In June 2017 I was a bridesmaid at one of my best friend’s weddings and they rented a beautiful chateau in the South West of France in a small village called Marthon.
After the wedding my dad drove down from Germany and picked me up to start our French road trip adventure.
Our first stop was Bordeaux. My immediate thought was what a quaint little town, with cobbled streets and intriguing alleyways. We had lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant at the Intercontinental Bordeaux Hotel (2-5, Place de la Comedie, 33000 Bordeaux). The property is a preferred partner of ours being in the Virtuoso network.
They have a fantastic Wine Concierge team and in a matter of minutes they had provided us with a personalized itinerary and made reservations for our next 24 hours.
Based on the Concierge’s recommendation we drove an hour outside of Bordeaux for dinner to a restaurant called La Corniche (46 Avenue Louis Gaume, 33115 Pyla Sur Mer), The seafood was to die for.
Did you know that region is home to sand pyramids? Well I didn’t, but this restaurant had a lovely view of it and we enjoyed watching an incredible sunset.
That afternoon, as we only had limited time we decided to do a real tourist activity and jumped on one of the open top buses to do a city tour and learn about the history. It was great!
The next morning we wondered around Bordeaux, it’s such a walkable city and I enjoyed walking around without a plan. I came across cool markets and grabbed breakfast in a small café and people watched.
We then headed out to the countryside. Lunch was booked at La Terrasse Rouge (1 La Dominique, 33330 Saint Emilion) another recommendation from the InterContinental’s Wine concierge team.
The restaurant seemed in the middle of nowhere but as soon as we arrived we saw how busy it was. After a warm greeting by the Restaurant Manager we will whisked to the best table of the house. It really does pay to go with the concierge’s recommendations as we were treated like VIPs.
My delicious main course...
After lunch we headed to Saint Emilion. Unlike my experience of wine tasting in Mendoza and Sonoma, in France you cannot really just walk in, the chateaus all take bookings as they are private tastings. We visited La Tour Saint Christope and it was beautiful. They actually have one apartment at the top they now rent. We drove through countless roads sandwiched between vineyards and passed so many quaint little towns and villages on our trip.
That night we stayed at a stunning property called Chateau Mirambeau, also part of the Virtuoso network, The property has recently re-opened after a multi million dollar renovation.
Exploring the grounds...
Being a spa lover I had decided to book myself in for a treatment as they had a wonderful spa. The 60 minute massage was fantastic and I practically had the spa facilities to myself which was a treat! This property is also part of the Relais and Chateau portfolio so I knew the dinner experience would be exquisite. The Chef had 1 Michelin Star too. The dinner was a grand affair.
Breakfast was divine and housed in this stunning room with high ceilings. Dad and I explored the grounds and it was great to walk through the tunnels and steeples and re-live a bit of history.
Next stop was the Loire Valley where we stayed at a lovely Small Luxury Hotel of the World property called Chateau D’Artigney. It had quite the entrance and you felt like royalty pulling into the drive. The hotel does need some renovations but we enjoyed the experience nonetheless.
The next morning we set off for Paris and the journey was estimated to take around 5 hours. We broke up our journey with lunch at a stunning Relais and Chateaux property called Domaine Des Hauts De Loire. This was my favourite property of the trip and I hope to go back and spend a couple of nights there in the future.
They have a 2 Michelin star restaurant called The Bistrot by Chef Remy Giraud, where we had lunch. This was my first 2 star Michelin dining experience and it was out of this world. You were not given a menu- your waiter asks if you prefer meat or fish then it is left to the chef’s hand. The lunch experience turned into a 5 course meal, with the amuse bouche, appetizers, palate cleanser, main and desserts.
Beautifully paired with local wine.
it was a real treat and I feel very lucky to have experienced since a fine dining experience. The property has an amazing cooking school on site; which we can book for our clients. They were also building a brand new spa facility, which is now open for business and should encourage longer stays in this blissful part of the world.
For our final evening together in Paris, we were booked to experience an EatWith dinner. For those of you who don’t know, EatWith is an awesome new platform which connects travellers with locals in various cities around the world; and you go to their home for lunch or dinner. Click here for more information, As we only had the night in Paris I really wanted to see the Eiffel Tower and we were fortunate enough to be connected to a host who had a large terrace overlooking Parisian rooftops and a stellar view of the tower. The evening was perfect. We were welcomed with champagne and appetizers. Our host Cathy was a fantastic cook and we were treated to a 5 course meal, complement with three different types of baguette.
I highly recommend the EatWith experience. It beat just going to a nice restaurant because not only do you get to try local cuisine but spend a few hours exchanging stories with a local. If you are interested in booking this for your next vacation please let us know!
I could have easily spent another week or two exploring France. I look forward to going back- a river cruise or barge experience is also very appealing! If you have any questions or want to book a trip to France yourself please get in touch!