Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

February 16, 2021

A personal touch ,Au Trappiste, Paris!!

And here I am updating revising this old post on one of my earliest hangouts in Paris. Its a long story for the Au Trappiste resto but I discovered with a group of expats doing get together here and the another group of Franco-Americans in Paris. Later, I came with the family and even brought visiting friends here! Its an eternal stop whenever possible in my eternal Paris. Hope you enjoy the post as I

On a cold wintery day in my neck of the Breton woods I came back to Paris again as I am lucky to do. If new to the blog, well worked for almost 10 years in Paris (75) while living in Versailles (78)…I now, live in the Morbihan (56) in Brittany for the last 9 years.

The story goes that I used to hang out a lot in the city and written several posts on shopping, eating, and drinking there. However, I sometimes become inspired or nostalgic about some spots, very personal. I have been here to eat, drink, meet collegues and friends and participate in group organisations in Paris for many years at least since 2004. So let me tell you a bit more on the Au Trappiste. Too many to choose from in Paris but we all have our favorite even if just visiting.

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First ,a bit on the history I like on this corner of Paris.

The rue Saint-Denis, located in the 1éme and 2éme arrondissements  is one of the oldest streets of Paris. Its axis is drawn from the 1C by the Romans, and it was the triumphant way of the Royals entrance in the city. It is 1334 meters long, and was named because it is the road that leads directly from the Pont au Change bridge to the city of Saint-Denis, where is located the Basilica St Denis, necropolis of the kings of France. This old road of Saint-Denis, was really named in honor of Saint Denis , who came from Italy around 250 or 270 with six companions to evangelize France. He was said to have been the first bishop of Paris (Lutèce), the Apostle of Gauls.

The street is line up parallel to the boulevard de Sébastopol and the rue Saint-Martin, and is part of the 1éme arrondissement or district in the quartier or neighborhood of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois, for the part between the Avenue Victoria and the Rue de Rivoli, neighborhood of Les Halles for the part between the rue de Rivoli and the rue Étienne-Marcel and from the 2éme arrondissement, rue Étienne-Marcel in the Bonne-Nouvelle neighborhood of bd Saint-Denis. During the French revolution, it was called Rue de Franciade.

The brewery bar restaurant is closer to Place du Châtelet to the Seine river.  Au Trappiste, 4 rue Saint Denis, open from 11h to 02h Monday thru Sunday and from 11h to 04h on Fridays and Saturdays. Here you are in Belgium with the monks; lots of good beer, simple good portions of food, moules or mussels and fries,and grill sausages. The first or ground floor is more noisy ,the second or upper floor more calm and better views!of Chatelet. There is a nice cosy terrace nowdays just perfect for people watching and watched Paris! It is just by the metro exit and rue de Rivoli. Best way is the metro ,the RER is too crowded to get here. OF course, I came by car and lovely parking at Châtelet too. One of my showcase hangouts in Paris. You , also, can get here on RER B and RER D Châtelet-Les Halles, as well as Metro lines 1 ,4, 7, 11, and 14 and your nice above ground bus line 21,70,72,4,74,75,and 85 stop Châtelet.

Dedicated mainly to Belgian beers, the Au Trappiste, of course offers many beverages from all over the world. No less than 120 bottled beers (including the majority of Trappist beers that are brewed in the world) and twenty drafts beers. Rare beers are found here too. On the plate side, they work on classic but well made dishes such as choucroutte (saukraut), french fries, steaks, burgers, croque monsieurs (ham and cheese sandwiches), mussels,sausages, etc.

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The brewery bar resto Au Trappiste is on the south end of the street (near the river Seine) and is one of the most attractive beer bars in the city. There is breezy outdoor seating during the warm months of the year and beautiful light wooden decor inside with matching beams, walls, and tables. It has a nice clean modern yet traditional decor and has to be one of the best French styled bars for beer in Paris. The place is alive all day, until late at night, and a room in the upper floor allows to organize private events. Which I have been too ::)

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One of my favorite webpages found bottom of my main page in my blog roll give you plenty of more on the Au Trappiste.

Yelp on Au Trappiste: https://www.yelp.com/biz/au-trappiste-paris

Their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/autrappisteparis/

Hope it helps your tracking here, lovely place, great service and great views from upper tfloor. Not to mention simple classic dishes with great selection of beers. Love it, at Au Trappiste, and many memories here.

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

February 15, 2021

Casa de America, Madrid!!

In my continuing saga of updating older posts in my blog I bring you back to my beloved Madrid! Yes culture and history are part of any society and without understand it, you are doom for errors or least more of them. This is a cultural center of the Americas in Madrid where all countries of Latin America can meet and exchange culture, arts, theater, and conditions; it is a must while in Madrid to understand the whole of the American conscience (American is the sense of the continent). Let me tell you a bit on the Casa de America of Madrid!

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A place to visit for the culture and understanding  a lot more than just a tourist sight, even if many things will help you understand the things you see as a tourist/visitor of my Americas. I have touch briefly before, but I like to tell you a bit more on the Casa America.

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The Casa de America is a consortium created in 1990 and integrated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  the community of Madrid and the city of Madrid. It is coordinated through the Governing Council, the upper management body of the Consortium and the delegated commission of that Governing Council formed by a representative of each of the three institutions plus the Director General or General Manager.

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A bit of the history I like

This consortium has the headquarters of the Palacio de Linares in Madrid.  It is located in the district of Salamanca, in the northeast corner of Plaza de Cibeles, on which opens the main entrance, between the Paseo de Recoletos and the Calle de Alcalá (my street!).  The Murga family’s fortune declined after the Marquis ‘ death in 1902, and the palace, damaged during the Spanish Civil war, was about to be demolished when it was classified as a historic monument in 1976.  It escaped destruction but remains abandoned for many years.  This palace built in 1873 for the Murga family is impressive. Baroque style, it was completely renovated in 1992. One of the peculiarities of this palace is the Casa de Muñecas, or the house of dolls; located in the interior patio of the palace, it was built by the Marquis de Linares for his adopted daughter Raimondita.

Casa de America is a public consortium that aims to strengthen ties between Spain and the Americas, especially with Latin America. This approach is encouraged through the organization of seminars, conferences, roundtables, exhibitions, lectures, projections, concerts, symposia, presentations, workshops, etc.

The Casa de America Consortium was founded in 1990, on the occasion of the preparations for the celebrations of the 5th centenary of the discovery of the Americas (by Europeans)  by Columbus.  The headquarters of Casa de America hosted the 2nd Ibero-American Summit in July 1992. S.M. King Don Juan Carlos I and the Heads of State and Government who participated in the summit inaugurated the institution.  The Casa America has since received the most important personalities of the continent: leaders, politicians, economists, authors, sociologists, artists, etc

The activity of the institution is divided into two areas: American Tribune and American Athenaeum.  American Tribune: It focuses on the diplomatic and institutional sphere by emphasizing political-social, economic, scientific, technological and general thinking issues. American Athenaeum: Focuses on the cultural field, and its activities revolve around cinema, literature, music, the visual arts and scenic.

Some webpages to help you enjoy this place fully are:

The official webpage of Casa de Americahttp://www.casamerica.es/

The Madrid tourist office on Casa de Americahttps://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/casa-america

During the visit you can see the different rooms of the palace accompanied by specialists in history and art, and you can, also discover the stories and legends related to the building. Visits can be made in English, Spanish and in mixed groups. Saturdays and Sundays at 11h, 12h ,13h. Buy your tickets directly at Casa de América information point from Monday to Friday from 11h30 to 14h30 and from 16h30 to 19h30.  General admission: 8€. There is now a nice Raimunda restaurant on site.

There you go another jewel in a very nice area of Madrid, not far from my old home when living there. Its a cultural center in a cultural city, enjoy it

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

February 4, 2021

Oporto, Lisbon, Portugal 1-2 punch!!!

And as said many times, the road warrior goes into Europe and this time Portugal. This was a memorable trip done by friends and by car!! Lovely one two punch of Portugal, that is Porto and Lisbon! Hope you enjoy it as I ,and thanks for reading me over the years! I will do this one on my black and white series of posts!

Another short but wonderful trip to a very nice country still a lot to find out about it, this is Portugal. I know it well as I speak fluent Portuguese and grew up in their communities, my oldest son’s godfather is from Faro. In all ,I have written a bit on it in previous trips, see posts.

This time, I took my flight from Nantes to Porto on Easyjet, first time using it , ok but still will go for the bigger name airlines thereafter ,just me. I landed a bit late, and went out easy taking a taxi for 17,25 euros to my hotel in the center in Boavista.  The ride was nice and even if there are cheaper ways to reach the center, if you can, take the taxi. Nice guy on the ride very talkative, and I was complemented on my Portuguese !!!

The hotel was right by Boavista, nice area, the Fénix hotel , bear in mine there is another Fenix next door call Tuela ,3 stars. I was on the Fénix Porto which is 4 stars ::) webpage: https://www.hfhotels.com/en/hotels-en/oporto/

All they said is true, big rooms and bathroom, nice views over the city, and centrally located to see many. I went by the Casa da Mùsica, a nice center. Here it is home to the  Orquestra Nacional do Porto, Orquestra Barroca ,and the Remix Ensemble. Many musical events for all tastes (see post with picture).

As I wandered around the Rotunda da Boavista, you can see the Casa da Mùsica and the wonderful Obelisk of the Portuguese fight vs the French imperial invaders ::) It is ,also call by locals the square or Praça de Mouzinho de Albuquerque.  It is 45 meters or 148 feet high and highly decorated on four sides with events in the history of Portugal. (see post)

The shopping Cidade do Porto , is just around the corner from the hotel, and you have several high end stores here. It has been preserved by modifiying several aspects of it after its construction in the 1990’s. You have now several stores and restaurants such as Pizza Hut ,McDonald’s etc and four floor all name as Piso Lazer (-1), Bom Sucesso (0), Gonçalo Sampaio (1), and Mouzinho de Alburquerque(2). It’s an alternative to kill some time in the city, but I won’t make it into a shopping center per se, that I am used to. (see post)

In the back of the shopping center , there is a nice small Chapel, Capela de Nossa Senhora do Bom Sucesso, it dates from  1748, last renovated in 2005. It is done in a rectangular shape with two story façade. Stone staircase that give access to the balcony. Neo Classical in the façade with a portal with tympanum curved interrupted by windows. (see post)

The hightligh of my stayed in this area, was the Mercado de Bom Sucesso market. This is just turning right from hotel on about 100 meters, excellent ambiance, great food, and friendly staffs with full of locals. (see post). I went here for a tour walk around one night as had friends picking me up, and then came back to eat a wonderful seafood rice and scallops on shell with a good local red wine for less than 14€ , this was at the Mariscaria Bom Sucesso.  webpage of  mercado on restaurant in portuguese: https://www.mercadobomsucesso.pt/lojas/mariscaria-bom-sucesso/

Of course, the market is more than just restaurant, bars and seafood stands, there is also some shopping stores and souvenirs of local craft inside. Worth a visit on any given night. Yes!!!

Then, took the road a bit, and stop by the vinyards of Bairrada in near Murtede, while having lunch at the wonderful local restaurant Cabana do Pastor ( priest’s cabin).  Had a great pourco preto with chorizos here and more local red wine to kill for. This is the black feet pigs famous in the region.  Being so local , there is no webpage but addresse : Rua Estaçao 5, 3060-407, Murtede, and their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cabana.dopastor/

Coming back to Lisbon ,even for a day was great. I was able to stayed in one of my favorite hotels in the city, for the food ,service, and location. The hotel was the Radisson Blu at Campo Grande; just wonderful facilities, great service, excellent food (try that pourco preto and chorizo again with red wine sublime).  webpage: https://www.radissonhotels.com/en-us/hotels/radisson-blu-lisbon

I actually left Lisbon for Nantes on Transavia the next day with a free navette bus from hotel to airport! Then, at Nantes airport  got into my car for the final drive home (1h30). 

Another great stop in Portugal, and always enjoyable. You know the other country in the Iberian peninsula, land of conquistadores, and great food/wine as well as the Fado music genre,and nice beaches. Hope you enjoy the brief tour of Lisbon and Porto!

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

February 3, 2021

This is Carnac Bourg!!

So let me revise update new title text updated links the works on this wonderful old post of mine from a great beach town of Carnac just south of me. If you travel, you know this town is world famous and Unesco World Heritage site for its megaliths stones. However, in good weather beach time it is a lively town with good ambiance and we love it at the Grande Plage or big beach of Carnac!

And here we are on another nice day with sunny weather temps around 20C or about 70F no rain,just perfect for the beach in us not the water of course. We need to move on so with the boys we came back to our family nice beats in our corner of the world. We used to come here a lot with mom as it is only 24 km or about 15 miles from our house. Proving this love for the area ,I have many posts in my blog on the beach town. Of course, I am talking about Carnac, in the Morbihan Breton.

But wait, these are really two towns in one. First, we have Carnac bourg or the inland city with the main Church, museum, restos ,shops, and city hall; and then we have Carnac plage or beachside with the big beach, shops, restos and just laid back ambiance.

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I  leave the history for my other posts , just that the alignments here are Unesco World Heritage Site. Let me tell you it is just down from my house on the D768 and then a quick turn into the D119 to Carnac bourg , really easy and as we got early by 10h30 we found easy parking at the place de la Chapelle next to the Pre History museum and right by the tourist office. This weekend as it was a Pentecost holiday  we had free parking too here. We took a quick tour of the tourist office as I think it is always essential no matter how many times you come to a place. There are always changes and we notice.

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The town is very nice and small on the bourg side and then a short ride to the beach side for more walks. Other than the Pre History museum ….The other must to see here is the Church Saint Cornély, a jewel itself and one of the best renaissance Churches in France! It is from the 17C.

There is a huge choice of shops and restos here. One of our favorite shopping for souvenirs and gifts is Korrigans on rue Saint Cornély just off the Church (and my boys shopping ::)). They  are easy to find just go around the Church on your right hand side facing it. The other is an old timer used to be called Cozy restaurant , it was the first place I ate here back in 2011!!. Well , as we can’t keep up with the choices and changes around here lol! They have new owners and new name not tested yet call Les Caprices d’Anaïs.

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The city of Carnac tourist office in English: https://www.carnactourism.co.uk/

The area Bay of Quiberon tourist office on Carnac in English: https://www.baiedequiberon.co.uk/carnac

The dept 56 Morbihan tourist office on Carnac in English: http://www.morbihan-tourism.co.uk/home/discover/morbihan/the-main-destinations/carnac

Again, so much to see here on the bourg , city center. As I have so many posts , trying not to repeat this is it for now. This is one to come with the whole family if ever in this corner of the world and of course let me know ok. This is  a lovely town again I insist a must to see with the family. We love it and now many memories for us coming here with my dear late wife Martine!

I hope you enjoy it too as we do. Again, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

December 26, 2020

Cap d’Ail, and a peek at Monaco!

So again looking over my older posts in my blog, best time to do so, I look over this one. It was a trip to meet some friends who were hosting a finance conference and I tag alone just to take a peek at this area. I was not impressed but nevertheless, I was here! Let me tell you a bit about Cap d’Ail and a peek at Monaco.

And after the hectic travel day , time to tell you about my latest hunts in the south of France. This is the famous French Riviera, very chic and very much in the news lately. The road A8 is the famous traffic jammer road of France especially in Summer, lucky me took it now flawless with hardly any traffic!! Maybe the road warrior luck!

I had a taste of Cap d’Ail just in the border with Monte Carlo, Monaco!  I arrive by Avis rental car from the Nice-Côte d’Azur airport coming in on the A8, then M6007, and into city center and port Cap d’Ail. The ride was flawless into my hotel.

Ahh the Hotel was the venerable the Riviera Marriott Hotel La Porte de Monaco in the port de Cap d’Ail right by the harbor on avenue du port. Wonderful views over the harbor , and city including Monaco from my room in 5th floor. I have to say this was the highlight of the trip …the hotel. The webpage : https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mcmcd-riviera-marriott-hotel-la-porte-de-monaco/

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I had my underground garage parking with many fancy cars of great value for 25€ per day; a must as parking is very tight on a Cape location. My room was a king size room facing the harbor towards avenue du port. Glorious!!! Now you know why those fancy cars runs in Monaco, they are parked here for the winter!

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Once here I headed to get some foodie and drink, so stop by the Restaurant Le Cap that gives to the side of the hotel facing the harbor by the pool, and had my Riviera Club Sandwich ,huge and excellent for 20€ with a glass of Carlsberg beer. Great French riviera prices ::)

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A bit of relaxation around the harbor, walks of sizing the huge amount of money in the harbor yachts and beautiful apartments all around the hilly mountains around the harbor. An idyllic place for a honeymoon, romantic, couples, business meeting, but not really for tourists.

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At night , I headed with some friends over to Monaco to find a place for dinner. We were recommended the Restaurant Amici Miei at the harbor of Fontvieille facing the cliffs and on top the Prince of Monaco’s castle; lovely.  This is an Italian restaurant cook by mamma herself and husband serves you with all the dishes explanation. The top is the son who is also a server comes to pick us up from the hotel and back, style chic this is after all Monaco. The resto webpage: https://www.amici-miei.com/

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Again, the place is very chic upscale and nice. The kind of place you can dream of for a honeymoon or business conference like theirs lol! A bit slow pace for me, too up the ladder but worth a visit in my belle France. I left the hotel and came back to Nice airport . The trip was nice and quicker until the airport……see post on Nice.

The tourist office of Cap d’Ail in English: http://cap-dail.com/en/

The port of Cap d’Ail in English: https://www.portdecapdail.fr/en/

Another adventure another needle in my map of France, and at least can say I was here! Enjoy the small introduction to Cap d’Ail, I saw a nice beach too, and lively city center so might be a repeat with the family God’s willing in the future. Still waiting and the virus who knows. Hope you enjoy the post

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

December 24, 2020

Vannes, the tunnel and the Gulf of Morbihan!

And here I am again updating revising one my fav cities , of course, capital of dept 56 Morbihan, this is Vannes or Gwened in Breton language of my lovely Bretagne! As you know if reading my posts, I work in Vannes just outside in a castle from 1504 !! So the city is like a second home to me! And one city left intact from the ravages of wars!!

The city is rich in history and architecture as well as a great maritime tradition. The canal into the pleasure marina in Le  Port can hold 3000 boats and falls into the Gulf of Morbihan and the Gare Maritime passenger boat terminal to the islands. The Gulf of Morbihan is one of the most beautiful bays in the world by many publications including Condé Nast and Great Bays.

Every year in May, the Semaine du Golfe or the Gulf’s week, is full of sea sailing activities . The next one will be May 10 to 16 2021. Its a great event and crowds from all over even abroad come in. The official webpage: https://www.semainedugolfe.com/

The Gulf of Morbihan, Vannes tourist office on water activities: https://www.golfedumorbihan.bzh/explorer-vannes/activites-vannes/croisieres-traversees/

This is local site Les ïles du Golfe du Morbihan  in French but complete on the islands in the Gulf of Morbihan : http://locmariaquer.info/f831-1_iles%20du%20Golfe.htm

There are many wonderful art expo center, one that always catches my eye passing by often is the Hotel de Limur (see post) on 31, Rue Thiers just near Le Port and not far from the Hôtel de Ville/city hall.  It has three floors and a French garden in the back; inside it has a grand white marble stairs style Louis XIII built by 1685 , and it was here that the Breton émigrés or immigrant from England who came back to fight for monarchy and sentence to death all remaining 795 of them were judge revolutionary style (the remains are in the Chartreuse d’Auray) .  The Limur family takes over in 1820 and held on to the building until 1947; when it becomes prôperty of the city and the fine arts museum is housed here from 1955 to 1968 ,and even today is in charge of its upkeep. Many temporary exhibitions are held here.

The real thrill today was finally see and ride the tunnel under the Gulf of Morbihan that connects both end of the bay from Vannes to Séné is now open. Before it was a bridge (pont de Kerino) that had to be raise and lower for boats now no more and the traffic is much smoother. This city of Vannes tells you down the line a bit more on the Kérino bridgehttp://en.mairie-vannes.fr/discoveringvannes/sea-and-nature/the-harbour/

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This is a short youtube video on its first ride enjoy it

The old bridge will be dismantled phase out and all will be on the new tunnel allowing 20000 vehicules to past by it nicely with cycling and pedestrians passageways as well! Of course, the view on the bay will be lost oh well we cannot have it all. For the road warrior in me ,the tunnel is great and tested wonderfully.

So I am happy to have tried the tunnel and been one of the first one, and ahead of the local authorities on their webpages yahuuoo ::) Now enjoy it when in the area and if by let me know , the Morbihan is tops and the only department in France without a French name , you know it, Breton all the way, Mor=sea bihan=small or petite mer or small sea or Morbihan!!

Oh yes forgot , did when to the market in Vannes by place du poids public and visit my Nicolas wine store, it’s the Foire aux vins or wine fair going on and we load up, walking the cartons back to the car parked for 40cents in Place de la Libération ::)   Below my young men doing the work lol!!!

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The city of Vannes tourist office right by the harbor or Le Port: https://www.mairie-vannes.fr/vannesdecouverte/tourisme/office-du-tourisme/

The area Gulf of Morbihan tourist office on Vanneshttps://www.golfedumorbihan.bzh/citybreak/week-end-a-vannes/

The tourist office of Bretagne/Brittany on Vannes: https://www.brittanytourism.com/destinations/the-10-destinations/southern-brittany-morbihan-gulf/vannes/

There you go folks, a wonderful vibrant capital city Vannes, coming from its original tribemen of the Vénétes conquered by Rome as Darioritum and then the Bretons with the name of Gwened. Hopy you enjoy the post and again thanks for reading me.

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

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