Archive for July, 2019

July 30, 2019

Restaurant: Alcalà de Henares!

So back at you with another dandy in my beloved Spain. In continuing with my series on restaurants visited with the family and with photos I take you now to a great memorable find in the Comunidad de Madrid.

While visiting the wonderful Alcalà de Henares we stumble on this nice place right in front of the Cathedral! with a funny name La Gitana Loca or the crazy female gypsy and it caught our attention to go in. It was a very nice encounter with cheap tapas and beers which we have repeated going there.

Alcala de Henares

The prices were one euro for the tapas and we had it going to as much as 70 cents the euro for the glass of beer known as the cana! Enough simple thing to do with a family. It is located at Plaza Santos Ninos 4 directly across from the main entrance to the Cathedral.

Alcala de Henares

A bit of my impression on it.

The truth is that the site does not deceive;  cheap food and drink. The place is normal to go for tapas, the interesting thing is the place where I find it, at the foot of the Cathedral by its main entrance for an excellent location. Bustling site for cheap glass of beer or canas with friends. The atmosphere is for the young but for a family can have great combi tapas and beers and in summer the terrace is elbow to elbow full. The food is not very remarkable as tapas are simple but cheap as well. A good place to cool off, have a drink and admire the architecture of the magisterial Cathedral and its storks from the terrace and continue the path.

Alcala de Henares

An umpretentious place that look more like a bar than a restaurant but the service was very friendly and the food good and cheap, tapas for one euro and beer for 70 centimes attack attack!!!

The official webpage is on the franchise host and not enough info as well as in Spanish : Official La Gitana Loca

Yelp reviews on La Gitana Loca

There you go a wonderful tourist spot with still great Spanish prices. Enjoy your lunch at La Gitana Loca as we did.

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



July 28, 2019

Tour de France 2019 Final!!!

So quick post so happy to see another wonderful Tour de France, even if this year could not go on the spot, is an event the family looks forward every year and the TV coverage is super , say better even than on site for the views if the ambiance is less of course. Consolation.

I wrote earlier on the start of this wonderful historical traditional race back on July 5th here

Tour de France 2019 !!!

And now after 21 stages the race is over at the ave des Champs-Elysées in Paris. The last race was great because it passed by areas we love and been to them and even lived; starting from lovely Rambouillet in the Yvelines dept 78.

The youngest winner in history , Egan Bernal of Colombia. Impressive and many friends very happy about him. I know his native town as visited and the area too. He is from Zipaquira in the vally of Boyacà where they have a wonderful Cathedral in a salt mine with the 14 steps of Christ awesome. This is not far from Bogotà.

He , Bernal not only won the yellow jersey but also the best young rider at 22 years old he has a huge future in cycling ahead. He is the firs Colombian to win the tour de France as well!!

The final race in Paris was won by Caled Ewan, of Australia , his third stage in the race, rather a good future there too.  Peter Sagan, on points, Roman Bardet on climber, Movistar as team , and Julien Alaphilippe as combative spirit also won recognition.

The top general overall winners were

1º Egan Bernal (Ineos)  Colombia

2º Geraint Thomas (Ineos)  1’111 Great Britain

3º Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo Visma) – 1’31” Netherlands

4º Emanuel Buchmann (Bora) – 1’56” Germany

5º Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck) – 3’45” France

6º Mikel Landa (Movistar) – 4’23” Spain

7° Rigoberto Uran, (EF Education First) Colombia

8° Nairo Quintana, (Movistar Team) Colombia

9º Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)  Spain

10° Warren Barguil, (team Arkea-Samsic) France

The official webpage for the tour de France: Tour de France 2019

Another great race with all kinds of weather situation and injuries and broken hearts and very happy winners as always. Until next time in France, the tour de France!

Ah took some pictures from the TV here that do not want to go to waste so will post some in a kaléidoscope to follow, hope you enjoy them.


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

July 26, 2019

Some news from France, CCXLI

And back to my regular series, thank you for reading, and hope you are enjoying our summer even thus for some could be winter… After the news of the heatwave in France, I am happy to report that in my beautiful Brittany we have been spare. Right is cool light rain at 20C or about 70F while in our eternal Paris is heavier rains at 71C. Time is 11h30.

End of red alert vigilance for the heatwave (canicule)! The arrival of a stormy disturbance to the west will make the mercury plummet after the record heat wave episode. However, not everyone will be in the same boat. The heat will resist the east. Météo France has placed 30 departments in alert orange heat wave with temperatures between 35 ° C and 38 ° C with peaks at 40 ° C in the plain of Alsace. Among them, the Allier, the Loire, the Nièvre, the Puy-de-Dôme, the Saone-et-Loire and the Haute-Loire are also vigilant orange storms, as the Cantal. According to Météo France, it will be necessary to wait for Saturday for the end of this hot episode on all France. Paris broke yesterday Thursday its all-time record of more than 70 years (40.4 ° C in 1947), with 42.6 ° C. The record heat of the day was observed in Saint-Maur, Ile-de-France, where the mercury rose to 43.6 ° C!!!

The capital seemed particularly empty yesterday, when it beat its absolute record of heat with 42.6 ° C in the late afternoon. Since the beginning of the measurements in 1873, the capital had surpassed the bar of 40 ° C only once, on July 28, 1947, with 40.4 ° C. At 10h, Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart), 35 ° C; 12h, Place de la Nation, 37 ° C; 14h, Place de la Bastille, 41 ° C; 15h, Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), 42.4 ° C; and 16h, Trocadero, 42.4 ° C. After staying more than 70 years with a threshold of 40.6 degrees maximum, the City of Light has passed the 42 degrees at 15h. The mercury even climbed up to 42.6 degrees at 16h32, propelling Paris to the third position of the hottest European capitals. according to the data compiled by the European Climate Assessment & Dataset (ECAD) harmonized until 2018. Thus, the French has just exceeded the Portuguese capital Lisbon, the Albanian Tirana and Romanian Bucharest, having all three recorded peaks at 42 degrees in distinct periods. The City of Light is also placed in front of the Spanish Madrid or the Italian Rome. There is little risk, however, that it breaks the Nicosia record in Cyprus of 46.7 degrees. And still less that of Athens, Greece, at 48 degrees !!!.

Another dandy that I am following is the Tour de France .

The 19th stage of the Tour de France will be judged today in Tignes, after a visit to the summit of the Iseran pass. this Friday, with a short leg (126.5 km), but that promises a lot of sparks. The route will rise from the start of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and the riders will begin with three climbs, including that of the Madeleine. A pre-amble before tackling the Iseran Pass, the highest point of the Tour with its 2770 meters of altitude. A monster of almost 13 kilometers and a rare pass in the Tour. The riders will hit 30 km of descent to the foot of Tignes for a dry climb of only 7 km. It is especially difficult to climb, and if Alaphilippe arrives with the best, he will be able to keep his yellow jersey. For Pinot, it will be too late. If he wants to shake the overall classification, Thibaut must attack from the Iseran pass and make a big number. After that, he will still have the finish at the top of Val-Thorens (Saturday) to conclude. The French are not there since 1985 (Bernard Hinault, a breton! )  possible winners! this time around is Julian Alaphilippe or Thibaut Pinot! only 1,50s behind. Fingers crossed! More info here: Tour de France standing after 18 rounds

Update disaster in the 19th stage, huge avalanche the race stop and winners declared. Alaphilippe lost the yellow jersey and Pinot went out injured again!! Now maybe France will be left out again of winning its Tour de France!

Two new terminals of virtual reality open to the public today on the terrace of the Arc de Triomphe (8éme). The kiosks are available in 6 languages, and accept only contactless card payment. The Arc de Triomphe receives 1.7 million visitors each year, 70 to 80% of which are foreign tourists. Discover also a short film in 360 ° format on the return of the ashes of Napoleon in 1840, realized from a heavy  research work of the archives. More info here: Arc de Triomphe digital

Summer at La Défense: on the forecourt (parvis) The beach with transats, billiards, petanque, conferences, concerts … All summer long, the Parvis offers a relaxation area day and night in the heart of the business center of La Défense .(Hauts de Seine dept 92) Easy on line 1 of  Metro or bus 73! More info here: La Defense le Parvis

And the easy busfacile of No 73 , great ride above ground Paris!!! Busfacile route of bus 73

The first sound radar of Ile-de-France region  installed at Saint-Forget (Yvelines dept 78). Right in the Parc Naturel Régional de la Haute Vallée de Chevreuse natural park. The machine is installed at the foot of the route des 17-tournants, (D91)a favorite playground for bikers, where a lot of noise is observed every weekend.  More money for the govt that is all.

And how about Rillettes or Pâte? Well is some differences for you to know.

For the rillettes, it will be best  seated. In the shade on a blanket, at the foot of a country maple. At the folding  table of a bungalow on the Atlantic coast. If the rillettes are accompanied by a beautiful slice of country bread and, according to connoisseurs, small pink radishes, they are also indissociably from a certain idea of ​​generosity. They are consumed among friends , and on toast, where they will be deposited in contiguous mounds. We do not spread the rillettes. Anyway, it’s at will, and when you want. And if not, rather Le Mans or Tours? Both ! Touraine, where, according to Rabelais, the specialty was born in the 15C, gained its protected geographical indication (PGI) in 2013.

The pâte is eaten standing. In sandwich. zinc-lined at the nearest bar-tabac. Then slice chopped to better garnish the bread. And with that ? A simple wine. Rosé will do. Go and find out why, it is easy to imagine that the pâte, if not the best friend of the barnyard, is that of the man, which he accompanies perfectly contemporary solitude

It would be wrong to reduce the face-to-face rillettes-pâté to a sociological differentiation (the tribe vs the individual), to a semantic distinction (gluttony vs appetite), to an ergonomic quarrel (sit vs stand), even a multi-departmental litigation (Sarthe / Indre-et-Loire-Orne / Calvados). These local products tell the same story: that of know-how. And the best of my belle France, enjoy them!

Another favorite of mine and very popular here too! The pizza!!!

The pizza has a long history: the word appears, as early as 997, in an archive document in medieval Latin from the cathedral of Gaeta, not far from Naples, Italy. Since then, it has conquered the world. In Pizza.  A book Pizza. Cultures et mondialisation (CNRS Editions, 2016)  or cultures and globalization CNRS Editions, 2016, the anthropologist Sylvie Sanchez traces the amazing story of this global success. In the 19C, pizza is a salty baking dough that the Italian people consume in the street. “The pizza is in oil, the pizza is in the bacon, the pizza is lard, the pizza is cheese, the pizza is tomato, the pizza is small fish,” writes Alexandre Dumas in 1844.

In the  19-20C, hundreds of thousands of Italian immigrants came to France or the United States introduce pizza to their adopted country. A first laboratory  held by the De Lorenzo brothers opened in 1885 in “Little Italy”, the Italian district of New York. During the decades that followed, the first pizzerias appeared in Marseille, the Mecca of Neapolitan immigration, then in other French cities. The pizza then knows, in the 20C, and especially after WWII, an almost universal diffusion. Indeed it is all over and I am glad!

Tourists at the cemetery? (me never undertand to come to see a cemetery! ) However, nothing fatal in this, it is simply the daily show offered to residents of Père-Lachaise, one of the most famous necropolis in the world, located in a rural and particularly green area of ​​the 20éme arrondissement. Its 43 hectares are explored every day by tourists to various centers of interest. Here, it is a paradise for architecture students,  some “inhabitants” have taken the concept of “last home” very seriously and have been built mini-palaces, neoclassical, Gothic or Haussmann, which ensure daily visits. Pére-Lachaise is also the rallying point of fans of all kinds. Bibliophiles can come to greet Alfred de Musset or Honoré de Balzac. Music fans have more choices than Fnac: from Frederic Chopin to Jim Morrison, all genres are represented. By dint of going down every day at the metro station Charles-Michels, in Paris, we ended up associating this name with a mall and a stubborn perfume of urine.:::More info here: Official cemetery Pére Lachaise

A twenty minute walk … Opened a year and a half ago in the 11éme arrondissement of Paris, Hotel La Nouvelle République has made multiculturalism a philosophy. From the entrance, a fragrance with orange blossom, specially composed, tickles the nostrils. The decoration of the 30 rooms (including 2 with terrace) mixes the Scandinavian style and the warmth of the Moroccan furniture. The hotel’s logo – a hand, found on the front door – refers to the hand of Fatma, a symbol of protection in North Africa. The staff is international and multilingual (some speaking up to 7 languages!). Tea, coffee and small treats are self-service all day for guests. The property also hosts jazz concerts. Hotel La Nouvelle Republique, 9, rue Moret, Paris 11th . More info here:

Sad news:  The Paris Commercial Court pronounced  yesterday, July 25, the immediate liquidation of the fashion brand Sonia Rykiel, placed in receivership since April 18. The Boulevard Saint-Germain building in Paris in the 6éme arrondissement, where the brand has its historic headquarters will be no longer. Sonia Rykiel’s house is put into liquidation.  The Paris Commercial Court ruled on the fate of the fashion brand founded in 1968. The company had been owned since 2012 by the group First Heritage Brands of Hong Kong. As evidence by their webpage momentarily indisponible; Sonia Rykiel

What to do in cities and go to a beach;my favorites!

Île de loisirs de Cergy-Pontoise, 1, rue des Étangs , 95001, Neuville-sur-Oise,  dept Val d’Oise 95 From 6h to 20h / Free. Not even 30 km from Paris, six huge ponds and 5000 m2 of fine sand, almost straight from the Caribbean. There is also infrastructure for the kids, and lots of activities for the whole family. And to make the thing even cooler, we will even have the opportunity to fish if we wish. Great! More info here in French: Ile de Loisirs Cergy Pontoise 95

Bassin de La Villette , Quai de Loire – 19éme Paris. Until September 1st.  Free. How not to evoke the famous basin of La Villette? In the context of Paris Beaches, the large basin of the Villette quay side of the Loire is laid out in several areas open to swimming and fathoms. Closest to the tourist  center of Paris. More info here: Bassin de la Villette Paris 75019

Île de loisirs du Val de Seine Chemin du Rouillard – 78480, Verneuil-sur-Seine (Yvelines 78)  Until September 2 from 10h to 19h From 3.80 €. Huge beach on the horizon!  260 hectares of woods, with huge ponds and lakes in the beach. And for the sportsmen, there is enough to feast with water skiing or pedalo. We just have to close our eyes and it’s like being in the South …And closest to us back then my boys love it!! More info hereIle de Loisirs du Val de Seine 78

Meaux Plage Quai Jacques Prévert From 11h to 19h / Free The perfect place to swim with your family! Meaux Plage is located within the Patis Nature Park, and offers activities of all kinds. But above all, you can swim tranquillou, or tan on the sand. And for the kids, a paddling pool is available! The sentimental favorite as it is my dear late wife Martine native town! More info here: City of Meaux on the beach 77

It was 1919 when Citroën made a shy first appearance in the car market at the fifteenth auto show. And yet, a few years later, Citroën is at the origin of the biggest big bangs of the French car. In 1934, the Traction Avant (forward traction) immediately demotes everything that rolls. It’s even the gangster’s favorite vehicle for its exceptional handling: powerful, it tames the centrifugal force (and the police). As early as 1948, the two horses enjoyed great popularity. Produced more than five million copies, it is one of the ten best-selling French cars in history. Today, the company belongs to the PSA Group and has found stability. Always with this idea of ​​the French class, Citroën gives birth to its luxury brand in 2009.  See it at the Monnaie de Paris Exhibition “The world inspired by Citroën”. Monnaie de Paris. 11, quai de Conti ( 6éme). Until August 18, 2019. Tuesday to Sunday from 11h to 19h, Wednesday until 21h. Free entry .More info here :

And there you go another news from France for you, and I thank you over the years since that november of 2010 that started my blog and today almost 700 followers! Beyond my expectations. Enjoy reading about my belle France. De fond de mon coeur merci beaucoup!

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


July 25, 2019

Restaurant: Mont Saint Michel!

So here I go with my restaurant rounds of my belle France. This time take you to a difficult place as it is nowdays very touristic, no 1 visited site in Normandy!! So pricey me think. However, I am doing my nostalgic runs as where we had fun with my family so this one fits in well.

We have come to the mount a couple of times, and my boys have come even on school trips and we have tasted the famous! However, the La Vielle Auberge was unique. We were not looking for anything nor had reservations, just walking up and down the mount until hunger sets in and we look for a place to eat.

Behold we passed by the La Veille Auberge and saw a quant decoration old world tables set up as a restaurant and we decided to came in, little did we know the auberge is also a fine hotel (not always are both). Oh yes yes of course, this is inside the Mont Saint Michel! So therefore, let me tell you a bit more on it ok

mont saint michel

The La Vielle Auberge or Old Inn, at  GrandRue-Intra Muros, Mont-Saint-Michel. This is a very nice hotel but we came for the restaurant! Again, they are best known for the hotel. Our memories are that we did not know when we were there,it was a hotel!  and we came across them because of the nice rustic views  in the restaurant. The atmosphere was very nice old, good service, food ok as it is a major tourist site, no 1 in Normandy!

Mont saint michel

Mont Saint Michel

If you are planning to spend a magical stay, near the famous Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, tradition perpetuated the welcome of pilgrims, terrace overlooking the ramparts and overlooking the bay of Mont Saint-Michel , in a house listed as a historical monument, with 11 rooms with unique decoration. And, also, close for you to see other towns if with a car as the hotel is about  24 km from Avranches, 49 km from Cancale, and  Dol-de-Bretagne is 30 km away.

Mont saint michel

The thing that made us come in is the charming  brasserie with a terrace where you can enjoy simple and good dishes with idyllic views of the spire overlooking the Abbey as well as the bay of Mont Saint Michel from the terrace. Enjoy regional dishes with seafood, buckwheat pancakes and omelets.We had a wonderful service  nice and prompt , the prices we control with a main dish, bottle of rose wine, extra dishes of fries, and coffee expresso, I had the menu at 18€ with salad entrée, steak =entrecote, fries and a tarte normande or apple pie that was the best of it all. All came out to 23.40€ per person.  The anecdote here is that my dear late wife Martine completely change the menu on the omelets with more onions and less peppers and they oblige! All served very quickly during a beautiful evening on the terrace. In short, we must be not able to find much worse on the Mount !!!

Mont saint michel

Some webpages as usual by me to help you plan your trip here are

Official La Vielle Auberge on the restaurant

Tourist office of Mont Saint Michel on restaurants see La Vielle Auberge

There you go another dandy right up on the Mont Saint Michel with the best views of the bay lovely terrace ,and decent food at still affordable prices, enjoy the La Vielle Auberge!

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



July 24, 2019

Restaurant : Toulouse!

And why not mention this before! One of my favorite cities in France, and of sentimental value as there is family from the wife’s side! Of course, we have come here often and several posts in my blog, but I feld this place needs to be told more and we love it!

Let me tell you a bit more on the Le Louchebem,  at 3, place Victor-Hugo ; Loges 3, 4 et 5. In the Marché Victor Hugo market! and in Toulouse of course!

The Le Louchebem opened its doors in 1994, above the Victor Hugo market. This traditional establishment is a family home that makes both   restaurant and butcher shop. It holds the title of Master Restaurateur. The cuisine prepared here is made from fresh and carefully chosen products. The setting is picturesque, the atmosphere friendly, the service as professional as smiling. That is to say if it is a good address for the local Toulousans as for visitors passing through. It is essential to taste the homemade specialties, as hearty as delicious as our favorite cassoulet. The Févoulet is the ancestor of cassoulet and is a very old Occitan recipe made with beans, duck confit, pork rinds and sausage, before the féves especial beans are replaced by the white beans brought back from Latin America in the 16C. For over 20 years, every first weekend of the month at the Victor-Hugo market in Toulouse, Le Louchebem has been honouring its sublime féves bean cassoulet to the delight of its loyal clientele. There are also the classic cuts of meats such as the faux filet steaks XL , XXL , and XXXL; the   veal kidney, XXL beef fillet. And the plate of the 4 meats “La Gilbe” with walnut, bib, faux fillet, steak.

A very busy place of 12h lunch.  Every time I passed in Toulouse I find with great pleasure this place of sharing and for lovers of good meat and cassoulet . The pleasant terrace, the service always professional, smiling and caring waiters and waitresses. Don’t miss it while in Toulouse.

Official webpage for Le Louchebem of Toulouse

Yelp reviews on Le Louchebem at Toulouse


And where is it? One of the best spots in Toulouse; here is a brief history.

It was not until 1827, after the demolition of the ramparts surrounding the heart of the city since the Middle Ages, that the square where the Victor Hugo market stands today will be built. It took place in 1827 under the name of Place du Marché-au-Bois and hosted from its inception a market with wood, fodder and then flea market.

The Place du Marché-au-Bois was renamed the Place Victor Hugo in 1886 at the occasion of a coronation of the poet by the Floral Games. In 1892, the new Victor Hugo market was inaugurated. Under its metal halls there were 283 shops. Modern and functional, it is the largest covered market in Toulouse. It was in 1959 that the current market-parking was born. this new Victor Hugo market which will become the first paid car park in Toulouse, with 670 parking spaces and a market of 100 exhibitors. It went again renovations in 2016 and now it is sparkling wonderful even better place to be at in Toulouse.

Official webpage for the Marché Victor Hugo

There you go another dandy in the pink city of Toulouse. Wonderful town, and lovely folks of course! Do not missed the town, and of course cannot missed Le Louchebem if in town or rather come in just for it, all worth it I say. Enjoy it as we do.

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



July 23, 2019

Passage du Nord, Brussels!

I told you that we have come to Belgium and especially Brussels lots of time over the years and it is one of our favorite cities here. One can only think of beers, mussels/fries, and the many monuments of great historical and architectural value. However, we ;also,  come here for the chocolates.

Looking for them we end up finding beauties that we have remember for years and many times go back to them. One particular place is the Passage du Nord or the North passage, a shopping center of old world charm and the recipient of a Neuhaus chocolate store!


Let me tell you a bit on it ok.

The Passage du Nord was built in 1881-1882 following the vaulting of the Senne river and the creation of the Boulevards du Centre. The Passage du Nord (North Passage) is a shopping mall that connects Bd Adolphe Max to Rue Neuve. It was born at the beginning of Bd Adolphe Max between the Place de Brouckère and the Maison des Chats (House of Cats).

In 1865, King Leopold II vowed that Brussels would succeed in getting rid of this cloaca called the Senne before the end of his reign. In October 1865, the municipal council of the city of Brussels adopted a project to remove the secondary arms of the river, to rectify the winding course of its main arm and to vault it between the train station du Midi and the north of the city. This is how the boulevards of the center ,originally named Boulevard du Hainaut, Central, Nord and La Senne and later renamed Boulevard Lemonnier, Anspach, Max and Jacqmain.

It was in this context that in 1881-1882 a shopping mall called Passage du Nord was designed to connect the Bd du Nord(later Bd Adolphe Max) and Rue Neuve. The Passage du Nord continues the tradition of covered shopping streets established in Brussels in the 19C.

Official webpage of the Passage du Nord shopping center

As said , we mainly came looking for it as we saw in a brochure the chocolatier Neuhaus , who is one of the best in the world and in Belgium for more than 160 years. We were not disappointed lol! We love chocolates to die for them! And we agree the best are the Belgians.

The Neuhaus chocolate store here is at: Official Neuhaus chocolates at passage du nord

Even thus,can only find it in French will give you the site of the Heritage Brussels on the information of the Passage du Nord, a memorable building that I was lucky enouth to find it and come back with the family as well. Hope you enjoy it as we did/do.

Heritage Brussels on the Passage du Nord

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


July 23, 2019

Hypermarket: Auchan!

So weird but just came up with the nostalgia of many trips in Europe especially France, Spain, and Luxembourg where we shop of a favorite hypermarket not found in my current neck of the woods of Brittany, but always on the lookout for it anywhere.  I like to bring back souvenirs of our trips and tell you and remind me of the Auchan hypermarkets or Alcampo as known in Spain.

While we started out with them in the Yvelines dept 78 of the Ïle de France region near Paris we really enjoyed them very much and became our supermarket for sundry items (the meats, cheeses, fruits etc we purchase in local markets). It became a routine affair of ours to do and plan the shopping so we have time to sightseeing as well. Auchan was our hypermarket, and now let me share some properties I have written before on my previous trip posts but would like to make one post to them here.

First a bit of history on Auchan:

Auchan is a supermarket chain belonging to the Mulliez Family Association. The brand  was founded and managed by Gérard Mulliez in 1961 until 2006. In 2018, it is the twelfth largest distributor in the world, and the sixth largest French distributor.  Gérard Mulliez opens the first Auchan store in a disused factory of the Phildar company, founded by his father, also named Gerard. Covering an area of ​​600 m2, this store was located in the district of Hauts-Champs, Roubaix (Nord 59). This store had to be abandoned in the 1980s because it wasnot  competitive with the one that had been built in Leers (Nord 59). The building was shaved to make way for a more modern store in 2003.

In 1981, Auchan created the Alcampo brand in Spain. In 1983, Auchan created Banque Accord, the group’s banking subsidiary. In 1989, Auchan opened its first hypermarket in Italy, and  in 1996,  opened hypermarkets in Luxembourg and Poland. In 1998 Auchan opened its first hypermarket in Hungary and Thailand. In 2004, the first Auchan hypermarket is opened in China. In 2006, the first Auchan hypermarket opened in Romania. In 2016, Auchan’s first hypermarket was inaugurated in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and Auchan moved to Senegal. In 2019 withdraw from Italy with the sale of almost all of its subsidiary. Auchan announces to withdraw also from Vietnam. Its 2018 turnover is 50.3 billion euros, including more than 50% realized abroad. The Auchan group’s main shareholder is the Mulliez family association (AFM), founded and run by the Mulliez family, a family from the north of France. The participation in the Auchan group is the largest in the association which also has shares in other brands such as Banque Accord, Décathlon, Leroy Merlin, Kiabi, Norauto, Boulanger, Saint Maclou, Flunch, Alinéa, GrosBill, and Pimkie.

Official Auchan stores

Official Auchan holding group

And to share some of the properties dear to me over the years and hope you can stop by and enjoy them too. Many nice memories with my family that still hold strong today even stronger without my dear late wife Martine.

We always love to shop at Auchan, and we have good souvenirs of our shopping on the road warrior trips such as in Pau. The CC Auchan in a wonderful place with all you need including Micromania ,and Flunch cafeteria, nice refreshing site to relax after a long day of sightseeing and very close to our hotel and in out of the city into our sightseeing mode! The store is here:


Another spot we love and had come even recently again to Saint Nazaire. We came first here and on our way back , we just did our groceries at Auchan, area of Trignac, heck its only 110 kms from us so on a cool day it was no problems, love it! More on it here:

You will love the centre commercial  Quatre Temps (shopping center) at La Défense,  its one of the best in the area. You have 219 stores, 46 restaurants, and 28 cinema showing rooms! Last count and all surrounded by a great public transportation hub and the Arche de la Défense tower . You have shopping galore at the Auchan hypermarket!  For detail info Auchan is here:

The Centre Commercial Quatre Temps is here:

The Centro Comercial “Parque Corredor” has an hypermarket Alcampo (from the French chain Auchan), and more than 180 stores.  By car as we do mostly is on the road M-108 Carretera or highway of Ajalvir-Torrejon between Km 2 and km 5 well posted on the road. You can go here by bus from Madrid Estacion America on bus 224 and then change in Torrejon de Ardoz for bus 254.For info on  Auchan here:

The webpage for the Parque Corredor how to get there is here :

The shopping center or centre commercial Les 3 Fontaines  in Cergy ( 95)  were a favorite for the grocery shopping at Auchan right off the A15 autoroute , and other stores as well as the best Hertz rental in the area while we lived not far.  More on Auchan here:

The CC Les 3 Fontaines easy from Paris on the train from St Lazare or the RER A, info is here:

And in our beloved Cuenca ,Castilla La Mancha, Spain, we love it as base on a house in the mountains outside the town, we came regularly to shop here and very nice selection and nice bakeries too in the shopping center around Auchan. Oops it is call here AlCampo ,and have discounts for gas/petrol with the shopping ticket!!!. More info on Alcampo here:

The Centro Comercial (shopping center)  Alcampo info is here:



You have a huge supermarket AlCampo at the wonderful in Madrid shopping center la Vaguada by metro line 9 Barrio del Pinar. This is a wonderful shopping center that I encourage you to take a look. In a nice residential area of my beloved Madrid. The Alcampo info is here:

The Vaguada shopping center info is here:

This is a memorable trip we used to make even for lunch same day when we lived in Versailles! And we came back for vacation from Brittany and of course stop here again. This is the Kirchberg district,outside city center Luxembourg surrounded by  many European Union institutions. However, for the shopping center ,the Auchan hypermarket and the cinema next door is tops. Easy out by bus no 16 from city center and we have gone several times by car with a nice underground parking. The wonderful  Auchan hypermarket is here:

The centre commercial Kirchberg with directions is here:

And last but not least; we have found the closest we think to us is in Saint Sébastian sur Loire just over the side of Nantes in the Loire Atlantique dept 44 of Pays de la Loire. We went in the Auchan hypermarket of Saint Sebastian sur Loire as it was on our way home on the N844 ,and did our groceries!!! Now we are planning doing shopping there too. Auchan is getting closer to us. Enjoy the Auchan info here: Auchan Saint Sebastian sur Loire store

The shopping center at Saint Sébastian sur Loire info here: Shopping center Auchan of Saint Sébastian sur Loire

saint sebastian sur loire

There you go, because even visiting many times you need to buy groceries and sundry items and these are the best places to get them quickly. The Auchan experience is tops. Enjoy it

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

July 23, 2019

Restaurant: Villaines la Gonais, A11!

So here I am telling you now to eat at a expressway restaurant lol! Well in my belle France we have everything and some amazing places ! In my road warrior trips I have come to know many but this one somehow comes up memorable. Let me tell you a bit on it ok.

We like to drive and it shows , all over, the best way to reach two points in my opinion. And we do it the old fashion way avoiding tolls (or taxes!) but sometimes we can’t avoid the pesky charges for reason of rapidity or simple less tiring and or both. So we have taken the A11 highway/motorway/expressway to reach Paris and beyond from my Brittany.  While doing this we could not wait to reach destination and eat so we stop at a rest stop or Aire!  And yes, we have found a gem as well!

A bit on the town by the rest area I am mentioning here.

Villaines-la-Gonais  is located in the department of Sarthe no 72 in the Pays de la Loire region The rural town forms between the Huisne and the Queune Creek a triangle of 1,000 ha once crossed by a Roman road, then a Royal road, then the N 23 and today the A11 highway/ motorway  bordering the town. Villaines la Gonais has less than 600 inhabitants. The two significant monuments here are   St. Hilary’s Church which houses a 15C baptismal fonts and the Château de Beauchamps. (private) Le Brame du Cerf walks with the deers of 4 km is a local event.


City of Villaines la Gonais in its history in FRench

Tourist office of the dept 72 Sarthe on useful info

The rest area or Aire of Villaines-la-Gonais on the A11 direction Le Mans- Paris. In a single building, very bright, hosts the Italian restaurant Stratto, the shop, the relaxation areas and children’s games, the toilets… etc It is equipped with a playground, gas/fuel, showers, baby space, parking PL, inflating station, buffet, shop/boutique and also an ENI Café.

Villaines la Gonais

It was a dire stop as my gang was claiming my head if I did not stop, been a long distance driver but anyway they always won ! ! ! I stopped and was surprise and we had a great family meal rest time, good for the souvenirs of always.

Villaines la Gonais

I know especially Stratto Restaurant in Paris at 49 bd Saint Michel but was surprise to find a franchise version on the highway A11. There are many choices, everything is appetizing if you like Italian specialties. The welcome was nice. I was served quickly. In Stratto, it’s an Italian concept with paninis, pizza and pasta. People will also be able to come and eat a steak if they wish.

Official Stratto Restaurant of Villaines La Gonais

Villaines la Gonais

And a bit more on the A11 expressway with tolls but you know the N12 goes along for free too ::)

The A11 highway/motorway or expressway as you wish is from Paris to Nantes via Le Mans and Angers, the road takes you from the most beautiful forests of the Sarthe (dept 72) to the unforgettable beaches of the Loire Atlantique (dept 44).Also known as the Océane or ocean road, the A11 offers a connection with many highways at Le Mans, a real tourist hub. The A11, which belongs to the European routes E50, E60 and E501, directly serves the cities of Chartres, Le Mans, Angers and Nantes, and, via A81, Laval, Rennes, and all other Breton cities. It is 343 km long between greenery and must-see cultural sites to discover. Enjoy it.

And now you have a nice ride on the roads of France, and the A11 even with tolls is very good indeed. And if passing by it by all means stop on this rest stop at Villaines la Gonais on your way to Paris ok.

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

July 22, 2019

Fresh produce at Cogniéres 78!!!

So in my search for good food and good drinks at affordable prices in my belle France, let me tell you about our find while living in the Yvelines 78 of the Ïle de France region,in the city of Versailles, capital of the Yvelines. Even if things seems to change there a bit.

In my belle France, we are always looking for new things to try, foodies and drinkers with moderation we go anywhere. And lucky to have a bunch here of world class status. We are as a country really deep into several layers sometimes call AOC etc and the same goes for every vegetable , fruit or processed food or drink, they are always levels like a caste system.

There are huge hypermarket, only good for the necessaries of comfort such as laundry goods, and down to little tiny neighborhood supermarkets. There are places of private initiatives selling direct from the farm, (we love it) and there are markets in every town bringing the best from the area but sometimes from afar and abroad. While living in Versailles, we search for these phenomenons and found one in Cogniéres not far from us. Let me tell you a bit about it for my memories and hopefully you can use them too if staying long here or living!

Let me tell you a bit about the town of  Cogniéres.

Coignières is located in the department of Yvelines 78 in the region Ile-de-France, 29 km from Paris , about 18 km from Versailles. It is adjacent to Maurepas in the north, Mesnil-Saint-Denis and Lévis-Saint-Nom in the east, Essarts-le-Roi in the south and Saint-Rémy-l’Honoré in the west. It is traverse by the national road N10 which can be reach from Versailles and goes to Rambouillet, The town of Coignières has a train station on the line of Paris-Montparnasse – Brest, whose route is parallel to the N 10, and which is served by the trains of line N of the Transilien train Paris-Rambouillet. Coignières is one of the 12 towns of the new agglo metro area of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines..

Agglo metro area of Saint Quentin en Yvelines on Cogniéres

A bit of history I like the town existed already in the 8C since it is in 768 that it is quoted, under the name of Cotonarias, as being given by the king Pépin the Short to the abbey of Saint-Denis. Since the 11C, Coignières has played an important role as a coach stage on the road linking Paris to Chartres. You can still see a former coaching inn. The relay station for horses was built in 1706, where is today the No. 99 of the road N10 Chartres to Paris.

The town of Cogniéres on transports

The story of Marché du Frais that we patronised in Cogniéres is this one.

The group, on a human scale, is above all a family business. Taking over from their parents established on the markets, the Quattrucci brothers opened the first store in 1986 in Villemomble “Hyperprimeur”, then in Argenteuil in 1989 “La ferme de Spahi”.    Since, successively several large stores, then this year under the brand Marché Frais Géant have seen their appearances.  In 2019 the brand Marché Frais Géant becomes a partner of the Casino group, the 12 stores becomes 9 -Great Market Supermarkets Giant and 3 -Supermarkets Fresh Market Leader Price. Do not know where this will lead but we are already sad to see the change and we have good souvenirs of the store in Cogniéres as found by my dear late wife Martine.


Giant Fresh Market for Hypermarkets, Leader Price Fresh Market for Supermarkets. After a first test started a year ago, Casino convinced the Quattrucci family to put the 13 stores to its network. The brand is mainly located in Île-de-France and has already generated no less than 300 million euros in sales in 2018 across all thirteen stores. These stores have an area of 4000 to 6000 m² and have a huge fruit and vegetable department. The products are presented flat, with a universe dedicated to large parcels and a fresh-packed assortment rather short, centered on large rotations. For the sake of optimization, some of the reserves are directly stored in the sales area, on racks, above the shelves.

Marché au Frais store in Cogniéres 78

We came across same parking lot to continue shopping in the marché Futé for fresh produce and papery very nice and inexpensive all in stop shopping; great memories with the family indeed; love it.

coignieres marche fute feb10

Indeed it was a different scheme back then in 2008-11 and we used it to get inexpensive vegetables and fruits there at huge discounts. There are beginning to show up in my area see my other post on Cesson-Sevigné 35 . We look forward to have the choices and prices available in France. Hope you can try them too while in your long term stays here. The store in Cogniéres is very nice indeed and a good area where we got butcher products and wines as well.

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

July 22, 2019

Lindt Chocolates; Oloron Sainte Marie!

Ok so in my gustative rounds of my belle France and the road warrior trails going between France and Spain and vice versa I have encounter several nice moments. Places of good food, drink and good cheers that have become memorable with the family in tow. We have passed by Oloron Sainte Marie many times most of them were just passing thru, with time we became curious of the town and went in. I have several posts on it in my blog.

Today, I like to tell of something most love, and we are dear fans, chocolates! We are lucky to have the best in Europe and France is not behind. However, the Lindt’s are our favorite bars anywhere. We came upon a brochure telling us there is a Lindt chocolates outlet store here and manufacturing plant!!! So obviously we came for it!!!

But first a bit for reference about the town.

Oloron-Sainte-Marie is situated in the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques no 64, in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Located in contact with the Aquitaine basin and the Pyrenees, 50 km from Spain by the national road N134, 100 km from the Atlantic Ocean by the departmental roads D936 and D28 linking Oloron to Peyrehorade, and the confluence of two gaves (rivers), the Aspe and Ossau , which meet to form the Gave d’Oloron. It is the capital of the Pays d’Oloron, the city lies at the birth of  four valleys such as  the valleys of Aspe, of Ossau and the Barétous as well as the Soule

And a bit on the Lindt story here:

Lindt & Sprüngli AG is a chocolate manufacturer headquartered in Kilchberg, canton of Zurich, Switzerland. Today, the group has its own production sites in Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, the United States and Austria. The company Sprüngli was founded in 1845 in Zurich by the confectioner David Sprüngli-Schwarz. In 1899, the company acquired the chocolate factory of the famous Rudolf Lindt in Bern. The brand, which then becomes Lindt and Sprüngli, has been gaining momentum ever since.

And now about those chocolates!!!

Boutique Outlet Lindt ,2 Avenue Mal de Lattre de Tassigny, Oloron-Sainte-Marie.

In the Chocolate Bar at the LINDT Factory Outlet, enjoy a chocolate experience with hot or seasoned beverages, milkshakes and LINDT chocolate ice creams to enjoy on-site or take-out. Great place to taste and mingle with locals and visitors alike.  LINDT Chocolate Bars are the perfect destination to discover and explore the ultimate pleasure of LINDT chocolate.

oloron sainte marie

A stone’s throw from the chocolate factory in Oloron Sainte-Marie, the factory store offers a wide choice of irresistible chocolates, created with passion by the Master Chocolatiers. Come and discover offers of “factory destocking”, exclusives available only in this stores, many promotional offers but also a wide range of chocolates by weight to compose yourself your assortment and gift boxes to offer or share. A visit to a LINDT shop is always an unforgettable experience, and do not forget the Museum!!!

oloron sainte marie

In the Lindt and Sprüngli factory store, a discovery area explains in particular in some panels the steps of the manufacture of your favorite chocolates. You will also find the brand’s specialties, such as the famous Créations, Connaisseurs or Champs Elysées, at factory prices, and unpublished products. Indeed, the shop offers assortments reserved for export. For chocolate lovers or gourmands, this address is Ali Baba’s cave!  You will discover its many facets including the astonishing new products.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Lindt factory outlet Oloron Sainte Marie

Tourist office Pyrénées Atlantique 64 on Lindt chocolates at Oloron Sainte Marie

There you go a must to stop by while in the area! We love it!!! On the spot chocolate delights, and very nice ambiance not to mention the prices. Enjoy the Lindt chocolates at Oloron Sainte Marie!

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



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