Archive for September 19th, 2018

September 19, 2018

Some news from France CXCXII

Well so much news to tell on my belle France, and little time. I am leaving to the Americas Friday,and then back and then out to Spain again lol! This is getting good, I am back traveling, life even if sad must go on!

Let me tell you a bit on the glamour, chic, caché side of my belle France, after all that is one reason folks makes it the No 1 most visited country in the world, UN WTO sources.

The Château Ancy-le-Franc , gem of the Renaissance, located between Tonnerre and Montbard, in the heart of Burgundy, built between 1542 and 1550 ,was in dismal condition, it was raining inside and the decorations painted by hand, originals dating for some of the first school of Fontainebleau, were very degraded. The acquisition, in 1999 of the Castle and its 50 hectares of park by a private company   might have save it.

Starting with the Cour d’honneur, a perfect quadrilateral, which later served as a model for the square courtyard of the Louvre, with its Roman arches, fluted double pilasters and aureoles niches of scallops, one of the symbols of the Renaissance. Then comes the tour of the murals like that of the gallery of Pharsalus, a cameoed ochre of breathtaking beauty that represents the famous battle between the troops of Caesar and those of Pompey in 48 BC. The sumptuous room of Diane, so named in honor of Diane de Poitiers, favorite of King Henry II and sister-in-law of Antoine III of Clermont-Tallard, who built the castle.

In 2012, it all began restoring the gardens, the sumptuous flowerbed composed of four paintings of flowers installed since last year in front of the wing is at the bottom of the perspective, a circular basin of 17 meters in diameter, inspired by the original plane, perfect all with its jet vertically aligned to the symmetry axis of the castle.

Next to these regular gardens like the west parterre, recreated a year earlier by following the same approach to restore the banks of the water room that stretches facing the south wing of the castle, with its madness, small octagonal building built on an islet. Planting twelve bald cypress trees, from six weeping willows and marsh flower mats, to the range of colors chosen to create a perspective, will restore luster to the romantic part of the park, arranged in the 18C by one of the descendants of Louvois , Minister of War of Louis XIV, who had acquired the estate in 1684. You need to see it indeed in a lovely area of France… ,more info here: official Chateau Ancy le Franc

The Dordogne valley, the Château de Montal in the Lot, is known for having hosted in WWII, the painting of Leonardo da Vinci, the Mona Lisa, threatened in Paris by the Nazi advance. What is less known is Auguste Rodin’s share of the restoration of this Renaissance masterpiece, which he visited several times. Everything starts in 1908 built by Jeanne de Balsac around 1519, Montal celebrates the humanist virtues of its time by a subtle iconography. Maurice Fenaille gathers sculptures and friezes scattered around and in 1913, he donated his castle to the State, subject to a usufruct for him and his children.

As part of the exhibition entitled “Rodin, Fenaille, Matruchot, Portrait of a Renaissance” (from November 12 2018 to June 16, 2019) The Rodin Museum, which is rare, has agreed to lend eight works by Rodin including a bust of Madame Fenaille. An ensemble to which is added a portrait of the sculptor by Camille Claudel. Château de Montal. Saint – Jean – Lespinasse . Tel.: 05.65.38.13.72 . More at: official Chateau de Montal

More on the tourist office of the Lot dept 46 region of Occitanie: Tourist office of the Lot dept 46 on Montal

At Cognac, the rebirth of the Monnet cellars illustrates this contemporary reflection. At 50 Avenue Paul-Firino-Martell, adjacent to the Martell Foundation, the monumental gate of low walls has not changed. But it now opens to a 5-star hotel, where a famous cognac distillery was built in 1838. It has known several owners. But history has retained only one name: Jean-Gabriel Monnet, the father of the fierce craftsman of European union. Born in Cognac, Jean Monnet began his career in the family business and made a fortune in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon by selling the burnt wine to American smugglers during Prohibition (1920’s). The Monnet kept it until 1962. Then the distillery was sold to the German firm Scharlachberg, before entering the bosom of Hennessy, who in turn ceded it to the municipality of Cognac. It was in 2004 and no more than a drop of hot water came out.   In July 2016, an investor spent 60 million euros to invent a luxury hotel such that it does not exist in Cognac. The Hotel Chais Monnet which is due to officially open on October 1st, honors this heritage.

A primer from Le Figaro: To the left of the double-revolution staircase that enfolds the cylindrical elevator at the entrance, Angélique Café sets the tone for a place that is dreaming in the hexagonal embassy of know-how and living. On the counter of this tea room in the name of an emblematic plant of the Poitevin swamps, candy jars contain the regressive pleasure of the tastes of our childhood. In the 92 rooms and suites, the decor is of a homogeneous elegance, while sober with a furniture of light wood placed on a parquet and amber fabrics, tobacco, brown, blond, evoking the nuances of cognac.

The minibar is made up of French specialties with retro packaging, such as the French popcorn of the Maison Gramm’s and the crunch with the Fleur de sel and cognac XO. The most interesting are the 52 rooms housed in the cellars. All open on a patio or on a balcony, you can feel the soul of the place. And the most beautiful ones are upstairs: the original beams give them a crazy charm. The CEP is its name, it also houses a spa, an indoor and outdoor swimming pool where you can walk everywhere, a conference room and a cinema. A Jazz Bar so British,the 1838, occupies the old cooperage. But the heart of the hotel beats in the old cathedral of the distillery, the great cellar of the lightning of a huge barrel of wine with the dizzying nine meters under ceiling. The brewery is nestled under a part of the roofs. But where the space has not been truncated, the gourmet restaurant reveals itself as a treasure. The 34 seatings   will open on October 15th. The Hotel Chais Monnet, 5-star luxury discreet, is already a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. Hotel Chais Monnet, 50, Avenue Paul-Firino-Martell, Cognac (Charente dept 16). From 250 euros a night with breakfast. Breakfast at the brasserie from 22€, Gastronomic meals from 59€, tel +33 (0)5.17.223.223. More here: official Chais Monnet Hotel

This is the hotel event of this year, entry in the 8éme arrondissement. We had always known since 1886, the Maison Fauchon, at 16 Place de la Madeleine (and so many times walked by it and shop on way to my work!!!). Here is now, on the other side of the Church de la Madeleine, a hotel Fauchon. Except here, at number 11 in the famous place de la Madeleine, we enter through the little door. The big entry, the one that opens on the reception, is located at 4, Boulevard Malesherbes.

Finely facade and wrought iron balconies, this is one of those splendid Haussmann buildings, typical of the beautiful Parisian districts. The hotel does not occupy one but two six-story buildings, gathered for the occasion, and reconfigured inside eleven levels. The historical architecture houses a resolutely contemporary universe, all of white, black, pink and gilded: the colors reap inside, in the 54 rooms and suites, the walls are systematically white and black floors from the parquet burnt in point of Hungary. While the Pink or Fushia, Candy or Powder and the gilded matt are laid in touches, used for cushions, armchairs, sofas, headboards, sconces, carpet designs… Guests can also choose between two atmospheres: “Powder” and “Rock”, this one more black and white with a bathroom in grey marble and the first more pink including small round armchairs like macaroons with a bathroom in beige marble.

It is the Gourmet Bar, a very nice piece of furniture of a sweet pink not too farting, designed by Sacha Lakic and specially edited by Roche-Bobois for Fauchon. Let’s also point out that half of the rooms have a balcony or a bow window. They all overlook the Place de la Madeleine or the Boulevard Malesherbes.   The upper floors often offer the view of one or more monuments of the capital. But the bathrooms, including those of the suites, are relatively small for a hotel of 5-star rating. Six categories are proposed, from the “classic” Room of 23 m² (from 400 to 1 250 € per night) to the suite “Prestige” of 60 m² (1 250 to 3 000 €). As for the common areas, they consist of a reception, an adjoining library reserved for the hosts, a small spa Carita two cabins of care and Hamman open to the external clientele. and two restaurants: the Jardin des Thés (Garden of teas), under the interior canopy and, superbly, the Grand Café with its pink counter, its bay windows and its terrace, at the corner of the Plaza de la Madeleine and the boulevard Malesherbes. It is open from 7h to 23h. Our favorite goes to the Grand Café, very Parisian, very open and much less intimidating than a palace table. More here:official hotel Fauchon

It’s a new form of conviviality. Chalk slates, high stools, zinc plates and relaxed atmosphere… For a glass and much more affinities. Glorious Paris !

Where we mingle at the bar in marble and mosaic, in a relative comfort with no tables or chairs, but which undoubtedly participates in the energy of the place. And its New!!!  Déviant. 39, rue des Petites-Écuries (10éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 48 24 66 79. Every evenings except Sundays and Mondays . Menu Carte: 20-40 €. A webpage to be built up; Deviant Paris

From the three Avant-Comptoirs of Yves Camdeborde, chef from the Béarn region and small prince of Germain des Prés area , here is my favorite! and a great area to be in too. More smiley than that of the marché Saint-Germain, cuter than that of the de la Mer, located next door, the first front-counter of the name is not explained: it lives! In this kind of greedy den, and that’s why I love it, you have to play elbows, often, raise the tone, sometimes, beg the bread to his neighbor, to steer the tourists astray… In short, quietly blend into the ambiance. L’Avant-Comptoir. 3, carrefour de l’Odéon (6éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 44 27 07 50. Open every day menu carte 20€-40€. More info: L’Avant Comptoir Odéon

Romain Tischenko was the first winner of “Top Chef”, one of the most singular candidates of the culinary crochet. Water sank under the bridges and Roman now sees double on the side of place Sainte-Marthe. Besides his Néobistrot Galopin, he animates this little piece of cellar to eat all that is more family and festive. La Cave à Michel. 36, rue Sainte-Marthe (10éme). Tél. +33 (0)1 42 45 94 47. Open every day except Monday and Tuesday ;menu carte : 20-30€. More info :La Cave Saint Michel

Hurried to acquire this room right next to his Admiral’s Pub, when the latter was started three years ago. Seven seats at the counter, four on the side and a dozen still, a little glued-tight, along the walls. A microlocation but a real identity. La Cave du Paul-Bert. 16, rue Paul-Bert (11éme). Tél. +33 (0)1 58 53 50 92.From Thursdays evenings to Mondays evenings, menu carte 25-35€. More here: La Cave du Paul Bert

For the Parisians, the trattorias of Big Mamma are already part of the classics. East mamma, Ober Mamma, BigLove Caffè, Mamma primi, Pink mamma, Pizzeria Popolare, La Felicità… the restos XXL (3500 m2 and 1000 m2 of terrace for the Felicità, Paris 13éme), with always successful scenery and Italian cuisine that speaks with hands, generous, wheedling, benevolent like..a mamma. A success story continues to be more beautiful with a first opening in the province, in Lille, at the end of September. The future osteria tradizionale will be called La Bellezza and nest at 126 rue Esquermoise , the most popular street in the capital of Flanders. 150 seats, two floors, an opening 7 days a week and dishes and recipes that should be well done. La Bellezza. 126, rue Esquermoise, 59000 Lille. Opening September 29, 2018. More soon in their official webpage ,you heard it first here : Big Mamma La Bellezza at Lille

A neighbour like any other, Philippe Starck lives in Paris 16éme arrondissement , and for a long time exalts the codes of his style with elegance. With a restaurant, a sports club and a pastry shop, the Brach should attract both Parisians and travelers alike. The Evok group (already owner of the Nolinski at the opera and soon of the Sinner in the Marais) had the ambition to transform them into a 5-star (59 rooms and suites, from 500 to 3000€) chic and fashionable, with its vegetable garden on the roof, in a rather indolent neighborhood of the 16éme. You do not enter a hotel but in a place of life. A lounge but no lobby for check-in ,relegated to the first floor (2nd US) . Then a restaurant with large widths, with a long counter distributing a pastry, a bar, the kitchens and a wine cellar. All open on the 130 covered seats room. The club, open to all and accommodating 1000 members (2220€ annual subscription), is equipped with a 22 meters long swimming pool and a heated water pool for yoga classes or aquatic Watsu. It takes at least that to melt the sugars of gluttony! Hotel Brach. 1-7, rue Jean-Richepin (16éme). Tel.+33 (0) 1 44 30 10 00. Opening on September 25, 2018. More info on group webpage here:Evok hotels group Hotel Brach

The soon to be expanded official webpage of Hotel Brach here: official Hotel Brach Paris

There you go something to think about more about Paris , it is really eternal you know! And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

September 19, 2018

Salamanca, the district of Madrid!

So let’s get geographical shall we? Well , is rare that I write about a district or neighborhoods , but I do sometimes if I think they represent the feeling of a city/town. The district of Salamanca in Madrid is one of them, sublime. The good of it is that it is still going strong after so many years.

You get all the feeling of it when you know that the Retiro park faces it and it goes all along the grand promenade of Paseo de la Castellana; chic modern , architecturally stunning Madrid. I like to talk a bit about it here; it could be another off the beaten path trips for many.

Let me give you some random information in brief and on many subjects.  The district of Salamanca, owes its name to its builder, the Malaga born José de Salamanca y Mayol, Marquis of Salamanca, who promoted and erected it in part in the 19C. It has become one of the most important shopping areas in the city and one of the highest living quarters in Europe with the largest shopping area in Madrid, around the streets of Serrano, Claudio Coello and Ortega y Gasset.

 Salamanca is one of the 21 districts of the city of Madrid. It is administratively divided into several neighborhoods or Barrios, these are:

Recoletos , located between the streets of Menéndez Pelayo, Príncipe de Vergara, Ramón de la Cruz, Paseo de la Castellana, Paseo de Recoletos, Alcalá and O’Donnell . Goya  , located between the streets of  O’Donnell, Doctor Esquerdo, Ramón de la Cruz, Príncipe de Vergara and Menéndez Pelayo. Fuente del Berro (Watercress), located between the streets of Doctor Esquerdo, O’Donnell, Avda de la Paz and Alcalá. La Guindalera  located between the streets of Francisco Silvela, Alcalá, Avda de la Paz and Avda. de América. In the Guindalera is included the sub-district popularly known as Parque de las Avenidas , which constitutes the last enlargement of the Guindalera. Lista  located between the streets of Maria de Molina, Francisco Silvela, Ramón de la Cruz and Príncipe de Vergara. Castellana  located between the streets of Paseo de la Castellana, Ramón de la Cruz, Príncipe de Vergara and María de Molina. More here from the city of Madrid on Salamanca:   City of Madrid on Salamanca district

Salamanca district from the tourist office of Madrid in English: Tourist office of Madrid on Salamanca

Within Madrid, its geographical location is defined by the neighboring streets such as from the West, Paseo de la Castellana and Paseo de Recoletos. By the south, Calle de Alcalá, and Calle de O’Donnell.  By the east, Beltway road M-30.  By the north, Calle María de Molina and Avenida de América. The main avenues that structure the district are from west to east: Serrano, Velázquez, Principe de Vergara, Conde de Peñalver and Francisco Silvela. From north to South: María de Molina, Diego de León, Ortega y Gasset , Goya, and O’Donnell. The Plaza del Marqués de Salamanca is a backbone element of the district map and  Calle de Alcalá also represents the ensemble (my old domicile street in Madrid! ).

Some noted sites in the area are the Retiro park(Parque del Buen Retiro) borders the area. There is also the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid, the National Library of Spain, several churches ,and the minaret of the Casa Árabe in Madrid, of neo-Mudejar architecture, brings a touch of exoticism.

A bit of history I like on Salamanca district.

In the Plaza de la Independencia, (independence square or Puerta de Alcala) in front of the Retiro was the bullring of Madrid for 125 years, between 1749 and 1874, year when it was demolished, giving the alternative of bullfighting Madrid to the new bullring of the Fuente del Berro, on the road to Aragon , which in turn was demolished in 1934, and in whose lot rose the primitive sports palace(Palacio de Deportes) building that in 2001 was destroyed by a fire and then rebuilt. The last bullring, the current  Ventas, was also built in this district, next to the Puente de Ventas (bridge). In the South zone of the district of Salamanca there was a railway station Nino Jesus (baby Jesus) where it had its terminus the line of the old railway of Arganda, part of whose plot has been used for the extension of the line 9 of the Metro of Madrid.

Some information on the various public transports around and plenty are

Well, of course, I parked by here now when visiting Madrid at parking Recoletos at Paseo de Recoletos, just off the Cibeles fountain Plaza de Cibeles and straight up is Paseo del Prado. If you want to know more, here is the parking very good:Parking Recoletos

Recoletos Station, located under Paseo de Recoletos, on the western boundary of the district. It is possible to take trains from the Cercanias (suburban) lines C-1, C-2, C-7, C-8 and C-10. The district has the following Metro services: line 2 The stations that provide service are Retiro, Principe de Vergara, Goya, Manuel Becerra and sales.  Line 4 stops at Colón, Serrano, Velázquez, Goya, Lista, Diego de León and Avenida de América.  Line 5 with the stations of Rubén Darío, Núñez de Balboa, Diego de León and Ventas. My line when I lived in Madrid.  Line 6 with the stations Avenida de América, Diego de León, Manuel Becerra and O’Donnell.  Line 7 providing service to Avenida de América and Gregorio Marañón stations. It also provides service to the district of La Guindalera with the Cartagena and Parque de las Avenidas stations.  Line 9 stopping at Avenida de América, Núñez de Balboa and Príncipe de Vergara.  Line 10 does not circulate properly in the district, but it stops at the Gregorio Marañón station, in the northwest corner of it.  The EMT bus network of Madrid, has a total of 64 bus Lines. From a tourist point of view the best are lines 5 15, 20, 27, 28, 52, 61, 115 ,200, N27 night line to Airport and Express airport line 203 from Airport to Atocha passing by Cibeles.

If press, the tourist bus is an alternative and madrid City Tour has a good ride in the Salamanca district, more here: Madrid City bus Tour on Salamanca

The best here is the shopping or the window shopping lol! Nahh we buy in the shopping center on sales days ,good deals. The Milla de Oro (Golden Mile) is located at the intersection of Serrano and Ortega y Gasset streets, owes its nickname to the fact that it brings together on a square mile or km…, the shops of the biggest names of fashion and jeweler, such as Carrera y Carrera , Wempe, Suárez, Brooking, Cartier or the exclusive Bvlgari. More on the shopping from the tourist office of Madrid here: Tourist office of Madrid on shopping in Salamanca

Some nice shopping centers we have enjoyed over the years and they are still there! El Jardin de Serrano (garden of Serrano); more here: El Jardin de Serrano

Another one has been the ABC of Serrano, more here: ABC de Serrano shopping in Salamanca

And my favorite department store, two locations; El Corte Inglés dept store on Goya Street: El Corte Inglés at Goya street

El Corte Inglés at Serrano street

And a surprise nice covered market in chic Salamanca is the Mercado de la Paz at  Calle de Ayala, 28, closest metro Serrano. Very nice indeed in Spanish of course but under puestos por actividad or stands per activity you see all the merchants categories.  More here: Mercado de la Paz

The tourist office of Madrid on Mercado de la Paz here: Tourist office of Madrid on Mercado de la Paz

There you have it a wonderful district area of modern chic Madrid away from the main tourist lines and indeed an off the beaten path area to explore. Hope you enjoy it as we do.

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

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