Bordeaux

Do you know the feeling of floating at the surface of a dream, fighting to stay in it rather than wake to reality?

That’s how I felt in Bordeaux.

On one hand, we were in a new, stunning city which was ripe for adventure. On the other hand, I couldn’t get it out of my mind that these were the last precious hours of our stay in France. We bade farewell to our trusty rental car, hailed a cab, and as we watched Bordeaux from the window, we took a moment to seriously discuss canceling our flight back all together.

But no, what would we do without Wyatt???

So we kept our flight home at the back of our minds, and checked into our last lodging: Le Boutique Hotel Bordeaux.

Le Boutique Hotel Bordeaux is host to quaint lodgings named after local wines, a gorgeous shaded courtyard where they served tapas and wine, and a cozy parlor complete with wine glass chandeliers and a giant chess board. Luckily for us, they also provided huge umbrellas…because just as we set out to explore, it started to rain.

 

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

 

Undeterred by the weather, we set out to explore. We were told that Rue-Sainte-Catherine was the place to go for shops and sights. Though it boasts many recognizable brand names and some enticing (though heftily priced) smaller shops, we abandoned the busy rue for a quiet square bordered by cafés. At this point we had imbibed in so much wine that the sight of a cold beer alone was enough to make us sigh with envy. So we plopped down at an outdoor table, reveling in the momentary dry sky, and unwound with a few cold ones.

 

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

 

Fueled by biére and starving for dinner, we went in search of the most epic of all epic steak frites. I poured through reviews, surveyed menus, evaluated authenticity, and finally settled on…Le Bar du Boucher. It’s a humble enough restaurant, with it’s rustic wood tables and dark bar. But once we took our seats at a little table outside, we immediately felt at home. With a bottle of wine and a plate of pain tomate and jambon, we tried to decipher the cuts of beef on the menu. Just as we were about to give up and take our chances, the waiter ushered us inside to a butcher’s counter. Every cut of beef was there, right in front of us, fresh as could be. We decided on our cuts, gave an order of weight, and left our steaks to be delivered a few feet to the chef. Um, amazing right? You know what else is amazing? The steak was served with duck fat frites.

 

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

 

End. Of. Story.

The rest of the night was a happy blur.

Our final day was spent meandering. We saw the infamous Le Mirior D’eau (water mirror) which wasn’t all too reflective, being splashed with fat raindrops. Never-the-less I took off my shoes and splashed around, looking like a bit of a lunatic I’m sure.

 

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

 

Our self guided tour took us through quiet squares, around grand fountains, and into a mini Notre Dame. Stopping only for pastries at Paul’s and Macarons et petit cafe at Baillardran, we walked until we could walk no more. Hours later, we sought shelter once again back at the hotel; showering, napping, and sipping champagne until dinner.

 

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

 

For our final meal of the trip, we went big. Le Noailles was perfection, from cocktails to dessert. Our waiter was patient with our French, but periodically broke into perfect English to tell us about the menu or ask questions about us and about America. He brought us some lovely marinated olives to start, as well as a beer for Mike and a Lillet and Champagne cocktail for myself. (I’m still working on re-creating that one).

We started with the most fresh salmon tartare, which we wolfed down in a decidedly un-French way. Oh well. C’est la vie.

There was a plate of delicate buttery diver scallops in a wild mushroom sauce for Mike, and the most perfect seared duck breast for me (along with a skillet of frites on the side, of course).

 

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

 

Finally, lingering over the last of our wine and willing the night not to end, our darling waiter surprised us with a very festive display of the dessert we ordered! I personally think it’s an outrageously fun thing when one’s dessert almost singes one’s eyebrows clean off! It could not have been a lovelier evening, and if we ever find ourselves in Bordeaux again (fingers crossed), we will most definitely become Le Noailles regulars.

 

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

BORDEAUX, FRANCE // Hourglass & Bloom

 

France, you are missed. You will be held in a very special place in our hearts.

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

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Listing.

Butter Love // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com

 

eating // a handful of low-fat cheezits because I accidentally bought that box rather than the full-fat (ahem full-flavor) ones

drinking // agua

learning // about the spa services at our hotel this weekend! let the first anniversary celebrations begin…

finishing // the final blog post on the final part of our trip to France

reading // “The Far Sweet Thing” by Libba Bray

enjoying // the bountiful coolness from the second fan we finally bought

listening // to Spotify because I’m ten thousand years behind the times and I just discovered it’s superiority to Pandora

needing // a tan

wearing // the only Lululemon top I own, only because my old roommate gave it to me after she got tired of it

cooking // nothing at the moment, but planning an epic sandwich using leftover chicken curry from last night

working // on a love letter

traveling // to Palm Desert with my love!

thinking // back on a year ago, to our wedding…

The French Countryside

Our time out in the country was freakin’ magnificent. Yep. That’s my way of saying it.

Tucked away among the giant wheels of hay, sprawling lines of grapes and acres of fig trees, there is a magical place called Domaine Les Jourdis. Back in the states when I was pouring over Expedia, Booking and Yelp, I had the sheer luck of stumbling upon this oasis. I booked it immediately, hoping that its myriad glowing reviews weren’t some kind of hoax.

Ohhhhhh they were not a hoax at all.

 

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

 

With just a handful of rooms and a separate family-sized gite, Domaine Les Jourdis is the epitome of a chic yet casual B&B. Proprietors Antoinette and her husband Didier are lovely hosts, boasting fluency in five languages between them. Once you get past the enthusiastic greeting of their trusty dalmatian, Fiji, they welcome you with open arms and warm smiles.

Our cottage (originally a small stable, the old beamed ceiling and stone walls remained) was heaven on earth. Bigger than most of my apartments have been, it housed a huge canopy bed, separate lounging area, and large bathroom complete with a crazy disco jacuzzi tub! Really, it lit up and everything!

Over the next four days we lounged by the pool and took a long hike about the grounds with Fiji. We ventured into Sainte Foy la Grande, accidentally discovered a huge grocery store, and had the most simple yet epic picnic of my life.

 

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

 

We enjoyed the bustle of the night market in Duras, celebrating with new and old friends over bottles of rosé and cartons of moules and frites.

 

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside #DurasNightMarket

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside #DurasNightMarket

IMG_7672

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside #DurasNightMarket

 

We attended the wedding of dear friends, a ceremony high on a hill in Monteton, then a gorgeous reception at a vineyard.

 

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

DOMAINE LES JOURDIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Duras #FrenchCountryside

 

I will never forget our time there. My breath catches in my chest when I think back on our adventures, on the romance, on the saccharine simplicity.

I can still hear the bells of the church tower down the road, smell the rain on dirt paths and ancient vines, hear the commotion of the night market dimmed slightly by the copious amounts of wine in my system, feel the warmth of my husband’s hand in mine as we took in the violet sunsets lighting up over the fields, taste the ripe tomatoes and unctuous camembert of our picnic washed down with two bottles of Saint-Emilion wine.

I hope that if you ever find yourself driving through the rolling hills just outside of Bordeaux, that you will look up Domaine Les Jourdis. I doubt that you could have a bad time anywhere in this gorgeous region, but I can’t recommend the extra special hospitality of Antoinette and Didier enough. And if you’re a dog lover…I’m sure you’ll find the hound Fiji as unforgettable as we did.

 

 

 

 

 

I Left My Heart in Saint-Émilion

After a four hour train ride slicing South through the country, we arrived in Bordeaux. Then, after checking in with Avis and signing a few papers, we  sat in our cute little Citroen  for about half an hour trying in vain to switch the navigation system to English.

 

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

 

No such luck.

That’s okay! We’re savvy intrepid travelers with a firm grasp on five phrases in French! We can handle this! Gingerly we crept around around a few corners, scooted onto the highway, and with every mile we became more confident. It wasn’t long after we had mastered “Droit” and “Gauche” (right and left) that we were at our destination!

Saint-Émilion is an insanely picturesque town perched on a hillside about thirty minutes outside of Bordeaux proper. Though it’s widely known for it’s outstanding wine, we came to love it for so much more.

Romans planted vines here around the 2nd century, the Cordeliers constructed their safe-house of a cloister in the mid-1300’s, and the monolithic church began it’s emersion from a limestone cliff in the 11th century. So much history, and to this day it’s all still there to see and touch and drink in!

 

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

 

We stayed at Les Logis du Roy, a quaint set of apartments situated above a wine shop in the heart of town. The “Magnum” suite hosted us with a very large living room, fully equipped kitchen, big bright bathroom, and a lovely bedroom with views of the garden below. They had thoughtfully stocked the fridge with the basics: ham, cheese, eggs, milk, etc. In an even more thoughtful gesture, pastries and a baguette were delivered to our door in the morning! Heaven.

Despite wanting to collapse into bed with a plate of those welcome goodies, we quickly unpacked and hit the cobblestone streets.

Knowing the town was far to small to get lost in, we just set out wandering. Wine shops line just about every street, tempting us with their wares. We stopped for a quick lunch of gallettes in a courtyard shadowed by towering romanesque church, and then treated ourselves to ice creams from a shop around the corner before carrying on our way.

 

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

 

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

 

I can’t get enough of old churches. I love how they smell, I love the corners of candles lit for loved ones, I love the damp cool emanating from the age-old stone, I love the quiet passageways and imagining all the secrets of the past. In contrast to the bustle of Notre Dame, the churches and cloisters here offer a beautifully quiet sanctuary to reflect.

 

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

 

Or…drink bubbly.

Fast-forward to the next morning. (The ever-present jet-lag combined with the town’s delicious wine resulted in a fuzzy evening which there are few photos to document). MUCH more bright-eyed, we awoke with a penchant for day drinking. Because……….vacation, right?

Promise me that if you’re ever in Saint-Émilion, that you will day drink. And you will start your debauchery at Cloître des Cordeliers. Go to the counter and order a bottle  glass of their vintage dry rosè, THEN customize a little picnic basket and carry it out into the courtyard or garden out back and toast the Cordeliers with a little bit o’ the Sacrament!

 

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

 

 

Warmed by the sunshine and a morning buzz, we carried our merriment into town for more! Every shop we visited offered a casual tasting, and some even let you walk through their cool, dark caves packed with barrels and ancient dusty bottles. My favorite shop, across from our apartment, not only gave us a stellar tasting line-up but fed us delicious foie gras! We bought four tins of the sinful and politically incorrect deliciousness and immediately stuffed them to the depths of our suitcase so as not to be tempted to eat it all at once.

 

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside

 

Eventually we sobered up by one final hike up and down the steep streets, and had to pull ourselves away from Saint-Émilion’s embrace. We got in our trusty Citroen and drove away, deeper into the countryside, on to our next adventure.

 

Saint-Emilion // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com #Travel #SaintEmilion #FrenchCountryside