Archive for June, 2019

June 30, 2019

Vaux-le-Vicomte, when a King is jealous !

When a King is jealous alright, this is a marvelous castle often overlook for lack of leaving Paris proper by most visitors. However, it is highly recommended.  To say the least been here many times as it is in my spouse’s region, and it was one of the first properties visited when coming annually to France since 1990. Let me tell you a bit more on the Castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte!

vaux le vicomte

The castle is not name for the city, the town ,village we better describe it is call Maincy postal code 77950 with a population of about 1700 inhabitants. It all became famous when the  Superintendant of Finance (from 1653)  of king Louis XIV ,Nicolas Fouquet  purchase the land of Vaux in 1641 from the inheritance of his decease wife .  In 1657, he hires the Architect Louis Le Vau to built a castle , the Painter Le Brun to do its decorations ,and the gardener Le Nôtre to create the gardens .  The talent of these man was already known to the king as they were used to do the similar work at the Chateau de Vincennes (bois de Vincennes) in 1651-1653 .When all is done, Nicolas Fouquet proudly showcase the property with a grand bal or party on August 17 , 1661, inviting the King itself and it court.

vaux le vicomte

This was the beginning of disaster for him and his castle. Not just for this castle as it is the popular story, but because Nicolas Fouquet had fraudelent used the Kings’ money for other properties as well a total of 11 millions francs for which he recognise in front of the Tribunal only 8 millions.  Immediately all these events led the King Louix XIV and his advisers figure that the embellishement and grandeur of Vaux-le-Vicomte was due to the mis used of these funds. He was ordered arrested by the king  in September 5th of 1661 with the personage of Captain D’Artagnan , yes of the muskeeteers fame, the loyal guard of the king.  He is sentenced to 15 years in prison in Italy where he died on April 3, 1680.

A bit on the architecture

The castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte represent a French feodal architecture with four buildings ,two of rectangular shape along the gardens and two square along the courtyard; it has a Rotonda, Italian style in the center room with the king’s apartement on the left and the apt for Nicolas Fouquet on the right, the central room is of an oval shape something unique for the times. First floor or ground floor you have the Salon d’Hércules,Chambre des Muses (or Fouquet) ,there is a chimney in the Salon des Jeux or games room ,the antichamber of the king is not finished! as well as the chambre du roi or king’s room , there is the dining room, and kitchen . First floor or second floor (US) you have the bedroom of Nicolas Fouquet all is original ! ,Also, the one for Mme Fouquet all made of glass, plus a cabinet room or office . There is a huge beautiful garden as you can imagine fait par Le Notre,not to miss either about 3 kms of it French style.

You,also, have a carriage museum in an adjacent building of carriages from the 19C to 20C. There is a water fountain show the second and last Saturdays of the month from about March to October, check site for exact dates as they change a bit year to year.  Also, the Saturdays from May 1 to October 9 thereabout 2000 candles are lit at night for a magnificent show of lights after 20h.  There are kids theme games, and a special masquearade party every year not to be missed if possible.

A bit on the modern history

The Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte goes thru traumatic periods of inheritances and revolutions before falling by foreclosure sale to industrialist Alfred Sommier in June 15, 1875, he renovates the castle bring back its old belonging or make due imitations of the ones existing before, and the Castle is reborn, unfortunately he died at the castle in 1908.  The castle serves as a military hospital during WWI until 1918.  The castle  is today own by Count/ comte Patrice de Vogüé that inherit it in 1968 from his father Jean de Vogüé, nephew of Edme Sommier deceased in 1945 without descendants. The Count de Vogüé has done considerable work and publicity to make this property once again royal and magnificent for all to see.

To get here by car is to best take the A5a from Paris to exit/sortie  D215 road take it direction Melun, free parking.   By train from Paris Gare de Lyon take trains direction Sens or Montereau to station at Melun, there take the chateaubus (weekends in period april to november ), or a taxi.

The webpage to get you here best is the official one at : Official Chateau Vaux le Vicomte site

Ironically, even if not in Paris, the tourist office has information in English on the castle; Tourist office of Paris on Vaux le Vicomte

Also, the Melun Val de Seine tourist office: Tourist office of Melun Val de Seine on Vaux le Vicomte

The Seine et Marne dept 77 tourist office on the castle: Tourist office of Seine et Marne dept 77 on Vaux le Vicomte

As well as the ïle de France region tourist office: Tourist office Ile de France on Vaux le Vicomte in English

There you go , now you are well arm to come and enjoy this marvel of my belle France. Near Paris, why not, see one of the most beautiful castles in France with plenty of activities year-round. Enjoy the Castle of Vaux le Vicomte at Maincy in Seine et Marne region of Ïle de France!

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

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June 29, 2019

La Forêt Fouesnant , the town and the beach!

Back at you with La Forêt Fouesnant. This is one of those lovely spot of the many in my belle France, that evenn living close and passing by close ,in fact have a picture of the church from July 2017 so we went by but  never have gone in until now, and voilà une autre merveille de mon belle France.

This is again my idea of a weekend, we do our daily lives and we set up time to see the wonderful sights of my adopted country that I call mine by now. Every trip out is a discovery in beauty, no surprise the official tourist entities in our world give it the highest ranking since 1949! I like to tell you about my Bretagne/Brittany or Breizh which is the third most visited region of France.

Now let me tell you a bit on La Forêt Fouesnant to maybe entice you to come and see it yourselves; let me know.

La Forêt-Fouesnant  is a town in the department 29 of Finistère, in the region of Bretagne. La Forêt-Fouesnant also has a marina, Port-la-Forêt, jointly with Benodet and Fouesnant. La Forêt-Fouesnant now forms the “Breton Riviera”, a new tourist destination. The town   is a seaside resort in the southern part of the Finistère, located on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, and more specifically the Bay of the Forêt, between Cape Coz (which is part of the neighboring town of Fouesnant) and Concarneau, in which uncorks the ria de La Forêt-Fouesnant.

La Foret Fouesnant

A bit of history I like

The town of La Forêt Fouenant was erected as a parish in 1851 and became common town only by law in 1873. On this occasion, the town grew its entire northern half and absorbed to the east the small parish of Locamand (or Loc-Amand) itself from a Benedictine priory awarded in 1069 to the abbey of St. Croix of Quimperlé and sold in 1623 to the Jesuit College of Quimper before being confiscated as a national property during the French revolution and falling into disrepair. In 1872, the General Council of Finistère examined the wishes of the inhabitants of the section of La Forêt Fouesnant in a town separate from that of Fouesnant, of which it had previously been a member.

La Foret Fouesnant

Some interesting points me think to tell you, my choices.

Under the Law of Separation of Churches and State, in October 1907, the priests of the presbytery of La Forêt Fouesnant were expelled on the same day as those of Fouesnant and Benodet by sixty police agent (gendarmes) on horseback in order to enforce this law. An English aviator, James Francis John Sheridan, radio operator and machine gunner on the Beaufort No. L9807 shot down by a Me109 during an attack to the heavy cruiser of the nazi naval boat Admiral Hipper on February 15, 1941 , and he is buried in the town’s cemetery. RIP

Some of the things to see here in my opinion are( and some will need to come back myself)

The old port or Vieux port. Formerly known as the Port of Stank Al Lestreg (valley of the irises), the old port was the heart of the town’s maritime trade. Its strategic location and the importance of commercial traffic allowed the construction of docks and holds from 1850. Port-la-Forêt is the marina of the La Forêt Fouesnant , one of the largest in Brittany, sheltered by Kerleven beach and the tip of Cape Coz.

The prehistoric cairn of Kerleven (from 5000 to 3000 BC). The Church of Our Lady of Izel-Vor (lower sea in Breton), from the 16C and calvary in the parish enclosure. The Chapel of Peniti (or Penity, a penity being in the Breton language a hermitage or a small monastery), also known as St. Maudez Chapel (for St. Maudez became its the patron Saint in 1747) was built in 1723. It is located at the birth of the ria de La Forêt-Fouesnant, on its left bank, at the top of an escarpment. Mesmeur’s manor: on the left bank of the ria de La Forêt-Fouesnant, it is a classically styled mansion that dates back to the second half of the 18C, long belonging to the Family of Sylguy (Quimper’s nobility). The Stang Manor this manor, the oldest part which dates back to the 15C, was rebuilt in 1664, and remodelled in the 18C. The mansion became a national property during the French revolution and was purchased by a property dealer from Quimper, who sold it later on. Expanded several times over time, this mansion was transformed into a castle-hotel in 1937.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to La Forêt Fouesnant are

Tourist office of dept 20 FInistére on La Forêt Fouesnant

Tourist office of south Finistére on La Forêt Fouesnant

For the boat lovers and I am one, love to be in them ,cruise on them,and be by them and lucky enough to have plenty here and a long tradition of seamen of all sorts. This is the marina port lovely and all facilities for non boaters alike.

Port-La-Forêt, 3rd Marina of southern Brittany, is the most important marina of the south Finistère, in the La Forêt Fouesnant . Since its creation in 1972, it has been experiencing intense activity, welcoming more than a thousand boats. Port-La-Forêt fits rather well into the landscape and has become a mecca for sports sailing.

Tourist office of La Forêt Fouesnant on the port and ocean side

Official Port La Forêt in La Forêt Fouesnant

Official Nautical center at the port of La Forêt Fouesnant

La Foret Fouesnant

La Foret Fouesnant

And with all this water around us, why not a beach, well this is an awesome beach right at the tip of idylic Glénan islands and it is just gorgeous, we will be back for the water next month.

Kerleven Beach or Plage de Kerléven  is the large beach of La Forêt Fouesnant (1 km long). It lies at the bottom of the  Foret Bay (one of the deepest bays in southern Brittany, very well sheltered from the winds). It has very nice fine sand with a south exposure on the sun, and very flat that can be done with foot fishing and stand up padels enthusiasts. The beach is very well equipped with a supervised area in July and August, a mini sailing center, a free children’s play area and a restaurant directly on the sand which is very nice. Even if there are several campsites in the area, attendance is still reasonable even in the middle of August. Note that this bay has been subject to green algae for a few years. This beach is regularly cleaned and seaweed is collected at low tide (tractor). These algae would not be harmful provided they were picked up quickly (spreading a gas). On the other hand, be careful because it slips! We found a sparkling beach as per photo. Several accesses, the main one at the end of the road   route de Port la Forêt..

The webpages here as usual by me to help you plan are

Official tourist office of La Forêt Fouesnant on Kerleven beach

Favorite Plages tv on the beach of Kervelen

La Foret Fouesnant

And there you go another gem in our lovely Brittany, beautiful Finistére and new found paradise of La Forêt Fouesnant only 83 km (about 52 miles)  from home or about an hour easy ride. We will be back!

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

June 29, 2019

The wines of Vouvray!

And as we are in Summer and very very hot in my belle France lets talk of refreshing wines. There is a huge selection here and over the years I have narrowed it down to a select few regions and producers.  In my road warrior days in the Touraine I have been by Vouvray an exquisite wine indeed.

I like to tell you a bit more on the wines of Vouvray. Here is my brief on it.

The region of Touraine is a sub region of the Loire valley and has a large known production of Pétillant and Sparklers call Mousseux done in red, white ,and rosé as well. The names are Vouvray, Vouvray Mousseux, and Vouvray Pétillant. I like them all!


Vouvray is a white wine of AOC status produced around Vouvray, in the department 37 of   Indre-et-Loire in the Centre-Val de Loire region of France. It exists above all in still wine and also in sparkling wine AOC Vouvray Mousseux, AOC Vouvray Pétillant. This vineyard is located on the right bank of the Loire river, in the middle of Touraine, east of  the city of Tours. The Vouvray appellation area covers eight towns in the   Indre-et-Loire such as Vouvray, and   the neighboring towns of Chançay, Noizay, Reugny, Rochecorbon, Sainte-Radegonde-en-Touraine (attached to Tours in 1964), Vernou-sur-Brenne , and part of Parçay-Meslay. The Vouvray vineyard was created by the monks of the Marmoutier monastery founded in 372 by Saint. Martin. During the 14C part of the wine-growing terroir of Vouvray belonged to the kings of France who made these wines serve at their table.

The AOC Vouvray was recognized by a decree of the INAO (national body that regulates the wine industry in France) in 1936 . It was a Champagne gentlement, Mr. Maurice Hamm, whose family was a native of the village of Aÿ in the vineyards of Champagne area in the department 51 of the Marne, which, before WWII, brought the Champagne method of winemaking to Vouvray. He made the still white wine from Vouvray, a world-renowned sparkling wine. The use of the Chenin as main varietal and that of Orbois (also called “menu pineau “) in accessory variety. However, it seems that the Orbois intervenes only exceptionally today in the composition of Vouvray wines.

Still white wine can be drunk in its early youth. Preserved for a few years, it will give off aromas of coing and acacia. Vinified in sparkling, the Vouvray expresses the typicality of its terroir by its lightness and finesse. A less advanced foam intake gives a pétillant wine, a local specialty. These effervescent undergo a second fermentation in the bottle. Before being marketed, these wines must lie on slats for at least twelve months The white wines of Vouvray can accompany: appetizers, cold cuts, crustaceans, fried small fish, cheeses, seafood, cakes, fish in sauce or grilled, white meats in sauce, grilled or roasted, poultry in sauce or grilled. There are many family and independent vineyards, the average structure of the farms is 16 hectares.

The best in my opinion and had a few over the years are the

Domaine Huet, L’Échansonne ,Domaine du Clos Naudin, of Philippe Foreau , Domaine des Aubuisières , Caves Rougebec (purchase at Cave de Vouvray), and the Cooperative Cave of Vouvray.

The Coop Cave de Vouvray is the cooperative of winegrowers and traditional know-how for 60 years. From this alliance are born the finest fine bubbles Vouvray and the still wines of Vouvray. The guide will accompany you through ther 3 km of cellars’ galleries and will deliver the secrets of the wine making. A commented and convivial tasting will be offered to you and you will be able to discover the shop and let yourself be tempted by the regional products and the cellar items. The Cave des Producteurs de Vouvray is located in the town of Vouvray,  about 28 km from Chenonceaux along the D140 road . This agricultural cooperative is made up of 43 AOC Vouvray winegrowers who manage around 350 hectares of vines. Different spaces: boutique space (sale and wine tasting), Cooperage Museum space (exhibition of objects + projection of a film “The four seasons of the vine”), accessible by a staircase or a gently sloping secondary access , cellars dug in the tufa – 2 km (accessible only by guided tour), hangar dedicated to disgorging and dressing of bottles, inaccessible to people in wheelchairs,but compensated by the viewing of a film in the accessible projection room.  Here you can buy from all properties at their store. The Coop is very convenient because in addition to their wines you can buy the wines of others in the area and load up home like we do!!! the coop Cellars of Vouvray webpage is here: Cave de Vouvray


Some other webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The wines of Vouvray

The wines of the Val de Loire on Vouvray

Tourist office of Montlouis, Vouvray on wineries of Vouvray

Therefore, you are now armed and dangerous to be knowledable on the wines of Vouvray and do enjoy them , they are sublime. Especially in this Summer heat going on in my belle France nowdays.

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

June 28, 2019

The wines of Tenerife!

Ok so let me tell you a bit about a loving subject of mine and my deep roots. I will spare the my story on wine as I have several posts on it in my blog. Instead, let me tell you a bit on the history and wineries of my beloved grandparents home of Tenerife.

My idea got a push from a story done on the founders of Evinate and their introduction to the wines of Tenerife in El Mundo newspaper of Madrid which I translated in a condense manner at best.

The absence of phylloxera has allowed to preserve more than 80 vine varieties, many of them endemic, nonexistent in other lands. That makes it possible to name the lucky wines. This is how Tenerife’s wine history begins. Interview with Roberto Santana does not stop responding by naming his colleagues Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos and José Ángel Martínez.  For Envínate the importance is not the years of the vineyard but the quality with which the vineyard is worked; The braided cord in La Orotava; the glasses in Vilaflor, in Güímar and in Santiago del Teide; the trellises in Ycoden; the low grapevines in Tacoronte; the free system (margullón) in Taganana … But the most important thing is that our vineyards are not born from the nursery, they are planted either from my neighbor or from the same vineyard, in this way the genetic material of each zone is the same for five centuries.

The first Canarian wine scored with 97 points in Robert Parker’s guide is Táganan parcel Margalagua 2017, The Táganan from the Margalagua plot is born in red basalt soils, it is an elegant, complex, saline, deep wine. In the limestone soils, more structured wines are born, elegant, with depth; in the vertical granite, longer than wide, with lower middle palate, direct; in basalt soils they are direct, fresh towards the end of the mouth and the wines of the sandy volcanic soil are … We have very young soils in Taganana: they are from two to three million years old. Maybe a Listán Negro grape because it is a well adapted variety and is the one that best expresses the soil in the Canary Islands and is the most widespread. More in Facebook:

So what about the wines of Tenerife? Here is some info that I enjoy telling you as a proud Guanche of Tenerife! Well a bit of history I like:

For centuries the vine is also one of the main crops of the island. The vineyard came to Tenerife with the first Europeans in the 15C,more precisely in 1497, when  the Portuguese Fernando de Castro planted the first vineyard on the soil of Tenerife, attracted by the fertility of its volcanic soils. Little suspect then that their crops would be the beginning of a whole wine culture that remains today. In 1985, the first denomination of origin was born that is granted to the island, more specifically to the wines of Tacoronte-Acentejo, which drives the wine sector in Tenerife again and since then it has become an indispensable part of its agriculture. Here it is produce wines with aromas and special flavors that are the ideal companion for the dishes of Tenerife’s cuisine. It is a question of elaborations of great typicity, result of the volcanic and atlantic character of Tenerife. The Island has five distinct wine regions: Tacoronte-Acentejo, Ycoden-Daute-Isora, Valle de la Orotava, Valle de Güímar,  and Abona. In these areas, the rich volcanic soil in which the vines are grown gives them a special character and different nuances. A special mention deserves the wine made with the Malvasia grape. Its demand during the  16-17C was incessant on the part of Europe and the main royal houses of the continent tasted it with assiduity. Even William Shakespeare or Walter Scott talked about them in some of  their works.  And many others came to taste in addition to the latter two were  Herman Melville, Lord Byron or Robert Louis Stevenson; with him they surely celebrated the victories, and tried to drown their defeats, Captain James Cook, Admiral John Jervis and the navigator Horatio Nelson. There are historians who point out that Malvasia was raised in Tenerife and not in Madeira with which Benjamin Franklin offered the signing of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America.

In Tenerife you can find different ways of growing the vine depending on the region and the type of grape. In the region of Tacoronte-Acentejo, the low parcels (0.80 mts) prevails, supported by forklifts anchored to the ground. In the Valley of La Orotava, on the other hand, highlights the laborious braid or drag system. In the Ycoden-Daute-Isora region you can find several systems, such as trellis, irregular vase or low vine, and more recently trellis cultivation. In the south of the island by Guimar  the low parcels predominates supported on pitchforks in the perimeter of the plots, while in the higher areas (such as Vilaflor, in the county of Abona, or the Pelados de Güímar) can be found crops with vase driving .

One of the keys to the success of the Tenerife wines are the different native varieties of pre-phylloxera vine that are grown on the island, which can not be found in the rest of the country. Listán Blanco, Malvasía, Gual, Albillo Criollo, Vijariego, Moscatel, Marmajuelo and Verdello are the grapes used to make white wines, while the rosés and red wines come from the Listán Negro, Negramoll and Tintilla grapes. The Malvasía grape stands out in white. It is an especially aromatic berry, one of the oldest known, and which was already used in the past to make Canarian wines so appreciated in Europe. It is a different strain to the one elaborated in the rest of Spain or in Lanzarote and reaches in these latitudes all its quality and potential of expression. The Listán Negro variety, very resistant and vigorous, is recognized by its medium size and dark color clusters, produces aromatic and fruity wines of great typicity. The Negramoll grape is also very appreciated for transferring a velvety touch to the wines.

The first wines produced in Tenerife were white. Malvasia wine production was, for several centuries, the main economic engine of the island of Tenerife. Their quality and taste made them one of the most sought-after in the world, especially in Europe: In the Old Continent, these famous wines known as Canary Sack were highly valued. Especially appreciated are the dry whites made with white varieties Listan Blanco, Albillo, Verdello etc. and even Malvasia, as well as mono-varietals either in mixture or blend  between them. Although the rosé wines of Tenerife enjoy a careful production, this is less than in the case of white and red wines.

White wines are the star of the wine production of the Valle de Güímar Designation of Origin, since they account for 80% of the production. Its color presents tones between pale yellow and straw, even golden, and is characterized by a fresh and fruity taste. The aroma of these white wines is medium intensity, with touches of fruit and fresh grass. Rosé wines are highly appreciated for their aroma of red fruits, while red wines are recognized for their earthy notes. Other varieties are the sweet wine, with hints of honey; sparkling wines with a very fine bubble and persistent crown, slightly acidic; and needle wines with notes of nuts and slightly spicy. The Valley of Güímar Designation of Origin covers the municipalities of: Arafo Candelaria and Güímar. My family background from grandparents and older generations! The denominations of origin are the best wines from the regions of Abona, Tacoronte-Acentejo, Valle de Güímar, Valle de La Orotava and Ycoden-Daute-Isora holding this distinction. They benefit from the richness of the volcanic soils of Tenerife, the excellent Atlantic climate of the island and the care and professionalism with which they are made.

Some of my best Bodegas and wines from my Tenerife are:

Bodegas Monje (the best) try their Listan Negro or Dragoblanco Seco (dry). The winery occupies 17 hectares of a beautiful estate of stony but very rich soil, fruit of the volcanic action and its strains grow on the slope of a hill facing the Atlantic Ocean, so that its grapes directly receive the sea breeze and the rays of the Sun almost permanently creating a perfect microclimate for the maturation of the strains. Visiting Bodegas Monje is an unforgettable experience because, in addition to producing magnificent wines, its structure responds to this cultural concept in the broadest sense of the word. Along with large stainless steel tanks where they ferment the wines, other artistic manifestations coexist in full harmony with the wine. More than 60 barrels of American and French oak, some with more than 200 years, alternate with scenic spaces where poetry, literature, theater or music are part of the life of the winery. There is also a fine restaurant and combi of tapas and glass of wines for tastings. More info here:Bodegas Monje


Comarcal de Guimar or  Sociedad Agrícola de Viticultores or  Agricultural Society of Viticulturists created in 1989. The winery was built in 1993 and a year later the Brumas de Ayosa and Pico Chomarcial brands were created, with a range of dry and simian, pink and red whites. The surface of the vineyards is more than 1,500 hectares, located between 200 and 1,500 meters high. Its excellent Sparkling Wines stand out. More info here:


Bodegas Insulares de Tenerife.  The winery has 660 viticultural partners from the Tacoronte-Acentejo region. The red wines or Tintos are made with the Canarian varieties Listán Negro (95%) and Negramoll (5%) The whites: the harvest is done since the end of August. They are made with the Listán Blanco variety, with soft pressing of the whole clusters. The rosés are made with the Listán Negro variety. After six hours of cold maceration, a gentle pressing is carried out. More info here:


Some further webpages to help you understand further and enjoy the wines of Tenerife are:

Casa del Vino or house of wine in Tenerife

Guia Repsol guide on the wines of Tenerife

Photos from their respective webpages. There you go ,hope you now have a grasp of the wonderful world of the Canary Islands as view from a wine enthusiast and local point of view. Enjoy the wines of Tenerife!

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

June 27, 2019

The beaches of Valencia!

And as the summer has started in my neck of the woods and even hotter in my beloved Spain why not mention the magic word=beaches! And my Spain has plenty of good ones, the ones closer to me have been always those by Valencia as well as when a boy had family near there so memories of old and came back with my boys and now more memories… The beaches of Valencia, let me tell you a bit more on them ok.

Valencia has two urban beaches of golden sand, Las arenas and the beach of Malvarrosa, which are bounded in the  south by the Port of Valencia and on the north by  the Patacona Alboraya beach. These are urban beaches, which have a large promenade where there are many large premises, which occupy old public baths, and offer a wide choice of accommodations and local cuisine. There are other beaches like those of Pinedo, with the area of the black house where the beach is nudist, of Perellonet, of Recatí and the Gola del Perello, more than 15 km of coasts of sand (protected by dunes), which constitute an offer of large beaches , in the heart of the Albufera Natural Park. A must the beaches, Malvarrosa and Las Arenas are right in the city easy. The paseo maritimo walkway is rather nice with shops and restos and of course hôtels. Plenty of activities in sandy wide beach, something to think about next time with more time.  There is a nice statue mémorial to Antonio Ferrandis a great Valencian actor.


These are the beaches of Valencia : within city limits are Las Arenas, La Malvarrosa, La Marina, Marina Beach,  and the Paseo Marítimo. The beaches around or close to the city are El Saler, La Albufera, Pinedo, Perellonet, La Devesa, and La Garrofera. For reference, in my youth I came more to El Saler and La Albufera because I stayed with my aunt at El Saler. Once coming with my boys we went more to the city beaches of La Malvarrosa, El Cabañal ,Las Arenas, and the Paseo Maritimo.


The Municipal Sports Foundation offers the possibility of practicing sports on the beach to encourage exercise and physical activity. Sports services include several modalities so that you can choose the one you most want. It offers yoga, pilates, taichi, fitness, GAP or cross training with classes taught by professional monitors and instructors. If you are interested in participating, you just have to go to the Malvarrosa information booth, at the beach volleyball facility.

But the thing does not end here, not only for its beaches is Valencia famous; also for its gastronomy. Restaurants on the beach are the busiest in the summer and present a variety of dishes to eat overlooking the Mediterranean and enjoy the scenery and Valencian cuisine flavors. Casa Isabel has been standing since 1967. Almost 50 years at the Malvarrosa beach, skimming the sand and discovering neighbors and tourists the virtues of traditional Valencian cuisine. Our favorite and recommended, webpage here:

La Malvarrosa is the first beach that we are in the city of Valencia and  is surely the best known of all and do best in my opinion. It is a long beach, almost 2 km and up to 60 meters wide in some sections, of fine sand. Its promenade, border between the beach and the city, is one of its great values, since it allows you  to enjoy a pleasant walk along the Mediterranean 12 months of the year. Currently, this wide and open beach has a very lively appearance both on the beach itself, for the amount of services it offers and on the promenade that delimits it, whose construction began in 1990, and houses restaurants and cafeterias. It has lifeguard stations and an area adapted for the swim of people with reduced mobility.


You can go to the historic fishing district of Cabanyal, where the Arenas beach awaits you. There, you can enjoy its 1,200 meters of fine golden sand, as well as the traditional restaurants that are at the beginning of the beach. Many Valencian families prefer this beach because of its easy access and communication with public transport, because we can access it by metro and bus  just like the Malvarrosa. It has all kinds of services as well as sports areas and games for children. The good temperatures of Valencia make it lively for most of the year. It is also one of the most frequented nightlife spots between the months of April and October. Its official name is Playa del Cabanyal although it is also popularly known as Playa de las Arenas due to the old beach resort of Las Arenas, a characteristic building that imitates a Greek temple, now converted into a hotel, which was a meeting place for the Valencian bourgeoisie of the late  19C and early 20C.


Again this is a bit farther from the city but well worth your time if have it. The Playa El Saler with more than 5 km long and about 35 meters wide average is one of the favorite beaches for Valencians. A cordon of dunes of great ecological value and a great extension of pine forests protect this beach, very open, which makes it an ideal place to practice sports such as windsurfing. The fact that it is very open makes it require more control over children when you go with them, although of course these have fun assured. to the west it is delimited by the marsh and the lagoon, since it is within the limits of the wonderful Albufera Natural Park (birthplace of the rice for the Paella etc).


The Natural Park of the Albufera has  21 120 hectares located just 10 km south of the city on the way to El Saler which is right on the tip of it. The park includes the Lake Albufera. Its environment is humid, and adjacent to both the coastal strip. The marshes of Rafalell and Vistabella, with an area of 103 hectares, is one of the last marshes that extends to the north of the river Turia at Alboraya Sagunto, which shoots the groundwater and the irrigation. La Horta of Valencia (vegetable garden) was born in the Roman Empire , but what is really today the Horta of Valencia was developed in the Middle Ages, during the Arabic period.  Arabs have created an extensive network of irrigation infrastructures: irrigation canals; Wells; and small dams. This network is derived from the canals of the Turia and allows to the formation of marshes carrying large amounts of water to the irrigation fields. And this produces the best rice for the Paella dish a must! The park info is here:

La Malvarrosa and Las Arenas are the urban beaches of Valencia. If you wonder the distance between Malvarrosa beach and the center of Valencia, it is approximately 6 km. Buses to Malvarossa and Arenas beaches are the lines 1, 2, 19, 20, 23, 29, 31, 32 and 95. Each has a stop along the promenade. Lines 4 and 6 tram in Valencia also reach the beaches of Valencia city stops as Dr. Lluch and Les Arenes, and lines 5, 7 and 8 Metrovalencia passing through Marítim-Serreria, nearby metro stop to the Malvarrosa Beach. Of course needs to verify updates as transpor lines and hours can change year to year. The bus networm EMT is here in English: EMT Valencia transports


Line 25. Valencia-El Palmar / El Perellonet. Departure from Valencia at: Palacio de Justicia, Calle alcalde Reig,Palacio de Justicia and El Saler beach. Hours: from 7h  to 22H. with departures every 25-35 minutes approximately. Of course you have to check the dates as this changes from summer to summer. Since distance is something, you can come by car. Autopista del Saler: V-15, CV-500 and exit of the CV-500 at the roundabout of Av. Pinedos, third exit. About 10 minutes and 11 km. Follow signs Playas El Saler beaches and there are car parkings. Above EMT serves as well here.

Some additional webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Valencia on beach conditions

Tourist office of Valencia on the beaches

Tourist office of the Community region of Valencia on the beaches

There you go just in town to avoid the canicula heat wave going on now and head for the beach, whether now or in August massive vacation time and I will be by there lol! Time permitting. Enjoy the beaches of Valencia.

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





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June 27, 2019

The beach towns of Carcans, and Hourtin!

So here I am as time is running fast and Summer and the beach time is here in my belle France. We still do not know where we are going, last minute lazy boys I guess, but we did have spent many summers on the beaches of my area and the Gironde ,specifically the Médoc. Oh yes is not just wines they make there ::)

Let me tell you  a bit more on the beach towns of Carcans and Hourtin in the Médoc peninsula of the Gironde dept 33 of the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine! And of course been beach towns, well we took personal photos, and someone was a bit shy to be in the photos!

We head for the beaches of Cancans and Hourtin as well like our playground area, crisscrossing this wonderful region, great beaches there. We love the italian ices in Cancans, and the pizza at Hourtin. Can’t missed the ice creams in Cancans Le Salon de la Glace , its right in the small city center street facing the beach at Maubuisson at 2 rue Rossignols.

They even talk about them now in this webpage Carcans-Maubissons here on the ice creams: Carcans Maubuisson on the Le Salon de la Glace

Hourtin is in the Médoc peninsula of the Gironde Department 33   in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Nestled in the heart of the immense forest of the Landes, it borders the Côte d’Argent or Silver Coast and counts on the presence of one of the largest natural lakes of France, the Lake of Hourtin and Carcans, which is also the most important of the great lakes of the Landes. Hourtin is also the 30th largest town in France by its surface area due mainly to the lakes/forest area. Part of the territory is classified as a national nature reserve, the national nature reserve of the dunes and marshes of Hourtin.


The town is 12 km from Carcans 23 km from Lacanau, 24 km from Pauillac, 37 km from Soulac-sur-Mer, 54 km from Bordeaux and 59 km from Arcachon. By it takes you about 1h30 from Bordeaux.

The present town was known until 1628 under the name of Cartignac, Hourtin being only a small hamlet of the village to the French revolution, the present town replaced the old parish of Saint-Hélène de l’Étang.

Main tourist places here are the Church of Hourtin. , the Hourtin lighthouse (phare). The Forest of the Landes. And Hourtin shares with its neighbour Carcans one of the largest freshwater lakes of France, the Lake of Hourtin and Carcans, at the edge of which is built the tourist complex of Hourtin-port.

Some webpages to help you enjoy fully wonderful Hourtin are

City of Hourtin with direction maps

Tourist office of the Medoc on Hourtin things to see

My favorite Plages tv webpage on the beaches of Hourtin

Carcans  is also located in the Médoc,as above and 50 km from Bordeaux, in the Landes. As above only 12 km from Hourtin. And as above, Carcans is a seaside resort enjoying both the Atlantic Ocean and the largest natural freshwater lake in France. It is composed of five poles: but for the visitors the main are Carcans city center or bourg; Maubuisson, with a great lake beach and water activities; the tourist resort Le Domaine de Bombannes, sports and recreation area by the Lake; and Carcans-Beach, seaside resort at the edge of the ocean.



The first historical testimony of the town dates from 1099, the year in which the Lord of Lesparre attributed to the Benedictine monks of the Abbey Sainte Croix (Holy Cross) in Bordeaux, the churches of Carcans-Lacanau and Saint-Hélène de l’Étang . Carcans is as well located on the way or Camino de Santiago de Compostela (St James) , leaving from Soulac, on the Soulac way. A 13C manuscript reveals the importance of religion in Carcans and especially the cult of St. John the Baptist. Today the main economic activity of Carcans is the seaside tourism.

Some of the remarkable tourist places here are the Moulin (mill) built at the site of what was called the Castle. The first official mention of the monument dates from 1627. The miraculous fountain of St. John quoted by Olivier de Marliave was located at the foot of the mill.

The Church of St. Martin founded in 1099, was the seat of a Priory until the 13C. At that time it was erected as a parish. Carcans was a relay for pilgrims from Santiago de Compostela coming from Saintonge. In remembrance, the Church preserves a statue of Saint James in a pilgrim’s costume dating from the 17C. From time immemorial, Saint-Martin Church was a place of pilgrimage to St. John the Baptist folks came from very far revering the head of St. John, carved in stone, of Byzantine origin of the 6C, wearing hair in horseman-work of a terrifying realism . A statue of Saint John of the 18C dominates the altar of this Saint. The present church was built in 1870 in the Neo-Gothic style; the altar of the same time is polychrome marble. The organ of the choir, of German origin, was mounted in 1971, during the restoration of the Church.

OF course, we came here for the walks on the beach side predominantly and the beach itself of course with the family is tops. Some webpages to help you plan your trip to wonderful Carcans are

City of Carcans on tourism choices

Toursit office of Medoc on Carcans things to see

My favorite Plages tv webpage on the beaches of Carcans

There you go another gem on the water of my wonderful Médoc, a lot more than world class wines (simply the best), but also, many monuments, rides, architecture,history and great beaches all along the Atlantic ocean.  Enjoy coming to Carcans and Hourtin! Hope you will like them too.

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




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June 26, 2019

Some news from France, CCXXXVI

So let me bring you back to the latest news from my belle France. This is summer here already and it shows with temps going way up. Of course, nothing to do with climate change it happened most every year since records are kept in 1711!  So says the meteo experts. I am in Brittany so the ocean waters and the peninsula environment cushions the heat where we will get to 34C in Paris they will get to 38C!  Worse tomorrow.  Right now is 27C (about 87F ) in my neck of the woods by tomorrow is expected to go to 34C (94F). In Paris, right now is about 32C (91F) tomorrow should go to 35C (95F); roughly. Not too bad it happened once in a while this year it took us in June! This time in 1990 it was 28C in Paris,, same in Versailles! And this site tells us that in 1994 in 24 and 25 June, there were temps all over of 30C with maximum of 33C in Paris.Meteo Paris on historical weather

And we Bretagne/Brittany by the sea are the only area in France to avoid the Canicule heat wave!!! Read it in French lol! 20 Minutes on the canicule to avoid in France = Brittany

Some recommendation by the France Public Health agency , some may not seen ok depending from where you are coming from….But this is intended for the French.

At first, it is important to hydrate more in case of heat wave and drink water regularly to compensate for what is lost by sweating. However, do not drink excessive amounts, as this can be dangerous.  You can wet your body, but beware of iced water. the health agency France Public Health, which advises to bring a fogger for trips by car. On the other hand, taking an icy shower is not a good idea. At the moment, cold water is good. But the body feels it more like an aggression and will struggle to maintain body temperature at 37 ° C.  Avoid going out at the hottest hours and do not put yourself in the sun. Spend several hours a day in a cool place (cinema, municipal library, supermarket, museum …) , advocates France Public Health, according to which it is also necessary to avoid physical efforts. You can try to keep your accommodation as cool as possible by closing the windows and shutters / curtains during the day and opening them in the evening and at night if it is cooler. A gesture to avoid: sleeping next to a fan, hoping to enjoy a breath of fresh air all night long. It is therefore necessary to protect oneself, preferably by wearing dark colored clothing made of tight-knit fabric. Remember to regularly give your news to your loved ones and, as soon as necessary, dare to ask for help, advises France Public Health agency. And if you see someone suffering from discomfort, call 15, the Samu’s phone number for medical emergencies or the UE 112.

For the first time, vehicles with a Crit’Air 3 sticker  (mine is a 2 good! )will be affected by the ban on driving in a perimeter located inside the A86 around greater Paris. In the event of non-compliance by prohibited vehicles, the fine in force is a third-class contravention: 68 euros for a light vehicle, 135 euros for a truck. Despite the differentiated traffic, a level of traffic jams “exceptional” In Ile-de-France region , kilometers of traffic jams add up since 6h (6am). The arrival on the outer ring from the A1 is very complicated nowdays! Of course and it will get worse thanks to the tactics of the mayor of Paris.

This Wednesday evening, the City of Paris organizes a first consultation meeting on the upcoming overhaul of the sector of the Porte de la Villette in the 19éme arrondissement of Paris. Challenge: the transformation of an inhospitable sector into an ecologically exemplary new neighborhood. It is one of the last gates of Paris not to have yet benefited from an urban redevelopment project. One thing is certain: 3000 m2 of the future ZAC will be reserved for a green space. The space is the ground that will be occupied in 2024 by the future funeral park at the current location of Square Forceval, close to the roundabout of the Porte de la Villette, below the periphery. Mid-June, the Council of Paris voted the creation of this equipment which will house the second Parisian crematorium after that of Père-Lachaise ,20éme.

150  years after their first description in the West, the first two specimens reported in France have been exposed for a few days at the National Museum of Natural History, 5éme arrondissement or district of Paris. The snout of the young panda exposed behind the window, at the Museum of Natural History 150 years after the first description, in the West, of this “big black and white bear”, the first two specimens, brought back to France by Father David in 1869, have been exposed for a few days in the hall of endangered and extinct species. Grande galerie de l’évolution (Great Gallery of Evolution), 36, rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire , every day except Tuesday from 10h  to 18h. Price: 7 to 14 €. Information at Tel +33 (0) or on webpage: .

The largest urban greenhouse in Europe will grow in Colombes (Hauts de Seine dept 92) . The Colombes urban farm project will promote the emergence of a real agrarian city.  The hydroponic production greenhouses along the A86 will be an integral part of the new Magellan residential area to produce salads and tomatoes all year round. The collective gardens at the foot of the building will also contribute to seasonal production. A real urban agricultural laboratory for the Fertile City of the future! More in French here:

In my beloved Yvelines an old reliable UGC reinvents cinema at Parly 2 shopping center.  With 12 theaters and 2,200 seats, the new UGC Ciné Cité is offering, from this Wednesday, a new showcase for the 7th art at the Parly II Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt shopping center. The all-glass entrance hall visible from the center car park is worth enough the visit; This was our favorite cinema when in Versailles as the cities are just a street over.More info in French here:

In Seine-et-Marne,dept 77 the pizzaïolo (pizza maker chef) is a robot! Since last Monday, you can taste in Montévrain the succulent pizzas of Pazzi, two-armed robot invented by two young engineers accompanied by the triple world pizza champion, Thierry Graffagnino (and I have in my town the champion of Brittany!) . Pazzi, the pizza maker, makes good pizzas in 5 minutes. We can eat them until the end of July, in Montévrain, while waiting for the opening of the restaurant in Val-d’Europe at the end of September. Oh wow worth the detour to my original home in France 77! Val d’Europe is a great shopping center next to Disneyland Paris. More info on the shopping center and stay tune:

And now one of my favorite dishes in France and we had made it ourselves! Here is the recipe of the Hachis Parmentier from chef Stéphane Uytterschaut of the Road stop at La Grotte near Vierzon. Tapping the duckling  with orange and hazelnuts. His restaurant is here:

preparation time: 45 minutes, cooking time: 4 hours

Ingredients for 4 people: 6 thighs of cans, 10 cl of veal stock, 50 grams of sugar, a handful of whole hazelnuts, 10 potatoes, 25 grams of half-salted butter, 10 cl of liquid cream, 10 cl of milk, nutmeg, thyme, laurel, parsley, salt, pepper, 1 clove of garlic

Step 1: Meat: Stir thyme and bay leaf on the thighs before cooking with oil at 120 ° C for about 4 hours.  Step 2: The potatoes: Meanwhile, peel the potatoes. Cut in four and cook in a saucepan with plenty of salted water. Once cooked, pass them with the vegetable mill, and incorporate butter, milk, cream, nutmeg. Check the seasoning and book.  Step 3: The mince: Remove the thighs from the oven, recover the flesh and work with the fork to fray. Add the chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Step 4: Oranges: Wash and wipe the oranges. Take the zests with a peeling knife. Bleach and chill them seven times before chopping them finely.  Collect the juice from the oranges, pour it into a saucepan with the sugar, then bring to a boil. Add the zest before cooking over low heat until the juice has evaporated. Then add the veal stock and pour over the frayed ducklings. Mix. Step 5: The assembly: Using a cookie cutter, dress with the frayed ducklings and the puree. Add crushed hazelnuts and roast. Serve with a green salad.

And voilà experts in the kitchen à la française lol!! We did so can you try it. Delicious!

Moving on to the experts, the French keep teaching the world and they are improving lol! The French restaurant Mirazur voted best restaurant in the world; The establishment of Menton is the first French restaurant to win this title since the creation of the “50 Best” in 2002. The French restaurant Mirazur  of Argentinian-born chef Mauro Colagreco, located in Menton in the Alpes-Maritimes, was voted best restaurant 2019 World’s Best Restaurant in Europe 2019 by the British specialized magazine Restaurant, at a ceremony in Singapore. Mauro Colagreco, a 42-year-old Italian-American, third in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants at the last edition, is also the only foreign chef to be crowned by three Michelin stars. Trained at the school of the greatest  with Bernard Loiseau until his suicide in 2003, from Alain Passard at L’Arpege, then Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenee  Mauro Colagreco opened his restaurant in 2006. earned a first Michelin star in 2007, its second star in 2012 and the third in 2019. You get good company you can reach for the stars! Congrats!!! More here: Mirazur at Menton

And continuing the French saga now abroad in neighbor Italy. They are in the Tuscan vineyards of Biondi-Santi. Owned since the end of 2016 by the most prestigious estate of Tuscany, the EPI group, owned by the Descours family (Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck), intends to give it, step by step, its unmatched luster and radiance. It is in a beautiful building of the 17C covered with Virginia creeper trres, placed on a small hill, in the middle of  nature that seems drawn by a painter of the Cinquecento, that the dynasty of Biondi-Santi gave birth, in the 19C at Brunello, considered worldwide as the purest expression of Sangiovese grape variety. Therefore, if the small town of Montalcino, once poor and isolated, has appeared on the world wine list as one of the most remarkable places. Today overloaded with hundreds of thousands of tourists. More on this wonderful wine family and wines here:

“A summer in Le Havre” invites artists to provoke the architecture of the city and turn it into a huge game board. From June 29 to September 22, 2019  the three existing courses are enriched with eleven new installations, including the Forgotten Cities, ephemeral participatory work representing a huge city cardboard, designed by the sculptor Olivier Grossetête, and whose disappearance is scheduled for the June 30th agenda.  More info here:

My favorites are:

This is on tap at the Carré des Docks, which, hosts, from June 29 to September 1, 2019, this immersive experience designed by Annabelle Mauger and Julien Baron. Through this itinerary, the visitor “enters” into more than 200 works, from La Maison Jaune to Les Tournesols, from La Vigne rouge to Auvers Town Hall . All at 64, quai de La Réunion.More info at

Overlooking the Bay of the Seine since 2008, the 17 hectares of Hanging Gardens, located inside the former Fort of Sainte-Adresse, offer a breathtaking view of the estuary and the port. Labeled remarkable gardens in 2014, they include more than 5,000 plant species gathered in greenhouses according to their geographical origin, such as the carnivorous plants of the Jussieu greenhouse or the tropical plants of the Commerson greenhouse . Located at 84, rue du Fort. More info at

There you go another wonders of my wonderful belle France. Enjoy it and stay cool!

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


June 26, 2019

The central Market in St Germain en Laye!

Let me bring you back to my previous beloved Yvelines dept 78 in the ïle de France region. It is a magical region of many castles and monuments attesting to the monarchial powers of France and one major reason folks keep coming to visit us. I was lucky enough to live by there and came to visit this town very often.

I like to tell you a bit more on the market of Saint Germain en Laye. We always love to come here shopping and walking its marble streets and 700 shops! Not to mention , the nice monuments abound. So here is my brief take of something you can spend the whole morning on!  I have to say it is very easy to come here from Paris on the RER A and it leaves you just in front of the castle and around the street from the market.

The place du Marché-Neuf is a square in the city center of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Here was the location of a old market, a new market, replacing the then existing market, which will then be called, in time, the new market yet the locals still refer to it as the old market…..

This square originally located between the rue de Buzot and the forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye was the cemetery of the city, the center of Saint-Germain-en-Laye being then located around the Castle. Until 1763, the hospice, located in the present rue de Poissy, had received permission from King Louis XIV to operate an open-air market hall, located right next to the cemetery of the city. In 1771, a first building, the wheat and flour Hall, was built.

St Germain en Laye

The new market square was created in 1776, on the site of this cemetery that had been transferred due to the extension of the city and for reasons of hygiene, to become the new market place, replacing the old market, the old market, then located at the crossroads corresponding to the intersection of the current Rue au pain, rue de Paris and Rue du Vieux-Marché. Indeed wonderful old streets full of charm, architecture ,and history, and did i said shopping!

St Germain en Lay

At the beginning of the 19C, the houses surrounding the square were built in 1820, and the arcades complemented the ensemble.   In 1911, the building of the post office and telecommunications was built on the site of the wheat and flour market. In 2007, an underground parking lot is arranged manage by Q Park, and then in 2009 water jets fountain came to decorate the place.

The Central Market at place du Marché-Neuf open Tuesdays and Fridays from 8h30 to 13h and Sundays from 8h30 to 13h30. Even if we had a good one in Versailles, we came up the N186 often here to shop as well and take my dear late wife Martine to the local Damart store near the Monoprix. Nice memories forever.

Some webpages to help you come and enjoy shopping in St Germain en Laye are

City of St Germain en Laye on markets

Tourist office of St Germain en Laye on the markets

Tourist office of the Yvelines dept 78 on St Germain en Laye heritage

Blog by merchants of St Germain en Laye on the markets

There you go , now you are all set to come in for a great shopping morning , afternoon sightseeing in St Germain en Laye for a grand day in the Yvelines away from crowded Paris::)

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

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June 25, 2019

Botanical garden of Brussels!

So in my wandering days over most of Europe I came to Brussels. It remain one of my favorite cities and love to come back to it each time. I have come here by plane, train, and auto and never mind, in the city we try the metro and the bus but we walk and walk most of the time.

One of those walks took us to the Jardin Botanique de Bruxelles or Botanical Garden of Brussels.  Well what was there is a garden there but the main thing is the cultural center surrounded with a park with statues and fountains that holds events and it is very livley. I like to tell you a bit more on it ok.

The Jardin Botanique or Botanical Garden of Brussels is located on the territory of  Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, at the corner of Rue Royale and the boulevard du jardin botanique, is a public park located on the site of the former State Botanical Garden in Brussels created in 1826, and whose buildings house a cultural center, the Botanique, known as the “Bota”.   Victor Hugo, during his first stay in Brussels in 1852, wrote: “Brussels has two unique wonders in the world: the Grand Place and the panorama of the Botanical Garden”.


Thus, in 1826, the territories of present-day Belgium, which had been part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands for the past ten years, acquired a beautiful wooded, airy and well-supplied area, to create a complex housing Brussels collections of existing plants. The Royal Horticultural Society of the Netherlands was born. Later under Belgium independence from 1830   was the Royal Horticultural Society of Belgium.

The Orangery consists of a central domed rotunda and two glass side aisles with two columned buildings at the ends. The pattern of the monumental structure corresponds to that frequently used in the 19C. The building and gardens were officially opened with fireworks, a country festival and a banquet at the first exhibition of horticulture products organized by the Royal Horticultural Society of the Netherlands from September 1-3; 1829.

It was at the end of the 19C that the sculpted decoration of the Botanical Garden was commissioned and realized. It is decided to equip the park with a series of sculptures with the aim of both beautifying it and stimulating public art. The ensemble includes 52 sculptures, executed between 1894 and 1898, including various fountains, sculpted groups and figures evoking time, seasons, plants and animals, as well as electric lights.



In October 1938, the decision was made to move the botanical garden. On January 1, 1939, the State took possession of the 93 hectares of the Bouchout estate in the town of Meise, which will now be devoted to botany and where the National Botanical Garden of Belgium, renamed the Botanical Garden of Meise, was established after its transfer to the Flemish Community on 1 January 2014. In April 1940, the plants of the outdoor collection were moved, then it will be the turn of the trees and shrubs, then the large greenhouse raised in Bouchout. In an unrecognisable site, the building is saved from abandonment by the decision of the Ministry of the Wallonie Community to convert it into a cultural center, whose name Le Botanique recalls its former assignment. The last element that graces the upper part of the park, an iris garden was inaugurated in 1995. This park garden is served by the metro station: Botanique on lines 2 and 6.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Brussels on the botanical garden

Gardens of Brussels, the garden Jean Massart

There you go another maybe can say off the beaten path site of Brussels as it is outside the main ring road away from tourist heaven Grand Place. Enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of the Le Bota now.

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



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June 25, 2019

Midi and Geel, Belgium!

Got you! the title is a bit odd even for my creative ungenius but is all I could come up with! As I brag so much about my road warrior pasttime all over Europe, many times I have to encounter folks who think that weird I do not take public transport in France. Well ,if you live in Europe you know that cannot be true.

I have done many many train rides (grand voyager frequent traveler lol! )all over not to mention riding on tramways, buses, metros, and taxis to know and be able to speak about transportation. Of course,not to forget my educational background is aviation ::)

So this is as good an opportunity to tell you about one train trip took several times to our neighboring Belgium. The title should be longer as I started the journey always at Gare du Nord in Paris but have written before on it so will spare you the sermon lol! However, from Paris Nord took Thalys to Midi train station in Brussels and there rented my Avis car rental to reach Geel just outside Anvers or Antwerpen. The places are very familiar by now…. Let me tell you a bit on the trips, briefly!

The train; the Brussels Capital-Region has three main train stations: Brussels-South (Sud), Central (Midi) and North (Nord).  I have walked by the others, but the one used has been always Midi. From Paris Nord station (Gare du Nord) you can take off on the Thalys to Brussels Midi . At Brussels-Midi, the main station of the Brussels agglomeration, Thalys high-speed trains take you comfortably and quickly back to Paris with 23 daily Thalys trains ensuring the connection in just 1h22 without intermediate stops.


Brussels-Midi station, more commonly known as Gare du Midi, located on the territory of the Brussels municipality of Saint-Gilles. This station, which was a terminus when it was inaugurated in 1869, and the second station was inaugurated in 1949, and  covered with a yellow and smooth brick facing and is surmounted by a square clock tower became a station of passage from the junction Nord-Midi in 1952. The station has 22 lanes, including two dedicated exclusively to Eurostar trains. It is located at Avenue Fonsny 47B ,Brussels main entrance and back side is Place Victor Horta, 26 Saint-Gilles side and where I get my car rentals Avis!

Belgium train webpage in French on the Midi

Thalys train webpage in French on Paris Brussels

The different is here went by train an odyssey, first TGV Vannes-Paris Montparnasse, change to metro line 4 but was block, police intervention so needed to take alternative line 6 to Denfert-Rochereau then switch again to RER B to reach Gare Paris Nord; running not to miss my thalys to Brussels Midi train station. There had reserved an Avis rental car Citroen C3 to reach destination on the ring road of Brussels all with traffic jams to stand still!!! Went around on the E19 straight to Anvers, there took the ring road R2 to final destination. The return was not easier, rental car to Brussels Midi train station was fine, but the thalys was delayed 30 minutes !! by the time reach Paris Nord took line 4 alright this time to Paris Montparnasse, arrive late the train TGV was ready to leave, spoked my way to train folks until finally called me back and allow me into the train, reach Vannes, no taxis, tourist had taken them all, needed to wait 15 minutes to have one arrive and finally reach home! Never again by train here!

Geel is a Dutch-speaking city of Belgium located in the Flemish Region in the Province of Antwerp. The central point is the pleasant market (markt)  square, facing the Saint-Amand  Church. With its attractive terraces and easy parking . The oldest part of the city hall dates from the 17C. Not far away, the Sint-Dipna Church marks the place where the saint was buried.

A bit of history on Geel, briefly !

In 1795, the Duchy of Brabant was dissolved and Geel made part of the French department of Deux-Neuves, the precursor of the present province of Antwerp. Geel actively participated in the Belgian Revolution of 1830, resulting in the award of an honorary flag from King Leopold II.  A major occurrence in the history of Geel is the battle of Geel (also referred to as the “Gheel bridghead”) in September 1944, one of the heaviest and bloodiest fights during the liberation of Belgium. Eventually the territory of Geel, and the smaller villages around it, were finally liberated on September 23 1944.

One big event taking place here is the Reggae Festival. The Reggae Festival, one of the larger reggae festivals in Europe, takes place usually early in August just outside the city center. More info in English here:

One nice monument I always like to have my beer looking at it is the Church of St Amand.

The Sint-Amandskerk or St Amand  is the oldest parish church in Geel. It is located near the Markt square in the center of the city.  It is a late Gothic church that was built from 1489-1532. The predecessor burned down in 1489. This was built in Brabant white sandstone. The rebuilding of the church took place in 1490 in brick. A few parts of the sandstone structure remained. The tower has a substructure from around 1400, partly also from 1489, and was raised to 59 meters in the mid-16C. In 1567 most of the works of art in the church were destroyed by the iconoclasm. Only images of Saints Dimpna and Gerebernus were spared, as well as two paintings, including an Adoration of the Three Kings.  The interior of the church, as it is revealed today, dates from the Baroque. It concerns the paneling of the side aisles and the confessionals. In addition, the choir stalls from the end of the 17C, a pulpit from around 1715 , the high altar from 1748. Furthermore, on the pillars the statues of the Apostles and the marble choir enclosure from 1693.  The stained glass windows can be seen in the south facade.

Tourist office of Geel on the Church in Flemish


The market square,(Markt)  facing the St-Amands Church and bordered by attractive café terraces, is the focal point of the city  Stroll through the shopping streets Nieuwstraat, Pas and Stationsstraat and end your shopping with a relaxing terrace on our traffic-free market!  The annual fair takes place from 22 to 26 June. The autumn door is on 2 October and during the weekends of 10, 11, 17 and 18 December you can come for Christmas shopping.  An overview of all stores and events can be found here:

One excellent hotel to stay here and walking just around from the main square with excellent personal service is the Hotel Verlooy.

Hotel Verlooy , at Pas 117,(street address) Geel  . The 12 rooms are luxuriously furnished with comfortable beds, unique light design and spacious bathrooms. Oak parquet floors and the use of natural materials create a comfortable space for body and soul.The rooms take their name from the world of pastry with a nod to the neighboring bakery-pastry Verlooy, renowned in the region. Your morning starts in the best possible way with a crisp breakfast in the veranda, overlooking our winter garden. Possibility to rent bicycles and e-bikes only with prior reservation. Parking, WiFi and minibar in the room are free. Hotel Verlooy is a comfortable base just 200 meters from the main Market (Markt) Square.

Hotel Verlooy webpage


I ate at the market square Het Podium and the Irish pub there with a nice Guinness.

And the overall tourist webpage for Geel is here: Tourist office of Geel in Flemish

There you go a nice train ride which as said can be taken all the way to Anvers but much better the ride from Midi into the side roads of Anvers to reach wonderful picturesque Geel. Hope you enjoy the ride.

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

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