Archive for March 17th, 2019

March 17, 2019

A tribute to friendships and good cheers!

And I need to re write this old post as it brings very nice souvenirs overall. I have been lucky to have visited 81 countries of our wonderful world (dont read the fake news) , and lived in 6 (Cuba, Spain, USA, France, Brazil, Nigeria, and Swizerland) and able to fluent speak 4 languages (English, French, Spanish,and Portuguese). I have dealt with the internet and travel forums and enjoyed finally even meeting some of the folks there and even had them visited my home and even stayed in my home! over the years. I am now alone as my dear late wife Martine, who accompany me on many of these trips and welcome these folks to our home is no longer due to the dreadful pancreatic cancer; this one is for her too.

I like to bring this post up again the best way I can, reblogging do not know how that works lol! Sorry not techie but humanoid lol! Here is part of my story.

Over the years I had the opportunity to meet wonderful folks from around the World that have come over to meet me in France or Spain or USA or me meeting them in their country. I like to pay tribute to their enduring friendship in this up dated post.

I have had the opportunity to be involved in several travel forums over the years that have been fulfilling to say the least. Encounter folks from many lands who right away established a good friendly rapport with, and it continues for some.

Some of the sites were Madridman, Cityvox(now yelp), Slow Travel, Tripadvisor, Virtual Tourist (now gone), Fodor’s, and Bottin Gourmand (as taster in France). I am no longer with any for reason of time and personal expressions that led me to start this blog, and away from forums. It is my intention to help readers enjoy the beauty of my surroundings and travels, and to help them enjoy their visits to these wonderful places more and better.

I have met them in New Jersey USA, Florida USA, Madrid, Spain, Paris, France, Versailles,France, Suresnes, France, St Germain en Laye, France , South Africa, etc. Some have come and some I have gone over, the general feeling is the same. Our love for travel and the human spirit remains strong attachment to our continuing relationship.

It is with great joy that I decide to interject my blog travel writing with this one, a special post in Paris1972-Versailles2003 blog. A bit of an explanation on the name: Paris 1972 was the first time I saw Paris visiting it from my home in Madrid! Versailles 2003 was my coming to live permanently as a French citizen in France from Florida USA! Two important dates in my life.

Those met in Madrid

madrid

madrid

madrid

Those met in Paris

paris

paris

paris

paris

Those met in Suresnes, Hauts de Seine dept 92

suresnes

Those met at Versailles!

versailles

versailles

Those met in Carnac, Pluvigner , Morbihan(56)

Carnac

Pluvigner

Those met in Johannesburg, South Africa.

South Africa

Thank you very much, and may the relationships and friendships  grow stronger with time. And welcome all new readers and followers to my blog.  La vie est belle en France, life is beautiful in France.

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

 

 

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March 17, 2019

Bordeaux, Médoc, family vacations!

So here I will redo update a popular destination and our favorite for the last several years. Bordeaux is it, and those words means a lot more than the city. You need to go around it and into the Médoc peninsula to see more gems.  As my belle France the sights are endless.

I like to tell you a bit more on our family vacations sort of a nostalgia event for me. Bear with me please ,and hope you too can enjoy it with your family. This is the Médoc and Bordeaux, one-two best!

I like to talk today about the Bordeaux region, one my favorite in all of France. There are many regions in France, total 13 as the country is divided sort of like States but not the same. The Bordeaux sits in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine and is great because of the following reasons :  first,the wines, the best in the world in my wine lovers’s opinion. Second ,the beaches, true only good for july and august but they are on the same level as the  best in Europe and the Americas. Third, the abundance of its gastronomy, diverse natural passages, and its friendly people. There is a huge amount of information here, will need an entire blog to tell you, have written several posts on it so browse my blog for more or contact me.

If you take the city of Bordeaux, you have a bit south the area of the Graves, and Leognan, and Cadaujac beautiful country towns with many activities for the kids and wines of course.  The whole huge area around Bordeaux is connected by a beltway road, the “rocade” or the A630 that takes you into the city or out into the other areas and Spain. My best is to go into the Médoc, the famous area of wines but it has a lot more. From the rocade you  take exit 4 to go into central Bordeaux or exit /sortie in French to no 7 that takes you into the side D1/D2 of wine country along the Garonne river, the other exit/sortie no 8 takes you into the beaches and central area of Medoc.  There is a bus from the Bordeaux train station St Jean to Lacanau near the beaches the No 702, 701,and 710 (need to check for updates as never taken them) ; and train service to Pauillac (again check update as never taken it). The train station is best for schedules at the TER webpage here , see the webpage here: TER Nouvelle Aquitaine region

bordeaux

Bordeaux

The buses  info is here  https://www.transgironde.fr/fr/horaires/23 .  There is, also, a great airport connecting to the rest of France and some European destinations webpage in English http://www.bordeaux.aeroport.fr/en . Once in the Medoc you have many department roads that takes you everywhere there, like the D215 and D207,D208,D3,and D5; via Michelin is good for a starter to guide you while on the road, more here: https://www.viamichelin.co.uk/ .  Again if you need shortcuts or curious let me know.

The main sites in the city of Bordeaux are; Esplanade des Quinconces ( one of the biggest plazas in Europe, see the towers statues of Montaigne,and Montesquiou ; Grand Théatre ( one of the most beautiful in France b. 1773-1780); walk the street of Cours de l’Intendance ( where at no 57 Goya lived,died in 1828,and now a Spanish cultural center); Place Gambetta (houses style Louis XV, the English garden where the guillotine was placed during the French revolution,and the door porte Dijeaux b.1748 ; Place de la Bourse (b. 1730-1755 with its fountain Trois Grâces b.1860), Place du Parlement (old royal market place), Basilique Saint-Michel (b. 1350) ,and its tower Tour St Michel with it clock dates from the end 15C,and the tallest tower in the south at 114.60 meters {378 ft]) ; Porte de la Grosse Cloche ( from a belltower of the 15C the big clock is an institution in Bordeaux); Rue Sainte-Catherine (pedestrian and full of shops and restos, walk it about 2 kms long); see the Musée d’Aquitaine ( the prehistoric to today history of the region) ;Musée des Beaux-Arts or fine arts museum( next to hotel de ville great paintings); Cathedrale St Andre (by the place Pey-Beland, the most majestic of the churches in Bordeaux, built in the 12-13C) Tour Pey-Berland ( 229 steps to reach the top,and a beautiful view of Bordeaux); Centre Jean Moulin( the hero of the French resistance, deportation,and view of WWII); Basilique St Seurin ( UNESCO heritage site, built 11C; great historical chapels,and rosaries, gorgeous); Musee du Vin( for the wine story in detail by the river Chartrons district), Hotel de Ville (palais de Rohan b 18C), and Pont de Pierre. These are the highlights, you could easily spend two days in the city alone. the tourist office webpage is at  https://www.bordeaux-tourisme.com/

For shopping the city is just like Paris, you have all the main stores here too, and for me and the family  the shopping mall at Meriadeck is great and easy to reach on public transport from anywhere in the city plus a great underground parking for yours truly; webpage https://www.meriadeck.com/ . If you want to buy wines,etc in the city, the very best selection, service, and availability with price is La Vinothéque,near the tourist office, webpage  https://www.vinotheque-bordeaux.com/fr/la-vinotheque.html

Food is king so we have eaten in many over the years, our long time favorites are: El Bodegon, 14 place de la Victoire.Brasserie du Passage St Michel, 14 place Canteloup; Cafe Opera, (inside Grand Théatre) Place de la Comedie, Le Dix (now the Gabriel), 10 place de la Bourse, le Bal des Grands Hommes, (inside shopping Les Grands Hommes, good parking underground) 2 rue Montesquieu; Cafe des Arts, 138 cours Victor Hugo, just a sampler.

Moving south you can visit Cadaujac, with its petting zoo and stables, great for kids, La Ferme Exotique, its call, and you need a car as this is in deep country with great views south of Bordeaux. Highly recommended if with kids and have a car, my boys still remember it!!. webpage  https://www.fermeexotique.fr/

Cadujac

Going over the Médoc, now you are in heaven country, my country, we are base here always. We go here every year, sometimes twice a year during school vacations, the long one in the summer we spent 3 weeks each year. We skip 2018 due to the death of my dear wife Martine, will see when going again.  Our favorite was to rent a camping at Les Grand Pins ,and great for the whole family only 300 meters from the beach!!!  Webpage here: https://www.lesgrandspins.com/en/

lacanau-ocean

You have a nice mobile homes, with all amenities, great pricing, with grocery store ,bike rental, pool, exercise room, dancing at nights,and free parking so close to all in the region even trips to Bordeaux. The beach is glorious here, as good as any anywhere. It is in the town of Lacanau-Océan, the webpage for the town Lacanau is here in English: https://www.lacanau.fr/

You are along the ocean here, you can go south or north from here or over the pines central section of the Medoc to the wine chateaux. Lacanau-Océan is a world center of Surfing in Europe and the best come here to compete in the Lacanau Pro event.  We eat at the camping on our own, but if we splash out of town our evening favorite is Kayoc, by the beach overlooking its sunsets glorious, webpage  http://www.restaurant-lacanau.com/  . For ice cream we go to Pinocchio in city center, for groceries and more selection we go old supermarché Shoppi, now a Carrefour at 4 rue Emile Baudoux, near the main street to the beach webpage : https://www.carrefour.fr/magasin/contact-lacanau-ocean , and outside by the huge lake of Lacanau with many water activities, we eat at Restaurant La Conche, 24 allée du club de voile, la Grande Escoure, webpage and reservation contact for evenings  here: https://lacanauocean.com/fr/restaurant-la-conche-lac-lacanau.htm

e head for the beaches of Cancans and Hourtin as well like our playground area, crisscrossing this wonderful region, great beaches there if a bit smaller. We love the italian ices in Cancans, and the pizza at Hourtin. Can’t missed the ice creams in Cancans its right in the small city center street facing the beach at Maubuisson at 2 rue Rossignols, the webpage for tourism there and Hourtin,and Lacanau in English! is here  https://www.medoc-atlantique.com/a-voir-a-faire/tous-a-l-eau?listpage=1

The pizza at Hourtin is Restaurant Pizzeria Le Palerme (now closed) at 8 place de l’église, tel +33 05 56 09 18 46.right in front of the church, in the market plaza and the road to the beach. The Hourtin area has a huge lake too. There is also a webpage for Carcans-Maubuisson here  https://carcans-maubuisson.com/

Throughout this wonderful area we enjoy all kind of beach activities, but,also,kart racing, bike riding ,and horse riding at these places . For Karting we go north along the ocean to Vendays-Montalivet motorsports center, great rides all pro done, and fun for the teen kids, You can contact them ahead for info and direction but its really easy on the D6 road, the webpage for the karting is http://www.gironde-tourisme.info/randonnee,quad,medoc-65.html

For the horse riding we have been using since 2005  this place, Lacanau Equi-Passion, you can taylor made the rides according to level of expertise,and arrange for rides on the ocean ! webpage http://lacanau-equipassion.fr/

For bicycle riding, we can use the local rental at the camping but they have a limited number of bikes, so we go out into the town and rent at Locacycles,Avenue de l’Europe, Central Garage ,tel +33 05 56 26 30 99. just before the Kayoc resto on your way to the beach. Webpage: https://www.locacyclelacanau.fr/

While at the famous D2 wine route and cruising all these wonderful properties, we have eaten at the Restaurant La Toscane, 28 rue Aristide Briand, Pauillac, right from the harbor city center up the pedestrian street to the resto on your left side;great Italian dishes and Pizza which our teens love always. Try for local traditional dishes the Restaurant Saint Martin, 5 quai Leon Perier across from pleasure boat marina, webpage:  http://restaurant-lesaintmartin.com/

Here of course you are in heaven at least me, its my place PAUILLAC, got it.  You can indulge yourselves by visiting the museum and property of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, by reservation at tel + 33 05.56.73.21.29. webpage  https://www.bpdr.com/en/chateau-mouton-rothschild-2 , or the museum of the property of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande with reservation at tel +33 05.56.59.19.40. webpage  http://www.pichon-comtesse.com/

Other than visiting the chateaux direct, if time is of the essence, you must stop by the vinothéque de Pauillac, it is in the Maison du tourisme et vins de Pauillac building just at the entrance to the town; info at bottom at this webpage https://www.pauillac-medoc.com/fr/pauillac-tourisme/vins-chateaux/   with many souvenirs and food items from the region as well . Once in the area I recommend heading over to Chateau Lanessan at Cussac-Fort-Medoc, with its nice fortress (Fort Medoc) by the river in the town , and on the chateau property a very nice carriage museum and horse history with tastings, my kids introduction to wine tasting was here back in 2008! webpage http://www.lanessan.com/#/Visite/

Fort Cusac

Another great wine and information center is the Maison du vins de Margaux ,which has it own webpage http://maisonduvindemargaux.com/ ; here we have try the Brasserie du Lac part of relais de Margaux complex and its wonderful, webpage https://www.relais-margaux.fr/fr-fr/restaurants1/brasserie-du-lac1

Do not forget to stop by in Margaux at the Mademoiselle de Margaux chocolates, for the famous serments de Medoc ,webpage : https://www.mademoiselledemargaux.com/

Going to Saint Estéphe, the maison du vins there is excellent in inner court of the street very quaint area, webpage http://saint-estephe.fr/ .  And, a page in French, for everything, or almost everything you need to know about the Medoc, Bordeaux region or the Gironde, private site Caruso33 ,here is a know it all webpage http://www.caruso33.net/

Of course there are many individual properties visited over the years too numerous to mention, buy the Feret edition, Bordeaux and its Wines book at any serious book store, the essential historical analytical guide to the wines of the Médoc,last edition from 2014. Webpage:  http://www.feret.com/bordeaux-et-ses-vins/bordeaux-et-ses-vins-19-edition-2014.html . Hope it bring some taste for visiting the region, its glorious, for all ages, and the France profonde/deep France I love so much.

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

 

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March 17, 2019

Ben Thanh Market at Ho Chi Minh City!

So here I am taking you back east all the way to Vietnam. I have visited the country several times in the last few years and always impressive with its recovery after the wars. My main city was Ho Chi Minh City or old Saigon; even if some locals still call it Saigon!

On the several posts done on the country , I like to tell you about one particular spot that I got in by surprise walking from my hotel once, and then on another occassion came back to see it fully inside. This is the Ben Thanh Market, a must to visit.

The Ben Thanh market or Ho Chi Minh Market,  or Saigon market , whose Vietnamese name is Cho Ben Thanh is the best tourist shopping destination in Ho Chi Minh City. This tourist spot is located in the heart of the city, in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City, more precisely the Ben Thanh market  is located at the end of a commercial street call Le Loi, and at the beginning of the Le Lai street.

Ho Chi minh city

This building, which covers an area of more than 13 000 m 2, is made of cream-painted concrete with red roofs. Rectangular in shape, has 4 entrance doors or access inside the building, each door is equipped with an animal as a symbol of this entry, for example at the door of the animal is a cow. The highlight of the main façade is the huge clock housed in the middle of the front door turret.

ho chi minh city

Cho Ben Thanh Market was built in 1914 by the French in Ho Chi Minh. Although the building is relatively modern market, the inhabitants of the city and traded near the river since the 17C.

On the market you can find clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry, equipment, pet shops, crafts, flowers, spices, nuts, food and restaurants . If you can’t find what you want inside the Ben Thanh market, you won’t be able to find it in Ho Chi Minh city!,so is the claim.

ho chi minh city

As a rule, prices are not fixed and will need to be haggle, or as traders say, apply a discount (except for restaurants). During the day, traders and stands  inside the market building, but in the evening , after 18h, the market closes to make room for the so-called Ben Thanh Night Market. A part of the traders mounted their stalls and shelves outside the Ben Thanh Market and all the restaurants and food stalls, without exception, continue its activity at the gates of Cho Ben Thanh Market.

The market opens its doors in the early hours of the morning and closes in the evening at 18h.  It is open every day of the week ,Monday to Sunday, whether it is a holiday, only during the Lunar New Year (Tết) and holidays, some stores can be closed. From 18h until midnight, outside the market, it continues the night market as above mentioned.

ho chi minh city

Hope you enjoy the tour, and see some webpages to help you plan your trip here

Official Ben Thanh Market HCMC

Vietnam Guide hotels.com on Ben Thanh Market

A nice Youtube video on Ben Thank Market:

There you go always busy but so many wonders inside to bring home as souvenirs from Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon. Enjoy Ben Thanh Market!

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

 

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March 17, 2019

Chateau de La Roche Guyon!

And I am coming to an old hunting ground when I used to lived in Versailles. Now out west have been lagging passing by here but always good to remember. This is an updated new blogging of an old post from 2011. It is always good to have nice memories of the Castle of La Roche Guyon!

Let me tell you a bit about with some personal old photos included! La Roche Guyon is in dept 95 Val-d’Oise in the Île-de-France region. Very nicely along the A13 by car, direction from Paris on the autoroute A13 of normandy, direction Rouen, at Mantes exit 14 take it followed direction Limay than Vétheuil./La Roche Guyon or even better the A15/D14 more scenic out of Paris.

We always stop by La Roche Guyon, make it a one two punch hard to resist while driving this beautiful area great for weekends. Here you have the Chateau de la Roche Guyon, here the Seine river form an unique turn by the river with a high elevation ideal for a lookout from those invading Normans

la roche guyon

A bit of history I like

In the 3C AD, the troglodyctives caves, and the local lord Guy eventually gave the name to Roche Guyon. History tell us that from the year 911 AD, the treaty of Saint Clair sur Epte giving Normandy to the Vikings, the Roche Guyon keeps the limits of the frontier with the French kingdom over the Seine river.  The French revolution has a tragic and bloody event here, as the owner of the castle was Louis Alexandre de La Rochefoucauld, he was very close to the ideals of the American Revolution and translate to French all the articles of the constitution of the States of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina with first editions in 1778.  He along with the Marquis de Lafayette, joined the estates generals and guided in principles the avenants of the French Revolution, elected President of the department of Paris in 1791. Aftet the revolutionaries turn against him for fear of his democratic ideals, he take refuge with his wife and mother at  Forges-les-Eaux where he hides there but in september 4, 1792 while doing a carriage transfer at Gisors he is arrested and massacre by stoning while his mother and wife looks on in disbelief.  More than 1000 are taken prisioners there and killed, the mother the Duchess of Enville is spare with the daughter in law by the intervention of the local people who appreciated their support always. She died in Paris in 1797 and the grandson continues with the property of Roche Guyon which eventually passes to his heir, the Cardinal Rohan. Some renovation is done to preserve the castle from lack of care in years later.

la roche guyon

Then WWII starts, from 1940 the village is occupied by the nazis, and on 1943 a civil defense field  created.  In February 1944, marshal Rommel established his command HQ in the Château de La Roche-Guyon.  The town is liberated the 8 august 1944 after 8 bombs hits the Chateau ,taking about 20 yrs to make it back to how it was before the war.

la roche guyon

The castle and gardens are now visited from February 5, every day from 10h to 17h. From March 28 from  10h to 18h during the week and 10h to 19h the weekends, from October 31 every day from 10 to 17h.  The visit is done following the terrases, then along and inside the salons or rooms, then the circuit of donjons /towers, and chapels, then the casements. Dont forget to visit the gardens just in front of castle towards the Seine river.

La roche guyon

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Chateau de La Roche Guyon

City of La Roche Guyon on the Castle in French

Hope you enjoy the ride, it is a historical nice place to visit and the views over the garden and into the  Seine river are sublime. Enjoy La Roche Guyon!

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

 

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