Gensac, Saint Emilion and Dordogne

Over two days we made the most of staying in one of the world’s most famous wine regions by drinking endless amounts of rose, tasting wine at picturesque vineyards and nosing about a famous chateau formerly owned by a topless dancer (yeah…more about that later).

meinwineEarly one morning we toured a vineyard  called Chateau la Croizille- here they dominantly make Saint Emilion grand cru merlot, which we sampled (and by that, we mean drink every last drop in our glass) while overlooking their vineyards.

vineyardsAfter our tour and tasting we decided to polish off our glasses of breakfast wine with a proper lazy French lunch inside Saint Emilion. 

meinfrontofpurpledoorThe entire village is a tourist trap, so no matter where you eat you are bound to find English menus and less than local cuisine. Knowing this we decided to go for the cafe with a view of the cathedral and say, c’est la vie, about the food. 

meltingcheeseBeing in the countryside it felt only right to order a provincial dish of galette with Reblochon cheese, potato and bacon. It’s a definite must for stinky cheese addicts who like ones that smell like dirty gym socks. 

mewkeyDuring lunch our waiter told us to ask for a key at the tourist desk, which allows you to climb up to the top of the cathedral. Possessed with this new local knowledge I began sneaking towards the desk like James Bond, careful not to have anyone else overhear me. After whispering about ‘the key’ and giving 1 Euro in exchange, we were handed the keys to the cathedral. What a bargain. countrysideGetting to the top means climbing over 190 stairs but don’t these 360 degree views make it all worth it? 

houses

door5Each Monday is market day so we all rose early hoping to buy dinner to cook that evening. pumpkinWhat we soon discovered was that here in Gensac the food is not only fresh, it is also comically enormous. oystersAfter making a few old farmers laugh by pointing and giggling at their vegetables on steroids, we discovered an oyster stand. For 12 Euros you could get a dozen oysters shucked for you, so of course we caved and decided that this trip was all about new breakfast traditions. winetastingAfter the market we went wine tasting and I mean that in the most untraditional way. The owner of the vineyard throws an empty bottle into a vat of half-fermented Savignon and pulls up a 14% strong serving for us to sample. It was the most rustic tasting we’ve ever had. 

wineinaholeAfter swaggering out his vineyard we headed all the way over to Dordogne, which is about 2 hours away. 

meandthewindow

castleOur destination was this Beauty and the Beast castle called Cheateau des Milandes. It was once owned by Josephine Baker, a 1920s singer, actor and dancer famous for wearing a belt made of fabric bananas and nothing else! Oh lala. It was a strange thing being in France and touring a museum full of her show costumes. The castle was also full of exotic birds who perform for guests throughout the day. Having a phobia of birds I stood well back and wondered the grounds instead. 

initials

castleshadows cowsAfter the castle, we started heading back home when we were greeted by this gorgeous sunset- isn’t this just rural perfection? What a perfect end to my French vacation. 

Bordeaux Day Two

Our second day in Bordeaux was a Sunday and, for all those who don’t know, this means that the entire of France closes.

Luckily for us though there is one big food trend spreading through France faster than the gourmet burger bar and that is ‘le brunch’. It feels that every restaurant worth their salt is now taking on Sunday brunch in their own French way so it was just a matter of finding the best in Bordeaux.

Turns out I actually discovered the best brunch in France, not just Bordeaux, and let’s not forget I’ve lived in Lyon and Paris. 

mewithdoor

walkingwithdoorAnother gorgeous French day in October and I’m ready to hobble off to brunch. 

doorposingjulesThe cafe is hidden on the rooftop of a contemporary museum and is a real local secret.

terrace(This is the view from the entranceway when you arrive at the cafe. Who would suspect that above a dark, half constructed museum lies a foodie goldmine? )

On a sunny day this is the ideal place to enjoy ‘le brunch’. The large terrace outside sits dozens of people and there’s even a separate area for those wanting to lay on deck chairs with an ‘express’ coffee and a newspaper.

The brunch was completely gourmet (but, of course, this is France)- so shake any ideas of watered scrambled eggs and undercooked bacon that you may have seen at mediocre hotels. 

brunching Guests are offered crispy bacon, provincial sausages, roast salted potatoes, eggs to order, smoked salmon, prawns, a variety of salads and let’s not even talk yet about the dessert and pastries.

With our plates heaving we walked back to our terrace table, sat in the sun and lazily consumed kilos of food.

brunchrooftopAfter we had, had enough of the savoury stuff we moved onto the main event- le dessert. Mini creme brûlées, pain au chocolate, croissants, organic lemon yoghurt, raspberry posset, brownies, waffles and crepes with chocolate sauce. I felt I had been let loose to run wild inside Willy Wonka’s factory.

breakfastdessert

melaughingWish I could tell you what was making me laugh so hard but us three girls have got to have some secrets. I’m just thankful Jules captured me enjoying the moment. 

scarf

CAPCOn our way home my obsession with French doors continued.

whitedoorsWhat can I say- Je t’adoor! (hehe)

bordeaux doors bluedoorWe took one final snapshot before we left the apartment to drive onto Gensac- a small village about an hour from Bordeaux in wine country.

the3ofusOur home away from home. 

kitchenapartment

kitchenapartment2As the taxi pulled up, I hobbled over to take one snapshot of this amazing boulangerie. Our Air BnB host suggested we try their croissants, which we quickly realised were the best we’ve ever had. Particularly when served with raspberry Bonne Maman fruit compote.  Going here is a must if you love pastries, and I mean, who doesn’t like a croissant or four?  

bestboulangerie

If you’ve been to Bordeaux- tell me what you did so next time I go back (as there will definitely be a next time) I can tick off more local tips.