Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Winter in France

gite en paradisSomewhere in the middle of January, I was looking through some cookbooks and recipe cards I had brought back from one of my trips through Bourgogne. Though we love France in the summer, a while ago we discovered there’s quite some magic to be found in French vineyards during winter. Driving past the bare vines and seeing all the hard work involved in the production of wine makes you appreciate the product even more. That’s why we love vacationing in Bourgogne around late February, especially in the Côte Chalonnaise, an area known for producing the ‘other’ Burgundy wines. Not as fancy as those in the Côte d’Or, but wonderful nonetheless. A few years ago I wrote an article about this wine region, and you can read it here. This is the region of Mercurey, Givry, Rully & Montagny. Names I’m sure will sound familiar to any wine lover.
While looking through some of the recipes cards (which I happened to get at the wine cave in Buxy), my daughter Kirstie caught glance of them and asked when we were going back. By Friday, I had booked the best house I could possiblly find in the village, and the countdown to the big day began!
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Back to Bourgogne… and a tarte aux pommes

tarte aux pommesSunday: Today started off very gray with a light drizzle of rain. It was rather cold, but we still headed to the market in Chalon-sur-Saône after a breakfast of bacon and eggs cooked in our rustic French kitchen. I did the cooking as Hans tended to a fire to get the kitchen nice and toasty and provide a little atmosphere to our first full day back in Bourgogne.
Even though it’s winter, the market at Chalon is phenomenal! What an explosion of color! And what beautiful food presentations! There was pink garlic, freshly-slaughtered, fat Bresse chickens, artisanal cheeses, fragrant pastries and even an oyster stand. I took notice of a beautiful butcher’s truck where tongue and pigs’ feet were on display. Odd to some, normal to the French.
After the market, we drove back to Buxy for lunch, only to find that the only restaurant serving lunch on Sunday was the local bar, Bar Le Bacchus. We decided to give it a try, and it turned out to be exactly what we were looking for. We had steak-frites with a bottle of local Givry wine and for dessert the best îles flottantes ever. Not all that bad for ‘bar food’. After a meal like that, there was little choice but to roll back home and spend the rest of the day by the fire”

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Le Touquet-Paris-Plage (& Nord-Pas-de-Calais), Part III

I was supposed to write a follow-up to my last post, but France didn’t let me. We got back to our apartment after a lovely dinner at Restaurant Du Marché, and the only thing I wanted to do was let the whole day just sink in.
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage We ate at Du Marché last year, but I had no idea it was such a popular place until last Saturday evening. Swarms of wealthy Parisians started pouring in at around 8PM, removing their fancy fur coats and ordering glasses of champagne. The place was absolutely buzzing, and the food was great. I had the Marmite Du Marché, a rich fish soup with cream, mussels, cod, salmon and potatoes. So incredibly good! How I wish I would’ve had room for dessert. Instead I had a Grand Marnier. Majorly bummed that they didn’t have Armagnac.
Le Touquet-Paris-PlageThe next day was Easter Sunday and even though we weren’t home, I still tried to make our table a little festive. We had a nice breakfast (though everyone was so not amused with my stinky Maroilles) and then headed out for a drive through the countryside and beaches. If you know me, you probably know that my heart belongs to Le Sud Ouest. This region, however, has something magical. I feel that every time I look out over the endless hills or breathe in the salty ocean air.
Our drive took us through a few different places, including Wimereux, Audresselles and Ambleteuse, where we stopped for lunch.
Nord Pas-de-Calais IMG_4401 (1) unnamed (1)When hubby suggested where we should go for lunch, I hesitated. From the looks of the place, called ‘Le Freestyle‘, I wasn’t too convinced. We went in and were greeted by a very friendly young man who quickly seated us. Just in time, because moments later, everyone who came in was turned down. It was a simple resto, all decked out in American style (license plates everywhere, blues and country music playing in the background). The food (and wine) were surprisingly good. I had the regional specialty, potjevleesch, which is a cold meat terrine, somewhat similar to Burgundy’s jambon persillé. If I’m back in the area, I will definitely return.
IMG_4412I even had room for dessert, a yummy café gourmand, with a kick ass mousse au chocolat and crème brûlée.
dessertThe rest of the day included a little relaxing and more walks on the beach. We certainly took advantage of the beautiful weather.
Nord-Pas-de-Calais Nord-Pas-de-CalaisThat night we also made a late dinner reservation, just so we could see the sun set. It was stunning. We walked down the boulevard as the sun slowly went to sleep, not saying ‘good-bye’, just saying ‘until next time’.
Le Touquet-Paris-PlageLe Touquet-Paris-PlageOur dinner reservation was at Café Leffe, one of the few places that was not fully booked. I think all of Paris arrived (and quickly booked every restaurant!) the day before. Luckily, this proved to be a lovely place, too. I started with oysters and a glass of Chardonnay. My main was the leg of lamb (succulent and beautifully cooked), and for dessert, I had to have the crêpe with salted caramel. Yes, I was stuffed, but it was worth it!
Le Touquet-Paris-PlageThat last day was well-spent. The next morning, after a pain au raisin, we headed back to Holland.
boulangerieCan’t wait to see you again, Le Touquet-Paris-Plage!
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage

Easter Weekend in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage

For the last few years, we’ve been spending Easter weekend in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, a luxury beachside resort in the north of France. It’s just a little under five hours away from us, and it’s an absolute joy to hop in the car in the morning and be here just in time for lunch. Here’s an impression of how our day has been so far! I hope to post updates during the next three days, so stay tuned!
We started our day at 6AM, but were out the door around 8AM. Luckily, it was a smooth drive. Last year it took us twelve hours to get here. Thank goodness there was no traffic!
One of the things I always look forward to when we go to France is that first cup of coffee at a gas station (in Belgium). With a chocolatine or a croissant. Don’t judge.

on the way to France

No idea why it’s so appealing. Maybe because I know that it’s just the beginning. The beginning of days that feel like months. Hey, we know how to make the most of our time!
After our stop, it was just a few more hours before we arrived in France. Before getting to our house, we took a turn and went to look for a restaurant for lunch. We ended up in Plage Sainte-Cécile, a quiet beachside town with a few interesting looking restaurants. Brasserie La Paix was our choice. Our very, very good choice.
wine in France steak-fritesI ordered us a carafe of red wine and our standard ‘bienvenue en France’ meal. I’m not a fancy girl. I have simple tastes. Thank you, La Paix, it was perfect. Everything I was dreaming about for the last month.
With full tummies and glowing with the happiness of simple wine (me), we went for a walk at the beach. It was drizzling and gray, but who cares! We’re in France! Even Pastis agreed. Although he was probably not looking forward to three days of sitting under restaurant tables.
IMG_4116 A short while later we arrived at our charming little apartment in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from the center. We are staying at Les Confidences. Very nice landlady and very comfortable little place.
Le Touquet-Paris-PlageWe unpacked, fed the pooch and went for another walk… and another drink, or two.
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage ILe Touquet-Paris-PlageCold and rainy, but we were sitting under heating lamps, and again, IN FRANCE!
After some people-watching and philosphizing, we crossed the street to the bakery and bought a Tarte Tropézienne (shared by Kirstie and I) and a croissant for hubs. Oh and a baguette for breakfast tomorrow. I like my baguette slightly stale. But damn, that tarte! Worth every glorious calorie!
IMG_4146Which perhaps I made up for by taking another walk through town — a foodie paradise alright! Loads of seafood and specialty shops.
fruit market in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage jams preserves produce in France oysters Our day hasn’t ended yet. There’s still dinner coming up, right after I finish this post. Where? I’ll tell you tomorrow. We’ll also be visiting the market, which will be taking place right around the corner from us. It’s supposed to be quite something.
Le Touquet-Paris-PlageSo, that was most of our first day! Yes, I am already floating and soaring with pleasure… See you tomorrow!

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