Continuing on our Eurotrip adventures… From Marseille we headed west to the famous wine region of Bordeaux. Apparently there is some traditional rivalry between Bordeaux and Paris – the beauty of the architecture and the delicious sweets and pastries are certainly close, if not equal to the capital. In fact I’d go as far as to say that the macarons were even better than the ones we bought in Paris, far cheaper and without having to line up!
We took our time in the town of Bordeaux, doing some window shopping and walking around the town centre.
Whilst staying in Bordeaux we went on a day tour to the nearby small town of Saint Émilion, where Romans planted the first vineyards in the area in the 2nd Century. We toured a huge monolithic underground cathedral (no photos allowed inside unfortunately), and saw the little cave where Saint Émilion lived his hermit’s life. A rough stone seat used by the saint is said to be able to make women who have trouble conceiving suddenly able to become pregnant, and many women travel there just for that purpose. I kept my distance!
Known for its wine, Saint Émilion seems to have a disproportionate number of wine stores for such a tiny town, as well as some sweet shops where we picked up the most delicious canelés I have ever tasted. Being winter the streets were very quiet, and we managed to explore most of the town before our tour headed on to our next destination, a winery in the region.
I felt like a pro at the winery because we had already learned about appellation, proper tasting technique and wine-making methods in the Loire Valley. Unfortunately I didn’t take down any notes on the wines that we tasted, and several months on I really can’t remember what I thought of them!
- A canelé is small pastry with a custardy centre and a dark and almost crispy crust, baked in small fluted molds. Although you can get them elsewhere in France it is a speciality of the Bordeaux region, and they were my favourite sweet in our Eurotrip up to that point (only to be outdone in Portugal just a bit later).
- The macarons we bought from Maison Larnicol were at least as good as the ones we got from Laduree in Paris, and far cheaper to boot. They also have artisan chocolates and sweets that look amazing!
- Bordeaux is known for its wines (I often buy imported Bordeaux here in Perth), which tend to be blends of mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, or in a few areas like Saint Émilion, Merlot. The wine can of course vary wildly in price, although my palette is not really refined enough to appreciate the really good stuff.
In the next installment, we leave France for sunny Spain!