Archive for ‘Europe’

May 6, 2017

Brest ,Finistére, a whole lot more than Brittany!

Ok so moving right out as promise, our last minute move was to come back to Brest, in the Finistére of Brittany, Bretagne/Breizh. This is a vibrant busy town with lots of ambiance on any trip we have made here even at Christmas. For the newcomers to my blog, these are the previous posts on Brest:

We saw a cloudy day and cool windy, but in Brittany you cannot follow the weather, we set on our car heading on the N165 expressway towards Brest, and found a very nice sunny day with no rain ! We like to park in different parts of the city each time there and this time we decided to park by the Place Wilson not far from the train station and walk all over the city center. You will find plenty of tourist info on the previous posts and many photos too.

Once parking off street by the Place Wilson, automatic parking meter with credit/debit  card allowed even if we just pumped in 4€ for the day. We came back down towards the gardens overlooking the harbor of Brest. There lies a very nice historical monument.

The monument Américain cours Dajot or American Monument built on land given in perpetuity  and free by France to the USA. It overlooks the harbor or port de commerce and the rade or harbor with a rose tower of 50 meters high with three levels in commemoration of the American help in WWI that had more than 800 000 men landed here from November 12 1917 to November 28 1918. Destroyed by the Nazis in WWII it was rebuilt to the identical details in 1958 on land given to the USA by France. Right on the garden and to the right of the monument you see a wall stone plaque with the figurehead of comte de Rochambeau and comte de Grasse, the general (and Count) and admiral (and Count) respectively who participated in the battle of Yorktown ,that finally gave advantage and independence to the USA from UK with the help of France.

The American Battle Monument Commission in charge of safekeeping of  American monuments and cemeteries abroad has more on it in English here:

The views to the harbor and port are wonderful sublime from the monument Americain indeed; a nice way to begin your visit to the city. One monument in particular I like and a donor is the SNSM ,and at Brest it has its training headquarter. SNSM=Sociétè Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer (the National Society for Sea Rescue) . More on this wonderful society here at Brest:

We passed by the Castle this time, a wonderful structure and even better Marine Museum that we have spoked about in previous post above. The coming May 20 is Museum night in France ,and many as this one are free admission. More on it here:

Walking just along the castle you will come to see the pont de Recouvrance ,and right next to it the Tanguy tower ,and its old Brest museum on the history of the city, and the arbre émpathique or empathetic tree right next to the bridge. The bridge or  pont de Recouvrance gives you a very nice view on the old city; looking towards the harbor you see the castle citadel, where the local marine government office and the marine museum as above; on the right bank you see the district of Recouvrance with the famous Tanguy tower and the arsenal that goes to both banks of the river until the bridge or pont de l’Harteloire; this area is mostly a military off limits zone but you can see from above the bridge on its many gunboats, helicopters, and canons.

Walking along past the bridge ,and after seeing the arsenal on the right bank or rive droite you will see the cable car! The téléphérique de Brest or the line C of the local transport network call bibus links the two banks of the river Penfeld that separates the districts of Siam and Capucins. It is the first of its kind in France and started in 2016. Each of its cabins can transport up to 60 persons at the same time. A unique experience for next time as we were short on time on our typical one day flash.  The line C is here:

And more on Bibus network here:

For a relaxing moment and dwell into the local scene need to stop by the librarie Dialogue by the street , Square Mgr Roull and into the rue Louis Pasteur and the shopping artery rue de Siam. A local independent library started here in 1976 and now elsewhere even Paris. Wonderful choices and loving local care for the avid readers; more here:

Can’t missed even for sentimental reasons, the Church or église Saint Louis de Brest. It is now build in modern style as was reconstructed after WWII (1953-1958) on the ruins of the old Church Saint Louis built between 1686 and 1785, and consecrated to King Louis IX or Saint Louis. The Catholic site here:

Then, right next to it you find the wonderful Halles Saint Louis or covered market St Louis. A must on any visit to the city for the local ambiance, the goodies from the French countryside, and the history. They are open Tuesdays to Fridays from 8h30-13h30 and 16h to 19h30, Saturdays from 8h-14h and 16h to 19h30, and Sundays from 8h to 13h; completely renovated in 2016, more in French here on local site with presentation of merchants:

The shopping paradise of the rue de Siam is enormous and always vibrant with great ambiance, a shopper’s delight. You have the big square Liberty where Christmas market is held, and the city hall or hotel de ville next to it the nice Ciné Liberté; the boys had tried one movie here and it was nice if you have time or an overnight stay. All transports from taxis, buses, and trams passes by here. More here:

As we love to shop, we can’t avoid going to the Centre Commercial Espace Jaurés on rue de Siam; you have it all even a Printemps Paris store branch, and FNAC, and of course Burger King ! It has 3 levels ,parking and dedicated space for children. We love it because we gathered some sales of up to 50% off and had a nice old style lunch at BK lol!!! More on the shopping center here:

Of course, Burger King is from Florida USA, and so are we so we have to tried them all over and my born in the USA boys loves them. We had to come in for a late lunch before heading home so we did try the Burger King here up the rue de Siam it changes into the rue Jean Jaures right on the shopping Espace Jaurés. In our opinion, the staff was slow and smallist one, not the right feeling, there are other betters ones like in Vannes nearer us. The usual load came to 11€ per person with desserts included. More on this one here:

Still walking, on our way back we stop by the train station or Gare de Brest as an anecdote for the travelers reading the blog as us never take trains here. It’s a nice complex with plenty of restaurants and parking; and a modern station,now with staring in July 2nd, faster service to Paris saving 1h25 in time! More here:

and the local TER trains site on the same station here:

Right next to it is the Gare Routiére or bus terminal. Here is more at the transports site for dept 29 Finistére(in Breton Penn-ar-Bed) :

And we of course, got our baguette at La Fournée à Brest ,more here:

And we did some shopping well the other half did for a whopping amount lol!! got a pant and blouse both at 50% off !!! at Eurodif store on same street. This is a nice store we had at Versailles and near us now at Lorient, and Vannes, so we try the one in Brest and it was the same good products, good prices and friendly local service; recommended.  Deco, table items, bedrooms, baths, curtains,lingerie and housewear, accessories, children, and woman clothings. More on the Brest store here:

And all, a nice outing with the family on this long weekend, tomorrow is Presidential election day in France and I will be doing my civic duty here and then football/soccer Real Madrid plays Granada,and Monday is a holiday celebrating end of WWII Victory Day 1945 so off ::)

Enjoy your weekend wherever you are and happy travels, life is beautiful,la vie est belle, la Dolce vita, La vida es chula !!! Cheers

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April 30, 2017

A Coruña, La Coruña; it has been a love story!

And I was back to La Coruña (Spanish), and A Coruña (Galician) again last week. It has become a love affair with several visits all documented in my blog. Since birth , I have known people from here, and once in Europe, I have to know them up close and personal with great gratitude of friendship and sharing of a similar love, football/soccer. I did the same last week.

I took Iberia from Nantes to A Coruña airport direct on an easy and on time flight. I have their pages here for reference:

I took a taxi from airport to hotel for 15,50€ nice ride on the expressway coming down the bay into the Matogrande district where my usual hotel awaited ,the Attica21 Hotel; great room nice views, good service,and a wonderful all buffet breakfast. The hotel is here:

Once here had the same friendship welcome and went out to a resto bar I already knew not far from the hotel for dinner in good company; the place is Bogart Baar, and it is a modern resto with great service good food,good beer,and friendly chat; we had the 3 cuts of meats dish to share , the jarra or pints of beer,and dessert ,coffee all for 19€ per person. Best ambiance and best deal in town. The resto is here:

Just enough for a good night sleep on a great landing day.  We took a ride into the country going as far as Curtis and Ferrol towns and driving around A Coruña ,an easy thing to do. See the street photos here.

On the evening of the 26 of April ,there was the game of Real Madrid vs Deportivo La Coruña and saw it live on a bar call O’Sampaio ,Calle  Bailén, 4 Bajo  in old town ,it has a page in Facebook and the place is loaded, not to mention I saw the game and we won 2X6! Hala Madrid!!!

Each night we went to a different place and another one was A Taberna de Cunqueiro; a nice bar in a lively night street of good ambiance and family oriented with good friends is a must, Calle de la Estrella, tops. More chorizos, squids!! (pulpo)  and beers lol! more on the tavern here:

We did stop by an old hangout and very popular at La Bombilla, we had our potato rolls with chorizos and more beer Estrella Galicia here, a must stop on any night in A Coruña,and again the page is in Facebook here:

Last we went to the beach of Santa Cristina , a nice area in Oleiros, which is full after June; for now we had it all for ourselves and had a beer and tapas at the restaurant Pereiro terrace overlooking the beach in the Santa Cristina Hotel. More here:

I did past by my old hotel AC Hotel A Coruña, the first time I came here back in 2012, I stayed there and was ok, actually they are next to the Attica21 Hotel that I have stayed ever since.  The AC are part of the Marriott group. More here:

More on the beach at Santa Cristina in Spanish here:

And the tourist section of Spain on Oleiros and the beach in English here:

All in all, it was a trip to come back to some repeated wonderful places and to seek new ones, all good ones; A Coruña can be a great experience coming in summer or warmer weather. The nightlife is vibrant and active, and the food is sublime! Hoping not to be the last time there; I am already looking forward to the next time and new places.

Enjoy your Sunday wherever you are; me back at home and ready for another trip by mid to end May ::) CheersLa Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña La Coruña



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April 9, 2017

You know the Vendée, Noirmoutier island, part VII

Well this is the end to the series on the island of Noirmoutier in the Vendée of the Pays de la Loire, France. This is part 7 and it has been a wonderful experience recounting these experiences to all and for me to keep as a great souvenir for years to come and to come back of course. Noirmoutier is gorgeous island living.

I have posted several times the tourist offices of the region , department and island so here will tell you just the last and best item there other than the beaches lol!

I will tell you about the Castle of Noirmoutier ;it is right in city center on the square place d’Armes facing the dam, the harbor with great views of the whole city and beyond.

Getting there either thru the bridges or the passage du Gois is easy as can’t miss this castle in town.

the Château  de Noirmoutier is from the 12C. And in its dungeon you can see now a museum housing collections of Noirmoutier heritage (dating back to Pre-history) and a large collection of Jersey porcelain.

Before the 17C the harbor reached until the ramparts of the Castle where you see now douves. The current entrance did not exist as the old entrance was done by the side of the Church of St Philbert (see previous post). It was the Dutch who invaded Noirmoutier in the 17C that destroyed the two small towers and took the bells Marianne and Suzanne with them; they were found in the Netherlands in 1980 ! . The date of the construction of the castle is not known precisely; it appeared for the first time in writing dating from 1205 so the city historians think it was built between 1170 and 1180.  It was built by  Pierre V de La Garnache, to show his feudal power especially to his rival the English. It maintained military uses until the 19C. 

The visit starts by the chemin de ronde, to discovered the exterior parts of the Castle; and then comes inside the donjon towers that has been renovated into a museum of local culture.  The first two levels that in the old times serve to house the ammunition and food and the opening are tight and narrow. Here we find a memorial to the wars of the Vendée between the white royalists and the blue republicans in the 18C.  On the island this war begain on March 10, 1793, and  Noirmoutier change side three times until finally the Republicans of Gen Haxo took it. The main furniture here is the chair in which the royalist general Maurice D’Elbée was executed in 1794. You can see several souvenirs brough by the marines such as English  faïences (Jersey) , and measurement instruments. On the upper level, the decoration change and the ceilings are higher with great lighted windows to host the permanent collection.

There are a group of about 10 canons in the courtyard of the castle from a sunken ship as well as sarcophagus of Mérovigian origins on a square section in the castle as you go in to your left.  You can see as you entered on your right a long house attach to the ramparts ; this was the residence of the governor, and it was one of them ,Mr  La Paunière, governor of the island and castle that had it renovates in 1690. It is today that we conserved all the archives of  Noirmoutier.

 Right now there is a temporary exposition entitled « Noirmoutier, une île au cinéma »  or Noirmoutier and island of cinema, where films filmed here since 1925 even if those shown with posters, photos paintings etc as well as old film cameras re telling the story of cinema here from 1960 to our days . Films such as those by Agnès Varda, Robert Bresson,  Claude Sautet, as well as more recent films such as those of Les Vacances du Petit Nicolas(Nicolas on Holiday).  This exhibition will run until November 12, 2017.

The castle belongs to the city since 1901 and it has more here in French:

To remarks that from the panoramic view on top of the castle it is said that on clear days you can see as far as 20 kms or about 12 miles. We certainly saw lots of beautiful sights from above.

There is a non profit organization that helps protect this castle with upkeeps coming from donation and they are house in the former governor’s house inside the castle, Les Amis d’île de Noirmoutier; link here in French:

More on our visit, we came from the free parking by the Church St Philbert and entered the castle by the reception ticket office. You, then come into the courtyard, where on the left and right side you will see the rows of canons. On the far left you see remnants of what was the old prison of WWI and you continue on the middle to the Keep (12C), you see the small castellum and former entrance in the 13C on your right, a small portion of it. Next to it you see the Governor’s house from the 17C, all along the walls you can have a rampart walk for about half the enclosure, and on the back of the main castle building you climb up to the top for the panoramic views.

The First floor or level 1 you see the pre historic permanent exhibition , oldest found from the Bois de la Chaise woods, and the Neolithic period from La Fosse to the Luzéronde with megaliths stones. Photos of the old crypt of the current Church that was built on the former monastery of Herio the old name for Noirmoutier.

The Second floor or level 2 you entered the vaulted room to really know the history of the castle from the 9C wooden structured to the now Romanesque keep.

The Third floor or level 3, from the Dutch attack in 1674 to the wars in the Vendée against the French revolution, it gives you part of this stories.

From the top of the Keep the whole island stretches before you. You see as far as the harbor of L’Herbaudiére, the heritage port, the Jacobsen dyke/dam, and the Mûllembourg nature reserve as well as the boat cemetery.

In all, a nice visit to a pretty castle ,full of history and interesting things to see. The views are gorgeous as it was a sunny day. Enjoy by all, see you here some day. Enjoy your Sunday, Cheers!

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April 9, 2017

You know the Vendée, Noirmoutier island, part VI

Moving right alone on the trip to Noirmoutier island in the Vendée dept 85 of the Pays de la Loire region; this is part 6 of the series.

Today, I will show you the religious monuments of the city of Noirmoutier ,itself full of history. To recall the area tourist offices are:

You can meander thru the little tight streets  with a beach scent of the island and its white houses, colorful merchants and restaurants of all sorts but especially ,the sea. The season actually starts in April, and on the first day it was already packed. Talking with locals , we were told to rent in summer you need about a year in advance to get the best properties; it is very sought after here.

While walking alone the dam or digue out into the harbor and the salt and oyster beds we saw a small bell cross pointed within the houses towards town. We walk further towards it and found on a private road but accessible by the public a small Chapel right between the private homes. This is the Chapelle Notre Dame de la Pitié.

It was done in 1950 by the Abbey Raymond in order to honored the 1500 or 1800 soldiers of Charette leader of the counter French revolution who were executed here in 1794. These soldiers were taken prisoner in the church of St Philbert (see below) an taken here in groups of about 60 to be executed in what was a garbage dump place. Most of the soldiers were entered in the sand dunes around it.

Upon entering the Chapel you see the Cross of the Martyrs ,and inside the rock of pieta is from the 16C given by the Marquis de Chauvelin. Amongst the bones found are those now in an encased glass cabinet of the General D’Elbée executed by firing squad on January 7, 1794 ,he was the military chief of the counter revolutionaries in the Vendée region.   This is probably why there is not much info and nothing in the tourists office but here is a site on the period of counter revolution of the Vendée and the Chouans of Brittany, my area now. Of course, in French:

Just going over to the town, it was that time to finally eat something hot so we passed by the picturesque square or place Saint  Louis of many restos and we just pick by chance the Le Blé Noir II at 14 Place Saint Louis. Very friendly, and the waiter had lived in New York and London, so nice expat conversation indeed lol! Michel was a great topic of conversation and the food price/quality was excellent, the bill came to 25,50€ per person including 8 beers Licorne, 2 diabolo menthe drink, one galette chevrette or goat galette and one galette anglaise or English galette with bacon egg and fresh cream, 3 menus of 15,80€ entrée of fish soup, main dish Hake fish in a white sauce with shrimps, and two scoops of ice cream. Just lovely and a fair price for a chic upper island vacation spot!! no webpage just mentioned in the help pages I used in my blog roll as well :

Now much better equipped ::) we continue our walks into the main Church in town, that of one its founders Saint Philbert; a great travelers born in the Gers around 616AD; he became a monk at the age of 20. After many bad adventures and even prison he ends up here to found a  monastery. He encouraged the cultivation of salt and creates dams to protect the harbor. He died in 685AD and his body was placed in the crypt of the Church for several centuries. It now only remained a phalanx in a ossuary in the crypt of the Church ; that now bears his name as many other buildings in the island.

The Church of Saint Philbert is just next to the castle (more later in last post); on the square or place d’Armes. The church of a Roman style enclosed in a model frigate or boat. In the Choir of the Church in the crypt laid his body from 690 to 836; it now has some relics of the Saint.

More on the Church from the tourist office here:

And from the Catholic diocese in French :

A better description beyond the tourist office is here:

The Church Saint-Philbert is in the spot of an Abbey founded in 677. It was plundered by the Saracens in the 8C and then burnt by the Normans in 846. It was then rebuilt at the end of the 11C on the original Chapel, which is the current crypt, only the choir and the nave. The end of the 14C  to the 17C , the  left and right nave were taken down, it was consecrated in 1849.  The bell tower is neo-Roman, and  it was built in 1875 to replace the former bell tower which had been destroyed by a fire in 1848. Inside we can admire a model of a frigate, made by an artisan watchmaker of the village in 1802 for Auguste JacobsenThe crypt: it is located under the choir, she welcomed the body of St. Philbert between 690 and 836, date at which he was transferred to Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu, then to Tournus where the monks had fled after the invasions of Normandy in 875.  A  chasse on the altar contains some relics of the saint, transferred in 1863 date that this crypt was restoredThe Merovingian crypt where rested Saint Philbert is what remains of the Abbey destroyed by the Normans. Indeed the Abbey that stretched to the location of the Church and the castle was never relieved within its walls once the monks fled the occupation of the Vikings who had made the island their rear base for their raids on the Loire. Only a Priory was restored which became the Church as we know itThe stained glass windows of the nave tell of Saint Philbert: the former Abbey, the Castle, the arms of the Abbey and of the other side four steps and foundations of Philbert: Jumièges, Saint Philbert de Grandlieu, Cunault and TournusThe altarpiece Sainte Marie is the oldest altarpiece of the Church, and the most richly decorated. You can admire the garlands of roses and Sun carved in stoneThe retable of the altar of St. Anne was built in 1711.
Indeed a wonderful Church that must be visited and admire. You are just across from the castle and we found free parking right in front of the Church. Enjoy Noirmoutier another jewel in my belle France!
Enjoy your Sunday y’all, cheers
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April 8, 2017

You know the Vendée, Noirmoutier island, part V

And my Noirmoutier saga continues with the WWII bunkers on the beach there. This is part 5 or V of the saga so need to catch up with the previous ones for the whole story.

By January 19 1944, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is named inspector of fortifications and all the grand harbors of the Atlantic are raise to fortresses that will need to withstand until the last block.

After 70 years the bunkers or blockhouses here are brought to new by an association formed to protect them for posterity. The association is the Atlantic Wall Memory (AWM). Info here: Place René Ganachaud (mayor’s office) 85680 La Guérinière. Tel +33 (0) 2 51 39 56 85 or email :

The info from the tourist office in English here:—visites-de-blockhaus

These are in the town of La Guériniére and along the Cantine beach or plage de la Cantine with children playground and plenty of bike paths and car parking for free.

Here you will find about 7 (I think I counted 7) blockhouses coming from batteries Sa 114a along boulevard de l’Océan in La Guériniére. One of the blockhouses the 669’s has a small museum on the local history of fishing; the Maison des Anciens Marins or the house of retired fisherman and wartime pictures . Finding the 627 with plates on rare to see but the bunker has them. The battery was named after the battleship “Tirpitz”.

Another bunker has a Maison des Ecluses et Pêche Traditionnelle still in use or the House of levies and traditional fishing.  There are four building behind the bunkers acting as a double defense line and they look like bunkers to me too ::)

Once you are in the town of La Guériniére you follow the signs for the bonkers until you reach the boulevard de l’Océan one way turning right and find your parking. This is the Cantine beach and the after the children playground in a still grassy area facing the beach you see the big blockhouses rising before you one after the other.  They are all near the sand or beach, and then behind are other buildings some semi submerge in the land on the other side of a narrow road. There are panels to explain what they are.

It is a mood time to reflect on the times then and what we have now and to protect the balance without injustices as happened before.  It is a must for all to come and see them and especially our young adults so they learn the lessons of history head on.

Enjoy the photos and have a great time as we did in Noirmoutier island or Noirmoutier-en-île. Cheers.

La Guériniére La Guériniére La Guériniére La Guériniére La Guériniére La Guériniére La Guériniére La Guériniére


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April 7, 2017

You know the Vendée, Noirmoutier island, part IIII

And the saga of Noirmoutier continues with this the 4th version. Read on;;;;;

As said, it is a very nice island off the continent of France link by two passages via road. One is a big bridge or pont de Noirmoutier  since 1971 ;which was nice. The next one is the one we took on the way back, and it is at water level well underwater lol!!

The other way is the Passage du Gois which is a submersible road located between the bay of Bourgneuf that link the island of Noirmoutier at the town of Barbâtre with the continent on the town of Beauvoir sur Mer in the department of the Vendée No 85. The crossing can be done in voiture, bike or on foot only in low tide because at high tide is completely covered by the sea! It is a bit over 4 kms long (about 2.4 miles) and water can be as much as 4 meters deep (about 13 feet).

During the high tides, the place is known for fishing on foot and you can see the folks doing that while crossing it. In the Bay around it you can harvest clams, cockles, and oysters. The oysters are ,also, developed ,because the Gois allows access at low tide to the oyster locations. You see the cages as you drive by too!

Paving of the road has been made between 1935 and 1939, in a time of two hours at low tide twice a day. At the end of this work, the Gois passage became passable. Even today, one observe this paving characteristic on a large portion of the passage even if a part has been paved.  The ride can be bumpy to some.

You have all the information you need in French at this site:

And the tourist office has more in English with a nice picture of the road covered with water in high tide! here:

The road is part of the road D948 but the passage is known as far back as 820AD when texts mentioned of the difficulty of passing due to dead water or high tides! It was heavily guarded by the Nazis who controlled it in WWII guarding the mouth of the bay of Saint Nazaire. There is another bridge here that we took call the Pont de Saint Nazaire and below it are the shipyards of the big cruise ships such as Harmony of the Seas.

There is,also, a famous running/walking course call the Crowds of Gois that will be done in June, Les Foulées du Gois ,more here in French:

This is the tourist site of the area and Beauvoir sur Mer:

And here it gives you the low and high tides hours in 2017, you can loaded on top in pdf file and print it:

You must adhere to these hours religiously as the crossing is considered dangerous, the high tide comes in rather quickly and once in the crossing there is no way out. Lately, there has been no deadly episodes but many rescues with cars lost !

The reason is there is only a narrow road each way and there is lots of traffic, very popular and you cannot drive fast but only at 50 kph or about 35 mph.

It’s an experience and for the road warrior like me it was wonderful to have the feeling of cutting the ocean driving on land that can submerge under the sea! Love it:: recommended!

Enjoy the photos and the experience of an unique way of travel in my belle France! Cheers

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April 7, 2017

You know the Vendée, Noirmoutier island, part III

Continuing the saga of my visit to the island of Noirmoutier last week, this is as seen the 3rd episode!

To recall their tourist office is here:

Easy to get there south of Nantes and from there take the bus 13 here, that is from the Nantes train station if coming by the airport take the airport shuttle bus for 8,50€ to the train station then the bus 13 to Noirmoustier. By road from Nantes along the D723 direction Bouguenais ,then sucessives roads D751, D758 , D22 direction of the D38 La Guérinière turn off in traffic circle to Noirmoustier.

The island is ideal to walk and take a bike as well, nice views and beautiful seashores. On this posting I would to talk apart about the island of butterflies or île aux papillons.

This is very educational for the whole family right out of Noirmoustier direction La Guériniére on  the road D948 past the Intermarché supermarket take a right and see the signs for it. Open April,May,and September ;Mondays to Fridays from 14h to 19h and June,July, and August every day from 10h to 19h30. Admission is 8,80€ adult. Free parking and picnic area available.

The enclosed garden is kept at 26C or about 79F and see hundreds of butterflies from Guyana, Kenya, Madagascar, Costa Rica, and the Philippines!  You will see the stand where they are born and kept until able to fly almost a 1000 of them.  This is claim to be the largest butterfly greenhouse in France.

There is an AC room showing a film on the life of the butterfly, as well as a boutique with souvenirs of the butterfly world and refreshments. The greenhouse has many plants attractive to butterflies such as banana trees and ponds ,one with red fish in it ,rather big lol! You ,also ,will see a section on the back with quails of China these are small chicken like animals very delicious but here they look cute ::)

More info here in French:

A nice family experience and something to do after a beach day I would say.  Families with kids under 15 will enjoy it most me think. Ours are young men so it was a quick tour.

Enjoy the island living it is best and of course when in France oh là là là là là and là là!!! Cheers

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April 6, 2017

You know the Vendée, Noirmoutier island, part II

Noirmoustier Noirmoustier Noirmoustier Noirmoustier Noirmoustier Noirmoustier Noirmoustier Noirmoustier Noirmoustier Noirmoustier Noirmoustier NoirmoustierOk so now taking over from my personal trip to the Vendée , the continuation of the visit to Noirmoutier-en-île.

It was the leisure walk on the town knowing that this is an island that is only 18 kms long by a width that goes from 500 meters to 12 kms for a total area of 49 km2. Ok if my non metric background tells me correctly this is about 11 miles long by from 800 feet to 7 miles for a total area of 19 square miles.

So the water is all around you , and the architecture resembles more of a Spanish white town of Andalucía than all the way north in the Vendée of France.

The digue or dam all along the canal into the harbor area is lovely and nice plaques announcing historical events abound. This was done by Jean Corneille Jacobsen starting from 1818.  This took an area of about 59 hectares or 146 acres.

There is a lovely square Place Saint Louis where the nice restaurants we ate in one, and lovely architecture. There is a pretty Carrousel ride on the square or Place de la République at Noirmoustier which is grand as there is also a covered market there.  More on them here:

And more on them here in English as well :

A bit more on the Jacobsen family, very much part of this island since the 1700’s ; here is more in French from the tourist office:

You have a beautiful harbor with the dams as explain in English at the tourist office site. The port is split in two and separated by the Place d’Armes (where the castle is located) : Quai Cassard, named after the ship’s captain, and Quai Jean Bart, descendant of the Jacobsen family, both seafarers at the end of the 17th century. More here

At the harbor and the market you can find the very best from the region and especially the fish and seafood is fresh and abundant beautifully displayed in the stands. More on this culinary discovery which sure will take us back is here in English:

In all a wonderful time in a pretty island off the mainland of the Vendée or Poitou of France; my belle France! Enjoy it as I do everyday ;Cheers





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April 3, 2017

You know the Vendée, Noirmoutier island, part I

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis is the beginning of several posts on the Vendée old region of France , historically proud and independent not a fan of the French revolution.   It is today in the region of Pays de la Loire; but it was the historical province of Poitou, specifically the department correspond to the old Bas-Poitou.

I have passed by here many times , but as always in my belle France, there is so much to see and do ,little time , will need a lifetime ::) However, this Sunday I took a decision to go and visit in the island of Noirmoutier and it was a pleasant surprise or rather I knew it would be beautiful !

the department tourist office is here in English:

And the island of Noirmoutier tourist office is here n English:

We rode by car of course, the best way to travel in country. taking the N165 down from me is about 2h45 and 207 kms. We cut by Pont Chateau D773 to the N171 and then , the Pont de Saint Nazaire on the D213 or Route Bleue towards Bourneuf -en-Retz, to Bouin on the D758  onwards to Beauvoir sur Mer ,then get on the D22 to Fromentine, and there take the D38 at La Barre de Monts ,and on the bridge or pont de Noirmoustier.  The ride was wonderfully good and easy with great sites along the ocean and marine terminals and the marais Breton or Breton marshes!

We passed once on the island the town of Barbâtre and its windmills or moulins. The nice intermarché supermarket at La Guériniére. Here there is a nice monument stone to a fallen B17 US crew in WWII; and the beach or Plage de la Cantine (more in other posts see one photo here).

All the way to the bus station or gare routiére  in Noirmoustier, with the bus 13 that makes runs of about 2hrs to Nantes as well as 171 to La-Roche-sur-Yon. You see a small aquarium or Sealand, a bit smallish for 13€ is a bit expensive but it is right in the digue or canal out to sea. There is a nice petit train or small train ride out from Place d’Armes.

And the historical home of the Oratoire de Sainte Marie de Euphrasie Pelletier.  The Saint was born here in 1796 with the name Rose Virginie Pelletier and was canonize in 1940. She left us in 1868 at the age of 72. It now houses the religious order of the Bon Pasteur  for the retirement periods which they purchased in 1951.  The order joined with those of Notre Dame  de Charité in 2004. This house is the birthplace of the Saint.

There is ,also, a petit train or little train rides from the Place d’Armes by the castle. As well as a nice Hôtel de Ville or city hall building on the Place de l’hôtel de ville. You see an interesting stone by the digues on the canal of the anchor stone of the boat that brought St James or Santiago de Compostela to Padron, and both cities are twin so the gift to this island.

Then, there is the Les Salorges, old salt storage buildings now use as a cultural center for theater plays, concerts etc facing the canal out to sea.

In all a wonderful day sunny nice and full of visitors! The first day of tourist season and it was packed, things look rosy in the coming weeks and months for Noirmoutier island or Noirmoutier-en-île.

Barbâtre and its beaches here:

And its windmills here:

traffic on the bridge or Pont de Saint Nazaire here :

The bridge or pont de Noirmoutier here :

The great and handy Intermarché supermarket at La Guériniére here:

The monument to the fallen crew of the US B17 here: (great photos) !

Plage de la Cantine or Cantine Beach in La Guériniére and other beaches on the island here:

Gare Routiére or bus terminal at Noirmoutier here:

the aquarium SeaLand here:

The founders of the order included Sainte Marie here in French:

On the Oratoire more here in French:

The city of Noirmoutier city hall here:

And the petit train or Noirmut’train  site here:—balades-en-petit-train

On the stone of St James from Padron to Noirmoustier in French here:

The Salorges cultural center more here:


Barbatre La Guériniére La Guériniére La Guériniére  Noirmoustier  Noirmoustier  Noirmoustier  Noirmoustier  Noirmoustier  Noirmoustier  Noirmoustier  Noirmoustier  Noirmoustier Saint Nazaire Saint Nazaire Saint Nazaire Saint Nazaire


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March 6, 2017

Salon des Vins et de la Gastronomie , Vannes 2017

Here I just came back in time on Sunday to go to this wonderful event in my area and in many other places…in France. The Salon des Vins et de la Gastronomie is wonderful with the best real producer of the la vie en France.

I wrote on it back on the 2014 edition, here:

The latest one it shows the salon has grown and is full of success.  This year it was held on March 3-6, and at the same spot on the Parc Expo Chorus in our Parc du Golfe, Vannes.  this is it with all the events and how to get there;

There were many activities schedule from March 4 like tasting a tarte au citron meringuée, or a lemon tart with meringue. Crêpes, vegetables cooking, and recipes by Alain Chartier the chocolat men here. It showcase the first site for vegan or vegetarians call VegOresto and the site is

There were a big space for a food court to try the oysters, cold cuts, crêpes, mushrooms omelettes, and the Gambrinus restaurant. Also, big chalets on how to better cook and eat with cutlery stands, plastics containers, and the Ets Radigue on pots and pans and utensils we purchase; one pot and one pan with cover all French made both for 140 euros. Genuine stuff for the real cooker in you ::) You can only find them in fairs like this one, they are at 1, Lot. De la Ratonnerie – Le Bignon 45210 FERRIERES FRANCE Tél : +33 238909630.

On the gastronomie side we were pleasantly surprise to find our favorite Basques here! the Maison Castellou from Saint Jean Pied du Port were here! and we got it all, and gifts given to us too. Not to leave out the Les Saveurs Catalans for their wonderful sausages, the L’Oliveraie with its olives and tapenades , the local honeys and soaps from honey of the Miellerie de Huelgoat with 18 different kinds of honey! ,Atout Fruit Sec with all fruits in dry form or gelly, and of course many many more.

There were cocktails, spirits presentation of many kinds including the local Chouchen honey base drink.  Then, you had the wines oh la la la!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There were producers from Alsace such as Domaine Fleischer, Beaujolais (where we met a wonderful couple of Le Bourlay Patrick and Odile) we purchase Juliénas and Brouilly. The big daddy Bordeaux from Chateau Dillon,and La Rose Pauillac(!had it) Chateau Mercier, etc. Moving on to Bourgogne, with the same couple as above and several more stands, Champagne was here with some local producers such as Robert-Allait, and Godmé Sabine (we had!); Charentes region with its cognacs, Languedoc-Roussillon with the Banyuls and Mas Amiel and many others.

We went down to Provence and Corse, with the Bandol of L’Oliveraie. My favorite Sud-Ouest region with Domaine Lamothe wonderful Gaillac (we had and on my wife’s father side home turf); the Vallée du Rhône had its many with the Condrieu and Côte Rotie of Domaine de Boisseyt-Chol,and the Châteauneuf du pape of Clos Val Seille.

And we end up in our now backyard with the wines of the Vallée de la Loire. You have the Vouvrays of the Caves Rougebec Vouvray (we had), and Earl Bergers Fréres with the wonderful whites of Montlouis-sur-Loire ,and by now our friends of Earl Cousseau Boireau vignobles de la Roudaie and its Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil reds and rosés! All magical.

More on this one and the others coming up all over France check it out here in French bien sûr ::)

You should come by ,they are back in November this year same place. check it out, its all worth it.

Enjoy it ,la vie est belle en France ::) Salut!

Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes