Category Archives: France

Weekend in Bordeaux

Happy Tuesday!  I hope all of you at home enjoyed your Labor Day holiday.  Today marks the official end of summer here in France, as children return to school and most businesses re-open after their “vacances annuelles”.  Paris streets will be full of very tan faces for the next few weeks.  As the temperature is predicted to be 90 degrees on Thursday, the opportunities for sunbathing do not appear to be over quite yet.

Mark and I had a wonderful weekend in Bordeaux, which was a pleasant 3 hour ride south west on the TGV.  We arrived around 10:00 Friday night and checked into the Hotel Burdigala, which was done in a “Hollywood Glam” style. (Is that really a style?  If not, it should be.).  There was lots of leather and shine and bling.

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The best part, though, was that the rooms were totally sound and light-proof, meaning that one could easily sleep all day if one were inclined.  Fortunately for this post, we were not!

Saturday we had booked a half-day tour of the village of St. Emilion and of a winery in the area.

St. Emilion was a tiny but beautiful village about 40 minutes from Bordeaux.  I am pretty sure the inhabitants are part billy-goat, however, as it super hilly and the streets are all uneven cobblestone.  There are over a thousand wineries in the area of St. Emilion, and almost as many gorgeous wine shops in the village!

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From the village, we toured a winery and tasted several of their offerings, which were so good we had to take a few home with us.

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Bordeaux itself was a very pretty little town, built almost entirely of a gorgeous local limestone that glowed when the sun hit it right.

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le Grand Theatre

le Grand Theatre

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This shallow splash pool felt great on our tired feet on a hot afternoon!

Although we did not do much research or planning before this weekend get-away, I did research the restaurants (“quelle surprise”!).  We asked our hotel concierge to make reservations in three of them, and they were all memorable!

Friday night we ate at Le Plat a Oreilles, which was one of many restaurants on a lively but tiny street.  Here are the views on either side of our table.

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The food was amazing.  These were our appetizers.

Mark had a salad with two piping hot clouds of goat cheese in puff pastry!

Mark had a salad with two piping hot clouds of goat cheese in puff pastry!

I had tiny mussels swimming in garlic, olive oil, and parsley.

I had tiny mussels swimming in garlic, olive oil, and parsley. Ok and maybe some butter.

Sunday we had a bountiful brunch at a tiny place called Plume.  “Le brunch” was a set menu for 19 euros; one only needed to choose a hot beverage.  Love that!  The dishes included an omelette on an English muffin, 2 small pancakes, vegetables, amazing granola and fruit with fromage blanc, cheese, bread, a muffin, and beans.  Juice and coffee to drink.  Yeah, we were full!

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Feeling svelte and ready for the beach after our little breakfast, we  rode the tram to the train station and  went thirty minutes west to Arcachon.

on the tram!

on the tram!

This wasn't our train, but I loved the embellishments!

This wasn’t our train, but I loved the embellishments!

Train station in Arcachon

Train station in Arcachon

From the station, the short walk to the beach took us by lots of lovely old Victorian homes like these.

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And then voila- we were at the beach!
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A visit to Arcachon was the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon.  The beach and boardwalk were alive with people of all ages, shapes, and sizes.  We sat in the shade and enjoyed the cool breeze and the people-watching.  Ahhhhhh.

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Back in Bordeaux in time for dinner, we luxuriated in one final gourmet meal at Solena, which was owned by a woman from San Francisco and her husband, and was just a short walk from our hotel.  The ambience was not as good as the previous night, but the food was amazing.

Bordeaux- an easy weekend destination from Paris with plenty of charm and delicious food.  And wine.  Lots of wine.  If you’re into that kind of thing.

I hope you enjoyed the highlights of our fun weekend.  It’s nice to be back.  Thanks for stopping by!

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Filed under Bordeaux, France, travel, Uncategorized

Strasbourg- A Christmas Wonderland!

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We celebrated Mark’s birthday last weekend with a day trip to Strasbourg, which sits very close to the German border.  We took a TGV that departed Paris around 8:30 Saturday morning and was supposed to arrive in Strasbourg around 11:00.  However, we had our very first bad train experience (technical difficulties) which included sitting in the middle of nowhere for a half an hour, hearing an announcement in French (the only part of which I understood was “this is not good news”), returning the direction from whence we came for a short time, unloading part of our train and then loading them onto our part of the train, riding very slowly through the countryside, and finally arriving in Strasbourg at 1:45.  We didn’t have any plans for the day (other than our lunch reservations, which we had to cancel) so the delay didn’t really matter, and we considered it just another adventure.  I did regret two decisions I had made that morning, however, which were not to bring reading material or snacks.  Yeah- I got pretty bored and hungry on the way.

We did get to see snow on the ground on that long journey, though!

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It wasn’t falling from the sky- just covered the ground- but it was very pretty.

Strasbourg is said to have the oldest Christmas market in France, and it was spread throughout the entire town.  Each had its own decorations and lights, and endless quantities of hot spiced wine, which tasted wonderful on that very cold day.

Yum.

Yum.

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chocolate nativity scene!

chocolate nativity scene!

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Twas a very fun and festive day.  We were home and in our jammies by 10:00, feeling as though we had been to another country for the day.  Or maybe even to the North Pole.

Happy shopping, mes amis.  If I do much more, I fear that Air France will not let me board my flight on the 21st.  Maybe I should just buy one of those fancy French trunks and send it all home in style?

Ho Ho Ho!

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Filed under chocolate, France, shopping, travel

Lets Go To The Riviera!

Our weekend in Nice was a delightful get-away .  We left Friday afternoon, flew for an hour and ten minutes, and voila- we were in the city of Nice, which felt worlds away from Paris.

Nice is very much a beachy resort town, but with none of the tackiness that too often dresses such places.  The oldest hotel, Hotel Negresco, was built in the early 1900’s, and much of the city reminded me of that era.  It was elegant without stuffiness, and reflected its proximity to Italy in an appealing Mediterranean flair.

Our hotel had a nice rooftop bar, serving up this view of the water.

After a “welcome to Nice” cocktail, we walked along this promenade into Old Town Nice, about 45 minutes.

Along the way we passed private beach areas where one could rent a chair and umbrella and enjoy food and drink service.  I love the timeless look of these places- they really could be straight out of the 1950’s.

After a delicious feast of seafood, we walked around the city and enjoyed its energy.  Everyone seemed happy to be there.  And who could blame them?

All these guys got lit up as the night got darker.

The next morning we were picked up early for a four-hour van tour up the coast to the cliff village of Eze and the microcosm of wealth, Monte Carlo.  See if you can tell which is which.

Saturday afternoon we ate lunch on the beach and then collapsed in beach chairs and hardly moved for several hours.  We did venture into the Mediterranean, which was a lot colder than it looked!  The water was gorgeous- perfectly clear down to the smooth rocks on the bottom.  The temperature didn’t seem to bother the French and Italian people around us, who were luxuriating in the water as if it were a thermal bath.  I don’t know how they did it.

And that was our weekend on the Riviera.  I hope you enjoyed your tour!  I will put more pictures on Mais Oui Paris Facebook page, if you need more eye candy!

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Filed under France, travel, Uncategorized