Rocking the wine cellar!

Touring the vineyards in the Corbieres region in the fall is always a much-awaited, special time of the year, but one cannot expect the stunning and wonderful scenario Chateau Valmy offers. Its vineyards and grounds are so beautifully manicured and landscaped!  The view from the adjacent restaurant terrace is stunning. You’re only a stone’s throw from Collioure and Argeles, meaning not far from Perpignan and the spanish border. Where else can you go to see the Mediterranean sea, the coastline, the Pyrenees mountains and the vineyard at its best?

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IMG_7049If you venture inside the building to see the machinery …what comes next is not the latest fancy night-club, but the most incredible wine cellar in the region!

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I was completely in awe when I discovered this incredible wine cellar design. The blue LED lights, the shape, and the way it’s incorporated into the rest of the house is truly spectacular.

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Such a strange encounter for my poor iPhone 4!

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Talking about haute-couture…

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Good night Chateau Valmy!

Special thanks to our friends Mr and Mrs Carboneil who run this family business, which  includes a restaurant and a romantic hotel. We’ll be coming back next year!

Chemin de Valmy 66700 | Argelès sur Mer | France
+33 (0)4 68 81 25 70
http://www.chateau-valmy.com

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A historic encounter!

While seeking the early signs of autumn in the Corbieres region -in vain-, I have discovered a very special historic site. We are in the midst of autumn and my desire was to feature spreads of orange and red leaves.  But this year, the weather  having just not been co-operating, apart from the vineyards stripped from their grapes, the Corbieres are still dressed in green.

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However,  this is what we (my dog first!) have discovered:

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The Via Domitia

…was the first Roman road built in Gaul, to link Italy and Hispania across what is now southern France. The route that the Romans regularised and paved was ancient when they set out to survey it, so old that it traces the mythic route travelled by Heracles. Hannibal traversed it on his way from Hispania to Italy. It was constructed in 118 BC by Domitius Ahenobarbus, at the same time the first Roman colony  -Narbonne- was founded in Gaul.

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In between the cities that it linked, the Via Domitia was provided with a series of mansiones at distances of a day’s journey for a loaded cart, at which shelter, and fresh horses could be obtained for « business »travelers …

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The mind boggles…

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…at the chariot ruts of Via Domitia

Unlike the Narbonne monument which showcases, right across the Narbonne town hall,  a short stretch of that same Via Domitia, its intriguing world can only be felt in such a wild and natural environment. I am fascinated by the resonance of neglected Heritage. One gets the peculiar feeling of inhabiting both past and present. This is not about nostalgia, but one just wonders how these sites have traversed time. One feels the link with the past, the link with the unknowable people who traveled on Via Domitia.

And the historic encounter became an emotional experience!

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Still summer in the South West / continued

One of the biggest pleasures I have in doing this blog is the discovery of new inspiration, ideas and thoughts. For me it is much more than just talking about my favorite places and things, and all that is beautiful and timeless. It’s a lifeline and a great sense of creative excitement. We’re still focusing on Monsieur Guerard’s sensational gardens  in the South West of France this week. I am so taken with how green and lush the gardens all are… The whole park really is just beyond!  Enjoy the visit to this vegetable garden delight.  Those of us who love a garden and the process of creating one can appreciate the dedication, the passion.  All those flowers, those plants, the romantic setting!

The little house in the South West...

The little house in the South West…

It's a good thing there's an old but sturdy banister to hold not o!

So much charm! It’s a good thing there’s an old but sturdy fence to hold on to!

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A vegetable garden delight…

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Tomatoes at their best!

Inside the "la ferme aux grives" restaurant

Inside the “la Ferme aux grives” restaurant

Enjoy the beauty captured!

Enjoy the catch of the day!

Motto of the week: as Voltaire reminds us at the end of Candide,

“We must cultivate our own garden.”!

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And summer lingered on…in the South West

For weeks now autumn has been predicted in France, and every summer salad has been welcome as if it were the last one. But then a new day comes, out go the tomatoes and the chilled rosé. As I am writing this, sweater season is said to be soon upon us.
 Autumn will be welcome here in the South West  but until then, we’ll be happy to keep entertaining our special guest, our “never-ending summer” (28° Celsius this weekend!) And as summer is all about being outside, here is one of the most spectacular gardens in southwestern France…. There really are no words that can describe the beauty, the grace, the restraint, the reverence, the thoughtfulness, of the garden of Mr and Mrs Michel Guerard in Eugenie-les-Bains, therefore, I’m going to let the pictures I took tell the story – the story of the sunken garden,  the parterre garden… The story of an affair!  The garden is how I like them, very french! high clipped hedges, ornamental allées, topiaries, boxwoods, classical parterres laid out in squares, circles and rectangles. The whole place is spectacular green, green, green, and so chic!  might I add I love all the terracotta pots, benches, and garden ornaments sprinkled around.

Michel Guerard is a world-famous chef and its property includes various venues and 3 restaurants, including a fantastic rustic barn converted into the most fantastic small (and more affordable) restaurant on which we will expand in a next post.

Mr and mrs Guerard did create a magic garden…

Heaven…

Love is all you need

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Enjoy  the enchanted garden in the perfect light!

Michel Guerard

234 rue RenéVieille, 40320 Eugenie-les-Bains, France.

Tel: 00(33)558 050 607

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A Cuban legacy in Begur, Spain

If you were looking for a chic respite from all the high-octane action of the back-to-school scenario in France, you could have considered Begur, Spain. A quaint catalan town located just an hour away from the French border. Its striking medieval castle and its numerous and truly remarkable colonial-style houses bear traces of a long history of pirates, sailors, fishermen and…wealthy emigrants returning from Cuba. At the beginning of September, the village of Begur hosts the «Fira d’ Indians» and celebrates a period of history that has become part of its DNA: the emigration of the local people to Cuba and the Americas in the 19th century and their subsequent return. The “Indianos” who had struck it rich tried to recreate their lifestyle in Cuba and built gorgeous mansions that still evoke the elegant languor of Begur’s 19th century heyday today.

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Once you get past the entry of those villas you are greeted with a sense of authenticity, classicism and history. The moldings, cornices, murals, the colors, the patterns, the details and baseboards are a story in themselves.

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…Words that come to mind: opulent, extravagant! To me, a lesson in more is more!

The fish which adorns a vaulted ceiling refers here to the name of the owner, the Indiano Pere Roger.

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Two-in-one boutiques are proliferating all over Begur, with sometimes odd but often interesting pairings of goods and antiques.

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Shabby chic is part of the game in my favorite boutique!

During the festival, Begur’s main streets and squares host a food market and craft demonstrations. After sunset you can stroll through the lively scene of cafés and bars and enjoy musical performances, whether they be cuban bands, ” havaneres” -a capella groups singing shanties brought back from Cuba-, or historic street shows.

Don’t miss out on this exciting event next year!

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