Archive for ‘Europe’

January 19, 2021

Angers, an introduction!

So ,we came to Angers, after all my boss was born here and always mentioning. My travel curiosity took me there and it was great! Let me tell you a bit about Angers, updating/revising this post from 2015!

I just visited Angers, a city in the Maine-et-Loire dept 49 of the Pays de la Loire region. As said, came with the family for an introduction and like it.  Of course, I have other posts on Angers on the main sights with pictures ,see posts.

We , of course, went by car…, heading without paying tolls on the countryside for about 3 hrs driving from home to the parking in city center. We took the N165 to the beltway or péripherique around Nantes on the A844 and continue following all panels for Angers linking with the road D723 by Carquefou and onwards on the same road  again direction Angers  ,took briefly the D523 and then the D323 direction Angers/Paris until Angers centre ville and got up by the Parc République parking underneath the centre commercial Fleurs d’Eau on rue Plantagenêt. All day for 5,60€!

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Once we arrive out of parking we headed straight for the Château d’Angers, a wonderful building and a must see, plenty on it, we like the fact there is a restaurant inside! and the logis and chapel were recently renovated sparkling nice.

We continue to the magnificent Cathedral Saint Maurice a jewel of a Church and another must see there, do try to climb the montée Saint Maurice stairs lovely view up and down.

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We wandered about the town , just clean lovely, lively and young, full of life, very nice, the family like it.  Of course, they have the usual Galeries Lafayette, FNAC stores as well as France Loisirs at the Palace, and great tea/coffee place at La Feve d’Or, and the gourmand will love La Gourmandise even with Spanish nougats !!! 

It has a wonderful train/bus terminal very modern and clean. I end up stopping by here on my business travels as well, and as with the family show them where I go by, fun and good!

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We love the tour Saint Aubin or tower in city center old town, and the Church Notre Dame des Victoires, Not to mention take a look at the Church St Laud near the train station and castle. And of course, the galerie David d’Angers , and the museum of Beaux-Arts or fine arts. And see the grand théatre d’Angers wonderful at place du Ralliement.

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At place du Ralliement, we ate at superb Le Pub Ralliement with a meter of beer glass serving and wonderful pizzas, steak, and pasta. all with Cafe gourmand with sweets and coffee with a banana split for about 25,30 euros per person.

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The tourist office of Angers: https://www.tourisme.destination-angers.com/en

The city of Angers on heritage and things to see in French: http://www.angers.fr/vivre-a-angers/culture/index.html

You have a lot to see not to mention by the airport you have a wonderful old planes museum. and the nearby castles like Serrant and the vinyards of Anjou.  In all a wonderful time in nice Angers, which we will be back. And did, do enjoy the post as I.

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

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January 19, 2021

Le Mans, in the Sarthe!

And why not continue this wonderful nostalgic saga of updating my earlier posts in my blog. It has been awesome, and thanks to you for following along with me! Let me tell you about a wonderful city of Le Mans in the Sarthe dept 72 of the region of Pays de la Loire!

Ok so, after passing by it and briefly stopping there on several times, decided it was time to bring the family over for more closer look to this old fortified city of Le Mans. It was awesome!

I came by car, and it was about 3 hrs from me avoiding tolls which do not like if can avoided, why paid more taxes ::) We took off on the N24 towards Rennes and there connected with the N157 passing Vitré, then at Laval, gettting around the D900, briefly on the N162, and then theh D57 towards Le Mans that becomes the D357 and into the city by the place du pré and the free parking next to Church Notre Dame du Pré, that was closed for renovations. From here we walked all over the city.

We cross the Sarthe river, and turn right straight for city center, we walk along the river to see the Sol de la Place or arch of place St Hilaire, saw the Church Saint Benoit(12C) , and continue on to rue Gambetta towards place de la République.

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We saw the rénovations on the Chapelle de la Visitation (or church from 1634) , and all the wonderful stores there from a Monoprix, to a Galeries Lafayette,and a shopping passage du Commerce and to the side the mall or shopping center of Centre Jacobins with a C&A and FNAC stores amongst many. We continue visiting the Church Notre Dame de la Couture near the prefecture govt building and walk all the way to the train station that I have used on several ocassions but never time to venture out of it.

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We went to the Cinema Pathé , and the théatre des Quinconces, imposing buildings.

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It was time to eat, after passing several we finally decided to take on something new even for me, so we tried Le Capitole, rue des jacobins (see post).  It was ok just the service was a bit slow, we undertand as there was only one waiter for two floors. Otherwise all very good pizzas and ceasars salads, and tagliattoni pasta with cafe gourmand (with sweets) and a bottle of Chinon red  Domaine de la Perreire, excellent all for 21€ per person.

We passed by the Collégiale Saint Pierre la Cour, wonderful church originally here since 865, and renovated until 1834, now its a site of concerts and expositions, and events organise by the city, just to the left of the Cathedral.

We ,then, visited the jewel of the city the Cathedral Saint Julien, this is big and beautiful, so many wonderful chapels and the back of the altar is gorgeous, I am terrible of descriptions, rather give you the hint to visit ,its a must, fantastic Church, deserves more fame. Inside either the left or right nave has gorgeous chapels as well. The stained glass is wonderful and look up the Christ in wood arms raise at the altar, the chapel of the Virgin and musiciens angels, are gorgeous. A must to see if only reason to visit Le Mans.

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Not to mention the cité Plantagénet with its old wooden houses and quaint old Streets, and the ramparts well preserve.  After getting some goods supplies in breads and chocolates and terrine du mans. And we took the road from there to get back home in 3h15 hours. You can see a lot if well planned, and of course, we will be back, so much to see so little time. Having spent my college and thereafter marriage in Daytona Beach FL USA and the 24 hrs of Daytona ,Le Mans! has more in store and we did came back, see other posts in my blog!

The tourist office for Le Mans: https://www.lemans-tourisme.com/en/

The city of Le Mans on things to do and see ideas in French: https://www.lemans.fr/dynamique/des-idees-de-visite/

And there you go , hoping you enjoy the brief instroduction to Le Mans here as more elsewhere in my blog, especially the main monuments and museums. Enjoy it

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

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January 17, 2021

The trip: Poland and Brazil, Europe and America!

Now this was a round trip ! times were tight and needed to make the run Poland to Brazil and back to France! I like to update this post from 2017 in my blog with updated links and text same pictures. Hope you enjoy it as I did.

To say the least, it has been my worse logistically incredible trip ever. To say, been traveling for over 40 years since very young, and to all kinds of continents and countries, cities etc.  This one tops it all. Ok, I have read of others similar situations and maybe mine is not too bad after all, but for me, individual experience it was horrible.

The going was easy, my father took me to the train station in Auray and took there the TER train to Nantes changing trains in Redon for Nantes. At the train station of Nantes took the navette airport bus to the airport of Nantes.  This service I have to say taken it many times and it is wonderful at only 8,50€ the transfer (now is 9€). Arriving a day earlier to catch my very early flight to Krakow, Poland, I stayed in a familiar hotel the Escales Oceania hotel at Nantes airport ,very good deal and done it before nice place. It just across from airport nice easy walking.

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At Nantes Atlantique airport (NTE) took an Air France flight to Roissy CDG (Paris). The connection at CDG was done ok,and took my flight on Easyjet to Krakow Poland; all ok. This taking the easy CDGVAL train that goes from T1 to T3 at CDG and parking spaces as Roissypole train/bus  hub. Once in Krakow took a taxi to my hotel the Sheraton Grand Krakow.(part of the Marriott group)

For reference the Krakow airporthttp://www.krakowairport.pl/en/

And the Sheraton Grand Hotel Krakowhttps://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/krksi-sheraton-grand-krakow/

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As needed to go on towards Brazil, the flight at Krakow on an  Easyjet flight back to Roissy CDG ok. Then, took the LATAM airline flight to Sao Paulo airport at Guarulhos in Brazil. All ok so far.

The rides in familiar territory like Sao Paulo State was wonderful and the visit to some old and new places great again in pretty Brazil in country better indeed. The people,the food ,the natural sites are wonderful and even a lake beach; very popular with locals. I did venture again into the Minas Gerais State as well and the same wonderful experiences in old territories. See my many posts in the blog.

The problem was on the return home from Brazil.  I was to take a flight on LATAM from Sao Paulo Guarulhos airport to Roissy CDG (Paris) at 22h35 or 10:35 pm. This flight for operational reasons not well explained was postponed to leaving from 03h00 or 3am!!! I needed to wait at the Sao Paulo airport for 6 hrs!! too long for my tastes.

As this initial flight was delayed operationally as said, all other flights had to be postponed as well. I arrive at Roissy CDG airport at Saturday 19h10 or 7:10 pm; here had change of flights from the original leaving of 17h to one leaving at 21h35 or 9:35pm arriving at Nantes on Air France by 22h45 or 10:45pm.

A car rental on Europcar was to be waited for me with the keys at the train station of Nantes Mercure centre gare hotel as the normal hours of Europcar closed at 18h15!! A great service for a train station car rental agency!!! The hotel is next door literally attach to the train station!

Once all the paperwork was done with my travel agency.  Still at the Roissy CDG airport trying to get the flight to Nantes I received a call from an Europcar agent that they did not received a copy of my driving license for the car , therefore, could not be protected!!! Apparently, my travel agency did not confirm the copy of my driving license was sent or Europcar decided to rent out the car more profitably to someone else!!!

At that time, already almost 23h or 11 pm, calling the night service of my travel agency FMC, got a hold of an agent who told me all cars were taken as it was the Ascension weekend in France as well as Sunday been Mother’s Day here!!! (Sunday May 28th) lol!  The very same scenario tried to beat out on my taken earlier flights!

I took upon myself to stayed the night in Nantes and asked for a train ride back home on Sunday! So I booked myself the Hotel du Grand Monarque in Nantes right across from the Church of Saint Clément. Written several post on Nantes and its monument on my blog.

I took the hotel because saw it quant and small cozy in a nice good ambiance street of rue Maréchal Joffre. However it has not AC, no elevators/lifts and the room available was in the 4th floor which actually was the attic of the hotel! small don’t ask!!! Not recommended! The hotel has change ownership and is now the Hotel The Originals du Grand Monarque; webpage: http://inter-du-grand-monarque.findhotelnantes.com/en/

At least, I had time in the morning to go for lunch to my fix hub across the train station of Nantes in the Café des Plantes for a nice Andouille steak, café gourmand and nice cold grimbergen blonde beer. This is a busy place at lunch always but never a problem sitting down for lunch, see my post: and as many are closed now due to the virus the webpage is not working well, give you their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cafedesplantes/

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My return home was finally booked at the next available train Sunday 15h20 or 3:20pm from the train station of Nantes to Auray where again my old reliable father was waiting with my oldest son. I arrive at Auray at 16h44 and home by 17h30 Sunday May 28th!!! Mother’s Day restaurant had to wait for Monday….!

So there you have the adventures of  pedmar10 one of a kind for me; as the consolation, there is always a first lol!!! And then more! Enjoy the trip me tomorrow back to work ; but then another 3 day weekend forthcoming…..on my belle France!!!

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

January 17, 2021

The Rome antique, and its squares!!!

A while back after many trips solo to Italy decided to take the family to Rome as a starting point for Italy. It was a long two weeks memorable vacation which we all enjoy and now many souvenirs of that trip. Already with several posts in my blog, let me update the introduction to the Rome antique and its squares from August 2013 to you and hope you enjoy it as we did. This of course, in my black and white series counter. Therefore, as an introduction will be brief, plenty more on them in my blog and pictures.

Having traveled to many countries, and been to Italy many times, even Rome , but always on business trips. This time for our summer vacation we decided to attack as a family the eternal city. Much have been said of this wonderful city and its historical meaning, I will tell you what is today.

Even in Italian news programs there was talk of making the via fiori imperiali pedestrian, they tried tested this summer and they like it locals and visitors alike. So maybe something to do for the future on a permanent basis..But is was not to be.

The parking is chaotic, and the road clogged; and I know how to drive in big cities! The metro or subway is very limited even thus the B1 is in expansion construction and the new line C is ,also, under construction; badly needed. Finally, the line 3 was done in 2014.  The bus system is great but for the uninitiated can be complicated because they only post the end line and not the stops, so you need to go to the stop and read the places the bus goes, the online system ATAC is not user friendly either if compare to France or even Spain that I know very well too.

Last we went to the Antiques of Rome, the Colosseum, Foro Romano, and the Palatino, all classical places and known to many.

The colosseum is the great roman amphitheater  built during the Roman Empire and was inaugurated in the year 80. It was then used for performances of great popular appeal, such as hunts and gladiator combats. The first phase of construction of the Colosseum was financed with the proceeds of the plunder of the temple in Jerusalem by Vespasian in 72. His son and successor Titus, in 80, added the third and fourth row of seats .

The Roman Forum or Foro Romano, is indeed a grand event for walking this area alone. The Roman Forum was the old center of ancient Rome where, from the 5C BC to 5C AC, the most important monuments were built. The entire area of the Roman Forum is one of the biggest archeological sites in the world containing temples, buildings and monuments from the Republican era until today. Inside the Roman Forum you can admire the Arch of Settimio Severo, the Temple of Saturno, the Vestali’s house, the Mamertine Prison, the Temple of Antonino and Faustina and the Arch of Tito.

The palatine or Palatino area, great for walking along ancient monuments, This is a large archeological area located between Roman Forum and Circus Maximus. It contains the old Emperor residences, arches, temples and thermae. The legend says that Rome had its origins on this hill and, indeed, recent excavations have shown that people were living in the Palatine since 1000 BC. According to Roman tradition, the Palatine was the place where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf that nursed them keeping them alive in the “Cave of the Lupercale”, probably found in recent excavations, and for this reason on this hill was celebrated every year the festival of Lupercalia.

We , also, walk all over and really like the piazzas or squares of Rome! Coming to Rome ,one of the things I always heard and later briefly came were the wonderful squares there or piazzas in Italian. Therefore, i made it a point to visit as many as possible while there with the family. To remember them there are the piazza Cavour, Colonna, Spagna, Giavanni in laterano, Napoleone I, Navona, Popolo, Venezia, Santa Maria in Trasteverde, San Lorenzo in Lucina, and vittorio emanuele .

The piazza Cavour was very nice along the palace of justice and behind the castel sant angelo, with an imposing statue of Mr Cavour. Piazza Colonna is the center of it with nice old palazzos and buildings with the great galleria alberto sordi and many shopping areas.

Piazza di Spagna is the famous one of the steps, with great shops and history, Bernini’s fountain and the celebrated Spanish Steps rising up towards the Church of Trinità dei Monti. Home to English poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley, the world-famous piazza, located at the foot of the Pincio Hill, has always been considered both a priceless cultural gem as well as popular tourist attraction.

Piazza San Giovanni en Laterano is where the huge beautiful cathedral of Rome is located. Decorated in its center with an Egyptian obelisk in granite from the 14C BC that was at the place of the Grand Circus for a long time and now gives access to the Palace of Laterano.

Piazza Napoléone I, is right inside the Villa Borghese, at the mont of Pincus, offering a plunging view of the city towards the Piazza del Pololo to which it is link by stairs ,giving a wonderful panorama of the city. Of course, Napoléon could not be without one in Rome, he even name his son king of Rome!

Piazza Navona, is a wonderful one that we like a lot.  It is the most elegant and cheerful of all Roman piazzas, and we agree. It was built on the site of Stadium of Domitian in the 1C  A.D.  This is where Roman children received their gifts from the wise men by Jan 6th, and you should not missed seeing the Fountain of The Four Rivers and Church of Saint’Agnese in Agone.

Piazza del Popolo, is a huge square with three roads coming into it , the Via del Corso was our entry point into it always. Once there you will the writing by Bernini  over the northern gate, Porta del Popolo, (the former Porta Flaminio) “Felice faustoque ingressini MDCLV” “For a happy and blessed entrance”; a message left for Queen Christina on her arrival in Rome following her conversion to Roman Catholicism. In the piazza there are the twin Churches of Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria di Montesanto, with the  obelisk at center  (known as the Oblisco Flaminio) which is the oldest and second tallest in Rome and the two Valadier fountains, also, see the wonderful Church of Santa Maria del Popolo ,built on the burial site of Emperor Nero.

Piazza Venezia, is very popular with filmgoers, and it has the impressive   The square is of course dominated by the overpowering “Altare della Patria” (Altar of the Fatherland) a monument to honour Victor Emanuel II, unified Italy’s first king.  You will see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Incorporated in the massive pure white marble structure, which was built between 1885 and 1905, it serves to honour and remember every soldier who lost his life during WWI and who remains unidentified. From here Mussolini used to make his speeches. After much work to preserve the character of this square , Palazzo Venezia,and  Palazzo Bonaparte where Napoleon’s mother, Letizia Ramolino once lived until her death in 1818.

Piazza Santa Maria in Trasteverde, located in the popular district and on the spot of the beautiful church basilica of Santa Maria in Trasteverde; its sparkling 15C fountain, said to be the work of Bramante, 17C Palazzo San Callisto, and glittering gold mosaics of the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trasteverde, while in the evening it is transformed into a lively meeting place for night-lifers, with the restaurants and bars’ tables overrunning the paving and all and sundry soaking up the atmosphere on the steps of the fountain.

Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina, a very nice fashionable area today. As it said churches started from private homes that allowed worshiped on them this is what is thought of the one here ,church of San Lorenzo in Lucina (b. 4-5C  A.D.). It was dedicated to St. Lawrence the Martyr as late as in the 12C, when some relics (including the alleged grid-iron of the saint’s martyrdom) were placed here. The tourist office will ask you ,who is Lucina? Tradition has it she was a rich pious Roman matron, owner of the original home on which the church is built. However given Lucina was an epithet for Juno, the Roman Goddess of heaven and also protector of Roman women, it is feasible that the church may at one time have been a temple, a shrine dedicated to her. Nice story , I buy it lol!

Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, this is a huge square, also known as Piazza Vittorio,in the Esquilino Rione. Surrounded by palazzi with large porticoes of nineteenth-century style, the square was created by Gaetano Koch shortly after the transfer of the capital of Italy from Florence to Rome in 1871. With nearly 10,000 square feet in addition to St. Peter’s square, the largest square in Rome (316 x 174 m). In the middle of the square umbertino style emerged spontaneously since the late 1800s, with large blocks of flats that the recingevano, a large open-air market, especially of food but not only. The food stalls were placed daily, from sunrise to two long sides of the large garden. The market remained in business until the 1990s, much frequented by the Romans for the convenience of prices, and also by tourists hunting for folklore. The Nuovo Mercato Esquilino reflects the multi-ethnic characteristics undertaken in recent decades by the square, and  a strong foreign pressure, both in personal goods. In the middle of the square there is a garden that shows the remains of the nymphaeum of Alexander, and the so-called magic door, the entrance to Villa Palombara, residence of the Alchemist Massimiliano Palombara.

Some webpages to help plan your trip here as usual from me are

The official tourist office of Romehttp://www.turismoroma.it/?lang=en

And, Archeoroma a nice cultural historical sights of Rome:https://www.archeoroma.org/sites/

You can be sure a trip to Rome will make your money’s worth! We will be back, for now hope you enjoy the post as I do.

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

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January 16, 2021

Vannes, the gateway to the Gulf of Morbihan!!!

Indeed, it is the gateway to the Gulf of Morbihan and more! Vannes is our capital city and I need to update this post from 2013 with links and text on my black and white series as sights and pictures are elsewhere in my blog already. Hope you enjoy the reading and do stop by when possible. 

It was another excuse to go where I work, and have it as a holiday lol! I am really on vacation but always the last minute road warrior.  Yesterday, we needed to do some errands and shop, so I gather my father and boys and drag along the streets and stores of Vannes.  Its a magical city full of shops and restos all over, and yesterday it was vibrantly full. A nice summer day with temps in the 28°C and sunny. We drove by car of course, and went thru the back door on blvd de la paix, got on rue de la fontaine and found parking on the street payable but for 2 euros spent 6 hrs! And as everything is nearby on foot is heaven.

Again, Vannes means Gwened if use the Breton language as Morbihan is small sea, mor=sea bihan=small, in French, petite mer; and you are welcome to my region, Degemer Mat !!

We went to the Church of St Patern (see post), is the second most popular after the Cathedral and it is gorgeous as well. In a very quaint old city side full of shops and restos, where we ate too. The church is in the St Patern neightborhood and was name after the first bishop of Vannes in the 5C.  The church was destroyed by Norman invasion in the 10C,and rebuilt in 1723. To visit and walk around its neighborhood is a delight that I recommend.

We wandered all over the side streets,like Méné, pl des lices,de la Fontaine,de halles, Francis Decker, and the ramparts with the old castle ruins still visible plus a look at the entrance to the chateau de l’Hermine , 5 rue porte de poterne (see post). We did some shopping in the covered market by pl des lices, and visit la Belle Illoise, La Trinitaine , the ice cream gourmand Alain Chartier, Monoprix store in pl jacques le Brix, la huche à pains bakery, and a brief visit to the museum of history and archeology at Chateau Gaillard. (see post).

Got a nice shot of my regional government building or Préfecture du Morbihan, this is the official one, that is for govt employees and official functions, there is another one where the citizens go in for our daily routine as driver’s license,voting,etc. at pl de la République. .

Did I said, we ate, yes at the St Patern neighborhood and a wonderful find; Le Gavroche, (see post) a traditional French restaurant with terrrace in the back, with friendly Breton welcome of a brandy of rum and honey for free as a digestif! It is at 17 rue de la Fontaine, and we had steaks with cook vegetables, potatoes, grimbergen beers for five, coffee for five, and desserts from créme brulée to ice creams of many sorts all for 19 euros per person. 

Boys did go and shop at Empire Games  (now closed memories only) a sort of star wars scenes of games and figurines, t-shits etc. ; all chic and different by pl des lices; very nice friendly service. Another store Japanim is by 14 Bis Rue Emile Burgault  that offers lots of mangas, dvd, cups, etc of the japanese genre of games and movies. My son’s favorite !

We did our usual majestic drive by the porte de Poterne into the remparts to inner city that is always magical  going thru there.  And,of course see the old fortifications and the tour du Connétable majestic rising over the remparts gardens. (see post).

In Vannes ,we did our grocery shopping at E Leclerc with my sons and had a between meal meal at a nice cafeteria  we have seen and now was the time to try it. Le Vénélis cafeteria grill (this is closed and is now Flunch cafeteria which we have tried too)  is very friendly smiling staff, and great food at wonderful prices. We had boeuf bourguignone, spaghetti meatballs for some, and breast of duck for others, with a bottle of beaujolais nouveau red, bottle water Evian, sodas such as fanta and coca cola , desserts from natural fruits including kiwis, to passion fruit desserts, and coffee expresso for less than 18 euros per person.

In late afternoon we continue our walks passing by some of our favorite stores and streets such as 

La Belle Illoise, fish canning local ,wonderful; 31 place des lices, La Trinitaine, cookies biscuits ,breton sweets, deco, souvenirs,and fish canning too, glorious at 19 place des lices. Alain Chartier chocolatier and glacier ,ice creams gourmands, mâitre chocolatier de France at 25 place des lices, and also a school of cooking desserts. Monoprix, discount dept store at place Joseph le Brix. La Huche à Pains, the best bakery at 23 Place des Lices. 

And we move on for late dinner at Villa Valencia. 3 Rue Bienheureux Pierre René Rogues ,where I had my filet mignon pork in a wok oriental style, and the kids had their pizzas , a bottle of Charles Pain, Chinon red wine , banana splits desserts and coffee for 24 euros per person.

We went home but next day came back to Vannes so will put it together here. We stop by Le Port for lunch at one of our favorite places, A l’aise  Breizh Café on top of the Capitanerie du port (harbormaster). We had our mussels =moules with the local guimennée sausages and fries, with  kouign–amannbreton sweet with a ball of apple ice cream ,and banana splits, plus a bottle of muscadet from Sauvion, for less than 22 euros per person.

Again with the boys we needed to stop at Japanim, japanese cartoon,mangas the works from Japan, at 14 Bis Rue Emile Burgault for more mangas books! We passed by the quant nice covered market or marché couvert des lices at pl des lices. We did some tablecloths shopping at La Tapenalgue, 23 Rue des Halles , wonderful gifts of Brittany and foods items locally done. The store is in the old section very nice quant area to walk too, our favorite. Now own by Aux Mille Délices of Lorient. Even if now closed we stop by our favorite shopping store  Michel Loizeau was at pl Henri IV , the house dates from the 15C! Here we had our Breton winter clothing, bags ,umbrellas,and belts of the finest local quality. 

Through the meandering hilly cobblestone streets of old Vannes we love to walk it ,however, if feeling tired , we never but, dont forget the petit train, or little train that can take you past these places to get a general feel of the city if time is short, of course, walking is best.

We decided to try a different eating place this time for dinner, and having passed by the pizzeria, we took the plunge into .It was a wonderful discovery as the service was fast and friendly, the food was excellent and with big portions, the place was full of local folks most with families. This Pizzeria Don Camillo at 20 rue du port, by the Le Port area across from the canal and the tourist office. We like it so much came back second time same week, once we like something ,we are very hard to let go, the couple owners are a delight and fun to speak with regulars of many years ,who even come to sample the wines that will be serve on the menu book! This time it was a chardonnay from the Languedoc area, but we stuck with our Rosé of the Côtes de Provence, les Diamantines of Domaine de l’Estan , very inexpensive and delicious rosé for about 11€ the bottle.  We had  pizzas in mediterrannée with chorizos, and goat cheese samplers, with cafe gourmand, the expresso coffee with four different small portions of sweet from tiramisu, mousse au chocolat, apple pie, and babba rhum cake, and the beforemention bottle of rose wine all for less than 19 euros per person!

And we came home again, as usual by now a regular routine in my Vannes from to Pluvigner. You will love it at Vannes,capital city of the Morbihan in my lovely Bretagne and my belle France. Hope you enjoy the walks!

The Gulf of Morbihan tourist office on Vannes: https://www.golfedumorbihan.bzh/explorer-vannes/decouvrir-vannes/golfe-morbihan/vannes/

The Morbihan dept 56 tourist office on Vannes: http://www.morbihan-tourism.co.uk/home/discover/morbihan/the-main-destinations/vannes

The city of Vannes on tourism in English: http://en.mairie-vannes.fr/

Now I feel better, all done and pretty , waiting for you to visit when possible of course. Vannes is worth it, one of the best jewels of Bretagne. Hope you enjoy the post as I

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

January 15, 2021

The Tour Solidor at Saint Malo!

Again reviewing old posts to update/revise text/links , I have come across many sights not really mentioned in those posts or briefly. They deserve more , so therefore, here is my take on the Tour Solidor or tower in Saint Malo! This is in Ille et Vilaine dept 35 of my lovely Bretagne in my belle France!

The Tour Solidor (tower) is located at the mouth of the Rance, in the district of Saint-Servan and was built in 1382 by Duke Jean IV of Brittany in order to control the city of Saint-Malo. At a time when the city of Saint-Malo was rebellious to his authority. In particular, taxes should be levied on the goods transported. Its name is derived from steir and dor which in Breton means “door of the river”.

The Solidor tower was built on an already fortified site, the Tour d’Oreigle, also called Tour Aiquin and which included a small châtelet, transformed into a guardhouse of the new ensemble and a fortified enclosure, itself built on Gallo fortifications. Roman dating from the 4C which defended the ancient port of the city of Alet and of which vestiges remain in the current entrance bastion. It is possible to spot at low tide, the remains of a stone causeway which led to the Gallo-Roman port, the sea level being 8 meters lower than today.  This tower is the combination of three circular towers connected to each other by small curtains, the whole forming a triangle whose width is about 14 meters and the length about 20 meters. The base of the west tower at about 9 meters in diameter is reinforced by three massive buttresses. About 22 meters high , the tower consists of four floored levels, served by a spiral staircase of 104 steps. Its top has a beautiful belt of machicolations.

st-malo-tour-solidor-aug12

In 1588, the local folks or Malouins seized the tower on behalf of the Duke of Mercœur, leader of the League of Brittany. It was only guarded by five or six men. A captain was installed there in 1590 with three soldiers, a maid and two watch dogs. The soldiers occupied it for a long time in order to watch the estuary in order to block trade between Saint-Malo and Dinan.  In 1636, Louis XIII ordered repairs to be made there. In 1694, the guard of the tower was entrusted to the inhabitants of Saint-Servan. In 1756, the drawbridge at the entrance was replaced by a stone bridge. The history and evolution of military technologies having rendered its initial use obsolete, the tower was transformed into a prison during the French revolution and then as a warehouse under the Empire. Priests, nuns and soldiers were locked up there. Graffiti can still be seen on the interior doors which closed the cells. In 1886, the Ministry of the Navy ceded it to the administration of Historical Monuments. The current appearance of the tower is a little different from the one it had at the beginning of the 20C, in fact only the tower remains as a building. and the guardhouse.

A cross resides at the foot of the Solidor tower. It was erected in 1985 on the rock where Jacques Cartier cast off for Canada in 1534.

The Saint Malo tourist office on the tour Solidor in French: https://www.st-malo.com/tourisme/art-culture/tour-solidor/

Since 1970 it has housed a Cape Horners museum which brings together the collections of the Saint-Malo museum on long-distance navigation and Cape Horners (maps, models, navigation instruments …) A wooden weather vane in the shape of an albatross was donated by the Chilean section of the Amicale internationale des Cap-Horniers in 2003. The collections of objects and on-board instruments belonging to the sailors, the nautical charts from the end of the 19C to the beginning of the 20C will be exhibited at the Maritime History Museum of Saint-Malo (Opening scheduled for early April 2022). You will therefore be able to relive the history of sailors around the world by passing through Cape Horn.

The Amicale Internationale des Cap-Horniers webpage: http://www.cap-horniers.fr/CHLC/Welcome.html

The musée d’histoire maritime of Saint Malo from the city how it will look like: https://www.ville-saint-malo.fr/albums/le-musee-dhistoire-maritime-de-saint-malo/

From the Solidor tower , a passenger and vehicle ferry regularly crossed the Rance towards Dinard, before the Rance dam was put into service in 1967. The Rance tidal power plant draws its energy from the force of the river tide. It is located in the Rance estuary, between the towns of La Richardais and Saint-Malo, With an installed capacity of 240 MW, it remained the largest tidal power plant in the world for 45 years, from its commissioning in 1966 until August 4, 2011. The departmental road 168 passes over the dam and allows vehicles to link Dinard to Saint-Malo. The dam houses the Discovery museum of the Rance tidal power plant. The Saint-Malo museum has a pastel by Henri Arondel representing the Solidor tower, in its collections.

The Saint Malo tourist office on the Rance Dam in English:https://www.saint-malo-tourisme.co.uk/explore/on-and-in-the-water/the-river-rance

More from the electricity company of France, EDF in English: https://www.edf.fr/en/the-edf-group/industrial-provider/renewable-energies/marine-energy/tidal-power

There you go folks another dandy in my beautiful Bretagne and wonderful Saint Malo. Hope you enjoy as I did catching up with this marvel, the Tour Solidor.

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

January 15, 2021

Brussels , and the family!

I have been coming here since 1991, business and pleasure. This is Brussels, one of my favorite cities in Europe. This is an update, refresh link post from 2012 and of course plenty more in my blog on it too. Its a whimsical city, holding the main of the European Union. Let me tell you a bit more on Brussels, Belgium!

At first, the trips were short, but this time took the advantage of a vacation period between Christmas and New Years to go for a week with the family and go all over the city , Brussels, Bruxelles is magical. See my posts on the many sights below.

You have many nationalities here, and English is well spoken too. The trip started by car from our new home in the Morbihan breton dept 56. Before, I have gone from Versailles and then by train from Auray thru Brussels Midi and then rent a car there. This time went by car from  Brec’h, where we lived ,taking the expressway N165, then  N166 to Rennes, briefly on the N24 around Rennes to connect with the  A84, N175,A13 (autoroute de Normandie), and then cut across northern France on the A29, A28, back on A29, A16 briefly, A29 again (E44 European road system), then got on the A1 by TGV Peronne , (E19 European road system), A2 by known family territory of Cambrai, then get into Belgium in the A7,and get on the RO or Ring road of Brussels to exit No 13 or the road N8 at Chaussée de Ninove (where I always get in from France); past by suburbs of Dilbeek, Molenbeek, Anderlecht,  under the tunnel Leopold II to go our hotel past more north west suburbs of Saint Josse ten Noode and then Schaerbeek. All 9 hrs with stops and 818 kms later ,and 117€ gas and tolls. Yes Bretagne is a peninsula deep in when before from Versailles was just 4 hours with rest stop!

Then, we headed for the hotel parking at 10€ per day ,not bad at all.  We chose an inexpensive 2 stars hotel in a city area away from tourist center , it had some not soo good reviews on travel sites, but I am a contrarian when I read these so took in at the Hotel Bentley.  it was a basic accommodation with continental breakfast included about 67€ per night per room; the folks were very friendly, always available,and with great service at breakfast even if a bit limited in choices you had all the typical offerings in a continental style breakfast. My son left his bag full of electronics stuffs in the resto area and it was immediately brought up to his room, nice confidance to stay in places like this. All throughtout the service, and help was very nice and courteous, and see no reason why folks write bad reviews on properties like this, stand alone family business who try to help and make your stay a pleasant one. Maybe its the bad human habits of downplaying immigrant areas as the hotel is in little Turkey, plenty of nice folks even walking at night, and very helpful on bus tram routes. We will be back here. The webpage: http://www.hotel-bentley.com/

We went all over so much, taken bus, metro, and tram. The stop Botanique is the closest station to the hotel. We walk all over taking the metro line 1,5,and 6. We took the tramways 25 and 92, and the bus 66. We prefer the trams very nice clean efficient and see it all. The buses were crowded older and less clean, the metro was great but underground not to our liking. You can a Brussels journey planner to trace all your trip here: https://www.stib-mivb.be/tripplanner/?l=en

Folks sometimes get confused when I tell them to drive instead of public transport. It is better for a family to rent drive a car, and once in the city use the public transport, then go around all over in transport, much more expensive everytime you go past 2 persons. Try it. We purchase the magnetic card for 10 trips at a cost of 13€  ,good value from the usual 2,10 per person individual ticket on the trams. This having already a MOBIB Basic card which cost 5€. If purchase in the transport is 3€. The best part of the MOBIB Basic card is that you can lend to other persons to use so if a family you can reduce the cost further you know.

We like very much the City 2 shopping center, with FNAC, Armand Thiery, Carrefour market groceries; Australian ice cream parlor ,and a nice refuge from the rain ,all week, but we manage ok. Webpage in English: https://www.city2.be/

We ate at great places some old to come back to a Pizza Hut in Brussels brings a lot of memories from the time way back came as a young man with my late mother, our spot was here Bvd du Jardin Botanique 10. We tried the Australian ice cream parlor , the steakhouse Brussels Grill across the street, call the Manhattan center,  the Casa Nostra pizzeria was good, the wonderful all time favorite , real Belgian ,always a stop at Chez Patrick, an all time favorite here. We had our chocolates at a classic galerie de la reine at St Hubert, Corné Port Royal, the very best Belgian pralines or chocolates! We love it!!

We visit many stores old and new, and walk by the many wonderful streets and jardin botanique or botanical garden, seeing and reshape many monuments along the way from the great statue to Gen Montgomery of WWII fame by the metro tram stop of same name just pass the Parc du Cinquantanaire where we saw the wonderful Autoworld museum of vintage auto and bikes, a must see even if not into cars. We went over the Royal Armed Forces museum but here we got into a bit of laberinth, the museum close at noon for one hour, so if you are inside, you stay in the aviation hall with a restaurant very nicely place ho ho ho , but we wanted to continue seeing, no way, all aisles were close! so after having seen most (just pavillion 12 was left), we decided not to wait and leave, well no signs for sortie or exit available, we asked ,and it was thru the WC sign tunnel or rest rooms lol!!! weird way to leave a museum lol!!! Other than that, the museum is a marvelous place, not to be missed, of WWI and WWII to the Cold War tanks, planes, weapons,  uniforms the whole works!

We went over to mini Europe, so nice to see the wonders of Europe monuments all in minituare sizes, just glorious, and very nicely done, a must to visit. Nearby by is the symbol of Brussels, the Atomium globe , its a great architectural achievement and very nicely done for at least once seen, its 108 meters high with many levels open and some not. The panorama view from 7 is the main point of going up! You come here and dont drink beer lol!!! wonderful, we do lol!! and do visit the museum of beers at the Grand Place, small but a good introduction to beers Belges!  In all another wonderful visit to Brussels/Bruxelles, and a passing by the European commission of course, and the Royal Palace, and Santa Claus motorcycles, and the Cathedral Ste Catherine, the site of this year Plaisir d’Hiver or a Christmas market place full of hamlets, slaloms, dragon tunnels, and a big wheel we took awesome!!! a Great ambiance. the Church of Benigue, nearby is nice, the Royal Theater, parc du Bruxelles, and the wonderful chic Louise neighborhood.  Not to missed the Mannequin pis!!

A must to see when in Europe, one of its great Capital cities, Bruxelles, Brussels, we will be back. And we did, see the sights above on individual posts in my blog with pictures.

And of course, told the way up above, so now giving you the way down or home. I took the old route back, as if we were in Versailles, we left out very easy just as to go in, really is easy to drive on, you only need experience driving in cities and it will be fine. We left on the blvd du jardin botanique to blvd Adolphe Max left continuing on blvd Anspach then right on Rue Antoine Dansaert, then left on blvd de Nieuport to Chaussée de Ninove direction Mons to get on the RO ring road direction Mons. There you go on the Belgian A7 or E19 roads towards Paris, once in France you get on the A2 dir Valenciennes, then at the end it takes you into the A1 direction Paris, you go all the way to near CDG Roissy airport you see the panels Cergy Pontoise on the N104 (this is the la Francilienne road that goes on the outer limits of Paris) , continue direction Cergy Pontoise, pass the bridge of the A15 direction Versailles (yes my old town lol!) then go direction St Germain en Laye on the N184 same road, and just pass the Centaure train station at St Germain en Laye turn right on the A13 towards Poissy/Orgeval, at this round about you take the A13 direction Rouen,and up you go towards Caen then Rennes on the A84, N175, N24, N166,and N165 back to  Brec’h which is finally the road D768... This route took 880 kms, and 10 hrs with stops, with 91€ gas and tolls. So, longer but cheaper on gas/tolls.

The  tourist office of Brusselshttps://visit.brussels/en

The city of Brussels : https://www.bruxelles.be/

I must say that in later years I took the time to go on secondary /national roads without any tolls as these I consider extra taxes to pay! Its up to you! Hope you enjoy the ride! And remember, happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!!

January 13, 2021

Versailles, yes there is a castle here!!

I am updating, revising text on some of my older posts; however, some are very nice that I should had done it before. I will bring you back to my beloved Versailles a city I used to lived, enjoyed and love. Again with so many posts and pictures, this will be on my black and white series. Hope you get to like it too ::)

I have live almost 9 years here, and love it. Most come to Paris, many think is an annex to Paris, but this is Versailles, royal, grand, historic, the foundation of a Nation. It is here when the French constitution needs to be discussed ,changed, amended, all the French parliament and President must move here by constitutional law, and Versailles becomes a de facto Capital of France, last happenned in 2009. The Kingdom was here and the Republic started here.

It has many attributes, friendlier, smaller, nice, beautiful architecture, lots of history all around  you, royal and republican, but it ,also, has a castle. What a castle, I considered the most beautiful in the world, and many were tried and done copying it. Nothing of this magnitude has ever been done. Thanks to king of the French Louis Philippe I that seeing history goes to nothing, had the brilliant idea of converting it into a museum! as he said, FOR THE GLORY OF FRANCE, So in 1837, the castle became the museum, and the story began for all of us. I got caught up in this museum magna, the most beautiful of them all. A bit of stories, compiled from my time as living there and Friends of the Castle.

First you see the statue of Louis XIV on a horse,  done in 1836! but the base and mount comes from the Louis XVI statue that his brother and later king, Louis XVIII wanted to have in the center of the pl de la Concorde in Paris ,then also call place Louis XVI  instead the statue was transferred here to honor under Louis XIV the great builder of Versailles, and the first you see upon coming to the castle. The moment you walk up to it you see pave stones roads, six alignements of pave stones, to welcome the king and guest to castle; nothing could come here than by invitation of the king, once past it you see the cour de marbre or marble courtyard, done by 1681, and renovated a bit in 1678 to give it a clock crown on top middle of the square, and the windows expanded to seven. Around this clock you have Hercules and Mars figures, and an eagle representing defeated nations of Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire during the war of Holland. You see a hydra snake representing the Grand Alliance raised to combat France, and a bull symbol of glorious pass over the Rhine in 1672.  You have the statues in the cour de marbre representing Africa and America on the south side of it, facing the Asia and Europe on the other side. Here too you find on the facades of the cour de marbres 84 busts done in 1685, after heroes of antiquities such as Marc Antony,Jules Cesar,Constantine, etc. Here you see the Cour des Cerfs et Degré du Roi, intimate spaces of Louis XV, it has three floors invisible from the cour des marbre or the cour royale, it serves to do libraries, cabinets rooms, and dining rooms for Louis XV could received his intimes friends. There was a dining room in the 3rd floor opening into vast terraces,and on 1754 a stair degré du roi was done to access the apartments of the royal guards from the cour royale.

But , lets go inside, ok. The wonderful Salon de Mars, see the wonderful painting, La Famille de Darius aux pieds d’Alexandre (1660) with the eyes of Louis XIV at Chateau de Fontainebleau done by Charles Le Brun, who had done Vaux-le-Vicomte,and  also did the galerie d’Apollon at Louvre and considered the best French painter of the 17C. See the marble floors between the Salon de Mars and Salon de Diane in the Grand Appartement du roi; known as the Versailles style parquets, done first in 1684 by Jules Hardouin-Mansart.  On the ceiling of the Salon d’Apollon see the Apollon conduisant le char du soleil (1671-1678) just to imitate the father in law known in Spain as the planet king, so Louis XIV (married to Spanish queen Maria Thérese or in Spanish Maria Teresa, and where all Spanish bourbons kings descend today such as Felipe VI) . Move on to the same salon de Diane to see the work on the doors by the stairs de Maréchaux ,see the reliefs on the doors, the stairs was destroyed in 1752, the reliefs stayed on.  It is now a small replica there and copy at the Chateau d’Herrenchiemsee in Germany.

At the north wing, on the rooms of the 17C, you see the great courts of the portraits of woman of the court of Louis XIV; It is the room of beauties done in 1663, such as the duchess of La Valliére, Henriette of England, Princesse  de Soubise or Princess of Monaco, Marie Mancini, or Anne Marie Martinozzi; lovely indeed. At the cour de l’Hymen by the stair of the queen you see a trophy en metal cover with copper and lead, showing the marriage of Louis XIV to his cousin Marie-Thérese d’Austria to reconcile the quarrels between France and Spain done at St Jean de Luz in signing the treaty of the Pyrénées in 1659. You see the fatality of queens at the ceilings of the antichambre de grand couvert, grand appartement de la reine , beautiful. Go on to the first antichambre du roi done in 1686, vast and beautiful.

The magnificent galerie des glaces done in 1681-1684, with 73 meters long and a canopy of almost 1000 square meters, as well as the ceilings of the salon de l’Abondance, grand appartement du roi. Here see the wonderful office cabinet furniture done in 1708. See the Salon de l’oeil de Boeuf, on the second antichambre in the appartement du roi; white ceilings done in 1701 but richly decorated along the walls. See the wonderful bedroom of Louis XIV at the appartement du roi. Here the king died on Sept 1st, 1715 after 60 years of reign.

There is a big oval encrusted painting showing Louis XV offrering peace to Europe in 1729 in the Salon de la Paix(peace) that follows the Salon de la Guerre(war) to the Grand Appartements. You,also, see the calendars for the anniversaires of the chapel of the king, see at the Sacristie des Musiciens near the tribunes of the chapel done by 1770. You can see the bedroom of Louis XV by the interior appartement du roi,the king uses it from age 27,and he died there May 10, 1774, Louis XVI continue its use, one of the places in the castle where few could entered.

See the wonderful dining room or salle à manger des retours de chasse in the interior appartement du roi; done in 1750 and held until 1769 the diners after his returns from hunting.  There is a nice room call the Cabinet de l’appartement de Madame de Pompadour, in the small appartement du roi in the attic, on top of the salon de la guere. Here many rdv was held by the king and woman including putting here Mme de Pompadour,(real name Jeanne Antoinette Poisson), entered in the courts of Versailles in 1745, and lived her first five years in the castle here, she even had a small chapel  once becoming a duchesse in 1752, she takes a jesuist as confessor in 1756, and while she was sick the king allows her to finish here in 1764, the only person of non royal blood to died in the castle, the king later said, ” Here is all the honors that I can give her, a friend of 20 years”.

You can see the library, in the appartement du Dauphin, or heir to the throne,  done in 1750, served for he of Louis XV and Louis XVI. The Grand Dauphin died at 49 in 1711 four years before Louis XIV while his son Philippe V or Felipe V ascend to the throne of Spain. You can see a wonderful pending clock  or the pendule astronomique de passemant (1730-1740) at the Cabinet de la Pendule, interior appartement du roi.  Given to the royal academy of sciences in 1749 it put here by Louis XV in 1754. It is programmable to be used until 9999! At the time it gave the time in the kingdom of France. You can see the library and bathroom of Madame du Barry, petit appartement du roi (second floor french ,3rd floor US), before becoming the favorite of king Louis XV, she was a saleslady in a boutique n the rue Saint Honoré de Paris. Louis XV keeps her at the age of 25 when she came to lived in the castle. In kicking out Madame du Barry by Louis XVI he takes over the room and you now see the Grand Cabinet in the appartement du Comte de Maurepas, the advisor to king Louis XVI not a good one after his bad advice Versailles came from being the birthplace of the monarchy to its tomb.

Another favorite is the Salle à manger des Porcelaines, or porcelain dining room.  It was the last dining room used by Louis XV  after his hunting runs, and later became a formal dining room under Louis XVI;its in the interior appartement du roi.  Another favorite item is the chandelier or imperiale du lit de Marie Antoinette n the bedroom of the queen. The room has been done exactly as the last day the queen use it on October 6, 1789. Furniture is from 1787 and the bed is from 1769 all renovated. Just think here 19 royal children of France including Louis XV ,and Felipe V of Spain were born. Come to see the Cabinet Doré , interior cabinets of the queen, done in 1783, one of the most beautiful piece of the queen, the harp was done in 1774.

There is a passage from the bedroom of the queen(chambre de la reine)  and the Salon de l’oeil de Boeuf; early on October 6, 1789 the queen was awaken by a large noise, the Parisiens arrives, the Salles des Gardes there was havoc, the room ladies help Marie Antoinette opening the small door to the left of her bed,and she takes leaves by the passages that led to the bedroom of the king. They met there in the passages, while the crowds gather at the cour des marbres and invades the castle. From the king’s bedroom (chambre du roi)La Fayette( he who help the US independance as the Marquis de Lafayette) and a few granadiers battle the insurgents protecting the royals ,while they arrive at the salon de l’Oeil de Boeuf. They needed to leave Versailles

You come to another of my favorites, the Galerie des Batailles or the battle gallery, at the central wing or aile du midi, (1 floor or 2nd Fl US) You see 16 paintings in bronce done from 1834-1836 with engraving of 528 names: 36 princes of the royal house, 10 admirals, 6 connatables,25 mariscals, 33 warriors,18 commanders, and 400 officers dead in combat for France. It describes the military history from Clovis to Napoleon, with 92 busts and 33 paintings of famous battles including the famous USA battle for indepedance at Yorktown.  See the magnificent Porte de l’Hospice des Chevaliers de Saint Jean de Jerusalem; at the salles des Croisades, the door is sculpture in cedar wood and bath of bronze from Rhodes Greece dating from 1512! ,from 1837-1839 the room was embellished with 150 paintings representing the period of the crusades.  Right around there, see the stair or Escalier de l’attique Chimay, to go to the attic Chimay, that extend the one of the queen done during the time of Louis XIV, but the king Louis Philippe, does from 1833-1837 true marble of colors and dust with a paste that gives the impression of seeing glass. The lady in room of Marie Antoinette was to have live here  14 years but actually stayed in the attic of the central wing just behind the glasses of the galerie des batailles/ So her name princess of Chimay,Laure-Auguste de Fitz-James who never lived here but the name stayed on. See the sculptures des Grands Hommes de France, galerie de Pierre, north wing 1 fl or aile nord. four galleries of stones, done in 1776 for the grand galerie du louvre but by Louis XVI here.

The project of a museum to the great man of France is the idea of the Assamblée Générale that in 1791 starts the Central Museum of the Arts, and on 1797 Versailles welcome the special museum of the French School of Arts. The most remarkable of the statues sculpture here is that made in marble of Joanne d’Arc done by Marie d’Orléans second daughter of the king of the French Louis Philippe I done in 1837.

The French Republic is ,also,here, the aile du midi or the middle wing served until 1958 to hold the National elections to hold the parlamentarians that came here to name a President of France.  You see the monograms FF as not to confused the R with the republican party of France, see it at the corniche de la Salle du Congrés du Parlement de Versailles, aile d midi or middle wing. Same wing, see the Pavillon de Provence, the Bureau or cabinet du Président du Congrés ou l’Investiture. The old salon of the countess of Provence came to be under the IV République Française the working office of the president of the National Assembly or Assamblée Nationale. From the 1879 to 1953 14 presidents of  France were elected here! Now is the lieu of work when the French constitution needs revision,changes or amenmends.

The official webpage of the Château de Versailles: http://www.chateauversailles.fr/homepage

The official webpage of the Château de Versailles eventshttps://en.chateauversailles-spectacles.fr/

The city of Versailles tourist office on the must sees in the Château de Versailles: https://en.versailles-tourisme.com/les-10-incontournables.html

Versailles is a lot more than a castle, but the castle is sublime , unique, exceptionally superbe and a must see while anywhere in France or the République Française! I hope you enjoy my favorite, the property is huge , for all tastes. One place to know the whole history of France. Hope you enjoy the post , and it needed to be long.

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

January 13, 2021

Versailles, and me !!!

I am updating, revising text on some of my older posts; however, some are very nice that I should had done it before. I will bring you back to my beloved Versailles a city I used to lived, enjoyed and love. Again with so many posts and pictures, this will be on my black and white series. Hope you get to like it too ::)

Coming around my life, as a family we decided way back that one day we might end up in France. Being married to a French woman, and all French citizens, the time was just any minute. Life in South Florida has been great, and we were visiting France every year since 1990 together,even sometimes with my parents.

The decision was made to come to live in France permanently. First, I found a job online with a major French CAC 40 corporation as head of their accounting dept which included 9 regions of the world and 5 billion USD in sales, the force of 53% of its sales to the USA. The decision then was to prepare the move and sell our home in Florida.

I came for the job on August 23, 2003 to start with Thomson Broadcast & Media Solutions in Cergy-St Christophe, dept 95 Val d’Oise,and  lived with my in-laws in Chambry near Meaux dept 77 Seine-et-Marne ,which of courses knew the area well, this while I search for an apartment. This was done by October of that year, at Versailles dept 78 Yvelines, with good transport to the city and Paris as well as close to my job via car. My family joined me in December 2003 together with my parents who decided to follow their only son and grandchildren here!!

I had secured a big four bedroom apartment near transport and schools, and large enough to received our belonging from Florida USA. The move was done from Miami Florida by SDV French freight forwarders who gave us an expatriate deal very cheap for a 40 foot container door to door delivery, unbelievable price, nobody could believe it. But my wife worked for them in Miami!

My parents were issued quickly visa long séjour and upon arriving titre de séjour visiteur as they were already US retirees did not needed to work . My wife was helped by a French compatriot in the USA who refered her to a company here doing the same job as in Florida, freight forwarding agent ,and within a couple of month found the job at Roissy CDG in the freight or cargo area of DHL Global Forwarding. My kids went to school for quick entry at the town of Verneuil sur Seine (collége) and then Le Chesnay-Roquencourt (lycée)  ,and quickly began to get good grades in school as their French was already mastered by the mother in house education, using tapes, books, cassettes, plus the daily usage of the language and annual visits to France. Kids can really pick up the languages quickly!!

Quickly settling in to our new surrounding, we purchase our first home by July 2004 in the same area near a forest that links with Versailles behind the Domaine de Versailles which includes the castle everyone comes to see. It is a four bedroom 2 bath one car garage home with fruit trees in the patio and a nice front yard full of roses and flowers. Tool shed house and barbecue pit of bricks. It is our sweet home in France, and we love it. Later on we came to live in town by the Notre Dame Church behind it!!

About this same time , 2004 , I was given the opportunity to be the head of Accounting of the Intercontinental Hotels Group in France, handling all hotels own and manage by the group including the fame Cafe de la Paix in Paris and 3 Intercontinental hotels (two in Paris and one in Cannes) plus the Holiday Inn Republique in Paris and Disneyland Paris (now all with different names and new owners except Le Grand and Café de la Paix) . A job that allows me to maintain close relationship with the deluxe high end and tourist industry in France. As well as getting to know some well known individuals in many fields.

Our next move as we move along in our belle France, which by now it has become our home and legal residence is to move closer to the kids university and schools, as they are working or going to school in Versailles or next to it using the city bus system very well while Dad continues to haul his car around (habit hard to dismiss). My job since 2006 involves doing independant contract work for corporations inside and outside France in the area of  Finance/ERP/Controlling/and international dealings with the largest French corp part of the CAC 40 (sort like a Dow Jones industrials in the USA). See my other posts for the stories to follow on this one city and beyond into Bretagne!

The city of Versailles, on top right page, the globe can translated to several languages: https://www.versailles.fr/

The Dept 78 Yvelines on entertainment and link to tourist office: https://www.yvelines.fr/loisirs/tourisme/le-guide-de-sorties/

The Ïle de France region on tourism: https://www.iledefrance.fr/tourisme

You are welcome to ask any questions if thinking of coming over, it is a lot easier than most will tell you; just follow the French system, read procedures. I will expand with my stories in other parts of the world and the continuation in France, stay tune. It felled very nice to be more personal and let you all know a bit of my history. Hope you enjoy it as I did telling you. Versailles is worth a kingdom!

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

January 13, 2021

Versailles ,its worth a kingdom!!

I am updating, revising text on some of my older posts; however, some are very nice that I should had done it before. I will bring you back to my beloved Versailles a city I used to lived, enjoyed and love. Again with so many posts and pictures, this will be on my black and white series. Hope you get to like it too ::)

I will stop this time my historical anecdotes of the city of Versailles to tell you of my first coming home “visit”. I am in transition after almost 9 yrs living in the city to move out, my house is sold, waiting for the closing in June to move permanently to the Morbihan breton dept 56. So every chance I get to be back it feels great indeed. Versailles I will never forget you!!!

I had to pick up my oldest son for a meal at home with the family, so instead of just a round trip, I spent my time walking and driving all over the city, just a nostalgic tour one more time. It is hard, one who is used to living internationally (five countries already lived), each time is a psychological process, this time even more so, the city has given me and my family so much good.

First an hommage to  a great gardener ,and one that one of my son is trying to follow as gardener paysagiste himself. There is a bust statue of André Le Notre (see post) , by Ave des Etats Unis  and Ave de Saint Cloud, honoring the master of his chef d’ouvre Versailles, but ,also of Palais des Tuileries, Palais Royal, Saint Germain en Laye ,Marly-le-Roi, Saint Cloud, Chantilly, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Sceaux, Saint Maur, Saint Martin de Pontoise, Ussé, Chaville, Pontchartain, Conflans, Gaillon, Guermantes, Castries, Les Rochers, Maintenon, Meudon, and, Clagny. First gardener of the kings of France from 1645 to his death in 1700.

I went back to a seldom site as I live on the opposite Notre Dame, but the Saint Louis district is unique too, in that it houses the Cathedral de Saint Louis, (see post)  wonderful ,and today many scouts kids in it, during service. I waited for the end to come back for the pictures. One should not take photos when service is held, please.

For an historical anecdote, the Collegiale de Notre Dame Church is the oldest but when the French revolution for not given in to the old royal grounds, they chose this one as the city’s Cathedral. Nevertheless as I said , it is very imposing and compact, nice.  First blessed as such in 1754. The organ was done in 1761, and survived the revolution instact. You have the baptismal urn of king Clovis ,the first king of the Franks or Francia=France.  Wonderful huge paintings, and statue of Joanne d’Arc, patron saint of France. A must to see.

I went again by the Potager-du-roi, the vegetable patch for the king Louis XIV, still given out goodies to the general public on Wednesdays.  This one is the one open to the public as the Kings harvest place, there is one bigger behind all the way of the castle properties now accessable by Saint Cyr l-école (see post) on the D307 road.

I let you have ,once in my neck of the city, the exit I take from the gare rive droite in Versailles, closest to me, I would go out on blvd de la Reine, and next to it is the nice and historical Hotel de Clagny.

I once again take you to the wonderful , magnificent, highly recommended Marché Notre Dame, (see post) the best, by the place du vieux marché, and parking underground Notre Dame for those daring like me to drive. This is all you need to buy, all is here. I like to take rememberence to the Hôpital Richard, a venerable institution in Versailles who have seen its better days. The Units have been transferred next door to a modern facility ,and the old hospital is been transformed into a luxury condo,apartment complex, which if models show it, will be stunning. The only building left will be the Chapel. It looks nice and the price is as per location. The Chapel  was, in the former Convent of the Augustinians of Versailles or couvent de la Reine, dedicated to the education of young ladies founded by Queen Marie Leszczynka,wife of Louis XV. It was done in 1772.

I then move over to seldom seen areas such as another district or neighborhood of Versailles (see post on districts of Versailles) ,this is Montreuil, a royal neighborhood, and the Church of Saint Symphorien (see post) done 1764-1770, wonderful paintings from the 18C ,but today it was in ceremonial service so no pictures inside.  The colorful ,commercial rue de Montreuil leads to Ave des Etats Unis is full of shops and bistros ,very lively at night too. Last we made a tour into the end of rue Royale, to take a look at the Lycée Notre Dame de Grandchamp that houses a private school and next to it at 16 Rue Monseigneur Gibier , you have the Bishop’s office of the diocese of Versailles. And next to it at no 8 the Chapelle de l’Immaculate Conception.

On the run, we stop at my son’s hangout in near Saint Louis Cathedral, where the kebad is the kids thing, talk, gossips and girls, I guess ::) Planeté Food, 7 rue du Général Leclerc , very good service, and menus includes fries and sodajust crossing street you are at Cathédrale de Saint Louis, and tracing back to rue Royale brings you out to the train station gare rive gauche-Château. Tried the Greek or Grec menu with American sauce combination mayo and ketchup. A young crowd but very well disciplined ,most from private schools in the area.

The city of Versailles tourist office : https://www.versailles-tourisme.com/

The city of Versailles on its history/heritage: https://www.versailles.fr/ma-ville/decouvrir/histoire-de-versailles/

And there you go a nice “visit” to my beloved Versailles and time to see and do some of the routines of old. Always feels good to be at Versailles, it is worth a kingdom indeed. Hope you enjoy it as I do, and do visit when possible.

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

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