Archive for May 24th, 2020

May 24, 2020

Thanksgiving Americana in Paris!

So this is a revised old post of mine as traditions are meant to be kept. We do the best anywhere we are and one nice tradition we took as ours is Thanksgiving. As immigrants of the world we do give thanks. Hope you enjoy the post and plan ahead you never know these days….

Often I have been asked about American celebrations in France. I have done this piece in December 2010 in my blog, one of my first posts as began the blog in November 26 2010. The idea like any immigrant group and I should be an expert with four passports, that we carry our traditions wherever we go regardless of the new ones we pick up. One that really comes on top is Thanksgiving. Do we have it here? Is it the same at the table? Are you giving stuffings? Cranberry sauce? How, Where, can one enjoy this wonderful tradition while away from home and in Paris France.

The answer is very simple, YES, its alive and well with many places offering caterings for groups and restaurants offering a set menu. In Paris ,you can follow all is the melting pot of Europe at least. However, once you move to the provinces or countryside the choices are limited or none. In my new area I have no restaurant set menu or catering even thus we go out to get the turkey for at home celebration. After all we are celebrating immigrants coming to a new country! You have the usual way of getting American goods in Paris, and do it yourself at home. There were two places to get American products but unfortunately as told before Thanksgiving store/resto has closed. There is still one The Real McCoy

The Real McCoy grocery store, 194 rue de Grenelle, 75007 Open 10h-20h contact tel +33  (0) 1 45 56 98 82, metro Ecole Militaire.. They have a Facebook page here: facebook page of the Real McCoy Paris

I have done too is to partake with the French-American community at Joe Allen restaurant 30 rue Pierre Lescot 1éme arrondissement very near Metro line 4 Etienne Marcel. Tel contact  +33 (0) 1 42 36 70 13 Facebook page here: facebook page of Joe Allen Paris

I like to add, spent many nights at Joe Allen and still stop by once in a while visiting Paris from the Morbihan breton!

Another popular place is at Breakfast in America, yes you can do that too home style but on Thanksgiving they give away for the traditional meal at Breakfast in America; 17, rue des Ecoles, 5éme. Tel.Contact + 33 (0) 1 43 54 50 28. webpage: Breakfast in America Paris

La Grande Epicerie 38 Rue de Sévres 7éme or 80 Rue de Passy 16éme you can buy American products and pre order as well on special dates. More info here: La Grande Epicerie Paris

You can order online base in Toulouse, My American Grocery ,but never ordered from them. They claims to be the No 1 US product online store in France: more info here: My American Market Toulouse

And an American in Rennes , created the My Little America, and you can order on line too, maybe Thanksgiving stuff but again never use them. More info here: My Little America at Rennes

In addition to these diehard places I have enjoyed over the years, you can ask the US embassy American Citizen Services in Paris   for organisations where the event is held. Often , organisation organize this event in Paris and you are all invited for a fix price. Contact org like the Association of American Residents Overseas, (AARO) , Association of American Wives of Europeans (AAWE) , American Chamber of Commerce (L’AmCham France) , American University Clubs of France (AUC), or the Paris Alumni Network (PAN) as some I know…

The latest for me was the Thanksgiving at Les Arches du Marais, 11 rue de Braque,(one way street) , 3éme arrondissement; metro Rambuteau line 11. This is on the back of the Archives National hotels a very nice quaint area of Paris. This event was organised by the AUC/PAN org. Les Arches du Marais located in the heart of old Paris, in a unique historic setting with exposed stones and vaulted cellars. Offer four connecting reception rooms located in the heart of old Paris, near the Georges Pompidou center. In the basement of Les Arches du Marais, the adjoining vaulted cellars accommodate a hundred people for a cocktail party on approximately 80m². This was while still in Versailles in 2010 as I left for the Morbihan Breton in June 2011.





I have read lately that the noise especially from the place has started a chain of complaints against the Les Arches du Marais and even ask for its closure. The place as restaurant is closed, but you can still rent it out for events . A magical and relaxed setting.  And for contact them, this event webpage  :

And there you go, it is possible to keep your traditions at least in Paris. Otherwise, buy your ingredients and do it at home. Hope you enjoy the post as I do bringing back nice memories.

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

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May 24, 2020

Fort Boyard!!!

Ok so have you ever saw a show on TV on a wonderful idylic place and wondered if you can go see it? Well, my family liked to watch this show on TV which was pretty popular in France. And alors, one day my oldest son got  a semester hotel/restaurant studies in La Rochelle, and from there we decided once visiting him to take a look at this place. What is it? well is Fort Boyard. 

la rochelle

Let me set up the scene on this fort in the middle of the Atlantic ocean!

Fort Boyard is a fortification located on a high bottom originally formed by a sandbank, called the longe de Boyard which is discovered at low tide and is located between the island of Aix , the island of Oléron, with the island Madame and the island of , belonging to the Charente archipelago. The Longe de Boyard is attached to the cadastre of the town of Île-d’Aix, in the department 17 of Charente-Maritime, in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region.  Fort Boyard is an integral part of the Rochefort Maritime Arsenal which stretches along the Charente estuary. It is the property of the departmental council of Charente-Maritime since 1989.

la rochelle

At first, the designation on 17C Dutch maps of this sandbank under the name Banjaert Hollandis suggested a Dutch origin of this name. The oblong shape of the fort is located 2,900 meters from the island of Aix and 2,400 meters from the island of Oléron. It measures 68 meters long in the axis by 31 meters wide, for a surface area of 2,065 m2 and a total of 2,689 m2. The inner courtyard is 43 meters long in the axis, 12 meters wide and its surface is 565 m2. The surrounding walls culminate 20 meters from the foundations. The fort was built to protect the Rochefort arsenal. At the end of the construction of the arsenal in 1666, the need for protection was mentioned with Boyard’s lanyard as a basis for construction, but after the various surveys, Vauban presenting the project to king Louis XIV, ironically said “ Sire, it would be easier to grasp the Moon with your teeth than to attempt such work in this place”. This first project will therefore remain there.

In 1801, taking advantage of a short truce in the war which had pitted France against England for 9 years already, Bonaparte, 1st consul, approved a new project which aimed to build a fort measuring 80 by 40 meters. worked began in 1803, Napoleon, on site in August 1808, revised the project downward – the project was reduced to a dimension of 40 meters by 20 – and work resumed in 1809. The Battle of the Isle of Aix, called The Burns of the Isle of Aix: in early April 1809, a squadron of 11 French line vessels and 4 frigates was assembled in the harbor before the mouth of the Charente, under the orders of Vice-Admiral Zacharie Allemand, with a view to setting sail to bring reinforcements to the Antilles, despite the blockade maintained by the English. The French squadron lost 4 vessels and a frigate. Thus are ruined the hopes of reinforcements for the threatened colonies in the Antilles. And finally, in June 1809, the construction of Fort Boyard, to close the harbor, was permanently suspended.

la rochelle

We had to wait for the reign of Louis-Philippe and the renewed tension between the French and the British for the project to resume. In 1841, it was redefined downwards and new credits were released and in 1857 the construction of the fort is completed with the second floor and the first cannons are put in place in 1859. This marks the end of the construction of the fort as a whole; the minutes announcing the end of all the work was signed on February 6, 1866. Its military use is never what it should have been, and finally, in 1913, the army separated and the guns were sold to scrap dealers. In 1869, work was carried out on the north jetty of the barachois and, in 1873, the tide gauge was transferred from Fort Enet to Fort Boyard. On August 11 of the same year, the first observations of sea level were made. It will operate until 1919. During WWII, it served as a training target for the Nazis. Finally the fort was put on sale before definitively selling off in November 1988, The game production company of Jacques Antoine, who acquired it, then immediately sold it to the General Council of Charente-Maritime for a symbolic franc. In exchange, the department undertakes to carry out the rehabilitation works and ensure the exclusive operation of the site at JAC (Jacques Antoine et Cie, third French producer of television games at the time). From then on, the monument became the filming location for a television program bearing his name: Fort Boyard

la rochelle

Maritime access to the fort from Fouras is by chartered speedboat during the filming season for the game show; the Baron Gourgaud in 1988 and 1989 of the Inter-Islands cruises, then by speedboat, the Bacman between 1989 and 2003 then the Sea Surfer from 2004. In 1990, the building, freshly bought and rehabilitated, became the filming location from the program Les Clés de Fort Boyard, renamed Fort Boyard the following year. The show was set as a team of candidates, surrounded by more or less strange characters, must overcome a certain number of physical and intellectual tests (calling on agility, speed, endurance, strength, memory or logic) as well as overcome their fears, in order to be able to collect the keys giving access to the treasure room of the fortress and guess the code word of the day with clue cartridges to seize the gold coins called boyars, in a limited time , which fall into a round cage, and pour them into a cauldron which will then be weighed.

The Tourisme Charente Maritime dept 17 on Fort BoyardAtlantic Cognac tourist office on Fort Boyard

The Ïle d’Oléron tourist office on Fort Boyard in English: Oleron island tourist office on Fort Boyard

The Rochefort tourist office on Fort Boyard in English: Rochefort tourist office on Fort Boyard

And there you go a nice adventure trip by boat to a popular French spot on the ocean surrounded by beautiful island views; hope you enjoy the photos and maybe come to see the Fort Boyard. It is no longer on, but a new redesigned program call Boyard Land!! version amusement park ,not on the Fort, with many of the same participants and co hosts, but not the same unfortunately.  Hope you enjoy it.

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

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May 24, 2020

Saint Remi Church at Marines!

The town of Marines is located in the Val d’Oise dept 95 of the Ïle de France region at about 50 km from Paris. You get here from Paris on the A15 direction Rouen, which becomes the D915 passing by Cergy-Pontoise in the French Vexin Regional Natural Park (see posts) and passed by Marines, the name made me curious but nothing to do with the naval guys…! Anyway, it has a nice church and enough for me to take a picture. Let me tell you a bit  more on off the beaten paths of my belle France!

The Saint-Rémi Church in Marines is in the French Vexin Regional Natural Park . It succeeds a chapel, which King Louis the Fat gave to the regular canons of Saint Augustin of the Saint-Vincent de Senlis abbey between 1125 and 1130. However, the current church is from the middle of the 12C. The first span of the choir, the transept and the large arches north of the nave are the only elements that remain to this day. They belong to the primitive Gothic style. In 1618, the Oratorian fathers replace the canons.


During the French revolution, in 1793, the Brulart de Sillery tombs in the vault under the chapel were destroyed. During the second half of the 19C, the funeral chapel changed its name and was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Since 1966, Marines and all the other parishes of the new department of Val-d’Oise no 95 come under the diocese of Pontoise. The parish that includes Marines today brings together a total of thirty-four villages. Sunday masses are celebrated in the Saint-Rémi Church every Sunday at 11h.

A bit on the architecture of the Saint Remi Church I like. The church consists of a nave of four spans accompanied by its two collaterals; a transept which does not overflow and therefore cannot be identified from the outside; a fairly common central bell tower rising above the crossing of the transept; a choir of two spans, the second of which has the apse with cut sides; as well as an octagonal chapel in the corner between choir and southern cross. The north cross is completely included in the church of the former Convent of the Oratorians.

The Chapel of the Sacred Heart, initially the sepulchral chapel of Nicolas Brulart de Sillery and dedicated to Saint Roch, is very different from other religious churches in French Vexin. The chapel has an octagonal plan, and thus approximates the circular ideal plan of the architects of ancient Rome, as it was implemented in the Pantheon in Rome. The Chapel of the Sacred Heart appears as a separate entity, which does not connects with the rest of the church. Apart from a small auxiliary door, its walls are full, and structured by buttresses, which have a salient angle on the front face, in order to remain coherent with the octagonal plan of the chapel.

Apart from the funeral chapel, the Saint Remi Church is especially famous for its Renaissance porch. The 13C bell is one of the oldest in France. It is probably the only surviving bell that was made using the process developed by the monk Theophile. The organ was made around 1833 by the English organ builder John Abbey who settled in France from 1826. This organ is regularly used for offices and many concerts and recitals are given there.

The other building of note is the Château de Marines. The castle was built during the second quarter of the 16C for the Brosses family. It is made up of a central main building flanked by two massive pavilions, topped with tall roofs covered with slate. The castle was unfortunately brutally renovated during the 20C. In this context, an old building with a round tower with a pepper roof and directly overlooking the square was demolished unfortunately.

The city of Marines on its heritage in French here: City of Marines on its heritage

And there you go, a lot fun driving around beautiful movable feast France! You never know what you will find and always a dandy for the architecture and historical love in me. Hope you enjoy the daring rides and see these wonderful monuments to all. The Saint Remi Church is nice indeed in quaint Marines!

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

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