Archive for March 15th, 2018

March 15, 2018

Some news from France CLXXXVII

So on a rainy Thursday off day, cloudy windy (65 KPH), and miserable temps in 10C or 50F sitting at home. Well, let me tell you what is going on in my belle France.

Ok, so lots of construction going on in Paris due to a big program of modernization which they are behind and the Citizens are asking for faster and better service.

This coming Summer you will see plenty of work (especially if take regularly) on the RER A, which will be closed from Saturday July 28 to Sunday August 26 2018 between La Défense and Nation. The stations of La Défense and Nation will be temporary terminus even if they will remain open and connections will be assured. However, the quays will be closed at Charles de Gaulle, Étoile, Auber, Châtelet – Les Halles, and the gare de Lyon. On the train line L of the Transilien network,and the service on the metro lines 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 13 et 14 ;Tramway lines T2 and T3a; bus lines 73, 114, 118 and 275. Mondays to Fridays a navette bus will be in service between Charles de Gaulle
Étoile, and La Défense.

Same for the RER A and train line L , from July 14 to September 2nd included; closing of the RER A ,and the line L between Cergy – Saint-Christophe , and between Cergy – Le Haut(temporary terminus Cergy – Saint-Christophe). On the RER C line from July 15 to August 25th included, the RER C between Paris Austerlitz and Javel / Avenue Henri Martin. This Summer this line will be closed. Be careful, the station gare de Pont de l’Alma will remain closed until January 2nd 2019. The line 10 metro will be reinforced as well as bus line 63 ; there will be a navette bus between Invalides and Javel.

Again the RER A will be closed from July 26 to August 26 included from Maisons-Laffite and Poissy. More for the French speaker here:

No time for me but the Livre Paris 2018 is on from March 16 to 19 on its 38th edition on the expo park of the Porte de Versailles. More here in English:

If not there see the libraries of Paris with contact, do not forget to put the 0033 and do not mark the 0 from abroad or look them up in google.
Les Libres Champs Léa. 18, rue Le Verrier (VIe). Tél.: 01 43 29 27 11. L’Écume des Pages. 174, bd Saint-Germain (VIe). Tél.: 01 45 48 54 48.Galignani. 224, rue de Rivoli (Ier). Tél.: 01 42 60 76 07.Gibert Joseph. 26, bd Saint-Michel (VIe). Tél.: 01 44 41 88 88.Librairie des Abbesses. 30, rue Yvonne-Le-Tac (XVIIIe). Tél.: 01 46 06 84 30.Librairie de Paris. 7, place de Clichy (XVIIe). Tél.: 01 45 22 47 81.Delamain. 55, rue Saint-Honoré (Ier). Tél.: 01 42 61 48 78. Librairie du Globe. 67, bd Beaumarchais (IIIe). Tél.: 01 42 77 36 36 Librairie Jousseaume. 45-46-47, galerie Vivienne (IIe). Tél.: 01 42 96 06 24. Boulinier. 20, bd Saint-Michel (VIe). Tél.: 01 43 26 90 57.

And if at the same time you want to read up and have a coffee in a historic Paris landmark, then head for these:
Le Procope. 13, rue de l’Ancienne-Comédie (VIe). Tél: 01 40 46 79 00.Le Café de la Paix. 5, place de l’Opéra (IXe). Tél.: 01 40 07 36 36. Le Café de Flore. 172, boulevard Saint-Germain (VIe). Tél.: 01 45 48 55 26. La Closerie des Lilas. 171, boulevard du Montparnasse (VIe). Tél.: 01 40 51 34 50. Les Deux Magots. 6, place Saint-Germain des Prés (Vie). Tél.: 01 45 48 55 25

Then, two classic for the Paris lovers. Even Emmanuel Macron celebrated his first tour win in the French elections here, today the President. The La Rotonde,is open since 1911,at Montparnasse becoming known as the four muskeeteers at the crossing of Vavin with La Coupole, Le Dôme, and Le Select. Mythical address of the left bank it is the place of frequency of many artists and intellectuals such as Picasso, Chagall, Apollinaire, Soutine, Modigliani, Cocteau, Diaghilev, and Foujita. See it at La Rotonde. 105, boulevard du Montparnasse (6éme). Tél.: 01 43 26 48 26.

Another jewel same place since 1899 in the Champs-Élysées,this Brasserie chic went over to the group Barrière (casinos) in 1998. It was closed in February 2017 for renovations and its hotel as well opening again last early July. The frequency here since early the 20C is the all Paris like Ettore Bugatti, Colette, Pierre Brasseur,Aga Khan, and Raymond Poincare. From the 1930’s was the meeting place of the cinema people from Raimu to Depardieu, passing by Gabin, Ventura, Delon ,and Signoret. Since 1977,it hosts the dinner of the ceremonies of the César (the French Oscar). Le Fouquet’s. 99, avenue des Champs-Élysées (8éme) Tél.: 01 40 69 60 50.

The mansion Hôtel de Sens,or the library Forney hosts until May 26 a free exposition on the poster artist Charles Loupot (died 1962). It will have hundreds of work from posters, models, photos, and publicist articles that trace his long career. The expo is call the Loupot, peintre en affiches à la bibliothèque Forney. Location :Hôtel de Sens. 1, rue du Figuier (4éme).Tél.: 01 42 78 14 60. Expo held on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 13h to 19h30, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10h to 19h30. Closed Mondays, free admission even for the expo.

And because they want to make business center and the sales are not order decision taken to closed the Centre Commercial Bercy 2 (shopping center mall).It is by the Boulevard périphérique and the autoroute A4 handy on way and coming to visit family for me! The mall aka as « la Baleine » or the Whale was opened in 1990 , and has now 70 stores.

Last January 19 at the aquarium of Sea Life in shopping center Val d’Europe,near Disneyland, a baby royal penguin was born in captivity. The penguin is with chocolate plumes and weights a bit more than 7 kg (about 15 lbs). He is not yet on the basin but stay with his parents to do this and swim will need about a year. More here:

And now hold on, the SNCF trains of France in simple terms has voted by their unions a strike two over 5 days per week starting by April 3rd and for a period of 3 months; due to better working condition and the management push for quick modernisation of the structures. So , now with some towns holding back on automobile traffic ,and the trains of France on strike with structures on average 32 years old ,sure the tourist will think we are just fine….. More news here:

And to add to the train,our beloved subsidized Air France also has announce strikes. Air France’s pilots are asking for 6% rise in their salaries, a request the airline has refused to meet. Even though the Air France-KLM Group clinched a 42% increase in its operating profit to €1.49 billion in 2017, it is only offering a 1% increase to the unions, to be paid in two installments. The unions said it was a “small change.” More here:

The Festival of Mojito will start in June 2018 with tastings for free!!! The establishment participating will be decorated for the event and will have entertainment like concerts, gifts giving , and salsa courses; all before the World Cup of Football/soccer June 2018 in Russia. More in French here:

At the Musée du Luxembourg  come see the Tintoret, or the little tainter was name  Jacopo Comin, and now will be showing his early years  with the expo tintoret birth of a genius until July 18 2018. One of the most emblematic painters of the Renaissance.  More here in English:

And last but not least;see a museum for free in Paris, no not just the Sundays first of every month but everyday. Here they are: Petit Palais, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Maison Victor Hugo, Musée de la Vie Romantique , Musée Cernuschi, Musée Curie, Maison Balzac Mémorial de la Shoah, Musée Valentin Haü, and Musée Jean Moulin. And of course, plenty free for those under 26 yrs old link below

Now get ready for the TGIF ok you are new to this Thanks God Is Friday. Have a great weekend, happy travels and good health to all. Cheers!!

March 15, 2018

The Historical and Magical spots in Versailles!

Hello everybody, I am back in the blog machine. Thinking of my beloved wonderful Royal Versailles again. Well, it was one of the best moment of our family life and the entry into France for us Franco-Americans with Spanish heritage gang.

There are three spots in Versailles that the public do not go enough. The city of Versailles once contacted a survey company and believed they found that 98% of the visitors to Versailles only come to the Palace/museum; and the rest of Versailles? There is plenty to see in the city on its own, nothing to do with things to see from Paris.

An entry point on my humble blog post with some photos on these here:

One of them is the Arboretum. An arboretum is a botanical garden with many trees of different species put together like a collection in themes. They are older arboretum in Europe because the history has a twist. …the victors side. The first one in France is credited to Henri Louis Duhamel du Monceau (b 1700, d 1782 Paris) a doctor, botanist and agronomist in the 17C.

However, I like to tell you about my Arboretum ; the one Arboretum de Chèvreloup, located in the town of Rocquencourt, in the Yvelines dept 78 and just next to the back of the Domain of the Castle of Versailles. This is now part of the National Museum of Natural History and has an area of 200 hectares with over 2700 species of trees, greenhouses, and vegetable trees.

The park is divided into four thematic zones; the geographical zone with 120 hectares align by geographical area such as Americas, Asia, Europe etc. , the zone systematic in 50 hectares according to their botanical classification, the oldest trees open to the public; the zone horticulture in the center of the park with about 25 hectares of different varieties issue from an artificial selection, and the garden area of about 2 hectares where the trees are raised and exchange with other arboretums and botanical gardens.

The bit of history I like, and the most convincing to me for visited across from the shopping center Parly II and back adjoin to the Chateau de Versailles, is that this park was acquired in 1699 by king Louis XIV that encloses with a wall and served as a hunting ground.  This garden was destroyed upon the death of king Louis XV. At the French revolution like everything else, the goods were confiscated, and the farm on the opposite end of Gally-Chèvreloup  (it is still there since 1741 ferme de Gally by St Cyr l’école!) was sold to private persons. emperor Napoléon 1er buys the lands in 1806. By the 19C and early 20C, the bad maintenance and small spaces of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris made come up with an idea to use the collection of trees ,and in 1922 ; the conservator of the  Domaine de Versailles ,and architect at the National Museum of Natural History named Chaussemiche  established a project called  “Le Jardin de Jussieu, annex du Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle” or the Jussieu garden annex to the National Museum of Natural History. The current park was created in 1927, while it was attach to the national museum of natural history.

It’s official site can only found it in French here:

On the site of the National Museum of Natural History , there is a story and video on it in English too:

Another site that should be visited more is the Parc Balbi. The parc Balbi is an English style located next to the Potager du Roi with free access on the street or rue rue du Maréchal Joffre. It is a park of many species of tress and flowers, foxes, butterflies, bees, birds and reptiles like green lizards.

The story really starts in 1785, when the Count of Provence (brother of  king Louis XVI and future king as Louis XVIII) buys the land to create a park for a country retreat and welcome his inner circle as well as mistress  Anne de Caumont La Force, Countess of Balbi (from which the park garden takes its name)  By 1786, the garden is done with a keen interest of the Count of Provence. In 1791, the Count and Countess of Provence need to go into exile and abandoned the garden (due to the French revolution). By 1792, the rare trees were taken to enriched the collection of the Jardin des Plantes in the National Museum of Natural History in Paris as usually Paris takes. By 1872, the Great Seminary buys the garden and does works of renovation and conditioning. Again, by 1907 the school of Jules Ferry is established in the park with a door connection between the park and the Potager du roi done in 1914. The park is handle now by the same management as the Potager du roi, the National Superior School of Horticulture (created in 1873). More on this wonderful park away a bit from the castle that my family really enjoyed is at the tourist office of Versailles in English.

And as already mentioned, why not tell you about the Potager du roi.  The potager du roi  is a vegetable garden created in 1683 in the Chateau de Versailles property at the time for king Louis XIV and done by Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie at the time director of the Royal gardens ; later an urban garden with an area of 9 hectares.

The land here was of good quality , coming from the hills around Satory and after several work on masonry terraces and high walls done by architect Jules Hardouin Mansart.  The potager or vegetable garden is on the side of the water pond named the la pièce d’eau des Suisses or the pond of the Swiss; for the Royal guards), and not far from the Orangerie. The king entered by a grill monumental gate  that gave over the Piéce d’eau des Suisses  (where you can still see the only statue erected to king Louis XVI still standing!) . This gate is one of the most beautiful in Versailles and rare that it is an original!

It is divided into a central area dedicated to the vegetables or the great square or  grand carré with 3 hectares of area , and an area surrounded by high walls and about a dozn rooms or garden housing vegetables and fruits in turn surrounded by trees of apple, pear especially. It counts with  fruit trees of about 4500 trees with more than 400 different varieties, producing in a bad year about 50 tons of fruits and 20 tons of vegetables; part of it sold in the welcome boutique, especially on Wednesdays morning.

The place is in disrepair with about 40% of the trees ,sick and dying.  The latest report mentioned taht of the  4500 trees of  468  different varieties about 40% are sick, dead or dying… Here comes the Americans to the rescue again.  The school of horticulture that managed the garden has ok and received approval from the World Monument Fund (WMF) an charitable organization based in New York  that can provide technical and financial assistance to heritage sites like this one. They are here:

More info on the official Potager du roi site in French here:

The tourist office of the city of Versailles in English here:

Hope you have enjoy the ride into the unusual, historical,and magical spots of my beloved Versailles. We have a lot more to show you in VERSAILLES. Enjoy your week, happy travels, good health to all. Cheers!!!

March 15, 2018

Do you think shopping in Versailles?

This is a question. Do you think shopping in Versailles? I bet you do not. Anyway, when most come to Paris and think that a thing to do is to go to Versailles is not right. Paris is 75, Versailles is 78. Paris is the Capital of France, and Versailles by constitution is the de facto capital of France if changes or modifications are done to the constitution. Versailles is in another province/State/Department than Paris.

So, I worked in Paris but lived in Versailles, so I know the shopping from both sides. Versailles is the normal everyday town you love to live in ,yes.

One was on the wonderful shopping center mall of Parly II, the best mall in the whole region of île de France in my opinion. Here you have the main department stores like in that other town, Au Printemps and BHV as well as Lenôtre and Fauchon, and many many other stores even a Toys R Us and Truffaut, and FNAC as well as grocery store and cinema (to reopen in 2019).

The Parly II is a housing complex chic Chesnay-Trianon , the biggest division housing in Europe with an extension on two neighboring towns ,Le Chesnay and Rocquencourt; and the mall, it is also, the high school for my boys in the town of Le Chesnay that is just crossing a street to Versailles and uses the same transport network. It now has 187 stores with 4000 parking spaces!

In fact,the story tell us that the center was to be called Paris 2 but the Parisians objected for fear of losing business, so the name of Parly was used instead ( a town in the dept Yonne ,region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté). The idea really is to do something on the American style mall/living. You can reach it on the Phébus network of Versailles on lines B, H, M, S, T Express, U, V , and Nuit 1; the lines 17, 17S and 76 of the network Transdev d’Ecquevilly, line 51 of the network STAVO, and the line 1 Express of the network Transdev de Montesson Les Rabaux. Also, line 19 of Transdev will get you there from the stop terminal at the avenue Saint Cloud just before the Bvld de l’Europe bus depot and direction Les Mureaux you stop at Parly II/Arboretum.

This is how to get there and the layout of the mall.

The boutiques are here:

However, there is a lot more than just a mall. Plenty of nice stores some very historical all over town in inner Versailles.

The marché des fleurs is open Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays from 8h to 19h and Sundays mornings. Further away you come to my favorite of all markets the Marché Notre Dame of course at the Place Notre Dame. The non food market is held Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 11h to 19h, and the food markets out on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays mornings from 7h to 14h , and inside the halles on Tuesdays to Saturdays from 7h to 19h30 and Sundays from 7h to 14h. Plenty of underground parking too. The Sun King Louis XIV gave us the Marché de Notre Dame in 1721. the actual place was given out after the Domaine de Clagny built in 1665 was demolished. It was renovated with todays halles in 1841. It is the center of the city, if you want to know us! The stories tell us the first inhabitants of the city started arriving in 1671 and so did the market!

And you have the market here from the city tourist page in English:

The city is given you here 61 choices for shopping in Versailles :!/page/1

Ahh but wait, did you know the market at Place Notre Dame is older than the castle? And the halles that surround it are 360 years old? Located in the heart of the city around the Place du Notre Dame and two big streets crossing in a cross the square such as rue de la Paroisse, and avenue du Maréchal Foch; then you have streets all around the halles such as rue Durcis,rue au pain, Rue de la Pourvoierie, and rue André Chenier ,all founded by king Louis XIV. The old pavilions were destroyed in 1841 and replaced by the covered halles you see today on the method Baltard. This is the site of the merchants on the market in French:

About 20 years ago you can buy here in wholesale, where the store owners came to buy their products that eventually will sell to you in retail. They will buy their products by aisles such as fish, herbs/spices, flour,and beef and these gave the name to the covered halles you see today. There was even an animal market with cows, pigs, and chickens sold.

However, even the above is newer. There was an even older market here when in November 1634, on the initiative of Martial de Loménie1,king Louis XIII ordered installed a market here, even replacing an even older market. In August 1740, there were manifestions here due to the little finding of wheat, the bakers of Paris came here to buy flour and the locals repulse them strongly. A permanent presence of the Swiss guards was needed.

At the French revolution, the market falls in disrepair by 1835 the market is purchase by the city of Versailles; no longer part of the Royal domain, the merchants are taken their businesses and poorly indemnized. Several execution were carried out here. And after going in terrible shape the city eventually rebuilt them and the new market opened September 15, 1842.

There is a parking managed by Vinci Park underneath the place du Marché Notre Dame with 700 spaces and the pedestrian access are on each square of the market with elevators/lifts or escalator. Since 2014, they have painted the square on the market with paintings or trompes-l’œil; they represent the knights of the Carrousel, reminding us of the equestrian history of the city, done by the school of mural arts or the École d’art mural de Versailles. Parking info from the city in French here:

The market is very close to another wonderful old world shopping experience that is the Passage des antiquaires. It is a pedestrian only passage of the rue des deux portes leading to the Place du marché and to the rue Carnot,itself next to the avenue de Saint-Cloud , and a bit further the Place d’armes,in front of the central façade of the Castle/Museum of Versailles. The passage des Antiquaires is here :

I have to tell with pride, this was my district. The quartier Notre Dame, in the axis of the Avenue de Paris, and takes its name from the Church of Notre Dame, the castle parish and oldest (where all princes were baptized, birth certificates and marriages) created while the construction of the city was carried out under king Louis XIV. In this wonderful neighborhood or quartier you ,also, have the theater or Théâtre Montansier opening in 1777,the city history museum of musée Lambinet, the bailiffs mansion or Hôtel du bailliage that housed during the monarchy the local tribunal courthouse ; today the nice courtyard of the neighborhood of antiquaries ,and the shopping full streets of rue de la Paroisse, rue Hoche and the rue du Maréchal Foch.
Theater Montansier here:
Museum Lambinet here:

The rue du Maréchal Foch, crosses the city north south and prolonged the Avenue de l’Europe,to continue until the Place Édouard Laboulaye. This was my train station or gare de Rive-Droite. info in French here:
And the layout of the line L I took every day for many years Rive Droite to Gare Saint Lazare here in pdf file:

Here you can find the merchants/businesses of Versailles with over 1700 you should find yours. In French, but easy me think. You go to the left hand side , you have three slots, Catégorie (category of stores you are searching such as antiquités/art), sous-catégorie (more in detail such as céramique but no need to choose this slot), and Quartier (district like Notre Dame).

Lastly, but not least , an interesting site the Cours des Senteurs (Court of Scents) with an offer on perfums like those in the Maison des Parfums, but also, fine gourmet grocery store, Toile de Jouy with fabrics in colorful motifs from a historical and famous manufacture. The restaurant Table du 11, not yet tasted but look good; and salon de thés with sweets goodies; and from here you can access the Salle du jeu de Paume, birthplace of the founding act of the French democracy, quaint streets of the district of Saint Louis, and into the Potager du Roi vegetable garden of the king. More in English here:

Hope you enjoy the ride to a Royal , magnificent city, that is a lot more than a castle. VERSAILLES

Happy end of week, happy travels and good health to all. Cheers!

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