Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Shopping in Paris

We are happy to be back in Paris. Today we walked from our apartment in the 6th arrondisement to the 2nd arr, 9th arr, and 1st arr. What a fun day of discovery. We were on a quest to go window shopping and discover Belle Epoque covered shopping galleries or passages. These historic shopping arcades were the precursor to our modern shopping malls. 

The Galerie Vero Dodat (1st arr) was built in 1826 and may be one of the most beautiful passages in the city.
The covered passages were developed between the late 18th century and the mid-19th century. Each passage has its own special character. Of the 140 covered passages that were built, twenty or so remain. We discovered five of them today. 

This is the galerie to go to for some really swanky shoes and high end purchases.

Dale checks to see that we are headed the right direction.

The passage du Grand-Cerf (1825) has high ceilings and a glass roof with unique shops.

Eric et Lydie has several  jewellery designers who were originally discovered by Christian Lacroix. Oo la la!
"Pour Vos Beaux Yeux" specializes in vintage eyewear.

The Galerie Vivienne  (1823). The architecture, mosaics and grand statues are truly beautiful. The  shops and restaurants are tres chic.

Mosaic floor is well preserved. Just think, this has been a nice place to shop and pass time on a rainy day in Paris for 192 years!

The Grand Colbert restaurant was close to the stock market (Bourse) and was a lovely place for lunch after several hours of walking and window shopping. 
The name "Le Grand Colbert" was taken from the name of King Louis XIV's famous minister. The building dates from 1637 but was renovated in 1985 to it's former grand Belle Epoque style. 

The Palais Royal is a hidden gem, the gardens, fountain and statues are surrounded by galleries and shops.  A delightful place to sit and read the paper or watch the world go by.

Walking under the trees, into a colonade and out into the entrance of the Comedie Francaise, across the Rue St. Honore and into the Louvre courtyard.

Napoleon built triumphant arches everywhere he went, including this one just in front of the main entrance to the worlds greatest museum, the Louvre.

The Champs Élysées from the Tuileries Gardens to the Arc de Triomphe on a beautiful September day.

Another great day, a long, long walk, and time to call it a wrap!
We have one last day to enjoy Paris. We decided to visit the Decorative Arts Museum housed in the west wing of the Louvre. It contains furniture, interior design, altar pieces, religious paintings, tapestries, wallpaper, ceramics, glassware and objects of art from the Middle Ages to the present day. 
 Complete rooms with original furniture from many historical periods provide a glimpse into how certain people lived.

Chairs were beautiful but are more comfortable today.

The craftsmanship and woodworking skills are fantastic.

Many different artforms from paintings,sculpture,metal work,glass work and fabrics are on display. 

The fine gold and silver, containers and clocks are exquisite and the detail is amazing.

Well, did I say the modern chairs are more comfortable? Maybe not. They are certainly not as beautiful as the three hundred year old armchairs we saw.

After leaving the museum we walked to the Place Vendome to look at the modern day jewels in the windows.  This diamond necklace would be expensive even to an oil sheik, and we saw many ladies, some with bodyguards, who looked like they were on mega shopping trips with petro dollars to spend.

great last day in Paris.  Now, where do we eat our last meal?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Day tours from Bordeaux

Tour #1

The quaint medieval 
village of Saint Emilion. The private tour of the carved underground was amazing but sadly no photos were allowed.

The macaron cookie recipe was developed by the nuns and you can taste them here! 

We passed a wedding in the Saint Emilion village church...very posh crowd.
The vineyards at Chateau de Soutard is the biggest Chateau in Saint Emilion.

A taste of a Chateau de Soutard blend....80% merlot and 20% cab franc. The original family sold 3 or 4 years ago to a large insurance company and both the Chateau and wine making area has been updated and remodeled. Wine cellars are original. 

Chateau de Sales in Pomerol began planting vineyards in 1464 before Columbus discovered America and the business still remains in the same family. 

Merlot grapes in sandy soil.

Tasting 72% merlot, 15% cab sav and 12% cab franc...delicious. All wine presold to America, England, Belgium, China and France of course.

Wine tasting in the Medoc region. This Chateau is modern and harvests all their grapes by machine. 

Barrel Room

A sea of grapes. Who says vineyards need to be on a hillside. Machines need flat ground.

We took a bus to the Medoc region and rode this boat back. Slow trip to Bordeaux because we were traveling upstream. It was a long day.

Tour #3

Hotel at Chateau Grand Barrail in Saint Emilion. Chateau was built in 1909 for the owner's mistress.

Indoor grand  staircase leads to restaurant and patio. 

Queen for the day! 

Lunch was extraordinary. Goat cheese wrapped with tomato aspic. Feast for the eyes!

Viticulturist examines nearby merlot grapes and pruning practices. 

We learned that for the most part the terroir in the Bordeaux region on the right bank of the Garonne river is limestone and gravel as you see in this photo. The left bank soil generally is more sandy and/or clay like.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bordeaux 2015

Day one in Bordeaux we settled in to our new apartment. Day two we took a cute little open air train around town to see some of the architecture in the city center. World Heritage site "Bordeaux" is the 2nd city in France after Paris with historical buildings. The city has grand avenues, attractive squares, gardens, intricate carved stone work, Gothic churches and a new sleek tram system.
Beautiful gardens

Intricate stone work 

Grand-Theatre (opera house) 1773-1780 with modern city tram 

Palais de la Bource (Business Exchange Complex)

Palace de la Bource (Business Exchange) has a nice Bistro du Gabriel with patio views of the river.

A charming tea salon is located in front of the Eglise Notre Dame  (1684-1707). The city is known as the blonde city because of the color of the local limestone. 

The local porous stone used in many of Bordeaux's buildings were marred by soot and pollution from the port and river over the centuries. By the 20th century many structures became quite dark and dingy. In 1995 a concerted effort began to clean up the center of the city and the efforts continue. A work in progress. 

This fountain is located in the Esplanade des Quinconces, the biggest square in France. The beautiful bronze statues were dismantled during WWII by Germans in search for metal. Fortunately in 1944 they were recovered in Angers and returned to Bordeaux. The sea drawn chariots symbolize peace and happiness.

One of the 15th century gates of the city.

The Cailhau Gate is a military structure dated 1493 dedicated to King Charles VII

Waiter in Bordeaux. 

Jardin Publique (public garden)

This is the outside of our 19th century two bedroom airbnb apt located next to the public garden. These windows open to the living room. Three more windows like this in Master bedroom. $175 per night.

Dining room and living room. This apartment is huge and the location is great! We walk everywhere.

The l'Ecole du Vin two hour class was a good introduction to both the grape varieties and wine regions of Bordeaux.

We had people from Denmark, Wales, England, Australia, France, Canada, Egypt, Mexico and Chicago in our wine class today. We smelled, we tasted and learned about the terroir of the 6,900 wineries and 25,000 wine chateaus of Bordeaux.

A Washington state viticulturist in Bordeaux.