Archive for October, 2017

October 31, 2017

Some news from Spain LIIII

A bit on my Spain, and the treasure heritage that it has to offer. Today is sunny but cold down to 6C this morning here in my neck of the woods, now as I write is up to 9C; however, in Madrid it is 54F or about 12C and cloudy with no rain in sight. A break from my other love , France.

The latest from Spain are the following:

One of the greatest victories in the history of Spain was held at Pernambuco, Brazil.  The naval battle was so big, that upon returning it was ordered to paint scenes from the battle and kept it for later history. The paintings were eventually given as gifts to king Felipe IV as he was able by this victory to avoid the Dutch from taking the sugar production in Brazil.  The naval museum or Museo Naval de Madrid has open an exposition entitled the victory of Pernambuco or  «La victoria de Pernambuco». For the first time since the 18C that these paintings will be shown together. The naval battle pictures were separated in 1734, due to a fire in the Alcàzar de Madrid where they were exposed for the king; the fire took away other valuable paintings by Tiziano, Velàzquez, Rubens, Durero, and Tintoretto.  Someone, put these paintings canvas in roll and threw them from a window!!! The painting were saved but the guides telling about them did not. The naval museum is ,also, showing the standard flag that was carried in the battle on the battleship Santiago. The flag is 4 meters of silk and oleo, having on one side a Christ in crucifiction, the Saint Mary and St John, and below them St James (Santiago Matamoros). More info here: Museo Naval de Madrid

Another valuable showing will be the treasures in the La Caja de las Letras del Instituto Cervantes! . This safebox is always open in the lower floor of the building.  It was created in the year the Instituto Cervantes moved to the new location in the Calle Alcalá 49, where it was before the Central Bank. The story started with the writer Francisco Ayala, who was the first one to occupied one of the 1800 boxes in 2007; he left a handwritten letter and a personal wish that will be made public in 2057.  He was followed by many such as the poets  Antonio Gamoneda and Carlos Edmundo de Ory, and the artist  Antoni Tàpies.  IT continues to grow with the first investigative  of the Scientist Margarita Salas in 2008 while working with Severo Ochoa in New York. The Mexican Elena Poniatowska, left a wrist band that was used by her father while fought in WWII and had the first edition of the night of Tlatelolco.  Nicanor Parra  left a typewriting machine and Fernando del Paso kept a shirt from the poet José Carlos Becerra.  The dnacer and choreographer Víctor Ullate left the vest on which he played the «El Madrid de Chueca» with the Ballet Nacional in 1982, as well as a watch from his grandfather and a ring from his father.  A watch purchased in 1946 was the gift of  John Elliott, the latest member of the Caja and the first Hispanic American in doing so, leaving his gift in box no 1492, next to the one by Gabriel García Márquez, that has dirt from his native Aracataca, as well as a plaque with the first paragraph of his novel «Cien años de soledad». The next gift will be on the 75th anniversary of the passing of Miguel Hernández. Juan Goytisolo left a camera to be developed in 2031.  The wealth of Spain is not in the bank of Spain but in the museums such as the Thyssen, Prado, and Reina Sofía, and others, archives and libraries as well as the architecture heritage. Really ,these are our banks, and it is there where we keep what we are and what we have been . More here! Instituto Cervantes

Telefónica, the great telephone company of Spain is the sponsor and partner of the museum or  Museo Reina Sofía. It has thru their consulting firm  Synertic Partners ,done the first Big Data survey of the museum The technology allowes to process high data volumes with the aim of given information on the public choices while attending the museum.  It is the most exhaustive study done until now and it was done between April 5 to September 4 2017 while the exposition entitled «Piedad y terror en Picasso. El camino a Guernica», was held on the 80th anniversary of the famous portrait. The expo drew 680K persons coming from 189 countries with a median of 4 800 persons per day.  More than  60%  were foreign visitors with 10 countries representing 80% . The most visitors came from Italy  17,4%, then France, Germany, USA, Japan, Argentina, Portugal and the Netherland.  Of all tourists in Madrid in those months  11,5% visited the museum  Reina Sofía.  50% came from Italy and France with each country having a special day for visiting!! The Americans prefer the Mondays, the British, Sunday, Japanese come in groups, the Italians prefers the free periods . There were 111.000 mentions in  Twitter, the most platform used with 97% positive comments!  The study took a volume of information of 157 gb , or 30K more than the complete works of Shakespeare. More in Spanish here: telefonica on Reina Sofia

The so calle black years or  «années noires» of París, the years of the Nazi occupation (1940-1944)  as told by Spanish Fernando Castillo, that has already written on theses periods in «Noche y niebla en el París ocupado» (2012), and «París-Modiano» (2015)-, now completes the work with the «Trilogía de la Ocupación» . A short essay on having the exile Spaniards as witnesses of those days with more than 40 artists telling in newspapers, or fiction stories talked about the period when they passed by Paris.  There in the Republican universe you read about the communists José María Quiroga Plá, and Emilio Gómez Nadal), in the planet of the persecuted with Victoria Kent, and Consuelo Berges , and the Catalan galaxy of Rafael Tasis, and Sebastià Gasch, Just Cabot, Ferrán Canyameres, Mercè Rodoreda…etc ,and the independent stars such as Max Aub, Corpus Barga, Manuel Viola, and Carles Fontserè, together with the resistant meteorites of Jorge Semprún.  In another place you have the satellites of spies with Antonio Zuloaga, and Joan Estelrich), the Astros of journalism in Enrique Meneses, Mariano Daranas, José R. Alonso, and Jesús Suevos), and the origin of the universe with Gregorio Marañón, Manuel Chaves Nogales, Carles Soldevila, and Josefina Carabias. The last planet of Luis de Armiñán), and an astro of its own star  C. G. R. (César González Ruano).  Some were there just passing such as Chaves Nogales-,and other lived off the Clandistine movement and other held newspaper positions with squaling and gossips  in the Spanish community where they hide from a scary policemen Pedro Urraca, that took away Lluís Companys , and Julián Zugazagoitia, killed by firing squad later in Franco’s Spain. Victoria Kent passed as a diplomatic service and refugee without papers avoided the police raids of Urraca ,and when the Nazis arrived lived in hiding in a modest apartment without even go out into the streets; there wrote four years of  my life or «Cuatro años de mi vida (1940-1944)», All the suffering until the arrival of the liberating Spaniards in the Leclerc free French division. María Casares, daughter of the last president of the ministry council of the Republic could not escape to London but her father could and return to Paris in the summer of 1940 where she published «Résidente privilegiée»  finally in 1980,a work of exile living.  Different to others her friends were mostly French including Albert Camus ;she exposed the false heroes after the triumph of the war; read the book in Spanish if you can , recommended.  The book title is «Españoles en París» by Fernando Castillo Ensayo. Fórcola, 2017. 156 pages. 17,50€; good book:more in Spanish here: Españoles en Paris book

Much has been written on who took the first ear of a bull in a bullfight in Madrid. The writing by Antonio Díaz-Cañabate: there is no precedent on the arena by the Puerta de Alcalà but in 1876 two years after opening on the old plaza de la carretera de Aragón,(today Calle Alcalà) the third bull name black sox or «Medias Negras», the ears were taken by the matador Chicorro with a great courage took the ears and offered them to the Princes of Bavaria in attendance with king  Alfonso XII. So  José Lara «Chicorro» took the honor of been the first. However, the records give this gesture to be the first time later in 1910 , the previous ones did not count so said some experts ; to them the first one was Vicente Pastor, that did it on the 4th bull of the day name «Carbonero» or charcoal maker. More here:  Chicorro

The etnographic museum or  Museo Etnográfico de Castilla y León (Mecyl) will show in their next exposition the photographic collection obtained from negatives of Roberto Kallmeyer  from a series of engraving by painter  Francisco de Goya on the subject of the tauromaquia (toro art).  The exposition entitled  «Del trazo a la luz. La tauromaquia de Goya en las fotografías de Kallmeyer», opened this past Friday and will be on until January 14 2018 in the Mecyl of Zamora ; it can be visited free in the temporary exposition room of the  Etnográfico de Castilla y León,; it includes 42 photos part of the  serie that Roberto Kallmeyer (Madrid 1915-Madrid 2004) did from the engraving of Goya for the first edition of the La Tauromaquia that Rafael Casariego published in 1960. More here: Mecyl La Tauromaquia

Let’s imagine that Bartolomé Esteban Murillo is the host and decides to walk the streets of Sevilla, take them in with is eyes, discovered them like him saw them, and painted on his work. The same city four centuries later. But his was in the 17C of Sevilla, then the gate to Europe and America and capital of the Western world. This would be the year of Murillo or the  Año Murillo,and make this anniversary like him the presence in the city to have a dialogue between the past and the present.  To see his paintings in the Churches as they were originally done, and travel in the city of which he was inspired, imagine how the personages lived in his paintings and listen to the music that plays in the paintings he did. All this in 6 expositions until January 2019 will displayed him with 600 of his work. The main collection will be at the museum of fine arts or Museo de Bellas Artes, will allow for the first time to reunite the majority of his work coming from Germany, France, USA etc, The work the jubilee of the  Porciúncula, is already in the museum for its restauration from last June. Two centuries later the work that was at the retable of the convent of Capucins returns on loan from the museum of Cologne (Koln) Germany until April 2018.  The size of it allows for some reason to escape the French troops and went to private hands in 1814; later by different owners until 1876 became part of the collection of the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, where it is housed until now.  IT is part of the 24 works of Murillo that will go a renovation by the team of the fine arts museum of Sevilla. More info here! Murillo in Sevilla

And late but celebrating Halloween in Spain is more and more visible. Happy Halloween !!!

Joy Eslava  calle Arenal, 11, Metro: Ópera , admission 15€ with one drink or 12€ with flyer contacting email The Tuesday night will be filled with zombies, blood clowns as well as masks with a terror look!. More here: Joy Eslava Halloween

And to go at with scary hamburgers in Madrid, two leading places to do so. Even if late reporting ,sorry.You can try these places anytime, they are good…::)

Tommy Mel’s. A chain with a 50’s décor offering a bloody dish, the Halloween Angus Burger, with bourbon sauce and sweet chili you can try it tonite in all restaurants of the chain. Tommy Mel’s

Hard Rock Café Madrid. Paseo de la Castellana, 2. Another chain for the addicts to burgers. Here you have scary figures creeping out with a Halloween Vodoo  until today. It has pork, squash with black breads and also the Evil Eye,a cocktail with white rum, and a editable eye. All deco like a prison with prisioners included lol! Hard Rock Cafe Halloween

Now, let’s take a nice easy walk in sublime spaces. It is easy entry level really, we did it and we are not walkers.

You go the beautiful forest of the horseshoe or  Bosque de La Herrería. At San Lorenzo de El Escorial. You first need a car by taking the expressway A6 direction A Coruña , until exit or salida 18. Continue on the road  M-505 to San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Once in town, you take the road or street of the carretera de la Estación, then, Avenida de los Reyes Católicos, and then Avenida de la Constitución  until the traffic circle of the road  M-600. Take this road , take first to the right and continue until next traffic circle  take the first exit on the right on road  M-505, direction Puerto de la Cruz Verde. Follow this road for 4 km until km marker 32, where you take the road on the left to the Silla de Felipe II (a monument the chair of king Felipe II ). Leave your car in the parking space in front of the Church or  ermita de Nuestra Señora de Gracia.

Then on foot to find the Cueva del Oso, you have indicators map at the  Silla de Felipe II. You start from the Church or ermita de Nuestra Señora de Gracia, with a recreation area around it. From the panel in the front next to the road you go up to the Silla de Felipe II on asphalt road about 12 meters then take a right on a road you see on your right reaching the heigh of a door on the left next to a panel on the pole you see the red white sign of the walkers trail. Go up until a curve in the road to the Silla de Felipe II. Finally, there is no more asphalt road and you cross an area of banks follow this road on the left and see various stones of different sizes (big) where you can see on the distance the Monastery of San Lorenzo. Continue walking you come to a V on the road take the road on the right next to the descend on the road and find space amongst the rock-stones, this is the most difficult part on the walk but easy i am telling you!!! You reach the flat area and on the right you see the circle on the foot of a hill on which the tops you find that chair again, the Silla de Felipe II.  And no , you are not going in circles its easy. HEre you can get refreshments on the weekends . The road ends here and you go down the hill a few meters to continue on another road below it on the left behind a barrier gate; easy downward walk leaving behind the fountain or  Fuente de los Hermanos, (fountain of the brothers) you see another wooden panel indicating a few meters more on the right in an area of trees you see the mouth of the cave of the bear or the Cueva del Oso. IT has two stones on top given a triangular roof, and long at the end you see a small cavity space with part of the roof open and just in front of the cave there is another area of rest on the ecological pathway with several panels that tells you about the flora and fauna of the area.

Returning by the same road you will do nice to finally go to that chair ,the Silla de Felipe II , there is a metallic panel and it is worth reading it as it tells you how the king saw the area in his times.  Now time is different to different folks but like I said we are not walkers and the time is right on the one told in the site , about 1hour to 1h30 we took less in between ::) this is roundtrip time on foot not counting any stops you might do; the trip is 3 km on pretty flat terrain except the Chair lol! the highest point is if you go up to the Church or ermita Nuestra Señora de Gracia, at 1000 meters; and the top of the chair or Silla de Felipe II, 1 120 meters. Of course, you need walkers shoes or boots and a coat if on cool periods we did it in August so t shirt will do lol!! More info here: Cueva del Oso

Enjoy the natural and artistic beauty of my beloved Spain. It’s everything under the Sun and more !!! Cheers

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October 31, 2017

The Chateau de Versailles, interiors

Hi ,I am back on Versailles. What a better subject to tell you about France. My beloved city of Versailles, well it’s a lot more than a castle but 98% folks come here for it. This time will tell you about the interiors lol!! It is indeed huge and beautiful so bear with me ; it’s going to be long!!! and more pictures on the interiors of the Chateau de Versailles.

As a result of his official apartment, king Louis XIV had made for his personal use ,a suite of rooms looking over the cour de Marbre and the cour Royale. He exhibited his collections of work of arts and his paintings.  These spaces are not available for free visit, but almost every day at 10h a guided tour allows you to discover them (inquire in castle for the exact dates and times as they may change). King  Louis XV had done a new bedroom in 1738, smaller and exposed to the south, so easier to heat. He died there on May 10, 1774 at 13h. Executed on the eve of the revolution, the  Cabinet de Garde-robe or wardrobe is one of the few large-scale developments undertaken by Louis XVI in the private apartment.

The cabinet de la Pendule (pendulum) of Louis XV  as he was very interested in science and especially in astronomy. One can see on the floor the route of the meridian of Versailles, materialized by a brass wand. The extraordinary pendulum, which gave its name to the play, was presented to the Academy of Sciences, then to the king at Choisy Castle, before being installed here in 1754. The clock shows the time, the day of the week, the month, the year and the quarter of the moon. In the Crystal globe, you can see the planets operating their revolution around the sun.

The Cabinet des Chiens or dog’s is the name of this room and the scenery of its cornice remind that king Louis XV made his favourite dogs sleep there. The woodwork comes from the old billiard room of king Louis XIV, transformed by Louis XV into a bedroom.  The salle à manger  des retours de chasses or dining room returning from hunting  replaced in 1750 a small apartment of  baths. Once or twice a week, Louis XV gave supper to the Lords and the ladies who had accompanied him to the hunt, and it was a very sought-after favor to be admitted to these suppers.  The cabinet intérieur du roi or the King’s interior cabinet this “corner cabinet”, as it was commonly called, enjoys a double exhibition on the cour de Marbre  and cour Royale.  King Louis XV was glad to be there and it was from this balcony that he attended, tears in his eyes, the departure of the funeral convoy carrying Madame de Pompadour, a winter evening of 1764. The cabinet des dépeches or Cabinet of despatches occupies the location of the Oval lounge that king Louis XIV had made in 1692. It is adorned with Corinthian pilasters and four niches with bronze bands, including the famous Les Chenes de l’Algarde ( in Louvre now), this lounge gave access to the right to the  Petite Galerie or small gallery and left  the Cabinet de Coquilles or  shells  cabinet. Here king  Louis XIV kept his manuscripts and his most precious books, as well as some twenty paintings including the rustic Concert of Titian (in  Louvre). In 1754, the shells cabinet disappeared to make way for the king’s recess and the Oval lounge was replaced by a back cabinet and a chair cabinet.

La chambre de la Vaisselle d’or or the room of the golden dishes ,it is the former interior cabinet of Madame Adelaide, the apartment which she occupied on the first floor of the castle between 1752 and 1769, had been laid out on the site of the Petite Galerie and the Escalier des Ambassadeurs . Madame Adelaide had at the time of this service two of the greatest playwrights of the 18C;  Goldoni, who taught her Italian, and Beaumarchais who was her harp teacher. Later, king Louis XV, who took his coffee here, exhibited his golden dishes. Louis XVI placed the extraordinary cabinet in ebony and mahogany, covered with porcelain plates decorated with bird feathers and butterfly wings. On the chimney, is arranged a beautiful bust of king Louis XV child . The two porcelain plates of Sèvres, representing the toilet of the Sultan and the Sultan giving orders to the odalisques  were ordered by Louis XVI for his interior cabinets.

The chambre de la cassette  or cassette room were the baths of King’s;  one of the last works commissioned by king Louis XV. The style of the woodwork, which reproduces engravings evoking the aquatic pleasures in medallions lined with reeds and narcissus, with effects of dull gold, gold burnished (shiny) and green gold, attests to a new taste.  The Bibliothéque or Library of Louis XVI, was designed by the architect Gabriel shortly before the death of Louis XV in 1774, was both the first order of the young Louis XVI and the last intervention of the architect at Versailles. Already benefiting from several libraries in the upper floors, the king hastened however the work of this vast room which has the advantage of being on the ground floor with his apartment.  The Salle à manger des porcelains or the porcelain dining room  was created under king Louis XV in 1769 for its hunting return suppers. It occupies the location of two rooms of the former apartment of Madame Adelaide, one of which, overlooking the courtyard, was its large cabinet where, in all likelihood, the young Mozart appeared before the royal family in early 1764. The play was mainly used by Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. The salon des jeux or  Games’s room of king Louis XVI originally, there was the Cabinet des Curiosités or curiosities of king Louis XIV . After several intermediate states, it was used by king Louis XVI as a games room. After the meal in the dining room, the diners went there for coffee and to play. The king would gladly sit at a table in backgammon, while his brothers played one in the billiards in the next room, the other in the whist.

Behind the Grand Appartement  or large apartment, the Queen had small rooms reserved for her private use and serving her maids. Marie Leszczynska withdrew to read, paint, meditate or receive her most intimate visits. Marie‑Antoinette extended the estate by arranging new rooms on the upper floor (like a billiard parlor) and went so far as to build up a real small summer apartment on the ground floor, overlooking the cour de Marbre, featuring bedroom, Library and bathroom.  The Cabinet Doré or  gilded cabinet created for Marie Leszczynska in 1735, this room has been modified several times by Marie-Antoinette. Its current aspect dates from the last Transformation (1784).

The Cabinet de la Méridienne or meridian  has a peculiar form of this boudoir, with its cut panels, allowed the Queen’s service to move from the Grand chamber  to the other cabinets without disturbing the sovereign who, at mid-day, came to rest, hence her name  Méridienne. It was in 1781, after Marie Antoinette had finally given birth to an heir, that the room received its definitive woodwork, whose motifs, were also prolonged in bronze to be applied on the Window-doors. The allegorical vocabulary used ,celebrates the young prince (the Dauphin), the royal couple (the eagle of Jupiter symbolizing the king and the Peacock of Juno, the Queen) and conjugal love (garlands of roses, bow and arrows). The Bibliothèque or library of Marie-Antoinette was transferred to Paris after the revolution and is now largely preserved at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. This room was arranged for the Queen between 1779 and 1781 in high glazed cabinets all around; Inside these, an ingenious rack system allows easy adjustment of the height of the shelves. The Queen also owned a library in Trianon, whose books are now predominantly preserved at the Bibliothèque municipale de Versailles.

The cabinet du Billard or billiards cabinet on the second floor. One of them, whose silk were returned and the sofas delivered , served as a billiards room. The other rooms, with a very sober decor, are now home to a part of the museum’s collections relating to Marie-Antoinette. The salon d’Hercule had a decoration that  began in 1712. It is located at the site of the old chapel, destroyed in 1710 and represents the Apotheosis of Hercules. On the wall of the bottom is exposed a huge canvas of Veronese offered by the Republic of Venice to King Louis XIV in 1664, the Repas chez Simon. The layout of the room was completed in 1736, but the inauguration took place only in 1739, by a “bal Paré” given on the occasion of the marriage of the eldest daughter of king Louis XV with the Infant of Spain. The Salon of Hercules served as a setting for exceptional “big cutlery” (in 1769 for the marriage of the Duke of Chartres, or in 1782 for the birth of the Dauphin).

The Opéra Royale or Royal Opera of the Château de Versailles is an opera house built under king Louis XV at the end of the north wing of the castle; the construction was begun in 1768 under the order of the king by anticipation of the marriages of his children, the construction lasted two years and the opera was inaugurated on May 16 1770 during the marriage of king Louis XVI of France and Marie Antoinette of Austria. The Chapelle Royale or royal Chapel was completed at the end of the reign of king Louis XIV, in 1710. It is the fifth – and last – chapels that have succeeded each other in the castle since Louis XIII. The first architect died in 1708 without seeing the end of the work that was completed by his brother-in-law. The ceiling of the vault, is consecrated to the Holy Trinity: in the center, God the Father in His glory, in the apse the Resurrection and, above the Royal Tribune, the Descent of the Holy. The king only descended for the great religious feasts in which he had, for the ceremonies of the Order of the Holy Spirit, for the baptisms and for the marriages of the children of France who were celebrated there from 1710 to 1789.

The Galerie des Glaces or Ice gallery replaces a large open terrace on the garden. The work begins in 1678 to finish in 1684.  After the victory over the three arrayed powers, represented at Salon de la Guerre , the gallery exalts the political, economic and artistic successes of France throughout its 73 meters. Political successes are shown such as the glorious history of king Louis XIV during the first 18 years of his personal government, from 1661 to the peace of Nijmegen. By their dimensions and by their number , the 357 mirrors that adorn the 17 arcades facing the windows attest that the new French mirrors manufacturing factory is able to delight in Venice the monopoly of mirrors, then objects of great luxury. Artistic success: The marble pilasters of Rance adorn themselves with gilded bronze capitals of a new model called “The French Order”. It presents National emblems: A flower of lys surmounted by the royal sun between two Gallic Roosters. The Gallery of mirrors was used daily as a place of passage, waiting and meetings, frequented by the courtiers and the visitors ‘ audience. It served only exceptionally as a framework for ceremonies, when the sovereigns wanted to give the greatest sparkle to entertainment offered on the occasion of princely weddings or diplomatic receptions. The throne was then installed on a stage at the end of the gallery, on the side of the Salon de la Paix or Peace room whose arcade was closed. The staging of power has seldom reached such a degree of ostentatiousness. Thus the Doge of Genoa in 1685, the Ambassadors of Siam 1686, Persia (1715) and the Ottoman Empire (1742), had to cross the entire gallery, under the eyes of the court massaged on each side on bleachers to reach the king. It was also here that the Treaty of Versailles, which ended the First World War, was signed on 28 June 1919. Since then, the Presidents of the Republic continue to receive the official hosts of France.

The Salon de la Guerre is built from 1678. The decoration, completed in 1686, exalts the military victories that culminated in the peace of Nijmegen. The walls are clad with marble panels adorned with six trophies and arms falls in gilded bronze. The wall on the side of the salon of Apollo is occupied by a bas-relief oval stucco representing king Louis XIV on horseback treading at his feet his enemies. This masterpiece is surmounted by two famous gilded and supported by two chained captives. Below, in the bas-relief obscuring the opening of a false chimney, Clio, Muse of the history, set for posterity the achievements of the king. The dome ceiling represents in the center of France armed, sitting on a cloud and surrounded by victories. A portrait of king Louis XIV adorns his shield. In the covings are represented his three defeated enemies: Germany on his knees, with an eagle; Threatening Spain, with a roaring lion and Holland overthrown on another lion. The fourth arch represents Belloe, the goddess of War, in fury between rebellion and discord.

The Salon de la Paix or Peace room presents the same decor of marble panels and trophies of gilded and chiselled bronze arms as the Salon de la Guerre that is symmetrical. However, the brown adorned  cupola and the covings of the blessings of the peace given by France to Europe. At the end of the reign of king Louis XIV, this living room was separated from the gallery by a movable bulkhead and considered to be part of the Queen’s apartment, from which it was the last room after the chamber. It was there that under Louis XV, Marie Leszczynska gave every Sunday concerts of profane or religious music which played an important role in the musical life of Versailles, and that, in the following reign, Marie-Antoinette held her game. When necessary, the partition separating the room from the gallery was dismantled and the living room was again part of the large apartment.

In the19C, Versailles knew a new destiny and became a museum of the history of France, dedicated “to all the glories of France”, according to the will of Louis-Philippe, who became king of the French in 1830. The collections, mainly composed of paintings and sculptures, are enriched until the beginning of the 20C.

The The Salles des Croisades or halls of the Crusades created, in 1837, of these five rooms installed in the north wing fully fits into the vogue of the Middle Ages that developed under the reign of Louis-Philippe. In the largest of the halls, Louis-Philippe placed the Cedar Gate from the hospital of the order of Saint-Jean-de-Jerusalem of Rhodes and offered to him by Sultan Mahmoud II. The salles d’Afrique, de Crimée et d’Italie or halls of Africa, Crimea and Italy designate a set of seven rooms on the first floor of the north wing. The first three, to which a monumental staircase allows access, were consecrated, by the will of Louis-Philippe, to the illustration of the conquest of Algeria between 1830 and 1847. The hall called Constantine shows the siege and the taking of the city in October 1837. On both sides of this room, two other pieces are dedicated to the capture of the Smala of Abdelkader  in 1843  shown a canvas of 20 meters long and 5 meters high, the other to the French successes in Morocco , preceding to the Tangier Treaty of 1844. Napoleon III took over the extension of this ensemble to celebrate his own military triumphs in the Crimea (taken from Sevastopol, 1855) and in Italy (Victory of Solferino, 1859). Finally, the Third Republic concludes this monumental collection by the evocation of the War of 1870  with the  Charge of Reichshoffen, 1887. These halls now serve as a place for the presentation of temporary exhibitions and are rarely visible in their entirety. The salles de l’Empire or halls of the Empire in the ground floor of the Midi Wing, under the Gallery of battles, is occupied by a set of thirteen halls that date from the first developments undertaken by Louis-Philippe in Versailles to illustrate the military campaigns of the Directoire , the consulate and the Empire. The  attiques du nord et du midi or attics of north and south offer today long threads where is exposed most of the collections of paintings of the museum, according to a chronological  order which leads from the French Revolution to the celebration of the Treaty of Versailles of 1919 at the end of the north wing.

The appartement des Mesdames or Ladies’s apartments occupy the north of the central body. They were transformed into museum halls by Louis-Philippe and later restored in their state of princely apartments.  Mesdames de France or the Ladies of France, as the daughters of king Louis XV were called, settled there from 1752. But only two of them, Adelaide and Victoire, lived them until the revolution. The first antichamber of Madame Victoire is the former cabinet of the Baths of Louis XIV. Interior Cabinet of the Comte de Toulouse from 1692 to 1724, from the Countess of Toulouse from 1724 to 1750 and finally from Madame Adelaide from 1752 to 1753. Room of Madame Sophie from 1755 to 1767, she then becomes the first chamber of this princess, then in 1769 that of Madame Victoire.  The second room of Madame Victoire is the old chamber of the baths, whose floor and walls were clad in marble.  At the bottom, in an alcove framed with marble columns, was placed a bed of rest. Which was then the Chamber of the Count of Toulouse, then of the Countess of Toulouse, then of Madame Adelaide and finally of Madame Victoire when she shared this Apartment with her sisters Sophie and Louise. In 1767, the alcove was abolished and the room became the second antichamber of Madame Victoire’s new apartment.

The Grand Cabinet of Madame Victoire;  originally, the room was the octagonal cabinet of the apartment of the Baths of Louis XIV, one of the most original creations of the Sun King. The room of Madame Victoire this was the ionic antichamber of the apartment of the baths, so named because of the twelve marble columns that decorated it. Second Chamber of the Count of Toulouse, then of the Countess of Toulouse, then of Madame Adelaide and finally of the young ladies, she became in 1767 the room of Madame Sophie and in 1769 that of Madame Victoire. Madame Victoire’s interior cabinet it was the Doric vestibule of the apartment of the baths, separated in three bays by two rows of marble columns of Rance, which still remain behind the woodwork. This vestibule was compartmentalized from 1724 to form two antechambers for the comte and the Countess of Toulouse; This princess’s room was in turn divided in 1767 to form this small living room and the next library. The Library of Madame Victoire  house a few books related to the arms of ladies, from their library of Versailles or that of Bellevue Castle, a box containing a collection of maps of geography that belonged to Madame Elisabeth, niece of the ladies, elements of a porcelain coffee service of Sèvres with Chinese decor, delivered in 1775 for Madame Adelaide, and a table-bell in Ruddy to the figure and the arms of Madame Victoire.

The interior cabinet of Madame Adelaide this was the bedroom of the legitimized son of Louis XIV and of Madame de Montespan, the Count of Toulouse, from 1724 to 1737, then the Duke of Penthièvre, son of the latter, from 1737 to 1744, and the Duchess of Penthièvre from 1744 to 1750. She then became the Chamber of the Marquise de Pompadour, who died there on 15 April 1764. It was planned to become the Chamber of Marie-Josephus of Saxony after her widowhood in 1765, but the Dauphine died in 1767, without having been able to settle there; However, after her death, she was exposed here on a parade bed. Madame Victoire’s room from 1767 to 1769, and finally from Madame Adelaide from 1769 to 1789.  The Grand Cabinet de Madame Adelaide was Madame de Pompadour who gave this room its present form, and the chimney of Sérancolin was laid for her. The organ installed in the niche is deemed to have been made for a member of the Royal family but its identification remains uncertain. He was placed in this room to evoke the great attraction of the children of Louis XV for the music: ladies and their brother the Dauphin played in fact more than several instruments.

The salle des Hoquetons or  called “hoquetons”, because of their tunic, the guards of the Provost of the hotel, who were charged with the internal police of the castle. This room, where they were usually held, received in 1672 a sham decor depicting trophies of arms and statues in feigned niches.

The Galerie des Batailles or gallery of Battles is the most important element of the historical galleries created in the Château de Versailles by Louis-Philippe. It occupies almost the entire level of the south wing of the castle and is devoted to the illustration, in about thirty paintings, of nearly fifteen centuries of French military success, from Clovis to Napoleon. The gallery of battles is the most extensive part of the castle (120 meters long, 13 meters wide). It occupies almost all of the first floor of the Midi wing. Conceived and made from 1833, it is inaugurated solemnly in 1837 and then marks the highlight of the visit of the Museum of the history of France. Yes indeed, here lies Yorktown !!!

The apartment of the Marquise de Pompadour is located in the attic of the central body, above the salons of Mars, Mercury and Apollo. It was first inhabited, in 1743-1744, by the Duchess of Châteauroux and her sister the Duchess of Lauraguais. After the death of Madame de Châteauroux, king Louis XV gave it to Madame de Pompadour, who occupied it from September 1745 to May 1751. The king could go there discreetly, by way of his inner cabinets.  The apartment of the Countess of Barry’s last favorite of king Louis XV,  settled in this very large apartment in 1769. The king had, a few years before, excluded these rooms from his personal use to house his daughter-in-law, Marie-Josephus of Saxony, widow since 1765. The latter disappeared two years later and the vacant accommodation was awarded to Mme du Barry. The apartment, which takes up both the cour de Marbre and the cour des Cerfs or deer’s yard, is sumptuous.

king Louis XIV revamped his interior apartment several times. The major transformation took place in 1701, when the sovereign’s Chamber is installed at its current location in the center of the façade to the cour de Marbre. Beyond these halls, whose access is strictly hierarchical and regulated by the rank and etiquette ; all the following parts constitute the private domain of the sovereign to which, in principle, no one can have access if he is not invited. The Salle des Guards or guard’s  room  marks, as in all the royal residences, the entrance of the apartment. His décor is voluntarily sober. It constantly welcomes the bodyguards who take turns every twenty-four hours to ensure the protection of the sovereign. The antichambre du grand-couvert or antichamber of the grand-covered was the room where king Louis XIV was accustomed to supper in public from 1690, after the death of the Queen and that of the Dauphine. It is adorned with a series of eleven battles, and a twelfth painting depicting the Battle of Arbèles. The Salon de l’Oeil-de-Boeuf or  the ox-eye second room of the royal apartment.  The Salon de l’oeil-de-Boeuf is a strategic point of the royal apartment: to the north, it leads to the king’s chamber; In the West, high mirrors doors open directly to the Gallery of Mirrors and allow courtiers to enter or leave the king; On the south wall, to the right of the window, a door leads directly to the Queen, while a staircase, opening on the east wall, leads to the Dauphin’s apartment, located on the ground floor.

The Chambre du Roi or King’s room . Louis XIV transferred his room to the vast living room of nearly 90 sq meters in 1701 , located in the center of the east façade of the castle.  The most important and symbolic piece of the royal apartment, the room serves at several moments of the day: the King holds the ceremonies of “Sunrise” and “bedtime”, dines at his “little cover” and can receive some courtiers or ambassadors. It was in this Chamber that Louis XIV died, on 1 September 1715, after 72 yrs of rule.  The sumptuous decor of gold and silver brocade on the crimson background of the room is embellished with paintings, chosen by Louis XIV himself: four paintings depicting the evangelists and the denarii of Caesar, ; Agar and the angel ; Above-the-door, Saint John the Baptist  Mary Magdalene . On the chimneys, are placed a bust of Louis XIV  a pendulum-barometer as well as four candelabras that belonged to the count of Provence, brother of Louis XVI.

The Cabinet du Conseil or Cabinet of the Council adjoining the King’s Chamber, opened on the Gallery of Mirrors ,took its present form in 1755, under king Louis XV. It is  decorated with decorative motifs illustrating the subjects addressed by the King in his council: war, Justice … The decoration also includes a rock-style pendulum (1754), a bust of Alexander the Great in Porphyry and two vases of Mars and Minerva, in porcelain of Sèvres and bronze,  (1787). The piece also served as a framework for official presentations, a step necessary to be admitted to the court. Mme Du Barry, among many others, made her reverence in 1769. Overlooking the parterre du midi , the Queen’s large apartment is symmetrical to the king’s large apartment . But, unlike the ruler who, from the reign of Louis XIV, left his large apartment, the Queen continued to occupy hers, which explains why the decor was altered several times during the 18C.  The Queen’s Chamber it was there again that the deliveries were held in public: Nineteen “children of France” were born there. The decor retains the memory of the three queens who occupied the room: the compartmentalization of the ceiling goes back to the Queen Marie-Thérèse, but the paintings in grey were made for Marie Leszczinska. All these elements were preserved from the time of Marie Antoinette. During the invasion of the castle by the rioters (French revolution)  in 1789, Marie-Antoinette managed to escape them through the small left door of the alcove opening onto a corridor giving access to the Queen’s inner cabinets, a dozen small rooms reserved for her Privacy and Service.

The salon de Nobles or nobles’ room is the antechamber under Queen Marie-Thérèse, it was in this room that Mary Leszczinska granted her solemn hearings, seated under a dais. She also held her circle, as we called this time of conversation settled with the ladies of the court. Marie Antoinette had the decoration remade entirely, preserving only the paintings of the ceiling, and for her, the walls of Damascus green apple bordered with a large gold braid. The antechamber du grand couvert or  antichamber of the grand cover  was where the public meals were held, the sumptuous ritual of which attracted many people. Only members of the royal family could sit at the table and, in front of them, seated, the duchesses, princesses or holders of high rank having the privilege of the stool, then, standing, the other ladies and persons who, by their rank or with The bailiffs ‘ authorization had come in. The Salle des Gardes or guard’s room was outside of the Queen’s Staircase, also known as “marble Staircase”, was penetrated into the Queen’s large apartment by this guards’ room, where, day and night, twelve bodyguards performed their service with the sovereign. In Versailles, only the king, Queen and Dolphin could have a personal guard consisting of soldiers belonging to these elite units, the four companies of the King’s bodyguards. The next large hall, now known as the Salle  du Sacre or sacred room was also affected. It  used to serve as a bodyguard. The salle des Gardes de la Reine or the Queen’s guards room is the only room where the décor of the 17C has been preserved.

Well I told it was going to be long, I believe my longest post yet. However, all worth it, hope it helps understand my beloved Versailles, the castle is just a part. Enjoy your week, Cheers.

October 29, 2017

The Chateau de Versailles, exteriors

I am back on the nostalgic Sunday. My Versailles is sublime, can’t go a day without thinking of it, visited many many times over the years and again next month; however, living there for 10 years was tops. A royal chic town with friendly folks and history all around you, France, Europe, the World. Unique

I have done posts on Versailles of different kinds over the years but now will do one on simply the exteriors of the palace/museum of Versailles. The architecture is phenomenal and the look from any angle in the city is awesome.

We know from history, that the first mentioned of Versailles goes back to 1038AD as was mentioned belong to the Abbey of Saint Pére of Chartres. From 1607 , king Louis XIII age 6 does his first hunting in the area.  In 1623 king Louis XIII has a serious sickness and need spiritual seclusion when he decides to built a modest manor hunting house of brick and stone on top of a summit in the plains of Versailles  on the road going from Versailles to Trianon , a site called Val-de-Galie

In April 8 1632 king Louis XIII buys the whole property of the Domaine of Versailles from Jean-François de Gondi, the Bishop of Paris. He ordered construction of a nice royal mansion on site and works continue until he passes away. His son , the next King Louis XIV  that was only 4 years old, too young to govern he is chaperone by the regency of Anne of Austria and the construction stop for 18 years!  We know that the future king Louis XIV did his first visit to Versailles in October 1641 with his brother (future Louis XV) to evade an epidemic of chickenpox that was affecting his castle home at Saint-Germain-en-Laye (favorite because he was born here). We know too, that he came back again in 1651 and thereafter more often ,continuing to improved the hunting mansion from 1660-1664. The improvements continue on the period of  1664-1668 where the need to improved the housing is essential for the parties done by the Court especially the famous parties of pleasure of the enchanted island!!!  There is another period from 1669-1672 where the wars are going and the treaties are signed here like the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ending the war of devolution. At this time the palace begins to take the shape as we know it today.

In the period 1678-1684 the  treaty of Nimégue puts an end to the war of Holland and starts the next construction wave on the castle. Now we do the  galerie des glaces (gallery of mirrors) and its twin rooms the salon de la Guerre and the salon de la Paix and the wings of the noble and princes as well as middle wing and huge work on the gardens  as well the decorations in the Grands appartements.  A bit after the defeat in the war of the league of Augsbourg (1688-1697) and under the influence of Madame de Maintenon, king Louis XIV begins the 4th construction wave to the castle from 1699-1710. The Royal Chapel , appartement du roi or kings apartments and the salon du l’oeil-de-boeuf and the bedroom of the king. After these construction the work is stopped as well as the king Louis XIV died.  The brother king Louis XV born in Versailles, in 1710 too young to rule yet alone. His tutor Philippe d’Orléans or regent leave Versailles to be house in the Palais Royal and the court of Tuileries in Paris; it was even suggested to demolished the castle at this time by the duke of Noailles.  He goes on to do three projects here the finished of the Grand Appartement, the renovations of the salon d’Hercule, basin de Neptune, and the extra building the Royal Opéra.

Under King Louis XVI, the improvement continue to create the most luxurious palace in the world, even with a budget.  The Petit Trianon is done for the Queen Marie-Antoinette,by 1777 a wonderful library inspired by Louis XVI; 1783 the cabinet doré is done,  as Louis XVI wanted an exposition room with in 1788 exposition of his personal purchases the cabinet des papillons (butterflies).  After the French revolution the palace suffers greatly and many items are destroyed or sold. The Imperial period of France under Napoléon Ier brings back some of its glory 1799-1814 period in which even Pope Pie VII came to crown the emperor Napoléon Ier and blessed the crowd from a window in the gallery of mirrors . In 1805, the emperor visits the chateau and decides to stop the renovation in it by choosing the Grand Trianon for residence.

The restoration of the crown from 1814-1830 under the youngest of the Louis still alive, King Louis XVIII continues cautiously the restoration known the history of his family and this work is continue by the youngest brother and final bourbon king of France Charles X. From 1830-1870 king of the French Louis Philippe tried to save the castle by doing it as a palace/museum with the motto « À toutes les gloires de la France », to all the glories of France. During the period 1870 under emperor Napoleon III, he only comes to the palace in commemorating the victories of Crimea and Italy but nevertheless is attach to keep the palace in the best condition possible. In 1855 he dines with the Queen Victoria of England in the gallery of mirrors.  The imperatrice Eugénie who follows the cult of Marie Antoinette (as a saint in progress)  provides an additional push to save it and under her influence at the Universal Exposition of 1867 most of the furniture is restituted to the palace of Versailles.

The castle today is an expression of the very best of France. The cours or courts in the front numbered 3 . If you see them from the Place d’Armes facing the city on the threesome avenue de Saint Cloud, avenue de Paris, and avenue de Sceaux.  At the place d’Armes you see an equestrian statue of king Louis XIV.  From this square you pass by the Grille d’Honneur to reach the biggest court that of the cour d’Honneur then comes the Grille Royale that closes the access to the cour Royale. At the end of this court you see five marbres where you find the cour de Marbre all done in black and white marbre.

You follow the building by the central body of the palace, including the Grands Appartements of the castle ,of the king, gallery of mirrors, and grand appartement of the queen, the apartment of the king, small apartment of the king, and the small apartment of the queen.  Follow the apartments of the ladies, lower gallery, apartment of the heir or dauphin and dauphine, apartment of the captain of the guards, the small apartments, interior cabinets of the queen and the apartments of madame du Barry, marquise de Pompadour, and the Count of Maurepas.

Then, the aile du midi or middle wing  including the gallery of battles, congress room, gallery of high south stones, and lower south stones. This then follow the aile du nord or north wing, including Royal Chapel of the chateau, south side, the Royal opera of the chateau north side, the rooms of the 17C, rooms of the 19C, and the crusades rooms, the gallery of high north stones and lower stones north.

You have the gardens (see other post) and the park as well. Then, other buildings such as the Petite Ecuries and Grande Ecuries across the street, the Grand Commun (domestic help housing in the time of the kings and recently renovated) for short, the real name is the « Grand Carré des Offices – commun du Roi, de la Reine, de Monseigneur, de Madame la Dauphine » built 1682-1684  ,to the right of the castle looking out ,and the Ailes des Ministres or Ministers wing.

You,also, have the Grand Trianon, built in 1689 in marble. Petit Trianon, built from 1749 under the influence of the marquise de Pompadour step back from the Grand Trianon. In 1774, Louis XVI offered it to Marie-Antoinette that changes the lieu and had built other construction such as the sculptures of the Temple de l’Amour, Pavillon du rocher or Belvédère, and the royal Théâtre, all done between 1777-1779, as well as the gate or porte Saint-Antoine, built in 1786 near the Hameau.  The Pavillon français is built in 1749-1750.

The Ménagerie was built between 1662-1664.  This was done in the route leading from Versailles to Saint-Cyr, at the extremity south of the Grand Canal. There is a monumental gate going to the ferme de Gally where my boys enjoyed coming to see some of the descendant animals of the Royal period.

The castle is huge and very much a must to see in Versailles or when in the area. However, remember Versailles is the royal historical town of France, there is a lot more than the castle… Enjoy the post and the photos, have a great Sunday ,Salut!!!

October 29, 2017

The gardens of the Chateau de Versailles

It has been a while for my beloved city, where I spent my first 10 years in France. Versailles is unique, not only because of the castle palace museum but the Royal city itself is magical, a charm of old with trés chic ambiance, something clean away from Paris. Do not confuse Versailles with Paris is a world apart. Versailles is department 78 Yvelines , western administrative part of the region of île de France.

I give you the city of Versailles historical context in English info page:  history of Versailles

And the tourist office of Versailles tourist office Versailles

And the part on gardens page of the Chateau/Museum de Versailles: gardens Chateau de Versailles

All essential readings to know this magical royal town of France. Be at the  best for the visit.

We used to go with the boys by the porte Saint Antoine off ave de Versailles and go in by the Hameau of Marie Antoinette for free, wondered in the park and gardens and jog, ride a bike or just plain walk amongst kings/queens. Awesome.  You too can do it. Just take bus 19 at ave Saint Cloud and blvd de l’Europe direction les Mureaux and stop at Arboretum(old park of Versailles kings planted the trees used to be part of the domaine of Versailles/Parly II (great shopping center too); walk down about 300 meters and get on the gate of Saint Anthony or Porte Saint Antoine! More here: Bus 19 to porte Saint Antoine Versailles

Of course, you can come to the front door, lots more crowds to the gardens and if no event like the water musicals is on ,you can come in for free too on certain days like Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. You can also cut across the rue des Reservoirs on the right side of the castle with a bit less crowds. And always if plan to go inside the castle buy your tickets in advance and be there early at opening.

There are imaculate parterres, great basins, an orangery, a vast collection of outdoor sculpture and some of the grandest fountains which have ever been made. The park and garden were designed by Andre Le Nôtre between 1661 and 1700. There are about 386 works of art that makes the gardens like an outdoor museum , includes 221 statues that are with magnificient features: huge parterres, an orangery, famous fountains (which operate….), rich bosquets (ornamental groves), a 1.8 km cruciform canal. The Grand Trianon, another formal garden, was built on the site of a former village. The Petit Trianon was given to Marie-Antoinette in 1774. She favoured the irregular style, with hills, rocks and streams. The Hameau was designed in 1785, as a stage village, for Marie-Antoinette to play with her friends in the idle years before the French Revolution. One particular one often bypass but a must to see is the cave or grotte de Thétys finished in 1670; the cave were done to make believe of the illusion of Apollon as the Greeks had it was the place of where god rests after taking his chariot to enlighten the sky; this cave was isolated from the castle . At the interior, there are motifs of shells to re create a marine cave with statues representing the Sun god believed by Nereides in the central group and horses guards of Tethys the other two auxiliary groups. From a point of view of the hydraulics of the gardens this cave plays a major role; the ceilings had a reserve that kept the water pumped from the lake of Clagny to feed by gravity the fountains in the gardens!

Other attempts with great architecture efforts were tried to feed the gardens of Versailles. In 1682, the machine de Marly (towns of Marly-le-Roi and Louveciennes) and the aqueduct of Louveciennes the latest technology of the 17C were done to link the waters of the Seine river to the Castle and Marly. They were done to replace the windmills cave system that a weak pressure water to feed Versailles; only feeding up to Marly. The need to find a solution continues.  The construction of the Canal de l’Eure was started to direct the waters of the Eure river to the Seine and to Versailles! with a system of aqueducts. There was wars that stop for good this work. Versailles stayed been fed by a system of gravity done with aqueducts like the one at Buc, built between 1684-1686. They had the advantage of never needing upskeep; a total of 30 km of canalisations with lead and melted steel was done in the gardens and 40 kms of underground aqueduct existed at the time to feed the bassins and water spouts of the gardens of the Chateau de Versailles.  Practically, about a third of the cost to built the Chateau was used to feed it with water!!!

During the old regime, the property was much bigger indeed, things the revolution do not want to tell much; do you know? The Domaine de Versailles was done in two sections, one was called the Grand Parc ; this is the region of bushes that encircle today the castle and the town of Versailles (partly walled) , and the Petit Parc, the part surrounded by a wall that were developed into gardens à la Française near the castle.  Today, this division still exists but call differently of course… There is the Grand Parc now call the Parc de Versailles including the green spaces that belongs to the Domaine de Versailles (bushes, fields, garden of the castle of Trianon , and Versailles castle. The Petit Parc, today includes under the Jardin de Versailles all located east of the castle and west of the basin du char d’Apollo, to the north the basin de Neptune,and to the south the Orangerie, and includes the gardens à l Française near the castle.

One of the highlights for me besides the famous statues and fountains in the garden park is the Grand Canal and the rental boats! fun for the whole family that we enjoyed tremendously. It has a length of 1 500 meters and a width of 62 meters built between 1668 and 1671 given a long view of the axis east to west until the Petit Parc.  Here, king Louis XIV ordered the construction of the Petite Venise located at the crossing of the transversal part of the Grand Canal housing the yachts and caravelles boats received from the Netherlands and housing as well the gondolas received as gifts from the Doge of Venice . The  Grand Canal  is located at a low point in the gardens and received the water trickling in from the fountains ; this water was pumped into a network of windmills pumps that were place on top the cave of Thétys to feed the fountains in a closed circuit.

I have to tell that the garden were saved from the French revolution in 1792, when by orders of the national convention many trees were taken down and some parts of the Grand Parc were sold. seeing  a menace to the survival of the gardens , Louis-Claude Marie Richard director of the botanical gardens and grandson of Claude Richard had pleas to the revolutionary government to save the gardens, and eventually he succeeded opening them to the general public. The hospital of Versailles bears his name . The Napoleonic eras ignored for the most part the castle and gardens. The Restauration of the Bourbons in 1814 made the first renovations to the gardens after the revolution; by 1817 king Louis XVIII (brother of Louis XVI) ordered two bosquets ,those of bosquet de l’Île du Roi , and the bosquet du  Miroir d’Eau , both changed into English style gardens to form the garden of the king or le Jardin du Roi.  Finally, the whole complex were saved by king of the French Louis-Philippe(not king of France (difference)) by 1837 under the museum of the history of France ; of which the property is today, a lot more than a castle.

As you read above there is a huge number of statues, and fountains, forest like design spots to really enjoy the property for a whole day alone. Versailles proper as the Domaine of Versailles needs more than a day to visit ,really! Impossible to tell you all here.

Another part of the castle property I love is the Orangerie; located in the parterre du Midi right along the road N10 that goes into Versailles and then into Paris as the old carriage way of the kings entering Paris is the D910 into avenue de Versailles along the Seine…!! The Orangerie is done with a central gallery of 155 meters long surrounded by two lateral galleries located on top of the stairs or escaliers des Cent Marches (Stair of 100 steps) that front the before mentioned road. It has a high of 13 meters and contains more than 1000 trees, oranges, lemons, grenades of which some are centenaries, also, roses all with great big windows. The trees produces fruits and they are shown outside from mid May to mid October each year, weather permitting.

Well , hope this helps, I know is a general view but with so many rather give you the hint ,the will to visit it, you will be glad as millions have! Cheers and enjoy your Sunday!

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October 29, 2017

My travels in the Morbihan XXXVIIII

And on a nice sunny weekend of end October 2017 I write to you about the department 56 Morbihan of Brittany, France!  As I write the temps is 13C and tonight we change the hour , back so 17h or 5pm tomorrow will be 16h or 4pm !! This is something never understood ,we seems to like differences all over when instead we should be more equal.

We did some errands today as usual ,and since I like to share our daily life in France away from the glamour blogs and the idea ,we do not have all dresses like YSL, this is  a continuation of our stories.

We went to Vannes ,is not only the capital city of the department but the main town in everything. In fact, sometimes I think it is the only town lol!!! Well mine is only 7K folks and laidback peacefulness great for family life. We do not complaint.

We got up early by 8h and went to do our banking, taken some cash for the morning market (even if many take bank cards we like the old fashion way in the markets). We went straight to the Marché or market day in the place du poids public in Vannes.

We arrive and parked by the underground parking  République at place de la République just crossing rue Thiers we are in the market; the whole day stay cost only 1,60€ !!!

Once in the market we know our merchants of many visits to we headed straight for our cheese provider the couple Ménacer, and we got our farm made Brie de Meaux, goat cheese from our area, and ewes cheese from the Basque pyrénées ; of course these cheeses have nothing to do with what you get in the supermarket even here in culinary France there are differences. The industrial revolution still going on it seems, and many goods in supermarket match any in the world. Once you get to the farm traditional produce products ,then France moves full steam ahead of all.

After tasting some of the cheeses, and purchase done, we move ahead to our fruit and vegetables stand of folks from nearby area of Séné. Here we got raspberries, blackberries, black grapes, mangos, clementines, pears, and figs. Some already tasted at home and they are sublime!!!

Here , we went not far into the place de Poissonnerie and the Halle aux Poissons or fish market open on Saturdays and great fish and seafood from nearby coasts all fresh and good ,delicious. We went to our local provider from penvins mussels bouchot the very best from our region for 4kg or about 9 lbs.

Once loaded with the goodies, we need to find something to wash it down. Of course, our wine merchant is right there in the Place du poids public ,Nicolas. We load up with about 24 bottles of the liquid red and white to bring to our cellar. The service is always friendly and helpful as the staff already knows us all well.

Finish the tasks, we headed home but continue to do some errands in Vannes. Stopping by the centre commercial Carrefour, we check into the micromania video games store to check on orders, then, the pharmacy there to put to date our health cards, and Carrefour hypermarket to buy some sauces that are needed lol!

And the roundtrip was done. All good and happy we headed back home to cook some good stuff for tonight and tomorrow Sunday, a day of family rest in Breton lands… We are headed into the end of October, some Halloween decorations in the stores are in order but here the celebrations are minimal , much more in Paris. And we are heading to November, where Thanksgiving here is none, some in Paris. Christmas is the big time here and we are ready with some ideas and hoping my wallet is not ruin lol!!!

Stay tune for more goodies in 2017, and you all have a great Sunday wherever you are. Happy travels and good health and cheers to all. Salut

Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes

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October 28, 2017

The streets of Paris, a museum to the world!!!

Who would not want to walk in Paris? The question might make you think a bit…but really should be a go; as the streets of Paris are an open air museum, a grand museum at that. I have done some traveling in France and Paris specifically as working in the city for 10 years while living in Versailles and now visiting often again next month. However, walking the streets is a must, a dire hard must for all.

And yes, that means forget about that wonderful metro experience you have heard or the bus or the tramway or the RER trains, nothing compares to walking in Paris. Oh yes I drive in Paris too, but even that is second to the thrill of walking the streets of Paris. That is the title of my post; The streets of Paris!

How about start with a nice youtube video taken by Bahador Alast which I don’t even know him but the video is nice and makes a good point on my post.

Moving on in my Paris, and will put some photos at the end to show a bit more of what I mean. Paris is a movable feast well it happens all in the street. A bit of a story. When I started working in Paris I came by train from Versailles to Gare Saint Lazare and took metro line 12 to Concorde near my office.  The walking in the underground passage ways was horrible and the folks walk very fast taken me about 18 minutes to get to the office. One day I ask one of  my colleagues for a way to come walking if possible. The colleague told oh yes this is what you do. Go out of gare Saint lazare past rue Saint Lazare and bear slightly left into rue du Havre; past blvd Haussmann by the great department stores, Au Printemps; and continue into rue Tronchet right into the place de la Madeleine; bear left on the Madeleine church and continue on the back on rue Duphot, cross Rue Saint Honoré and bear left than a quick right into rue Cambon; then left on rue du Mont Thabor , then right into rue Rouget de Lisle into my job; time 18 minutes!! The end of public transports in Paris ended, this was back in 2004.

From that moment on, I can go by car into Paris, parked and walk all over even kilometers, miles ; it is an open museum I tell you. Really! and free!!! Many have said it but some picturesques street routes are the rue des Barres by the Church Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais around 15C houses! Rue de l’Abreuvoir in Montmartre;  Cour du Commerce-Saint André right by parallel to the rue de l’ancienne comedie and before reaching blvd Saint-Germain; Rue Montorgueil crossing rue Etienne Marcel; Rue Cremieux by the gare de Lyon, falling into rue de Bercy;Rue des Rosiers in the old jewish quarter ; rue de Lepic into Montmartre again; Rue Saint Antoine from the Bastille area into Saint Paul passing by the place des Vosges nearby; Avenue Winston Churchill ending in the Pont Alexandre III and bisecting the Grand and Petit Palais; and the Quai de Jemmapes along the Canal Saint Martin ; just to give some starting points as they are many many more in Paris.

Another site I would share is the one I even use myself when in doubt about a street of Paris; this is Parisrues, in French of course but the names are universal! Parisrues

Of course , speaking of streets , there are many hidden passagesways some private and other historical passages that connect you underneath some buildings from one street to the other, great! They are here in English from the Paris tourist office:

Another site I use for my research is the Paris Balades also in French but plenty of information if you can translate or undertand it; full of historical facts on each district and street of Paris.

Another site in French I use is Le Paris Pittoresque , full of old historical facts on the streets and more of Paris.

Another site I use and my kids used it for even schoolwork help is the Internaute, in French of course but an alphabet A-Z and listing all the streets of Paris with some info on each and a map showing where it is. Cool!!

Now, I like to tell you about some of my nicest walks in Paris over time.

I like to walk between the Pont d’Austerlitz and the Pont Saint Michel!  You start on the pont d’Austerlitz (b. 1885 en cement)  by place Valhubert  and walk along the Seine river and continue along the quai Saint-Bernard and go down the stairs to the port Saint Bernard where the 5eme arrondissement starts and the neighborhood or quartier of Jardin des Plantes; right here you have the musée des sculptures en Plein Air de la Ville de Paris! More on it here:

You continue along the Seine and pass the Pont de Sully (b 1876) rapidly you arrive at the Pont de la Tournelle (b 1928)  , where you will see the statue to Sainte Geneviévre (saint patron of Paris) and right by here you see the building of the Tour d’Argent well known restaurant done in 1582!!! and on a terrace since 1937 on the 6the floor.  This bridge or pont de la tournelle finish at the pont de l’Archevêché, the narrowest bridge in Paris for traffic with only 11 meters wide;  from here continue to the port de Montebello where you can see the the re routing of the Biévre river windmills that gave the name to the rue de la Biévre (where had to go many times on business runs to office there); from here you can be at  the square Jean XXIII and see the Cathedral Notre Dame back ; continue your walk along the Seine without crossing over the bridge and you find by the pont au Double (b 1883)  ;you can walk on it by the square Jean XXIII and continue in rive gauche or left bank side to the rue de la Bûcherie and rue de la Huchette.  You see the Petit pont (b 1853)  only bridge done in molded stones and the oldest passage of the  Seine river that were done since Roman times, and also the shortest bridge in Paris with only 32 meters long!  It was by here the last fire of Paris in 1718 determine forever not to built homes on the bridges.  After this bridge there is no more harbor or port area but continue walking along the Seine to the Pont Saint Michel with the big N of Napoléon III the bridge built in 1857 in cement. Here was the last houses on the bridge in Paris lasting until 1808. The quai Saint Michel was not done until 1816 while the follow up wharfs that of quai des Grands Augustins was already built since 1313!  Go over the bridge or pont Saint Michel to leave the 5éme arrondissement and enters into the 6éme arrondissement of Paris and the quartier Monnaie (Info/ Paris is divided into 20 arrondissement or districts and each district is divided into four neighborhoods or a total of 80 neighborhoods or quartiers where Parisiens really live::))  Here you go up by the Place Saint Michel to see the monumental fountain of 26 meters !!! Lovely !!!

Another great walking trip along the Seine river is that one from the Pont de la Concorde to the Pont de Bir-Hakeim.  Right along my old working area of Paris you start at the wonderful pont de la Concorde (just off the place de la Concorde go down by the ramps into the Seine river by the port des Champs-Elysées done in 1938 in a pleasure harbor and today housing péniches or boats on the Seine.  You see on the rive gauche side the beautiful mansions of the Palais Bourbon, hotel de Lassay (later the petit bourbon) and now houses the resident of the president of the house of representatives of France or the Assamblée Nationale. Later you see the building of the ministry of foreign affairs done in 1854 and now locally known as the quai d’Orsay, and just before the esplanade des Invalides you see the building with columns and balustres that was from 1900-1946 the train station of the line Invalides-Versailles and today the line RER C underground. There is a stairs giving you access to the cours La Reine at the angle of the bridge or pont Alexandre III (b 1900) ; the bridge is a bit lower to not hide the view of the Invalides; the first stone was laid by czar Nicolas II of Russia in 1896 and becoming the most prestigious bridge of Paris. You continue on the port des Champs-Elysées by an oval stair with great views of the Tour Montparnasse, left the Invalides and high up the equestrian statue of La Fayette was later transferred to the cour Napoléon in the Louvre museum!

You go up to find the Place du Canada (by cours La Reine and cours Albert Ier) to continue your wlak along the Seine river. You will arrive at the Pont des Invalides (b 1856) ;you can continue on the port de la Conférence by the pont de l’Alma going up the ramp at the end into cours Albert Ier where you arrive at the traffic circle or place de l’Alma.  Here you see the wonderful pont de l’Alma (b 1974) after several renovations since the original of 1856.  Here the 8éme arrondissement gives to the 16 arrondissement of Paris in the quartier Chaillot.  Continue along the Seine river into the avenue de New York (quai des Bonshommes in 1572, then quai de la conference 1769, quai de Tokyo 1918-1945 and finally New York since 1945); many meetings in this avenue de New York wonderful Mona Bismarck foundation ;more here:

You have the corner angle of the Palais de Tokyo leave the sidewalks of the avenue NY by a stair that descend on the Seine river ,as the port Debilly and the nice walkway or passerelle Debilly (b 1900); done to link the two portions of the Universal Exhibition of 1900;now it is at the rue de la Manutention.  Leaving the rive droite we come into the port de La Bourdonnais (from the rue de l’Université to the rue Jean-Nicot in the Champ-de-Mars); going up you reach the quai Branly just before the pont de l’Alma now in the 7éme arrondissement , quartier Gros Caillou!  Go right into quai Branly until the ramp coming from the port with a stair, many parking spaces here ::) you see the Tour Eiffel and the Palais de Chaillot, before reaching up the pont d’Iéna (b 1814)  and continue below on the port de Sufffren (of many wine and gourmand tastings in the Pierre Cardin boat Maxim!!!)  many cruising boats here, batobus including good parking yes! and see the pont de Bir-Hakeim ! (b 1905) viaduct metro line 6 above ground as it was known viaduct de passy until 1949. It is the longest of all the bridges in Paris with 237 meters long. Before 1860 you come out from here as Paris to go the town of Grenelle! now part of Paris thanks to Baron Haussmann and Napoléon III! Very nice indeed!

Well you get the idea and so many more wonderful walks, again believe me when I said Paris is an open air museum and meant to be preserve as such. We all have our favorites but I keep saying my favorite every time I write a post lol!!! IN essence ,they are all my favorites.  I will post some photos now.

Enjoy your weekend and happy travels. Cheers!

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October 27, 2017

The train stations of Paris and how to get around them.

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I guess I am on my travel mood…after going all over France by car, train and sometimes bus, I did wrote on getting public transports in the Paris area and even Brittany. Going to the airports etc; but what about the train stations? So many go by them, they are one of the most used in Europe!! And Paris Nord or gare du Nord is tops in Europe!

So, therefore ,why not telling you a bit on them even if always in a general view as there can be so many options, you are free to ask me for details.

Of course, bien sûr   , I have to tell you a bit of history as well. Heck, these train stations all have a story of their own. Sorry, can’t tell you the whole story, too long a history but at least a bit…ok

No particular order of liking it let’s start with the venerable Gare du Nord or popularly call Paris-Nord.

The company that created the station was call the Compagnie des Chemins de fer du Nord, therefore the Gare du Nord in 1846.  The current building dates from 1864. It handles the intercités trains to the North of France ; the Thalys towards Belgium, Nethersland , Germany (with connections to Scandinavia, Poland, and Russia ; the ever popular Eurostar towards London ; the TGV Nord line to  Lille and the main Northern towns  ; the suburbian trains north of Paris such as lines ligne H and K of the Transilien ; TER Picardie ; and stops of the lines RER B and D ; and close to the station of  Magenta on the RER E line. As said , it is Europe’s busiest train station. The Gare du Nord has recently been earmarked for a well-deserved makeover.  The current building has  nine statues crowning the rooftop facade, each representing destinations outside France, with the figure of Paris in the center.  There are 14 more modest statues lower down, representing French regional cities.

Two good sites to get to know this station are here:

And we are just starting, moving on to the Gare de l’Est (my first ever station visited in France as from my wife town it comes into Paris here).  The company was created as the Compagnie des chemins de fer de l’Est , therefore, the Gare de l’Est in 1849. It handles the traffic from to the East of France, Germany, Switzerland, and Luxembourg.  Night trains to Munich and connections to Vienna, Budapest, as well as Innsbruck, Hambourg, and Berline. Also ,the Moscow express trans-european to Minsk and Moscow ;Venice Simplon-Orient-Express : luxury train to the United Kingdom, Italy, Austria, the Balkans, Istanbul and the suburbian trains of the east of Paris such as the line P of the Transilien; near stop at the station of Magenta on the line RER E . Also, future terminal of the  CDG Express towards the  Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport. The Gare de l’Est is just about a five minute walk to the Gare du Nord; its  main claim to fame is being home to the Venice-Simplon Orient Express, the privately run luxury travel experience that became a household name through Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” Confusingly, there’s more than one Orient Express: both traveled through Gare de l’Est, but the Venice-Simplon Orient Express is the one Christie wrote about.It stops here on the way to Venice once a week, but the service to Istanbul has sadly been downgraded to once a year.You’ll know it by its royal blue carriages and upscale dress code (smart casual by day, black tie by night).The Venice-Simplon Orient Express began in 1919, but the original Orient Express service, which connected Paris with Vienna from 1883 to 2009, was a regular overnight express train.

Again more info here:

And we are stepping up to the Gare de Lyon: The company was created as the Compagnie des chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée (PLM) in 1849; therefore, call the Gare de Lyon. It does the TGV trains to the Franche-Comté region and the south of Alsace connecting with the LGV Rhin-Rhône. Also, the trains to the south of France and the Languedoc-Roussillon area; the TGV to Switzerland (myself do the runs on lyria), Spain, and Italy.The TGV Sud-Est, Rhône-Alpes and Mediterranean, the night train Thello to Italy, suburbian southeast trains of Paris, the arrival point for the line R of the Transilien; the stops of the RER A and D. The train station was built for the World Exposition of 1900 and was regarded as one of the finest examples of architecture of its era. Its clock tower is modeled after that of London’s Houses of Parliament,home of Big Ben. I believe it is the prettiest in Paris. It’s also home to one of the city’s most famous restaurants, the Le Train Bleu opened in 1901 with a grand decor to rival the palace of Versailles; painted ceilings, gold leaf and shimmering chandeliers hint of the gilded prices on the menu.Just below is the Montreux Jazz Café, much cheaper and arguably more fun. Between July and August this is one of Paris’s busiest station, with families leaving for the south of France.

More details on Gare de Lyon here:

Moving right along to the lesser known gare d’Austerlitz. This was created as the Compagnie du Chemin de fer de Paris à Orléans (PO) in 1840 as the gare d’Orléans located in the quai d’Austerlitz of which later it took its name to the Gare d’Austerlitz; after France greatest victory during the Battle of Austerlitz by Napoleon. The PO folks decided to extend the line to the center of the capital city and the gare d’Orsay was opened in 1900; unused from the Second World War and transformed in a museum in 1986:Musée d’Orsay; we come to know and love.  The only operating station beside the Seine, Gare d’Austerlitz offers great views across the river, and is one of only two stations on the Rive Gauche, the left bank. On the quayside, the turquoise metal entrance from the Metro bridge into the station offers a contrast to the old stone building, and features a statue representing the destination of Orleans.  The trains to towards the center of France, Toulouse, pyrénées and all night trains of the Intercités network towards the south of France ; Also, Intercités towards Orléans ,and Tours ; The TER Centre-Val de Loire network towards  Vendôme and Orléans ; Stopping point of the line RER C.

More on this station here:

Next we come to my neighborhoods; the company created was the Compagnie des chemin de fer de l’Ouest , purchased in 1908 by the Administration des Chemins de fer de l’Etat that serves the two lines to Versailles,one on the right bank or rive droite,the other the left bank or rive gauche, and that explains why there are two additional stations in Paris.

The gare Saint-Lazare head of the line Paris-Saint-Lazare-Saint-Germain-en-Laye and the line Paris-Saint-Lazare-Versailles-Rive-Droite (rue du maréchal Foch, closest to my old home) .  This line serves the trains to Normandie, suburbian trains of the Paris west, line J of the Transilien, connection by a passageway to the gare Haussmann-Saint-Lazare terminus of the RER E. The station is in the heart of Paris, close by the Place de la Madeleine, Opéra Garnier, and the city’s grand department stores, this is the capital second busiest station! When it opened as a simple wooden structure in 1837 it was the first train station in Paris, but the terminus was soon expanded into its current form. These days it’s largely a commuter terminus,  but it was once the hub for glamorous ocean liner traffic arriving via Cherbourg.  Travel-inspired artwork — a teetering pile of bronze suitcases, a stack of clocks — live in the main square in front of the entrance. An enclosed walkway, La Galerie Marie Antoinette, connects the station with the old world splendor of the Hilton Paris Opera Hotel. As well as a great shopping arcade à la Parisien.!! More on the shopping here (superb!) CC Saint Lazare shopping

More on Gare Saint Lazare here:

The other that I used now the most coming from Brittany is the Gare Montparnasse ,head of the line Paris-Versailles on the rive gauche (this is Versailles Chantier station, Rue de l’Abbé Rousseau ) ,and Paris-Brest.  This station serves the south express to Lisbon, TGV Atlantique (west and southwest of France so like Brittany) TER Basse-Normandie or now just Normandie, Intercités network line Paris-Vaugirard to Granville via Argentan; TER Centre -Val-de-Loire on the line Paris to Le Mans via Chartres; line N of the Transilien serving the suburbs west of Paris. It is a very nice modern glass and steel facade station, you’d be hard pushed to believe it was originally opened in 1840 as Gare de l’Ouest (west). The original building was torn down in 1969 to make way for the 59-story Tour Montparnasse, one of Paris’s least loved buildings.  The views from the top are said to be the best in Paris ; the popular joke being that it’s the only spot from which the tower itself cannot be viewed!

More on the station here:


The seldom used (at least by me) Gare de Bercy  has trains Intercités goings towards Auvergne ; the  Auto-train service; TER Bourgogne (Burgundy) ; and the Pullman-Orient-Express . The station opened in 1977), and  is, also, the smallest and the one located in the least glamorous area. More on it here:

There is a good service in English put out by the SNCF the webpage is here with plenty of information, some locally we like to shorten it such as Gare du Nord we call Paris-Nord (north) , and Gare de l’est ; Paris-Est.(east). The destination guide in the region of Paris here:

and even more on each station information in English here:

Of course, the Paris tourist office has a good layout in English on the main stations here with additional good information:

Two other popular stations that even thus not inside Paris are use regularly by many and of course many visitors; these are the Disneyland Marne-La-Vallée-Chessy station and the Roissy CDG Airport T2 station for the TGV.

Marne La Vallée Chessy station is a purpose-built train station sitting right outside the gates of Disneyland Resort Paris. Marne La Vallée Chessy station welcomes Eurostar trains from the UK to Disneyland Resort Paris. Plus you can catch high-speed TGV trains from the station for journeys across France and beyond. Marne La Vallée Chessy station opened in 1994, two years after Disneyland Resort Paris. It is a smallish station, housing three platforms and five high-speed tracks. Automatic Left Luggage from 07h-22h ; Monday-Sunday & Holidays. Luggage trolleys are also available inside the station. There is a foreign exchange in the station. Disabled facilities: 07h-22h30 Monday-Sunday &  Holidays; at the Welcome Desk;  You should turn up to the reception 30 minutes before your train leaves if you need assistance boarding. Wheelchairs and boarding ramps are also available if required.. You can You can come to the station by RER A. By bus:Disney operates a free shuttle service from the station to all the Disney hotels. By taxi: You can catch a cab at Place des Passagers des Vents in front of the station. On foot:The station is in easy walking distance from Disneyland Resort Paris. More on the sites below.

The Roissy CDG Airport station at Terminal  2 TGV is the train station The station serves both TGV trains and  the RER B line rapid transit system. RER B connects to central Paris, calling at Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est on the way. TGV trains from the station run to many destinations, including Bordeaux, Brussels, Lille, Lyon, Marseilles, Nantes (where I have taken several times), Perpignan, Rennes and Toulouse.  Aéroport CDG Terminal 1 is the next stop on RER B ; the CDGVAL monorail train runs between the terminals as well as shuttle buses. At Paris CDG Terminal  2 , you can securely deposit your baggage at the central lockers located at the CDGVAL station’s exit, near the RER B train station. This service is available 7 days a week, from 6h to 21h30. You can get to the CDG T2 TGV station by Taxi: Go to Level 5 and use the ‘south/sud’ exit. A taxi between central Paris and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) takes about 45 minutes. Cost is around 50-60 euros depends on number of people, luggage and time of day. By Bus on Air France (no need to come on AF) : Buses run every 10 minutes from Place Charles de Gaulle (Arc de Triomphe) , via Port Maillot to CDG Terminals 1 and 2. Journey time is around 40 minutes. Between 07h  and 21.30, buses run every 30 minutes from Montparnasse, via Gare de Lyon to Terminals 1 and 2. Journey time is around 40 minutes. Roissybus service runs between the three airport terminals and rue Scribe in the Opéra district of central Paris. Between 06h and 22.30, shuttles run every 15 minutes and take approximately 45 minutes. By Train: RER line B trains run every 8-15 minutes between the airport and central Paris, with a journey time of around 35 minutes, prices change in July and sometimes January so check the official sites of RATP for updates.


And let’s see , there are connection between all train stations in Paris. Generally, they are all mention on this official link:

Long but on the above link, click on or below:

To come or leave from the gare Marne-La-Vallée-Chessy or Disneyland Paris  you take the RER A direction marne-La-Vallée-Chessy or Paris; the trip takes about 45 minutes to Châtelet-Les-Halles in Paris for example. From the airport, see my previous post on travel from to airports of the Paris region.

Hope it helps your quest to come and enjoy Paris and its region île-de-France a lot better. Again any questions, ask. Is that easy. Enjoy your weekend and happy travels.Cheers!!!! 
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October 26, 2017

Getting around in Brittany or Bretagne or Breizh…

Port de Crousty Quimper Concarneau Quimper Quimper Roscoff Auray lorient lorient Auray Auray lorient lorient lorient Quiberon Quiberon Vannes Vannes Port de Crousty

People come and go and go around in my Brittany, but they always ask me for public transports, not the best in the country…car is still king; but we do have as in France overall good public transportation to take you all over Brittany. I will try to tell you about some of that.

There are still great train coverage even TGV lines from Rennes to Brest, Quimper and Saint-Malo, the rail system provides Brittany with a good service. With today’s expected speeds: the TGV takes 1,25 hours from Paris to Rennes and 2,25 hours from Paris to Vannes even 3,25 to Brest; other TGV lines offer direct connections between Rennes and Lille , Lyon, Strasbourg and Marseille amongst some. The TER (Transport Express Régional, or express regional transport services by train and bus) successfully serves the main cities in Brittany. The main webpage is Voyages SNCF

There are others for the TER Bretagne here: TER Bretagne

And a very popular line in summers from Auray to Quiberon peninsula the Tire-Bouchon or corkscrew train service here in English: Tire Bouchon train

By car is snap, located 5h30 hours from Paris to Vannes by road the A13 inland and the Autoroute des Estuaires  A84 by the coast from Rennes to Caen. From Rennes, a complex network of dual carriageways and 2×2 lanes connects to all the cities in Brittany: Rennes-Lorient, Rennes-Vannes, Rennes-Brest, Rennes-Quimper, Rennes-Saint-Malo, Rennes-Saint-Brieuc, Rennes-Nantes, etc. Unlike other road networks in France, it is toll-free roads as per Breton tradition since 1532!!!. It is said that Brittany’s free road network is a legacy of Anne de Bretagne who ordered the abolition of tolls between Brittany and France while married to the King of France. In fact, it is as a result of a political decision taken in the 60s to open up the region to the rest of the country.  The expressways are here Autoroutes de France

There are ,also, many roads with no tolls such as coming out of Paris on the A13 get off at the A12 direction Rambouillet and get on the lane for the N12 direction Chartres, Le Mans and take you all the way to Fougéres and into Brittany.

The carpooling vogue is big here and plenty of sites offering this service with bays of parking specifically design for the exchange meeting place. More can be found here in each department of the region of Brittany, Finistére 29, Côtesd’Armor 22, Morbihan 56, and Ille et Vilaine 35:

In Finistère :

In Côtes d’Armor :

In Morbihan :

In Ille-et-Vilaine :

There are eight airports in Brittany: Brest , Rennes, and Lorient , Quimper, Dinard , Lannion , Morlaix and Saint-Brieuc. There are daily flights to Paris from Brest, Rennes, Lorient, Quimper and Lannion), and connections with national and European cities are available. An international airport will soon be built in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, between Rennes and Nantes but still with a lot of controversy by the ecologists. We do are serve as well by the airport in old Brittany, Nantes Atlantique which I used the most by far. The others I have used are the ones in Lorient and Rennes.



The ports of Saint-Malo and Roscoff welcome travellers heading to the UK (Portsmouth, Plymouth and Poole) and Ireland (Cork), with the port of Saint-Malo also experiencing busy traffic to and from the Channel Islands. Regular ferry services connect Brittany to its many islands: Île aux Moines, Île d’Arz, Île de Bréhat, Île de Batz, Ushant, Molène, Île de Sein, Belle-Ile, Groix, the Glénan Islands, Houat and Hoëdic.
Brittany has 5 major trading ports: Brest, Lorient, Roscoff, Le Légué and Saint-Malo.

Port of St Malo :

Port de Roscoff:

And more from Brittany tourist office on cruise, passengers boats in Brittany:

Many modes of transports are explain here in Brittany’s tourist site :

We have plenty of cycling paths and it is a heaven on earth here, very much in vogue and see next edition of the Tour de France passing by Brittany in one of my recent previous posts.

Brittany’s network of cycle paths and walking trails is part of the quality of life and is one of the region’s tourist attractions. There is a network of routes approved by the Fédérations Françaises de Cyclisme et de Cyclotourisme. This will allow you to explore the Breton peninsula along the coast, cross east to west along the canal from Nantes to Brest and travel inland from north to south. It is part of the European route that goes from the north (Stockholm) to the south (Lisbon) of Europe via Brittany. More on the Federation and renting bikes in France on the official site in French:

Bus service is pretty good especially in major cities ,a lot less in the country. In my town there is only one bus service line 5 TIM passing 2-3 hours intervals. If you ever in the area from Vannes, Auray etc this is the line in pdf file format:

The four Breton departments work together to offer affordable transport by bus/coach.

In Finistère :

In Côtes d’Armor :

In Morbihan :   www.

In Ille-et-Vilaine :

A site in French showcasing all the types of transport in Brittany is here:

To make your journeys by public transport simpler, you can use to work out all your journeys by train, coach, bus, metro, tram and boat. The site in English:

How to find transport information on each department/province/state  with their id number in Brittany:

Côtes d’Armor 22

îlle et Vilaine 35

Finistére 29

Morbihan 56

And specifically on each major city in Brittany (I took a sample of Brest, St Malo, Rennes, Vannes, Lorient, Quimper, Morlaix, St Brieuc, Pontivy ,and Fougéres), the tourist office has excellent info on how to come here :

This of course is a general overview of the major cities and departments, much is more, if you ever by here and need to know how to get around, let me know.  Enjoy Brittany as much as I do;some pictures to enhance the post to follow.

Enjoy your week wherever you are and happy travels, Cheers!!

October 24, 2017

Some news from Spain LIII

I am back on the Spain trend, this is a natural. Lots of goodies going on with the cultural tourist side of my beloved Spain. It will survive as it has for centuries together.

The temp in Madrid tonight is  67 nice sunny that is about 22C and no rain in sight with plenty of good weather for the rest of the week.

I did a big post on things going on in Spain last LII but figure there are still plenty more nice ones for the Fall season and even Winter coming up , so, therefore, here they are:

You like to do bicycles in a city well Madrid has BiciMad.  And it has become bigger and better with 42 new stations. Some of the district even got multiple stations such as Arganzuela, Salamanca , and  Chamartín.  As well for the first time going outside city center into past the M-30 beltway and into my  Ciudad Lineal, and Puente de Vallecas. Arganzuela, even goes from 11 to 22 stations!!! with one near the bus station or  Estación sur de Méndez Álvaro and another in Legazpi. Salamanca,already has 27 stations but will add 10 to bring closer the interchange transports area of Avenida de América.  Chamartín  will add 6 more stations such as in  Tetuán,(4) and  Retiro, (3).  With these new additions BiciMad will have 468 new bicycles for a grand total of more than 2.500 for about  62.000 users .  The city /town hall is looking forward to have double the service by 2019, reaching 4.000 bikes and 350 stations. It is been look into connect the service with the University or Universidad Complutense de Madrid. More here in Spanish:

Another anecdote and of course we all have used it one time or another , I know I had even this past August in Cuenca. There are 21 968 pharmacies in Spain. The country of the OCDE with the most pharmacies per 100K inhabitants with 47.3 while the median is 25,1 according to the General council of official colleges of pharmacies or in Spanish : Consejo General de Colegios Oficiales de Farmacéuticos. In these pharmacies you have working 49 429 pharmacists and if count the technical staffs as well giving direct employment of 80 000 persons; this from the enterprise federation of Spanish Pharmacists or Federación Empresarial de Farmacéuticos Españoles (Fefe).  There is a pharmacy for each 2.119 inhabitants while in Denmark it is for each 15.000 ,Sweden one for each 7.500.  Today, pharmacies cover about 98% of all municipalities in Spain. You are well covered!

Let’s get back to the Arts! There is a new play call weddings of blood or Bodas de Sangre from a work of Federico Garcia Lorca showing at the Teatro Maria Guerrero until December 10 2017.  It speaks of the relation between the fiction and reality.  You get to the theater by metro Colón, Banco de España or Chueca. More here in Spanish:

And how about a whole neighborhood or district full of Arts, well there is one in Madrid. It is call the Barrio de las Letras or literature neighborhood. The Barrio de las Letras  takes its name from the many writers that had lived there over the centuries.  In this neighborhood you had met Lope de Vega ,Quevedo,Tirso de Molina , Ruiz de Alcarcón, Moratín , and Bécquer.  To honor them, there is a spectacle that will presented by the Compañía Nacional de Teatro Clásico (National company of classical theater) in the room or Sala Tirso de Molina; until October 29th.  This is a trip by its streets to discover literary pages.  This is the neighborhood of most talent per square meter in Madrid . The spectacle is divided in three parts ; the first one is from writers from the 16C and 17C such as Lope de Vega, Cervantes,  Quevedo ,and Góngora.  The second part is centered around the world of Cafés such as the Fonda de San Sebastián , and the talks or  tertulias del Parnasillo such as in the Espronceda, Larra, and  Mesonero Romanos as well as the black cat or Gato Negro in Benavente, and Valle Inclán). The third is from the action in the 19C with writers like Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, Espronceda, the composer Eusebio Blasco , Galdós, Benavente, Echegaray, and  Elena Fortún. See more here in Spanish:

More on the neighborhood Barrio de las Letras here in English:

Moving right along into drawings and David Aja, who once met the master Will Eisner in a summer course at El Escorial and told him ,you will be a comic designer one day. Well Davis is today one of the most renown and complete of its genre and header of the American comics Marvel where he worked on the series «Hawkeye» («Ojo de Halcón»), «Harnak» ,and «Scarlet Witch» («La Bruja Escarlata») and recognised with prizes. Now you can see his latest work at the Patio Herreriano de Valladolid, «David Aja. Primera Retrospectiva»  to January 7 2018 with 350 pieces showing the positive side and his principal influences such as David Mazzucchelli, Alex Thot or Frank Miller. In addition, the last graphic novel still undone will be  «The Seeds» and will be arriving at the shelves in March 2018. More here in Spanish:

More into drawing expositions is MartinMorales, El Dibujo Inagotable, 50 Años de Contribucion al Humor Gràfico Español.  Running until December 10 2017.  Francisco Martinmorales is one of the designer drawers of the gold half last century together with Forges, Màximo Peridis and El Roto.  This exposition will be divided into 6 sections resuming his life and as well a humoristic tour of Spain in the last 50 years.  First section is the origin of the censure showing drawing about free expression, prohibit drawings and old jokes from the old days such as Tejero, and the 23-F. Then, the period of Felipismo such as dedicated to Felipe Gonzalez, and then from Aznar to Bambi and the election of Rodriguez Zapatero.  All drawing published in the newspaper ABC from 2007 to 2010; the last drawing been digital with the computer. All can be seen at Museo ABC calle Amaniel, 29-31. Tel  +34 91 758 83 79; from Tuesdays to Saturdays  from 11h to 20H and Sundays 10h to 14h, admission 3 euros. more here:

Another anecdote of a wonderful Spanish tradition, as told by the entrepreneur Simon Casas who handle the plazas of Las Ventas, Nimes, Valencia, Zaragoza , and  Alicante. On a conference at the Centro Cultural Miguel Delibes, Valladolid ; where he said «la tauromaquia es el arte donde conviven la vida y la muerte». Or the toro tradition is an art where life and death live together.  As told during the XXII Jornadas Taurinas de Castilla y León, organized by the  Consejería de Cultura y Turismo de la Junta.

Let’s take a ride in Castilla y Léon. We can visit Pedraza, province of Segovia. Just hour and a half by car from Madrid. And only  37 km from Segovia. To come to a medieval town with walls ramparts with just one gate to access it, a gate from the 11C rebuilt in the 16C by lord of Pedraza. A castle as well from the 13C with all trimmings including a tower , well, levy bridge, and exterior wall with canons emplacements .  It was in the hands of the Fernández de Velasco, dukes of Frías, and constables of Castilla,  You see the atelier of famous painter Ignacio Zuloaga, that purchased it in 1926, restored it as well. Today, it is a museum with works by the artist including a portrait of the Countess of Baena by Goya, a Christ by El Greco and a Flemish one of the 17C.  Each Friday of the month you have a guided visit as well as the museum with prior reservation.

There you have the typical central square with romance Church of San Juan, baroque with its tower; the square for the families to walk to see the bullfights from the balconies since 1550 until today and its patron saint feast in early September ; the mansions and blazon houses from the 16C and 17C, on which one of them lodged king Carlos IV, and each July it is celebrated the Concerts of candles or Concierto de Velas,  where all the lights of the town are turn off  and windows are closed while playing music.  It is said that it houses a house for the emperor Trajan and the cave showing paleothic drawings named the Griega or Greek . And the gastronomy is excellent here known as the restaurant of Madrid  especially on Sundays and festivals where the  lechazo (roasted lamb) and cochinillo asado (roasted pig) , white beans from la Granja, and the drink ponche segoviano. You can try all of these in my favorites places since young the restaurante La Olma de Pedraza, a mansion from the 16C with two terraces in the square or plaza del Álamo. Another equally good alternative is the El Yantar de Pedraza, at the Plaza Mayor with its own balcony, where you can ,also ,try the patatas revolconas (potato dish), sopa castellana(Castilian soup)  or the huevo de oca del Duratón (goose egg from Duraton. Restos here:

Tourist office and city hall of Pedraza in Spanish:

Another wonderful area of my beloved Spain is Jàtiva, (Xativa) Valencia. In the interior of the Comunidad Valenciana only 60 kms south of Valencia. You come to the monumental Jàtiva.  Guarded by an impressive fortress and an old town with an enormous heritage lineup.  Here it was the episcopal seat of the Visigoth era, birthplace of Popes Borja 15C and stalwart of the Austria’s in the war of Succession 18C. It is known the town has canals and sources dating back to the Muslim times and sometimes call the city of the thousand fountains! All divided into 3 forms , the royal, monumental, neighborhood/individuals such as the Fuente Real of 25 water spouts with a dozen water handles of bronce in the form of snakes where water comes out constantly. It is located in the square or Plaza de la Fuente Real, done in 1806 to replace an Islamic spout from the 11C. Here in the old town you see the Plaza de la Trinidad, and the fountain or Fuente Real de la Trinitat (last third of the 15C), the oldest in the city with a rare gothic fountain still preserve; located right in the old royal road where you will see meeting the buildings of the Palacio de Alarcón (1730), now the courthouse and the antiguo Convento de la Trinidad (15C), now the municipal archives .  In nearby you see the basilica or  Colegiata Basílica de Santa María, or La Seu (16C), of which the construction of it took 400 years. It houses an important collection of sacred art.  The fountain or Fuente Real de San Francisco was renovated in 1764 and located in the square of Plaza de San Francisco, baroque style and on the cup there is an image of  San Francisco, replacing the original lost end of the 19C.  The fountain or La Fuente Real del León (1818 neo classic style) , and the  Fuente Real de los Peces this one from the mid 19C located in the Plaza del Trinquet, was built to give drinking to the animals and the people. The castle or Castell is located in the heights of the sierra Vernissa, worth a detour with steep roads of 2 kms, and you see the emplacement of the people Iberic, Romans ,Visigoths, Arabs and Christians, where it is recommended to stop to see the beauty of the country.  The first stop should be at the lookout or Mirador del Bellveret, where the old wall ramparts ends with fantastic views of the city . You continue your journey to the ermitage or Ermitas de Sant Josep (end  18C ) and the Ermita of  Sant Feliú,one of the oldest Churches in the region dating from  1265.  It was built on the old place of the Saetabis , Roman and Visigoth place .  Between way of the two Churches you have the arqueological park with the remains of a Islamic palace from the 12C now only visible the tower or  La Torre Ametlla, of gothic origins, and the  Torre del Sol (almohavic style  1201) on the edge of the mountain. Finally, you reach the castle a double fortress form by the minor castle the oldest part of Iberian roman origins and the major castle or Castell Major, next to the  Plaza de Armas,built in a medieval period and better preserve. Here you find the entrance gate, lookout tower, water depot, chapel, prison cells and gardens. Admission is 2,40 euros . If you do not like to walk or can’t there is a small train ride by all the old town and the castle days out at 12h30 and 16h30 from the Fuente del León. Price 4,20€. More on tourism here in English:

And let’s talk about one of my favorite subjects, wine. Spanish wine is very good and much improve in the last few years. One of the best are Capataz, fino, solera de la familia, Montilla-Moriles, Bodegas Alvear, 24€ a new bottle from the oldest bodega of Spain!!! that is big words. an old fino or amontillado young, fresh and powerful, biological upbringing for 12 years and now electric!  More here: The other is Fino del Lagar, Saca spring 2017, Bodegas Toro Albala, Aguilar de la Frontera, 10€, created in honor of the old wines of Lagar with 10 years ageing , powerful, strong aromas of bread, dry fruits, olives and glicerine good acidity, lots of corps with character and personality of its own. Magical!  More here:

And a bit of news from the wine groves, we have; the  Grupo Peralada announced the purchase of the Navarra group of Grupo Chivite, and as well the labels  Gran Feudo, and  Viña Salceda. This as well as the acquisition of the ecological cellars of Privat and the bodega Oliver Conti, to increase its coverage of the  La Rioja,where it already had the firm of  Fin de Siglo, entering now into  Navarra, Ribera del Duero , and Rueda.  The Grupo Peralada has ongoing construction of a new bodega in Empordà, where it will be introducing their wines with a production of 2,8 million kilos of grape ; the opening is expected for  2019 . This fusions solidify the Grupo with sales of 60 million euros and presence in about a hundred markets in the world. More in English here:

The newspaper El confidencial section Gentlemen shows again for 2017 the best 50 wines of Spain from reds, whites and sparklers and sweets. They do this every year, and the selection I cut it down to my favorites that I have tried. This is the whole lineup in Spanish:

Porrera 2014 Vi de Vila.  this is from the  cariñena and some  old garnacha  in new oak barrels and then another fermentation in vases and amphora’s of terracotta. Great find indeed.

Alabaster 2014.  a heavyweight Toro with fruity elegance complex and unctuous , very old grapes of tinto del pais ; superb.

Pago Garduña 2013.  This is a great syrah from the high elevations protected by trees around the vinyard. From bodegas Abadia Retuerta;

Others are in no particular order;  Viña Pomal Vinos Singulares Graciano 2012 ; Gran Reserva 890 2004 ; Mauro VS 2012 ;  Pago de los Capellanes 2010 Parcela El Picón;  Viña Pedrosa 2011 gran reserva ; Marqués de Griñón 2013 syrah ;  Enate Uno 2010 ; and  Ramón Bilbao Viñedos de Altura 2014.

Two sweet wines that I adored are:

Jorge Ordóñez nº 2 Victoria 2012.  Once in the region 15 years ago Mr Ordóñez  took all the grapes used to make pasas in the axarquia of Malaga area and turn it into wine 100% Moscatel de Alexandria, sweet white of immense complexity, just superb.

Pedro Ximénez de añada 2014 PX.  A precious amber color for this sweet of the grape Pedro Ximénez  a notable generous wine . Very aromatic notes that settles into the glass with notes of figs, toffee, almond liquor, critics and other memorable moments that bring to the mouth a seditious texture.

Pazo de Señorans Colección 2012 ; great notes of quince paste or membrillo and honey wonderful from Galicia.

And they you have it. I told you Spain is everything under the Sun. Enjoy it, have a great week y’all. Cheers




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October 23, 2017

And yes there is a Colon in Havana but is for the dead.

Wow, it’s been a long time do not write anything on Cuba, but as not often there nowdays the inspiration is minimum. There was a nice site I pick up that mention very good information on it,and it brought my attention to the cemetary of Colon in Havana, the largest in the Americas, many have said.

I have I believe one old picture from it that had include in previous posts on Havana and will include here and some maps from the site I read. The site is the NORFIPC , more of that later.

Part of my rich heritage is of several nationalities and one of them is Cuban, where I was born in Havana. It has been a long time out of it and scarse visits but the memories of old always stay with me. Oh yes I am ,also, Spanish, American, and French ::)

The cemetery or necropolis of Colon is in city center of Havana, the biggest in the Americas and one of the most important of the world. There lies the most important persons in Cuban society since it opened in 1886. From 1854 it was already thought to do a cemetery to replace the Espada, the first in Cuba and Latin America.  The Colon was renovated already in 1934.  It is 140 acre (57 ha) cemetery!!!

The cemetery is rectangular with four sections and two wide large avenues forming a big Cross. In the center there is the Chapel where the funeral services are held; the tracing is done by cardinal points NW NE, SE, and SW. At each cardinal point there is a grand entrance , the biggest is at Zapata with 12 street known as the Puerta de Triunfo or an Arch de Triomphe. On top there is statues representing faith, hope and charity.  The Latin writing on it Janua sum pacis means I am the gate of peace.

The cemetery has over 56 000 mausoleums chapels, pantheons, galleries etc where they are buried about 2 million persons.  The most majestic monuments are along Avenue de Colon in the north entrance. At the Avenida de Colón to the right of the north entrance you see the monument to the firefighters ,at the center the Central Chapel and on  the left part of the pantheon of  Catalina Lasa. Others here are the monument to the 8 medicine students, the pantheon of the prelates on which bishop Espada lies, the pantheon of the Falla-Bonet family, the chapel of Pedro Baro and Catalina Lasa, the chapel of Conde (count) Rivero, and the pantheon of Marta Abreu.

The Central Chapel was built in 1886  in a roman-byzantine style been the only octagonal religious building in Cuba. It has a wonderful mural painting showing the Final Judgment and the stained glass showing different Saints and Bible stories were brought from Cologne, Germany.

There is a humble tomb of the couple of  Amelia Goyri and José Vicente Adot. Amelia Goyri de la Hoz is known as the Miraculous or La Milagrosa, because for many years has given wishes and petitions making miracles to those seeking solutions to their problems. On top of the tomb there is a sculpture of a woman, with a child in one hand and the Cross in the other.

Other famous tomb with a story is that of Catalina Laza and Juan Pedro Baró. When they met she was already married to Luis Estévez Abreu, son of the Vice President of the Republic of Cuba, and who refuse to give her the divorce. Nevertheless, Catalina and Juan continue their relationship for many years until finally the Pope gave the divorce in 1917 confirm by then President of Cuba Mario Menocal. In 1926 they built a luxurious palace at 406 Calle Paseo where they lived and Juan gave her a new Rose flower her favorite colors of rose and yellow. Unfortunately, happiness did not last long as Catalina fell sick and died in 1930. She was beautiful and on her last years hide to no one can see her face. Juan ordered to built a pantheon design in a form that the rays of the sun penetrating through glass will draw a rose similar to the one she carried. She was buried with all her jewelry and under a hard cement dome so nobody could violate here peace. Juan died ten years later and is buried at the foot of the tomb.

Another popular one is of the one of the rests of Jeannette Ford Ryder, and her loyal  dog  Rinti:It is known as the Fidelity tomb or the Lady of the dog such as  La Tumba de la Fidelidad, or La Dama del perrito.   Jeannette Ford Ryder an American lady (1866-1931) came to Cuba in  1869 where she found the Piedad or pity Bando a philanthropic organization doing charity work helping domestic animals, invalid women, children, orphans and poor in general. At her death at 65 yrs old, her loyal dog Rinti stayed at the tomb until he died. The employees left food for the dog and the dog refuse until dying of sadness. This tomb is at quadrant S.O.(SW) street or calle 14 between H and  Fray Jacinto.

Other famous tombs are the pantheon of the Basque Navarre association or  Asociación Vasco-Navarra de Beneficencia.  Calle 3 between G and F.  The tomb of World Chess Champion  José Raúl Capablanca; it has a big piece of white king that goes higher than the others and located at  Calle 8 between  A and B. The first person buried in the cemetery was in September 29 1872 of the architect builder of it ,the Spaniard Calixto de Loira. Buried in the gallery or Galería de Tobías, this was a underground gallery of 100 meters long. Intriguing a month later his replacement also died and now a legend is on of malediction to all those who had a hand in building this cemetery.

There is even someone who is buried erected on foot! The last will and testament of the men askf or this and it was done.  His name was Eugenio Casimiro Rodríguez Carta  sentenced in 1918 to life in prison while lucky met in the prison a María Teresa Zayas, the daughter of the then President of Cuba who felled in love with him. He was finally let go and married the lady, took a great political career even a seat in the House of Representative, becoming rich and powerful. He ordered built his pantheon at Quadrant N.E. 22, Campo Común. Vertically!

There was a time that folks thought the famous Cecilia Valdés was just a personage out of fiction from the writer Cirilo Villaverde, but after some searching it was found that it was indeed a women name like that and she rests here. She was beautiful mulata (mix black and white person) that was very pretty and was even call the little virgin of copper. The rests of  Cecilia Valdés  daughter of the royal house of maternity or Real Casa de Maternidad who died in 1893 at the age of  86 rest at quadrant N.E., square 6, Campo Común.

It even has tombs of the fallen from WWI and WWII  at Avenida Zapata and Calle 30 (Street) The remains of the casualties are located in the mausoleum of the Anglo-American Welfare Association.

The information details taken from the site in Spanish:

Some of the notable names buried here are: Manuel Arteaga y Betancourt, Cardinal , Hubert de Blanck composer, Federico Capdevila, lieutenant Colonel of the Spanish Army who defended the medicine students in 1871; Alejo Carpentier, writer and musicologist, Eduardo Chibàs, politician,  Dr Carlos Finlay, physician and researcher (discovered mosquito of the yellow fever) ; José Migule Gomez, President of Cuba, Maximo Gomez, hero of the war of Independence, Harrison E Havens US Congressman , José Lezama Lima, writer and poet, Dulce Maria Loynaz, poet novelist; Adolfo Luque, Major League baseball pitcher ; Armando Marsans major league baseball outifielder , William Alexander Morgan, US combat soldier even against Batista and Castro;  Juan Rius Rivera, Puerto Rican military hero, etc etc


Just one of the oddities of Havana ,you will have a map of the cemetery as well.  I am not going to tell you to go to Havana to see this, but if you are in the neighborhood , why not, very educational and historical too.


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