Archive for September, 2016

September 11, 2016

Foire aux vins or wine fairs are on in France!!!

This is the moment we wait to buy wines in quantity and good prices; these are the Foire aux Vins going on all over France now. It will be going on from end August to mid October 2016 depending on the store and the region. A wonderful time of the year indeed ::)

There are over 30 fairs of wine in France just between September and October 2016 in France, offering real bargains as we can vouch for it.  More here on fairs of any kind  I have it for wines in France in English:

All the leading hypermarkets here like E Leclerc, Giant Casino, Carrefour, Intermarché, Monoprix and Auchan have fairs on similar dates. The Sommeliers expert advice is to look for years 2005,2010,and 2015 as best years. Be careful of low prices from industrial wine growers, search well for prices, and the medal wine bottles as commercially manipulated. IN brief, you need to know who you buy from, both in store and from producers. I always have counted on producers if they are good their years will be good ,sure buy. Be aware that even if this is a national event, each regions has its choices so need to move about to find the best as a whole. One great wine in Provence may not be available in Bretagne and vice versa.

Some good events coming up that I have participated in the past are the Fête des Vendage de Montmartre Paris ,October 5-9,2016. This is going on since 1934!!! the best in Paris, More official page here:

The other is the Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants , in porte de Versailles, Paris November 24-28 2016, a fantastic place from all over France. More info here:

Salon des Vins d’Abbayes , is another jewel that this year has passed by but mark in your calendars for next year at Saint-Germain-des-Prés; Palais Abbatial 3 bis rue de l’Abbaye Paris 6éme. The wine began with the abbeys so come here to taste the ones still made today in them. You see others in France coming up here their official site that ,also, tells you about these wonderful abbeys such as see the site here:

The wines events are here :

Salon de la revue du vin de France is a magazine I have in my blogroll below posts and one that I have followed for many many years;the magazine and since their first event in Paris. They hold and event at the wonderful Palais de Brongniart or bourse every May with over 200 vignerons from all over France in a wonderful chic place.  Next one is the 11th edition on May 19-20 2017; more info here:

At the Carrousel du Louvre, November 25-26 2016 they will hold the Le Grand Tasting Under a great tasting team of France ,Bettane+Desseauve (they publish a wine guide )  ;over 300 producers and a cooking MasterChef class as well. More info here:

One newspaper I follow and best for comparisons is the Le Figaro . It provides available wines by region and store as well as prices so you are well arm when stepping into the stores. Is a must to read before going out shopping. It’s in French of course; The site not only gives you supermarkets but also specialize wine stores with a nice tri to look up prices and wine labels  régions etc; more here:

One smaller wine tasting I went for several years before moving to Bretagne is held by the Port de Suffren in Paris, at the Le Maxim’s boat own by Pierre Cardin; Saveurs et Vins , the next one will be November 18-20 2016, and we have made many friends we now follow all over France from the Loire to the Dordogne. More here in French:

And one that the organiser told me could not be held in July 2016 and waiting further for the 2017 but it has been fabulous in the Touraine-Amboise region of the loire, Centre region this is just north of Amboise.  Promenade Gourmande. A walk in the vineyards with local music, food and local wine tasting while while walking amongst the grapes. Of course, there are kiosks at 1 km intervals for you to eat and taste and keep walking, all fun to raise funds for the Lion International assoc of the Loire. More here:

See a youtube video here of the 2015 event;

Other favorite stores of mine are Lavinia Paris (origin of Spain), Rue de la Madeleine by the Church same name.

Nicolas  (our top favorite) all over France and the main one in Paris same area of the Madeleine;

Millesima Bordeaux,:

Denis Perret, Beaune:

We just came from visiting Nicolas Vannes where we load u a couple cases of wine to stock up ‘beefup’ our cellar at home. Very good wines at discounted prices, the way to go and Monday is my Birthday ::) so off from work and took Tuesday off too. La belle France is generous and we love it.

Enjoy the wines in moderation and keep up a tradition of centuries ,wine is good for you. France came down a bit on wine production last year at 42+ millions hl short of the 47 it did year before that. The quality so far is not good due to weather so  keep an eye out on the producers they wont get you wrong. The 2015 is very good thought.

In Vino Veritas ,enjoy your Sunday. Weather is cloudy cooler by 66F or 13C but no rain in our Bretagne. Need to put some photos so here are some personal ones on the roads of wines of France. Cheers.

Gan Bergerac Saint Julien Pauillac Pauillace




September 10, 2016

Vannes, the tunnel and the Gulf of Morbihan

As you know if reading my posts, I work in Vannes just outside in a castle from 1504 ::) So the city is like a second home to me.. It is the capital of the Morbihan departément 56 in Brittany and one city left intact from the ravages of wars. The tourist office again is here:

The city is rich in history and architecture as well as a great maritime tradition. The canal into the pleasure marina in Le  Port can hold 3000 boats and falls into the Gulf of Morbihan and the Gare Maritime passenger boat terminal to the islands. The Gulf is an Unesco World Heritage site.

May 22-28 2017 is the Semaine du Golfe here or the Gulf’s week, full of sea sailing activities , more here:

Water activities and info on the cruises to the island  ,you find them here:

This is local site in French but complete on the islands in the Gulf of Morbihan:

This is an interactive map from the regional Council on the Gulf of Morbihan play with the dots and see island détails;you need flash.

There are many wonderful art expo center, one that always catches my eye passing by often is the Hotel de Limur on 31, Rue Thiers just near Le Port and not far from the Hotel de Ville/city hall.  It has three floors and a French garden in the back; inside it has a grand white marble stairs style Louis XIII built by 1685 , and it was here that the Breton émigrés or immigrant from England who came back to fight for monarchy and sentence to death all remaining 795 of them were judge revolutionary style (the remains are in the Chartreuse d’Auray) .  The Limur family takes over in 1820 and held on to the building until 1947; when it becomes prôperty of the city and the fine arts museum is housed here from 1955 to 1968 ,and even today is in charge of its upkeep. Many temporary exhibitions are held here; like the one going on now until September 25th, “Chateaux et Manoirs de Vannes” 14h to 18h free admission. In French from the city of Vannes page, history on the Limur:

The real thrill today was finally see the tunnel Under the Gulf of Morbihan that connects both end of the bay from Vannes to Séné is now open. Before it was a bridge (pont de Kerino) that had to be raise and lower for boats now no more and the traffic is much smoother.

This page from the city tells you on public transports in the Vannes metro area in English:

This one tells you down the line a bit more on the Kérino bridge in English:

And even thus the tourist and city officials are a bit slow on the update on the bridge in the above links, the TV France 3 of the region has the  news and a small video on it, that I rode and told you here!!! In French of course, but the video is worldly lol!

The old bridge will be dismantled phase out and all will be on the new tunnel allowing 20000 vehicules to past by it nicely with cycling and pedestrians passageways as well! Of course, the view on the bay will be lost oh well we cannot have it all. For the road warrior in me ,the tunnel is great and tested wonderfully.

So I am happy to have try the tunnel and been one of the first one, and ahead of the local authorities on their webpages yahuuoo ::) Now enjoy it when in the area and if by let me know , the Morbihan is tops and the only department in France without a French name , you know it, Breton all the way, Mor=sea bihan=small or petite mer or small sea or Morbihan.

Oh yes forgot , did when to the market in Vannes by place du poids public and visit my Nicolas wine store, it’s the Foire aux vins or wine fair going on and we load up, walking the cartons back to the car parked for 40cents in Place de la Libération ::)

Have a great weekend.

Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes





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September 9, 2016

Real Madrid FC is on the move, as always!!!

Talking about nostalgia, this was my teen years living in Madrid and playing for the Real Madrid FC both in the alavin division and on the sponsored Baseball team at the Elipa.

When lived here, I started out playing baseball for the Real Madrid at the Parque Municipal de la Elipa complex, remember taking the P13 bus (today is the 113) from Alcalà street to the Elipa. Today baseball is still played there and the seat of the Madrid baseball/softball federation. The stadium is here:

Then, I moved over to the football/soccer section at the old Casa de Campo fields, back in 1972-74. Real Madrid official pg is here:

I have continued to played football all over where I have been until recently in an indoor corporate league in France.  Being very attach to the Real Madrid I have been a life long fan Madridista of the team and follow it religiously anywhere.

In the meantime, I am honorary member of five peñas or supporting group of the Real Madrid from Xove Galicia to Malaga Spain;visit often.

The trips to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Valdebebas Real Madrid city  for the junior teams are annually and sometimes more; some times getting together with similar friends there in groups or individually. Nowdays, the facilities have nothing in common to those of earlier years, more here:

More on the Bernabeu stadium here:

So far this year 2016-2017 season, the team is tied in first place on points with a string record of 14 straight victories or ties Under coach Zinedine Zidane (France). Going this Saturday September 10th vs Osasuna for a record 15 only done before in the 1960-61 season Under coach Miguel Muñoz.

The farm team Real Madrid Castilla plays in the Liga Segunda B Grupo II , next game vs Gernika September 10th. They are now in 6th place: more here:

Been a true Real Madrid fan, I,also, followed and have attended their Basketball games; more here season starts next September 30th vs Unicaja of Malaga: more here:

Needless to say,in both football and basketball we are the winningest club both in the Spanish League (Santander)  and European titles( Champions).

My hangout when by the Bernabeu is the Real Cafe Bernabeu restaurant where you can see the field of play sitting in a nice table. More here:

It has become a way of life even if not so prolific writer on sports in my blog, there are some, just search ::) Hala Madrid!!!  And our anthem


Real Madrid

 Real Madrid  Madrid Real Madrid Real Madrid

September 9, 2016

The fortified towers of Havana. Los torreones de la Habana

As nostalgia sits in, once in a while, looking at my past photos, I came upon the torreones or small fortified towers used for defense along the harbor of Havana. As a boy used to go there with my Mother, and now when back always stopped by. I left Havana, Cuba in 1971 early to Madrid Spain, and came back to it and Cuba in 1984, 1998,and 2012.

The one that always caught my attention was the Fuerte de Santa Dorotea de la Luna de la Chorrera, short for Chorrera. This one was built in 1646! On the English taking of Havana in 1762-63 it was almost totally destroyed and was rebuilt after they left. This tower fortress lies at the mouth of the river Almendares.

The other nice one is the Torreon de Cojimar, built in 1649. This is made famous as it was from where Ernest Hemingway used to go to do fishing and here influenced by it wrote The Old Men and the Sea from which he won a Pulitzer prize in 1952 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.  This one too was rebuilt after the English were expelled unter the Paris Treaty in 1763. Here a bust in memory of Ernest Hemingway was built in 1962.

One more is the Torreon de San Lazaro o Caleta; built in 1665. It was a lookout between the fortress of La Punta and Chorrera tower on a site of the old San Lazaro Hospital therefore its name . This location in the entrance of way of the bay San Lázaro, where many pirates landed and now sits in the property of the park Antonio Maceo by the Malécon.

These are some of the off the beaten path of Havana and well Worth the detour to know the city. San Cristobal de la Habana official name, founded in 1519 by governor coloniser Diego de Velázquez is said by Unesco to hold about 144 buildings from the 14-15-16-17 century , more than any other city in the Americas. More here:

Official tourist sites on Cuba!varadero

Enjoy my bit of nostalgia and beautiful off the beaten path buildings of my Habana. Cheers

Havana Havana Havana

September 8, 2016

Some news from France , CXLI

We are getting there to another fine weekend of wonderful weather in the Morbihan Breton right around 20C or about 68F and nicely sunny. So now let’s see what is going on in my belle France.

And now we are having jungles in Paris, the city has agree to set up refugees camps by the Blvd Néry up to the Porte de la Chapelle starting early October. And only for men, go figure, as per Le Parisien newspaper. More in French here:

The Château de Fontainebleau is looking for donations to save about 46 works of arts . You can see the collection at the Galerie d’Art Aveline in front of the Palais de l’Elysée in Paris, they will be shown there until October 9th. These pièces were done at the Manufacture de Sévres. More here in French ;

A big bar Ephémere is being setup at the blvd Richard Lenoir; on the corner of blvd Voltaire and Richard Lenoir what would later be a garden will be open until November .Open Mondays to Sundays from midday to 21h ,free admission More here:

The Paris Aquarium by the Trocadéro will host red fishes like those you keep in your house or back patio pond. More in the French page of the Aquarium here:

The famous elite corp of chevaliers of the Cadre Noir de Saumur could move into the Château de Versailles;anyway that is what the court  of Accounts or revenue court said. The Institut français du cheval et de l’équitation, of which the Cadre Noir are attached is not making money so to bring in more revenue ,but the Château is not so much convince as they already have Bartàbas in the Grande Ecurie. Time will tell  all. It would be great and something added value to the city and if you need to know who are the Cadre Noir de Saumur, here is their official page in English:

Something on French liquors here folks some of the best in the world too. Have you try the Pineau de Charentes a liquor muted with the Cognac; where it is aged as much as 12 months. Here the drink is drank as an apéritif or apéro just before the meals. You can taste this and others at one of the best in Paris, A La Française, here:

These liquors are even more known outside of France from London to New York, but gradually the French are taken then as happy hour, after work or apéros. Another great place to taste these and has no webpage is La Coq ,12 rue du Château d’Eau, 10éme Métro :  Jacques Bonsergent / Château d’Eau / République. Some others well known here are the Chartreuse, Suze, Picon, Dubonnet, Calvados, Armagnac, Saint-Raphaël, Noilly Prat, Bénédictine, Byrrh, and Absinthe.In the different régions of France you find,also, the Whisky, Vodka (Grey Goose, Pyla, Lactalium…); fruit liquors such as the Joseph Cartron, and Vedrenne or plant base as the Verveine du Velay from  Puy-en-Velay, in the heart of Auverge ,Haute-Loire since 1859. The rum from the islands such as Saint James or Rhum Trois Rivières; not to forget the Cognac such as the Louis XIII, and to know more about them nothing best then the BNIC, more here in English;

Couple other good bars to try these liquors and more are the  Andy Wahloo bar, more here :  ; and the Le Syndicat, here:

And the MisterGoodBeer folks tells you where to get the cheapest beer in Paris!!! by metro stop !!! these are Parmentier, Cadet and Couronnes. The cheapest metro line is line 4 at 3,90€ and the most expensive is line 9 and 14 at 4,80€.  The most expensive at above 6€ are metro stop at Chaussée d’Antin – La Fayette, Franklin Roosevelt, Sèvres-Babylone or  Ecole Militaire.  You can get some reasonable price beers by Miromesnil (4€), Rue du Bac (4€) or Louvre-Rivoli (4€).

For bowling go to Strike Beach at Bercy from September 5th to 30th Inside the hotel Pullman Paris Centre Bercy . It will be held from Monday to Friday from 11h to 22h, Sundays 11h to 16h ,the admission price is 5€ for a game of bowling or the Package Pastis & bowling 8€ . Pastis drink in various levels, the full address is at  1, rue de libourne 75012 Paris (Line 14 stop Cour Saint-Émilion). More from Le Figaro here:

And down at Toulon, where the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup sailing event will have a stop at plage Mourillon , where you get front seat to see the five challengers including the French  Groupama captain by Franck Cammas, against the defending champion the American  Defender by Oracle.  This is this weekend Sept 9,10, 11h to 14h Friday and 14h30  to 16h Saturday and Sunday.More here:

How about having the best Chaussons aux Pommes in Paris. One of our favorite desserts here. The winner in Le Figaro contest was Ladurée, 16 Rue Royale, Laurent Duchéne, 2 rue de Wurtz, and Des Gâteaux et du Pains, 80 rue du Bac as the top 3.

Ladurée Paris

Laurent Duchéne

Des Gateaux et du Pains

Some places to visit and enjoy in Paris as we call the re entry or rentrée from normal vacation time in France are these

Gaumont Alésia, 73 avenue Général Leclerc more for the cinema here:

Librairie le Divan, after many years by Saint-Germain-des-Prés now in the 15éme arrondissement; 203 rue de la Convention, more here:

And this will be in Facebook by September 20th but the bar Le Bluebird. 12, rue Saint Bernard (11éme). It will have nights of Gin cocktails from 11 to 13€ in a Californian ambiance.

The  Parc de la Folie Saint-James 16 avenue de Madrid, Neuilly sur Seine has reopen after years of work 2 hectares and about 6000 plants nicely done ,it recall the 18C origins of anglo chinese gardens here.  The story in French from the city page here:

Away in the gardens of the Château de Chantilly (Domaine) you have this wonderful corner, L’Auberge du Jeu de Paume , 4 rue du Connétable, from the school of Guy Savoy, chic French, more here:

To honor the Montmartre of yesteryear, Le Bistrot de la Galette, 102 ter rue Lépic , from galettes to full meals classy French, more here :

The famous Café de Flore reunited the artists of each generation such as Guillaume Apollanaire, Jean-Paul Sartre, Robert Doisneau, Françoise Sagan, and Serge Gainsbourg. The Galerie Anne & Just Jaeckin shows an exposition to honor these periods in a mythical place. From September 22nd to December 2 2016; 19 rue Guénégaud, 6éme, Tuesdays to Saturdays from 13h to 19h. More here:

At the Plaza Athénée,27 Avenue Montaigne(the Illusionist Stefan Leyshon  opens a series of mysterious dinners ( Secret dinings) on 16 dates to relive a sensorial experience with magic in 3D, mentalism and new technologies as well as a dinner; 295€ per person ;more here:

“Carl Andre, Sculpture as Place, 1958-2010” , expo from October 18 to February 12 2017 at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (16éme). One of the great minimalistic exponent of the art will put on display about 40 sculptures, poems, photos, works on paper and unclassable objects. More here:

Manolo Valdez of Spain will come to the Place Vendôme until October 5th with the Marlborough Gallery with 6 monumental works inspired from the 20C from Matisse to Picasso. More here in English:

And the lingerie queen Chantal Thomas will invade the Crazy Horse ,12 Avenue George V with four portraits of belles showing the new collection from October 5th:more in French here:

The department store the Bon Marché is showcasing Paris of course until October 15.  You will see it on the Windows of the store all decorated with themes of Paris, nice. More here:

And the Musée d’Orsay is not left behind, the expo “Spectaculaire Second Empire” from September 27 to January 15 2017. More here in English:

And the Musée du Quai de Branly-Jasques Chirac, will have from October 4th the exposition; “The Color Line”.  It retraces 150 years of Afro American art history showing more than 200 works of artists like David Hammons, Jacob Lawrence, Aaron Douglas, Elizabeth Catlett, and Ellen Gallagher. More here in English:

There you go something to make come back , Paris and France is waiting. Enjoy your end of week, mine is good going back to my Paris end of September !!!! Cheers



September 7, 2016

Some news from Spain, XXX

And why not Spain, already breaking records on weather as much as 44C in Granada and 41C in Madrid to visitors arrivals all over the country this year. Some interesting info here me think.

Spain has over 275000 bars restaurant-hotels and people asked the question why go to a bar? There is a study done by the beer brand Mahou San Miguel that shows some interesting facts.

People go to them for meeting with friends (88,9%), parties (88,4%) or lower the daily stress (86,6%) are the principal reasons. The ages old question that we go to connect with the opposite sex is not confirm as only 15,3% said they do , the highest response was in La Rioja region with 19,9% .

The motives for going are in no specific order: get together with friends, lower the daily stress, party for special occasions, meet colleagues from work, watch a football/soccer game, so do not have to cook, to do network or close business, to study or work with colleagues, to find the opposite one or connect to WiFi

The best out of it according to this study about 85% says the most important segment for the economy and to bring in tourists to Spain by (83,9%) especially in the region of Navarra (90%).

The survey tell us that they come to bars for its quality of food (70,3%) the good time and terraces (67,5%) are the ones most preferred by the tourists way ahead of variety of offers (58,8%),Fairs and routes of tapas as well as regional celebrations (58,1%), the quality price ratio (57,8%), the good service (57,7%) and where they serve free tapas (with a drink) (53,1%).

And what about the old question of tips ? You give it for good service (61,8%) or always no matter what (20,4%) or never no matter what (17,8 (%). There you go.

And how to drink that beer ! or Caña the best is to be really cold for about (47,8%), of Spaniards but higher in some regions such as Murcia, Canarias, Andalucía, Castilla-La Mancha ,and Extremadura. Of course, the women wants it colder than the men 52% vs 43,8% . However, for 25,6% of those in the survey the key is that the beer is well serve and 70% of them agreed in their regions is done well with Andalucia (82,5%), Madrid (80,4%), and Extremadura (77,3%) as the most satisfied.

And how to tell which beer goes with what meal . by general in Spain 62,6%. Can tell the variety and match with the food. However, about 36,2% has basic idea on how to do this. Here the best match is done by Asturias (46.3%), Andalucia (42%) and the less adapts are Extremadura (24.4%) and Balearic islands (23.9%).


And on something different you know the Vuelta de España cycling race is going on now. It went to places that I past by before by car :J You have Colombians leading the race with an English (born in South Africa) and the Spaniards Alberto Contador , Samuel Sanchez, and David De La Cruz in the top 10. The 18 stage will be in Valencia country tomorrow. Then down to Alicante and up to Madrid on the 21th stage to finish on the paseo del Prado. More here:

The movie Julieta by Pedro Almodovar will represent Spain in the coming Oscars of February 26 2017. A story of women, see trailers and more here :

Secrets of my Madrid, do you know that on Calle de Amaniel, 29. was the original Mahou beer company of Madrid brewery built in 1892-94.  The brewery was transferred to Paseo Imperial and , then further to the Ramirez de Prado on El Aguila beer  brewery ,and finally the building was in decay until rescue by the Comunidad de Madrid that renovated and now houses the Regional Archives. More on it here :;isdiah

Selena Gomez will be in concert at the Palacios de los Deportes in Madrid on November 14 it has been announced as well as others coming up like Laura Pausini on October 7th. More here: and more on Selena here :

And always even if in Spanish the best guide for Entertainment in Madrid for yeeears, is La Guia del Ocio. Here it is folks:

And do not missed the quaint Mercado de San Ildefonso in Calle Fuencarral , 57 ,barrio de Malasañas. 700 M2 and 18 stores to serve the typical Madrid ambiance, great. More of it here:

And , do not forget to scroll down on my blog to the blogroll to see some of my favorite links on travel , sports, food ,and much more.  Showcasing the webpage of my good friend from Tenerife, who is an avid Walker and trekker of hte island mountains, canyons and forests.

Enjoy Spain, everything Under the sun; and of course Madrid is a must. Cheers





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September 3, 2016

Some news from France CXXXX

Well back in the routine in my lovely Morbihan Breton, and so back to the board for many activities coming up ni my belle France.

First the annual wonderful event on this year from September 17 -18 is Heritage days in France again, many buildings of historical value will be open when usually they are closed to the general public.  Not knowing the wide public’s taste, the best site to see all that is happening is in the student publication here and you can use the drop down Windows to choose the events;

For instance the great department store BHV Marais will celebrate it’s 160 years with shops in the basement and exhibition on the history of the store on Saturday the 17th september from  10h to 19h ,free admission.

The mythical room Elysée Montmartre built in 1807 will opens its door after renovation on September 15th at blvd de Rochechouart. This is the birth of French cancan and will have 1000 seated seats and 1400 standing.

And how about September 10 and 11 a Festival on sheeps and wool !!! , do we have diversity lol! at Bray sur Seine. more info  at email or here :

At my beloved Versailles 2 Rue Jean Houdon you have the Royal Factory theater, only Five minutes from the palace up ave de Paris; wonderful for an alternative see in the royal town.

Moving right alone to catch on the scene in France.

At the Porte Dauphiné, you see the renovated Pavillon Dauphiné, this is the old Chinese pavillion for the Universal Exposition of 1878.  It has 7 reception meetings rooms with private terraces giving to a nice garden capable of hosting 60 to 1000 persons and even double that for cocktails. Nice building indeed on the Paris skyline once again. More here from the traiteur in charge:

Less than a million tourist and occupancy down in Paris after the terrorists actions and the folks go away, do not understand why , Paris is Paris. This is as of July 2016 according to article in a Professional journal of tourist htat I followed. Nevertheless, the most coming are from UK, Spain, USA,Germany, and Italy in that order.

Quai de Branly, a new Church this time Russian Orthodox takes shape. See the dome 5 in total already shaping up:

The so call CDG Express to build a direct train line from CDG airport to the Gare de l’Est in Paris will cause a  potential raise of an euro in transports to help pay for it. This tax is to begin in 2017 unless revoked by the Council and will cover the cost of building the line by 2023 lol!!! The site on this construction in French is here:

One of my boys pleasures  was ,when living in Versailles go to the  Val-de-Seine aqua park at Verneuil-sur-Seine. It’s a wonderful park for all the family, that we found superb. From Paris to get there;  take the train at Gare Saint Lazare direction Mantes la Jolie but stop at the station in Verneuil-Vernouillet. Get out taken the secondary exit ,turn left along the lake of the park on the cycling path walking for about 35 minutes or you can take a taxi.:more here in French :

Take a look at a less known castle that of Pierrefonds , the flag blason traces it back to 1309. The castle was built end of 14C by the duke Louis d’Orléans,and was demolished in the 17C. Napoléon III see in ruins and asked for its reconstruction to the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc , that made it into an ideal castle as it was in the middle ages. The flowers of lys on a blue background that we see in the flags of arms of France since the reign of king Louiw VII and the symbol of the French royals today. A wonderful property to visit, see more here:

After two years of work on renovation the national school of decoratives arts of Aubusson turns into the Cité internationale de la tapisserie, (international city of tapestries) and at the same time a museum and training center. The building is in a cross style of architecture with a nave of 7 meters, and strings of designs emblematic of the 16C Aubusson production, and many tapestries from the 20C signed by Lurçat, and his followers such as Le Corbusier or Braque. More in English here:

The musée maison Victor Hugo of Paris is transforming into a house as in the times of the writer  and family until September 18. Wonderful stories, more here in English :

There is a huge hangar converted into an arts gallery in Paris , this is the Reserve Malakoff.  To showcase the talents of those on the other side of the river Seine, about 50 street artists have done a work named Le Grand 8, visible here until October 30th. You get there from Paris,  La Réserve, 7 rue Paul Bert, 92240 Malakoff, metro line 13 plateau de Vanves up by rue Etienne Dolet.More in French here:

See Hergé on Grand, the great cartoonist(real name George Remi of Belgium)  no longer with us but his wonderful work continues on . For four months at the Grand Palais rediscover the adventures of Tintin and many more.  From September 28th to January 15 2017; admission will be 13€.  More info in English here:

And see Indiana Jones at the Grand Rex ! pack two days on September 17 and 18 2016. Doors open at 15H and cost for the entire day each is 45€.  And for those born in 1981 yikes! you are offered a package of 35€ including t shirt, popcorn, poster, and soft drinks. More in French here:

And not to go all out dry, you can stop at the La Cave à Bulles to taste about 150 different beers from 4€ each including French, Belges, and others Great deal this is at 45, rue Quincampoix (4éme).  Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10h-14h  and 16h-20h. Just what we call here the apéritif or apéro or app ::) more on the beers here do not be misled by the wines ::)

The jardin de l’Observatoire (14C) has reopen its doors!!! From September 5th. open Mondays to Fridays from 16h15 to 19h, and you go in by 98 boulevard Arago. more from the city of Paris page :

More closer to my heart ,the Château de Versailles and the city of Arras (nord 62) will showcase an exposition on the life of Napoléon. It will be held at the museum or Musée des Beaux Arts of Arras between October 2017 and November 2018. In order to spread the works all over France, this initiative has already permitted about 400K visitors to the museum of Arras to see the expositions of « Roulez Carrosses »  ride the carriages and « Le château de Versailles en 100 chefs-d’œuvre » the castle of Versailles and its 100 main works. The museum at Arras is house a wonderful old abbey of  Saint Vaaste. See it plan it you read it here.

Talks about opening gaming houses in Paris has the Casino d’Enghien-les-Bains a bit worry as it is nearby. This is the only town in the region of  Ile-de-France authorised to have a casino and profit from a spa thermale.  More on the casino here:  ;even thus you have some already for a long time ::)

The musée de la Nacre at Méru (Val d’Oise 60) is proposing creators of knitting work to come forth and showcase their talent for a prize.  You have  until September 30 to submit your works on a piece 20 x 20 cm, contacts : 51 rue Roger Salengro, 60110 Méru.

At Perpignan Visa pour l’image is the biggest photojournalism festival that gives credit to the profession. We will see the great reporting of Brent Stirton on the dismal luck of the elephants of Africa, Catalina Martin-Chico on the last nomads of Iran or Valerio Bispuri on the drug traffic in Argentina. This is ongoing until September 11th. More here:

At Rochefort, they are celebrating 350 years of the Arsenal. Created by king Louis XIV in 1666. I know was late on this one as it is happening now see if Rochefort tells you a story with historic recontructions , parades in costumes ,equestrian shows , baroque val dance,  picnic and many more. Jotted down for next year  ,it is wonderful. More here :

Until September 20th,the national tapestry of France is showcasing the “Le maître de la tapisserie” or the master of the tapestries. 50 years of his passing the Galerie des Gobelins du Mobilier National is given a big exposition on Jean Lurçat, painter, designer, ceramist, known as the renovator of the contemporary tapestry.  The expo is call in French « Au seul bruit du soleil » On until September  18.  by metro Gobelins line 13 at 42 Avenue des Gobelins. More info here ;

And right around my old place and even if usually closed in Summers, the new shows wll be on from September 17. Now going on the Académie équestre nationale de Versailles can be visited this weekend too  (bit late but if around and read this ..) with the show « La Voie de l’Ecuyer », created by the great one  Bartabas.  you can visit the stables and the gallery of carriages until Sunday  from 14h to 18h. More info here:

The folks from Fooding organise the « Plats de résistance », a banquet on September 24th at the La Générale, in the 11éme  arrondissement or district of Paris. This is done with the cooperation of about 10 chefs who are active in this humanistic social event the public is invited. Some of the chefs are  Kamal Mouzawak  ,Lebanon, Jessamyn Rodriguez from New York, and  Aman Jaspal from India. The menus is offered to many present and a way to see how to live together all in our world. Reservation needs to be done here:

Okeerokee, now enjoy your weekend. We benefit from the sales and did some shopping on furniture and bathroom we are completely remodeling and new fixtures lol! Lucky we have some good inexpensive plombers around here ::) Cheers











September 1, 2016

From Las Majadas back to France, the long journey of memories!

Well all good things ends quickly and the time is never enough. Our family vacation in Spain is over and we headed home to our Morbihan Breton in France.

We spent two glorious weeks in Spain , see my previous post to this one. It was special because the boys are now old enough to undertand everything, and we went by places that first  my Mother took me, and then came alone, and then came with girlfriend and then wife and even with the boys younger,and now Young men. All begins to sink in now, the roots are important.

We say goodbye to our wonderful property owner of Casa Pitu in Las Majadas, Serrania de Cuenca, who were fantastic and kept the memories lingered. We left early by 7am or 7h in our family car, the big tough Ford. We did not make hotel reservation as this will be a lingering long trip full of memories of my Spain. If had time we would stop and if not I am still good on the road to do it all the way ::) Our house was this one:

I wanted one last memory for our family in Spain, and decided not to go back the same way we came by the Col du Portalet. This time we headed first to Guadalajara , passing by one special town of Calatayud. This is the town I stopped with my then girlfriend for gas and something to eat at the next door restaurant/hotel that had a wedding going on ! appropiate it seems.  We sat in the middle of the restaurant with the wedding party on one side and always remembered by us. This time the hotel restaurant was abandoned and just the Repsol gas station was there.  We decided to gas/petrol just in town at the Cepsa gas station but we stopped by the old just for the memories and another story to our boys.

At the end of town  ,we link up with the A2 direction Zaragoza that we bypass on the beltway road Z40.  We took the A23 direction Huesca where we link up with the N330 direction Jaca passing by Sabiñanigo.  We continue on the N330 direction France and the Somport pass tunnel.

This was memorable too as when I first started traveling by car between Spain and France there was no tunnel but had to go on first gear with a VW Golf up the Pyrénées mountains over the Col de Somport mountain. Here passing Castiello de Jaca, and then Vilanua ,a great memory as usually we had stayed at the Faus Hutte mountain hotel here,now it is call Lacasa. We remember arriving very late like 10PM or 22h and the hotel owners opens up the restaurant to give us something to eat and stayed for the night before continuing on to France !!! Memories never to forget. This is the hotel now:

Further on, we passed by the winter stations of Canfranc and Candanchu before arriving at the Col du Somport (1632 meters high). You can still do this route, but we have done it and were eager to get back home quicker.  So instead ,we took the modern tunnel of Somport.  You have two lanes road in the tunnel that is 8 602 meters long with  2 848 meters in France and 5 754 meters in Spain.

Once we came out in the French side ,you are on the N134 road direction Pau. However, first town you see is Urdos, where it was the customs border before the EU and you were check sometimes and sometimes not. Now, of course you are not check at all, and you won’t even notice the customs house.

The N134 takes you direction Oloron-Sainte-Marie and then towards Pau.  Here by Orthez we took the A65 direction Langon. However, we heard on the radio that there was traffic jams at the Bordeaux beltway N230/A630 so we change gears.

Alone the Garonne river we took the D10 to Langoiran to hook up with the D20 road passing Creon and onwards to Libourne.  We came across on the D670 to Saint-André-de-Cubzac hooking up again with the A10 direction Saintes.

We continue on the A10 to just past Niort where we hook up with the A83 direction Nantes. This later road hook ups with the N844 and then the  N165 direction Vannes and home taking the D768 road.  Easy ride and no traffic, minimum tolls as we like it.

In previous post, I have told you about these wonderful towns and cities in no particular order: Madrid, Valencia,Segovia, La Granja de San Ildefonso, Torrejon de Ardoz, Alcala de Henares, Aranjuez, Toledo, Villarejo de Salvanés, Colmenar la Oreja, Chinchon, Huete, Las Majadas, Cuenca, Uña, Alarcon, Segobriga, Jaca, Vilanua, Calatayud, Belmonte, Jaca, Canfranc, Camarsac,Libourne, Albarracin, Villalba de la Sierra, Bordeaux-La Bastide hoping not to have forgotten any.

Now a weekend is approaching and already trips book to Paris, Dublin and Prague for the next couple of months on solo trips. Enjoy your weekend and yes it is TGIF ::) Happy travels ,better motoring, and keep on driving !!!! Cheers

 Calatayud  Calatayud  Calatayud  Calatayud  Calatayud  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca Libourne Somprot





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