Archive for December, 2020

December 31, 2020

Tours, the essence of the Centre-Val-de-Loire!!

This was sort of an introduction to Tours as have many other more recent posts and pictures of sights there. However, would like to update revise this one with updated links and text as it is essencial Tours! Hope you enjoy it as I do.

We finally reach our final destination Tours. As usual, we have been in town briefly, or in route, but never really saw much or if did it was a loong time ago with no pictures. Therefore, we finally reach Tours and it was nice to merit a return trip asap! And we did , see posts.

Tours, a city on the banks of the Loire and Cher rivers in the department 37 of Indre-et-Loire,as seat of the area and of the metropolitan region of  Tours Métropole Val de Loire. It is in the administrative region of Centre-Val-de-Loire.

We came by car as always , and we found it not bad even with only one way streets! Easy parking at Indigo Nationale rue Emile Zola off the rue Nationale. Safe and clean parking walking to everything. It is cover by the A10 for most of its territory beltway and it has a circle from which five highways come out; some of these are, A10 north towards Paris, and south towards Poitiers/Bordeaux, A28 towards Le Mans/Rouen, A85 west towards Angers, and A85 east towards Vierzon and junction with the valley of the Rhône. Many other secondary roads such as the N76, N138 allowing you to connect to the city and regional capitals such Limoges on the N147. And the ones we took the D37 and D751 along the Loire river.

A bit of history I like

It is the old Caesarodunum founded by Cesar Auguste, capital of the 3rd Legion with one of the biggest amphitheaters of the Roman empire. Sanctuary of Saint Martin, Gregory of Tours, and Alcuin under the Merovingian and Carolingians with adoption by the Capétiens of the Tournais pound, the money that will become the money of the Kingdom of France. Capital of the County of Tours that will become Touraine the garden of France, royal capital under the Valois with its Castles of the Loire, capital of the kingdom for kings Henri III and Henri IV during the war of Religions and city of retreat in 1940 that had it in part destroyed in WWII. Good to mention the old bridge or Pont de Pierre over the Loire was renamed in July 1918 with the name of Woodrow Wilson ,president of USA from 1912-1920 for the help during WWI . Since then, culinary city as gastronomy enclave with specialties such as the rillettes ,and rillons, the wines touraine of the Val de Loire and it’s cheeses such as the AOC Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine (my favorite !) and the nougats of Tours.

There is lots to see here and one day is not enough , however, we have come for short periods before many years back, and it was time to revisit the city, now we should be back to see more, and as said we did! So much to see in my belle France, the Valley of the Loire alone will take a lifetime!!

The city of Tours is a city of Art and History designation ,been a historic city name to the Unesco world heritage sites. As an anecdote ,Tours sometimes is call the Little Paris by visitors because maybe for its history, the architectural arrangement of its boulevards in the center town and buildings in white stone ,nice and clean silhouettes.

We went out of our hotel into glorious Tours. At the square François Sicard  with it’s nice garden park you are facing the museum of fine arts or musée des Beaux-arts , right in the center of the garden a cedar of Lebanon tree that goes back to 1804! There is an elephant Fritz that was belong to the Barnum and Bailey circus (Fl USA) and donated to the city of Tours it is stuff there in a glass enclosure  the elephant died in 1904! This will help you go further to see the most important French collection of Italian primitive arts after the Louvre…This all behind the white facade of the old 18C Episcopal palace or Palais des Archevêques, and paintings such as Mantegna, Boucher, Debré, and Zao Wouki, etc,  sculptures, ceramic, furniture and others objects of art awaits you! Right next to it is the gracious silhouette  of Saint Gatien Cathedral or Cathédrale Saint-Gatien ,name after the first bishop of Tours; majestic towers, splendid stained glass, big wonderful organ and the tombs of the children of  Charles VII and Anne de Bretagne (Anne of Brittany).

We continue our walks into the old street of Grand-Rue du Moyen Age, now call  rue Colbert. Here all is picturesque with old cafes and shops and authentic houses of the 15-16C.  We took a detour into the rue de la Scellerie with ambiance the district of the antiques shops, book shops, and china porcelain , to the right you see the flamboyant façade of the Grand Théatre, dating from 1875.

Following our thirst for sights we took on one old reliable the rue Nationale  ,this is the old rue royale that link Paris with Spain of old, now with a perspective north south of 7 km long!!  There is a Galeries Lafayette ,and the wonderful Galerie Nationale shopping mall.  And the great boutiques in city center at rue Nationale , especially come in for the Le Comptoir de Mathilde ,72 rue Nationale (branches all over France) , great chocos cookies etc to bring home! webpage: https://www.lecomptoirdemathilde.com/fr/

Stop by the truly remarkable tour Charlemagne,  in the district of Châteauneuf  and reaching the square of the same name you come to the wonderful Saint Martin Basilica or Basilique Saint-Martin  in rue des Halles. It was built in the néo byzantine style by local architect  Victor Laloux , the interior is awesome beautiful, glass, stone of gray marble, the tomb of Saint Martin in the crypt with beautiful harmony and spaces. Pope John Paul II visited here and offered a Mass to the poor in 1996.

The lively  rue des Halles  makes us come to the 21C ,and by the balcon of the Hotel de Ville and nice fountains. You come to the train station or Gare de Tours ,one of the most beautiful in France off blvd Heurteloup. Wait we did shopped here at rue des Halles!!

We went by the Chateau de Tours in the oldest district of Tours next to the Loire river. built back to the 11C  by the 15C it is designated a royal domain. It was practically destroyed in the 18C and only two towers remained  used by the army from the French revolution, later serving as a barrack and left abandon until finally restored in the 20C ; today it houses cultural and heritage activities of the city of Tours.

We went to Le Damier Vert and got chocolates, nougats, marshmallow candy, and chocolate telephone tablets all home made; wonderful place at rue des Halles. webpage: https://www.ledamiervert.fr/

And we had our late night dinner in the best international style at Amadeus Bagel with Pastramis bagel , burgers bagel, tex mex bagel , desserts such as abricot pies ,and sodas for under 16€ per person. Which sadly has closed. One good reason to do updates on older posts: keep it here for the memories we love it!

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Oh yes I almost forgot we got our hotel , the Hôtel Moderne at 1-3 rue Victor Laloux off the blvd Heurteloup and very nice friendly service , centrally located on foot to all. It has acceptable rooms and good bathrooms, with reading room and wifi, only drawbacks no parking and expensive 9€ breakfast so we ate out. The parking was done at Indigo Nationale at rue Emile Zola nice easy 2 min walk to hotel but we pay extra 17€. The rooms were at 50€ ok. webpage: http://moderne.tourshotelsweb.com/en/

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The city of Tours on its heritage in French: https://www.tours.fr/5-decouvrir-tours.htm

The Tours tourist office in English: https://www.tours-tourism.co.uk/

And this was Tours in a nutshell , of course lots more to see and enjoy this wonderful city of the Touraine. There are those that said the purest French is spoken here… All to come in as we did and did come back again… Enjoy Tours!!

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

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December 31, 2020

Some news from France, CCCXXII

And here is my tidbits news of my belle France, and last of the year 2020. It has not been a good year but we go in the life cycle with ups and downs with nothing left but to continue in life, the best we can. With this I will say to all my readers, Happy New Year, Bonne Année, Féliz Año Nuevo, Feliz Ano Novo!

The curfew due to the virus remains in effect this Thursday from 20h to 6h. To prevent crowds, around forty metro stations will be closed and several lines interrupted in the evening.

Last Tuesday, December 29, at the end of a Defense Council, the government rejected the idea of confinement, but establish a curfew from 18h  from January 2 , 2021 in the territories where the Covid-19 circulates the most.  The cities of Nancy (Meurthe-et-Moselle), Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin) and Reims (Marne) would be particularly affected by the measure. The curfew would begin there at 18h

The 20 departments that will be affected from January 2nd 2021 will be, region and then department with number:

Grand Est :
08 Ardennes
10 Aube
51 Marne
52 Haute-Marne
54 Meurthe-et-Moselle
55 Meuse
57 Moselle
68 Haut-Rhin
88 Vosges 

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté :
25 Doubs
39 Jura
58 Nièvre
70 Haute-Saône
71 Saône-et-Loire
89 Yonne
90 Territoire de Belfort 

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes :
03 Allier
07 Ardèche 

Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur :
05 Hautes-Alpes
06 Alpes-Maritimes.

Luckily we have been spare of the more strict rules. Bretagne.

Snow forecast for Paris by the end of the year. Also planned for Bretagne with some frost and snow in the upper region !! temps of –4C (about 25F) expected in the morning and 1 (about 34F) in the afternoon!! Yikes!! and the electricity cost will go up 2% or about 30 euros in average per home!! And due to the virus as well we are staying home; plenty of TV programs lol!!

The demographic decline, which began a few years ago, is being confirmed. According to the latest figures from INSEE, Paris now has 2,175,601 inhabitants, or 54,000 fewer then five years ago. I have mentioned in my previous posts the problems of Paris due to a lack of quality of life for laws that prevent free movement.  The 9éme arrondissement or district  is one of the three Parisian arrondissements to see its population increase slightly over five years. The department 93 of Seine-Saint-Denis, the engine of demographic growth in the region of Île-de-France, now has more inhabitants than dept 92 Hauts-de-Seine, in the Yvelines dept 78 , the population continues to grow, at a regular pace, according to the latest figures from INSEE.

A sad news in Poissy, the Monoprix in the city center will lower the curtain. Present since 1962, the brand will definitively close its doors on December 31.

Ikea ends 70 years of its iconic catalog. The Swedish furniture brand first published its showcase on paper in 1951. This catalog, translated into 32 languages, has established itself as an icon of modern design. Its online version is also being discontinued. Another goner!

The Île de la Cité flower market has lost a little of its splendor over time. An architectural competition has been launched by the City of Paris to give a second life to this Parisian institution. The flower market on Île de la Cité will be completely restored between 2023 and 2025. It’s about time and this time a good initiative.

For New Year’s Eve, the city of Paris presents Thursday evening “Welcome to the other side”, a concert that the musician will give in a Notre-Dame Cathedral reconstituted in virtual reality. A show broadcast live on social networks in particular. to follow Thursday live on BFMTV, France Inter, YouTube and Facebook from  23h25  to 24h15 ( 11:25pm to 12:15 am). Yes will be awesome, seen the clips on tv, a must to watch on any medium!

The lightning rod specialist Franklin, based in Ozoir-la-Ferrière (Seine et Marne 77), equipped the replica of the La Fayette frigate in Rochefort (Charente-Maritime dept 17). Used to prestigious shipyards, this is the first time that Franklin France has worked on a historic ship. very special lightning protection was installed on the Hermione, a replica of the ship that La Fayette borrowed in 1780 to reach America;later helped in the American independence thanks to king Louis XVI.

And a question and answer on one of my hobbies. Why doesn’t my wine smell the same as my neighbor’s even though it comes from the same bottle? The answers lie in culture, emotional state, genetics, label, color of the glass ,etc… There are at least three good reasons for this. The emotional state is very important. Culture and experience are another important factor. They shape your olfactory library. A Japanese, a Mexican and a French will not have the same reading of strawberries, pineapples or Durian fruit. Finally, your perception depends on your genetic makeup. It is estimated that between two people, a third of their 400 scent receptors will function with different sensitivities. There you go not easy to describe a wine or even to feel its own taste once frontiers have crossed. Maybe one exception is French wine who has crossed the globe and still No 1…

Which are the 4 French cities most exploited in cinema? Without much surprise, Paris arrives at the top of the top. And if you want to take a tour of the places with cult names, you can count on the Pont des Arts where Big declared his love for Carrie in Sex and the City or even Montmartre, which is now difficult to separate from the Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain. Or fabulous destiny of Amélie Poulain.

While one of La Casa de Papel’s new robbers has been dubbed “Marseille”, the link between Marseille and fiction is very relevant. Thus, the popular city of the South, a land of success like Taxi, comes very naturally in second position. Of course, the Vieux Port or old port remains a flagship spot in the city, where the filming of the rom-com classic Love Actually had occasionally put down its suitcases.

The Côte d’Azur entered the rankings through Nice. In addition to attracting American productions such as Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight, the sun-drenched city has also been the setting for the not to be missed comedy Brice de Nice. Among the emblematic places, one must of course stop on the beaches of the coast. A setting in which Marion Cotillard blends in in De Rouille et d´Os or rust and bone.

And Cannes, the cradle of the biggest film festival does not detonate in this top linked to the 7th art. The charm of the Cote d´Azur is definitely pleasing and presents itself as the perfect set for popular romances like L’Arnacœur. The other genres are not left out, since we can cite shoots such as that of the comedy The City of Fear or the action with The Transporter.

On a sad news, Pierre Cardin died Tuesday, December 29 at the American hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine. The designer, renovator of post-war French haute couture, made a series of futuristic inventions, launched the first line of men’s clothing, and put his name on numerous products. He died Tuesday, December 29 at the age of 98.

He will build an empire: 500 factories in 110 countries, 800 licenses and some 200,000 employees around the world. An empire, on which the sun never sets and of which he had remained the owner while most of the luxury brands were bought by financial groups. My first contact with French fashion many moons ago and still followed, even been on his events in Paris and participated for many years on his boat Maxim’s for gastronomy and wine tastings by the Tour Eiffel Seine river! RIP

And there you go for this last Some news from France post of 2020. Oh yes there are always those that do it early like New Zealand and those that do it later like the USA! We will be saying bonne année in France in all of January lol!! Enjoy your day and be safe

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

December 31, 2020

The little Epernay, Grand de Champagne!

I like to update this post if for any reason my sentimental value. When in Champagne, my dear late wife Martine family went there when young to work and earned a bit of money smashing grapes and cleaning around; my first instroduction to them , the grandmother took me to Epernay and the great Champagne houses. It has been an ever lasting relationship with the Champagne region and the bubbly. I like to tell you about the little town of Epernay, Grand de Champagne!!

Let me tell you about this small town known the world over as the home of Champagne, actually it is a sentimental favorite of ours. On that first trip we visited the houses of  Mercier and Moêt & Chandon ! Therefore, enjoy  Épernay in the dept 51 Marne, now region of Grand Est in my belle France.

The town is right in the middle of a huge viniculture region essential to its economy and link to Champagne from the 18C. The town originally grew on the left bank of the Marne river but it has grown into the right bank as well . The Marne river is navigable from Epernay with a pleasure marina and into the Canal Latéral à la Marne serving as border with Ay to the north of town.  It is located about 25 km from Reims and about 140 km from Paris.

Épernay can be reach on the road by the Autoroute A4 sortie/exit 21 Dormans and sortie/exit 23 Champfleury,  The autoroute of the English or A26 sortie 17 Fagniéres, the D951 (old N51) and the D3 (old N3).  The town is on the traject of the way of liberty or  Voie de la Liberté, and the route of Champagne.  The train is on the line LGV Gare de l’Est Paris-Strasbourg. In addition to links with Bar-le-Duc,  and  Saint-Dizier as well as Reims, Châlons-en-Champagne, Vitry-le-François, Nancy, Metz, Charleville-Mézières, Sedan , and the Gare de Champagne-Ardenne TGV. The local bus network isMouvéo with 6 regular lines  on the town and nearby towns, it is open Mondays to Saturdasy from 6h to 20h. I have to admit have only come here by car!

A bit of history I like on Epernay ,and I believe gives you something to think and see while in town.

The old documents tell us that the town was founded in the area of Celtic Gaul on the left bank of the Marne river and written evidence from the 5C generally given as  418AD. After several invasions by Germanic people it passes under the domain of the Franks under Euloge an officer under king Clovis that takes it and becomes the first Lord of Epernay. Legend tell us that  Euloge is found guilty of a crime by Clovis and condemn to death ; Euloge ask Saint Remi to intervene and he convince the king to spare Euloge in exchange  gives the town to Saint Remi who don’t  take it but buys it  instead wishing only the castle of Epernay  ; Saint Remi confirmed in his will the taking of Epernay for the Church of Reims. In 1024,the town entered into the domain of the Counts of Champagne with the treaty between the bishop of Reims named  Eble de Roucy  and Eudes II,Count of Champagne . Under the under age of future king Louis XIV, in 1646  Épernay  is exchange with the Duke de Bouillon to appeased the markets to the north and stayed in the dukes’ hands until  1789, the French revolution.

In WWI Epernay is a rear guard town and the point of passage of troops and provisions as well as large numbers of soldiers station there ,as well as a hospital . However, been closed to the front it caused several bombings after 1917, and bring fears to the town of falling  by May 1918.  The attacks to the city destroyed a big portion of the  rue du Commerce (today,  avenue de Champagne) ; the Champagne houses of Chanoine Frères, Mercier, Moët & Chandon  and Raoul Chandon were greatly damage as well as the Notre Dame Church and by the rue du Paulmier.  The courage by the town gave it the Cross medal of the war of  1914-1918  on February 8 , 1920 by President of the French Republic Raymond Poincaré, to again honor the resistance and suffering of the people during the war as well as opening ceremonies for the city hall of Epernay at the  hôtel Auban-Moët.

During the WWII, Épernay  is evacuated on June 12 1940  with railroad cars.  Once the arrival of the Nazis on June 14 the city was dead with nobody in it. Therefore, the taking was of minor destruction with only the bridge over the Marne river that was quickly replaced by a wooden bridge. The town is liberated on August 28 1944 by the 7th Armored Division, under General  Silvester, and the  3e army of General Patton USA.  The town after its resistance and killing was decorated as well with the Cross of War medal 1939/45.

As said, this town is directly link to Champagne more than any other, including Reims. This is the country of the grapes of Champagne , the best in the world ever. A bit into this unique history with the help of faily stories and my books. In  1730, the Chanoine Fréres (brothers) founded the first house of Champagne here, one year after Ruinart at Reims.  By  1778, in the merchant general almanach  of shoppers, negotiators and builders of France and Europe ; the Parisian editor Grangé , you can already find  the main wine merchants here such as  « Marc, Germon (widow), De Parté (oldest son), Gillet, Dautez, Lochet du Chênet, Lochet de Vaudidon, Moette the oldest,  and Villème », that makes it 7 houses of Champagne already.

Other than Champagne houses, the things to see here in my opinion are the Notre-Dame Church b. 1898-1915 and later rebuilt 1922-25 with stained glass windows from the 16C and a wonderful organ at place Mendès-France, and the Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul Church at square Raoul-Chandon. Interesting there is a synagogue here from 1880. Other than that not much, not that it tries, after been pillage and burned over 25 times in its history.  My favorites are the gate or portal Saint-Martin, built in 1540, renaissance style  and only part of the Notre Dame Church destroyed in 1909. The  Château-Perrier, built  1854 in the Louis XIII style,  and later HQ of the British army in 1940 and Nazis 1942-1944, and American army in 1945.  The city/town hall or hôtel de ville,built in 1858 by same architect that did the  gare Montparnasse in Paris with a very nice garden.  The theater of Epernay Gabrielle-Dorziat, built and opened in 1902, one of the rare Italian theaters where the machinery is intact ; and has a ceiling dome done by  Georges Jules-Victor Clairin. The tower or  tour de Castellane, built between 1903 and 1905,one of the highest French buildings and the house of Champagne for workers quarters since 1990. Built from a water tower to give the most visibility to the fields by the  maison de champagne De Castellane that is right on the Avenue de Champagne.

Ah yes the Avenue de Champagne is sublime just to walk it! and to taste is heavens!! Épernay is the seat of several Champagne houses such as the Moët & Chandon  and its orangerie ,  Maison Mercier and the barrel biggest in the world (now part of M&C),  maison De Castellane and its tower, etc.  These mansions have furniture and buildings from the 19C renaissance or classic style. The avenue is also known as the crazy street or faubourg de la Folie, later rue du Commerce,and now Avenue de Champagne.  From 1894 most of the Champagne houses had their place on this avenue ; and most are available for visits and tastings. They have about 110 km of underground cellars dig into the chalk at a depth of 20 meters with some even to 40 meters. They allowed to stock large quantities of Champagne that makes the avenue one of the riches in the world. They ,also, serve to guard the population in times of war or needs. The costumes of light or Habits de Lumiére is an event held on the avenue de Champagne every second weekend of December. Unfortunately due to the virus going around this year 2020 has been cancelled, wait for it in 2021. Webpage: https://habitsdelumiere.epernay.fr/en

Other interesting places to see and visit are the museums or as the musée du vin de Champagne,a working museum on the work of the vine and wine. The prehistory and archeology museum or musée de Préhistoire et d’Archéologie housing objects from pre history, protohistory, gallo roman periods as well as merovinians are in the Château Perrier ; the museum of champagne traditions or musée de la tradition champenoise in the Champagne de Castellane housing the museum of trades and printing or  musée des métiers du champagne and  musée champenois de l’imprimerie ; as well as the pressing museum or musée des pressoirs in the Champagne Mercier, that have several grape pressing machines from all origins but only open on exceptional days so check before you go for this one. The theater or théâtre Gabrielle-Dorziat  at 8, rue de Reims with  850 seats.

The City of Epernay on its heritage: https://www.epernay.fr/decouvertes-patrimoine/tourisme

The Epernay tourist officehttp://en.ot-epernay.com/

The Champagne-Ardennes region tourist board on Champagne: https://www.champagne-ardenne-tourism.co.uk/discover/tasting-champagne/cellars-vineyards

And of course, if you want to know ,learn more about the bubbly, then go in English to the official page of the assoc that protects the gold liquid rights : https://www.champagne.fr/en/homepage

Enjoy the wonderful town of Epernay by the Marne river, and the bubbly symbol of France to the world! Hope you have enjoy the black and white post as pictures are elsewhere in my Champagne trail.

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

December 31, 2020

L’Epine and its basilica!!!

Let me update this one a novelty of my road warrior trips in my belle France. I have heard of this basilica but always a bit off the way to other places and never passed by it. Finally, there was the opportunity and as everything else in my belle France, it is magical. Let me tell you a bit more on the Basilica Notre Dame at L’Epine!

The small town of L’Épine, in the Marne dept 51 , region of Grand Est, near Châlons-en-Champagne, towards Verdun. We drive all over our beloved France and into Europe, we come across some interesting towns, we stop see, sometimes eat and then move on. The trip in the Marne department 51 are always welcome, this is the heart of Champagne. My wife’s side and she came here early to work in the vineyards and earned their first money.

We drove going elsewhere actually coming from Châlons-en-Champagne on the N44 to catch up with the faster autoroute A4 and moving on to Verdun and back.  It was a pleasant stop and a nice historical and religious center of France. I am talking about L’Epine but more importantly about the Basilica there.

Do not know hardly anything on public transport here and only know by reading that there is a bus connection with the regular line 110 Sainte-Menehould / Châlons. The schedule below from the city of L’épine in pdf file: http://www.mairie-lepine51.fr/media/ligne_110__081462400_1538_01102020.pdf 

The town of L’Epine or Thorn belongs to the metro or agglo area of Châlons-en-Champagne The next biggest town is you guessed it  Châlons-en-Champagne and is located 8 km west. The train station closest is located in Châlons-en-Champagne at 9km. the city hall or mairie is at 33 avenue du Luxembourg 51460 L’Epine. 

The main thing or only thing to come here is to see the wonderful Basilica of Notre-Dame de l’Epine, whose construction began in 1405 and finished by 1527 , and where we can see a Santiago de Compostela statue in wood from the 16C

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The statue of the Virgin holding the Child Jesus was discovered in the Middle Ages according to legend in a bush of thorns on fire and from this comes the name of the town and devotion to the Virgin. The Church received Basilica status in 1914. The Basilica has dimensions like a Cathedral and done in the Gothic style. The façade inspired by that of Toul Cathedral has three portals on two arrows, the one on the right has 55 meters high and on the left demolished in 1798 to put a telegraph was rebuilt in 1868. There are gargantuas figures outside like at Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris.

Inside there is,also, a robe in stone with 3 arcades from the 15C where the Virgin is held. You can admire a rood screen from the end of the 15C, the right arch of which houses the statue of the Virgin at the origin of the fame of the basilica. Several statues such as the Venerated Virgin (circa 1300); Seated Virgin (15C), Saint Jacques in wood (16C); Remarkable Entombment of the Trojan school, early 16C; Altars dated 1542; 16C beam of glory; Tribune and organ case (16C); the gallery adorned with eight apostles and seven pagan gods ; Choir organ from the Merklin house installed in 1889; Stained glass windows from the 19-20C.

Many travellers were amazed by the beauty of this Basilica such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Paul Claudel and Paul Fort. The two important dates here are the pilgrimage of the Diocese in May and the Assomption Day as it is the Patron Saint day.

Is really worth the detour for the magnificent of the Basilica, between Reims and Verdun on the A4 and off the N44 towards Châlons-en-Champagne, you will be gladly surprise.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The city of L’Epine on the basilica in French: http://www.mairie-lepine51.fr/basilique/histoire/

The Châlons-en-Champagne tourist office on the basilica: https://www.chalons-tourisme.com/visiter_bouger/basilique-notre-dame-de-l-epine-pcu0000000001115/

The metro or agglo area of Châlons shows more in French of this magnificent Unesco World Heritage site Basilica and al.: http://www.chalons-agglo.fr/decouvrir/patrimoine-inscrit-par-l-unesco-424.html

Hope you enjoy the post as I do and come visit the Basilica Notre Dame when possible. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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December 30, 2020

Yes , this is the real Brie de Meaux! the cheese that is !!!!!

Moving right along updating these old posts of mine, i come to what my readers should know is a very sentimental town and all of it for me. This is Meaux in dept 77 Seine et Marne of the Ïle de France region of my belle France. I like to tell you a bit on the wonderful Brie de Meaux cheese!!!

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And at last, this is the real Brie de Meaux, the king of cheeses, the cheese of kings , Vienna Congress 1815. Indeed, and there are lots of imitations and even those claiming to be using the same method but in far away lands ,even in France.

However, the real unique Brie de Meaux comes from the brie region of the department 77 Seine-et-Marne, and the town of Meaux (from which my wife comes from) is the epicenter of it. Sadly, today , many farmers are gone, industrialization has and does kill traditions. It remains only folks like us, me to preserve them and sponsored them so they keep delighting us with the real thing.

After much fighting , there is a group Brie de Meaux et de Melun, that protects the cheeses creating an AOP or Appellation d’Origine Protégée. Webpage: https://www.briedemeauxetdemelun.fr/

For the Brie de Meaux ,there is the Confrérie des Compagnons du Brie de Meaux  or grouping of lovers of the cheese that is to protect and defend the tradition; the official site is here in English: https://www.confreriedubriedemeaux.fr/en/

La Maison du Brie de Meaux is a boutique that is right in the Episcopal palace next to the Museum Bossuet that also acts as the tourist office. You can buy it direct too.  5 place Charles-de-Gaulle, Meaux. City of Meaux  Webpage: https://www.ville-meaux.fr/fr/tourisme/balade-a-meaux/la-maison-du-brie-de-meaux.html

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The brie de Meaux is done on a covering crusted in hormones of the cow’s milk ,soft and fondant, it has a flowery smell and it is delicious alone or with bread or an apple or even with honey. It takes about 25 liters of milk for 3,5 kg of cheese in a round form. It was first given credit to be created in the Abbey of Notre Dame de Jouarre about 17 km from Meaux on the N3 road.

Today due to shrinkage of the old traditions, the cheese makers are for 70% of the production located in the areas of Cousances-lés-Triconville, Raival, and Biencourt-sur-Orge within the allow territory of the AOP.  Covering several departments such as Seine-et-Marne (77), Loiret(45), Meuse(55) , Aube(10), Marne(51)  , Haute-Marne(52), and Yonne(89). And I have seen even in Savoie!(73).

However, the best is still around the town of Meaux and Jouarre. Here at the latest is the oldest family run cheesemaker or fromagerie place that of fromagerie Ganot since 1895. webpage: https://www.fromagerie-ganot.fr/

The one in Meaux has been doing for years from generation to generation and the one our family buys from. This is the Fromagerie de Meaux Saint Faron. Here it is produce as well as the smaller cousin of Melun. You can have tours and tastings as well.  The guided tours can be done in English or French. Groups are done with reservations,and individual visits can be done Wednesdays,Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9h -12h30 and 14h30 -17h. The place is outside the city in an industrial park just before reaching the museum of WWI and the American Monument on the N405 road. From the train station in Meaux coming from Paris gare de l’Est you can take bus P to it or take the navette bus from the train station to the museum WWI and walk down to the cheese maker. By car of course , we come always as it is on the way to my In-Laws house!

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They have no webpage but are feature in the tourist office of the country of Meaux here: https://www.tourisme-paysdemeaux.com/1685-fromagerie-de-meaux-saint-faron

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Awarded in 2017, with the prestigious Prize of Excellence at the Concours Général Agricole de Paris, this cheese factory preserves the ancestral techniques of making brie. Contacts  Tel +33 (0) 1 64 36 69 44 or email accueil@fromagerie-saintfaron.fr

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Of course, you can ,also taste the new beer of Meaux, we tried already the Christmas beer and is pretty good with a cinnamon taste to it very sweet.  You can buy it at the cheesemaker St Faron boutique or the maison de Brie tourist office . This is the Brasserie de Meaux webpage in their Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/brasseriedemeaux

And , do not forget the mustard or moutard de Meaux Pommery world famous use by all the grand chefs of France and the world. It was known since antiquity, only offered to the religious orders at the time around 1632; it was in 1760 that the secrets was passed on to a Mr Pommery. It was served on the Royal tables and located at behind the Cathedral later moved to rue faubourg St Nicolas until 1927, however in 1925 the last of the Pommery sold the secret, name, business and all; even if the new owners since has used the same recipe.  We use it at home and buy at Meaux the original, the mustard a l’ancienne or old ways that is use in cooking and also to eat along great steaks !! You can buy at the maison du brie or the fromagerie St faron or at the city center cheese store in 4 rue du Général Leclerc ,the Fromagerie de Meaux. The official maker distributor is the Assaisonnements Briards webpage: https://www.moutarde-de-meaux.com/

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For additional info, the abbey of Notre Dame de Jouarre is wonderful and should go there for the visit. I have written before in my blog.

Hope you enjoy it and the city of Meaux.  Things already written in my blog includes the vieux Châpitre linking to the Cathedral, the museum of Bossuet , gardens of Bossuet, where I walked first in the city, the ramparts , the pizzeria Roma my hangout when entering France in 2003 permanently, and of course, visiting the In-Laws now only the step-father there as mom passed away too last year in the village of Chambry.

In all, always memorable moments that stayed with you no matter what, time does not diminished the sadness of not having my dear late wife Martine who introduce me to her Brie de Meaux, I keep buying it. Hope you enjoy the post and do visit this city and do try the Brie of Meaux cheese and al. Thanks for reading me over these years.  See my other post on Meaux, several here.  Enjoy Meaux , the Meldois of the east of Parisi !! and of course the Brie!!

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

December 30, 2020

And I present you, Meaux!!!

Always fun and memorable and sentimental to write about Meaux, in dept 77 Seine-et-Marne, in the Ïle de France region of my belle France. You might know, have several posts on this town and its region, as it is the native town of my dear late wife Martine!

This is sort of an introduction I did on November 2017, and would like to update the text and links, with a memorable picture. Hope you enjoy it as I do, and thanks for reading my blog , always appreciated.

And I do present you with Meaux, a historical town east of Paris , near Disneyland Paris and the Champagne region, but most importantly the fields of war of the Great War or WWI and its  wonderful Gothic Cathedral , one of the best in France.

A while back I didn’t even know there was a Meaux, a few years back. That is until I happened to meet a young lady in Paris ! She was a native of Meaux but worked in Paris as a secretary to a real estate company.  The rest is history, wife,and 3 boys, and made many trips to Meaux, over the years.  It would be hard to tell you everything about the town, that I have come to know every bit nook and cranny of it, where my boys roll in baby carriages since age 5 weeks !! for one and 6 mos for the other 2,twins !!! Even along cobblestone streets around the Cathedral!

There is still family in small villages all around it ,and had come back for many visits. Meaux was my first introduction to France; (other than brief one day visit in Paris1972) when every one arriving at CDG or Orly airports rush to see Paris ,etc and I was humbly taken a bus , yes a bus to reach Meaux and hook up with my girlfriend!! ,this was in 1990. Later,  wife of 28 hugely wonderful years.

The bus still does its runs no. 20 Transdev IDF webpage: https://www.transdev-idf.com/ligne-20%20express/meaux-tremblay-en-france/054-SME20

Once the habit came back, and drove and took the trains. To come here from Paris, you can take the train at Gare de l’Est to the station in Meaux, or you can drive on the A4 connecting with the A140 straigth into town or do the scenic ride on the N3 from Porte de Pantin in Paris all the way to Champagne country passing thru city center Meaux. Bear in mind nowdays, the N3 is hugely congested. On the way back from Meaux to Paris we parked by a free parking in the Church of (église) Pantin to hook up with the metro Pantin line 5. Lately, the space has brought a paying parking they call it Yespark – Parking Pantin – Eglise Pommiers. However, not a secure place anymore sadly…

For those seeking alternatives from Paris and wishing to visit Disneyland Paris, Meaux is an excellent cheaper base. It is worth spending a night here or more as it is very close to Disneyland Paris. As we came with my parents and too large of a family already there (until sisters married away nearby) we use hotels such as the Campanile hotel ,very good friendly folks used for family gathering over the years, nice simple hotel chain here. webpage: https://meaux.campanile.com/en-us/

In city center, the historic Le Richemond is grand and very nice by the Marne river at good prices. Now part of the good inter-hotel chain:webpage: https://le-richemont-hotel-meaux.booked.net/en/

The town is divided into quartiers or neighborhood some newer away from the Marne river and the old ones from times afar such as the city center or centre ville, and ,the Marché , just across from the bridge over the river, the Faubourg Saint-Nicolas (where my wife lived), the Châage-Saint Faron or area of the hospital (where she was born), and the ave de la Republique/La Croix de Varenne, from where the escapee Louis XVI was brought back to Paris spending a night here!!!

There is a new WWI museum nearby ,actually next to the Monument Americain in honor of US soldiers who participated in the Battle of the Marne here. Well you can read a lot on above on my previous posts.

Here I like to tell you a bit on the St Stephens Cathedral (St Etienne) of Meaux. A wonderful  Gothic Cathedral where only one bishop is buried ,he is the Eagle of Meaux, confessor of king Louis XIV and bishop of Meaux, Bossuet. The Eagle of Meaux as he was called. Two huges statues honor the centenary and bicentenary of his death inside the Cathedral. The old Chapter still is authentic and where the priest elders gave justice; you go in now on guided visit only. The Palace was the home of the bishop and it became a museum in 1908.

The city can claim wholly this beautiful Gothic Cathedral and its episcopal palace now museum , the garden done by André Le Nôtre!!! the remains of the medieval ramparts, and its historical festival recreating the middle ages! A must. Meaux is the biggest town in Seine-et-Marne, and the Cathedral took 350 years to built it, when normally a Cathedral took 100 years. This gives it a unique architecture and one of the rarest in France with remnants of the Gothic in the middle part of the Cathedral, like the Choir, then the Rosary and Organ tribune in a flamboyant style post 15C. Between the two a part of the nave stayed with its primitive style of the 13C; the stained glass are smaller.

The country of Meaux tourist office on the Cathédrale Saint Etiennehttps://www.tourisme-paysdemeaux.com/3416-cathedrale-basilique-saint-etienne

You reach the lower rooms ,the Chapel , and the bedroom of the Bishop as well as a reception room. The wooden floor is from the 19C, the windows gives you a view over the garden or Jardin Bossuet bordered with chestnut trees (where gave my first kiss!!). The geometrical shape reminds us of a miter for the Bishops. It was designed by Le Nôtre. This green space link the episcopal palace museum to the walls of the old fortifications and the town.  At the times it was only a garden as well as a part of the town with canons houses; they purchased the land and later the bishop purchased the ramparts to enclosed all and creating the suspended garden in 1642! It was a great idea because today , are the only ramparts still on in Meaux. The whole is to be visit for free as well as the Cathedral, garden and courtyard (very nice).  For individual guided visits they are done from April to November twice per month. They are free access on the weekends from April to October.

The jardin Bossuet from the country of Meaux tourist officehttps://www.tourisme-paysdemeaux.com/2056-jardin-bossuet

The Jardin Bossuet from the city of Meauxhttps://www.ville-meaux.fr/fr/tourisme/balade-a-meaux/le-jardin-bossuet.html

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View from garden to museum front to Cathedral on back .Meaux!

The museum or Musée Bossuet as I said opened in 1908  in the episcopal palace; today we can see an  aquarelle by Delacroix , and a portrait by  Courbet, given by the son of Chemistry Nobel Prize winner Henri Moissan, before going to WWI in 1914.  The museum , also , gives credit to its biggest donor the neurobiologist Jean-Pierre Changeux, that gave it about 50 portraits and about 20 engravings.  You will see a huge herborist collection of 18 volumes given to the museum by him in the 19C.  In the Chapel , the town has put enclosed glass furniture with archeological items like a collar on shells from the Black Sea dating from  4 000 years BC.  A room is dedicated to portraits representing Bossuet.  The museum is concentrated with paintings from the 17C to the 19C, and has on display between 1000 and 1500 works. Hours are from 10h to 12h and 14h to 17h , closed Sunday mornings, Mondays, and Tuesdays all day.

The official page for the Musée Bossuethttps://www.musee-bossuet.fr/

There you go folks, Meaux ,a nice town really! off the beaten path it is but what a punch it carries in the history of France! And now all around the most visited places in France, good for the whole family. You should give yourselves a shot of encountering it. You will be surprise, and I hope you enjoy the post.

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

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December 30, 2020

Always wonderful Paris, as eternal as ever!!!

Ok so this one is a black and white memory in my blog that I like to update on links especially. It has been a great ride updating these old posts lots of memories good cheers and strength to go on! Of course, no need to introduce you Paris ,it has a special place in my blog. Enjoy it as it is eternal as ever!

And as usual it was another time to Paris for me. I lost count, nowdays every month; worked in the city for 9 years; and cannot ever get enough of it. Just the very mention of the word PARIS , bring out the best in me. I am not going into a long speech, the city has enough written and spoken on it by millions; and even with its up and downs still is a movable feast ::) Paris forever, eternal, it never ceased to amazed me. I am just lucky enough to have worked in it and now able to visit every month at least once!!!

I made a quick usual business visit this time one day roundtrip TGV train from Vannes to Montparnasse!!  You know the usual sites, and what most do not know  ,is that the famous TGV is always late on the Atlantique run!!! 25 minutes going and 45 minutes coming back!! yikes!!! On the way back it was very funny after all, my wagon should be 8 but it had 18 on it, and everybody was hesitant of getting on….we all looked around like if you dare…go. Now these are all savvy TGV travelers mostly French if not all on business hours.

I needed to get up early to get the TGV at Vannes by 5h55 (5:55am) and once in Montparnasse, took the metro line 6 to Bir Hakeim to meet with my boss and colleague.  Do not like metro/subways/tube, mine is above ground always. However, for the meeting very early on, and meeting at a cafe by the exit the metro was it. Line 6 is a line that goes above ground after all so not so bad indeed.  I arrived late thanks to the TGV but enough for the meeting.

We met at the Comptoir Principal , we were there only for a cup of coffee once early in the morning and another on the way out in the late afternoon as my boss chose it. However, the service was fast courteous and from what visitors are saying it seems a good place to be. I did stop by myself later on for an apéro! This is just around the Tour Eiffel where our office meetings is. Webpage: https://www.comptoirprincipal.com/

As I was there later on, was able to take my leasure walks alone the Seine river by the Tour Eiffel. OMG, oh my God, things has change so much, me not in the tower since 2005 lol!! but they have put security barriers to get in and out so sad. They won’t get me in soon there!

The Seine river is always magical, and was able to see my favorite boat ride ever, the Bateaux Parisiens right there.  Many memorable rides and my first boat ride ever back in 1990 with what would be later my dear wife.  Metro line 6 is interesting as said because it is above ground and you get to see the magic of Paris above ground. Overlooking over the Seine is a must in Paris for all.

Impressive as it was, there was time for lunch and again my meeting lunch was at the nice Villa Verdi Italian restaurant. Very friendly , got even to practice on my Italian a bit ::) There , I had escalope de dinde in pâte bolognaise or something like breaded cheese turkey with pasta and meat. there was a chocolate pudding in amaretto dessert and coffee expresso, the drink was a nice Italian red Santa Cristina Chianti Superiori 2015; very nice indeed. Again very good reviews by all. Again by the Tour Eiffel area! webpage: https://www.villaverdi.fr/en/

On the way back , after the beforementioned round of coffee at the Comptoir Principal; went around to say hello some old American friend from Paris before getting back into Ave de Suffren to get bus 82 to Montparnasse. Now this is the best deal many do not use, for the price of a metro ticket you can see the beauty of Paris passing by the very nice Avenue Suffren, into the Ecole Militaire, then passing by the Church Saint Louis (Invalides) before rejoining the blvd Montparnasse into the train station bus terminal.  The trip took and always does the same time as the metro line 6 and if off rush hours it goes quicker !!! Tested time and time again by yours truly. The RATP map of bus 82 here:  https://www.ratp.fr/plans-lignes/busratp/82

At the end the Tour Montparnasse always omnipresent and beautiful, and I worked here near it for a while. The entrance to the glass modern looking Gare Montparnasse train station is nice. Inside, my stop for a refreshement is the Brasserie Océane on the grandes lignes TGV platform and live music entertainment most often too. They are remodeling the brasserie and only the terrace is open but still the best place to be at Montparnasse. Many memorable moments here even arranging meeting with collegues!! I have learned sadly that the restaurant is gone! Like I said, many nice memories here even having a cold one waiting for my train! It will be here for the memories of always.

I got to my free parking at Vannes train station and my car as always was there for the final trip home where the family was waiting for me. The trip was over andn tomorrow my  twins boys are 24 years young!!  Then, a trip to near Mont Saint Michel tomorrow will see the time and what can I come up with.

Hope you enjoy the story, and post, and looking forward to be back to Paris! And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

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December 29, 2020

México DF is back and just in time!

And I am updating this memorable and sad trip nothing to do with Mexico. I have come here many times over the years, north and south. This is my updates revisions of older posts in my blog. Hope you enjoy the trip and I will always remembered.

Well I am back after a nice trip to Mexico, partially done. The trip was to include trips around Mexico city (DF) and into near Guadalajara and Mérida but with all that was going on there due to the earthquake and flooding ,we kept it short just to the city.

I had another crazy trip going first from Nantes to Amsterdam on HOP the regional French carrier who was totally late missing my connection with KLM there at Schiphol. The flight was delayed due to fog for almost 1,5 hours!!! no way to get any flights on a Saturday to needed to stay at a hotel and flight back the next day Sunday. Yikes!!! I do not think will be on HOP again. It’s Air France idea of low cost but not working at least for me.

The rest was nice as KLM gave me a nice shuttle bus ride to the Bastion Best Western hotel with dinner, breakfast included all free; then a 10€ voucher for lunch on Sunday. The return shuttle bus was nice also. Schiphol,  I have been before and always lateness there do not understand why going around you need to fly north and then south !!! The Schiphol airport of Amsterdam claim to be an excellent transfer airport but to me has always been late there!!

The BW Bastion Hotel, I stayed complement of KLM webpage: https://www.bastionhotels.com/en-gb/hotels/hotel-amsterdam-airport

My Sunday KLM flight to Mexico City (DF) airport or Benito Juarez was excellent ride and on time. Once arrival, I was picked up rather nicely by a car and driver service to take me to my hotel in a nice area of the city corner of Insurgentes Sur  and Mercaderes; the City Express  Plus Hotel. The best of it is the location, but not a hotel for a family visit more so business trip is ok. webpage: https://www.cityexpress.com/en/plus/hotels-mexico/ciudad-de-mexico/benito-juarez/insurgentes-sur

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My office building where I was visiting has a gorgeous view over the city from our 19 floor office and seeing again the Diablos Rojos Mexico city baseball stadium was nice; I have seen games in it several years back. As well as the very nice Teatro de los Insurgentes theater always nice memories (see post).

However, as always, the best part is to meet old friends ,always there when I stop by the city , former colleagues of many years we counted by now 20 years and still going strong.  I had gone to the Wing’s Army bar on Insurgentes Sur to see the football/soccer match between the PSG and Bayern Munich as a French team was playing and won 3×0, the ambiance was nice and plenty of good Miller High Life beers by the liter which have been a long time not drank again, this was neat and the Army hamburger great with good company even better. Webpage: http://wingsarmy.com/mx/

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Later in the evening I met my friends mentioned above, and figuring out a place to go in the area as they are from outskirts of the city I told them about the La Bella Luna and interested all went there. It was great loud music and great selection of beers I tried the Pacifico beers with Enchiladaas de Mole Negro delicious and plenty of more beers. It seems to be a nice place for an after work/happy hour/apéro meeting of friends! webpage: https://labellalula.com/Branch

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Finally, I have to give you a simple great Argentinian cuts steakhouse call El Diego. This was the best dinner of the trip with great bife de chorizo beef steaks and nice Negra Modelo beers, great wooded dining room and views over Insurgentes Sur, nice street and great people watcher spot! A must to return next time. Facebook page not verify if still open. https://www.facebook.com/El-Diego-M%C3%A9xico-1391939824422613/

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At the short end, I was given a nice trip back by the same car driver and not too congested Mexico city. This time I took Air France all the way , just a small delay to start the rest was flawless thru Paris CDG and Nantes where my reliable car is always waiting to get back home. Until next trip next month.Hope you enjoy the above post

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

PS. I like to tell you all of a terrible bad news I had upon my return. My dear wife Martine was doing tests and they came back she has cancer of the pancreas advance. She will start chemotherapy in the next weeks and of course seeking alternatives, she still young. Great mother excellent wife I am very sad but taken it one day at a time and hopefully with the help of God she will remain longer than normal for these diseases of hell. Thank you for your prayers. 7 months later she passed away at the CHBA Vannes hospital on April 30 2018 19H or 7pm. My worst momen.t in life and still very much hurts.

December 29, 2020

Real Madrid CF, the world’s best!!

I wrote this article back in January 2011 in my blog, and need to update. Once in a while I dwell away from my travels and this is one big hobby of mine, a fanatic!!! The game of football/soccer/calcio has taken me to meet many good people over the years and visited many countries with stories of the game. Lucky me also played and socio member of the greatest club in history, the Real Madrid CF. Let me tell you the story ok; hope you enjoy as I.

I will be talking about something personal, it is my club since my 13 year!, and had written before but never really had the initiative to write something about its history and accomplishments until now. As written all over my blog and proud of ,I lived in Madrid for four years between 1970 to 1974, and played for the Real Madrid in baseball, volleyball ,and football/soccer in the infantil (12-13 yrs) division. Once a Madridista, always a Madridista to the grave. There is no other team club alike in the history of the game of football/soccer. Simply the best and still been recognised as such. Best Club of the 20 century by FIFA, best club of the 20 century by IFFHS in Europe, and recently voted by the Dubai Globe Soccer Awards as so far 2000-2020 best club of the 21 century!

I was just a young kid that was introduced to the organisation by a baseball umpire to play for their junior baseball team at the parque de la Elipa, from my home at Calle de Alcalà, Quintana neighborhood or barrio in the district of Ciudad Lineal;  it was just a bus P13 (now name the 113) to it. While there, friends used to go to see the team different sports, and  played, Ciudad Deportiva (the old one by the paseo de la Castellana now has four skyrises call the four towers.

While going to these games, some kids who were already on the different sports organisations and had played football with me in parks like parque Calero and Retiro ,asked me to come to the Ciudad Deportiva installations for a tryout that was open. With the help of my baseball contacts that included member “socios” of the Real Madrid football team I got my first tryouts. Before long, I too, was wearing the white shirt of the football team, and move up from benjamin to alevin status. Those were wonderful memories even if just what is left is memories. Never forget that day in 1972 when I first enter the Real Madrid CF . Unfortunately, times were different then and me poorer so no camera no pictures just memories in my mind forever.

From then on it has been a love affaire wherever I may be living, trying for all means to obtain news of the team, and enjoying every second of my visits to the city from 1977 on to today. I am active in several forums that talks about the team, and go to the stadium often in season to see football and basketball games from Vistalegre to Caja Magica to Valdebebas to Santiago Bernabeu, and now the Wizink Center. The old readers of Spain will know the trail!

A bit of history I like

The team was born out of educators who sat around and found a club in 1897 in the Vallecas barrio or neighborhood. Quickly it became more organised by several of the members of the team in 1901 and eventually  Julian Palacios as first President officially  registered the club in 1902 as the Madrid Foot-Ball Club. By 1920 the king Alfonso XIII give it the royal rank of Real or Royal as he was a follower too ::) ,and honorary member =socio. From June 1920 it became the Real Madrid CF that we know today. The team participated in the first Spanish league organised in 1929 finishing in second place.  The first league came on this period in the 1931-32 season, the first title !

The greatest period came after the Spanish Civil War when on September 15 , 1943 when ex player and ex coach ,Santiago Bernabeu was named President of the club. After organising an international tournament in Colombia in 1952, they saw what was in 1953 their greatest signing that of Alfredo Di Stefano( Argentina) , considered by many the world’s greatest player , as well as the Spanish Francisco “paco” Gento from Santander and the league championship came back to the Real Madrid in the 1953-54 season.  They were the start of an amazing run of Five European Cups in a row (record) .  With player like Amancio and Velazquez the club again wins the European Cup in 1966 while continuing to pile up Ligas and Cups at home, these were the Ye-Ye years . The sad news came in June 2nd 1978 with the passing of Don Santiago Bernabeu, (to note his wife was from Camagüey Cuba!)  the greatest president ever, and today the stadium bears his name as well as the metro stop to it on line 10.

The team follow with the 80’s “la Quinta del Buitre” nickname given to Emilio Butragueño as well as Mexican Hugo Sanchez (Hugol), and many more Ligas however no European Cup. The team from the farm system delighted many and remains one of the most popular periods in the club history even without winning an European championship.  The team continue to wins Ligas in the 90’s with the incorporation of perennial and crowd favorite Raul Gonzalez Blanco, probably the best player ever from the farm system. Finally in 1998 , the team came back to win again its trophy , the European Cup now call Champions league. In 1999 the great coach and former player Vicente del Bosque arrive promoting to the first team the legendary goalkeeper Iker Casillas ,and with it winning again the Champions league in 2000.

With the election of 2000, a new president came into being the entrepreneur Florentino Perez, ;this was the so call Galactic era, where millionaires dotting shorts and representing the Real Madrid razzle dazzle the world without any title in Europe but huge pay checks from uncle Florentino (too enterprise and little football not my favorite) . Leagues or ligas were won but not sufficient due to the expenditures made. Another Champions league was won in 2002 with player like Figo, Zidane,Ronaldo, and Beckham. The chosen successor made it look like an election was Ramon Calderon who created many administrative problems for the club,and was made to resigned in 2009. Ironically, it was Florentino Perez who replaced him single handily without opposition due to no changes in the club by laws where the rich wins, and the second Galactic era began with signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, the signing from England of Spaniard Xabi Alonso and from France Karim Benzema all very expensive contracts and no titles.

The 2010-2013 seasons of Real Madrid were under new coach Jose Mourinho allows the club to play La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League after a white season. However, only winning the Copa del Rey or King’s Cup. The 2013-2015 were under coach Carlo Ancelotti, Rafa Benitez 2015-2016, Zinadine Zidane 2016-2018 (from France and 3 consecutive Champions league, a record!) ,then Julen Lopetegui, Santiago Solari and finally back to Zinadine Zidane from 2019 to present.

Nevertheless, the club is the most winning club in the history of the sport in Spain and abroad regardless of the so call media frenzy of popular teams with a lot less history due to ever increasing publicity and media manipulation.  The Santiago Bernabeu stadium was built in 1947, with a capacity of  80 354 spectators today. The new Real Madrid sport city or Ciudad Deportiva is today at Valdebebas just outside Madrid and the basketball arena is the WiZink Center (before Caja Magica and before Vistalegre). See my posts on them, the Santiago Bernabeu stadium is now undergoing a huge renovation which will include amongst other things a covered declinable roof!

The club has participated in all 88 season of Spanish first division football, and has won 34 Ligas, by far the most. The player who has obtained the most titles with the club are Francisco Gento 23, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo 22, and Manuel Sanchis with 21 titles, and the player with most games is Raul Gonzalez Blanco with 741 games and then Iker Casillas with 725 games. The best scorer has been Cristiano Ronaldo with 450 goals, and then Raul with 323 goals. The most games by an international player is still Karim Benzema so far 529 games all inclusive. I must add Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, and Karim Benzema are still playing on the club!

These are the Real Madrid CF club titles:

Spanish Liga Champions (34): 1931/32, 1932/33, 1953/54, 1954/55,1956/57, 1957/58, 1960/61, 1961/62, 1962/63, 1963/64, 1964/65, 1966/67, 1967/68, 1968/69, 1971/72, 1974/75, 1975/76, 1977/78, 1978/79, 1979/80, 1985/86, 1986/87, 1987/88, 1988/89, 1989/90, 1994/95, 1996/97, 2000/01, 2002/03, 2006/07, 2007/08.2012/13; 2017/18 and 2019/20.

Vice Champion of the Liga  (23): 1928/29, 1933/34, 1934/35, 1935/36, 1941/42, 1944/45, 1958/59, 1959/60, 1965/66, 1980/81, 1982/83, 1983/84, 1991/92, 1992/93, 1998/99, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2008/09, 2009/10. 2011/12   2013/14 2015/16; 2016/17.

Copa del Rey or Kings Cup or Spain (19): 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1917, 1934, 1936, 1946, 1947, 1962, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1980, 1982, 1989, 1993.2011. 2014.

Vice Champions of the Kings Cup or Spain (20): 1903, 1916, 1918, 1924, 1929,1930,1933,1940,1943,1958, 1959/60, 1960/61, 1967/68, 1978/79 , 1983, 1990, 1992, 2001, 2003. 2013.

Super Cup of Spain (11): 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2008. 2012.2017.2020.

vice Champion Super Cup of Spain (5): 1982, 1995, 2007, 2011; 2014.

League Cup (1): 1985.  vice Champion League Cup  (1): 1983.  Eva Duarte Cup (1):1947.

Regional Championships and Community trophies (23) 1904/05, 1905/06, 1906/07, 1907/08, 1909/10, 1912/13, 1915/16, 1916/17, 1917/18, 1919/20, 1921/22,1922/23,1923/24, 1926/26, 1927/28 ,1929/30,1930/31, 1932/33, 1933/34, 1934/35, 1935/36.

On the International scene just the same as good thank you!

Champions League  (13): 1955-56, 1956-57, 1957-58, 1958-59, 1959-60, 1965-66, 1997-98, 1999-00, 2001-02. 2013/14 ; 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18.

vice Champions Champions League (3) 1962 , 1964 ; 1981

 UEFA Cup (2): 1984/85, 1985/86.

Super Cup of UEFA (4): 2002, 2014;2016; 2017. Vice Champions Super Cup of UEFA (3) 1998 , 2000, 2018.

Intercontinental Cup (3): 1960,1998,2002.  Vice Champion Intercontinental Cup  (2): 1966,2000

World Club Champions FIFA (4) 2014 2016 2017 2018

Vice Champion European Cup of Cups  (2): 1971,1983

Ibero American Cup  (1): 1994. Latin Cup(2): 1955, 1957.  Club Small World Cup  (2): 1952, 1956.

The team has an immense farm system factory or Fàbrica, that allows to maintain teams in many divisions and with excellent championship records as well such as the Real Madrid-Castilla, and  teams in every division of Spain. It ,also has an excellent basketball section with 9 times champions of Europe. They played in the ACB league.

A bit of history on the Real Madrid basketball section. My second team ::)

The Real Madrid basketball section was born on March 8, 1931 following an advertisement in a Spanish daily, ABC, inviting all gentlemen interested in playing basketball to join the club. Raimundo Saporta is part of a commission, also comprising the Yugoslav Borislav Stanković, the French Robert Busnel, the Czech Miloslav Kriz and the Soviet Nikolai Semasko, who during the European Championships in 1957, invited the national federations to participate in their national champions in a competition which began in 1958 and for which the newspaper L’Équipe (France) provided the trophy. This is the Basketball version of the Champions league of football.

Some of the better known players at least to me were Clifford Luyk who wore the white jersey from 1961 to 1978 and took part in Real Madrid first six triumphs on the European scene. Another American, Wayne Brabender, the Spanish pivot Fernando Martín Espina , and Emiliano Rodríguez. There are newer players today like Sergio Llul, Felipe Reyes, Carroll, Randolph , and Tavares. As far as coaches, my favorites were Pedro Ferrándiz, who coached the club for four periods, from 1955 to 1957, then from 1959 to 1962, 1964 to 1965 and finally from 1966 to 1975, is the coach who has contributed the most to enriching the list. Under his leadership, Real won four Champion Clubs’ Cups in 1965, 1967, 1968 and 1974. eleven championship titles and eleven Spanish cups. Lolo Sainz (1975-1994) , Ettore Messina, and the current Pablo Laso.

These are the Real Madrid CF basketball club titles:

Spanish League Champion (35): 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1993, 1994, 2000, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019

Spanish Cup Champion (28): Copa del Generalísimo: 1951, 1952, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, Copa del Rey, King’s Cup: 1977, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1993, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2020.

Champions of the Spanish Supercup (7): 1985, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Champion of the European Champion Clubs’ Cup – Euroleague: 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1974, 1978, 1980, 1995, 2015, 2018.

Intercontinental Cup /World Cup Champion: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981; 2015

ULEB Cup champion: 2007.  Saporta ReCopa of Europe Champion: 1984, 1989, 1992, 1997.  Korać Cup  champion: 1988. Champion of the Latina Cup: 1952-1953.  Champion of Torneo Internacional ACB: 1984, 1988, 1989.

And the story does not stop here, the sky is the limit, we want them all!!! You want to see the best football/soccer, basketball in Europe come to Madrid, Spain and see my Real Madrid CF!!! Enjoy the this post, and the many others on my team in my blog!

Some webpages to help you recognise the wonderful history of the Real Madrid clubs are

The official Real Madrid club webpagehttps://www.realmadrid.com/en

If you want to be part of the family, then become a Madridista here : https://www.realmadrid.com/aficion/madridistas/internacionales

If you want to shop online or find the store in Madrid webpage: http://www.realmadridshop.com/stores/realmadrid/default.aspx

The usual layout for ticketing was to go on avenida Concha Espina puerta or door 55 or the calle Carmen 3 near Sol in city center, metro sol. It will be interesting to know how the store at the stadium will be once completely renovated as ongoing.

If you want to buy official ticket online ahead of games and pick up yours at the stadium, very easy then see the official webpage: https://www.realmadrid.com/en/tickets

If you want to discuss in Spanish the latest trends in Spanish football and especially the Real Madrid join me in this forum Foro Real Madrid at webpage: https://fororealmadrid.com/index.php

For the best sport journal in Spain and extensive coverage of football following since 1972,  see AS (you can have it in English too go to sports heading top right) webpage:http://www.as.com/

There you go folks, now I feel better,updated and clear text me think for you. Enjoy the post and more so the Real Madrid CF!

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

December 29, 2020

When France is on strike ,the world shakes !!!

And here need to update this one so special and sentimental. Always a life of good things and one bad set you back to zero! That is life, nice but short. Hope you enjoy this post as much as I. France enjoy strikes ,its a democratic Republican will , right, that many find hard to understand when not from diverse dynamic countries like France.

Indeed this is a national pastime , I am convince. Here in my belle France going on strike looks like a party a great event to be out ,and to tell each other of the mess we found in our days at work or travel. I have stories but they seem so natural and so routine that I seldom mentioned them. Now is time to tell at least one.  I had my trip to Cap d’Ail  (see post) just in the border with Monaco for this past weekend and early week. It seems a natural simple trip until…..monsieur madame Gréve decided to intervene.

I took my usual leisure drive with my car on the N165 road to the airport at Nantes Atlantique, it was first blocked by a huge accident and long lines of traffic jams , but luckily I left much early with plenty of time, even thus needed to rush to the gate at gate 42 to take my Easyjet flight to Nice Côte-d’Azur airport.  The flight was flawless even still complaint about the lack of food and paying for anything extra you want, not my kind of airline but……you know.  I arrive at the airport of Nice by 14h40 or 2:40 pm.

I headed to the Avis car rental counter where I was asked to choose a car so decide to pick a Fiat big wagon, can’t even recall the model name lol!!! Once out of Terminal 2 to the Car Rental Center, was a bit difficult to find the spot J21 ,so needed to ask an attendant, fine. I had purchase a GPS package knowing all these corniches (very tight turns hilly roads ) here and not been back in a long while. Finally, got into my car and put on the GPS to reach the closest final destination Port du Cap d’Ail.  Well , this is like a fortress to get out me think, and I do quite a bit of car rentals here (found out some of my collegues found it so as well reassuring not alone lol!). It took me two round trip tours inside the car park and asked an attendant again to finally get my car out of the car rental parking lot going thru security gates and ticket machines and al. Amazing control….!! And this is a small airport! I guess I do better at the bigger ones lol!

Nice

Nice

And I was on the road, the GPS worked very nicely ,indeed.  But it directed me to the expressway A8, really want to go all the way on the M6007 but already a bit tired of the turns and the desire to reach destination opted for the easy directions on the A8.  This is a toll road twice for a total of 3,90€ each way. The tolls station can take cash coins and credit/debit cards and you can ask for a receipt on a green or red button.  I reach my hotel on the spot, no problems at all. This was the Marriott but on that see my previous post. There was underground parking ,nice for 25€ per day and the cars underneath were awesome !

1nice-a8-en-route-out-airport-nice-to-cap-oct17

Now the headache was on the way back fron Cap d’Ail. I left the hotel alright with my GPS but this time it took me into Monaco where the famous regular police check point asked me for my papers just routine and nice manners; we need these.

I already knew by email alert my flight on AF return by Orly then Nantes on October 10th was cancelled due to the air controllers strike on the day in addition to others. So rather than risk an extended strike, decided to change my flight to come back on the 9th October.  The drop off car rental was nice and got on my T2 terminal at Nice.  The flight was to leave at 17h30 and reach Orly terminal Ouest or west by 18h55. However, the flight was delayed on Air France and missed my connection at Orly Ouestv (West)! Wow here began the fun. Missed flight and the strike starting officially the employees of the airline were busy and the people screaming for quicker service….me included lol!!!

Nice

All flights to Nantes were gone and there was no more schedule because it would fall after 22h and the strike was officially started.  Therefore, after much negotiations with the AF staff, they book me on a flight to Lorient; nearer me and know the airport if you can call that ….

The cries of passengers to find connections was frenetic and loud , and the airline employees were doing their best to get them out before the strike, even losing money which indeed with me they did.  The gates were changing ,and some cancellation posted on the board, sure was to be many passengers stranded. I heard my colleague was robbed of their suitcase in city center/downtown Nice!! and other colleagues were attack by knife and hospitalize while doing some tourism in Marseille. Just to top it all off for the day.

Then, I said to them, wait my car is at the Nantes airport covered parking! and would reach Lorient airport by midnight (which did ). The employee of AF got to work again for me, (I am Sky team gold member); and told me there would be a taxi at Lorient waiting for me to take to Nantes about 1h43m away and AF will cover the bill!!! Wonderful. The fly was done on a ATR 42/72 two propellers airplane that serve as a taxi to get passengers out of Orly , one group landed like me at Lorient and the plane will take off again to drop another group in Quimper !!!

1lorient-airport-arrival-orly-night-oct17

Me at Lorient a bit past 10pm or 22h the taxi was waiting for me. The guy was a nice talkative type and we had a great trip, it was saying talking the trip goes faster ,indeed. We discussed the world and try to fix it hehehe!!! and figure out he likes Spain and scuba diving but it’s more into rugby then football/soccer…oh well .I reach the covered parking at Nantes airport by midnight.

My car was waiting for me to take me home. The ride out was fine and the road was empty, arriving home a bit past 2am or 02h00. At least, I made it back very tired but glad to be home and now can watch the news on the strike; even the nurses are on strike not enough paid and support  see life is a routine here. The teachers too, not enough staff, we seems to have a bunch of complainers not realizing why 90 millions people come to us to indulge themselves of our way of life !!!

The Nice airport: https://en.nice.aeroport.fr/

The Nantes airport: https://www.nantes.aeroport.fr/fr

The good thing it is my last trip by airplane of the year and my time will be taken with the family and taking care of my dear wife Martine illness (see post); we go to Rennes to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Enjoy your week and keep safe in the airwaves!

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

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