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.
Cannes Islands and Cote d’Azur
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.
Nea Berglund, Chateau Carsin Organic Wine, and a Cottage
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!
Catherine de Médici and her Contributions to French Cuisine
Meals at the French court of Catherine included the ancestors of unmissable classics: onion soup, known then as carabaccia, and vegetables with béchamel sauce, salsa colla (it was made using olive oil instead of butter). She loved broccoli, peas, artichokes cooked in wine and a classic of the French south west: asparagus!
Martillac and Leognan, Vineyards and Restaurants
which is an appellation created in the 1980's, but one in which wine has been made for thousands of years. In fact, the oldest wine producing chateau in the area is Chateau Pape Clement, named for Pope Clement V who started planting vines there in the 14th century.
History of Fete des Boeufs Gras
the butchers of Bazas were to offer a bull to the bishop in occasion of the celebrations of St. John (another day still honored in Bazas today). They were granted the right to parade their best cattle in the streets of the village on the Thursday before Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras in French/Shrove Tuesday).
Women of Aquitaine
Starting in 2019, we used our platform to share and promote the Women of Aquitaine. From historical figures like Aliénor of Aquitaine to modern day taste makers in wine like Chinedu Rita Rosa, we aim to highlight these incredible women who have shaped and are still influencing our world. Many are in the realm of food and wine in Bordeaux, but we cover many others like young pilots who share their images of the Bassin d'Arcachon, or photographers sharing the lives of female fisherman off the coast of La Rochelle.
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'
Classical French Restaurants in Bordeaux
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!
Chandeleur and Crepes
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.
La Camargue Estuary and Le Grau du Roi
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.
The Palombiere and Wild Pigeon (Palombe) hunting in France
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.
Bordeaux and the Gironde Estuary
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.
Largest Sand Dune in Europe near Arcachon
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.
Every Food has a Story – the Canelé
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.
Sarlat-la-Caneda in Perigord
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.
Sweet Salt, Sugar and the New World
Short history of sugar in Europe and the New World with links to sources to learn more.
Charming Village of Rieux-Volvestre in Haute-Garonne
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.
Wine Tourism and Bordeaux
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.
Americans Travel Back to France!
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 :
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