Archive for March 25th, 2020

March 25, 2020

Versailles, exteriors!

Well as said, cannot be too far from my dear old home Versailles. There is so much to write on the city and its monuments (more than the castle) that a blog on it would be more appropiate. However, using my library and been friends of the palace for many years let me tell you a bit more on the exteriors! Yes we do so much on the interior that we forget the wonderful exterior of the Palace:museum of Versailles!

I am back on my nostalgic mood so of course, Versailles is sublime, can’t go a day without thinking of it, visited many many times over the years and again; however, living there for 10 years was tops. A royal chic town with friendly folks and history all around you, France, Europe, the World. Unique

I have done posts on Versailles of different kinds over the years but now will do one on simply the exteriors of the palace/museum of Versailles. The architecture is phenomenal and the look from any angle in the city is awesome.


I will be a bit more technical on this post, of course, taken from the pros publication of the Friends of the Palace of Versailles experience.

The succession of the Place d’Armes and the three courtyards of the Palace : Avant-cour (forecourt), Cour Royale( Royal Court) and cour de Marbre (Marble court) are the result of several construction campaigns. As early as 1662, king Louis XIV ordered, among the first transformations of his father’s (Louis XIII) little castle, the widening of the lower courtyard and the development of its surroundings. Its first architect Louis Le Vau rebuilds the two wings of the Commons on both sides of this low courtyard which today corresponds to the Royal Court. He also rebuilt the guard pavilions that frame the gate. But ten years later, this entry is completely modified: the wings of the Commons now des Offices are ennobled at their ends by the construction of colonnades or porticos on which is aligned a new grid creating the Royal Court.


This forecourt presents its current appearance. It is now preceded by the Place d’Armes, on which the two French Guards and Swiss Guards have opened under the new ramps of the Avant-Cour. A new gate now called the grille d’honneur ( honor gate), flanked by two sentry boxes for the guards, comes to close it..The Secretaries of State pavilions are connected by main buildings, all of which constitute the ailes des Ministres or Ministers’ wings. Finally, two gatehouses, like those in the honor gate, are created for the Gardes de la porte (Door Guards on duty) at the gate of the Royal Court.


In 1772-1774, the construction of the pavillon Gabriel which removed one of the two porticoes from the old ailes des Offices wings; in 1794, the destruction of the gate of the Royal Court and its sentry boxes; finally, in 1814-1820, the removal of the second portico and the construction of the pavillon Dufour. From the outset, France’s victories over the enemy powers is illustrated by the two groups in the first grid; it brings peace and abundance, themes figured by the groups that framed the second entrance. Some of these with year are 1662. Decoration of the pillars of the gate and the guard pavilions closing the new lower courtyard. 1671. First decoration of the Secretaries of State pavilions. 1672-1673. Sculpture of the twelve figures of the porticoes of the ailes Des Offices wings. 1680-1682. Sculpture of the entrance to the guardhouses under the ramps. Realization and installation of the four groups above the gatehouses of the Avant-cour and the Royal Court; decor of the fountains on the ramps; decoration of the dormer windows of the Ailes des Ministres and enrichment of the decoration of the Secretaries of State pavilions. Between 1771 and 1826; decorations of the Gabriel and Dufour pavilions.


Some of the details which will be too long for a post actually can create a blog just on them are:

Above the sentry boxes framing the grille d’honneur you see the allegories of Victory honor grid in the guise of a winged woman brandishing a laurel wreath and slaying a male figure, accompanied by various attributes, weapons trophies and emblems. On pedestals at the top of the ramps of the Allegories of Peace and Abundance forecourt, each depicted as a woman with various attributes, accompanied by winged children and defeating a figure of an old woman, a symbol discord for one and starvation for the other. The bronze relief console with scrolls and grooves decorated with a newt mask from above and freezing on the plinth. The Crown surmounted by a fleur-de-lys and supported by griffins’ legs. Globe with the figure of the King surmounted by the mask of Apollo irradiated and accosted by two horns of plenty.


From the small castle built for king Louis XIII in 1624 to 1630 remain the wonderful Cour de Marbre and its architecture of brick, stone and slate. Preserved, or more exactly reconstructed identically over time, the three facades that frame the Cour de Marbre were very early decorated between 1663 and 1665, in the two angles they form, with small cabinets on horn and the floor and fountains on the lower level; in 1671-1672 aviaries were placed in front of corner cabinets and a third fountain adorned the center of the courtyard. All this disappeared in 1678-1680 in favor of a more monumental party aiming to further ennoble the facades: the main facade, at the end of the courtyard, was enriched by a higher body than the rest of the buildings, while the attic is adorned with railings that run along the two courtyards.


The buildings that line the Royal Court today have undergone more transformations than those of the Cour de Marbre: in 1662, Louis Le Vau built the two wings of the Commons (stables and kitchens) in the style of the old castle. Ten years later ,1670-1672, they became the Ailes des Offices; they are then connected to the palace by the construction of two bodies of buildings which extend them with a step; at their ends, they are decorated with porticos aligned with the grid which delimits the new Royal Court. In 1680, when the offices are installed in the Grand Commun, the architecture of the two wings divided into apartments,are again modified in order to be more in harmony with that of the buildings of the cour de Marbre: the attic is raised and bordered by a balustrade, the end pavilions are topped with a lantern.

But this unity was broken when Gabriel reconstructed between 1771 and 1774 the north wing which was called the aile du Gouvernement wing (it housed the accommodation of the governor of Versailles) in the neoclassical style. As this Gabriel wing was called the new wing, the symmetrical wing takes the name of old wing. It was in turn altered when Dufour rebuilt the main pavilion Dufour using the architecture of Gabriel. Finally, among the works carried out under the direction of F. Nepveu for the creation of the Louis-Philippe museum, (the king of the French who save Versailles) see the construction of a lantern in the southwest corner of the Royal Court, which will disappear in 1897.

It’s awesome , so much architecture details and history , always amazes me anyway.  A bit of a tourist office of Versailles on the building of this marvel in English here: Tourist office of Versailles on construction history

The Palace:museum is huge( and the Domaine is out of this world)  and very much a must to see in Versailles . However, remember Versailles is the royal historical town of France, there is a lot more than the palace/museum… Enjoy the post as I do!!!

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

March 25, 2020

The Gentlemen from Paris, Havana!

And here is a nice story of my lointime Cuba. This was very popular and all our grandparents told us stories of him. One of the souvenirs is that I actually saw him in Havana before leaving long ago. It’s about time I write about him in my blog.

Therefore, this is story of the Gentlemen from Paris or El Caballero de Paris.

The story goes that José María López Lledín was an elegant vagabond known as El Caballero de París (The Gentleman From Paris) who wandered the streets of  La Habana (Havana) and was a well-known cult figure in the city. According to the birth certificate issued by the district court of Fonsagrada  in Lugo, province of Galicia, in Spain , López Lledín was born in the village of Vilaseca, located near the Asturian border and the Eo river.  The fourth of eleven children, was born on 30 December, 1899 in Vilaseca, in the Municipality of Fonsagrada, Province of Lugo, Galicia. As many in Cuba came from this region of Spain.

Traveling in the German passenger ship S.S. Cheminitz, he arrived in Havana at twelve years of age on 12 December, 1913. His mother was Josefa Lledín Mendes and his father was Manuel Lopez Rodriguez; the owners of a small vineyard, they produced and sold wine and Sherry. He was baptized in the Parish of Salvador de Negueira.

According to his sister Inocencia, he worked as a tailor and in a bookshop. Later he worked as a waiter in the hotels Inglaterra, Telegrafo, Sevilla, Manhattan, Royal Palm and Saratoga. There are many stories as to why he lost his mental sanity but all of them converge on the fact that he was imprisoned in the Castillo del Principe ( Prince’s castle, used many times as a prison) in 1920 for a crime he did not commit.

El Caballero de París was a cult figure in Havana in the 40s and 50s. He was of medium height, disheveled hair with some gray hair and a beard. He always wore black, with a long coat of the same color, even during the summer. He used to carry a folder full of papers. He was a gentle and educated man who roamed the streets and traveled by bus all over the city, greeting people and discussing philosophy, religion and politics. He never asked for alms or said bad words, he only accepted money from people he knew or liked.

He could regularly be found in the Paseo del Prado; the Avenida del Puerto; in a park near the Plaza de Armas; near the Church Iglesia de Paula; in the Parque Central, where he sometimes slept on one of the benches; in Calle Muralla street; near streets Infanta and San Lazaro; and in the corner of 23rd and 12th streets in El Vedado.  It is remembered seeing him walking along the central path of the Fifth Avenue (5th ave) in Miramar, where he usually was in the afternoons. I am not sure but i believe i saw him by the Parque Central.

He was late in life diagnosed as suffering from Paraphrenia, a late-onset mental disorder featuring such symptoms as delusions and hallucinations; it does not have any negative symptoms such as the deterioration of the intellect or of the personality.

You can listen in Spanish a popular song created by a popular singer of the times Barbarito Diez, call El Caballero de Paris, video still available in youtube here


There is a statue to perpetuated his presence in bronze, so that his figure will wander forever in the streets of Havana.  Where I have a souvenir photo from 2012 here


This illustrious man was a permanent presence in the city which, from the decade of the 20s of the last century and until 1977, saw him wandering through its streets. He died on July 11, 1985 at Mazorra psychiatric hospital atage of 86. He was initially buried in the cemetery of Santiago de las Vegas in Habana province. His remains were later exhumed by the Historian of the City of La Habana, and transfered to the convent of San Francisco de Asis (now a concert hall and museum), his current resting place.

After the Communist Cuban revolution, the brothers and sisters left Cuba and only El Caballero de Paris was left behind. Three of his brothers had descendants, some now living in Chicago and others in Asturias, Spain. The only surviving sister of El Caballero de Paris, Mercedes, was living in Spain,was last read 91 years old , and in perfect mental and physical health.

No official webpage for him but there are many private efforts on the web; i just will put one here CiberCuba in Spanish; CiberCuba on El Caballero de Paris

Hope you enjoy this unique anecdote of Havana and do look out for him if going there. Hope it helps find him. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


March 25, 2020

A courthouse at Daytona Beach!

So in these times of worries I am home and reminicent of past places in my life that have some personal meaning. Hard to go back as pictures are rare, those were the crazy days where picture taking was not in my mind. Times change and now I am fully especially since starting my blog back in November 2010. And I thank you for following me along all these years.

Let me tell you a bit more on a courthouse, not just any courthouse mind you, but the one I was married in Daytona Beach, Florida, USA. I have mentioned it briefly but feels needs a post of its own, so here it is.

While traveling met a young French girl (Martine) working in Paris living in Meaux Seine-et-Marne dept 77 ïle de France region in 1989. This was quickly followed by visits to her family and hers to mine and before I knew it, this independent young men was married on December 26, 1990 at City Island municipal courthouse in Daytona Beach, deciding to live there. We went all over together, visiting France every year and moving in the State from Daytona Beach to Ormond Beach (together) in Volusia County, then North Miami, then Hialeah,in Miami-Dade county, then Miramar in Broward county (while here became French at the French consulate in Miami in 2000) before moving permanently to France in August 23, 2003. We had 3 wonderful boys, one older (born in Daytona Beach Halifax Hospital) and then identical twins,(born in Hialeah at Hialeah Hospital). The wonderful trip ended with my dear late wife Martine passsing due to cancer here in the Morbihan Breton on April 30 2018, sad and still sad and will always be sad, there is no words. My blog posts sooths the pain a bit.Thanks for sharing.

daytona beach

Daytona beach

That is the happy and sad story. Now for the spot itself City Island is a wonderful place to visit while in the area. Here is more

City Island, Daytona Beach, is an island in the Halifax River ,a section of the Intracoastal Waterway between mainland Florida and the barrier islands/outer banks. Buildings on the island include the Daytona Tortugas’ Jackie Robinson Ballpark, the city’s courthouse annex, and the main branch of the Volusia County Library.

The area is ,also, a great spot to relax there in the wonderful City Island Park which is an island hub in a waterway from the mainland. In its immediate vicinity are facilities such as Jackie Robinson Ballpark, the City Island Tennis Center, City Island Recreation Center, and the Daytona Beach Regional LibraryCity Island. Enjoy this park’s water access by fishing or simply relaxing on shore or in one of the many covered pavilions that extend into the water. It has a fishing pier with a large pavilion at the end, pavilions, grills, playground, ample parking and restrooms.   There is also here the Downtown Farmers’ Market held every Saturday with all kinds of local vegetables, fruits, plants and specialties. Open from 7h to 12h.

The Daytona Beach Regional Library , location at 105 E Magnolia Ave ; official webpage here:  Volusia County Libraries on City Island

The Daytona Tortugas are a minor league baseball team based in Daytona Beach. The team plays in the Florida State League (FSL). They are the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball. The team plays at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. Webpage here:

The Jackie Robinson Stadium is a historic baseball field It is located at 105 East Orange Avenue on City Island, in the Halifax River. It opened in 1914!. One reason the stadium is named for Jackie Robinson is the fact that Daytona Beach was the first Florida city to allow Robinson (Black player) to play during the 1946 season’s spring training. Robinson was playing for the Triple-A Montreal Royals, who were in Florida to play an exhibition game against their parent club, the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Bethune–Cookman University (B–CU) is a private historically black university who played its baseball games at the stadium now. The DB webpage on the stadium here:

However, for me as above, the most important building there is the Daytona Beach Volusia County Courthouse annex, City Island located at 125 E. Orange Ave. This is where I was married with my dear Frenchie Martine on December 26 1990. A wonderful date always to be remembered .. As this is an annex alternative location to serve the citizens of the beachside, the main building is mainland in Deland here:

Daytona Beach

Credit:Volusia County Courthouse City Island Daytona Beach

A bit of history I like

The Halifax River is part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, passing by Daytona Beach, and around City Island; but ,also, Ormond Beach, Ormond by the Sea, Holly Hill, Port Orange, South Daytona, Daytona Beach Shores, and Ponce Inlet. All memorable towns for me too.. The waterway was originally known as the North Mosquito River, but was renamed after George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax (for whom Halifax, Canada is also named), during the British occupation of Florida (1763–1784). The Halifax River originates at Tomoka Bay, at the confluence of the Tomoka River, Bulow Creek, and Halifax Creek, adjoining Tomoka State Park. All very nice places of my younger life always fondly remember. This river Halifax or the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway ( a defense perimeter done by US Defense) has several bridges passing it. These are north to south, Granada Bridge, Seabreeze, Main Street, Broadway, Veterans Memorial (passing city island); and Port Orange Causeway. Webpage of Tomoka State Park as the picture below: Florida State parks on Tomoka park

Ormond Beach

City Island is an urbanized area, resembling any small Florida city. The animal life on the island are typical of such an environment: squirrels, rabbits, abundant green and brown anole lizards, occasional raccoons and skunk, as well as a large population of doves and pigeons. The real diversity of wildlife on and around City Island are birds, especially aquatic species. There are many varieties of duck; mallards, clue-winged teal, and cormorants. American white ibis are common, as are brown pelicans, snowy egrets, great blue herons, great white egrets, and several types of gull. An occasional bald eagle or red-shouldered hawk can be seen overhead. Indeed a wonderful place to spent some time while in the Daytona Beach area, recommended!

The city of Daytona Beach on facilities, chose maps and zoom in on City Island: City of Daytona Beach on Facilities parks

Tourist office of Daytona Beach on things to do : Tourist office of Daytona Beach on things to do

The  Volusia County on tourism boards : Volusia county on tourist boards

The State of Florida tourist board on Daytona Beach: Tourist office of Florida on Daytona Beach

There you go a nice memorable dot on my world map, City Island Daytona Beach, never forgotten always remember. Thank you very much for reading and sharing with me.

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

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