Archive for June 15th, 2021

June 15, 2021

My nostalgic ,sentimental Meaux!!!

And I get nostalgic and sentimental each time I need to write about Meaux . This one was an older post I like to revise, refresh, update links and tell you and me again more about Meaux. Here are the stories…

Once again I have to come back to this quant town of Seine et Marne dept 77 Ïle de France region , where Disneyland is located nearby.  There have been so many times here that I lost count, I know the town without any gps or google help and proved it again this time. Here began my French history when I met a young lady native of the town of Meaux back in 1990, and as the saying goes, the rest is history and a beautiful one indeed falling short due to her cancer that took my dear late wife Martine. And glad thanks for giving me 3 wonderful good young men. 

This trip was to see the maternal mother, mother in law, maternal grandmother and the rest of the French family with sisters and nephews, nieces and cousins. It was something different this time, for the first time on our wedding anniversary (26 December) my young lady was not with me. She passed away from cancer last April 30 2018. It was a sad trip, but a must trip to relieve those times and gain strenght with the family for the future.

This is Meaux, Brie country, the king of cheeses, the cheese of kings, Vienna congress 1815. I like to show you a bit more on this memorable town always in my heart and soul.  We came to the inlaws house and immediately set out to walk the town with the boys and I. First stop was the house where I met her at 36 rue Noefort, a humble sweet home and a magical spot indeed!

We passed by the cinema Majestic in which I saw my first movies in France at place Henri IV. Now part of the UGC cinema group, more here: UGC Cinema Majestic Meaux

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While there we realized they had a Christmas market at the Place Henri IV, where many times we did parking to walk into the old town area on Rue Général Leclerc. It had now an ice skating ring as in many years.

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Walking along the Rue Général Leclerc we go into the old town direction the Cathedral (another post on it) , and we find many familiar spots still open like the wonderful La Fromagerie or cheese store!

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Continuing on the Rue Général Leclerc you past by the historical Hôtel de la Sirene; built by 1740. It has change names until the a luxury hotel; this hotel was occupied by the Nazis in WWII and later by the American officers station in this region. The hotel closed in 1986, and its now private property.

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Our walk coming from rue Noefort along the Rue du Faubourg St Nicolas into old town past place Henri IV and the Rue Général Leclerc with the Cathedral in sight!!

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In the evening we came back after having lunch in the sister in law house in a village nearby; there is a Finnish sauna with a central barbecue which was awesome to do it with the family there.

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We headed back to the city and parked this time by the boulevard Jean Rose right next to the old ramparts and behind the Cathedral of St Etienne (St Stephen) (see post), this is wonderful indeed, and here you walk all along first the Rue du Faubourg Saint Nicolas just around the house of my dear late wife Martine.

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You walked past the wonderful old hospital or Hôtel-Dieu where the historical archives of the city are now kept. Again on Rue du Faubourg Saint Nicolas.  A bit of history on this building is a must. The Priory of Noëfort (today modern headquarters of the gendarmerie French national police) ,and the General Hospital, founded in 1667 to intern the poor and vagrants in application of the great containment decided by the Royal Ordinance of 1662. A large part of the land of this district belonged to settlements. such as the Grand Hôtel- Dieu of Meaux. Also , here there is a large mass of archives, because these are always better preserved by religious institutions than by the laity.

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The Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Nicolas is none other than the Decumanus Maximus which crossed the ancient city from east to west. In the 5C, there was St. Céline, a friend of Saint Geneviève; On her tomb, placed extra muros in the ancient tradition, arose a church that had to endure until the French revolution. So along this wonderful street off my dear late wife Martine street, we found our bakery of old; and of course we purchase the baguettes, apple pie  ,chocolate flan, to take to the family as sharing is a French passion especially when food is concerned. The bakery is Le Fournil du Faubourg (under new owners) at 52 rue du faubourg st nicolas.

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As I am on foood, let me tell you about another gem. I have another exclusive post on it but briefly, this is Meaux. If you know French gastronomy and you should simply the best always imitated but never better,then you should know about Brie. The Brie de Meaux cheese (the real one here! ) was elected by the leaders of Europe in the Congress of Vienna of 1815 as the king of cheeses and the cheese of kings! Here is the original anywhere else is imitation even if legally sold the milk for the original has to come from Brie country and only here you get the Terre de Meaux brie with cow milk from the Meaux region or pays de Meaux!! Enjoy it while here, short distance from Paris and Disneyland and none better than the Fromagerie Saint Faron, (see post) unique. Only in French of course, its original! Official tourist office of pays de Meaux region on the fromagerie Saint Faron

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There you go another wonderful family trip to a memorable wonderful loving enormous city of Meaux for me. Thank you very much for following along my blog ; it is appreciated.

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

June 15, 2021

Urdos, memories never to forget!

And I bring you to some of the most memorable experiences of my life in a little town of less than 120 folks right before the Pyrénées mountains of France! Let me tell you a bit of the story, and hope you like it as I always will.

I forgot to count the number of times we passed by this road passing by Urdos ever since that wonderful moment of 1990 when my then girlfriend gave me her VW Golf to make the trip from Meaux to Madrid! Indeed many years and many trips , thereafter with family and the boys until her passing in 2018, my dear late wife Martine. Memories forever!

Urdos is located in the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques 64, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of my belle France. The town borders with Spain (Aragon) to the south. Urdos is the first village in the Aspe valley, the gateway to Béarn and Aquitaine for travelers coming from/to Spain. Urdos was once an obligatory stopover due to the complexity of crossing the Franco-Spanish border resulting in the presence of gendarmerie, police and customs services. The town is served by the national road N134. The N134 goes towards Spain passing by Urdos the last stop in France. The anecdote is that I passed also before the European Union and the customs office border crossing was here!

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Two important events in the history of Urdos On September 15, 1915, opening of the Somport railway tunnel and on January 17, 2003, opening of the Somport road tunnel. And I took the tunnel and before going up the mountains on second gear as far back as 1990!!

Some of the things to see here are the houses from the 16C, 17C and 19C. the train station on the Pau-Canfranc line, closed to traffic since 1970 (now reopening for domestic service and international out of Canfranc on the works) . The Somport tunnel. And Sainte-Marie-Madeleine Church, from late 19C. Almost all of the church was rebuilt in the second half of the 19C. Between 1887 and 1889, it received a set of decorative paintings and Glass roofs were provided in 1901.

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You can visit the surprising Fort du Portalet, built on the cliff and partly troglodyte. From Urdos, you will access the Somport ski resort at an altitude of 1600 meters and the Somport ski area remarkable for the quality of its environment and ideal in particular for the practice of Nordic skiing .

Urdos is part of the community of towns of the upper Béarn or Haut-Béarn contact as not much on a town of less than 120 folks! : http://: https://www.hautbearn.fr/nous-connaitre/territoire/urdos.html

It is a small hole on the world map, and now just a fast passing on the way from France to Spain but for us its a major town, Urdos will not be forgotten , part of our family’s history and great memorable moments of family travel. You too can take the ride its wonderful with huge beautiful views of the Pyrénées mountains, and the road freedom of a road warrior. Hope you enjoy the post, and again thanks for reading me!

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

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June 15, 2021

The Col d’ Aubisque !

Well here I am taking one from the vaults as the saying goes. This one is a memorable road warrior trip of the many taken into and by the Pyrénées mountains between my dear France and Spain over the years. This one was steep and high but we love it, great memories of crossing by the Col d’ Aubisque (mountain pass). Hope you enjoy it as we did!

One of the memorable mountain pass over the years for us and a great sporting history to boot. Here is my small contribution to the Aubisque pass.

The Col d’ Aubisque pass is in the central French Pyrenees, culminating at 1,709 meters, about 40 km from Tarbes and Pau in the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques no. 64, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. It is dominated to the south by the peak of Ger (2,613 meters). It is located in the town of Béost and is generally closed to traffic in early December and reopened in early May due to heavy snow avalanches. The Aubisque pass is supported by the Col de Soulor pass, that connects the Ossau valley on the towns of Arudy / Laruns / Gourette to that of the Gave de Pau on the towns of Argelès-Gazost by the ledge road that crosses the Litor cirque, in the upper part. from the Ouzom valley, the road D 918! Magnificent views on the road warrior trips!!

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The Col d’Aubisque pass is a thermal road, built thanks to the Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, who wanted to be able to link Eaux-Bonnes (good waters as in thermal) to the Argelès valley and its various spa towns that she helped to promote through her many trips. This thermal road was completed in 1864.

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The Col d’Aubisque pass is an important summer tourist destination, especially for amateur cyclists. There is a stele in memory of Lucien Buysse , a Belgian cyclist and winner of the tour de France in 1926. He best known for having won in 1926, after more than seventeen hours in the saddle, the Bayonne-Luchon stage, a dantesque stage of anthology, generally considered as the most extraordinary stage in history. of the Tour de France, fully run in the pouring rain. There are giant sculptures of bikes in the colors of the Tour de France (one yellow, one white with red dots, one green). Nowadays, it is a starting point for excursions and a winter sports center. It is close to the Gourette ski station. The ascend/rise of Aubisque is an annual mountain race taking place at the end of August with 18.7 km and 1,204 meters of elevation from the town of Laruns.(which where we past too!)

The Col d’Aubisque pass is an integral part of the “legend of the Tour”. While the organizers of the first tours did not dare to approach the high mountains, the step was taken in 1910 with the first major Pyrenean stage. Since then, the Tour de France has crossed it 73 times, more than one year out of two. A new ascent of the Col d’Aubisque was scheduled during the 6th stage of the Vuelta of Spain 2020, but the passage of this pass was canceled and the stage modified due to the ban on passage in France following the resurgence of the pandemic of COVID-19. Too bad indeed.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and be ready to climb either bike or car worth it fun sublime views of the wonderful Pyrénées.

The history of the col d’Aubisque by the cyclists: http://www.memoire-du-cyclisme.eu/eta_tdf/aubisque.php

Another cyclist webpage on the ascend of the Col d’Aubisque : https://www.cyclos-cyclotes.org/archives/col_aubisque.html

The Gourette tourist office on the Col d’Aubisque in French: https://www.gourette.com/decouvrir/le-col-d-aubisque/

The Pyrénées tourist office of the Béarn on the Col d’Aubisque route Laruns to Eaux Bonnes in French: https://pratique.tourisme64.com/itineraire/laruns/col-d-aubisque-la-reference/ITIAQU064FS0003O.html

There you go folks, another dandy off the beaten path road warrior trip into the sublime, gorgeous, wonderful Pyrénées. Hope you have enjoy the run as I

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

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June 15, 2021

La Ferme Exotique of Cadaujac!!

And let me not just update but actually write a new post as only a line written before in my blog! This was by chance and turn out to be a wonderful family trip to  a farm south of Bordeaux when we were vacationing on the beach of Lacanau-Océan which already plenty written on it. The start here is the exotic farm or La Ferme Exotique of Cadaujac!!

Moving south of Bordeaux,  you can visit Cadaujac, with its petting zoo and stables, great for kids, La Ferme Exotique, its call, and you need a car as this is in deep country with great views of the Garonne river. Highly recommended if with kids and have a car, my boys still remember it!! You get here arriving from Bordeaux take the beltway A630 direction Toulouse A62 exit 19,  turn on D1113 to Cadaujac on rue de la Pontrique take road D108 and you will see the signs for the La Ferme Exotique.

La Ferme Exotique is an animal park located in Cadaujac, in the Gironde dept 33 of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. The farm is particularly recognized for its saddle horses as well as for its collection of vintage teams of coaches, stagecoaches, carriages, etc., that it rents for documentary purposes or to the world of cinema, for example.

 La Ferme Exotique welcomes animals from five regions of the world: Europe, South and Central America, North America, Oceania and Asia. Among the animals presented are many hens, but also parakeets, wallabies, porcupines, zebras, dwarf zebus or even deer and reindeer. The establishment is also home to many primates, including magots and several different species of lemurs and lemurs. 

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The visitors can ride camels, ponies (my boys did) , or take a small train. It is also possible for them to participate in the distribution of food for certain animals (yes!!). A few thematic workshops allow you to discover a particular species in more depth, such as wolves or cows, for example. Finally, several games are offered in the summer such as water games or inflatable structures. A catering service is available on site.

This is fun for the whole family and great alternatives to the beaches and wines of the Bordeaux region!  

The official webpage for the La Ferme Exotique: https://www.fermeexotique.fr/

The Bordeaux tourist office on La Ferme Exotique: https://www.bordeaux-tourism.co.uk/sports-and-leisure-facilities/ferme-exotique-cadaujac.html

There you go folks, a wonderful place for families to visit in a beautiful region of my belle France. You all will love the La Ferme Exotique of Cadaujac!!

If you are in the farm and want to taste some wines, you know you are in the appellation Pessac-Léognan and the Graves. One property I can recommend is the Château Bouscaut at 1477 Avenue de Toulouse coming back on the D1113 road signs will lead you.

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

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