Sunday, June 18, 2017

Life in Bordeaux this Spring

A small update of our Springtime
 As I was out shopping this morning, wandering through a fresh local fruit & vegetable market, I glanced around and just felt wonderful.  Life here lately has been hectic, stressful at times but overall just delightful.  I thought I would take a few minutes and do a life update as we finish out the school year and start summer plans.

It's definitely been  feeling like summer here for the past month plus...we had an early warm Spring and now it's getting's the time of year - we eat outside more and the evenings are longer.  Here in Southwestern France - it doesn't get dark out until close to 10 pm now....that's been making it more and more difficult to get my youngest to bed on time!!  
School is still in session for the younger kids until July 7th!  Long oldest is now done, on summer break and my middle schooler will be finished with classes on the 27th of June. Then summer begins....well at least for the girls!!  

I will be working the month of July - so I can enjoy the benefits of vacation in August!!  But if you follow my facebook and instagram - you know already that I love my job and it enables me to enjoy the wonders of this area and share it with visitors...
 I have branched out a bit this year (as I'm self employed) and I'm now working for a couple other river boat cruise lines, in addition to my primary work with Viking Cruises. I  have worked with Scenic cruises and AMA Cruises in addition to some Ocean Cruise ships that arrive in port.  I love the variety of the passengers - Americans, British, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and a mix of other nationalities.  For the most part, many are surprised by the beauty of our city of Bordeaux and many fall in love with the region seeing many of our highlights.  Yes, it's wine and castles, but a great variety and each area offers something special!  I am working on a post sharing more about our local guide team for Viking Cruises and how some of you might be able to also enjoy some of these lovely day trips!  (coming soon!)
This week alone - I was up in the Medoc Region at Grand Cru classe -Chateau Prieure Lichine with guests and also South of Bordeaux in the Sauternes region showing off our Sweet whites at Premiere Grand Cru Classe - Chateau Giraud.
This area has so much to offer and it really gives me energy as I share it with visitors.  My job has become my passion and it's an honor to be able to show it off as I'm able with these companies.  Hence, unfortunately the blog suffers a bit due to my increasing work load.  Not complaints though.
Yes, I know I'm lucky and I continue to enrich my knowledge about the various places we visit - this area is so rich is history, not only about wine but history and life in general - the on-going learning process.

In addition to being a dynamic growing city, the pace of life here is more laid back than other big cities.  We are not fast paced like New York or Paris...and here in Bordeaux - everyone loves to be outside whenever possible.

It could be for a picnic on the key side (or quais), it could be wandering through a local park or square, or just taking a coffee or drink at a local is for enjoying what is here.
Even while working, when my clients are enjoying some free-time - I enjoy a nice coffee and savor the moment. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting one of my favorite French bloggers from the States - French Girl in Seattle.  Of course, we met over coffee and lunch outside - where else would one meet in Bordeaux? 

A glass (or 2) of Rose is always very refreshing on a hot day!  and yes, more and more Bordeaux wine Chateaux's are making Rose.  It's the new thing in this region!
Finally, the month of May was full of many long weekends (due to Catholic and national holidays). At the end of May we chose to rent a friend's house out in the Dordogne area, near the town of Bergerac.  It was paradise there - we had a sunny hot weekend and relished staying by the pool and barbecuing.
On Saturday morning we wandered into the town of Sainte Foy la Grande for their weekly town market and took in all the scents and visual pleasures of fresh produce, seafood, meats and cheeses of the region.  In addition to enjoying many artisans.  My youngest had a great time showing us all her favorites French delicacies!
This is Spring in Bordeaux!  It feels like summer and lets us enjoy the weekends as we approach the full Summer holiday.  The girls will be done with school soon...and then true summer begins for them.  My oldest at 16 is looking for part-time babysitting jobs, in between times with her friends...then it will be off on vacation for some family time away.
 I will be trying to write more and continue to share this beautiful region with everyone.  If you are on facebook, twitter or instagram, you will see more photos of our daily life.  I wish everyone a great start to summer!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Lac Bleu - Parc Forestier in Leognan - Gironde

Parc Forestier du Lac Bleu - Leognan

It's still school vacation and  we chose this vacation to stay around the area.  This plan has given the girls time to relax and just do whatever they felt like doing.  This has been a great motto for the week - sleeping in, taking our time getting up, no pressure to be anywhere and the freedom to choose a plan each day.  A bit of refresh and rejuvenate.

However, I'm a firm believer in getting outside and taking in the fresh air, so we tried each afternoon to find something to do. (Honestly, there were a couple of gloomy rainy days)  Perhaps it was as simple as walking to the local park/playground or just riding around the neighborhood on bikes.  Honestly, it's sometimes hard to get the teenagers out of the house!  A couple of days we ventured further out and today we choose to take a picnic to a local lake and hang out for the afternoon with friends.

We spent a lovely afternoon exploring this new area.  This is lac Bleu - a small lake located in Leognan just west of Bordeaux.  It was a mere 20 minute drive from my house.  Of course this is "off season" but it was still a nice area to explore and just sit. It's a park that's advertised as a relaxing place to picnic and walk around.  Fishing is even permitted in season.
We choose to have our picnic lunch right next to the lake, there was just something about being close to the shoreline.   There was a picnic area, complete with tables located on the East side of the lake, but it was further from the water. Once we settled our picnic spot, we were joined by many ducks who were of course, looking for a hand-out.  I'm sure if we started throwing bread at them, we would have had many more visit.

After we had our lunch, my friend and I decided to walk the perimeter trail of the lac.  A short walk around but it was nice and peaceful.  The girls were just having a great time playing and talking to each other.

As we returned back to the main side, we chose to enjoy a coffee at the café/restaurant located right next to the lake.  A nice way to end the meal.  The girls decided to hang on the patio and talk while my friend and I enjoyed our coffee in the enclosed terrace.  I'm sure in nice weather, this whole area has a beautiful open-aire feel and attracts many to stop and enjoy the view.  The restaurant serves lunch daily. 

 So after enjoying a nice picnic, a causal stroll and a coffee, it was time to head back home.  It's definitely an area that I would head back to, in nice weather.  A bonus that it's a mere 20 minutes from the house - a great place to take an afternoon or evening walk.  A nice place to take in some serenity and escape a little from the city life.  A welcome oasis located just outside of the Bordeaux.

Parc Forestier du Lac Bleu
Chemin des Terres Rousses 33850 LEOGNAN

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Saint Paul de Vence - Beautiful Hill village - Cote d'Azur

St Paul de Vence - Exquisite beauty on the hill

Today we are going to travel a bit down South to the Cote d'Azur.  It's Winter vacation currently and I'm dreaming of summer and travel, so I wanted to share a bit from a trip in the summer of 2015.  We spent a week on the Cote d'Azur and explored the surrounding area.  It has such a different feel than the Southwest where we live.  This is one of the beautiful hill villages located just to the North.

St Paul de Vence is probably the most well known hill villages of the Côte d'Azur mostly due to its association with some of the world's greatest artists.  Over the years names such as Picasso, Chagall, Matisse and many more have either lived here or been inspired by it.  The town has one of the best private modern art collections in the world, the Maeght Foundation, and nowadays the whole village is full of art galleries and studios.  It's an art lovers paradise and it's truly beautiful, a sight to be seen.  The narrow lanes are perfectly cobble paved and every building is renovated and maintained to a high standard.  The downside to this is that it gets very crowded, especially in the summer.

St Paul (as it's known locally without the Vence) is one of the oldest medieval villages on the French Riviera and its ramparts, constructed in 1540 under Francois 1eme, are still pretty much fully intact.  In the Middle Ages this village produced wine, olives, oranges and figs but this declined over the years until the twentieth century when numerous well-known artists made it their home base.

It was a beautiful winding drive into the hills and we arrived to park our car in a lot on the outskirts of town and then we walked into the village.  I loved the local feel, the relaxed atmosphere of the residents, some of whom were planning a game of petanque. 
As we walked past, I was taken by a lovely sculpture garden just sitting to the right near the church. I loved the cat and the girl sitting on the globe.  Each of them unique in their own right, and there was beauty in the juxtaposition of the old medieval buildings and these modern sculptures.
We started wandering down the main street.  I love the warmth of the stone and the narrow cobble paved street.  You can see from the photos that it's now shop after shop after gallery all open for visitors.  I found many of the gallery very original and beautiful  Truly a mecca of lots of artistic talent housed in this little village.
The village is kept up beautifully and the flowers, fountains, plants and trees all add to this beauty of an oasis located high in the hill tops.
I loved this sign - which translates to I create, I make it and I sell it (in my studio).  Such a great philosophy for inspiration and motivation.

As we walked the length of the village we found ourselves exiting out along the medieval ramparts to see the beauty of the hills and the mountains that surround us.  It is truly breathtaking.
We wandered back between the village and the outer wall, spying beautiful gates, stairs and narrow walkways.  It's a vibrant, thriving village, full of life, art and stunning medieval architecture. 
At the end of the wonderful warm afternoon in the shade of an Olive tree, we enjoyed some delicious ice cream.  The flavor - one specifically unique to this area - Lavender and yes, was it divine!!
So if you are traveling around France, the Cote d'Azur is not to be missed and especially driving up into the hill villages.  Are you ready to book your vacation yet?    I know I'm looking forward to returning soon.

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