Archive for June, 2018

June 30, 2018

Again we have the Tour de France !

The greatest bicycle race in the world is back. There may be others older, but this is the grand daddy of them all. My family on my dear late wife side are fanatics and I even purchase a bike myself couple years back. Not the biggest user of it, but we enjoy a leisure ride in the park once in a while. However, the Tour de France is it, we watch it wholly and it is superb. Even if not into bike the views of the race on TV are super. If you have the chance like us to go and watch it live, then you can tell the love for the sport here.

In my neck of the woods now, the Bretons are avid bikers and there are so many clubs and competitions all year around. The Tour is very much followed by all here and on my job too is big.

This year’s event will be no different. The Tour de France starts July 7 for its 105th edition. The first stage will begin in familiar local territory in the island of Nourmoutier (île de Noirmoutier), Department 85 of Vendée, region of  Pays de la Loire and the final in Paris after 21 stages.

I will tell you the stages and their trajectory with a map to follow

1: Noirmoutier-en-L’Île / Fontenay-le-Comte (flat run of 201 km)

2:  Mouilleron-Saint-Germain / La Roche-sur-Yon ( flat run of 182,5 km)

3: Cholet-Cholet ( against the clock of 35,5 km)

4: La Baule-Sarzeau (flat run 195 km)

5: Lorient-Quimper (average mountain run of 204 km)

6: Brest-Mûr de Bretagne Guerlédan (average mountain run of 181 km)

7: Fougères-Chartres ( flat run of 231 km)

8: Dreux-Amiens Metrópole (flat run of 181 km)

9: Arras Citadelle-Roubaix (stony road of 156,5 km)

10: Annecy-Le Grand-Bornand (high mountain run of 158,5 km)

11: Albertville-La Rosière (high mountain run of 108,5 km)

12: Bourg-Saint-Maurice Les Arcs / Alpe d’Huez (high mountain of 175,5 km)

13: Bourg d’Oisans-Valence (flat run of 169,5 km)

14: Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux / Mende (average mountain run of 188 km)

15: Millau / Carcassonne (average mountain run of 181,5 km)

16: Carcassonne / Bagnères-de-Luchon (mountain of 218 km)

17: Bagnères-de-Luchon / Saint-Lary-Soulan (mountain of 65 km)

18: Trie-sur-Baïse / Pau (flat run of 171 km)

19: Lourdes / Laruns (mountain run of 200,5 km)

20: Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle / Espelette (against the clock of 31 km)

21: Houilles / Paris Champs-Élysées (flat run to end of 116 km)

The end will be in Paris as always when in about 52 km of run the race will enter the city and inside Paris there will be 8 rounds in a circuit of 13 km . For this year’s race so far 22 teams are confirmed.

Looking at the schedule above , 4-7 stages will be in my Brittany and runs 4-5 will be in my dear department 56 of Morbihan so will see them lol!!!  and sentimental previous experiences will be at 18 by Pau, and 21 Houilles (Yvelines dept 78) and Paris. All the big names will be there again so another very nice Tour coming up.

You can follow it in the official site in English (you can change to German and Spanish and of course French as well) : https://www.letour.fr/en/overall-route

Enjoy the race ,remember July 7 next Saturday be there or be square!

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

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June 30, 2018

My travels in the Morbihan, LXIII

So on a very hot Saturday with temps up to 32C or about 90F and intense sun, and many things to do and tell you in my lovely Morbihan department 56 of Brittany.

We had as usual our breakfast, took our dog Rex out and feed him as well. Then, he was put in the Veranda with door half open and plenty of water in his water bowl.

We set out to do our usual errands in our family life now with the boys and me as my father stays home as usual watching TV and most of the time Spanish TV in cable like TVE.

I had to take the boys to Micromania for some orders pending as usual from them, they just don’t stop, the most popular customers in the store, everybody knows them and even the store manager had come to our house for lunch! This store is in the shopping center Carrefour in Vannes.

We went to try a store we have been before but closer to home just to re check prices on animal food, dogs of course as we  have one now 7 months old Borador (mix border collier mom and Labrador dad). This is Animalis in Ploeren just outside Vannes; and it was confirmed the prices are higher so we move on.

We went by our favorite animal store Maxi Zoo at the near town of Séné next to Vannes going along the inner city streets easily as our expressway N165 is beginning to be full of traffic with visitors especially from the British isles. Estimates this year put Brittany in the top 3 of favorite French destinations for vacation by the French, of course we know ::) Here we did purchase our usual dog food 15 kg bag and again nice and cheaper. So we continue here.

As we got there in the shopping plaza les quais de Séné, we saw that a popular shoe store chain here Chaussea had summer sales of up to 70% on most of their stock. So we went in to take a look,and as usual things remaining from her mother’s time , we got out with one pair of sandals for my oldest, and two pairs (one sporty and one dressy) for me; both pairs for 52€! (who says France is expensive!). There are some nice names here including one of our favorite resto chain Au Bureau an English style bar restaurant ,and Chausséa, MaxiZoo, Sport 2000, Gifi , and CrocBook.

We had to eat and believe or not again, my boys insisted on going to Burger King! Well ,can’t really blame them , born in Florida they grew up with BK, and here is a connection to the old country. So we went for lunch at the BK in Ploeren, just outside Vannes. We tried the new whopper chorizo menu lol!! and blueberry muffins dessert ! A nice boys lunch , always missing our dear late wife Martine and heck of a mother. She will always be on our side on the tables.

After this lunch, we went for our groceries as we needed to be ready for the big football/soccer game coming up.  Our groceries are done in a couple hypermarkets here and this time it was E Leclerc in Ploeren, Vannes. We loaded up for the game here too with the boys leading the way.

WE rush home by side roads to reach home just five minutes before game match. The match well the Russia World Cup 2018 8th finals between France and Argentina. We won 4×3 (that is France) with the young Mbappe netting two goals.  It is big here, there are celebrations all over as if we won the World Cup and now a new best is born in Mbappe; all part of the hyper media of our days.  There still a lot to run in this World Cup. Tonight is the game from which our next rival will come, Uruguay vs Portugal. Photo below is from my TFI TV channel !!!!

Now cruising at home waiting for the next game and all loaded up. The temps are still higher with Paris getting around 36C (97F) and by us around 33C!! (91F) Another heat wave for the next couple of days.

In we are staying in the shade lol! Hope you enjoy our every day life in the belle France. The real living in France.

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

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June 29, 2018

The glorious Tuileries garden !

So back to the blog, and to tell you about a wonderful beautiful inmense garden I came to love and became my favorite. I had visited before, visiting is different than living as many should know. Of course, I am talking about the Tuileries garden or Jardin des Tuileries in Paris.

I came to know it intimately while working off rue de Castiglione off rue de Rivoli for several years. It was my lunch break lol!!! and on weekends will bring the family to walk on it ride poney rides, and swings the fairs of many games on it, the Grande roue (now gone thanks to Paris city hall) , all very memorable moments and a thrill to past by it once in a while now.

 

You get there on metro Tuileries (design of Hector Guimard),the entrance is located along the gardens of the Tuileries, rue de Rivoli on line 1 or Concorde lines 1, 8 and 12 .The first line 1 of Metro built it has two staircases with low frames with cartridges with an entrance and an exit.  The Tuileries Garden is open daily from 7h30 a.m. to 21h. Also bus lines 24, 42, 52, 72, 73, 84, 94, and my best parkings underground here are Concorde  Place de la Concorde (corner of Avenue Gabriel and Place de la Concorde), and Tuileries by 38, rue du Mont Tabor.

It is actually a series of gardens and the locals sometimes call it the Jardins des Tuileries in plural. There is the Tuileries and then the Carrousel. Let me tell you a bit on them and more now.

The Tuileries garden extends from the Palais du Louvre (east) to the Place de la Concorde (West), it is bordered to the north by the Rue de Rivoli, the place de Pyramides and to the south by the Seine river . The Arc du Carrousel, built in 1806 in the Carousel’s garden, marks the entrance to the Tuileries. The Palace of the Tuileries, which closed the Louvre on its west side, was burned during the commune in 1871 and its ruins were razed in 1881 by the third Republic. From the 1st arrondissement or district created in the 16C to the site of old Tuileries which gave it its name. It is the most important and oldest French garden of the capital, which used to be the palace of the Tuileries, a former royal and imperial residence, now extinct, see above. I was a former treasurer to rebuilt it but it is difficult and costly almost 400M€ the webpage is here if interested to help. Comite National pour la Reconstruction des Tuileries

Paris Paris

The Rue de Rivoli is located in the early 19C between Rue de Rohan and rue Saint-Florentin, in particular the impasse  and the grounds occupied by the Dames-de-l’Assomption. The garden then expanded during the development of the Tuileries Wharf, a support wall is built along the terrace of the water’s edge, with stones extracted from the quarries of Châtillon.  In 1519, king François 1er had chosen this vast land occupied since the 12C by tile factories. In 1553 Catherine de Medici decided to settle in the Louvre and to have a castle built, she bought land at the Tuileries and built an Italian park with fountains, a cave, a greenhouse and a menagerie, the Palais des Tuileries.

Catherine de Medici buys these lands between the walls of Charles V and the walls of the Fausses Jaunes (ditches). Starting from 1564, it began the construction of the Palais des Tuileries, while beginning the development of an Italian garden to the west until the glacis of the enclosure (present Place de la Concorde). It consists of six aisles in the straight direction and eight in the witdth direction, which rectangular compartments comprising different plantations (trees, quinconces, lawns, flower beds, etc.). In the years 1605-1625 an orangery and a petting zoo were added. In 1664, Jean-Baptiste Colbert and King Louis XIV ordered the garden to be entirely redesigned by André Le Nôtre, who had already illustrated himself in Vaux-le-Vicomte.  Royal Gardens of Versailles, Marly, Saint-Cloud and Saint-Germain.  The destruction of the Palace of the Tuileries opened a perspective towards the Place de la Concorde, the Avenue of the Champs Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe, the Avenue of the Grand Armée, and the Grand Arche de la Defense.

At the western angles of the garden, Napoleon III ordered built two identical buildings:

An orangery in 1852, in the southwest, today hosting a museum of modern Art, the Musée de l’Orangerie. The Museum of the Orangerie is a museum of impressionistic and Impressionists paintings located in the garden of the Tuileries, at the western end of the terrace of the waterfront, Place de la Concorde it presents works by Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Amedeo Modigliani, Le Douanier Rousseau, André Derain, Chaïm-Soutien, Marie Laurencin, Maurice Utrillo, Paul Gauguin, Alfred Sisley and Kees van Dongen. Orangerie museum

A Jeu de Paume in 1861, Northwest, today hosting a museum of Contemporary Art, the National Gallery of Jeu de Paume.   The Jeu de Paume Museum.  The building is located on the terraces (rue de Rivoli) dominating the Place de la Concorde in the Tuileries garden.  The Jeu de Paume game was built in 1861 on the model of the Orangerie was a gym where the ancestor of tennis was practised.  At the beginning of the 20C, the building is a national museum.  The museum was remodelled in 1986, following the opening of the Musée d’Orsay, and became a place of temporary exhibitions.  Webpage : http://www.jeudepaume.org/index.php?lang=en

Paris

The Tuileries Garden, is of major historical importance, has 22.4 hectares. Between the wings of the Louvre, the Carousel garden is 6.2 hectares. The Tuileries and the Carrousel are separated by the Tuileries Terrace.  These two gardens are accessible to visitors.. To the east, three small gardens enshrine the building: Along the Rue de Rivoli lies the Garden of the Oratory (4 500 m2), and, opposite the Seine, the Garden of the Infante (3 900 m2) and the Garden Raffet (1 250 m2). These small gardens are not accessible to the public.

The gardens of the Carrousel and the Tuileries are true museums of open-air sculptures: At the carousel are exposed twenty sculptures of Aristide Maillol and the Tuileries, the visitor can admire more than 200 statues and vases of first importance, ranging from  17C to 21C. This vast garden offers varied walks, at the rhythm of the seasons, and relaxation areas for young and old alike.

By Auguste Caïn Deux Lionesses attacking a bull the Nubian lion and his prey lion and wild boar igre slaying a crocodile

By Aristide Maillol  the Mountain (1937) The Air (1938) The River (1938) Elongated Girl (1921) The Nymph (1930) The Three Graces (1938)

By Paul Gand   Medea Statue in marble.

By Louis Lévêque,   the Young Nymph (1866). By Pierre le Gros   Vetturie (1665).

Paintings immortalizing the Tuileries gardens amongst some are by  Édouard Manet, music at the Tuileries Garden (1862), Adolph von Menzel, afternoon at the Tuileries Garden (1867) Claude Monet, Les Tuileries (1876),. Maurice Prendergast, the Tuileries Garden (1895), Camille Pissarro, the Tuileries Gardens (1900), and Paul de Castro, the Tuileries Garden in Autumn (1921).

Paris

During WWII, part of the garden was transformed into a garden because of the lack of supplies during the Occupation. On 25 August 1944, General von Choltitz, commanding officer of the “Groß-Paris”, received an ultimatum from Colonel Pierre Billotte  of the 2nd DB and replied “I do not accept ultimatums”. In the ensuing fighting, Captain Branet seized the hotel Meurice, rue de Rivoli, headquarters of the German occupying forces; Captain Julien goes to the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré to reach the siege of the Kommandantur, Place de l’opéra and on his side Lieutenant Bricard clears  the Tuileries garden. The ten commemorative plaques affixed along the garden at the corner of Rue de Rivoli and Place de la Concorde do not fully account for the intensity of the fighting and the number of casualties.

Since 2005, the management of the Tuileries Garden has been entrusted to the Louvre museum, which ensures the development and maintenance of it. A real treat in Paris.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this wonderful beautiful garden park are

City of Paris on Jardin des Tuileries : http://equipement.paris.fr/jardin-des-tuileries-1795

Tourist office of Paris on Jardin des Tuileries: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71304/Jardin-des-Tuileries

Tourist office region of ile de France on the Tuileries garden: https://www.visitparisregion.com/en/garden-of-tuileries/

Hope you enjoy all Parisiens do even if loaded with tourists in a heavily visited area of Paris; is a must. Paris is so much indeed!

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

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June 29, 2018

A park in Paris, parc Monceau!

So looking over my blog did not see a post on this wonderful park of Paris. Darn, believe or not, it was my first park visited in Paris. I was with a group of friends and decided to have a walk in a park and they chose this one. Well, of course, I have come back to it.

The parc Monceau is a treasure in Paris, not the biggest, not the prettiest maybe, but a wonderful collection of follies, great architecture in and out on the mansions that surrounded it and two good museums.

Parc Monceau  Metro  Monceau Line 2. The unique entrance with crested entourage done by Héctor Guimard is located on line 2 line direction Porte Dauphine-Nation at  Boulevard de Courcelles  on the edge of the Parc Monceau. The park is in neighborhood or quartier Europe in the 8éme arrondissement or district of Paris. Bus line 30 also takes you here.

The Parc Monceau with an area of 8.25 hectares  whose main entrance is near the Rotunda by Boulevard de Courcelles, an exotic garden English style park, Inaugurated on  August  13 1861 by emperor  Napoleon III. The park is a kilometer in circumference , a  full tour of the park measures precisely  1 107 meters (bypassing the children’s playground, it takes 990 meters). Great for bikes I did my first bike ride in Paris here many years ago lol!

Paris

A bit of history I like.  The Duke of Chartres buys  land of one hectare at the Rue de Courcelles in 1768. In 1778 the future Duke of Orléans  buy it and asked  Carmontelle to arranged  the space known as the “Folly of Chartres”. The landscape artist Thomas Blaikie enlarges this English garden where there is erected a pyramid, a pagoda and various other follies in the taste of the time.

The architect Claude-Nicolas Ledoux adds in 1784, a rotunda, pavilion of  the neo gothic style surrounded by a peristyle of 16 columns,there is  the new General farmers  running along the garden. During the French revolution, the garden was confiscated and became in 1793 national property after the Revolution, the park in a pitiful state was restored to the Orléans family.  Between 1802 and 1806 the park is demolished and another pavilion built in its place, Orleans sells and then buys in 1819. A little before 1830, the Duke’s son, future Louis-Philippe, King of the French, had the “Temple of Mars” transported to the enchanted Garden of his castle in Neuilly; It is somewhat altered to become the Temple of Love (Neuilly-sur-Seine). In 1852, half of the park was allocated to the Pereire brothers and the other to the State which sold its estate to the city of Paris.  The wall of the general farmers is destroyed, it remains as vestige of only the rotunda old granting offices (three other pavilions are moved to the place Denfert Rochereau, Place de la Bataille-de-Stalingrad and Place de la Nation.

Things to see and look there:

A few steps away is the Naumachie, an oval basin bordered by a Corinthian colonnade that comes from a church of St. Denis destroyed in 1719. Nearby, stands a large Renaissance arcade style, relic of the City Hall of Paris burned in 1871 (there are also fragments of columns) marble statues of writers and musicians are found at the corner of the groves. They represent Maupassant,  Verlet, Chopin, Gounod and Musset, Ambroise Thomas or Édouard Pailleron . The park is surrounded by luxurious buildings and private hotels. It has been painted many times including the great ones Gustave Caillebotte (1877), Claude Monet (1876), and  Henri Brispot (1908).

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Private hotels are located along elegant shaded avenues and closed by four monumental doors.  Most of these routes bear names of great 17C painters such as Avenue Velasquez, Avenue Ruysdaël, Avenue Van-Dyck, rue Rembrandt, Rue Murillo. The park is crossed by the Avenue Ferdousi, the Allée Michel-Berger and the alley of the Countess-de-Ségur. Many elements dating from Carmontelle and metamorphosed under Napoleon III remain: The colonnade that borders the Naumachie, the pyramid, the only vestige of the ancient folly of Chartres, the Renaissance arcade of the Paris City Hall destroyed in 1871, the Little Bridge, the grotto and the waterfall.

Paris

In a green setting, appear, at the corner of the groves we discover rare or exotic  trees such as a sycamore maple aged over 130 years and high of 35 meters , a sumptuous purple beech, a tulip of Virginia and a plane tree of the Orient, the biggest in Paris (more than 170 years and 7 meters in  circumference.

The 2 charming museums,  occupying 2 superb mansions of the 19C.  The Museum of Nissim de Camondo which allows to plunge into the life of the great families under the Second Empire and to discover also the tragic fate of a family of great lineage of Sephardic  Jews  having made fortune in the bank and whose descendants will be deported and killed in Auschwitz.  ).  At the south entrance is the Museum Cernuschi  amuseum of the city of Paris specializing in the art and archaeology of ancient China. The museum webpages to follow

Museum Nissim de Camondo

Museum Cernuschi

A playground for children ,a merry-go-round and swings open every afternoon, ponies on Wednesdays and weekends;  clowns  on Wednesdays and weekends from the lawns where it is good to run and picnic. Parc Monceau is open until 20h. and until 22h. from May  1 to  August 31. Check times and dates for the playground at the city of Paris parks page below.

Paris

Some further webpages to help your trip here,and it is all worth it.

Tourist office of Parishttps://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-mons tument/71356/Parc-Monceau

City of Paris parc monceau : http://equipement.paris.fr/parc-monceau-1804

Hope you enjoy a tranquil time amongst beautiful buildings and a great garden park indeed of beautiful Paris.

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

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June 27, 2018

An hommage to Paris,Martine and us!!!

We have a nice sunny day today high will be by 31C or about 87F just gorgeous outside and the beaches are full. I like to look back in my blog just to see Paris, well Paris is everywhere. Paris is eternal why tell more. It is time to show you to search for my other posts on Paris! There are so many covering most if not all subjects. I let you do the searching  ,there is something for everyone in it.

Paris

Gare de l’Est Paris, our first trip by train the route to her office in Paris 11

It reminds me that almost 8 years ago (November 26 2010) , a group of friends from an online travel forum VT now part of TA, asked me to write a book or a blog on my travel experiences. Well, it was nice, but me a book lol!! My writing is rambling all over, just could not be done. However,  a blog well maybe. Have an American friend living in Madrid for over 20 yrs already who is into these blogs thingy and recommended to me WordPress  because it was easy to set up me not tech oriented. So it was done Paris1972-Versailles2003.com came about with the name of Paris as my first year visited the city while living in Madrid. The year of Versailles is from when came to live in France permanently at that Royal city of France.  The blog have been entertaining thanks to all those readers “like” and comments ; I really enjoy it.  As my  Frenchie from Meaux, Martine, passed away last April 30th from the dreadful cancer, I have come to appreciate more the fact that I am French and live in this wonderful country. I thank her for that,  and will continue to showcase my love for France (if anything to honor her) ,and my roots of Spain in my blog.

Meaux

The episcopal palace gardens behind the Cathedral at Meaux

Enjoy Paris, the most beautiful city in the world, and for reason the most visited too…

There you go enjoy Paris, my beloved dear Paris and my belle France (thanks Martine). And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

June 26, 2018

How to come and get around Madrid!

Ok so again the same here, another city that I go often since childhood and drove on it first in 1982 and many many times afterward. Yes you can drive in Madrid as in any other major city if you are used to coming from driving in big cities. Madrid is no different than any others.

I hear folks telling me of the fears of driving here, the way Spanish people drive etc etc like Madrid is from another planet. If you have driven in Paris, London, Rome, Brussels, Frankfort, New York, Jakarta, Sao Paulo, Mexico DF, just to name a few than driving in Madrid is easy. If you have experience driving in smaller towns like Ronda, Pluvigner, Vineland, etc than you might as well be aware, it will be different….

I have written a post on my blog a while back on the subject and will bring it up here: Driving in Madrid

Madrid has several major roads coming out from it such as the A1 Madrid-Aranda de Duero-Miranda de Ebro-Vitoria-San Sebastian, and the A2 Madrid-Guadalajara-Zaragoza-Lérida-Barcelona-Gerona-PortBon-Frontier France, A3 Madrid-Valencia, A4 Madrid-Aranjuez-Cordoba-Sevilla-Jerez-Cadiz, A5 Madrid-Talavera de la Reina-Navalmoral-de-la-Mata-Mérida-Badajoz-frontier Portugal; A6 Madrid-Medina del Campo-Tordesillas-Benavente-Astorga-Ponferrada-Lugo-La Coruña. Other highways with origins in Madrid of major impact are the A42 Madrid-Toledo, M607 Madrid -Puerto de Navacerrada to service to Colmenar Viejo and Tres Cantos. The city ,also, has several beltways roads that have grown since living there such as the M30 (finished with me living there), This beltway below or above ground practically goes around Madrid inner ring; you have the M40 going further out into the residential areas and the M45 again further out, the M50 further out on a big huge circle and then again maybe more needed. Madrid has becomes a huge metropolis. Heavy traffic are encountered on a daily basis and need to know the rush hours to have it easier.

The highway watchdog with cameras, and heavy traffic points to avoid per road is here in Spanish. Dir Gen de Transports Madrid

Map of Comunidad de Madrid on highways that can be magnified and printed is here: map of highways Madrid region

Madrid

The wonderful metro/tube/subway of Madrid opening in 1919 and already with 294 kms and 13 lines the third biggest in Europe by km and the 9th on passengers during 2014, last year could find. The network has 12 regular lines and the section Opera to Principe Pio as well as 3 lines of light metro and 38 additional stations. Of the current total of 301 stations, 200 are single lineand 27 are double and 10 have on three lines and the station of Avenida de America with four lines  correspondances. It connects in 21 stations with the suburbian train network Cercanicas of Madrid managed by RENFE. The beltway lines are MetroSur (Line 12) passing by Alcorcón, Móstoles, Fuenlabrada, Getafe, and Leganés; MetroNorte (Line 10) passing Alcobendas and San Sebastián de los Reyes; MetroEste (Line 7) reaching to  Coslada and San Fernando de Henares; TFM (Line 9)  connecting  Rivas Vaciamadrid and Arganda del Rey, as well as Metro Ligero Oeste (Lines 2 and 3), there is a tramway network at Pozuelo to Boadilla del Monte. Webpage : Metro de Madrid

Madrid

Two main line train station, one at Atocha and the other at ChamartinRENFE Madrid

There is a huge bus network runs by CRTM and the EMT with 2000 buses and 200 lines . The principal terminals are at Avenida de America, Mendez Alvaro, and Plaza de Castilla, there are other smaller ones such as Moncloa, Principe Pio, and Plaza Eliptica. CRTM MADRID

Madrid municipal transports service or EMT has a well define network with bus lanes . The vast majority of these buses work from 6h to 23h30 at 4-15 minutes intervals and the weekend and holidays from 7h to 23h. There is a night bus or Bùhos lines known by their N number from N1 to N27 from their terminal at Plaza de Cibeles.  EMT MADRID

The main airport is the Adolfo Suarez Barajas at 12 km from city center connecting with the city on line 8 at Nuevos Ministerios to T4 airport in about 20 minutes and about 12 minutes on the other terminals. Adolfo Suarez Airport Barajas

Madrid

There is a express bus line from Barajas airport and Madrid Bus Express. More here: bus express airport Madrid

 

Cercanías is a service of Renfe on suburbian train service having 9 lines . They connect all the lines by the Atocha train station that allows you to go to San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Aranjuez, mountain towns in the Sierra de Guadarrama (C-8 and C9 to Cercedilla and Cotos) ,and Alcala de Henares  as wel as reaching rapidly the T4 terminal at Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport  The C-2 and C-7 to Alcala de Henares and C-3 to Aranjuez and El Escorial. The line C-1 is the one very fast from T4 to the city as well as connecting Atocha with Chamartin main train stations.  More info here: Cercanias Madrid

Madrid

The taxis of Madrid are white with a diagonal red and  white line on the front door and the city coat of arms.  If the roof is green the taxi is free to take passengers, you simply signal for them the usual way.  If the trip is from the airport there is a fix price of 30€ as long as the trip is inside the beltway M30 (the old central beltway). This price does not include any other service added as long as the place of pickup and the hour are respected. Some further useful info from the tourist office here: Getting around by Taxi in Madrid

More and more a very nice bike network is setting up lead by the organisation of Madrid BiciMad as well as stores specializing in bikes that rent out as well especially on the parks and the tourist places. BiciMad is with electric bikes that last count were 1560 with 3216 bornes to pickup and dropoff at 124 stations. the Municipality has several technological innovations such as application Donkey Republic allowing you to find your bike and others such as Ofo-Smart Bike Sharing available in itunes, google play or oBike as well.  I give you the official webpage as well as a private operator Doncielo.

https://www.bicimad.com/

http://www.web.doncicleto.com/

I won’t go into details with pricing and choices as these are subjective as well prices can change, you need to check the official sites before your trip to be sure. In general, there are forfaits of 1,2,3, 5,7 days on the two transports zones of Madrid A and T . The tickets are available in consecutive days from the date of first use.

The Zone A allows you to go to all the lines of the metro, airport (with supplement of 3€inclus) , all the bus lines in town like the blue buses of EMT except the Express line Airport, the zones 0 and A of the Cercanias network of Madrid and the line M1 of Metro LIgero. The  Zone T  is recommended for those willing to go outside the city such as to go to El Escorial, Alcalá de Henares, Aranjuez etc and includes the entire metro network such as zones A, B1, B2 ,and B3), all the lines of city bus blue EMT and intercity green bus of the comunidad de Madrid , the Express Airport bus is included as well as the services to Guadalajara and Tolède,as well as the Cercanias trains of Madrid , and lines ML2 and ML3 of the Metro Ligero,as well as the tramway ML4  to Parla.

You have plenty of tourist offices throughtout the city that helps you with all questions (really a big improvement for the visitors) including security issues. These are

Tourist center Plaza Mayor ,Plaza Mayor, 27 (Casa de la Panadería), Info kiosk Paseo del Prado Plaza de Neptuno, info kiosk Atocha Ronda de Atocha, s/n (next to Museo Reina Sofía), info kiosk Plaza de Callao, Plaza de Callao, s/n; info kiosk Recoletos-Colon ,Paseo Recoletos, 23 (under a bunker looks like a metro entrance across the Plaza Colon); info kiosk Paseo de la Castellana, 138 (next to  Santiago Bernabéu stadium) , info kiosk Centro, Plaza de Cibeles, 1 (Palacio de Cibeles), info kiosk at Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport T2 between halls 5 and 6; info kiosk airport as well at T4 hall 10 ; , and SATE assistance service to foreign tourists at Calle Leganitos, 19 (police). SATE Madrid

Some additional webpages to help you plan your trip and enjoy the transports of Madrid

Download a city map of Madrid from tourist office https://www.esmadrid.com/en/madrid-city-map

Find a parking  (I am register here really good one) in Madrid: https://en.neoparking.com/madrid/

How to plan your trip on streets and highways and services around them street finder in Spanish:  https://madrid.callejero.net/directorio.html

Hope it helps make your visit a more enjoyable one to a great city very close to me . And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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June 25, 2018

Welcome back to Maisons-Laffitte!

And why not a castle very close to Paris and seldom visited but is a must for the architecture and the history of it as well as the horse races. Well, it was not far from me while in the area so used to go there a lot ,even to shop in the wonderful gourmet store of Longueil.

I am talking about Maisons-Laffitte of course. Maisons-Laffitte is a town in the département 78 Yvelines in the region of Île-de-France, about 10 km from Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and 18 km from Paris. It is at the banks of the Seine river on the left bank and on the west it has the forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The metro area also includes a part of the isles of the Seine and de la Commune.

The road D308 runs from Paris to Poissy passing by Maisons-Laffitte as principal road. The train station connects to Gare Saint Lazare in Paris and also has the regional express train RER A line L from many points in Paris. The night bus N152 Gare de Cergy-le-Haut Paris St-Lazare, passes by Maisons-Laffitte as well.

The first mention of the village dates from about 820, in the writing of Bishop Minot, the name was Mansionis Villa.  The first squire was certainly Nivard of Septeuil. His son Geoffroy I granted the Abbey of Saint-Wandrille de Fontelle the free passage in front of the port of Maisons  towards 1060-1066. He also gave towards 1087 the Church of Maisons at the Abbey of Our Lady of Coulombs (near Nogent-le-Roi), with land, vines, tithes and a share of the toll. The family of Avesne  kept its land, which quickly passed to the family of Marseille. The family ceded their property from 1460 to Jean IV de Longueil, judge in the Parliament of Paris. The Lordship’s town will be found in 1602, when John VIII of Longueil buys the share of Marseille.

The castle is built at his request by François Mansart, uncle of Jules Hardouin-Mansart who will build Versailles a few years later… This new building takes the place of the previous buildings built by the two lineages of house Lords. The castle will be great, to receive the king during the hunts in the forest of Saint-Germain. It is for this reason that the entrance to the monument is back to the Seine, preceded by a wide avenue coming from the forest. Construction starts around 1642, ending at 1650. king Louis XIV lodged there in 1671 on the day of the death of Philippe François de France, duke d’Anjou.

Maisons Laffitte

The first alleys of the park, the Avenues Albine and Aegle, are contemporary of the castle. The other aisles will be created during the 18C. A map of 1740 shows it as we know it today. A majority of families live in the vineyard, which occupies 40% of the cultivated land. Among the descendants of René de Longueil, figure Jean-René (1700-1731) who received scholars and writers at the château, among which Voltaire. The latter tells in his correspondence the fire which damaged the building in 1724, when he left after being treated with smallpox.

Starting with the king, to please Madame de Pompadour in 1747, then to Madame du Barry in 1770 to sell the castle. But king Louis XV did not let himself be engaged in these operations and Soyécourt ended up selling Maisons in 1777 to the count of Artois, brother of king Louis XVI and future king Charles X, who complemented the embellishments. The French Revolution has finally put an end to this procrastination. The count of Artois fled to England, and the estate was put under receivership in 1792.  Put on sale in 1797 as national property, the ensemble is awarded to Jean Lanchère (1727-1805), supplier to armies interested in the profits he can make of the buildings, Lanchère destroys some pavilions, sells sculptures… to finally resell the Castle in  1804 to Marshal Lannes after his death in 1809 at the Battle of Essling, his wife, the Duchess of Montebello, sometimes received the emperor in visits. The latter, in 1810, ordered the construction of the first bridge between Sartrouville and Maisons.

Maisons laffitte

In 1813, the Duchess received the Empress Marie-Louise, of whom she had been a lady of honour for three years. In 1818, she sells the estate of Maisons in favour of Jacques Laffitte. Opponent of king Charles X (the former owner of the castle, between 1777 and 1789, while he was Count of Artois), Jacques Laffitte welcomed many members of the political opposition to Maisons. It is therefore logical that he exerts decisive influence during the revolution of 1830.

Maisons laffitte

Jacques Laffitte is appointed President of the Council and Minister of Finance of the king. Overwhelmed by political agitation, he left the post in 1831, and came out pretty much ruined from the adventure. As a result of these events, he decided to divide the estate of Maisons to carry out a fruitful real estate operation. In 1833, the stables and other dependencies were destroyed in order to provide building materials for the purchasers of the park lots.  In 1834 is deposited before notary the specifications of this subdivision, a copy of which is, even today, given to each purchaser in the park. The idea of this specification is to lay the principles of construction of this “city in the countryside”. To ensure the service of the properties, Jacques Laffitte is led to open new avenues in the park. Starting from the already existing backbone (avenues Aegle, Albine…), he traces geometric figures. He also draws a cross of the Legion of Honour around the place Napoleon and the Circle of fame, from which avenues will bear the names of the battles of the emperor.

Jacques Laffitte died on May 26, 1844, carried by a pulmonary disease. The estate passes to the hands of his daughter Albine, who proceeds from 1846 to an auction of the remaining lots and who will eventually sell the estate in 1850, including the 33 hectares including the Castle. Charles Laffitte, a large horse-sport enthusiast, is a founding member of the Jockey Club in Paris, where the Encouragement society will be established. He owned the “Le Val-Fleuri” property in the park where the Malesherbes room is currently located, although the property was much larger.

The remains of the water machine of Maisons-Laffitte on the small arm of the Seine. It was probably built by François Mansart at the request of René de Longueil to fuel his future Castle of Maisons in 1634. Destroyed in 1885, it remains today that the three masonry abutments on which the machine rested. The wonderful  Château de Maisons-Laffitte (b. 1643). is considered a masterpiece of 17C civil architecture. Constituting a reference in the history of French architecture, it marks the transition between the end of late Renaissance architecture and that of classicism. I let you see my other post on it , very nice castle worth a visit while in the Paris area.

Inaugurated in 1878, the Hippodrome de Maisons-Laffitte (horse racecourse)  is part of the series of racing fields built during the second half of the 19C  in the region of ïle de France in addition to the Grands racecourses of Paris (Auteuil, Longchamp, Saint-Cloud and Vincennes) and alongside those of the Marche in Marnes-La-Coquette (1851), Enghien (1879), Saint-Ouen (1881) and Colombes (1883). A runway of 4 680 meters in grass, located on the edge of the Seine. The straight line of more than 2 000 meters is the longest in Europe with the Rowley Mile Course in Newmarket (Suffolk, England). The Hippodrome de Maisons-Laffitte has the peculiarity of being the only course of flat runs  in Île-de-France where horses can run rope left and rope right in the same meeting of races. Different track configurations are possible, with a total of 35 different departures: A right-hand rope track (1 600 meters to 3 200 meters), a left-hand rope track (1 400 meters to 2 400 meters), and a straight line (2 000 meters). More here: http://www.france-galop.com/fr/hippodromemaisonslaffitte

Contemporaries of the château, several pavilions also of François Mansart: Two at the entrance of the Parc de Maisons-Laffitte, framing the two gates of Maisons-Laffitte, once closed by a grid. Two others a little further, very revamped, in the extension of Avenue Albine. A fifth in the northern cellars, Eglé Avenue, at another end of the park.  An old church of the 11C and 16C, disaffected in 1896, today Exhibition Center. The Fountain of Maisons-Laffitte, in the village, next door, dating from the 18C.  A Benedictine priory that the tradition brought back to the 15C, which survives the exterior structure with two pepper towers at the end of the street of the same name, very reshuffle before and after long served as a school of the village.

You have the nice Church of Saint Nicolas, at 13 rue de la muette. The Church is built between 1867-1872 in a neo Roman style on the land of an old cemetery given by the city.

Several mansions such as the one at 30 avenue Pascal. The Doulton Pavilion made by the British pottery company Royal Doulton for the Universal Exhibition of 1878. After the exhibition, the façade was reassembled in the Parc de Maisons-Laffitte and a house was built in the back.  At 35 Avenue Belleforière, Villa sur jardin of 1923 , it is now divided into apartments and the garden Loti is occupied by several buildings.  At 2 Avenue du General-Leclerc, call the  Florentine Villa built in 1905 . Also, several other building of great architecture interest such as the Juillard Property, Guard Pavilion, 72 rue de Paris , mansion at 2 rue de la mute, mansion at  24 Avenue Eglé,  mansion at  21bis Avenue Eglé , mansion at  39 Avenue Albine,  the Hotel Royal of Maisons-Laffitte, a building at 36bis rue de la mute.

I like to tell you here that we have eaten out and shopped at Maisons Laffitte as well and is sublime. Some open still and some close here for the memories.

One of my all time favorite places to eat, drink and be seen just by the theater and other side of RER/train station and right on the chic 46 avenue de Longueil, is L’Avenue, that is right, the avenue; we have burgers, pizzas, salads, specials of the day like steaks, fish, with a good selection of wines and beers. For Lunch bill came to about 12 euros per person. Unfortunately no longer there there is the Le 46 now.

Another one, I come is Caffe et Cucina, 36 avenue de Longueil, classic italian, with a nice terrace ,and even better prices. Webpage: http://www.pizzeria-restaurant-cucina.fr/fr/

For those special occassions, we had visited Le Tastevin,9 Avenue Eglé  right after the archdoors into the gardens and near the castle. Great traditional French food exquisively done. https://www.letastevin-restaurant.fr/

The best bakery pastry store around, boulangerie/patisserie Ledoux, 26, Avenue Longueil, real bread old traditional way nothing added, and great pastries such as the almond and chocolate croissants. Unfortunately no longer there

The ultimate upscale grocery store, and a tradition at Maisons Laffitte, my buys are here even for that special olive oil crackers from Seville, Spain.  As well as the cheeses and wines. The Epicerie de Longueil, 28, avenue de Longueil , right along and there since 1880. The webpage: https://www.epiceriedelongueil.com/

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and it is a must are

Maisons Laffitte on history and heritage :  http://www.maisonslaffitte.fr/index.php/Histoire-et-patrimoine?idpage=3&afficheMenuContextuel=true

Official page of the Chateau de Maisons:  http://www.chateau-maisons.fr/en/

Tourist office of Maisons Laffitte:  http://www.tourisme-maisonslaffitte.fr/

The Friends of Chateau de Maisons assoc in French :  http://www.maisonslaffitte.net/

There you go ,you are all set for a wonderful experience believe me. Hope it helps.

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

June 24, 2018

Potager du Roi or the King’s gardens Versailles!

And as I was drawn into gardens with my dear late wife Martine, we had visited several over the years. This one is especial because it was our backyard for many years ,and we purchase fruits and vegetables from it while living in Versailles. Of course, talking about the Potager du Roi or the King’s Vegetable Garden.

It is a historical fact of the city and seldom overlook by the hordes of tourists rushing to see the castle museum; they are really missing a nice piece of history here;and good fruits/vegetables too!!!

The King’s vegetable garden or potager du roi was created in 1683 near the Château de Versailles (the works were from from 1678 to 1683) for King Louis XIV by Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie, then director of the Royal Gardens. Became an urban garden, it stretches over 9 hectares.

Required important work to dry out the pre-existing swamp, the “stinking pond”, and backfill the land with good quality land from the Satory hills. Important masonry works, for the construction of terraces and high walls, were carried out by the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart. The vegetable garden is next to the Swiss water room (piéce d’eau des Suisses), not far from the Orangery. The king entered through a monumental wrought iron gate, the “King’s grate” which overlooks the alley of the water room. It is one of the most beautiful in Versailles. It is one of the few original grids. Grid of the king between the vegetable garden and the water room of the Swiss (piéce d’eau des Suisses).

The finished garden looked very much as it looks today. It covered 25 acres (about 9 hectares), with a circular pond and fountain in the center, surrounded by a Grand Carré, a large square made up of 16 squares of vegetables. Around this was a raised terrace from which the King could watch the gardeners work. A high wall surrounded the Grand Carré (big square), and behind the wall there are 29 enclosed gardens, with fruit trees and vegetables. The careful arrangement of the different chambers of the gardens created individual microclimates, which allowed La Quintinie to grow fruits and vegetables out of their usual season. La Quintinie supervised the gardens until his death in 1688. His post was occupied briefly by his colleague, Nicolas Besnard, and then was taken over by François Le Normand in 1690. Le Normand’s two sons and their descendants ran the potager du Roi for the next ninety years. Jacques-Louis Le Normand, the last member of the family to direct the potager du Roi, died in 1782, and the garden came under the direction of Alexandre Brown, of English origin, who was the gardener at the royal garden at Choisy.

In 1793, during the French revolution, the garden plots were rented out and the tools and plants, including the eight hundred pineapple plants, were auctioned off. In 1795, the Convention, the revolutionary government, declared the potager to be a national institute, the tenant farmers were ejected, and the garden became a school and scientific center.

The vegetable garden or potager is made up of two sections:
A central part devoted to the cultivation of vegetables, the “Grand Carre” or large square of a surface of 3 hectares. It is divided into 16 squares arranged around a large circular basin adorned with a central water jet, which serves as a reserve for water, and surrounded by 4 raised terraces that turn it into a sort of theatrical scene. The squares are surrounded by pear trees on espaliers. At the end of the 18C, the terraces of the sunrise and the sunset were transformed into ramps to facilitate the movement of the carts. In the below photo you see the terrace wall on left and the Cathedral of St Louis afar.

Versailles

Scattered all around and enclosed with high walls, a dozen (originally 29) of rooms, gardens containing vegetables, berries and above all fruit trees, apple and pear tree mainly, partly espaliered on the walls or in free form or conduit in espaliers. In 1785, 6 walls were removed in the southern part, too humid and not adequately ventilated, leaving only 5 gardens instead of 11.

The King’s Vegetable garden, or potager du roi ,which has an orchard of some 5 000 fruit trees (more than 400 different varieties), produces good year bad year about 50 tons of fruit and 20 tons of vegetables, part of which is sold in the store boutique (open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays morning). The King’s Garden is open to the public since 1991 (visit from Tuesday to Sunday from 10h to 18h, from the first weekend of April to the last weekend in October).

The vegetable garden housed successively the Central School during the revolution, the National Agronomic Institute in 1848, then the National School of Horticulture in 1873. It later became the national Higher School of Horticulture (ENSH), transferred to Angers in 1995 (now the INHP (National Institute of Horticulture and Landscape). It has been placed since 1976 under the responsibility of the National Higher School of Landscape (Nphs), which was originally a division of the ENSH.

Some nice views and other things to see inside are :
The Levier Orchard, with a central aisle and the water jet with views of the St. Louis Cathedral . The Big Square or Grand Carré; The students ‘ gardens(jardin des élèves), the orchard of the Fourth of eleven, (Le verger du Quatrième des Onze) with apple and pear trees; Statue of Jean- Baptiste de la Quintinie holding a graft and a serpent.

Some nice nearby which we love to go and secluded quiet and great history is the Parc de Balbi ;the story goes in 1785, the Count of Provence, brother of king Louis XVI and future king Louis XVIII, bought for himself and his mistress, Anne de Caumont La Force, the Countess of Balbi, a property adjoining the potager du Roi. He then commissioned his architect, Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin, to design and build a country house, known as Le pavillon de la pièce d’eau des Suisses (or the pavilion of the piece of Swiss waters, well sort of..) , and an English garden, the Parc Balbi on the estate. The new garden had a winding stream, islands, and a belvedere atop an artificial grotto, in the picturesque style of the time. In 1798, the pavillon and garden features were demolished, but traces of the alleys and the lake are still visible, the park is still there and free. More on this park from the tourist office of Versailles: http://en.versailles-tourisme.com/cultural-heritage/balbi-park-943149

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and you should take time to visit are

Official webpage of the Potager du Roi :  http://www.potager-du-roi.fr/site/potager/index.htm

Management of the Potager du Roi :  http://www.ecole-paysage.fr/site/ecole_fr/potager_du_roi.htm
A site for all gardens of France on the Potager du roi :  https://www.jardinsdefrance.org/bis-le-potager-du-roi-a-versailles/

Versailles tourist office on the potager du roi or the King’s vegetable garden:  http://en.versailles-tourisme.com/visit-and-explore-versailles-the-royal-town/a-town-to-discover/the-king-s-vegetable-garden
The WMF of USA helping restore the Potager du Roi:  http://www.ecole-paysage.fr/site/ensp_fr/ESSAI.htm

And there you go a jewel in my beloved Versailles, many memories with the family and hope you too cen enjoy it with yours.

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

June 24, 2018

Metropole Nantes!

I was going to see some World Cup games with a friend near Nantes city, and as usually go by there on my trips out by plane at Nantes Atlantique airport the trip was on usual territory. One of my best friends just moved there, and we went to visit and share some pints with the football/soccer games of the World Cup.

 

The games were so so on the first game Belgium beat Tunisia 5×2 a really lopsided game. The following one was a bit better as Mexico doing an excellent World Cup beat South Korea 2×1, and finally the best matchup of the day saw Germany beat Sweden 2×1 on a last minute free kick from Real Madrid ‘ player Toni Kroos , superb shot and kept Germany with chances of continue and avoiding catastrophy at home. More on official webpage: https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/

All with plenty of pints from Germany, Belgium, and Brittany and munchies food plancha style. And with good company. the town is Orvault and it is one of 24 comprising the metropole of Nantes as well as the 5th biggest town in it.

A bit of info in French from the city of Orvault with a map of what is the Metropole of Nantes:  http://www.orvault.fr/mairie/presentation-de-la-ville/orvault-dans-la-metropole

The site in French of the Nantes Metropole on Orvault is here:  https://www.nantesmetropole.fr/institution-metropolitaine/24-communes/orvault-22473.kjsp

Of course ,Orvault is today in dept 44 Loire-Atlantique, région of Pays de la Loire ; and was on the historic territory of Brittany. Dense traffic around here even if on weekends is ok; The national road N165 (known as route de Vannes because it goes my way there) is actually starts here by the beltway or boulevard périphérique of Nantes. This one crosses Orvault,and it has two exits/sorties or call here gates or Portes these are the porte de Rennes at No 37,and porte d’Orvault at no 36. There are no train station because it uses that of Nantes. The tramway is connected on line 2 which goes around the area we were (even if we went by car lol!) this line has the departure and terminus at Orvault-Grand Val, it goes by Le Cardo, and reaches Nantes city, and line 3 by the districts of Beauséjour , Plaisance, and Petit Chantilly. There is also a bus line 86.

 

We really went to see friends as locals, but it has some interesting spots to see as always in these territories worth coming back for the tourist look. Some of these are:

The Château de La Tour built in the 12C, and renovated in the 16C and again after 1900. It was done of granite stone in the neo gothic style of the 20C. The Chapel of the castle was built in the 15C ; it has a stained glass showing the founders of it done in the 16C shown also the Calvary and the deposition of the Cross. There is also, the Château de la Morlière a manoir or big mansion house of the 18C. As well as the newer Château de la Gobinière built in 1872. In 1923, the castle was given to a Catholic congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Comptenplacies, that in turn in 1951 left it to another congregation of the Sisters of Retirements. The Diocese of Nantes sold the castle to the city of Orvault in 1976. The Castle is surrounded by a park, named today as parc Michel-Baudry (that was the mayor when it was sold to the city). There is a municipal theater call the théâtre de la Gobinière in the property. There is a Church of Saint-Léger from the end of the 19C.

Well as said, not a tourist visit but a personal one, and we went by the route de Vannes and Rennes; and of  course we went to get some goodies at the wonderful E Leclerc hypermarché just walking distance from the house. Webpage here:  http://www.e-leclerc.com/orvault

Nantes

And the most important the beers, no time to stay ,just came to purchase and take home for the games at the Bistrot Houblon also at walking distance from the house. Their webpage is at Facebook here:  https://www.facebook.com/bistrothoublon/

Nantes Nantes

At the end we stayed on untl 3h or 3am or a very nice party ambiance amongst friends really nice these days to have a stop like this, especially in my situation. I just wanted to make it part of my blog so the memories can lingered more. And now for more games at the World Cup today!!!

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

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June 24, 2018

A look back at Chateau Thoiry in the Yvelines!!!

Looking back at the places we have been as a family ,so many, I have come to realized sometimes do not write enough on certains ones. This is one of them, this is a wonderful castle and property that even one blog post won’t do justice. A must to see away from Paris. I have written some spots in several of my posts in the past, this is the first time stand alone. Enjoy it.

I am talking about the Castle of Thoiry and the Animal park or zoo that is there. Château de Thoiry is a Renaissance castle located in Thoiry in the Yvelines department 78, some 50 km west of Paris, and 30 km from Versailles. The roads are nice quaint the real pleasure of driving in Europe, you have the D11 that cuts the town in half, towards Villiers-Saint-Frédéric and the N12 to Septeuil, the D45 goes to Richebourg and then Maule and Orgeval. The D119 runs almost the length parallel to the D11 to get you to Beynes and Hargeville. The closest train station is at Beynes 7 km and Montfot-l’Amaury-Mére at 8km.

A bit of history I like. Raoul II of Moreau, grandson of the first owner of the building, led the castle’s one and only sale of its history. On May 1, 1612, he provoked a duel and killed Ann le Blanc de Rault at the gates of the castle. Condemned to death for this murder, he exiled himself to Rome. His property seized, the Château de Thoiry was entrusted by the king to Guillaume Marescot. Since its acquisition in 1612 by Guillaume Marescot, the Château de Thoiry has remained for thirteen generations the property of the same family, the transmission often being by women.

Angélique de Marescot married Charles de Machault Arnouville , later Charles must leave Angélique to find his troops, since he is in the regiment of Languedoc-Dragons (he will be Colonel in 1780). During those years when Charles will be away from Angelica regularly, they will write 1500 letters of love, 6000 pages in total. These pages kept in the archives of Thoiry are a gold mine where we find the small details of daily life of the times.

At the dawn of the Revolution, Angélique de Bandi, Charles de Machault and their children are in Paris. They left the capital after the Bastille took refuge in Thoiry. The family was denounced in December 1793 by the teacher at the Montfort Battalion at the city’s supervisory committee. He was reportedly saying that Charles ‘ son-in-law and brother had emigrated abroad, which was a punishable offence. They were therefore arrested on 20 May 1794. Condemned to the guillotine, they were rescued extremist from death. It was after the fall of Robespierre that the chain executions stopped. They were released on October 25, 1794.

Eugene, comte de La Coourse, his wife and Marie Hélène Béjot had made a vow at the beginning of the war of 1914: If the Germans had been stopped before Thoiry, they would consecrate the chapel to the Sacred Heart. Exhausted from the war, Eugene died in 1919 of the Spanish flu. His widow realized his vow to built the Chapel.

During WWII, Thoiry was often chosen by the German Army as a resting place for his troops in 1940, the Countess of La Coourse was told that her son, Lieutenant Antoine de la Coourse had avoided his regiment being surrounded in Belgium. , but that he had been wounded three times and left for dead. Saved by a German surgeon, Antoine was repatriated.

The castle, open to the public since 1965 by Count Antoine de La Coourse, is also famous for its zoo animal park. The entire castle does not visit. Only a few rooms on the ground floor are open to the public. The room with the staircase of honor is adorned with four tapestries of the Goblins series The Love of the gods, the arms of the poet Guillaume Budé: Venus in the bath, Diane returning from the hunt, the myth of Narcissus, and the abduction of Europe. In the entrance are several portraits, one of which represents Marie-Hélène Béjot, Countess of La Coourse.

Chateau Thoiry Chateau Thoiry

Salon of the Matin (morning room) this room retains a collection of porcelain plates. The furniture consists of several armchairs of the 18C, one of the Regency style, the other of Louis XV style, a last Louis XVI style. The chapel is dedicated to the Sacred Heart after WWI vows. The stained glass windows represent, among other things, two angels bearing the arms of Raoul and den Motet (referring to their participation in the 1248 Crusade). A Virgin to the Child and Enfant in stained glass, ceramic made by Della Robbia adorns the interior. The oak altar dates from 1754.

The Archive room of the Château de Thoiry retains several tens of thousands of documents, of which only a few are visible. These include several letters (signed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Châteaubriand, Rodin, Lamartine, Eugène Sue, George Sand…), genealogical trees, photographs, miscellaneous objects, medals and official documents.

Salon of the Tapisserie is a room that owes its name to the tapestry of the goblins of which it is adorned. The exhibition has several portraits: one representing the Chancellor of Ponchartrain, the other Jean-Baptiste de Machault Arnouville. The lounge is also furnished with two 17C busts and a 17C Dutch chandelier.

The  Lounge Vertes Salon has a monumental 19C fireplace, a copy of the Renaissance chimney of the hotel Vogüé de Dijon. The furniture consists in particular of a series of armchairs, sofas and shepherdesses, a Dutch marquesy of the 17C, a small table of the 17C in fine marquetry supported by four gilded wooden caryatids, and a 17C dog bed. The piece also retains a tapestry representing king Henri IV chasing the Lion and a collection of portraits such as the  Portrait of Young Girl by Nicolas de Largillierre, Portrait of Galéas de Marescotti, Portrait of king Louis XV Child by the workshop of Hyacinthe Rigaud, portrait of Monsieur le Duc d’Orléans representing the brother of Louis XIV.

The large vestibule, covered with woodwork, is furnished with a chest-style inlay and a Regency-era ice, surrounded by two Roman busts. The rest of the furniture consists of the car chair of Charles de Machault Arnouville and a cassone, wedding chest dating from 1450, brought back from Italy by the Marescoti and restored in 2007. The vestibule is adorned with several portraits including two pastels representing Jean-Baptiste de Machault Arnouville and his wife Geneviève Rusty, a Portrait of a gentleman by Nicolas de Largillierre and a portrait of Alexandre Millan by Hyacinthe Rigaud.

The libraries are surmounted on their cornices of Imari vases of Japan. They retain a collection of old works of music salon or white salon furnished with two shepherdesses , an office in fine marquetry and above a roll signed Lardin, a table of Migeon stone, sofas and armchairs.  Due to club Père, tens of tapestries of Aubusson illustrating the fables of La Fontaine, armchairs made by Pissard and Jean, rafraichissoirs of China offered by king  Louis XV, and a harpsichord painted in 1750, near forty years after his realization, of grotesques and monkeys musicians by Christophe Huet, animal painter of the king.

This Angelique room owes its name to the various women bearing the name of Angélique who were the owners of the castle: Angélique de Bandi, Angélique de Marescot, Angélique de Vogüé and Angélique Apougny. The furniture of the room consists of a Migeon stone reading, a Regency-style dresser and another of turcot, corners, benches and a canopy bed, a dresser decorated with bronze. The walls are adorned with several portraits: a portrait of Angelique representative of a young Marescot, a portrait of Angelique representative of Vogüé, a portrait of Angélique Apougny and another of Michel de Marescot by Nicolas de Largillierre, a portrait of Angélique de Bandi and a portrait of Charles de Machault.

The Chinese boudoir retains an 18C hairdresser, a spittoon, and a cane chair concealing a pierced chair. The painted silks of the boudoir were imported from Asia in the 18C. The gardens of 450 hectares are wonderful see below.

The Animal park takes place within the domaine of Château de Thoiry, located on the rural communes of Thoiry and Villiers-le-Maca. Opened in 1968 and first managed by its founder, Antoine de la Coourse, then by his son Paul, it is now managed by Antoine de la Panouse since 1968. This Zoological Park, which extends over 150 of the 450 hectares that includes the estate, presents about 750 animals belonging to approximately 46 species of mammals, 26 species of birds and 9 species of reptiles. It also has amphibians and invertebrates. It features a safari party, visitable by car, a more traditional pedestrian area and a 126 hectares botanical park comprising several theme gardens: Autumn gardens, perfumes, English, Labyrinth, Rose Garden, and an inverted floor.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and it is worth a detour are.

More on the castle and park at official webpage : https://www.thoiry.net/

See the Paris tourist office in English: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/72776/Parc-zoologique-de-Thoiry

City of Thoiry webpage in French: http://www.thoiry78.fr/Frameset-Histoire.html

Hope it helps. Remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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