Friday, August 29, 2014

From Bourbon Street to Las Rambles Part Two: One Week in Bordeaux

Bordeaux and its lovely countryside. 

Following our lovely time in Paris, we planned a week long stay in a country house in the Bordeaux region, near St Emilion. 

Paris by Caroline Shepard 

Driving from Paris with stops in Versailles along the way, Caroline would later reflect:
"Long, beautiful drive from Paris to the Bordeux region. Traveling without knowing the language or the small ways in which we are different has again reminded me that in life you must seize the moment, don't postpone anything when it presents itself...including gas!" 

With an emergency stop in Tours and a scamble to find a cash machine, we arrived after midnight,  my brother greeting us  to show us the road late in the night.

We’d stay up talking for hours. 

The next morning, we explored the home and the region, enjoying a dip in the pool and a drive in the countryside looking for a place to pick up materials for the evening’s coq au vin..  We left around 12:30, missing all the open grocery stores, exploring town after town.   Apparently, there was not a market open anywhere open Sunday afternoons.  But we kept driving, into Bordeaux, into the Center Villa, where for I held out hope for someone to buck the trend and open for a few hours. 

Driving through Bordeaux, several halal markets stood open, ready to take advantage of an opportunity to cater to everyone who had not planned their day earlier. The city always opens spaces for outsiders, intersections of cultures and ideas.  Unlike similar markets in New York, these markets still sold liquor, providing us with chicken and veggies for our coq au vin.  A recipe born of the Napoleonic wars when all that was left for the general was a tomato, a bottle of wine, and a chicken, the result was a feast.  Julian Child wrote about how nothing tastes as delicious French chicken can be and these did not disappoint. ‘

Caroline Shepard

Over dinner, we talked about the French revolution, our plans, and the next days’ hike to warm us up for the Camino.

Later that night after dinner, we heard a noise, discovering a thicket of birds flying out from a bamboo forest in the night, a crazy, joyous moment in time.  The space was full of surprises.

We were staying in the country home of a French doctor who’d lived there for 45 years.  The home was a work of art, with games, books, plants, wine bottles strewn about, green vines and sunlight splashing throughout the house filled with family photos and lots and lots of books.  Nothing polished, but full love, life, creativity and abundance. 

Our first mini Camino hike was some twelve k, getting stuck in the rain, but enjoying the afternoon.

Caroline was really excited about the first hike.

Caroline really loved the second hike.  Emotions vacillating from delight to pain, the joy of victory to the agony of defeat and back.

The countryside was full of big lovely skies and vistas. 

Later that night, we’d enjoy our 14th wedding anniversary, drinking wine and watching the sun set on water.

Scenes from a fantastic anniversary dinner. 

The next morning we'd visit the market, tooling around all day. 

Sometimes travel is agony.   Its hard to be eight and have to go the French countryside with your family. 

We explored the rest of the afternoon.

Eventually we stopped at the Rauzan Castle.  Built in 1199 on a rock occupied since antiquity, the site was a witness to the 100 Years War and countless other battles. Now it stands as a quiet memory of another time.

Day three, everyone journeyed out to St Emilion for wine tasting,exploring and out for dinner in the countryside with the kids.  At St Emilion, we all washed our feet in the fountains.  The kids played and the grownups drank Aperol spitz.

the exquisite light shone as the kids played.  at one point, will said he seemed to see a silhouette of dad playing with bruce as the sun set.  i know dad would have loved that mean in the garden.  

Day four, Will and I snuck out for breakfast with Mom.  And, the kids and I set out for our first hike on the Camino.  We began at a lovely church the Abby de Sainte Ferme, playing cards in the courts, wandering through the afternoon.  But not after a quiet morning of taking in the beauties of our temporary country home.

Day five, we meandered for a hike to a vineyard before a wine tasting. The hike would last all day.

Later that night, we enjoyed a final dinner with mom and company at La Plague.

Not sure how many more of these trips we’re going to g take with Mom, so we relished the last meal with her on the trip. Over the years, we've traveled to France, Germany, Sweeden, Ireland, Italy, in between cris crossing the US together.  We all chatted about Musee CLUNY in Paris and the highlights of the trip.  Starting with Dad's funeral, Will, Mom and I have been through a lot this summer.  That funeral felt like a chapter from the Optimists Daughter, the Eudora Welty novel I was reading the whole trip.

The walks through the vineyards of France preparing for the Camino opened a new chapter for our lives, a new story for everyone. 

No comments:

Post a Comment