Wow, I blinked, January was over and it was time for the first Bordeaux in 365 Bottles of 2017! I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun and my social calendar just keeps getting busier and busier. That’s definitely not a bad thing. I’m happy, feeling fairly creative these days and Bordeaux just continues to feel like it fits. Like the home I never knew I belonged in until I moved here.
A fabulous truffle trip in Provence
Back in December, a press release hit my email inbox. I nearly deleted it since I’ve been truffle hunting previously in Croatia, but the lure of truffles was just to strong and I replied. Pretty quickly, a truffle trip in Provence was organized by the wonderful team at Vaucluse Tourisme en Provence.
My friend Amanda, the gal beyond Morocco’s most popular travel blog MarocMama, flew in to Bordeaux and we hit the road for Provence and all things truffle. Guys, this is a totally awesome trip to do and Provence in the off-season is spectacular. Seriously, we had places like Avignon’s Palace of the Popes almost entirely to ourselves. I’d actually tried to visit it once in summer a few years ago, but the line to get in was so long I didn’t want to make Tim and Emma wait.
I’ve written a Truffle Lover’s Guide to Provence and also put together this 4-day truffle hunting itinerary. Check it out if you haven’t already.
I braved using my terrible French to get a hair cut
This was a big deal y’all! One of my first haircuts in Italy was so uneven and terrible that another hair dresser couldn’t even fix it without making a major style change. So I had to get creative with barrettes and just let it grow out.
And I actually could speak Italian fairly well.
With my limited French I’ve been putting off getting a hair cut for fear of not being able to explain what I wanted done. But my hair was just gross. At least I felt like it was. It was heavy and didn’t do what I wanted it to do despite blowing it out and flat ironing it. I just couldn’t ignore it any more.
It turned out to be one of the best cuts I’ve ever had, and I often waited to get haircuts while staying at 5-star hotels with onsite salons. We talked through what I wanted since I was chopping quite a bit off after six months of my hair just growing out. Then my cut began with a relaxing neck massage with essential oils, a deep condition and scalp massage, the cut, blowout and styling.
I definitely found myself a stylist I love and on the first try. Score!
Renewing my French visa
Well, I had a blissful three months not having to do any French paperwork. The time has come, however, to start the renewal process for my French visa. It expires toward the end of April since it was actually issued before I moved to France.
If I thought the initial application process was unclear, the renewal process is even more ambiguous. I think I’ve got everything I need, but with the French you just never know. So I’ve made sure to start the process early just in case I need to gather other documents I don’t have on hand.
I’m also hoping Trump doesn’t further piss off the French and my renewal gets denied in a backlash of the ridiculous travel bans.
Getting really can’t-get-out-of-bed sick sucks in the best of circumstances. But when you live alone with your dog, who can’t let herself out, it really blows.
I knew I was in bad shape when I woke up with my eyes swollen and crusted shut with gunk in them. My tooth was throbbing, my face felt like it was going to explode and my ear was incredibly painful.
Thankfully, France has socialized healthcare and it’s affordable for everyone. For just €40, a doctor came right to my house and prescribed me medication. Turns out I had a severe sinus infection and a blockage, which was why my face had painfully swollen up. I also had an ear infection.
At least I could function within a few hours after getting medication. And friends helped out taking Emma out and getting me some groceries so I wouldn’t have to go out when I was feeling so bad.
Missing Paris Fashion Week
Honestly, I don’t post or write about fashion even though I love it. So I really don’t know how I got invited, but I was invited to six Paris Fashion Week haute couture shows. I was incredibly excited to go and sit along a runway watching the beautiful clothes sashay by.
The aforementioned I-thought-I-was-dying-but-it-was-just-a-sinus-infection hit me two days before I was supposed to go to Paris. So instead of watching models strut their stuff down runways at invitation-only shows, I was curled up under a pile of blankets on my couch hugging a box of tissues for a week.
Le sigh. Perhaps I’ll be invited again to the Fall shows.
I couldn’t be more thrilled that January’s most popular post is our annual best places to travel guide. That whopper of a post was over 5500 words this year and it takes me weeks to compile all of my notes in it. I probably put the most work of anything I write all year in to this post and I’d be crushed if no one read it.
Go check it out and start planning your 2017 travels!
Most Popular Instagram Photo
My favorite time to go for walks is as the sun sets. Bordeaux is just a spectacular array of colors at that time of the evening. And from Instagram, it’s safe to say these are the photos you enjoy the most too.
Bonne Année! I know we’re already a few days in to 2017, but I took a little break from social media to catch up on some things and some sleep. I’ve set some goals – the usual to lose weight, eat better, save more money. And with sunsets like this, I think I can rack up some more steps daily for a evening stroll down to the river to watch the sky turn all these beautiful colors! What are some of your goals for 2017?
What I’m Drinking This Month
You’d think being sick in bed for well over a week would seriously slow down my growing bottle count. But that trip to Provence was filled with a lot of wine over the course of just five days. And it was nice mixing it up and discovering some other French wines this month.
Of course, I started out 2017 with drinking I-don’t-even-know-how-many glasses of Champagne until the wee hours of the morning. I think it was nearly 4am when I finally stumbled in my door. But, at least my 2017 started with sharing a bottle of Veuve Clicquot with special friends to toast in the New Year.
I experienced my first ever corked bottle of wine at a little pizza place I went to with friends after a movie. If you’ve never had a corked bottle of wine, it smells moldy and tastes even worse. A friend joked that’s what I get for drinking Italian wine in Bordeaux, but we did have a nice 2014 Corvo Rosso from Sicily before the offending bottle of bad Barolo. After the corked bottle, we did just switch back to Bordeaux.
I love picking up little half bottles of wine from wine caves around town. They’re the perfect size for when I want something with dinner at home but don’t want to feel like a wino finishing off an entire bottle all on my own. I picked up a 2009 Château d’Armailhac Paulliac Grand Cru Classé and it was fabulous with my new favorite cheese, Brillat Savarin, and some saucisson.
My trip to Provence was filled with just as much wine as it was with truffles. I got a crash WSET course on Côte du Rhône wines, trying five different wines and learning about the three levels of wine in France. I also experienced my second bottle of corked wine within just a few days of the first I’d ever had. Imagine my misfortune!
- 2015 Château Juvenal Les Ribes du Vallat Rosé
- 2015 Domaine du Bon Remede Viognier
- 2014 Château Juvenal Les Ribes du Vallat Red
- 2003 Perrin & Fils Vinsobres Les Cornuds
And that was all before the Vins et Truffes soirée, where a 6-course truffle menu was paired with wines from Domaine Vacheron in Sancerre, where I had:
- 2015 Domaine Vacheron blanc with scrambled eggs with truffle and truffle butter toasts
- 2015 Domaine Vacheron Les Romains with beef cheek and truffle jelly
- 2006 Domaine Vacheron Les Romains with cod and celery with truffles
- 2012 Domaine Vacheron rouge with roasted duck with truffle jus
- 2007 Domaine Vacheron Belle-Domaine with truffle cheese and a poached pear
My truffle hunt ended with a delicious 3-course truffle tasting and TerraVentoux white.
And later that night I stayed at Domaine de Cabasse, where I of course tasted their wines. Then dinner began with a Champagne toast as the chef invited us in to the kitchen as he prepared our main course.
- Domaine de Cabasse Côtes-du-Rhône Cuvée Marguerite
- 2014 Domaine de Cabasse Les Deux Anges Sablet
- 2010 Domaine de Cabasse Cuvée Garnacho Séguret Côtes du Rhône Villages
- 2011 Domaine de Cabasse Casa Bassa Seguret
- 2013 Domaine de Cabasse Gigondas
- 2015 Carte Or Muscat de Beaumes de Venise
It’s five o’clock somewhere! At least, that’s how I thought of it as my Saturday morning began with a wine tasting before 10am at Cellier des Templiers for their Toast Truffe event.
- Origine Templers Côtes du Rhône
- 2014 Diamant Noir Grignan Les Adhemar
- La Commanderie Côtes du Rhône Villages
Dinner, one of the few meals I had that didn’t involve truffles, was a delicious multi-course affair at Grand Hôtel Henri. The venison I had as my main course was wonderful with 2015 Domaine de la Gasqui Vin de Pays Vaucluse Vigne du Loup
There was so much wine, I don’t even know where I had a 2015 Domaine Valdition Alpilles Rouge Tradition. Clearly, I need to take better notes!
And a 2015 Ortas Cave de Rasteau Cru des Côtes du Rhône paired nicely with a Provencal beef cannelloni, both hitting the spot on one of the coldest and windiest days of the trip.
My last meal of the truffle trip with with the director of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and unsurprisingly, there was a selection of the most fabulous wines of the trip paired with yet another multi-course truffle dinner:
- 2015 Domaine Saint Préfert Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2015
- 2012 Domaine du Grand Tinel Alexis Establet Châteauneuf-du-Pape
- 2012 Domaine des Sénéchaux Châteauneuf-du-Pape
- 2007 Château de la Gardine Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée des Générations Gaston-Philippe
Then I came down with this lingering sinus infection, though wine loving friends convinced me (alright, there really wasn’t much arm twisting) to share a bottle of 2009 Château de Reignac Grand Vin de Reignac with some pizza on a recent lazy Sunday. This bottle beat out some of the top châteaux in Bordeaux at a blind tasting and we had to see what all the fuss was about.
Bottle Count: 118
Coming Up in February 2017
I have a very special visitor coming in February. You’re just going to have to watch my Instagram Story on Saturday to find out who it is!
We’ve got some special things planned around Bordeaux, plus a quick little ski trip to Andorra with Visit Andorra. At the end of the month, I’m off to Deauville in lower Normandy for another quick trip that is part conference and part press trip. I’m trying to visit someplace new to me in France at least once per month this year.