Archive for June 27th, 2018

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 post all (I think…) my previous posts about Paris in my blog. I let you do the searching  ,there is something for everyone in it.


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 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.


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…From oldest to newest posts me think…

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 27, 2018

Moving up to Orthez and a Jeanne!

And moving up from the mountains and closer to the expresways , and another jewel in the deep south of France. What better place than to see history, architecture and a different story of France, Protestant one.

We wandered by car always, to see these jewels of our belle France, and we encounter Orthez. Let me give you my previous blog post on it: See Orthez

Orthez is a town in the département 64 Pyrénées-Atlantiques,in the région of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Half way between Pau and Bayonne and traverse the town by the gave de Pau and its tributaries rivers.

A bit of history I like

The oldest finding on Orthez (which still nobody seems to decide from where the name comes from)  is  from the 11C. This was two romanesque Churches ,one in the neighborhood of old town by the bridge, and the other by next around the Church of Saint-Pierre (St Peter).  The town resulted in a union of these two around 1260 with the creation of a municipal council sort of.

In the 13C to 15C , Orthez was the residence of the Viscounts of Béarn; Gaston Fébus declared the independence here in 1347. However, by 1460 the resident was transfered to Pau. Even if Orthez remained the biggest town and most dynamic of the Béarn during the monarchies of France. At Orthez , all the products with destination to the port of Bayonne was assembled. In 1566 Jeanne d’Albret had transfered the Protestant academy of Béarn here ,and it was transformed into an University by 1583 under king Henri IV.

The town grew under the monarchies into the suburbs of Moncade, where there is a castle , a bit isolated from the town as it had military functions. In 1814  there was the Battle of Orthez  with the victory of the Anglo-Spanish troops of the duke of Wellington against the Napoleonic army of Marshal Soult.  Not much influence on the town but a major influence on the war in Spain. At Orthez, there is great interest for the bullfight and traditioin is even older than the current arena (arena of Pesqué, 1927), and the town is member of the Taurino towns of France association. webpage here: Toro bullfights towns of France

What are the things to see at Orthez

The former Auberge Saint-Loup, today a private house at  rue du Pont-Vieux was in the 16C a hospice to welcome the pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela. A very rich medieval architecture indeed.

The house or maison Batcave another nice medieval architecture example today private home. The Hôtel de la Lune, another stop for rest of the pilgrims of Santiago de Compostela, from the 15C. The Castle of Baure, and Castle of Préville, as well as the fountain of the Place Saint Pierre (by the Church) inmortalized by the painter Maurice Utrillo in 1923.

The house or Maison de Jeanne d’Albret , today is the tourist office and a Protestant museum of the Béarn. Originally, this house was a bourgeoise mansion from the 16C that was given as a donation by a Captain of the militias of Albret to the king Antoine de Bourbon and Jeanne d’Albret to obtain titles of nobility.  Here ,also, there is the museum of or  musée Jeanne d’Albret,dedicated to the long history of Protestanism in the Béarn. Very educational and historical a must to see and worth the visit to Orthez alone in my opinion. The official webpage here: Museum Jeanne d’Albret

The Church Saint Peter’s or  Saint-Pierre dating from the 13C with a choir.  The work was not finished that a century later meanwhile changes of styles were done. Amongst the particularities of this Church is there is no collateral and the highest vault of the Béarn. In the 16C, the Protestants confiscated the Church. By 1865, the Church was restored and enlarged with a bell tower built under the entry portal.  It conserved an sketch of the panel of the Pantheon of Rome the martyr of Saint Denis that was offered by the fine arts in 1924.  Two statues in wood representing Sainte Anne, mother of Mary, (grandmother of Jesus) and St James.

There is the Protestant temple at 20 rue du Général-Foy), consacrated in 1790. Another nice Church is that of the parish Church of  Saint-Barthélémy.

The castle of Moncade and its donjon tower built around 1250 by ordered of  Gaston VII Moncade on a strategic place and fortified from many centuries ago. This is a bit outside Orthez but right from the town is easy . Gaston Fébus completed the fortifications to give it the current form. It has an splendid courtyard and a nice tower that was saved from the city from using the stones to build home around the area. When we were there , a medieval horse knights competition was going on very nice indeed.

The old bridge or Pont Vieux, dating from the 13C and 14C by the river.  It was begun by  Gaston VII Moncade at the moment of Orthez becoming the capital of the Béarn and carried his court.  Originally, it had two towers and today you see the unequal arches and a central fortified tower. It resisted two attacks in Orthez, that one of 1569 by the Protestants troops of Montgomery ,and in 1814 by the attack of the duke of Wellington after the Napoleonic troops.

As an anecdote in closing, the very famous and nice guy Alain Ducasse was born here on December 13 1958 ; three stars Michelin with 22 restaurants in the world at last count.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and it will be well worth your time are

City of Orthez on tourism in French :

Tourist office of Orthez :

Tourism Pyrénées Atlantique (Orthez town of art and history) :

Tourism of Nouvelle Aquitaine;

There you go for a wonderful tour of the deep south of France. Hope you enjoy the ride!

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

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June 27, 2018

Mythical Navarrenx and cigars!

In our wandering ways around our belle France, we have been to many towns and regions, this one was by accident. We went to Orthez and decided what to do next. We look up a map and decided to visit the town because of the history on cigars!

I am talking about Navarrenx in the department 64 Pyrenees Atlantique in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. The town is part of the most beautiful villages of France association since 2014 and the first one in the Béarn area to be name.

In between other picturesques towns I wrote before in my blog on the town, here is my previous blog post on NavarrenxMy previous blog post on Navarrenx

A bit of history I like:

By 1078 it was the first time the name was known. In 1523 ,the Spanish led by the Prince of Orange takes over the town and destroyed the defenses. They were rebuilt by 1538 to 1549 by Henri d’Albret and Marguerite d’Angoulême, king of Navarra. In 1620  king Louis XIII visited the town to imposed the union of the Béarn and Navarra to France.  The town did not gave trouble to the Royal troops. In the French revolution ,Navarrenx was chosen as the capital of the department of the Basses-Pyrénées (1790), later transfering it to Pau in same year.

Some things to see

The town is surrounded by the first rampart walls built from 1538 ordered by Henri II d’Albret king of Navarra, Viscount of the sovereign territory of the Béarn. The town still keeps most of it as well as the porte Saint-Antoine, redone in 1645, tour de la Poudrière, place des Casernes, military fountain as well as gothic houses and on the place de la mairie,an arsenal from the 17C built on the ruins of the house of the kings of Navarra. Also, the house or Maison Paillé from the 16C. the town is on the via Podiensis or of Puy-en-Velay  on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.  There is a bridge from the 13C that allow you even today to cross the gave d’Oloron river; before the pilgrims crossed by boat on very dangerous crossing by the gué de Mongaston.  Near the southern gate there was a hospital, Chapel of Saint Antoine, to welcome the pilgrims. Several lodgings were available and a welcome snacks offered to all those arriving between Easter and All Saints Day.



The Church of Saint-Germain-d’Auxerre  dates from the 16C but the lower element in the nerf were done in 1862. There are human marks on the walls and painted and you can recognized the contemporaries of king Henri II d’Albret. A door on the side was reserved for the cagots


There is one personage born here that I like to mention, this is Paul de Batz d’Artagnan (1609 – 1703) a muskeeteer and Captain of the kings’s guards as well as older brother of Charles de Batz-Castelmore d’Artagnan, who inspired the novel and later movie of the Three muskeeteers . King Louis XIV gave him in 1667 the management of the fortress here and this was renewed every three years until his death in 1703.

However, the best is at the Place de Casernes in a house from the 17C , where you have the Maison du Cigare, or cigars house (now Hedon).  Here, you have the opportunity to follow the steps necessary before reaching the realization of the only French premium cigars. Coming from the Cuban seeds and handrolling Cubans when we were there. You will know everything about its history from the seed that gives the tobacco plants to the placement of the ring. The course ends with the Torcedoras coming from Cuba. During your stroll, you will be able to observe the staff working, panels and videos explain each step of production. Small precision for connoisseurs: Three cigars are prepared in the house, the shorts, the robusta and the double Corona, sold in the unit or in boxes. In the house of cigars, in total immersion, a rolling workshop framed by a rolling machine will help you to make your own! Finally, a wine tasting and deli completes the exciting visit of the House of Cigars or the Maison du Cigare of Navarrenx. Contact tel +33 (0) as notice the name for the cigars is now Hedon so the set up might have change. More info here: Maison du Cigares Navarrenx

Navarrenx Navarrenx

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and well worth it.

City of Navarrenx on heritage in French :

Tourist office of Navarrenx,

Tourist office of Navarrenx:

The most beautiful villages of France :

Department Pyrenees atlantique 64 on tourism in French

Region of Nouvelle Aquitaine tourism:

There you go something unique in deep south France. You should make it a stop. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers!!!!

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