Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: chateau

Wedding day

After almost 8 months of planning, the wedding happened on October 4th in magical Bordeaux. Yep, I married Jian, the love of my life, in the city where we met. Well to be exact, it happened in the village of Quinsac, about 15 km from central Bordeaux where a church friend owns a château. Enormous thanks to Lilly for hosting us and providing us with a perfect venue, along with catering and planning assistance. Definitely could not have done it without her!

I was never the girl who dreamt about her wedding day or believed that it would be the most important day of her life. Rather, I enjoyed the entire process of planning the wedding and looked forward to the day for two main reasons: (1) I genuinely LOVED planning and organizing such a large event, especially because it was such a personal one and I got to interact with and work with so many friends (although all at a distance), and (2) I viewed this as a grand reunion of the people whom I love the most, whom I’ve met at various stages of my life. It was a celebration of love but also one of friendship and life!

We had around 65 guests coming from four continents, some flying in from China and as far as Martinique! Jian and I individually invited people who have made personal impact in our lives, so that this would be a cozy wedding with the people whom we cared about and who cared about us. We wanted the wedding to be about the guests as much as it was about us, so we involved them in all parts of the planning process – people helped design our wedding pamphlet, transport accessories from China, set up the audio system, move tables and chairs, emcee, etc. etc. All in all, it was more like a big informal party! Endless gratitude goes out to every person who attended and made it such a meaningful day for both Jian and me ❤

We were grateful to have David Page as the photographer of our day. After having contacted no fewer than ten wedding photographers able to work in the Bordeaux area, we chose to work with David because of his enthusiasm, professionalism, and most importantly style. Also, although we didn't have an exclusive engagement session, we did have an opportunity to get some individual photos taken after the ceremony and before the evening reception, with gorgeous nature as our backdrop! We wandered around the grounds of the château with David, looking for different perspectives and new inspirations. The results were outstanding, as you can see in the gallery of our wedding on his web site (password: wuhan), and David managed to capture some valuable candid moments. Here are just a selected few photos that I really loved and put into mini-collages.

Top left: Dad walking me down the “aisle” and me trying very hard not to trip on my dress while still smiling; Top right: Saying our vows, with Pastor Alan as our officiator; Bottom left: The groom seemed a bit nervous? Bottom right: Exiting at the end of the ceremony, with guests throwing flower petals at us!

Top left: Family photo; Top right: The Glasgow people; Middle left: Bordeaux Chinese Christian Church; Middle right: Bordeaux International Church, English service; Bottom left: Homies from Canada; Bottom right: Friends of Jian, AKA Annie and all the cute guys 😉

Top left: Obligatory pic of the bride and the bridesmaids; Top right: Annie and Amy, designer of the wedding pamphlet; Bottom right: Annie and Peiguang, good friend and English/Chinese translator of the day; Bottom right: Huge hug to Andy, still the same after nine years.

Top left: Château grounds; Top right: Annie, Jian, and nature; Bottom left: Just enjoying a nice walk and a fun chat; Bottom right: Gorgeous living room of the château.

Top left: Guests helping with preparations for the outdoor ceremony; Top right: Guests chilling after the ceremony, with perfect weather – maybe even good enough for a dip in the pool? Bottom left: What’s Bordeaux without WINE?! Bottom right: Dinner preparations…mmmm the food was good, so good…

Top left: Tea ceremony for the parents, not really formal or done in the traditional way and mainly done for fun 😉 ; Top right: Behind the scenes of champagne-opening time (actually just sparkled wine), where I showed my true colors by revealing my 3+ chins, thanks to the sister for noticing -_-; Bottom left: The sparkle in my eyes was filled with warmth and satisfaction, so maybe my new husband said something that impressed me…? Bottom right: As foreshadowed earlier, someone (hint hint: the groom) was going to take a dip in the pool, whether he wanted to or not. Would you believe me if I said that he requested to be thrown in?!!

Top left: Family photo after the morning tea ceremony; Top right: Mommy putting on a necklace for me; Bottom left: Casually chatting with dad after the ceremony; Bottom right: Extremely touching and well-delivered speech by Sherry AKA the sister AKA the blob AKA one of the bridesmaids AKA someone who means the world to me.

Top left: Intimate, quiet moments with Jian away from the guests for a little while; Top right: Receiving blessings from Pastor Alan; Bottom left: Presenting our “first dance” with a Chinese children’s tune, “Two Tigers” (tune of “Frère Jacques”); Bottom right: The guests were treated to another song from Annie and Jian’s private concert 😉

Top left: Wedding pamphlet containing the program, song lyrics, and dining menu; Top right: Behind the gates; Bottom left: Wedding gifts for the guests; Bottom middle: THE ONE RING; Bottom right: Dining table set-up, courtesy to my lovely helpers throughout the day!

Special thanks to the following people: Jian for unconditional love and support, resulting in an unforgettable day; mom and dad for granting me the freedom to pursue my dreams; my sister Sherry and my friend Mini for an amazing hair and make-up job and for taking care of me so well as my bridesmaids; Florence for the emotional and spiritual support; Alan for officiating the wedding and Pat for the beautiful bouquet; Andy for traveling all the way from Martinique and offering love that never seems to have a limit; brothers and sisters from the Bordeaux Chinese Church for helping out with planning and coordination, especially Jade Blanche the emcee, James and Luming the groomsmen, and the members of the choir; Kathryn for her gentleness and continuous prayers; Regine for marriage counselling; LS for translating; Mario for transporting guests back and forth between Bordeaux and the venue; the Glasgow crew, especially Amy for designing the wedding pamphlets, CQ+LY+XQ for transporting materials, YBB and WB for operating the sound system, Joy for assisting with small things throughout the day, and Pastor Pan and Anita for the encouragement; the Canadian homies for traveling all the way (one flying in from Singapore) and maintaining our friendship for 10+ years; and everyone else for participating in setting up, celebrating, and having fun. Yup I basically thanked everyone, this felt like a prolonged Oscar speech, thank you very much. (This was why I enjoyed writing the “Acknowledgements” section of my PhD thesis so much.)

In the end, the day had to come to an end, but love and friendship continue to thrive and remain to connect us with each other. Let this be a memory and a seal of all that is joyful, peaceful, and hopeful. Cheers!

Friday morning in Libourne

One of the things I wanted to do before leaving France was to meet my blogger friend, Stéphane (check out his super fantastic blog, My French Heaven), in Libourne. It seemed like an easy enough task because Libourne is about 20 minutes away from Bordeaux by train, but I kept messing up the timing 😦 The meeting finally took place a week and a half ago when Stéphane took some time out of his busy schedule to spend a bit of time with me in the morning. I took a train to Libourne, where I met Stéphane, and off we went to explore the town and its surroundings 😉

The main destination was the market in the town centre, where lots of fresh foods were being displayed. It reminded me of Capucins in Bordeaux, and sometimes I like to take a walk through these local markets even if I’m not doing grocery shopping. The smell of the morning air complimented with fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafood is a vitalizing start of a day!

Continue reading

March getaway part 2, Carcassonne

This leg of the March getaway is new to both LY and me – Carcassonne! I’ve heard so much about the medieval village and castle enclosed within the old city walls, and I had been anticipating to go for a long time. Being three hours from Bordeaux by train, it was a perfect day trip for my visitor and me, as we could conveniently make a stop in Toulouse on our way back 😉

We took the 9:31 train in the morning from Bordeaux St.Jean, but what’d you know…the train was delayed for half an hour due to “difficulties in preparing the train”. Hmm. I closed my eyes and promptly fell asleep, waking up and getting off at our destination, Carcassonne.

The first thing I saw when I exited the Carcassonne train station was the Canal du Midi and its clear, green water. The supreme icing on the cake was the gorgeous blue sky, which lasted the entire weekend despite the weather forecast of rain. Quelle chance! It was too bad that the boat tours weren’t operating until April. It would have been such a relaxing ride.

Continue reading

Blaye/Bourg vineyards

Happy Sunday and DST in North America! Over here in France we’ve already changed our clocks last week, so I don’t get an extra hour this weekend to slack. It would really have been helpful if the time change were this week, since I’m severely behind on NaNoWriMo, plus weekly blogging. Lots of writing coming up!

November 1st was a public holiday in France due to All Saints’ Day, so I took advantage of the day off to go on a wine tour organized by the Bordeaux Office of Tourism. It’s one of those things that you HAVE to do when you’re in Bordeaux, especially if you’re a tourist.

I signed up a few days before the trip and got to the tourism office a bit earlier than the 13:30 departure time, expecting that perhaps the group would be only around 10 people or so. Wrong. Apparently these tours are extremely popular, and an entire coach-full of visitors was anticipated. In total, I’d say there were 50 or so people in the group, mostly tourists from America. Since the tour was specifically targeted towards tourists, there was a bilingual guide with commentaries throughout the entire trip, truly helpful if you wanted to learn about wine culture first-hand.

We visited two appellations d’origine contrôlées (AOC), the AOC of Blaye and the AOC of Bourg. An AOC is a defined area in France where wine is produced. Blaye and Bourg were located approximately 45 minutes away from the city center of Bordeaux by car, but they are still considered to be within the region of Bordeaux.

The commentaries during the trip to Blaye and Bourg were quite interesting. I love little trips like these because not only do you get a spectacular visual experience, with explanations from experts in the field, you’re able to add so many unknown facts and so much random trivia to your knowledge bank. I took some brief notes on the coach as our guide went through the various details of wine growing and general knowledge about Bordeaux and the surrounding areas. The following is in no particular order.

  • There are some 8600 wine chateaux in the Bordeaux vineyards.
  • We crossed the Pont d’Aquitaine (Aquitaine Bridge), which is a suspension bridge connecting the two banks of the Garonne. The cables of the bridge were coated with Teflon, which prevented the bridge from moving due to expansion and contraction.
  • Blaye and Bourg is situated near the Gironde estuary that connects the Garonne and Dordogne rivers.
  • The wine growing process in Blaye and Bourg was semi-organic, meaning they did not use herbicide in the vineyards. Apparently herbs help the roots of the vines grow deeper and sturdier into the ground. However, in the 2010 season, the process in Blaye has been switched to one that was completely organic.
  • Harvest time is mid-September to mid-October every year, so harvest was already over when we visited.
  • 87% of wine produced in Bordeaux is red wine, and 700 to 800 million bottles are produced each year.
  • The quality of soil is an extremely important factor in producing good wine. On the left bank of the Garonne, the soil is moister whereas on the right bank, where Blaye and Bourg are located, the soil is dryer and poorer, which is more ideal for the grapes. Clay and rocky soil is generally found here, with no irrigation being applied in the process. Apparently, moist soil promotes growth of branches which isn’t desirable for the growth of grapes. With drier soil, the fruits can “fight to survive”. I actually didn’t completely understand this part.

Anyway, I’ll spare you from reading more words and go on to the pictures now.

Nice big coach and lots of tourists. I didn’t think so many people visited Bordeaux, especially in November. First up was the Chateau Segonzac in the Blaye region.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: