February 27, 2021

My beloved ,memorable, sentimental Honfleur!!!

So I am coming back to update/revise links on this beloved, memorable ,sentimental Honfleur of ours. We came here as many to seek the arts and the ocean breeze along its cobblestones streets and its festivals. Over the years the family took a loving liking to the town, and yes my mom and wife lies off the sea here so we come at least once a year . Let me tell you a bit more about Honfleur, Calvados , Normandy in my belle France!

There has been many ,but this is one I am never tired of writing on it. Brief, the town is historical glorious, quant , old, turn to the sea, architecture, and just great family memories.  I have been coming here for years since first encounter my Frenchie, and my parents especially my mother love it. At the end, and many nice stories there are always some sad ones, that is human life I am afraid. My mom Gladys passed away on December 27, 2007 , just after Christmas and my wedding anniversary; and was her wish to be deposit at sea her ashes here, and so I did. Lately, I have gone thru the sad times again of losing my dear loving wife Martine ,last April 30 2018 and on her last days , her wish was to be deposit here too at Honfleur. And so I did, as always with the lifeguard SNSM on August 24 2018 with the same lifesaving boat the Notre Dame. Eventually, we all will rest in peace here.

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So, Honfleur is more than just a spot, a tourist spot, a town or a visit; it is more personal. One of the spots that is dear to us is up the hill or plateau of Grace or Côte de Grâce and into the quant old Notre Dame Chapel and its outdoor bells with a big Cross of Jesus Christ nearby overlooking the bay of Honfleur and across Le Havre. We come around to see the Mont Joli, or pretty mount with great, wonderful views of the area and the bridges afar Normandie and Tancarville. This is Honfleur .  On the plateau of Grace is one of the oldest sanctuaries in the region surrounded by secular trees. Located 1.5 km from the city/town center of Honfleur, the plateau de Grâce offers a panoramic view of the sea, the Seine estuary and Le Havre.

Right up the hill, sits the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Grâce on the limits of the village of  Équemauville, was built between 1600-1615 by the burghers and sailors of Honfleur, replacing an old Chapel that disappeared in a landslide of the cliff. This primitive Chapel was founded before the year 1023 by Richard II, Duke of Normandy, to fulfill a vow made during a storm in which he had almost perished. Since the cult of Our Lady of Grace has perpetuated.  Marble plaques and paintings perpetuate the memory of illustrious characters who came to this Chapel, such as Samuel de Champlain, Pierre Berthelot, king Louis XIII, Napoléon  Bonaparte, Saint Theresa Lisieux…etc.  Located on the heights dominating the town of Honfleur, but on the territory of Équemauville, houses ex-votos, models of boats and an organ made by the organ factor Dupont in 1990. On the outside you can see the bells of the pilgrimages. Our Lady of Grace Chapel has exceptional ex-votos. All the faithful who come to collect in the sanctuary are seized and surprised by the impressive number of plaques, models or inscriptions that testify to the general gratitude. All these ex-Votos have a story. Their presence symbolizes the success of a vow, a recommendation, a prayer.  Of course the protection of the sailors is a privileged place. But it can also be testimonials of recognition as a result of healing or the fulfillment of a happy event.

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Every year, Pentecost is the traditional Marines Festival or Fête des Marins during which it is possible to admire the colorful procession of the models of boats carried by the children from the place Sainte-Catherine to the Chapel Our Lady of Grace. The Chapel and the Grace Plateau, although located on the village of Equemauville, have been owned by the city of Honfleur since the French revolution. The interior Chapel of the Transept, on the left, is dedicated to all Canadians of Norman descent, in remembrance of the departure from this point of many settlers for Canada.   The small road that leaves to the left, behind the Chapel, leads to Mont-Joli, which is also located in the village of Equemauville . Mont-Joli dominates the city and offers a beautiful panorama of the Seine Valley and the Pont de Normandie (bridge) which connects Honfleur to Le Havre. Mont Joli dominates the city and offers a beautiful view  on a clear day you can locate even  the Pont de Tancarville (bridge), located at almost 30 km away.

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These are the nice stories, in addition there is the Sainte-Catherine taken for a ride , she is carried by locals into a small boat and goes out with a flotilla of fisherman’s and sailors, boats into the sea for a Mass by the Bishop. She is brought back into the Church on poles and the faithful walks the Grace plateau up hill carrying a Cross as the Way of Christ into the Our Lady of Grace Chapel (Notre Dame de Grâce) where there is another Mass carried out. Very moving scene on the Marines Festival day.

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The Honfleur tourist officehttps://www.honfleur-tourism.co.uk/

The city of Honfleur on its heritage/things to see: https://www.ville-honfleur.com/decouvrir-honfleur/

The Calvados dept 14 tourist office on Honfleur harbors: https://www.calvados-tourisme.com/offre/port-de-plaisance-dhonfleur/

The Normandy region tourist board on Honfleurhttps://en.normandie-tourisme.fr/unmissable-sites/honfleur/

And then you do what we do /like best walk the beat! And Honfleur is wonderful but of course cannot do all in one day so we rented a nice inexpensive chain of hotels here call B&B right at the entrance of the town! in the neighboring city limits of La Rivière-Saint-Sauveur! These are good for one or two nights and on my road warrior trips used them often. webpage: https://www.hotel-bb.com/fr/hotel/honfleur

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We had our lunch at a new found restaurant which we have been coming back here and nearby us in Lanester, these are the Oncle Scott American style restos which my whole gang enjoys very much. The old Miller beers and Sol as well as Baltimore crab cakes are worth the trip alone. Enjoy it ;webpage: http://www.oncle-scott.com/restaurants-country/

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And for dinner we again tried a new restaurant for the night  this was the La Fregate right in La Rivière Saint-Sauveur not far from the above hotel and on the main road to the old basin of Honfleur. The marmite de la mer was delicious!!! no webpage but on the city of La Riviére Saint-Sauveur it shows on the list of restos: http://www.larivieresaintsauveur.fr/fr/commerces/3

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In all , another memorable visit to Honfleur and there are plenty more in my blog and those pending to go when possible nowdays. Hope you enjoy the post and do visit the 2nd most visited site in all of Normandy! (for info 1st is MSM).

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

February 27, 2021

Quant little Honfleur!!!

And I have to come back to this memorable sentimental town of ours. So many posts and pictures, (see posts) I like to give it fresh life to this post in my black and white series. Honfleur is awesome in many ways! Enjoy the tour!

I will brighten up my mind writing about quant little beautiful ,etc etc Honfleur!  My dear late Mom Gladys and Wife Martine  love the town, and so much that they are buried at sea off Honfleur by the volunteer lifesavers of the SNSM boat Notre Dame base in Honfleur. I given some insights on the tourist spots and places to eat even hotels, now let me tell you a bit about the history I like.

Honfleur is a marvelous little town by the sea and the Seine river. The town is in the département 14 of Calvados in the region of Normandie, and located on the south bank of the estatuary of the Seine river facing Le Havre and on the ending of the bridge of Normandy. Often call an artists/painters town and with its own school. Many times represented in the work of Gustave Courbet, Eugène Boudin, Claude Monet ,and Johan Barthold Jongkind, forming the school of Honfleur, that contributes to the emergence of the impressionniste movement. The artists Alphonse Allais ,and Erik Satie were born here on the same street !

The first mention of Honfleur in writing dates back to Richard III duke of Normandy in 1027. It is known that by the middle of the 12C the town was an important trade point with England coming from Rouen via Seine river. Charles V ordered fortified the town to stop the English to come up the Seine river with the help of the port of Honfleur located just on the statuary of the river. However, nevertheless Honfleur was taken by the English and occupied in 1357 and again in 1419 and 1450.

Honfleur participated in the movement for great discoveries with a Jehan Denis visiting Labrador and Newfoundland that he took in the name of the king of France in 1506. These expeditions made the port of Honfleur one of the most important in France and served as launching pad for adventures in the French colonies of America such as the repeated sailings of Samuel de Champlain that ended by the founding of Québec in 1608. From this point on, commerce developped to Canada, Louisiana, the Caribbean and the African coasts as well as Azores islands, making Honfleur one of the five main towns in the slave trade.

Honfleur was liberated in WWII on August 25 1944 by the Belgian army Brigade Piron and the town suffered no damage, one of the rare Normand towns to be spare. More so that what you see is genuine original in the architecture and buildings of the town!

A bit on what Honfleur has to offer to follow. The town has a whopping 57 historical monuments in its territory, including the wonderful Sainte Catherine Church, Saint Etienne Church, Saint Leonard Church, the Salt depots, the Lieutenance house and most of the houses in the Quai Sainte Catherine, as well as the Vieux Bassin, and my family’s favorite the Notre Dame of Grace Chapel or Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Grâce up the côte de Grâce hill and the big Cross of Christ overlooking the harbor and towards Le Havre.

Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Grâce,(see post)  built in 1910 in the limits of Equemauville, and here after the fall out of the cliffs houses ex voto , boat models and an organ from 1990; on the exterior you can see the pilgrims bells.  We had held Mass here so a bit more : This Chapelle Notre-Dame de Grâce was built between  1600-1615 by the rich merchant and marines/fisherman of  Honfleur at the place of an older Chapel that was destroyed due to a slide in the cliffs; this older one was built before the year 1023 by Richard II, Duke of Normandy  to pay a wish of which on the course of a storm he could had perished ; thereafter, the cult is perpetuated.

The museum or Musée Eugène-Boudin and its annex dedicated to religious art in the bell tower of the Sainte Catherine Church which a building apart from the Church! ; the house or Maison Satie and the museums of old Honfleur such as marine museum or Musée de la Marine (inside the old Saint Etienne Church and a must to see), and the museum or Musée d’Ethnographie et d’Art populaire; (in the old prison of the Viscount of Roncheville).

The water basin or ponds were built by Abraham Duquesne on orders of Colbert in 1681. The old basin or vieux bassin rounds the quai Sainte-Catherine and the houses are numbered from 2 to 68, the houses dates from the 17C and 18C. They are very narrow and have from 3 to 7 floors (FR) except the No 2 that has one floor. Many of the facades are covered in tiles and other are done in corbel.  Today, most in the street level of the quai Sainte-Catherine are restaurants or brasseries. The side along the quai Sainte-Catherine by the narrow rue Montpensier have an underground trail with a creek of the Claire feeding the basin. The other side of the basin is with other buildings on the quai Saint-Étienne; which include, the city hall or hôtel de ville, and the Saint Etienne Church (St Stephen) now the marine museum. There are three small narrow streets that gives access to the quai Saint-Étienne. On the side of the ocean you have the quai de la Quarantaine,and one building ,the lieutenance that was next to the housing for the king’s lieutenant. The only fortified part of the town today. The movable bridge on the basin and over the channel to the front port is by the Morelle that makes end on the tour of the basin.

The Church dedicated to Sainte Catherine of Alexandria as there is a statue in wood on top of the entrance porch of the bell tower, representing a wheel and a sword. The first nave on the left is the oldest dating from the second half of the 15C and built like a market where the naval construction were done , giving a look as if it were an upside down boat. The bell tower is apart from the Church, unique, this was done to avoid fires that would hurt the parishioners. The Saint Etienne Church is of gothic style part from the 14C and 15C, the oldest Church in town, built in chalk stone with silex and Caen stone as Honfleur is on the limits of these stone formations, the bell tower is in chesnut wood and now houses the marine museum which is very nice with its model boats of old.

The city of Honfleur on things to see: https://www.ville-honfleur.com/decouvrir-honfleur/honfleur-et-son-patrimoine/

The Honfleur tourist office in English: https://www.honfleur-tourism.co.uk/

There are many films done here and some of my favorites (even if this is not by all means a full list).
Les Trois Mousquetaires (1953), by André Hunebelle, with Georges Marchal and Bourvil (great French comedian).
L’Homme à la Buick (1967), of Gilles Grangier, with Fernandel (another great French comedian) ,and Danielle Darrieux
La Chambre verte (1977), of François Truffaut, with François Truffaut and Nathalie Baye
Tendre Poulet (1978), of Philippe de Broca, with Annie Girardot and Philippe Noiret
Le Quatrième Pouvoir (1985), of Serge Leroy, with Philippe Noiret and Nicole Garcia

There ,is, also since 1995, each year at end November when the town host the Festival of Russian films or Festival du cinéma Russe. A very important movie festival on Russian cinema with producers, directors and actors in competition are invited. Keep an eye on the webpage: http://festival-honfleur.fr/

You now have good shopping at the outlet mall Honfleur Outlet. webpage: https://www.honfleuroutlet.com/fr/

And the wonderful garden event PassionnémentJardin with plants and showings and purchases yes we had and good deals, my Martine love it!!! webpage: https://www.passionnementjardin.fr/

And the good one Naturospace with wild butterflies and tropical lush in Honfleur! Just up the alley from the public park where the garden event is held follow the road and at the end is the Naturospace. webpage: https://www.naturospace.com/

And cruises up the Seine river even to Paris! webpage: https://www.croisierenet.com/ports/301/france/croisiere-honfleur.html

And those out of Honfleur into the ocean and around and under the bridge of Normandy. We have done the Calypso and Jolie France nice. Honfleur tourist office webpage on these: https://www.honfleur-tourism.co.uk/making-my-stay-count/leisures/promenade-en-bateau-honfleur-jolie-france-la-calypso-2/

Well, hope you get the idea , Honfleur is one whole packful of goodies ,and in such a small space is even more cosy, quant, nice, beautiful Honfleur. And hope you enjoy the post as I!! And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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February 26, 2021

The immortal Verdun, the story of a Nation!!!

And here I am with a narrative post for a change updating an earlier post I did on this brave and historical town of my belle France. I have heard of it of course, but always past by on the expressway roads until once or twice we stopped by and saw it. It was very nice, moving and appreciated. Let me tell you a bit more on the immoral Verdun, the story of a Nation!!!

Well as said,  several passing and never in, until one day. We decided to take the roads of Liberty and the Sacred Road, and then you turn and said, wow!! so much sacrifice for me and the rest of us to live better; these were Giants and deserve every recognition known to men. It is all there , all around you in the city and in the fields around it, this is immortal Verdun.

Verdun was called Verdun-sur-Meuse from  1801 to 1970, and it is in the département 55 of the Meuse in the new region of Grand Est ; what was before the region of Lorraine.  The city is towards the center of the department of the Meuse and about 225 km from Paris, 184 km from Strasbourg, 58 km from Metz, 78 kms from Nancy  , as well as 40 km from the Belgium border, 50 km from Luxembourg,  80 km from Germany and 220 km from Switzerland.  Verdun was built on the banks fo the Meuse river  which crosses the town from south to north taking its source deep in the Haute Marne and falling into the North Sea passing by France, Belgique and the Netherlands. It is traverse by several canals including the canal Saint-Vanne ,and the  canal des Augustins, on the left bank of the Meuse, as well on the right bank by the canal Saint-Airy. The Meuse river is connected to the Canal de l’Est that links the Meuse to the Moselle at Saône and known there as the Canal de la Meuse. There is a port pleasure marina with 30 places in city center.

Very good roads here and easy to drive. You have the D603 which is the old N3 linking Paris via Châlons-en-Champagne , and Meaux, taken several times . There is the D964 the former N64 that links on the north at  Charleville-Mézières, and south at Lure via Commercy ,and Neufchâteau.  There is the historical D1916 former N35 that is known as the sacred way as was the logistic route for the battle of Verdun in 1916 during  WWI. The fast way is the autoroute A4 known as the east highway or autoroute de l’Est linking Paris to  Strasbourg via Reims and Metz. You come off at exit 30 Voie sacrée or at exit 31 Verdun. There is a train station Gare de Verdun in city center and the LGV fast train line  at the gare de Meuse TGV at about 25 km from Verdun, there are navette bus taking you to the stations. For airports the best International are the Roissy CDG at Paris or the Luxembourg Findel in Luxembourg.

A bit of history I like , here is long and glorious!

There an existence of a town from antiquity here where the Celtic people found a center along the Meuse river. This became the Civitas Verodunensium one of the four roman provinces of the first Belgium. By 843 the treaty of Verdun shares the Carolinian empire in three kingdoms is signed given rise to the Western France for Charles the Bold, Eastern France for Louis the German, and Middle France for Lothar of which the county of Verdun belonged. ; upon the death of Lothar in 855, the Middle France is as well divided in three by the Treaty of Prûm and Verdun now passes to be part of a territory that will take later the name of Lotharingie; by 925 this area is attached to the kingdom of Germany by Henri Ier the Bird-Catcher, and Verdun becomes part of the Holy Roman Empire for five centuries to come. Finally in 1331, the bishop Henri d’Aprémont places the city under the perpetual guard of France; and while the war of 100 years is on in 1337, the king of France places the city under the joint guard of the counties of Bar and Luxembourg.  Finally, Verdun is under French control in 1552 while the voyage of Germany by the king of France Henri II allied himself to the protestant princes of Germany that fight the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and France becomes the Vicar of the empire and protector of the 3 bishops area taking Metz and Toul as well.  These 3 bishops or Verdun Metz ,and Toul comes officially to France in 1648 under the Treaty of Münster that itself was part of the Treaty of Westphalia.

The city fortress on the east of France has seen many conflicts including the French revolution in  1792 , when the Prussian army was defeated in the battle of Valmy. Many local collaborators with the Prussians were executed under the guillotine in Paris under the Convention period 1792-1795; and the war of 1870 in the Franco-Prussian war that with the treaty of Francfort of 1871, that brings the annexation of the Alsace-Moselle, Verdun  found itself only 45 km from the German empire and will become the stronghold of the frontier north east. A first line of 10 forts are built around and close to Verdun, and in 1880-1914 another 43 forts are built in a perimeter of 45 km, of which included the fort de Douaumont and the fort de Vaux.  All bring a fortified area of Verdun link by 180 km of railroad lines with the center the underground city fortress of Verdun as the command center.

However, the biggest battle was that of 1916 in Verdun during WWI  that made the city world famous and gloriously known, the battle of Verdun. In August 1915, the French general hq does not recognized any value to the forts and leave them unarmed as well as take away the guards; the German high command takes advantage of this as it was the last obstacle before Paris so decide to start an offensive in February 21 1916 by 7h with 2 million  projectiles falls on and around Verdun. However, the French army holds and digs in to last near 10 months, 163K dead , 216K wounded on the French and 143K dead and 196K wounded on the Germans by French standards.  By Fall of 1916 ,the French army takes advantage of the offensive in the Somme and counters attack taking the lost forts and set back the Germans; Verdun is saved; the battle of Verdun was one of the most important of WWI. Finally in August 20 1917 the French army takes the offensive calling on the second battle of Verdun. This allows to get back all the lost territory of 1916; by 1918, the American army in place take the offensive on the line direction  Saint-Mihiel and freed the north of Verdun, finally the Germans abandoned on August 31 1918.

Some of the things to see here are

The Notre Dame Cathedral built in the 10C ,the oldest Cathedral in Lorraine and the biggest Roman style building on the East of France. From the 16C it has several renovations like adding lateral chapels and a cloister. Damage in WWI it was rebuilt from 1920-1935, and while at it found roman parts in the crypt from the 12C. You have the former Episcopal palace built from 1724 by Robert de Cotte, the architect of king Louis XV and considered one of the most prestigious episcopal palaces in the Lorraine. Since 1994 ,it host the World Peace center of liberties and human rights a place of exposition, meetings and reflections.

The former abbey of Saint Paul founded in 973 by the Benedictines, and by 1135 passed to the order of the Premontrasians. It was destroyed in 1552 for military reasons and rebuilt between 1686-1698; after the French revolution, the abbey housed the justice palace, and regional government of Verdun. The tour Saint Vanne is the last part of the Abbey of Saint Vanne founded in 952 by the Benedictines and the name is that of the 8th bishop of Verdun.  The abbey was built on the site of the first Christian oratory dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul founded in the 4C by Saint Saintain, first bishop of Verdun. It was rebuilt and enlarged in the 14C.; after the bombings of the 1870 War it only remains the north tower of the 12C and some parts of the old cloister of the 13C. There is the Church Saint Victor, gothic dating from the 14C dedicated to Saint Victor and Saint Maurice; since 1685 it guards a statue of the Virgin that Verdun honored under the name of Notre Dame des Clefs (keys);the legend been that she would had save the city from Huguenots protestants attacks in 1562. So, on the gate of Saint Victor the inhabitants gives their keys of the city and the statue would had inclined the head in a sign of acceptance. The Church of St John the Baptist built in 1884 in the neighborhood of Faubourg was cut in half in 1916 and rebuilt identically with two bell towers replacing the one before the war; the new stained glass honored the soldiers mixing religious and patriotic feelings.

There is a Synagogue built in 1875 on a byzantine Moorish style by the Jewish community of Verdun; the building replaces the original one done in 1805 on the site of the former Convents of the Jacobins that was destroyed in the war of 1870. When it was tempered with by the Nazis in WWII, the synagogue was restored by the members of the US Army of jewish descend., and it has a jewish cemetery on the Avenue du Commandant Raynal. There is a Reformist Church of France built in 1889 on the site of a wheat depot, it suffered bombings during 1916 and restored again in 1920.  There is a nice city hall or Hôtel de Ville built in 1623 on the Louis XIII style with two bodies crowned by a bell and two wings. The Hôtel de la Princerie is a mansion built in 1525 as it was the place where the princes lived, the highest dignitaries of the diocese after the bishops. Since 1932, it houses the museum of the Princerie. The theater of Verdun was done in a wheat depot destroyed during the war of 1870 and opened in 1893 by Raymond Poincaré, then fine arts minister and later president of France.  The facades are with corinthians columns and balcons, and the interior is Italian style on five levels with neo baroque decoration, and a cupola or dome similar to the Opera Garnier in Paris.

The wonderful underground city or citadelle souterraine of Verdun are underground galleries carved between 1886 and 1893 by miltiary engineers  under the fortress of Verdun, that was built between 1624 to 1635.  By 1914, the galleries had almost 4 km and at the end of the war it had 7 km housing about 2K men and serving as refuge and command post as well as logistic base. It included 6 powder stores, 7 ammunitions stores, bakery, windmill, telephone center and telegraphs, and raising machines sort of elevators for water for the city and the forts, kitchens, and huge storage spaces.  It was here that on November 10 1920, the unknown soldier was designated that now rest under the Arc de Triomphe of Paris.  You have the officers mess hall built on pylons between 1891 and 1893 in the classic style with a rooftop Mansart style. The building was offered to the military authorities in charge of the construction of new fortifications . The city had several military posts such as the Glorieux, Maginot, Niel, and Beaurepaire,today destroyed or redone for something else.

The levy bridge or Pont-écluse Saint Armand is a defensive system created by Vauban and built by Perrault from 1680 to 1685, and was part of the three levy bridges with those of Saint-Airy and Saint Nicolas today gone that allows the flooding of the surrounding of Verdun on 14km with a depth of 2-2,5 meters of water. It took about 6 days to have a full flooding so making any attack impossible into the city. It was the only one in France to have a manoeuver command post with all its mechanism. You can see traces of the ramparts from the 14C that surround the city called the Grand Rempart. There is a gate or Porte Chausée (or tour Chaussée) built in 1380 and one of the three monumental gates of the ramparts. It has two twins round towers of 20 meters high crowned by battlements and machicoulis joint by a portico. The tower or tour de l’Islot is circular flank by a long road of rounded peaks in the ramparts  ,built in the 14C and cut into by deadly and long water rapids called Moson in the Canal du Puty.

There are several monuments to the fallen and the most visible in my opinion are the Monument to the victory and soldiers of Verdun or  à la Victoire et aux soldats de Verdun. Located in city center and opened in 1929 at the place of the former collegiale Church of the Madeleine in the 11C, and takes foothold on the old ramparts of the Roman castrum that were moved during the bombing of 1916. At the top of the tower of 30 meters there is a statue of a soldier resting on his sword and looking to the East. The tower was done with two Russians canon taken by the German and later by the French ; there are 73 steps on a stair leading you to a crypt where are the register of soldiers recipients of the medal of Verdun.  Each year on November 1st ,the flame of the tomb of the unknown soldier that burn under the Arc de Triomphe in paris is brought to the crypt here where it burn until November 11 the day of the Armistice in 1918, end of WWI and then returns to Paris.

Another one I like is the monument to the Children of Verdun dead for France or aux enfants de Verdun morts pour la France , located facing the gate or Porte Chaussée,this monument opened in November 1 1928. It has five soldiers representing the different arms of the army  Infantrymen, firemen, artillery,horsemen, and reservist. These make a wall of soldiers against which the German army jumped on showing the soldiers creed of Verdun They wll not pass or on ne passe pas. The name of  510 Verdun native dead in WWI are  written on the monument as well as other fallen in other conflicts that were added. Another one was a gift from the Netherlands to Verdun or to the Holland Friend or Monument de la Hollande amie. Offered to Verdun in 1920. It represent a wounded soldier held by a winged genius with the furious expression, the arms open towards the horizon and the fingers closed.

These ones I have followed by car, they are the monument of the sacre way and the the road of liberty or the Monument de la Voie Sacrée and the Voie de la Liberté.  Dating from 1947, and located in front of the train station of Verdun you have two historic roads. The La Voie Sacrée  is a strategic road linking Verdun to Bar-le-Duc that brought the men and materials to the front of the battle of Verdun in 1916.  The La Voie de la Liberté  is a road taken by the American Army in 1944 from Normandy to Alsace to liberate France ; this has a monument by a wall on top a head of a marianne lady flanked by two bornes typical of the two roads. The city and surrounding has several resting places worth a detour such as the Nécropole nationale de Bevaux Nécropole nationale du Faubourg-Pavé ,and the Nécropole nationale de Glorieux.  There is also a wonderful park the forêt domaniale de Verdun with an area of almost 10K hectares created after just the end of  WWI that extends on the battle fields to preserve the remains of the fight and the memory of the fighting men.

The forest around Verdun, mand of heroes, in French: http://www1.onf.fr/foret-exception/sommaire/foretreseau/verdun/leprojet/20140806-094957-882920/@@index.html

The Verdun tourist office on things to see: https://en.tourisme-verdun.com/

The city of Verdun on things to see: https://www.verdun.fr/sortir-bouger-se-divertir/tourisme-loisirs/sites-historiques#openModal

The Ministry of the French Armed Forces on the centenary of the Battle of Verdun in French: https://www.defense.gouv.fr/memoire/rubrique-actualites/centenaire-de-la-grande-guerre

The memorial of Verdun of the battlefields in English: http://memorial-verdun.fr/en/

The underground citadelle in Verdun in French: http://www.citadelle-souterraine-verdun.fr/en_index.php

The Ossuary of Douaumont/ Verdun in English: https://www.verdun-douaumont.com/en/?lang=en

The Meuse dept 55 on the Meuse battlefields: https://www.meusetourism.com/en/sightseeing/step-into-history/the-great-war-in-the-meuse.html

And there you have it. Verdun is special needs a special visit and I must return. Enjoy the immortal Verdun indeed glorious. You need to bring your younger ones to explained never again.

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

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February 26, 2021

Retirement time in France!!!!

And as I have done a couple of post on the question of Retirement time in France, this is my third update on the subject. Hope you enjoy the brief post and help some to think about retirement in France from a French perspective! Here I go!

If you have read my blog you know that I was living in the USA as an American for 31 years! While there met a French women in Paris and became my wife while deciding to live with me in Florida USA, where we spent the last 13 years of my life there. We had 3 boys born in Florida! We did visits to France every year of our marriage there and in the course of this life became fluent in French and a citizen of France!

Eventually, my dear wife Martine asked me if we can come back for her to live in France and after falling deeply in love with the country and she, I decided to make the move in August 2003 I was here and she and the boys and my parents followed after selling our home there in December 2003! We came to live in the gorgeous faboulous great city of Versailles, Yvelines dept 78 of the Ïle de France region of by then already my belle France! And to boot I worked in Paris and she at Roissy CDG airport! While here I had the sad episode of losing my dear loving Mother Gladys! on December 27, 2007. My father stayed with me.

As my job required a lot of international travel and many times expats renditions of up to 3 months away from home, she asked me to slow down. Again, I could not say no to my mamie Bleu and found me a job in near Vannes, the Morbihan dept 56 of the lovely region of Bretagne. We end up purchasing a home in Pluvigner.  The area was superbe and we really enjoy the country side having spent many time in Vannes proper and traveling all over France and Europe by car, train, and plane! We both thought of retirement.

Unfortunately for me as life can never be easy, my dear loving wife Martine passed away on April 30 2018 while living in Pluvigner. She could not make it to retirement which we have thought either in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Versailles, Vannes or south of Madrid Spain where we had thought of even if not retired there to purchase a second home for vacations. All thrashed due to her passing.

I stayed with my 3 young men and Dad at home. And now thought about my retirement time, where? As everything that has passed and my Dad Elio sick with a cerebral infactus or AVC Cérébrale we take care of him at home and so far so good. My decision was to stay in Pluvigner as my boys have jobs and support locally so at this stage a move would have been more disrupting to us.

I negotiated with my boss CFO an early exit or early retirement or retraite anticipée that can be done here and just got the written approval!!!!!!! This in a few words is when your company feels that they can save on your salary more by paying you a lump sum and discharging you than continue to pay your salary for probably a lot longer… I had the best timing as when I go out effective March 1 2021 I already can ask for my retirement here!!! And I did lol!!! well will do as officially is from March 1st.

This will allow me more time on the blog lol!! more time with my boys, and Dad been able to help him more. We will continue to travel as already done it with the whole gang including our border collier/labrador (borador) dog Rex who is now 3 yrs + old. And my dog is very good already laying down next to me and follows me everywhere!! love him dearly and my dear late wife Martine gave him the name as it is a dog from an Austrian police serie with a german shepperd name Rex too, the series is name Inspector Rex or Rex chien flic in French or Kommissar Rex in German and Il commissario Rex in Italian.

Here are my previous two posts on Retirement in France from

February 12 , 2019: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2019/02/12/retirement-time-in-france-opinions/

December 31 ,2019: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2019/12/31/retirement-time-in-france-opinions-2/

And this will be my retirement town as current Pluvigner tourist info: http://www.pluvigner.fr/listes/tourisme/

And this is our area tourist office, the Bay of Quiberon on Pluvignerhttps://www.baiedequiberon.co.uk/pluvigner

So after much thought and unfortunate events in our lives we end up deciding to stay put. Now waiting this pm for our delivery of farm produce from local farmers who deliver the goodies to us!!! The country kind of living in the real France as the saying goes. You are welcome to stop by or let me know if nearby for a get together of whatever! always nice to do me think. And of course, will continue with my blog posts and updates of older posts until possible again to travel. Stay safe

Thank you for reading me over the last over 10 years in my blog, really appreciated. It has been a pleasurable ride indeed. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!!

February 26, 2021

The Yvelines dept 78; memorable cities!!

And love it to update this older post in my blog! Talking about my former home department 78 Yvelines in the île de France region of my belle France! I spent my first 9 years in France here living in Versailles, but did went all over including these memorable cities that I like to tell you a bit more about! Hope you enjoy it as I.

On a mundane day in the west coast of France, we remember our wonderful times too in the west of Paris, Yvelines dept 78.  A magical moment to lived in the Royal city of Versailles and worked in the most beautiful city in the world , Paris. We went around a lot, and on many not your typical tourist towns but nevertheless it is our life and my blog is all about that. Footprints all over France ,and the world.  I like to share with my readers some of these towns, all memorable for our family. These are La Verriére, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, and Elancourt.

La Verrière only 40 km from Paris and 20 km from Versailles. It is believe La Verrière occupy the site of the village of Watreias in the forest of Yvelines that was given by king Pepin in 768 to the Abbey of Saint Denis.

There are many good roads here and taken many times when lived in Versailles, the N10 passes north of the town and the D58 takes you to Elancourt ( mini France park) and the south to Mesnil-Saint-Denis to Dampierre-en-Yvelines. The D13 takes the western part of the town to the northwes at Montfort –l’Amaury ( Heredia’s house seat 79 académie Française) and on the south to Mesnil-Saint-Denis and later Chevreuse.  There is a great train service here and my oldest son used it a lot. There is a nice train station connecting with the line N Rambouillet-Paris Montparnasse and Line U La Verriére – La Défense.

A bit of history I like

The parish of La Verrière was created in 1739 with the fusion of three villages such as La Petite-Verrière, la Grande-Verrière and l’Agiot, it finally became a city in the French revolution but stayed small during the 20C even if the situation was good bordering the big road N10 that goes from Paris to Chartres.  In 1972 , there was a union of towns into a metropolitan area or agglomeration call the Nouvelle Ville de Saint Quentin en Yvelines, La Verrière was part of this area. Thing to see from afar and the gardens is the Chateau de La Verriére . It was in 1507, the lands were purchased by Barthélemy Séguier, noble and judge that starts to built the castle , his descendant Jean Séguier, adviser to the king Louis XIV finished it in 1660. The gardens were done by André Le Nôtre gardener of the king. Over the years transformed into many things it is now the psychatric center Marcel Riviere.

The City of La Verriére on its history/heritage: https://www.ville-laverriere.com/?Son-histoire

However, how I came to know this town is because my oldest son spent his schooling here initial path to become a commercial agent or salesmen at the specilised school CFA AFFIDA; in lieu of University studies. The school was very nice, good folks and easy to go on direct line train from Versailles or even a bus. 401/415 of the SQYbus network. So , I can say came into this area by car, train ,and bus! for memory lane this is the Affida school webpage: https://www.affida.fr/nos-2-centres/cfa-affida-la-verriere-yvelines-78

In Saint Quentin en Yvelines we love to come shopping at the mall there ,for the cinema and celebrated many younger days birthdays with friends at the bowling alley. The cinema Cine Cité SQY is still there. webpage: https://www.ugc.fr/cinema.html?id=6#

Need to have this picture on the bowling entrance inside even if repeat!

montigny-ugc-cinema-kids-transf-2-movie-jul09

The shopping center has many stores gone now and heard they may demolished it for housing ,unfortunately, the memories will stay on . The Bowling Star is also gone ,I heard and is not listed in their official site so another one for the memories. In the nearby town of Montigny-les-Bretonneux there is an explanation on the bowling but no mention yet is gone: webpage: https://www.montigny78.fr/275/sports-et-loisirs/equipements/bowling-billards.htm

This later town of Montigny-le-Bretonneux ,we used to go to see the baseball games of the Montigny Cougars playing in the French second division or like Triple A level; since 2017 thereabouts ,they have move up to the First division top league in France, their stadium was on our way to the shopping center/cinema/bowling. webpage: http://www.montigny-baseball.com/

The city of Montigny-le-Bretonneux on things to see: https://www.montigny78.fr/116/decouvrir-montigny/patrimoine/le-chateau-de-montigny.htm

And we went as far on the N10 to the town of Coigniéres to buy fresh groceries at discount ;lovely my dear late wife Martine will search for anything! At the Marché-o-Frais, rue de la Gare , and the Grand Frais, 3 rue des Fréres Lumiéres angle rue du Gibet. webpage: https://www.grandfrais.com/magasins/coignieres

The city of Cogniéres on its history/heritage: http://www.coignieres.fr/ouvrages.aspx

And last but not least in this memorable dept 78 Yvelines, when passing on the D58 we had visited at ElancourtFrance Miniature park, model building of the main attractions in France. webpage: https://www.franceminiature.fr/en/attractions

The city of Elancourt on its history/heritage in French : https://elancourt.fr/ma-ville/decouvrir-ma-ville/histoire-et-patrimoine

In all many memorable moments with the boys and now missing their mother even more nostalgic indeed. We cannot forget these towns, it is part of us been French.

This is the agglomeration or metro area of Saint Quentin en Yvelines (SQY)  on tourist info; things to see: https://www.saint-quentin-en-yvelines.fr/fr/sortir-et-decouvrir/tourisme/le-tourisme-sqy

Hope you enjoy this other side of life in France, not visiting but living the real thing. Maybe just maybe you may feel to want to come to these areas just to take a look at how we live normal life away from the tourist throngs , just maybe ,you will be surprise. As I always said, Ernest Hemingway wrote about A Moveable Feast or Paris est une Fête because he only visited there, if he had gone out, he would had had the need to write a second book, France, is a moveable feast!!!

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

February 25, 2021

More on the streets of Vannes!!!

And ok, many posts on this wonderful city of my beautiful Morbihan in my lovely Bretagne and my belle France! And I work just outside for a bit more before retirement rolls in soon ::) I love to come into towns/cities and walk them, it is superbe and we love it, going km after km sightseeing on foot. We by now know Vannes by heart but it never amazes me to see so much beauty in its architecture and history untouched by the times. Let me tell you another episode on the streets of Vannes! Hope you enjoy it as I.

The Place Valencia square is located in the heart of the historic center of Vannes. It is inside the city’s first intramural wall, Place Valencia opens at the intersection of rue des Halles, rue Noé and rue des Orfèvres. It is name after the city of Valencia, Spain , the birthplace of Saint Vincent Ferrier, who came to preach in Vannes in 1418-19. The preacher would have lived in a house in the square. This beautiful half-timbered house on the ground floor in stones is located at n ° 17 of the square. According to tradition, it would have been inhabited by Saint Vincent Ferrier in 1418-1419. It was remodeled in 1574. Some of its relics are venerated at the Saint-Pierre Cathedral nearby, where he is the Patron Saint of Vannes , and of the Community of Valencia region in Spain. The other unique sight here is the Maison de Vannes et sa femme or house of Vannes and its women. This house on the corner of rue Noé is famous for its stone sculpture, probably from the 16C.

vannes pl de valencia two women wall jul17

The Place de la Liberation square forms a quadrilateral halfway between the historic center and the Madeleine district of Vannes. The Place de la Liberation occupies the site of the cemetery of the old Saint-Michel chapel, which already existed in the 13C. Damaged by a storm in 1706, the chapel was demolished in 1743 and the bones of the cemetery transferred to that of the Notre-Dame-des-Lices Chapel, on the place des Lices. In 1748, the nuns of the Visitation acquired the land thus liberated and turned it into an orchard. This was alienated during the French revolution and bought in 1822 by the city, which set up the cattle fair there. The new public square took the name of champ de foire or fairground. In 1850 the square was leveled, the earth cleared and a water reservoir built. Shortly after, it was decided to establish a gendarmerie there and to build a new prefecture. Only the first project was carried out, in 1859. It is the Guillaudot barracks. In 1964, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Liberation, the place champ de foire   was renamed Place de la Liberation.

vannes pl de la liberation bus depot sep19

The Place de la République square is home to several public buildings and the central Vannes public transport interchange. It is one of the largest public places in Vannes; crossed by rue Thiers, which leads from the city/town hall to the port. It is located on the edge of the historic center, covering an area of approximately 1.8 hectares, it is rectangular in shape. The square is partly used as a parking lot. Underground parking is also available under the square (one of our favorites) . The main public transport interchange in Vannes is located here. Place de la République was created in 1862 under the name of Place de la Halle-aux-Grains, in reference to the market hall which was built there at the same time. Initially square, the square takes a rectangular shape from its origin, when the construction of a courthouse is decided . It is also grew towards the historic center, when the space to the east of rue Thiers, corresponding to the ditches of the old ramparts, is added to it. In 1955, the grain hall, serving as a post office since 1912, was demolished. It was replaced by a new post in the 1970s. There now you have the main post office, Courthouse, Morbihan deparment 56 prefecture services (my father for his resident visitor card), Bank and real estate agencies.

vannes pl de la Republique bus terminal jun17

The Place Henri-IV is a square place located in the inner city on the heights of the Mené hill. It communicates with the Place Saint-Pierre and the cathedral (see below), to rue Saint-Salomon and to rue des Chanoines and rue Émile-Burgault. The square is surrounded by half-timbered houses from the 15-16C, from which they can therefore date the square. In the 18C, this square was called Mallièvre, a distortion of its original Breton name Men-Guevr, or stone with goats. After having been named Place du Département during the French revolution, it was finally renamed to its current name during the 19C. A bird market was held in this square in the 1860s: sellers, called Pilorgets, mainly brought linnets and goldfinches. Most of the houses in this square are listed as historic monuments. This is the case for houses located  at No 1 at the corner of Place Saint-Pierre, at no 2 corner of Place Saint-Pierre; note, on the Place Saint-Pierre side, the existence of a beam bearing the inscription “The sleeping cat is awake; at no 5 the corner of rue Saint-Salomon, at no 6 corner of rue des Chanoines. Although strictly speaking not present on the square, the house located at 32 rue des Chanoines is also protected as historical monuments.

Vannes pl henri IV jul16

The Place Saint Pierre square has a few old houses adjoining La Cohue (fine arts museum), opposite the St Peter’s Cathedral . La Cohue designating the old partly Romanesque halls, remains dating from the 16C. The ground floor was occupied by the stalls of merchants, mostly butchers and the first floor reserved for courts of law. The Parliament of Brittany sat there when it was exiled to Vannes. In the last century, a theater occupied the first floor which now houses the museum. At No. 9 Place Saint Pierre is one of the oldest houses in the city, recognizable by its many small windows, testimonies of civil architecture from the beginning of the 15C. The house at no 7 Place Saint Pierre, built on the edge of the Cohue from which it is separated by an alley. Its facade framework shows that it has retained a first floor from the 15C. This also shows the remains of the small crosses that once ran on the facade. It shows alterations by its wall of the second Renaissance in the basement and an elevation in the 19C. Of course, the must visit in town is that here you have the Cathédrale Saint Pierre or St Peter’s Cathedral built in the 13C-15-16C-19C.

vannes pl st pierre cat right jul14

The Rue du Port has several restaurant in wonderful historical houses such as the Le Comptoir du Port, Créperie du Port, and Don Camilo pizzeria as well as an excellent parking du Port underground. Also, at No 28 Rue du Port there is a house built at the end of the 16C or the beginning of the 17C, which testifies to the old state of the rue du port before the reconstructions of the 17-18-19C. Originally having a single corbelled floor level, it was raised by one floor in the 17C, then by a third in the 18C. The ground floor was advanced following the alignment of 1841 in 1870. Also, at No 10 rue du Port ,you can see the house whose main body on the street was rebuilt in 1747 on the site of a half-timbered house of which the gutter wall with corbel remains. The posterior body is contemporary with that on the street, but seems to be established on an older cellar remaining from the previous construction, open by day provided with a lug grille dating from the 17C. A well, appearing on the 1844 cadastre has disappeared. In the 19C,the house was occupied by a Masonic lodge; a decor from the first half of the 19C with a Masonic symbol is still preserved. Access is via a side hallway adjoining house at n ° 12. The limestone ashlar street façade has two bays, two square floors and an additional floor. The body overlooking rue du Drézen, in granite rubble, has a half-buried cellar, two square floors and an additional floor. Projecting on the alignment of the street , it is covered with a hipped roof. The staircase is in wood, with a single straight flight for each floor. The chimneys are established on the gutter walls.

vannes rue du port 14C houses feb15

You have the picturesque Rue Saint Guénhaël, where at No 17 Rue Saint Guénhaël you can see one of the oldest houses in Vannes. Almost six centuries old!! The house was built on a much older cellar probably remaining from an earlier building. This cellar is shared with house at No. 19 and could date back to the 12C or 13C. The first campaign concerns the ground floor and the first floor and possibly dates back to the second half of the 14C, as can be seen from the upstairs windows as well as the arcades on the ground floor. On the first floor, two blocked doors, as well as strong projecting consoles on the east wall seem to be the traces of an old corbelled raceway. Perhaps at the end of the 16C, the house was raised by one floor, eliminating the passage. The attic seems to have been built in the 19C. The staircase and most of the interior fittings disappeared in the 20C, with iron or wood reinforcements re-joining the structure. Another nice one at No 23 Rue Saint Guénhaël is on the ground floor or 1st floor the Crêperie Saint-Guenhaël. The house was built in the 15C according to its architectural characteristics and mentioned in the archives of 1455 as well as in the archives of the reformation of the estate in 1677. Its L-shaped plan does not seem original and it is likely that the house was made the object of a posterior and perpendicular extension including the previous house from the rear. The stone base has been modified as you can see on the ground floor that the original staircase has undergone modifications but still remain visible part of the original wooden screw and the rounded shape of the stairwell in the west wall which is indicated its place. The staircase on the ground floor only gives access to the basement. Access to the floors is today via another staircase contained in the side corridor. The rear part of the house includes in the wall a fireplace covered with a 17C woodwork which could hide an older granite fireplace. A fountain pierced in the south wall of the basement dates back to the 12C. The later enlargement of the house shows us that this fountain was first outside and that it could be accessed by the alley which led from the rue de la Bienfaisance to that of rue de la Monnaie.

vannes rue saint gunhael side of cat st pierre 14C jul14

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and is a must me think are

The Bay of Quiberon tourist office on Vanneshttps://www.golfedumorbihan.bzh/citybreak/week-end-a-vannes/

The Morbihan dept 56 Tourist board on Vanneshttp://www.morbihan-tourism.co.uk/home/discover/morbihan/the-main-destinations/vannes

The city of Vannes on history and heritage sights: http://en.mairie-vannes.fr/discoveringvannes/history-and-heritage/

The Bretagne region tourist board on Vanneshttps://www.brittanytourism.com/destinations/the-10-destinations/southern-brittany-morbihan-gulf/vannes/

There you go, now you are loaded just release your inner thoughts and transport yourselves to the 14 or 15 or centuries and come to Vannes, you will like it I know ::) And what better ways to feel it all than by walking the streets of Vannes!

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

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February 25, 2021

Small quant towns of the Tarn in Occitanie!!

And I like  to update this wonderful little post of mine! From memorable sentimental Tarn dept 81 in the region of Occitanie of my belle France! These are small towns of my wife father’s side of the family and already with posts and pictures on them would just to give you a black and white series introduction on them. Hope you enjoy it as I !

As I go around my belle France it never ceased to amaze me the plethora of small towns, villages really that abound in beauty. This is all over on each department or region  on every road; its amazing, glad to be here. I love to drive a car , for me is freedom, independence, the lure to go into the nooks and crannies of places and no time to come back no hurry just leisure at my best time. It helps visiting these jewels of France.  The Occitanie region is dear to us, its the family on father’s side of my dear late wife Martine; she introduce me to it way back in 1990 and it has never stop nor it will ever.

Here we go with some of my little jewels of the Tarn and Occitanie

Giroussens sits above the Agout valley between Lavaur, Graulhet and Saint-Sulpice –la-Pointe at about 40 km from Toulouse. The village was originally located 1 km from its current location. A bit of history I like to follow.

A Gallo-Roman villa is located on the edge of the Agout river. It was occupied in the 5C by the Visigoths who left a necropolis (currently the Martels). The Lord Amalric de Lautrec erects Giroussens in Bastide, and from then on a city grows and thrives in the shelter of its ramparts. The Church of Saint-Salvi was rebuilt at the end of the 14C. In 1381, the Count of Foix-Béarn, Gaston Fébus, will defeat looters in the plain of Albi. Upon the death of the Count, Giroussens returned to the domain of king Charles VI. Then the city passed to Mathieu de Foix-Graillis by order of king Charles VII in 1425. Under Charles VIII, the estate returns to the Royal crown. But king Louis XIV ceded the lordship to François de Gélas, Viscount of Lautrec and Marquis of Ambers, in 1695. The village will remain in his descendants until the French revolution. The village is known for its production of painted terracotta and glazed lead from 1538. The museum of the neighboring Rabastens maintains a collection of more than a hundred dishes, plates, benitiers and stoves in glazed pottery originating from Giroussens.

Things to see in Giroussens, in addition, are the Jardin des Martels, the original castle, Pech Mascou, built in the 13C. In 1437, the castle was a royal prison but it was set ablaze by the Protestants in 1562. A second castle, the Château de Belbèze, was built in 1640 . It is of square plan with four towers covered with pyramid roofs. It was ceded and sold eventually in the French revolution. The Church of Saint-Salvi dates from the 14C. It consists of a four-span nave with arched warheads and a polygonal five-part choir. Three chapels are present in the spans. The façade is surmounted by a steeple-wall. The Church has furniture of altarpieces and paintings from the 17C and 18C. The chapel in the north is dedicated to Sainte Rufine, patron saint of potters and has a altarpiece of 1637. The walls of the nave are covered with wall painting by Fernand Augé (1896) and Paul Prouho (1900).

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are the general Tarn department 81 tourist office, which is valid for all the towns in this post here: https://www.tourisme-tarn.com/uk/

The ceramic center for pottery traditions and sales to the public here: https://www.centre-ceramique-giroussens.com/

The gardens of Martels just lovely:  http://www.jardinsdesmartels.com/fr/

A nice little train that goes from Giroussens to Saint-Lieux de Lavaur very nice for the family and helping preserve a beautiful tradition: https://www.cftt.org/

There is a tiny town nearby we like because we took the little train above with the boys, it is magical, kept by old railroad workers and trying to preserve a tradition that merits a visit by all.  Saint-Lieux lés Lavaur is located at 2 km east of Saint-Sulpice-la-Pointe.  A bit of history I like says that in 1240, Raymond VII was Count of Toulouse, son of Raymond VI, count of  Toulouse, Saint-Gilles, Marquis of Gothie and Provence, Duke of Narbonne and  Jeanne of England. He is then Lord of Saint-Lieux-lès-Lavar.  By 1655, the town is given to the bishop of Lavaur. At the end of the 17C, Saint-Lieux was part of the township of Lavaur circa 1802-1803. The village of Saint-Lieux is located on the edge of the Agout river.  And the little train is the major and only attraction here More of it in French : http://www.saint-lieux-les-lavaur.fr/fr/information/49463/monuments-ouvrages

Another wonderful small town is Saint Paul Cap de Joux , which before 1891, was commonly known as Saint-Paul-de-Damiatte. By 1585: Passage to Saint-Paul of Henri of Navarre. The future King Henry IV will sign the manifesto of St. Paul with the Vice Languedoc, Henri I, duke of Montmorency. In 1622, St. Paul served as the rear base for the Protestant leader of the region, Henri de Bourbon, marquis de Malauze, during the siege of Briatexte during the rebellion of the Huguenots. The wonderful thing to visit here is the Parish Church, from the 19C, of Neo-Romanesque style, it contains murals (1878) by Bernard Benezet, a renowned Toulouse painter. The altar could be the work of Viollet le Duc.

The city of Saint Paul Cap de Joux on the church: https://www.saintpaulcapdejoux.com/notre-glise

We move on to Rabastens as well in the Tarn ,located between  Lisle sur Tarn and Saint Sulpice la Pointe.

A little bit on the history I like:  The vestiges of a Gallo-Roman city in Las Peiras about 1 km outside town proved of the ancient times here. In the early 12C, the city was run by a co-lordship. The family of Rabastens is close to the Counts of Toulouse: Raymond de Rabastens is Bishop of Toulouse from 1200 to 1205 and Pierre Raymond is part of the Council of Raymond VI. In 1210 the co-lords gave up their rights of justice to the Earl of Toulouse, who protected the inhabitants. They attributes them freedoms and privileges. Rabastens’s loyalty to the counts of Toulouse, especially Pandian de Rabastens, is going to cost him a lot. Under the Treaty of Paris (1229), the city was forced to destroy its fortifications. The city becomes a consulate during this period. Peace returned, Rabastens knows at the end of the 13C prosperous thanks to its vineyard, then the most extensive of the Gaillac. The quality of Rabastens wine is recognized. The gabares, flat-bottomed boats, descend the Tarn with barrels of Rabastens to Bordeaux.

The Notre-Dame de Bourg ‘Church was built between 1230 and 1260 on the initiative of the Benedictine monks of Moissac, present at the priory in the 12C. It has a large, rectangular nave, with four arched spans of warheads and entirely in bricks, according to the model of the Saint-Étienne cathedral in Toulouse. In the 14C, prior Bernard Latour decided to add a polygonal chorus to the nave.  Being located on the pilgrimage route of Puy-en-Velay to Santiago de Compostela, the Church will be embellished with frescoes illustrating different episodes of the real or legendary life of St James the Mayor or Santiago el Mayor de Compostela.The town of Rabastens was a stopover town for pilgrims as evidenced by the Saint-Jacques Hospital and the Jacquaire heritage of the city.

In 1561, during the first religious war, the Protestants took over Rabastens and killed several Franciscans. The Massacre of Saint Bartholomew (24 August 1572 in Paris) was repeated in Rabastens well after 24 August as Protestants were massacred on October 5th. Early in the 19C ; Rabastens took its present appearance: the ditches were gradually filled to form the promenade of Lices, a suspension bridge is built on the Tarn in 1835 and the façade of Notre-Dame du Bourg is completed with the addition of a second tower. The artisan tradition remains with the weavers and shoemakers of the Middle Ages. They give way to cabinetmakers and furniture manufacturers.

The cooperative cellar created in 1953 energizes the economy of Rabastens. Other things to see are the City/ own hall, Old Priory. 16C turret. Museum of the country Rabastinois: Installed in the 17C mansion of the family La Fite de Pelleporc de Gourdas. The dovecote, located at the exit of the city, along the road to Saurs, surrounded by a park, the place is usually called the Pigo. The Hotel de la Castagnate (current Puységur free school) a former mansion of the Count Louis Pierre de Chastenet de Puységur.

The tourist office of the Tarn dept 81 on Rabastenshttps://www.tourisme-tarn.com/uk/patrimoine-culturel/balade-historique-rabastens/

We go on with this magical ride into Lisle sur Tarn, a 13C Bastide, situated on the banks of the Tarn river , in the heart of the Gaillac vineyard, Lisle-sur-Tarn enjoys a privileged position halfway between Toulouse and Albi. On the site de Montaguet was a fortified village on the pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela. His lord is a vassal of the counts of Toulouse. During the Albigeois Crusade, the northern Tarn, faithful to the Earl of Toulouse Raymond VI, and then Raymond VII, was the seat of destructive rides on the part of the Crusaders of Simon de Montfort. During the Treaty of Meaux-Paris which ended the fighting in 1229, order is given to dismantle the ramparts. According to the archives of Lisle, the inhabitants came to settle near a hermitage and a castle known as Castel de Belbézé. With the consent of the Count of Toulouse, a bastide was created to house the former inhabitants of the “Castel” of Montaguet and to respond to an increase in the population. The Bastide is surrounded by walls and ditches. The inhabitants called La Bastide la Yla, the island, because of its location along the river and the presence of streams around it. Upon the death of Alphonse de Poitiers, the Bastide and its dependencies enter the realm of the crown of France.

The true heritage of this city lies in its layout of streets arranged perpendicularly on a regular basis, constituting four districts delimited by four fortified gates. With its 4 425 m², its central square is one of the largest squares in Arcades of Bastide in the southwest of France. The facades are in red or half-timbered bricks. Just amazing indeed!  The Notre-Dame de la Jonquière Church, built in the 13C and 14C, is wonderful. The Castle of Gines. The Tumulus of Saint Salvi of Coutens : mount of land about 10 meters high, made by hand, whose tradition reports that it could be the burial of an English general… It is on the path of the GR walkers trail. The legend that an English general would be buried under a given megalith gives to the story in other places in France. Do not forget to try the chocolate tour and tasting in the Central square or Place Paul Saissac and see there the wonderful Fountain of Griffoul. The city has tourist info and on the wonderful wines call of Gaillac. This is from where our family gets the wine after generations, see wines of Clements and Saurs.

The city of Lisle sur Tarn on the chocolates: http://www.ville-lisle-sur-tarn.fr/tourisme/patrimoine_25.html

Castelnau de Montmiral one of the most beautiful villages of France as some of the others here. A town between Albi and Montauban. This Bastide Albigensian was founded in 1222 by Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse, who gave the Bastide the same franchises as Cordes and Gaillac.  Its primitive name is Castellum Novum montis Mirabilis which means something like the new castle of mount admirable. The diminutive of Montmiral was commonly used in official acts, including in the 19C in the civil status of the village. This diminutive is still used today by its inhabitants.

At the end of the 14C, the Bastide was part of the domains of Count Bernard VII of Armagnac in 1470, king Louis XI took the estates of the Count of Armagnac. Georges II de la Trémoille, sire of Craon, Governor of Tours, councillor and first Chamberlain of Louis XI, obtained from the King the lordship of Castelnau-de-Montmiral, Villeneuve and Milhavet. After 1479, Louis I of Amboise, Bishop of Albi, obtained permission from the king to acquire the lordship. Charles I of Armagnac was reinstated in his lordship in 1484. He settled in Castelnau, where he died in 1497. The lordship then enters the realm of the Royal crown. King Louis XIII, returning from the siege of Saint-Antonin, passed in Castelnau-de-Montmiral on June 24, 1622, housed in Tonnac. It is also the place of residence of the famous Privat family. Some other things to see here are the Place des Arcades with his pillory. The Assumption Church (the bell dates from 1554). Fortified  gates such as those of  Garrics,and  Toulze. The numerous stone and half-timbered houses. Ramparts. The Castle of  Guet destroyed in 1819 which is found on the coat of arms of the village. Cross Reliquary called Montmiral, executed in 1341 by a goldsmith of Albi and completed by a goldsmith of Toulouse after various efforts.  Several small castles are located in the village such as those of Corduriès, Fézembat, Mazières, and Meyragues. Several underground refuge. And the   Forest of Grésigne. More on Castelnau de Montmirail  in French here: https://www.tourisme-tarn.com/patrimoine-culturel/castelnau-de-montmiral

Last but not least is Graulhet ,where we still have family like cousins of my wife living there.  The town needs to be reach by car as there is no train station, and even this it is a bit off the A68 road connecting Toulouse to Albi and really link to Gaillac by the D964 road . Naturally, we come here by car.

There have been archaeological discoveries, dated from about 500 to 100 B.C.  The Roman presence is manifested among other things by the presence of a Gallo-Roman oppidum.   The castrum of Graulhet, first mentioned in 961, in a testament of Raymond I, Count of Rouergue. In 1166, Graulhet, then a lordship, passed under the control of the Counts of Toulouse. In the 16C, faithful to the Catholic Church of Rome, although in Cathar country, the city suffered relatively little damage during the crusade against the Albigeois and during the wars of religion, partly thanks to the policy of Louis Amboise of Aubijoux , Lord and Earl of Graulhet, who is also lieutenant-general. In the 17C, the grandson of Louis Amboise of Aubijoux, François-Jacques amboise was the friend and protector of Molière from 1647 to his death, as the artist began his career and just fled his Parisian creditors. Its Chateau de Crins hosts at the same time troubadours like Chapelle and Cachaumont, on the edge of the Dadou river.

Some of the things to see here are the Château de Lezignac (17C), the old bridge, built in 1244 allowing communication between the old village and the new Saint-Jean neighborhood where tanneries were gradually settled on the right bank of the Dadou river.  The Medieval district of Panessac with rue Panessac  a typical medieval style alley, narrow, lined with wooden-framed buildings and corbelled from the 16C and 17C . The Hostellerie du Lyon d’Or, a superb medieval building; Henri de Navarre, future king Henri IV, made a gourmet stopover here. Note the crosses of St. Andrew, typical of the 15C, on its beautiful facade and the marks of assembly in Roman numerals on the wooden sections. The Notre-Dame-du-Val-d’Amour Church, at the foot of which is the funerary slab of Louis Amboise of Aubijoux. Home of the leather trades: visit of an ancient Mégisserie, the different stages of the transformation of leather, from skin to objects made of leather. More from the town city hall of Graulhet on its heritage: https://www.ville-graulhet.fr/patrimoine

There you go another wonderful tour me think, and a wonderful gorgeous area of my belle France. Enjoy these small quant wonderful towns of the Tarn in Occitanie.

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

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February 25, 2021

Some news from Spain XCIX

And here on a bright sunny cool day in my neck of the woods I come back to you with news of my beloved Spain. It has been difficult periods and not much desire or opportunity to go out and enjoy as we can go out but most is closed. Let me tell you a bit more on what is my 99th post on my series Some news from Spain, Roman numerals XCIX! thanks for reading me over these years, appreciated.

As the world turns so is my Spain. Something in this pandemia governments try to hide but pros are saying loud and clear is the fact tourism is hurting badly and represent large portion of revenue for the regions and country. The number of tourists who arrived in Madrid until December 2020 was around 1.71 million, compared to the 10.4 million visitors the previous year, according to the National Institute of Statistics!!! . So that it stops being a pending subject, and on the occasion of the International Tourist Guide Day, They will tell us a little more about the History of Madrid to learn from it.

Madrid is home to the oldest restaurant in the world certified by the Guinness Book of Records, and legend has it that Francisco de Goya worked in its kitchens as a young man. It was inaugurated in 1725 and is called Restaurante Sobrino de Botín.yeah!

Madrid has the largest Royal Palace in Western Europe, doubling the size of the famous Buckingham, for example. Yeah! The oldest building in the city is the Temple of Debod, brought from Egypt at the end of the 60s. The oldest indigenous building is, however, far from the tourist focus: in the heart of the Carabanchel neighborhood stands the Hermitage of Santa María La Antigua, built in the 13C. Go see it

In Madrid’s Berlin Park you can admire remains of the famous wall that divided the German capital for decades. The shortest street in Madrid is perpendicular to the most famous one: its name is Rompelanzas, it is barely twenty meters long and is located halfway along Calle Preciados between Callao and Sol. Yes indeed!

At the Puerta de la Torre de los Lujanes (15C), the oldest civil building in Madrid, there are stonemason marks, symbols that identified the artisans or workshops that carved the ashlars that were placed in homes or churches and that they facilitated the collection of the work carried out, in addition to publicizing them.

There are rarely seen views, such as those enjoyed from the Cuña de O’Donnell park, similar to those enjoyed from the better-known Cerro del Tío Pío park or the Siete Tetas park, but with a different perspective. You can also visit housing colonies from the end of the 19C and the 20s and 30s of the 20C outside the center. For example, what remains of the Madrid Moderno neighborhood, located in La Guindalera, is an authentic and surprising marvel of style neo-Mudejar and modernism. The Cuña de O’Donnell park is a new extention very nicely done and located at Cemetery Nuestra Señora de La Almudena, bounded by the extension of Calle O’Donnell street to the north, by Calle Doctor García Tapia and Calle José Bergamín to the south, to the east by Calle Fuente Carrantona and to the west by Calle Arroyo de la Media Legua. Enjoy it

The vast majority of the time they look for good, beautiful and cheap places, both for informal meetings and for work meetings or hangouts with friends, now that the afternoon is taking so much, or even an appointment – whichever has one. Now in crisis we look more at our pockets, but we do not resign ourselves to stop going out, because socialization with restrictions has become, more than ever, a moment of evasion where we can forget the coronavirus, always respecting security measures and with the utmost care. Yeah life goes on and these two are great places enjoy it.

To create a gourmet space with a shop, restaurant and cafeteria where quality products reign in Chamberí district of Madrid. You can go to breakfast and go out having bought the bread, tomatoes from the garden, sausage or smoked oil made by them with their own machine, have some incredible wines with mussels and anchovies, which come out of the can to your mouth whole, and finish with a bite of homemade torrijas or Pão de Ló following the traditional Portuguese recipe. D.Origen Calle Gaztambide, 62, Madrid. Their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/d.origengourmet/

Various differentiated and minimalist environments to be at ease with interpersonal distance and a renewed Spanish cuisine menu, with starters such as black pudding fritters with honey tears, confit artichokes or grilled foie with caramelised onion and low-temperature egg. To continue, fish, meat and healthy and current dishes such as avocado and tomato tartare. Its winery stands out, with the main Spanish denominations of origin, and the house wine especially, a selection from the Martínez Lacuesta winery, in Rioja. En Recoletos. Calle Recoletos, 13 Madrid.Their webpage: https://www.enrecoletosrestaurante.com/

They are the restaurants with the best wine cellars’s lists in Spain. My favorites are:

ATRIO (Cáceres) . More than 4,000 references, including 42 vintages from Mouton-Rothschild, 27 from Latour, 23 from Petrus … and 80 from the mythical Château d’Yquem, the largest collection in the world outside the winery, which can be visited in a small chapel and which started in 1806. Every year, the restaurant’s updated wine book is published, a bibliophile gem.Yes indeed; have it! Webpage: https://restauranteatrio.com/en/the-wine-cellar/

LAVINIA (Madrid); the favorite still in my Madrid.   In its more than a thousand square meters, the largest wine store in Spain houses more than 4,500 wines from all over the world and from all price ranges. All, absolutely all, can be consumed in the local bistro ,which has a pleasant urban terrace at store prices! webpage: https://www.lavinia.es/es/paginas/tiendas-7

REKONDO (San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa). Unanimously recognized as one of the best wineries in the world, it responds to the passion for wine of Txomin Rekondo, who comments on the restaurant’s website: “In 1964, I decided to turn my hobby into my way of life and that’s how the Rekondo winery was born. Since then we have continued to buy wine from all over the world and improve our offering. ” In that time, it has collected thousands of bottles from more than 20 countries, among which the old vintages of great Rioja classics stand out. Another historical and great town too. Webpage: https://www.rekondo.com/en/the-wine-cellar/

I told you in previous post and the work continues as the Prado Museum reinvents its future with more social painting, more history and more women. The gallery is preparing the rearrangement of a good part of its exhibits. This is ongoing and when re open it will be a new Prado.To be seen a must!

And great news in this mess of the pandemia!  The great dream of the gallery owner Helga de Alvear is finally a reality; she opens her new museum of contemporary art in Cáceres after an investment of 10 million euros, almost half supported by institutional support from the Junta de Extremadura.

Nestled in the heart of the monumental city, with an area of 5,000 m2 (8,000 with a garden and provision for storage), the first exhibition – which will be inaugurated today Thursday by the Kings of Spain. It houses 200 works selected from the nearly 3,000 that the collector of German origin (Rhineland, 1936) since she settled in Spain in 1957. A new building with wide ceilings that houses the most complete private collection of contemporary art that currently exists in Europe. The new building houses a selection of works by artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Pablo Picasso, Louise Bourgeois, Wassily Kandinsky, Helena Almeida and Ai Weiwei, among others. Another room has also been designed for Francisco de Goya, through the first edition of Sus Caprichos (whims), to disseminate his influence on modern and contemporary art. A first phase of rehabilitation of the so-called Casa Grande, of 3,000 square meters, where until now the Helga de Alvear Foundation has exhibited. The building of the Museum of Contemporary Art; subsequently, a construction of another 15,000 m2 was projected for this new one. Part of the garden has yet to be completed and a warehouse and offices have been prepared. The building will have three entrances. The idea was to join the old city of Cáceres in a corridor, from Calle Pizarro street, to the extension that represents the access through Calle Camino Llano. The webpage of the Helga de Alvear Foundationhttp://fundacionhelgadealvear.es/en/expositions/helga-de-alvear-collection/

Some drawing from Dali found!! The Sacrament of the Last Supper (1955) is one of Dalí’s most popular works. It is in the collection of the National Gallery in Washington. It is a vast representation of the Last Supper in which an ethereal torso with outstretched arms, possibly the risen Christ, hovers over the seated figures of Christ and the apostles. An alleged unpublished sketch of this work has come to light, along with two others related to the artist’s religious-themed works: ‘Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)’, in which he painted Gala as a devotional figure before a crucified Christ, and ‘Calavera de Zurbarán’, his homage to the 17C Spanish master. Yesterday, the Gala-Salvador Dalí de Figueras Foundation did not want to comment on these unpublished items as it had not been able to see them yet. Keep an eye on it as this can be a great find and more reason to visit when possible. The foundation webpage: https://www.salvador-dali.org/en/dali-foundation/

Somthing to keep in mind for when will be possible to travel again in my beloved Spain. Some fortresses and castles of architectural and historical value I like, many with individual posts in my blog. Enjoy it

Most impressive fortresses in Spain, me think are

The Alcazaba of La Alhambra, (Granada) is, together with the Torres Bermejas, the oldest part of the Granada monumental site. Built in the 9C, it was dedicated to the surveillance and control of the city as well as the habitual residence of the elite army. It served not only for defence against enemies but also against internal uprisings. This great wall allowed that, even with the fall of the protected city, the citadel resisted during a long period. In the enclosure you can visit the Quebrada towers, the Homage towers and the famous Torre de la Vela.

The Alcàzar de los Reyes Cristianos (Cordoba). Stands next to the impressive Mosque which Alfonso XI restored this fortress that was part of the Caliphal palace and that, after being destroyed by the troops of Fernando III el Santo, in 1328. It preserves the keep and rooms with Roman mosaics and furniture old, as well as some beautiful gardens with Mudejar pools and fountains.

The Alcàzar de Jerez de la Frontera (Càdiz). Located opposite the cathedral, this 11C Arab fortification preserves seven towers (of the twelve it originally had) as well as two gates, the Ciudad (City) and the Campo (Country). Inside, the Chapel of Santa María stands out, a Christian transformation of an old mosque, as well as some Arab baths and a Renaissance palace.

The Alcazaba de Màlaga.(Màlaga) This defensive citadel is the main Arab monument in Malaga. Of the three original wall canvases ordered to be built by the Abderramán de Córdoba, two remain, set with defensive towers and with several access gates. The fortress is completed with three palaces whose workmanship recalls that of the Alhambra in Granada. Inside is the Archaeological Museum of Malaga.

The Alcàzar de Molina de Aragon (Guadalajara). This town with an intense border history between Castile and Aragon, and sensational natural landscapes preserves as its most representative monument a fortress with a castle, walls and the so-called Tower of Aragon. A spacious and elegant complex built by the Andalusians on an old Celtiberian fort between the 10C and 11C and which served as a bastion for the important Señorío de Molina, almost an independent nation of Castile and Aragon- in the 14C.

The Alcàzar de Segovia (Segovia). Between the Eresma and Clamores rivers, this imposing fortress dates back to pre-Roman times. It was rebuilt in the 13C as a royal palace, expanded in a Gothic style and endowed with a Herrerian air with Central European touches by king Felipe II. Completely restored in 1951 after the fire that ravaged it at the end of the 19C, its imposing location is joined by a spectacular interior: the Patio de Armas, the Throne Room, the Galera room or the Kings room, adorned with a luxurious frieze that recreates the original.

The Alcàzar de Toledo (Toledo). Erected at the wish of king Carlos V on the remains of previous fortresses, it was the architect Alonso de Covarrubias who gave the fortress its current plan in 1537. A quadrangular shape with four powerful towers. Successive fires and an underground charge of dynamite during the Spanish Civil War almost led to its destruction. After successive interventions it regained its splendor and in recent decades it has hosted the Army Museum and, more recently, the Library of Castilla-La Mancha, considered the second most important in the country behind the National Library!

You might have read heard or visit them and should know ,Spain has one of the richest palace heritages in Europe some of my favorites are:

The Royal Palace of Aranjuez (Madrid). It was practically destroyed after being destroyed by fire in 1748, but this residence of the Spanish royalty remains so spectacular that many guides refer to it as “the Spanish Versailles”. It was king Felipe II who entrusted the task of building the palace (as he did with the El Escorial Monastery) to his trusted architect, Juan Bautista de Toledo. He devised a beautiful French-style complex where its dazzling gardens and fountains stand out.

The Nazari palaces of Granada (Granada). In the list of the most beautiful palaces in Spain, the Nasrid Palaces (Comares and Los Leones) located inside the Alhambra in Granada, one of the wonders not only of Spain but of the whole world, could not be missing. These two Andalusian complexes with patios and gardens so impressed the Catholic Monarchs that they established their residence here after the conquest of the Nasrid kingdom.

The Granja de San Ildefonso of Segovia (Segovia). About 13 km from Segovia is the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, a majestic residence built by order of King Felipe V (born in Versailles). The first Bourbon monarch brought a taste for elegant palaces from France and decided to apply it to this architectural jewel , entrusting the project to the architect Teodoro Ardemans. Often call the Little Versailles.

The Palace of the Infantado (Guadalajara). The Palace of the Dukes of Infantado is a 15C building ordered to be built by Íñigo López de Mendoza y Luna, second Duke of Infantado, in Guadalajara. It is an Elizabethan Gothic style palace with Renaissance elements, such as the diamond points that decorate its façade. The exterior beauty of the palace is sublime, but the interior has nothing to envy. Its rooms are arranged around a splendid patio with a beautiful Gothic balcony.

The Royal Palace of Madrid (Madrid). Located where the Alcázar used to be, the Royal Palace of Madrid was ordered to be built by king Felipe V. The gossip then said that it was the monarch himself who caused the fire that destroyed the old Alcázar, in order to build this elegant palace in the French Baroque style . However, the king never came to live in it, since he died before its construction was completed. On the other hand, the Royal Palace is not only one of the most beautiful palaces in Spain: it is also the largest royal palace in all of Western Europe (double the area of Buckingham Palace and Versailles Palace).

And there you go folks a bit on my beloved Spain, some news and some must visit sights when possible. As you know if read my blog, an advertising campaign from the 80’s read and I like it, Spain , everything under the sun!! Enjoy Spain as we do! And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

February 25, 2021

The streets of Paris, a museum to the world!!!

Ahh just need to update the links and revise somewhat the text of this wonderful post, me think::) Walking Paris is a must, sublime, gorgeous uplifting experience always. Paris is eternal and just let me take you on a walk of it! Hope you enjoy it and thanks for reading me over the years!

Who would not want to walk in Paris? The question might make you think a bit…but really should be a go; as the streets of Paris are an open air museum, a grand museum at that. I have done some traveling in France… and Paris… specifically as working in the city for 9 years while living in Versailles and now visiting often ,every month when possible…. However, walking the streets is a must, a dire hard must for all.  And yes, that means forget about that wonderful metro experience you have heard or the bus or the tramway or the RER trains, nothing compares to walking in Paris. Oh yes I drive in Paris too, but even that is second to the thrill of walking the streets of Paris. That is the title of my post; The streets of Paris!

Moving on in my Paris, with few pictures for the show off! Paris is a mouvable feast well it happens all in the street. A bit of a story. When I started working in Paris I came by train from Versailles rive droite to Gare Saint Lazare and took metro line 12 to Concorde near my office.  The walking in the underground passage ways was horrible and the folks walk very fast taken me about 18 minutes to get to the office. One day I asked one of  my colleagues for a way to come walking if possible. The colleague told oh yes this is what you do. Go out of gare Saint lazare past rue Saint Lazare and bear slightly left into rue du Havre; past blvd Haussmann by the great department stores, Au Printemps; and continue into rue Tronchet right into the place de la Madeleine; bear left on the Madeleine church and continue on the back on rue Duphot, cross Rue Saint Honoré and bear left than a quick right into rue Cambon; then left on rue du Mont Thabor , then right into rue Rouget de Lisle into my job; time 18 minutes!! The end of public transports in Paris was ended, this was back in 2004!

paris-rue-du-havre-et-st-lazare-feb14-1

From that moment on, I would go by car into Paris, parked and walk all over even kilometers, miles ; it is an open museum I tell you. Really! and free!!! Many have said it but some picturesques street routes are the rue des Barres by the Church Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais around 15C houses! Rue de l’Abreuvoir in Montmartre;  Cour du Commerce-Saint André right by parallel to the rue de l’ancienne comedie and before reaching blvd Saint-Germain; Rue Montorgueil crossing rue Etienne Marcel; Rue Cremieux by the gare de Lyon, falling into rue de Bercy;Rue des Rosiers in the old jewish quarter ; rue de Lepic into Montmartre again; Rue Saint Antoine from the Bastille area into Saint Paul passing by the place des Vosges nearby; Avenue Winston Churchill ending in the Pont Alexandre III and bisecting the Grand and Petit Palais; and the Quai de Jemmapes along the Canal Saint Martin ; just to give some starting points as they are many many more in my eternal Paris!

Of course , speaking of streets , there are many hidden passagesways some private and other historical passages that connect you underneath some buildings from one street to the other, great!  Here is the Paris tourist office on them and of course, have some on my posts,enjoy it: https://en.parisinfo.com/discovering-paris/museums-monuments-heritage-paris/the-unique-charm-of-parisian-covered-passages

Now, I like to tell you about some of my nicest walks in Paris over time.

I like to walk between the Pont d’Austerlitz and the Pont Saint Michel!  You start on the pont d’Austerlitz (b. 1885 en cement)  by place Valhubert  and walk along the Seine river and continue along the quai Saint-Bernard and go down the stairs to the port Saint Bernard where the 5eme arrondissement starts and the neighborhood or quartier of Jardin des Plantes; right here you have the musée des sculptures en Plein Air de la Ville de Paris!  More on the Paris tourist office: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71487/Musee-de-la-Sculpture-en-plein-air

You continue along the Seine river ,and pass the Pont de Sully (b 1876) rapidly you arrive at the Pont de la Tournelle (b 1928)  , where you will see the statue to Sainte Geneviévre (saint patron of Paris) and right by here you see the building of the Tour d’Argent well known restaurant done in 1582!!! and on a terrace since 1937 on the 6th floor.  This bridge or pont de la tournelle finish at the pont de l’Archevêché, the narrowest bridge in Paris for traffic with only 11 meters wide;  from here continue to the port de Montebello where you can see the the re routing of the Biévre river windmills that gave the name to the rue de la Biévre (where had to go many times on business runs to office there); from here you can be at  the square Jean XXIII and see the Cathedral Notre Dame back ; continue your walk along the Seine without crossing over the bridge and you find by the pont au Double (b 1883).

You can walk on the above bridge  by the square Jean XXIII and continue in rive gauche or left bank side to the rue de la Bûcherie and rue de la Huchette.  You see the Petit pont (b 1853)  only bridge done in molded stones and the oldest passage of the  Seine river that were done since Roman times, and also the shortest bridge in Paris with only 32 meters long!  It was by here the last fire of Paris in 1718 determine forever not to built homes on the bridges.  After this bridge there is no more harbor or port area but continue walking along the Seine to the Pont Saint Michel with the big N of Napoléon III the bridge built in 1857 in cement. Here was the last houses on the bridge in Paris lasting until 1808. The quai Saint Michel was not done until 1816 while the follow up wharfs that of quai des Grands Augustins was already built since 1313!  Go over the bridge or pont Saint Michel to leave the 5éme arrondissement and enters into the 6éme arrondissement of Paris and the quartier Monnaie (Info/ Paris is divided into 20 arrondissement  (now group 4 into Paris Centre so really 17 but for postal matters kept the old standard ) or districts and each district is divided into four neighborhoods or a total of 80 neighborhoods or quartiers where Parisiens really live::))  Here you go up by the Place Saint Michel to see the monumental fountain of 26 meters !!! Lovely !!!

Another great walking trip along the Seine river is that one from the Pont de la Concorde to the Pont de Bir-Hakeim.  Right along my old working area of Paris you start at the wonderful pont de la Concorde (just off the place de la Concorde go down by the ramps into the Seine river by the port des Champs-Elysées done in 1938 in a pleasure harbor and today housing péniches or boats on the Seine.  You see on the rive gauche side the beautiful mansions of the Palais Bourbon, and hotel de Lassay (later the petit bourbon) and now the latter houses the resident of the president of the house of representatives of France ,and the first one the Assamblée Nationale. Later you see the building of the ministry of foreign affairs done in 1854 and now locally known as the quai d’Orsay, and just before the esplanade des Invalides you see the building with columns and balustres that was from 1900-1946 the train station of the line Invalides-Versailles and today the line RER C underground. There is a stairs giving you access to the cours La Reine at the angle of the bridge or pont Alexandre III (b 1900) ; the bridge is a bit lower to not hide the view of the Invalides; the first stone was laid by czar Nicolas II of Russia in 1896 and becoming the most prestigious bridge of Paris. You continue on the port des Champs-Elysées by an oval stair with great views of the Tour Montparnasse, left the Invalides and high up the equestrian statue of La Fayette was later transferred to the cour Napoléon in the Louvre museum!

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You go up to find the Place du Canada (by cours La Reine and cours Albert Ier) to continue your wlak along the Seine river. You will arrive at the Pont des Invalides (b 1856) ;you can continue on the port de la Conférence by the pont de l’Alma going up the ramp at the end into cours Albert Ier where you arrive at the traffic circle or place de l’Alma.  Here you see the wonderful pont de l’Alma (b 1974) after several renovations since the original of 1856.  Here the 8éme arrondissement gives to the 16 arrondissement of Paris in the quartier Chaillot.  Continue along the Seine river into the avenue de New York (quai des Bonshommes in 1572, then quai de la conference 1769, quai de Tokyo 1918-1945 and finally New York since 1945); many meetings in this avenue de New York wonderful Mona Bismarck foundation (now call the American Center for Arts and Culture).

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You have the corner angle of the Palais de Tokyo leave the sidewalks of the avenue NY by a stair that descend on the Seine river ,as the port Debilly and the nice walkway or passerelle Debilly (b 1900); done to link the two portions of the Universal Exhibition of 1900; now it is at the rue de la Manutention.  Leaving the rive droite we come into the port de La Bourdonnais (from the rue de l’Université to the rue Jean-Nicot in the Champ-de-Mars); going up you reach the quai Branly just before the pont de l’Alma now in the 7éme arrondissement , quartier Gros Caillou!  Go right into quai Branly until the ramp coming from the port with a stair, many parking spaces here ::) you see the Tour Eiffel and the Palais de Chaillot, before reaching up the pont d’Iéna (b 1814)  and continue below on the port de Sufffren (of many wine and gourmand tastings in the Pierre Cardin (RIP) boat Maxim!!!)  many cruising boats here, Batobus including good parking yes! and see the pont de Bir-Hakeim ! (b 1905) viaduct metro line 6 above ground as it was known viaduct de passy until 1949. It is the longest of all the bridges in Paris with 237 meters long. Before 1860 you come out from here as Paris to go the town of Grenelle! now part of Paris thanks to Baron Haussmann and Napoléon III! Very nice indeed!

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Well you get the idea and so many more wonderful walks, again believe me when I say Paris is an open air museum and meant to be preserve as such. We all have our favorites but I keep saying my favorite every time I write a post lol!!! IN essence ,they are all my favorites as Versailles is right up there too!  Enjoy the walks!!

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

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February 24, 2021

My Florida, wonderful memories!!!

And why not continue in memory lane and bring back this wonderful experience to remember forever. Let me update text and links on my memorable life in the State of Florida USA, just before my moved to my beloved France. Hope you enjoy as I and thanks again for reading me over the years!

If you search my blog you will see several posts on Florida. I am reminicent of my previous lives. Read and you will notice I lived for 18 years in Florida in addition to four years of University studies!!!while living in NJ (see post).  Florida is the Sunshine State incorporated into the USA in 1845. It has about 1,350 miles (2,170 km) of coastlines so a water lovers paradise as well. The earliest settlers were here before those northern claims…. when in 1513 a Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León landed and named it La Florida ( land of flowers) as it was during the Easter season or Pascua Florida.

You have several sources for tourist info depending on the area you are going. I lived in Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach, both in Volusia county, as well as in  North Miami, Hialeah, both in Miami-Dade county; and finally, Miramar in Broward county.

North Miami is a totally different city than Miami in fact there are about 7-8 towns with Miami on the name including the county!!!

Some of the things to see in North Miami are: The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) ,The Miami Auto Museum with large collection of classic cars, Hollywood cars, mini cars, scooters, motorcycles and bicycles from the collection of Michael Dezer, The Oleta River State Park is the largest urban park in the Florida State Park system. The park is located on 1,043 acres (4.22 km2) – 993 acres (4.02 km2) of land and 50 acres (0.20 km2) of inland water – on Biscayne Bay; the park contains one of the largest concentrations of Australian pine trees found in a Florida state park; and The Arch Creek Park is an 8-acre (32,000 m2) site at the junction of N.E. 135th Street and Biscayne Boulevard , just the area I lived! , and offers many opportunities for botanical, historical and archaeological study. It has a museum/nature center modeled after an early Florida pioneer home, displaying Indian artifacts dug from the grounds, and live animals from the nearby hammock. Remains of the original coontie mill are still visible across the creek, and the park exists as the only preserved archaeological site in the County.

The city of North Miami on things to do: https://www.northmiamifl.gov/514/Things-to-Do

Some of the things to see in Daytona Beach, other than the beach itself of about 23 miles or 37 kms are :City Island (married my Frenchie here) , City Island Ball Park, Daytona Beach Bandshell and Oceanfront Park Complex Seabreeze Historic District , South Beach Street Historic District, South Peninsula Historic District, the Tarragona Tower , Daytona 500 Experience, Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach Boardwalk, Daytona Lagoon Water Park, Halifax Historical Museum, Jackie Robinson Ballpark, Main Street Pier , Museum of Arts and Sciences,(best  Cuban museum outside of Cuba), and the Ocean Center.

The city of Daytona Beach on recreation: https://www.codb.us/891/Activities-Recreation

The Daytona Beach tourist officehttps://www.daytonabeach.com/

Some of the things to do in Ormond Beach ,other than the beach are: The Casements is a mansion , famous for being the winter residence of American oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. It is currently owned by the city of Ormond Beach and is used as a cultural center and park, Bulow Creek State Park is a Florida State Park next to the Atlantic Ocean. The park is adjacent to Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, and close to North Peninsula State Park, Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area and Tomoka State Park. Tomoka State Park within the park is the site of the Timucuan village of Nocoroco, located on the Tomoka River. The site was inhabited approximately a thousand years ago.

The city of Ormond Beach on leisure services: https://www.ormondbeach.org/258/Leisure-Services

Some of the things to see in Hialeah are: Great transport hub served by the Miami Metrorail at Okeechobee, Hialeah, and Tri-Rail/Metrorail Transfer stations. The Okeechobee and Hialeah stations serve primarily as park-and-ride commuter stations to commuters and residents going into Downtown Miami, and Tri-Rail station to Miami International Airport and north to West Palm Beach. The Hialeah Park Race Track is a historic racetrack on a site covering 40 square blocks of central-east side from Palm Avenue east to East 4th Avenue, and from East 22nd Street on the south to East 32nd Street on the north.The Hialeah Park Race Track is served by the Miami Metrorail at the Hialeah Station at Palm Avenue and East 21st Street. Originally opened in 1922 by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss and his partner, Missouri cattleman James H. Bright, Hialeah Park opened as a greyhound racing track operated by the Miami Kennel Club. The Miami Jockey Club launched Hialeah’s Thoroughbred horse racing track on January 25, 1925. Even Winston Churchill visited in 1949. There are plans for a redevelopment complex but still going on unfinished.

The city of Hialeah on things to see: https://www.hialeahfl.gov/101/Visit

The Greater Miami and the Beaches tourist office: https://www.miamiandbeaches.fr/

My last town was Miramar, Broward county, before leaping forward to France with after convincing her to live with me in the State of Florida for 13 years she convince me to come to France where we are already 18+ years here ::) as French.

Some things to see in Miramar are : Silver Lakes Sports Complex (where I played softball), Forzano Field (where I played beach volleyball), and SoccerZone Indoor (where I played indoor soccer). The city has over 40 parks, for the entire family.

The city of Miramar on parks and recreation: https://www.miramarfl.gov/1726/Parks-Recreation

The Greater Fort Lauderdale tourist office: https://www.sunny.org/

And things we were fond of while in Florida, was to eat out at a Cuban resto in Altamonte Springs near Orlando with parents; the train ride outside Fort Myers, the alligator sights at Cypress Reserve in the Everglades marshes; the frozen papaya trees in Ormond Beach, yes it can get cold there like down to 25F (minus celsius 0C =32F). The now closed Silver Spring in Ocala where the original Tarzan movie was filmed!

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Go on to watching the Yankees baseball spring training in Tampa, our eating runs into Columbia the oldest Spanish restaurant in the USA since 1905 in Tampa (me and my Frenchie) and then we also visited their branch at Saint Augustine, (me) the oldest city in the USA. The fancy French as always great restaurant La Provence in Miami still going strong!! The visits to Magic Kingdom and Epcot center French Pavilion!(me and oldest son) The visit to the Daytona Beach museum of Arts and Science and the best Cuban arts collection outside of Cuba!!! My university old dorm and apartment house right on Hollywood st off Main St Daytona Beach home of Bike Weeks!!! The Marineland of St Augustine, Miami seaquarium and Zoo as well as Mallory square in Key West, the beaches of Daytona and Ormond (my dear Martine), the birthplace of speed! (world record automobile in 1902). Picking up wines in Coral Gables from Crown wines (me), and up to the concerts at Daytona bandshell on the beach. And our last house in the USA at Miramar. All wonderful memories that I like to share with my readers and keep in my blog for the memories,for history,and for passing on down to generations of my family.

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The State of Florida tourist board! https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us.html

Cheers y’all, enjoy it as much as I do. Florida, the Sunshine State. Always remembered as if for anything else, where I was married and my sons were born! Hope you enjoy the post and do visit when possible me last time was 2015.

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

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