Category Archives: Ile de France

The Walk at the Domaine de Chamarande

Question: Where do you take a well-travelled 26-year old boy on a nice Tuesday morning considering that both of you have only few hours to spare?
Answer: Go walking around a Chateau. (It worked!)

Matthew, H’s best friend’s son,  is a Mathematics Research student  at nearby Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (“Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies”) and ever since he started his studies here six months ago, we haven’t had the chance to get together as we were always away.  Now that we are here for a few days, we agreed to meet up for lunch and go for some Chateau walking.

“What do you need to research in Math for?”, I curiously asked H.   Math is one of those subjects that did not interest me although I got through it with flying colours in lower school when I managed to memorize the multiplication table.  When I reached University, Math has become a pain in my brain cells so I tried avoiding it but always without success.  “I think he’s especializing in Algaebric Mathematics”, said H.  Why do all these  courses that they offer now in universities sound strange.  I remember a daughter of H’s close friend who took up a degree, the name of which was causing me a headache.  It has the word  “Neuro-” and it sounds so complex that I could never get to memorize it.  She finished the degree but her now successful career  has nothing to do with it.

Back to Matthew, how lucky could we get to have set our rendezvous on a clear perfect day as it has been raining incessantly the previous days.  At the Domaine de Chamarande, even if the grounds were a bit muddy, it was still delightful treading through the historic gardens (98 hectares in all) beautifully landscaped with its forest section, meadows, marshland, river, old footbridges while inhaling the sweetness of  fresh air.    There are also modern sculpture spread in various places  as  it also hosts open and closed door art exhibition all year round.

The staggering view of the chateau – at a distance or reflected in the water – will surely excite even the lethargic and the lazy to try walking in this exceptional environment.  This is one of our favorite places to do a leisurely stroll on a Sunday afternoon and with exhibitions held inside the chateau, the  experience becomes doubly enjoyable!  Really glad that our Mathematician “nephew” liked it.

As always, I am always behind to do the shots!

This is the Glaciere .. or the ice building where, in the early days, winter snow was stored at low temperature to last till the summer days where it was used to prepare iced dessert or cold drinks. (1740)


A quick visit at the Chateau’s world war 1 exposition. The area of the Essone where the Domaine de Chamarande is located was an active military zone used for training soldiers and storing armaments and war equipment.

Design notebook of Soldier Lucien Duclair, Liason Officer, 1915

The grenade thrower, designed by Bernard Naudin

A soldier’s sewing kit

Domaine de Chamarande
38 rue due Commandant Arnoux, 91730, Chamarande, France
Free entrance

Sunday Nature Walk

Sun, blue sky, the desperate yearning for a promenade, the desire to be instantly relieved  from cabin fever and the need to shop for food in the market, you combine all these factors and the first things that come to mind are:  put on a good pair of walking shoes, get the shopping bag,  search for the key and drive the van to somewhere green, pleasant and not far from a bustling market

Parc of Les Ulis

Glad that the parc of Les Ulis is just 14 minute drive from where we live in the Essone.  It’s been very cold, windy and wet the past few days and what sweet comfort  to go out in the open, bask in the sunshine and flex every single muscle of our body.  Well, I must include the muscles on my right index finger that clicks the shutter!  A photographer can never run short of inspiration here.  For even in these cold winter days, despite the absence of leaves and flowers,  this scenery just outside of Paris is a sight to behold.   It is just as beautiful in the Spring, Summer or Autumn when seasonal flowers bloom and the locals are out and about.

And when there is beauty in your surroundings, it brings forth the inspiration to get your creative juices out, and if you are a poet, it’s like weaving the right words  to create heart-rending messages that can even make you cry.

Here are some:

 “In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
… John Muir

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all ridicule and deformity, and some scarce see Nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.”…..William Blake, 1799, The Letters

“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”
….. Hal Borland, Countryman: A Summer of Belief

“A tree is beautiful, but what’s more, it has a right to life; like water, the sun and the stars, it is essential. Life on earth is inconceivable without trees.” …. Anton Chekhov

Time to go home, but insatiable me had to ask for more. Why not drive through a smaller village and allow ourselves to be surprised even more?

And we have not driven that far when we saw these adorable Highland cattle of Janvry, another village of the Essone.  (Actually, we have been here before but too long ago to even remember..)



Scottish Highland cattle that have been raised in French soil, hence, the attachment to day-old baguette courtesy of this man (only his hand is visible) who probably owns a boulangerie (bakery) and brought with him a big bag full of  leftovers.

 Finally driving home and yet, we saw more animal scenes on the way.

Note:  We did find  the market in Les Ulis, it sells everything  from fish and fresh veggies to great tasting baguette topped with poppy seeds!  Mission happily accomplished!

New Year’s Day Walk

Happy New Year everyone!

I know. I had been out of circulation for a long, long time that’s why it is my desire to make up for it. And since it’s the first day of the New Year, I promise a new beginning, a new makeover for “A Pinay in Europe”!

The last few months I’ve too busy immersed in many activities including attending Painting and Knitting classes which I truly enjoyed and got passionate about, plus wrapping up the end of our stay in the UK, driving back to France only to begin the almost impossible saga of emptying a cramped 200-year old four-floor house in the South of France. Yes. Our house for the last ten years is gone, sold and vacated. So much lovely memories, wonderful experiences that no amount of money can buy, but c’est la vie (that’s life) and we have to move on.

The good news is, it’s my new year resolution to update this site more regularly – with new layouts, new ideas, new themes and more travel stories and tips for everyone!

So for my first post, I thought I should try delving on digital scrapbooking. I hope you like it!

House of Chateaubriand

Along with Goethe and Byron, he was one of the founding fathers of Romantic Art and in gastronomy, his name would come to mean a steak tenderloin.

So that when the house of Francois Rene Vicomte De Chateaubriand (1768-1848) opened to the public for free last Sunday (yours truly being a natural sniffer for everything gratis), H and I found ourselves standing infront of the gate of Maison de Chateaubriand half an hour drive from home in the  Essone (Paris suburb).

It was a well-attended day,
just goes to show that I am not the only one
sniffing for free entrance!

The double-branched staircase
which I managed to steal a shot
as photography is prohibited.

Entering this door takes you
to the half-glass half concrete conservatory
that gives you a good view of the green park outside.

The daffodils now in bloom

This tree was brought from south eastern part
of America by Chateaubriand
who planted it himself in his garden park.

Another tree brought from his travels.

This bench is great for reading Chateaubriand’s “Memoirs beyond the Grave”:

I have explored the seas of the Old World and the New, and trod the soil of the four quarters of the globe. After camping in Iroquois shelters and Arab tents, in the wigwams of the Hurons, amid the remains of Athens, Jerusalem, Memphis, Carthage, Grenada, among Greeks, Turks and Moors, in forests and among ruins; after wearing the bearskin of the savage and the silken caftan of the mameluke; after enduring poverty, hunger, thirst, and exile, I have sat, as minister and ambassador, in a gold-laced coat, my breast motley with stars and ribbons, at the tables of kings, at the feasts of princes and princesses, only to relapse into indigence and to receive a taste of prison….

With all the flowers blooming in this tens of hectares of park,
I’m sure that  the honey produced by the resident bees
are as delicious as  pure nectar!


Maison de Chateaubriand
87 rue de Chateaubriand

Tale of two white cities


Snowfall, snowfall….entire Ile-de-France is covered with thick snow this Sunday morning

Even the rairoads are inches deep in snow.  The curvy trail on the right is that of our suitcases on wheels. 

What normally is a two-hour Eurostar train trip from Paris to London took five hours.  We kept stopping on the way due to bad weather, which gave me a chance to photograph anything that gets my sight!



Thank goodness we’ve arrived!  Hailed a taxi to save us from towing our bags through snow again.  Even if London taxis have now been modernised, they still kept those precious leg and luggage spaces!


London at night

and still London in snow at night