Bordeaux Wine Tour – Day 1 & 2!

Posted on Jun 6, 2015

 

Our week in Bordeaux started off with a bang… or lots of bangs as we watched a fabulous fireworks display on Saturday evening (Day -1 for the trip). I wish that I could say that we had this planned for our arrival, however some things are better off as a surprise!

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The official kick-off dinner was at L’Entrecôte on Sunday evening! This is a tradition that Don Hackett, my friend and partner on the wine tours, initiated that dates back to his first wine tasting trip to Bordeaux with Sherlock’s Wine Merchants. It’s a tasty and casual way to begin the week. The restaurant is located on the Place de l’Opéra in Bordeaux, in a cool old brasserie.

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Monday we got right to business with our first stop at Château Lafon-Rochet in St. Estèphe to visit with Basil Tesseron and his father, Michel. After touring the new wine-making facilities, which are still under construction, we had a lovely lunch at the château.

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After lunch, we toured and tasted Château Pichon-Longueville, a second growth in Pauillac. One of my favorites there was the 2012 Château Pichon-Longueville, the first label, which was well-rounded with lots of fruit and tannin that will age well, but wasn’t bad now.

Our last tasting of the day was at Château Durfort-Vivens, also a second growth, in Margaux. The wines that we tasted,the 2009 first label and the 2009 second label (Vivens) were both good. Again, I particularly liked the 1st label; it was elegant, well-structured and just generally delicious.

I must admit that I have a small penchant for the wines of Margaux as the first tasting that I ever did in France was in Margaux some 30+ years ago!

Beer tasting in Belgium!

Posted on Jun 1, 2015

IMG_3439 Sunny day in Brussels!

IMG_3440 Looks more like a place to buy diamonds than to get tattoos and piercings!

IMG_3442 Friends, Chris and Bill, in the Grande Place, Brussels

 

IMG_3486  Gent on a cloudy day. Lovely city that is worth a visit!

IMG_3453 One of the vats used for brewing beer at the Trappist Monastery, Orval. Wonderful visit with Philippe Henroz, the GM. Did you know that all profit made from the sales of the beer goes to the Monastery’s social program? Drink up, it’s for a good cause!IMG_3466 Orval beer and Orval cheese, followed by a walk around the monastery grounds, including the ruins and a plucky dove with his tail feathers all ruffled up.

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IMG_3479 Day two of tasting was at Lindemans brewery with our guide, Nestor who is pouring the Krieg Cuvée René. Delicious!

Wines from the Côte d’Azur

Posted on May 31, 2015

Jacques Prévert, a well-known French poet and screenwriter, once wrote an ode to wine makers (Ode aux vignerons) in which he mentioned the Fête in St. Jeannet. While I did not have the pleasure of attending the Fête, I was able to visit the last remaining winemaker in the village of St. Jeannet, which is one town up the mountain from Vence. Vignoble des Hautes Collines de la Côte d’Azur is definitely worth the visit. Their vineyards have been there for 2000 years! Were they planted by the Romans or even the Greeks who were in this area first? No one really knows, but what they do know is that the Rasse family has been tending to the vineyard and making wine there for numerous generations.

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And not just making wine in the way that we see in most vineyards, but in a completely natural and very ancient way. There are no sulfites nor is anything added to the wine, other than the grapes. The sun and the heat do the work of any additives. Basically, all of their wines, white, rosé and red, spend from 3 to 18 months in ‘bonbonnnes’ these lovely glass containers that are set out in the Mediterranean heat, sun and even snow. Basically the heat causes the proteins to settle, thereby clarifying the wines, and the UV rays stabilize the wines.

We did a full tasting and I was very surprised with the results. I enjoyed all of the wines, but especially the complexity of the white and rosé. I have the name of the importer and will see what I can to do purchase some back in the U.S.

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Hiking in Provence

Posted on May 25, 2015

We have done a number of hikes this week and I’ve seen lots of spring flowers, some that I recognize, others that I don’t. Springtime, here in Provence, is in full swing now, what it was about a month or two ago in north Georgia. I like noting the similarities and differences between the two. What most people don’t realize is that Atlanta is on about the same latitude as North Africa (think Morocco) while Paris is about the same latitude as Montreal. I realize that there are other factors at play in the weather of each of these places, but it helps to realize that Atlanta and Paris are at very different places on the globe. Some things that grow lusciously here in Provence would not survive in Georgia – it’s just too hot and humid! On the other hand, we grow some awesome tomatoes, corn, okra and squash in Georgia!

Here are photos of some of the more interesting or beautiful flowers. Note the flowers on the table at the creperie down the street from where we stayed in La Tourette sur Loup!

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Antibes, tipping and dipping toes into the Mediterranean

Posted on May 18, 2015

Sunday we decided to spend the day visiting Antibes… first the Provençal market, then lunch, then a walk along the sea to test the water, and finally a visit to the Picasso museum in Vieil Antibes. It was a lovely, warm and very sunny day. With the breeze from the Mediterranean, we were comfortable and enjoyed lunch on the terrace with a view of the lovely blues of the sea and the various boats out and about.

Colorful boxes of fruit and vegetables

Colorful boxes of fruit and vegetables

Cheese in the market

Le fromage dans le marché – Cheese in the market

On this visit I have noticed a new phenomena, one that has me a bit concerned… traditionally in France, waiting tables is a profession. Waiters are paid good wages, have benefits, and most even go to school to learn the art of service, French style. While at school, future waiters are also trained in the art of pairing wine and food, and even in the preparation of food. After all, a good waiter needs to know how a sauce is made, whether or not there are mushrooms, which types of mushrooms, and much more.

Apéritif à Antibes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apéritif au Restaurant les Vieux Murs

 

 

 

As a part of this tradition, one does not tip, at least not American style, at the end of a meal. There is no percentage that is expected. I have even heard stories of waiters going out in the street to return ‘forgotten’ money to people who left it on the table as a tip. In the past, it was not even possible to leave a tip on a credit card. Any tip that you left had to be in cash, and this was usually a few coins to let the waiter know that you appreciated the service.

This summer, however, in two different restaurants, my friend and French student has asked about adding a tip to the credit card, and in both cases, she was able to do so. The waiter that we had at our very lovely lunch in Antibes, even clarified, stating that service was included in the price but that a pourboire or tip was at the discretion of the patron.

Boules !Boules !

Méduse dans la mer - Jellyfish in the seaMéduse or jellyfish in the Bay of Antibes

Mes pieds dans la Mediterranée

Mes pieds dans la Méditerranée

Vieil Antibes - Old Antibes

Vieil Antibes – Old Antibes

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Côte d’Azur

Posted on May 17, 2015

Bonjour from the sunny warm and ever popular Côte d’Azur!

While this has never been one of my favorite regions of France, I’ll admit that I am long overdue for a visit. It’s been at least 10 years, if not more since I’ve spent time along this part of the Mediterranean. Here are several photos of the first two days of this trip…

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Nice – beach on a sunny Friday in May!

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View from the balcony and the beginning of dinner!

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Preparing the restaurant terrace behind the church in the village for Saturday night

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View of the chestnut tree above

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Bottle brush flower seen on an afternoon hike in the hills of Provence

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Valerian flowers growing from crevasses in the cliff

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Lover’s pine tree!

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Honeysuckle – chevrefeuille

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Mailbox in Tourettes sur Loup

Vive la Côte d’Azur ! Vive la Provence !

Paris 2015

Posted on May 16, 2015

I arrived in Paris yesterday for my annual Tours in France! I’ve been traveling to France once or twice a year since 2000. Before that I visited every couple of years starting in the early 1980s when I lived in Paris. It’s been interesting to watch the City of Lights change and evolve as I have done over the years. There is a comfort in that for me… I love Paris and I have felt a kindred spirit here since I first came spent time here when I was in middle school.

My first trip here was with a much adored French teacher, Martha Elizabeth Correll (who is, by the way, the namesake for my much loved dog, Emme Rose – note the pronunciation ‘ME’). Not far from where the photo below was taken, I have a memory of this first trip to Paris that will be forever etched in my mind. I remember walking on the rue St. Jacques behind Mrs. Correll, in the evening after dinner. It was March and it was cold. We were in Paris over the Easter holidays, and as we left Notre Dame after mass on that Easter morning, it snowed. It was that cold. That evening, as we were walking down the rue St. Jacques near the Sorbonne, I watched my French teacher, with her hands deep in her pockets and her mind somewhere where these middle school students were not following her. I imagined what she must be thinking… perhaps about the years that she spent studying in Paris at the Sorbonne. Young as I was, I resolved then and there to follow in her footsteps. I knew that I wanted to be able to return to Paris one day and to walk down a street remembering scenes from my past.

Each time I visit Paris, I walk around the Quartier Latin or in the Jardins du Luxembourg, or along the Boulevard St. Germain, and I think of my time in Paris. I think of Mrs. Correll. I think of this beloved city that is somehow a part of me, and will always be in my heart. Here’s to Paris, for now, for the past and forever…

Coupe de champagne

Coupe de champagne

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An Adventure in Provence 2013

Posted on Mar 14, 2014

Smell the lavender, see the fields of sunflowers with your own eyes, taste the wines and cheeses, explore the markets, fall asleep to the sound of cicadas, feel the warmth of the Provençal sun on your face… experience this an more as you join Jennifer for a weeklong stay in Provence.

What’s included in Provence:

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  • Accommodations for six nights in a private room in a Provençal house
  • Semi-private language instruction each day throughout the day – max 5 students
  • All meals
  • A welcome aperitif
  • A farewell dinner at a local restaurant
  • All local transportation once you arrive in Avignon
  • All entrance fees and guided tours

PDF Registration Form

New Advanced Conversation class added.

Posted on Mar 14, 2014

Learning another language can be one of life’s most rewarding and culturally fulfilling experiences. For hundreds of years, French has been the primary language of many trades — politics, business, architecture, cuisine and love.

I help people communicate in French! My clients want to learn French for any and all reasons. You can learn or improve your French at any age; my oldest student was 94 years young! I work with individuals, small groups and high school students who are beginners, advanced speakers who want to improve their written and spoken French, and everyone in between.