Archive for February, 2019

February 28, 2019

Saint Louis Church at Darmstadt!

So I take you back to Germany ,its a tour really lol! sorry.  A bit of story telling here. Several years back while working for a multinational French co with a branch in Germany at Darmstadt I needed to visit and did a couple of times. The city was nice and the people very helpful that took me out to see the city and eat out etc. Rolled the clock several years later, my family decided they wanted to vacation in Germany so ok off I went, family votes counts! So ,while road warrior tours of Germany visiting several cities, I decided why not show them the city that i came on business for the them to see. Something of a tradition we do where once gone on business if the city is nice I bring the family later on. So they did and really enjoyed, especially those pretzels lol!

Well we did stop and wrote my blog posts on it, but decided this unique Church of Saint Louis needed a bit more exposure. I think one of the must see in the city of Darmstadt even if not well publicise oh well here I go again on the off the beaten path trail.

St. Louis Church is the main Catholic Church in Darmstadt. Its characteristic dome, is located in a conspicuous place above the city, at the end of the Wilhelminenstraße street.The Saint Louis Church was built between 1822 and 1827 as the first Catholic Church of Hesse-Darmstadt since the Reformation. The model was the classical construction of the pantheon of Rome. The construction site required a great deal of money for Grand Duke Louis I of Hesse. The building was bombed in 1944. This destroyed its foundations; its reconstruction took place in 1950. The wood of the old construction of the dome was replaced by a steel structure. The exterior decoration was completed in 1994, and that renovation of the interior in 2005. There was a new organ as well in 2005.


On February 19, 1827, the fifteenth anniversary of Grand Duke Louis I’s marriage to Princess Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt, five years after the start of the building, the new Church was consecrated. In honor of the Grand Duke, it was named after Saint Louis of France. The Pantheon of Rome was taken as a model for this classicist construction with a total reduction of one fifth. The 35 meters high central plant consists of a cylinder with a diameter of 43 meters with a semi-spherical top. The entrance emphasizes the colossal dimensions with a gable. A circular line of plaster, insistent on a high basement, divides the façade, which is almost completely devoid of openings. The capitals of the pilasters hold a high double-arm beams, ending in a band decorated with roll motifs. The dome, which rests on an inner crown of 28 Corinthian columns covered with imitation marble, has a diameter of 33 meters. With its 33.5 m opening was the largest wooden dome in Germany. Simple oak beams and double radial rings absorbed the circular pressure and the tensive forces of the dome and ensured the spatial tightness. The natural light only descends through a circular opening nine meters wide on the dome, screened by a Trinitarian window, symbolizing the illuminating intrusion of the divine in the world. In the plastic representation, the blue of the Divine Eye (Father) joins with the blue of the dome, the Red of the Cross (Son) with the red of the roundabout, and the Yellow of the Dove (Holy Spirit) with the tapered fields of the dome.

A more general restructuring took place between 1909 and 1910. On the main altar there is a 4 meters long sandstone slab and a mosaic angel on the back wall. They are both works of the late 20C and the mosaic is from 1960. The chromatic re-elaboration with intense red and blue on the dome and on the walls became the dominant stylistic figure after 2005. Noteworthy are the stations of the Via Crucis made in 1905.

Some Catholic members of the House of Hesse-Darmstadt are buried in the Church of St. Louis: Grand Duchess Matilde ,1862 on the right and Prince Frederick of Hesse-Darmstadt , 1867 on the left.

In 2005 the new altar island, surrounded by a communion bench, whose canteen rests on a Jewish menorah. The seven arms of that candlestick recall the seven sacraments that also appear on the back of the choir’s benches. The altar is still wrapped in twelve embossed metallic symbols, written in the marble floor, representing the twelve Tribes of Israel. There is also a match with the twelve squares of the altar, in which the names of the Apostles are engraved. At the apex is the Cross done in 2007

In 1823 the first organ with 34 registers came in. The instrument was damaged in 1944, and was replaced in 1955 with an organ with two keyboards and 20 registers. In 2005, a new one was made at 43 registers in a Romanesque French style.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Saint Louis Church site in German

Tourist office of Darmstadt on heritage in English

City of Darmstadt on heritage in English

There hope you have enjoyed this off the beaten path city and Church of Saint Louis in Germany. Oh Darmstadt is very close to Frankfurt, and even closer to the main airport  Flughafen where I landed the first time and went by rental car to Darmstadt on the A5 highway. The family visits were done from south of Trier Germany.

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

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February 28, 2019

Other Churches of Brussels!!!

So I am moving up again to my neighbor Belgium, many times here taken advantange of family near the Belgian border. I have several posts on one of my favorite cities in my blog, but feel obligated again to tell you a bit more of its most interesting monuments.

What better way to do this then by showcasing several Churches of historical and architectural significance in the city of Brussels and nearby Schaerbeek. Therefore here is a bit more on these wonderful buildings!

The Royal Church of St. Mary is on the Boulevard de la Reine in Schaerbeek, a suburn of Brussels. Built in the 19C in the Romano-Byzantine style, the church is located on the Royal Route leading from the royal residence of Laeken to the royal palace in Brussels. Officially dedicated to Notre-Dame de l’Assomption ,she is popularly associated with Louise-Marie d’Orléans, the first queen of the Belgians, earning her the qualifier Royal.

Further along, with the Rue des Palais and the Rue de la Reine, a large royal route is created linking the royal residence of Laeken to the royal Palace of Brussels. On the plan, at the beginning of the Rue des Palais, a parcel of land is destined for the construction of a church. The work site opened 1846. There is a statue of Notre-Dame in the main façade and three bells,  Marie, Joseph and Salvator are installed in 1866. The Way of the Cross is placed during Lent 1868. The black granite baptistery takes its place in 1873. The definitive completion of the work is officially done in 1888. On October 14, 1902, On the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Church is solemnly consecrated.

From 1887 the stained glass windows are installed. In 1894, Confessionals are done. In 1899, a new bell which will be removed by the Nazis occupier in 1943. Throughout the 20C the Church will be embellished with suitable furniture, especially in secondary chapels. Thus the benches of Communion done in 1905) and the organs in 1907. The Way of the Cross is blessed in 1908. But above all, the Sanctuary is built from 1900. A carved copper altar in a Romano-Mosan style replaces the primitive altar.

The degradation is such that, in 1966, the Royal Church of St. Mary is closed to the public because it is considered too dangerous! The liturgical offices are celebrated in its Crypt. In 1982, the complete restoration work of the historic monument began. They’ll last 14 years. Facade, turrets, pinnacle, porch, cornices; everything is inspected and restored. All the stained glass windows and the bell tower covering its three bells as well. Inside large surfaces of ceilings and the stuccos that are restored. The Royal Church of St Mary is reopened to the public in 1996.

City of Schaerbeek on Royal Church of St Mary

YELP favorite site on reviews on the Royal Church of St Mary


The Church of Notre-Dame des Victoires at Sablon, is located on the edge of the Sablon. It was not until the 18C, more precisely in May 1716, that a written record of the name Notre-Dame des Victoires was found, which was already at that time in use by the people, because one believed, wrongly, that it had been founded to celebrate the victory of Duke John I at the Battle of Worringen. On the other hand the reference to the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 is well established.

The arrival in 1348 of a miraculous Virgin whose cult and procession called Ommegang were soon to supplant the devotion and procession to Saint Michael was to give this Church a major role in the social life of Brussels. The progression of this nearly century-long workyard is poorly known, due to the disappearance of the crossbow archives. The Choir was completed in 1435, as evidenced by mural paintings bearing this date. The north transept was probably completed around 1450, and the south transept and the first five bays of the nave were already done. It had built two chapels: the Chapel of St. Ursula north of the Choir done 1651-1676, and the Chapel of Saint Marcou south of the choir,1690.

Under the French revolution , the Church of Notre-Dame des Victoires was spared the anti-religious zeal of the revolutionaries, its priest having agreed to take an oath to the Republic. It was nevertheless closed for a few years, then returned to the cult under Napoleon I, as a branch of the Church of Notre-Dame de la Chapelle. The Chorus is illuminated by eleven lancets of some fourteen meters high separated by fibrous pillars. The Choir is framed by two baroque chapels. In the north the Chapel of St. Ursula is the sepulchral Chapel of the Tour and Taxis, the general postmasters from the 16C. The sponsor’s funerary monument a white marble allegorical group consisting of virtue, time and fame, accompanied by a group of Angels, stands out on the black background. The second part is dominated by a statue of St. Ursula, around two genies symbolizing death and life; in niches an allegory of truth and an allegory of hope. Under the chapel is the family vault of the Tour and Taxis, during its opening in 1928, the bones and coffins of nineteen members of the family were found, disturbed during the French revolution. They were then brought together in a single sarcophagus. To the south, the Chapel of Saint Marcou, which is during that of Saint Ursula, was also commissioned by the Tour and Taxis. His prescription is the same; the entrance gate is topped by a statue of Saint Marcou accompanied by the date 1690. The interior in faux marble color is decorated with various statues. The canopies above these two chapels come from fragments of ancient stained glass, the arms of the transept are decorated with two registers of arches surmounted by a frieze of cabbage leaves, dated 1545. The nave has a central ship flanked by four collateral. It is divided into seven bays; the five spans originally planned and two additional bays built at the beginning of the 16C. The pulpit of the Truth in Baroque style was made in 1697 for the now gone Augustinian church. It is decorated with medallions of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Virgin and Saint Thomas of Villeneuve. It is based on the sculptures symbolizing the four evangelists: the Angel, the Eagle, the Ox and the lion. In the north brace of the transept a jacquemart of the 15C rings the hours.

Brussels site on the Church Notre Dame

YELP reviews on the Church of Notre Dame


The Church of Saint-Jacques-sur-Coudenberg, built between 1776 and 1787, is part of a set of nine neo-classical buildings that form the perimeter of the Place Royale in Brussels.  The Church is  Royal parish and Cathedral of the diocese to the Belgian Armed Forces.   It succeeds two neighboring places of worship; the Castrale Chapel of the Palais du Coudenberg and the Church of the Abbey of Coudenberg, both demolished for the occasion. The Church of  Saint-Jacques (St James) is the third known church in Brussels, after Saint-Géry (destroyed at  the French revolution) and Saint-Michel (now the Cathedral Saints-Michel-et-Gudule). It is possible that Saint-Jacques originated as a castrale chapel of the first castle built around 1100 by the counts of Louvain on the Coudenberg, the highest hill on the right bank of the Senne river that crossed the  town. Most probably St. James (St Jacques) was a adjacent church at a hospice for pilgrims from Santiago de Compostela next to the castle, which would explain its title of St. James. The presence of a church on the Coudenberg is attested in the 12C. The name of its servants is known from 1121.

In 1183 the Brabant was erected in the Duchy, and the Coudenberg became the habitual residence of the Dukes. During the construction of the first precinct of Brussels in the 13C, the Church, the hospice (now Prévôté) and its gardens, which extend to the present  rue Brederode  are found intra muros. In remembrance of his parents, the Emperor Charles V built, in extension of the Aula Magna, a gothic chapel which became the new Chapel Castrale in place of the Church of the Prévôté. In 1774, Prince Charles-Alexandre de Lorraine proposed to transform the square  into a royal square. As neither the old Gothic-style castle Chapel, nor the ruins of the abbey church, presumably in Romanesque style, were compatible with the neoclassical taste of the late 18C, they were demolished and replaced by the Church of St Jacques in a Neoclassical style  that we know today.

For the Church of St Jacques, the work was completed in 11 years (from 1776 to 1787). The interior of the Church is built between 1785 and 1786. In 1849,it replaced the old bell tower with an imperial wooden dome tower with four bells and, in 1851, decorates the pediment of an original fresco of the Virgin consoling the afflicted. In neoclassical style, the interior of the Church is united, sober and solemn. Outside, the façade evokes, with its triangular pediment and its six Corinthian columns, the appearance of a Greco-Roman temple. Two large statues frame the porch, king David and Moses. The three statues of the pediment, Saint James (in the center) with Saint Andre (to his right) and Saint John (to his left). After the annexation, on 1 October 1795, of the Austrian Netherlands by the first French Republic(revolution), the Church of St Jacques became, for a period of time, a temple of reason before being rendered, by the signing of the Concordat of 1801, to the Catholic cult in 1802.

Other religious events concerning the Belgian royal family were celebrated in Saint-Jacques-sur-Coudenberg Church, such as the funeral of Charles of Belgium 1983 and King Leopold III 1983 or the eulogy mass of King Baudouin 1993. Several royal children received baptism such as Leopold II in 1835, Albert I in 1875, Leopold III in 1901, Charles in 1903, Marie-José in 1906, Josephine-Charlotte in 1927, Baudouin in 1930, Philippe in 1960 and Astrid in 1962. In 1978, the Church of St Jacques was entrusted to the Apostolic Vicariate by the Belgian armed forces. In 1986, this vicariate became the Diocese of the Armed Forces and the Church of St. James (St Jacques) its Cathedral. The titular bishop of this diocese is the Primate of Belgium, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels.

Military parish of St Jacques Church

YELP reviews on the Church of St Jacques


The present St. Catherine’s Church was built on the site of a basin of the old Port of Brussels between 1854 and 1874. Opened in St. Catherine’s Square, it replaced an ancient building dating back to the 15C. It was finally consecrated to the cult in 1874. It is the only religious building built in the Pentagon (historical center of Brussels) since the end of the old regime. The Italian campanile adjoining the entrance to the Church of St. Catherine is, in fact, the Baroque steeple that lined the choir of the old church demolished in 1893.

Inspired by 16C French churches, such as the Saint-Eustache Church near the Halles of Paris; the Sainte-Catherine Church presents a hybrid architecture, between Gothic forms and Baroque decoration. The size and sobriety of the interior of the Church is reinforced by the white coating that covers it. It presents a homogeneous furniture, designed in Neo-Renaissance style, to which were added the main works of the old church, such as the washbasin, the cupboards of the sacristy. The pulpit of truth would come from the Cathedral Saint-Rombaut de Malines. By 2014, following a decision by the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, the Church of St Catherine in Brussels was reopened to worship and placed under the responsibility of 4 young priests of the Brotherhood of the Holy Apostles.

Official site St Catherine Church

YELP reviews on St Catherine Church


There you a bit long even if condensed a lot just to give you a better overview of these magnificent Other Churches that are worth a visit while in Brussels. Hope you enjoy the tour!

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

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February 28, 2019

Other Churches of Valencia! Spain of course!!

And why not come down the Mediterranean coast to a lovely town often overlook for the bigger two others but worth a detour indeed.  I have come since teens years as my aunt used to lived just south of it at El Saler. Then visited with the family and always nice souvenirs of our visits.  I have written several posts on it before but feel deserves to tell you about the other Churches architecture and historical jewels of Valencia, capital of Comunitat Valenciana in my beloved Spain. This is their tourist portal here on the region: Tourism in the Comunitat Valenciana Valencia Spain

Therefore, let me tell you a bit more on some of the other wonderful other Churches of Valencia.

The Church of San Juan de la Cruz, formerly Parish Church of San Andrés, located in Calle Poeta Querol N º 6 in the city of Valencia, was one of the first to be founded after the conquest of Jaime I of Aragon, on an old mosque. Its current configuration date, however, between 1602 and 1615 .

It is a single-nave church with chapels between the buttresses and polygonal headboard. In its facade the decorative elements are concentrated especially on the door, while the rest is a smooth brick wall on a stone plinth topped by a balustrade with balls. At the sides were opened two small chapels one of whose acropolis is still visible today. The cover is already from the end of the 17C and is notable for the use of spiral columns and side corbels on which two female figures seem to slide. The upper Aedicule was presided over by a statue of St. Andrew of which today only the traces of its cross with its characteristic shape of blade remain.

The highlight is, however, the rococo decoration of the interior, done in the second half of the 18C. Made in stucco, but worked with exceptional quality, the reloaded full forms of angels, fabrics and vegetation seem to climb the walls.

City of Valencia on the Church of San Juan de la Cruz


The Church of San Martín Obispo and San Antonio Abad, located in Calle San Vicente 11 martyr of the city of Valencia , was built in the 14C with reforms of the later centuries 15-16-17C being its styles Gothic Valencian and Baroque , retracing its antiquity to the time of the conquest of the city of Valencia by the troops of Jaime I, the Conqueror. It would not be until the year 1902, when the temple was definitively consecrated with the complete dedication of San Martín Obispo and San Antonio Abad. Its current design, with subsequent extensions and reconstructions, corresponds to the works of 1372 to 1401, in which it was used for the enlargement of the temple the space occupied by an old building,   graciously given to the parish by the General Council of the City in 1372.

The Gothic construction presents a type of longitudinal plant, of a single nave, without cruising, with the peculiarity of its irregularity, in trapezoidal form, because only the wall of the gospel parallels the axis of the temple, being at an angle the western and southern one that it was adapted the layout of the streets that border them, especially to the west, Calle San Vicente, whose antiquity exceeds that of the church, being an old Roman way on the side where the parish building appears.

City of Valencia on the Church San Martin Obispo


The Church of Santa Catalina the Martyr is one of the Gothic temples of the city of Valencia. It was erected in the Cathedral district, in the current Plaza Lope de Vega, on a previous mosque. In the 13C it acquired the rank of parish. It consists of three naves, with lateral buttresses, between which the chapels were installed, and girolas. Its baroque tower is very emblematic. In the 16C the Church was covered with classicist decoration to the Renaissance taste. After a awesome fire suffered in 1548, it was partially rebuilt. In 1785, following the prevailing fashion, it was given a baroque look.

The belfry was built between 1688 and 1705 . Masterpiece of the Valencian Baroque, is of hexagonal plant and its elevation is divided into four floors separated by mouldings, plus the body of bells and the upper crown. In its origin it was called Bells Salomonic by the helical columns that adorn that high part. It also stands out for the highlights as pilasters that adorn its angles and the decoration of its windows, where the decorative style of the ephemeral Baroque was moved with mastery. It reaches 56 meters high. The bells melted in London in 1729 and later, in 1914, the clock was added. During the restoration carried out in 2012, when going to repair the clock they realized that the machinery was relatively modern and had no value, so it was decided to remove it and replace the old bell that had been removed in 1902.

In 1936 the Church Santa Catalina the Martyr was assaulted by Republican militiamen and burned, demolished it completely. In the 1950’s works of Repristina were carried out, to give back its original gothic physiognomy, for which it was stripped to the walls of the remains of baroque and neoclassical decoration. It is a temple of Eucharistic reparation for more than 50 years, ruled by the Brotherhood of Diocesan operative priests. It has a nice museum inside.

Tourist office of Valencia on Santa Catalina the Martyr


The parish Church of San Nicolás de Bari and San Pedro martyr is a parish church located in Calle Caballeros No. 35, in the historical center, specifically between the neighborhoods of La Seu, El Carme and El Mercat. It is one of the best examples of coexistence of a 15C Gothic Church with a spectacular 17C baroque decor. After its restoration in 2016 it is popularly known as the Valencian Sistine Chapel. It has its usual worship schedule and also a timetable for sightseeing or cultural visits. The temple is located next to the Calle Caballeros, which was the old Decumano of the Valentia Edetanorum founded by the Romans in the year 138 BC, and in the vicinity of the Plaza de San Nicolás have been found funerary remains belonging to an ancient Roman temple. Then it was briefly a temple Paleocristian- Visigoth until the arrival of the Muslims in the 8C, when in its place a mosque was erected towards the east, towards Mecca. With the conquest of Valencia by King Jaime I of Aragon in 1238 this ancient mosque was consecrated as a Christian parish and donated to the Order of preachers or Dominicans, who baptized it in honor of St. Nicholas of Bari. Years later the same order added another titular Saint to the parish, St. Pedro el Martyr, who was the first martyr of the Dominican Order.

It was in the 15C when the temple was rebuilt and expanded acquiring its current physiognomy of the Valencian Gothic with a single nave, polygonal apse and six bays, in which there are so many vaults of simple crossing and six chapels to each side located between the buttresses of the nave’s pointed arches. Another gothic element that is preserved is the outer cover at the foot of the temple, built in the second half of the 15C, with archivolts in pointed arches, with a Baroque relief added later in the tympanum and with a meat dish carved in the key alluding to a miracle of St. Nicholas of Bari. On this cover there is a large neo-góthic rosette inspired by the star of David, which was an extension of the original Gothic rosette that had in the same place but smaller dimensions.

To the right of this cover is the only Chapel outside the temple, closed with a gate and call of the Christ of the Fossar, since in this place was the old parish cemetery before its 15C Gothic enlargement.   The taste for Baroque decoration opens its way inside the Christian temples within the atmosphere of the Reformation and the idea of modernizing the Gothic. For this reason at the end of the 17C, between 1690 and 1693, the Baroque recovered the interior with engravings, stuccoes and reliefs that were rather sculptures, like the plaster putti sculpted on each pilaster. It was, also the work of the arches of half point on the chapels that hide the original gothic pointed arches. The south facade, which falls to the pedestrian Plaza de San Nicolás, is all neo-Gothic style due to the urban renovation of the Plaza de San Nicolás promoted by the city/town hall in the 19C.

To the left of its cover is a ceramic panel of 1957 in memory of the premonition that the Dominican Valencian San Vicente Ferrer ( and can preaching in my current area of Morbihan and is buried in the Cathedral St Peter in Vannes! )did to a young Alfonso de Borja, predicting that someday the young man would be named Pope, as it happened years later as Pope Callixtus III (He was also responsible for the retrial of Joan of Arc  that saw her vindicated) . Visits are only accessed by the door located in Calle Caballeros, No 35, which leads to a hallway through which access to the interior of the temple as cultural or tourist visits are not allowed on Mondays or during the worship hours. They can be made from Tuesday to Friday from 10h30 to 19h30, Saturdays from 10h30 to 18h30   and Sundays from 13h to 20h. The timetables may undergo modifications for specific liturgical celebrations, so it is recommended to consult the agenda of the Church.

Official site of San Nicolas of Valencia

Tourist office of Valencia on Church San Nicolas de Bari, San Pedro el Martyr

City of Valencia on Church San Nicolas de Bari


The Church of Santo Tomás and San Felipe Neri is located in the Plaza of San Vicente Ferrer and is a temple built in the 18C in Baroque style. This Church is also called the congregation’s Church, because it was part of the convent house erected by the congregation of the Oratory of San Felipe Neri on the former parish of St. Thomas. After the disentitlement the rest of the convent complex was demolished and only the temple remained. The Church was built between 1727 and 1736 , and was inspired by Baroque models of Rome, recognizable especially in the broad façade. Constructed of red brick with elements of stone , it follows the form of the Roman Church of the Gesu and consists of two bodies: a wider inferior one crowned by a entablature and with a lowered arch on the door, and another more narrow upper , which corresponds only to the central nave, is topped by a triangular pediment and has two large volutes on its sides. Pilasters, corbels and statues compose a very classical image that is completed with the bell tower and its curious eighteenth sundial. If we enter, we will observe a Latin cross style temple, with a short nave covered with a barrel vault with lunettes between side chapels crowned by small domes. It also has a large transept on which stands a large dome and contains rich pictorial backgrounds.

City of Valencia on the Church San Tomàs Apostol and San Felipe Neri


SO there you go a small tour of some of the nice monument Churches of Valencia a very nice city to walk as well, beautiful architecture is all around and history to boot. We always have come here by car, the most scenic route. Therefore, hope you have enjoyed the Other Churches of Valencia.

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




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February 27, 2019

The Basel on transports in Switzerland!

So I have talk a lot of my road warrior campaigns in Europe and elsewhere, as I love the freedom of the road. Not withstanding folks think that all I do is put the pedal to the metal and drive around. Well nothing of the truth if you live in Europe lol! I have taken my faire share of trains, tramways, metros, buses, velib bikes, and especially the best walks on many cities of Europe.

One city that comes to mind for its extensive network of trains, and tramways where everything runs smooth is Basel in Switzerland. I have several posts on it in my blog, my trips there have been on the business side of things. However, I like to tell you a bit on the Basel transport choices.

My trips started always from the Gare de Lyon on the TGV Lyria to Basel. I arrived in Basel train station, which is a beautiful building in city center, and the hotel was just across it, nice lively place lots of people out which is always good.

A bit overall on Basel can be resume into this.  Basel, its the third most populous city in Switzerland ,after Zürich and Geneva, and the capital of the canton of Basel-Ville. The Basel agglomeration is bilingual ,German and French, and Tri-National since it includes the towns of Saint-Louist Huningue, in Alsace, and Weil am Rhein and Lörrach in Baden-Württemberg. The urban area of Basel is called Eurodistrict of Basel. Basel is 70 km north of Bern, 75 km north-west of Zurich, bordering St. Louis, 27 km south of Mulhouse, 60 km south of Colmar and 115 km south of Strasbourg. The famous university of Basel founded in 1460, the first Swiss university , frequented over the centuries by Erasmus of Rotterdam, Paracelse, Daniel Bernoulli, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jaspers, Nobel laureate Tadeusz Reichstein or the philosopher Jeanne Hersch.

What astound me the most was its intricate transportation network where it is all very punctual and clean. A bit expensive but so is everything with the Swiss… However, the roads are excellent. I have come here by train and used the public transportation but will mention about the road warrior options as would be nice to try it in the future.

It has 4 bridges crossing the Rhine and Birsig rivers. The best known is the Mittlere Brücke, Central. The two most traffic bridges are the Dreirosenbrücke, consisting of two superimposed roads, and the Schwarzwaldbrücke, consisting of a motorway part and a road part. On the Swiss side, you have the A3 highway towards Zurich and Coire, the A2 towards Lucerne, Chiasso and Milan. This highway has a motorway junction south of Basel on the cantonal Road 1 or main road 18 in the direction of Delémont. On the German side, you have the A5 in the direction of Freiburg im Breisgau and Frankfurt. This German highway has a motorway junction north of Basel on the A98 in the direction of Rheinfelden (Baden) in Germany and Rheinfelden (Aargau) in Switzerland and then joins the A3 mentioned above. The latter and short section therefore indirectly corresponds to a motorway bypass of the city of Basel via Germany. On the French side, you have the A35 (this one I rode on it indeed)  in the direction of Mulhouse, Colmar and Strasbourg.

Basel is served by the international Airport of Basel-Mulhouse-Fribourg, also known by its trade name, Euroairport . It has the peculiarity of being located in binational territory, both Swiss and French. Just for info

The city of Basel has five train stations, three of which are served by several international lines. The Basel CFF train station is connected to the SBB/CFF/FFS network and is served by the TGV and ICE . The  Swiss Basel SBB , and French Bâle SNCF stations are actually in the same complex, separated by Customs and Immigration facilities.   Basel SNCF railway station is served by the French TER trains. The German train station of Baden is part of the DB Network and is served by the DB Regio and the ICE. Basel Badischer Bahnhof is on the opposite side of the city.   In addition to these three major train stations, the city has two other stops served by various regional trains: Basel St-Jean in the direction of Saint-Louis and Mulhouse and Basel-Dreispitz in the direction of Delémont and Porrentruy. More here: SBB Basel train station




The city of Basel has a dense network of urban and suburban tramways. The first, green-colored, are operated by the company BVB (Basler Verkehrsbetriebe: Public transport Basel); The latter, yellow to red strip, belong to the BLT (Baselland-Transport: transport of Basel-Country, the other half-canton, with that of Basel city).

Today, the 8 urban lines of the BVB and the four suburban routes of the BLT with the four lines of the BLT (lines 10, 11, E11 and 17) also traverse the city by way of the BVB and are therefore urban tramways. Line 10 of the BLT serves the French village of Leymen. The station itself is in French territory and when one leaves the station of Ettingen you can see a sign announcing that you leave Germany, so you go for a few minutes on French soil. The terminus, Rodersdorf, is again in Swiss territory. I was very impressed by the tramways all over the city huge quantity of them, and very clean easy to take. More on them in German (more info) here: BVB tramway schedule in German


basel gare walking out to city oct13

Some further webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Basel on getting around and in

Tourist office of Basel on getting around and in

It is an interesting city and one that needs more visits to fully enjoy it. Hope you enjoy the post on transports in Basel, and can discuss your travels there with me. I now have friends working there and who knows a escape is in order ::)

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



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February 27, 2019

Some news from France, CCXXII

So back to the latest news from my belle France. All under a wonderful sunshine of 18C lovely in my Breton woods!!! By Paris, is the same!  Let me be a bit different this time as France is a whole country with all kinds of issues like many others but seldom spoken by visitors seeking the glamour of my adopted country.

Ok so can never always tell you the nicest things about Paris, France ,I am aware of it all been citizen/resident of many countries and many large cities. Paris has its down side too, just be aware when visiting.

The number of deaths on the roads of metropolitan France increased by 3.9% in January 2019. 238 people were killed, nine more than in January 2018, Wednesday announced Securité Routiére (official road safety organism). This increase in agglomeration(cities) and on highways, comes after the announcement of a historical decline in  2018, with 3 503 killed (Hexagone and overseas). The results that had led Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, ardent defender of the 80 km/h limitation that it is legitimate to discuss this measure, in the context of the great national debate. Of course, speed is not the main issue, bad road conditions, traffic circles, priority on the right, etc are the issues but they do not gather money like a speeding ticket lol!!!

Looking more closely at the surveys made available by Airparif (the body for Air quality control in île de France region), it was notice that the air has been described as Bad already four days since January 1, 2019 compared to three over the whole of last year ! Of the four days with a bad index in 2019, three have been found since February 12 , two at the top of the pollution peak of  February 21 and 22. The levels of particle concentrations have also justified the establishment of an alternating circulation in Paris from today February 27. Charles Karimi, a forecaster at Airparif, explained that without wind or rain, these discharges of particles, mainly due to road traffic and residential heating, etc., remain in the atmosphere and cannot escape because of the very cold air that creates a kind of bell cover over the Ile-de-France region. This is more like the factories around Paris, the overcrowding with no park and ride parking’s, public transport that is still not enough for the population , and the building heating yes in Paris, all these a lot more than simply road traffic which has been there since day 1.

107 homicides in Ile-de-France region in 2018, twenty less than the previous year! This is one of the positive developments in the numerical balance of delinquency delivered by the Ministry of the Interior in its data state 4001. The number of armed robberies decreases in the capital. A significant decrease of almost 9% over one year and even half -55% over 5 years which reflects a fairly general trend in Ile-de-France, except perhaps in Seine-Saint-Denis 93 where the number of robberies of this type has fallen only 2.62% since 2013. On the other hand, the number of sexual assaults is progressing throughout the Ile-de-France and the Oise. They increased by 25% compared to the previous year in Paris and in the Hauts-de-Seine, in the latter department, they even almost doubled + 90%! over five years, between 2013 and 2018. So even if Paris by major city standards is still a safe city, common sense should prevail at nights by all, but especially women.

In the ligher things of my belle France, there are as always some nice developments to tell you.

In the spring of 2020, this 14 000 m2 operation overlooks the Parc des Expositions (fairgrounds). It will feed the restaurants of the site and the inhabitants of the area. On the heights of a building under construction, to the southeast of the exhibition center of the Porte de Versailles (15éme), a landscape echoes the ephemeral largest farm of France. It is here, at the top of the future Pavilion 6, that the largest urban farm on the roof of the world will be created.  It will be complemented in the spring of 2020, with the delivery of the new hall and the two hotels under construction, a Mama Shelter and a Novotel of 440 rooms in total. More than a thousand fruits and vegetables of about thirty different species will be pampered each day, in season, by some twenty gardeners. The production will feed the restaurants of the exhibition center, starting with the le Perchoir, which already is present on several Parisian rooftops, which is set on the panoramic terrace of the new hall. More on the parc des exposition and the Salon de l ’Agriculture going on now:

And on the farm press release in French here:

Le musée de la Grande Guerre du Pays de Meaux (Seine-et-Marne 77) or The Museum of the Great War of the country of Meaux. Welcomes comics authors (BD) interested in the 14-18 period. The opportunity to meet them and to visit this great museum for free!! Great event indeed and wonderful museum. More here:

Ski, snowboard and curling trails give a winter sports air to the One Nation shopping center, in Clayes-sous-Bois (Yvelines 78). You can ski there every day until Sunday, March 10, 2019. And it’s free.The mall info here:

Indeed, between February 27 and March 3, 1969 took place the legendary move of the halles of Paris to Rungis: 20 000 people, 1 000 wholesale companies, 10 000 m3 of equipment, 5 000 tons of goods left Paris for the south of the capital where a new blazing market , installed on 4.2 km, was waiting for them . This is the Rungis market today one of the biggest in the world, celebrating 50th anniversary!.

The two cabins of the Montmartre funicular are as new! After three long years of work, the famous 18C funicular railway was completely renovated. 25 years after its operation in its current form, the new funicular, frequented by more than 4000 people per hour, announces its great comeback! The modern cockpit will undoubtedly appeal to travelers: New benches, new floor, LED lighting, more dynamic information screen and a stroke of paint on the outside. The renovations taking place every ten years, the next is planned for 2027 and 2028. You have time! More in tourist office of Paris:

The official tourist office of Montmartre!

The Paris Music Festival is back! And with it, three days of celebration, music and love with a ton of concerts at a very sweet price, at all in the craziest places of the capital. A lovable program awaits you for this new edition, with a beautiful headliner, such as one named Bertrand Burgalat, talented musician and patron of the label Tricatel, who will perform at the Musée des Arts et Métiers (Museum of Arts and Crafts). You will also find Zombie Zombies on stage with a choir of teenagers, Bashar Mar-Khalifé in solo piano with Faraj Suleiman in the first part, a tribute to Rachid Taha. But also the wonderful Hugh Coltman, Apple, Sage, Ignatus, Louis Aguilar, Gael Faure, Barbara Carlotti, Silly Boy Blue or even Zaza Fournier. This year you have an appointment in places such as the American Cathedral, the College of the Bernardin, the archaeological crypt of the Ile de la Cité, the Hôtel de Lauzun, the Museum of Arts Deco or the Eugène Delacroix Museum. With a single rate of 10€ per concert, no more, no less. From March 14 to 16 2019. More here:

The brand new Institut Français de la Mode (French Institute of Fashion) or IFM Paris. This Parisian fashion school was created by the merger of the French Institute of Fashion and the School of the Trade Union Chamber of Haute Couture (ECSCP). The Bachelor’s registration is open for the beginning of the 2019. A Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design, a three-year course, taught in French and English, at 13 000 euros per year for EU nationals, 19 000 euros for all others. It will teach the anatomy, drawing, cutting, patronage, creation of images, staging, but also the industrial and economic reality of fashion. The creation of a collection of 6 to 8 silhouettes accessorized is to be carried out in the last year. More here:

Cannes and its Croisette is in fashion! again!   It is offering itself a big facelift. The old bathing establishments are going to be demolished to give way to harmonized dismantling structures. The mayor, David Lisnard, decided to launch an international competition in 2019 to entrust architects and landscapers with the requalification of public spaces. The main asset of the Croisette is their village sides, where you can do everything on foot, go from hotel to beach, shopping, join the Palais des Festivals. Nowhere else in France, even in Paris, we find on less than 3 km such a concentration of luxury shops with some sixty brands which, since 2016, can open on Sundays or in the evening with a golden square registered in the perimeter of the International tourist area. Since 2009, the Groupe Barriére has dedicated 120 million euros to its two flagships, the Majestic and the Gray of Albion hotels, including the construction of a new wing for the Majestic housing 42 suites and 2 penthouses. The Martinez completed in 2018 a construction site of 150 million euros. The Intercontinental Carlton, (owned by Qatari Katara Hospitality Fund now under my management accounting wise once!), has undertaken extension work (more than 13,000 m2) and modernization that should be completed in 2021 with an estimated investment of more than 250 million euros. Finally, the JW Marriott Hotel (own by groupe Jesta), by 2020, will offer 2,500 m2 of new commercial areas and a renewed hotel offer on 7,800 m2. Amount of expenditure, about 32 million euros. Indeed a total facelift of an already glorious boulevard de la Croisette of Cannes!! More on it here:

There you go, many things still to do and common sense will prevail, I never had any problems whatsoever here nor my family. Other than some speeding tickets lol!! but now down to 11 points out of maximum 12, okeerokee!

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


February 27, 2019

Place d’Armes , Luxembourg!

So bringing you back a bit east of France and a neighbor, this is lovely Luxembourg. One of the smallest countries in Europe and one of my favorite places to visit. If you read my blog, you will know why. We have been coming here for many years and even just to have lunch!

One of our must stop is the Place d’Armes in city center of the upper town of Luxembourg city. We always come by car so parking is no problem at all by the Place du Théatre and then we just walk all over, grand!  Parking du Théatre :

But let’s get into the details of this wonderful small square. The Place d’Armes , local Luxembourgish language they say Plëss or Plëss Arem is a wonderful square in one of our favorites cities of Europe in Luxembourg. It is located in the center of the old Town in the district of the Ville-Haute (upper town) and is an attractive point for the local people and visitors. Located generally in the center of a fortification, a place of arms is the gathering place of a small troop and a central space hosting the important ceremonies of the military life.


A bit of history I like

After a huge fire in 1554 destroyed a large part of the Ville Haute (upper town), plans were made to lay out a square in the center of the fortified town. The Place d’Armes created under the Spanish occupation (the first of 1506-1684, followed by a second period of 1697-1713), the Place d’Armes corresponds to the square center of a district arranged according to a grid plan. Knowing that the capital has undergone phases of extension and creation of various districts in connection with the different periods of occupation (France, Prussia, Austria, Spain), this place constitutes the heart of the old town in terms of localization.  In 1671, the Spanish built a slightly smaller square at the same location. It became known as the Place d’Armes as it was used as a parade ground for the garrison. Under French king Louis XIV, it was paved with flagstones and bordered with lime trees.

On this square, on 10 September 1944 the people of Luxembourg warmly welcomed its liberators, the valiant soldiers of the US 5th Armored Division and their Royal Highnesses Prince Felix of Luxembourg and Prince John hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

A bit more on the description of this wonderful small square we have come to love over the years.

The Place d’Armes square is surrounded by numerous cafés and restaurants, all with pavement terraces in the summer months. Some of the interesting buildings in the square are the Cercle municipal of the city of Luxembourg, in which the first sessions of the Special Council of Ministers of the ECSC (community European Coal and steel), the precursors of the EU. The façade of this building is adorned with a scene showing the Countess Ermesinde, to return in 1244 the letter of franchise to the citizens of the city of Luxembourg ,the main building was completed in 1906 but work on the interior was finished only in 1909. At the western end of the Place d’Armes on Place Jan Pallach , there is a monument dedicated to poets Dicks and Michel Lentz (who wrote the words of the national anthem) .  The Bandstand music kiosk is very nice and quant lovely indeed, and when my boys were younger they really enjoyed the rides!. The square is surrounded by terraces of the different restaurants, shops and hotels. There is very nice quant architecture in the building’s facades in the Place d’Armes. From the first days of spring, the many terraces on the square invite the passersby, to rest, to listen during the summer weekends the concerts of the marching bands from the four corners of the country and make it a place of relaxation very appreciated, both by the Tourists than the Luxembourgish. All around is a pedestrian area of Groussgaas , where there are many shops.



In the Place d’Armes, there is our wonderful Hôtel Français, a generous 3-star, offers on 5 floors 22 comfortable rooms, all renovated, which open to wide spaces of recreation embellished with original works of art. I take time to give you info on the hotel we always stayed in city center at 14 Place d’Armes with a wonderful family room up to 5!  More info here:


As this is our central each time in the country, we know it by heart, there are so much choices but us been different hehh! we go for the memories of old of which my boys grew up in FL USA so we love to come here for the pepperoni lover’s pizza at Pizza Hut in the Place d’Armes! And its a ritual for my family lol! and now after my late dear wife Martine passing is a place with loads of memories.  13 Place d’Armes Pizza Hut :



Another favorite hard to see but a memorable spot of many happy hours back in the old country before France was Chi Chi’s tex mex restaurant and darn, they have one in the Place d’Armes!!  15 Place d’Armes, Chi Chi’s , tex-mex in town !

Another of our regular stops here over the years is Banana’s oh yes you can go bananas here with a great DJ and good chow over the lovely square, grand we think! It is on Monterey Ave. just a run off street from the Place d’Armes!  9, Avenue Monterey run off street from Place d’Armes ,Banana’s traditional resto and DJ music!


You can spent a whole day walking around this area with the beautiful quant buildings, and wonderful shops as well as the above establishements of our souvenirs of  Luxembourg. And to boot, the Duchess Maria Theresa is Cuban born lol!!  Always looking forward in going back for more…

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Luxembourg on Place d’Armes

Tourist office of Luxembourg on shopping with a good map in pdf!

Tourist office of Luxembourg on Restaurants

There you go a small magical place awaits you and it is a lot more the the city of Luxembourg, check out my previous posts on it and the country in my blog!

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



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February 26, 2019

Manneken Pis, Brussels of course!

Ok so now I go back to one of my favorite countries Belgium and one of my favorite cities Brussels. I have written extensively on it previously in my blog. However, not going to tell you about huge monuments or sumptous museum but a little statue that has the world in love with Brussels.

The Manneken Pis is an unusual figure , how can a statue showing someone pissing be so popular! yes it is and very nice quant, we love to stop by even if after several trips the crowds do not stop to grow me think!

Let me tell you a bit more on the Manneken Pis of Brussels!

Manneken-Pis, meaning “the Little man who pees” in Brussels, is a fountain in the form of a statue in Bronze of 55.5 cm high ( aprox 22 inches (61 cm with the pedestal) which represents a naked little boy urinating. To be precise, the real name is Menneke Pis. Indeed, in Flemish or Dutch but also in Brussels, een manneke is a small man while a menneke in Brussels means a little boy. The fun of a multilingual city.


It is located in the heart of Brussels, a few steps from the Grand Place, at the intersection of the rue de l’Étuve et de la rue du Chêne . Since 1965, the statuette present on the spot is a copy identical to that conceived in 1619-1620 which is treasured in the Museum of the city of Brussels located in the Maison du Roi (king’s house). Manneken-Pis is the most famous symbol of Brussels.

A bit of history I like

The earliest mention of the existence of Manneken-Pis is in an administrative text, which can be dated from 1451-1452, on the water pipes feeding the Brussels fountains. From the outset, the fountain plays an essential role in the distribution of drinking water. It is then located on the route of the Rue du Chêne, just before the angle that forms it with the rue de l’Étuve . It takes place on a column and pours its water into a double rectangular stone basin.

The first statue is replaced by a new bronze version ordered in 1619. It is probably melted and installed in 1620 at the same time, the column supporting the statuette and the double rectangular basin collecting the water are completely redone. The fountain is now no longer on the public road, but in a recess located at the corner of rue du Chêne et rue de l’Étuve. In 1770, the column and the double rectangular basin disappear; The statuette is integrated into a new rock-style stone decor from another Brussels fountain that was dismantled.

The statue of the Manneken Pis had several attempts of stealing it. In fact, the first attempt at a confirmed abduction was undertaken in 1747 by a group of French soldiers garrisoned in Brussels. To calm the spirits, the king of France, Louis XV, offered a suit of gentleman to Manneken-Pis, allowing it to carry the sword, and decorated it with the Cross of Saint Louis. Restored once again, the statue was sheltered and is now exposed on the second floor of the Museum of the city of Brussels occupying the Maison du Roi (King’s house) on the spot, at the corner of the streets of rue du Chêne et rue de l’Étuve , it was replaced by an identical copy.

Description and costumes of the Manneken Pis

Since the 20C, many copies or imitations of the Manneken-Pis have been born both in Belgium and abroad. It is necessary to distinguish the official copies offered by the city of Brussels from copies and imitations made privately by fans of the small character. Official copies were offered in Colmar (1921); Osaka (1928); Monaco (1951); London (1959); Broxeele (1979); Benalmadena (1991); and   Nagoya (2015).


The oldest testimony of the tradition of dressing Manneken-Pis dates back to 1615. At the Ommegang in Brussels that year in honor of the Archduchess Isabelle, the Manneken-Pis wears a shepherd’s suit. Traditionally, it is reported that in 1695, Governor-General Maximilian-Emmanuel of Bavaria, stationed in Brussels, offered a suit of blue color both in Manneken-Pis and in the statue of Saint Christopher, patron of the Military Guild of the Brussels archers.

In 1756, an inventory indicates that the Manneken-Pis wardrobe contains five complete garments. His wardrobe did not grow much before the 20C from 1918 to 1940, about thirty costumes were offered to him. But it was especially after 1945 that the movement took on an exceptional scale: the wardrobe has more than 400 costumes in 1994, more than 750 in 2005, more than 950 in 2016. The wardrobe, which has a thousand costumes since 2018, is kept at the Museum of the City of Brussels, located in the Maison du Roi (King’s house) on the Grand Place. In 2017, the city of Brussels opened a new museum space at 19, rue du Chêne entirely devoted to the presentation of the most emblematic garments of the wardrobe of Manneken-Pis.

Since 1954, the official presentation of the new costumes is framed by the order of Friends of Manneken-Pis founded that year to consolidate the folklore tradition. The order, in its present form, was revived in 1985. The order aims to stimulate the cultural, tourist, philanthropic and commercial development of Belgium in general, and in particular to preserve the traditions related to the character of Manneken-Pis.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Manneken Pis

Tourist office of Brussels on the Manneken Pis

City of Brussels on the Manneken Pis

Hope you enjoy the post, this is so unique and wonderful to stop by when in Brussels the Manneken Pis is a nice tradition.

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


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February 26, 2019

My travels in the Morbihan, LXXII

Well here I am the local guy, its been a while doing this continent tour and more to come back to my dept 56 Morbihan breton in the region of Brittany, my home for the last 8 years! I like to catch up a bit as some interesting events are coming up that we participate over the years

N164 the Breton free road of course that goes from Châteulin (Finistére 29) to Montauban de Bretagne(Ille et Vilaine 35) is in repairs for improvements; the highway is 162 km long and so far 106 km are done. The rest are to be finish by 2021 And there is more work in the planning in the Côtes d’Armor 22 to be done by 2022/23 or even 2025.

The tourism is up in Brittany, I told you we are the third most visited region in France, the World’s top vacation visitor visits. There were 97,5 million tourist in Brittany in 2018!!! The numbers come from the CRT comité regional du tourisme. Even with this is 2% less than in 2017 due to a school vacation that was shorter, the weather was no help , the strikes of the SNCF train network and the yellow jackets strikers at end of year 2018.

However, the foreigners are up! With hotels and campings full and positive increases over 2017. The most as I see it too are from the UK, Germany, and Belgium. What would be the impact of Brexit to tourism in Brittany? That is the big question, time will tell. Official site her:

The old 35 yrs old cocodrile of the aquarium of Vannes is getting larger quarters!  Eleonore she is already 4 meters long! And 200 kg!  It was found in the sewers of Paris when it was 2 years old and was hosted by the Museum of d’Histoire Naturalle . The crocs can live to 70 years old in the wild and up to 100 in captivity!!! And they can run fast but only for about 20 meters!  Tips I know from growing up in their tropical areas. The aquarium webpage is here:

Coming up in  June 14-16 the Livr’ à Vannes book fair with over 200 writers on site!  This will be the 12th edition!More here:

March 2-4 the Salon de l’Habitat on its 33rd edition at Vannes! All to  know how to buy sell and renovate your house and financing ideas of course. Time to check it out !!!  At the Chorus in the parc du golfe in Vannes of course! More here:

February 23 to March 3 Salon de l ’Agriculture in Paris its 56th edition  but we are big there!!! At the Parc des Expositions de la Porte de Versailles of  Paris. All you need to know about our wonderful gastronomy from where it comes from and how it is raised.  The exponents listings here:

And the Salon Vins & Gastronomie de Vannes ! March 9-11 2019. The 27th edition and I will be there for the 8th time!!! Again!!! At the Chorus in the Parc du Golfe, loads of goodies from my belle France foods, accessories  wines you name the crème de la crème be here or be square lol!!More on the Salon here:

The Chorus exhibition hall here:

At Arzon, Criée de Port Navalo, the event  Imagine ton Naviere ! imagine your boat. From Saturday 6 April to Sunday 9 June 2019 the exhibition invites the public to imagine how men design and then build ships to meet their desire to move on the water. By browsing the exhibition, its digital games and interactive manipulations the visitor becomes in turn naval architect and navigator. Free entry. More here:

Sunday July 14 2019 at Sarzeau – Port de Saint Jacques,  FÊTE DE LA MER (Feast of the sea) .During the day; games on water and on land, and empty attic fleas market. In the evening; popular ball and at nightfall, fireworks. Possibility of eating on site. Free admission. More here:

Every 2nd  Saturdays of the month  at  Vannes-Le Port from 9h to 18h. The quays of the book , professional market of the old book, used, vinyl records and postcard organized by the Association of Booksellers of South Brittany (weather permitting) .About 10 exhibitors . Free attendance. More here:

There you go some nice activities near me, I will be around!!! and planned trips already to the Loire, Amboise, and Honfleur. Stay tune ok!

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



February 26, 2019

Thabor park, Rennes!

Ok so now lets get ecological nature lover in me and tell you about a wonderful park right in the middle of a large city. This is Rennes, dept 35 of Ille et Vilaine in the region of Brittany ! Having taking on monuments and museums, let me tell you about a nature lovers paradise.

I have several posts on Rennes but would like to tell you about the wonderful Thabor park or Parc du Thabor of Rennes!

Parc du Thabor park, is close to the city center, a public park with more than ten hectares, the characteristic of which is to mix a French garden, an English garden and an important botanical garden. Since its private origin, vegetable garden and pleasure of the monks of Saint-Melaine Abbey long outside the walls of the city, the park has become, by successive developments and enlargements, one of the emblematic places of the city and of the most popular.

Thabor Park is in the district of Thabor-Saint-Helier-Alphonse Guérin. It is framed by rue Martenot and Rue de Paris to the south, the boulevard de la Duchess Anne to the east and the Rue de la Palestine to the north. The west of the park is clearly tightened between Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melaine in the north and middle school Anne de Bretagne in the south; You can access it by the place Saint-Melaine, the entrance closest to the center of the city. Access to the park is made by six open entrances on the above mentioned streets. It is served by lines C3 and 44, Thabor stop; The nearest metro station is Sainte-Anne. The park is open all year round. Just to say I always come here by car as on trains is only a transfer station for me.


A bit of history and description I like

Originally, the park was only a hill culminating at 56 meters above sea level, i.e. it dominated a large part of Rennes, the altitude of which ranges from 20 to 74 meters. The first mentions of the Thabor date from 1610. The lands of Thabor have long been a dependency of the abbey of Saint-Melaine, where they were mainly used as an orchard. In the 17C, Benedictine monks opened their gardens, but they were reserved for men only. The Thabor was accessed by a passage that communicated between the abbey’s interior cloister and its vegetable garden, and then through a door that was set in the wake of the Great Fire of 1720, the Thabor became the seat of the bishopric. The Palace of the bishopric was built there and part of the gardens became those of the bishopric.

In the French revolution, all ecclesiastical domains are attached to the State. On May 10, 1793, Rennes became the owner of these lands following an exchange with the State. A public promenade was opened on the rest of the bishopric and Benedictine lands; the Court of the bishopric is the main entrance. In 1826, the demolition of the Church of Saint John, located next to Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melaine, abandoned since the French revolution, opened the current entrance to Saint-Melaine.

Besides the French gardens expressly requested by the mayor, Denis Bühler proposed to create the first landscaped garden of Rennes and to move the garden of plants, then to the west of the Orangerie, to the east of the park. The greenhouses, the aviary, the grates, the Orangerie and the bandstand are made on the plans of the local architect Jean-Baptiste Martenot. The last expansions took place at the end of the 19C with the transfer of the Office of the Catherinettes in 1891, then the acquisition of the parcel Perrigault. During the 20C, some minor developments were carried out, such as the addition of wrought iron gratings at the entrance to Rue de Paris, in 1912 and Avenue de Grignan in 1926, but also the creation of a menagerie in 1930 following the success of the park of Maurepas created essentially as a playground and relaxation in 1936, the Thabor park, also receives this type of equipment. The Duchess Anne’s greenhouses were demolished at the beginning of 2005 to liberate the settlement area of the social housing, as well as a neighborhood library and a new entrance towards the square Lucien Rose.

The 10 ha of the Thabor public Garden consists of two walks-the square of the Guesclin and the L’Enfer (hell) to the west-of the French garden in front of the Orangery in the north, a large landscaped garden in the center and the south, and finally a botanical garden and a rosary to the east. The Guesclin square was laid out in bowling lawn in 1825, it is a trapezoidal lawn with a promenade lined with chestnut trees. On the small side, a stone arch highlighting a column of July allows to overlook the bowling, of this observatory, the impression that the Guesclin square is of parallelepiped form.. The demolition of the Church of Saint John allowed to create an entrance leading directly to the Guesclin square in 1826 overlooking the Place Saint Melaine, ancient forecourt of the abbey, the entrance is marked by a monumental portal, bearing the arms of Rennes. A small wall was spread on either side of the pillars, punctuated by six low-protrusion pilasters adorned with cast iron vases. The construction of the new grid, is a miniature version of that of Parc Monceau, Paris began in 1873 and ended only 3 years later.

The terraces, along Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melaine, are lined with mosaics of flowers. From 1950, these mosaics were thematic and could represent comic characters (Asterix, Smurfs…) or the Fables of Fontaine. This demanded substantial financial support for the city of Rennes, and since 1975, the flower beds have been a simpler motif. During the early 20C, L’Enfer (hell) was a holiday place with the installation of a green theater. In front of L’Enfer, a very treed square houses a children’s carousel. An overhanging promenade is located on the edge of the Espachien. It includes a foosball table, a stones table and two sculptures made between 1889 and 1895 by the students of the Beaux-Arts of Rennes who face on the east side of the promenade.

Between L’Enfer and the French gardens, a bar-restaurant is located along the Rue de la Palestine. The Thabor’s snack bar becomes the Terrace Restaurant.

The French gardens were designed by Denis Bühler at the explicit request of the mayor of the city. This is the only French garden created by this landscaper, and the only 19C park to own a French garden. The French garden respects the precepts of Le Nôtre: we find gendarme hats, embroidery beds and basins. In addition to the Floral Park, the French garden also stands out by its decoration and its development by factories, statues and by the urban furniture. The bandstand, strategically placed in the alignment of the massif of the French garden, on its eastern part, is built by Martenot in 1875. He took trips before designing the kiosk, including advice on acoustics, and was very much inspired by the Bois de Boulogne kiosk. The statues were added at the end of the 19C. In 1807, the Orangerie and two greenhouses were built, but the latter were replaced almost sixty years later (in 1862 and 1863) by the greenhouses designed by Martenot. The glass and steel greenhouses are largely inspired by the greenhouses of the Bordeaux Botanical Garden. Three cut-out pavilions called palmerium, surmounted by a balcony and a dome crowned with a lantern are connected by small galleries.

The greenhouses of Martenot are affected by the bombardment of WWII; more classic integrated into the buildings of the Orangerie were built after the war. The Orangerie consists of two buildings that frame the greenhouses in the east and west. The Orangerie, pierced by windows on all sides except in the north, is decorated with bas-reliefs and inscriptions commemorating the great names of botany and horticulture: The pediment is adorned with names of botanists such as Linné and De Jussieu are represented on the western part and the Quintinie and Le Nôtre on the eastern part. Today, the 85 m2 of the west Orangery serves as a showroom.


The Botanical Garden which was located west of the Orangerie and moved to the east of the park. The botanical Garden is organized circularly in eleven flowerbeds where more than 3 000 species grow to understand this organization, the visitor should browse the botanical garden starting from the acotylédones (mushrooms, mosses and ferns) , then going up to the center of the circle by turning clockwise until the flowering. So the plants become more and more imposing, and we pass herbs to shrubs. Between the Rosary, the botanical gardens and the French garden, a space of 300 m2 is isolated from the public by means of grills. It is the site of   experimentation of the Ecorurb research program, the objective of which is to understand the effects of urbanization on biodiversity. The grid plot must primarily be used to understand the process of recolonization of plants on pristine terrain with or without seed input. For this, the land was sterilized and then isolated from the rest of the park.


The Rosary garden is rich in many varieties of rose stem, half-stalk, climbing or bush. A large part of the climbing roses are presented on the north wall separating the garden from the Rue de la Palestine, but also on arbours and pergolas. In the square of the novelties, an exhibition of roses that has been created during the previous ten years is located around the statue La Pensée( thought), a copy of the Louvre or Versailles. The side of the wall bordering the Rue de la Palestine is a place of observation where the adaptation of the roses created less than five years ago to the climatic and soil conditions is tested for two to three years by the National Society of Horticulture of France in order to compete in the Grand Prix de la Rose SNHF. A square of the old Roses inaugurated in 1990 to the south of the botanical garden allows to discover the first varieties of tea roses and their hybrids of the Japanese steps allowing to access the young Savoyard mourning his groundhog, but also to enter the heart of the ancient Rosary. To the northeast of the Botanical Garden is an exhibition of dahlias.


The landscaped garden is summarily divided into two areas: first of all the garden imagined by Denis Bühler, offering larger spaces grassy and creating openings allowing the creation of picturesque landscapes. However, the landscape garden remains the place of the idealization of nature. The landscaped garden is home to many species of trees, including redwoods that are in some way the signature of the Bühler brothers. The most elaborate part of the landscape park is the mosaiculture representing the coat of arms of Rennes surrounded by two ermines. This is the only part of the park enclosure that is wide open outside, thanks to a long grid, so that passersby and motorists browsing the Rue de Paris can enjoy it. The monumental fountain of 1829 for the development of the Square de la Motte is dismantled and installed at the entrance of Rue de Paris in 1901. The waterfall is lined with rocks from the forest of Saint-Aubin, although during the construction of the Catherinettes, picturesque-shaped rocks were made using cement. The waterfall is a miniature copy of that of the Bois de Boulogne.


The menagerie was arranged in 1930 to the southeast of the Catherinettes. It originally housed deer, sheep and some birds such as ducks and guinea geese, but several complaints from the vicinity, vandalism and also inadequate food for the species present led to the transformation of the Menagerie in simple duck pens in 1978. In 1968, the children’s playground is located in the southeast of the landscape park. It currently contains several slides and swings highlighted by large circular stone surrounds. A lawn adjacent to the playground is allowed to the public. Many captive birds are found at the Thabor park. Many species of surface duck and parakeets are exposed to the public in the duck enclosure and aviary. Wooden panels representing each bird installed in the vicinity of these facilities make it possible to inform the public of the different species presented. The park allows to observe several wild birds, passers and raptors mainly (Owl Tawny, European hawk). The red squirrel is also present.


The park consists of 52 000 m2 of turf, 5 800 m2 of shrubs and 700 trees of which 200 conifers. The park, and in particular the landscaped park, is embellished with many species of trees: redwoods, Lebanese cedar, tricolor beech, Tulip tree of Virginia, Cork Oak, magnolias, silver bell trees, pyramidal oak, Algerian fir, Colorado blue fir, Etc. The Thabor Park represents 59 000 annual plants, 54 000 biennial plants, 18 500 plants bulbous, 500 chrysanthemum, 1 000 dahlias of 78 different varieties and 2 100 roses of 980 different varieties. The Botanical Garden Houses 3 120 different plants, of which 800 are planted each year; The most represented family is that of daisies. It is also a place of exhibition, especially thanks to the orangery where different artists were exposed.


Ok so I believe you get the picture , this is a big Thabor park and a wonderful place to do your walks and or relax after a long day of sightseeing in Rennes, capital of the region of Brittany! Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Region of Brittany on heritage and Thabor park

Tourist office of Rennes on Thabor park

Dept 35 Ille et Vilaine on Thabor park

City of Rennes on Thabor park and its 150 anniversary

The Thabor Restaurant on Thabor Park

Enjoy it ,its wonderful with the whole family, we even go there while walking around the city, lately to eat out. Its an off the beaten path site that needs to be visited more.

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


February 26, 2019

St Peter’s Cathedral of Rennes!

Well of course Rennes has a Cathedral! I had written briefly on it in my previous blog posts but looking back definitively needs a post of its own. The Cathérale Saint Pierre de Rennes is worth a detour indeed.

I like to tell you a bit more on it, and hope you enjoy the tour. The Cathédrale de Saint-Pierre or St Peter’s Cathedral is located in the heart of the city of Rennes, Ille et Vilaine dept. 35 in the region of Brittany. It is the seat of the Archdiocese of Rennes, Dol and Saint-Malo. Classically styled, it is one of the nine historic Cathedrals of Brittany.

rennes cat st pierre front dec13

A bit of history I like

The current site of the Cathedral St Pierre, has been used as the seat of a bishopric since the 6C. It is likely that it was built instead of an older sanctuary. The old Church was completely replaced by a Gothic Church in the 12C. It is within its walls that on December 25, 1483, Henri Tudor, future Henry VII of England, then in exile in Brittany promises to marry Elizabeth of York to join the army that remained loyal to the late Edward IV of England. This effective marriage in 1486 sealed the end of the war of the Roses and initiated the Tudor dynasty, which would give five sovereigns to England, including the first two reigning queens, successively Mary I of England and Elizabeth I of England.


In 1490, the tower and the western façade of the Gothic Church collapsed. A long-term reconstruction of the western massif, which lasted 163 years, culminated in the granite façade we know today, which is largely classical in style. It appeared then that to avoid a total collapse, it was necessary to rebuild the entire building, with the exception of the facade of recent and solid construction was approved by king Louis XV in Council meeting of 1762.  The demolition took place from 1756 to 1768. The reconstruction began in 1787, but the French Revolution stopped the work. These resumed in 1816. The now neoclassical Cathedral St Pierre with classic façade was completed in 1845. During the works, from 1803 and 1844, the former abbey Church of Saint-Melaine (see other churches of Rennes post) was the pro-Cathedral of Rennes.


A bit on the construction and architecture features I like

The facade and its two classical granite towers of 48 meters high were built in several stages throughout the 16C and 17C.  The towers have four levels. The first level was built from 1541 to 1543, the second as well as the third from 1640 to 1654 and the fourth and last from 1654 to 1678. Finally the coronation of the towers between 1679 and 1704, bearing them at their present height of 48 meters and added on the pediment to the top of the façade the motto of Louis XIV.

Besides the front, the façade has five coats of arms of tufa , showing from top to bottom, from right to left we have that of the Beaumanoir, that of Charles Albert of d’Ailly, 3rd Duke of Chaulnes, governor of Brittany, that of Jean-Baptiste de Beaumanoir de Lavardin, Bishop of Rennes from 1676 to 1711. that of Henri de La Mothe-Houdancourt, Bishop of Rennes from 1642 to 1662.  And that of Duke Charles de la Porte. To underline the strength and solidity of the new ensemble as opposed to the fragility of the previous construction, the architects have endowed the facade with 22 granite columns.  The pediment is to the arms of Louis XIV.

The nave has forty-four ionic columns. It was the most austere part of the Church. In order to alleviate this austerity, in the 19C, the columns and part of the walls (this is a mixture of marble dust, lime and chalk) were made into stucco, giving the building a greater brightness. The vault on the other hand is decorated with gold leaves. The vault contains crests to the arms of Brittany and the dioceses of the Archdiocese of Rennes.

rennes cat st pierre nave dec13

rennes cat st pierre ceilings altar dec13

The floor covering of the Choir is made up of austere slabs of granite. These offer a violent contrast to the high altar made with marbles offered by Pope Pius IX and from the Roman Forum (Rome). The cul-de-furnace of the apse is adorned with a painting depicting the giving by Christ of the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to Saint Peter, made circa 1871 by the 19C painter Alphonse le Hénaff. The Choir is surrounded by an ambulatory whose walls are decorated with representations of the various Saints of Brittany grouped according to their diocese (Rennes, Dol-de-Bretagne, Saint-Malo, Saint-Brieuc, Tréguier, Saint-Pol-de-Leon, Quimper, Vannes). They are also due to Alphonse Le Hénaff.

The two crosses of the transept each have a sumptuous chapel adorned with remarkable frescoes. Those of the southern Chapel are consecrated to St. Anne, patron Saint of Brittany. There is also the painting of Saint Peter by the painter Henri-Joseph de Forestier given by king Charles X. The work dates from 1827 and represents Saint Peter delivered from his prison by an angel. The northern Chapel has a series of frescoes dedicated to Mary. They thus participate in the Marian cult widespread in Brittany.

Above the crossing of the transept, an artistic project for the development of the four pendants was chosen; consisting in the installation of four statues of three meters in height each, in the four pendants under the dome which will represent the symbolic tetramorphous of the four Evangelists, associated with scenes from the Gospels, such as the Man for Saint Matthew, the Lion for St. Mark, the Bull for St. Luke, and the Eagle for Saint John. The crypt entrance is under the heavy slab engraved with the names of the buried bishops, in the middle of the Cathedral’s central aisle. This crypt is only open during burials. You can go down only upon the burial of a bishop or archbishop.


The Cathedral St Pierre, houses a great Flemish Altarpiece masterpiece from the 16C adorned with 80 characters, which was restored in 1984. In the Chapel dedicated to Saint Malo is the painting of Sainte Marguerite, dating from the 17C. This painting is a copy of that of Raphael who is currently in the Department of paintings of the Louvre museum. In the Saint-Michel Chapel, you can admire the statue of St. Anne, a copy of a 15C work.

The towers of the Cathedral St Pierre of Rennes house a ringing of five bells. The bourdon, named Godefroy, is housed in the North tower and weighs about 7 900 kg. Its beating of 240 kg was changed on December 12, 2011. The other four bells, located in the South Tower, bear the names of Mary, Pierre, Amand and Melaine. They weigh 3 950 kg, 1 467 kg, 1 155 kg and 475 kg. Pierre is the only preserved bell of 1843, which had three sound vases. The bourdon, named after the first Cardinal-Archbishop of Rennes, Mgr. Brossay-Saint-Marc, is the biggest hidden bell in Brittany. The names of its sisters evoke the holy patron of the cathedral, Peter, that of the Archdiocese of Rennes, Dol and Saint-Malo, Melaine, and his predecessor on the Episcopal throne, Amand.

rennes cat st pierre st amand corp help rennes dec13

The Grand organs of the Cathedral St Pierre date from 1874 and is housed in a buffet, rebuilt in 1970 in a neo-classical style. A dorsal is then added, the pipes finding place in a buffet. Today, the main organs of the Cathedral of St Pierre constitute the most important instrument of the Department 35 of Ille-et-Vilaine.

The Choir organ, it is housed in a neo-classical oak buffet and occupies the central section of the ambulatory , at the bottom of the apse of the Cathedral. Carried by a high base, partially in corbelled, its piping is masked by false pipes in painted and gilded wood. Grouped by seven, in two platforms framed by pilasters summoned by Corinthian capitals for the lateral facades, these canons are numbered twenty-nine for the main façade, two plates-faces of seven false pipes framing a central section of fifteen. Dating back to 1867, the instrument will only be installed current 1869.

A webpage on music concerts in the Cathedral St Pierre: Music in Rennes on concerts at the Cathedral St Pierre

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

Catholic Rennes on the Cathedral St Pierre

Tourist office of Rennes on the Cathedral St Pierre

Tourist office dept 35 Ille et Vilaine on the Cathedral in French

There you go another jewel in my Brittany and wonderful capital city of Rennes. The St Peter’s Cathedral is worth the detour and lovely area for walks and sightseeing in the city too. Hope you have enjoy it.

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

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