Archive for August 7th, 2018

August 7, 2018

Some news from France CXCVIII

And not forgetting that I live here now, let me bring you up to my belle France with the latest news on the front as chosen by yours truly. It is now nice sunny cool breeze day it seems the heatwave of the last few days is gone at least in  my beautiful Morbihan of Brittany.

Some of the latest tidbits of my France to follow.

UPDATE: An important event happening today in Amiens, Picardie. British Prime Minister Theresa May and Prince Williams will be there today! The Battle of Amiens took place from 8 to 11 August 1918, during the 3rd Battle of Picardie on the Western Front, in France. The English troops were between the towns of Albert and the channel of the Somme connecting Amiens to Péronne. General Sir Henry Rawlinson’s 4th British Army was spread out over 25 km of front, consisting of 7 divisions and 4 reserve divisions. Between the canal and the Amiens-Laon railway line were the Australians of Lieutenant-General John Monash and the Canadians. To the south of the railway line was the French Army of General Eugène Debeney, consisting of 8 divisions and 4 reserve divisions. The German defeat was clear, but the losses many. RIP freedom fighters! More here : Europe 1 in French but Video on the event

Paris Maudit or Cursed Paris, organized by the group Sous le Pavés (under the pavements) gives you a nice guided tour to some incredible places in Paris. Now you know I do not take tours but this one was recommended by people I trust to be very good. Rate:21€. Twice a week at 8h. Adults from 12 years old. Reservations : Sous les Paves guided tours

Kicked off the Champs-Elysées for his Christmas market last year, forced to give up his big wheel place de la Concorde, Marcel Campion bounces back!. He will install his Christmas Market chalets in the Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries )from November 24 2018 to January 6 2019.  A domain that belongs to the Louvre and not to the city of Paris! . The rides on the space Carré des Sangliers on the Seine side (1 000 m2) and the large Esplanade des Feuillants  (8 300 m2) are available for events, and the Louvre came through!

And to follow suit on Marcel Campion, until August 26, lovers of cotton candy, of rides and thrills have an appointment to the Festival of Tuileries which is held there every summer, for 20 years has therefore (re) installed for the summer its famous  Ferris wheel, Cars bumper, a phantom train and the 6g , a merry-go-round at 140 km/h. But also fun animations like archery and a climbing wall. The little ones are not forgotten with a duck fishing and a throws. What a summer of madness in Paris! Festival (Fête) of the Tuileries.Jardin des Tuileries (Iéme). Every day from 11h  to midnight, à1h on Fridays and Saturdays. Free entrance,but individual paying attractions. What thrills to bring my boys here and working just across from it for several years!

The sculpture exhibition “Les Sylphides” at the Bossuet Museum in Meaux (my dear late wife Martine native town always remembered) was extended until August 19. In addition to the “Sylphides”, the Bossuet Museum welcomes until  September 16, the exhibition of another sculptor whose works pay homage to the female body: Jacques Coquillay and “The feminine ideal, 60 years of creation”. At 5, place Charles de Gaulle; Meaux 77100. Open every day of the week except Tuesday. All schedules on  Bossuet Museum at Meaux

While in the same dept 77 Seine et Marne. The first Air Legend Paris-Villaroche, Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th September, at the aerodrome of Melun-Villaroche. The planes are  expected in the sky of Seine-et-Marne during this air meeting on the towns of Montereau-sur-le-Jard, Réau and Limoges-Fourches.  One  Catalina, an American seaplane, but also a P36, the first De Havilland Vampire Jet, released in 1945, the mythical Corsair, the Messerschmidt 109, the planes of the Battle of Britain:  the Spitfire, a Skyraider… Forty-five planes of  WWII, some still never seen in the île de France region before, will take the air. The two runways, 1 300 and 1 900 meters, and the hangars, including the incredible Eiffel hangar, will relive  in  great times, during the reconstruction of French aviation in the Fifties. The Dassault company has also carried out a number of test flights. Visitors will also attend a demonstration of the French patrol demonstration team  on Saturdays and a simple passage on Sundays. At the same time, the public will be able to stroll through a village of exhibitors, do helicopter baptisms and children enjoy inflatable games. Paris-Villaroche Air Legend, Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 September, from 9h to 18h. Melun Airfield, entrance 27 euros, presales 24 euros. Ticketing and information at Air Legend air show

The capital of the river boating  for 161 years, the city of Conflans-Saint-Honorine (Yvelines dept 78!) hosts the Musée de la Batellerie et des Voies Navigables( Museum of the inland waterways). It is in the Chateau de la  prieuré, built in the 19C, just a few steps from the Seine river, that the collection rests. A castle that belonged to Jules Gévelot, captain of industry, manufacturer of hunting cartridges, deputy and mayor of the city between 1871 and 1881. The tour begins on the ground floor in the outer courtyard which gathers a large number of ancient objects such as parts of boats, anchors, propellers and other tools showing the evolution of transport boats. In the first room is presented an imposing model of lock that introduces the spectator to maneuvers. To access the first floor of the castle, you have to take the staircase of honor. We then arrive in the best preserved space of the property: The Hall of Honor. Here are presented the means of propulsion used in France and the current technique: pushing. Family, the museum presents Dioramas, staged models. One of them takes the visitor to the Place de Greve, in Paris, in the 18C in a scene representing a water mark, a river boat, of wood, flat-bottomed, without motor. All types of boats that have been able to sail on rivers, rivers or canals of France are exposed on the first floor  Musée de la Batellerie et des Voies Navigables , 3, place Jules-Gévelot, in the Seine river at Conflans-Saint-Honorine . Open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 10h  to 12h noon. and from 14h. to 17h30; Wednesday and Friday from 14h to 17h30. Price: from 1.50 to 5 euros. Reservations at +33 (0) or   River Boatings Museum

Also, take a cruise. The tourist office of Conflans- Saint-Honorine offers several forms of cruises on the Seine and the Oise rivers. Saturday, a day in the valley of the Seine with breakfast and lunch is organized. The boat will depart from the Seine river and its many islands which widens to the royal towns of Poissy and Mantes-la-Jolie. You can also enjoy a 1-hour walk every Sunday until September 9th.  And inquire about the  walk in the Vexin Natural Park. Information from the tourist office at 23, rue René-Albert. Tel.+33 (0) or on   Tourist office Conflans-Sainte-Honorine

La Roche-Guyon. Large cruise ships can now stop in the town, one of the most beautiful in France, since August 1st!!!. By the Ports of Paris. Stopover for cruise ships with accommodation of 135 meters maximum for a maximum duration of 24 hours. This is just in contact the city tourist office at La Roche Guyon on tourism

Memories of apéros happy hours with friends here and now back on.  The emblematic Hôtel Lutétia  on the left bank (rive gauche) reopens after four years of work. The address finds restaurants and bars that contributed to forging its legend: La Brasserie , the Orangerie and the Saint-Germain, which opens onto a new patio, the Bar Josephine, with jazz concerts, and an extended lounge of two Smoking Rooms. More at Hotel Lutetia Paris

Pierre Cardin celebrated his 95 birthday on July 2 last. The opportunity to return to the pair of fashions he formed with Jeanne Moreau, and those that were new and Saint Laurent, Audrey Hepburn and Givenchy  who the house has just paid homage. The cinema needs elegance and the fashion of a showcase. Yet they have seldom made good housekeeping. While fashion designers  have managed to impose some of their creations in films, few have experienced a rewarding relationship, apart from price discounts or red carpets. Yet, the joint history of cinema and fashion includes three notorious exceptions, three exceptional collaborations that have been surrended to the city… one is Pierre Cardin.More on the history here: Official site Pierre Cardin

Sad news indeed. The most starry chef in the world has just died at the age of 73. Present in New York, Las Vegas, London, Monaco, Tokyo, Hong Kong or Bangkok, it also has three tables and a cellar in the capital. Born in Poitiers in 1945, Joël Robuchon began his career as a chef at the age of 29 at the restaurant of the Hotel Concorde Lafayette (17éme). After being the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (best worker of France) in 1976, he took the direction of the kitchens of the Hotel Nikko (15éme) in 1978, where he won his first two stars. In 1981, he opened his first restaurant, Le Jamin (16éme), for which he obtained three macaroons in three years. In 1994, he inaugurated the restaurant Joël Robuchon Avenue Raymond Poincaré (16éme). Two years later, he makes his stars and announces his retirement. Retirement that it will not take completely, since it will create in particular the concept of the workshop, opening in Paris, Tokyo, London ,and New York. Last spring, Joël Robuchon, still full of projects, presented in the Golden Triangle what would be his last table, the pastry-tearoom-Restaurant-Sake Bar Joël Robuchon Dassaï (8éme). He will be missed but his creations continues ,here are to note:  L’Atelier Saint-Germain 5, rue de Montalembert (7éme). Tél. +33 (0)1 42 22 56 56.  Cave Joël Robuchon. 3, rue Paul-Louis Courier (7éme). Tél.+33 (0) 1 42 22 11 02.  L’Atelier Étoile de Joël Robuchon ,inside the Publicis Drugstore, 133, avenue des Champs-Élysées (8éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 47 23 75 75. Joël Robuchon-Dassaï. 184, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré (8éme). Tél. +33( 0) 1 76 74 74 70. More on his legacy here : Official site Joel Robuchon

The Museum of the Orangerie, which offers until August 20th an exhibition entitled “Nymphéas. The American abstraction and the last Monet» ,has since 1922, welcomes, in two oval rooms, the great ensemble of Nymphéas by Claude Monet (eight panels of two meters high and a total length of 91 meters), offered by the painter to the French State. See also, the works of the collection Walter and Guillaume acquired by the French State in 1950 and which brings together 146 works from the 1860’s  to the 1930’s: Renoir, Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani, etc etc… To visit preferably from the opening to enjoy the calm and the serenity of the place.  Musée de l’Orangerie. Jardin des Tuileries . Place de la Concorde (Iéme). Every day except Tuesday, 9h-18h. Price: 9€, free for children under 18 years. Tel.+33 ( 0)1 44 77 80 07. More here: Musee de l’Orangerie Paris

See , taste , go now ! Sébastian Gaudard’s new patisserie reopening on August 21, it is towards the Salon de Thé  that you will have to direct you to fill up with sweets near the garden three years after the store at rue des Martyrs (9éme), under the arcades  Of the rue and the place des Pyramides, displays a real outraged charm. On the spot or to take away, you can find its traditional pastries brought to the taste of the day: Mussipontain, baba au Rhum, Saint-Honoré, Paris-Brest, puits d’Amour (well of love), millefeuille,  Tropezian, Kouglof, strawberry tartes, and  fruit pies.  But also its ice cream, sorbets and eskimos! In the  Salon de Thé French style of the first floor, it also offers some savoury dishes such as the croque-monsieur sandwich, as well as a brunch on weekends and holidays. Pâtisserie des Tuileries Sébastien Gaudard. 1, rue des Pyramides (Iéme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 71 18 24 70. Open every day except Mondays  from 10h to 19h. Closed August 13-15. More here: Patisserie des Tuileries Sebastian Gaudard

There you go , some more at you from my belle France. Summer is back to bearable and we are stepping out! Care to join us? Lovely days are coming and me just around the corner for my 3 weeks vacation!!

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

August 7, 2018

Plaza Mayor, Madrid!

And now let me bring out a very popular square, besides if visited Madrid you will not be able to tell much if not had visited the Plaza Mayor. I am coming to it and see its transformation since childhood and always amazes me to see it. It is part of the quinssentional Madrid. And  a great spot to look down on it or as we say, from Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day.

I have written bits on it , more on the touristic side, will like to dwell on this post on the historical/personal side I like. Madrid

Located in the district of the Centro and in the neighborhood  of Sol, near the Puerta del Sol, the square is in the form of a rectangle of 129 by 94 meters. Fully pedestrianized, it is accessible by ten entrances, several of which connect it to Calle Mayor, in the north.  The Plaza Mayor, the center of it all rivaling the Puerta del Sol. Mayor is older and wonderfully decorated on its façades with a great equestrian statue of king Felipe III done in 1616 but place here since 1848. It dates from the 1580 until finished by 1619, when it was one of the limits of the city.



When at the confluence of the roads (today Streets) of Toledo and Atocha, on the outskirts of the medieval village, was celebrated in this site, known as Plaza del Arrabal, the main market of the village, building at this time the arcaded  house , or Lonja, to regulate the trade in the square . Named Plaza de la Villa, it then houses the main municipal market and undergoes first transformations which aim to equip it with a hall or market. In 1580, King Felipe II ordered plans to redevelop it. The work begins from 1590 with the construction of the House of the bakery (Casa de la Panadería), to replace the old Hall. In 1617, Felipe III continued the project, which was completed two years later.


Between 1631 and 1790, the square is ravaged by three fires that impose its reconstruction every time. The last of these is the work of Juan de Villanueva, which was pursued by the architects Aguado and Moreno on his death. It was only at the completion of the project, in 1854, that the place took its present form, notably marked by lower buildings (three floors instead of five) and a series of arcades.  In 1848, the equestrian statue of king Felipe III, produced by Jean de Bologna and Pietro Tacca at the beginning of the 17C, was placed in the center.


Originally known as Plaza de la Villa, it then takes the one of Plaza Mayor. In 1812, by decree, the most important squares in Spain were all renamed Plaza de la Constitucion in honor of the new constitution. The place thus bears this name until the restoration of king Fernando VII in 1814, when it became the Plaza Real, before becoming the Plaza de la Constitucion three times (1820-1823, 1833-1835 and 1840-1843). Renamed  Plaza de la Republica in 1873, and then again in the Constitution after the restoration, it retained this last name until the beginning of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. The proclamation of the Second Republic provokes a new change in favor of the Plaza de la Constitucion, but at the end of the Spanish Civil War it takes over the name we know today, as Plaza Mayor.


Delimited by a set of granite arcades, the square is surrounded with three-stories apartment buildings and 237 balconies. Under the arcades, galleries house a set of traditional shops, as well as specialized shops.

Casa de la Panaderia or House of the bakery ,first seat of the royal administration of weights and measures, it shelters from 1745 to 1774 the Royal Academy of Fine Arts San Fernando, then until 1871 the Royal Academy of History. Since then it has been hosting various municipal services.  After the second fire suffered by the square, in 1672, the Casa de la Panaderia  is redecorated and adorned with frescoes designed by Claudio Coello and José Jiménez Donoso. In 1988, the municipality organized a competition to modify these frescoes. Mythological figures (Cybele, Proserpine, Bacchus, Cupid, etc.) and imaginaries are then carried out. The last of the performances in the Plaza Mayor, carried out in 1992, consisted of the mural decoration, work of Carlos Franco, of the Casa de la Panaderia, representing mythological characters like the goddess Cibeles. The tourist office of the city is also on the square, in the famous Casa de la Panaderia!

In the centered upper part of the Casa de la Panaderia  is carved in stone a blazon with the weapons of king Carlos II. Given the absence of Portugal’s weapons, it can be deduced that the shield was styled at a later date than 1668, when the Spanish Crown recognized the independence of Portugal, which was de facto from 1640. The shield is composed of the arms of Castilla and León , in the first quadrant; the arms of Aragon and Sicily, in the second; the weapons of Austria and modern Burgundy, in the third; those of ancient Burgundy and Brabant, in the fourth, those of Flanders and Tyrol in the escutcheon below and the symbol of Granada in the center of the Shield .

Casa de la Carniceria or house of the butchers located on the south side, it is originally built on an unknown date. After the fire of 1631, it is rebuilt on the model of the Casa de la Panaderia or house of the bakery. It owes its name to the fact that it first served as a general store for meat.

Arcos de Cuchilleros or  Arch of Cutlers located at the southwest corner, it is the work of Juan de Villanueva, who designs it with an important difference in level in order to connect it to the edge of the square. It owes its name to the old calle de Cuchilleros, a corporation that provided the butchers of the market square. Below the staircase there are many typical restaurants. The Arcos de Cuchilleros is perhaps the most famous of the ten accesses of the Plaza Mayor  ( like Calle 7 de Julio, Arco de Triunfo, and Felipe III to the north; Sal, Zaragoza and Gerona to the east; Botoneras, Toledo and Cuchilleros to the south (the official name of this access is Calle de la Escalerilla de Piedra (ladder of stone); and Ciudad Rodrigo to the west, and located in the southwest corner of the square:Plaza Mayor. There is another entry by the left of the Casa de la Carniceria  that has no exit to the square, and another arch on the left of the facade smaller that also has no exit to the square. This is my most memorable part of the square.


The square is one of the most active centers of the 17C Madrid. Shows of all kinds are held there such as bullfights, trials of the Inquisition, lumberjacks, etc. The crowd attends these public acts from the balconies overlooking it.  Nowadays it is an indispensable site of Madrid tourism and one of the emblems of the capital. Summer and end of year holidays are the most lively times.


And now it is time for the anniversary, happy birthday Plaza Mayor!  The exhibition La Plaza Mayor. Retrato y Máscara de Madrid or Portrait and Mask of Madrid is showing at the Museo de Historia de Madrid or History museum of Madrid  until November 11th 2018.  Location: Calle Fuencarral 78, get there on metro Tribunal lines 1 and 10 as well as Bus lines 3 , 21 , 40 , 147 ,and 149. Admission is Free.  Plaza Mayor celebrates 400 years as the beating heart of Spain’s capital. The exhibit shows how the square has taken on the character of each new era in Spanish history. Large portion of the second half of the exhibit, which shows Plaza Mayor’s metamorphosis from 1843 to 2018, is devoted to the photographs of Martín Santos Yubero. With good reason, Santos Yubero was renowned for his documentary coverage of Madrid, which spanned the better part of the 20C. The History Museum does tourists and locals a favor with its detailed account of one of the capital’s main thoroughfares. Just as Madrid has become a center for government, art, nightlife and football, Plaza Mayor is all at once,market, park, cafe and stage. Don’t let the pricey drinks fool you: underneath all the gaudiness lie 400 years of la vida Madrileña (Madrilene lives). More in Spanish on the city of Madrid webpage:  City of Madrid on the event at museum of History


Many public transports takes you here from many sites in Madrid. The more popular are by metro lines 1,2,and 3 at Sol and even better by bus as above you see more are the lines  17 ,18,23,31,35, and 65.

One of the favorite of mine for year is the store La Favorita for its hats, could not leave there without fitting one for my paternal grandfather an avid hat wearer and he love it when I came back with one lol! Another favorite that came years later with what is now my wife is Las Cuevas de Luis Candelas resto in calle Cuchilleros just past the Arco de Cuchicheros arch. This is a typical Castilian restaurant a bit overrun over the years with tourists but still hanging on to the past. Another favorite for hats, umbrellas , caps etc is Casa Yustas another legendary store in the square. There is a great Christmas market there for several years now, and the adjoining streets of Toledo, Mayor, and Atocha are full of shops and restos to last a lifetime tastings.And to eat in the square, or Plaza Mayor, you have the famous Museo del Jamon there ,super .And the Cerveceria Plaza Mayor or brasserie restaurant wonderful.

Tourist office of Madrid ,general info on the History Museum: Madrid tourist office on History Museum

Some additional webpages to help you plan your trip to the Plaza Mayor are

tourist office of Madrid on Plaza Mayor

Comunidad de Madrid tourism on the Plaza Mayor

There you go, now you are all set to visit this wonderful old square ,only in time as it is always young and vibrant, the heartbeat of Madrid 17C and 21C :Enjoy it.

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

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