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.
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.
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'
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.
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.
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.
ArcachonRoute Du Cap FerretAvenue Nord Du PhareVillage Ostréicole de l'Herbe 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... Continue Reading →
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...
From Bordeaux you can take a non-stop flight on multiple airlines, generally for under 50 EURO round-trip if you are flexible date-wise. I flew Volotea this time, which has a lot of great priced flights from Bordeaux....If not, find a tour. Mine, naturally, was food focused, light hearted and really fun. It was around three hours long and took you into the belly of Naples...Take a ferry from Naples to any of the Islands, Capri is beautiful but I spent to many summers only seeing that island, so on this trip I decided to go to Procida
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
Reunion Island is an actively volcanic island, which has a fascinating history. When first discovered there was very little animal life and had never been inhabited...while the origins of vanilla are Central and South American, prior attempts to grow the beans in Europe always failed. The natural pollinators were a special species of bees that didn't live in Europe, but this was not known at the time. A slave, a young boy by the name of Edmund Albias, created the hand pollination method and completely transformed the vanilla industry.
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.