Happy Holidays Enjoy the Festive Season from Ginger and Nutmeg

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas 

Happy Hanukkah

Happy Holidays Ginger and Nutmeg 2017

Thank you for following Ginger and Nutmeg all over the map! Click here to check posts by map pin points.

We travelled to Australia (Melbourne for foodies, a 3-day visit to Sydney, and give Nutmeg Brisbane any day).

Parapont Noosa Headlands Sunshine Beach Sunrise Noosa Headlands Alexandra Bay Views Noosa Headlands Noosa Surfers Noosa Headlands

Then again Provence is always close to Nutmeg’s heart from sunflowers to cherry season recipes (clafoutis). Planning a trip to Provence in 2018? Check-out the G&N Perfectly Provence Touring Tips. And for new Provence temptation everyday skip over to Perfectly Provence for information on everything from food and wine to expat living. Find out where Pablo Picasso is buried and the legend of a monster and a castle in Tarascon.

Market Spices #FoodieTravel #TastesofTravel @GingerandNutmeg

 

Music fans should plan a visit to New Orleans for Jazz Fest. While you are in the “Big Easy” here are G&N’s tips for 5 Things your should do in New Orleans during your visit. Some extra reading before your visit: 5 Essentials for New Orleans Jazz Fest and New Orleans Jazz Fest A-Z for Foodies.

Shoes Jazz Fest @JazzJest #JazzFest #NOLA #NewOrleans Bourbon Street @JazzJest #JazzFest #NOLA #NewOrleans Umbrellas Jazz Fest @JazzJest #JazzFest #NOLA #NewOrleans

Of course there is always a place for Paris in Nutmeg’s heart. Our Paris Favourites list for your next trip and a shopping tour by Kasia Dietz.

Kasia-Dietz-@KasiaDietzBags kasia-dietz-handbags-rive-droite-rive-gauche @kasiadietzbags

Here are some recipe ideas for the holidays and entertaining.

Happy Holidays! 

Clos de Montmartre a Vineyard in Paris

Nutmeg had read about a small vineyard in Paris, located in the shadows of the Sacré-Coeur spires. The last time either Ginger or Nutmeg had been to Montmartre was in the 1980s. After a crazy taxi ride complete with construction bottlenecks, pre-Christmas traffic, impossibly narrow streets and hills only fit for funiculars they arrived in the middle of a mob scene. A clear Saturday afternoon right before sunset, it was immediately obvious why there had been a 30-year gap since their last visit.

Sacre Coeur

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Easy Visit to Bordeaux and the Famous Vineyards

Some time ago (number of years not to be disclosed here) Nutmeg travelled to San Sebastian, Spain via train. At that point, backpack travel was heavily influenced by “Europe on $20 a Day” and where your Eurail pass would take you. So, she and her travel companion spent a total of two hours in Biarritz and about the same in Bordeaux.

A visit to France’s southwest was long overdue.

This time G&N are not travelling on Eurail passes or sleeping in hostels. They were booked on a six-day guided walking tour through the Pays Basque. Nutmeg convinced Ginger to visit Bordeaux, its famous vineyards and venture to the Atlantic coast for a few days before the walking trip started. As their available time shrunk, so did the itinerary. In the end, they decide on two nights in Bordeaux, two in wine country and two in Biarritz. Spain would have to wait for another time.

The drive from Provence to Bordeaux is a relatively painless journey on super-highways. Just over six hours later they arrived in Bordeaux’s historic centre at the Mama Shelter. The hotel is close to shops, historic sights and it has a long cocktail list. What more do you need? G&N decided to go for a short pre-dinner stroll to orient themselves and do a bit of sight-seeing in the dying September daylight.

Bordeaux Street Art

Beautiful Bordeaux

If you could fall in love with a city, it might be Bordeaux. A pedestrian-friendly walking and cycling path stretches the length of the milk chocolate coloured Gironde River. Along the way you see skateboarders, box lacrosse players, hip-hop dance moves and much more. Bordeaux has a young vibe thanks to its university (Nutmeg says, “Wish I had thought of that”).

Bordeaux Panorama

However, the city is not young. Traces of human settlement in the area date to the 6th century BC. Burdigala was the Roman name for Bordeaux an important trading post in the “the land of waters” – present day Aquitaine. We can all thank the Romans (not Robert Parker, but that is another story) for the birth of the wine trade in this region.

Bordeaux Gros Cloche Gate

Other than the sweeping bend of a muddy river the first thing that struck Nutmeg upon arrival in Bordeaux was the gleaming limestone buildings. It is no wonder some call the city “little Paris.” UNESCO awarded Bordeaux World Heritage status for its notable 18th-century architecture in both private and public buildings.

Bordeaux City Hall Hotel de Ville

The next day dawned with a threatening sky, but the Weather Channel App challenged nature with a sunny forecast. The app was correct. G&N headed to the tourist office to purchase the 24-hour version of the Bordeaux City Card. Once activated the card allows for access to many historical sites, museums and the use of public transit. The only issue is on Mondays (the day they bought their passes) several places are closed. Buyer beware!

Bordeaux Monument aux Girondins

Their timing was perfect to join the 10 am walking tour which starts at the main tourist office. The tour (in English) lasts about two hours. It is an informative overview of some key events in Bordeaux’s history and main sites. Highly recommended by G&N. However, the guide’s lack of enthusiasm for her job was evident. Perhaps she wanted to do the French tour, or stay in bed? Who knows.

Bordeaux Pont Chaban Delmas

Bordeaux Cité du Vin

The balance of the day G&N walked and walked and walked. Although their phone logs disagreed, their total walking distance was between 17.8 and 19.5km. Certainly, far enough to justify the glass of wine that is part of your entry fee to the Cité du Vin (museum, shops, restaurants and exhibition space dedicated to wines of the world). And, the bottle they shared at dinner.

Bordeaux Cité du Vin Belvedere Wine Tasting

Bordeaux Eglise St Louis de Chartrons

Exploring Bordeaux Wine Country

Day two. It was time to head to wine country, which is literally on Bordeaux’s doorstep. Their first stop was Pomerol and then onto Saint Emilion. There were plenty of signs for renowned vineyards, but few indications that degustation (wine tasting) was welcome. The winemakers were in full harvest mode and hosting tourists to sample their wines was not a priority.

G&N had been warned that these wine country villages lacked charm, except for Saint-Émilion. Situated on a hilltop surrounded by stone terraces, the remains of rampart walls and this village oozes with medieval history. Saint-Émilion is also brimming with wine boutiques and other opportunities to part with some of your hard-earned cash. G&N arrived in time to join the guided “Underground Tour” which includes a visit to the monolithic church. In 90-minutes they had gained a better appreciation for Saint-Émilion’s history – don’t miss this tour. Tour details here.

Adjusting Travel Plans

Their dinner reservation at 20h left just enough time for a little wine shopping and relaxation. Thanks to Visa the shopping part was executed without any trouble. The relaxation part, however, took a turn for the worse, Nutmeg strained her knee (it’s an old age thing), and basically, dinner plans were thrown in the air. What was to be a gourmet dining experience, turned out to be Ginger searching for pizza. Ever the boy scout he returned with pizza, grilled veggies and a bottle of Bordeaux red. Nutmeg was virtually immobile in the second story apartment that they had rented.

The next morning was bright and sunny but clouded by Nutmeg’s immediate vision. How was the heck was she going to get down two long flights of stairs? And, then scale the uneven cobblestone street. Ginger to the rescue! He executed a masterful car-jockey move and managed to drive through the tiny streets during the morning delivery “window” and before the roads were closed to pedestrians.

Blaye Visit Cut Short

Nutmeg’s virtual friend J.Christina suggested that they visit the citadel at Blaye before crossing the Gironde River by ferry. Unfortunately, walking more than 100 meters, even with hiking poles, and anything that looked like stairs was out of the question, so a visit to this remarkable site was not going to happen. The following is from J.Christina’s original blog post “Blaye, France: Le Citadelle de Blaye.

Blaye rampart walls-J.Christina

Let me introduce you to Blaye, France, a petite but mighty hamlet, sitting at the southern tip of the Gironde estuary, formed by the confluences of the nearby Dordogne and Garonne rivers. Blaye is a historical and powerful commune from medieval times, where the Citadel of Blaye and its military fortifications sit majestically over the waters of Western Europe’s largest estuary.

Le Citadelle de Blaye, a medieval fortress, along with Fort Médoc and Fort Paté, formed a military defense system during the 18th and 19th centuries to protect the downstream port of Bordeaux from sea invasions and wars. It is a legendary example of engineering genius and Romanesque architecture designed and built by the famous engineer Vauban and named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. A picture-postcard town, with scarred ramparts that bear witness to battles and conflict through this gallant maritime route.

Enchanting Blaye-J. Christina

Nowadays, the citadel is a living monument, where inside the bastion, a warren of cobblestone streets, stone houses, artisan shops, cafes, and wine shops, still thrive. From atop the medieval walls of this photogenic Blaye Citadel, there are stunning panoramic views of the estuary and across to the famed Médoc. It’s a place here photographers return time, and time again to catch a shot of the golden light that reflects on the estuary waters.

Please click here to read the balance of her post.

Crossing the Gironde estuary by ferry takes 15-25 minutes, depending on the tides. As described by J.Christina, at this point the Garonne and Dordogne rivers have joined, and the roiling, tan water is heading towards the Atlantic. The ferry captain must manipulate tidal forces and river’s current to execute a sweeping crossing of the estuary. Once on the other side, the famed chateaux of Médoc are within easy driving distance. However, in most cases, an appointment (or guide) is required to visit these “temples” of wine.

Over the week, Nutmeg’s knee got progressively better helped by many terrific wines.

Bordeaux Wine

Image credits: Photos of Blaye citadel and street scene in Blaye by J.Christina


Key websites for trip planning:

Bordeaux Tourism 

Saint-Émilion Tourism

A Visit to the Tarascon Castle and the Legend of a Monster in Provence

The Heart of Darkness or Niger Focus (later Nerluc) might have been an appropriate name for the hamlet located on the shores of a murky, swampy river. The muddy, opaque waters fueled rumours cultivating the nightmares of residents who asked was the beast:

A huge serpent?
A dragon?
A fierce half-lion?
A vicious turtle?

Tarascon Monster #Tarascon #Tarasque #ProvenceLegends @GingerandNutmeg

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Pablo Picasso at Rest near Aix-en-Provence

Château de Vauvenargues is located in the village by the same name, a few kilometers from Aix-en-Provence. This castle has a lengthy history.  The present structure was built on the site of a former Roman settlement. Over the centuries, Provencal counts and then the Archbishops of Aix occupied the castle. Clearly, it pays to be the doctor of a king; in 1474 Roi René gifted the Château to his physician Pierre Robin d’Angers.

chateau-de-vauvenargues

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Learn about Casanova and the Jardins d’Albertas of Bouc-Bel-Air in Provence

Whether fiction or not, Nutmeg thinks it is appropriate that Casanova the infamous Venetian writer, gambler and reputed womanizer is weaved into the history of les Jardins d’Albertas.

This garden, owned by the Albertas family, is located just a few minutes outside of Aix-en-Provence in the town of Bouc-Bel-Air, where the ancient village was built on a bouc (small hill).

The roots of the Albertas family stretch from Alba, Italy to Aix-en-Provence, where their influence on the Provençal city is notable. Henri and his son Jean-Baptiste d’Albertas, both held the high-ranking title of Président de la Cour des Comptes (Court of Auditors).

Jardin d'Albertas Fountain

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Sunny Sunflowers Why We Love The French Tournesols

Provençal postcards, Pinterest boards and Instagram are filled with photos of sunny sunflowers. Long before the Internet these beautiful flowers inspired Vincent Van Gogh to paint a still life series called Tournesols (Sunflowers). He painted the first of the group in 1887, in Paris, and then later (1888-89) in Arles.

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Retail Nightmares Big-Box Shopping in France

Nutmeg is here to tell you that Big-Box shopping is the same nightmare in France, as it is in Palm Springs, Chicago, Airdrie and Scarborough.

Big-box retail (think Target and Walmart) has evolved as a cost effective development strategy, under the guise of offering consumer convenience.  Without boring you all with the details, this concept works well for the landlord and tenant as no party is too “invested” in the location.  The big-box retail model has evolved from “destination” single stores, into power-centres where the customer can spend an entire day cruising hundreds of outlet stores. 

Market bags

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5 Reasons You Must Visit Plan a Visit to Australia’s Noosa Headlands

Despite early beginnings (1879) as a protected area, the Noosa Headlands would not exist if real estate developers had been successful in their push for further coastal development. Luckily for visitors and residents today, park advocates won their bid to protect the natural landscape in the 1960s. Read more about the Noosa Parks Association here.

Noosa Surfers #Noosa @Noosa

So, why should you visit the Noosa Headlands?

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Not to be Missed a Brisbane City Break for a Relaxing Stop-Over

“Give me Brisbane Any Day”

After driving nearly 3000 km from Sydney to Adelaide, G&N were happy to hand over the rental car keys. Virgin Australia winged them from cool, rainy Adelaide to sunny and slightly humid Brisbane City.

Nutmeg was in semi-tropical heaven.

Lone Pine Koala Sancutary Birds #Brisbane #Australia

“Brissy” invited G&N to explore her neighbourhoods starting with Brisbane’s South Bank. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, this lively venue is where the playground collides with the bar scene. Restaurants compete for clientele on their umbrella sheltered patios and kids’ laughter, from the swimming area, slices through the odd break in the bar music.

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