Archive for December, 2019

December 31, 2019

Retirement time in France! opinions!!!

And the beat goes on in my belle France into 2020. Expect strikes to continue especially on the retirement issue. I had written before on it so I am just tagging update information here. Hope it helps you understand us ::)
France is still the champion of early retirement with an average posted at 60.8 years, according to the overview of pensions from the OECD,(Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) published Wednesday, November 27, 2019. Today, the age required to obtain a full retirement rate is 64 years on average in OECD countries for those who retired in 2018. It is 63 years in France due to the penalty imposed by Agirc-Arrco, (Agirc= L’Agirc est l’Association générale des institutions de retraite des cadres) (Arrco= l’Association pour le régime de retraite complémentaire des salaries) complementary scheme for private sector employees, since 2019. Info in French here : https://www.agirc-arrco.fr/particuliers/

Thus, in the OECD, the retirement age at full rate will be 66 years, as in France due to the lengthening of the contribution period provided for by the Touraine reform, combined with the application of the penalty of the AGIRC ARRCO. So much for the theory, but in practice, that is to say if we look at the real age at which active people retire, the picture is different. According to the OECD, the average age for leaving the labor market in France is 60.8 years, the lowest, and 4 years lower than the OECD average. The replacement rate, the difference between the last salary and the pension level after a full career with an average salary in the private sector, it stands at 74%, a figure well above the OECD average of 58%.

The international organization concludes that France offers very good social protection for retirees with one of the lowest poverty rates. But the problem is the complexity of the system. It is for this reason that the OECD gives a favorable opinion on the establishment of a universal system. And the reason the French government is trying and the unions are opposed as seen by the so far 26 days of strikes in France!

This analysis refers to a flow equilibrium but do not forget all the accumulated deficits which represent debt for future generations. The pension system needs to be balanced on average over the long term. An observation that could attract the ear of the government at a time when the question is what measures the executive could take to restore balance to the pension system by 2025. The OECD also criticizes the structure complex of the system with the concomitance of 42 different pension schemes, which would in particular have the effect of preventing workers from anticipating their future rights (indeed confusing). A remark which, contrary to the postponement of the retirement age, goes in the direction of the future pension reform carried by current administration in France, aiming to unify all these plans. The union response is the system is not broke and this idea will bring more people into the poverty level and making them work longer which they already got this benefit to work less than in the rest of the developed countries such as in the OECD.

The 2020 pension reform does not plan to raise the minimum retirement age, which will therefore remain fixed at 62 years. However, the reform introduce an equilibrium age in order to encourage active workers to leave later, via a system of discounts and premiums on pension amounts. This age was intended to be 64. This is a key point in the strikes as the unions are totally against this pivot age. They like to have the choice to retire at 62 period.

Some of the strikes going on or announce in the near future are
Strike of CTS buses and trams in Strasbourg from 24 December 2019 to 5 January 2020. Unlimited national strike at SNCF from December 5, 2019. Unlimited strike at RATP from December 5, 2019. National strike by lawyers from 6 to 12 January 2020
National strike in the refineries from 7 to 10 January 2020. General and national strike on January 9, 2020. National strike of doctors, lawyers and pilots on February 3, 2020. National strike in air transport from December 5, 2019.
Plan ahead if coming over and enjoy the trip. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

Paris1972-Versailles2003

Ok so today I come to you on a non travel related subject ,really; it could be too lol! Well , my dear readers and travel buddies, I am getting to that age, yes the golden egg or whatever, and its time to think about retirement!!

I am in in what could could be my last full year of my working life per se. Not that I would not continue to dabble in consulting work later on, but to finally get my retirement benefits and start enjoing time and travel even better or at least I hope.

So let me give some light into the subject in my belle France. As the minimum retirement age is 62 years, it is important to anticipate and wonder which French cities are the most accessible or offer the most enjoyable living environment. The cities of the west of France and especially of the…

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December 31, 2019

My year 2019!!! thank you all!!!!!!

So here we are , another year went by today is December 31 2019 in most parts of the world. I like to first tell you thank you for all your likes and comments during this year, it is appreciated. I write about my travels, likes and fun things to keep a history of my life for my future generations and hopefully encourage others to do the same and do travel.

Let me say a few words on the New Year’s Eve and New Year Day.

In the Gregorian calendar , New Year’s Eve (also known as Old Year’s Day or Saint Sylvester’s Day in many countries), the last day of the year, is on 31 December. In many countries, New Year’s Eve is celebrated at evening social gatherings, where many people dance, eat, drink, and watch or light fireworks. Some Christians attend a watchnight service. The celebrations generally go on past midnight into New Year’s Day  January 1.

We do have a late night meal with friends after drinking all day (we just began with Porto red lol!) and do see out the fireworks to await the New Year in my current country of France.

New Year is the time or day at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar’s year count increments by one. Many cultures celebrate the event in some manner and the 1st day of January is often marked as a National Holiday. In the Gregorian calendar,  the most widely used calendar system today, New Year occurs on January 1 as New Year’s Day. This was also the first day of the year in the original Julian calendar and of the Roman calendar after 153 BC.

During the Middle Ages in western Europe, while the Julian calendar was still in use, authorities moved New Year’s Day, depending upon locale, to one of several other days, including March 1, March 25, Easter, September 1, and December 25. Beginning in 1582, the adoption of the Gregorian calendar has meant that many national or local dates in the Western World and beyond have changed to using one fixed date for New Year’s Day, January 1. During the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire years beginning on the date on which each consul first entered the office. This was probably May 1 before 222 BC, March 15 from 222 BC to 154 BC, and January 1 from 153 BC.

Other cultures observe their traditional or religious New Year’s Day according to their own customs, sometimes in addition to a (Gregorian) civil calendar. Chinese New Year, Islamic New Year, traditional Japanese New Year, and the Jewish New Year are the more well-known examples. India and other countries continue to celebrate New Year on different dates. The official dates in some countries were Holy Roman Empire (Germany) 1544 .Spain, Portugal,   Poland 1556. France (edit of Roussillon) 1564. Great Britain (Ireland, British empire) 1752, Scotland 1600.

In my current adopted country of France, New Year’s Eve (la Saint-Sylvestre) is usually celebrated with a feast, le Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre. This feast customarily includes special dishes including foie gras, seafood such as oysters, and Champagne (plenty of it!). The celebration can be a simple, intimate dinner with friends and family or, une soirée dansante, (dancing night away)  a much fancier ball. On New Year’s Day friends and family exchange  New Year’s resolutions, kisses, and wishes.  We are all alone out west so will have my Dad and 3 sons and our dog borador Rex. Some people eat ice cream, actually we do eat logs or Bûches of different flavors. The holiday period ends on 6 January with the celebration of Epiphany (the 3 wise kings brings gift to the child Jesus and we get our gifts on this day).  A traditional type of flat pastry cake, la galette des rois, made of two sheets of puff pastry, filled with frangipane (almond paste) is eaten; nowdays we have in chocolate, raspberries flavors too . The cake contains a fève, a small china doll (can be of different characters) ; whomever finds it becomes king or queen and gets to wear a gold paper crown and choose his or her partner. This tradition starts nowdays practically right after Christmas on December 25 and go on to January 6.

More info on it here by Local news journal in English: The Local news journal on New Year’s Day to do things

In my other dear country of mine in Europe, also citizen as Spain. New Year’s Eve (Nochevieja  or old night) celebrations usually begin with a family dinner, traditionally including shrimp or prawns, and lamb or capon. The actual countdown is primarily followed from the clock on top of the Royal House of the Post Office in Puerta del Sol square in Madrid (many years waiting for it here!) . It is traditional to eat  twelve grapes, one on each chime of the clock (and we in my family had a 13 the last one we threw away making a wish for the new year) . Nowadays, the tradition is followed by almost every Spaniard, and the twelve grapes have become synonymous with the New Year. After the clock has finished striking twelve, people greet each other and toast with sparkling wine such as cava,Champagne or cider. Earlier in the evening at around 20h, there is a 10k run called the San Silvestre Vallecana, which starts on Paseo de la Castellana next to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium (Real Madrid!), and ends at the Vallecas stadius (Rayo Vallecano). Professional runners come to Madrid for this 10k. After the family dinner and the grapes, many young people attend cotillones de nochevieja parties (named for the Spanish word cotillón, which refers to party supplies like confetti, party blowers, and party hats) at pubs, clubs, and similar places. Parties usually last until the next morning and range from small, personal celebrations at local bars to huge parties with guests numbering the thousands at hotel convention rooms. Early the next morning, party attendees usually gather to have the traditional winter breakfast of hot chocolate and fried pastry (chocolate con churros). Yes indeed i have to say a more vibrant celebration than in France.

More info from the Local news journal in English: The Local news journal on New Year’s things to do

Now to follow the groupies, some of the towns I have been in 2019 (and can remember lol!!) have been in no chronological order

Pays de la Loire: Nantes, Clisson, Le Mans, Angers, Guérande, Piriac sur Mer, Brissac-Quincé, Montreuil-Bellay,

Bretagne: Josselin, Guidel, Larmor-Plage, Baden, Gourin, Vannes, Auray, Concarneau, Quimper, Saint Armel, Guidel plage, Quiberon, Carnac, Sainte Anne d’Auray, Saint Nolff, Questembert, Rochefort en Terre, Locronan, Châteauneuf-du-Faou, Sarzeau,

ïle de France: Paris, Versailles, Saint Denis

Hauts de France: Chantilly

Normandie: Alençon

Spain: Madrid

Just doing this count realise, not much foreign visits in 2019 due to a reduce family and lack of envy, will see if 2020 can improve on it. Again thanks for following me in my travels, and always hoping you enjoy it as much as I

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!! As well as Happy New Year 2020, Bonne Année, Feliz Año Nuevo and Feliz Ano Novo!!!

 

 

 

December 31, 2019

Tower Bridge of London!

On our trips in Europe lucky we have been able to visit several countries and of course England would have been on the list and it was. I have visited many times on business trips but had one visit with the family.

One of the nice things to see there is the Tower Bridge, and like to give you a glimpse.

The Tower Bridge is a bascule bridge, located in London and in particular allowing the passage of the Thames river to motorized vehicles. It belongs to the class of suspension bridges and is composed of granite for its facade, steel for its structure and concrete for its foundations. It is located between the boroughs of Southwark and Tower Hamlets, near the Tower of London from which it takes its name. At the time of its construction, the Tower Bridge is the largest with 246 meters in length and 65 meters in height ; and the most sophisticated of the bascule bridges ever built.

London

The bridge was officially opened on June 30, 1894 by the Prince of Wales, future King Edward VII and his wife, the Princess of Wales, Alexandra of Denmark.

The Tower Bridge is nearly entirely decoration! Bright blues and gray colors the Bridge is topped with two neo-gothic towers with a covered walkway suspended between the two. This bridge is actually built to look even older than it is – the huge gray stones were selected to give the bridge a medieval feeling – which partially contributes to the fact that most people believe this is the centuries-old London Bridge.

London

The Tower Hill Station is the closest tube/metro /subway station to the Tower Bridge.

Official Tower Bridge of London

Tourist office of London on the Tower Bridge

Enjoy it while you can , the Tower Bridge. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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December 31, 2019

St Paul’s Cathedral, London!!

On our trips in Europe lucky we have been able to visit several countries and of course England would have been on the list and it was. I have visited many times on business trips but had one visit with the family.

One of the nice things to see there is the St Paul’s Cathedral, and like to give you a glimpse. Also, one of my favorite areas of London to hang out business or pleasure.

St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is the cathedral of the Diocese of London of the Church of England. It was built after the destruction of the old church during the Great Fire of London in 1666. It crowns Ludgate Hill, a site which housed four shrines before the current cathedral and is located in the City of London, the historic heart of the city that has become today the main business district in London. It is considered to be the masterpiece of the famous English architect, Sir Christopher Wren. The Dean of Saint Paul is the head of the chapter of Saint Paul Cathedral. He is an important dignitary of the Anglican Church.

London

The first known,church incorporated in the Roman enclosure, was built out of wood, under the reign of Æthelbert, king of Kent. It is this first church which will know in the year 604 the consecration of Mellitus, first bishop of London, by Augustin of Canterbury. It was destroyed by the Vikings in the 9C and rebuilt in 962. The Saxon church was destroyed by fire a second time in 1087 and the construction of a fourth cathedral began almost immediately under the aegis of William the Red (or le Roux French name), son of William the Conqueror (king of England and Duke of Normandy France)  to whom he had just succeeded. The “old Saint Paul” as it was called this 4th church was, with its 586 feet (179 m), the third longest cathedral in Europe and its spire reached 164 meters!. It stood on a large area surrounded by walls that followed Creed Lane and Ave Maria Lane to the west, Paternoster Row to the north, Old Change to the east and Carter Lane to the south. This enclosure was then pierced with six gates.

The fifth cathedral was done following the fire of 1666, the reconstruction of an equally impressive cathedral was therefore essential. This task was entrusted to Sir Christopher Wren on July 30, 1669. The first stone was laid on June 21, 1675, the choir opened to the public on December 2, 1697, the last stone crowned the building in 1710. The cathedral of Wren is a mixture of Classical and Baroque architecture

The study of the dome began in 1685. Wren was inspired by the dome of Michelangelo, designed for the Saint Peter’s basilica in Rome, and also that of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, designed for the Hôtel des Invalides in Paris.

On the west side of the St Paul’s Cathedral are the two clock towers. The northwest tower has space for a clock, which has remained empty. The southwest tower contains four bells. The largest is called “Great Paul”, manufactured in 1881, and was until 2012 the largest bell in Great Britain (16.5 tons). Another bell, called “Great Tom”, rings on time, and also on the announcement of the death of a member of the British royal family, a bishop of London, or a lord mayor of London during his tenure. The last occasion when this bell rang to announce a death was in 2002, for the Queen Mother. The northwest tower contains twelve bells, one of which, called “The Banger”, rings for services at 8h

An anecdote I like: During the bombing of London in 1940 by the Luftwaffe, Saint Paul’s Cathedral was for Nazis aviation one of the hotspots of the English capital and, therefore, a privileged target for the latter. But on the night of the bombing, while most of the city’s buildings were in flames, the cathedral received only one projectile; the latter only damaged the roof only superficially thanks to the mobilization of civilians who were responsible for putting out the fire caused by the bomb. The next morning, while the city was suffocating because of the event of the previous day, Saint-Paul Cathedral rose, with its immaculate whiteness, above the blackish smokes which rose to the sky. It is partly because of this event that the cathedral has become a strong symbol for Londoners. Nice!

Official St Paul’s Cathedral

Tourist office of London on St Paul’s Cathedral

And there you go can’t missed while visiting London and now is the time to see it from Europe. Hope you enjoy it as we did

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

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December 31, 2019

Westminster Abbey, London!!

On our trips in Europe lucky we have been able to visit several countries and of course England would have been on the list and it was. I have visited many times on business trips but had one visit with the family.

One of the nice things to see there is the Westminster Abbey, and like to give you a glimpse.

London

Westminster Abbey is one of the most famous religious buildings in London or the UK for that matter. Its construction dates mainly from the 13C, under king Henry III. It is the burial place of most of the kings and queens of England and also of famous men and women. The Poets’ Corner honors the writers of the kingdom. Almost all of the coronations of English monarchs took place in this abbey.

The abbey’s real name is St Peter’s Collegiate Church. Westminster means West Abbey because it was located west of the City as opposed to Eastminster, a Cistercian monastery which was to the east, beyond the Tower of London, on the site of the current Royal Mint. In ancient French, Westminster Abbey was called Ouestmoustier or Latin, monasterium.(Monastery).

According to legend, the Abbey was founded in 616, on the site of an old islet of the Thames called Thorn Ey   or Thorn Island. A fisherman named Aldrich is said to have witnessed visions of the Apostle Peter there. Then, in the middle of the 11C, the Anglo-Saxon king Edward the Confessor had his palace built on the banks of the Thames near the monastery which he then decided to build with larger dimensions and which he dedicated to Saint Peter.   The abbey was consecrated on December 28, 1065.

In the 13C king Henry III decided to rebuild the church in the Gothic style. Between 1503 and 1519, under the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII, the Lady Chapel was built, today called the Henry-VII Chapel. In 1540, the Benedictine monks had to leave the monastery during the Anglican reform. Twenty years later, Queen Elisabeth I re-founded the monastery by giving it a different status. There is no longer an abbot, the chapter is chaired by the dean of Westminster.

Since William the Conqueror, all the kings of England, then of the United Kingdom are crowned in Westminster Abbey, with the exception of Edward V and Edward VIII. The King Edward’s Chair, also known as the Coronation Chair , which has been used for the enthronement of British sovereigns since Edward I, is today stored in the Edward the Confessor Chapel.

More than 3,000 people are also buried in the church, including 16 British monarchs, some of them accompanied by their spouses, and many other notable personalities, including six British Prime Ministers, writers, poets. , scientists, actors or explorers.

The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located near the western gate, buried among kings because he had acted for good, for the cause of God and his home. There are also two French people there: Benjamin de Rohan, Duke of Frontenay and Baron de Soubise , brother of the Duke of Rohan,(Bretagne) he is the last military leader of the Calvinist resistance in France. And François de La Rochefoucauld, Marquis of Montendre (La Rochefoucauld-Doudeauville branch). Huguenot, he had to flee to England where he enlisted in the army and finished Field Marshal of Great Britain and chief of staff of the English armies.

Official Westminster Abbey on visits

Tourist office of London on Westminster Abbey

And there you go can’t missed while visiting London and now is the time to see it from Europe. Hope you enjoy it as we did even if no time to go inside.

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

 

 

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December 30, 2019

Parliament of the UK! Westminster!!

On our trips in Europe lucky we have been able to visit several countries and of course England would have been on the list and it was. I have visited many times on business trips but had one visit with the family.

One of the nice things to see there is the Palace of Westminster or British Parliament, and like to give you a glimpse.

The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament, is the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom: the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The palace borders the north bank of the Thames river and lies to the west of the city, in the London Borough of the City of Westminster.

London

The oldest section of the palace, Westminster Hall, dates back to 1097. The Palace of Westminster was originally used as a royal residence, but no English or British monarch has lived there since the 16C, following a major fire in 1512. However, most of the building dates from the 19C, as the palace was almost completely destroyed by a new, even more devastating fire, which occurred in 1834.

One of the most famous attractions of the Palace of Westminster is its Clock Tower, officially named “Elizabeth Tower” on the occasion of Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee in 2012, which is home to Big Ben.

London

The palace of Westminster is a huge complex of more than a thousand rooms, contains in addition to the rooms of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, the offices of parliamentary committees, libraries, halls, dining rooms, bars or even gyms. It is the site of important official ceremonies, and especially that each year of the opening of the parliamentary session (the State Opening of Parliament). The Palace of Westminster is closely associated in spirit with the two Houses of Parliament, as is sometimes evidenced by the use of the term Westminster to refer to Parliament.

The current Palace of Westminster has several towers. The tallest and most square, the Victoria Tower, is located at the southwest corner of the building and stands 98.5 meters. It was named after the reigning monarch of the time, Queen Victoria. The tower houses the Registry of the House of Lords’ Record Office, which despite its name is used by the two parliamentary chambers. Its top bears a flag, whether it is the Royal Standard when the sovereign is present or more generally the Union Jack. It is indeed at the foot of the Victoria Tower that the Sovereign’s Entrance to the Palace is located, used notably during the opening ceremonies of Parliament or any other event. involving the arrival of the Head of State.

The Central Tower dominates the middle of the palace. Its height of 91.4 meters makes it the smallest of the three main towers of the monument. Unlike its neighbors, the Central Tower is surmounted by an arrow located immediately above the central vestibule, in an octagonal shape.

The northwest corner supports the most famous tower of the Palace of Westminster, the Clock Tower (Elisabeth Tower), 96.3 meters high. The tower houses the Great Clock of Westminster, which has a dial on each of the four sides. The Clock Tower also contains the five bells of the palace, which ring quarter-hourly. The largest and most famous of these bells, officially called the great bell of Westminster, is much better known by its nickname of Big Ben. It is the third heaviest bell in the whole of the United Kingdom, weighing around 13.8 tons.

Official Parliament on the heritage

Official Parliament on visiting info

And there you go can’t missed while visiting London and now is the time to see it from Europe. Hope you enjoy it as we did

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

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December 30, 2019

Paris 16 arrondissement and La Gare…friends.

As there is talk of a meeting in Chicago in September 2020 I thought to bring back this post of the visit of the folks who share a moment with me and now will be hosting the meeting in their city Chicago. These are the old folks from the Virtual Tourist travel forum now defunct but many memories and friendship of several travelers over the years.
I am still open minded on going to Chicago in Sept’20 will see down the road in 2020 how it goes with my job duties and vacation.
For now enjoy this visit and why not do something like this from folks here reading my blog passing by France. Cheers and best wishes for 2020 for all

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December 30, 2019

The Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saarburg of Germany!

And continuing my memory lane tour of neighboring Germany we stop with the family in Saarburg. I have come to Germany several times, less with the family but this one was a huge summer vacation we rented a house and use it as a base to see most of western part of Germany. The Rhineland-Palatinate, is very nice indeed and Saarburg is one of the gems.

Again on my wandering routes in Germany , this time we visited the town of Saarburg on the south on the crossroads to Luxembourg on the N2 and then in Germany you take the 407 or B51 all great routes. Saarburg is best known for its cascades of the river in city center or downtown.  We got up early and went for it even continuing down the road 10 in Luxembourg; but this is Saarburg Germany.

The moment you enter the town you notice its quant pretty architecture and lively city center, it was a nice welcome to a new town in our world map, Saarburg.

As said, it has a very lively city center or Am Markt area, a nice municipal museum or AMuseum , the cable car or Sesselift , the Church of Saint Laurentius (see other post), the Protestant church of great controversy for its ties to the old Nazy regime, and the best is the Cascade. There is,also, a nice river terminus for river boat rides.

The Am Markt is a lively area full of restos and shop circumvolving around the river Leuk that passes thru the center of the city ,very quaint, romantic and nice for an evening walk or day. The municipal museum of Amuseum sits in an old windmill from the 1300’s with a special unique running canal next to the houses and above the river to slow down the water pressure. It shows the history of the city and temporary painting exhibits. More info here in German: Official AMuseum of Saarburg

Saarburg

saarburg

saarburg

The Cable car or Sesselift is a nice thing to do as you go up to the hills overlooking the city and the vineyards. It cost 3,80 euros per person. Right next to the church of same name you see the Laurentius Gate that was the entrance in the middle ages from lower to higher town.

saarburg

saarburg

Last is the Cascade ,right around the bridge Auf Dem Graben the area is known as Little Venice. The bridge spam the Butter Market , the houses here have been on oak poles for centuries on the Leuk river, the town’s people changed its direction in the 13C to have enough water to extinguish fires. Further on is the real cascade where from the iron bridge on high viewing points you can see enormous water masses of the Leuk plunging more than 20 meters over cliff cascades right into city center. In order to stabilize the banks, the 20 meter high “Tümpelsmauer” wall was built in 1641.

saarburg

saarburg

Below the iron bridge on the area known as the Standen and on the other side of the Esplanade full of restos and bus terminal you have the river boat terminus for boat rides on the river Saar on the great Saar Stern boat. In German, more info: The official Saar Flotte of river cruisers

saarburg

The tourist office of Saar in German on Saarburg here:  Tourist office Saar Obermosel on Saarburg

Nice town , Saarburg, lively on the center and great river rides. A wonderful day trip with the family.

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

 

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December 30, 2019

The Saar and Saarbrucken, Germany!

So, let me take you out of my belle France into our old neighbor of Germany. I have been here several times ,university alumni living there, and family ties by marriage. The country was not far from me while living in Versailles so easy trips there. Once moved to Bretagne we did went renting a house in the Saar region and traveling as base all over. It was a memorable trip.

I have taken those photos and updated the text to bring back these memories of family trips in Europe, in  the Saar of Germany, and in Saarbrucken. Hope you enjoy it and thanks for reading.

Saarbrucken

We came down to a new city for all, Saarbrucken. I wanted to see it simply because there they build my FORD !!!(actually in Saarlouis but you see the factory on the road)   and I am a FORD men!!!  We drove from our home base in Oberemmel on the national road B51/E29/620, fast and little traffic! all the way to Saarbrucken and along the way finding new towns one we later came back to it!  We came into the nice parking at Europahalle shopping center at Trierer street, here https://www.q-park.de/de/bei-q-park-parken/stadt/saarbrucken

Saarbrucken is in the frontier state of  Saar,the smallest of the German states in area and population so they said. Very well connected at the cross roads of Europe and easy to France. It goes by the French expressways or autoroute A4 to Paris by the A320, and the Germans A1 to Koln , A6 to Luxembourg, Mannheim, and the A8. It is 392 km from Paris and 728 km from Berlin and 308 km from Brussels. Very close to Luxembourg at 99 km.  The A620 is an urban road that we took and very nice .  To Strasbourg by the  A1 linking with the A4 . You can go around the city sort of like a beltway on the  A8 and come into the city by the A1, A623 and A620.  As said this later one is nice and is along the Saar river and goes thru the city center of Saarbrucken.

It is by train on the TGV/ICE line Paris-Frankfurt and regional French and German trains as well as an airport 9 km from the city. The TER trains are been financed by the Lorraine of France and Saar of Germany. There is a tramway stop at Sarreguemines. A special Saarbahn is a tram train transfrontier connecting Lebach in the Saar to Sarreguemines in the Lorraine  long of 44 km with a stop at Saarbrucken.

Saarbrucken

A bit of history I like

Saarbrucken was mentioned for the first time in 999AD and its origins comes from the Celts and Romans. At the Middle Ages the city was the capital of the county by the same name created in the 11C from Saargau that became the possession of the Counts of Saarbrucken  of the House of Nassau-Weilbourg in 1381 until the French revolution. French revolutionary troops occupied the town in 1793, and was annexed to the French Republic and later Empire  by the Treaties of  Campo Formio in 1797 and  Lunéville  in 1801.

In 1815 with the Treaty of Vienna ;Saarbrücken  becomes Prussian.  The war of 1870 saw the town changing hands  with the French building fortifications on the heights of Spicheren that comes down to Saarbrucken. The town is attacked and the Prussians take the town. After the treaty of Versailles of 1919, the Saar territory is place under an international administration for 15 years and Under the Society of Nations (UN later) Under French control, the capital was Saarbrucken. In 1940, the French department of the Moselle was attached to the region of Gau where Saarbrücken was the main city and took the name of Gau Westmark.  The protectorate after WWII allows for the French to administered the region of the Saar, and was not part of Germany from 1947 with its own constitution. After ,the integration into West Germany or the Federal Republic of Germany , Saarbrucken becomes the capital of the State of Saar.

Many things to see here and all walkable, we did a lot of walking once parked underground and it is great. We always said the best way to see a city is to walk.

We went into the old palace square or Schlossplatz full of museums from casements ,history, regional arts, and the old city hall; we climb the old walls of the old castle and saw breathtaking views of the  Saar river below.

Saarbrucken

Saarbrucken

We went around to see St Jakobs Churchold city hall or Rathaus ,museum of Sacred Arts, Basilica St John, the new city hall and tourist office, St John’s Church, Ludwig’s Church, old palace or castle of Saarbrucken, Historical museum and underground casements, regional Saarland museum of objects found in the area;old castle walls. Also, the Parliament of the Saar building, St Michael Church , the market of St John, and the French consulate building. There is an interesting National Theater of the Saar with 3 rooms, in German they are Staatstheater, Alte Feuerwache and Sparte.  The Staatstheater, is located along the Saar river and was built in  1937/38 as a gift from the National Socialist regime (Nazis) to the Saar following the referendum of 1935 that annexed the Saar to the third reich. You can see the nice Saar museum or Archeological museum as well as the nice gardens of the castle that was originally in terraces to the Saar river and was arranged in a baroque garden between 1760 and 1765.

Saarbrucken

Saarbrucken

Saarbrucken

We did our shopping at the Europa Galerie, and visited our favorite Galerie Kaufhof, as well as had our lunch in the Europa Galerie at a German bakery chain and salon de thé , the Bäckerhaus Ecker. All easily found walking and enjoy it the walks in city center nice shops and bars!

Saarbrucken

Saarbrucken

Saarbrucken

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The tourist office in English for the city is here : http://www.saarbruecken.de/en/tourism/saarbruecken/sights

Saarland tourist page on Saarbrucken: https://www.visitsaarland.co.uk/Media/Cities/Saarbruecken

There you go a nice town on a beautiful silhouette of the Saar river , great shopping! and nice architecture. You can spend a quick whole day here or two as we came back again for another look on same family trip. Enjoy Saarbrucken, Saar of Germany.

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

 

 

December 29, 2019

Some news from France, CCXCVII

So here I am with more of my humble news of my belle France… always excint bits of news of my own choosing in the media world of France. Oh did I say France…welcome back to my latest news from France….

Ahh and Happy New Year and best wishes to all in 2020.

And how about those French lol!! The circulation of metros, buses, trams and RER trains will still be difficult this Sunday December 29 2019. Thirteen metro lines will be completely stopped. In recent years, between December 31 and January 1, Ile-de-France region night owls could count on free public transportation that runs all night. With the strike, it will often be necessary to find a plan B to return home. Slow traffic: thirteen metro lines out of sixteen will be closed on Sunday in Paris, on the 25th day of the strike against the pension reform, before a “significant improvement” Monday, announced this Saturday the RATP. Monday, lines 1 and 14 will operate normally (of course they are automatic no conductor lol!) , 11 metro lines will be partially operated and one RER A and B (RATP zone) on two will run between 6h30 and 20h. For its part, the SNCF announces an average of six TGV out of ten and one Transilien out of five in circulation until Sunday evening. The railway company also plans to run four TER out of ten on Sunday, and an average of three Intercités out of ten over the weekend.   Stay tune if coming as the unions claim will have stayting power on the strike beyond January 11 2020.

Another dear subject that I have written several posts on it to alert the readers of its renovation takes another turn , the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris is moving on.

The immense crane of Notre-Dame Cathedral enters the landscape of Paris. This astonishing yellow spire rises 75 meters above the top of the old roof of the destroyed cathedral. It will be an essential tool for the consolidation and reconstruction phases. The dismantling, which will last several months, should start in February 2020 , but it takes a dry climate, not too cold to advance in this work. The forecourt should be gradually reopened from the end of January. The interior of the cathedral was emptied using robots. The elements have been sorted, inventoried, stored in tents on the forecourt. The inventory is finished for the nave and the transepts.

But there is a lot of rubble left on the vaults. From the upper floor that has been built, rope access technicians will activate. This will involve vacuuming up debris with special devices, but this has not yet started. The choir stalls have been protected by a temporary roof, and will be taken down for cleaning before being reassembled later. We will also have to place the large organ intact, and clean the pipes one by one, to remove the lead dust. When the nave reopens for worship, a temporary wall should be erected before the transepts. In the northern belfry, which had been licked by the flames, the eight bells will have to be lowered before being reassembled later. This is not the case for the two bumblebees in the southern belfry which was not affected by the fire.

For reference my previous posts on the reconstruction of Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris follows:

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2019/07/16/notre-dame-cathedral-jul19-update/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2019/08/05/notre-dame-cathedral-update-aug19/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2019/09/16/notre-dame-cathedral-update-sep19/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2019/11/14/notre-dame-cathedral-update-nov19/

The event sale took place in Senlis in late October 2019 . It is the first time in decades that a Cimabue has passed under the hammer. And the painting, estimated between 4 and 6 million euros, has soared to more than 24 million euros, including costs, becoming the most expensive primitive painting sold in public sale in the world. It was the Alana private collection, belonging to a couple of Chilean collectors based in the United States and specializing in Italian Renaissance art (part of which is currently on display at the Jacquemart André museum in Paris until January 20 2020), more here: https://www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com/en/node/2172   which had it finally swept away, in front of the Metropolitan Museum of New York, the last sub-bidder.

The egg painting and gold background on poplar panel, 25.8 cm by 20.3 cm, was hung between the living room and the kitchen of an old lady in Compiègne (Oise dept 60) and had been appraised at during a move. The expert opinion revealed that it was a very rare work by Ceno Di Pepo, known as Cimabue one of the greatest figures of the Pre-Renaissance. We know at most eleven works executed on wood, none of which is signed. “La Derision du Christ” is believed to be part of a year 1280 diptych depicting scenes from the Passion on eight panels of similar size. Only two of the scenes were known to date: “The Flagellation of Christ” (Frick Collection, New York) and “The Madonna and Child enthroned and surrounded by two angels” (National Gallery, London). More on the connaissance des arts here in French: https://www.connaissancedesarts.com/peinture-et-sculpture/un-rare-tableau-de-cimabue-maitre-de-giotto-decouvert-dans-une-cuisine-de-loise-11126423/

You still have time to go ! Perched 110 m high, the Grande Arche ice rink welcomes visitors every day until January 5. But with the strikes, skaters have considerably become less. More here: https://parisladefense.com/fr/actualites/evenement/animation/patinoire-sur-le-toit-de-la-grande-arche

Beer from Saint-Ouen is anything but cat piss! Thanks to cutting-edge technology allowing it an infinity of recipes, the Saint-Ouen Paris brewery wants to distinguish itself by high-end beers. It also relies on partnerships with renowned artists, such as Monsieur Chat, to design its labels. Ok creative different try it! More here: http://saint-ouen-paris.com/

Château de Compiègne (dept 60 Oise) a great start for the exhibition of incredible racing cars. Open to the public for just one month, the concept car event in the heart of the castle of the imperial city is very attractive.   More in French here: https://chateaudecompiegne.fr/evenement/concept-car-beaute-pure

The Bottin or telephone directory turns the page, finally. Appeared several decades before the phone, it had survived the Minitel (old network of information in France). And it is the Internet that will have had its ending. The last telephone directory of individuals (or white pages) in paper version will be delivered in late 2019. For the business yellow pages, the chopper will fall in late 2020. Frankly hardly notice I always use the internet!!

Dark facades, extreme sobriety, modular spaces … the new Théâtre du Maillon in Strasbourg has just opened its doors. Pasionaria, one of the first shows at the new Théâtre du Maillon, will soon begin. Mirrors reflect a cinematic exterior decor, with the cut shadows of the gray buildings of the European district of Strasbourg, whose first lights are already vibrating in the falling night. The physiognomy of the building, a black concrete box with walls over 10 meters high, reproduced the darkness of the room. The theater is bathed in natural light thanks to large glass facades, some of which slide. From the interior hall of the building, the visitor’s gaze navigates through a gallery of giant paintings on the subject of Strasbourg, or rather its rapidly changing business district, near the European Parliament. The outdoor courtyard, with the air of a Mediterranean patio, can thus become an open-air theater or an exhibition space. More info: https://www.maillon.eu/

And for more near the theatre you have to see the European Parliament: It is an institution in Strasbourg, but also an architectural gesture made in 1999 by the agency Architecture Studio. The Louise-Weiss building has recently been visited, including during the plenary sessions. Located at Louise Weiss building, 1, allée du Printemps.   More info on visits here : https://europarl.europa.eu/visiting/en/visitor-offer?location=Strasbourg&type=5

The MAMCS: Designed by architect Adrien Fainsilber, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is to be discovered for its beautiful glazed interior nave, and its permanent collection made up of works by Rodin, Gauguin, Signac, Monet or Picasso…Located at 1, place Hans-Jean-Arp . More info here : https://en.musees.strasbourg.eu/museum-of-modern-and-contemporary-art

Les Haras: A magnificent spiral in wooden strips surrounds the central staircase of this Strasbourg brasserie hotel, located in the city’s former national stud farms. Listed as a historic monument, the place was renovated in 2013 by the architectural firm Denu et Paradon and the Jouin-Manku agency. Located at 23, rue des Glacières. More info here : http://www.les-haras.fr/?lng=en

And during the season end of year is always good to have a Champagne. Here is another story of an up and coming house. Keep an eye on it you read it here first

A small stone shelter on the hillside overlooks the village of Oger. On the left, we see Avize. On the right is Le Mesnil. It is there, in the heart of the Marne river valley, that Olivier Bonville, grandson of Franck, the founder of the champagne house, likes to accompany his guests, in the “Cabane des Belles Voyes”, named after his favorite plot . Behind the back wall, Chardonnay vines planted in 1965 thrive. He made a separate cuvée, “Les Belles Voyes”. He finds in this champagne with a very salty taste, superb freshness, an authenticity of the past, which he also recognizes in the production of the cult winegrower Anselme Selosse, whose advice he listened to a lot at the start of his work. He vinifies his 15 hectares of vines planted in Avize, Oger and Le Mesnil. He confines himself to the Chardonnay, does not buy any other grapes. The winemaker has offered since last year three plot cuvées, from the 2012 harvest: a “Pur Avize”, fleshy and vinous, a “Pur Mesnil”, iodized and tense , a “Pure Oger”, in balance between the two – salty and smooth at the same time. In addition to these three wines, which complement very neat “classics”, it creates a surprising cuvée, the demi-sec. In contrast to the succulent champagnes, this one is based on a 2005 harvest base. It gains elegant patina and length, ideal with a foie gras. More info on Bonville here: http://en.champagne-franck-bonville.com/en/the-bonville-champagne-house/our-location/

For my fashion readers, here is good news me think. The emblematic ready-to-wear house Sonia Rykiel, liquidated on July 25 2019 for want of a buyer, will be relaunched by two of the founders of the Showroomprivé site, who want to promote the brand, described as “flagship of French heritage”. The house Sonia Rykiel, famous for its knitwear and its colored stripes, was supported at the time of its liquidation on a network, in its own, of six shops and four outlets (destocking stores); it made just over 50% of its sales in France. More on the Showroomprivé site here: https://www.showroomprive.com/

And for the pleasures of culture here are my fav for the coming year

At the Théâtre Mogador 25 rue de Mogador 9éme one of my few theatres I have actually seen a show over the years. See Ghost.   created in 2011 from the film of the same name by Jerry Zucker with Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg in the main roles. The show had received three Tony Awards nominations in 2012. A spectacular staging tends to demonstrate once again that we can perfectly combine popular success and artistic quality. More info here: https://www.theatresparisiensassocies.com/pieces-theatre-paris/ghost-le-musical-3975.html

A stone’s throw from the Jardin du Ranelagh garden, at the Musée Marmottan Monet, an exceptional exhibition allows you to discover a facet of the unknown painter, that of landscapes, churches and mills, nuanced colors and delicate features: figurative Mondrian. About sixty paintings, selected by Mondrian himself around 1920 for his collector Salomon B. Slijper, are to be discovered through a journey that highlights the major figurative work of the artist. Impressionism, luminism, wild animals and symbolism are at the heart of the exhibition. Rare cubist and neo-plasticist compositions complete the ride. Musée Marmottan-Monetn 2 rue Louis-Boilly  16éme. More info here : https://www.marmottan.fr/expositions/mondrian-figuratif/

And the National Museum of Natural History in the Grand Gallery of Evolution you have an expo on Oceans. The ocean covers most of the planet but is still largely unknown. This exhibition offers an unusual dive into the heart of an original biodiversity, far from the coast and the usual figures. The constraints of the marine environment as well as the challenge of its exploration are highlighted in particular through projections, an important iconography and a selection of atypical specimens. Located at 36 rue Geoffroy St-Hilaire 5éme .More info here: https://www.mnhn.fr/fr/visitez/agenda/exposition-evenement/ocean-voie-illumination

And a must to see and we love it, enough said. At the Grand Palais of Paris 3 avenue du Général Eisenhower 8éme see the expo on Toulouse-Lautrec, Résolument moderne . . The work of Toulouse-Lautrec is often reduced to the culture of Montmartre. If the artist wonderfully represented the electricity of the Parisian night and its pleasures, he was especially animated by the aesthetic ambition to translate the reality of modern society under its multiple faces. This exhibition; co-produced by the museums of Orsay and the Orangery as well as by the Rmn-Grand Palais, with the support of the city of Albi and the Toulouse-Lautrec museum; offers to rediscover a great artist . More info : https://www.grandpalais.fr/fr/evenement/toulouse-lautrec

The cult program Intervilles will make a comeback in 2020. The last program was broadcast in 2013. Intervilles is the program putting two French cities in friendly competition through a series of physical tests and games of skill, on land, in the water and in the air and the opportunity in passing to revise its geography in an atmosphere full of good cheers. The new version will be presented by former Miss France Valérie Bègue, as well as Bruno Guillon and Olivier Minne. Recall that Intervilles is one of the longest-lived French television games (it was broadcast from 1962 to 2013) and is one of the most suitable French programs abroad.

And finally, something those that live or work there but also maybe some visitors feel it . The metro and its inconveniences are known only too well. Normal, taking it morning, noon, evening, again, again and again for years, we begin to be prowled. Come on, Parisian friends, and if we identified what makes us all mad in the underground, just to be sure that we are all the same? Would that reassure you or not? Whatever your answer, here are 30 reasons to go home and piss your cat off!!!

1- To be tight against odorous people lol!

2- Being forced to wait for the next metro because we didn’t have the courage to … see the time.

3- The long corridors that never end (cuckoo Châtelet) oh yeah!!!!

4- Piss smells in these same corridors

5- Rats (but mice are cute by cons)

6- Pickpockets; QUIZ: “Warning, pickpockets may be present on board” = which station? Hahaha the usual warning for nothing yes!!

7- People who play bad music, you can never be quiet!

8- The metro, which stops for several minutes, in a tunnel. We are not claustro, but if you really insist on RATP, we might well become one.

9- The people who don’t let out, or rather who make no effort for us, WE want out

10- People who blow because they are drunk JUST IN FRONT OF US (what did you eat, man ?!)

11- The people who steal your place, when strategically, you were closer. It’s not fair play, oh! cardboard Mr. referee!

12- The oppression of the people who stick you in front, behind, right and left.

13- When the metro stops between two stations, and NOBODY tells us why putaaaaiiiin! Oops won’t translate………

14- Those who fall on you because like your smell

15- Those who want to defraud by passing with you, without having asked you. Accomplice by breaking and entering, that’s abused right?

16- Those who remain seated on the folding seats while we are in Saint-Lazare at 18h30.

17- People who carry backpacks

18- All the Marlboro mafia which monopolizes the exit of the Barbès metro and blocks your way

19- All those who speak on the phone believing they are at home. We don’t care about your life conn ****! Oops won’t translate.

20- The drivers of the line 4 who know how to stop other than brutally before saying “sorry, the braking was a bit brutal”. When they apologize.

21- Children who MUST be seated. It stands up at that age normally, right?

22- Elderly people who look at you badly because you did not get up to give way to them. Hey respect for elders, it works on other continents, Asia, Africa. Here we are in Europe, the old folks don’t you understand?

23- Sitting in the middle of a family in a square of 4 (I swear I don’t listen)

24- The people who stagnate in front of the doors when they are going to close and you NEED to return

25- When the waiting time for the next metro is not displayed on the tables

26- When you have to wait 11 minutes for your metro on a Sunday afternoon (next time, take the bike)

27- Wipers, the worst *****

28- People who leave their bag on a seat, of course monopolizing the last place. “Parcel trap alert, blow up this gentlemen bag hin hin.” Hahahaha!

29- The people who push you to go out before the metro is even stopped, and you go out too. Old people often.

30- The people who lean against the bar. Where do we stand now Einstein? Hahaha!

Well hope you get the picture of public transport. And remember I did this too. And remember , happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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