Archive for April 30th, 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!

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

Kirchberg, Luxembourg city!

Well let me get out of my belle France for a while. This is one of my favorite countries and have the luck of visited several times with the family. I  ,of course, have several posts on it for the city and the country of Luxembourg. However, looking thru my vault cameup with some nostalgic photos of wonderful family trips needed to have in my blog.

Therefore, this was our experience in Kirchberg, Luxembourg city! Another one of our favorites ,the Kirchberg district, not just because for me there is many European institutions there but with the family we enjoy the wonderful Auchan shopping center and the cinema Utopolis.

Kirchberg is one of the 24 districts of Luxembourg city. Made up of a plateau located in the northeast part of the city, it is today the heart of the international banking and financial center that the country constitutes. It is linked to the city center by the Grande-Duchesse Charlotte bridge aka the pont rouge or red bridge because of the color of the anti-rust that has covered the bridge since its construction which spans the valley of the Alzette river.

In the 1960s, the Kirchberg plateau first hosted the buildings of the European institutions located in Luxembourg: Court of Justice of the European Union, European Court of Auditors, Secretariat of the European Parliament, European Investment Bank (EIB) ), European School, Eurostat, etc. Today it has become a residential, cultural district with the Philharmonic Hall as well as the Museum of Modern Art Grand Duke Jean – aka Mudam, but also and above all institutional and business with European institutions, banks, financial institutions and insurance are numerous.

luxembourg

The Kirchberg is also a leisure district. Multisport halls and an Olympic swimming pool all grouped under the name of La Coque make this sports complex the largest and most important in the country. Utopolis now call Kinepolis) is a multiplex composed of 10 rooms and was the first multiplex in Europe to have equipped all of its screens with the standards of digital projection.

The official La Coque complex in English: LA Coque sports complex

The Utopolis/Kinepolis cinema complex here: Kinepolis Kirchberg

luxembourg

One of the Auchan group’s shopping centers, located in the heart of the district, is one of the largest in the country. And the stand alone Auchan hypermarket was our regular stop while there even for clothing of jeans! It is very nice inside a nice building shopping mall with plenty of other stores and restaurants ,about 66.

The Auchan Kirchberg store here: Auchan at Kirchberg

The Auchan Shopping Center stores here: Kirchberg shopping center

luxembourg

The Kirchberg district is located a stone’s throw from Luxembourg-Findel airport. And from the airport to the city center we have taken bus 16!! Nice ride lol! The bus line 16 is here: VDL bus tram network on bus line 16

The district is mainly served by the tramway linking Luxexpo to its opening and the Grand Duchess Charlotte bridge via avenue John F. Kennedy; the tram is linked to Pfaffenthal-Kirchberg station located on line 1 by the funicular. In addition, numerous AVL and RGTR bus lines connect the district to Ville-Haute (upper town) and neighboring villages. The tramway line here: Luxtram on tramway line 1

From the city center Hamilius quai 1 bus depot we have taken bus line 1 to Kirchberg right by the Auchan shopping center! Nice ride lol! See we do take public transports too even in Europe! The bus line 1 here: VDL transport bus line 1

More from Luxembourg city tourist office on the things to do /see at Kirchberg in English here: Tourist office of Luxembourg city on things to see do at Kirchberg

More from the tourist office of Luxembourg on things to see /do at Kirchberg in English here: Tourist office of Luxembourg on things to see do at Kirchberg

And there you something different more personal a nice trip as always to Luxembourg city and already looking forward to be back soon. Hope you enjoy the post and the many wonderful family things to do and see at Luxembourg.

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

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.

Carnac

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.

Carnac

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.

Carnac

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!

Carnac

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!!!

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