Posts tagged ‘Food and Wine’

May 23, 2020

Champagne history,and its kingdoms of Reims/Epernay!

And here I am back in the East; a wonderful region and hoping it rebounds from the virus. I have been here a lot, and family ties of old; however, even if several posts on it,feels never enough credit to the Grand Est or Champagne-Ardennes or the Marne! time to remedy that me think. Hope you enjoy the tour.

Let me tell you a bit more on Reims and Epernay, champagne country!!!!

Well this time let me update a previous old post from 2011 in my blog. One of my favorite cities, region,and one of the first cities that I visit in France way back in 1990. It has become a fixture ever since with many family trips and even weekend getaways. It is a tender family story as my dear late wife Martine used to work picking grapes here to save for schooling together with her other sisters and brothers who followed. There is lot to tell here so I just cover the basics, much reading and questions to fulfill a good trip here, and you can ask me for details bien sûr.

First Reims, was the city of the kingdom of France, king Clovis of the Francs chose it to have his coronation there as the story goes whether leyend or not, he was to fight a big battle with the king Lothar of the Allemani both names Romanised as present day Germany. Clovis was married to Clothilde a Wisigoth from down under southern France,northern Spain,and she was Christian he was pagan. He asked her if her God was strong, and she said yes, he asked her to teach him how to pray to her God, and if he came out victorious ,he will make his new kingdom Christian and he will be converted to it. She did, and he won the battle. Therefore, the kingdom of the Francs became Christian, and he was baptised at Reims . Ever after, most of the kings of France have been crowned there, and all did barring one or two. And the leyend continues…My sons are name after the Christmas day of the coronation, and the emissary from the Pope who was there,and the bishop who baptised. It has become our history too.

Reims as it is Epernay is the Department of the Marne (as per the river) No 51 in the region now of Grand Est old Champagne-Ardenne; and the Marne dept, east of Paris. You reach them on the A4 autoroute very easy on exit/sorties 23 Cathedral and 24 St Remi. You can ,also, go on the D3 (old N3)  national road from porte de Pantin in Paris passing by Meaux on your way to Epernay and then the D951 (old N51 ) to Reims. If coming from UK the A26 from Calais takes you here too. Parking is very easy as I had parked on the street leading to the Cathedral ,rue Liebergier. On Epernay I have parked by the train station, of course plenty more parking spaces. And there are many wonderful little towns all over the area like Hautevilliers,Avizé, Ay,Chalôns en Champagne  etc etc etc.!

By train you have four stations, all served by the TER regional network of trains, these stations are Gare de Reims, principal station. Gare de Reims-Maison Blanche near the hospital or Centre Hospitalier. The new Gare de Reims-Franchet d’Esperey that has a connection with the tramway The Gare de Champagne-Ardenne TGV and TER trains too.  You leave Paris by the Gare de l’Est for the best connections. For the bus and tram at Reims the network is Citura , the official webpage: Citura bus tram network of Reims

Although I have never taken trains or buses here, walking once in town by car is the best way to see the city. You can use the same train TER site for the Gare d’Epernay and come from Paris Gare de l’Est. The webpages for the train station in French to follow:

Gare de Reims:

Gare de Reims-Maison Blanche:

Gare de Reims-Franchet d’Esperey :

Gare Champagne Ardennes TGV:

Gare d’Epernay:

There is much to see, but my favorites are the Cathedrale de Notre Dame,Basilique Saint Remi, (see posts) Porte de Mars, Place Royale, Palais de Tau (see post) , musée de l’Automobile, musée des Beaux-Arts, and of course the Champagne houses as many as you can ::) In Epernay, you can continue your view of the Champagne houses especially along the Avenue de Champagne. Both cities suffered greatly during WWI and WWII with Epernay been destroyed 2/3 of it in WWI. Both were rapidly reconstructed and show lots of vitality and good life, especially maybe Epernay as it is a smaller town and my favorite of the two from a local point of view.

I am sure like me you will inquire about the Champagne houses, this is a must in either city. My favorites houses will be given away here, and they are not necessarily the famous names, my bottles are from Champagne G H Martel,17 rue de Créneaux, Reims; Champagne Leclerc-Briant,67 rue Claude Ruelle, Epernay,.Champagne de Castellane, 57 rue de Verdun, Epernay, Champagne Mercier, 68-70 avenue de Champagne , Epernay (my first ever taste of Champagne! and still a family staple! Now part of Moêt & Chandon ) Champagne Moet & Chandon, 20 avenue de Champagne, Epernay, Champagne G. H. Mumm, 34 rue des Champs de Mars,Reims ; champagne Ruinart, (claim to be the oldest champagne house) 4 rue de Crayéres, Reims, Champagne Taittinger, 9 place Saint Nicaise, Reims, Champagne Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin, 1 place des Droits de l’Homme, Reims,. Champagne Vranken-Pommery, 5 place du Général Gouraud, Reims, and one not on these cities but that I buy a lot  is Champagne Michel Gonet, 196 avenue Jean Jaurés, Avize; Have a bubbly day in the Marne!



The main things to see here in my opinion are: The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Reims was built over an initial church from 401 , the actual Cathedral we see today is from 1211-1275 .  She was renovated in 1488 and again after WWI where it was call the ‘martyr of all Cathedrals’. It is 149 meters long ( 472 ft) with the tour l’ange 87 meters high (287 ft). It is inmense and glorious inside, and the most beautiful from the front, one of  THE Cathedrals of France. The Basilique Saint Remi, keeps the grave of Saint Remi built around the year 1000 .A very renown evangelical priest bishop Saint Remi lived to 96 yrs old,and was He who baptised Clovis king of the Francs in between 496-506 at the previous church in the spot.  It is 122 meters long (403 ft). There is a museum , musée-abbaye Saint Remi next to the Basilique with gallo romans collection of mosaiques,and stones as well as local archeological finds.Talking about museums the Musée des Beaux-Arts occupying the old building of the abbey of Saint Denis has a nice collection of portraits by Cranach l’Ancien and country scenes by Corot, flemish, Dutch,and French school of paintings. It belongs to the city of   Reims. You will love to see the Chapelle Foujita, 33 rue du Champ de Mars,a chapel in romance style dedicated to the Virgin Mary, wonderful! You have the Musée ‘Automobile Reims-Champagne,84 avenue George Clemenceau, almost 250 cars and motocycles from 1908 to present day, a marvelous place for the car lover in all of us ::) . Musée de la Reddition or capitulation museum, where the end of WWII was signed on May 7 1945 at 2:41AM in one hall that has been left intact. Great historical place, at 12 rue Franklin Roosevelt.   The Palais du Tau,  is the former Archbishop palace and on the UNESCO heritage site too. All the sculptures removed from the Cathedral are here, and a great stone display of old historical figures including Charlemagne talisman amongst others.


You can make a nice promenade walk tour of Reims and visit these wonderful architecture buildings  like the  Hôtel des comtes de Champagne 14C owned by Taittinger, rue de Tambour. Hôtel Ponsardin, townhouse before French revolution now trade chamber at rue cérés, Hôtel Saint Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, 16C, place of birth of Saint Jean Baptiste de la Salle ,founder of the Brothers of Christian Schools, Rue Docteur Jacquin, Grand Théatre built in 1873 Place Myron Herrick, Parc de la Patte d’Oie, city center park going back to the 17C, boulevard du Général Leclerc. Pavillon de Muire, built 1565, owned by Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin, Rue du Temple. Place Drouet d’Erlon, the “Champs Elysées” of Reims, and the Church Saint Jacques, oldest in Reims after St Remi medieval period, Rue Marx-Dormoy.



While in Epernay, you need to walk the Avenue de Champagne with many 19C houses from renaissance to classical styles.  The Orangerie, gardens part of the estate of the house of Moêt & Chandon, its not open for visitors but you can see it from avenue de Champagne. The Porte Saint Martin, one of the oldest monument here remains of the old church of Notre Dame, at Place Hugues Plomb. Visit the Church of Notre Dame, 16C but built in 12C architecture with great decorations from the 15C and 16C, at Place Méndes France.

On your way to Epernay on the D3 old N3 from porte de Pantin in Paris, and passing by my dear memorable town of Meaux, you passed by the town of Dormans here at the parc du chateau there is a monument call Memorial to the battle of the Marne is in French but a chilling account with each body of the events played here in WWI or the Great War, all the front around my wife native town of just north of Meaux to Dormans. The monument tomb was built in 1921, and it has a crypt, chapel,and special stained glass windows, a cloister leading to the ossuary containing the remains of 1500 unknown soldiers.Go up a stairway of about 100 Steps and you will have a great view over the valley of the Marne and crosses.

For goodies shopping for local items, I will recommend the chocolates of Deléans, 20 rue Cérés, Reims chocolates with pink biscuits, try the pêchè du diable or devils sin!!; the biscuits Fossier, 25 cours Jean-Baptiste Langlet;  near the Reims Cathedral , and ,also at Epernay, this is a genuine local product not to missed the cookies yummy!  Chocolates with Champagne taste, well head for La Petite Friande at 15 cours Jean Baptiste Langlet, try the bouchon marc de champagne or the cork with champagne liquor ,and of course the macarons. For something more kitchen use, and a local brand try the mustards and vinager and mustard Clovis done in Reims by Charbonneaux Brabant at 5 rue de Valmy. While in Epernay just dont missed out on the chocolates of Vincent Dallet Maison Dallet, 26 rue du Général Leclerc; also at Reims. He can even teach you how to do them !

For lodging/eating  we have stayed at the beautiful gastronomic and wonderful Les Berceaux in Epernay, just sublime and romantic, as well as exquisite French food done right with a Champagne twist, you wont go wrong here,tops. For drinks and a local chat head for the Bar des Archers, 7 rue des Archers in Epernay ; pool available and wifi free for guests. near ave de Champagne and ave Eugéne Mercier.


In Reims we have stayed at the Mercure Reims Centre, Cathedrale, close to all ,and one of my favorite chains in France. Our eating places over the years have been many but the best were Le Colibri,12 rue Chanzy but unfortunately it has closed just for memories posted! It was almost in front of the Cathedral, great service, very friendly with kids, and the food was always good, piano at evenings. Restaurant Cafe de la Paix, 25 Place Drouet d’Erlon heavens on the Erlon! menus change with the season all the best from the region .For history of Reims and great food try Brasserie Boulingrin, 31 rue de Mars. For drinks old chats people watching on the Erlon,the Champs Elysées of Reims here visited Ernest Hemingway.

There is so much to see in the area, so the tourist offices will help and if you need specifics let me know.

For Reims: Tourist office of Reims

For EpernayTourist office of Epernay

You can always get some info from the city of Reims has it in French at: City of Reims and its heritage

And for the city of Epernay in French here: City of Epernay on its heritage

The tourist office for the Grand Est region still not fully developed so here is the Champagne-Ardenne tourist webpage in English at: tourist office Champagne Ardennes on Champagne

And voilà a wonderful spot in my belle France for all to enjoy; class and tradition the best combination. Hope you enjoy this tour of the fabolous city of Reims and the quaint picturesque city of Epernay. Both always in our house.

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

May 1, 2020

A Cloister and a Covered Market, Albi!!

In continuing my road warrior rides in my belle France, I could not avoid Albi. This is a must city and not really seen well by visitors, sort of like an off the beaten path spot. I like to combine two separate and unique spots in Albi on this post. There is a nice Romanesque arches from the old Cloister of the Cathedral Ste Cecile and the covered market and al. that are a vibrant reminder of daily life in all towns of France.

Every Saturday, from the first hours, producers and traders set up shop in the city’s various food markets by the Place Fernand Pelloutier, Boulevard de Strasbourg, around the covered market and Place de la Pile to welcome customers from 7h to 13h. The range of food products is very rich: bread, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, spices, honey, cheeses, wines ..etc.

The city of Albi on the markets in French: City of Albi on markets

The layout plan adopted for the covered market or halles was a triangular hall, of the Baltard pavilion type (like Paris), combining the metal uprights with brick walls and louvers intended to be assembled like a giant construction game. The Albi covered market was inaugurated in 1905. In 2007, the covered market hall opened its doors to the public after three years of impressive renovation work. The hall structure was thus raised, allowing the creation of a 255-space car parking on three levels and an elevator.


Official halles or covered market of Albi in French: The Covered market of Albi

The tourist office of Albi on the covered market in English: Tourist office of Albi on covered market

And a wonderful spot seldom visited because it is all the back of the Ste Cécile Cathedral are the remnants of the old Cloister of the Cathedral. Nice architecture  I like. I have a post on the Cathedral so will be very brief here.


The current Ste Cécile Cathedral of Albi is preceded by several churches. The first dates from the 4C and was destroyed in 666 or 667 by a fire. A second appears in the texts in 920 under the name of Sainte Cécile, the patron saint of musicians. At that time, an episcopal ensemble includes the cathedral, but also a baptistery and a chapel dedicated to Saint-Pierre. Some arches of the old Romanesque cloister remain from this period, several times displaced after having remained in the Rochegude park for a long time and placed in the 2010s between the Cathedral and the Castelviel district. Other elements of Romanesque architecture are located between the current buildings of the cathedral and the Berbie palace, not visible from public places.


The tourist office of Albi on its historical center monuments in English: Tourist office of Albi on historical city center

And of course, I have written about Albi and the Albigeois or Cathars heck my wife’s side of the family are from the region! We love going there and of course the wines are good too especially Gaillac’s. Hope you enjoy the post on the markets and the old cloister of the Cathedral! in Albi architecture and history blends very nicely.

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

April 30, 2020

Kirchberg, Luxembourg city!

Well let me get out of my belle France for a while. This is one of my favorite countries and have the luck of visited several times with the family. I  ,of course, have several posts on it for the city and the country of Luxembourg. However, looking thru my vault cameup with some nostalgic photos of wonderful family trips needed to have in my blog.

Therefore, this was our experience in Kirchberg, Luxembourg city! Another one of our favorites ,the Kirchberg district, not just because for me there is many European institutions there but with the family we enjoy the wonderful Auchan shopping center and the cinema Utopolis.

Kirchberg is one of the 24 districts of Luxembourg city. Made up of a plateau located in the northeast part of the city, it is today the heart of the international banking and financial center that the country constitutes. It is linked to the city center by the Grande-Duchesse Charlotte bridge aka the pont rouge or red bridge because of the color of the anti-rust that has covered the bridge since its construction which spans the valley of the Alzette river.

In the 1960s, the Kirchberg plateau first hosted the buildings of the European institutions located in Luxembourg: Court of Justice of the European Union, European Court of Auditors, Secretariat of the European Parliament, European Investment Bank (EIB) ), European School, Eurostat, etc. Today it has become a residential, cultural district with the Philharmonic Hall as well as the Museum of Modern Art Grand Duke Jean – aka Mudam, but also and above all institutional and business with European institutions, banks, financial institutions and insurance are numerous.


The Kirchberg is also a leisure district. Multisport halls and an Olympic swimming pool all grouped under the name of La Coque make this sports complex the largest and most important in the country. Utopolis now call Kinepolis) is a multiplex composed of 10 rooms and was the first multiplex in Europe to have equipped all of its screens with the standards of digital projection.

The official La Coque complex in English: LA Coque sports complex

The Utopolis/Kinepolis cinema complex here: Kinepolis Kirchberg


One of the Auchan group’s shopping centers, located in the heart of the district, is one of the largest in the country. And the stand alone Auchan hypermarket was our regular stop while there even for clothing of jeans! It is very nice inside a nice building shopping mall with plenty of other stores and restaurants ,about 66.

The Auchan Kirchberg store here: Auchan at Kirchberg

The Auchan Shopping Center stores here: Kirchberg shopping center


The Kirchberg district is located a stone’s throw from Luxembourg-Findel airport. And from the airport to the city center we have taken bus 16!! Nice ride lol! The bus line 16 is here: VDL bus tram network on bus line 16

The district is mainly served by the tramway linking Luxexpo to its opening and the Grand Duchess Charlotte bridge via avenue John F. Kennedy; the tram is linked to Pfaffenthal-Kirchberg station located on line 1 by the funicular. In addition, numerous AVL and RGTR bus lines connect the district to Ville-Haute (upper town) and neighboring villages. The tramway line here: Luxtram on tramway line 1

From the city center Hamilius quai 1 bus depot we have taken bus line 1 to Kirchberg right by the Auchan shopping center! Nice ride lol! See we do take public transports too even in Europe! The bus line 1 here: VDL transport bus line 1

More from Luxembourg city tourist office on the things to do /see at Kirchberg in English here: Tourist office of Luxembourg city on things to see do at Kirchberg

More from the tourist office of Luxembourg on things to see /do at Kirchberg in English here: Tourist office of Luxembourg on things to see do at Kirchberg

And there you something different more personal a nice trip as always to Luxembourg city and already looking forward to be back soon. Hope you enjoy the post and the many wonderful family things to do and see at Luxembourg.

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

April 29, 2020

Marché couvert or Halles de Pau!

Well another marvel not written enough on it and deserves more as we usually park by here on our trips there !! And yes even France modernize as these are not old covered market halls but rather very modern indeed. let me tell you a bit more on the covered market or Marché couvert or Halles de Pau.

The Halles de Pau (as more locally known )are located on a triangle taking the Place de la République, Rue Docteur Siman and Rue de la République and has about 38 merchants.


You get there on local Bus stops Halles Médiathèques, Halles Planté, Halles République . The nice underground car park at Halles République: open from 6h to 21h. Monday to Friday. From 5h to 21h. on Saturday. 9h to 15h Sunday.

The are spread out and hours as such: stall halls: open from Tuesday to Saturday from 7h to 13h. or 15h depending on the merchants – Halls open on Sunday from 9h to 13h or 15h. depending on the merchants – Halls closed every Monday . The night times or Nocturne des Halles every last Friday from from 17h to 23h. Producers’ tile: open from 6h to 13h Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.


The Halles de Pau were founded in 1975 . Today, since Summer 2019 (the new one not been yet) , traders have been spread over 2 floors: on the ground floor, merchants from all four seasons, pork butchers, fishmongers, bakeries-pastries, etc. Upstairs, a tasting and catering area with poultry, foie gras, oysters, delicatessen, Breton pancakes, cheeses, etc. The halles ,for the first time in their history, are open on Sundays until 15h.


We browsed and shopped at the Les Caves Fromagéres Béarnaises cheese cellars here since 1975. For three generations the creamery of Ossau / The cheese cellars has specialized in cheeses and dairy products. You can choose from some 250 cheeses from France, Spain, Italy and Great Britain.

The official webpage for the Halles de Pau in French: Halles de Pau or covered market

City of Pau on the Halles a bit more info in French: City of Pau on the Halles or covered market

This is a wonderful area to walk away from the more known monument into the real living of the local Paulois and we recommend you try it, see more enjoy more of your visit to my belle France. Enjoy the Halles de Pau as we did.

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

April 27, 2020

Place Floquet at St Jean Pied de Port!

Well the title says Place Floquet but it could easily be the off the beaten path of  Saint Jean de Pied in the Basque country of France. This is a memorable spot where we have followed a local store even when they are visiting my now Morbihan breton for the gastronomic fairs. I have several posts on Saint Jean Pied de  Port but would like to tell you a bit about a spot in town.

We visited the town and saw the monuments as written in previous posts. However, there is one spot very dear to us and this is the reason of this post. Let me tell you a bit on the Place Floquet and al.

The square Floquet is name after  Charles Floquet, born at No. 33 rue de la Citadelle (1828-1896), a Republican lawyer who was a minister under the Third Republic. Here you now have a wonderful upper park which is part of the square and same name.

Saint Jean Pied de Port

There are many nice shops around here many of which we have patronized on our trips to Saint Jean Pied de Port such as

At 16 Place Floquet , the quaint nice  Hotel des  Remparts, very picturesque and should be a nice stayed here, not tried as we come usually from Toulouse or Pau for the day.  There is also, the Hôtel-Restaurant Etche Ona, at 15 place Floquet.

To eat, snack, apéro à la Française we came to the popular  Café Ttipia 2, place Floquet, that locals call Chez Peio.  Iberian plates, homemade cold meats, long wooden tables inside, large screen for match days like in rugby, and a beautiful terrace under the foliage. At Peio  you lives the countryside.

For a more refine cuisine come to the wonderful Restaurant Café de la Paix, traditional and typical basque cuisine, in the heart of the city at 4 Place Floquet. For eat out , take home the wonderful cold cuts of the Basques at La Ferme Elizaldia with homemade cold meats and regularly awarded Bayonne ham at 14 place Floquet .

For the shopper inclined this is heavens as well, with the wonderful linens and ready to wear at Galeries de Garazi, 7 place Floquet and Miss Tinguette at 5 place Floquet.

The Place Floquet is a popular bus station in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port served by ALSA and BlaBlaCar stop at 18 Place Floquet. There is nice parking right here at place Floquet! free!!!

Saint Jean Pied de Port

Time for a bit more on the town of Saint Jean Pied de Port!

Saint Jean Pied de Port with its streets paved with pink sandstone from the flanks of the Arradoy; tall houses with Basque red half-timbering and engraved lintels; an impregnable citadel built by the precursors of Vauban, and La Nive which rolls its white water flush with the bridges in the direction of the Adour. 8 km from the Spanish border, you will understand at first glance why this modest capital of Lower Navarre the most visited town in this area.

It was baptized Donibane Garazi in Basque, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port was indeed founded at the end of the 12C in order to protect the passage of the river and the access to the passes of Roncevaux and Bentarte. This is why Charles II of Navarre purposely called it “the key to my kingdom”. Judiciously placed equidistant from Puy-en-Velay and Santiago de Compostela at about 800 km, it is, in all seasons, the obligatory crossing point for pilgrims of Saint-James (Santiago), who very often end the first section of their path there, or else their journey to Spain begins there. The welcome house is at , 39 rue de la Citadelle and the boutique des Pelerins is at 32 rue de la  Citadelle.

And our fav store here which we always stop by and follow them on fairs around France especially right in Vannes, Morbihan our capital city and by now good customers and friend of the house.  The Maison Gastellou! with the best shop at 9 rue d’Espagne short straight walk to Place Floquet where we sat in the park above Place Floquet to have our lunch with a view of the city! Here you come for the Bayonne ham, Roncal brebis(ewe) (goat) cheese, basque sangria with piment espelettes,and delicious cherry and apple gateau basque or basque cakes!!

Peasants, farmers, breeders for several generations at the Poutzia farm located in Saint-Jean-le-Vieux,(where there is now a very good market, and we loaded on Irouléguy wines and Ossau-Iraty goat cheese)  the Gastellou family raises, prepares, cooks and conditions all of its production according to the rules of the art, while respecting tradition. You have to see the context in which calves, cows and other pigs evolve (visit by appointment)! Twenty hectares of forests, far from industrial farming chains. We find in the butcher’s shop rue d’Espagne, the company’s parent company, the Gastellou spirit. Aquitaine blonde, Bayonne and Garazi dry hams, Basque sausages, chorizos, ventrèches, rillettes, pâtés and Basque sausages but also many dishes cooked in jars, without forgetting the essential Ossau-Iraty cheeses from local producers. Finally, and from a recipe kept jealously secret, Basque cakes with cream and whole cherries, simply exceptional, homemade in line with the products mentioned above. It’s 4 shops and an online site that offer all the products.

Their official webpage is here: Maison Gastellou

Saint Jean Pied de Port

Saint Jean Pied de Port

Saint Jean Pied de Port

You get here by car best of course. The different options are given officially here. From Bordeaux via the A 63 highway/motorway: Exit Bayonne then 50 km via Bayonne, Cambo les Bains on the D 932 road. From Toulouse via the A 64 highway/motorway: Exit Orthez / Salies de Béarn then 60 km via Orthez, Salies de Béarn and Saint-Palais via de D 933 road. From Pau via A 64 and D 933: via Orthez and Saint-Palais. From Bayonne by D 932 and from Pamplona in Spain by the C135 and D933: via Roncevaux and Arnéguy.

The train station for the TGV is at Bayonne rain station ,the TGV from Paris, Talgo to Madrid, and the Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port SNCF station:at Avenue Renaud. Closest airport but never come this way so need to inquire as to how to get to SJPP, Bayonne-Anglet-Biarritz International Airport: Pau-Pyrénées International Airport; San Sebastian International Airport: Spain, Bilbao International Airport Spain: all in Basque country.

For the anecdote I have come here from Pau and Lacanau-Océan. From Pau we came by Gan on the N134 then Oloron Sainte Marie here we took the D919 to pass by Aramits , yes the town of the muskeeteer! we took the D26 to go further up into the mountains to Larrau and after the D19 then D18 to Saint Jean Le Vieux and hook up with the D933 to Saint Jean Pied de Port! All along the Pyrénées very high mountain roads sometimes on second gear! a thrill see my post on the roads here.

From Lacanau-Océan in the Médoc of Bordeaux we took the D5 to hook up with the autoroute A63 aka Route des Estuaires and around Bayonne we took the D932 direction Cambo les Bains and then Saint Jean Pied de Port! Hope it helps

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

City of St Jean Pied de Port on heritage in French: City of St Jean Pied de Port

Tourist office of St Jean Pied de Port: Tourist office of Saint Jean Pied de Port

The Xacobeo French camino to Santiago de Compostela in French: Xacobeo camino de Santiago from St Jean Pied de Port

And Saint Jean Pied de Port is one of the most beautiful villages of FranceLes Plus Beaux Villages de France on St Jean Pied de Port

There you go a wonderful town to visit and most often due to the camino to Santiago but it needs to be seen other ways like we did up close and personal for a wonderful memorable experience for all; see Saint Jean Pied de Port!

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

April 23, 2020

Ferme du Lapin Compote, Commeny!

Well this is a sad post, I do not recall writing about a closed business or monument but need to do this for family souvenirs and keep it in my blog. As I write about places to see, also about the food and drinks of my belle France.

Let me revive wonderful family times at the Ferme du Lapin Compote in Commeny, Val d’Oise dept 95 of the ïle de France region in my belle France.


Way back from my vault of memories while living in Versailles we of course were on the road warrior mode always. We love the bounties of our belle France and I love rabbits, sorry to eat them in all kinds of forms. One of them was the terrine style. Talking with collegues at work one of them mentioned this farm and well the rest was history.

We came every month to buy the fresh meat chickens and rabbits as well as the terrines, mustard from the Vexin park and other goodies. The town was Commeny , in the parc national regional du Vexin. We came to the Ferme du Lapin Compote right in the center of the village. There was even a ride from the farm in horse wagon in town back to get your purchases and off we went very happy.


It was with great sadness that after leaving for the Morbihan in Bretagne I learned the farm , store had closed! I found out because coming on a trip in the area was thinking of stopping by to provision but got the sad news.

The Ferme du Lapin Compote was a family business, with elevage , raising the rabbits on site with its own laboratory for proper hygiene and a store for selling out to the public. The boutique of the same name sold not only what was made on site but produce from the Vexin national regional park. The owner and creator of the farm was Rémi Longé, and we met him each time there, a nice farmer. The boutique store also closed so he could not sell his products anymore! This was back in 2012 so we had left the area in 2011 but came back in 2012 , the business closed shortly thereafter!


The Ferme du Lapin Compote was there since 1997, reviving the recipe of the lapin compote, a rabbit, onion, white wine and pork belly dish. Little by little, he had developed a whole range of gastronomic products which delighted gourmets like me! His rabbit, but also poultry recipes were the first products stamped with the Vexin Regional Natural Park brand, a promotion label that is respected today.


They had really push the Vexin park to all in the area one major point to come here. The last owners of the Lapin Compote store, Raphaël Palomas and his wife, were shut down only three months after taking over the business ! It turn out in losses from the 2nd month and when asked for help including the Vexin park all doors were closed The boutique was already closed when they came in left abruptly by the previous owners, and they tried to save it but no chance. It is since closed. Too bad!!


One of those nice businesses you patronized for years and feel sad that it closed. We will have the memories of family visits great produce with terrines 90% rabbit meat and just wonderful farm products even honey! I know that I am alone now but one lady will be sad to hear this too as we really enjoyed here; too bad did not mentioned earlier in my posts it really needed credit.

Anyway, it is in my blog. Hope you enjoy the story and do search for the best. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

April 18, 2020

Restaurant II, Trier!

So back to my fav Trier, our favorite city in Germany which we have been coming down since the early 1990’s. Plenty written on Trier in my blog , many posts and the city is worth a detour. However, other than the previous restaurant post which we have come back several times, there is another one that need to tell you about.

We were walking the old town area and hungry as usual, look for a place to eat. Trying to eat at other locations we stumbled upon Restaurant Fornelli. 

We came by the B51 road and park on the first parking available that was the Europahalle at the other end of the famous Porta Nigra. This is near the pedestrians street but still a bit away to see the real town.  This is a congress hall but has underground parking very nice ;webpage here: Tourist office Trier on parking see Europahalle


And we had our lunch at restaurant Fornelli at Jakobstr 34 city center Trier. The real thing witnh 17,90€ per person and pizzas from romana , piedmonte,lombardia, and spa Bolognese all with lots of cold beers trierer lowenbrau and paid bottle water panna. The prices were very fair, the waiters friendly; I have nothing to complain about.


The restaurant Fornelli has been in the historic main market in the heart of Trier since 1983! It It will spoil you in a cozy atmosphere with classic Italian cuisine, with crispy pizza, refined pasta variations, as well as with selected Italian specialties from all regions of Italy. The popular fish and meat specialties in particular will conjure up a piece of original, authentic Italian cuisine for you and the Mediterranean delicacies will enchant you!


Of course, the Hauptmarkt or central square is gorgeous with many fountains and statues of great architecture beauty not ready to try to explain it, you just need to come and see it. Here you can see the market of Trier, our favorite too; the city of Trier webpage on the market in German: City of Trier on the markets see Hauptmarkt


The official page of Restaurant Fornelli is here in German : Restaurant Fornelli at Trier

Trier is a nice experience each time in town, the official tourist office with plenty of info in English is here: Tourist office of Trier on things to see

Another pleasant trip to Trier and great mediterranean and Italian food to boot. Hope you enjoy it as we always do. And remember ,happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

April 18, 2020

The land of Sarre, Mettlach , Germany!

Here I am back in Germany, and even thus written on plenty there in my blog there is always something that needs a little bit of attention. I think the; town of Mettlach in the Sarre region is one of them. I will just touch base here on the wonderful lunch we had there which the family love for its simplicity, good food/great prices and a nice street view in an old quant town: Mettlach.

Well this was a nice surprise unintended. I was going to Sarrebrucken to see the Ford factory as my car is a Ford all my life. And while getting there met a nice city and a pretty town on the way;the town is Mettlach.  Going all the way on the road B51 from my base south to Mettlach was easy, passing many interesting towns and enjoying the car ride.


Mettlach is a nice town, with a history of Saint Luitwinius in a very nice Church.(see post) Great river cruising on the Sarre river up river and most of all the home of ceramics wonderland in Villeroy & Boch (see post),with its many outlet stores and also many others like Land’s End.

So it is really a shopper’s paradise with a nice river cruise and picking up some bargain the day trip to Mettlach should be great. However, for me, not my wife, the best was the simple nice lunch we had at Eis Cafe La Taormina at Freiherr-vom-Stein-Straße 32 (street). No webpage but a Facebook page in German: Facebook page of Eis Cafe La Taormina


We had a snack there at Eis cafe La Taormina, Sicilian folks and great beers with gelato, Italian ice cream just wonderful like been there,and on the main street just down from the Church on the main street to the river boat terminals and five minutes from the Villeroy & Boch abbey/outlet stores.


This is the tourist office of Mettlach in German: history of the town section. City of Mettlach and its heritage

Tourist office of Germany on the shopping in English: Tourist office of Germany on Mettlach’ shopping

And the regional Saarland tourist board on Mettlach in English: Saarland tourist office on Mettlach

And there you a nice ride into the hinterland of Germany not far from the French border and wonderful shopping for the wife and cold nice beer for me and great ice cream for the boys. A memorable summer vacation for the whole family, and i will look forward to be back. Hope you enjoy the tour and do visit Mettlach

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

April 16, 2020

A restaurant and bulls of San Clemente!

So coming back to one of my fav regions of my beloved Spain with many memorable family moments over the years. Of course, I have written many posts on the area and its towns but sometime I feel did it in a general way . I would like to give them life in a more detail post of some of the things to see we liked.

This is the case of the town of San Clemente, in the province of Cuenca, Autonomous Region of Castilla La Mancha, Kingdom of Spain. A memorable restaurant and the bullfighting arena. For reference, San Clemente is located in the south of the province of Cuenca, 110 kilometers from the capital city of Cuenca, and 80 from Albacete, on the banks of the Rus River and at the convergence of highways A-43 and AP-36(toll). Although we came on the N310 from Villanueva de la Jara.

San Clemente

The restaurant bar Cerveceria El Carmen is on the Plaza del Carmen a relatively off the beaten path town and restaurant. We were on our road warrior tour of the region and decided to take a look what was there and of course once in town felled hungry. We saw this quant resto right on the square with a nice statue of local workers in rather residential area. Looking for the real my Spain told the fam this is the place to stop and eat. It was and still is a memorable moment in our lives , the whole family enjoyed very much and cheers of beer glasses followed by a great local food in a very friendly family environment we love so much. This one is one for a lifetime with my dear late wife Martine and boys; already looking forward to travel again and pass by here again, recommended.

San Clemente

San Clemente

The Cerveceria El Carmen where we had our lunch for the day !  Plenty of tapas chorizos fritos, tortillas de patata, ham croquettes, etc and the nice cold beers just what the summer calls for it,and all under 9€ per person! Nice ::)

San Clemente

San Clemente

There is no webpage only mentioned in the San Clemente tourist office here:  Tourist office of San Clemente on restos bars and El Carmen

At the town, there were nice monuments many already mentioned in previous post on San Clemente but for the purist in me, the Plaza de Toros was nice.

San Clemente

The Plaza de Toros of San Clemente was built in 1908, and known as La Carmencita for emulating the bullfighting arena in Valencia in a small way. It was inaugurated on August 29, 1908. After a deep and complete restoration, it was reopened on April 23, 1995 in a poster formed by “El Litri”, “El Cordobes” and Adolfo de Reyes who fought cattle of Mariano Sanz Jiménez.

San Clemente

One more reason for celebration around traditional bullfighting of this town, which dates back centuries, with documentation that testifies to this bullfighting hobby as early as 1538. The plaza de Toros of San Clemente has walls of rammed earth with brick surrounds and stone plinth with a crowned crown of rammed earth and pointed arches in all gaps. The geometric decoration predominates, mainly the rhombus. Three pediments crown the main access.

San Clemente

The city of San Clemente with a virtual view of the Plaza de Toros: City of San Clemente virtual view of Plaza de Toros

Toursit office of San Clemente with civil monuments to see as the Plaza de Toros in Spanish: Tourist office of San Clemente on plaza de toros

City of San Clemente with a general view of what to see in Spanish: City of San Clemente on things to see

And there you go a one two punch visit to quant off the beaten path San Clemente; you read it here in my blog and recommended to all. One of the routes of Don Quijote as well; the eternal dreamer of Castilla La Mancha, this in Spanish here: Ruta de Quijote on San Clemente

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




April 16, 2020

The wines in confinement!!!

Well how do you cope with this confinement and the love of wines. Well , I like to know the winemaker and go to the property before I start buying their wines. Over the years I have come to be more picky choosy and narrow down my choices but always on site.

Now with this wuhan virus we got, yes I call that , there is little movement and no winery visits. So we are force to order online and luckily still have it delivered! This is what I did last week receiving my first lot of Bordeaux from Nicolas. I am still waiting from my supplier wineries in Amboise-Touraine, Pays Nantais, and Jurançon areas.

So what to order for drink now, and keep and the essentials I need to have in my cellar. Well , looking at various publications I follow here in my belle France , I have narrow it down to my favorite list. Here they are folks, I am sure you can order them from you neck of the wood, at least most of them.


Bottles ready to drink

DOURTHE No 1 2018; Bordeaux white. Pleasant sensation of freshness, liveliness on the palate.

CHÂTEAU FOURCAS-HOSTEN 2012 ; Listrac, red. A nice successful wine, tender, precise, ripe and velvety.

CHATEAU CASTERA 2015 ;Médoc cru bourgeois, red. Seductive, full-bodied, supple and fruity.

To still keep in the cellar are:

CHÂTEAU LA TOUR CARNET 2015; Haut-Médoc Grand Cru Classé, red. Ample, powerful, elegant, carried by firm tannins. Let it ripen for 20 years.

CHATEAU MEYNEY 2016 ;Saint-estèphe, red. Powerful, racy, precise, tannic, it will age at least 20 years.

CHÂTEAU MONBOUSQUET 2015 ; Saint-Emilion grand cru, red. Rich in fruit, crunchy, generous. Keep for fifteen years.

HAUTS DE SMITH 2015, Pessac-léognan, red. Second wine from Smith Haut Lafitte, suave, seductive, fruity.

CHATEAU SIRAN 2016 ; Margaux, red. Superb, round, delicious, intense, juicy, charming, harmonious.

CLOS LA GAFFELIÈRE 2016 ; Saint-Emilion grand cru, red. Fruity, dynamic, structured in its youth.

CHÂTEAU TALBOT 2010 , Saint-Julien Grand Cru Classé, red. Grand, fine, powerful, fresh, dense. Will keep for life.

CHÂTEAU LA LAGUNE 2016 ; Haut-Médoc cru Classé, red. Fresh, elegant, long palate, tight tannins. Guard: 15 years.


Bottles ready to drink

LOUIS JADOT Convent of the Jacobins 2017, red. Delicacy, lightness and fruity flavors of Pinot Noir.

To keep in the cellars

DOMAINE CHANSON Pernand-vergelesses premier cru Les Vergelesses 2015, red. Concentrated, fine but solid tannic structure. Keep: 10 years or more.

BOUCHARD PÈRE & FILS; Beaune-grèves premier cru Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus 2015, red. Exceptional distinction and aromatic finesse. Guard: 15 years.

The essentials

JOSEPH DROUHIN Saint-Véran 2018, white. Floral, fruity, cheerful, round, very fresh.

LOUIS LATOUR ; Chassagne-montrachet premier cru La Grande Montagne 2017, red. Of great finesse, full, crunchy.


Bottles ready to drink

TAITTINGER ; Prestige Rosé. Gluttony, freshness, generosity, abundance of red fruits. To keep in the cellar.

PHILIPPONNAT ; Royale Réserve, white. Width and power for this cuvée which will ripen in the cellar.

GOSSET Great Vintage 2012, white. Freshness, richness and complexity in unison for this champagne to keep.

POL ROGER; Brut Vintage 2012, white. Intensity, flexibility, balance and complexity for this vintage with excellent aging potential.

The essentials

DRAPPIER ; Brut Nature without sulfur, white. A great 100% pure, fine, ripe, delicate pinot noir.

CHARLES HEIDSIECK; Brut Réserve, white. Beautiful aromatic richness for this ample and precise wine.

DEUTZ; Brut Classic, white. Elegant, fresh, dense, lively, long and structured.

BOLLINGER; Special Cuvée, white. Racy, powerful, intense, of great depth.

BILLECART-SALMON ; Rosé Brut. Suave, airy, lively, elegant, fruity (wild strawberries, raspberries …).

RUINART ;White of whites. Very round, with citrus and mineral notes, a refreshing finish.

Afar from the world:

VEGA SICILIA; Valbuena 5 ° 2015, ribeira del duero rouge. This very great wine produced by a legendary Spanish house can wait until 2050.

ALMAVIVA 2016 Puento alto red. Complexity, charm, elegance, personality in this Chilean wine that will keep for 20 years. (House of Mouton Rothschild)


Bottles ready to drink

DOMAINES PAUL MAS Côté Mas 2018, IGP Pays d’Oc, white. Easy, full of charm, very aromatic.

GÉRARD BERTRAND ; Gray white 2019, IGP Pays d’Oc, rosé. No frills, fresh, fruity.

DOMAINE OTT; By Ott 2019, Côtes-de-Provence, rosé. Fresh, elegant, tense, thirsty and java.

MIRAVAL 2019 ; Côtes de Provence, rosé. A fruity, light, refreshing wine.

To keep in the cellars

CHÂTEAU DE PIBARNON 2017 ; Bandol, red. Powerful, silky, mineral, elegant, racy tannins. Guard: 10 years.

CHÂTEAU LA VERRERIE ; Grand Deffand organic 2017, luberon, red. Generous, sunny, opulent, marked tannins. Keep: 15 years and more.

CHÂTEAU SIMONE 2015, Palette, red. A very great wine from Provence, complex, structured. Guard: 10 years.

The essentials

MAS AMIEL; Maury 20 years old, red roussillon. Very nice freshness despite its 98.7 g / l of residual sugars.

There you go hope it helps you as a starter or to think your own, wine is pleasure even in the worse of times it brings us together, I share it with my boys and why not maybe one day with one or more of you. In Vino Veritas.

Enjoy them with moderation of course, but drink the nectar of the gods. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


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