I’m a bit hesitant to write this post because I am not sure I can describe my weekend in France in such a way that fully allows readers to understand the extent of the wow factor I felt while there. But I have plenty of pics to help me show and tell so hopefully between the two of us we can paint the full picture of my experience.
The first thing I did after being collected at the airport was try and climb into the driver’s seat of the car! Then I spent the entire drive home wanting to tell Bryan that he was on the wrong side of the road. That also happened on my last holiday to France when my friend and I actually drove from France to Spain over the Pyrenees. She drove, I tried to be a stable and conscientious wing-woman which I would have done even better if I could read the signs. Luckily our GPS lady spoke English otherwise who knows where we would be now. Anyway, I digress.
So the friends I visited rent their home out for AirBnB and it is stunning! I felt like I was in a 5 star resort!
It is about 60kms outside of Bordeaux in a sleepy little fishing village called Teste-de-Buch. There is a marina there and oyster farming is rife. Unfortunately oysters are the ONE thing (besides avocado that I do not eat). I cannot eat snot, even if it is laced with Tabasco!
The first thing we did was go down to the market which was a complete assault on my senses (in a good way). Not only was there so much to see and smell but everyone was speaking French and it truly is a beautiful language to listen to. After being in London where going to a market is an event, it was so awesome to see this one. It was inside but every ‘stall’ had the most amazing displays. Cheese, seafood, meats, breads, vegetables, fruit. So many colours and smells – so fresh and tantalising.
We must have spent about an hour there choosing various things and from then we did not stop eating. Each meal was magnificent, even the simple fish stew – or should I say bouillabaisse – that we had that first evening after a whole day of eating.
So that was the first day. Except for a quick trip to the beach because they wanted to show me the highest sand-dune in Europe. It was pretty impressive and next time we will actually climb it! Was far too full to contemplate anything quite so strenuous.
The next day we woke up late and had 2 full meals before going anywhere.
We had so much food it was a requirement to do this first! We spent the evening in Bordeaux which was so much fun. First amazing new site was that the train we caught into town was in the middle of the street. So it’s called a tram. I know that sounds a bit juvenile but I’ve always imagined a tram in a street to be open on the sides with people standing, hanging out on the edges. This was an actual train in an actual street. Such a good idea.
We were all desperate for Jagie Bombs and could not find a place that had them anywhere. Eventually we happened upon ye old English pub called The Charles Dickens – couldn’t get more English than that right. We excitedly finished 2 each. Bloody rude though, they didn’t put the jagie into the glass for us – it was DIY style but we were fine with that. Stayed there for a couple more then went in search of food. Found an amazing Italian pizza place they had been told about and at 7:30 were told it was too early and to come back at 8!!
So we wandered around some more and then went back. So glad we did because the pizza was SO good!
Now I’ve had a few drinks and starting to get confused. Everyone speaking French in an Italian restaurant, then friends arrive, no one speaks English so everything I say has to be translated by Bryan or Fan Fan – who are struggling to think in English too because they have been el Franco for so long themselves. Everyone is getting pissed. It was quite comedic. I don’t remember the drive home, but luckily none of us were driving. Thanks Mr Tram Driver.
We had saved Sunday to go and see the newly opened La Cité de Vin (Wine Museum). Opened in June this year, is a world-class museum with remarkable architecture, meant to be built that way to look like a swirling glass of wine: Chardonnay I would say … it is a spectacular voyage through time, history and the cultures of the world to learn about wine. There are many exhibitions, most of which are interactive and multi-sensory. Every visitor gets a head set which is programmed to language of choice which delivers real-time explanations depending on where you are on the tour.
In typical style of the weekend we went upstairs to eat and do the wine tasting first.
This was the only time I regretted sitting down to a meal and enjoying a wine tasting because it left us with very little time to do the tour and you literally need about 10 hours to do it properly. It really is a must see for anyone going even close to Bordeaux, but don’t plan to do anything else that day!
The last leg of the trip was a bit hair-raising as we were cutting it fine as it was. I get to the front of a LONG queue only to be told that I was at the wrong terminal – it was now 3:50 and my plane was leaving at 4:30. I had to run all the way to the other terminal which wasn’t even in the same building. Starting to panic! Get there, and the queue is snaking out the door. Panicking even more. So I ran to a guard and showed him my ticket – don’t forget that even in the airport, no-one speaks English. I said Gatwick and showed him my ticket with the time and he let me through to a queue that was not as long but still pretty snaky. Anyway, long story short the plane was delayed – never been so happy about that – and I managed to make it with time to spare. But those 20 minutes of freak-out were not good for my psyche. I definitely prefer to be bored for 2 hours than the other way around. I’m that traveller.
The Universe sent me this view on the way home, the beginnings of the Super Moon. Does not look big in the picture but it was very close, very surreal, very beautiful setting.
My very first adventure off English soil since I have been here and it was a success. I ate excellent food, drank excellent wine and enjoyed brilliant company, got drunk but still got some culture in; couldn’t have asked for more.