD. It is a city connected with many seamen and many who went to Canada, including Jehan Denis who visit  Labrador and Newfoundland taken as French possessions in 1506 AD, and Samuel de Champlain who from here sailed away to established the city of Québec in 1608AD!

Some of the painters that at one time or another reside here were  Gustave Courbet, Eugéne Boudin ,Claude Monet, and Johan Barthold Jongkind creating the school of Honfleur that gave rise to the Impressionists movement. Still Art galleries and museum abound, such as musée Eugéne Boudin (local painter), Musée Eric Satie (local musician), Musée du vieux Honfleur (city museum), and Musée de la Marine. These have a special webpage in French for all the info ,have them in the contact section for you to ask in English is ok.

Some of the monuments not to missed while in the city are the following, Church of Sainte Catherine, 15C, done with an inverse boat as the roof  using naval woods, in an old market place. It has an organ from St Vincent in Rouen, and paintings by Boudin and Jongkind. Its an institution in the city, not to missed ,and the market or marché is just around it, cours des Fossés in the pl Sainte Catherine,every Saturday mornings,  the best of Normandy is here.  Church of St Etienne,the oldest in the city dates from 14C-15C. built with calcium stones and the stones from Caen, housing today the museum of the Marine. Church of St Leonard ( a man on the court of king Clovis, patron saint of prisioners) , gothic flamboyant from the 15C-17C , but on the site of a previous church from 1186 AD ,still in service,right past hotel de ville; you can see the fountain and laundry(15c)  of Leonard next to it. Greniers à sel, it house as much as 10K tons of salt to preserve the catch of the sea built in the 17C ,as the boats fronts were built then.  Chapelle Notre Dame de Grâce, built between 1600-1615 or chapel of our lady of grace, its right on a hill overlooking the bay, this is where I go in peace.  Actually there is a chapel here since Richard II, duke of Normandy in 1023AD . You can see the bells of the pilgrimage done every pentecost day, this year 2011 will be the 150th celebration ,call the “Fête des Marins” I will be there. You climb the hill on foot to the chapel and a great town service is done. Some of the previus visitors here included,  Samuel De Champlain, Pierre Berthelot, Louis XIII, Napoleon Bonaparte, and, Thérèse de Lisieux . The boats go out to see lay wreath of flowers to the fallen,those from the wars,and those who wish to be there. At the end of the city towards direction Trouville, you find the Jardin Public and the Jardin des personalités, a nice garden overlooking the garden and with sculpture bust of famous citizens of the city mostly painters. There is a garden event every year here, “Passionnement Jardin”. This year is in April 16-17, and we will be there too ::) the special webpage for the garden events is here in French, . The Hôtel de Ville by the pleasure harbor at Place Artur Boudin, around the quartier of enclos or enclosure neighborhood as protection against invading English. The Lieutenance, by the pleasure harbor, called because from the 17C it house the lieutenant of the king that keeps guard on the harbor, and a piece of the Porte de Caen 15C guarding the old entrance to the city.

Over the Côte de Grâce, a steep climb of about 7% inclination, you arrive at the chapel of Notre Dame de Grâce, you bear left on a trail behind it , and follow the woods ,see the panels that says ” Mont Joli” or beautiful view; you will have a wonderful view of the valley of the Seine, the city ,and the Pont de Normandie. There is a nice butterfly museum with tropical plants just outside the city but doable walkable towards Trouville. its call Naturospace, its like been in the tropics, and great with children. webpage

You have a fishing port in the front bay towards the sea,with about 40 boats catching shrimp gray and st jacques in each season,  and a pleasure boat marina in the inner bay towards the sea; surrounded by houses from the 17-18C, I give the official port webpage if in case you are a boater, is in French but if communication is needed they will have English speaking personnel all the time, You,also, have the Port d’Escales et vieux Greements, an old shipyard keeping alive the seamen traditions ,you can see the Marie-Magdelene (1934) , Dehel (1931), Sainte Bernadette a shrimp boat from the city a national monument status, Sheena, a sailboat from 1916; and others, the place has its own webpage in French here The maritime port welcoming cruise ships for the last several years, about 20-30 stops are done each year. Finally, the commercial port, with shipbuilding facilities divided into three basins, such as the Bassin de l’Ouest or Vieux-Bassin, Bassin de l’Est or Bassin de la République built in 1840 and the Bassin Carnot ,bigger and built in 1862.

You,also, have a beach with a Pavillon Bleu distinction in France, that is very safe to swim here! in season of course ::). This is the beach at Butin, coming along the coast into the city, then there is the beach at Vasouey coming from Trouville.

For shopping antiques the best is Agora, 22 rue Montensier, place Thiers, and webpage For the best in Cider,Calvados , Pommeau and local liquors my shop is A la Cave Normande, rue de la ville, webpage ; galleries of arts are many, so many good ones, I guess just to name a couple would be galerie du Dauphin (or bartoux), webpage ,and Galerie Danielle Bourdette, webpage ,, so many good ones thus.  For food there is a small grocery store at 8 place St Leonard near the church, same name. also, a Casino supermarket at Quai Lepaulmier,just behind the parking at the port harbor behind the hotel de ville building area.

For a nice boat  ride in the inner harbor try the Calypso, info webpage here For a bit more into the ocean try l’Evasion right by the Foncia real estate office before reaching the jardin public site on the outer harbor.  For hotels well live nearby not too much usage but have try the Campanile and the Mercure in city as I can get points in France. However, the choices are endless, and nice properties are Le Manoir de Butin,La Maison de Lucie,La Ferme St Simeon,and Les Maisons de Lea. In addition to the economical Kyriads, Ibis, and Etaps chain hotels.

For eating, the ideal is the boat pleasure boat inner basin area, for the people watching ,however, the city has an excellent range of restos that has never disappointed us. Our favorites are Au Bouillon Normand, rue de la ville, webpage , laidback normand regional cuisine.  Brasserie du Port, 6 rue Ville, by the harbor pleasure boat marina on the side of the carrousel, corner, cant missed great, no web, tel + 33 02 31 89 43 44, and great local chow as well, pizzas too. La Cidrerie, 26 place Hamelin, no web, Tel + 33 02 31 89 59 85 , great simple meals around the Normand Cider. just going over to the church Sainte Catherine turn right on the little street ,rue Haute. Le Bréard, rue des Puits, very traditional French ,gastronomic, webpage .  and the Sa.Qua.Na , a gourmand cuisine, webpage . Then there are several pizzzerias like Il Parasole, 2 rue Haute near harbor, sandwich and ice cream parlors, and the jazz bar by the harbor ,La Taverne du Perroquet Vert, webpage

Some webpage for the tourist office of Honfleur,

and the city of Honfleur webpage Come to smell the sea breezes and stay for a life time,and for some even beyond. Cheers.


February 24, 2011

Meaux,brie cheese, and the Cathedral

A while back I didnt even know there was a Meaux, a few years back. That is until I happened to meet a young lady in Paris ! She was a native of Meaux but work in Paris as a secretary to a real estate company.  The rest is history, today she is my wife of 20 years, 3 boys, and many many trips to Meaux, in department Seine et Marne ,no 77. east of Paris.

It would be hard to tell you everything about the town, that I have come to know every bit nook and cranny of it, where my boys roll in baby carriages since age 5 weeks !! for one and 6 mos for the other 2,twins !!! Even along cobblestone streets around the Cathedral. But, I will try to tell you a bit about it ,and maybe you will come to know MEAUX too ::)

Its people are call the Meldois, going back to celtic tribes in the area of the Meldois, very old town yes.  In the region of Brie, cross by the wonderful river Marne (that goes into Champagne country !) , the town was occupied by vikings in 882AD, and even before that many Romans remains have been found by the river bed, and next to the Canal de l’Ourcq. The town was a major scene of WWI, with the famous Battle of the Marne play just around it, the bridge going over to the marché was destroyed by the French to hold the advance of the Germans, and it was successful. There are many monuments to the dead around just outside of town, with huge statues dedicated to them such as the Monument Americain (b. 1932) , dedicated to the Americans, and plaques inside the Cathedral dedicated to the British who died in its fields. If you are into military history you should come here.

To come here from Paris, you can take the train at Gare de l’Est to the station in Meaux, or you can drive on the A4 connecting with the A140 straigth into town or do the scenic ride on the N3 from Porte de Pantin in Paris all the way to Champagne country passing thru city center Meaux.  The train webpage for the ile de France region in English is here , it can ,also be read in Spanish. The easiest is to trace the route in viamichelin in English here if coming by car,  Best parking is by parking centre ville (underground parking) entrance facing the river Marne or along cours de l’arquebuse road (open air).  For local public transport see the city of Meaux transport page in French here

The town is divided into sections or neighborhood some newer away from the river and the old ones from times afar such as the city center or centre ville, and ,the Marché , just across from the bridge over the river Marne, the Faubourg Saint-Nicolas (where my wife is from), the Châage-Saint Faron or area of the hospital (where she was born), and the ave de la Republique/La Croix de Varenne, from where the escapee Louis XVI was brought back to Paris spending a night here.

Some of the places of interest in the town in my opinion are , the gallo roman ramparts still visible today and near where I lately park my car! , the complex of the Cité Episcopal includes the Cathedral St Etienne of Meaux (12-15C) a jewel of gothic art, and holds the remains of bishop Bossuet, the religious teacher and advisor of king Louis XIV; the episcopal palace (12-16C) , the vieux chapitre (13C) , and the jardin Bossuet (17C), and Musée Bousset with paintings and sculptures  of the ile de France region  ; the many convents proof of its strong religious past are couvent de la Visitation, chapelle des sœurs Augustines, chapelle des sœurs Saint-Joseph de Cluny, église Notre-Dame du Marché, église Notre-Dame de Chaâge, and as well beautiful mansions as such hôtel Macé de Montoury, hôtel Passelaigue, hôtel de la Sirène, hôtel Prévost de Longpérier, hôtel Marquelet de la Noue, and the old hôtel Dassy which have been redone as apartments! The Château Frot, the music conservatory today at cours Pinteville. And something that is to start by November 11, 2011 the museum of the Grande Guerre as call in French WWI, you can see been built in French here, at the official webpage

You can lodge well in the Campanile hotel at webpage  , very good friendly folks used for family gathering over the years. In city center, the historic Le Richemond is grand and very nice by the river Marne at good prices, webpage

To eat out, there are plenty of good restos we enjoy over the years such as Le Briconnet, just around our alley ,the webpage is in French but they will respond in English if contacted, see details first page, glorious attention and good French food,  La Péniche ,is a boat resto by the river Marne, great tradition and good food tooo, webpage in French bien sûr ,and Le Laureat, just in city center by the Cathedral, refine and old French, . La Table à Crêpes, in city center, very good over the years, still going strong with real Bretons, and food/beer/cider from the country, 5, rue des Vieux Moulins tel +33 01 60 09 48 98. up from the river Marne past the hotel de ville .

The things to buy here of course, the world famous Brie de Meaux, the king of cheeses and the cheese of Kings, as per the Congress of Vienna 1815. You can find the original in the marché or the fromagerie in city center, the webpage for the fraternity that guard over the authenticity of this cheese is here in French,

And there is the mustard of Meaux, well renown, the story goes well there is no telling when it was created !!! all we know is that in 1760 someone gave to a Mr. M.J.B Pommery , the secret recipe for the mustard, that has by priviledge be presented on the tables of the kings of France since 1632 AD , the house of  Pommery came to be located at 69 rue du faubourg St Nicolas until 1927 refusing to give the secret away, at that time the last descendant of the house sells the business with recipe and all . Still commercialise in all over by this webpage ,and you can buy it too in many stores in Meaux, the manufacture is an adjacent town where we have family too,

You have the marché or market in city center around the blvd Rose,and the river or around the cinema Majestic every wednesday mornings, Saturday all day, and Sunday morning. Under the covered market in just over the river Marne you will find merchant selling the real brie cheese with un pasteurised milk.  The area just outside Meaux along the A140 is full of stores of all kinds, a great shopper paradise with prices better than Paris.  City center around rue st Remy is pedestrian only.  For the brie cheese and many other do come to La Fromagerie de Meaux,4, rue du Général Leclerc, city center off rue st Remy, tel +33   01 64 34 22 82 ,is open every day except mondays and even open Sunday morning. Bakeries goodies our favorite is Boulangerie Prentignac, 31, rue du Faubourg St Nicolas ,tel +33 01 64 34 12 38 open every day even Sunday mornings, except Mondays.  TAke cty center rue St Remy and you will have a field day shopping typical French. For entertainement with the family head over to the Majestic theater or cinema, my first movie and have come back for more, the webpage is here located at place Henri IV, with nice parking next to it.

The official city of Meaux webpage has tourist information too, however, in French, if need help let me know.

For further tourist info,you can look at the department tourist webpage here in English ( I have in the Cathedral of Meaux page)

Hope you have enjoyed this small trip to a very special place for me. Cheers.


February 23, 2011

Some news from France XXI

Well here we are at midpoint and still rainy, grey ,cool, humid days with some more yet to come.  I was driving by Mantes-la-Jolie , a royal town of France with a great Collegiale Notre Dame, just park behind it overlooking the Seine river.

This just in, the city govt of Paris is launching a new webpage for news about the city and it will be expanded to even know the history behind each street. The English version will follow as for now is in French only; enjoy it here at

For those seeking the very French of Paris, there is a concert at the famous Olympia from Feb 28 with Véronique Sanson, the French pop singer, showcasing her new album “Plusieurs Lunes” Several moons. Her personal webpage with the info is at

For a bit of jazz from Sweden with a voice like an American, go see Jeanette Lindstrôm at the fame Les Ducs des Lombards jazz corner her webpage with all the info of the event is at

Want to go to the Circus, then come over to a good one Circus Alexis Gruss, will be performing Méelody its 37th creation with music, acrobats, trapeizes, chevaliers in horses, and comic clowns.  But hurry up only until Feb 27th, they are at  Chemin de ceinture du lac supérieur, Porte de Passy
, Bois de Boulogne,  webpage is at

Two brunch classics a la Americaine with the French touch bien sûr that have been my favorites for as long as I can remember is Carette by Trocadero. Now at place des Vosges and starting a nice brunch for 23€  with a breakfast at 12€, reservation is advice ,heavy meals great choices. Have a bit of Paris at 25, place des Vosges, 75003.  Tél. : +33 01 48 87 94 07. Open every day from  7 to midnight! webpage go to Carette on the right column and choose the location.

Another nice Brunch in another of my favorite areas ,the 7th, the resto Home in Paris, handled by Guillaume Gomez the No 2 chef at the Elysées (the French presidential home), just on Sundays  for 30€  including a hot drink, orange juice and buffet all you can eat, 20€ for the children.  17, avenue de la Motte-Picquet, 75007  Tél +33 01 47 05 07 37. Open everyday except sunday evenings and mondays ;no web but a great find go there.just in front école militaire. 

It will be the Greek month in Paris next March,starting March 1st at the room= salon Impérial in the The Westin Paris Hotel (3, rue de Castiglione), from 12h-19h, with Greek chefs and an elaborate buffet . The recipes will be presented at the two UNESCO restaurants during the week of Feb 28 to March 4th, and in five Greek restos in Paris from March 2 to 31th ,these restos are – Evi Evane, 10 rue Guisarde, 75006. Tél. : 01 43 54 97 86 – Les Délices d’Aphrodite, 4 rue Candolle, 75005. Tél. : 01 43 31 40 39 – Mavrommatis, 42 rue Daubenton, 75005. Tél. : 01 43 31 17 17 – L’Olivier, 15 bd du Temple, 75003. Tél. : 01 42 77 12 51 – La Maison Grecque, 20 rue de Mogador, 75009. Tél. : 01 45 96 37 38. Easy to find the webpages but if need help let me know.

New haircut trends for the spring by Jean Louis David, our favorite in the family, plenty of them in Paris, ours we have visited is in the 16 at galerie St Didier,rue des Sablons,  the short cut rock style is back for woman of course; here is the webpage for the haircuter

A movie about the almost coup d’etat in Spain new democracy, where were you? I am glad it was not succesful and thank you King Juan Carlos, the movie webpage

O. Lyon 1 vs Real Madrid 1, tied in Lyon in the Champions league, so we have a goal advantage for scoring away and the decider will be in Madrid , march 16. The goal for Real Madrid scored by Frenchman Karim Benzema, entering as a substitute.

Well now looking forward to the Chateau de Montmirail in the Sarthe the site of the movie The Visiteurs, French movie, my kids wants to go where they filmed it. So off we go. Cheers and have a great rest of week.

February 22, 2011

Invalides and Ecole Militaire

I will put these two together because they both have military backgrounds. They are icons of a great Paris history, and great areas to be visiting.  It is ,also, a very popular area with visitors and locals alike.

A bit of orientation, the Invalides and école militaire are in arrondissement or district 7, postal code 75007. They are within walking distance of each other, with many metro lines around them. école militaire is line 8, and La Motte Grenelle is nearby in line 6. The invalides are closer on Varennes line 13 or La Tour Maubourg ,line 8 or Invalides line 13. The official Paris transport site will help you ,

The Invalides were ordered built by king Louis XIV in 1677 to helps the handicapped soldiers returning home, most of them veteran of the War of  30 years. The architecture in the central courtyard especially takes queue from the El Escorial near Madrid,Spain. A church inside is ,also,done from 1676, Church of Saint Louis. During the French revolution it was a group of invalids or handicapped soldiers who open the gates so the crowd armed themselves for the struggle to follow. All inside was taken, and the halls and chapels rename with republican names. It was here in 1804, that the first medal of honor were given out by Napeleon I. There is a statue of him here since 1911. Today the Invalides still has wounded handicapped soldiers residing. It ,also, has museum of the Army since 1905. The place guard a host of military figures interned there, such as the heart of Vauban, and Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, the author of the Marseillaise, and Napoleon I since 1840.The museum of the order of liberation as well as the museum of  Contemporary History ,and a multimedia space in memory of Charles de Gaulle are house here. All detail information is in the official webpage for it here ,you can turn it to English once maintenance is finish.

The école militaire is that, a military school of the highest officers for the French armed forces.  For doing something bigger than his predecessor, king Louis XV has a school for the military built, however, due to his many wars, and not enough money, the project is slowly done until it finally opens in 1756 with 200 students!  On July ,1768, the king comes to lay the first stone for the chapel of Saint Louis ,and the facade we see today, and finally the whole project is finished in 1780.  The school did not outlast its creator and in 1787 it closed. During the French revolution, it was completely ransacked, and it was not until 1878 that the Superior school of military officers is installed, and in 1911 the officers school is open.  The castle inside of it give its notes to the Louvre in architecture and on the central courtyard was the accusation and exonoration of Captain Dreyfus.  There is ,also, a chapel Saint Louis inside given to religious cult since 1952 richly decorated.  Some of the schools there now are the IHEDN (institut des hautes etudes de defense national), CHEM (centre des hautes etudes militaire), institut de recherche strategiques de l’école militaire, the ecole de guerre or war school,  DICoD (delegation à l’information et la communication a la defense , and premiere base de soutien au commandement.  This site show you in French the chapel Saint Louis, ,and the chorale of the school that perform on many activities of the chapel (in French)

You have many nice buildings and walks to do in this area, including climbing the UNESCO building for its cafe and great views of Paris. Going to the Seine river, you will have gorgeous views on the river and across the Grand and Petit Palais.

The resto 7vin at 68 ave Bosquet is wonderful and one of my favorites that I go again several times, webpage . Another is Cafe de l’Esplanade, 52 rue Fabert ,no web tel +33 01 47 05 38 80. very easy to find just by the place d’invalides across from it ::) , and Chez Francoise inside the Air France aerogare ,French at its best, webpage The Le Roussillon, 186 rue de Grenelle, a bit business but you can go in too, and great drinks with good selection of beers and wines, its a bar. no web, tel +33 01 45 51 47 53, cant missed between the two buildings.

Hope you enjoy it and do come over is a great Paris area and two wonderful institutions.



February 21, 2011

Some news from France XX

Well the week started well, as usual rain and rain grey and grey humid and humid blah blah blah. We should continue like this until the end of February; with mostly damp rainy days and some clouds coming out, temps from 0°C  the 23 Feb to 12°C the 25 Feb. So be prepared or be squared ::)

Some statistical curiosities that were brought to my attention are about the French; we are the most pessimistic for 2011 with 61% on the economic front; we eat pizzas the most with about 10 kgs per person more than double the Italian and just behind the Americans with 13kg in the world; the most mobile students in Europe with 30 000 Erasmus student in 2009; we have the most dirty restrooms/toilettes  in Europe; the most savers in Europe with 16,2% ratio and the least to use credit; 43% are not happy with a capitalist system, preferring a more equitable model; we spent the most time on the table to eat with 130 minutes tops in the world, and sleep the longest 8H; we are the best build for love with an average penis of 16 cm in the world; we work less but are more productive with generation of 25,10 USD GDP while the Americans come at 24,60 USD!; and 38 days of vacation we are tops in the world baby! now dont worry this is just came out in MSN ::)

The ICAA or International Civil Aviation Authority has critized the US government idea to include in their budget a tax of 5,50 USD for every Canadian visitor! In the meantime the waves of freedom and democracy continues in Northern Africa and the Middle East, bravo for the people; democracy is good for everybody.

Opéra Garnier ,Paris ,had one of its best year ever with a 94% occupancy rate for its events in 2010 according to Le Figaro newspaper. Looking forward to 2014 , the French President is working to open a Maison de l’histoire de France, sort like a museum with loans from about other 14 institutions, such as  Les Eyzies, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Pau, Cluny, Écouen, la Malmaison, Compiègne, Fontainebleau , and  Musée des plans et reliefs.Originally it will be house in the current Archieve Nationale that I eluded in one of my post will be shortly transfer out of the city of Paris. Others like the Memorial Caen will join later on too. Stay tune….

The French are preparing to build a sort of the pentagon in the USA in Paris, to regroup the 15 sites now housing about 9300 federal defense employees in France. it will be the biggest construction project of the decade with 8,5 hectares ( 21 acres). This will be done in the Balard site in the 15 arrondissement de Paris,south of the city;metro line 8 and tramway T3 will get you there if you dare.

the Chateau de Versailles will have an hommage to Venice this summer 2011 under the title «Venise Vivaldi Versailles».and it will be with gondolas and all, keep an eye on the castle webpage for updates.

The top 30 French actors better paid in 2010 are as follow according to Le Figaro, in Euros

1Marion Cotillard, 2,35 M,2Jean Dujardin 2,3 M, 3Kad Merad 2,25M, 4 Romain Duris  2, 04M,5Gérard Depardieu 2 M 6Franck Dubosc 1,74 M,7Michael Youn 1,7 M,8Benoit Poelvoorde 1,6M,9Clovis Cornillac 1,4 M,10Vanessa Paradis 1,3 M,11 Gilles Lellouche 1,25M,12Roshdy Zem 1,2M,13Audrey Tautou 1,125 M,14 Jean Reno 1,1 M, 15Mathilde Seigner 1 M, 16Lambert Wilson 999.000 ,17José Garcia 995.000,18Fabrice Lucchini 990.000,19Nathalie Baye 900.000,20Benoit Magimel 890.000,21François Cluzet  780.000, 22 Sophie Marceau 765.000, 23 Catherine Frot  700.000, 24 Albert Dupontel 650.000 ,25Diane Kruger  572.000 ,26Isabelle Huppert 550 000, 27 – Kristin Scott Thomas and Catherine Deneuve 500.000 ,28Sylvie Testud 490.000, 29Karin Viard 425.000 ,30Cécile de France 378.000.

Now obviously I do not rent apartments/hotels etc in the Paris region because I live here for the last 8 years, and before that stay with family for many years going back to 1990,so my experiences have been on location, word of mouth of the expat community in Paris, and feedback from other relatives too large to house or friends too numerous that have come over. These are the reliable ones in my opinion over the years: updated 2011.  , , , , ,  , , , , (this one I know is great because use to rent in the south and Spain) . There are many others including an English language magazine distributed all over Paris that has listings too,  It should give you a good start, and keep you good.

In addition for those on the hotel trail, there are very good French chains that I use for many years such as ACCOR, and Louvre. I will give out those webpages here, ; ; ; ; ;  ; never gone wrong with any of these properties.

Enjoy France, its a movable feast in its entirety ::)

February 21, 2011

Madrid, Puerta del Sol y Cibeles

Let finish our walk thru the plazas of Madrid , the wonderful exhuberant feeling of been with history, old but nice ,and modern at the same time. The places that tick and tickle your fancy when visiting any place. Madrid is a mouthful in itself.

I like to talk about the center of it all, the historical center at Puerta del Sol. Every new years celebration its marked here like a god,and goddess , when Christmas comes it is sublime, and any other time is wonderfully refreshing. Puerta del Sol, just the name it means Madrid, the “gateway to the sun”. The square or plaza marks the eastern entrance to the city, and in the 19C was turn into what it is today. The square is shape like a half moon,along you see the big brick building that was the city’s post office built in the 1760’s (Casa de Correos), and in 1847 became the HQ of the Ministry of the Interior or security police. In 1866 a clocktower was added, that still mark the time for the traditional 12 grapes at New Years’ time! It is today part of the regional government buildings. You have the marker for kilometer zero where all distances in Spain are measure. You should look for the Madroño, the symbol of Madrid, the big strawberry tree with the bear leaning on it. Outside you have the equestrian statue of king Carlos III done in 1994!  In june 2009 a new transport hub was finished underground making it the biggest in the world with 28 meters deep, 207 meters long and 20 meters wide. Its lobby area has 7500 m². The entrance is like an igloo given it a very modern outlook.   You reach here on metro lines 1,2,3 and cercanias or suburbian trains C3 and C4 .

We go over along Gran Via and Calle de Alcala towards the Plaza de Cibeles, where the fountain of Cibeles is located. Walking this arteries is like living well in Madrid, the road street of Gran Via done in 1910 has the heart and soul of Madrid. Take a look at the Edificio Metropolis,and the Telefonica building done in 1929 and the first skyscraper in the city. All this before you reach Cibeles. One of the most beautiful and for me of greater meaning as it is here that the famous Real Madrid FC celebrates its victories with the fans, and celebrate it has done more than any other team in Europe or the World pershaps.  The nights coming over to enjoy in the celebration still is a great feeling to me. Cibeles or Cybil is the greco-roman goddess of nature, she is shown seating in ther chariot drawn by a pair of lions built in 1777-1782.  Here at its western side begins calle Alcala, my street where I lived four years.

Enjoy the walks there are sublime,and will bring you closer to the city and its people, the Madrileños are very social, friendly and party hardy ::)


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