Posts tagged ‘Europe’

February 23, 2020

Flowers’ market at Versailles!

So here I am again back to my beloved Versailles, Yvelines 78, Ïle de France region. A city set apart as Royal and Grand of my belle France. I can’t help it to tell you , I lived here for almost 10 years and has left a big imprint ,re visited many times indeed; Versailles is worth a kingdom or a republic!

I have written so many posts on it hard to come up with a new one, but surprise!!! I left a rather nice one we went to get our flowers rather than a florist. The Flowers’ market of Versailles is unique.

The marché des fleurs  or Flowers Market is open Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays from 8h to 19h and Sundays mornings, all year round. It is located at the corner of the Avenue Saint Cloud and Avenue de l’Europe right on the sidewalks. It ,also, spills in the back side to the rue Georges Clemenceau. Very short walking distance from the palace/museum.


The atmosphere of the market place has a unique character perpetuated since 1561, when Martial de Loménie, adviser to the King, becoming lord of Versailles obtained authorization to establish four annual fairs and a market every Thursday. Now several markets flourished in my beloved Versailles. Been that I have already written on the food/flea market of Notre Dame my quartier, let me bring you the flowers’ market we went to and the most famous in town.

This is the address you need to know, whether you want to offer a bouquet, bloom your living room, your terrace, for unbeatable prices, or just stroll among roses and camellias. There are a few cut flowers and bouquets, and mostly potted plants, indoor or planting, as well as shrubs. At Christmas, the fir trees set you in the magic of the Holidays , in the spring the pollen tickles your nose as each season has its botanical favorite! Choose a color, know a flowering period, the merchants will advise you what you need without  hesitation! And then, even without buying, a walk here will be widely a good feeling.


Here is a bit more from the Tourist office of Versailles: Tourist office of Versailles on the flowers market

And if you are in town and bypass it , a pity but here are a list of florists in Versailles. The florists along rue de la Paroisse were frequented once in a while too. Florists in Versailles in French

And there you go , could not missed telling you about the wonderful Marché aux fleurs of Versailles, indeed worth a stop by any day. Hope you enjoy the post and the flowers!

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


February 23, 2020

Porte Saint Antoine, Versailles!

So you want to come in to the Domaine de Versailles, the property that includes the castle, trianons, and hameau of Marie Antoinette? Well we used to lived there and always went in by the back on the garden, and you can do it too

I have written briefly on it but feels a single post is merited on this information. You can come in to the Palace/Museum of Versailles by the Porte Saint Antoine.


Where I entered every weekend into the Domaine de Versailles, either walking or by car, the Porte Saint Antoine,,ordered built in 1786 to replaced the old archdoor that gave way from the petit parc to the town of Le Chesnay (where my boys went to school). The decoration of the archway or porte shows the lion of Némée that is killed by Hercules, as well seen in other parts of the castle such as the Cour Royale,and the support of balcons leading to the gardens.  The archway marked symbolic the entry into an universe where nature has been dominated,and magnify by the hands of the kings!!! Yes my archway is magnificent.


Arranged at the crossings of the horse riders and near the Avenue de Versailles, this exit from the palace made it possible to reach the Château de Marly then St Germain en Laye. It begins south in front of the Grand Canal and ends approximately 1350 meters north on Boulevard Saint-Antoine, where the Arc de Triomphe at Porte Saint-Antoine is located. The starting point for the nice walk is located at the Porte Saint-Antoine gate which is the closest entrance to the Marie-Antoinette Hameau. There is a small parking lot located before the entrance and it is free on Sundays. You can also enter your car in the park and park even closer paying fees. We can finally rent bikes to get around the park faster , there is a bike point right next to the front door.


Entrance into the park of Versailles is free and many locals (like we used to do it) jog in the park. Walking then is easy to the gardens/Trianons and Hameau properties without going in .We love it for jogging and walking many times.


You can get here by taking bus no 19 at Ave Saint Cloud and  Ave de l’Europe and stop at Arboretum, then walk about 200 meters to the porte Saint Antoine.Bus 19 schedule here: Transdev IDF bus schedule line 19

The entries of the Palace/museum of Versailles or more commonly call the Château de Versailles is here in English; Chateau de Versailles on the access and bus 19

This is an off the beaten path entry into one of the most popular sites in my belle France. It can avoid lots of lines, of course, you need to have your ticket purchase in advance to enter the palace. We wandered around the park/gardens at will and it was sublime to do to, the hightlight of us living there.

Hope you enjoy the visit to immense Palace of Versailles and do come in easier. Let me know your experiences using this entrance. Hope it helps

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


February 23, 2020

My love: Versailles!!!

Ok so we all have our favorite city , small medium and large. I do have mine. I am visiting this city since 1991 and each time is better. I was extremely lucky to come to live here in 2003 upon entering France as permanent resident and citizen. I do love Versailles. Other have more for the popular one but maybe I am too royal to like revolutionary cities, I do like Versailles. Capital city of the Yvelines dept 78 in the Ïle de France region of my belle France.


I have written so much on it , I am afraid I might repeat myself but so what, its all worth a kingdom or a republic. I do love Versailles and will like to tell you a bit more about it.

This is Versailles, the main Royal town of France. I lived here for almost 10 years by Notre Dame quartier  or neighborhood behind the Collegiale Church of Notre Dame, grand!! awesome unforgetable.  I have visited it several time sometimes staying in the city or in Paris or just near in the Yvelines renting from hotels to apparthotels to houses.


After all, I am ask to tell about the town, and frankly visiting and living are two different things. When I lived there I hardly took photos, and after getting into my blog (Nov10) started taking a bit more, on my last visit ,I think took more than ever about 150 photos!!!

We ,of course, walk in our old neighborhood that was behind our Collegiale Church Notre Dame, the one where all the princes of Versailles were registered at birth and baptized (and later kings even of other countries). The one that was not taken for Cathedral because the French revolution did not want it to make a Royal shrine more powerful, so they chose another for the cathedral in the Saint Louis quartier. However, Notre Dame is the oldest and most prestigious historically.

In all we got into the palace/museum property to get into our old porte Saint Antoine and past the Hameau de la reine Marie-Antoinette, and into the Petit Trianon and Grand Trianon, taking the petit train to come back to the castle. We saw again the Grand Canal and the boats, and ate dinner at our favorite restaurant and still grand, Le Boeuf à la Mode, 4 Rue au Pain at the place du marché Notre Dame. Open 7/7 from breakfast from 9h and continuous service from 12h to midnight. Fabulous Versailles look and belle époque design, recommended. The official webpage here: Le Boeuf à la Mode resto in Versailles


We had lunch at the old Tavern de Maitre Kanter at 5 Rue Colbert (this later came to be the Pavillon Colbert and now do not see much action there to verify if open on my next trip) very near the castle on the right side looking at castle. We had a bottle of red Joseph Drouhin burgundy wine, steaks and fries, choucroute paysanne , with oysters as entry, desserts from creme brulée to ice creams banana splits, and others for 153€ for five not bad with a look at the Chateau de Versailles ! location bring the price high but the view and ambiance is magnificent. More info on their Facebook page here: Facebook page of Pavillon Colbert Versailles


The Château de Versailles  was fantastic, some crowds (record breaking visitors numbers!! ) but worth it again. We went in fairly quickly and as design , purchase my ticket like a tourist on site very fast, the security line advance quickly too and you are in. We were inside the palace by 10h (10am).

 The ticket office on the left of the main parvis once inside the grilled wrough iron door.   We saw again quickly the gardens, the Royal Chapel , the grand and petit apartments, the different rooms, gallery of glass and the gallery of battles with Yorktown , all wonderful, it seems the now visiting was more beautiful than when visit as a resident. We wondered the gardens of the Château de Versailles, where we roam many times for walks and lunch to missed our loving Café Angelina in the Petit Trianon outside with a terrace lovely after a long day jogging or walking in the gardens.


We went over the kids bus stops along avenue Saint Cloud and Europe, now we found the parking there has been change from entering from the ave de l’Europe now you entered by the Avenue de Paris… Of course, we came inside the Collegiale Church of Notre Dame. And we visited the market or Marché Notre Dame ; where we did some last minute shopping before it folded for the day . And we went to Le Chesnay where my boys went to school, high school and did shop at the wonderful Parly II shopping center, now renamed Westfield Parly II to separate the housing and the shopping mall. It is the best in the area and for the size the best with all the trimmings of Paris including Lenôtre, Au Printemps, BHV, etc, and a wonderful food section.  More info here: Shopping Center Westfield Parly II



We went up where most do not go when visiting Versailles, a pity. Its more than a castle;; up in the Montreuil quartier going away from the chateau on avenue de Paris you reach No 73 on your left hand side, see the Domaine Madame Elizabeth (house of sister of Louix XVI, also guillotine for defending her brother). Now a cultural center on temporary exhibits and events.  More info in French here:Domaine de Madame Elizabeth


If you go thru the gardens in the side back ,get out on the back door to your left trails, and go out in ave Champ Lagane, take left and go straight to find the the Maisons des musiciens Italiens at No 15. These were the musicians that king Louis XIV brought from Italy to sing and play at his court. Then it house the Madame de Marsans that care for the children of Louis XV.  Now, it is the museum of the Compagnons du tour de France, that have their hq here too. More info on reservation with the tourist office here: TOurist office of Versailles on the Maison des Musiciens in French


Then visit the Hôtel des Menus Plaisir du Roi; at no 22 avenue de Paris ; right hand side from chateau .This is where the toys and amusement of the king’s children were kept, then it serve to host the Etats Généraux in 1789. Where the deputies voted a National Assembly and abolished all priviledges and rights of the nobles creating the declaration of the rights of men and citizens. Today, it is the musical baroque center of Versailles with baroque music plays or the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles. More info in their official webpage in English here: Official Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles


In Versailles we past by the wonderful museum Lambinet with all the history of Versailles in it.  It is in my old quartier Notre Dame at boulevard de la Reine. More info in the city page in English here: City of Versailles about the Musée Lambinet

We visit wonderful history in the old Lycée Hoche, one of the highest learning secondary or high school in France in the scientific field. It is at 73 ave Saint Cloud, and were before the convent of the queen, that were given to the school after the French revolution. Built between 1767  and 1772,and became an Imperial college in 1806, by 1888 it was rename Hoche in honor of local native General Lazare Hoche. More info in the site of its museum kept apart from the school the visit info in French see it here: Friends of the Museum of Hoche Versailles

We visit our Hôtel de Ville, our former city/town hall, and went all the way up visiting the different departments as if were still here,and the people were nice enough to let us roam thru the hallways (hospitality Versaillaise). webpage of the city with a map you can click the points you want to see in the map, I have on tourists spots in French here: City of Versailles map on tourist spots


It is a huge place as it is today with 37 hectares on the palace ground along but it was 807 hectares at its heyday in royalty. The different gates or doors of old can be found in maps but there is one back all the way back of the Grand Canal by St Cyr l’école, dates from 1741. It is one of the best example of power and beauty a fairy tail story only broken by a revolution which the holder now has the same absolute powers and lives in a palace Elysées ::) It was a long weekend of glory for us,  but Versailles will always remain close to our hearts, who needs Paris when you had Versailles ! Really ::) Do come ,enjoy it, no matter the wait ,it is all worth it. AND, do wandered on the town, it has still an old world ambiance with all the modern facilities of today. All wonderful Versailles, a Royal town, my kind of town. And ,I am sure if dare to visit all of it, away from the chateau ,it will become your town too….

Some additional webpages as usual thing from me to help you plan your trip here are

The tourist office of Versailles in English: Tourist office of Versailles in English

The city of Versailles on tourism info in French: City of Versailles on tourism

And of course, can’t be away from it, the Palace/Museum of Versailles in English: Palace museum of Versailles

And there you have it my cinderalla story on a awesome castle of France and by now the world. I love Versailles!!! Hope you enjoy it ,and do come out of the castle into the city, huge things to see and do.

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

February 22, 2020

Arboretum at Versailles!

And here I am back in old familiar territory of my belle France. I look but did not find any post on this wonderful spot in my beloved Versailles and was surprise. This is a nature’s heaven that should be visited at least once and is easy to get there from the palace.

So , therefore, let me tell you a bit on the Arboretum de Versailles-Chevreloup, Yvelines 78, Ïle de France region. Please note before the French revolution this area was included in the Domaine de Versailles better known as the Palace/museum but with a lot more dependancies.


The city limits has the extension of the Chateau de Versailles in its northern borders way beyond what you normally see at the Grand Canal, here the old domaine now greatly reduce gives way to a forest of trees, it is call the Arboretum de Chévreloup! Created in 1924 it gives you a tour of the world in trees covering an area of 50 hectares ( 123.5 acres). You will follow trails showing trees from far away regions as the Himalaya,Europe,China,Japon,Caucausian range, USA, Canada, etc. You will find a trail of cedar trees from the Atlas mountains, Ecus ,Sequoias, maple syrup erables trees, sycomores,also fruit trees like prunes, apples,and flower trees like paulownias.

The total area now open to the public is 200 hectares (494 acres) , preserving about 2 500 species of trees. An oasis in Versailles. The best way to go there is from Versailles gare d’Europe by ave Saint Cloud, take bus no 19 to stop Parly II/Arboretum, then just walk across the street.  If you are coming straight from Paris at gare rive gauche RER C station, walk to your right cross ave de Paris and continue to avenue de l’Europe to next blvd which is the Avenue de Saint Cloud turn left and the bus 19 stop is right there.

With more than 2,500 species and varieties of trees which coexist and form the richest collection of trees in Europe, the Arboretum of Versailles-Chèvreloup is nevertheless a unique place, managed by the National Museum of Natural History and labeled “Garden remarkable “. From April for the cherry blossoms and magnolias, in the spring for the magnificent rhododendrons or the red chestnut trees or in the fall to discover all the trees in shimmering colors ranging from yellow to red.

Among the spots not to be missed, there are of course, the meadow of Japanese cherry trees, the planting of dwarf conifers, or the Lawsons maze a wandering among conifers with colorful foliage. Take a stroll around the remains of the hydraulic system that supplied the fountains of Versailles, such as the Chèvreloup Reservoir. The Arboretum offers for example a new 10 km route for traveling on 3 continents. A second route, called Ile-de-France, presents the main species of trees and shrubs native to Ile-de-France region.

A couple of webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Arboretum de Versailles Chevreloup in English

National Monuments of France on the Arboretum in English

A nice detour indeed other than the obvious in the city of Versailles. Hope you enjoy it as we do

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

February 22, 2020

The Albigeois, Tarn, dept 81 of France!

Hi, if you have been reading my blog, you know I am an amateur of history and architecture in principal. And of course, I have written on these areas before in my blog, but they are unique , sentimental, and just awesome for my belle France. So here I am again trying to tell you a bit more on the Department 81, Tarn (which is the river) of the region of Occitanie in my belle France. And of course, some of its most picturesques small towns of many family visits over the years. No pictures(see posts)  just visual flashes for me,thanks for reading.

Let me tell you briefly on the history of the Tarn! The Tarn is a department 81 of the Occitanie region, crossed by the Tarn river which gave it its name.  From very old!!! the territory is in turn integrated into the Roman Empire, the Visigothic Kingdom of Toulouse and the Frankish Kingdom. Having become vassal of the county of Toulouse, the territory of Tarn, named Albigeois in reference to Albi its capital, is ravaged by the battles of the Albigeoises crusade. It was integrated into the Royal domain in 1270 and belong to the province of Languedoc. The fight against Catharism was entrusted to the Inquisition. The country is recovering from its ruins thanks to the work of management and creation of country towns or Bastides. From the Renaissance, we can really speak of Albigeoise renaissance, as the town planning was deeply marked. Shortly after, the Protestant Reformation deeply marked the department. Albi remains anchored in Catholicism while Castres is sensitive to Protestantism. Fighting and massacres took place before peace returns with the signing of the Edict of Nantes. The south of the Tarn comes out transformed, the Protestants having systematically destroyed the previous religious buildings: churches, cloisters, monasteries, crucifixes, etc.

During the French revolution, the department of Albigeois created in 1790 is quickly renamed Tarn in reference to the main river which crosses it. The department provides four battalions of national volunteers to defend the borders of the new Republic. The revolutionary and Napoleonic wars allow rapid rises in rank. At WWI was a tragic event. The number of soldiers dead at the front marks the time. During WWII, the Tarn was subjected to the Vichy regime. In 1942, the southern zone was invaded by the Nazis occupiers. This event and the requisition of young people for the service of compulsory labor feeds the Tarn resistance in recruits. The Maquis of Vabre, the Montagne Noire or the Grésigne greatly complicated the task of the occupants. In 1944, it was part of the departments liberated by the French interior forces. On January 1, 2016, the Midi-Pyrénées region, to which the department belonged, merged with the Languedoc-Roussillon region to become the new Occitanie administrative region.

Dept 81 government site of the Tarn in French

Tourist office of the Tarn dept 81 in English

And ok see was a brief introduction to a very old area of my belle France, well we are very old! Now into the towns please. Are you following me?

I have mentioned cousins of my dear late wife Martine are here now. Nestled in the heart of a thousand-year-old vineyard, 4 km from Gaillac, the village of Montans is known for its production of Gallic and then Roman pottery, attested by numerous archaeological remains unearthed since the 19C. The Archéosite, an exhibition space depending on the community of Tarn and Dadou, offers a journey back in time to discover the daily life of Gallo-Roman potters with archaeological objects and life-size reconstructions.  The official webpage of the Archéosite is here: Official Archeosite of Montans

The tourist office of the area vineyards and bastides has more in English: Tourist office vineyards and bastides on the Archeosite

We move on to Rabastens, already written long on it but briefly now on the museum.  This superb 17C mansion,Hôtel de la Fité, converted into a municipal museum, musée du Pays Rabastinois showing important collections of archeology, art and local history, as well as temporary exhibitions of ancient and contemporary art. The ground floor is devoted to Giroussens pottery. The second room gathers carpentry masterpieces from the Compagnon Roger Bellegarde. A third room has just been fitted out and houses the works of Jane Atché, poster designer from the end of the 19C and native of Rabastens. A collection of paintings by local artists decorates the stairwell, which leads to the landing with its 17C tapestry and its collection of models of medals. The first floor offers archeology, with its splendid mosaic and its sacred art. On the second floor are exposed Parisian haute couture embroidery signed René Bégué, dit Rébé, the works of the landscape painter Boissière, as well as paintings and terracotta sculptures by Giovanni Léonardi, friend of Picasso, Max Jacob and Jean Moulin. A must to come here! Tourist office of Vineyards and Bastides on the Museum in English

Another important thing to see here is the Church Notre Dame du Bourg written on it just brief as listed since 1998 as a World Heritage Site by Unesco as remarkable monuments on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, the Church of Notre Dame du Bourg is a jewel of medieval Occitan architecture. The Notre Dame du Bourg Church celebrates in June 2018 the 700 years of the completion of its Choir!. The tourist office webpage in English here: tourist office of vineyards and bastides on the Church Notre Dame du Bourg

And the other nice town is Saint Paul Cap de Joux, seat of the Cathars’s bishop! and a nice historical Church of Saint Paul Cap de Joux .The wonderful thing to visit here is the parish church, from the 19C, of Neo-Romanesque style, it contains murals of 1878 by Bernard Benezet, a renowned Toulouse painter. The altar could be the work of Viollet le Duc.  The tourist info of the city on the Church in French here:

There is also,the Sainte-Cécile de Plane Sylve Chapel, where there is now a Cross tell us that it was here the center Cathar of Saint Paul.  The city page on views of the town ,nice aerial view here: Cityof St Paul Cap de Joux on the town views

And I go on on beautiful Tarn to reach  Giroussens ,where you can see the ceramic and the magnificent Jardins des Martels, founding plant and flora of all types in a huge park, considered one of the most beautiful in France, the webpage is here : Official jardins des Martels in English

The tourist office on the Jardins des Martels: Tourist office of vineyards and bastides on the jardins des martels

The place of making pottery for the kings of France and as far as Louisiana in the USA and Quebec in Canada. The Maison de la Ceramique Contemporain at Place Lucie-Bouniol  is wonderful to see the different shades and shapes of ceramics, the pottery traditions and sales to the public. More info in English here: Tourist office of Vineyards and Bastides on the maison de la ceramique of Giroussens

Other things to see in wonderful Giroussens ,in addition, 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).

Nearby you can have a nice train ride in  Saint Lieux lés Lavaur with terminus in Giroussens. Saint Lieux lés Lavaur, has an interesting real train ride from the old days, and still kept alive by enthusiasts, the ride is wonderful for the entire family. Its call  the chemin de fer touristique du Tarn . It is listed as an association of Acova ,and has five locomotives of vapor, 3 locomotives electric, and 25  locotracteurs or road switchers.  this is the official page in English here: Official association of the train ride of Saint Lieux les Lavaur

A bit more on the town from the tourist office of the Tarn in French (only info): Tourist office of the Tarn 81 on Saint Lieux les Lavaur

And I continue my rides in gorgeous Tarn dept 81 of Occitanie! The town of  Lisle sur Tarn and the chocolates ,another wonderful town in this region of beauty in my belle France. The chocolate museum or Le Musée Art de Chocolat is right in the place aux couverts closest to rue Saint Louis upon entering into the town’s center.  The tour is given showing all the major production areas of  cacao, the making of it, the shipping, and of course very good portions of tastings of the end result chocolate from Ecuador, Ivory Coast, Dominican Republic, etc etc etc, just a mouthful, do come over, these are the creation of  maître chocolatier Michel Thomaso-Defos  that makes recreation of figures and places with chocolate done by painter and sculptor Casimir Ferrer ,and sculptors Marie-Madeleine Gautier and  Marta Solsona. More info in French here: Official Chocolates museum in LIsle sur Tarn in French

A bit more in the tourist office in English: Tourist office of the Tarn on the Chocolate museum

Other nice things to see and do here is the Musée Raymond Lafage, 10 rue Victor Maziés, it recount the engravings, and drawing of this local artist born here in 1656 and died in 1684 at Lyon , very well known for his work is found in many buildings and museums in France but also in Europe, United States even with individual collectionists. More info in French in their Facebook page here: Facebook page of Museum Raymond Lafage

The tourist office has a bit more in English here: Tourist office of Vineyards and Bastides on the museum Raymond Lafage

The Place Paul Saussac square in Lisle sur Tarn is one of the biggest arcaded medieval squares in the Occitania region. It is a great promenade and many interesting things to see as above are just around it.  One unique thing to see there is the Griffoul fountain from the 13C with its own eventful history. More on this square from the tourist office of the Vineyards and Bastides of the Tarn in English here: Tourist office of Vineyards and Bastides on the square Paul Saussac

Another wonderful picturesque town and cousins here as well is Graulhet, it  has a wonderful market days in the lower city or ville basse which you descend by steps of stone from the high city or ville hausse, location is Place du Jourdain.  The grandparents of my wife used to come here for shopping, and its a major center of tanners for leather goods in France. You can see the Pont Vieux or old bridge built in 1244 and the pedestrian rue Panessac, but the main action is in the market. My dear late wife Martine loved to shop here, and we will continue the tradition. Another interesting thing to see here and worth the detour is the Maison des Métiers du Cuir or the leather tanners’ house, a tradition of old around here. More info in English from the tourist office here: Tourist office of Vineyards and Bastides on the leather tanners house

And last but not least, a bastide town!  Castelnau de Montmiral,one of the famous bastides in the southwest of France. It was here that the Catholics of Gaillac took refuge after been expelled by the Cathars. Here is a ramparts and hilly streets many with beautiful views over the river Tarn and tributaries . It has been classified as one of the most beautiful villages of France! La Croix reliquaire des Comtes d’Armagnac is a cross relics that has been displayed in Paris at the Grand Palais, and you can see here at home inside the Church Notre-Dame de l’Assomption.  A bit more on the Church at the tourist office in English: TOurist office vineyards and bastides on the Church Notre Dame de l’Assomption

The most beautiful villages of France on Castelnau de Montmiral in French here: Les Plus Beaux Villages de France on Castelnau de Montmiral

The intimate and beautiful central square place des Arcades is a must to be in and walk it and eat there and well just lovely!!! More on the tourist office in English: Tourist office vineyards and bastide on the square Place des Arcades in Castelnau de Montmiral

And there you go a quick road warrior tour of my sentimental Tarn, so many memories and trips, so good to have a blog to tell all and keep for the future. Hope you have enjoy it too and do come, its one of the most beautiful areas of my belle France.

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

Tags: ,
February 22, 2020

A river for a great city, the Seine!

And on another rainy gray day in my lovely Morbihan Breton let me tell you about another wonderful river of our world and the river of Paris. As often the case for me, I have written before in my blog on it but never in detail. I decided it is time to give it its due credit to the Seine river of Paris.

This is the best most glamorous river of France, and not just because it passes by Paris. In Paris is it just romantic, wonderful, great, gorgeous well you get it right! It has 37 bridges passing over it, and I have written a piece on the bridges of Paris and the Seine in general . Today Paris has 34 bridges over the Seine and 4 pedestrian walkways. The Charles-de-Gaulle bridge (1996) and the Léopold-Sedar-Senghor (1999) and Simone-de-Beauvoir (2006) footbridges are the last works built. In 2017, more than 10.5 million passengers were transported on sightseeing boats in France, 60% of which were in Ile-de-France (the region of Paris) , i.e. almost 7.5 million passengers. One in two customers is a foreigner.

More into Paris proper, the Seine cuts Paris in its midst even if the right bank(rive droite)  occupies a space more important than the left bank( rive gauche). In Paris, its length occupies nearly 13 km, with a depth varying between 3.40 and 5.70 meters. Its width varies from 30 to 200 meters. The normal holding of the reach of Paris, i.e. the altitude of the surface in relation to the sea level, is about 27 meters.


In Paris, the floods are measured since 1876 by a hydrometric scale installed at the Pont d’Austerlitz  (Austerlitz Bridge) , nevertheless it is the statue of the Zouave of the Pont d’Alma (Alma bridge) which remains the most popular. This indicator during the flood of January 1910, water reached on this scale the record height of 8.68 meters ( I guess an ecological disaster but we never heard anything much of it ::)) . Since 1870, the height is taken at the train station Austerlitz. Although there have been no larger floods in the last sixty years, five large floods occurred in the 20C: in 1910, 1920, 1924, 1945 and 1955. The oldest known floods of the Seine were narrated by Julien (358AD) and Grégoire de Tours (582AD ). The next  modern one in May to June 2016, the Seine experienced an important flood. The water level peaks at 6.10 meters on the night of June 3 to 4. It’s the biggest flood in Paris for over 30 years. However, it does not exceed the 6.18 meters of the 1982 flood.  The last one of 2018 recorded 5,86 m on January 28 at 22h30.  And certain transport infrastructures, in particular the RER C are submersible in the event of a major flood.


A bit of history I like

The Seine river would have captured the old course of the Bièvre river from the Pont d’Austerlitz to the Pont de l’Alma. The two rivers would have swept the silts that separated them between the current train stations of Lyon and Austerlitz and the arm of the Seine east of the current Marais district was gradually filled. The current confluence of the Bièvre and the Seine was thus formed east of the Sainte-Geneviève hill in a delta marsh between two arms of the Bièvre leading to the location of the current bridges of the l’Archevêché and Austerlitz . After having wandered, the confluence would have established itself upstream from the Pont d’Austerlitz.


The pillar of the Nautes, kept at the Musée national du Moyen Âge des Thermes de Cluny in Paris, reminds us that navigation on the Seine was already intensive in the first years of the Roman conquest. In 1170 the corporation of water merchants received from King Louis VII the monopoly of commerce on the Seine. On their seal is the boat which is still in the coat of arms of the city of Paris.   In August 9, 1803, experimentation of Robert Fulton’s steamboat was done on the Seine. The first bateaux-lavoirs or laundrymat boats were anchored in the Seine in 1851, and quickly reached the hundred. The arrival of running water in Parisian buildings led to their gradual disappearance until 1937. The Line 4 of the metro was the first to cross the Seine underground, in 1908.

The Seine river in Paris today has only two real islands: the Ile de la Cité and the Ile Saint-Louis. The Ile de la Cité did not take on its present appearance until the beginning of the 17C, during the construction of the Pont Neuf, on the occasion of which the Islets of the Gourdaine, aux Juifs, and des Vaches. Île Saint-Louis was originally called Notre-Dame when it was cut in half by a canal in the middle of the 14C. As a result, the upstream islet took the name of Ile aux Vaches and the downstream islet kept the name of Notre-Dame. The two islands only regained their unity in the first years of the 17C, and then became a new residential area. The name of Saint-Louis was given to it in 1725, replaced by that of Fraternity during the French revolution.


Today, the Seine river no longer provides drinking water to Parisians, since the surface water used comes from Evry and Orly, far upstream. About 240  bouquinistes ( booksellers)  have settled on the banks of the Seine, right bank as left bank, since the 17C with varying fortunes depending on the period. Fixed barges or péniches are also the place of residence of certain Parisians. On the banks of the Seine, there are many walks, as well as, on certain portions of both the right bank and the left bank, a expressway for motor vehicles. In the fall of 2012, the right bank lane was redeveloped to make the waterfront accessible to pedestrians. Since the spring of 2013, the lower track on the left bank from the Musée d’Orsay to the Pont de l’Alma has been redeveloped into a pedestrian zone equipped with various facilities such as benches, game tables, restaurants, floating gardens, pools, etc.   Since the summer of 2002, for a little over a month each year, the Paris Plages operation has hosted various events in the middle of sandy beaches and potted trees.


Some webpages to help you understand and plan your trip to the Seine river of Paris, of course!

Calculation of fluvial itinerary in France including the Seine. Par exemple Paris 7éme to Rouen Normandy the traject will be 239,29 km done in 16 hours 13 minutes passing by 6 écluses or levies. More info here in French:

The Seine in the city of Paris:

Several boat companies running trips in Paris:

The Seine river is a Parisian and many visitors passion. Just coming over to see the water flows from the bridges and banks is sublime me think. Angling is a great pleasure, watching those who fish is still a Parisian satisfaction. And one big hint, do you know the Seine helps you drive in Paris even without a GPS?

One big reason Paris is the most beautiful city in the world, a movable feast indeed. Hope you enjoy the post as I did.

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

Tags: , ,
February 21, 2020

Bordeaux and Quinconces!

Well how about that I have written several posts on the wines of the region of Bordeaux but not much on its monuments! sacre bleu!!! This is one of my favorite cities in my belle France and candidate for my retirement years!!! We have spent several family trips here over the years.

The whole huge area around Bordeaux is connected by a beltway road, the “rocade” or the A630 that takes you into the city or out into the other areas and into Spain. My best is to go into the Médoc, the famous area of wines but it has a lot more. From the rocade you  take exit 4 to go into central Bordeaux or exit /sortie in French to no 7 that takes you into the side D1/D2 of wine country along the Garonne river, the other exit/sortie no 8 takes you into the beaches and central area of Medoc.

Its time for me to correct the unnaming and tell you about some of the monuments of the city of Bordeaux. Bordeaux is in the Gironde dept 33 of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France and I like to tell you a bit on the Place des Quinconces or Esplanade.

The Place des Quinconces is one of the main squares in Bordeaux. It was created in the early 19C on the site of Château Trompette, it is made up of an esplanade descending gently towards the Garonne river framed to the north and south of tree plantations. The imposing monument to the Girondins and two rostral columns decorate the two ends. Its area of 12 hectares, which makes it the largest square in France and one of the largest in Europe.


Half of the square is planted with trees, whose staggered arrangement gives it its name. A staggered arrangement is an arrangement of five units: four arranged in a square, one in the center. By reproducing the pattern, lines offset by half a unit are obtained. The place initially baptized Place Louis XVI then renamed Place Louis-Philippe takes its current name after the Revolution of 1848.

The layout of the square itself was carried out, after the demolition of the castle, in ten years between 1818 and 1828. In 1829, two large rostral columns, in neo-classical style and celebrating Commerce and Navigation, were built in the end of the esplanade on the Garonne side.

in 1883 it was decided to build a monument in the center of the hemicycle in memory of the Girondins and celebrating the French Republic. The 43-meter high column and the basins which are located at its foot were not completed until 1902. You can finds there the monumental statues of Montaigne and Montesquieu in white marble which were placed there in 1858

The Girondins monument consists of a large base framed by two basins, decorated with horses and bronze groups, and surmounted by a column 43 meters high where culminates at 54 meters in height the statue of liberty breaking its irons in green bronze.


Among the sculptures: towards the Grand Théâtre: the triumph of the French Republic; towards the Chartrons: the triumph of Concorde. towards the Garonne river: we find the Tribune with the Gallic rooster, on its right: History and on its left: Eloquence has 2 people seated. Towards Place Tourny: monument erected in memory of the Girondins,  with the city of Bordeaux seated on the bow of a ship with a cornucopia. On the right of the base, a river allegory: the Dordogne and on the left the Garonne. At the foot of the chariot with horses: Ignorance, Lying and Vice. The quadriga of sea horses is a representation of Happiness! Awesome monument indeed!!

The city of BordeauxCity of Bordeaux on the Place des Quinconces

Tourist office of Bordeaux: Tourist office of Bordeaux on the Esplanade des Quinconces

And there you one or maybe the most popular walks to do in Bordeaux, the Quinconces square and the Girondins monument has become a symbol for the city and we love it! Hope you do too

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

Tags: ,
February 21, 2020

Bordeaux, a clock and a gate!

Well how about that I have written several posts on the wines of the region of Bordeaux but not much on its monuments! sacre bleu!!! This is one of my favorite cities in my belle France and candidate for my retirement years!!! We have spent several family trips here over the years.

The whole huge area around Bordeaux is connected by a beltway road, the “rocade” or the A630 that takes you into the city or out into the other areas and into Spain. My best is to go into the Médoc, the famous area of wines but it has a lot more. From the rocade you  take exit 4 to go into central Bordeaux or exit /sortie in French to no 7 that takes you into the side D1/D2 of wine country along the Garonne river, the other exit/sortie no 8 takes you into the beaches and central area of Medoc.

Its time for me to correct the unnaming and tell you about some of the monuments of the city of Bordeaux. Bordeaux is in the Gironde dept 33 of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France and I like to tell you a bit on the Grosse Cloche and the Porte Dijeaux.

The Grosse Cloche or big bell of Bordeaux is the belfry of the old city/town hall. It is one of the rare civil monuments that the city preserves from the Middle Ages. It was restored in 2016. It is located at the end of rue Saint James, at the foot of Saint Eloi Church facing rue du Mirail and slightly back from Cours Victor Hugo.

It was built in the 15C on the remains of the old Saint-Éloy Gate ,also called Saint James gate of the 13C attached to the Saint-Éloi Church of the 12C, open on the rampart of the 13C and under which the pilgrims of Saint James passed on their way to Compostela.


It is made up of two circular towers 40 meters high connected by a central building and dominated by the golden leopard. The large bell is surmounted by a weather vane with an animal which we are often told is the golden leopard symbol of Guyenne. More likely, this leopard would in fact be the one inherited from the kings of England during the English domination of Bordeaux.  All the successive modifications made between the 15C and the 17C will transform the primitive physiognomy of this gate which has become a belfry, the bell tower of the city having been added to it since the 15C.. The city magistrates rang the bell to give the signal for the harvest and alert the population in the event of a fire. This is the reason why it has always been the symbol of the city and still appears on the city’s coat of arms today. The current bell was made in June 1775 and weighs 7,800 kg for two meters in height and diameter!

It rang the commemoration of the victory of May 8, 1945, since then,   due to its weight and the risk of cracks that could cause the vibrations of the bell, it rang only a few times when it was put back in place in the bell tower, following its restoration and during General de Gaulle’s visit to the city on April 10, 1961. Until June 2016, it rang every year five times a year. Since then, it also rings every first Sunday of the month.  The clock built in 1759 replaced that of 1567. Above it is a sundial.

The tourist office of BordeauxTourist office of Bordeaux on the Grosse Cloche

The Porte Dijeaux gate is a gateway to the city of Bordeaux. The Porte Dijeaux is located at the western end of the decumanus formed by the alignment of rue Porte Dijaux and rue Saint-Rémi. It leads to Place Gambetta slightly behind Place Gambetta at the end of Rue Bouffard. On the other side it is at the intersection of the street that bears its name and the rue des Remparts. It can also be reached from the Cours de l’Intendance by taking rue Bouffard. It is also visible to walkers coming from rue Sainte Catherine from the corner of the Galerie Bordelaise. Rue Porte Dijeaux is an important shopping street in Bordeaux. In terms of attendance, it comes second behind rue Sainte Catherine. It is also a pedestrian street.


Porte Dijeaux is also known as Porte Dauphine under king Louis XIV. The origin of the name would be related to the temple of Jupiter which stood at this location in Gallo-Roman times. The Porte Dijeaux was an entrance to the west of the city of Bordeaux from Roman times and the first line of fortification. Outside, a half-moon merlon, 8 to 10 meters high, served as a redoubt. On the other side the triangle is occupied by the Royal symbols, crown and fleur-de-lis, but also two wings, a helmet and a fish. Under the triangle an animal head overhangs the number 1748 which corresponds to the date of its construction. This last gate was replaced by the current monument, built between 1748 and 1753, and it remains today isolated and deprived of its pedestrian lateral counters.

City of Bordeaux: City of Bordeaux story on the Porte Dijeaux

There is some information on the city of Bordeaux page but more from my books, unfortunately its the only gate I can find a picture so here it is but Bordeaux has several others just as nice. Hope you enjoy the post and do come walk the streets of Bordeaux they are loaded with gorgeous monuments with great architecture and history I Like

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





Tags: ,
February 21, 2020

Bordeaux and its Hôtel de Ville!

Well how about that I have written several posts on the wines of the region of Bordeaux but not much on its monuments! sacre bleu!!! This is one of my favorite cities in my belle France and candidate for my retirement years!!! We have spent several family trips here over the years.

The whole huge area around Bordeaux is connected by a beltway road, the “rocade” or the A630 that takes you into the city or out into the other areas and into Spain. My best is to go into the Médoc, the famous area of wines but it has a lot more. From the rocade you  take exit 4 to go into central Bordeaux or exit /sortie in French to no 7 that takes you into the side D1/D2 of wine country along the Garonne river, the other exit/sortie no 8 takes you into the beaches and central area of Medoc.

Its time for me to correct the unnaming and tell you about some of the monuments of the city of Bordeaux. Bordeaux is in the Gironde dept 33 of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France and I like to tell you a bit on the Hotel de Ville.


It was the Hotel of the Archdiocese until the French revolution, hotel of the department then seat of the revolutionary tribunal in 1791, hotel of the prefecture in 1802, imperial palace of Napoleon I in 1808 and Royal castle in 1815 under king Louis XVIII, the Rohan palace becomes the Hôtel de Ville in 1835.  This was done following an exchange with the French Republic, the former archbishopric, called Palais Rohan, from the name of the prelate who had it built in the last quarter of the 18C: Ferdinand Maximilien Mériadeck, prince of Rohan Guémené.

The Hôtel de Ville is made in a monumental, sober, balanced neoclassical style. The palace has a portico of Ionic order, which precedes the main courtyard at the end of which is the harmonious facade with the pediment. The Rohan palace is made up of a large main building flanked by two low, angled wings that connect it to a colonnade. The square courtyard thus delimited is closed by an arcaded portico open on the street side, in the center of which opens a monumental portal. The exactly similar posterior facade is extended by two low pavilions with balusters, the windows of which are topped with garlands.

Inside, lounges with Louis XVI-style paneling in linden woodwork are decorated with plant motifs. The Archbishop’s dining room offers trompe-l’oeil decor in the Pompeii style. It was decorated in 1783-84 by the painter Giovanni Antonio Berinzago. It is said that it was in this room that the young Eugène Delacroix, then the prefect’s son, looking at the paintings by Berinzago in 1802 restored by Pierre Lacour, discovered his vocation.

Another decor in the style of the antique Renaissance clearly reflects the refinement of Bordeaux interiors of this period. The monumental staircase of honor located on the ground floor of the main building is considered one of the masterpieces of French stereotomy.  The municipal council hall was built in 1889. It is characteristic of the official architecture of the Third Republic. Finally, the building has been surrounded by beautiful English gardens since 1882. On each side of the rear garden are two wings which were built in 1880 to house the Museum of Fine Arts. This garden contains several remarkable works of art, including The Apostle by Raoul Larche.

The prefect , Charles Delacroix, “official father” of the famous painter Eugène Delacroix died there and, in 1808, Emperor Napoleon I settled there. As a result, the old archiepiscopal hotel was built as an Imperial Palace, the prefecture being transferred to the old Hôtel Saige. The Duchess of Angoulême resided there for four months in 1823 and, in 1828, it was the Duchess of Berry who hosted it when she inaugurated the new Saint-André hospital and laid the foundation stone for the rostral columns. In 1839, the new mayor David Johnston receives the eldest son of King Louis-Philippe I, Ferdinand-Philippe, Duke of Orleans who, in the company of his wife, inaugurates the foundation stone of the Bordeaux railway station at La Teste.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Bordeaux on the Hotel de Ville

Tourist office of Bordeaux on the Hotel de Ville

And there you go another wonderful monument in beautiful Bordeaux city. The Hôtel de Ville or city/town hall or the Rohan Palace is a must to visit !!!

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


Tags: ,
February 20, 2020

Bordeaux and Saint André!

Well how about that I have written several posts on the wines of the region of Bordeaux but not much on its monuments! sacre bleu!!! This is one of my favorite cities in my belle France and candidate for my retirement years!!! We have spent several family trips here over the years.

The whole huge area around Bordeaux is connected by a beltway road, the “rocade” or the A630 that takes you into the city or out into the other areas and into Spain. My best is to go into the Médoc, the famous area of wines but it has a lot more. From the rocade you  take exit 4 to go into central Bordeaux or exit /sortie in French to no 7 that takes you into the side D1/D2 of wine country along the Garonne river, the other exit/sortie no 8 takes you into the beaches and central area of Medoc.

Its time for me to correct the unnaming and tell you about some of the monuments of the city of Bordeaux. Bordeaux is in the Gironde dept 33 of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France and I like to tell you a bit on the Cathedral of Saint André!

The Primate Cathedral of Saint-André , built in the 12-13C and located on Place Pey-Berland, is the most imposing place of worship in Bordeaux. It is the cathedral church of the Archdiocese of Bordeaux. It was consecrated on May 1, 1096 by Pope Urban II, on tour to preach the First Crusade. It was rebuilt in the Gothic style from the 12C to the 16C. In this church were celebrated some royal marriages, in 1137, the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine, then aged fifteen, with the future Louis VII, king of the Franks and in November 1615 the marriage of Anne of Austria, Infante of Spain and Louis XIII, king of France and Navarre. In 1305: Bertrand de Got ,Archbishop of Bordeaux solemnly reads the decree of his election as Pope and takes the name of Clement V. In 1367: Born in Bordeaux, Richard, son of the Black Prince and future king of England under the name of Richard II, was baptized here. In 1650: Cardinal Mazarin accompanied his godson Louis XIV and the Queen Mother Anne of Austria to this cathedral. In 1808: on a visit to Bordeaux, Napoleon I noted the damage suffered by the cathedral during the French revolution. He orders its restoration. On June 12, 1992: Queen Elizabeth II of England and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, are welcomed by Bishop Eyt, Archbishop of Bordeaux, and Jacques Chaban-Delmas, mayor of the city.

The tourist office of Bordeaux in English: Tourist office of Bordeaux on the Cathedral St André


The Pey Berland tower, named after Archbishop Pey Berland, is the separate bell tower of Saint-André Cathedral, located on Place Pey-Berland. Its construction spread from 1440 to 1500 on the initiative of the Archbishop of the same name. Crowned by a bell tower, it has always remained isolated from the rest of the Cathedral. Superbly carved, it was sold as national property during the French revolution and transformed into a shotgun factory and a fodder store. The tower becomes a religious building by decree of June 29, 1851.

You have to climb two hundred and thirty three steps in a narrow spiral staircase to reach the terrace located at the top of the tower and which has the shape of a gallery around the spire. It is about fifty meters from the ground. The base of the statue is 60 meters, and the height of the latter is 6 meters. And you have great views of the city of Bordeaux !!!

Tourist office of BordeauxTourist office of Bordeaux on the tour Pey Berland in English

Special webpage on the Tour Pey Berland: Tour Pey Berland in English

And there you go another wonderful monument of the city of Bordeaux that is a must to visit. The Cathedral of Saint André and the tour Pey Berland are wonderful indeed full of history and awesome architecture. Hope you enjoy it as we do.

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



Tags: ,
%d bloggers like this: