October 12, 2021

Poissy, and Saint Louis!!!

And I am , again reviving old glories of my belle France. I used to lived not far from here, and came often , the shopping and the Church are really nice, and the local liquor fantastic. It is very easy from Paris too, can be done in half a day tour. I am talking about Poissy, in department 78 Yvelines, region of ïle de France. I did this as an introductory post in my black and white series, no pictures. I have other posts in my blog on the city. Hope you enjoy as I

The town of Poissy is only about 30 km from Paris and 8 km from Saint Germain en Laye as well as 23 km from Versailles, the capital of the department  (78) Yvelines. It is on the left bank of the Seine river in a stream of water limted by the forest of Saint Germain en Laye on the east and the Seine river on the west. It has a very good train bus terminal with the train on the Paris Le Havre line coming ouf of gare Saint Lazare in Paris and the terminus for the RER A. The regular train Transilien J takes you even to Mantes La Jolie and Vernon (Giverny) There is the A13 road passing by it on way to Normandy, the river road D153 is nice coming facing the Collegiale Church, and the D190 along the St Germain en Laye corridor as well as the D308; many intersecting roads with good car travel to and from Paris. The parking by the train station is good or along the Seine river park Meissonier.

The town has a long history starting with the Pincerais under the  Merovingians, and thereafter becomes one of the oldest Royal towns in Ïle de France, birthplace of kings Louis IX (Saint Louis) and  Philippe III. It was one of the earliest towns to received city designation in 1200 by king Philippe-Auguste, as well as an important religious town with convents of the Dominicans, Capuchins, and Ursulines before the French revolution.

Here is the bit of history I like

From the time of the Gauls ,Poissy  was a modest town of farmers and fishermen on the limit of the territory of the  Carnutes or  Chartres (Carnutum). They have discovered some tombs on the street of  rue de l’Église  when doing work that is from that period. On the Roman times, Poissy was one of the crossing points of the Seine river. Recently, they have found evidence of Antiquity or the Middle Ages by the area of the Royal Priory. Under the Merovingians, Poissy, was called  Pinciacum, and the territory extended to the north of the Seine river to the limit with the forest of Yvelines all including the valley of the Mauldre. Under the Capétiens, there was already a castle here and the first one old castle next to the collegiate Church was on a site of a hunting meeting place of the Mérovingiens. The second or new castle was built probably by Constance d’Arles, 3rd wife of king Robert II the Fair, and was at the enclos of the abbey next to the old castle. In 1200, king Philippe-Auguste gives this castle to his son Louis VIII on the occasion of his marriage to Blanche of Castile.

Saint Louis was born here in 1214, probably in the castle and was baptised in the parish Church of Notre Dame(see post), later he signed private letters as  Louis de Poissy or  Louis, lord of  Poissy  to remember his baptism here.  In 1297, the Pope Boniface VIII does the canonisation for Saint Louis here.  The king Philippe le Bel, founded an abbey of Dominicans here in honor of Saint Louis that was his grandfather.

In 1245, is born here Philippe III le Hardi, son of king Louis IX , and  Marguerite de Provence , and he ruled from 1270 to 1285.  During the War of Hundred Years in 1346 the king of England , Edward III pillage and burn the city  after landing in Normandy and coming along the Valley of the Seine, and defeat king Philippe VI de Valois at Crécy before his capture at Calais. In 1369, king Charles V ordered destroyed what was left of the castle of Poissy, that was burned in 1346 by the Black Prince son of the king of England. In 1429, the troops of Joanne of Arc takes the tower or tour de Béthemont aux Godons. Poissy is again occupied in 1441 by John Talbot and the English and again pillage the town and the abbey.

It is at Poissy in 1561 that the colloquial of Poissy takes place. This was organized by Catherine de Médicis, to meet Catholics and Protestants held on the refectory room after been restored from the pillages of John Talbot. The failure of the effort of reconciliation gave light to the Wars of Religion. Here in 1567, took place the Battle of Poissy between Calvinists (led by the Prince Condé) and Catholics.

In December 12/13 1840, the flotilla of transports carrying the rests of Emperor  Napoléon Ier made a stop at Poissy and a ceremony was held the Sunday December 13. An interesting anecdote, worth mentioning even if no longer there.  There was a live animal market here very important in the region, on the route Paris to Rouen to provide beef to Paris. It was the right to trade given by king Louis IX in 1245 and the names of some streets tells you of the activity that was here such as  rue de la Triperie (tripes) , rue des Moutons (lambs), rue du Bœuf couronné (beef), ruelle aux Vaches (cows). This concentration of animals also needed great expanse of land that was to be built on it . In 1867, the live animal market of Poissy, was cancelled and transferred to the new market at Villette  in Paris on that year.

During the Franco Prussian war of 1870, the town was occupied for several months in 1870/71. The bridge was mined to slow down the Prussian advance arriving from Saint Germain en Laye; the town was submitted to requisitions and needed to maintained a regiment of cavalry and their horses. During WWI, Poissy was in the field of tranches from Paris and many fortified works were done in town, the town hosted two military hospitals for the battlefront wounded.

From 1928 to 1931 the architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret dit Le Corbusier  built the villa  Les Heures claires better known as the Villa Savoye. IT was damaged during WWII and taken by the city in 1958 that wanted demolished. A campaign was done with the intervention  of  d’André Malraux ,then Minister of Culture to save the villa,and of course it was succesful. In 2016, a convention between the town of Poissy and the Fondation Le Corbusier was signed to open the museum Le Corbusier.  During WWII the town was again occupied by the Nazis from 1940 to 1944. The town of Poissy is liberated by the American army in August 26 1944.

Some things to see in Poissy me think

The main sight to see is the Collégiale Church of Notre Dame, (see post) a Roman style of the 12C with two octagonal bells and restored in the 19C. The old bridge of Poissy dates from the 12C destroyed in 1944; it was 410 meters long with 24 arcs now only 3 remains connecting the left bank of the Seine to the isle Migneaux in the middle of the river . It has been replaced by a new bridge of about 300 meters long. The Porterie of the Priory is what is left of the old abbey of Dominicans where the Colloquial of Poissy was held. The Priory founded by king Philippe le  Bel in the 13C was destroyed i the 18C including the Saint Louis Church. The Porterie houses today a very nice old toys museum.

The city hall or Hôtel de ville at rue de la Gare was an old convent of the Capuchins dating from 1620 transformed into city hall/school in 1837. A new city hall was done opening in  1937 with the innovation of integrating a theater.  Renovated in 1991, the theater room has an exceptional accoustic hosting concerts and recordings. The Pavillon de l’Octroi, on an octagonal shape built in 1830 replaces the old gate to Paris (today the tourist office of Poissy).  It has sculptured symbolising the activities of the town at the time such as fishing, agriculture, and live animal market.

The Villa Les Heures Claires  aka Villa Savoye built from 1928-1931 as mentioned above. It is constructed in armored cement with geometrical lines on pylons.  It was occupied by the Nazis and later the Americans during WWII and later abandon for a long period and even in 1958 taken 6 hectares to built a high school lycée Le Corbusier. The STate took over in 1964 and important restorations were done in the 1980-1990 period.

The wonderful delicous Distillerie du noyau de Poissy a herbs liquor with a secret recipe with a store at the rue du Général-de-Gaulle. The Maison Centrale de Poissy or prison been before the convent of the Ursulines from the end of the 17C, renovated since to house the prison. The Château de Villiers, built on orders of the baron Léonce Hély d’Oissel (1803 – 1883). A Louis XIII style building done in stone and brick. In 1976 the town purchase it to open a playcenter; which the presence of the castle makes it very romantic. The Château de La Coudraie, built in 1870  is located in the rue de Migneaux.

The Château de Bethemont,modified in 1858, today host a park and golf course. The manoir normand de Donat Agache built in 1928. The Chapel or Chapelle Saint-Lazare de la Maladrerie,dating from 1120-1140, discovered by an archeologist Edgar Mareuse (1848 – 1926). The tower or tour de Bethemont built in the 14C to 15C damage in 1429 while been reconquered by the troops of Joanne d’Arc and taken by the English that made it uninhabited and of no use.

The 12 hectares park or  parc Meissonier  from city center along the avenue du Bon Roi Saint-Louis (road D153). It has an English style park with a lake of 8 000 m2,a rosary , a theater and a green house.  Owned by the city since 1952 arranged from part of the old enclos of the abbey. The parc de Villard, next to parc Meissonier, own by the city since 1976 ,has a castle, playground and mini farm.

As an anecdote of our memories we came to shop at the Art de Vivre shopping center in Orgeval very close to Poissy and along the A13; it was always a nice family outing; now I read that the stores are gone, the centrer deserted and the town trying to find investments to change it but so far nothing, Sadly another memory erase physically but always remember by us.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip ,worth a detour are :

The City of Poissy on its heritage in French: https://www.ville-poissy.fr/index.php/sport-culture/equipements-culturels.html

The Terres en Seine tourist office for Poissy:  https://www.terres-de-seine.fr/?s=poissy

The Yvelines Dept 78 tourist office on Poissy: https://www.sortir-yvelines.fr/Art-et-culture/Art-et-culture-dans-les-Yvelines/visite-decouverte-yvelines/visiter-poissy-ville-royale

The Ïle de France region tourist board on Poissy : https://www.visitparisregion.com/en/what-to-see-and-do/museums-and-monuments?search=poissy&page=0

There you go folks another dandy in my belle France.  Hope you enjoy the post on wonderful Poissy. I think is worth a detour. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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October 12, 2021

Chateau d’Anet, and Diane de Poitiers !!

I go back in memory time to update this wonderful post about an unique castle, and a grand lady in the Eure et Loir dept 28 in Centre Val de Loire region , This is the Château d’Anet ,it was ordered built in 1543 by king Henri II for Diane de Poitiers. One of the gems on the history of France. I have another post more on the castle and this one more on Diane ; hope you enjoy it as I.

You can come by car from Paris leaving Porte Maillot and taking the A13 direction Rouen, go out at exit/sortie 12 towards Mantes Sud and follow the D928 all the way to Anet. By public transport is long but doable, get on Paris Montparnasse to Dreux train station,and there take the bus L05 direction of Coolen (La Chaussée-d’Ivry) , and descend at stop Boxhorn in Anêt,

The Château dAnet has lots of damage over the years and only exist today from the original a square in U or horseshoe in the left wing that was renovated in the 17C. After the French revolution, the new owner in 1804 had blown up the central body and the right wing of the castle; must have been a revolutionary… !

Many of the wonderful objects here were transferred to Fontainebleau and the fine arts museum of Chartres. The engraving by Rigaud showing 14 busts decorating the exterior walls facing the garden were sent to the Library of Chartres and the archeological society of the Eure et Loir etc. By 1723, the princess de Condé inherit Anet but 171 manuscripts were sold to the library many belonging to Diane de Poitiers preserved after her death. Many more hand changing afterward too long to mention. During WWI one of the owners since 1884 made it into an auxiliary hospital of the Red Cross; and the last owners Jean et Alexandra de Yturbe have it since 1998.

anet-chateau-anet-castle-diane-jun10

Now ,who was Diane de Poitiers? well she was born in 1499 in the castle of her grandfather Chateau de Saint Vallier that gave her the title of Countess of Valentinois and the shield of Poitiers. She was an able jockey and at an early age joined the court of Anne de Beaujeu and Louis XII. Maid of honor of the queen Anne and later of the future queen Claude (wife of François I) she assisted of his crowning in 1515. She married same year to Louis de Brézé, (40 yrs older) who was a grandson of King Charles VII of France. Louis de Brézé was Lord of Anet, Count of  Maulevrier, Seneschal of  Normandy and Master of the Hunt,  and she reach a nobility rank second only to a princess ,and choose to lived in Anet. Upon king François I death, the children are given for care to Diane in 1524.  Brief in 1531 her husband Louis de Blézé dies and she became known as the lady in black, wearing that color for a long period.

Called upon to the court again in 1533 to help Catherine de Medici into her new life in France and the French customs. She eventually becomes the lover of king Henri II by 1536-1537 thereabouts at the Château d’Ecouen, the favorite home of Anne de Montmorency. During their long relationship and ‘against-all-odds’ love, Henri and Diane created a love symbol that would be engraved all over Paris  even on Henri’s cannons. Their symbol contained two interwoven D’s with a line through the middle, forming an H. Even today, the symbol can be seen on the ceiling of the Louvre Museum, Fountainbleau, Chenonceaux, and the Paris Military Museum. Henry designed his own armor with the symbol  as a sign to France that his true love was not his wife, but Diane.

For her love and affection to the king and the help for Catherine de Medici to give him a child, she was given the Château de Chenonceau (see post) in the Loire valley.  differences began to appear between the mistress Diane and the queen Catherine of Henri II. Catherine did not invite Diane to Henri’s funeral, and she immediately banished her from Chenonceau. Diane moved to her castle in Anet, where she lived in comfortable obscurity for the rest of her life. 

Diane, took over the Château de Chaumont sur Loire (see post) after Catherine had decorated ugly and change everything inside and donates it to her daughter Françoise. Diane comes back again to Anet already at 64 yrs old and still looking good. Finally, two years later in 1566 she died at Anet. She gave away her fortunes to the daughters and the convents in the area, and upon her funeral the poor dressed in white and sang pray God for Diane de Poitiers. She is buried in the Chapel at Anet, during the French revolution the revolutionaries open her tomb and cut her hair to make hair strands in 1795 !

anet-chateau-danet-tomb-of-diane-de-poitiers

She had been kind to her husband to whom she had been faithful, kind to her daughters whom she had made rich. She had loved a King who had adored and respected her and made her happy. She was an example of great energy with a heritage of beauty exalted in France and became one of its glories.” and further Leonardo da Vinci wise formula may have been her guide: ‘That thou hast acquired in thy youth stays the damage of old age, and if thou dost understand that wisdom is the food of the eld so do that thine old age may not lack sustenance’.

Diane de Poitiers, moon mistress, was quite simply a woman for all time.  The sculpture once surmounted the monumental La Fontaine de Diane (The Fountain of Diana). It dates to the mid 16C, where it was originally placed in the courtyard of the Château d’Anet built by Philibert de L’Orme for Diane de Poitiers, Henry II’s mistress. In the 18C,  the fountain was moved to the nymphaeum before being confiscated during the French revolution when it was transferred to the Musée des Monuments Français in 1798. In 1799-1800, it was restored , and placed in the museum’s Elysée Garden. It was then claimed by the duchess of Orléans, owner of the Château of Anet at the time of the revolution and finally allocated to the Louvre at Paris by ministerial decree in 1819.  The sculpture depicts a semi-reclining Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, accompanied by her two dogs, Phrocyion and Cyrius, clearly depicted as a greyhound and a water spaniel. She has one arm around the neck of the majestic stag.

The official site for the castle of Anethttps://www.chateau-d-anet.com/

The city of Anet on the castlehttp://www.ville-anet.fr/culture-loisirs-tourisme/chateau-d-anet

A fascinating story and women, today she could be a role model but she was ahead of her time indeed. Hope you enjoy the story; The Château d’Anet and Diane de Poitiers are always intertwine in history ,the good one of France. Worth the detour me think,

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

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October 11, 2021

The world comes to Le Mans!!

I am going back to my early days when I was chasing or been chase car racing in Daytona. Well , here we got a pretty good one if not better race and it has a lot more than cars, with a very old city. I am talking about Le Mans. This will be an update on text and links in my black and white series ,no pictures. See my many posts on Le Mans and their pictures! This was my introductory post on the city, hope you enjoy it as I.

Le Mans is in the department of the Sarthe no 72 in the region of Pays de la Loire. The city is at the meeting point of the Sarthe and Huisne rivers, former provincial capital of the Maine and Perche from the 16C. Here the marriage of Geoffroy V d’Anjou and Mathilde l’Emperesse,daughter of the  king of England  created the basis for the Plantagenêt empire , and the birth of Henri II.  The old Le Mans called the Cité Plantagenêt (or Plantagenêt city) has been the historical neighborhood of the city, known as the Red city for the color of its gallo roman ramparts of which part is still visible,dating from the 3C!  The city is about 185 km from Paris. You some small gardens/parks here such as the jardin des plantes, with some remnants of the old periods of explorations ,it has an English garden, and another French garden with a rosary and a music kiosk. There is the parc du musée de Tessé  that with the Quinconces des Jacobins makes a nice green area in the middle of the city, and on the high ground you have the esplanade du Bicentenaire, another wooded park with a nice view over the Sarthe river below.  The  Jardins Pierre-de-Ronsard,has three gardens by the Chuch collegiale of Saint-Pierre-La-Cour.  Below the tunnel, there is the square Dubois, not far from the old town area where the Plantagenêt Rose was created  with a grenade color and petals of gold 22 karat in 2009.

For moving and transport, this is a big train station that I used sometimes in my travels as a correspondence stop. The first train station was done here in 1852 connecting  Paris, and later Rennes, Angers, and Nantes.  By road,you have a big exchange circle here with the A11 Paris-Nantes ,the A81 Le Mans-Rennes, and the A28 Rouen-Tours.  A fast expressway the D323 makes the grand circle of Le Mans and joins up with the A28 coming from Tours (exit d’Auvours), and the A11  direction Nantes  (exit d’Allonnes-Le Mans ZI Sud). The A11 and the A81 is taken by yours truly several times. There is a public network, which I have no experience at all. Nice parking by place de la République. There is no better way than walking once in town, lovely architecture and history abound.

A bit of history I like

The city is known since the 2C BC under the name of Vindinon and on the gallo roman times the name of Vindunum was mentioned by the geographer Ptolémée.  The city takes by the 4C the name Gallouis of  Aulerques  Cénomans,and the first mentioned as such  under Mans is from the 12C in a novel Rou calling it Prez del Mans.  A charter from 1264 gives the name of Mans.  The placement of the  le took place in the 12C on a change in language usages.

Le Mans is considered the first city to have done an European treaty of alliance between the German town of Paderborn ; this was called the light of Europe and was signed in 836. Its inhabitants can said to be the first city attached to the royal power of France in 1066.  The city has many alias such as been called the Capital of Automobile sports, international automobile capital or the birthplace of automobile ( auto club race in 1906 but I know my  Ormond Beach, Fla had world record racing in 1902).

The first commercial available car in production was done here, the Red City for the color of its ramparts , the city of blood in gold for the color of its flag . The city of lights from the 19C as was one of the first ones to received electricity. The gate to the west for its car highways around it, the city of was from the 16C to the 19C production of wax here and candles; last factories closing in the 19C . The city of lace from the 17C to the 18C, and the city of leather makers from the 12C to the 18C.

A bit of history I like:

By the 9C the city was a fortress against the invading armies of all groups, the Bretons were pushed back and the Vikings came in force along the river . The city was conquered by William the Conqueror of Normandy in around 1060 and even decided to stayed and to do a donjon with two elevator moats the grand and petit Barbet. Geoffroy le Bel received in 1129 the count of Maine as heredity title as well as the count of Anjou and Touraine. He reigned over the territory from 1128 to 1151 and the senator of Anjou and Maine marries in 1128 the daughter of the king of England, Mathilde (fr) the granddaughter of William, she not only gave to Normandy but also the hope of one day reign over England. Their son Henri II born at Le Mans in 1130 did becomes king of England in 1154 and managed the Plantagenet empire from Angers and Chinon, a more vast domaine than the king of France of which he was subordinate! The empire ends by 1189 by king Philippe Auguste and the city does not return French than in 1448 .The last count of Maine Charles V died in 1481 and the domains possession were given to the king of France, Louis XI, and for this Maine returns to the Royal domain.

 The battle of Mans in 1793 was the most deadly encounter of the war of the Vendée against the French revolution. The Vendéen army arrives at Le Mans in December 10, 1793 but rather disorganized were needed to take back to Laval. The dead are between 10k to 15K Vendéens sometimes with atrocities. The city was retaken by the Chouans, the Breton farmers fighting the French revolution in 1799 and later the Empire as well (been Royalists). By June 19 1940 during the battle of France the Nazis of the 38 corps takes the city.  The city is liberated by the The city of Le Mans was liberated August 8 1944 by the 3rd Army of General George Patton; 15th Corp of Gen Haslings.

There are lots of things to see here, at Le Mans.

There is the neighborhood where you can see traces of the first battle of Mans, below the bridge or the current Pont de Pontlieue  as here were the Vendéens bridge. There is the former Municipal Theater done in 1842, and the city host today the 24 hours of Le Mans.  The course is here since 1923 and is done every year in June on the circuit of more than 13 km. The old town is encircled by  roman ramparts built at end of the 3C and well preserved. The most important witness to military architecture of France and the best preserve in Europe after Rome. The thermes or spas of Vindunum are now in the school of fine arts. There are several domus and the most visible is that one at the Halles or market, the forum is located under the Cathedral at the lowest point of the hill of Old Mans. The cité Plantagenêt or city is at the heart of the medieval Le Mans ,at the interior of a wall you have the old Le Mans or Vieux Mans or old town with many houses from the renaissance. Especially the house of Adam and Eve, and Hôtel de Clairaulnay and Hôtel de Vaux, a count and royal palace of Maine (now the city hall) and the Collegiale Church of Saint Pierre-la-Cour.

The Place de la République is a big pedestrian square in city center, before it was called Place des halles, as it welcome the wheat market that was destroyed in the 19C. There is the place des Jacobins ,the second biggest in Le Mans by the old ramparts of old Mans and where the Cathedral is located. The Place des Comtes-du-Maine is there out of the need recently to have a central open space in city center , located by the avenue François-Mitterrand, the main road leading you to the train station gare Nord, where there is always great traffic! and has an underground parking. The place de l’Éperon is a nice area too with heavy traffic.  The place Saint-Nicolas is in the heart of the neighborhood of same name , was an old area in the old town and was very commercialise; the rich built great mansions around here by the 19C.

The must to see are the Saint Julien Cathedral with roman architecture on the nave and gothic on the choir and abside. It has a gothic top high of 33 meters and the Cathedral itself was built in the 11C and 15C, with the stained glass done for the most part in the 13C. You have the nice Collegiale Church of Saint Pierre-la-Cour built in the 10C after the Norman invasions of the 9C, and renovated again by Henri II Plantagenêt in 1175 before it was enlarged in 1267 with the help of Charles III d’Anjou; this was the former lordship chapel of the counts of Maine and part of the royal and count palace; today it is a place for expositions and meetings.

You, also , have the nice Grabatoire palace or palais du Grabatoire a canons house built between 1538 and 1542 by the bishop of Le Mans. Here in 1612, Marshal  Lavardin aka Jean de Beaumanoir, received the young Louis XIII ,and the governor care for the regent Marie de Médicis, that felled sick in the trip. You have the beautiful house or Maison de la Reine Bérengére housing now the museum of the Reine Béréngère housing the work of arts of the Sarthe region history and life in Le Mans. The wife of Richard the lion hearted never lived in the house, that was initially done as a salt stock in the 15C, the house is totally in wood with ornaments carvings and sculpture, columns etc. The house of Adam and Eve or Maison d’Adam et Eve was built in 1520, the name comes from an ornament on top of the entry door. The first floor (2nd US) has massive pillars. You have the house of the two friends or Maison des Deux Amis located in the rue de la reine Bérengère built in the 15C by a rich merchant. The house of the red pillar or Maison du Pilier Rouge was built in the 15C as well, with poles holding it on a floor of stones to protect it from humidity.

There are several nice mansions worth a detour me think. These are the Hôtel des Ursulines  as it was the former school for girls from the 17C.  It has a huge glass enclosure that today is the tourist office of Le Mans. The oratory chapel or Chapelle de l’Oratoire was built in 1683 next to the school of the Oratory, and today is part of the school complex of the Montesquieu.  The Hôtel Nepveu de Rouillon from the 18C and today the resident of the craftsman workers of France or the Compagnons du devoir,heirs to the great builders of the middle ages.  The Chapelle de la Visitation located in the Place de la République is a building in the Regence style in the city, the Church was founded in 1723. In the 20C columns were added to make it a courthouse or justice palace.

Built in the 11C the bridge or pont des Vendéens  was attack in the war of the Vendée fand allowed the city folks to prepare the defense before their arrival; you can see some remains of this bridge in the neighborhood of Pontlieue,south side of the city. The nice mansion Hôtel Desportes de Linières, located at the place de l’Éperon, has a nice facade on the 9 rue des Boucheries by the market area. It was built in three levels with about 8 rooms per floor; the hotel sufferes degradation but finally restored to see the luxurious rooms decorated on the Italian style and full of marble. The nice Tessé museum or Musée de Tessé is a mansion from the 19C former episcopal palace. One of the great museums of Le Mans, and one of the first ones created after the French revolution. Today it is recognized to have Egyptian collections of great value as well as portraits from the 17C to 19C. The stock exchange or Bourse du Mans started in 1866 and finished in 1890 located on the south side of the Place de la République. Today , it houses the chamber of commerce and industry of the Sarthe.

The shop or Atelier Cosson built in 1873 at 10 rue du Crucifix. This mansion in brick and stones was built as the photography studio of  Gustave Cosson , a famous local photographer.  By 1980 on a new urban developement the street is eliminated ; the shop is dismantle stone by stone and move to the rue Montauban. Today ,this shop mansion Cosson is part of the House of the Attorneys. The tunnel des Jacobins is a section done on the hill of old Mans created in 1873 to avoid traffic in city center ;nice to take a ride on it!   The abbey of Epau or the Abbaye de l’Épau is a former Cistercian abbey founded by the Reine Bérengère of Navarra in 1229. The tomb of the queen is in the Capitol room. The abbey received many cultural events and others such as the festival of classical music of Epau. It is a bit outside of town at about 4 km east on the left bank of the Huisne river, by the town of Yvré-l’Évêque.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this wonderful old city ,which needs lots of time as you can see from the above. I have written on some of them in my blog already especially the 24 hrs of Le Mans!!! the museum next door is excellent too.

The city of Le Mans on its heritage: https://www.lemans.fr/dynamique/des-idees-de-visite/les-monuments/

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

The Sarthe dept 72 tourist office on 24 hrs of Le Mans! https://www.sarthe-tourism.co.uk/experience-le-mans-24-hours

The Pays de la Loire region on Le Mans: https://www.atlantic-loire-valley.com/suggestions/le%20mans

There you go folks, a wonderful , gorgeous, historical city of Le Mans with stunning architecture, a must to see in my belle France. Hope you have enjoy the introduction and welcome eventually to this nice town of the Pays de la Loire region. And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

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October 11, 2021

Re-visit my Montparnasse!

I am going to update this older post sort of an introduction to an area dear to me as worked there several years, This is the wonderful historical part of Paris that is one of my favorites and one of my work hangouts while working right by rue de Départ!! Of course, I am talking about Montparnasse, the neighborhood or quartier in the 14éme arrondissement or district of Paris!

The name itself brings out the artsy, vibrant, gaiety of the Paris we came to love and enjoy , and still do. I was lucky to worked by this area and enjoy all its splendor and many good restaurants and bars lol! I like to use this post thus on the history of the area as have many other posts on Montparnasse in my blog, Pictures will be minimal for the same reason.

The name of Montparnasse is used since the 17C on the old square of the Vaugirard neighborhood in the  14éme  arrondissement and Notre-Dame-des-Champs neighborhood in the 6éme arrondissement of Paris.  The name given made reference to the  Mont Parnasse, a hill in the center of Greece that according to Greek mythology lived the muses; the students of the Latin quarter by  1725, call it a hill of garbage , on an artificial hill between the roads of boulevard du Montparnasse ,and  boulevard Raspail. The name took force after the creation of the street rue du Montparnasse in 1773 and after been called cours du Midy since 1700. The name of  Mont Parnasse  was given to the whole neighborhood in the middle of the 19C. However, the name of  Montparnasse has a larger perimeter as many of its most emblematic places are in the neighborhoods of  Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Necker , and Plaisance. It is surrounded  on the North by the blvd du Montparnasse and blvd de Port Royal, to the east by the rue de la Santé, to the south by the plains of the bvld Saint-Jacques (along the line 6 of Metro), place Denfert-Rochereau,  a section of the rue Froidevaux,  rue Boulard , and rue Daguerre,  to the southwest a section of the avenue du Maine , and on the northwest by the  rue du Départ.  A large part is occupy by the cemetery of Montparnasse.

The Quartier or neighborhood  Montparnasse No 53  in the 14éme arrondissement or district (see my posts on quartiers and arrondissements),  created in 1860 and with emblematic streets such as rue du Montparnasse , boulevard du Montparnasse, and  place Pablo-Picasso . There is a remnants of a barrier wall built in 1786 and now demolished on what is now the Metro Edgar Quinet;  and the barrier of hell or Barrière d’Enfer still existing on the wall of the  general farmers building. The cemetery of Montparnasse , where rest in peace  Charles Baudelaire, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Samuel Beckett, Guy de Maupassant, Serge Gainsbourg , and many more notables. The wonderful train station, my own now coming into Paris from Brittany ,the gare Montparnasse, as well as the convenient metro station Montparnasse – Bienvenüe. You go out and see the big one, the  tour Montparnasse  with 59 floors and 210 meters high.

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Other nice things around here are the Casino Montparnasse at  35, rue de la Gaîté, where it was created the operetta  La Belle de Cadix in  1945, and actor/comedian Bourvil came to be known. The theater Montparnasse nearby in  rue de la Gaîté built in  1886, and renovated in 1930. Finally the catacombs from the end of the 18C with 6 millions bones put into subterranean galleries  with an entrance at  1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy. The wonderful green garden of  jardin Atlantique on the upper levels of the gare Montparnasse since  1990. The sculpture of the lion of Belfort,on the  place Denfert-Rochereau. The Fondation Cartier for contemporary arts , the  Observatoire de Paris. The neighborhood is also crossed by the meridian of Paris ; and the health prison or Prison de la Santé.  Not to forget the museum of Montparnasse  at 21 avenue du Maine, and the Galerie Les Montparnos, at  5 rue Stanislas, that specialise on the school of Paris of the 1920’s and the discovery of artists painters forgotten  of the Montparnasse painting between the two world wars. Wonderful shopping even with Galeries Lafayette at Montparnasse rive gauche mall in the Necker neighborhood or quartier of the 15éme arrondissement or district of Paris ! The works!!

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Books, plays, cinema all about Montparnasse made famous over the years with the restaurants La Coupole , and Le Dôme.  And many Americans seeking arts with their fortunes such as Gertrude Stein, Peggy Guggenheim, Edith Wharton ,and Harry Crosby  as well as critics like D.H Lawrence, Archibald MacLeish, James Joyce, Kay Boyle, Hart Crane, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Dorothy Parker, and many more.

The Paris tourist office on Montparnasse neighborhood or quartierhttps://en.parisinfo.com/transport/73171/Quartier-de-Montparnasse

The city of Paris, entertainment webpage on what is on in Montparnasse in French: https://www.sortiraparis.com/arts-culture/balades/articles/162658-ou-sortir-dans-le-quartier-de-montparnasse-a-paris

My wonderful train station arriving from Bretagne, the gare Montparnasse: https://www.garesetconnexions.sncf/fr/gare/frpmo/paris-montparnasse

A wonderful arrondissement/district and even gorgeous neighborhoods/quartiers of plenty to do all day and night long. Hope you have enjoy it as I do. This is wonderful Montparnasse ! Of Paris ,of course !

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

October 11, 2021

Goh Lanno sports park of Pluvigner!!!

I have written many posts on my town of Pluvigner and glad to do it, as not always should be places visited far away but up close and personal as my blog is, In the running, also written on the parc Goh Lanno, which is not far from my house ; so much we walked our dog Rex there every day, This time went to see how the new stands are doing and took new pictures, therefore, this is the time for an update on the Goh Lanno sports complex of Pluvigner. This is my town in the beautiful Morbihan breton dept 56 of my lovely Bretagne and my belle France.

plu goh lanno main complex entr oct21

Surely, for a small town of about 7.5K folks , this is one of the best sports complex around and we are very happy about it and even more so because it is walking distance from my house. The parc Goh Lanno is not to be confused to the adjoint collége Goh Lanno or middle school. One of my sons plays for the football/soccer team but today were playing away in Mendon, and I did not go,,,,not in every game lol !

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In my previous post, told you about the history of the park and even a bit on Pluvigner but this time will base it on the new construction with new pictures. There is a new basketball court, a renovated petanque (a sort of open air bowling with precision throws) , a huge sports complex for indoor basketball/volleyball, and others like judo etc, A rugby field and the best 3 football/soccer fields.

plu goh lanno basket courts oct21

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One football/soccer field is a training ground and jogging conditioning. There is a second artificial grass field for official games, and the main stands field with sports booth. On the main stadium there are changing rooms and showers as well.

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plu goh lanno secondary stade field oct21

plu goh lanno training field oct21

For a recap, the facilities there in two halls green and blue were put into service between 1975-1984, this sports space is of the multisports hall type, it has a synthetic floor ,and has 100 seats in the grandstand. The development area is 1484 m2 on the main stadium, You can practice 9 sports activities at Complexe Sportif De Goh Lanno: handball, mini hand, beach handball, basketball , track running, other dances, karate, karate jutsu , goshin jutsu, kobudo, nihon tai-jutsu, taijitsu, nambudo, ninjutsu, nunchaku, …also, indoor hockey, field hockey, badminton, shuttlecock game , volleyball, beach volleyball, green volleyball, and tennis.

The city of Pluvigner on the parks and Goh Lannohttps://www.pluvigner.fr/equipements-sportifs/

There you go folks, a nice walk from my house to showcase the wonderful Goh Lanno sports park of Pluvigner. Of course, if you stop by , this is a nice place to meet and there are even picnic tables there…! A nice rest stop on your way to the beaches south. Hope you enjoy the personal sports post!

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

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October 10, 2021

Curiosities of Saint Jean Pied de Port!!

I am bringing you back to one of my fav areas of my belle France. This is deep pyrénées and basque country of Saint Jean Pied de Port!!  I have written before, but left several nice pictures out and decided they should be shown in my blog, So, therefore, this is all new text and older pictures, Hope you enjoy it as I 

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (in Basque Donibane Garazi) is located in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department 64, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. It is located 118 km from Pau, where we were base this time , and we took the easy way by the Autoroute 64 and the D 933 via Orthez and Saint-Palais (see posts).

The town is located on 3 pilgrimage routes to Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle,(Santiago de Compostela) If you arrived, by the north, you see the chapel of the Madeleine, the pilgrims entered the upper town by the Porte Saint-Jacques, then followed the rue d ‘Espagne to the bridge over the Nive. There, two routes were available to them to reach Roncesvalles: that of the port of Cize, which follows the route of the ancient Iter XXXIV of the Antonine Route linking Bordeaux to Astorga, or the easier one that joins the col de Roncesvalles (puerto de Ibañeta in Spanish) by Valcarlos, located in the Nive valley, where Charlemagne once established his camp, before flying to Roland’s aid in Roncesvalles. At the Maison Laborde, at 39 rue de la Citadelle, the welcoming staff inform the pilgrims: The pilgrims’ office is not a Tourist Office they claim for all to hear ; that of St Jean Pied de Port is responsible for tourist info. The welcoming must respect strict neutrality in the information concerning the orientation of pilgrims to refuges and other accommodation.

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In the Maison des Pélerins there is a boutique, webpage: https://www.boutique-du-pelerin.com/en/

There is ,also, a weekly market  held every Thursday, from 9h at the covered market, in season from June to September. Gourmets can find cold meats, cheeses, jams, local honey, Basque cakes… Local artisans will also be there to present their articles. The covered market is located in Zuharpeta, behind the city walls at 12 Place des Remparts. The usual outdoors market is open from 8h to 13h. These times may vary depending on the weather and the season.We loaded up coming here, love it and also visit some wonderful foodie places such as

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We went for the basque macarons at the La Fabrique de Macarons on 25 rue de la Citadelle, yummy for desserts. here they had almonds, chocolate, lemon, noix de coco, almonds with piment d’espelette, flavors that we clean up the house. Webpage: http://www.lafabriquedemacarons.fr/

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The La Caves aux Fromages  or cheese cellars is located at 2 pl des Remparts near the covered market,,We clean up on brebis(ewe)  cheeses in different shapes and textures from Ossau-Iraty region simply awesome we eat them at home like bread lol!!! On the spot they taste even better lol!!. This is the fromagerie des Aldudes who produces these wonderful cheeses for the cave. webpage: https://fromage-brebis.com/

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And to end it all, we stop by the store of Etienne Brana, one of the original Irouléguy wine and do not forget the apéritf wine Txapa ! You can, also tour their winery, but we decided to go for the wine at the store instead on 6 rue de l’église. Brief story of this venerable wine of the Basque country tell us that the family has been doing wine here for more than a century ,and already four generations of family in the wine business, In 1974 Etienne Brana and his wife Adrienne created a distillery and planted pear William. Martine and Jean their children continue the tradition today. webpage: https://www.brana.fr/

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip and all worth it are

The Basque country tourist office on St Jean de Pied : https://www.en-pays-basque.fr/territoires-et-destinations/le-pays-de-saint-jean-pied-de-port/

The city of Saint Jean Pied de Port on the way of Santiagohttps://www.st-jean-pied-de-port.fr/decouvrir/sur-le-chemin-de-st-jacques/

The French Basque country tourist office on St Jean Pied de Port : https://www.en-pays-basque.fr/territoires-et-destinations/le-pays-de-saint-jean-pied-de-port/saint-jean-pied-de-port/

There you go folks, a dandy of a town in Saint Jean Pied de Port, we love it already visited twice and looking forward for more, See my other posts on town’s many sights, worth the detour indeed

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

October 10, 2021

The wonderful M-30 beltway of Madrid!!!

As you know, love the road and freedom that it provides, and just glancing at my blog realized in a particular way have yet to write about one of my nicest memories on the road and I was there from the beginning of it all! Not usual for a blogger to write about a betlway circular highway, and driving in a big city , however, this is my Madrid I dare to drive in it

The M 30 is a beltway semi circular road of Madrid, the first one, and it is a 3 because it is actually the third beltway in history of Madrid. In 1857 was built the first circular road name the M10, running by Calle Princesa, plaza Colón, paseo de Recoletos, Gran Vía, and Calle de Alcalá. The second attempt was shorty afterward called the Paseo de Ronda, but popularly called the M20. It ran by the calle de Raimundo Fernández Villaverde, calle del Doctor Esquerdo, calle de Pedro Bosch, calle de Joaquín Costa and calle de Francisco Silvela. In 1929, it is spoken of a third beltway and called the M30 ; this plan was approved in 1942 but due to economic constraints and WWII it was not started until 1970 !! Ah yes the M is for Madrid of course ! I was living in the city, when they started building it and left when they had finished it! It has been a trademark to drive on it after finished in 1974! Of course, could not drive then, but walk over its arch and passarelle many times until finally able to drive on it in 1982 and thereafter,

The pretty arch (photo from arch to M30) over it passes near the Monumental bullfight arena of Las Ventas (see post)  on Calle de Alcalà on the way to my piso (apartment in Quintana metro line 5 stop). It seems every visit  I need to take somebody by here and tell of all the businesses there,gone and new over the years. Some like where my Mom purchase my first shoes are still there (Victor Calzados) and of course I purchase my boys shoes there too! The restaurant where we spent many evenings and I do concur the best patatas bravas of Madrid, Docamar since 1963 still there! I remember, going by bus P13 (today 113) to the baseball field of Elipa,(see post) now a huge sports complex park and baseball field still there, the Madrid baseball federation is base there etc. Now ,you can even go there from Calle Doctor Esquerdo on foot and over the passarelle of the M-30! All wonderful memories never to be forgotten. Enough of me, let me tell you about the M-30.

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The M-30, also call the Madrid ring road (beltway), is a road done like a highway except in the North of the city on the Avenida de la Ilustracion, this road goes around the city.  It has a length of about  32.5 km with an average radius of 5.17 km with respect to the Puerta del Sol. It is heavily congestion and high traffic volume, and some says the most in Spain. It has a speed limit of 90 KPH on the above sections and 70 KPH below the tunnels. The peculiarity is to be the only Spanish highway of which is own by the City/Town Hall of Madrid.  The construction of the M-30 started  in 1970 (while I was living in the city) , in two different sections: the East section, or Avenida de la Paz, between the Carretera de Irún (to France) A-1 and Carretera de Cadiz  A-4, which followed the riverbed of the old Abroñigal, which was to be channeled and buried under the highway. The West stretch, or the Manzanares highway, between the Puente de los Francéses (bridge of the French) and the Carretera de Cadiz (road), mostly built following the course of the Manzanares River. Both sections were joined in the South junction, and were not completed until 1974. (When I left Madrid after living 4 yrs).

The first beltway would be formed by the streets that follow the old plot of the wall of king Felipe IV that formerly encircled the city: lower part of the Cuesta de la Vega, Ronda de Segovia, Puerta de Toledo, Ronda de Toledo, Plaza de Embajadores, Ronda de Valencia , Ronda de Atocha, Glorieta de Atocha, exterior wall of Retiro park (currently, Avenida de Menéndez Pelayo, the first section of  Calle O’Donnell and Calle de Alcalá), Paseo de Recoletos up to the current Plaza Colón, and the “boulevards”, Calle de Genoa, Calle de Sagasta and Calle Carranza. With the construction of the viaduct, the extension of Calle de Bailen and its union with the Gran Via de San Francisco, at the same time as the construction of the last two boulevards already in the 20C that is Calle de Alberto Aguilera and Paseo del Marqués de Urquijo, the belt was enclosed by the West.

The second beltway  would be formed by the Rondas: Avenida de la Reina Victoria, Calle de Raimundo Fernández Villaverde, Calle de Joaquin Costa, Calle de Francisco Silvela, Calle del Doctor Esquerdo and Calle de Pedro Bosch.  In the 1970s the most important section was open between the junction of Manoteras (cross with the A-1, M-11 and accesses to Sanchinarro) north side of Madrid  and the Nudo Sur (South Junction), that connects to the Avenida de Andalucia (previously N-IV) now A-4.

It usually counts three lanes of traffic in each direction and can align up to 9 lanes, especially east of the city. This is where most of the country’s radial highways go to the various cardinal points of Spain: A-1: North Corridor, A-2: Northeast Corridor, A-3: East Corridor, A-4: South Corridor, A-5: South-West Corridor A-6: Northwest Corridor. A bit technical but will try to give you as much of the history and layout of the M-30

The construction of the tunnel by  the South Pass , that connects it directly with the  A-5  to the southwest of the city and to the A-3, needed the use of the two biggest tunnel grounders of the world. They are the longest urban highway  tunnels in Europe, with sections of more than 6 km in length and 3 to 6 lanes in each direction, between the south entry of the Avenida de Portugal tunnel and the north exit of the M-30 south by-pass there are close to 10 km of continuos tunnels. The M30 tunnels run between a point roughly 700 meters north of the junction with A5 motorway and continue all the way up to the junction between M30 and A3 highway/motorway.  Lately my entry in and out of Madrid.

To tell you a bit of the different sectors of the M30:

North sector: Between the A-6 and the A-1 the flow from the northwest via the A-6 connects to the M-30 north-west of the city surrounding the urban center. It runs along the Puerta de Hierro Park before connecting to the M-40 for the first time. It serves all the northern districts of the city (Antonio Machado and Lacoma).   The M-30 loses its highway status to become the Avenida de la Ilustracion while waiting for the tunnel by the North Pass  from which the M-607 is towards  Colmenar Viejo (Segovia etc)  on the extension of the Paseo de la Castellana until the junction with the A-1 and the M-11 to the northeast of the city. Hope I have not lost you , is all well posted!

East sector: Between A-1 (Burgos) and A-3 (Valencia); It is a very busy area because it recovers the flow from the north of Spain from Burgos, Barcelona or ZaragozaIndeed very busy by me too ! The M-30 serves the eastern part of the city, where the northeast Highway connects to the 2nd largest city in the country: Barcelona. In this area the road is particularly large and loaded and includes up to 8 traffic lanes, separated according to destination in, each direction. At the Calle de O’Donnell the road crosses the M-23 which allows to reach the radial highway R-3  from the East. Then to the southeast of the city, come the connection to  the A-3 which allows to reach the Spanish Levant (Valencia etc). It is at this bifurcation that the tunnel by Pass is detached which directly connects the A-5 to the west of the city.

madrid M30 from calle pez volador pasarela to madrid apr17

South sector: Between the A-3 (Valencia) and the A-42 (Toledo), it is a double stretch of the road, first with the tunnel By Pass on which connects the southeast to the southwest of the city. The A-4 southbound disconnects to the Manzanares River to serve Andalusia (Cordoba, Seville,…). At this bifurcation it is joined by the Embajadores Tunnel which connects the South highway directly to Calle de Embajadores near the Atocha station in Madrid. My way of course, good driving, are you with me?

madrid M30 passarelle out city valencia on A3 aug16

West sector: Between A-42 and A-6; The M-30 forks with the A-42 to Toledo  (yeah the old N400) before going along the Manzanares by joining the tunnel by South Pass. A kilometer further away is the Avenida de Portugal to serve the south-western suburbs of Madrid (Alcorcon, Mostoles etc).

The M-30 crosses the M-500 and loops its turn at the junction with the A-6; there are 31 exits/salidas  in total, last count. The principal exits to big cities are the no 1- A-1 – Alcobendas, Burgos, exit 2, M-11 to A-2 (E-90)/A-3/A-4/Calle de Arturo Soria – Feria de Madrid, Madrid-Barajas Airport, Zaragoza, Exit 4b,  A-2/Calle de Arturo Soria – Zaragoza, Exit 9,  A-3 – Valencia, Exit 18,  A-5/Plaza España – Badajoz, exit 23a , A-6 – Madrid, Moncloa, Exit 23B,  A-6 – a Coruña, exit 23,  Calle de Sinesio Delgado exit 23,  Calle de Arroyofresno, Avenida Ventisquero de la Condesa, M-605/M-40 to M-607/avenue Cardenal Herrera Oria– El Pardo, Colmenar Viejo, M-40 to A-6 –  A Coruña

We have some nice building running alongside this highway M30, the best for me is the Elipa park where I used to played baseball! In my youth there and now there is a passarelle bridge from calle del Doctor Esquerdo to Calle Pez Volador to the passarelle and over to the park easy walk.  Others are in a clockwise direction from the junction of Manoteras ,north of Madrid up Paseo de la Castellana:   Cámara de Comercio de Madrid (chamber of commerce of Madrid) ,  Centro Cultural Islámico y Mezquita de Madrid, (the mosque of the M30), Plaza de toros de Las Ventas (monumental bullfights arena right off my old neighborhood on Calle de Alcalà), Torrespaña, Centro Comercial Moratalaz (shopping mall) , Matadero Madrid (arts entertainment center today on the old slaughterhouse of Madrid),  Ermita de la Virgen del Puerto ( a nice Church), Jardines del Palacio Real de Madrid (gardens of the Royal Palace), Estación de Príncipe Pío (train station and shopping), Jardines del Palacio de La Moncloa (gardens of the house of government Moncloa),  Real Club Puerta de Hierro ( a private club) , Centro Comercial La Vaguada (shopping mall and one of my favorites in the city), Hospital Ramón y Cajal, Hospital Universitario La Paz(hospitals).

The M-30 appears in numerous films set in Madrid. A very characteristic one is  “Que he hecho yo para merecer esto,?” Or what have I done to deserve this? by Pedro Almodóvar. And in literature, it is the protagonist scene of the work of Esther García Llovet  La M-30, la gran velada or  the M30 the great evening. Of course, only my favorites!

A wonderful ride indeed on the M3O. However, in Madrid today there is like a beehive of roads , from the M-30 you have today all the way around to the M 55 and many R (radials) with tolls to make driving in Madrid a Grand Prix Challenge , good ground for the road warior lol! Actually , folks, it is a lot easier than read, if you have driven in big cities before, of course.

Some webpages to help get around the wonderful M30 are :

The city of Madrid who manage the M30 circulation infohttps://www.mc30.es/index.php/explotacion/circular-por-calle-30

The trafic on the M30 by emesa who manage it. webpage: https://www.emesa-m30.es/ 

The trafic info by the Comunidad de Madrid on the M30https://informo.madrid.es/#/realtime?panel=live

There you go folks, a dandy of a M30 beltway in Madrid, with many memories walking over it and driving me, the family, all enjoyed it very much, Hope you can too, and thanks for reading me since Nov 2010,

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

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October 10, 2021

Parish Church of the Assomption in Villanueva de la Jara !

For some reason, perhaps so much beauty to write about, I have written about this town and its monuments and left out the main one me think!! So let’s take you back into the countryside of my beloved Spain. Yes ,I know most go to the big cities and ventures into the popular places, but Spain is everything under the Sun! I like to take you a bit back in time to my lovely Cuenca province in the Autonomous Comunity of Castilla La Mancha. We had great memories of it while with my dear late wife Martine and the boys. Many strong souvenirs that will not fade away with time, I promise. The town is well connected as it passes through the town the N-320 that goes from Cuenca to Albacete, Let me tell you a bit more on the wonderful nice country town of Villanueva de la Jara, and its main church, Parrish Church of the Assomption or Iglesia Parroquial de la Asuncion, also a basilica. And my family in below picture!

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This is the main thing you should take a detour and visit this town is the Parish Church or Basilica of the Assomption. Let me give you my side of the story from brochures taken on site, The Church or Iglesia Parroquial de la Asuncion holds the title of Basilica . In town it is at Calle Jesùs Casanova s/n.

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This Church was built with the stones of the old arab castle in the 15C.  Built in ashlar stone, it has a polygonal apse and high-rise buttresses. The high Altar has a beautiful retable on three bodies of golden wood.  Its tower frames a chapel that is said to be the primitive one of the castle of the Marquis of Villena, on whose building the church was built, You see next to it, three slabs with circular towers all that is left of the castle of Villanueva (Marquis of Villena).

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The original portal consists of two lowered arches with vegetal decoration under a large circular window, like a Gothic rose window, framed by a wide blind semi-circular arch whose voussoirs are decorated with circular geometric and floral motifs. On the mullion a small sculpture can be seen of the Virgin and Child in a niche.  The access main portal consists of a Renaissance-style arch framed like a triumphal arch and a covered atrium that leads to the garden, the perimeter of which follows the layout of the old medieval wall. The other portal, also Renaissance, it has a semicircular arch, with niches on both sides of the door created by two pairs of pilasters behind Ionic columns on high rectangular podiums and topped by an entablature with a running cornice on which decorative motifs can be observed. Typical of the time of the Catholic Monarchs such as balls and diamond points.

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The bell tower, 65 meters high, obeys Renaissance canons; quadrangular in shape, at the end of the 17C, it was finished off with a baroque style hood with conical finishes and three series of semicircular arches that decrease in size as the finish rises. The church is of ample proportions, with a single nave, divided into four sections occupied by seven side chapels, a presbytery in a polygonal apse, a sacristy and a chapter house. The vaults of the central nave are starry Gothic. The openings that communicate with the side chapels are framed by pilasters on which semicircular arches rest.

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Five are the most important chapels of the temple: the Main Chapel, located in the apse or head, where a baroque altarpiece is installed, made between the years 1,693 and 1,697; the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception with its transitional altarpiece from Gothic to Renaissance; the Chapel of Cristo de la Llaga with a starry vault; the Chapel of the Virgen del Rosario, with its baroque altarpiece, made at the end of the 17C, with a Greek cross plan and covered by a half-orange dome on pendentives full of plant and animal motifs in white plaster; finally, the Chapel of the Virgen del Pilar with a 16C altarpiece.

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Among the works of art that preserves, highlights, in the first chapel of the Epistle, the altarpiece of Saint Martin, outstanding sample of Spanish-Flemish painting. The chapter house features a neoclassical baptismal font.

The province of Cuenca tourist board on the church: https://www.descubrecuenca.com/es/enclaves-y-poblaciones/la-manchuela/basilica-de-nuestra-senora-de-la-asuncion-villanueva-de-la-jara-52

The city of Villanueva de la Jara on tourist info : http://www.villanuevadelajara.es/turismo.html

The Castilla la Mancha region tourist board on the church : http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/iglesia-basilical-nuestra-senora-de-la-asuncion-69064/

There you go folks, another dandy on the roads of Don Quijote in my dream beloved Spain, traditions to hold on to for life. Hope you enjoy the post on the Iglesia Parroquial de la Asuncion in Villanueva de la Jara !

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

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October 9, 2021

Nuevos Ministerios of Madrid!!

I have mentioned it briefly in several posts but feel needs a post of its own. Perhaps the most important connection coming to Madrid on public transports for many years. I like to tell you a bit more on Nuevos Ministerios or new ministries of Madrid!

The Nuevos Ministerios constitute a government complex that houses the headquarters of several ministries in the Chamberí district of Madrid. It is located in the block delimited by Paseo de la Castellana, Raimundo Fernández Villaverde and Agustín de Betancourt streets and San Juan de la Cruz square.

On this site there was the racecourse of Madrid and the Republican government at the time decided to do a complex of several government buildings in the same spot. The construction began in 1933 and, although it was paralyzed during the Spanish Civil War, the entire complex was completed in 1942 (already under Franco). The construction styles consists of a large clear spaces with squares, fountains and ponds, around which the different ministries are arranged, as well as a large arcade on the side facing the Paseo de la Castellana.

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Today it houses the headquarters of the Ministries of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Labor and Social Economy, Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations and the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge. The entire architectural complex is fully integrated into the so-called AZCA center (see post) , one of the most important business and office centers in Madrid. Also, a shopping mall.

Next to these buildings and facing Paseo de la Castellana street you have a multimodal transports station, If you come from the Adolfo Suarez Inter Airport you probably come by here as I do most of the times too. This is done on metro line 8, as well as Cercanias suburban trains C1 and C10, From a tourist view me think C1 is better, Another thing have done on the metro line 8 you can stop out at Colombia and take line 9. Once in Nuevos Ministerios you can take as I line 6 or more often line 10 to Santiago Bernabeu stadium of Real Madrid CF (see posts) if raining as you can also walk to it.

The Nuevos Ministerios Station interchange you can reach the government complex through Cercanías Lines C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, C-7, C-8 and C-10 , Metro Lines 6, 8 and 10, and Bus lines 7, 14, 27, 40, 126, 147, 150, C1 and C2. Which either directly or indirectly can take you anywhere in the city.

I have come often to this area and in fact on my way out stop by the stores for last minutes shopping as near just across the street there is a big  El Corté Inglés department store (see post).

The Madrid tourist office on Nuevos Ministerioshttps://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/nuevos-ministerios

The official Metro of Madrid on Nuevos Ministerios (nice picture) :  https://www.metromadrid.es/es/estacion-emblematica/nuevos-ministerios

The Renfe on cercanias trains at Nuevos Ministerioshttps://www.renfe.com/es/es/cercanias/cercanias-madrid/rodajes/estacion-nuevos-ministerios

There you go folks, feel better now. Hope you find it useful and visit my Madrid. The area of Nuevos Ministerios is good for walks up or down paseo de la Castellana and shopping is good. And remember, happy travels good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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October 9, 2021

How to come and get around Madrid!!!

This is my Madrid , a city that I came to know in 1970 and have not stop visiting whenever and wherever I am, I first drove on the city in 1982 , and then with what would be my wife took her for a spin in 1990 to show off ! She was impressed ! . Yes you can drive in Madrid as in any other major city if you are used to coming from driving in big cities. Madrid is no different than any others. I know,,,,,As I have plenty of pictures on single out posts about Madrid, will do this one in my black and white series, no pictures, Hope you enjoy it as I.

I hear many tall tales of folks fear of driving in Madrid. However, if you have driven in similar size and traffic city or worse like in Paris, London, Rome, Brussels, Frankfort, New York, Jakarta, Sao Paulo, Mexico DF, just to name a few than driving in Madrid will be easier. If you have experience driving in smaller towns like Ronda, Samsula, Vineland, etc than you might as well be aware, it will be different….

To start, Madrid has grown enormously since my time living there and it has been literally an explosion, Newer arrivals tell of the trafic and maze of roads but an old timer like me can tell them the growth has been huge ! Madrid has several major roads coming out from it such as the A1 Madrid-Aranda de Duero-Miranda de Ebro-Vitoria-San Sebastian, and the A2 Madrid-Guadalajara-Zaragoza-Lérida-Barcelona-Gerona-PortBon-Frontier France, A3 Madrid-Valencia, A4 Madrid-Aranjuez-Cordoba-Sevilla-Jerez-Cadiz, A5 Madrid-Talavera de la Reina-Navalmoral-de-la-Mata-Mérida-Badajoz-frontier Portugal; A6 Madrid-Medina del Campo-Tordesillas-Benavente-Astorga-Ponferrada-Lugo-La Coruña. Other highways with origins in Madrid of major impact are the A42 Madrid-Toledo, M607 Madrid -Puerto de Navacerrada to service to Colmenar Viejo and Tres Cantos. The city ,also, has several beltways roads that have grown since living there such as the M30 (finished with me living there), This beltway below or above ground practically goes around Madrid inner ring; you have the M40 going further out into the residential areas and the M45 again further out, the M50 further out on a big huge circle and then again maybe more needed. Yes , already working on the M60!

This is the beltway road M-30 that was done when living there (has a pretty arch bridge while you cross Calle de Alcalà by the Plaza de Toros Monumental! ) and thereafter I use a lot to get around points in the city without going thru the center : the webpage has more info in Spanish :https://www.emesa-m30.es/trafico-m30/

Madrid has becomes a huge metropolis. Heavy traffic are encountered on a daily basis and need to know the rush hours to have it easier. Know that on weekends it is heavier on Saturday going out between 10h and 12h mid day and on Sundays coming back between 18h and 21h, Rush hour weekdays is in the morning like folks going to work and school are between 7h30 and 10h30 while in afternoons is between 18h and 20h , Statistics show the heaviest trafic day are Mondays,

The highway Directorio General del Trafico watchdog with cameras, and heavy traffic points to avoid per road is here in Spanish. Webpage : https://www.dgt.es/es/el-trafico/camaras-de-trafico/madrid/

The Comunidad de Madrid has a map in pdf file format on highways that can be magnified and printed for info webpage: http://www.madrid.org/bvirtual/BVCM006219.pdf

The wonderful metro/tube/subway of Madrid, openned in 1919 and already with 301 stations and 13 lines. The network has 12 regular lines and the section Opera to Principe Pio as well as 3 lines of light metro with 38 additional stations. Of the current total of 301 stations, 200 are single line and 27 are double and 10 have on three lines and the station of Avenida de America with four lines  correspondances. It connects in 21 stations with the suburban train network Cercanicas of Madrid managed by RENFE. The beltway lines are MetroSur (Line 12) passing by Alcorcón, Móstoles, Fuenlabrada, Getafe, and Leganés; MetroNorte (Line 10) passing Alcobendas and San Sebastián de los Reyes; MetroEste (Line 7) reaching to  Coslada and San Fernando de Henares; TFM (Line 9)  connecting  Rivas Vaciamadrid and Arganda del Rey, as well as Metro Ligero Oeste (Lines 2 and 3), there is a tramway network at Pozuelo to Boadilla del Monte.

Some of my nostalgic metro lines are the line 5 stop Quintana where my apartment was and a must visit each time, The metro line 8 coming from Adolfo Suarez Barajas international airport to Nuevos Ministerios by paseo de la Castellana, The line 10 to Santiago Bernabeu stadium, The circular line 6 stopping at Sàinz de Baranda where my usual hotel lately have been, etc etc, The Metro runs from 6h to 01h30, with trains departing every 2 minutes in the morning rush hour and every 15 minutes in the early hours (after midnight). At weekends, trains are less frequent during the day.

The metro of Madrid webpage: https://www.metromadrid.es/en

The Madrid tourist office on the Metro: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/madrid-metro

There is a huge bus network runs by CRTM (comunidad) and the EMT(Madrid city) with 2000 buses and 200 lines . The principal terminals are at Avenida de America, Mendez Alvaro, and Plaza de Castilla, there are other smaller ones such as Moncloa, Principe Pio, and Plaza Eliptica. CRTM webpage : https://www.crtm.es/?lang=en

Madrid city transports service or EMT has a well define network with bus lanes . The vast majority of these buses work from 6h to 23h30 at 4-15 minutes intervals and the weekend and holidays from 7h to 23h. There is a night bus or Bùhos lines known by their N number from N1 to N27 from their terminal at Plaza de Cibeles.  EMT webpage: https://www.emtmadrid.es/Bloques-EMT/EMT-BUS/Navega-por-Madrid.aspx?lang=en-GB

I took a lot the old P13 today 113 bus from Quintana to Elipa for my baseball times while living there, Upon returning years later rode again for the nostalgia this route, Also, did the 14,27, and 46 buses. Nice rides and if a bit more complicated than the metro, you ride above ground for wonderful views of the city.

The main airport is the Adolfo Suarez Barajas at 12 km from city center connecting with the city on line 8 at Nuevos Ministerios to T4 airport in about 20 minutes and about 12 minutes on the other terminals.  The airport is the one used the most and by now it could my second home, so many trips over the years by it, Saw its growth from a simple terminal airport to the mega complex is today, OF course, have come on Air France, Air Europa, Velotea, and most on Iberia where I am a frequent flyer member, Official AENA airports of Spain on the Madrid airport: https://www.aena.es/en/adolfo-suarez-madrid-barajas.html

The Madrid tourist office on the airport : https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/adolfo-suarez-madrid-barajas-airport

There is a express bus line 203 from the airport T1, T2, and T4 terminals to stops in 0’Donnell, Cibeles, and Atocha (where I have taken it and gone) , There is a regular bus line 200 from T1, T2, and T4 to Avenida de America connect Canillejas on metro line 5 (my line!) and the interchange terminal at Avenida de America to connect with metro lines 4 6 7 and 9, See schedules on the 200 and 203 buses or any other bus at EMT webpage: https://www.emtmadrid.es/Bloques-EMT/EMT-BUS/Mi-linea-(1).aspx?lang=en-GB

Two main line train station, one at Atocha and the other at Chamartin . I have only visited Chamartin but have used trains and visited at Atocha, (see post).

The ADIF transports webpage on Chamartin train station Madrid : http://www.adif.es/en_US/infraestructuras/estaciones/17000/informacion_000295.shtml

The Madrid tourist office on the Chamartin train station : https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/estacion-de-chamartin

The ADIF transports webpage on Atocha train station Madrid : http://www.adif.es/en_US/infraestructuras/estaciones/60000/informacion_000070.shtml

The Madrid tourist office on Atocha train station : https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/estacion-de-atocha

Cercanías is a service of Renfe on suburbian train service having 9 lines . They connect all the lines by the Atocha train station that allows you to go to San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Aranjuez, mountain towns in the Sierra de Guadarrama (C-8 and C9 to Cercedilla and Cotos) ,and Alcala de Henares  as well as reaching rapidly the T4 terminal at Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport  The C-2 and C-7 to Alcala de Henares and C-3 to Aranjuez and El Escorial. The line C-1 is the one very fast from T4 to the city as well as connecting Atocha with Chamartin main train stations. 

The cercanias have used the C1 from the Adolfo Suarez inter airport as well as the C3 to El Escorial. Nice rides clean fun for the experience !

The RENFE Cercanias Madrid train info webpage : https://www.renfe.com/es/en/suburban/suburban-madrid

The Madrid tourist office on Cercanias trains : https://www.esmadrid.com/en/madrid-cercanias-train

The taxis of Madrid are white with a diagonal red and  white line on the front door and the city coat of arms.  If the roof is green the taxi is free to take passengers, you simply signal for them the usual way.  If the trip is from the airport there is a fix price of 30€ as long as the trip is inside the beltway M30 (the old central beltway). This price does not include any other service added as long as the place of pickup and the hour are respected. I have used them several times over the years and good service always, Now even better with the airport fixe price.

The Madrid tourist office on getting around by taxi in Madrid : https://www.esmadrid.com/en/madrid-taxi

There is a bike network but just putting it for information here as never used it, The city BiciMad network with electric bikes that last count were 1560 with 3216 bornes to pickup and dropoff at 124 stations. The city of Madrid has several technological innovations such as application Don Cicleto, and Donkey Republic allowing you to find your bike and others such as Ofo-Smart Bike Sharing available in itunes, google play or Bike as well. 

The BiciMad network webpage : https://www.bicimad.com/

I won’t go into details with pricing and choices for metro/bus transports as these are change often, and on different needs , you need to check the official sites before your trip to be sure. IF I go for a single trip like football watching I get the single ticket, and if on vacation than the tourist pass . All are now on magnetic card call Tarjeta Multi costing a one only time of 2,50€, you can recharge it and they last 10 years credit, It is free if you purchase the 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7-day Tourist Travel Pass, and once the pass expires, you can top up the smartcard with pay-per-ride tickets (single or 10-ride tickets). This tourist travel pass are valid for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 7 days and for two zones (A and T). If you do not wish to acquire a Tourist Travel Pass, you can buy the Tarjeta Multi and simply top it up with pay-per-ride tickets.

You have plenty more info on Madrid tourist office on the Tourist Travel Pass : https://www.esmadrid.com/en/madrid-tourist-travel-pass

The Zone A  allows you to go to all the lines of the metro, airport (with supplement of 3€ included) , all the bus lines in town like the blue buses of EMT except the Express line Airport, the zones 0 and A of the Cercanias network of Madrid and the line M1 of Metro LIgero. The  Zone T  is recommended for those willing to go outside the city such as to go to El Escorial, Alcalá de Henares, Aranjuez etc and includes the entire metro network such as zones A, B1, B2 ,and B3, all the lines of city bus blue EMT and intercity green bus of the comunidad de Madrid , the Express Airport bus is included as well as the services to Guadalajara and Toledo,as well as the Cercanias trains of Madrid , and lines ML2 and ML3 of the Metro Ligero,as well as the tramway ML4  to Parla.

You have plenty of tourist information points throughtout the city that helps you with all questions (really a big improvement for the visitors) including security issues. These are

Tourist Information centers at Cuesta de Moyano Plaza Mayor ,Plaza Mayor, 27 (Casa de la Panadería), Info kiosk Paseo del Prado  , info kiosk Atocha Ronda de Atocha, s/n (next to Museo Reina Sofía), info kiosk Plaza de Callao, Plaza de Callao, s/n; info kiosk Paseo de la Castellana, 138 (next to  Santiago Bernabéu stadium) , info kiosk CentroCentro, Plaza de Cibeles, 1 (Palacio de Cibeles), Royal Palace, Calle Bailén, info kiosk at Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport T2 between halls 5 and 6; info kiosk airport as well at T4 hall 10 and 11; , and SATE  Calle Leganitos, 19 (police).  More from the Madrid tourist office on the Foreign Tourist Assistance Service (SATE) webpage: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/sate

Some additional webpages to help you plan your trip and enjoy the transports of Madrid:

The Madrid tourist office on a pdf file map of Madrid: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/madrid-city-map

To find an underground secure parking garages in Madrid, OnePark : https://www.onepark.co/places/7897-madrid-center-car-parks

How to plan your trip on streets and help find your way around use callejero or street finder in Madrid: https://madrid.callejero.net/directorio.html

There you go folks, a brief ,general overview of the many transports option in my beloved Madrid, Of course, if you have questions let me know, Hope it helps make your visit a more enjoyable one to a great city very close to my heart . And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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