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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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

 

 

 

48 Hours in Paris

Having touched down on the tarmac at CDG, I was far too excited about finally being in Paris that I immediately forgot the sleeplessness and jet-lag. Little did I know that over the next three hours we were to discover a missing bag and the less-than-comforting promises of AirFrance employees that it would turn up in no time at all. But I won’t go into that now.

What could we do but try to push it to the depths of our minds and carry on. After all, we still had one bag…and we were in PARIS!

The Hotel Banke in the Opera District welcomed us warmly and we checked into our lovely little room. Though on the small side (we had heard this is the norm in the city anyway), Hotel Banke’s comfort and luxurious little touches shine through. From the lobby, with it’s gold lamé couches and cloches full of whimsical what-nots, to the exceptional staff, to the fresh roses in every room – let’s just say it was an amazing home base for our time in the city.

After a quick (ahem accidentally three hour) cat nap, we freshened up and hit the streets. It’s true what they say about Paris being quiet in August. But I have to say, I loved it. Finding our way among the scattered street patterns was at first tricky, but we soon got it down and ten minutes later we were in Jardin Du Tuileries. The gardens were everything I expected: prim paths lined with perfect flowers, dotted with towering feminine sculptures and the occasional fountain surrounded by picnicking Parisians. The sun was just beginning to fall towards the horizon, bathing the entire city in a prolonged sunset of pure gold. I’m telling you, it was magic.

 

48 HOURS IN PARIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com

 

48 HOURS IN PARIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com

48 HOURS IN PARIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com

48 HOURS IN PARIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com

48 HOURS IN PARIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com

 

After a long walk through the gardens and along a snippet of the Seine, we went in search of dinner. Having no plans, no reservations, we wandered until we stumbled upon a cute little square off the Rue St-Honoré. L’ Zinc d’ Honoré was perfect for our quintessentially French first-night’s dinner. A bubbling little pot of french onion soup for him, insanely good escargot for me, and steak frites for us both!

 

48 HOURS IN PARIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com

 

Already under the dreamy spell of Paris, we went to bed early in hopes of a full day to follow.

I woke up at 4am, and unable to go back to sleep, I periodically read and watched the sun rise, then took a long bubble bath, anxiously waiting for Mike to wake up so we could go in search of croissant! Finally my wish came true! We found a very cute little brasserie filled with very French people and ordered a “petit dejeuner” of croissant, OJ, coffee, and a slice of baguette with butter aplenty. C’est parfait!

Fueled by butter and gluten (oh the horror! not) we were ready to take on Paris.

Straight down the road to the Louvre we went, knowing we weren’t going to venture inside but still wanting to see it anyway. It’s so funny to see things in person that have always seemed so far away your whole life. What I imagined to be a towering, gleaming glass pyramid was in fact a bit smaller, a bit friendlier. Kind of like Paris itself.

 

48 HOURS IN PARIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com

 

 

Now we ventured across the Seine, and down to Pont Neuf towards Notre Dame. One of the few things I absolutely had my heart set on seeing was Notre Dame. And yes, the line to enter is intimidatingly long and you may not believe me but…it goes by in about ten minutes. Worth every second. The sheer magnitude of it’s history hits you as soon as you walk in and it’s a bit overwhelming. It first began being built in 1163 and construction lasted well over 70 years! It wasn’t even officially complete until about 1345! I could have spent hours just in front of a single arch, taking in the tiny carvings and interpreting their meaning.

We bowed our heads in reverence, lit several candles for our families, and took in a bit of the mass that was taking place at the time. I really can’t describe the experience, so I won’t try…but it was absolutely breathtaking.

 

48 HOURS IN PARIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com

48 HOURS IN PARIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com

48 HOURS IN PARIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com

 

Miles and hours later, my feet were bloody and his legs were aching and we needed to SIT DOWN. Where better to rest than on a lovely patio of a tiny restaurant with a big salad, prawns, and an entire bottle of wine? L’ Taverne De L’ Abre Sec was our oasis for the next hour or so.

After we were reasonably rested and a little bit afternoon-buzzed, we limped back to the hotel for a nap and a freshen-up before the evening.

Our last night in Paris had to be the night for the Tour Eiffel. It was clear and crisp, the sun had just set, and I wanted to be there for the moment it lit up. After being dropped off by a taxi (who warned us, “Watch your wallets!”), we made our way through the crowds to a spot mid-way down the Champ De Mars with a good view. We figured we had time to spare until the lighting, so we made a quick diversion for a beer and JUST as we were about to pay the waitress, there it went! Glittering and shimmering and bursting with light, it went up like a firework! It was so beautiful!

 

48 HOURS IN PARIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com

48 HOURS IN PARIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com

48 HOURS IN PARIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com

 

After taking about 1,000 pictures and taking it all in, we finally said “Au Revoir!” and wandered off towards the Champs Élysées, and eventually, dinner. By 10pm we were just beginning to get hungry and figured there was plenty of time left to find a place for our last meal in Paris. Not. The only bad thing about visiting in August is the limited selection of open restaurants, and even then they close quite early! I couldn’t tell you the name of the little late-night cafe we finally found, but I CAN tell you I will be trying to re-create the truffle mac’n’cheese we ate for ages! A delicious white cheese sauce, tiny slivers of jambon, and shaved black truffles. Decadence.

I remember we took our sweet time walking home that night in the beginning of a light drizzle. Disbelieving that it could already be the last of Paris for us, soaking it all it. I couldn’t imagine a more whirlwind experience, and I feel like we only skimmed the surface, but it was so beautiful and so romantic that I couldn’t imagine not visiting France without a trip to Paris. As we fell asleep that night, setting the alarm for our train to Bordeaux in the morning, I couldn’t help feeling like I was already falling in love with this country.

 

48 HOURS IN PARIS // www.hourglassandbloom.wordpress.com