France; Bordeaux to Sarlat

2016-07-27 18.44.09-22016-07-27 22.06.12-12016-07-28 11.15.322016-07-28 14.56.002016-07-29 17.48.49-12016-07-29 17.15.172016-07-30 11.37.152016-07-27 19.45.042016-07-30 13.46.58-1 2016-07-30 18.14.54 2016-07-31 13.22.48-1 2016-07-31 12.30.002016-07-30 11.48.372016-07-31 19.31.292016-07-27 20.38.072016-07-30 14.23.59-12016-07-27 21.22.002016-07-31 16.58.342016-07-31 18.59.322016-07-27 19.42.442016-07-30 10.20.50

Taking the TGV from Paris to Bordeaux was easy. Our Quality Bordeaux Centre location was perfect being smack bang in town, but far too dangerous for shopping (not), near the longest pedestrian street in Europe; Rue St Catherine! Funnily enough we struggled to find any French bistros on the street but sniffed out a newly opened Singapore Street Food restaurant. Our lunch was sensational.Hubby’s cousins took us to the cool Mama shelter rooftop bar for amazing cocktails before I chose (thanks TripAdvisor) Le Bistrot des Quinconces for dinner. My God it was sublime. We shared some foie gras, duck breast (magret) entrecote and risotto. Two bottles of grand cru red wine and we were on fire. Our hands were forced to try cafe gourmande; a selection of four desserts accompanied with espresso. I asked for decaf however I don’t think that exists in France!  This was one of our favourite meals in France apart from the fantastic home cooked meal we had at hubby’s cousin’s, homemade foie gras to die far, half-a cow thrown on the BBQ, duckfat potatoes, two desserts, cheese, baguettes and red wine. Get the picture?!

Day 2 we took a 2 hr city walking tour, but in hindsight I think a city bus tour would have been better. Bordeaux is so beautiful and old, it was hard to not be camera snappy.  Our 1/2 day tour to St Emilion was lovely. I enjoyed the vineyard visit and wine tasting but would have preferred time to actually explore the cute wee village instead of more wine tasting in the local store, where you felt obliged to purchase.

In our trusty Renault rental, Saturday morning we drove to Riberac, to get the feel and vibe of a French market. We bought some lovely foie gras to bring home and I got a lovely floral set of lingerie that fits perfectly. The food and clothes stalls were amazing. We were surprised with how many English tourists were there!

Driving through the French countryside we stopped at Aubeterre-sur-Dronne. It was billed as the most beautiful village in France but not sure why! We preferred the vast breathtakingly beautiful countryside with wildlife, sunflowers and rolling haystacks. So Monet and Van Gogh.

We spent 2 nights at a gorgeous B & B, Maison Porte del Marty in Lalinde. This had to be one of my highlights. Run by Kiwis Cherie and Brian Hewitt, I discovered this little beauty thanks to a Sunday Star times travel article. They have 4 rooms in this beautifully furnished house and they recently featured in a French House and Garden magazine.

I booked the only room with a balcony well in advance  of course, and nearly cried when Cherie opened our door. The room was huge with shuttered doors opening out over the Dordogne river, with a wee table and two chairs. We drank in the view along with an essential bottle of champagne. We slept with the doors open to the sound of the river. There was the most amazing thunder, lightning and rain storm which was magic. Then the sun shone in the morning.Breakfast was served on the balcony downstairs and the table setting and  food was fabulous.

Lalinde has some great restaurants and we indulged again in the region specialities of duck confit and entrecote with red wine.  We also had a pizza for a change at a local Italian near the square,  which was fab. We didn’t reserve anywhere but were lucky to get tables easily. They also have a few quaint shops and a town square that hosts food and music festivals in the summer.

En route to Bergerac, we diverted down a country road, 20 minutes from Lalinde to the Abbey.  It was set in this amazing wee village in the middle of nowhere! It just blew us away.

Sunday we stopped at Perigueux and enjoyed this town with stunning churches. At Cocette et Vie, I had a fab steak, pommies frites and salad and hubby enjoyed his steak tartare. We then came across an Otago rugby shop and were amazed at how many good quality rugby shops there were in France. Hubby bought a lovely Eden Park jersey.

That afternoon we drove to Sarlat-au-Canada. This also is a must visit and was so buzzy. It was very fairytale-like. The shopping was amazing and we ate at this superb restaurant Gueule et Gosier, quietly hidden behind the busy square. They had a fixed price menu; 3 courses. I love dining al fresco and our foie gras, steak, pommes frites, salad and dessert was amazing. Our red wine didn’t fail to please either. Sigh. I want to go back already.

Next week I continue on my journey to Provence. Stay tuned.

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