Archive for August, 2018

August 31, 2018

A beautiful island, Noirmoustier!

And yes we do have plenty of islands in metropolitan France. they are some of prettiest islands you can imagine and still most little visited. I am lucky to have several nice ones around the Gulf of Morbihan, but even down the coast south you have a wonderful universe!

I am from nature a lover of these islands, reminds me of my roots in double islands of our world. Coming to them is always pleasant and full of expectations. The one I will tell you today is no difference. The Noirmoutier island is heavens on earth, so much you need to book in advance for the best season, and can be a bit pricey for that.

And let me give you a more historical/geographical view on the ïle de Noirmoutier! Don’t forget to see my several posts on the island.

The island of Noirmoutier is in the Bay of Biscay located in the Department of the Vendée (85). It is connected to the mainland by a submersible roadway called the Passage du Gois and, since 1971, by a bridge. It is made up of four communes in a community of communes of Île-de-Noirmoutier. Its length is approximately 18 km, its width varies from 500 meters to 12 km and its area is 49 km2. It lies south of the Loire estuary, northeast of the island of Yeu and southeast of Belle-Ile-en-Mer (Morbihan Breton!) . Separated from the mainland by the Strait of Fromentine, located at its southern end, it closes the Bay of Bourgneuf or Bay of Brittany, in its western and southern part. The island is often dubbed the “island of the Mimosas” for its climatic sweetness allowing the mimosas to grow and bloom in winter. Its dominant landscapes are salt marshes, dunes and holm oak forests.

Until the beginning of the 19C, the island of Noirmoutier had only one town with a seat at the village of Noirmoutier. Barbâtre became independent in 1858 before the constitution of two other communes some sixty years later in 1919 these are Guérinière and L’Epine.  The main towns are today:

The city of Noirmoutier located in the northeast of the island and its historic capital. Its center is marked by old monuments such as the Castle (see post), the Church of Saint-Philbert, (see post) the hotel Jacobsen, etc. includes, salt marshes, an agricultural plain, the seaside resort of the Bois de la Chaize, the fishing port and the pleasure port , the old Abbey of La Blanche as well as the two villages of the Vieil and Herbaudière. The rocky nature of the coasts makes the beaches rather smaller than those that border the Bois de la Chaize (ex: Plage des Dames , Souzeaux beach, and  L’Anse Rouge.

The village of L’Epine is located to the west of the island comprises a part of the salt marshes, the port of Morin (north of the village), a part of the Bois des Eloux (south of the village) and the Moulin de la Bosse. The beaches of L’Epine form a continuous sandy cord bearing different denominations according to the zones (plage Saint-Jean,plage de la Martinière.,beaches, punctuated by breakwaters which contribute to the defense of the island against the sea.

The village of La Guérinière is located in the centre of the island. With the seaside village of Sable d’Or and Sable de la Tresson, located to the south of the town. The sandy beach of the Guérinière offers a view of the bouchots (mussel culture) and the Huïtres parks installed at sea and visible at low tide. At the beach la Cantine,see old WWII bunkers.

noirmoutier noirmoutier

The village of Barbâtre, of rangy form by the extension of the suburban subdivisions , is the southernmost municipality of the island, it comprises the two routes connecting the island of Noirmoutier to the mainland: the Gois (passage du Gois submersible Road) and the new bridge. The urbanization of the 20C has extended the village to the old hamlets of Midi, Frandière and the Fosse. The beach of Midi is the beach of Barbâtre, it is the longest of the island, sandy cordon of more than 5 km long.

The village of  Vieil is located to the north of Noirmoutier and is part of its communal territory. It is a peaceful village of quiet streets stretching between the Bois de la Chaize and the Bois de la Blanche. The beaches are pretty rocky.

The village of Herbaudière is located in the north-west of the island, also integrated into the commune of Noirmoutier. It is the fishing port and the main marina of the island. The beach of Luzeronde, south of the Herbaudière, is sandy and quite steeply inclined, it offers a view on the island of the Pilier (north-west of the island).

For reference as not gone to any of these are in the south of the island the state Forest of Barbâtre in the northeast is the forest of the Bois de la Chaize on the west and south side, the small national Bois des Éloux. Natural setting for the nature lover in you.

A bit on the transports in and out

Until 1971, the island of Noirmoutier was an island accessible at low tide through the famous Passage du Gois ,a roadway about 4.5 km across the south of Bourgneuf Bay. Since then, a bridge supporting the D38 road also connects it to the mainland. I did the going to the island by the modern bridge coming from Nantes and then the return passed the Gois passage, super a must to do! This road the D38 travels the island from south to north to the port of the L’Epine, and the port of the Morin. From the Guérinière, the D948 road (very good road and scenic) crosses the salt marshes to reach Noirmoutier. Again , not use for information only: During the whole year, the bus station of Noirmoutier is served by a bus service connecting Nantes (Nantes train station) and La Roche-sur-Yon (Departmental network Cap Vendée). Also, the departmental Council of the Vendée set up an island service called the Bus d’ïle (Bus of the island) serving nearly thirty stops, while during the same time, the city of Noirmoutier organizes a free shuttle service “Gratibus” Ensuring daily connections between the Vieil , the Herbaudière and the village of Noirmoutier.

A bit of history I like

The story goes much older even with megalith stones found but I will keep it brief and later history. It was on the old island of Her or Hero that the monk Saint Philibert settled in 674. There he founded a monastery which was later at the origin of that of Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu. He organized the salt harvest and the construction of many dikes. To fight against the Viking invasions, the Lords of the Garnache, the owners of the places, as well as the monks, built successive fortifications from 830.


The island of Noirmoutier, like the ancient island of Bouin (now attached to the mainland), depended before the French revolution of the lordship of the Garnache, fief sometimes Poitevin (Duchy of Aquitaine and County of Poitou) in the Middle Ages, sometimes linked to Brittany with Breton expansion in the 9C broken by Viking incursions, then legal links with the Brittany marches region from the 16C to the 17C.

In the course of its history, the island suffered several attempts at invasions: English (1342, 1360, 1386); Spanish (1524, 1588). However, could not resist the Dutch invasion of 1674 by Admiral Cornelis Tromp.

In the 15C, the island of Noirmoutier is attached to the Thouars, which belongs to the family of Amboise. In March 1479, by his patent letters, King Louis XI confirmed the privileges granted by king Charles VII. In 1562, the Huguenots Corsairs from La Rochelle took over the island, which they made a sanctuary until 1569. During the French revolution, the island was the scene of two battles of the War of Vendée (for the maintain of the monarchy and Catholic faith): the first in 1793 resulted in a Vendée victory, While the second the following year saw the defeat of the latter.

Things to see in my opinion here are

The climate of the island also promoted very early the production of sea salt. Thus, as early as the 5C, the Benedictine monks began to transform the wetlands into salt marshes in order to harvest the white gold. These cover a large part of the island territory today. The salt and the flower of salt are still harvested in artisanal fashion and the production reaches, the best years, 1 500 tons of salt.


The Castle of Noirmoutier dating from the 9C; the Church of Saint-Philbert, a former Benedictine abbey with Romanesque and Gothic style. It contains a beautiful crypt of the 11C, as well as the first tomb of the monk Saint Philibert, its founder in the 7C. Here you have a nice butterfly garden museum to see live.

The former Hotel Lebreton de Grapillières, a beautiful 18C mansion, now a tourist hotel under the name of Hôtel D’Elbée; Mansions dating back to the 18C.

The Estacade, emblematic building of the island of Noirmoutier. The first wood boom of the Bois de la Chaize was built in 1889. This boat pier played a major role in the development of seaside tourism in the early 20C. The work was completely restored in the years 2013-2014.

The passage of the Gois, submersible roadway, main tourist attraction of the island.  The Bois de la Chaize is known for its woods of holm oaks and mimosas, as well as beautiful shady beaches. A hundred seaside villas ,a majority of which date from the late 19C and early 20C were built in this forest. La promenade des Souzeaux along the ocean with several creeks. The lighthouse or Maison phare de la Pointe des Dames in the Bois de la Chaize; in Le Vieil, one of the village of the island facing the coast has several vacation centers for families. The National Natural Reserve of the marshes of Müllembourg, and the Regional Natural Reserve of Polder de Sébastopol. And of course, the many beaches mentioned above early in the post with the towns descriptions.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of the ïle de Noirmoutier:

Department Vendée 85 tourist office on Noirmoutier island:

Local private guide on all about the island of Noirmoutier in French:

Region Pays de la Loire on Noirmoutier:

There you go plenty of info and photos of a beautiful island ok away from Brittany not bad at all ::) Enjoy it

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

August 30, 2018

Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, Vittoriano of Rome!

On my family trip to Rome and surrounding Lazio region area we were confronted with lots of history and architecture which we love. However, one building really struck us for its size, meaning and even a bit of controversy. It sits in the middle of old Rome yet the building is newer sort of a big contrast that Romans and visitors alike come to understand and like. We like it too.

I have written on bits in my previous Rome posts, but think a separate post will do justice to this wonderful building, oh yes it is the Monument of Vittorio Emmanuell II the unifying king of Italy known there as Vittoriano as well.


In fact, looking back of my blog, only had briefly mentioned it on a post on squares of Rome, piazzas! So many things to see in my Europe sometimes overwhelmed with ideas. Now is the time to make up for it.

The monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, also known as Vittoriano, is located in Piazza Venezia (Venice Square) next to the Capitol. At the center of the monument stands the altar of the Fatherland (Altai della Patria), while the interior of the building houses the museum on the Reunification of Italy (Museo del Risorgimento).  The immense monument of an immaculate white marble, made between 1885 and 1911 to celebrate the 50 years of the Italian unity. It was built in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of Italy unified in 1861. It was built in the neo Classic style.


Architecture description, brief.

The monument, along with its grand staircase, is full of dazzling white marble extracted from the quarries of Botticino, Brescia. It is a profusion of columns and fountains where throne an equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel II, supported on both sides by 16 columns. The reliefs represent the Italian cities, the great reliefs on both sides of the altar of the Nation; these sculptures evoke Italy in art, science, religion and law. The structure measures 140 meters wide and 70 meters high. Above the building, on each side, representing unity and freedom, two statues inspired by the representations of Athena lead a quadriga. Below burns the eternal flame, on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The fountain, on the left, symbolizes the Adriatic Sea and on the right of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Romans have given it a number of humorous and somewhat uncomplimentary nicknames, including La torta nuziale (the wedding cake), dentine ( the Gears), Macchina da scrivere (the typewriter) and the Zuppa inglese (English soup) etc. However, today most Romans consider this monument, which continues to attract many visitors, as one of the symbols of their city.



What is there to see, really.

The monument holds the Tomb of the unknown Soldier with an eternal flame, built under the statue of Goddess Roma after WWI following an idea of General Giulio Douhet. The body of the Unknown Soldier was chosen in 1921 from among 11 unknown remains by Maria Bergamas, a woman from Gradisca of Isonzo whose only child was killed during WWI. Her son’s body was never recovered. The selected unknown was transferred from Aquileia, where the ceremony with Maria Bergamas had taken place, to Rome and buried in a state funeral in the same year 1921.

The flags of disbanded units of the Italian Armed Forces, as well as the flags of ships stricken from the naval register of the Italian Navy are stored at the Vittoriano in the so-called Shrine of the Flags (Sacrario delle Bandiere). The oldest flag on display is the flag of the 19C frigate Giuseppe Garibaldi. When an Italian military unit is reactivated its flag is taken from the Vittoriano and returned to the unit, which with the flag receives also the name, traditions, and military honors bestowed upon the flag over time.

One of the most attractive aspects of the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II is the panoramic view that is obtained from the terrace at the top of the Quadrigas. Panoramic elevators/lifts are the only way to get to the top floor but the nice views from above make it worthwhile to climb.

Rome Rome

It is at the Piazza Venezia Free admission but to get the elevator/lift admission to top terrace is 7€. You have some nice nearby places to see as well such as the Basilica of Saint Mary in Aracoeli only 48 meters, Museum of the Capitole 134 meters, Capitole square 142 meters, Venice Palace 187 meters and the Trajan steps at 273 meters (the longest 273 meters is about 900 feet.

In all, it is a nice area to walk and walk we did. I do like to walk in the cities rather than public transport; I do come in by car , parked and walking we go; the best way to see and feel a city is walking above ground lol!

A webpage on tourism of Rome with a good (better) explanation of the monument here:

Hope you enjoyed this modern part of Rome ::) as we did.

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

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August 30, 2018

Another time in Vannes, my Capital city!

So continuing in my lovely vacation with lots of rests and quick pinch to several places, I cannot keep away for long from our Capital city of Vannes of the Morbihan Breton in Brittany of course. Degemer Mad ! Welcome Bienvenue to all. Less text and more pictures lol!

We had some errands to do and needed to go city center/downtown Pluvigner to find out the frames store (créacadres) was closed for holidays lol!! It figures. We drop off some old techno in our local Super U hypermarket for recycling purposes and set out for Vannes. Tomorrow is home heavier stuff out to the rubbish/garbage dump and continue painting our basement/sous sol! I admit to have a strange feeling walking these streets without my Martine, memories are hard to erase and it feels sad.

In Vannes, we did a quick stop to Micromania at the Carrefour shopping center to get the latest gadgets in video games for the boys, and then hop over to FNAC for some reading and tech reviews before well we were hungry.

That is my suggestion , and we went to a place been a couple times with colleagues from work , this time came with my boys to Le Tarmac in rue Ferdinand le Dressay on the other side of the Canal in the pleasure marina that takes out to the Gulf of Morbihan and eventually to the Atlantic Ocean!

vannes vannes

They have a Facebook page as many businesses now have:

They have a terrace right on the sidewalk facing the canals, and then a streel level room and a very cozy first level or 2nd floor. The service is friendly and prompt, the prices very reasonable and the food is good. We had tapas dish of accras (codfish cake), with breaded shrimp ,crackers tortilla Mexican style with guacamole sauce for 8,50€ and hot dogs with fries for the boys, all with a bottle of Vigne Antique côte de Provence rosé 2016 wine all came about for 15€ per person.


We had all day to do and why not do some walks in wonderful medieval Vannes all kept original no wars did anything to it. It is lovely to walk here. Of course, we come by car so easy , we park on free parking past the Place Gambetta up the rue Ferdinand le Dressay and you will see the parking lot on your right passing the Harbormaster house.

Vannes vannes


We then take off on foot all over the city, it is easy to walk and very pleasant things to see. As I have written so much on it will not go into details here, just type in search Vannes and see all the posts going back to 2011 here in my blog.

First, the canal on the pleasure boat marina is awesome, it says can hold up to 3000 boats and goes all the way to the Gulf of Morbihan which is Unesco listed(and holds about 12 islands). You have the tourist office and underground parking here too as well as restaurants all around it on both sides. Like the one we went above.


Walking past the wonderful Porte de Saint Vincent , a gate to old town along Rue Saint Vincent, a Saint from Valencia Spain who came here around 1400’s and his body rest in peace at the Cathedral of St Peter at Place Saint Pierre.  The street is full of shops even a Casino supermarket!

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This street takes you on the left to the Place du Poids Public and further into the Place des Lices, two lively architecturally nice squares in old town Vannes.  We do a lot of our shopping here, and the Saturday morning market is awesome. Just around the Place du Poids Public you have the rue de la Poissonnerie that leads you into the Halles aux Poissons or fish market.

vannes vannes

Right in the corner of the two squares Poids Public and Lices you have the 17C Hôtel Francheville or Mynier recently completely renovated done in tufa style stone as the original. Up into the old town you have wonderful architecture, and the passing of the Cathedral St Peter as well as the fine arts museum La Cohue by place St Pierre and also a back entrance on lovely rue des Halles.

vannes Vannes

This rue des Halles is wonderful plenty of stores and restos from buildings as far back as the 14C! By here you will find the archeological museum of Vannes house in the Chateau Gaillard and its magnificent tower at rue Noé.

vannes vannes

You come into Place Valencia,name in honor of the before mention Saint born there, and also lived while in Vannes in the upper level of what is today the library La Procure.  There is a statue of the Saint in the wall. Here there is also the famous statues of the two women right on the wall of the restaurant Villa Valencia.


You can side step into the place Henri IV just before the place St Pierre where the Cathedral Saint Peter is located, here is wooden houses going back to the 14C and after, loaded with quaint stores and one great chocolatier de France ….Coming up to this latest square you have the rue Saint Salomon, another wonderful medieval street full of shops. Right next to the Cathedral there is rue des Chanoines with more wooden houses taking you to the ramparts of Vannes!

vannes vannes vannes vannes


Ok so this was just an afternoon walk, there is a whole lot more here and my previous posts will show you. One really nice find we did moving here, and we love it! You too if you take the time to come and into history, architecture, and good French/Breton foods.

I will put the city and tourist office webpages here for ease of findings things as they are probably in all my other posts as well.

The city of Vannes in English, for tourist type info I have in History and Heritage.

The tourist office of Brittany on Vannes:

The department Morbihan on Vannes in English:

Hope it helps you come and enjoy this jewel of Brittany and France as much as we do. And ,remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

August 30, 2018

Trevi Fountain in Rome!

Upon my business trips to Rome for some time, the time was tight, but did manage to get to some monuments; one of the famous ones always saw it on films was the Trevi Fountain. Once got to know Rome a bit; came with the family on a flight from CDG to Fiumicino airport, got to our apartment in Nomentano , got a bus 62 (best deal and see more above ground) and went to see it first thing!


It is very very touristic spot, sometimes overwhelming but you need to be there either early in the morning or at lunch time when everyone else does it. And still there will be folks there. However, at least for the first time,is a must to see in Rome. We came back several times by it in our two weeks in Rome. My boys finally convince me to take them ,and they all like it; my dear late wife Martine loves the sweets especially there!

I have written pieces of it in my other posts on Rome, however, it deserves a post on its own, therefore, here it is. Enjoy it la Dolce Vita.

The Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) is the largest and one of the most famous fountains in Rome. Built between 1732 and 1762, it is located in the Trevi Rione, in Piazza di Trevi, and is attach to the Poli Palace. The Trevi Fountain is an example of the perpetuation of the Baroque style in the 18C Rome, by its mixture of  monumental effects.

A bit of history I like

This monument was conceived at the request of Pope Clement XII who organizes in 1730 a contest to celebrate, with a fountain, the aqueduct of the Aqua Virgo built in 19BC.   Carried out on Piazza di Trevi, at the time three ways converge towards this square, hence the name of Trevi. The fountain is done in 1762, and inaugurated on 22 May 1762 . The Trevi Fountain wa the subject of a restoration in 1998 in order to modernize its hydraulic system. In 2014,came another restauration without the need to completely mask the monument to the public. However, the fountain was empty and visitors cannot easily see or approach the fountain. It is reopened to the public on November 3, 2015.

Architectural description

The composition of this monumental ensemble is dominated in the lower part by a rocky travertine cliff carved also from animals and plants, in the midst of various streams of water. In the center, a large niche framed with columns, with a coffered ceiling, houses the god of the ocean, Neptune, who drives a tank shaped like a shell drawn by two winged sea horses one of the horses is peaceful while the other seems agitated, in order to symbolize the two aspects that can be offered to us by the sea, themselves preceded by Tritons. The large central niche is framed by two smaller side niches occupied by two marble sculptures; on the right, the statue of safety and left that of prosperity, alluding to the effects of pure water. These two round-tops are themselves surmounted by two panels in bas-relief representing on the left, the general and politician Roman Agrippa commanding the construction of the aqueduct of the Aqua Virgo that feeds the fountain and right, the girl who discovered the source feeding the fountain.


The four large Corinthian columns support enrichment and an attic adorned with a panel on which is engraved the great inaugural inscription and which is adorned four small allegorical statues; from left to right, the abundance of fruits, the fertility of the fields, Autumn richness   and landscaping. The ensemble is crowned by a balustrade and by the arms of Pope Clement XII held by two cherubs. The Trevi fountain is water-powered by the Aqua Virgo Aqueduct, built in 19BC. This 20-km long canal fed water throughout the Middle Ages, the area of the champ de Mars field; A part is visible in the underground archaeological area.


It was customary to throw a coin by the right arm by turning its back to the fountain before leaving “the Eternal City”, a superstition associated with the fountain being that whoever makes this gesture is guaranteed to return to the Italian capital in order to retrieve the coin. After some less good folks this practice is forbidden, and the coins of the fountain is now collected by the authorities and donated to the Catholic Caritas charitable association. Every morning, before the arrival of tourists, the circulation of water is cut. The fountain is cleaned with a brush and the coins are assembled in a long snake line, using long poles, and removed by suction, under police supervision.


The Cinema in the Trevi fountain, and one reason I came looking for it. My favorite films are: In The Fountain of Love (1954) by Jean Negulesco, three young Americans make the vow to find Prince charming by throwing each coin in the fountain. The La Dolce Vita (1960), Federico Fellini shows Anita Ekberg taking her bath in the fountain in evening dress, under the eyes of Marcello Mastroianni (superb). In 1995, on the death of Marcello Mastroianni, the city of Rome veiled the statues in black. Other famous by Federico Fellini is Roman Holiday.

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

Site dedicated wholly to the Trevi Fountain

Tourist office of Rome on the Trevi Fountain

Region of Lazio tourism on the Trevi Fountain

There you go, all set, go. It is a must in Rome and a wonder always to look at it, love is in the air, and it is good for the soul. Enjoy it

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

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August 29, 2018

The wines Nantaise or Muscadet or Poiron Dabin!

Ok let’s talk wine again! If you have been reading my blog you know my love for wines went back to my first sip from my maternal grandmother at age 8! It’s a tradition in our house ever since and into marriage and family life it continues. Today with so much to do and see in my belle France sometimes we skip trips to the wineries ;however, in my vacation time we took it to see one not far from Nantes in the Loire Atlantique dept 44 region of Pays de la Loire.

the vineyards here are the home of the Melon de Bourgogne or simply melon and gives a minerally flavored white wine known as the Muscadet or higher up we have the Muscadet Sévre et Maine sur lie. However, there are other wines  as the AOP region (Appellation d’Origine Protegée by EU standards that in France is same as AOC appellation d’origine controllée) can be broken down into parcels outside the appellation where the growers can choose other grapes such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir , etc. These of course are not AOP wines but just as good indeed if looking at the right producer=winemaker.

Let me tell you briefly about this region and wine appellation first, before we go into the property visited.

The region is located in the departments of the Loire-Atlantique (44), the Vendée (85) and the Maine-et-Loire (49). A single IGP (Iindication Géographique Protégée more at EU level) wine appellation, the Val de Loire.   The vines are planted on shale, granitic and silty soils. The main grape varieties that make up the vineyard are for red wine, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Pinot Noir and Négrette. For white wine, Melon de Bourgogne, Chenin and Sauvignon.  The list of wine region within this AOC are Coteaux Ancenis, fiefs Vendéens, large Plant of the country Nantes, Muscadet, Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire, nutmegt cotes de Grandlieu, Muscadet Sévre and Maine.

More reading to do and learning as we all do is to read these webpages that enhance anybody vision and appreciation for these wines.

Tourist office of Nantes:

Tourist office of the region Pays de la Loire :

Info webpage of the winegrowers of the Nantes region:

The Loire Atlantique dept 44 has more info in French:

Hope you get to know these wonderful wines of the Nantaise, old Brittany you know ::)

The property we visited was that of Poiron Dabin in near town of Chateau Thebaud village of Chantegrolle. Why this property? Well we like to go to places already spoken with the owner either by telephone , email, or in fairs , city tastings promotions etc. Once I realized the property has potential to like it , the personality, the winemakers, and the wines, then we proceed to a formal visit to the property itself. We came to know Poiron Dabin by attending the wine event Village Vignerons in Guérande a while back (see that post); and by speaking with Cynthia and JP we realized these were real wine aficionados who love to tell their trade and wines to all; the wines that follow 3 of them were very good and a great price/quality ratio.

Chateaud thebaud

Once past that stage, we proceed in making reservation for a visit to the property. This we did last Monday August 27th. We arrived by 10h30 as agreed and all was ready with a nice welcome tasting of four bottles from sparklers to pinot noir wines. We proceeded to given a booklet map and go walking in the vineyards!!! This was fun we did about 3 kms or 1.8 miles of vineyards of Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Tannat, Melon de Bourgogne, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc fields and fields about 70 hectares or 173 acres!

Chateaud Thebaud

The best was that on several posts along the route you needed to find the bottle! lol! This was great you find the bottle , you drink it, (we carry cups, corkscrew, etc all provided for). The walk seems like heavens as we seriously search for more posts with wine bottles !!! It was a huge field with a horse farm in the middle of it all, but we were able to find 6 out of 8 bottles; not bad for amateur walkers in the sun at 25C or 77F.

Oh yes the walk is divided into two parts one in the morning and another in the afternoon, with a break for lunch .Oooh did I said Lunch ! wow this was superbe, on our way back we call to let the organizer of the walk know we are close by and she had already all prepared. A huge picnic basket full of cheeses, small tomatoes, cold cuts including pate de champagne delicious ,and baguette breads as well as fruit yogurt like strawberry, framboise etc and of course accompany by the house wines from Pinot Noir, to Muscadet ,Chardonnay and a sparkler brut rose as well ,ending with Maxwell House coffee, bread and butter or tea!!  This trip is explained further in only French here:

chateau thebaud

You are ready all of this plus the tasting, and the supplies of the walk for 30€ per person , we thought this was a still and will surely be back in Fall. English and Spanish is spoken too ! The property webpage is here:

They can ,also, propose a tour in a local river flat bottom boat and wine tastings. This is La Divette option, you can inquire in the property contact email here:

The property of Poiron Dabin produces about 600K bottles per year and were ready to start harvest for 2018 in a couple weeks! They do Melon de BourgogneChardonnayPinot GrisPinot Noir, Fié GrisCôt Malbec, and Berligou, a historical red variety from Britanny ( great red a gift of the duke of Burgundy to his cousin the duke of Brittany in 1460!), petit Manseng and rich Gewurztraminer.

chateau thebaud chateau thebaud

As what we did after tastings all these wonderful wines well we purchase of course. About two cases of wines lol! We do drink in moderation ::)

Our lot included Berligou, sparkler on the traditional method (ie champagne) 2016, Berligou marché de Bretagne 2016 red, Perle de Seduction mousseux demi sec sparkler and The Pinot Gris Rosé Val de Loire et voilà we are taking care of rather nicely.

In all, it was a wonderful day in the vineyards as usual in my belle France or rather beautiful Loire Valley, in the coastal Pays de la Loire (not to be confused with the castle known Centre-Val de Loire region more inland). Enjoy the post and En Vino Veritas

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

August 29, 2018

Honfleur: Lieutenance et Mont Joli!

SO here I am again at you on my special Honfleur. Well if you read my blog, you know it is very special. I promise this will be the last entry for a while on the city ::) As you know , Honfleur is the department 14 of Calvados in the region of Normandy on the coast. The river Seine that flows divides into a bay with Le Havre on the other side and two wonderful bridges Normandie and Tancarville. Enough said , I love it here and wish could visited more ,even if do come often ::)

I get to tell you a bit about two small places, one is very popular in the middle of it all, and the other perhaps more spectacular you need to climb a hilly street and another village part of Honfleur to then see down and amazing sights! I will be telling you about the Lieutenance and Mont Joli.

Always with some history I like to start the post!

Keeper of the old basin, the lieutenancy (or Steward or Lieutenance in French) is the last bastion of the medieval Honfleur, the last vestige of the ramparts, dismantled at the end of the 17C by order of Colbert. The Lieutenancy is one of the flagship buildings of Honfleur. Last vestige of the fortifications of Honfleur, the building was the housing of the King’s lieutenant. The King’s lieutenant was the ruler’s representative in a region. The king’s lieutenants were subordinate to the governors and Lieutenant-generals, representing the king in a province. The number of King’s lieutenants per province could vary according to the size of the province.

Two buildings are to be distinguished in the lieutenancy: the bedrock, made of stone, built around a corridor, is what remains of the enclosure. Above, the brick and stone buildings, built in the 17C, sheltered the apartments of the king’s Lieutenant (hence the name lieutenancy). The very first ramparts of the town of Honfleur were erected in the 13C, around the so-called enclosure. Around 1350, Charles V built a veritable fortress surrounding a harbor-like stranding harbor, as well as the city. Beyond extend the suburbs. The enclosure consisted of powerful walls. Two gates opened on the outside: the Porte de Rouen to the south-east of the city and the Porte de Caen to the north-west, in other words the lieutenancy. The most westerly part of the gates has been rebuilt, the present façade dating from the 16C. It is surmounted by a niche, which contains a statue of the Virgin, Notre Dame du Port (Our Lady of the Port), and flanked by two graceful turrets in corbelled, decorated with the weapons of the city.

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A plaque in memory of Samuel de Champlain, a navigator who explored Canada and founded the city of Québec from Honfleur in 1608, is affixed to the south facade of the building.

Guided tours, two or three times a year (a request to the tourist office) provided by city approved guides, will show in particular two recent discoveries on the construction site: The old Round Road and a échiffre(en?), a vestige of an old military device. Wonderful to look at every time coming into town and walking around it is sublime very nice area by the Vieux Bassin or old basin.

A webpage to help you plan your trip here is

Mont joli is a beautiful hill, yes right up by the Chapelle de Notre Dame de Grâce (see previous post) and with indeed beautiful views below. It’s a stop to gaze and wonder and dream on in Honfleur.

Located on the heights of Honfleur and a few steps from the Chapel of Our Lady of Grace, in Equemauville, Mont Joli is a magnificent viewpoint which deserves a small detour. It offers a breathtaking view of the entire city, below, with its typical Norman-architecture houses, as well as the remarkable Tancarville Bridge, built in the mid-1950’s. The Normandy Bridge and the mouth of the Seine river. From the hill, a nice little road goes down to Honfleur and you can thus return to the city on foot via a pleasant walk. Well it is steep hilly not my cup of tea so I have not done this but is available!


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One webpage to help you plan your trip here a bit more is

In all you got the high and the lows of Honfleur, you can see the water’s edge and the medieval looking inner harbor and the sights from above with far away views that at night are just well awesome.

Hope you enjoy the trip to Honfleur, and make you come here and tell me more about my special town in Calvados, Normandy. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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August 28, 2018

Chapel of Notre Dame de Grâce, Honfleur!

And on my continuing tour of the special ocean city of Honfleur, I come to our utmost favorite. This is without much , the Chapel of Notre Dame de Grâce. A family tradition that with the busy lives sometimes we missed ,but we do come often.

This is the oldest tradition here, and when you are in a traditional Norman town, the oldest have a greater meaning. We love it, enough said.

And now let me give you a bit of history and the latest photos of the Chapelle Notre Dame de Grâce or Our Lady of Grace Chapel.

The Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Grâce is a Catholic chapel located in Équemauville, part of the town of Honfleur in the department 14 Calvados in the region of Normandy. You have faith or come by car as it is very hilly to get to the Chapel in the village .


The Notre-Dame de Grace Chapel is built in 1600-1615 (on land given by Madame de Montpensier) by the burghers and sailors of Honfleur at the site of an old chapel that disappeared in a landslide of the cliff in 1538. This primitive chapel was founded before the year 1023 by Richard II, then duke of Normandy to fulfill a vow made during a storm in which he had almost perished. Since then, the cult of Our Lady of Grace has been perpetuated. It was at this time that the Capuchin fathers planted a wooden cross to indicate the location of the old chapel, a cross that was about thirty meters from the present Calvary. It housed many ex-votos, model boats and an organ made by the organ factor Dupont in 1990. On the outside, on the left, you can see the bells of the pilgrimages.

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The interior consists of a small nave, richly decorated and two transepts; The one on the left is devoted to the Norman settlers who settled in Canada, the one on the right is dedicated to St. Teresa of the Child Jesus of Lisieux. The canopies relate the history of the chapel. By a writ of 1912, the chapter of Saint Peter of Rome awarded the Golden Crown to the statue of Our Lady of Grace and it was in June 1913 that the solemn feasts of the coronation of Our Lady of Grace were celebrated.

You can see the statue of Saint Peter in the choir of the Chapel; A statue of St. Anne bearing Mary and the Child Jesus and a statue of Saint Joseph in wood dating from the 18C. Many marble plaques and paintings perpetuate the memory of famous people who came to this chapel: Samuel de Champlain, Pierre Berthelot, king Louis XIII, Napoleon Ier,  and Saint Theresa of Lisieux.

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There was this first episode narrated from the city of Lisieux, ravaged by the plague in 1624, which was delivered after its officials and religious leaders had made a vow to Our Lady of Grace. Indeed, as a child, Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face came, being a child, several times to Honfleur with her family, on a pilgrimage to the Virgin Mary, to the Chapel of Our Lady of Grace. It was here that little Thérèse Martin took the decision to go to the Holy Father in Rome to asked  him for the exceptional permission to enter the convent before the minimum age required. This is why a relic of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus is now in Honfleur.  It is further noted that Athalie and Désirée Gosselin, two sisters, took to the Chapel of Our Lady of Grace the decision to have a Carmel built in Lisieux, after, because of their fragile health, they could not be admitted to the Carmel of Pont-Audemer. It was precisely in this same Carmel that little Thérèse entered, in 1888.


There is a great Festival of the Marines or Sailors’s Festival on the weekend of Whit Sunday or Fête des Marins. This is taken place here since 1861.This festival is a gathering of all those whose lives are linked to the sea. All kinds of craft gather in the Seine estuary for a benediction to remember the dead and to bless the boats.  On Whit Monday a procession including sailors and their families, carrying model ships, winds its way in pilgrimage from the town center to the Chapel of Notre Dame de Grâce where an outdoor Mass is celebrated, at across from the Chapel there is a smaller one where the Bishop presides the Mass. During this weekend, a fair visits the town and the Société des Marins organises an exhibition and concerts in the Greniers à Sel and concerts in tribute to fellow seamen. One can admire a picturesque procession of the models boats carried by the children from the Church of Saint Catherine (see previous post) to the Chapel of Notre-Dame of Grace. Magical fairy tail.

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

Tourist office of Honfleur:

Tourist office of Calvados dept 14:

Tourist office of the Normandy region:

It is magical to go up the hill and from there look over the ocean, the city, the Cross of Christ and on the other side Le Havre! At nighttime is awesome for the romantics especially.

Enjoy Honfleur! as we do.  And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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August 28, 2018

Church of Sainte Catherine, Honfleur!

And here I am again on my special Honfleur, each stop is memorable and full of souvenirs for the family. I have written many posts on Honfleur , all in a general touristic nature; however, I need to tell you about some things to see that are really worth the detour. Of course the city is in dept 14, Calvados , in the region of Normandy.

I like to tell you today about the Church of Sainte Catherine, and have written a bit on it with some photos previously in my blog here:

This is a wonderful Church . The whole area around it is magical quaint , beautiful architecture, and plenty of history I like.  Let me give you a bit more background on the Church.

The Church of St. Catherine is located near the old basin, just behind the Quai Sainte-Catherine, along the rue des Logettes in the neighborhood of the Faubourg Saint Catherine, bordered by the sea, was the sailors ‘ area. The Church of St. Catherine replaces a stone Church destroyed during the Hundred Years ‘ War. It is the largest Church in France built in wood by marine carpenters. It is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, as a wood carving above the porch of the steeple, which is separated from the two naves, reminds you.

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The first nave, the oldest part of the building, dates back to the second half of the 15C. It is built on the model of a market hall, with the appearance of an inverted boat hull. In the 16C a second nave is added, the vault of which conforms to that of modest Gothic Churches. The Church is covered with shingles in chestnut wood that make up the timber frame. At the bottom of the main nave is placed a beautiful organ whose carved oak buffet is in the style of the 18C, one can admire a painting depicting the carrying of crosses. Near the altar, you can see the statue of St. Catherine, which holds with one hand a palm, in the other a sword.

The neo-Norman porch was built on the model of those of the rural Churches of Normandy at the beginning of the 20C and replaces a monumental portal in Neo-Classic style built in the previous century and which can be seen depicted on some paintings of Jongkind or Boudin. The South Gate is in Renaissance style.  Note the classical organ from the parish of Saint Vincent of Rouen and the Renaissance balcony adorned with musical characters. 19C stained-glass windows decorate the chorus in the east.

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The eagle-shaped lectern dates from the 15C, it is in bronze. The painting depicting the martyrdom of Pierre Berthelot was blessed in 1926; The stained glass windows and canopies were inaugurated in 1887. The steeple was erected at a good distance from the nave, it is square in frame, clad in essence and topped by an octagonal pyramid in essence, it relies on stone bedrock. The bell tower’s crutches placed in 1718 support the building. On January 2, 2015 marks the 142nd anniversary of Sainte-Thérèse of Alençon; It is on this day that the sacred reliquary with a kneecap of Sainte-Thérèse was installed at the Church of St. Catherine.


It is a classic in Honfleur, a must see for all. One of the nice things to do in the city.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The city of Honfleur:

Tourist office of Honfleur:

The department of Calvados:

The region of Normandy:

Hope you enjoy this brief but I think interesting story on the symbolic Church of Honfleur. There will be more around here to come. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!




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August 28, 2018

How about Mettlach, Germany!

In my lapse on Germany after finally coming on family visits we were base south of Trier and by car traveled all over the Western parts. One town caught the attention of my dear late wife Martine from brochures, this was Mettlach; the reason ,shopping !!!

I like the town for its quaint architecture, on the banks of the Sarre river, and the quaint restaurants around the main square on a hilly terrain down to the river. Of course, if you are into shopping of the good names at reduce prices then this is it for you!! My Martine love it!!!

Let me tell you a bit more on Mettlach, my previous touristic blog post is here: Mettlach in the Sarre of Germany

Mettlach is a municipality in the district of Merzig-Wadern in Saarland,  approximately 7 km (4.3 mi) northwest of Merzig, and 30 km (19 mi) south of Trier. Here we took again the B51 south from Konz-Trier. Very nice picturesque road takes you right along the Sarre river entering town over the bridge on Von Boch Liebig Strabe(street).

A bit of history I like

Mettlach, formerly Mettloch, was a village and abbey in the Duchy of Lorraine, attached to the Diocese of Trier. The Abbey of Mettlach was founded in the 7C by Lutvin, who was the first abbot.

For those in the footing, there is a nice castle ruins outside of town. The Castle of Montclair is in ruins.  At the Convention of  1778, it was recalled that, in accordance with what had already been stipulated in 1661, between France and the Elector of Trier(local govt at the time), the fort and Château de MontClair could never be relieved or reinstated. The way the tourist office has it, you go from the parking place at the Pfaffkirche in Mettlach, following “Tafeltour ” signs you will reach this picturesque small castle after about 3.5 km of walking. The Trail is quite steep, but it leads through beautiful woods with several viewing spots with benches where you can relax, if needed, so it is still enjoyable.

There is an opportunity for river cruising very popular here even if we had no time or no willingness to do so, it is here for information only.

Cruises on the Sarre river from Mettlach:

The Church of  Liutwinious name after the first abbot who founded it here is very quaint nice on a hilly plateau overlooking the city below, worth the climb.



Like I said, we came here for the shopping and the whole town seems to be gear for the factory outlet stores especially that of fame Villeroy & Boch! Here we took small plates and cups and went on to the others to get some more goodies always temptation abount here, the prices are right for the quality product, the places is picturesques and quaint old world ,and just dandy places to eat. A nice find indeed.


More info on the shopping below

Outlet factory store shopping in Mettlach:

Outlet factory shopping in English:

Villeroy & Boch in Mettlach:

Official webpage Villeroy & Boch :

Some additional webpages on tourist info to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist info city of Mettlach:

Tourist info region of Sarre:

There you a nice spot indeed to spend a day of glorious shopping ,good food, and nice picturesques scenes on the Sarre river. Enjoy it

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


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August 27, 2018

Church of Saint Leonard at Honfleur

Once again coming back to Honfleur. It is special and lucky to be able to do all the things I was entrusted to do ,and be able to come back to it several times. You can read my blog and will understand more. I was just back from it.

Honfleur is special and its Churches are the soul that rings with history, traditions, architecture ,and just quaint neighborhoods of old and today. Just lovely for a walk, see ,do eat, drink and be merrier for life’s given. I have done many posts on Honfleur over the years in my blog, today will pick just one a Church. And I am sure have more pictures of this Church in those other posts but these are the latest.

Let me tell you a bit more on the Church of Saint Leonard of Honfleur.

The Saint-Léonard district overlooks the library and the Tourist office and stands out in particular by the presence of its imposing Church, dedicated to Saint-Léonard . The fountains and laundry or lavoir of Saint-Léonard, which borders the Church, belong also to history. Their existence has been attested since the 15C. It is in the heart of the Faubourg Saint Léonard, that the recently arranged garden of Tripot  is located. You will discover the Claire River, crossing Honfleur, and the old Tanners ‘ district.

The Church of Saint-Léonard of Honfleur, was there already a sanctuary in 1186 at the site of the present Church as evidenced by a charter of the abbey of Grestain. Leonard, young man of the Court of king Clovis and patron Saint of the prisoners , died near Limoges in 559AD.


The Church consists of a large nave with two aisles and a choir completed by a three-sided bedside. The façade is of flamboyant Gothic style and only surviving part of the old Gothic Church. The main gate is considered one of the most beautiful expressions of flamboyant Gothic. There are also some rebirth elements. The majority of the Church was burned by the Huguenots (protestants) at the time of the wars of Religion in the 16C. Most of the Church was rebuilt in the 17C and 18C, which explains the peculiar shape of the dome tower, rare in Normandy, but which evokes those that are encountered in eastern France. The large octagonal bell tower dates from 1760. It is decorated in its upper part of elegant bas-reliefs representing instruments of Music.

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The interior is fully decorated with murals, as well as the wood vault with apparent framing. The stained glass windows date from the 19C, in the apse, in the center, the life of Saint Leonard. The stained glass windows of the lower sides represent the stations of the Cross. The Organ of the Tribune is by Aristide Cavaillon-Coll ;however by 1901, Charles Mutin, successor to Cavaile-Coll, rebuilt the instrument in its present layout. He reused some of the old piping and rebuilt box springs, mechanics, blower and console.

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Some webpages to help your visit to this nice Church are

City of Honfleur on Church of Saint Leonard :

The parish of Honfleur on the Church Saint Leonard in French:

There you go a bit of walking past the old basin and you reach this wonderful Church in a very quaint old neighborhood of Saint Leonard in Honfleur.

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

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