Archive for October, 2022

October 28, 2022

The museums of Saint Nazaire! part II !!

So moving right alone in wonderful refreshing Saint Nazaire in the Loire Atlantique dept 44 of the Pays de la Loire region of my belle France. As said, we have been here before but skip for several years coming back until now. It was a wonderful family trip of memories pointing at the different places we were before with my dear late wife Martine and now found new ones and much nicer places to spent really a full weekend here. It is worth the detour I say.

Another one we came by during our walks in the harbor sea front was the Eco Museum or Ecomusée is a museum to be amazed at the incredible rise of this city that has in the 19C the fastest growing population in France, nicknamed “the little California breton” in reference to the American gold rush. Understand the importance of the privileged site of the city: mouth of the Loire estuary, gateway to the ocean, between Presqu’île de Guérande and the marshes of the Grande Brière To detail the models: famous ships, seaplanes, shipyard, old Saint-Nazaire etc.  The Ecomuseum of Saint-Nazaire is located on the Autonomous Port of Nantes-Saint-Nazaire facing Chantiers de l’Atlantique (Atlantic shipyards). It presents a permanent exhibition, and offers tours and workshops on the heritage and history of Saint-Nazaire.

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Well it does a good job on the memories of the Estuary retracing in over 550 m², the major themes of the history of Saint-Nazaire, from prehistory to the present day. The history of the port’s creation in the 19C and its development with the port and maritime professions are evoked by ship models and original illustrations. The major phases of the technical and human evolution of the naval and aeronautic industries in Saint-Nazaire are traced with the presentation of models of famous ships including Normandie (1935) and  France  (1962), models of the first Loire float planes from the 1930s. The pre-war city, then that of reconstruction with the history of its inhabitants are represented by archival films and unpublished documents. It also has a documentation center open to the public, including a photo library of 45,000 archival images on the naval and aeronautical industries, the history of the port and the city, specific works and documentary files on same themes. Possibility of consultation on site, only by appointment.

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The Saint Nazaire tourist office on the eco museumhttps://www.saint-nazaire-tourisme.uk/attractions-and-tours/attractions/ecomusee/

The Espadon (S637) is a thermal submarine of the French National Navy. Commissioned in 1960. With a crew of 7 officers and 60 men, the Espadon (Swordfish) was tasked with monitoring ocean areas and shipping lines. This one to come back for more.  In September 1961, the submarine collided with the Laubie. On August 13, 1963, a fire in the torpedo room injured four officers, one of whom later died of his injuries. In May 1964, the  Espadon (Swordfish) and  Marsouin (Porpoise) plunged under the ice of the Norwegian Sea in the 70th northern parallel. It was disarmed on September 11, 1985. For more than 20 years, the Espadon has been moored in the fortified lock of the Saint-Nazaire submarine base, after making its last dive on December 10, 1985 with 15 of its commanders among the original 16. The Swordfish is the first visitable submarine, having become a museum ship.

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The Saint Nazaire tourist office on the Espadonhttps://www.saint-nazaire-tourisme.uk/attractions-and-tours/attractions/submarine-espadon/

We continue our walks in the harbor and came upon a wonderful story which we knew but barely dug into its history. My dear late wife Martine taugh French to our sons since birth using among other things the Tintin books and films. They know it by memory and have all the collection now. We talk about it now in our souvenirs of their mother. So it was natural to stop by here and look for them. We found them!!! and we ate just nearby for lunch! So of course we will tell you a bit ok. Tintin d’accord… bien sûr!!!depuis Monsieur Hergé! My boys and boat with story of Tintin in Saint Nazaire!

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Remember (yes!!) in « Les Sept Boules de Cristal » or the seven crystal balls,Tintin, Milou(his dog companion!) and Captain Haddock travel to Saint-Nazaire, when the transatlantic port still exists. T hey’re looking for their friend, Professor Tournesol (sunflower). Bad bad guys kidnapped him. We must save the teacher…! Having set themselves the goal of perpetuating the memory of Tintin’s passage to Saint-Nazaire, the enthusiasts of the Association Les 7 Soleils (seven suns association) have installed, on the very places of history, six frescoes on enamelled metal. These panels reproduce vignettes from the album: to see Tintin and his companions walking the port of Saint-Nazaire, in the natural setting of the port landscape, creates a rather innovative mirror effect. The vignettes also revive a whole section of the history of Saint Nazaire which has never disappeared. Indeed, Hergé draws his heroes in the pre-war city, at a time when Saint-Nazaire was still the leader for Central America, with the scent of adventure and exoticism. Tintin and his companions have just left Moulinsart Castle, aboard Captain Haddock’s yellow Lincoln Zephyr. They will go from an imaginary place; but partly inspired by a real monument, Cheverny Castle (see post and tintin) to arrive in a real city: Saint-Nazaire. But this entrance to Saint-Nazaire is not the one they took because it did not exist at the time when they came there. This entrance was, in fact, opened during the reconstruction of the city. The Hôtel du Berry , which marks the beginning of Avenue de la République, (still hotel resto le Berry) was one of the very first buildings to rise on the ruins of the city, which was destroyed more than 85% by the WWII.

Coming from the north or the east, it was in fact through rue de Trignac,(as we came today in the suburb of same name) that, until the reconstruction of the city, one entered Saint-Nazaire, The beige car of Professor Tournesol ‘s captors was found in one of the harbour basins. But no trace of his dear Tryphon!  Disappointed that they had not found the trace of their friend, Tintin, Captain Haddock and Milou wandered the docks. They’re coming to the ferry station. Suddenly, Tintin rushes to a departing cruise liner. He has just seen General Alcazar who is about to embark to his country, the San Theodoros. By bringing  Tintin and his companions to Saint-NazaireHergé recalls this founding time for Saint-Nazaire such as the opening of the transatlantic cruise liners that contributed to the development of the city and its port and had the immediate consequence the establishment of shipbuilding yards. Captain Haddock, who unwisely sat on a bundle, is abducted with it. Hergé was inspired by a photo taken from a magazine to draw this scene. At 17 boulevard René Coty stands the former Hôtel Transatlantique, built in 1880. (today a high school institution)

The Saint Nazaire tourist office on the Tintin storyhttps://www.saint-nazaire-tourisme.uk/explore/discover-the-port/tintin-in-saint-nazaire/

The official fans Tintinomania of Tintin and the story in Saint Nazairehttps://tintinomania.com/tintin-saint-nazaire

And to close out our weekend in Saint Nazaire, well we ate there too. And again , we wanderers walking the harbor by the ecomusée I glance and took a look at a bistro and fell in love with the quantness of it so decided to go it,and as usual my olphatique nose did a 10!  We ate at the Le Bistro du Grand Pavois at 11 Place de la Rampe and corner with Avenue de la Vielle Ville. Located in front of the port and the Loire estuary, Le Bistrot du Grand Pavois offers dishes of artisanal quality from local products. Traditional cuisine without forgetting the bistro and pizzeria side in a warm and friendly atmosphere.  The reception, attention and service to customers is very good. The plates are beautiful, well done ,hearty and the food of very good quality. Fresh products really well cooked, a delight. We had a great time. This is walking across the commemorating tables on Tintin as above. No WiFi at that time, but the owner came out very nicely to hook me up with his !!  webpage : https://lebistrotdugrandpavois.fr/

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Some further references to help your trip here are:

The Loire Atlantique dept 44 tourist office on Saint Nazaire :https://tourisme-loireatlantique.com/selection/quoi-faire-a-saint-nazaire/

The pays de la Loire region tourist office on Saint Nazaire: https://www.atlantic-loire-valley.com/cities-and-urban-tourism/10-amazing-experiences-in-saint-nazaire

There you go folks, we’ll be back! A fitting end to a wonderful stay in Saint Nazaire, very surprising nice and up and coming destination on the west of France! Hope you enjoy the post as I

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

October 28, 2022

The museums of Saint Nazaire! part I !!

Let me tell you a bit more about some of the museums we saw in the Ville-Port harbor side of Saint Nazaire, in the Loire Atlantique dept 44 of the Pays de la Loire region of my belle France! It has been a while by here and all has change for the better, very nice vibrant moving town and friendly folks to tell you later. This will an update of an older post, Hope you enjoy the museums for now they are all worth it I say!

The Escal’Atlantic is an interpretation center on the history of ocean liners!  It includes a scenographic course covering 3,700 m2 built on three levels, and includes nearly 200 collectors items, from cruise ships built in Saint-Nazaire between the late 19C to the early 1960’s. Located in the old submarine base at the port of Saint-Nazaire, and opening in 2000 very poorly. In its new version, open since the summer of 2013 (after our last trip here) , this tourist and cultural equipment site combines a scenographic journey, inspired by the architecture of cruise ships, objects of remarkable collections and multimedia devices for an immersive visit to the world of ocean liners. The ships have strongly marked the history of the city, both transatlantic port of 1862 on the eve of   WWII, and a high place of shipbuilding. In 1862, the liner Louisiana left Saint-Nazaire to inaugurate the first regular line of the Transatlantic General Company, Saint-Nazaire-Veracruz in Mexico. From 1865, a second line was established, connecting Saint-Nazaire to Colon, on the isthmus of Panama, via Martinique. The WWII put an end to the transatlantic history of Saint-Nazaire. Before, the first ship that left the shipyard of Saint-Nazaire will be the Empress Eugenie, in 1865. The city will remain known as the cradle of giant transatlantic ships since almost all French transatlantic liners will have been built in  Saint-Nazaire  (Penhoët shipyards then Chantiers de l’Atlantique):  giants like Île-de-France  (1927), Normandie (1935)  or France (1962); the famous France of 1912, nicknamed “Versailles of the Atlantic”, or, around 1900, the series of regional or provincial line including the La Bretagne (1886), La Champagne (1886), La Savoie (1901), La Provence (1906) … Between 1862 and 2013, the shipyards of Saint-Nazaire built 121 steamers liners and cruisers, of which 36 for the General Transatlantic Company.  The city of Saint-Nazaire has about 4,000 pieces, gathered from 20 years and from ships built in its shipyards between 1900 and 1960. Decorative and graphic works, furniture, tableware, luggage, accessories and documents are what is probably the most important public collection on this theme in Europe. Nearly 200 objects in the collection are permanently integrated in Escal’Atlantic, for their aesthetic or artistic value, but especially for their value as witnesses to the voyages in cruise liner. A deposit of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris has enriched the collection of exceptional works, from a donation made by the heirs of Louis-René Vian in 2005. This great connoisseur, passionate about the liner Normandie, had gathered several hundreds of objects specially designed for the ship, and signed by the most important creators of the Art Deco period.

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These objects are accompanied by digital panels giving access to additional information about the object (manufacture, use on board, historical context, aesthetics, sociology .etc..). Throughout the course, interactive and multimedia devices allow the visitor to explore, if they wish, different levels of discovery. They can thus adapt their itinerary and their visiting time according to their own interests. Some devices come in the form of a game. Images from archives, photos and movies are presented as montages specially created for Escal’Atlantic. Some scenes (the departure, the open sea, the film session) have been fully recreated. Very nice indeed!

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The Saint Nazaire tourist office on the Escal’Atlantic museumhttps://www.saint-nazaire-tourisme.uk/attractions-and-tours/attractions/escalatlantic/

The Saint Nazaire tourist office on the transatlantic cruisershttps://www.saint-nazaire-tourisme.uk/attractions-and-tours/industrial-tours/shipyard/

And of course for us this was the must see. The submarine base of Saint-Nazaire is one of five bases built on the Atlantic coast during WWII by Nazi Germany that occupied France. It serves as home port to the 6. and 7 submarine fleet. Before the start of WWII the port of Saint-Nazaire was one of the largest on the French Atlantic coast.   The Nazis arrived in Saint-Nazaire in June 1940. The base is built instead on the turning basin of the Transatlantic General Company. With the expansion of the shelter, as far north and south, the wharves and buildings of the company will be destroyed.

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The work is done in several stages. They begin in February 1941, with the cells 6, 7 and 8. They are completed in June 1941. From July 1941 to January 1942, the cells 9 to 14 are built, then, between February to June 1942 it is the alveoli 1 to 5. Finally, from June to December 1943, the construction of an annex tower completed the construction work. Between late 1943 and early 1944, a protected lock was built in line with the base to allow access to the basin or estuary of the Loire. It is 155 meters long, 25 meters wide and 14 meters high and is equipped with four Flak cannons (anti-aircraft defense) on its roof. An armored bell at the eastern end protects the sea side access and crosses its firepower with a comparable work on the other side of the estuary. The dimensions of the base are 300 meters long, 130 meters wide and 18 meters high for an area of 39 000 m2 and a volume of concrete poured estimated at 480 000 m3. The thickness of the roof is about 8 meters, consisting of a thousand sheets of slabs and protections. There are 14 cells, numbered from 1 to 14 from north to south: cells 1 to 8 each constitute a refit basin 92 meters long by 11 meters wide, for a submarine; cells 9 to 14 are basins afloat, 62 meters long by 17 meters wide, for two submarines.   Two inter-boxes allow access to the upper floors of the base. They are located between cells 5/6 and 12/13. They correspond to the ends of the original plan of the shelter. Two fleets will be assigned to Saint-Nazaire, the 6th and 7th nazis submarine fleets. The neighborhood of the base has long been abandoned. That is why, in 1994, the town of Saint-Nazaire decided to launch the project “Port-Ville” or city port intended to rehabilitate the area of the base which is then a vast industrial wasteland. It is a lot different today for good and well worth the visit indeed! A must to see !

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The Saint Nazaire tourist office on the submarine basehttps://www.saint-nazaire-tourisme.uk/explore/discover-the-port/the-submarine-base-of-saint-nazaire/

Further references to help your visit are

The Loire Atlantique dept 44 tourist office on Saint Nazaire :https://tourisme-loireatlantique.com/selection/quoi-faire-a-saint-nazaire/

The pays de la Loire region tourist office on Saint Nazaire: https://www.atlantic-loire-valley.com/cities-and-urban-tourism/10-amazing-experiences-in-saint-nazaire

There you go folks, two wonderful places Escal’Atlantic and the Submarine Base that are worth indeed come to visit in details .Hope it has given you some ideas, it did to us and we were back again;after all we are only 1h30 from it !!!

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

October 28, 2022

Saint Nazaire, a City towards the sea !!

After a long period of absent and it was wonderful to be back to Saint Nazaire ! I came here with the family once and with so much to see ,went on to other areas nearby. For some reason, my sons had picked up a brochure on things to do in Saint Nazaire and we headed back there. It was very nice and really an off the beaten path city that needs to be visited more by all. Let me update this older post and in my own humble way give you some introduction on the city of Saint Nazaire , a City towards the sea !!

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Saint-Nazaire is in the Loire-Atlantique department 44, in the Pays de la Loire region. Before the creation of the Departments, Saint-Nazaire was under the jurisdiction of the Duchy of Brittany, then the Parliament of Brittany from 1532 (union of Brittany to France). On the religious level, Saint-Nazaire has been under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Nantes since the Middle Ages.  The city is the capital of shipbuilding in France, the Atlantic Shipyards of Saint-Nazaire are one of six sites in the world to build large ships of more than 300 meters.

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The city of Saint-Nazaire is located on the right bank of the Loire estuary , 50 km from Nantes. It is close to the marshes of the Brière, an important regional natural park with many animal and plant species, the second largest wetland in France after the Camargue. The neighboring towns are Pornichet , La Baule-Escoublac , Saint-André-des-Eaux, Saint-Joachim, Montoir-de-Bretagne, and Trignac and, also, Saint-Brevin-les-Pins. It has several beaches, such as those of Villès-Martin, Porcé, and especially those surrounding the seaside resort of Saint-Marc-sur-Mer.

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A bit of history I like

An important aspect of Saint-Nazaires history is that until the 19C, it was a modest rural and maritime site. The creation of the modern port and city in a few decades at the end of the 19C represented a major change not only locally, but regionally.  In the 6C, a text by Gregory of Tours mentions a basilica housing the relics of the martyr Nazarius. In this basilica, a gold harness as an offering was on display. It is said to have aroused the covetousness of the Breton leader Waroc’h II, who had an emissary sent to seize it. He smashed his skull on the lint of the door. By this miracle, Waroc’h, frightened, filled the church with gifts. The village took the name Sanctus Nazarius de Sinuario or simply Saint Nazaire. Saint-Nazaire was part, like the whole of Brittany, of the Breton kingdom, then of the Duchy of Brittany until 1532, the year of annexation to France. Until the French revolution, Saint-Nazaire was part of the region of Brittany.

In 1802, it was decided to build a roadway on the Portereau, a lighthouse, a mole, ponds and holds of construction. After a long wait, the mole was edified from 1828 to 1835. The city is built on the current location of the petit Maroc or little Morocco neighborhood. A new Saint-Nazaire was created during the reign of emperor Napoleon III, as an advanced port of Nantes on the Loire river , taking advantage of truces in the wars that had previously prevented its evolution. The large ships could no longer go up to Nantes, making it an alternate port. In 1856, the first basin of Saint-Nazaire, was dug by the embankment cove of the Halluard. This darse allowed the ships to dock and turn around. The installation of transatlantic postal lines to Central America in 1862 and the opening of the first shipyards began the industrialization of the city and the modernization of its port facilities, notably with the Scott yards (now gone).

In 1865, the Méan neighborhood near the Penhoet shipyards was detached from the town of Montoir-de-Bretagne to include it in   that of Saint-Nazaire. It is the first French shipyard to launch modern ships with metal hulls. In 1881, the inauguration of the second basin, Penhoet, allowed a larger number of ships to be anchored. This traffic is then governed by the postal convention which stipulates that half of the ships operated by the line’s dealer must be built in France. The old Saint-Nazaire, is thus cut by a lock, creating an artificial island called petit Maroc. During WWI   Saint Nazaire is the largest landing port for American troops, and it was here that Gen Pershing landed and told the famous words, Lafayette we are here ! . It was in Saint-Nazaire that the first contingents of soldiers landed. Between 1931 and 1932, the Joubert lock form was completed, a transformation necessary to accommodate the construction of the new flagship of the Transatlantic General Company, the liner Normandie.

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During WWII, in 1940, after the evacuation of Allied forces in June during Operation Ariel, marked by the RMS Lancastria tragedy, the port was quickly occupied by Kriegsmarine units (nazi navy). The site of the former shipyard of the Transatlantic General Company is selected for the construction of a submarine shelter, UBB for the nazis, i.e. U-Boat Bunker. Admiral Dunitz himself inaugurated the first three alveoli in June 1941 after barely four months of work. The shelter was constantly expanded to fourteen alveoli in 1943. In March 1942, Operation Chariot allowed a British commando to damage the form of Joubert in order to prevent the nazis battleships from being repaired there. The lock door closing the basin was destroyed during the raid thanks to the ship HMS Campbeltown, which served as a ram ship and was not repaired until after the war. In the weeks following the Normandy landings, nazi troops retreated to the area and created a resistance zone where fighting continued, known as the Pocket of Saint-Nazaire. The city was released three days after the Nazi surrender on May 11, 1945. Thus, Saint-Nazaire is the last city liberated from the Nazi yoke in EuropeSaint-Nazaire was rebuilt around the axis of the Avenue de la République, turning its back on the sea. The town was trying to refocus the city towards the port, including the redevelopment of the surroundings.

Things to see in Saint Nazaire are :

The Boulevard de Mer, along the beaches of Saint-Nazaire, Villès-Martin and Kerlédé for 3 km. Monuments and sites along the estuary and sea boulevard: Commando memorial, monument to the abolition of slavery, elevated factory, Commando Square, Lancastria memorial, American soldier’s stele overlooking the German eagle, Villès-Martin fisheries. The underwater base, its tourist facilities and the structures of the port: Joubert form. The theater, contemporary construction based on the remaining parts of the old railway station.  The short hiking tours along the beaches of Saint-Nazaire. The calvary of the Rochelles, the cross of Heinleix and the cross du Dernier (last).The Immaculate neighborhood, the landscaped park, with its body of water, Guindreff pond with pedestrian circuits. Dolmen des Trois Pierres, located in the center of Saint-Nazaire; Tumulus de Dissignac, located on the outskirts of the city. Around the port, especially around the submarine base, the Ville-Port project leaves an important place for culture and leisure, in fact it brings together: A multiplex cinema, museums but also bars and a current music room. The new theater was created in 2012 on the wasteland of the old passenger train station. But it also , the Ruban Bleu shopping center with about 40 shops and restaurants. The Escal’Atlantic, opened since 2000, renovated in 2012/2013. It is a route whose architecture is inspired by that of a transatlantic liner. Saint-Nazaire became a center for building ocean liners; the Queen Mary II was built here in 2003. The Espadon is a submarine of the French navy, disarmed in the 1980s. Today, it is installed in the advanced submarine base, a fortified lock located above the eastern entrance of the Saint-Nazaire basin, and is visited. The Saint-Nazaire ecomusée, located in the Petit Maroc district, opposite the Estuary, is an eco-museum, namely a museum dealing with a particular territory. It traces the history of Saint-Nazaire from prehistory to the present day. All within walking distance!

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The City of Saint Nazaire on the transports choices : https://www.saintnazaire.fr/demarches-et-infos-pratiques/infos-pratiques/transports

The Saint Nazaire tourist officehttps://www.saint-nazaire-tourisme.uk/

The Loire Atlantique dept 44 tourist office on Saint Nazaire : https://tourisme-loireatlantique.com/selection/quoi-faire-a-saint-nazaire/

The pays de la Loire region tourist office on Saint Nazairehttps://www.atlantic-loire-valley.com/cities-and-urban-tourism/10-amazing-experiences-in-saint-nazaire

And of course, still very much attach, the Bretagne region tourist office on Saint Nazaire :https://www.brittanytourism.com/destinations/the-10-destinations/brittany-loire-ocean/saint-nazaire/

There you go folks, something still off the beaten path but worth the detour. Another gem in my belle France. In the west is better, and Saint Nazaire is it.  Hope you enjoy the post as I,

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

October 27, 2022

Memories of Reims !!!

One of my favorite cities, region,and one of the first cities that I visit in France way back in 1990. It has become a fixture ever since with many family trips and even weekend getaways; even if lately from the Morbihan has not been so. It is a tender family story as my dear late wife Martine used to work picking grapes near here to save for schooling together with her other sisters and brothers who followed.  Reims is in the Department of the Marne No 51 in the region now of Grand Est old Champagne-Ardenne; east of Paris. I like to tell you about my memorable moment with the family that has remained very vivid. Of course, I have several other posts on Reims in my blog.fyi

One spot I always like to walk and marvel of its architecture and history is the Place Royale. In the center, was a monument dedicated to Louis XV .The royal statue was destroyed during the French revolution, then, replaced in 1818 by a bronze representing the king as a Roman emperor. Sublime walks of Reims and a new picture in the blog with another angle.

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Next, even if has closed a while back, it remained a favorite anecdote for the family. We/I rush in my road warrior ways into city center Reims looking for the Cathedral and it was past mid day. Knowing my adopted country things for eating would be scarse. Just by the corner facing the Notre Dame Cathedral I saw the restaurant Le Colibri and went in without any reservation. The welcome was awesome, and immediately found us a table by the piano in the back, which was already playing!!

The Le Colibri was at  12 rue Chanzy. As said, it has been closed for a while but nevertheless this blog is my life’s history and this place is part of it, memories forever.  Very cozy French traditional, and elegant. Our family love it. A pleasant setting, friendly and welcoming staff… Simple and smiling people, professionals to boot… A kitchen to die for, for me this experience was an explosion of flavors… Extremely good products presented and highlighted .. The reception was impeccable, the room decor and plates is relevant and pretty. Our meal was very pleasant,too bad it has closed. Again ,here for the memories of always.

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Reims Le Colibri resto may07 closed

My fav Yelp reviews still has a feature of the Le Colibri with pictures to enjoy again: https://www.yelp.com/biz/le-colibri-reims-2

For further references:

The city of Reims on its heritagehttps://www.reims.fr/la-ville-de-reims/reims-et-son-patrimoine

The official Reims tourist office: https://en.reims-tourisme.com/

The Champagne/Marne tourist office on Reims things to seehttps://www.tourisme-en-champagne.co.uk/sites-monuments#path=commune/REIMS

There you go folks, a dandy set of beautiful streets in wonderful sublime Reims! Travel is for memories of always and sometimes we are lucky to be back, I will, eventually. Hope you enjoy the post as I.  And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

October 27, 2022

The shopping center Topaze of Mersch !

Coming ,writing about Luxembourg brings back many memorable family trips, and makes me once again wanting to go back, which we will eventually. We like the country and road warrior it all over but initially started out on Luxembourg city, the capital. After a few trips we decided to venture out into the countryside and read a brochure about a shopping center so we went for a shopping spree in Mersch. This is an updated post with fresh text and links, Hope you enjoy the post as I.

One of the smallest but nicest countries in Europe, and one of our favorites. The fairy tale Duchy of Luxembourg, right smack in between Germany and France. It was not far from me and the autoroute /expressway got me there in four hours legal speed driving time. Now it is almost double far but we have visited anyway. Let me tell you a bit about the shopping center Topaze of Mersch !  We were in Luxembourg city wondering what to do next and saw a shopping center here, oooh well the wife got on and we came, simple as that…!  We drove north to Mersch, and here you have the shopping center Topaze ,and great bargains there too. But first let me tell you a bit about Mersch that we like for future visits.

Now we really came here for Topaze.  At Shopping Center Topaze located at Route de Colmar-Berg  easy access from the  N7 (where we were) or the autoroute A7 exit/Sortie N°5 Mierscherbierg. Here you can find more than 45 different brands on 2 floors .The Match supermarket The fitness center in upper floor . Free parking and gas/petro station very convinient. The stores we like were the Supermarché Match ,Pizza Hut, C&A , H&M( now gone) , and Mano shoes. We did some groceries, lunch atPizza Hut as well for the good old time’s sake! (see post)

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Mersch is located in the Alzette valley a tributary of the Sûre river, the town is located at the confluence of the Mamer and Eisch rivers . The geographical center of Luxembourg is located on the territory of the town!  The town has a train station ,but we have none of it, It is connected to the national road network by the national roads N7 and N8 as well as by the A7. Which roads are what we do here!  Some of the things to see here ,and worth the detour and return are : the castle erected by the first lord of Mersch, Theodoric, as a fortified castle in 1232. In 1603, during the disorder caused by the conflict between the King of Spain (who was also Duke of Luxembourg) and the Spanish Netherlands, the castle was burned down. At the end of the 17C, Count Jean Frédéric d’Autel had the castle rebuilt in its current state. The town became the owner of the castle in 1957. In 1988, it installed its administration there as city and canton hall. The Saint-Michel Church was built in the mid-19C in the neoclassical style and the frescoes in the choir date from 1936. There is ,also, the menhir of Reckingen.

The official Shopping Center Topaze: https://www.topaze.lu/

The city of Mersch on things to do and see: https://www.mersch.lu/sports-tourisme/brochures-touristiques-mersch

The Luxembourg country tourist office on Mersch: https://www.visitluxembourg.com/mersch

There you go folks, a nice ride and wonderful shopping and our favorite pizza chain can’t beat the ride. If you combine that with picturesque beautiful Mersch, Luxembourg than you are in for a treat. Hope you enjoy the post as I and do visit.

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

October 27, 2022

The Church St Alphonse of Luxembourg ville!

We love to visit here over the years. In our walking rounds we passed by this church several times and finally we pay a visit. A nice church and great memories of hurry up to go eat lunch afterward! Nice family anecdotes of always!! Let me update this pretty Church St Alphonse of Luxembourg ville for you and I.

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We have come here many times can’t count them , making the trip even for lunch from our beloved Versailles! And we have continue to stop by from our lovely Bretagne. It is a small country but full of charm, history and good things to see. Some of them unique!  Of course, I am talking about  Luxembourg. The city by the same name is awesome we fell in love with it in 1990 and it has not stop; do not know why, don’t ask me why it is just that magical when we set in at the Place d’Armes. I like to tell you a bit more on some of the off the beaten paths of it such as the Church St Alphonse!

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First of all, the Church Saint Alphonse embraces the English speaking community there and Mass is held in English. It has a wonderful organ with great music concerts as well. It is located in a nice area at Rue Beaumont, corner with rue des Capucins, by the Place du Théatre. 

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The Church Saint-Alphonse is interesting from an external point of view. Inside, a great sobriety reigns… Nevertheless, the impressive height of the nave is worth the peek! Note in passing the monumental organ as well as the various sculptures at the bottom of the right aisle. Saint Alphonse is easily remarkable for its great size, its lacrosse and his gesture of blessing with his left hand. He is accompanied by several saints: Clément, Gérard, Neumann and Onders. The stained-glass windows adorning the collateral, embedded in trefoil arches, are distinguished by their vivid colour. Finally, coming out on your left, do not miss to admire the icon of the Madonna with the child of Byzantine inspiration.

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The official Catholic parishes of Luxembourg on the Church St Alphonse :https://catholic.lu/history/

The city of Luxembourg on things to see:https://www.luxembourg-city.com/en/things-to-do/sights

The country of Luxembourg tourist office on Luxembourg ville:https://www.visitluxembourg.com/destinations/luxembourg-city

There you go folks, it is a nice area to walk and we love to do that, wonderful architecture, quant shops and restos, and always something unique to see like this Church Saint Alphonse of Luxembourg Ville. Hope you enjoy it as I.

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

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October 26, 2022

The Nomentano market of Rome !!!

Well this is a big missed; just lucky that browsing my usb on my vault of pictures found me one. How can I forget the market near our apartment when vacationing with the family in Rome ! Oh well, better late than never as the saying goes. Here is my take on the Nomentano market of Rome !!!

All this to say that entering the Nomentano Market is quite a different experience from wandering around the Sicilian stalls. Placed exactly in the center of Piazza Alessandria ,it seems to be literally embedded within it. We came by via Ancona to it, It is in fact an imposing Umbertine-style building built in 1926. However, it can be ruled out that this is the reason why there are decorative pediments on the outside of the building representing the famous Capitoline she-wolf who fed Romulus and Remus. The Nomentano was the first covered market in Rome. Certainly, it was the first to join, in the spring of 2016, a project of great structural and stylistic renewal called Mercati d’Autore with the aim of rediscovering and enhancing the cultural and social identity of the Roman market realities.

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Between the frame of Piazza Alessandria there is one of the oldest Roman neighborhood markets, the Nomentano Market, currently developed in a structure of the twenties, designed by the first female architect of Italy, Elena Luzzato, with splendid vertical windows in wrought iron that light up the whole interior. It is a metropolitan market, designed on a human scale, in this case tailored to the inhabitants of the neighborhood. The first market to have joined the Author Markets project, it has a well-furnished and comfortable foyer area and bookcrossing bookcases. After joining Mercati d’Autore, the beautiful market in Piazza Alessandria, in addition to being the historical commercial point of reference, with excellent products of excellent quality, has become a fixed stop for frequent visitors who, on break from studying or work, find refreshment and relaxation within the walls of this splendid market where it is possible to eat thanks to the presence of many street food activities. Sublime, great for the memories of always!!

For info it is located in Piazza Alessandria, formerly piazza Principe di Napoli, a few steps from Porta Pia, via Nomentana and corso d’Italia, it is the oldest local market of Municipio II, born for the needs of the Salario district and the Ministries present on the axis via XX Settembre /via Nomentana.(memory nudge by our apartment! see post)  Open Mondays to Saturdays from 7h to 15h.

The markets of Rome on the Nomentano market: http://marketsofrome.com/food-market/92-nomentano-market

The Rome tourist office on the Nomentano markethttps://www.turismoroma.it/en/places/mercato-rionale-di-piazza-alessandria

There you go folks, another dandy spot in eternal Rome! This was a delightful find and look forward to visit again,eventually. The Nomentano market is very good indeed; hope you get to see it too.

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

October 26, 2022

Some of my favorite restaurants of Bucharest !!!

I enjoy eating out and especially have lots of memories of eating out in my travels, This was no exception to my several trips to Bucharest, Romania, I have written the post before but need to update text and links as times move on and the memories remain, Therefore, let me tell you some of my culinary adventures in Bucharest. I am always looking forward to be back, eventually with still many of the friends who brought me to these restaurants as well.

The soul of Bucharest! The beer wagon or Caru cu bere ! the restaurant with old world decoration near the National Bank building of Romania. The restaurant building is neo gothic located at Stavropoleos street across from Calea Victoriel street the famous city center of Bucharest. Caru’ cu Bere is a bar and restaurant in the Lipscani district, opened in 1879 and moved to the current location, a gothic revival building in 1899. It is noted for its distinctive art nouveau interior decoration.   The sumptuous interior will dazzle you, as much by the many details of the decor as by the colors that emanate from it. Finally the food, a wide pannel of what can offer the culinary culture of Romania, really a good place to eat dishes of quality.

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The atmosphere in Caru cu Bere is really impressive, sometimes a bit noisy, but you get used to it very quickly. Attentive and busy servers swarm everywhere in an organization that must be exemplary in the face of the impressive number of customers. In the background, traditional music well dosed not to be embarrassing without being forgotten. The building consists of several places, the first is the terrace, under the ceapa (onions) and usturoi (garlic), it is still very obsolete in winter. Then, you enter the main room by passing an old drum door to arrive in the most magnificent restaurant that I could see! In the background, a period bar, with the beer brewed by the restaurant itself, balconies lining the bar, but it is necessary, before taking the view, to climb a magnificent wooden spiral staircase. Downstairs, the basement is landscaped but keeps the image of a cellar, and a magnificent collection of Borcan (jars).

The official Caru Cu Bere resto:https://www.carucubere.ro/en/

The 18 Lounge , at  3-5th Presei Libere Square,  City Gate South Tower, 18th floor, Bucharest. The 18 Lounge on top 18th floor of the Millenium building. It has a 15 meters long bar, and tables all around with wonderful views of the city and the lake Herastrau. No menu direct from carte. I remember having a wonderful leek soup,(and I am not into soups), and then pork spare ribs in a Romanian sauce (heavens!!) with Calsberg beer. Great business and romantic place packed with locals and visitors alike. The views alone are worth coming here!

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Definitely a place worth trying out, at least for the view, so make sure to make a reservation with a seat next to the window. Modern and stylish in decoration, 18 Lounge comes with seating for 180 guests inside and 60 on the rooftop terrace. So a larger part indoors, but with floor-to-ceiling windows the views are panoramic just about anywhere. The rooftop restaurant has a 15 meter long bar and order crafted signature cocktails made with local and fresh products. With a sophisticated yet friendly vibe, 18 Lounge is a great rooftop bar in Bucharest for a date or a nice night out with friends and family. Sometimes there is live music, and otherwise you can expect nice tunes out of the speakers. For dinner, reservations are highly recommended, and note that the 18 Lounge dress code is casual.

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The official 18Lounge resto :https://18lounge.ro/

La Placinte Moldavian cuisine restaurant with a wooden tray of pork kebaks, potatoes, salad, and compote or drain fruit drink of red fruits sweet and nice down with Ursus local beer was excellent.  Very nicely decorated Inside and nice friendly service.  I went to the Bd. Ion Mihalache, NR.96-98

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La Placinte is a chain of restaurants from the neighboring Republic of Moldova that has become quickly popular in Romania .. As soon as you enter this restaurant, situated in an upscale Bucharest neighborhood, you will notice the cozy atmosphere and helpful waiters, always with a smile on their face. If you like Romanian folk music and home-made food, you might become one of their regular clients. Apart from traditional Moldavian dishes, served in clay pots, their menu also features many delicious pies, filled with pumpkin, potato or cheese.  The place can get quite crowded at lunch time and and in the evening so it’s better to make a reservation.

The official La Placinte resto :https://laplacinte.ro/en/pages/restaurante/2

My Vatra Neamului restaurant was at DN1, str. Calea București, nr. 29, com. Balotești, jud.  The Restaurant is by Balostesti, past Otopeni the airport city, along the DN1 road. This is very much use as well for weddings and anniversaries by the locals, as it is very traditional Romanian in food and decoration. We had dinner in the poets’s  room as you have portraits of Romanian poets/writers going way back. Vatra Neamului, is a mix cuisine between ancient moldavian/romanian food, the food wich was served by our ancestors before us, and a trip to the time of Stefan the Great, Michael the Brave, and the unrivaled writer Mihai Eminescu.

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When they don’t have big events, the Vatra Neamului use only the floor halls. In the evening, from time to time, they also have music from various bands that come to play there.  The menu at Vatra Neamului  is Bessarabian, obviously! Similar to the Romanian cuisine, in general, and very hard with the Moldavian one, still evident.  The food is good and less of the Slavic and Balkan chefs, fat and heavy. The Pies, in particular, are highly appreciated, and I think they are one of the attractions of the Vatra Neamului. Especially since they’re being made in front of you, some housewives do a little job in a corner where they’ve arranged the plating, with the flour bags next door, the suciters and everything else.  The service is good, personal and the prices are normal.  The hearth of the Gentile Vatra Neamului is, therefore, one of the restaurants already known in Bucharest, among those with  Moldavian nationals. It’s going there especially when you have more time on hand and you’re not on the run. Wonderful find, enjoy it when you can.

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The official Vatra Neamului resto :https://www.vatraneamului.ro/

And last but not least they took me out of hotel, and went to the La Iancu restaurant just outside Bucharest in Otopeni where the airport is located, but a nice town. The service was very nice, and the food with the big veal steak fries and beers Tuborg was nice indeed.

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The official La Iancu restaurant : https://laiancu.ro/

There you go folks, another culinary trip of wonderful memorable Bucharest!  Always looking forward to be back. Enjoy it , bon appétit, and hopefully do visit them.

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

October 25, 2022

The getting around in Arras !

I found that I had pictures visiting some of the transport places in Arras and no post on that. As many folks do come to Arras especially for the military cemeteries around it I might as well give you a brief on coming and moving about in Arras! This is an updated post ; hope you enjoy it as I . For reference, Arras is located in the dept 62 of Pas de Calais in the region of Hauts-de-France. 

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Historically, Arras was under the Ancien Régime (monarchy) the capital of the province of Artois, a large religious center and a prosperous city known for its cloth manufacturing. The city is famous for its two magnificent baroque squares which form an architectural ensemble unique in the world, its Belfry and its Citadel, both classified as World Heritage by UNESCO. With 225 buildings protected as historical monuments, Arras is the city with the highest density of monuments in France.

The roads here are awesome and we love our road warrior rides on them. Take the A1 between Paris and Lille, the A26 merges in part with the European road E17 from Antwerp to Beaune via Lille and Reims. European route 15 or E15 is also an essential axis of Europe, connecting the United Kingdom to Spain. The junction between the A26 and the A1 near Arras constitutes an important interchange of this road. Arras is also at the center of a network of departmental and national roads, with among the most important, I will put the ones I have driven on and connections here: the departmental road D917 towards Bapaume, Péronne and Le Bourget in the south, Lens , Lille and Halluin to the north; the departmental road D950 towards Douai; the departmental road D939 towards Cambrai in the east, and Le Touquet in the west; the RN 25 towards Doullens and Amiens to the south. We usually travel by car on the A1 who has an important exchange with the A26 , and we do take the D 939 to visit family.

The city of Arras has a pdf file with paying parkings all over. My favorites have been the  Grand Place,  Palais St Vaast,  and  Pl de la  Madeleine. https://www.arras.fr/sites/default/files/images_de_test_a_supprimer/plan_parkings_gratuitpayant_2.pdf

The train service is plenty here with the most popular or in my opinion as never taken trains here are from Arras to Paris Nord (gare du nord): 50 minutes. To Marnes la Vallée Chessy (Disneyland) : 54 minutes. To the airport Roissy CDG : 40 minutes. To Nantes : 4h03 and to Rennes : 3h59. The train or Gare station is located at Place Maréchal Foch. 

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The regional TER Hauts de France region trains on Arras: https://www.ter.sncf.com/hauts-de-france/se-deplacer/gares/arras-87342014

The SNCF Gare d’Arras gare et connexions train station : https://www.garesetconnexions.sncf/fr/gare/frqrv/arras

The bus network Artis provides about 23 bus lines to cover the 46 towns of the territory including Arras. The Artis network can tell you about a night service , the one relevant is the Noctibus Sud serving city center Arras and the towns of Dainville, Achicourt, Agny, Beaurains, Tilloy-les-Mofflaines. In city center Arras the stops are Les Places ,Cité Nature, Théâtre and Gare(train station). The last two great for sightseeing in town.  Again disclaimer never taken it , here for information only, the network maps : https://www.bus-artis.fr/acceder-aux-plans

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The bikes or vélos function under the  V’électric network with about 32 km of bike lanes and about 200 points of picking and retrieving bikes. In the Artis bus network you find more info in the bus network webpage:  https://www.bus-artis.fr/location-courte-duree

The city of Arras is well service by taxi many and due to the military fields outside of town used often by visitors to take them there. I have no experience on any. I will put here those with webpages

Alliance taxis http://arras-taxi.wifeo.com/

Taxi Arras https://www.taxi-arras.com/

The City of Arras on its public transportshttps://www.arras.fr/fr/me-deplacer/circulation

The city of Arras on coming to the City: https://www.arras.fr/fr/me-deplacer/venir-arras

For additional reference, and see my other posts on Arras.

The Arras Pays d’Artois Tourist office in the Hôtel de ville, Place des Héros , the must see in Arrashttps://www.arraspaysdartois.com/visites-patrimoine/top-10-incontournables-visiter-arras/

The communauté urbaine d’Arras (CUA) or the urban community of Arras tells you of places of memory and fraternity to see as this is the metro area :  https://www.cu-arras.fr/tourisme-de-memoires/

There you go folks, now I feel better, with this brief introduction to coming and moving around in Arras. A lovely city worth the detour another gem in my belle France.

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

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October 25, 2022

Some news from Spain, CXXXIV

This is yours truly with another episode of  some news from Spain !!! thanks to you all. There is lots of things going on in my beloved Spain, and Fall is under way ! I am eagerly looking forward to be back to Spain too!! Let me tell you the latest tidbits of news chosen by yours truly, By the way CXXXIV is old Roman for 134, Enjoy it as Spain is everything under the Sun!

There are few days left for Halloween, the most terrifying holiday of the year that has become one of the most anticipated celebrations. Anyone looking for a different experience can opt to visit these abandoned towns in Spain full of history and the occasional ghost,,,,

The legend of Rodén el Viejo (province of Zaragoza), This Aragonese town suffered the consequences of the Spanish Civil War with the dismantling of most of the houses. Currently known as Rodén el Viejo (old) to differentiate it from the new one, Before its abandonment it was made up of about 80 houses that formed a crescent on the side of a hill crowned by a church. Today, the entire structure of its streets is maintained and you can walk among the ruins,

The Celtiberian past in Turruncun (La Rioja), This village in ruins in which they say that some other ghost haunts was annexed to the Riojan town of Arnedo. It is a mining area, so, at the time, it was built for workers to live there. Thanks to its location, you can not only visit Turruncún, but also, a few km away, you will find the Museum and Interpretation Center of the Contrebia Leucade archaeological site, of Celtiberian origin,

The Pueblo or town Museum of Granadilla (Càceres), Considered a town-museum, it is part of the Program for the Reconstruction of Abandoned Towns. Its main street, now rehabilitated, is made up of colorful houses. Despite the renovation work, the town in the province of Cáceres, which is not lacking in legends linked to the afterlife, has a multitude of structures that are still in ruins, which speak of its past.

On April 8, 1973, the master of 20C art died, working, in his home in the town of Mougins,  département 06 of Alpes-Maritimes,in the region of PACA or Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (France). Next year marks the 50th anniversary of this event, but the exhibitions that celebrate the so-called Picasso Year have already started. A year in which the artistic legacy of the author and the validity of his work are vindicated through 42 exhibitions and events in more than 38 institutions in Europe and the United States. 12 exhibitions in France, seven in the United States, two in Germany, another two in Switzerland and one in Monaco, Romania and Belgium respectively. In Spain, how could it be otherwise, the country that will host the largest number of exhibitions around his figure, no less than 16 exhibitions so varied in form and substance that they will allow art lovers to immerse themselves in the most avant-garde Picasso , in the most classic, in the potter, in the playboy, etc, I will tell you some of them below, enjoy them,

Pablo Picasso and the Dematerization of Sculpture, Fundación MAPFRE. From September 23, 2022 to January 8, 2023. At its headquarters on Paseo de Recoletos, Madrid, you can already enjoy an exhibition in which the sculptor Picasso becomes the protagonist along with his friend and colleague Julio González. The joint work of both artists has been considered by art historiography as the moment in which the “invention” of iron sculpture occurs and, therefore, the introduction of abstraction in the sculptural territory.

Picasso and Chanel. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum , Madrid, From October 11, 2022 to January 15, 2023, the Thyssen pays its personal tribute to the figure of Picasso through his relationship with another illustrious character of the 20th century, Coco Chanel. The show explores the relationship between these two great geniuses, once again merging art and fashion in an exhibition montage divided into four large sections that address Picasso’s artistic production and his influence on fashion from 1910 to 1930.

White Picasso in the Blue Memory, Museum of Fine Arts of A Coruña From March 23, 2023 to June 23, 2023. one of the main scenes of Picasso’s childhood, will pay his personal tribute to the artist with this exhibition. Through a hundred pieces, the exhibition will discuss the painter’s relationship with A Coruña and the crucial role that the city played in his artistic development.

Picasso, masterpieces from the Nahmad Collection, Royal Academy of San Fernando.,Madrid, From March 29, 2023 to July 2, 2023 This exhibition will be a unique opportunity to contemplate almost 30 paintings by the artist, from some of his early blue period to later ones. Many of them have not been seen in Spain until now, since they belong to the private collection of the Syrian businessman David Nahmad.

Picasso, Body and Matter.Museo Picasso de Màlaga from May 8, 2023 to September 10, 2023.The sculptor Picasso will be the protagonist of this exhibition in which the infinite plurality of styles that he used to sculpturally represent the human figure. Pieces in wood, bronze, iron, cement, steel or plaster that reflect the mastery and genius of the artist also in sculpture.

The Last Picasso (1963-1972), La Casa Encendida Madrid. From May 19, 2023 to September 17, 2023, the institution proposes in this exhibition a new reading of the last 10 years of Picasso’s creation, through the eyes of a contemporary artist, whose name is still unknown . Its objective will be to convert this exhibition into a synthesis, a testament and analysis of the possibilities for the future of this stage of Picasso,

Picasso – El Greco, Prado National Museum.,Madrid, From June 1, 2023 to September 30, 2023. The influence of El Greco’s work on the early stages of Picasso’s artistic career is indisputable. Those elongated figures of his blue period and the division of planes of his proto-cubist works would not have existed without the profound knowledge of him from the Greek master. an exhibition in which works by both geniuses are interspersed to understand and see, face to face, the clear influences of El Greco on the work of Picasso,

The Las Edades de Pablo or years of Pablo. Casa Natal Birthplace Museum -Màlaga. From June 13, 2023 to September 17, 2023, in the hometown of Picasso you can enjoy this chronological tour of the artist’s work through paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs made from his formative years until his last stage on the blue coast. The exhibition will be an opportunity to see, in situ, the technical and stylistic evolution of the genius from Malaga throughout his life.

Picasso vs Velàzquez, Casa Velazquez, Madrid. From September to November 2023, the version of Las Meninas that Picasso painted in 1957 is the starting point for this exhibition. Graphic works, photography, letters, audiovisual documents and some works created by renowned contemporary artists, will propose a poetic-aesthetic journey focused on the creation of the Malaga genius and its different variations.

Picasso, the Sacred and the Profane, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza , Madrid, From October 4, 2023 to January 14, 2024, This small-format exhibition will address, through 30 works, Picasso’s relationship with the themes and genres of art traditional. From history, religion or myths to his personal conception of portraits and still lifes. In this way, the rupture and transgression that the ‘Picassian’ style supposed with the conception and treatment of academic art will be analyzed.

Picasso 1906: The Great Transformation, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía ,Madrid, From November 2023 to March 4, 2024, 1906 was a decisive year in the artist’s career, at that time he began to reformulate his artistic experience by establishing synergies with cultures primitives. This exhibition will show us through drawings and sketchbooks what this “great transformation” of Picasso’s work was like.

You have a full year of Picasso, the artist before you. Very famous not my favorite, but enjoy it anyway.

The town of Buitrago de Lozoya was a fantasy trip when a child with my dear late mother Gladys and has continue throughout the years, Its a must to visit, Let me tell why , me think,

It is one of the most unique and best preserved medieval complexes in the Community of Madrid, possibly the most beautiful town on the Lozoya River and the place where a museum of the Malaga genius (Picasso) is hidden. A friendship that was born in exile and that would last until the end of his days. Pablo Picasso and his barber, Eugenio Arias, a resident of Buitrago de Lozoya, met in Vallauris, (Alpes Maritimes dept 06 of France) a small town on the riviera. The man from Malaga worked in a ceramics workshop and Arias had just opened a hairdressing salon. It was the year 1948. Both bullfighting, both communists, both exiles. For 25 years they forged a great friendship. Picasso would give the Madrid hairdresser a whole collection of drawings, engravings and writings. He would donate everything to his town, Buitrago de Lozoya. It is the history of the Picasso Museum that hides this spectacular walled town 70 km from Madrid city. On the eve of the Picasso Year, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of his death, it is appropriate to remember this unusual museum. The only one with almost all its pieces dedicated “To my friend Arias”. The only one whose works are all a gift. There are photographs, ceramics, graphic work… One of the jewels of the museum is the pyro-engraved box (with fire marks) decorated with bullfighting motifs that Picasso gave the barber to store his scissors and utensils some 70 works !

The town of Buitrago de Lozoya has a walled perimeter, which is preserved in its entirety, is built on an old caliphal fortress. It is more than 800 meters long, 9 meters high and more than 3 meters thick. Almost everything can be walked freely, except the Albarrana or Clock Tower, where visitors are asked for a 2-euro entrance fee. Atop this 16-meters high pentagonal structure is a display of gruesome medieval weapons, plus, sure enough, the guts of the clock. The Church of Santa María del Castillo, built on an old mosque, is another of the site’s jewels, although it was devastated during the Spanish Civil War. It does, however, preserve a fabulous Neo-Mudejar coffered ceiling that was restored in the 1980s thanks to the tenacity of a local priest. The castle was built in the 15C by the Mendozas. The Marquis of Santillana liked to spend a lot of time in Buitrago because here he met with fellow poet Juan de Mena. Another inhabitant of the fortress was Juana la Beltraneja, daughter of Enrique IV, whom the Mendozas protected behind those walls. The parade ground, today in ruins, was a bullring for 20 years. It has a snow well from which it is known that the ice was taken by donkey to Madrid for the San Isidro festivities. The enclosure also has a medieval garden. It is not surprising that the oldest and most historic Living Nativity Scene in the Community of Madrid is celebrated here at Christmas.

The Buitrago de Lozoya tourist office: https://turismo.buitrago.org/planos-y-guias-turisticas

From October 18 to November 6, 2022, the Teatros del Canal and several scenic spaces in the Comunidad de Madrid will host the 17th edition of the Suma Flamenca festival, which, like every year, will include the representation of numerous shows where leading figures of the current flamenco, This year’s program will feature the presence of artists such as Tomatito, Mayte Martín, Carmen Linares, Juan Carmona “Habichuela”, Patricia Guerrero, Capullo de Jerez and Carmen Cortés, among many others. As a prelude to Suma Flamenca, the cycle Suma Flamenca Joven (youth) is presented in the Sala Verde of the Teatros del Canal. An appointment that this year takes place from September 22 to 25, 2022 and that will include a sample of concert guitarists, singers and dancers under 30 years of age. The 2022 program will begin with the performance of flamenco guitarist Tomatito presenting his show De la Plaza Vieja a Santa Ana (from old square to St Anne square) in which he is accompanied by a group of musicians carefully selected for their affinity with the gypsy musical spirit to share that captivating rhythm and emotional power. For her part, the cantaora Carmen Linares (Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts 2022) premieres the concert Carmen Linares sings to Madrid with a repertoire of the most essential cantes she has sung in the city. A unique concert with which she wants to offer the Madrid public a great tribute to Madrid. The Teatros del Canal are the nerve center of the festival, although the programming will also take place in other spaces such as the Teatro de La Abadía, the Cuarta Pared venue, the Carlos III Royal Coliseum (El Escorial), the Pilar Miró Cultural Center, the Gilitos Sociocultural Center (Alcalá de Henares), the Paco Rabal Cultural Center, the Sierra Norte Regional Center for Humanities (La Cabrera), MIRA Theater (Pozuelo de Alarcón), the Royal Monastery of Santa María de El Paular (Rascafría) and the Theater Jaime Salom (Parla). For my part the Teatros del Canal webpage : https://www.teatroscanal.com/

And the Comunidad de Madrid on the Suma Flamenca festival :https://www.madrid.org/sumaflamenca/2022/index.html

There you go folks, another dandy tour of my beloved Spain ! As said Fall season is under way with all those shades and cool evenings to be cozy and homey again. Time to enjoy my dear 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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