Archive for March, 2017

March 31, 2017

Some news from France CXLXVIII

Hi, here is Friday, weekend coming, and end of month March is gone !!! and temps are sunny but cool now at 11C or about 55F in my neck of the Morbihan Breton.

Let’t talk about some of the museums and galleries and nice events coming up that in my opinion are worth seeing if around the Belle France.

First, you might have read here, the Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte in the village of Maincy , Seine et Marne dept 77 is going thru a vast renovation project even if still remains open.For example, the ceiling painting “Le Triomphe de la Fidelité” in the room or chambre de Muses is going for a nice redo ,first one after 250 years! This room is famous because in 1661 it held the presentation of the work of Moliére “L’école des Maris” in the presence of the King and Queen Louis XIV ,and Marie-Thérese. The painting ceiling  fabrics weights 150 kg (about 331 lbs) and it is 4×4 meters (about 13 x 13 feet); the ceiling has about 175 M2 or about 1883 Sq Feet).  And this is a castle that only gets 150K euros from the State and the rest is by the partner family of Vogûé and donations! This costs can go to 1M € per season! Great private enterprise at its best to preserve a beauty of France and the World. More here:

If you are in Paris on May 30 at 9h45 go to the newspaper kiosque à journaux , 35 avenue de Suffren and get a ticket to a guided tour of the Tour Eiffel and lunch at the restaurant Jules Verne all by a guide for 275€ per person. You read it here first…

Also, at the Salle Gaveau, 45-47 rue La Boétie 8eme for 25€ you will be able to listen to Jean-Christophe Rufin on April 12 at 20h. This is the adventurer, writer, and diplomat descendant of Chateaubriand. More here:

At the Musée d’Orsay running on June 22,23,28, all at 14h15, and 29 (18h15); you will see an exhibition of Portraits de Cézanne. He painted about 200 paintings in his lifetime with 26 self-portraits and 29 of his wife ,Hortense Fiquet. More here:

Then, you have the wonderful exhibition at the Grand Palais, “Des Grands Moghols aux Maharandjas-Joyaux de la collection Al Thani”.  This is on from April 14 to June 1 on certain dates and hours each day. You will see 230 pieces of the collection Al Thani telling you about the history of Indian jewelry from the Mogols time to today. More details here:

At the Musée de l’Orangerie on April 5 to August 21, you will see the works of art of the collection from the Museum Bridgestone coming from the dynasty of Ishibashi. As their museum is undergoing renovation the entire collection will be shown at the Orangerie, that will give you the chance to see their collection of impressionists paintings. More here:

You can see the exhibition on the clothing of famous French singer Dalida on the 30th anniversary of her passing.  More than 50 dresses will be on display going from names like Carven,Loris Azzaro, Balmain, and YSL etc. April 27 to August 13 2017 and 12€ admission ,this will be at the fashion museum Palais Galliera, 10 avenue Pierre-1er-de-Serbie 16eme. More here:

See something different, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 11 avenue du Président Wilson 16eme; you will see three artists on their best time: Derain, Balthus, and Giacometti.  Almost 100 paintings, graphic arts, sculptures from the 20’s to the 60’s; from June 2 to October 29, nice, and more here:

A tour around the cemetery Pére-Lachaise showing you the works of art of Sculptures there. The dates are in May 11 ,18 , June 15 ,22, at 13h50, at the principal entrance on 8,boulevard de Ménilmontant 20éme. Cost is 30€ for the guided tour of this great cementary created in 1804 by Napoléon.  More here on all details by calling ahead here :cimetière du Père-Lachaise, Direction des espaces verts, telephone +33 (0) 1 49 57 94 37. More in French on description on the Mayor’s office of the 20eme here:

To see Art Déco in Paris, head for the Palais de la Porte Dorée at 293 avenue Daumesnil 12eme. Here from April 28 you will the best works. The palace was done for the 1931 Universal exposition to serve as a permanent museum of the Colonies. See the entrance in stone, hall d’honneur with a huge mosaique, the iron grill door, the rooms of Lyautey and Reynaud, and paintings of the civilisations of Africa, and Asia. more on the visit here:

And come to one of my favorites seldom mention but worth a visit, La Cité Universitaire, 17 boulevard Jourdan 14eme , coming out from the exit of the RER B Cité Universitaire. This complex of building was created after WWI to welcome students from 130 nationalities, to contribute to world peace and knowledge. It has 37 resident buildings which are an open air architectural museums. Of course, my favorites that I have visited are Collége d’Espagne (Spain), and the Fondation Abreu de Grancher (Cuba). More here on the house residents:

We move away from Paris, first to Compiegne to see the Imperial Palace, done in 1751 under king Louis XV,and the wonderful carriage museum there now and the wonderful restaurant, of course,see the apartments of the emperor and emperatrice, prince and king of Rome, and the Theater Louis-Philippe. More on this wonderful place that you need to see not far from Paris out from Gare du Nord train station, and then 10 minutes walking to the palace or take the bus line 1 or 2 stop at Saint Jacques, run from Monday to Saturday. More info here:

Come closer to my old hangout and visit the famous and wonderful Chateau de Monte Cristo of the Camelias and Dumas fame at Le Port Marly ,Yvelines dept 78. Alexandre Dumas died here in 1847 and it is as he did it, very nice castle. More here:

And of course, in my beloved Yvelines dept 78, do stop by to this literary gem, the Chateau de Médan, open after many years of restoration. You see the views as seen by Paul Cézanne,and the souvenirs of Ronsard, as well as the poets of the Pléiade.  More here:

You do take the road as I do or the train from Paris,and visit wonderful Auxerre at the entrance to Burgundy/Bourgogne. Do see the wonderful  Saint Germain abbey , and St Etienne Cathedral (St Stephen, and the clock district. You can come from gare de Lyon or gare de Bercy in Paris to Auxerre St Gervais train station. More on this nice town and worth a visit here on the tourist office on monuments:

Go to the Centre Pompidou but not in Paris, see it at Metz in Lorraine , see the exposition on Fernand Léger and the contemporary arts movement, September 28-30 2017. You can come to Metz from Paris Gare de l’Est (Paris Est) train station.  This can be seen on a guided tour so inquire at the centre Pompidou email: . More on the center here:

And do go south to Lyon to see the wonderful Musée des Confluences (at the joining of two river Rhône and Saône) and see the vineyards from October 5-17 2017 on a special guided tour. Contact ahead for more info here:

And closer to my heart, from May 30 to September 24 at the Chateau de Versailles-Grand Trianon, see the expo on Peter the Great tsar of Russia on the collection of his visit here in 1717. More here:

At the Chateau de Versailles  from October 24 2017 to February 25, 2018 ,you can come to see the exposition on the visitors and guests of yesteryear to the Chateau de Versailles. From the ambassador of Siam in 1686 to the ambassador of Mysore, India in 1788 many have come to pay tribute to the kings of France here. With more than 300 works of art,this expo ,the first of its kind will showcase all the visitors of the second half of the 17C until the French revolution. It will show paintings and sculptures, costumes of the times, travel guides, tapestries, porcelains of Sévres and Meissen, parade weapons, and show what was expected of them upon arrival here. The gifts and souvenirs left to the king as well.  More here:

France is a state of mind, la vie est belle, the joie de vivre, and a lot of cachet ::) Cheers

March 29, 2017

Some news from Spain XL

Well here I am again on my Spain…. First Spain beat France on a friendly football/soccer match last night 0X2 played at St Denis stade de France. For the first time a VAR or video action recorder was used and indeed welcome to football. To call this match friendly is a misused of the word, as there was a lot of prestige on the line and Spain clearly dominated the game. Now on to more serious games to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Here in my neck of the woods is a mild quasi sunny day of 15C or about 58F ;Tomorrow more of the same going up to 64F or about 18C. In my Madrid, now is 65F and tomorrow higher to 71F with the sun showing up.

The choices of Spaniards to go out on trips is mostly within Spain at 90,9% and only 9,1% outside. This is from a survey of Turismo de Residentes (ERT/Familitur) done for the INE (sp. statistical institute). On costs 68% was done in Spain while outside expenditures came to 32%; the average expenses were median of 44€ in and 96€ out. No wonder with the beauty of Spain who wants to go outside !

Something outside of Spain near me now in the belle France but was created by a Spaniard, the Castle of Villandry. This transformation of the castle was done by Joaquin Cavballo from Extremadura who in the first half of the 20C created a garden in the castle with tulips, persil, asparagus, ornamental herbs and flowers that now attracts over 400K persons each year. During a century the castle went thru several owners until Joaquin, a brilliant university graduate born in Don Benito, Badajoz arrived. He married Ann Coleman and search for a home far from the crowds until they found this semi abandoned castle. They paid 120K French Francs (about 18K€ ) to a old pharmacist. They study the history of Villandry, read books on gardens, purchase furniture and works of arts from Spanish origins to embellish what others have try to let rot; and this how Villandry was reborn to what we see today, a masterpiece, must see. More on the castle here:

Hilario García made wine to satisfied the national needs hardly any was exported. Then, in 1990, he took the bodega and modernized while keeping the wine tradition like French oak for fermentation and ageing on those same barrels. Then, we need it to find the bottle and was done in gold or silver done by the jewerlers of Prototecnia and numbered each bottle.  The bottle  AurumRed serie oro or gold series produces only 300 bottles per year from the tempranillo grapes of more than 100 years old and been the most expensive Spanish wine at 17 000 €. The same wine on the silver or  serie plata goes for 12000€ and produces 6K bottles per year. And there is the white wine with about 3000 bottles per year of the sauvignon blanc grape. You can’t be more exclusive here. More info on this wine here:

Going now to something close to me as my ancestors family from grandparents back comes from Tenerife.

My Tenerife ,can claim a wonderful astronomic observatory that gave the name to many lunar mountains and a fantastic record , the biggest shadow in the world projected on the ocean !  The island inclination and closeness to the great TEIDE mountains and volcano makes it so that when the sun is rising or goes down the volcanic umbra on the water becomes the biggest triangle of shadow on Earth. More on the observatory and Teide here:

You guys like to walk well this is heavens territory , go see the Acantilado de Los Gigantes , where vertical walls go from 300 meters to 600 meters. From the municipality of Santiago del Teide you have a nice view to the heights of Teide at 3 718 meters. More here:

You can go to the top of the crater in the volcano with a guide. Other goodies in mother nature are the Parque Nacional de las Cañadas del Teide, and visiting the quaint towns of Garachico and Masca  as well as the municipality of Icod de los Vinos.  In this latter one you find the  drago milenario, a tree and a natural attraction on the island.  This tree is almost 20 meters high and is between 800 to 1000 years old. If you are older, you might remember this tree was feature on the corners of the old 1000 pesetas bill (Spain’s money before the Euro). More on them here:

You can’t leave without tasting the local cuisine guanche.  One must is the mojo and the papas arrugás. These are cook potatoes without peeling and a lot of salt serve with the mojo. The mojo is a sauce that can be hot spicy or mojo picon or not and is made from garlic, olive oil and vinager.

And I move to something familiar as well and one will be visiting again this coming summer, this is Guadalajara. Here even after civil wars and succession wars the city still is wonderful. You must see these:

Palacio del infantado, a wonderful palace from the 15C well preserve and wonderful frescos paintings of the renaissance where you will find the museum or Museo Provincial. More here:

Palacio de mendoza , it has been going thru a vast renovation and many uses such as provincial museum, prison, provincial government and schools now still the high school or  Liceo Caracense.  At the same time, it is the convent or  Convento de la Piedad. More here:

Palacio de la Cotilla, this is another palace and from the 16C that houses the museum dedicated to the dramaturgic Buero Vallejo. It has a very interesting salon de thé/tea of El salón de té of the marqueses of  Villamejor, decorated in rice paper and painted in China and Japan in the 18C, indeed unique. More here :

The wonderful Capilla Luis de Lucena. belonging to the now gone church or Iglesia de San Miguel where the painter Romulo Cincinato created a small sixtine chapel or Capilla Sixtina.  The chapel preserve the remaining decoration of the Churches of San Gil. More here:

The magnificent Torreón De Alvar Fáñez  takes its name from a chavalier gentlemen and battle friend of the great El  Cid.  Here a leyend is preserve and currently it houses the Centro de Interpretación del Escudo de Armas; or interpretation center of the coat of arms. From 2004 ; it ,also a center of interpretation of the ramparts of  Guadalajara. More here:

See the Church or co-Cathedral or Iglesia or Co-Catedral de Santa Maria , the origins goes back to the moors or mudéjar period as evidence on the doors and décor that hides underneath the chalk of the baroque period that you can see with permission in advance.  It has a nice retable on the altar from 1624. More here:

Another beauty is the Church or Iglesia de San Francisco. It has been destroyed and rebuilt on many occasions, now on a gothic style you will find the pantheon of the Mendoza family done similar to that in the El  Escorial monastery.  It is connected to the altar of the Church. More here:

You have the beautiful Palacio de la Condesa de la Vega del Pozo, or it’s gorgeous pantheon as well as its foundation  share the same architecture style of the 19C from the same architect( Ricardo Velázquez Bosco) that did the Palacio de Cristal, Casón del Buen Retiro,  Palacio de Velázquez. etc. More here:

Do not forget to try the local sweet delicacy or bizcochos borrachos, (liquor soaked cake) at the pastelería Hernando , Calle Mayor, 32; and especially at pasteleria  Guajardo, calle Miguel Fluiters 35, opened in 1880.   another local specialty is the  albóndigas en dulce, (or meatballs in sweet sauce sugary) done with cottage cheese, eggs and sugar. Direction here:

These are my favorite of a wonderful city in Castilla La Mancha region. Guadalajara.

And as Holy Week or Semana Santa is coming, here are some nice ones outside of Andalucía:

Tamborrada de Calanda, Teruel here hundreds of drums and drumming sound off on Holy Friday and Saturday  to put a tragic note on the Holy Week celebration. It is a sounding off noisy promenade in town of old rites  reaching a climax on the hour that Christ died which according to the bible an earthquake shook Jerusalén.  April 15 at 12h midday. More here in Spanish:

Cofradia de la Santa Vera Cruz de los Disciplinantes, La Rioja. The rite of the Los Picaos is a form of penitence very popular all over.  It consist of an self-flagellation of the back by a group of persons as an act of faith and voluntary known as the disciplinarians  by which a hit with a wooden item is done.  The voluntaries need to fulfill these requirements, adults , male, and that a priest attest the fact that they are Christian and of good faith.  At all moment, the anonymous condition of the voluntary is kept. More in Spanish here:

Danza de la Muerte de Verges, Gerona. the only town that preserves the dance of death as celebrating ancient rites of the dead. This dance tells the passage of time where the skeletons dance to the sound of a kettledrum to remember that nobody is exempt to end its days in this world. More in Spanish here:

Los  empalaos de Valverde de la Vera, Càceres,  This is a promise done to God that means the beginning of the Via Cruxis by the streets of the city in which all penitents are anonymous.  On this route the empalao(stiff numb person) walks without shoes with a plow beam on his/her shoulder tied with a cord around his/her chest.  A white blouse cover him/her from the waist down and on the head there a white veil with a crown of thorns. The main moment comes when the procession passes by the crossing of two empalados and kneel as a symbol of respect. More in Spanish here:

Coming along the Holy Week and its delicacies ,here is some more of my beautiful Spain:

Spanish pastry work reaches its highest moment during this period of lent and the chosen sweets are the torrijas, buñuelos, pestiños ,etc, that mound like armories in the window front of many pastry shops to receive the Holy Week.  One such pastry shop very nice and well known by me and many is the La Duquesita at Calle Fernando VI, 2,open from 8h30 to 20h30 (closed Sundays afternoons) ; this is a century old pastry shop in Madrid that is led today by master chocolatier Oriol Balaguer. The main sweets in this period are the Monas de Pascua.

From its beginnings in the 18C this traditional bread has revolutionize until becoming the complex structures of chocolate that follows the children fashion of our time.  Here, it has created a tree of chocolate of more than 1,5 meters done exclusively with black ,white and milk chocolate that dresses one of the windows of La Duquesita.  In Spain, this is a tradition to go to the pastry shop to see the latest creation of the pastry chef.  A month before Holy Week, most pastry shops had a giant piece in their windows. The sculpture rises on a base of chocolate of more than a square meter ,and from its leaves you see beans of different colors surrounded by some Easter eggs that will be on sale in the form of a rooster, fish or clown. You can, also, find these goodies in the Boutique Oriol Balaguer(also in Barcelona) , calle José Ortega y Gasset, 44 where different sizes are on order with different motifs with the main ingredient the Cacao Grand Cru. Oriol Balaguer has created for the La Duquesita two offerings of  torrijas: traditional anisette (4,50€) ,and toasted pastry cream (5€). Both come from a brioche done on site with English cream and sugar. More here:

and his boutiques here:

Now, there you have it, enjoy Spain, everything under the Sun !!! Cheers





March 28, 2017

Some news from France CXLXVII

Hello folks, here I am again on a Tuesday found out will be in Paris early April ::) Here temps are mild but breezy feels cooler at 16C or 61F no rain so good.  For those going to Paris the temps there are the same, and tomorrow will be higher at 67F and no rain cloudy thus.

There is always something happening in my belle France and eternal Paris is the biggest light on Earth!

Talk again on the Grand Paris Express, where is we? On the side of the Metro the project has started even from 2014 when the line 14 was extended and will become the vertebral line of the Grand Paris project. By September 2015 the first tunnel in the direction of Mairie de saint-Ouen was started. The line 15 is on preparatory work, and started digging in early 2017, and by 2016 the works had begun in the Gare de Fort d’Issy-Vanves-Clamart and engineering work in the gare of Noisy-Champs; by 2018 all the station on the line will be in construction.

The lines 14 south and 16 works continue as I write. The line 18 the paperwork requirement has been met, and the line 4 extension south towards Bagneux had begun in 2015, the line will be ready by 2020. The line 12 will, also, be extended towards the north to Aubervilliers by end 2019, and the line 11 towards Rosny-Bois Perrier by end 2022. The work has begun also on lines 11 extension and line 12

On the side of the RER; the line extending the RER E Eole will soon begin and the work should be done by 2022. There is already a new station baptized Rosa Parks opened in December 2015 in Paris that will serve the line between Magenta and Pantin. The work of improvements continues on the lines RER A, B, C and D.

Over the Tramways, the line T5 between Saint-Denis and Sarcelles has opened since 2013, the T6 between Châtillon and Vélizy opened in 2014 (again extended to Viroflay in 2016). The real estate land acquisition is ongoing for the extension of line T1 towards Colombes and the T7 towards Juvisy. The financing of the line T9 between Choisy and Orly are in process of feasibility study.

More info in French here:

And the wine Muscadet costing between 15 and 20 US Dollars or about half the cost of an imported wine in the USA has made a comeback. For its size, the USA is the major drinking wine country in the world! This wine from the Loire not far from me made from white grapes of the melon de Bourgogne variety. Again, the USA remains the biggest market for this type of wine with an export value of 7M€ according to the Fédération des vins de Nantes, and where it represent 17% of the export values of Muscadet. The wine is sold there twice more expensive than here; And 3 States such as Illinois, New York, and California represent 80% of sales. The UK is the first market, Canada the 3rd while the USA is 2nd; more here in French at the Federation site:

The company Protourisme did its survey again of what are the favorite spots for vacation of the French for 2017. First about 42 million of us will go on vacation this year! And of course, we tend to stay in France, bien sûr when you have it oh well (not me I go to Spain lol! The areas of vacation are the Vendée to Pays Basque on the Atlantic coast, all the sud-ouest or southwest; as far as towns Bordeaux is on top follow by the La Rochelle, Carcassonne, and Toulouse. Also, Corsica as far as region with my own Bretagne and the Pyrénées; the basin d’Arcachon as well. As far as beaches the most research are Biarritz, Arcachon, Saint Jean de Luz , Collioure, Saint Tropez, and Cannes.

For a brunch in the 9eme de Paris, try the Café Marlette, 51, rue des Martyrs. Tél. +33(0) 1 48 74 89 73. More here:

For the sweets and things try the all-time favorite Rose Bakery, 46, rue des Martyrs (9eme). Tél +33 (0) 1 42 82 12 80. More here:

For a wonderful pizzas try the Le Bookie 15, rue de Trévise (9eme). Tél +33 (0) 1 47 70 53 38. More here:

And why not a bit of comedy while in the area, at the Le Comedy Club, 42, bd de Bonne-Nouvelle (10eme). Tél. +33(0) 1 73 54 17 00. More here:

The jubilee of “Demoiselles de Rochefort” at the biggest cinema in Europe, the Grand Rex celebrating 50 years of the coming out of the work by Jacques Demy and a concert by Michel Legrand. Grand Rex, (2eme) September 30th and October 1st 2017; 20h and 16h admissions from 39, 50€. More here:

And during the month of April come to the Le Crazy Horse for a selection of great shows of 65 years of glamour in 90 minutes with works by Decouflé, Louboutin, Chantal Thomass, Dita Von Teese, and more. Crazy Horse (8eme) all April 2017. More here:

And there you have it the burger is won by a Parisian! The sandwich with the flavors of Japan can be tasted from April 1 at Goku Asian Canteen (3eme) and W for Wok (10eme) all done with bread on vegetable carbon and white sesame, sauce BBQ with Whisky, mayonnaise, spicy yuzu and Japanese herbs; this is the Black O.G. of Vincent Boccara, winner of the Cup of France of burgers in 2017!. More on the above on culinary sites here:

And the works at the Hôtel de la Marine in the place de la Concorde (8eme) continues. On the 12000 M2 available, half will be preserve for office space and the other half will be open to the public. The building opened in 1774 before a furniture keeper of the crown and for 226 years the site of the French navy HQ. The rooms in renovation will be from the 19C and especially those from the 18C housing the cabinet of mirrors and makeup room of Marie Antoinette never before seen by the general public. A café will open in rdc or street level presenting products of the times such as coffee, tea, chocolates, and wines. At the same level, a restaurant with average prices showcasing the recipes of the French cuisine of the times. On the 1st level or 2nd it will have a room or salon de thé with pastries from the 18C. It is schedule to be open by end 2019. More here:

And too bad for the times we live in but it is catching up to the Tour Eiffel which will be protected. A wall will be installed by the 2nd trimester of 2018 with a bullet proof glass on the two sides given to the Seine River and the avenue Gustave Eiffel. The other two sides where the entries to the tower will be will be dotted with metallic grills doors reproducing the image of the tower and high security. There will be a high security protection with heavy military vehicles on the side of the quai Branly and the avenue Gustave-Eiffel as well as a video protection eyes on the parvis and inside the tower. Info from the mayor’s office of Paris. More here on le Parisian newspaper of Paris just hot off the press:

A personal library of Marcelle Benoît specialist on the French music of the 17C and 18C has given her personal collection of a thousand books to the city of Versailles! The collection will now be house in the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles (CMBV), that is in charge of keeping and teach the musical heritage of the 17C and 18C.  It, also, include a rare Pleyel piano from 1908 completely restored; and a music dictionary by Sébastien de Brossard from 1705 another find, as well as one from Jean-Jacques Rousseau from 1768. Wonderful. It is at this building that the estates generals of France met to write the French constitution, a hugely historical building many times missed by visitors just going to the palace. More here:

And the history of the building Hôtel des Menus Plaisirs is told here in French:

A nice attraction my boys enjoyed while younger is reopening again this season. This is the Attraction park of Mer de Sable (sea of sands). You do well to start your visit by the « Willy West show », the newest spectacle of the park. Admission 22€ this weekend instead of 25€ and less for kids open April 1st to October 31st, more info at official site here:

One nice one that needs to be seen in the chic city by the Seine; the Musée de la Grenouillère – Espace Chanorier, 12 Grande Rue, Croissy sur Seine tel +33 (0) 1 30 53 61 02. Admission 4€ adults. Until December 2017 you see the exposition, ” La Grenouillére aux temps des Impressionnistes” . More on the building   that traces the period of La Grenouillére a floating boat today gone that was in the island or îlot du Camembert. Very popular in the 19C with an countryside, festive ambiance ; it had un guinguette on water or dancing, café, games and cold baths. The artists like Monet and Renoir came here to relax and paint. Today you see engraving, paintings, and object of arts of the period. The boat burned in 1889 and was reopened in 1928. You can take a promenade on the island that has been restored in 1999. More info here:

To end, I almost lived in Croissy sur Seine, had an apartment approved but settle for Versailles instead to be closer to the Royals and the Palace lol! Enjoy the week, yours, mine, ours, end March. Cheers.


March 22, 2017

Some news from France CXLXVI

Hi y’all, here I am back. Today was cloudy windy and cool at low of 8C or about 44F, the rest of the week looks to be the same or worse. And this is Spring time already lol!!!

So I got good news of my international travels as going back to Spain next month and May will be in Poland and Brazil. Now for some news going on in the Belle France!

The return of night racing at the Vincenne racecourse or Vincennes Hippodrome de Paris are back each Tuesdays and Fridays evenings starting today. You will be able to have a dinner at the restaurant Le Panoramique. You can, also, get a tour of the racecourse. More info here :

Shhh from the advise of chef Yves Camdeborge according to interview in the le Figaro newspaper. The chef started at Crillon, then Régalade, and now has around the Odeon that are tops like the Comptoir du Relais.

For a coffee L’Express Bar, 23, rue du Roule (Ieme). Tél.: 01 45  08 11 41.

For a breakfast by the hands Le Servan,  32, rue Saint Maur (11eme). Tél.: 01 55 28 51 82.

For a dinner for two ; Saturne, 17, rue Notre-Dame-des-Victoires (2eme). Tél.: 01 42 60 31 90.

For a last glass of the night Castel15, rue Princesse (6eme). Tél.: 01 40  51 52 80.

For an exceptional dinner  Le Clarence. 31, av. Franklin-Roosevelt (8eme). Tél.: 01 82 82 10 10.

To do your market shopping Place d’Aligre (12eme),

To buy your bread, baguette La Pointe du Grouin, 8, rue de Belzunce (10eme). Tlj. Pas de tél.

To indulge on a sweet dessert Sébastien Dégardin 200, rue Saint-Jacques (5eme). Tél.: 01 43  07 77 59.

Bosquets of the gardens of the Château de Versailles will have several contemporary arts exhibits this year instead of just one as in the past. The work exposed will be in cooperation with the Palais de Tokyo in Paris this coming summer. Stay tune here:

One of the biggest hotels in Paris is undergoing renovation that will keep it minimum load until December 2017. The hotel is visible in the Porte Maillot with its 34 floors and 995 rooms. It was known for a long time under the name of Concorde La Fayette, and it is now under the name Hyatt Regency Paris-Etoile since 2013. Only 193 rooms will be available for reservation and the entry lobby will be located at 62, boulevard Gouvion Saint-Cyr (17eme). OF course the great panoramic bar in the 34st floor will be totally redone as well. See it here:

Initiatives-Coeur , the innovators of the long sailing boat with red and white colors will be at the 1st level of the Tour Eiffel from today. This monocoque of nearly 8 tons and 18 meters long was carried here by a huge towing system of 300 tons capaciy. The sailing boat is dedicated to the campaign for donation and awareness of the association Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque, that allows lesser able children suffering from cardiac problems to be operated in the best condition for free. The boat will be here until May 10. It wil be exposed on the lawn of the Champ-de-Mars to be able to be accessable to all as well taken pictures. There are photos and film on the job done by this boat inside/ A great way to see something nice and do something good for all Children. More here in French;

The porte de Montmartre (18eme), as the local saying goes when you leave Paris by this gate you dont said we passed the péripherique or beltway but rather you say we pass by the Passage-miroir or mirror passage. This is the way to the flea market of Saint Ouen and for many years hosted a clandestine market with about 400-500 biffins or chiffonier ( second hand merchants). From 2009, the mayor’s office of Paris has authorized about 200 of them at this location. They are there Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. They are supervised by the Aurora Association to help the poor. More in French from the Mayor’s office of the 18 arrondissement (district) of Paris here:

world water day, the metro area of Paris or Grand Paris will have ready for bathing the river Marne in 2022 and the Seine in 2024.  There will be a section of about 700 meters on the river Bièvre ,that runs from Antony to Paris and completely covered early in the 20C because of the pollution. It will be clean up by the area near the Parc du Coteau,in the cities of Arcueil and Gentilly by 2020. Bit more here:

The work of the Grand Paris transports hubs is coming along with the Grand Paris Express. It envisions four new stations of automatic metro by 2030 such as lines 15,16,17,and 18 , and four lines will be extended such as line 4 by 2020, Line 11 by 2022, Line 12 by 2019, and line 14 between 2019 and 2024. Are you lost already lol!!! A great interactive map by Les Echos business journal here/

From March 24 to the 26, you will have the occassion to taste many different brews of black coffees that will be offered by the merchants coffeegrinders of the region of Ile-de-France ,and the Oise. There are 42 that will open their doors in the day dedicated to coffees organizing tastings ,shops, and training on coffee grinding with hors d’ouvres.  One of the participant I know from my days in the Yvelines dept 78; this Joris Pfaff, best coffeegrinder of France in 2014 , and Champion of the Expresso black coffee in  2013, that will be there during the event of the  Comité français du café (French Coffee Committee). The business is located in Triel-sur-Seine since 1930.  Today in France there are about  more than 1000  of this artists of the coffee grinding each year becoming better at the trade.  The best or the « Rolls » of this preparations by Pfaff, is the  100 % Geisha  of Colombia, very floral, and cost about  25,90€ , the 250 grams (about 9 ounces).  The cheapest blend he has goes for about  3,90€ for the same quantity ; but we can have pleasure on nice ones from 5-8€. More here:

Places to have a great lunch outdoors in Paris/ Some of my favorites are :

The jardin de l’Arsenal by the water with shade and sunny spots linking to the Canal Saint-Martin to the Seine river. Always great to have an apéro drink on the banks of the canal Saint-Martin and Canal de l’Ourq. There are plenty of bars and restos very nice there such as the Okay Café, Point Éphémère, Marcel, etc etc.

We can taste the oysters on the lawn by the level of the bridge or pont Louis-Philippe on the road voie Georges Pompidou, it is now pedestrian and cost 14€ for 12 oysters not bad for the location ! You can sit at the end of the island or île Saint-Louis, under the quai de Bourbon facing the Hôtel de Ville.

At the end of the rue de l’Abreuvoir and the rue Girardon, next to the château des Brouillards,few steps from the house of Dalida in the rue d’Orchampt, place Dalida has a nice bust of her with a view towards the Sacré-Cœur to drop for sublime. !

In the heights of the parc de Belleville you have a great view of all Paris. Regular musical events are organize there on Saturdays, and a great bakery up the steps!

In the parc de la Villette at the end of the Canal de l’Ourcq this is quiet sublime and nice spots hidden sometimes and layout gardens along it without getting wet. Also at the Vignes Montmartre, a little square facing the vines very nice and cute ,good for a date ,romantic interlude at the Rue des Saules. The jardin des Rosiers in the square des Francs Bourgeois a little haven of peace and calm right between three mansions, and a garden here to see Paris. Not the closest to inner Paris but less frequented as well with nice architecture of the bridges and stairs you see it by the Allée des Cygnes 15eme.

This is Paris always eternal, and it is in la belle France, where else ! Cheers

And update do not want to wait for next time so here are the latest from la Belle France, and thanks for stopping by.

Welcome to the Duty Free of Galeries Lafayette recently opened at 21 , boulevard Haussmann (9eme). It is located at the old stores of Surcouf and the la Halle, and the façade is typical of the department store with the name « Shopping & Welcome Center ». A complete center dedicated to the Chinese visitors that represent about 25% of total sales of the store or about 2B€., with an average purchase of 1400€ per visitor.  This shopping space of 4 200 m2 will be in two levels renovated by the Architect Ora-ïto. It offers the articles preferred by the Chinese from leather goods jewelry, sun glasses, deluxe pens all on the street level, and on the basement beauty, parapharmacy, groceries, tea, caviar, wine and liquors, kitchen accessories, and gifts

The spectacles hall of the Bal Blomet (ex-bal nègre), mythical place of the folly years will re-open this week at 33, rue Blomet  (15eme). The name will simply be the Bal de la rue Blomet. Every Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays you will have shows on cabaret, musical comedy, jazz, and classical music. A space for 70 tables will be available for dining. The shows will cost between 10-20€. More information at Tel +33 (0) 1 44 93 00 27 or

And taking from my coffee talk above, where to drink a good black express coffee in Paris, here are some nice ones :

Araku Coffee : 14 rue de Bretagne ,3eme, from 11,50€ the 200 grams or about 7 ounces

Belleville Brûlerie : 10 rue Pradier ,19eme, from 13,50€ the 300 grams or about 11 ounces

Les cafés Pfaff (see previous post in my blog) 6 rue Sauval ,1eme , from 3,90€ the 250 grams or about 9 ounces

Télescope café : 5 rue Villedo, 1eme from 2,50expressos

If you want to know where to find flea markets and garage sales etc, the best sit that I use is , with dates of events a month in advance.

The 2017 edition of the faire of trones or Foire du Trône will start on March 31st at 18h30. You paid 25€ and can use all the rides inside. The proceeds will be renverse on the association Petits Princes. It will be on the lawn of Reuilly at the entrance to the Bois de Vincennes (11eme). They will have about 350 rides ,stands and restaurants. The star attraction will be the  «sky fall»  that can give you a free fall from 80 meters. Many more on site you can see on the webpage below.  The fair will then be open every day from midday to midnight (1h am on Saturdays and eve of Holidays) until May 28 2017. More here:  Tickets and deals on entrance can be had here in French:

See you around ::)

March 20, 2017

Some news from Spain ,XXXVIIII

The week starts and my enthusiasm for the blog grows , here I am again ::)  In Madrid it is about 71F or 20C in evening and tomorrow it is expected sun going up sort of and 66F or about 15C.  You have a nice week ahead .

As usual many things happening in Madrid and other cities; I am so excited to tell you about the movement now Fallas in Valencia and the great painter native of Valencia Joaquin Sorolla.

Joaquín Sorolla  love so much his native land that end up creating a small Valencia on the street Calle Martínez Campos in Madrid, today ,it is his museum. More on that museum here :

By the city hall square or Plaza del Ayuntamiento, is the heart of the Falla festivities and open to all ; the  Fallera Mayor, who is in charge of given order so it begins the Cremà or burnings.  This is the place as well where you see the loud and explosive mascletás; concert of firecrackers! Just to make a point , I am a bit late this year on it as it is over this past weekend. The official page for this event is here in English :

While in the above square see the splendid Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas ; that today is the museum of Museo Nacional de Céramica Gonzalez Martî. More on the museum in Spanish here:

Close by you see the Church or Iglesia de San Martín , where he married Clotilde. You cross the street of calle San Vicente Mártir,and you are by the street calle Mantas. Here at No 8 there is a plaque indicating where he was born. He was baptized in the Church or Iglesia de Santa Catalina, just behind the nice round square or Plaza Redonda.  When his parents died in 1865, he is left orphan and there are folks who took him and his sister ,uncles that lived in street or  calle Don Juan de Austria,20; today it is the house of the region of Aragon or Casa de Aragón ; close by the school or Escuela de Artesanos de Valencia , where he began to paint.  His first studio was closer to the hotel at  calle San Martín, 9. Here he began to paint his city, Valencia.

One of the first to be painted was the Cathedral , discovering inside renaissance paintings that he did not even knew as well as mysterious crypts and underground tunnels that had access by the museum. More on the Cathedral here:

The house of a Saint very closely linked to Vannes in the Morbihan Breton where I live as he evangelise this area by 1419 thereabout and his body lies in the Cathedral St Pierre et St Paul at Vannes , France. Here we talk about the La Casa de San Vicente Ferrer, where it has works by Sorolla such as the  Ex voto y Pouet; you come across the building call Lonja where you will see further paintings of the master at the door, and stairs. He, also painted the Church or Iglesia de los Santos Juanes, whose interior damaged during the Civil War still can be seen ; better faith took the Church of Iglesia de  San Nicolás  that only needed to be clean to show all it’s splendor as we see it today. More on the house of Saint Vicente Ferrer here in Spanish:

You continue tracing his footsteps at the College or Colegio del Arte Mayor de la Seda, one of the most emblematic buildings of Valencia from its golden age. More on it here:

Near the college is worth visiting the center or Centro de la Artesania de la Comunidad Valenciana that is the guardian of old traditions and its personages.  All agree that Sorolla  wanted to teach at the school or Escuela de Bellas Artes where he studied, and today it is the Center or Centro de Exposiciones del Carmen, in a wonderful district that has not change at all.  More of it in Spanish here:

You should not missed the new IVAM or Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno dedicated to the maestro Ignacio Pinazo, in the room where the remains of the medieval ramparts were found. More of it here:

Close by to the above you will find the house or museum of a friend of Sorolla, José Benliure, maybe the best kept secret of Valencia.  Here is a bust that made the friendship of his friend by  Mariano Benliure in the city museum or Museo de la Ciudad  that occupies the old palace or Palacio del Marqués de Campo, or the ninot indultado that represent it on the museum or Museo Fallero that occupies the old convent of the house of  San Vicente de Paül.  To see more of his works you need to cross the river by the bridge or Puente del Mar that you can see in one of his paintings at the museum or Museo de Bellas Artes. Here, it is recreated a museum within a museum showing 57 of his works.

Some links for the above in order here:

It is worth seeing the nice collection of sculptures in the Vale Mariano Benliure.  More here:

A visit to the beach or playa de la Malvarrosa en el Cabanyal is wonderful. More here:

From this beach came out the best works and was the last he saw on this trip after suffering from an attack of apoplexy in 1920.  Close by is the square or Plaza de la Armada Española you have the monument that the city has erected on his honor.  A nice webpage here on Valencia and the bust here:

You won’t be far from the museum of another great friend of Sorolla, this is Vicente Blasco Ibañez, that this year we are celebrating 150 years of his birth; more info here:

At the beach hotel of Hotel Las Arenas  opened in 1838  that he knew very well and it shows one of his original paintings in the main dining room. More here:

And we reach the end of this wonderful trip on Joaquin Sorolla, one of my favorite painters and had visited his museum in Madrid as well as walk and or visit some of the places above on my visits to Valencia; you are encourage to do the same.

Now some tips on bars tabernas to have a glass of Sherry or Jerez in Madrid; of course only my favorites. These are:

Casa Baranda , Calle Colón, 11 , Tel +34  615 374 999 , it does not closed and no credit cards accepted.

Lambuzo  ,Calle Conchas, 9; Calle Ponzano, 8 ,and Calle  Alonso Cano, 10; Tel +34 91 143 48 62, 91 513 80 59/ 810 520 818. Closed Sundays nights and Mondays.

Palo Cortado , Calle Unión, 5; tel +34 91 547 25 00. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

El Quinto Vino , Calle Hernani, 48 ; Tel +34 91 553 66 00. Closed Sunday nights and Mondays.

Zahara de Osborne,  Plaza de Santa Ana, 1. Tel +34 91 522 63 64; does not closed.

La Venencia , Calle Echegaray, 7 . Tel +34 91 429 73 13. Does not closed.  One of the classic taverns of Madrid with a great selection of  fino, amontillado, palo cortado, etc. No web but a nice write up on this site:

Bodega and club Los Generosos , located inside the wine store  Reserva y Cata (Calle Conde de Xiquena, 13), this is an association of 12 persons that are aficionados of Jerez . If you have time contact  Luis Vida ;Tel +34  617 737 967 for a trip. Their blog is here:

And the wine store Reserva y Cata ,one of my favorites in Madrid is here:

You have a family and visiting Madrid then you must visit Parque Warner. Already open for business and celebrating 15 years to have parties with all the family and many nice rides. You will be met by Bugs Bunny and Pato Lucas (duck lucas) with music and dance routines. Here the musical Rock of Ages like a broadway show with rock’n’roll and the wild west awaits you with ballerinas of Can Can show style; and the kiddies will chose the winner of the dance of the Looney tunes. Big dance festival and choreograph routines on the streets of the park. There is the big Hollywood boulevard with the wildest gangsters of the west in the Warner Bros Studios showing 3-D movies such as  «La LEGO film» , and «San Andrés». You will see spectacles such as the Loca Academia de Policia, with new vehicles and acrobats and the Gotham City Streetmosphere Show, that shows a fight between Batman and the Joker.

You will see stars of more than 30 personages where Parque Warner is the only one in Europe where you can get to know them and share moments. The superheroes such as Superman, Batman, green flashlight, Flash ,and Wonder Woman, as the justice league or La liga de la Justicia, and the Joker, Robin ,and Catwoman, that will be in the streets of Gotham City. As well as cartoons such as Bugs and Lola Bunny, Pato Lucas, Piolín,and  Silvestre, Oso Yogui (yogy bear)  Boo-Boo, Coyote,and Correcaminos, Sam Bigotes, Los Picapiedra (flinstones), Scooby Doo, etc etc. The end of the party is with the Celebration Parade 15th Anniversary, an impressive parade to celebrate the 15 anniversary of the park with all its personages, vehicles, and theme carriages on the streets. More here:

The Council of Ministers of the government has named the replacement for the director of the Prado museum. The new director will be Miguel Falomir Faus (Valencia, 1966),is a  doctor of History of Arts and Professor of the University of Valencia was since 1997 department head of the Italian paintings of the renaissance and from 2015 adjoint director of conservation and investigation of the museum. He is internationally recognize as been from 2008 to 2010, as Andrew Mellon Professor of CASVA (Center on Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts de la National Gallery de Washington). He is now finishing the catalog edition of  Tiziano en el Prado ,and for the last two years he directed the conservation areas of the museum located in the Centro de Estudios of the Casón del Buen Retiro. More here in Spanish:

You can see the theatrical musical of the film Dirty Dancing  playing until June 4 2017 at the Nuevo Teatro Alcalà, Sala 1, at Calle Jorge Juan, 62. Playing Fridays , Saturdays, Sundays from 18h to 22h. Mondays at 18hn Wednesdays and Thursdays 20h30; admission 18€. Been played by  Amanda Digón, Christian Sánchez, and Fanny Corral. More here:

Great concert by an up and coming Spanish singer from Malaga that I like a lot. Showcasing her latest release “Munay”, Vanesa Martin will be September 16 2017 at the plaza de Toros Monumental de las Ventas, Calle Alcalà 337; 22h admissions from 20-35€. More here !

You got it , it’s Spain ,everything under the Sun. Have a great week y’all. Cheers


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March 19, 2017

Some news from France , CXLXV

Finished Sunday and nice mild weather of 12C or about 55F in Breton lands and about the same in Paris with no rain in sight. Just picking up some nice things to see and do coming up in France and especially in Paris.

At the route de Suresnes (16éme),my previous passing route into the town of Suresnes and Paris by the Bois de Boulogne you find the domaine de Longchamp, a white castle building that many people would ask what is it? Well ,it does not matter, the truth is it has become after a long renovation the home of the fondation GoodPlanet.  Led by  Yann Arthus-Bertrand, from May 13-14 all the weekends they will have talks and exhibits on ecology, environment, and generosity with the great photographer. On its first exposition it will be presented the inedict images of Human, a video portrait of humanity done in 60 countries. More here in English:

Already since today Sunday 19 March, the department store le Bon Marché (and its Grande Epicerie) will open 7/7 ! After doing so the BHV ,and the Galeries Lafayette,it’s the turn of the le Bon Marché. This ,already has created 150 jobs both permanent and temporary!! Good going; see the stores here:

The recently designated “ ZTI” zones or  zones touristiques internationals in Paris. They are in 12 areas such as the Champs-Elysées Montaigne, Haussmann, Le Marais, les Halles, Maillot-Ternes, Montmartre, Olympiades, Rennes/Saint-Sulpice, Saint-Emilion-Bibliothèque, Saint-Honoré/Vendôme, Saint-Germain, and Beaugrenelle.  Also, they are in Cannes, Nice, and Deauville. More here in French from govt source ; where it says “Cartes des 12 ZTI à Paris, you can click and a map of the areas will show.

The famous passe Navigo is evolving a lot since I used to use it while working in Paris. Already from January you can use the navette on the river Seine, such as Batobus:

Also, from mid April you will be able to use the Navigo Pass for auto rental libre service as  Autolib’ at :

It ,also, will serve to use on the Vélib bike service and on the electronic tickets for the train Thalys.    ; and

The impressionist painter Camille Pissarro has a nice museum that has recently been renovated in Pontoise. After 6 months of work, it has reopened with new rooms of exposition in the street level floor to allow works of arts to be shown in 250 sq meters of space.  The museum was opened in 1980, and now it is more accessable and practical.  You are , also, able to see works from his sons  Lucien, Georges ,and Ludovic-Rodo, but ,also, of Daubigny, Guillaumin, Signac, Hayet, Piette, Cézanne, Caillebotte, Goenette, and Luce. From today to June 11 you will be able to see an exposition on Camille Pissarro of old and new works shown.  The location is 17, rue du Château, 95300 Pontoise . From Paris you can take the RER C to Pontoise and the museum is walking distance from the station,also in regular trains from Gare du Nord and Saint Lazare stations. More here:|MoCulturePatrimoine|CulturePatrimoine|ComPlusAlpha||-TT&tfo[page]=54#.WM7bFVU1_IU

For something unique and historical of France, go see the Société Faure at La  Croix-Saint-Ouen to see the horseshoe making history of the only remaining maker in France today. The firm was established in 1910, and you can reach it by train from Paris Gare du Nord station to Compiegne station than taxi to the firm only about 5 kms. More here:

I come back to the arts, on American painter Joe Bradley. Since the Biennal of Whitney in 2008, he does not stop breaking prices record reaching sometimes the million USDollars. The Fundacion Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte (Faba), will open the château de Boisgeloup for the first time to the public in April and May to invite the painter born in Maine in 1975 to expose his work in the sculpture shops of Picasso!! A great gift to this graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design of Providence. At this place about 100 years after the meeting of Minotaure and the ballerina Olga Khokhlova,celebrated at the Musée Picasso. More info here:

More on the castle of Boisgeloup and Picasso, here:

You can reach Gisors from gare Saint Lazare in Paris by train and then taxi to the castle above mentioned or the car of course, but I put public transport as most folks coming here use it instead of the car, which to me is always better but… If you need driving guidance to any of these places let me know.

The wonderful Musée d’Orsay is coming back for the night owls lovers. For the 4th time this old train station will revert on the fall of night into a promenade where paintings, music,and poetry will be mix. You have Thursday March 23 from 18h to 23h to do this. You will be in the middle of the exposition “Au delà des étoiles. Le paysage mystique de Monet à Kandinsky” And ” Curieuse nocturne Au delà des étoiles”.  night owl admission price of 9€ and free for those under 26. Info at tel +33 (0) 1 53 63 04 63 of course the exposition will regularly run to June 11. More general info here:

And a great event , great year on Rodin, his greatest work the Le Penseur in 1906 was put in front of the Panthéon, later transferred in 1922 to the Hôtel Biron that itself was opened in 1919.The majority of his work was shown here. However, walking the streets of Paris you can find many of his work.  Please ,note this event, ” Rodin, l’exposition du centenaire au Grand Palais”, until July 31 2017. Wednesdays to Mondays from 10h to 20h, night times on Wednesdays, Fridays,and Saturdays until 22h. More here:

Now, I will tell you where you can find some of his work in Paris.

You come to the Théâtre des Gobelins at 73 avenue des Gobelins (13éme) that now houses the Fondation Jerome Seydoux-Pathé. The bas-reliefs of the théâtre des Champs-Elysées (8éme) were done by Antoine Bourdelle. The group of cariatides in the Théâtre de la Renaissance (10éme) are the work of Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse. At the metro station Varenne, line 13 where there is the Musée Rodin, located at 79 rue de Varenne (7éme). The work of the  L’Âge d’Airain at Place Rodin (16éme); the bronze made a scandal in 1877 because Rodin had insinuated the mold was that of his face. Another mold is at the courtyard of the high school or Lycée Rodin (13éme). The work the  Ève, L’Ombre et La Méditation  is at the Jardin des Tuileries all three statues near the Musée de l’Orangerie. The statue of Honoré de Balzac at Boulevard Raspail since 1939, this monument to Balzac is on the spot by boulevard Raspail near the Carrefour Vavin. Another version of it is seen in the garden of the Musée Rodin.  The statue of  Victor Hugo , is at the angle of avenue Henri-Martin and Victor Hugo (16éme), this was initially ordered for the Panthéon. Instead another one was chosen by Rodin where the writer is surrounded by three muses. The stele block of César Franck was done for his grave at the Cementary of Montparnasse, the musician dead in 1890 was honored by Auguste Rodin with a medallion in haut relief.

Some links for the above places here:

Theater of the Gobelins no longer exist but the work is still there:

Indeed gorgeous to visit even just for the theater of Champs-Elysées :

The theater of the Renaissance here:

metro Varenne and Musée Rodin,

high school or Lycée Rodin here :

Jardin des Tuileries statues of Rodin, good site:

Rodin of Balzac,

Rodin of Victor Hugo, (French) ;

tomb César Franck, in French cementary of Montparnasse:

Enjoy your week, y’all ::)  and remember life is beautiful; la vie est belle, or la vida es chula or even la dolce vita !!!


March 14, 2017

Some news from Spain ,XXXVIII

Ok so far away in Breton lands here is my latest on my beloved Spain, here it is 13C or about 59F while in Madrid it is now about 62F or 14C.  We have cloudy skies and dark days no sun, no rain. Same in Madrid but tomorrow should be better.

Some ideas to get away for Father’s Day in Spain : You go to Consuegra (of Quijote windmill fame) where you have the Casa Rural El Retiro de La Mancha, a great complex for a great weekend. It has many gastronomic offers and guided visits to the castle or Castillo de la Muela. More information here:

Another is the Casa Rural Juliana, province of Cuenca . Here you will learn about the wonderful olive virgin oil and the honey of  Alcarria. You can go on the route of Olives of the Mancha and Colmenas with tasting of olive oils and honeys.  You can do ,also,  a guided visit to the famous monastery or Monasterio de Uclés. Something I will do next summer. I will be in another house nearby but this one is a good one too.

And why not visit a traditional Galician winery in Castro Rei, of the denomination of D.O. Ribeiro, where they will explain the process and processing the wine as well as tastings .  Also, there is a thermal spa in  Termas de Prexigueiro with pools of hot natural water treatment with vinotherapy, partial message. More information here:

And on one we visit last summer and post here in Chinchon you have the Hotel Rural La Graja. It has a thermal circuit of one hour and a message of 30 minutes. At night, you have a gourmet tasting in a nearby restaurant. You can have more information here:

And on the balnearia Parque de Alceda in Cantabria you have a place to relax with great local cuisine. It has outdoor thermal pools with the water coming from a spring at 26C or about 78F. A great getaway place ;more info here:

We continue on the world of Arts and culture by visiting the museum or Museo Guggenheim of  Bilbao; tourist bus to see the city in one shot. See the museum here:

And why not another wonders in a lovely city , visit the Hotel Rural las Treixas in Zamora. It is at the Puebla de Sanabria, a rural hotel to relax in style. They offer anti stress treatment with the best gastronomy of the region. More info here:

More in arts see Faces a showing of more than 50 photographs in black and white of movie director Isabel Coixet done from her 22 movies. This expo is free until June 30th in the Espacio Cultural La Térmica, avenida de los Guindos, 48 Malaga. It has shots from artists like Time Robbins , Juliette Binoche, Rinko Kikuchi or Candela Peña. You can see the passion of the moviemaker for the publicity world, expressive of the human body and the photography. More here :

And we are back in Madrid ,where  Alberto Álvaro  traces the places of Madrid walking and photographing in the Barrio de las Letras, Malasaña or Lavapiés districts. Walking by with the small of freshly baked bread and seafood in all the places of a  bygone era. My Madrid. He once walked by the street Calle de Echegaray and took aim at the small businesses of Madrid  to have them in photos.  Two years and hundreds of instant photos with all label and square format he present it in an expo call Reliquias de Madrid or Madrid relics. He has taken seafood stores,restos, bakeries, chicken fast food ,steakhouses and even videoclubs taken you to the nostalgia and memories . He tells the story of walking by street or calle de los Tres Peces ,and feeling like seeing a scene from a movie. There he found three relics , one printing store, shoe store, and creamery store that are not longer there. More here:

You run to the Círculo de Bellas Artes and see the work of Francis Bacon with more than 100 works on paper by the artist coming from a collection of more than 600 drawings of Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino, partner of the artist for many years that are put together in the Francis Bacon Collection of the Drawings Donated to Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino. They all belong to the last decade of the artist painter, including the parents of  Velázquez, clergy portraits, auto portraits and those of friends ,and images of his eternal obsession, such as cruxifiction, addomens, heads etc to put the figure into a space.  The expo is “En Francis Bacon. La cuestión del dibujo”, there are works in black and white to rend homage to Van Gogh, atelier shops of  Guercino or Leonardo Da Vinci,  more auto portraits, and painting of his friends, etc . Circulo de Bellas Artes, Calle Marqués de Casa Riera 2, showing until May 21 2017. More info here:

One of Madrid best icon cafés closed since last July is making a comeback under new ownership. This is one of my favorite and we discussed with friends there its closing so sad, now I am thrilled to read and tell you that from March 21st it will be open again! Café Comercial part now of the Grupo Escondite who also owns Lady Madonna, El Escondite de Villanueva ,and Bárbara Ann. The Café Comercial in the Glorieta de Bilbao is 130 years old founded in 1887 with the name El Comercial, giving light to the novel “La Colmena”,  of the Nobel prize winner Camilo José Cela, and here many famous came to meet such as the writers  Antonio Machado, Enrique Jardiel Poncela, Rafael Azcona ,and Rafael Sánchez-Ferlosio. Be there from March 21 I will be back in summer.

Flamenco the history of the jonda culture is having a show in the Biblioteca Nacional or national library . You will see 150 works coming from the  Biblioteca Nacional de España ,and Museo Reina Sofía, Museo Picasso de Barcelona, the Fundación Cante de las Minas de la Unión and many private collections.  A trip thru 400 years with books, manuscripts, recordings, drawings and paintings as well as fragments from film, photographs and record label covers as well as posters ! It will show one of the earliest manifestation of flamenco in work like the La Gitanillla of Cervantes or stamp paintings such as El Vito of  Goya, to arrive of the films of Saura, etc. Literature and books , newspapers articles from Chaves Nogales, Gómez de la Serna, Caballero Bonald or Félix Grande, and movies from directors Val Del Omar, Rovira Beleta, Serrano de Osma, Carlos Saura,and Tony Gatlif, capturing artists like Carmen Amaya, Antonio El Bailarín, La Paquera ,and Enrique El Cojo. Until May 2nd, more info here:

The cycle Andalucía Flamenca is in vogue in Madrid.  You can still catch up with Rocio Marquez March 17, Marina Heredia y Dorantes ,April 21st on the camara room and on May 7 in the sinfonia room Arcangel with Miguel Poveda, Estrella Morente and Manolo Sanlùcar. More here:

How about Charles III king Carlos III; in his 300 year anniversary of his birth. In the museum of history you will see over 200 pieces part of the collection of the city of Madrid,  Museo del Prado,National Heritage, National library ,and the museum of natural sciences or Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, this in addition to those already exhibit at the Museo de historia,which is in the former hospice of San Fernando, calle Fuencarral,78 : more info here:

 The XXXIV del Festival de Otoño a Primavera de la Comunidad de Madrid or the fall to spring festival of the Community of Madrid is on. You have the calendar from March onwards here:

Big sporting events coming up such my better ones of Real Madrid FC (my team OK).  Real Madrid vs Barcelona European league game admission from 35€ on March 27 at Wizink Center, more info here:

The Madrid half marathon is back; April 2nd and will be run from Paseo del Prado (between Neptuno and Atocha),and finish line at the Paseo de coches in the parque de El Retiro. More info here:

Then, you have the match between Real Madrid FC and Atlético de Madrid (the derby) on April 9 in the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. A game part of the Liga Santander, 1st division football/soccer in Spain. More here:

And the El Clàsico game of the liga Santander between Real Madrid FC vs Barcelona on April 23rd  at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Another angle from the tourist office of Madrid and more info here:

Then, we have Heroes Manga festival as well lol! At the Feria de Madrid complex will have the XVI edition of the Salón del Manga y la Cultura Oriental; at this edition it change its name to Héroes Manga Madrid (before it was  Expomanga),a must for all lovers of illustrated stories from Japanese origins. On April 22-23 2017 and more info here:

I love the Feria del Libro de Madrid  (book fair of Madrid) and this year is no exception. A must for all readers abound on earth.  From May 26 to June 11, 2017. Since 1933 in the Paseo de Recoletos, and my parking is just off Cibeles lol! Then, it was moved to the bigger Retiro park . The coming one will the 76 edition and will have about 365 chalets and 480 exposing members amongst them, official organisms, distributors, specialist bookman, general libraries, editors from Madrid and beyond. From 1982, the event is call as today the Feria del Libro de Madrid and always opens up with a member of the Royal family walk in the morning. More info here:

And another big event in Madrid as anywhere in Spain is the Holy Week or Semana Santa. This year from April 9 to 16. marching virgins and saints on the streets of Madrid with drums and trumpets with a sacred song. And time to taste those Torrijas! More info from tourist office and official web of the event here:

The next one is wonderful and roots of Madrid, the Fiestas San Isidro from May 12-15, the castizo soul and the spirit of Madrid come together each year to honor the city Patron Saint. Again more here from the tourist office and webpage of official event here:

In my time there I always enjoy these festivities and lucky to be there again in summers and the next. The zarzuelas or operettas or feast of San Cayetano, San Lorenzo, and my favorite the Paloma  are held from August 5-16 this year. This is the history of Madrid by its Verbenas.  This is the theater presentation of la Verbena de la Paloma,

And on the Summer feast here:

And do you know we are celebrating 400 years history of the Plaza Mayor of Madrid all year long!  It is a huge program with its own webpage in Spanish here;

The  above will be huge so much schedule will take a blog of its own to tell you.  The tourist office of Madrid has plenty in English here:

Some in the area of Plaza Mayor even older you ask, well there is. Here are some: the oldest business is not far, just at Calle Mayor ,59, call the Antigua Farmacia de la Reina Madre founded in 1587 by a Venecian chemist with fame as he provided medicines to king François I of France while prisoner in the tower or Torre de los Lujanes in the Plaza de la Villa. The original was in the Calle Sacramento in 1914 when it was translated to the current place with structure, furniture and medicines and all! More here:

While it is call the Posada del Peine ? because it was a gift that offer the proprietor to their guest , a comb=peine and posada a hotel type. It was given tied up to a cord in the bathroom so it will not be taken from the room.  Those that walked by the street Calle de Postas, next to the Plaza Mayor, will have notice the beautiful façade that you see today in the modern hotel of the chain Petit Palace that opened in 2006 at the same spot that one day occupied the Posada del Peine that worked as one from 1610 to 1960! More here:

And we have more, that are from about the same age as the Plaza Mayor. these are the Posada de la Villa in Cava Baja, 9  that opens by 1642 where it was a windmill once of flour,the only one in the city. It welcome all visitors to the city and today serve an excellent roasted lamb in wood oven! More here:

The other place and one of my favorite corners in Madrid is the Libreria San Ginés , attach to the Church of same name next to street Calle Arenal at Pasadizo de San Gines, 2 (and you know what’s on that street too ::). It’s origins go back to 1650 when Diego Logrono worked as a librarian. Here, you will find old books and used, with post cards, posters etc. You can take a picture with its stalls outside; and you too can come up with stories like mine. More here:

And that is all folks, Spain is everything under the Sun! Enjoy your week. Cheers!


March 12, 2017

Some news from France CXLXIIII

And after a huge rain deluge in the morning, the calm has come back but still cloudy and 15C or about 64F. This is family Sunday ,and we are having some goodies with northern France beers….

Some of the latest from France, and especially Paris are here:

The mayor of Paris ,Anne Hidalgo announce the arrival of an extra 100 agents to enforce the cleanliness of the city in addition to the  260 agents already hired since  2014».  There in all categories from cleaners sweepers drivers supervisors etc. It will have about 7000 persons by years end; a very nice budget. In addition, the number of inspectors will increase by 50% from now to the summer of 2018 to fight against the incivilities. More order in the streets and more respect for all. It already has 1900 agents and by January 1 2018 will have 1500 more. Also, a budget of 1,5 million euros to   the ratting of Paris so that the rodents do no make their return already infesting many parks and gardens in the city.

The fashion weeks started January 5 by the Mens,followed by the costumes, and the female fashions of fall winter 2017 the fashion weeks ended in Paris on March 7 .More than 600 passarelles from New York to Paris by way of London and Milan, the question is what is the purpose?  The industry has a lot of glamour but less sales and the ones that are going up are the super expensive collection for the rich. Thoughts.

And more fashion why not from the Great Cristobal Balenciaga, at the Musée Bourdelle, Palais Galliera. Entitled “ Balenciaga l’oeuvre au noir” , over 100 customes in black shown until July 16. This will follow «  Costumes Espagnols entre ombre et lumiére » at the Maison Victor Hugo (21 june – 24 september 2017) , and will close out with “Mariano Fortuny” at the Palais Galliera (4 october 2017 – 7 january 2018). More here:

The inmortal opera Carmen of Bizet will come to Opera Bastille on a play done by Calixto Bieito from now to April 14’ and then again from June 13 to July 16 2017.

The celebration of the 40 years of the Centre Pompidou de Paris is not just been held in Paris but in Seine-et-Marne dept 77. At the La Ferme du Buisson ,Centre Photographique d’île de France,and the parc Culturel de Rentilly. The film by Rossellini as the center piece. The activities will be open to the public Wednesdasy to Sundays from 14h to 19h30 The presentation is running from now to July 16 with the following schedule: vernissage Saturday March 11, there is a navette bus with reservation at 11h15 from Place du Châtelet Paris. At 12h le chateau, parc culturel de Rentilly, at Bussy Saint Martin 14h30 Centre photographique d’île de France at Pontault-Combault ; 16h30 La Ferme de Buisson ,Noisiel, 18H projection of the film by Rossellini in a big screen and 19h30 return navette bus to Paris . The transportation between the sites will be done by réservations Tle +33 (0) 1 53 34 64 43 or email More here in English:

An incourtanable place for me and my other half is to the Epicerie du Bon Marché department store. Completely remodelled in 2013 and now open on Sundays from 10h to 20H !!! A Paris must for all. Until March 26 you have the 3 days of TBM  with 30% discounts on many items;too bad I am now so far !More here:

March 17-19 there is the Hérmes show jumping international CSI 5 at the Grand Palais, the best of horse jumping in the capital. This is Hérmes sponsored event. More here:

The fireman are honoured in Paris, celebrating the 50th anniversary of founding the brigade in paris; this is showing at the Hôtel de ville or city/town hall of Paris.  It became an unit in the 19C  under the leadership of Napoléon Ier.  By an Imperial decree he lent this job to a group of military personnel, creating the Battalion, later a regiment in 1867 and finally a brigade of volunteers in March 1st 1967. Until April 29, Mondays to Saturdays from 10h to 18h30  in the Salle des Prévôts Tapisseries.  More here:

The “Printemps des Poètes” is on until March 19 in Paris. This 19th edition will make in evidence the work of Léopold Sedar Senghor and Tchicaya U Tam si. At the Bibliothéque de l’Arsenal, 1 rue de Sully , Paris 4 ; more here in French :

The inescapable Chatou fair returns for its 94th edition on the island of the impressionists! The fans of flea market ,antique, art of the 20C, and local produce will end up in this bucolic setting around 500 merchants from antique dealers, second hand dealers, jewerlers and art galleries.  This year the theme will be French style Napoléon III furniture to designs of Pompidou . On the boulevard Voltaire a small fair within a fair with hams and suckling roasted pigs roasted on the spot , pata negra, and ducks . Until March 19 from 10h to 19h admission 6€  free navette from the station gare of Rueil Malmaison. More here:

It will be a long March awaiting Spring on March 20th, and the changing of the clock here on March 26th. Hoping for better weather, and our vacation times in summer and Christmas all taken care of. Enjoy your week wherever you are in our beautiful world. Cheers!





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