Archive for May, 2018

May 30, 2018

Belmonte, a castle and a story !

I am coming back at you with Castilla La Mancha, just a lovely not often visit region of my beloved Spain.  This as said, was my insistance to come with the family a few years back. I finally convince the Mrs, and we came; well the rest is history. All my family love it and now I get to have some nice memories of my dear late wife Martine.

The castle of Belmonte is link to the history of Spain and France and I was very much wanted to show it to my wife. The first time we tried with all the kids wanting to go to Madrid (for shopping!) we arrive late at lunch time and needed to wait too long we continue our journey and me very upset. I told them next time we come in this is a priority, and so we did come in August 2017. This time we saw the castle and around areas again. Oh yes it is in the Province of Cuenca as well!

Belmonte ,the city, is located at km 342 of the road N 420 that takes you from Cuenca to Alcazar de San Juan, and the same road can even take you south to Córdoba ,and over east to Tarragona. You need to come by car from Madrid on the A3 direction Valencia , at Tarancon, take the road direction Salices to junction with La Almarcha to take the N420 direction Belmonte .

A bit of history I like

In the papal bull of Innocent III the bishop of Cuenca call it  Bellomonte (beautiful forest), due to the forest that surrounded the town. In 1294 , it appeared in the accounts book of king Sancho IV between the towns on which he collected money to pay his knights that were to accompany  Don Juan Manuel, the future Prince of Villena,to the lands of  Murcia. In 1323  the town gained some notoriety on the Chronicon domini Joannis Enmanuelis,saying that in this year 1323 Don Juan Manuel (also nephew of king  Alfonso X started to built a wall ramparts called Belmont and on the same time built the fortress old  Alcázar. The first member of the family of Pacheco  that was lord of the town was  Juan Fernández Pacheco, that was given by the king  Enrique III the privilidge signed at Tordesillas in 1398, given him the reason for being a person of great importance for the war.  The lordship was inherited by his daughter  María, that married Alfonso Téllez Girón y Vázquez de Acuña. From this marriage came two sons  Juan Pacheco  and Pedro Girón (born at Belmonte). The lordship eventually was inherited by Pedro Girón. The youngest was  Juan Pacheco, first Marquis of  Villena, that ordered built the castle of  Belmonte in 1456  as well as the collegiale Church of San Bartolomé on the same date as the castle.  King Pedro I  of Castile been at Sevilla in 1361  gave the city of Belmonte the royalty and priviledge of a city.  Later, king Enrique II of Castile,  to gained the trust of the courts of Burgos in 1367 gives the privilidge of city and exempt the town of the jurisdiction of  Alarcón  with the same rights as those of nearby castle or Castillo de Garcimuñoz.

Things to see in Belmonte

Of course, a must is the Castle of  Belmonte. Built in the gothic mudéjar style of the 15C where the construction was started in 1456  by ordered of don Juan Pacheco. The exterior was similar to the castles of  Manzanares el Real in Madrid , and Mombeltrán in  Ávila as done by same architect Juan Guas. There is really no certainty of when was finished many dates but the most often said is that of  1474 due to the imminent civil war of 1475-1480.  The castle house the Marquis lord Diego López Pacheco.

Belmonte Belmonte Belmonte Belmonte

By marriage, the castle passes to the family of the House of Montijo and in the 19C is passed on to the Countess of  Teba.  However, was the heiress to the House of Villena,  Eugenia de Guzmán, better known as Imperatrice of the French under Eugénie de Montijo married to Emperor Napoleón III of France. She ordered the castle restored on the exterior and interior such as during her time done with the Patio de Armas, the principal stairs and the chalk chimneys  as well as some of the roof. These works lasted from 1857 to 1870 ,and were ended due to the defeat of the French Second Empire. From 1881 to 1885 the castle is occupied by French dominican brothers that used it as a monastery; after their departure the nephew-grandson of the Imperatrice Eugénie ,the Duke of  Peñaranda, Hernando Fitz-James Stuart y Falcó, continue with the restorations and even came to live in it.  Currently it is the property of the Ducal House of Peñaranda descendants of the Duchess of Alba, María Francisca de Sales Portocarrero, sister of Eugenia de Guzmán, aka Eugenia de Montijo.

 

After a visit to the Castle there is a presentation showing life in it from medieval times to the war of succession of Castile in the second half of the 15C between Princess Juana “La Beltraneja” protected by the Marquis of Villena and her aunt Isabel known later as the Catholic Queen or Isabel I and the role the owner of the castle in this war.  The result was the unification of Castile and Aragon  as Spain in 1492  after the fall of the kingdom of Granada where the owner of the castle Diego López Pacheco  participated and was name by the Catholic kings ,captain general of the frontier in the war.

Then, you can go and see these.  Colegiata gótica de San Bartolomé or collegiale Church gothic from the 15C  built on a previous visigoth Church. You see the wonderful choir leather furniture from the 15C engraved with biblical stories that were taken from the Cathedral of Cuenca in the 18C; the first choir chairs engraved with images of the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. It has an organ from the 18C that still in use for concerts and events of religious music . Some of the retables or altars are from the 16C and 17C very nice.

Antiguo alcázar or Palacio del Infante D. Juan Manuel, (old fortress or palace of the heir to throne) for many years in ruins , the last fall out was in Christmas 2005. Now totally restored and part of the lodgings of the Ruta de Don Quijote (route of Don Quixote), opened in 2014.

Hospital de San Andrés (St Andrews hospital) founded in 1415 in ruins since 1970. It was a lodging for passerbys and pilgrimages, now the altars retables of it are kept in the Collegiale Church of San Bartolomé. Plaza del Pilar or square Pilar there is only some supporting pillars save from those that surrounded the biggest square in Belmonte. There si a fountain restored in the 1990’s and two pillars sweet and sour and from the center you see the College of Trinitarians now a health center. Plaza de correos y telégrafos or postal and telegraph square, there is the former college of the Company of Jesus and later was municipal prison.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here, all worth it I said.

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Belmonte in English: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/castillo-de-belmonte-20864/descripcion/

City hall of Belmonte on tourism in Spanish: http://www.belmonte.es/turismo/

Castle of Belmonte official in English: http://castillodebelmonte.com/en/

There you go, another jewel in down soulful Castilla La Mancha, hey you read Don Quijote by Miguel Cervantes y Saavedra, then you need to come by these lands. Have wheels and go into another world.

And remember, happy travels, good health and many cheers!!!

May 27, 2018

My travels in the Morbihan, LXIIII

Ok so this is the end of Sunday still with light outside, a bit cloudier but was sunny this afternoon ; now at  20C or about 68F. Today, usually is a rest day here staying with the family. However, we are still mourning the lost of my wife and we have been staying locally on weekends.

Today, we decided to try again to take our dog Rex on a long car ride. The first attempt failed as he vomit and was very nervous to get in the car. He was 5 months old.

Today he is already 6 months old and we did not give him food before and we took off for Vannes. The Conleau peninsula is very nice with a sea pool and walking trails, picnic tables, and just fun for the whole family.  This time he made it alright and we are thrill about it.

Our Rex is a Borador, mix Border Collier and Labrador.  We got it from a local farm here and it has been a pleasure so far. Only sad part, my wife only saw him for 19 days once brought home as she went into the hospital for her cancer treatment that was not good enough. I have posted on that before in my blog.

He was still reluctant to get in the car and needed a bit of help by yours truly to get him in. We covered my car with a dog mat on the seats just in case and came prepare with everything. The ride was perfect.

We arrived late by about 14h30 and thought parking will be impossible with the nice weather we had but lucky once a tour in the parking we found a spot ,free parking.

We then, set out to do the walking along the marshes of the bay from sea water that comes first from the Gulf of Morbihan and beyond the Atlantic ocean. This is a natural setting very nice. The water makes for a protected harbor for pleasure boating and a sea water pool with sandy beach for the families, as well as playground for the kiddies. What is the Gulf of Morbihan well is all of us along the coast, plenty of things to do , here is more in English Gulf of Morbihan

We just took off with Rex on a walk and just stair at every dog he saw passing by except a couple of dames he was ready to go chasing lol!!!  He was on a leash by me ok ::)

Conleau is very tranquil nice quiet and pretty. It really started in the 20C with a couple of hamlets farm lands called the Petit Conleau ,and the  Grand Conleau. One of the farms today houses the Maison de la Nature or the nature house ; more on it in French here: Maison de la Nature

There are areas that we love here in addition to the above. In the Parc du Golfe you have entertainment, hotels, congress convention palace call the Chorus and the Vannes Aquarium as well as butterflies garden. More on these that I have written plenty before in my blog.

There around the bay between the cruises passenger terminal entering the city of Vannes and the Peninsula of Conleau you have a wonderful park with a history of Brittany. This is the Pointe des Emigrées ,and this is what we did walk starting from Conleau (you can do the other way around too). You have info in French here from the dept 56 Morbihan tourist office: Pointe des Emigrées

In the 18C this place was calle the Pointe Kérero and was called the Pointe des Emigrées in memory of the executions by the French revolution of Bretons landing at Quiberon from England to fight it.  In 1795, 748 persons that were taken prisioners due to the failure of the landing in Quiberon were put upon the firing squad of execution: the leaders were executed in Vannes on the site call Garenne on a high overlooking the ramparts of today. 374 others were executed in the surroundings of Vannes and even some on the site of the Ermitage. To remember this barbaric act this site was symbolically name the Pointe des Emigrées or the Immigrants point. 

The site has been protected by the Coastal Conservatory since 1986. It is composed of several landscapes: Marshes , Moor, Pinewood, Salty meadows, mudflat, Prairies. There are many species of birds: Ash Heron, Snipe, etc. The plants characteristic of the site are the perforated St. John’s Wort, the Musky purple, the buttercup, the wild orchids, the reed, the Saule, etc.  The meadows are grazed by donkeys and sheep.

We love it for a nice peaceful walk while enjoying the different panels of history and the view of the bay,and nice food at the créperie de la guinguette or the cafe le Root at the Best Western hotel or Piano Barge, le café de Conleau also.

We did had to get Rex into the car again but the ride back home was nice as well. We will do this again as we are trying to get confortable with the car rides. Just a simple Sunday outing in the real living in France; sound familiar to your neck of the woods?

And for tonite, my oldest son did a wonderful NY cheesecake with real Philadelphia cream cheese that was very good. In memory of his loving Mom who used to do it for us and taught him well indeed. Good for the memories.

Enjoy your Sunday,now I go back to work and no holidays until the Bastille or National Day of July 14. Stay tune for my travels in …….

Enjoy your Sunday everyone, and remember, happy travels, good health and many cheers to all.

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May 26, 2018

Some news from Spain LXII

And I am back to my beloved Spain. The weather has been nice even if today is a bit cloudy in my neck of the woods; at my gorgeous Madrid is the same cloudy at 13C or about 55F now before noon. There is lots on Spain to catch up from my last post.

This is always a great event we love, the book fair in Madrid or the La Feria del Libro de Madrid starts today and runs until Sunday June 10; this is the 77th edition and will have 363 stands and almost 5000 houses of printing as well as Romania as the country of honor.  It is at the magnificent Retiro park or Parque del Retiro,exactly by the road of Paseo del Duque de Fernán Núñez, locally known as the carriages promenade. You need to check the hours as many writers will be there to sign autographs and explain their books to you. Normally the stands are open Mondays to Fridays from 11h to 14h and then 18h to 21h30; Saturdays and Sundays and holidays will be open from 11h to 15h and then 17h to 21h30. more info here in Spanish of course: La Feria del Libro de Madrid

Something as an example. The Victoria & Albert museum of London will lent to the Generalitat region of Valencia the retable of St George  also known here as the lead centenial or Centenar de la Ploma, 15C. This is been thought over by the London museum as there is many proofs of works of art taken from museums such as the offer of Ethiopia to lent several pieces of jewerly taken by the British in the battle of Madgada of 1868. The list is long unfortunately of claims against  British museums such as the marble of the Pantheon of Athens taken by Lord Elgin and sold to the British museum, and treasures taken from Benin kept at the same museum. The real property owners of these works of arts sometimes are shown in museum coming from dubious sources , the practice needs to stop, just keep what is rightfully yours. There are 17 portraits conforming this retable shown in room 48B where you can see St George fighting the dragon and king James I against a muslim in the battle of Puig of 1237 ,that was decisive in the taken of Valencia the following year. The order that kept this retable was abolished in 1711, and ruin lost the work without trace until it shows up in Paris in 1864, some of the portraits have been destroyed by wars, from here it went to London again without explanation ,and still is there.

Let me tell you about a wonderful city of Spain, this is Salamanca. It is the province with the most bravo bulls of Lidia in Spain, and the most famous farms such as Garcigrande to  Puerto de San Lorenzo, Montalvo, Valdefresno , and  El Pilar. About 14 farms belongs to the Route of the Brave Bull or Ruta del Toro Bravo; many are open to the public and shown a tour from birth to fighting in an arena. They are tested in a corral to see their strenght and resistance even if on the field we still do not know how the bull is going to react in front of the bullfighter/torero. In the plaza is where they are tested to see the real virtuals of the bull, the best showing will be May 31 2018 in the Corrida de las 6 Naciones or 6 nations bullfights at the memorable Las Ventas monumental of Madrid.

The area above is wonderful to ride in a car and you can see beautiful places like the San Martín del Castañar, one of the best towns in the area as it belongs to the wine route or Ruta del Vino Sierra de Francia. Another is  Villanueva del Conde, where you have the Bodega Cámbrico offering tastings and visit to centenary grape growing areas at 600-1000 meters of altitude; all in the D.O.P. Sierra de Salamanca, the denominacion de origines protegido smallest in Spain! that already had score 91 points in the famous Spanish wine guide Guia Penin. You continue onto  Sequeros, and see the nice lookout or mirador de La Cruz to see the wonderful ranges of the Sierra de Béjar. Do not miss the small Church of El Robledo,with relics from  Simón Vela, discover of the image of the Virgen de la Peña de Francia,and the Saintly Lady that guide him to the find.  Then, you are in Mogarraz a sierra mountain jewel to taste some of the local dishes like the Serrano lemon; even if best known for the portraits of local people hanging from their houses painted by Florencio Maíllo,a local artist.  Now you got the picture the mountain valley range of  the  Sierra de Francia  is a world to discover. Some of the bull places that we like are the  Puerto de San Lorenzo   Puerto San Lorenzo bulls, and  El Pilar   El Pilar bulls.   The wines  Ruta del Vino Sierra de Francia

Sierra de Francia tourist page in Spanish: Sierra de France tourism  and the Salamanca tourist office in Spanish: Tourism of Salamanca

If you happened to past by the province of Teruel in the region of Aragon, you will see many wonders of the off the beaten path of my Spain, and by all means stop in Teruel and nearby cities such as the beautiful Albarracin (where I past each of the last two years to my vacations in Spain). This is by many ,the most beautiful town in the province and one of the most spectacular of Spain; as well as a starting point for the mountains.  You have more information  in Spanish: Sierra de Albarracin

Another wonderful town is Calanda famous for its drums festival during Holy Week and where the famous film director Luis Bunuel was born. Now there is a museum in a nice mansion Casa Fortón-Cascajares, a very nice home indeed. More on him and the museum here in Spanish: Luis Bunuel at Calanda

Mirambel is a fortified town that is worth a detour to visit the architectural heritage interpretation of the area or Centro de Interpretación del Patrimonio Arquitectónico del Maestrazgo with many things to do it with it. More info in Spanish here Maestrazgo

Do visit the mines of the Cuencas Mineras de Teruel nothing comes close comparable to this old lignite mine that you can descend to 200 meters deep. More information  in Spanish: Cuencas Mineras

The pretty town of Rubielos de Mora, at about 50 km from Teruel to have it enjoyed by the lovers of the abstract art from the second half of the 20C is an obligatory stop; there is a museum in the former Hospital of Gracia dedicated to the work of Salvador Victoria. More information  in Spanish: Rubielos de Mora museum

And if you are lof ike me into castles then in the Province of Teruel you have plenty but one in particular is very nice and off the beaten path in the municipality of Jiloca in the town of Peracense, right on a rock is the castle of Peracense. More in Spanish here: Castle of Peracense

You have two ways or roads in the province of Teruel that are part of the way of St James coming from the lower Aragon and starting at Sagunto. You, also, should know this is part of the road or way of El Cid or  Camino del Cid, that includes 21 towns all with the safeconduct of the way to the pilgrims that try this experience. More information on the Way of El Cid and especifically my route in English here  Camino del Cid Teruel

There is an interesting town of Matarrana to see vultures or the buitres of Valderrobres where you can even stay nearby to see the experience up close. These are rapasse birds indeed beautiful to see,at a distance… More here in English: Buitres de Valderrobres

And to end but not least visit San Antonio in Calaceite, the most iberian town best preserved in Spain where you can see the museum or Museo Juan Cabré  that takes you into the pre roman period in this part of Aragon. More here in Spanish: Museo Juan Cabré at Calaceite

Talking about the Malaga Painter. He visited the Prado museum for the first time when he was 13 yrs old and copy some of the works there such as the boy from Vallecas etc works by Velàzquez ,Goya,and El Greco. As shown by his 58 versions of the Las Meninas portrait. The fine arts circle or Circulo de Bellas Artes of Madrid is proposing a trip for these marvelous examples of the master where he found the inspiration for his work. He found the excuse of been in the Louvre to get lost for hours in its rooms like a hunting dog according to accounts of the times. Paris was the city that gave him the opportunity to encounter the Olympia of Manet with the great Odalisque of Ingrés together with others that cherished it like Courbet or Delacroix, of which portrait women of the angels also made into more than 10 versions. All this is shown in the Círculo de Bellas Artes with about 200 works including portraits done by his muse and second wife Jacqueline Roque, of which the painter drew on a pigeon in his home with chalk and giving her a rose every day  until finally she went out with him 6 months later.  Oh yes forgot, I am talking about Pablo Picasso;and here is more in Spanish: expo Picasso and the museum

Another great exposition in Madrid. You know about the Dadistes and later Surrealists inventing a new world, as they broke with the past. They created one of the most creative revolutions in history and today proof of that arrives to Madrid from Jerusalem and the Museum of Israel. See the exposition Duchamp, Magritte, Dalí. Revolucionarios del siglo XX.  Open in the Palacio de Gaviria  until mid July 2018 with works from the masters such as Duchamp, Magritte, Dalí, Ernst, Tanguy, Man Ray, Picabia, Calder, Schwitters, Höch, Blumenfeld, Janco, and others. Innovating genious that will have a retrospective of more than 200 works such as the precision and color of  Picabia in Music is Like Painting (1916), The Dream of Venus (1939), of Salvador Dalí and Horst P. Horst;  the philosophical experience of Goethe and the Metamorphosis of Plants (1940), by  André Masson, and the liences of Joan Miró from the serie of  Women and Birds (1940) are just some of the work on display. The gigantic rock crown by a castle in the middle of an ocean of which Magritte tried to ask for the mysterious and apparently impossible. The castle of the Pyrenees  (1959), is one of them.  Next is the Surrealist essay  (1934), by Dalí; Main Ray (1935),by Man Ray.  All brilliant discoveries of the these revolutionary arts from the 20C. It will be on display until July 15 2018. More here in English: Revolutionaries at the palacio de Gaviria

And the biggest event is tomorrow night the Champions league of Europe at Kiev. Shown live in my neck of the woods from 20h45. It is estimated about 17000 fans will be there from Madrid fans of all over (wish could be there!!!)to see the final between our beloved Real Madrid vs Liverpool. It will be held at the Olympic stadium in the city center of Kiev. The city has a good public transport network of metro and very inexpensive about 16 cents Euro. the closest stations to the stadium are Olimpiiska and Palats Sports, which lines connects with all the main sights in town to see from a tourist point of view. There will be a Fan Zone of Real Madrid located in the square or Palats Ukraine, next to the palace of national arts of Ukraine  just about 20 minutes on foot from the stadium.  There will be entertainment until the start of the match.  There is also, the Festival UEFA Champions, located on the main street of the city ,the  Khreshchatyk, next to the shopping center Tsum Kyiv, with entertainement , music bands, DJ’s , autographs by ex players and to take a photo with the Champions Cup for free. More official info in English here: Champions Real Madrid

Champions league final details

And as we are on the festive mood of football/soccer why not a good Spanish wine. The Bodegas Franco-Españolas, DOC Rioja  is an old winery of 127 years of history guarded by the third generation of the family Eguizábal. It has had a revival thanks to its line of reds Bordón starting in 2017  with sales of 5M bottles in the year and 65%  domestic and 35% exports with USA, Canada, UK, Germany, and Denmark the most buyers. Lately ,going into the white wine line with Diamante, white Rioja that had origins in the 19C and now a new name 100% Verdejo grape of the  DO Rueda. More in English here: Bodegas Franco Espanolas

Another dandy just had recently, is from Bodegas Roda, la Rioja bottle of RODA I Red tempranillo grape 90% and , Graciano (10%) with an alcohol level of 14.5% very well score of 17 sur 20  and general  price of 40€. It is of black fruit, fine leather, canelle on the nose, vigorous but silky, very tasty, still young in its tannins but not strong, it can be kept long to 2028. More info on the house and wine in Spanish here:  bodega Roda

There you go on my Spain, hope you enjoy the news of my Spain. Like, I said, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

May 25, 2018

Some news from France CXCI

Here I am on a weekend,and still sunny but rain is on the call, it had to be a weekend! We had summer like weather all week long and it feld nice. I am back to tell you the latest on my belle France.

What better way than to prepare for summer with some statistics. Europ Assistance ask the survey firm of Institut Ipsos to ask the French what are they going to be their summer vacation,and this is what they found. 69% of the French will plan on going away on vacation this year 4 points higher than last year and the highest number since 2012! This puts France on first place in Europe, in front of folks from Austria, Switzerland, UK. It will have budget of 1993€ per family a very economical amount putting the French behind the Swiss, Austrians, Germans, and Belgians that takes on average 2K€.  The French, also,tell us will stay within France (of course ) with 57% of them a bit lower than last year 63%, most will stay by the coast/beach 61% and will be going in the family car (of course who says we take the train). The places outside France we will be going are Spain,16% (of course saw you on the road!) ; Italy 8%; and Portugal 7%.

Continuing with the beach concept, we have invented the Pavillon Bleu for tell us the most safe and full amenities beaches. Since its creation in 1985, 56 countries have follow us. France has 506 sites but the most is Greece with 534,and Spain on top at 691 sites. They are many but will list those for my beloved Brittany beaches (town and beach name) and ports here.  The beaches in Brittany are Morbihan (dept 56)  Carnac ,  Saint Colomban, Grande Plage;  Guidel ,La Falaise, Le Loc’h, Pen er Malo ; Plouhinec, Kervegant, Le Magouero. At Finistere(dept 29)  Clohars, Carnoët,  Bellangenet, Grands Sables, Kerrou, Fouesnant-les Glénan  , Kerler, Maner Coat Clevarec, Kerambigorn, Cap Coz (middle), Glenan ,Saint Nicolas , Le Conquet,  Pors Liogan,  Moelan sur Mer,          Kerfany, Trenez,  Névez,  Dourveil, Raguenes (middle), Rospico, Saint Nicolas, Plougasnou Tregastel (middle) Plouhinec; Gwendrez, Mesperleuc  ;Pouldreuzic ,Penhors , Roscoff ,   Saint Luc (Roch-kroum), Saint Pol de Léon , Plage Sainte Anne large ; at Côtes-d’Armor(dept 22)  Trevou-Tréguignec ,Plage de Trestel ; at Ille-et-Vilaine (dept 35)    Iffendic , Lac de Trémelin, Saint Briac sur Mer; La Salinette, Port Hue Saint Lunaire      Longchamp Est, La Grande Plage, La Fosse aux Vaults,  and La Fourberie.  The pleasure boat marinas in Brittany are Côtes-d’Armor (dept 22)  Port de Plaisance de Binic,  Port de Plaisance de Paimpol, Port de St Quay Portrieux , at Finistére ‘dept 29) Port de Plaisance de Camaret ,Port de Plaisance de Douarnenez, Port de Plaisance de Morgat , Port du Moulin Blanc. At  Morbihan (dept 56)  Port de Gâvres, Port de Guidel , Port de Lorient centre, Port de plaisance du Kernével , and Port-Louis. More on the site here: Pavillon Bleu org

Something new at Paris. Just yesterday the team was finishing putting the final touches of Felicita, this is huge,  4 500 m2 open to the public with a huge terrace and 1000 seats for breakfast, brunch, apéros, dinners, and dance until late at night. The Caffeteria section will be open 24/24 all at the heart of Station F, this is it here in English: Felicita at Station F

And again an update on the Hôtel de la Marine that will be open in first trimester of 2020. ON the place de la Concorde ,built in 1758 by  Ange-Jacques Gabriel, on the site of the old depot furniture of king Louis XV, host the high military command of France from 1789 to 2015 . there is the courtyard of the intendant covered with a glass canopy where visitors will be welcome, and on the floor of the cour d’honneur will have about 7000 light points to form a carpet of lights. This is one of many updates I have given on my news posts, and stay tune for more. Keep track if you will here in English: Hotel de la Marine Paris

Ok another survey , this one by Le Parisien newspaper, to see where is the best place to live with Children in the region of Ïle de France! Well ,you have one picture showing the no 1 cities per departément and one picture showing the highest top 20 rated cities. NO surprise for me because my kids went to high school there was Versailles!!! Photos

 

A wonderful town used to go often for work and now a few years out but still nice. The old Cannes , the view on the jardins du port Canto, tour du Suquet ,and on the route de l’Esterel is always very nice (and now the Cannes Film Festival). On the extreme section of the pointe Croisette, you will see a small cross (the name comes from this Croisette)  the former Casino Palm Beach with memories of great film such as Jean Gabin, and Alain Delon, filming here Mélodie en sous-sol in 1962 by director Henri Verneuil. The new private beach of la Croisette had already spoken located between the hotels  Majestic and Carlton (my job in charge of accounting here!). At the old place of the Plage royale becomes the La Môme Plage. to put your feet in the water facing the sea and get some delicious fish from menus of 45-75€ from sushis, ceviche, langouste, lobster etc and a nice pastéque salad ;more here:  La Mome Cannes

You have TGV Paris-Cannes direct  trains here and flighs by Air France , Easy Jet,and HOP to Nice airport at about 27 km. There is a direct bus or taxi. The tourist office of Cannes here: Cannes tourist office

a great show in Paris call the times of Flôlons a ballet of semi human and semi insects creatures on the spaces of the Opera Theater . More here: Garnier les Flôlons

a bit away from Paris…

To celebrate the 20 years of been name to Unesco World Heritage site, the city of Carcassonne, has invited Swiss artist Felice Varini to redesign the ramparts! The concentric circles in aluminum yellow lighting for five months the city ramparts like a fluorecent lifejacket.   This is free until September 2018 more at the city page in French here Carcassonne Felici Varini

Something trivial for the lovers of the automobile.  The magazine Le Bonbon of Paris for cultural and events info in French just did a study on the time it takes to travel Paris bike vs car, the results are amazing.  I just took two examples one coming out of the Machine du Moulin Rouge to reach the Place de la  République, and the other from La Villette to the Jardin du Luxembourg. The  VT bike or the car the times were very similar even if the car needed to respect the code of the highway and cannot go on one way streets. For instance from la Vilette to the jardin du Luxembourg by bike 36 minutes, the  car 40 min, moulin rouge to place de la republique bike 16minutes by  car 17 minutes , these between the times of 15h and 16h ,there you go. Not bad at all,and I know for a fact because I drive in Paris usually reaching one central location and then walk. And if you are a night owl then the car is tops; enjoy Paris.

In Paris on the parvis de la cour de Rome from June 8 to October 12 2018, you will have Bella Ciao a street food market à l’Italienne ; a real Italian village next to the metro stop that will vibrate with the food of Italy starting at 18H30, Then every Wednesday to taste the specialties of fish, Thursdays to move to the sound of a DJ disco Italian and Saturdays  to go to concerts and spectacles; most activities after the 8 june will be from  8h to 21h30. More info in French here: Bella Ciao le bonbon Paris

The museum or Musée Jacquemart-André is presenting a retrospective dedicated to Mary Cassatt (1844 – 1926). She is considered during her life the greatest American artist and the only American painter to have exposed her work with the Impressionists in Paris. You will discover the artist by going thru over fifty major works, supporting documentation ,  oils, pastels and designs, engravings all showing the modernity and its history of this American in Paris starting July 23  2018. The museum is at  158 boulevard Haussmann , closest metro  Saint-Philippe du Roule on line 9. More here:  Mary Cassatt an American Impressionist in Paris

In 1908, Auguste Rodin, living in the Villa des Brillants iǹ Meudon for about 12 yrs had built a shop in the common area of the Château des Conti iǹ Issy-les-Moulineaux  to house of one of his molders and closest collaborator  Paul Cruet. He was working for Rodin and later by the Museum Musée Rodin from 1905 to 1940 as chief molder. Now you can see the exposition Auguste Rodin et son mouleur Paul Cruet in the museum or Musée de la Carte à Jouer. At the end of his life he had a collection that he bequested to the city of Issy-les-Moulineaux in 1966 and 1974. Now all is at the museum or Musée Français de la Carte à Jouer, card playing museum including photos , aquarelles, and seven sculptures including a bust of Camille Claudel and a head of one of the Bourgeois de Calais, Pierre de Wissant. All will be shown together with a selection of works of which he worked on ́. This is now until August  12 2018 . The museum is at  16 rue Auguste-Gervais 92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux with closest Métro Mairie d’Issy line 12.  The museum has 9000 work including 6500 card games, 980 engravings, designs, and over a thousand other objects ,in the only museum of its type in France. More info here: Museum of playing cards

Les Amants de Nohant , the domain that hosted such names as Balzac, Flaubert, Delacroix, and Liszt while visiting the area , as well as the place of love for  George Sand and Frédéric Chopin.  Passionate relations, conflicting sometimes, told by the daughter of George Sand and put into music by a great singer. It was at Nohant that George Sand had spent a great part of her life and where she welcome many of her friends and lovers; including Frédéric Chopin that were visiting in June 1838. Les Amants de Nohant  or the lovers of Nohant relives this tumultuous life by the story telling by the daughter of  George Sand.  The play all shown at the nice Théâtre Ranelagh, 5 rue des Vignes, 16éme closest metro La Muette line 9. More in French here: Les Amants de Nohant

Even in life  Louis Pasteur became a myth, not only because he won over the rage, a deadly disease ,to whom we owe the pasteurization that bears his name  but also to the advances in the domain of chemistry and microbiology.  The exposition Pasteur, l’expérimentateur,  at the Palais de la découverte, comes to the men and his scientific work,and try to explain the context of his work, his discoveries, and their applications beyond his legend. The Palais de la découverte  that from its opening in 1937 has a room dedicated to work of Pasteur, done under the direction of his grandson Louis Pasteur Vallery-Radot.  In the 80th anniversary of the museum palace Louis Pasteur is again of the honor in a wonderful chronological walk as well as thematic.  Palais de la découverte – musée  at avenue Franklin Delano Roosevelt,8éme until Sunday August 9 2018. More info in English here:  Palais de la Decouverte Pasteur

And last but not least from my beloved Versailles.

From 27 March to 30 October 2018, enjoy the Musical Fountains Shows and the Musical Gardens in the gardens and the groves open for the occasion. During summer, every Saturday night discover the Gardens of Versailles differently with the Fountains Night shows. On Saturdays and Sundays until October 28,  2018, on Tuesdays from 22 May to 26 June 2018 as well as on some additional dates ( Wednesday 15 August).  The entrance to the Gardens is included with the Passport (1 or 2 days) and free for children under 6. timetable of the musical fountains shows more here http://en.chateauversailles.fr/news/shows/fountains-shows-and-musical-gardens#the-musical-fountains-show

And more on the city of Versailles tourist office in English: http://en.versailles-tourisme.com/visit-and-explore-versailles-the-royal-town/going-out-in-versailles-the-festival-town/shows-at-the-palace-of-versailles

There you have it, my belle France is loaded for summer. Have a great weekend. And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

May 23, 2018

And I bring you Pau, the Béarn never look so good!

I am bringing you back to a wonderful city of the old region of Béarn in the south of France,and a superb city. This is cruising time this short week of four days at work.  The sun is still with us and should be for the rest of the week. I will do this post on my black and white series ,no pictures. Plenty on specific sight posts in my blog.

I am talking about Pau, a city of passing many times and layovers of a day, on my way to my beloved Spain, then it hit us ,we needed to visit for real and we did.  Pau  is in the department 64 Pyrénées Atlantiques in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine.

The city is located in the heart of an old independent state call Béarn of which it was the capital in 1464. Bordered by the gave de Pau river (long of 183 km) and about hundred km from the Atlantic ocean and about 50 km from Spain. This gave it a great position to offer a remarkable panorama on the Pyrénées chain of mountains as well as the hills of Jurançon with a fantastic view from the boulevard des Pyrénées.  .  Pau is only 110 km from Bayonne and the Atlantic ocean, especially the beach or Plage de Capbreton is only 122 km ; to the north there is at 216 km, Bordeaux and on the east Occitanie with only 40 km away from Tarbes ,46 km from Lourdes, and 196 km from Toulouse. Spain is only 50 km accessable via Gan by Oloron-Sainte-Marie and the peak of Somport (1631 meters and now the tunnel of Somport, or via Gan ,then Laruns to the peak of Pourtalet at 1794 meters; both of my favorite routes into my beloved Spain. Pau is found at the intersection of autoroutes A64 aka Pyrénéenne linking with Tarbes and Toulouse, and later on the west to Bayonne, and the Basque coast; and the autoroute A65 or autoroute de Gascogne connecting to Bordeaux via the A62 and the D817,  D937 and the D943 and the D945, and the N134 linking to the peak of Somport and Spain.

The funiculaire or cable car opened in 1908 to link the lower city train station and the boulevard des Pyrénées or the upper city; nice quaint ride indeed. There is TGV train service from Paris Montparnasse to Tarbes and intercités trains from Hendaye to Toulouse-Matabiau as well as TER trains from Bordeaux-Saint Jean station to Tarbes. The closest airport is that of Pau-Pyrénées located at 12 km from the town of Uzein and links with Paris CDG and Orly airports , Lyon, Marseille, Bastia, Ajaccio, Naples, and Bari in summers on my last reading.

A bit of history I like

The city is connected to the castle once it became the seat of the kingdom of Navarra in the 16C. Pau becomes the political and intellectual center under the reign of king Henri and Marguerite of Navarra. The story of Pau is deeply marked by the birth of Henri de Bourbon in 1553 in the castle; eventually he rises to the crown of France in 1589 under king Henri IV. Since then, the history of the city is connected to him. At the end of the Béarnaise independence  in 1620, Pau loses its influence but stayed at the head of the province autonomous until the French revolution. During the 18C another great local is born, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, marshal of the empire under Napoléon Ier and later chosen to become king of Sweden and Norway from 1818 to 1844 on his death , he started a dynasty that still reign over Sweden today.

By October 1620 the Catholic cult is reestablished here in the Béarn by a procession followed by king Louis XIII ,on the same day he published an edit to bring about the union of the Béarn and Navarra into the crown of France.  The king promise and guarantee the Béarnais to preserve their customs and privileges with autonomy.  King Louis XIII change the sovereign council of Bearn into the parliament of Navarra bringing in the court of Saint Palais; the city of Pau goes from royal town to parliamentarian town.  When the WWI began many pilots were trained here from a dozen countries including the French Georges Guynemer, René Fonck, Charles Nungesser, Roland Garros (of tennis fame) , Jules Védrine and even the American Norman Prince living in Pau at the time and founder of the Escadrille La Fayette (volunteers American who fought even before the USA entered the war). During WWII, Nazi occupation brought the Gestapo to the villa Saint Albert (today  destroyed) from 1942 and using the outpost or caserne Bernadotte as a prison until August 1944.

With the coming of the Belle Époque period a new influx comes to Pau, rich tourists especially British but also Russians, Spanish, and Americans coming to spent the winter and benefit from the special climate ordered by Scottish doctor Alexander Taylor. Pau is change into building several villas and palaces to host the new arrivals with all modernity such as baths, casino, and cable car or funicular. At the same period Pau becomes one of the world capital of aeronautics with the Wright brothers, and the first school of pilots organized in the world.

Things to see in nice Pau

The great parc Beaumont with a lake, river, and cascade with several branches of flowers and rosary on 12 hectares having 110 different species of trees with some remarkable such as the bold cypress, of Louisiana , the Persimmon of Virginia, and the Giant Sequoia . You have the parc Lawrence with centenary trees and an English villa from the 19C.  The domain of the castle of Pau has a renaissance garden with medicinal plants heir to the parks of the 16C under Antoine de Bourbon and Jeanne d’Albret  gardens seen as the most beautiful of Europe by contemporary visitors. You have main Churches such as Saint Martin Church started in 1863 and finished in 1871; and Saint James Church finished in 1868. Also, the fine arts museum opened in 1864.

The wonderful Château de Pau (see post) over the gave de pau river, the native house of Gen Bernadotte and from 1951 the museum of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte ,general under Napoléon I and later king of Sweden under Charles XIV and king of Norway under Charles III.  The Hôtel Gassion and Hôtel de France on boulevard des Pyrénées. The palace or Palais Beaumont also known as winter palace built in 1900 to amuse the locals and visitors on the game  , spectacles , festivals and meetings in a casino and congress center, theater and etc . The current Hôtel de Ville or city hall from 1878, by the Place Royale that was before a theater from 1862.

Like I said this is a nice city good to walk around the Place Royale and up and down upper and lower city on the cable car, the views on boulevard des pyrénées and of course the Castle, always the castle.

There you have it wonderful deep into the Béarn, Deep France , my love is on these lands so much the real France still, please keep it like forever. Enjoy it, and remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all !!!

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May 21, 2018

The outer Paris for business and pleasure!

As you might know Paris is a small city, and only about 2,2M(2014 INSEE)  folks; the reason it looks so big is that normally they include all the metropolitan area that grows to more than 7M (2014 INSEE) folks. The metro area is small too only about 105 square km or about 41 square miles. However, outside the boulevard périphérique or beltway road of Paris there is another world and it is great too.

The grand Hauts-de-Seine dept 92 is full of beautiful town and chic neighborhoods. I have been lucky to have been able to see the outer Paris. Once worked in Suresnes a wonderful town, and have my World HQ company in La Défense on a new tower Carpe Diem where I make my regular runs all year around. So let me tell you a bit about these two 92émes cities! Suresnes and La Défense (not a city per se as it is an agglomeration of several cities).

Let me tell you that Suresnes is in the department Hauts de Seine 92 in the Ile de France region sitting on the left bank of the Seine river and part of the overall Metropole of Grand Paris and the territory west of La Défense. It is surrounded by Puteaux and Nanterre on the north, Saint Cloud on the south, Rueil Malmaison on the west and Paris on the east.

The transportation here is dense but fluid and never a traffic jam. The current bridge dates from 1950 and has 30 meters long; there are levies first ones appeared in 1864-1869, and others followed in 1880 and 1885 to improve river traffic between Paris and Rouen in Normandy. Next to the levies ,there was the basin of Saint Cloud-Suresnes on the limits of two bridges by same name and was used to test hydroplanes before today gives way to the practice of nautical sports such as motonautic, ski nautique and wakeboard.

There is a good train station here on Gare de Suresnes-Mont Valérien on the line L of the Transilien coming out of Paris Saint Lazare train station ,very familiar to me. There is also a line 2 of the tramway that I ,also, got to test on the station Suresnes-Longchamp , and Belvédère both very crowded nowdays; there are ,also several bus lines passing by here such as the no 93, 141, 144, 157, 160, 175, 241, 244, 360, 544, and 563 of RATP and the night line N53 of Noctilien. Driving from Porte Maillot take the N185 road (allée de longchamp) thru the Bois de Boulogne and cross the Seine river at the D1/D785 pont de Suresnes into blvd Henri Sellier. When I came from Versailles by car, I took several options depending on the traffic news.

A bit of history on Suresnes.

The name of the town comes from the Latin Surisnce.  By 918AD Charles the  Simple gave the domain to count of Paris, Robert I and the abbot of Saint Germain des Prés. By 1593, king Henri IV of France had his conferences here in from of the Catholic from the Royal army and the League. In 1844, the ruins of the abbey of the congregation of priest of the calvary were been rebuilt to have the Fort of Mont Valerien (today still a military compound)  and making it as well a place of religious place. In 1914, the WWI starts and Suresnes becomes one of the places to produce ammonition and rockets. During WWII, the fort of Mont Valerien was occupied by the nazis and was the theater of many executions ,more than 1000. From 1941 to 1944, the Catholic priest Franz Stock accompany the prisioners to their last wish and on 1942 the writer and resistant fighter Jacques Decour (Daniel Decourdemanche) died for France on the firing wall executed by the nazis The Mémorial de la France Combattant du Mont Valerien is today  a place of pilgrimage; each year on June 18  the President of France comes here for the commemoration. In 1974 it was held here the 26th Congress of the Spanish workers socialists party (PSOE) then in exile from dictator General Franco in Spain.

Webpage on the memorial of Mont Valerien. Memorial of Mont Valerien

Things to see in Suresnes:

The Notre Dame de la Paix Chuch, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Notre Dame  de la Salette Chapel, Saint Leufroy Chapel, Saint Louis Chapel, and Fort du Mont Valerien Chapel. Here at the Mont Valérien you see the fortress, mémorial of France Combattant, and the American cemetery of Suresnes; You ,also see the Terrace of Fécheray with a view of Paris and La Défense, best view of Paris from here in my opinion.  There is recenlty as 2013 a new Museum of Urban and social history of Suresnes in the old train station of Suresnes-Longchamp   Showing the evolution of the city from the 1920-1930.  IT has 7 sequences that the visitor cand discover on its past from religious to military, as wel as the agriculture history of the city with its many factories. On the first floor, you have the story on the person of Henri Sellier, mayor of Suresnes from 1919 to 1941 showing his devotion to the city and the urban projects such as the cité jardins etc. More here on the museum: Museum of Urban Social History

American Cemetery of Suresnes: American Cemetery of Suresnes

Not to mention,and along an anecdote to come here are the wines of Suresnes and its festival of the grape on each October as well as the Confrérie du vin or wine brotherhood. The vineyards here were cultivated on the lands of Couvaloux,  Bons Raisins, and Pas Saint Maurice. You can buy the wines at the tourist office always. Tourist office on the wine in French: The vineyards of Suresnes

Now I go not far to La Défense

La Défense  is a business district located in the metropole of the Grand Paris in the region of Île de France, the first in Europe by its inventory of offices buildings.  It is located in the north west  of Paris  in the department of Hauts de Seine no 92 and the territory of the cities of Puteaux, Courbevoie, Nantes and La Garenne-Colombes . It is on the historical axis that starts at the Louvre palace and continues avenue des Champs-Elysées  Arc de Triomphe and onwards to the Pont de Neuilly and the Grande Arche de la Défense.  The opening in 1981 of the shopping mall Les Quatre Temps made a strong impact on the area and we enjoyed always there; more here: Les 4 temps shopping Mall

The neighborhoods of the La Défense has connection from the boulevard circulaire or beltway to the interior and exterior on a one way basis. It is large of 160 hectares and divided into four sectors such as Arche Nord, Arche Sud, Esplanade Nord , and Esplanade Sud.  The neighborhood is surrounded around a huge pedestrian square of 31 hectares, surrounded by works of arts. The circulation is around the autoroute A14 reaching La Défense by two exits one at Courbevoie and the other at La Garenne-Colombes (road D992) and another onwards to Puteaux and Nanterre (913). There is an underground city and on transports it has even a bus terminal reaching all parkings  with many transports choices including metro line 1 ,RER A Tramway 2 ,the express lane bus Express A14, many bus lines, night bus N24. Here I have come by train tramway and car. Trains from Rive Droite in Versailles or Saint Lazare in Paris, and tramway line 2 from Suresnes or by car along the Seine river D7 road.

A bit of history I like

The idea took thought in 1766 when Jean Rodolphe Perronet gives a road from his tower to mark the continuation of the Champs-Elysées with a prospective from the hill of Roule (future Place Charles de Gaulle /Arc de Triomphe) ,and the first houses of Neuilly  this road had the name of Chemin des Cours, and going to the hill of Chantecoq. At this location, it was designed a round square modeled after the Place de l’Etoile that was name Place de l’Etoile Chantecoq on whch an obelisk was placed of 40 meters  high. When the siege of Paris in 1870-71, the round square of Courbevoie was fortified and here was defended by the marching 19th regiment in 1870 after the Prussian show up in Malmaison. The round point became an obligatory passage of the French troops when preparing for the battle of Buzenval in 1870 and later in 1871. After the battle of Courbevoie in 1871, and during the uprisings of Paris, the troops from Versailles came to hold here than fired upon the pont de Neuilly held by the volunteers of the French National Guard.

The urban revival of the area was and is huge.  The first generation towers all identical with a base of 42 by 24 meters and a height of 100 meters was done in 1966 by the Tour Nobel ; early in the 1970’s the second generation towers came into being with towers of more than 100K square meters such as the Tour Fiat (today call Areva) at 184 meters high and 44 floors. IN 1970, the gare de la Défense was opened with the RER A. Later the third generation towers came to be on a more economical model.  Narrower and lower such as the Tour Pascal, tour Voltaire, and on the neighborhoo of MIchelet. On a contest started in 1982, the Grande Arche de la Défense see its day as well as hotels, CNIT renovated, and the extension of line  1 of the metro opened in 1992 making Paris closer.

Today, La Défense is the first Business district of Europe! New towers are going up such as the T1 at 185 meters and Tour Granite at 184 meters,and also the biggest Tour First at 231 meters is the highest skyrise in France. Many government services are moved here such as the environment ministry, and territorial ministry house in the Grande Arche, Tour Seguoia and Tour Pascal. At the side of the city of Courbevoie, you have  the tour D2 opened in 2015, Carpe Diem opened in 2103 and since early 2017 our world headquarters for my company.  Tour Majunga done in 2014

By this year, there will be two towers of more than 200 meters such as the tour First ,Sisters, and Air, 20 towers of more than 150 meters and 46 towers of more than 100 meters. Taken a look from the bridge or Pont de Neuilly you have the crossroads of the pont de Neuilly a busy road  to make for the exits from the autoroute A14 the boulevard Circulaire (beltway) and the quays on the Seine river  crossed by an open air ride on the metro line 1. The Basin Takis on the extreme east of the parvis with a great view of Neuilly-sur-Seine and Paris (historical axis and tour Eiffel). There is even a small vineyard there the Clos de Chantecoq on the border of the parvis. The Esplanade on the historical axis with trees and benches on a narrow passage way; then you come to the Place de la Défense on the circle and surrounded by the towers Ariane, Opus 12, Coeur Défense, etc) a very busy intersection by on foot folks and you find the information bureau and the museum of La Défense. The parvis itself is a huge space surrounded by the Grande Arche de la Défense , CNIT ,the shopping center Les 4 temps and underneath the exchange knot for public transports, huge underneath with tramway bus ,metro and RER ; and on top the place for the Christmas market ; all surrounded by nice streets such as the Place des Saisons, place Jean Millier (where the towers Total and Areva are), and the cours Valmy.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here,and ask me if doubts.

News on La Défense : https://www.ladefense.fr/en

Non official but better La Défense in French : http://defense-92.fr/

The Grande Arche de la Défense in English : https://www.lagrandearche.fr/en/

Hauts de Seine tourist office on La Défense : https://www.tourisme92.com/la-defense.html

This is the tourist office for the region of ïle de France covering both places as well

Ile de France tourist office

There you go an alternative to Paris proper is to go shopping at Les 4 Temps huge mall, then eat at one of the many restaurants in the parvis and esplanade and walk with an eye view from the Grande Arche de la nse ito the Arc de Triomphe and all the way tot he Arc du Carrousel. You can then climb above the Grande Arche for spectacular views of Paris. A good day with the family indeed.

Hope it helps your planning; like I said, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all! Tomorrow back to work lol!!!

May 18, 2018

That little old town Trier, in Germany!

I think ,I have mentioned on the previous post but the way I came here was by accident or curiosity of a traveller. My idea and our family was to visit Luxembourg city, and we came here often. On one of the earlier trip, we had extra time and saw a brochure on Trier in the tourist office , been close and we with a car, we took off for the Roman city of Trier. Yes that is how we came to know Trier, and it has been a must visit once in a while over the years,and has become our favorite city in Germany, said. This is my introduction to Trier on my black and white series, no pictures. See my numerous posts on Trier!!

Trier (Trèves in French) is in the region state of Rhineland Palatinate  on the Moselle river near the border with Luxembourg (about 50 km /31 mi) and the Moselle wine region.  You have good transport here with a nice train station with connection galore, by train the nearest cities are Cologne, Saarbrücken and Luxembourg city. The highway are wonderful and we have done it on the expressway A1 as well as A48 and A64 connecting Koblenz, Saarbrüken, and Luxembourg city. The airport nearest Trier is actually in Luxembourg at Findel just less than an hour away, Frankfort is about 2 hrs away as well as Cologne/Bonn. The Moselle river has nice cruises too.

A bit of history I like

Founded by the Celtic in the late-4C BC ; this town became an old Roman colony founded in the year 16 BC under the name of Augusta Treverorum on the site of a gaullist people name the Triveres. There is an old stone bridge built in 45 AD replacing an older wooden one and still the oldest bridge in Germany still working.  There is a rampart housing the biggest urban area in all of Gaul ,about 282 hectares. It ‘s still has the Porta Nigra , a must to see ,it is a fortified gate, as well as some wall foundations in the ramparts still from Roman times. Trier is considered the second Rome or Roma secunda. In addition from Roman times we have the Basilica which today is a protestant Church, remains of an amphitheater and ruins of the spas. The Franks took Trier from the Roman rule in 459 AD; by 870AD it became part of the Easter France that eventually became the Holy Roman Empire. The Cathedral of Trier is home to the archbishop that was one of the prince elect of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire, and keeps a vest that is considered the Holy Shroud that wore Jesus Christ to the Calvary. This Cathedral was closed for many years and finally re opened again in 1974.

The German philosopher and one of the founders of Marxism , Karl Marx was born in the city in 1818. The University of Trier was founded in 1473 ,but it too was closed for several years , dissolved in 1797 and eventually reopened again in 1974. The years 1581 to 1593 ,the Trier witch trials were held ,perhaps the largest witch trial in European history. It was certainly one of the four largest witch trials in Germany. The persecutions started in the diocese of Trier in 1581 and reached the city itself in 1587, where it was to lead to the death of about 368 people, and was as such perhaps the biggest mass execution in Europe in peace time In the 17C and 18C, Trier was wanted by France, who invaded several times like during the Thirty Years war, war of the Grand Alliance, War of the Spanish Succession, War of the Polish succession; France finally claiming Trier in 1794 during the French revolution, and the electoral archbishopric was dissolved. After the Napoleonic wars ended in 1815 Trier passed to the Kingdom of Prussia. The city rose in revolt during the revolutions of 1848 in the German States   although the rebels were forced to concede. It became part of the German Empire in 1871. In June 1940 over 60K British prisioners of war captured at Dunkirk and Northern France were marched into Trier, which became a staging post for British soldiers headed for Nazis prisioners of war camps.

Things to see are plenty here, my family’s favorite are:

The Porta Nigra, the best preserved Roman city gate north of the Alps; ruins of three Roman baths, among them the largest Roman baths north of the Alps; including the Barbara baths and the Trier Imperial baths; the huge Constantine Basilica with 67 meters long throne hall of Roman Emperor Constantine, it is today used as a Protestant Church; the Trier Cathedral St Peter dates back to Roman times and as said houses the Holy Shroud a garment dated back to the 12C; the one Jesus was wearing when he died. It is exhibited only every few decades, at irregular intervals. The Liebfrauenkirche or Church of our Lady one of the most important Gothic Cathedrals in Germany on the French gothic tradition of Cathedrals; the Roman amphitheatre, the 2C AD Roman bridge across the Moselle river, oldest north of the Alps still with traffic; St Matthias Abbey still in use monastery whose medieval Church is the only Apostle north of the Alps is held to be buried; St Gangolf’s Church, was the city market Church that rivalled the Archbishop’s Trier Cathedral; Saint Paulinus Church one of the most important Baroque Churches in Rhineland-Palatinate State; There are two treadwheel cranes one gothic the old crane from 1413 and the other the Baroque crane or old Customs crane from 1774.

As to museums ,there are some nice ones. The archeological museum and most important in Germany on the Roman period call in German Rheiniches Landesmuseum; the history of Trier museum with a model of the medieval city or in German, Stadtmuseum Simeonstiff; and for the kid in all of us,the Toy Museum of Trier.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to the nice old city of Trier:

Panoramic views of Trier ,wonderful site : http://www.stadtpanoramen.de/trier/index.html

Tourist office of Trier in English: https://www.trier-info.de/english/index

From the Rhineland Palatine region there is more on tourism here: https://www.en.romantic-cities.com/cities/trier/

Tourist office of Germany on Trier in English: http://www.germany.travel/en/towns-cities-culture/towns-cities/historic-highlights-of-germany/trier.html

Hope it helps plan your visit to the wonderful Trier or Trèves , it is a nice place even with the tourist around, heck so are we… we love it. Enjoy the post and remember; happy travels, good health ,and many cheers!!

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May 14, 2018

Les Andelys in Normandy!

I am on the mood for Normandy, a treasure trove of goodies all over and now back to be call one whole Normandy again. We come here often even this year when we went to seek help near Mont Saint Michel. On our rounds we passed many times by the hilly curvy Les Andelys. I like to do a first post on these two jewels that need to be visited more by visitors to France. The season is right just 17C today and off clouds and sun.

Les Andelys  is in the departément 27 Eure of the region of Normandy at about 100 km from Paris. This is a hilly town and counts many hamlets on different local D roads ,most on the plains such as in the north Feuquerolles, le Mesnil-Bellanguet, Longuemare, and Noyers  by the D316; in the valley such as Radeval, Paix, and le Val-Saint-Martin, by the D125; and on the south the Cléry, la Baguelande, Mantelle, and Villers, by the D1.  However to get right by the town you are better off on the D135  from the A13 ,the only bridge is a suspended type rebuilt after WWII in 1947 that crosses the Seine river towards Tosny and the righg bank. It is the only bridge between Courcelles sur Seine and Saint Pierre du Vauvray.

 

The town has many traces of Vikings inhabitation and it is very old town as you can imagine in France. The town belongs to the archbishops of Rouen but it was ceded in 1197 to the Duke of Normandy Richard the Lion Heated ,upon his death he passes to his brother John without lands (sp?) or Jean sans Terre by which finally taking into France by the king Philippe Auguste in 1204.  This taken by France came as a result of the taking of the Château-Gaillard and created psychological conditions for the taking of Rouen and all of Normandy by the king of France. However, it is said on the strategic plan it had no impact as the Seine river was free as well as the route to Rouen much before the taking of the castle.  The results is the duchy of Normandy passing to the kingdom of France after 293 years of independence (since 911 –1204) .

As to the castle of Gaillard, in the following years it was restored later served as a prison ,and finally taken by the English during the War of Hundred years in the 15C. The castle was given up as needed to pull buckets from a well to get water; and with the advances of the artillery it was left in abandon becoming the refuge of homeless etc the King Henri IV ordered the dismantling of its stones that later served to built the Chartreuse of  Aubevoye in Gaillon.  Some anecdotes as here in 1762 the town passes from the duchy of Gisors to Louis Charles de Bourbon-Maine, duke of Aumale; upon his death in 1775 it passes to his cousin the duke of Pentiévre, and by 1793 it passes to Louise Marie de Bourbon-Penthiévre, Duchess of Chartres and Orléans, later in 1821 it entered on the heritage of Duke Louis Philippe III d’Orléans future Louis Philippe Ier king of the French. Early on in WWII in 1940 after bombings and fire on the town it falls to the nazis of the 6th infantry division ,after liberation a plan of rebuilding is approved in 1943.

Things to see here are many manoirs or mansion homes of rich architecture and these my favorites: The Gallo Roman Grand Théatre of the 1C with 120 meters of diameter inside . The before mentioned Chateau Gaillard, Church Collegiale Notre Dame des Andelys built in the 13C 14C 16C and 17C with renovations,; the Church Saint Sauveur du Petit Andely built in the 13C , the hospice Saint Jacques from the 14C and 17C founded by Louis Jean Marie de Bourbon, Duke of Penthiévre and rebuilt in the 18C , as well as the ramparts of the Grand Andely and the clock tower or Tour de l’Horloge from the 17C

Some further information to help you plan your trip to this wonderful corner of Normandy.

From the city tourist info in French see “Decouvrir” have on Chateau Gaillard: https://www.ville-andelys.fr/chateau-gaillard/#

Tourist office in English here: http://www.lesandelys-tourisme.fr/en/

Tourist office region of Normandy on castle Gaillard in English: http://en.normandie-tourisme.fr/chateau-gaillard-258-2.html

The dept Eure tourist office on les Andelys: https://www.eure-tourism.com/Fiche/Detail/Activity/LES-ANDELYS/Les-Andelys/PCU-PCUNOR027FS0005W

Les Andelys

There you have it one two punch in Normandy. You can come here by train from gare Saint Lazare in Paris to Les Andelys or by car take the A13 autoroute exit/sortie no. 17 Gaillon . Enjoy it as we did!

Remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers !! Enjoy week!!!

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May 13, 2018

The Quib continues at Esplanade Café

Ok so Saturday we did our errands with the boys always remembering mama we had some thirst so decided to go down south of us to our family favorite Quiberon (see posts). So many trips here, it was our best beach and a place to unwind with my family. Today, we are missing one physically, but we came to remember the better days.

The owner is very friendly and talkative and already had a good rapport with us,my wife loved to come here and chat and drink at lunch time. The evening is something else a real meeting place if you are young and restless lol!

It has sports TV all over showing the matches in football/soccer, rugby, basketball, tennis ,motor racing etc all sports are covered. The layout is a tropical place with far away places on posters and deco, from the Pacific to the Caribbean. There is a big terrace given to the big square Esplanade Hoche so therefore the name of the place is l’Esplanade Café (see post) . Just steps away from the big beach at Quiberon, Grande Plage. It is ,also, in the middle of the plaza where the big market is held especially on Saturdays until 13h really good one. The city page has info on getting here and telephone; Esplanade Café on Quiberon

We had our usual beers here the Belzebuth beer at 8.5% and accompany by many tapas like dishes from saucissons of many kinds we love the provençal and nature as well as a full line of wonderful cold meats from breton maker Henauf, we love the tuna in basilic or orange etc etc. You ordered the sausages pre cut and the can comes with a basket of slice bread and spoon to put it on your slice from the jar of paté, terrines etc.

All while viewing the square buzzle with people coming and going to the beach. This is the city on beaches so many so nice one but we prefer the big one at Grande PlageBeaches at Quiberon

The official site for the brasserie Goudale de la Belzebuth, Brasserie Goudale

For a popular place on the beach, the prices are reasonable and the company even better. The owner has been good to us as we have gotten beer mugs from the favorite Belzebuth beers 6 of them for free. My late wife was so happy to get this gesture to us.

We love to come here and do often, it is about 45 minutes from our house and if we were closer probably would visit even more often. I post a lot and usually leave it to the wind for those to come, this is one of the few places I will definitively tells you to come when in the area.

We had our couple pints and the usual munchies and left, free parking for an hour and then is metered at Vazquez parking where the market is held but we come just at the end to get the parking here. You have other car parkings but we love our place du Vazquez; here is the city on parking in English: car parks Quiberon

This is a pdf map you can print it at home: map parking Quiberon

The route by car is sublime as this is a peninsula of  Quiberon, and the passage by the wild coast or côte sauvage is fantastic. Part of the wonders of my area just south of me about 45 minutes by car I said, lovely, and plenty of family memories especially thinking of my Frenchie who is still with us in ashes at home.

Enjoy your Sunday, and remember, happy travels,good health,and many cheers to you all.

May 11, 2018

Let’s bring back memories of Fontainebleau!

I like to have memories and nowdays even more. I remember Fontainebleau castle as it was the property in Seine et Marne dept 77 that my late wife Martine, took me first to show me her department/region back in 1990. We have come here ever since,and it is one of my favorite castles been friend of the association that helps protect its heritage. Their office is on your left once entering the main entrance to the castle.  First , let me start by telling you , I have written before several posts on Fontainebleau. Read on….

To speak a bit more on this wonderful castle will take me a whole blog but will give you some general information on it and the city of same name.  Fontainebleau, the city, is in the department 77 or Seine-et-Marne, part of the region of ïle de France, and only about 57 km (about 35 miles) from Paris. It is the most extensive city of the region and mostly covered by a forest; the city itself not counting the castle is 232 hectares or about 573 acres. The Seine river passes by it as well as the smaller river and tributary of the Seine , the Ru de la Mare aux Evées (actually a stream of water).

Some of the main streets in town are the rue Grande long of almost 3 km and the most the visitor will like to walk on. Others are the Place Solférino, Place Denecourt opening to the grill door of the garden or Jardin de Diane, the famous Place d’Armes or Place François Ier, place de l’Hôtel de Ville, place de l’Etape aux vins and the Place de la République.  There is a train station in the nearby town of Avon , attach to Fontainebleau and get you to the castle by local bus or taxi easily.  Gare de Fontainebleau-Avon on the line Paris gare de Lyon trains R direction Montargis/Sens; better in French and you can print the train stops map here: Transilien Fontainebleau train line R 

You can take a taxi outside the station to the castle or pre booked better on this recommended companies by the city:

Radio-Taxi Fontainebleau Avon : 01 64 22 00 06 http://www.taxis-fontainebleau-avon.fr

Taxi Fontainebleau Avon : 06 77 94 10 06 www.taxi-resa.com

By the road ,which how I always go there from Paris you take the A6 at porte d’Orléans or Porte d’Italie and get off at exit for Fontainebleau. Rather than drive around for a parking spot, I have become used to park at the same parking each time and never a problem.  Parking Château on Rue Ferrare just on the other side of the main entrance to the castle ,next street over; open 7/7 24hrs and free on evenings from 19h to 9h every day; daytime is a modest price where I never paid more than 5 euros.

Another route I take from family and could be useful for those coming from Disneyland is to get on the A4 direction Paris and get off at exit/sortie 15 on the N36 direction Melun and there take the D606 direction Fontainebleau right into the rue Grande or from the D606 right after Melun get on the D142 by the carrefour du roi traffic circle follow it thru the forest and entered once past another traffic circle or La Croix du Grand Veneur you will be on the D607 straight into Fontainebleau by the Rue de France; take a left on rue Denecourt and then a right to parking at Rue Ferrare.

A bit of history I like.

This spot was a hamlet and a stop for hunters and a chapel built by king Louis VII. Later Saint Louis (king Louis IX) who loves Fontainebleau  had built a mansion and a hospital here . Nevertheless, Fontainebleau was nothing than a hamlet until 1528 when king François Ier returning to France after spending a year in prison in Spain after the defeat at Pavia in 1525 had decided to built a castle inspired by the Italians styles. In the 17C, many mansions were built here office tourism says about 30 to house the princes and the lords of the court (one was the Ferrare palace now only the front door arch remains and is the entrance to the parking I used and mentioned above. It had great parties especially by the Madame sister in law of the king, the Princess Palatine. In 1685, king Louis XIV signed the edit of Fontainebleau that cancelled the edit of Nantes that cause many protestants to leave France. In 1725, king Louix XV marries here. The French revolution did not cause too much damage here due to the richness of the inhabitants. The empire of Napoléon Ier came to the castle and had it renovated as well as many mansions some turned into hotels like the current luxury  Aigle Noir.

On October 29 1807, Manuel Godoy the minister of the Spanish king Carlos IV and Napoléon Ier signed the treaty of Fontainebleau allowing French troops to passed by Spain to invade Portugal; they decided to stay in Spain too. By June 1812, the Pope Pie VII arrived at Fontainebleau and stayed as house prison from that date to 1814 without leaving his apartment. On April 20 1814, Napoléon Ier shortly after his first abdication says farewell to his troops from the courtyard of the Cheval Blanc (later courtyard of goodbye or cour des adieux). IN all , there were 34 monarchs from Louis VI le Fat to Napoléon III who stayed at Fontainebleau during 7 centuries. From the 16C to the 18C all the kings from François Ier to Louis XV had done renovations, demolitions, enlargements, rebuilts more or less homogeneous to the architecture of the castle. In August 1946, Fontainebleau held the Franco-Vietnamien conference to find a solution to the conflict in Indochina and was a failure as later history can attest. The military tradition of the city kept it for a long time link to the army barracks such as the headquarters of the allied armies of Central Europe or AFCENT, the land forces LANDCENT, and the air forces AIRCENT of NATO  from 1949 to 1967(when France pull out of NATO ) Today the city host a grand école a famous business school wiht international recognition such as INSEAD

The main things to see here are the Fontainebleau castle, and its Napoléon and Chinese museums inside as well as the gardens and the forest of Fontainebleau.  Others are the cimetery and the Saint Louis Church dated from the 17C and restored and enlarged in 1868(had a recent fire inside but currently been restored) . Other mainly horse related event are the CSEM or military equestrian sports center, and the Grand parquet on the field of Salamandre, that hold trainers and breeders of horses , the racecours of Fontainebleau at La Solle, and history tell us that at Bois-le-Roi a small village close to Fontainbleau  was held in 1776, the first English style racehorse at the hamlet of Sermaise. There is also, a nice theater or théatre Municipale built from 1905 in the louis XIII style in brick and stone, the theater opened in 1912. It was closed during WWI and again for restoration from 1999 to 2006.

Some of the mansions or architecturally interesting in my opinion here are: The Hôtel de Bellune at 4 rue Saint Honoré, Hôtel de Polignac at 23 rue Saint Honoré, Hôtel de Conti at 27 rue Saint Honoré , Hôtel de Pompadour, at the small street rue de l’Arbr-Sec this was built for the mistress of king Louis XV,it had a small botanical garden and a petting zoo.  There is an obelisk at the crossing or carrefour de l’Obélisque built in 1786 in honor of queen Marie Antoinette and her children. The curious will go to the forest and see the Priory Notre Dame de Franchard dating from early 411AD and rebuilt in 1626 now run by the order of the Trinitarians following the rule of Saint Augustin. 

The official webpage of Fontainebleau castle: Fontainebleau castle official site

The webpage to the Friends of Fontainebleau if you want to help preserve this wonder of our world. Friends of Fontainebleau castle

The national forest of France on Fontainebleau in French: Forest of Fontainebleau

the city of Fontainebleau and its history in French; City hall of Fontainebleau

The tourist office of Fontainebleau in English: Tourist office of Fontainebleau

Tourist office of dept 77 Seine et Marne on Fontainebleau:  Tourist office of Dept 77 Seine-et-Marne

Tourist office of the region of ïle de France in English on Fontainebleau: ïle de France region tourism

I believe you have a full spectrum of choices in this wonderful castle /city of many memories in my family ,and I hope if you do come will bring you many memories to you and yours too.

Remember, I am back. Happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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