Archive for January 5th, 2020

January 5, 2020

Some news from France, CCXCVIII

Ok so here I am to talk to you about the latest news in France according to and always looking forward for you to enjoy it and I thank you. Here is the latest news

With 4,000 people a day since the start of the Christmas holidays, the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte (Maincy 77) celebrates Christmas event creates queues never seen before. which generated closings to the public last week around   16h for four days. More info here:

At Rambouillet (Yvelines 78) discover board games from the time of king Louis XV. The new exhibition of the Palace of the King of Rome in Rambouillet presents games that are several hundred years old. Some had to be restored; some details of the games of the goose are clues to life in the time of Louis XV and Louis XVI. More info here:

At Buchelay (Yvelines 78) one of my old stomping ground there is a new shopping center doing already wonders with customers approvals. The first 27 stores of “Mon Beau Buchelay” (my beautiful Buchelay) had opened just before the end-of-year holidays. A13 autoroute de Normandie direction Rouen/Caen from Paris but go in at sortie or exit 13. More info here:

The old Parisian barracks are getting a makeover for saving them and looking great. That of Reuilly allowed the creation of housing, located in the heart of the 12éme arrondissement of Paris, between rue de Reuilly, rue de Chaligny and boulevard Diderot, this 39,000 m2 complex that had housed up to 2,500 soldiers were no longer occupied except by a branch of the Armed Forces Information and Recruitment Center (Cirfa). Built in 1830 to accommodate the regiments of infantry, cavalry and artillery on a site which had seen prosperity, on the initiative of Colbert, the Royal Ice Factory, it served as a base, during WWII, at the Wehrmacht and the French militia, before being reinvested by the army at the Liberation, then gradually deserted with the approach of the 21st century. In 2013, the State ceded the property to the City of Paris with the obligation, imposed by the local urban plan (PLU), to build at least 50% of social housing there. . More info here in French :

and that of Lourcine (13éme) has become a university annex. The Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne Ilot Lourcine University, which represents a constructed area of 10,750 m² in which teaching and research spaces will be fitted out as well as a 2,000 m² library. More info here:

Head to the Chevreuse Valley (Yvelines 78 ), 45 minutes from Paris, for a weekend or more, in order to purify your body and calm your mind at the Hotel Le Barn. This completely restored 19C farmhouse, nestled in a 200 hectare park, has kept the spirit of a family home in the countryside. Had the pleasure of visit it on a business conference full of history, architecture just awesome for a longer stay. More info here :

And of course, could not leave without telling you of the French pastime of Gréves or strikes, which are continuing and just be alert on your travel plans. On Thursday January 9 there will be another big demonstration against the pension reform, where all professions are expected. The rest of January will see the strike in full swing, with in particular citizen actions organized by the CFDT union. Laurent Berger, secretary general of the CFDT, announced to Matignon (prime minister Edourard Philippe home) on December 20, “I’m telling you: it will go up very, very strong in January (…). And the CFDT, from January 6, will challenge parliamentarians, it will also have mobilization actions ”. It will be a blast in January, and I will be in Toulouse….

And while we have strikes, the public transport is modernizing.. In the night test on line 1 for almost a year, the MP14 metro is coming soon! It will carry more passengers for the extension of line 14. 120 meters long, this new train will be 24% larger than a normal metro, with 8 cars against 6 currently. Inside, the noise will be reduced by 40%, the seats will be more ergonomic and the lighting more economical. The equipment should meanwhile reduce the energy consumption of the trains by 20% and bring more comfort to passengers, with more places reserved for people with reduced mobility. While it was possible since September to buy a book ticket or carnet or a Navigo pass on certain smartphones, you can now buy a single ticket and weekend youth tickets. The renovated RER B trains (the one to CDG Paris!) will resume service on the line, which has more than a million daily passengers, but still no double-level trains. These modernized, larger and more luminous trains will already be a great improvement for the 980,000 daily users of line B!!, who suffer frequent incidents and difficult transport conditions (if you work here you know it). We will have to wait until 2025 for much larger trains, the MINGs, to considerably improve passenger comfort. Châtelet, Place de Clichy, Arts et Métiers stations will unveil their modernization this year. Thanks to renovated quays and corridors and refurbished reception rooms, to a recovery and ordering of all components, from floor to ceiling. These actions are accompanied by more legible and more complete signage – intermodal, tourist and urban – new seats, more suitable and more efficient lighting.  Well at least is not all doom!

And how about Paris losing inhabitants yes of course, I know it. Get out into the country side for a better life !!! These are the latest figures from INSEE (gov statistical office). According to the most recent census, Paris has 2,187,526 inhabitants, which represents a loss of 0.5% per year since 2011. An average of 11,000 inhabitants less each year, or -2.4% over five years . According to the census, it is the 15éme arrondissement the most popular, with 233,392 inhabitants. It is followed by the 20éme arrondissement with 195,814 inhabitants, the 18éme with 195,233 inhabitants and the 13éme, with 182,099 Parisians. The 1éme, 2éme and 4éme arrondissements very touristy districts….register the least number of residents with respectively: 16,266, 20,900 and 28,088 inhabitants. In all of Paris, only the 19éme   arrondissement has gained population, with a slight increase of 0.2% in its number of inhabitants, thanks in particular to housing programs set up by the government. The trend will continue in the next few years at least.

And something we take very seriously and enjoy the best in the world..yes!! According to the northern newspaper, la Voix du Nord   has done a count on the holidays of 2020, proposing that we only ask 25 days off to get… 60 days of vacation!!!!. Let’s start today, since by putting down its Thursday January 2 and Friday January 3, we were gaining 5 days of rest with the weekend. Now that you are well rested, you can wait until April when Monday the 13th is a public Holiday, you just have to ask 4 short days from 14 to 17 to get 9 days of vacation!   Fortunately for us, the month of May is very mild since it is full of public holidays, the 1st, the 8th and the 21st. You just have to ask 4 days, from May 4 to 7, then 4 other days from 18 to 22, and you will get the modest sum of 19 DAYS of vacation!!!. Or how to transform 8 days off into 3 weeks of pure happiness. In June, posing 4 days on 2, 3, 4 and 5 allows you to get 9 days of vacation since Monday 1st is a holiday. Same story in July, where we take advantage of July 14 to ask 4 more days and leave with 9. We must then do a little manoeuvre this Summer and work in August, but do not worry, November 11 being holidays, we can ask Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 to have 5 days of vacation. Until the Christmas holidays, when it’s bingo: Christmas falls on a Friday, so we ask the previous 4 days to have 9 days of vacation. In total, it’s 60 days that we take advantage of for only 25 days asked. And happy New Year 2020!!!!! Can’t wait lol!!

Some new restaurant to seek out in my eternal Paris and yours truly will be seeking them out especially with all those vacation days lol!

We no longer present the unique and prestigious double-starred chef Marc Veyrat, one foot in Paris, the other in Haute-Savoie. From January 2020, the grand chef will settle in the iconic La Fontaine Gaillon and will offer an iodized menu for the occasion. All in a chic Parisian decor. The generous terrace will be one of the most pleasant in Paris, and this “new” address thought above all in the continuity of a neighborhood institution. Le Fontaine Gaillon; 15, rue Gaillon – 2éme, Opening January 2020 . More info on NewTable here:

Mon Square, this is the crazy new trendy address in the 7éme arrondissement just across from Square Samuel Rousseau and Sainte-Clotilde Church. In its decor at the same time arty, vegetable and girly, we find pretty flowered fabrics which decorate the walls of the Green Room and the Pink Room, ceramic birds made by hand and a monumental ceramic tree overhanging the big central bar, but also a private Kiss room more commonly known as a “privatized lounge” all dressed in mirrors. On the plate, seasonal French cuisine that mixes classy brasserie chic with more original notes. Mon Square; 31, rue Saint-Dominique, 7éme; Opening January 2020 . More info here :

The mythical Passage des Panoramas has a new spot. With a colorful decor, this new address showcases cuisine with Italian influences. On the menu, chubby pizzas and more than generous pasta. On two floors, we are immersed in a pop and ultra colorful decor with terracotta floor tiles, walls in polished concrete or flanked with shiny neon lights, a gold pizza oven and plates with psychedelic designs. In the basement, the green course dinner Majorelle blue color is the perfect place for an exclusive evening in large tables. Zola is sharing, friendliness and generosity! Zola, 62, passage des Panoramas – 2éme; Opening January 2020 . More info on NewTable here :

This old 16C institution has a new look! Olivier Flottes and Michel Boiron, already at the head of Gilberte and Huguette, promise a complete renaissance for the Le Petit Victor Hugo who sets out to conquer the coasts of the world with a real unusual “Maison Mer”. We will find all the iconic dishes of the world around fish, including King Crab, paellas, fish tacos, enchiladas, ceviches, multiple taramas, octopus chawarma, california rolls, poke bowls, fish tagines or noodles with shrimp. Designer Laura Gonzalez has struck again, and will end up astonishing the eye with lush vegetation, wave-shaped benches, a huge sunroof and even an incredible colorful rooftop . Le petit Victor Hugo; 143, avenue Victor Hugo , 16éme; Opening for April 2020. More info here :

 The Sir Winston is one of the oldest English pubs in Paris. In Spring, it will turn into a spicy table, halfway between the English pub and an Indian table, like an incredible home of the English colonies, decorated by the talented Laura Gonzalez. This new table will be open every day from breakfast to dinner, for a moment with friends, a business lunch or even a family Indian brunch on Sunday. Sir Winston will offer a sharing cuisine flavored with spices and signed by an Indian chef in a colorful setting. In the basement, there is an amazing speakeasy and ideal for sipping great cocktails . Sir Winston ; 5, rue de Presbourg ,16éme; Opening Spring 2020. More info here :

 Cali Sisters, it’s the most anticipated new Californian restaurant of 2020. Behind this welcoming and comfortable new address, two sisters, Capucine and Juliette Vigand, passionate about this sunny region of the United States. Here you can eat all day long, good Californian cuisine, as delicious as it is healthy and above all at very affordable prices. This bohemian and vibrant restaurant located a stone’s throw from the Place de la Bourse will seat around 100 people and all the classics of Californian cuisine on its plates. Lemon and ricotta pancakes, casserole meatballs, smoked short rib and spiced roasted butternut squash, broccoli snacked with pesto or multicolored lemon carrots. Cali Sisters ; 17, rue Notre-Dame-des-Victoires , 2éme;   Opening March 2020. More info at l’hotellerie here :

And lastly on the arts, Paris is eternal.

A repeat call for one of my favorites. Domenikos Theotokopoulos (1541-1614) is better known by the name of El Greco. Painter of Cretan origin, he stayed in Italy before settling in Spain in 1577. Last grand master of the Renaissance, he was also the first painter of the Spanish Golden Age. This retrospective, the first major French monographic exhibition dedicated to him, highlights his fiery and inventive work, rediscovered at the turn of the 19-20C by the avant-garde. Goes on until February 10, 2020. More info here:

See Nourrir Paris or feed Paris, between permanence and transfer; nourish Paris, a specific identity; feed Paris, a question of abundance; feed Paris, multiple challenges; Parisian supply; les Halles, belly of Paris; consume in Paris: so many themes to be discovered at the heart of an exhibition route that highlights food in the broad sense, and throughout history. The History Committee of the City of Paris devotes an exhibition to the Forney Library to the means of production and transport, enabling the great question posed by the inhabitants of the capital to be answered. Bibliothéque Forney at Hôtel de Sens 1 rue du Figuier 4éme; Métro : Pont Marie (line 7). More info here :

There you go we will always have Paris my dears. Enjoy it as we do

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




January 5, 2020

The Funiculaire at Pau!

Ok so here I am writing about a sort of public transport yeah! Even if I like to be known as the road warrior in Europe, I do take the usual European public transport schemes. This includes funiculars or cable car whatever… I did enjoy my visit to Pau and the funicular there , a relic of yesteryear still going strong.

Oh yes plenty of post on Pau in my blog but nothing dedicated to this unique public transport spot and me think deserves more. Therefore, here is a bit more on the funicular of Pau, dept 64 Pyrénées-Atlantiques, region of Nouvelle Aquitaine.

The Funiculaire de Pau or cable car was finally put into service in 1908, linking the train station (Gare) to the Boulevard des Pyrénées at the Place Royale. The length of the track is 110 meters, with a slope of 30%. Its use has been free since 1978. Rotations are frequent with a departure every 3 minutes. The funicular is in service every day Monday to Saturday, from 6h45 to 21h40. Sunday from 13h30 to 20h50.



The idea of a funicular dates back to 1874 in the form of an elevator, this idea was quickly rejected. In 1900, the engineer Hérard proposed a “mobile ramp”. An agreement was signed with Médebelle for a period of 75 years on January 25, 1901, but this project was still not approved. In 1904, Jean Bonnamy, a Bordeaux public works contractor, proposed a funicular whose minimum potential was estimated at 500,000 travelers per year. But the “ecologists” of the time managed to postpone the project (again!). The works continued despite everything and the funicular was put into service on Saturday February 15, 1908, at 7h!.


The structure, made up of metallic spans made of riveted truss beams, rests on sealed moorings in solid masses of unreinforced concrete. The slope is 30% and it is 110 meters long. With its length of only 110 meters, it is probably one of the smallest passenger railways in the world. In 1961, cars with wooden cases were replaced by cars with metal cases. The Funiculaire or funicular was stopped during the summer of 2010 in order to carry out heavy renovation works . It is managed by the city of Pau, it is therefore independent of the Idelis public transport service of Pau.


A nice neat family ride to take while in Pau ,nice views and friendly company  and it helps not to climb to the upper city. Enjoy the Funiculaire de Pau as we did

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Pau on the Funiculaire

Tourist office pau pyrenees on the funiculaire de Pau

Association of Funiculaires of France on Pau

On the above see the Funiculaire de Pau in window 12 in 3rd row.

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


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January 5, 2020

A hidden story: Villepreux!

So back in the swing of things on my blog for 2020 full of energy and travel plans. However, let me bring you back to my old domaine and tell you about an off the beaten path that is worth the detour for its architecture and history.

The town of  Villepreux is located in the department of Yvelines (78) in the Île-de-France region.The town is about 12 km west of Versailles, in the plain of Versailles in the extension of the perspective of the gardens of Versailles, as drawn by André Le Nôtre, practically in line with the perspective of the Grand Canal ( an axis which corresponds to the Royal Alley of Villepreux) even if this axis was somewhat forgotten after the French revolution of 1789 and the moving to Paris of the royal family.

We happened to know it very well as it is the town of my twin son former girlfriend a relationship of over 2 years which ended when we moved to Bretagne. They met at the private high school in Le Chesnay, just over the street from Versailles.

We went there always by car , taking the road D10 along the Orangerie of the Château de Versailles direction to Saint Cyr L’école and there take D11 passing Fontenay –le-Fleury to Villepreux.. However, my twin son has gone there by train in company several times. The Transilien train of line N from Paris Montparnasse passes by Versailles Chantiers station (which they took)  and onwards to Villepreux direction Mantes la Jolie stop Station or Gare de Villepreux-Les Clayes. More info on the train here: Official region of ile de France Transilien Line N

There is also a bus of network STAVO line 44 that goes from Versailles Rive Gauche RER train station in Versailles (closes to palace) direction Plaisir-Valibout and stop or arrêt Gare routiére des Clayes (bus terminal). More info on this alternative here (never taken by us). Bus network Stavo line 44 Versailles to Villepreux

A bit of history I like

If the first mention written on Villepreux dates back to a Charles-the-Bald charter dated 856 that does not exclude the existence of inhabitants before this time as attested by the discovery of a Merovingian cemetery at the top of the nursery from the Le Nôtre horticultural school, at the end of the 19C (now a vocational training center). From the 11C to 1789, Villepreux had 34 successive lords. Many of them link the history of the city to the big history of France. Too many to mention the 34 but it includes the Montmorency’s.

Some of the nice things to see here are

The Saint-Germain Church, from the 12C. The Château de Grand’Maisons. Built from 1720 for the Francini family, creators of the water fountain games at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Fontainebleau and Versailles; it was completed in the 19C .The Château de Gondi..From the old 17C castle that belonged to the Gondi family, only the gate and an entrance pavilion Mansart remain. It was rebuilt in 1885 by Georges Nagelmackers, director of the Compagnie internationale des wagons-couches..( . La ferme de Grand’Maisons (farm). Today it is a center for seminars. And the Saint-Vincent house, Located in the old village, former corbelled and half-timbered house, it was the second house of the Daughters of Charity, founded by Saint Vincent de Paul and is today a place of exhibitions, animations and meetings.


For the anecdote, the house we visited was near the Château de Grand’Maisons. The city page on its history in French is here City of Villepreux on heritage

Like I said a souvenir spot for us, with great architecture and history as the walls of the farm are the back of the old domaine du Château de Versailles reduce greatly after the French revolution to the grounds you see today.  Worth an off the beaten path detour from Versailles.

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


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