Archive for April, 2012

April 30, 2012

More of Paris ,why not, Paris ,Paris ….!

I am on my Labor Day holiday in my house in Versailles and meeting friends and business have taken me to Paris quite often. I am at home relaxing today, and preparing the trip back to Brittany tomorrow. Hopefully the news of all moving will come soon. I will be going to Bucharest, Romania from May 2-4 on business, so hopefully can take some photos of that little adventure…..

For now we will have Paris, always Paris, eternal Paris. Words cannot describe the beauty and attachement I have for the city, nor photos (nice for the compliments but I am not a good photographer). Each time is a lung of fresh air and medicine to go on to other venues, know them, appreciate them, even like them, but we will always have Paris.

I went on my day to the voie George Pompidou thru the porte de passy into Trocadero ,pont de l’Alma, ave George V, Champs-Elyssées, but this time I found me again free parking by the cours de la Reine along the Seine, and just behind the Grand Palais.

We walk past beautifully architecturally stunning rue Bayard into Place François I whre we saw the headquarters of YSL, and walk ave de montaigne along to rue George V, just glorious. The American Cathedral is under renovation the whole front entrance, webpage http://www.americancathedral.org/

The streets were full of tourists from all over in a nice sunny day, not cold,and glorious military event under the Arc de Triomphe, webpage at http://arc-de-triomphe.monuments-nationaux.fr/en/  . We stop by Virgin Megastore, a huge one, and my boys favorite to get some Ipods, and ruined me ::) http://www.virginmega.fr/

We had our coffee and croissants at the famously nice Fouquet’s,and more drinks at the virgin store cafe on third floor (second in France). http://www.lucienbarriere.com/localized/fr/restaurants/nos_restaurants/fouquets.htm

I leave you with some photos driving and walking in Paris , including the fame Théatre champs-elysées where the top floor has a wonderful cafe and great views of Paris on ave montaigne, webpage  http://www.theatrechampselysees.fr/  the views of the Eiffel tower from pont de Grenelle to quai de Branly, to cours de la Reine, the tower all over;;;;; the tunnel crossing on cours de la reine into the voie George Pompidou;  http://www.tour-eiffel.fr/

The open house tourist bus zigzagging Paris with tourist galore, and yes maybe one of you ::)  The wonderful Armenian church , main in Paris at Rue Jean Goujon, near the Seine and cours de la Reine, great architecture and of course great church for that denomination, official site http://www.eglise-apostolique-armenienne.org/index.php/Les_Paroisses.html

A bit down the road closer to the cours de la Reine and the Seine we have the church of Notre Dame de Consolation, a beautiful Catholic church in a great area to walk with the family. Official site  http://www.paris.catholique.fr/658-Chapelle-Notre-Dame-de.html

Finishing off the photo gallery and trip with the statue monument to the Belgians and Reine Margot for the efforts of WW’s off cours Albert 1er and ave Montaigne. Another wonderful period spent in Paris.  Enjoy the ride on photos.

April 28, 2012

Paris 16 arrondissement and La Gare…friends.

Well today was a very special day indeed. I am back at home in Versailles,and had some friends coming over from Chicago USA. We discussed things in other travel forum and they were making a trip around cities in Europe. Of course, Paris had to be included.

We teamed up with some local friends, an American and a French lady, and with the couple from Chicago we had lunch at my suggested restaurant La Gare, Chaussée de la Muette , line 9, metro Muette in the 16 district or arrondissement of Paris.  It is no surprise to my readers as it is my fab resto in Paris, not only come here with family even for Sunday brunch but all visiting friends gets a taste of it lol!!! webpage http://restaurantlagare.com/

Needless to say the conversations were funny, witty, nice, friendly, and of course long…We had our lunch reservation for 13h or 1pm and we were there past 17h or 5pm!!! We almost had lunch with the staff as we were the last to leave ::)

I always find amazing the human spirit, that abounds yet not fully use today. How can total strangers from far away lands can intermingle on the internet, come to share views, and ideas, and eventually meet in a city such as Paris and most of all become friends. It is so wonderful indeed, and I am very lucky to have friends all over the world that once in a while get to meet like this,and to even more get to repeat meeting like this. OF the four attendants two were repeats of previous encounters in Paris.

I like to thanks the folks from Chicago for allowing their precious time in Paris to be share with me, just another guy from nearby Versailles now on its way to Auray, once my house is finally sold in June. We will cross again , indeed this is really a small world , my friends. Thanks for the memories and the time spend today, to each of you Frances,Cecile, Rich, and Sue.

Of course it was without saying that I needed to walk around this area, its a fantastic opportunity to see again the parc and jardin Ranelagh, with the wonderful statues, that of La Fontaine fable story, the children playground from a far time mine also played there, and the nice walk around the area even all the way to Trocadero and the Eiffel tower on the locals route.

At the end, I end up taking most to the champs-elysées passing on rue de Passy to Trocadero on the back side, then past the newly renovated Palais de Tokyo, into the quais along the river  past place de l’Alma,voie George Pompidou, cours de la Reine ,and into the place de la Concorde, turning around that beautiful plaza to head up the Champs-Elysées, dropping them off just before the Arch de Triomphe, and me continuing on to ave Foch and into the A13 direction Versailles/Rouen and my exit 5 chateau Versailles to come back home. Now nostalgia sets in of a wonderful afternoon.

Too bad it is just one afternoon, folks like these ,deserve more time ,maybe neighbors , at least friends for life. Thanks for the memories.

April 25, 2012

Paris, Paris, Paris, should I say more…..?

I had my trip to Paris, it was 3 days spent on my favorite city. IF you are a first reader to my blog, dont worry, I lived for almost 9 years in Versailles and worked in Paris. This time came back for a business conference for an association I am a member,and it happenned to be in the area where I used to worked.  On the first day I took my car and use my old favorite parking at théatre Eduard VII facing  15, Rue Edouard VII a Vinci park webpagehttp://www.vincipark.com/vincipark.nsf/fr/ville/pages/75009.htm

On the second day , I landed at gare Saint Lazare that on previous posts had mentioned it was totally renovated, with over 80 stores, and it has. Looks marvelous, you think you are in a shopping center and not a train station.  This is their new webpage http://www.stlazareparis.com/  and the official SNCF info on the station is at http://www.gares-en-mouvement.com/en/frpsl/votre-gare/

You then go out into cour de Rome and walk into rue St Lazare to go to my conference hotel right there magnificent Concorde Opera Hotel.  the pictures are no make over, the impression is real, wonderful; a great bar,the Golden Black bar and a wonderful French cuisine resto Terminus Cafe. The very essence of class, Paris class is here. So convenient to the Madeleine, Opera,department stores, nice goodies from Paris,and my favorite shopping street rue Tronchot leading to the Madeleine and around it.

We went out walking and I was the leading men;;;;People ask for a resto and I suggested two nearby, on rue caumartin near the théatre Eduard VII, great lovely area. And the experience was sublime, the choices were Restaurant La Taverne De L’olympia, 25 rue de Caumartin or the Moulin à Caffé ,  22 rue de Caumartin across the street. the gang of about 10 persons chose the Moulin à caffé and it was very nicely service ,great food, funny actics of the owner server, and the fun for everyone nice prices, tournedos de boeuf avec cepes, haricot verts en pommes sautées, with coffee,big 50 ml beer  1664  ,and all for 26 euros .webpage http://www.lemoulinacaffe.net/

We had on the next days lunch at the hotel but on monday we venture out courtesy of the conference organiser and chose the Au Petit Riche, 23 rue Le Peletier, 75009 walking from the grand dept stores on Haussmann to rue Le Peletier left , and it was a great choice. We were stuck on second floor or 1er étage in France, nice view over the window on the street below, and away from the more noisy street level area. We had duck,califlower, coffee, and pastry peach mousse, all with plenty of red wine from Bourgueil,Chinon, and Saumur in the Loire area.  The resto was recommended by the hotel staff and it was as usual when done by experts a great recommendation; webpage http://www.restaurant-aupetitriche.com/fr_FR/

In all the free time I wandered around Madeleine,the train station St Lazare, Au Printemps dept store, the parc Ranelaigh about the great La Fontaine, and my fab restaurant La Gare at chaussée de la Muette. Driving on Rue Royale, around pl de la Concorde, the area around the opera Garnier, the théatre Edouard VII, the rue de passy,the palais de chaillot , and the unique historical and architecturally stunning McDonalds at rue St Lazare.

It was a memorable experience, Paris is catchy , it is said that once catch that air and the virus sits in, you will never be the same person, and will have all the positives for the rest of your life, just for been in Paris.  I write in other travel forums and I have said, Versailles thank you I will never forget you, and Paris, what can I say;;;should I say more ?

April 21, 2012

Some news from France LXVIII

Well here I am just getting ready to go back to Versailles and then Paris for a conference of 2 days. My twin boys arrive just now on TGV from Montparnasse Paris,and were so lucky as has been raining here on and off with golf balls of ice!!! then the sun came out; great ;we have the power lol!!!!

The going back  got me my Paris bugs flying so here is another episode of Paris and France for you.

The Désert de Retz, popular with artists for many years, then closed for several years,and now its officially open ( I told you was going to open on previous news)  238 years of history comes back, 20 hectares of land bordering the golf course of Joyenval,just by the town of Chambourcy (dept 78 Yvelines) . the visits will be until October with two Saturdays per month and only with reservation. Complete information as  visits the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the months of April to October. Time to be prepared to spent is about 2 hrs  obligatory reservation by calling +33  (0) 1.39.22.31.37 or at the tourist office of  Poissy, tél. +33  (0) 1.30.74.60.65, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, tél. +33 (0) 1.30.87.20.63 or Marly-le-Roi, tél. +33 (0) 1.30.61.61.35. admission is  10 € adults and 5 € enfants from 8 yrs up .  You have the webpage for the towns tourist office as well here

http://www.poissy-tourisme.fr/fr/

http://www.ot-saintgermainenlaye.fr/

http://www.marlyleroi-tourisme.fr/

Some ideas in Paris Matisse au Centre Pompidou , enjoy the night days from Thursdays to Mondays until 23h (closed Tuesdays, and at 21h Wednesdays). Place Georges-Pompidou ,webpage  http://www.centrepompidou.fr/Pompidou/Manifs.nsf/AllExpositions/74951096E37F5FB0C125795F00364512?OpenDocument&sessionM=2.2.1&L=1

“Degas et le nu ” at  Orsay . Edgar Degas  shows  nudity in paintings présenting  170 paintings, posters and designs as well as sculptures of the artist. Every day except Mondays from 9h30-18h (21h45 on Thursdays). Admission is 9€ adults and 6,50 € children. webpage  http://www.musee-orsay.fr/fr/evenements/expositions/au-musee-dorsay/presentation-generale/article/degas-et-le-nu-30632.html?tx_ttnews[backPid]=254&cHash=9cb3345b8a

A new renovated Palais de Tokyo is open,  showing the work of contemporary artists with a huge opening exposition call « la Triennale ». Every day excepts Tuesdays from mid day to mid night .Admission is 8€ and 6€ ; 13, avenue du Président-Wilson webpage  http://www.palaisdetokyo.com/

then to to the Grand Palais where Helmut Newton will show its big photos of mannequins ,erotism, and the violence in the fashion world. Especially see the photos on Isabelle Huppert, Catherine Deneuve and Jean-Marie Le Pen. From wednesdays to Mondays and 10h-22h Admission are 11€ and 8€ . Avenue Winston-Churchill  webpage  http://www.grandpalais.fr/grandformat/helmut-newton/

Go to the Cité des sciences and see the latest discoveries by the inhabitant the Gaulois,and their  agriculture…From Tuesdays to Saturdays and from 10h-18h, Sundays until 19h. Admission 11€ and 8€ . 30, avenue Corentin-Cariou , webpage http://www.cite-sciences.fr/francais/ala_cite/expositions/gaulois/

Tropicomania,see the social life of plants tracing their journey from tropics such as the banana, pineapple,etc to your supermarket. Free admission from Tuesdays to Saturday and hours 11h-19h . see it at 9 esplanade Pierre Vidal-Naquet Halle aux Farines 75013 nearest metro  Bibliothèque François Mitterrand (line 14) webpage  www.betonsalon.net

The jazz joint is back in operation again, newly renovated, Le Trabendo, 211 avenue Jean Jaurès  Parc de la Villette. so if you like Jazz check it out, webpage http://www.letrabendo.net/  hey hey who doesn’t like jazz ?

And a sweet news, last March 5th was born  Loango, a male Mangabey monkey (Cercocebus atys lunulatus),in the infirmery of the Jardin des Plantes . He was rejected by the mother and the jardin keepers took care of him.. You can come to see how he is fed with biberons (fruits and veggy cook) every day from 12h-16h. webpage  http://www.jardindesplantes.net/rencontres-avec-les-soigneurs-de-la-menagerie-6

 The tourist office of Versailles is full of activities, too numerous to mention in my little blog but I will put the webpage there and it is in English (we are so good ::)) http://www.versailles-tourisme.com/en/whats-on.html  You have the wars of Napoleon as well as horse shows in the ecuries, and the water musical events as well as Jazz ::)
One in Amboise in the castle laden Loire, my favorite one and city, we do a promenade gourmande into the vinyards tasting local goodies and their wine including my house wine Domaine Dutertre. The proceeds go to the Lions International of the Loire, Amboise les 2 Vallées. Good food ,great wine, and a good cause in beautiful territory, it is one day on a Sunday July 1st and now thru my blog you are all invited. webpage http://promenadegourmande.free.fr/
Closer to me now, the Tonnerre de Brest boat show:race is coming July 13-19 2012. More than 2500 boats from all over the world. Done every four years now its that time again at Brest . About 30 countries are invited to each festival and for one week Brest is transformed into the biggest port in the world. Over 7 kilometres, the quaysides roll out the red carpet to hundred-year-old sailing boats and other remarkable vessels. An invincible armada, with around 20,000 sailors parading their uniforms to the tune of dozens of musical performances and the backdrop of villages draped in the colours of the world. the Brest Maritime Festival a global exhibition of the maritime world. webpage http://www.lestonnerresdebrest2012.fr/en
Have a great rest of weekend everyone ,cheers.
April 20, 2012

My trip to the roots where all begun ,Cuba

Well this was a business trip with my company but took advantage to see the family still there and nostalgic moments in my life. It all began here for me many many years ago. My last trip there goes back to 1998 so this was a nice opportunity to go to La Habana, Cuba and others.

I took a long flight it seems endless from home in Brittany, went by car to Nantes airport; which you can change to English, at http://www.nantes.aeroport.fr/ANA/Page/  following the road N165 all the way to exit D201 Nantes Atlantique signs about 1h30 minutes. Then took a regional Air France flight to Amsterdam,Holland, change there to KLM for the flight to La Habana about 10 hours !!! lol!!! http://www.schiphol.com/  and finally arrive in Havana, http://www.cubajet.com/airports/jose_marti_international_airport.asp

I stayed at a Casa Particular of by now my friend Rogelio in Playa, absolutely the best coffee in Cuba!!! The men can do it any time as many times as you want. Stories about Cuba abound from all periods;great company while in the house at calle 76 E 15 y 17 playa, Miramar La Habana near the business center of Miramar and the hotels. If you need accommodation I can pass on the telephone to contact the son Pedro Luis who is a terrific guy and my driver while in La Habana.

We went to eat at EL Palenque, the resto of the Convention palace nearby, great Cuban food, why bother with all those international places if in Cuba eat like a Cuban. Calle 17 y 190, Playa.. Ciudad de La Habana tel  (53 7) 203-8222 . We had not much time so I took a ride on the Malecon, went over to the old church of San Francisco de Asisi, the Morro ,Fuerza ,and Cabanas castles, we had business lunch at Restaurant 1830 at Calle Calzada esq. a 20, Vedado. Ciudad de La Habana tel(53 7) 55-3090-92 . There was a special treat at a casa paladar on a fifth floor of a house but could not remember the name as it was at night and friends rode me there, we had lobsters supreme with a view of the city.

From i went to my native town of Punta Brava, just in the borders of the city of La Habana, visiting family aunt and cousins, I ate at a typical Cuban casa paladar in pesos nacionales, a dish of roast pork,moros black beans,yucca,tostones in garlic sauce, salad of tomatos and lettuce, plus coffee and four beers for two persons at 10 CUC or about 260 Cuban Pesos Nacionales. Just in Calzada before turning left to Guatao, the old Carretera Nacional.

I went further inland to visit another aunt and cousins at Cayo La Rosa, off Bauta, this was a huge textile plant of 5000 workers done by Americans now in ruins. The village have not change much, and took a ride with my cousin in an electric moto on the town ,crazy but a great and cheap means of transportation there now.  And proud of myself was able to take my local driver there as he did not know how,and I did with 14 years span of memory lol!

of course in each visit i ate with the family and reminicents of the old days, telling me what a nice guy I was …………………..::)

Finally, it was time to come back again, and took my flight from La Habana Jose Marti International airport, very easily, this time in route to Paris CDG, http://www.aeroportsdeparis.fr/ADP/en-GB/Passagers/Home/ on Air France. The plane was full and cheapy company me had economyclass but was bump up to Business Class ,and it shows the difference, very nice flight of 9 hours to Paris CDG. There change again on AF to Nantes, and took my car from the airport parking for the trip home after paying 54 euros of parking fees. Cheaper than renting a car lol!

I hope it wont the last trip like this, and will say that even if the system is the same, the faces of the buildings have improved from last trip, and I look forward to the future when all can have a pleasant place to visit with family and no life’s inconveniences. Some photos.

April 14, 2012

Another inland beauty in the Morbihan, Maletroit and St Marcel

Well on the occasion of my company annual semi marathon get together and this time they were hosting the agricultural communities in Brittany, I was drawn to Maletroit, inland Morbihan. It was a thrill to find another beauty here, and on passing saw little historical St Marcel as well. A great Saturday indeed. I am preparing for another foreign business trip so today is the day to put new things in my blog.

No train station, there is a bus line no 4 from the train station in Vannes or pl de la LIberation in Vannes to Maletroit, this is the schedule on TIM http://www.lactm.com/clients/lactm/upload/fichiers/int-l4-hiver-edit-2.pdf  Then best is by car from Vannes take the N166 direction Rennes and come off at exit D776 Maletroit, follw the signs for the city. Or a bit further or coming from Rennes closest is the exit D10 Serent/Maletroit. From Nantes you take the N165 to the N166 direction Rennes and follow above. Its a gem and only by car.

Maletroit as other 23 cities in Brittany receives for its historical richness the title of « Petite cité de caractère ».or small towns of character. All works around the river Oust, that connects here with the wonderful Canal Nantes-Brest. You have many things to see here and a day will be filled with goodies to enjoy,such as the place du Bouffay (houses from the 15C to 16C intermingle), L’île Notre-Dame(isle of Notre Dame between canal and river), church of Saint-Gilles (12-16C), chapelle de la Madeleine (where treaty of the 100 years war was signed), monastery of the Augustines, see and walk medieval streets such as rue du Général de Gaulle, rue Sainte-Anne ,and rue des Ponts (houses from the 15 to 16C), see the stone shales in purple, green,and blue, sand, tiles, stones, and granite in the architecture of the buildings and houses.See the windmill of flour,and the ecluses or levies on the river and canal, plenty of houses of wood front from many years old since 15C ; and see the house of water and fishing or maison de l’eau et de la pêche.

The city tourist info is small here in French http://www.malestroit.fr/tourisme-et-patrimoine/presentation-et-actualite  , more information is in the site for the towns of characters of Brittany here, http://www.cites-art.com/les-petites-cites-de-caractere/visiter-les-petites-cites-de-caractere  bottom of the page is Maletroit. There are others some already commented on my blog.

The church of St Gilles was under renovation but still open, and very nice in a pedestrian section by the pl du Bouffray, really nice,the most impressive is the meridional  façade shown very high on the front. On each side of the south portal you have two doors sculpture from the 17C, you can see encrusted on the wall the sculptues that comes from the church of the 11C, great reliefs rounded, chapters and corbets, all representing a melee of attributes of the evangelists (lion of Saint-Marc landed by  Samson  that symbolises maybe the man of Saint-Mathieu,the deer of Saint-Luc resting on a socket decorated with the eagle of Saint-Jeanand ) ,a nice place to eat at Bar du Bouffray lights meals and drinks (which I did) , other heartier restos abound. The places to stay I saw was a lot of chambre d’hote and gîtes, but just took a picture of one, the Auberge des corps garde for its historical context too, however it is now mostly a restaurant at  Entrée 4 rue du Gal de Gaulle just after the pl du Bouffray and the church. Most hotels are in nearby Rochefort-en-Terre,also showcase in my blog.

At 4 Faubourg Saint-Michel  ,you see the wonderful Monastery of the Augustines, and next door the chapel of the Immaculate Conception. A wonderful history even narrated in French at the webpage, There were Augustins on the isle of Notre Dame from 1633 to 1791, stop by the revolution . In 1828, Jean-Marie de Lamennais. that came to found the Congrégation des Prêtres de St Méen, buys the building and creates the  Novitiate. On October 25 ,1866,well welcome by the locals, the new monastery under the support fo the Immaculate Conception came back to be. However, the laws of 1902 against the Congrégations teaching in France needs to close and the Sisters flee to England. In order to continue the Sisters need to have a nurse degree to care for the sick. April 7 1915, the group arrives back again to Malestroit, the room welcome the refugees from Belgium due to WWI,  Friday September 13 ,1918, all the community gets together for a geste that give birth to a house, the consecration of the Sacred Heart that still is celebrated on that date to this day. The official hospital next door to the monastery has a webpage http://www.groupe-hospitalier-saintaugustin.fr/ in French and English!  In WWII ,they did heroic acts curing and guarding resistants fighters in their monastery and clinic at great risks,the Géneral Audibert, chief of the Résistance de l’Ouest, hid in the clinic, made prisioner and deported to Buchenwald, mentioned on his return « Elles ont agi avec joie, espérance et charité ». “they acted with joy, hope, and charity” BRAVO! This is their webpage in French, http://www.augustines-malestroit.com/index.php

Other wonderful thing to walk ,see and admire is the magnificent Canal Nantes Brest that passes the town along the river Oust. A guide with all amenities ,things to do, lodgings, and eating out, along the whole Canal is here http://fr.calameo.com/read/000001315ba06c06a6207 , the traject with highlights here http://fr.calameo.com/read/000001315a4af9c366225 A bit of info on it, the Canal link the two cities in the name from Nantes to Brest, taken the valleys of the rivers Erdre, Isac, Oust, Bravet,Doré,Hyéres,and Aulne; these rivers are link by three canals that joints flanking the lines of water. Its construction goes back to the first half of the 19C and it has 364 kms long. The idea was to link by water as by road was more difficult the whole of the Dukedom of Brittany, idea as far back as 1538. After many hesitations and the ravages of war, the project took fly in 1803, and was achieved in 1858 ,with the presence of emperor Napoleon III and the Imperatrice Eugenia at the levy of Guilly Glaz.

On my way to Maletroit, passed by St Marcel, and notice a sign for the Museum of Breton Resistance in WWII or Musée de la Résistance Bretonne. it was a pleasant surprise for military history lovers like me; the weapons are all spread out n the yard from guns to bunkers and great history inside. If by car, you can combine a visit to both St Marcel and Maletroit very nicely and get away from historical,navigable ,and military sightseeing at its best.  The inscription in their site pretty much sums up everything indeed,  Saint-Marcel,in the forests of Lanvaux, sheltered the largest Breton maquis, where on June 18, 1944, a memorable combat of the Brittany and French history proceeded. Before the allies unload in Normandy, the parachutists of Free France were released on Brittany, and in the days which followed to Saint-Marcel where 2500 Breton gathered. These feats of arms of Resistance in Brittany, one of the first areas of France recognized for its heroism and its sacrifices, deserve to be recognized, explained, commemorated and preserved forever. You come here and you too will recognised them.  You reach here bycar on the N166 from Vannes or Rennes, and get off at D776 direction St Marcel/Maletroit, at the roundabout take direction St Marcel and follow the signs to the museum. webpage in English http://www.resistance-bretonne.com/en/practical-informations.html

Enjoy the photos as I do, and have a great rest of the weekend.

 

April 13, 2012

My Madrid, Alcala, how can I forget you!!!!

I am flying thru Madrid this time and memories flash back again. Its a mythical city in my life. I lived there as a young poor boy, and was so much welcome and accepted that its memories have lingered over the years. My heritage is from Tenerife on both father and mother side, and I was there like home.

This street or calle de Alcala has 10,5 kms long from the Puerta del Sol to the Ave de la Hispanidad,passing by the best of Madrid. Yes, it was and always will be MY street. For those who knows,  I lived in working class Madrid away from tourist center,right the locals, and the experience its great, each time on the city. Thanks God it has been often after I left it in 1974.

Who has not heard of this song Los Nardos from the movie Las Leandras with Rocio Durcal in 1969 “Por la calle de Alcalá, con la falda almidoná y los nardos apoyaos en la cadera, la florista viene y va y sonríe descará por la acera de la calle de Alcalá. El buen mozo que la ve va y le dice: “venga usted a ponerme en la solapa lo que quiera, que la flor que usted me da con envidia la verá todo el mundo por la calle de Alcalá…”  Meaning, On the street of Alcala with the skirt well pressed and the the spikenard on the hips, the florist come and go, smiling widely on the sidewalks of the street of Alcala. The good looking waiter that sees her ,tells her, come with me and put me on my vest anything you want, that the flower that you give me, will be seen with envy throughtout the street of Alcala. Something like that.

Here is a rendition in youtube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlEwDxu6dAA , and this one another favorite from Rocio Durcal, Viejo Madrid or old Madrid, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzlKafz9Ij4&feature=related  ohh can I cry?

The street began in the early 15C on the old road to Alcalá de Henares ,and reaching to  Aragón,and was call then calle de los  Olivares the street was started by masons, horseshoe artists, and carriage rentals with mules, and was the beginning of the diligences or people mover in the whole of Spain!! When Madrid became the capital of Spain in the 16C,more luxurious mansions and palaces were built on it.

Given way to the Puerta del Sol, until 1856  was the site of the church and hospital of  Buen Suceso,founded by king  Carlos I ;later it was the Hotel París, the most elegant of Madrid at that time, and on the bottom floor it was the venerable Café de la Montaña, now gone. At the corner with the calle de Sevilla,it was La Equitativa insurance company  building built between 1882-1891  you see the facade with heads of elephants under the balcony of the first floor  crown with a small tower and clock : in 1920 the Banco Español de Crédito purchase the building.

Continue on and see the old Customs or Aduanas building, and continue to see the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, built in 1724-1725;follow this up with the Casino de Madrid built in 1905-1910  in the old building of the palacio de Villarroel.  Se emblematic building of Madrid, in the corner with Caballero de Gracia,and beginning of the  Gran Vía,see the French style palace of Union and Fénix, finished in 1910 . Its cupola a city landmark today ,used to be crowned with a ave fénix  symbolising the old company ,but in 1975, when the new company took over was change to a victoria style statue, this is the company or building  Metrópolis.

Moving right alont on old Madrid, as you crossed the Gran Vía and calle del Marqués de Valdeiglesias, you found the  Casa del Párroco, first building done between 1910-1912,as part of the public works to do the Gran Vía.  Just after you have the old theater or Teatro Apolo,considered a cathedral of the small art, capacity for 2,500 persons and built in 1873. Here was first played the greatest zarzuelas in history such as La verbena de la Paloma (1894), La Revoltosa (1898), and Doña Francisquita (1923). It closed in 1929, after being purchased by the bank Banco de Vizcaya for its headquarters in Madrid.  Going on the sidewalk to the right crossing the calle de Sevilla,you first see a building for the Banco de Bilbao built between 1920-1923.

You follow wondering the street and see the old Education ministry building or Ministerio de Educación, built in  1929 ,and it has a beautiful room or salon de Goya, and a completer gallery of pictures of all its ministries.  Another emblematic building and great for snack and coffee, is the El Círculo de Bellas Artes done in Alcala by 1921-1926 webpage http://www.circulobellasartes.com/ag_acceso.php You are about to reach Cibeles, and on the right you see the Banco de España built between  1882-1891. Right by the angle to  calle del Barquillo,in a former palace now you find the Instituto Cervantes. Right after at the old palace of Buenavista you now see the Cuartel General del Ejército de Tierra (headquarters of the Army).

You then reach the plaza de Cibeles,done under king Carlos III, with a nice perpective of the Puerta de Alcala. You have here the old Palacio de Linares (built 1873) , today the wonderful  Casa de América,to the left, and the palacio de Comunicaciones (old post office of Spain) today is the seat of the Mayor’s office to the right, built in 1905-1918. On the left sidewalk you see the now reopen until different beat the old  Cervecería de Correos, that have the peña or gathering group of  Federico García Lorca, and the Café Lión,with its famous crypt of La Ballena Alegre (happy whale) that have frequent visits by many  great names of Spain such as  Valle-Inclán, Penagos, Bergamín and Francisco Ayala;as well as politicals such as Azaña, Calvo Sotelo , José Antonio Primo de Rivera, and after the Civil War, such as  Dámaso Alonso and Vicente Aleixandre…And to the right you see the wonderful gardens del Buen Retiro.

Puerta de Alcalá, yes we arrive at the grand daddy for me, need to be here always visit by, the church of San Manuel y San Benito, built in 1911.  The Puerta de Alcala was done under king Carlos III in 1778 by Sabatini. At the entrance to what today is calle de Serrano, an old execution site of the Holy Seat, was the old primitive first bullfight arena of Madrid done in 1799. The current plaza Monumental de Las Ventas,was built in neomudéjar style in 1931.http://www.las-ventas.com/ Around it many wonderful bars such as La Tienta, La Divisa, La Monumental, Los Timbales(my all time favorite in the area), El Albero, and Los Tarantos.

A bit after by metro Quintana you have my hangout when in Madrid at Docamar, since 1963 ,the best patatas bravas in Madrid, lol!!! http://www.docamar.com/

And the calle de Alcalá continuos it crosses the road M-30, and goes across the districts of Ciudad Lineal(Quintana) and San Blas ,finally ends running parallel to the avenida de América,in the interchange Eisenhower,where the road A-2 (carretera de Barcelona) and road  M-14 (avenida de la Hispanidad or carretera del Aeropuerto to Barajas) crossed.

Yes I lived at Calle Alcala 331, 2do A, Buzon 67, Madrid, metro Quintana ,line 5 yeaaaahhh!! I love you Madrid. Thanks for the memories and my mother who is in heaven thanks you too.

 

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April 11, 2012

Some news from France LXVII

Hello this is the midweek interlude of things to tell and whisper. France is on the move and so am I.

Accor just announced will opened 45 hotels in India from now to 2015 to become the first foreign hotel operator there, read in French at my favorite Le Figaro, http://www.lefigaro.fr/societes/2012/04/04/20005-20120404ARTFIG00680-accor-veut-ouvrir-45-hotels-en-inde-d-ici-a-2015.php

The Galerie Lafayette again goes thru a renovation period to make them prettier, if like they are not already lol!! My favorite, I am a customer and online newsletter from them.  They are going to invest 800 millions Euros over five years. The objective is to give more space to the big brands on the lines of bags, shoes, watches and jewerly. The «shop in shop» Vuitton, Cartier , and Chanel  will be in two floors with each its own private stairs. The lines ready to wear or prêt-à-porter women, now on five levels will be regroup in three levels ,the lines of records cd will close and the spaces left for cosmetics and toys will be reduce. However, the fifth floor will be entirely dedicated to children clothing.  The tourist in force here, they account for  60 % of sales at the store at blvd Haussmann. The renovations will allow to double the area for welcoming tourists with three spaces dedicated to them. One for the Japanese, and Americans on the basement or sous-sol, another to the Chinese at street level or rez-de chaussée, and the last one especially for Brazilians that are up and coming force of tourism here. All in French again at the fabulous Le Figaro, http://www.lefigaro.fr/societes/2012/04/10/20005-20120410ARTFIG00617-les-galeries-lafayette-de-nouveau-en-travaux.php

Same source, the best sandwiches in Paris, nice to know for those on the budget coming to the city of LIghts, not all but some of my favorites for a lunch on the run are  Le Petit Vendôme, 8, rue des Capucines, IIe. Tél.: 01 42 61 05 88. open everyday except Saturdays and Sundays  sandwichs between  4 and 6 €. webpage from my French resto avis or tips which I have as a link here on my blog below page, http://www.cityvox.fr/restaurants_paris/le-petit-vendome_68691/Profil-Lieu*

L’Avant Comptoir , 3, carrefour de l’Odéon, VIe. Tél.: 01 44 27 07 97. open everyday from 12h-23h. menu  6-8 € (sandwich + drink). One of my favorite places in Paris for just more than a sandwich, webpage  http://www.hotel-paris-relais-saint-germain.com/

Cosi, 54, rue de Seine, VIe. Tél.: 01 46 33 35 36. open everyday from  12h-23h. menu at 10 €. Sandwich at 6,50 € and a nice bench by Jardin du Luxembourg lol!. Flottes and Go 2, rue Cambon, Ier. Tél.: 01 42 60 00 84. open everyday  Formule:about. 17,40 € with the plat du jour + 1 dessert + 1 drink.CARTE: env. 10 €. Sandwichs from 5,50 € (le Parisien) to the great Cocorico at  8,50 €  part of the empire Flottes all good, webpage http://www.brasserie-flottes.fr/flottesandgo/.

Then some events coming up are Bob Dylan, l’explosion rock,Musée de La Musique  ,to July 1st 2012.From Tuesdays to Saturdays from 12h-18h,and Sundays from 10h-18h.webpage http://www.citedelamusique.fr/francais/Default.aspx

And ,Chick Corea & Gary Burton, great combi piano and vibraphone at Salle Pleyel, the 17 of April 2012, webpage http://www.sallepleyel.fr/francais/concert/11733-chick-corea-gary-burton-duo

Dont forget the best market flea or no flea in the world ,the marchés aux puces de St Ouen, webpage http://marcheauxpuces-saintouen.com/1.aspx with the renovated and vibrants Paul-Bert (founded in 1945, 250 stands, dedicated to a mixing of styles from the 19 and 20 centuries, and the  Serpette (open in 1977, 150 stands), occupied by the antiquearies or antique shops, with a new resto Ma Puce with deco by Philippe Starck , a cantine chic and branché with 300 seats, and half in the terrace.

Closing with a nice webpage on what was Paris at the time of Philippe Auguste circa 1200 lol it was still beautiful, ::) http://www.philippe-auguste.com/ville/index.html in French of course, but you can read portions of it and then have google or other site translated for you. Sorry but its long.

This just in so no need to wait for another post, the Lenotre at Champs-Elysées fully renovated and enchanting as always, at the Pavillon Elysées done in 1900 for the Universal Expo.. Also great for reception and business meetings ,this is whre I have been in, great, webpage http://www.lenotre.com/FR/Sections/Lieux/presentation-lieux-receptions-pavillon-elysee?IdTis=XTC-FK1A-D0CPB8-DD-DUQ4C-WPS

Cheers

Paris

April 8, 2012

Poissy ,the town of Louis IX, royal and saint

Happy Easter everyone!!! a typical day cloudy,and cold, but no rain, and it was another opportunity to be with the family at Versailles. I will be leaving tomorrow back to Brittany,and the Morbihan.

Poissy ,is a royal town of France, but ,also saintly. It was here that amongst other things Louis IX was born ,he who later became Saint Louis. He was baptised in the Collegiale de Notre Dame that still has the baptismal basin where he was baptised. You can see my previous entry on Poissy from June 2011.

This is the official Poissy tourist office webpage http://www.poissy-tourisme.fr/fr/

I started my day walking this wonderful city close to me, Poissy, is not on everyones walkpath when visiting Paris , so much to see and little time. However, I think its worth it for a day of sights and market especially on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

You have the wonderful Collegiale Notre Dame, this is where Louis IX and Philippe III were born and baptised. Louis IX became Saint Louis,the only king saint of France. See it at 8 rue de l’Eglise, and walking distance from the train station or gare where SNCF trains and RER A comes in from Paris. The station is right off the city center so very easy for walkers and no car is needed. There is a nice bus station next to the train station with transport to all including Versailles, on bus 24 to St Germain en Laye RER station and then Bus 1 to Versailles rive gauche.

You can wondered along Parc Meissoniere and see the still wonderful Chateau de Villiers, gorgeous gardens and forest and great architecture. Again just at city’s edge but still walkable from city center. Even thus the castle is not open for the visit wondering along the park is, and close up you can if willing to climb the hills around it, this time I pass. See it at 13 avenue du Bon Roi saint Louis. The days and hours for the parc are from Oct 1st to March 31st, Mondays to Fridays from 17h30-19h,the weekends and holidays from 9h-19h, From April 1st to Sept 30th, Mondays to Fridays from 17h30-20h , the summer, weekends and holidays from 9h- 20h, free admission.

Next you come to the rare combination of a Hotel de Ville or city hall govt building and theater in same building.  Built in 1935,the new Hotel de Ville on the place à l’Herbe ( the old market of cattle). The  décoration at the front is by Ossip Zadkine, the fresco in the hallway is by Brenson and the decoration  in the salle de Conseil (councelors room).  The theater next door was built in 1937 as the salle Moliére. For up to date info on the Theater contact email theatre@ville-poissy.fr

We move just across the street to the covered  market or Halle du Marché ,a wonderful building of goodies inside from veggies to fruits to beef, fish, seafood, and poultry ,outside you have a flea market type with all kinds of goods; easily walkable from the train station for an afternoon or day in wonderful Poissy. Built between 1825-1832, to house the cattles, especially those weaklings from the weather and heat . It was enlarged in 1852, with the help of metal structures just after those at the Halles of Paris by  Baltard. Now after a full restoration it welcomes the market 3 times per week on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays mornings.

Another wonderful institution here that my kids enjoyed when younger is the museum of toys or Musée du Jouet,1 enclos de l’Abbaye , housed in an old abbey, and 3 floors of wonderful toys of yesterday and today still going strong. A wonderful world for any child or the child in us ::)  Open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 9h30-12h and 14h-17h30. Closed Mondays and Holidays. You can see a nice video here at the city mayor’s office webpage 
http://www.ville-poissy.fr/fr/loisirs/vie-culturelle/musee-du-jouet.html

Last but not least , we had to have a drink or two, Easter we eat at home as the gang was waiting for the meal of the day, but I stopped in one of my all time favorites when used to come a lot to the city on business meetings, and on weekends with the family just to get out of the hundrum of daily life, was to stop by L’Instant café,bar,restaurant at 24 Avenue du Cep, tel +33
01 39 65 27 30 http://www.poissy-tourisme.fr/fr/se-restaurer/l-instant/

Hope you enjoy the balade, or walk around a wonderful town, and leave enough out to make you curiously inquire about this town, just be here.

April 5, 2012

Some news from France LXVI

Well here I am preparing the gang to go back to Versailles/Paris this weekend of Easter. We will leave tom night after my work day is over.

In the meantime, here are some updates on things happening in Parisland.

The latest film of Alain Chabat  « Sur les traces du Marsupilami. » or in the paths of Marsupilami, were done in the botanical gardens of Conflans-Saint-Honorine!! This trim trees gardens from the 10C in an isolated place match exactly those of the château du parc du Prieuré.

Another secret coming out with new traces, the death of painter Vincent Van Gogh, really killed himself n the wheat fields around Anvers on July 27  1890? Alain Rohan,the VP of the tourist office of Auvers-sur-Oise just wrote a book after 3 years of study on the subject.  This is right after Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith,two Americans who developed the thesis that a firearm was shot accidentally and killed the painter where the brothers Secrétan were involved. Counting on the fact that the weapon was never found.  Its not easy to prove that the revolver has been found, but this is left to the reader to decide in the new book by Rohan.

Then the National Library of Paris is finally going to be open to the public online! Almost a million books on the 15 millions available that the  Bibliothèque nationale de France (BNF), all this thanks to a project in numeration done under the name of  Dem@t-Factory and financially supported by the conseil régional d’Ile-de-France, and other general councils such as those of Seine-et-Marne as well as the region Cap Digital.

This is gathered from Le Parisien ,the local Paris newspaper who is a wealth of local information in French. http://www.leparisien.fr/  of which I am subscribe at home.

Recently I have read and been ask, many people asking for nightlife in Paris,well it has been a while for me, but having 3 high teens to low 20 kids boys, I am gathering very good update information. Some of these places change with the time and the mode, but in essence it offer all the same. Here are some making extra noise lately

Le Nano ,12, rue Sainte-Anne (75002). L’Inconnu17, rue de Mazagran (75010 ), Le Scarlette,24, rue Vavin (V75006) ,Le Ballroom du Beef Club,52, rue Jean-Jacques- Rousseau (75001), Le BC (previous BlackCalvados in my times) ,25, avenue Pierre-Ier-de-Serbie (75016) , La Bellevilloise 19–21, rue Boyer, (75020), Le Piano Vache 8, rue Laplace,(75005), Le  Fanfaron 6, rue de la Main d’Or, (75011) ,and one my boys have gone lately is rock n  roll Circus, by Pigalle ::) http://www.bar-rocknroll-circus.com/ I am sure you can find the webpages.

And last but not least,while in Paris see something unique, perhaps for those seeking something new, and magical and historical in Maxim’s by Pierre Cardin museum and cabaret, 3 Rue Royale, just of the place de la Concorde, webpage http://www.maxims-musee-artnouveau.com/

A bientôt sur Paris,::)

Paris

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