Archive for May 11th, 2011

May 11, 2011

A walk by the Tuileries area of Paris

I am back and what a better way to have a walk in Paris. Many come for exciting and impressive buildings and expositions, but to me the real beauty of Paris lies in its streets and architectures, the bohemian look at the places, the wrinkle in the eye, and the km of wonderful walk in street or garden areas.

One of my favorites of all time is the Jardin des Tuileries, and would like to take you on a tour around and close to it. Sit back and enjoy Paris ::)

It was the grand desing of king Henri IV who wanted to link the Louvre to the Palais des Tuileries (today gone but we are working to rebuilt identical one).  It is 27 hectares or 66.7acres) full of history and beauty.

In or around it ,you have the Carrousel  was in honor of the son of king Louis XIV of which a great feast was held here with a horse race. It was eventually done as an arch bhy Napoleon I in 1806 to celebrate his victory at Austerlitz in 1805. It has similar tracing to the arch of Septime Sévere in Rome.  The wonderful Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.

Right at its Marsan wing of the Louvre museum you have from 1905 the musée des Arts Décoratifs,(you know there is more than one museum at the Louvre ::)) It has 9 levels of exhibition showing work from the middle ages to our days. Objects from Sévres and Meissen as well as a room from the hôtel de Serres of the 18C. In the Pavillon Marsan (the one link to the previous palais des tuileries) you have two more museums; In the first and second floor you have the musée de la Mode et du Textile, fashion and fabric museum with dresses going back to the 14C. At the third floor you have the Musée de la Publicité or marketing/commercials. Dont missed to see in the second floor (3fl US) the galerie des Bijoux or about 800 pieces of jewerly of the best creators from the world over.

Descend now to the glorious gardens ,Jardin des Tuileries, it look like in the 17C all reminders of the Second Empire period (Napoleon III) . They look just like André Le Notre the gardener envision it.  It was shortly on july 1559 after the sudden death of king Henri II that his wife Catherine de Médicis orderd build a palace, work begain in 1564 on the verge of the old tuileries (this was a roof tile maker outfit on the bank of the river Seine in the middle ages, the tiles were use for the Louvre and others, then it disappeared to make room for the palace and garden hence the name Tuileries =rooftiles). The garden at its time was considered the prettiest in the West, done 500 by 300 meters (1650 x990 feet). So  in 1789 king Louis XVI left Versailles for this palace. it was the seat of the royals in the restauration period and the second empire periods. Napoleon III ordered built two building at the west of the garden, the Orangerie (1853) and Jeu de Paume (1862). In March 28 ,1871 the communard set fire on the palace des tuileries and the city of Paris razed it down in 1883. Now you see the terrace between the building or pavillon FLore and Marsan that link it to the Louvre.

You come out into the Grand carré, geometric parcels of garden in the central alley and two small fountains on the sides. It is here that was the center of Le Notre ‘s garden. The tree lined part is the Grand Couvert with some sculptures including bronzes by Rodin,the Grand Bassin or fountain is surrounded by sculptures as it was in Le Notre’s time as well.  As mentioned there you ,also, have two wonderful museum such as the Orangerie done in 1922 to house the Nympheas of Monet; at the end of the tour in the museum you will see a piece of the old wall of Paris from the 16C call the yellow wells or fossés jaunes. At the Jeu de Paume you see comtemporary arts exhibits.

At the south of the jardin des tuileries you will see the new passarelle Léopold Sédar Senghor(old pont de sulferino) , a bridge of 106 meters (350 feet)  allowing pedestrians to go from the museum of Louvre to the Orsay. At this side is the museum of the Legion of Honor or Musée de la Légion d’Honneur, once you descend to it by the river side you are in the old port des tuileries that replace that of the port du Louvre of the middle ages. Right underneath the passarelle next to the river, you have a grill doors against the wall that remind you of the passage in the “les misérables”. At the other extreme you have the Pont de la Concorde (1791) that was widen from 14 meters to 35 meters in 1931. passing under the bridge you the river bergers that goes to the level of the quai de la conference or the cours de la reine began here at the southwest angle of the place de la Concorde.

Entering the garden from the pl de la concorde you will see right away the equetrian statue of Coysevox brough from Marly-le-roi (78) in 1719. These are imitations the original ones are in the Louvre.  By your left going in,you see statues by Paul Belmondo (brother of actor Jean Paul Belmondo) and a statue of Charles Perrault because it was this famous actor of children stories who we owe the opening of the jardin des tuileries to the public.

Do you know the pyramide du Louvre done by the Architect IM Pei in 1988 has 21,65 meters high(71.4 ft) , with a base of 34,50 meters of side (113.9 ft) assembling 673 glass tiles and triangles of glass of 2,1 cm thick( 5.3 inches)that needed two years of study by Saint Gobain(glass maker).

I dont have to tell you about the Musée du Louvre,,,,, or the wonderful Louvre des Antiquaires where the Grands Magasin or stores of the Louvre were founded in 1906. Today it houses about 206 stores. You can come out on the other side and see the wonderful church of St Germain l’Auxerrois fromt he 7C,and 12C, and last from the 15C. It was the church of the valois kings and then of the artists such as Le Vau, Gabriel, Coysevox, etc.  the Belltower gave the signal for the Saint Barthelemy the 23 august of 1572. And right next to it is the Clinique du Louvre ,yes a health clinic very good, my father was care there very well , succesful surgery lol!!!

Right around the corner of the rue marengo and rivoli you will see the Oratoire du Louvre, a chapel done  in 1616, it was royal and was added to the Louvre compound by king Louis XIII, bishop Bossuet (the eagle of Meaux) came to pray here. It is not under the reformist church since Napoleon I allow it. The Palais Royal is magnificent, done by 1629 as it was first call the Palais Cardinal as per Richelieu and from 1633 the actual name of today. It houses the Council of State,and the ministry of Culture but it has wonderful gardens and many nice shops to rest and think the beauty around you .It is under renovation now with scaffolds around it but still beautfiful ::)

Here you can indulge in my favorite cafe, the Cafe L’Imperiale at Rivoli. the new found Indiana Cafe by the forum ,rue Berger (former Le Clovis), Le Nemours (by palais royal) , and the one directly associated with the jardin des tuileries such as Café Renard, brasserie in the kiosque on the southwest of the garden and open every day as the garden, Tél +33 01 42 96 50 56. webpage Café Reale, resto with Italian cuisine on the kiosque of the northwest. Open same as garden . Tél +33 01 42 96 63 03. webpage . Café Diane, light resto and modern located in the kiosque of the northeast; Tel +33 01 42 96 81 12. La Terrasse de Pomone, simple resto of crêpes, ice creams, and snacks on the kiosque of the southeast to eat on site or take home . Tél +33  01 42 61 22 14. Dammann’s, ice cream maker master with nice drinks and cold ices, the boutique is facing the octagonal bassin or fountain , open the same hours as garden from april to october.

Have a great walk in my favorite parks of Paris. Cheers.


May 11, 2011

The Frontier of the Pyrénées mountains

They form a magnificent natural barrier of two wonderful countries which I love very much. I am from both ,and have or are living in one.  Not to mention of the picturesque Andorra. They run for about 430 kms or 267 miles along the border. The highest peak is the Aneto at  3 404 meters or 11 233 feet. 

The have over 4500 species of flora including 160 that are natives and hundred of thousands of fauna including over 300 species of butterflies.  You have many parks in the geography of the chain with the most famous to be the Parc National des Pyrénées , the parc National d’Aigûestortes, and Lake Saint Maurice at Encantats in France as well as the Parque Nacional de Ordessa, and Parque National del Monte Perdido in Spain. to these you have the adjacent parks such as the Parc Naturel Régional des Pyrénées Catalanes and the Parc Naturel Régional Pyrénées Ariégeoises.

Some of the historical dates that created, contained ,and enhance this wonderful area are noted below, history buffs go at it ::)

1213 Battle of Muret, victory of Simon de Montfort over a coalitions of Occitans lords, and death of king Peter II of Aragon who had a project to unite in a big State the occitano-Aragonais people.

1258 signature of Treaty of de Corbeil, established the frontiers between France and Aragon by Corbiéres and Capcir.

1276 creation of the kingdom of Majorca based at Perpignan.

1288 Signature by the Bishop of Urgell and the Count of Foix for the co -Principality of Andorra.

1344 king Peter IV of Aragon annexed the Roussillon and Cerdagne with the frontier limit at Pas de Salses.

1375 establishement of the Junta of Roncal, creating laws for the passages in the valleys of Roncal (Aragon) and Barétous (Béarn). 1419 bishop of Urgell authorised the creation of the Autonomous council of Andorrans.

1462 Treaty of Bayonne, king John 11 of Aragon  (the Faithless) gives the counties of Cerdagne and Roussillon to king Louis XI of France, these counties were gain back by Spain in 1493. 1512 kings of Aragon take over the high Navarra region and the Catalan possessions of the family of Foix-Béarn, the low Navarra remains French.

1607 annexation of Béarn and Navarra to the crown of France thanks to king Henry III of Navarra, which became king Henri IV of France in 1589.

1641 Treaty of Peronne, the king of France ,Louis XIII becames the new count of Barcelona, Roussillon ,and Cerdagne. 1642 Perpignan  surrenders to French troops of king Louis XIII. 1649 French troops occupies the Valley of Aran.

1652 The French leave Barcelona and renounce possession of Catalunya. 1659 Treaty of the Pyrénées on the ile of Faisans in Basque country is signed between France and Spain. 1660 the French and Spanish redraw the map to arrange for the frontiers of the two countries,and by 1663-66 the restitution of lands taken on both sides is given to owners .

1674 conspiration at Villefranche-de-Conflent and Perpignan in favor of the Spanish, and the Spanish forces entered the Roussillon. 1678 The French army goes into Cerdagne and destroy Puigcerdà, peace is signed between France and Spain again. 1784 creation of the Commission International Caro-d’Ornano to cartographier the region and fix limits of boundary, interrupted for the war in 1792.

1790 creation of the French departments of Basses-Pyrénées(Pyrénées Atlantique after 1969), Hautes Pyrénées, Haute Garonne,Ariége,Aude,and Pyrénées Orientales. 1793-1795 Spain entered in war against the French revolution.  1808-1813 passage of Napoleonic troops by the mountains in the Pyrénées towards conquering Spain (later repulse by the Spaniards in what they call Day of Independance May 2,and immortalised in paintings by Goya)

1856 first line of treaties to fix the boundaries again signed at Bayonne, the frontier is fix from the ocean to the table des trois rois. 1862 second treaty of limits fixing the frontier from table de trois rois to port de boet. 1866 third treaty of limits fixing frontier from Portella Blanca to the Mediterranean. 1868 Final act of  the frontier with 600 bornes place along the mountains along the edge of the La Bidasoa to Cap Cerbére, and 45 bornes around the village of Llivia in French cerdagne. 1875 Creation of the International commission on limits or Commission of the Pyrénées that is in charge to enforce the boundary limits.

1912 opening of the train tunnel at Somport in the Valley of the Aspé (Béarn). 1928 opening of train station at Canfranc (Aragon) linking Toulouse with Barcelona.

1939 opening of French borders to thousands upon thousands of Spaniards fleeing the dictatorship of Franco in Spain.1944 Franco builts the Linea P a line of bunkers over 450 kms (279 miles) to protect Spain from a French invasion. 1946-1948 closing of the Spanish borders. 1949 the commission of the Pyrénées meeting in Madrid ordered the counting of the bornes and lining of the frontiers as per the 19C drawing that had disappeared.

1970 closing of the railroad line between Bedous and Canfranc, and reduced over the portion Pau-Oloron-Sainte-Marie from 1980. 1973 France and Spain signed treaty to fix the frontiers, name delegates to enforce the limits, and the maintenance of  it.

1976 Opening of the first automobile tunnel between the two countries ,the tunnel of Bielsa-Aragnouet between the Valleys of Aure (Haute Pyrénées) and Cinca (Aragon). 1985 signing of the first Schengen agreement ratify by France and Spain in 1990. 1986 Spain entered the European Union. 1993 Customs postes are eliminated in the frontier. 1998 Hendaye,Irun and Hondarribia form the first agglomeration of the region in the UE, name the consorcio bidasoa-Txingudi.

2003 opening of the Tunnel of Somport (and I try it first yes!!!) . 2007-2009 piercing of the TGV tunnel for the line Perpignan Barcelona that should be operational by 2013!

Some webpages of reading material. The Pyrénées tourism at Ski info also great in the Pyrénées at

The parc naturel in French side :the lakes on both sides in Spanish, French

guide of the Pyrénées in Spanish, ,and the official Commission of the Pyrenees and a wonderful family site on lodging,eating ,mountaneers etc the world of the pyrenees in Spanish, . This is in addition to the normal tourist sites for each autonomous region or department with contact with the Pyrénées or Pirineos. I have another post on my passing by here with my wife once, the rest have been solo, and always by car.

Enjoy the mountains. Cheers

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