Archive for December 24th, 2020

December 24, 2020

Madrid: Santa Maria la Real Catedral de la Almudena!!!

And here I will update something wonderful in my dear Madrid. It is not the oldest, but huge in meaning and a must to visit while passing by Madrid. It is simply known as the Almudena Cathedral but its official name is Santa Maria la Real Catedral de la Almudena!!! I find great joy in updating this post for all of us, hope you too enjoy it as I. The original post was from our visit in February 2017.


Ok so with time on a Sunday evening time to write about something that was in Madrid after I left from my living time there, and saw afterward while visiting the city.  I have written on it in another post ,but this one was the first. I am talking about the Santa Maria la Real Catedral de la Almudena, next to the Royal Palace in Madrid. As everything there it is monumental and richly decorated. As you walk along Calle Mayor from the Plaza Mayor and you reach the Royal Palace or Palacio Real you can just look to your left and can’t missed it. Impressive view indeed!


This is church of 104 meters long and 76 meters wide with a mix of architecture styles from neo classic in the exterior to neo roman in the interior and neo gothic in the crypt. It was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in his fourth trip to Spain in June 15 1993. It is the first Spanish Catedral consecrated by a Pope!!

A bit of history I like

There have been a desired to built a cathedral here going back to the 16C during the reign of king Felipe II. He chose Madrid as his capital. However, the Diocese of Toledo held that right and refuse to change it for many years. It was not until April 4, 1883 that king Alfonso XII finally laid the first stone of a church of what would be later the Cathedral of Madrid. The idea was just to rebuilt a church to replace the Church of Santa Maria de la Almudena, the oldest in Madrid,  destroyed by fire in 1868. It was built on land ceded in 1879 by Royal heritage of the Queen Maria Mercedes , a devotee of the Virgin of the Almudena, that had died prematurely.

In 1885, Pope Leon XIII decide by a pontifical decree to built a diocese in Madrid so putting an end to the opposition of the archbishops of Toledo. The draft of the new diocese took place in the Church of Saint Isidro until the cathedral was completed.

A bit on the construction of the Almudena Cathedral.

The exterior of the Almudena Cathedral has as a main nave dome a height of 32 meters a lot more than the 12 meters between the axe of its columns. The dome is gothic in style seen from the interior but baroque from the exterior. It is covered in stone and tiles with an octagonal drum and its four large windows with a small lantern below it. The dome is decorated with 12 statues representing the 12 apostles.

The two towers on the façade , the one on the right is known by the name of Mariana or of Gallegos (Galicians) as the bells were offered by the Galician’s. Both have Marianne names on each tower such as Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena, Santa Maria de la Paloma, Santa Maria de Atocha, and Santa Maria de la Flor de Lis. On the left tower that gives to the Calle Bailén you find the ringing carillon or bell.

The interior of the Almudena Cathedral can be said it is of Latin Cross design consisting of a nave and two wide side halls with three naves. A curve ambulatory with five radical chapels. The altar table is green marble and located in the center of the transept. To the right of it is the Episcopal chair, gothic lines carved in walnut in 1885. Behind the main altar ,you see the chairs of the presbytery with a crucified sculpture of Christ in baroque style done in 1620.


The Virgin of La Almudena the patron saint of Madrid  has its altar in the transept of the right aisle, opposite the entrance by calle de Bailén. It is a high altar, which can be accessed by two side staircases with bronze handrail. The original sculpture, representing the Virgin with the child in her arms is an image of Gothic style carved in wood. It is positioned in the central niche of the altarpiece, done by the end of the 15C.



You will see about 18 portraits representing scenes from the life of Jesus and Mary with gentle pleasant colors, most of neo gothic style. The image of the Virgin is elevated on a pedestal of silver from the 17C, with candles and glares of the same material. The central chapel on the ambulatory is dedicated to San Isidro Labrador and his wife Santa Maria de la Cabeza ,whose image is of baroque polychrome carving from the 17-18C ; the funeral coffins are from the 13C. The Chapels on the aisle are dedicated to contemporary Saints such as Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer, decorated with sculpture reliefs. Others are Santo Venancio Blanco, Santo Mari Micael of the Blessed Sacrament ; Marian de Jesus de la Providencia, San Maravilla de Jesus, San Angel de la Cruz, San Vicente de Paula, San Luis de Marilla, San Pedro Poveda, Santa Maria Soledad Torre, Santa Maria Josefa del Corazon de Jesus. All are organise and decorated with images in contemporary style furniture for the most part. At the food of the altar you have a chapel of petinance and the baptismal chapel in white marble from the 18C.


The Almudena Cathedral organ is located in the high choir at the foot of the nave back and was done with four keyboards ,pedal keyboard with mechanical and electrical links featuring 16 line pipes with the largest at 11 pipes high. 21 on line pipes for a playing keyboard , and a pedal with 3 more.


It has ever since built, closely link to the Spanish Royal Family. In November 8 2000, was buried under the altar of the Virgin Mary, the Queen Maria de las Mercedes de Orleans, first wife of king Alfonso XII, whose remains were at El Escorial until the completion of the Cathedral. On May 22 2004, it was the scene of the marriage of Prince of Asturias Felipe of Borbon with Letizia Ortiz . On August 20, 2011, the Pope Benedict XVI became the second Pope to visit the Cathedral where he presided over Mass within the events of the XXVI World Youth Day. It was, also, the site of State ceremonies such as the funeral of former Presidents Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo in 2008 and Adolfo Suarez in 2014 (the forerunner of the Democracy movement we see today in Spain).

The official webpage of the Almudena Cathedral in Spanish:

It is a must to see in Madrid and a great souvenir of your visit. Do not forget to see the museum (next to Cathedral) , and the Chapel of the Bishop (plaza de la paja s/n) , and the Crypt at Calle Mayor 90 ( need ask to see it at 12h or midday) , open Mondays to Saturdays from 10h to 14h30 only. Normal adult admission is 6€. ticket office is in the main façade of the Cathedral facing the Palacio Real, metro Opera lines 2 and 5 or bus 3 and 148 stop at Calle  Mayor corner with Calle Bailén.


The official webpage of the museum /Chapel, and Crypt in Spanish:

The Madrid tourist office on the Almudena Cathedral in English:

A private site in French! Monuments de Madrid, but very good on info , pictures and videos of the Almudena Cathedral:

Hope you enjoy the post on the Almudena Cathedral of my dear Madrid . It is a dear must to visit, and the area around it is fantastic with the Royal Palace, Sabatini garden, Royal Opera, and to the left the Basilica San Francisco el Grande, (see posts) ,all wonderful things to see in my dear Madrid.

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

Tags: , ,
December 24, 2020

Nice Guidel!!

This is another beach town in my beautiful Morbihan, there is a Guidel bourg or town and a Guidel plage or beach. We have come here several times and have other posts in my blog. However, wanted to redo this one as resto change and nice memories with the family. Hope you enjoy a bit of sunshine in already cold Morbihan.

We were on our road warrior mode moving right along the coast. We continue for a leisure ride back into the N165 direction Guidel and its beaches. Taking exit 45 at Guidel road D306 direction Guidel you are in town in 15 minutes! We pass by the town to see our old hangouts by car and continue to Guidel Plage or beach along the same road D306 here we stop for lunch at a picturesque stop on the bay along the road D152 several restaurants overlooking the shallow waters of the bay coming in from the ocean.

In Guidel bourg or town, you have a nice Church Saint Pierre et Saint Paul in place Polignac city center,  surrounded by shops ,restos, and parking !

We ate at La Plage (now new management under Ty Beach or breton english of la plage) a resto pizzeria place with a nice fish and chips , Britt Breton blonde beers, coffee and sweets combination or café gourmand , and the other had from chorizo and mussels to four cheese pizza to more fish and chips all with the same beer or desperados and the same café gourmand coming to 22.50€ per person reasonable for a beach town with a view overlooking a nice terrace. It is by the beach Le Bas Pouldu. And this new place , which not visited yet due to the virus, keep the old name and pictures for the family memories, the new ty beach webpage:




The town of Guidel plage or beach is better known to surfers but good for the whole family with shallow water and playground for kiddies; two big section of games and restos ,one by Le Bas Pouldu and the other by plage de la Falaise or cliffs beach.

For the beaches this is a site I use here that is pretty good info , plages tv ; have it on Guidel:

The city of Guidel is famous for it’s surfing mecca; more info here:

Along the beach boulevard road D152 you arrive at Fort Bloqué, (see post) a nice stretch of sandy beach and the great fortress built in 1748,  that like yesterday in low tide you can walk to it! Can’t go in thus, it is a private property! This is already part of the adjacent town of Ploemeur, (see post) more info the beach here that is public.

On the way back, well, we did our groceries right there in Guidel at the Super U supermarket. Just coming back up on road D306 or route des plages direction Lorient. Nice clean store, and friendly service all ready for beachgoers and al.

And this was a nice family short trip along our wonderful coastal town of Guidel, another dandy in the Morbihan breton! Hope you enjoy the ride and keep it in mind for beach time summers.

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

December 24, 2020

Vannes, the tunnel and the Gulf of Morbihan!

And here I am again updating revising one my fav cities , of course, capital of dept 56 Morbihan, this is Vannes or Gwened in Breton language of my lovely Bretagne! As you know if reading my posts, I work in Vannes just outside in a castle from 1504 !! So the city is like a second home to me! And one city left intact from the ravages of wars!!

The city is rich in history and architecture as well as a great maritime tradition. The canal into the pleasure marina in Le  Port can hold 3000 boats and falls into the Gulf of Morbihan and the Gare Maritime passenger boat terminal to the islands. The Gulf of Morbihan is one of the most beautiful bays in the world by many publications including Condé Nast and Great Bays.

Every year in May, the Semaine du Golfe or the Gulf’s week, is full of sea sailing activities . The next one will be May 10 to 16 2021. Its a great event and crowds from all over even abroad come in. The official webpage:

The Gulf of Morbihan, Vannes tourist office on water activities:

This is local site Les ïles du Golfe du Morbihan  in French but complete on the islands in the Gulf of Morbihan :

There are many wonderful art expo center, one that always catches my eye passing by often is the Hotel de Limur (see post) on 31, Rue Thiers just near Le Port and not far from the Hôtel de Ville/city hall.  It has three floors and a French garden in the back; inside it has a grand white marble stairs style Louis XIII built by 1685 , and it was here that the Breton émigrés or immigrant from England who came back to fight for monarchy and sentence to death all remaining 795 of them were judge revolutionary style (the remains are in the Chartreuse d’Auray) .  The Limur family takes over in 1820 and held on to the building until 1947; when it becomes prôperty of the city and the fine arts museum is housed here from 1955 to 1968 ,and even today is in charge of its upkeep. Many temporary exhibitions are held here.

The real thrill today was finally see and ride the tunnel under the Gulf of Morbihan that connects both end of the bay from Vannes to Séné is now open. Before it was a bridge (pont de Kerino) that had to be raise and lower for boats now no more and the traffic is much smoother. This city of Vannes tells you down the line a bit more on the Kérino bridge


This is a short youtube video on its first ride enjoy it

The old bridge will be dismantled phase out and all will be on the new tunnel allowing 20000 vehicules to past by it nicely with cycling and pedestrians passageways as well! Of course, the view on the bay will be lost oh well we cannot have it all. For the road warrior in me ,the tunnel is great and tested wonderfully.

So I am happy to have tried the tunnel and been one of the first one, and ahead of the local authorities on their webpages yahuuoo ::) Now enjoy it when in the area and if by let me know , the Morbihan is tops and the only department in France without a French name , you know it, Breton all the way, Mor=sea bihan=small or petite mer or small sea or Morbihan!!

Oh yes forgot , did when to the market in Vannes by place du poids public and visit my Nicolas wine store, it’s the Foire aux vins or wine fair going on and we load up, walking the cartons back to the car parked for 40cents in Place de la Libération ::)   Below my young men doing the work lol!!!


The city of Vannes tourist office right by the harbor or Le Port:

The area Gulf of Morbihan tourist office on Vannes

The tourist office of Bretagne/Brittany on Vannes:

There you go folks, a wonderful vibrant capital city Vannes, coming from its original tribemen of the Vénétes conquered by Rome as Darioritum and then the Bretons with the name of Gwened. Hopy you enjoy the post and again thanks for reading me.

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

Tags: ,
December 24, 2020

Another day in Vannes!!

And why not updating one of my posts on my capital city of Vannes in my beautiful Morbihan of my lovely Bretagne in my belle France! Hope you are enjoying them as I looking at them again. Thanks

As you know reading my blog, Vannes is the capital city of my departément 56 Morbihan.  This is ,also, the city I work on the outskirts and very much a part of me for the last nine years or so. 

I have walked it’s wonderful medieval streets many times and of course the modern part of the city, always amazed of living so close (27 km/15 miles) and able to visit this marvel left untouch from the ravages of wars past. The inner Vannes goes back originals all to the 14C.


The city of Vannes is part of a metropolitan area covering the towns of  Arradon , Baden, Le Bono, Elven,Le Hézo, île-aux-Moines, île d’Arz, Larmor-Baden, Meucon, Monterblanc , Noyalo, Plescop, Ploeren, Plougumelen, Saint-Avé , Saint- Nolff,Séné, Sulniac, Surzur, Theix, Trédion, Treffléan, La Trinité-Surzur and Vannes.  It is the Capital of the dept 56 Morbihan and host all administrative structures. The public transports with a main train station and bus terminals with the network RICEO covering the metropolitan area.

After Rennes and Brest it is the main pole of University students in Bretagne. The University of Bretagne Sud and the Catholic University of Bretagen Sud.  At the Stade de la Rabine there is an important Club de Rugby in National division of France (2nd).

The flag of the city is a  white Stoat or weasel  in red background wearing a banner of  Hermines. The red background represent the kingdom of the Bro Waroch and the Hermine is the symbol of Brittany.

In addition to the medieval streets, and the great architecture, you have many places of interests from the great festivals to monuments and muséums to visit such as the ramparts of the old city fort castle, the maisons-en-bois or wooden houses numbering still about 120 of them! La Cohue (museum of fine arts/beaux-arts);  Château Gaillard (arqueology /history museum), Château de l’Hermine, hôtel de ville (city hall),and the gardens of the regional government building or préfecture du Morbihan (gardens done under order of Napoleon III); Hotel de Limur and gardens in city center rue Thiers; the beforemention Church of Saint Patern in the district of Saint Patern (oldest in the city), and the Cathedral Saint Pierre; the Chapelle St Yves (now attach to the middle school Jules Simon. (see post on these).

See the great building of Burton the men’s dept store in city center by Rue Billaut, the porte or gate Saint Vincent, the covered market at pl des lices, the harbor area le Port around pl Gambetta, the place du poids public ,place Henri IV, the ramparts and wall towers such as the wonderful Connetable or Constable tower. The famous Vannes et ces femmes or Vannes and its woman, in place Valencia. The laundry of old by the ramparts, the place de la liberation the bus terminal my kids used to go to school and now great parking area.

Of course  ,walking around all day we needed to eat and we stop at one of the quaint places to eat in Vannes old city, the resto Chez la Mére 6 Sous, 11 Rue Thomas de Closmadeuc; great goat cheese salad, mussels and fries, chorizo spanish pizzas , a bottle of brut cider from the Val du Rance all for 15€ per person. webpage:


We went next door  at L’Aromate for smoothies and milkshakes of different flavors for 3,50€ per person. webpage:

On the way out we stop by Olivier Le Brun our favorite pâtissiere at 9, rue Saint Vincent to get our country breads and chorizo and lardon bacon breads ! delicious for 1,70€ each. Just to bring home the bacon! Facebook page:


An additional bit of history on this wonderful city of Vannes I love it! From the times of the original celtic tribes of the Vénétes (which gave the French name to the city as in Breton it is Gwened) who fought the légions of Julius Ceasar of Rome, until finally fallen and name the Roman city of Darioritum. It was the main city of the Vénètes to the end of the 1C, under the rule of Augustus.  The city host the bishops and the Catholic religius orders in the year 465 in the Council of Vannes. This Council name Patern the patron saint of the city ; and one of the founding Saints of Brittany and first bishop of Vannes (see post on Church of Saint Pattern). The city is conquered in 578 by king Waroch II that organises the Bro Waroch, a political enclave where Vannes was the capital city. The Counts and Bishops of Vannes are key figures in the balance between Brittany and France. Vannes became after the War of Succession for Brittany the principal site of the ducal power and theater of the union of Brittany with the kingdom of France in 1532.  After WWI the city is touch by lots of changes and people moving and later after WWII it is marked by the economic growth and people moving back in.

The Gulf of Morbihan tourist board on walks in Vannes:

The Morbihan dept 56 tourist office on Vannes:

The city of Vannes on its history and heritage:

Enjoy Vannes , it is worth a detour ,and me think a must while in the Morbihan. As I wrote this article temps was at 20C and no rain, sun is out; life is beautiful. Hope you enjoy it as I do.

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

Tags: ,
%d bloggers like this: