To sleep for 700 euro a night is to expensive
When you paid 700 euro a night for a hotel room in Paris, you used to accept it. Ok, it's a lot of money, but you've got something good, don't you. You don't. You've been swindled.
At least, thats what the French Competition authority says, tv-station France 2 reports. It found the odd fact that allthough 700 euro is a high price, competition between luxury hotels didn't make prices fall. This fact is easily explained by agreementsthe hotels made. The Bristol, the Crillon, the George V, the Meurice, the Plazza Athénée" and the Ritz will have to pay fines for their behaviour.
Posted by Peter at 07:55 AM [1 reaction]
Hiking and cycling on the Boulevard Périphérique
Preparations are in full progress: on the second sunday of august the Boulevard Périphérique, the motorway around the heart of Paris, should be available for hikers and byciclists. Normally, the highway is filled with stinking cars, but that's just the reason the people of Périféerique (fee means fairy) want to change the road into a paradise of rst and clean air. August 13th is the berst day for this project, because most parisians will be on holidays then.
By the way, there is a second reason for this project that has become important during the riots of the last month. Normally, the motorway is some kind of Berlin wall between Paris itself and its suburbs (the norious 'banlieue'). This day in august, the two will join in french brotherhood...
There's just a minor problem: the government still has to aprove the plan.
Posted by Peter at 07:57 AM [3 reactions]
Snow is there to enjoy
After the snow chaos on friday, when thousands of people in the United Kingdom, Holland and Germany couldn't come home, we would nearly forget you also can enjoy snow. In fact, you might get maximum fun out of the snow in the French Alps. Both Val Thorens and Les 2 Alpes have opened the ski season.
With the opening of the season Val Thorens (or Valtho, as it's called by fans) introduces a new sort of lift passes. The cards are now detected and controlled wherever you keep them. You don't even have to get the pass out of your pocket.
Posted by Peter at 07:19 AM [What do you think?]
Last chance for unmarried women
Last chance for unmarried women! Today is Saint Catherines day. If you're 25 years of age, you may pray in order to to get a hubbie after all.
This day was introduced in France by returning crusaders, who heard about the marty saint who died as a virgin in Alexandria in the 3rd century. Ever since, unmarried women pray to her on this day. With enormous hats, they ware at statues of the saint they make clear the're available for mariage. As from today till the end of january, some of these hats are exposed in the Hats Museum in Chazelles-sur-Lyon.
Posted by Peter at 07:58 AM [What do you think?]
Famous museum has no money for a website
It's a remarkable museum, to say the least. Many people consider 'La Piscine' (The Swimming Pool), museum for arts and industry, to be one of the best France offers. It's a Roubaix-based old, restaurated art-deco swimming pool, joining a post-modern new wing.
But try to find the museum on the Internet. Google refers to useeroubaix.free.fr, but that's only a white page. The site of the local tourist office has crashed: ,,We hope to be back soom.''The city of Roubaix? Yes! A virtual tour. The information about expositions however is outdated.
The digital village Roubaix has no link either. Let's mail the webmaster. He knows the answer. There is no site, no "site officiel". Restaurating the swimming pool, buolding a new wing and keeping them open is so expensive, there's not a penny left to build a website...
Posted by Peter at 07:58 AM [2 reactions]
222 years ago, man travelled in the air
Yesterday was a day to celebrate, at least for balloonists. On this day in the year 1783, the first manned flight took place. In the public were King Louis XVI and his wife. The king was very impressed bij the flying man. He declared only the noble people could take part in this noble craft.
Those who are interested in the history of ballooning, should visit the wonderful castle of Balleroy. The owner loves ballooning. He created a ballooning museum in his spacious rooms.
Posted by Peter at 07:52 AM [What do you think?]
A real wine castle
Those who know anything of wine, they know the french word chateau doesn't always mean castle. In many cases, a chateau is just the farm at a vignyard.
The chateau of Roquetaillade however is both. This remarkable castle, build in 12th and 14th century, still has a vignyard. With it's walls and towers, it even looks the way a medieval castle should look. Thanks to Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, the man who restaurated the citadel of Carcasonne too.
Looks familiar though you've never been there? Might be. The place attracted some famous film makers. Louis de Funes made 'Fantomas against Scotland Yard' over here, way back in 1966. Jean Paul Belmondo came here for 'Dr. Popaul'. Last, but not least: 'Brotherhood of the wolves'.
Posted by Peter at 07:38 AM [2 reactions]
Train and subway on strike
Bad news for those who want to visit France by public transport this week. As from monday evening, French Railways (the SNCF) will be on strike. According to the Reuters press agency unions fear the government will sell the SNCF to private partys. For the same reason, the subway of Paris will be on strike on wednesday, the Nouvel Observateur reports.
Posted by Peter at 07:29 AM [What do you think?]
Celebrating Miss Saint Nicolas...
Like in Holland, in the French region of Lorraine Santa Claus has been replaced by Saint Nicolas, whose birthday is celebrated december 5th (in Holland) or december 6th (in France). Like Santa, saint Nicolas always is a very old man. Old fashioned, isn't it? Why can't a beautiful young girl be a saint?
Well, she can. Marine Sanin (17) has been chosen to be Miss Saint Nicolas 2005 at a municipal party in Saint Nicolas de Port, near Nancy.
The old man isn't completely forgotten. The municipality still offers the possibility for children to write a letter to the old saint. Please enclose a drawing.
saint Nicolas is celebrated in Lorraine because he's not only friend of the children, but also the patron of the region. In Nancy it even takes two days to celebrate his arrival, on december 3th and 4th. More then a 100.000 people are expected to attend this festival.
Posted by Peter at 08:25 AM [27 reactions]
How to describe a festival as boring as possible
For more then 150 years it's a festival in Lyon: the party of light. From december 8th till december 11th the whole city will be illuminated by artists. The official site is just one page of text with some very tiny pictures above.
It even doesn't mention anything about the history of the festival. In France, authorities formally do not want to have anything to do with religio. So, we have to go to the cathedral. Over there, we can read that on december 8th, 1852, a statue of Mary was to be imposed on the old chapel of La Fourvière. Fireworks were impossible due to heavy rainfall. But when the rain stopped, the citizens of Lyon opened their curtains and put on their lights.
the hill of Fourvière is one of the most important places of worsening of Mary. December 8th is the day of the immaculate conception.
Posted by Peter at 07:55 AM [2 reactions]
Two Americans in Paris
It seems Americans in Paris have to write a book about the city of lights. It's a tradition going back to Ernest Hemingway, if not further.
Put two Americans in Paris, the result has to be good. David Downie, writer, and Alisson Harris, photographer, went out together, searching for the mistery of Paris.
Why is Paris the city of light, the city of romance? Is the answer to be found at the Père Lachaise cemetery? These questions resulted in remarkable book. You just want to see the pictures? As of december 1th you're welcome in the Atelier de la Main d'Or in a street by the same name. In Paris, of course.
Posted by Peter at 07:24 AM [What do you think?]
Vulcania, the educational leisure park in the Auvergne where you learn everyting about volcanoes and likewise, trembles. When it opened only four years ago, it attracted 650.000 visitors. According to Les Echos this year only 350.000 people visted Vulcania. Even the opening of a earthquake simulator could not stop the falling figures. It's supposed Vulcania will close it's door next year for three month to save costs.
Posted by Peter at 08:09 AM [3 reactions]
"The situation is quasi-normal"
Very slowly, life in France is going to be as it was before the riots. L'Express quotes the Paris police saying the situation is 'quasi-normal'. Only 86 cars were burned last night, a decline of 25.
There are small positive signs to notice. For example, the website French-word-day, that teaches you a french word nearly every day. Yesterdays word was émeutes: riots. Todays word is a word for those lucky enough to still have a car. Stationner means to park.
Posted by Peter at 03:41 PM [What do you think?]
Squabbling about the end of World War One
On november 11th, a blog about France can not forget to commemorate the Armistice. 87 years ago, the Germans surrounded, accepting the terms of the French marshal Foch. At least, that's what the French gouvernment says. True? May be not. According to the British site First World War the American president Wilson made the terms.
Whatever, in the northern village of Rhetondes a museum and a clearage in the woods still commemorate the "Grande Guerre". At least, the French government says they're in Rhetondes. The neighbouring city of Compiègne opposes strongly. The memorial place may be next to a railway station by the name of Rhetondes, it really is on the territory of Compiègne.
For those who prefer to visit the place rahter then to squabble about it, the place is situated just between the two villages. In the museum is a wagon, an exact copy of the one the armistice was signed in.
Posted by Peter at 09:38 PM [What do you think?]
Ordinary people in nativity scenes
Christmas is getting close. The french have a habit of starting to make Nativity Scenes now. In the Provence, they make something special of it. Not only Joseph, Mary and the three wise man are to be found at the crib. Here, you will find ordinary people too, from two centuries ago.
It's a tradition from the days of the French revolution. Back in those days, it was'nt very wise to show your religious mind.. Therefore, eople searched for other, more secret ways to make Nativity scenes.
Nowaday, there are still lots of craftsmen making these little puppets (called Santons). Most of them will welcome you warmly en may be even invite you to make your own Santon.
If you just want to admire lots of Santons in huge nativity scenes, visit
La Petite Provence near Arles or the Miniature Village near Grignan (Drome).
Posted by Peter at 07:49 AM [What do you think?]
First mortal victim in French riots
France doesn't seem to be able to end the riots in the suburbs of its major cities. After eleven nights of violence, the BBC the first mortal victim. Meanwhile, muslim leaders have issued a fatwa against the riots.
Anyway, for the time being the suburbs are no-go-areas. Not that they have ever been paradises.
Looking at the bright side of life: the tourist attractions in Paris are not affected by the riots.
Posted by Peter at 07:59 PM [What do you think?]
No more pictures of the Mona Lisa
Thee you are, in front of the one and only Mona Lisa. Of cause, you want a souvenir. You make a picture of the famous painting.
To late. The management of the Louvre has forbidden all potographing and filming in the Denon-wing of the museum. In other parts of the museum photography is still allowed under the old terms: no flash, no tripod.
The Denon-wing however has so many famous pieces the gallery became to crowded. People who just wanted to admire the Mona Lisa were pushed aside by photographers.
From now on, use the Internet for your souvenirs.
Posted by Peter at 05:14 PM [3 reactions]
Today: All Souls Day
Today it's All Souls Day, the day the French visit the cemeteries beloved are buried. A couple of appropriate links.
Because it's ALL Souls Day, we should not forget those who died long ago. The Catacombs in Paris form a huge underground ossuary. A small part of it is an aofficial museum you can visit legally. Most of it is closed formally, but adventurers come in every day.
Something completely different is the famous cemetery of Père Lachaise. Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaff and Jim Morrisson are here to find, among many other celebreties. However, not everyone comes here to see graves. Couples visit this grave-yard just for a romantic walk. The place is favourite spot for bird watchers too. Last but not least, some women had a good time leaving traces on the statue of Victor Noir.
Read more about catacombs and cemeteries in Paris
Posted by Peter at 07:55 AM [What do you think?]
Why Le Mans?
Sure, one day a year for 24 hours some cars drive around, but for the rest of the year:: is there anything worth visiting in Le Mans?
The question arose when I visited A Dutch travel forum. Someone asked if the mororway between Rouen and Alençon is open already (yes)got the answer that it's cheaper to drive by Caen and Rennes. Now that is true if you want to go to Bretagne, Nantes or even further. Now, nothing was mentioned about a destination. Anyway, why should anyone be interested in visiting Le Mans?
Well, here we go. The city with its 195.000 inhabitants thinks it's a metropolis: Le Mans Metropole. That's not that strange when your town hall is a former royal palace. The roman fortress is one of the best preserved of France and the roman-gothic cathedral of Saint-Julien has a ceiling painting starring 47 angels giving a celestial concert. Then of cause there's the ancient city center, beautifulle illuminated during summer nights. Some smaller museums, theatres and cinemas make the town complete.
Posted by Peter at 07:55 AM [2 reactions]