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).
Early 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.
After our tour and tasting we decided to polish off our glasses of breakfast wine with a proper lazy French lunch inside Saint Emilion.
The 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.
Being 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.
During 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. Getting to the top means climbing over 190 stairs but don’t these 360 degree views make it all worth it?
Each Monday is market day so we all rose early hoping to buy dinner to cook that evening. What we soon discovered was that here in Gensac the food is not only fresh, it is also comically enormous. After 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. After 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.
After swaggering out his vineyard we headed all the way over to Dordogne, which is about 2 hours away.
Our 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.