Archive for April 21st, 2021

April 21, 2021

Our ski experience in France!!

Well will update this older posts of our encounter with snow and skiing in France. This was a trip by my boys and I came along just for the ride ok lol!! The views were gorgeous and we all had a good time; one for the memories of their youth and me to be back in the mountains again… Let me tell you about our ski experience in France! 

The short story of my life is that while living in Madrid by the year 1972, a group of friends took me to ski at Navacerrada (see post) ski port just north of Madrid. It was a horrible experience ,and I rolled down the mountain for a scary while until finally somehow stop with the help of some passerbys (if you can call that in the mountains). That was the end of my ski experience, once a beach bum always a beach bum I guess lol!

Rolled over several years, and it was my boys turn to try snow skiing! This time in France! We went with school trips into the Northern Alps on the French side. For the boys it was a memorable trip and really enjoyed!! Me and wife ,stay on the sidelines just enjoying the before and after ski crowds, hanging around and trying all those mountain cheeses or say wines.

I like to give you a bried introduction to these two sites; they are tops in France for skiing at all levels. Abondance and Val Cenis, with the latter been more pro specialists.  I rather give an overall look at the history and the facilities and let you do the reading further. Its a subject of an experience but far from me to handle. However, I wanted it to have a “history” in my blog for family’s sake. Hope you enjoy it too.

Abondance is a town in the Haute-Savoie department no 74 of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France. It is located in the French Chablais, and is the capital of the canton of Abondance. It is more precisely in the upper valley of the Dranse, southern and mountainous region of the Savoyard Chablais with notably the Mont de Grange (2 432 meters) and the Mont Chauffé (2 093 meters) mountains.

The beginnings of the skiing practice were early as by the year 1930 there was already a ski club for holidaymakers. The club then published the first publications related to local tourism. The telecabin was inaugurated in 1964. Abondance is a tourist town and has on its territory a northern area of the valley of Abondance, as well as a winter sports station, the Essert (20 km of generously arranged slopes) which is part of the domaine des Portes du Soleil ( gates of the sun).



Remi-put-skis-abondance mars10

Things to see in Abondance:

The Abbey of Abondance founded in 1108 by regular canons who were settled in the Abondance Valley since 1080. First a priory, it became an abbey in 1140. The decline of the abbey was rapid since the mid-15C due to the Commende system (Someone who was not required to observe the obligations inherent in his or her charge) . The Feuillants relaunched it from 1607 to 1761, the date of its final closure. From 1836, it the town who managed it. The terrace between the city/town hall, the school, the road and the way to the square of the church, with the degrees of access, the retaining wall of the land and the plantations are all protected.

The Notre-Dame-d’Abondance Church was built around 1275. It is the only Church in Savoy to possess an ambulatory and absidiales chapels; Gothic cloister of the 14C presenting a set of murals depicting the Marian cycle, among them the Annunciation, the Nativity, the flight to Egypt or the wedding of Cana. These paintings probably date from the first half of the 15C and illustrate the current art style, but also by many details the local environment. The iconography is part of a late Gothic style reminiscent of the Florentine school. The House of the Val of Abondance: a tour presenting the pastoral, cheese, geographical and historical richness of the valley.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to Abondance are: 

The Abondance tourist office

The Savoir Mont Blance tourist office on Abondance

The city of Abondance on its cheeses

Our fav webpage on skiing in France and Europe is Skiinfo on Abondance

Lanslebourg-Mont-Cenis is a former town in the Savoie department no 73 of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France. It merged on January 2017 with the municipalities of Bramans, Lanslevillard, Sollières-Sardières and Termignon to form the new town of Val-Cenis (even thus it was already like this way before locally). Lanslebourg is located in the Maurienne Valley, at the foot of the Col du Mont-Cenis. It is 23 km from Modane and 128 km from Chambéry.

A bit more of history I like here

During the annexation of the Duchy of Savoy by the French Revolutionary troops in 1792, the Maurienne Valley belongs to the department of Mont-Blanc. The municipality of Lanslebourg is administratively attached to the canton of Lanslebourg, of which it is the capital city, within the district of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. During the administrative reform of 1798 and the creation of the new Department of Lake Geneva, the situation of administrative attachment of Lanslebourg does not change.

The emperor Napoléon erected a new town, ephemeral, Mont-Cenis, in 1807, from the villages of the Hospice (also parish), Grand Croix and the Ramasse, reducing by the same two thirds the town of Lanslebourg.

On June 24, 1940, France signed the Armistice of Villa Incisa with the fascist government of Italy, after only a few days of battle in the Alps, and precarious victories for the Italian Army. Lanslebourg, like eight other villages of Haute-Maurienne (Termignon, Lanslevillard, Bessans, Bramans, Sollière-Sardière, Bonneval-sur-Arc, Aussois, Avrieux) and three of Haute-Tarentaise (Séez, Montvalezan, Ste-Foy), is now under the Italian rule, with locals appointed by the Italian command. The Bando del Duce of 31 July 1940 had indeed passed the eight villages occupied under a regime of annexation. From November 11, 1942, the Italians occupied the whole of Savoy. On September 8, 1943, the Italian occupation ends in Lanslebourg as in the rest of the department, the Nazis replacing the Italians. After , WWII, the Col du Mont-Cenis was ceded by Italy to France in 1947 by the Treaty of Paris.




Some of the things to see here are

The Domaine de Val Cenis Vanoise Winter Sports Resort is located on the town and that of Lanslevillard. The Church of the Assumption-of-the-Virgin, now a baroque space, is a permanent exhibition place created in an ancient church. It is designed to give the keys to reading the Savoyard Baroque Art. It also presents temporary exhibitions on the history and heritage of the valley. The Assumption Church, built between 1828 and 1830 , has a neoclassical-style painted décor. Also, Fort of Bramble near the Col du Mont-Cenis.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit to Val-Cenis are:

The Haute Maurienne Vanoise tourist office on Val Cenis:

The Savoie Mont Blanc tourist office on Val Cenis:

My fav ski webpage Skiinfo on Val Cenis:

There you go folks, if you want to ski these are nice areas of my belle France. Very family oriented and frequent by the French youth a lot. Just be carefull don’t fall off a mountain lol!!!

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

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April 21, 2021

The LU of Nantes!!!

This is a very unique monument of Nantes in the Pays de la Loire region of my belle France. We have walked by here several times and seeing briefly the museum but never really saw it per se. However, writing about the biscuits of another blogger (views from the back) got me to bring this one out of the vault with the picture I have left. The text is new but the pictures are from 2013! Hope you enjoy the new post on the LU biscuit factory ,and the Lieu Unique cultural center.

Well by now you should know me, I love the history of the places and the architecture that surrounds them so this text will be long but worth it me think. Enjoy the LU of Nantes!!!

nantes la tour LU my13

This is a bit of history on the LU Factory !

It was from the 1860s that the biscuit industry took off in France, and particularly in Nantes and Bordeaux. The fall in the prices of sugar and fats makes it possible to switch the biscuit from the bakery to the pastry shop, to transform it into a luxury product.

The history of the LU factory begins with the arrival of Jean-Romain Lefèvre, a pastry chef from Varennes-en-Argonne, in Nantes, in 1846. Jean-Romain is employed in a pastry shop on rue Boileau. In 1850 he married Pauline-Isabelle Utile, and the couple decided to buy the pastry shop to turn it into a “Factory of Reims biscuits and dry sweets.” Success was quickly achieved and the couple opened a second store in 1854, under the company name “Lefèvre-Utile”. At the end of the 19C, biscuits were sold in bulk. Louis opts for a more modern packaging, in metal boxes, called “tin boxes”

The brand’s identity was already created in the 1860s by chosing the allegory of Fame to affirm the quality of their products and a certain conquering desire. At the end of the 19C, packaging became an advertising medium. Subsequently, in 1892, the company developed a line of lithographed boxes. The illustrations are mainly inspired by Brittany with, for example, the Retour de la Pêche cookie box dating from 1892, the Régates de la Loire in 1894 or the Breton Banquet dating from 1902. They bought an old spinning factory in 1885. on the grounds of the Ile de la Madeleine, opposite the Château of the Dukes of Brittany and close to the train station.  On February 1, 1887, Louis Lefèvre-Utile joined forces with his brother-in-law Ernest Lefièvre and together they officially founded the Lefèvre-Utile company. In 1897, Louis sent his son’s sketches to Firmin Bouisset who made him the Little Schoolboy (pétit écolier biscuits fame). And in 1905, at the time of the company’s golden age, Lefèvre-Utile released the Paille d’Or. The biscuit alone represents a graphic medium; in 1903, painted a portrait of Sarah Bernhardt for the advertisement of LU. The company’s advertising boards are true works of art. Inspired by Art Deco, they are available in posters, mural advertisements painted on the gables of buildings, on billboards attached to trams or exhibited at major events such as world exhibitions. The company participated in the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, for which it was asked of  Auguste Bluysen to build a tower 36 meters high. Inspired by lighthouses, this tower became an emblematic element of the brand since two towers were subsequently built in Nantes. The idea of ​​these achievements is to show that the company is a beacon for the city. Inside the pavilion, earthenware by Eugène Martial Simas adorns the walls in a resolutely Art Deco style.

nantes chateau to LU building apr08

At the beginning of WWI, the three main biscuit factories of Nantes, LU, the Biscuiterie Nantaise (BN) and the Biscuiterie de l’Union, were requisitioned for the production of war bread. WWII allowed the factory to restart production of war bread and cookies.  In the early sixties, faced with the invasion of American products on the market was the main reason that in 1969, LU merged with Brun to become LU-Brun. This restructuring heralds the end of the family business. A few years later, in 1975, LU-Brun associés was bought out to form the Céraliment LU-Brun group. The name changed again in 1978 to Générale Biscuit and in 1987 a new factory was built in La Haye-Fouassière, near Nantes.

The history as above can be found in French at the Château des Ducs de Bretagne (castle of the dukes of Brittany-see post) webpage:

There is a LU Museum, where you will find all the history, know-how and iconic cookies of the LU Brand! In the old stables of the Château de Goulaine (see post), you will also be able to discover or rediscover the famous advertising and artistic works that have marked the history of the Lefèvre-Utile family, from 1846 to the present day. The Creation, Puzzle or even Memory workshops will allow families to spend an entertaining moment around the most beautiful works of the Museum. webpage:

The current LU weppage with more on its history and product line can be found in French here:

Now what is there now near for us that walked to it the Château des Ducs de Bretagne! Well ,there is the Le Lieu Unique is a contemporary culture center created on January 1, 2000 and installed in the former premises of the LU biscuit factory, whose initials are also those of the cultural center. Le Lieu Unique is located in the Champ-de-Mars district, on the banks of the Saint-Félix Canal, at the eastern end of what was once Gloriette Island. The castle of the Dukes of Brittany, the Cathedral, the Congress expo center and the SNCF train station are within 500 meters from it.  You get there walking from the castle as we did. On public transport tramway line 1 and Busway line 4, stop/arrêt Duchesse Anne. Also, Chronobus C3, stop/arrêt lieu unique.

The two towers, built in a style close to Art Nouveau, aim to assert the power of the company by creating a perspective in the extension of the Saint-Pierre and Saint-André courtyards and by responding to the towers of the castle of the Dukes of Brittany. In 1943, the bombings of WWII which ravaged Nantes also affected the towers but did not destroy them completely. These will be beheaded during major works in 1972. Only the one located to the west was completely razed during the 1980s to make way for a hotel.  The rest of the plant continued to operate until production and the 450 employees who worked there were transferred in 1986 to the new site at La Haie-Fouassière.

The Nantes LU factory was then decommissioned. Its buildings were then gradually destroyed and only the annex to the Quai Ferdinand-Favre remained. The city of Nantes bought the Ferdinand-Favre annex in 1995. The southern part of the buildings of the LU biscuit factory were then razed to make way for a building complex built around the new cour du Champ-de-Mars, notably housing the headquarters of Nantes Métropole regional government. The remaining northern part between avenue Carnot, quai Ferdinand-Favre and rue de la Biscuiterie, where cultural activities take place .  In 1998 began a project to rehabilitate the old factory to restore the only remaining tower. Since December 30, 1999, there is a national stage which offers shows, concerts, events, exhibitions, conferences … as well as a café / bar / club, a restaurant, a bookstore, a crèche and a hammam.  The old LU tower that was kept is 38 meter high, and surmounted at the top by a lantern identical to that presented by the LU pavilion at the 1900 Universal Exhibition and is topped with a metal spire. The dome is made up of six oval-shaped windows topped with carved eagles. The body is decorated with a fame, angel wielding a trumpet and surrounded by six of the signs of the zodiac. At the top of a 130-step staircase, the tower offers a breathtaking view of Nantes.

I finally becomes the “Le Lieu unique” in 2000. The unique place is today internationally recognized for its spirit of curiosity in the various fields of art: plastic arts, theater, dance, circus, music, but also literature, philosophy , architecture and digital cultures.

The official webpage of the Le Lieu Unique cultural center:

The Nantes tourist office on the Le Lieu Unique

There is a nice restaurant inside le lieu unique with a separate webpage here:

So, there you go folks another nice place to visit in nice Nantes and close to many interesting things to see. The Lieu Unique or Lu factory is worth the detour! Hope you enjoy the post and do eat those biscuits!! love them!!

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

April 21, 2021

The Museum Rodin of Paris!!

And I bring you a museum in Paris. Well , have been to the other in Meudon even before the one in Paris. I was just driving on bd des Invalides when I first notice and got a peek. It is a popular museum and great art inside worth the detour. Let me tell you a bit more on this updated version of my older post on the museum Rodin of Paris!

Ok so again, back to another museum, don’t you love them! I do , even if not seeing them all, working on it, like I said Paris is eternal so I have time ….As long as allowed by the will of nature will continue…. And on bd des Invalides passed by the museum that I have heard about it before  from friends in the know, so got it pinpoint and came back for a closer look. It was very nice indeed ,and love the story of Rodin and Claudel, right! 

The Rodin Museum is located in the hotel Biron, next to Invalides, in the 7éme arrondissement of Paris. The Hotel Biron was built in the early 18C.  At the beginning of the 20C, it was threatened to be destroyed. So many artists settled there, such as Jean Cocteau, Henri Matisse, Isadora Duncan, who created a dance workshop there. Rodin moved in 1908. In the gardens, he places his ancient sculptures; in the hotel, its sculptures, plasters, castings, drawings. In 1911, the State purchased the property. Rodin proposes to give all his works to the State if it turns the hotel into a Rodin museum. The project is accepted and the museum opens in 1919.


Through its two sites, the Hotel Biron on the rue de Varenne, in the 7éme arrondissement in Paris and the Villa des Brillants in Meudon (Hauts-de-Seine dept 92). In Paris ,the museum is served by the metro Varenne line 13. I will deal with the one in Paris here. 

The museum retains collections of great diversity because Rodin was a collector artist. It presents mainly sculptures and some paintings, because old drawings and photographs cannot, for reasons of preservation, be permanently displayed in the dedicated gallery of the first floor.  The sculptures of Rodin are those of an artist who chooses to break with the uses of his time. The artist is also distinguished by the monumental character of his creations.

The graphic production of Rodin concerns nearly 8 000 creations attached to several periods: observation drawings (Landscapes of Belgium and Italy, then architecture), imaginary representations inspired by Dante or Baudelaire, many nudes sometimes Erotic, or even portraits. It is also a collection of drawings by Honoré Daumer, etc., and engravings, including nearly 200 Japanese engravings acquired after 1900.

The approximately 10 000 old photographs kept at the museum (but rarely exhibited for reasons of conservation) are the fruit of Rodin’s great interest in photography, which gained prominence at that time.  The sculptor works with many photographers. The latter exceed the mere photographic reproduction of the works of Rodin to make their photographs of artistic works in their own right.

For the last twenty years of his life, Rodin has been a madly collector, accumulating with frenzy the objects of the past. Fascinated by the ancient, he gets 6 480 pieces, which gradually invade his places of life and work. Mi-2017, the museum’s online catalogues list 1 311, of which 871 came from Egypt, one from Persia, 23 from Greece or greater Greece, 64 from Rome, 7 from the Levant, 103 from China or Japan, 23 from India, Cambodia or Indonesia, 29 from Central or South America or dating from the Middle Ages. Rodin, whose museum also exhibits several sketches, also loves painting and acquires in the course of his life works of great masters.

One aspect I cannot leave out on this homage to Rodin is Camille. Camille Claudel held an important place in the life of Rodin, from an artistic point of view as well as sentimental. Rodin passed on his knowledge, before drawing inspiration for many of his works. The young woman’s talent is such that she becomes a true collaborator of the master(and some darn good work she did too), working with him in the realization of some of his most famous creations, like the Porte de l’Enfer ( door of hell).  It is therefore logical that a room of Camille Claudel is created at the Hotel Biron in 1952. It then received several donations from Paul Claudel, the artist’s brother, especially the L’Âge Mur (mature age), Clotho, and Vertumne and Pomone, among her 45 works preserved at the museum.

The collection also includes works by other friends sculptors or students of Rodin. The Rodin Museum has been open for several years to contemporary art, thus reactivating a business approach from 1949.

And what about the place where the museum is at! Lovely area and great resto across the street Café des Musées, but that is another time or see in my other posts.


The Hotel Biron , located at the corner of the Rue de Peyrenc and the Boulevard des Invalides, in the 7éme arrondissement of Paris. The hotel Biron has experienced several occupants since the completion of its construction in 1730 like the Duchess of Maine, beautiful daughter of Louis XIV; The Marshal  Biron, who gave his name to the hotel; The Duke of Charost; The Pontifical Legation; The Russian embassy; or the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a religious congregation founded by Madeleine-Sophie Barat. The future Empress of the French, Eugénie de Montijo (from Spain and wife of Napoleon III), received her education in the convent between 1835 and 1839.

Several artists were allowed to establish their workshops there; This is how Rodin, Jean Cocteau, and Henri Matisse make their entrance to the former Hotel Biron. In 1911 the State buys the estate while Rodin decides to give up his collections on the condition that a museum be devoted to his work within the hotel; The project ended in 1919, but Rodin, who died two years before, could not attend the opening of the museum. The hotel is surrounded by an exceptional area, in the heart of Paris. The old 19C Chapel, built from the time of the religious congregation and restored in 2005, hosts a completely renovated showroom, a new auditorium, as well as the ticket office and the Museum administration.

The garden, spread over three acres of woodland on the property of the park of the hotel Matignon, reputed to be the largest private green area of Paris, and decorated with a basin and a cafeteria. Visitors walk through the monumental sculptures of Rodin, which are arranged there. Superbe walk, recommended

Some webpages as usual by me to help you plan your visit here and you must come ,are:

The official Rodin museum:

The Paris tourist office on the Rodin museum:

The Grand Palais webpage on the person of Auguste Rodin in French:

And again another dandy in my eternal Paris; so much mon Dieu! Enjoy Paris is sublime, gorgeous and darn good to be at. One more jewel, see the Rodin Museum!

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

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April 21, 2021

The place Saint Michel of Paris!!!

This was an introductory post on one of Paris most emblematic squares. It is my hangout of lately when in Paris before the virus. As have written several posts on it will do this one in my black and white series. The place Saint Michel of Paris!!

So here I am again on my eternal Paris, never enough, I just have to give a break sometimes ,it is too overwhelming. I enjoyed very much my time living in Versailles and working in Paris, can’t have a better one two punch than that in the whole world!!! Now , I am in beautiful Morbihan near the coast surrounded by country towns and the beaches and castles of my lovely Bretagne! All is irrelevant, France is a mouvable feast!

The Place Saint-Michel is located in the Sorbonne and the Monnaie neighborhoods of the 5éme and 6éme districts of Paris . It owes its name to the proximity of the Pont Saint-Michel (bridge), which was located in the vicinity of the Chapel Saint-Michel du Palais. It lies on the left bank of the Seine river facing the Ïle de la Cité, to which it is linked by the Pont Saint-Michel. There is a version that says the square was name in honor of Michèle de France, daughter of King Charles VI in the 14C.

The square was created during the breakthrough of Boulevard Saint-Michel, in 1855 under Napoleon III. The piercing of this square endangers the disappearance of the Place du Pont-Saint-Michel, part of the rue Saint-André-des-Arts, part of the rue de l’Hirondelle and part of the quai des Grands Augustins. The Pont Saint-Michel built in the 1C was done at the same time as the square. It officially takes its name in 1864.

The monumental fountain was created in 1860. it was though of a statue of Napoléon but finally, it was a statue of Saint Michael battling the devil that was chosen, framed by two water-spitting dragons. The symbol here is the Fontaine Saint-Michel is a fountain located in the 6éme arrondissement or district of Paris on the Place Saint-Michel square, at the crossroads of Boulevard Saint-Michel and Rue Danton. It has the peculiarity of occupying on its own a whole gable wall.

The composition with a central niche framed by four columns and a pediment is a reference to the Medici fountain of the Luxembourg garden. The purpose of the polychromy is to balance the lack of illumination. This fountain, whose construction site began in June 1858, was inaugurated on 15 August 1860. Nine sculptors contributed to the fountain. The Fontaine Saint-Michel differs from other Parisian fountains by the use of polychromy: Red marble of Languedoc (columns), green marble, blue stone of Soignies, yellow limestone of Saint-Yllie .

The Fontaine Saint-Michel is part of the aeration plan of the city planned by Haussmann under Napoleon III. The piercing of Boulevard Saint-Michel in the axis of Sainte-Chapelle forced the creation of a square at the outlet of the Pont Saint-Michel, Haussmann ordered the establishment of this fountain in order to fill the angle between the Boulevard Saint-Michel and the place Saint-André-des-Arts and give a visual outlet to the perspective of the Boulevard du Palais. It is 26 meters high and 15 meters wide. It is composed in the manner of an ancient arc of triumph, of a span mark by Corinthian columns in red marble of the Languedoc cushioned by four bronze statues representing the cardinal virtues.

The criticism was overall negative at the inauguration of the fountain in 1860.   In fact, the fountain Saint-Michel is the last fountain-wall built in Paris in the Renaissance tradition started by the Medici fountain in the 17C and pursued in the 18C with the Fountain of the Four seasons. The monumental fountains after the Saint-Michel fountain are isolated in squares.

Place Saint-Michel is served by the metro at Saint-Michel Station, line 4, by the RER C at Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame station (that can take you to Versailles), as well as by the RATP bus lines 21 24 27 38 85 ,and 96. The easiest parking is at the Place du parvis Notre Dame and walked over the bridge. There is ,also, a taxi stand Place Saint Michel direct tel +33 (0) 1 43 29 63 66.

The heart of St. Michel neighborhood or quartier is still the Place St. Michel with its baroque fountain Saint Michel killing a demon of some sort. This was once the site of numerous protests and social uprisings. One of the main events of French resistance to the occupying Nazis took place in the square, and in the now legendary riots of 1968, students took charge of the square in the face of tear gas and police clubs, declaring it an independent state!

The Paris tourist office on the fountain of St Michel:

The nice Place Saint Andre des Arts adjoins the Place Saint-Michel on the 6éme arrondissement. It is a charming place, lined with coffee terraces , and souvenir shops. On the other side, you cannot miss a small cobbled street, most often crowded with tourists. It’s the rue de la Huchette. You enter the most typical Latin quarter with a slab of alleys, restaurants and cobblestones. The street is lively: restaurants, pubs or theater, activities are not lacking.

My favorite hangout here to meet with friends and collegues is the Saint Severin brasserie, the old Chez Clement resto now closed and even more lately the Le Clou de Paris.

And there you go folks, a nice part or should say a gorgeous part of my eternal Paris. Hope you have enjoy it and do visit, walking is best here.

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

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