Archive for March 6th, 2011

March 6, 2011

Some news from France XXIIII

Well the weekend is ending and the preparation for a new week begins. I will be in Paris tomorrow noonish for a get together by Chatelet. Then, routine sets in.

The days are becoming colder again, nice cool breeze wont keep things warmer. We will go to a -2°C to an 13°C in the next ten days with nice skies to cloudy then rain by March 14-15. It seems we are trying harder to go into Spring but not there yet. Stay warm.

I was yesterday in my second home, the Chateau de Versailles, walking all over and inside as they were showing the exhibition of the Thrones of the world, or Trônes en Majesté  beautiful chairs where kings and queens sat in their official duty of monarchs all spread throughtout the palace property indoors. From Popes to emperor of China, to pharaoh of Egypt to Spain Carlos III to the French, magnificent exhibition.  It will lasted until june 19, webpage

See too the creator of the entrance to the metro Palais Royal in glass work at Centre Pompidou, Jean-Michel Othoniel, My Way», until May 23rd .webpage

At Musée Maillol, 61, rue de Grenelle, 75007  from March 16 to July 31 2011. The great Spanish painter and sculptor, Miro le Sculpteur, webpage

Thalys the train service towards northern Europe has a special “Bienvenue chez nous” 50% sale up to  March 21 for travel between March 15 and May 15. all info at official webpage 

March 12/13 next weekend there will be a brocante or flea market by the Madeleine with about 40-50 participants. And as time is getting better, more fairs of wines are on the horizon,the next one at Maison Laffitte, the great racecourse and chateau town not far from me, info Vin et Terroirs de France  next weekend March 11-13 with about 100 winegrowers from 250 appelations and 50 producers of goodiesTél. : 06 22 86 77 96 
or webpage

In other new law in Spain speeding is at 110 k/p/h or fines of 100€  just another gimmick to claim reducing expenses ,one directive of the EU the Spaniards still dont believe. Stay prudent on the roads if going by car.

Real Madrid plays tonite another due or die game, they must win no other choice to keep up the pressure, Kings Cup vs Barcelona in April 20th and Champions league game against  O Lyon in Madrid on March 16th. Now second n the Liga with 7 points behind Barcelona. O the basketball front, also second in the league to Barcelona, they just allow their Italian coach Messina to resigned for lack of support, replaces and now lets see, they are in the quarter finals of the Euroleague,top in basketball, playing another Spanish team Power Valencia to five games starting March 22nd in Madrid.

And thats all for now, happy week ahead and slow down end of Sunday! Cheers

March 6, 2011

Tour Montparnasse at Paris

So  I am on a roll and this is the other tower of Paris, yes,there is another one very famous, call Eiffel, this is the other one Tour Montparnasse, right by the train station, transport hub of Montparnasse. Amazing again my office is across the street, been here ,but not too many photos, goes to show you, sometimes we do not know what we have ::)

Some numbers at you, work finally began end of 1969 and lasted until end of 1972. It took the destruction of the old train station, and foundation work took away much of the concrete around it with the construction of 56 pillars or columns of 70 meters deep( 231 ft). All needed to support a weigh of 115K tons!  The metro structures were surrounded by walls of concrete in the middle of 2,3 hectares or 5.7 acres. The tower is 209 meters high (690 ft) and has  58 floors of 2,000 m2 each. It is capped by a terrace on the 59th floor with a magnificent view of Paris. It ,also, count with a shopping center of 5 floors located between the tower and rue de Rennes including a Galerie Lafayette store; the basement has an excellent underground parking space.

It is located in the quartier Necker in Paris 15éme arrondissement., the 6éme is surrounded it as well as the 14éme fittingly call the quartier Montparnasse of which the tower takes its name. It is separated by the train station by simple place Raoul Doutry, and has many transportation lines including a TGV, regular SNCF trains, metro station Montparnasse-Bienvenue on lines 4,6;12;and 13. Many bus lines criss cross it like lines 92,94,96, and 28,58, and others. parking by car is best at Maine TGV parking garage.

The only spaces open to the public are floor 56 and the terrace at floor 59. In the 56 floor there is a wonderful restaurant call Ciel de Paris which you entered it by 23 avenue du Maine, and the webpage is here , of course is good food but the view is better in my opinion. The tour entrance is at 33 avenue du Maine. There is also a cafe both(resto ciel de paris)  are claiming to be the highest in Europe. The 56 floor is all enclosed heated and cool yeararound convenient to see the best sights in Paris, and the view is superb!

You have all the latest information in its official webpage in English here

Some observation , the best times are between opening 9h30 and before lunch or mornings to see clear, the most romantic times are just before closing by 22h-23h (10-11 pm). Try to avoid the Friday afternoons evenings as for happy hour on the tower it is very popular especially if coming with family.  As I sometime been on it, if you are on business or plan business meetings in Paris,try to get a room here for it or convince your company to hold it here, the views are superb ,very private, and great service pros to attend you, the site for that is here

The area around has plenty of eateries, and bars, too numerous really as over the years it has been my second home. For italian and pizzas try Pizza Pino ,webpage here If you want the original breton crepes then head for Creperie Josselin, 67 rue du Montparnasse, metro edgar quinet line 6. menus from 10€ and deco a la Breton, very popular its always full. Some exotic try a cigar and mojito ,and salsa at Cubana Cafe, 47 rue Vavin, metro Vavin, line 4 with webpage If you want the tequila sunrise in Paris and great Mexican try Hacienda del Sol (owner chef from Durango but closed) ,157 bd du Montparnasse, metro Vavin line 6 or RER B Port Royal, evenings only, the lunch need advance reservation for groups. Very reasonable formules are proposed at Millesime 62, 13 place de Catalogne,webpage here .For ambiance Jazz and great nights of mine for several years ; try Le Petit Journal, 13, rue du Commandant Rene Mouchotte, webpage here . Cafe de la Marine, 59 bd du Montparnasse, great selection of beers for a happy hour or just chat with friends, good views of the plaza in front,webpage

Enjoy the neighborhood, a la Breton is better ::) Cheers




March 6, 2011

Saint Jean de Luz, the French basque town

Down this alley its my favorite town, less well known than the more famous Biarritz for example ,but I like Saint Jean de Luz better, more cozy, friendlier, quaint ,nice beach, and full of history too. Let me tell you a bit about this town.

It was try to bring back into the kingdom of France since Charlemagne days; after he attacked Pamplona in Navarra, they reposted with an ambush at Roncevalles or Roncevaux in french, they were known first as the Vascons established in present day Navarra, and were set back from the 6C north of the pyrennées,now the area of Gascogne.  they started with a dynasty as the kings of Pamplona until Sancho VI takes the title of king of Navarra from 1178AD It has FRench connection because SAncho VII died without heirs, and the kingdom passes to his nephew Count Thibaud de Champagne. After many wars the peace is achieved in the region by the edit of Union in 1620 signed by king Louis XIII when the kings of France become automatically kings of Navarra as well with the confirmation of the treaty of the Pyrenées in 1659 due to the union of king Louix XIV and Infanta Maria Theresa of Spain. The frontiers and the repartition has remained intact to our days.

The basque language is unique and rare, it is part of the finno ourgriennes language of Europe (Finland,Estonia, and Hungary) the only non indo european languages in the old continent, and habit to name it the oldest languages in the continent. They are many hypothesis as to the origin of the language too many to include on this presentation,needless to say nothing is sure of its origins. In France the integration into the national spheres is much more subtle and peaceful.

The city of Saint Jean de Luz, is best known for the treaty of the Pyrenées of 1659. A political marriage of king Louis XIV with the Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain, the king arrives in town the 8 may 1660 and the 9 june joint the Infanta at her house the maison Lohobiague, where a defile takes places led by Cardinal Mazarin of France.  The service is done by bishop Olce of Bayonne for a duration of 3 hours. The door by which the couple leaves was sealed forever.

you get here from Paris by the A10 then switch to the local D810 (old N10 road) ,before reaching the autoroute A63 ,you exit sortie 3 or 2. Viamicheline can help you trace your route as best possible, , we took it by car and park in Blvd Victor Hugo city center . The train from Paris is at the  gare de Saint-Jean-de-Luz-Ciboure at Place Verdun,on the line from Bordeaux -Irun at the limits of the towns,it has direct connection from Paris Montparnasse station,  the webpage for schedules,etc is here . The town can be seen on foot, however in summer when we went there is a free bus service  Itzulia around city center, which is fun to take with kids, the webpage for info in French is here

Some of the best sights or at least my favorites here are the port/harbor area with colorful boats of fisherman and a beautiful view ahead of the Pyrenées mountains. Around the port area you will see the Maison de l’Infanta or Maison Haraneder (where Maria Teresa stayed) with beautiful paintings of the school of Fontainebleau. The Maison Louis XIV or maison Lohobiague (where the king stayed) is of old basque design typical mariner deco, from the second floor beautiful views of the Pyrenées too. The church St Jean Baptiste, richly decorated inside if outside is a bit dull,  this is where the marriage took place!  Of course, in summer the best attraction could be the beach at Grand Plage in city center right walking from it! ideal for families as it is protected by dikes so no big waves! Due to this environment the city is pushing for its Thalasso spa service which I am told are pretty good but never try it. And, for typical Basque tradition see the Ecomusée de la Tradition Basque, RN10 road see jean viter webpage for info in English,

There are nice close towns to see like Ciboure with is church of ST Vincent 16C, and the native house of Maurice Ravel ,composer of famous Bolero No27,  Chateau d’Urtubie built with ok of king Edward III of England in 1341AD. The corniche or cliff hanging road before reaching the port of Saint Jean de Luz at Socoa is marvelous if by car visit ,built by king Henri IV and renovated by Vauban.

For shopping in Saint Jean de Luz, you have the Les Halles located at Blvd Victor Hugo (right off the underground parking I use) you will have all the local products all year and every morning! Around the Halles ,every tuesday and friday morning you have an outdoor marché as well as saturday mornings in july and august  with plenty of produce veggies, fruits, meats of local producers, especially the cheese of brebis basque especialty ! On the halles you have plenty to see as far as shopping and restos in its neighborhood with good map here just hit entrée  , . For arts, tablecloths, statues of basque manufacture see Galerie Catherine Frederic here . The famous basque espadrilles or sandals typical of the area,go to Nicole Paries at 52 rue Gambetta,webpage . For chocolates and basques sweets dont forget to go to Paries, 9 Rue Gambetta, webpage , and the famous macarons of Maison Adams, we load up on these when in town, lOl! around place Louis XIV, our favorite people watching terraces in town, the webpage for it is at

We do lots of travel by car to the city, many times stopping by here, and the one time we stayed longer we use the Hotel de la Plage in summer time, great views convenient to all, and great friendly service ,right at Grand Plage, the webpage is here

As far as eating, we do a lot of tapas standing Spanish style or basque as you wish.  It is the traditional way and less expensive too as you do not take a table. However for sitting around place Louis XIV there is Bar La Baleine, for snacks and ice creams is great with kids like me. by the Halles area standing is best with ciders and tapas(try the Chipirons, little calamars or pulps)  is Bodega Chez Kako,18 rue Harispe, place des halles. For seafood at its best try the La Txalupa, place des Corsaires, terrace on the place Louis XIV that goes to port area.Brasserie/Café Le Suisse, place Louis XIV, great friendly service, the kids favorite, lots of goodies ncluding ice cream lol! they made the waiter work for the tips::) but he was very good indeed.

The tourist office for the city is at

and the regional tourist office is at

Hope you enjoy the trip, Cheers


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