Archive for December, 2016

December 31, 2016

Happy New Year, Feliz Año Nuevo, Bonne Année, all from Vannes

Ok so this is the last day of 2016, and what a year it has been, ,more posts than ever, more likes and comments than ever, and just great to finish it.  Thank you to all my followers and readers!!! We took one last ride in our capital city and work city of Vannes today. Breton language we call it Gwened!

We got early to take one of our son to the Cinéville Parc Lann to meet some friends and we took advantage to do some errands in town. The movie was Assasin’s Creed, and the cinema page is here: http://vannes.cineville.fr/programmes?salle=vannes_parc

The day have been blurry foggy and cold at 2C or about 36F. The Cinéville is in an area we do a lot of shopping from groceries at E Leclerc to Decathlon, and several restaurants like Pizza del Arte, La Boucherie, Tablapizza, Brooklyn Café etc etc. So it is very central to us, a great place to meet if passing by y’all ::)

This is where the V&B bar concept store is located and we do get a lot of beers here domestic and imported mostly from Germany and Belgium. Across it ,is our Castorama home building store and we got the last of the 3 electric radiators for our heating ,up to the latest technology and now the house is fully modernized!!! We have change everything including the insulation in the laundry room in the basement and attic!

We are now having goals for 2017 to do the changeover of all front door windows and paint the entire basement which is 125 M2(about 1345 SF)….The roof windows velux have been all change to modern ones. Getting ready for retirement and easy nice life even if still about 3 years to go.

Having purchase and return home, we found out another of our sons had taken the bus to go to city center so decided to go back to Vannes and pickup both to be quicker for the end of year cooking. Of course, the went to one of their favorite store Japanim for all Japanese style manga and figurines etc. in the old town of Vannes.  More on the store here: https://beenaps.com/japanim-vannes-vannes/

We could not leave the city without the ever presence baguette bread so just behind the Cathedral St Pierre in the Place Brulée there is this wonderful bakery, boulangerie Crabot at rue Guénhaêl. We got our wonderful staple à la française here, bien sûr. no webpage, their telephone number is +33 (0) 2 97 69 12 54.

We found parking incredible as it may sound (if you drive around here) by the post next to the prefecture building or regional government building across from the ramparts; which is a rare opportunity. Doing all the above walks, which led us to some of the old part of town and photos here as well including the gardens of the préfecture, the ramparts, the Porte Prison, Musée la Cohue (across from Cathedral St Pierre) , and right on the parking shot the wonderful tour connetable or constable tower on the background! Lovely Vannes always.

In all a nice goodbye to 2016 from Vannes, and now home, ready to drop the clicking for the cooking help and of course the Réveillon!!! Bonne Année à tout le monde, Happy New Year to all, Feliz Año Nuevo para todos, Feliz Ano Nuovo para todos!!!

Cheers and see you in 2017 around the blog.

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December 29, 2016

Christmas 2016 in Paris !the marché de Noêl

Following my trips to some Christmas markets I could not be away from Paris even if now live 6 hrs away by car (not paying tolls). I used to worked in the city for 10 years before moving out west to Brittany about 6 years ago. You can read more in my blog and do search on the front page to seek other places and to know me more. Love to travel and share experiences.

Paris is a big word, awesome, unbelievable, amazing, a truly world city and why not the most beautiful city in the World. 32 millions people attest to this  every year since the WTO -UN decided to keep tabs of tourists visits back in 1949.

I took a car drive on the N12 getting to Versailles first (where I lived for 10 years), and then got to Paris on the A13 getting by the Porte Dauphiné into Avenue Foch ,around the Arc de Triomphe (yes!!!) and into my parking garage at the Etoile-Wagram in avenue de Wagram. From there took the walks of Paris you all should take and not the metro/subway , better see the beauty above ground. Here is the parking: http://www.interparking-france.com/fr-FR/find-parking/WagramArcdeTriomphe/

For information on the Christmas market or marché de Noêl , read here: http://en.parisinfo.com/paris-show-exhibition/142388/christmas-market-on-the-champs-Elysées

And here official site on markets in French ,Champs Elysées not the only one in Paris but over the years since the first I was and really honestly thought would never made it as it was almost empty has grown to a really nice good Christmas market; here is more: http://www.marches-noel.org/marches-de-noel-a-paris/#

We walked down the Avenue des Champs Elysées from the Arc de Triomphe all the way to the metro Roosevelt square rond-point des Champs-Elysées and into the Place de la Concorde and the big wheel in front of the entrance to the jardin des Tuileries.

In between, there was a plethora of chalets, kiosks, bank ATM, rides and food stalls even full restaurants serving season’s fare and trinkets from as far away as Brazil. The ambiance was very nice and locals mingle with tourists alike in a wonderful holiday spirit.

We love the season and sharing it with the world is great way to spend good strong family time. Nothing better than the Christmas market at the avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris. Most comments came in at 4 out of 5 rating which is very good.

The market will continue until January 8 2017, all from 12h to about 21h but we were there from 10h and many chalets were already open . You have about 180 chalets and two paying attractions, the Grande Roué or big wheel taking you 70 meters high (about 231 feet) and the ice skating or patinoire all of 1600 m2 or about 17,2K ft2.

By the Rond-point des Champs-Elysées, about 20 chalets will be dedicated to creators from fashion clothing to wood makers, glass blowers, jewelry makers and potters. Further, towards the Concorde you will see a village of artists coming from all the regions of France showcasing their creation. There will be a Food court or food village that will have from hot wine to pretzels (great we try it) to many other goodies.

Organizers are expecting from the opening on November 11st to January 8 closing almost 16 million visitors will show up! I think they will surpass it.

Other than the wonderful food court do not miss the Thriller ride with spooky characters and if with kids the petit train at the gare de Paris,and the cerfs flying train; also the petting area or pony rides.

All in all, the best Christmas market we have seen this year in the West of France.  Other markets going on were held at Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Gare de l’Est, Gare Saint Lazare, Abbesses-Montmartre, Eiffel on ice, mail de Branly(near pont d’Iena) , Pont de Suffren, around tour Montparnasse, quai Branly( Pont de l’Alma to Pont Bir Hakeim), and just outside Paris at La Défense.

Over the years we have been to all of them and other than La Défense that started strong, the one at the Champs-Elysées has surpassed it as the best of all in our opinion.

Now looking forward to the New Year 2017 and wishing all my followers and readers the very best in 2017. Happy New Year, Bonne Année et meilleurs voeux 2017!!!

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December 29, 2016

Another visit to Paris, after all it’s worth a visit again and again and again!

Ok so long title but Paris has so many on it, and not just written but photograph that by now it’s everybody’s capital city, beloved city, love city, and nostalgia sets in with me as met my wife there on the Champs-Elysées and at the Bistro Romain resto near the Arc de Triomphe lol! That was 26 years ago !!!!

Since then, visited umpteen times, and eventually came to worked in the city for 10 years, leave again and visit again now several times a year. Paris, we will always have Paris.

This time came to see my beloved Versailles where I lived while working in Paris, and why not take advantage of the Christmas market (Marché de Noêl); next post stay tune . Let me tell you, it started out as a tiny thing , never in my wildest dream believe it would turn out like it has, but then again, this is Paris. The festivities, the chalets and rides, the food on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées is awesome.

You can see still some until January 8th 2017 here: http://en.parisinfo.com/discovering-paris/major-events/christmas-in-paris/christmas-markets-in-paris/christmas-markets-in-paris

We rode our car into Paris, yes nothing to it even with the so call alternate driving dates and the ecolos trying to diminished Paris, and the terrorists doing their usual crap, well Paris is Paris ; it was saved from WWII destruction and nothing will stop it.

We came in by our usual entry on the Porte Dauphiné and into Avenue Foch to the Arc de Triomphe and get on Avenue de Wagram parking Etoile-Wagram; where we got in right from Wagram or you can come in on the side street rue de l’étoile. More on it here: http://www.interparking-france.com/fr-FR/find-parking/WagramArcdeTriomphe/?utm_source=My%20Business&utm_medium=Lien&utm_campaign=Wagram

We ,then, set out to walk Paris. Coming right at the Arc de Triomphe, the emblematic arch on the grand Avenue des Champs-Elysées. This was again a walk thru as we have been to the sights ,and now walking like a local is the thing to do; always gratifying to come here. The official Paris tourist office is here in English: http://en.parisinfo.com/

We do like to report (as we are big eaters on anything lol!) there is a new burger joint at the Avenue, this is the American chain Five Guys at 49-51 Avenue des Champs-Elysées. serving burgers from 9€ and smaller ones from 7€, fries medium for 5€, beef hot dogs from 5,50€, grilled cheese sandwich for 5€, sodas from 3,50€ milkshakes for 6,50€ with already good reviews and a huge line to get in outside and across the sidewalk! No wonder it arrived in France and this is their second one ,more here: https://www.fiveguys.fr/location

We had good views on a sort of cloudy day to the Assamblée Nationale, Invalides, Ecole Militaire, Eiffel tower, and passing the glorious Grand and  Petit Palais was awesome.  I went to see my old job for several years there now the Westin I was in the transition from the Intercontinental hotel (the L’Inter as we called it) and had my lunch breaks out at the Café l’Imperiale on rue Rouget de Lisle where the employees entrance to the hotel is still today.

The famous Lido cabaret is right here with a new show Paris Merveilles. However a whole lineup of dinner spectacle and champagne are in order for the New Year from 100€ to 630€ dinner show combination. More here just because it was one of the two favorites of mine, (other is lapin agile in Montmartre) ; http://www.lido.fr/en.html

The wonderful stores on the CE of historical significance after all the tourists walked by, are the Arcades des Champs-Elysées there since 1927; deco is Paris turn of the century inside, worth a detour from walking the avenue.  You continue onwards to the Concorde and pass the Galeries des Champs, more here: http://en.parisinfo.com/shopping-paris/73807/Galerie-des-Champs-Elysees

Moving right alone you reach on the same side of the street towards Concorde, the Galerie du Claridge; well for us was a fixture as there is the FNAC store and our boys went crazy for games, dvd,cd accessories when in town lol! still now !!!http://www.fnac.com/Paris-Champs-Elysees/Fnac-Champs-Elysees/cl76/w-4

There is even a committee of merchants and citizens that looks after the avenue and has a ton of information even if in French; http://www.comite-champs-elysees.com/

The activities official site of the avenue is here: http://www.champselysees-paris.com/

But we continue, into the great Jardin des Tuileries, this my boys played when young and me work just across it so it was my time off relaxation place and what a place with our great gardener André le Nôtre! The short story goes that Catherine de Médicis who was the queen regent at the time passed by and saw a dirty terrain with a tile factory (most now still covered the Louvre fortress museum); and she saw a very small plot of land well lawn and trim tree. Curious she ask who did it and they went to get the young men, admitting that it was him who did it she ask if he can do the whole terrain like that, and he said yes. Well ,the young boy was born there in a shackle, his name André Le Nôtre who later became the grand gardener of France from here to Versailles and onwards.  In French, the city of Paris page on the garden here: http://equipement.paris.fr/jardin-des-tuileries-1795

From the garden and my job there was an easy 5 minutes walk to the place Vendôme another jewel of Paris and a pleasure to walk it again.  However, right in the garden are two of the best museums of Paris. The  Museum of Jeu de  Paume, great contemporary modern museum and more on the tourist page in English here: http://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71258/Jeu-de-Paume-Paris

The other closer to me is the Museum of the Orangerie, right alone the Seine river; here you see the great work of Claude Monet ,Nymphéas.  Right there is a great show on the American painters of the 1930’s; more here in English: http://www.musee-orangerie.fr/en/article/history-water-lilies-cycle

Do take a look at the obelisk of Luxor in the place de la Concorde a gift from Egypt, and the wonderful fountains of the rivers and the seas or fontaines des fleuves et des mers as in the photos. I could not help it but passed by Pizza Pino resto on the avenue, a regular meeting place for business lunch in town, and the best look from the Pont de la Concorde to the Pont Alexander III and the gorgeous Seine river. Paris is eternal!

And something for the curious we have the Palais de l’Elysée for our home President home right off the Avenue and here you will see a picture of the front entrance.  More on it’s history in French here: http://www.elysee.fr/la-presidence/le-palais-de-l-elysee-et-son-histoire-2/

Of course, we could not leave Paris without eating and sampling the Parisian way of life in a cozy place just by our parking and perfect for our way out of the city. I have passed by it and been on business lunch before but this time told the family on our way home we will eat here before leaving the city and so we did. A pleasant dining experience as any in Paris!

We step into the La Flamme 6 avenue de Wagram, tel +33 (0) 1 42 27 85 25. It has a colorful ambiance in purple and red, with terrace and French traditional dishes. The baroque period frames are bordering the TV screen showing for this afternoon the NBA basketball game. The service was very good and the place very cozy indeed even for a family to be quiet having an excellent French dish of Fricassée des poisons or fishes 3 kinds tuna, snapper, and turbot. all wash down with a pelforth brune beer and to finish expresso coffee. The rest of the gang had different dishes all good and the price is just right ! no webpage of course, this you need to come and see it, taste it right down from the Arc de Triomphe on Avenue de Wagram right hand side. Bon appetite !

I will close out the year with the post on the Christmas market of the Ave des Champs-Elysées next, stay tune. Cheers and Happy New Year 2017 to all my followers and readers ,Bonne Année! Meilleurs voeux! !!!

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December 28, 2016

Versailles has Parly II in Le Chesnay for shopping!

Well, you probably come from a country of big malls or shopping centers and these are rare in France, a centre commercial is all you get with a handful of stores anchored by a big Carrefour, E Leclerc or else spread over open space. Well ,we were lucky to lived for 10 years in Versailles (see search our many posts on the city here), and we always shopped at Parly II in nearby cross the street Le Chesnay.

My boys went to middle school or collége here in Le Chesnay a very nice town chic a bit upscale and the mall is just an extention of it. The big Paris stores are here like BHV and Au Printemps, as well as the fancy Hédiard, and Lenôtre chains, all you need under one roof is here with class.

The mall webpage is here: http://parly-2.com/fr-FR/homepage

The shopping official address is 2 Avenue Charles de Gaulle, 78150 , Le Chesnay. The  hours are 10h to 21h  Mondays to Saturdays, Sundays Truffaut is open 10-19h , McDonalds 9h to 22h and Pizza del Arte 11h30 to 22h30. and the best way to get here from Versailles other than driving is to take phebus bus network bus A from city center of Versailles at the avenue de l’Europe bus terminal corner with Avenue de Saint Cloud ,very close to the castle. If you decide to take the car from Paris , take the A13 direction Rouen and get on exit :Sortie 6. Get on the D186 at Roquecourt direction Versailles, get around the arboretum bypass and see panel for centre commercial Parly II.

The restos here are plenty from Brioche Dorée, Laura Todd, Ellis gourmet burger ,Le comptoir de la mer, pizza del Arte, Mcdonalds, Paul boulangerie, and many service stores like the beforemention Hédiard, Lenôtre, Nicolas, Lindt, Jeff de Bruges, tabac, repairs of jewelry,and clothings, banks, travel like nouvelles frontiers.

Great department stores like FNAC, BHV de Paris, Au Printemps, Decathlon, Truffaut, Darty, Apple store, games like Micromania, Monoprix, Orange, Optic 2000, and cooking school of Lenôtre. Other stores like Armand Thiery, Alain Figaret, C&A, Darjeeling, Father & Son, H&M, Gant, Hugo Boss, Ikks, Jules, Lacoste, Levi’s, MacDouglas, Massimo Dutti, Nocibé, San Marino, Sephora, The body Shop, Tommy Hilfiger, Toys R Us, Truffaut, Decathlon, Yves Rocher, and Zara to name some of my favorites.

You have carte cadeau or gifts cards, and can take your own Parly II card for discounts in the mall; events invitations, children animations, and guignol shows. Valet parking available. Free WiFi, personal shopper, children spaces with care, as well as baby changers, nurse on duty at level or niveau 0 next to PC securité. Reception for hire of taxis, chairs, etc, phone recharge outlets, car wash by the porte de la concorde Mondays to Saturdays 10h to 18h, photo cabinet Harcourt at level or niveau 1 Porte Vendome and 4600 parking spaces for free. Parking levels -3,-2, -1, 1,0, The best at level or niveau 1 by Porte Saint Michel entered right into the food court of goodies ::)

Fully AC or heated yeararound with outside Cinema UGC to reopen 12 showrooms for end November 2017 as the previous one was a bit used and we love it underground!. Work continue on improvement non stop all the way to end November 2017!

Really for once a real mall ambiance and trés chic, you will love it while in Versailles, we do ::).  Enjoy the photos, and see you in 2017 as well. Paris is next. Cheers

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December 28, 2016

Versailles, Royal , my town, and glad to be back!

In my Christmas rounds as in previous posts, I could not finish the year 2016 without visiting my former home, and loving city of Versailles. It is more than just a castle, it’s a Royal city of France, and perpetual seat of the French constitution if ever needs changes adjustments to it, a de facto capital city of France.

I lived my first 10 years in France, and love it every minute of it. Still springs nostalgia out of it, left for job duties but the heart still here. Just arriving on the N12 by the D91 into avenue du Maréchal Joffre was incredible feeling, passing by the less known park of parc Balbi, very historical indeed just after the potager du roi and the Cathedral of Saint Louis. I know, yes, most of you come here for the castle palace, a museum for the greatness of France since 1837. However, there is more than the castle and historic buildings to abound many countries including my own USA.

Coming deeper into the city with memories flashing back as we finish 2016 was very nice indeed and sharing it with the family was sublime beyond words. Cruising into avenue du Général Leclerc and into ave du Général de Gaulle into the visiting parking at Sceaux was great easy and now even better modernize with credit cards automatic paying machines, no longer searching for those coins lol!

We parked our car at Sceaux and set out on foot to see the city and our memorable places that are different than the visitor of course. For us, passing by our Phebus network bus A stop at avenue de l’Europe and seeing the bus 19 of the Yvelines going to Parly II shopping center, shopping again at the Monoprix store and getting to the Préfecture or immigration building for my parents carte de séjour visiteur as American retirees was great. Right here you see the rive gauche RER train C station that millions take to see the castle from Paris and is a handy train ride into many places inside Paris, and the bus terminal in front and of course that wonderful vibrant ambiance at Rue Satory off avenue de Sceaux with its many restos, bars etc.  Right around the corner of Avenue de l’Europe and Avenue de Saint Cloud you have the wonderful flower market of Versailles! The marché des fleurs is open Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays from 8h to 19h and Sundays mornings. Further away you come to my favorite of all  markets the Marché Notre Dame of course at the Place Notre Dame. The non food market is held Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 11h to 19h, and the food markets out on Tuedays, Fridays and Sundays mornings from 7h to 14h , and inside the halles on Tuesdays to Saturdays from 7h to 19h30 and Sundays from 7h to 14h. Plenty of underground parking too.

Bien sûr, of course, seeing the usual grandness of the place such as it’s magnificent castle that brings about memories of playing around the gardens even beyond the Grand Canal with my boys and having a lunch snack at Angelina in the Petit Trianon, after crossing the property by the Porte Saint Antoine lol! memories…. The great stables with the  petite ecurie of many arts renovations and work, and the Grande ecurie du roi with the great horse show of Bàrtabas and the carriage museum! The great silhouette of the castle with its Opera and Chapel sprouting out and the Grand Commun building on the left home of the servants of the castle since built in 1682-84.  Great work of renovation still going on and hope that it be done by 2017.

Could not afford not to see the Hôtel de Ville (old castle of the prince de Conti) where our civic duties were held for many years;a beautiful city/town hall indeed. And course, a sentimental walk to the Notre Dame district, could not manage to see our home so much many memories… right around the mythical wonderful Church of Notre Dame, the Royal one, as the baptisms and births of the prince of Versailles were done there, including that of  Philippe or Felipe , grandson of Louis XIV and himself king of Spain under Felipe V Bourbon dynasty that still rule in Spain today. He build the La Granja de San Ildelfonso a small replica of Versailles not far from Segovia.

The rue Hoche and the Place Hoche with a nice straight view to the castle or to the Church Notre Dame is marvelous as well as the great shopping street of rue de la Paroisse that passes by the Church.  Our home we just took a peek right around the Church into rue Sainte Geneviéve into the square behind the Church and into Rue Saint Lazare….

The signs of Christmas were in the decoration of the buildings and the great ice skating ring or Patinoire right outside the city hall or hotel de ville as in many other years. More on it here: http://www.versailles.fr/sortir/ce-jour/detail-de-ce-jour/actualites/patinoire-ecologique-1/

Of course, we ate, not willing to try the same like our all time favorite Le Boeuf à la Mode at the rue au pain in the place Notre Dames we try one we have in other areas of France and always past in front of it never try it so we did this unique time, the Buffalo Grill steakhouse chain with the American Indian motifs. Here the service by Teddy was excellent never needed to ask for anything, and the food was good with my burger bacon some typical French beer ,the 1664, and coffee expresso as well as many others combination for the rest of the family all for 23€ per person, about right for Versailles. more here: https://restaurant.buffalo-grill.fr/261587-buffalo-grill-versailles?

We did found a place to stay as we were headed for the mall shopping center and then the Christmas market in Paris the next day. We had rented from Appart-City aparthotels before and had an up and down experience, we tried them for the clincher and the verdict is never again. We complaint that the rooms had holes in the wall, the bathtub was detached from the wood, the chairs looks used and already the white of the foam seeing thru them, after all the reception was nice and we got the parking for free, and the TV , kitchen works. 89,90€ per night for 5 persons is not bad but we will prefer to pay higher next time for a better deal. The apart-city was in the Bois d’Arcy city limits very close to the limits of Versailles. Of course, the photos were sent to the property as well.  Another point, we use Booking.com as told they had great service, well first time and first out; we call their office all they said try to make a deal with the hotel that is all. We will continue with direct rentals and period.  https://www.appartcity.com/fr/appart-hotel/st-quentin-en-yvelines-bois-d-arcy-a-bois-darcy.html

The hotel rental was in no way diminish our beloved visit to Versailles as we had better properties and the curious search for new places and new rental sites we found ourselves with bad experiences.  You can do search on the front of my blog and look up Versailles for more on this wonderful town, mine forever.

The tourist office of Versailles here: http://www.versailles-tourisme.com/en/accueil.html

Tourist office of the department 78 Yvelines: http://tourisme.yvelines.fr/

And our city hall of Versailles page here: http://www.versailles.fr/

Cheers and Happy New Year 2017!

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December 25, 2016

Christmas at Pluvigner 2016!

And here we are Christmas 2016 the magical day is starting, we all home, the we are me my wife, my father and my 3 boys; we just wake up in France and after a nice breakfast, follow up with opening our wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree.

Some were surprises and others I could guest. My father gave me a bottle of Saint Emilion wine ok; and my sons plenty of clothing’s and a pair of shoes, my wife a funny sexy pajama lol!!! but a surprise.  Some of the photos to follow here.

This is the Christmas spirit we yearned so much and as in my previous post far away from family and close dear friends with only the pages of FB and Skype webcams left to share.  To be world globetrotter has its down points too …..

The town is quiet as all families are inside or visiting other family members, my street is deserted with the eerie feeling of a great event just happened the coming of our Lord.  With all the troubles in our World, it is good to keep the hope for a better one always a better one.

Of course, in Paris, there is always something bigger, and not to insist but Paris is not really France, it is a city state of its own. The big ice skating ring by the champs de Mars is on.  You have the huge illuminations by the avenue des Champs-Elysées, avenue Montaigne, Place Vendome, and in Montmartre and the by the Bercy Village amongst others.

We will be by there tomorrow and Tuesday visiting the markets of Champs-Elysées and St-Germain-des-Prés as well as visiting our beloved Versailles, our old home.

The festivities sites are here for Saint Germain des Prés: http://www.comite-saint-germain.com/illuminations-de-noel/

And the official Champs-Elysées site here: http://www.champselysees-paris.com/en/news-details/the-christmas-market-champs-elysees-2016/31

In our  Versailles, the palace is holding many events inside and you can see them better in French here :  http://www.chateauversailles-spectacles.fr/spectacles/2015/spectacles-au-chateau-de-versailles-notre-selection-pour-noel

And the city has the ice skating rink by the Hôtel de Ville or mayor’s office as in many past years and our favorite with my gang: http://www.versailles-tourisme.com/votre-sejour/agenda#!/patinoire-ecologique-1006081

On the agenda page above you can see all that is coming ahead in the city.  And this year the city of Rambouillet in our old dept 78 where Versailles is the capital, you have a Christmas market at the Place du Rondeau until yearend as well as an ice skating ring by the Place Félix Faure until Jan 2nd.

Enjoy the festivities of end of year 2016 and best wishes for 2017 to all my readers.

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December 24, 2016

Christmas at Vannes II, la Cervoiserie

Ok so needed to tell you the latest events on our Christmas preparation, this is big for our family every year. We have traveled long over the years thru different countries starting with my parents and then wife and boys; this is my fourth country and all citizens of them. Learned many languages sometimes I think too many, mix them up lol!!! But here we are again just before another Christmas Eve in 2016 in Pluvigner , Morbihan, Brittany, France.

It all started back in 1970 and it has never stop, Cuba, Spain, USA and France. Many regions and cities after we end up in the smallest with only 7000+  inhabitants. The time of the year becomes colder lonely, and sad sometimes away from family and close dear friends, with only my father with me and my sons and my wife.

The shows on TV are loving and make you think of times yesteryears, and love ones gone ,like my mother in 2007.

We get ready for another feast later on, the meal is cooking, the table is set up, and the drinks are in line. The social media, Skype is on,and the TV just about a press of a button to pass from one language to the other and see all the festivities afar. Just another regular Christmas. I saw the family and friends already in some reunions leading up to Christmas and nostalgia sets in, so many years of memories and yet so far.

But, believe me, Christmas is special for a lot more than the religious significance, but of times to feel stronger and united, as my grandfather used to said, the blood is thicker than water; bonds stay on no matter how far and how lonely life is beautiful and so is Brittany and France now.

I remember places on a world globe of special meaning to me each and every single one of them; Punta Brava, Madrid, Perth Amboy, Daytona Beach, Ormond by the Sea, North Miami, Hialeah, Miramar, Verneuil sur Seine, Versailles, Brech, and Pluvigner. Not to mention those nearby ,where I have worked such as Miami, Paris, Lagos, Curitiba, Geneva, Dreux, La Défense, Suresnes, and Vannes. I thanked them all for the good times and the good cheers.

Now, this afternoon, I cruise from visiting Rochefort-en-Terre, nice town in the Morbihan on the way home, stop for the apéro, aperitif, the drink before the meal so typical of France.

What better place than at the La Cervoiserie, a beer joint with samples from the world over. We had Belgian, German, Czech, French beers last night too and just today on way home. We are stock and ready, you are welcome to stop by ::)

http://www.lacervoiserie.com/les-maitres-cervoisiers/vannes/

So, therefore, Merry Christmas to all my readers, may the best comes your way in 2017, and believe in the magic it is magical. Cheers

Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes

 

December 24, 2016

Christmas 2016 at Rochefort-en-Terre

Another year gone by and another visit to the wonderful medieval quaint town of Rochefort-en-Terre in my Morbihan Breton. We were there this morning ahead of the night festivities as it is packed and now in addition this year name, the Favorite town of the French in a TV contest here in France. See the many other posts on the town in my blog just search in front page.

The tourist office is here: http://www.rochefortenterre-tourisme.bzh/ln/en/

Le Village préférés des français or the favorite town of the French on survey by TV station France 2 announce by Stéphane Bern is here in, French, see video: http://www.france2.fr/emissions/le-village-prefere-des-francais

The town at night is a time going back full of lights all over city center and chalets as well as stores and restos staying late to celebrate. Huge numbers of people comes here every year and we have been for the last several. This time we chose to come earlier quieter, and have time to prepare the meal for Christmas Eve tonite.

We go there by car along the N165 to the N166 to the N774 or going out we took first the N777 into the N775 and N166 N165;   direct into Rochefort en Terre both ways. We parked by the primary school Sylvain Pradeau 2,20€ for 24 hours of parking. And from here we walk all over town.

We went into the castle first, this is known as the American Artists place as Alfred Klots, American painter born in St Germain-en-Laye of a family from Baltimore MD USA purchased it in 1907 ,and created an artists colony that is now the museum NAIA. Now part of the city, it hosts several arts events and artists trainings. The original castle is from the 13C and with a base of stables from the 17C it has rooms done in the 20C .

The museum Naîa has a separate page here: http://www.naiamuseum.com/contact

There is a beautiful house just at the entrance to the castle selling souvenirs and produce from the area very nice. Next to it there is a wonderful artist gallery with great paintings and works of arts, worth a detour. More on the Les Ecuries de Sainte Hortense here: http://www.ecuries-sainte-hortense.fr/

Inside the Castle property you will also see a Chapel with a nice nativity scene set. You get back on the side street next to the main road, and see the beautiful Church Notre Dame de la Tronchaye  ,built between the 12C and 16C.  The facades are done in flamboyant gothic from 1553,and you can see two gates not far from its square tower still preserved these are the Porte Cadre and the Porte de l’Etang.

You have beautiful nativity sets , two in city center one by the Mary candles store or Bougie Marie, and another on the square Place de Puits afterward.  I got a glimpse picture of the tourist office here at place de Puits and then of the many medieval buildings around including our favorite resto Café Breton. Continuing to the end of town we arrived at the rue Saint Michel and later the Place Saint Michel with plenty of chalets and wooden houses.

You will be able to see the remnants of a laundry or Lavoir by the Porte de l’Etang. You can see at the other end of the city center, walking is great, the Chapelle Saint Michel , is right in the woods but visible from the parking.  It is in the old field of the Fairs and the current Place Saint Michel , dated from the 17C and renovated in the early 20C. Here used to be located the priory of the Grail of Notre Dame de Montjoie. After several years the Chapel is not visited but you can see inside thru the holes in the window.

We then headed back home for the Christmas Eve preparations not before stopping in Vannes for an apéro ::) a drink before the meals from aperitif or aperture to open up the appetite in you. Cheers and Merry Christmas!

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December 23, 2016

Christmas in Quimperlé and Pont Aven!

Well doing my rounds in lovely Brittany. The show of today was Quimperlé and later Pont Aven. I have written on these places outside of the Christmas season back in 2015 and 2014, respectively, and have other posts here in search. The visit was on Dec 21st but due to internet connection problems I am posting today, oh yes storms rains and all goes down here. temps in the 40’sF or 5-10C and gray rainy cold.

The towns of Quimperlé we like and been there on weekends but going during the weekday is another story, a bit down. No Christmas chalets or hardly decorations, and just walk around town for some pictures.

The tourist office is here: http://www.quimperle-terreoceane.com/en/

We drove of course only about 55  kms or about 35 miles from our house. All along the N165 to exit Quimperlé. We arrive at Place St Michel, parked for free and walk the beat.

We saw again the nice Church Notre Dame de l’Assomption right on the square , a nice nativity set was on ,yes.  The Church as begun in 1373, rebuilt in the 15C  in Flamboyant Gothic style.  It has the oldest sculpted  beams in Brittany dating from 1430! Then ,we walk by the Chapelle de Notre Dame des Sept Douleurs or Ursulines dating from the 17C  with a panoramic view of the city and now hosting cultural events in the city, and still imposing. And got to see the huge renovations going on at the Frémeur Hôpital and Chapelle de Saint Eutrope dating from the 14C.  The ground floor (1st) was the women floor, then upstairs the men, the attic was reserved for contagious patients , and a chapel on each floor.  The hospital is the last medieval one in the west of France, and was used until 1976. You can go down to the quays of the river Laîta or  the route of Saint James of Compostella. we did took a ride by the train station or gare, nice to know it is walking distance to all the above.

Having been here before, and not much Christmas activity going on, we had time to continue the journey into lovely Pont-Aven, the home of painters. This we did on the route D778.

The tourist office here is at : http://www.pontaven.com/L-Office-du-Tourisme

Once parked on a side street for free not far from the bridge or pont de Pont Aven, we came around to take another look at one of our favorite here the Chapelle de Trémalo, it is believe due to a dating on the door that the chapel was built around 1550. It was frequented by the artist painters who visited and lived in Pont Aven. The river Aven, has a unique toilet right hanging over the river, a quaint unusual place to visit while in town ::)  Right across the street you have the quaint romantic nice promenade Xavier Grall; a wonderful laberinth of trails along the river giving you an allure of old and just perfect for a family walk.

Nothing about Christmas chalet or motifs here but we finally saw the museum rebuilt. I have come here many years ago on the old property of Villa Julia (the museum de Pont Aven) and then it went into a long postponed prolonged period of renovation until finally open recently. We finally went inside the new one; a bit disappointed that it has been rebuilt in a contemporary modern look without any trace of its old turn of the century allure. Anyway, this is the place where the painters of the School of Pont Aven met, and the Nabis and the initial Americans and then the rest with its resident master Paul Gauguin.

The Villa Julia was for Julia Guillou who was a servants in the Hôtel des Voyageurs, after the death of the owner in 1871 she borrowed money from the residents  to buy the hotel.  She welcome all and had a good inside on the artists who visited the town, when she passed away in 1927 a huge crowd came in even from Paris.  The founders of the School of Pont Aven who to paint the beautiful country around and inside Pont Aven staying at this hotel since 1888 and at the nearby Pension Gloanec ; artists such as Paul Gauguin, Charles Filiger, Meijer de Haan, Claude-Emile Schuffeneker, Armand Seguin, and Wladyslaw Slewinski. 

The Americans came here first by 1850 and then the British, Australians, Scandinavians, Irish, and Dutch followed.

After 1888 the artists came in to be known as Nabis, such as Sérusier, Roussel, Vuillard, Lacombe and Filiger under the advice of Paul Gauguin, did painted here a lot.  All of this is shown in the museum with films, drawings and paintings from the artists. There is a temporary collection in the upper floor that the room itself is very nice. The plain Julia room is richly decorated in wood carving of the times. The museum is worth a detour for the art lover in all of us.

More on the museum here: http://www.museepontaven.fr/en/

And short of Christmas chalet we came home for the warm cozy of our house and some goodies to eat and drink. Stay tune the best is yet to come. Merry Christmas to all.

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December 20, 2016

Christmas in Josselin and Loudéac!

Well, here I am in my tours of the towns nearby and with a  Christmas motif. Today was another gray, cold, foggy day with temps in the 5C or 41F thereabouts.  We first set out to get some plant medicine or homeopath at the town of Baud in Santé Nature, part of the La Vie Claire chain; very good folks and plenty of healthy good stuff there from plants to bio foods. It is right on the road D768 just not far from the town’s Church.  More here for general curiosity: http://www.lavieclaire.com/magasin-bio/baud.html

We have been to Josselin before three posts that  I can see last one in Sept 2016 and going back to 2012, we had time so we ,also,visited Loudéac ,last written in 2012! So we decided to give it another shot in our Christmas trail in the region.

Josselin is in the Morbihan dept 56 and Loudéac in the Côte d’Armor dept 22 of Brittany. The tourist office of Josselin in English is here: http://www.josselin-tourisme.com/en  ; loudéac less touristic is here http://www.centrebretagne.com/office-de-tourisme.html

As the site says, Josselin  has a thousand years of history and home of the noble family of the Rohan.  It is just about 45 kms from my house and easy to get there on the road D768.

We headed for Josselin, and found easy parking at the Place d’Alzey right by the hotel de ville or mayor’s office and behind the great Basilica. We were surprise of the lack of ambiance and very few visitors, and no Christmas events. For a city that claims 1000 years of history, not having a Marché de Noêl is sad ,even if they are not really popular in the west of France.

We did visited the usual wonderful buildings of the city such as the Basilica Notre Dame du Roncier, and the Castle of the Rohan, as well as the Chapelle de la Congrégation as it is more popular known today.  The Basilica is a must , a place of pilgrimage since 808AD with the pardon day of September 8th a major religious event. More in French at the city page here: http://www.josselin.com/vivre/culture-sport-patrimoine/josselin-et-son-patrimoine/

As you walked the wooden house laden streets of rue des Vierges, rue des Trente, Place Alain de Rohan, and Place Notre Dame you see beautiful architecture. The Rohan castle is a major one in the history of Brittany, The castle history begins in 1008AD, and you can read more in English here: http://www.chateaudejosselin.com/en/

The view of the castle from the river Oust  part of the Canal Nantes to Brest is sublime romantic and just plain beautiful.  More on the canal here: http://www.josselin-tourisme.com/en/discover/nantes-brest-canal

There is ,also, a Dolls museum inside created by the family Rohan themselves: more of it in the castle page here: http://www.chateaudejosselin.com/en/the-doll-museum

We did had time of course to eat and shop here always lovely. We re visit the Le Guethenoc restaurant ,11 Place Notre Dame, just facing the side of the Basilica Notre Dame du Roncier. It is our central place for eating here, and we had  pizza guethenoc, omelette jambon fromage, tagliatelles bolognaise, hamburger Rital ,omelette italienne, drinks for leffe beers of Christmas and expresso coffees all for 15,45€ per person, nice period decoration in a wooden house, very good nice service, and good local food. More here: http://www.restaurant-guethenoc.fr/

We, also, did some shopping as usual across from the restaurant and in front of the Basilica at the Le Feu d’Or souvenir store. Loaded with Breton motifs in celtic décor and this time my sons went for the rings with Celtic dragons motifs. 20€ silver. You will find almost…everything here to take home too. http://www.lefeudor.com/

As we finished too early to get back home, I decided to show my family one of my business haunts in Brittany, and we headed for Loudéac, along the D778, this is Gallo language territory not Breton.

Here we visited the nice Church of Saint Nicolas, and the Chapelle Notre Dame des Vertus.

Saint Nicolas goes back to 1748 and of Italian classic style, inside you see more of the renaissance style and you have statues in carrara marble of Saint Maurice de Carnoêt who lived in the city and Saint Nicolas dating from 1776. The belltower was done in 1741 with stones from the Castle de la Tréze. During the French revolution, the Church was turned into a military post and storage of goods. It was in the 19C-20C that it was restored as we see today.  On the above link of tourism in Loudéac you have less in French: http://www.centrebretagne.com/office-de-tourisme/decouvrir/patrimoine/un-chapelet-dedifices-religieux/eglise-st-nicolas-a-loudeac.html

The Chapelle Notre Dame des Vertus is not far in city center.  At the place there was a religious building dating from 1693 that was demolished due to bad conditions. In 1740, the cementary was done around the Chapel and finally closed out in 1804.  A new chapel is built in 1880 and open to the public in 1885. Many Sisters orders came here over the years, and a procession of the Virgin until 1954. It is a simple chapel full of calm and history. Other than the description on a plaque that I translated above not much is found now of it.

The main rue de Tréze is a nice artery with plenty of shops and restos, as well as a rather nice Hôtel de Ville or city/town hall with a bell on top. This is Loudéac, my business trips took me here and stayed at the very nice Hôtel des Voyageurs ,part of the local Brit chain of very good local classic hotels. This one is recommended and the restaurant is nice too as well as underground parking! It gives you a good central location to see inland Brittany very nicely; more here: http://www.hoteldesvoyageurs.fr/

And we came home zipping along the D700 then the D768 ,and now homey and comfy with goodies to eat and drink and thinking where to go next lol! Enjoy it, and Merry Christmas to all celebrating it. Cheers

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