Archive for May, 2019

May 30, 2019

Buckingham Palace, London!

Well here I am taking a large task, needless to say each time in London I missed the guided tour and we just walked around it and take a peek at the changing of the guards. However, we will keep at it, and one day ….. For the time been I like to put some historical facts here for a reminder and hopefully helps those coming to not missed it.

I am talking about the Buckingham Palace of London, UK. A wonderful palace in a very nice area too. Hope you enjoy it.

Buckingham Palace is located in London, the Palace is both the venue for events in relation to the Royal family, the home of many visiting heads of State, and an important tourist attraction. Built for John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham and Normandy (yep you know it), in 1703, it is the place of residence of the British monarchy. It was enlarged during the 19C for King George IV. In the middle ages, the site of Buckingham Palace formed part of the Manor of Ebury. It had several Royal occupants since Édward the Confessor and was the subject of numerous speculations about his owner: a flaw in the lease of Charles I of England allowed the land to return to the Royal lap in the 18C.

London

First known as Buckingham House, the building forming the heart of today’s Palace was previously a large mansion built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham John Sheffield and acquired by King George III in 1762 to make it his private residence. It was enlarged over the next 75 years. The Palace eventually became the official residence of the British monarchy during Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne in 1837. The last major structural additions date from the late 19C and early 20C such as the imposing wing facing the Mall was added, and the former official entrance, Marble Arch, was moved near the Speakers ‘ corner to Hyde Park, where it still is today. The east side façade was redone in 1913 with Portland limestone blocks, in the background of the Victoria Memorial, creating the public façade of Buckingham, with the famous balcony in its center. The St. James Palace remained the Royal residence as well as the place of the official ceremonies. Even today, foreign ambassadors are welcomed to the Court of St. James, although State representatives and their staff are presented at Buckingham Palace when they are appointed.

london

The main rooms are located on the noble floor, behind the façade overlooking the western gardens. In the center of these richly adorned rooms is the music room, whose large arch is the main element of the façade. Adjacent to the music room are the blue and white reception lounges. In the center of the suite, the 50 meters long picture gallery serves as a link between the different rooms. Other rooms leading to the gallery are the Throne room and the Green reception lounge. The Green reception lounge, which serves as a Grand antechamber to the Throne room and is part of the ceremonial journey to the hall from the Guard room, contains a white marble statue of Prince Albert, located at the top of the grand staircase.

Just below the official apartments is a series of slightly less solemn rooms, called semi-official apartments, accessible by the Marble hall. These parts are used for less formal occasions, lunches and private hearings. the Room of 1844 which was decorated that year for the official visit of the Emperor Nicholas I of Russia. Then ,in the center, the Hall of the Arch, that thousands of guests cross each year to go to the gardens during the garden parties. The Queen occupies a suite in the north wing for her private use. The Chinese Red and Blue breakfast room is made up of elements of the Brighton banquet and music halls, however the fireplace is Indian-style, although it also comes from Brighton. In the Yellow reception room you can see an 18C tapestry, which was used in 1817 for the Brighton Salon. The chimney in this room is a European transposition of what would be the Chinese equivalent, with mandarins nodding in the niches and scary dragons. In the center of this wing we recognize the famous balcony, and behind its windows is the Central room. It is a Chinese style salon arranged by Queen Mary at the end of the 1920’s, although the lacquered doors were brought from Brighton in 1873. The visiting heads of State occupy the Belgian suite when they are received at the Palace. It is located on the ground floor facing the north gardens.These rooms, whose hallways includes domes, were the first decorated for the uncle of Prince Albert; King Leopold I of the Belgians. King Edward VIII lived there during his short reign.

At the back of Buckingham Palace is the large garden, which is the largest private garden in London. The large artificial lake was completed in 1828 and its water comes from the nearby Serpentine Lake of Hyde Park. Like the Palace, the gardens of Buckingham Palace feature many works of art. The most notable is the vase of Waterloo, a large urn commissioned by Napoleon I to commemorate his upcoming victories, and which in 1815 was presented unfinished to the Prince Regent by Ferdinand III of Tuscany. No floor could withstand a sculpture measuring nearly 4.5 meters and weighing fifteen tons, the work was given to the National Gallery, which finally made this gift to the sovereign in 1906. King Edward VII solved the problem by placing the vase in the garden where it still remains today. In the gardens there is also a small Pavilion attributed to William Kent, built around 1740.

Adjacent to Buckingham Palace, the Royal Mews, are home to the Royal carriages, including the King’s carriage. This Rococo-style gilded carriage, created by Sir William Chambers in 1760, features panels painted by G. B. Cipriani. Having served for the first time at the official inauguration of the Parliament by king George III in 1762, it is used by the sovereign only in sacred or jubilee ceremonies. The horses solicited for the Royal processions in London are also housed in these stables.

How to get to Buckingham Palace: by Underground/Metro/Subway , the nearest stations are: Victoria District, Circle & Victoria line. Green Park Piccadilly, Victoria & Jubilee line. St James’s Park District & Circle line. By Train, the nearest, mainline, train station: London Victoria; am told about 15 minutes walk. By Bus, lines 11, 211, 239, C1 & C10 Stop on Buckingham Palace Rd. By Car, Not recommended as the palace is in the congestion charge zone, and parking is difficult to find and expensive. We come by car , and stay outside the congestion zone, and to the Palace we used the tube with our oyster cards ::)

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of London on the Palace

Official Royal Residence of Buckingham Palace

The place to get tickets for its guided tours

And this what we have not done buy in advance so when walking around London and decided to come in ,it was either closed for visits or the lines were huge! It will happened we are not far… Hope you have enjoy the history tour of Buckingham Palace , a brief one at that.

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

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May 30, 2019

The streets of Meaux!!!

Here I am in my sentimental mood again, on my belle France where else.  I have written on the city of Meaux, in dept 77 Seine-et-Marne, region of Ïle de France before on several posts. However, it is never enough on Meaux!

I was very much French influence since youth, and maybe it was the reason end up marrying a French women , native of Meaux which I visited several times while dating, got her to marry me in Florida USA and then convince me already French citizen to come to live in France. It was, and is the best decision of my life to have found her, and Meaux, and coming to France, all wonderful. If only I lost my dear late Martine to cancer last year. Meaux still is very sentimental.

There are other more beautiful towns in France I guess, and some with major works of arts, and monuments to boot, but little Meaux will remain the biggest of them all. Let me tell you a bit of some of the streets dear to me there. Bear with me ok

Meaux is a small beautiful town, sitting on the Marne river, wrote Michel de Montaigne in 1580 in his diary of travel. On one side the city and the suburbs, on the other the market, sheltered in a meander of the river. Since the Celtic era, it has been an important religious pole; its name remains associated with the tutelary figure of Bossuet, “the Eagle of Meaux “, and its status as an Episcopal seat has earned it its most remarkable monuments: the Cathedral of Saint-Etienne, the Episcopal Palace (now Bossuet Museum) and the  ” Vieux Chapitre” (old chapter).

meaux

A sentimental big street for me is the rue Noëfort, this is where I first met what was to be my wife, my dear late wife Martine at no 36. The main here is that at 3 rue Noéfort  there is the Gendarmerie Nationale. The national military police sort of a State trooper or National Guard. It is also, on the next section of historical Meaux. There are so many walks by here ,and pushing the baby stroller with 3 boys of close ages, and shopping the local nearby shops and eateries, so many memories….

meaux

The Faubourg Saint-Nicolas extends to the east of the city, along the great eponymous artery, formerly known as the route d’Allemagne (road of Germany). It is circumscribed by the avenues of  Maréchal Foch, du Maréchal Joffre, de la République, du président Salvador Allende,and the streets of rue des Béguines and rue des Cordeliers , and of course rue Noëfort. It was built at the foot of the promontory housing the Cathedral and the old town, along the rue du Faubourg Saint-Nicolas which brings together the most important buildings of the District such as the former General Hospital, the Church of St. Nicholas, the Protestant Temple. It was separated from the District of the Cathedral by the Brasset, a small arm of the Marne river, now underground.

meaux

In the 5C, it was buried Saint Céline, a friend of Saint Genevieve; on her tomb, placed Extra Muros in the ancient Celtic tradition, arose a church that was to endure until the French revolution, the Church of Saint Céline. The suburb also welcomed in the 13C another religious establishment, that of the Franciscans or Cordeliers; their arrival in Meaux is part of the development of the communities of beggars monks in all the cities of Europe. In the 17C, two new establishments settled in the Faubourg Saint-Nicolas: the Priory of Noëfort (on rue Noëfort ) and the General Hospital, founded in 1667 to interne the poor and the vagabonds  in application of the great enclosures  decided by the Royal Ordinance of 1662. The old parish church is indeed moved to the site of the Convent of the Cordeliers, and the primitive Church disappears from the urban fabric from the 19C. Not far from its location is then built the Protestant Temple, 1847. As for the Priory of Noëfort, it is converted into a military building; today is the modern Gendarmerie Natinale (police HQ at 3 rue Noëfort), which no longer has any old vestige. The only pre-19C monuments still present in the Faubourg Saint-Nicolas are the present Parish Church St Nicolas (former convent of the Cordeliers) and the House of the Augustines (former General Hospital).

Another wonderful artery we walked and walked a lot over the years is the one call the boulevard des Anciens fossés (old wells), currently Boulevard Jean Rose, the boulevard that is running along the Gallo-Roman walls of Meaux (ramparts!) and great parking area now. The black plague spread over the territory and in Meaux  a third of the population died in 1348. This terrible epidemic upset Jean Rose a local rich merchant, who turned to help the poor and the sick and became the benefactor of the city of Meaux. His wealth, in fact, allowed him to create various pious foundations. In 1356 he built the l’hôpital de la Passion (passion hospital) to accommodate 25 blind and 12 poor, as well as a school for 10 children. It changed its name between the 15C and the 16C. It was gradually called the hospital Jean Rose. It was only in 1647 that the Bishop decided to close the hospital and set up a seminar there. The buildings that housed the Grand Seminary were completely rebuilt in the 18C. Only the Chapel of the Hospital Jean Rose survives today. There is always the crest of the benefactor made up of three roses. It is under the construction date of the building at the top of the door. Jean Rose is buried alongside his wife Jeanne Rose in a Chapel of St. Stephen’s Cathedral (St Etienne). It is a side chapel dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament that our benefactor built, at his expense in 1331 following the death of his wife. In 1848 the town of Meaux decided to honor the memory of Jean Rose by giving its name to an artery of the city: the present Boulevard Jean Rose. Well done!

meaux

Up against the ramparts at Boulevard Jean Rose there is a very active market right over the parking area on Tuesday mornings. More info here: Tourist office of the Meaux country on the market

Another venerable street is the  Cours Raoult, this is where the old Ford dealership was in town and where I purchase my first car in France !  Now there is Monop convenience store there as the dealer has move to outer limits of the city. This is a short street taking you to the Place Henri IV, and along the Rue du Général Leclerc on one way and across the Quai Jacques Prévert (road D603) to the banks of the Marne river. Indeed a very nice place to walk and shop; there is an even bigger market across the river. Here each Saturday, under the historic metal covered cheese market of Meaux built in the second half of the 19C you can have the real cheese Brie de Meaux amongt other things! Magical and nominated for one of the best markets in France!  This is an article on it in the Le Parisien Paris newspaper: Le Parisien newspaper on the market at Meaux

meaux

Moving right along, you come to the  Rue du Général Leclerc which is pedestrian from the Cours Raoult or Pl Henri IV to the Cathedral at Parvis St Etienne. The Rue du Général Leclerc was call before the rue de la Savaterie, and was well known for commerce from the Middle Ages when it was cut into two section one the rue des Pâtissiers (pastry makers st) and the rue de l’Epicerie( groceries st).

meaux

The place Charles-de-Gaulle (square), is at the foot of the Cathedral of St Stephen (St Etienne) where it was also very animated in the Middle Ages when it was called the place des Quatre-Vents, before becoming the Parvis Saint-Etienne, and now the Gen de Gaulle. Very quant pedestrian area with many shops and restos/bars a must to walk it in town. The Cathedral a monument of Gothic France! The Rue St Etienne goes into Rue St Pierre all around the Cathedral. On one side there is Rue Bossuet that takes you to the ramparts and bd Jean Rose (see above). All worth the walks into medieval France and great for shops and restos/bars too.

meaux

The place Henri IV, is another memorable place as here we went to the movies for the first time in France at the Majestic cinema. It is now part of the cinema group UGC and has a great auto parking above and below ground. Also, at Christmas time there is a nice market here with ice skating ring. The square is name as such because it was to mark the coming of king Henri IV in 1599 when the city was in the middle of the 30 years war of Religions,and decided to rally in favor of the king. King Henri IV was a Protestant, and the city of Meaux , Catholic, and when the king converts to Catholicism, the locals (who are call by their celtic name, the Meldois) decided to signed the peace accords.

Couple of webpages to help you plan your visit to Meaux, well worth it and direct from Gare de l’Est in Paris. The streets of Meaux are eternal!

meaux

City of Meaux on things to see

Tourist office of the Meaux country on the Must see in town

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

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May 29, 2019

The Municipal Theater of Fontainebleau!

So sticking around familial and sentimental territory I like to tell you a bit more on a nice property very near the famous Château de Fontainebleau. This is the nice Italian style Municipal Theater.  I as usual have written bits on it in my previous posts on Fontainebleau but feel that it merits a post of its own. Therefore, here it goes briefly.

The Municipal Theater or Théatre Municipal is located at 6, rue Denecourt, corner of rue de Richelieu in Fontainebleau very near the Castle.

Fontainebleau

Built from 1905 in a Louis XIII style combining brick and stone, the theater is inaugurated in 1912. Outside of Paris, it is one of the few Italian theaters and one of the most beautiful in the whole  Ile de France region. The building consists of a foyer, a curvilinear theater room, a reception hall with possibilities for organizing specific cultural events, a home and ancillary rooms. The Municipal theater has a 650-seat capacity Concert Hall and a Ballroom. Classical and imposing, strongly integrated in the urban landscape, the theater is a major pole of attraction and cultural and artistic identity within the city. Indeed is very nice, something different and cultural to see while in Fontainebleau.

Some webpages to help you enjoy the visit here are

Tourist office of Fontainebleau on the Theater

City of Fontainebleau on the theater’s agenda

And there you go , I am not a huge fan of theaters, only for the architectural or historical point of view of them. This one is tops of the list, all worth a visit while in Fontainebleau, dept 77 of the Seine-et-Marne, in the Ïle de France region. Hope you can enjoy it.

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

 

 

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May 29, 2019

La Salle de la Belle Cheminée, Fontainebleau!

I am back now in sentimental area and property. This is difficult to write as many wonderful moments with my dear late wife Martine visiting the castle and town of Fontainebleau in her region and becoming Friends of the Castle. However, drawing on my photos I like to bring them to life for memories’ sake. Hope you enjoy them and do visit the castle is a must while in France. Several post about it in my blog.

Let me tell you about a part not open to the public but had several meetings there and as the castle is renovated maybe will be open one day. The piece in question is the room of the beautiful chimney and its relations or in French la Salle de la Belle Cheminée of the Château de Fontainebleau!

The Salle de la Belle Cheminée (or the beautiful chimney room) is one of the works commissioned by king Henri IV. Above the Belle Cheminée, lies a bas-relief of Henri IV on horseback representing the King on his illustrious white steed.

The wing of the Belle Cheminée, also known as the aile(wing)  de l’Ancienne Comédie or wing of the old comedy, built between 1565 and 1570 in stone of Saint-Leu, derives its name from the chimney that occupied the great hall in the 18C. It was taken down and her sculptures were scattered. The name of old comedy comes from the theater that king Louis XV had made. First known as the Salle de la Belle Cheminée from 1597 to 1601, it was called a theater from 1725, on the occasion of the marriage of king Louis XV; It was destroyed in 1856 by a fire.  The monumental exterior staircase has two Italian ramps. It makes the connection with the cour de la Fontaine (courtyard of the fountain).

Fontainebleau

fontainebleau

La salle de la belle cheminée et moi!

Commissioned by king Henri IV in 1597 and finished in 1601, the Belle Cheminée of the Château de Fontainebleau was dismembered in 1725 (see above the theater). The fragments were taken in the 19C into two other chimneys in the castle. Other fragments are in reserve at Fontainebleau. The Louvre museum presents the central frieze which separated the upper part forming mantle from the fireplace.

It is now in a theater setup for meetings and the chimney still there , still call the beautiful chimney room and one that hoping to be shown to the public if not already ::)

Other rooms in relation to the Belle Cheminée are worth mentioning on this post.

In the Salle des Gardes (room of the guards) you will notice two great figures that surround the chimney coming from the famous Belle Cheminée by then disappeared, sumptuous carved monument. to the glory of the victorious king of 7 meters high,by  6 meters wide. On the left is the allegorical figure of Peace; it lowers, to smother it, the torch of war, reminding us that by the edit of Nantes (1598), king Henri IV had put an end to the civil religious wars between Catholics and Protestants. On the right, the allegory seems to be Obedience;  a young woman is about to pass a harness to a lion. The good King Henri was indeed, against any golden legend, an autocratic sovereign, reinforcing the Royal authority and announcing the absolute monarchy of his grandson, Louis XIV. The remainder of the chimney, of a more grey hue, was carved in 19C.

And to continue the circuit of king Henri IV born at the Château de Fontainebleau.

In the Chapel of Saint Saturnin, you will see in the décor of the coffered vault, the figure of king Henri IV and that of queen Marie de Medicis. In the first room of Saint Louis, in the upper part of the paneling, paintings by Ambroise Dubois from the Cabinet of the King and that of the Queen. In the second room of Saint Louis, an equestrian portrait of the King, coming from the Belle-Cheminée. In the Salon Louis XIII (room), in which he was born, you will see bouquets painted by Jean Dhoey. In the Chapel of the Trinity, above the galleries, the arms of France are attached to those of Navarre. The décor of the chapel was commissioned by king Henri IV. In the Galerie aux Cerfs (deers), the bronze reproduction of the Diane Huntress who adorns the fountain of the Jardin de Diane that runs along this gallery (the original marble is in the Louvre museum), a bronze reproduction of the Lacoon (the original marble is in the Vatican Museum.)

The Jeu de Paume room, whose entrance is to the right of the Jardin de Diane, was rebuilt after a fire, according to the plans of the hall intended by king Henri IV. In the Henri IV part of the Castle, the Cour des Offices are under the porch, on the ceiling the figures of the King Henri IV and Catherine of Médicis.

Some webpages to help you further plan your trip here are

Chateau de Fontainebleau and the salle de la Belle Cheminée

Chateau de Fontainebleau and the reign of Henri IV

Again, this is special, a must to visit while in France. So much history of France and Europe is here, as well as loving architecture details as above. You ought it to yourselves to visit the Château de Fontainebleau!

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

 

 

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May 26, 2019

Some news from France, CCXXXII

And here I am on my CCXXXII post on news of my France. It has been an incredible journey for me to come closer to what is going on in my belle France; hoping that it has giving you more insights into my beautiful adopted country. Oh it is No 232 for the rest ::)

I like to tell you a bit more on the news of France today Sunday 26 May on European Elections Day and Mother’s Day in France!

Ok so let’t start off with a bang on the results of the just finished Cannes Film Festival. Discover below the complete list of this 72nd Festival of Cannes winners

Palme d’Or: “Parasite ” by Bong Joon-Ho.  Grand Prix: “Atlantic” by Mati Diop. Jury prize: “Les Misérables ” by Ladj LY and “Bacurau ” by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles.  Directing award: Jean-Pierre and Luc and Dardenne for “the young Ahmed”. Prize of the screenplay: “Portrait of the girl on fire” by Céline Sciamma. Award for feminine interpretation: Emily Beecham in   “little Joe “.  Award for male interpretation: Antonio Banderas in   “Pain and Glory “. Special mention: Elia Suleiman for “It must be heaven”.  Caméra d’Or: “Nuestras Madres ” (our mothers) by César Díaz. Palme d’Or short film: “The distance between the sky and us” by Vasilis Kekatos.  Special mention of the short film jury:   “Monster God ” by Agustina San Martín.

The attractions with thrills, the fairground stalls, the encounters with animals will be at the Jardin d’Acclimatation ,Paris. But the most beautiful sensation, today Sunday, will undoubtedly be that of the joy of moms shared with children. For the Mother’s day, the park with 47 the most modern rides, after a vast restoration, do not forget its traditions. The direction of the garden has planned to offer at the entrance, a rose to each mom and a relabelled of free workshops, once the entrance fee is paid. Jardin d’Acclimatation, 45 Mahatma Gandhi Avenue (16 éme). Métro Les Sablons. This Sunday from 10h to 19h. Entrance fee at 5€ for adults, free for children under 3 years old. Free animations and workshops. Hurry up if still in Paris! More info here: http://www.jardindacclimatation.fr/agenda/fete-des-meres

As I told you on an earlier post ,today is European election day and as usual France is been a bit slow but much better than last elections. The media is reporting quite a few French voters went to the polls this Sunday morning (And I did my civic duty already) to elect their European deputies. A figure, however, up from 2014. European elections 2019:19.26% participation level by noon today May 26th. The polling stations opened at 8h in France on Sunday, as in 20 other countries for the European elections. 47.1 million French are called to vote to renew, as every five years, their 74 deputies in the European Parliament; 79 if the UK is forced to leave the European Union( working on Brexit seems to be hard and long). More info from the European Parliament here: https://election-results.eu/

The departmental Stadium Yves-du-Manoir in Colombes (Hauts de Seine Dept 92). will host the women’s selection trainings next month for the United States. United States-Chile on 16 June will be the first official game at the Parc des Princes,Paris 16éme. The World Soccer/football women championships will be held in France starting from next June 7 with a France vs South Korea game. The USA is in group F, my other love France is in group A, and lastly my other love Spain is in group B; plenty of choices lol!!   More info here: https://www.fifa.com/womensworldcup/matches/

Imagine Victor Hugo’s “Notre-Dame de Paris”, whose autograph manuscript is exhibited by the National Library this weekend, exceptionally, on the occasion of its Festival. There is only one version, these 455 flying slips written in four months. The writing is also heritage. Thanks to Hugo. “I give all my manuscripts, and all that will be found written or drawn by me, to the National Library of Paris, which will one day be the library of the United States of Europe,” adds the writer to his testament in 1881. The little story in the big news. Like the last words of queen Marie-Antoinette before her execution: “my eyes no longer have tears to weep for you my poor children; Farewell, Farewell! ». The semicolon perfectly traced, a few hours from the end point of the guillotine. The exhibit “Manuscripts of the extreme”, until 7 July 2019 at the BNF in Paris (13 éme). Every day except Monday from 10h to 19h, Sunday 13h to 18h. price:9€. Information at https://www.bnf.fr/fr/agenda/manuscrits-de-lextreme

In 1853 the name of Adolph Alphand is much less known than that of Haussmann, but the capital owes him, largely as well, his present physiognomy. Squares, parks, wood…   The passage from Trocadero to the Eiffel Tower will be vegetated by the time of the Olympic Games of Paris 2024, it is suggested another name: the “promenade Alphand”. Towards the end of 1853, the landscaping of the Bois de Boulogne, which was entrusted to him by Napoleon III, on April 15, 1854, Napoleon and Eugénie inaugurated in great pomp the first phase of the work of the old forest of Rouvray, where François Ier used to hunt for game. On that day, in front of the big waterfall (grand cascade) totally artificial and fuelled by an ingenious hydraulic system, the Imperial couple suddenly sees, at the given signal, the water gushing from the rocks!

For Adolph Alphand, it is the first day of a long career paved with glory. For thirty-seven years, the engineer of the bridges-and-roads will shape the new face of Paris, as an accomplished ace of urban surgery. To his credit, an impressive list: two immense forests Boulogne and Vincennes, arranged on either side of the city; 24 squares accessible in half an hour on foot for all Parisians, rich or poor, as demanded by Napoleon III. We must include as well the Square de Batignolles, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, Rond-Point des Champs Elysées, Bois de Boulonge, Parc Monceau, boulevard Voltaire, Serres d’Auteuil, Square Montholon,Square du Temple, Jardins du Trocadéro, Parc Montsouris, and the Bois de Vincennes. More on the area here: Tourist office of Paris on areas of pedestrian idea

City of Paris webpage on info on the Grand site tour Eiffel: City of Paris on the project Grand Site Tour Eiffel

At Bazoches-sur-Guyonne (Yvelines dept 78) you can come to see the House of Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of the European Union, it is in his home, which we can now visit, that Jean Monnet drafted the text which, in 1950, laid the foundations of the European Union. The reception, which also serves as a small souvenir shop, offers umbrellas, flags, stickers and other pens in the colours of the European flag. For it is here, in the hamlet of Houjarray in Bazoches-sur-Guyonne, that the idea of a Union between the countries of the old continent was born. An idea that he had for several years by Jean Monnet and that he will end up dreaming black on white in 1950, in this house which he had acquired in 1945. This text, made public by Robert Schuman, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, remains considered as a founding document of the EU. A visit that is freely realized, and free of charge. Inside, the public can discover the salon where Jean Monnet expressed his projects to the decision makers of the time. The bedroom, the dining room complete the ground floor while upstairs, a projection room and interactive tables installed there since the month of January allow to know more about the life and work of man in a more playful way. More info here: https://jean-monnet.fr/en/maison-musee-jean-monnet/presentation-modalites-de-visite/

It was after several rewritings of La Recherche that he imagined that a Madeleine cake could bring the past to a resurgence. In the salons of the literary Hotel Le Swann, in Paris, the madeleines are pass before going to the Proustien spring, nine days of festivities in Eure-et-Loir celebrating the centenary of the awarding of the Goncourt prize to À l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, (in the shade of the young girls in bloom) on December 10, 1919. Also, Illiers, his inspiration, became Illiers-Combray in 1971 in homage to the Romanced village of the writer. The Proust Museum is installed in the la maison de Tante Léonie or aunt Leonie’s house. The museum page in English: https://www.amisdeproust.fr/index.php/en/practical-information

Official on Marcel Proust achievements and the aunt Léonie house here in French: http://proust-personnages.fr/?page_id=4315

The actress Isabelle Carré is to see, until June 30th, at the Théâtre de la Renaissance,20 boulevard Saint-Martin 10éme, Paris, where she plays in the La Dégustation (tasting), a romantic comedy that explores the world of wine. She interprets a bachelor whose life changes after the meeting with her wine merchant, incarnated by actor Bernard Campan. One emerges from this story with the urge to tighten the others in its arms. We’re getting happier. The character is perhaps a little amateur, but his humor is not bold. We are in a humor that mixes everything, that does not separate. More info here: https://www.theatredelarenaissance.com/project/la-degustation-isabelle-carre-bernard-campan/

This Museum of Air and Space is located in Le Bourget (Seine-Saint-Denis dept 93), ten minutes from Paris. The number of birthdays it celebrates in 2019 alone justifies you to venture beyond the city. The Bourget airport celebrates its centenary this year. It was here, in 1919, that the first French civil airport was created. Although the number of passengers in that year was limited to 740, but twenty years later, on the eve of WWII, this figure had risen to 45 000. The growth of air transport will make that from 1961 onwards, the Bourget will be abandoned to the benefit of Orly (Val-de-Marne dept 94) then Roissy-en-France (Val d’Oise dept 95) in 1977. The 50 years of the first flight of the Concorde, the famous supersonic, as well as the 50 years of the mission that saw the first man walking on the moon on July 21, 1969, an opportunity to revive the seventeen Apollo missions through some emblematic objects. In addition, as every two years, Le Bourget welcomes this year the 53rd International exhibition of Aeronautics and Space (Paris Air Show) open to the general public from June 21 to 23rd. Finally, this anniversary year will end in apotheosis with the reopening of the great Gallery in the historic terminal, a nugget of the art deco architecture, conceived and realised in 1937. With one of the richest collections of aircraft, aerostats, mock-ups, uniforms, photographs, prints, posters and art objects in the world. More Information in French here: https://www.museeairespace.fr/

To all dreamers and lovers of sweet moments, the Les Heures Bleues or blue hours are made for you. Halfway between the end of the day and the beginning of the night, it is a perfect time for a chill party to share with friends, a white 1664 in hand. Neither too hot nor too cold, the air is ideal for an original afterwork or happy hour evening, to relax and especially to enjoy full animations. Every Wednesday and Friday, you will be able to fill up with animations. And you’ll have a choice! You can take part in a plant music workshop, and test your musical talents by making a few notes with citrus. Plus, a super DJ set of 16 pineapples. The group that usually plays with pineapples, will blackmail oranges and lemons for the occasion. Workshop 1664-the Les Heures Bleues at 47, rue du Cardinal-Lemoine 5éme Every Wednesdays and Fridays from 18h30 to 22h30. More info here: https://www.atelier1664.fr/about

For the resumption of the tour, the Freix Baravane selected the hottest spots of the summer: from Faust in Paris to the marvellous Island of Torcy, from Pete the monkey to Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer to Scopitone in Nantes, the evenings and festivals are chained to the delight of Holidaymakers! In the program there will be: Festival, Mölkky games and of course cocktails, including the inescapable Sangria Blancaby Freixenet, and poptails with Freixenet ice ! La Freix Baravane to September 23 2019. More info here ! https://www.freixenet.fr/landing/?redir=/project/la-freix-baravane/

There you as always plenty to see in my belle France! Enjoy it to the limits!

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

 

 

 

 

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May 26, 2019

My new home of Pluvigner in the Morbihan Breton XXXI!

Once again I come to you to tell you a bit on what we do here and the real routine life of living in France for a common family. Yes France is glorious the large number of visitors tells us that, and we know it. Not only because we are French and live here for 16 years already ,but because we were French before living here and visited every year from 1990 to 2002. And as my title of my blog tells you, I alone have been coming to Paris especially since 1972!

But now for the last 8 years I have been  on the west of France in lovely Brittany and beautiful Morbihan dept 56 way out in country living in a small town of Pluvigner with only about 7K folks. Since my birth town was even smaller , I have traveled the world always in bigger cities to come back like to the roots in a small town. However, very much alive as today there was a youth rugby festival here sponsor by BMW, and of course the European elections.

pluvigner

We set out to vote by 10h walking as we live not far from city center and the voting hall. This is always at the Salle Marie-J. Le Borgne right after the cemetery.  May 26 Sunday , today is an important day that might shape the future of Europe as France is heavily counting on staying close rank and banner country for the European Union. Whether against or for it, it is the one thing that have kept Europe at peace.  I did my civic duty and voted, may the best win, and remember democracy is the rule of the mayority with the rights of the minority; so be it.

pluvigner

pluvigner

As I walked with my sons and our dog Rex,(he had a blast) , we sometimes forget the nice we have and seldom past by it unless needed ,as the urge is always to go out, not shabby either if you have been kept with my posts on the Morbihan, plenty of nice things to see here. As I have said many times ,Hemingway felled short when he describe Paris as a movable feast, he should had travel more into the country side of France! As France is a movable feast!

We past by the city center/downtown Place Saint Michel and Place de la Placen all along rue Gén de Gaulle. And into the rue Maréchal Leclerc and back on the Route de Bieuzy . In passing we saw again our emergency convenience story Proxi, the Poste or post office building very much in use by us international globettroters , the city/town hall with its nice garden, the pharmacy , a must stop for my father’s medicines as he suffers from diabetes.

pluvigner

pluvigner

pluvigner

pluvigner

We check the new electric meter counter installed recently and my consomption is now less by 36 euros per month!! great!!! I always like to look at our eyeglasses store Optic 2000 which occupies a very nice building in city center/downtown. And of course our voting place.  Not to ever forget the wonderful Church of Saint Guigner belltower. Saint Guigner is the one who came here from the islands (UK) back in the 400’s and the town carries his name as Plu is breton for parish, and vigner is a contraction of Guigner so the parish of Saint Guigner became, Pluvigner or in Breton  Pleuwigner !

pluvigner

pluvigner

And so it goes our Sunday now home getting ready for that special barbecue cook out and some cold beers or wine depend on the mood was ready to eat, my boys take cares of the grill and I put the drinks. Life goes on, we do not even want to mention but I must that today is Mother’s Day in France as well. Unfortunately we do not have one now, they are at sea ,and I believe their spirit is guarding us and helping us as we go along in life. Happy Mother’s Day for those celebrating.

We come to another blog ends, there are over 2100 for me now a wonderful experience thanks so much to readers like you, and I appreciated very much. Enjoy your Sunday!

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

 

 

May 22, 2019

The Ciders of Brittany, II

On a still sunny day in my neck of the woods Vannes and also at Paris, I like to update a previous post I did in my blog on the ciders of Brittany. This is as close as you can come to call it the drink of the Bretons (except maybe beers) and we love it. Of course, I need to add nothing new to me as have been drinking ciders since birth all from Asturias Spain. Later on got into Norman cider , a competitor lol! and lastly as living here in Brittany have taken to the Breton ciders , especial all on their own. Let me tell you a bit more on them.

Well, we do drink beers and have some good ones (see previous posts), and wine (not from present day Brittany) but not really; the original to go alone with the galettes and crêpes is the cider of Brittany. We love it and buy by the case ::)

Let me tell you a bit about them, as they can differed a bit from areas within Brittany, and we drink mostly those in the Morbihan dept 56. You can find out about the Breton ciders here: http://www.lescidresbretons.com/maison-cidricole-de-bretagne_actualite.htm

An organization especialising about those in Finistére dept 29 is here: http://www.cidref.fr/les-cidreries

And to locate a good cider distillery you can look here: http://www.lescidresbretons.com/cartographie/cartographieV2.swf

Now some background onto them:

The designation Appellation Cidre de Bretagne or Cidre Breton is a protected geographical area such as a Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP) since 2000.  According to the Union Nationale Interprofessionnelle Cidricole, the Breton ciders are characterized by a variant color from straw yellow to tainted or woody brown  according to the varietal composition and the terroir (site of cultivation of apples). Now , you can reach when done thru here: http://www.cliaa.com/pagec.php?interpro=62

The variety Guillevic label rouge given since 2000 is done using apples of the Guillevic variety only, pure juice ,not gasified not adulterer and non pasteurized.  It is produce in my area of the Morbihan and it is with a soft acidic flavor and aromas of fresh fruit, flowers, and exotic fruits like pineapples. The body is pale yellow, with green reflects, crystalline with fine persistent bubbles.

The Breton Cider is serve in cups of terracotta shiny smooth call Bolées ,small bowls with handle or without and the form in cylindrical style. You have Cidre doux or sweet with less than 3 degrees alcohol, Cidre Demi-Sec or half dry with alcohol between 3-4 degrees and the Cidre Brut with alcohol of 4 degrees or more usually 5,5 degrees.

The production of fermented apples is known in Brittany since the 8C. In the 12C several varieties of apples from Spain (I started drinking the ciders of Asturias Spain !) were grafted with local varieties to improved their concentration of tannins and the conservation of ciders.  Until the end of the 19C the harvest of apples and the cider production was very loose and the price varies in the same proportions according to the harvest of apples, the offer and the quality. Brittany produces 40% of all cider consumed in France with the biggest producers located in a radius of 60 km around the city of Rennes, representing 84% of the volume in Brittany. Also, in addition, you have about 70 artisans local producers in farms that gives a different twist to this wonderful drink.  The legend has seven large ciders in Brittany, on the terroirs of the Nantais country, the country of Rennes, Redon, the Val-de-Rance, the Goëlo, the Guillevic and Cornouaille. We only build a legend on great stories, and the cider of the 21C is a Breton one.

As to the production and apples we have plenty to tell, to condense here it is.

The first ciders arrive in the market early October coming from the region of Dol (Dol de Bretagne) ; the farmers from the marshes kept this tradition to collect the apples early. It is a cider doux, acidic, very nice to the taste on drinking but needs early drinking. The varieties of apples are the rouget de Dol and rouget blanc, bit apples. It was sold like table apples in England and Germany.

In Ille-et-Vilaine dept 35, was for long the biggest producer of cider apples in France; and the areas of the basins of Rennes and Vitré  still are the region with the biggest production.  The ciders here are generally light, acidic low in alcohol and nice bouquet.  The varieties are the bedan rouge aigre, marguerite and gilet rouge.  Before ,this region exported part of its apples to Germany for apple juice.

Along the valley of the Rance , and around Dinan the cru call  “de Pleudîhen” is more acidic and stronger than that of Rennes.  The varieties are  the Jeanne renard, chevalier jaune, and marie menard.  The land is more granitic, and the arable land less deeper and less rich than on the basin of Rennes given apples less stronger, fruits richer in sugar,and a density on the must higher.  The Valley of the  Rance has always been a rich region of cider apples and exported the ciders to other areas of Brittany such as Léon  and Trégor, where varieties stronger and good conservation are harvest such as the richarde, vallon, and toupie etc.

The more we go west, the more the crus are acidic and less apples to mix with. The region of Vannes is an exception.  Here is the base for the guillevic variety that only use alone a doux, acidic well perfume and average alcoholic. In the south of the Finistére dept 29, in the apple orchards of Quimperlé they mix the acidic varieties in  Clohars-Carnouët, Moëlan-sur-Mer, Pays Bigouden ,and Fouesnant . The crus are known for their strong color and acidic taken from their varietals such as Chuero briz, c’huero ru and kermerrien. In the north of the Finistére , you have it is not much cultivated and import their apples from the east of the Côtes-d’Armor (dept 22) such as  Dinan, Plancoët, and Matignon. The basin of Fougères produces a lot of apples but do not give a cru well done.

Now we try many in the various restaurants we go to or crêperies but the ones we do buy for home and like the best are in Morbihan dept 56:

Distellerie de Gorvello in Sulniac, the Tradition brut, more here: http://www.distilleriedugorvello.fr/

Sulniac

The musée du cidre in Le Hézo but nice cider on the spot produce, more here: http://museeducidre.com/

The Cidrerie du Golfe , at Arradon, more here: http://la-cidrerie.fr/crbst_7.html

Cidrerie Nicol at Surzur, more here: https://www.cidres-nicol.bzh/

Cidrerie des Terroirs at Colpo: more here: https://www.cidreriedesterroirs.fr/

You get the idea , it is drank a lot and especially when a good galette or crêpe do not make the mistake of eating them with wine, beer is an exception, but a cider is a must.

The Tourist office of Brittany has more in English: Ciders of Brittany

Enjoy the Ciders of Brittany , is as local as you can get , get them while they last, traditions are important. Drink in moderation of course, but drink lol!!!

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

May 22, 2019

Some news from France, CCXXXI

And back at you with my regular some news from France posts; thank you for reading and hoping always you can use it and enjoy it. We have summer weather here in France with sunshine and 20C in my neck of the woods Vannes or about 70F; while in Paris we have the same sunshine and 69F. As many friends and family tells me now time to enjoy the beach, oh yeah I still work here lol!!!

And now let me give something to rant about at least me. The landscape changes of Paris will be detrimental to continue holding the No 1 most visited city in the world if the continuing changes do follow up. The latest is again on restrictions.

In 2024, Parisians will be able to cross the Seine river on foot!, from Trocadero to the Eiffel Tower. The surroundings of the monument will be transformed into a huge garden, according to the project “Grand site Eiffel Tower: discovering, approaching, visiting” launched by the city mayor’s office back in January 2018. And the questions are beginning to come in, where are going to drive a car? On both sides of the Pont d’Iéna, at best motorists hesitate to take the project seriously, at worst they are criticize it as “a new anti-car charge of the Mayor of Paris! On the other hand, on the sidewalks of the bridge, looks and cameras pointed at the Eiffel Tower, phones in selfie mode and bus tickets in hands, most passersby rejoice. Normal, it is the visitors of the Eiffel Tower, dumped by tourist buses or by the Parisian Metro!!. One local explained “In this neighborhood the sidewalks are wide enough for people to circulate quietly, there are already many pedestrian facilities, cyclists etc! I myself have been cycling for 10 years, and there are bike paths 3 times wider than car lanes. Traffic becomes very difficult especially for merchants, and for all those who need the car, they should not be forgotten!”.

This is the impressive project unveiled this past  Tuesday in the late afternoon by Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, who will literally disrupt the Trocadero landscape at the école Militaire passing through the Pont d’Iéna to be soon vegetated and very much pedestrian,  and of course the Champ-de-Mars and the Eiffel Tower. Kathryn Gustafson, is the architect whose project was selected this past Tuesday by the tender Commission, among the 4 finalists projects. This American landscaper,  who studied at the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Paysage de Versailles ! will draw and rethink 50 ha in the heart of Paris. Place du Trocadéro, no more roundabout around the equestrian statue of Marshal Foch. The cars will circulate in double direction on the outer part. New bleachers in the central open ground on the Parvis will offer both 12 000 seats and a view of the tower. The Parvis des Droits de l’Homme ( human rights square)  remains unchanged, but below, again, the gardens of Chaillot will be transformed by bleachers that will stretch all along the basin and water games. A set of kiosks and harmonized booths will offer souvenirs, treats and information. The place de Varsovie ( Warsaw) will be totally reserved for pedestrians. The Pont d’Iéna will be, between 2021 and 2023, totally wooded and planted with lawns. Only public transport and emergency vehicles will pass through the existing lanes instead of the current sidewalks. Quai Branly, in the direction of Bir-Hakeim, the cars will be relegated to the tunnel. On the surface, a track at 20 km/h will allow the passage of cars in the opposite direction. Another one will be reserved for buses. Objective: to facilitate the crossing by pedestrians from the quay to the Eiffel Tower. The place Joffre will also have to be reviewed. To this is added a continuous walk to Bir-Hakeim, creations of luggage storage, requalification of the kiosks, highlighting of the site… All this is planned, in a first phase, for the 2024 Olympics. At the Pavillon de l’Arsenal, visitors will be able to discover them and project themselves in the 4 pedestrian projects that have been proposed. Two virtual reality helmets will be made available. Info: 21 Boulevard Morland 4éme. Free exhibition, from Tuesday to Sunday from 11h to 19h. Guided tours on Saturdays and Sundays at 17h. More info on Paris mayor’s office in French here : https://www.paris.fr/actualites/un-appel-a-projets-pour-reamenager-la-tour-eiffel-5397

Until 2 September 2019, the children’s Gallery of the Centre Pompidou proposes to learn about the practices of prehistory in contemporary fashion.  It welcome children with animators and guides. From 4 years old. Centre Pompidou 4éme, Children’s Gallery, open from 11h  to 19h daily except Tuesday. Accessible with the entrance ticket, in connection with the exhibition “Prehistory, a modern enigma”. Rates: 11-14€.  More info here : https://www.centrepompidou.fr/en/Visit/Exploring-as-a-family

It is a large-scale restoration that has just begun at the Church of St. Louis de lÏle 4éme). The work in this church is expected to be completed in spring 2022. Know that worship and concerts continue to be assured. The restoration of the Spire, a steeple in stone of 18C, is one of the main points of the construction site which includes the renovation of facades and stained glass windows.  More on the Church here: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71200/Eglise-Saint-Louis-en-l-Ile

Marnes-la-Coquette is decidedly a separate town. The least populated town of the Hauts-de-Seine (dept 92) attracted the greatest. In the early 1950’s, Jean Marais (famous French actor, director, writer, painter, sculptor, Potter and stunt man.) built a house on one level, where he lived from 1954 to 1971. Today, this house is for sale for 4.95 M €. At the time when Jean Marais bought the land, there was already a 19C hunting lodge Pavilion that has been renovated into a pool house. There is also a beautiful vegetable garden with cultivated greenhouses and vines of the 19C. The hero of the cloak and dagger films, Peau d’âne and Fantômas, also welcomed Jean Cocteau (Famous French poet, graphic designer, draughtsman, playwright and filmmaker). in his walls.   However, my passing to work by this town made me stop for the most important element here, the Memorial de l’Escadrille Lafayette (monument erected in memory of the volunteer American aviators engaged in WWI).More info on them here: https://www.marnes-la-coquette.fr/la-decouverte-de-notre-village/visites-et-promenades/le-memorial-de-lescadrille-la-fayette/

It is an exceptional heritage site but still little known. Built near Crépy-en-Valois in the 14C, the Donjon de Vez (Dungeon)  re-opens this past Monday with many novelties designed to seduce a wider audience. The Dungeon of Vez is the name usually given to the Castle of Vez, a 14C castle located in Vez in the Department of Oise (60). The Dungeon itself was built between 1390 and 1410 by Jean de Vez and probably his brother-in-law Robert of St. Clair, himself having remained  without descendants. It never belonged to Louis D’Orléans or a member of his family, but Jean de Vez was his Chamberlain and evidently appealed to an architect of the Royal or Ducal entourage. The pentagonal plan Dungeon has four livable floors, and its only defensive elements are its machicolations at the edge of the summit terrace. It is located on the edge of a large walled enclosure, partly contemporaneous, in the posterior part, and built on older foundations. In its center, there is a chapel of the same time as the castle and the ruin of the house from the years 1360/1390. In addition, exhibitions of modern and contemporary art are regularly organized such as sculptures, paintings and stained glass. More info here: https://www.donjondevez.com/

Musée des beaux-arts de Dijon or fine arts museum .Installed in this Palace of the Dukes and the States of Burgundy since 1799, the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts sweep a large period, from antiquity to the 19C. Renovated architecture, wider exhibition space (4 200 m2) and scenography more readable to rotate the approximately 130 000 works of the permanent collection. Not to mention the exhibition of the now local  Dijonais Yan Pei-Ming around the emotions. Located at 1, rue Rameau. More info here : https://musees.dijon.fr/exposition-yan-pei-ming-homme-pleure-17-mai-23-septembre

Moutarderie Fallot or Fallot mustard shop .It is one of the emblems of Burgundy, whose seed was historically cultivated in coal clearings. To become acquainted with the making of this condiment, the historical mustard Edmond Fallot proposes, in partnership with the tourist office, workshops of 1h15 to apprehend the manufacture and even realize its own mixture, to flavor according to its tastes. Tuesdays and Sundays, 11h  and 17h. 10€ admission, located at  16, rue de la Chouette .More info here : https://www.fallot.com/en/

The architect Philippe Maidenberg’s project for this hotel in the 2éme arrondissement of Paris, the 123 Sebastopol Hotel, as based on a film script: to succeed in associating in the same place, a Director, Claude Lelouch, a Screenwriter, Danièle Thompson, actors, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Agnès Jaoui, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Elsa Zylberstein and a famous film music composer, Ennio Morricone… In the sixth fl (7 US), the universe is dedicated to Jean-Paul Belmondo, boxing atmosphere, gym, punching-ball; black and white rooms for Claude Lelouch on the fifth floor, blue for Danièle Thomson in the fourth, with a room inspired by La Boum. Improbable ties and moustache for the third floor, framed like paintings, evoking the main character incarnate by Jean-Pierre Bacri in the  Le Goût des autres (taste of others). The rooms on the floor imagined by Elsa Zylberstein evoke the world of dance under the eye of Gena Rowlands and John Cassavetes, whose portraits were chosen. When on the floor of Maestro Morricone, a decoration based on music, including a master score reproduced in giant format on the wall. Last cinematic touch: the entrance is done by pacing a red carpet. From 160€ for two, including breakfast . More info here: https://en.astotel.com/hotel/123-sebastopol-en/overview

Are you tired of having to go back to Uber(especial us locals)  because you missed the last subway and the night-time is coming in an hour? That should cheer you up: the Parisian Metro will be open all night from September 2019. For the time being, the test will take place one night a month, for 6 months. We already know the days concerned: Saturday 14 September, Saturday 12 October, Saturday 9 November, Tuesday 31 December, Saturday 11 January, Saturday 8 February and Saturday 7 March. The Metro will operate nonstop from Saturday to 5h30 until midnight Sunday night. But beware; experimentation does not concern all metro lines! Only lines 1, 2, 5, 6, 9 and 14 are affected. The T3 and T2 tram will also be part of the game. And be vigilant on your night trips by Metro, because not all stations will be serviced.  More info check RATP here : https://www.ratp.fr/en/horaires-metro

From 22 May to 15 September, the Petit Palais celebrates Paris. More than 600 work, whether paintings, sculptures, costumes or even furniture, are gathered to honor the city of light during the romantic years. From the fall of Napoleon in 1815 to the revolution of 1848, these years represent a great period of founding the identity of Paris. The direction of the exhibition is made through various neighborhoods and iconic places of Paris, from Notre-Dame to the Latin Quarter and through the Palais-Royal. Very great artists are exhibited at the Petit Palais for this trip in romantic Paris. The works of Delacroix, Girodet, Chassériau, Préault or even Barye and many others are to be found at this exhibition, very Parisian and very complete. Paris Romantique, 1815-1848. Petit Palais ; Avenue Winston Churchill 8éme. More info here : http://www.petitpalais.paris.fr/expositions/paris-romantique-1815-1848

The French Opera was started at the beginning of the reign of king Louis XIV. Stemming from the Court Ballet in vogue under the last Valois and Italian Opera introduced in France by Cardinal Mazarin, it is in the ambiguous relationship between the affirmation of a national ambition and the aspiration to a transalpine model that is created the first Opera Academy in 1669. This exhibition celebrates the 350th anniversary of the first French lyric scene through a course that traces the activity of this institution, from the time of the Sun King to the French revolution.  The exhibition course revolves around 130 pieces, mostly from the collections of the BnF (national library of France) and the national archives. Manuscripts, drawings of costumes and projects of decorations are attached, among other things, to describe the process of impregnation of the Italian culture by the performing arts in France. The national and international influence of this great institution is also at the heart of the exhibition. Start: May 28, 2019 end: September 1, 2019. Bibliothèque-musée de l’Opéra , Palais Garnier, 8 rue Scribe. More info here : https://www.bnf.fr/fr/opera

There you go enjoy my belle France and sublime Paris. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

 

 

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May 22, 2019

How about those European beers!

Ok lack of imagination for titles on my post well you know me by now… I like to tackle a special subject that can be travel related too. I if reading my blog very much into wines , collector, drinker, and amateur lover of the grapes and my god Bacchus ! Certified connasseur by France and Spain. However, I do indulge in other drinks such as beers.

For a friendly chat or apéro as we call it in France, sort of a happy hour US or after work UK, we tend to dwell into beers for the better and quicker conversation lol! Over the years I have appreciated them more and more and by now in my home we tend to divide the subject depending on the type of food we are going to serve. A barbecue of course it is always beers!  Therefore, let me write something on my favorite beers, as have done in the past with those of Brittany and others in my blog. Other than Breton, like the Duchesse Anne triple as the French do not know beers , sorry!!! we drink Belgians, Irish, or German beers at home and at bars. Of course, while in Spain , we do drink the beers there but only our favorite from Madrid Mahou. Lately, we have been trying Czech beers too lol!!!

Pluvigner

Belgian beers are among the most varied and the most numerous beer collections in the world. They vary from the very popular “pils” to the exclusively Belgian appellations of lambic (spontaneous fermentation), old brunette, red beer or raw beer through the famous Trappists! and other Abbey or seasonal beers.  Since 2016, Belgian beer has been inscribed in the intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO under the title: beer cultivation in Belgium.

The Guild of the Brewers of Bruges saw the day in 1308, that of Liège in 1357 and that of Brussels in 1365. In the 16C, the “Maison de l’Arbre d’Or” (house of the golden tree) on the Grand-Place in Brussels was bought by the Brewers from the upholsterers. Restored in 1638, the Brewers ‘ House was destroyed during the bombing of Brussels by Marshal Villeroy in 1695. Rebuilt between 1698 and 1707, it is embellished in 1749. After the abolition of the corporations, it was sold as a State property in 1793 under the French occupation. A bit of more recent history, in 1934: the monks of Westmalle brew the first triple, yes! In 1954, the House of Brewers on the Grand Place of Brussels becomes a corporatist house. In addition to the Brewers Guild and the Chevalerie du Fourquet, it houses a brewery museum in the basement (yes very nice). In  2007, was the creation of the Belgian family brewers label bringing together the family Breweries of more than 50 years of existence.  In 2008,  InBev merges with the American brewer Anheuser-Busch. Anheuser-Busch InBev is thus created and maintains its position as a world leader.

Authentic Trappist product at the moment, and six are located in Belgium: West-Vleteren, Westmalle (yes!) , Achel, Rochefort, Orval and Chimay (yes!). We know the doubles of the Trappist abbeys, but also the Sint Bernardus Pater, Maredsous (yes!)  and the Witkap Dubbel. The white beers, this type of beer, aged 400 years ago, had disappeared in the  1950’s, but was revived by Pierre Celis in his brewery in Hoegaarden.

Belgium beers webpage on tourism of beers

pluvigner

Guinness  is a dark Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James’s Gate, Dublin, Ireland, in 1759. It is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide, brewed in almost 50 countries, and available in over 120.  The acquisition in 1986 of Distillers company, a Scottish group, including the brands of Johnnie Walker, Ballantine’s or Chivas Regal whiskies. Guinness PLC disappeared in 1997, the date of the creation of the company Diageo PLC by merger-acquisition with Grand Metropolitan.

The Guinness is a stout, a black beer topped with white foam, known worldwide for its flavor and its special appearance. Guinness is strongly linked to the history of Ireland; it is one of the symbols at the international level. The brand uses a Celtic harp such as that of Brian Boru or Trinity College as part of its visual identity. This 14C harp model is one of the traditional symbols of Ireland since the reign of Henry VIII in the 16C. Guinness used the harp as a symbol in 1862 and then as a logo deposited in 1876. However, it is reversed compared to that of the national coats of arms.

This beer is a stout, a type of beer of high fermentation from the beers porter that became famous in the 18C in London. It’s almost black brown color (but which is actually deep red; to be seen in the light) comes from the use for its design of highly roasted malts and roasted barley grains. The cream-colored foam layer that caps the beer is the result of a nitrogen addition during the draught . This latter characteristic poses the difficulty of obtaining an identical flavor and texture between the Guinness pressure and those sold in bottles and cans. In 2016, under the pressure of vegans, Guinness modifies its ancestral recipe; it renounces to use the traditional fish-native bladders to filter and lighten its beer and now uses a new filtration process. their beers are now Vegan

The Guinness draught is the flagship variety of the Guinness range; it is also the best-selling beer in Ireland. The extra stout is a separate range within the Guinness range of beers. Stronger, more “corsed”, with more pronounced bitterness, the extra stout is also exported abroad under the name foreign extra stout.

Official Guinness and its beers

Diageo corporate owner of Guinness

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The German beer (we drink most) originates in the high Middle Ages. For centuries, beer has been part of German culture and gastronomy, and the country is studded of Bierpalast (“beer Palace”), Biergarten (“beer garden”), Bierstube (“Brasserie”), Bierkeller (“beer cellar”), Bierhaus (“house beer “) and Bierzelt (” beer tent “) found at the many beer festivals.  In Germany there are a large number of types of beers but the immense success of the pilsener  dominating 70% of the market eclipsing many regional varieties, apart from the export and the Weissbier which occupy about 10% of the internal market.

In 736 in Geisenfeld in Bavaria, there is a mention of a fermented beverage based on barley. In 766, mention was made of the oldest beer delivery from Geisingen to the Abbey of St. Gallen (Switzerland). In 974, the first brewing authorization was given by the Emperor Otto II of the Holy Roman Empire to the Church of Liège (Belgium).

The Thuringian have a document of 1434 (Wirtshausgesetz) written in Weißensee, which states the only ingredients allowed: water, barley, hops. Decrees in Regensburg in 1453 or Landshut in 1493 prohibit any aromatization except that of hops. In 1842 also arrives from Bohemia, the pilsener which was to be immediately successful.

During the recasting of the Biersteuergesetz in 1993, the rules of the former are maintained as a preliminary law of beer and the tax provisions transferred. Now the regulation on the eligible ingredients is no longer valid only for the production of beer in Germany for the German market. Imported beer is not subject to these regulations; and German Brewers can also escape if they produce for export, unless they receive exemptions for special beers. Now the beers still adhering to its principles are classified among the traditional Lebensmittel (“traditional foods”) and protected also by European decree. The Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law)  is in fact the longest existing law ensuring the food quality of a product for health.

The German beers are legally classified according to their densities: Einfachbiere (“simple beers”) , Schankbiere (“consumer beers” at pressure), Vollbiere (” “complete beers”) , representing more than 90% of the production, Starkbiere (‘ strong beers ‘) or Bockbiere .  To which are added two genres apart: Lückenbiere, all beers banned before 1993 under the classification of the time ; Biermischgetränke, variegated drinks or cocktails based on beer and fruit juice, aroma or energizing. The beers are also classified by type or style so very many!

Centrally and industrialized in the North, breweries are more artisanal and more localized in the South. Only Bavaria contains half of the 1 300 breweries in the country and 4 000 of the 5 000 beer brands produced. The largest concentration of breweries in the world is located next to Bamberg, in the upper Franconia region of Bavaria. The Weihenstephan Abbey founded in 725 holds the oldest brewery still in operation (since 1040).  In 2004 Oettinger dethrone Krombacher (my favorite!) from the top of the biggest breweries

Since 1810, the Oktoberfest has been the largest party in the world for two weeks in Munich. Beer consumption here reaches its peak; there are only doses of one liter. Almost as well known and famous in Germany, the Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart is also a huge festival. The Deutschen Bieres Tag (“German beer day”) is celebrated on April 23rd since 1994 in honor of the famous Reinheitsgebot law.

Popular beers of Germany webpage

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Czech beer has a long and complex history. The first known brewery in the region dates back to 1118. The city of Brno had been recognized for brewing rights as early as the 12C, while the two cities traditionally associated with Czech beer namely Plzeň and České Budějovice, have had a brewery since the 13C. The history of modern beer in the Czech regions (Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia) dates back to the creation of the Pilsner Urquell in 1842 which revolutionized the brewing industry. Previously, Bohemia was famous for its wheat beers, known in Czech under the term “světlé pivo” (light beer), the equivalent of the German “weissbier” or the Belgian “witbier”. Most of the large and medium-sized cities owned at least one brewery. But the largest breweries were in České Budějovice , Plzeň , and Prague. Important breweries were also found in the towns of Rakovník, Žatec  and Třeboň.

The two most famous (and most exported) Czech beer brands are Pilsner Urquell, the first and archetype of Pilsner beers and Budweiser Budvar . Other major brands include Bernard, Gambrinus, Krušovice, Radegast, Starobrno, Staropramen, Velkopopovický Kozel and Svijany. Budweiser beer produced in the Czech Republic (founded in 1795 and having begun exporting to the United States in 1871); American Bud produced in the United States since 1876. A verdict of the European Court of Justice of July 2010 stipulates that Budweiser beer has the exclusive use of the Budweiser brand throughout the European Union. Its a case of the little country devasted by wars vs the big giant marketing and immigration power.

According to the Czech law, beers are divided into the following categories, regardless of their style and colour: Lehké, a light beer that stands at 8 ° Výčepní, a table beer that is between 8 ° and 10 °  Ležák, a classic Lager beer which is between 11 ° and 12.99 ° premium, for beers exceeding the threshold of 13 °. Originally, Pilsner just meant that the beer was breated in Plzeň. By extension, the term now refers to a pale and hoppy Lager beer. The Czech Beer Festival in Prague is the largest beer Festival in the Czech Republic and is held for 17 days each year in May!. It is possible to taste more than 70 different brands of Czech beers. The Pilsner festival is a two-day beer festival held each year in October by the Pilsner Urquell brewery in Plzeň.

Original Czech beers webpage

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And there you, actually the main beer producing and historical countries in the world. We just take a few of their beers for personal and family enjoyment, drink in moderation ,it is all for fun as well as keeping the traditions! However, the beers of Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic are all very good indeed!!! Hope you can enjoy them too.

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

 

 

 

 

May 21, 2019

The Fest-Noz of Brittany!

Ok so this is a traditional local Breton music sang and dance all over here on all major events. It is part of the Celtic Breton culture and you cannot avoided. I got into it as love all that is historical cultural traditional and it is a lot of fun indeed.  I have been asked to write something about it and I went back to newspaper articles and Fest Noz sites translating them and this is what I came up with. Hope you enjoy and you too be intrique about trying it, I said , its a lot of fun! The Fest-Noz of Brittany or the bal festival of Bretagne!

A Fest-Noz is a Breton word meaning “night party”, as opposed to Fest-Deiz for “day party” , and is a type of revivalist festivity, essentially a ball, invented in the 1950’s in the center of lower Brittany , essentially the Haute-Cornouaille, with the aim of recreating the festive gatherings of the peasant society which punctuated the days of collective works and which disappeared in the 1930’s. During the   1970’s , thanks to the folk movement, in particular the effect Alan Stivell from 1972 onwards, the festoù-Noz are no longer confined to the center of Brittany.

The Fest-Noz is part of the peasant of the old tradition still well alive in the late 1920’s and in some places like Maël Carhaix, Rostrenen, etc until around 1935, to fall into disuse throughout the late 1930’s. These were, on the one hand, the members of the Celtic circles, eager to have fun outside of their scenic obligations, on the other the former still well-valid peasants who animated the first Festoù-Noz new way, a time baptized “Breton balls” in its urban form. They take all the traits of balls: entrance fee, open to all audiences, musicians and singers advertised by display, elevated stage, refreshment bar with red-lemonade and Champagne Breton.

Loeiz Ropars organizes the first competition of Kan Ha Diskan in 1954 in Poullaouen, whose popular success exceeds expectations. In 1955, he organized his first Fest-Noz in a dance hall in Poullaouen, after the second singing competition. This historic evening, marks both the return to tradition and the adaptation to the new conditions of social and economic life . The singers concur in the room, on a separate stage of the dancers, in front of a microphone. These also provide the first recordings of Kan Ha Diskan, made by the first Breton record company Mouez Breiz. The first urban Fest-Noz was held in Quimper in 1958, under the name of Bal Breton. From the beginning of the 1970’s, Alan Stivell, who obtained recognition nationally and internationally, popularised Breton music and dance practiced in Fest-Noz on a large scale. Today, the dancers are looking for the pleasure of dancing in groups to share a privileged moment, all together. In a way, participate in a large-sized Fest-Noz as it often organizes in close proximity to the big cities Breton gets closer to a nightclub outing, see it as a musical trance.

There are hundreds of traditional dances, the most famous of which are: the Gavottes, the L’An Dro, the Hanter-Dro, the Laridé, the Plinn, the Kost ar C’hoat, etc. During a Fest-Noz, it is practice dances in chains or in rounds as everyone stands by hand and arm, couple dances, and dances to figures, such as the Jabadao or the many avant-deux of upper Brittany. The dances of lower-Brittany are most often arranged in two or three dances: thus, for example, the Gavotte-Bal-Jabadao follows characteristic of the lands of the south of the Cornouaille. You must dance the complete sequence with the same partner.

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The music that can be heard in these festivals is three types: a cappella song, Kan Ha Diskan, accompanied singing, or purely instrumental music. Beyond the traditional instruments, there are nowadays groups with a wide variety of tendencies, from rock, jazz like Diwall, Skeduz, and Roll Ma Yar.etc to punk like the Les Ramoneurs de Menhirs , and mixes from all countries. Stringed instruments such as violin, double bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and bass guitar , as well as North African percussion have long been adopted to animate the Festoù-Noz, there are usually several groups that follow each other on stage, sometimes in the dance. A Bagad, a solo musician or a band is also commonly encountered. At the end of Fest-Noz, it is not uncommon for musicians and singers to make together an ox: a few pieces in a more or less improvised way, with a possible participation of musicians present in the audience.

The main webpage for these festivities and event scheduling is the Tamm Kreiz, here: http://www.tamm-kreiz.bzh/

From May 25 2019 in the context of the Festival of Brittany, the organization Emglev Bro Gwened organizes an event of magnitude on that Saturday under the umbrella of the festival FEST TI AR VRO, with groups likeBoullig Ruz, David Pasquet trio, Korriganed, Tam Glaz, and the Celtic Cercle of Vannes will perform.  Festival of Brittany or Fête de la Bretagne

The association that is organising the main events of the Festival of Brittany is the Tiarvro-Bro-Gwened  (in Breton Vannes the capital city of the Morbihan dept 56 is call Gwened) more on them here: Breton traditions association in Vannes Tiarvro Bro Gwened

Different Fest Noz in the Morbihan dept 56:  https://www.fest.fr/agenda/morbihan/fest-noz-et-fest-deiz

the tourist office of the Gulf of Morbihan area on traditional festivities here: https://www.golfedumorbihan.bzh/accueil/a-faire/agenda/fetes-traditionnelles

UNESCO world heritage info on the Fest Noz in English: UNESCO on the Fest Noz

And one that I locally participated in Pluvigner 2016 Fest Noz youtube video

Another youtube video from the Fete d’Arvor festivities of Vannes which are again coming up see my post on Some news from Bretagne in my blog.

And I hope you do try it , very nice family gathering and fun for all. The Fest Noz of Brittany unique gift to the world of inner France, in the Breton lands!

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

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