Scroll over the new folder ‘Our Favorite Places to Go’ and then scroll over ‘One-day adventures’ to find new pages that include a perfume tour, a medieval village, an island off of Cannes, a relatively undiscovered beach town in Italy and a perched village. I will be adding more pages most days. Please come back and visit.
Watch this space. Over the next few weeks, I am adding our favorite places to go that are an afternoon, an evening, a day or a few days away from LaSoleiade.
Following the advice of those who have been there and the the locals when you get there leads to an authentic, unique and interesting visit to a new place.
Kate, our bartender friend at Denver’s top northern Italian eatery, Barolo Grill, had just returned from Barolo Grill’s yearly sojourn to Borolo to discover great new wines and authentic new menus and dishes to bring back to Denver. She told us that if we were to go to Barolo, we should go this quaint typical Piedmont restaurant in Serralunga D’Alba called Centro Storico.
Being a mere 3.5 hours from La Soleiade, we emailed the restaurant and made a reservation, as recommended as it has only 8 tables, made a hotel reservation in nearby Grinzane Cavour and off we went on an adventure!
Great recommendation from Kate – the area was beautiful – rolling hills of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetta grapes 🍇 amongst other Piedmont grapes with hilltop castle towns dotting the landscape – Serralunga D’Alba, Grinzane Cavour, LaMorra and Barolo.
We stayed at the charming Casa Pavesi in Grinzane and had sweeping views of the vineyards and castles from our terrace. Our equally charming proprietare was so helpful and guided us to a small family run local winery, where she made us an appointment for that same morning.
Simon, the grandson of the original winemaker, gave us a tour of the property and told us wonderful stories of his grandparents and how he and his parents now run Bruno Grimaldi. He introduced us to his Dolcetta, Barbara D’Alba superior and, of course, their Barolo. They make about 80,000 bottles a year and their small bottling machine can make up to 1500 bottles a day. We enjoyed them all, so loaded up the car with 42 bottles to enjoy with our friends back at home.
Simon told us we must go to La Morra as our next stop to get the best view of as much of the Barolo area as one can get in a single view. After grabbing the quintessential photos, we enjoyed another wonderful meal at the local Uve restaurant enjoying Barbaresco and Arneis wines from the region along with more piedmont specialty dishes.
NO trip to the region is complete without going to Barolo itself, another castle-topped charming hilltop village. Ironically, the town has the Museo die Cavatappi – a corkscrew museum!!! You can imagine Gary’s excitement.
A great little adventure for the summer of 2017 that started with the advice of Kate, followed by a great recommendation to go to Bruno Grimaldi, followed by another piece of local advice that lead us to La Morra and great views and a wonderful lunch and finally following our own path to Barolo.
I recommend the whole experience to anyone in the area.
Our goal for our visit to the southwest region of France was to visit vineyards and buy some wine from this region and also to do ‘le degustation de Armagnac’. We found a small farm and a tasting room but first the vintner wanted to show us a tour of her families cave. Not only did we learn how Armagnac [single distillation] is made and how it is different from Cognac [double distillation] but we enjoyed seeing barrels that dated back to 1970 and when her grandfather was still making the Armagnac. This small farm is only run by family members.
We tasted 10 year and 15 year Armagnac in the official tasting room but were invited to taste from any of the 1970 to 2014 barrels in the cave!
As you will see from the pictures, we tasted multiple Armagnac directly from the barrels and then purchased a 1975, a 1980 and a 1990.
For myself, i didn’t care too much for the newer Armagnacs but they got smoother and a bit sweeter as they aged and a quite enjoyed the older ones, especially the 1975 🙂
The barrel tasting was the highlight of our visit to the region and I would recommend it to anyone visiting this region. The countryside is also beautiful dotted with many chateau’s, fields of sunflowers, fields of corn and of course, vineyards!
After our night in Sete (see ‘Boats’ blog), we started inland and stopped in Carcassonne, where sits the largest castle that I have ever visited. We crossed the mote, toured the ramparts, wandered around the medieval village and finished the afternoon sipping champagne in the courtyard of the hotel inside the castle walls.
There was also an excellent art exhibit right before entering the town by Guy Ferrer who sculpted each letter of the word, Tolerance. See the ‘T’ sculpture in one of the pics.
Occupied since the Neolithic, Carcassonne is located in the Aude plain between two great axes of circulation linking the Atlantic to the Mediterranean sea and the Massif Central to the Pyrénées. Its strategic importance was quickly recognized by the Romans who occupied its hilltop until the demise of the Western Roman Empire and was later taken over by the Visigoths in the fifth century who founded the city. Also thriving as a trading post due to its location, it saw many rulers who successively built up its fortifications up until its military significance was greatly reduced by the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659.
Carcassonne was the first fortress to use hoardings in times of siege. Temporary wooden ramparts would be fitted to the upper walls of the fortress through square holes beneath the rampart itself. It provided protection to defenders on the wall and allowed defenders to go out past the wall to drop projectiles on attackers at the wall beneath.
Gary and I, my sister Ang, and our friend Jeremy visited a south west region of France this summer visiting the Carmargue (yes, where the salt comes from), Sete and Argen, which is the wine region of Berger and where they also make Armagnac.
After driving through the Carmargue area (where they have flamingos – that was a surprise for all – see road sign below), we had lunch in Saintes Maries de la Mer, a popular French beach destination in this area.
We travelled next to Sete, a small coastal village that is called the mini Venice of France for all of its canals. Of course, there are many boats and we decided to surprise our guests by booking our night’s stay in Sete on a charming boat moored a quick 5-minute walk from the historic center. It was a unique and fun experience. Breakfast on the rear deck, sunset cocktails on the front of the boat, and a nice quite rocking to the motion of the water to lull you to sleep
Sunday is the day for inviting large groups of friends and family for lunch. This afternoon, as most Sunday afternoons, Gary, my sister Ang, our friend, Jeremy and I are having lunch with our great friend and neighbor Jean with a small group of 15 or so!
Bread in France is like no other in the world, and Riberou bread is like no other in France. Thus, for lunch today and for tomorrow’s picnic lunch basket, Four Riberous and Four baguettes are minimum.
as the French don’t bag their bread, when you order this quantity, they just put it into a flour sac (sitting on the chair).
off to Sunday brunch … Pics later today or tomorrow
BUT we did have an excellent hunting adventure to the Puce de Provençal near to La Soleiade 😛. As you can see, we have added to the small LS chair collection [ yesterday’s count was 51, so that makes today’s count 54. …. watch this space for the summer of ’15 chair count]. A new under-the-window table for chambre La Tournesol (aka Angie’s room), 2 new chandeliers, a wine barrel, and a because-every-house- needs-one bottle corker and of course the requisite petite glasses and small knives with corkscrews!!
tonight, we visite chez Laurence and Christian for either gumbo or French food. (See blog tomorrow for which one plus pics).
a vie tot,
Cannes is celebrating her arrival with fireworks! Pics tomorrow.
Provence is not simply a geographical area of whatever dimensions but, more importantly, a state of mind, a place where one can escape from the grey routine of daily life into another gayer, brighter world.