Archive for August 14th, 2021

August 14, 2021

The Nord and Lille, memories forever!!!

Let me tell you a story of my belle France on a memorable city for my family and having wife’s side family close, this is Lille! I like to put up a post on the city alone for all and me to get back here as soon as possible. Having exchange with fellow bloggers in my blog reminded me to do justice to Lille. As with anything with visiting family around time for sightseeing is always limited so will put some older personal pictures here for me and you.

Lille is a great city often overlook and now really link by train from Paris and even London, Brussels, Amsterdam etc. The city center is wonderful and the shopping phenomenal.  Lille is a city in the Nord dept 59 of the region of Hauts-de-France. It is often calle the Capital of Flandres as it used to belong to the roman Flandres which in turn belongs to the historic French Flandres, old territory of the Count of Flandres and not part of the Flemish speaking area. And pictures are rare here as with family nearby we are too busy doing mostly family trips, we do use it as a base to go into Belgium!

A bit of history I like and kept it short this time…!

The city of Lille has gone thru many monumental periods in its history and count as one of the cities most invaded in France. Lille has belong to the counts of Flandres, kingdom of France, Burgundian state, Holy Roman Empire ,the Spanish low countries before coming back to France taken by king Louis XIV during the war of Spanish succession. The city was again invaded in 1792 during the Franco Austrian war ( French revolution)  and very much touch by the two world wars. During WWI the city was occupied by the Germans from 1914 to 1918, and it was the English under Gen Birdwood that liberated the city in October 17,1918. The city was in ruins. Lille was taken in WWII since May 1940 by the Nazis and attach to the nazi commander HQ in Brussels and not from the Vichy regime, so totally detached from the rest of France. Lille is finally liberated again by the British on September 3, 1944.

It is for this reason that Lille did not developed into a typical city center layout but a mosaic of districts with their own identity. The historic heart that today is composed of the old Lille and Center Lille or Vieux-Lille and Lille-Centre; these two districts are extensions of the city in the 17C to 19C. Then, coming the districts born out of annexations in the 19C such as the Bois Blancs, Vauban, Esquermes, Wazemmes, Lille-Moulins, Faubourg de Béthune, Lille-Sud, Saint-Maurice Pellevoisin , and Fives as the better ones and then coming those born out of the 20C such as Hellemmes ,and Lomme.

Some of the things to see here , and lacking pictures! in my opinion are: The Collegiale Church of Saint Pierre and its cryptChurch of Saint-Maurice, and Church of Sainte-Catherine,  the old stock exchange or Vieille Bourse, the   wonderful Citadelle known as the Queen of Citadelles , the Cathedral of Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille. Others will be the  house or maison de Gilles de la Boë, Church of Saint Etienne, Church of Saint André, new stock exchange or Nouvelle bourse, city hall or Hôtel de Ville, and wonderful shopping train complex of Euralille (this we have pictures lol!).  We love the shopping here!

Lille euralille MF pipo et boys jun02

Lille Euralille gare d'europe et boys jun02


Other wonderful streets to walk on and see old Lille are rue des Chats-Bossus, Place du Lion-d’Or, rue de la Monnaie, rue des Arts ,rue Saint Jacques, place aux Bleuets, or the house of old men or Maison des Vieux-Hommes built in 1624 at rue de Roubaix. And do not missed the Grand’Place this to me is Lille at its best. You have wonderful art at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, built in 1885, the Théâtre Sébastopol from 1903, and the Opéra from 1907. The wonderful park of Bois de Boulogne in Lille next to the Citadelle,with a zoo, an attraction park. Not to leave out the other museums such as the native house/museum of Charles de Gaulle at rue Princesse, and the wonderful musée des Canonniers at rue des Canonniers house in an old convent tracing the history of the military actions in town and especially the sieges of Lille. Plenty to keep you busy and even come back for more. Well found the Porte de Paris with a view of the Belfry behind in my FB page! souvenirs of Lille!

Lille porte de Paris and Belfry behind c2000

As a side story; I like to put up here an anecdote. As been visiting older brother of my wife near and my other half love of shopping I had to dig in my road warrior skills to drive into nearby places looking for outlet store malls.  There are factory outlets in the outskirts of Lille such as at Roubaix , the Usines we have been with the family and they are pretty good if you know what you are looking for and prices. Also,McArthur Glen factory outlet that my boys enjoyed when came here, that I have a picture!

The Usines webpage (old factories district converted to outlet stores):

The McArthur Glen webpage (new complex for a chain of outlet stores) :

Roubaix McArthur Glen shops pipo et MF Jul02

Another anecdote proper to this post. I remember when was preparing moving to France permanently,as my dear wife Martine propose me and I agree, been looking back now the best decision of my life!! I met a Belgian collegue from Waterloo at the Novotel hotel at the airport at Lille-Lesquin to go over my resumé/CV in give it a French format; I drove from my wife’s older brother home in Caudry (see post). The meeting went well, we still in touch! ,and I got the job right away!! While still in Florida! Wonderful memories of always in August 2002 as I moved in August 2003 to France! To start my job, and the rest of the  family followed in December 2003 once house sold. And the rest is history. I could say where all started for us really as after this meeting the decision was made to come to France and it has been the best ever by me thanks my dear late wife Martine, my Frenchie of always RIP.

Lille Airport webpage for the memories!!

And the Novotel hotel at Lesquin for the memories!!

Looking back we should have come in more to Lille. However, the region is full of wonderful spots and we have covered many of them with my posts in my blog. Been near the Belgian border with family allowed us to visit many places with a place to stay which is always a great one two combination. We shall be back is in our list to visit family and perhaps more into Lille. Hope you enjoy the post and my anecdotes of always.

The city of Lille on things to see in French:

The Lille tourist office on things to see in English:

There you go folks, I hope you enjoy the post on Lille , and do visit worth the detour. It is in my list to do once real travel starts after the pandemic rules and restraints. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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August 14, 2021

The Palacio de Velazquez at Retiro park!!!

Well after posting several articles on my fav park in my dear Madrid, part of my youth hangouts in the city realise not written a deserving post on the Palacio de Velazquez. Therefore, it is time to give credit when credit is due. Hope you enjoy the post as I.

I had brief mention of this wonderful palace in my previous post on Madrid and Retiro Park ,however, I feel it deserves a post of its own as it is a wonderful art center to visit in itself. Therefore, this is a new post with same older pictures. The Palacio de Velazquez inside the Retiro park (see posts) was built between 1881-1883 for the national exposition of mining, metarulogical, ceramics, glass and mineral waters. Palacio de Velázquez is part of the exposition venue of the Museo Reina Sofía museum.

mad retiro park palacio de Velazquez front may16

As said, it is located inside the Parque del Buen Retiro or Retiro park for short, on Paseo de Venezuela ,next to the Fuente de Alcachofa or artichoke fountain. Best to walk to the park or if far metro line 2 Retiro or line 9 Ibiza or bus lines stopping at Plaza de la Independencia right at entrance to park ,no. 15, 20, 51, and 52.

The Palacio de Velazquez occupies a central position in the Retiro park, between the large pleasure pond and the small pond next to the Palacio de Cristal (see post). The Retiro park was originally a royal hunting ground converted into an exclusive royal park for the Buen Retiro Palace of Felipe IV, which spans 300 acres. The palace was largely demolished after the Independence (Peninsular) War, with only Casón del Buen Retiro (a ballroom) and Salón de Reinos (used as a throne room) still standing, and the park has been open to the public since 1868 .


Originally known as the Palacio de la Minería, it was built in 1881-1883 for the Exposición Nacional de Minería by architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco (named after him), engineer Alberto Palacio and ceramist Daniel Zuloaga. It functions as an art and craft gallery and is structured in three rectangular bodies united around a central gallery. All the new 19C building materials are featured in this building: granite, brick, ceramic, iron, zinc and crystal.

mad retiro park palacio de velazquez left back may16

The Palace of Velazquez was built in the realm of neo-renaissance historicism, has a spacious floor plan, vaulted ceilings with iron structures and natural lighting, thanks to a large glass surface. Designed as the main pavilion for the 1883 International Exhibition of Mining, Metal Arts, Ceramics, Glass and Mineral Waters, it follows the model used by Joseph Paxton for the Crystal Palace in London, built in 1851. It is a large neoclassical building, red brick and tile covered with iron and glass arches to naturally illuminate the rooms with dimensions of 73.80 meters by 28.75 meters or (242.1 ft × 94.3 ft) , not as big as the Ministry of Agriculture, Pesca y Alimentación (Palacio de Fomento see post). It was built in brick and two-tone tiles by the Royal Factory in La Moncloa.

mad retiro park palacio de velazquez left side may16

It has a rectangular plan, doubly symmetrical, with advanced towers in the corners and a central and transverse nave, whose metal barrel vault stands out in height. In the middle is the entrance, towards the midday front, preceded by an elegant 15-meter white marble staircase and configured by a portico with semicircular arches on Ionic columns.   Between the nave and the towers, intermediate bodies are created, resolved to the outside as galleries, very light, with arches similar to those of the access, but on pillars. However, the rectangular interior is practically a single space without divisions, only those corresponding to the four towers. In the central gallery of 18 meters high, the roofs and the iron columns are the only protagonists.

mad retiro park palacio de velazquez main hall may16

After the Philippine Exhibition of 1887, the Spanish government awarded the Palacio de Velázquez to a museum of the Spanish Overseas Territories. Since 1908 it has hosted the National Fine Arts Exhibitions. The works of contemporary painters are often exhibited at the palace since 1987. The Palace closed in 2005 for restoration and conservation, reopening in 2010.  It is currently operated by the Ministry of Culture, and is dedicated to the temporary exhibitions of the National Museum of Modern Art of Spain, or as the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía museum.

The Reina Sofia Museum on the Palacio de Velazquez:

The Madrid tourist office on the Palace:

The City of Madrid on the Palacio de Velazquez (sorry long link): https://www–madrid–

There you go folks, another dandy in my dear Madrid for all to enjoy. Beautiful architecture, wonderful exhibitions, and a glorious Retiro park around it, this is the Palacio de Velazquez; simply awesome. Hope you enjoy the post and do visit while in Madrid.

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

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August 14, 2021

La Liga, Real Madrid, is on 2021-2022 season!!!

This is something would like to write more, but for some reason let it lagged behind. My passion for football/soccer/calcio is huge. I am the one who yelled screamed and sing/dance even in bars when the games of my beloved team is on. Therefore, on a sunny day in my Morbihan Breton, let me tell you more about one of my passions. I will do this one in my black and white series, no pictures! Plenty of them in my blog already.

I have written before several blog posts on the sport and my team, and La Liga (the league as its call in Spain).  I think you will have plenty to read on the history ,the passion, and the game as well as Madrid above. However, beyond me just remember August 13 (Friday) is the start of the new season 2021-2022 and the first game of La Liga! 

As so much written on my Real Madrid and the La Liga will be brief, sort of a special announcement!! The webpage for La Liga and schedule is here :

Our first Liga game will be against Deportivo Alavés tomorrow August 14. Away game! 22h our time. And this will start the 91st football season in Spain! The Comunidad de Madrid will have four teams this year Mine Real Madrid, the arch neighbors of Atletico de Madrid, the south town of Getafe, and my sentimental team Rayo Vallecano from the Vallecas district of Madrid.

The teams playing in the Champions league from Spain will be Real Madrid, Atletico de Madrid, Barcelona, Villareal (Vila Real)  ,and Sevilla. The second tier Europa league will have Real Sociedad (San Sebastian) and Real Betis (Sevilla).

The Real Madrid has significant changes for this year with a new coach  Carlo Ancelotti who has come back for another chance replacing Zinedine Zidane.  We are missing our great Captain Sergio Ramos gone to PSG France! Already as last year will be a very tight league with the above teams on top.

Our women team in its second historical year in the LIga Iberdrola (1St division) will be playing tomorrow as well at Cacereño but a friendly game not official competition. The first official match will be about September 4-5 vs Levante away game time not yet confirm. They will be under same coach David Aznar.

The men’s team will have the following players this season

Goalkeepers: Courtois (Belgium) and Lunin (Ukraine)

Defenders: Carvajal, Militao (Brazil), Alaba (Austria); Nacho, Marcelo (Brazil), Odriosola, Méndy (France) and Vallejo

Midfielders: Kroos (Germany), Modric (Croatia), Casemiro (Brazil) Valverde, Lucas Vazquez, Isco, Ceballos, and Odegaard (Norway)

Forwards: Hazard (Belgium), Benzema (France), Asencio, Jovic (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Bale (Wales), Vinicius (Brazil) ,Rodrygo (Brazil), and Mariano (Dominican Republic).

Many names missing I know, will be a tough year me think sort of rebuilding all due to the financial strains on clubs impose by UEFA, the Union European of Football Associations.

The official Real Madrid CF webpage:

A new stadium on the lookout; the Real Madrid CF has been playing since 1947 at the famous historical glorious Santiago Bernabéu stadium with official capacity of  81 044 persons. However, the stadium is been completely redone with even a covered retractable roof and ready to host many events other than football/soccer/calcio! You get here by metro on line 10 stop Santiago Bernabeu or by bus like the 27 or Cercanias trains at Nuevos Ministerios, or walk to it or drive underground parking! The future stadium will look like this:

And of course, you have more from the Madrid tourist office on the Bernabeu

Last info, the new Santiago Bernabeu will be ready by December 2022.  There are talks of holding the game vs Celta de Vigo on September 11-12 2021 at the new stadium as a preview. In the meantime, the Real Madrid CF will be playing its home games at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium in the Ciudad Real Madrid in Valdebebas north of Madrid between the congress hall IFEMA and the Adolfo Suarez international airport of Madrid. Ciudad Real Madrid info here:

And more from the Madrid tourist office on the Ciudad Real Madrid city

There is a Cercanias train to the station in Valdebebas and then taxi to the Ciudad Real Madrid or by car from a point in Retiro park get out on my favorite road A3 direction Valencia but join the beltway M30 to hook up with the M11 then bear left into Avenida Alejandro de la Sota( you will see the IFEMA congress hall on your right) ,go to next street and turn right into the Avenida de las Fuerzas Armadas, and look for signs for parking.

And I ,of course, can’t wait for it to start. The highlight of the year and the talk of the house. The team this year is a question mark with a new controversial hiring coach, the lost of key players such as above, and not much hiring of importance yet. Wait and see situation,which hopefully will peak by the time Champions league begins!  Stay tune plenty of choices to watch it on many channels on many networks and plenty of different languages. Enjoy La Liga !!! and I will try my best to enjoy my Real Madrid CF!

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

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