Archive for December, 2015

December 30, 2015

Some news from France, XCXVII

So Happy New Year 2016 to all Bonne Année, Feliz Año Nuevo, Feliz Ano Novo!! And I will be getting ready for the next day to fly out to Asia (posts end of Jan’16).

The festivities will be tame down in Paris, very sober says the Mayor Anne Hidalgo, and no fireworks.  If around Paris to celebrated, two nice places to do it are the Bal Masqué Chez Papillon at  49, rue de Ponthieu (8éme). It will start December 31st at 22h and last until 06H before sale cost is a reasonable  50€ (admission, two drinks and , Open Bar Bulles  from 0h to 01h)  or pay 60€ at the door, space available. http://www.soiree31decembre.fr/party/bal-masque-chez-papillon-new-year-2016,41.html

Then, Le Perchoir Marais on the roofstop of the dept store BHV Marais. You will go in by  37, rue de la Verrerie (4éme). On December 31 from  20h15  to 05h.  admission for  100€. A must for the reservation at email  evenementiel@leperchoir.fr or tel +33 (0) 6 12 05 92 76. http://www.bhv.fr/actus/perchoir-du-bhv-marais/

And on this site you can pick many other options to wait for the new year in Paris, http://www.soiree31decembre.fr/home.html

And afterward for that magical Galette du Roi tradition, I will pick one amongst many; Dalloyau teaming with Studio Harcourt creating a galette with a portrait of creative flavors, a sheet of wheat malt flour, cream of almonds and peanuts, pièces of pears cook in vainilla of Ceylan, and milk malt caramel on the exterior. The interior a féve or wishing figurine of  Harcourt awaits you. For each galette purchase you will receive a frame on the cabin of Studio Harcourt in the store of Dalloyau Faubourg (8éme). On sales from January 1st at 45€ ,boutique at 101, rue du Fbg Saint-Honoré (8éme) , and other point of sales for  Dalloyau. Yummy!!!

Public transports again will be free from December 31 at 17H to January 1st 12h midday Metro will be running until 02h15 and some lines will continue after that but not stopping in all stations: these are the lines open

Line 1 : Bastille, Charles de Gaulle-Etoile, Château de Vincennes, Châtelet, Concorde, Franklin D.Roosevelt, Gare de Lyon, George V, La Défense Grande-Arche, Nation, Pont de Neuilly, Porte Maillot.
Line 2 : Anvers, Barbès-Rochechouart, Belleville, Charles de Gaulle-Etoile, La Chapelle, Nation, Père Lachaise, Pigalle, Place Clichy, Porte Dauphine.
 Line 4 : Barbès-Rochechouart, Châtelet, Denfert-Rochereau, Gare de l’Est, Gare du Nord, Les Halles, Mairie de Montrouge, Montparnasse, Porte de Clignancourt, Porte d’Orléans, Saint-Michel, Strasbourg-Saint-Denis.
Line 6 : Bercy, Bir-Hakeim, Boissière, Cambronne, Charles de Gaulle-Etoile, Denfert-Rochereau, Kléber, La Motte Picquet-Grenelle, Montparnasse, Nation, Place d’Italie, Trocadéro
Line 9 : Alma-Marceau, Franklin D.Roosevelt, Grands-Boulevards, Havre-Caumartin, La Muette, Mairie de Montreuil, Nation, Oberkampf, Pont de Sèvres, Porte de Montreuil, Porte de Saint-Cloud, Saint-Augustin, Strasbourg-Saint-Denis, Trocadéro.
Line 14 : Bercy, Bibliothèque-François Mitterrand, Châtelet, Cour Saint-Emilion, Gare de Lyon, Madeleine, Olympiades, Pyramides, Saint-Lazare.
The RER train will be working on lines going into Paris to suburbs; the night bus  Noctilien beltway périphérique will not be working and other will be adapted to work as such  N21 and N122 at Gare Montparnasse, N22 at Place d’Italie, N23 at Gare de l’Est, N24 at Gare Saint-Lazare.  The terminus for those following to the  Gare de l’Est will be change as such  N144 to Gare de Lyon and N145 to Gare Montparnasse.
The New Year at my favorite Paris restaurant La Gare (for those new to my posts this is an old train station Muette converted into a wonderful restaurant in a chic area of real Paris)  for 105€ per person with DJ and dancing music until the wee hours of the day after. The menu will be as such: Glass of Champagne apéro with Tartare of sea bream, chiffon of Jerusalem artichoke , entrée ;Duck foie gras with truffles, frozen in the Jurançon, bread with figs, main dish to choose between  Ballotine of farm poultry ‘100day bluefooted’, cream truffle, winter vegetables or Navarin of lobster to the butternut squash and chestnuts, crustacean emulsion, dessert will be Fluffy biscuit Guanaja, creamy banana chocolate, coulis mango and passion, coffee, reservation at +33 (0) 1 42 15 15 31, webpage : http://www.restaurantlagare.com/
As for me this year will be sober too; staying home with home cooking and drinks , and resting for my long trip thereafter, first by train to Nantes, navette bus to airport, sleep overnight at airport and very early take AF to Paris CDG and then Asia for three weeks!!
HAPPY NEW YEARS 2016 everyone!
December 27, 2015

Chambord a castle made for the Kings of France!

The title I think says it all, Chambord is a dream an illusion , is a castle made for the Kings of France. Where can I begin, this was after many passing by my first visit in a long long time here. The tourist office, http://www.bloischambord.com/

Chambord itself is a town in the departément no 41 of Loir et Cher in the region of Centre-Val de Loire of France. The castle webpage is here, http://www.chambord.org/

We arrive just after settling into our  hotel the  night before and early in the morning we left by car following the road D33 right into the back of the castle and the snack souvenirs square.  We chose this hotel, IKAR part of the Inter Hotel chain that I used for business trips here in France too. http://www.ikarhotel-blois.com/ only 15 kms to château.

We were Lucky to be practically the first ones in the castle and had it all for ourselves from 9h (9am). The tour began with the Church of Saint Louis overlooking the castle on a small hill.  The Church was built in 1666  on the request of king Louis XIV,and was enlarged in 1684. The Church was restored and renovated in the 19C by the Duchess of Berry and the Count of Chambord from 1830 to 1855.  It was the property of the Maison de Bourbon Parma until 1932 when the French government purchased it.

We then, proceeded to walk in the garden a bit and see the Stables of Maréchal de Saxe where equestrian shows are held for most part of the year but not now; http://www.chambord.org/que-faire-a-chambord/les-activites-de-loisirs/

And we finally entered the castle. It was magical to see the arrangement for the Christmas season with nativiy scènes and recreation of many cartoons movies like the beauty and the beast. And the crowds began to arrive.

Very difficult for me to describe this Wonder of our world; my writing are not the best expression but verbal is my forte.  The original stair of François I is magnificent,but first some overall impressions. The castle was begun to be built in 1519 and it has 156 meters long by 56 meters high and 77 stairs, 282 fireplaces, and 426 rooms!!! François I only spent 72 days in Chambord and did not live to see it all completed. He died in 1547; and took his son Henri II as well as Louis XIV who are responsable for making Chambord what it looks today. Some of those who lived here apart from François I were Gaston d’Orléans (brother of Louis XIII), Louis XIV spent here on nine times; Stanislaus Leszczynski exiled king of Poland and Louis XV father in law, Maréchal de Saxe, Duke of Bordeaux, Count of Chambord the Grandson of Charles X received the castle by public subscription in 1821. Finally , the French government took control in 1930.

We follow in libre visit on our own, and continue past the wonderful Christmas scènes of always popular movies into the Keep and staircase right in the center. You visit the coach room with carriages built by the Count of Chambord in 1871 with saddlery by Hérmes of Paris. There is an audiovisual room with a 15 minute film with computer generated images. The first floor you see how people lived in the 16C to 19C; move on to the Chapel completed by architect Jules Hardouin Mansart, the architect of Versailles! Continue to the bedrooms of François I and then the State Apartments done by Louis XIV same as in Versailles now decorated in 18C style as per Maréchal de Saxe.

You arrive at the Queen’s apartments occupied by the two wives of Louis XIV, Maria Theresa of Austria and Madame de Maintenon. You reach the 18C apartments who hardly lived were occupied by visitors such as the exile king of Poland, maréchal de Saxe.  Then the wonderful historical museum of the Count of Chambord that were once his bedrooms. The Count own the castle from 1821 to his death in 1883 but spent only 3 days here. The last of the Bourbon Kings heirs of France called to the throne in 1871 but refuse to adopt the French tricolor flag of the Republic and went into exile. Many items here some belonging to his mother the Duchess of Berry.

Upper floor see the wonderful ornamental ceiling vaults with monograms of François I and his salamander. Here on the second floor you see the hunting tradition of the castle. All kinds of artifacts and Tools used for hunting in the 16C is here displayed. And you can see spectacular views from the castle terraces over the domaine property. The park is 5440 hectares or 54,4 square kms or about 21 sq miles. All surrounded by a wall of 32 kms or about 19.8 miles been the largest enclosed forest park in Europe! with a national game reserve containing many types of animals living completely free. Open to the public there are 800 hectares or about 1 sq mile!!!

And you can say the château started out as an arts presentation place been the first show of Moliére the Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme played in 1670 in front of king Louis XIV. It has more than 4500 objects of arts and furniture to show. A full children program is available ask at front office. Many activities in the property from equestrian shows such as the écuries of maréchal de Saxe, Drama shows, visites in 4X4! rides in horse wagon , boat or bike, walks with guide, and see the English garden done in 1889. A nice boutique store and restaurant on Le Café d’Orléans.

I will give a sample of photos taken to give you an idea, better leave the suspense as when you come here and keep your mouth close ::) It is awesome, so is the Loire, and France !!! Enjoy it. and Happy New Year 2016 to all.

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December 26, 2015

Locronan ,back again at Christmas season !

Ok so continuing with the Christmas spirit we headed for Finistére departément 29 or the town of Locronan. The tourist office is here; http://www.locronan-tourisme.com/

I had visited the town back in same period in 2013 (see post), and I was told again that the Christmas market was taken off here well so so we decided to take a look.  The town is a Petite Cité de Caractère de Bretagne or a small town of character of Brittany. It shows the Breton traditions quite well, and the stone ambiance gives it an eerie feeling of Merlin ::) It is, also, one of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France or one of the most beautiful towns of France !

The town is small just around the Church St Ronan, and many quaint stores all around the center. I took an intrepid walk down a ravine very steep to see the chapelle de Notre Dame de Bonne Nouvelle (15C-17C).  More from tourist office here in French: http://www.locronan-tourisme.com/fr/component/content/article/324-chapelle-nd-de-bonne-nouvelle.html

In the tourist site they mention a Calvaire or Calvary ,and it shows in the picture I took, this is dedicated to Saint Eutrope. He is according to leyend the 13 apostle. It was martyred for having been stoned and shot for converting the daughter of a Roman governor of Saintes. The Calvary is one of the few monuments of this type built in limestone. A Madonna and child is carved on his lapel, on the other side are represented Angels gathering the blood of christ.

I was able to get Inside the Church of St Ronan and newer pictures, this is impressive and Worth coming here just for it.  We did our shopping in the Au Loup Garou Gourmand store with goodies like cider, seafood products in cans, candies, jellies etc.  It is known as the house of the 100 Breton beers as they are here in all shapes and tastes. No webpage but you must come in when in town.

We gathered our pastries and baguettes from Le Guillou boulangerie pâtisserie just yummy for the house.  And they have a webpage for your tasting eyes ::) http://www.kouignamann-locronan.fr/

And of course, we look at the Christmas chalets even if in the afternoon they were not light up yet. It is nice quaint but a bit smallish and we have other town as favorite here for that …..see my posts. We are only about over an hour from our house so another wonderful backyard town to stop by.

Enjoy the pictures and Merry Christmas ::) well by now more like Happy New Year 2016! Ours will be small as need to flight out to Asia. Cheers.

 Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan  Locronan

 

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December 26, 2015

Chaumont sur Loire,the castle ,one more in the Loire!

This can be call new, as was here many moons ago ,and now in the area decided to stop by as driving along the Loire river. This is the castle city of Chaumont sur Loire. The tourist office is here; http://www.bloischambord.com/decouvrir/nos-chateaux-de-la-loire/domaine-de-chaumont-sur-loire  ; and the city page on the castle is here; http://www.chaumontsurloire.fr/le-chateau.html

We were driving to pick up some wines and decided to come here before getting to the wines in Limeray. Really to get here from the usual Paris you can do the route on the autoroute A10 to Direction Bordeaux. Take exit 17 direction Amboise  you will be on the D952A pass Blois over the Loire river on the road D174 once on the other side of the Loire take right into the D951/D751 direction Amboise and soon see on the panels Chaumont S/Loire. Once entering town take the first traffic light left into the castle parking about 1000 meters (1 km).  You can, also,take exit 18 direction Blois go thru city center Blois cross the river Loire and take right on the D951/D751 as well as above. You can come by train on the line Paris Gare d’Austerlitz-Orléans-Tours stopping at Orzain/Chaumont sur Loire.

However, the first thing we saw was the Church of Saint Nicolas; this is the parrish Church site in French; http://www.paroissedechaumontsurloire.fr/article-paroisse-saint-nicolas-de-chaumont-sur-loire-sainte-eugenie-de-rilly-98631283.html

The Church  is on the banks of the river Loire and is dedicated formally to Saint Nicolas et Sainte Eugénie de Rilly. The belltower is square and high enough to see it from far, once Inside if have time, we didn’t there is a nave with three transepts, alongside several chapels and great light with the stained glass windows. There is a statue of Saint Nicolas, Saint Martin, Sainte Catherine, and a pieta from a now gone nearby Church. You will be able to see other statues and work of arts as paintings from the 19C. The outside dimensions are nice.

We were already hungry so we stop at a créperie La Bolée just across the street and the lady very friendly told us we were Lucky she was about to close as no guests so far in the day! Well they came after us ,we gave her some luck lol! The Créperie is at 33 rue du Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny, it is listed in the city page for tourism here; http://www.chaumontsurloire.fr/vie-economique/bar—restaurants.html

We had the usual galette mine with scallops, and other varieties along a bottle of cider brut from the region and plenty of ice cream like mine banana split. all for about 17€ per person. Very well done and talkative friendly owner server ! Something to remember always when in the region again.

And now was time to hit the castle. We took the car to climb to the parking lot nearest the entrance, there was security checking the bags, and ticket office, all very easy and in we were.  The castle webpage is here; http://www.domaine-chaumont.fr/

The castle of Chaumont sur Loire is very old having been founded around the year 1000 AD by Odo I Count of  Blois. The history as you can tell is long and easy found in official brochures as many Kings and nobles took part in its history  including the reluctant resident Diane de Poitiers and it is to her that most of the castle appereance is credited (1562-1566). Many more owners after her again Marie-Charlotte-Constance  who married Prince Henri-Amédée de Broglie and was the last private owner of the castle until 1938. At this time the Govt of France took possession. The princess Broglie spent her last days in the luxury hôtels of Paris  like the Ritz and George V as well as her Paris apartment at rue de Grenelle; she finally passed away in 1943.

The castle has a great arts community at its entrance with several modern building showing works of arts (like the Mexican Gabriel Orozco) , and a wonderful garden of winter (jardin d’hiver) all very well landscape starting in 1880  at the request of prince Broglie. It has a wonderful stables (écuries) building apart from the castle with a nice water tower (château d’Eau) in the garden. You can, also see a dogs cementary  (ciméntiere des chiens) with an elephant as well all very care by the Prince:ss Broglie. The historical park was closed for renovation, and for this reason we pay a reduce admission of 7,50€ in lieu of 11€ ::)

Inside the castle, you will see the beautiful dining room with the coat of arms of Cardinal Georges d’Amboise and historical tapestries from the 16C. You move on to the Library with 19C bookcases , tapestries from the 17C done at Aubusson showing the life of Alexander the Great. Then, the Little  Living Room, with empire period clock in marble with gilded in bronze;continue to the Billiards room,  with a ceilings painting of different scènes of the castle, more tapestries of the 16C on the life of Hannibal. You reach the Great Salon on the inspiration style of the castle of Blois many things there goes back to Napoleon III or late 19C. You leave into the courtyard and visit the Chapel restored in 1886. It shows the history of Chaumont from its origins to the Broglie family’s  days. Paintings from the 15C and do go down to the Kitchen but still Under renovation.

The stables or écuries were order by Prince de  Broglie in 1877, the larger used by the Castle owners and the smaller one for the guests.  You see carriages houses and carriages with Tools of the times with kitchen and working saddlery and next the gala saddlery unchanged since the 19C; you have also, a small riding arena of about 12meters and then the pony stables!

In all a nice visit of another wonderful Loire castle, you will need a lifetime to seee them all. We passed by many not famous or even known but equally impressive properties some still private. Come and enjoy the Loire, oh this is region Centre-Val de Loire, where the main famous castles are, not to be confused with other region of castles Pays de la Loire.

Enjoy the pictures and stay safe for New Years’s. Happy New Year 2016!!!

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December 25, 2015

The magic and architecture richness of Blois

In my pre Christmas rounds in the Loire I stop again by Blois, nice beautiful town, and my last post again was from March 2011!!! the tourist office is here, http://www.bloischambord.com/

We came here by car from Brittany going around Nantes and then direction Angers, and finally heading down to Blois. First, to our hotel just South of Blois in St Gervais-la-Fôret, this is an area we like and have passed by and eaten in nearby restaurants before.

For the trip we chose, Hotel Ikar, this is part of the French chain Inter-Hotel that I used even for my business trips in France.  Very nice typical French hôtels in and around quaint towns of lesser known but equally nice in la Belle France; the hotel is here, http://www.ikarhotel-blois.com/

Very nice welcome country ambiance, with free parking and restaurant breakfast and the rooms were adequate with a bit small bathroom and paper thin towels.  The rest was fine, and especially well located with our favorite resto nearby and free parking.

We ,arrived, and immediatly went out to have dinner by 19H (7pm) and there you go our Tavern de Maître Kanter was just across the road even if we had to walk around a traffic circle to get there with no zebra crossing nor sidewalks lol! The food was Worth it, with our choucroute royale for two, and pike perche fish (sandre) dishes as well as spare pork ribs , plenty of la divine (beer, orange juice and cherry liquor) apéro with a bottle of Vacqueyra reserve Saint Dominique 2012  red for the main meal, and desserts like banana split, and other ice creams all for 36.60€ per person splendid meal and a good start.

We then hit Blois right on, been in town before we could quickly walk to the areas we like to see without having to see the Castle nor the maison de Houdini magic house again.  Instead, we concentrated on the Church of Saint Vincent de Paul built in 1622 for the Jesuists (before call the Church of Saint Louis) . The Church was renovated and decorated by grants of Gaston d’Orléans (brother of the king), and later Anne-Marie de Montpensier (the Grande Mademoiselle),his daughter. It is very richly decorated Inside with statues, retables and sculptures.  The Church was empty out during the French revolution and given back to the cult in 1826 after rénovations.  IT became the parrish Church in 1847  and note the north South orientation of the Church with the choir in the north.

Climb the wonderful escalier Saint Martin from the castle level to the city market below and pedestrian shopping Streets, views of the castle exteriors from several angles, and the passing of Houdini museum was of course elementary. We enjoy the renovated Maison de la BD house of cartoons such as this http://www.maisondelabd.com/ ; and passing once again by the old  jacobins convent now the Muséum d’histoire naturelle  or museum of national history  more at the city here and tourist office above; http://www.blois.fr/47-museum.htm#contenu

We enjoy seeing again the wonderful architecture of the hôtels d’Epernon and of Amboise on the square entrance to castle of Blois facing it to your left.  To be there on market day and Christmas market was wonderful , to see our old restaurants hangouts of duc de Guise and le Triboulet.

We enjoy a visit again to the Church of Saint Nicolas-Saint Laumer, an old abbey from the 12C taking the name of the founder and finished early in the 13C. The Church is a point of many pilgrimages as it contains many Saints such as Saint Lubin, Saint Laumer, Sainte Marie l’Egyptienne and a fragment from the Cross of Christ. It is very vast and impressive; the Church is  Roman in architecture with three levels of elevation, Inside it has huge transepts with beautiful chapels and  contemporary stained glass Windows showing a brilliant light in yellow and blue proper for the meditation.

Of course, on the way out we stop by Pata  Pain bakery just around the hotel in St Gervais la Fôret to load up on sandwiches and drinks and pastries for the trip back home lol! http://www.patapain.com/trouver-restaurant

And of course finish another visit with the family this time to Blois with its magical shopping Streets and pretty train station where we park just in front in square Pasteur. Enjoy Blois is more than the castle ! AND, Merry Christmas!!!

 Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois  Blois

 

 

 

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December 25, 2015

There is time again for Amboise!

Funny I came back to take some pictures in the lovely town of Amboise, this is an area I come often to get my house wines but just realise last time post on it was from March 2011!!! Amboise is Worth more than that! The tourist office is here, http://www.amboise-valdeloire.com/

Always magical coming over from Limeray over the bridge over the river Loire into Amboise;park by the bords of the Loire and walk into Under the beffroi or clocktower on rue François I. You will come into Place Michel Debré and the magnificent castle is on your left .

Do you know Amboise, or  Ambacia in Latin means between two bodies of water? .  The name give reference to its geographical location between the plains of  Châteliers that falls into the Valley of the Loire and the Amasse rivers.

We were at the end of a long trip gathering our wines so we did not go Inside the castle this time already done that several times. We did walk all over and around and into the wonderful Clos Lucé of Léonard de Vinci fame, not going in either but walking the Streets in a festive Christmas period is wonderful for the soul. And see the candles facing the Loire in the Amboise Amboise Amboise(old city hall or hotel de ville).

We walk past again the Church of Saint Florentin, build on request by king Louis XI  and open in 1484. One of the highlights of visiting Amboise; http://www.ville-amboise.fr/c__15_56__Les_monuments_a_visiter.html

We had our dinner at the Anne de Bretagne resto right in the corner before moving up to the castle, friendly place, nice talkative servers, and good food at reasonable price. We had our onion soups, galette St Jacques (scallops) steak and fries, spaghetti bolognaise, galette canard confit (duck) croque madame sandwich (with the egg) plenty of Stella Artois beers, coffee expressos,and diabolo menthe all for 19.36€ per person! http://www.amboise-valdeloire.com/preparer-votre-sejour/se-restaurer/restaurants

For desserts we prefer going across the street to the Bigot Chocolatier-Pâtisserie-Boulangerie-Salon de Thé; wonderful sweets of different tastes for all and very good, http://www.maisonbigot-amboise.com/page/patissier

We went first to limeray to visit our wines at Domaine Dutertre, long time customers of their and many prizes for its consistant Loire wines of the appellation Amboise-Touraine. http://www.domainedutertre.fr/

We came by car from South of Blois, but you can easily come here from Paris on the A10 direction Tours exit 18 direction road D31 to Amboise,then road D1 direction Limeray or continue on the D31 cross the river turn right into city center Amboise.  At Dutertre you can buy the whole gamme from sparklers cremant de la Loire to rosé, dry whites, sweet whites, and reds from the basic François I to the more robust and our favorite Cuvée Préstige. Very friendly service a five generation family of winegrowers/makers.

And it was time to head back to our home base near Blois, more of that later. Cheers and Merry Christmas!!!!!

Amboise Amboise Amboise Amboise Amboise Amboise Amboise Amboise Amboise Amboise Amboise Amboise Amboise Amboise Amboise Amboise Amboise

 

 

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December 19, 2015

Some news from Bretagne XX

Here I am again, with the year best period coming up and us getting ready for our next travel outside Bretagne, let me fill you in on some interesting places, events going on here. This is the tourist site for Brittany, http://www.tourismebretagne.com/ ; and the tourist site for my departément 56 Morbihan, http://www.morbihan.com/

We have nice cities of character such as Rochefort-en-Terre, Josselin, and La Roche-Bernard worthy of a visit anytime. The Presqu’île de Quiberon with its Côte Sauvage is my favorite place in all, beaches, bars, stores and just plain beach bum lifestyle ::)

You can see a nice castle Suscinio by Sarzeau in the Presqu’île de Rhuys or the less known but impressive castle of Trécesson in Campaneac Inside the magical forest of Brocéalande of the king Arthur leyend.

Then, head for the islands of the wonderful world of the Gulf of Morbihan, at any time ,now in winter they are empty of tourists but locals are and really lovely, in summer they are pack with visitors. Île aux Moines and Île d’Arz are just great, many cruises companies take you there.  The biggest is Belle-Île and the idylic Hoëdic and Houat and farther away by Lorient ,you have Groix.

We have quaint muséums Worth seeing like the museum of passions and wings or Musée des passions et des ailes at Baden, open on Saturdays 15-18h; http://www.museedebaden.fr/ ; the Naîa museum at Rochefort en Terre in the castle park, with artistic imagination such as the leyend of a witch with movie, monumental,numeric, sculpture and paintings; http://www.naiamuseum.com/Naia_Museum/Naia.html

The Christmas season upon us as I have commented on other posts, have great rdv at Rochefort en Lumières until January 3rd 2016; and the same time at Vannes with the slide, white beard, and lights shows or Glise, barbe blanche et lumières. A more appropiate religious tone in Sainte Anne d’Auray site of the patron Saint of Brittany, with a Jesus Revival with a living nativity scene until January 3rd 2016. http://www.sainteanne-sanctuaire.com/?mode=actualites&id=1529

Other areas with Chrismas markets are at Saint Esprit Auray (see post).

As winter is coming even if hardly noticeable with temps in 13C now, we have indoor heated pools with tuboggan etc such as Vanocéa in Vannes,Alé’O in Auray, and Neptilude in Quiberon.  Many activities such as kayak,canoe, catamaran and char à voile are available in winter at Kayak de mer de Saint Armel, 47° nautique in Séné, and the voile at  Zefattitud ,St Pierre Quiberon. Not to mention, the casinos, with a new one open in Vannes (parc du golfe) and others at Carnac, Arzon, Quiberon, and Larmor-Plage.

You have wonderful events such as the Festival Roué Waroch, BZH vibrations in Plescop, Feb 19-21 2016. http://www.roue-waroch.fr/ , and the wonderful Corrida Saint Sylvestre December 27 2015 in Vannes on a course of 9,4 kms in the city Streets! Leaving 17h from the place Lucien-Laloche. http://www.aurayvannes.com/corrida-vannetaise-c32.html

A bit on the big cities like Rennes with its night life around les Lices Sainte-Anne,and the rue St Michel/St Malo; and the old Streets around the Place des Lices and Place du Parlement. The nice  museum of fine arts or Beaux-Arts, the Frac Bretagne, museum of dance.  A bit on the cousin Nantes, with the new Hangar 21 area on the île de Nantes with cultural, restos, bars animated action,and the quaint passage Pommeray, and the Château des Ducs de Bretagne. Museum of Jules Verne and the machines de l’île.

Step aside , a wonderful recipe share with you as we are getting our menu down all home made by ourselves, the boys team ,and  I do the booze ::)  Tartare d’huîtres dans son bouillon d’échalotes. 12 oysters from bay of Quiberon or equiv; 100 grams thick cream, 4 shallots; persil, thym, and laurel spices to taste and olive oïl, wine vinager, 50 cl of dry white wine, one big potato and bread. the decoration garnish :Clean potato and cut in four pièces, set up on a dish with salt, Pepper, olive oïl and a little water, covered it with aluminum foil and cook at 180C for about 15 minutes.  The oysters you opened and clean but keep the water Inside, cut up the shallots with a thin drop of olive oïl ; in a big casserole pot make dissolve the shallots in a thin cover of olive oïl, add the white wine, quart of laurel leave, a bit of thym, have it reduce in heat about a third way before putting the 8 oysters and their water as well as thick cream, cook for five minutes; put all in the blender, keep on hot, cut up with a knife the rest of the oysters , mix with the rest of the shallots that are left, ground persil and a thin drop of olive oïl and a drop of wine vinegar. Dressed the last part with the big potato and two slices of toasted bread,serve the cream of oysters in a glass. And voilà we hope that this is right and we don’t s.u. as we are amateur chefs lol!!!

inspired on the above by the Chefs du Golfe (gulf) a group of chefs from leading restaurants in the area who team up for recipes and events in their restaurants, the site is here, http://www.chefsdugolfe.fr/sitehtml/index.php

The best local product for drinks is the Andouille breton and the best is from Guéméné-de-Scorff. This sausage type is pork intestins rolled into one another and smoke in wood first oak and then beech during several weeks,and then cook in a broth flavored hay . It is needed several rolls of this manouever to make one sausage or andouille so therefore it is a bit pricier than most, but delicious!!!

The Halles des Lices covered market,Vannes  is on Tuesdays to Sundays from 8h to 14h  with late opening on these Holiday season. http://www.halles-des-lices.fr/

If not Inside, go out in Vannes at the Café barge Piano barge on the bay by the cruise terminal. Classic and romantic on the water, http://www.pianobarge.com/  ; and the Jam Session at the Café Bœuf at 4 pl Bir Hakeim, just open last october in Vannes with a concept of theater, concerts while you eat. Open 12h -15h and 17h-23h and on event nights to 01H;no webpage yet but contact tel +33  (0) 2.97.54.22.24. And of course, the home favorite Le Gambetta at Place Gambetta facing the pleasure marina with great place, food and service; sublime!!! http://www.legambetta.com/

Enjoy the times of our lives:cheers and be merry, Merry Christmas !!!Vannes

 

 

 

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December 18, 2015

Christmas in Auray, my old town.

Ok so if you have been reading my blog you know that until two years ago I was living in Auray, Morbihan , Brittany, France::)  However, I am still just 14 kms or about 9 miles away from it and do come often here. The tourist office is here; http://www.auray-tourisme.com/

As the spirit of Christmas is amongst us all, we took a ride to the city this morning to see any preparation for Christmas as usually they have the better one in the area closer to me. Indeed the preparation were going on for the big night and the célébrations were going on since December 14 and will last until December 31 2015.

Tonite they will have jogglers performing and tomorrow the bulk really begins with a slate of activities all posted in the tourist office special Noêl or Christmas section on two pdf files here http://www.auray-tourisme.com/tabid/9029/OffreId/6df367cd-b58f-4f53-befc-41f9b48e85a3/Default.aspx

All the activities will be concentrated this year in the Chapelle Saint Esprit for the Christmas market or Marché de Noêl and on the Village de Noêl at Place Notre Dame (square).  The Chapelle Saint Esprit is an excellent place of great historical value that has been preserve at all cost by the local people.

The Chapelle Saint Esprit was one of the most important chapel in the commanderies of the order of Saint Esprit, the members defended and protected the poor, orphans and the sick. It was first built here by the Duke John II of Brittany that had also founded the Chapelle du Saint Sépulcre (where is now the parking area South of the current Chapelle). It was in the later, that the gisant of Christ was founded and recently restored.From the 14C the chapel has been enlarged by the Religious orders that were here. The Chapel lost its Religious vocation during the French revolution (as usual);and from 1794 it served as a military outpost, the famous HQ Dugueslin where it welcome soldiers until the 20C, it ,also ,serve as safe heaven for the population during WWII , later housed School children, firefigthers, and local associations. Today, it still holds cultural events and plays of many diverse nature.

Enjoy the Christmas spirit wherever you are. Cheers and be merry, a very Merry Christmas to all. Auray  Auray  Auray  Auray  Auray  Auray  Auray  Auray

 

 

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December 17, 2015

Christmas again at Rochefort-en-Terre!!!

Once again I past by my favorite Christmas town in my region, this is Rochefort-en-Terre, magical land, tourist office here , http://www.rochefortenterre-tourisme.bzh/ln/en/

We come by car on the N165 expressway getting off at La Roche Bernard and continuing on the road D774  passing Marsan, Paule, Limerzel, before reaching Rochefort en Terre on some wonderful twisting roads. You can also ,go by the N166 direction Rennes and then taken the D775 direction Questembert ,then road D777 direction Pluherlin,  and reaching Rochefort en Terre.

We have come every year for the last five here and each year is wonderful. http://www.rochefortenterre-tourisme.bzh/feerie-noel-rochefort-en-terre/

And the site of the féerie de Noêl or Christmas here, http://rochefortenfete.canalblog.com/

We had our apéro at the Le Menestrel pub restaurant at Place St Michel, and then onward we go, tasting bit and bites all over the chalets and commerces open all night, the best is to get here by 17h30 or 5:30PM.

The castle of great painters history is all decorated for the event, http://www.rochefortenterre-tourisme.bzh/decouvrir/patrimoine-et-musees/patrimoine-bati-bretagne/?tif_r=4de3e247-2ee9-434c-a972-4bf10948c8c3&Parc-du-Chateau-de-Rochefort-en-Terre

And even the Church Notre Dame de la Tronchaye  is on, http://www.rochefortenterre-tourisme.bzh/decouvrir/patrimoine-et-musees/patrimoine-bati-bretagne/?tif_r=ff81d3ef-b474-4555-88a4-45b2b3e8b0ef&Eglise-Notre-Dame-de-la-Tronchaye

See the wonderful nativity scene at place des Halles and Place St Michel, the museum for the painters history from a Alfred Klots born in St Germain en Laye (78) but family came from Baltimore MD USA to renovated the castle and housed the painters.

Enjoy the Christmas spirit is all over , the best time of the year!!! Enjoy the photos of 2015.

Rochefort en Terre Rochefort en Terre Rochefort en Terre Rochefort en Terre Rochefort en Terre Rochefort en Terre Rochefort en Terre Rochefort en Terre Rochefort en Terre Rochefort en Terre Rochefort en Terre Rochefort en Terre

 

 

December 17, 2015

Some news from Spain XIIII

Well I have literally left Spain out for quite some time, this is one of my countries !!! Well here is something traditional for the Holidays coming up.

Where to spent your Christmas Eve in Madrid,(my city) ;for the moderate budget we have some of my favorites there Ayre Gran Hotel Colon  Pez Volador, 1 | Tfn.: 91 400 99 00 | Price: 93 euros (dining and confettis).Chlidren  Menú  (Under 12 ): 34 euros. This is where I have stayed lately in the city great hotel , friendly service and all central. Mercado de la Reina Gran Vía, 12 | Tfn.: 91 521 31 98 | Price: 90 euros (dining and cup of champa or wine). Real Café Bernabeu Avenida de Concha Espina, 1 (Puerta 30. Estadio Santiago Bernabéu) | Tfn.: 91 458 36 67 | Price: 149 euros (dining and confettis). Children Menú  (Under 12): 55 euros. Café de Colon (previus Café de los Artistas)  Goya, 2 | Tfn.: 91 431 86 15 | Price: 110 euros (dining and confettis). Puerta 57  Padre Damián, s/n (Estadio Santiago Bernabéu) | Tfn.: 91 457 33 61 | Price: 165 euros (dining), 210 euros (dining and confettis), 50 euros (confettis). Children Menú  (Under 12 ): 49,50 euros. Intercontinental hotel  Paseo de la Castellana, 49 | Tfn.: 91 700 73 71 | Price: 450 euros (dining and confettis), 125 euros (only confettis).Children  Menú  (Under 12): 125 euros.  .  Gran Melià Fénix Hermosilla, 2 | Tfn.: 91 431 67 00 | Price: 295 euros (dining).  Children Menú  (Under 10): 147,50 euros.  Palacio de Cibeles Plaza de Cibeles, 1 | Tfn.: 91 523 14 54 | Price: 231 euros (dining and confettis).

Then, you have the heritage cities to hold such a nice occassion, such as Alcalà de Henares and the year of Cervantes,http://culturalcala.es/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Programa-de-Navidad-2015_2016.pdf ;  the markets of Avilà, http://www.avilaturismo.com/es/agenda/v-centenario-santa-teresa-de-jesus/item/831-programa-conmemorativo-v-centenario the festival at Baeza ,http://www.baezaturismo.com/ sweet Christmas at Càceres, http://www.turismo.ayto-caceres.es/  the patios of  Cordoba, http://www.turismodecordoba.org/ draw one at Cuenca,http://turismo.cuenca.es/  traditional at San Cristobal de la Laguna , http://www.aytolalaguna.com/descubre.jsp go the past at Mérida,http://www.turismomerida.org/  see the history at Segovia, http://www.turismodesegovia.com/  route trends at Salamanca, http://www.salamanca.es/en/ gastronomic Santiago de Compostela, http://www.santiagoturismo.com/  the ninots of Tarragona, http://www.tarragonaturisme.cat/es the traditional tiovivo at Toledo, http://www.toledo-turismo.com/ and the guignols of Ubeda ; http://www.turismodeubeda.com/index.php/es/

And you can find more about them at the official heritage site of cities of the Spanish heritage, Ciudades de Patrimonio , here, http://www.ciudadespatrimonio.org/ciudades/index.php?idioma=en

The best guide to choose your Spanish wine, is Guia Peñin , for years the best, http://www.guiapenin.com/

I just had my Beronia red Rioja Reserva 2010 tonite ::)  and as in my blogroll at the bottom of my main page, the wines of Spain  and more is found all here at Apolo y baco , http://www.apoloybaco.com/

One of the best Spanish language site on Spanish gastronomy is here, the one I follow, Diario de Gastronomia, sharing ::) http://diariodegastronomia.com/ and for Madrid my Madrid the best in Spanish is here, Los 5 mejores; http://www.los5mejores.com/ ; and to rent the best of Spain in rural beautiful Spain, agroturismo casas rurales here  ; http://en.antiquanatura.com/rural-tourism/espana/

Enjoy Spain in the magical time of Christmas to Epiphany !

 

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