Archive for March 5th, 2018

March 5, 2018

Magical fairy tail Chantilly!

Ahh well this is Monday yikes! We will do better without it but then again, it will be Tuesday! So here I am in my blog again, do not know you ,but this can be addictive ::) Today it’s cloudy but mild at 12C no rain now a bit in the morning and the beat goes on.

Let’s talk about a magical fairytail city I love, and been there several times with family and believe or not on business once! I am talking about Chantilly!

Chantilly is in the département of the Oise,60 in the region of Hauts-de-France at the center of the forest of Chantilly, in the valley of the Nonette. Historically, it is part of the old region of Valois. Chantilly is located about 39 km southeast of Beauvais, 79 km south of Amiens and 38 km north of Paris.

Very good roads in and out on the crossroads of France to the north of Europe. The old N16 or old royal route from Pierrefitte-sur-Seine to Dunkerque passing by Amiens, cuts the city south to north ; now it is the D1116. The D924A allows you j oint the old N17 or route de Flandres at La Chapelle-en-Serval, and the D924 connects you to the town of Senlis. From here you can join the autoroute A1. The train station of or Gare de Chantilly – Gouvieux, opened in 1859 on the line Paris – Lille, service by the SNCF and the network TER Hauts de France ; these are lines Paris-Nord – Compiègne – Saint-Quentin – Busigny, line Paris-Nord – Creil – Amiens, and line Paris-Nord – Creil . Chantilly is located about 30 km from Paris-CDG airport and about 54 km from Beauvais Tillé.low cost fly airport.

A bit of history I like:
Chantilly was mentioned in an act around 1223,between Guy IV de Senlis and the priory of Saint-Leu-d’Esserent that mentioned for the first time the Terra cantiliaci (or Cantilian lands). It was in 1282 that it mentioned the forest around the two found on a parliament act of Paris. Then, in 1358, we hear of the first mentioned of a castle ,its destruction while the local wars and its reconstruction by 1394. By 1673, the Grand Condé ordered built a new road of Gouvieux that is today the rue du Connétable, the lands on each side are what it is the first inhabitation of the town, shops for the builders and trademens of the castle and domestic housing. The Grand Condé writes a wish on his will to built a Church not far from the castle ,and is son Henri Jules de Bourbon-Condé fulfilled the wish of his father in 1692 by ordering built the Church of Notre-Dame , and a parish subject to the bishop of Senlis. However, it is his grandson Louis IV Henri de Bourbon-Condé,that is credited as the real founder of the city and the first map of it by mapping the axe on the route de Gouvieux, that is today the Grande Rue. Upon the beginning of the construction of the Great stables or Grandes Écuries in 1721,the Prince created in 1727 the lots at the end of the road which were later the officer’s houses under the French revolution.

At the French revolution the Condé’s were amongst the first ones to escape just after the taking of the Bastille July 17 1789. The domain was taken over from 1792 and sold in lots ! with the first one sold between 1793 and 1795 ; the old vegetable garden, the cascades garden, the last lots available along the current rue du Connétable , and around the current lawn and all houses belonging to the Prince ; many of which will never come back to the family. The rest of the domain is divided in lots in 1798 and sold thereafter. The castle is turned into a prison from 1793-1794. Followed by the sale as national asset in 1799,and changed into stone quarries with only the small castle or « petit château » preserved. The stables or Grandes Écuries were taken by the army where they are house thereafter from 1803-1806 and otehr regiments from 1808-1814. By 1815,the Prince Louis V Joseph de Bourbon-Condé returned to his castle or what is left of it; he gets back some and buys the rest. His son Louis VI Henri de Bourbon-Condé has installed in town the fountains in 1823 and a great part of the streetlights in 1827.

By 1834, the lawns of Chantilly welcome for the first time horse racing with stands , improved over the years to the one you see today. Before the start of WWI in 1912 the first prize Jockey Club was held . This horse racing ambiance brought many British families as jockeys, trainers, helpboys becoming about 76% of the workforce here and creating a community by with even an Anglican Church was built in 1870. This horse tradition brought many wealthy families of the time over to Chantilly to build big mansions such as the Rothschild at Gouvieux. As well as the building of luxurious hotels such as Grand Condé 1908 .At the castle , the Duke d’Amale rebuilt between 1876 -1882, and enriched it with the best collections of Art at the times while receiving famous visitors such as the emperatrice of Austria Élisabeth, dite Sissi,Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovitch of Russia etc it was opened to the public in 1898 and later bequested to the Institut de France, the current owners.

By September 3 1914,the Germans entered the town but spares it all leaving the next day. Even with the occupation of the castle they did not destroyed anything! After the Battle of the Marne ,General Joffre installed the HQ army here as it was good transport by train from Paris ;this is done on November 29 1914 while Gen Joffre lived at the mansion Villa Poiret,a few meters from the castle main. He brings the allies to the conferences held here December 6-8 1915 to determine the course of action in the war in 1916. The Army HQ leaves the city in December 1916 for Beauvais. Chantilly host a ambulatory hospital for the wounded in the front located at the mansion or hôtel Lovenjoul as well as Pavillion Egler. The land lot of Aigles, just outside city limit at the town of Gouvieux host an aviation squadron of the French army coming from 251 Étampes-Mondésir from and until the peace was signed in WWI. The Nazis entered the city again in September 13 1940 and stayed; using the Grandes Écuries as veterinary hospital for their horses while the HQ is set up at the hotel or hôtel du Grand Condé . The city is liberated by American tanks on August 31 1944, and later the 8th US Air Force set up HQ at the same hôtel du Grand Condé.

There are so many things to see in this gorgeous small city full of history, charm, and well being; my favorites are the Castle(and museum), the racecourse, Beauvais hotel, officers houses, Notre Dame Church, pavilion Manse, the living horse museum, and the canal network. Of course you can always get your local recipe for the real Chantilly cream, the porcelains and lace of Chantilly , so beautiful.

Ok so let’s go on a tour of Chantilly. First, the racecourse /Hippodrome on flat races with the prestigious prizes of the Jockey-Club and the Diane.It is managed by the group France Galop even if the Institut de France is the owner It opened in 1834 but the current run trails are from 1879.The big stands were built in 1881 making them the oldest in France. The old weigh building was built in 1891,and the committee stand or old stand of the Prince (main one) was built in 1911.


back of racecourse statue on horse of the Duke of Aumale

Of course, the Castle ! built for the constables Montmorency later residence of the Condé , and finally the Duke of Aumale,fifth child of Louis-Philippe,king of the French who bequested it to the Institut de France.The castle was built in two parts : Petit Château and the Château Neuf. The first one petit or small was built in 1560 for Anne de Montmorency. 18C decoration and renovated in the 19C. The second one or neuf =new was built between 1876-1882 and has the painting galleries, libraries, as well as Chapel. A gallery built in 1840 connects the two castles. The castle is surrounded by a very nice forest park of 115 hectares where 25 are on water. You can see the big lawns done by André Le Nôtre,the Anglo-Chinese garden done between 1772-1774 on which center you find the village of Chantilly, the English garden done in 1817 around which there is the temple of Vénus ,and the parks of Cabotière and Sylvi. Inside, the castle you have the Museum or musée Condé with one of the best collection of ancient arts in France, and second only to the Louvre. The museum has a collection of about 1300 manuscripts of which there is the famous The Three Rich hours of Berry . By will, this collection cannot modified in its presentation or loaned according to the last will and testament of the Duke of Aumale to the Institut de France.


Galerie des Actions du Grand Condé

The big stables or Grandes Écuries,where you have the living museum of the horse or musée vivant du cheval.These were built between 1719-1740 with a cupola dome of 186 meters of 38 meters high ,allowing for hosting 240 horses and 500 chase dogs. You can see dressing demonstration and horse shows here.


Grande Ecuries

The gate or porte Saint-Denis is an unfinished part by the entrance to the stables or Grandes Écuries on the other side; Church of Notre Dame side.

Along the Nonette river there is the building of the pavillon de Manse built in 1678 to house an hydraulic machine. The use of it was to push the waters of one source, falling to the reservoir at open air, and from there distribute the water to the basins fountains and cascades, water games decorating the gardens of the Grand Condé, designed by Le Nôtre. Next to the pavillon de Manse there was a building built in the 20C to stock and supply the Castle and town of water and to house an industrial laundry that you can still visit.

The vegetable garden of the Princes or the potager des Princes is an old garden of Phesandry built in 1682. By 1773, Louis V Joseph de Bourbon-Condé change it to the Roman pavilion or pavillon Romain aka salon de Rafraîchissement (refreshement room). It was split from the domain during the French revolution and became private property and a horse clinic. All was restored by Yves Bienaimé, also the creator of the museum of the living horse and opened to the public in 2002.

The parish Church of Notre Dame was built between 1687- 1691, on the plans of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, and under the direction of Pierre Gittard. It was consecrated in March 1692 ; later enlarged in 1724. By 1854,it was renovated on the right lower atar to house the hearts of the Princes of Condé taken from the old Chapel of the castle during the French revolution. They were returned to the Chapel in the Castle in 1883.

The mansion or Hôtel Lovenjoul, built in 1730, located in the semi circle of the officers house at 23 de la rue du Connétable. Bequested to the Institut de France in 1906. It housed the library of the Viscount Spoelberch de Lovenjoul, with about 1 400 manuscripts written in the 19C and stamps giving to the Institut. In 1987,the collection was taken from the library to the Institut de France Paris,and the Hôtel Lovenjoul sold to private persons. It can be seen for its architecture.

The table of Montgrésin is on the south of the forest limiting the territory of the city and Avilly-Saint-Léonard, in the middle of the traffic circle on the route between La Chapelle-en-Serval and Chantilly. This table de Montgrésin or table of the king in stone dates from 1669-1670 according to the plans of André Le Nôtre. It is a sacred place of the hunting, traditional rdv for the depart of hunters from the Prince and its successors of the chase. It was ,also, a place where the Prince welcome the visitors at the entrance to their domain like in 1671,when the Grand Condé hosted king Louis XIV.

There is so much in architecture here, that walking and seeing is believing in my belle France. Some of my favorites are the Hôtel de Beauvais, located at 12 rue du Connétable, the oldest in town built by Anne de Montmorency in 1539 to served as resident to the captain of the hunt etc ; the Hôtel Quinquempoix,built in 1553 at 50 rue du Connétable, Hôtel d’Andigné de la Chasse, at 74 rue du Connétable ; the Chapelle or Chapelle Sainte-Croix, aka Mother Mary ,one of seven Chapels built on orders of Anne de Montmorency from 1534 to 1538; the others are Saint-Pierre, Sainte-Croix-en-Jérusalem, Saint-Jean, Saint-Paul, Saint-Laurent, Saint-Sébastien, and Notre-Dame.

I like to give some webpages for the tourist information. Always a must to contact them ,plan your trip, and visit them on site. Even here in my belle France, I do it all the time. The best information is here, you just need to know what you want and ask.

The city of Chantilly on heritage :


Tourist office of Chantilly:

Tourist office of dept 60 Oise:

The region Hauts de France on heritage in French:

I hope it can help you enjoy your trip to Chantilly, worth it, a must I said while in France. Have you all a great week!! Cheers!!!

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March 5, 2018

An experience, take a look at Lagos,Nigeria!!

A few years back, I had the opportunity to try a job experience that have been wonderful and several friends later and a blog post, would like to update.

While working for a French Oil support outfit, I was asked to trained the personnel on the Oracle accounting system set you there,and reports back to home office in France. I needed to move to Lagos, Nigeria for about 3 months.

Lagos Lagos

Let me give you my blog post and photos on the experience here:

The security was tight, I had a driver/car 24 hrs 7/7 and lived in a secure compound Somerset Court. More here:

We had great shopping at Mega Plaza, and Palms Spring shopping center, and could go out a lot to restaurants and bars, especially the Federal Palace , Sofitel, and Eko hotel complexes.
The favorite links are here: Sofitel hotel

Federal Palace Hotel and Casino

Eko Hotel

Shoprite supermarket

Palms Shopping Mall, home of Shoprite

Lagoon Indian cuisine restaurant

golden gate Chinese cuisine restaurant
Orchid House local cuisine

Another fine Indian cuisine restaurant

Local Cuisine and very friendly one of my favorites there was Manuela

The experience was fulfilling and several friends still in touch, and the feeling that I trained them right and are still on post. On these spots in our world, it is not recommended to go with a family but for short periods I recommend the experience to anyone. The company has a revolving visa system where those on the dock work 12 weeks and get 4 weeks off on rotation.

Now let me tell you a bit about the history of Lagos ,and Nigeria just a bit that I like.

Lagos or Èkó in the local language of Yoruba, the biggest city of Nigeria and Africa. Lagos is located in a group of several islands in a large lagoon protected from the Atlantic ocean and on the Gulf of Benin. The Portuguese were here in the 15C and named the city in reference to the Port of Lagos from which expeditions to Africa were done back in southern Portugal. It was conquered by the kingdom of Benin in the 15-16C and governed by kings and become a major center of the slave trade during the 18C. An anecdote ,here, the slaves brought to Cuba by Spain were from this area and the Yoruba language was carried with them there, now there are some traces of this and the few words I could remember served me well while in Lagos to the surprise of the locals. In 1861, the British founded a colony and name it Capital of the Protectorate of South Nigeria established in 1914. Lagos stayed as Capital at the moment of Independence of Nigeria in 1960. By 1967, it became a Federal State equal standing with the other 11 States of Nigeria.

The best areas are east of city center at Ikoyi (where I lived), and Victoria Island. The district of Lagos Island is the business area with an artificial island named Eko Atlantic City.

The Lagos island is on a huge lagoon that goes into the Ogunau river by the Gulf of Benin. Several of these islands have been linked or attached to the continent as peninsula like Iddo Island or Victoria Island. The lagoon opens up to the Atlantic Ocean by a coastal line that extends to 100 km to the east and west of the mouth located near the city. The government decided to transfer the Capital to a new city call Abuja in 1976; this to slow down the growth of Lagos and for the most part to have a divided country without privileging the three main ethnic groups in the country.

There are several ferry lines between Lagos island and the continent managed by the Lagos State Ferry Services Corporation. More on it here:

Lagos is served by the international airport Murtala Muhammed,one of the biggest in Africa and located in the suburbs of Ikeja. Webpage here:

The city of Lagos has one of the largest and most extensive road networks in West Africa with the notables Lagos–Ibadan Expressway and the Lagos–Abeokuta Expressway ,also serving as inter-state roads to Oyo and Ogun States. On the west you have the Lagos–Badagry Expressway serves outlying towns such as Festival Town. There is ,also, the Trans–West African Coastal Highway leaving the city as the Badagry Expressway to Benin and beyond as far as Dakar and Nouakchott, also, the Trans-Sahara Highway to Algers, Algeria leaving the city as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The Lagos State has a bus rapid transit (BRT) system and Lagos Rail Mass Transit currently under construction. More on these projects here:  Several intercity and commuter trains serve Lagos through the Lagos Terminus railway station. More of it and photos here:

Three major bridges join the island to the mainland. They are the Carter Bridge which starts from Iddo, the Eko Bridge, and the Third Mainland Bridge, which passes through densely populated mainland suburbs to the Lagos Lagoon.

There are popular markets such as Idumota and Balogun Markets. The Bar and Lekki beaches and on the Atlantic side Elegushi and Alpha Beaches, and the museum of Black Heritage with a site here:

Other sites that can be visited are the Central Mosque, Glover Memorial Hall, Christ’s Church Cathedral and the Oba’s Palace (Iga Idunganran). Lagos Island’s Tinubu Square is a site of historical importance; it was here that the Amalgamation Ceremony that unified the North and South protectorate to form Nigeria took place in 1914. Ikoyi is connected to Victoria Island by the Falomo bridge, which carries a main road over Five Cowrie creek. Ikoyi, also has a number of hotels, night clubs, a recreational park and one of Africa’s largest golf courses. Victoria Island with its annexe is situated to the south of Lagos Island, and it has expensive real estate properties and for that reason, many new luxury condos and apartments. Lagos,also has a number of private beach resorts including Inagbe Grand Beach Resort.

The hightlight of any night out is to have the local Suya (spicy shish kebab or spiced roasted beef) which is consumed in local clubs and bars with a bottle of cold pint beer, Star!!

Enjoy the momento and the pictures in the blog post and  see above for more. An exotic experience that turns out a very nice memorable passing by Lagos,Nigeria. Enjoy your week! Cheers!!!

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