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 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 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 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 23, 2019

Archives of Madrid!

So I take you back to my wonderful beloved Madrid. Another soft spot in my heart and always come back to it, lucky me. I have written many posts on my city and you can tell my inclination for it. It never cease over the years since that day I came upon it in 1971.

Let me tell you a bit about an off the beaten path that is right in one of the most visible streets of Madrid!! I like to tell you a bit on the archives of the Community of Madrid in the old Church of San Ginés , Calle Arenal 13! off Puerta del Sol!!!!


The Calle de Arenal is a popular historical streetof Madrid, linking the Puerta del Sol and Plaza de Isabel II (Opera) Its name comes from the primitive stream that flowed through its path before urbanizing the area with which it appears labeled already in themap of Teixeira from 1656 as in the successive maps of the city of Madrid

A bit of history tell us that a route determined by the topography, the ancient Arenal, formed by the runoffs that flowed into it, followed the course of the intermittent Arroyo de la Zarza stream which, coming out of the ravine of the same name (in what would later be the Puerta del Sol), reached the plazuela del Barraco which would then be filled into the popularly known Plaza de la Opera. From there, taking the abundant flow of the Caños del Peral, the Arenal basin ran south in search of the stream of Leganitos, in the vicinity of the so-called Cuesta de San Vicente. The Arenal separated two of the oldest outskirts from the primitive medieval village, the one of Saint Ginés to the south ,and sheltered from the Church of San Ginés, and that of Saint Martin extending northward under the rule of the Benedictine abbey of San Martín , a Mozarabic priory

The first palaces were built in the 16C, disappearing gradually to make room for the houses of stale families of Madrid, In the second half of the 19C, the central and populous street was filled with hotels and houses of travelers and take out eateries in the books of foreign travelers of the 18-19C and first third of the 20C. the opening in 1853 of the Travasia del Arenal on the main road to link with the Plaza Mayor.   Although renovated on successive occasions, the Church of San Ginés still occupies the space from which we have the most distant news of a building. At number 11 is the new Teatro Eslava (Joy Eslava), a historic scene of various chapters of Madrid’s night history since the 1870s. Indeed fantastic souvenirs here.

From the cafes, you can remember the Café de la Europa, and the new Café de Levante, at number 15, with talks and encounters of the likes of Ramón María del Valle-Inclán, José Martínez Ruiz «Azorín», the painters José José Gutiérrez Solana, Santiago Rusiñol and Julio Romero de Torres, brothers Pío and Ricardo Baroja and cartoonist Rafael de Penagos. Even old shops such as the bookstore of the Librería de los Bibliófilos Españoles (Spanish Bibliophiles), the Prast Confectionery, or the castiza chocolatería San Ginés, in the Pasadizo de San Ginés are preserved. It is one of the most popular places to have chocolate with churros since it was founded in 1894. More on Chocolateria San Ginés here:


In 1106, during the pontificate of Pascual II and reigning in Castilla Alfonso VI, Bernardo de Cluny, first Archbishop of Toledo, consecrated outside the walls of the city of Madrid the church in honor of San Ginés, martyr of Arles. In 1360, Juan González, chaplain to King Pedro I and priest of the Parish of San Ginés carried out an important work of reconstruction by placing the royal shields on its walls.

The year 1641 is mostly demolished the old factory of the temple of San Ginés and this same year, King Philip IV entrusts the royal architect, the traces and supervision of the work of the new temple until its completion ,and with responsibility for its construction. On 10 May 1645, solemnly inaugurated the new temple, the date on which royal privileges are granted.

In the 18C, the parish church of San Ginés undergoes a major transformation within it.  Today the regional archives of the community of Madrid are kept in the Church of San Gines as well in Calle Arenal, 13.

The tourist office of Madrid on the Church  of San Ginés de ArlesTourist office of Madrid on the Church San Ginés

An anecdote for Spanish philes; In San Ginés de Arles Church was married, by proxy, Lope de Vega on his first marriage to Isabel de Urbina in 1588. The church was demolished in 1642 and the current church was  built between 1645 and 1672 as we know it today.

Another wonderful spot in my beloved Madrid come to see it for more than the church alone and you will be glad your read my post. Enjoy Calle de Arenal in Madrid!

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

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June 23, 2019

A work of love, Paris and Martine!

So is once again time for me to remember my dear late wife Martine. I am sorry, I need to do this post. The pain , I was told will smooth out with time , but it seems not to be true. I have written memorials before but I wanted to do a post on happy times we spent together on the  28 years of marriage and our passing by the city we met , Paris.

Even thus she was from Meaux, Seine-et-Marne dept 77, in the Brie cheese region, she worked in Paris 10éme when I met her. She later follow me very courageously to Florida USA where we traded citizenships and then she convinced me gladly to come to live in France permanently in 2003. It has been the best decision of my life and I owe it all to her.

So without much words but as the saying goes , a picture is a thousand words here is me , Martine, and Paris. We will always have Paris !! Bogart was right!!!


Thanksgiving in Paris with MF on left

paris 9

around old thanksgiving store for American goodies


loaded with dominos pizza off rue st dominique to eat out at port de suffren below the Eiffel


Bistro Romain Champs Elysees near the Arc de Triomphe


Au Trappiste rue St Denis near Châtelet


Early on out from Meaux to her job on the 10éme this is the Gare de l’Est train station


Bois de Boulogne cascades love that water fall


Flower market near Conciergerie and she loves gardening


As i met her on her job at the 10éme arrondissement of Paris in 1990!

Life is beautiful but short to many , done do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today. Do it, we did it well!!! And remember, happy travels, together/sharing are better; good health, because we needed to go on, and many cheers to all, because we mean it to all of you!!! We will always have Paris!!!!

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June 22, 2019

Toledo train station!

So let me go to areas where most folks (do not know why ::) thinks that I have not done because I always prefer the car for long hauls on land. However, as anybody living in Europe can tell you, the trains are in, as well as tramways, buses, metros etc etc, done them all over the years. One reason I can write/talk about it well. Of course, nothing beats the view driving into Toledo ::)


In my beloved Spain, and my beautiful dream land of Castilla La Mancha, and Comunidad de Madrid,  I have done it several times the trip by train from Madrid to Toledo and vice versa. The stations are wonderful indeed and the ride is short and sassy.  I have written before on the Atocha train station in Madrid, and it is time I give credit to the station in Toledo.

The Toledo Train Station is located in the Paseo de la Rosa, corner with Calle Cabrahigos right on a traffic circle , and was inaugurated in 1919 and restored in 2005, stands out for its neomudéja style. This is of course in Toledo, autonomous region of Castilla La Mancha.


The railway arrived in Toledo in 1858 with the start-up of the line that linked it with Castillejo and with it the radials that joined Madrid with Andalusia and the Levante. In 1917 ,the works were started to replace the old station of 1858 by a totally new one, that was finished in 1919 giving rise to an atypical design station and of clear Neo-mudejar style that at the time generated controversy by moving away drastically from the sober and functional design of the previous structure. In 1939 Toledo was finally linked with the radial Madrid-Cáceres and with the Toledo-Castillejo finally in 1947. Due to limited used and little commercial use as main cause it was decided to suspends travel when RENFE ordered the closure of the line in 1968. Eventually , in 2005 opened the high-speed line La Sagra-Toledo, third line of high-speed open in Spain joining exclusively to the Sagra and without intermediate stations Toledo with Madrid.


A bit on the construction by the experts. The Toledo train station as said is of Neo-mudejar style covering an area of 12 600 square meters. It is done with brick, stone, iron and cement for its construction. The travellers ‘ main building consists of a central pavilion flanked by two lower-elevated lateral wings. The whole structure is decorated with poly lobular arches and stepped battlements on the upper part. At one end you will find the clock tower. Five doors allow access to a hall of great ornamental richness that offers a good sample of the handicraft and goldsmith traditions of Toledo such as mosaics of tiles, lattices, lockers and wrought lamps. With the renovation operated in 2005, the platforms were modernized, new canopies were built to protect travelers in addition to renovating the existing one, a 325 parking spaces, a new cafeteria and new accesses were made. The historic fence of the station was also resettled; the clock tower was extensively restored. In 2016 the façade was restored again.

The Toledo train station has two platforms, one side that accesses track 1 and another central shared by the tracks 2 and 3. It lacks service lanes or beach tracks. Since it is a terminal station, all the tracks are integrated into the same platform. It has ticket sales, customer service, toilets and cafeteria. The whole enclosure is equipped with services adapted for the handicapped. Outside there is a parking lot of 325 spaces, a taxi stop and an urban bus stop.

The Urban bus line No 5 is one that stops there and takes you to inner Toledo such as Plaza Zocodover. There might be others not familiar with. The official urban bus network UNAUTO is here:

Note, if you are daring as Europeans are and not much luggage you can walk to inner Toledo in less than 25 minutes, depending your habits. We have done it in 18 minutes! Easy walking and nice good for you.

The only connection of the station allows Toledo to reach Madrid with 15 daily train segments in both directions thanks to Avant trains of medium distance and high speed that complete the trip in 30 minutes.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official ADIF transports on the Toledo train station

Official RENFE on trans schedules and heritage of Toledo

Tourist offices of Toledo AVE train station and Zocodovar square

There you go another easy trip to a wonderful huge city to be a must to visit while in Spain.  Toledo is indeed require visit in Spain.  And for kicks I always have to stop in Yunco ::) their city/town hall page is here: City of Yuncos

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


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June 21, 2019

Some news from France, CCXXXV

And here we are and its just Summer! It was a nice day at first sunny and 15C now is a bit cloudy and 19C or about 68F in my neck of the woods, In lovely Paris it is 73F and sunny. And here are my latest rambling on my belle France! ! Read this:  Temperatures will be summery from this Sunday on, with 30 degrees Celsius in Paris, 30 degrees Celsius in Toulouse, 29 degrees Celsius in Lyon and 27 degrees Celsius in Rennes. They will rise again on Monday to exceed 35 degrees Celsius. They are even expected to reach 40oC in some regions such as the Provençal hinterland or the central-east.  Only Brittany and Lower Normandy will sweat!! the Canicule is back!!!

The festival of Music or La Fête de la Musique is now as well the start of Summer!

This is the case tonight where the magnificent Louvre Pyramid will house the Orchestra de Paris for a symphonic concert. On the program, an excerpt from Berlioz’s opera Les Troyens under the direction of Daniel Harding and Dutch violinist Janine Jansen in Brahms’ Violin Concerto. More info in French here:

Also, TSF JAZZ awaits you at the inevitable jazz club Duc Des Lombards to feast around this music. From 19h to 03h Free entry to the Duc Des Lombards, 42, rue des Lombards 1éme. Metro Châtelet lines 1/4/7/14. More here in French:

And to end here with the the Cabaret Sauvage, in partnership with Société Ricard Live Music, offers for this Friday evening 12 hours of music continuously. While the monthly magazine specializing in electronic music Tsugi will take care of the outdoor part of the place, the marquee will house successively Pop / Rock artists in the early evening to switch gradually to the House. Bad eyes, Iñigo Montoya and Omar Jr are programmed. From 18h to 06H at 59 Macdonald Boulevard ,19éme. Metro Porte de la Villette on line 7. Be careful, even if it’s free, you have to reserve a place on the cabaret site. Webpage in French:

The Guild of Craftsmen of the Eiffel Tower, the label created by the company operating the Eiffel Tower (Sete) and its new restorative society, Sodexo sports and leisure. Have chosen 6 brands for showcasing them at the tower. These are from the especially melted for the unctuous artisan ice cream of Christine Champault, turbines done  day by day. The Maison Christine Champault is one of the laureates. Her shop at Rue  Montfaucon, 6éme hides a laboratory where the ice is turbined every day. The pure fruit and vegetable juices of Moodiz’s young tandem will be served on the first floor terrace and 58 Tour Eiffel restaurant; their products are produce at the command, in their laboratory-shop of the rue Blanche, 9éme. Four other craftsmen and their specialties also join the Guild: the salty shortbreads of the Deux Gourmands the “Garden Gin” of Sous les Fraises, the draft beer of the La Parisienne, and the specialty coffee of Cawatoès.  More info on the Guild here in English:

And for the citoyens and a slap on the mayor of Paris we have won , well him! The Jardin des Tuileries garden, managed by the Grand Louvre on state property.. Already, this winter, Marcel Campon had succeeded  in setting up his Christmas market, having been put out of the Champs-Elysées by mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo. This summer, new snub at the mayor of Paris, he installs the Grande Roue or Ferris wheel of the Pl de la Concorde. A ride of 60 meters high with its 48 pods that will make its first round this Friday night (tonight)  at an inaugural evening (which proceeds  will be given for the fight against homophobia),  and until August 25.  At the beginning of the week, the justice was partly right in canceling the indictment of the mayor of Paris who was suspected of having favored the “King of Fairgrounds”, during the process of awarding the location of the place of the Concorde for the Ferris wheel. In addition, last May, he was able to demonstrate, thanks to a map of 1828, that the site on which was placed his wheel was not land of the City …

Summer is here so what better than head out into nature to see them. At the Essonne dept 91 you have three nice spots. These are :The lower valley of Essonne. This 600 ha wetland extends over the municipalities of Mennecy, Fontenay-le-Vicomte and Écharcon. From one of the observatories of Fontenay-le-Vicomte marshes, you can see the colorful kingfisher or the majestic osprey. More in French here:

The ponds of Grigny-Viry,  stuck between the road N7 and town of Grigny, the site is a real green lung consisting of six main ponds. The best observations will be made on the side of Grigny on the l’Arbalète or pond of the Crossbow. In total, nearly 200 species have been identified. Bit more info here in French:

The Carouge Basin in Brétigny-sur-Orge. This artificial pond dug in the 1970s is very popular with the great cormorant. On the central island, inaccessible to walkers, these large black birds perch on trees, wings often deployed can be observed! Nature site in French with info and guide to get there:

Something closer to my old hangouts ,it  goes back to Louis XIV and testifies to the way medicine was practiced then. The L’Apothicairerie Royale or Royal Apothecary of Saint-Germain-en-Laye  can be visited every Saturday. The opportunity for the public to discover this superb collection of earthenware pots decorated with blue motifs, glass jars and boxes of medicinal plants  Located at the  Villa Eugénie-Désoyer ,Jardin des Arts, 3, rue Henri IV. Réservation at the tourist office tel +33 (0) 1 30 87 20 63 or by email :  .More info here :

And the Grand Bal masque of the Château de Versailles will be tomorrow with 2,500 revelers are expected this Saturday, from 23h30, for the grand ball masked!. The director, Hakim Ghorab, has imagined six artistic paintings that will dishevel. See it at the gardens of the Orangery. Price: from 88-430€ according to the formula. Reservations at tel +33 (0) OR more info at official site here:

The collegiate Church of Crécy-la-Chapelle, bright of 800 years is celebrating. It is at the Seine-et-Marne dept 77 east of Paris, the religious building celebrates eight centuries of existence with a cycle of reinforced tours and a medieval festival this weekend of June  22-23, 2019.Info on the local area tourist office in French:

And info on the guided visits Church location at 1, place du Marché ,77580 Crecy-La-Chapelle. Tel +33 (0) 1 64 63 70 19. Email:

This is the second year in a row that the biggest open-air cinema in France has set up at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, on the most beautiful avenue in the world. See you on July 7th at 20h. A Sunday at the cinema is a screen of 144 m2, more than 1,000 seats to watch a summer evening a nugget of the 7th art. This year, the screening will take place on July 7, but not for everyone: to be able to attend, you have to participate in a contest. Just go to the website of the City of Paris to vote for one of the 3 films on offer, and before June 25. The films are  Jacques Demy’s Demoiselles de Rochefort, Philippe de Broca’s Man de Rio and OSS 117: Cairo’s Nest of Spies by Michel Hazanavicius. Inscriptions here in French:

After the success of the first season Love for the Game 1998-2018, the General Stores are interested in the universal theme of love. this second cultural season of The Magasins Généraux or General Stores will anticipate the future of relationships, sexuality and reproduction in the era of new technologies, the advent of robotics and artificial intelligence, scientific advances, and the evolution of practices, customs and ideas. The exhibition will bring together about forty international artists, recognized or emerging, whose work proposes a prospective vision on love and sexuality. Between dystopia, fantasy and hope, the exhibition is composed of 8 chapters, which explore as many future potentials, as the meeting under algorithm, merchandising, robotisation or the synthesis of the feeling in love. From June 21st until July 7th . Futures of love – Saison #2, Magasins généraux , 1, rue de l’Ancien-Canal – Pantin Exposition until October 21th, the Festival from June 21 to July 7th/ More info here :

As much I love Paris, it is like any other big city in the world some more some less. You just have to be careful especially if going out late at night.  The has  city launched  this past Thursday its plan of action to try to stop the fights between gangs of teenagers, who have already made eight deaths since 2016. A group of young people has spread terror in the sector Marcadet 18éme. It is here, a few hundred meters from the Guy-Môquet metro station, that gangs of very young people have been reigning insecurity for more than two years. Aggressions, robberies, racket,etc. Closing out with a bang until next edition of Some News of France ! This is not done for decoration read it and be prepare in English. Tourist office of Paris on staying safe in Paris

And if need to, this is where to call/go according to where you are in Paris proper: police stations in English: Tourist office of Paris on police station help

And the Interior Ministry police action in Paris in French; Interior ministry prefecture of Paris on tourist security in French

Some basic numbers here: Emergency numbers: police rescue: 17; European emergency number: 112; firefighters: 18, samu (ambulance): 15. bank lost or stolen credit card: tel 0 892 705 705 – 7 days/7 (0.34 euros/min). American Express: 01 47 77 72 00. Diner’s Club: 0 810 31 41 59.  lost or stolen checkbook: 0 892 68 32 08 – 7d./7 (0.337 euros/min).  Lost or stolen mobile phone: Orange: 0 825 00 57 00;  SFR: 06 10 00 19 00; Telecom Bouygues: 0 800 29 10 00.  Service of Found Objects, 6 rue des morillons – 75015 3430 ($0.06/min – call price) Monday to Thursday, 8h30 to 17h, Friday, 8h30 to 16h30.  The service is open, without interruption, from Monday to Friday, except on public holidays.

In the case of a physical assault, or theft the Police/ agent will also give you a written document allowing you to be examined at the Medical-Judicial Emergency (open 24 hours a day – 7 days a week):  1, Place du Parvis de Notre Dame, 75004. Metro Cité (Line 4), RER B St-Michel – Notre Dame. Tel:+33 (0) 1 42 34 82 85/29.  An official certificate will be established and added to your file. An investigation will then be opened to find the perpetrator or perpetrators. Use common sense counts the most.

There you go ,now you are all set for a wonderful stay in sublime gorgeous Paris. Hope you have a good Summer and a nice visit to my belle France.

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

June 21, 2019

The quant streets of Rochefort-en-Terre!

Here we are back in my beautiful Morbihan dept 56 of my lovely region of Bretagne in my belle France.  And as usual , with several posts on this wonderful town I need to give you a look at its quant streets of Rochefort en Terre.

A bit of recap on the town. Rochefort-en-Terre is one of the towns of character and history , as in French « Petite Cité de Caractère », it is ,also , a Village Fleuri four flowers rating!  or a flower town of France, and Les Plus Beaux Villages de France or the most beautiful towns of France designation. All worth it. During the annual TV show for choosing the most preferred town of the French it was chosen as well the  Le Village préférés des français or the favorite town of the French on survey by TV station France 2 announce by Stéphane Bern in 2016. More in French, see video: Tourist office of Rochefort en Terre on the most preferred town of France 2016

As said we come here often and close to our home so all year around even Christmas where it has one of the best if not the best Christmas market in the west of France , me think. A brief on the Rochefort en Terre

It is surrounded by the towns of Pluherlin and Malansac. The city is crossed by the D 777 which runs westward towards Questembert and east towards La Gacilly, a deviation, the D 777a that allows to bypass the city by the north. In the southeast, the road D 21 connects Rochefort-en-Terre to Malansac .

From 1903, Alfred Klots, (more below) owner of the Castle, invites painters in the city and sets up tourist activities. He had the idea in 1911 to launch a competition throughout the city: that of the “flowered windows”, which became over time that of the “flower villages” or Village Fleuri de France today!

The streets are all lovely such as Place Saint Michel

rochefort en terre

Place du Puits

rochefort en terre

rue du Porte Cadre

rochefort en terre

And many others of course, do not have photos of all of them…! However, there is a nice story very nicely told by locals that I like to bring up here. Its an American-Breton!

rochefort en terre

Alfred Klots was born in France in 1875, from an American family of Baltimore, MD ,that practiced the silk trade. Very early reveals his artistic talent, this young painter will follow most of his training in New York before coming to live in Paris in 1901 It was then that he fell in love with Brittany. He buys the Castle or rather what’s left of it,

It is in ruins and only the stables had been converted into a dwelling in the 19C. In successive stages, he will revive it and it will become his castle in Brittany. In 1918-1919 he opened his home to the American Red Cross , which makes it a convalescent center for soldiers , which would be worth to him to receive the Legion of Honor after the war. A willingly patron, Alfred was also interested in the development of the local heritage; and in 1913, it established an annual competition  which will make the village one of the most flower in France and as above the flower villages of France of today! . This American adopted by the local Rochefortais died in 1939.

His son Trafford Klots born in 1913, also devoted himself to painting. In 1940 when the war broke out he created the American Fund for relief to the Bretons, before engaging as an officer in the U S Army. In 1944, back in Rochefort en Terre, he finds intact the Castle and its collections saved thanks to the dedication of the gatekeeper. Trafford Klots will be made a Knight of the Legion of Honor by France. He died in 1976. Today, the Castle is a property of the Department of Morbihan that makes it live another way for our greatest a cultural center. At the slate time of the Sundial, their present, allied to the past has become an invaluable gift. that of a love story between Brittany and America! Nice story indeed!!!.

Some webpages to help plan your trip here and you must are

City of Rochefort en Terre on heritage

Tourist office of Rochefort en Terre on heritage

Tourist office of Brittany on Rochefort en Terre

Of course, I have written about the castle but that is in another post. For now enjoy the story, the history,the architecture and the streets of Rochefort en Terre!

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

June 16, 2019

The theater of Saint Nazaire!

So on the Father’s day weekend in my belle France and lucky to still have one, we took off into my road warrior escapes in my west of France into the Pays de la Loire region and the Loire-Atlantique dept 44 to visit an old acquaintance of ours Saint Nazaire. I will have some posts to tell you but just been only about 1h30 from my house looking at the old pictures my last time here was in June 2013!!!

There is so much that have change in Saint Nazaire over these last few years and the town seems vibrant and active with lots of nice monuments and places to see and eat. Well more of that later. For now, let me touch up on this fabulous property that on my last trip did not notice just recently opened then.

On a wonderful old train station they have build a theater and a cinema while pushing the train/bus station a bit out from the center of town. Good choice indeed.

The Le Theatre is a theater in Saint-Nazaire, inaugurated on September 7, 2012. It uses the site and building of the city’s former main railway station, replaced by a new railway station when the city was rebuilt in the early 1950s. On September 8, 2012, the first show was titled « Il était une fois une gare… » or sort of  once upon a time a train station.

st nazaire

A bit technical on the theater which i am not, tells us it has been well used over the last 7 years.

The Theater has 2 rooms; the theatre section with 826 seats, and the creative room with 100 seats. There is also, one cinema room ,the Jacques Tati with 148 seats. In the complex there is a bar and apartments, studios (made available by the City of Saint-Nazaire according to availability).

On average the city tells us that it has done 65 events with 122 performances as live shows and 188 films with 780 screenings on Cinema last season. There is a movement this year led by the mayor of St Nazaire to name the theater the Simone Veil theater.

st nazaire

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here which if in town for over a day it might well be worth it especially knowing the so many nice monuments to visit around it even of foot.

Official Le Théatre of Saint Nazaire

City of Saint Nazaire on the cultural offerings

So for a quick day/night this is  a nice option and the place is sublime gorgeous. Enjoy the Théatre in Saint Nazaire.

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


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