Archive for March 20th, 2021

March 20, 2021

A memorable lunch in Toulouse!

Back to you in a winter in Toulouse, the pink city we love. Of course, plenty of posts on it in my blog and this one too. However, always a stop for us while visiting the city or area! And we keep coming back and always glorious cooking as the cassoulet! Hope you enjoy the post as we!

In my continuing saga with the pink city of Toulouse I bring you to eating out. And you are in for a good one here in my belle France of course. The culinary experts here is the cassoulet dish and even if imitators and competitors this one remains the only one unique, me think. OF course, came here first with my dear late wife Martine as her father was from the area and the tradition continues even if missing a large part of our lives.  The dish even has a page in the tourist office of Toulouse! We love it and I die for it; each time here must have one and where better than in our ritual place at Place Victor Hugo right above the market of same name, the restaurant Le Loubechem! A family tradition for years…

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Of course, there are others, but this one is a family tradition of many years going back to the founders of the restaurant and my wife’s father’s family from the area.  We have been coming to Le Louchebem since 1994 when it opened and keep coming back!! The word Louchebem is the result of the deformation by jargon of the word butcher attested for the first time in 1876 in the form luchebem, was then used to indicate the jargon of louchébems or the butchers’ talk, in other words the slang of butchers from second half of the 19C. Louchébem remains known and used today in this professional universe.

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The Le Louchebem restaurant opened its doors in 1994, above the marché Victor Hugo market at Place Victor Hugo square. This traditional establishment is a family home that serves a restaurant and a butcher. It holds the title of Maître Restaurateur. The cuisine concocted here is prepared from fresh and carefully chosen products. The setting is picturesque, the atmosphere friendly, the service as professional as smiling. In other words, it is a good address for Toulouse residents as well as for passing visitors. You must absolutely taste the house specialties, as plentiful as delicious. An institution warmly recommended to all!

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The official webpage of Le Louchebem restohttps://www.lelouchebem-toulouse.fr/

The cassoulet is of occitan origins and is a specialty based on dry beans, generally white, and meat. Originally it was made from beans. The cassoulet takes its name from the enamelled terracotta casserole made in Issel. It is usually told that the place the origin is in the city of Castelnaudary, during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453).  During the siege of Castelnaudary by the English, the hungry besieged would have gathered all the food available (beans and meat), to make a gigantic stew or estofat, to reinvigorate the combatants. These could then drive out the English and liberate the city.  The question became nationalized around 1900 when the food critic Edmond Richardin launched a debate on this subject in the Parisian Gazette. Everyone then took sides for a region such as Castelnaudary, Carcassonne, and Toulouse, while by passing the existence of local versions like Villefranche-de-Lauragais, Narbonne, Montauban, Pau or Pamiers. To mediate this rivalry, Prosper Montagné ; a Languedocien gourmet who became a cook in Toulouse, uses a metaphor : “Cassoulet is the God of Occitan cuisine. A God in three people: God the Father who is the cassoulet of Castelnaudary, God the Son who is that of Carcassonne and the Holy Spirit, that of Toulouse. ” We of course, side with the version of Toulouse!!

The Toulouse cassoulet contains duck confit and a Toulouse sausage, carrot and an onion spiked with cloves. It is sometimes covered with breadcrumbs, before going to the oven. The number of times it is necessary, during baking, to break the crust that forms on the surface of the dish, is the subject of great quarrels of experts told between six and eight times depending on the versions and the chef. The tourist office of Toulouse on the cassoulet in English : https://www.toulouse-visit.com/cassoulet

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Hope you can visit Toulouse and enjoy this institution by a wonderful picturesque quant neighborhood of Victor Hugo! at the Place Victor Hugo inside the marché or market of Victor Hugo!! Enjoy the Le Loubechem!!

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

March 20, 2021

The streets of Toulouse!!!

So on my winter vacation to the pink city of Toulouse as elsewhere we really enjoy the walks in town. So much architecture and history can be found doing this in any city and Toulouse is no exception. Let me update this lovely post me think on the streets of Toulouse!

A wonderful city, much underrated but very special to  me.  I like to tell you about its streets and sights passing by in our glorious walks all over it.  Toulouse it’s really a walkers city as most if not all is within walking distance already as we have become European experts on walking. Some spots can be far for the un initiated ones but I say easy to do, so enjoy the walking on the streets of Toulouse.

I start right off with the Allées Jean Jaurés who goes from the Garonne river to the city center with great panoramic views of the city.

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The Place Wilson as commonly call by locals but full name is  place du Président-Thomas-Wilson (USA). This is one of the IN places in town very lively all the time.

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And one of the most shopping oriented streets in Toulouse is the Rue Lafayette right off the Capitole!

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I used it a couple of times as mostly come here by car but a very good prime train station in France, the Gare Matabiau (back) and the metro tram bus terminal of Marengo by the library or Mediathéque José Cabanis.

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And of course could not missed out on driving in Toulouse for convenience like coming into town find yourself a nice underground parking like at Place Esquirol and let your feet do the walking!! Enjoy Toulouse!

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 This is unique Toulouse, a highly recommended city to visit in my belle France, unique Occitanie or Midi-Pyrénnés of old. Department 31 Haute-Garonne!! Enjoy it as we do!

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

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March 20, 2021

Our ride and lodging in Toulouse!

This is an oddity I like to update in my blog. We do not like to go south in winter but this year we did and it was a nice experience. We went to very familiar territory in our beloved Toulouse of family trips to see family. The ride went well as we always come by car unless me a couple of times by train on business trips. Let me tell you a bit about our ride and lodging in Toulouse!

Well , in another era of our lives we were there alone missing my dear late wife Martine as a sort of a grand start to 2020 for us. The pink city is very special as not only visited several times over the years but family roots on wife’s father’s side.  We decided to take the tolls road this time so we can arrive early on and see as much as possible. We rented an appart hotel Adagio Jolimont with the metro stop Jolimont line A right down the stairs. We end up never using it lol, drove into the city and also walk over 2 kms!

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We drove on the N165 towards Nantes and then took the A83 and then the A10 to Bordeaux rocade A630 and finally the A62 to Toulouse, in all 49,40€ in tolls nice gov tax! but made it in 7h15 hours.  We check in easily into the Adagio Jolimont appart hotel on the top floor! nice views of the city from the pretty hill or Jolimont... Very friendly staff . Only complaint is the elevator/lift was not in service when arrive so need to climb the 6 floors for two days! Also, the free parking was off site but was never a problem to find a spot. The rest was superb and well recommended for families not willing to spent the vacation money on lodging.

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As said we walk a lot from here into the city center of  Toulouse and the sight seeings was ok but realise later on the traffic was great and easy on street parking as well as underground was found. You can see the posts on the sights with lots of picture just search Toulouse. On the way back we decided to go the free route 10 hours ! but worth it for the sights and friendly folks along the route, our preferred mode of transportation ,the car and free!

We left Jolimont Toulouse on the A62 exit 15 towards the D820 direction Montauban/Agen and kept on this road for a long time.  If you drove in France , you can remember this route as the old N20 , each departement decided to rename it after the new road rules of 2005. This road can be toll under the new A20. We have taken all of them over the years. The parts of the A20 we took are not toll ::).  You go here by the Hautes Garonne, Tarn et Garonne and Lot departements in the Occitanie region. We continue into the Corréze and Haute-Vienne in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region.  By Limoges you go into the N147 national road direction Poitiers. Here you take also the N149 to Bressuire and converges with the N249 around Cholet direction Nantes and it connects with the boulevard périphérique on the N844, and finally connects with the N165 Vannes and home!

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In all we carry our dog Rex for the longest ride and he was fantastic!!! very happy of him, good boy, not an incident and well behave: even ate at restaurants with us perfectly!!! The highlight of the trip really! I love my Rex, borador, mix border collier and labrador!  The apparhotel and restaurant we wanted to eat all took Rex in very nicely.

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Overall a very pleasant family trip! This time with mamà missing and walking its streets brought a lot of memories. Looking forward to tell you all about it,see my other posts . Hope you enjoy it and thank you for reading me over the years!

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

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March 20, 2021

My travels in the Morbihan, LXXXIV

Well did never occur to me these popular series in my blog when I started back in 2011! thanks for reading me over the years since 2010. This is the 84th post on the series where I write about miscellaneous travels in my Morbihan or petite mer or small sea…oh yes this is Breton language, the only department (56) not in French in France or the French Republic. Mor=sea bihan=small in our local language:Breton!

As it is trying to venture out and escape this virus thingy already geting tired of it; we go out into the wonderful Morbihan even just for a ride and see the things we have missed a picture before or new things to see when possible. This is the case of this week in my capital city of Vannes or Gwened (Breton). Plenty to see there but some spots needs more disclosure lol!! Let me tell you about Vannes ok.

The Aquarium of Vannes (yes we have a pretty small one!!) has three sections to see, Temperate seas Waters, Warm and tropical seas, and   Warm fresh waters. Admission when open is 14,30 euros adults. It is located at 21 Rue Daniel Gilard, on the Parc du Golfe in Vannes . You get there following signs for Gare Maritime / Casino-Jeux / Parc des Expositions. Parking is available for free at the Parc du Golfe, which is located opposite the aquarium and the ,also free Racker parking lot at the roundabout, follow the direction “Conleau” it is located immediately after. Something nice to see in the modern part of my Vannes! From the temperate waters of the Atlantic to the lagoons of the Pacific, from the Amazon River to the Nile… The Vannes aquarium is an immersion in the aquatic world, meeting fish from all over the world. The tour begins in the temperate waters of the Atlantic, where seahorses, rays and spider crabs provide an elegant ballet in this silent world. More colorful, the tropical waters seem immersed in a carnival of colors, with their surgeonfish and other clown fish. In the distance, the Nile crocodile is on the lookout, just like the piranhas that inhabit the waters of the Amazon River. You can feed turtles and sharks or the touch pool to stroke local species. Children can even celebrate their birthday, to immortalize this visit with all their friends. At the Vannes Aquarium, you will approach black tip sharks, green turtles … you will observe the hairy seahorses of the Gulf of Morbihan and the highlight of the visit, you will meet the famous Nile crocodile, found in the sewers of Paris in 1984. At the aquarium, everything is designed to captivate children! the nursery, the play area with climbing wall, the 3D cinema room, the sensory mat, touch pool activities, feeding of species … the children will inevitably have an unforgettable time!

There is even a mini-golf course part of the Aquarium! The ideal place to test your skills in a friendly and good ambiance ! With a course of 18 tracks, the mini-golf offers you 1h30 of relaxation. You will love the decorative arrangements that punctuate the course: lighthouse, mill, castle, tower, sundial and a suspension bridge 4 meters long. So many obstacles that give all players, young and old, the opportunity to have fun!

The official Aquarium of Vanneshttps://aquariumdevannes.fr/

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Closed by the aquarium, you have the Le Jardin aux Papillons or Butterfly Garden, where you will discover an ecosystem with hundreds of tropical flowers and plants, in the midst of which tropical butterflies and a few birds evolve. The site is covered and the conditions are tropical: it is between 20 and 28 ° C with an ambient humidity of 80 to 100%. The tropical climate conducive to life gives beautiful colors to plants and flowers. The luxuriant vegetation reveals its treasures to you: Coffee trees, Banana trees, Guava trees, Hibiscus in bloom, Citrus and Pass Flores.   Butterflies are shy but if you are discreet and attentive, you will be able to observe them all around you. Prefer a visit on a clear, sunny day, as they will be more active. You then walk among the butterflies which fly and forage in freedom. Opening days hours are April-May-June: 11h – 17h30; July-August: 10h – 19h. September: 12h – 17h Admission is 12.50 € adults. It is recommended that you visit the Jardin aux Papillons or Butterfly Garden on a sunny day: the butterflies are very sensitive to light and more active between 11h to 16h! An educational and nice place to visit with the whole family!

The official Jardin Aux Papillons of Vanneshttps://jardinauxpapillons.com/

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Right next to the butterfly garden you have the relaxing wonderful , Balneo on the parc du Golfe where you will be welcome for facials, body treatments and massages in 6 treatment rooms: 2 massage rooms 1 double cabin for massages and duo treatments 1 cabin dedicated to body scrubs, wraps and slimming treatments . This cabin is equipped with a Spajet (multi-sensory cocoon) to bring you more comfort during your treatments. 1 cabin equipped with a Medyjet for hydromassages on a hot water bed. 1 cabin reserved for facials, waxing and other treatments. It is as said on the Parc du Golfe on the shores of the Gulf of Morbihan, the spa offers you unique and privileged moments! There are massages from around the world: Californian massage, Balinese massage, Abhyanga massage, Thai massage, etc A place to relax in a nice area!

The official Balneo webpage: https://www.balneo-forme.com/

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And right after you have the Mercure hotel. One we have not stayed of course, but walked all over the property and do enjoy the restaurant Brasserie Edgar on several times. Let me tell you on a secret in Vannes!  Located near the ferry terminal and the Cohue exhibition center, the Mercure Vannes Le Port Hotel has spacious rooms, all facing south on the Gulf of Morbihan and its islands. Parking, wifi, restaurant, AC the works! Also, it is located 2 km from the historic center of Vannes. Activities available near the hotel include billiards, bowling (le master see post), canoeing and hiking. Located next to the port, the hotel is also located near the pier, where boats leave for the islands of the Gulf of Morbihan. Vannes TGV station is 3 km from the hotel. In addition, 2 charging stations for electric cars are available at the entrance of the establishment. On site, guests can enjoy traditional French cuisine and a selection of fresh seafood at La Brasserie Edgar, which features patios. Authentic decor, turn-of-the-century brasserie, specializing in traditional French cuisine. Lunch service noon to 14h30. Dinner until 22h on weekdays and 23h on weekends.

The official Mercure Vannes hotel: https://www.mercure-vannes.fr/

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The Rabine promenade along the quays will take you to the pier of the Gare Maritime of Vannes (cruise terminal) in the Parc du Golfe for a crossing to Belle-Ïle en Mer or for a cruise on the Gulf of Morbihan. It is located at   7 allée Loïc Caradec, parc du Golfe and open from October to March every day except Saturday and Sunday . April to June and September: every day from 8h30 to 12h30 and from 14h to 18h July and August: every day from 8h to 18h. A magnificent way to see the island in one of the most beautiful bays of the world the Gulf of Morbihan (condé nast and world bays sites).

The city of Vannes on cruising boats from the gare maritimehttps://www.mairie-vannes.fr/vannesdecouverte/tourisme/compagnies-maritimes/

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The port of Vannes is a floating basin, maintained at a minimum depth of 2.10 meters by a lock gate, whose opening times follow the tide times. In addition, access to the port is also constrained by crossing the pont de Kérino bridge built on the channel, downstream from the lock gate. Nice spot indeed!

The city of Vannes on the Pont de Kérinohttps://www.mairie-vannes.fr/vannespratique/deplacements/circulation/pont-de-kerino/

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Well do not play anymore but a great place to relax its restos , events and a nice area in the Parc du Golfe, this is the Kasino of Vannes with electronic table games, English Roulette, Ultimate poker, Black Jack, and Slot Machines. And yes we have a casino too!!  The Kasino’s panoramic restaurant offers you a warm welcome in a modern baroque-style setting. A terrace with one of the most beautiful views of the entrance to the Gulf of Morbihan promises you a real break for a cocktail, lunch or dinner. Open from 12h to 14h and from 19h30 to 22h30 , closed on Wednesdays. The Kasino de Vannes bar welcomes you every day from 10h to 03h00 , and 04h00 on weekends and before a public holiday. The dining bar offers a wide choice of a “K” at any time and 7 days a week. On the bar or terrace side, appetizer boards, bruschetta, sandwiches, dinner jars will satisfy an offbeat your hunger. This is nice indeed

The official Kasino de Vanneshttps://vannes.kasino.bzh/

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The Piano Barge is already an institution here and did visit couple times one with business collegues and the other with the family. It is a wonderful ambiance on the water at the entrance to the canal of Vannes and out to the Gulf of Morbihan!

A bit of history on the barge/boat . It all started back on March 1927 at Utrecht, direction Amsterdam. The Verdonk family poses on the foredeck of Rehoboth, Campinois from 1900, 46 meters long, riveted steel hull. The ship belonged to the same family for over a century from 1900 to 2008. The ship is not sinking, it is just that the cargo in the hold is at its peak: 600 tons! In September 6, 2010. Rehoboth points its bow at Lorient after 3 days and 3 nights of daring sailing from Amsterdam, in tow. February 2012; only the century-old hull of Rehoboth is preserved. In the cathedral of the Timolor shipyard in Lorient, welders are busy installing the watertight partitions required by regulations. July 19, 2013 ; after 2 years of work, and heavier by 80 tonnes of fittings and 10 km of cables, the refurbished vessel is launched to sail to its new home port, Vannes. September 3, 2013 , The Piano Barge opens its doors to the public on the Parc du Golfe site. Restaurant, Bar, Café Concert, Receptions, Seminars: the offers on board are numerous. Located at Allée Loïc Caradec Parc du Golfe . Open noon from Tuesday to Friday; evening from Wednesday to Saturday Saturday noon in private mode Wine bar cocktails from 18h. Wednesday to Saturday. Very nice indeed.!

The official Piano Barge resto on water: http://www.pianobarge.com/Page/Accueil

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And last but not least a newbie!  This is a newer place not visited yet due to the virus but looking forward to test it as soon as possible. It has been a huge investment in a nice area of the Parc du Golfe.  The Awen Brew Pub has 21 pressure spouts and a fine selection of alcoholic drinks . You will see concerts, events, live sport games. Ready for an Aperitif, dish of the day, and local specialties. The word Awen is a Welsh and Breton word that borrows from Celtic tradition and means inspiration. Open all year 6 days a week for lunch / Bar every evening. Closed on December 25. To be seen and taste!!

The official Brasserie Awenhttps://www.brasserie-awen.bzh/

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And of course, a sentimental favorite the Chorus exposition hall where we have attended several events on wines and gastronomy as well as habitat ,housing ideas etc etc right in the Parc du Golfe facing all these marvels above! Really a place to see an event while in beautiful Vannes.

The official Chorus expo hallhttps://www.lechorus.com/fr/le-chorus

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So, therefore, as you can see Vannes has a lot more than architecturally stunning houses, historical stories of  several nations, and great ambiance in old town. It has everything for the whole family and we love it. As said sometimes we think we spent more times in Vannes than in our own home lol! Recommended but not too much already the trains from Paris-Montparnasse are pack full ready to travel our way for vacations lol!! Those Parigot love us and we love them too ::)

Oh yes, the Morbihan dept 56 tourist office on Vanneshttp://www.morbihan-tourism.co.uk/home/discover/morbihan/the-main-destinations/vannes

And the city of Vannes tourist office for more info other than mine ::) https://www.mairie-vannes.fr/vannesdecouverte/tourisme/office-du-tourisme/

Hope you enjoy the tour of my capital city of Vannes and its great places and ambiance to last…Recommended of course lol! And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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