Archive for May 23rd, 2021

May 23, 2021

The Bois de Boulogne of Paris!!!

So moving right along updating these older posts in my blog and bringing back many nice memories of my travels and road warrior adventures! This is the big one in Paris , good and bad for many things, and yours truly have gone thru it day and night as well as used as my leisure time from work when working across the Seine in Suresnes. Let me tell you a bit more on the wonderful Bois de Boulogne of Paris!!!

As said, I zig zag and walk and drove many times in this wonderful forest , the lungs of Paris indeed.  I like to tell you a bit more on the Bois de Boulogne. Unless you come in daytime, it is wonderful; at night it has some ladies cheering you on all the way!!! My first trip by car here was at around 20h and I believe I counted one in every tree lol! For the tame I am talking about prostitutes.  I used to worked on the other side in Suresnes, so the quickest way was to cross the pont de Suresnes thru the Bois de Boulogne to reach Paris. Oh yes this borders Hauts de Seine dept 92 too , that is where Suresnes is.

There is so much to see and eat and do here during the wonderful daytime hours that it can really filled in a week doing them. I just would concentrate a bit on the history as I am an amateur!

The Bois de Boulogne is a wooded expanse, located in the 16éme arrondissement of Paris, covering an area of 846 hectares. Two and a half times larger than Central Park in New York, and 3.3 times larger than Hyde Park in London, it is however 5.9 times smaller than the Soignes forest in Brussels and occupies only half the surface of the Casa de Campo of Madrid. The Bois de Boulogne occupies part of the site of the ancient forest of Rouvray.

The central part of the forest contains the Bagatelle park, as well as the pre-Catelan garden. Its northern part is occupied by the Jardin d’Acclimmatation, an amusement park ,the Louis-Vuitton Foundation. To the southeast is the jardin des Serres d’Auteil. To the southwest, between the Longchamp racecourse and the Bagatelle Park, is the GoodPlanet Foundation, at the Domaine de Longchamp. The forest has lots of lakes that are all artificial and fed by the waters of the Seine river such as the Lake Superior, Lake Inferior, Lake of the circle of wood of Boulogne (or for skating), Lake of the jardin d’Acclimmatation, the mare of Armenonville , the Mare Saint-James, the lake of Longchamp, the pond of the abbey, the pond of Suresnes, the pond of the tribunes, the pond of Boulogne and the Great Cascade (waterfall).  The forest is traversed by Longchamp Brook, the Sablons Brook and Armenonville Brook or water streams. fyi, some of these written posts on them.

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A bit more details of the history of the Bois de Boulogne I like

The Bois de Boulogne is all that remains of the ancient forest of Rouvray, meaning “place planted with Oaks”, which is mentioned for the first time, in 717, in the Charter of Compiègne. The land was offered by king Childeric II to the mighty abbot of Saint-Denis, who built a large number of monasteries.  King Philippe Auguste buys the majority of the forest from the monks of Saint-Denis to create a hunting reserve on the royal lands. In 1256, Isabelle de France, sister of Saint Louis, founded the Royal Abbey of Longchamp.

The Bois de Boulogne takes its name from the Church of Notre-Dame-de-Boulogne-la-Petite (now Notre-Dame-des-Menus Church of Boulogne-Billancourt) which was built on the orders of Philippe le Bel following a pilgrimage that he had carried out with his daughter Isabelle of France in Boulogne-sur-Mer in 1308, while she was going to marry Edward II of England.  On his return, the king decided to raise a church similar to that which he had seen on the edges of the channel and which then housed a miraculous statue of the Virgin (the bolted building was at the site occupied nowadays by the present Basilica Notre-Dame-de-l’Immaculée-Conception). Wishing it near Paris in order to minimize  the pilgrimages, the king upon his return made to search for a land near the capital. It is finally chosen a small village of lumberjacks, Les Menuls lès Saint Cloud. From 1319 to 1320, the first stone of the church is put up, which is endowed with a gilded silver statue, in the image of the Virgin of Notre-Dame de Boulogne-sur-Mer. The church is blessed in 1330 by the Bishop of Paris Hugues II Michel de Besançon.

During the Hundred Years ‘ War, the forest became a den for brigands. After king  François I had built the castle of Madrid (begun in 1528) in the Bois de Boulogne, the spot became a place of festivities. The hunting grounds are surrounded by a wall under Henri II and Henri III, with eight doors. Henri IV  planted 15 000 mulberry trees, hoping to launch a local silk industry. His wife, Marguerite de Valois, once repudiated, withdrew to the Château de la Muette.

In November 1783, Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis of D’Arlandes succeeded in the first hot air balloon flight, built by the Montgolfier brothers, from the Chateau de la Muette. During the French revolutionary period, the forest was used as a refuge for people who had been hunted. In 1814 and 1815, 40 000 English and Russian camped there and ravaged the forest, so that under the restoration its reforestation and the restoration of the roads were started under the direction of the Baron d’André to end in 1830.

In 1852, the property of the Bois de Boulogne was ceded by Napoleon III to the city of Paris, which was then responsible for landscaping the green space every four years. The work begins the following year. After the faults encountered by Haussmann, the replacements by the engineer Jean-Charles Alphaned (Parc Monceau, Montsouris, Bois de Vincennes) associated with the landscape designer Jean-Pierre Barrel-Deschamps (landscaper of the park of Buttes-Chaumont) made changes. Only two straight alleys ,Longchamp and Reine  Marguerite are retained by the new team that transforms the Varé River into two lakes, with water retention in Lake Superior, the overflow pouring into the Lake Inferior lake by the little waterfall. A bridge connects the two islands.

Between 1855 and 1858, Longchamp’s racecourse was built on the plain of the same name. At the same time, the tip of the forest located south of the Butte Mortemart, between the Rue des Princes in Boulogne (current rue Denfert-Rochereau and Rue des Princes) and the Avenue du Parc-des-princes at Auteuil is arranged by the Duc de Morny as part of a vast luxury real estate operation supervised by Baron Haussmann. During the siege of Paris of 1870, the forest was severely damaged by the Prussian artillery because the French artillery had a battery on the mound of Mortemart. In 1873, the Auteuil racecourse was inaugurated.

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As said plenty to do here especially during daytime. The whole family will enjoy it as mine did over the years and still come to have dinner at the Pre-Catalan. There are the  Bagatelle Playground. Park, garden, promenade.etc. Garden of the Meadow Catelan. Park, garden, promenade.  Bagatelle Park-Paris Botanical Garden. Garden of the greenhouses (Serres) of Auteuil-botanical garden of Paris. Park, garden, promenade. Bicycle rental at the entrance to the jardin d’Acclimmatation and at the Lower Lake Pier.  Rent a boat on the Lake Inferior.  More than fourteen dining points in the forest as well as numerous snack bars. Suitable for cycling with its 9.2 km of cyclo-tourist itineraries, and horseback riding with 28 km of cavalier tracks as well as numerous tracks for roller skating. Sublime!

Ah yes how to get to the Bois de Boulogne. By the Metro nearest stations are the Porte Maillot line 1,  Porte Dauphine line 2 and the Porte de Auteuil  line 10. RER: Stations Neuilly-porte Maillot, Avenue Foch, Avenue Henri Martin all on the RER C line. Driving to the Parking Les Boutiques  du Palais,  2 Place de la Porte Maillot , where you can take the petit train into the Jardin d’Acclimatation , or as I always found free parking inside the forest by the pre Catalan Resto or the Fondation Louis Vuitton. Do enjoy it all!

The City of Paris on the Bois de Boulogne in French: https://www.paris.fr/pages/les-bois-parisiens-4900/#le-bois-de-boulogne_1

The Paris tourist office on the Bois de Boulogne in English: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71494/Bois-de-Boulogne

Always fun with the family , it is a nice park garden even spent some leisure time here from just driving over the pont de Suresnes find a spot and have a chat lunch with collegues, sublime Paris it will be always eternal! Enjoy the Bois de Boulogne!!!

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

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May 23, 2021

The dream world of Disneyland Paris!

Now let me update for you and me this older family trip to world famous Disneyland Paris! It started slow but has become the most visiting sight in France! And getting lots of visitors from all over Europe!!! We have been sooo many times with small children at Walt Disney Orlando FL that when we came to France it was a natural to visit here. So this is our story.

Therefore, why not come back to my old post on Disneyland Paris.  I took my sons there and we stayed at the old Holiday Inn Disneyland, then the Vienna Magic hotel and now the Vienna House Magic Circus Hotel. And I had several meetings held there when working with the hotel chain IHG (Intercontinental Hotels Group). We have been to the Walt Disney park in Orlando FLorida so many times lost counts , with me on concerts, with my boys, and then taken friends/family there. We never visited Disneyland Paris from the USA as not needed we thought. However, once in France , the itch became too great not to try and see it. Well ,there is no contest in my opinion to the one in Orlando ,but at least folks in Europe have a more affordable Mickey place to see and enjoy.

Let me tell you a brief about the parks and the history in France as I like it.

Disneyland Paris, previously called Euro Disney Resort and before that Disneyland Resort Paris is a tourist entertainment park of 22,3 km located in the town of Chessy in the department 77 of Seine et Marne. It includes two parks,; the Disneyland and the Walt Disney studios as well as 27 hotels and a golf course and covers into the shopping and aquarium area of Val d’Europe. All link from Paris by the train line RER A as well as by car on the expressway or autoroute A4 direction Metz, as well as a TGV train line.

This huge complex in addition to the above mention items mainly the two entertainment parks , hotels and golf of 27 holes ; it also, has Disney Village  , restaurants and shows. 7 hotels on Disney property such as Disneyland hotel, New York, Sequoia Lodge, Newport Bay Club, Cheyenne, Santa Fe, Ranch Davy Crockett; and 10 partner hotels such as Villages Nature Paris, Elysée Val d’Europe, Explorer Fabulous hotel , Kyriad, Adagio city Aparthotel, Marriott Village ile de France, Magic Circus Hotel , Radisson Blu, Campanile Val de France and B&B hotel disneyland.

By 2002, the park is enlarge with the opening of Walt Disney Studios located on the south side of Disneyland and along the line of the RER A. Opening with 10 attractions with the cinema and cartoons as principal attractions. Recently reported in the news and my blog, there was the announcement of a new investment by Disneyland of about 2 Billion Euros so doubling the park Walt Disney Studios into 3 zones between 2021 and 2025 on the themes of Frozen, Star Wars, and Marvel. The Parc Walt Disney Studios is by Val d’Europe in Marne la Vallée . Once entering to the left you have the huge store boutique and on the right the information desk, and visitor services. At the center, there is a fountain with a statue of Mickey. Studio 1 is a building facing the entrance to the park serving as the shopping street but is covered showing a Hollywood as it was in the golden age of the 1930’s. On it you see the boutiques of the Hollywood legends in three consecutive spaces; the second space show the luxury boutique of Rodeo Drive , and the last space show the Crossroads of the World change into a service station selling DVD’s. The Toy Story Playland at the Place de Rémy is a section of Toon Studio representing the Paris of the film Ratatouille. In the section Production Courtyard you have on the left of the exit of Studio 1, and includes the attractions located on the main square decorated with a statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse . The highlight is the Tower of Terror showing the mysteries of Hollywood Tower Hotel where the riders in an elevator/lift disappeared in a night of lightning scary. Hollywood boulevard installations include a replica of the Hollywood Boulevard of Los Angeles on the right and the Backlog on the back left of the park showing the scenaries of what it looks like the studios today.

The 3 train stations, RER A, regular trains line Serris-Montévrain Val d’Europe, and the TGV Marne la Vallée-Chessy. Two shopping centers or malls such as Val d’Europe (includes Sea Life aquarium) and the La Vallée Village outlet shopping. In all, a business park Goodman, and several residential communities. Coming by car as we have , you take off the Paris boulevard périphérique the A4 direction Metz and get out at sortie or exit 14 follow road D344P all well posted; around the parks there is the big boulevard du Grand Fossé easy link to hotels and Val d’Europe shopping.. Bear in mind, there is a cost last was 20€/day for parking in the park. The RER A from Paris proper you can take it at Nation, Gare de Lyon, Châtelet-Les-Halles, Auber (Great department stores and gare St Lazare) and Charles de Gaulle-Etoile (Arc de Triomphe). You have local bus service such as from the bus terminal at Marne-la-Vallée-Chessy from the stations of Serris-Montévrain-Val d’Europe, Meaux, Château Thierry, Lagny, Thorigny, Crécy-la-Chapelle, Coulommiers, Provins and Esbly .The bus network Seine et Marne Express on several lines , and Noctilien N130 and N141. The airport CDG is easy to come here by navettes Magical Shuttle and on the TGV train from CDG to Marne la Vallée Chessy. You, also ,now have two options from Paris proper on the navette Disneyland Paris Express from the Tour Eiffel and another out of Gare du Nord train station, Opéra Garnier,and Châtelet. 

The Disneyland Paris webpage: https://www.disneylandparis.com/en-gb/

To fine Disney stores or events in France: https://www.shopdisney.fr/trouver-un-magasin

The airports magical Express bushttps://magicalshuttle.co.uk/

The Transilien area network on the RER A trainhttps://www.transilien.com/fr/page-lignes/ligne-A

Well coming on business meetings and part of the group of hotels on Disneyland property had many perks at greatly reduce or nothing at all; but that is another story. I like to tell you when I took my family there for the first time. We are planning to go again once travel restrictions and the park opens again! It will be a blast I am sure to compare young and older times.

We drove over of course, as we have family not far and combine the trip with a visit north to Meaux. Even thought the official site tells you to get off on exit 14 of the A4 , we got in by exit 12.1 going into the D345 road and into the D344 and boulevard du Grand Fossé and our hotel Holiday Inn Disneyland  (now its call the Magic Circus Hotel).  The parking was reduce pricing for me at 5€ (it is 20€), the hotel was half price and the food well eventually did not pay anything. But that was the business discount. My boys were small in the early teens so the trip was memorable for them.We remember the hotel was all deco in a clown theme or dream world with a large wonderful restaurant, and an even better indoor heated pool! The current hotel webpage for the memories is here: https://www.magiccircus-hotel.com/

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The boys really like the indoor pool and the ice creams on the restaurant; we just relax…as one can with 3 young boys. And we hit the attractions of Disneyland starting by Disney Village and eating at the old favorite from Florida, the Rainforest Cafe! The food and the attractions ::) were memorable. resto webpage: http://rainforestcafe.fr/

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And ok, we finally went into the park lol!!We got into the park early by opening time, a must , much more today. The favorite still is Space Mountain ride, the Star Wars galaxy ride, the IMAX movie cinema, for French eating the Auberge de Cendrillon at Fantasyland. The pirates of the Caribbean, and Adventureland. The park really needs two days to see it all at leisure; and now another day for Walt Disney Studios and the movies stars.

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One side trip we enjoyed for shopping was the Val d’Europe mall; really like American inspired and wondeful. For info webpage: https://val-d-europe.klepierre.fr/

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Like I said, for teens this is a must to visit in France now, and the most visited park in Europe! I believe they will do as in Orlando; an old marshy swamp area totally change by men into a sparkling metropolis with all kinds of entertainment. By the time they finish all the investment money here it will be the same. Already they are American style home communities shopping centers and a housing and business boom in all the towns around it.

The new town of Marne-La Vallée was created in the 1960’s. It includes for about 20 km wide the towns from Bry-sur-Marne to Bailly-Romainvilliers, and divided into four districts or sectors. These are sector I or Porte de Paris with the towns of Noisy-le-Grand, as well as Bry-sur-Marne ,and Villiers-sur-Marne. Sector II or gate of Val Maubuée including the towns of Champs-sur-Marne, Croissy-Beaubourg, Émerainville, Lognes, Noisiel, and Torcy. Sector III or gate of Val de Bussy including the towns of Bussy-Saint-Georges, Bussy-Saint-Martin, Chanteloup-en-Brie, Collégien, Conches-sur-Gondoire, Ferrières-en-Brie, Gouvernes, Guermantes, Jossigny, Lagny-sur-Marne, Montévrain, and Saint-Thibault-des-Vignes . Finally , sector IV with the towns of Bailly-Romainvilliers, Chessy, Coupvray, Magny-le-Hongre, Serris ,and Villeneuve-le-Comte. This new town is cross by the RER A on the line along the expressway A4 including nine stations such as Bry-sur-Marne,Noisy-le-Grand – Mont d’Est,Noisy-Champs,Noisiel,Lognes,Torcy,Bussy-Saint-Georges,Serris-Montévrain – Val d’Europe, and Marne-la-Vallée – Chessy.

Other things to see around Disneyland that are worth seeing in my opinion are the historical town of Meaux only 20 minutes from the park in the region of Brie (cheese) and mustard Pommery. Visit the gothic Cathedral (one of the last ones done in France), its episcopal palace and garden done by Le Nôtre and the museum Bossuet, the Eagle of Meaux and confessor of king Louis XIV. Follow the road of the Impressionists painters in Moret-sur-Loing with the likes of Monet, Renoir, and Sisley that walked on this town. See Barbizon, the town of painters and amateurs of Art on a pretty town following the footsteps of Corot, Millet, and Rousseau. The painters leaders of the 19C that did their most important work here; see the School of Barbizon,the museum of painters or the workshops of Rousseau and Millet.

Hope you enjoy the ride into magical Disneyland Paris. It is worth a detour with family, and shopping is great too. As said we will be back!!

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

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May 23, 2021

These are the gates of Paris!!

And on my Paris walks passed several wonderful monuments and some caught my attention that led me to search for more a few years back. I am updating this older post on the Paris gates! And some of them are now in city proper! Hope you enjoy this sort of off the beaten path tour of my eternal Paris!

Well I am on the roll on my belle France and eternal Paris! There is so much here you will not be surprise to find Paris No 1 in WTO-UN of cities visited again 2018 with almost 32M !!!  The choices are unlimited and I find myself hard to choose what to write. Well this time , I will update you on gates, and briefs on the districts and neighborhoods of Paris; a tall order indeed.

Let’s start with the gates or portes of Paris. Just some of my favorites….

We have them on the 18éme: Porte de la Chapelle also N1 and A1 autoroute/highway (to CDG) ; 19eme :Porte d’Aubervilliers, also N301 ; Porte de la Villette,also N2 ; Porte de Pantin, also N3 (to my inlaws !) ; Porte Chaumont ,also D35bis (Seine-Saint-Denis), Porte Brunet, Porte du Pré-Saint-Gervais, and Porte des Lilas.

Also, on the 20éme ,Porte des Lilas, Porte de Ménilmontant, Porte de Bagnolet, also A3 ; Porte de Montreuil, also N302 ; 12eme we have the  Porte de Vincennes ,also N34 ; Porte Jaune (inside bois de Vincennes) ; Porte du Bel-Air (inside  bois de Vincennes) ; Porte de Saint-Mandé (inside bois de Vincennes) ; Porte de Saint-Mandé, Porte de Montempoivre, Porte Dorée ou porte de Picpus, Porte de Reuilly, Porte de Charenton ,also N6 ; and Porte de Bercy ,also A4 (in laws and Disneyland).

We got some more on the left bank or rive gauche ; we have on the 13éme ;Porte de la Gare, Porte de Vitry, Porte d’Ivry, Porte de Choisy, also N305 ; Porte d’Italie,also N7 ; Poterne des Peupliers,  Porte de Gentilly. In the 14eme we have the Porte de Gentilly, Porte d’Arcueil, Porte d’Orléans, also N20 links to A20 into Toulouse ; Porte de Montrouge, Porte de Châtillon, Porte Didot, Porte de Vanves (great market here) ; on the 15éme we have Porte Brancion, Porte de Plaisance, Porte de la Plaine, Porte de Versailles, Porte d’Issy, Porte de Sèvres, and Porte du Bas-Meudon (quai d’Issy).

It’s not over folks as we have in the 16eme the Porte du Point-du-Jour, Porte de Saint-Cloud ,also N10, Porte Molitor,  Porte de Boulogne (inside bois de Boulogne), Porte de l’Hippodrome (inside bois de Boulogne), Porte d’Auteuil, also A13 autoroute to Normandy ; Porte de Passy, Porte de la Muette (my best entry to Paris when living in Versailles) , Porte Dauphine, Porte de la Seine (inside bois de Boulogne),Porte de Bagatelle (inside bois de Boulogne), Porte de Madrid (inside bois de Boulogne),Porte Saint-James (inside bois de Boulogne),Porte de Neuilly (inside bois de Boulogne),Porte des Sablons (inside bois de Boulogne), and Porte Maillot,also N13.

Not to tired you out we have them in the 17éme the Porte des Ternes, Porte de Villiers, Porte de Champerret, Porte de Courcelles, Porte d’Asnières, Porte de Clichy, Porte Pouchet. In the 18eme we have the Porte de Saint-Ouen, Porte de Montmartre, Porte de Clignancourt, also N14, and Porte des Poissonniers.

And of course some like the Porte Saint Martin are inside the city itself.  The Porte Saint Martin (b 1674) in honor of king Louix XIV.   The Porte Saint Denis (b 1672)  to  king Louis XIV . The Porte de Pantin was my first entry by car into Paris coming from Meaux in Seine-et-Marne (native town of my wife). Built in early 19C and name as such since WWII. I put another picture on the Porte Saint Martin from my hotel was nearby rue Meslay ,more in my other posts on gates.

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More on the gates of Paris from the city of Paris in French: https://www.paris.fr/pages/de-porte-en-porte-paris-se-raconte-16658

This is huge on the districts because there are divided into neighborhoods. Check my posts on districts=arrondissements and neighborhoods=quartiers of Paris in my blog. However, very brief

You should know that Paris has 20 districts or arrondissements numbered 1-20 and written after the departement/city number 75. So a location saying 75008 is in the 8th district for example. What folks do not know or most, is that Parisians have a habit of pinpointing their neighborhood when talking and getting to know you. These were done by Baron Haussmann too and correspond to four per district. Therefore, the neighborhoods or Quartiers and districts or Arrondissements.  You can see for example, somebody telling you lives in the 8th district or 8é arrondissement ,but actually lives by the avenue des Champs-Elysées their neighborhood will be Champs Elysées no 29. Therefore 20 arrondissements and 80 quartiers! Got it! Great! (see posts).

The Paris tourist office on walks in its quartiers and arrondissements in English: https://en.parisinfo.com/discovering-paris/walks-in-paris/paris-and-its-neighbourhoods

There, you have them folks. It will help you guide yourselves in Paris and come to know more of the daily life we carry here. I think is important not to go away simply with the tourist look but the local one, to really soak in the experience. I do it everywhere I go too.

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

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