Archive for August 26th, 2022

August 26, 2022

Some news from Spain  CXXX

And back at you with my series of some news from Spain !!! thanks to you all. There is lots of things going on in my beloved Spain, and it is summer awesome as folks are coming back ! I am eagerly looking forward to be back too!! Let me tell you the latest tidbits of news chosen by yours truly, Enjoy it as Spain is everything under the Sun!

In towns where I still have family Toledo,got hit about 36 degrees have been recorded (around 17h), while the minimum will continue to oscillate around 22 . In Madrid tomorrow Friday will be high 31 and low 21, Saturday 32 and 19, Sunday 32 and 22, Hot as in Spain !

It is the first time that the Prado Museum dedicates a monographic exhibition to Luis Paret, which traces his professional career, highlighting the excellent technical quality and unique originality with which the artist dealt with the issues addressed in his work. A total of 80 works make up the monographic exhibition that the Prado Museum has organized around the figure of Luis Paret . A contemporary of Francisco de Goya, he is considered the representative of French Rococo in Spain and his work is a true reflection of the society of the time. The exhibition is divided into nine sections to show an exhaustive journey through the career of this artist and discover his artistic conception and the keys to his technique that, without a doubt, place him next to his great contemporary Francisco de Goya. Prado webpage:

The race begins today to represent Spain in the 95th edition of the Oscars !! First, Alcarràs , the second feature film by filmmaker Carla Simón, winner of the Berlin Bear at this year’s festival; ‘Alcarràs’ has been sold to more than 50 countries, Simón “is considered a world director” and the idea is to release the film in the United States in commercial theaters in 2023 – it will also go to the New York Festival , The Solé family life is told. And there is the moment of a summer in which the grandfather stopped talking. What the Solé have cultivated for decades with no more agreement than the word of the owner, is now lost. The heirs claim what the property titles say is theirs. The old meets the new; progress, they say, does not understand verb tenses. The future of solar panels is bad with fruit trees. And with memory. Clean energy suddenly dirty. Next the Cinco Lobitos or five little wolves, it is Alauda Ruiz de Azúa’s first film, tells the story of a new mother. And there, in that short and simple sentence, she lives the entire film from the first to the last frame. Surprise clarity and doubt; she excites faith, and convinces something as elemental as life. And we close the candidates with As Bestas, by Rodrigo Sorogoyen, It is a film of revenge, but also of hope. It is a rural tragedy of deep anger from Spain, but without giving up the enlightened voice of what is just, what is desirable, what is correct, what is enlightened. What it is not in any case is a pastoral elegy. See them saw clips looks good indeed.

The Feria de Otoño or autumn fair, between October 1 and 12, 2022 will remember the figure of Antonio Bienvenida, on the centenary of his birth , Five bullfights are announced, two bullfights with picadores and the final of the Camino hacia Las Ventas or road to Las Ventas. Las Ventas webpage:

José María Fonollosa the centenary of the poet’s birth. A poet that a few people know as Pla, another few as Serrat, and whom most of Spain, Literature graduates included, do not like. Fonollosa was eluded by success throughout his life. For most of his life, he wrote a monumental work, ‘Ciudad del hombre‘, or City of men of which he only managed to publish a part the year before his death. Today he is considered by those who understand poetry as one of the greatest of the century. Without readers who has written the text is incomplete ,This was one of the problems of José María Fonollosa. I like Fonollosa for his amusing cruelty and his restrained sweetness. This is more than can be said for many writers of poetry. Maybe he committed the sin of being too ironic in a field that usually rewards intensity, I don’t know. Fonollosa even when he got intense, it was fun. It is not the same to say humor and humour, and seriousness is not the same as solemnity. Fonollosa was serious and humorous. I think he took poetry seriously enough not to cheapen it with blows to the chest. The problem, I guess, is that it seemed like he was writing minutiae that way. He was born in Barcelona in 1922, emigrated with his family to Cuba in 1951 and returned after the Cuban revolution, in 1961. His reluctance to participate in Havana’s literary circles, but above all his profound anti-communism, which, led him to denigrate figures such as Picasso and Sartre , may have contributed to the lack of recognition for his work by the Cuban cultural authorities after the 1959 revolution. He always lived alone, although he had a lot of dates, but he would only let a select few enter his studio, full of of books and disorder, Cruel and sweet, Fonollosa died in 1991. In many of his poems he says that he knows he will be read to in the future.He is,,,,A Zendalibros site with some further info and some of his poems:

Let me tell you about an area of my Madrid which is chic, archetucturally stunning and beautiful history,The Royal Palace and its surroundings,

This urban space constituted the primitive embryo of the city of Madrid. Here was that Muslim Mayrit that had been founded as a military fortress during the emirate of Mohammad ben Abd al-Rahmman, between the years 850 and 886. This Mayrit had unbeatable natural conditions for its defense and since the 10C with a wall of stonework that surrounded an urban perimeter of 1273 meters. On the Cuesta de la Vega some stretches of the Arab wall are still preserved in good condition. In the walled enclosure or citadel (al-mudayna), which would be more or less located where the Royal Palace and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Almudena are today, was the Alcázar or military castle. Outside the enclosure to the east and south were the Arab and Christian neighborhoods that constituted the so-called Medina. In short, it was a small city that did not exceed 17 hectares in size.

This whole place is very changed today. The continuous reforms in the Alcázar and its surroundings in times of the Habsburgs, was followed by the devastating fire of the same in 1734 and the construction of the new Royal Palace between 1738 and 1764. But it was during the brief reign of José Bonaparte (1808-1813) when the urban appearance changed the most with the scheduled demolition of a large number of houses that were next to the Royal Palace. Its land would be replaced by the current Plaza de Oriente and the Royal Theater ,but definitively completed in 1850 with notable differences from the original idea. The Plaza de Oriente is one of the most beautiful squares in the city, it preserves the original design of its gardens and enhances the monumentality of the Royal Palace and the Royal Theatre.

But this environment contains other interesting corners such as the neighboring section of Calle Mayor (Palacio de los Consejos and Convento del Sacramento), Plaza de Ramales (Palace of Domingo Trespalacios and Casa Palacio de Ricardo Angustias), Plaza de la Encarnación (Convent of La Encarnación) and the Plaza de la Marina Española and its surroundings (Palace of the Senate, palace of the Marquis of Grimaldi and the Duke of Granada de Ega, building of the Royal Asturian Mining Company and, among others, the headquarters of the Royal Academy of Surgery and Medicine). Sublime a must to walk it all !!!

Some towns I like , and do think about visiting you will be glad !

Maderuelo, province of Segovia, This town stands on the banks of a reservoir making it a privileged place. The town sits between the Serrezuela de Sepúlveda and the Ayllón páramo, giving rise to one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. Among its main attractions is the Arco de la Villa, the emblematic entrance of Maderuelo, which still retains the locks, the postern and some thick armored wooden doors, with decorations and polychrome armor from the 15C. Also noteworthy is the spectacular viewpoint that extends under the porticoed atrium of the Church of Santa María. The Plaza de San Miguel is surrounded by tall buildings that preserve the medieval atmosphere, highlighting two Romanesque portals and a Gothic one with a rococo-style shield. This historic town also preserves some unique architectural remains, in Segovia, from the Muslim era. On the outskirts, the grandiose Hermitage of Castroboda, where the patron saint of the town is venerated, and that of Vera Cruz from the end of the 11C, will not leave anyone indifferent. The Segovia province tourist office on Maderuelo:

Cudillero, Asturias, This town with its brightly colored houses perched on the mountain above the sea, is one of the most picturesque towns on the Asturian coast. Not only the Association of the most beautiful towns in Spain says so, but also the prestigious newspaper The New York Times. Undoubtedly, an unforgettable place to visit, where the fishing atmosphere is still alive and where gastronomy and landscape come together to form a unique image. Also known as Villa Pixueta, it exudes the sea and fishing on all four sides, and still preserves such unique traditions as that of the curadillo, a unique delicacy, invented by the pixueto fishermen in times past, when they left small sharks to dehydrate for months at the door of their houses. Among its obligatory stops is the port that dazzled Hollywood with the Oscar-winning film Start Again, and you can’t miss the opportunity to visit its lighthouse and the Humilladero Chapel, its charming Gothic jewel. The Cudillero tourist office:

Medina del Campo ,Province of Valladolid, has palaces, stately homes and what is known as ‘Plaza Mayor de la Hispanidad‘. What most impresses about the Plaza Mayor of Medina del Campo is its proportions. With more than 14,000 m², it is the largest square in Spain and it seems even bigger since the trees and fountain that adorned it were removed. The town of Medina del Campo, located 50 km from Valladolid, has always been a strategic point in Castilla y León The Rueda Wine Route is one of the 35 Wine Routes in Spain. The Rueda Designation of Origin was created in 1980 and was the first D.O. recognized in Castilla y León. Medina del Campo is located practically in the center of this area. In La Seca, 12 km from Medina del Campo and known as ‘La Cuna del Verdejo’, or the birthplace of Verdejo, the grape ; are the Campo Elíseo Wineries. Two French winegrowers have developed their business in a 17C manor house in which they recovered an impressive gallery of caves, ten meters below ground. There rest traditional Bordeaux barrels and modern concrete vats in the shape of eggs that allow a constant movement of the wine and its ‘lees’, which translates into a greater aroma. The Castillo de la Mota, which stands on a hill (mota), is the main monument of Medina del Campo. It is one of the first castles built almost entirely with bricks instead of ashlar masonry. It was finished at the end of the 15C and its nearly forty-metre homage tower stands out. Its main function was defensive, not palatial, it also served as a prison and housed prisoners such as Hernando Pizarro, brother of the conqueror of Peru; and César Borgia, who is said to have escaped by sliding down a rope. After the Spanish civil war it housed the Command School of the Women’s Section. It can be visited without a guide (exteriors and ground floor) and with a guide (4 euros last check). The Medina del Campo tourist office:

There you go folks, another dandy tour of my beloved Spain ! Summer is here with all that heat wave as well. Time to enjoy sunny Spain once again, and we are gear up for it! Hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

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August 26, 2022

Wines news of France XXIX !!

Well, the temps have settle down into the usual nice Summer, and we enjoy it. Anyway, always good to bring the best of Wine news of France. First ,thanks to all my readers and/or followers! We have done quite a bit of work around the house, and still some more until early September. Oh yeah, the wines of France are just super simply awesome and a great tradition. Often imitated, some time equaled ,but never surpass! Let me give some news shall we; hope you enjoy it as I.

For decades, the grape harvest was considered locally as the event of the year, a period during which entire towns came together, a sort of line of flight between the end of summer and the arrival of autumn. Today, they still evoke for our elders sweet memories of work in the countryside, village festivals and lunches on the grass, carrying with them the nostalgia of a “France before”. Nowadays, the harvest always takes place from July to October, depending on the climates and regions, and still gives rise to its share of traditions, some of which have disappeared. Because since the appearance of the first harvesting machine in Bordeaux in 1975, the bucolic ritual has taken a serious hit , and in 2010, nearly three-quarters of the vineyard was still harvested by machine. A trend further reinforced by the health crisis, during which many areas had no choice but to invest in machines, for lack of being able to count on seasonal workers stranded behind European borders. If the market continues to grow, with ever more efficient technologies , except in Champagne, where the specifications impose manual harvesting , the time has come to reconsider, and in the ranks of the new generation, they are more and more numerous to backtrack, favoring human and animal work to the detriment of the race for yields. Man or machine, impossible to say with certainty who will win. I hope man, the tradition of what we eat and drink.

AB, Demeter, Biodyvin, Vignerons Engagés, Terra Vitis… Which labels to trust? AB, for Organic Agriculture, and European organic label, known as Eurofeuille, still pass, the specifications have been the same since 2010. But concerning Demeter, Biodyvin, HVE, Terra Vitis, Vignerons Engagés… It’s a safe bet that our amateur will lose its lights. Normal, in this forest of labels, a cat would not find her young. Indeed!!! According to a 2021 Sowine/Winedata study, 53.4% of buyers take the time when buying to see if the bottle of wine displays an environmental certification. This boosts sales. As for the reputation of the different labels, 85% of respondents have already heard of AB, 36% know what Vignerons Engagés is, at least on paper, 29% for HVE and 26% for Terra Vitis…Very confusing you have to be in the business to know it well, the consumer is lost and really do not know the definition of these termes!!! AB  designs an agricultural biological label in France. Demeter is a private certification for food, cosmetics and textiles from biodynamic agriculture. Biodyvin. International Syndicate of Winegrowers in Biodynamic Culture.The Vignerons en Développement Durable association brings together winegrowers committed to a CSR approach from vine to glass. Its Vignerons Engagés label is the first CSR and sustainable label dedicated to the world of wine in France. Terra Vitis is a network of women and men, winegrowers or winegrowers, all committed to responsible viticulture. Distributed throughout France.

Great young wines can seduce with their generous fruit and power. But the same ones, with a few more years, can bewitch with their complex aromas and the velvety silkiness of their tannins. It all depends on the age of the wine. Normally, a bottle of 10 or 15 years of age does not require special attention. On the other hand, when you enter the world of bottles that are over 20 or 25 years old, you have to be more attentive and delicate: start by handling the bottle with care to avoid putting the probable deposit in suspension, be careful with the corkscrew and handle it with great care to prevent the cork soaked in wine from falling into small pieces, possibly and very delicately decant the contents just before serving in a decanter if the deposit seems very important to you, otherwise, handle as little as possible the wine before serving and therefore avoid decanting it even if it does not show a noticeable deposit. Prefer to puncture a small glass in order to place the level at the height of the shoulders of the bottle for a gentle aeration. If you haven’t downed the small glass in question out of relish, pour it back into the bottle just before serving! finally, the serving temperature can be rather a degree higher than the same wine in a young vintage because, as they age, wines normally lose a little alcohol. We will therefore be around 18° for most Bordeaux, Burgundy and northern Rhône wines, and rather around 17° for southern Rhône wines. For whites, stay between 13 and 14°, excessive cold not being a friend of mature white wines because it kills the complexity of their aromas. En Vino Veritas!

Thanks to the few rains in mid-August, the ripening of the Muscadet grapes continued positively. The harvest ban was declared on Tuesday 23 August. The vintage promises to be exceptional. This year, Tuesday August 23 marks the start of a strategic three-week period during which the quality of the vintage becomes clearer , three weeks earlier than in 2021, on September 15. In addition to Muscadet, there are other Nantes appellations such as Coteaux d’Ancennis Malvoisie and Gros Plant du Pays Nantais. In August, the winegrowers were impatiently awaiting a little rain and it finally came in the middle of the month, offering between 20 and 30 mm of water depending on the sector. This rain made it possible to reach an ideal balance between the sugar of the grape (potential alcohol) and the acidity. Professionals from Nantes claim that the vintage will enter the pantheon of Muscadet, just like 1976 or 2003. The 450 winegrowers spread over the 6,500 hectares of the Muscadet appellation estimate, at this stage, a harvest of around still far from the yields of the AOC, but close to a year of marketing. Much better than last year’s 145,000 hl.

The harvest began on August 20 2022 in Champagne. They promise to be of extraordinary quality, in line with the three great vintages of 2018, 2019 and 2020. The relative dryness has also been beneficial. Because if an excess of water is never good for the quality, too intense a drought can cause blockages of maturity and heterogeneity in the progress of the grapes which complicates the picking circuits. Finally, the third highlight is that this is a warm vintage. For the rest, the sunshine, the heat and the drought allowed the grapes to reach good levels. The only downside is the difficulty of recruiting pickers.

For the Provençal winegrowers ; the first secateurs were launched on August 11 2022 in the traditionally earliest sectors such as the golden triangle of Cuers, Montfort sur Argens, and the Var coast. Thanks to rains in mid-August, the vintage promises to be of good quality with unexpected volumes. Despite the increasingly marked climatic vagaries, cool nights maintained the balance and Provence is expecting an average vintage in terms of volumes or around 950,000 hl for Côtes-de-Provence. Rather good news after three small problem harvests. The vintage will be fine, but the winegrowers will be encouraged, even more than in other years, to harvest during the coolest hours of the day, or even at night, in order to bring in the grapes as cool as possible and preserve the purity of the aromas of the famous rosés from Provence.

This white grape variety is not one of the international stars, yet it is the spearhead of two French appellations that are dear to our taste buds. Who is the Mauzac? Mauzac is an indigenous variety from the southwest. He is probably from the region of Gaillac, although that of Limoux also claims his paternity. Truce de guerre de clocher, this white grape variety is productive, late in terms of maturity, fan of limestone and clay-limestone soils, much less admirer of Botrytis in the vine and worms in the bunch, Mauzac gives excellent sparkling wines . It is the exclusive grape variety of the Gaillac Mousseux Méthode Ancestrale and the AOP Blanquette de Limoux ancestral method. It represents 90% minimum of the assembly of the AOP Blanquette de Limoux traditional method. It expresses itself with intense aromas of ripe apple, pear, exotic fruits, acacia flower, reveals its bubbles with finesse, fills the palate with its beautiful material, well contrasted by a fair acidity. bloom longer in its original vine, its berries are adorned with a pretty red hue testifying to over-ripeness. In this case, it is perfect for making sweet wines like Gaillac Doux, with bewitching notes of honey, quince and candied fruit. It is also vinified in still whites in Gaillac, Limoux, Entre-deux-Mers, Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux, Côtes-de-Duras, where it brings all its complexity and structure on the palate to blended wines. Mauzac is a niche grape variety, proud of its roots, a quiet force that deserves to be known. Indeed is excellent in the above wines , try it !

The Château La Tour Carnet anticipates climate change, This fifth growth classified in 1855, in Haut Médoc, owned by Bernard Magrez, has become the site of an experiment intended to simulate the effects of climate change by 2050. It is to study the adaptation of 84 grape varieties to new artificially induced climatic conditions. the National Institute of Origin and Quality (INAO) recently authorized the integration of 6 new grape varieties among 52 tested according to the specifications of Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur. 84 rows of vines corresponding to 84 grape varieties, 42 red and 42 white, (1 row per variety tested) were planted. The Touriga National is one of the 84 varieties tested. It has also recently been authorized by the INAO in Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur according to certain rules. Tasted, the 2018 expresses aromas of blackberry, tar, graphite, crushed tomato. Vegetal and rooty in the mouth, tomato leaf again, a bit drying. On July 6, 2022, Tour Carnet brought together 280 researchers from around the world, as part of the Terclim Congress. This is a great recognition of the work done so far. The 14th International Terroir congress and the 2nd ClimWine symposium was organized jointly in Bordeaux from the 3 to 8 July 2022, webpage :

Two Gaillac wines for the summer. We have enjoyed over the year and visited property know the owners well so fyi. The chicest, Blanc Perlé 2021, Château Clément Termes Blanc Perlé is a specificity of Gaillac wines. During vinification, the carbon dioxide released during alcoholic fermentation is retained so that a pearl of lightness stimulates the palate at the time of tasting. This cuvée delicately displays a necklace of citrus fruits, exotic fruits and white flesh. His mouth has the evanescence of great evenings. Sparkling pearls, a pretty freshness balanced by a beautiful material, a last dance with fruity scents. A finery of two well-matched white grape varieties, Loin de l’Œil and Muscadelle, which will tactfully enhance your aperitifs by the water on Marennes oysters, shrimp skewers, falafels. The most cosmopolitan, Château Clément Termes 2019, Braucol, Duras, Syrah, Merlot, varietals with varied origins which join hands brilliantly, for a beautiful lesson in life… A maddening diversity of flavors of blackcurrant, raspberry, liquorice , black pepper. A successful blend with pleasant roundness, well-coated tannins, which drags on with notes of black cherries. A red wine that makes you want to go beyond our gastronomic borders with a lamb tagine with prunes, a Kobe beef tataki, a duck breast with spices from around the world. Webpage :

My recommendation for today is the Château Rollan de By 2015 ; Médoc, Cru Bourgeois, Bordeaux red , A successful vintage in the Médoc, this 2015 has also had time to settle down. Well integrated, the tannins have softened, contributing to the smoothness of the wine. A surge of red fruity aromas followed by roasted notes for this vintage to drink today. Webpage :

The thunder of Grain de Sail (we buy from them our Mexican coffees) They are coffee roasters, chocolatiers and wine carriers all in one ! The Breton company based in Morlaix has put the wind in its sails and the wine in its holds. Sometimes chocolate maker, coffee roaster and wine carrier by sailboat, nothing seems to stop Grain de Sail. Returning to Brittany with arms laden with coffee and chocolate from the other side of the world, all with a carbon footprint at the level of the daisies. It was the dream of Jacques and Olivier Barreau, two twin brothers from Brittany, at the origin of the Grain de Sail project. Today, in addition to bringing back cocoa and coffee from Latin American organic farming by sailboat, subsequently transformed in their optimized factories equipped with photovoltaic panels, they transport French wine, also organic to the United States. The Grain de Sail 2 sailboat will be 52 meters long and 11 meters wide, and will have a loading capacity of 350 tons, which represents around 180,000 bottles. This is 8 to 10 times greater than the capacity of their first cargo sailboat. In addition to having more storage capacities, it is faster and more economical. It’s simple, with Grain de Sail 2, they cut transport costs in half. It is modern technology that remains low-tech, because when it is too sophisticated, it is often also very complicated to manage. The first voyage aboard Grain de Sail 2 is scheduled for the first quarter of 2024. Last April, Heidsieck champagnes boarded the Grain de Sail sailboat, to reach New York on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the house. A crossing of the Atlantic in tribute to Charlie, the founder of the house, who was one of the first to sell his champagne in the United States by sending it by sail. The United States is one of the largest export markets for French wine and New York is in a way the gateway. The idea is to expand the distribution area on the East Coast afterward, with Boston, Vermont, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington, etc. The complete loop of a trip is three months with Grain de Sail 1 but on Grain de Sail 2, it will be done in about two months. The crossing between Saint-Malo and New York will last a fortnight instead of 25 ! Sail away and bring the best to France as well, as the best of France to the world ! Webpage :

The cellars of the Longueil grocery store, Maisons-Laffitte, Open since 1950 ,8 avenue de Longueil, Maisons-Laffitte Yvelines 78, We shopped here when living in Versailles superbe !! Sharing and discovery. Pleasure to meet with the winegrowers that we pass on to our customers. We have a very wide range of wines and spirits for neophytes and great wine lovers. Website :

For the fourth consecutive year, a small artisanal French brewery has won the prize for the best beer at the World Beer Awards, A dark beer from the confidential Cap d’Ona brewery, in the Pyrénées-Orientales. Brussels Beer Challenge, European Beer Star, World Beer Cup, and finally the World Beer Award in London, which has just awarded the prize for best dark beer in all categories to the Cap d’Ona brewery, a small family business located in Argelès-sur -Mer, for its Wood Aged Grand Cru , which is also awarded in the best barley-based beer category ,The three previous editions of the World Beer Award have also been particularly generous, with in 2019 the prize for the best beer of Belgian style, in 2020 the best rye beer, and finally in 2021 that of the best beer with spirits (awarded to their amazing chestnut rousse). This year, their blonde matured in barrels of grand cru Chardonnay, as well as their brown and their amber grand crus, competed. I need to try this beer not yet done, Webpage :

The Cazottes distillery, or an ode to eaux-de-vieIt is at Carlus, a few km from Gaillac, known for its production of solar wines that will make you finish the four irons in the air, that the charismatic Laurent Cazottes has taken up the torch of the small family farm. A kind of garden of Eden cultivating an English charm, where cereals, vines and oilseeds rub shoulders with expanses of pear trees and other juicy golden greengages. Lush orchards bending year-round under a blazing sun, whose thorny extension extends over nearly 1,000 meters of blackthorn bushes, elderberries, guigniers and other wild quince trees. The crystalline purity of its eaux-de-vie quickly enabled it to appear on the finest starred tables, starting with the celestial Tour d’Argent, and to grow its business by expanding its scope to the production of Tarn wines. and amazing new world juices. Among his finest successes, a liqueur in which 72 varieties of tomatoes are sown and then transplanted in the midst of herbs and plum trees, the names of which alone make up a symphony with soft oriental overtones: Golden Jubilee, Noire de Crimee, Rose de Berne, Merveilles des Marchés, Cornue des Andes… Picked when perfectly ripe, they are then sorted before being manually cut into quarters, then copiously drizzled with homemade grape eau-de-vie, so that the slow period of maceration. Endowed with a finesse on the edge of acidity, with bitters so sublime that one would almost forget the delicately carnivorous bite of the degrees, this marvel would make the greatest liqueurs pass for dark drops, and whose devastating effects prohibit for long hours to get back on the road…webpage :

There you go folks, another wine episode of my belle France! The wines of France that is, superbe, sublime, wonderful, gorgeous, enjoy without moderation but accompanying a meal, family table just perfect. See you in the vineyards of France.

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

August 26, 2022

Some news from France , CCCLXVII

It’s time again to tell you my latest rants about some news from France. An eventful post in my blog that I have enjoyed together with you for the last 12 years now!! And for those non Roman CCCLXVII is 367 , another dandy round of news of my belle France , of course, chosen by me; there are many others. We are in Summer ,and temps already back to normal range , cooler rainy so perfect for a glass of wine,,,anything, and we continue eating out in our veranda porch , grand! Hope you enjoy the post as I.

I have written posts on transports in and around Paris , however, the pricing and ticketing have change from these and the times of me working in the City, Let me give you an update from the official RATP.

If you want to o you want to visit Paris, and travel at will and in complete freedom in Île-de-France, then the Paris Visite Pass day pass is for you! This Pass is available for 1, 2, 3 or 5 consecutive days and is valid according to the formula chosen: In zones 1 to 3: trips to Paris and near suburbs, Zones 1 to 5 travel in Paris, inner suburbs & to Orly/CDG airports, Disneyland and Versailles, The Paris Visite Pass allows you unlimited travel on: metro lines, RER lines, Île-de-France bus lines (except on Fileo, Air France sightseeing tours and shuttles), Montmartre tramway and funicular. The validity, period goes from the first day at 0h to the last day at 24h. If your ticket becomes demagnetized, contact the agents present in the metro and RER stations who will replace it free of charge.

If you want to travel by metro, bus or tram and have a rechargeable pass? The Navigo Easy pass is made for you! Your Navigo Easy pass is valid for 10 years , The Navigo Easy pass is sold for 2 Euros and then offers more advantageous rates on t+ ticket books. You can load your Navigo Easy pass from the “Bonjour RATP” app. at all ticket offices and counters in stations and stations, at all ticket machines; at RATP approved retailers, At the time of validation, the control devices respect the following order of priority: First, the pass (when it is valid of course); Then, the ticket for a trip (t+/OrlyBus/RoissyBus, automatically detected depending on the mode of transport you use), It is not possible to travel with several people with a single Navigo Easy pass. Each traveler must have their own ticket.

If you want unlimited travel in Paris and Ile-de-France on all modes of transport (except Orlyval), then, as me the Navigo Month and Week passes are made for you. They exist in “all zones” or “two zones” You can travel on all modes of transport in Ile-de-France: metro, RER, bus, tram and train – with the exception of the Orlyval line, SNCF reservation lines and lines at special Optile rates. The “all zones” package gives you access to all zones, every day. The “2 zones” package allows you to travel in the chosen zones. I had the Navigo Month in all zones !!

The official RATP on the ticketing choices :

The museum of modern art has decided to definitively close the Eugène Leroy exhibition which was to be held until next Sunday August 28. Bad weather on August 16 caused electrical malfunctions preventing the smooth running of visits. The torrential rains that fell on the capital in mid-August got the better of the exhibition devoted to the French painter of the 20C sadly. During the heavy rains, the water seeped into the walls causing the lights to fail and slightly damaging the paint on the walls. The MAM does not rule out the closure of certain rooms of the permanent collections,. Work is underway to repair the electrical damage.webpage :

The Babyland amusement park has established itself as the leading leisure center in Essonne. Since its opening in 2008, the amusement park has continued to grow in number of rides and visitors. Babyland-Amiland amusement park is in Saint-Pierre-du-Perray (Essonne 91).webpage :

The Rock en Seine festival returns bigger than ever after two years of absence in the national domain of Saint-Cloud (Hauts-de-Seine 92) , It starts today Thursday, August 25 to August 30 2022, webpage :

If in France there are a total of 10,000 organs, until now there were only three in secular places. A fourth will soon be installed. And it is in Meaux (Seine-et-Marne 77) that it will happen. A town that already had five organs for 56,000 inhabitants. But all the others are in places of worship. A large organ almost 6 meters high and 5 meters wide, baptized Bach, is installed in the lower vaulted room of the Bossuet museum. Webpage :

The zoological park of Thoiry (Yvelines 78), has a new resident of size since this past Tuesday evening. It had been twenty years since a new pachyderm had been housed there. Ben, the only elephant at Thoiry Zoo , now has a new sibling. Moyo, 9, joined him on Tuesday evening after an exceptional and perilous operation lasting several hours. The young pachyderm arrived from Magdeburg in eastern Germany after traveling almost 1,000 km in a specially equipped container. He will now share an open-air roommate with his 42-year-old eldest. In the next few days Moyo will take possession of his new territory and meet Ben. They will be joined in a few weeks by a third male from Sweden. Work for the creation of a brand new “Terres d’Afrique” (African Lands) zone has begun. A house of 1,400 m2, with a territory of nearly 2 hectares, will see the light of day at the entrance to the safari. Educational nocturnal observation lodges will be created in this area, also allowing you to spend a night in the territory of the elephants.webpage :

This is great to see the story in the Le Parisien newspaper because I have been saying it for years ! People are so crazy about Paris they want to rent a hotel next to the Tour Eiffel and pay for it, You know ,Paris has an excellence public transports network, just saying, Nowdays, to find accommodation, tourists no longer hesitate to cross the ring road: “Paris is too expensive”,lol ! The tourists from France and Navarre are back in Paris! New fact on the other hand: it is no longer rare to see them in outlying districts or on the platforms of lines 8, 3, 12, 13, direction… the suburbs. This summer, small and large Parisian towns are full of tourists. Yes indeed just prefer the west of Paris areas and you will love it !!

And the upgrading of the public transport network continues , it needs to, New works at the Gare de Lyon: easier connections, but not for a few years sadly, Not always easy to find your way around when you go from RER A to other lines, or when you join your train from the metro. In order to simplify life for users, the principle of renovation has just been adopted by Île-de-France Mobilités. The project should be launched in early 2023 and last until 2029. Funny I have used the station and find it ok but then again others might have use it a lot more….

Each year, Le village préféré des Français or the favorite village of the French highlights charming villages hidden across France. Since its first edition in 2012, the France Télévisions program, presented by Stéphane Bern, has already crowned 11 towns. I have visited all except those in Alsace, 2012: Saint-Cirq-Lapopie (Midi-Pyrénées), 2013: Eguisheim (Alsace), 2014: Cordes-sur-Ciel (Midi-Pyrénées), 2015: Ploumanac’h (Brittany), 2016: Rochefort-en-Terre ( Brittany), 2017: Kaysersberg (Alsace), 2018: Cassel (Hauts-de-France), 2019: Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue (Normandy), 2020: Hunspach (Alsace), and 2021: Sancerre (Centre-Val de Loire), and 2022 : Bergheim (Alsace).

My belle France stretches on the sea side for 5850 km, including 2400 for the Atlantic coast alone, a few scuba diving spots on which beginners can discover the beauty of the fauna and flora at less than 20 meters deep. I love this my hobby in young men days but unfortunately nose breathing problems made me stop a few years back, These are spots I have been and seen, of course dove as was shallow waters last time in 2018, Marseille boasts over 70 dive sites. One spot is particularly resonant, that of Grand Congloué, an archaeological site of two ancient boats discovered in 1952 by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his Calypso team (remember him follow all over his adventures!). Thousands of amphorae and crockery are then brought ashore. In 2010, around 250 of these amphorae were submerged at a depth of 14 meters, allowing as many people as possible to feel the soul of an explorer, in the midst of damselfish and octopus. The underwater cliffs at Belle-Ile-en-Mer (my Morbihan 56), . The sites of Grands-Sables, Bordardoué and Port York, in Belle-Île-en-Mer, allow you to discover the banks of maërl (red limestone algae), flatfish living on the sand. In Port Puce, Deuborh, Bordéry, Penhoet, the creeks are the refuge of spider crabs and lobsters. Ster Vraz and Port Scheul have a relief as impressive as that of the surface: cut faults, caves, holes in the rock illuminated by the rays of the sun. The biodiversity in the bay of Brest (Finistère 29) ,In Brittany too there are seahorses, you just have to look carefully in the seagrass beds. The rocks are carpeted with sponges and colorful anemones and on the small sandy bottoms it is not uncommon to see several kinds of rays. As for the colorful nudibranchs, they are a delight for photographers. Be aware that the more colors these sea slugs have, the more toxic they are to their predators! Divers, fortunately, risk nothing by looking at them. The Les Sept-Iles and Ploumanach’ (Côtes d’Armor 22), visitors and divers alike enjoy this area around Ploumanac’h where a colony of gray seals lives. Sometimes lobsters, lobster and crabs show the tips of their shells. The beauty of a multicolored spectacle is ensured on the rocks by the gorgonians, sponges, anemones. To filter their food, spirographs spread their colored filaments in a crown around their mouth, like a crown that ripples in the current. Do not get too close, otherwise these turbicolous worms immediately retract into their tube. Some info on scuba diving in Bretagne/Brittany :

Alain Ducasse opens his new gourmet address, Le Biscuit! To revisit this delicacy, Alain Ducasse only surrounds himself with the best. In the kitchen we find the pastry chef Flora Davies, already present behind the succulent ice creams of the Manufacture de la Glace and the executive pastry chef Arnaud Coutret who joined the Ducasse Paris family almost a year ago. Each cookie will be prepared on site by the team with the ambition to create cookies with precise recipes, complex textures and strong flavors. I will be there eventually ! Le Biscuit Alain Ducasse 42 Rue de la Roquette 11éme opens September 1, 2022, webpage Ducasse :

There you go folks, another round of my some news from France coming to you freely by the road warrior of this blog. Hope you enjoy the post and do prepare for an eventful Summer! And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

August 26, 2022

A quick visit to Perpignan !

Again,getting to my vault found couple photos of my business trip to Perpignan a few years back, and why not have it in my blog for the memories and hopefully another longer visit in the future. Perpignan is in the Pyrénées-Orientales dept 66 in the region of Occitanie . Old Languedoc-Roussillon ,and the former continental capital of the Kingdom of Majorca, the city was annexed by the Kingdom of France in 1659.

The city of Perpignan is 13 km from the Mediterranean Sea at Canet-en-Roussillon by expressway, 25 km from the Spanish border at Le Perthus and 850 km from Paris, 205 km from Toulouse,  450 km from Bordeaux and Lyon, 320 km from Marseille, 470 km from Nice, and 160 km from Andorra la Vella, the capital of Andorra. Perpignan is especially marked by the impressive Canigou peak or Pic del Canigó at 2,784 meters located not far from the Franco-Spanish border and visible from the city center. The Albères range, which culminates at 1,256 meters at the Pic du Néoulous, forms a barrier to the south and marks the limit with Spain, a country with which it communicates easily at the Col du Perthus pass, whose altitude does not exceed 300 meters, about 30 km from the city.

Perpignan has a train station serve by TGVs, night Intercity trains and TERs from the Occitanie region. The TGVs connect Perpignan daily to Paris Gare de Lyon,(which took) Toulouse and Barcelona; The Spanish AVEs complete this service by high-speed trains, connecting the city every day to Lyon, Marseille, Barcelona and Madrid. I have to say I came here briefly by TGV train from Gare de Lyon in Paris for a two day conference. The bus network of Perpignan Méditerranée Métropole is called Sankéo: the new network is organized around three structuring lines A ,B and C. There is an airport Perpignan-Rivesaltes airport operates national and international flights, some of which are insured only during certain periods of the year mostly Summers.  The city is connected to Narbonne to the north and Barcelona to the south by the A9 highway/motorway which continues to Spain as the AP-7, which constitutes the backbone of the road network of the Mediterranean coast.

The city of Perpignan on the TGV train station :


A bit of history I like.

After the invasion by the Arabs, Pépin le Bref, then, later, Charlemagne, definitively reconquered the region around 811. It was then that the Carolingian era began and the construction of several villages on the Roussillon plain, notably Perpignan a few kms from Ruscino. The first mention of Perpignan appears in an act dated May 20, 927 by which a certain Aton sells, the alleux d’Anglars and Saleilles, with their Churches Saint-Jean and Saint-Etienne.Perpignan (villa Perpiniano). It was in the Middle Ages, from the end of the 10C, that Perpignan experienced its development. The castle was built there, a church consecrated in 1025, and a hospital, all placed under the patronage of Saint John. Nowadays, the church is called Saint-Jean-le-Vieux, it is next to the cathedral. The hospital has changed location: it is currently north of the city or Haut-Vernet, but regains its original name of Saint John Hospital. As for the castle, there are only a few buried rooms currently located under Cours Maintenon; at that time, the city did not have ramparts. In 1172, Count Girard II of Roussillon bequeathed his county to the Count of Barcelona , King Alfonso II of Aragon so that he did not fall into the hands of his half-brothers whom the popes Adrien IV and Alexander III had dismissed of the succession by declaring them adulterous. King Jacques Ier of Aragon, known as the Conqueror, made conquests towards the East of the kingdom of Aragon, thus propelling Perpignan at its peak during 68 years or about from 1276 to 1344.

In 1344, Perpignan lost its status as capital by the reintegration of the kingdom of Majorca in the crown of Aragon. Later, in 1493, king Charles VIII restored Roussillon and Cerdanya to the Catholic Kings of Spain, who had just founded the unity of Spain, by the marriage between Castile and Aragon. Perpignan was taken by the armies of king Louis XIII in 1642, it is annexed with the rest of Roussillon such as the historic provinces or villages of Roussillon, Conflent, Vallespir, Capcir, Cerdagne ,Haute-Cerdagne, (the other part , Basse-Cerdagne being in Catalonia, Spain) and that, Fenouillèdes from Occitanie into the kingdom of France by the treaty of the Pyrenees of 1659 (Spain and France even today current limits of the two countries). On April 10, 1660, Louis XIV entered Perpignan.

Today, only the Castillet, the palace of the kings of Majorca, barracks, undergrounds and part of the spared walls remain, which bear witness to the era of the greatness of Perpignan and its military installations. The tourist spot I was able to see was the Le Castillet, and Porte Notre-Dame gate, the old entrance to the ramparts ,now destroyed, was an old prison, and today there is a small Catalan museum of popular arts and traditions or Casa Pairal. It offers a permanent exhibition on major events and personalities that have marked the history of the city. Its collections are made up of objects linked to the popular arts and traditions of the Pyrénées-Orientales department. The fortification is considered an archaeological monument of the greatest importance for the history of the city, and constitutes a unique type of military architecture in its kind. It is more decorative with its crowning of battlements, consoles and turrets in Moorish style. Le Grand Castillet was built around 1368. The Grand Castillet is 31 meters long and the Petit Castillet eight meters. The height of the parapets of the aliening is 20 meters above the ground and that of the top of the turret is 29 meters. The thickness of the walls is 3.50 meters at the base, about 3 meters on the second floor and 2 meters on the third. A spiral staircase with a diameter of about 3 meters serves the Grand Castillet. A second spiral staircase was made in the thickness of the wall between the Grand and the Petit Castillet. They both allow access to the terrace. A nice place and full of history I like.

The city of Perpignan on the Castillet :

The city of Perpignan on the Casa Pairal :


Some of the other things to see here me think are:

The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Mediterranean Gothic style, its construction was started in 1324 by the second king of Majorca, Sanche, and it was consecrated only in 1509. The Saint-Jacques Church, dating from the 13C is the seat of the brotherhood of Sanch.. The Saint-Matthieu Church, this church preserves with fervor and devotion, the Holy Thorns of the Crown of Christ acquired by king Louis IX, the good King Saint Louis. A chapel is specially dedicated to the protection and veneration of the Holy Thorns, handed over by King Philip III the Bold to his death in 1285, at the palace of the kings of Majorca, near the Church of Saint Matthew the Old. Conservation and veneration are ensured by the brotherhood of Saintes Épines.(Holy thorns). The Haras military academy, on the initiative of the future Marshal de Mailly, acting for the king, was created to train young nobles in the service of the king in 1751. The tower of Château-Roussillon, built around the 13C. The Palace of the Kings of Majorca, a 14C fortress-palace, surrounded by gardens which overlook the city and the Roussillon plain.

Further things to see if time allows it are :The 14C and 17C City/ Town Hall. The Loge de Mer, former commercial and maritime jurisdiction 15C both forrm a remarkable ensemble of medieval times. The Arcades Aqueduct 12C- to 14C. The old fortifications of Perpignan. The Palais des Corts, built at the beginning of the 16C, now houses the headquarters of the Red Cross in the Pyrenées-Orientales. There is a market every day at Place Cassanyes , the biggest market in the city offers a wide choice of market garden produce, clothes and flea market. Also,Les Halles Vauban; covered market and food court offering a wide choice of food to eat in or take away. Perpignan is a flower town, and the city counts 29 garden/parks all over.

The city of Perpignan on its heritage

The Perpignan tourist office :

The Occitanie region tourist board on Perpignan

There you go folks, another dandy trip in my belle France! And now posted for my history and hoping you can make use of it as well.  Perpignan is pending a wider visit and in the meantime I will have my Castillet !!

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

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