Archive for February 7th, 2020

February 7, 2020

The Sagrada Familia!

One site that has been overlook by me in my blog and now finally given the credit it deserves. I go there several times first on business and then personal, my sons have gone even on school trips, and the whole family been there. Now it’s time for me to tell you a bit more on the Sagrada Familia Basilica of Barcelona, Catalunia, Kingdom of Spain.

The Sagrada Familia, (Holy Family) the must see monument emblematic of Barcelona, you have to see it ,period. Its a church more a cathedral that its construction begain in 1882 and is not yet finish! According to the original plans of Gaudi it was to be finished by 2030! This is his major project until his death in 1926.

In 2019, 70% of the Sagrada Família was finished, with only 8 of the 18 towers. The current official reception date is in 2026 (or the centenary of the death of Antoni Gaudí). The construction direction is more reserved, and says that the church could be finished somewhere during the first third of the 21st century. Once the construction of the Sagrada Familia is finished, the basilica will be the largest church in the world.


The Sagrada Família will have 18 towers in total; twelve towers symbolize the twelve apostles and four towers around the celebration tower represent the four evangelists around Jesus Christ, and then next to it a celebration tower for the Virgin Mary and Jesus. When finished, the celebration tower will be 170 meters high; almost the same height as Montjuïc (see post in blog), the highest hill in Barcelona.

The Sagrada Familia basilica will have three facades, each representing a phase in the life of Jesus. The facade of the nativity and the facade of passion are already completed, and the front will receive the facade of glory; this facade of glory still to be built will be the main entrance and will represent the origin and the end of humanity. The 5 meter high bronze entrance door bears the inscription of “Our Father” in Catalan, and the “Give us our daily bread today” in fifty languages.

On the Nativity facade , built between 1892 and 1930 and the oldest facade, the birth of Christ is represented by 13 natural scenes with the most important events in the life of the Holy Family of Nazareth. The facade of passion shows the Calvary of Christ, his death and resurrection; this dark facade is more modern and covered with angular statues.

The interior of the Sagrada Familia Basilica is very impressive. The particular columns of the church are like trees and branches which carry the roof of the temple; the structure of the branches is of a particular construction to support the weight of the roof and in addition ensures a perfect distribution of light and sound. The stained glass windows give a magical effect of color and light and create a special feeling of tranquility in the Sagrada Família.


The crypt under the altar is the oldest part of the Sagrada Familia basilica and also the place where Gaudi was buried on June 12, 1926. Through the windows, you can have a look in the crypt. A visit to the crypt is only possible during Mass. The Spanish Mass is every day at 9h, Sunday at 11h45 and 20h15.

Under the Basilica is the Sagrada Familia museum. The museum is included in the ticket price and tells the story and the future of the church. It does not only offer original drawings, models and photos from Gaudí’s time, but also an explanation of the latest techniques used for construction.

The Sagrada Famiia is located at Mallorca 401 and you get there on Metro lines 2 and 5 both stop at “Sagrada Familia” station. When you get off at this station, you come out in front of the Passion facade of the Sagrada Familia. The entrance and the ticket boxes are on this side. If you are using the hop-on-hop-off bus, the blue line stops directly at the Sagrada Família.

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

Official Sagrada Familia in English

Tourist office of Barcelona on the Sagrada Familia in English

Tourist office of Spain on the Sagrada Familia in English

There you go folks ready to visit a work in progress world monument , a must while in Barcelona. Hope you enjoy the Sagrada Familia

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


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February 7, 2020

An update on Bourges!

Coming was nice and indeed one of the better Cathedrals of France. However the ambiance tops it off amongs timber houses narrow cobblestones and hilly streets all very nice for our idea of our belle France! This is Bourges, on the Cher dept 18 of the Centre-Val de Loire region.

I have written before on a couple of posts on Bourges; let me give you one there some info missing and just realised it got some period photos to go alone too (even if taking from my photo album). Therefore , here is the resto and hotel update on Bourges. 

First the hotel we find it as I do business runs here and use the Logis de France as company remburse me . Therefore, I book my personal trip with one of their hotels that I have used before with my family of 5 at the time.

With the family we stay at a great logis de France property ,Le Christina, right next to the Halle au Ble and nearby free parking! Great comfort, good prices, and wonderful friendly service.

From the hotel you can easily walk to the Jacques Coeur Palace, Saint-Etienne Cathedral, museums (most are free) and also discover the pedestrian streets of Vieux Bourges with in particular the half-timbered houses . It is the ideal place to enjoy, on sunny days, the Bourges Nights and Lights Circuit.

It has been completely renovated recently, offering 64 rooms with three comfort categories, the Le Christina Hotel also has family rooms up to 5 people (we took it!).

The official Le Christina in English: Official Le Christina Hotel

The tourist office of Bourges old Berry on Le Christina Hotel in English: Tourist office of Bourges of the old Berry on Le Christina Hotel


And as always we need to eat and find the very best from local recommendations. This time was Italian, ciao!  The winner was lunch at La Scala, 1 place Planchat. All with Italian music as the waiters sang listening to Eros Ramazzotti is tops, will need to go back one weekend. All richly decorated, great food, great service, great prices a must.

The regional chain La Scala (with nine establishments in the Centre Val de Loire region ) has created a large restaurant with Baroque decor in a beautiful house in the city center of Bourges dating from the 15C. Venetian chandeliers stand alongside painted paintings and ceilings. Some will find it all a bit too much, others (like us) will appreciate the effort made to bring us back to the extravagance of Italian theater. If you book, choose a table upstairs to admire the original half-timbering, traditional in Bourges (as we did!) . In summer, prefer the large terrace, located on a very lively square, in the heart of the historic center , place Planchat. Like the surroundings, the cuisine smells of Italy. The pizzas are varied, typically Italian or more local, with French cheeses of the goat or Saint-Nectaire type. Bruschettas,   large sandwiches generously garnished   are also to try to change from pizzas. The dishes may be generous, we did not leave without an ice cream, among the most original too. Pleasant and relaxed service. A restaurant that is suitable for romantics as well as for families. Nice wine list from Italy or the Berry ,Loire regions.

Official La ScalaOfficial La Scala resto

The tourist office of Bourges old Berry region in English: Tourist office of Bourges old Berry on the La Scala resto


There you go I feel better with a photo as could not find it before lol! Hope you enjoy the posts on Bourges its a wonderful city to see in a glorious region of my belle France, the Centre Val de Loire (the traditional mention valley of the kings).

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

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February 7, 2020

Again Maintenon! !

And here I am again to tell you about some wonderful historical and architecturally nice castle not far from Paris, and easy by train from Montparnasse. Of course, I have written before on it in my blog so will just content myself to share with you some notes from a famous newspaper lady and my pictures of course. Let me tell you a bit about Madame de Maintenon and her castle in pictures.

Briefly, Maintenon is located in the dept 28 Eure et Loir of the Centre Val de Loire region.


The childhood of Françoise, born as Aubigné, offers too few happy memories. She owes her birth in November 1635, in the prison of Niort,(Deux-Sévres dept 79 region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine) to a customary father of the dungeons, counterfeiter, cheater, renegade and murderer of his first wife. Disowned by the poet Agrippa ; grandfather of Francoise, companion of Henri IV, great slayer of Catholics and man of convictions , the ill-named Constant(father) leaves his wife Jeanne (mother) to raise their children alone. It is difficult to assume the survival of its own. Above all, Françoise lacks tenderness. The youth of Bignette, her nickname, gets bogged down in necessity, in great poverty and sometimes even in misery, except six years during which she enjoys happiness, love and laughter at her aunt Louise-Arthémise’s.


For lack of dowry, she preferred to the convent to marry a paralytic of 41 years, beautiful spirit with atrophied body. However, the poet Paul Scarron, this shortcut of human misery, brings her kindness, address book, fame, kindness. Widowed at 24, Françoise receives debts for all the heritage. Installed in a furnished room at the Petite-Charité Convent, she cultivates her image of a respectable, devoted and charitable woman, between sincerity and necessity.


At a dinner, she meets the spicy Madame de Montespan, five years younger. The meeting, decisive, dictates her future: Françoise soon becomes, in the greatest clandestinity, the governess of the natural children of the favorite of  king Louis XIV, the dazzling and biting Athénaïs. Louis XIV discovers the devotee in a different light. She touches him, seduces him. With a cool head, the skilful governess sets off with the Sun King in a friendly, sensual, intellectual, romantic relationship that lasted from 1673 to 1715, the year of the sovereign’s death.


The widow Scarron, with the flirtatious royal gratification which she received in 1674, acceded to landed property and its attributes: at 40, Madame de Maintenon managed her new estate, a big castle (Maintenon) set with land. Masterfully, she oversees repairs, governs crops, validates the choice of livestock, creates a charity and a general hospital, launches a canvas factory and places the poorest in an apprenticeship school.

She must return, however, out of love for the king who cannot do without her. Secretly married to Louis XIV in 1683, after the death of Queen Marie-Thérèse, at Fontainebleau or Versailles who knows? , the future marquise plays her partition with her glorious husband, as much as she can, but without any real function or decisive influence. His “Solidity “, as the king likes to call her, decides nothing. The one who knew how to appease by her charms, her intelligence, her tenderness, her temperance the master of Europe remains a queen without crown, an enlightened and tempered spirit in the shade of this great machine which always impressed.


Throughout their 32 years of common life, she learned to know, respect and fear a selfish, tyrannical, authoritarian, rigid man. Disappointed by this love which does not correspond to an absolute so longed for, she devotes herself with passion, sincerity and efficiency to charitable and useful works. At Saint-Cyr (yvelines 78) , her wedding present, her greeting and her last home, which should comfort her. It will not be. At 83 years old, the ambitious generous ends an exceptional destiny in sorrow and weariness. All of complexity and paradox, she however did not abdicate anything, she never denied her freedom of thought or tainted her proud constancy.

On April 15, 1719, Madame de Maintenon died, alone and dissatisfied, four years after Louis XIV. In Saint-Cyr, an institution created by her to protect and educate young noble and poor girls, and to avoid the disarray and humiliation that she herself endured, she ends a tumultuous, daring and highly romantic destiny. All of thwarted passions, that which worked for the happiness of his close relations, the future of his nephews and nieces, the education of the illegitimate children of the king, the glory of her husband, leaves without ever having really met the God whom she searches since her youth.

Translated from an excellent work of newspaperwoman Jeanne Morcellet.

Under her influence, the Black Code was completed in 1685 and the Edict of Nantes revoked, which triggered the persecution and the exodus of Protestants. Madame de Maintenon had Saint-Cyr-l’École (Yvelines 78) created in 1686 the Royal House of Saint-Louis, an establishment intended for the education of noble and destitute young girls.

The establishment was maintained during the first years of the French revolution, but closed its doors definitively in March 1793. Napoleon I was inspired by the Royal House of Saint-Louis to create the House of the young ladies of the Legion of Honor, which still exists today under the name of House of Education of the Legion of Honor. More of today here in English: Official Legion of Honor House of Education of the Legion of Honor

Some further webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Maintenon on the castle in French

Official Chateau de Maintenon in English

Tourist office of Chartres Maintenon on the castle in English

Official Chateau de Versailles on Madame de Maintenon in English

Indeed fascinationg history that I like and glad to show it in my blog. Hope you enjoy the story of Madame de Maintenon and the Castle

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


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