Archive for October, 2014

October 26, 2014

Some news from France, XCIII

Here we are in the middle of the Fall season, cool,gray but no rains! Just back from latest escapade and now tomorrow out again this time to Brazil for a week. Before that, let me tell you some of the latest  happening in my lovely country of France, with especial interest on Paris, bien sûr ::)

First, something past, the recent finished FIAC event at the Grand Palais and the docks of Paris was a great success and a rebirth of sort to the wonderful art of today.  This was the 41th edition and had 191 stands from 26 countries.  The Docks is the Cité de la mode et du design where about 60 stands were put up with representation of 13 countries.  The art work was carried into other parts of Paris such as the Jardin des Tuileries, Jardin des Plantes, the Museum of Natural History, place Vendôme, the boats berges on the river Seine, the auditorium of the Louvre, école des Beaux-Arts de Paris,and Silencio at the ground level next to the Seine of the Cité de la mode et design.  A great event in october stay tune for next, http://www.fiac.com/paris/en

The Samaritaine is coming along ,as political haggle slow down the process of the building permit ,stop ,than re started again. The project is led by the Japanese firm SANAA. It’s a perfect example of the paperwork maze and political rambling of Paris and France in general , that is making progress slow and other cities catch up to Paris’ charm.  Another example is the Alésia cinemas where the urban rules of renovation have impacted the modern techniques of today to do a job of bringing back these magnificent building even in a different twist.  There Is the Grand Paris project ,and It hopes that it will give the necessary push to achieve these projects and continue to maintain Paris at the top of cities to visit and enjoy.  This is the site and it is in English, so be aware of the transformation of Paris ;http://www.societedugrandparis.fr/English

Recently Paris magazine published by the Aéroports de Paris had an interview with Stephen Clarke, the English writer who lives in Paris. He came up with areas he enjoys in Paris such as Drouot the antique house at 9 rue Drouot, 9é. The Abbey bookshop with a Canadian owner, where Mr Clarke sold his first book, “God Save la France” 29 rue de la Parcheminerie, 5é; BHV Marais store where he gets his supplies at 36 rue de la Verrerie, 4é; Bassin de la Villette, for walks and petanque game, and the many small restaurants coming up, at 19é. Finally ,the musée Carnavalet, the history of Paris, 16 rue des Franc-Bourgeois, 3é, where I tell visitors to go too, and know Paris rather than the more popular places, here you know Paris, http://www.carnavalet.paris.fr/en/homepage

You need to try the center of Paris-Brest, Saint-Honoré, etc you know those delicious gourmet delicacies of France, try them at Les Fées Pâtissières, 21 rue Rambuteau,4é, http://www.lesfeespatissieres.com/  YUMMY ::)

You want something different to stay in Paris? try the Kube hotel, 3 passage Ruelle,18é yes by Montmartre, right in a courtyard patio where the reception is a glass cube! all is black and white with high technology like fingerprint keyboard doors and resto with matching drinks,and the bar well the ice kube all in ice! constant temperature of -18C! http://www.kubehotel-paris.com/en/page/design-hotel-paris-home.1.html

And if going to the Cité de la mode et design is not enough, then eat at Le Playtime, 34 quai d’Austerlitz 13é, right at the foot of the cité, open 24/7 and is a pleasure boat! restaurant, reading room, bar with two terraces, club and concert hall and even a small pool! menu of tapas, meat, fish and vegetable dishes great for me in happy hours! http://www.leplaytime.fr/

You want to taste the sublime Beaufort cheeses, don’t go so far, have them in Paris from the coopérative laitiére du Beautofortain just opened a boutique at 9 rue Corneille 6é, as well as other savoyards cheeses too. How about a raclette? http://www.cooperative-de-beaufort.com/les_points_de_vente-paris_.html

For wonderful pièces of jewerly and watches head for Miller, 233 rue Saint-Honoré 1é, these are pre owned pièces all guarantee from the grandest names at 40-50% off! metro tuileries or opéra and parking Under the place Vendôme; now its your chance to show off the best of Paris at affordable prices; http://www.miller.fr/default.aspx?lang=en

And if burgers it is, but the grand Paris taste not fast food, then head for Mamie burger no webpage, the first store opened in 16 rue de la Michodiére ,and now one near the Opéra Garnier at 18 rue Saint-Fiacré 2é; the meat from butcher Hugo Desnoyer, the bread from Boulanger Rachel’s you won’t go wrong here. metro bonne nouvelle. burgers from 9€ and midday with fries from 14€ but real ones gourmet, the best.

The next big event is the Salon International du Patrimoine Culturel or like the international cultural heritage fair at the Carrousel du Louvre Paris from November 6-9,2014.  The best for restoration experts and to know in detail these wonders we see, I was there at the beginning of them as a volunteer, and it is recommended for all lovers of heritage historical artifacts from tapestries to paintings to objects of arts. http://www.patrimoineculturel.com/?lang=en

Until November 2nd, at Giverny, the musée des Impressionismes 99 rue Claude Monet will have the Belgians! James Ensor,Emile Claus, Théo Van Rysselberghe and others showcase theirs 20C wares adding more touches to the impressionists movement. http://www.mdig.fr/en

The boat show comes back to Paris, Nautic at the porte de Versailles from December 6-14 2014. you want to see the latest in boating in Europe ,come here; http://www.salonnautiqueparis.com/GB.htm

The musée Picasso Paris open again yesterday, bigger , nicer, and more than ever, even the attic will be open to show the personal painting of Picasso own collection. The weekend is free this one, then is admission 11€, the Hôtel Salé where it is has been totally renovated for it. At last!! http://www.museepicassoparis.fr/en/

The musée des arts décoratifs for the 5th edition of the specialise magazine AD is doing a carte blanche to 16 decorators to create and present their wares until November 23rd; 107 rue de Rivoli 1é in Louvre, http://www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr/francais/accueil-292/bandeau-487/francais/arts-decoratifs/expositions-23/actuellement/dans-la-nef/decors-a-vivre-les-arts-décoratifs/

Some anecdote of Paris, the coat of arms of Paris shows ” Il est battu par les flots mais ne sombre pas” meaning something like tossed by the waters she does not sink, showing the ship in the symbol of the city since 1853, recalling the roles of the nautes the city powerful river merchants in the middle ages. And you know there are about 30 cities that uses the name Paris from North America, Denmark, Africa to Russia. The city of lights shines even beyond its borders !!!

One building in Paris dear to me because I worked next to it for several years,and it was not only my leisure time for lunches but a place of relaxation at nights and looking at it thru my window every day was magical beyond words. This is the Opéra Garnier de Paris. Of course ,Paris is full of beauty, it seems every building is, but we all have our favorites ::)  You see the wonderful Hall du Grand Escalier or staircase hugely magnificent, with white marbre of Italy mix with onyx and green marbre of Sweden. The Rotonde du Glacier or mirrored rotunda wiht large glass Windows for receptions and tapestries showcasing the culinary arts; the loge de la salle de spectacle or auditorium boxes decorated in gold, stucco,and red velvet, boxes in five floors as lounges for 4 to 6 persons!  The creating of scènes is beyond my humble words, the orchestra seats done with springs and horsehair covered in red velvet ! the Grand Foyer with floors, paneling,chandeliers, gilding of sumptous décorations.  Just awesome!! come to see it quick!! https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/

There is a new University in Paris, or Paris-Saclay, a huge 7 700 hectares park (19000 acres) to be built by 2020. Capacity for 60 000 students and 10 500 researchers in 600000 sq meters or 6,5 million sq feet of classrooms. IT will be the merging of 20 institutions now from the Université de Paris-Sud to the prestigious HEC business school, école polytechnique,and CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) http://www.campus-paris-saclay.fr/en   As facts to do this, taking from the ranking of universities worldwide (The Times Higher Education ) where the best of France is Sciences Pô and HEC, it shows the potential to attract foreign students here, France gets about 5-10% of the total pool available with the bulk going to the USA.  Paris ranked 2nd in attractive cities to study to first London and 3rd Los Angeles,in the top 10 the other from Europe is Stockholm.  As there is lots of confusion on these rankings the European Union will start its own ranking starting this Fall; this is the groundwork of the régulations from the EU http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-548_en.htm  and this will be the tool to use ,http://u-multirank.eu/#!/home?trackType=home&sightMode=undefined&section=entrance

And who want to walk the petite ceinture of Paris, the little beltway of Paris. It was an old railroad line built in 1852-1869, and closed down in 1993 (except the RER C segment) and long of 32 kms. You can walk on it by Balard 15é, and see the garden or jardin partagés du Ruisseau 18é and my favorite walk in the 16é between the porte d’Auteuil and the Porte de la Muette for 1,2 kms. To where you can go to my favorite resto La Gare (the old station Muette)18 chaussée de la Muette ,www.restaurantlagare.com ;over roads see the portion of avenue Jean jaurés to porte d’Aubervilliers 19é . The Charonne station on rue de Bagnolet 20é was turned into a discothéque La Fléche d’Or (the name of the train that did London to Paris between 1926 and 1972). The old Auteuil station is now the Thai restaurant Mary Goodnight, 76 rue d’Auteuil. http://www.marygoodnight.com ;later in the station of St Ouen will host a restaurant opening in 2015, Le Hasard Ludique, music bar, concert hall, and atelier.http://lehasardludique.paris/ and before that an eco bar la Recyclerie. http://www.larecyclerie.com/

See the oldest market in Paris at le marché des enfants rouges: 39 rue de Bretagne 3é; open Tuesdays to Saturdays (8h to 20h) and Sundays some stands (8h30 to 17h)http://equipement.paris.fr/marche-couvert-des-enfants-rouges-5461; some times différences from mayor’s office of the 3rd arrondissement and the city of Paris;but inquire before going,anyway when there I use the morning hours ok.

So now you know, and I know, Paris is it and France is right behind it ::) cheers and happy Sunday.

PAris paris Paris

 

 

 

 

October 22, 2014

Back to Prague and it was nice!

Another chance to visit this city of the East. I wrote last about it here in November 29,2013. I came on the outskirts of the city,and now took the opportunity to visit the old town.   First, the tourist office of the city,http://www.prague.eu/en and the country tourist office on Prague here  http://www.czechtourism.com/a/prague/

Of course, I am talking about Prague, Czech Republic. I came by air on AF from Nantes to Paris CDG and then Czech Airlines to Prague Havel airport. http://www.prg.aero/en/

There are many ways to get to the city with buses ,taxis, shuttles etc. I usually took a taxi, but this time try the tourist in me and took Cedaz the private express airport bus. http://www.cedaz.cz the ride is 150 K or about 7 euros; every 30 minutes ride is about 40 minutes. You can take it from Terminal 1 exit F or 2 exit E. email info is transport@cedaz.cz very easy nice ride. It stop me right in front side of the Hilton Old Town Hotel.

Then, straight for the hotel, back in the Hilton Old Town Prague. This is  a grand chain and this hotel rank high up. Queen size bed and views of the city in front of you, walking to Namesti Republiky square The room was big ,bath too, wifi, bar, and on the 7th floor nice.  more into the business traveler but families will be in heaven.  http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/czech-republic/hilton-prague-old-town-PRGOTHI/index.html

I check in rather quick and went out immediately for the shopping lol!!! the prices are unbelievable cheap and food drinks too as compare to France. I went straigth into the Palladium shopping center on Namesti Republiky ,now this is a real mall, with four floors and on the top a whole floor of bars and restaurants to choose from. My first try of the Pilsner beer ::)http://www.palladiumpraha.cz/en/

Then, it was a wandering walk thru old town, just missing the Charles river but see everything else.  I stop by the train station of  http://www.dpp.cz/en/  or at  Masarykovo Nadrazi with plenty of tramway and bus service to the city and around it. Also trains as  Hlavni Nadrazi at http://www.cd.cz/en/cd-online/stations-info/default.php

I went to eat at Potrefena Husa resto and it was fantastic ambiance good food and cheap at 10€ including beer. The beer was local and a bit yeasty but ok.  http://www.potrefena-husa-praha.cz/?lang=eng

My evening I went to the Kolkovna Celnice typical Czech resto not far from the Hilton, and it was  a simple business dinner pilsner beers that took the idea of Prague even more enticing Old Czech Kolkovna  platter 900 grams for about 13 euros. http://www.kolkovna.cz/en/kolkovna-celnice-13

Next day was a soul searching in dark old town Prague; and I took my friends on a walking tour of Prague to find a place locals had brought me before, the Hybernia with the brewing pilsner beers and more drinks and be merry, recommended for more time, http://www.hybernia.cz/

I continue the seach for excellence and we just got in before closing at the Dubliner Irish pub that we should come back, http://www.aulddubliner.cz/

In between i was in the market of Monday morning at Namesti Republiky, colorful by the metro station entrance. I walk around seeing the wonderful buildings such as the powder tower ,muséums, and theaters ,http://en.muzeumprahy.cz/prague-towers/ and operas http://www.pragueexperience.com/opera_concerts/opera_concerts.asp

and the wonderful buildings of the old square not far from the so call Charles bridge which I skip ::)

However, in all we will need more time in Prague, it is on the list::) enjoy the photos. Cheers.

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October 5, 2014

We will always have Concarneau ::)

One of the advantanges of living in France is that no matter where you are there is always something wonderfully beautiful to visit. I am Lucky to have found Brittany, and my regular weekends with the family is to go into these wonderful places even just for a day trip. This Saturday, we went to  Concarneau, recently name by France 3 television of the top preferred monuments to visit by the French people. It is about 89 kms from my house or about 55 miles in the neighbor department of Finistére no 29.

The tourist office is here ,http://www.tourismeconcarneau.fr/ and the mayor’s office tourist section is here http://www.concarneau.fr/ville/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=162&Itemid=979&lang=fr

the city has a huge amount of parking and a nice train station with regular bus services as well, even on a Saturday their passing was often and regular. We park by the tourist office to be central and there is additional parking in front of the entrance to the ville close.  The train line to Paris Montparnasse is at nearby Rospoden with direct bus service to city center Concarneau.

In town you have the covered market or halles a site not to missed. Plenty of hôtels and restos all along the bay makes it nice for choices. But speaking of choices, the main attraction here is the ville close.  This was built in the end of the middle ages and subsequent rénovations and additions throughtout to 1889.

Enclosed town or ville close  by excellence, the maritime city established on l´ile of Conq: or “the large shell”  was popular in the middle ages as it sits on the shortest  itinerary between Quimper and Pont-Aven. Occupied many times by the English, she submits to Du Guesclin in 1373Vauban made modernize the fortifications of the city between 1692 and 1699.

Facing the land, towers of artillery or Major (to the North) and the Gouverneur or Governor (in the South) bordering the front entrance and the ravelin are reinforced by a liner granite several metres thick in the 16C and the 17C. To stagger the defenseindepth, Vauban adapts a new gate with drawbridge and ditch behind the halfpipe. Side sea, Vauban endows the enclosure of ducking doorways to the places best facing the entry pass: the Tower of iron horse (tour du fer à cheval) and facing the inner harbour: the new Tower or Neuve.   In July 1695, Vauban himself (he is still Commander of upper and lower Brittany!) was deliver to Concarneau at the Château du Taureau of ammunition to put it in a State of defence. The parapets are raised and drilled slot of shooting while a powder magazine and a new barracks are built (1837). The island of Conq becomes at the end of the 19C a fueling station for the French mobile torpedo boats.

Archaeological excavations undertaken these past 30 years helped to rediscover a typology of embrasures (slits, slits-gunships, gunships, ducking doorways, niches of shooting etc.), gates and posterns… that to better understand the history of this city.  Some of the most interesting aspects of these fortifications are here:

Les Dames tronconic defensive walls impeding the access to the towers from outside. The corps de garde semi circular square to avoid getting to the bridge done in 1694, and the entry point to the ville close today too. The beffroi or belltower done in 1906 houses the clock visible from the city and its emblem. It has walls or courtines of granite with a thickness of 2,5 meters to 3 meters all along the city. The tour du Major, done in 1691 also called tour des munitions or ammunitations surrounded by figurines of breton origins and now shown totaly after excavations around the museum of fishing. The tour du gouverneur, the tour de la Fortune also call tour du masson, the origins remains a mystery, its one of the oldest part of the city. The tour Neuve or tour du moulin à poudré from the 19C, the Tour du Vin, or tour de la porte du vin, cylindrical form and not walled done around the 15C; Tour du passage also known as tour de  Chambertin, Istim or Larrons dates from the 15C. The tour aux Chiens, also known as Tour du port or tour de l’essence, from the 16C. The tour le Fer à Cheval, also known as tour Eperon, it is from the 16C serve as battery canons in the 19C, it was found remains of an older tower from the 13C, it had three levels with the bottom one having a chimney and two Windows; The tour du Maure or moors, also known as tour du connétable done in 1753, still today not found why call like this.

You have a well protected harbor and a huge basin on the other side of the ville close with lovely quaints boats and ships. You can take the bac or taxi boat between the ville close and the passage district 90 cents for 2 minutes of traverse, the smallest boat tour on record. The site from the city in French is here, http://www.concarneau.fr/ville/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=161&Itemid=977&lang=fr . Not to missed the wonderul musée de la pêche or fishing museum with wonderful collection of boat models in scale and paintings sea fishing items, lovely  and only 4,50€  on the main street of the ville close rue de Vauban, site here http://www.musee-peche.fr/

You have the colorful shopping of the area best fish, sardines especially a major port. Conserverie Courtin is lovely and well stock with delicious stuff, right on the ville close too, http://www.conserverie-courtin.com/ ; the wonderful chocolates and caramels of Georges Larnicol , http://www.chocolaterielarnicol.fr/content/12-nos-boutiques; the wonderful bargains at Marine & Co all made in Brittany, fashion a la Breton. http://www.pagesmode.com/boutique/sellier-concarneau great polos sweaters, rainjackets at good prices here and all locally made.

Come to see the yeararound festivities of the ville close, this time from Deizekilibre group, chants and performers all thru the town. http://www.antopya.com/deizekilibre/ see the photos on street performers. or the nice promenades at sea from the Vedettes de l’Odet, info here , http://www.vedettes-odet.com/index.php/en/overview-glenan-islands .

We did not stay at the hotel des Grand Voyageurs as we can do it easily in one day, however, it is a nice place to stay across from Ville Close main entrance and parking just in front at pl du 8 mai 1945.  We did try their restaurant and the service was impeccably great, fast friendly ,and good. The price a menu du jour for 13,80€ including a galette la speciale with ham, goat cheese, kir breton for apero (cider and white wine), a cup of cider brut, coffee expresso, dessert of crêpe chocolate or caramel, and delicious, a find. http://www.hotel-concarneau.com/

Not to forget a delicious homemade ice cream at 4 rue Vauban ville close by FK. Four scoops 4,50€.

We took the road D783 to Quimperlé,Pont Aven, etc glorious trip back home passing the Britt brewery, lol!! at Trégunc , if you want to pick up some on way home, local beer Breton, http://www.britt.fr/ and the day was another success !!! Enjoy Brittany! Cheers

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October 4, 2014

My aller retour à Paris or goings and comings!!!

Usually do not like to mix business and pleasure but sometimes I get the itch to tell my routine. The routine is wonderful as it may allow me to see great places and some very dear often. So on my last trip I decided to tell a bit about my rounds… First, it was raining hard towards Concarneau today but once there it was clear and nice, town pack after been name to the top 10 list of the preferred monuments of the French by a Survey on France 3 television here. Life goes on as usually great in our life’s journey. I was even able to locate a lost cousin in Chicago, IL USA!!! now the family is located all over our wonderful world.

I need to go to Paris for a couple of days on a business meeting , something I do almost every week but hardly ever tell. I love my car always a road warrior and on these business trips they send me by train yikes!!! never got used to them at all. Even the metro do not like, prefer to walk or the bus in town. However, business obliges and as all is reimburse by the company have really no choice.

The company books the train or plane, and the hotel in advance direct billing , I do not need to advance anything. If a car rental is needed once in a blue moon, it is also direct billing. Therefore, I have to go on public transport when on business. Even if I have try to negotiate going by car lol!!!

I have my TGV 1er Class electronic ticket loaded into my SNCF Grand Voyageur frequent traveler card (compliment of all those business trips) so is paperless.

My nearest station from home is out of Auray, it is small but nice size station train and bus, and counters and restaurant, relay store, avis car rentals, and hotel and resto across the street. I love to come early and see the train, TGV and TER Bretagne. Killing time is at the bar resto Le Tire Bouchon (corkscrew) where a nice Grimbergen blonde will always do wonders to the waiting time. And some nice chats with fellow travelers. Sometimes, If I go with collègues than we go out of Vannes, a bigger station with paid parking that is not to my liking;prefer Auray . The station at Auray in English SNCF site is http://www.gares-en-mouvement.com/en/frxuy/votre-gare/

The time is usually around 3h20 to 3h40 to Paris Montparnasse. The stops are always Vannes and Rennes, and sometimes we do stop at Redon, Vitré, Le Mans ,and Laval. We arrive in Paris by the berth 1 thru 7 always, this time it was berth 3. the Gare site in English is at http://www.gares-en-mouvement.com/en/frpmo/votre-gare/

I indulge a bit there sometimes stopping for a refreshing beer at brasserie Océane on the ile de France lines level almost leaving the station. This time my hotel happens to be across the square at 59 blvd du Montparnasse Hôtel Terminus Montparnasse. http://www.terminusmontparnasse.com/

As one of the bad points of business travel is that you do not choose your hotel, so this one was convenient and full of restos/bar around, some of them my favorites when used to have an office nearby in rue de depart. However, this one was very Noisy ,even the water flushes were heard and showers, the breakfast limited in a small room, and of course the room small with Windows given to a tree full courtyard that you could see the kitchen from your window! Not the type of hotel I would recommend personally or with families. Like i said, the only good point is that it was across from the Montparnasse transport hub and right between resto Montparnasse 1900 and La Marine, institutions in the area.

I need it to be by the tour Eiffel side,as my business office for meetings is nearby and its always a good opportunity to see the steel lady. Great views on the window of it and the Invalides dome as well. Getting there I take the metro line 6 to Bir Hakeim as it is an above ground train ride most of the way.  line 6 pdf file here http://www.ratp.fr/informer/pdf/orienter/f_plan.php?nompdf=m6&loc=reseaux

The return is always sad , au revoir Paris encore un fois. Saying goodbye to Paris again…. TGV Montparnasse thru Rennes, and Vannes this time to Auray where my car is waiting for the trip home of 20 minutes.  The lunches on business are done in the top floor of our building club house with views of the roofstops of Paris (en route for nomination of UNESCO world heritage site) with grand style and wines so can’t complaint here is done French class style. Even if missed going out to the wonderful restos of Paris.

And another trip ,sometimes for a day or two ,sometimes for 3 ,and less times for a week at a time. Until next time, mid month passing by CDG on my way to Prague. Time goes nicer when you are having fun of living in la belle France. Cheers.

Auray Auray Auray Auray Auray Auray Auray Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris

 

 

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