Archive for October 24th, 2019

October 24, 2019

Île de Ré and Sainte Marie de Ré!

And I take you back out to the coast of my belle France, this is heaven for me having grew up 6 kms from the ocean and later lived at 150 meters from it; now at 30 km from it. Water is important and I love everything to do with it even if cannot practice all like scuba now !

I have written on this island before but somehow did not do justice to this town but the other , see previous post of March 31 2019. So, therefore, here is my brief humble tribute to Sainte Marie de Ré in the island or Ïle de Ré!

The town of Sainte-Marie-de-Ré is located on the Ïle de Ré, in the department 17 of Charente-Maritime,region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. This small town has agglomerated the hamlet of Noue extending continuously along the south coast of the Ile de Ré, the Pointe de Chauveau to the plage de Grenettes beach, facing the Ïle d’Oléron. It has become the most populated town of Île de Ré. Its coast is lined with beaches and small cliffs, where the remains of numerous fish locks are discovered at low tide. The presence of numerous blockhouses of the Atlantic Wall on the coast reminds the dark hours that the town lived during WWII.

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During the French revolution, the town bore the name of L’Union. In 1888, Sainte-Marie took the name of Sainte-Marie-de-Ré. And by 1928 in association with the town of La Flotte, Sainte-Marie-de-Ré gives part of its territory to form the village of Rivedoux-Plage (beach).

The first mention of the parish of Sainte-Marie dates from 1178. The Abbey of Châteliers contributes to the settlement of the parish and the development of land, especially planted in vines.  For more than ten centuries, the village’s economy has been entirely focused on growing grapes. Some resources are also taken from the shore (fish, shells). This period has left a strong rural footprint typical still visible through the streets: facades of houses, farm buildings, walls enclosures, etc.  Most of the population is gathered in Sainte Marie de Ré and in the important village of La Noue.

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The Church Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption is a fortified parish church. The parish existed at the end of the12C. In 1467, the church was fortified and surrounded by a moat. Its bell tower, dating from the 15C, once painted black. The platform of this bell tower has a parapet on crows forming machicolation that were closed during restorations and even partly reconstruction in the 19C. In the Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption Church, ex-votos in the form of beautiful models of the Church ; it has a model of three-master square of war without veils. The flanks of the model are each pierced with 13 ports. The ex-voto, made on frames and dating from the mid-19C, was offered by the sailors of the “Petit Courrier de l’Ile d’Yeu” lost on the south coast of Sainte-Marie-de-Ré , facing the bell tower, in the night of December 28 to 29, 1961, in gratitude for the solidarity brought by the population. A commemorative plaque with the names of the rescued sailors is a reminder of this happy ending.

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The current Church Notre-Dame de l’Assomption at  36 Rue de l’Église was inaugurated in 1864. With its simply bleached interior walls and exposed timbers, it shows the sobriety of a barn; but, by its imposing proportions, its large nave with three vessels, the refined decoration of its choir and its beautiful luminosity, it is not less majestic. it has kept its bell tower whose Gothic spire dates from the 14C. Serving once bitter, the view of its bell tower is exceptional.The Church Notre Dame de l’Assomption belonged to an Augustinian priory that depended on Sablonceaux. This parish had a lot to suffer from the many conflicts that took place in the region, but it was fortified.

ile de re

ile de re

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The beaches of course are great here and very much in demand, you need to book way ahead here folks.  The plage de Montamer beach is monitored. Those of Salée and Basse Bénale, in the continuity of the long strip of sand, have their faithful followers. As for Port Notre-Dame, it is located opposite the Thalassotherapy Institute. At high tide, swimming is pleasant. At low tide, the coast becomes rocky with many fish locks (there are 8 on the town). Swimming is only possible at high tide. At low tide, you can practice fishing on foot or discover the peculiarities of this rocky, sandy and muddy foreshore. Stroll among the many birds that come to feast on the seaweed. North of the town and the village of La Noue, there is a surf spot known for its waves, the spot Grenettes.

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My favorite site plages tv on the beaches here: Plages tv on the beach of Sainte Marie de Ré in English

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Some other interesting things to do and see here are the Vauban fortifications and the blockhaus of WWII.

In the 18C, Vauban decides to protect the Ile de Ré from the incessant attacks of the English … The most beautiful attraction of these fortifications, fruit of the science of the military engineers, is the quality of a landscape out of the ordinary which lends itself wonderfully to discover and to stroll on them.

The  Plage De La Salée blockhouse and free parking with beach passable at high tide. The Karola site in Ars-en-Ré, Nazis troops first invest the old French coastal batteries built in the late 19C, established in La Couarde-sur-Mer, St. Marie de Ré, St. Martin de Ré and Rivedoux-Plage. These batteries are usually composed of a large caliber Marine cannon around which they build a bunker, they can pull out to sea, with a range of several kilometers. In addition to these coastal batteries, it is a multitude of defensive points that are built on the entire island, near the beaches, on the dunes or cliffs.   It was in 1940 that the Nazis with the organization Todt built more than 35 works to defend the base of La Rochelle which sheltered the submarines: U-Boot. At Bois Plage , was the captain responsible for all the artillery of the Ïle de Ré. On the dunes, you can still find nowadays the second most important artillery position, its half-buried command post and an outside observatory, these are the positions Fanny and Herta. They could accommodate a 150 mm gun, which was scrapped at the end of the war.

Tourist info here: Tourist office of the Ïle de Ré on Ste Marie de Ré in English

And there you go another gem by the sea in my belle France, if only summers will be longer lol! Hope you enjoy the brief description of Sainte Marie de Ré and do visit, its very quant nice!

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

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October 24, 2019

Some news from France, CCLXXXIX

Hi there well I am counting in Roman numerals this will be the 289 in Arabic numerals so thanks for the following. As always hope you enjoy the post on my Some news from France series. Today was rainy in my neck of the wood and calls for all day rain with temps now at 12C or about 53F while in our eternal Paris is cloudy at 61F.

Let’s get into the news and of course Halloween is coming around and we do have it too

Halloween à Paris :Bercy Village ,from 4 years old. Here, witches are more head-in-the-air than terrifying: they have lost their equipment to concoct magic potions. The children help them to find cauldron, utensils or pot of drool toad! Bercy Village 12éme. Oct. 30, 2019 from 14h to 17h Game booklet to pick up on the spot.

Parc zoologique de Paris , from age 5. Take a path full of pitfalls and attend the wizard meeting at the zoo. Visitors receive a 20% discount on the ticket if they are disguised. Zoological Park of Paris  12éme. October 31, 2019.

A curse Cruise from 6 years old.  This is the first escape game special Halloween on the Seine. 6 to 15 years old board a crazy boat besieged by witches and demonic creatures. Solve the riddles to free the ship from its terrible curse. Port of Bourdonnais ,7éme. From October 28 to November 2, 2019.

France Miniature from 6 years old.  Witches, gargoyles, giants, saber jugglers of the Fokus Company have invaded the monuments of the country. They delight the apprentice sorcerers with the mysteries of the buildings, not to mention the fire-eaters and the traditional distribution of candies. France Minitature. At Elancourt ,dept 78 Yvelines. October 21 to 23 and 27 to 31, 2019, from 13h30 to 17h30

Grévin comes to life!  from 10 years old.  Among the wax dolls of the museum sleep creatures of flesh came for Halloween. Shamans, witches, mummies, creatures … Grevin comes to life for a thrilling experience.  Musée Grévin 9éme. Until November 3, 2019.

A bit of a walking weekend in one close family surrounding, this is Lille, Nord dept 59 Hauts de France region.

Lille is the ideal destination to organize a weekend just an hour from Paris by TGV. To travel by metro (the second automatic in the world), tram and bus on the network Ilévia, opt for a pass 1 day (4.90 euros) or 2 days (8.80 euros). The self-service bike subscription (Vlille) costs 1.70 euro per 24 hours; the first 30 minutes are free, the next one to 1 euro. The city has two stations, 500 meters apart: Lille-Flandres and Lille-Europe, and a nice shopping center Eurolille there in Europe too. Beware, some Ouigo trainsn leave Tourcoing, thirty minutes by metro from Lille.

Until December 1st, 2019 the Eldorado festival will honor Mexico in the public space of the Lille-Flandres train station by  rue Faidherbe,  and through several exhibitions at locations such as Saint-Sauveur station, Palais des Beaux-Arts, etc.  This is the fifth thematic edition of Lille3000, a cultural event born in the wake of Lille 2004, European Capital of Culture. In 2020, Lille will be the first French city to receive the title of world capital of design, after Taipei and Mexico City. From December 6, 2019 to December 5, 2020, many exhibitions on design and its impact on our lifestyles are to be discovered in the main museums of the city. Picasso is in the spotlight at the Eugène Leroy Museum in Tourcoing until 13 January 2020 through the Picasso illustrator exhibition. At the Palais des Beaux-Arts, the exhibition The Dream of Being an Artist (until January 6, 2020), featuring works by Edouard Manet, Frida Kahlo and Jeff Koon, examines the birth of artist status.

You want to see and walk super, Lille is also for you. Here are some ideas. Lovers of vinyls and old and used books will be delighted to enter the Vieille Bourse or Old Stock Exchange, home of bookstores and record stores. After a tour of the Grand-Place, which gives a glimpse of the typical architecture of the Flemish renaissance, you take the rue de Bethune, the main shopping street of Lille. It leads to the Place de la République, surrounded on one side by the Préfecture du Nord and on the other by the Palais des Beaux-Arts. A visit to the basement of the museum will be made, where relief maps give a glimpse of several cities in the region centuries ago. Go out into  9 rue Princesse to find the birthplace of Charles de Gaulle where the future general was born on November 22, 1890.  And at the Hospice Comtesse museum. This old medieval hospital very well preserved illuminates the political, economic and social life of Lille through the ages since its founding in the 13C. Before returning to the Grand-Place, stop on the Parvis de la Treille where stands an unusual cathedral, the last of the second millennium in France. Begun in 1854, the construction of Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille was completed in 1999, hence the futuristic appearance of its marble facade. at 104 meters above sea level, at the top of the Beffroi or belfry. This building, built in 1932 at the same time as the new City/Town Hall, does not go unnoticed in the flat country horizon. In the distance, we can see the slums of the mining basin or the mountains of Flanders, including the highest of them, Mount Cassel at 176 meters. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, but even more so on Sunday mornings, Lille’s life revolves around the Wazemmes market, one of the largest in France. Take metro line 2 to Gare Jean-Lebas Roubaix station. From there, go down Avenue Jean-Lebas to La Piscine. These ancient art-deco baths are inseparable from Roubaix’s rich industrial past. The place opened in 1932 to ensure the hygiene of workers who did not have running water in the home. The centerpiece of the building is its Olympic pool, which reflects the stained glass windows that symbolize the rising sun and the setting sun. Not far from La Piscine, another architectural curiosity worth visiting: Villa Cavrois. From Eurotéléport, take the tram to the Villa Cavrois stop in Croix. This city was the privileged residence of industrialists of the North; it is still today one of the richest in France. After a five minute walk, we arrive at the work of Robert Mallet-Stevens, representative of modernist architecture. This contemporary yellow brick castle, built for the Cavrois family, After a good day of walking, nothing better than a gourmet break at the inevitable Pâtisserie Meert, located a few steps from the Grand-Place. On the spot or to take away, taste the vanilla waffles of Madagascar which make the reputation of this pastry, installed at 27 rue Esquermoise since 1761. A must while visiting Lille, we always do!

More info tourist office of Lille here :

Leonardo da Vinci , (Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci) a bastard legend. On the occasion of the exhibition dedicated to him in the Louvre from today Thursday for the 500 years of his death, portrait of the most famous artist in the world. The self-taught, who learned late Latin and poorly, between 12 years in the workshop of the great Florentine sculptor Andrea Del Verrochio. He has caught up well, artist, scientist, engineer, architect, courtier who organizes lavish parties in the Italian principalities -Florence, Milan, Venice, Rome- and ends his life at the court of François I in Amboise. More info here :

For its 30th anniversary, the Parc Astérix has set a new attendance record. Of course, it is our favorite park when small children. New things to see and do such as an exceptional opening during the Christmas holidays, a new hotel in 2020, a big eight in 2022. In rides like OzIris, Goudurix or Tonnerre de Zeus, that keeps the soul of children, or rather teenagers! A new hotel with 150 seats next year, Lutéce the old name of Paris, and the Seine will snake inside it  Proposing an opening for a “Noël Gaulois”, from December 21st to January 5th. Apart from the water rides, all the others, 38 attractions, will be open to the public. With a bonus, four new Christmas shows, a decoration entirely dedicated to the end of the year parties, a toboggan run, two ice rinks, one for the little ones and the other for the big ones, and even a small Christmas market . What to prepare for a new season, during which the leaders of the 2nd largest amusement park in France hope to beat a new record. More info here :

Do you like the Picasso of the blue period magnified at the end of last year at the Musée d’Orsay? You will love the retrospective in 70 paintings that the Grand Palais devotes to El Greco. The stormy skies of Christs in the Cross of Dhomínikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco) are the most beautiful ever painted. These gray blues meet those, azure, Saint Martin and the poor and those deep, dresses of his virgins  It would be necessary to evoke all the other colors, those golden yellow and canary of the Dream of Felipe II or the Sharing of the tunic, these green or dark greens, these red sometimes ruby sometimes orange … But this pallet defies the understanding. Its wealth seems inexhaustible, especially since with it the painter produces a thousand dissonances. It finally subjugates for what it seems so far ahead of his time.  More info here :

Until March 31, 2020, you will be able to enjoy a terrace, very warm under the bubble of the 1st floor (2fl US) of the Eiffel Tower. An ephemeral terrace, protected by a glass dome, You can already come here for a drink, or enjoy a bistronomic cuisine on boards concocted with products from the Guild of Artisans Tower, all without having your coat on the back. With a breathtaking view of Paris, come and have lunch or tea with pastries and  sweets of Thierry Marx in this dream location is also a good opportunity to take a look at the exhibition on the 130th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower !   More info here :

New team of chefs and pastry chefs, new sweet and savory range, opening of a Dalloyau Café in December rue Poncelet  17éme, a corner of 35m2 at Galeries Lafayette 8éme, a kiosk at the end of November in the middle of the Gare d’ Austerlitz  5éme train station, new packaging of shops, packaging and even flagship cakes … 300 years of history will not crumble like that, on the memory of the closures of shops and a competition too harsh to face it. The Dalloyau house, a living heritage company and member of the Colbert Committee for the Promotion of French Luxury, is taking part in the reconquest of Parisians and visitors alike. Their shops in Bastille 11éme, rue de la Convention  15éme  and Edmond-Rostand  6éme, near the Luxembourg Gardens, will never reopen. Today 100% owned by an investment fund already customized  the emblematic dessert Opera, created almost 65 years ago . More info here :

The largest drugstore in France settles in at One Nation mall. With 2,100 m2 of surface and 41,000 discount references, it already attracts many customers, playing the role of locomotive expected by the shopping center at  Clayes-sous-Bois (Yvelines 78) . 30 to 40% less expensive on its site of Clayes-sous-Bois compared to those available on the shelves of a pharmacy of less importance.  The Groupe Lafayette Conseil a group that already has 200 pharmacies throughout France, including a dozen in Paris and plans to open about fifty a year. It started on Rue Lafayette in Toulouse, where was opened the first pharmacy of what would become a real franchise in 1995 . More info in French here :

It is in Bobigny, in the department  93 of Seine-Saint-Denis, that the first solar cycle track of Ile-de-France region  was born! Under the SNCF TGV East and RER E lines, along the Canal de l’Ourcq . It aims to light up, day and night, a previously very dark stretch. About ten meters and a surface of 54m2, there are conventional photovoltaic slabs and electricity can illuminate part of the track. The electricity produced is used to power spots placed under a nearby bridge. Night rider to the charge!

Andn last but not least something I had known but fake news is a fashionable thing nowdays unfortunately, very popular cries of nothing on the foundations. There is lead in Paris, be aware, and is not Notre Dame Cathedral. So says this report from a reputable association Robin of the woods, a strong defender of the environment since 1985.  The Robin des Bois Association has just unveiled a document from the Ministry of Culture dated 2017. The streets of Paris were already polluted with lead well before the fire of the Notre Dame Cathedral! Yes!  .More info in French here :

And there you go folks we have a bit of everything, always in the news and lots of things to see and do and argue about lol! Live it in my belle France. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

October 24, 2019

Canal du Midi at Toulouse!!!

I will take you south deep cathar country and home of family on wifes side. We have been here many many times and have posts on several locations ,however, most have been brief comments of the sights to see. I think they deserve more so will do several posts on the things to see and we like in the pink city of Toulouse! The city is in the Haute Garonne department 31 of the region of Occitanie. Hope you enjoy the series.

The Canal du Midi is a dandy a must to visit anywhere along its course. I have followed it by car, and stops in some towns but the most for us is of course Toulouse! Enjoy it

You go along the Garonne river to the quays and wharfs renovated in the 18C such as quai Henri-Martin and quai de Tounis built in brick to hold on the flooding and allowing to walk the banks of the river to discovered the old bridges such as the Pont Neuf, the oldest in Toulouse with 220 meters long and the Pont Saint Pierre a metallic bridge done in 1987. It connects the place Saint-Pierre with the hospice of the Grave. It is a bridge with a steel deck, completely rebuilt in 1987. The first Pont Saint-Pierre was built between 1849 and 1852. It was a wooden bridge, toll, where pedestrians and carriages passed. It rested on two stacks of stone and brick, and was reinforced by wire ropes.


A bit down the Garonne river you will see the Bazacle, where the first inhabitants of Toulouse were installed and today it is a dam to keep the water level of the Garonne in balance during the Summers

It is at the level of the current port de l’Embouchure that the first stone of the lock of Garonne (disappeared) is posed in 1667. It marks the beginning of the construction of the Canal du Midi and the realization of the first section between Toulouse and Castelnaudary. The Canal then extends to Sète and the pond of Thau. It is finished and “put in water” in 1681.


In the 18C, to avoid boats the dangerous passage of the pavement of the Bazacle mill, the Brienne canal is dug and joins the Canal du Midi at its mouth. Two twin bridges mark access to the waterways. This important linear element includes patrimonial elements, often unknown, distributed along the water. They illustrate many aspects of the Canal’s history: locks and lock houses, bridges and footbridges, historic ports and old buildings linked to Canal operations. To this set are added exceptional places to discover like the Ponts-Jumeaux bas-relief, the Saint-Pierre lock, the Canal Archives or the dry dock.


The Canal du Midi is a navigation channel with a dividing line that connects Toulouse to the Mediterranean Sea since the 17C. First called “Royal Canal of Languedoc”, the French revolutionaries renamed it in 1789 “Canal du Midi”. From the 19C, the side channel to the Garonne, which doubles the Garonne of Bordeaux in Toulouse, extends the Canal du Midi to provide a waterway from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea: the two channels are called  Canal des Deux-Mers or canal of the two seas.

What is good in this area,by the banks of the canal, is that you can bicycle in the shade of plane trees. A real luxury!  One can also dream of a longer, more distant and slower ride along the many barges moored there, whether they are home to commercial activities or that families have made their home there. You can of course leave Toulouse, the channel passes over the locks; but where stop? In Ramonville, for a break at the Bikini, Castelnaudary to see if the cassoulet is really different?  in Carcassonne? or Sète on the Mediterranean, 241 km from Toulouse.


In all a wonderful experience with nature and history as well as some engineering feats one of the best of mankind. Enjoy the Canal du Midi!!

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here which is a must are

Canal du Midi on the ports and history

Canal du Midi on channels and gardens in Toulouse

There you go another dandy in my belle France, and lovely territory of many memories from and with the family over the years. Again, very nice area ,hope you enjoy the series posts to come on Toulouse, the pink city!

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

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