Archive for June 28th, 2017

June 28, 2017

A love affair with Madrid

Madrid is big on my map, once bitten it is very hard to forget. There is a saying in town, that said, From Madrid to heaven, and a hole in the sky to look down on it everyday! I am always looking at it from wherever I am.

I have written many posts on it here in my blog, just search Madrid and you know what I mean. However, today ,I will tell you about a book; yes a book about Madrid that made me think of how wonderful this city is and how lucky that I found it and also to read the book and exchange notes with the book writer.

The book is titled: A Load of Bull: An Englishman’s Adventures in Madrid; written by Tim Parfitt on Pan MacMillan Publishers London ISBN 978-1-4050-4619-0 year 2006.

It’s the real story of Tim Parfitt who in the 1980’s was given the task to start the publication of Vogue and later GQ Spain. He was working for Conde Nast in London and got a 6 weeks assignment in Madrid. This 6 weeks turn into 9 years and during this time he discovered the real Spain. “there wasn’t any other type of Spain, was there?” But there was, “there was Madrid”

He goes on to tell his story from his arrival in Madrid in January 31 1988 at the tender age of 27.His office was by the Plaza de España.

I am not going to tell you the whole book, if you like Spain and Madrid specially then it is a require reading.

He goes on to mention many of the places I went as a teen living in Madrid ,I arrived December 30 1971. Here is my first entry on Madrid about me there , a bit….

Some of these places still memorable for me and always seems to stop by either going in or just passing by again for the memories, the first that comes to mind is the Gran Café de Gijon:

He went on to Riofrio under the Centro Colon ,now gone:

He talks about his life there and the struggle with the Spanish language (poor guy not my case) ; the funny translation and the nuances of Spanish street naming.  Speaking of the Plaza de Cibeles and Paseo de Recoletos, the communication palace then now palace of Cibeles  passing under the Puerta de Alcalà where the Cafeteria Simpatia was now, also, closed….

At the corner of Calle Serrano and Calle de Recoletos was the Vogue building at No 4 Izda (izquierda=left). And where the welcome to Madrid was “where 8pm means 10 pm”!

Where he tried his first dish of testicles or Criadillas! where he assembled his team of collaborators.  Vogue magazine was created in the USA in 1892, then UK in 1916, France, 1921, Australia 1959, Italy 1965, Brazil 1975 Germany 1979 and now Spain in 1988!!!

He learned that in Madrid the rush hours were 2PM and 4:30PM the times to go to lunch and come back, no one is in a hurry in the mornings nor to leave at night.

He speaks about my beloved Retiro park Parque del Buen Retiro especially on the side of plaza de la Independencia and go into the Palacio de Cristal. He learned to tapear or go out for tapas from 8pm and better to stand by the bar counter as locals do.

Going for more old authentic Madrid he headed to El Timon near the Centro Colon  business building. Now totally change new owners deco menu etc the location here:

The Plaza de España and it’s statue of Don Quijote with Sancho Panza and the donkey and wandered down Gran Via to Calle Preciados off Plaza Callao and down towards Plaza del Sol; glorious!!!

You cannot missed the Museo del Jamon now a chain of restaurants and the wonderful Plaza Mayor. Go onwards to the Plaza de Oriente and into the Palacio Real; get the cable car or téleferico and ride over to Casa de Campo . One day try the walk or jog from plaza Colon to Las Ventas Monumental bullfight arena….!!!  

Buying an old typewriter from a gone shop in Calle Hortaleza and try those different Spanish letter keys !!! How about the first date driving a taxi from Paseo Recoleto to the fountain of Neptune in the Plaza de Cànovas del Castillo ,then un to San Jeronimo and to Las Cortes or Spanish parliament out into Plaza Santa Ana to land in nearby Cerveceria Alemana ,who of course, this one is still there!

And the party continue to Los Gabrieles (now gone 2004) and then Viva Madrid (still open) on the Marcha or walk of Madrid following the Movida . more on them here:

How about going to Segovia and having lunch at Pedraza while looking up the Aqueduct in the Plaza de Azoguejo and leaving Segovia by the road to Soria and into Pedraza. See more in Spanish in the guias viajar here:

Stop in Madrid at one of my all time favorites Cafe el Espejo en paseo Recoleto. More here! but just sit at the bar and enjoy the view in and out!

Try the old yuppie place of Cafe Bar Castellana at paseo de la Castellana ,8. Well now there is Otto there but this was it:

He found out the Spanish way that we call just about anybody a “friend” even if hardly met and of course we refer to an intime friend those higher up that makes us look good; actually as the book ” THIS IS A LOAD OF BULL”. And of course, the other is ” mi casa es tuya” my house is yours, but we rather meet in a bar lol!!! Or the Viaducto or viaduc meaning we take the bridge over off days to connect into several like a long week lol!! old practice not anymore as it is the siesta….

He found out the big party is May 15 San Isidro for a long party…and into the late nights in bars like Archy, Pachà , Cafe Central (Plaza del Angel) and El Sol or the Cock bar in Calle de la Reina or Museo Chicote in Gran Via to end at Almonte a Sevillian club in calle Juan Bravo. Or a fancy Botin in calle Cuchilleros.

Archy now closed:

Pachà is now Barcelo but this was pacha:

Cafe central still there:

El Sol still there:

Cock bar still there more subtle nowdays:

mythical museo chicote is still there:

Almonte for a taste of flamenco is still there:

Botin a tradition still there:

Also, moving apartment to one by Calle Lope de Vega nearer the Prado Museum. A practice of hora intensiva or intensive hour ;this was done in summers so you worked only until about 3PM to avoid the heat without a lunch break;then do this after 3PM for lunch and then Siesta until the evenings. Finding out in summer of operacion salida or exit operation when folks leave Madrid to escape the heat; and they all leave at the same time lol!!! And by August 31st is operacion retorno, operation return and they all come back at the same time lol!!!

One more tried Taberna  La Bola  a classic in Madrid still going strong.  more here:

See more of the nearby towns such as Aranjuez and Chinchon. Back to Madrid for something exotic El Cuchi Mexican restaurant near Plaza Mayor. Already gone thru two different restos in the address El Cuchi is gone. This was it:

See and pay a visit to Las Ventas Monumental bullfight arena for a look of tradition. All official in Spanish here: and of course do not forget to see the Museo Taurino behind it on the story of the bullfighter. more info here:

You come to the Calle de las Huertas and stop by La Fidula for a fino sherry or go on to Casa Alberto for a glass of red with a pincho.  You continue the food frenzy in the Calle Marqués de Cubas at the Catalan resto Paradis. Go back to the Plaza Mayor and visit the Cava San Miguel  for a nice cold beer. You should not missed two great ones of Madrid , Casa Paco and Casa Lucio,and one of the classic upper upper Zalacaîn

La Fidula today is a concert hall:

Casa Alberto; still there :

Paradis still there:

Cava San Miguel now la Taberna Chiquita;

Casa Paco :

Casa Lucio :

Zalacaîn: now closed for renovations:

Getting back to the apartment at Lope de Vega, you can try La Dolores bar; ; and further you come to Villa Rosa tablao flamenco off the Plaza Santa Ana, now closed:

Some fancy visits to the British Chamber of Commerce; club Puerta de Hierro, Club Equitacion de Somosaguas all special visits. Then go up to wonderful Navacerrada and eat at Casa Felipe Asador. Navacerrada was my first attempt of skiing at the tender age of 12, well did not work out ::) fell all over the place and decided it was not for me.  The resto here:

And the activities at Navacerrada continues:

Time to move again this time to Serrano, 145 corner of calle Guadalquivir;nicer area still today. Here it is nice to jog alone Paseo de la Habana and along Plaza Sagrados Corazones next to the Bernabeu Stadium at the corner of Castellana and Concha Espina.

You came to the old ,Club 31 in Calle Alcalà 31; and for ligher meals go to Delicatessen Mallorca. The first one change owner and location but still Club 31 here:

The second one

He continues writing about the new things found in Madrid and of course learning Spanish, this was already 1992 the year of the Barcelona Olympics. However, Madrid had totally seduced him. And he visit Carmona near Sevilla to be with a women he met Patrizia and visit her parents.

He found La Parra a Seville style restaurant in Monte Esquinza; more here: , visited the bullfight arena at Aranjuez and had a nice party in Palacio de Gaviria , which was and is a great place to be/ more here:

The hit came later meeting Kirza half Dutch and half Danish but born in Malaga, hey welcome to Spain. She had two kids from previous marriage and was only 29. He move in with her and the kids on January 1993. New place Calle de Povedilla 13 parallel to Calle de Goya in Salamanca district. They tour together deeper into Spain, Sevilla and Ronda and going to parties together. Even to Barcelona where the stays were at the Hotel Arts in the Olympic Port. They were married in Holland and photos splashed all over the medias.

And they move out of central Madrid into a bigger home in Calle San Martin de Porres by the Puerta de Hierro. Location distrito here:

Kirza was pregnant and his best friend Luis was diagnose of leukemia eventually passed away at 58. And Tim became the managing director/General Manager of Conde Nast Spain.  The son finally arrive Toby in July 7 1994 at the Clinica Nuevo Parque.

And this needed another moved to Monte Alto in Humera just outside Madrid. and a moving in nanny and the black retriever dog Barnaby. And the new born child was baptized in the Church of Humera. Location of new house:

And the journey is over. Tim said it, Madrid is one of the most perplexing, anarchic, and exuberant cities on earth:Madrid. He fell in love with the country, the city and its people and do we once bitten by the Madrid magic. Or From Madrid to heaven and hole in the sky to look down on it everyday!

I happened to contact him and exchange emails with him as what struck more of the story which is awesome and the book is wonderful; was the fact that we both went on similar paths of places in Madrid and fell in love with the city me too young needed to move on with my mother or life would had be different for sure. Cheers








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June 28, 2017

Some news from France CLX

And we are half way in the week and arriving to the end of June, full summer season is here. Temps are been mild around 15C or 64F and cloudy with sun in and out, some light rain and more schedule for tomorrow in my area. Some more goodies from my belle France:

This is a new update no time to wait for next post as Paris with its Major does it again. The two way traffic on rue de Rivoli (1eme) and rue Saint-Antoine (4eme) will be close to automobiles for give way to a bicycle lane on the left hand side of 4 meters wide and only one lane for automobiles. The project will be presented in public meeting in the mairie (mayor’s office)  of the 4eme arrondissement , and the new traffic alignment will be in effect from next August in rue de Rivoli between the portions including between the Hôtel de Ville, and the land spot at Saint-Paul. To be continue……………………………

today starts the Summer Sales or Soldes d’été in France for the most part of the territory and will last until August 8 midnight give or take some spots in the country like the Alpes-Maritimes or Corse.  On a recent Survey by Toluna  for the group  LSA, with  1511 persons interviewed,  73%  of the French think of participating in the Sales this year less 4,4 points than last. This represent about  2,2 millions shoppers less and about 52% do not know yet what budget to apply to them.  Even with all this, the great department stores give it a great importance as 12%  of annual sales of Au Printemps , and  8% of the Galeries Lafayette are done in this period. More on them here:

Enjoy the Sales before the entire renovation of the shopping center Parly II  in Chesnay (just outside Versailles) as by next January 2018 it will be like all new. There will be a connecting bridge to link the stores of BHV and Toys r’Us with 13 new stores just before Christmas. Four names are already guaranteed to be there such as JOTT, Armani, New Balance, and Rituals. After the stores the cinema will be expanded  with a UGC cinema of 12 showings and 2200 places seated. This is great and it was our favorite shopping place when we lived in Versailles for ten years. More on it here:

There is a revolutioin of sort coming for the public transports in the ile de France and Paris. The bus network of the RATP will be modifie in the coming months as it has never been renovated since 1950!!! There will be 4 new lines and modification on about 46 lines over the 60 now existing. The transport site will change name from STIF to Ile-de-France Mobilités. The new plan should be in service by end of 2018. More in French here:

And of course, with all these changes, price hikes are a rigueur. From August 1st the  Pass Navigo will go up 3%, and will then cost  75,20€ (from the  73€ now). The price of the single metro ticket will remain the same but the carnet of 10 will go up 40 centimes to 14,90€. The price for the tickets “Origine-Destination” (where the cost is already over 7€) will supposely not increase. More here:

Going over the wonderful park or Parc des Buttes-Chaumont (19eme),that is celebrating it’s 150 years!! and stay one of the favorite spot of Parisiens that went there for 6 millions last year. The park is located between the districts or  faubourgs Belleville and Villette, annexed to Paris in 1860. The work on the park began in 1864 with huge efforts that lasted 3 years with over 1000 men and hundreds of horses. They installed about 39 kms of rails to extract  800 000 m3 (cubic meters)  of rock using dynamites explosives. A factory of pumping was created in the basin of the Villette to bring the water to the top of the park and feed the cascade, streams and network of irrigation. It is the most expensive park after that of  Montceau with a visionary creation. As it is only about 20 cm of vegetable land recovered from the chalk on which nothing could have sprout; in fact the Buttes-Chaumont are the first garden off the soil , like an inmense flower pot. Around it ,it has 6 hills that forms several valleys where the engineers did a picturesque scenary to invite you to a voyage. It has an alpine orientation that is call the petite Suisse or little Switzerland; this was a wish of emperor Napoléon III  that himself had spent his childhood in the germanic Switzerland.  Large uphills criss cross the park sometimes with streams like the Alps region; a Vosges style forest is planted along the rail lines of the Petite ceinture.  In the Central island you have behind some vegetation an imitation of the cliffs of the Etretat normande with its arch and peak ,and at the top on the belvedere a roman temple in miniataure call the  Sibylle inspired by the one in Tivoli (Italy) culminating at 30 meters above the lake. The park has inspired many artists such as Aragon, Tardi, Despentes, and  George Sand did praises on it, Jacques Tardi  the croque on his aventures with Adèle Blanc-Sec, Alain Resnais filmed in  On connaît la chanson , and represented the ceiling background for Vernon Subutex, the recent trilogy of romance of Virginie Despentes. The greatest hommage to it came from Aragon who in the  « le Paysan de Paris » mentioned the park settle in the inconcious of the city of Paris. A must when coming to Paris.More on it in English from Paris tourist office here:

And from today to Friday the European languages will be mixing in the streets, theater and cinema Ermitage of Fontainebleau. The 6th edition of the Festival Série Séries dedicated to European series with this year the theme courage. Each serie presents its members creators, scénaristes actors on site after the diffusion of each episode creating a real interaction with the public. Each projection is follow by an exchange with the public. You can see « Guerilla »,the new series produce and played by Idris Elba,a German espionnage series name « Same sky », as well as the series  « Match »,a Norwegian series name, and the « The simple Heist », coming from Sweden without forgetting the animated cartoon series such as « Ernest et Célestine »,a French series for small children. More info to be found here:

And this is the time for fleas and garage sales in France as summer arrives; vide greniers and brocantes et marches these are my favorites over the years here:

We start at the classic place in Paris Le village Saint-Paul ; in the heart of the Marais between the streets of rue Saint-Antoine and the Seine river, the village Saint-PAul is a must for lovers of antiques, finds and designs of arts. Also, English porcelains and wooden furniture, antiques from the 18C or even going back to the 17C to our days. A must to walk on the rue Saint-Paul, rue Saint-Antoine and rue Santa Maria in the 4eme district/arrondissement. More here:

Another nice one is at the Trolls et puces, 5 rue du Marché-Popincourt 11eme where fleasgoers and restaurant people are associated to propose the crème de la crème of the yearFrom second hand furniture to lamps, mirrors, etc the selection is very nice and renovated oftenMore on their facebook page:

Another we love is the Village Suisse  in the heart of the 15eme district not far from the  tour Eiffel, you have about 150 stands on the site of the old Universal Exposition of 1900. You have decorators interior design, antiques, and art galleries in the middle of suspended gardens and patios covered with trees. Le Village Suisse, 78 avenue de Suffren, 15eme. More here:

And we all know the very popular flea market of Saint-Ouen,however, have you visited the fleas of the Porte de Vanves ?  Here is where you find the best, a giant flea with crazy merchants offering all the rare and beautiful; you need to come early to get the best. Les Puces de la Porte de Vanves, Avenue Georges Lafenestre and avenue Marc Sangnier, 14eme district. More here:

How about some water in Paris, in summer you need it there too.

It is not a pool but a nice splash of water very refreshing in the middle of summer. This it the water sprays in the place de la République , that reflect like a mirror of water,and if stay a while the effect will be like taking a big dive with less effort.

You go to a new place the Démesure sur Seine, a terrace of 900 m2  with giant  barbecues, cocktails à gogo , and good Dj  music. The team has started the Piscine sur Seine, with inflatable boats on pools ,great novelty for Paris . La Piscine sur Seine 69, port de la Râpée – 12e open from 17H free admission.  This took place this week but be on the lookout for the next opening it is great I was told. More here:

And of course, the place to be this summer will be the bassin de la Villette, yes you heard right it will finally be open for swimming. A great basin sunk in to the waters of the Villette and you can swim all summer. Le Bassin de la Villette 45, quai de la Seine , 19eme.

And on a similar vain, you have six parks in Paris open this summer 24/24; these are La place des Vosges (4eme) Le jardin des Grands-Explorateurs (6eme) ,Le parc Montsouris (14eme), Le parc André Citroën (15eme), Le parc des Buttes-Chaumont (19eme), Le square Séverine (20eme) .

Continue with summer activity with the open air Cinema drive in and other in Paris. Around a transat boat, on the lawn, under the stars around a pique nique you can see the classic films of today and yesterterday from July 20 to August 20 at the Terrasse du Parc de la Villette , 211 avenue Jean Jaurés, 19eme.

And the 2017 edition starts for the chapeaux de roues Friday July 7 with film and concert by the original band of the  Gardiens de la Paix. There is a chase from July 7-21 and from August 4-18 on the mayor’s office courtyard in the Jardin de la Folie Titon, 28 rue Chanzy, 11eme  More here on location;

There is a program in memory of  Alfred Hitchcock with one of his most celebrated film The Birds or Les Oiseaux, and two comedy evenings with the Dark Shadows of Tim Burton ,and Moonrise Kingdom of Wes Anderson… From 21h be there with a small pique nique before the film at 22h30. You can the long chairs but it is advise to bring your own with cushions because this is very popular. July 6-8 at the  Château de Vincennes  1, avenue de Paris – 94300 Vincennes: more here:

You will enjoy the new programming for the next edition of the Festival Silhouette  in the very nice park of the Parc de la Butte du Chapeau Rouge, film projections on fiction, clips, animation, and experimental and also concerts to dance at the apéro hour ;From August 25 to September 2 Parc de la Butte du Chapeau Rouge – 19eme. More on the location here:

 Something unique in Pigalle that houses a basketball court with the most style in Paris. After some renovation that took 2 years the founder of the brand Pigalle in collaboration with Nike has it open again. Blue, rose, yellow, and gray on the image of the unisex combo of Nikelab x Pigalle. A basketball court with futuristic vision stamp  « Pigalle » and « Duperré » awating the sports minded and the more artsy people on earth! Playground Duperré  22, rue Duperré – 9eme,  Open from 10h to 20h in Summer time. More in Facebook here:

And last for this post but not least,the wonderful story of the Tati stores is slowly coming to an end. Who searching for real bargains off the tourist traps have not come here during the years; Tati is an institution. Well no more unfortunately for many families it is up for sales. The main store is known to Parisiens as the Tati Barbés, and it will be taken over by another chain call Gifi, also,very popular here. They are negotiating for the former employees destinies and the owner of the building which guarantee is coming to an end, this will be to follow up to see what happened finally to the white and rose window store at Barbés. The Tati site here:

And Gifi stores site here:

Enjoy the rest of your week. Cheers!


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