Archive for February 25th, 2021

February 25, 2021

The streets of Vannes!!!

And ok, many posts on this wonderful city of my beautiful Morbihan in my lovely Bretagne and my belle France! And I work just outside for a bit more before retirement rolls in soon ::) I love to come into towns/cities and walk them, it is superbe and we love it, going km after km sightseeing on foot. We by now know Vannes by heart but it never amazes me to see so much beauty in its architecture and history untouched by the times. Let me tell you another episode on the streets of Vannes! Hope you enjoy it as I.

The Place Valencia square is located in the heart of the historic center of Vannes. It is inside the city’s first intramural wall, Place Valencia opens at the intersection of rue des Halles, rue Noé and rue des Orfèvres. It is name after the city of Valencia, Spain , the birthplace of Saint Vincent Ferrier, who came to preach in Vannes in 1418-19. The preacher would have lived in a house in the square. This beautiful half-timbered house on the ground floor in stones is located at n ° 17 of the square. According to tradition, it would have been inhabited by Saint Vincent Ferrier in 1418-1419. It was remodeled in 1574. Some of its relics are venerated at the Saint-Pierre Cathedral nearby, where he is the Patron Saint of Vannes , and of the Community of Valencia region in Spain. The other unique sight here is the Maison de Vannes et sa femme or house of Vannes and its women. This house on the corner of rue Noé is famous for its stone sculpture, probably from the 16C.

vannes pl de valencia two women wall jul17

The Place de la Liberation square forms a quadrilateral halfway between the historic center and the Madeleine district of Vannes. The Place de la Liberation occupies the site of the cemetery of the old Saint-Michel chapel, which already existed in the 13C. Damaged by a storm in 1706, the chapel was demolished in 1743 and the bones of the cemetery transferred to that of the Notre-Dame-des-Lices Chapel, on the place des Lices. In 1748, the nuns of the Visitation acquired the land thus liberated and turned it into an orchard. This was alienated during the French revolution and bought in 1822 by the city, which set up the cattle fair there. The new public square took the name of champ de foire or fairground. In 1850 the square was leveled, the earth cleared and a water reservoir built. Shortly after, it was decided to establish a gendarmerie there and to build a new prefecture. Only the first project was carried out, in 1859. It is the Guillaudot barracks. In 1964, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Liberation, the place champ de foire   was renamed Place de la Liberation.

vannes pl de la liberation bus depot sep19

The Place de la République square is home to several public buildings and the central Vannes public transport interchange. It is one of the largest public places in Vannes; crossed by rue Thiers, which leads from the city/town hall to the port. It is located on the edge of the historic center, covering an area of approximately 1.8 hectares, it is rectangular in shape. The square is partly used as a parking lot. Underground parking is also available under the square (one of our favorites) . The main public transport interchange in Vannes is located here. Place de la République was created in 1862 under the name of Place de la Halle-aux-Grains, in reference to the market hall which was built there at the same time. Initially square, the square takes a rectangular shape from its origin, when the construction of a courthouse is decided . It is also grew towards the historic center, when the space to the east of rue Thiers, corresponding to the ditches of the old ramparts, is added to it. In 1955, the grain hall, serving as a post office since 1912, was demolished. It was replaced by a new post in the 1970s. There now you have the main post office, Courthouse, Morbihan deparment 56 prefecture services (my father for his resident visitor card), Bank and real estate agencies.

vannes pl de la Republique bus terminal jun17

The Place Henri-IV is a square place located in the inner city on the heights of the Mené hill. It communicates with the Place Saint-Pierre and the cathedral (see below), to rue Saint-Salomon and to rue des Chanoines and rue Émile-Burgault. The square is surrounded by half-timbered houses from the 15-16C, from which they can therefore date the square. In the 18C, this square was called Mallièvre, a distortion of its original Breton name Men-Guevr, or stone with goats. After having been named Place du Département during the French revolution, it was finally renamed to its current name during the 19C. A bird market was held in this square in the 1860s: sellers, called Pilorgets, mainly brought linnets and goldfinches. Most of the houses in this square are listed as historic monuments. This is the case for houses located  at No 1 at the corner of Place Saint-Pierre, at no 2 corner of Place Saint-Pierre; note, on the Place Saint-Pierre side, the existence of a beam bearing the inscription “The sleeping cat is awake; at no 5 the corner of rue Saint-Salomon, at no 6 corner of rue des Chanoines. Although strictly speaking not present on the square, the house located at 32 rue des Chanoines is also protected as historical monuments.

Vannes pl henri IV jul16

The Place Saint Pierre square has a few old houses adjoining La Cohue (fine arts museum), opposite the St Peter’s Cathedral . La Cohue designating the old partly Romanesque halls, remains dating from the 16C. The ground floor was occupied by the stalls of merchants, mostly butchers and the first floor reserved for courts of law. The Parliament of Brittany sat there when it was exiled to Vannes. In the last century, a theater occupied the first floor which now houses the museum. At No. 9 Place Saint Pierre is one of the oldest houses in the city, recognizable by its many small windows, testimonies of civil architecture from the beginning of the 15C. The house at no 7 Place Saint Pierre, built on the edge of the Cohue from which it is separated by an alley. Its facade framework shows that it has retained a first floor from the 15C. This also shows the remains of the small crosses that once ran on the facade. It shows alterations by its wall of the second Renaissance in the basement and an elevation in the 19C. Of course, the must visit in town is that here you have the Cathédrale Saint Pierre or St Peter’s Cathedral built in the 13C-15-16C-19C.

vannes pl st pierre cat right jul14

The Rue du Port has several restaurant in wonderful historical houses such as the Le Comptoir du Port, Créperie du Port, and Don Camilo pizzeria as well as an excellent parking du Port underground. Also, at No 28 Rue du Port there is a house built at the end of the 16C or the beginning of the 17C, which testifies to the old state of the rue du port before the reconstructions of the 17-18-19C. Originally having a single corbelled floor level, it was raised by one floor in the 17C, then by a third in the 18C. The ground floor was advanced following the alignment of 1841 in 1870. Also, at No 10 rue du Port ,you can see the house whose main body on the street was rebuilt in 1747 on the site of a half-timbered house of which the gutter wall with corbel remains. The posterior body is contemporary with that on the street, but seems to be established on an older cellar remaining from the previous construction, open by day provided with a lug grille dating from the 17C. A well, appearing on the 1844 cadastre has disappeared. In the 19C,the house was occupied by a Masonic lodge; a decor from the first half of the 19C with a Masonic symbol is still preserved. Access is via a side hallway adjoining house at n ° 12. The limestone ashlar street façade has two bays, two square floors and an additional floor. The body overlooking rue du Drézen, in granite rubble, has a half-buried cellar, two square floors and an additional floor. Projecting on the alignment of the street , it is covered with a hipped roof. The staircase is in wood, with a single straight flight for each floor. The chimneys are established on the gutter walls.

vannes rue du port 14C houses feb15

You have the picturesque Rue Saint Guénhaël, where at No 17 Rue Saint Guénhaël you can see one of the oldest houses in Vannes. Almost six centuries old!! The house was built on a much older cellar probably remaining from an earlier building. This cellar is shared with house at No. 19 and could date back to the 12C or 13C. The first campaign concerns the ground floor and the first floor and possibly dates back to the second half of the 14C, as can be seen from the upstairs windows as well as the arcades on the ground floor. On the first floor, two blocked doors, as well as strong projecting consoles on the east wall seem to be the traces of an old corbelled raceway. Perhaps at the end of the 16C, the house was raised by one floor, eliminating the passage. The attic seems to have been built in the 19C. The staircase and most of the interior fittings disappeared in the 20C, with iron or wood reinforcements re-joining the structure. Another nice one at No 23 Rue Saint Guénhaël is on the ground floor or 1st floor the Crêperie Saint-Guenhaël. The house was built in the 15C according to its architectural characteristics and mentioned in the archives of 1455 as well as in the archives of the reformation of the estate in 1677. Its L-shaped plan does not seem original and it is likely that the house was made the object of a posterior and perpendicular extension including the previous house from the rear. The stone base has been modified as you can see on the ground floor that the original staircase has undergone modifications but still remain visible part of the original wooden screw and the rounded shape of the stairwell in the west wall which is indicated its place. The staircase on the ground floor only gives access to the basement. Access to the floors is today via another staircase contained in the side corridor. The rear part of the house includes in the wall a fireplace covered with a 17C woodwork which could hide an older granite fireplace. A fountain pierced in the south wall of the basement dates back to the 12C. The later enlargement of the house shows us that this fountain was first outside and that it could be accessed by the alley which led from the rue de la Bienfaisance to that of rue de la Monnaie.

vannes rue saint gunhael side of cat st pierre 14C jul14

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and is a must me think are

The Bay of Quiberon tourist office on Vannes

The Morbihan dept 56 Tourist board on Vannes

The city of Vannes on history and heritage sights:

The Bretagne region tourist board on Vannes

There you go, now you are loaded just release your inner thoughts and transport yourselves to the 14 or 15 or centuries and come to Vannes, you will like it I know ::) And what better ways to feel it all than by walking the streets of Vannes!

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

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February 25, 2021

Small quant towns of the Tarn in Occitanie!!

And I like  to update this wonderful little post of mine! From memorable sentimental Tarn dept 81 in the region of Occitanie of my belle France! These are small towns of my wife father’s side of the family and already with posts and pictures on them would just to give you a black and white series introduction on them. Hope you enjoy it as I !

As I go around my belle France it never ceased to amaze me the plethora of small towns, villages really that abound in beauty. This is all over on each department or region  on every road; its amazing, glad to be here. I love to drive a car , for me is freedom, independence, the lure to go into the nooks and crannies of places and no time to come back no hurry just leisure at my best time. It helps visiting these jewels of France.  The Occitanie region is dear to us, its the family on father’s side of my dear late wife Martine; she introduce me to it way back in 1990 and it has never stop nor it will ever.

Here we go with some of my little jewels of the Tarn and Occitanie

Giroussens sits above the Agout valley between Lavaur, Graulhet and Saint-Sulpice –la-Pointe at about 40 km from Toulouse. The village was originally located 1 km from its current location. A bit of history I like to follow.

A Gallo-Roman villa is located on the edge of the Agout river. It was occupied in the 5C by the Visigoths who left a necropolis (currently the Martels). The Lord Amalric de Lautrec erects Giroussens in Bastide, and from then on a city grows and thrives in the shelter of its ramparts. The Church of Saint-Salvi was rebuilt at the end of the 14C. In 1381, the Count of Foix-Béarn, Gaston Fébus, will defeat looters in the plain of Albi. Upon the death of the Count, Giroussens returned to the domain of king Charles VI. Then the city passed to Mathieu de Foix-Graillis by order of king Charles VII in 1425. Under Charles VIII, the estate returns to the Royal crown. But king Louis XIV ceded the lordship to François de Gélas, Viscount of Lautrec and Marquis of Ambers, in 1695. The village will remain in his descendants until the French revolution. The village is known for its production of painted terracotta and glazed lead from 1538. The museum of the neighboring Rabastens maintains a collection of more than a hundred dishes, plates, benitiers and stoves in glazed pottery originating from Giroussens.

Things to see in Giroussens, in addition, are the Jardin des Martels, the original castle, Pech Mascou, built in the 13C. In 1437, the castle was a royal prison but it was set ablaze by the Protestants in 1562. A second castle, the Château de Belbèze, was built in 1640 . It is of square plan with four towers covered with pyramid roofs. It was ceded and sold eventually in the French revolution. The Church of Saint-Salvi dates from the 14C. It consists of a four-span nave with arched warheads and a polygonal five-part choir. Three chapels are present in the spans. The façade is surmounted by a steeple-wall. The Church has furniture of altarpieces and paintings from the 17C and 18C. The chapel in the north is dedicated to Sainte Rufine, patron saint of potters and has a altarpiece of 1637. The walls of the nave are covered with wall painting by Fernand Augé (1896) and Paul Prouho (1900).

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are the general Tarn department 81 tourist office, which is valid for all the towns in this post here:

The ceramic center for pottery traditions and sales to the public here:

The gardens of Martels just lovely:

A nice little train that goes from Giroussens to Saint-Lieux de Lavaur very nice for the family and helping preserve a beautiful tradition:

There is a tiny town nearby we like because we took the little train above with the boys, it is magical, kept by old railroad workers and trying to preserve a tradition that merits a visit by all.  Saint-Lieux lés Lavaur is located at 2 km east of Saint-Sulpice-la-Pointe.  A bit of history I like says that in 1240, Raymond VII was Count of Toulouse, son of Raymond VI, count of  Toulouse, Saint-Gilles, Marquis of Gothie and Provence, Duke of Narbonne and  Jeanne of England. He is then Lord of Saint-Lieux-lès-Lavar.  By 1655, the town is given to the bishop of Lavaur. At the end of the 17C, Saint-Lieux was part of the township of Lavaur circa 1802-1803. The village of Saint-Lieux is located on the edge of the Agout river.  And the little train is the major and only attraction here More of it in French :

Another wonderful small town is Saint Paul Cap de Joux , which before 1891, was commonly known as Saint-Paul-de-Damiatte. By 1585: Passage to Saint-Paul of Henri of Navarre. The future King Henry IV will sign the manifesto of St. Paul with the Vice Languedoc, Henri I, duke of Montmorency. In 1622, St. Paul served as the rear base for the Protestant leader of the region, Henri de Bourbon, marquis de Malauze, during the siege of Briatexte during the rebellion of the Huguenots. The wonderful thing to visit here is the Parish Church, from the 19C, of Neo-Romanesque style, it contains murals (1878) by Bernard Benezet, a renowned Toulouse painter. The altar could be the work of Viollet le Duc.

The city of Saint Paul Cap de Joux on the church:

We move on to Rabastens as well in the Tarn ,located between  Lisle sur Tarn and Saint Sulpice la Pointe.

A little bit on the history I like:  The vestiges of a Gallo-Roman city in Las Peiras about 1 km outside town proved of the ancient times here. In the early 12C, the city was run by a co-lordship. The family of Rabastens is close to the Counts of Toulouse: Raymond de Rabastens is Bishop of Toulouse from 1200 to 1205 and Pierre Raymond is part of the Council of Raymond VI. In 1210 the co-lords gave up their rights of justice to the Earl of Toulouse, who protected the inhabitants. They attributes them freedoms and privileges. Rabastens’s loyalty to the counts of Toulouse, especially Pandian de Rabastens, is going to cost him a lot. Under the Treaty of Paris (1229), the city was forced to destroy its fortifications. The city becomes a consulate during this period. Peace returned, Rabastens knows at the end of the 13C prosperous thanks to its vineyard, then the most extensive of the Gaillac. The quality of Rabastens wine is recognized. The gabares, flat-bottomed boats, descend the Tarn with barrels of Rabastens to Bordeaux.

The Notre-Dame de Bourg ‘Church was built between 1230 and 1260 on the initiative of the Benedictine monks of Moissac, present at the priory in the 12C. It has a large, rectangular nave, with four arched spans of warheads and entirely in bricks, according to the model of the Saint-Étienne cathedral in Toulouse. In the 14C, prior Bernard Latour decided to add a polygonal chorus to the nave.  Being located on the pilgrimage route of Puy-en-Velay to Santiago de Compostela, the Church will be embellished with frescoes illustrating different episodes of the real or legendary life of St James the Mayor or Santiago el Mayor de Compostela.The town of Rabastens was a stopover town for pilgrims as evidenced by the Saint-Jacques Hospital and the Jacquaire heritage of the city.

In 1561, during the first religious war, the Protestants took over Rabastens and killed several Franciscans. The Massacre of Saint Bartholomew (24 August 1572 in Paris) was repeated in Rabastens well after 24 August as Protestants were massacred on October 5th. Early in the 19C ; Rabastens took its present appearance: the ditches were gradually filled to form the promenade of Lices, a suspension bridge is built on the Tarn in 1835 and the façade of Notre-Dame du Bourg is completed with the addition of a second tower. The artisan tradition remains with the weavers and shoemakers of the Middle Ages. They give way to cabinetmakers and furniture manufacturers.

The cooperative cellar created in 1953 energizes the economy of Rabastens. Other things to see are the City/ own hall, Old Priory. 16C turret. Museum of the country Rabastinois: Installed in the 17C mansion of the family La Fite de Pelleporc de Gourdas. The dovecote, located at the exit of the city, along the road to Saurs, surrounded by a park, the place is usually called the Pigo. The Hotel de la Castagnate (current Puységur free school) a former mansion of the Count Louis Pierre de Chastenet de Puységur.

The tourist office of the Tarn dept 81 on Rabastens

We go on with this magical ride into Lisle sur Tarn, a 13C Bastide, situated on the banks of the Tarn river , in the heart of the Gaillac vineyard, Lisle-sur-Tarn enjoys a privileged position halfway between Toulouse and Albi. On the site de Montaguet was a fortified village on the pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela. His lord is a vassal of the counts of Toulouse. During the Albigeois Crusade, the northern Tarn, faithful to the Earl of Toulouse Raymond VI, and then Raymond VII, was the seat of destructive rides on the part of the Crusaders of Simon de Montfort. During the Treaty of Meaux-Paris which ended the fighting in 1229, order is given to dismantle the ramparts. According to the archives of Lisle, the inhabitants came to settle near a hermitage and a castle known as Castel de Belbézé. With the consent of the Count of Toulouse, a bastide was created to house the former inhabitants of the “Castel” of Montaguet and to respond to an increase in the population. The Bastide is surrounded by walls and ditches. The inhabitants called La Bastide la Yla, the island, because of its location along the river and the presence of streams around it. Upon the death of Alphonse de Poitiers, the Bastide and its dependencies enter the realm of the crown of France.

The true heritage of this city lies in its layout of streets arranged perpendicularly on a regular basis, constituting four districts delimited by four fortified gates. With its 4 425 m², its central square is one of the largest squares in Arcades of Bastide in the southwest of France. The facades are in red or half-timbered bricks. Just amazing indeed!  The Notre-Dame de la Jonquière Church, built in the 13C and 14C, is wonderful. The Castle of Gines. The Tumulus of Saint Salvi of Coutens : mount of land about 10 meters high, made by hand, whose tradition reports that it could be the burial of an English general… It is on the path of the GR walkers trail. The legend that an English general would be buried under a given megalith gives to the story in other places in France. Do not forget to try the chocolate tour and tasting in the Central square or Place Paul Saissac and see there the wonderful Fountain of Griffoul. The city has tourist info and on the wonderful wines call of Gaillac. This is from where our family gets the wine after generations, see wines of Clements and Saurs.

The city of Lisle sur Tarn on the chocolates:

Castelnau de Montmiral one of the most beautiful villages of France as some of the others here. A town between Albi and Montauban. This Bastide Albigensian was founded in 1222 by Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse, who gave the Bastide the same franchises as Cordes and Gaillac.  Its primitive name is Castellum Novum montis Mirabilis which means something like the new castle of mount admirable. The diminutive of Montmiral was commonly used in official acts, including in the 19C in the civil status of the village. This diminutive is still used today by its inhabitants.

At the end of the 14C, the Bastide was part of the domains of Count Bernard VII of Armagnac in 1470, king Louis XI took the estates of the Count of Armagnac. Georges II de la Trémoille, sire of Craon, Governor of Tours, councillor and first Chamberlain of Louis XI, obtained from the King the lordship of Castelnau-de-Montmiral, Villeneuve and Milhavet. After 1479, Louis I of Amboise, Bishop of Albi, obtained permission from the king to acquire the lordship. Charles I of Armagnac was reinstated in his lordship in 1484. He settled in Castelnau, where he died in 1497. The lordship then enters the realm of the Royal crown. King Louis XIII, returning from the siege of Saint-Antonin, passed in Castelnau-de-Montmiral on June 24, 1622, housed in Tonnac. It is also the place of residence of the famous Privat family. Some other things to see here are the Place des Arcades with his pillory. The Assumption Church (the bell dates from 1554). Fortified  gates such as those of  Garrics,and  Toulze. The numerous stone and half-timbered houses. Ramparts. The Castle of  Guet destroyed in 1819 which is found on the coat of arms of the village. Cross Reliquary called Montmiral, executed in 1341 by a goldsmith of Albi and completed by a goldsmith of Toulouse after various efforts.  Several small castles are located in the village such as those of Corduriès, Fézembat, Mazières, and Meyragues. Several underground refuge. And the   Forest of Grésigne. More on Castelnau de Montmirail  in French here:

Last but not least is Graulhet ,where we still have family like cousins of my wife living there.  The town needs to be reach by car as there is no train station, and even this it is a bit off the A68 road connecting Toulouse to Albi and really link to Gaillac by the D964 road . Naturally, we come here by car.

There have been archaeological discoveries, dated from about 500 to 100 B.C.  The Roman presence is manifested among other things by the presence of a Gallo-Roman oppidum.   The castrum of Graulhet, first mentioned in 961, in a testament of Raymond I, Count of Rouergue. In 1166, Graulhet, then a lordship, passed under the control of the Counts of Toulouse. In the 16C, faithful to the Catholic Church of Rome, although in Cathar country, the city suffered relatively little damage during the crusade against the Albigeois and during the wars of religion, partly thanks to the policy of Louis Amboise of Aubijoux , Lord and Earl of Graulhet, who is also lieutenant-general. In the 17C, the grandson of Louis Amboise of Aubijoux, François-Jacques amboise was the friend and protector of Molière from 1647 to his death, as the artist began his career and just fled his Parisian creditors. Its Chateau de Crins hosts at the same time troubadours like Chapelle and Cachaumont, on the edge of the Dadou river.

Some of the things to see here are the Château de Lezignac (17C), the old bridge, built in 1244 allowing communication between the old village and the new Saint-Jean neighborhood where tanneries were gradually settled on the right bank of the Dadou river.  The Medieval district of Panessac with rue Panessac  a typical medieval style alley, narrow, lined with wooden-framed buildings and corbelled from the 16C and 17C . The Hostellerie du Lyon d’Or, a superb medieval building; Henri de Navarre, future king Henri IV, made a gourmet stopover here. Note the crosses of St. Andrew, typical of the 15C, on its beautiful facade and the marks of assembly in Roman numerals on the wooden sections. The Notre-Dame-du-Val-d’Amour Church, at the foot of which is the funerary slab of Louis Amboise of Aubijoux. Home of the leather trades: visit of an ancient Mégisserie, the different stages of the transformation of leather, from skin to objects made of leather. More from the town city hall of Graulhet on its heritage:

There you go another wonderful tour me think, and a wonderful gorgeous area of my belle France. Enjoy these small quant wonderful towns of the Tarn in Occitanie.

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

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February 25, 2021

Some news from Spain XCIX

And here on a bright sunny cool day in my neck of the woods I come back to you with news of my beloved Spain. It has been difficult periods and not much desire or opportunity to go out and enjoy as we can go out but most is closed. Let me tell you a bit more on what is my 99th post on my series Some news from Spain, Roman numerals XCIX! thanks for reading me over these years, appreciated.

As the world turns so is my Spain. Something in this pandemia governments try to hide but pros are saying loud and clear is the fact tourism is hurting badly and represent large portion of revenue for the regions and country. The number of tourists who arrived in Madrid until December 2020 was around 1.71 million, compared to the 10.4 million visitors the previous year, according to the National Institute of Statistics!!! . So that it stops being a pending subject, and on the occasion of the International Tourist Guide Day, They will tell us a little more about the History of Madrid to learn from it.

Madrid is home to the oldest restaurant in the world certified by the Guinness Book of Records, and legend has it that Francisco de Goya worked in its kitchens as a young man. It was inaugurated in 1725 and is called Restaurante Sobrino de Botín.yeah!

Madrid has the largest Royal Palace in Western Europe, doubling the size of the famous Buckingham, for example. Yeah! The oldest building in the city is the Temple of Debod, brought from Egypt at the end of the 60s. The oldest indigenous building is, however, far from the tourist focus: in the heart of the Carabanchel neighborhood stands the Hermitage of Santa María La Antigua, built in the 13C. Go see it

In Madrid’s Berlin Park you can admire remains of the famous wall that divided the German capital for decades. The shortest street in Madrid is perpendicular to the most famous one: its name is Rompelanzas, it is barely twenty meters long and is located halfway along Calle Preciados between Callao and Sol. Yes indeed!

At the Puerta de la Torre de los Lujanes (15C), the oldest civil building in Madrid, there are stonemason marks, symbols that identified the artisans or workshops that carved the ashlars that were placed in homes or churches and that they facilitated the collection of the work carried out, in addition to publicizing them.

There are rarely seen views, such as those enjoyed from the Cuña de O’Donnell park, similar to those enjoyed from the better-known Cerro del Tío Pío park or the Siete Tetas park, but with a different perspective. You can also visit housing colonies from the end of the 19C and the 20s and 30s of the 20C outside the center. For example, what remains of the Madrid Moderno neighborhood, located in La Guindalera, is an authentic and surprising marvel of style neo-Mudejar and modernism. The Cuña de O’Donnell park is a new extention very nicely done and located at Cemetery Nuestra Señora de La Almudena, bounded by the extension of Calle O’Donnell street to the north, by Calle Doctor García Tapia and Calle José Bergamín to the south, to the east by Calle Fuente Carrantona and to the west by Calle Arroyo de la Media Legua. Enjoy it

The vast majority of the time they look for good, beautiful and cheap places, both for informal meetings and for work meetings or hangouts with friends, now that the afternoon is taking so much, or even an appointment – whichever has one. Now in crisis we look more at our pockets, but we do not resign ourselves to stop going out, because socialization with restrictions has become, more than ever, a moment of evasion where we can forget the coronavirus, always respecting security measures and with the utmost care. Yeah life goes on and these two are great places enjoy it.

To create a gourmet space with a shop, restaurant and cafeteria where quality products reign in Chamberí district of Madrid. You can go to breakfast and go out having bought the bread, tomatoes from the garden, sausage or smoked oil made by them with their own machine, have some incredible wines with mussels and anchovies, which come out of the can to your mouth whole, and finish with a bite of homemade torrijas or Pão de Ló following the traditional Portuguese recipe. D.Origen Calle Gaztambide, 62, Madrid. Their Facebook page:

Various differentiated and minimalist environments to be at ease with interpersonal distance and a renewed Spanish cuisine menu, with starters such as black pudding fritters with honey tears, confit artichokes or grilled foie with caramelised onion and low-temperature egg. To continue, fish, meat and healthy and current dishes such as avocado and tomato tartare. Its winery stands out, with the main Spanish denominations of origin, and the house wine especially, a selection from the Martínez Lacuesta winery, in Rioja. En Recoletos. Calle Recoletos, 13 Madrid.Their webpage:

They are the restaurants with the best wine cellars’s lists in Spain. My favorites are:

ATRIO (Cáceres) . More than 4,000 references, including 42 vintages from Mouton-Rothschild, 27 from Latour, 23 from Petrus … and 80 from the mythical Château d’Yquem, the largest collection in the world outside the winery, which can be visited in a small chapel and which started in 1806. Every year, the restaurant’s updated wine book is published, a bibliophile gem.Yes indeed; have it! Webpage:

LAVINIA (Madrid); the favorite still in my Madrid.   In its more than a thousand square meters, the largest wine store in Spain houses more than 4,500 wines from all over the world and from all price ranges. All, absolutely all, can be consumed in the local bistro ,which has a pleasant urban terrace at store prices! webpage:

REKONDO (San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa). Unanimously recognized as one of the best wineries in the world, it responds to the passion for wine of Txomin Rekondo, who comments on the restaurant’s website: “In 1964, I decided to turn my hobby into my way of life and that’s how the Rekondo winery was born. Since then we have continued to buy wine from all over the world and improve our offering. ” In that time, it has collected thousands of bottles from more than 20 countries, among which the old vintages of great Rioja classics stand out. Another historical and great town too. Webpage:

I told you in previous post and the work continues as the Prado Museum reinvents its future with more social painting, more history and more women. The gallery is preparing the rearrangement of a good part of its exhibits. This is ongoing and when re open it will be a new Prado.To be seen a must!

And great news in this mess of the pandemia!  The great dream of the gallery owner Helga de Alvear is finally a reality; she opens her new museum of contemporary art in Cáceres after an investment of 10 million euros, almost half supported by institutional support from the Junta de Extremadura.

Nestled in the heart of the monumental city, with an area of 5,000 m2 (8,000 with a garden and provision for storage), the first exhibition – which will be inaugurated today Thursday by the Kings of Spain. It houses 200 works selected from the nearly 3,000 that the collector of German origin (Rhineland, 1936) since she settled in Spain in 1957. A new building with wide ceilings that houses the most complete private collection of contemporary art that currently exists in Europe. The new building houses a selection of works by artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Pablo Picasso, Louise Bourgeois, Wassily Kandinsky, Helena Almeida and Ai Weiwei, among others. Another room has also been designed for Francisco de Goya, through the first edition of Sus Caprichos (whims), to disseminate his influence on modern and contemporary art. A first phase of rehabilitation of the so-called Casa Grande, of 3,000 square meters, where until now the Helga de Alvear Foundation has exhibited. The building of the Museum of Contemporary Art; subsequently, a construction of another 15,000 m2 was projected for this new one. Part of the garden has yet to be completed and a warehouse and offices have been prepared. The building will have three entrances. The idea was to join the old city of Cáceres in a corridor, from Calle Pizarro street, to the extension that represents the access through Calle Camino Llano. The webpage of the Helga de Alvear Foundation

Some drawing from Dali found!! The Sacrament of the Last Supper (1955) is one of Dalí’s most popular works. It is in the collection of the National Gallery in Washington. It is a vast representation of the Last Supper in which an ethereal torso with outstretched arms, possibly the risen Christ, hovers over the seated figures of Christ and the apostles. An alleged unpublished sketch of this work has come to light, along with two others related to the artist’s religious-themed works: ‘Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)’, in which he painted Gala as a devotional figure before a crucified Christ, and ‘Calavera de Zurbarán’, his homage to the 17C Spanish master. Yesterday, the Gala-Salvador Dalí de Figueras Foundation did not want to comment on these unpublished items as it had not been able to see them yet. Keep an eye on it as this can be a great find and more reason to visit when possible. The foundation webpage:

Somthing to keep in mind for when will be possible to travel again in my beloved Spain. Some fortresses and castles of architectural and historical value I like, many with individual posts in my blog. Enjoy it

Most impressive fortresses in Spain, me think are

The Alcazaba of La Alhambra, (Granada) is, together with the Torres Bermejas, the oldest part of the Granada monumental site. Built in the 9C, it was dedicated to the surveillance and control of the city as well as the habitual residence of the elite army. It served not only for defence against enemies but also against internal uprisings. This great wall allowed that, even with the fall of the protected city, the citadel resisted during a long period. In the enclosure you can visit the Quebrada towers, the Homage towers and the famous Torre de la Vela.

The Alcàzar de los Reyes Cristianos (Cordoba). Stands next to the impressive Mosque which Alfonso XI restored this fortress that was part of the Caliphal palace and that, after being destroyed by the troops of Fernando III el Santo, in 1328. It preserves the keep and rooms with Roman mosaics and furniture old, as well as some beautiful gardens with Mudejar pools and fountains.

The Alcàzar de Jerez de la Frontera (Càdiz). Located opposite the cathedral, this 11C Arab fortification preserves seven towers (of the twelve it originally had) as well as two gates, the Ciudad (City) and the Campo (Country). Inside, the Chapel of Santa María stands out, a Christian transformation of an old mosque, as well as some Arab baths and a Renaissance palace.

The Alcazaba de Màlaga.(Màlaga) This defensive citadel is the main Arab monument in Malaga. Of the three original wall canvases ordered to be built by the Abderramán de Córdoba, two remain, set with defensive towers and with several access gates. The fortress is completed with three palaces whose workmanship recalls that of the Alhambra in Granada. Inside is the Archaeological Museum of Malaga.

The Alcàzar de Molina de Aragon (Guadalajara). This town with an intense border history between Castile and Aragon, and sensational natural landscapes preserves as its most representative monument a fortress with a castle, walls and the so-called Tower of Aragon. A spacious and elegant complex built by the Andalusians on an old Celtiberian fort between the 10C and 11C and which served as a bastion for the important Señorío de Molina, almost an independent nation of Castile and Aragon- in the 14C.

The Alcàzar de Segovia (Segovia). Between the Eresma and Clamores rivers, this imposing fortress dates back to pre-Roman times. It was rebuilt in the 13C as a royal palace, expanded in a Gothic style and endowed with a Herrerian air with Central European touches by king Felipe II. Completely restored in 1951 after the fire that ravaged it at the end of the 19C, its imposing location is joined by a spectacular interior: the Patio de Armas, the Throne Room, the Galera room or the Kings room, adorned with a luxurious frieze that recreates the original.

The Alcàzar de Toledo (Toledo). Erected at the wish of king Carlos V on the remains of previous fortresses, it was the architect Alonso de Covarrubias who gave the fortress its current plan in 1537. A quadrangular shape with four powerful towers. Successive fires and an underground charge of dynamite during the Spanish Civil War almost led to its destruction. After successive interventions it regained its splendor and in recent decades it has hosted the Army Museum and, more recently, the Library of Castilla-La Mancha, considered the second most important in the country behind the National Library!

You might have read heard or visit them and should know ,Spain has one of the richest palace heritages in Europe some of my favorites are:

The Royal Palace of Aranjuez (Madrid). It was practically destroyed after being destroyed by fire in 1748, but this residence of the Spanish royalty remains so spectacular that many guides refer to it as “the Spanish Versailles”. It was king Felipe II who entrusted the task of building the palace (as he did with the El Escorial Monastery) to his trusted architect, Juan Bautista de Toledo. He devised a beautiful French-style complex where its dazzling gardens and fountains stand out.

The Nazari palaces of Granada (Granada). In the list of the most beautiful palaces in Spain, the Nasrid Palaces (Comares and Los Leones) located inside the Alhambra in Granada, one of the wonders not only of Spain but of the whole world, could not be missing. These two Andalusian complexes with patios and gardens so impressed the Catholic Monarchs that they established their residence here after the conquest of the Nasrid kingdom.

The Granja de San Ildefonso of Segovia (Segovia). About 13 km from Segovia is the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, a majestic residence built by order of King Felipe V (born in Versailles). The first Bourbon monarch brought a taste for elegant palaces from France and decided to apply it to this architectural jewel , entrusting the project to the architect Teodoro Ardemans. Often call the Little Versailles.

The Palace of the Infantado (Guadalajara). The Palace of the Dukes of Infantado is a 15C building ordered to be built by Íñigo López de Mendoza y Luna, second Duke of Infantado, in Guadalajara. It is an Elizabethan Gothic style palace with Renaissance elements, such as the diamond points that decorate its façade. The exterior beauty of the palace is sublime, but the interior has nothing to envy. Its rooms are arranged around a splendid patio with a beautiful Gothic balcony.

The Royal Palace of Madrid (Madrid). Located where the Alcázar used to be, the Royal Palace of Madrid was ordered to be built by king Felipe V. The gossip then said that it was the monarch himself who caused the fire that destroyed the old Alcázar, in order to build this elegant palace in the French Baroque style . However, the king never came to live in it, since he died before its construction was completed. On the other hand, the Royal Palace is not only one of the most beautiful palaces in Spain: it is also the largest royal palace in all of Western Europe (double the area of Buckingham Palace and Versailles Palace).

And there you go folks a bit on my beloved Spain, some news and some must visit sights when possible. As you know if read my blog, an advertising campaign from the 80’s read and I like it, Spain , everything under the sun!! Enjoy Spain as we do! And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

February 25, 2021

The streets of Paris, a museum to the world!!!

Ahh just need to update the links and revise somewhat the text of this wonderful post, me think::) Walking Paris is a must, sublime, gorgeous uplifting experience always. Paris is eternal and just let me take you on a walk of it! Hope you enjoy it and thanks for reading me over the years!

Who would not want to walk in Paris? The question might make you think a bit…but really should be a go; as the streets of Paris are an open air museum, a grand museum at that. I have done some traveling in France… and Paris… specifically as working in the city for 9 years while living in Versailles and now visiting often ,every month when possible…. However, walking the streets is a must, a dire hard must for all.  And yes, that means forget about that wonderful metro experience you have heard or the bus or the tramway or the RER trains, nothing compares to walking in Paris. Oh yes I drive in Paris too, but even that is second to the thrill of walking the streets of Paris. That is the title of my post; The streets of Paris!

Moving on in my Paris, with few pictures for the show off! Paris is a mouvable feast well it happens all in the street. A bit of a story. When I started working in Paris I came by train from Versailles rive droite to Gare Saint Lazare and took metro line 12 to Concorde near my office.  The walking in the underground passage ways was horrible and the folks walk very fast taken me about 18 minutes to get to the office. One day I asked one of  my colleagues for a way to come walking if possible. The colleague told oh yes this is what you do. Go out of gare Saint lazare past rue Saint Lazare and bear slightly left into rue du Havre; past blvd Haussmann by the great department stores, Au Printemps; and continue into rue Tronchet right into the place de la Madeleine; bear left on the Madeleine church and continue on the back on rue Duphot, cross Rue Saint Honoré and bear left than a quick right into rue Cambon; then left on rue du Mont Thabor , then right into rue Rouget de Lisle into my job; time 18 minutes!! The end of public transports in Paris was ended, this was back in 2004!


From that moment on, I would go by car into Paris, parked and walk all over even kilometers, miles ; it is an open museum I tell you. Really! and free!!! Many have said it but some picturesques street routes are the rue des Barres by the Church Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais around 15C houses! Rue de l’Abreuvoir in Montmartre;  Cour du Commerce-Saint André right by parallel to the rue de l’ancienne comedie and before reaching blvd Saint-Germain; Rue Montorgueil crossing rue Etienne Marcel; Rue Cremieux by the gare de Lyon, falling into rue de Bercy;Rue des Rosiers in the old jewish quarter ; rue de Lepic into Montmartre again; Rue Saint Antoine from the Bastille area into Saint Paul passing by the place des Vosges nearby; Avenue Winston Churchill ending in the Pont Alexandre III and bisecting the Grand and Petit Palais; and the Quai de Jemmapes along the Canal Saint Martin ; just to give some starting points as they are many many more in my eternal Paris!

Of course , speaking of streets , there are many hidden passagesways some private and other historical passages that connect you underneath some buildings from one street to the other, great!  Here is the Paris tourist office on them and of course, have some on my posts,enjoy it:

Now, I like to tell you about some of my nicest walks in Paris over time.

I like to walk between the Pont d’Austerlitz and the Pont Saint Michel!  You start on the pont d’Austerlitz (b. 1885 en cement)  by place Valhubert  and walk along the Seine river and continue along the quai Saint-Bernard and go down the stairs to the port Saint Bernard where the 5eme arrondissement starts and the neighborhood or quartier of Jardin des Plantes; right here you have the musée des sculptures en Plein Air de la Ville de Paris!  More on the Paris tourist office:

You continue along the Seine river ,and pass the Pont de Sully (b 1876) rapidly you arrive at the Pont de la Tournelle (b 1928)  , where you will see the statue to Sainte Geneviévre (saint patron of Paris) and right by here you see the building of the Tour d’Argent well known restaurant done in 1582!!! and on a terrace since 1937 on the 6th floor.  This bridge or pont de la tournelle finish at the pont de l’Archevêché, the narrowest bridge in Paris for traffic with only 11 meters wide;  from here continue to the port de Montebello where you can see the the re routing of the Biévre river windmills that gave the name to the rue de la Biévre (where had to go many times on business runs to office there); from here you can be at  the square Jean XXIII and see the Cathedral Notre Dame back ; continue your walk along the Seine without crossing over the bridge and you find by the pont au Double (b 1883).

You can walk on the above bridge  by the square Jean XXIII and continue in rive gauche or left bank side to the rue de la Bûcherie and rue de la Huchette.  You see the Petit pont (b 1853)  only bridge done in molded stones and the oldest passage of the  Seine river that were done since Roman times, and also the shortest bridge in Paris with only 32 meters long!  It was by here the last fire of Paris in 1718 determine forever not to built homes on the bridges.  After this bridge there is no more harbor or port area but continue walking along the Seine to the Pont Saint Michel with the big N of Napoléon III the bridge built in 1857 in cement. Here was the last houses on the bridge in Paris lasting until 1808. The quai Saint Michel was not done until 1816 while the follow up wharfs that of quai des Grands Augustins was already built since 1313!  Go over the bridge or pont Saint Michel to leave the 5éme arrondissement and enters into the 6éme arrondissement of Paris and the quartier Monnaie (Info/ Paris is divided into 20 arrondissement  (now group 4 into Paris Centre so really 17 but for postal matters kept the old standard ) or districts and each district is divided into four neighborhoods or a total of 80 neighborhoods or quartiers where Parisiens really live::))  Here you go up by the Place Saint Michel to see the monumental fountain of 26 meters !!! Lovely !!!

Another great walking trip along the Seine river is that one from the Pont de la Concorde to the Pont de Bir-Hakeim.  Right along my old working area of Paris you start at the wonderful pont de la Concorde (just off the place de la Concorde go down by the ramps into the Seine river by the port des Champs-Elysées done in 1938 in a pleasure harbor and today housing péniches or boats on the Seine.  You see on the rive gauche side the beautiful mansions of the Palais Bourbon, and hotel de Lassay (later the petit bourbon) and now the latter houses the resident of the president of the house of representatives of France ,and the first one the Assamblée Nationale. Later you see the building of the ministry of foreign affairs done in 1854 and now locally known as the quai d’Orsay, and just before the esplanade des Invalides you see the building with columns and balustres that was from 1900-1946 the train station of the line Invalides-Versailles and today the line RER C underground. There is a stairs giving you access to the cours La Reine at the angle of the bridge or pont Alexandre III (b 1900) ; the bridge is a bit lower to not hide the view of the Invalides; the first stone was laid by czar Nicolas II of Russia in 1896 and becoming the most prestigious bridge of Paris. You continue on the port des Champs-Elysées by an oval stair with great views of the Tour Montparnasse, left the Invalides and high up the equestrian statue of La Fayette was later transferred to the cour Napoléon in the Louvre museum!



You go up to find the Place du Canada (by cours La Reine and cours Albert Ier) to continue your wlak along the Seine river. You will arrive at the Pont des Invalides (b 1856) ;you can continue on the port de la Conférence by the pont de l’Alma going up the ramp at the end into cours Albert Ier where you arrive at the traffic circle or place de l’Alma.  Here you see the wonderful pont de l’Alma (b 1974) after several renovations since the original of 1856.  Here the 8éme arrondissement gives to the 16 arrondissement of Paris in the quartier Chaillot.  Continue along the Seine river into the avenue de New York (quai des Bonshommes in 1572, then quai de la conference 1769, quai de Tokyo 1918-1945 and finally New York since 1945); many meetings in this avenue de New York wonderful Mona Bismarck foundation (now call the American Center for Arts and Culture).

You have the corner angle of the Palais de Tokyo leave the sidewalks of the avenue NY by a stair that descend on the Seine river ,as the port Debilly and the nice walkway or passerelle Debilly (b 1900); done to link the two portions of the Universal Exhibition of 1900; now it is at the rue de la Manutention.  Leaving the rive droite we come into the port de La Bourdonnais (from the rue de l’Université to the rue Jean-Nicot in the Champ-de-Mars); going up you reach the quai Branly just before the pont de l’Alma now in the 7éme arrondissement , quartier Gros Caillou!  Go right into quai Branly until the ramp coming from the port with a stair, many parking spaces here ::) you see the Tour Eiffel and the Palais de Chaillot, before reaching up the pont d’Iéna (b 1814)  and continue below on the port de Sufffren (of many wine and gourmand tastings in the Pierre Cardin (RIP) boat Maxim!!!)  many cruising boats here, Batobus including good parking yes! and see the pont de Bir-Hakeim ! (b 1905) viaduct metro line 6 above ground as it was known viaduct de passy until 1949. It is the longest of all the bridges in Paris with 237 meters long. Before 1860 you come out from here as Paris to go the town of Grenelle! now part of Paris thanks to Baron Haussmann and Napoléon III! Very nice indeed!


Well you get the idea and so many more wonderful walks, again believe me when I say Paris is an open air museum and meant to be preserve as such. We all have our favorites but I keep saying my favorite every time I write a post lol!!! IN essence ,they are all my favorites as Versailles is right up there too!  Enjoy the walks!!

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

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