Archive for ‘France’

October 23, 2020

France: Christmas and New Year’s!!!

Ok so this is a nice subject and the best part of the year for many including us.  I have several posts on the festivities over the years, but in some older years I like to condense them in this post. Anyway, today everything starts earlier lol! And of course, the text has been modified and update with current information.

This was 2012, Happy New Year to all my readers and friends. Walking Versailles is always glorious and seeing its vibrant streets again is super, now at Christmas time,the lights, the ambiance is great. The ice skating ring at the Hôtel de Ville for the kids is nice too. The city seems full, lots of folks to catch the last days hours of the wonderful castle museum. It was a wonderful visit back to our old home!!

Well just arrived from a wonderful trip to Brussels and its almost 21H or 9pm here in Brec’h Morbihan Bretagne France!!! rainy all way and all week but we didn’t feel it lol!!! Just want to write a post without a picture to say thank you all for following my humble blog and wishing you the best for 2013 to you and yours. And wait until i get those photos loaded for more posts from Brussels.

This is a wonderful period anywhere we were. Mine for the last 9.5 years have been held in the Paris/Versailles region with exception years in Madrid, Brussels, Trier(Germany), and now Pluvigner in the Morbihan breton. The Christmas dinner or the menu de Noêl is a wonderful family dinner that many can recreate in many restaurant all over France just with a special menu for the occassion.  Here we eat oysters, salmon, rooster, leg of ham, roast pork as the main dish, depending on the region; with the famous Bûche de Noêl dessert , or Christmas yule log as best translation can find in English.

Some of the places to be part of it in Paris that we have particularly enjoyed were:

Chez Françoise, Esplanade des Invalides  Aérogare Air France,  rue Robert-Esnault-Pelterie if you come on foot or rue Paul et Jean Lerolle if you come by automobile, 75007. webpage: https://chezfrancoise.com/

Cuba Compagnie Cafe,48 blvd Beaumarchais ,75011. Webpage: https://www.cubacompagnie.com/

Restaurant La Gare,19 Chaussée de la Muette  75016 .webpage: http://www.lagare-paris.com/

For a New Year’s meal and party I love the memories on these ones:

The Revéillon at New Morning club is fantastic, 7-9, Rue des Petites Ecuries, 75010. webpage: https://www.newmorning.com/

In addition to those above, I had like the Blue Elephant thai food par excellent in Paris. at 43-45 Rue de la Roquette Paris 75011. webpage: https://www.blueelephant.com/

I love this one and in the news for the sad events of terrorism in Paris, it has come back. The best events in my opinion, was held at the Bataclan, 50 bd Voltaire, 75011. All starts from 21h45 until 06H, several packs available. DJ sexy show, dancers, lights, confettis,dance floor of 1000 sq meters, with giant screens all over. Wonderful place for many years .webpage: https://www.bataclan.fr/

Le Ciel de Paris, 33 Avenue du Maine, 75015.  at the 56th floor  Tour Montparnasse with wonderful views of Paris! webpage: http://www.cieldeparis.com/fr/infos-pratiques.html

If you prefer the compounds of a hotel surrounded by history of France, then I suggest the Westin Paris Hotel, 3 Rue de Castiglione, 75001. metro Concorde or Tuileries lines 1,8,12. Here servers were dressed in grand Siécle or century style with dresses from the times of the 17C and 18C accompanying each dish, and music of the times. This was the old Intercontinental hotel I was based there to cover all of France for IHG. It is now name the Westin Paris Vendôme part of the Marriott chain. webpage here: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/parvw-the-westin-paris-vendome

At the other property , we had the Le Grand Intercontinental and the Café de la Paix, unique, wonderful, still is. For the New Year’s Day or January , the Cafe de la Paix (decorated by Charles Garnier... ) offer an exceptionally great buffet brunch from 11h to 17h call brunch gargantuesque. Rose champagne and small dishes tapas style created by the Chef. For the kids a special place will be reserved with accordingly portions. Of course, read it is under renovation and open early 2021. webpage: https://www.cafedelapaix.fr/fr/

Another memorable spot was the Les Pavillons des étangs, 50 rue de l’Etoile, 75016. From 20h to 05h. Les deux étangs will open the door exceptionally  in a monument historic of Paris with a majestic park,  400 m² of dancefloor, 300m² of winter garden, 600m² of green garden heated area,a decorated chalet, 2 bars, space VIP  ,and a vast free parking. webpage: https://www.pavillonsdesetangs.fr/

And of course why not talk about my beloved Versailles, where the great ice skating ring was always an event and still does. Next to the Hôtel de Ville , it was opened  from November 23 to January 6 2013 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays,and Fridays from 14H to 19H and on wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10h-12h and 14h- 19h. During school vacation it was opened every day from  10h-12h and 14h-20h.

There were many events from chocolate making to theater playing at Monpensier theater, and the town is fully light up for the season, magical indeed. The district or neighborhoods will be the events of Noël aux Carrés Saint-Louis (Cathedral St Louis side) usually from  December 15 and 16 from  10h to 19h,  the merchants will have a real Christmas market or marché de Noël  with oysters, food and entertainement.

And yes! my district had the Noël  in  Notre-Dame (my old home!!) events at  place Charost , December 15 and 22, musical entertainment outdoors by the rue de la Paroisse on Dec  22 and 24 .  Noël in the district of  Montreuil : music of Noêl by rue de Montreuil with customs dresses and snow man as well as Noêl arriving in carriage on the 22 December.

For the serious side of Christmas there were a Christmas Mass held at Eglise Notre-Dame (the collegiale) Dec 24 at 18h, 20h, 22h. Dec 25 at  10h30, 18h30. Inside the chateau at the Chapelle Royale, Dec 24 at 22h ,and at the Cathédrale Saint-Louis, Dec 24 at 19h, 22h15  awaiting and mass at  23h, and December 25 at 11h.

My favorites restaurants such as Au chien qui fume, 72 Rue de la Paroisse 78000; always had  a special menu . Webpage: https://www.lechienquifume.com/

And our all time favorite Christmas, New Year’s or otherwise was the Le Boeuf à la Mode ,4 rue au Pain 78000; webpage: https://www.leboeufalamode-versailles.com/

For the comfort of visitors and Parisiens alikethe public transport system was always opened for extended hours and FREE!! this was usually from Friday December 31 at 17h to Saturday january 1 at 12h (12 midday).  This includes all bus, trains, trams, or RER in all of the Ile de France region not just the city of Paris but all its region.  Most metro stations will remain open until 02h15 (2:15 am), and some like the lines 1,2,4,6,9,and 14  will remain open all night until 05h30 (5:30am) . The Noctilien night transport service will be adapted to go in extra renforcement of needed areas of the SNCF/RATP system all night from 0h30 (12:30 am) to 05h30 (5:30am). Check for this year, schedules at official webpage: https://www.ratp.fr/en/visite-paris/english/visiting-paris-and-its-surrounding-areas

In my new area the festivities are less, at Auray , at the historical Chapelle St Esprit ,Place du Four Mollet,  they had a Christmas market or Marché de Noêl , for several years. Usually, Friday December 14 from  10h -19h, Saturday December 15 and Sunday December 16 from  10h -19h. Many artisans artist will show their work with gourmet ,food,and gifts displays for the season. Webpage: http://www.morbihan-tourism.co.uk/auray/chapelle-du-saint-esprit/tabid/8474/offreid/7e87038d-cd73-49e0-a688-32991827b894

And there you go a sampler, historical but repetitive, looking forward to 2020, and hope things will be better than now with the virus. The period is special and hope it continues to be this year. Best wishes for all

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

October 22, 2020

Some news from France, CCCXVIIII

And things are moving right along with the new trend covid19 and the fears eminating from governments without telling you the real story. I have contracts but will tell you briefly as some information is already surfacing. Oh yes the weather is cloudy, cool in my neck of the woods and looming colder now at 12C or about 54F. In our eternal Paris;;;; it is 16C or about 61F.

On this past Wednesday October 14,2020; the government of France had taken a new step by imposing a curfew in Île-de-France region and in eight metropolitan cities . The measure, implemented since this past Saturday, then concerned the Paris Ïle de France region but also Grenoble, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Montpellier, Lille, Saint-Etienne, Rouen and Toulouse. From Ile-de-France and eight cities since last Saturday, we go to 54 departments this Saturday. The other departments that are on this constraints are the

Seine-Maritime, Hérault, Haute-Garonne, Bouches-du-Rhône, Nord, Rhône, Loire, and Isère. In particular, there are Ain,   Alpes-Maritimes, Ardèche, Ardennes Ariège, Aube, Aveyron, Bas-Rhin Calvados, the Sud Corsica, the Côte d ‘Or., Drôme, Gard, Haute-Corse, Haute-Loire, Haute-Savoie, Haute-Vienne, Hautes-Alpes, Hautes-Pyrénées, Ille-et-Vilaine, Indre- et-Loire, Jura, Loiret, Lozère, Maine-et-Loire, Marne, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Oise, Pas-de-Calais, Puy-de-Dôme, Pyrenees -Atlantiques, Pyrénées-Orientales, Saône-et-Loire, Savoie, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Var, Vaucluse. Added to this list is an overseas territory, Polynesia.

The rules are the same, all should be close between 21h and 6h for 4 weeks, maybe 6: Only certain reasons are exempt like coming home from work, arriving from a long trip, taking your dog out can be waived, provided that you have a correctly completed derogatory certificate. The “rule of six”, sucha as not to meet with more than six persons for private events (dinner with friends, birthday party, etc.). The news is that across France, the occupancy rate of Covid patients in intensive care is 44%. Nevertheless, 50% of intensive care patients are under 50 yrs old. Regarding screening, there is a rise from 1.1 million tests to 1.6 million tests per week in 15 days,these according to the current government figures.

You know it all started in Wuhan China? yes it seems many has already forgotten this small detail… The first news was that it came from an animal etc, and we /I saw the Chinese army forcing people into their homes there as well as initial doctors who spoked were taken off the radar never to be heard again. Well there is a biological warfare laboratory there P4 maximum security, it is said to be done with French technical help in 2015. There was a leak and the rest is the Wuhan virus oh no it was called coronavirus and then to be more politically correct its the covid19 now. Well one virologist from Qingdao (see my post ) did escape thru Hong Kong and now in the USA. Her name is Li-Meng Yan. More info:  https://www.foxnews.com/world/chinese-virologist-coronavirus-cover-up-flee-hong-kong-whistleblower

I know this is not travel news but the situation is so critical now we need to speak up the truth. Hope it helps you understand.

In more travel related and back to my blog there are some news in France to tell you all.

Where can you find exceptional chocolates, high quality smoked salmon, rare spices, spirits or artisanal aperitif biscuits? Very often, they are sold exclusively in the 4000 or so delicatessens in France (yes indeed!!). To promote these passionate merchants and producers, the professional magazine “Le Monde de l’Épicerie fine” has created the “Epicures”, the equivalent of the César, an event which is in its 7th edition. The winners and picking just some at random are for the grocers, Mademoiselle Amande, in Vincennes (Val-de-Marne 94) was awarded the Epicure of the Year 2020. Another award-winning brand, born from a joke between friends: the “French Federation of the aperitif ». With its points of sale in Paris and Lille and its online store. This federation for laughs offers wines, beers, cold meats, spreads and other chips made in France, everything for a successful aperitif. In terms of artisans, among those who won gold, we can cite Lissip, a Parisian producer of fruit syrups without additives, distinguished for its syrup with ginger, apple and hibiscus; the Saint-Christophe cannery, in the Bay of Somme, for its delicious mackerel rillettes with bitter beer; Café Pfaff, a Parisian roaster, for its “house blend”; or the Biscuiterie du Fort Bloque, Ploemeur , Morbihan, for its buckwheat and spirulina shortbread.

The residents of the avenue de Breteuil go to war against the Wall for Peace memorial. Deconstructed from the Champ-de-Mars to make way for the ephemeral Grand Palais, the controversial monument must be located on avenue de Breteuil 15éme arrondissement. On the spot, petitions, appeals and criticisms fuse to stop this move. Paris of today!

When the city/town hall calls on Parisians to give their idea on the transformation of parking spaces, the head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry wants to make the voice of the business world heard. The President of the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI), launches an appeal to economic players. He invites on Twitter business leaders, traders, artisans and all those who bring Paris to life “to make concrete proposals on professional mobility in a changing world”. It should not be that only Parisians who do not have a car and represent 50% of the population answer the questionnaire launched by the city/town hall of Paris. Economic actors who need to travel by car must also provide their opinion on the issue. Bien sùr Paris!

Unveiled with great fanfare last week, the new metro line 14 train has not carried passengers since. This new metro only carried passengers once, the time of an inaugural return trip between Olympiades and Saint-Lazare. Since then, its commissioning has been delayed. Oh yes public transport like this and roads are closed !!

And not enough the train users between Oise (dept 60) and Paris are “on edge”.  TER train users deplore a continuous deterioration of the service, in particular on the “Picard Y” line where the regularity of trains is deteriorating. Trains late, canceled … The daily life of train users between Oise and Paris can be painful. It’s been like this for a long time but nothing is done, for public transports!!

In Paris ,the museums, online booking is gaining ground. The success of the exhibitions devoted to Danish painting at the Petit Palais (8éme) and Coco Chanel at the Galliera Palace (16éme) is such that these two institutions – whose capacity is limited to 200 people – now require online reservations.  Currently, the Petit Palais and Galliera are exceptions to the rule in force at Paris-musées (an entity bringing together the 14 museums of the City of Paris: museum of modern art, Balzac house, etc.). In order not to exclude people who do not have Internet access, they do not impose online booking but recommend it. Visitors who do not reserve in advance should expect to queue, possibly not being able to enter if the gauge is full. Of course, you are better off buying ahead to all these places of tourist interest in France.

A giant solar power plant will be built in the visitor parking lot of Disneyland Paris.  It will be one of the largest sites in Europe using solar panels, on 17 hectares above the parking spaces. When complete in 2023, part of the installation will even feature a Mickey Mouse head visible from the sky. By 2023, the project will have 17 hectares of photovoltaic shade houses and 67,500 solar panels. That will look good to the local politicians lol!

The museums no longer let their funds sleep in their basements, they are devoting more and more exhibitions to these previously invisible works. This is good because I can tell plenty is there! The Pont-Aven Museum has during the lockdown, Internet users were able to draw around thirty works online out of the 2,000 stored. This joyfully participatory operation gave rise to the exhibition “Reserve, open up!” , Which opens on October 17. until   January 3, 2021. Indeed a very nice museum see post in my blog.

And this is it for now folks a short one and a hot one. Hope you enjoy your travels whenever and wherever you can. Keep Safe !

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

October 20, 2020

At Hamm, the American braves RIP!

So let me tell you about a spot that I visited on my road warrior way to see the whole of Luxembourg. I have heard about it but on this trip decided to stop by ,just to pay my respects. I will tell you a bit about the American Cemetery of Hamm, just a district of Luxembourg city.

This is an area I have passed by and always left out, so now took the family in and it was great, glad it was done.  By taking the A3 into Luxembourg and then going around the beltway on the A1 ,and get off at N2 you come into signs on Reimech that also tell you of the cemetery. The actual town on which the cemetery is call Hamm.

First, a bit of history that I like.  Hamm is one of the 24 districts of Luxembourg-city. It was a town of the canton of Luxembourg from December 20, 1873, when it was separated from the town of Sandweiler, to March 26, 1920 when it was integrated into the city of Luxembourg with Hollerich and Rollingergrund The origin of Hamm dates back to the monastery Sainte Catherine founded in the 14C, around which a village developed.

The area is served by Cents-Hamm train station. More info here:  https://www.cfl.lu/en-gb/network/station/gare-de-cents-hamm

In addition, a bus connection guarantees access to the city center with bus 15. Also, bus lines 25 and 29 serves Hamm. More info here: https://www.vdl.lu/fr/se-deplacer/en-bus/horaires-et-depart-en-temps-reel/lignes/2-8

The city of Luxembourg on the district of Hamm in English: https://www.vdl.lu/en/city/glance/luxembourg-citys-24-districts/hamm

Since 1944 the district has been home to the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial, a cemetery of American soldiers who fought in WWII and the Battle of the Bulge, including General Patton. This cemetery has 5,076 graves of American soldiers who fell during the Battle of the Bulge during the winter of 1944-1945. General George S. Patton , who died after the war in a car accident, also rests there. The commander of the 3rd US division had expressly expressed the wish to be buried near his men. Next to the chapel, the names, ranks and units of 371 missing American soldiers are inscribed on two rectangular pylons.

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The entrance is nice and has a wrough iron arch door, with a welcoming house on the left. As you go in, sheer adreline pumps up with so many beautiful crosses. The stone plaque on the floor tells of the debt of gratitude we owe these men. There is a tower with a female angel, and the inscription “Here is enshrined the memory of valor and sacrifice”. There are huge stone walls depicting the battle movement and on the back the names of the fallen. Inside the tower, there is a nice chapel with flanks US flags and the inscription ” I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish”.

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IT should be more than a tourist trip, very educational and moving place which all should see. Hamm remember them.

The American Battle Monument Association keeps it clean managed the cemetery. More info in their webpage here: https://www.abmc.gov/Luxembourg

The Luxembourg tourist board on the cemetery memorial at Hamm here: https://www.visitluxembourg.com/en/place/misc/american-military-cemetery-luxembourg-hamm

And for the most famous name buried there , General George Patton, US 3rd army , thank you Sir. More info from official webpage here: http://www.pattonhq.com/funeral.html

And now I feel better to show this post in my blog, well deserve by all freedom loving persons in the world. Hamm is special indeed and glad I was there. Hope you enjoy the post.

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

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October 20, 2020

Koblenz , a revisit!!

I like to update this post with new text and different photos than originally done back in 2015. Things change and like to have it with fresh text and better choice of photos. Bear with me folks!

We were on our road warrior trips with the family base near Trier and we decided to go away into the center and we pick Koblenz, a nice city on the rivers Moselle and Rhine or the German corner or Deutsche Eck (see post). The city is very nice and great for walking.

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We arrive by car from Trier on the 602 ,then 1, B48 and finally the 9 roads or about 3 hrs. We entered the city and park at the Schängel Center underground, nice and all around you to walk. More on the center parking here: https://www.parkme.com/en-gb/lot/352393/schngel-center-koblenz-rp-germany

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As always recommended when in town for the first time, we immediately headed for the tourist office in the Forum Confluentes  building across the street. There is a boutique and several shops as well rather nice airy clean we like it. City of Koblenz in English here: https://www.koblenz-tourism.com/culture/koblenz-attractions/forum-confluentes.html

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After some shopping there, we move on on foot. And we went into Forum Mittelrhein because my boys saw a Saturn electronic store they know from the Paris region so again another nice shopping mall. More on them here: https://www.forum-mittelrhein.com/shops/alle/SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

By Friedrich-Ebert-Ring 41 street we came across an imposing belltower Church of Christ (see post).   We did walk a lot as the city is marvelous with great architectures and figurines on the streets with fountains sometimes; we reach another Chapel of John the Baptist (see photo) who was mentioned for the first time in 1321 with the Jesuists ;located at An Der Liebfraunkirche street. We continue by Florinsmarkt , we reach the Church of St Florin or Florinskirche. (see post).

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And we reach the German corner or deutchen eck with the huge statue of emperor William I (see post) of Germany and overlooking the river Moselle and Rhine with the great cable car to the fortress above and the quaint restaurants along the riverbank . Here we had a nice German meal with sausages and a good Kronenbacher beer! at the  Eiscafe am deutchen eck ; they have a Facebook page but their original page cannot go in so maybe gone, again here just for the family memories: Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Eiscafe.am.deutschen.Eck/

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We continue on the Basilica of St Castor , a huge wonderful Church that is in itself a must to see. (See post). Right around it you see the Ludwig museum , (see photo)  there is a wonderful fountain such as the Historiensaeule in Josef-Görres-Platz (square).(see photo) Passing by the Rathaus or city hall (see photo) . A wonderful town and good idea we decided to visit it. Certainly worth coming back here.

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The tourist office of Koblenz in English here: https://www.koblenz-tourism.com/

And there you go an overview of Koblenz as already plenty of posts on its sights in my blog. Feel better with updated text and new photos. Hope you enjoy the post as I do.

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

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October 20, 2020

Dusseldorf for the memories!

So here I am on a cold sunny day in my neck of the woods and remembering trips passed, trying to bring them to life again. Of course, I have written before on Dusseldorf, Germany but this is new text and new photos. Hope you enjoy it.

I  admit, Germany always is a gravity pull, and been there on business and family trîps, and cousin married to one.. This time went for a short spell on business to a new city on my map, Dusseldorf, wonderful! I like to tell you briefly and remind myself of the souvenirs of the visit.

It was during the Christmas season ,so plenty of Christmas markets in the zentrum or center, and we did walk the nights away. The Konigsallee area is gorgeous, and the hotel I stayed is the best, know it well because worked on them in management years ago in France. The best way is by taxi only 21 euros at the time, the train is about 6 euros at the time, but need to have changes, and no need to start your trip stress out with these taxpayer supported schemes.

The airport was great too, very clean, and friendly even without speaking German. I try the restaurant on the travel gallery on the E3 level , Das Gasthaus , more chow, this time flaky meaty fish, mashed potatoes, and the same nutty walnut cake type with a large Becks beer lol! A different way to arrive at a city lol! then went out to my hotel! Always goood to revise the posts as again another that bites the dust the resto is no longer there!! So again ,just for the memories.

The Dusseldorf airport webpage is here in English: https://www2.dus.com/en

dusseldorf airport departure level stores nov11

The airport has connection by train, bus, taxi, etc very well connected to city center. The site above will tell you only the S-Bahn S11 train stops at the Düsseldorf Airport Terminal station in the basement of the terminal building. There are several buses too to different locations. Eventually did not tried any of these. I use the taxi , even recommended by the local Germans! However, I saw the rate already up I paid 21 euros and now it says 28!!

The walks in the zentrum old city center was great, full of life nothing left unseen, the people were in their best moods. The bars were full, we had a great time at the Intercontinental Hotel lobby bar, and then went on to check out the two next ones that are a must for everyone visiting the city. The hotel webpage in English: https://www.ihg.com/intercontinental/hotels/gb/en/dusseldorf/dusha/hoteldetail

I like the fact that just out of hotel the Konigsallee street and district is very nice to walk even at nights. The Düssel river passing was perfect with good friends and good cheers and a bit of Paris! Too bad this time not enough time to see much other than the culinary delights which are always welcome by yours truly.

The tourist office of Dusseldorf in English is here: https://www.duesseldorf-tourismus.de/en/

And the city of Dusseldorf page on Konigsallee district is here in English! https://www.duesseldorf.de/international/tourism/discover/koe.html

However, the highlight of the visit was going with friends to eat at a wonderful steakhouse with great wines selection. For the best steaks western style and wines galore head for the The Classic Western Steakhouse, Tubmannstrr 12 with top US beef with sound of country music and old western photos all over the walls,huge and delicious. I had the regular cut of juicy steak, mashed potatoes, nutty cake for dessert which I even forgot its German name, and share a bottle of 2008 Errazuriz Chilean red wine. More info here in German: https://steakhouse-duesseldorf.de/

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The next evening we went for old German chow, of beef and potatoes and green beens at a place where the beer never stop coming, I had ten glasses!!, and it was delicious, we walk home lol! This was at Brauerie Schumacher, Oststr 123. The brewery been there since 1838, pub with beautiful wood carvings, we went to the back a special room for us lol!!. More info here in German: https://www.schumacher-alt.de/index2.html

And it was time the next morning to say goodbye. Always tough to leave a place you had such a good time. I am very attaching and probably will find it well to even live there already!! nahh just kidding….

I started my return to Nantes airport direct flight , easy quick in and out place, and then my car home in about 1h30, on the N165 expressway. In all a very nice trip, and a discovery is made to come back to Dusseldorf. Hope you share with this post ,for the memories of old and travel thrills!

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

October 19, 2020

My travels in the Morbihan, LXXX!

And here I am back on my miscellaneus tipbits of my beautiful Morbihan dept 56 of lovely Bretagne, and in my belle France. The days are grayer as Fall is here for good, and the temps played the game of cold mornings and late night and pleasant during the day. Currently we have 17C overcast with no rain with this morning been 5C! What is all this to folks not on the metric system , well easy by now for me thinking in both worlds; now 63F and this morning was 41F. And yes time flies fast when having fun, LXXX is my 80th post on my Morbihan! Thanks for reading me!!!

Let me give you some of the latest from my travels or news….of Morbihan.

Vannes Photo Festival until November 1 2020 free festival ; more here : http://www.vannesphotosfestival.fr/

Salon Habitat 240 expositions about furniture, renovation, energy, decoration ecohabitat and gardens/pools . All November 14-16 2020 at Le Chorus expo center of Vannes. https://www.lechorus.com/fr/salons-grand-public/salon-habitat-et-immobilier-de-vannes

Musée de la Cohue, pl St Pierre Vannes, until November 15 showing Terres et Landes showing work from 1850 to 1950 And now all museums in Vannes are free for 18-25 yrs old!  https://www.mairie-vannes.fr/vannesloisirs/musees/musee-des-beaux-arts-la-cohue/

At Océanopolis , port de plaisance du Moulin blanc Brest, showing until November 1 2020 the 20th edition of the Festival du Film de l’Aventure Océanographique!  https://www.oceanopolis.com/festival-du-film-de-laventure-oceanographique

Alrékids, 4 avenue Roland Garros, Auray, 800 m2 games park for kids up to 12 yrs old. Mini karting, escaling wall giant toboggans, tyrollenne, trampolins, monkey bridge, football field and many shows for kids. https://recreatiloups.com/alre-kids-parc-de-jeux-indoor/

Ti Hanok cinema Auray Porte Oceane III Place de l’Europe showing the wonderful French film L’enfant rêvé! On October 28th With Jalil Lespert, Louise Bourgoin, and Mélanie Doutey. Story of folks giving their life to the forest especially those in the Jura and romance of course. https://www.cinematihanok.bzh/prochainement

A new place Awen Brew Pub is now open as a micro artisanal brewery with unique beers such as the Awen Blonde, Triple with an North American inspiration all with meals locally produce, a big meeting room and events like concerts and sporting TV showing. Open 7/7 9h to 01h 1 rue Gilles Gahinet, Parc du Golfe, Vannes. https://www.brasserie-awen.bzh/

Casino de Carnac, 41 avenue des Salines Carnac showing October 23 Hommage à Johnny (Holliday) and on November 8, Olivier Lejeune with his show Mieux vaut en rire, comedy. weppage here: https://www.circuscasino.fr/fr/etablissements/agenda/carnac

The Grand West Festival in Quiberon. 1st edition – Cinema & Literature Meetings sponsored by François Busnel. Weekend organized by Le Paradis Cinema, the City of Quiberon and the Port Maria Bookstore. To accompany the Grand West festival, the Quiberon media library honors its American authors and Gallmeister editions. The exhibition Impressions of America designed by Gallmeister editions presents ten illustrations of his novel covers: how does the illustrator conceive of an original work that resonates with a text? What vision of America is thus conveyed by the creator? Cinema Le Paradis, Rue du Phare Quiberon 56170. https://www.facebook.com/CinemaleParadis/

And the tourist office of the Bay of Quiberon on the Festival:  https://www.baiedequiberon.bzh/a-voir-a-faire/agenda/festival-grand-west-a-quiberon

La Sorcière du Château or sorcerer of the castle presents … Hello little and big monsters, The Witch is organizing a creative week to celebrate Halloween during the following dates: Wednesday October 28: creation of Halloween card with scary seals and waxes (5 €) Thursday October 29: Terrifying Halloween Origami (2 €). Friday October 30: Bookmark in Calligraphy (€ 5) Saturday October 31: Disgusting snack and horrifying Halloween makeup (€ 2). It is preferable to reserve your schedule for the workshops in order to respect our health protocol in the face of CoVid. 24 place St Michel Rochefort en Terre 56220. More here: https://www.facebook.com/La-Sorci%C3%A8re-du-Chateau-466389130595998/?modal=admin_todo_tour

A Castle, a Museum, a full moon, pumpkins … Or the curious ingredients of a visit like no other! From Baudelaire to witches, from the Queen of Swords to pagan celebrations, come and rediscover the origins of Jack 0’Lantern by letting yourself be sprinkled with magic and esotericism. Come celebrate Halloween at the Naïa Museum, for a unique event between myths and reality, art and thrills. October 29, 30, 31 and November 1. Visiting times: 14h to 15h and   15h30. to 17h30 . Prices (guided tour + entrance to the museum): 12€ Full prices, 10€ Reduced prices. Guided tour intended for an audience aged 7 to 77, and beyond! Groups will be made up of a maximum of 10 people per visit. Online reservations only.  14 rue du château Rochefort en Terre 56220. More here: https://www.facebook.com/naiamuseum/

The diversity of Brittany, a land of inspiration for many artists in the 19C and 20C, is still unknown to this day by many of us. Through this exhibition, you will discover the interest shown by some painters both inland and along the coast.  The proposed trip from Faouët to Concarneau will be marked by several stops passing through Scaër and Rosporden, or Bannalec and Pont-Aven, but also through Quimperlé before going along the south coast and reaching the city of Ville-Close. The exhibition will highlight the artists’ artistic and ethnographic view of these people of the sea and land and their world through the seascapes and rural landscapes, as well as the scenes of collective life, animated on festive and market days, or the more intimate scenes of life in the marine and peasant interiors, not to mention the work of their daily lives. Bringing together numerous works from public and private collections, this presentation will also include several paintings from the Faouët Museum’s permanent collection and will be accompanied by a richly documented and illustrated catalogue. 1 rue de Quimper Musée 56320 Le Faouët. More here: https://www.museedufaouet.fr/pages/actu/actualite-exposition-une-famille-d-artistes-au-faouet-169.html

Halloween under the theme “it’s raining, it’s wet it’s the pumpkin party”. This season for the All Saints’ Day holidays, from Saturday October 17 to Sunday November 1, the Ferme du Monde is once again offering Halloween entertainment under the theme “it’s raining, it’s wet it’s the pumpkin party”. On the program, sheltered games for families: guessing games, angling in dark water, spider races, story time, and a haunted house. Not to mention the unconditional ghost train. 2 “flagship” days to note: Wednesday October 21: dog sled animation (demonstrations and petting sessions) and Wednesday October 28: make-up workshop for children from 14h30. Children bringing a Halloween-themed drawing will participate in the draw to win a birthday package for 6 people at the Ferme du Monde (valid for the 2021 season). Finally, to thank the disguised children (up to 12 years old), their entry will be offered to them. La Ferme du monde Carentoir, 56910. More here: https://www.lafermedumonde.com/2018/10/19/journees-halloween/

And there you go folks, short and sassy as the old saying goes;;; nothing to start you off on my Morbihan department fall/winter season. Plenty of things to come, stay tune ok. Thanks for reading me and best wishes for the season ahead.

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

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October 19, 2020

Amsterdam, public transports!

Here is one of my classic posts, as been crazy about road warrior trips I give the impression that I am always in a car ! However, you know that if you live in Europe, public transports is a must. I have taken these in many cities/countries of Europe. One of my fun trips were in Amsterdam! Therefore, let me tell you a bit on public transports there!

Granted, I have driven to Amsterdam too lol! call me crazy but I do not said road warrior for nothing! Love the freedom of the road! The main here is the A10 Ringroad surrounding the city connects Amsterdam with the Dutch national network of freeways. Interchanges allow cars to enter the city by transferring to one of the eighteen city roads, numbered s101 through s118. The s100 is called the centrumring, a smaller ringroad circumnavigating the city center. There are free parkings in Amsterdam but not with security and are rather quickly taken so be aware, anyway these are Spinnerij, Diemen-Zuid, Gaasperplas, and Buikslotermeerplein. To find a covered parking in Amsterdam see the choices at parclick webpage with my favorite Centraal near the train station showing here: https://parclick.com/parking-amsterdam/weparc-valet-amsterdam-centraal-station-cs

ams parking centre near centraal apr13

For the fearful or radical ecolos who do not want to drive into city center, you can choose the P+R (park and relay)» Olympish Stadion . This one is better in off season from tourists as when they are in the most it is full usually. Others are  P + R Sloterdijk and P + R Bos en Lommer, P + R VUmc (weekends only), P + R RAI, P + R ArenA, P + R Zeeburg I, and Zeeburg II. The city of Amsterdam tells you all about their parkings in English here: https://www.amsterdam.nl/en/parking/

My road warrior experience took me into the A4 then A5 in Holland connecting with the A10 to connect with road s109 then s108 ;museumbrug ;Prinsengracht; Westerdokskade, right on De Ruijterkade to  Centraal train station parking! Great city driving!

As per the pure public transports within the city of Amsterdam you a blend of  bicycles and other public transportation.  The city is known as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world and is a center of bicycle culture. Most main streets have bike paths. Bike racks are ubiquitous throughout the city. Bikes can be taken onto tram 26 or the metro but only outside the rush hour (7-9h / 16h-18h30). A bicycle ticket costs 1.80€ and is valid for the entire day. It can be added as a supplement to a personal or anonymous OV-chip card. Alternatively there is a disposable 1 hour card + bicycle which costs 5€. Do check these prices for updates.

Amsterdam has a large collection of canals (see post). In total over 150 of these waterways crisscross the city and its surroundings, dividing the city of Amsterdam into approximately 90 mini islands. This network of islands is joined together by a vast number of bridges, totaling over 1,000. Today these canals are only suitable for smaller barges, pleasure craft and the canal tour boats. There is however one main exception: DHL (my dear late wife Martine wonderful employer in France) has its own DHL parcel boats that delivers packages across town using the old waterways.

ams centraal canals apr13

As you can already notice, public transport in Amsterdam consists of metro, tram, bus and ferry routes operated mainly by GVB, the city-owned public transport operator. Currently, there are 16 different tram routes, and five metro routes. There are also privately operated water taxis, a water bus, a boat sharing operation, electric rental boats (Boaty) and canal cruises, that transport people along Amsterdam’s waterways. A GVB day ticket will give you unlimited traveling with GVB for 1,2,3 , 4,5 up to 7 days ( I have purchased the two days ticket very handy on a OV chipkaart).

The GVB network: https://en.gvb.nl/

ams centraal station right apr13

The metro in Amsterdam is especially efficient to travel to the edges of the city. When exploring the city center trams and buses are more convenient.
The tram is one of the most popular ways of transportation in the city center, the network is large and highly reliable.

it is not possible to travel with standard paper tickets anymore. Traveling using the railway network requires a public transport chip card or a one way ticket. Please note that in order to be able to travel by train the credits on your chip card must be at least  20€. To avoid the hassle of buying a travel ticket seconds before departure of the train it is possible to buy your ticket online. The card to load money is call OV-Chipkaart

Of the 15 tram lines, 9 operate from Amsterdam Centraal train station.  There are 2 tram stop areas on the city side of Amsterdam Centraal station ; one on the eastern side labelled A, for services south- and east-bound, and one on the west side labelled B, for services south- and west-bound. Trams run daily from around 6h(weekdays) and 7h (weekends) to just after midnight.

The GVB tram lines in English: https://reisinfo.gvb.nl/en/lijnen?tram&show

There are 5 metro lines such as M50 , M51, M52, M53, and M54 with a total network length of 43 km which includes 39 stations. The Amsterdam Metro first opened back in 1977. Just for reference as do not like to go underground, want to see the city best above ground.

To move in the harbor, best try a ferry , just for the adventure. Each of these ferries is entirely free to use and there is no ticket required. Ferry services are available for foot passengers, cyclists, and moped users.

ams GVB ferry at port behind centraal apr13

Second best to trams ,use the bus in Amsterdam!  Amsterdam’s public bus system is probably the most extensive service offered by GVB with a total of 35 bus lines taking passengers from the city center to the suburbs. There are also 10 night buses which run after dark from Centraal train station to a variety of locations such as Sloterdijk, IJburg, Nieuwendam, Bijlmer-ArenA and more.

The GVB bus network is here: https://reisinfo.gvb.nl/en/lijnen?bus&show

There are 10 train stations in Amsterdam.  My experience has been with Amsterdam Centraal. From the station there are regular services with destinations in Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Switzerland. The other train station just listing as never used them are Amstel, Bijlmer ArenA . It is close to the Amsterdam ArenA stadium. Holendrecht, Lelylaan, Muiderpoort, RAI Amsterdam Science Parkn Sloterdijk . It allows passengers to change between the directions Amsterdam Centraal, Haarlem, Schiphol and Zaandam.Sloterdijk Hemboog This is an extra stop for trains on the direct railway between Zaandam and Schiphol. Amsterdam Zuid.

ams centraal left side apr13

I have to include here Schiphol Airport which is less than 20 minutes by train from Amsterdam Centraal Station . The Airport Express bus 397 operates between Schiphol and Elandsgracht in central Amsterdam every 15 minutes. However, already have a post on the airport see post!

ams schiphol airport transfer line schedule sept17

The city of Amsterdam on public transports: https://www.amsterdam.nl/en/policy/policy-traffic/public-transport/

The tourist office of Amsterdam on public transports: https://www.iamsterdam.com/en/plan-your-trip/getting-around/public-transport

My favorite route planner in English webpage 9292https://9292.nl/en

The official GVB travel plannerhttps://reisinfo.gvb.nl/en/route

And for the most courageous public transports in Holland as a whole from the tourist board in English here: https://www.holland.com/global/tourism/information/public-transport.htm

There you go a wonderful pocket guide for your moving around in Amsterdam. As said, have experience here by road, plane, tram, and train. Hope this brief guide can help you navigate and enjoy the city better.

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

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October 19, 2020

Lovely Prague, and more!!

Well lets get back to Europe shall we! I always heard of the country even when it was a different name, and had opportunity to come in but did not. Then , all of a sudden, came to it first by 2014 and thereafter came 3 more times until the virus. Prague is nice and the new country of the Czech Republic has interesting sights as well as the new country of Slovakia! Let me tell you a bit about it with new text using some old photos but new in the blog.

I am not going to go into the history because is long and troublesome, already touch base in previous posts. Let me tell you where I went instead. This was Prague, mainly, as well as by Brno and Bratisalva in Slovakia as well as visit smaller towns like Kurosov, Budmerice, Ostrokevice, and Radnov.

I did walk the Prague,and went to the periphery of Praha 10 or Prague 10 district away from touristic center. This is the real city for me. The airport is smallist but easy to move about, not too many stores. I came by air on AF from Nantes to Paris CDG and then Czech Airlines to Prague Havel airport. The airport is in the nearby town of Lestice.

There are many ways to get to the city with buses ,taxis, shuttles etc. I usually took a taxi, but this time try the tourist in me and took Cedaz the private express airport. The ride was 150 K or about 7 euros; every 30 minutes ride is about 40 minutes. You can take it from Terminal 1 exit F or 2 exit E. Very easy nice ride. It stop me right in front side of the Hilton Old Town Hotel. However, as updates goes, the Cedaz service has been discontinued so this is just for the memories ok.  At the aiport had lunch at a nice restaurant in El Mundo del Tabaco cafe. Where I had my lunch with a nice Czech beer Pilsner Urquel. This has also closed so again just for the memories in my blog.

The Prague airport site in English: https://www.prg.aero/en#/

Prague airport T1 passing oct16

prague airport getting to gates C7 T2 oct16

My first stay going in was at the wonderfully nice mansion villa in Praha 10 as well call Hotel Villa, very nice friendly service, good space rooms,and good breakfast, restaurant. They are still there, webpage in English: http://www.hotel-villa.cz/?lang=en

prague hotel villa main ent nov13

However, while in town went out to eat as the locals do for a full feeling of belonging in Praque. I had great lunches at Peugeot Restaurant; very local food and away from tourist, good food and nice prompt service. I went for the menu of Czech specialties and all good. The owners love the Peugeot cars and the rooms are decorated with replicas and posters of them plus scènes from Paris! More here in Czech: http://www.restaurace-peugeot.cz/

prague peugeot resto outside praha 10 nov13

Then, it was a wandering walk thru old town, just missing the Charles river but see everything else.  I stop by the train station which is rather nice and webpage is here: https://www.dpp.cz/en

Also , at  Masarykovo Nadrazi with plenty of tramway and bus service to the city and around it. Also trains as  Hlavni Nadrazi to other towns, webpage here: https://www.cd.cz/en/default.htm

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As I needed to be in and out of Prague ,when back stayed at another wonderful location. I did some ride into town and did some walking until finally settling into my hotel. A new place very inexpensive and very nice, I have already experience knowing the investment guys in the St Christopher’s in Paris, but here it is call Penzion U Krystof in Praha 10 .More info here: https://krystof.cz/en/

prague-penzion-u-krystof-hotel-side-from-tennis-club-oct16

prague-penzion-u-krystof-hotel-lobby-oct16

Nice friendly and no English Pizza Next on 131 Zabehlicka street Praha 10, real good pizzas and a nice pint of Pilsner Urquel beer. all for 6€ lol! Cannot find a webpage for them but it is near the Hamr tennis complex on the above street. Talking about the Hamr tennis sports complex, this is superb, and nice modern facilities. Even a soccer/football local match to watch, and great food at the Piazza d’Oro terrace restaurant overlooking the lake Hamersky. too bad is only in Czech, but the facilities are full, the restaurant was goulasch , rice and a nice krusovice beer for 4€ ;more info  here: http://www.hamrsport.cz/cs/zabehlice/restaurace/

prague-pizza-next-counters-inside-oct16

prague-hamr-tennis-club-entrance-next-to-hotel-oct16

On my way out of Prague and going home I did splurge myself  at the Hilton Old Town Prague. This is  a grand chain and this hotel rank high up. Queen size bed and views of the city in front of you, walking to Namesti Republiky square The room was big ,bath too, wifi, bar, and on the 7th floor nice.  more into the business traveler but families will be in heaven too. More info here: https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/prgothi-hilton-prague-old-town/

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And of course, going out with a bang. I went to eat at Potrefena Husa resto and it was fantastic ambiance good food and cheap at 10€ including beer. The beer was local and a bit yeasty but ok. More info here: https://www.potrefena-husa.eu/en/

My evening I went to the Kolkovna Celnice typical Czech resto not far from the Hilton, and it was  a simple business dinner pilsner beers that took the idea of Prague even more enticing Old Czech Kolkovna  platter 900 grams for about 13 euros! More info here: https://www.kolkovna.cz/en/kolkovna-celnice-13

Next day was a soul searching in dark old town Prague; and I took my friends on a walking tour of Prague to find a place locals had brought me before, the Hybernia or 2002 with the brewing pilsner beers and more drinks and be merry, recommended for more time. More info here: https://www.dvatisicedva.cz/contact

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I continue the seach for excellence and we just got in before closing at the Dubliner Irish pub that we should come back. More info here: https://aulddubliner.cz/

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In between i was in the market of Monday morning at Namesti Republiky, colorful by the metro station entrance. I walk around seeing the wonderful buildings such as the powder tower ,muséums, and theaters; etc.

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The tourist office of Praguehttps://www.prague.eu/en

This time took some time into the countryside and even into Slovakia. Hurry trip by car moving fast and eating on road stops but now I saw more of a pretty country.  It was new ,also, to have lunch at the road rest stops like Benzina, Mol, and Viva along the road 1 dir Brno, etc. and into Slovakia. This site will help you find some of the stations : https://www.benzina.cz/en/stations/Pages/main.aspx

bratislava-mol-gas-rest-stop-resto-oct16

And of course the Czech motorway info page is very good for car travel there ! I love it!!! http://www.motorway.cz/

I did had lunch at a nice stop hotel restaurant Atrium near Brno , more info here:https://www.hotelatrium.eu/en

brno-near-brno-hotel-resto-atrium-for-lunch-oct16

I drove by Brno and Bratisalva in Slovakia as well as visit smaller towns like Kurosov, Budmerice, Ostrokevice, and Radnov with lots of country and farms. All nice rolling roads and beautiful scenary. It will be a nice to be back when the virus allows it for in depth look.

bratislava-new-tramway-network-oct16

Otrokovice city hall passing oct16

And it was time to be back to Prague, and my Hilton again before saying goodbye to the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The difference was that I always get a taxi and never a problem,only once had to haggle over a price but was easily settled in my favor. This time I hire the Prague Airport Transfer service and English spoken nice ride and good driver. More info here: http://www.prague-airport-transfers.co.uk/

The tourist office of the Czech Republic:  https://www.visitczechrepublic.com/en-US

The tourist office of Slovakiahttps://slovakia.travel/en

There you folks ,another dandy road warrior trip with a bit of help of airplane to get there. Wonderful country side and lots of souvenirs of these trips. Again, looking forward to be back, it was a blast! Hope you enjoy the post as I did.

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

October 18, 2020

Wonderful Pyrénées-Atlantiques!!!

So I am taking you back to my belle France, of course. I like to revised, update my post on this wonderful department 64 Pyrénées-Atlantiques of my belle France , that I have visited and love so much. Of course, so do the rest of France, but this is special. I have written on its off the beaten paths towns and would like to reshape, update the text with some new photos found.

Following first the Tour de France bicycle race , later came in to visit the city of Pau and took advantage to take my local road warrior trips into my deep France. Always wonderful memories of doing it with my dear late wife Martine.

This part of France have gone thru many name changes over the years into the unified kingdom of France, the empire and then the Republic. Before 1969, the department was called Basses Pyrénées from the French revolution.  And before the French revolution ,this was the province of Béarn ,including lower Navarre, lands of Labourd and Soule (from the province of Gascogne) as well as some parishes of Soubestre .  The Labourd, Lower Navarre and Soule were the three provinces of the French pays basque. The department 64 has two faces today, that of the Béarn with Pau as principal city and the Pays Basque with Bayonne as principal city.

Let me tell you a bit about these off the beaten path towns which I have written specific posts before; this is a revision in a general sense of them.

Not too far from Pau, we have Thèze, about 20 km and is part of the Vic-Bilh. The N134 and the D44 /D944 as well as the connection with the A65 connects the city very nicely.  The Church of St. Peter dates from the 12C. It is remarkable for the volume of its porch tower and its Renaissance portal.  More from the city of Théze in French here:  http://www.theze64.fr/?page_id=488

We have Monein . The best way to get there is on the A64 highway (Toulouse-Bayonne); Exit 9 Artix at 11 km.  Monein counted a secular abbey from the 12C, a vassal of the viscounty of Béarn. King Henry IV dubbed Monein ,the Paris of Béarn!!!  The Church of Saint-Girons  (see post) dates from the 15C and 16C. It is the largest Gothic church in the  Béarn.  More info on the city of Monein heritage in French here: http://www.monein.fr/la-ville/patrimoine.html

The tourist office of  Coeur de Béarn on the Church Saint Gironshttps://www.coeurdebearn.com/en/heritage/the-church-of-st-girons-and-its-timber-roof.html

In direction Morlaàs we passed by an old castle where winding roads needed to be taken up the road D7 and then D62. this is in ruins but the tower is in excellent shape rides up ; and chivarly or knights contests for kids was very colorful. This is the Château de Montaner.  More info in French from the tourist office of the Pays Vic en Bigorre here: http://www.tourisme-vic-montaner.com/patrimoine-historique/chateau-de-montaner.html

And we arrive at wonderful Morlaàs, the town is connected with the D39 and D943 roads from Pau traversing the A64 highway. From the 10C to the 12C, Morlaàs was the residence of the Viscounts of Béarn and capital of the Béarn in place of Lescar destroyed in the 9C ,and Orthez will follow in the 12C. The town had a commandery of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem from Carvalho and Morlaàs. There were convents of Jacobins and Cordeliers. Morlaàs  printed money at the Château de la Hourquie (or the Fourquie, whose exact location is unknown to us today) since the 9C. The Morlan money was used throughout the south of France throughout the Middle Ages. In 1690, the monetary workshop was transferred to Pau. The weights and mesures of Morlaàs served as standards throughout the Béarn and up to Soule and lower Navarre.

Plenty of things to see here, and the main ones were covered in previous post but will name my favorites here: The fountain known as Baratnau, place Sainte-Foy, dates from 1635 ; this square also welcomed, from the 17C until 1845, a market; there is ,also the house of Jeanne Albret from 1451 as well as the Musée de Morlaàs with a rich collection of medieval or newer objects, paintings, weapons, keys, furniture, sculptures, a funerary slab and various architectural elements. The Château de Baratnau (at Place-dit Grange de Baratnau) was built around 1540.  The Château de Sarrabat, at the square of the same name, was built at the end of the 19C. There are eleven windmills in Morlaàs, some of which have preceded 1385.  St. Andre’s Church, rue Bourg-Neuf, partially dates from the late 11C. The Romanesque Church of Sainte-Foy dates from the 11C. The church is a stopover on the via Tolosane (or Toulouse Road), the Latin name of one of the four paths of France of the Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela, the southernmost.

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Further in glorious Morlaas, you have the The Cloister of the Benedictine priory of St. Faith dates in part from the 11C. A Church belonging to the Saint John Hospital Commandery of Jerusalem is reported in 1318 at the place Berlanne. Several times demolished and rebuilt (destruction by the Protestants in 1569, re-erection in 1610, demolition in the 19C, new inauguration in 1902), it is still the subject of a pilgrimage.  A first Convent of Jacobins was built in 1268, north of Bourg-Mayou, then destroyed in a fire in 1569. The monks then occupied a new building, dating from the 16C. You can see five capitals of marble columns Rue Molaàs-Vielle, the Convent of Cordeliers was founded before 1290 by Gaston VII of Béarn. 

Power to you to visit this beautiful architecture and historical city of Morlaas, more in their city page in French here: https://www.mairie-morlaas.fr/la-ville/histoire-et-patrimoine/demeures-monuments-remarquables/

Then took the D918 direction Mauléon-Licharre.  Not expecting to see anything here but just passing and voilà to our surprise it has many interesting things if hidden to the general public, of course you need a car but I will always say , the best way to travel….Mauléon-Licharre is located in the heart of the historical province of Soule, at the foot of the Pyrenees. Mauléon, an old feudal town, is built on the right bank of the Saison river or gave of Mauléon, at the foot of a hill where the ruins of the castle rise. The current town was created in 1841 by the union of the towns of Mauléon and Licharre. The old castle of Mauléon is an 11C castle, the castle of Maytie called Andurain was built at the end of the 16C by Pierre de Maytie. The city/town hall, located on the Place des Allées, was built for Count Philibert de Grama by François Mansart whose style is recognized with the alternation of skylights arched and triangular pediment and large spaced windows.  The states of Soule bought this mansion in 1777. It became the sub-prefecture of Mauléon from 1789 to 1926. Since 1980, it is the new City/Town hall of Mauléon. 

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Some further interesting facts here are that the writer Pierre Benoit used this location for the action of his novel for Don Carlos ,la Maison de La Fee (fairy ), at 8 Rue du Fort, known as the oldest in Mauléon. It bears the date of 1485 but probably dates more like 1785. The Maison de Bela which dominates the upper town with its Rounded tower. It is particularly well known because in 1587 its owner, Gérard de Béla, decided to introduce taxes, an innovation that displeased particularly  the inhabitants of the city. The market or halles dated 1765, was claimed by the inhabitants since the terrible fire of 1641 which had destroyed about 20 houses, leaving only eleven that could still properly shelter the market under their awnings.  The Chapel of Saint-Jean-de-Berraute is attested from 1220. It was part of the Commandery run by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem or Knights of Malta. The Notre-Dame Church in the Upper Town; it has a parchment of 1373 which gave permission of the Bishop of Oloron to build a new chapel. The Chapel even though it was small, became Church and even Cathedral, having sheltered, with its contiguous  houses the bishop of Oloron and his chapter of canons on two occasions, from 1378 to 1412, during the Great Schism of the West which saw the Catholics divide between supporters of the Pope of Rome and those of that of Avignon . And again, from 1570 to 1599 during the Wars of religion. The Bishop of Oloron Claude Régis, expelled from his cathedral by the Protestants, took refuge in this Church to which he bequeathed his heart at his death in 1592. The Calvary (or white Cross) from the  17C made in  white marble located in the Rue de Navarre is a marble column erected at the site of the walnut tree where the judges of the ancient Court of Licharre, (today a crossroads in the traffic roundabout), were gathered.  The Church of St. John the Baptist was built in the late 19C.

More on this wonderful little town of Mauléon-Licharre from the city webpage in French here: https://www.mauleon-licharre.fr/fr/decouvrir-mauleon/patrimoine.html

The wonderful Lescar very near Pau , our home base always in the area for years, and you can tell we like it very much.  Lescar is located at 6.5 km  west of Pau;  it is also 52 km north of Urdos, which allows the passage to Spain (via the Col du Somport), heck yeah for many years our route even before the tunnel was built !!!,  and 87 km east of Capbreton on the Atlantic coast. It sits on the east-west axis by the A64 highway ( aka  La Pyrénéenne). A highway exchanger to reach the new highway A65 ; (aka Autoroute de Gascogne), crossing the A64 on the territory of the town and allowing to reach Langon in the north.  The town is also served by the old national Roads RN117, Route de Bayonne, and RN417 (forming part of the Beltway of Pau) which are grouped under the RD817 (super road connecting to many areas of Pau and out to other towns, great).

The town maintains more than 600 000 m2 of gardens, 12 000 m2 of compound massif shrubs, and has 2 674 trees on its territory. The best on are the Parc de Beneharnum, at the foot of the ramparts, then the  garden of the place Royale or the park of the City Hall. An oppidum of the second Iron age was also identified in the district of Bilaà, on which is built the castle of the family of Ariste. The lower town of Lescar represents the heart of the ancient Beneharnum. Archaeologists have exhumed in the district of Bialé  178 traffic lanes, sewers, foundations of houses, as well as ditches. Still on the Domaine Saint Michel, the remains of the funeral enclosure La Tourette are discovered dating from  the lower empire period of Rome. Several elements discovered on the site are exposed to the museum of Lescar, including furniture and a mosaic of 6.5 meters long on 3.3 meters wide.

The city of Lescar on its heritage in French: https://www.lescar.fr/attractive/ville-historique/patrimoine/patrimoine-architectural

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And we continue on towards Orthez, this is a nice town, first you have the house museum of Jeanne d’Albret, that shows the Protestant Béarn, the museum at 37 rue Bourg-Vieux, here you have four centuries of history from the reform to the 20C, the story of the Huguenots ,love the history. You must see the Church of Saint Pierre in a vast square or pl St Pierre. The town was the site of the viscount of Béarn and this led to start the construction of the Church in the 13C.

The city of Orthez on its heritage in French: http://www.mairie-orthez.fr/Decouvrir-Orthez/Patrimoine

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On our way out we passed and got to see the parvis of the château Moncade right in the town of Orthez! It is built on a hill of 100 meters high protected by moats with a well unique in Europe, from the top of the tower donjon (33 meters) you can see a wonderful view of the roofstops of Orthez.  the castle was built in 1242 and finally finished in the 14C by Gaston VII de Moncade. More on the Coeur de Béarn tourist office in English: https://www.coeurdebearn.com/en/heritage/the-moncade-castle.html

And there you go a quick run to some of the most picturesques off the beatn paths sights in my Pyrénées Atlantique of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. Enjoy the ride and do keep them in to see places in my belle France.

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

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October 18, 2020

Bacolod ,in the Philippines!

And here I am taking you back to Asia and wonderful Philippines. I was lucky to visit the country and some of its islands on several trips over the last few years and it has memorable stories and good friends. I like to tell you a bit more on Bacolod.

Ok so I did had a little time on my last trip to the Philippines. There was not much time to do sightseeing but did get into a whole new area of the Philippines. I flew from Cebu to Bacolod on Philippines Airlines.

Arriving at Bacolod city airport by 7h where another driver was picking me up and gave a brief introduction to Bacolod. It is actually located in nearby city of Silay, 15 km from Bacolod. This is about 1 hour by air from Manila and 30 minutes from Cebu by air. More on the airport at Airportia: https://www.airportia.com/philippines/bacolod-city-domestic-airport/

bacolod airport arriving jan18

bacolod aiport bombardier Q400 to cebu jan18

Bacolod has two main roads, Lacson Street to the north and Araneta Street to the south. The streets in the downtown area are one way, making Bacolod free from traffic congestion. However, its beginning to be filled recently.

bacolod street driving in city jan18

We ,then set out to eat at the favorite place of the locals, Bob’s Restaurant. Here we had blue marlin fish dish just fried as it is, and rice, and delicious fruit punch drink, wonderful. I would come back just for the fish! More on them at their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/BobsRestoBCD/

I like to tell a bit about Bacolod for the memories, for my blog and for those readers who dare go to the off the beaten paths in countries afar.

The City of Bacolod  is the capital of the province of Negros Occidental where it is geographically situated but governed administratively independent from it. Sitting in the region VI of Western Visayas. It is notable for its MassKara Festival held during the third week of October and is known for being a relatively friendly city, as it bears the nickname “The City of Smiles”.

The historical church accounts provide a glimpse of the early years of Bacolod as a mere small settlement by the riverbank known as Magsungay (“horn-shaped” in English). When the neighboring settlement of Bago was elevated into the status of a small town in 1575, the early missionaries placed the village under the care and protection of Saint Sebastian sometime in the middle of the 18C. Bacolod was not established as a town until 1755 or 1756, after the inhabitants of the coastal settlement of San Sebastián de Magsung̃ay, were attacked by forces under Datu Bantílan of Sulu on July 14, 1755 and the villagers transferred from the coast to a hilly area called Bacólod . In 1889, Bacolod became the capital of  Negros Occidental when the Province of Negros was politically divided into the separate provinces of Occidental Negros and Oriental Negros.

The success of the uprising in Bacolod and environs was attributed to the low morale of the local Spanish detachment, due to its defeat in Panay and Luzon and to the psychological warfare waged . For a brief moment, the provinces of Occidental Negros and Oriental Negros were reunited under the cantonal government of the Negrense Revolucionaries, from 6 November 1898 to the end of February 1899, making Bacolod the capital. In March 1899, the American forces led by Colonel James G. Smith occupied Bacolod, the revolutionary capital of República Cantonal de Negros. The Cantonal Republic of Negros became a U.S. territory on April 30, 1901. This separated Negros Island once again, reverting Bacolod to its status as the capital of Occidental Negros.  Bacolod was formally inaugurated as a chartered city on October 19, 1938. In WWII, Bacolod was occupied by the Japanese forces on May 21, 1942. The city was liberated by joint Philippine and American forces on May 29, 1945.

The city of Bacolod on its history: http://www.bacolodcity.gov.ph/about-bacolod/history

Some things to see here even if it is not a tourist destination, rather an off the beaten path area I love to come and lively city life.

The world-renowned MassKara Festival is an annual festival with highlights held every fourth Sunday of October in Bacolod. The  Panaad sa Negros Festival , also called simply as the Panaad Festival is a festival held annually during the month of April in Bacolod. The festival is a form of thanksgiving to Divine Providence and commemoration of a vow in exchange for a good life. The celebration is held at the Panaad Park, which also houses the Panaad Stadium, and is participated in by the 13 cities and 19 towns of the province. For this reason, the province dubs it the “mother” of all its festivals.

Even if no MassKara Festival this year due to covid19 here is their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/masskaralive/

The Panaad sa Negros Festival on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PanaadSaNegrosFestival/

A nice area for walks is the Public Plaza one of the notable landmarks in Bacolod, which is found right in the heart of downtown/city center area, very near to the city/town hall and right across the San Sebastian Cathedral. There is a nice Negros Museum a privately owned provincial museum situated in the Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol Complex. The structure was built in 1925 as the Provincial Agriculture Building. The Negros Museum Cafe serves the needs of museum goers and walk-in guests, situated in the West Annex of the museum.

The tourist office of the Philippines on Bacolodhttp://www.experiencephilippines.org/tourism/featured-destinations-tourism/featured-destination-tourism-6/

A private webpage with plenty of information on the Philippines and this time Bacolodhttps://guidetothephilippines.ph/articles/things-to-do/bacolod-tourist-spots

And there you, an exotic place glad to be there and nice friends found, some still in touch. Bacolod is a far away place of nice memories and happy to have in my blog for the memories and the friendship. Hope you enjoy the post as I did.

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

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