Archive for March, 2012

March 31, 2012

A city by the canal, Vannes

Yes lots of old narrow cobblestones streets, gorgeous wooden houses, great Cathedral, wonderful old castle ruins and beautiful ramparts, not to mention great Breton food. But the main reason people come to this place, is the canal. Its the happening place in Vannes.

Today as I was walking about searching to eat,on the city where I work, visiting amazing hehehe.. I saw tents about promoting the agglo metro area of Vannes and encouraging businesses to relocate here. Which I second is not a bad idea, work performance will improve surrounded by such beautiful way of life. The city tourist office official webpage is at http://www.tourisme-vannes.com/en

One of the secrets of the city, is the parc Kérino. This is a walkers park, sitting on a butte or hill overlooking the last stretch before the canal opens up to the gulf passenger boat terminal. There is a bridge and tunnel to be built here to alliviate traffic of boats and people crossing the canal. Here you have great views over the bay,gulf and city, as well as a wonderful cross calvary of Kérino; you can go crossing the canal into the area of the naval builder Le Pennec or from the city at rue Kerviler.  On the cross, there is a Christ surrounded by Saint Vincent and Sain Patern, attached by a log where you see the arms of the city of Vannes (hermite stout,symbol of Brittany done with a crown of 3 towers, symbol of the fortified city of Vannes). Behind the cross, you see the Virgen with the Enfant Jesus. This monument was done by cisseling the stones by sculptor  Yves Hernot de Lannion , and was erected in 1913  in memory of the renewing missions of the eucharism of 1906, and  1910 to which that of 2004 was added.

We did ate at the Capitanerie building or Marina Captain’s office, on top there is a cafe resto, à l’Aise Breizh Café, lovely place, great enthusiastic service, nice to see the harbor and city from above,gorgeous terrace, the prices are good, and the food terrific, we had Breizh burgers ,huge ones, with fries, banana splits, and plougastel ice cream and strawberry sauce, a bottle of Provençal rosé wine, and table water for 63 € for 3.  Also at Brest, here is the webpage in French, local and good, http://www.alaisebreizhcafe.com/alaisebreizhcafevannes.htm

They ,also, carry a line of Breton clothing, for the house, tables, souvenirs, decorations etc etc,  very good for the entire family at reasonable prices,one to come back too lol!!!  have webpage in directions, near the covered market and cathedral in city center Vannes, http://www.alaisebreizh.com/?option=com_albrevendeurs&view=boutik&id=13   if you go top to Boutik en ligne will bring you to the store section and you can see what they have.

I took some pictures of the surrounding area, as we still looking around our new surrounding, so much to see in the Morbihan department not to mention the region of Brittany or Bretagne or Breizh will be a long tour…. Of course we ended our day at the FNAC store for DVD, tapes,and video games as usual.  Cheers to all and have a wonderful rest of weekend.

March 28, 2012

Nostalgic Madrid, to heaven and a hole on the sky to look down on it every day!

Yes; something I need to write about. I lived in Madrid from 1970-1974, there other times other periods, harder times for all. However, my love for the city has not waned n all this year. I am an appreciated person, and remember kindly all the good times of my life. Madrid is part of it.

When a young boy I had the inmense luck of playing for the Real Madrid organisation, first in baseball then in football/soccer. Real Madrid has remained my team of my life, Hala Madrid to all!!!

I used to lived at Calle Alcala ,331; 2do A, buzon 67 Madrid, right by the exit of metro line 5 Quintana corner with Argentina. Many memories too intense to write all about it. I came from one dictatorship to another, and it was tough. We were dissidents in both right or left, they are not good.

While there, to go play baseball we went to the field at the Parque de la Elipa, no metro then, just by bus, the P13, it was a glorious ride of youth chasing the girls going to the park as a means of entertainement in those days. http://www.clubdeportivos.com/club-deportivo.php?clubdeportivo=centro%20deportivo%20municipal%20la%20elipa&id=260

I left Madrid for the USA , where I spent most of my life. After many years, I try to remember the bus line and had in my mind the P13. However, Madrid and Spain had change ,for the better. The bus line was no longer there,and could not find it. Then ,yesterday trying to find information on the general strike in the city tomorrow http://www.rtve.es/noticias/huelga-general/ i stumbled into a wiki page that talk about a bus line 113. Well to my surprise this bus line 113 is the new number for the P13 after the creation of the Madrid bus system EMT!!! wikipedia page http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%ADnea_113_(EMT_Madrid)

And then went on to the official EMT webpage, http://www.emtmadrid.es/Servicios/lineas.aspx?mapaFiltro=11311&mapaX=444565&mapaY=4474304

It is amazing that I found it, after so many years, now that I know the numbers change, maybe I can have some fun looking up old bus lines while I was living there lol!! The P13 was nice, now the service of the 113 is even larger, and there is even a metro Elipa now there.

So glad Elipa is advancing, and glad the old P13 is still alive in the 113. Madrid to heavens and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day! Hala Madrid!! We won in Europa ,we should be easily in the semifinals of the Champions league and still in first place in the Liga by 6 points, ye ye ye!!

March 28, 2012

Stories of Versailles, yes there is a castle here!

I have live almost 9 years here, and love it. Most come to Paris, many think is an annex to Paris, but this is Versailles, royal, grand, historic, the foundation of a Nation. Here when the French constitution needs to be discussed ,changed, amended, all the French parliamenet and President must move here by constitutional law, and Versailles becomes a de facto Capital of France, last happenned in 2009. The Nation started here.

It has many attributes, friendlier, smaller, nice, beautiful architecture, lots of history all around  you, royal and republican, but it ,also, has a castle. What a castle, I considered the most beautiful in the world, and many were try and done copying it. Nothing of this magnitude has ever been done. Thanks to king Louis Philippe that seeing history goes to nothing, had the brilliant idea of converting it into a museum! as he said, FOR THE GLORY OF FRANCE, So in 1837, the castle became the museum, and the story began for all of us. I got caught up in this museum magna, the most beautiful of them all. A bit of stories, mine.

First you see the statue of Louis XIV on a horse,  done in 1836! but the mount comes from Louis XVI that his brother Louis XVIII wanted to have in the center of the pl de la Concorde in Paris then also call place Louis XVI  instead the statue was transferred here to honor under Louis XIV the great builder of Versailles,and the first you see upon coming to the castle. The moment you walk up to it you see pave stones roads, six alignements of pave stones, to welcome the king and guest to castle; nothing could come here than by invitation of the king, once past it you see the cour de marbre or marble courtyard, done by 1681, and elevated a bit in 1678 to give it a clock crown on top middle of the square, and the windows expanded to 7. Around this clock you have Hercules and Mars figures, and an eagle representing defeated nations of Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire during the war of Holland. You see a hydra snake representing the Grand Alliance raised to combat France, and a bull symbol of glorious pass over the Rhine in 1672.  You have the statues in the cour de marbre representing Africa and America on the south side of it, facing the Asia and Europe on the other side. Here too you find on the facades of the cour de marbres 84 busts done in 1685, after heroes of antiquities such as Marc Antony,Jules Cesar,Constantine, etc. Here you see the Cour des Cerfs et Degré du Roi, intimite spacesof Louis XV, it has three floors invisible from the cour des marbres or the cour royale, it serves to do libraries, cabinets rooms, and dining rooms for Louis XV could received his intimes friends. There was a dining room in the 3rd floor opening into vast terraces,and on 1754 a stair degré du roi was done to access the apartments of the royal guards from the cour royale.

But , lets go inside, ok. The wonderful Salon de Mars, see the wonderful painting, La Famille de Darius aux pieds d’Alexandre (1660) with the eyes of Louis XIV at Chateau de Fontainebleau done by Charles Le Brun, who had done Vaux-le-Vicomte,and  also did the galerie d’Apollon at Louvre and considered the best French painter of the 17C.See the marble floors between the Salon de Mars and Salon de Diane in the Grand Appartement du roi; known as the Versailles style parquets, done first in 1684 by Jules Hardouin-Mansart.  on the ceiling of the Salon d’Apollon see the Apollon conduisant le char du soleil (1671-1678) just to imitate the father in law known in Spain as the planet king, so Louis XIV (married to Spanish queen Maria Thérese or in Spanish Maria Teresa, and where all Spanish bourbons kings descend today such as Juan Carlos I) . Move on to the same salon de Diane to see the work on the doors by the stairs de Maréchaux ,see the reliefs on the doors, the stairs was destroyed in 1752, the reliefs stayed on.  It is now a small replica there and copy at the Chateau d’Herrenchiemsee in Germany.

At the north wing, on the rooms of the 17C, you see the great courts of the portraits of woman of the court of Louis XIV; It is the room of beauties done in 1663, such as the duchess of La Valliére, Henriette of England, Princesse  de Soubise or Princess of Monaco, Marie Mancini, or Anne Marie Martinozzi. Lovely indeed. At the cour de l’Hymen by the stair of the queen you see a trophy en metal cover with copper and lead, showing the marriage of Louis XIV to his cousin Marie-Thérese d’Austria to reconcile the quarrels between France and Spain done at St Jean de Luz in signing the treaty of the Pyrénées in 1659. You see the fatality of queens at the ceilings of the antichambre d grand couvert, grand appartement de la reine ,gorgeous. Go on to the first antichambre du roi done in 1686, vast and beautiful.

The magnificent galerie des glaces done in 1681-1684, with 73 meters long and a canopy of almost 1000 square meters, as well as the ceilings of the salon de l’Abondance, grand appartement du roi. Here see the wonderful office cabinet furniture done in 1708. See the Salon de l’oeil de Boeuf, on the second antichambre in the appartement du roi; white ceilings done in 1701 but richly decorated along the walls. See the wonderful bedroom of Louis XIV at the appartement du roi. Here the king died on Sept 1st, 1715 after 60 years of reign.

There is a big oval encrusted painting showing Louis XV offrering peace to Europe in 1729 in the Salon de la Paix(peace) that follows the Salon de la Guerre(war) to the Grand Appartements. You,also, see the calendars for the anniversaires of the chapel of the king, see at the Sacristie des Musiciens near the tribunes of the chapel done by 1770. You can see the bedroom of Louis XV by the interior appartement du roi,the king uses it from age 27,and he died there May 10, 1774, Louis XVI continue its use, one of the places in the castle where few could entered.

See the wonderful dining room or salle à manger des retours de chasse in the interior appartement du roi; done in 1750 and held until 1769 the diners after his returns from hunting.  There is a nice room call the Cabinet de l’appartement de Madame de Pompadour, in the small appartement du roi in the attic, on top of the salon de la guere. Here many rdv was held by the king and woman including putting here Mme de Pompadour,(real name Jeanne Antoinette Poisson), entered in the courts of Versailles in 1745, and lived her first five years in the castle here, she even had a small chapel  once becoming a duchesse in 1752, she takes a jesuist as confessor in 1756, and while she was sick the king allows her to finish here in 1764, the only person of non royal blood to died in the castle, the king later said, ” Here is all the honors that I can give her, a friend of 20 years”.

You can see the library, in the appartement du Dauphin, or heir to the throne,  done in 1750, served for he of Louis XV and Louis XVI. The Grand Dauphin died at 49 in 1711 four years before Louis XIV while his son Philippe V or Felipe V ascend to the throne of Spain. You can see a wonderful pending clock  or the pendule astronomique de passemant (1730-1740) at the Cabinet de la Pendule, interior appartement du roi.  Given to the royal academy of sciences in 1749 it put here by Louis XV in 1754. It is programmable to be used until 9999! At the time it gave the time in the kingdom of France. You can see the library and bathroom of Madame du Barry, petit appartement du roi (second floor french ,3rd floor US), before becoming the favorite of king Louis XV, she was a saleslady in a boutique n the rue saint honoré de Paris. Louis XV keeps her at the age of 25 when she came to lived in the castle. In kicking out Madame du Barry by Louis XVI he takes over the room and you now see the Grand Cabinet in the appartement du Comte de Maurepas, the advisor to king Louis XVI not a good one after his bad advice Versailles came from being the birthplace of the monarchy to its tomb.

Another favorite is the Salle à manger des Porcelaines, or porcelain dining room.  It was the last dining room used by Louis XV  after his hunting runs, and later became a formal dining room under Louis XVI;its in the interior appartement du roi.  Another favorite item is the chandelier or imperiale du lit de Marie Antoinette n the bedroom of the queen. The room has been done exactly as the last day the queen use it on October 6, 1789. Furniture is from 1787 and the bed is from 1769 all renovated. Just think here 19 royal children of France including Louis XV ,and Felipe V of Spain were born. Come to see the Cabinet Doré , interior cabinets of the queen, done in 1783, one of the most beautiful piece of the queen, the harp was done in 1774.

There is a passage from the bedroom of the queen(chambre de la reine)  and the Salon de l’oeil de Boeuf; early on October 6, 1789 the queen was awaken by a large noise, the Parisiens arrives, the Salles des Gardes there was havoc, the room ladies help Marie Antoinette opening the small door to the left of her bed,and she takes leaves by the passages that led to the bedroom of the king. They met there in the passages, while the crowds gather at the cour des marbres and invades the castle. From the king’s bedroom (chambre du roi), La Fayette( he who help the US independance as lafayette) and a few granadiers battle the insurgents protecting the royals ,while they arrive at the salon de l’Oeil de Boeuf. They needed to leave Versailles…

You come to another of my favorites, the Galerie des Batailles or the battle gallery, at the central wing or aile du midi, (1 floor or 2nd Fl US) You see 16 paintings in bronce done from 1834-1836 with engraving of 528 names: 36 princes of the royal house, 10 admirals, 6 connatables,25 mariscals, 33 warriors,18 commanders, and 400 officers dead in combat for France. It describes the military history from Clovis to Napoleon, with 92 busts and 33 paintings of famous battles including the famous USA battle for indepedance at Yorktown.  See the magnificent Porte de l’Hospice des Chevaliers de Saint Jean de Jerusalem; at the salles des Croisades, the door is sculpture in cedar wood and bath of bronze from Rhodes Greece dating from 1512! ,from 1837-1839 the room was embellished with 150 paintings representing the period of the crusades.  Right around there, see the stair or Escalier de l’attique Chimay, to go to the attic Chimay, that extend the one of the queen done during the time of Louis XIV, but the king Louis Philippe, does from 1833-1837 true marble of colors and dust with a paste that gives the impression of seeing glass. The lady in room of Marie Antoinette was to have live here  14 years but actually stayed in the attic of the central wing just behind the glasses of the galerie des batailles/ So her name princess of Chimay,Laure-Auguste de Fitz-James who never lived here but the name stayed on. See the sculptures des Grands Hommes de France, galerie de Pierre, north wing 1 fl or aile nord. four galleries of stones, done in 1776 for the grand galerie du louvre but by Louis XVI here. The project of a museum to the great man of France is the idea of the assamblée Générale that in 1791 starts the Central Museum of the Arts, and on 1797 Versailles welcome the special museum of the French School of Arts. The most remarkable of the statues sculpture here is that made in marble of Joanne d’Arc done by Marie d’Orléans second daughter of the king Louis Philippe done in 1837.

The French republic is ,also,here, the aile du midi or the middle wing served until 1958 to hold the National elections to hold the parlamentarians that came here to name a President of France.  You see the mongrams FF as not to confused the R with the republican party of France, see it at the corniche de la Salle du Congrés du Parlement de Versailles, aile d midi or middle wing. Same wing, see the Pavillon de Provence, the Bureau or cabinet du Président du Congrés or e l’Investiture. The old salon of the countess of Provence came to be under the IV République Française the working office of the president of the National Assembly or Assamblée Nationale. From the 1879 to 1953 14 presidents of  France were elected here! Now is the lieu of work when the French constitution needs revision,changes or amenmends.

I hope you enjoy my favorites, the property is huge , for all tastes, see the main webpage here http://www.chateauversailles.fr/homepage  to know about events at the castle check this official site http://www.chateauversailles-spectacles.fr/   and more of it from the Versailles tourist office http://www.versailles-tourisme.com/en/discoveries/heritage-palace-city/muste-sees/versailles-palace.html  and my photos.

March 27, 2012

Some news from France LXV

We have many things to tell you about France, and Paris, and Versailles and well, all of them are a movable feast indeed!!!

One near me that I have been once, and will have promise to come back is the Institut Franco-Americaine de Rennes, where they will have American artists in Pont-Aven then and now :: conférence Thursday April 12 at 18h30 in English.  The importance of Pont-Aven in the artistic development of Gauguin is well known.  Less known is the fact that this village in Brittany was an artist colony created by American artists 20  years before Gauguin arrived !  Who were these artists and what did they create there ?  When Americans returned to Pont-Aven as teachers and art students at the Pont-Aven School of Contemporary Art, they were now the avant-garde, while Gauguin’s work is accepted and revered.  How are these artists reacting today to the same history and beauty of Pont-Aven so admired for 150 years; by Caroline Boyle-Turner,she has an Ph.D. Columbia University in Art History. She has created the Pont-Aven School of Contemporary Art where she was the Director from 1994 to 2008, and continue a career of conference lecturer. Free admission information at +33  02 99 79 89 23 | contact@ifa-rennes.org  if you want to know more about the Institute, sponsored by the US embassy in France, see the webpage http://www.ifa-rennes.org/index.php?lang=en

New rules for the train travelers in France by SNCF the French railroad company. For those traveling in TGV and InterCités trains, first change will allow the traveler which the departure is cancelled or delay by more than an hour to have a proposal given, or reimbourse in cash if so wishes ,this is including the tickets that were originally purchased non remboursable as the Prem’s.In addition, the guarantee will be given even if the delayed or cancellation is not the fault of the SNCF. The other novelty is the clients without a seat given for the trajects of more than 1h30  will be replace by the onboard chief inspector including those in first class and given a discount coupon for the next trip going from  10-30 euros. All these two innovation will take effect by the end of this month or first of April. 

and my train station of old the gare Saint Lazare is having  a new look!!! 10 000 square meters full of shops, with 80 boutiques and hours open until 21h even 22h In the old room the Salle des pas perdus, the new hall has a glass gallery of 200 meters long; the work allows for 3 addtional floors, at the metro level and two more of parking to welcome 250 cars !!!yes!!! and 50 motos. The passenger information will be provided with 300 tv screens. This train station welcome about 450 000 passengers per day and almost 1600 trains. This is the second highest frequency in Europe just behind the other Parisien station ,gare du Nord. I mentioned in previous post a Burger King will open there too ,a first in France and comeback of the chain to France.

Enjoy the Art Fair at the Grand Palais, the art event of the year missed again, 120 international galleries on tap from March 29th to April 1st 2012 see it all here http://www.artparis.fr/2012/fr/

Another apartment site in Paris CobbleStay, for your lodging pleasure, check it out here http://www.cobblestay.com/?loc=interstitialskip

And yet another to live like a Parisien, and lodging plus private tours, Rue Amandine, http://www.rueamandine.com/

An American n Paris for private tours and walks of the city ,Michael Osman, check it out at http://web.me.com/parisfind/Discover_Paris/About_Me.html

This I have reported before the IN place in Paris now by a new neighborhood to tourist the 19th . I was there when it was being constructed by the impulse of the folks at St Christopher’s nearby hostal. See the activities at the La Rotonde Place Stalingrad 6-8, place de la Bataille,    Stalingrad, Paris,75019 and the webpage http://www.larotonde.com/

And in French my favorite paper guide of Paris, and also online The l’officiel des Spectacles, see the site here http://www.offi.fr/  events, concerts, theaters, restaurants ,cinema, art, all the wonders of Paris in one little magazine, you can purchase at any tabac kiosk or maison de la presse.

Sad news need to post here asap, the poney club at the jardin d’acclimatation in Paris is going to close.My kids rode there when little, so sad to read in the Le Parisien newspaper that a company that runs it part of the group LMVH has decided to close the club. !!! It already had 600 members, 12 employees,45 poneys and 4 horses, there since 1997. Sad story.

Last but not least, a wonderful site to see all the subways,metros,and tubes of the world including Paris bien sur,http://www.amadeus.net/home/new/subwaymaps/en/

Enjoy Paris, France, and all French ::)

March 26, 2012

Versailles, a lot more than a castle

As I was saying, this is the town I live for almost 9 years, and officially still there although now in Brittany in transition. The 99,99%  of folks coming over do so to see the palace or Chateau de Versailles, actually the Domaine de Versailles as it includes other buildings than the castle. However, there is a lot more to see in the City of Versailles.

This is the place where any changes to the French constitution must take place, any amendments needs to be carry out here.The entire French government is move here including the President, last was in 2009. It was here that the constitution was done and by the constitution all changes mush happenned here. So for this while the city becomes the de facto Capital of France. Now enough of political science and lets get back into the sights.

The first I have written about it is the Collegiale Notre Dame church, the first church of Versailles , done from 1684-1686 ,  keeping the heights on building demanded by Louis XIV, where all the baptismal and birth records of the children of the royal families are kept. This is at 35  rue de la Paroisse, just from the statue of king Louis XIV in front of castle to your left you will see it. http://www.notredame-versailles.org/  You go to the other neighborhood of Versailles at Saint Louis, you see the Cathedral de Saint Louis, ,named after the king and saint Saint Louis, and cathedral since 1790, another gem that needs to be visit at 4 pl Saint Louis , http://www.cathedrale-versailles.org/ , another nice neighborhood very much neglected houses the third church of Versailles ,that of église Saint Symphorien, at 2 pl Saint Symphorien in the Montreuil district. http://saint-symphorien-78.cef.fr/

Next to the Cathedrale Saint Louis there is a building adjoint , it is the Chapelle des Catéchisme ou de la providence, at place Saint Louis.  Done by donation from Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry the chapel was done in 1764.  the architecture is similar to the church of Saint Symphorien.

We move on to a more royal site at the Miason Modéle, building of the Pavillon des Sources at 11 rue Carnot, water came to the city from the forest of Marly and Chesnay since 1682, this house dating from 1683 ,is the first to follow Louis XIV buildings heights in the city, and the reservoir in it worked for two centuries! In 1866 the building becomes a housing site as any other to be live.  There is a plaque in the front door,  that tells you of this message.

Moving over to the other side by ave de Sceaux and rue satory there is a edge street call rue de la chancellerie and here at no 24 there is the Hôtel de la chancellerie where now there is the music conservatory. Done between 1699-1714,  this is the area where at the time most of the nobles and courtisans of the court lived.  http://www.versailles.fr/culture-et-patrimoine/institutions-et-evenements-culturels/conservatoire/

We go back to rue Carnot and at no 5 you can see a building, this is the Ecuries de la Reine or the Queen’s stables. done in 1682, here were the first stables of the king later of the queen in 1682 to Marie Thérese of Austria (the  Spanish queen of Louis XIV).  The king and queen loves horses, and one time there were 2300 in the city until the revolution.  Not horses but fruits and vegetables were found at the Potager du roi, by 10 rue du Marechal Joffre. next to the Cathedrale de Saint Louis.  done between 1678-1683 and a statue of its keeper  Jean Baptiste de La Quintinie in 1876. The best products were served at the court, and still you can see the where the rest was given to the needy at 2 rue Hardy where there is still the trap on the door that the food was given out! http://www.potager-du-roi.fr/ensp/default/EN/all/potager/index.htm

Just around the castle and ready to open in 2105 the Grand Commun ,where the common people that works in the castle lives, http://versailles1687.free.fr/grandcommun.htm ,nearby at the angle of rue des récollects and rue saint julien, you see the Portail de l’église des récollects, which first stone was put in by Louis XIV in 1684, to replace the church destroyed to built the Grand Comun ,call church of Saint Julien. This was an old order of the welcome order or recueillis that were established in Versailles from 1670.

Right on the right side of the castle when looking at it is the rue Robert de Cotte; I drive by it every day or every time in the city, you see here the Chateau d’eau or the water services of the city.  They were once serve the splinkers of the fountain of the castle , still inside there is a huge barrel or cube of 1200 cubic meters carry high by stone column 13 meters high, built in 1684, to stock the water from the hill or butte de Montbauron, the water was suck out in about 41 minutes!!! and filled up again. you can still see the inscription at 1 rue Robert de Cotte, Service des eaux, at the entrance to the street rue Peintre Lebrun. you can still see the arch door , looking like a house building today. Here lived the fountain keeper, the engineer in charge of the fountains was François Francine and he lived at 14 rue Hoche not far from the house of André le Notre who lived in no 16, today both houses are gone.

You go to the other side now, at 4-6 rue de l’independance americaine to see the old hôtel de la Surintendance des Bâtiments du roi, the house or building of the builders of Versailles, done in 1683, after the revolution the last in charge of buildings in Versailles left in exile to Germany ,but the wife remains inside until her passing in 1808! Most past by but dont go in,and its a pity, the Hôtel de Ville or city govt building at 4 avenue de Paris, has a wonderful Salle des Mariages de l’hôtel de ville, a marriage center room.  The old hôtel de Conti rebuilit in 1899 in roccoco style , the room dates from 1723 done for the dukes of Bourbon, the prime minister of Louis XV. Gorgeous room. Going a bit further at no 6 Avenue de Paris, you see the old Hôtel des Gens d’armes de la garde du roi, or the kings guards headquarters. dates from 1723, for the exclusive use of the king done to house 200 guardsmen and 10 officers. A total of 2000 men were kept here forming 14 companies of soldiers, including the guards inside the Louvre of Paris.  55 000 special corps in total all over, covering as much as 50% of the budget.  You can see now the French flag as it house the police HQ today.http://www.versailles.fr/vivre-ma-ville/

See the fountain at place saint Louis by the cathedrale, done in 1766  fed by waters from the machine de marly and hill or butte de picardie worked until 1964!! later was found the water not of good quality and the water came from Croissy sur Seine that feeds the city with water and now of better quality since 1896 until today. You now see a plaque that tells you of this story there. Nearby at the Carre à la Terre, you see the Porte d’Angle, history tell us that from 1750 the relationship between Madame de Pompadour and Louis XV were common. they organise meeting at parc aux cerfs, not sure still but historians thinks it was around 82 rue d’Anjou or 4 Rue Saint Médéric behind a door at an angle in wood, such as the one describe here, porte d’angle.

We move up to nearer the castle at 7 rue des reservoirs ( nice street side entrance to castle), here you see the old Hôtel de Madame de Pompadour, on the side of the opera royal inside the castle you will see this building; built in 1752; the later owner in 1875 turn it into a hotel the Grand Hotel des Reservoirs, a very prestigious address in the early 20th century. Diplomats of the III republic to Emile Zola stayed here. Beautiful building showing the arms of the Madame.  If you pay attention and play my game we are now going back to the other side by 12 rue de l’independance Americaine, and see the old Hôtel du Grand Contrôle, purchase in 1680 , and the owners going bankrupt in 1720 the hotel was sold n 1724 to louis XV to established the general controls or budge office.  When the estate generaux was assembled in 1789 by louis XVI, more than 40 controlers have passed!

Staying this time on the same street at No 3 rue de l’independance Americaine, you see the door of the old Hôtel de la Guerre or war ministry. done in 1758, to house the secretary of state, it has five floors but not wood all is done with brick to avoid the fires of past ravages, the building was tested in person by Louis XV in 1762. stay on at No 5 ,you see the Galerie de l’hôtel de la marine et des affaires étrangeres. The navy and foreign affaires building.  See a round marble table where peace treaties were signed such as the Seven year wars, and the treaty of Paris of 1768, 1768 treaty to annex corsica, and the one on September 3 1783 where England recognised the new nation the United States of America? the table is now gone, but old books remains collected from all the nobles collections after their confiscation by the revolution in 1793.http://www.versailles.fr/culture-et-patrimoine/institutions-et-evenements-culturels/bibliotheques/

Coming more to city center see 4 rue Saint Julien the old post office building, Hôtel des Postes, done in 1752.  poste comes from the word where the stables were kept to relay one horse to another and assuring the transport of passengers. There were 1320 postes and in 1795 took five days to Bordeaux and 125 pounds of money equivalent to a year salary by an artisan of the times.  For 15 days delay the price was 50 pounds.  in main city at 21 avenue de paris you see today the chamber of commerce building, orginal done in 1751 call Hôtel de Georges-Réné Binet . IN 1771 the countess of Barry was the last owner, used to house her domestic service! When Louis XV died in 1774 she needed to leave Versailles, the brother of the king the Count of Provence buys the building, the countess was guillotine in 1793.

Going over the other side at 73 avenue de Saint Cloud, you see the door portical of the Chapelle des Augustine or couvent de la reine, her in 1766 the queen Maire Lesczynska creates a school for ladies, and gives over to the augustinian order, she died before done in 1768 but her daughters continue the work, and the school was opened in 1772.Today is the famous lycée Hoche or high school.  You can see the chapelle de l’hôpital royal de Versailles or Hôpital Richaud at 78 blvd de la reine. Done in 1779, it was Louis XIII that made it into a hospital at rue de la paroisse,then LOuis XIV transfer it to the current place,and ordered in 1670 an even bigger hospital under the authority of the religious order of Saint Vincent de Paul. Now a huge private project is undergoing to turn it into a luxurious condo apartment place, leaving the chapel instact.

Right closer to the castle at 13 rue des reservoirs, you see the wonderful theater Théatre de Montansier and its beautiful salle or salon.  Opened in 1777 in the presence of Louis XVI and Marie Antoniette. Her real name Marguerite Brunet dite La Montansier, who went on to do other theaters such as that of Théatre des Variétés in Paris, she managed still in 1819 at the age of 89! Moving up on the Montreuil district see the wonderful Maison des Musiciens Italiens at 15 rue Champ-Lagarde, where the Italian musicians ordered to play to louis XIv stayed. They came for the first time in 1710, and the king made renovate a house done between 1686-1692 renovation done in 1752. The garden done by Louis Guillaume Le Monnier in 1762, became friend of the court and Louis XVI, creates the bosquet de la reine in 1775 at the castle gardens, and name first doctor of the king in 1789; he came back after the revolution to this place where he died in 1799 at age of 92!http://www.theatremontansier.com/

Across from here entering from the above property or at 73bis avenue de Paris, you see the  Maison de Madame Elizabeth,  in 1776 Louis XVI buys the house for his sister Madame Elizabeth at the age of 19. She makes parties and teach girls of lesser means, creates a charity for the sick and became known as the Bonne dame de Montreuil, or the good lady of the neighborhood of Montreuil. She convince Louis XVI to buy the village into Versailles in 1787.  She, also, fares bad in the revolution ,guillotine in 1794 just for speaking out in defense of her brother.http://www.versailles-tourisme.com/en/discoveries/heritage-palace-city/other-places-to-see/domaine-of-madame-elisabeth.html

You go a favorite area of mine, the Parc Balbi, a deal by the Count of Provence (king ‘s brother) and his mistress Countess of Balbi in 1785. a beautiful picturesque English park with a chinese twist, very nice, and great for families at 12 rue du Maréchal Joffre, on the side of the Potager du roi. http://www.parc-balbi.fr/

Way up on avenue de paris at no 111 you see the house or Pavillon de Musique de Madame, crossing avenue Chauchard. Done by the countess of Provence sister in law of Louis XVI, Marie Josephine de Savoie,came to established in 1780. She addes an English park , artificial mountain, and chinese pagodas, dairy farms etc, and lake in 1784. Last owner was Alfred Chauchard, the owner of the old stores Grands magasins du Louvre, that finally bequested to the city in 1902. The only condition is that his statue is clean and maintain in perpeauty.

Going by the Chantiers train station you see at 22 avenue de Paris, corner of rue Eduard Lefébvre, the traces of the foundation of the room where the estates generals met to write the French constitution and the nation.  It is at the Hôtel des Menus-Plaisirs,now a music center. The room is still kept where 1200 deputies met in 1789. Louis XVI does have two previous convocations in 1787 and 1788. History tell us that the abolition of privileges, and feodualism ended on the night of August 4  1789. the adoption of the declaration of the rights of men and citizens on August 26 1789. Here monarchy has its last great representation of the absolute power.

You ,also, can ask to see at the tourist office the dining room or Salle à manger de l’hôtel de la préfecture et du département, 11-13 avenue de Paris. built in 1863-1867, on the old dog pan of Louis XIV. In march 18 1871 Adolphe Thiers makes the escape from Paris and established here the seat of government. In 1873 McMahon is name president of France here. In 1875 Jules Grévy is the last name here after it was moved back to Paris in 1879. Just a nice walk up from the castle.

Hope you have enjoy the walk of the beautiful city, a lot more than a castle.

 

March 25, 2012

A castle and a museum, Saint Germain en Laye

On my last trip home in Versailles, I decided to again visit one of my favorite towns in the area. My family enjoy it very much, and we remember well the times in the market, the flea market searching for postcards of old, and the interesting antiquities museum inside the castle of Louis XIV , well sort of. I have decided to walk its streets and taste the great places we usually went.Another nostalgic trip as once my house is sold/closed the trips here will be fewer in betweent, ,,,huh;;;I hope not.

This is a very old city, and the first mentioned of a castle was from king Louis VI the Fat  in 1124AD, and James VII and II of Scotland and England lived here for 13 years after his exile from the revolution of 1688 ,and his daughter Louisa Maria Stuart was born in exile here in 1692. James II is buried in the Church of Saint-Germain across from the castle.

Saint Germain en Laye, is very close to Paris, easily reachable by RER A trains (several locations in Paris), and SNCF trains at Grand Centaure station, coming in from Gare Saint Lazare in Paris. the Paris RER info is found here www.ratp.fr and the trains here www.transilien.com . if coming by car as  I do always is good to drive on the perimeters roads but once close to city center best is to walk and leave your car at a parking garage. The most obvious is by the RER station, two call RER and Chateau parking in two levels. The other is to go underneath the Vieux Marché or market area on ave de la republique, or the parking Pologne at rue de Pologne or the Monoprix store parking. The city of SGL has a good explanation on parkings and public transport even in French can easily be understood, here http://www.saintgermainenlaye.fr/cadre-de-vie/venir-circuler-et-stationner-a-saint-germain/rer-bus-voiture-taxis-liaisons-avec-les-aeroports/

Of course, the castle now the museum of antiquities or musée national des antiquites it covers in three floors wonders of the old days found in the surrounding areas, and it is considered one of the best in its genre.  Behind you see an archdoor leading to the Pavillon Henri IV restaurant (great dining) an enblem showing this is where Louis XIV was born. The parc and gardens were done from  1668 to 1675 by the great gardener Le Nôtre, and it has an expansive view over Paris and the vineyards of Le Pecq that after doing so from antiquity are now back in form from 2000 onward producicng pinot noir base wines.  The 2010 and 2011 vintage are said to be good, not try it yet.

The museum page is here,http://www.musee-archeologienationale.fr/ , and the tourist office is here  http://www.ot-saintgermainenlaye.fr/  if need further questions as they are in French ,let me know ok. If in town and want a public pool away from your hotel and a chance to meet the locals come here http://www.piscine-stgermain.com/general/acces-piscine-saint-germain-en-laye ,and you see the hours and admission here http://www.piscine-stgermain.com/images/stories/horaires-et-tarifs/horaires-tarifs-piscine.pdf

The top French football/soccer club PSG or Paris Saint Germain trains here as it was the fusion in 1970 of Paris FC and St Germain FC. http://www.saintgermainenlaye.fr/loisirs/le-psg/presentation/

You have across the castle a wonderful church, gorgeous as they come in France, where not only the king James of England frequented and buried there, but Louis XIV did too. Info here in French, http://www.paroisses-stgermainenlaye.net/informations/informations.htm  Today is a very popular church so like today it was full .

Plenty of museums such as the muséé Maurice Denis on a royal hospital founded by Madame de Montespan, at Le Prieuré 2bis rue Maurice Denis Tél : 01 39 73 77 87 www.musee-mauricedenis.fr  and Musée Claude Debussy, the musician at 38 rue au pain and free admission but reserved in advance at the tourist office, programme  http://www.ot-saintgermainenlaye.fr/fileadmin/omt-site/document/actualite/Concerts/02Saison_musicale_2011-2012–09_08_11.pdf

The market is second only to Versailles in the region in my opinion, very nice at the Place du Marché Neuf ,on Tuesdays and Fridays from 8h30-13h Sundays from 8h30-13h30. the plaza is gorgeous and many nice shops around it such as the Comtesse du Barry.  You can,also, shop in over 850 stores in city center, one of the largest choices in the whole region,even better than Versailles. One of my favorites is the Galerie Saint Germain,built at the place of a boys school from 1907, it became a middle school or collége in 1946, then a lycée technique municipal, or technical high school in 1975. Now there are a brasserie and about 20 stores,open Mondays to Saturdays from 8h30 – 20h00, Sundays from 8h30-14h00. You can walk in by  13 rue de la Salle, – rue des Coches, – or by rue au Pain.

Other than the fancy Pavillon Henri IV, hotel, resto, bar at http://www.pavillon-henri-4.com/fr/restaurant-panoramique-et-bar-galerie.php you can have several good deals from a simple menu sandwich, dessert and soda for 6,50€ at the Fournil de Pierre, 11 Rue Salle  to nicer such as Brasserie du Théatre,  Place Charles de Gaulle  just by chateau and church. La Fontana italian and pizzeria (real Italians), 2, rue Croix de Fer , from RER take rue Léon Désoyer to rue FR Roosevelt on the N13 and right on roundabout there they are,worth the trip. La Fringale,24, rue Saint Pierre  bar à vin and tapas, great, just from RER to rue au pain, the ave de Paris turn quickly right on rue Saint Pierre. http://restaurant-la-fringale.fr/

For hotels, the fancy Pavillon Henri IV is grand, then there is the Campanile at Chambourcy, even thus they call SGL is not, but close by car and a bus passes in front, http://www.campanile-saint-germain-en-laye.fr/en/access.aspx in the city the likely fancy Ermitage des Loges at  http://www.hotels-francepatrimoine.com/ermitage-loges/en/hotel-paris-suburbs.html

Hope you enjoy this wonderful town, a royal town of France. Worth a detour or a train ride from Paris. You will be delighted.

 

March 24, 2012

Some news from France LXIV

Here we are another weekend, and the start of spring, great period. The weather has change, we have sunshine all over, up to 24C! and expecting 21C for tomorrow and sunny again. We change the time tonite, advance one hour to our clocks, so make sure you are in tune or miss your date ::)

I am home, still can call it home at Versailles, we went by Saint Germain en Laye today, its great to see the neighborhood lol!!! I guess the spring weather took people out, it was full, we park at the chateau at level -4 today, lowest ever.

In the news from this weekend, the Tour Montparnasse in Paris will be in lights, a first. Each day at sunset, the tower of 210 meters high will be illuminated. With a system that will save energy when turn on,  972  leaded rulers will be put in each floor and 58 projectors at the last floor will cover the coverage of lights.

To celebrate the passage of the new time ,one hour ahead ,the ice cream brand Miko will have a bath in the river Seine by choosing 100 persons at 9h15 tom to go into the water!! between the Port d’Iena and the Port du Suffren. So go tomorrow MArch 25 at 9h15 to do this, if you are around and time is ok as was a bit late in telling you about it,sorry.Métro : Bir-Hakeim or Trocadéro.

The world wine consumption is rising, YES! and France is on top…YES!!  An increase over last year of 0,7%, with  241,9 millions hectoliters (Mhl). Help by sales to Chinese and Americans. In France the consumption is at 47,4 hl and we take the estimate on tourists consumption ,the locals stays at about 40 hl per person. The consumption in FRance increase by 3,5% last year. The nearest competitor remains Italy. While in Champagne and cognac, the main French market remains the United States.

You have a site the Maison de l’Histoire de France that you can see 1000 sites interactives of the history of France, great! http://www.maison-histoire.fr/evenements/agenda-culturel-regions/carte-interactive/

Just to show you today Nice and the Savoy became French!

A great expo on Toulouse-Lautrec in Albi, where the family gave most of his work to a museum near the Cathedrale de Sainte Cecile, and it is now put together a great exhibition on him thanks to loans from the musée d’Orsay, to see asap. http://www.museetoulouselautrec.net/horaires-et-tarifs-toulouse-lautrec.html

New and artsy place at 13, rue Tiquetonne 2éme is the Art Room, very nice black walls, and very hypnotic place with DJ in second floor, need to try it.Its good,different in Paris.  Just behind Tour Jean Sans Peur, Metro Etienne Martel

The low flyer Corsairfly part of TUI France now has a new name, Corsair International, great direct flights from Paris Orly to the Americas especially a nice one to Miami FLA USA.  Also, Iberia Express is officially on for low cost flights from Spain.  First flights Madrid -Alicante,  http://www.iberiaexpress.com/ .  New one from my new base at Nantes, Volotea, Spanish low carrier ,  14 destinations :  France, Corsica, Biarritz (link to Lille as well), Metz-Nancy, Perpignan and Toulon. Rest of Europe to Ibiza, Milan Orio al Serio (near Bergamo), Minorca, Munich, Olbia, Palma de Mallorca, Prague and  Valencia. webpage http://www.volotea.com/en/

Now that Spring is back, my favorites Paris gardens are Parc Monceau, Jardin du Luxembourg,les Buttes Chaumont,Jardin des tuileries, Jardin des Invalides, and the Parc Montsouris.  Enjoy them with moderation ::) 

At the Chateau de Versailles, the Portuguese artist born in Paris Joana Vasconcelos, will be the invited guest to show her sculptures ,some produce exclusively for the occasion.  Expo shown to public from June to September 2012. Then see the ladies that lived in the Trianons, from July 3 to October 7 2012 at the Grand Trianon. Lastly jog down the date not to missed the story of Madame ELizabeth (sister of king Louis XVI, also beheaded).  It will be at the maison de Madame Elizabeth and the Orangerie of the Domaine de Montreuil, showing the life styles of the Princess thru furnitures, and objects that accompany her during her time.  Also, her story from birth to death thur a selection of paintings, graphic arts, objects d’arts coming up in 2013, see more of her http://en.chateauversailles.fr/history-/court-people/epoque-louis-xvi/madame-elisabeth-en . I have visited several times and I am an amateur of her life,and trials, very sad story of a revolution that was not fair to all.A must to see; in the meantime you can stop by her house or maison at 73 Avenue de Paris, about a km from the Chateau on foot.  More from the Versailles tourist office, http://www.versailles-tourisme.com/en/discoveries/heritage-palace-city/other-places-to-see/domaine-of-madame-elisabeth.html

Have a great weekend.

Paris

March 22, 2012

Stories of Versailles, the park and gardens

We continue with my anecdotes of Versailles, the town where I live for 9 years ,and will never forget ,even if I am on the way to move to Bretagne,and the seacoast. Versailles is worth a kingdom to France, for the glory of France, the royal capital of France. You must know it more, and I hope these entries will let you get to know the city a bit more.

One of the wonders of the chateau de Versailles is its park and gardens, the most magnificents I have seen in France and beyond.

When we go hunting, we go by the sculptures of the Cabinet des Animaux du midi ou fontaine du soir done in 1684. There are on the left side of the parterre d’eau after leaving the castle on the back.  Many figures of animals here,  like the Lion attacking a wild pig or a lion attacking a wolf. Louis XIV was an ardent hunter, with more than 100 days per year spent hunting.

You move on to the Hercule, Minerve ,and Flore done in 1656. They are in the bosquet de la girandole and they were gifts from Nicolas Fouquet to Louis XIV, they were done as Hercule,Minerve,Flore,Moissonneur,Bacchus, Pomone,Vertumne, and Baccante done in Rome in 1655. They were purchase from the heirs of Nicolas Fouquet. The marble was taken as well from Nicolas Fouquet at the cour des Marbles,and last renovated in 1978-1982. You come to admire the Bassin du Dragon, sculptured in 1667, with serpents being attacked by archers, throw its blood but better water b its mouth. They were put here in 1668 welcoming the triumphant Louis XIV from the devolution war and the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.

We continue with the Bosquet des Rocailles ou Salle de Bal, this is where the spectacles were held outdoors,in the summer evenings, where the ballet comedy and opera ballet created by Lully and Moliére were started in 1683. Louis XIV was also interested by the dance and with his support the royal academy of the dance was created in 1661. Not a garden but right in the middle of it, is the Petite Venise ,near the Grand Canal, done in 1673. This is where the gondolas and boats given by Venice were housed as well as the yachts of England for the boat parade in the Grand Canal., These included the ships Galiate(1669), Grand Vaisseay(1685),Dunkerquoise (1685), Réale or Grande Galére (1686) were the stars. The Grand Canal 1,8 kms long served perfectly for this showcase. The front of a boat favorite of Marie Antoniette it is now visible at the musée national de la marine at the pl de la concorde ,Paris.

The gardens of Versailles are irrigated with water, where? underground, when in the fall the fountains are empty for cleaning you can see the deep wells of these magnificents fountains and water pumps. The reservoir in the north wing coming from the hill or butte de Montbauron provides underground water for 30 kms of canals!!! reachable by 6 galleries or underground tunnels communicating by a set of joints to the 50 fountains and 670 water spouts. The underbelly of Versailles is a huge water castle.  By the parterre of water eight statues surge representing the rivers of France such as the Loire, Rhone,Loiret,Saone,Seine,Marne, Garonne and Dordogne.

Just at the entry fo the pyramide and the allée des marmousets you see the Bain des Nymphes de Diane (done from 1668-1670).  This is to the right as you come into the gardens. You, also, enjoy the Ile de Délos, This is the mythical story of Latone lover of Junon who gives birth to Apollon and Diane at the isle of Delos. The figures are on marble on a pedestal of 3 levels with the figure of Latone facing the Grand Canal. Great

We go now to the birth of seasons at Enlevement de Proserpine par Pluton or the kidnapping of proserpine by pluton.Created by Le Brun in 1674. Proserpine was the daughter of Jupiter and kidnapped by Pluton god of hell that marries her. It is in the center of the bosquet de la Colonnade from 1699 Many beautiful sculptures around this area too. One of the them is the Songe de Poliphile, white and pink marble done between 1687-1688 at the place of the old bosquet de Sources done by Le Notre, after losing favorite status by Louis XIV the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart that change the name to bosquet de la colonnade ,and creates amongst other beauties the Grande and Petite Ecuries,new Orangerie,Grand Trianon,and the designed of the allées de Nord,and Midi.The bosquet de la colonnade is gorgeous.

See the Fountain du bosquet de l’Encelade (1675-1677) full of rocks imitating the lava of a volcano. Also from Greek mytholody. The bosquet was used as a political tool in the war of Holland during the great european alliance of 1673.  It continues showing the sculpture of the France Triomphante (1683) at the bosquet de l’arc de triomphe.  It has at its feet the conquered countries after the peace of Nimegue in 1678 shown as captives such as Spain,Austria,. The sculpture is in gold but not massive just a bath.  Continue to the Bosquet des trois Fontaines, done in 1679 and renovated in 2005,it has a huge shell of copper of 4 meters in diameter.

Another of my favorites is the Bassin de l’ile des Enfants at the bosquet du Rond Vert. The children plays with the flowers on a rock dating from 1710,done from the anguish of Louis XIV of seeing many of his royal children not reaching teen years…they died. In 1714 it is only one child left to inherit the reign, one that Louis XIV held for over 60 years! Going over to the Bassin de Neptune we see the Neptune et Amphitrite (1736-1740), placing over a huge marine shell on a metal platform. It has 99 jets of water!!!  It is the only sculpture ordered by Louis XV in the gardens.  We move on to the Bosquet des Bains d’Apollon to see the sundown chez Tethys;;;lead design done in 1704 around the old grotte or cave of Tethys done in 1666. A gorgeous romantic spot.

official info on the gardens and parks, http://en.chateauversailles.fr/gardens-and-park-of-the-chateau

I will throw in here the Orangerie, a wonderful building right in the gardens, really. and Plenty of plants ::) See the Statue of Louis XIV in emperor garments ,made of marble done to be put in the place des Victoires in Paris ,and done by the personal fortune of Jules-Hardouin-Mansart in 1686. The bronce did not resisted the time elements and was melted in 1792 by the revolutionaries to make canons. You can see at the Louvre the socket and decorations of these canons showing the conquered nations of Nimegue in 1678. When the new Orangerie was built in 1686 there was a perfect gallery of 156 meters long by 21 meters wide and the statue in marble found its place. Inside the Orangerie you will find, the most extraordinary collection of plants of all time, more than 2000 pots of lemon,grenades, laurel roses, oranges coming from Portugal,Spain,Italy, and the Vatican. During the winters these treasures were preserved thanks to the thick walls of 5 meters and the double window panning, even able to keep the Connétable de Pampelune planted in 1421!!! You ,also, can see the horse statue of Louis XIV done from 1665-1673! where you might remember it more for the replica in the pyramide of the Louvre  There is another copy at the piéce d”eau des Suisses since 1990; The original in the Orangerie is from 1685. You can see inside the baths or vasque octogonale done in 1674. done on a piece of marble de Rance, it is an octogonal of 3 meters wide and 1meter deep.  It is difficult to imagine taken a bath here as it would be impossible to heat in those years. The vase took several turns in different places until finally arriving at the Oragerie in 1934.

Official info on the Orangerie, http://en.chateauversailles.fr/index.php?option=com_cdvfiche&idfp=30346E9D-28D6-D047-B142-48405B85CF49

Enjoy the everlasting beauty of Versailles.

March 21, 2012

Stories of Versailles, other places to see

This is my town for almost 9 years, my house is on sale to move to Brittany with the family but Versailles will be always home….the city has been nice to us, and it is beautiful ,the history of France is here. Versailles the royal capital of France. However, let me tell you about other places around Versailles.

I will start with one of my family’s favorite places, the Ferme de Gally. Yes a farm, but not an ordinary farm. It was acquired in 1684 by Louis XIV to supply the court of milk products. It is at the end of the Grand Canal, yes the one you think ends by the boat lakes, but its actually goes way back,keep walking …. all along the allée de la Ceinture. The farm is still today in activity,handle by the same family since 1741!!! It is one of the oldest building in the area ,originally founded in the 11C by the priests of the abbey of Sainte-Geneviéve-du-mont at Paris to plow and put into use the lands around the plains of Versailles.  It was call after the val de galie, a stream,that since then was change to Gally. We can continue today follow the stream, from the allée du Plat Fond just to the small village of Rennemoulin off the D307 and very picturesque horse country today.  At the beginning by 1038 ,this stream gave the name to Versailles because the lord of these lands was named Hugo de Versaillis.

We can continue our car ride on the D307 back there,and visit Noisy-le-Roi, where there is the Porte Criton. The lands around here belong to a Florentine family, the Gondi,  ,and he buys the lands to built the castle of Noisy, today the only remains is this archway door.  This castle in 1607 welcome the children of Henri IV while deseases rage at St Germain en Laye. Louis XIII hunted these lands with the Gondi’s. In 1622 Paris was given the rank of archebishop, and it first bishop the son of Gondi, Jean-François de Gondi. It was later purchase in 1631 by Louis XIII and you know the real Versailles was born from here.  The bishop now Cardinal Retz was found in conspiracy with the rebellion of the Fronde, and thrown in jail in 1652, later the castle passed to bishop Jacques Benigne Bossuet (the eagle of Meaux,and religious advisor to Louis XIV). The castle was incorporated into the Domaine de Versailles in 1675. The Chateau de Noisy was finally left unused and destroyed in 1732.

For those history buffs, the Domaine de Versailles is the old name, where the castle was, and it included 807 hectares of land vs the 37 of Chateau de Versailles of today!

We move a bit south to the town of Le Loges-en-Josas, at rue du petit-jouy, you see the Pavillon Forestier de la Porte de Jouy,  It served as the headquarters of the guards of the king hunting trips. One of the 22 archdoors given way to the Domaine of hunting grounds, in 1684, it included 43 kms long, longer than todays’s periphérique de Paris (beltway road around Paris today). By 1705 ,Louis XIV creates many lordships, one for hunting was called the Petit parc of 1700 hectares, included the piéce des Suisses,Grand Canal,Ménagerie et Trianon ,and the other was the Grand parc, included the hunting grounds of 6000 hectares, in addition 2000 hectares of the Domaine de Marly.The perspective of this grand parc reach way beyond the Grand Canal for about 5 kms,and eight villages. Including the today’s Bailly,Bois-d’Arcy,Buc,Guyancourt, Fontenay-le-Fleury,Noisy,Rennemoulin, and Saint Cyr.

We move in city now to Avenue de la Division Leclerc, to see the wonderful door front of the Portail d’entrée du pavillon de la lanterne, It is the old royal  horse stables established by Le Vau between 1622-1664. Louis XVI  made it the official royal stables in 1787; around the central courtyard, you find a lanterne with seven courtyards smaller of deer, wild pigs, cerfs,phaisants, and other birds.  Inside you ,also, find the old house or pavillon de la duchesse de Bourgogne.

Inside the Petite Ecuries, in front of the castle to your right looking into Versailles, you have the huge gallery or Vestibule des sculptures des Fontaines du Labyrinthe,  keeping the sculptures from the 17C, 39 fountains, with 333 animals designs from the bosquet du laberinthe dating 1660-1677/ You have the history of the stories of Charles Perrault and Jean de La Fontaine, dedicated to the Grand Dauphin, Mme de Montespan, and the Duke of Burgundy (grandson of Louis XIV). Charles Perrault brings them to Versailles, as de La Fontaine was not favored due to his support for Nicolas Fouquet.

We go for water now to the town of Buc, and the great Aqueduct de Buc; team of engineers of Louis XIV, did from 1663-1688 a huge network of more than 30 kms around the castle.  The aqueduct has nine arches, and was built between 1684-1686.  It is 580 meters long and 24 meters high processing 8 millions cubic meters of water with 170 kms of irrigations hoses with 40 kms of underground hoses.  After it was installed in 1981 a waterpump in the Grand Canal, the fountains of the castle could again play the water show we see today!

We go military now to the town of Saint Cyr-l’école, here we see the chapelle Notre Dame at the special military school of Saint Cyr. 2 avenue Jean Jaurés, Saint Cyr l’école; it was Madame de Maintenon, that in 1684 creates the Maison royale de Saint Louis , an educational center for young girls of the bankrupt nobility. Born herself of a bankrupt family at a prison in Niort, knowing the severe education of the convents and monasteries and agreed upon by Louis XIV, the school was born. Her remains were placed in 1719 in the nave of the Chapelle Notre Dame, but in 1794 the revolutionaries profane her tomb.   In 1836 when construction to reinforced the altar of the chapel it was found a black marble coffin,that in turn was destroyed in 1890 by those who accused her of the revocation of the Edit of Nantes .IN 1944 Saint Cyr was occupied by the Nazis,and destroyed during WWII, it was again discovered an old coffin without knowing how it ended up there. In the last honors, the ashes of Mme de Maintenon was deposited in the royal chapel of the Chateau de Versailles,before coming back to her original burial at the Chapelle de Notre Dame in 1969 where she rest in a marble block in the central alley. She is the only member of the royal family to be buried in land or dirt of Versailles.

We go back to Versailles at the Grande Ecuries (left from chateau looking out to city of Versailles), whre you find the musée de Carrosses, to see the Traineau au Léopard, (1730) the snow sledge, one of ten still conserve, which the royal families used, after the others were sold after the revolution. None remaining from the time of Marie Antoinette.  From the time of Louis XV these were very much love.  They will use them on the ice at the Grand Canal!In those years, cold was really cold. The Versailles tourist office tells more now handle by the Castle property and seldom visited, because most is in preservation, check later on for 2012 dates. http://www.versailles-tourisme.com/en/discoveries/heritage-palace-city/other-places-to-see/coach-museum.html

In the city of Versailles there is a wonderful museum most do not see, dont know why…Musée Lambinet, tells the history of the city and all in it. There you can see wonderful things such as the Carreaux de Faîence provenant du Trianon de Porcelaine,  the faience porcelain tiles coming from the old Trianon. By order of Louis XIV, Le Vau builts in 1670 a house or pavillon all covered in porcelain and parterre gardens done by Le Bouteux( son of the nephew of Le Notre). Two millions pots were ready at the disposal , with plants including onions from Holland/ The faience were done by Delft. The house could not withstand the cold weather very well, and it turn in ruins. Louis XIV change its tastes and in 1684 ordered it destroyed. In turn he orders the marble house or Trianon that we know today as the Grand Trianon!

Last tour but not least is where I entered every weekend into the Domaine de Versailles of today, either walking or by car, the Porte Saint Antoine,,ordered built in 1786 to replaced the old archdoor that gave way from the petit parc to the town of Le Chesnay (where my boys went to school). The decoration of the archway or porte shows the lion of Némée that is killed by Hercules, as well seen in other parts of the castle such as the cour royale,and the support of balcons leading to the gardens.  The archway marked symbolic the entry into an universe where nature has been dominated,and magnify by the hands of the kings!!! Lord I am a poet ::) Yes my archway magnificent. You can get here by taking bus no 19 at ave saint cloud and ave de l’Europe and stop at Arboretum, then walk about 200 meters to the porte Saint Antoine.

Enjoy Versailles, it is the kingdom of France.

March 20, 2012

Auray, more than history a culinary delight by the river Loch

Well taken a day off, with the family in town, today I change my twins school to one much closer to home, 10 minutes by bus! So not only did we ate out for lunch and early apero dinner but will like to showcase some of the nice places we have here to eat.

First we started with the Restaurant au bout du quai, 22 Quai Benjamin Franklin  56400 Auray, exquisite seafood, fresh products with terrace and view of the river Loch plus music makes an ideal place to eat, today we had lunch there. more here http://www.leboutduquailamaisonrose.com/

We past by some old places like the Creperie Saint Sauveur, 6 Rue St Sauveur  56400 Auray more here http://www.auray-tourisme.com/creperie-saint-sauveur/auray/tabid/8269/offreid/2b3e3329-e5fb-42fb-8111-d31f6df92ec9/detail.aspx

Also check La Licorne, great ice creams and seafood there too ,by 15 Place St Sauveur  56400 Auray, more here,http://www.auray-tourisme.com/restaurant-bar-glaces-la-licorne/auray/tabid/8269/offreid/bb5f953c-b328-4dfb-bf6b-3a323d3bd64c/detail.aspx

Move over to historical Le Relais Franklin,8 quai Benjamin Franklin 56400 Auray. Here you will see a plaque showing that Benjamin Franklin slept and ate here on his way to see the King and ask support and finance for the new nation of the USA in 1776!  The food is good too, and great service. more here, http://www.auray-commerce.com/creperie/145-le-relais-franklin.html

L’ile aux Trésors, 7 Quai Benjamin Franklin  56400 Auray, very good crêpes and galettes, looking at the river Loch, more info here http://www.morbihan.com/restaurant-l-ile-au-tresor/auray/tabid/7419/offreid/f97dceec-d65b-46ff-9fd3-a5e1a2f344b8/detail-restaurants.aspx

We had visited the Le Comptoir, off the N165 exit Auray D768, at the porte Océane shopping area, great pizzas in wood oven, nice,and price right. More info here http://www.auray-tourisme.com/restaurant-le-comptoir-brasserie-pizzas/auray/tabid/8269/offreid/a3edce85-eb9e-43f7-8b51-8aefa1697e99/detail.aspx

A dandy up ave du Chateau walking up from the river Loch basin of St Goustan towards city center, you come into the Le Restaurant Bar La Fromentine, 10 rue du Chateau, looks like a creperie but only because the building is historical designation cannot change the name but inside is a full scale restaurant, delicious food like steaks and stews of beef, and very friendly service, funny guy,the owner, more info here http://www.auray-tourisme.com/restaurant-bar-la-fromentine/auray/tabid/8269/offreid/965248e3-b57f-40f6-8e51-d3b77beb11ed/detail.aspx

We finish with going back to Auray at the now favorite Le Bistro du Port, at pl Saint Sauveur, pizzas,galettes,and a very good mussels and fresh fish, today I had a rouget and the rest of the gang mussels curry, roquefort,and cream sauce. More info here http://www.auray-tourisme.com/le-bistrot-du-port/auray/tabid/8269/offreid/79eed3f7-610b-4fc9-9e63-0c17879ea84b/detail.aspx

While walking we notice a very nice clean,and friendly folks at a hotel at St Goustan district, close to all the above and city center ,plus next to the river Loch, with cruises to the outlaying islands in the Gulf of Morbihan. Hotel Le Marin, 1 place de Rolland, more info at Auray tourist office here http://www.auray-tourisme.com/hotel-le-marin/auray/tabid/8258/offreid/0ddff275-23d1-4ae4-bfac-c0bcb8f64113/detail.aspx  and the hotel has its own webpage here http://www.hotel-lemarin.com/  What you see its true, very lovely, I would recommended to my friends.

We went by looking to locate the new school of my twins and came upon about this marvel the Chapelle Saint Avoye or chapel of Saint Avoye, in nearby Pluneret,near Auray. I have read about it, but this time was close to it to see. A wonderful architecture marvel from the 16C in the middle of country farms. Very nice indeed, took some shots,not open yet but will surely come back, more info here http://www.auray-tourisme.com/chapelle-sainte-avoye/pluneret/tabid/8277/offreid/94fce16c-17c4-41a9-b03d-67ff6dae885f/detail.aspx#

In all we saw a bit more today,and will get better so much to see in a new beautiful country. And we are centrally located in Auray ! Now some photos I hope you like,and come visit soon ::)

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