Where to Find Solitude in Gironde

I don’t know about everyone else…but I’ve been in need of some quiet time after the months of isolation and having the children at home all day! The weather will hopefully change soon too 🙂

Overnight in a Tree House at Moulin de Laboirie (Cabane Perchee)

About 10 minutes from the vibrant village of Bazas with its many restaurants, charming shops and Saturday market, you have the calm of the Sud-Gironde countryside. Small historic towns, thousand-year-old churches and herds of cattle dot the pastural landscape. After driving behind the church in the village of Saint-Come, further into the trees, you’ll arrive at the Moulin de Laborie. This is a house rental with tree house, completely independant from the owner, Jan, who lives on site. The large guest house (that can accommodate ten comfortably) has a heated pool, outdoor grill, and communal kitchen. There is also a separate tree house with it’s own balcony for enjoying a nice glass of Graves and watching the sunset (tree house alone is 140 EURO a night). It’s a great place to escape the crowds and appreciate the natural surroundings. Perfect for small groups wanting to self isolate. Private educational trips to local farms to choose your fresh, local foods for meals can also be arranged / https://moulindelaboirie.fr/cabane-perchee/ / 1 Laboirie, 33430 Saint-CĂ´me, France / +33 (0)5 56 25 47 92 / info@moulindelaboirie.fr

 

Guest Houses and Spa at Chateau Latour Segur

This château is about 15 minutes from Saint Emilion has really beautiful guest houses, with fireplaces, large Italian showers or two person tubs, and individual garden areas to host couples or families. Their Spa, TerreHappy, is calm and welcoming but also reasonably priced. The owner is super personable and charming and the estetician, Jemma, is so talented! JUNE 2020 – At 50 EURO per person, you can escape for the day to enjoy yoga, meditation, nature walks, spa (treatments extra) and lunch (15 EURO supplement) at the Chateau Latour Segur every Saturday through the month. Retreats are open to six people maximum due to covid regulations / www.chateaulatoursegur.com / 1 Rue Latour, Lussac, Aquitaine, France 33570 / +33 (0)6 24 53 75 50 /

More information and photos on Chateau Latour Segur can be found here

boats

 

Boating on the Bassin d’Arcachon in a sailboat or pinasse

After working for years in yachting, I don’t find anything more relaxing and serene than being on the water. Blessed to never feel sick, the lulling of a boat is a sedative for me! I haven’t had the chance to do individual boating experiences in the Bassin but we have done a larger group excursion from Arcachon to Le Canon with stops along the way, and it’s honestly the best way to enjoy our area. There are plenty of sailing boats and the elegant, classic ‘pinasse‘ for taking a few hours or a day out…some even with a picnic supplied (of course local oysters will always be on the menu!). Starting rates for a smaller, private vessel with captain, are around 200 EURO for two hours. I’m waiting to hear back for my own individual trip this weekend (weather hopefully will change for the better), so I’ll keep you posted! Until then, check out these options :

https://www.bateliers-arcachon.com/ (who we used for my group, did a great tour, on time and very budget friendly)

https://pylayachting.com/

https://www.croisierejouvence.fr/

https://www.clickandboat.com/location-bateau/arcachon (for private individuals who take you out, where I’ve found the boat I’ll go out on this weekend hopefully)

Skiing in the Pyrenees

If you have ever been to the Alps, you cannot compare the skiing available nearby in the Pyrenees (try going to Andorra in that case). Within three hours from Bordeaux (or Bazas) you can get a wintery experience at either of these nearby locations.*

Gourette : A small, low altitude, affordable, family ski village created in the 1960’s with a good selection of trails 

The good + There are 39 pistes in Gourette, a snow park for trying out tricks, sledding and dog sled run (when snowfall is good), and a hot tub.

The instructors are really great with kids and introduction lessons for 3-4 year old kids with Ecole du Ski Francais start at 61 EURO for 2×2 hour courses during the weekend. An adult ski pass costs 37.50 EURO for the day. Secured parking is also very reasonable. Adult ski rental equipment from SkiSet starts at 18 EURO a day (13.50 if booked in advance online).

The restaurant selection is OK, you can get cheese fondue with morelles at La Quebotte if you book in advance. Lots of garbure (traditional Gasconne soup) and even palombe are on offer, depending where you dine. There is the Maison Casaux, a cute coffee shop with patisserie, decorated in skiing antiques and mountain bric-a-brac. 

There didn’t seem to be an particular hotel but lots of apartment rentals and chalets. There are groceries, cheese shops, bakery and a butcher by foot.

The bad – Outside of skiing, there is not much to do.

Saint Lary Soulan : A charming mountain village with slopes for families and experienced skiers, spas and thermal indoor pools.

The good + Saint Lary and its 58 pistes has a snow park and toboggan run, but so much more…so it’s a great place to go if you have people in your group who don’t want to ski.

There are lessons with ESF for beginners under 5 years, starting at 36 EURO for one 2-hour lesson. Ski passes can be booked online and start at 44 EURO for an adult day pass. Most hotels have free parking and there is plenty on the street as well.

The main town of Saint Lary has a good selection of shops and little stores to buy the gateau a la broche – a delicious cookie/cake that is cooked over an open fire and resembles a pine tree. There is a great selection of restaurants serving everything from galettes to local beef, even wine bars for socializing like Le Balthazar.

My favorite place to stay in the town is the Mercure Sensoria, they have a NUXE spa and decent restaurant attached, lovely lounge area with fire place for after skiing and are just at the bottom of the tele-cabin to the slopes. They are great with kids and offer a small play area with PlayStation and sitting area to read their books. Prices can be as low as 200 EURO a night for a family, but go up in season and tend to book fast. They also offer a pool and play area with thermal spa waters, which is also available to the public.

The bad – It is more expensive than Gourette for the basics and most everything is in the village if you don’t want to ski.

*All reviews are based on first hand experience

 

Barcelona

I’m writing about Barcelona because that’s where my culinary tours really took off. I started working for Context Travel, working with Voulez-Vous Diner (now called MamazSocialFood), hosting guests at my apartment for dinners, and blogging about the food scene in Barcelona (link if you want to read my old blog Bon Gust BCN).

While in Barcelona, I lead market, chocolate, and tapas tours throughout the city and to this day I continue to advise travelers on the city and take clients. Besides the beautiful architecture and beaches, they have a unique food culture compared to the rest of Spain. Catalan cuisine has shared a lot of influence with France (just ask which came first, the crema Catalana or the creme brĂťlĂŠe) and unique flavors, such as their love of ‘surf and turf’ and squid ink, which can be found in many dishes.

Oh yes, and the drinks! From cava to Priorat, vermut and local beers…you will drink well.

What I discovered while working in Barcelona, was that I loved sharing local food experiences with people visiting. Where someone might mistake the ‘local’ cuisine to be paella and tapas…which is not Catalan and not local…I was able to introduce to fideua catalane or butifarra. So, I’ve taken this love and have been working for years to create a tour focusing on local cuisine and products in the Bordeaux region (Bazas Farm to Table Tour) which is now also offered through Context Travel. I feel like it’s all come full circle and I’m really looking forward to 2020!

anne tour guide barcelona

Tapas Tour of Barcelona – Bodega 1900

If you want some tips on traveling to Barcelona, check out this article on Conde Nast Traveler and avoid the Ramblas any time after 10am. There are so many interesting cultural things to do in the city, so don’t spend all your time in one area. Buy tickets to museums and Sagrada Familia in advance. You can walk everywhere generally, but if you want to use the metro, buy the T-10 metro pass. Try to stay outside of the main old town areas like Gotico, Raval, and Barceloneta if you don’t like a lot of noise. If you are traveling to Barcelona soon, feel free to contact me with any questions!

 

Bazas Food and Farm Tour

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  • 10am Visit fois gras farm to learn how fois gras is made and taste products
  • 11am Bazas tour of city and learn the history of this UNESCO cathedral village
  • 1230pm Stop by butcher who will show us the famous Bazadais beef cuts
  • 1pm Lunch of Bazadais beef cooked by chef and owner of local restaurant
  • 3pm Visit goat cheese farm

 

 

 

Boucherie Bazas Tbone,entrecote and rumpstakeTour, with translator and guide starts at 100 Euro per person (two person minimum) and includes all visiting fees, tasting fees, and a lunch of Bazadais beef with dessert and one glass of graves wine. Tours offered on Monday, Thursday and Friday.

Please be sure to advise of any food allergies or aversions at least one week in advance.

Can also include chauffeured car with pick up from nearby train station in Langon, please contact us for pricing.

Please bring comfortable clothing and closed toe shoes (preferably ones you don’t mind getting a little dirty)

Feel free to ask questions and have fun! These are small farms and this is the livelihood for these farmers / butchers / chefs and their families and they are happy to share their passions with you!

This tour will happen, rain or shine, so please dress for the occasion 😊