Archive for June 28th, 2018

June 28, 2018

The wines ok ,but then again a Pauillac is out of this world!

If you have follow my blog over the last years, you know that wines play an important part of my life. I have detail my experiences in previous blog posts so will skip it here. Bordeaux is a wonderful city ,and written on it too. However, when it comes to speak about the Médoc that wonderful peninsula we tend to usually call it by the broader name of Bordeaux is awesome.

And ,if I can tell you about Pauillac then we are talking about what wine is all about, and what the world for many years are trying to imitate without success in my opinion.  The peninsula of Médoc is what is surrounded by the Atlantic ocean, the Gironde river, the pointe de Grave, the forest of Landes and the marshes of Bruges. Simply put, you have one of the best beaches in France on the Atlantic ocean side and the best wines in the world on the Gironde river side. All divided into three areas, Bas-Médoc, Haut Médoc, and the Landes. When it comes to wines, it is these famous areas that makes it great, appellations such as Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Saint Estéphe, Pauillac, Saint Julilen, Listrac-Médoc, Moulis-en-Médoc, and Margaux.

All of these using different grapes in a mix by now just call the Bordeaux blend.  The main grapes representing  more than 90% of the grape varieties are:
· The Cabernet Sauvignon  brings frame and structure to wine and guard capacity.
· The Merlot  roundness, flexibility, complexity and ability to appreciate the younger wine.
· Cabernet Franc  brings roundness, fruity, complexity to wine.
The complementary varietals meaning in addition to the above in the blend are :
· Malbec or côt brings flexibility, roundness and structure, but demands that the yield be well controlled.
· The Petit Verdot brings aroma, framing and structure, but requires good maturity.
· Carménère is an almost absent relic grape but still available

However, enough of general news, what I really like to tell you about is Pauillac.

Well I wrote on the beaches of Medoc, and Bordeaux, and wines in general but not on my favorite wine spot in the world. No need to explain just tell you the name, Pauillac.  Pauillac is located in the department 33 Gironde in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine on the river side. The town is about 50 km from Bordeaux. The best way to come here is by car, from the rocade or beltway of Bordeaux take exit 7 or 8 then take the road N2 via Blanquefort (the route of chateaux) or the D1215 via Castelnau de Médoc. Also, there is a bus 705 from Bordeaux passing thru several wine communities and of course Pauillac, the schedule of Transgironde is here in pdf file.https://www.transgironde.fr/ftp/lines/siv-705-hiver.pdf

There is also the regional TER Nouvelle Aquitaine trains, webpage : https://be.oui.sncf/fr/billet-train

The interesting bit of history I like here is that even if the town is known since pre history it is only until the 18C wine commerce that it became known.  In 1777 , Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette arrived in Pauillac on the banks of the Gironde river to eventually reach USA to help the American people gain their independence. A stone is erected in the river front of Pauillac to commemorate this event showing the boat La Victoire. The words written on it says, D’ici, le 25 mars 1777, s’est embarqué Marie Joseph Paul Yves Gilbert Motier ,  Marquis de LAFAYETTE, avec l’espoir de rallier les Amériques,  A bord de la “VICTOIRE”. Simply saying that here on March 25 1777, set sail Marie Joseph Paul Yves Gilbert Motier , Marquis de La Fayette with the hope of reaching the Americas on board the Victoire.

As said  the wine here is big, glorious simply the best in the world. The vineyards of Pauillac are Grand Cru with almost 1100 hectares and about 37 wineries of which 18 are Grands Crus class 1855. These are:

Premiers crus : Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Latour, and my favorite Château Mouton-Rothschild

Seconds crus :  Château Pichon-Longueville, Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

Quatrième cru : Château Duhart-Milon (part of Mouton Rothschild)

Cinquièmes crus : Château Pontet-Canet, Château Batailley, Château Haut-Batailley, Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse, Château Lynch-Bages, Château Lynch-Moussas, Château d’Armailhac (Mouton property), Château Haut-Bages LIbéral, Château Pédesclaux, Château Clerc Milon (Mouton property), and Château Croizet-Bages

Other than the wines things to see in Pauillac

The parish Church of Saint-Martin at the place Maréchal Foch; the museum inside the Château Mouton-Rothschild with wine objects from all civilizations. The Orangerie in the Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande with a private glass collection as well as those coming from Venice, Bohemia and French/English glasses from the 17C to 19C. It comprises about 700 pieces collected by owner May-Éliane de Lencquesaing.

The caves of Artigues, built in 1897 as a replica of those of Lourdes and with a statue of the Virgin. To allowed the pilgrims to drink water of Lourdes, they will exchange with the priest of Lourdes a barrel of wine of the Château de Haut-Bages with one full of water of Lourdes.

Some events of interest happening at Pauillac are;

The Spring in the Castles or Le Printemps des châteaux done in April bringing all properties from those of 1855 classification to the cooperative wines. More in French here: https://www.bougerenmedoc.com/ch%C3%A2teaux/

The festival of the lamb of Pauillac in the pentcote weekend.  A very appreciated lamb dish traditional of Pauillac. More in French here: https://agneaudepauillac.jimdo.com/

The Marathon du Médoc, each second Saturday in September. More here: http://www.marathondumedoc.com/en/

The property of Château Mouton-Rothschild is a splendid place , beautiful gardens, great cellars and a wonderful museum all in one.  In 1954, Rothschild married his mistress, Pauline Fairfax Potter (1908-1976), an American, born in Paris, who was a fashion designer at Hattie Carnegie. After their marriage, she makes use of her aesthete talents to restore the old warehouse of the property and make it a superb mansion, which makes it famous in the world of fashion and interior decoration. She was born Pauline Potter at 10 rue Octave Feuillet in the Paris neighborhood of Passy in the 16éme district to wealthy expatriate American parents of Protestant background.Her mother was a great-grand-niece of Thomas Jefferson and a distant cousin of Britain’s Lord Falkland and Lord Cary.  Her father was a playboy who was a grandson of an Episcopal Bishop of Pennsylvania, and a nephew and great-nephew of successive Episcopal bishops of New York . Baron Philippe de Rothschild  belongs to one of the three branches of the Rothschild in France. He was a Grand prix pilot under the pseudonym of “Georges Philippe”, screenwriter, theatre producer, film producer, poet, and one of the world’s most famous winegrowers. Both are now deceased. The property was carried out by the daughter of first marriage, Philippine de Rothschild, under the stage name of Philippine Pascal, she was previously known as an actress, mainly at the Théâtre (Comédie-Française), but also, in a more marginal way to film and television. She was the daughter of Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Elisabeth Pelletier de Chambure, who died in deportation in Ravensbrück in 1945. Current principal of the company is Philippe Sereys de Rothschild , the son of Philippine de Rothschild, who lately is in relation with French actress Carole Bouquet.

Other properties of the company are  the  Domaine de Lambert, Baron Arques, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Mouton Cadet, Opus One in Californai and  Viña Almaviva in Chile amongst the best known. The company is part of a select group of winegrower owners call Primum Familiae Vini (often abbreviated PFV, Latin: “First Families of Wine”) is an association of family-owned wineries with a membership limited to twelve families. The official webpage is here: http://www.pfv.org/en/

Hope you enjoy it the general overview of this town and wine properties and especially my Mouton Rothschild, I am direct and received all their primeurs wines and lists.  The official webpage for them is here: https://www.chateau-mouton-rothschild.com/

The whole of the properties are in this webpage: https://www.bpdr.com/en/

And for orders online as we do in France, need to check if allow in other countries is here: https://www.labaronnie.fr/fr/

The museum of Mouton Rothschild is here in English: https://www.chateau-mouton-rothschild.com/the-museum-of-wine-in-art

Personal Pauillac photos here, as a memoriam anecdote, my dear late wife Martine was not into wine when we married in 1990,however, over the years she became alongside a good taster and fine companion, will be missed forever.

Pauillac PAuillac Pauillac PAuillac Pauillac Pauillac

Other webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Pauillac city hall and tourism : https://www.pauillac-medoc.com/fr/

 The Médoc wine region tourist office on chateaux: http://medoc-tourisme.com/fr/incontournables/la-route-des-chateaux/

 The country or pays de Médoc on tourism https://www.pays-medoc.com/l-oenotourisme.html

The Gironde 33 tourism: https://www.gironde-tourisme.fr/decouvrir/la-gironde/medoc/##

The wines of the Médoc: https://www.medoc-bordeaux.com/en/

Enjoy it as I do every day is part of a state of mind or culture at its best. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

June 28, 2018

How to come and get around Versailles!

I have heard many bloggers pointing of the crowds and transportation mishaps coming to Versailles, my former home in the Yvelines, ïle de France region for almost 10 years. I think I know a thing or two on how to move about in Versailles. I have written before on it and would like to give it to you early

Getting to Versailles

Versailles is a city of a bit over 100K folks but it is done very wisely modern by the kings of France, it is pretty much rectangular and all starts at the palace. The three big avenues from it commands all, avenue de Saint Cloud, avenue de Paris, and avenue de Sceaux. The Domaine of Versailles as it is call the whole complex was much bigger than today, well have written several posts on it, right now there is about 807 hectares of it (about 8 sq km or 3 sq miles).

The Castle sits as independent with the neighborhoods coming out from it , mine was Notre Dame. Other famous are Saint Louis, Montreuil, Chantiers, and Montbauron. Folks as said come here for the palace mainly, not really to blame but a shame missing on so much, you need more time here. I have written on the monuments and their place in history many times before so will let you do some search in my blog.

The castle/palace/museum is open every day except Mondays from 9h to 18h30 , however, the Trianons opens at 12h (garden closes at 19h) , and the Coach Gallery (wagon carriages) open   by 12h30.;closing by 18h30 The park and gardens are open every day and they are free except on Musical Fountains Shows and Musical Garden. The Trianons you can come through the Gardens or through the city (by the porte Saint Antoine on ave de Versailles). Versailles has three city train stations the one closest on foot to the Castle/palace/museum is on the RER C express trains to the Rive Gauche station on ave Général de Gaulle; however, the other two Rive Droite and Chantiers can be access to the Castle/Palace/museum and the Trianon on the local bus TRI from April to October.

The park domaine per se has the following entry points   on foot thru the Main Gate (place d’Armes) 8h until 20h30; the Queen’s Gate (bd de la Reine and allée des Moutons) 7h to 20h30, Sailor’s Gate (Rue de Saint Cyr (D10)) 9h30 to 19h, Saint Anthony’s Gate (porte Saint Antoine ,along avenue de Versailles) 9h30 to 19h and the Grille of the Royal Star (further back of the Grand Canal on chemin Etoile Royale off the road D7) only accessable on weekends and holidays from 9h30 to 19h15. You can come with vehicles thru the Queen’s gate by 9h until 17h50 last entry and the   Saint Anthony’s Gate only on weekends from 9h last entry at 17h50.  The tricky part are the gardens where you need to verify the dates according to the times you will be here, otherwise the entry points and times are everyday from 8h to 20h30 with last admission at 19h and on foot you can come thru the Main gate 8h to 19h ,the Dragon’s Gate (side of theater Montansier off bd de la Reine) from 12h to 18h30, Neptune Gate (bd de la Reine  and Petit Allée Saint Antoine), Menagerie Gate (Allée des Matelots debut Grand Canal) and Little Venice Gate (by La Flottille resto debut Grand Canal) on similar times. At Porte Saint Antoine below, you can come from avenue de Saint Cloud on bus 19 and stop at Parly II/Les Chesnay(a nice shopping mall and my kids schools)  walk down and entered for free and no crowds to the gardens/Trianons and Hameau properties without going in .We love it for jogging and walking many times. Bus schedule here:

transdev bus 19 Express bus

VErsailles

Versailles

As told the main entrance is thru the main courtyard passed the grille iron gate and statue in front of king louis XIV; if you do not have a pre purchase ticket (which you should), and not eligible for free admission (like a student or under 26 UE) go to the ticket office first, on the left of the Main courtyard in the South Ministers’ wing and then to Entrance A of the Palace. This is for individual entries. If you have reserved your tickets in advance then go straight to Entrance A with your ticket and proof of identity. And lastly, if going to the Trianons first opening at 12h go straight to them by their Saint Anthony’s gate (Porte Saint Antoine at Allée de Saint Antoine)) next to it is the Hameau of Marie Antoinette and then the Petit and Grand Trianon.

 

The basic info on influx of visitors is split in two ; high season from April 1st to October 31st and low season from November 1st to March 31st. However, avoid Wednesdays as it is school day off in France and mom stayed home thinking where to go out, and on Fridays which is the weekend. So come on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and be there at opening time with your advance purchased tickets.

Basic transportation info tells you that you can get here by

RER C to Versailles Château-Rive Gauche from many points in Paris and it is about 8-10 minutes walk to the palace. Leaving from Paris Montparnasse you can come to the Chantiers station which is only about 20 minutes from the palace or take the TRI colorful bus from the city stopping in all stations and palace as well as the Trianons. And Last my station the Rive Droite coming from Paris Saint Lazare train station and about another 20 minutes to the palace or take the TRI bus as told above.

Versailles

The Versailles bus network Phebus is excellent on time, clean and very helpful drivers. I have their webpage with the TRI schedule as you will it the most. Well ,here is the schedule until October 28 2018 in pdf file: https://www.phebus.tm.fr/fileadmin/Sites/Phebus/SE_DEPLACER/Horaires_2017-2018/Horaires_TRI_2018_-_du_3_avril_au_28_octobre_2018.pdf

The Phebus network webpage is in French: https://www.phebus.tm.fr/se-deplacer/

 

For quite some time now there is a bus from Paris RATP Bus No. 171 from Pont de Sévres metro station to the Château of Versailles ave de Paris facing the castle. The map of the route here: https://www.ratp.fr/plans-lignes/bus-noctilien/171

The city of Versailles has a great explanatory page on coming to Versailles here in English: https://www.versailles.fr/ma-ville/se-deplacer/venir-a-versailles/#

Hopefully it comes out, this is the city of Versailles with a very nice interactive map of the city and surrounding areas, you can enlarge bottom left and print it. https://www.versailles.fr/ma-ville/se-deplacer/plan-de-la-ville/

The tourist office of Versailles has plenty of practical information on getting,moving about in Versailles use it: http://en.versailles-tourisme.com/useful-information-and-tips

I must add driving here is easy, from Paris or Normandy on the A13 autoroute de Normandie on exit or sorties 5 and 6. Coming from the west as I do now I take the free N12 and exit:sorties 1-4. There is good parking underground at Notre Dame and Saint Cloud parkings and above ground my favorite at Sceaux next to the rive gauche RER station. Here is the site to book in advance your parking at Sceaux; It s the site I use for all my parkings in France, very reliable: https://www.neoparking.com/versailles/detail-parking-sceaux-m-c45878-ppd/

Versailles

At the end of the Avenue de Sceaux above picture and after the parking you have the wonderful garden of Jardin des Etangs Gobert.

You can from Paris following the old King Louis XIV road that still can be done in automobile as well. Leave Paris on rue de la Convention and cross the Seine river at Pont Mirabeau, next street over from the Seine is appropiatly Avenue de Versailles take a left on it and go to the traffic circle at Porte de Saint Cloud ; take direction Boulogne-Billancourt on the D910 (this is it); continue past the wonderful traffic circle of Marcel Sembat, and continue on Avenue du Général Leclerc (same D910) ; cross the Seine river at the Pont de Sévres passing on your right hand side the museum of Sévres or manufacture and continue you are still on the D910 road. Passing the quaint town of Chaville, continue and entering Virofray the road changes to the D10 ,continue same road.(the street name changes to Avenue de Paris appropriable) but same road D10. And you know what, this is Versailles!!! Leading head on to the palace/museum!!! The road of the Kings of France coming from the Louvre fortress (now museum).

From the Hôtel de Ville or even closer from the rive gauche train station you go left (not right to the castle) and continue on avenue du Général de Gaulle continuosly street is the Rue Royale at the corner of rue d’Anjou you have the Carré Saint Louis many intimates stories of the kings and an antique shops heaven on either side, if you turn right and continue on rue d’Anjou you will reach the St Louis Cathedral, and onwards to Rue du Maréchal Joffre you hit on the Potager du roi vegetable gardens. If at this street, you turn left you will get to the romantic Parc Balbi on your right hand side.  If you turn right on rue du Maréchal Joffre  eventually becomes rue de Satory, you turn left on rue de l’Orangerie and you will reach the Orangerie from the outside go in on the porte grille de Cent Marshes (100 steps), and right across you see the Piéce d’Eau des Suisses walk alone the edge of the lake to the back you will see the only statue in Versailles to king Louis XVI! If you get off from the rue de Satory into the rue du vieux Versailles you will reach the Salle de Jeu de Paume and continue further you will reach the rue de l’independence Americaine (where the municipal library keeps the table where the support of France for the US independence was signed) . All within walking distance.

Ahh this is the iceberg on the mountain of possibilities in my beloved Versailles, the Royal town of France, history on every brick or every tile on every stone of France and many of the World.  Enjoy it

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

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