Archive for January, 2013

January 24, 2013

Some news from France LXXXXVI

Ok this is beginning to be cold now its about 1C then we expect -6C for tomorrow and -5C for Saturday, with Sunday at -1C the day I am leaving for Indonesia for a week and my blog will be silent. Anyway, didn’t want to go without my usual write up on things happenning in France and mostly my fav areas.

Talking wine in general the Univ of Michigan in Detroit USA wrote a survey on wine drinking there and found out what we already know, France is third. California is first, and Italy comes second. Knowing the US market of cheap wines,and the large immigrant population not French, but 3rd place we take and screams…victory. webpage of complete study here

Basically the study shows American wine sales are concentrated for over 50% on five  firms, these are according to Euromonitor for 2011 as  E.J Gallo Winery (22,8 % market share with brands such as Barefoot Cellars, Carlo Rossi, Twin Valley…),the Wine Group (15,9 % with brands such as Franzia, Almaden, Inglenook…), Constellation (12,8 % market shares with brands such as  Woodbridge, Robert Mondavi…), Tinchero Family Estates (4,8 % market share with  Sutter Home…), and  Treasury Wine Estates (4,5 % market share with Beringer, Penfolds…).

In my other love ,Cognac, we have an increase in sales in the USA. According to the Bureau National Interprofessionnel de Cognac, , there were  168,1 millions bottles of  cognacs sold in 2011 with a sales volume of  2,39 billions euros.  The growth has been of 3,2% in volume and 16,7% in sales from the previous year of 2011.   The USA is tops in volume with  139 335 hectoliters sold up  +2,8 % , followed by  Singapore with 82 057 hl up, +8,6 %, and  China with 68 906 hl AP,up  +8,9 %). UK comes in next at 27 589 hl AP,down -2,5 %), and Germany 18 322 hl AP, down 14,9 %. France had down of -12,4 % ,so once again the best of France is sold abroad !!!

Alicia Keys will be in Paris at Bercy Village on June 24-256th so my girl on fire will see me there or I will explode in madness…I am in touch with her in FB lol!!! and on tour in Lyon and Marseille too. This Bercy Village appearance will be the 10th anniversary of Bercy Village too. Here is for the ticket and place layout info,–  and the bercy village site at

If you want to come close to Belgian fries in Paris then head for my favorite all time there, De Clercq, 184, rue Saint-Jacques,75014. Tél. +33 01 43 54 24 20. open every day as well as at  169, rue Montmartre,75002. Tél. +33  01 42 21 49 57.I hangout on the 14 near my old work office, and now when by Paris entered in MOntparnasse so there you will find me ::)  You have  formules from  7,20 to 9,90 € (7 menus burgers classiques or «maxi»), from  5,90 to  8,20 € (6 menus snacks).  a cornet or cone of fries in 3 sizes  2,50, 3,50 and 4,50 €. web

They are in Paris and near where i used to lived in Versailles, Carnar, for your best lean Argentine beef, the real beef from the Pampas plus empanadas or rolls of stuffed beef, my favorites, and all you need for a great barbecue ,you find it here This is a grocery store not a restaurant ok..

Chocolates of the amazonian equator in France, great chocolatiers the Chocolaterie Beussent Lachelle, we first came into them while attending the maxim’s sauveur et vins on the Seine at port de Suffren for many years, and eventually visit them at Beussent, great family story from France to California back to France.., see it here on addresses

I was offered this site (Pariswebtv) by a friend in Paris a while back,and it has been my window away from Paris, you can see reporting on Paris from fashions to gastronomy to monuments to quartiers, enjoy it as I do, sharing is wonderful.

And the same site gives you a flavor of the many districts of Paris here of course its in French, original and unique Paris from Paris1972.

Finally ,last night took a collegue visiting on work here from South Africa, seems to enjoy the galette and crêpes of Brittany with a breton beer from St Colomban; at my favorite place in Auray, posted before ,here it is again, Crêperie Saint Sauveur, Auray Tel  +33 02 97 56 35 53, where the lady of the place is 5 months pregnant expecting a boy!!! galettes a la madrilene, complet, with crêpes of apples and chocolate syrup call charlotte with expresso coffee.  no web very Breton ::)

Until next month stay warm ,cheers.

January 20, 2013

Concarneau a city within a city, the ville close.

This is one of those towns you would like to visit and visit , nothing espectacular, just a strange attraction to the old and quaint and airy. It is about a an hour from me along quaint old departemental roads close to the ocean. I did a privious post on it back on January 8 2012 in my blog,so this is almost the anniversary. Of course , I am talking about Concarneau in the Finistére dept 29 of Brittany. For reference the tourist office site is

You best reach it by car, along the N165 expressway motorway from nantes-brest. Get off at exit/sortie coat cong no 51 on the road mapping, and go down on the road D70 to city center. However, i do it several ways ,and for me the most scenic way is to get off at Kérandréo exit 48 on the road D4 you go past Pont Aven (see previous post on my blog) ,then follow signs on the road D783, much nicer ride.  You can come by train from Paris Montparnasse to Rosponden or Quimper and take a bus here. see  the webpage for public transport in Brittany.

You have beautiful rides along the blvd Alfred Guillon to the beaches especially that of Sables Blanches with great views over the city. spent the whole day visiting the wonderful ville close or fortified city within a city, with its grand rue Vauban and the place du petit chateau, get to know the intimate of its wonderful shops especially our favorite the chocolatier Larnicol right on rue Vauban, the main street inside the fortress. See them all here and they are two stores here in  Concarneau,

You have wonderful breton cookies and cakes done at La Trinitaine, another of our favorite stores in the area, always recommended, they are in the ville close too at rue Vauban, webpage How about a nice pizza at Lobelys, 9 Avenue du Docteur Pierre Nicolas,  webpage , facing the ville close but outside across from wonderful parking at place du 8 mai 1945, and close the the covered market Les Halles. Here you have a big market with foods and other items on Fridays outside, however, inside there are 17 stores front welcoming you everyday from  8H to 13H , and some from  17H to 19H30. Offering are fresh produce, seafood, fish, sausages cold cuts, fruits ,flowers, meats, cheeses, and regional products such as fish conserves,  crêpes,breton cakes and many more.

The in between period we spent inside the ville close, or fortified city ,only 380 meters on its longest stretch and  100 meters on it average widest point. A wonderful time as it was chilly and hardly anybody there but locals and daring like us ::) See the nice church of Saint Guénolé, built in 1830. It was partially destroyed in  1937, and now only remains the facade and the base of the belltower. Inside you can see the cannons from the ship Venus now on displayed, get up on the tour du gouvernor, The belltower or Beffroi  done in 1906 on the old guard post lookout, that can be seen from outside and nice quaint from the inside, and of course the ramparts, (this time close due to the windy weather). The other attraction not stop this time but very nice and worth the trip is the museum of fishing or musée de la Pêche, main entrance inside the ville close. A wonderful unique place to see the fisherman life, boating and fish industry of the area, webpage

See the granite houses along rue Vauban, very nice architectural insight into the area and its inhabitants, as well as the nice Chapelle de l’Hôpital de la Trinité done in the 15C. 16e siècle Concarneau possède une chapelle-hôpital.  It was dedicated to the holy trinity. Its two halls could welcome several sick men and women. The halls gave direct access to the chapel, and from their bed could do their daily routines, it was to care for the homeless ,however by the 19C the hospital was in ruins. Only remained the wooden door facing rue Vauban. We can today admire the door in pillars and cap in stones and on top the blason or idenity shields of the founding lords. To the right of the door, there is a modest statue of St Guénolé done in 1954.

We were a bit late so we try another resto in the pl du 8 mai 1945, at the street alongside it, La Croisiére at 11 Avenue du Docteur Pierre Nicolas. This is family own serving delicious seafood/fish dishes and some meats. tel +33 (0) 2 98 97 01 87.  There is a pleasant modern salle or room in the street level and a nice with great views on top looking towards the ville close and the pleasure boat marina, with a nicer terrace in good weather . All that with great food of mussels, fish, pizzas and white meats. We had dourade royale or sea bream type fish in sauce nantaise (butter sauce) and rissotto with mushrooms, a large pint of bitburger german beer, and a café gourmand (expresso coffee with small cakes panacotta, brownies, sweet meringue cookie), the rest had assortments of mussels rocquefort,curry, bretonne (bacon=lardon, onions, cream,and white wine), tea gourmand with the same as coffee,and more pints of beer bitburger,and a juice non alcoholic drink for the wife, all five for 120€. Just my number and the food was fantastic, the welcome very warm and the server from the marne dep 51 (Champagne) lol!!!

On our way home, we had some groceries to do so we due that is was cold weather, we stop at the Leclerc hypermarché just outside Concarneau on the road D783 and did our groceries there. Coming home same route it was a breeze. Another weekend trip in wonderful Brittany or Bretagne or Breizh. Cheers.


January 19, 2013

The artist town of pont aven and more….

This morning was very cold, but rather than stay home (tough to do for me) I gather the gang and head out for the wonderful historical area of Pont Aven. An artists heaven for years.

The town is there since 1790, but did gather real fame until the American artists began to arrive in 1865.  The American Henry Bacon was the first one, and describe the city as “Its the most beautiful village that I have ever saw until now, with its strange bridge below a river rapids that make turns several wheels of a windmills with the waters going to the ocean ,short distance away”  Bacon while in Paris finds his friends Robert Wylie and  Charles Way, both from the Philadelphia academy,and soon many others come from the USA,London, and the Nordic countries. Others follow such as local boy André Even, Marcel Gonzalez,writer and poet Xavier Grall (bust in main square and promenade after his name), the local heroe of WWII Daniel Lomenech, and the great Paul Gauguin, making 6 trips here from  1886 to 1894; and those that follow him,such as Cuno Amiet, Mogens Ballin, Emile Bernard,Robert Bevan, Ernest de Chamaillard,Henri Delavallee,Maurice Denis,Emile Dezaunay, Charles Filiger, Eric Forbes Robertson,Emile Jourdan, Charles Laval,Gustave Loiseau, Maxime Maufra, Jacob Meyer de Haan, Henry Moret, Roderic O’Conor, Ferdinand du Puigaudeau, George Rasetti, Louis Roy,Armand Seguin, Paul Serusier, and Wladyslaw Slewkinski. Too many to detail here but you can learn more now.

Next in fame here were the windmills or moulins; by 1880 ,there were 15 here, their names, Haut Bois, du Plessis,Moulin Neuf,Kermentec (painted by Gauguin in 1894), Kerniguez, Petit Poulguin,Pénanros,Scierie Brunou, Petite Tourte, Poulhoas,Rosmadec, Porte Neuve,Ty Meur,Grand Poulguin,and Petit Pénanros.

You have nearby the megaliths stones call Menhirs of Kerangosquer I, and the Dolmens of Kermac or Sainte Maudé.  Walking from the  rue des Meunières towards the place royale you have facades of nice homes from the 17 and 18C.  There is a nice museum or musée de pont aven, with more than  1300 paintings of artist painters of the school of Pont-Aven, but is currently under construction until end 2014, the webpage is

ahh you get here like me by car on the N165 to sortie or exit Kerandreo road D4, follow signs for  Pont Aven,easy. or the train stops at Quimperlé or Quimper from Paris in about 4h20 mins. By bus you have regular lines from the train stations of Quimper or Quimperlé to  Pont Aven, Pont Aven – Quimper : (1h10mn), Pont Aven – Quimperlé : (25mn) , get your bearings here

not a real tourist office webpage but the address is at  5 place de l’hôtel de ville 29930 Pont-Aven – Tél. +33 (0) 2 98 06 04 70 Fax.+33 (0) 2 98 06 17 25. Open all year Mondays to Saturdays from  10h-12h30 and  14h-18h.  More in French at the Brittany tourist site,

One thing to bring back is painting from the sea scenes, and the Galerie Plisson, with branches in Brittany is my favorite, gorgeous paintings, here in Pont Aven they are at rue Emile Bernard , webpage

The church of Saint Joseph was built in 1872 at Place de l’Eglise, smallist by local standards more like a chapel. You need to take the walk or promenade Xavier Grall along the river Aven and the windmills and river rapids, nice for a picnic in summer lol!

The highlight of the trip was to find another Chocolaterie Patisserie Larnicol chocolate store here, it is one of the original , George Larnicol was born in Quimper nearby. The store is right in city center at 4 Place Paul Gauguin . Lovely place with lots of chocolates, caramels, guimauds yummy gummy chocolates, fish shape chocolates and the kouignettes of many flavors is sublime!!! a must here/ Not to mention they have women clothing from the 1940-1980 for sale of American origins. Just one of our favorites in the area, webpage  you can see he has expanded from his Breton base even to Paris.

Here are some pictures of my forays today. Enjoy them as I do.

Pont Aven Pont Aven Pont Aven

January 18, 2013

Paris ,yes Paris is always in my mind.



Well this is snow time in most of France,and we were not spare. Brittany is under snow of just one inch and already causing problems; by nightime the snow was mostly gone but still some icy spots. IN the Paris area it was worse, school transport was stopped and the Paris airports had some delays and cancellations.

In the Paris region is still snowing ,here it has stopped. So bear in mind the ice specially. IN other regions came to -4C in Normandy. Rennes had 3-5 cm of snow, really nothing for my previous residences but here it is a mess.  Poitiers had  heavier snow at Futuroscope. It is big news here but really no big deal when you are use to 30 and more cm of snow from living in New Jersey USA for 13 years lol!!!

Paris will have -1C or about 30F so be careful with the ice. Sunday will continue to have snow in Paris.  The RER A is having late and delays; as well as RER B the one connecting to the CDG airport. RER C to Versailles is normal.  all info is here

you have info on Paris for visitors here in English ,

A site to let you know the electricity plugs and power in the world and handy anywhere is kopla

You want to know where are you ,and where you have been ,as well as seeking wifi areas around the world check here

And would you believe, there is a site for the descendant of Louis xiv that would be the legimitate king Louis XX of France,  and

want to find any address, almost anything in the world and of course Paris, check this out

private parking to go to CDG airport in Paris, with ride to and fromthe parking to airport at

Statistics on world wine comsumption etc at OIV;

Finally the 9 arrondissement of Paris was my walking neighborhood when was working in Paris for 9 years, so here is a brief description starting with the wonderful Opéra  You have nearby the wonderful wide screen presentation film on Paris at Paristoric, 11 rue Scribe ,  Then you have the musée de la parfumerie (Fragonard) at 9 rue Scribe,  The historically wonderful Olympia at 28 Blvd des Capucines, you have the grands magasins or dept stores like Au Printemps at 64 blvd Haussmann, and Galeries Lafayette at 40 blvd Haussmann. église or church de la Trinité at 3 rue de la trinité just around from blvd haussmann and galeries lafayette, built in 1867, Casino de Paris, 16 rue de Clichy,Musée de la vie Romantique at 16 rue Chaptal, . anecdote that on 66 rue de la Rochefoucault,   Victor Hugo lived here! at place Gustave Toudouze you will find a Wallace fountain and a Morris column. See the place St George where the lorette girls were the incarnation of a church and statue now in the plaza; and off of it is the rue St George with the théatre Saint George,

Moving on for the wonderful 9th or 75009, you see the Musée Gustave Moreau at 14 rue La Rochefoucauld , the painter died here in 1898/  by here you are in the area known by locals as the new Athens or Nouvelles Athénes. Rue Saint Lazare communicating at the no 58 with the 56 , and rue taitbout,at no 80 gives access to Square Orléans of Napoleon III architecture where on the street at No 9 Chopin lived and at No 5 Georges Sand lived. You move into church or église Notre Dame de Lorette, 18bis rue de Châteaudun,built in 1823 . And don’t forget to walk the Grands Boulevards of  des Italiens, Montmartre, Poissonnière, Saint Denis, and Saint-Martin going into adjacent arrondissements.Especially the passage des Panoramas (first gas lights in 1817) at 14 blvd Montmartre ,done in 1800 and passage Jouffroy at 12 blvd montmartre, that links with passage Verdeau. Follow up at no 10 blvd Montmartre with Musée Grévin,  At No 32 rue Richer, you see the Folies Bergére nightclub ,  Continue at 16 rue Cadet you see the Musée de la Franc-Maçonnerie, or Masons museum at  at no 5 rue Drouot  ,you find the mayors office of the 9éme arrondissement de Paris,

Enjoy Paris and the 9éme . Cheers

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January 17, 2013

Some news from France LXXXXV

Well now the winter is not only here but the snow is coming;…already in some parts of France especially the east and southeast, here in the northwest it is announced freezing icy roads tomorrow by the Meteo service ok…

One of the news is that Germany is getting back the gold it kept in the Bank of France ,374 tons of it.  In the 1950 fear of an invasion from the Soviet Union ,they decided to spread their gold around with most of it in the USA and other portions in England and then France. Just in time to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Franco-German friendship agreement. The depart will be done over five years for security reasons lol!!!

The petite Ceinture or little beltway around Paris of railroad tracks is going to be for some future use now.  32 km running parallel to the  boulevards des Maréchaux, the problems of keeping it as green basin around Paris or making it use for transports more efficients; THe local citizen will have the opportunity to express their opinion to the mayor’s office of Paris until February 14 with a special webpage for it, here

And who wants to see the sewers of Paris, I admit ,saw it once, and thats it. However, it is very popular and folks still ask me about them and discussion on travel forums is lively.  The égouts de Paris, came in their actual self in the 19C alongside the great works going on by Baron Haussmann. This network of water evacuation is the work of Engineer  Belgrand.  They have a total of 2100 kms!!, and takes the treated waters of the sewers of Paris to the treatment plant of Achère in the Yvelines dept 78 and then to the river  Seine. You get there by Quai d’Orsay Kiosque face au 93 with metro Alma Marceau line 9, admission is 4,30€. info webpage

Another eerie site where I have been again once, is way underground in the catacombs of Paris or The Catacombes de Paris. Here, the bones of Parisiens taken from cementaries at the 18C found their place. It is made up of many galleries or ways, you can only visit some of them.The visit is done at daytime with a guide on the best maintained galleries. Part of the visit is done amongst human bones! Entrance is at 1 avenue du Colonel Henri-Rol-Tanguy , Paris 14.  You get here on the metro Denfert Rochereau lines 4 and 6 or RER Denfert Rochereau B; admission is 8€;  webpage However, keep an eye on the site, as they are now close and no dates as when they will be available.

Update on the Catacombes !!! It is having problems and close to the public again.  First it was the lights for the 2KM of galleries went out, last november, the ventilation system failed, and it was just put in there in 1995!. THe city has ordered tests of air quality for all visitors and employees. Last september it was some damage cranes holding the ceilings that made the place close too. Those problems still going on, and the question has been raised if the place need permanent closing!!! The good of this is that the musée Carnavalet of the city of Paris has been able to open more rooms because of the personnel available from the catacombes! profiter!

One historical moment and place to see is the Chapelle Expiatoire, this chapel built in the 19C in memory of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette on the exact site whre their bodies were buried after been executed on the guillotine. It is neo classic architecture in the center of the plaza or square Louis XVI ,that is, 29 rue Pasquier, metro Havre – Caumartin lines 3/7/8/9/12/13/14. Admission is 5,50€  open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 13h-17h (closed Nov 1 and 11, Dec 25, Jan 1 and May 1, right now it is close so check here if available, +33 (0)

Some of my favorites passages in Paris that I will go by as in the city now are, Galerie Véro-Dodat,19 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, metro Louvre Palais Royal . Open in 1826, the gallerie is associated to  Véro and Dodat allowing to connect the  Palais Royal ,and the business quarter of the Halles.  It is classic decoration with marble and similar stores fronts, very original. And Galeries Vivienne et Colbert, by rue Vivienne . Open in 1823 and 1826 each, these commercial galleries are of original architecture of the Restoration period.  Its frequency was less and less starting from the period of the Second Empire and abandoned early on the 20C. They have been restored from the 1980’s with new stores and  salons de thé. metro Bourse. Passage Choiseul, 44 rue des Petits-Champs on metro Quatre-Septembre, line 3.  It is close to the  théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, and open to the public in  1827.  The passage Choiseul is one of the longest in Paris, and very well lit. The stores have a floor and in between floor of shops. Passage Verdeau,6 rue de la Grange-Batelière ,metro  Richelieu – Drouot lines 8 and 9. One of thet last ones done, it was built in the same basis as the Passage  Jouffroy.  Passage Panorama and Jouffroy, at Boulevard Montmartre ,metro Richelieu – Drouot lines 8 and 9.  The passage des Panoramas  is one of the oldest covered passages in Paris. originally they were two rotondas where  James Thayer  show his  panoramas. AFter great success he decided to link by a passage in  1799 with one full of stores of luxe. Even with the disappereances of  panoramas in 1831, the passage did not lose popularity around the Grands Boulevards full of theaters of grand public. It is compose of one large gallery and five annexes.  The passage Jouffroy  is one of the newer covered passages of Paris, opening in  1847.  It is at the axe of the passage des Panoramas ,and its metal structure gave reasons as to its success even today. It houses shops and a gallery connecting to the museum of wax or  Musée Grévin.

Right at my Versailles ,there is the expo Versailles in the antiquity, or Versailles et l’Antique running to March 13 2013.  It has been said that Versailles is like a New Rome, the castle constantly gives reference to the antiquity and mythology, and the taste for the many monarchs that lived there show in the impressive collection inside.  All the powers and powerful of the 17C wanted it, however, more than any it was king Louis XVI who went out to acquire or copy all the glory of Rome.  Versailles is therefore, a real sanctuary of the antique arts.

Until we read again ,cheers and get ready for the weekend, life is beautiful. La vie est belle mes amis.

January 11, 2013

Some news from France LXXXXIIII

Here is coming another weekend ,actually just realise its the first weekend of 2013, and came home early from work. Some of the nicest activities coming up, many I have taken part in the past.
This is the museum of hunting and nature or musée de la chase et nature; hunting under the Croates,  until March 31  from tuesdays to Sundays from 11h to 18h  except Holidays ,night out on Wednesdays until  21h30, it is located at 62 Rue des Archives  near metro Rambuteau, webpage

There is a beautiful show on fashion at the museum of decorative arts or musée des Arts Décoratifs, ” Two centuries of European fashion 1700-1915″ or Deux Siécles de Mode Européenne 1700-1915. Located at 107 Rue de Rivoli  at the pavillon Marsans extention of the Louvre. webpage

The best new place tried lately is Le Repaire de Cartouche at  8, boulevard des Filles-du-Calvaire, angle to the rue du Pont-aux-Choux ; here all is orange and nice chic, you need to try these  terrine de lièvre au chocolat , you have about 50€ per person here but all is worth it. Here is the webpage on the site I write in French reviews, and my blogroll address,

Another marvel for a morsel and a glass of wine is Le Dauphin Wine Bar, 131 avenue Parmentier, by Canal St Martin, Bastille, Republique, you need to reserve your table, nearest metro line 11 Goncourt.  offers lunch Tuesdyas to Fridays and dinner Tuesdays to saturdays. webpage

For the near term the Musée Picasso 5, rue de Thorigny  Hôtel Salé closed since November  2011, has been renovated with all the space dedicated to collections and expositions, the main plaza inside or cour d’honneur, the garden, historical decorations, all will be ready by September or October 2013. Webpage

The Musée Galliera located in a mansion of the duchess de Galliera, and now the fashion museum of city of Paris or the Musée de la mode de la Ville de Paris 10 Avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie ,re open with an expo dedicated to  Azzedine Alaïa.Same time around Sept Or Oct. 2013. webpage

The wines of Alsace or the Route des vins d’Alsace is celebrating 60 years in 2013. It was officially started on May 30 1953 and its the oldest wine route in France. It is 170kms long starting from the town of Thann, then  Marlenheim, passing by  Colmar, Ribeauvillé, Bergheim, and Barr. In June 2nd there will be a course on foot thru the vinyards done by the tourist office and the wine council.  Here is the offical site of the route de vins

Go over closer to me at the Loire, the famous valley of the kings, but not just kings. Here the great Jean-Armand du Plessis known as Cardinal Richelieu has built a castle around 1630. RIchelieu had powers beyond cardinal, as he was the Prime Minister of king Louis XIII as well. THe castle was the biggest castle built in France before Versailles!!! It housed the important collection of works of arts of the Cardinal. It was abandoned in the French revolution, and demolished in 1835 except the dome, the orangerie, and the chais that you see as you walk around the place today. IN 1877  a rich man banker MIchel Heine buys the property,and starts a period of restoration from the 19C. It is about 50 minutes from Tours on the A10 autoroute sortie/exit Sainte-MAure. Open all year from 10h to 19h except Nov to mar 10h to 18h FREE Admission.  and his official site in French,

see the wonderful Demeure de Ronsard, Prieuré de Saint Cosmé . From its foundation in 1092 to the 18C there was a community of monks at the prieuré in route to St James de Compostelle. Many French kings came here from the 15C to the 16C especially for the coming of Pierre de Ronsard that became priest in 1565 here. The “Prince des poètes”  or the prince of poets received here the visit by  Catherine de Médicis and her son the King  Charles IX.  At this place Ronsard saw his last days and died December 27 1585. the  prieuré is dismantled from 1742. It stays as is until the bombing in WWII in  1944.  In 1951 after many long renovations it opened to the public again. Admission is 5€ ,and you get here by bus La Riche, close to Tours on bus  3A – Pléiade, webpage in English,

At the Chateau de Saché, you have Balzac. He was born at nearby Tours in  1799,he the author of the Human Comedy or ” La Comédie humaine” stay close to his region all his life. From  1825 to 1848, he visites regularly  Jean Margonne, friend of his parents in the  château de Saché. He stayed at the room in the second étage or floor (USA third floor).  Here he does  Le Père Goriot, Louis Lambert, César Birotteau , and Illusions perdues . The chateau de  Saché serves as inspiration for his work in the romance of ” Le Lys dans la vallée” . Admission is 5€ , and you get here by the A85 sortie Chinon, then the road D751 direction Saché, its about 15 mins from Azay-le-Rideau and 25 mins southwest of Tours. In summer bus I of Filverts takes you on the run Tours Saché , webpage

And who can forget Rabelais, the writer  François Rabelais was the son of Antoine Rabelais attorney at the royal seat of Chinon.  He was born at the end of the 15C (around 1483 or 1494, the date is uncertain) at La Devinière.  He passed the early years of his life here, located in  Seuilly in deep Chinon country.  He left this Touraine country around 1510 to learned and gained experiences at Angers and Poitou then he writes at the faculty of medicine at Montpellier learning the medical sciences. It is at  Lyon that he writes his first two romances called  Pantagruel (1532) and Gargantua (1534). He was censured and condemn by the theologist of the Sorbonne for heresy.  He made several trips to Italy and then re entered France and received the status of Doctor in 1537. The work  Tiers Livre, Quart Livre is published while still living and the  Cinquième Livre  comes out after his death in  1553 at Paris. Admission is 5€ and you get here on the A85, sortie/exit  n° 9 Chinon, direction Chinon by the  D751 ,only about five minutes from Chinon and 15 mins from  Fontevraud.  webpage

 Ok to end a bit of  Brittany, Bretagne, Breizh, where I live now. In the world famous big town of Auray ::) a bit of background on my new city in France.  Auray comes from « aula regia » (cours royale).  It is said in Breton An Alren ,and at  one time it had the most important megaliths or stone collection.  The high town or haute ville was the seat of the old castle (now in ruins) and the parrish of  Saint-Gildas de Rhuys (now church Saint Gildas),and was on the rive droite or right bank of the river  Loch (the river of Auray), while the ville basse or lower town had the parrish of Saint-Goustan, where a harbor was developed, both connected by a stone bridge of  Saint-Goustan, cited since 1295 (and still here!). It is in 1364 at Auray that the big battle for the succession between the families of Montfort and Blois takes place. Charles de Blois, duke of Brittany was killed and Bertrand Du Guesclin made prisioner. A convent was founded by Jean de Montfort on the site of the battle (still here !) In the 13C the city is in the midst of wars between France and England until the annexation of Brittany to France in 1532.
The monks Capucins then later the Cordelières come to established themselves at Auray between  1610 and 1632.  From the 13C to the 17C Auray has three hospitals including the hospital of Saint Julien and the Hôtel Dieu Notre Dame. The religious order of the Miséricorde come to the hospital Saint Julien by 1636. The Augustines comes to the hospital Notre Dame by 1674.

 Hope you enjoy and sorry for the script I change everything hitting some button and can’t bring it back, tech tech tech lol!!! where is my typewriter ::)



January 10, 2013

Some news from Spain X

Talking a bit about Spain,my other love and origins from Tenerife. I lived in Madrid so know the city well, and still visit often 3 or 4 times a year.

Madrid is my younger days, just that are never forgotten, full of chasing girls and playing football/soccer in the Real Madrid organisation. Well some still can’t stop lol!!!

One of the thing I enjoy while in the city is the polideportivo, the sports complex, a place to mingle share stories and meet well many people ::)

For a visitor to stop by these places will be a deep insight into the life of the city, something you won’t find in any travel guide.
some of those I hang out with were the Casa de campo district at PASEO PUERTA DEL ANGEL, 7 open Monday to Friday from 8h45-20h30. In summer it is open Mondays to Sundays from 11h to 20h30. It is closed Dec 24, 25 ,31 and january 1 ; May 1. You get there by Metro: El Lago, Puerta del Ángel and buses 31, 33, 36, 39, 65, 130. They have pools, weight rooms and good for all ages. You ,also, have a lake here for boating.

Other was at the Estanque del Buen Retiro, the famous park. at PASEO DEL ESTANQUE, 2 .You have boats, pedal boats, sailings, running trails, open at 10h and then it closes depending on the season from 17 to 20h. you arrive here on metro Retiro or Ibiza and buses 1, 2, 9, 15, 19, 20, 28, 51, 52, 74, 146, 152 and 202 as well as suburbian or cercanias train Recoletos.

PArque Municipal de la Elipa, at Moratalaz district was the closest to me,and my main area, played Baseball there for the Real Madrid organisation (yes at that time they sponsor Baseball at all levels on a league of 8 teams including the USA air force base at Torrejon de Ardoz). location at CALLE ALCALDE GARRIDO JUARISTI ;open every day from 8h30 to 20h30. You reach on metro Estrella or buses 71 and my old bus line 113 today (it was the P13 back then long time ago ::)) In addition to baseball ,you have softball, football/soccer, aeromodelism , table tenis and tenis, weight room and gym plus a nudist area lol!(now) Volleyball, handball,badminton, jai alai or basque pelota game; you name it ,it is still huge.

And the La chopera inside the Parque del Buen Retiro, by CALLE ALFONSO XII, 48 (you go there by the archway or PUERTA DE MURILLO) , open mondays to fridays from 8h30 to 20h45 and Saturdays and Sundays from 8h30 to 14h45 . You get here by Metro: Atocha or Retiro;buses 1, 2, 15, 19, 28, and 146 as well as train station Atocha. Other than jogging you can do here handball, football/soccer, indoor football soccer, football 7, weight room, tenis, and basketball as well as pedal boating in the lake.

In other, Sergio Ramos got a five game suspension for fowl language to the referee during Real Madrid win 4×0 over Celta de Vigo in the Spanish King’s Cup eighth finals. He will missed the two Cup games vs Valencia plus league matches vs Valencia, Osasuna,and Getafe. Hard blow adding to the injured Pepe and Marcelo in defense. The club is in third place in the Spanish first division LIga BBVA and also in the eighth finals of the Champions league of Europe next will be in February vs Manchester United.

in show business, Julio Iglesias and Miranda Rhysburger have decided to send their kids Miguel Alejandro (15), Rodrigo (13),the twins Victoria and Cristina (11), and Guillermo (5) to normal private school rather than teaching them with private tutors at home in Miami and PUnta Cana. Now they will go in Miami to the Miami Country Day School, one of the most prestigious school in the State of Florida.

Next if you like to listen to top 40 music from Spanish music leader Los 40 Principales and other music from the world as well, hookup here

And if you want to know more of my origins than see my grandparents region (on all four sides lol!) the Candelaria region of Tenerife, Canary Islands of Spain, and read the story of the Guanches;

You need Spanish or a translator service but if you want to know about Spanish wines, then read the best guide over many years there Guia Peñin, webpage here There is a blogroll in the bottom of my page with many links one is in Spanish too about Bodegas in Spain by region with all contact information, it is here for ease of reference, just hit the barrel and it takes you to the region of Spain. Other than ordering from El Corte Inglés department store in Spain, this site is my favorite for ordering and information on wines too ,also, in Spanish, and do not know if they ship outside of Spain,

For last, one of my all time restaurant from near home, Jota cinco, already a chain in its own right, the first one open in 1970, on my street Calle Alcala , they are at No 423 at the corner with Arturo Soria, metro Ciudad Lineal line 5 of course. webpage

Enjoy Spain, savored Madrid, as the saying goes From Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day.Cheers

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January 9, 2013

Brussels and the Autoworld museum

The last of the saga of forays into Brussels this past December 2012 was the wonderful museum of automobiles call AutoWorld. This was great, really enjoy it and recommend.You don’t have to be a car aficionado to like it as there is history here too. I am a road warrior and car lover since my days in NASCAR Daytona Beach (11 years between living and school).

I have been to auto museums but this one is the best for sure. You have more than 250 cars, that includes motocycles, jeeps, fire truck, etc, you have a nice restaurant and neat complete boutique store. All the vehicles are arranged by motives and era on two floors of exhibits. The temporary expositions are there all year with newer and spectacular vehicles to see, even garages, and road racing competition areas, check the webpage. You have an educational space by Autoworld that shows the ins and outs of the automobile. On Sundays there is a restoration workshop to show how to keep these marvels.

You can hold meetings and events here, in fact while we were there the tables were all decorated right in the middle of the museum! to hold a New Years dinner! lucky few….The opening hours are From April 1 to Sept 30 10h to 18h,and from October 1 to March 31 from 10h to 17h; admission adults is 9€. The direction to get here is simple ,however, we took it tram 25 to Montgomery and came from outside the city into it walking as we like to see more ::) Restaurant service is nicely available, and it has its own webpage at

a brief historical lines, tell us that the main force behind this was king Leopold II idea to making Belgium keep up with the joneses,,,, and the Universal Expo of 1897 was it. In order to connect the museum of Colonial history at Tevueren to the Cinquantenaire Park where the rest of the exhibition was taking place, the avenue de Tervuren was built. The large halls that now house the Army and Air Force Museum and Autoworld date from that period.
All these development thru the years led to the formation of the Autoworld museum in 1986

You get here from city by metro line 1A and 1B Station Mérode, and by bus /tram 81 / 82 22 / 27 / 61 / 80. The official webpage is at

Enjoy the Auto World at Brussels. Cheers!

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January 8, 2013

Brussels and the Royal Armed Forces Museum!!!

So my Brussels saga continues with the wonderful inmense museum of the Royal Armed Forces at parc du cinquantenaire.

yes, my most memorable experience to visit and then some bit of disappointment. I have been here before on quick trip alone, then finally visit Brussels with the family and took them here. The initial experience was good,then lunch time arrived.

The museum has a peculiar time schedule that it closes at noon, and speaks out on public announcement that you can stay in the Aviation hall or the restaurant (very convenient). We didn’t want it cafeteria style food in the resto,and don’t like to wait an hour doing nothing. So decided to come out, boy that took some times, there are no signs to let you out and all door into the museum were closed!!! When we finally ask at the resto they told us there is an exit hallway by the WC lol!! this is the rest room! Never would figure in my life the exit door was by going thru a bathroom /rest room first, but here it is. Oh well we got out,and lesson learned not to get caught at lunch time here.

The rest was nice historical ,wonderful ,full of great airplanes, tanks, military heavy equipment, uniforms, and swords, rifles etc from the Napoleonics times to the present. There are presentation of historical events with the equipment use all the time, see the webpage for udpates.

You have theme spaces coming from main entrance,going thru a Dutch gallery, then the Belgian war of 1830, a technical area of weaponry and armaments, medieval, Napoleonic era, 1914-1918 WWI era, the Russian gallery , the Tanks (many American tanks here) display in a patio open area in the middle of the building, you have a huge Aviation dept with planes from many countries including Mig soviet era, Navy gallery area, upper level hall Bordieu with light machine guns,a contemporary European conflicts gallery and Belgium during occupation.

in addition, the museum offers a trace of most if not all airplanes lost over Belgium in WWII.
Today this record includes 4281 losses from Air Forces of the following nations: Belgium 98, France 100, Britain and Commonwealth 1515, United States 732, Italy 17 and Germany 1819. Research is conducted on over 1000 aircraft losses for which detailed information is still missing

All is house by the parc du cinquentanaire, monumental building, first pushed by King Leopold II idea of bringing Belgium to the forefront of nations. For the 1910 World Exhibition, Louis Leconte collected about nine hundred objects and called his compilation Musée de l’Armée / Museum van het Leger (Museum of the Army). These objects were to give the visitor an idea of the history of Belgian armed forces in the 19th century. The exhibition was a big success.
After World War I, things moved very quickly. The collection grew considerably because of numerous contributions by private persons and through the support of several foreign governments. After 1919, the building bulged with so many items that new housing was necessary. A new home for these items was found in the northern wing of the Jubilee site. On June 28, 1923, King Albert I officially opened the Military Museum. Louis Leconte had been dismissed from active military service and was appointed head curator. During World War II, the occupying forces closed the Museum down. After the war, the collections once again opened to the public. Where it continue today to marvel the world of its wonderful displays.

There is a museum boutique shop open every day exept Mondays
9h to 12h and then 13h to 16h45
The Skycafé resto is open from Tuesday through Sunday between 10h30 to 16h20 ,kitchen is open Kitchen 11h30 to 14h
On Mondays, January 1, May 1, November 1, December 25, and election days

you get here by Tram 81 and 82. Bus N° 27,28,36,61,67,80. Metro Schuman or Merode (Line 1). Train Schuman or Merode Train Station
however we took tram 25 stop at montgomery and came into city  from outside into the park

A overall wonderful experience, hope you enjoy the post. Cheers

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January 6, 2013

Brussels and the Atomium!

No its not the end of the world, this atomium is very peaceful. Just sitting there in a vast park complex of sights , gearing high into the sky at 102 meters high. As in many cities, this tall structure has become a symbol of Brussels. Not too much into high rises even in Paris, but you need to be here once lol!!!

It was set up to show case technology for the Universal exposition of 1958, and that was it. However, the popularity rose from there to new highs today,and it is there to stay.

There are 9 spherical balls of which 5 are accessible to the public; there is a permanent exposition on the the Universal Expo of ’58 in spheres 1 and 2;the other 3 are to show temporary expositions on spheres 2,4,5.  The most expectacular views is from the bottom taking one of the fastest lift/elevators in Europe (about 5 meters per seconds or 18kph ) you go to sphere 7, where there are glass windows to give a marvelous view of the Brussels sky. The information is given in several languages.

You get here from city centre Brussels by taking the metro line 6 stop Heysel that leaves you about 300 meters from entrance thru a parking area you cut it in half. The open tour bus does stops here at about 20 meters from entrance.  You ,also, can take metro line 1 at De Brouckére (near Grand Place) to Beekkant and connect with line 6 there to Heysel.

Some figures for the monument are extraordinary, The spheres are connected by 20 tubes or connector escalators with 12 stops; it has 45000 photos in Flickr, 60000 in picasa, 13000 in facebook, and 600 000 visitors per year. You can rent it for private affaires 100 of them last year, visit by a dozen heads of state etc. There are five imitations of smaller scale in the world such as OZD Hungary, Minimundus Austria, Universal expo Seville , Miniwelt Lichtenstein, and Parque Europa Torrejon de Ardoz outside Madrid. Other structures offering similar views in the world are Tour de Tokyo, Fernsehtrum Germany, La perle de l’Orient China, Tour Eiffel France.

You have a panoramic restaurant at sphere 8 or level 8; and snack areas on the Atomium webpage for which we decided to eat out in the Village between the Atomium and Mini Europe and not a good choice it was. L’Arbre d’Or was slow, unipersonal, pricey, touristic but then again nothing new , you are in a very heavey tourist area.

The webpage for the atomium is here  and the Bruparck park complex with many other attractions some a topic for another post is here

The atomium has an area fro kids and school outings.  done on special shop days or with school tours.  In all, we left with the impression we have been here before, another high rise tower with a view. HOwever, its very popular with folks from all over the world, and a visit at least once is worth it. Enjoy the Atomium!. Cheers

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