Archive for April, 2022

April 30, 2022

The Château de Brissac !! Part III

I love castles seen so many in my belle France but each new ones is just more beautiful lol except one…hehehe you know if you read my blog.  I like to expand on my previous post on the Château de Brissac as found more pictures me think should be in my blog, This is in the old town of Brissac-Quincé , now since 2016 is call Brissac Loire Aubance in dept 49 of Maine et Loire in the Pays de la Loire region of my belle France !

The town is located on the D 748 road, 16 km south of Angers, 29 km from Saumur, 46 km from Cholet, 85 km from Nantes and 266 km from Paris; and 252 km from my house. I will cut short on the text as mainly was told in the previous posts, this is some new info and plenty of older pictures, but new to the blog, Hope you enjoy them as I.

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The Château de Brissac has been the property and residence of the family of the Dukes of Brissac since the beginning of the 16C. Today it is the residence of the 13th Duke of Brissac.  The Château de Brissac is the highest in France, indeed, 51 meters high with its seven floors, it totals 204 rooms. Some of them have their gilded ceilings, the castle has precious furniture.

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A visit to the state rooms and bedrooms reveals a dazzling decor of ceilings painted and gilded with gold leaf. The interior decorations are beautifully crafted, in the light of these gilded ceilings, these tapestries, the large living room and its family portraits… Just like the dining room and its imposing table set ready to receive its guests. In August 1620, it was the scene of a significant event: the reconciliation of Louis XIII and his mother, Marie de Médicis. The King’s bedroom, accessible by the large monumental gallery 32 meters long, keeps the memory of the passage of the monarch then 19 years old. Historic rooms, art galleries and a delightful Belle Epoque theater dedicated to opera. Born from the ambitious dream of Jeanne Say, Marquise de Brissac, this theater hosted an opera festival from 1890 to 1914. The Marquise, a talented soprano, welcomed all artistic and social Parisians there.

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The park and gardens of the Château de Brissac allow you to take walks in the shade of hundred-year-old trees. The place representing a long flowered and shaded path along the Aubance river and near the ponds. The landscaped and agricultural park was created in 1880 for Jeanne Say, Marquise de Brissac by the landscape gardener Pierre-Auguste Killian and his successors. five centuries…”

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The Château de Brissac, also has a tea room called Le Pavillon des Cèdres. The estate, faithful to the wine-growing tradition of the Angevin region, has a vineyard that brings to maturity a Rosé d’Anjou that the visitor can taste in the cellar. of the castle. Planted in 2002 to commemorate the 500 years’ family presence of the Cossé Brissac, the vine of five centuries stretches its ranks facing the colonnade of the mausoleum of the Dukes. The wines of the estate are the fruit of a 26-hectare vineyard which mainly produces rosé wines in AOC. They are presented to visitors during a tasting in the silence and meditation of the stone vaults of the cellar of the castle.

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The official Château Brissachttps://chateau-brissac.fr/?lang=en

The city of Brissac Loire Aubance on its heritagehttps://www.brissacloireaubance.fr/patrimoine-et-monuments/

There you go folks,recommended , really nice castle in the other Loire, Pays de la Loire, a lovely trip indeed in my belle France! Do come and enjoy the Château de Brissac!

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

April 30, 2022

Château de Brézé, part II

On my road warrior campaigns in the Loire Valley i have to see many many castles of beauty beyond description even if I try, I heard about this castle and decided to give it a run; very impressive. This is a new text and older pictures but new in my blog ; see my previous post on the castle. This one is in the region of Pays de la Loire and the department 49 of Maine et Loire! I will be telling you a bit more about the Château de Brézé!

First, Brézé  became on January 1, 2019 a town delegate of new town of Bellevigne-les-Châteaux. A recurring phenomenon in my France. The Château of Brézé is a monument of which a vast underground gallery was discovered, a castle under the castle. It also has the deepest dry moat in Europe with their 18 meters. Worth the detour me think. The old town of Bréze is only 10 km from Saumur.

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The first lords of Brézé made many donations to the Abbaye de Fontevraud,(see post) located nearby. Among the most famous lords, Louis de Brézé, who married Diane de Poitiers, (see post Anet) named Diane de Saint Vallier.

At the time of king Louis XVI, Henri Evrard de Dreux-Brézé, Grand Master of Ceremonies, took the decision to launch very substantial works. First of all, in order to enlarge the Renaissance part, subsequently his son and his grandson each in turn continued the work to transform the Château de Brézé into a neo-Gothic style castle. Within the castle, it is possible to visit the largest underground bakehouse in France, equipped with an impressive fireplace. The castle of a neo-Gothic style can be seen best by the Grand Gallery, the Square Tower and a rotunda at the base of the Clock Tower.

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The largest troglodyte bakery in France is a monumental fireplace with three ovens in which bread and sweets were baked. This strange labyrinth leads to the room of the presses and that of the casks where the wine was once made. It also reveals a walkway, old stables and an astonishing cavity called Image Cathedrals. It is here, on the walls of the old seigneurial cellars, that Brézé is told in images projected over more than 4,000 m².

We thus enter the largest underground fortress in Europe, sculpted over kilometers of a network of cavities and tunnels. This troglodyte village has preserved its stables, its bakery, a 17C silkworm factory and the presses in which the most appreciated wine was made on the royal tables of the 15C. Even today, Château de Brézé cultivates its 28 hectares of vines and produces different cuvées that you will have plenty of time to taste. From the 16C, the cuvées from his vineyard were praised by King René of Anjou, then by the great poet Joachim du Bellay who dedicated these few lines to them: “His Nectar seasons us, Nectar gives it to us, My sweet vineyard Brézéen…” It is even said that this Saumur was one of king Louis XIV’s favorite wines! The reputation of the château’s wines is such that its barrels will be exchanged at equal value for those of the Château d’Yquem. The vineyard, planted with Chenin and Cabernet Franc, has the particularity of being made up of unique plots, each of which benefits from special care. Thus each cuvée bears the name of the plot from which it comes: Clos David, Clos de la Rue, Clos du Tue-Loup, Clos de l’Étoile and Clos Bonne-Nouvelle. Since 2009, the 28 hectares of vines have been oriented towards organic viticulture and biodynamics, in accordance with the noble currents of our time: working the vine while respecting it.

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In 1959, Charlotte de Dreux-Brézé married Count Bernard de Colbert, a descendant of the great minister of king Louis XIV, Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Since then, the Château de Brézé has belonged to the same family, which puts all its passion into the renovation work of the château.

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The official Château de Bréze : https://www.chateaudebreze.com/castle-france-loire-saumur.html

The Saumur tourist office on Bréze : https://www.ot-saumur.fr/BREZE_a13289.html

There you go folks, an additional info on the Château de Bréze again worth the detour to see this marvel of the outer limits of the Loire Valley in that other region of Pays de la Loire in my belle France!

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

April 30, 2022

Curiosities of Perth Amboy, NJ!!!

Of course, I have written about Perth Amboy ,Middlesex County, and New Jersey before in my blog, but touch briefly on these, and would like to update and add more newer text with newer older pictures that I should not left them out. So let met take you way back in time to a period of renew hopes and challenges facing a new family arriving from Madrid in English speaking Perth Amboy!  Adaptation period, language, customs and then enjoyment! All positive experiences that enrich my intetelect and keep fond memories of Perth Amboy!

In this city as usual we were an active family, member of many clubs and sponsor softball and soccer team in local leagues by my parents. Nostalgic pictures that should be in my blog, my life’s history! My Dad speaking below!!!

perth amboy cuban club pipo presenting with maestre, and mario c1975

An old favorite still standing is the The Barge, by the waterfront, just wonderful seafood while overlooking the Arthur Kill bay to New York City, its an institution in the city where my father took his business partners and us and eventually I came alone to meet his/ours friends.  The power meeting point in the town. The Barge has been family-owned and operated since 1925. The restaurant overlooks the city’s historic waterfront, offering an intimate bar and dining area, as well as an upper floor dining room that can be rented for private parties. Live music performances often take place on the scenic outdoor patio during the warmer months. The restaurant offers a wide selection of meat and seafood entrées for dinner. There is also lighter fare such as sandwiches and wraps for lunch. Try one of the charcoal-grilled steaks or the broiled lobster, which is delivered fresh daily from Maine. The ultimate dining experience in Perth Amboy. The pic below visiting with one of my Dad old friend in town who took me to the resto for memories’s sake!!!. webpage: https://www.thebarge.com/

perth amboy the barge resto vist mike gonzalez c2007

The pic below is me entering Perth Amboy off the Route 35 passing Raritan Hospital into city center upon my last visit in 2007.

Perth Amboy Route 35 to city center Raritan hospital left c2007

And on the wonderful waterfront near our home, and overlooking Staten Island, NYC and me on my last visit of 2007, and wearing my Univ polo shirt!!

perth amboy waterfront arthur kill bay behind and then Staten isl nyc PF jun07

The city of Perth Amboy: https://www.perthamboynj.org/

The State of New Jersey tourist office on Perth Amboy: https://visitnj.org/nj/perth-amboy/attractions

There you go folks, yes my first city in America was lucky enouth to be in a historic city and learn a lot on the American way of life, which i continue even abroad. Hope these latest pictures and small story will tell you more of this wonderful historical city of Perth Amboy! A city always dear to me wherever I may be in our world. And of course, this is in the Garden State of New Jersey !!

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

April 29, 2022

The City Hall of Perth Amboy, NJ!!!

If you have read my blog, you will know this was my first city in the USA. Perth Amboy was the city of my teens , middle and HS schools, driving license, US citizenship, English, and first taste of real work before moving on in life to Florida and then France. A long journey indeed, looking back it was all worth it.

However, there is not a place I have been that I am not thankful for whatever was given to make me a better person. The city of Perth Amboy and my Panthers of High School are still within me. I had written a post a long time ago about the City, County,and State but believe for historical reasons that I must update this older post and tell you about the City Hall of Perth Amboy. Therefore, here it is.

Perth Amboy is a city in Middlesex County, New Jersey, USA. The City is part of the New York metropolitan area. Perth Amboy was settled in 1683 by Scottish colonists. It was called “New Perth” after James Drummond, 4th Earl of Perth, and the Lenape Native Americans called the point on which the city lies “Ompoge”; the native name was eventually corrupted and the two names were merged. Perth Amboy was formed by British Royal charter in 1718, and the New Jersey Legislature reaffirmed its status in 1784, after US independence. The city was a capital of the Province of New Jersey from 1686 to 1776.

The City Hall is a historic building built in the early 17C, listed on New Jersey Register of Historic Places and the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It is now the oldest City Hall still in use in the United States.  Located at 260 High St, not far from the waterfront and across NYC, and very near my last home there.

Perth Amboy is ,of course, home to the oldest City Hall in continuous use in the United States, built during 1714-1717 or 1718, to serve as the County courthouse and jail. It burned in a fire in 1731 and was not rebuilt until 1745. It was again burned in 1765 or 1766 when a man named Martin, angered by his earlier imprisonment in the City Hall on debt charges, allegedly set fire to the building. It was rebuilt in 1767. City Hall contained court chambers, rooms for the Provincial Assembly until 1775, and was used as a schoolhouse and for community meetings. It was in City Hall that the State of New Jersey became the first State to ratify the Bill of Rights. Although City Hall was renovated in 1826, 1872 and 2006, some of the 1717 structure still remains. The current structure is Victorian with a mansard roof and several new wings.

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The Market Square Garden or City Hall Park was also developed with a historic statue of George Washington and an exact replica of the Liberty Bell. There is an arch in brick to mark the spot of the signing of the Bill of Rights. 

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On November 20, 1789, the State of New Jersey became the first to ratify the United States Bill of Rights. On March 31, 1870 Thomas Mundy Peterson became the first African-American to vote in an election under the just-enacted provisions of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution!

The historical footnote in this hard working class city is that Benjamin Franklin had a son called William Franklin, and they did not agree on principles. Therefore, Benjamin was the American heroe and a huge historical figure for the United States. While William was a traitor who sided with the English! They met twice during the war to tried to settle their difference but to no avail, each hung strongly to their beliefs. Benjamin and William Franklin only saw each other one time after the end of the war, when they met in London in 1785. The purpose of the meeting was not to heal the rift between them, but to sort out some business and financial matters, including the property which William owned in Willingboro.  The two men never reconciled as father and son, and they never spoked again.  Benjamin died in Philadelphia in 1790, and William died in London in 1813!

It is a nice ride from either New York or Philadelphia by train ,and nice big roads by car even if traffic has picked up over the years. I learned to drive a car there and as we used to say locally, drive here and you can drive anywhere! indeed proven! By car , the easiest is to go under the Lincoln tunnel to the I95 interstate road that becomes the  NJ turnpike exit 10. Follow signs for Perth Amboy.

The city of Perth Amboy: https://www.perthamboynj.org/

The local newspaper Amboy Guardian on historical facts : https://www.amboyguardian.com/category/historical/

The Revolutionary War New Jersey on the American wars on their story and that of Perth Amboy with many sights !:https://www.revolutionarywarnewjersey.com/new_jersey_revolutionary_war_sites/towns/perth_amboy_nj_revolutionary_war_sites.htm

There you go folks, a history of America right here in nice Perth Amboy, It has change a lot since my days, practically unrecognisable , was there last in 2007 ! Hope you have enjoyed the bit of historical tip and do come over to New Jersey , a small State but huge in American history. And of course, Perth Amboy is a big part of it!!! Not to mention my life’s history !!

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

April 29, 2022

Some of my shopping spree in Mexico City!!!

I would like to update this older post to tell you about the different shopping opportunities in Mexico city! I am not a big shopper but love to come to the big places and wandered around window shopping is great and inexpensive! Well, once in a while I do indulge myself with some and buying gifts for love ones is fun. Mexico has an abundance of shopping opportunities from small mom and pop places to huge shopping center rivaling anyone. I sense, that this situation is growing into bigger centers and a concentration of the well known brands too.  Let me tell you a bit more on some of my shopping spree in Mexico City.

I went to a very fancy area of Mexico City and voilà, it is upper fancy shopping area, just wonderful from a change of city center. This is Los Arcos Bosques at Paseo de los Tamarindos ,90. The good here is that it reminded me of France in the La Crêpe Parisienne and some oldies favorite like Sbarro and of course nostalgic about Argentina with Puerto Madero; and a  wonderful Cinepolis cinema. For the glamour in Mexico this is it . webpage: https://www.paseoarcosbosques.mx/directorio

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Then, came down to a wonderful supermarket that has all the trimming of gourment food and very well displayed looking all fresh , this is avenida Insurgentes Sur not far from Theater Insurgentes; the name LaComer . Wonderful place and a full wine section with wines from all over the world! It all looked tempting!! This is near my visiting office there!! webpage: http://www.lacomer.com.mx/ 

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Another great experience was the Galerias Insurgentes at avenida Insurgentes Sur 1552 and calle Parroquia 194,right in the corner,  with colorful tiled floors and a glass roof. This shopping mall is still a good choice for a rainy Mexico City day and includes a range of stores that will please everyone. You have a nice Chili’s restaurant here and Crabtree and Evelyn store. A very nice pastry store El Globo, my old favorite shoe store Florsheim ,and Lacoste, Sanborns restaurants, and finally a nice Neve Gelato ice cream parlor. webpage: https://www.galerias.com/GaleriasInsurgentes/NuestrasTiendas

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Right across the street almost is one of Mexico’s leading department store, Liverpool. It has been favorite of mine for several years visiting the store in Polanco district since 1994. However, this is in Insurgentes Sur and just as nice. If you have been to an Au Printemps or Galeries lafayette in Paris, this is the closest you will get in Mexico. Sublime! webpage: https://www.liverpool.com.mx/tienda/home

And the Mexico city tourist office has more on the Liverpool at Insurgentes Sur, : http://cdmxtravel.com/es/lugares/liverpool-insurgentes.html

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Another great center that I have stayed next to it is the Patio Universidad shopping mall. Nicely located in Calle Popocatepetl 546 corner with Avenida Universidad. Here there is a range of restaurants very nice and compact such as IHOP for great breakfasts;  the Best Buy of old favorite store, El Bajio great local food restaurant, old favorites such as Olive Garden and TGIFridays and very clean spacious lobby area. To be enjoy ! Also stayed at the hotel here City Express see post. Yelp reviews webpage: https://www.yelp.com/biz/patio-universidad-m%C3%A9xico

mex olive garden patio univ cc terrace nov15

Another is Plaza Universidad at Calle Parroquia 1056 and Avenida Universidad 1000; similar to the above but bigger selection of stores. 63 stores and 17 restaurants! nice video store Game Planet and Massimo Dutti for men,Springfield, Zara, and the old favorite Sears store. A nice Cielito Lindo Café, and old favorites Sbarro, and Applebee’s restaurants. Another spot for Cinepolis cinema very nice indeed. webpage: http://plaza-universidad.com/

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Another not far to indulge yourselves in good food and shopping is Centro Insurgentes at Avenida Insurgentes Sur 1605 , there you have a wonderful Sanborn’s cafeteria, and the Italian Antica Toscana; in Sanborns you have a shopping store with gifts and accessories. This is walking distance from Teatro Insurgentes with great shows theater style of great renown there. webpage: http://www.centroinsurgentes.com/cafeterias.html

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Another popular store of mine is my old Walmart ,there is a nice one by Plaza Universidad at Avenida Universidad 936. Here you can find almost anything you need for living or visiting, I just stop by to check on prices of wines etc, but good deals can be found. webpage: https://www.walmart.com.mx/

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I found the Centro Manacar . Manacar is a 22-story skyscraper (Torre Manacar) and shopping center in the Insurgentes Sur, 1457 of Mexico City at the intersection of the city’s north-south artery, Avenida de los Insurgentes, and the Circuito Interior inner ring highway  Some of the stores there are Cinemex cinema Premium, H&M , Massimo Dutti, Tommy Hilfiger, Sephora perfums and American Eagle Outiffters, while restaurants include Chili’s It only opened in 2017 and can fit 2700 cars in the underground parking. I was walking distance from it when visited, super!! webpage: https://www.manacarmx.com/

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Last, a bit from the center if there is one in Mexico city, there is the Plaza Polanco in Calle Jaime Balmes, small on a nice area good for last minute shopping while having lunch ! Not a place to dwell on but if eating nearby why not stop by indeed! Foursquares reviews on Plaza Polanco; https://fr.foursquare.com/v/plaza-polanco/4c06a2362e80a5935f6b74f9

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There you go folks, dandy shopping in Mexico City. I have more in individual posts on my visits to the city of many years; this ,however, was to showcase all or most of them in one post. Hope you have enjoyed as I did, this my shopping spree in Mexico City; plenty here for all tastes and pockets.

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

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April 28, 2022

Hey! I was at Bạc Liêu, Vietnam!

Oh well looking at my pictures of Vietnam and bringing back memories and good cheers, I found this one little mention in older post. So, credit where credit is due, let me tell you a bit more on Bac Liêu, southern Vietnam. Hope you enjoy it as I.

Bạc Liêu is a provincial city and capital of the Bạc Liêu Province in the Mekong Delta region in southern Vietnam. The former name of the city is Vĩnh Lợi. At about 300 km from Ho Chi Minh City and about 100 km south of Cần Thơ, the largest city in the Mekong Delta. I came to the airport of Ca Mau, (see post) and drove by car, wonderful road warrior thrill.

Bac Lieu tac say church passing statues mar16

What marks Bac Liêu is its atypical landscape, western-style houses dating from the 20C line the river of the city. Its old villas have their own style, different from those that one can see in other cities of Vietnam. The materials came mainly from France, the architecture is symmetrical, the roofs have high vaults and high ceilings. The inhabitants of Bac Liêu circulate mainly on the waterways of the city, you too can admire the charm of this Western architecture during a boat trip.

A bit of history I like, The name Bạc Liêu is based on the Chinese pronunciation of a Khmer name  In the 1950s the area was a centre of Huỳnh Phú Sổ’s Hòa Hảo religion after Sổ was released there. After the Fall of Saigon, 30 April 1975, Bạc Liêu province and Cà Mau province were merged into one new entity called Minh Hải province. Although it is presently located in Vietnam, the area used to be a part of the Khmer Empire which ruled most of Indochina many centuries ago. It is still home to many ethnic Khmer people in addition to a large ethnic Teochew Chinese population In 1996, Minh Hải province was split into two, with the northeast becoming Bạc Liêu province and the southwest becoming Cà Mau province.

Bac Lieu Tac say memorial passing mar16

Some of the things to see in Bac Lieu ,which sadly had no time to see most of them are : Xiem Can Pagoda, Nha May Dien Gio Bac Lieu, Quan Am Phat Dai Temple, Tac Say Church – Truong Buu Diep (see pic), Cong Tu Bac Lieu House (Prince of Bac Lieu House), and Wind Farm Bac Lie.

Bac Lieu tac say church passing mar16

In Vietnam, Bạc Liêu is the main exporter of shrimp and prawns (for what I came!) . Do try its fondeu of fish, and the mix of Vietnamese, Chinese and Khmer cuisine.

An anecdote I was told: The don ca tài tu is a typical musical art of southern Vietnam that has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bac Lieu is said to be the cradle of this art. It is indeed in this province that the greatest masters were trained during the 20C. Born at the end of the 19C from a combination of ritual music, court music and folk literature, the don ca tài tu became a highly prized art in the early 20C. Many groups have appeared all over South Vietnam. In the province of Bac Liêu, the most famous musician was Lê Tài Khi . Founder of the first group of ritual music in the province, he will remain above all for the following generations the “later founder” of the don ca tài tu, for having renovated and popularized the twenty original works of the repertoire. By the 1930s, most of the great masters of don ca tài tu were former students of Lê Tài Khi.

Its always hard to find official Tourism information in English: so these are sites that give some information on the area of Bac Lieu. Hope it helps,

The official Vietnam tourist office on the South Vietnam area: https://vietnam.travel/places-to-go/southern-vietnam

The Mekong Delta area private Far East Tour on boating in the Mekong by Bac Lieu in French: https://www.mekongtourisme.com/destination/detail/Conseils_de_voyage_a_Bac_Lieu_-_Croisiere_au_delta_du_Mekong_52.html

The private Origin Vietnam tourist guide on Bac Lieu: https://vietnam.vnanet.vn/french/la-visite-du-cap-ca-mau-une-experience-inoubliable/429934.html

There you go folks, another dandy off the beaten path trails of mine in our wonderful world. Bac Lieu was a chance to see something different and see the beauty of Vietnam. Again, hope you enjoy the post and do go deep south into Bac Lieu!

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

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April 28, 2022

The Notre-Dame Cathedral of Ho Chi Minh City!

I had this monument briefly mentioned and the pictures not the best were in other posts. I decided to update the text and use these older pictures into a new post. Memorable moments of my visits to Ho Chi Minh City (former Saigon). I like to tell you a bit more even if just passed by it was on my list to go inside eventually; the Notre Dame Cathedral of Ho Chi Minh City!

The Notre-Dame Cathedral sits in the center of Ho Chi Minh CityDistrict 1, not far from Saigon Post Office and Reunification Palace. It was built by the French from 1877 to 1880. It is located Place de la Commune-de-Paris (Công xã Paris), formerly Place Pigneau de Behaine which marks the beginning of Đồng Khởi Street.  

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A first church is built in the 5th street (currently Ngô Duc Ke). It was a pagoda abandoned by the Cochinchinese during the war of conquest , But it became too small, the governor of Cochinchina, Admiral Bonard, decided in 1863 to build a wooden church on the bank of the Charner canal (Kinh Lớn). Archbishop Lefèbvre laid the first stone on March 28, 1863 , and the construction was completed in 1865, when it was called the Church of Saigon.

In August 1876, the governor of Cochinchina Marie Jules Dupré organized a competition to determine the architecture of Notre-Dame Cathedral. The project by architect Jules Bourard was selected by the competition organizers from among the eighteen submitted proposals. The cathedral, according to Bourard’s plans, is in the Revised Romanesque style, mixed with the Gothic style and based on the model of Notre-Dame de Paris, but inferior in size. All building materials are imported from France. The outer wall of the cathedral is built with red bricks made and imported from Toulouse.  

On April 11, 1880, on the occasion of the celebration of Easter, the inaugural ceremony was celebrated in the presence of the Governor of Cochinchina, de Vilers. In 1895, two bell towers were added to the cathedral, each 58 meters high and housing six bronze bells, for a total weight of 28.85 tons. Crosses are installed at the top of each arrow, measuring 3.5 meters high, 2 meters wide, for 600 kilograms. The building then measures 60.5 meters. The 59 stained glass windows came from the Atelier Lorin in Chartres. Some were destroyed during the war and replaced with modern stained glass windows. The cathedral was electrified in October 1913.

In the flower garden in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral, there was a bronze statue erected in 1902. The statue was sculpted in France. The statue was unsealed in 1945, but retaining the foundations. In 1959, the bishop commissioned a statue of Our Lady carved in granite in Rome, the statue which was sealed on the foundations left free in 1945 and honored it with the title of Regina Pacis (Queen of Peace). In 1960, the Holy See erected the Apostolic Vicariates of Vietnam into archdioceses with archbishoprics in Hanoi (North Vietnam), Hue and Saigon (South Vietnam). The cathedral is elevated to the title of mother church of the Archdiocese of Saigon. In 1962, the Holy See conferred on the mother cathedral of Saigon the title of minor basilica. From then on, this cathedral was called the Basilica-Cathedral of Notre Dame ( Our Lady) of Saigon. It still call this way even if the city has change to Ho Chi Minh City.

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Full services in both Vietnamese and English are held every Sunday morning and are well attended by Vietnamese and foreigners alike. Other services are held throughout the week. Hence, visitors who wish to attend mass should go on Sunday at 9h30 (9:30 a.m.). I was there while doing renovations ,this has been done already, souvenir picture

hcmc cathedral back passing dec18

The private Vietnam travel guide on the ND Cathedralhttps://www.vietnamonline.com/attraction/saigon-notre-dame-cathedral.html

The Vietnam tourist board on HCMC and the Cathedralhttps://vietnam.travel/things-to-do/7-must-see-attractions-hcmc

The official Ho Chi Minh City tourist office on the Cathedral: http://sodulich.hochiminhcity.gov.vn/Home/moduleId/564/id/4400/ma/HCCDN/controller/HanhChinhDuKhach/action/Detail

There you go folks, a nice monument that should have been given more and worth the detour in the wonderful District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City. Do enjoy the Basilica Cathedral Notre Dame of Saigon! 

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

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April 28, 2022

The quais of Honfleur!!!

This is my favorite part of Honfleur and the most touristic go figure it! It seems the world comes here and also locals. It is heavens on earth ,and a wonderful spot for any season. Of course, I am talking about Honfleur but also more especifically its wharfs or quais around the old basin or vieux bassin!  I have plenty on the city in my blog, but let me update this older post for memories’ sake and hope you enjoy it as I.

Honfleur is a town surrounding a beautiful little 17C harbor in Calvados dept 14 of Normandie and of course in my belle France. It is still active as a fishing port and marina. The town has preserved many historic and traditional buildings and houses some interesting museums, churches and monuments. It is said, is the second most visited site in all of Normandy!

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You can easily reach Honfleur by car in only about 2 hours from Paris,  ideal for a weekend visit out of season, the sort of place with just enough history, culture, sightseeing and good food to evoke a feeling of getting away , without going too far. Only 194 km from Paris via the A13 and A29 (Toll). Also, by road  23 km from Le Havre via the A131 and Pont de Normandie. 64 km from Caen via A13 (toll) , and through Pont-l’Evêque or D513 via Dives and Deauville. It is 184 km from Le Mans via the A28 and A88 (toll). There are ways to avoid the tolls but will be a slower journey, your choice I always try to leave enough time to avoid these taxes! From my new Morbihan I ,also take the A13 but several times got off by Caen on the D513 coming along by Trouville and Deauville.

You can ,also come with the Bus Verts line 20 links Caen to Le Havre via Honfleur The bus leaves you at the Honfleur bus station, Rue des Vases, and it also , runs between Deauville-St Gatien Airport and the town center or bus station.  Honfleur has no train station of its own; the closest train stations are those in Le Havre and Trouville-Deauville. Both have several daily direct trains to and from Paris Saint-Lazare station and both can be reached by Bus Verts line 20. As always like to tell, never taken bus or trains here, always by car. The public transport is for reference only.

Honfleur was assigned the role of fortress town as far back as the 11C, it was charged with keeping hostile, mainly English  ships from wandering too far up the Seine estuary.  And, from the 16C, its mariners were busily exploring Canada, helping to establish the French presence that bequeathed Quebec. Honfleur is tucked between two round hills, it is a maze of tiny streets crowded around an old port. On the northern wharf, a row of tall narrow houses with slate roofs and in some cases even slate facades dating back to the 16C, 17C and 18C. Many  streets lead to the Place de Ste.-Catherine, but it is well worth following a zigzag path to study the varied architecture of the homes on the Rue Haute, Rue Brulée, Rue de la Bavole, Rue des Capucins and Rue du Puits. Many have the half-timbered look associated with Normandy, and others are made of stone and are decorated with sculptures. Most were built between the 16C and 18C.

The Vieux Basin is a Port or Vieux Port located in the center of Honfleur . Its narrow slate houses reflecting in the basin make it the main tourist attraction of Honfleur.  This afloat basin was created on the insistance of Abraham Duquesne and by order of Colbert in 1681. It replaces the old stranding haven, which was much narrower. This work necessitates the destruction of the western part of the ramparts, and ended in 1684. This basin with an area of approximately one hectare (10 000 m2) has a length of 130 meters for a width of 70 meters on the south side and 85 meters on the north side where the channel is located to the port of Honfleur. It is entirely surrounded by docks accessible to the public.

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The Vieux Port basin is surrounded by the Quai Sainte-Catherine in the west and for a part of the south side. The quarantine of mansions dates back to the 17-18C. They are narrow and have three to seven floors (except for house No. 2 which has only one floor). Many facades are covered with slate. Some mansions are built in corbally. The old basin has always been represented by artists including Gustave Courbet,  Eugène Boudin, Claude Monet and Johan Barthold  Jongkind,  forming the school  of Honfleur which contributed  to the appearance of the Impressionist  movement. Today, most of the ground floor of the Quai Sainte-Catherine are occupied by restaurants and brasseries. The south side extends the Quai Sainte-Catherine via the rue Montpensier. Through an underground route, the brook of Claire feeds the basin.

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The basin is occupied only by a dozen constructions constituting the Quai Saint-Étienne. Among these are the City/Town Hall, the old St. Etienne (Stephen’s) Church, which has become a Marine Museum or Musée de la Marine. Three lanes access the Quai Saint-Étienne. On sea side, there is the quai de la Quarantaine and only one building: the lieutenance; that was once the home of the King’s lieutenant. This is the only important vestige of the city’s fortifications. The mobile bridge over the channel towards the front-port formed by the Morelle completes the tour of the basin.

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The city of Honfleur on the Vieux Basinhttps://www.ville-honfleur.com/decouvrir-honfleur/honfleur-et-son-patrimoine/un-patrimoine-historique/

The Honfleur tourist office on the Vieux Basinhttps://www.ot-honfleur.fr/visiter-decouvrez/patrimoine/le-vieux-bassin-la-lieutenance/

There you go folks, just what I needed is to share this spot of our world with you all. Honfleur is catchy sort like an honorable flower town (my translation) and deservently so. Enjoy Honfleur as we had , do and will have; memories forever.

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

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April 27, 2022

My restos and shops of Honfleur!!!

And so here I am in Normandie and my belle France again to tell you about the magic of this land. I will update this memorable post on my shops and restos of Honfleur to share as well and darn it, never enough space to tell you about the wonderful places we shop and eat while in our road warrior trips. I will try to briefly tell you a bit about the places we like when we go to Honfleur for shopping and eating with the family.  

I will run down the list in no particular order , restos and then shops of Honfleur. Of course, many are in my trip posts in my blog as well. Pictures when taken. Hope you enjoy it as I.

La Maison Bleue.  Historical place and well manage, we go here for the drinks lately and the view of the old basin port.At the corner of the Vieux Port, 17 quai Saint-Etienne  it counts among the hangout of locals and regulars who know where they put their feet under the table! It is greeted without fuss at any time of the day, every day of the week, twelve months out of twelve.  The conviviality of the tables on the ground floor and upstairs, with breathtaking views of the old basin, makes this address a postcard. It tells a story with a great H: after the war, it was painted blue with the rest of the painting of the inhabitants of the harbor… This is where we came to eat the soup kitchen. Artists, including Michel Serrault, liked to spend a good time there. The old-fashioned kitchen remains traditional and family-friendly. webpage: https://lamaisonbleuehonfleur.wordpress.com/

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Au Relais Des Cyclistes.  We past by it and finally by a local recommendation we went in and it was a delight, sure to come back.  It is the nice table where to settle, a few steps from the tourist office at 10 Place de la Porte-de-Rouen. The one we imagine when the stomach cries hunger.  You will make, at the same time acquaintance with the very friendly and talkative staff, recommended by the all Honfleur.  The brasserie is traceable to its orange awning. Observe the painted traces of the original sign on the pediment of the house. At the Relais des Cyclistes is today still the place of daily meeting for a lunch between buddies or a good child business meal. The tradition is that in the 1940’s, the peasants who went down to the city to make their market entrusted their bikes to the local café. webpage: https://www.aurelaisdescyclistes.fr/

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Le Crystal at 3 Rue Haute, this is a refine Norman cuisine and do try the Lobster or the Choucroute de Mer especially in the upper floor (1fl FR). Always a treat and memorable moments with the family. Right at the start of a wonderful quant wooden houses street, lovely. webpage restaurantguru: https://fr.restaurantguru.com/Le-Crystal-Honfleur

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L’Albatros at 32 Quai Sainte-Catherine is a repeat great for breakfast by the Vieux Port, bagel with eggs and bacon, coffee, orange juice, and pancakes a bit high at 12€ but worth it for the treat and the great service and greater view in the early morning harbor. webpage restaurantguru: https://fr.restaurantguru.com/Albatros-Honfleur

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We headed for the Cafe de Paris on 2 quai des passengers , and had the first encounter with the fisherman and tells of their stories as far as New Zealand. Wonderful place for breakfast too. Just around the corner from the boat ramps on your way to the jardin public and the statues of personages of the city.  webpage restaurantguru: https://fr.restaurantguru.com/Le-Cafe-de-Paris-Honfleur

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Oncle Scott’s,  208 Cours Jean de Vienne. A wonderful US Western style restaurant featuring Budweiser beers and Mountain Dew sodas! the boys love it and so did we, chasing them in Brittany as well! webpage: https://restaurant-onclescotts-honfleur.fr/

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Au Bouillon Normand, at 7 Rue de la ville. The menu changes four times a year, depending on the season. In turn, you should go for the essential hot crispy Camembert. You can also share the dishes  very well if we want to honor this table worthily. What they do between meat and fish to taste everything. A very good idea that allows you to keep a place of choice for the desserts to come as the hot soufflé with Calvados! webpage restaurantguru: https://fr.restaurantguru.com/Au-Bouillon-Normand-Honfleur

The Le Vintage Café at 8 Quai des Passagers in Honfleur. This is one spot we always look for to have a drink beer, cocktails like sex on the beach, mojitos or wines ;Tapas are served with the drinks. They have live concerts every Fridays and Saturdays, which we enjoy the Joe Cocker replays by the local band! Their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/vintagehonfleur/?ref=page_internal

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And just going over to the Church Sainte Catherine turn right on the little street ,rue Haute. Le Bréard7 Rue du Puits. One of the most original tables in the city. After passing through the kitchens of the la Tour d’Argent , Lucas Carton or the Grand Véfour,chef Fabrice Sébire chose Honfleur as his home port and a charming building on the rue du Puits as the basis of his culinary experiments. Very traditional French, gastronomic meals;delicious.webpage: https://www.restaurant-lebreard.com/

The Sa.Qua.Na , at 22 Place Hamelin a gourmet kitchen, the open kitchen lets glimpse the prom of cooks. As a whole, the frame of bricks, metal, wood has gained in brightness; The spirit of the house and its exquisite flavors, bold blend between Japan, Aveyron, Mauritius and Normandy. Two menus and two colours, “olive green” (8 courses) and “cherry red” (5 courses), are offered to the guests, invited to share the same meal. Sa-Qua-Na  is a Japanese name that means fish and evokes the three pillars of their daily requirements,  “flavor, quality, nature “. Nice. webpage: https://alexandre-bourdas.com/

Il Parasole, at 2 rue Haute near harbor, sandwich and ice cream parlors. At the Italian restaurant Il Parasole the quality of the dishes and the freshness of the products carry you in one bite! In the midst of the warm colors of the room or the fresh air on the terrace, it is in a family and friendly atmosphere that you share this trip, young and old, with your loved ones.So did we! webpage: https://www.ilparasole.com/

The jazz bar by the harbor ,La Taverne du Perroquet Vert52 Quai Sainte-Catherine. There is no time for chatter. Let alone the snacks that titillate the stomachs that we are in the morning or evening, noon or afternoon. This is one of the essential places of the Norman port! Warm atmosphere, cozy décor trendy? yes. But warm, without fuss and at a price, all, reasonable from the brewery to the cocktail bar. webpage: https://www.bar-perroquet-vert-honfleur.com/

Entering Honfleur on the D580, La Fregate at 24 Rue des Quatre Franc and corner of the Rond Point du Poudreux, in the town limits of La Rivière-Saint-Sauveur.  Traditional French cuisine. Nice escape from the tourist central. webpage restaurantguru: https://fr.restaurantguru.com/LA-FREGATE-SAS-La-Riviere-Saint-Sauveur

honfleur la fregate restaurant aug18

La Maison du Cidre Rosé , at 9 rue du Dauphin, sale of regional products Honfleur cider, rosé cider, Calvados, beers, wines, jams, salted caramel butter, chocolate, biscuits, terrines, etc etc. Wonderful we love it for the Cider Roses of course ! Sadly, here for the memories it has closed.

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J’irai revoir ma Normandie at  31 rue du Dauphin now see below, previously at Cours Jean de Vienne, D580 entering Honfleur.  Shop of regional and artisanal products composed  80% of Norman products with among them, ciders including rosé and white prestige cider, Norman aperitifs, pommeaux, creams of Calvados,.terrines and preserves, biscuits; confectionery and the essential caramels with salted butter from Isigny. webpage: https://jirairevoirmanormandie.com/fr/

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La Cidrerie, at 26 place Hamelin. The charming little entrance, decorated with barrels and embellished with Ivy, welcomes guests with conviviality.  Great simple meals around the Normand cider.webpage: https://www.creperie-lacidrerie-honfleur.com/la-carte/

We had a great lunch once by the 1, quai des passengers almost across from the jardin public, the Bistrot à Crêpes. Very nicely serve with great steaks, burgers,and salads, good coffees, great ice cream italian homemade, and the beer heineken. webpage: https://fr.restaurantguru.com/Le-Bistrot-a-Crepes-Honfleur

L’Hippocampe is the fish market and also restaurant  by the vieux port, can’t missed is a big warehouse looking building just before crossing to the parking de la Môle. The address is Quai Tostain. Fresh fish and seafood right off the boat and cut to please, they can even do filets pre cooked for you on the spot. Take out only. webpage restaurantguru: https://fr.restaurantguru.com/Lhippocampe-Honfleur

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La Curé Gourmande31 rue du Dauphin , candies galore a heaven for the young at heart! Sadly it has closed , here for the memories of always.

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The La Cave Normande at 13 Rue de la ville.  It is, as the name implies, first a cellar, but also a museum. The small local shop is indeed home to the largest collection of Calvados vintage of France!. The lieutenance , the first beer brewed in Honfleur is also available. Not able to confirm if still open but a memorable place indeed.

Carrefour Market , 46 Rue de la République , conveniently open Sunday mornings as well; plenty of choices for the apartment lover in us! And you! webpage: https://www.carrefour.fr/magasin/market-honfleur

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The hypermarket E Leclerc at  Avenue Marcel Liabastre just entering town on the road D580 on your right hand side. Gas up , good prices but do not open on Sundays. We have come more lately on this one. Webpage: https://www.e.leclerc/mag/e-leclerc-honfleur

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Petit Casino 14 Quai Lepaulmier, wonderful open all day Sundays including evenings! Yes the all time favorite when the need arises and you are at your hotel or apartment and hunger cranks for a convenience trip. webpage: https://magasins.petitcasino.fr/fr/casino-shop-honfleur

There you go now you won’t go hungry or in need in Honfleur and sure to taste some delicious local Norman/French food, tops as in France! Enjoy my restos and shops of Honfleur!! 

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

April 27, 2022

How to get by at Versailles!

So on a cool rainy day in my neck of the woods, time to take a look at my blog and do updates of older posts. I like to update this one on how to get by at Versailles! How to see Versailles with quicker entry and less crowds? I mean less crowds because to the world most visited castle , easy visit are history indeed. Let me tell you a bit more on the subject.

I have read many blogs, newspapers, magazines, etc of people telling about how difficult is to get to Versailles past its lines and a even more crowded place. Well, I admit do not have the magic formula but after living for about 9 years in the city, been friends of the palace/museum since 2004 ,and visited upteen times even taken folks there as touring, believe I can have my five cents worth on the subject. Therefore, here is my take on the subject.

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First, you need to get here from whatever you are from, even folks living in Versailles! Many people go to the cram parking at Place d’Armes because it is in front of the castle and voilà they made it. However, for just a pleasant walk among historical buildings you can park at  Parking Sceaux ,avenue de Sceaux next to train station RER C Château-Rive-Gauche at end of parking ,you find the gardens jardin des Etangs Gobert. You come by car on the A13 direction Rouen and get off at exit/sortie 5 Versailles Centre, followed it all around until the train station.

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The Parking de l’avenue de Sceaux on the city of Versailles parkings : https://www.versailles.fr/ma-ville/se-deplacer/stationnement/tarif-de-stationnement/

Perhaps you like to come by bus, many folks like this way of public transport than again most take the more hazarduos way of the train or RER C. You can come from Paris by bus no 171 of the RATP system runs between Pont de Sèvres and the Château de Versailles.  Metro line 9 to Pont de Sèvres , this is the longest and most frequented metro line of Paris. Also Paris RATP bus lines 169, 179 ,279, 291, 389, 426 ,and 467  reach the Pont de Sévres stop. 

This is the bus line 171 on the official RATP networkhttps://www.ratp.fr/plans-lignes/busratp/171

Once in the city, there are ways to get around to the main sight of the Château de Versailles domain; and I say main sight because as in my previous posts, Versailles has a lot more things to see. 

The nice thing we even did to get from the center of Versailles to the shopping at Parly II mall or even to get inside the domain of Versailles by the Porte Saint Antoine was to take bus no 19 . The Allée Saint-Antoine begins to the south in front of the Grand Canal , and ends about 1 350 meters to the north on Boulevard Saint-Antoine, where is the Arc de Triomphe of the Porte Saint-Antoine. The bus is taken from Avenue Saint Cloud almost to the corner of Avenue de l’Europe and you need to get off at Parly II or Arboretum and walk back down about 300 meters to the entrance at the Porte de Saint Antoine. Right next is the Hameau de Marie Antoinette and follow by the Petit Trianon and Grand Trianon,the gardens and a whole world of Versailles!

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Type in itineraire les Mureaux to from Versailles to see the bus line 19 that can drop you off by the Porte Saint Antoine and into the Hameau/Trianons of Versailles: https://me-deplacer.iledefrance-mobilites.fr/itineraire

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If tired or for the thrill of something different, then inside Versailles, the best is the Phebus bus network It has buses from the train stations passing near the Palace of Versailles. From to train stations “Versailles Château Rive Gauche”, “Versailles Chantiers” and “Versailles Rive Droite” . Other than the bus itself you can buy of several tabacs in Versailles, the list is in the lien, The official Phebus network : https://www.phebus.tm.fr/ou-acheter-mon-titre

The Petit Train inside Domaine de Versailles property if you want a quick look and rest from walking this is the little train. From the North terrace of the chateau > Petit Trianon, Grand Trianon, Grand Canal (Little Venice) then back (possibility to get off at a stop and then go back to a train with the same ticket, except the last train of the day). Webpage : http://www.train-versailles.com/en/

To purchase tickets and try to avoid as much as possible the ticket purchase lines (security lines are unavoidable) you can do so at the counters with staff or automatic machines in the south wing of ministers (Aile des Ministres), the building on the left when you are in the courtyard of the castle.. There is only one entry for all individual visitors at entrance APavillon Dufour! Also, online of course, better! Palace/museum webpage: https://en.chateauversailles.fr/plan-your-visit/tickets-and-prices?visite-tid=1

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It is possible to avoid the first line by buying in advance its ticket. Purchase at the tourist Office, 2bis avenue de Paris by the Le Louis hotel ; sale of the ticket Château + 1.80€ of commission, (check if fees have change) avoids the lines/queue to the ticket lines of the castle. Or online even better! webpage: https://en.versailles-tourisme.com/visit-estate-versailles.html

Another possible area my oldest son worked next to it is the Place des Manéges, located on the Avenue du Général de Gaulle between the City/Town Hall and the palace/museum.  The building of the Le Manéges (or merry go around)  was a former military building under Napoleon III. It was demolished in 1988 with the exception of its portal which remained on the Avenue du General-de-Gaulle. A commercial center with the Phebus bus ticket office, restos and shopping gallery as well as the La Maréchalerie Centre d’Art Contemporain under the Le Manéges are there now. There is a group reservation to avoid lines, right in the building which is across from the train RER C château-rive-gauche ; never use it but is GetYourGuide webpage : https://www.getyourguide.com/paris-l16/chateau-et-jardins-de-versailles-visite-guidee-coupe-file-t398194/

Of course, there are many online, and on site, purchase ticket possibilities that are well recommended such as the FNAC stores, ticketmaster , and many hypermarket such as Carrefour, Leclerc, Auchan, etc on their in store cultural ticket sales. I said, always good to buy ahead if sure of your dates/times.

There are different entries to the Domaine of Versailles (the local name given to the castle, trianons, hameau,gardens whole complex) . Access to the park is free for pedestrians and bicycles. Vehicles must pay an entry fee (last was 5€) except for persons with reduced mobility (PMR) on proof. My favorite entry on foot or by car was/is at the Porte Saint Antoine . Access to the gardens, reserved for pedestrians, is free except for the days of Grandes Eaux and Jardins Musicaux ( Water show and musical) from April to October. Some of the entries on foot are Grille de la Reine (Queen’s gate),by the boulevard de la Reine. The Grille des Matelots,by the road of Saint-Cyr L’école D10. By the before mentioned Porte Saint-Antoine,on the side of the town of Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt ( just to your right is the Hameau of Marie Antoinette and thereafter the Petit and Grand Trianon as well as the Castle from the back of the Grand Canal, also, my favorite hangout the Angelina café next to the Petit Trianon! By the Grille de Neptune, by rue de la Paroisse/rue du Maurepas crossing rue des Reservoirs  near the basin of Neptune from which if you take the allée de Trianon you can ,also, go to the Grand and Petit Trianon, and the Hameau of Marie Antoinette.

One last word, best days to come. Huh! well do not come in any French Holidays or around them if bridges or ponts are available ( New Year Jan 1st, Easter Monday April 22, Labor Day ,May 1st, Victory day (WWII) May 8, Thursday of Ascension May 30, Monday of Pentecost June 10, National Day July 14, Assomption Day August 15, All Saints Day November 1st, Armistice Day (end WWI) November 11, and Christmas December 25) , Wednesdays as it is school children off day and Mom will take them out, weekends as the world comes to Versailles. The rest is up for grabs!!

An an anecdote for outside viewing only. This building houses the CRCV or the research Centre of the Château de Versailles, created in 2004. It is interested in research and training on the places and expressions of power in the 17C and 18C. However, as said just for passing by as it is not open to the general public. Located at the Grand Commun building to the left looking at the palace/museum, and go to 1 rue de l’Indépendance américaine. The CRCV webpage: https://chateauversailles-recherche.fr/english

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There yo go folks, another trip into my wonderful beautiful Versailles and its palace/museum. And yes, sometimes crowded but worth it, that is why you all come and!I agree !! Hope you enjoy it as I,

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

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