Archive for March 30th, 2011

March 30, 2011

Remembering Villanua, Spain

I have travelled very extensively in Europe, from the times where there was no internet and certainly not a desire to take pictures. Actually , I started collecting post cards (have  still from 76 countries and about 3525!) as the pictures look better than mine lol!

Over the years I realised photography was great,and came back to it with the advent of the internet, and the travel forums. I have pull two pictures from those sleepy but beautiful towns along my routes. This post is about one of such towns as it bring back nice memories.

The town of Villanua, is in the province of Huesca, autonomous region of Aragon, northern Spain; at the foof of the peak Collarada with 2886 meters ( 9524 ft). It is not far from Jaca, and the ski stations of Candanchu and Astun with only 12 kms from the frontier with France by the new tunnel of Somport. I say new tunnel because before in the old days I used to cross by here with a VW golf car climbing on second gear all these magnificent mountains in the Pyréenes.

The road taken was the N134 from France at Oloron St Marie, once crossing into Spain either by Puerto de Somport (old road) or Tunnel de Somport you reach the road N330 that takes you into Villanua. A good road route planner for all of Spain is the Repsol gas stations , similar to Michelin, webpage here . The bus company in the area is Alosa with webpage here and the train for Spain is

The tourist webpage for the valley of Aragon is here , and the city mayor’s office has a page on tourism with hotels and restos webpage on that here in Spanish

Some of the webpage to help the more in time visitor are the Somport, with many skiing amenities here . The ski station at Candanchu webpage , and one at Astun webpage here

In addition to skiing, the area offers great caves and walk trails in the mountains. Some of the better known caves are Gûixas, Fuente del Candado, Way of Canfranc, new cave or Esjamundo, and Venero. You can hook up with these people, Sargantana, have the webpage in contact page here

It is ,also, a way to the Camino de Santiago or the way to Santiago de Compostela, many routes pass by here all into the Camino Aragonés, the webpage with info is here

I have stopped at the mountain hotel Faus Hutte, Carretera de Francia, Villanua, Huelva now call hotel LaCasa but a very charming place; webpage We ate right there even waking up the cook, so it became I home as we try to stop there always on our road trips into Spain that have been solo shot from Paris to Madrid on several times over the years.

If you love the outdoors and think mountain, this is the right spot for you and prices are better than in France. Hoping that it brings you nice memories too. Cheers.


March 30, 2011

Monfort l’Amaury an old county of France

This is a beautiful town in my department of Yvelines no 78,west of Paris. There is so much to see just in my area, it will take years to see it all,not to mention France. The count of Monfort, the fist one was name Amaury so the name of Montfort l’Amaury.

This is an old town even if most in France are old , this is old ! It was king Robert II who had built the castle here in 996AD on the hill of Montfort. It was the domain of the counts of Monfort since the 11C.  It was part of Brittany from 1292AD, and came back to the kingdom of France in 1547 when Brittany came in to France.  So there is my history bit, just a bit.

Many roads take you here all departamental ,this is deep France country!   The N12 direction Thoiry, and the D13 direction Maurepas  as well as the N10 direction Chevreuse are the ones I take. From Paris the best way is to get out at porte de Chatillon in the boulevard peripherique and take the A86 direction Versailles that will link with the N12 direction Dreux; get off at the D76 dir Mére continue until Montfort l’Amaury. You can try michelin but will give you a expressway route of more time.  I am tired of writing to them for the corrections…

The train station serve both Mére and Montfort l’Amaury from Paris Montparnasse ,Transilien is the webpage for the local train schedules here . By bus from nearby communities you can take the Hourtoule line 5 at webpage ,and Company Veolia Transport Rambouillet on lines 1,9,15,and 19 at webpage , and company Veolia Transport Houdan on lines  2, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 13 at webpage

Things to see here are the Castle ,Château-fort de Montfort ,built in the 11C by Simon 1er de Montfort on a hill 185 meters high ( 611 ft) with a view over Chartres to Beauvais at the entrance of the forest, and destroyed during the 100 years war and only the ruins  of the donjon/tower exist today call the tower or Tour Anne de Bretagne.  Church or Eglise St Pierre,old church  built in 1050AD  of  huge size for a small town ,ordered built a new by Anne de Bretagne by 1491AD it has wonderful stained glass that you can at its official webpage   .A cementary of the  15C and 16C surrounded by galeries looking like a cloister; some of the personalities resting here are Duchesse de Chârost, Comte de la Boïssière-Chambors, Comte de Dion, Céleste Albaret (governess house maid of Marcel Proust), Germaine Beaumont, Danny Robin, and Georges Marchal .  The house now museum of Maurice Ravel (music composer creator of Bolero )  call the  Belvédère, a mansion from the 20C at the foot of the ruins of the donjon/tower looking down on the town. Maurice Ravel lived here from 1921 to his death in 1937. Admission is 7.30€ adults see the special webpage here  . And the Chateau de Groussay at rue de Versailles just outside of town,built in 1820 but made as sumptuous as today from 1938. It is typically Chinese inspired portraits and fabrications with sculptures by the architect of Cuban origin Emilio Terry and painting inside by Alexandre Serebriakoff. It has about 30 vases all over a nice garden, with stables, and it is still a private property but open to the public, admission is 15€ castle and gardens ;webpage In the town there is an old house where Cuban/French teacher Jose Maria de Heredia lived for a while ,it is at Rue de la Môitiére just off Place Robert Brault.

After seeing the above, the best way is to walk its quaint medieval streets, it has the feel of being in another era,and it is just wonderful. The walk up towards the Castle and the tower has wonderful views over the city, and it is just superb.  The walk along the ramparts of the 11C its great all along a garden and looking up at the city above it. Again lodging are plentyful in small properties that you can look at the tourist office, I have no experience here as it is my backyard! However , passing by and seeing the history with it, the hotel Saint Laurent looks wonderful the webpage is here  For eating the marvelous street Rue Saint Laurent just in front of the church St Pierre at place de la Liberation ; great at Bistrot des Tours,great bruschettas at 3 place de la Liberation, webpage , and La Place,7 place de la Liberation for great grills ,no web, Tél. +33 01 34 86 01 30 .

Try to take home or eat on site along the donjon park the chocolates of Chocolatiers Le Show Colha , 48 rue de Paris, a chocolate box completely cover in chocolate with small pieces of chocolate inside, life a gift box! webpage

The tourist office is on the city of Montfort l’Amaury webpage in French, ,you can contact the tourist office for the Yvelines dept at or the Ile de France region tourist webpage at

Have a great deep Yvelines trip and still not far from Versailles! Cheers



March 30, 2011

Some news from France XXXII

Well the rain came back last night and today is back to sunny and cloudy periods, temps are seasonal spring so nice, the perfect time to visit France !

The Woody Allen New Orleans Jazz band is coming with the cineaste in tow. It will be April 2ne at the Grand Rex 75002, webpage

The new hotel Shangri-la is making its sounds around Paris already with a grand restaurant inside, L’Abeille or the Bees.It will be specialise in French cuisine with seafood at its main best. I did not eat but was there yesterday and the service and staff are very pros and friendly, something to keep in mind. Webpage

And plenty of culinary action to help support the people of Japan in their disasters, many around Paris but per Le Figaro these are tops, Bistrot Paul-Bert , 18, rue Paul-Bert (75011) special dinner on April 4 all proceeds to Japanese Red Cross.  The Bar Lindbergh at the Hotel Radisson Blu ,16, bd Haussmann, (75009) will have a drink cocktail name Hope or (yuzu,jasmin and rose)  with 60% of sale price going to the Japan Red Cross, the drink cost 10€ all during the month of April. Until April 9 the Cafe de la Paix , Place de l’Opéra, (75009) will give for each breakfast buffet ordered 5€  to the Embassy of Japan who is charge of giving aid. Finally many restaurants  like the Pére Fouettard (75001), Chez Eux (75007), Flottes (75001),L’Evasion (75008…)  are mobilising on the side of Chef Hisayuki Takeuchi of the Maison Kaiseki, 7 rue André-Lefebvre (75015)  to collect funds for the victims. 

For relaxation in Paris ,La Voie du tai-chi   will have it Vice Champion of Europe give courses at al levels in the Jardin du Luxembourg, webpage . By the blvd de la Villette the Centre Génération Tao  offers courses see webpage , by rue St Jacques on the 5th the Rasa Yoga Rive Gauche  offers courses as well with webpage

If you are stress in Paris what? well some do, Be Relax offers relaxation exercises and massages with English speaking personnel ,webpage , and for help carrying those small children no need to break your back ,try Familib with webpage

If you want a day to relax with a great view of Paris come to the parc des Buttes-Chaumont (75019) was around there last week and it is superb. The view with a pause at Rosa Bonheur2, allée de la Cascade, webpage at , the climb to the Temple de la Sibylle . The view over Paris is romantically gorgeous at the top of the île du Belvédère, however be prepare in summer heat to have a large crowd there.

A place for arts, see the  Monet-Rodin duo while walking the marvelous gardens of the Musée Rodin ,the go inside to see the manuscripts, documents, and portraits/busts that associate these two great men, the painter and the sculptor friends.Musée Rodin, 79, rue de Varenne (75007). Until May 1 2011.

Something dear to me the price of real estate is going up and up in France, and especially on the Paris region. The average rental is 17,8€ per sq meter in ile de France Paris region. while only 10,30€ in Aquitaine, and 12,30€ in the cote d’azur. The price of buying property is over the roof in Paris with the 6éme at 11120€ per sq meter, 4éme 10500€, 5éme 9530€, 1éme 9410€ ,8éme 9030€, and my beloved 16éme only at 8430€ per sq meter. A rise of 21% from 2009-2010. These couple with a slight rise in the fees of Notaires or notary public that here handle the real estate transaction of from 0 to 6500€ 4%, 6500-17000€ 1,65%, 17000-60000€ 1,10%, and over 60000€ 0,825%. 

France tied Croatia in a friendly soccer/football match yesterday, and Spain beat Lithuania for the European Championshiop qualifier 1X3 in Kaunas. Real Madrid beat Valencia in the European basketball championship quarter finals, so its ahead 2 games to 1.

Ok last for sure, I will be in Fontainebleau this coming thursday ,work details but wife is not working so we will be having our day there in her native soil neighborhood. Cheers

%d bloggers like this: