Archive for May, 2018

May 30, 2018

The unique Koblenz, history and architecture.

Ok so here we go alone reaching the end of May 2018,and I am all nostalgic about my wonderful trips with my dear late wife , Martine. The day has been very rainy here downpour at times ,heard rain in one day what normally is 10 days. But we are survivals!

I do runs to Germany several times in the past, but business trips.  Then, once on a trip to Luxembourg city we went into Trier , great that is Germany. Then , we came back again to do the same trip. And finally, the family decided that we should go just to Germany and see more of it. So off we went renting a house in a little wine town just south of Trier. We use this as a base to visit several towns there. One that took us by surprise and we like it a lot (other than Trier) was Koblenz.

And this town has so much history even combining both France and Germany we were pleasantly surprise and love it. Let me bring you up to date with first posting my previous blog post on it here: Koblenz or Coblence

Koblenz or Coblence ( in French) is a town in the state of Rhineland Palatine , the name come from the confluence of two rivers the Rhine and the Moselle in the German corner or Deutsches Eck, the closest big city are Bonn at 60 km and Mayence at 90 km.  My visit here has been by car from Trier so the 602 ,then A1, B48 and finally the 9 roads or about 3 hrs.were the roads chosen. There is a train station of course,and close airports at Frankfort and Koln; as well as easy navigation by river. However, to us ,car is king and queen!

A bit of history I like (or rather lots of history I like).

Mérovingian period after the end of the Western Roman Empire in the 5C, the city is taken by the Franks (same guys as France) that established a kingdom. Here comes the Carolingian period  When in 806 Charlemagna divides the empire between his sons and Koblenz is taken by Charles but he died soonn after and by 814 is share by the sons of Louis the Fair. A dispute amongst his sons come to be that Charles the Bold inherits the city in 837. By 1018, emperor Henry II offers the kingdom to the archbishop of Trier and so Koblenz is part of the Prince States one of the seven that founded the Holy Roman Empire.

The maternal Uncle of king Louis XVI and his brothers host the Count of Artois and the city becomes the center of counter revolution to the French , they sent troops here and the coalition of Prince Wencelas is force to run and leave the territory ,two weeks later the city is taken by the French revolutionaries. The fortress of Ehrenbreitstein held longer until 1799 before surrendering. This event meant the end of the Prince States of Trier.

Many immigrants from France comes here running from the French revolution such as the Count of Artois and Count of Provence, brothers of king Louis XVI . They planned from here a counter revolution with the help of neighboring kingdoms. A war starts and the French invade over the Rhine river in 1794. By 1795 Frederick William II of Prussia signed the treaty of Basel where he recognized the occupation of the left bank of the Rhine by the French, and name an administrator of the city into the French department of Rhin et Moselle. The treaty of Luneville in 1801 Koblenz is incorporating into the French Republic and becomes capital fo the department

The city received the visit of Napoleon I and his wife Josephine de Beauharnais in September 1804. The French becomes the language of the administration and the name of the town is  Coblentz. The commander of the Russian army that took Koblenz in December 31 1813 was non other than Emmanuel Louis Marie Guignard de Saint Priest ,he had joined the Prince de Condé in 1792 and from 1793 was an officer in the Russian army; it is at this time that the name Schângel that means even today the persons born in Koblenz. According to the terms of the Congress of Vienna of 1815 the lands of the Prince State of Trier are integrated into the Province of the Rhine in the kingdom of Prussia.

At the end of the WWI in November 1918 the workers council and the soldiers come together at Koblenz but a month later the American troops conquered the town and  puts an end to the government of the Soviets . In 1923, the American military turn over the town to the French that on their turn leave the city in 1929 In 1945 the Americans again occupied the city; Upon the accords of the Potsdam conference the occupation is transferred from the Americans to the French and in 1946 the new State of Rhineland Palatine is created. It is at the conference of Rittersturz held at Koblenz in 1948 that it was founded the Federal Republic of Germany or West Germany by decision of the three occupying forces, USA, UK,and France.

Walking the town is magical and we love it; the walks around the German Corner or Deutschez Eck are superb and well recommended at least do this.

Things to see in Koblenz are many ,my favorites are:

Museums of Koblenz, history and civilization and navigation, castle of Stolzenfels, and Louis. The castles of Electors Princes, Stolzenfels and old castle. Municipal theatre of Koblenz; Saint Castor Basilica, Notre Dame Church, Saint Joseph Church, Saint Florin Church , and the convent of Capuchins of Koblenz Also, the Fort Constantine, Fortress of Ehrenbreitstein, and the  Deutschez Eck confluence of the Moselle and Rhine river (very nice), the bridge Baudouin and the Fountain of Schângel located in the courtyard of the city hall and place on top a child smashing the water.

Koblenz Koblenz

From the 13C there is a festival on the initiative of monk Caesarius on a carnival scale by the German coin or Deutsches Eck ; the costume was lost during the war of 30 years ; later after the retaking of the city from Napoleon I by the Prussians in 1815 the carnival was reborn in 1823 a new beginning and most important help by the influence of the one in Koln . To our days the principal organizer of the festival is the association  AKK.  The program now includes plays in rooms and promenade parade of Fat Monday, covering the entire city as well as the election of a Prince and his lady Confluentia, the occupation of the city hall and the police barrack of Falkenstein  by mask folks under the direction of the council of eleven and the regents of the crazy days groups  More on it at tourist office here in English: https://www.koblenz-tourism.com/events/events-in-koblenz/carnival-monday-procession.html

Some webpages to help plan your trip here in addition to my blog post above, and it is recommended you do come are

City of Koblenz on tourism in English: https://www.koblenz.de/stadtleben_kultur/stadtrundgang_e.html

A nice webcam on the German corner here: http://www.bafg.de/php/deutsches-eck-gross.jpg

Tourist office of Koblenz in English: https://www.koblenz-tourism.com/

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

There you go something to expand our horizons and lucky to be at the crossroad of Europe and all these wonderful places to see easy. Enjoy the post. And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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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 29, 2018

This is unique San Clemente, Cuenca!

When we made our runs of Castilla La Mancha in the last couple of years, after I convince my dear late wife Martine to come here. It was not easy to convince as she wanted to go elsewhere in Spain. However, my adolecent and youthful days were spent around here, and it is like a pilgrimage each time around my beloved Spain. So on a sunny day of 23C in my neck of the woods let me tell you about this town in the Province of Cuenca, Castilla La Mancha region.

We were base in the serrania de Cuenca high on the mountains at 1400 meters, and used it as a base to go by car all over the Castilian countryside.  I have remote recolletions of been by here before, but we decided to pass by and check it out with the family. It was a memorable stop and we love it. This is San Clemente, another memorable spot of nice family souvenirs that today are stronger than ever. She would still reminded me about it ,and I am sure , it would have been easy to convince her again to vacation by these lands.

San Clemente is in the southeast part of the  province of Cuenca  historically it is known as the town of  Mancha Alta, inside the  Mancha de Montearagón area, this name came from the fact that the Castilians traveling to Valencia  (once conquered by king Jaime I of Aragon in 1238) climb up or went up towards Aragon, and therefore the high or alta on the name that was at a higher altitude.

IT is about 110 km from Cuenca, 80 km from Albacete 197 km from Madrid ,and 200 km from Valencia on the banks of the Rus river and the roadcross of the  A-43 and AP-36, and only 30 km from the A-3 that connects fast and free Madrid to Valencia. The signalisation of the roads are AP-36 ( Autopista Ocaña-La Roda: Ocaña – La Roda), A-43 (Autovía Extremadura-Comunidad Valenciana), A-3 ( Autovía del Este: Madrid – Valencia) connecting itself to the  A-43 at Atalaya del Cañavate. The A-31 ( Autovía de Alicante: Atalaya del Cañavate – La Roda – Albacete – Almansa – Alicante) connects also with the A-43 at Atalaya del Cañavate. Other roads and directions are the N-310 ( Manzanares – San Clemente – Villanueva de la Jara)  N-301 ( Ocaña – Cartagena) ; CM-3009 ( Saelices – San Clemente),  CM-3112 (San Clemente – Honrubia) ; CM-3117 ( San Clemente – Minaya). N is National and CM is communal roads.

It could be tempting by many but I would not do this trips with bus or train, not comfortable in my opinion. However, there are buses and a station in San Clemente connecting to Madrid, Albacete, Cuenca, Valencia, and severall other towns. The train station closest are in Villarrobledo at about 29 km and  Albacete at 80 km.  Albacete has AVE connection to correspond with any city in Spain using RENFE.

A bit of history I like.

Here, there was a Goda town venerating the Virgin and once the Moors invasion the Virgin was hidden in a rock inside a cave.  On this spot, later came to live a Moorish people but a pastor found the Virgin in a cave known locally as the Mora or moor at the foot of a castle. The Virgen de Rus is today the Patron Saint of  San Clemente, an a Church was built at the foot of the old Castle.  The name of the town comes from a knight that was installed here name  Clemente Pérez de Rus, the name of the castle before the founding of the town.  The conquest of Cuenca and Alarcón by king  Alfonso VIII and later defeat of the moors at Navas de Tolosa in 1212, is the cause for the annexation of San Clemente and its territory in Castile.  Depe nding of the town castle of Alarcón it passes to be part of the Marquis of Villena under the lordship of the Manuel, first and later of the Infantes of Aragon finally passing to Don Juan Pacheco, Master of the order of Santiago (St James), and first marquis of  Villena.  In 1445,  Don Juan Pacheco raised it to a City recognized by king Juan II of Aragón and Navarra ,and  Enrique IV of Castilla.  The town of San Clemente took side with queen Isabel la Católica on the fight with Juana for the right to rule in Castile and rises up against the power of the Marquis of Villena that sided with Juana. Once the war of succession over, the Catholic Kings incorporated the town into the crown and freeing it from the association of  Alarcón; receiving the visit of the Catholic Kings (Isabel and Fernando)  in 1488 as gratitude for the services rendered to them. During the follow up war of Succession was the headquarters of the Duke of Berwich showing support for king Felipe V that gave the town the title of most noble , most loyal and trusted city.

In the 19C during the War of Independance of 1808-1814 (against Napoleon’s France) it offered resistance to them as Napoleon sent a division Frére to reinforce the army of Moncey  that were operating in Valencia and Dupont that was in Andalucia. However, the Frére division could not do what it was intended due in part to the resistance of the local people of San Clemente, amongst them was the local heroe Bibiano Hellín. During the Spanish Civil War it was built here an aerodrome and was the home of the 3ª squadron of the group 12 of Russian bombers  Tupolev SB-2 (katiuska) and some Russian fighters planes such as the biplanes Polikarpov I-15.

San Clemente San Clemente

Main things to see in San Clemente, in my opinion.

At the Roman times both Republican and Imperial there was a Roman bridge to cross the Rus river with three arcs and still the best preserve of the Roman bridges in the province.

Casa Consistorial, or city hall (ayuntamiento) it is a renaissance style building on the Classic line on the corner in a rectangular form and two levels and a tower on top with the coat of arms of the Habsburgs of Austria. The facade falls into the silhouette of the Plaza Mayor that in the older days was completely encircled . The construction of the house is from the 16C during the reign of king Felipe II. It was built and renovated thereafter between 1566 and 1622.

San Clemente San Clemente

Parroquia de Santiago Apóstol ,or parish Church of St James the Apostle is on the renaissance style from the 16C with elements Gothic from early in the 15C and some Baroque from the 17C.  It is a basilical Church with three nerfs and huge pillars and chapters and starets coupolas.

San Clemente

Torre Vieja,or old tower, was built in the 15C before 1445 during the reign of king Juan II .It is a tower with a square built and it is the oldest construction in San Clemente.  Currently it is the Tourist office and from 1998 the Etnographic museum of Labranza,

San Clemente

Castillo de Santiago de la Torre  or castle of James of the tower is on the west of San Clemente,on the banks of the Záncara river.  It is a medieval castle that belonged to the Order of ST James or Santiago as well as the Marquis of Villena and the Catholic Kings. However, last in 2017 was in bad shape and hopefully it will be safeguarded for future generations.

The main event here is to come during the Festival of Rus or Fiestas de Rus on the Sunday of resurrection when groups of young and young at heart come together in the main square or Plaza Mayor  below the columns of the old city hall with money in cash to begin one of the most beautiful spectacles in all of Castilla-La Mancha. The auction of the walks of the Virgen de Rus. The square is full of people on foot with notary, and brotherhoods houses that within half an hour of uses and costums starts the groups putting a quantity of money on the table for all to see, each group would do the same until the last one and on the last minute push for the highest amount ;even bats have been given to the groups to reach the last table with the highest amount. The auction of the Cross follows the same ritual but with younger groups . Until the spectacle is done and all go to Mass.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this nice town of Castilla here:

tourist office of San Clemente: http://www.turismosanclemente.com/

city of San Clemente with things to see in Spanish: http://www.sanclemente.es/que-ver-en-san-clemente/

There, a new town for you maybe… this is another of the jewels you will find in nice Castilla La Mancha, the region of Don Quixote of Cervantes Saavedra.

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

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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.

Vannes Vannes

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 but for ease of location here are the webpages

Parc du Golfe Vannes

The Chorus

Aquarium Vannes

Butterflies Garden

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

The magnificent Alcazar of Segovia!

This is another of my favorite cities of my beloved Spain, or is one of many I think. From an early age , I think first time was when I was 10 years old with my mother; I keep coming back over the years, then with my wife, and then with the family and boys and parents and and ….lost count but each time is like the first time. The Alcazar of Segovia is awesome, a must to see.

Well I admit only once did took the bus as always came here taken or on my own by car from Madrid. The roads are good if hilly and curvy even if now they have expressways such as the AP 6 and AP 61 but my all time favorite is the N603; from Madrid you can come on the A1.  I drive around to find a parking either at 14 Paseo Ezequiel Gonzalez next to the tribunal , you walk past the statue to famous restaurantor Candido and onwards to the Cathedral and Aqueduct nice walk and car is very safe or  the Alcazar or by the Aqueduct and then walk all over the city. By intercity bus you come from the bus depot at Moncloa and the Sepulvena line ,there are suburbian trains such as cercanias by changing trains in Cercedilla. The fast trains or AVE can be taken at the station Segovia-Guiomar and for cheaper slower trains you can do the Avant trains.

I have written quite a bit on Segovia and all its attractions before, but this one is the Alcazar needs a stand alone post. To me , the Alcazar is tops for the history of it, then the Cathedral and then the Aqueduct.

The history of the Alcazar is very interesting and I like it.

The oldest remains were stones of granite like those in the Roman aqueduct so it is assume that in the Roman period there was a castrum or castle here already. On top of these ruins this Alcazar was built  as a hispano Arabic fortress. The first notice of it was in 1122 a bit after king Alfonso VI of Léon conquered the city ,however, it wasn’t until 1155 that it is shown in text as the Alcazar on a letter kept at the archives of the Cathedral​  ; the Alcazar was the residency of king Alfonso VIII

In the middle ages, for its security and proximity to the hunting areas the Alcazar became one of the favorite residencies of the kings of Castilla , especially Alfonso X.  The fortress was inhabited many times and was one of the most luxurious palace-castle of the 15C; it was witness to several major events such as the proclamation of queen Isabel la Catolica in 1474 and the awake Mass of king Felipe II and Anne of Austria in 1570 in the Chapel. The fortress served as a prison until 1762,and king Carlos III founded the Royal College of Artillery here (more later).  In  1862, fire destroyed the ceilings and roof, nobles rooms and they were rebuilt thanks to engravings done in 1839.

The layout of the fortress is around two areas, exterior with a patio,and well, bridge and tower keeps, and the interior rooms such as Chapel, several noble rooms. The tower keeps or Torre de Homenaje is square with four towerettes with a canon and terrace windows, been done by king John II and once a war room, you can see a nice view of the city and especially the neighborhood of Canonjias, Jewish quarters and Cathedral.  There are two stairs you need to pass to arrive to the top or about 156 steps most in a carrousel stair very narrow and inclined. Once crossing the gate you have access to the first stair where you can see the thickness of the wall, and at the end is the guards room and there is the spot where the night watchman slept. On top there are four levels and mostly used as a prison, the last prisioner here was General Berenguer in the 1930’s.

Segovia

entrance to the alcazar

Segovia

orangerie on the right of Alcazar

Segovia

courtyard interior

Segovia

patio of arms back towers

Segovia

right side moats alcazar

The interior has nice decorated rooms of great luxury and it houses the army museum or Museo de Armas as well as the military archives of Segovia, and historical archives oldest of the Spanish armed forces. Let me tell you about the utmost beauty of the interior rooms of the Alcazar, awesome.

The Sala del Palacio Viejo (difficult to translate all of this but it is close to the old palace room) it was built during the reign of king Alfonso VIII and the decoration shows arms of a Germanic style from the 15C.  The Sala de la Chimenea (chimney room) dates from the times of king Felipe II and the furniture is from the 16C, on the walls you see a portrait of Felipe II and another one of Felipe III,a Flemish tapestry of the 16C with the Our Lady and an Alcazar before the reform of the roof where we can see the former Cathedral of St Mary  that was in the square in front of the current Alcazar. The  Sala del Trono (throne room) the façade the communicates with the chimney room and still intact its mudejar Arabic original construction with a covered of armor done by 1456. The throne under the mold of the tapetries has a blason or flag of the Catholic Kings and a saying tanto monta or sort of so much rides from early the 15C.  On the walls you see portraits of the same Catholic Kings that were ordered by queen Isabel II. The window stained glass represent king Enrique IV of Castilla.

We continue in the interior with the  Sala de la Galera ( galleon room) it takes this name because the place shows the casque of a boat inverted ; the room was built by queen Catalina de Lancaster in 1412 when her son was still a minor future Juan II of Castilla.  On the windows you see stained glass representing king Enrique III of Castilla and his family and another of Enrique II with scenes from the death of Pedro I and Juan II.  On one of the walls is decorated with a painting representing the coronation of queen Isabel la Catolica as queen of Castilla and Leon in the Church of San Miguel  of Segovia. The  Sala de las Piñas  (pineapple room) on the ceiling you can see angels carrying the shield of arms of Castilla and Leon, the stained glass shows king Alfonso VII with his daughter Berenguela. The  Cámara Regia  (or great room) on the wall you can see scenes from the life of the Catholic Kings. The bed is covered with knitting and embroidery in gold. The Sala de los Reyes (kings room) king Felipe II  ordered it built statues corresponding to the kings of Asturias, Leon and Castilla.  One of the paintings in the room is a portrait of king Felipe II  and the other two portraits are of his two wives Isabel of Valois  and  Anne of  Austria.  The Sala del Cordón (cord room) has this name because the surrounding of the walls there is a cord long and golden. You arrive at the Chapel, there is a small Chapel in the sala de cordón  from where the king or queen listen to the Mass.  The arms room or Sala de Armas is here because the Alcazar house the arms of the old House of Trastàmara (the branch of Segovia of Queen Isabel the Catholic of Castille and Leon) and was the precedent from which the arms now were united in the Royal Armory of Madrid .

Segovia Segovia Segovia Segovia Segovia Segovia Segovia Segovia Segovia

Museo del Real Colegio de Artillería or the wonderful Royal College of Artillery museum houses many wonderful military objects as here was the Artillery Academy of Segovia founded in 1764 in the Alcazar in the times of king Carlos III. It is said to be the oldest military academy in the world in active duty ,this the  Real Colegio de Artillería de Segovia, in the Alcazar. Here was echo the call for independence from the invading armies of Napoléon I in May 2 1808 (Spain national independence day) that was led by the Artillery captains Luis Daoiz and Pedro Velarde (statues of them in front of the Alcazar now) that were former students of the academy. The current home of the artillery academy is on the former convent of San Francisco in Segovia (Calle San Francisco, 25) and many rooms and residences are in the business park ,poligono de Baterias in Segovia (Carretera de San Rafael S/N). More info here in Spanish: http://www.realcolegiodeartilleria.es/

Segovia Segovia Segovia Segovia

Some further webpages to help plan your visit here

The official Alcazar webpage: http://www.alcazardesegovia.com/

The region of Castilla y Leon on the Alcazar: http://servicios.jcyl.es/pweb/datos.do?numero=11675&tipo=inmueble&ruta=

Tourism of Segovia webpage: http://visitsegovia.turismodesegovia.com/es/monuments/alcazar

Hope you come here and share your pictures, this is a wonderful town, small enough to walk all over. and huge in Spanish history with marvelous architecture, love it. This is the Alcazar of Segovia!

Ah sorry for my memories, a photo of me in the Alcazar taken in 1990 from my late dear wife we were on our courtship trip in Sept 1990 married in Dec 1990 !!!!

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 24, 2018

How about those upscale beaches, La Baule!

Let me tell you about another place very popular with locals but seldom visited from abroad. The thing is you need a car, but is all worth it. This is just south of me and if talking about a beach town why not do it when its 27C or 80F outside and sunny.

Let me tell you about upscale La Baule-Escoublac just south of me.

La Baule-Escoublac is in the dept 44 of Loire Atlantique in the region of Pays de la Loire and part of the coastal Atlantique on the love coast between Le Pouliguen and Pornichet. There was a village of Escoublac from the 10C and twice rebuilt and replace in the 15C and then the 18C. Early in the 19C, investors came here seeking the potential of the bay of Pouliguen and create balls of sand and filled in to create a beach town of 8 km long so La Baule was born. And call La Baule-Escoublac, since 1962 even if can be call Escoublac-La Baule as well. La Baule is integrated into these dunes in the form of stairs that favors massive sand hills or dunes one is 55 meters high, one of the highest in France.

La Baule, for short, is 12 km from Saint Nazaire and 50 km from Vannes (my capital city) and 62 km from Nantes . It is served by the road D213 also known as the blue route or the Route Bleue  ,this road connects Les Moutiers en Retz to Guérande and is a major road on the coastal area of the dept 44 Loire Atlantique. It ends on the extreme west of the road D171; the town is also by passed by the D92 connecting the streets of avenues Maréchal-De-Lattre-de-Tassigny, Bois-d’Amour, l’Étoile, and avenue du Rhuys, allowing to reach Le Pouliguen to Pornichet via the center of La Baule ,and allows reaching the train station. The avenue Charles-De-Gaulle and avenue Lajarrige, are perpendicular to the roads D213 and D92, also, the main shopping streets in La Baule.

La Baule-Escoublac has two train stations one is the La Baule-Escoublac located at La Baule and the other is La Baule les Pins to the east of the town. The line Saint Nazaire to Le Croisic and onwards to Tours takes the local train transport and then there is a TGV service Paris Nantes Le Croisic that takes you to Paris in about 3 hours.

The beach is it here, and often call the most beautiful beach of Europe ! Surrounded by the districts of La Baule-les-Pins, La Baule-Centre and Casino-Benoît. From east to west or from Pornichet to Pouliguen you have the beaches of plage de la Grand Jument ,then the plage de la Petit Jument, at Pornichet and the plage de la Baule and after the plage Benoit; there is a foreshore of sand that has great quantity of shells. You can see the island or ile des Evens at 4 km from the beach which a coral island just a bit higher than the sea and has a beach of white sand in a sort of triangle shape. Here is my favorite beach webpage Plage.tv on la Baule beach. La Baule Beach

La Baule

La Baule beach

 

In 1787, there was a huge storm that damage the littoral and the salt sea marshes west of Escoublac as a consequence the parliament of Brittany ordered a dam of 400 meters long to contained the sea waves, finally finished in 1788 keeps apart the sandy marshes or balls from the dune in the south and still in the 21C serves as support for the avenue de Lattre –de- Tassigny in Pouliguen.  You have three levels of  architecture here, first the grand hotels or mansions, then the villas or castles and then the building and urban houses . You have hotels such as Hotel Mauspha from 1886, and then the Hotel de l’Institut Verneuil in 1896 that becomes the Hotel Royal in 1902 and the Hotel Castel Marie Louise in the belle époque style, the Tennis club build in 1925  as well as the Hotel Hermitage a anglo Norman palace hotel. The villas of  neo gothic and medieval inspiration such as the villa Ker Vary in 1896 , villa des Halles in 1912, and villa Pax. From 1920 the style is Anglo Norman, Basque, and Landais and from the 20C has different styles such as Art Nouveau, Art Déco, rationalism, Expressionists, Futurism, postmodernism, modernism international and from the 21C favoring the environment with natural products. The buildings are  the Le Bellevue Building,  7 floors done in 1928 and then the  Le Constellation (1959), the  Panorama ,and the Les Héliades (1960), and the  Spendid (1962). The  Santa Clara , aka the La Vague on the limits with Pornichet from 1979.

The coastal front  has  200 to 800 meters wide with 6 km long  and includes the sea front area and the neighborhoods of villas . the sea front has a band of 30-80 meters wide by 5 km long . The city center of La Baule has a market, and the avenues of Général-de-Gaulle and Maréchal-de-Lattre-de-Tassigny, the city hall, the train/bus station and the post office. The neighborhood of the beach plage Benoît is on the west of city center and reach the port of La Baule-Escoublac – Le Pouliguen.  The great hotels such as Hermitage Barriere, Royal Thalasso, Castel Marie-Louise, and the Majestic are all here as well as the Casino and the congress center Atlantia.

A bit of history on this beach town is that in June 1917 the coastal air protection squadron 484 known as La Baule-Escaublac was stationed here . The Casino was change into a military hospital . In WWII, the Nazis arrived in June 1940 and infantry division takes permanent residency , the aerodrome was taken as well ; however, the fight is minimal and not much notice.  The city was liberated 3 days after the surrended of the Nazis . The only other major event and much in vogue today by some fanatics, was that here in August 13 , 1940, Lluis Companys, the Catalan Nationalist and President of the Generalitat de Catalunya was arrested by the Gestapo here. He was interrogated in Paris and later transfer to Spain, eventually killed by firing squad in Barcelona on October 15 1940 .

Things to see other than the above beaches are

The lighthouse of Banche or phare de la Banche, the British military cemetery of Escoublac-la-Baule  at avenue de la Ville-Halgand keeping in peace 325 tombs of which 74 are still not identify, and Three Polish soldiers. Many of these soldiers were navy posted on the Lancastria that sank here in 1940 and soldiers that participated in the landing of the port of Saint Nazaire in 1942 on the operation called opération Chariot. There is the Church of  Saint-Pierre d’Escoublac  opened in 1786, at Escoublac, with a medieval style tower. Notre Dame Church built from 1931 to 1935 in the city center of neo roman style, with stained glass in the choir to the Virgin Mary; the Saint Theresa Church built from 1928 and rebuilt in 1972 . You have the Saint Anne Chapel built from 1880 to  1886 and extended by two nave in 1903. The town of La Baule-Escoublac ,also belongs to the regional natural park of the Briére or parc naturel regional de Briére. More on the park here in French: Parc Naturel Régional de la Briére

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this lovely upscale beach town are

La Baule city tourist page in English : http://www.labaule.fr/en/visits-and-discovery

Tourist office of La Baule : http://en.labaule-guerande.com/la-baule-et-la-baie.html

The department 44 Loire Atlantique tourism in French: https://tourisme-loireatlantique.com/selection/quoi-faire-a-la-baule/

Pays de la Loire region tourist office in English: https://www.paysdelaloire.co.uk/suggestions/la%20baule

Hope it help and time to get some splash around, this is wonderful, the parking if early can be had just on the main boulevard de l’Océan at plage de La Baule. Now all they need is you and me and all.

Remember, happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!

May 24, 2018

This is Cergy in Val d’Oise by the Oise river!!!!!

Ok so this is May, no rain and pure sun all around me, too bad still need to work, as the beaches are glorious nowdays. It is 25C or 77F folks, come over to my belle France.

So in my travels as I was saying, I have been to many places, and most never written on it. They are not on the tourist trail and nowhere in any travel book, but they are worth it for the real local experience and some facts about France to enrich your understanding of why France is the most visited country in the world, 85M latest figures. And no, it is not always Paris….

I like to talk a bit today about Cergy.   This is Cergy in the department 95 of Val-d’Oise in the région of Île-de-France.

Cergy is located on the right bank of the Oise river on the limits south of the park of the Vexin français at about 28 km from Paris. It is the principal city in the metro area of  Cergy-Pontoise. It is cross by the autoroute A15 towards Paris or Rouen, and cut on the La Francilienne N104 towards CDG airport, Versailles on the N186 etc.  The A15  ends at sortie or exit 9 in the district of Grand Centre between the wonderful and favorite shopping center of the  Trois-Fontaines the plains of  Saint-Martinin in Pontoise. However, the road continues without interruptions as the N14 and later the D14  by sortie or exit 13, and continues on as the scenic route to Rouen in Normandy; very nice indeed. The wonderful boulevard du Port takes you to Pontoise and Cergy-Village  as well as the very nice Port-Cergy; the D915 takes you as far as Dieppe in Normandy.  For public transports, Cergy is in zone 5 at the end of the line RER A ending at Cergy-le-Haut  and passing by Cergy-Préfecture  and Cergy-Saint-Christophe (my first job site was here in France !). The train stations of Cergy-Préfecture and Cergy-le-Haut have exchange poles to take you to several towns and bus depot such as well the intercity long distance buses even to CDG  Paris airport. The local public transport site is call STIVO,the network of the metropolitan area of Cergy-Pontoise.

My dear late wife, Martine ,  used to work for many years at CDG Roissy in cargo area for DHL Global Forwarding and she came by bus changing here at Cergy. The bus was the 95-18, now reading about it, no longer does the run!! Better than the trains! Just in case you need deliveries ! https://www.logistics.dhl/fr-fr/home/nos-divisions/expediteur-mondial.html

The shopping center or centre commercial les 4 Fontaines were a favorite for the grocery shopping at Auchan, the car rental Hertz, FNAC, Armand Thiery fashions,and the micromania games store. More here: https://www.3fontaines.com/

Being part of a new city or nouvelle villes of France , the history is surprisingly very short.  A bit of history I like; tells you a bit that the current town of Cergy is the union of several villages. Cergy  was first called Cergiacum in 1069 and Sergy in 1731,then other villages were Gency called Gentiacum in 1072, Menandon called Monlandon in 1135, Les Veaurois called Vaulx-Rouez in 1528, Le Brûloir, Ham  was annexed to Eragny sur Oise in 1687, then back to Cergy after the French revolution, and finally, Les Clobilles.

Things to see at Cergy

Saint Christophe Church at rue de Neuville, as Cergy was elevated to a parish in 1120, the monks of the priery of the abbey of Saint Denis built the first Church in the Roman style that today left only the belltower until the second level (3rd US) , the transept, and some chapters. From early 18C, the gothic choir was done to replace the roman one. This choir with the collateral chapels represent the principal elements of the Church today. The lateral Chapels of the organ and the sacristy were added in the 14C. The fortified gate and old tower of the priory next to the Church ,the current building was a modest construction in 1120 by Louis the Fat something like a lodging farm . Today, only is left the fortified tower and a pigeon tower; the south gate entrance to the Church once closed has recently been open and renovated . The pierre-Fouret also known as the menhir de Gency is a megalith stone in the village of Gency, rue de Vauréal,in the garden of the a retirement home today.

The major things to see here are the Axe majeur, in the district of the  Axe Majeur/Horloge done in a sculptural and garden style monuments from 1980. By 1985 ,Ricardo Bofill did a semicircular space around the original point of the Axe. It has great views of Paris; very relaxing place we came here often.

The other is the Port Cergy on the Oise river marina with yachts and nice contemporary housing and gardens given to the canals. A great entertainment place came here often for lunch or happy hour/after work/apéro ride bys as on the Old English Pub!  A bit more here on the dept tourist page:The Old English Pub

It has a nice pleasure boat marina. More on the port in French here: Port de Cergy

Another nice one is the Château de Gency  located on the road D922 near the village of Gency dominating the Oise river descending from one side of the road to the road chemin de halage with apple trees and cow pastures. The park has 5 hectares of space on a miniature Buttes-Chaumont of Paris look done during the Second Empire period. The place full of history was built in 1860, today the castle of  Gency  is a place for receptions. More here in French: Chateau de Gency

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and why not it is just a train ride from Paris.

City of Cergy on tourism in French: http://www.cergy.fr/notre-ville/lieux-cles/culture-patrimoine/lieux-remarquables/

Tourism Cergy in English: http://www.ot-cergypontoise.fr/Decouvrir/Sites-majeurs/Axe-majeur

Val d’Oise dept 95 tourist page in English: http://www.valdoise-tourisme.com/diffusio/en/to-see-and-to-do/culture/cergy/axe-majeur_TFO106499520181.php?tfo[gC]=|MoCulturePatrimoine|CulturePatrimoine|ComPlusAlpha||-TT|&tfo[page]=15#.WwUo-O6FPIU

Ile de France tourist page: http://en.visitparisregion.com/

The axe majeur of Cergy : https://www.axe-majeur.fr/menu-axe-majeur.html

There you have it something new in my blog that should have been on it long ago. Remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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May 23, 2018

How about Eragny! yes in Val d’Oise!

Ok so here I am on another sunny nice day and temps up to 24C or about 74F in my neck of the wood, looking at a nice tree park and decided to start this post on an unique aspect of my belle France.

As visitors, we tend to come to the famous places and many like it. France gets about 85M visitors and places like Paris about 32M visitors per year lately. However, as one who lives here,and travel everywhere not just to the famous and sparkling clean taxpayer supported sites (and some nice visitors) I like to take you places, not before written on the blog ,but I should have.

Let me tell you a bit about Eragny sur Oise. Our family love to come here when we lived in Versailles.

Eragny  is in the department 95 Val-d’Oise  in the region of Île-de-France. Locals sometimes call it Éragny-sur-Oise to differentiate from other similar name town of Eragny in France. The city is located in the left bank of the Oise river at about 30 km (about 19 mi) from Paris, and it is a member of the metropolitan area of the new city of Cergy-Pontoise,

This is one of the towns we went for the Art de Vivre shopping center, just because it had the Pizza Hut and Toys ‘R US stores nearest our home in  Versailles, and was easy on our runs to Normandy to pass by here on the A15. It is still there and even translated in English: https://art-de-vivre.klepierre.fr/Shopping

Eragny sur Oise

Toys R Us

Eragny sur Oise

Pizza Hut

Eragny sur Oise

toys R Us

It was , also convenient stop coming from CDG airport on the La Francilienne road N104 on our way home under the A15 by the N186 to Versailles. A bit further direction Paris,(or from Paris direction Rouen)  you can come as we did to a nice outlet stores mall  at Franconville off the A15 exit/sortie 4 ; the Quai des Marques for especially my brand names business suits and coats. It’s takes a bit time by public transport from Paris but with a car is always easier.  You can  take at Gare Saint Lazare the train  direction Gare d’Ermont Eaubonne and descend at the station of Sannois  from there take bus 261 to Franconville and walk 20 minutes to the shopping. Webpage: http://www.quaidesmarques.com/Franconville

A bit of history I like

Early in the 12C the lands and villages around here had the name of Erigny, belonging to the abbey of Saint-Martin-des-Champs . It was exposed on a cliff dominating the Oise river. Eragny was just a small village until the 20C.  It was in 1564 that a Jean d’Alesso, coming from Italy with Saint Francis of Paul purchase the lordship of Eragny.  His coat of arms are now the town. François d’Alesso, marquis of Eragny was governor general of the Antilles in Martinique by 1691 and their descendants were spread all over the area and preserve it until the French revolution when they were confiscated as immigrants expropiation lands. In the 20C, an important writer set up home here, this was  Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, author of  Paul et Virginie. He was a disciple of Rousseau, and took possession of a house here in 1804 that was the old presbytery, after his death in 1814 the town really came down to the sleepy town it is today.

Things to see in Eragny sur Oise

The Presbytère at  31 rue Bernardin-de-Saint-Pierre ,  it was built under the order of priest Sigogne in the middle of the 18C . Under the French revolution his successor died in the guillotine and the building change hands several times thereafter until given in 1804 to  Bernardin de Saint-Pierre  in exchange for a debt of the family. The writer known for his work call Paul et Virginie lived there the last ten years of his life until finally purchase by the city in 1834. The house of the fisherman or Maison des Pêcheurs at  24 rue de la Fontaine, this was built behind a guinguette bordering the Oise river for the Sunday fisherman  coming from Paris as the train station was close by . The ground floor has original pieces and can be reach ,those in the first floor (2nd US) are reach thru an exterior balcony. The front gates of the old Castle at  6 rue de Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône ,has two square  pylon that still is there of the castle of Alesso from the mid 16C . The castle came down even before the French revolution. The Saint Pie X Church built in the 1950’s to replace an older Church destroyed during WWII. The army stables, at the Clos du Manége, the army trained here in a horse complex of seven identical stables built early 20C.  It stop working in 1918  when the army set up headquarters in the city of Pontoise . One of these stables is used today for equestrian circle club.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here ,why not ,it is so close to lovely Paris!

Eragny sur Oise : https://www.eragny.fr/notre-ville/son-histoire-et-son-patrimoine/son-patrimoine

Tourism of Eragny sur Oise : http://www.ot-cergypontoise.fr/Decouvrir/Le-territoire/Eragny-sur-Oise

Dept 95 Val d’Oise tourist office : http://www.valdoise-tourisme.com/index-en.php

Ïle de France region tourist office: http://en.visitparisregion.com/

There you go ,enjoy it the find. Hope it helps expand your vision of my belle France. Remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

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