Archive for February, 2017

February 27, 2017

Some news from Spain, XXXVII

Ok this is it, heavy rain, strong winds, the Breton coast is reaming with the weather yet temps remain moderate at around 10C or 50F. Getting ready for my trip to Spain and Portugal tomorrow so a good way to finish the week with some updates on things of my Spain.

Sara Baras (Cádiz, 1972) is presenting finally the show “Voces en Madrid”. Together with partner and artist José Serrano, musicians and dancers will be at the Teatro Nuevo Apolo to give honor to the masters of flamenco such as Paco de Lucía, Camarón de la Isla, Antonio Gades, Enrique Morente, Carmen Amaya, and Moraíto. They will be present with their words and artistic heritage. The Teatro Nuevo Apolo is at Plaza Tirso de Molina, 1. Show going on now. Until March 30th, more here: .

The III Salón de los Vinos Radicales a symbol of the effort and labor of small winegrowers that stay loyal to their original varieties with soil and climate will have 34 Bodegas participating of which 16 will be for the first time, Guardians of the small and essential nothing of the big groups or extensive vineyards or boutique wines these are the radical wines straight from the land to you.. It will be held on March 6 at the COAM, or Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Madrid, Calle Hortaleza 63, More here:

A great movement in the 1950’s comes back to Madrid north, a open air cinema Autocine Madrid RACE with 300 places for parking and a screen of 250 meters! The place is located in the Chamartin area, C./Isla de Java,2 and has a capacity of 1500 persons. There will be different movies shown as well as shows, operas, new films as well as classics. The sound will be done through your FM radio and will have as well an authentic American diner with terrace and several food trucks. The Autocine will be open all day of the year and hours will vary according to the activity and the sunshine hours. To facilitate the entry of all autos those with campig cars, or large vehicles will need to park at the end and on lateral spaces ;inside you can only drive at 20 KPH,and the place will be open even if it rains .Admission will be children 4,50€ and Adults 8€ euros (weekends), and 7€ Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. More here:

And for the many Carnavals going in this time of the year in Spain ,here are some family favorites in Madrid:

Maty, Maestro Victoria, 2 metro Sol Tel. +34 91 531 32 91 ,Calle Hileras, 7 metro Ópera Tel +34 91 541 20 16 ,more here  It started in 1943 for flamenco articles, ballet and dance now it is one of the biggest stores in Madrid for all costumes for all events . It has more than 1.200 m2 in two floors.

Fiestas Paco, Calle Toledo, 52 metro La Latina Tel +34 91 354 06 70; more here:  The store was founded in the 1930’s as Caramelos Paco as a big Candy distributors. Due a great success they added costumes and the Fiestas Paco came to be . You can find here all inspired from the 1920’s for all adults and children.

Chindasvinto, Calle Clara del Rey, 59 metro Alfonso XIII Tel +34 91 416 78 86 ;more here:   A small toy store in the neighborhood of Prosperidad that since 1967 has remaind open. They have costumes for all year occassioins from the economical to the classics for young and old/ Also, wigs ! from famous artists.

Party Fiesta shopping center C.C. La Vaguada (Avda. Monforte de Lemos, 36), metro Herrera Oria Peñagrande Tel +34 91 730 97 75; more here :  This one has as well all costumes in every detail and they have 75 stores all over Madrid with all types of accessories.

Carnaval de Las Palmas, here they come until March 5, the best in several locations in the hot Islas Canarias; and just watching TVE tv of Spain and getting ready to see it at 22h30!! see the Gala de la Reina (Queen gala) , Carnaval al sol (Carnaval of the Sun), the Children contests on costumes and the two nights of Carnaval. More here:

You need a car but if you go to the limits of the provinces of Alava and Burgos you will find the Salto del Nervion, a waterfall, biggest in the Iberian peninsula (Portugal and Spain) with 222 meters high. You can only see the fall in a few months out of the year mainly in January and May. This is the period of the ice melting or rains in the area the park Monumento Natural del Monte Santiago, located in the western part of the Sierra Salvada and the town of Las Merindades. The best site to see the falls is at the Mirador del Nervion or lookout spot, where the park folks make it easier to see it.

To reach it is easy and can be done by several routes. The one I know is from the town of Berberena,Burgos , but,also from Orduna, in the north. Once inside the park you choose the parking to leave your car and walk :J

There is plenty of signalisation and you can even walk with kids or bikes or baby strolls cars/More here:

Ok so my photos are not that good, me and my small Samsung digital. However, Antonello Dellanotte, has excellent photos of his adventures and has created a page for them call Retiro Experience. Why ,I am putting this here, because the Retiro is where I used to lived close in Madrid ,and it is sublime. Here, he compiles hours of investigation from archives and libraries as well as anécdotes on the park. Most of the data base comes from the city of Madrid ,and the library or Biblioteca Nacional; or Works like ‘Historia del Buen Retiro’, from Rosario Mariblanca, and the Casón del Buen Retiro (Prado). You can see his collection and buy them on site . more here:

Some numbers crunchers ,like in my job but this is better lol! The lidia bulls have increase in Extremadura to 32.101 in 2016, almost a thousand more tan last year and the biggest number in five years ,even with the crisis in the business; this is as per the last census done by the Ministerio de Agricultura y Pesca, Alimentacion y Medio Ambiente (Mapama) , Andalucía (250) and Castilla y León (178), Extremadura,108, are the region with most farms of brave races. From the 32 101 heads in Extremadura, 19.697 are females and 672 males data gathered by agency Efe. More on agriculture in Spanish from the Mapama site here:

The director of the Museo Nacional y Centro de investigacion Altamira, Pilar Fatàs has mentioned that it cannot guarantee the limited opening of the original cave of Altamira with admission of 250 persons per year for too long. Any decisión will come from the technical reports of the Plan de Conservación Preventiva. The Director has recognize that in France they offered more protection for these types of monuments having developed art centers and investigations of great proportions that allow people to see reproductions to protect the original. It has to put up with conditions to protect the extremely fragile condition of the Paleolithic art in the cave with multiple paintings such as the sala de los polychromes  and its bison (hall of bison polychromes) discovered in 1868. They have already modified the internal structure of the cave and built artificial walls to hold up the ceiling of the room as well as filling with cement the deeper opening on the walls; this change irreversible and radically the natural dynamic of the cave. The cave had 250 visitors and the museum 285.000 in 2016 or 8% more than last year. According to the director Fatás,the archeological museum is the most visited in Spain and Europe just behind the Museo Nacional de Arqueología. Also, in 2016, there conducted 7000 guided visits as well ,and welcome four expositions, organized more than 1.000 activities with a participation of 170.000 persons. More here:

And to finish with a historical footnote I like. The story of explorer Hernando de Soto. Or Spain in the USA. Hernando de Soto abandoned everything and gave his fortune obtained from the conquest of Peru on orders of Pizarro in exchange for a royal license to discovered and populate new territories. Following swamps, rivers, forests, with alligators snakes and deadly insects to what before was a rich young men , well married in Sevilla with an aristocratic young women, Isable de Bobadilla, and his future secured. The royal license came with a title of  Capitán General y Adelantado de La Florida or Captain General and noble of FLorida. In 1538, he set sail with about 1000 men to explore new lands and lands in Tampa, Florida. He quickly come into indians Warriors attacks ; during months he explore and has only one friendly encounter with the princess Cofitachequi (Sp) that offered him pearls from the river. The indian chief Tascalusa (Tuscaloosa) invite him for a few words with good deeds to his village of Mauvila, enclosed town and once the Spanish come inside they are attacked by the Indians. This is a feroce combat that last for 9 hours of which De Soto fights standing as already wounded in the backside that dont allow him to ge ton the horse; this was the biggest battle in the history of Spain in the new territories with several dead on both sides and only to be cure from the carcass of the dead.

Exhausted and hungry, demoralize they received news of ships arriving from Cuba to picked them up. Hernando de Soto is not a soldier but a noble of the Crown of Spain and refuse to believe in the black leyend , the real misión is not to find gold but to follow the will of, seeds, cattle, luggage etc. They have already travel and obey the  queen Isabel la Católica, to follow it and to convert the locals into the Catholic faith. They decided to continue to find other towns and territories. They arrive to the Mississippi river in 3 years of pilgrimage and they go down to Mexico coming back with familiesStates of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Illinois, Carolinas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas. Destiny did not allow that the future USA was an extension of Hispanic America. Only an insignificant mosquito stops him from following up the dream. He died on May 21, 1542, in Ferriday, Louisiana Remember him, from Extremadura, Spain, Hernando de Soto. Bit more here:

Enjoy your week and read you soon, cheers.

ps. Going to rainy parts of Northern Portugal and Galicia where the weather has not been good either.

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February 26, 2017

Honfleur ,Normandy.

I do not need to say more of this quaint little town. Just that is was my summer trips with my parents here,and my mother love it. She passed away 9 yrs ago ,and this month it was here birthdate on the 13. So I look at my posts as even when go here not in the mood to take pictures.

I did one a while ago (2011)  here:

And then for the Fête des Marins (2013)  here :

With a seafaring tradition and one of the best equipped SNSM lifesavers volunteers in the French coasts (I am a supporter) , this is a must for any visitor. Besides, been the most visited already in Normandy behind MSM.

Honfleur is magical and my mom rest at sea here, with the braves and those who decided to laid there, the boat Notre Dame du port of the SNSM took her out. And  we come often. See it here:

Two events you should not missed if any in coming here is the Passionnement Jardin or passion about gardens. April 29-30 2017. All about gardens and with expert advise on site, just bring your plans and they will tell you . In addition to flowers, plants, trees on display and ready for purchase, right by the public garden overlooking the bay entrance to the city. More here :

The other is a must for us ,and we all love it. The story of fisherman and marine people in this town goes way back ,and the La Fête des Marins will be held this year in June 3,4,5, 2017, along the bay coming into the canal to town, and you can see all along the wall of the canal on the before mentioned public park.  They carried the Virgin on shoulder and put it in a boat to go out at sea for the blessing. The Sunday is the Benediction at sea and honor to those perish at sea as well as the blessing of the boats . Then, we all climb the pilgrimage up the Côte de Grâce until the little chapel of Notre Dame de Grâce, where a great open air Mass is held. This festivity has been done since 1861 ! more on the Normandy tourist site here:

And keep an eye on the Honfleur tourist office too here:

Read my previous posts above, it has plenty of info and photos ;so much to enjoy here at Honfleur, artists, shops, restos all around the basin de l’est  in the harbor. If by car  parked over the canal in the entrance to the town for like a 4 euros. Up the road by the butterflies museum ,Naturospace, you can park for free but the walk is more.

Enjoy Honfleur, Normandy!


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February 22, 2017

Some news from Spain XXXVI

That time again to tell you what is going on in lovely Spain. Around me the weather is damp humid light rain about 10C or 50F; down in the great Madrid there is now 63F , tomorrow more of the same about 65F expected to a low of 42F, cloudy sun in and out, no rain.

Something from Spain:

The Mudéjar style is evident in Teruel , a town we passed by many times and have visited couple times over the years, we will be by it again this coming summer. To see it you must come to the Catedral de Santa María de Mediavilla; the tower or Torre and Church or Iglesia de San Pedro or in the towers of the Churches of San Salvador, and San Martín.  The most famous monument of them all is the mausoleum done for the the lovers of Teruel.  There is a long legend that tells the story of the lovers of Teruel. It goes that Juan Martínez de Marcilla  and Isabel de Segura were in loved in 1217,however ,the family of the lady did not allow the relationship because the future husband (name as Diego in some texts) did not have enough money to provide a good life for the girl.  To gather fortune the young men left far from Teruel while the bride to be waited.  Destiny had that the father of the lady married her to a rich men in town. Juan returned to Teruel and found the lady with another men, and he ask her to kiss him before he died. Isabel for not failing fidelity to the new husband refused , as this Juan died on her footsteps. The other men and the lady took Juan to the house of the father so no one could tell she killed him, however ,the pain that Isabel had was so great that she decided to kiss Juan before they buried him.  Like this , the lady attended the Church of San Pedro where the body of Juan laid, and kiss him ,quickly she died next to him.  It was here in this Church that the bodies of both Juan and Isabel laid while discovered in 1555 until 2005. It is now about 12 years the bodies lied in the monument done in their love story.  The work that keeps the corps are in an impressive building mausoleum done in marble plaster showing the hands of the lovers without touching  a symbol of the impossible relationship that never took place. The representation of Juan is shown with the feet covered as per the legend they were already shrouded when he received the kiss from Isabel. More here:

Do not just end your visit here, continue into the plaza del Torico, name in honor of a small bull that crown the column in stone.  The legend of this bull is that it was the bull guided by a star led the troops that disobeyed king  Alfonso II  in the 12C until they were able to conquer the fortress of Teruel. More on the mudéjar style here:

If you like wines ,then Spain is for you. One of the best and my favorite is the Compañia Vinîcola del Norte de España or CVNE; located in Haro. Here it rises on a space created by the one Gustave Eiffel (yes of the Paris tower). The space is wide open without columns! where the barrels lied without obstacles. Once you visit at the end you can taste their wines. More here:

Talking about Spanish wines, here are some stats. Spain has the largest vineyards extension in the world with 1,012 million hectares (OIV 2016). With a population of 46,06 millions in 2016. In 2015 the wine consumption was 1000 million liters or 21,7 liters per person and 4,16% of World. (OIV 2016). It is the 8th world market for the consumption of wine in 2015 even if the younger generation tends to go for the beer and strong alcohols. The Reds are the predominant ones with 52% of wine consume in 2015 with fruity or woody tones the preferred of the Spaniards. The domestic production is 3,270 million liters in 2015 and the 3rd World producer, even if exportation numbers are weak. The exports represent 71,7 millions liters in 2015 with a value of 193,4 million Euros. It remains the first world exporter of wine in volume with 2,400 million liters in 2015 exported as well as the 3rd in value with revenues of 2,64 millions Euros. France remains the first provider of wine to Spain in value with 49,1% of the market and the 4th in volume with 3,29 million liters of French wine for a value of  13,58 million Euros or  8,4% (Comtrade, 2016).

The Romanov of Russia started governing about 404 years ago.  The absolute power of the dynasty (1613-1917)  coincided with the period of mayor expansion in Russia. Málaga  welcome 247 works of art from a hundred artists from the collection of the Russian museum of St Petersburg. The best works and will be showcase until January 2018 with full of images of tsars , farmers, bandits of the Volga as shown in the work of  Sarin na kicku! (‘battle cry’) of Sergey Ivanov. The work exhibit has jewels such as the portrait of tsar Nicolas II, the last tsar by Ilia Repin and other secret works such as those of  ‘head of the princess Tarakánova’,by Flavitski (1864), where the white light entered the eye of the princess. There are portraits of big sizes such as the ” Corpse’ by Ivan Miloslavsky of 2,25 cm high and 5,60 cm wide. The Russian museum also has the work of the funerary main cask in bronze of  Peter the Great from 1725. More here:

Also , in Malaga you will have at the same time the temporary exhibition of  ‘Kandinsky y Rusia’ ( until next July.  He believed in the internalization of the works that shows some like ‘Improvisation number 11’ (1910); ‘Black spot I’ (1912); ‘ portrait with white edge’ (1913); ‘Four with points’ (1919) and  ‘In White I’. More here:

Slippery, faker, seductor, bon vivant, bohemian, and scrounger these are some of the adjectives of the life of drama and comedy of  José Zorrilla(1817-1893), the last romantic that is celebrating 200 years of his birth in Valladolid, on February 21 1817. He was born in the old house of the Marquis de Revilla, located in the street calle Ceniza  and rented by his father that arrived in 1816 to Valladolid to filled the post of reporter of the Royal Counselee .  In this house converted into the museum in 2007 on a Romanticism and the poet, exposition hall, conference center, plays and permanent home of the book fairs or  Feria del Libro de Valladolid .  His work like “El puñal del godo” and “Traidor, inconfeso y mártir”), A buen juez, mejor testigo’, and  ‘Margarita la tornera’, the inmortal ‘Don Juan Tenorio’ (1844), from which could not get author’s royalties as he sold it to his editor, and  ‘Recuerdos del tiempo viejo’ (1880), a autobiography.  This romantic men had two marriages and two daughters that never made it out of early age; he wrote to the limit of poverty and live on a day to day basis even if he gave the most important work of the Spanish Theater (Don Juan Tenorio). He ,indeed was recognized in life and his funeral was a mass manifestation of his fame; all the contrary to what happened to  Cervantes, another tenant of Valladolid, that in his life was not given any honors and made no money. More here:

By the end of January in Budapest there is 10 degrees below zero, the snow covers the city and the river Danube is an ice bed. In the museum of fine arts or Beaux-arts in the city closed for renovation since February 2015, 90 of the best works of the artistic heritage of the country are been translated to Spain. The exhibition is name Masterwork from Budapest, and will be shown to the public from now to May 28 in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza of Madrid. Amongst the 90 art work you will see the schools Italian, Flemish, German, French, such as Rubens, Van Dyck, Gossaert, Giaquinto, Carracci, Tiepolo, Guardi, Canaletto, Ricci, Manet, Kokoschka, Cézanne, Monet, Gauguin, and Pissarro,  also, Hungarian artists. Some of the chosen ones to come to Madrid are a Velázquez -‘El almuerzo’-, a Zurbarán -‘La Inmaculada Concepción’, a Murillo -‘La Virgen con el Niño repartiendo pan a los sacerdotes’, an Alonso Cano ‘Noli me tangere’, a Mateo Cerezo -‘Ecce Homo’, and 3  Goyas: ‘Retrato de Manuela Camas y de las Heras’, ‘La aguadora’, and ‘El afilador’. The Hungarian jewels will be grouped into 7 sections  from the renaissance with a painting credited to  Leonardo, the baroque in Flanders and the Netherlands with the greats Rubens and van Dyck,  the baroque of Spain and Italy including Velázquez, the 18C with the 3 Goyas, and a monographic room with the changes in visage of women with work by  Manet or Kokoschka. The modern period to WWI close out this exhibition with works of Pissarro or Bortnyik. The collection of Spanish art of the fine arts museum of Budapest includes about 110 work of art being one of the best in the world. How it happened?  In 1818 the Hungarian duke Nicolás Esterházy, an avid collectionist, buys from the count Edmund Bourke in London 22 works of Spanish masters and upon his death 24 years later other 24 in addition to the widow of the Count. Upon the passing of duke Nicolás, his grandson  Miklós  transferred the collection that continues to grow from Vienna to Pest in 1865. Pressure by his debts he sold it to the Hungarian government in 1870 for a price less than its value present value would be around  165 millions Euros for a total of 637 works. A good business for Hungary that continue to expand its collection over the years of Spanish master paintings. More here:

Well Olive Oil is Spain, anything else is an imitation ! and they do bottled it with other countries lot as well in Europe ::) No one really knows how it became but the plant goes back to the Neolithic period (7000-3000 a.C.).  In Spain, there is nothing like the paysage of the olive tree, the Oliviers of Spain owe as much to the Romans as to the Arabs;if the arrival of Scipio and his legions to the Spanish lands gave the plant its biggest push for expansion, it was during the Arabs period the cultivation was really expanded and its explotation arrive for use in the kitchens. Some of the icons of the genre are: Dominus, Sierra Magina, Jaen; Marque de Valdueza, Mérida, Badajoz; Abbae de Queiles, Tudela, Navarra ; Cladium ,Cordoba ; Casas de Hualdo , Toledo; Aubocassa, Mallorca; Castillo Pereleda, Girona, Emporda; La Cuisine Organic Malaga ,Ronda; Marques de Grinon, Capilla del Fraile, Toledo ;Dominus acebuche,Jaen. The consortium of olive oil webpage is here:

And what about that ham huh!!! You just need to open the doors of Cinco Jotas, a building with 130 years of history; open for the first time to the public. You will see one of the icons of the Spanish cuisine, the race ham iberic or jamon de raza ibérica, raise in free forest land fed with acorns. Cinco Jotas is in Jabugo in the heart of the Parque Natural Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche (Unesco biosphere preserve). The rounds begins at the old dry patio of this emblematic building done in 1879 even if not a bodega until 1910. Here in an enclosed patio where in the bygone era the hams were hang for 6 months until the bring down of the hams, a feast was done for all the town of Jabugo to celebrate the effort and dedication of the ham tenders. A great gourmet event takes place in the main founder’s bodega for all visitors to marvel. Here thousands of hams awaits five years to reach the perfect point of cure in perfect ambiance conditions and controlled humidity to the millimeter. The visit ends with an interactive game that will put you to test your attention during the visit and a tasting from the hands of the master curator. You can, add a visit to the forest to understand the entire cycle , raising of the pigs 100% Iberian ,natural growth, and the mountain time for fattened them. The building is call the  Centro de Promoción e Innovación del Cerdo Ibérico (CIPI), an architecture marvel of stone and brick and nickname the Tiro al Pichón (clay pigeon shooting) for its feability of its construction and to show the route of jabugo with conferences and activities. Guided visits from 15€ for 75 minutes or 60€ bodega and forest trip.  Also, a good restaurant in the building. Reservations by tel +34 603 599 061 or more info here:

You can do good to go to the town of Linares de la Sierra,and eat at the restaurant restaurante Arrieros, with a  menu on Iberian pig of acorns and its derivatives, the mushroom of the  Sierra de Aracena , and the vegetables from its garden.  More info and reservation here :

Enjoy Spain, everything under the Sun ::)







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February 20, 2017

Some news from France CXLXIII

Ok so the saga continues early in the week, cool humid foggy in the 10’sC 50’s F and no sun yet but no rain either. Not bad after all, the week started ok doing my planning for business travels to come.

First, let me tell you about the wonderful world of Auguste RODIN. Shortly after his heart fell after the separation from Camille Claudel, Rodin go to lived in the Villa des Brillants in 1893 with the idea of leaving from it all. He died in the summit of his glory in 1917. His 100 years are celebrated with appearing in the coins of 2€ from the Monnaie de Paris soon in circulation, to the film interpreted by Vincent Lindon that will have his biopic expected out in May. His collection is now in the Hôtel Biron at Paris 7éme where most of his works is held or at Meudon (Hauts de Seine dept 92)his last home. In this modest house of red bricks sitting on a hill facing Mont Valérien where today it is very calm.

In the interior, modest furniture, the table on pylon, a small bed in upper level, all over antiques, his passion with over 6000 of them. There is his major work of “Amis de la dernière heure “.  His atelier shop , main room big and lighted with a renaissance bed in the middle. Rodin, full of work had built the pavillon de l’Alma, where he shows his work in the garden in 1900. The current museum conserve the spirit of his atelier shop, here several works in plasters.  Of which many had a splashing revue and even scandals such as the ” L’Âge d’airain”, in 1877. Rodin was accused of making the model from a men. Several years later he did the famous thinker or “Le Penseur” that was treated as a gorilla by his contemporaries; also the ” Balzac” ,and ” pingouin”.  Several years before his death he wrote : The real artist always express what he think at the risk of shoving all the  establish prejudice or ” Le véritable artiste exprime toujours ce qu’il pense au risque de bousculer tous les préjugés établis “.

Musée Rodin Meudon, 19, avenue Auguste-Rodin, à Meudon (92). Open Fridays to Sundays 13h to 18h. admission 5€ More at  and the 100 years anniversary info here:

In this exceptional scenario where there is an amphitheater like no other in Paris, this is Theâtre 13 at the  103A boulevard Blanqui . The theater has two displays that of « Jardin »  and « Seine ». The garden was closed for 2 years of renovations. It will open now to the public with two days of guided visits , spectacles and concerts all free. More here

The new movement now is to upgrade the WIFI in the Paris metro and trains to 4G . The line 1 of metro to the gare de Lyon. Also, the line 5 at Bastille, and the line 6 at  Charles-de-Gaulle Etoile. In all five stations of the line 1 and four of the RER A. The idea started in  2013 to do the coverage of 3G and 4G  in the 320 stations of the metro and RER A,B  to be done by 2016.  However, this was not achieved and extended goal to do by end of 2017. The work is difficult as underground created in the last century there are already  3 000 antennas to link 300 kms  of cables and fiber optics.  It will enough to send your telephone into WIFI mode ,connect to the network « RATP gratuit » , and accepted the user conditions.  The access is free and easy , connection is pretty good but limited to 20 minutes. In the metro , the stations are gare de Lyon (Quai métro L1 direction La Défense), gare du Nord (Zone d’échange line 4 – SNCF / Line 4 at the counter machines level), Charle-de-Gaulle Etoile (Salle d’échange sortie/exit Carnot), Saint-Lazare (Salle d’échanges), porte Maillot (at the level of counters), Chaussée d’Antin (at the level of counters) ,and  Gallieni (Zone accès Eurolines). In the RER at the la Défense (Salle d’échange, Quai RER A Direction Paris, Mezzanine (1), Mezzanine (2)), Auber (Salle d’échange), Cité U (at the counters level) ,also, at Marne-la-Vallée Chessy (at the counters level). More info here in French for more :

At the rénovation of the stairs to the Grande Arche de La Défense, the escalator is been renovated for quite a while now slow due to high winds. It should be done by April 1st 2017 in the presence of the President of the French Republic (France). It will ,then, be open to the public every day; the panoramic elevators/lifts will allow you to climb to the top of the Arch where it will be a restaurant, exposition space, auditorium, and exterior promenade to see Paris at 360°.  More in French here:

The Great Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), a legend amongst the greats of the painting, his imaginary milklady painted as a real queen with a sort of Virgin Mary immortalised in the daily work and exposed at the Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam.  Exceptionally, it will be exposed since February 22nd to May 22nd at the Louvre in the company of 11 other works by the artist master of Delft.  The French museum is  organising  an exposition of 70 paintings on what they call the people’s scene or the daily scènes of life. The 17C was the golden century of Dutch art and it is believe that 5 million paintings were done in 100 years. Vermeer did not invented the genre, but he created a style that surpasses all the others.  There are 36 works of Vermeer that are known, and a third of it will be reunited here . All next to the « La Laitière » , you will see the « La Dentellière » , a lady of high society in a work of art. Exposition : « Vermeer et les maîtres de la peinture de genre ». Paris, musée du Louvre, hall Napoléon. More here:

Do you know the kig ha farz ?  this is a tradition of the Finistère region of Brittany, it means literally « beef and stuffing or the equivalent of the pot-au-feu. It is made of vegetables  (cauliflower, carrots, onions, beans, and leek) , and meat of beef and pork ; the cooking is adaptable to the left overs, all cook in a bowl to boiled.  The stuffing it is prepare by putting a sort of pancake barter  with black wheat or  barley in a bag closed by a string that goes into the boil dish for about an hour.  Later, we cut it in slices to serve with the vegetables and meat . You should come here first but if not, in Paris go to Chez Michel near the gare du Nord at  10 rue de Belzunce, 10éme. Tél. +33(0) 1 44 53 06 20. Will cost about 35-50 euros for an entrée-plat or plat-dessert with a glass of wine.  More in my favorite resto link in France that is in the bottom of my page in blogroll, here :

What it is with the soaps vs shower gels? The square soaps are making a comeback! All led by the simple cosmetic firms and the boutiques . One exceptional is the savon de Marseille .  They have come up with processes that cook in cauldrons and cold pressing allow to produce soaps with less grease and richer in vegetable glycerin with characteristics of detergent wash soap, hydration,  and grease . These are like the brand Gaiia. Also, those of  Enfance Paris ,and the Brazilian brand Granado, now commercialize in France by the department store Le Bon Marché since 2012, with delicate perfums of chesnuts of Brazil, witch hazel,  iris, and orange flower and its packaging retro.  The luxury sector has embrace this resurgence in the soap, such as Hermés now has a line of them with iconic motifs of the house; Chanel has them too.
Find them here:

The Basilique de Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis dept 93) necropolis of the kings of France from Dagobert to Louis XVIII, prototype of the Cathedrals of Notre Dame de Paris will see its tower arrow of 85 meters again.  It was raised between 1190-1230 and in disrepair from 1846 due to violent storm that befell 12 bells in the region, and needed to take it down in 1847. The ok to built is ok with conditions on the financing, this will happened soon so stay tune. In the meantime ,there is the webpage :

Now what about that word “Château” that is define an AOP region in wine country of France. It should not be confuse with the word Château….. the viticole designation was created for good by article 7 of the decree law of May 4 2012. It simply states the word Château is designated to those wine regions of AOP designation that are issue from grapes harvest on plot of land that are use for wine production as well as making it.  This is well known in the area of Bordeaux from the 19C and extended to the SouthWest, Languedoc-Roussillon,Provence, and Rhône regions. In the south, there is ,also a château in Champagne, the Château de Boursault. In Burgundy  there are some but rare as the majority of plots here are too small and owners with different plots in different areas . The first time the term was seen was from a decree of August 19 1921  given life to an existing wine exploitation and to provide a cultural meaning as said in a bottle.  Therefore, when the bottle says “bottled in the Château”  is about a businessmen or négociant that purchased the wine already produce to have bottled himself under the commercial name of his choice, cannot use the word Château ; unless as often happenned in the Bordeaux region  that this négociant is also the owner of the vineyard.  SO he is under the term proprietor and not négociant .  Another distinction is not to have the name Château if the wine comes from a non AOC area such as a table wine level.

After all these, how can our American friends taken a tradition of a century and a half could take this name to use in their vineyards areas. when there is already a English term for it such as “Estate”, unless only for economic intentions ,they pull the cork too far ::) France , UNESCO World Heritage immaterial for gastronomy and wine.  Cheers

Have a great week everyone !


February 19, 2017

My travels in the Morbihan XXIX

And finally Sunday, quiet on the city and mild temperatures in the 50’sF 10-12C bit cloudy sun wants to but can’t; and leisure time awaiting some football/soccer games.

I was out yesterday, our working horse day with the family as more travel abroad looms and our summer house in Spain is booked. We have so much nearby it will take more than a blog to tell you, and we are quasi middle distance from it all. Just found out maybe have visitor friends from the USA coming in July! just to check out my area I know, they will be surprise as usually won’t venture out of Paris and the south of France.

The last time I see wrote about the area of Lorient and Guidel was back in 2016, for Lorient alone was back in 2013! yet these are about 30 minutes from my house; goes to show you how much there is to see around here.

For confirmation on what to see, here is the tourist office of Lorient

And some in English from the city homepage here:

For confirmation on what to see, here is the tourist office of Guidel

And some from the city homepage of Guidel famous for it’s surfing mecca :

You can reach Lorient to Guidel on bus line 60, takes about 36-40 minutes here:

We of course, took a leisure car ride along the D16 into the D33 to connect with the expressway N165 direction Lorient.

We came here to do some shopping with my other half Frenchie who loves a particular store here call Damart, going back to grandma habits lol! so she finally got her shoes. Always nice to walk around the square Place Alsace-Lorraine even with construction going on around it and see the big branch of Galeries Lafayette as well as the modern Church of Notre Dame de la Victoire built in 1955 after WWII had destroyed the one there from 1810.  There is a nice carrousel and kiddie rides as well as an important bus terminal .

Oh yes Damart is here:

then, we continue for a leisure ride back into the N165 direction Guidel and its beaches. Taking exit 45 at Guidel road D306 direction Guidel you are in town in 15 minutes! We pass by the town to see our old hangouts by car and continue to Guidel Plage or beach along the same road D306 here we stop for lunch at a picturesque stop on the bay along the road D152 several restaurants overlooking the shallow waters of the bay coming in from the ocean. We ate at La  Plage , ::) or The Beach a resto pizzeria place with a nice fish and chips , Britt Breton blonde beers, coffee and sweets combination or café gourmand , and the other had from chorizo and mussels to four cheese pizza to more fish and chips all with the same beer or desperados and the same café gourmand coming to 22.50€ per person reasonable for a beach town with a view overlooking a nice terrace. It is by the beach Le Bas Pouldu. no webpage some reference for location:

In Guidel town, you have a nice Church Saint Pierre et Saint Paul in place Polignac city center,  surrounded by shops ,restos, and parking !

For the beaches this is a site I use here that is pretty good info for them before arrival for orientation, facilities and safety: have on Guidel :

They are better known to surfers but good for the whole family with shallow water and playground for kiddies; two big section of games and restos ,one by Le Bas Pouldu and the other by plage de la Falaise.(cliffs beach).

Along the beach boulevard road D152 you arrive at Fort Bloqué, a nice stretch of sandy beach and the great fortress built in 1748,  that like yesterday in low tide you can walk to it! Can’t go in thus, it is a private property! This is already part of the adjacent town of Ploemeur, more info the beach here that is public,

and this is the regional TV France 3 in French but a nice video on the Fort , trying last time for sale in 2015.

On the way back, well, we did our groceries right there in Guidel at the Super U supermarket. Just coming back up on road D306 direction Lorient. Nice clean store, and friendly service all ready for beachgoers and al. more here:

Another nice, fast, inexpensive family outing in our lovely Morbihan. You are welcome, Degemer Mat ::)

Cheers and enjoy your Sunday!

Guidel plage Guidel plage Guidel plage Guidel plage Guidel plage Guidel plage Guidel plage Guidel plage Guidel plage Guidel plage Guidel plage

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February 18, 2017

Some news from Bretagne XIII

And this is my Bretagne, now for the last 6 years of my life. Wonderful coves, harbors ,beaches and great forest of king Arthur fame. I am in the Morbihan dept 56 the only one in France ,name not French ::) but Breton. Degemer mat= welcome to the old dukedom of Brittany.

The weather was nice today about 56F enough for folks to come out and even walk on the beach, great fun for the surfers here! We did our errands and some sightseeing nearby in our department, some of that later. For now, some news on Brittany.

From March 3-8 you have the Festival de la Parole Poétique or the poets speech rights festival in the Sémaphore, this itme an homage to Jim Morrison. More here:

and here:

The 16th Rencontres du Cinéma Europeen will have a run March 1-7 in Vannes, special presentation will be on Flandre. More info here:

Something found and good to come in just for Le Vinocrate, 24bis rue Paul Guieysse in Lorient. From a selection of wines from the famous Guide Hachette, you will have meals and wines all matching. Directions here:

Another good and tasted is The Galway Inn, 18 rue de Belgique in Lorient, folk, jazz, country blues and Traditional music ,open 17h to 2h, great ambiance always. Games on Tuesdays at 20h. More info here:

A bit late but if around until February 22nd, come and enjoy Récré Days in Lorient fun for the entire family. More than 50 activities for young and old. More info here :

Quelle Histoire or what a history going on at the archives department of the Morbihan until June 23 2017. 56 dates telling us the story of the area and France; very good and free admission. Open Mondays to Fridays from 9h to 17h30. More info and directions in French here:

Right by Guidel Plages you may want to see the Galerie Kerbrest, expo of paintings and sculptures by local artists from Grancher, Gurun, R Hess, C Mingant and others. Open everyday from 15h to 19h during  July-September, and all Sundays in off season.  More here,

About going for a boat ride or fishing in Doêlan just south of Quimperlé on road N165 direction Moêlan-sur-mer. This is Passion Mer: aboard the boat Océanide I you can go for one hour or all day max 10 persons so very individualise. rates from 15€ for 1h to 80€ for all day.  More in French here:

nice small Casino at Larmor Plage open every day from 10h at 24 bd de Port Maria. roulettes machines, table games, bar restaurant and good ambiance on the beach. More here :

Les émancipéés Festival will be in Vannes from March 10-12 showing all about music,books, and theater all at the Théatre Anne de Bretagne. The presentation around Scénes du Golfe or scenes from the gulf (Morbihan).  More here:

At lorient in the Espace de Sciences of the Maison de la Mer you will have the Circuits portuaires until Feb 24th and then again from April 4-28. All about the sea from tides to rades to fishing and naval secrets… reservation is a must at the tourist office +33 (0) 2 97 84 78 00. or more here in English:

Now for the youngsters taken a cue from my sons, there is a nice discotheque by the beach area of Guidel in the town of Quéven =Paradisio, open fridays , Saturdays, sundays and eve of holidays with music from the 70’s and 80’s with buffet all sundays evenings. More here: first tel +33 (0) 2 97 80 21 20 or cell/mob +33 (0) 6 12 45 58 63:

And to close out, the Festival of gastronomy and wines in Vannes. Salon des Vins et de la Gastronomie March 4-6 at the expo center Le Chorus in the Parc du Golfe. This has only a 5€ admission and its very popular here already in it’s 25th edition. More here;

And the le chorus exhibition center here with directions in French:

Enjoy visiting the Breton lands of France. It’s magic just ask Arthur, Merlin,and Morgane ::)




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February 16, 2017

And more wines for 2017, Burgundy anyone….

Today, I saw an article about Burgundy  in Bloomberg, and decided to write a bit about this wonderful wine region and more…Bourgogne.

I have been drinking Burgundy wines since 1988 when I had the opportunity to meet  Pierre-Henri Gagey the President of Maison Jadot, Beaune who was stopping by for a tastings in Crown Wine Liquiors store in North Miami Beach Florida USA.  So old the store is no longer feature in the store webpage ,but it does has one other I have visited in Coral Gables, this is the webpage:

The experience was so good that when came to France to meet what is now my wife in 1990, I took a ride by Beaune , with a previous request to see him at Jadot,Beaune. He was not available but gave me his Sales Manager for Europe Marc Dupin to lead us into a wonderful tastings of the best of Jadot in their cellars at Beaune. The house is here:

You know wine is one of my favorite subjects even if do not write enough on it. It goes that you mention wine and you know love is in the air, especially around special dates.  It breaks away shyness and opens up the social spectrum in a controlled way, easy for conversations of a cultured person. Maybe many take it to an extreme that make people shy away from it, but it should not be that way. I have a certificate from SOPEXA, the French food and wine export organization in knowledge of French wines, and proven articles in different magazines such as Decanter, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiasts etc over the pond and ICEX Spain food and wine organization as well as here from the Boutin Gourmand. However, I try to humanized it and keep it simple just to enjoy the wine that does not have to be expensive to be good.

The official Burgundy site for its wines is here in English :

The region is long and narrow, starting in the north with Chablis and Yonne and coming down thru Côte de Nuits, Côtes de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise, Maçonnais, all 27 200 hectares representing 3% of the French AOC wine production! or 200 million bottles!!! The principals grapes are the Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Gamay, Aligoté, Pinot Gris, César, Sacy, and Melon de Bourgogne. The region has four levels of appellation or delimited areas which are Côte de Nuits like a Vosne-Romanée, Premiers Crus like a Meursault, Côte de Beaune like a Corton-Charlemangne.

The sub regions just to get you a bit more confusing à la Française are: Bourgogne, Bourgogne Clairet, Bourgogne Mousseux, Bourgogne Ordinaire, Bourgogne Ordinaire Clairet, Bourgogne Ordinaire Rosé, Bourgogne Passetoutgrain, Bourgogne Rosé, Bourgogne Aligoté, Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire, Bougogne Grand Ordinaire Rosé, Crémant de Bourgogne, Vin de pays de l’Yonne, Vin de pays de la Niévre, vin de pays de Sainte Marie La Blanche, Vin de pays de Saône et Loire, Vin de pays des Coteaux de l’Auxois.

The main thing as anywhere is to know who the producter is, if they do their wines well the area is not important and of course the quality/price ratio.  And I had the opportunity to drink very expensive good wines and very inexpensive good wines and vice versa over my life.

The towns for touristic reference as well as the wines, tops are: -Montrachet, Santenay, and Beaune with its famous Hospices de Beaune a charity Chablis, Chambertin, Morey Saint Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Vougeot Vosne-Romanée, Nuits Saint Georges , Aloxe-Corton, Savigny, Pommard, Meursault, Chassagne hospital founded in 1443 and famous for its auction every November . Also, Mercurey, and Pouilly-Fuissé.

From the site of Beaune tourist office you can get plenty of information on Burgundy tastings and visits:!/page/1

So to be general and fair and talk about some well known producers here are some from the Bloomberg list:

And from my favorite chain store in France, Nicolas :

You won’t go wrong looking for the Domaine Bouchard, and all the Bouchard, Louis Jadot, Albert Bichot, Joseph Drouhin, Chateau de Pommard,Domaine Faivelay, and William Fevre to name a few.

Bourgogne or Burgundy or Borgoña is a region to be reckoned with and one that has also tried to be copy ,adapted ,adjust all over the world ;but Burgundy rest unique, you can’t replace the dirt!

Cheers y’all!


February 15, 2017

Some news from France CXLXII

Here we are again, this is mid week , long and gray and a bit rainy very light mist and temps in the 8C or about 46F. This was an unique day. Well I take the same route to work but they had the road barricaded due to construction of a new extension of the road D767 in Grand Champ and needed to take another road, first time on it!!! thru very small villages and twists and turns road ,narrow and wow it took the same time on the traject !!! Made it home ready for later the Real Madrid football/soccer game vs Napoli in the Champions league 8thfinals.

What have we come up with to tell you, plenty , all new exiting news of my belle France.

The city of Paris has a project to change the beautiful île de la Cité by 2040. Hopefully, this is not some eco terrorist idea to continue degrading Paris. They are thinking of making the parvis de Notre Dame with a transparent glass wall to show the underground of the vestiges of the archeological ruins, together with the police headquarters ,the Hôtel Dieu hospital and the Palais de Justice (where the Sainte Chapelle is). Sort of a glass enclosure and garden by the place du Marché aux fleurs (flower market).  It includes two passerelles linking the river banks to the foot of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and a square with direct access to the river Seine in the south of it, with a small boating harbor with péniches boats and barges.  The reason is to give the island a bit more life than now; actually only about 1000 persons live here permanently and the rest are the tourists, there is no schools, no voting booth few shops and the most imposing buildings from the exterior only occupied about a third of the space of the Louvre alone.  The entire space will be about 100 000 sq meters razing the old hospital and the police headquarters will be set up for housing. Shops can be installed in the street level of the building; parking by the Place Dauphine. All this came up in an article in Les Echos business journal. More from the tourist office;

Next to renovate and improve is Euro Disneyland, now call Disneyland Paris that opened in April 1992 at Marne-la-Vallée in Seine-et-Marne dept 77 east of Paris. Before it was only fields of beets. Now the  area has 60 hectares with 29 attractions, 7 hotels, and the Festival Disney (now call Disney Village). It is as a whole the first attractions park open in Europe. After some shaky start it started it upwards move with the opening in 1995 of Space Mountains, from earth to the moon! By 2002, a second park is opened , Walt Disney Studio dedicated to the cinema. Then, in 2008 the Tour de la Terreur or terror tower opened.  By 2012, it was already on its 20th anniversary, the first European tourist destination with about 16 million visitors. By 2014, a new attraction came on the Ratatouille the adventure of Remy. After ,again going thru some down trend in attendance , the park is expecting a rebound on its 25th anniversary in 2017 with a huge plan of renovation and innovations in the park ,that will not affect it’s operating hours. From an article in Les Echos. More from official site:

Another famous site that is also going thru some transformation is the Roland Garros tennis stadium ,hope of the French Open. After many years trying by the French federation, FFT, and two justice decisions in end 2016 and early 2017, the work can finally moves on with a still due date in 2020. The new design will have finally 5000 additional places in what was the Serres d’Auteuil a historical site , covering the court Philippe-Chartrier, the central court, will be raise 31 meters to partially cover the extension into the autoroute A13 for about 6400 square meters , replacing the training courts now located between the  courts of Suzanne Lenglen and Philippe Chatrier. In addition, the privatitation and annexation of a part of avenue de la Porte d’Auteuil of about 4500 square meters, giving way to a change in circulation of traffic.  This will give an additional 1200 spaces. All again promise by 2020 according to the association. In French you can upload the pps file looking up “MODERNISATION DE ROLAND-GARROS: Nouvelle victoire au tribunal pour la Fédération Française de Tennis” HERE:

Now for the lovers in all of us and in memory of Saint Valentine, perfums are in order ,first some numbers: In 2016, sales in Valentine were 4,5% of the total perfums market, Mother’s Day at 5% and Christmas with 25%! Sales are progressing at about 5% per year for the last five. At the end of August 2016, the Milleniums folks represent a sales volume of 390M € progressing at about 4% per year on the world market. Source : NPD, Marché du sélectif France,  and the Le Parisien journal.

Some of the newest hits on the perfume trail are : N° 5 L’eau, Chanel; feminine essence ,light and wear by Lily-Rose Depp.  La Femme Prada, L’Homme Prada . new love version in duo interchangeable, fluidity in a perfume. L’Homme idéal, Guerlain: the guys stuff, male senses with hot vanilla, viril leather and strong wood. Contre moi, Louis Vuitton. gourmand and addiction in all its dimensions; work vanilla like a second skin, regressive juice with pastry smells. Miss Dior Absolutely Blooming, Dior . a perfume to feel love, and here you will, the fragrance at the heart of the designer today re invented with flowers and fruits. Source, Le Parisien journal

 And now we have an Airbus A-380 straight from the airport Toulouse-Blagnac coded the 4L DD  landing at Le Bourget at 15h30 to join the collection at the museum or musée de l’Air et de l’Espace . The plane is one of four testing planes of Airbus and has  3 360 flying hours. More on the museum :

Something closer to my old home that now will have a second chance is the Haras National des Bréviaires. This horse center has been put under the comité régional d’équitation Ile-de-France, CREIF.  Here, they will create a house of horses with work that will last about 1,5 years. Some of the good things that will happened is the construction of a stable twice bigger than what they have now as well as 225 additional horse stables to host up to 300 horses. It will have a trotting trail and gallop in it’s 56 hectares as well as an obstacle course. A museum and Library will complete the center. More here :

About something to eat and surrounded by history, but not in Paris;just outside.  The Brasserie Biron, a site of rdv of Kurt Russell, Charles Aznavour ,and Pierce Brosnan; all have come to drink a glass here . The brasserie or brewery restaurant is located in the same neighborhood name in the town of  Saint-Ouen. The same of the famous flea market of Paris generally known as. Here you will be serve typical dishes like a tête de veau ravigole or boeuf bourguignon done from recipes of the same chef Jacques Dehays for the last 35 years. The restaurant only open with the market so only 3 days per week, weekends and Mondays. All over the walls you will see portraits of Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Jean Gabin as well as one from the flea market from their time. This is the real France of the times, the rest of the week the owners take care of their small hotel , Hotel Villa Biron ,just a couple steps from the restaurant. It has 10 rooms that have already host the actrice Mathilde Seigner while filming the series Sam.  The brasserie here :  and the hotel here:

One of my favorites shopping places and where used to rent cars is the shopping or centre commercial des 3 Fontaines at Cergy (Val d’Oise dept 95) off the A13 direction Rouen.  It is one of the top 20 biggest in  France with about 13 millions visitors per year. The new renovations will begin in September with paintings, flooring, lighting, etc all re done new.It will be done at night and will take about a year to do.They will do a covered parking with 3150 spaces either underground, super structured or on the roof of the shopping center. More here:

And ,still another improvement to a nice park I have taken my boys since early age even visiting before living permanently here; the Parc Astérix. The building of the Pégase Express, a rollercoaster of about 1 km long, in a mythical ride with strong sensations link to the mythology and the cartoon BD of Goscinny and Udezo. The train stop will be call Lutéce, Alexandrie, or Olympie. The speed will be up to 52 kph or about 30 mph and for 3 minutes you will go thru a tunnel to reach an antique temple where sleep the terrible Medusa. It will give you a scare and make the trains go in reverse while looking at a Pegasus 5 meters high, the winged horse. To house this train, a station will be built call Montparnassos from the train will depart. The building housing it will be 17 meters high and 24 meters wide.  You will need to be 1 meter (about 3,3 feet) tall to ride it. It should be ready by next June 2017. More here:

The official site is here:

Now just finish with some interludes and my Real Madrid won 3×1 over Napoli!!!!!!!!!!! So my week is done hehehe ,you have a good end of week ok cheers.


Photo courtesy of Les Echos  Business Journal


February 14, 2017

Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris

Ok Paris has many parks and gardens all over some well known and others a little secret of locals. The Jardin du Luxembourg is a famous garden in the middle of Paris known to the world and still a favorite place of Parisians families. It is one of my favorites too.

After having worked in the city for 10 years, I used to take many leisure times around the city sometimes just to kill time before going home to Versailles. This is one of the gardens I found with locals and ever since took my family here on weekends. The sailing wooden boats is a tradition that we took with the boys as well.  Not to mention the museum part of the garden. It is also, the seat of the French Senate and the President of the Senate lives right there.

I have written bits and pieces on it in many other posts in my blog, this time this is a page on the things to see and a bit of history of the garden and some pictures. Enjoy it for the whole family and keep making it a tradition of Paris.

The Luxembourg garden was created in 1612 at the request of Marie de Médicis to accompany the Luxembourg Palace; It has been the subject of a restoration under the second empire and now belongs to the domaine of the Senate of France. It covers 23 hectares of which 21 are open to the public. With parterres of flowers, and sculptures. It is one of the most popular Parisian parks enjoy by all. In 1635 , André le Nôtre rearranged the flowerbeds not been able to give the broad perspective desired due to the Monastery of the Carthusians standing there. After the death of Maris de Médicis in 1642, the Luxembourg Palace and garden change hands many times. In 1778, the Count of Provence , brother of king Louis XVI and later king Louis XVIII receives the Luxembourg property. To finance the work of restoration he ask to aligned the western part of the garden which included the alley of philosophers frequented by Rousseau in 1741 and the Promenades of breathing or Soupirs   refuge of lovers. Once you are into the rue du Luxembourg ,today Rue Guynemer you are at the westernmost tip of the garden.

At the French revolution the palace is turned into a prison with such residents as Danton, Desmoulins, Fabré, Eglantine, David amongst hundreds others,and the garden is abandoned. The Monastery of the Carthusians is requisitioned, and the wall blocking the view to the Observatory is taken down and the 26 hectares owned by the religious order is taken. The land lost a few years earlier in the West is taken in the South reaching the current boulevard de Montparnasse. In 1795, it is the Directoire that takes over the Palace. The directors settled in the petit Luxembourg except Barras who occupied the former royal apartments in the west wing. After the dissolution of the directoire the building falls into the Senate of the Empire, Napoléon I wish that the garden is intended for the children, and the garden is laid out accordingly with kiosques and playgrounds.

The opening of the boulevard Saint Michel ,then called Sebastopol and the rue de Médici reduce the garden to the northeast. The intention of Haussmann was to leave the grotto of Medici in its location and put it in a small square. However, this was not possible due to protests it was dismantled stone by stone and rebuilt into a fountain where we can admire it today. To the northwest, the demolition of the convent of the daughters of Calvary (Filles du Calvaire) and the extention of the rue Vaugirard opened in 1845 towards rearranging the buildings around theh Luxembourg palace and the Petit Luxembourg.

Under the Nazi occupation the Luxembourg palace was the headquarters of the General Staff of the 3rd German air army . They built two blockhouse in the garden , one in the east and the other in the west. Surrounded it with barbed wire, and closed to the public. The garden serves as parking. On August 25, 1944 the 2nd armored division enters the garden around 17H (5pm) ,the swastika flag is brought down and the Nazis surrendered in the courtyard of the palace. After the liberation the Palace and garden is returned to the Senate of France. The palace of Luxembourg holds the Senate and the Garden is own by the Upper House, the petit Luxembourg house next to it previous residence of the President of the Senate. The Luxembourg museum devoted to major temporary exhibitions of art and you can visit them by the rue Vaugirard. The Orangery built in 1839 is located in the Allée Delacroix ; it houses the collection of 180 plants including citrus, palms, oleanders and the grenadiers. Some of the big raiders trees are in the garden à la Française open from May to October have as much as 300 years; in the summer the Orangery serves as temporary exhibitions.

Some of the buildings in the garden of Luxembourg are: The Hôtel Vendôme now occupied by the school Mines Paris Tech; the serres or greenhouse in the garden next to it are home to a rich horticultural collection which included more than 400 species of Orchids. The Garden hosts several sports activities from Tennis, Basketball, and martial arts as well. Even the National Championships of Tennis are held here I as well as photographs exhibition, bandstand for concerts, and opera. Activities for Children with a nice playground and   ponys rides., puppet theatre and the main pond where guiding model boats is a tradition of Parisiens parents.

The garden houses about 106 statues these are many do not know if all !! Starting in the northeast corner of the garden on the side of the Palace : The Gauls or the Silence, by Guillaume Berthelot (1580-1648); Sainte-Suzanne, or Ceres, 1633, marble from Carrara by François Duquesnoy (1597-1643); The woman with the apples, 1937, bronze by Jean Terzieff (1894-1978); Monument to Henry Murger, 1895, bronze by Henry – Theophilus broth (1864-1934) [11] Students died in the Resistance, 1954-1956, bronze by Gaston Watkin (1916-2011); Monument to Théodore de Banville, stone by Jules Roulleau (1855-1895);

Then, after the Medici fountain you have: The Greek actor,1868,bronze by Charles – Arthur Bourgeois (1838-1886); Dancing Faun,by Eugène-Louis Lequesne(1815-1897);Dispetto,or spite,1872,marble by John Valletta (1825-1877); Monument to Leconte Lisle, 1897, a winged  muse hugs the bust of the poet, marble by DenysPuech (1854-1942). By passing the basin to the South are: Caius standing Marius on the ruins of Carthage,1857,marble by Nicolas-Victor Vilain (1818-1899); Calliope, marble by Ferdinand do Pelliccia (1808-1892); Winner David from Goliath, anonymous marble from antiquity; Vulcan presenting the weapons he has forged, 1781,statue in white marble by Charles-Antoine Bridan (1730-1805); Flora, according to the ancient.

All around the Central terrace, statues of Queens of France and famous women, including in the Clotilde and Bathilde who were chosen by Louis-Philippe; Queens of France and illustrious women. The Queen Mary-Stuart; Monument to Georges Sand, 1904, white marble by François Sicard (1862-1934); Bocca della Verità 1871,white marble by Jules Blanchard (1832-1916); Monument to Stendhal, Medallion in bronze by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917),expansion of a model created  by David d’Angers (1788-1856) Velleda contemplating the home of Eudore, 1844, marble by Hippolyte Maindron (1801-1884); Monument to Gustave Flaubert, bust in stone by Auguste Clésinger (1814-1883); The cry, the written word, 2007, three polychrome bronze rings, commemorating the abolition of slavery,by Fabrice Hyber (born in 1961); Stele in tribute to the slaves in the French colonies, inaugurated in 2011 by Nicolas Sarkozy; The merchant of masks, bronze by Zacharie Astruc (1835-1907), featuring the masks of Victor Hugo, Léon Gambetta, Alexandre Dumas son, Eugène Delacroix, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Camille Corot, Hector Berlioz, Jean-Baptiste Faure, Honoré de Balzac, Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly; Then there are the statues of Joan of Albret, Clémence Isaure, Anne-Marie-Louis d‘Orléans, Duchess of Montpensier, Louise of Savoy and Marguerite of Anjou;  Plate in tribute to insurgents in the town, shot against the wall on May 25,1871; Lion’s ‘sculpture in stone by Heuraux. Diane according to the ancient stone.

On the way to the Palace, on the lawn facing the basin: Monument to Scheurer-Kestner (1908), stone, by Jules Dalou (1838-1902), with Justice holding a sword and the balance, and the naked truth, holding a mirror (which has disappeared).

In the middle of the Basin you will find, Child support a bowl anonymous sculptor; To the West on the floor you will find: Venus out of the bath, from the antique; Venus to the Dauphin, from antiquity; Blanche of Castile, Queen of France; Juno Queen of heaven according to the antique; Minerva to the Owl anonymous; Then other Queens of France and famous women: Anne of Austria; Anne of Brittany; Marguerite of Provence; Sainte Clotilde; To the North on the floor you have : memory of the seven fighters of the Liberation by Charles Soudant Then, to the South you have : Flora, according to antiquity, another model across the basin;   To the South slightly to the west you have : Monument to Pierre Guillaume Frédéric Le Play, bronze by André-Joseph Allar (1845-1926); On the South lawn you have the Lion of Nubia and its prey, 1870, bronze of Auguste Caïn (1822-1894); Tribute to Pierre Mendès France, 1984, sculpture by Pierre Peignot (1947-2002); The herd of deer listening to the close group in bronze by Arthur the Duke (1848-1918); Monument to Ferdinand Fabre, 1880, by Laurent Marqueste (1848-1920); Monument to Charles Baudelaire, 1936, by Felix Pierre Fix Masseau (1869-1937); Monument to the Countess of Ségur, 1910, by Jean Boucher (1870-1939); Monument to Louis Ratisbonne, marble by Émile Soldi (1846-1906); Monument to Jean Antoine Watteau, 1896, stone and bronze by Henri Désiré Gauquié (1858-1927) :The poet or tribute to Paul Eluard, 1954, bronze by Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967); Monument of José Maria de Heredia  bronze by Victor Ségoffin (1867-1925); Monument to Sainte-Beuve, 1898, bust in stone by Denys Puech (1854-1942).

Then turning to the right towards the North on the first lawn along rue Guynemer you have : Frédéric Chopin monument, in bronze and stone by Paul Dubois (1829-1905); Archidamas preparing to throw  the disc, 1847, statue stone by Henri Lemaire (1798-1880); Monument to Jules Massenet, 1926, by Raoul Verlet (1857-1923), completed by the sculptor Paul Gasq (1860-1944); A reduction in bronze of the Statue of the liberty of Auguste Bartholdi, melted then in the garden Monument to Édouard Branly, by Carlo Sarrabezolles (1888-1971); Going back to the North on the next lawn you see the Monument to Gabriel Vicaire, 1902, stone, by Jean-Antoine (1845-1933); Monument to Paul Verlaine, 1911, stone by Augustus (1863-1913); The triumph of Silenus 1898 group in bronze by Jules Dalou (1838-1902); Winter, marble statue attributed to Michel Anguier (1612-1686); Monument to Beethoven, inaugurated in 1978, example in bronze of the bust sculpted in 1902 by Antoine Bourdelle;   The Effort,1898,lead and sandstone by Pierre Roche (1855-1922); Monument to Stefan Zweig, 2003, bronze by Félix Schivo (1924-2006); Phidias or Sculpture, 1889, by Aimé Millet (1819-1891); The Messenger, by Gabriel Forestier (1889-1969) stone statue; Painting, 1889, statue stone by Jules Franceschi (1825-1893); On the West façade of the Orangery: Jean-Antoine Houdon, 1888, bust by Ernest-Eugène Hiolle (1834-1886); Louis David, 1888, bust by Jean-Baptiste Hugues (1849-1930); On the South façade of the Orangery: Antoine Gros, 1888, bust by Felon Joseph (1818-1897); Rough Francis, 1888 bust in stone by Joseph Tournait (1831-1891); Pierre-Paul Prud’hon 1888, bust in stone by Gustave Debrie (1842-1932); David Angers, 1888, bust in stone by Léon-Auguste Perrey (1841-1900); Dominique Ingres, 1888, bust in stone by Pierre Rambaud (1852-1893); James Pradier, 1888, bust in stone by Louis Desprez (1832-1892); Eugene Delacroix, 1888, bust in stone by Alfred-Adolphe-Edouard Lepère (1827-1904); Antoine-Louis Barye, bust in stone by François-Raoul Larche (1860-1912); Théodore Rousseau, bust in stone by Henri Louis Levasseur (1853-1934); Aimé Millet 1888, bust in stone by Émile Louis Bogino (died 1937); Between the Museum and the Palace of the Luxembourg: you have the Monument to Eugène Delacroix, 1890,bronze and stone by Jules Dalou (1838-1902). The monument consists of a group connected adorning a fountain.

On the façade West in a niche of the Palace of Luxembourg you have : Psyche under the empire of the mystery, 1889, statue in marble by Hélène Bertaux (1825-1909); Moving to the North, in the direction of the rue Vaugirard you have a Montesquieu, by Denis Foyatier (1793-1863); In front of the orangery, toward the rue Vaugirard:  Young Harvester, by Alphonse Dumilatre (1844-1928); Flora, from the antique; Etienne Pasquier by Denis Foyatier (1793-1863); The three Graces, by Marthe Baumel-Schwenck (1913-1992); Fragrance statue by Victor Brecheret (1894-1955), bronze inaugurated in 2010, according to the plaster model exposed at the Salon d’Automne in 1924 Woman l oking in a mirror, statue in marble by Ludwig Georges Mátrai (1850-1906); In front of the greenhouses and their dependencies: Hercules, statue by Auguste Ottin (1811-1890); Bathsheba, by Paul Moreau Vauthier (1871-1936); Amphitrite, anonymous sculpture; Eustache Le Sueur,1853, statue in marble by Honoré Jean Aristide Husson(1803-1864) .

The details of the statues and busts above is a compilation from the tourist office of Paris, the Senate of France site, and Wikipedia translated as best possible. A monumental garden that I am sure I do not give justice to its vastness and beauty ,but I hope to give you a better idea of it and encourage you to come and visit it. A wonderful place for the entire family.

The sites for more information are:

See the statues


Tourist office

City of paris parks

Have a great week y’all ::) Cheers!!!

Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris

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February 12, 2017

Santa Maria la Real Catedral de la Almudena in Madrid

Ok so with time on a Sunday evening time to write about something that was in Madrid after I left from my living time there, and saw afterward while visiting the city.  I have written bits and pieces on it in other posts ,but this one is entirely on it.

I am talking about the Santa Maria la Real Catedral de la Almudena, next to the Royal Palace in Madrid. As everything there it is monumental and richly decorated. As you lead along Calle Mayor from the Plaza Mayor and you reach the Royal Palace or Palacio Real you can just look to your left and can’t missed it.

This is Church of 104 meters long and 76 meters wide with a mix of architecture styles from neo classic in the exterior to neo roman in the interior and neo gothic in the crypt. It was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in his fourth trip to Spain in June 15 1993. It is the first Spanish Catedral consecrated by a Pope.

It has ever since closely link to the Spanish Royal Family. In November 8 2000, was buried under the altar of the Virgin Mary, the Queen Maria de las Mercedes de Orleans, first wife of king Alfonso XII, whose remains were at El Escorial until the completion of the Cathedral. On May 22 2004, it was the scene of the marriage of Prince of Asturias Felipe of Borbon with Letizia Ortiz . On August 20, 2011, the Pope Benedict XVI became the second Pope to visit the Cathedral where he presided over Mass within the events of the XXVI World Youth Day. It was, also, the site of State ceremonies such as the funeral of former Presidents Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo in 2008 and Adolfo Suarez in 2014 (the forerunner of the Democracy movement we see today in Spain.

There have been a desired to built a Cathedral here going back to the 16C during the reign of king Felipe II. He chose Madrid as his capital. However, the Diocese of Toledo held that right and refuse to change it for many years. It was not until April 4, 1883 that king Alfonso XII finally laid the first stone of a Church of what would be later the Cathedral of Madrid. The idea was just to rebuilt a Church to replace the Church of Santa Maria de la Almudena, the oldest in Madrid,  destroyed by fire in 1868. It was built on land ceded in 1879 by Royal heritage of the Queen Maria Mercedes (1860-1878) a devotee of the Virgin of the Almudena, that had died prematurely.

In 1885, Pope Leon XIII decide by a pontifical decree to built a diocese in Madrid so putting an end to the opposition of the archbishops of Toledo. The draft of the new diocese took place in the Church of Saint Isidore until the Cathedral was completed.

The exterior of the Cathedral has as a main nave dome a height of 32 meters a lot more than the 12 meters between the axe of its columns. The dome is gothic in style seen from the interior but baroque from the exterior. It is covered in stone and tiles with an octagonal drum and its four large windows with a small lantern below it. The dome is decorated with 12 statues representing the 12 apostles.

The two towers on the façade , the one on the right is known by the name of Mariana or of Gallegos (Galicians) as the bells were offered by the Galician’s. Both have Marianne names on each tower such as Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena, Santa Maria de la Paloma, Santa Maria de Atocha, and Santa Maria de la Flor de Lis. On the left tower that gives to the Calle Bailén you find the ringing carillon or bell.

The interior of the Cathedral can be said it is of Latin Cross design consisting of a nave and two wide side halls with three naves. A curve ambulatory with five radical chapels. The altar table is green marble and located in the center of the transept. To the right of it is the Episcopal chair, gothic lines carved in walnut in 1885. Behind the main altar ,you see the chairs of the presbytery with a crucified sculpture of Christ in baroque style done in 1620.

The Virgin of La Almudena the patron saint of the city has its altar in the transept of the right aisle, opposite the entrance by calle de Bailén. It is a high altar, which can be accessed by two side staircases with bronze handrail. The original sculpture, representing the Virgin with the child in her arms is an image of Gothic style carved in wood. It is positioned in the central niche of the altarpiece, done by the end of the 15C.

You will see about 18 portraits representing scenes from the life of Jesus and Mary with gentle pleasant colors, most of neo gothic style. The image of the Virgin is elevated on a pedestal of silver from the 17C, with candles and glares of the same material. The central chapel on the ambulatory is dedicated to San Isidro Labrador and his wife Santa Maria de la Cabeza ,whose image is of baroque polychrome carving from the 17-18C ; the funeral coffins are from the 13C. The Chapels on the aisle are dedicated to contemporary Saints such as Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer, decorated with sculpture reliefs. Others are Santo Venancio Blanco, Santo Mari Micael of the Blessed Sacrament ; Marian de Jesus de la Providencia, San Maravilla de Jesus, San Angel de la Cruz, San Vicente de Paula, San Luis de Marilla, San Pedro Poveda, Santa Maria Soledad Torre, Santa Maria Josefa del Corazon de Jesus. All are organise and decorated with images in contemporary style furniture for the most part. At the food of the altar you have a chapel of petinance and the baptismal chapel in white marble from the 18C.

The Cathedral organ is located in the high choir at the foot of the nave back and was done with four keyboards ,pedal keyboard with mechanical and electrical links featuring 16 line pipes with the largest at 11 pipes high. 21 on line pipes for a playing keyboard , and a pedal with 3 more.

It is a must to see in Madrid and a great souvenir of your visit. Do not forget to see the museum(next to Cathedral) , and the Chapel of the Bishop (plaza de la paja s/n) , and the Crypt at Calle Mayor 90( need ask to see it at 12h or midday) , open Mondays to Saturdays from 10h to 14h30 only. Normal adult admission is 6€. ticket office is in the main façade of the Cathedral facing the Palacio Real, metro Opera lines 2 and 5 or bus 3 and 148 stop at Calle  Mayor corner with Calle Bailén. More on the museum /Chapel, and Crypt in Spanish here:

The official webpage of the Cathedral is here in Spanish :

The tourist office of Madrid has more in English here :

Enjoy the Almudena and Madrid. You all have a great week ahead ! Cheers

Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid





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