Archive for October, 2019

October 21, 2019

Museum of Fine Arts and Lace of Alençon!!

And the beat goes on in this wonderful off the beaten path city of Alençon in the Orne dept 61 of the region of Normandy in my belle France! There is so much to see and I am just tapping the surface. Enjoy the museum of fine arts and lace of Alençon!

The Musée des Beaux Arts et la Dentelle or Museum of Fine Arts and Lace of Alencon, adjoining the library, is devoted, to the schools of French and Italian painting of the 4C to the beginning of the 20C and to the arts of Cambodia at 1900. Temporary exhibitions, especially on famous fashion designers, are organized regularly.


In 1857, an establishment intended to spread the taste of the arts and sciences was officially founded in Alençon, following a regrouping of a cabinet of natural history and some works created after the French revolution.

It was in the second half of the 19C that most of the museum’s collection was formed. Among the donors are Chennevières, Horace His de La Salle, Leriche, Jacquette, Noblesse, etc. But it was not until the end of the 19C  that the lace of Alençon made its appearance in the museum. The Museum of Fine Arts and Lace currently occupies part of the former Jesuit College restored in 1981. In 2018, the Polish artist of urban art NeSpoon intervenes on the facade of the museum


The Museum of Fine Arts and Lace exhibits paintings by among others Willem Key, Philippe de Champaigne, Le Dominiquin, Antonie Palamedesz, Nicolas Maes, Pieter Boel, Luca Giordano, Charles de la Fosse, Jean Jouvenet, Alexandre-François Desportes, Jean-Francois de Troy, Jean Restout, Etienne Allegrain, Charles-Paul Landon, Charles Thevenin, Jean-Paul Laurens, Gustave Courbet, Henri Fantin-Latour, Eugene Boudin, Georges Lacombe, and Bernard Buffet.


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

Official museum of fine arts and lace of Alencon

City of Alencon on the museum of fine arts and lace

Tourist office of Alencon on the museum of fine arts and lace

And there you go a gem in off the beaten path Alençon in the Orne 61 of Normandy. You will do well to take a detour just for it. Hope you enjoy the introduction of the Museum of Fine Arts and Lace.

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

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October 20, 2019

The Maison d’Ozé of Alençon!

And here I take you now on a bit of a tour of Alençon , an off the beaten path city of my belle France. This is the Orne dept 61 of the region of Normandy. Let me tell you a bit of what you get to see its the tourist office now!

The Maison d’Ozé or House of Ozé from the 14C of monumental and severe aspect, this house with simple lines and pure, half-manor, half-strong house, with the thick walls, is a construction of granite located at n ° 10 of the rue d’Etoupée, between the ramparts of Plénître and the Place de la Magdeleine ,then occupied by the cemetery of Notre-Dame parish. The main part, comprising a large porch, belongs to the transition style of the second half of the 15C; the adjoining pavilion, with pointed roofs, is of the following century, but it was built in harmony with the latter. The first floor is lit by several high windows, some of which have mullions. The interior of the building is composed of very beautiful rooms. The rear facade, overlooking a garden, includes a cylindrical turret with a square top. From the garden, the visitor can see vestiges of ramparts constituting the fences of this property and which recall the fortified city.


Guillaume Le Coustellier, alderman of the city, secretary of the Duke of Alençon Charles IV and son-in-law of Catherine Le Gay, lady of Ozé owned it. On the death of Guillaume, who became lord of Ozé after the death of his mother-in-law, hence the name given to the house, the hotel falls to his daughter Jeanne, wife of Jean de Frotté, secretary of the Duchess of Alençon Marguerite d’Orléans, who sells it to François, her elder brother in 1566. It is he who has built the pavilion adjoining the building. His eldest son, Thomas, maitre d’hôtel of the King of Navarre, future Henri IV, married in 1573 Françoise de Courdemanche who, it is said, will make several honors of the residence to welcome the Vert-Galant.  The property remains in the hands of the family Le Coustellier until 1616, date when it is sold and subsequent purchases to 1854, the building wasthen  bought by the City of Alençon in 1861 in the project, it is then used in 1865 to house the fine arts exhibition, as a barracks in September 1871, then converted into a nursery school.

The Historical Society moved into two rooms from 1906 to 1927, when the museum was built there until 1981. The school of music found its place in the building until 1973. The Hôtel du Mesnil now houses exhibition halls and the services of the Tourist Office. In the garden, there is a granite window, with a lintel double brace and shield, from the destruction of the oven ban which was located rue du Bercail. This window would be that of the girl’s room, or of the wife, of the keeper who would have had kindness for the King of Navarre , again!  in 1576. At the foot of the Maison d’Ozé there is an experimental garden of  585 m2 of orchards managed for maintenance by the town of Alençon and the Orne Horticulture Society.


City of Alencon on heritage and monuments

Tourist office of Alencon on things to see and do

There you go an unique walk and very educational to get knowledge into the city of Alençon. Do hope you enjoy this off the beaten path gem of the Orne in  Normandy.

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


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October 20, 2019

Some streets of Alençon!

Ok I kind of like this exercise on th streets of my belle France. I love to walk and even thus not a forest walker while in the city they need to keep up with me lol! And so lucky to have such a wonderful collection of towns that are just gorgeous to walk on them. Let me tell you briefly on the nice streets of Alençon.

Alençon is in the Department of the Orne,no. 61 in the region of Normandy. Alençon is at the crossroads of the national road RN12 connecting Paris with Brittany , which I use extensively as not a toll road! The city is located at 192 km from Paris and 158 km from Rennes.

The hugely beautiful street here is the Grande Rue.

The Grande-Rue  connects with the streets of rue de Fresnay and rue de Saint-Blaise. Alençon probably owes its birth, towards the 4C, to the intersection of a commercial road, uniting Spain and England by Maine and Normandy which probably ran along the streets or rues de  Le Mans, Bas-de-Montsort, Sarthe and Grande-Rue, as well as the Sarthe river on which a ford was arranged near the bridge of Sarthe. Constituting the main artery of the city in the Middle Ages, connecting the gates of Sées and Barre, it was called the rue du Chateau, rue Notre-Sire-le-Comte in 1282, Le-Conte in 1297, Monsieur -Le-Duc and Monsieur-le-Prince, named after its lords. The Grande-Rue, which will be widened between 1752 and 1756, is attested in 1364 in its current form.



There are plenty to see here and just gorgeous I like to mentioned them in brief. You can see the balconies of buildings of the 18C bearing the numbers 1 and 11; at No. 6, with its balconies, lintels, capitals, cornice, curvilinear pediment and skylights, built in 1858; Nos. 12 to 32 which offer typical Alençon facades of the 18C, decorated with wrought iron balconies, the first and the last of which have empty niches; and the facade covered with essences of the Petit Nègre, gabled house with overhanging floors, from the 15-16C, at No. 37. At No. 38 is an old court entrance which gave access to the Tribunal du Commerce or commercial court. The house n ° 44 occupied today by a pastry shop, at the corner of the rue du Bercail and Grande-Rue 160, facing the Notre-Dame Basilica, (see post) preserves the characters of a 15C building under its renovated facade


The following buildings are from the 18C. The numbers 52-54 are noticeable by their balconies and the 57 by its wooden panel. The part of Grande-Rue located between this crossroads and the Saint-Léonard Church (see post) is lined with buildings of architectural interest, with beautiful granite facades with pretty wrought iron balconies. Notable buildings include No. 76 dated 1860; the 77 with its stone facade, its pilasters, its frames, its paintings of carved bays and its moldings; the sign of the charcuterie at no. 79 which proclaims in the form of rebus “It is good from the feet to the head”; the No 81 with its half-timbered facade; the former porch of No 83, which gave access to the establishment of the nuns of Providence; the No 109 with its beautiful wooden skylight and the balconies of the no. 111. It is at No. 118, that Jacques Hébert, the famous revolutionary founder of the newspaper Le Père Duchesne, was born in 1757. The two windows are lintels double brace and shield.


Further at no  123,from the end of the 15C, has a door surmounted by a lintel hug and shield; on its timber-framed façade with corbelling, one can see a shield with a carved monogram representing initials and a key, perhaps the emblem of a locksmith.  At Nos. 135-137, from the 15C, with a large molded beam, are timber framed and bricks with corbelling, and the door of 137 is embellished with an arch in brace and escutcheon. In the past, the houses were equipped with galleries or awnings, called “porches”, protecting the onlookers from the rain or the sun, like that of the n ° 150, from the 15-16C, with three arcades with big round piers in granite . The buildings at no 153-157 are provided with balconies and the first has a beautiful door with small panels Louis XIII; the No 156 is 15C, and the no 158, from the 16C, has a skylight, a covered terrace and an iron balcony; at no  163, an octagonal stair tower of the 15C and, at No. 171, a Virgin overlooks the crossroads of the Étaux.

Moving on to other very nice streets on our walks we come to the Rue du Bercail. At no  6 is the Tribunal de Commerce. Built in the 15C and renovated in the 17C, the building was initially the home of a noble Normand family , the Érard de Ray, and was historically known by the name of Hôtel Erard de Ray. It was between 1636 to 1666  the seat of the General super intendant of Alençon. By an edit law of March 1710, the consular jurisdiction of Alençon was here that in 1790 became the seat of the Tribunal de Commerce. At rue du Bercail 15 you have the Hôtel Radigue  at 60 meters from the Basilica of Notre-Dame.


Another interesting street is that of the Rue du Jeudi (Thursday street) you can see the houses at no 42 44  dating from the 18C with a date shown on the façade of 1762. At No  31-33 also from the 18C it keeps its joinery on the first and second floor. The first floor retains balconies. At No 40 also dates from the 18C. And of course here is the post office La Poste!


And we have the Place  du Gén De Gaulle  located at the northern entrance to the city at the junction of Basingstoke, Quakenbrück and Wilson avenues, Demées and Saint-Blaise streets and boulevard de Strasbourg. Probably formed in the 17C, attested under the name of the Place de la Pyramide in 1898, it bears the name of Charles de Gaulle since 1947 and was inaugurated on the following July 14. More than half a century later, the name “Place de la Pyramide” is still used by most of the local folks.


And lastly, the  rue de la Poterne, with the Porte de la Poterne gate, destroyed in 1724, was a secondary opening pierced in a tower of the ramparts of a narrow passage, still existing, only allowing pedestrians to circulate.Quant indeed.


There you go a nice slow walk in old town Alençon, a wonderful experience indeed. Do walk my belle France and you will be enchanted , millions have! me too!!! Enjoy the streets of Alençon.

Some general webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Alencon on heritage and history

Tourist office of Alencon on things to see and do

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


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October 20, 2019

Government buildings are nice too in Alençon!!!

Don’t ask me why but usually do not take photos of government buildings well maybe the city hall but not others. And do not know why took of them all while visiting Alençon! I guess looking back they all have wonderful architecture and on most a nice piece of history. Hope you enjoy the government buildings of Alençon! Remember in the Orne dept 61 of the region of Normandy!

The Préfecture (regional govt) of the Orne  is at 39 Rue Saint-Blaise , and was originally a mansion built around 1630 by the election of Alençon, Charles de Fromont de Bouaille, Lord of the Besnardière. In 1676, Elisabeth d’Orléans, half-sister of the ” Grande Demoiselle”, and cousin of Louis XIV, Duchess of Guise and apanagist of the Duchy of Alençon, took possession of it.


Since 1815, the Hotel Fromont de La Besnardière has become the Prefecture of the Orne Department 61.  They gardens are open to the public only on heritage days. The hotel which houses the prefecture was built around 1630 by Charles Fromont of Besnardière, of Alençon. Elegant building of pure Louis XIII style, the hotel Fromont de La Besnardière consists of a central pavilion, with pyramidal roof and broken pediment, and two side pavilions, lower and more important, with high roofs.

Elisabeth d’Orléans had decided to bequeath her home to the Hôtel-Dieu, but after her death an endless family lawsuit took place and the hotel was finally recovered by king Louis XV in 1751. The latter gives it to the City to house the intendants. They will remain there until 1792. The main house, the pavilion adjoining, on the right, the two concierge pavilions on the right and left of the entrance gate. Only the park/garden can be visited. Belonging to the Department of the Orne since 1800, it makes the prefecture on same year. The Hôtel Fromont de La Besnardière is one of the most beautiful prefectural residences of France.

Official préfecture of the Orne dept 61

The Palais de Justice or courthouse at Place du Maréchal Ferdinand Foch was built from 1818-1824 in Neo Classic style. It was built due to the visit of Napoléon 1er in 1811 to Alençon. Not much to write about a courthouse just a wonderful architecture! and great free parking area!!

Official govt Courthouse of Alençon


The present Hôtel de Ville or  City Hall at Place du Maréchal Foch is at least the fifth building assigned to the municipal administration. In 1444, Alençon already owned a City Hall, a memory of the former municipality founded, it is said, by William III first Earl of Alençon, but its location is unknown. This City Hall, disappeared during the English occupation, is restored by Louis XI in 1473 and installed in a house located in the rue aux Goguets , now current  rue de l’Ancienne-Mairie which remains until around 1650, when it is transferred to Place du Palais  in a house built in 1587. In 1728, a fourth building was built near the former courthouse which stood on the site of the Hotel des Postes and it was in 1783 that the foundation stone of the present City Hall was laid. It is built on the site of part of the castle, and  is in 1790 that the municipal administration settles in the building whose campanile is completed in 1797.


The City Hall is a classic-style, Louis XVI style freestone construction. The building curves gracefully into a circular arc and the facade, supported by pilasters, is imbued with great nobility. It is surmounted by a rectangular pediment and balustrades evoking the Petit Trianon. Inside, the staircase holds the eye and the City Hall, with its Directoire style chandelier, is remarkable. The woodwork of the salon  is of the late 18C. A semicircular window, filling the middle in the place of the clock, is framed by a horizontal band while the body itself of the pyramid is decorated with garlands. The latter has been replaced by a wooden entablature garnished with zinc. Above, the lantern is crowned with a small dome surmounted by an iron flag. All different was the octagonal campanile with its arched windows, cornice and roof, the ridges of which followed the curves of the pyramid. The summit was formed by the ducal crown; in the middle rose a strongly downward Corinthian column supporting an eagle. it should be known that at the beginning, the City Hall only included the central part. It was not until 1839 and 1854 that the north and south wings, which belonged to private individuals, were acquired by the town of Alençon. Restored from 1997, the City Hall was inaugurated in 1999.

City of Alençon on the City Hall

And there you go a review of government in the city of Alençon, dept 61 of the Orne in the region of Normandy. And who said, government buildings should be awful, these are nice me think. Enjoy the government buildings of Alençon!

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



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October 19, 2019

The Halles of Alençon!!!

Moving along in my belle France, and another of my road warrior hangouts with many times passing by especially on my way to Paris.  I like to take you to the quant city of Alençon in the Orne dept 61 of the region of Normandy.

I have several posts in my blog on Alençon but have not done justice to the two halls or markets or halles that are architecturally stunning and of local historical value. I will try to tell you a bit more on the Halle au Blé and the Halle Aux Toiles of Alençon.

The Halle au Blé or wheat hall is a building located at Place Halle-au-Blé in Alençon.


The first stone was laid in 1806 and opened in 1812. The building suffered a fire and was rebuilt in 1836. A metal dome was installed in 1865, imitating the one from the Halle au Blé in Paris.  In the 20C, it knows multiple assignments such as a hospital during WWI, it later becomes a place of many events like fairs, markets, exhibitions etc. The building hosts the fair-exhibition from 1923 to 1970.

It was in 1992 that a restoration operation began. The restoration of the canopy was completed in 1994; the internal plasterwork of the central courtyard was completed in January 1996 and the rehabilitation of the first floor in June 1998. Finally, the last phase of this rehabilitation is the restoration of the ground floor in September 2000. The exterior walls, including the original plaster was replaced in the middle of the 20C by a repointing gray cement, coated with a traditional coating identical to that which existed under the First Empire. As far as the interior is concerned, comfort and acoustics are improved and a multipurpose space for new information and communication technologies were developed.


The Halle au Blé is today a building dedicated to welcoming multimedia, notably the InterChange of Normandy, a center for monitoring new technologies. It also hosts the Cité des Métiers (city of crafts).

City of Alencon heritage info in French

The Halle aux Toiles with  its elegant facade with large windows dates from 1827 . By 1826 the city council decided the construction of the Halle aux toiles (canvas hall). The adjudication of the works is made the following year and it is in 1827 that Marie-Thérèse (Duchess of Angoulême)  of France, daughter of Louis XVI, lays the first stone


By the time the hall was finished, the trade in hemp cloth, for which it was destined, was falling sharply. In 1828, the plan of the hall is modified to provide a floor intended for justices of peace. Commissioned in 1832, its surroundings turn into a quagmire on rainy days. A retaining wall surrounding the quay is then built on which are fixed twenty-two stone posts topped with iron apples crossed bars also of iron. This entourage is still visible today except two terminals that have disappeared.


From 1850 the trade of the canvas declines and the hall is decommissioned in 1880. In 1899, the city council decided to built in the building a village hall. Restored in 1938, it serves a little to everything: balls, municipal canteen, cinema, concerts, conferences, exhibitions, theater, etc. Returning to its original name in 1991, it was restored in 1993-94 and equipped with audiovisual equipment for use as a convention hall.

City of Alencon culture and events page

There you go two alternating nice monuments to see in nice Alençon , do stop by the Halle au Blé and the Halle aux Toiles. The tourist office for a general reference as not much info here unless you go and get a brochure there

Tourist office of Alençon on things to see and do in French

Voilà the off the beaten path dept 61 of the Orne will surprise you after all you are still in Normandy! Hope you enjoy these nice architecture buildings.

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

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October 19, 2019

Le Mans, 24 hrs, and a museum!

So let me bring you to more familiar territory in terms of region and things to see.  I have written before on Le Mans a wonderful old town with many things to see and do and not far from Paris. However, today , I will concentrate on something I have followed since my University days, auto racing ,and Le Mans is one of the best in the world.

This old fortified city of Le Mans, in the Sarthe dept 72 in Pays de la Loire region has a lot more than just historical monuments. For all as well as the one presented here you can look up the tourist office of Le Mans here:

However, let me get into the meat of the matter of this post, long overdue by yours truly!

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a 24-hour car race, taking place in June (usually the twenty-fourth week of the year) on a road circuit, south of the city of Le Mans. This event takes place since 1923. The race has, over the years, inspired similar races all over the world and popularized the 24-hour format especially at Daytona Beach Fl USA (where I used to lived nearby and went several times). The American Le Mans Series and Le Mans Series championships have been spun off from the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

le Mans

The race came about when in 1920, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest or Western Automobile Club, worked on the realization of a competition whose character was to contribute to the evolution of the technical progress and to favor the development of the automobile.  In 1922, the club announced the creation of a new type of competition in the Sarthe, an endurance race, while the Bol d’Or Automobile was just created. During the race, crews of two drivers per car would take turns day and night.  The track, measuring almost 14 km takes part of the Bugatti circuit and includes a large part of the roads D323 and D338. The most famous passages are the bends of Tertre Rouge, Mulsanne, Arnage and the straight Hunaudières, almost 6 km long where the prototypes previously maintained a speed of nearly 400 km / h for one minute. This portion of the circuit was divided into three straight lines by the installation of two baffles in 1990. These baffles are intended to limit the search for the maximum speed by too great reductions in aerodynamic support and therefore to limit the differences speed between competitors.  The cars categories participating in this event are divided into several categories such as “LM” means Le Mans, “LM P” Le Mans Prototype, “GTE” Grand Touring Endurance, “Pro” Professional and ” Am ” Amateur.

Le Mans

The 24 heures du Mans race course official webpage in English is here :

There is a super museum which is a must to see while visiting Le Mans and especially a must for all cars/motos aficionados.  The Musée des 24 Heures du Mans is a bit outside the city center. It is located right next to the circuit of races for the famous car race the 24 hours of Le Mans. From the city center we went out into the D357 road and hook up with the D338 (Blvd Gen Patton) to rue de Laigné turn right  the panels leading you to the museum. Of course from Paris you will take direction Angers get on the D323 road and follow signs to museum.

le mans

The museum was initially name the  Sarthe Automobile Museum, renamed the 24 Hours Museum – Circuit de la Sarthe in 2009, then Museum of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2017, and is located near the main entrance of the Circuit des 24 Heures, Le Mans.

Built on 6,500 m2 (including 5,000 m2 of exhibition), the building includes a collection of vehicles including fifteen winners of the legendary race of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The specificity of the museum is to focus its collection on competition vehicles, with about forty racing cars, some of which sometimes come directly from the nearby track. Composed of six sections, the museum exhibits one hundred and twenty vehicles , and a few motorcycles. It presents, besides the history of the automobile in general, the circuit and the race, its heroes, its actors, its growths and its widening wings.

le mans

It is open to private collector cars as well. A collection of 4236 1/43 scale model cars representing all the cars that have participated in the race since 1923 and several historical dioramas are presented. In addition to racing cars, there are the original models of several Bollée cars and the 1885 De Dion Bouton Dog Cart, a unique steam model owned by a private museum. Some vehicles are loaned by their owners as well as by manufacturers. Cultural and educational activities complement, with guided tours, the boutique, and temporary exhibitions, are offers. The museum is set up along a path consisting of the heroes, great car racing folks, then the Legend on the history of the race, then the genius of the car developments, the side pit stops story, the history in technical terms and the actors or the cars themselves.

le mans

The museum was created in 1961 at the initiative of the Western Automobile Club and the General Council of Sarthe. Initially, it was located in the heart of the circuit in the village where are found, during races, the shops of manufacturers, suppliers and equipment manufacturers. The current buildings of the Museum were inaugurated in 1991. The main structure is inflected, spaced and tense. The aluminum wing-shaped cover is underpinned by twenty-eight tubular steel beams. In 2016, the ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest) buys the museum from the department to make it the starting point of a car park project after its redevelopment. In all , a wonderful place for the whole family.

le mans

le mans

Check for the times and dates as on holidays the museum is closed. The official museum webpage is here:

There you go something modern in a very old city of Le Mans for all tastes to enjoy the wonderful Sarthe dept 72 of the lovely region of Pays de la Loire ,and my belle France. Hope you enjoy the post.

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

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October 18, 2019

shopping: Paris!!!!

So I think this is a good moment to update my oldest shopping posts on Paris. The season to be merrier is coming upon us and with that a shopping spree of enormous proportions the world over. And of course, Paris is tops for it. Therefore, here is my update on shoppingn in Paris!

I will dare go into a very subjective territory but as many do come here for the shopping and gift given too, I will put my favorites over the years in some areas, and others not so favorite but of popular demand. This is not an exhaustive all- inclusive list, it is only my best shot of shopping places in Paris proper from a guy point of view ok. Hope you too can make it your own or bring on some more ideas in the comments area. Of course if need direction or help locating one of the list or other let me know.

There is many things to shop in Paris, from real luxury to common items, and all are magnificents. People sometimes think that items will be cheaper here, and asked me, but in reality most of the well known items are the same price when you compare shipping cost. Still, buying IN Paris is a heck of a lot better than elsewhere….

First a general overview will tell you the main shopping areas in Paris are in the 8éme arrondissement or district, they have the zip or postal code 75008. The haute couture or ready to wear goes from the city “golden triangle” from avenues Montaigne and George V to the rue Royale, rue du Faubourg St Honoré and rue St Honoré.  Luxury jewelers are in the 1eme or  2éme arrondissement or 75001 and 75002 zip codes all around the place Vendôme ,and rue de la Paix. You have in the Marais area around 4éme or 75004 many interesting boutiques. You have my favorite area the chic 16éme or 75016 with clothing, perfumers, and home decor stores lining up rue de Passy and avenue Victor Hugo. Plenty of ritzy stores in bd St Germain des Prés and surrounding streets. As well as the Department stores known to all.

Talking of deparment stores, even thus is very heavy towards tourists still is a nice place to go at least to browse.  Visitors  receive 10.8% of your purchases back as long as you depart from the EU within 21 days. If you decide to wait and have it refunded on your credit card you will receive 12% cash back. If you have permanent residence in a non-EU country, If you are older than 16, and If you spend more than 175.01 EUR . Rather than filled the page with webpages will only put up the least known brands /stores.

The well known dept stores are the Galeries LafayetteAu PrintempsBHV, and  Bon Marché.

Then you have some shopping centers or malls that are my favorite come and get all, stay warm or cool,and mingle with more local people, these are CC Bercy 2, by Porte de Bercy ; CC Italie 2 ,by Place d’Italie.  The center of the Forum Les Halles is great for shopping ,eating and entertainment as well.

The stores for high tech/ books/ music , I love of course  FNAC, love the Champs-Elysées, Forum, or passage du Havre by gare St Lazare.  For telephony/mobile ,the best is mine own provider  Orange , for visitor the one I found most friendly is at metro Madeleine out on your back , and the one on left hand side going up to the Arc de Triomphe. For more local books, cd, maps, dvd etc the Gibert Joseph stores are a must, see the one coming out of metro St Michel to your right,  webpage :

For men’s business and nice combinations, mines are  Boggi Milano ,at 8 rue Marbeuf  75008. closer is metro line 9 Havre Caumartin or RER A Auber. Webpage here:

Between the grand magasins and madeleine.  Daniel Hechter, 32 Avenue de l’Opéra webpage:

JMWeston for shoes at 1-3 Boulevard de la Madeleine, 75001 not far from the Madeleine Church. Webpage:  . The H&M stores but mostly the one at 88 Avenue des Champs-Elysées . The C&A stores but especially the one at Maine rue de l’Arrivée 3 near Montparnasse tower.

Beauty salons my dear late wife Martine like and went to  Jean-Louis David several in Paris, our favorite is at 5 Rue du Havre by the gare St Lazare.Webpage:

When I need to get me a book in English I go to WH Smith at 248 rue Rivoli, 75001, English bookstore,and the service is great they can hold the book for you after finding it, they just did it again for me ::) Metro Concorde!  English is well spoken !

I don’t have small children anymore but did a lot of loads here Bonpoint,  you can get at dept stores too but do go to the main store 6 rue de Tournon, 75006.Metro Mabillon. Webpage:

My oldest son is into restaurant and cuisine ,commerce, so he dwells into some good schooling here, if you are in Paris and need some cooking classes than head out to the Ecole de Cuisine Alain Ducasse, for the best . At 64 rue de Ranelagh 75016 metro Ranelagh line 9. very nice area too. Webpage:

Some discount shops, an outlet for haute couture and ready to wear for years is Anna Lowe, 104 rue du Faubourg Sainte Honoré,75008 metro Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau.  Webpage:

If want to get an international wine go to Lavinia, 3-5 bd de la Madeleine, metro Madeleine. Huge place with lots of choices, prices a bit high but hard to get foreign wines available as well as restaurant. Webpage :   If you want French wines then head for the Nicolas stores all over Paris; mine favorite is at 3 ave Mozart, 75016; neighborhood Muette, metro Muette line 9.Webpage:

For goodies there are several but my all time favorite is Hediard, probably because I have close to house and use it more;in Paris is at 21 place de la Madeleine, metro Madeleine 75008  for wonderful chocolates to many places, but again my favorite is the La Maison du Chocolat, 120 ave Victor Hugo, 75016: metro Victor Hugo. Webpage: . Another chocoholic place of great standing is the house of Debauve & Gallais, 30 Rue des St Péres, 75007: metro St Germain des Prés. Webpage:

My favorite store even today in my new neck of the woods is Armand Thiery , my shopping in Paris was at 15/17 Rue Auber, 75009. Nor far from gare St Lazare or the Opéra Garnier. Webpage:

Another all time favorite even from the USA now locally is L’Occitane, some of our Christmas gifts came from there this year, in Paris our fav store is at 53 rue de Passy,75016 at the galerie Passy Plaza. Metro Passy or la Muette line 9. Webpage:

Perfums at Fragonard at 196 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75007 webpage:

Great grocery shopping is Monoprix, my fav store is at 24 rue des Belles Feuilles,75016. various stores all over Paris, A more accessable and more food oriented store is Franprix, good store at 38 avenue Mozart,75016. again many stores throughtout Paris.  Webpage:

For home projects and the ever ending repairs around the house, etc, other than the basement of the grand magasin BHV, you can try Leroy Merlin at 52 rue Rambuteau,75004 Metro Chatelet. near centre Pompidou or Beaubourg . Its a national chain that I use near my home too. Webpage:  Another local store of good quality is Bricolex, 178 ave de Versailles ,75016. Other locations as well. Webpage:

Again on my roots I always need to look for Spanish and American products and over the years these have been the best price/quality and selection. Cap Hispania, a Spanish grocery store in Paris. This is clean cut and run by Spaniards as well. It is at 23 rue Jouffroy d’Abbans, 75017. Metro  Wagram .webpage at

American stores left, many many years here is The Real McCoy at 194 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 no webpage;nearest metro La Tour-Maubourg line 8

Then there are many market or marchés in Paris, over the years we have settle to go to the Bastille market by bd Richard Lenoir, not only goodies but also the best arts around on Saturdays. The site for the arts is here    then the local produce was known as the Saint Ambroise, today you get there on bd Richard Lenoir on metro Breguet-Sabin and Richard Lenoir. One of the largest in Paris every Thursdays from 7h to 14h30 and Sundays from 7h to 15h,best. Webpage city of Paris:

The other is a favorite of my wife , the marché des fleurs Cité at place Louis Lépine, near the Conciergerie. Open Mondays to Saturdays from 8h to 19h Metro Cité.

Now some directions, the famous Champs-Elysées has many shops, and one of the best shopping in town. Near metro George V is one of my favorites Massimo Dutti 24 Rue Royale. Webpage:

The tops streets here off ave Champs-Elysées are ave George V,  Rue François Ier, Rue Marbeuf,rue Pierre Charron,Ave Montagne, all in the stretch from the Arc de Triomphe to the ave FD Roosevelt.

Another area is the Pierre Cardin at 59 Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré. You have workshops here for outfitting by the old master. Webpage

Another and my sons favorite is Hugo Boss at 43 Avenue de l’Opéra. Webpage

The tops streets here are of course Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré,and Rue Saint Honoré, but ,also, Rue Royale,Rue Cambon,Rue Boissy d’Anglas,, rue des Pyramides,and Rue de Castiglione.

The Madeleine quartier is a favorite of mine and, also, my walking way to work for many years in Paris. Cafe Coton,32 Rue Tronchet, walking to the church of Madeleine. Webpage

All full of stores around Pl de la Madeleine,from blvd Haussmann up rue Tronchet ,and past the place to rue Royale,and blvd de la Madeleine.

You have nice stores in the blvd des Capucines, with Lacoste, another of my sons favorite at  37 blvd des Capucines, webpage :

Moving over to Pl Vendome to Opera along rue de la paix, lots of watch stores there but the Comptoir des Cottonniers ,at 17 rue de la Paix 75002  webpage :

Other areas dear to me, as to cover all of Paris lol!!! blvd Saint Germain,Rue Saint Sulpice,Rue du Four, Rue de Sévres, and rue de Grenelle.  Near  blvd Saint Germain  at 48 rue des écoles you have my outdoor favorite Au Vieux Campeur, bags winter and summer sports equipement camping etc, webpage

You have one of my favorites at 27 Rue Marbeuf  Façonnable, webpage

You  have Guess, at 32 Rue Etienne Marcel. Webpage , and many other stores.  Just as along rue des Saint Pérés, all a laberynth of shopping delights.

In closing, these are sites that provide excellent info on stores, they are helpful in finding top quality items with current information. There are in French but so its the country, you get the real thing.  Just click on th search symbol and put in the French word for what you are searching if doubt any translation service can help you such as bing or google etc or ask me. Webpage:

And of course, these are the stores that I have been in, there are others, plenty others all over Paris, because Paris is a shopper’s paradise of the best in Paradise!

There you go happy shopping in Paris. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


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October 18, 2019

100 years of the Metro of Madrid!

Something nice to talk about an achievement of tremendous proportions in a country battle by internal wars and the Metro of Madrid as one of its main places of attention. A metro started by a king and now running under a king! My Madrid, my beloved city of many nostalgic moments and happy encounters; the metro was all I had living just out from one of its entrances on Calle de Alcalà 331 metro line 5 Quintana.

There are of course better places to see the sights as walking but at the end we must travel faster and resting, a milestone in Madrid, 100 years of the metro , great history indeed. I would like to translate an article in the ABC newspaper of Madrid and hope you like it.

One hundred curiosities you should know in the centenary of the Madrid Metro. Ok not all but most, for the rest see the caption from the newspaper ABC at the end in Spanish; The source for this special post.

King Alfonso XIII inaugurated the Madrid Metro on October 17, 1919, the route of the current line 1 between Sol and Cuatro Caminos.

The Metro promoters set out to build it only with Spanish money.  King Alfonso XIII contributed a million pesetas from his personal account and, little by little, the ten million of the initial investment was gathered to create the «Alfonso XIII Metropolitan Company».

Before there were only 12 cities in the world ahead of Madrid: London (1863), New York (1868), Chicago (1892), Budapest (1896), Glasgow (1896), Boston (1897), Paris (1900 ), Berlin (1902), Athens (1904), Philadelphia (1907), Hamburg (1912) and Buenos Aires (1913).

The network currently has an extension of 294 km or about 182 miles. It is the seventh longest in the world in number of kilometers, behind Shanghai, Beijing, London, New York, Guangzhou, Seoul and Moscow.

In number of stations, with 301, Madrid is the fifth in the world, second only to New York (472), Shanghai (329), Seoul (308) and Paris (303). Metro de Madrid is the third network in Europe in number of kilometers, just behind London and Moscow.

The Madrid metro was born 100% electric, unlike those that existed then. The construction of the first metro line began on July 17, 1917. The opening to the public took place on October 31, 1919. The name of Metro is the abbreviation of the Metropolitan Railway of Madrid.

The people from Madrid, who until then went from Sol to Cuatro Caminos by tram, investing more than half an hour, checked how the same route was done in ten minutes.

The Alfonso XIII Metropolitan Company implemented the round trip ticket at the price of 20 cents of peseta, cheaper than the tram. The tram stopped circulating in Madrid in 1972 (while I was living in Madrid and took it to see my Aunt in Canillejas!).

The metro circulates on the left because in the year that the first Metro line was inaugurated, all vehicles circulated in that direction in Madrid. The current direction of movement was activated in 1924, when the Madrid metro was already built and it was an excessive expense to modify the progress of the trains. Light Rail lines do circulate on the right.

The Line 1 was originally called  Norte-Sur or North-South line. A few weeks after the start of the Spanish Civil War, on August 9, 1936, the first section of line 3 between Sol and  Embajadores was inaugurated.

During the Spanish Civil War the metro remained open and served regularly as a refuge during the bombings. Some stations were used by the Republican army as ammunition factories.  At the beginning of the war, the circulation of the north section of Isabel II (now Opera-Principe Pío line) was closed because the North Station area (now cercanias train station and shopping center Principe Pio) was practically occupied, so there were almost no passengers there. During the siege of General Franco’s troops, metro wagons transported both coffins and corpses to the cemeteries to the east.  The small Goya-Diego de León line was closed and used as an arsenal. In the tunnel between Lista and Diego de León, about 300 workers filled with shells. On January 10, 1938 one of the artifacts exploded and killed 18 men and 45 women.

Some stations changed their name under Franco’s regime. Thus, the current Principe de  Vergara was called General Mola ; and Gran Vía, was called José Antonio [Primo de Rivera]. They did not recover their name until 1983.

Given the increase in passengers in the early sixties, the length of the trains was increased, but at the Chamberí station it was impossible to expand its size due to its curved situation and its proximity to the Bilbao and Iglesia stops, so in 22 May 1966 the Metropolitan Company decided its closure. The ghost station of Chamberí can be visited.  You can also visit the Pacifico station motor ship, the most powerful in Spain in the 20s, but obsolete in the 50s and finally closed in the 70s. Between 1932 and 1958, line 2 branched from Goya to Diego de León. With the construction of line 4 the turn was closed, although the tunnel remains until today.

The single Metro ticket is unified, in 1956, at a single fare of 60 cents for any route. Multiple applied rates were eliminated depending on the destination station. The elevator of the José Antonio station, today Gran Vía, in 1959, had a fare of 10 cents. The subway ride cost 60 cents.

The first station with escalators was Portazgo, on line 1, in 1962. Today there are 1,700 throughout the network.

Before dogs could not access if they did not travel in a receptacle. Since 2016 they are authorized, although with limits. They can’t travel during peak hours, they must go in the last car, with muzzle and only one dog per traveler. The rest of the pets must travel in receptacles.

You can also carry the bicycle, but with limits. They can only go in the head or tail wagon, and cannot travel at peak times, except in 92 stations of peripheral sections, located mainly in the surroundings of the Casa de Campo and other parks.

On June 2, 1971, in the early afternoon, a heavy storm unloaded on some sectors of the capital. The force of water and hail acquired special virulence on the axis of the Paseo de la Castellana. In less than half an hour they dropped around eight liters per square meter, although the biggest problems came from hail. The exit of the Atocha Metro was covered by hail. I remember I was there and was awful to witness, my mother would not let me go out other than the our street Calle de Alcalà!

In 1970, Metro installed self-selling wallet machines. They gave no change.Right!  In 1974, with the commissioning of line 7, the implementation, first of all in this line, of the access turnstiles to the stations began. As of 1975 they are generalized in the rest of the network. In 2012 the magnetic ticket is replaced by contactless technology.

With the extension of line 6, the Cuatro Caminos station becomes the deepest, still until today, 45 meters from street level. In 1986, the City Council and the Community of Madrid assumed ownership of Metro. In 1987 the transport credit appears. A year later, the Young and Senior Citizens tickets appear .

From 1990, line 1 is prolonged and the circular of line 6 with the Laguna-Ciudad Universitaria section is closed.

In the Alto del Arenal station, on line 1, in Puente de Vallecas, is the central post, the neurological center of the Metro network.

Arroyo del Fresno, built in 1999 in the north of Line 7, between the Lacoma and Pitis stations, has never been opened due to lack of urban development at the time of its construction. With the neighborhood already consolidated, its inauguration is planned this spring 2020.

The highlight of the second expansion plan was the inauguration in 2003 of Metrosur, connecting Madrid with the cities of the south of the Community.

The old layout of the end of line 3, 550 meters, remains hidden behind a wall after the extension and reform of the line in 2007.  The last station to enter service has been Paco de Lucía, in the north of line 9, in 2015.

Travelers are entitled to a refund of the amount of the ticket when there is a suspension of the service, or when the train interval exceeds 15 minutes on journeys where the schedule provides for intervals of less than seven and a half minutes.

Travelers leaving trains have a preference for passing over those who wish to enter, according to Metro regulations. «Let out before entering».

The above again translated on some lines by yours truly from an article in the ABC Newspaper of Madrid; the full article in Spanish is here: ABC newspaper in Spanish on the curiosities of the 100 years of the Metro of Madrid

And there you go some info on the wonderful clean fast efficient Metro of Madrid; hope you enjoy the anecdotes of it above. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


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October 18, 2019

Church Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains at Metz!!!

And continue on my presentation of the city of Metz in the Moselle dept 57 of the new region of Grand Est of my belle France! This is an awesome building to visit, a must I say, not only for the architecture and history but the wonderful programming now done in it. Let me tell you a bit more on the Church of Saint Pierre aux Nonnains. I must say I will be brief as the history is long as old as it is !

The Church of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains dates from the end of the 4C located in the city center of Metz. It is one of the oldest churches in the world, and the oldest church in France. In Roman times, the building is used as a palestra and integrated into a thermal complex. In the 7C, it became the chapel of a Benedictine abbey. The Romanesque nave was built around the year 1000, which corresponds to the Ottonian period for the Holy Roman Empire of which Metz was then part.


The city of Metz is invaded and destroyed the first time in 253 by the Alamans (or Alemanni tribe from Germany later defeatd by Clovis in 496 founding old France). In this climate of less security, the city surrounds itself with a wall of 3.5 meters thick pierced with several doors where are reused architectural elements and steles of Roman monuments. From this troubled time, date the construction of the Basilica of St. Pierre aux Nonnains.

The building was built in the 4C by the Gallo-Romans. It was then presumably the palestra of a thermal ensemble. The Roman walls are recognizable by their brick links, separating rows of cut stones. In the 7C, the building was built for Christian worship, and receives a stone balustrade, or chancel, to separate the choir from the nave. This chancel is currently preserved in the museums of Metz.  In the 15-16C, Gothic arches were built over the nave and aisles. Unfortunately, during the siege of Metz by Charles V in 1552, François de Guise has erased forty religious buildings, including Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains.


In the 7C, the Roman building became the church of a women’s abbey. From 1556, at the time of the construction of the citadel by the French, Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains becomes a military warehouse and the remained until the 20C. In 1946, the city council approved the principle of transfer of various buildings by the army to the city of Metz. Today, Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains has become a venue for concerts and exhibitions.

And great historical exhibitions are held here now as well as concerts of the period and modern, a great cultural center in the city center of Metz. Some webpages to help you  plan your trip here and it is a must are

City of Metz on the Church in French

Tourist office of Metz on the Church in English

And a webpage for all your cultural needs in the city of Metz and especially the St Pierre aux Nonnains here: City of Metz cultural webpage cite musicale on the St Pierre aux Nonnains

And there you go a wonderful space to see and enjoy it with the whole family, hope you do have a chance to visited ,it is worth the detour at the Saint Pierre aux Nonnains!

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




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October 17, 2019

Some streets of Metz!!

And as you know by reading my blog I like to go the fast way into towns on the road warrior trail but once in them, we will walk the beat and its great in my belle France. As told in some towns before in my blog, the city of Metz is no different to this practice which is recommended to all. Walk it and enjoy it, some streets of Metz.

As you know Metz is in the dept 57 of the Moselle in the new region of Grand Est of my belle France. I like to tell you a bit about some streets of Metz that I like.

The Arsenal is a set of performance and exhibition halls, mainly devoted to classical music and contemporary dance, where numerous recitals and concerts are represented. See my previous post on St Pierre aux Nonnains.  Also, behind the hall Arsenal you see the Chapelle des Templiers a unique vestige of a templar commandery founded in the 12C, and today is also an exhibition hall.

The big parvis or Esplanade de l’Arsenal is located around the above building between boulevard Poincaré and Avenue Ney and below is my parking République! There is a nice statue of Marshal Ney and across is one of the spot of the Christmas market in Metz (we have been at this time and it’s superb). You have plenty of stores, bars, and restaurants around this lively area!


The Place de la République is the largest square in Metz city center. It was built in 1802, then called Place Royale, next to the old citadel and the limits of the city. During the annexation, the square was renamed Platz des Führers. The Universal Exhibition of 1861 was organized on this square and on the Esplanade which prolongs it. It is bounded by three urban facades, the Avenue Robert-Schuman where is the Bank of France, the rue du Maréchal-Lyautey  which borders the Ney barracks; on the side parallel with Rue Winston-Churchill, a shopping street that runs along the hypercenter and leads to the courthouse. Avenue Ney marks an open boundary on the jardins de l’Esplanade (gardens). From 1964, an above ground parking occupies the place de la République of which it takes the name.


The Station République, formely known as the Galerie République, is an underground shopping arcade with some twenty shops in the Place de la République. In 1987-1988, with the expansion of the car park, an extension of the gallery was dug under the Avenue Winston-Churchill  in order to develop its commercial space and link it to the Galeries Lafayette and FNAC stores. A new access is thus created at rue Winston-Churchill. A wonderful shopping experience!

The Place Saint-Jacques is our favorite square in the city center of Metz, as it is also ,opposite the shopping center , the Centre Saint-Jacques. It is located between the Rue Fabert and  Rue de Ladoucette, in the heart of the historic and pedestrian center of the city, not far from Saint-Etienne Cathedral. Place Saint-Jacques is located near the main crossroads of the old Roman city ( by rue Taison ,and rue En Fournirue) and corresponds roughly to the site of the ancient forum.  The current name of the square appears in the 12C and comes from the Church of Saint-Jacques which bordered it before being demolished in 1574. Today, the place St Jacques is known to the locals Messins for its many restaurants and cafes terraces during the beautiful season. It is, also one of the sites for the wonderful Marché de Nôel or Christmas market in the wonderful city. And we love it here!


A bit of history and or anecdote I like

During the break-up of German troops in 1918, Metz Catholics fear that they will transform the city into a new Verdun. They pray then to vow to raise a statue to the Blessed Virgin, if the city was spared by the fighting. It was done thanks to the efforts of Bishop Benzler of Metz from 1901 to 1919, however, he was expelled by the French authorities in July 1919 and died in Germany in 1921 .The statue was inaugurated on the feast of the Assumption 1924. The Place Saint-Jacques was chosen for its central location and its proximity to the cathedral.

Again on August 15, 1940, despite the prohibition of meeting people imposed by the Nazis who then occupy the city, and the presence of many armed soldiers, nothing can prevent the devotion of the local Messins for Notre-Dame of Metz, and of to show their patriotic attachment to France. The statue is surrounded by flowers in the colors of France and a huge cross of Lorraine, decorated with flowers tricolor, thistles and a yellow and red ribbon, colors of Lorraine, is attached to the column.  You can read the motto of Lorraine: “Who rubs there pricks.” A chorus suddenly rises from the crowd: “Queen of France – Pray for us – Our hope – Come and save us! . The tradition is honored every year on August 15, the day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The Pontifical Mass is first celebrated in the morning at the cathedral, and then vespers are sung, followed by a procession led by the bishop, which goes from the cathedral to the column.

There you go a wonderful set of streets to get lost in this wonderful city of Metz. You will love it here , very quant, traditional, and yes very French indeed. Some streets of Metz hopefully will get you acquainted with this beautiful city.

For guidance, do not forget to stop by the tourist office always the first stop before and during your visits. Tourist office of Metz in English

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



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