Sunday, April 29, 2012

Another Bordeaux, S'il Vous Plaît

One note before we left Saint-Naizaire and the Plague Hotel.  The hotel itself was wonderful.  The restaurant was handy and we didn't feel like driving any further that evening.

The restaurant was very popular with locals, we think because it wasn't expensive and it served huge portions (think King's Table with a REALLY big table).  We didn't fully appreciate it when we were ordering and our waitress did not speak any English.  When we tried to work our way through the order with her, she invited another waiter who also did not speak any English but he spoke French slower, so that was a big help.  Saint-Naizarre is not an English-tourist hotspot (the receptionist asked us why we were there when we checked in), and there were no English menus.

We ordered a number of items which we were not sure of, but I did know what a pomme de terre (meaning potato) was and we "discussed that" with our wait staff.  We ended up with a somewhat confused wait staff and four baked potatoes.  Karen and I settled in, acting like it was exactly what we expected.  We couldn't quite finish our normal helping of four baked potatoes, but we thanked them for their efforts and commended their cooks.

We then drove off to Bordeaux!!  This was one of our longer drives and the weather was pretty stormy.

It took us awhile to get to our location in the Bordeaux region, we were in a chateau outside of a small town called Saint-Emilion.  We drove up to the Chateau Grand Barrail, which was easy for me to remember as the Bar Rail Hotel, though that wasn't exactly how they pronounced it.

After a wet and stormy drive, the place was an oasis. We had a lovely room in one of the towers. Our windows looked out over the vineyards from which the Chateau produces its own wine (which is very good, as we had it the first night we ate there). It was quiet, peaceful and luxurious.

That's Karen waving from our window!
Views from our windows.

We had a wonderful fixed-price menu for dinner and snuggled into bed for a very nice sleep.

The next day, armed with our Chateau-issued umbrellas (as it was still pouring), we went out to explore the area.  Saint-Emilion is a lovely French town, with cobblestone streets that wind up a hill.  We had a lovely lunch sitting outside in a village square, with an even lovelier bottle of Bordeaux.

We decided we should go to where they make some of this Bordeaux stuff and ventured off to a local winery.  It was not hard to find.  Driving down the roads in this area it is hard to avoid hitting a winery on pretty much every turn in the road.

We picked the particular Chateau winery with my normal scientific method.  The photo of the winery in the local winery map looked nice.  Karen asked why I picked that winery and I said, "I've heard they have good tours."  "From who?"  "Oh, you know, around."  Fortunately, they did have a good tour.  Our guide came from Spain, but had lived in New York and Montreal for a number of years, so he spoke English better than us.  Since we went on the tour, we have had several conversations as to his name and we are sure it starts with an "A" and sounds Spanish.  In any event, if you find yourself in Saint-Emilion at this winery, ask for him, he's great.

Because it had continued to rain, we were the only people on the tour which was very nice, a personal tour for a group rate.  The tour was very informative and a lot of fun.  We got to the tasting part and "A" joined right in with us.  I hadn't seen that before with a tour guide, but I wasn't one to quibble.  I did wonder what he would be like in the late afternoon of a busy day?

The next day, we were off to Lourdes!!

No comments: