Archive for January 25th, 2021

January 25, 2021

Concarneau has its charms!!!

Let me do this one on the black and white series as have many posts with pictures already. However, need to update the links and text on this introductory post on wonderful Concarneau!  This is a nice town with a gorgeous ville close or enclosed old town in a fortress about 40  minutes by car from me on the expressway N165. This is Concarneau and it has its charms.

It was Saturday, we went to  Concarneau, recently name by France 3 television of the top preferred monuments to visit by the French people. It is about 89 kms from my house or about 55 miles in the neighbor department of Finistére no 29.

We were at Quimper (see posts) , and on our way back home had some time so we decided to stop by again. We headed for downtown or city center and it was packed . Not only was market day in Place du Guesclin but also a sailing event and parking was hard to be found. We drove into the other side of the harbor and was able to get an on street parking for free!!! Got to love the road warrior!

We did took a quick ride to the Chateau de Keriolet  (see post) as it opened in the second week of June but , we were late for the guided tour alas!! The story here is of the Russian princess Zénaide Narischkine-Youssoupov and her husband the Count Charles de Chauveau in a wonderful castle of the 19C. The Castle itself foundations dates from the 13C,  and was finance by the princess to built the new renovated castle.  One of the castle owners was prince Félix Youssoupov who was the assassin of Raspoutin.  The castle is only 5 minutes by car from the downtown of Concarneau.

We took our usual walks in the city by the covered market and the square Guesclin ,the tourist office where this time we got a nice map of the city, and the harbor area. In town the covered market or halles a site not to missed. Plenty of hôtels and restos all along the bay makes it nice for choices. But speaking of choices, the main attraction here is the ville close.  This was built in the end of the middle ages and subsequent rénovations and additions throughtout to 1889.

The ville close was gorgeous as usual and the pleasure boats lovely on a calm day just before the storm. Enclosed town or ville close by excellence, the maritime city established on l’ïle de Conq or the large shell island   was popular in the middle ages as it sits on the shortest itinerary between Quimper and Pont Aven.  Occupied many times by the English, she submits to Du Guesclin in 1373. Vauban made modernised the fortifications of the city between 1692 and 1699.  Facing the land, towers of artillery or Major (to t he North) and the Gouverneur or Governor (in the South) bordering the front entrance and the ravelin are reinforced by a liner of granite several meters thick in the 16C and 17C The defense in depth, Vauban adapts a new gate with drawbridge and ditch behind the halfpipe. The side of the sea Vauban endows the enclosure of ducking doorways to the places best facing the entry pass of the tower of the Iron Horse orTour du fer à cheval and facing the inner harbor the new tower or tour Neuve. In July 1695 Vauban himself as commander of upper and lower Brittany had delivered to Concarneau at the Château du Taureau of ammunition to put in a state of defense. The parapets are raised and drilled slots of shooting while a powder magazine and a new barrack were built in 1837. The ïle de Conq becomes at the end of the 19C a fueling station for the French mobile torpedo boats.

Les Dames tronconic defensive walls impeding the access to the towers from outside. The corps de garde semi circular square to avoid getting to the bridge done in 1694, and the entry point to the ville close today too. The beffroi or belltower done in 1906 houses the clock visible from the city and its emblem. It has walls or courtines of granite with a thickness of 2,5 meters to 3 meters all along the city. The tour du Major, done in 1691 also called tour des munitions or ammunitations surrounded by figurines of breton origins and now shown totaly after excavations around the museum of fishing. The tour du gouverneur, the tour de la Fortune also call tour du masson, the origins remains a mystery, its one of the oldest part of the city. The tour Neuve or tour du moulin à poudré from the 19C, the Tour du Vin, or tour de la porte du vin, cylindrical form and not walled done around the 15C; Tour du passage also known as tour de  Chambertin, Istim or Larrons dates from the 15C. The tour aux Chiens, also known as Tour du port or tour de l’essence, from the 16C. The tour le Fer à Cheval, also known as tour Eperon, it is from the 16C serve as battery canons in the 19C, it was found remains of an older tower from the 13C, it had three levels with the bottom one having a chimney and two Windows; The tour du Maure or moors, also known as tour du connétable done in 1753, still today not found why call like this.

You have a well protected harbor and a huge basin on the other side of the ville close with lovely quaints boats and ships. You can take the bac or taxi boat between the ville close and the passage district 90 cents for 2 minutes of traverse, the smallest boat tour on record.  Not to missed the wonderul musée de la pêche or fishing museum with wonderful collection of boat models in scale and paintings sea fishing items, lovely  on the main street of the ville close rue de Vauban.  You have the colorful shopping of the area best fish, sardines especially a major port. Conserverie Courtin is lovely and well stock with delicious stuff, right on the ville close too,  the wonderful chocolates and caramels of Georges Larnicol , the wonderful bargains at Marine & Co all made in Brittany, fashion a la Breton. Great polos sweaters, rainjackets at good prices here and all locally made.  Come to see the yeararound festivities of the ville close, this time from Deizekilibre group, chants and performers all thru the town.  The nice promenades at sea from the Vedettes de l’Odet boat cruises .

We had our lunch in the restaurant of the Hotel des Grands Voyageurs on the main square facing the ville close fortified city and wonderful as usual. We had our chorizo omelets, mussels in cream sauce, pizzas and salads all down with the local St Omer amber beer and good desserts of a sort of different ice creams mine the Breton favorite caramel sauce over ice cream caramel ! all for less than 22€ per person. And we have repeated here very good! And , also a wonderful location if visiting. webpage: https://www.hotel-concarneau.com/lhotel/

On way out we saw a new monument the lighthouse or Phare de Beuzec-Conq , this is literally in the home of someone’s property! It was built in 1848 at a height of 9,3 meters…The optic is white and fix until 1894 it will have optic red and white. In 1907 it was refitted with the new tower and electricity finally arrived in 1943 always working until 1964.

We took the road D783 to Quimperlé, Pont Aven, etc glorious trip back home passing the Britt brewery, lol!! at Trégunc , if you want to pick up some on way home, local beer Breton, and the day was another success !!! webpage: https://www.brasserie-bretagne.fr/britt/

In all  a pleasant ending to a nice ride out with the family, just enjoying the bountiful of Bretagne land of the Bretons! Hope you enjoy Concarneau as we always do.

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

January 25, 2021

Visiting the Côte Sauvage of Quiberon!

So need to update this one from 2017, my favorite spot in my Morbihan other than my capital city Vannes is the Presqu’île de Quiberon or  peninsula of Quiberon. What better way to see its natural beauty is to see the wild coast or Côte Sauvage! Hope you enjoy the updated post. And thanks for reading me over the years!!!

This wonderful peninsula of Quiberon and its wild coast or côte sauvage is just about 40 minutes by car south from my house; and we love it. Even if with so much to see, we should come here more often. The end town is ,also name Quiberon; wonderful! I have plenty of posts on it in my blog ok.

As said, it’s very easy from my house about 40 minutes by car, you take the road D768 down off the expressway National N165 off exit for Auray, Carnac, Quiberon, La Trinité-sur-Mer (see posts all wonderful). You get to see the bay and the water the moment you reach the town of Plouharnel, then it becomes a peninsula with water on both sides.  Passing the Baie de Plouharnel you come to the first great beach, Le Sablé d’Or on your left hand side, you will have the Fôret Domaniale de Quiberon on the left side too, a forest with nice benches for picnics.  Next is the town of Penthièvre (part of Saint-Pierre de Quiberon) and the great fortress now a military installation but on the back open to the public showing the cave where resistance fighters from Locminé were executed by the Nazis, and a cross rises up in their memory.  There is a nice beach on the bay and ocean side! You arrive at the village of Kerhostin, and immediately on the right is the port town of Portivy. Here begins the wonderful sublime inmense côte sauvage for real!

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The Côte Sauvage or wild coast is a cliffs hanging zigzagging road with beautiful views of the Atlantic ocean below you and passing by what was the famous WWII Atlantic Wall that the Nazis tried to hold on the possible invasions which as you know was not enough thanks God. At Portivy, at the Port Blanc is a      picturesque and nice quant old fashion. The road here is number D186A and changes with names but no matter you just keep going slowly, of course in Summer is a bit crowded but plenty of parking for free along the road to enjoy the sights. The D186A is also, call the Route Cotiére or coastal road.

Around it, you get to see the Château de Turpault just before entering Quiberon. You come in on the quai de Houat, and the fisherman coopératives and fisherman harbor is the first you see on your right hand side. Next comes the Gare maritime with great cruises to the islands in the Gulf of Morbihan, you go up on rue du phare and see the lighthouse of Quiberon, continue back on the boardwalk to Place Hoche and the wonderful Grande Plage or Big beach.

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The views here of the ocean and the force of the waves hitting the rock is impressive and the fresh sea air wonderful. It started out as a bit rainy and cloudy and finish very warm and sunny with all kinds of ocean activities going on from kites to surfing ,boating and rock climbing.

The Bay of Quiberon tourist office on the wild coasthttps://www.baiedequiberon.co.uk/the-wild-coast-of-quiberon

The Presqu’île de Quiberon peninsula extends from the west part of the peninsula after the village of Portivy to Saint Pierre Quiberon to Port Maria in Quiberon. The coastal conservatory or Conservatoire du Littoral has more on this wonderful Côte Sauvage in French here: http://www.conservatoire-du-littoral.fr/siteLittoral/220/28-cote-sauvage-56_morbihan.htm

As said we go here a lot all year even winter. This time we had our apéro or apéritif or before meal drinks at the Café de l’Esplanade Hoche, and Remy the owner, always pleasant helpful talkative and the drinks and snacks just great for a wonderful afternoon. Later on in the evening they stay open until 2-3 AM and the crowds gets more lively. We go with the family so we stay more quiet and more time to talk. We had our usual pâté in Mousse de Canard à l’orange (duck in orange ) and Pâté de Lapin aux pruneaux (rabbit in prunes) ,and Terrine de Canard au miel (duck with honey), saucisson comte, (comte cheese sausage) ,and of course our local beer 8,5% Belzebuth  (a meaning from the New Testament of the head of demons) , here is just a wonderful Celtic/Breton beer blonde. Wonderful mild houblon taste just melts in your mouth, more on it here, beware of the Devil!

We had a full meal later stopping for lunch at Le Tourbillon at pl Hoche, (sadly now closed) where we had the menu du jour, mont d’or melted cheese with potatoes and marteaux sausages, with Leffe blonde beer, expresso coffee all for 22€ per person. The service was very prompt and nice, locals only now, they all knew each other. Here just for the memories.

All along the peninsula you will find beaches on both sides bay and ocean, wonderful beaches nice sizes to small creeks very private romantic and wild. The cliffs along the wild coast are impressive and nice, beautiful natural front holding on to the master sea of the Atlantic ocean. Hotels, vacation homes, restos;bars are here to please and choose, tourism of course is big and many have seasonal opening times. We just ride and stop in every creek , every turn of the wild coast and marvel of our ocean majestic wild and powerful in front of us, it is heavens on earth and we are lucky to be very close to it.

On the way back,we had our dinner meal at Le Vivier right amongst the cliffs in the  Côte Sauvage. This is a full seafood restaurant open from February to November right off the cliffs of the wild coast. Terrace is gorgeous natural and we love it. We had what the ocean has best oysters and mussels with chips and plenty of brut cider Brocéliandetwo bottles to boot !!! delicious.  The ciders were 8,50€ each and the mussels for 8,90, fries for 2,50, and oysters dozen for 17€, all reasonable and good. The views of course are tops and well recommended to all. This is their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/vivierquiberon

The Bay of Quiberon tourist office has a page on Le Vivier restaurant: https://www.baiedequiberon.co.uk/plan-your-stay-in-the-bay-of-quiberon/where-to-eat/restaurants/bar-restaurant-le-vivier-seafood

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The Brittany tourist board on Quiberon: https://www.brittanytourism.com/destinations/the-10-destinations/southern-brittany-morbihan-gulf/quiberon/

The city of Quiberon on things to do and see in French: https://www.ville-quiberon.fr/listes/a-voir-a-faire/

And now home, cruising to start another week of work and reports lol!!! Enjoy it while you can, life is beautiful or la vie est belle! but it can be short… Enjoy life at its best at the Presqu”île de Quiberon! Thanks for reading me!!

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

January 25, 2021

Some news from Spain XCVIII

So this is the time to pickup on my series some news from Spain. The country is going thru difficult times due to the virus and lack of coordination with the central government and the autonomous communities, typical Spanish. However, life must go on. The temps in my beloved Madrid is cloudy and 53F or 12C. Now let me tell you a bit on my some news from Spain; and thanks for reading!

The website Musement, a platform for booking activities at the destination, has extracted the five most popular galleries in each autonomous community based on the number of reviews received on Google. Thus, it can be seen that Madrid (with more than 150 thousand comments) is the region with the most popular museums, ahead of the Valencian Community (116 thousand), Catalonia (111 thousand), the Basque Country (58 thousand) and Andalusia (37 thousand). However, if we look at the average score of the five art galleries with the most comments from each community, we can see how the highest average score is achieved by Madrid and Castilla y León (4.58). Behind, Aragon, Catalonia and the Valencian Community with a 4.48.

The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia is the museum in Spain with the most reviews on Google, more than 83 thousand. Behind, the Prado Museum, in Madrid, exceeds 75 thousand. By far, in third position, is the Guggenheim in Bilbao with more than 47 thousand comments. The ‘top 5’ are completed by the Reina Sofía National Art Center Museum Madrid with 34 thousand comments and the Dalí Theater-Museum (Figueras, Gerona) with 26 thousand. If we look at the score obtained by the art galleries, again, the Prado Museum is among the best valued, with 4.7 out of 5. This score is also obtained by the Sorolla Museum (Madrid), the National Museum of Roman Art (Extremadura), the National Museum of Sculpture (Valladolid), the Mining Museum (Escucha, Teruel), the Museum of Fire and Firefighters (Zaragoza) and the Museum of Manchego Cheese (Toledo ). The Musement webpage: https://www.musement.com/es/

A failure in the air conditioning system of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando (RABASF) due to the frosts suffered by Madrid has caused a water leak that has forced the temporary closure of the institution. The affected equipment is on the deck, totally saturated with ice like many rooftops in Madrid. The leak reached two rooms of the Academy museum, one on the third floor and the other on the second. According to official sources, no paintings have been affected, although a small-format work by Sorolla, “Children on the Beach,” and some other canvases, including one by Madrazo and another by Martínez Vazquez, have been removed as a precaution as well as the «Landscape of Gredos», for safety. This leak in the Academy is small and without consequences for the works of art that it treasures. Everything has been a scare. Thankfully!

Next April 13 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the museum that bears his name since 1992 commemorates him with a series of exhibitions and activities. The celebration began this past October with the opening of the exhibition “German Expressionism in the Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza’s Collection” ,which can be visited until March 14 2021.   Indeed, the baron inherited in 1947 an art collection that grew with masterpieces of classical art and, since 1961, with one of the best private painting ensembles of the 19-20C. He wanted his works to remain united and also wanted to share them, which led him to sign, in 1988, a loan agreement -which would become a definitive sale five years later- of 775 works to the Spanish State, the seed of the National Thyssen Museum –Bornemisza.

The aforementioned exhibition dedicated to German Expressionism will be followed by “Goldsmiths, paintings and sculptures in the collection of Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza” (March 16, 2021 – January 23, 2022), XVIII from the Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza collection at the MNAC “(October 26, 2021 – January 9, 2022) and” American Art in the Thyssen Collection “(November 23, 2021 – June 26, 2022), all them in the rooms of the permanent collection. In addition, the exhibition of the portraits of the baron painted by Lucian Freud will continue.  As for other activities, it is worth highlighting the cycle of conferences on German expressionism ( this past   January 20 as well as on January 27 and February 3, 10 and 17), the “Educational Conversations: Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza as a collector” (January-March of 2021), the restoration process to the public of Vittore Carpaccio’s “Young Knight in a Landscape”, and the subsequent presentation of the results, as well as the open house on April 13, the exact date of the Baron’s birth. More info the 100th anniversary on the webpage: https://www.museothyssen.org/centenario-baron-thyssen-bornemisza-2021

The Prado Museum is trying to regain lost normality little by little, however difficult it may seem. On the one hand, the projects that had to be postponed in 2020 and were left in the pipeline will be resumed. One of the consequences of the pandemic has been that the reorganization of the Prado collections, planned in the long term, has accelerated all the logistics and the exhibitions since during the closure of the museum.  It will begin with the 19C collection, which now looks more to the 18C than the 20C, the Prado will be more inclusive. There will be a more plural vision of the Spanish 19C, greater visibility will be given to women, social painting and that of other geographical origins, such as the Filipino one. In addition, the Prado will make an old dream come true ; that the entire Villanueva building will be exhibited . The Ionic Gallery (adjacent to the central gallery) will be recovered around October or November 2021 for the collection of classical sculpture; 51 works not exhibited until now will be exhibited. A permanent exhibition installation dedicated to the architectural and museum history of the Prado will also open in rooms 100, 101 and 102, where the Treasure of the Dolphin was formerly exhibited. It is expected to open before next Summer. The on the Salon de los Reinos or hall of kingdoms will begin in November 2021. This year 2021 there will be a contest to see which construction company will be in charge of executing the project designed by Norman Foster and Carlos Rubio. The credit line of 43 million euros has finally been included in the General State Budget. The execution period of the project , which will cost about 36 million is four years, so its inauguration is scheduled for 2025. Stay tune!!

As for temporary exhibitions in the Prado museum , the long-awaited “Mythological Passions” will open on March 2, which will bring together for the first time the six Titian Poems commissioned by king Felipe II and painted between 1551 and 1562, considered ,the most influential mythological ensemble of the Western painting. A joint project of four major museums: the Prado, the National Gallery in London, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh. On March 9 an exhibition dedicated to Marinus van Reymerswale will open. A very appreciated artist in the 16C, of whom little is known, he has a very short production, but very well known works. There will also be an exhibition, “The Prodigal Son of Murillo and the art of narrating in Andalusian Baroque”, curated by Javier Portús, scheduled for September. Also that month there will be an exhibition focused on the copy of the Mona Lisa in the Prado. A painting that, according to director Falomir, “has become one of the Prado’s icons, not because of its aesthetic qualities.”. The exhibition will address what this work means in the production of Leonardo’s workshop. The opening of «Tornaviaje. Ibero-American Art in Spain ”, which will pay off a pending debt in the Prado: to give visibility to viceregal art. Thousands of works that came to Spain from America in the 16C, 17C, and 18C. The purchases of Italian, French and Flemish artists will be seen with the exhibition. “The legacy of Carmen Sánchez.” In addition, there will be an exhibition commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Fundación Amigos del Prado, “the largest club in Spain after Barcelona and Real Madrid”(football/soccer clubs).

And the situation with the arts, museums especially all over is not good ,due to the virus and government drawn fears. Until 2020 arrived, the last month of the year served for museums to blow up millionaire numbers of visitors with which they competed between institutions, making the largest number a reason for anxiety. Up to four million visits counted in 2019 at the Reina Sofía Museum. And the forecast was to grow, of this museum and of everyone. But the pandemic forced them to break that magic vice and focus on surviving with more of an art venue than a convention center. The Reina Sofía reached 1.2 million visitors (between its three headquarters, the central one and the two extensions of the Retiro), which represents a drop of 71.8% compared to 2019. The influx to the venues is divided as follows at 448,211 from the main one (where Guernica is located), 608,603 to Palacio de Cristal and 191,672 to Palacio de Velázquez (latest two in Retiro park). The collapse of the Prado Museum has been significantly greater, with a 73% drop in visitors. Of the 3.2 million influx in 2019, it has come down to 852,161 people in 2020. It must be taken into account that the gallery does not have 100% of its exhibition area open yet. The Thyssen Museum has received 341,008 visitors in 2020 compared to 1,034,873 in 2019   or 67% less than the previous year. In addition to the number of visits to the permanent collection in 2020 ,190,609 people , the museum provides data from other exhibitions such as those by Rembrandt 89,429 visitors Joan Jonas 13,472 people or the recent one on German Expressionism, still open 40,938 visitors. Meanwhile, the la Caixa Foundation has gathered more than 3.8 million people in 2020 in its cultural and scientific itinerant centers and exhibitions throughout Spain. The number of visitors has been around 35% of the total who attended during 2019, in line with the allowed capacity. The Guggenheim Bilbao is another of the centers that each year maintained the upward trend in visits. In 2020, with all the usual trends reversed, it welcomed 315,908 persons in its rooms compared to 1,170,669 in 2019. Unlike previous years with a majority presence of foreigners, in 2020 , 61% of visitors came from Spain and 39% from other countries such as France (18%), Great Britain (3%), Germany (3%), Italy (2%), Portugal (1%) and the United States (1%).

And still another. It had promised to be the great storm in Malaga. Actually, one of the great storms in the country last year, but the health crisis truncated the plans of the Centre Pompidou, which had mounted with conscientious effort and exquisite care the exhibition entitled “From Miró to Barceló. A century of Spanish art “. The exhibition was inaugurated on March 12, just three days before the confinement decreed by the Government in Spain. Picasso is a permanent presence in the Pompidou collection. From Paris came Figure (1927), the monstrous portrait that the Malaga artist made of Marie-Thérèse Walter shortly after meeting her. The great hall of the Centre Pompidou-Malaga is reserved for the most current art, that post-war generation that grew up in the multiform style and in the throes of a century that was aging to the rhythm of its last isms. Who knows if in the middle of that walk we do not sense the shadows that Pablo Picasso, the favorite son of this city overlooking the blue sea, was so eager to capture. (his Malaga).

An interesting museum seen since childhood days in my Madrid,worth the detour, the Museo Naval. Trader, navigator, pilot, diplomat, spy ; Juan de la Cosa, who participated in seven of the first trips to America, was a character with many edges. He also had a blot on his resume: he was on guard duty as master of the Santa María the night the ship sank off the Haitian coast. His captain Christopher Columbus would not forgive him for the shipwreck. The incident, however, did not bring down Juan de la Cosa, who is said to have become more familiar with America than with the rooms in his house, so much so that, as we know, he has gone down in history for drawing the famous Universal Charter from 1500, the oldest cartographic document where the American continent appears. The map of Juan de la Cosa is the most outstanding piece of the Naval Museum and one of the most important in the history of world cartography. An obligatory reference in the study of the development of cartography and the representation of the world. And it is that this map was made only eight years after Columbus arrived in America. The navigator made it when he returned from his third trip to the continent, between February and October 1500, and had the detail of signing it, which is very important because it was not common at the time: Juan de la Cosa set it up in the port of Santa María in the year 1500. The map alone is reason enough to drop by this museum, recently renovated. A new high-quality steel-supported display case in the Discovery Room now better protects and maintains this nautical gem that was missing for 300 years. Because in addition to its unusual dimensions for the time (183 cm by 96 cm high) and its very rich decoration. … oh well , I will not tell you more, go see it! Museo Naval !

The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona has resumed its construction today Monday, paralyzed because of the pandemic since last March, with the intention of finishing this year the Torre de María, which will reach 138 meters in height. This tower, however, will not be the tallest in the temple, since the Torre de Jesús is expected to rise to 172.5 meters in height, making it the tallest building in Barcelona. This final part of the tower is made up of three parts, a six-meter-high stone crown that ends with twelve wrought-iron stars, a hyperboloid-shaped 18-meter-high shaft that ends in three arms that support the star and that It is made with ‘trencadís’ in white and blue tones, and the final star, with a diameter of 7.5 meters and 12 textured glass points illuminated from the inside. With the stoppage of the works, the construction of the Sagrada Familia will not be able to finish in the year 2026 as planned and its completion will be conditional on the return of the tourists who, with the tickets to visit the temple, financed the works.

And let me give a nice tour we have done by car and glad that we did in August because the area has extreme cold spells! As this year! Let me tell you about Sigüenza, Molina de Aragón and Teruel ; the charm of the Spanish ‘cold triangle’ hehehe! There is Bello, a small town in Teruel with just over 200 residents, recorded last Tuesday, January 12, 2021, the lowest temperature ever recorded in Spain in an inhabited place: -25.4ºC. In the surroundings they did not were too far. Towns like Molina de Aragón and Sigüenza, in Guadalajara province; and Calamocha or Santa Eulalia del Campo, all in Teruel province, easily exceeded 20ºC below zero!

Let’s start with Sigüenza, a monumental town that is preparing to begin its IX centenary this year, which will be celebrated in 2024. The covid19 virus has suspended the most recommended way to reach the World Heritage city, the medieval train, a heroic journey that begins in Madrid and is accompanied by music, theater, history and the occasional sweet. The railway authorities assure to restart their transit as soon as the sanitary circumstances allow. Yes, it is open, although with the logical capacity restrictions, the National Parador, located in the magnificent 12C Arab fortress. Molina de Aragón (see post) is the next stop. As a good border town, its castle presides over the hamlet. It also stands out in some hills and fields completely covered by snow and that offer an unknown and beautiful view of the population. The Jewish quarter, the Plaza de España and, above all, the view of the Romanesque bridge over the Gallo river, with the old houses and crenulated towers in the background. In Teruel (see post) exists, no matter how much the social currents and, now, the snow and the cold make it difficult. In the main square, the Torico does not seem to be fazed by the scourge of the elements and despite its small size, it continues to control the rhythm of the Mudejar city par excellence. The Mausoleum of the Lovers of Teruel is a good place to take refuge these days. Love in difficult times. The Paleontological Museum of Dinópolis is another of the essentials of the Villa del Torito and another good place to forget the cold among precise life-size replicas of the giant saurians that lived here a few million years ago.

According to EscapadaRural.com, (sights and rental houses which we have done it) La Hiruela was in 2020 the fourth most sought after town in Spain, and the first in the Community of Madrid, among users of the platform to spend a few days in nature. The environment in which it is located and its architectural identity are two of the attractions so that this village of about 60 inhabitants has become in recent months one of the fashionable destinations, especially for Madrileños (local Madrid folks), to spend a weekend or go on a day trip to visit this unique and picturesque town in the north of the Madrid Community, 100 km from the capital. . The webpage of escapadaruralhttps://www.escapadarural.com/que-hacer/la-hiruela

Within the Sierra del Rincón Biosphere Reserve, almost on the border with the province of Guadalajara, La Hiruela, and Comunidad de Madrid;  has an idyllic and perfect environment to disconnect from the stresses of the big city at any time of the year. very close to must-see places such as the walled Buitrago del Lozoya, the lush forests of Hayedo de Montejo or the spectacular valleys of La Puebla. To access La Hiruela, it is best to leave your car in the public car parking located on the outskirts. In its simple and charming town center, the low stone, slate, adobe and oak houses of the Dehesa have hardly undergone changes in their structure since their construction, making it one of the best-preserved towns in the Community of Madrid. It is also located within the route of the black towns of the Sierra Norte. Walking along Calle El Pilón street, the most famous in the town, you will discover many of the charms of this mountain town, such as the City/Town Hall, the Church of San Miguel Arcángel, the Old School, today transformed into a bar, the Casa del Cura (house of the priest, a restaurant now) and the Casa de la Maestra or house of the teacher. In the historic center is the Ethnological Museum, which shows the ancestral ways of life of its inhabitants with different farm implements, livestock and domestic tools and historical clothing. It recreates an old rural house from the 17C, accompanied by photographs of the time. At about 2 km outside the town is La Carbonera, the old place where oak charcoal was produced, one of the main engines of the local economy until the middle of the 20C. Today you can see a recreation of a coal bunker built in the traditional way. A few meters away is the traditional Colmenar. This place dedicated to beekeeping in the past, with 200 years old, today brings together more than a hundred beehives built in hollow logs, divided into rows and streets that allow visitors to pass. On the banks of the Jarama River, surrounded by cherry trees and elder trees, in a recreational area, is the Molino Harinero or flour mill, whose first historical references date from the second half of the 18C. Thanks to its restoration, you can see what its original mechanisms and parts were. Next to it, and climbing a small promontory, is the Mirador del Molino, with spectacular views of the environment.

The surroundings of La Hiruela are an ideal destination for lovers of hiking. The yellow or the Senda por las Eras and la Pila de Riego is a path of 2.7 km (1 hour and a half in duration) of medium-low difficulty, which follows, between forests, viewpoints and the river, the paths through which the cereal was transported. The Molino path (blue), 5 km long and of medium difficulty, also follows the course of the Jarama and, in addition to the Flour Mill, passes through the ruins of the Juan Brav Mill and through a forest of centenary oaks. The red route Los Oficios de la Vida (2.7 km) passes through fruit orchards and large meadows, as well as the enclaves of Carbonera and the traditional Colmenar. The Fuente Lugar green path (1.5 km) is a short route that passes through a natural tunnel next to the river bed full of lush forests of cherry, birch and hazelnut trees. Orchards with apple, blackberry and ancient pear trees are also crossed. Nature at its best, even if I still preferred the car here ::)

And this is it for now folks. Hope you enjoy the post and keep our fingers cross for my beloved Spain. As the saying goes, Spain is everything under the sun! And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

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January 25, 2021

Jardin du Luxembourg of Paris!!!

You like the title , very unique classic no need for creativity, heck the name along should suffix. One of the grand site of my eternal Paris. Coming here since neons times and then with my boys to ride the boats in the basin, and more. Coming for work, I even stop by bus 82 to take glimpses of it. It is a sublime garden park, that is the Jardin du Luxembourg of Paris!!!

I have to update this post from 2016 but instead of pictures already in individual posts of the garden let me tell you a black and white description with history I like.  The Jardin du Luxembourg is a famous garden in the middle of Paris known to the world and still a favorite place of Parisians families. It is one of my favorites too.

After having worked in the city for 9 years, I used to take many leisure times around the city sometimes just to kill time before going home to Versailles. This is one of the gardens I found with locals and ever since took my family here on weekends. The sailing wooden boats is a tradition that we took with the boys as well.  Not to mention the museum part of the garden. It is also, the seat of the French Senate and the President of the Senate lives right there.  I have written bits and pieces on it in many other posts in my blog, this time this is a page on the things to see and a bit of history of the garden. Enjoy it for the whole family and keep making it a tradition of Paris.

The Luxembourg garden was created in 1612 at the request of Marie de Médicis to accompany the Luxembourg Palace. It has been the subject of a restoration under the second empire and now belongs to the domaine of the Senate of France. It covers 23 hectares of which 21 are open to the public. With parterres of flowers, and sculptures.  André le Nôtre rearranged the flowerbeds not been able to give the broad perspective desired due to the Monastery of the Carthusians standing there. After the death of Maris de Médicis in 1642, the Luxembourg Palace and garden change hands many times. In 1778, the Count of Provence , brother of king Louis XVI and later king Louis XVIII received the Luxembourg property. To finance the work of restoration he asked to aligned the western part of the garden which included the alley of philosophers frequented by Rousseau in 1741 and the Promenades of breathing or Soupirs   refuge of lovers. Once you are into the rue du Luxembourg ,today Rue Guynemer you are at the westernmost tip of the garden.

At the French revolution the palace is turned into a prison with such residents as Danton, Desmoulins, Fabré, Eglantine, David amongst hundreds others,and the garden is abandoned. The Monastery of the Carthusians is requisitioned, and the wall blocking the view to the Observatory is taken down and the 26 hectares owned by the religious order is taken. The land lost a few years earlier in the West is taken in the South reaching the current boulevard de Montparnasse. In 1795, it is the Directoire that takes over the Palace. The directors settled in the petit Luxembourg except Barras who occupied the former royal apartments in the west wing. After the dissolution of the directoire the building falls into the Senate of the Empire, Napoléon I wish that the garden is intended for the children, and the garden is laid out accordingly with kiosques and playgrounds.

The opening of the boulevard Saint Michel ,then called Sebastopol and the rue de Médici reduce the garden. The intention of Haussmann was to leave the grotto of Medici in its location and put it in a small square. However, this was not possible due to protests it was dismantled stone by stone and rebuilt into a fountain where we can admire it today. The demolition of the convent of the daughters of Calvary (Filles du Calvaire) and the extention of the rue Vaugirard opened in 1845 towards the buildings around the Luxembourg palace and the Petit Luxembourg. 

Under the Nazi occupation the Luxembourg palace was the headquarters of the General Staff of the 3rd Nazi air army . They built two blockhouse in the garden , one in the east and the other in the west, surrounded it with barbed wire, and closed to the public. The garden serves as parking. On August 25, 1944 the French 2nd armored division enters the garden around 17h (5pm) ,the swastika flag is brought down and the Nazis surrendered in the courtyard of the palace. After the liberation the Palace and garden is returned to the Senate of France. The palace of Luxembourg holds the Senate and the Garden is own by the Upper House, the petit Luxembourg house next to it previous residence of the President of the Senate. The Luxembourg museum devoted to major temporary exhibitions of art and you can visit them by the rue Vaugirard. The Orangerie built in 1839 is located in the Allée Delacroix ; it houses the collection of 180 plants including citrus, palms, oleanders and the grenadiers. Some of the big raiders trees are in the garden à la Française open from May to October have as much as 300 years; in the summer the Orangerie serves as temporary exhibitions.

Some of the buildings in the Jardin du Luxembourg are: The Hôtel Vendôme now occupied by the school Mines Paris Tech; the serres or greenhouse in the garden next to it are home to a rich horticultural collection which included more than 400 species of Orchids. The Garden hosts several sports activities from Tennis, Basketball, and martial arts as well. Even the National Championships of Tennis are held here I as well as photographs exhibition, bandstand for concerts, and opera. Activities for Children with a nice playground and   ponys rides., puppet theatre and the main pond where guiding model boats is a tradition of Parisiens parents.

The garden houses about 106 statues these are many do not know if all !! Starting in the northeast corner of the garden on the side of the Palace : The Gauls or the Silence,  by Guillaume Berthelot (1580-1648); Sainte-Suzanne, or Ceres, 1633,  marble from Carrara by François Duquesnoy ; The woman with the apples,  1937, bronze by Jean Terzieff ; Monument to Henry Murger,  1895, bronze by Henry – Theophilus Broth Students died in the Resistance, 1954-1956, bronze by Gaston Watkin; and monument to Théodore de Banville , stone by Jules Roulleau.

Then, after the Medici fountain you have: The Greek actor,1868,bronze by Charles – Arthur Bourgeois; Dancing Faun,by Eugène-Louis Lequesne ;Dispetto,or spite,1872,marble by John Valletta ; Monument to Leconte Lisle, 1897, a winged  muse hugs the bust of the poet, marble by Denys Puech . By passing the basin to the South are: Caius standing Marius on the ruins of Carthage,1857,marble by Nicolas-Victor Vilain ; Calliope, marble by Ferdinand do Pelliccia ; Winner David from Goliath, anonymous marble from antiquity; Vulcan presenting the weapons he has forged, 1781,statue in white marble by Charles-Antoine Bridan, Flora, according to the ancient.

All around the Central terrace, statues of Queens of France and famous women, including in the Clotilde and Bathilde who were chosen by Louis-Philippe; Queens of France and illustrious women. The Queen Mary-Stuart; Monument to Georges Sand, 1904, white marble by François Sicard ; Bocca della Verità 1871,white marble by Jules Blanchard ; Monument to Stendhal, Medallion in bronze by Auguste Rodin ,expansion of a ;model created  by David d’Angers ; Velleda contemplating the home of Eudore, 1844, marble by Hippolyte Maindron ; Monument to Gustave Flaubert, bust in stone by Auguste Clésinger ; The cry, the written word, 2007, three polychrome bronze rings, commemorating the abolition of slavery,by Fabrice Hyber (born in 1961); Stele in tribute to the slaves in the French colonies, inaugurated in 2011 by Nicolas Sarkozy; The merchant of masks, bronze by Zacharie Astruc , featuring the masks of Victor Hugo, Léon Gambetta, Alexandre Dumas son, Eugène Delacroix, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Camille Corot, Hector Berlioz, Jean-Baptiste Faure, Honoré de Balzac, Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly; Then there are the statues of Joan of Albret, Clémence Isaure, Anne-Marie-Louis d‘Orléans, Duchess of Montpensier, Louise of Savoy and Marguerite of Anjou;  Plate in tribute to insurgents in the town, shot against the wall on May 25,1871; Lion’s ‘sculpture in stone by Heuraux. Diane according to the ancient stone.

On the way to the Palace, on the lawn facing the basin: Monument to Scheurer-Kestner (1908), stone, by Jules Dalou , with Justice holding a sword and the balance, and the naked truth, holding a mirror (which has disappeared). In the middle of the Basin you will find, Child support a bowl anonymous sculptor; To the West on the floor you will find: Venus out of the bath, from the antique; Venus to the Dauphin, from antiquity; Blanche of Castile, Queen of France; Juno Queen of heaven according to the antique; Minerva to the Owl anonymous; Then other Queens of France and famous women: Anne of Austria; Anne of Brittany; Marguerite of Provence; Sainte Clotilde; To the North on the floor you have : memory of the seven fighters of the Liberation by Charles Soudant Then, to the South you have : Flora, according to antiquity, another model across the basin;   To the South slightly to the west you have : Monument to Pierre Guillaume Frédéric Le Play, bronze by André-Joseph Allar ; On the South lawn you have the Lion of Nubia and its prey, 1870, bronze of Auguste Caïn ; Tribute to Pierre Mendès France, 1984, sculpture by Pierre Peignot ; The herd of deer listening to the close group in bronze by Arthur the Duke ; Monument to Ferdinand Fabre, 1880, by Laurent Marqueste ; Monument to Charles Baudelaire, 1936, by Felix Pierre Fix Masseau ; Monument to the Countess of Ségur, 1910, by Jean Boucher ; Monument to Louis Ratisbonne, marble by Émile Soldi ; Monument to Jean Antoine Watteau, 1896, stone and bronze by Henri Désiré Gauquié :The poet or tribute to Paul Eluard, 1954, bronze by Ossip Zadkine ; Monument of José Maria de Heredia  bronze by Victor Ségoffin ; Monument to Sainte-Beuve, 1898, bust in stone by Denys Puech.

Then turning to the right towards the North on the first lawn along rue Guynemer you have : Frédéric Chopin monument, in bronze and stone by Paul Dubois ; Archidamas preparing to throw  the disc, 1847, statue stone by Henri Lemaire; Monument to Jules Massenet, 1926, by Raoul Verlet , completed by the sculptor Paul Gasq ; A reduction in bronze of the Statue of the liberty of Auguste Bartholdi, melted then in the garden Monument to Édouard Branly, by Carlo Sarrabezolles ; Going back to the North on the next lawn you see the Monument to Gabriel Vicaire, 1902, stone, by Jean-Antoine ; Monument to Paul Verlaine, 1911, stone by Augustus ; The triumph of Silenus 1898 group in bronze by Jules Dalou ; Winter, marble statue attributed to Michel Anguier ; Monument to Beethoven, inaugurated in 1978, example in bronze of the bust sculpted in 1902 by Antoine Bourdelle;   The Effort,1898,lead and sandstone by Pierre Roche ; Monument to Stefan Zweig, 2003, bronze by Félix Schivo ; Phidias or Sculpture, 1889, by Aimé Millet ; The Messenger, by Gabriel Forestier stone statue; Painting, 1889, statue stone by Jules Franceschi ; On the West façade of the Orangery: Jean-Antoine Houdon, 1888, bust by Ernest-Eugène Hiolle ; Louis David, 1888, bust by Jean-Baptiste Hugues.

On the South façade of the Orangerie: Antoine Gros, 1888, bust by Felon Joseph ; Rough Francis, 1888 bust in stone by Joseph Tournait ; Pierre-Paul Prud’hon 1888, bust in stone by Gustave Debrie ; David Angers, 1888, bust in stone by Léon-Auguste Perrey ; Dominique Ingres, 1888, bust in stone by Pierre Rambaud ; James Pradier, 1888, bust in stone by Louis Desprez ; Eugene Delacroix, 1888, bust in stone by Alfred-Adolphe-Edouard Lepère ; Antoine-Louis Barye, bust in stone by François-Raoul Larche ; Théodore Rousseau, bust in stone by Henri Louis Levasseur ; Aimé Millet 1888, bust in stone by Émile Louis Bogino (died 1937); Between the Museum and the Palace of the Luxembourg: you have the Monument to Eugène Delacroix, 1890,bronze and stone by Jules Dalou . The monument consists of a group connected adorning a fountain.

On the façade West in a niche of the Palace of Luxembourg you have : Psyche under the empire of the mystery, 1889, statue in marble by Hélène Bertaux ; Moving to the North, in the direction of the rue Vaugirard you have a Montesquieu, by Denis Foyatier ; In front of the orangery, toward the rue Vaugirard:  Young Harvester, by Alphonse Dumilatre ; Flora, from the antique; Etienne Pasquier by Denis Foyatier ; The three Graces, by Marthe Baumel-Schwenck ; Fragrance statue by Victor Brecheret , bronze inaugurated in 2010, according to the plaster model exposed at the Salon d’Automne in 1924 Woman looking in a mirror, statue in marble by Ludwig Georges Mátrai ; In front of the greenhouses and their dependencies: Hercules, statue by Auguste Ottin ; Bathsheba, by Paul Moreau Vauthier ; Amphitrite, anonymous sculpture; Eustache Le Sueur,1853, statue in marble by Honoré Jean Aristide Husson.

The details of the statues and busts above is a compilation from the tourist office of Paris, the Senate of France site, and Wikipedia translated as best possible. A monumental garden that I am sure I do not give justice to its vastness and beauty ,but I hope to give you a better idea of it and encourage you to come and visit it. A wonderful place for the entire family.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit to the Jardin du Luxembourg and is a must while in Paris are:

The City of Paris parks on Luxembourg: https://www.paris.fr/equipements/jardin-du-luxembourg-1793

The Paris Tourist office on Luxembourg: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71393/Jardin-du-Luxembourg 

The Senate of France on the statues of Luxembourg: http://www.senat.fr/visite/jardin/statues.html

The Senate of France on practical information for the Jardin du Luxembourg: http://www.senat.fr/visite/jardin/infos_pratiques.html

Ok you have it all, you can even print this post go the Jardin du Luxembourg and see it all as self guided tour! Promise. The garden is huge in importance for Parisiens and by now many visitors as well . Hope you enjoy the tour and do visit when possible.

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

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