A second post about my visit to the south of Portugal. The first one was about the little town of Olhão, where I stayed with friends. This post will be about the slightly more important city, Faro, which is also where you find the regional international airport. I made a very short visit and concentrated on the “Cidade Velha”, the old town.  

A little bit of etymology? We shall not forget that this part of the world was under Moorish rule during some five centuries. The name of the region, Algarve, has of course Arabic origins – (“al ḡarb” = the west). Also the city name of Faro has obviously nothing to do with what you first would imagine, a lighthouse (farol in Portuguese, faro in Spanish, phare in French…), but the old name of the city, Faaron, seems again to have some Arabic origins - the name of a local “quadi” = judge.  The name of Olhão comes also from the Arabic - “al hain” = the source.  

A major entrance to the old city is by the “Arco de Vila”. You are of course fascinated by the storks on the top of the building.

There was another stork on the top of the Cathedral Tower… I wanted to get a closer look.

The Cathedral, the “Sé”, was completed in 1251, but was severely damaged in the 1755 earthquake, often referred to as the Great Lisbon Earthquake, but with its origin in the Atlantic it touched large parts of Portugal, northern Africa… It was actually felt in the whole western world  and was followed by an important tsunami. The interior of the church is today a mix of gothic, renaissance, baroque…

Some other views of the charming old town, including a place where you can buy some azulejos.

A walk along the old fortress walls and I prepared myself for a visit of the lagoon, the Ria Formosa.  


Olhão – Bom Sucesso

So, I spent about a week in the south of Portugal, in the Algarve region. I was invited by friends who live part of the year in the little town of Olhão. Yes, it was a “bom sucesso” – I will come back to the “Bom Sucesso” matter!

If you arrive by air, you will land at Faro. The sea, the lagoon, in front of Faro and Olhão is referred to as Rio Formosa. The coastline west of Faro is to a large part occupied by golf courses, splendid villas with swimming pools… but if you go east, towards the Spanish border, you will still find a number of more authentic and charming towns and villages. Olhão is one of them. The town has always been linked to fishing and related industries.

Today along the seafront you can walk along a nicely arranged park-like promenade. 

This is also where you can find a number of "azulejo"-decorated illustrations of the town history, more particularly referring to the local revolt against the Napoleonic occupants in 1808, which led to the liberation of the Algarve region. “Bom Sucesso” refers to a “caique” which left for Brazil to inform the Portuguese King who had taken refuge there about the successful uprising. What we see here (and also as top picture) is a copy of this little ship, "caique".

This is furthermore where you can find two identical market buildings (by Gustave Eiffel!!), one for fish and seafood, one for fruits and vegetables.

Especially on a Saturday, even if the high season is over, the market and its surroundings, including the cafés and restaurants, are crowded.

The centre of the town has conserved its original charm, with beautifully decorated facades, often covered with "azulejos".

Most of these buildings have a number of terraces, the same house often with several on different levels.

Some buildings are in need of restoration - there is a lot of activity ongoing.   

Typical for the town and the region are the cobble-stones, the “knocking hands”, the "azulejo" street names … 

A quick look on the “Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora do Rosário”.

I will come back to the lagoon and the small islands, but here are some photos to remind us of the nearby sea, the birds…

The Christmas season decorations were just ready.   


Off again...

A little break... back soon with some news from the south of Portugal.



The Château de Chantilly is located north of Paris - about half an hour by train. The oldest parts of the castle date from the 16th century, but having suffered seriously from the Revolution, the major parts were rebuilt during the 19th century. Its history is linked to the Montmorency family, later to the Princes of Condé…  and during the latter part of the 19th century to one of the sons of King Louis-Philippe, the Duke of Aumale. The castle was bequeathed to the French State ((Institut de France) at his death in 1897.

Molière sits in front of the castle on the top picture. This is because his play “Les Précieuses Ridicules” was performed here for the first time in 1659. The man on the horse is Anne, Duke of Montmorency. 

Another name linked to the castle is François Vatel. He was “maître d’hôtel” to the Condé family but had also worked for Nicolas Fouquet and others. He committed suicide because of a delayed delivery of some fish for a royal meal at the castle. The famous Chantilly cream seems however not to be linked to him – created earlier. 
The art gallery, referred to as the “Musée Condé”, houses one of the finest collections of paitings in France – Botticelli, Raphael, Mignard, Watteau, Corot, Fra Angelico, Lippi, Veronese, Carracci, Poussin, Holbein, Champaigne, Van Dyck, Greuze, Delacroix, Ingres, Gericault… .

The library contains some 1.500 manuscripts, some 17.500 printed volumes, medieval manuscripts…

Other parts of the castle, the Chapel...

The Garden was laid out by André Le Nôtre (Versailles, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Fontainebleau, Tuileries…).

The castle is close to the Chantilly Racecourse and the Great Stables (to be visited another time).

The days in November are short… the darkness arrived.  



Even birds can be coquettish...

Even birds can be coquettish – this one prepared itself for a minute or so, before taking the pose.

The last couple of days I have had the pleasure to accompany blogger friend Virginia KelserJones during her walks and photographing in Paris, partly joined by our common friend Mary Ruhling Gilbert.  

Here are just some photos I took during our walks. (The ladies took many more.)