Archive for December, 2017

December 31, 2017

Happy New Year, Bonne Année, Feliz Año Nuevo 2018!!!

A very special brief post on wishing you all a very very Happy New Year and best wishes for 2018. May all your hopes and dreams come true in good health. We stay home as in the last few years, with the kids grown and far from family we do not want to go out into the crowds of end of year.

We decided to cook a nice roast duck  breast in Madeira sauce all home made by the expert French cook in the family, my wife. Then, we added dauphiné potatoes, and dish of cheeses like goat, brie, awe milk ,and comtal , and ice cream log or buché glacé of various flavors. All wash down with Champagne Tsarine Brut for the apéro, and Chateau Patache d’Aux  Médoc 2012, and Chateau Saint Martin red Listrac-Médoc 2012 , both wines from the Bordeaux region.

We started with various amuse buche biscuits, coated peanuts in fruit flavors, potato chips chorizo and cheese, olives in garlic without seeds, and the Wolfberger Gewurztraminer Alsacien white 2016.  A grand total of 6 persons, including my immediate family and my father. We had some wonderful jelly of passion fruit from Guadaloupe as well as the chocolate ice cream log.

All the while we switch TV from the celebration in the Champs-Elysées news flash, as well as the TVE celebration in the Puerta del Sol at Madrid . It was wonderful, I had a cam camera of it and was great indeed! Just for a bit of ambiance as best we can. We constantly stay in touch with family and close friends by Facebook and Skype and this year Whatsapp.

The town was quiet and with police training on avoiding firecrackers in my area. The temps is a bit rough as we are having the storm Carmen passing by temps are at 9C or about 48F but high winds heavey rains at times ,and expecting the high tide to go by coefficient of 100 that can create flooding in coastal towns.

Another year goes by, and I to begin work tomorrow January 2nd after two weeks vacation; it’s going to be tough. Then, by mid month will fly out to Asia for a week as last year! The year will be critical as we will know our retirement options by end year and then can really prepare for it. So far, we think we will remain here in lovely Morbihan Breton.  Too far to figure where we will be going on trips, but me on China and maybe Tenerife, Spain looms possibles. Anyway , we are not long range planners but last minute ::)

Again happy travels and best wishes for all followers and readers of my blog in 2018. Cheers!!!

December 30, 2017

My travels in the Morbihan, LVII

Well plenty of time and short trips so we continue in the local experience saga in the Morbihan Breton. Today again was a cloudy gray cool rainy day with ups of 13C or about 55F. We cruise near us all day.

We started out in the morning going to our local pharmacy (pharmacie de la Place)  for the new medicines for the lady, this is a nice place and friendly folks. They are at place du marché in our town; see photo. More here: http://pharmacie.pharmavie.fr/378529-pharmacie-de-la-place-pluvigner

WE could not get everything and some were left to pick up later, so we continue onwards.

We needed to get more bio medicine in Santé Nature store in rue d’Auray, Baud, part of the La Vie Claire bio chaine. Very friendly fokos and always a chat .Their store is here: http://www.lavieclaire.com/magasin-bio/baud.html

Baud, is another small picturesque town here with a museum of post cards ! More on the town here: https://www.mairie-baud.fr/culture-et-patrimoine/histoire-et-patrimoine/

We drove to the country roads of the D779 and D16 near me, and continue on to Auray.

This is the town we lived before when we moved to the Morbihan, Brittany and lived on the outskirts of it.  Their tourist office is here: http://www.auray-tourism.com/

Leaving Pluvigner we left the market day on Saturdays behind and went on to do our last grocery shopping of the year at the E Leclerc of Auray in the parc of ZA Kerbois just across from the parc ZA Océane and very near the expressway N165 as well as the gateway to the beaches of Carnac and Quiberon etc.  The hypermarket Leclerc is here : http://www.e-leclerc.com/auray

We did quite a bit of shopping as we dig for apéro or amusebouche for the New Year at home. We will be following the TV on the activities in Paris avenue des Champs-Elysées! Starting at 23h30 tomorrow. The store was lively with plenty of folks all doing the same.

We past by the town of Pluneret just off the N165 expressway before arriving in Auray on the D768.  Part of the agglo of Auray and same tourist office ,their city page is here: https://www.pluneret.fr/situation-geographique-plans#

WE did our round up n the area and came back home early to rest and prepare for the big weekend, sad part I go back to work on Jan 2nd yikes!

We passed by another small town we go by a lot this is Camors on the D779 road.  Very old Bretons buildings to see, and also accessable from the D768 road. More in the city page here: http://www.camors56.fr/cadre-de-vie/histoire-et-patrimoine?showall=&start=1

Coming home we tried the wonderful real on the spot Brie de Meaux  ,St Faron, we got after visiting the town birthplace of my wife , the cheese was superb as usual and we purchased a whole round wheel of it or 3,5 kg or 7.7 pounds. We included with our exotique Antilles grocery store Hibiscus in Vannes and delicious mangos and rose guava ; then moros  (moors) dark rice and sweet plantains like been in the Caribbean again !: accompany by a white loire wine of Domaine du Grand Air Gros Plant 2016.

http://www.hibiscus-vannes.fr/

http://www.tourisme-paysdemeaux.com/1685-fromagerie-de-meaux-saint-faron

http://www.domainedugrandair.fr/

We are now cozy , ate good, and relaxing for the night TV and thinking what to do tomorrow before the hordes takes over the roads for the New Year parties. It’s been a long time since participated in these night long parties, they were full of great memories and fun, now is another responsibility that I take seriously.  Nowdays , the activities and fun are all concentrated in Paris , for the most part. Here is a site in English with plenty to do; hope it helps find yours if in town. http://www.newyearseve.paris/

We will wait what 2018 has for us, wishing all the best to readers and friends of my blog, you have made it easier to cruise along the year 2017 and looking forward to be here in 2018 with the daily life of ordinary working folks in France. Cheers!

 

 

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December 30, 2017

Some news from France CLXXVIII

Let me tell you some last minutes news on my belle France closing out 2017. The weather is wet and cool all over and snow already in the Alps, some heavy traffic situations there, and strong winds in the Mediterranean part. Here chez moi, all is very quiet just the usual rainy day.

The event at Versailles is Kapla, where visitors could admire the work of the model construction of most of the grand monuments of Europe, like the tour Eiffel, Sagrada Familia, Tower of Pisa, Big Ben etc. At the Espace Richaud until Jan 14 2018. From 12h to 19h admission 5€ adults free for under 26! More here: http://en.versailles-tourisme.com/this-month-in-versailles/exhibition-kapla-at-the-richaud-space-1327482

At the parvis de la Grande Halle de la Villette you will see a great rides event, this is the 2nd edition of the fun fair or Jours de Fête giving your family over 30 rides including a nice ice skating rink, carrousel etc.Location; Place de la Fontaine aux Lions, parvis de la Grande Halle de la Villette, 211 avenue Jean Jaurés, 19éme; until January 8 2018 Sundays to Thursdays 12h to 20h Fridays and Saturdays 12h to 23h, free admission but rides are 10€ pour two. More here: https://lavillette.com/en/evenement/jours-de-fete-2017/

And ,for the fourth time, Paris is giving you a light spectacle for awaiting the New Year. Lights projected on the Arc de Triomphe with a musical film of 20 minutes dedicated to Parisian life as well as firecrackers on the minute 4,3,2,1, and Happy New Year 2018. Get by the Place de l’Etoile (16éme) on December 31 from 32h, free.

The Brasserie Barbés temple of the north of Paris will transform for the 2nd time in a New Year’s celebration into a club of three levels all party until the wee hours of the morning. All furniture will be out and the 750 m2 will have three ambiances themes each on each level orchestrated by Teki Latex DJ and founder of electro label Sound Pellegrino. You will have electro, hip hop, house, and disco. Also , a vast patio open sky and a confidential dancing. All at Club Barbés, 2 blvd Barbés (18éme) December 31 from 22h to 05h, admission 35€. More info here: http://www.brasseriebarbes.com/

Some places to celebrate the New Year in style if in Paris at this time.
Party until dawn and free Champagne until 01H with pastries free until 05H at the Aquarium du Trocadéro, le Club 5, avenue Albert de Mun (16éme). From 21h to 05h admission 49-59€. More info: http://www.soiree31decembre.fr/soirees/aquariums-new-year-tour-eiffel,24.html

The historical Opéra Garnier; you will be able to walk into the dance floor, heated terrace, salon lounge inside, and the square outside as well as the vaulted mezzanine with a panoramic view of the party. All nicely decorated in 800 m2 space of dancing, with DJ El Paco with the best clubbing music of the last 30 years. You know it ,this is at 8, rue Scribe (9éme). From 22h to 06H, admission 55-65€. More info :http://www.soiree31decembre.fr/soirees/reveillon-prestige-opera-garnier-2018,68.html

With DJ Sebastien Kroos keeping you busy all evening together with a light show in one of the best neighborhoods in Paris at the YOYO at the height of fashion, with at the end a breakfast will be serve included in the admission price. YOYO is in the Palais de Tokyo 13, avenue du Président Wilson (16éme). From 22h to 06H ,admission 55-65€. More info :http://www.soiree31decembre.fr/soirees/reveillon-100-dancefloor-au-palais-de-tokyo-yoyo,25.html

And if looking for a New Year’s meal, my favorites would have to be these:

Les Grands Verres, (inside Palais de Tokyo) 13 avenue du Président Wilson (16éme) menu New Year at 120-150-170€ more here: http://www.palaisdetokyo.com/fr/page/les-grands-verres-restaurant

Le Drugstore, 133 avenue des Champs-Elysées, (8éme) menu New Year at 190€ more info here: https://www.publicisdrugstore.com/en/le-drugstore

At my beloved Versailles, go to the Grande Ecuries for the horse spectacle A VOIE DE L’ECUYER, admission 16-25€ to note the stables are not heated. This is on December 31 15h: more info here in French: http://bartabas.fr/academie-equestre-de-versailles/spectacle/

And closer to me now the best I hear are at

Dinner New Year at Sarzeau space Culturel l’Hermine, Rue du Père Coudrin . Admission 95€ from 20h to 03h reservation at +33 (0) 6 88 74 74 21 or (0) 6 07 06 74 23. More info; http://www.animation-sarzeau.fr/index.php?op=newtopic&topic=10

And why not a boat in the Gulf of Morbihan to await the New Year 2018 with the Navix company for 159€ per person. Boarding at the Gare Maritime of Vannes at 21h30 and you return by 02h30 (2:30am).More info here in pdf format and in French: http://www.navix.fr/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/affiche-reveillon-2017.pdf

As in other news….
The Paris transports will be ready, hopefully::) Six lines of the metro (1,2,4,6,9, and 14) will be open past their usual schedule between 02h15 and 5h30. However, not all stations as an example line 4 the direct between Montparnasse and Saint-Michel and on the 9 no stops either between Nation and Oberkampf . The same will be on the RER trains and Transilien. However, on the RER A and B will work all night both ways. ON the other lines RER C and D ,lines H J L N P and T4 tramway will only work in the direction Paris tothe suburbs. On the Noctilien night buses the circulation in Paris will be restraint with some modifications especially on lines finishing at Châtelet. Also, lines N21, N122, and N145 leaving gare Montparnasse and the N22, N144 leaving gare de Lyon, and the N23 leaving gare de l’Est and the N24 leaving Saint Lazare. To link up with these stations you can use the beltway or rocade lines N01 and N02 (circular lines).
More info here in French: https://www.iledefrance-mobilites.fr/actualites/profitez-pleinement-de-soiree-nouvel-an-ile-de-france-mobilites/

Bear in mind the service will be free. Some of the further actions to secure safety will be filtering points to access the rond-point de l’Etoile as well as the avenue des Champs-Elysées. There will be about 31 checkpoints with police presence to search you upon entering these points.

One final point, the free WiFi in the public transport is again delayed. You will need to be patient until the first trimester of 2018 to see the 3G/4G service show up in the biggest 60 stations, with another 60 will be fitted in another six months. The end to cover the whole network will be done by before 2019. This is the service to regulates it call Arcep (Autorité de régulation des communications électroniques et des postes) or something like the regulation authority for electronic and post communications.

And we will have a homemade meal all from the farms surrounding us and good wines as well as Champagne Tsarine of Reims. All cozy the 6 of us, as usual far away from family and roots, the life of globetrotters. Enjoy it wherever you are or will be awakening to 2018. Stay safe and Happy New Year 2018!!!

December 29, 2017

My travels in the Morbihan, LVI

Here I am back again, taking advantage of my vacation time, and tell you about things French out of the tourist trail. The day has been miserable cloudy and rainy humid, cold at 6C or about 45F all day long. I came home from my errands and still the same… Well at least not back to work until Jan 2nd ,and that will be a bomb ::)

The duty of the day was not pleasant as needed to take my wife to the hospital in Vannes for her treatment. I drop her off in the morning by 8h30 or 8:30 am  in external consultations and then pick her up by 15h or 3 pm. The hospital here is very good, and clean, well practically new.  They made a huge addition to the existing hospital and practically all services have been move, some more left to go. The Hospital is name Prosper Chubert part of the Bretagne Atlantique group. More on it here: http://www.ch-bretagne-atlantique.fr/etablissements/hopital-chubert-a-vannes-416.html

The hospital is conveniently located oh oh oh to our main bus terminal and the train station of Vannes (connections to many including Montparnasse Paris);  very lively area and with many hotels and restaurants propping up.  This is the site of the bus terminal in French telling you the bus lines present here intercities and of course the local ones too, which my sons use a lot. Lines 1,2,3,4,6, and 8. https://www.busbud.com/fr/gare-routiere-de-vannes/s/10968

Local area Kiceo bus network is here: https://www.kiceo.fr/

The train station from where I go out a lot especially to Nantes and Paris is here: https://www.gares-sncf.com/fr/gare/frvne/vannes

We passed by Auray, our previous town, and we passed the train station there too, which the bus terminal next to it as well. I take this one to Montparnasse Paris sometimes as it passes by Vannes as well. The gare d’Auray is here: https://www.gares-sncf.com/fr/gare/frxuy/auray

Here you see the wonderful Auray river just before it hits the Gulf of Morbihan (Unesco World Heritage Site) and continues into the Atlantic Ocean. More in French about the river Auray here: http://www.auray.org/villes/riviere-auray.php

All along the road D768. As we continue on this road we go by the town of Brech, small but historical town with nice Chapel, Church, and the Chartreuse where they guard the remains of the 795 Breton killed by the French revolution while trying to gain independence and waiting for the help from England in 1795.  More in French here: http://www.auray-tourisme.com/la-chartreuse/brech/tabid/8277/offreid/23a4acde-c549-4a97-8d00-26dd33b3ddc4/detail.aspx

Finally, we entered our town the scenic way up D768 into the rue Hein Guir (the street of our family doctor) ,that you can see the bell tower of the Saint Guigner Church ,main in town.  And for info on Pluvigner tourism if not ask me you can contact the tourist office there: http://www.pluvigner.fr/contacts/office-de-tourisme/

Settled down at home and waiting still for the old year dinner on December 31st and then the New Year’s family gathering in our house and plenty of Skype and FB connections with the world.

Enjoy yours and happy days ahead; Cheers!

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December 29, 2017

My travels in the Morbihan, LV

So we are moving right along to end all of 2017 , another wonderful year of life’s ups and down, but la vie est belle bien sùr. Today was a cloudy day again, some rain and temps in the minus 1C or 30F in the morning to 10C or 50F in the late afternoon. Full of running around in my department 56.

As continuing my saga of writing about daily life here in my belle France and especially on gorgeous Morbihan of Brittany, the only department in France that is not a French name ::) Proud Bretons… Morbihan means petite mer in French or small sea as Mor=sea and bihan=small in Breton language… Degemer Mat ::)

I had my usual round by car in the morning we went to a animal refuge or SPA de Lorient, as we are looking into adopting a dog….Yes!!! I always had a dog since childhood, but moving around for many reasons and having kids took a time out from them. Lately , my sons and I finally convince my wife so we are looking around. Reading the internet, talking with dog grooming places and veterinary center in my town, visiting the area refuge has been a task in the last few days; today it was the SPA de Lorient.

The animal refuge of Lorient is actually in the town of Larmor Plage or beach and it is a former bunker area of WWII part of the Atlantic Wall !!! The place is very clean , nice dogs, and good hosts. We thought of getting a puppy, but with so many needs around in our world, why not bring joy to a poor dog. We have looked into a golden retriever 1,5 yrs old but not adoptable yet; then a Labrador/pit bull cross but a bit too much for our tastes. We saw one this morning a griffon small dog black and 9 yrs old very adorable but old. We would like to get it and offer him the last few years of good living and loving care. Any suggestions? the site for the lorient animal refuge is here in French of course: http://www.spa-lorient.com/index.php

We headed back to Vannes for our lunch ,and settle for our old reliable pizza chain Tablapizza in the Atlantique shopping area where everybody knows us already lol!! It does makes feel good when you patronized and all know you and come to talk to you; feels good. The place was full as it is a working day for many except lucky me. We had a bottle of Juliénas 2016 Les Capitans Beaujolais red with l’Espagnole pizza with chorizos of course, then a café mini gourmand with expresso coffee and pineapples small cuts and fondant chocolat. All with our special discount card was 18€ per person. More here: http://pizzeria.tablapizza.fr/73203413606738/restaurant-vannes

Finally, we finished a nice deal. I had a Ford Kuga 2014 very nice car if a bit big and high for me. Always a Ford men ,never had any other since college/univ days…long ago. My local Ford Mustiére salesperson call me up and told me there were deals for end of year going on. So we went to talk to him without conditions. As we went on, we realize the deal was very good and fit quite nicely into our plan for working life last years. We end up getting a Ford Focus brand new with 6 km on it!!! Actually done in Germany on Nov 16, shipped to the dealer here on Nov 29th and purchase by me on Dec 28th ::)

It is a shorter payment terms and about same monthly payments so by the time I am ready to present retirement ,either it will be paid off or will get a new one…::) The folks here were excellent ,talking about the so call popularly famous French administration ,but in our case ,very easy (of course we are French citizens) . The BNP Paribas bank was great and getting the funds out for the down payment in just a click of a computer key, the dealer (Mustiére) was confirming at the same time, and my auto insurance broker MMA was there with the insurance certificate on time! All I did was take the car out and roll on into 2018 with it!!!

Now tomorrow will be hospital check up day for my wife so we can finally relax into 2018 with the family at home. Maybe another outing before the year is out lol!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018 to all and best wishes for all your desires for the coming year. Cheers!

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December 20, 2017

My travels in the Morbihan, LIIII

And continue with my local saga in the  Morbihan dept 56 of the region of Brittany. Well if you are new to my blog, Morbihan is the only department in France that is not in French but in the local language of Breton; Mor=sea, bihan=small or small sea in French it would have been petite mer. The region of Brittany in Breton is Breizh and in French it is Bretagne.

Today was a cold autumn day cloudy and down to 2C or 34F about this morning going up now to 8C or about 47F and still cloudy. This is getting near to Christmas in the season to be merrier. We are going tomorrow to see the in laws and uncles in Seine-et-Marne dept 77 east of Paris near Disneyland (Which marketing call it Disneyland Paris but is no where near Paris ::))

We did our errands of our daily life here as usual, me been on vacation time. We went today Wednesday to the market in Vannes where we usually go on Saturdays while working. It was no difference, full of folks buying the wonderful farm stuff of France or what folks should come here for. We got early and by 10h we were at the market, and headed to find a purse for the lady of the house; which got a cow leather purse for 24€ exactly the same as the one she had so much the better.

Then we went around to a new place call D’Ici De Là  le comptoir des 5 sens ( a French paraphrasing meaning from here and from there the counter of the five senses) great traiteur or caterer place with wonderful selection we got our goodies for the apéro or aperitifs of miniature wonders. The store originated in Dinan and now just at Vannes. More in French here: http://www.coeurdevannes.com/adh154-alimentaire-vannes/d-ici-de-la-le-comptoir-des-5-sens/

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Then, one of my sons ran down to Pierre Morel to get some gorgeous macaroons mix bag ;got 16 for 18 euros! more on the pastry shop in rue Saint Vincent. It is no longer there but at La Gacilly, webpage : http://www.maison-pierre-morel.com/magasins

We then, got our fruits several of them even a guava from Peru wonderful!!! This is from our usual wonderful merchants of Morocco, Algeria, and Albania in the market at Vannes! Aksil Azeddine that originates the business from Saint Sebastién sur Loire/Nantes. Then, we go next door on the same street to Fromagers Bruno Menager, a wonderful selection of cheeses from all over France. He passed away but his wife Isabelle.

As we walked the old town of Vannes I passed by again of some of the businesses we patronized. These are in addition to those above; Boulangerie Patisserie Cartron; patisserie Olivier le Brun, the kitchen supplies store Culinarion, Créperie de la tour trompette, Lecoq & Folks resto, Le Petit Belon resto, the wonderful fish market halle aux Poissons; boulangerie Saveurs du port ; and the brasserie resto le Gambetta.

Also, got a glimpse on the renovation of the conservatory of music in le Port harbor area. The conservatoire de musique as well as théatre et arts plastiques . Founded the building the Carmelites in the 17C; after the revolution it was unuseud and then change into a museum, then school of music , a middle school and finally since 1981 the conservatory. More of it in French here:  https://www.mairie-vannes.fr/conservatoire/

The always glorious entrance to the old town from the canal in le port harbor area is the gate or Porte Saint Vincent, the Saint coming from Valencia Spain who evangelize the area and it is buried in a chapel in the Cathedral St Peter’s of Vannes.

Coming out we stop at the E Leclerc hypermarket shopping center to do an automated car wash the load for 10€ hands off, nice. Done.

We went one more trip late to see an animal store that is in a town adjacent to Vannes, this is Séné right at the start of the marshes of the gulf of Morbihan. Here in the Quais de Séné we found several of our favorite stores such as GiFi and the animal store Maxi Zoo. ALso, we found to our surprise the restaurant brasserie Au Bureau which we had eaten in Brest which closed and now open in the area just less than 3 months! Of course we had lunch there.

The Quais de Séné is a recent shopping center just from last April 2017; and we as mentioned before are looking to adopt a dog so we are checking out all the outlets to get an idea on the prices and maintenance needed. We were lucky to find a dog owner who was very animal loving and talkative, we must have talked for over 30 minutes with him and his dog of 10 yrs. ,also taken from a refuge center when it was 1 yr old. Interesting and encouraging conversation. The store Maxi Zoo is loaded with animal accessories, no animals; and good prices, mostly of German origins (the store started in Germany many years ago and now with about 80 stores in France).  And now a branch in Vannes too!! The Maxi Zoo store webpage is here in French: http://www.maxizoo.fr/magasin/sene.html

We end up going to another store we had briefly been in Lanester ,however, the store in Séné had a greater selection and sale going on !!! 50% off on the second pair of shoes purchase! So we did got one for my lady and one for me, and our sons paid lol!!! The store is Chaussea and the webpage is here:  https://www.chaussea.com/fr/shops/chaussea-vannes-sene/

And finally will tell you about the lunch that was before the animal store and shoes store above. We had eaten at Au Bureau ,an English style pub restaurant a while back visiting Brest. A couple years or so ago we were back in Brest and the resto had closed a similar restaurant was in its place, with the same old staff who gladly cooked for us similar menu. We were sad it was gone because we had good memories of the original Au Bureau at the Rue de Siam in Brest. It was a pleasant surprise to find it here now!!!! and just opened about 3 months ago! So we went for it in full force!

The decoration is the same English pub style but very refine upscale place. A great counter bar, TV screens all around it, and cushiony leather seats wooden tables in a black mode all over with some red. The service was very friendly and courteous ,and fast! We were near the counter bar and the toilet.. with a screen LED TV right in front of us;nice. We started with the Cheesy Platter, a combination of goodies around the theme cheese from patties to sticks and croquette style rolls as well as cheddar cheesy French fries! Along with pints of Leffe  and Stella beers. I had the Leffe Royale Cascade IPA just great!!! we went on to order camembert hot platter, fish and chips, to burgers of different kinds, I had the Black Pepper burger with bacon and cheese!! delicious on a single patty ,(you can have double lol!) big. Finally we end up with the Café Gourmand, coffee expresso and miniature sweets as well as the Irish coffee gourmand combo on the same line. Just for 31,25€ per person. Good price/quality ambiance ratio and we will be back!!! The official webpage is here : https://aubureau-vannes.fr/le-pub/

We are home cozy warm , and getting now prepare for our trip tomorrow early, it is about 6hrs of driving to the in laws, and the brothers and sisters will be there so a nice before Christmas family reunion. In the area of the Marne, where WWI was really fought and monuments and memories are still remember and honored. Stay tune.

Enjoy the photos, and Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it or Happy Holidays to those that celebrate others. Be good, enjoy travels, and best wishes to all. Cheers!!!

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December 19, 2017

My travels in the Morbihan, LIII

And continuing the saga of never been a couch potato, I am on the road again!!! Today was cold early on by 8h to Zero Celsius or 32F but then it went up pretty fast to 10C or about 50F in the afternoon and sunny bright day!

As said , we got up early and were on the move on our daily routine here; I enjoy telling you about the normal everyday life in France away from the major tourist sites; there is so much to see in France. I said a Mr Ernest Hemingway wrote a book that was published posthumously entitled A Mouvable Feast or Paris ça fête in French. However, he was concentrating on Paris, and as usual those that do fell short of what France has to offer, or a second volume is needed, France is a mouvable feast ::)

I get my house wines from the local producers in the Loire valley area and just south of me in the Muscadet grape region of the Loire Atlantique dept 44 (old Brittany…) now in the region of Pays de la Loire.

As an added incentive one of the producers have their parent living closer to me and they use them as a stock depot for their wines. So therefore, we purchase two cases of white muscadet, gros plant and rosé cabernet franc as well as a red cabernet franc and pick it up at their parents place in a village just outside Guérande. The sad part is we have friends in Guérande but they were still working lol!!! and missed them.

The property is the Domaine du Grand Air at Bournigal next to Clisson. The property webpage is here: http://www.domainedugrandair.fr/le-domaine.php

And the page on the wines of the Loire official is here: https://www.vinsvaldeloire.fr/en/domaine/domaine-du-grand-air-0

After a nice cruising visit on the N165 to exit 17 direction La Roche Bernard (passing the great bridge over the Vilaine river) , Herbignac and then the D774 direction Guérande we arrived at the village and were greeted by the mother, very nice welcome, offer to taste there and all. We left rather quickly as we had a long day to do and come home to eat and drink all these goodies.

Passing we got a glimpse of the windmill of the devil or Moulin du Crémeur or Diable just coming out of Guérande coming back home, it is still in good condition and is from the 15C.  And passing on the road to some beach areas like Piriac sur Mer, very nice places for summer.  A site for the windmill in French here: https://www.moulins-a-vent.net/Moulins/guerande_cremeur.htm

On the way back ,we stop at the store Animalis, animals supplies and puppies sale store chain we had known before. As I mentioned we are on hold to adopt a two years old dog, Golden Retriever from the local refuge or SPA de Vannes. If all goes well with them and the dog we should get it by early next year. We really gear up for that and can’t wait to have a dog again…. I grew up with Dalmatians as my maternal grandfather was a hunter, and had a good family opinion of it. Later in life before marriage had a small cross dog sort of a mix poodle type ,and had her for 11 years until need to let her go as was becoming very dangerous biting and my boys were already born. We kept long raising the boys and for me thinking of having a dog again, men ,best friend. We finally convince my wife and the boys are all with me to do it now. So can’t wait to give a better life to a wonderful animal. Any tips from you will help.

We took our time in the store to ask,see puppies Labrador, and just look around for the budget… The store is in a shopping area we go a lot.  The store is here: https://magasin.animalis.com/251669-animalis-vannes

Well with the boys ,they never stop been US born, they had us for Burger King in Vannes….for lunch. Ok so I had my whopper with bacon yeah!!! wife was ok, we enjoyed it. It’s nice to know we can eat on our old Florida even in Brittany lol!!! A land of gastronomy par excellence ::) No pictures just standard building, the resto is next to the N165 in Plescop town limits ,and the site is here: https://restaurants.burgerking.fr/vannes-ploeren

Finally, and to prepare ourselves for family visit for the season to be merriest, we stop by our favorite local gifts and goodies store La Trinitaine. WE go to the factory outlet production center in Saint Philibert just south of us on the road D28 passing Crac’h and before Saint Philibert town limits.

While at the store we loaded up on mugs and canisters full of biscuits and Magdalenes  from chocolate to plain butter to strawberry; for us and for giving to relatives. While there we had some pastries on the next door bakery. Ready to have our feast tonite.

The store is not far from us so we came home and now me doing the update and then the feast and TV relax,I am on vacation. This time just visiting family in Seine-et-Marne , and doing some Christmas market in Brittany.

Enjoy your week wherever you are, happy travels, and best wishes in the season to be merrier! Cheers!

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December 16, 2017

My travels in the Morbihan, LII

So this is another Saturday, but not exactly. You see, today marks the beginning of my Christmas period vacation , and will be off until returning Jan 2 2018!!! Wonderful in my belle France and gorgeous Morbihan Breton.

It is a cold day at 1C or about 33F but hardly notice because was sunny and no rain no wind. We set out to do some errands as usual in our daily life here. However, not finish with everything there is a bit more tomorrow and then start in earnest on Monday.

This morning we got up later than usual in our routine here in the gorgeous Morbihan. We went straight to the Hibiscus Antillean store in Vannes to take in some Caribbean products of older days and cook up some real chow for the season , always in remembrance of our roots. The store is small held by folks from the French Antilles but plenty stock up. We loaded on plantain ripe and green, as well as manioc or yucca, name (sort of potato family but bigger), sweet rose potatoes, spices like anise and laurel, guava ice cream; etc. The place for info is here: http://www.hibiscus-vannes.fr/ 

We past again for apero at La Cervoiserie (see previous post on beers) in Vannes.  Spot here: http://www.lacervoiserie.com/les-maitres-cervoisiers/vannes/

We had our lunch at a family favorite Le Scoop near all in Vannes. This is a pizzeria brasserie resto with always friendly fast courteous and good prices. We had the pizza of the month, la Perigoudine with foie gras and breast of duck! , other had a tartiflette with potatoes, bacon, and reblochon, as well as rumsteak with fries and green beans, all wash down with the Duchesse Anne de Noël or Christmas beer of the Duchess Anne pints of beer; Schweppes  water; and café expresso gourmand with little sweets as desserts all for 21,30€  per person ::) More info here: https://www.yelp.fr/biz/le-scoop-vannes

On the way back, we stop at Conforama for some pillows and cases with a coupon we had but as always something extra was purchase, a center table to swap with our sons and older one….. We lost!!! This is another of our favorite stores in our every day living in France. More here: https://www.conforama.fr/magasins-conforama/vannes?lat=47.662559&long=-2.802877&name=VANNES

And of course, the news of the year!! We have been thinking of getting a dog,yes. I grew up with dogs, my maternal grandfather was a hunter and I grew up with two Dalmatians around them. Then, I had a mix small dog half fox terrier and Coton if I can remember correctly as it was my younger days. My boys have looking to have one, and I was ok for it, my wife was against it. However, we soft her up with information, and assign duties, and took her today to the SPA de Vannes. This is the place where they keep dogs who have been stranded, abandon, abuse, etc.

We look into some breeders as well in our area, and informed ourselves of all the procedures, costs, and maintenance. At the end, we fell for the poor dogs in the SPA, they really do not deserve any bad treatment, they are men’s best friend and wonderful companions. When we went this afternoon to the SPA the folks were very nice and friendly and the dogs seems to be well kept and clean. We got to see them all, and fell for a two years old Golden Retriever who was badly treated by the owners with very little food. It is now in the process of vaccination and conditioning, and we are in line to get it once the legal process is done by the SPA. We will soon expands our family with a nice doggy; stay tune.

Our choice still is not official for adoption so not on the page, but these are the adorable dogs waiting for an angel here; http://spa-vannes.com/chiens-a-adopter/

We will try to make a home for one of them. Enjoy the season to be merrier, Merry Christmas, God Bless you all. Cheers!!

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December 15, 2017

Return to the beers of France, and Brittany especially

Let’s talk about beers in the season to be merrier! Now I like beers too, and have consumed quite a bit of them over the years. As time passes and we gain a few years I tend to turn to the local artisanal beers and away from the industrial ones. This is the case arriving in Brittany or Bretagne or Breizh.

And, the idea of writing on beers again  come from an article in the local newspaper about a local beer tavern and a concept that is taken off here. This is about

La Cervoiserie began near La Rochelle in 2004 and now has more than 500 references of beers in stores of about 400 m2. They are gear to the « after works » or Happy Hour to from hours of 10h to 20h Mondays to Saturdays.  They are a franchise now with 15 outlets and growing, you need about 15 000 euros  for rights of franchise and a total cost of about  345 000 euros to start the business. It offers a central purchasing platform that allows it to compete in prices with the more industrial establish market. We have one here in Vannes and it is very nice with good ambiance, many activities held like Oktoberfest etc. Here you can buy ,taste, share, and take home.  It is in a very popular shopping place right near many stores and ours favorites are around here too including our Carrefour hypermarket. More on the La Cervoiserie here: http://www.lacervoiserie.com/les-maitres-cervoisiers/vannes/

Another one similar that we go often and buy more is V&B on a similar format as above. The stores has one in Séné, one in Vannes, and the one I go the most is in Auray. More on them here: https://magasin.vandb.fr/766390-v-and-b-auray

Some further news on a broader France here:

The best ones for me are the brasseries artisanales or homemade breweries that today are about 1100. This represent 3% of the beer market and to 2020 it will double. In France, the region that consume the most are Normandie, Grand Est, and Bretagne. The Normans drink 81% , Grand Est 79%,and Bretagne 78%. However, France is one of the countries in Europe that consumes less beer per person, in 2017 the brewers association or association Brasseurs de France, they drink 30 liters (about 8 gallons US) of beer per year.  This number is nothing compare with the Czech drinking 144 liters per year, the Germans 107, Austrians 104 liters.  Even if we have 1100 breweries with 3000 beer brands, France is the 8th producer in Europe behind Germany, UK, Spain, and Netherland.

The brewers association or Brasseurs de France webpage is here: http://www.brasseurs-de-france.com/association/les-membres/

You can find your beer rating worldwide on this site :   https://www.ratebeer.com/

Now let me give some names, places, and webpages of the favorite beers I like here; hope it helps in your selection.

Finistère dept 29 Brittany

La Brasserie du Bout du Monde at Rosnoen https://www.terenez.bzh/

Brasserie de Bretagne, at Trégunc http://www.britt.fr/fr

Brasserie des Deux Rivières – Coreff,  at Carhaix-Plouguer http://www.brasserie-coreff.com/

Brasserie Kerav’Ale, at Roscoff http://brasseriekeravale.fr/

Brasserie Tri Martolod, at Concarneau http://www.trimartolod.fr/

Brasserie Ti-Chope,  at Plouvien http://www.ti-chope-brasserie-plouvien.com/

Morbihan dept 56 Brittany (mine)!!

Brasserie de Belle-Île-en-Mer, at Belle-Île-en-Mer http://www.brasserielamorgat.com/

Brasserie Lancelot, at Le Roc Saint André ; Val d’Oust http://brasserie-lancelot.bzh/

Brasserie Mor Braz, at Theix-Noyalo http://morbraz.pagesperso-orange.fr/

Brasserie Saint-Georges, at  Guern http://www.brasseriesaintgeorges.fr/

Paris ,city and dept 75

Brasserie la goutte d’or, 18éme arrondissement http://www.brasserielagouttedor.com/

Brasserie La Baleine, 20éme  arrondissement http://www.brasserie-la-baleine.com/

Seine-et-Marne, dept 77

Brasserie Bière de Meaux at Meaux http://www.brasseriedemeaux.com/

Yvelines, dept 78

Brasserie de La Vallée de Chevreuse, at Bonnelles http://www.brasseriechevreuse.com/

The beers are all very good, and I will again soon be tasting my first encounter with France in Meaux at the brewery there. Drink with moderation of course, this is culture at its best and enjoy it with friends and or family even better.  Salut!!

December 10, 2017

The wines of Portugal ,and the best Porto

I will talk about the wines of Portugal and especially about Porto. I have tried several Portuguese wines over the years and in Portugal. My best souvenirs have been drinking the porto wines. This post is about them.The wine producing Douro region is the third oldest protected wine region in the world.  In 1756, during the rule of the Marques de Pombal the Companhia Geral da Agricultura das Vinhas do Alto Douro or C.G.A.V.A.D., also known as the General Company of Viticulture of the Upper Douro or Douro Wine Company, was founded to guarantee the quality of the product and fair pricing to the end consumer.

https://www.ivdp.pt/

Port wine  or vinho do Porto (Portuguese) are fortified wines produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It comes in sweet red wine often served as dessert wine although it came come as dry semi dry and white varieties. The wine produced is then fortified by the  addition of aguardente (an eau de vie from sugar cane or grapes) in order to stop the fermentation, leaving residual sugar in the wine, and to boost the alcohol content.  The fortification spirit is sometimes referred to as brandy ,but it bears little resemblance to commercial brandies. The wine is then stored and aged often in barrels stored in a Lodge (meaning “cellar”) as is the case in Vila Nova de Gaia just across in the douro river ,before being bottled. Also, in the area around Pinhâo and Sâo Joâo da Pesqueira considered to be the center of port production, and is known for its picturesque quintas— estates clinging on to almost vertical slopes dropping down to the river.

The area is sub-divided into three official zones: the Baixo (lower) Corgo, the Cima (higher) Corgo and the Douro Superior. Over a hundred varieties of grapes (castas) are sanctioned for port production, although only five Tinta Barroca, Tinta Câo, Tinta Roriz (tempranillo of Spain), Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional are widely cultivated and used. The Touriga Nacional is widely considered the most desirable port grape but the difficulty in growing it and the small yields cause Touriga Francesa to be the most widely planted grape. White ports are produced the same way as red ports, except that they use white grapes such as Donzelinho Branco, Esgana-Câo, Folgasao, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and Viosinho.

Briefly as much as possible the varieties are Ruby port is the cheapest and most extensively produced type of port. Aged tawny ports (my favorite) are wines made from red grapes that are aged in wooden barrels exposing them to gradual oxidation and evaporation. As a result of this oxidation, they gradually mellow to a golden-brown colour. The exposure to oxygen imparts “nutty” flavours to the wine, which is blended to match the house style.

A Colheita Port is a single-vintage wine fortified and aged in tawny style for at least seven years. Instead of an indication of age (10, 20, …), the actual vintage year is mentioned. However, Colheita Port should not be confused with Vintage Port (see below): whereas a Vintage Port will spend only about 18 months in barrels after harvest and will continue to mature in bottle, a Colheita may have spent 20 or more years in wooden barrels before being bottled and sold.

Garrafeira is an unusual and rare intermediate vintage-dated style of port made from the grapes of a single harvest that combines the oxidative maturation of years in wood with further reductive maturation in large glass demijohns. It is required to spend some time in wood, usually between three and six years, followed by at least a further eight years in glass, before bottling. In practice the times spent in glass are much longer.

Reserve port is a premium ruby port approved by the official regulating tasting panel, Rose port is a very recent variation on the market; it is technically a ruby port, but fermented in a similar manner to a rosé wine, with a limited exposure to the grape skins, thus creating the rose color.

White port is made from white grapes and can be made in a wide variety of styles. Lagrima, meaning “Tears”, is the name for the sweetest style of white Port. When white ports are matured in wood for long periods, the colour darkens, eventually reaching a point where it can be hard to discern (from appearance alone) whether the original wine was red or white.

Late bottled vintage (or  LBV) was originally wine that had been destined for bottling as vintage port, but because of lack of demand was left in the barrel for longer than had been planned. Crusted port is usually a blend of port wine from several vintages, although single vintage crusted ports have sometimes been made in the past. Vintage port is made entirely from the grapes of a Declared Vintage year and accounts for about two percent of overall port production. Not every year is declared a Vintage in the Douro. Single Quinta Vintage ports are wines that originate from a single estate, unlike the standard bottlings of the port wine houses which can be sourced from a number of quintas.

The drinking of it Port, like other wine, should be stored in a cool but not cold, dark location (as light can damage the port), at a steady temperature (such as a cellar), with the bottle lain on its side if it has a cork, or standing up if it is stoppered.  With the exception of white port, which can be served chilled, port should be served at between 15-20C(59-68F). Tawny port may also be served slightly cooler. I served mine chilled without ice. Once opened, port generally lasts longer than unfortified wine, but it is still best consumed within a short period of time. Tawny, ruby, and LBV ports may keep for several months once opened; because they are aged longer in barrels, these ports have already been exposed to some degree of oxidation. Old Vintage ports are best consumed within several days of opening, but young Vintage Ports can be kept open for several weeks, if not months when very young.

Cruises and tour official info here: http://ctdouro.pt/index.php/en

The tourist office is here: http://www.visitporto.travel/Visitar/Paginas/default.aspx

Ok so now let me give some houses to look for them when buying porto as my favorites of course.

Fonseca, http://www.fonseca.pt/en/port/

Quinta do Noval , http://www.quintadonoval.com/

Sandeman, http://www.sandeman.com/age-check

Ramos Pinto (my favorite), http://www.ramospinto.pt/Default.aspx

Taylor’s , http://taylor.pt/en/visit-taylors/port-cellars/

Graham’s, http://www.grahams-port.com/wines

Cockburn , http://www.cockburns.com/home.php

Ferreira, https://eng.sograpevinhos.com/visitas/cave/6

Rozes, https://www.rozes.com.pt/

King’s brand name of Nicolas stores for Warre’s, https://www.warre.com/our-port/tawny/8

There you have a bunch to enjoy the wonderful world of porto red or white, we drink both. Right now using a Lagrima white Ramos Pinto, and a red tawny King’s. Cheers and enjoy your Sunday.

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