So we spent a bit of time in ‘rural’ France (ie not Paris) on this trip, but rather than short blog posts on each place, we thoughts we’d wrap them up into a single post. So the highlights below are really just excuses for pretty photos and quick anecdotes!

Aix-En-Provence

Arguably serving as a distillation of Provence’s eclectic but well-documented gastronomic culture, Aix-En-Provence abounds in great restaurants serving some fantastic local fare. The town itself is ornamentally pretty (much less so in the driving rain we experienced) but it’s the food that really soars. Whether it’s a courtyard glass of wine looking at the old buildings, or the full dinner at Le 18 where husband and wife deliver an incredible local feast of delights, Aix-En-Provence was a great place for our tastebuds.

 

Orleans

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The home town of Joan Of Arc, Orleans is a charming mix of history and modernity, perched on the bank of the Loire. Its cathedral is epic without the mad ornamentation that so many ‘tourist’ churches suffer from, and the older part of town is a maze of little restaurants, charming shops and bars. The river itself is delightful – walking the banks as the sun set was picturesque way to relax and enjoy a pre-dinner stroll.

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Bordeaux

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Bordeaux is another region famous for produce, and our visit didn’t disappoint. As it was my birthday in Bordeaux, I was treated to an incredible dinner at Racine’s and then a stunning lunch the next day at Garopapilles thanks to Sarah’s parents. The town is pretty easy to explore, so we wandered the streets and found some fun places to shop, explore and photograph. Particularly pleasant (again) was walking along the waterside, goggling at massive tour ships coming in from the open water towering higher than even the cathedral spires.

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Charite Sur Loire

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We went to Charite Sur Loire (named after the charity of the monks on the old pilgrim trail) with Sparrow and Brad, who had flown over from Canada for a bit of a jaunt with us. We stayed in a gite run by two Canadian ex-pats who now live in the town. The gite was fantastic and even had its own tower that we could climb and sit on top of, watching the sun set, eating cheese and drinking. The owner, Byron, gave us a walking history tour of the town, and his knowledge was both encyclopaedic and charmingly delivered. The food we ate out was great – we ate snails for the first time at a restaurant called A Thousand and One Leaves, which caters thematically to the town’s love of books and words (there is a festival of books every year). The highlight for Charite was Brad’s cooking again, fantastic having a butcher/chef on hand for gourmet roasts!

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So the non-Paris parts of France were fantastic. The next post will be all about our Paris time – food, French people and frivolity!