A fine dinner (Blasimon, St Emilion and Branne)
Saturday, January 23
I woke up with a bit of a hangover to be honest. Drinking rose wine in the sun is all very well but it goes down a bit too easily.
We went to St Emilion, described in the guidebook as an open air museum with ramparts, seven medieval town gates and winding, narrow streets. Most of the shops where wine-related and many of them were open. I was interested to read that the town was also known for its macaroons. They were pretty good but I’d sooner stick to the wine tasting.
A fine wines shop in St Emilion
You can just see Steve waving from the bell tower.
The town square in St Emilion
There is a special place for motorhomes to park but we didn’t find it until afterwards. It wasn’t very busy when we went so we just parked in a normal pay and display car park.
On the way back we parked up at the Aire in Branne. It was fully functional with water and electricity so we recharged everything, both had a shower and then filled up with water. I had to fetch the two Euro tokens from the Boulangerie.
Waiting for dinner was a bit of a strain as she invited us to come for aperitifs at 8pm and we are used to eating at between 6pm and 7pm. Still it would be worth the wait.
M Benoit was there to greet us in the dining room with the big open fire. We met two other couples, both French, who were staying in the bed and breakfast accommodation. It was good to be with other people and everyone had to make more of an effort than usual with us being English. M Benoit offered us rose or Bordeaux Superior Moelleux. Most of us had a glass of Moelleux and we sat around chatting for what seemed like a really long time. I was so hungry. If this was England we would have ended up really tipsy as everyone kept filling up their glasses, but not here. We just had the one small glass and made it last an hour. It was hard.
Then we all sat round the table and the soup was served – very welcome to have all those chunky vegetables. Througout the dinner M Benoit kept appearing with a different wine for us to try. With the soup he offered Bordeau Superior 2007. It was just great to have some more alcohol. Everyone was sniffing and rincing it around their mouths, as they do. I am quite interested in wine tasting so thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, but Steve was missing his real ale. When one lady asked him if he like French he replied that he preferred beer!
Next we had a salad, along with a taste of Bordeaux Superior 2000. Yes, we could all taste the difference. If you went back to the first one after trying the second one it tasted really sour or ‘young’. Wait until we tried the St Emilion, said Mr Benoit.
The main course was stuffed squid, which I loved, but I had no idea what it was stuffed with. M Benoit was kind enough to offer us a white wine to go with our seafood, the Entre Deux Mer. That was a lovely wine, but again we just had a little taste.
Just as the cheese and salad course was being served, Steve made the mistake of trying to top up his red wine just as M Benoit walked back into the room. He started waiving his hands around, saying: “I am the wine grower.” He was ready to serve the St Emilion. It was good with the cheese and richer that the previous wine I suppose, but if I had to choose one to take away, I would choose the Bordeux Superior 2000.
After the cheese we had creme caramel and then M Benoit opened a sparkling version of his Entre Deux Mer.
I felt really good by the end of the meal – not too full and not too drunk. I slept really well that night.
Would you like to come back to my place? (Bergerac to Blasimon)
Friday, January 22
Fishing by the bridge on the river Dordogne at Bergerac
Antiques shop in Bergerac
Back from the market in Bergerac
It was a fine day and we got up reasonably early to head back to Bergerac. We parked up on the Aire and walked along the river and into the old town. We just had a general wander about with Jack and it was very pleasant. This town is just the right size for me. Some friends had said there were 250 parking spaces at the Cathedral and it was a great place to stay the night. However, we didn’t manage to find that area. We crossed over the bridge and came across a little market where we bought prawns and salmon for dinner and a baguette. We really needed some red wine as well as we only had Mr Camus’ whites and a rose.
We headed for the Aire in the little town of Frontenac, east of Bordeaux, which was about an hour and 40 minutes away. Before long we were driving through Bordeaux with vines everywhere we looked. Frontenac was a little village which seemed to have a couple of shops. We checked out the Aire and both the water and electricity were off. That wasn’t really a problem and we could have still spent the night there but we both felt is was missing a certain something. We backtracked to a vineyard we had seen up the road with a sign that welcomed motorhomes. We came to some big iron gates and could see a long drive leading up to a house. There was a intercom on the gate but nobody answered. It was 2.15pm so maybe it was still lunchtime.
Then, by chance, a woman in a car pulled up alongside us as we had stopped at the recycling bin to dispose of our empty bottles. She asked if we were looking for somewhere to stay the night and invited us to her place – the Domaine de Grand Homme. She said her husbands would be in and mentionned France Passion. I was quite releaved to find her details in the France Passion book because the property was really out of the way, along many winding roads. I don’t think we would have found it if we had been trying to.
M Bertrand Benoit was indeed back at the house and he gave us a guided tour. There’s a little shop selling mainly wine, a few rooms for bed and breakfast and a big dining room with an open fire. They serve dinner to those guests who would like to join them but we needed to eat our seafood while it was fresh.
We got the deckchairs out for the first time and drank rose wine in the sun. Jack made friends with their massive dog Tao, which I think was some sort of a mountain sheep dog.
I was still keen to try out Mme Benoits cooking so we asked if she could book us in for Saturday night. It would give us a chance to explore the area and come back to a home cooked French dinner.
A day out at McDonalds (Bergerac, Monbazillac)
Thursday, January 21
The good thing about today was that we had two good walks with Jack. We didn’t really do much else as I spent four hours in McDonalds updating my blog. We looked at the Aire in Bergerac with a view to staying the night there but it was on a really busy road and we wouldn’t have got much sleep. As we left that morning Mr Camus said it would be fine if we wanted to sleep there again. We decided to keep thing simple and return ot the Domaine de la Lande in Monbazillac, it was only about twenty minutes away.