November 13, 2018

Victor Hugo

So , short title, indeed. Do I need to tell you more? For me the name means France, there are a few more but none as high as Victor Hugo. From time of my early life I read his books first in Spanish, then in English, and finally in French all good.  When we speak fo traditions and literary mind set, he probably means France more than anyone else. For me ,the men is huge.

I cannot find photos but so what, I need to tell you about my France, the deep France, the ones known by others on books and me on beliefs and the thank you to be here, and the many thank you’s to my dear late wife Martine, who show me all about France. I remember.

For me a lousy writer to write about Victor Hugo is a monumental task, one I am not up to it, but will do my best to tell you a bit about the men and France or is it France and then the men, Victor Hugo.

Victor Hugo born at Besançon, February 2, 1802. He married Adéle Foucher in 1822, very early. He went into battle with his work of Hernani in 1830. Entered the Académie Française in 1841 ,entered the City council of Paris in 1845. In  1851 exile to Brussels, return from exile 1868, Senator in 1876, death in Paris and national funeral on May 22 1885 to be entered into the Panthéon. Indeed well deserve all of it.

Victor-Marie Hugo is the son of the Empire General Joseph Leopold Sigisbert Hugo , reaching Count status himself, according to the family tradition, by Joseph Bonaparte, King of Spain, and garrisoned in the Doubs at the time of the birth of his son, and Sophie Trebuchet, young woman from the bourgeoisie of Nantes.

On October 12, 1822, he married his childhood friend, Adéle Foucher, born in 1803, in the Church Saint-Sulpice in Paris, she gave birth to five children: Leopold ; Leopoldine ; Charles , François – Victor; and Adele, the only one who survives her illustrious father, but whose mental state, very soon failing, will earn her long years in a health home.

Beginning of February 1804 and the family elects domicile at 76 rue Neuve-des-Petites-Champs. It will remain for almost five years in this apartment of the 2éme arrondissement which unfortunately remains nothing and which today corresponds to no. 20 rue Danielle-Casanova. The couple lives with Adele’s parents. They moved to 90, rue de Vaugirard; then the family moved the following year into a house at 11 rue   Notre-Dame-des-Champs. In May 1830, the family moved again to the Rue Jean-Goujon; where Adele, had their last child. They will live on Rue Jean-Goujon until October 1832. In 1832, Victor Hugo settled in an apartment of the Hôtel de Rohan-Guémené, at no 6 Place Royale, which became Place des Vosges in 1848. For sixteen years, the author of Notre-Dame-de-Paris will write several of his major works here.

At the end of November 1878, Victor Hugo moved to 130, Avenue Eylau, in a mansion in the 16éme arrondissement that belonged to the Princess of Lusignan. It is here that on 27 February 1881, more than 600 000 people will parade under its windows to celebrate its entry into its 80th birthday! Later that year, Avenue Eylau will be renamed Avenue Victor-Hugo , the house is now at 124 Avenue Victor Hugo.

In 1837, Victor Hugo, the journalist Anténor Joly and the writer Alexandre Dumas, committed the creation of a theater that will leave its full place to the romantic dramaturgy, of which Victor Hugo is one of the most illustrious representatives: the Theatre de la Renaissance settled in the premises of the Salle Ventadour, a few steps from the Rue des Petites-Champs where, as a child, the young Victor Hugo had discovered Paris. The theater did not managed to cover its costs and ceases its activity in May 1841. The new Renaissance Theater will be inaugurated on March 8, 1873 at 20, Boulevard Saint-Martin, 10éme arrondissement of Paris.

He is considered one of the most important French-language writers, indeed. He is, also a political figure and a committed intellectual who played a major role in the history of the 19C. It occupies a prominent place in the history of French letters in the 19C, in genres and fields of a remarkable variety. In the theater, Victor Hugo manifests himself as one of the leaders of French romanticism when he exposes his theory of romantic drama in the prefaces that introduce Cromwell in 1827 then Hernani in 1830 which are real manifests, then by his other dramatic works: Ruy Blas in 1838, but also Lucréce Borgia and the Le Roi s’amuse (king has fun). Victor Hugo is also a lyric poet with collections such as Odes and Ballades (1826), Les Feuilles d’Automne (Autumn Leaves 1831) or Contemplations (1856), but he is also a poet committed against Napoleon III in Les Châtiments (Punishment 1853) or even an epic poet with the La Légende des siècles (legend of Centuries 1859 and 1877). His novels also met with great popular success, including Notre-Dame de Paris (1831), and even more with the Les Misérables (wretches of 1862). His multiple work also includes political speeches in the House of Peers, the Constituent Assembly and the legislature, including the death penalty, school or Europe, travel accounts like the Rhine, 1842, or things seen, posthumous, 1887 and 1890, an abundant correspondence, as well as numerous sketches and drawings in pen and wash.

Victor Hugo was a poet, drama writer, romance novel writer that also had a political career. The humanistic message on the speech of 9 july 1849 in the National Assembly of France (Assamblée Générale) and entered in conflict with Louis Napoléon Bonaparte future Napoleon III. To defend their rights of authors and prove that they live off their writing he found the societe of people of letters or sociéte des gens de letters in 1838 initial members included Honoré Balzac Alexandre Dumas, Théophile Gautier, George Sand, and Victor Hugo etc

In 1852 Louis Napoléon Bonaparte propose change in the constitution of the 2nd Republic and Victor Hugo oppose them, the National Assembly refuses the changes ,but his family goes in danger by the police more friendly to Louis Napoléon Bonaparte. His son Charles Hugo is arrested and put in the Conciérgerie, other son Francois-Victor joined him a few weeks later. The coup d’état comes on the night of Dec 2 1851 Victor Hugo tries to get the people of Paris to raise up in arms but the repression is huge, even his friend Alexandre Dumas suggested for him to go into exile and he does. Napoleon III is firmly in his coup d état and the police searched for Victor Hugo. The mistress of Victor Hugo in Sept 1852 was Juliette Drouet and she helped him hide and escape. There is another important mistress at the time name Léonie d’Aunet wife of painter Francois-Auguste Biard who with the knowledge of his formal wife Adéle for seven years, Juliette does not know this. Victor and Leonie are caught by the police she goes two months in jail but not him as adultery was not condemn then and until 1975!!!

In 1843 during a vacation trip to Spain coming back by La Rochelle , he takes the news that his oldest daughter Léopoldine and husband drown in a boat ride in the Seine river. From this date and for a long while until his exile he stop all ,no theater, no novels, not a poem,nothing, as the shock of his daughter death is huge.

Exile in Brussels in 1851 he lived at No 16  Grand Place in the Maison du Moulin à Vent then, No. 27 Grand Place in the Maison du pigeon , and he writes a small journal Napoleon le petit or little napoleon. Juliette Drouet, does not live far away from him, while here, she is in an apartment in the Galeries Saint Hubert where today there is a library call Librairie Tropismes . Victor Hugo patronized the places in the gallery and one today rename the Tavern du Passage where he meets with other writers exile in Brussels such as Rimbaud, Verlaine, etc all in Brussels to able to think freely.

Eventually, he goes to the island of Jersey to lived with Adéle and family. Here while they settle down at Saint Helier in the neighborhood of Marine Terrace, his mistress Juliette comes in at Havre des Pas. In the 1860’s upon returning from Jersey , his wife Adéle and children lived at a house in the Place des Barricades in Brussels. In 1862, he is back in Brussels and settled in a house at the rue des Colonies.

Victor Hugo writes here the Les Contemplations, les Châtiments etc. Eventually he is force to leave the island and goes to Guernsey followed by Juliette. Victor Hugo acquired a house in Hauteville House and rent a house for Juliette a few meters away, his sons Charles and François Victor do visits and in 1863 Adéle dedicates a book to Juliette ;Victor Hugo raconte par un temoin de sa vie (Victor Hugo Tells by a Witness of his life).

In 1871 ,he finds refuge during 3 months and half at the Grand Duché Luxembourg. He stayed there successively in Luxembourg city , Vianden , Diekirch , and Mondorf, where he takes thermal bath cures

Adéle Hugo died 27 august 1868 and Juliette do not come together right away for fear of bad press but in sept 1870 when the second empire is ended and Vctor Hugo come back in triumph to France, Juliette is at his side. She died of cancer on May 11 1883 and from then on Victor Hugo stops writing altogether. He died in 1885 in his mansion or hôtel particulier « La Princesse de Lusignan », that was at no 50 Avenue Victor-Hugo, now it is no 124. The funeral goes under the Arc de Triomphe in May 31 1885 and exposed there, covered in black; a 21 gun salute is given from the  Invalides , and on june 1, 1885 the funeral processesion goes by the Avenue des Champs Elysées, Place de la Concorde, then bd Saint Germain and bd Saint Michel to arrives at rue Soufflot and his body is transferred to the Panthéon where he lies today he was 83 yr s old, and it is estimated 2 million folks in person participated in the funeral!

He was the most popular writer of his time; It is already for several decades considered as one of the monuments of French literature.

There are several webpages that traces his life, I just put some official ones here

The Association of Friends of Victor Hugo:

The  maison de Victor Hugo  (house museum) is a monographic museum, located at 6 Place des Vosges, in the 4éme arrondissement, which preserves the former Hôtel de Rohan-Guémené where Victor Hugo rented the apartment on the second floor for sixteen years, from 1832 to 1848. More info here:

In French , a bit on the house where he was born in Besançon:

Vacquerie in Seine et Marne dept 77 the resting place of his wife Adéle and oldest daughter Léopoldine near the spot where she drown with her husband in 1843 while on a Seine boat ride. Info here:

And I have been too ,in Vianden Luxembourg where his rental house is a museum today , more info:

Info on the houses he lived in the British isles of Jersey and Guernsey:

Victor Hugo in Guernsey

There you go , good reading , I did my duty to write at least this post on this great men, and hope it helps you understand the French a bit more, and do come to check these places out, awesome. Salut

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


November 13, 2018

Some news from France CXCXVIIII

So back to my column self made of news from my belle France! The time here is 15h12 and cloudy, cool a bit breezy but no rain temps are in 15C or about 57F and in Paris is 59F cloudy. Just a wonderful Autumn day in my belle France and beautiful Morbihan.

Now for the latest that I pick up from various sources on the news of France according to yours truly are

The Argonaut submarine, in the Parc de la Villette , 19éme, rediscovers itself through a new exhibition that plunges us into the depths of the ocean. This great black submarine, installed since 1989 a few steps from the Géode, in the Parc de la Villette. How does a submarine work, what is oceanography, what species are found in the abyss, what are the political, economic, and climatic stakes of the seas?. Finally discover the gear used to observe the depths, beacons, robots that scrutinize the oceans and advance scientific research. Clou de l’Expo (Nail of the Expo) a simulator where we go to the gamepads, as a true commander of a submarine. You know that 80 to 90% of world trade traffic are done by the sea? The deepest known point of the Earth’s crust, the Mariana Trench, in the Pacific, more than 11 000 meters deep. You know that sound propagation is much better in water 1 500 meters per second, than in air at 350 meters per second?. The Argonaut has carried out 24 years of good and loyal services to travel the seas of the globe. From 1958 to 1982, it accumulated more than 32 000 hours of diving and traveled a distance equivalent to ten times the circumference of the Earth. See it Sous l’océan (under the ocean), at the Argonaut, Parc de la Villette, 19éme, every day except Mondays from 10h. to 18h. and on Sundays until 19h; admission between 9 and 12 Euros.

Christmas comes back to the parvis of the La Defénse from November 22nd. While the 250 chalets are being installed, for the 2018 edition. And as a good Frenchman, we have charitable associations participating this year. This is the Maison de l’amitié (house of Friendship), located near the Place Carpeaux square, which welcomes in daytime the homeless people of the Parisian association the La Cloche ( Bell) which mobilizes local businesses by encouraging them to make small services to persons in precariousness. There will also be the online platform Entourage, which federates the solidarity initiatives, and the missing link, which fights the food waste by retrieving the unsold ones from the shops to redistribute them immediately to the structures of reception.

The Satory-West Concerted Development Zone (ZAC), Versailles! on the horizon of 2035, will completely change the physiognomy of this area of 330 ha that is not used today, except by the military. The arrival of the train station of Line 18 of the Metro in 2030 which will act as a trigger and make this sector more virtuous in matters of transport and the environment. Located a few steps from the present Bir-Hakeim roundabout, on the road D91, this station should meet the needs of the thousands of inhabitants expected at its doorstep. To the North, 3 500 housing units facing South towards a tree park. The army will retain its stranglehold on this sector along the road N12. A new exchanger is in the works for 2025 between the D91 and N12. The transport agency DIRIF works on this subject in order to eliminate the influx of cars during peak hours on the ramp of the N12 and facilitate access to Satory without thwarting the flow going towards Versailles. Eventually, the huge current roundabout of the D91, which serves Satory west today, is simply called to disappear to give way to a bypass traffic near the subway station. To relieve the traffic coming from St Cyr l’école by the creation, by 2025, of a bus line on own site in the direction of Gare de Saint-Cyr. It will be based on the military railway, which joins the site of Matelots at Versailles. Just a bit of road transport news, which will remind me and those road warriors readers!

The farm or La ferme de Saint-Cyr-l’École in the Yvelines my old dept 78, offers individuals the right to pick up fruit and vegetables directly in the fields for years and something we used to do; great for the family and real good stuff direct from mother earth.

The Maison du Vietnam, ( Vietnam House), the quintessential Vietnamese deli, organizes two free and exceptional days that will water your mouths. On the program: exhibitions, concerts, tastings of local produce, savory and sweet dishes, and discovery of the Asian Dragon crafts. The opportunity to (re) discover the culinary, artistic and cultural traditions of this incredible country. Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 November 2018 from 9h to 19h at 4, rue du Bourg l’Abbé 3éme Paris

Ok so it rains in Paris so what, the city is even more gorgeous in the rain ,and here are some tips to do otherwise : Rain in Paris is good news: This is a first advantage to rain: You no longer need to water your plants (at least those that survived without water for 3 weeks). We don’t need to wash the car anymore. You’re late all the time. So for once, enjoy the rain to have a good excuse to cancel an appointment or to arrive late at the party’. “I’m Singin’ ‘ in the rain, just Singin’ ‘ in the Rain.” Finally a good excuse to sing in the rain without being ridiculous. What could be more romantic than rain? Enjoy it to slip under the umbrella of your crushing mate… And why not try a rapprochement? The rain is charged with negative ions that limit pathologies such as asthma. Roughly speaking, it renews the air we breathe! It rains heavily, and you want to go outside to smoke? No, I can’t. Stay warm and use a good coffee. You can finally take out its finest wax and plastic boots; Since the time you bought it, we were really wondering when you were going to wear it! A sad advantage of the rain is to clean the Parisian streets of all their cigarette butts in the sewers. Next time, instead of throwing your butt on the floor, put it in the trash! Otherwise it’s 68€ fine. Are you having trouble falling asleep? Listen to the rain. Are you stressed? Listen to the rain. Are you melancholy? Listen to the rain. You…well anyway, you got it!. It’s time to react to enjoy the winds and tides of our beautiful city , dry of course. Reflex number one, the cinema. Second option: Expos or shopping. With the rain everything becomes super comforting. Do not be gloomy in the face of the boredom of rainy days. Yes, rain is a great reason to stay in bed in good! So enjoy the rain in Paris!!!

Know that there are 27 aerial stations, especially on métro lines 2 and 6, where you can discover incredible monuments, all without making any effort. And as said in my blog many times you come here whether visiting or in country because you want to see Paris above ground so do as I do use aerial metro stations or the bus! Here are something to make you change if not already!

13.6 km long, of which 6 km in above ground (or 45% of its route), Métro line 6 is the sixth busiest line of the network. It offers unique viewpoints on several monuments such as : the Pont de Bir-Hakeim, you can distinguish the Eiffel Tower dominating the Seine and l’île aux Cygnes (Swan Island). The Palais de Chaillot; the bell tower of the Church of Saint Augustine; the top of the canopy of the Grand Palais; the famous tour Montparnasse; the Invalides dome, the Francois Mitterand Library, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Maison de Radio France, before the Cambronne station, you can see the Invalides, then the Avenue de Breteuil on the Invalides before plunging back underground.

The Métro line 2 offers to a lesser extent points of view on Paris thanks to an aerial section between the stations Antwerp and Colonel Fabien. You can therefore observe, the Bassin and the rotunda of La Villette, the canal Saint-Martin, the Sacré-Coeur, the train station of Austerlitz, the National Museum of Natural History, the train station of Lyon, La Cité de la mode et du design ( city of fashion and design) , or the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.

As said enjoy Paris above ground, simply the best most beautiful city in the world!

And to finish this short post …..ha ha ha. Let me tell you about a nice story and wonderful resto of my eternal Paris;really nice.

The story goes that after a career in agri-food, Alexandra Lepage founded, five years ago, the fine grocery store/restaurant Papa Sapiens. She is from the old Berry region but grew up in Kaysersberg, a small village of winegrowers, in Alsace. She first worked for eleven years at Kraft Foods, a huge group that is now called Mondelez (includes brands such as Côte d’Or, Suchard, Milka, Carte Noire, Jacques Vabre, Philadelphia, Carambar, Lu). And then she spent a year in the United States, where she discovered Mac and cheese, instant sauces, ultratransformed products. And realized that all of this was downright disgusting, she was really struggling to defend these products. It was the end of a cycle. On her return to France, she left her salaried job, and started organizing evenings, Alexandra’s dinners: Twelve Diners, a chef and an expert to talk about a topic. It was great, and not profitable at all. She ,then, partnered with her husband and two friends, and launched Papa Sapiens in 2013. Papa, for the unifying, paternalistic and somewhat outdated side. Sapiens, because we have the will to know, to transmit and to tell stories. This is what I like, in the kitchen and the good things: they are always beautiful stories. Papa Sapiens, Grocery-restaurant, at 24, rue Feydeau, 2éme Paris. More info here:  Papa Sapiens

Stay tune, Paris , France has always more and more and more! It’s eternal you know, and we love it , even if for living will say preferred Versailles lol! Cheers

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

November 13, 2018

We have a military school in Paris!

Oh yes we have Fall here already with mild temps and cooler nights, some rain even today, light, and the season is getting white in spirit at least. No snow here in years in my neck of the woods , the Morbihan Breton.

I like to tell you a bit more on the military school of Paris, yes I agree, it doesn’t sound the same in English, the French gives it a cache to it, école militaire de Paris! One of my favorite hangout places in Paris indeed.  For the memories ,right by Ave Bosquet there is a resto Séptime Vin, I brought some friends from an old travel forum once there for a get together of many nations! And of course, one of my favorites too. Also, another of my favorite spots here is the La Terrasse du 7ème with nice views over the square! Great on my eternal Paris!



Now let me tell you  a bit more on this school and square place de l’école Militaire. Actually , written on the school before so briefly, will concentrate here on my tour of streets of Paris with the square ok


The Place de l’école-Militaire is a square in the 7éme arrondissement. It lies on the northeast section of the école Militaire. There are six avenues eminating from it such as Avenue de La Bourdonnais in the north; Avenue Bosquet in the northeast; Avenue de La Motte-Picquet in the east; Avenue Tourville in the South east; Avenue Duquesne in the south; Place Joffre in the west. The neighborhood of the école-Militaire is the 27th of Paris in the 7éme arrondissement or district. The place de l’école Militaire is served by: Metro line 8, bus RATP lines 28 80 82 87 and 92, as well as a taxi stand. The 82 is a dandy for me from Montparnasse and see Paris above ground sublime! There is parking above ground at Place Joffre.



ch st François Xavier passing bus 82


Before its creation, in 1912, it was part of the Avenue Duquesne, between the avenues of La Motte-Picquet and Tourville, Avenue Tourville, between the avenues of La Motte-Picquet and Duquesne. On the here:east side, the square is served by several bars brasseries with large terraces, and in the east with the entrance of the vehicles of the école militaire. More info is given on the military school from the Paris tourist office:

The école militaire was built between 1751 and 1768 in the plain of Grenelle during the reign of king Louis XV. The main entrance is the Avenue de la Motte Piquet, facing the Champ de Mars ; the Eiffel Tower at the other end. In 1787, the military school was closed and it was planned to transfer to the   Hôtel-Dieu which would never took place.
The buildings are abandoned and then looted in the French revolution. The building serves as a depot, and then barracks, especially for the Imperial Guard. After various assignments, it is enlarged, to acquire the aspect that is now known today. In 1878 the École supérieure de guerre (high School of War) was opened, and in 1911 the centre des hautes études militaries opened (Center for Advanced Military Studies).

Nearby a popular stop for my family  and meet friends at Rue de Grenelle is the wonderful market held there on Wednesdays and Sundays; and the wonderful fleas trinkets section on Sunday mornings. More here from the tourist office of Paris:  Https://

The main thing of course is the école militaire and not much is written on the square that carries its name. However, take it from me , it is a very chic nice neighborhood where I visit several friends, and the area has the allures of upper class, not that Paris does not have enough of these.


However, there is a nice small square with a statue nearby, Place Joffre, on the side of Avenue de la Motte-Picquet. Joseph Jacques Cesaire Joffre, often known just as Jacques Joffre, was a French General during WWI.  He is most well known for regrouping the retreating allied armies in order to defeat the Germans at the strategically decisive First Battle of the Marne, which happened in 1914.  And with this triumph, plus other strategies that Joffre put in place, he gained further popularity and became referred to with a nickname of Papa Joffre. Joseph Joffre had been awarded the title of Marshal of France, and he was the first person to receive this title and rank under the Third Republic, even though he also received other honors including knighthood.

Another interesting square in this neighborhood or quartier is the Place de FontenoyUNESCO, formerly Place de Fontenoy .  This place near the military school bears the name of the Battle of Fontenoy won by the French in 1745 and UNESCO whose headquarters occupies most of it. Drawn up in 1770, the square is ceded by the state to the city  in 1838. In the same square, you see the Ministry of Social Affairs. At No. 3, the building, adjoining the former Ministry of posts (Avenue of Saxe), was built at the beginning of the 1930’s for the Ministry of the Merchant Navy. Following its restoration, it has been occupied since September 2016 by the National Commission of Informatics and Freedoms and the Defender of Rights. The military school occupies the entire west side of the square by Avenue de Lowendal.


And you have an idea of the neighborhood just my sublime Paris , eternal gorgeous and always wanting more. Enjoy it

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






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November 12, 2018

A bit on the wines of Saint Emilion!

So let me tell you a bit about Bordeaux wines! huh! wait the title says Saint Emilion !!!  Yes, a bit of French international confusion. The whole area around the city of Bordeaux which covers a huge area can be call Bordeaux wines in its genetic form. Then, you have areas that can use their respective names for the better wines according to INAO the French wine regulatory agency in charge of guarding this National heritage indeed! Official INAO webpage in English

I will tell a bit on the Saint Emilion wines (very appropiate for this time of the year) that are on the right bank of the Dordogne river.  The town of Saint Emilion is in the Gironde department 33 in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. The oldest economic entity and very related to wines here is the Jurade , established in 1199 by Jean sans Terre, king of England. There were designated to delegates economic ,political, and judicial power, as well as nobles, and magistrates to guide the general administration of the town that was part of England at the time. In 1948, the winegrowers within the vineyards syndicate/union bring back the jurade in the form of a confrérie(brotherhood)  that becomes the ambassador of the wines of Saint Emilion in all the world. It is composed of 54 juras, it is administered by the Council of the Jurade which has 12 members including the 1st Jurat, the cleric, the great treasurer, the Great Baker, the Churchwarden ,who is the Master of Ceremonies.

Let me go now into what is happening there now, and I must confess I am a Bordeaux specialist if can say such a word with humility. I am diplomé on the wines of France and Spain, and have visited major houses in all major wine areas of the world, including some now never heard of like Yugoslavian and Cuban wines!  However, the Saint Emilion wines are not my favorite due to their over abundance of the Merlot (79%); even if also use the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (Bouchet here). Also, in minority of Malbec, petit Verdot and Carménère. The official site for the appellation is here: Official Wines of Saint Emilion

A bit on the explanation of Saint Emilion. It is dedicated to red wines, the vineyard of Saint-Émilion extends over 5200 hectares around the village of the same name, located some 40 km northeast of Bordeaux, on the right bank of the Dordogne river. The Saint-Émilion appellation is divided into two quality levels: the Saint-Émilions “Grand Cru” and the Simple Saint-Émilions. The latter can be produced throughout the territory of the appellation. They are simply subject to a quality label that is less demanding than the wines that aspire to the term “Grand cru”. In general, they are simpler wines and easier to access in their youth.   The term “Grand Cru” is considered to be a full-fledged appellation. The conditions for getting it are more stringent. Very heterogeneous in its production.

The ranking of Saint-Émilion was born a century after the historical ranking of the Médoc wines, in 1955. This nomenclature consists of three categories: first Grands crus classified “A”, first grands crus classified “B” and grands Crus classified. Contrary to the ranking of 1855, the Saint-Émilion is revisable every ten years, last in 2012 so next in 2022.

The ranking as of now are (in black those tasted by yours truly):  Premier Grand Cru Classé A : Château  ANGELUS ,Château AUSONE ,Château CHEVAL-BLANC, and Château PAVIE .


Grand cru classé :

And what is going on in the vineyards of France lately and especially in Saint Emilion, well many buys and sells going on and even by foreigners. Therefore, watch out the landscape of French wines are blending well to the world; after all the world simply copy our grapes, production methods, vinification, and marketing lol!

Olivier Decelle and his wife, Anne. This leader of the frozen supermarkets Picard fell into the wine into his 40’s. He first uncovers Maury, in the Pyrénées-Orientales, where he buys the mythical Mas Amiel, with his sweet wines that sell as well as two-seater coffins… before falling under the spell of Jean Faure, a neighboring Cheval Blanc and La Dominique , located at a stream of grape cluster from Pétrus. They purchase them in 2004 and,2006.

Peter Kwok, who buys properties like we put on beads. By becoming the owner of Château Bellefont-Belcier at the end of 2017, he is even the only Hong Kong businessman to head a cru classé of Saint-Emilion.   His first purchase dates from 1997 with the Château Haut-Brisson in Saint-Emilion. Then his acquisitions accelerated in 2012 with the Château La Tache (Pomerol) and the Château Tour Saint Christophe . Then, in 2015, the Château Tourans , and finally in 2016 Le Château le Rey (Castillon-Côtes-de-Bordeaux).

Denise and Stephen Adams also gave in to the sirens of the right bank by becoming owners in 2004 of the Château Fonplégade, they who also own the Château l’Enclos (Pomerol) and a vineyard in the Napa Valley.

Stephan von Neipperg, born of the nobility of the Holy Roman Empire, resides in Saint-Emilion since 1983 to manage its vineyard domains like Château Canon la Gaffelière, la Mondotte, Château d’Aiguilhe, Clos de l’Oratoire.etc .

Jean-François Quenin, former executive officer of Darty, at the head of a small jackpot following an LBO on the company, arrives in the Libourne with his wife, Dominique, from the region. In 1994, they first bought Pavillon Bel-Air, in Lalande-de-Pomerol, before buying the Château de Pressac in 1997. Even Jean-François Quenin still end up as president of the Saint-Emilion Wine Council.

Gérard Perse, in 1993, this self-taught businessman, head of four supermarkets and a hyper in the Parisian region, wine enthusiast, decides to buy the Château Montbousquet. The shocker was in 1998 when he was offered the Château Pavie ,   a mythical domain but somewhat neglected by its owners. To ensure its management, he moved permanently to Saint-Emilion with his wife and daughter. He has, in the meantime, added to his hunting table Pavie-Decesse, Bellevue-Mondotte and Le Clos-Lunelle.

Today, on a parcel of half a hectare downgraded from their Château La Gaffelière, the first Grand Cru classified B of the AOC Saint-Emilion, the Malet Roquefort family pays homage to the perfect square promoted by the poet. Fombrauge, the largest domain among the classified crus of the appellation with its 58.7 hectares of vineyards while the average of the prestigious properties on the AOC is close to 8 hectares.

Bérangère de Malet Roquefort-Petgesun is preparing long on a building with ticketing, cloakroom, shop, 3d projection room to share this archaeological treasure with the public. An ambitious project that would be part of the valorisation of the Domaine de Gaffelière undertaken for fifteen years.

It is Alain Vauthier , Château Canon and its vineyards enclosed with walls that bask in the sunset: 34 hectares of a single holding, 75% of Merlot, 25% of cabernet, roots anchored in the rock. It is the plateau pure and hard. It is the limestone that brings freshness, minerality and tension to wines of great sophistication. He has been dubbed “El Gaucho de Saint-Emilion” since his return from Argentina where he spent ten years commissioned by Pierre Lurton to launch in orbit Cheval des Andes. A marriage between the prestigious first Cru classé A of Saint-Emilion and Terrazas de los Andes, owned by Moët-Hennessy. A success for the handsome of the vineyards then recruited by the House Chanel to direct Château Canon and Château Berliquet, another grand Cru of the AOC. While watching over Rauzan-Ségla in Margaux.

Jean-Valmy Nicolas, co-manager of the Château Conseillante, emblematic family property of 12 hectares directly adjacent to Pétrus on the appellation Pomerol. Its has the peculiarity to be managed for fifteen years by a family council on the mode of an PME (small company legal setup in France) with reporting, newsletter, meeting every four months, decisions explained and taken together attests its president, himself finance person in Paris. A professionalism doubled in a sense of the family business which it is worth to have been called by Marie-France Manoncourt and her four daughters at the bedside of Château Figeac, first Grand Cru classified as early as 1955 of the AOC Saint-Émilion in their family since 1892. Figeac is one of the historic properties of Saint-Emilion. Fifty-four hectares of which 41 devoted to the vineyard planted in large part of Cabernet on three hills of alluvial and serious sand. But Figeac these are also 13 hectares of a Centennial Park considered as a room of the house by Blandine and Hortense Manoncourt.

Jean-Luc Thunevin, one of the most atypical personalities of the AOC. While he knew nothing about the vineyard, he went into debt in 1989 to 100% to buy 60 ares in a Valley which he baptized Château Valandraud. Val for Valley, Andraud in honor of his wife, Murielle Andraud. Today, Château Valandraud is 8.88 hectares. Thunevin lives in Saint-Emilion, a village he adores. He owns his office, his house, I don’t know how many wine shops there.

In five years, 25% of the 82 Crus Classés from Saint-Emilion have changed hands. Nearly 180 million euros were reported to have been disbursed in July 2017 by the Scor Reinsurance Group for Château Troplong-Mondot, a first classified grand Cru.!

See the overall side on Bordeaux wines about Saint Emilion in English: Official Bordeaux wines on Saint Emilion

And yes, Saint Emilion is a town with its own city /town hall as here: City of Saint Emilion on its wines

Enjoy Bordeaux, simply the best, the one all others still follow and try to imitate. However, take a look at the niche in Saint Emilion. Cheers

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




November 12, 2018

The place Saint Michel, Paris!

So here I am again on my eternal Paris, never enough, I just have to give a break sometimes ,it is too overwhelming. I enjoyed very much my time living in Versailles and working in Paris, can’t have a better one two punch than that in the whole world!!! Now ,I am in lovely Morbihan near the coast surrounded by country towns and the beaches and castles of Brittany! All is irrelevant, France is a movable feast!

Let me tell you about another of my fav places in Paris, where I spent quite a bit once in town nowdays too ::) The Place Saint Michel!!

The Place Saint-Michel is located in the Sorbonne and the Monnaie neighborhoods of the 5éme and 6éme districts of Paris . It owes its name to the proximity of the Pont Saint-Michel (bridge), which was located in the vicinity of the Chapel Saint-Michel du Palais. It lies on the left bank of the Seine river facing the Ile de la Cité, to which it is linked by the Pont Saint-Michel. There is a version that says the square was name in honor of Michèle de France, daughter of King Charles VI in the 14C.

The square was created during the breakthrough of Boulevard Saint-Michel, in 1855 under Napoleon III. The piercing of this square endangers the disappearance of the Place du Pont-Saint-Michel, part of the rue Saint-André-des-Arts, part of the rue de l’Hirondelle and part of the quai des Grands Augustins. The Pont Saint-Michel built in the 1C was done at the same time as the square. It officially takes its name in 1864.

The monumental fountain was created in 1860. it was though of a statue of Napoléon but finally, it was a statue of Saint Michel battling the devil   that was chosen, framed by two water-spitting dragons.

Place Saint-Michel is served by the metro at Saint-Michel Station, line 4, by the RER C at Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame station, as well as by the RATP bus lines 21 24 27 38 85 ,and 96. The easiest parking is at the Place du parvis Notre Dame and walked over the bridge. There is ,also, a taxi stand Place Saint Michel direct tel +33 (0) 1 43 29 63 66.

The symbol here is the Fontaine Saint-Michel is a fountain located in the 6éme arrondissement   or district of Paris on the Place Saint-Michel square, at the crossroads of Boulevard Saint-Michel and Rue Danton. It has the peculiarity of occupying on its own a whole gable wall.


The composition with a central niche framed by four columns and a pediment is a reference to the Medici fountain of the Luxembourg garden. The purpose of the polychromy is to balance the lack of illumination. This fountain, whose construction site began in June 1858, was inaugurated on 15 August 1860. Nine sculptors contributed to the fountain. The Fontaine Saint-Michel differs from other Parisian fountains by the use of polychromy: Red marble of Languedoc (columns), green marble, blue stone of Soignies, yellow limestone of Saint-Yllie .

The Fontaine Saint-Michel is part of the aeration plan of the city planned by Haussmann under Napoleon III. The piercing of Boulevard Saint-Michel in the axis of Sainte-Chapelle forced the creation of a square at the outlet of the Pont Saint-Michel, Haussmann ordered the establishment of this fountain in order to fill the angle between the Boulevard Saint-Michel and the place Saint-André-des-Arts and give a visual outlet to the perspective of the Boulevard du Palais. It is 26 meters high and 15 meters wide. It is composed in the manner of an ancient arc of triumph, of a span mark by Corinthian columns in red marble of the Languedoc cushioned by four bronze statues representing the cardinal virtues.

The criticism was overall negative at the inauguration of the fountain in 1860.   In fact, the fountain Saint-Michel is the last fountain-wall built in Paris in the Renaissance tradition started   by the Medici fountain in the 17C and pursued in the 18C with the Fountain of the Four seasons. The monumental fountains after the Saint-Michel fountain are isolated in squares.

The city of Paris tourist office info: Tourist office of Paris on the Fountain St Michel

The heart of St. Michel is still the Place St. Michel  with its baroque fountain Saint Michel killing a demon of some sort. This was once the site of numerous protests and social uprisings. One of the main events of French resistance to the occupying Nazis took place in the square, and in the now legendary riots of 1968, students took charge of the square in the face of tear gas and police clubs, declaring it an independent state!

The nice Place Saint Andre des Arts adjoins the Place Saint-Michel on the 6éme arrondissement. It is a charming place, lined with coffee terraces , and souvenir shops. On the other side, you cannot miss a small cobbled street, most often crowded with tourists. It’s the rue de la Huchette. You enter the most typical Latin quarter with a slab of alleys, restaurants and cobblestones. The street is lively: restaurants, pubs or theater, activities are not lacking.

My favorite hangout here to meet with friends and collegues is the Saint Severin brasserie, more info here:

And there you go, a nice part or should say a gorgeous part of my eternal Paris. Hope you have enjoy it and do visit, walking is best here.

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



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November 11, 2018

The squares and street around Montparnasse!

Well lack of creativity for the post title lol! Its just me ok. These are just a new thingy that I am into streets of Paris. Well no place better than to write about the streets of Paris than on places where you have spent a good part of your life.

I used to work for several years in this part of my eternal Paris and have many merchants friends still there, no opportunity is enough when coming now to Paris by Montparnasse to stop by for a meal or drink or even a last minute item for a shop before heading back to the Morbihan Breton!

I like to tell you about the Place du 18 juin 1940, Place Raoul Dautry,and the rue du Départ.

The place du 18 juin 1940  is a square  located in the Notre-Dame-des-Champs neighborhood or quartier of the 6éme arrondissement or district, and also,  in the Necker neighborhood of the 15éme arrondissement or district of Paris. It is in front of the Gare Montparnasse. This square was named in commemoration of the appeal launched by General de Gaulle to the French in WWII. The square is crossed by Boulevard Montparnasse. The Rue de Rennes, beginning at Saint Germain des Prés, ends here. Other avenues overlooking the square: rue du Départ, and rue de l’Arrivée and the rue d’Odessa which extends through the Rue de la Gaîté.

The place du 18 juin 1940 is served by the metro lines  4, 6, 12 and 13 at the station Montparnasse-Bienvenüe, as well as by the bus lines RATP 28, 58, 82, 91, 92,  95 and 96. The metro station taken them all and the buses did the 82, 91, and  95 very nicely.

This is at the heart of Montparnasse where you will find cinemas, restaurants, and shops. Several that I already gave you in my previous posts in my blog. .


The square was formerly part of the Rue de Rennes became Place de Rennes towards 1880 during the work of the old Gare Montparnasse (which adjoins the south of the square until its destruction in the 1960’s), a new  Gare Montparnasse station was built further south on the edge of the Avenue du Maine.  It finally ,takes in 1951 the name Place du 18-Juin-1940.





Places of interest here in my opinion! :  The cinema of Bretagne/Brittany, almost on the square. The real estate ensemble buildings include the  tour Maine-Montparnasse, including the Montparnasse Tower, the building C often designated by the acronym CIT (for International textile Center) and the building D or tour Express, all three built on the site of the old train station Montparnasse. Located at the base of the building complex in the  tour Maine-Montparnasse, the shopping center Montparnasse Rive Gauche and, within it, the department store Galeries Lafayette Montparnasse.  One of the Wallace fountains in the neighborhood. At No. 3 there is a plaque in homage to the resistant Georges Paulin.


As I am in my old work neighborhood here as well there are interesting streets ,squares that I enjoyed for long time and still do when visiting the city. These are:

The place Raoul-Dautry is a small square of the 15éme arrondissement. The square serves as a terminus for three bus lines  92, 94 and 96, and a breakpoint for two others lines 91 and 95. This square was created in 1965 during the reconstruction of the new Gare Montparnasse. It is located on the odd numbers side of the Boulevard de Vaugirard with the even numbers side on the  Avenue du Maine. The rue du Départ ,and the rue de l’Arrivée also lead to this square. This fully paved square is located at the foot of the Montparnasse tower and in front of the main entrance Porte Océane of the new  Gare Montparnasse. And my favorite entrance to the train station. Its name comes from Raoul Dautry , a railway engineer who lived in the first half of the 20C and who held several ministerial posts before and after WWII.


Last but not least, the very street where I had my office for several years doing various consulting works on CAC 40 (like Dow Jones) companies in France. My office was in the 3rd floor of 1 Rue du Départ.

The Rue du Départ is in the 14éme arrondissement  on the odd numbers side, and the 15éme arrondissement on the even numbers side, respectively in the neighborhoods of Montparnasse and Necker. It bears this name because it skirted the old Gare Montparnasse next to the departure platforms.

The rue du Départ runs along a shopping center and the Montparnasse Tower, located on the side of the street belonging to the Necker neighborhood.  It complement the rue de l’Arrivée, located on the other side of the Montparnasse tower.


The Rue du Départ is served Metro lines 4, 6, 12, and 13 at the station Montparnasse-Bienvenüe. Also, Bus lines RATP 28 58 82 89 91 92 94 95 and 96;  Noctilien night buses N01, N02, N12 N13 N61 N62 N63 N66 and  N145;  Direct bus  1 and 4; and the Transilien line N  of  Paris-Montparnasse train station.

A first part of the street was opened in 1849, during the construction of the second Montparnasse station and was originally directly at the level of the starting docks of the latter. The second part of this route was opened in 1906.

Some interesting things to see here are:

No. 22: Since the destruction of the old Gare Montparnasse and the construction in its location, within the operation of urban renovation Maine-Montparnasse, of the of the buildings of the tour Maine-Montparnasse  including the Montparnasse Tower and two other more modest towers, is located at the base of this ensemble, along the street, a shopping center, first named Shopping Center Montparnasse then, since 2015, Montparnasse Rive-Gauche. The department store Galeries Lafayette Montparnasse is one of the main stores located here.  At  No. 31: a Monoprix convenient store. At  No. 34: the Redlight, nightclub. And at  No. 36: Brasil Tropical, another trendy bar in the capital. The biggest Brazilian cabaret in Paris! Yes indeed!.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit to this wonderful old world artistic area of my eternal Paris;

Tourist office of Paris on Montparnasse

Of course the train station, my station last few years: SNCF gare de Montparnasse

And the Tour: Official Tour Montparnasse

From the city of Paris an Urban renovation is in the works including the train station , tour, and Maine Montparnasse buildings, more to come of this wonderful ever changing neighborhood and the different district that bordered it. City of Paris on renovation of Montparnasse in French

There you a nice open area of Paris seldom visited and needs to be visited more. My Montparnasse by the train station of same name. Many nice souvenirs and still lucky to be able to pass by once in a while. Hope you enjoy the walks around here, my part of eternal Paris.

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

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November 11, 2018

And we go to Séné in my Morbihan!

So this is a weekend and as such we try to find places to go as home no way, Morbihan is too beautiful to stay home, and so is Brittany and even more so France. So, therefore, on the road we go.

We had to do our normal errands of a family in France but took a side step to another area which even if very close do not recall visited before. This is Port Anna in Séné near our capital of Vannes.


Port Anna on the tip left hand side of map. In yellow territory of Séné

We went to the Saturday morning market in Vannes, just wonderful, where we buy the essential, cheeses, eggs, fruits and vegetables, take out food ,wines etc It is open until 13h (1pm) but we like to go by the end and get better prices ….During the week there is a covered market at pl des Lices where you can buy too but not as good as the morning market in my opinion.



We had to have lunch, so we try to check a wonderful bay in the Port Anna in the town of Séné. This is what makes this area so nice, so many of these beautiful places to spent a day. The boats on the harbor and the sea road into the La Marle river into the ocean passing on one side Conleau peninsula and on the other side Arradon, and the islands of Boêdic across and further out Arz island . This river ocean La Marle takes you in to the canal and harbor of Vannes and right into city center! Just gorgeous!!!






We came back to have finally our lunch, at one of our favorites Le Tarmac in rue Ferdinand le Dressay which is the road D199 up the hill towards Séné. We had our gourmand burgers, and great local Breton beer Duchesse Anne 6%. All this overlooking the wonderful canal harbor of Vannes, capacity for 3000 boat berth! Across the street is the harbormaster of Vannes. Oh yes the bill was 25€ per person nice.





Finally, on the way home we did our groceries for the misc things we buy here mostly personal care, and household items at our favorite E Leclerc hypermarket and the nice underground free parking.


And we headed home for the rugby match France vs South Africa, too bad we had a good game but as lately in the last few minutes almost ending time this time we lost 26-29. It stayed a good effort once again. This was a friendly game, next is Argentina and then Fiji islands.

So , enjoy your Sunday now watching the commemoration of the Great War (WWI) the speech by President Macron, a bit long but with all the main participants present including the USA with Trump and Melanie.

I leave you the Sunday, and remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!




November 11, 2018

Place de la République, Paris!

So back to my eternal Paris again, yes again. Paris is eternal there is no time limit or enough writing on it. We just keep on ticking on Paris forever. This is a spot dear to me as one of the properties that reported to me sits here still, and when in Paris visiting on personal time, always stayed in hotels around it.

It is a magical place and one you need to know the schedule or news so not be squeezed in with crowds, you know what I mean. I am going to tell you a bit more on the Place de la République or Republic square of Paris. Enough has been written on it, this is my take more on the history part I like.

The Place de la République, formerly known as Place du Château d’Eau, was designed by Baron Haussmann in 1854. In its midst stands the Statue of the Republic of 10 meters high on a space of 3.4 ha ,and located bordering the 3éme, 10éme, and 11éme arrondissements of Paris. The streets coming off of it are in a clockwise direction: Boulevard de Magenta, rue Beaurepaire, rue Léon-Jouhaux, rue du Faubourg-du-Temple, Avenue de la Republique, Boulevard Voltaire, Boulevard du Temple, rue du Temple, Boulevard Saint-Martin, and rue René-Boulanger. The place de la République was the subject of a complete redevelopment in order to leave more room for pedestrians,since 2013. The year 1904 saw the end of the construction of Line 3 of the Metro and the inauguration of the metro station République under the square. Metro Lines 5, 8 , and 9 will later be built and also serve the square. The last, the line 11 is inaugurated in 1935.


The north side of the square is occupied by buildings on the site of what was the Diorama founded in 1822 by Daguerre. The shops together, the barracks of the Place de la République, built in 1854, originally named Prince Eugene Barracks, it takes the name of Vérines.

The Statue of the Republic in bronze, 10 meters high, rests on a pedestal of 15.50 meters was installed from 1880 to 1883. The three large stone statues of the pedestal represent freedom, equality and brotherhood. The stone pedestal is surrounded by twelve bronze bas-reliefs which represent the major events at the origin of the birth of the French Republic, between 1789 and 1880. A green bronze lion, 3 meters high, is lying at the foot of the monument.


Initially it was in its center, the fountain of the Nubian Lions which became too small when the square was widened ,and place instead in front of the Grand Halle de la Villette. It was then replaced by the Fontaine aux Lions in 1875, which was itself transferred at present place Félix Eboué following the installation in 1880 of the current Statue of the Republic.

A bit of history I like

In the years 1670-1680, the enclosure of Charles V, built in the 14C, is razed and a course is laid out in its location. A small triangular square is located at the site of the bastion of the Temple gate the square was slightly further west than the present square. It was located above the Rue des Fosses-Saint-Martin (later known as Rue Bondy, then Rue René-Boulanger). This street marks the northwestern limit of the old square it is originally only part of Boulevard Saint-Martin But it takes in the 19C the name of Place du Château d’Eau in reference to a fountain called   Château d’Eau (watertower), installed on the square in 1811.

The place takes its present physiognomy in the context of the transformations of Paris under the Second Empire. The Prince Eugene Barracks, later called Château d’Eau barracks and later still Vérines barracks at the site of the former summer Vauxhall and the diorama by Louis Daguerre or Jacques Daguerre, one of the inventors of photography, as he   gave representations of fifteen minutes here. Subsequently, several boulevards are projected: piercing of the Boulevard du Prince-Eugène (current boulevard Voltaire) and the beginning of the present Avenue de la République, declared public utility in 1857 and extension of the Boulevard du Nord (current Boulevard de Magenta) between Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Martin and the Château l’Eau, declared public utility in 1859. The administration of Baron Haussmann produces a large rectangular square of 280 meters long by 120 meters wide. A large part of the theaters of the Boulevard du Temple are then razed; notably the theatre-history or theatre-lyric founded by Alexandre Dumas in 1847, and disappeared by 1850. In 1866 it was built on all the north side of the square the magasins réunies (stores combined).

The square takes its present name in 1879 the monument consists of a colossal statue of Marianne (representing the French Republic)  in bronze of 10 meters high on a stone base of 15 meters high where are seated allegories of freedom, equality and brotherhood. The fountain of the Château d’Eau of Davioud was resettled in 1880 to the Place Daumesnil (present place Félix-Éboué), in the 12éme arrondissement. On 1 July 2013 the Terrace Emilian-Moreau-Évrard, the Esplanade André-Tollet, and the terrace of the commander-Jacques-Blasquez were inaugurated, in homage to their acts of resistance during WWII.



Sometimes, because of its name and the symbolism linked to it, but mainly because of its accessibility and its location at the crossroads of great avenues, this is one of the usual places of the Parisian demonstrations, most often at the initiative of Political organizations of the left or trade unions. But the place de la République was also the framework chosen in 1958 by General de Gaulle for a demonstration, on September 4, in favour of the yes to the referendum establishing the Constitution of the fifth Républic as it rules France today.

Some building of note according to me are at No. 1: Passage Vendôme, No. 10: Magasins Réunis and Hotel Crowne Plaza; (One old work property reported to me while working in Paris! ) , and No. 12: Vérines Barracks; It has been hosting the Republican Guard since 1947.

A bit more on it from the tourist office of Paris: Tourist office of Paris on the place de la République

It is really one of the squares to be in, and many nice places to eat around it as well as close to many sights and great transportation hub. Place de la République, enjoy it

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


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November 10, 2018

World War I or the Great War

This is a special post on a special commemoration that has started today and will climax tomorrow. I thank from the bottom of my heart all those men , women and their respective countries who had fought in this so called World War I or as we know better in France, the Great War.

Je remercie tous ces hommes et ces femmes et leurs pays respectifs pour leurs efforts et leur sacrifice dans cette grande guerre au nom de ma famille, et le peuple français

In this terrible war ,1.4 million French military personnel lost their lives in the Great War. Their condecoration are understood to be under the words , “Deaths for France” identified by the French Ministry of the Armed Forces. Created in 1915, this reference is attributed to soldiers killed in combat or died as a result of their injuries. Soldiers who are reformed, shot, died of illnesses or victims of accidents are excluded.

The facts:
On September 25, 1915, with a double offensive in Artois and Champagne, was the deadliest day of the war for the French Army, with more than 25 000 deaths. More than a quarter of the soldiers killed are before their 23 years.

The Battle of Verdun, which began on February 21, 1916, stood out: The number of deaths in one day did not equal the previous clashes, but it was one of the first German offensives since 1914, and it lasted much longer. It strikes the spirits deeply. It was “The Battle of France for France, against the German aggression, the place where France shows all its soul and its ardour”

The comparison with the Battle of the Somme, which begins on July 1, 1916, is thus revealing. The French losses were important, but the offensive, led by the British, was much less imbued with collective memory.

The deadly clash of the  Chemin des Dames or Ladies ‘ Way, which was to be the last major offensive of the war, marks the year 1917 until the end of October. The War of Motion resumed in 1918, with several German offensives in Picardy, and Champagne. The Germans wanted to win the victory fast before the Americans, who had just entered the war, were lining up too many troops on the front. The general counter-offensive of the Allies led them to the Armistice.

The death of these young men has profoundly marked the French society, reversing the order of generations and disturbing the birth rate. More than a million births were never caught up, so that in 1939 France became the oldest country in the world, notes François Heran of the National Institute for Population Studies (INED) in an April 2014 publication.

The events:

From Saturday morning  (November 10th) at 11h (11am), the French president E Macron will received his American counterpart Donald Trump for a bilateral exchange.  The exchange was expected to be tense. The two men had to exchange on European strategic capabilities. President Macron has just suggested that Europe should build its own army to protect itself from the United States, China and Russia. President Trump responded in his usual way “Very insulting but perhaps Europe should first pay its share to NATO that the US subsidizes widely!”, had tweeted the US president Friday night at the time of landing in Paris.  Bit of errors on M . Macron already critized in France for comparing Gen Petain efforts in WWI with his treason in WWII. On Saturday afternoon, Emmanuel Macron travelled to Compiègne, Oise, before being joined by Angela Merkel, for a commemorative ceremony at the Clearance of Rethondes.

But it is Sunday that the commemorations of  November 11 centennial will know their true culmination. In total, some 85 heads of State and government-including Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin-will be meeting at the end of the morning at the Arc de Triomphe to attend a one-hour ceremony.  Emmanuel Macron will give a speech of about ten minutes, in which he wants to resound France 2018 with that of 1918 and insist on the importance of multilateralism for peace. Hopefully with a better speech ….

It is also the theme of “peace” which will be in the spotlight in the afternoon, since 75 foreign leaders will be gathered at the Grande Halle de la Villette (19éme) for a “Forum on Peace” organized at the initiative of France but with UN participation. President Trump is not scheduled to be at this meeting.

As one other person so vividly say it and I copy:  Remember this day. November 11 is far more important than 9/11 or 12/7. It’s much more important than Memorial Day or Labor Day. This Remembrance Day is to keep in mind that ungodly slaughter of 1914-1918 and the war spawned by its hateful end, 1939-1945. We owe it to each other, our children, and their children’s children to never let anything like that happen again. Amen


musee de la grande guerre museum of WWI trench Meaux, Seine et Marne 77

ps Special thanks for my American friends and family Belleau Wood, fields of courage , the first taste of war for the doughboys!

Enjoy your Sunday, we have a lot to be thankful for nowdays.

November 10, 2018

The high places of pilgrimage in France!

And why not this piece after all , it is said by one well known personality of France’s heritage Stéphane Bern that the 92 million visitors (on a running year to October) coming to France are here to see the accomplishements of the previous Monarchies and one particular part of this tradition is the Christian faith. I am a subscriber to M. BERN magazine and participate on his efforts to safeguard these monuments. I have, also, met him in person in Paris. You can read more on the magazine he heads Secrets d’Histoire (subscription gift of my dear late wife Martine) at Official Secrets d’Histoire webpage

Without going into thesis and validation, and concentrating only on the main sites of visitors/pilgrims here, let me give you a run down. Worth visiting all of them of course. And remember the poilus of WWI, tomorrow is their big day to give Thanks. Fitting to post this now.

Lourdes, Hautes-Pyrénées : When between 11 Feb and 18 jul 1858 Bernadette Soubirous see 18 apparitions in the grotto of Massabielle along the pau river and 160 years later this site has become the first Catholic pilgrimage in France with each year receiving between 3-4 million visitors. See the Basilica Notre Dame du Rosaire and above the esplanade the Basilica of the Immaculate ConceptionLourdes

Rocamadour, Lot: On the valley of the Alzou since the Middle Ages pilgrims after climbing 216 steps to the sanctuary to cultivate the Black Virgin. The sources unknown as well as that of the hermit Amadour of which body was found intact in 1166 in front of the Chapel of the Virgin Mary. The pilgrims come by way of Puy-en-Velay or the one leaving from Bénévent-l’Abbaye (Creuse). Rocamadour

Mont Sainte Odile Bas-Rhin: The pilgrims come to venerate the Patron Saint of Alsace born blind in the 12C. She was given vision by the baptismal waters from which comes her name Odile means the daughter of light, and she became the abbesse of the convent that was raised here by her father, Duke of Alsace , Etichon-Adalric . The route of pilgrims takes you from Ottrott, the climb is difficult but with a beautiful panorama of the plains of Alsace, the Rhine river, the Black Forest as well as the chain of the Vosges mountains. Mont Sainte Odile

Chartres, Eure-et-Eure: The Cathedral of Chartres more than any other sanctuary invites you to arrive on foot ; you can come on the itinerary created by Charles Péguy in 1912-13. You can see the belltower from the plains at a great distance. You need an entire day to see the 9 gates decorated with more than 2500 statues! On the interior the stained glass is wonderfully beautiful, and the medieval enclosure of the choir, the great organs, and kneel before the relic scarf of the Virgin, statue of Notre Dame du Pilier as well as in the crypt like the one of Notre Dame-de-Sous-Terre. In the nave, the labyrenth done on Fridays from careme to all saints day. Chartres

La Saint-Baume Var: Pilgrims comes by the the way of Kings because it was taken by at least 40 monarchs since Saint Louis in 1254 to Louis XIV in 1660. The way starts at the Basilica of Saint-Maximin about 15km away where the skull of Marie Magdalene is exposed. However, it is only guided coming from Nans-le-Pins halfway here; and most pilgrims only do the last couple of km from Trois Chênes. Once arrived you see a sumptuous panorama looking at the Sainte Victoire and on cliffs you see the grotto where Mary Magdalene spent her last 30 years. It is said that seven times per day she was raised by the angels of Saint-Pilon where today lies a Chapel, the strongest pilgrims do this route when not too much wind and rain. You can then go down by the road chemin du Canapé and reach the hotel where the Dominicans guard the sanctuary since 1295 and host the pilgrims. Sainte Baume

Vézelay, Yonne: This is the inspired hill as this hill the spirit blows harder. The Basilica is dedicated to Mary Magdaleine where some of the assumed relics are kept in the crypt. Here the pilgrim will be astounded by the beauty of Roman art where the land and the heavens speaks along a game of lights to see the soltice. You can hear the chants of the monks that rhyme with the hours of the day. Vézelay

Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Bouches du Rhône: The story here begins at the beginning of Christianity when the Christians were persecuted in the year 45AD It was here where the Rhine meets with the Mediterranean that were appear the three Marys’s (Mary Solomé mother of St James, Mary Magdaleine, and Mary Jacobian ) accompanied by Lazarus, Martha, Maximin ,their servant Sara and a few others. The pilgrimage of travelled people is the most known here in the month of May, a huge crowd accompanied the gypsies towards the sea escorted by provençal guardians on horseback. Saintes Maries de la Mer

Lisieux, Calvados:  The Basilica of Lisieux built in 1954 is the second largest pilgrimage site in France after Lourdes. Here we venerates the relics of one of the biggest Saint of the 19C, Theresa Martin that entered the Carmelites and took the name of Theresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. She was also known as the little Theresa as she trace a spiritual life of childhood that has given her the title of Doctor of the Church and secondary Patron Saint of France. There are over a million visitors each year here, making the 3rd most visited place after the Landing Beaches of Normandy ,and Mont Saint Michel. Lisieux

Sainte Anne d’Auray , Morbihan: This one is very close to me (12 km) and all true on the expectations and crowds. It was a humble laborer of the land Yves Nicolazic that the Mother Virgin Mary appeared from 1623 to 1625 asking to built a Chapel that was promise in the 6C. At the spot , Yves digs a hole and finds a small wooden Virgin figure on the spot called Ker Anna or the village of Anna in Breton. Too small to welcome the crowds of the faithful it was replaced in the 16C by a Basilica of Sainte Anne d’Auray. Each year as much as 500K persons come here by July 25-26; the procession is huge with Breton songs and costumes   bagpipe bands and banners. It is the Patron Saint of Brittany and call the Mamm Gozh ar Vretoned or the grandmother of the Bretons. The Bible tells us she is the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus. Sainte Anne d’Auray

The Mont Saint Michel, Manche: The pilgrims arrived by the northern flank and crossed the Bay with the help of guides. The crossing in moving sand is to show the troubles of life and to overcome it. You ,then climb the rock and visit the Church of St Peter and keep climbing until the arrow steep on the western terrace with a great view of the Bay. The songs of the monks incite you to walk on the abbey Church and discovered the Chapel of Notre Dame-Sous-Terre that replaced the sanctuary done first in 708AD by Saint Aubert . The site covers 13 centuries of history, and the spirit of the angel St Michael is here. Mont Saint Michel

Le Puy-en-Velay , Haute-Loire: The Cathedral de l’Annociation is together with Chartres the oldest Marian sanctuary in the Christian Gaul. The Virgin appeared in the 5C helping a suffering women to laid for rest on a stone flatbed, this stone call the Stone of Fevers is today inside the Cathedral. The pilgrims came to see the Black Virgin a statue from the 17C that replaced the original medieval statue; It is in this town, a departing point for the Route of St James. However, before doing the walk the pilgrims followed three ascentions. One the rock of Corneille where since 1860 lies the statue of Notre Dame de France; the rock of St Michel d’Aiguilhe that takes you to a roman Chapel dedicated to the Archangel. Finally, in the upper town you take the rue des Tables that leads you to the Cathedral where you will received benediction. From here the road of Puy-en-Velay awaits you for the trip to Santiago , St James 1600 km farther. Le Puy en Velay

These are the most popular places of pilgrimage in France, and folks from around the world do come. There is no better way to know the history, traditions, architecture, and customs of France then by visiting these high places. Enjoy them all!

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

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