The importance of avoiding pesticides and herbicides is clear in the wine industry. However, only 25 percent of most vineyards in Bordeaux can call themselves Bio or Organic. 1,39% of Bordeaux vineyards are biodynamic.
What do the French eat for Christmas? I wanted to share many of those Christmas meal items and some of the history behind them, so you can prepare a French Christmas meal, keeping in mind that in most French homes the big day is on Christmas Eve...Santa Claus or 'Papa Noel' even comes then (not on Christmas day).
With almost all international flights from the USA going to Paris, you'll inadvertently stop in Paris at either the beginning or end of your Bordeaux holidays. Living in Paris versus having a trip there are two different animals and my recent trip reminded me how overwhelming Paris can be...especially with children. Here are some of... Continue Reading →
The number of women in winemaking in Bordeaux has grown exponentially in the last 30 years. There is still room to grow in this historically predominantly male industry. Here are some women in Saint Emilion winemaking to watch, from owners to oenologists.
There are so many wonderful wine bars in Bordeaux, but so many only offer charcuterie and cheese. Wine, in particular red wine, has been accompanied by cheese for ages. Tanins, like those in coffee and chocolate also, are softened by dairy. So it makes sense its a classic pairing. And who doesn't love some porc noir de Biggore with a nice glass of Chateau Ferriere (one of my favorite combinations at the wonderful bio wine bar Complain Terra). What if you want more? It's equally fun to try wines with different styles of food and in France, that's what wine is about - complimenting or enjoying with a dish! Here are some of my favourites in Bordeaux, which is your favourite?
Helen Kelly with her husband Nick, are the winemakers and owners at Chateau de Claribes in Gensac, Gironde. Originally from Oxfordshire, East of London, Helen and Nick were working in IT and decided to make a major life change. Like so many who move to France, the choice was for a better quality of life. More balance. While both travelled often for work and leisure, most importantly holidaying in a vineyard in the Entre-Deux-Mers, the final decision to permanently move seemed clear.
Visiting Bordeaux in the summer is great with the stunning 18th century city, local sandy beaches and vineyards to visit! A lot of Bordeaux goes on holiday in August as well, so here are a list of some of the restaurants open that I'd recommend. I'll update as the restaurants respond so keep checking in. Most have online reservations through their website. Enjoy your summer trip and meals in Bordeaux!
No, vineyards do not stretch as far as the eye can see in North Carolina, but there are a lot of similarities between these two places I've lived that made Gironde feel like home immediately. Colonial History between Bordeaux and the South Bordeaux in essence is a colonial city. So much of its Roman and... Continue Reading →
s looking for new options in the shop, Baltoro is now offering something really unique which you have to try…charcuterie and cheese with an ice cream pairing. Having moved to Bazas from Barcelona which has a very adventurous culinary scene, I’m loving this idea! On a hot summer day, it’s a perfect. Its also really refreshing to have something other than wine with charcuterie and cheese!
Located at the end of the river into the Atlantic Ocean, one hour from Wilmington, you find this charming old port town. Once only known for the fishing boats arriving, it's fast becoming a retiree dream land with marinas and beautiful developments popping up everywhere. I wish you could see the Southport we knew from decades ago, but I think you'll still find that vibe in the old town and along the waterfront.
One of the woman I worked with, back when I was a chef and she was first mate, Suzanne McGhee, is now an incredibly knowledgeable yacht broker. Having succeeded in the industry as a captain, no small feat in such a high pressure industry, she is now helping clients find their dream holiday yacht. Due to her first hand experience in the industry, she knows what is required onboard, the best places to cruise to, and many other inside tips which other yachting agents could miss. Below, Suzanne shares some more insight, enjoy!
It is run as a biodynamic vineyard and your tour with guide Eveli Rodriguez will highlight some of the more important and interesting parts of biodynamic wine making. This might have been my favourite part because it opened conversation to other unique methods of farming, like the use of music to promote growth and protect from mildew. Eveli adores questions so come prepared!
You would be remiss to not book a table at Aga if you are anywhere near Cadillac in SE Gironde. This is a small, chef-owned restaurant located near the historic Clock Tower (Vernihaut), close to the covered market. Their plates are based on seasonal and regional ingredients, so if you are a locavore you will be very happy!
With so many wine bars in Bordeaux to choose from, how do you pick one? First question is why are you going? Is it for casual food and wine apero time? Or, are you wanting to learn more about the classic wines from Bordeaux? Are you interested in the natural wines from the area? Here is a short guide to a handful of the wine bars in Bordeaux.
If you have children, it's the biggest fear that your children will get sick or injured on vacation. Especially in a foreign country. France has wonderful healthcare, so that is a great relief. However, the system works differently from the USA. While I hope you don't need them, here are some tips and advice for when you're traveling with children and need to see a doctor or go to the hospital.
Thermal spas are a great way to spend a day. As a mom, they're a wonderful, rejuvenating experience alone. They're also really fun with kids! There are so many different styles and price points, how do you know which one to choose? The Landes region, South of Bordeaux, has multiple historical thermal spa towns.
Named after the religious order that used to inhabit that area, the now famed covered market 'Marche des Capucins' is a sensory theme park. The noises, the smells, the stands of beautiful fruits and vegetables...maybe a local chef sighting as well?! It is best Wednesday-Sunday and often has seasonal finds that you cannot buy in other locations outside of the city, like wild garlic or cepes. When it first started in the 18th century, it was for the sale of cattle but over the next two centuries it morphed into what we see today. The covered roof was added in 1878 and still covers the 80 plus merchants inside.
One of my favorite things to do is simply walk aimlessly in cities. Saint Michel, which is the neighborhood around the Marche des Capucins in Bordeaux, is one of those lesser seen areas full of life! You'll find tajines, Halal butchers, Greek restaurants, upscale wine bars, historic churches, and picturesque facades. A unique multifaceted charm not yet uniformed by tourism.
Visiting Bordeaux during the Christmas holidays is charming, with the lights and decorations on the streets and the annual Christmas market. However, many Bordelaise go on holiday as well...so which restaurants are open between Christmas and New Years in Bordeaux? Check out our blog post with restaurants open and links to their websites or booking links.
Le Davoli (name derives from David, chef, and Olivier, sommelier) is a table Michelin rated restaurant in the Saint Pierre district of Bordeaux open since 2012. Offering a seasonal lunch menu of two courses for 30 EURO, they also offer evening menus from 49-68 EURO for three courses.
Villandraut is around an hour from Bordeaux, only accessible by car or bicycle, but full of history. The Chateau which dominates the center of town was built by Pope Clement V who was born in Villandraut. The Ciron River flows through, offering water activites in the summer, and a weekly Thursday market is a great way to take in the local culinary culture!
The massive pre-historic fish that once swam freely and abundantly through nearly all of the European rivers are now essentially extinct. You will never find wild sturgeon caviar anymore; it is all farmed (no matter what the label says). The lifestyle of the fish from wild to farm has apparently changed the flavor and texture of the product itself. While these two points can already vary between species, the Siberian/Baerii caviar tending to have a more earthy flavor with the Osetra leaning towards more oyster flavor for example, they are still very different from those who would remember caviar before the 1980's.
While best used fresh - my ideal serving for cepes is to get really firm smaller ones, trim the ends and sear in a pan with olive oil then adding butter, minced garlic and parsley towards the end. These mushrooms are a great addition to risottos and meat jus for sauces. However, often you'll find you have found older cepe or just have too many and I find slicing them and freezing or dehydrating is the best way to reuse. I'm not a huge fan of the canned ones as they lose a lot of their texture. Making a dried mushroom powder to add to dishes for that extra umami flavor is also a great way to savor them year-round.
Travel tips from a travel planner on the best days to book tours, flights and restaurants. Vineyards in Bordeaux often take the weekends off and many restaurants will have great lunch menus at half the price of dinner. What to do and when to do it!
This summer being so hot, the classical whites and crement from Bordeaux were not really interesting to me. Petnat wines, or pétillant naturel, have really come along locally. What are they and where to find a really lovely petnat wine!
So many of us who love France and wine, will dream of spending a day harvesting grapes in one of the vineyards. Is this possible? Can I work on a vineyard if I'm a tourist? Where can I find harvest employment if I can legally work?
Having tried to get here twice before, I was very pleased to finally make it and to be able to share the meal with my friend, Ira of Lost in Bordeaux. Modjo is location on Rue des Herbes, a street we pass and discuss often on our culinary tours but have never taken the time to walk down. The façade is rather austere, the interior simple and clean. The menu price of 21 EUROs for the three course lunch was another wonderful surprise and even more hard to believe once you have finished your meal. How does France do it? This would be easily a 50 USD lunch in the USA. You get three courses, but also amuse bouche (small palate 'teasers') and it ends with mignardises (the final small, bite-sized sweet after dessert). For 21 EURO. Vive la France.
Chef Sylvain Renzetti is having serious fun creating delicious dishes using molecular techniques, varied ingredients and lots of talent. Their lunch menu at 24 EURO is one of the best offers in Bordeaux, but any time of day this restaurant is one not to miss.
Chefs in Bordeaux are creating some incredibly beautiful plates, with seasonal produce and plenty of creativity! Bordeaux has so many wonderful restaurants to choose from, including this off the beaten path charmer, La Chicoula.
The Cote d'Azur is a great place to travel to year round. With beaches for summer and the Alpes in the winter, there are outdoor activities for everyone. Sailing and the charter yachting scene is also impressive, with trips for friends and family.
My summers with my husbands family from Gironde were always spent around the lunch table. Hours of sharing wonderful food cooked by his grandmother, stories about life here from his grandfather, and red wine. Always a rather bold, hearty, red wine from Pessac Leognan. Which, is what most of us think about when we come to Bordeaux the first time. However, I want to share some of my favorite Bordeaux whites (a sparkling rose) to enjoy in this sizzling summer heat.
The summer temperatures in Bordeaux can easily reach 90F, so where should you take lunch to escape the heat? Try these three options, from riverside to wine cellars, you’ll find a great meal!
Long and warm days are the best to explore the department that you will end up liking a Lot! Less known than its neighboring Dordogne, the Lot department is rich in natural beauties as much as in historical landmarks. Over the course of three road trips from Gironde, we started exploring the department, from North to South and from West to East, with younger kids, with older kids and once even leaving the kids at home.
Nea Burglund is one of the people I met and just wanted to know more about immediately. She is driven and experimental. Originally from Finland, in winemaking she wants to respect the traditional process and classical wines found in Bordeaux, but she is also very open to trying something new. Her organic and more 'experimental' wines have been a hit. In fact, she's all but sold out until the next bottling (run if you want some rose!). Which is really impressive for a relatively new winemaker. You also need to try her delicious balsamic vinegar. And stay at her newly renovated three bedroom gite on property. The perfect French countryside escape. Nea Burglund is one to watch!
While many of our Bordeaux tours are created with adults in mind, we are seeing the importance of finding ways to include our smaller travellers. Aquitaine Travel Guide is happy to help you plan a trip with your children that can include not only a family friendly food tour, but excursions into the countryside to farms to meet animals and run around in the fresh air! Contact us to help plan your trip firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisbon (Lisboa) must be the secret that everybody knows and doesn't bother keeping it for themselves. Lisbon is known for the stunning tiles or azulejo that have made this city famous for centuries. From Pastel de Nata, cod, conservas and great wines, you'll be sure to eat well in this historic city!
One of my favorite places to visit on the coast are the ostréiculture cabins that offer platters of their oysters (and shrimp, pate) with local wines on benches while sitting in the summer sun, admiring the sparkling seaside. If you can't make it there though, where can you try some fresh local oysters in Bordeaux?
Sturgeon were once plentiful in the rivers nearby, however after decades of overfishing the fish was on the verge of extinction. The sturgeons are more prized for their eggs than their flesh these days . Until the early 20th century, the eggs would have been fed to the chickens as there was little interest in the production of caviar. That changed thanks to foreign interest and the production has only grown exponentially. 'Caviar d'Aquitaine'
Classic French Restaurants in Bordeaux that have been open decades, serving up those French classics like oeufs mimosa, choucroute, sole meuniere, and the Bordeaux classic entrecote a la Bordelaise...but these beautiful historic restaurants will serve up everything from fire roasted duck to chicken ballentine!
The tasty aspect of this holiday, Chandeleur here in France, is the great amount of crêpes made, in each household, following a different recipe. My father in law is self-appointed crepe-master. He prepares, like every year, the batter 24 hours in advance, mixing fresh eggs, flour, butter, a pinch of salt and a mix of rum and pastis. There is no sugar in our mix, as the sweet will be added after being cooked.
Our first stop was for a carriage ride (balade en caleche) through the estuary, at Marais du Vigueirat. We took the tour in the late afternoon and it was rather hot this June day, so I would recommend an earlier morning visit. It was around an hour long and all in French, but the scenery was incredible and we learned a lot. Especially how important the role of the black bulls are. The course Camargue (bull fights) held in the Camargue are not to the death and the 'Razeteurs' (bull fighters) are less important than the bull.
introduce you to high quality food and local products. While passing famous locations like the Grand Theatre or Place de la Bourse, maybe we will taste caviar, oysters, Landais duck and Basque goat cheese. Our food tours include Bordeaux wine, with a description of the many styles of local wines. It's not only bold reds in Bordeaux!
My in laws tell me that back in the day in South-West France, during the months of October and November, there were so many people hunting wild pigeons (when the birds migrate flying from the northern lands towards the Iberian peninsula), that it was not possible to get married because the priest would have been at the palombiere.
We visited the east bank of the estuary right before the summer break in 2021, crossing from our home in Gironde into the department of Charente Maritime, luckily when restaurants were just restarting their on-site service. Being so close to the water, it was no surprise to learn how important the fishing sector has been throughout the years, with a few typical varieties getting the podium: the Lamprey, the Meagre (that, despite the name is of XXL size and can weight up to 55kg) and the Sturgeon that is a protected specie since 1982, after being overfished to the point of risking extinction in barely 60 years since the French "discovery" of caviar.
Located just west of Bordeaux, between the Landes pine forest and the Atlantic ocean, the mighty dune du Pilat is a great place to view both land and sea! It is almost 3km long, just a little over 106 meters high and more than 600 meters wide. Each year the measurement has to be recalculated, as the dune is still in movement and it continues to advance inland, through the forest from one to five meters per year.
The south west of France has always been a land of passage and trade: the Romans introduced the vine (la vigne), the Arabs the still (l'alembic armagnacais) and the Celts the barrel (la barrique). This is how the oldest recorded distilled wine in France came about. There are even documents citing the Armagnac as early... Continue Reading →
16th century Annonciade couvent in Bordeaux used to collect the egg yolks from the wine makers who had used the egg whites to clarify the wine (some say to seal they used the egg whites to seal the barrel but that makes less sense). The legend likes to add that they collected extra vanilla, rum and sugar shipped back from the Caribbean, and added flour and milk. It's all very romantic, and one can envision nuns in their habits looking for the spices to be scavenged from the spice storage in Chartons (now the modern art museum). However, there are some key issues with the story.
After a year of partial confinement in the French countryside, we looked forward being at sea as much as possible. Luck was on our side when friends told us they were going to Sardinia and accommodation in their same residence was available, at friend's discounted rate. Sardinia / Sardenga is an island south of the French island of Corsica. It is often thought of being filled with yachts belonging to the rich and famous. It's so much more, the natural landscapes and seemingly endless supply of beaches make it a nature lovers paradise.
The Dordogne and Perigord Noir is a magical part part of South-West France. There are museums tracing some of the earliest peoples in France. Great local delicacies like black Perigord truffle, foie gras and walnuts. The best time to visit is the fall, when the leaves are changing color and the air is crisp enough to make a fire.
Short history of sugar in Europe and the New World with links to sources to learn more.
pilgrimages towards St. Jacques de Compostela. With it's cathedral from the 12th century and beautiful brickwork, Rieux-Volvestres charm will surprise every traveler that arrives here on purpose...or by just getting lost along secondary roads boarded by the many corn and sunflowers fields.
While oyster cultivation has been occurring in our area of SW France for millennia and is a massive industry on the West Coast of France in general (France accounts for 60% of all oysters eaten in Europe, if they get the chance to leave the country). The Bassin (bay) is a large producer but mostly known for being the largest producer of baby oysters, or spat, which are then sent all over France.
Bordeaux is a great city to visit - it's a lovely, smaller version of Paris (much of Paris was designed after it's 18th century design), but many come to learn more about the wine culture of Bordeaux. If you only have one day, there is plenty to explore in town. I'd invite you to spend at least two, because visiting a producer outside of town is a must, be it the famous Chateau Pape Clement which is accessible by public transport or the intimate, family owned producer of Chateau Beard la Chapelle in the hills near Saint Emilion.
Finally, the day has come (June 9), when Americans are allowed back into France with proof of vaccination and a negative PCR covid test. Here are some things to know before you book your flight :
Where do you go to get away from it all? One of the great escapes for someone living in Bordeaux, or Gironde as a whole, is a trip to the Atlantic Coast. One of my favorite places is Cap Ferret, a peninsula that offers both Atlantic coast beaches and Bassin d'Arcachon shores which are perfect for small children. Granted, during high season it can be a like Saint Tropez in summer...filled with people, cars and boats.
A culinary tour is one of the best ways to see a new place, learn a bit of history and understand more of the culture. It's a multisensory journey...if you are looking for something a bit different, off the beaten path? find that countryside cottage or villa in the vines to cook your locally sourced products to enjoy that farm-to-table style life. If you should want to visit coastal oyster farms or the inland caviar farms...
It was written by the chef Francois Pierre or 'La Varenne', in his book 'Le Cuisinier Francois'? Nothing worthy of mentioning had been written since Taillevents' 12th century cookbook, but this new book was filled with exciting revelations since the incredible influence of Italian haute-cuisine in France, thanks to Catherine de Medici.
If you're looking for a pretty location to go with kids to visit a family owned goat farm, see historic castles, centuries old ruins, and meet a confiture artisan métier...look no further than Prechac in Gironde.
...best way to see the real France and during these covid times a great way to have fun, avoid large groups of people and support smaller communities. Captieux has a lake, Lac de Taste, incredible farms like La Ferme des Filles, is home to one of the most Northern bull rings, and is where the delectable 'puits d'amour' pastry is from! Besides selling incredible produce from seasonal vegetables to eggs on-site, La Ferme des Filles has gites to rent, will eventually run educational events (when covid allows), and offers a lovely large area for your children to roam and meet goats, sheep and chickens...
Gironde has so many beautiful places to visit, some of my favorite (especially in the summer months) are the Langon market (Friday), Verdelais, and Saint-Croix-du-Months. Ira of Lost in Bordeaux came with me a few weeks ago and her talents created a really fun video of some of my favorite places. I wanted to share the addresses and a few more if you should end up that way! A day trip from Bordeaux in Southeast Gironde / Discovering the Southwest of France - YouTube
You might wonder how to tell the good saffron from the bad safflower, why some threads costing three times as much as other 'saffron'. Well, as with many expensive food items, besides the quality, you also have to question the authenticity. It takes at least 100,000-200,000 threads of saffron to make a kilo, which sells for anywhere from 3,000-6,000 EURO. It's the most expensive spice in the world...During the pandemic of bubonic plague a war ensued called the 'Saffron War', it was so valued as a cure for the suffering that stocks in Europe were depleted and more was ordered from the East.
When I was visiting Libourne a few months ago, I realized I needed to know more and knew just the person to ask - Jennifer Poe of 'My Bordeaux Tours', who is an experienced local tour guide and American expat living in Bordeaux. She is the blogger behind 'American Mom in Bordeaux' and has worked with multiple river cruise companies offering tours to their clients. Libourne has a lot to offer any visitor from walking along the port, wandering through the old bastide section of town, a lovely fine arts museum and exploring it's variety of stores, cafes and restaurants. Especially on market days, Tuesday, Friday and Sunday mornings - this town is alive and vibrant - not just around the holidays.
Truffle Farming came up the other day when a group of us were talking about finding truffle products locally. A friend, Nola D’Enis (culinary guide and writer), was mentioning a local truffle tree farm (truffiere) not to far from us that she had written about it a few years ago called Agri-Truffe. So, I paid them a visit. I had been writing about truffles in Dordogne (the epicenter for France) and decided to go a different route, what if you want to start your own truffle farm? Here are the experiences of three different people who started truffle farms - Alain Fabregues in Australia, Casey Yangeolva in Bularia, and Loic Luzinier in France.
There are unlimited amounts of things to do with children in Aquitaine, from Atlantic coast beaches to Bordeaux parks and museums. It's a very family friendly area, with lots of great camping grounds in all price ranges (the French version of a holiday home/camping/vacation park). Most larger French towns have a beautiful old carousel which kids adore, good parks and public pools.
If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a pintade, poularde and a standard roasting chicken, this article is for you! How to find that Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey in France? Or maybe give a goose a try? Tips on cooking and some history as well.
At the bottom of the hill to Saint Macaire, the Garonne river used to touch the town and boat loads of wine would make their way to Bordeaux. Sadly, the rare Saint Macaire grape isn't grown much in the region anymore, but biodynamic producer Chateau Cazebonne will have their first bottle of 2020 Saint Macaire ready next year!
From the macaron to canele, to puits d'amour to mouchous...the SW of France has a wide variety of bite sized sweet treats! This part of France is also were chocolate is believed to have entered from Spain and makes it home to some incredible chocolate shops!
This village in South-East Gironde is a great place to come with your family! Are you wondering what to do in Bazas with your children? The arcaded centre of town is easy to walk around and has plenty of natural space surrounding the exterior wall for small children to run around. There is a nice playground, new skate park, public swimming pool all and family friendly tours with Aquitaine Travel Guide, of course!
Autumn is my favorite time to go...when the oak leaves are changing color and the air is cool and crisp. This part of South-West France has some of the most impressive seasonal landscapes. Sarlat-la-Caneda, a stunning medieval village in the Périgord Noir of Dordogne is a great place to stop if you're visiting the area.... Continue Reading →
LandesMimizanBiscarrosseSabresSanguinetLabastide-d'ArmagnacEugénie-les-BainsPerquieHossegor Surf Club How to Get There : This is a vast expanse of land, so a car is recommended. There is an airport in Dax, or you could drive down from Bordeaux. The main train stations would be Dax and Mont-de-Marsan. History : One of the least visited areas of the Aquitaine region might... Continue Reading →
One of the best surprises when visiting San Sebastian years ago, was that this incredible, vibrant and culinarily inspiring culture didn't stop at the French border. The Basque (or Iparralde in Basque) goes well into France, touching the lower half of Les Landes in Nouvelle Aquitaine. The Basque language, Euskera, like the people, one of... Continue Reading →