Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wine Country

Today's trivia tidbit: To visit the best wine chateaux, you must be a client. Needless to say, we did not go to any.

Tuesday was our most relaxing day so far. We had no particular plans, and could meander wherever we chose, as long as we arrived at our destination at a decent hour. We had spent a week in the Dordogne region a few years ago, so we also felt no pressure - or desire - to visit the tourist sites. Instead, we began the day with a brief visit to Sarlat to shop. (I have been in Europe for a week and I have barely shopped at all.) I enjoyed that outing more than my husband did.

Cadouin's main square
With a couple of bargains in hand, we headed west. After a few kilometres, Bob became bored with the highway and opted for a secondary road that took us to Cadouin. We had no idea that this tiny town housed a lovely Cistercian Abbey that was once a magnet for pilgrims. The town itself was spruced up and decorated in preparation for a medieval "fête" this coming weekend. We loved the place!

My purchase in Saint Avit-Sénieur
Further down the same road, we visited Saint Avit-Sénieur, where another abbey awaited us. This one was on a more modest scale than the first but it had its own charm. There was an exposition of art in one of the church buildings where we purchased a copy of a print in order to decorate the bare walls of our apartment in Neuchâtel.
One of many vineyards in Saint-Émilion

The square in Saint-Émilion where we had dinner
From there, we made our way to Saint-Émilion where we would spend the night at a very nice hotel, Au Logis des Remparts. The town is small but a very popular spot with tourists due to the quality of the wines in the area. We walked around to see the sights, sampled some delicious red wine, and dined on the terrace in the main square. I decided to relax after dinner while Bob explored the streets further. He ended up chatting with a local wine merchant named Paddy O'Flynn, an Irishman with a French accent. (Paddy did all the talking; Bob did all the listening and wine tasting.)

The next morning, Wednesday, we went back at Paddy's to listen and taste some more. He showed us around his shop, and introduced us to his Spanish wife, Pilar. He is a great salesman since, eventually, we headed out of town with a dozen
Magasin des Vins in Saint Émilion
bottles of wine in the trunk of the Volvo. We are stocking up for our year in Switzerland. We also picked up another four bottles at Le Magasin des Vins, where we had had our first tasting.

Paddy O'Flynn himself
Our next stop was Bordeaux. It is a large city and very grand, but its main area is quite compact. We spent about five hours exploring the major sites on foot. I loved the magnificent fountain at the base of the Girondist column on the Esplanade des Quinconces. It had water on opposite sides and dynamic sculptures with symbolic significance. They took my breath away, they were so magnificent.
The fountain at the base of the Girondist Column
The cathedral was also very impressive. It is gothic in style and very high. In the photo below, note that the left side has been cleaned recently, while the steeples have not. The building has been undergoing extensive renovations both inside and out.

The cathedral
There are so many beautiful sights in Bordeaux that I have attached several pictures. They speak for themselves, I think.

The big bell
The tower at the Basilica Saint Michel - under construction, unfortunately.
Place des Bourses (Stock Market Place)

Towards the end of our walk, we enjoyed watching children of all ages playing on the mirrored pavement, which spurts little geysers of water every so often to keep the surface wet. They were having such fun!
The mirrored pavement
Sunset on the Garonne

Our accommodation for the night was north of the centre of the city in a B & B called La Grenadine. From there, we walked to the Quai nearby for dinner and watched the locals run, skateboard or stroll by us as the sun set.

1 comment:

  1. Love the fountain, as well as the fact that the town square has a big tree in the middle of it. Enjoy!
    The big photos are better.