December 2, 2020

Jaca; Aragon , we come again!!!!

And continuing with my updates and revisions of old posts in my blog I bring you south to the wonderful town of Jaca in marvelous Aragon of my beloved Spain. I have been by here several times and plenty of posts but this oldie needs fresh text. Hope you enjoy it as I do, and thanks for reading my blog.

Here I come again but this time up close and personal. This is another town in my life that passed by so many times on my route to Madrid of my youth, and really never explored it enough. Well, its never too late in life ,and to have the opportunity to be closed tented me for the ride with the family to see it up close and personal. It will once again deepens my appreciation for my Spain ,closer to a new region of Aragon. This is Jaca, or Jacetania and the road to St James or Santiago.

We got into town by the road N330 coming from France by car, as usually but this time we went in. Immediately , you come into the boulevard facing the Ciudadela or citadel or castle of San Pedro on your right hand side, impressive fortified castle and what a way to enter a city! wow!!! I parked by car by the parking Turismo on Plaza Ripa across is the bus station and to the right is the Cathedral right in city center secured underground parking, at the time it was for 6€ all day!

We moved on first by the Citadel like I said its a must to visit, there is a minituare museum of military figurines there too very nice.

Next you should see the Cathedral of San Pedro or St Peter’s huge richly decorated a marvel and UNESCO heritage site, an absolute must to see, its a must.  This 11C jewel of a Cathedral ,construction from 1077, as the site says its an open book of architecture from romanesque to renaissance. Wow!

We were ready and charge for more sightseeing, we walked past the episcopal palace or Palacio Episcopal , a site for those seeking the way of Santiago.

There is a street of the old jewish quarters such as Calle de Ferrenal and Calle de Cambras panels show you the history as you walked. The old coins and money of Aragon is shown on the pavement of Calle Mayor with a plaque to explained it in Spanish. There is a beautiful Paseo de la Constitucion with nice children playground, and music kiosk , many libraries or book stores are here and an open air book market with stands as well . This is the area that takes you to the Puente (bridge) de San Miguel in the back.

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In the Paseo you have the Seminario Diocesano on the side and behind it the Ciudadela. You ,also, can see the quaint Torre del Reloj or clock tower built in 1445, it was once used as a prison. Now its a work office of the region of Aragon, but it can be seen inside too by Calle Sancho Ramirez.

The Seminario Diocesano built in 1926 follow a great tradition in the city of diocese life for teaching the gospel since 1610. A great architecture building on the old walls of the citadel, that passes behind it.

We enjoyed the old ruins of the Ermita de Sarsa or chapel right at a corner with great views over the mountains , it is the abandon Church of a nearby town moved to Jaca in 1970.

Monasterio de Santa Cruz, where the daughter of a king of Aragon Ramiro I, Sancha was brough over from Santa Cruz de los Seros in 1622, (the best preserve romanesque tomb in Spain) the monastery itself was built from 1555.  The order of Benitas of sisters were in charge of the place.

And of course, during the day we ate hehehe! Wonderful Aragonese specialties at the source!

We had our lunch right across the Cathedral while seeing the world go by at Plaza de la Catedral, 3 at Casa Fau, very nice folks , fast service, good food, veal pork chops, fries, roast beef, sodas, coffees, and a bottle of Enate Crianza red 2008 Somontano local wine delicious. All for 16€ per person.

We continue wandering to the side Streets having cheese breads from the local bakeries and did went shopping for sweets to take home at Confiteria/Pasteleria Etcheto , right next to the restaurant above.

We had some goodies for later and wines from Somontano like the Enate again at Bodegas Langa, lots of canned gourmet goodies like ham Teruel, cheeses of Roncal, and wines of Lalanne as well.  Also, in the same area behind back door of the Cathedral. All wonderful and nice to have it at home later.

With all there is to see you will have a full day or more, we rather like the wandering of the old streets and the foods lol! its a state of mind, and so much to be back in Spain.  From here we went to the side at Sabiñanigo on the new A23 and back on the N330a to Jaca, just for the ride on this side, and take a look at city center and breath a bit more of Aragon, Spain

I have written on the above sights and restos in other posts so will keep it at minimum on pictures, just the ones above not elsewhere. Hope you enjoy the post and do come into Jaca, it is also a good base for skiing and winter sports on the Spanish Pirineos/Pyrénées.

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

December 2, 2020

And again Madrid, never enough of it!

And again picking some nice ones to update revise with current links, this is a lovely task. It brings back many memorable moments of my travels in family to dear places like Madrid. Yes let me tell you about Madrid again!

I am lucky enough to come back to Madrid often in the last few years. I used to lived here for 4,and left an image in my mind of good times, never to forget, or as the saying goes Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day! I was back in Madrid last week back in 2017.

I arrived on Iberia from Nantes France very early and took advantage of some time off to walk the city and enjoy it fully; walking brings back many memories of youth, and my dear late mother Gladys.  I am very happy with Iberia,(this time) easy flights, good prices and on time, in addition to the Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas airport has been name the best airport in 2017 by a survey of airport users which they proudly post it in the gate areas!

I had some time before the hotel check in so decided to have lunch on the road. Headed straight for the Atocha area and El Brillante. A wonderful place with great views of the train station Atocha on one side and the Reina Sofia museum on the back. Great chorizo sandwiches and a Mahou 5 stars beer and see the world go by you, superbe! webpage: https://barelbrillante.es/

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The Atocha was packed as always and so was the Reina Sofia museum with a line down the stairs all the way to the street at the Plaza Emperador Carlos V!  I did walk Paseo del Prado and saw the Caixa Forum which had some renovation done, as well as the Botanical garden with the entrance doing some work but all open.  The Reina Sofia was showing the great Guernica painting exhibition, so that is why was packed.

The Caixa Forum a great exhibition area right around the triangle of great museums is worth a detour, and the Botanical gardens are one of my favorite spots in Madrid that I have come since a kid…. El Real Jardin Botànico de Madrid.

You should take a look at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries that conducts tours with the tourist office, this is a great architecture building and gorgeous rooms right around the Atocha train station. El Ministerio de Agricultura y Pesca is located in the Palacio de Fomento from the 19C and gone thru many changes in name and uses until the current one. One of your off the beaten path sites in Madrid and worth the detour.

Up the road from the above and going by Calle Dr Velasco, you reach the Real Observatorio Astronomico de Madrid or Royal Astronomic Observatory to see the sky!  This is another off the beaten path trips to Madrid and it should be encouraged more, I have come here since school age in Madrid!!!

You can go by the paseo de Prado way before the main entrance to the Prado museum and go by the Puerta de Murillo, the south door entrance of the Prado. The building dates from 1786,and you heard it here! Wonderful architecture and a lot of history!  Here you will see a statue of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo; from which the square and entrance is name after. Golden age of Spanish painting and he was one of the main one; living in the 17C.

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See the great façade of the Chapel of the Children’s Hospital on the Avenida de  Menendez Pelayo facing the Retiro park. The hospital is Hospital de Niño Jésus.

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And of course, I was able to check in to my usual hotel the Ayre Gran Hotel Colon on Calle del Pez Volador,1 and corner of Calle del Dr Esquerdo, metro Sainz de Baranda line 6 or 9, couple minutes from hotel. Great service, good prices and central to all my needs, very close to Retiro park! webpage: https://www.ayrehoteles.com/en/hotels/ayre-gran-hotel-colon/

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And just head out for the city on my again usual resto, why change when you found the best ::) Cerveceria Cruz Blanca, on Calle del Dr Esquerdo closer to Conde de Casal metro station but about 10 minutes walking from the hotel. And always the same guys,good service, good food and see the world go by on the inner courtyard facing the street or the terrace tables right on the street! They have another one on the other side of Retiro park on avda Menendez Pelayo that is great too as well as others in different parts of Spain. webpage: https://www.cerveceriacruzblanca.es/locales

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I will stop here on the tour, there is more and more personal for me but Madrid is personal up close and wonderful, it really provides some extra to continue back new home.  It was time to visit my father’s uncle in Yunco and my cousin in Aluche. And just to think about it, I will be back with the family in summer !!!

The tourist office of Madrid: https://www.esmadrid.com/en

Again in Madrid, I wish could be saying now with this darn virus. I will be back, it must, Madrid is me, and now with a family trail that have enjoyed it as well. Hope you do too, visit feel it experience it. Hope it helps you come

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

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December 2, 2020

Pont Aven an artist hangout!!!

Again updating my older blog post this one is from 2014!! Well is not far from my house and we have been there several times even from the old museum to the new museum of Pont Aven. Really all is around the paintings but it has several nice areas and great shopping of traditional goodies. We love it and will tell you a bit more so you might love it too!

When we arrive we parked by the harbor parking le port right along the Aven river. For free. We set out into city center along the Aven looking at the nice stores and restaurants and taking a beat as to what to do later on.

The town of the school of painters of Pont Aven more commonly call the Americans.  As it was a Mr Bacon and Mr Wylie who first came here by 1864 and fell in love with the place painting their way attracting others thorought the years including the great Gauguin, and the word stuck even if most were not Americans. We went first to the museum of Pont Aven, as I knew it was under construction for quite a while until finally open beautifully . This is the one showing the great painters of the School of Pont Aven.

The town is there since 1790, but did gather real fame until the American artists began to arrive in 1865.  The American Henry Bacon was the first one, and describe the city as “Its the most beautiful village that I have ever saw until now, with its strange bridge below a river rapids that make turns several wheels of a windmills with the waters going to the ocean ,short distance away”  Bacon while in Paris finds his friends Robert Wylie and  Charles Way, both from the Philadelphia academy,and soon many others come from the USA, London, and the Nordic countries. Others followed such as local boy André Even, Marcel Gonzalez,writer and poet Xavier Grall (bust in main square and promenade after his name), the local heroe of WWII Daniel Lomenech, and the great Paul Gauguin, making 6 trips here from  1886 to 1894; and those that follow him,such as Cuno Amiet, Mogens Ballin, Emile Bernard,Robert Bevan, Ernest de Chamaillard,Henri Delavallee,Maurice Denis,Emile Dezaunay, Charles Filiger, Eric Forbes Robertson,Emile Jourdan, Charles Laval,Gustave Loiseau, Maxime Maufra, Jacob Meyer de Haan, Henry Moret, Roderic O’Conor, Ferdinand du Puigaudeau, George Rasetti, Louis Roy,Armand Seguin, Paul Serusier, and Wladyslaw Slewkinski. Too many to detail here but you can see my post on the museum and do stop by…I give you the picture of the old museum before the renovation circa 2013 here

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Next in fame here were the windmills or moulins; by 1880 ,there were 15 here, their names, Haut Bois, du Plessis,Moulin Neuf,Kermentec (painted by Gauguin in 1894), Kerniguez, Petit Poulguin, Pénanros,Scierie Brunou, Petite Tourte, Toulhoas,Rosmadec, Porte Neuve,Ty Meur,Grand Poulguin,and Petit Pénanros.

You have nearby the megaliths stones call Menhirs of Kerangosquer I, and the Dolmens of Kermac or Sainte Maudé.  Walking from the  rue des Meunières towards the place royale you have facades of nice homes from the 17C and 18C.  The Church of Saint Joseph was built in 1872 at Place de l’Eglise, smallist by local standards more like a chapel. We came around to take another look at one of our favorite here the Chapelle de Trémalo, it is believe due to a dating on the door that the chapel was built around 1550. The artist painters who visited and lived in Pont Aven frequented it.

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The Aven river, has a unique toilet hanging over the river, a quant unusual place to visit while in town ::)  Right across the street you have the quant romantic nice promenade Xavier Grall; a wonderful laberinth of trails along the Aven river giving you an allure of old and just perfect for a family walk with windmills and river rapids, nice for a picnic in summer. We always take the walk here!

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We set out to do some shopping very typical nice and good prices for this hidden gem of the Finistére Breton. The biscuiteries or cookie making companies are a boundful here,and we did grab a box or bag here and there on our favorites already from our last visit. The Traou Mad galettes , now under the umbrella of Biscuiterie Loc Maria webpage: https://www.biscuiterie-loc-maria.fr/fr/boutiques

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The biscuiterie de Pont Aven is another gem not this time but have in the past and worth the stop;webpage: https://www.biscuiteriedepontaven.fr/

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We check on the vedettes de l’Aven Maritime a cruise up the Aven river , and into the ocean. Really nice ride but will take you almost all day so prepare ahead. webpage: https://www.vedettes-aven-belon.com/

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We went for some spicy seafood to bring home in jars at the Moulin de Rosmadec épicerie or grocery store, this is an excellent restaurant but more suitable for evenings , my take. The grocery store is right before getting to the resto and they have a small hotel as well; very chic. The items here are a mouthful. webpage: http://, https://www.rosmadec.com/fr/

These are very local goodies you can eat on the spot or take home to wherever you are lodged. The Niniches are the stars of the La Maison d’Armorine, and they have several stores as per their site we go to Carnac most often but been to all of them, superb. The niniches were created in Quiberon and they have won honors for their confection in France as the best candies, they come in many flavors; something unique to buy here. webpage: . http://www.maison-armorine.com/nos-boutiques

Somewhere in the above we stopped by our favorite gift store in the area rivals the other one we like,  ,,,, this is Lever Micheline, cadeaux Bretonnes. Here we got kitchen deco and t shirts with merlin the magician logos and dragons, snakes you name it. They carry the whole range of Breton goodies from food, liquors, to gifts of all sorts and with genuine made in Brittany or France logos. You should be here if in the area. It is at the main street diagonally to the museum, 2 place Paul Gauguin and across from tourist office. No webpage see photo

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The highlight of the trip was to find another Maison Larnicol chocolate store here,  it is one of the original , George Larnicol was born in Quimper nearby. The store is right in city center at 4 Place Paul Gauguin . Lovely place with lots of chocolates, caramels,guimauds yummy gummy chocolates, fish shape chocolates and the kouignettes of many flavors is sublime!!! a must here.webpage: https://larnicol.com/magasins

And of course, we ate lol!! forgot the entry but posted the photos. The wonderful Le Moulin du Grand Poulguin by the harbor back , free parking, and great prompt service with delicious food. We had Breton beers Duchesse Anne Triple 7,5% and kids had Morgane, bio blonde beer. Just to try them. We ate from pizzas savoyarde and Forte to tagliatelle albacore tuna pasta and the Tagliatelle 3 fromages, all with expresso coffee, bread,butter,and water, limonade, menthe syrop drinks, and only 17€ per person tops!  webpage: http://www.moulin-pontaven.com/

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And we had a mouthful of day in lovely quant Pont Aven or the bridge by the Aven river! A wonderful family day recommended to all. Hope you enjoy it and do visit when possible.

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

December 2, 2020

The towns of the Presqu’île de Rhuys !!

And going going going like the old commercial of Duracell batteries you know! It has been a wonderful tour to see these memorable posts again and of course, updating and revising them with proper pictures is heavens. Thanks for reading me.

There is a nice peninsula here full of nice quant towns and beautiful beaches that we enjoy coming to over the years living here. Let me tell you about the towns of the Presqu’ïle de Rhuys!!

11 November 2016 was a day off here or Armistice day 1918 the end of WWI or the Great War; in some other countries such as the USA it is Veteran’s Day with a different meaning. A day to remember especially in France from those awful days past, never to be repeated. Ironically, I am writing the update on this post again on 11 november 2020!

And I said , we took off to some areas we have been before but not in a while right in our wonderful backyard of the Morbihan. We took our car and rode on the N165 to the exit for Sarzeau and got on the D780 road. We were headed for the Presqu’île de Rhuys . We decided not to head first to the better known areas and took some country roads such as the D195 and D20 before getting back into the D780 main road.

We continue to the next village, Surzur. The town has an oceanic feeling crisscross by several small creeks and rivers. It ,also, has several chapels and manors or big homes almost like castles all over the territory. The one we stopped by was the Chappelle de Sainte Hélène. It has a nice simple façade with nice main door dating from the 17C and on top a small bell tower in stone.  The windows are older and of gothic era. The interior is simple  with several nice statues such as the one on Sainte Hélène, The Virgin, Sainte Marguerite, Sainte Thérèse, Saint Mathurin.  We syphon the city center seeing in the distance the Church of Saint Symphorien (Roman style from the 11C)as there was work going on in city center. We continue to the Cidrerie Nicol with it’s wonderful cider products already tasted here.  This is Surzur and its chapels: https://www.surzur.fr/chapelles/

The cider producer Nicol is here: http://www.cidres-nicol.bzh/

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We took a turn back into the main road to reach the main town of Sarzeau. Again a visit was pleasant and not crowded for a Holiday.  You come into literary history here as it is the native town of Alain René Lesage (1668 -1747), a writer that wrote of his times with inspiring work known by us such as the Le Diable boiteux, Histoire de Gil Blas de Santillane, and theater plays such as Turcaret, and  La Tontine etc.  One of the greatest actors of the 18C he has a bust in front of the hôtel de ville or city hall of Sarzeau. The always wonderful Sarzeau has many manoirs, castles ,Chappelle’s , fountains of historical value all around and worth a detour. The one we like is the Church of Saint Saturnin right in city center. The original was from 1670 now current one is from 1883, as well as the wonderful Chateau de Suscinio (see post).

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We past by on the parking of the Port de Crouesty seeing the Church of Notre Dame de l’Assomption in Arzon, b.1815 but renovations up to 1920,  but we went to the boat pleasure marina for a leisure walk and lunch instead.

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And we arrive at Port de Crouesty. A harbor paradise we love. This is a huge pleasure boat bay all around are shops and restos, tourist office , spa like Miramar La Cigale hotel , the megaliths stones of Petit Mont  ,and great views any time. We have done  bike riding in tandem with Abbis Location, and eaten in several of its restaurants as well as shopping like today!

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And of course, we ate at a new place, O’Brothers bistro (by L’Equinoxe) at 7 Quai des Cabestans . This has a nice terrace covered and facing the quays of the harbor; then a fix building with a hallway between it and the terrace. Inside is cozy and very friendly. We as most arrive after regular lunch hours but so what, we settled for nice pizzas and good cold beers. The giant screen TV allowed to watch the PSG vs Rennes (4×0) first League 1 football/soccer replay as well as the first half of the Brazil vs Argentina (3×0) World Cup 2018 qualifier’s. We had rounds of leffe beers and the owner server counted wrong and came in with a third round, so we say no problems leave it, and he said ok this one is on me !!! Can’t beat the good old Breton positive side of things.. in the Morbihan of course.  Well sadly another resto that is gone by now a while back, here just for the memories ok.

The tourist office for the Morbihan on the peninsula: https://www.morbihan.com/accueil/decouvrir/le-morbihan/les-principales-destinations/presqu-ile-de-rhuys

The tourist office for the Gulf of Morbihan on the peninsula and more: https://www.golfedumorbihan.bzh/explorer-vannes/decouvrir-vannes/incontournables-golfe/

The tourist office of Brittany in English on the peninsula: https://www.brittanytourism.com/destinations/the-10-destinations/southern-brittany-morbihan-gulf/suscinio-and-the-rhuys-peninsula/

Enjoy the Prequ’île de Rhuys a wonderful peninsula of wonders to see and enjoy with the whole family or alone.

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

December 1, 2020

Versailles, Royal , my old town, and glad to be back!

And I am continuing  revising and updating some of my older posts. It has been a pleasure indeed and especially coming around to see my posts on my old home of Versailles. Sublime!!! Thank for reading me and following me over the years, really appreciated. Let me give you an update on Versailles!

I could not finish the year 2016 without visiting my former home, and loving city of Versailles. It is more than just a castle, it’s a Royal city of France, and perpetual seat of the French constitution if ever needs changes adjustments to it, a de facto capital city of France.

I lived my first 9+ years in France, and love it every minute of it. Still springs nostalgia out of it, left for job duties but the heart still here. Just arriving on the N12 by the D91 into avenue du Maréchal Joffre was an incredible feeling, passing by the less known park of parc Balbi, very historical indeed just after the potager du roi and the Cathedral of Saint Louis. I know, yes, most of you come here for the castle palace, a museum for the greatness of France since 1837. However, there is more than the castle and historic buildings to tell history of many countries including my former USA.

Coming deeper into the city with memories flashing back was very nice indeed and sharing it with the family was sublime beyond words. Cruising into avenue du Général Leclerc and into ave du Général de Gaulle into the visiting parking at Sceaux was great easy and now even better modernize with credit cards automatic paying machines, no longer searching for those coins lol!

We parked our car at Sceaux and set out on foot to see the city and our memorable places that are seen different than the visitor , of course. For us, passing by our Phebus network bus A stop at avenue de l’Europe and seeing the bus 19 of the Yvelines going to Parly II shopping center, shopping again at the Monoprix store and getting to the Préfecture or immigration building for my parents carte de séjour visiteur as American retirees brought many memories of doing the paperwork here, nice require nothing to it. Right here you see the rive gauche-château RER C train station that millions take to see the castle from Paris and is a handy train ride into many places inside Paris, and the bus terminal in front and of course that wonderful vibrant ambiance at Rue Satory off avenue de Sceaux with its many restos, bars etc.

Right around the corner of Avenue de l’Europe and Avenue de Saint Cloud you have the wonderful flower market of Versailles! The marché des fleurs is a historical spot and we came here many times with my dear late wife Martine who loved flowers and plants. Further away you come to my favorite of all  markets the Marché Notre Dame at the Place Notre Dame. Plenty of underground parking too, even if very tight for my car.

Bien sûr, of course, seeing the usual grandness of the place such as it’s magnificent castle that brings about memories of playing around the gardens even beyond the Grand Canal with my boys and having a lunch snack at Angelina in the Petit Trianon, after crossing the property by the Porte Saint Antoine memories that will never go away. The great stables with the  Petite ecurie of many arts renovations and work, and the Grande ecurie du roi with the great horse show of Bàrtabas and the carriage museum! The great silhouette of the castle with its Opéra and Chapel sprouting out , both went or going thru wonderful renovations, and the Grand Commun building on the left home of the servants of the castle since built in 1682-84.

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Could not afford not to see the Hôtel de Ville (old castle of the prince de Conti) where our civic duties were held for many years; a beautiful city/town hall indeed. And course, a sentimental walk to the Notre Dame district, could not manage to see our home so much many memories… right around the mythical wonderful Church of Notre Dame, the Royal one, as the baptisms and births of the prince of Versailles were done there, including that of  Philippe or Felipe , grandson of Louis XIV and himself king of Spain under Felipe V Bourbon dynasty that still rule in Spain today. He build the La Granja de San Ildelfonso a small replica of Versailles not far from Segovia (see post).

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The rue Hoche and the Place Hoche with a nice straight view to the castle or to the Church Notre Dame is marvelous as well as the great shopping street of rue de la Paroisse that passes by the Church.  Our home we just took a peek right around the Church into rue Sainte Geneviéve into the square behind the Church and into Rue Saint Lazare…!

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Of course, we ate, not willing to try the same like our all time favorite Le Boeuf à la Mode at the rue au pain in the place Notre Dames we try one we have in other areas of France and always past in front of it never tried it so we did this unique time, the Buffalo Grill steakhouse chain with the American Indian motifs. Here the service by Teddy was excellent never needed to ask for anything, and the food was good with my burger bacon some typical French beer ,the 1664, and coffee expresso as well as many others combination for the rest of the family all for 23€ per person, about right for Versailles! webpage: https://www.buffalo-grill.fr/restaurant/versailles

As we had plans to continue visiting Paris, we found a place to stay. We had rented from Appart-City aparthotels before and had an up and down experience, we tried them for the clincher and the verdict is never again. We complaint that the rooms had holes in the wall, the bathtub was detached from the wood, the chairs looks used and already the white of the foam seeing thru them, after all the reception was nice and we got the parking for free, and the TV , kitchen works. 89,90€ per night for 5 persons is not bad but we will prefer to pay higher next time for a better deal. The apart-city was in the Bois d’Arcy city limits very close to the limits of Versailles. For reference the appart city webpage: https://www.appartcity.com/fr/destinations/ile-de-france/bois-darcy/st-quentin-en-yvelines-bois-d-arcy.html

The tourist office of Versailleshttps://www.versailles-tourisme.com/

The city of Versailles and its heritage in English! https://www.versailles.fr/ma-ville/decouvrir/patrimoine-et-monuments/

And one of my favorites things to do in Versailles, the Bartabas horse show at the Grande Ecuriehttps://bartabas.fr/academie-equestre-de-versailles/presentation/?lang=en

The hotel rental was in no way diminish our beloved visit to Versailles as anyway was not in the city. It was a great experience to be back, always wonderful uplifting and with great memories of family times. Hope you have enjoy the post update.

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

December 1, 2020

Another visit to Paris, after all Paris it’s worth many visits!!!

So continuing on my updates revisions pictures etc of my older posts in my blog. It has been a wonderful ride and thanks for coming along with me in this journey. And what better city to choose than Paris! Let me tell you a bit about my eternal Paris!

Paris brings back many memorable moments of my family life. Of course, it’s everybody’s capital city, beloved city, love city, and in addition nostalgia sets in with me as I met my future wife there on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées and at the Bistro Romain resto near the Arc de Triomphe lol! That was 30 years ago. Of course, we lasted for 28 as she passed away in 2018 from cancer, sadly for me, Martine will always be remembered lovingly. Paris is indeed eternal for me. The resto is no longer there sadly.

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Since that moment in September 1990 when we met we have come back many lost count , many times, and eventually I came to worked in the city for almost 10 years, leave again and visit again now several times a year as permitted. Paris, we will always have Paris,  always nice looking at you!!!

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This time came to see my beloved Versailles where I lived while working in Paris, and why not take advantage of the Christmas market (Marché de Noêl); see post.  This market started small and over the years have grown to one of the best; hopefully it will be back once this virus thing is over.

We rode in our road warrior ways into Paris, yes nothing to it even with the so call alternate driving dates and the ecolos trying to diminished Paris, and the terrorists doing their usual crap, well Paris is Paris ; it was saved from WWII destruction and nothing will stop it!!  We came in by our usual entry on the Porte Dauphiné and into Avenue Foch to the Arc de Triomphe and geo on Avenue de Wagram parking Etoile-Wagram; where we got in right from Wagram or you can come in on the side street rue de l’étoile. Great!!!

For info the parking Etoile-Wagram is here: https://www.interparking-france.com/paris/fr/park/parking-wagram-arc-de-triomphe/

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We ,then, set out to walk Paris. The best way to see the city, you walk and walk!! Coming right at the Arc de Triomphe, the emblematic arch on the grand Avenue des Champs-Elysées. This was again a walk thru as we have been to the sights ,and now walking like a local is the thing to do; always gratifying to come here!

We do like to report (as we are big eaters on anything lol!) there is a new burger joint at the Avenue, this is the American chain Five Guys at 49-51 Avenue des Champs-Elysées. Already good reviews and a huge line to get in outside and across the sidewalk!! No wonder it arrived in France and this is their second store, and now many more. Regardless of what you read the French love the burgers!! For us it was another confirmation. For reference webpage: https://restaurants.fiveguys.fr/ile-de-france/49-51-av-des-champs-elysees

We had good views on a sort of cloudy day to the Assamblée Nationale, Invalides, Ecole Militaire, Eiffel tower, and passing the glorious Grand and  Petit Palais was awesome.  I went to see my old job for several years there now the Westin I was in the transition from the Intercontinental hotel (the L’Inter as we called it) and had my lunch breaks out at the Café l’Imperiale on rue Rouget de Lisle where the employees entrance to the hotel is still today.

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The famous Lido cabaret is right on the Avenue. However a whole lineup of dinner spectacle and champagne are in order for the New Year . Usually, will see this different year 2020. The wonderful stores on the avenue of historical significance after all the tourists walked by, are the Arcades des Champs-Elysées there since 1927; deco is Paris turn of the century inside, worth a detour from walking the avenue.  You continue onwards to the Concorde and pass the Galeries des Champs. Moving right alone you reach on the same side of the street towards Concorde, the Galerie du Claridge; well for us was a fixture as there is the FNAC store and our boys went crazy for games, dvd,cd accessories when in town lol! In all , a shopper’s paradise!

There is even a committee of merchants and citizens that looks after the avenue and has a ton of information even if in French on shopping and restaurants where we look: https://www.comite-champs-elysees.com/maps/?filter=shopping

But we continue, into the great Jardin des Tuileries, this my boys played when young and me work just across it so it was my time off relaxation place and what a place with our great gardener André le Nôtre! The short story goes that Catherine de Médicis who was the queen regent at the time passed by and saw a dirty terrain with a tile factory (most now still covered the Louvre fortress museum); and she saw a very small plot of land well lawn and trim trees. Curious she asked who did it and they went to get the young men, admitting that it was him who did it she asked if he can do the whole terrain like that, and he said yes. Well ,the young boy was born there in a shackle, his name André Le Nôtre who later became the grand gardener of France from here to Versailles and onwards. Always nice stories!!

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From the garden and my job there was an easy 5 minutes walk to the place Vendôme another jewel of Paris and a pleasure to walk it again.  However, right in the garden are two of the best museums of Paris. The  Museum of Jeu de  Paume, great contemporary modern museum , and the Museum of the Orangerie, right alone the Seine river; here you see the great work of Claude Monet ,Nymphéas!!

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Do take a look at the obelisk of Luxor in the place de la Concorde a gift from Egypt, and the wonderful fountains of the rivers and the seas or fontaines des fleuves et des mers. I could not help it but passed by Pizza Pino resto on the avenue, a regular meeting place for business lunch in town, and the best look from the Pont de la Concorde to the Pont Alexander III and the gorgeous Seine river. Paris is eternal!

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And something for the curious we have the Palais de l’Elysée ,the home for the President of the French Republic (France) right off the Avenue. Of course, we could not leave Paris without eating and sampling the Parisian way of life in a cozy place just by our parking and perfect for our way out of the city. I have passed by it and been on business lunch before but this time told the family on our way home we will eat here before leaving the city and so we did. A pleasant dining experience as any in Paris!

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We step into the La Flamme 6 avenue de Wagram. It has a colorful ambiance in purple and red, with terrace and French traditional dishes. The baroque period frames are bordering the TV screen showing for this afternoon the NBA basketball game. The service was very good and the place very cozy indeed even for a family to be quiet having an excellent French dish of Fricassée des poisons or fishes 3 kinds tuna, snapper, and turbot. all wash down with a pelforth brune beer and to finish expresso coffee. The rest of the gang had different dishes all good and the price is just right ! no webpage of course, this you need to come and see it, taste it right down from the Arc de Triomphe on Avenue de Wagram right hand side. Bon appetite ! Webpage: https://laflammeparis.fr/

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The Paris tourist office in English: https://en.parisinfo.com/

And yes this is Paris alright, sublime, unique , eternal, we will always have Paris! Can’t wait to be back as soon as travel and places are allowed open. 2021 will be a bang year as will be my retirement year!! Hope you enjoy the post and thanks for reading me!!

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

December 1, 2020

Paris: Church of St Peter of Chaillot!!

Now already a good thing, as looking back on old post to bring them to life, update, revise etc; I found monuments that were hardly mentioned or none of all as the case of the Church of St Peter of Chaillot or église Saint Pierre de Chaillot. It’s time I tell you about this wonderful church of Paris! The pictures are from 2016/2017 thereabout.

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Saint-Pierre-de-Chaillot Church  is located at 31 Marceau Avenue in the 16éme district or arrondissement of Paris, near the corner between Avenue Marceau and Rue de Chaillot, also offering an entrance at 26 Rue de Chaillot. The parish of Saint-Pierre de Chaillot dates back to the 11C. The present Church is built in the 1930’s, two times, and completed in 1938 the old Church opened on the Rue de Chaillot, only a Chapel with a brick façade opened on Avenue Marceau. There is nothing left of this old church except a statue of the Virgin of Chaillot.  Initially, the new Church was to be isolated, but the surrounding buildings were never demolished. After , rebuilding the wonderful organ there is now a Festival every two years here ;the Festival Chaillot-Grandes Orgues. The Church is done in a Greek cross style with a belltower of 62 meters. Here the funerals of Marcel Proust were carried out in 1922, with only the statue of the Virgin remaining from this period; the current building is call the ” Cathédrale” or Cathedral.

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The church was inaugurated on 18 May 1938. The Nunciature de Paris is located on Avenue du Président-Wilson, at the bottom of Avenue Marceau. The Church of Saint Peter of Chaillot is thus the parish of the Apostolic nuncio. Thus between 1945 and 1953, Monseigneur Roncalli, future John XXIII, frequented the Church.

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Formerly, in the 11C, there was a first Church dedicated to Saint Peter. Another sanctuary succeeded him in the 17C. The latter was the property of the city of Paris since the laws of 1905. The city retained the property of the new Church-although built on private donations only-because the land belonged to it.  The Church was built from 1933 to 1938 in a Romano-Byzantine style, it is reinforced frame concrete, the coating is stone. Its slightly dark interior is adorned with large frescoes painted on concrete by Nicolas Untersteller  while the Mauméjean brothers made the stained-glass windows which illuminate the church. The sculptures are the work of Henri Bouchard.

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The Church of Saint-Pierre-de-Chaillot is one of the major concrete churches of Paris, and  a tourist area where it is located assures visitors and faithful. Well not really, visitors not many, locals a few more. It needs to be discovered by the visitors. The area is superb.

It has a triangular eardrum sculpted by Henri Bouchard on the façade. The sculptures of the left illustrate the evangelical life of the Apostle Peter from the time of Jesus. The straight sculptures tell us his apostolic life, his vocation and his martyrdom.  The frescoes by Nicolas Untersteller . The artist painted four large frescoes on the arches and pillars. He first engraved the outline of the drawing on the walls, then he posed the painting without completely eliminating the concrete. The result is very well aligned with the architecture.

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The work of Untersteller in summary of the  Creed representing the spiritual life of the Church associated with its symbols, such as Faith (through the sacraments, liturgical feasts); Holy (Beatitudes, theological virtues, cardinals, lives of the Saints),  Catholic (thus universal through the great Evangelizers), and  Apostolic (it is based on the apostles, the Evangelists, the councils).

The Church is built on a Greek cross style with five cupolas of octagonal shape. The bell tower is 62 meters high and it is to the left of the main façade on Avenue Marceau. It is a low Church, invisible from the outside, built as a crypt under the main Church. The large eardrum a triangular composition on the life of Saint Peter carved by Henri Bouchard above the three portals of the main façade.

Important people had their funerals here such as Philippe Lichtenstein ,French Colonel, 1892; Guy de Maupassant, French writer, 1893, and Marcel Proust  French writer, 1922.  From the old Church of Saint-Pierre-De-Chaillot, where Marcel Proust’s funeral took place on November 21, 1922, only a statue of the Virgin remains. The current church, sometimes dubbed the “Cathedral”, was inaugurated by Cardinal Verdier, on May 18, 1938.  Built to accommodate 1400 people, Saint-Pierre-De-Chaillot has the peculiarity of being the parish of the Apostolic nuncio, the Pope’s ambassador to France. The place was, during its construction, a true passage of artists.

The Church Saint Pierre de Chaillot webpage: https://eglise-chaillot.com/

The tourist office of Paris on the St Pierre de Chaillot Church: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71145/Eglise-Saint-Pierre-de-Chaillot

And so it awaits you the new artists of our time and all those travelers seeking history, architecture and harmonious living in our eternal Paris. Lovely church indeed.  It is an impressive big church with great architecture and engrave decorations on the walls, wonderful chapels and a nice modern prayer section; another view of Paris.

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

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November 30, 2020

Paris and Montparnasse !!!

Oh yes it has been a love affairs indeed! Paris and Montparnasse!!! I like to bring this short intro to the neighborhood I onced worked in my eternal Paris. Lots of good souvenirs of going for lunches around here and seeing beautiful architecture and history all around me. Hope you enjoy it as I do and thanks for reading me.

On my many trips to Paris now , once again I got in by Montparnasse. A vast area where there are still many symbols of the grandeur of Paris in the 1920’s and afterward, where I once worked and now go in to Paris at the Gare Montparnasse.

The smaller area is in the 14éme arrondissement de Paris or district in the 53rd quartier or neighborhood. Many people comes here and are told of the 20 districts of Paris that you find in the postal codes like 75 then the district or 75014. What many missed is the fact that since the creation of the new Paris by Baron Haussmann under Napoléon III in 1860 it was created into four quartiers or neighborhood per arrondissement or district ; therefore, Paris has 80 or four per district. (See my posts)

Some of the things to see in this neighborhood are the Barrière d’Enfer on the Mur des Fermiers généraux , the second barrier of roads in Paris today and was the wall set up between 1784 and 1790.  The sculpture of the Lion de Belfort in the Place Denfert-Rochereau (the symbol of the territory of Belfort ) It was done by Auguste Bartholdi and as the Statue of Liberté done by him ,both points in the same direction in Paris!

The wonderful boulevard du Montparnasse with some of the most famous cafés such as La Coupole and Le Dôme! The cimetiére du Montparnasse (cemetery) where rest in peace such names as Charles Baudelaire, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Samuel Beckett, Guy de Moupassant, Sainte Beuve, Serge Gainsbourg, etc.  The wonderful metro station Montparnasse-Bienvenüe (metro lines 4,6,12, and 13) that links to the Gare de Montparnasse train station. The theater or Théâtre Montparnasse, Bobino, Theater de la Gaîté-Montparnasse, Theater Rive Gauche, and the Theater d’Edgar. The wonderful crêperies on the heights of rue du Montparnasse reminds you of little Brittany or petit Bretagne. 

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The Fondation Cartier for the art contemporary, the Observatoire de Paris, the meridian of Paris crosses the district.  And the Prison de la Santé or health prison built in 1861 and has held many notables still to this day the only prison inside Paris city limits still today!!!

This area, which has become so famous, was only a place called close to the village of Vaugirard. At the site of the current Carrefour Vavin, at the corner of Boulevards du Montparnasse and Raspail, a pile of rubble had formed an artificial hillock.

Carriers, duelists or onlookers, many met in this place which then bore the name of “Mont de la Fronde”, because some trained there by stone throwing. It sometimes happened that students came to recite verses, not without a certain irony. Irony which will push some malicious to rename this mound in Mont Parnassus, in memory of the shelter of the muses of which the Greek mythology tells us. The premonition is all the more fun when you know the artistic profusion that will mark the history of the neighborhood. This name definitively adopted in 1773 when the rue du Montparnasse was pierced to make the junction between the rue Notre Dame des Champs and the Cour du Midi built under king Louis XIV. In time, the mound will be leveled. As for the famous Cour du Midi, it will be renamed a few years later to be transformed into Boulevard du Montparnasse.

At the beginning of the 20C, many artists will migrate from Montmartre to Montparnasse, considered more central. The district will have many workshops and cities of painters, many of which will be sacrificed during the savage renovation of the district in the 60s / 70s.

It is, also, my old working quartier and my entry point each time coming out from gare Montparnasse now. The restos around the Gare de Montparnasse are like my second home for many years. On this latest visit I step in into Café bar La Marine 59 bd Montparnasse,for a taste of some fish and chips with cold Carlsberg beers and a new taste of  IPA rather sweeter brew; just nice ,,,,as always. Great cozy tables and great sports match ambiance. Cannot confirm if open as the webpage does not work and due to the virus who knows,unfortunately. Here for the memories anyway!

The tourist office of Paris on the Montparnasse quartier! https://en.parisinfo.com/transport/73171/Quartier-de-Montparnasse

And there you go another day in Paris! Montparnasse became famous in the 1920’s and has gone thru periods of decline, but lately is coming back with many places of lecture and discussion sometimes in the same old places and sometimes in new places. We used to have a group by Pizza  Pino and it continues as far as I know. Hope you enjoy the post and do relive Montparnasse Paris!

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

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November 30, 2020

Auray , my new region of France!!

Well I guess the title is a pretty good one! I needed to update this post, well revise the text a bit and in black and white style, but a sentimental post. This goes back to 2011 the year I came to live and stay in the Morbihan dept 56 of my now lovely Bretagne. I have several posts on where we settle for an apartment in Brec”h that was very close to Auray about 6 km and made Auray our official city for all errands, and adminstrative needs. Therefore, I just want to update it. Hope you enjoy it. See my many posts on Auray too!

I am back to share the wonderful world of Auray, Morbihan, Bretagne,  France. Today, I will talk a bit about my new area the Pays ‘Auray. Its a agglomaration of several towns into a metropolitan system of cities. The capital and main city is Auray or An Alre in Breton language. Then you have St Anne d’Auray the most important religious site in Brittany as it is the site of the patron saint of Bretagne, Sainte Anne. 

Auray is to start very historical, one Benjamin Franklin landed by sea here at age 70! to tried to convince king Louis XVI the support for recognition and credits to the new nation of the United States of America; he got it!!! You can know all about by walking the quai Franklin in the old port district of St Goustan, an extention of the city center medieval look.

Here at the port, St Goustan ,you will find all good old world accommodation, great boating, and cruise ships to the outer islands, and plenty of cheers and bar,bistros,and restos which especially at dinner time makes you go back in time, romantic, nice, quiet, educated; great for the whole family. Its still one of our favorite areas to go out locally, and friends brought here love it too!

Maindering its cobblestone streets , you will see a plethora of shops typical of the area. You will love to climb the old Chateau d’Auray now in ruins ,thanks to the war of succession of Bretagne, but the climbing gives you a look over the town, the port area and beyond with magnificent views and at night very romantic! I have posts with these wonderful newer photos.

Over to the city center area crossing the old bridge or pont vieux you will come to the Halles, a covered market selling all the goodies of the land and sea. Plenty of  wandering old world streets, and beautiful shops,restos,bars etc.

See the Chapelle Eternel ,given to Franciscan friars in the 17C to established a school for girls today its richly preserved. Chapelle Ste Helene, one of the oldest in town chapels. Chapelle du Saint Esprit anothter old chapel of great architectural significance, today hold events like the Christmas celebrations.

Wonderful place de la Republique takes you in center stage to all the above areas;its where the halles or market is located. Going over to walking the street you will see plenty of maisons en bois or woodend houses of old, very nice. Another area is the Church of St Gildas,and Church of Charles-le-Blois (near train station) of historical significance, and the memorial to Cadoudal, a peasant chief who fought against the French revolution, his tomb is at Kerleano on his native land , a field of martyrs, and house of descendants today. The thousands of chouans or peasants Bretons who died are today at Chartreause of Brec’h.

The train station here was/is my public transport contact with the world as it has direct Roissy CDG TGV service as well as thru Montparnasse in Paris. There is an Auraybus service for free from the gare train station to the city center area in summer months, but walking is about 15 mins. The station today is about 15 minutes from current home in Pluvigner.

The Relais Franklin was a natural to have some crepes,cider ,and great views at St Goustan,and be right in American history too nearby plaque attesting to the landing of Benjamin Franklin and night over. The location was at 21 Place St Sauveur. Today, there is a new business there but the plaque stayed.

And to recap, my small town of Brec’h has about 2000 strong and part of the Auray agglo area, just 6 km from the train station! and direct access to the N165 main route linking Nantes to Brest and connection to everywhere on the road warrior, the place is name Brech or Brec’h in Breton.  The valley whre the Loc’h river runs toward the port de Saint-Goustan, connects with the Auray river before ending into the Gulf of  Morbihan, and the UNESCO world heritage site. Many chapels of old are here and the Ecomusée de Saint-Dégan , with all the natural beauty of the area and its agricultural past and present. See ,also, the Moulin de Treuroux or windmill.

One of the most beautiful chapels in all of the Morbihan dept is the Chapelle de Saint Quirin in the hamlet of St Guerin near me in Brech. The 16C Chapelle Notre Dame de Grâce is another jewel near me. A new chapel in the traditon of old is the one of Chapelle Notre Dame de la Route, near me in the village of Mané Salut.And the Chartreuse, the historical one as it was built after the battle of Auray in 1364 that face Jean de Montfort to his cousin and rival Charles de Blois, for the duchy of Brittany.

And if you want to learn the Breton traditional danse then come over for the  festoù-noz (night parties in breton) where the traditional dance puts together all the generations around music and dance bretons. Danses of two or three such as Laridés, Gavottes, Plinn, Fisel, An dro…and even in circles ! You come to the feast of « Les mardis de la Dañs » The tuesdays of the dance at  Brech (Brec’h) every tuesday in july and august at 20h at Park Kreisker and its free. Of course, with today’s virus the dates and times of these events needs to be verify in advance. You can get an idea but in French at this webpage Maison de la Culture et de la Langue Bretonnes or House of the Culture and Breton languages: https://www.tidouaralre.com/mardi-de-la-dans/p20.html

Of course, on the above monuments/sights i have individula posts all over my blog on Auray, Ste Anne d’Auray, Brec’h towns. This was an introduction to my new area and one i still move about on them. Really a nice area, we cannot say this is it as by history I moved every 5-6 years average but I have already 7 at current location! so so, nice area indeed. Hope you enjoy the post and Degemer mat or bienvenue or welcome!

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

November 30, 2020

Auray at Christmas!

Therefore, in my continuing pursue of updating and revising my old posts in my blog I come back to a very familiar town. When I first came to the Morbihan breton dept 56 my main town for train station, buses, administrative issues was Auray. I like to tell you a somewhat funny Christmas at Auray 2015!

I was at just 14 kms or about 9 miles away from it and do come often here. During the Christmas of 2015 we decided to come early for parking etc. We quickly found out the festivities started way later and we were walking around empty chalets lol!! We kept the spirit of Christmas anyway!

As the spirit of Christmas is amongst us all, we took a ride to the city this morning to see any preparation for Christmas as usually they have the better one in the area closer to me. Indeed the preparation were going on for the big night and the célébrations were to go on from December 14 and will last until December 31 2015.

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Tonite they will have jogglers performing and tomorrow the bulk really begins with a slate of activities.

All the activities will be concentrated this year in the Chapelle Saint Esprit for the Christmas market or Marché de Noêl and on the Village de Noêl at Place Notre Dame (square) by the Church of Saint Gildas (see post).  The Chapelle Saint Esprit is an excellent place of great historical value that has been preserve at all cost by the local people.

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The Chapelle Saint Esprit was one of the most important chapel in the commanderies of the order of Saint Esprit, the members defended and protected the poor, orphans and the sick. It was first built here by the Duke John II of Brittany that had also founded the Chapelle du Saint Sépulcre (where is now the parking area South of the current Chapelle). It was in the later, that the gisant of Christ was founded and recently restored.From the 14C the chapel has been enlarged by the Religious orders that were here. The Chapel lost its Religious vocation during the French revolution (as usual);and from 1794 it served as a military outpost, the famous HQ Dugueslin where it welcome soldiers until the 20C, it ,also ,serve as safe heaven for the population during WWII , later housed School children, firefigthers, and local associations. Today, it still holds cultural events and plays of many diverse nature.

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Enjoy the Christmas spirit wherever you are. Cheers and be merry, a very Merry Christmas to all my readers celebrating it.

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

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