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 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 palais episcopal jun10

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

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 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 23, 2018

Welcome back to Castres!

I go around this region a lot in the past due to my dear late wife Martine roots, and while there we decided to go to Castres on the extreme east of our trails for the curiosity of the Goya Museum there. It was a pleasant decision and a nice visit. If anything for the same Goya Museum….!

Let me bring you up to speed on the wonderful Castres. Castres is a town in the department of Tarn (81) in the region of Occitanie.. 42 km south southeast of Albi ,15 km of Mazamet, and 72 km from Toulouse. The town is cross by the Agout river a tributary of the Tarn river that joins here with the Durenque and the Thorate rivers.

castres

A bit of history I like

Castres has an Origin around the Benedictine abbey of St. Benedict, which is supposed to have been founded about the year 647 on the right bank of the Agout by Lords of the Court of Sigisbert III , becoming an important stop on the international routes of Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela (through via Tolosane) to Spain. The Abbey Church, built in the 9C, keeps the relics of Saint Vincent, the renowned martyr of Spain. The former abbey of the Order of Saint-Benoit, located in the Diocese of Albi, dependent on Saint-Victor of Marseille, to which the body of Saint Vincent had been brought in 955. Bertrand was a monk and abbot in 1317, when Pope John XXII, originally from Cahors, erected it in the bishopric by Bulle in the same year of 1317..

During the Albigeois Crusade, a delegation of Castres surrendered and pledged allegiance to the Crusader Simon de Montfort. Castres entered the kingdom of France in 1271 with the Treaty of Paris, in the absence of successors in the county of Toulouse. In 1317, Pope John XXII established Castres as a bishopric; it will remain so until the French Revolution. In 1356, the seigneury of Castres was promoted to county by King John II of France. The county entered the crown of the king of France, Francis I in 1519.

In the years 1530-1560, a large proportion of the population of Castres was converted to Protestantism and there would be three successive Huguenot rebellions (1620-1622, 1625-1626 and 1627-1629). The revocation of the Edict of Nantes follows soon, and Castres suffers greatly when a large number of Protestants choose exile.

During the French revolution, the clergy was divided between unsubmissive clergy (refractory: Those who remain faithful to the papacy) and the swearing clergy (constitutional). In 1792, the refractory are all banished from France. Those who remained many face executions by the guillotine held on the present place of the Albin. In 1794, it was on this square of the albin that the scaffold lay, at the site of the present Halle aux Grains .A High cross near the forecourt of the Church of Saint-Jean-Saint-Louis reminds us of these events.

In the Great War or WWI, the city suffered a lot of casualties. For example, the rugby team at Castres Olympique was decimated during the conflict. In 1942, the Nazis occupied Castres. They took two German cannons of 1914-1918 because these two pieces of artillery were recovered by the French army at the end of the Great War constituting a war trophy. These two cannons were exposed, during the inter-war period, to the present place where the monument was erected in homage to the dead soldiers for France Castres was liberated by the FFI of Zone A of the Tarn, including an American OSS Commando and the Company Marc Haguenau des Maquis de Vabre, in August 1944.

The city counts with many nice places to see and it is very quaint nice such as St. Benedict’s (St Benoit) Cathedral, the episcopal seat of the former Diocese of Castres, is today the most important of the churches of Castres; Dating back only to the 17C and 18C , the City/town hall occupies the former Episcopal palace, conceived in the 17C by the famous architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart (the architect of Versailles), and finished by the garden of the bishopric by Le Nôtre (Designer of the Gardens of Versailles). Near the palace, the Saint-Benoît tower, Romanesque architecture, is the only vestige of the old Benedictine Abbey. The city has a few mansions from the 16C and 17C, including the Renaissance Hotel de Nayrac.

Let me tell briefly ,some things to see here in quaint historical Castres!

Cathedral St. Benoit (St Benedict) This Cathedral is the largest of Castres. It was built on the site of the abbey, founded in the 9C by the Benedictines, whose remains are the only vestiges of Romanesque architecture which preserved on its faces Lombard strips of the same type as in Saint-Salvi of Albi ; it was consecrated in 1718.

Saint-Jean-Saint-Louis Church of the Albin ; this Church was built in the late 19C. This religious building is located on the edge of the historic city center of Castres. In 1867, the construction began of the Church of Saint-Jean-Saint-Louis, inaugurated in 1873.

Church of St. James of Villegoudou is the center of a passage of the pilgrims heading towards Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It owes its name to the hospital that greeted the pilgrims of Compostela, before the entrance of the city, left bank. The Ogive Church of St. James was built at the end of the 14C. Destroyed in 1567, today only the steeple, a square and massive tower of the south in Gothic style, remains. It is destroyed again in 1574, raised again in 1603; it will become a quarry for the ramparts of the city that welcome the Duke of Rohan in 1621. The spire was added in 1754 and in 1843 was acquired the ground which allows access by the boulevard exterior.

Church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Plate ; it is mentioned first in a text of the late 9C. It will be demolished and rebuilt several times before taking its present form. The Church of today which dates from 1755, is the 5th built on the site of the chapel of the 9C, Destroyed by the Calvinists to strengthen the walls of its stones. The facade of this Baroque church consists of two floors (one Doric, the other ionic) crowned with a triangular pediment. The altar is topped by an altarpiece comprising a statue of Saint Michael . In 1756, the Tuscan sculptors churned out the bas-relief of the Assumption of the Virgin, in Carrara marble, as well as the baptism of Christ from the baptismal fonts. The organ is added in 1764. The bell tower is built in 1771. The set of painted decorations dates back to the second half of the 19C.

Castres has the rare privilege of owning a carillon that has never stopped singing since its installation in 1847. It is part of the Church of Our Lady of the Plate. From this period only the biggest bell, Louise, is from the former Protestant temple destroyed in 1685. The bell tower of the church Notre-Dame de la Plate also has one of the most important and oldest carillons of the midi of France. It has 33 bells (almost three chromatic octaves), the biggest weighing 600 kg and dating back to 1650. It was installed in 1847 and restored in 1976, you can hear it and visit it every first Sunday of the month and the days of great religious feasts (Christmas, Easter…), from 11h to noon.

Some of the nice mansions here are the Hotel Jean dit de Nayrac , Hotel de Viviès , Hotel de Poncet, Hotel Jean Leroy , and see the wonderful houses on the Agout river; these houses were from the Middle Ages were the main place of activity for the artisan of different trades such as Tanners, dyers, parcheminiers, paper and weavers. There is a castle was built in the 19C and belongs to a Castraise family ,it dominates the heights of Castres.

castres

Some interesting streets are the Place Jean-Jaurè former Place Royale under the monarchy of July (1830-1848) , then Imperial square under the Second Empire (1852-1870), and National square under the Third Republic (1871-1920). After the assassination of Jean Jaurès in 1914 in Paris, the place was renamed Place Jean-Jaurès in 1920. Place Soult is another nice one . Nearby is the Mail garden, the bus station and the police hotel. Every December, the market takes place in the place Soult because the Christmas market occupies the square Jean-Jaurès. The place of 8-Mai-1945 is located behind St. Benoit’s Cathedral and the Bishopric of Castres. It is surrounded by old half-timbered houses and arcades extending the episcopal palace .The unit of the 8th Naval Infantry Parachute Regiment (8th RPIMa) is garrisoned in Castres since 1962, neighborhood of Fayolle, Avenue Lieutenant-Jacques-Desplats.

castres

Castres opened in 1840 the Goya Museum, (see post) containing the largest collection of Spanish paintings in France, after the Louvre museum. The Goya Museum is located in a part of the former bishopric of Castres, whose plans were designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, one of the architects of Versailles. More of it here: City of Castres on the Goya Museum:  http://www.ville-castres.fr/fr/musee-goya-presentation

Inaugurated on April 17, 1904, this Italian rococo-style Municipal theater was built on plans by Joseph Galinier, architect of Toulouse and pupil of Charles Garnier. The interior layout reproduces the comic opera of Paris and the exterior architectural style presents an original blend of borrowing from past centuries and references to the decorative language of its time. The painting that adorns the foyer and the dome overlooking the Hall are signed by Jean-Paul Laurens, decorator of the Paris City Hall, the Pantheon and the Capitole de Toulouse. The painting, representing the performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, is entitled “Music” and is dated 1902. In the dome, a sham depicting a torn velum shows scenes of the classic tragedy: Oedipus and his daughter Antigone, Hamlet and the gravediggers, the dream of Athalie and Prometheus chained to the rock.

castres theatre municipal

The wonderful jardin de l’évéche or Garden of the bishop ; this garden “à la Francaise” was designed by André Le Nôtre in the pure tradition of the French classicism of the 17C. A real showcase of the city, it is a must for any visitor.

castres

The jardin du Mail or Garden of the Mail is arranged in a triangle, bordered by the bus station and the place of the obelisk. It replaces, in 1893, the carpet of the game of Mail. The Mail is the ancestor of croquet and golf.fyi

In 1715,the hotel Frascaty was built. After 1760, the hotel Beaudecourt is erected nearby. The moats of the fortifications are filled and, on their site, we trace the current boulevard of the Lices. In a triangle formed by the front of the hotel Frascaty, the line of the garden of the hotel Beaudecourt and the portion of the boulevard between the Tolosane and the new gate, a grove of about 100 abalone is planted. This place is first named the Porte de l’Abalone . In 1865, a public garden project is intended to replace it. Various tree species are planted, the water room is built and the garden is surrounded by a grid, which is now extinct. This square takes the name of Frascaty, because it is inspired by the gardens of this city located in the vicinity of Rome. It is at Place de Frascaty.

Like that of Albert Kahn in Boulogne-Billancourt (near Paris). The Briguiboul Park was organized around a majestic three-Cedar Grove located in front of the staircase. The Cedars date from the Napoleonic campaigns.

Domaine and Parc de Gourjadela of the family Barbara de Labelotterie de Boisséson, this 53 hectares park is located on a site occupied since the Neolithic period. The estate, having been exploited for agriculture and livestock farming, comprises a large-scale manor house dating back to the 19C and agricultural buildings. The buildings of the Metairie and the mill date from the 18C. A chapel, a wash-house, a mills stone cave, a fountain and a basin adorn the surrounding park. The manor house is characteristic of the 19C rural bourgeois architecture.

The Miredames is a wooden boat built in 1990 on the model of the Old River stagecoaches that travelled the rivers and canals until the end of the 19C. Its length is 14.35 meters and its width 4.36 meters for a draught of only 39 cm and a weight of 6.8 tons which allows it to sail on the Agout river. It can board up to 60 passengers. It is a nice ride with time we did not had.

castres pont de miramides on the agout river

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this quaint nice city of Castres are

The tourists office of dept Tarn (81) :  https://www.tourisme-tarn.com/a-voir-a-faire/les-incontournables/castres-montagne-noire

City of Castres on tourist heritage:  http://www.ville-castres.fr/fr/patrimoine

Tourist office of Castres:  http://www.tourisme-castres.fr/index.php?lang=en

There you go enjoy it, it is worth the detour. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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June 22, 2018

Jardines Sabatini and a Moro, wonderful Madrid!

Going back to my beloved Madrid again. Many places of youth still revisited every year. Now let me tell you about a wonderful garden not far from the Royal Palace.

The Jardines Sabatini are a great place to be not only for the location but also, the silhouette of the slopes in it giving you a wonderful view of the Royal Palace and Madrid afar.

A bit on it. The Sabatini Gardens in the classicist style were created in 1933 in the spot that occupied the stables built by Sabatini for the Royal Palace (Palacio Real) , hence the name. Located in front of the Royal Palace’s northern façade, the gardens were completed in 1978. It was king Juan Carlos I who opened the park to the public. Located officially at Calle Bailén, 2 , and the best way other than walking to it is by metro Opera lines 2,5 and Radial and Sol lines 1 ,2 and 3.

Today, a large, round fountain with tritons is at the intersection of the two major axes that are surrounded on all sides by quadrants and conifers, with trees arranged along the perimeter. The quiet secluded atmosphere of the Jardines Sabatini is in part due to the lowered elevation of the gardens, the gardens are approximately 10 meters (about 33 feet) lower than the main Plaza de Oriente. The gardens are connected to Plaza Oriente by a grand stone staircase, an appropriate entrance to the royal gardens .The Jardines Sabatini are named after the Italian architect Francesco Sabatini who during the 18C designed much of the Palacio Real (Royal Palace), this included royal stables which were demolished to create the gardens named after him.

Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid

Another gem nearby and less visited is the Campo del Moro, and also can’t find photos!. The least known and least visited, perhaps because its entrance is on the farthest part of the palace, a bit far from the tourist itinerary. The adjacent gardens of the Campo del Moro lies behind the palace. You will find beautiful shady paths, fountains and peacocks strolling. It is both romantic style with some English garden features. As for its name, the Campo del Moro (the Land of the moor), it comes from the fact that it was the place where the Moorish army camped before their unsuccessful attempt, at the beginning of the 12C to take over the Alcazar (castle). King Felipe IV was the first to develop this space but the Campo del Moro began to take its form as it is known today that in the 1890’s under regent queen Doña María Cristina of Habsburg.

Some webpages to help plan your trip are

Jardines Sabatini

Campo del Moro

I have several entries on them in blog but always link with something else or in my Some News from Spain entries. I believe this is the first time write on them apart, and well worth it. You will be please to visit them

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

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June 21, 2018

The Retiro park, my Retiro, my Madrid!!

Ok so on a semi cloudy  Thursday waiting for the World Cup football/soccer games, I have become nostalgic again. And that means coming back to my beloved Madrid. I lost count of the entries on Madrid or Spain in my blog, but they should be plenty just do search. Madrid is special because not only is my Spain ,but lived there in beautiful moments of my life.

I had to come back to the Retiro park, yes it was practically my backyard, not far from my house a couple metro stops and many times running,chasing,and eating playing you name it in it. The park of my first loves, my youth, my adolescent my early days of free life in my beloved dear Madrid. Even here, my journey with what later become my wife started, my dear late wife Martine (our first trip out of France with her I had to take her to Madrid and the Retiro was grand )still loved to come here each year with me and then with the boys. I can say my life can be resume with one word Retiro. This is Madrid at its best, yes I know ,there are many wonderful monuments and great museums people go to, but for me this is it. If can only have time for one thing would be to come to the Retiro park.

What’s in the name, well , it is known as the Parque del Retiro or Parque del Buen Retiro,and popularly call simply El Retiro. In its historique life ,it was also known as the Parque de Madrid, as you can still see written in some gates or Puertas coming to the park. . This was used when it was made part of the municipality of Madrid in the last third of the 19C. It is, also,known as the Jardines del Retiro or Jardines del Buen Retiro, even if this name has a restriction covering only the area created in the end of the 20C where today you have the Palacio de Cibeles on lands that belonged to the Royal Palace.

And, will give you a run down for things to see and do in it. Of course, not exhaustive, heck you can get almost anything there now…  Let me briefly tells you about some of the wonders inside the Parque del Retiro.

The gates or Puertas:

Puerta de Felipe IV (or Mariana de Neoburgo) is the oldest gate today in Madrid done in 1680.

Puerta de la Independencia, done in 1817 as entry gate to the Casino de la Reina located in the Ronda de Toledo. In 1885 it was transferred to the Retiro park by the Cibeles fountain and square.

Puerta de España done in 1893 located at Calle Alfonso XII connecting to the Calle Antonio Maura and the big lake or Estanque Grande by the Paseo de la Argentina (before name paseo de las Estatuas or statues)

Puerta de Madrid at the corner of Calle de Alcalà and Calle O’Donnell, it is open to the Paseo de Fernán Núñez (or Paseo de Coches/ carriages),the longest in the Retiro (the Promenade).

Puerta de Hernani, first built in 1888 in metal, replaced in 1943 for a bigger one, located in the Calle de Alcalà in front is my family Church Iglesia de San Manuel y San Benito.

The monument/buildings:

The Ermita de San Pelayo y San Isidoro, built in the 11C outside the gates of Avila and brought to the Retiro park in 1896; now only the abside and a lateral door remains.

Real Observatorio Astronomico, built in 1790 on the height of the hill or cerro de San Blas in the Retiro that today are next to the Prado museum and the Royal Botanical Gardens part of the idea to give Madrid a district of Natural Sciences!

Palacio de Velàzquez while holding events in the Retiro park one of them was done here built between 1881-1883 for the national exposition of mining, metarulogical, ceramics, glass and mineral waters.

Palacio de Cristal (Crystal palace) an architecture of glass and metal to house different species of vegetables coming from the Philippines due to the exposition of 1887 on the country. As well as the Palacio de Velazquez ,the Palacio de Cristal is used for exposition center of the Reina Sofia Museum.

And it has many fountains , such as:

They  have from the 18C, two fountains in the parterre garden that are twin representations . there is also , the Fuente de la Alcachofa built in 1871. From the 19C , we have the Fuente Egipcia located next to the big lake or Estanque Grande as well as smaller fountains such as the Fuente de la Salud y Fuente de la Gruta decorated with corals simulating caves, and the Fuente de los Galapagos with a pedestal like a palm with children figures mount on dolphins on the base; this one was first set up at the street Red de San Luis in the Gran Via in 1831. In 1879 it was transferred to the Retiro park at the Plaza de Nicaragua, near the big lake. The popular Fuente del Angel Caido built in 1885 and some said the only fountain of a devil in Spain . From the 20C we have the Fuente de Cuba done in 1929 as a monument to the nation of Cuba as well as the Fuente de la Gaviota 1962 located in the gardens or Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez (inside Retiro park of course) surrounded by a sculpture group.

Madrid

There are walks, trails, promenades inside Retiro park , my favorites are:

The Parterre of course. One of the first gardens on the French style done in Spain; work began in 1716 and finished in 1722.

Paseo de la Argentina (or de las Estatuas (Statues) ) there are parallel to the Parterre. Takes its name because of the statues on its sides belonging to a series of Spanish kings created by the middle of the 18C to decorate the corners and niches of the Royal Palace on orders of king Carlos III ,however,he later figure they were too much and removed them. After several decades in storage, by 1843, they were rescue and put in several spots around Madrid and elsewhere in Spain. In Madrid, you can see them at the Plaza de Oriente and the gardens of Sabatini or Jardines de Sabatini, both near the Royal Palace.

Jardín madrileño. Came from reforms pushed by queen Isabel II from 1841 and this garden is located to the south of the Parterre.

Paseo de Fernán Núñez (or de Coches (carriages)).Done in 1874 and vehicules were still permitted on it until 1981. It is a big promenade all along the park.

La Rosaleda, done in 1915 by famous Spanish gardener Cecilio Rodriguez (1865-1953) similar to the one at the jardin de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris from which the gardener brought 12000 roses of more than 350 species, and created a greenhouse of steel and glass very near the Paseo de Fernàn Nûnez. Upon the Spanish Civil war it was badly damaged and was rebuilt it in 1941.

Jardines del Arquitecto Herrero Palacios (former Casa de Fieras or zoo) ; this was the old zoo of Casa de Fieras created in 1774 by king Carlos III in the street Cuesta de Moyano (where today you have a book stalls fairs each year) In 1830 it was transferred to the Retiro park upon instructions of king Fernando VII. Eventually, transferred to the Casa de Campo in 1972 (where the zoo still is) the place was name after the architect that was the gardener at the time. The place is very nice and it is preserved many parts of the simple old zoo like the pavilions, cages, and sculptures from the original zoo. Some were decorated and the pavilion called La Leonera o( the lioness from the first third of the 19C now it is a library on site!

Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez, the pioneer gardener of Retiro park who built one of his original gardens here as an extention of the Casa de Fieras (old zoo) done in 1918. When the Spanish Civil War destroyed it and the same gardener rebuilt it in 1941. On the rebuilding he change the decoration and laidout of the garden with a rectangular floor flank on three sides by pavilions that are now used for official events. IT houses several elements of gardening, fountains, pergolas, basins, ornamental columns, chess floors and sculptures groups from Hispanic Arabesque look.

Bosque del Recuerdo ( rememberance forest) was done in 2004 at the Plaza del Emperador Carlos V in honor of the victims of the terrorist act of March 11, by 2005 was place at the southwest side of Retiro park very near the Atocha train station. It is an artificial mountain surrounded by a basin on which are planted 170 cypress trees, 22 olive trees in honor of the 192 fallen on the terrorist act.

Madrid

The Retiro park also has as we call it Caprichos or whims usually of a king or queen. Two of them ,I have already discussed it above such as the Fuente Egipcia (Egyptian style fountain) and Casa de Fieras (the zoo). Those now still there are

Casita del Pescador. Fisherman’s house is a small house of square shape and two levels with roof in zinc and water spouts.

Montaña Artificial. Also known as the Montaña Rusa de los Gatos (rollercoaster mountain of the cats) because of cat sculptures on it. It is a hill on steps with lots of vegetation and corals on which you see several cascades that falls into a basin . There is a trail on the sides crossing several bridges with towers like a fortress in miniature and inside there is a funerary space from which you can come by three doors .However, check because it was closed for deterioration and do not know if re open

Casa de Vacas. Or house of cows here it used to milked cows and provide milk. Right now it has been rebuilt due to the storm of 1886 and the fire of 1982, Today it is a cultural center of the city of Madrid.

Casa del Contrabandista. The contraband house, as the previous one it has been rebuilt due to its use as a hostal lodging during the 20C and 21C. It was designed as a water wheel that is why circular and covered like a dome. At the roots of it had a collection of automates with Andalucian motifs such as a priest, and a bandid contraband that is why the name of the house.

Castillete medieval. A small medieval castle originally called the Torre del Retiro or the tower of Retiro with a middle ages aspect with four angle towers, three levels and a flat cover. At the end of the 20C was given to the Meteorological service currently it is without use and in bad shape.

Some of the lakes or estanques in the Retiro park you can see today are

Estanque Ochavado (or de las Campanillas (small bells)) The date of construction is not known but it has to be before the big lake or Estanque Grande. It is done with eight sides and a small isle in the center with a coral decoration today

Estanque Grande or big lake, was ordered built in 1634 done to extract water for the Royal Palace and use for fishing and boating as well as theatrical shows . In 1817 it was built a pavillon with oriental designs and later destroyed tobuilt what you see today the Monument to Alfonso XII. In 1917,it was done a new one located on the north side that caught fire and again was rebuilt in 1926 as the one that has reach our days. Just a must ,gorgeous spot many memories crying just to write on it.

Madrid

Ría de Patinar. An skating stream done in 1876 to replace a previous one that is now at the Rosaleda. It was chosen an area shady to keep the water colder frozen even so that the ice skating could be done, it has an oval shape around a garden isle.

Estanque del Palacio de Cristal ; small lake right in front of the palace built in 1887. Done in a rocky cave and a nice water basin.

Rias del Estanque Grande y Ria de La Chopera; on each side of the monument to Alfonso XII the two merge.160 for the Estanque and 200 for Chopera meters long , not known when they were created but probably end of the 19C, shown in maps until 1900. The Ria de La Chopera is from the same time and has 200 meters running.

Estanque Rustico, the gardener Cecilio Rodriguez did this one to provide water to his gardens from 1918 , the lake has a bridge and a masonry factory with brick lines.

There are the statues still left in the Retiro park from the times of king Carlos III, these are kings done in the 18C along the Paseo de la Argentina or de las Estatuas along the paseo from west to east are Fernando IV of Leon and Castilla, Sancho IV of Leon and Castilla, Enrique II of Castilla, Garcia I de Leon, Urraca of Leon and Castilla, Berenguela of Castilla, an empty pedestal follows then, Gundemaro, Visigoth king, Carlos I of Spain, Carlos II of Spain, Ramon Berenguer IV count of Barcelona and prince of Aragon, Chintila, Visigoth king , Alfonso I of Aragon, and Sancho IV el Bravo of Castilla.

There are ornamental monuments such as these:

Monumento General Martinez Campos, done in 1907 at the Plaza de Guatemala behind the monument to Alfonso XII, is an equestrian statue in bronze. He was sent to Cuba to try to pacified the independence rebellion in vain

Monument Benito Pérez Galdos done in a square of the same name next to the Paseo de Fernàn Nùnez. It is made of white stone of Lérida, and with 2,10 meters high ,1,3 meters wide and 2,2 meters deep opened in 1919 with the presence of the actor himself invalid and blind.

Monument Alfonso XII, it was called a national contest to built it upon the request of the regent queen Maria Cristina, the winner finally did it inspired on the monument of William I of Berlin, built this one in 1922 . It is at the west side of the lake or Estanque Grande and has 30 meters high, 86 meters long, and 58 meters wide. Around the king you have statues of representation of peace, progress and liberty . Around the hemicycle you have other statues representing The army and marine, the sciences, agriculture, Arts, industry, and two lions.

Madrid

Monument Santiago Ramon y Cajal, in the Paseo de Venezuela done in granite stone and bronze. In the center of a basin with Etruscan figures and fountains representing the life and death, done in 1926.

Monument Jacinto Benavente, is in the parterre garden forming an axis with the Puerta de Felipe IV and Cason del Buen Retiro (now part of the Prado museum) . It has a female figure of Greek inspiration with arms rise showing a mask referring to the theatre one of the genre of Jacinto Benavente, it was done by popular donations and finished in 1962.

There is extensive flora and fauna here as well as great sports installations.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip in addition to my blog posts above are

tourist office of Madrid on Retiro park: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/parque-del-retiro

City of Madrid on Retiro (sorry long link):  http://www.madrid.es/portales/munimadrid/es/Inicio/El-Ayuntamiento/Parques-y-jardines/Patrimonio-Verde/Parques-en-Madrid/Jardines-de-El-Buen-Retiro/?vgnextfmt=default&vgnextoid=499561945d9ec210VgnVCM2000000c205a0aRCRD&vgnextchannel=38bb1914e7d4e210VgnVCM1000000b205a0aRCRD

The Comunidad de Madrid region tourist office on Retiro: http://turismomadrid.es/es/descubre/madrid/de-inter%C3%A9s/5111-parque-del-retiro.html

Hope you get an idea, this is a must, a lingering must in Madrid. Cannot come to the city without visiting day and night. To me ,it is a pilgrimage each time. To Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day:yes, and the Retiro is a big spot looking down!

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

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June 20, 2018

Some news from France CXCII

So here I am in my pretty Morbihan of Brittany, Summer officially starts June 21st here but it is already 28C or about 80F very hot sun ,no rain very hot clear sunny day. I just came back from my monthly escapade to Paris and have many things to tell you.

First, this is the time of terraces in Paris. That wonderful sublime institution of a Parisian summer out on the sidewalk and seeing the world go by. Well , I have some favorites to share with my readers

Baïeta. 5, rue de Pontoise (5éme).  Tél. +33 (0) 1 42 02 59 19. open every day except Sundays and Mondays . Menus: à 29 € (lunch.), 45 et 85 € (dinners). Carte: between 50-75€.

Les Fables de la Fontaine with new chef 131, rue Saint-Dominique, (7éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 44 18 37 55).

Uncino. 31, rue de la Bruyère (9éme). Tél. +33 (0) 9 73 28 31 56. open every day except Saturdays lunch and Sundays/Mondays dinners. Formule: à 25 € (lunch), menu  32 € (lunch.). Carte: about 40€

Hugo & Co. 48, rue Monge (5éme). Tél. +33 (0) 9 53 92 62 77. open every day except Saturdays and Sundays. Carte:between  30 and 45 €.

Sauvage. 55, rue du Cherche-Midi (6éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 45 48 86 79. open every day except Sundays and Mondays . Carte: about  35-50 €.

For the Sunday market with terraces head for the Les Enfants du Marché. 39, rue de Bretagne (3éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 40 24 01 43. open every day except Mondays and Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesday (dinners). Carte: between 35  and 55€.

B.B. 21, rue Blanche (9éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 42 40 12 12. open every day  Carte between 40 and 60 €.

On horse races Thursdays best to head for the Le Petit Pré. Hippodrome de Longchamp. Grille d’Honneur. 2, route des Tribunes (16éme). From Thursdays to Sundays  Carte between  25 and 40€.

IF simply want a glass of wine or beer heads for the le Bal de la Marine  in the Port de Suffren, below the Eiffel Tower on the Seine river (7éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 47 05 66 57.

And if looking for a great roofstop now with plants heads for the top of store Au Printemps at Perruche au Printemps. 2, rue du Havre (9éme). Every day open mid July  Carte: between 30 and 50 €.

In the hotels you have great ones too  ,these two old hangouts still looks good. Anne at the Hôtel Pavillon de la Reine. 28, place des Vosges (3éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 40 29 19 19. open every day Carte: about 80 €.

And the new table lineup at the old Hilton for a while now name Hôtel Le Collectionneur 57, rue de Courcelles, (8éme). Tél. +33 (0)1 58 36 67 97).

Enjoy your summers in Paris!!!

And now even better the music festival all over France, and Paris is big on it. We will have it even on the campus of my company! June 21st is it, Fête de la Musique!!!

A very nice one at the Church Saint-Eustache. From June 20 at 16h to June 21 at 21h . Church located at  2, impasse Saint-Eustache (1éme). Another wonderful in the middle of government, the House of Representatives or Assemblée Nationale , june 21 from 18h30 to 22h30 you will enter by 128, rue de l’Université (7éme). Great places for a great event in Paris.

Great spot in Versailles at Rue de Satory off Avenue de Sceaux. Also at the parvis de Potager du Roi and the parvis de la Cathédrale Saint Louis.

The full program in Paris ,but you can search elsewhere too official webpage :  Culture Ministry Fête de la Musique

And what about those open Summer films events glorious in Paris; these are my favorites

The 14th edition of  Films sous les étoiles  (movies under the stars) have programs for free at the parc de Saint-Cloud from June 22-24  2018. First showing at 22h. More here:  http://www.domaine-saint-cloud.fr/Actualites/Films-sous-les-etoiles5

And the big one from July 19 to August 18 2018. Showings begins at  22h30. At the Parc de la Villette. Prairie du Triangle – 211, av. Jean Jaurès (19éme). Free admission! You can hire a cover and drinks from 19h30 for  7€. Forfait 5  20€. The name is Festival de cinéma en plein air de la Villette 2018. more info here: https://lavillette.com/evenement/cinema-en-plein-air-2018/

And as the World Cup of football/Soccer is now, why not see in big all big around you.  3500 square meters of space on the 8th floor (9 US) in the parking of Paris Expo Porte de Versailles. There will be a specific space of 150 square meters dedicated to watching the games until July 15 in a giant screen all games shown by French TV station TF1. And the suspended garden or  Le Jardin Suspendu is only to open on Thursdays to Sundays but in France advance in the rounds it will exceptionally open for them. There will be space for Grill, and shop Fratelli, as well as bars on site.  Le Jardin Suspendu.  The entrance is facing the  40, rue d’Oradour sur Glane (15éme). Thursdays to Sundays from 16h to midnite , Fridays from 16h to 02h ,Saturdays from 11h to 02h and Sundays from 11h to midnite. Free admission. Directions here: Le Jardin Suspendu

And if not enough , another big is coming to Paris well bigger now. The biggest H&M Swedish chain in France will be open today at 11h   at the angle of rue La Fayette and boulevard Haussmann (9éme). Right by the big department stores area ! It is open Mondays to Saturdays from 9h30 to 20h and Sundays from 11h to 19h.

In my trip to Paris yesterday, I stop by the Seine at Levallois-Perret in Hauts de Seine dept 92 and along rue Anatole France by metro line 3 pont de levallois bécon ,and then had a car ride and went by Dupleix on the line 6 and had me my lunch at Au Dernier Metro on 70 Boulevard de Grenelle. Couple planchas of ewe milk cheese with ham, pate, terrines chorizos salad and bread down with a leffe beer blonde just what Paris is all about. Info on the resto recommended by a Parisian friend who lives just around the corner. Official webpage : http://au-dernier-metro.lafourchette.rest/

and my favorite for comments from folks like us Yelp here: https://www.yelp.com/biz/au-dernier-m%C3%A9tro-paris-2

Yesterday an incident never seen, even the public workers of several Paris institutions were closed due to a strike. Including the Château de Versailles, and as well as the musée d’Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, Panthéon, château de Vincennes, Basilique de Saint-Denis, and the Notre Dame towers were closed as of mid day 12H, they are planning on reimbursement to those already with tickets. Well I told you its a past time and we are used to it but unfortuantely for a visitor to have this happened. Sorry.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI or Great War, there will be a wonderful air show  with about 90 airplanes flighing non stop for five hours organized by the aéro-club de Meaux-Esbly, Seine-et-Marne 77.  1900 ‘s music live and five bands from the US army representing the USA will be there. The show will see flying machines from WWI and WWII as well as modern planes.  Two Mirages 2 000 coming from Nancy will do a tactical demonstration , while a third one will do an interception of a civil airplane. There will be an expo space of 1 000 m2  presenting dozens of old vehicules like a taxi of the Marne of WWI. You will discover kites Saconney that took observation photos  during the conflict.  The only paying event will be a simulator ride on a fighter jet Rafale, 5 €. Good for the whole family.

And for now it is all from my side of the corner or the ocean in the Morbihan 56.  Have a great week, and remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

June 18, 2018

Remembering Curitiba, Paranà, Brazil!

Over the weekend you have time to think and remember wonderful places you/I/we have been ,and lucky enough to go back to the country, it has been a while without returning to Curitiba, Paranà State of Brazil. I was there back in 2008 ,and even thus go to Brazil now every year, luck has it, not been by Curitiba since. It is time to bring it alive ,these wonderful memories of forever.

Let me tell you about Curitiba where I spent 3 months back in 2008, of great lasting souvenirs, experiences ,and worth it going there for all. The city of Curitiba has a high level of education, the best in Brazil, according to MasterCard Emerging Markets Index in 2008 it rank 49th amongst the cities with a growing world influence. The magazine Forbes in 2009, rank Curitiba as the 3rd most educated/intelligent cities in the world considering  its outlook on the ecology, durable development, quality of life, and performing infrastructure’s as well as a dynamic economy.  The city is an example of urban planning especially with the invention of the above surface metro (sort like a big long bus) . It has been call the City model of Latin America by many experts. The city is divided today into 75 neighborhoods and into 10 administrative districts.

A bit of history I like. The city of Curitiba was founded in 1654 and raised to City status in 1693 under the name of Vila de Nossa Senhora da Luz dos Pinhais or City of Our Lady of Light of Pines. The current name was officially given by an act of Congress in 1721 and come from the Tupi Indian word Coré Etuba, that means many pines making reference to the many pines on the hills surrounding the city. In the 1700s, Curitiba possessed a favorable location between cattle-breeding country and marketplaces, leading to a successful cattle trade and the city’s first major expansion. Beginning in 1870, many immigrants started to arrive due to a government land expansion program to inhabits large tracks of lands in Brazil. The majority of these immigrants came from Germany, Poland, Italy, and also French, Japanese, English, and Swiss.  The Germans came in by 1872, and Polish by 1871, the Italians by 1872 founding the district of Santa Felicidade in 1878 (very good restos here !). You, also, have the Ukrainians coming in by 1895, and the Japanese by 1915 and many from 1924 onwards. The Syrians/Lebanese came in also around this time as well. The first federal University in Brazil was founded here in 1913 as well the year of the electrification of the trolley bus . The city has three language schools teaching English, German,and French (the alliance française) webpage here: Alliance Française Curitiba

The gateway to wild Brazil and the Iguazu Falls, plus Pantanal, Ile da Mielhe, and Morrete, Ruta  Gracioza  , Serra Verde train ride!, marvelous terrain and inland historical Lapa ,in Parana state.  What is there ,well a very nice cosmopolitan city.  I spent over the years the most consecutive time here,2 months!! its an enchanting city!

My home the apart hotel the Mercure Curitiba Batel  ; you come in from the airport on avenida vicomte de guarapauva and leave on ave sete de septembro. Webpage: http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-2127-mercure-curitiba-batel/index.shtml

Batel is a noble/chic neighborhood where you will be in good safe areas, full of everything around you. That is where the Mercure hotel is on, you come in from the airport on avenida vicomte de guarapauva and leave on ave sete de septembro. The corner of this later on you have a grocery store, mercadorama. Walking distace from here you can see the tower font de jerusalem, mercado central, rodoferraria bus and train, praça Japao (Japan Plaza), and the main downtown city center shopping mall like Batel novo shops webpage http://www.shoppingnovobatel.com.br/, and Shopping Crystal at  webpage http://www.shoppingcrystal.com.br/, as well as shopping Curitibahttp://www.shoppingcuritiba.com.br/, and Shopping Estaçao Central with a railroad museum inside!  http://www.espacoestacao.com.br/site/. You have your typical Wal-Mart store at http://www2.walmart.com.br/Site/StoreLocatorResultadoLoja.aspx?IdLoja=64. You have the Carrefour store too, at Pinhais just outside the city was my store, http://www.carrefour.com.br/stores/PR/Pinhais.  And Extra Hipermercado in Av. Mal Humberto A C Branco, 230 – Jardim Social, webpage http://www.extra.com.br/Atendimento/LocalizadorLojas.aspx

Other shopping pleasures are shopping Mueller, by jardim public at http://www.shoppingmueller.com.br/. The biggest just outside by the park Barigui is  Shopping Barigui at http://www.parkshoppingbarigui.com.br/home/ , and yet in city center you have shopping Italia at   http://www.shoppingcenteritalia.com.br/principal.php.  There are various restaurants/bars  in town in addition to those found in the shopping centers above that I like such as Emporio San Francisco with great beers and live music at http://emporiosaofrancisco.com.br/programacao.php?id_dias=5 ; Jokers Pub Cafe in centro, great ambiance at nights webpage http://www.jokerspubcafe.com.br/.

Restaurant Familia Fadanelli (wonderful place ) in neighborhood of Santa Felicidade, great Italian tradition and the farewell restaurant for me last time in the city with many friends, http://www.famigliafadanelli.com.br/?s=introChurrasqueria Batel Grill, the great Brazilian steak houses, cant beat it ,webpage http://batelgrill.com.br/inicio/ . Mustang Sally for the real Mexican in you ,right in Batel, webpage http://www.mustangsally.com.br/ . For an American in Brazil, and great burgers deluxe head for Peggy Sue (now call Sheridans) ,webpage http://www.peggysue.com.br/. For the Cuban mojito and some salsa then head for Guantanamera (this I know has closed) , no web ,but Rua Colonel Dulcidio, 540 in front of shopping Novo Batel. For the real Brazilian taste and home cooking head for Tropilha Grill, webpage here , http://www.chimarraochurrascaria.com.br/home.php?where=curt. For the Spanish in me go to Pata Negra, Rua Fernando Simas,23, in the area of Batel, Praça de Espanha, flamenco music live on Fridays. Spanish and great cooking, like I was at home. no web. If you want to bring home some Brazilian wines with an Italian twist then head for Durigans winery, a real wine store, winery in one; webpage here http://www.vinhosdurigan.com.br/index.php#inicio

And for things to see there are so many in and around the city and not far from it if with a car as I had, my Chevy Prisma lol!

For tourist attractions ,my favorites were/are Bosque Alemao (German black forest), Cathedral (Basílica Menor de Nossa Senhora da Luz de Curitiba) , Centro historico or city historical center walks, Jardim Botanico or botanical gardens where in 2007 in Brazil poll it was declared one of the seven wonders of Brazil! it houses a part of the University  ,Memorial Ucraniano(Ukranian memorial) at Parque Tingui, Opéra de Arame (Wire Opera House) at the Parque da Pedreiras , built in 1992 in a circular design of metal tubes covered with polycarbonate fiber given it a cage feel , Parque Barigui( with an antique automobile museum webpage auto museum in Portuguese) my best park , Parque Tangua (impressive!), Passeio Publico (first park n Curitiba 1886) , Praça do Japao (Japan plaza),Praça Tiradentes (center and birthplace of the city),Torre Panoramica (panoramic tower of 109.5 meters), Santa Felicidade neighborhood (Little North Italy),Castelo do Batel or castle inspired by the French castles owners saw in France, now a cultural center, webpage http://www.castelodobatel.com.br/. The Contemporary Arts museum of Oscar Niemeyer, webpage http://www.museuoscarniemeyer.org.br/. A great historical center of learning the Universidade Federal do Parana, oldest in Brazil. The Municipal Market is not a normal market, there are a lot of organic products, and vegan food. The food court has a lot of Asian food, vegan food and organic too. There you will find everything and more. It is located in downtown, next to the bus station of Curitiba. It is superb, webpage here: Mercado Municipal de Curitiba

Curitiba Curitiba

A modern city of our world, public transport is second to none in Brazil, even I tried it lol!

There is a linha Turismo bus service that take you to the 22  principal spots in the city coming out from Centro praça tiradentes from 9h to 17h30 every 30 minutes for 20R reales. Line 208 take you from the airport Alfonso Pena to the city center, schedules at the city govt webpage http://www.urbs.curitiba.pr.gov.br/PORTAL/tabelahorario/tabela.php.  The main bus terminal is at avenida Presidente Afonso Camargo,340 Centro right across from mercado central, praça rua Barosa, the central market of the city. http://www.rodoviariaonline.com.br/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=41:curitiba-pr&Itemid=67&layout=default

The airport for all arrivals and departures is the Afonso Pena international airport, just outside the city at Sao Jose des Pinhas,  as above bus 208 takes you into the city or hire a taxi, services webpage http://www.infraero.gov.br/index.php/br/aeroportos/parana/aeroporto-afonso-pena/facilidades.html.  One of the best ways to see the coastal areas from Curitiba is to take the Serra Verde train, a wonderful ride into time with magnificent views ,webpage http://www.serraverdeexpress.com.br/

Another nice areas to visit from Curitiba other than Foz de Iguaçu are Morretes ( the summer get away of folks in Curitiba), and Lapa (epic battle for the federal union of Brazil), they were weekends escapes for me while there by car.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip are:

This is the tourist office for Curitiba webpage http://www.turismo.curitiba.pr.gov.br/

City hall prefecture of Curitiba in Portuguese : http://www.curitiba.pr.gov.br/conteudo/perfil-da-cidade-de-curitiba/174

You need to check for updates but in my time there you had 8 buses daily lasting about 11 hours, and you can choose a conventional or convencional bus or a couch bed bus Leito. The line was Catarinense, their webpage here: Catarinense bus line  The Foz do Iguaçu official : Foz do Iguaçu

To Morretes you can go on the quaint Serra Verde train ride along the mountain and viaducs from Curitiba or by road as I did too. Info on the town from Brazil tourism here: Morretes

The train Serra Verde takes you there on  Sundays but I did it by car here, this is historical Lapa. Serra Verde on Lapa

Hope it helps come to see something different in big and beautiful Brazil. And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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