Archive for April, 2018

April 30, 2018

In memoriam my sweet Frenchie!

As my blog is part of my life history and all the wonderful travels done with my family and alone throughout the years, I have a very sad news to tell all ,and make part of my blog.

I have no words as this is just been communicated to me by the doctors . My wife of 27,5 wonderful super years have passed away at Chubert Hospital in Vannes. It is a very sad moment for me but writing here is a soothing relief of the great pain I am going thru. We had 3 wonderful young men who are very close to her and me and we are hanging in there and we will survive together. My father still alive at 82 is with us.

The French family has call they are coming  ,and received condolances even from some not heard lately but in these times is when the real friends show up and I am very glad have a bunch.

In just 27,5 years of marriage date was December 26 1990 and her coming birthday was to be September 26 where she would have been 60 yrs old; she died of the lousy sickness of our times pancreatic cancer with intestinal occlusion complications due to the cancer.

In memoriam born in Meaux, dept 77 Seine et Marne, September 26 1958. I had the extreme priviledge of meeting by August 1989 and marrying on December 26 1990 in Daytona Beach Florida USA/ 3 young boys twins of 24 each and older of 26 years old are with me and very supportive. She died  at 19h (7pm) on April 30 2018 in Chubert Hospital (Bretagne Atlantique) in Vannes.

Farewell my Martine ,we will not forget your staunch positive aptitude and so much caring for us . As we had said many times, we take our motto from Alexandre Dumas Three Muskeeteers , ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR ONE. We are together thanks to your example and strenght. God bless you my mamie blue, and may the angels keep you great company as you look after us from your resting place.

We spoked and decided she will be cremated at Plescop, near Vannes and later on the ashes will be deposit in the Atlantic Ocean from Honfleur Normandy. Where my mother was done and where we are all coming.

Thank you all my readers to make it so comfortable to enjoy myself telling you all the good things about travel. I will be back , promise.

Pluvigner

My Frenchie mamie blue Martine

April 30, 2018

Travels in Rabelaisie; François Rabelais!

So on this long weekend, let me tell you about something personal. I love wines and drinking them, and also ,the French literature like one of my favorites François Rabelais. And now he is so close to me, past by it and stop of course several times, drinking on the road such evangelists tell you is not good, but with a prudent men it is always a tradition worth keeping. In Vino Veritas!!!

Chinon

chateau de Chinon from across the Vienne river

A bit on Rabelais I like

It all began near Chinon in the Loire Touraine area in the middle of vineyards and where the waters of the Vienne river meet the Loire river.  It was here in the end of the 15C in a farmhouse called “La Devinière”,(now a museum to his memory) attached to the parish of Seuilly and close by the abbey of Sully that came to our world  a literary genious call François Rabelais.  He offered the world the picturesque and funny stories of Pantagruel that his father Gargantua brought from the women Badebec, daughter of the king of the Amaurotes in Utopia. His books gave a tremendous popular following which was not to please the theologians of the Sorbonne in Paris. François Rabelais was accused of heresy and his book prohibited.  We have to say that François Rabelais was a humanist and his stories accompany the movement of the thinkers born in Italy and that marked the Renaissance. A humanism that the Church denounce as pagan.

Who is this guy? François Rabelais (aka Alcofribas Nasier, an anagram of François Rabelais, or that of  Séraphin Calobarsy) was a French writer of the humanism of the Renaissance period , born in 1483 or 1494 according to the theories and died in Paris on April 9 1553. His infant years was spent in a bourgeois level benefitting of a medieval schooling such as the Trivium (grammar, rhetoric, dialective etc) and Quadrivium (math, geometry, music and astronomy etc) . According to the accounts of history, Rabelais starts as a Franciscan in the convent of the Baumette before joining that of Puy Saint-Martin in Fontenay-le-Comte.  While writing articles not to much to the liking of the Church he gets a waver by Pope Clement VII to have permission to entered the Benedictine order of monks.  At the Abbey of Saint-Pierre-de-Maillezais, he meets the bishop  Geoffroy d’Estissac prelate name by king François I. The bishop d’Estissac takes Rabelais as his secretary and under his protection.  Rabelais takes a trip to Paris in 1528 or 1530 to study medicine as well as his first love relationship with a widower that makes him father of two children in 1540.

By September 1530 he entered the Medical faculty of Montpellier where he received a bachelor degree in six weeks in the spring of 1532. He then goes to Lyon a great cultural center where the library business is booming. By November 1st he is name doctor of the hospital of Hôtel Dieu de Notre Dame de la Pitié du Pont du Rhône where he works in intervals.

The book of Pantagruel come out in 1533 was an immediate success as well as an almanac Pantagrueline Prognostication that makes fun of the superstitions. The bishop of Paris ordered Rabelais in 1534 as his secretary and doctor while he was on a trip to Rome for serious business of convincing Pope Clement VII not excommunicate king Henri VIII.  The re edition of Pantagruel in 1534 is accompany by various orthographical ,syntax and typographical corrections and very innovating at the times , and shows the fight against the Sorbonne.

By January 1536, on a brief of Pope Paul III authorized Rabelais to reach the Benedictine monastery of his choice and the exercise of medicine so he joined the Abbey of Saint Maur de Saint Maur des Fossées. By 1540, Rabelais departs for Torino Italy while on the same year the Pope Paul III declares legitimes his sons François and Junie born out of wedlock.  By September 1545 , Rabelais is given a privilege for the printing of Tiers Livre (third book) edited in 1546 by Chrestien Wechel that he signed with his own name; the theologies of the Sorbonne condemned him for heresy. By March 1546, Rabelais escapes from France  until 1547 or early 1548 in Metz at the time an imperial free town. He entered at the service of the city as doctor and adviser living by Estienne Lorens in the district of the Old town, the building still has his name. The Quart Livre  (fourth book)  still has souvenirs of this stay in Metz by introducing the language of the town, his costumes, and city stories like the Graoully. By 1551, Cardinal du Bellay bequest on Rabelais the priesthood of Saint Martin de Meudon and of Saint Christophe du Jambet. Rabelais does not lived in Meudon but maybe in Paris or in the castle of Saint Maur.

In 1548, eleven chapters of the Quart Livre are published and by 1550 Rabelais is given by the King the right to print all his works without been copy or reproduce without his approval (sort of the first copyrights ruling ).  At the same time, the printing controls becomes stricter and the law of Chateaubriand gives the rise on one of its clauses that every book printed a copy needs to go to the library of prohibited books by the Sorbonne. And of course, the three novels of Rabelias are on the list.  This prohibition does not stop the circulation of works benefiting of a Royal privilege. The integral version of the Quart Livre out in 1552 has a dedication letter by Odet de Châtillon thanking for his support.

On January 7 1553 , Rabelais  stop his treatment, he died in Paris in a house on the street or rue des Jardins-Saint-Paul (reach on metro line 1 Saint Paul or Line 7 Pont Marie or even line 7 Sully-Morland), there is a commemoration plaque on the street.  His death gives way to several stories and rumors  such as saying like « Je n’ai rien, je dois beaucoup, je donne le reste aux pauvres » something like I have nothing I give a lot, and the rest I give to the poor’s or this other one  « Tirez le rideau, la farce est jouée » something like bring down the curtains the farce is played.  He is buried at the old cemetery of the Church of Saint Paul des Champs in Paris. The Church is now call St Paul St Louis ,however, some parts of the old Church still can be seen, like part of the bell tower you can still see in the house of no 32 rue Neuve Saint Pierre at the corner of rue Saint Paul. The cemetery was closed in 1791 with many bodies in the wells some executed during the French revolution. The body of Rabelais is there below the houses that were built later, and never care to find his and others remains.

You can come and see his museum (farmhouse birth)  in plain Touraine vineyards here: http://www.musee-rabelais.fr/

To recap his most famous works and I love them all!

Pantagruel published in 1532, the publishing under the name of Alcofribas Nasier and some estimates it was published in 1533-34 or even 1535.  The déuxiéme livre or Gargantua is a follow up on the first one. Published in 1546 under his real name with the benefits of king François I and Henri II for the 1552 edition of Tiers Livre. The first edition of Quart Livre came out in 1548 with eleven chapters and many typos, the book printed by Michel Fezandat tells of the trip of Pantagruel and his friends to questioned the sayings of the Dive Bouteille.  By 1562 after his death it came out in the L’Isle Sonnante a partial edition of Cinquiéme livre (fifth book) that had 16 chapters. There was another version of 47 chapters coming out two years later. There is a manusciprt well preserve in the National Library or Bibliothéque Nationale ; since the 17C the authencity of these documents has always been questioned.

The information on the books , publications and history of François Rabelais in French is at the National Library site here: http://classes.bnf.fr/dossitsm/b-rabela.htm

And, of course, been in wine country Touraine, Loire, Rabelais finally comes to mind the title of my post. The information in French is here:  Chinon has the travels of Rabelais: http://www.chinon.com/voyagez-en-rabelaisie/

First, the area I am talking about is one I passed several times and get my wines from, at least most of them. One of the oldest AOC in France that of Chinon from 1937 covering 26 towns, 2400 hectares of vineyards, 2300 of those planted with Cabernet Franc, 74 ha with Chenin Blanc, a total of 173 winemakers producing 13 million bottles of wine each year with about 1,3 million exported of which 50% to the United States (my figures from 2015).

The vineyards are about 8 towns of the Rabelais spirit on the left bank of the Vienne river including his birthplace area of Seuilly that are all in the Chinon AOC wine denomination area.  One of the most ardent defender of this Rabelaisiens and Chinon is the Domaine or Château Joguet (my favorite buy a must to buy) own by Anne-Charlotte Genet ,that has the bottles since 1957 decorated with the Rabelais. The humanism in a bottle with 550 hectares of vineyards. Here the Vienne river cuts the appellation in two while the Loire river helps with the climate escaping the clouds…

Here the black grapes do battle even if minorities providing 17% of the red wine in other areas, while at Chinon itself they do 85% of the production, later Rosé and only 3% of whites.  Fruity , gourmand wines simple and well digest and limited keeps. The underground cellars of the Chateau de Chinon are huge and at 12C constant they can be visited. The dominant grape here is the Cabernet Franc fleuron after WWI in the area producing from it wines of fine tannins, ripe as well.  The tradition continues thanks to the amazing fraternity of wine lovers of Rabelais or the Entonneurs Rabelaisiens webpage here: http://www.entonneurs-rabelaisiens.com/

Some biased choices, sorry, but they are good seek them out and tell me what you think.

Domaine Charles Joguet Clos de la Dioterie 2015 32€  here rated 18.5 /20!! absolute a must trust me.Only 2 hectares here but sublime bio cultivation; and les Charmes 2014 is awesome; anecdote Charles Joguet is a painter but seldom does interviews;in the property you can see his paintings which are well known .

Another one Beatrice and Pascal Lambert ,La Croix Boissée 2014 , 20€ 18.5/20 bio in chalk lands black grape with minty and sweet spices it can be keep as the one above. For all budgets, Jourdan et Pichard , Les 3 Quartiers 2014,from parcels over 50 years old in bio too, mint coffee, muscadet nuts very nice at 15€ 16,5/20. Domaine Eric Hérault, La Poiteviniére 2016 10€ 16/20, high in the quaint town of Panzoult near the castle of Chinon, strawberries, black olives, and liquorice. All good!!

A webpage with properties information in the region, in English, have it on Chinon: http://uk.vignobles-chinonbourgueilazay.com/cellars-wines/chinon

Enjoy the Touraine, a lot more than castles I am telling you ::) Happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all. Life goes on.

April 29, 2018

My travels in the Morbihan, LXIIII

Well I am back in the routine after my last trip to East Africa (see previous post). I am back to colder grayer days with humidity to boot, this is Brittany. The temps last I read last night was 7C about 45F and no rain,but colder, today was 10C or about 50F right at 11H.. I am at my blog to help me go over the illness of my wife,cancer, so is not good. I will try to bear with it in my posts and go on with life as usual ,but it will be very hard. Thanks in advance for your prayers and best wishes. Yesterday as today or any other day was a day to visit the hospital by noonish time.

We went out to get a new toaster as when back the boys just reported not working the previous ones ho ho  ho; replace a moulinex by another bigger same moulinex at Darty a good chain of appliances here and they had opened a store in Auray closer to us than Vannes. So we did and no pictures but the site has…. webpage: https://magasin.darty.com/692561-darty-auray

We went around to visit Vannes after the hospital, and took a walk around our family favorites areas as well as had lunch at Le Saint Nicolas on rue Francis Decker right next to the tour prison or prison tower on the ramparts of Vannes. The restaurant was great , we needed it, I needed it , two pints of grimbergen blonde beers and a burger espagnol that is Spanish burger, they just put chorizos lol!! it was ok; the boys had their chunk of beef and same beers. For about 26€ per person, average and good service and ambiance was a winner. Facebook webpage: https://www.facebook.com/Le-Saint-Nicolas-Vannes-1123994740984191/

Vannes

We continue a bit of walk in Auray as we needed to change my wallet (see my baptism on the Nile in previous post); luckily the store was a hit since coming to this area for all our luggage, wallets, bags needs and still there same service and good quality brands, I had and again purchase a Hexagona cow leather for 45€ same as old,done deal at Sacmania at rue du lait, Auray (the store since closed). The brand webpage here: https://www.hexagona.com/fr/

The store webpage is here: http://www.sacmania.fr/item/auray/

From our walks in Auray we went by the quaint nice rue du Lait going from Place Notre Dame to Place de la République in town. The St Gildas Church is here on one end Notre Dame square and on the other Republic square is the city hall or mairie of Auray; in between there is a open shopping with plenty of stores. As well as been a very nice historical town in the history of Canada and the USA.

Auray Auray

We, then headed back home but needed groceries so decided to go back to Vannes for E Leclerc hypermarket there to do our groceries, the men’s shopping. They have been wonderful helping in all chores even taking their grandpa out for a spin the day before to have lunch at Burger King! The groceries at Leclerc are always good, and they get their cereals as well as the books, games etc at the cultural center part of Leclerc. Done. webpage: http://www.e-leclerc.com/vannes

Some of the walks in Vannes included passing by our great train station that I used more and more, across the street is the bus terminal, all near Hospital A Chubert. You walk along the ramparts to see our wonderful fortified town with the Constable tower, the walls, the views of the St Peter’s Cathedral, the gate or Porte Prison (because it was once a prison) right at the foot of the Le Saint Nicolas resto we ate lunch; the wonderful garden of the Garenne; the préfécture or regional government building for official events only as the administrative part is elsewhere in city center by Place de la République, Vannes. The great architecture of 1894 on the building across the street rue Alain le Grand for the manufacture of Petits Fers doing the now gone hardware tools, now a line of stores using the building.  Not to overlook the goodies in Pascal Brion antiques on rue Francis Decker right before the Le Saint Nicolas resto! All wonderful medieval untouch Vannes, a city worth coming to visit. Enjoy the photos.

Vannes Vannes

Then, we came home to start using our new wallets (my oldest also change his), getting all the pictures from the East Africa (Uganda) trip and then the ones for this post sort out. Got all the mail done and now ready to do our French taxes on Sunday (our family Tax Day,,,yikes!). And rest, visit hospital again etc. Lucky will have a rest day on Monday, Tuesday is Labor Day here so off, then  I go to Paris on Wednesday on same day for an opinion of the Hôpital Americain of Neuilly sur Seine (Hauts de Seine 92) even if we can call it the Paris American Hospital. Thursday is rest day again, and will finally work on Friday this coming week. Vive la France!

You stay on, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all. Life is beautiful, just not perfect. Cheers!

April 28, 2018

A bit of Uganda for you!

Ok, so I am back, the blog keeps me going thru these days, it is a way to keep up with the past and tell of the future. So on my last journey ,and my 80th country visited, I came to Uganda. A wonderful place of many friendly people all eager to improve themselves.

My journey as usual took me from Nantes Atlantique airport after getting there with my car. From Nantes I flew again to Paris CDG T2F and then change to Terminal 1 for a fly with Qatar Airways to first Doha and then Entebbe, Uganda. The return was easier on KLM from Entebbe to Amsterdam Schiphol airport and then again on KLM to Nantes Atlantique airport where my car was waiting for the return home. All done well except needed to change from AF to Qatar Airways which made me arrive five hours later to Entebbe.

 

Once there, had a friendly transportation ride as it was a business trip ,to Kampala the capital even if has no airport.  Here I stayed first at the bit expensive but just to impressed me Le Petit Village actually of Belgian style and the price to match Europe. It is actually a village with accommodations ,pool, an inside bank, souvenir store, bar and light restaurant as well as a fancy one call le Chateau with again prices to match for visiting businesspeople like me. The overall place is very nice of course, worth it of its name. The webpage is here; Le Petit Village

Uganda Uganda Uganda

Doha airport is very nice as usual in this part of the world, the airport is the highlight … huge super modern place with all the trimmings and easy to connect flights. The formal name of the airport is Hamad International,and the webpage is here: Doha Hamad International airport

From Doha I continue to Entebbe and here you are worlds apart; small, a bit rundown, and dirty and you need to get out of your car so they check on it , walk by and the driver will pick you up on the other side after you going thru a security check point. Once at the airport no sense in getting earlier as they put you on the side waiting room until your flight is call for departure; then you outside again and come back thru the security check point to get back into the terminal… At least the people are very friendly. The webpage is here: Entebbe airport from official gov source

A better more information place for the airport is found here: Unofficial Entebbe airport

Uganda Uganda

While passing by Entebbe saw a bit of the local street scene, and several malls such as Imperial Mall and Victoria Mall, very interesting and some crowded traffic jams as well as rain. The imperial Mall is a recent development for Uganda standards and they have a Facebook page for it here: Facebook Imperial Mall Entebbe

The Victoria Mall is the largest in the country and very nice. IT is in Facebook but has its own webpage here: Victoria Mall Entebbe

There is a nice multiple store with a shopping mall call Oasis in Kampala. It has several stores and even saw a KFC restaurant here: More from this webpage: https://theeye.co.ug/nakumatt-oasis-mall/

Uganda

I  continue from Kampala and doing some street scenes rides and tasting the local Nile Special beer, just yummy! I went on to Jinja another important city in Uganda,and right by the mouth of the mighty Nile river.

Uganda

In Jinja , I stayed at the nice and friendly Two Friends guest house, worth it good value location and services. Here we had dinner at the next door All Friends Restaurant. The webpage is here; 2 Friends guest house Jinya

Uganda Uganda

IT is on a street bordered with tourist accommodation as Jinja is a popular place for tours of the Nile river which starts here around Lake Victoria.  A bit more info on the Nile river mouth and cruises here: Nile river safaris

And of course , a bit more on Lake Victoria, simply amazing. Lake Victoria Uganda

While in Jinja, I did my baptism on the Nile river , a bit lake but I was here!!! Well having a jet ski waverunner and driver helps a lot but the views were spectacular and of course on the way back to harbor I fell in the water trying to go from the jet ski to a fishing boat; no big deal it was shallow and had floating jacket on, quickly out, just my clothes were soaked. An experience to remember for life. Wonderful place thought.

As my time there covered a week and traveling back and forth from Kampala to Jinya I got me a different hotel for the last day and a half in Kampala, this was the MacKinnon Suites, very centrally located, rather nice building, impressive courtyad only the bedding was a bit well yellow.  The rest was fine with good friendly service and excellent facilities. webpage: Mackinnon Suites hotel Kampala

Uganda Uganda

Coming back landing at CDG Terminal 1 been there but is my worse terminal, been the oldest nothing like T2. The pdf map for Terminal 1 is here: CDG Terminal 1 map  You walk into the CDGVAL train connection to get you to Terminal 2 and the connections to Paris.

Coming thru Schiphol Amsterdam allow me for a quicker return and to do some shopping for Gouda cheese, and pepermint candies. The airport is an usual one for me with just one big boulevard Holland to walk by and shop and eat and drink.  I spent most of my time there at the Internet Centre and eating at the Oven pizzeria upper level.  You have the maps here: Schiphol airport maps

Nantes Atlantique is booming with growth and facilities every where already very much in use, it will grow for sure. It is my favorite airport as it is so easy to use and very convenienent covered attach parking garage. The hotels are just across the street for a stayover about 300 meters. Webpage: Nantes Atlantique map

Overall, a very pleasant trip and a new dot in my world map. Uganda know from many years before doing business there but never visit until now, as the saying goes better late than never. And I will be back….

I took many pictures of all things moving, will put a sampler here just to get you to try it go there ,the beer is good the coffee is great, and the people very friendly and safe place to be. Enjoy  the street scenes.

Happy long weekend with our Labor Day coming May 1, and other personal duties going to Paris for my wife illness,and then before see the semifinal second game of the Champions league…

Happy travels, good health and many cheers!

April 21, 2018

And we do still have eternal Rome!!!

Ok so this is a major tourist destination so one page blog won’t cover it. However, will give you enough wish list items to do visit. I admit when living outside of Europe never visited Italy, but since living in Europe, been there several times and one big summer vacation with the family all over Rome, Lazio region. Flew the family with the frequent miles by air and then public transport or a rental car to visit outside Rome was fantastic.

We flew on Air France all the way with class as usual for us; took off from Nantes thru Orly and then Fiumicino and on the way back we came by CDG to Nantes. All perfect flights no delays typical with me flying the big blue, AF.  After thinking of taken the bus from Fiumicino airport to termini train station, and then metro Bologna to our apartment with BIT or Terravision, by the time we got to the bus terminal all were gone and since we had no pre paid seats ,saw Tambus ready to go and took it, 5€ per person on site, very nice ride and into central Rome by the Coliseum. For info the Tambus webpage: https://www.tambus.it/roma-fiumicino/

However ,even if the ride was good and so use to the car, on the way back we book a shuttle for 55€ for all five of us plus luggage from Nomentano to Fiumicino , great ride, great driver and very on time, by the time we came down he was already there!  We booked it thru the apartment folks. We stayed in an apartment in the Nomentano district and had buses 62, 310, 445, and 542 or metro Bologna or St Agnese Annibalaino to handle all the trips. We did a different take upon recomm from a friend and book the apartment by booking.com, it was a delight. The owner gave us the keys and told us about the surrounding area, plus tips on transport etc. Then, the apt had two bedrooms, two baths, full kitchen, dishwasher and laundry machine, wifi internet connection, premium TV channels, AC, first floor and breakfast included brought to us every 3 days by staff, linens changes every wednesday weekly. All that for 105€ per day. The apartment was call That’s Amore Holiday. Since then, they have change owners and now its call 3BHome at Via Rodolfo Lanciani 1. Nevertheless, it seems same amenities and will post for reference great location: http://www.3bhome.it/

Once you reach the central nerve of the city , the multi transport station Termini , you are within walking distances of everything. Of course, we are used to walking, some folks visiting from outside Europe are not used to long walks. Pity, they are missing a lot of the place they visit, you can’t go like back at home ,you need to adjust to the local life to soak in all the culture and manners and learn, as learning the human being is an everyday routine.

If not, the public transport site is ok ,it tells you the metro and buses and end of line stops but once you read the panels on the stops and use them once, you will be cruising like a native ,very easy. The Roma ATAC transport network site: https://www.atac.roma.it/index.asp?lingua=ENG

There were streets, but also buildings, some churches, passing by saw a nice facade ,architecturally appealing and voilà photo taken. Another in the unknown, no matter , now looking at them they all look beautiful ,and will one day allow me the opportunity to go back and retrace my trails to find what they are. Another excuse to visit Rome again.

The public transport in summer was almost empty, and all the attractions were open even with big line did not matter we have seen plenty of old stones already in Europe ::) We did rented an apartment the Nomentano area very residential nice real people living and doing our groceries in the nearby Carrefour market. We were near Bologna metro/subway station but nevertheless we only use a couple times, the rest was on the bus, best way to see a city ,above ground!

So let’s give you an overall view of the Eternal Rome.

Rome or in Italian Roma is the capital of Italy since the Italian Republic in 1871 , located in the center west of the Italian Peninsula near the Tyrrheniann sea and also the capital of the region of Lazio; and was of the Roman empire for 357 years. It has the peculiarity to have a State right in the middle of the city, Vatican city where the Pope is the chief of State; it is the only one of its kind in the world. The history of Rome extends for over 28 centuries since the foundation by Romulus in 753 BC to now, been successive the center of the Roman monarchy, Roman republic (509 BC to 27 BC) ;later the Roman empire ( 27BC to 330AD)  ; during all theses periods we came to hear the popular phrase, All roads lead to Rome! . Since the 1C AD it host the seat of the Roman Catholic Church in the  Pontifical States from 752 to 1870 and later the Vatican City.

The city center extends 25 km to the coast by the Tyrrhénien sea forming the district of Ostia later call the Lido of Rome  (as lido means littoral ).  It is why Rome is one of the rare capital city that has a sea front and about 20 km of beaches.  The center is where you hear the phrase the seven hills of Rome with the Aventin, Caelius, Capitole, Esquilin, Palatine, Quirinal, and Viminal on the south where there is the Tiberian island. The city center ,also, includes the hills of Janicule and Pincio as well as the Vatican and the nearby Mount Testaccio. Outside the walls of the city you can find other hills even higher such as Monte Mario , Monte Parioli and Monte Antenne; as the old city was surrounded by ramparts walls or the Aurelian wall built by Emperor Aurelian in 270AD to protect the neighborhoods developed outside the Servian wall.

As mentioned , and by looking at my previous blog posts above there is lots to cover here. However, as different from many my favorites parts of the city are the parks such as : Villa Doria Pamphili, Villa Ada, Villa Borghése ( a must),  Gardens of the Vatican, Villa Glori, Villa Celimontana, Villa  Torlonia, Villa Medici (another dandy) ,the gardens of Pincio and the botanical garden of Rome.

There is a lot of old history and monuments here, so you come for the  Roman period, excellent choice. My favorites or everybody’s favorites are the Colisseum ,Panthéon, Roman Forum,  arch of Triomphe of Arch of Constantin, and the Arch of Titus, the Marcellus theater, Via Appia, Thermes of Caracalla, Trojan column , Circus Maximus, Aurelian wall, Pyramid of Caius Cestius, Hercules temple, and Ostia Antica. You have nice fortress castles such as Castle of San Angelo, Fortress of Ostia and House of knights of Rhodes.

There are beautiful squares we like such as the Piazza Navone, Piazza di Spagna, Piazza di Capitolio , Piazza de la Rotonda, Piazza de popolo, Campo de Fiori, Piazza de Quirinal, Piazza Farnese. The nicest bridges in my opinion are the Ponte San Angelo ,and the nicest fountains are of Trevi, Four rivers fountain, Neptune fountain, Turtles fountain, Triton fountain in piazza Barberini, and fountain of naides in piazza della Repubblica. Then, you have many many obelisks, gates, columns, catacombs, churches, basilicas, chapels, museums  libraries and the semifinalist in the Champion League 2018 AS Roma!

The webpage to help you plan your trip further is the tourist office of Rome here:  http://www.turismoroma.it/?lang=en

A cultural historical site for Rome , Archeoroma: https://www.archeoroma.org/sites/

The region of Lazio tourist office: Lazio tourist office

Hope you enjoy it, on a hot Saturday in the Morbihan going to 29C or 84F!!! time to head for the beach. Happy travels, good health and many cheers!!!

Tags: , ,
April 21, 2018

Some news from France CXC

And lets get back to France, it is hot, very hot, today we got to 29C or about 84F, and the locals went to the beach. Not me, need to work but will check it out a bit tomorrow. Full sunshine and no rain of course; lovely France. And gorgeous Morbihan in Brittany on the west coast beaches!

Let me tell you a bit on what is going on of interest to many, not to mention the strikes on SNCF continues and AF is calling for days too, the University students are holding out and been kick out by the police special riots from the Universities, and so on ,that is France ,champions strikers; one way to break from the cold into the hot  spring days!

I have mentioned before of things to do in Versailles, and told you it is more than a castle well here is one update of one place we like when lived there and visit when by the city. You have on the left the Centre Commercial Parly II shopping center par excellence and we like too, on the right you have the Château de Versailles and between these mega places you have a heaven of peace with the sweetness of big trees covering about 250 fields of football/soccer and still not as well visited. The Arboretum de Chévreloup sits between the cities of Rocquencourt (Van Gogh painted on the town) and Versailles in the Yvelines dept 78 and after some renovation is open again! Normally, they had opened about 50 hectares to the public but after this major work, you can walk on 200 hectares or 494 acres! On a land that was the hunting ground of king Louis XIV and part of the Domaine de Versailles until the French revolution. It has over 2500 species of trees in geographical lineup,one of the richest collections in Europe!  The blue cedar trees are one of the biggest in the world with 800 meters on a straight line bringing you back to what the botanists were thinking when they created in the 1920’s. See it! Arboretum de Chévreloup, 30 route de Versailles, (N186) open every day from  April 1 to November 15 (except labor day May 1st) from 10h to 18h admission is 7€ adults more info at  Arboretum de Chévreloup

Major work to renovated the Grand Palais, as it is in a critical state of repairs. The main building in the Universal Exposition of 1900 ,the works planned for it will be the first since opening in a historical work site with a budget of 466 million euros , it will start in December 2020 and finish by Spring 2023 and by the summer of 2024 will be an Olympic site. The public debate on the progress will be held and decision done by May 14 . You can follow the vote and construction updates here.  building debate on the Grand Palais

And the men of the Big wheel or Grande Roue  in the place de la Concorde by the Jardin des Tuileries is at it again with the city of Paris. This time going to the Council of State the highest body to rendered a decision. Marcel Campion wants the wheel to stay here , however if the decision is negative, he will take the wheel to Red Square in Moscow. The decision by the Council of State should be by May 19 next. Marcel Campion is offering two free days to the resident of Paris with proof of domicile, on May 17 and 18. All others still need to pay admission of 12€.  Description of the Big Wheel is here in city of Paris tourist office! Big Wheel Paris tourist office

And the very busy and popular RER C station of Saint Michel is due to open to the public again by April 30. It has been closed for repairs and now there is a tentative opening day according to  SNCF  Réseau .

And as the weather is nice ,and will be for the next few days ,here is my suggestion for a nice weekend brunch in Paris. Claus Saint-Germain. 2, rue Clément (6éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 55 26 95 10. Brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 9h to 17H formule 4 brunchs from 31-34€. More here: Claus Saint Germain

And how about those wonderful Paris terraces, well they are all over and plenty of choices for all. My favorites the last couple years have been.

Marcello. 8, rue Mabillon (6éme). Tél. +33 01 43 26 52 26. open every day carte menu 30-60€ Marcello Paris

Le Drugstore. 133, avenue des Champs-Élysées (8éme). Tél. +33 01 44 43 77 64. Open every day carte menu 40-60€. Le Drugstore Paris

And with the look alone of the Basilica Sainte Clotilde you have the quaint Le Basilic. 2, rue Casimir-Perier (7éme). Tél. +33  01 44 18 94 64. Open every day carte menu 50-70€.  Le Basilic Paris

Maison Maison. Voie Georges-Pompidou, facing  16, quai du Louvre (1éme). Open every day except Mondays and Tuesdays for lunch. carte menu 15-30€

At La Démesure (9éme)  you have your views on the Seine river on the righ bank or rive droite on a boat barge of 120 persons capacity with tables on the quays. La Démesure sur Seine. 69, port de la Rapée (12éme). Open every day except Sundays and Mondays. Carte menu 20-40€.  La Démesures sur Seine Paris

And only steps from the wonderful nice pretty a must parc Monceau,you have a huge terrase for 70 persons capacity hiding behind the gate of the Camondo museum ,see the wonderful gardens . Le Camondo. 61 bis, rue de Monceau (8éme). Tél. +33  01 45 63 40 40. Open every day except Sundays. Carte menu 45-55€. Le Camondo Paris

And of course on these brunch and terrace combination, cannot go away without telling you again my all time favorite in my favorite spots in Paris, the 16éme and quartier Muette. What was an old train station for several years a wonderful place to eat, drink and enjoy the terraces in the back overlooking the Parc Ranelegh. Restaurant Le Gare, 19 chaussée de la Muette, metro La Muette line 9 leaves you facing the restaurant to your left out of station. Open every day menu carte from 24-39€ Enjoy it. Those from my previous life in the travel forums will remember taking you there each time in Paris. Webpage: Restaurant Le Gare

And Mexico is feeling strong in Paris! La Casa Corona , a house of artists and part of Corona France (the Mexican beer people) has open a new ephemeral bar in the 11éme on what was a huge loft with a glass ceiling now has several bars, lots of vegetation, water fresheners sprays, hammocks, swingers and small corners to speak softly between friends. The invited artists will be amongst you and could expose their works in the bar where a display has been installed;nothing told in advance you just show up and see who is showing or playing there. The La Casa Corona, 71 rue de la Fontaine au Roi, 11éme, Will have the space open from April 19 to May 13, Tuesdays to Thursdays from 17h to midnight and from Fridays to Sundays until 02h . You pay only 5€ for a corona beer and 10€ for cocktails. Really!!! See more in their Facebook page here: La Casa Corona Paris

Well Bio is on, and even I got some stuff bio here ::) Some of the best in my opinion and they are many and more and more coming.

Wild & The Moon has six addresses in Paris (last one at the fondation Lafayette Anticipations), the green cantina of  bio, local,  ethical, in season, vegan, rich in super foods, without lactose or additives or glutens.  Loaded with sweets as well and spices see it at  Wild & The Moon. 55, rue Charlot (3éme). Tél. +33 09 51 80 22 33. Open every day carte menu 15-30€. Wild & Le Moon Paris

A few steps from the Folies Bergére there is a counter, café-restaurant, and cantina.  The first is for take out food with retreats of purchase at the Le Campanier, the second is simple dishes with lots of vegetables and the cantina for fast lunch a la carte like soup of the day, veggie burger, and  cheesecake etc etc.  See at Supernature. 8 (counters), 12 (cantinas) , and 15 (restaurant), rue de Trévise (9éme). Tél. +33 01 42 46 58 04. Open every day except Saturdays and Sundays evening. Carte menu  16-30€. Brunch  on Sundays from 11h30 to 16h, 25€.  Supernature Paris

And for the fresh bio go and done since 1989,when a group got together here to offered all bio and one of the originals of Paris with a large choice of fruits, vegetables , and groceries and take out food.  Heavy on Sundays morning, the Marché bio Raspail. Boulevard Raspail, between rue du Cherche-Midi and rue de Rennes (6éme). Sundays from 9h to 15h. Marché Bio Raspail Paris

From bio to Cognac, well it is natural too ::)

The owner of cognac Remy Martin and liqueur Cointreau and rum Mount Gay just published the financials with cognac sales of 265M euros an increase of 2,6% if exchange rates taken into account ,otherwise it would be 12,8%. The sales of cognac Remy Martin are about 75% of that are 18;3% of the growth alone. The performance is very solid in the United States its first market as well as Russia, and the travelers sales on planes airports etc. The mark is positioning on the luxury segment and expect to have 60% of their sales on products costing more than 50 USDollars per bottle to the 2019-2020 period. The group overall sales are 1,13 billion euros and growth of 7,3% for 2017-2018. The story of Remy Martin here: cognac Rémy Martin

And I close out this edition of Some news from France with something from my earlier youthful days on light airplanes. ….

This weekend today at Cannes there will be the first Red Bull Air Race in France!!! with the participation of five French pilots. More here: Red Bull Air Race Cannes 2018

However, if you like to do this in while visiting France, let me give you some leads !!! The nice aerodrome of my nice Saint-Cyr-l’Ecole  and Dreux , have friendly voltage air rides for about 30-40 minutes and 240€ on a CAP 10 airplane, the most popular plane of  its class in the world. Also, in my old hangouts areas of the L’Isle-Adam, aerodrome Persan-Beaumont  are given rides of 30 minutes on an EXTRA 200 for about 526€, video souvenir included . For the same price in Coulommiers, dept 77 Seine-et-Marne, it is possible to fly for about 25 minutes on a wonderful Pitts Spécial, the mythical plane of voltage from the 1960’s and 265 Horse powers. And on the same club you can do a ride on a Robin R 2160 for 339€. Nearer me now in Ploemeur, near Lorient a ride sensation on a CAP 10 is doable for 120€.  At the Rennes airport they can give you a baptismal flight of about an hour over the Mont-Saint-Michel  for 749€.  You will do this and all along the coast in a Boeing Stearman of WWII vintage.   all of these  aerodromes can be found here. Just put the name of the town in France section. Aerodromes of France

Enjoy my belle France as I do. Have a great weekend you all. Happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all.

 

 

 

April 19, 2018

Another bloody dandy square ,Trafalgar in London!

Ok so we went to London, we have been there a few time , couple times with the family on vacation and several other by me on business trips. London is more as like going back over the pond, but a bit more aristocratic. We love the night life and the free museums but walk so wonderful to walk.

In walking nothing tops going over the big squares and my favorite there is Trafalgar ,so therefore, here is a bit of honor on Mr Nelson.

Trafalgar Square in the neighborhood of Westminster in London is name after the battle of Trafalgar by Cape Trafalgar opposing the French-Spanish navy vs the British in 1805. The square is very lively and we like it. Trafalgar Square is at the intersection of Charing Cross where it connects with  Whitehall (in turns connecting to Parliament Square), The Strand, The Mall (connecting to Buckingham Palace via Admiralty Arch), Cockspur Street ,and  Northumberland Avenue, while on the north the square ends on the Pall Mall extension, and  Duncannon Street.

Other than several embassies  there , you have the National Gallery, one of the most important museum in London and the Anglican Church St Martin-in-the-Fields  built in the 18C on the spot of an earlier Church built in the 13C that was in a field between the City and Westminster.  Many famous people have been buried at St Martin’s including Nell Gwynn, mistress of Charles II , the painters William Hogarth and Joshua Reynolds and the renowned craftsman Thomas Chippendale. There is a statue of king James II in costume of an emperor. In the center of the square there are two fountains one with LED colors. The fountains reduced the open space available for public gatherings and reduced the risk of riotous assembly.

The site of Trafalgar Square had been a significant landmark since the 13C and originally contained the King’s Mews. After George IV moved the mews to Buckingham Palace, the area was redeveloped by John Nash in 1820 designed, but progress was slow after his death, work started in 1829 and the square did not open until 1844, when the northern terrace of the National Gallery was done.  It was in 1842 when Nelson’s Column was erected at 52 meters high and a pedestal of granite, a chapter in bronze and the statue itself of 4.50 meters high representing Admiral Horatio Nelson that lost his life in the battle of Trafalgar.  Nelson faces south, towards Whitehall, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and the River Thames. South west is Admiralty Arch, the entrance to the wide ceremonial drive to Buckingham Palace called The Mall. The monument is surrounded by four sculptures of lions protecting the statue that were added in 1867.  Legend says the lions were done from the metal of the French navy that was defeated by Admiral Nelson and on a high that he can see his navy anchored in Portsmouth.

London

Adm Horatio Nelson column in Trafalgar Square side statue of king Charles I ,National Gallery in back

Anecdotes are a few here are my favorites in this square has the smallest police station in London, a cylindrical building in the southeast corner of the square; these days the police phone box is used as a storage room by the cleaners. Norway always sends a huge Christmas tree that stands in the square, as a token of gratitude for Britain’s help during the Second World war. The tree given is between 60-70 feet tall and is decorated with approximately 500 white lights. If you want to see the lights on the tree switched on, this always happens on the first Thursday in December. In 1876 the Imperial Measures were set into the north terrace wall. Surveyors can still check ‘Perches’, ‘Chains’ and other archaic measures against feet and yards. When the central staircase leading to the National Gallery was added, the measures were relocated to the bottom steps.

In the square there are two plinths for sculptures on the north side of the square. A bronze equestrian statue of George IV originally intended to be placed on top of the Marble Arch was installed on the eastern plinth in 1844, while the other remained empty until the late-20C. There are two other statues on plinths, both installed during the 19C that were later removed. The Gift Horse was installed on the fourth plinth in 2015. It is a model of a horse’s skeleton with a live display of the London Stock Exchange. There are three busts of admirals against the north wall of the square. Those of Lord Jellicoe by Sir Charles Wheeler and Lord Beatty, by William MacMillan were installed in 1948 in conjunction with the square’s fountains, which also commemorate them. The third, of the Second World War First Sea Lord Admiral Cunningham was unveiled alongside them in 1967.  On the south side on the site of the original Charing Cross, is a bronze equestrian statue of Charles I ;it was cast in 1633, and placed in its present position in 1678. The two statues on the lawn in front of the National Gallery are the statue of James II to the west of the portico, and of one George Washington, a replica of a work by Jean-Antoine Houdon, to the east  that was a gift from the Commonwealth of Virginia installed in 1921. For over 150 years the plinth in the north-west corner of Trafalgar Square, commonly known as the ‘Fourth Plinth’, remained empty. It was intended to hold an equestrian statue of King William IV. A failure to gather sufficient funds for its construction meant it was never realized. In 1999 it was decided to use the plinth for the temporary display of modern sculpture.

london

Nowdays, the square holds several events some of these were used for two sketch portions from BBC’s comedy series named as ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’. ‘Olympic Hide and Seek’ sketch also starts here. It is featured in ‘V for Vendetta’ comic version as the location where V’s met the army and defeated them, without a single fired shot. The Square was also the location of the successful ‘World’s Largest Coconut Orchestra’ on 23 April 2007.  In May 2007, for the campaign by London authorities to promote “green spaces” in the city, the square was grassed over with the 2,000 square meters of turf for two days. In July 2007, a parade was held on the square and concert was arranged for the 60th independence of Pakistan from the British. Besides all these activities every year the Sea Cadet Corps holds a parade in honor of Admiral Lord Nelson and the British victory on the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar (21 October), over the combined fleets of Spain and France at Trafalgar.

London Underground’s  (subway/metro) Charing Cross station on the Northern and Bakerloo lines has an exit in the square. The lines had separate stations, of which the Bakerloo line one was called Trafalgar Square until they were linked and renamed in 1979 as part of the construction of the Jubilee line, which was rerouted to Westminster in 1999. Other nearby tube/metro/subway  stations are Embankment connecting the District, Circle, Northern and Bakerloo lines, and Leicester Square on the Northern and Piccadilly lines. London bus routes 3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 29, 53, 87, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176, 453 all pass through Trafalgar Square.

We came by car , parked by Earl’s Court, and take the tube or double decker buses in, and walk walk a lot with a pint you go further lol!

Some webpages to help you plan your trip and more on Trafalgar square to follow:

Webcam of Trafalgar Square: http://www.camvista.com/england/london/trafsq.php3

More info on Trafalgar Square in the City of London webpage: https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/our-building-and-squares/trafalgar-square?source=vanityurl

Tourist office of London : https://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/place/283774-trafalgar-square

And if you still need more of London, then read this London enthusiast site, many interesting facts are here: https://londontopia.net/

Hope you enjoy the ride on Trafalgar, and do count as seeing it on your next visit to London. Happy travels, good health, and many cheers!!!

Tags: , ,
April 18, 2018

The Ducal Palace of Luxembourg!

Another of our favorite countries of Europe, small , pretty , quaint, historical and nice Luxembourg. We have come so many times, and each time we leave wanting to come back.  There, the nostalgic walk over of a palace always brings the best in me. The Ducal Palace of Luxembourg even has a non European as Heads of State in Europe! And the country will surprise many.

The quaint small but very nice Ducal Palace of Luxembourg. I have come here often first back in 1991 , and then very often while living in Versailles, even for lunch runs lol! Now out west much less often , missed it. While vacationing in Germany needed to stop by again in 2015. I love it there, and who knows when back but will dare to say would try harder, it is worth the visit. The city, the country and of course the Ducal Palace are all worth it.  The Grand Ducal Palace, excuse me, is done in the renaissance style of the 16C and its the official residence of the duke of Luxembourg ,chief of State since 1890. It is located not far from the Place Guillaume II.

luxembourg

luxembourg

A bit of history I like:

It was in 1572 that the governor of the Netherlands Spanish ordered the construction of the city hall and it was done in 1573. By 1683 and 1684 the palace had damages due to the bombings of the siege of Vauban. In 1713, Luxembourg becomes an Austrian possession, and work of repairs were done in 1728.  The building call the Balance was added in 1741 and the city hall becomes the seat of the Three States. In 1795, Luxembourg is under French control and the city hall becomes the seat of the prefecture or regional government building of the department of the forest or Département des Forêts. By 1814, it had already become a Grand Duchy and was trusted to the king of the Netherlands, by 1817, the city hall becomes the government house where the governor of the king works. Thanks to the purchase of nearby houses  an annex is added to house the chamber of deputies in 1859.

In 1890 the death without male heir of the king of Netherlands give the Grand Duchy to a distant cousin Grand Duke Adolph, he uses the palace as the resident of the ruler or of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg . To our days the Grand Duke uses the palace as a place of work and rarely as a residence.  It is here that he welcomes the heads of governments or receptions of dinners for the national day when it is welcome about 300 persons.  The Nazis occupied the palace during WWII for cultural and concerts as well as a private club called Schlosschenke. The furniture, jewelry ,and other works of arts were sent to Germany. IN April 14 1945, the Grand Duchesse Charlotte was welcome back by the Luxembourgian from a balcony in the palace. From 1992 to 1996 ,the palace went thru a complete renovation to give it the splendor of the original.

Guided visits are carried out between July and early September every day except Wednesdays from 10h to 17h, it last about 45 minutes. Reservations  and information to be found at the tourist office of Luxembourg LCTO in the place Guillaume II.

Luxembourg

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here , always a must to read before the trip.

The city of Luxembourg on the Ducal Palace: https://www.luxembourg-city.com/en/place/monuments/grand-ducal-palace

The Tourist office of Luxembourg on the Ducal Palace: https://www.visitluxembourg.com/en/place/castle/palace-of-the-grand-dukes

The Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg constitutes the House of Luxembourg-Nassau, headed by the sovereign Grand Duke,  and in which the throne of the Grand Duchy is hereditary. It consists of heirs and descendants of the House of Nassau-Weilburg,  whose sovereign territories passed cognatically from the Nassau dynasty to a cadet branch of the House of Bourbon-Parma itself a branch of the Spanish Royal House which is agnatically a cadet branch of the House of Capet that originated in France. On 28 July 1987, by grand ducal decree, members of the dynasty assumed the surname “de Nassau” and discontinued use of the princely title and in escutcheon of the House of Bourbon-Parma(the Dukes of which had not consented to the marriages to commoners of the dynasty of their Luxembourg  cadet branch, Prince Charles in 1967 and  hereditary Grand Duke Henri in 1981,  while retaining the style  of Royal Highness. Since the grand ducal decree of 21 September 1995, dynasts who are the children of a Grand Duke or Hereditary Grand Duke hold the titles Prince/Princess of Luxembourg and Prince/Princess of Nassau with the style of Royal Highness.

Shortly after his accession to the throne in October 2000, Grand Duke Henri issued a grand ducal decree conferring upon his eldest son and heir, Prince Guillaume, the title of “Hereditary Grand Duke” and restoring to him the title “Prince of Bourbon-Parma”.  Male line descendants of Grand Duchess Charlotte who are not the children of a Grand Duke or Hereditary Grand Duke are Prince/Princess of Nassau with the style of His/Her Royal Highness. The Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg is the current Grand Duke of Luxembourg. He was born on April 16, 1955. He was married on February 14, 1981 to Maria Teresa Mestre (born in Havana , Cuba) and became Grand Duke when his father, Jean, abdicated on October 7, 2000. Their children are: Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Guillaume born in 1981 ,also Prince of Nassau, and Prince of Bourbon-Parma, married Countess Stephanie de Lannoy in 2012.  Prince Félix of Luxembourg Prince of Nassau born in 1984, and married in 2013 to Claire Margareta Lademacher of which they have a daughter (Amalia b 2014) and son Liam b 2016). Prince Louis de Luxembourg born in 1986 married 2006 to Tessy Antony, he renounced before marriage to succession and later divorced in 2017. Their sons was out of wedlock Prince Gabriel born in 2006 and Prince Noah in 2007 . Princess Alexandra of Luxembourg born in 1991 and Prince Sebastian of Luxembourg born in 1992.

Grand Duchy family in French : http://www.monarchie.lu/fr/famille/index.html

Enjoy the Cinderella country dukedom ,duchy of Luxembourg. I have cruise on it north to south ,west to east by car; lovely. Have a great week you all, happy travels, good health and many cheers!!!

ps I have updated the post with new photos (on top) found in my vault cdrom safe lol!! Enjoy it!

Tags: , ,
April 17, 2018

The Grand Place at Brussels!

I do not know but I love big squares with architecture or historical value. Luckily, Europe is full of them , and in my favorite places, there are just gorgeous. I am in the mood to tell you more about one of my all times favorites. The Grand Place of Brussels, Belgium.

I came to it way back in 1993 for the first time even with my parents in tow, and was magical. My oldest boy was just a year old and already visited France, we took him to Brussels this time. It is easy logistics for us, because the wife oldest brother lives in the north of France near the Belgian border, so we used it as lodging base.

Brussels

Early on 1993 in Grand Place my parents

Brussels

early on Grand Place 1993,P and M

After this early visit, and falling in love with the square, we came back repeatedly over the years, and even to spent Christmas in Brussels! Needless to tell you its one of our favorite countries in Europe.

Ok so enough of nostalgia, let’s talk about the Grand Place.

The Grand Place or Central square is bordered by corporation houses, the city hall and the house of the king.  The facades of the 19C are not always the exact of their construction after 1695. Several times the renovators have information that is not the original such as the mentioned of the king of Spain or without cohesions for the 19C styles. One example is the house of the Star left of the City Hall, the building was demolished to allowed for the enlargement of the street ; later it was rebuilt at the street level with a columns and a pedestrian gallery. The house of the king is a mixing styles of the 19C, the former building had a tragic history and was in bad shape; by the 17C the Archduchess Isabelle had decorated with a dedication to Notre Dame of Peace ,that was not pleasant to the renovators of the 19C; therefore, they replace the building with a new one, taking away all the religious figures and replaced them with political figures.

The history as I like in brief details is as follows:

In the 10C, the dukes of lower Lorraine had built a castle on the Senne island ,the birthplace of Brussels. By the end of the 11C, near the castle they installed an open air market in a dry swamp area with banks of sand which they called inferior market or Nedermerkt in Flemish.  This business district belonging to the church of Saint Nicolas, patron saint of the merchants was in a very important commerce route between Flanders and the Rhineland regions. Early in the 13C they built three markets in the square, one for meats or Great Butchers  ,one for breads and one for linen; these markets belonged to the Duke of Brabant allowing to exposed the goods and controlling the sales to make sure the taxes were paid.

The construction of the City hall in several phases from 1401 to 1455 in the square seat of municipal power responding to the central power symbolize by the Coudenberg palace. Facing the City Hall the power is omnipresent with the bread market taking the name of the House of the King because it was here that you paid your taxes since 1406. Around the square there was built rich houses of merchants and influential corporations mostly in wood but some on stone along the 17C. After the bombing and fires of 1695, the square is rebuilt almost entirely and even prettier.  At the end of the 18C the without britches or sans culotte destroyed almost all the symbols and statues of the old regime and the buildings were transformed as well as renovations in bad taste in addition to the pollution. Under the Burgomaster Charles Buls is progressively restored and rebuilt along the same representation of the reconstruction. . In the center of the square in 1856 there was a monumental fountain commemorating the 50th anniversary of king Leopold I, it was replaced in 1860 by a fountain of the counts of Egmont and Hornes in front of the House of the King. This fountain with statues on top of the counts of Egmont and Hornes  headless at the spot were moved to the area of the petit Sablon, and 30 years later in the Belle Epoque period a music kiosk was built. The market square has preserve its functions as a morning market until November 19 1959. It is still called the Grote Markt in Dutch or Gruute Met in Flemish today.

As said, the City hall was built between 1402 and 1455 and the only witness to the middle ages architectural style in the square today. The house of the king, in the 12C was in wood and bread was sold here; it was replaced in the 15C by a stone building to house the administrative services of the Duke of Brabant or sometimes called the House of the Duke. When the same duke becomes the king of Spain, it change to the house of the king; Charles V ordered built in the gothic style something like the one we can see today. The city had it rebuilt in 1873 in the neo gothic style after the bombings of 1695. The building houses today the Museum of the city of Brussels since 1887.

Each year on the weekend of August 15 the Grand Place is covered with a huge tapestry of flowers about 25×75 meters with over 500K begonias, something to see a must here.

Brussels

Grand Place

Brussels

Grand Place

Brussels

beer museum Grand Place

Brussels

beer museum Grand Place

Brussels

Grand Place

Brussels

City Hall Grand Place

Brussels

Grand Place

Brussels

City Hall Grand Place

A bit more detail on what you will see around the big square or Grand Place.

Between the rue de la Tête d’or , and rue au Beurre on the west side you have the house of the bakers corporation or the House of the King built in 1696. The house has been much change and totally rebuilt in 1901-1902; It has busts of St Aubert, patron Saint of the bakers and king Charles II of Spain.  By No 2-3 you have La Brouette, or the house of the graissiers corporation dated from the 15C , it was rebuilt in 1697 and is decorated with a statue of Saint Gilles, the Patron Saint of the Graissiers who also was restored in 1912. At No 4 you have the Le Sac or House of the cabinetmakers  corporation of which tools decorated the front since the 15C, built in stones in 1644 and rebuilt in 1697. The sculptures are Pierre van Dievoet and Laurent Merkaert.  The inferior part of the Sac has the symbol sculpture in 1644 and left intact as part of the third floor that the restoration began in 1697; and it is here that starts the sculptures of van Dievoet and Merkaert ; very decorative gable with torches and angles vases on top a globe on which there is a compass and on the windows heavy guirlandes of flowers and fruits, a shell, and heads of angels. This house was restored in 1912. Today it houses the house of Belgian master chocolatiers or the La Maison des Maitres Chocolatiers Belges. At No 5 la Louve, or house of the undertaking archers is built in 1690 and on 1696 the façade is rebuilt putting a phoenix born in ashes and coming out of flames symbol of the city reconstruction following the bombing of the city in 1695. The fronton is decorated with an Apollo following the original designs from 1890-1892, the lower reliefs are of Romulus and Remus fed by the she-wolf. At No 6 you have the Le Cornet, or house of the shipbuilders corporation since the 15C rebuilt in 1697. Design as  front of a boat, with sculptures even in the façade; house restored in 1899 to 1902. At No 7 you have Le Renard, or house of the craftmans corporation from the 15C rebuilt in 1699 with allegories from the four continents  and on top a statue of Saint Nicolas, patron Saint of the craftsman’s.

Between the rue Charles Buls ,and the rue des Chapeliers or south side you have at No 8 L’Etoile or House of the Amman rebuilt in 1695, demolished in 1852 and rebuilt in 1897 as an annex to the next house, and the street is rename rue Charles Buls, and a plaque on his honor is place there next to the monument of Everard t’Serclaes. At No 9, le Cygne,(swan) or bourgeois house rebuilt in 1698 with a façade not taken into account the three floors; it was purchased in 1720 by the butcher’s corporation and modified, restored between 1896 and 1904; here the Foundation of the Belgians workers party took place in 1885 and Karl Marx writes his Communist manifesto. At No 10, l’Arbre d’or or the golden tree you have the house of the brewers corporation ;that today is a museum; Dates from 1696 and restored in 1901. Decorated with sculptures and on top an equestrian statue of Charles Alexander of Lorraine put here in 1752 to replace that of Maximilian Emmanuel de Bavaria , governor while the reconstruction of Brussels took place. At No 11 la Rose or private house rebuilt in 1702, and restored in 1901. At no 12 le Mont Thabor, private house rebuilt in 16900 and restored in 1885.

Between the rue des Chapeliers,and the rue de la Colline on the East side, you have at No 12a former 2-4 rue des Chapeliers) the Alsemberg , a private house built in 1699 in blue stone with the mark of the stone cutter. At no 18-19 the house of the Dukes of Brabant, seven houses behind the same façade, modified in 1770 and call as such because of the busts of the Duke of Brabant the decorates it. Restored between 1881 and 1890. At no 13 the La Renommée, No 14 L’Ermitage, no 15 La Fortune, No 16, Le Moulin à vent or the house of the milling makers corporation; No 17 Le Pot d’étain or plomb house ,and it is the house of the carpenters and wheelers makers corporation. At no 18, La Colline or hill ,the house of the four crown corporation (for sculptors, stone cutters, roofmakers, and masonry); No 19 la Bourse or stock exchange.

Between the rue de la Colline and rue des Harengs on the north east side you have at No 20 le Cerf, private house rebuilt in 1710 and restored in 1897; at no 21-22 Joseph and Anne, two private houses in one façade, rebuilt in 1897 from an aquarelle of 1729  of Ferdinand Joseph de Rons. At no 23 L’Ange, private house rebuilt in 1697 and renovated façade from 1897 from older drawings. At no 24-25 La Chaloupe d’or, or house of the stone makers corporation, design in 1697 and with a monumental façade on the northeast side was refused by the neighbors; it has on top the statue of Saint Hommebon de Crémone, Patron Saint of the stonemasons; the bust of Saint Barbara below the entrance door from 1872. At no 2–27 Le Pigeon since the 15C the property of the painters corporation that sold it in 1697 to the stonemason Pierre Simon, the author of the façade; it house Victor Hugo and was restored in 1908. At no 28  Le Marchand d’or a private house rebuilt in 1709 and restored in 1882.

Between the rue Chair et Pain and the rue au Beurre on the northwest side you have at no 34 Le Heaume, private house ,restored in 1920. At no 35, Le Paon, style of houses of the 18C restored in 1882.  At no 36-37 Le Petit Renard or Le Samaritain et Le Chêne , two houses dating from 1696 and restored in 1884-1886. At No 38 Sainte Barbe (Santa Barbara) private house built in 1696. At No 39, L’Âne private house restored in 1916.

You have plenty of ammunition to come visit this place; gorgeous all around if busy very popular and the side streets are humming with restos ;bars; cafes and shops galore. To help you plan your trip and read more of it, here are some webpages.

webcams of the Grand Place : http://www.ilotsacre.be/images/virtualvisit/grand_place-grote_markt.htm

360 degrees view of the Grand place in English: http://cuicui.be/belgium-brussels-grand-place/

City of Brussels on the Grand Place: https://www.brussels.be/grand-place-brussels?_ga=2.77125333.1193796075.1523960972-1438831985.1523960972

Unesco on the Grand Place: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/857/

Brussels heritage site on the Grand Place in French: http://patrimoine.brussels/decouvrir/patrimoine-international-a-bruxelles/la-grand-place-de-bruxelles

Tourist office of Brussels on the Grand Place: https://visit.brussels/en/place/Grand-Place

Enjoy the ride or walks the best way to see a city. Have a great week you all, happy travels, good health, and many cheers!

 

Tags: , ,
April 17, 2018

The Royal Palace of Madrid, Palacio Real de Madrid!

Let me take you back to my Spain, always memories and wonderful times of old and new. When I lived in the city going to the Royal Palace was a treat, coming from Quintana working class neighborhood. We had no money to go in back then in the old regime.  It took me to leave Madrid and Spain , spent some years in America; and finally come back to it in 1990 to see it inside. It was a treat I will always cherished for me and for the fact that I was there with my girlfriend , today wife of 27 years!!! and 3 wonderful young men.!!!

Oh yes this is the Palacio Real or Palacio de Oriente as some locals might call it.  I have written bits of it in other posts on Madrid (too many to mention, just search in my blog) ,but decided to do one for it alone. After all, it is all worth it me think. Therefore ,here is my story on it.

It is the official resident of the king of Spain even if only uses it for protocole functions and the rest is open to the public as a museum. Located in the Plaza de Oriente, right along Calle Bailén with metro Opera station lines 2 and 5 , as well as Bus lines 3, 25, 39 and 148.  The walk from Puerta del Sol takes approximately 15 minutes. The current king Felipe VI and queen Letizia and children live in the Palacio de Zarzuela. The Zarzuela palace was built in the 17C by king Felipe IV about a dozen km from city center Madrid to served as a residence for hunting and pleasure. You can find out more of the Palacio de la Zarzuela at El Pardo webpage in Spanish here: http://www.elpardo.net/palacio-de-la-zarzuela/

The current Royal Palace was built between 1738 and 1755 on orders of king Felipe V and lived by the king Charles III in 1764. The Royal Palace was built on the site of the former Royal Alcazar fortress destroyed by fire in 1734, and the king wanted to rebuilt it at the same spot to mark the continuity of the Spanish monarchy.

Madrid

left side of court parvis back of Royal Palace

Madrid

on Calle de Bailén Royal Palace

Madrid

gates back court parvis from Cathedral Almudena

In 1735, he call upon Filippo Juvarra, considered at the time the best architect in Europe to Madrid. Juvarra suggest a huge castle  with four courts to allow housing the Royal family, aristocracy, ministers, and necessary services of the palace sort of like the work done in the Chateau de Versailles. However, Juvarra died in 1736 before the palace work was to begin so the king call upon a disciple of Juvarra, that was working since 1736 in the La Granja Royal Palace near Segovia, another Italian name  Giovanni Battista Sacchetti with instructions to minimize the cost of construction. Sacchetti suggest a palace with one court that is approved in 1737 and he is name architect of the palace in 1738. He worked there with the help of Ventura Rodriguez( amongst his work is the Royal palace of Aranjuez) , and Francesco Sabatini (that designed the wing that gives out to the street Calle de Bailén ,stables, and imperial stair) , and the garden by his name as well as Fray Martin Sarmiento with the Marquis de Balbueno as treasury administrator of the construction.

Madrid

Entrance to Jardines de Sabatini

The building was to be square around a huge court and done with granite, white stone of Colmenar and marble for the details. The building is higher on the façade on the street with three floors, it has an interior floor and two with windows link by a colossal ionic stone; a large cornice with a baluster on top the superior area. The façade to the garden has a lowering position with lots of windows. The Royal palace is one of the biggest in all of western Europe after that of the Louvre, taking about 135K square meters and having 2800 rooms with 50 open to the public!! On its three floors and three mezzanines under the ceiling of each floor. The facades measure about 130 meters on the side for 33 meters high; and has 870 windows and 240 balconies that open ups over the facades or to the patio. It ,also, has 44 stairs and more than 30 main salons or big rooms.

Worth mentioning me think, the statues of the Visigoths kings that decorate the Plaza de Oriente were to be put up in the Palace above roof but been too heavy with the risk of falling, they were put in the square now. The main elements you should look for when visiting are the Throne room or Salon del Trono, also called Salon del Besamanos or kissed hands room as it is here where the reverence to the king are done. The patio and gate of the prince or Puerta del Principe, the area living of king Charles III (Carlos III); the hall of mirrors or Salon de los Espejos; The columns room or Salon de las Columnas; the room of Halbardiers or alabarderos; the Porcelains room or Saleta de Porcelana; Royal Chapel or  Capilla Real; and the Royal armory or Real Armeria.

The Royal Palace is richly decorated with portraits done by painters such as Goya, Velazquez, El Greco, Pierre Paul Rubens, Tiepolo, Mengs, and le Caravage. Several Royal collections of great historical significance are also in the Royal Palace including the Royal Armory with weapons and armor dating from the 13C, and the world’s biggest collection of Stradivarius, as well as collections on tapestries, porcelain, furniture, and other works of arts of great importance. Starting in 1636, the Flemish painter Frans Snijders painted several potraits of hunting scenes for king Felipe IV to be put in the hunting pavilion of the tower of Parada and the Royal Palace.

The change of the Royal guard in the Royal Palace is done every Wednesday from October to July and at 11h; need to check before going as this can be change without notice due for official acts or weather conditions.

You have two gardens around the Royal Palace, these are the  Campo del Moro (moors) on the west and Manzanares river, and the Jardines of Sabatini on the north of the Royal Palace next to it. The Royal Palace is bordered on the east by the Plaza de Oriente separated by the Calle de Bailén; on the south or Armories you have the wings of the Palace; on the south of this square you have the Cathedral of the Almudena,one of Madrid’s patron Saint.

To help you plan your visit here is the official site of the Royal Palace by the National Heritage Monument organization. http://www.patrimonionacional.es/real-sitio/palacio-real-de-madrid

And from Madrid tourist office;  https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/royal-palace

And for a closer look at the Spanish Royal Family here is the official link: http://www.casareal.es/ES/Paginas/home.aspx

The current king of Spain, Felipe VI:  name as his Majesty the King, Don Felipe de Borbón y Grecia,(Bourbon and Greece) is the third child of the former kings Don Juan Carlos and Doña Sofía. Born in Madrid January 30 1968 in the clinic of our Lady of Loreto. He was baptized with the names of Felipe, Juan, Pablo ,and Alfonso of All Saints in memory of respectively, the first Bourbon that reigned over Spain (grandson of Louis XIV of France and born in Versailles, Felipe V); of his paternal grandfather chief of the Royal House of Spain, of his maternal grandfather king of Greece,and of his great grandfather Don Alfonso XIII, king of Spain. His godparents were his grandfather Royal Highness Don Juan de Borbón, Count of Barcelona, and his great grandmother king  Victoria Eugenia. Curiosities of life, the current pretender to the throne of France as legimirate king Louis XX is named Alfonso also a Bourbon and born in Madrid. The current king’s Father Juan Carlos is a cousin of queen Elizabeth II of UK, and great (or is it another great ) Grandson of queen Victoria of UK, nephew of Emperor Frederick II of Germany and 5th in line to the throne of France ! blue blood….

Hope you enjoy the bits of history here, and a fine tradition I like. Have a great week with plenty of happy travels, good health ,and many cheers!!!

Tags: , ,
%d bloggers like this: