Archive for January 3rd, 2021

January 3, 2021

The markets of Rouen!!!

And here is another memorable post that I am revising and updating links. When we lived in Versailles we used to come here a lot as was closer. Even for lunch lol! and take a walk around the city of Rouen! One of the spots my dear late wife Martine love were the markets. Therefore ,here is my update on the markets of Rouen!!!

As I told you we have been coming here for a long time, maybe since 1990, and always enjoyed it. I like the history of it, and the quant streets, the architecture and the people. I have come to see the Champion of France in baseball the Rouen Huskies and Vice Champion of Europe! and to enjoy on its wonderful old restaurants. However, what my dear late wife Martine enjoyed most was the markets of Rouen.

It is wonderful to have these great places surrounded by truly amazing history and great architecture. And of course, the products are delicious.  Let me tell you briefly on them,  but first some important webpages to help you your visit.

The city of Rouen on our favorite markets; first Saint Marc, and then the Place du Vieux Marché:

And the same from the Rouen tourist office on the Saint Marc and the Place du Vieux Marché:

A bit on where they are,starting with the precious marché du Vieux Marché at Place du Vieux Marché. The most favorite of all there!

The Old Market square,or place du Vieux Marché  located at the West end of the rue d’Horloge and not far from the big clock, there are several houses half-timbered or corbelled, whose large part actually consists of old façades done to  this place. It housed the Church Saint-Sauveur who was destroyed in 1793 but including the foundations were identified during the renovation of the square. Church Sainte-Jeanne of Arc  bold and disputed architecture allows you to admire the stained glass windows of the old Church of Saint-Vincent, formerly located at the bottom of the rue Jeanne d’Arc  and destroyed in 1944. Its appearance evokes both a viking ship and a fish. It was inaugurated on May 27, 1979 by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, president of the French Republic.


The fame of the place is related to the torture of Joan of Arc who was burnt alive on May 30, 1431. The place of public executions with the pillory and the firewall to the pyres was exhumed at the same time as the foundations of the Church of Saint-Sauveur.  Until 2012, a Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc) Museum located south of the place, near “the oldest Inn of France”, recounted her life. The place was also the site of the executions until 1836, and wholesale market  until 1969, time of the creation of the market as we know it today.

A small market is always running on a Hall with  ironwork covered with slates as the adjoining Church and which evoke the waves of the ocean.  Until 1944 there was the Theatre-Français, bombed and replaced in 1960 by modern buildings with half-timbered facades from the 17C at  two steps from the  square, 6 rue de la Pie , is the birthplace of Pierre Corneille which became a museum dedicated to the writer.  There is an underground parking as well as a station Cy’ click (bikes).

Another one we like and enjoyed is at the Saint Mark’s square or Place Saint Marc  located in the Saint-Marc – Croix de  Pierre – Saint-Nicaise district. The name is taken from a Chapel which was  settled by  the Cordeliers in 1228, before being transferred in 1255 to St. Clement Church. The Chapel of St. Mark, close to the Aubette, is burned down before 1342 and rebuilt in 1435. The Clos Saint-Marc was part of the fiefdom of the Lords of the Tot, who had the right to hold a market. In 1794, the clos Saint-Marc is called the Clos des Volontieres or Volunteers. In a miserable area, the field was cleared and transformed into a place planted with trees and filled with fountains, which hosts the market from 1837. In 1846, the cabins are built to house the merchants. The place is connected to the docks by the opening of the rue  Armand Carrel in 1844 the place is renowned for its vast market, especially the Sunday bringing together traders from first and second-hand dealers. There is also a shopping center (Intermarché). Concerts take place here on the terraces on Thursday. There is an underground car park as well as a station Cy’ click (bikes).

The market here is an institution. The Marché de Saint Marc or St.-Marc  Market, one of the largest of the region ,very busy on the big square of the historical center  four days a week: Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Fruits, vegetables, textiles and second-hand dealers, particularly in summer, the terraces  fill up at eye sight, as soon as the Sun made its appearance. Grey weather, the market may hold some surprises. Installed  in the Place Saint Marc , since the first half of the 19C, the market spread under and between the halls. Sunday is the day of choice to meet a maximum of small producers. Many growers alongside the cheese makers, butchers, fishmongers in the region… The non-food side, the second-hand dealers hold an important place. Here and there, we meet also a merchant of flowers or a shoe merchant installed in front of a seller of… socks.


On the city and tourist webpage of Rouen,  above you have other markets as well and the ones by rue Eugéne Boudin are good too . The two above are simply above and beyond any even in the region, these are tops. Worth a detour and spend easily a morning on each.

Hope it helps your shopping pleasures in Rouen, in  the Seine Maritime dept 76 of the region of Normandy.

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

January 3, 2021

The Atomium of Brussels

This one not only updating/revising but splitting from an older post with the Mini Europe park in Brussels, Belgium. We went out here as always heard of the Atomium and it was a nice family trip. We did saw the other park as well. Hope you enjoy it as we did

Well the historical architecturally curious in me and my boys daring choices took me a bit out of Brussels to reach Heysel. The area is full of attractions that can keep you for a day or more alone. We came for the Atomium  a while back.  Let me tell you a bit more on the Atomium.

The Atomium in Brussels was built on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1958 and to represent the conventional mesh of iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times. It is located in Laeken on the plateau of Heysel where this exhibition took place back then. Just sitting there in a vast park complex of sights , gearing high into the sky at 102 meters high. As in many cities, this tall structure has become a symbol of Brussels.


There are 9 spherical balls of which 5 are accessible to the public; there is a permanent exposition on the the Universal Expo of ’58 in spheres 1 and 2;the other 3 are to show temporary expositions on spheres 2,4,5.  The most expectacular views is from the bottom taking one of the fastest lift/elevators in Europe (about 5 meters per seconds or 18kph ) you go to sphere 7, where there are glass windows to give a marvelous view of the Brussels sky.


It is a building halfway between sculpture and architecture that culminates at 102 meters. Its steel construction weighs 2 400 tons. It consists of a steel frame with nine interconnected spheres and originally coated with aluminum. The spheres have a diameter of 18 meters and each weigh about 250 tons.


Symbolically, the Atomium embodies the audacity of an era that wanted to confront mankind’s destiny with scientific discoveries. Of the nine spheres, six are made accessible to the public, each with two main floors and a lower floor reserved for the service. The central Tube contains the fastest elevator/lift of the time It allows 22 people to reach the top in 23 seconds. The escalators installed in the oblique tubes are among the longest in Europe. The largest measure is 35 m long.


The Atomium, designed to last six months, was not destined to survive the 1958 Universal exhibition, but its popularity and success made it a major part of the Brussels landscape. The Atomium, on the threshold of the 21C, had a tarnished aspect, it was strongly degraded by the work of time, its external sealing became inefficient and the interior elements of decoration and furniture to the tune of the 1950’s very outdated. Only the structure could be kept. In 2001, the renovation project was finally launched thanks to a partnership between the Belgian federal state, the Brussels-Capital region and Brussels-City. The renovation was initiated in March 2004 and ended in February 2006.

The original aluminum cover has been replaced by a new, more durable stainless steel, which, on the other hand, is suitable for a symbolic iron monument. Each sphere was originally covered by approximately 720 aluminum triangles. All have been replaced, for each sphere, by 48 large stainless steel triangles. In addition, these new plates are more resistant than the old ones.   Of the six spheres accessible to the public, the basic sphere is reserved for the permanent exhibition devoted to the 1950’s, the Universal Exhibition and the construction of the Atomium.

Another one hosts temporary exhibitions, a third with a versatile vocation allows the organisation of various animations, films, concerts, festivals or conferences. In the central sphere, a bar and in the upper sphere, in addition to the Panorama, a restaurant and very nice views indeed. The sixth sphere is the children’s ball, intended for the organization of urban pedagogy workshops, allowing children from six to twelve years to spend the night. The restaurant is super ,webpage:

There was a celebration for the Atomium 60 years; a temporary extension to the permanent exhibition will be of interest to the people who visited Expo 58, which was held from April 17 to October 19 1958 . Many vintage photographs and videos, mostly unpublished, will be offered at this expo “People of 58”. The ADAM Museum, located a few steps from the Atomium, will house two exhibitions that will also return to the Universal exhibition.


You get here from city centre Brussels by taking the metro line 6 stop Heysel that leaves you about 300 meters from entrance thru a parking area you cut it in half.  You ,also, can take metro line 1 at De Brouckére (near Grand Place) to Beekkant and connect with line 6 there to Heysel. or the tramway line 7,either ones put you within a short walk of the Atomium.

Some further webpages to help you plan your trip to the Atomium are:

The official Atomium webpage:

The city of Brussels on the Atomium

The Brussels tourist office on the Atomium:

There you go a nice one day or two visit to HeyselBrussels has never been more filling.  Hope you can enjoy it as we did.

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

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January 3, 2021

The Mini Europe park of Brussels!

This one not only updating/revising but splitting from an older post with the Atomium in Brussels, Belgium. We went out here as always heard of the Atomium and found out about the Mini Europe park on site! It was a nice family trip.  Hope you enjoy it as we did.

Well the historical architecturally curious in me and my boys daring choices took me a bit out of Brussels to reach Heysel. The area is full of attractions that can keep you for a day or more alone. We came for the the Mini Europe park a while back.  Let me tell you a bit more on the Mini Europe park.

The Heysel area has many other nice places that could be a whole day or more and an alternative staying base. Other attractions that require a lot of space including the Mini-Europe theme park, the Kinepolis cinema complex (28 screens and IMAX) and a water park with slides and pools are all in the area. Just down the road is also the Chinese Pavilion and Japanese Tower. We went to the Mini Europe park with the boys.


The Mini-Europe Park is a miniature park located in Bruparck at the foot of the Atomium in Brussels. The park presents reproductions of the most famous monuments of the European Union at a scale of 1/25. About 80 cities and 350 monuments are exhibited. The park contains many animations (train, windmills, eruption of Vesuvius, Airbus, self guided trucks, etc). At the end of the course an interactive exhibition “Spirit of Europe” presents the European Union in the form of interactivities and games. The park is built on 24 000 m2. Prince Philippe of Belgium inaugurates the park on June 1, 1989. The most popular monuments are  the Monastery of El Escorial, the Westminster palace , the Nyhavn of Nyhavn, the Grand-Place of Brussels, the Arc de Triomphe of Paris, the Tower of Pisa, the Parthenon and the Brandenburg Gate. So they told me.



Most of the monuments are built by casting. The parts are constructed from various materials and then copied by silicone molding. The final copy is made of epoxy resin (at first) and polyester (currently). The models then are enriched with details such as statues.


Three monuments were made of stone (the tower of Pisa and the castle of Chenonceau are made of marble). A new computer-milling technique was used for three models. Then comes the painting on the site of Mini-Europe. Finally, the monument is set up on site with decorations and light. The Santiago de Compostela requested more than 24 000 hours of work. Of course, we like the Monumental of Sevilla and the Sacre Coeur of Paris as well.




Many monuments have been financed by countries or regions of Europe. The gardens have hedges , dwarf trees, bonsai and grafted trees are used near miniature monuments, while classic bushes and flowers decorate the promenade.

We decided to eat out in the Village between the Atomium and Mini Europe and not a good choice it was. L’Arbre d’Or was slow, unipersonal, pricey, touristic but then again nothing new , you are in a very heavy tourist area!! webpage:

brussels mini europe l'arbre d'or resto at village jan13

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this mini Europe park are

The Official Mini Europe Park

The Brussels tourist office on the Mini Europe Park:

The Bruparck webpage covers the Mini Europe and Kinepolis cinema:

There you go a nice one day or two visit to HeyselBrussels has never been more filling. The Mini Europe Park was interesting and the boys love it. Hope you enjoy the post as I do.

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

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January 3, 2021

Bucharest was a nice find in the East!

And back to this city that was so much fun for me a while back ,as said been here about 7 times in the last 9 years. Bucharest was a nice find in the East! Let me give you some update on this wonderful trip. I will put a couple pics not in my other Bucharest posts.

As I began to crawl myself into the Eastern part of Europe I did with hesitation. I know the history and dreadful devastation of having gone thru nazism and communism and remind me of my enfant /child years; therefore avoided it. Finally, it took my turn to go on business trips and it has been a pleasant surprise on how people can survive and even improve their lives. Bucharest was a nice find indeed, and I have been lucky to be able to visited and know the city well.  It will certainly stayed as a good souvenir of my travels and of course looking forward for more.

Bucharest is an important transport node, on the way to the European Road 81 from Pitești to Constanţa, the starting point of three highwayss (the A1 towards Pitești, the A2 towards Constanţa and the A3 towards Ploiești) and the new National roads (DN1 to Oradea , DN1A to Braşov, DN2 to Suceava, DN3 to Călărași, DN4 to Oltenița, DN5 to Girgiu, DN6 to Timişoara and Cenad, DN7 to Nădlac and DN71 to Sinaia).   In which I have ridden about 800 kms on the A2 and DN6 alone many times. At the heart of the Romanian railway network, the North station is the main train station. It has several lines of metros, trams, trolleybus and buses operated by the RATB (Regia Autonomă de Transport București). The airport my in and out to the city and country is the Henri-Coanda International Airport. There is a train service but stops at Otopeni the town where the airport is located and then need a shuttle or taxi to Bucharest.


And as I have covered many angles let me tell you a bit about the history I like

The city is mentioned for the first time in 1459 as a fortified market at the crossroads of trade routes between Târgoviște, then the capital of Wallachia, Braşov in Transylvania, and the port of San Giorgio founded by the Genoese on the Danube. This market quickly developed and, in the 17C, became the capital of the Principality of Wallachia, then, in 1859, of Romania.

According to the legend attested in the 19C, Bucharest (București) would come from Bucur , a shepherd who would have established the first settlement on the present site. Like, in Romanian, bucur means “joy”, many Romanian writers name Bucharest “The City of Joy” Indeed, the city was founded in the 14C by Mircea the Elder (Mircea cel Bătrân), after his victory over the Turks, as “Fortress of Bucharest” (and It is then possible that Bucur could have been the first military governor) in the 19C, while Romania served as a theatre of operations in the wars of the neighboring empires and that the Romanians took part in the Revolutions of 1821 and 1848. Bucharest was frequently occupied and looted by the Ottomans, the Austrians and the Russians. It was occupied at length twice by the latter, in 1828-1833 and in 1853-1854, then by an Austrian garrison in 1854-1857. In 1861, in the Union of Wallachia and Moldova, Bucharest became the capital of the new Principality of Romania.

Between December 6, 1916 and November 1918, the city was occupied by the Germans and the capital was transferred to Iaşi. After WWI, Bucharest became the capital of the Kingdom of Unified Romania, which now includes Transylvania and Bukovina until then Austro-Hungarian, and eastern Moldova (annexed by the Russian Empire in 1812). Between the two wars, the city had the nickname of Petit Paris, as the French are numerous (Romania forms, with Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, the “small agreement” allied with France) like all of Romania, Bucharest had to undergo dictatorial regimes Carlist, fascist and communist from February 1938 to December 1989. During WWII, Bucharest suffered from both Anglo-American bombardments (during the Antonescu regime, allied with the third Reich) and Nazi (after Romania joined the Allies).

In power  from March 6, 1945 to December 22, 1989, the Communists develop a deliberate urbanism, disconnected from the realities and needs of the population, which translates into the field by a series of historical monument destructions (including statues and of churches, judged to bear the memories of the past).  Since 1990, with the restoration of democracy and the opening of borders, the city evolves rapidly.

Some nice places to visit in Bucharest.

The Dâmbovița river crosses the city in the west  at the level of Chiajna, and  east, at the level of Glina. The Dâmbovița river flows into the Argeş, a tributary of the Danube.  The Colentina flows into the northern part of Bucharest, throwing itself further downstream from the city in the Dâmbovița.  The two rivers are the subject of many natural or artificial lakes within the city, particularly for Colentina  at Lake Herastrau, Lake Floreasca, Tei Lake or Colentina Lake.  A lake is located in the centre of the city, Lake Cișmigiu, which is located in the park with the same name. This lake, which was used for baths in medieval times, is surrounded by the Cișmigiu Park, inaugurated in 1847.

Of the medieval city architecture , most of the buildings that survived until the modern era were destroyed under the Communist regime with the process of systematization committed to the aftermath of the 1977 earthquake. Some medieval and Renaissance buildings have been preserved, the most notable are in the Lipscani district. This district contains remarkable buildings such as Hanul him Manuc and the ruins of Curtea Veche. The city center has retained the architecture of the late 19C and early 20C, and in particular the period between the two wars, which is often considered the “golden Age” of Bucharest architecture. At that time, the city was greatly enlarged and enriched, competing with other major European capitals such as Paris.

Some streets are lined with sumptuous néo baroque palaces such as:

Curtea Veche: Ancient princely court dating from the 15C built under the orders of Vlad III the Impaler.  Hanul him Manuc:  the Inn was built in 1808. The hostel is located Strada Franceză not far from the Curtea Veche (eating here very nice indeed). Villa Monteoru or writers ‘ house; Casa Lenș-Vernescu: Built in 1820 on the Avenue de la Victoire.  Palazzo Kantakouzenos ,located on the Avenue de la Victoire, the Palatul Cantacuzino , whose construction ended in 1902, in a Baroque style of the Louis XVI era. It was intended for Prince Georges Grégoire Kantakouzenos, former prime Minister of Romania. In 1956, he welcomed the George-Enescu Memorial Museum, named after the great Romanian composer, who had become the National Museum since 1990.

The Arc de Triomphe, the present Arc de Triomphe was erected in 1936 on the ruins of a first and a second arch.  Romanian Athenaeum: The Ateneul Român is a concert hall located on the Avenue de la Victoire built in 1888.  National Theater ,still called Teatrul Național Ion Luca Caragiale is a building in 1982, on the bases of the reconstructed theater it is also located on the Avenue of Victory. Renaissance Memorial, the Memorialul Renașterii is a memorial that commemorates the victims of the Romanian Revolution of 1989 (free from Communism). It consists of a sharp 25 meters high marble column where a metal column is attached.


The Courthouse of Bucharest; the courthouse was completed in 1895. It is located on the Splaiul Independenței, (independence square) along the Dâmbovița river . Palace of parliament or Palace of the people; this gigantic construction was built between 1984 and 1989. The original project was aimed at consolidating all the state institutions and the residence of Nicolae Ceaușescu. Piața Revoluției (Revolution Square), was at the heart of the fighting during the Romanian Revolution of 1989 which overthrew the regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu. Union Boulevard built on the orders of Ceaușescu, it is 30 centimeters wider than the avenue des Champs-Elysées of Paris . And, is also the longest boulevard (or avenue) of Europe with 3 500 meters.  There are nice museums amongst my favorites are the National Museum of Art of Romania, the National Museum of History of Romania, the National Natural History Museums «Grigore Antipa».

The Churches ,I like the Cathedral of Saint-Basile-the Great of Bucharest (Greek-Romanian Catholic), the first Roman Catholic rites Church in Bucharest.  Church of the monastery Stavropoleos, and the theater Odeon, located on the Avenue of Victory, (before 1989, Teatrul Muncitoresc CFR Giulești), founded in 1946, the troupe being welcomed From 1911 to 1946 in the National Theater of Bucharest. It is composed mainly of two halls (Majestic and Giulești).

You have plenty to see here and I need to come back to catch up!  Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The Bucharest city info webpage:

The Tourist office of Romania on Bucharest

There you go hope you like it, Bucharest  is a city to detour in Europe. Hope it helps!.  And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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