Archive for May, 2018

May 16, 2018

Valencia, the Cid and a lot more in sunny Spain!

This is one of those cities that should be visited more. I was here as a child when had my aunt on mother’s side living there in a farm just south of the city near El Saler; when we lived in Madrid we would go there as our “vacation” ; then, their passing took us a dry spell of many, many years, finally with my wife and boys ,we decided upon my request to visit the city. Not the greatest impact for all but good enough to enjoyed the sites especially the markets and the beach front. I am talking about Valencia, Spain.

Valencia a city by the mediterranean sea founded in 138BC by Roman consul Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus with the name of Valentia Edetanorum which later in the middle ages became the capital of the kingdom of Valencia. It’s old town area is the most extensive in all of Spain, 169 hectares! The main motorways of Valencia have a radial route, such as the V-21, the V-31, the A-3 (the one to go from Madrid), the V-15/CV-500, the CV-35 or the CV-36. But Valencia also has a series of beltway roads around it, you are the by-pass, the V-30, which joins the A-7 with the city port, or the CV-30, which borders the north area of the city. The International Airport is located about 8 km west of Valencia, on the territories of the municipalities of Manises and Poblet.

The metro/Subway/tube network of Valencia is the third oldest in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona. The Port of Valencia is one of the ports managed by the Port Authority of Valencia (Valenciaport) ;the passenger Terminal of the Port of Valencia is managed by the shipping company Acciona Transmediterranea and has all the necessary services to Meet the demand of cruise ship owners: assistance to the crew, gangways for direct access to ships, passenger parking, gift shops, duty free, etc.

The natural park of the Albufera has  21 120 hectares located just 10 km south of the city on the way to El Saler which is right on the tip of it. The park includes the Lake Albufera. Its environment is humid, and adjacent to both the coastal strip. The marshes of Rafalell and Vistabella, with an area of 103 hectares, is one of the last marshes that extends to the north of the river Turia at Alboraya Sagunto, which shoots the groundwater and the irrigation. La Horta of Valencia (vegetable garden) was born in the Roman Empire , but what is really today the Horta of Valencia was developed in the Middle Ages, during the Arabic period.  Arabs have created an extensive network of irrigation infrastructures: irrigation canals; Wells; and small dams. This network is derived from the canals of the Turia and allows to the formation of marshes carrying large amounts of water to the irrigation fields.

A bit of history I like

In 711, the city was taken by the Arabs/Moors. Abd al-Allah, the son of Abd al-Rahman I, (first Emir of Cordoba), settled in Balansiya (name of the city in Arabic) and exercised his authority over the region of Valencia.  The Arabs imported their language, religion and customs, but coexistence with Hispanic people is done in a peaceful way. The assimilation of the indigenous population to the Muslim religion and the Arab culture was very rapid, since it was estimated that by the end of the 10C, Christians and Jews represented only 10% of the population. Within the taifa of the Amirides (descendants of Almanzor), Valencia is a city with an important influence.

Here comes the story of El Cid or Rodrigo for my post, who was then staying in Zaragoza, besieges Valencia and takes over the city in July 1093. A skillful politician or an inveterate warrior, Rodrigo does not seem to have aspired to exercise power directly. The arrival of a Almoravid army sent by Emir Youssef Ibn-Tashfin led the Valencians to shake the yoke again. As the Almoravids ran out of food without an arrow being blow, Rodrigo besieged the city again. After vainly awaiting the arrival of reinforcements, Valencia, decimated by hunger, capitulates on June 15, 1094. Rodrigo allied with Pedro I of Aragon and Raimond-Berenguer III of Barcelona with the aim of curbing the constant progression of the Almoravid. In 1096, the Great Mosque was transformed into a church. Then, in 1097, Jérôme de Périgord, acclaimed and elected by the chapter, consecrated by the hand of the Roman Pontiff, was named Bishop of the city. Rodrigo continued to consolidate his power on the Levant, notably with the capture of Murviedro (Sagunto), in 1098, Rodrigo El  Cid died in Valencia on July 10, 1099. Chimenea his wife succeeded in defending the city with the help of his son-in-law Raimond-Berenguer III Count of Barcelona, until 1101 when King Alfonso VI of Castilla ordered the evacuation of the city. From 1102, the family of the El Cid and his companions abandoned the city to the Almoravids. Valencia will only be recaptured definitively from the Arabs moors in 1238, by king Jaime I of Aragon. In 1391, the Christians forced the jewish to convert to Christianism or face death;by 1456 the Muslims face the same dilemma. The 15C is known as the golden age of Valencian culture, and since 1437 the Holy Chalise is preserved in the Cathedral of Valencia.

In the war of Independence vs Napoleon’s invasion,the first battle here took place on 28 june 1808 and you can still see the canons shots in the tower of Quart and lower base on fields around it. The city felled under command of Marshal Suchet on January 8 1812 after a long siege  and lasted until the end of the war in 1814.  In 1936 during the Spanish Civil War Valencia becomes the capital of Republican Spain until 1939.

There is so much to see in Valencia city alone, its incredible. You really several days here. Things to see and do in Valencia, general brief overview. 

Valencia has two urban beaches of golden sand, Las arenas and the beach of Malvarrosa, which are bounded by south the Port of Valencia and north the beach Patacona Alboraya. They are urban beaches, which have a large promenade where there are many large premises, which occupy old public baths, and offer a wide choice of accommodations and local cuisine. There are other beaches like those of Pinedo, with the area of the Black house where the beach is nudist, of Perellonet, of Recatí and the Gola del Perello, more than 15 km of coasts of sand (protected by dunes), which constitute an offer of large beaches , in the heart of the Albufera Natural Park. A must the beaches, Malvarrosa and Las Arenas are right in the city easy.

The royal Chapel of the Virgin of the Forsaken, (Real Capilla de la Virgen de los Desamparados) with Basilica category from 1872, was made between 1652 and 1666 the temple dedicated to Saint Catherine Martyr, located in the Plaza Virgen de la Paz, rose on a previous mosque and in 1245 had already acquired the rank of parish Church. It consists of a single nave, with lateral buttresses between which the chapels were placed. It is the only one of the Gothic churches of the city with an ambulatory in the headrests, like the cathedral the Primitive Church of the Saints Johns was raised in the suburb of the city known as the Boatella, where and located an old mosque. The old hermitage was erected before 1240 on the mosque in the newly erected temple preached St. Vincent Ferrer and there offered his first sermon on the day of St. John the Baptist.  The Church of San Juan del Hospital was the first church built in Valencia, behind the cathedral, as a priory of the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. St. Mary’s Cathedral of Valencia  is a must.


Basilica de los Desemparados or forsaken

The Monasterio de San Miguel de los Reyes isan important work of the Valencian renaissance that according to some authors can be considered as precedent of the monastery of El Escorial, being like this, Jerónimo Monastery, cultural focus and church commemorative of the memory of its Founder. The first stone was placed in 1548 by the bishop and  Fernando of Aragon, Duke of Calabria. The construction of the monastery lasted during the 17C, beginning the church of the monastery from 1601 in 1821 the disentailment of the liberal three years abolished the Jerónima community in 1835 the definitive secularization is produced, passing the monastery ,and their properties at the hands of the state. It is now the home of the Valencian library or Biblioteca de Valenciana. Located in the Avenida de la Constitucion.

There were crosses, which in the Crown of Aragon were used to be called peirones and in other places wayside shrines, were located in the paths to mark the limits of the city ; the one cross covering the Camino Real de Játiva, is still visible on the  current Calle San Vicente. It is a gothic work carried out in the year 1376 (14C) by an unknown author. Between the years 1432 and 1435 (15C) ,the Master of Works Juan del Poyo and the Carver Johan Llobet renewed the cross on behalf of the factory (Fàbrica) of Murs and Valls, and in the 16C the temple restored itself and in 1898 (19C) José Aixá carried out a complete reconstruction of the work.

The building of La Lonja de la Seda is a masterpiece of the Valencian Civil Gothic located in the historical center of the city; Gothic-Renaissance style is the Palacio de Benicarló, the current headquarters of the Valencian courts. This building is an aristocratic mansion, which was built in the 15C as a residence of the Borja family in the capital of the ancient kingdom of Valencia. Between the years 1485 and 1520, adaptation activities of several pre-existing buildings were carried out, as well as the construction of the stone staircase of the patio the palace of the Valencian government is also a building late gothic with interventions Renaissance dating back to the 15C. The construction of the palace began in the year 1421, expanding in the 16C. In 1831 the territorial courts hearing was installed, which in 1922 became the provincial council.  The towers of Serranos are one of the twelve gates that guarded the old wall of the city of Valencia. Las Torres de Quart, a pair of twin towers, also formed part of the medieval wall that surrounded the old town of Valencia, whose function was defend the city. These towers are located at the intersection of Calle Guillén de Castro with Calle Quart.

The Palace of the Marquis de Dos Aguas ( two waters), as it is known today, is the product of a radical reform carried out on the old manor house of the Rabassa of Perellós, holders of the marquis of Dos Aguas, in the decade of 1740 (18C) in a Rococo style houses the National Museum of Ceramics and the arts sumptuary González Martí with one of the most important collection of ceramics in Spain and Europe.In 1914 it became the seat of the Palace of Justice the Plaza Redonda, of singular round perimeter, was built in 1840 ,and is located next to the Church of Santa Catalina and the Plaza de la Virgen, in the historical center of the City.


Santa Catalina Church

The bullring of Valencia was built between the years 1850 and 1860 (19C) on the site of a previous square that because of budget problems was never finished. It is neoclassical, inspired by Roman civil architecture. There is, also, a bullfighting museum, which was founded in 1929 with funds from the donation of Luis Moróder Peiró and the bull chopper José Bayard Badia, which for years collected a significant number of materials and objects of Valencian bullfighting of the 19C to the 20C .


bullfight arena Valencia

The City/town hall (Ayuntamiento)  of Valencia integrates in a slightly trapezoidal block  two constructions of period and style well differentiated: the Casa de Enseñanza or house of Teaching, built by the initiative of the Archbishop Don Andrés Mayoral, between 1758 and 1763; and the building body (the main façade), made between the second and third decades of the  20C in a marked modernist style another of the most important modernist buildings of Valencia is the Estacion del Norte or North station, built between the years 1906 and 1917 the building of the Mercado Central market is also another construction of Valencian modernist style and began to be built in the year 1914 ;the Mercado de Colón (where we parked underground parking!!!) is another clear example of Valencian modernism of the early 20C. This market was designed and built  between the years 1914 and 1916.

The Puente 9 de Octubre or 9th of October Bridge was built in the 1980’s by the then still not recognized Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, by the Bridge of the exhibition (Puente de la Exposicion) and the metro station of the Alameda, which is located under the old channel of the river Turia to which you have to go down to access the station. These works were inaugurated in the year 1995 the complex of the City of Arts and Sciences, also designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela, one of the most popular areas of the city. Since,  1998 when the hemispheric (Hemisférico) was inaugurated, and in 2009 with the opening of the Agora. The Museum of Fine Arts St. Pius V and the IVAM (Institut Valencià d’Art Modern) , which are spaces in which permanent collections can be seen as well as temporary.

The botanical garden managed by the University of Valencia, the Royal garden or pots (Jardines Real) in the neighborhood of Pla del Real right where it was located the Royal Palace of Valencia(Palacio del Real de Valencia). Along the vast and nice Paseo de la Alameda you reach it from the sea, today it has a bit over a km walk between the Puente del Real and the Puente de Aragon bridges. The promenade without garden goes for 2,5 km from Plaza Zaragoza to Grao Cemetery. The parterre lawn or Plaza de Alfonso the Magnanimous was built on some existing plots in the old Customs square (Plaza de la Aduana), more or less in the year 1850, since its creation the garden has undergone very few variations, emphasizing fundamentally that due to the flood of 1957 which damaged this garden, thereby changing its morphology. The gardens of Saveros (which include the gardens of Montroy), the Jardín de Monforte  or the gardens of the Túria, former bed of the river Túria, which was deviated from the city center in the 1960’s after the Last flood of 1957. The Oceanogràfico, a oceanarium, a zoological park of 8 hectares, the Biopark Valencia, takes place west of the city by the Turia river too.

Main festivities in Valencia in my opinion are

From March 15 to March 19 the days and nights in Valencia are a continuous party, but since March 1 are shot every day at 14h (2pm)  the popular Mascletás. Fallas is a party with an entrenched tradition in the city of Valencia and different populations of the Valencian Community .yes the Fallas!  Easter has its prolongation with the festivity in honor of St. Vincent Ferrer,(who also is a revered Saint in Brittany and his body rests at the St Peters Cathedral of Vannes!)  Patron of the community canonized by the Pope Calixto III (Alfonso Borja, Spanish). This day is customary to visit the birthplace of the saint (currently a chapel), where it is “the Pouet of Sant Vicent” of which the children are given to drink ,so that they speak soon, they do not suffer from angina, they do not swear false or they are blasphemous. On the second Sunday of May the City of Valencia celebrates the festivity of the Virgin of the Forsaken (Desemparados), popularly known as “La Geperudeta”, affectionate allusion to the slightly stooped posture of one of the images of this vocation of the Virgin. The Corpus Christi procession has historically been considered the big festival of Valencia, especially since the last third of the 14C. The history of this festival begins in the year 1355. And of course ,when in Valencia is the time to eat Paella, the original and always the best , the dish of Valencia , which was originally a humble dish cooked by the inhabitants of the swamp of Albufera mainly of chicken, rabbit, duck, snails, legumes and fresh vegetables (later many variations have come forward). A legend ,I was told by the elders is that the name PAELLA is a contraction on how we speak cutting letters to speak faster so Para Ella or For Her became pa’ella and it was the fisherman out to sea for days to bring the food in to the families and the wives stayed behind to do everything else…One day a fisherman decided that they should all gathered their catch and prepare a dish for the wives, so they did and when a name was called, simply stayed well it is for them/her so PAELLA. I stick to this version.

Some further information to help you plan your visit to the city of Valencia.

Tourism of Valencia :

 Ciyt of Valencia in Spanish :

Spain tourism on Valencia:

Hope you enjoy the post, and maybe take a look at Valencia! Happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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May 14, 2018

La Rochelle in the Atlantic ocean!

This is one of our favorite cities in France , really, that is saying a lot when you have visited zillions of villages here over the years. It was found by chance, as my oldest son studied hotelerie/restaurant in Paris and needed a semester of on hands study here several years back. He came back very happy of the experience ,and we that had by passed the town on several occassion decided it was time to visit. We did for several days renting an appart hotel just by the museums in Gabut neighborhood. Oh yes I am talking about La Rochelle.

I like to go into the general history and a brief description of what is there to see as to how to get here next.

La Rochelle is in departément 17 of the Charente-Maritime in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. It is located on the borders of the Atlantic Ocean in the esplanade at sea of Pertuis d’Antioche and protected by barriers islands such as Ré, Oléron, and Aix. It is therefore, an important port and since the 12C, holding the title of  Gate to the Ocean or Porte Océane with three harbors marinas fishing, commercial and pleasure .

To give you an idea of the central location of the city even if a sea port let me tell you about the distances ok. It is at 472 km southwest of Paris link by the N11 and A10 now ; only 63 km from Niort, 125 km from Poitiers, 130 km from Angouléme, 147 km south of Nantes, and 187 km north of Bordeaux. Many roads by passes it in addition to the N11 and A10 above, you have the D137 and A837 as well as the N141. Nearby towns are close too such as Saintes only 70 km, by the A837, 30 km north of Rochefort by the D137 and to the island or ïle de Ré by a bridge or pont de l’île de Ré (just wonderful see my previous post on the island). You have ample bus transportation in the area first the RTCR has buses covering La Rochelle and the suburbs and the Ocecars has 11 linles covering the adjacent towns after that. There is a great train station in Gare de La Rochelle and an extension of the line to service the great cruise port of la Pallice.

La Rochelle

La Rochelle was a village from the 10C , the château fort de Vauclair built early 12C by the lords of Mauléon and Rochefort, later Guillaume X Duke of Aquitaine became lord of La Rochelle in 1130. He gave the town a ramparts and a charter of free port and once the English market opened after the marriage of Aliénor d’Aquitaine in 1152 the presence of the Templars and knights of St John of Jerusalem gave the town the biggest port in the Atlantic. The town passes from the kingdom of France king Louis VII to the king of England Henri II Plantagenêt; by 1224 Louis VIII annexed the town to the royal domain; in 1360 by the treaty of Brétigny, the town goes back to the kingdom of England. IN 1371 the locals send off the English out of the castle but left open the gates to Duguesclin ,that after confirmation by king Charles V of the privilidges to the town insuring to remain in royal possession of France.

In the 16C the doctrine of Calvin weights heavy here and La Rochelle becomes one of the principal centers of Protestants with many sieges of it by king Charles IX in 1573 and 1628 by Richelieu himself with heavy resistant by the mayor Jean Guiton that had built a digue of 1500 meters to isolate the city from the sea and his English allies, done but surrended the city to king Louis XIII eventually. By 1822 there was the conspiracy of the four sargents or Quatre Sergents a secret society of mostly sub officers that were trying to overcome the Restoration (king back in power ) they were discovered in time put in prison in Paris first where they were condemn to die and executed. This sentence made them martyrs of king Louis XVIII and at La Rochelle, that is why I am writing on it, they were initially imprisoned at the tour de La Lanterne where the graffitis can still be seen.

Some of the great men who passed by here included François Rabelais that he mentioned in his masterwork Pantagruel, the military engineer Choderlos de Laclos who first wrote dangerous liaisons or Liaisons dangereuses in 1782 and visit the city in 1786. Eugéne Fromentin is a writer painter native of La Rochelle, with his novel Dominique he wrote of life in the city in the 19C. Guy de Maupassant wrote about it in his work L’Epave in 1886. And many others.

To walk is to marvel of the best of France , it is a fortified city and just lovely we really fell for it. Many memories now of my other half.  Some of the nicest walks are in the quartier du Gabut or neighborhood nice and museums , Cours des Dames with boatbuilders houses, Rue Sur les Murs linking the tour de La Chaîne to the Tour de La Lanterne, and the Quai Duperré full of cafés  and facing the big clock or grosse horloge the statue of admiral Duperré born here in 1775 and leader of the fleet that took Algers in 1830. A main street is the Rue du Palais, Rue Chaudrier with wooden houses with a sculpture of Ronsard, at the end of this street on a small garden you see the house call Maison Henri II built in 1555 because done in his style of construction. Grande Rue des Merciers, loaded with shops and homes of the  17C ,and the rue de Minage covered with old arcades with very old houses such as no 43 ,22, 4 ,and 2 .The old port or Vieux Port is gorgeous with its towers or Tour Saint Nicolas, and Tour de la Chaine, and Tour de la Lanterne only left from the ramparts covering the town in 1628 mostly demolished by Richelieu. The gate or Porte de la Grosse Horloge kept the entry to the city from the old town still in medieval conditions   You see the remarkable city hall or Hôtel de Ville in the renaissance style and many buildings from the 17C and 18C like the chamber of commerce old Bourse or stock house.

La Rochelle

The city has wonderful parks too amazing. The two we like and biggest are the parc Charruyer created from 1887 on 40 hectares on military lands that were swampy with marshes located at the foot of the fortifications west of town dating from the ramparts of 1685; the park was finished in 1890 and originally was called the parc Monceau   of La Rochelle. It gives to the   Allées du Mail which at the summit you have the parc Franck Delmas, name after a local resistance fighter assassinated for his acts by the nazis in WWII. Before this part was private but now it is public with its wonderful Villa Fort Louis in the center of the park of 7 hectares and this park was renovated in 1999 due to the storm Martin.

At the beginning there were pools of sea water here and centers of Thalassotherapy from the 18C then the beach was open at Plage de la Concurrence and the town exploded with beachgoers from 1907. Other beaches followed such as those of the plage des Minimes in 1978, later plage de Chef de Baie and Plage d’Aytré. At the extreme point of the plage des Minimes you find the Phare du bout du Monde (lighthouse at the end of the world) a replica of the one in Cap Horn off South Africa. The lighthouse is in wood in an octagonal form with lights of 7 lamps with colza oil   good vision for 26 km at an angle of 93 degrees . One of the best aquarium in Europe that of La Rochelle in the neighborhood of the Gabut just on the other side of the old harbor has 10K animals from all the world in 3K sq meters of water divided into 65 basins. A nice visit indeed.

La Rochelle

You have the principal religious temples here such as Saint Louis Cathedral , Chapel of Notre Dame de l’Esperance, Church of Notre Dame de Cougnes, ,and Church of Saint Sauveur. Several museums here my favorites are the bunker museum or musée du bunker de la Rochelle on a real bunker of 280 square meters recounting the history of WWII here. Fine arts museum or Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Rochelle since 1845 on the old bishop’s house in city center with local painters. Natural history museum or Muséum d’Histoire naturelle since 1831 in the governor mansion given by Napoléon in 1808, the New World Museum or musée Nouvelle Monde given history from the 16C on what the locals have done in the world. The marine or musée maritime on floating and on land with 8 heritage boats in the basin of the old port allowing you to see the meteorological boat France 1. The automated museum or musée des Automates the first in France a collection of automated toys from all over Europe and all periods. Wonderful as well as the reduce models museum or Musée des Modéles Réduits.


Many wonderful events here to check it out to be here at the time and reservations in advance. In May, Jazz Around La Rochelle since 2001 traditional jazz in a New Orleans ambiance wonderful. In June the Festival international du film since 1973 second only to Cannes in France;in July, the Francofolies since 1984, French music concerts and discovery of new talent. The Grand Pavois, in September lasting a week, the biggest international on water boat salon at the port des Minimes.

More information to help you enjoy your visit here can be found in the below official links.

The city of La Rochelle on tourism in English:

La Rochelle tourist office in English:

Department 17 Charente Maritime tourism

Region of Nouvelle Aquitaine tourism

Enjoy La Rochelle, we really did and fond memories of it. There is so much to see just in France sometimes we take time in coming back to things we saw, but this one is high on the list for a return soon. As I said, 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:

Tourist office in English here:

Tourist office region of Normandy on castle Gaillard in English:

The dept Eure tourist office on les Andelys:

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

Another dandy at Beauregard!

And back on the routine for the times for the memory and the good deeds. On a cloudy cool 10C Sunday (about 50F) rain a bit overnight not now. I am back on my desk to do something in my blog. Memories, yes I remember the Château de Beauregard. We came here by chance, going between Amboise and Blois and saw it on the map, so we took a quick detour and saw this wonderful pretty castle still in private hands. The family love it.

It is secluded in a deep forest off a narrow tree line road at the village of Cellettes ;of course you need a car to come here.  From Paris on the autoroute A10 and get off at exit/sortie 17  at Blois, go thru city center on avenue de Chateaudun then right at rue Denis Papin cross bridge pont Jacques Gabriel hit the avenue Wilson same continuation is road D956 direction Cheverny , about halfway once out of Blois and Cheverny you will see on panel to make you turn right into the Chateau de Beauregard. Go on the narrow tree line road to the castle on the left before castle there is open air free parking.

The Château de Beauregard, dates from the 16C and it is located in the town of Cellettes in the department of Loir et Cher no 41 region of Val de Loire-Centre about 10 km south of Blois. The must visit here is to see its gallery of personages or galerie des Illustres.  The castle is in the borders of the forest of Russy, on the ruins of a Chapel dating from before the 15C that you can still see in the park, has engrave on a stone the shell of the pilgrims of St James of Compostela and their symbol written God saw it or Dieu le Voit.


Property of the Doulcet family ,it was mainly Jean Doulcet, master of the chamber of the last duke of Orleans, Charles. In 1495 Louis d’Orléans (future king Louis XII) raise these lands into a lordship and authorised the building of a pigeon house. The sons of Jean Doulcet were taken away their properties by king Louis XII for fraud to the Crown in the campaigns of Italy and the castle became Royal property. In 1521, king François Ier uses the castle as a meeting for hunting and offered it to his uncle René de Savoie that perished in the battle of Pavia in 1525 and the property comes to his widow. In 1545, the property is sold to Jean du Thier, secretary of State in charge of finances by king Henri II, he was a great humanist, protector of the poets Joachim du Bellay and Pierre de Ronsard. Jean du Thier was really recognised as the builder of the castle.


Jean du Thier had built or attached the main body of the old castle to the new building done in the Renaissance style on the central gallery that links the two buildings and used as living quarters. From 1553 the interior decoration is done by calling upon various artists from abroad that worked for the king Henri II. At the foot of the windows on the south wing, a garden is created on the renaissance style as well showcasing rare botanical plants that the owner loves.

The next period of importance in the construction of the castle came with Paul Ardier in 1617, he was just retired from services of 55 years to kings Henri II, Henri IV,and Louis XII. He was controller of the war, grand treasurer of the accounts, and already age of 72 yrs. He dedicates his life to improved and renovate the castle. Destroyed the old central bodies to surrounded the central gallery with two modern symmetrical wings, and gives the common areas the look you see today. His major work and the castle main work was the creation of the gallery of the famous or personages or Galerie des Portraits or Illustres that continues to be improved by the next two generations of owners including Gaspard de Fieubet, chancellor of the queen mother Anne of Austria. The property of Beauregard is raise to viscount by king Louis XIV.

Passing by several owners again, we arrive at 1850 when Jules count of Cholet becomes the new owner that eventually gets the castle nominated to a historical monument of France and stayed in his family for 62 years. By 1912, Louis Thillier as owner starts a huge project of modernisation and restoration, and eventually the castle passes in 1925 to the Gosselin family from where the Count Guy du Cheyron du Pavillon comes and continues the restoration of the castle and the gallery of personages   with his wife to our days.

What to see here ;well ,the Galerie des Illustres. Located in the 2nd floor US it measures 26 meters long and 6 meters wide with 327 portraits on three levels and twelve panels each. Each portrait is painted on a fabric measuring about 55 cm by 45 cm and represented in bust except king Henri IV and Louis XIII; the great equestrian portrait of king Henri IV is on top of the chimney of the 16C. The 14 portraits of personages that surrounded it are smaller size then the rest of the collection. The portrait of king Louis XIII covers the three levels of the paintings. The number of portraits by king varies like for king Philippe IV you see 6, and Charles VII 21, Louis XIII has 40 portraits. The dates of their reign as well as the symbols of the kings are painted on the wooden bars between the floor and the portraits.

In France by the end of the 16C the taste for galleries of portraits is expanded, the first ones came to us by those ordered by king Henri IV at the Louvre or by Cardinal Richelieu in his palace or Palais Royal ,and gave the influence for those at Beauregard. Other collections in France but with a different theme are those from the 17C at the Château de Bussy-Rabutin in Burgundy, and the Château de Neuville at Gambais in 1939 with 192 grand names in the history of France from king François Ier to the French revolution of 1789. Another one is from the 19C at the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau by the marquis of Biencourt started collection from 1830 with 300 portraits that eventually were given to their descendants and by the Viscountess of Montaigne-de-Poncins in 1939 to the Musée Condé de Chantilly, (see post) where they are kept today.

Other nice part of the Castle of Beauregard is the Cabinet des Grelots ,completively surrounded by wood of oak in the Italian tradition of Studiolo. Originally, this room was connected to the gallery by a small door that in the 17C was closed when the collection of portraits was created. The ceiling of peg casing is one of the most beautiful in France. It is composed of a big octagonal surrounded by 8 small hexagons finely sculpture; at the center of the ceiling you see the arms of Jean du Their (blue in three grelots posted 2 on one with the golden grelots in a blue background). On the upper part of the wooden work are engraved the portraits done by local artists where Jean du There is surrounded by his favorite activities such as ; the arts, paintings, sculpture, literature, music, and jewerly as well as physic activities like the art of war, hunting and tennis. In the 17C Paul Ardier covered the original chimney with the arms of his family. There is a big portrait of king Louis XIII on horse decorating the chimney until the 20C, it disappeared in 1925 and the Gosselin family ordered the Louvre museum a copy of Diane the hunter by François Clouet.

The park garden surrounding the castle has 70 hectares with 40 hectares of garden and the rest forest. There are since 1992 a portraits garden or Le jardin des Portraits with 12 gardens imitating the 12 groups of portraits in the gallery of the castle. The colors of each room is symbolic associated with a personage or an event told in the gallery of castle like showing as example one of the rooms is in red associated to the blood shed in the massacre of Saint Barthélemy. There is a freezer or glaciére in the castle renovated in 2008 but dating from the 17C with a technical innovation not well known to the general public; these building was used to stock ice and the conservation of food all year long.

More information to help you plan your visit here and it is worth a detour are:

The local tourist office Blois Chambord region

The regin val de loire tourist office :

Local info on the castle on the city hall of Cellettes :

Another dandy castle in the Loire, you will love with the family , the portraits makes for an interesting conversation indeed.  The post in my blog gives more directions to get there, a car is a must. Enjoy the Sunday, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all.

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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. 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. 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


Grande Plage 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

Taxi Fontainebleau Avon : 06 77 94 10 06

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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May 10, 2018

A wonderful garden full of memories! Penhouët.

I want to make a quick post on a wonderful garden. This was found by driving on the expressway N165 from home to Vannes. We saw this planting going on and right away my wife thought this was a garden greenhouse new place been put up.

We waited to be done and she immediately ask me to go there. The family went at exit 29 Arradon on the N165 and go on a small road C5 communal along the expressway until you reach the Pépiniére de  Penhouët in city limits of Plescop.  Huge planting, all kinds of trees and flower plants, landfill dirt and just wonderful service.

My wife fell in love with it, and as she was an avid gardener (me just pay and load!) we came here often ever since about 3 yrs ago. The plants and trees change seasons and we continue to come back. Over  5 hectares and over 120K plants!!!

You have free parking and the garden is right around you, you walk up the main office and warehouse. You can walk all over the garden and or ask help at any time. The service is nice and well informed; you won’t go wrong here.

The official site in French is here:  Pépinière de Penhouët


hilly levels in garden at penhouet


plants trails at penhouet

One of her last wish was she wanted to plant a rose plant in front of the house. Unfortunately she could not due to the f cancer. So therefore, the family on her side gave us the money to buy the rose plants. Of course, we came here with the boys to buy them, 3 of them in different colors. And the filling dirt as well.


rose plants of different color to honor Martine

Tomorrow is May 10 or Ascension Day in France , this is a holiday here. The rising of Christ to his Father. So we are off, and we,also have the bridge or pont of Friday so it is a long weekend and heavy traffics. So we did good in buy it today. We will plant the rose plants tomorrow , me and the boys. Ok update, the roses are planted all looking nice some pictures of the work done. IN memory of mama Martine.


mauve rose penhouet


red yellow rose penhouet


meilland yellow red trim rose penhouet


digging for roses


covering manure dirt on roses


covering roses with manure dirt


done roses planted and son looks on

roses planted and our dog Rex jumps the walls to inspect the work


roses spread out ready for planting

I have given news on the garden center before, this time is a post only on them. I will put some pictures and post it online in my blog.  I take this opportunity to thank from the bottom of my heart all those that either has done a “I Like” in my sad posts , commented or email me in private, thank you very much.

Life goes on, as all tells me. I should be there for my boys. Of course, all is nice. However, you know life will not be same, we just go on surviving with the strength of my 3 boys. I will see what I do to continue the postings as travel will be less, less fun. Thanks.

And ,remember, happy travels are always good for you, good health is a must, and many cheers makes the trip a lot better and fun. Cheers!!




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May 9, 2018

The wine news of France!

What better way to start my regular posts in my blog than talking about a favorite of mine all my life. The wines if you tap wines in my search front page you will see the history of my involvement with it. There has been some good news and interesting facts about it lately.

First, on this day May 8 1945 WWII ended in Europe and it is celebrated here in France as a holiday, so we are all off and some use the bridge on Monday too. Then May 10 Thursday is Ascension Day off and the bridge off on Friday 11th; a great long week.

A great men of wine I have followed for several years and enjoyed his wines is Bernard Magrez, owner of four Grands Crus Classés in Bordeaux, and about 40 other domains in the world. Taking aim at developing new vineyards and also to take position in new territories. Recently, he purchase the Château de Sartre and its 33 hectares in the appellation Pessac-Léognan. The castle was owned by the Perrin family, and produces 140000 bottles two thirds red and one third white each year. Now, it will allow Bernard Magrez to offer a complete line of Pessac-Léognan wines of high quality such as Château Pape Clément, Clémentin, the second wine and now Château Le Sartre of which the bottle price sits around 18€ in France. This latest purchase will allow a domaine of land of 54 hectares in the Haut-Médoc bordering his other property the Château La Tour Carnet that has itself 180 hectares. The idea is to increase the production of the second wine of La Tour Carnet. He had also made an acquisition of a property of 1,5 hectares in Pomerol as well to add to his portfolio which includes one hectare of Châteauneuf-du-Pape as well as a sign promise to developed wine in the country of Georgia. More here:

A bit on the outlook for the year 2017 wines from several sources I use. Last April 20/21 and later April 27/28 there were very cold temperatures in the Pessac-Léognan area going down to -3C and even lower in the Médoc at -5C. The grapes were so advance that the bunches were not only burned by the cold but also some early developing bunches of grapes too. The return to Spring in May allowed the flowering to be fast and unison as well as the heat of June helps the growth of the vines in the areas touch by the cold weather. The conditions were very helpful especially to the white grapes varieties such as the Sauvignon blanc that started in August 16 under the sun, a record of early heat and those of Sémillon were extended to September 15. The reds the situation is more unique as the merlots early ripers got the full of the precipitations of early September, and the harvest in many needed to be advance to avoid the rotten phenomenon.  The Cabernet Sauvignons the maturation is slower and were help by the return of the dry and sunny weather from September 20th and were able to be harvest in good conditions.

Finally, the consensus is that 2017 will produce very yummy , fresh, and cracking wines with a lot of body. OF course, the quality is not for all. On the left bank or rive gauche north of Médoc the wines were spare the cold, such as Saint-Estéphe, Pauillac and Saint Julien will get very good wines.  The situation is mix in the Margaux with a quality production and some wines bearing the effect of the cold with vegetable notes and hard tannins. It is the same with more important proportions in Listrac and Moulis . More on the south, at Pessac-Léognan we have a double situation; Pessac was spare but not Léognan.  The appellation gives excellent whites even more superiors than 2015 or 2016, while the reds are ok on the properties save from the cold. On the right bank or rive droite, the situation is more complex. The grand crus were little impacted by the climatic incidents of April , except the area between Figeac and Cheval-Blanc. Pomerol had a double vintage with great wines on the plains but those properties in the beltway of the appellation had less luck.

The world wine production was affected by the climatic waves in Europe and had a reduction of 8,6% in 2017. This is their lowest level in the last 60 years! Total production was 250 millions hectoliters against 273M in 2016 according to the numbers provided by the International wine organization in French OIV. In Italy, the first world producer it came down 17% in value and 19% in France the second producer due to the cold spell in the Bordeaux area, but also, Charentes, Jura ,and the Alsace pain in third place went down 20% as ell while the USA came down only 1%, been the 4th world producer . China going up to the 7th world position just behind Australia, and Argentina. The best movers were in Latin America with an increase of 25% in Argentina and a reduction of 6% in Chile (9th world producer).  However, the consumption of wine was stable with about 243 million hectoliters in 2017, against 242 millions in 2016. Here in world consumption the USA is first with 32,6 million hectoliters in front of France with 27 millions (bear in mind the total country population) On the export market, Spain is in first place with 20,5% of the market while France is first in value amount worldwide with 9 million euros exported.  The total world exports figures were 107,9 million hectoliters in 2017 and increase of 3,4% from 2016, and a value of 30,4 million euros or 4,8% increase from 2016.

More reading on the above here:

Coming up. Onjune 6 2018, the most prestigious houses of Champagne will be in Paris on the tastings Grands Champagnes pour l’éte or great champagnes for summer.At the rive gauche of Paris in the heart of the neighborhodd of Saint Germain des Prés in the renovated HotelLutetia finding itself on the luxury ranks and a new chapter in its history. Gorgeous hotel had dine and drank at the bar there. The event hours start from 20h. Hôtel Lucetia 47 boulevard Raspail 6éme. A cheese buffet will be available to accompany the tastings admission for 39€ . There will be Champagne Castelnau , Champagne Cattier, Champagne Charles Heidsieck, Champagne Drappier, Champagne Gosset, Champagne Henriot,Champagne Joseph Perrier,Champagne Lanson,Champagne Laurent-Perrier,Champagne Moutard,Maison Mumm,Champagne Perrier-Jouet ; Champagne Philipponnat ;Champagne Piper-Heidsieck; Champagne Pol Roger Champagne Ruinart, Champagne Tattinger, Champagne Thienot, Champagne Veuve Clicquot , and Champagne Waris Larmandier. Just in time for the reopening of the hotel; more info here:

Tom Sullivan , an American story in purchasing the Château Gaby in Fronsac just over the Médoc in Bordeaux. The vineyards descend to the Dordogne river. There he and his wife owns a mansion that they enjoy spending time in . In little time Mr Sullivan has acquired four properties there, The Château Gaby appellation Canon Fronsac, also Château Moya appellation Castillon côtes de Bordeaux, Château du Parc, appellation Saint Emilion Grand cru and Auguste appellation Bordeaux Supérieur all in bio or in the process of conversion. All total about 20M euros in investments for this American millionaire who has made his fortune in the parquet and removable energies as well as real estate in Florida. The commercial strategy is to sell his wines in the UK and the USA/Canada markets only. He finds the wines from Napa very tannic and pre fabricated so he turns to France and especially the Bordeaux. He was looking to invest there but found the prices too high.  Today, 90% of his 320K bottles are produce in his properties in France and the wines are exported with good recognition in the USA especially on the west coast but also in Miami and New York. Do not know let me know readers please. One property is here Gaby:

With my curiosity for wines, I have spent quite some time in the Luxembourg country.  There I have come to know very good bottles . The country produces about 6 million liters of wine in 2016 (last figures I got) , it has about 1280 hectares of vineyards and 42 km long of planting going from the famous Schengen to Wasserbillig all along the Moselle river. I was by the town of Remich name the pearl of the Moselle for its wines and scenery; but my best impression was the bubbly or sparkler (cannot be call Champagne) at Grevenmacher and the Caves Bernard Massard. Worth a detour and pretty town we visited with the family a short while back (search)it here:

And if in France and need a quick wine, any prices and good advice search no more go to my reliable Nicolas stores all over France. I have a customer for years and never a problem or bad wine; the local store in Vannes is very friendly and so is the one in Lorient. The fair on them on the 2016 year is here.

And if on this neck of the woods a local one with stores in Guérande, Vannes and Plescop (we go here) is the Les Chais Saint François, good advice and bigger selection too. More here:

And finally, one wine.  While in 1815, the the cards of the kingdom of France were done by Cassini and on No 58 the review on Narbonne and its surrounding there was an auberge with the name of La Cendrillon; in the 17C Charles Perrault give it famous to the oral legend with a book play on the little princess (Cinderella). The Juyeux family owns it since 1750 just south of the Orbieu river and north of the village of Ornaisons, the owners dream of making it one day with the mention of Grand Cru on the bottles to make due the name of Corbiéres. Here they have good name neighbors such as the Boutenac, Caraguilhes, La Voulte Gasparets, Ollieux Romanis, Villemajou, and the closest neighbor Fontfroide, all very good names of wines here. Here you must taste the Classique a blending of Grenache, syrah and mourvédre fruity with long on the mouth. The bottles are only sold at maturity. Do find it and try wherever you are, red corbiéres 2014 16,50€ the bottle at La Cendrillon. More here:

Enjoy in moderation but do drink it, it is heavens. Happy travels good health and many cheers to all. Life goes on now stronger and more closer than ever.

May 8, 2018

Now the noise is gone from the house and all we have is us…

As the time went by, I had many nice condolences from many folks , including my wife former bosses, some not heard in a while. They all had nice words for me and my wife; she was one good lady and a heck of a great mother and wife. The family is coming more than ever too even those that still had not visited us here. All are welcome.

We need this time to speak about Martine and remember all the good and love she gave us. It was time to go to the flower shop and get some white roses for her cremation. I ,also, took pictures of the front and back of the house and print them on photo paper really nice turn out. These will be put with her.

She went into the hospital and never left it unfortunately , she was saying ,worried that she will never see her house again. So sad it was that way. However, as one good friend from Florida told me, she will be in our house forever, indeed she will be. Thanks DS.

As the weekend approaches the family is coming ,arriving Saturday evening 5 May and Sunday 6 May and one last brother early morning Monday 7 May. The cremation will be by 10h30 on May 7yh  and the ashes will be collected by me by 16h30 (4:30 pm). Extremely punctual service all was like clockwork.

Then, the real trial begins. The house will be empty of her strength and organization and loving touch that took me out when raining with an umbrella going to work. The memories flashing cannot understand this cancer. Billions spent on it, all kinds of gurus mentioning all kinds of treatment even spiritual healers and the cancer still there. IT is like someone mentioned, a conspiracy nobody wants to have it resolve after all is all money. Do not know.

I will have to get my life in order and go along with the boys and my father still with me, at least I have them in the house. They will accompany me in this trial of survival and memories all good so much good. We travel the world together ,eat and sweat all over the big cities and the small villages, drove and walk even took the plane back to Florida and Italy; now is all alone, well my boys will be there.

We are a good team, embedded in the old motto, of one for all and all for one, we are very united and that is a big help. I need a big help. Will think later on how to post here in my blog something about life and travels of pedmar10; stay tune.

This is our house, the one she could not make it back. However, its all full of memories things she did in it, she did all the decoration and even work in the basement with the boys while I was out on business trips. All full of wonderful memories;our house.


Our house front and deco by Martine

We follow the funeral car from the mortuary next to the hospital that took care of her , Chubert or CHBA Vannes, it was to be her last ride I thought . Once in the crematorium it was simple with the family and some ex and current colleagues who nice enough came to the ceremony where we listen a bit to the music of Phil Collins/Genesis my wife favorite singer/group. It was a nice farewell and very sad to see the coffin entered the fire room.


the waiting room at the crematorium


from the lobby of the crematorium out to the memorial garden


the ride from the mortuary to the crematorium

It’s Sunday, we are waiting for the first family members to arrive by 13h30 today, will be the older brother. They are coming by car from the Nord dept 59 and Seine et Marne dept 77. They arrive ok and on Monday noonish , we went to have lunch after the cremation in one of our favorite pizza resto in town le Scampi, we were 16 hungry family members the mother on wheelchair, stepfather (her father died in auto accident when she was 10); sisters and brothers and a couple nieces. A nice family reunion even if in sad circumstances, it is these that brings the family closer together.


the family at scampi


another shot of family in Scampi


more of the family at Scampi

Later on Sunday we were at home with the family and took out our German beers and snacks to gathered around and remember Martine, my dear Frenchie, mamie blue , the best wife/mother you can imagine.


at home with the family


the family and my father being hug


more family at home


one of my sons and Aunt, wife sister at home

It was a very emotional and hectic weekend and Monday all day. We finally went to get the ashes, they are for now in the sofa bed she last used at home. We will think later to take it to the sea at Honfleur Normandy to be share with the braves, and my mother.


the ashes of Martine in sofa bed

Lastly, it was Monday evening and the older brother from the Nord was still here with his family so we decided to go out to get some drinks snacks and I took them to Saint Goustan and one of our favorite there L’Armoric where we had some Breton beers and sausages fries, croquet monsieur sandwiches. This is in the town of Auray.


me in brother in the armoric


the boys and cousin in l’Armoric


place st sauveur st goustan auray

Last minutes gifts and was not allowed to paid so the family began to leave, first the Seine et Marne and last the Nord; they have a long route but safely home. It is nice and sad, we should had had meeting like this more often with Martine alive. It stays the memory and the promise that we will meet more often in the future. For us, it is back to the fight for life alone, the house it seems empty Martine was all over, every fingerprint on it was hers, we are survival we will make it but the memories will be strong , already are.

For the record, today is May 8 back in 1945 WWII in Europe ended; peace and less death that is the goal of any kind. Life is too precious and when you lose one, it becomes more real more to fight for. Happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!!

May 2, 2018

The ordeal of saying goodbye to a very loving person, my Martine

I have not yet the will to write anything, as I am in the process of the burial of my wife (see previous post). Today I finalise the contract with the funeral services and the arrangements for the cremation on Monday.

It hard to imagine me writing on travel without my second half around, with me on the road warrior trips we made all over western Europe over the last 27+ years. First coming to meet her and drive around even to Madrid; then the visits coming from Florida and then living in France first at Versailles and then here at Pluvigner and going all out.

I like for me for my blog for my friends and family to post some photos of the ordeal coming up, nice photos nothing sad. We are all very united and strong in the family. I have thought only about 10 will come as they are very far, yet now it’s about 20 plus many friends from previous and current jobs have promise to be there. Talking with nurses and merchants was inspiring the way they talk about my Frenchie , she was very talkative and friendly and made a good impression to all; usually she was the one who presented the folks to me!

She always thought about me and the boys, even on my last magazine purchase at discounts at work I gave it to her to ordered and she did her TV guide and the secrets of history magazine for me! I just got the second issue yesterday.

Our puppy Rex , which she also name after a popular TV series here in Europe, is now grown to over 15 kg and 5,5 months old, sadly she only saw him for 3 weeks. He will be with us for a long time adg. Rex by her is now fully part of the family.

The crematorium ceremony will be held on  May 7 2018 at 10h30 in Plescop near Vannes webpage: Crematorium de Plescop

The funeral house handling is Thétiot of Vannes, Very lady owner with her husband here: Assistance Funeraire Thétiot Vannes

The hospital where she was treated with caring folks is locally known as simply Chubert  Hospital. A bit of history I like on the hospital comes from the site translated : The hospital was an order by king Louis XIV to make it obligatory to have one in the principal cities of the kingdom. The Hôtel Dieu Saint-Nicolas, was founded in 1684 ,and located near the St Patern Church on the farmland of Cosquer. After a period of times,  it was decided to built a bigger hospital on the idea of pavilions of each discipline of sickness and the current hospital is built in the 1930’s on the current site. In 1946, the hospital takes the name of its former vice President, who died in deportation, Prosper CHUBERT. It become a hospital center with school of nurses by 1948.  There is a sister hospital in Auray that had 3 from the 12C to the 17C but only one survived the French revolution, that was the  « Hôtel-Dieu Notre Dame » or « Hôtel-Dieu de la Charité »; the current hospital built in 1970 on the old farmland of Le Pratel, of which it carries the name.  In 2000, the two joint forces to become the Centre Hospitalier Bretagne Atlantique or simply CHBA. More info here: CHBA or Chubert Vannes

I will get it right, hanging in there and now all the sad paperwork begins, picking the death certificate tomorrow. Thank you for putting up with these posts …

Photos with the lake around the hospital at end she look out the window every time.


the spirits and positive attitude was on in room 175 Chubert


Thétiot funeral services Vannes entrance


the warrior in room 175 fighting hard in Chubert


my force at room 175 Chubert hospital


visiting with the boys room 175 Chubert


Chubert hospital main entrance




Blvd de la paix to Chubert hospital lake du duc she look out windows

For life and the pursuit of happiness forever together for the worse and for the best Amen. Happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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