Archive for April, 2020

April 30, 2020

Saint Jean de Luz, the French basque town!

I have heard of the history and the story of course part of my history too. However, with so much to see, not been down here. Then ,one day we were with the families on the beaches of the Médoc and looking for something else to see I came up with the idea of visiting this town. Well the rest is history and we have been again to Saint Jean de Luz . Let me tell you a bit about this historical town of France and Spain, at least.

From the Paris always base the trip is long but easy ; you get here from Paris by the A10 then switch to the local D810 (old N10 road) ,before reaching the autoroute A63 ,you exit sortie 3 or 2. We took it by car from Lacanau-Océan the first time and from Versailles the second; and parked both times at Blvd Victor Hugo city center . The train from Paris is to the  gare de Saint-Jean-de-Luz-Ciboure at Place Verdun,on the line from Bordeaux -Irun at the limits of the towns,it has direct connection from Paris Montparnasse station, I never came here by train sorry.

The town can be seen on foot, however in summer when we went there is a free bus service  Hegobus around city center, which is fun to take with kids ,best line 43. Hegobus webpage in English here:  Public transports bus Saint Jean de Luz

A very brief history to set the stage for Saint Jean de Luz. It has been tried to bring back into the kingdom of France since Charlemagne days; after he attacked Pamplona in Navarra, they reposted with an ambush at Roncevalles or Roncevaux in French, they were known first as the Vascons established in present day Navarra, and were set back from the 6C north of the Pyrennées, then the area of Gascogne ( current days covering departments of the Landes, Gers, Hautes-Pyrénées and, in part, other departments of the regions of Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie, as well as the villages of the valley or Val d’Aran, north of the autonomous community of Catalonia ,Spain)  . They started with a dynasty as the kings of Pamplona until Sancho VI takes the title of king of Navarra from 1178. It had French connection because Sancho VII died without heirs, and the kingdom passes to his nephew Count Thibaud de Champagne. After many wars the peace is achieved in the region by the edit of Union in 1620 signed by king Louis XIII when the kings of France become automatically kings of Navarra as well with the confirmation of the treaty of the Pyrenées in 1659 due to the union of king Louix XIV and Infanta Maria Theresa of Spain. The frontiers and the repartition has remained intact to our days.

saint jean de luz

The Basque language is unique and rare, it is part of the finno ourgriennes language of Europe (Finland,Estonia, and Hungary) the only non indo european languages in the old continent, and habit to name it the oldest languages in the continent. They are many hypothesis as to the origin of the language too many to include on this presentation, needless to say nothing is sure of its origins. In France the integration into the national spheres is much more subtle and peaceful, than in Spain.

The city of Saint Jean de Luz, is best known for the treaty of the Pyrenées of 1659. A political marriage of king Louis XIV with the Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain, the king arrives in town the 8 may 1660 and the 9 june joint the Infanta at her house the maison Lohobiague, where a parade takes places led by Cardinal Mazarin of France.  The service is done by bishop Olce of Bayonne for a duration of 3 hours. The door by which the couple leaves was sealed forever. And this is the main reason I came here as an amateur historian and lover of architecture in my belle France.  You go by the port area and see the Maison de l’Infanta or Maison Haraneder (where Maria Teresa stayed) with beautiful paintings of the school of Fontainebleau, now a private property,but visits arranged. The Maison Louis XIV or maison Lohobiague (where the king stayed) is of old basque design typical mariner deco, from the second floor beautiful views of the Pyrenées too. The Church St Jean Baptiste, richly decorated inside if outside is a bit dull,  this is where the marriage took place!  This was tops , worth the detour alone!

king Louis XIV came here to married Maria Teresa of Austria , infanta of Spain (daughter of the king of Spain, Felipe IV)on June 9 1660. The door of the church of St John the Baptist or Saint-Jean-Baptiste, from which the royal couple went out was closed 3 years after the wedding, even if the sign on the door tells of the closing immediately after the wedding according to French history school book. Her 6 children died early except one, but the grandson Felipe V born at Versailles later became King of Spain in 1700, and it is the Bourbon dynasty still running in Spain today. Felipe V ,also built La Granja de San Ildefonso , near Segovia, to look as a miniature Versailles as a reminder of his birth and time there.

However, much less on the Infanta… She stayed at the house or Maison de l’Infante-Joanoenia ,located at 1 rue de l’Infanta in town. Built in 1640 by Joannot de Haraneder,a rich boat builder of noble titles given by king Louis XIII for his services in the siege of La Rochelle. The Infanta lived here while the marriage ceremonies were going on in June 1660. The house ,also hosted king Felipe V of Spain and his brothers in 1701, as well as emperor Napoleon III and the emperatrice Eugénie in 1854. She of course Spanish Montijo from Belmonte Castilla La Mancha where I have visited the castle still in descendants hands and open to the public. You can visit the bedroom of the Infanta, the anteroom of the great hall with a decoration of the 17C, the monumental chimney in sculpture stones, heads of angels, richly sculpture beams decorated with mythical figures, fabolous monsters, exotic fruits and celestial constellations. The oratory along this grand hall has a great view over the harbor or Port et la Rhune

saint jean de luz

saint jean de luz

Some other things to see around town are at least my favorites are the port/harbor area with colorful boats of fisherman and a beautiful view ahead of the Pyrenées mountains.  Of course, in summer the best attraction could be the beach at Grand Plage in city center right walking from it! ideal for families as it is protected by dikes so no big waves! We do lots of travel by car to the city, many times stopping by here, and the one time we stayed longer we use the Hotel de la Plage in summer time, great views convenient to all, and great friendly service ,right at Grande Plage with fantastic views and central to all: for reference webpage here: Official Hotel de la Plage St Jean de Luz

For shopping in Saint Jean de Luz, you have the Les Halles located at Blvd Victor Hugo (right off the underground parking I use) you will have all the local products all year and every morning! Around the Halles ,every tuesday and friday morning you have an outdoor marché as well as saturday mornings in july and august  with plenty of produce veggies, fruits, meats of local producers, especially the cheese of brebis basque especialty.  As far as eating, we do a lot of tapas standing Spanish style or basque as you wish.  It is the traditional way and less expensive too as you do not take a table. However for sitting around place Louis XIV there is Bar La Baleine, for snacks and ice creams is great with kids like me. by the Halles area standing is best with ciders and tapas(try the Chipirons, little calamars or pulps)  is Restaurant Kako Etxea or Chez Kako,18 rue Harispe, place des halles. For seafood at its best try the La Txalupa, place des Corsaires, terrace on the place Louis XIV that goes to port area. Brasserie café Le Suisse / Le P’tit Suisse place Louis XIV, great friendly service, the kids favorite, lots of goodies ncluding ice cream lol! they made the waiter work for the tips::) but he was very good indeed.

There are nice close towns to see like Ciboure with is church of St Vincent 16C, and the native house of Maurice Ravel ,composer of famous Bolero No 27,  Chateau d’Urtubie built with ok of king Edward III of England in 1341. The corniche or cliff hanging road before reaching the port of Saint Jean de Luz at Socoa is marvelous if by car visit ,built by king Henri IV and renovated by Vauban. We took the ride on the corniche superbe!

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The tourist office of Saint Jean de Luz in English: Tourist office of Saint Jean de Luz

The city of Saint Jean de Luz in French: City of Saint Jean de Luz on tourism

The tourist office of departement 64 Pyrénées-Atlantiques on Maison Louis XIV in French: Tourist office dept 64 on Maison Louis XIV

The tourist office of departement 64 Pyrénées -Atlantiques on the Church St Jean Baptiste in French: Tourist office dep 64 on Ch St Jean Baptiste

There you go a bit of space of my beloved France and Spain in basque country to boot! This is a vast territory call Euskadi as in Basque country or pays basque covering the two countries and worth the detour indeed, especially Saint Jean de Luz!

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

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April 30, 2020

Dolmen of Mané Kerioned!!

Well been a while not written up on my beloved Bretagne or Brittany or Breizh! There is so much architecture and history here enough for a blog on its own! Let me go down a bit to the beaches of the Morbihan but especifically to a Unesco World Heritage site in Carnac. However, just before there is something more and I like to tell you a bit on the Dolmen of Mané Kerioned!

I have written on the megaliths stones before but not much on this one which deserves attention and it is very close to me. Hope you enjoy it as we do

We passed by it every time to the beaches but have stop here for a bit of history. The dolmen of Mané Kerioned on the D768 road between Auray and Plouharnel, on our way to Carnac . The stones here dates from more than 3500 years BC. Its a group of 2 dolmen stones standing side by side facing South, and a third one facing them; the longest one you need to kneeled but it is 10 meters long below the surface. It has several engraving hard to decipher even today, these were burial chambers….impressive!!. They are in the town’s limits of Carnac but they are really closer to Plouharnel, just before entering the peninsula of Quiberon.


In the past, these dolmens were covered with a cairn, a mound of stones and earth which has partially subsided. The arrangement of the three tombs forms a whole unique in Brittany: two dolmens are open towards the South and perpendicular to the third which is placed in the center. The largest is below ground level and can go unnoticed by dazed visitors. It is certainly the most interesting. Its total length is around 10 meters. You can clearly see the corridor of the trapezoidal chamber and the decorations engraved in the pillars. This style of parietal engravings resembles the patterns observed on the back of the cover slab of the large dolmen of the Table des Marchand de Locmariaquer (see post). There are tangles of rectangles that look like labyrinths and wavy lines like snakes.  Six of the 27 pillars are decorated with these patterns: Engravings at the level of the room, slab in escutcheon, engravings in the pillars of the corridor, and engravings near the entrance. It is freely accessible although it is located on private land.


The dolmen underground it is good idea to bring a flashlight to fully see the engravings within this tomb, there are many finely carved stones, with unusual chequerboard designs on them, as well as some more standard serpents and axes.


Kerioned means Korrigans, these little goblins or leprechauns would therefore inhabit the dolmens. The mound measures approximately forty meters in diameter and is delimited by four small menhirs. It must certainly have been completely surrounded by a quadrilateral of menhirs. Part of the mound was removed during the creation of the D768 road, and another part was destroyed during excavations in 1866. The dolmen located today in the center of the site, must also have been in the center of the mound and therefore must to be the oldest of the three. The dolmen to the west is nine meters long. The orthostats composing it rise and form the steps of a staircase towards the north. It still has four tables. Eight of the orthostats of the underground dolmen carry engravings on their surface. Only its tables are visible from the surface. Superbe!


To find out more about these megaliths visit the Maison des Mégalithes at Carnac, here it is in English: Maison des Megalithes practical info

The tourist office of Carnac has some info on the Mané Kerioned in English: Tourist office of Carnac on Mane Kerioned

And a bit on the location of the Dolmen of Mané Kerioned from the city of Carnac in French: City of Carnac on the mané kerioned

And there you go another wonder of our world very easy accessable from the expressway N165 to the D768 direction Carnac and right in front of the bowling alley on your right coming from Auray are the dolmens!  The dolmen of Mané Kerioned ,a wonder of our world indeed, go see it

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

April 29, 2020

Some news from France, CCCV

And why not my other love in our world, my current adopted country of my belle France. This is a special post due to the current world situation on the wuhan virus and the need to keep abreast of the information. So therefore, this is a post concerning only France.

And why not start with that wonderful Tour de France bike race which has been re arranged but is on!  The tour de France re schedule for Augsut 29 start in Nice will continue as even if the Prime Minister of France had indicated no major event before September 2020. The tour will be set up to avoid crowds as well. However, the biggest challenge will be to run a Tour without any pre races like the Dauphiné, and riders will be up for a big test.

Official tour de France in English here: Le Tour de France

And now the covid19 information about the situation in France and the slow coming out from it. The goal is for September but all is depending on how the measurements and the virus behave from May 11th 2020.

The de confinement rules will be different depending on the health situation of each department as place on RED or GREEN (this will be decided by May 11). The authorities will use three indicators to decide: the number of people infected in the past seven days; tension in hospital or intensive care units; the ability to perform tests and detect chains of contamination. According to the Prime Minister, the situation will be clearer on May 7 and will make it possible to decide whether to come out of the confinement on May 11.

By May 11: According to a principle of trust and responsibility, there will be no certification or control for the elderly, but visits and outings must be surrounded by precaution. Groups will be limited to 15 students, welcomed in schools or extracurricular premises, with respect for barrier gestures, and provision of hydro alcoholic gel. Masks will be prohibited in kindergarten, not recommended in elementary school, except in special cases (symptoms detected). All teachers and supervisors must wear them. Daycare center or Crêches: They will welcome groups of up to 10 children. Priority will be given to children from single-parent families, caring or teaching parents, or parents both unable to telecommute. Masks will be mandatory for supervisors, not for children.

Metro, buses and trams were severely limited during containment. They should retain reduced capacity. Only one seat out of two will be accessible and a flow limitation must be implemented if necessary. During rush hour, transportation could be reserved for working people (with possible control). School Buses The wearing of a mask will be compulsory for drivers and middle school students. Only one seat out of two will be filled. Taxis and VTC Wearing a mask will be compulsory if the vehicle does not have Plexiglas protection.

The offer of mainline trains will always be reduced, reservations will be compulsory on all trains, TGV or not. They will remain limited to compelling professional and family motives. A certificate will be required for trips of more than 100 km. Public or private gatherings: They will be authorized but limited to 10 people. Individual sports activity – cycling, running, etc. – will again be possible outside beyond the 1 km limit. The rules of physical distance must continue to be respected. Team or contact sports will always be prohibited, as well as indoor sports

Unlike large museums, small museums and libraries will be able to reopen because they can operate more easily while respecting sanitary rules, explained the Prime Minister. The cemeteries are scheduled to reopen on May 11. The number of people allowed to attend funeral ceremonies will continue to be limited to twenty, even after May 11.   Reopening of parks and gardens will depend on the dynamics of contamination in the department.

With the exception of cafes, bars and restaurants, all shops are allowed to reopen. However, they will have to set up a limitation of the number of customers and a flow management to respect a minimum distance. The wearing of a mask will be recommended: shops may prohibit access to customers without a mask. Prohibited during confinement, they may reopen, except as decided by the prefect, depending on the configuration of the premises.

To avoid moving beyond the living area, the prefects may decide not to let open, beyond the food sections already open, shopping centers of more than 40,000 m2, which risk causing such population movements. Teleworking should continue wherever possible. Oh yeah won’t see my boss lol !! Positive people will have the choice between isolating themselves at home (which places the whole household in the fortnight) or isolating themselves in a requisitioned hotel. The objective of this strategy is to break the chains of transmission. There will be “checks if they should be necessary, but this system is based first and foremost on good citizenship. “Brigades” will be created in each department in order to identify and test the contact cases of a patient positive for SARS-CoV-2. The tests will be fully covered by the health social system CPAM.

From April 30, an e-commerce platform will be set up by La Poste (post office) to distribute several million masks to the general public every week. In addition, the State will bear 50% of the cost of orders made by local authorities. The government has set itself the objective of carrying out at least 700,000 virological tests per week by May 11. This figure corresponds to the “1,000 to 3,000” new daily cases planned by the scientific council, multiplied by the 20 to 25 people who encountered them on average in the previous days.

By May 12 When teleworking is not possible, staggered hours are encouraged. Wearing a mask is mandatory when distance is not guaranteed. Guides by profession will be developed: 33 are available, it takes about 60 to cover all sectors.

From May 18, middle schools will be able to reopen starting with the sixth and fifth grade classes in the French system . The masks will be compulsory and provided to students who do not have them.

Not before June 2: High schools will not reopen before June 2. Vocational high schools or Lycée Pro should be the first to welcome students again. Depending on the health situation, the government will decide to reopen the major museums from June 2. They will remain closed until then. And depending on the health situation, the government will decide to reopen the multipurpose halls. They will remain closed until then. Places of worship will remain open, but the government is asking religious organizations not to hold ceremonies until June 2. Sports other than individual and outdoor will remain prohibited. And depending on the health situation, the government will decide to reopen these closed cultural places, where spectators stay for a long time, from June 2. They will remain closed until then. As a precautionary measure, frequenting the beaches will remain prohibited until at least June 2. They will remain closed at least until June 2, but their reopening remains unlikely on June 15, had already said Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy.

Not before September: Sports events are prohibited until September. The 2019-2020 season of professional sport, especially that of football/soccer!!!, will not be able to resume either, according to Edouard Philippe. All festivals, major cultural events, fairs, etc. who were subject to prefectural authorization will be prohibited, at least until September. The city/town halls will continue to offer, except in emergencies, a postponement of marriages.

The above information was gathered from various sources including the Bretagne cover newspaper Ouest France and Telegramme as well as le Monde, Le Parisien and le Figaro. 

The Ouest France is here in French: Ouest France newspaper on covid19

Le Telegramme on the covid19 in Bretagne, if continue the trend we should be in GREEN by May 11th: Le Telegramme newspaper on Bretagne

And the Worldometer/coronavirus in English on the situation in France (on latest update you go to official French govt source that feeds worldometer) : Worldometer Coronvirus on France

And there you reporting live from my belle France! We should be out as we haver been throughout our history, allez les Bleus!!! Wishing all the best, stay safe hold on we shall overcome.

And remember, happy travels, (yes we will), good health, (stay safe at home), and many cheers to all(better to tell us that later)!!

April 29, 2020

Some news from Spain XC

So are we getting some news as when we will get out of the wuhan virus I like to give you some updates on my regular series Some news from Spain. This is concerning only Spain.

First, something we have always keep track of and visited while going on many times over the years, La Vuelta!

The organization of La Vuelta bike race of Spain, in agreement with the UCI (International Cycling Union), agreed to postpone the 75th edition of the race. The Vuelta was originally to be held between August 14 and September 6, departing from the Netherlands. However, the forced reorganization of the annual cycling calendar, following the world health crisis caused by COVID-19, has forced a change in plans. The Vuelta 2020 will be held in autumn, on dates yet to be determined, it will have 18 stages and will start in the Basque Country. The start the Spanish round with the Irun – Arrate stage. Eibar in the reorganization of the calendar with the exceptional variable of a 20-day Tour and not with the 23 initially planned. The 75th edition of La Vuelta will be marked as a historic race in many ways. It will be the first time in the last 35 years that it has less than 21 stages. The last time this circumstance occurred was in 1985, in an edition that had 19 stages. Likewise, for the first time since Unipublic took over the race in 1979, La Vuelta will start in the Basque Country. The Basque Country had spent almost five decades without hosting a first stage of the race. In 1961, La Vuelta started in San Sebastián, with a team time trial with a start and finish in the city of San Sebastián.

More in official webpage in English:  Official La Vuelta cycling event of Spain

And now updates on what is coming up from the government sources on the wuhan virus or covid-19 as it relates to Spain.

It will go as Fase 0 or Phase 0, preparation and which begins on May 4, includes the opening of small shops, which include bookstores and archives, and which may go back to their own activity with the security and prevention measures dictated by healing for this initial phase. From May 4 you can open the retail trade and the bars and restaurants prepare food to pickup or take hom. But it will be on May 11 when the first phase of this process of return of economic activity will begin.

In Fase 1 or Phase 1, the Libraries (lending and reading with limited capacity). Cultural acts and shows of less than 30 people in closed places (with 1/3 of capacity). Outdoor cultural acts and shows of less than 200 people (as long as you are sitting and keeping the necessary distance). Museums (visits only, not cultural activities) 1/3 capacity with control of crowds in rooms. Active and nature tourism for limited groups of people. Audiovisual production and film and series filming will also resume.

Cinemas, theaters and auditoriums will be able to reopen their doors, reducing their capacity to a third, in phase 2 of the de-escalation process (which would take at least four weeks), which has four stages and will be completed by the end of June, as announced by the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez.

In Fase 2 or Phase 2 :the activity will return, with controlled and reduced capacity for cinemas, theaters, auditoriums and similar spaces (with pre-assigned seats) with a capacity limit of 1/3. Monuments and other cultural facilities (visits only; no cultural activities) 1/3 capacity. Exhibition rooms, conference rooms and multipurpose rooms 1/3 capacity, with agglomeration control. Cultural acts and shows of less than 50 people in closed places (1/3 of capacity). Outdoor cultural and leisure events and performances for less than 400 people (as long as they are seated and keep the necessary distance). Active and nature tourism for larger groups of people.

In Fase 3 or Phase 3 the de-escalation will continue with the activities with 1/3 capacity in phase II, they can go to 1/2 capacity in this phase. Performing and musical arts rooms with a capacity limit of 1/3. Cultural acts and shows of less than 80 people in closed places (1/3 of capacity). This phase, there is the bullfighting exception. Squares, venues and bullfighting facilities with a capacity limitation that guarantees one person for every 9 m2. It is also necessary to include in its reopening cultural acts and shows, theme parks and outdoor leisure of less than 800 people (as long as it is seated and keeping the necessary distance). And active and nature tourism. In addition to beaches, in conditions of safety and distance.

The source for most was the leading newspapers in Spain ABC, El Mundo and El Pais. The latter is here in Spanish: El Pais on regulations for covid19

The map of covid19 in the comunidad de Madrid by towns in Spanish from the newspaper ABC: ABC covid19 by district of Madrid

Gathered information on the virus from the Worldometer/coronavirus  in English on Spain (You can go to source and see it by regions): Worldometer Coronavirus counter Spain

We will get over this one as we have in the past. I am looking forward to the opportunity to return to my beloved Spain before year’s end 2020. Wishing you stay at home and safe. Un abrazo

And remember, happy travels (it will come back), good health (stay safe), and many cheers to all (indeed)!!!

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April 29, 2020

The streets of Pau!

Believe it or not, one of my most precious moment is to walk the cities, towns and villages I have visited. Sure the monuments are seen and I am an amateur of architecture and history, but walking brings all that in much better. And once you are in town walking beats anything else. This is no different in one of my memorable cities of my belle France, Pau. Therefore, let me tell you something about some memorable streets of Pau. Hope you enjoy it and do walk it!!

The Place de la Déportation, a few steps from the Castle, is a pretty square in the pedestrian part of the city . Surrounded by old buildings, which give it all its charm, offers a superb view of the whole city below and is organized around a still running fountain which dates from 1620, at the time when it still housed the Navarre Palace. Today it has been renamed in memory of those who died during WWII. Several flower beds, brightening up the square, the start of the tour of the little train and a monument in memory of Louis Barthou. The benches were ideally placed there: the square overlooking the Boulevard des Pyrénées, you just have to sit down for a moment to enjoy the breathtaking view of the mountain. Observation which, for the most curious, can be supplemented by the binocular station which is right next to it. One of these typical places that makes the charm of Pau! And it has been said “Memories are our strengths. Never let memorable dates fade away. When the night tries to return, you have to light the big dates, as you light torches. » by Victor Hugo. « Les souvenirs sont nos forces.Ne laissons jamais s’effacer les anniversaires mémorables. Quand la nuit essaie de revenir, il faut allumer les grandes dates, comme on allume des flambeaux. »


The Place de Verdun is located in the city center of Pau. to the south, in a one-way direction west-east, is rue Antoine de Bayard. You descend by rue Corisande towards Place Gramont with its fountains and arcades. To the east is Rue de Liège, in a south-north direction in circulation. North of the square, Cours Camou has an east-west direction. Rue Michelet links the square to the Pau exhibition center. To the west is Rue du Maquis du Béarn, which runs alongside the sports grounds of the Bernadotte barracks. The square is cut in two by rue Ambroise Bordelongue.


The site of the present Place de Verdun was originally occupied by a vast, unsanitary swamp. Under the leadership of Henri d’Albret, this area became one of the royal gardens of the Château de Pau in the 16C. It was then called the Haute-Plante, on which were planted chestnuts, fruit trees, vines, flowers etc. The Haute-Plante hosted the most important cattle fair in Béarn until the end of the 19C. The Bernadotte barracks were completed in 1875 after work spread over almost 50 years, this was wanted during the Restoration to defend from Spain. The barracks could accommodate up to 5,000 men, making it one of the largest in France. The current Place de Verdun was then used as a field of practice and maneuvers. It welcomes arrivals from the Tour de France. And we have waited here for it with the family!


At the back, the statue represents three hairy men from the Great War (WWI). The plaques pay tribute to the victims of the various conflicts. One of them testifies to the presence of the 18th line infantry regiment alongside the Americans at the Battle of Yorktown during the War of Independence (USA). This statue is a gift made by Miss Alice Cushing in 1925 to symbolize the Franco-American friendship, the latter was resident in Pau and owner of the Villa Beverly (current Saint-Dominique school). The monument is cut in white stone, it is the work of the American sculptor Charles Ayton.

The Place Reine-Marguerite is the oldest square in Pau, it was built in 1590 by order of Catherine de Bourbon, sister of King Henri IV. The square plan, consists of 27 arches surmounted to the west by three-story buildings dating from the 18C and to the east by Art Deco style building dating from the 1940s. Built on three sides, it is open on rue du Maréchal Joffre. It is also accessible via rue de Foix. A fountain dating from the 19C takes place in the center of the square. On December 31, 1590, Catherine de Bourbon orders the construction of a new halle, on this occasion several houses will be acquired then demolished in order to create the site of said halles, which will be held in the open air for a little over twenty years. In 1619, after the acquisition of the last plots, a wooden halle on stone pillars will be built to cover the population of bad weather. This one, on two levels, accommodates the merchants on the ground floor and a printing works on the first floor. The current Rue de Foix was then opened at the same time to facilitate exchanges. In 1711, the land around the square was sold to neighboring owners. They will have to build at their expense and according to a pre-established architectural plan a series of arcades, in front of a gallery welcoming shops and stalls qualified at the time as hangars intended to later accommodate the rest of the halles . The plans for these hangars drawn up around 1730 have now disappeared. In 1751, after the completion of the hangars   (arcades and their galleries), the wooden halles is demolished and it is only at this time there and after many deliberations, that the owners will be authorized to build buildings above these arches. During the French revolution the square was used for public capital executions on the gallows or the wheel. In 1826, the construction of new hallse on the current Place Clemenceau reduced its frequentation until becoming a simple commercial square at the end of the 19C. It was renamed Place Reine-Marguerite in 1897 in honor of Queen Marguerite de Valois, wife of King Henri IV. The eastern part of the square was devastated by a fire in the 1940s, the arcades were removed in favor of a late Art Deco style building. In 1970, on the occasion of the construction of the Place de la République halles(see post), the city bought the eastern part of the square, and in a historical concern, decided to restore the arcades while preserving the modern building. The Place Reine Marguerite square, then a large parking lot, will then undergo a renovation and will be moved in and provided with a fountain on the site of an old well.


The Place Royale is the central point of the city, it is notably bordered by the City/Town hall of Pau, by the old Hôtel de France and by the Boulevard des Pyrénées. (where you can climb stairs to the square) .Commissioned by the States of Béarn, the Place Royale was fitted out in 1688, as in many other cities in France, to accommodate the statue of Louis XIV. The square also had a church who will be named Saint-Louis. This, which was in place of the current City Hall was started but will never be finished and the land will remain in ruins for several centuries. In 1793, the statue of Louis XIV was shot down during the French revolution. The square is now known as Place de l’Égalité, and a few years later, Place Bonaparte. The 19C will be that of the opening and the enlargement of the square, which then takes its current proportions following a decree of Napoleon Bonaparte which orders in 1808, during a passage in Pau, the destruction of the wall to reveal the view of the Pyrenees. In 1831, the pavillon des bains (bathhouse pavilion) was built below the square and in 1839 it was decided to cut down all the trees and replace them with rows of lime trees.


In 1843 at the request of king of the French, Louis-Philippe, a standing statue of King Henry IV was made out of Carrara marble. In 1854, the private ruins of the unfinished church were bought by a private company of shareholders. The building was provided with a casino, with its concert and game rooms and its large ballroom as well as the small Italian theater. A few years later, the town of Pau which had its eye on the building bought it in 1876 and settled there in 1878 (city hall) after some renovation work, judging its premises from the city hall of Place Clémenceau, too cramped.


Adjoining the emblematic Boulevard du Midi (current Boulevard des Pyrénées), it experienced an unprecedented boom in the 19C. Marked in particular by the construction of the Splendide Hôtel in 1861, the Hôtel de la Paix in 1863 where the ex-first lady Mary Todd Lincoln (wife of US pres Abraham Lincoln) settled from 1877 to 1880. The Hôtel de France was built from of 1868 then by its symmetry in 1901 and finally by the portico which connects them in 1910. The cercle Anglais or English circle club making the angle with the rue Louis Barthou in 1870 before becoming in 1900 the current Consulate of Spain. The Place Royale will be provided with its emblematic kiosk in 1887 and the small pavilion of the baths was transformed into a temporary casino in 1884 and will remain so until 1899 when it was transferred to the Palais d’hiver (winter palace) built the same year. This pavilion, which is now baptized the Pavilion of the Arts, was radically altered in 1907 in order to accommodate the funicular the following year and consequently to extend the surface of the square deemed to be too small on public holidays. Today it still remains an important square in Pau, which illustrates the harmony between the city and the exceptional character of the landscape facing it.

The Place Clemenceau is one of the central squares in Pau. It links the historic axis of rue Joffre to the east of the city. It is connected to the Boulevard des Pyrénées by the Palais des Pyrénées and the Boulevard d’Aragon.


Originally, the site was occupied by a set of religious buildings including the Notre-Dame-des-Morts Chapel, a cemetery, the Church and Convent Notre-Dame founded around 1616. At the beginning of the 19C, the Notre-Dame Church is very degraded, and a gendarmerie barracks will be installed in part of the building. The new halles was built in 1837 and was inaugurated the following year, also welcoming the services of the City/Town Hall before their move in 1876. The square was then also equipped with several hotels including the Henri IV Hotel ,(current Bourbon Hotel) as well as the Hôtel des Pyrénées. It also welcomed in 1908, the Galeries Moderne, subsequently Nouvelles Galeries then Galeries Lafayette. The new halles was dismantled from 1929 in order to be moved to the second halles, built in 1876, place des Écoles (now Place de la République). The space freed up then constitutes the current floor space of the square. The church was however spared and was dismantled stone by stone and reassembled between 1930 and 1932, left bank in the quarter of XIV Juillet under the name of Notre-Dame-Du-Bout-Du-Pont Church. The Palais des Pyrénées is built in the ocean liner style, a late version of the Art Deco movement, and it will be inaugurated on November 29, 1930. The Palais des Pyrénées will contain various shops such as a travel agency, furniture stores, cafes, a casino, mini golf and a car dealership. The concert hall hosts artists like Edith Piaf but also boxing fights with Marcel Cerdan. Between 1951 and 1958, the palace was largely altered. The dome placed in the center of the building as well as the covered colonnade below were destroyed in 1952, thus making it possible to clear the view of the Pyrenees from Place Clemenceau by means of a pedestrian crossing becoming Avenue de Lattre de Tassigny. In 2006, the town decided to completely renovate Place Clemenceau and the Palais des Pyrénées. An underground car park with 400 spaces is built and the square therefore becomes entirely pedestrian with the installation of a fountain and water jets. The Palais des Pyrénées is completely renovated to accommodate 16 commercial brands over 10,000m² and offices over 2,500m. At Place Clemenceau see the Le Carrousel Palois !


The official city of Pau on its history and heritage in French: City of Pau on history and heritage

The Tourist office of Pau on heritage in English: Tourist office Pau Pyrenees on heritage

And there you go now you can have a better view of the wonders and architecture/history of this wonderful city of the Pyrénées, Pau! We are very fond of it and many family trips that thankfully to this blog will remain for a long time with us. Hoping it helps you make it part of  your history too. Hope you have enjoy the post.

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

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April 28, 2020

Jardin Public at Honfleur!

There is so much to write here and writers did! or to see and painters painted it that I can have a blog on Honfleur. However, let me tell you about the little pieces that makes this the second most visited site in Normandy, and you know the first one.

The Public garden or Jardin Public is on Boulevard Charles V, Honfleur. Along the pier, you can go for a walk in the public garden, created in 1996, also called the Jardin Retrouvé or found garden for its romantic setting and its English style layout.


Beautiful garden, excellent for children with lots of games suitable for different ages, a sandpit and in summer a paddling pool that makes children happy. Very pleasant park, excellent for a short walk. We love it!

There is boat mooring before the ecluses. Visitors are moored on the visitors pontoon. Boats must moor as two side by side. Any other mooring than those mentioned above is subject to the port authority. In season, April to September you will be guided by one of our employees on the canoe (orange) to your mooring.

This is the tourist office of Honfleur on the Jardin Public in English: Tourist office of Honfleur on the Jardin Public


One event held at the Jardin Public we love as a family and came here often is the Salon Passionnément Jardin . The next is schedule for May 23 and 24, 2020 if allow under the new sanitary conditions. On the program for this 14th edition: 80 +- professionals from the world of the garden such as nurserymen, horticulturalists, landscapers, crafts, furniture, decoration, tools, etc.,will be here on workshops for budding gardeners, advice and know-how shared by enthusiasts and specialists, on-site catering.As well as take home plants. A colorful weekend to celebrate spring, where you can spend a pleasant time with family or friends.

This is the official webpage on the Salon Passionnément Jardin in French: Salon Passionnement Jardin




A garden continuous to the Jardin Public and a bit more into the Promenade de la Jetée, is the Jardin des Personnalités inaugurated in 2004.. Installed on an old mudflat of the estuary, this 10 hectare landscaped area offers a walk to discover garden boats in the center of which stand busts of personalities of the historical and cultural heritage of Honfleur among which the gifted children of the country, natives of the small city but also personalities who lived or stayed there, such as Claude Monet, Charles Baudelaire, etc. A wonderful place to admire these masters of the arts.

Ironically, the city of Honfleur does not have much at least in English on the Jardin Public; here is their page on gardens in French: City of Honfleur on gardens

Well at least I feel better to have it shown in my blog on a single post. These gardens were a source of nice walks with the family and once hook on the Passionnément Jardin we came every year. Honfleur is very sentimental for me and my family. Not to be shabby one of the best tourist destinations in my belle France ! Hope you enjoy the walk in the Jardin Public garden

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

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April 28, 2020

The Carousel of Honfleur!

Ok folks lets keep it Honfleur, a wonderful town, and very popular for good reasons. We love to come here ever since the early 90’s and then it became nostalgic and sentimental many souvenirs and waiting to get back as each year.

This is one of the sights you see first when you get to the vieux basin or old harbor in Honfleur and the nice building facing it is the city/town hall! There it is indeed for the young and old and young in you, the carousel or Carrousel de Honfleur.


Let me tell you a bit as not a favorite of the tourist office there.

The Honfleur carousel, well known to locals, has been installed every year since 1995 in front of the city/town hall. Its pretty wooden horses delight children but also adults, who traditionally gather around this merry-go-round. It is a copy of the carousels of the 1900s, made up of wooden horses.


The carousel is present from May to October in the city, before leaving to get a makeover during the winter.  The carousel is open every day from 10h to 19h30. Variable closing times in July and August: sometimes until 23h. Located at Place de la Mairie. A look at night too


For lack of brochures here is youtube video a bit old but rather nice on the  Carousel me think

There is one webpage need to tell you even if it is repeated from my previous posts on Honfleur. Hope it helps you plan your trip here which is a must for more than the carousel are

The tourist office of Honfleur on practical information in English: Tourist office of Honfleur practical information

And there you go by now an institution in the harbor area of Honfleur, good for the whole family; enjoy it as we do.

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

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April 28, 2020

Lavoir St Leonard at Honfleur

Well I think I have spoken enough on Honfleur, is a very sentimental town for me and going there since the early 90’s. Last year came back and this year still hopeful to go if things on travel becomes normal. This is as Norman as you can get in Normandie!

There is so much I have written on it in my blog, but there is always some that me think not written enough and they deserve more. Therefore, here is my take on the laundry or washhouses of Honfleur and especifically the Lavoir Saint Leonard.


Many towns/villages in France have a wash house or Lavoir, a small building often overlooked by its own residents. These buildings were generally built during the 19C to limit the risk of an epidemic. And of course, I just overlook telling you about the wash house here! Therefore, this is the brief story , hope you enjoy it as we do. We love to walk by here each time in town.


Nearby, the fountain and the washhouse are places conducive to relaxation, fed by the Saint Léonard spring, they remind us that Honfleur has its feet in the water! This district is home to the tourist office, media library and the St Leonard Church 12C (see post).


The economic boom required the creation of a fountain and a washhouse supplied by the Saint Léonard spring. Fed by the sources of the Vassal , it is the oldest washhouse in the city. It was restored in 1807. A stone still indicates these restoration today. At the bottom of the St Leonard Church on rue St Léonard.


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

City of Honfleur on wash houses in French: City of Honfleur on wash houses

Tourist office of Honfleur on the St Leonard district in English: Tourist office of Honfleur on St Leonard district

Tourist office of Normandy on things to see in Honfleur in English: Tourist office of Normandy on Honfleur

And there you go a nice monument still nicely well done standing and in a wonderful neighborhood to walk and marvel of the architecture of Honfleur. Hope you enjoy the walk by this Lavoir Saint Leonard.

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




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April 27, 2020

Docks Vauban at Le Havre!

Ok let me bring you back to an off the beaten path city , oh yeah you have heard of it but hardly notice maybe because of the story of been 90% destroyed during WWII! However, this is the spirit of Le Havre it is back and even noted by Unesco! You should give it a try as we had several times and we like it. Le Havre is in department 76 Seine-Maritime of the region of Normandie.

I have written several posts on its monuments but need to tell you about a popular spot for my family, of course shopping! And the malls , but this one with a historic background and architecturally stunning. The Docks Vauban! Let me tell you a bit on it ok.

le havre

The Vauban basin is located near the entrance to the city center, surrounded by the train station, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Vauban docks shopping center. It was built in 1840-1843 and at that time accommodated boats carrying coal. The Vauban basin is the first of the basins beyond the old ramparts to be built. Inaugurated in 1841 for its western part, it will be finished in 1843 for the eastern part. Two banks, two quays, Quai Colbert and Quai Frissard. It was the Quai Colbert which was the first to be activated. South of the basin, first known as Quai Vauban, it became Quai Frissard in 1886. Since 2012, part of the basin has been converted into a marina call Port Vauban. A floating pedestrian bridge (gateway) makes it possible to cross it and join the Vauban docks at the station. The basin is 800 meters long and 90 meters wide.

Started in 1846, the construction of warehouse docks spanned several years until 1884. These first docks in France were used to store goods in transit such as cotton, coffee and spices. They survived the bombings of WWII. The buildings have been rehabilitated and transformed. They are made of bricks, slates and cover glass. They welcome shops, restaurants, cafes and cinemas. The project involved refurbishing and extending 13 huge buildings (60 metres long, 25 metres wide and 12 metres high); their brick and timber structures support roof structures in timber or steel; they are linked together by courtyards and glass-roofed passageways, laid out in a regular pattern.   The main arcades are designed to accommodate a mixture of lifestyle shopping, restaurants and market stalls following such precedents as Covent Garden, London and Faneuil Market Boston. The new interventions are contemporary in design juxtaposed with the grandeur of the historic warehouses. The south side has the main restaurant frontage overlooking the new marina. The night zone, for its part, offers a 12-screen multiplex cinema, a bar, restaurants, terrace cafés etc.There are also two new car parks, with car elevator/lifts, providing 1,094 parking spaces.

The shopping and leisure center Docks Vauban mall form part of larger mixed-use development which combine housing, workplaces, leisure complexe and cultural centre. It hosts Le Havre’s first branches of H&M, Saturn, La Grande Récré, G Star, Quiksilver, Levi’s, Du Pareil au Même and New Yorker stores. It ,also has our favorites Adidas, Foot Locker, Old Wild West restaurant, Columbus Café, and DeNeuville French chocolates.

The wonderful shopping center Docks Vauban webpage in French here:Docks Vauban shopping mall

You can get there by public transport LiA of Le Havre you can come here by the Tramway lines A and B, station “Gares” with access 5 minutes via the gateway Vauban Basin. By Bus lines   3 and 8, stop “Docks Vauban”. Lines 6 and 9, stop “stations” with 5 minutes access through the gateway of the Bassin Vauban. Lines 5, stop “Colbert” with 5 minutes from the dock. By the road coming from Rouen or Paris by the A13 , access is straightforward and it is not necessary to go through the city center. Many hotel car park (mall and effia) are around the basins of Vatine and Vauban. The A13 link up with the A131 to the Pont de Tancarville cross it continue right into Le Havre on the same road now name D282/D6015/ Bd de Leningrad to the Quai Colbert you have the parking EFFIA as below and over the basin is the Docks Vauban mall!

le havre

convenient money ATM lol !!!

The public transport LiA of Le Havre in French: Le Havre public transport network LiA

You can come by car as we do, and have the choice of the mall underground or the EFFIA Vauban parking we prefer as we do walk around from the mall into the city, easy walk. The parking for reference is here: Official EFFIA parking Vauban Le Havre

The city of Le Havre is nice and pretty now, on the city page of Le Havre you can see wonderful pictures my amateur rank will never make. City of Le Havre stunning maritime views

For brief info there is a shopping center in city center le Havre we have been but its for us just another mall, we much prefer the Docks Vauban, however, it would be worth mentioned it here for the shopper inclined in all of us!

L’Espace Coty is accessable from 5 doors with a nice FNAC reason we came in. It was done in 1995 ,name after  René Coty, President of the French Republic (France official name) from 1954-1959 who is a native of Le Havre. The webpage is here in French: Espace Coty shopping center

Le Havre

As it is my favorite form of painting, the impressionists! and Normandy has several including a Honfleur native and Le Havre resident Eugéne Boudin who painted The Vauban Basin at Havre c.1865;  see it at the local museum Musée d’art moderne André Malraux – MuMa!!

Hope you enjoy the shopping with a maritime look , wonderfully relax in my belle France and discover again Le Havre.

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

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April 27, 2020

Place Floquet at St Jean Pied de Port!

Well the title says Place Floquet but it could easily be the off the beaten path of  Saint Jean de Pied in the Basque country of France. This is a memorable spot where we have followed a local store even when they are visiting my now Morbihan breton for the gastronomic fairs. I have several posts on Saint Jean Pied de  Port but would like to tell you a bit about a spot in town.

We visited the town and saw the monuments as written in previous posts. However, there is one spot very dear to us and this is the reason of this post. Let me tell you a bit on the Place Floquet and al.

The square Floquet is name after  Charles Floquet, born at No. 33 rue de la Citadelle (1828-1896), a Republican lawyer who was a minister under the Third Republic. Here you now have a wonderful upper park which is part of the square and same name.

Saint Jean Pied de Port

There are many nice shops around here many of which we have patronized on our trips to Saint Jean Pied de Port such as

At 16 Place Floquet , the quaint nice  Hotel des  Remparts, very picturesque and should be a nice stayed here, not tried as we come usually from Toulouse or Pau for the day.  There is also, the Hôtel-Restaurant Etche Ona, at 15 place Floquet.

To eat, snack, apéro à la Française we came to the popular  Café Ttipia 2, place Floquet, that locals call Chez Peio.  Iberian plates, homemade cold meats, long wooden tables inside, large screen for match days like in rugby, and a beautiful terrace under the foliage. At Peio  you lives the countryside.

For a more refine cuisine come to the wonderful Restaurant Café de la Paix, traditional and typical basque cuisine, in the heart of the city at 4 Place Floquet. For eat out , take home the wonderful cold cuts of the Basques at La Ferme Elizaldia with homemade cold meats and regularly awarded Bayonne ham at 14 place Floquet .

For the shopper inclined this is heavens as well, with the wonderful linens and ready to wear at Galeries de Garazi, 7 place Floquet and Miss Tinguette at 5 place Floquet.

The Place Floquet is a popular bus station in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port served by ALSA and BlaBlaCar stop at 18 Place Floquet. There is nice parking right here at place Floquet! free!!!

Saint Jean Pied de Port

Time for a bit more on the town of Saint Jean Pied de Port!

Saint Jean Pied de Port with its streets paved with pink sandstone from the flanks of the Arradoy; tall houses with Basque red half-timbering and engraved lintels; an impregnable citadel built by the precursors of Vauban, and La Nive which rolls its white water flush with the bridges in the direction of the Adour. 8 km from the Spanish border, you will understand at first glance why this modest capital of Lower Navarre the most visited town in this area.

It was baptized Donibane Garazi in Basque, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port was indeed founded at the end of the 12C in order to protect the passage of the river and the access to the passes of Roncevaux and Bentarte. This is why Charles II of Navarre purposely called it “the key to my kingdom”. Judiciously placed equidistant from Puy-en-Velay and Santiago de Compostela at about 800 km, it is, in all seasons, the obligatory crossing point for pilgrims of Saint-James (Santiago), who very often end the first section of their path there, or else their journey to Spain begins there. The welcome house is at , 39 rue de la Citadelle and the boutique des Pelerins is at 32 rue de la  Citadelle.

And our fav store here which we always stop by and follow them on fairs around France especially right in Vannes, Morbihan our capital city and by now good customers and friend of the house.  The Maison Gastellou! with the best shop at 9 rue d’Espagne short straight walk to Place Floquet where we sat in the park above Place Floquet to have our lunch with a view of the city! Here you come for the Bayonne ham, Roncal brebis(ewe) (goat) cheese, basque sangria with piment espelettes,and delicious cherry and apple gateau basque or basque cakes!!

Peasants, farmers, breeders for several generations at the Poutzia farm located in Saint-Jean-le-Vieux,(where there is now a very good market, and we loaded on Irouléguy wines and Ossau-Iraty goat cheese)  the Gastellou family raises, prepares, cooks and conditions all of its production according to the rules of the art, while respecting tradition. You have to see the context in which calves, cows and other pigs evolve (visit by appointment)! Twenty hectares of forests, far from industrial farming chains. We find in the butcher’s shop rue d’Espagne, the company’s parent company, the Gastellou spirit. Aquitaine blonde, Bayonne and Garazi dry hams, Basque sausages, chorizos, ventrèches, rillettes, pâtés and Basque sausages but also many dishes cooked in jars, without forgetting the essential Ossau-Iraty cheeses from local producers. Finally, and from a recipe kept jealously secret, Basque cakes with cream and whole cherries, simply exceptional, homemade in line with the products mentioned above. It’s 4 shops and an online site that offer all the products.

Their official webpage is here: Maison Gastellou

Saint Jean Pied de Port

Saint Jean Pied de Port

Saint Jean Pied de Port

You get here by car best of course. The different options are given officially here. From Bordeaux via the A 63 highway/motorway: Exit Bayonne then 50 km via Bayonne, Cambo les Bains on the D 932 road. From Toulouse via the A 64 highway/motorway: Exit Orthez / Salies de Béarn then 60 km via Orthez, Salies de Béarn and Saint-Palais via de D 933 road. From Pau via A 64 and D 933: via Orthez and Saint-Palais. From Bayonne by D 932 and from Pamplona in Spain by the C135 and D933: via Roncevaux and Arnéguy.

The train station for the TGV is at Bayonne rain station ,the TGV from Paris, Talgo to Madrid, and the Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port SNCF station:at Avenue Renaud. Closest airport but never come this way so need to inquire as to how to get to SJPP, Bayonne-Anglet-Biarritz International Airport: Pau-Pyrénées International Airport; San Sebastian International Airport: Spain, Bilbao International Airport Spain: all in Basque country.

For the anecdote I have come here from Pau and Lacanau-Océan. From Pau we came by Gan on the N134 then Oloron Sainte Marie here we took the D919 to pass by Aramits , yes the town of the muskeeteer! we took the D26 to go further up into the mountains to Larrau and after the D19 then D18 to Saint Jean Le Vieux and hook up with the D933 to Saint Jean Pied de Port! All along the Pyrénées very high mountain roads sometimes on second gear! a thrill see my post on the roads here.

From Lacanau-Océan in the Médoc of Bordeaux we took the D5 to hook up with the autoroute A63 aka Route des Estuaires and around Bayonne we took the D932 direction Cambo les Bains and then Saint Jean Pied de Port! Hope it helps

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

City of St Jean Pied de Port on heritage in French: City of St Jean Pied de Port

Tourist office of St Jean Pied de Port: Tourist office of Saint Jean Pied de Port

The Xacobeo French camino to Santiago de Compostela in French: Xacobeo camino de Santiago from St Jean Pied de Port

And Saint Jean Pied de Port is one of the most beautiful villages of FranceLes Plus Beaux Villages de France on St Jean Pied de Port

There you go a wonderful town to visit and most often due to the camino to Santiago but it needs to be seen other ways like we did up close and personal for a wonderful memorable experience for all; see Saint Jean Pied de Port!

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

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