Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: vineyards

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!

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The 12 months of Saint-Émilion

With the visit to Saint-Émilion in October, I have checked yet another item off my bucket list: to visit Saint-Émilion in every month.

Saint-Émilion really is a lovely place that I never get tired of visiting. Whether it’s bringing friends from out of province to see its medieval beauty, or just getting away from the city for a few hours by myself, I can always enjoy the little town’s exquisite atmosphere in every season. The surrounding vineyards never cease to amaze me, and there seems to be a never-ending maze of narrow streets through which I can leisurely navigate without turning back.

With the help of a simple collage creator (no need to mess with tables 😉 ), I compiled some of the pictures that I took during each trip to Saint-Émilion in hopes of capturing its essence in every shot. There were some disappointments (no snow this year!) but oh, how it mesmerizes me, even today!

January (Jan. 20, 2013)

I went with the intention of capturing Saint-Émilion by night. In January, it was usually “dark” by 6:30, which was when some of these photos were taken, but not dark enough. Unfortunately I had to catch the train back to Bordeaux (the one after would be two hours later!) and so this was as close to “night” as I could get. The streets were almost isolated without a soul to be seen, but I loved how the calmness contrasted with the tourist-filled atmosphere of the summer seasons.

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March getaway part 1, Saint-Émilion and Arcachon

Yes yes, I know it’s been almost two weeks (again) since the last update, but I had big plans. March is a very active month because of two main events. First, LY, a friend/colleague from my lab in Belgium, came to visit last week, and we went on a 3-day trip to some places around Bordeaux. Second, the annual IDS-FunMat training school is taking place next week…in Annecy! Since it’s so close to Switzerland, I planned a little detour to Geneva and Lausanne with my IDS colleagues, but you’ll read about that when I come back at the end of March 😉

Alright, let’s first talk about my visitor from Belgium and our little trip. We’ve been planning LY’s visit since what, last November? All the details – itineraries, flights, train tickets, hotels, places to visit – have been arranged. So I awaited his arrival on Thursday and the journey began.

There are two must-see points of interests for any visitor in Bordeaux, outside of the city itself: Saint-Émilion and Arcachon, both of which I had been to (perhaps too many times, to Saint-Émilion). And we were going to do both places in one day, as proposed by my guest. I was skeptical for two reasons: timing and weather. In order for this to work, we’d have to leave quite early and hop on and off trains and buses non-stop. As for the weather, early March may be a bit too cold for Arcachon and the Dune du Pilat, and the forecast predicted rain for the entire weekend…uh oh.

Even with the skepticism in mind, we went. I mean, we couldn’t have let months of planning go to waste, right? Saint-Émilion would be alright in the rain, but Arcachon would have been disastrous if it rained, but no such worries existed in the end because we were blessed with the most gorgeous weather of this year by far. I guess my friend was right in saying that luck accompanies him wherever he goes 😉

The morning started in Saint-Émilion when we realized that…LY left his memory card at home. So I lent him mine. I’ve probably already taken enough pictures of Saint-Émilion to last a lifetime anyway. I did take a photo or two with his Canon EOS 60D though, and this is one of them. I liked this photo so much that I put it on Picture Worthy and named it “City and vineyards”, as the town of Saint-Émilion could be seen in a distance, contrasted with the vineyards, still leafless, right in front of us 🙂

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Saint-Émilion in late November

One day not long ago, I spontaneously added an item to my bucket list: to visit Saint-Émilion at least once in every month. I’m not sure why I decided to do that, but I thought it could be a challenge to make life more interesting for my remaining year (at least) in Europe. Also, I want to see how a town changes from month to month, from season to season, and what better place to go than charming little Saint-Émilion?

So far I’ve done April, May, June, July and now, November. If I plan out my mobility well, the rest of the months are well doable 😉 To add to the challenge, I have different company every time. So far only one person has gone with me twice, and that would be MM. In April 2011 I went for the first time with Chahat, a university friend studying in the UK at that time. In May 2012 it was with my Canadian crew Sharon and Cindy. In June 2011 the trip was spent with the Yihua family, MM, and Wan Zhe. In July 2011 there was Helene, Mengran, Xinning, SB, and MM again.

Before November was over, I decided to make my fifth trip to Saint-Émilion with a colleague. It was also the first time I brought Mr.Nikon with me, hurray! We caught the last weekend before it got too cold, and really, it might have been my favourite visit so far, thanks to so many things.

What makes Saint-Émilion such a charming and irresistible place that I go back again and again? You’ll see. (Click for full album.)

Mr.Colleague wondered whether there were still grapes on the vines in November. Well, who knew? Unless we found out, of course 😉 I remember in June last year, there were green grapes on the vines, but in November, even if there were any left, they couldn’t possibly be green or even purple anymore, right? Alas, we saw some dark blue grapes still stubbornly hanging onto their branches, though these were few. I kinda wanted to swipe a bunch, because they looked oh-so-sweet-and-delicious 😀

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Couldn’t get enough of Saint-Émilion

I just realized that I’ve been to St. Émilion 4 times within the past year, and I’ve only written about it once! Well the 4th time happened last Sunday, right after Sarlat. It is interesting to note that each time I went to St. Emilion, it was with different people (except MM, who was there the second and third time). Also, last year I went in the months of April, June, and July, and this year, it was May. A fifth time will probably happen when my sister comes to France later this year in August. I should keep this a record and try to visit a full 12 times, once in every month!

Named after a monk who was once a resident of the town, St. Émilion is one of the most famous wine-making regions in France and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the monolithic church to the numerous châteaux in the surrounding area, it offers the best of architecture, history, and nature, all in one bundle. No visit to Bordeaux is complete without dropping by St. Émilion!

So, for this most recent trip, I went with my two Canadian ladies, Sharon and Cindy. A bit hesitant at first because I’ve already been there 3 times, I decided to go again for the experience with a whole different group of friends. I discover something new about St. Émilion with every visit, and the varying companionship definitely adds amusement each time 😉

“THIS IS SAINT-ÉMILION!” says Sharon. After a 40-minute train ride from Bordeaux, we arrived at our destination. There can be no mistake; there was only one path from the train station to the town and with a gigantic sign marking its entrance, it couldn’t be missed!

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