From the nytimes:
NOTHING about Châteauneuf-du-Pape is sleek or polished. It’s a rough-and-tumble wine, sometimes ungainly and fierce, but just as often warm, open, generous and full of pleasure.
It can be intense and complex — it’s not at all simple. Yet it sometimes can be as friendly as a big good-natured dog. Occasionally, it’s too friendly.
I was thinking about the overbearing side of Châteauneuf recently after the wine panel had completed a tasting of 20 bottles from the 2007 vintage. For the tasting, Florence Fabricant and I were joined by two guests, Vanessa Treviño Boyd, sommelier at Adour, and David Gordon, wine director at Tribeca Grill, which offers what is most likely the widest selection of Châteauneuf in New York.
We found some wines we liked very much, yet on the whole the 2007s left me unexcited. Stylistically, they presented Châteauneuf’s too-friendly side. Châteauneuf is always a big wine, but these wines were huge — full of lush, opulent fruit with powerful, jammy flavors.
If you like fruit-bomb wines, you will love …
Posted in food and drinks, Languedoc-Roussillon, news, products, shopping, tips, wine Tagged with: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, france, french, wine
If for any reason you go to the St. Jean restaurant in the cité médiévale of Carcassonne, it should be for the ambiance. On a warm summer night outside facing the ancient ramparts, Niko singing his fun Frenchified songs of bossa nova, other Latin tunes and maybe some Stevie Wonder songs with a pleasant French accent, it’s just the beginning of a overall awesome evening or afternoon.
The food is pretty good for such an unabashed place for tourists. Noteworthy: The cassoulet (regional specialty) is really delicious. However, a small gripe from me: the portions are just too huge. However, some many gobs of people will clearly welcome the copious quantity of food.
After finishing the appetizers,
which are huge,
and the main dish…also gargantuan,
here’s the steak tartare someone in our party had;
isn’t it a lot? Yes! I wonder how anyone can polish off that amount of food in one sitting. Oh wait, we did.
Generous portions really do not form solid grounds for complaining; I do realize this unfair grievance. Some people would call that a perk. Afterall, the dishes were rather tasty and the whole experience: live music, dining comfortably alfresco, to-die-for backdrop, excellent company, friendly staff – made everything fabulous. Highly recommended.
Le St. Jean
Restaurant – Bar – Glacier
1, place Saint Jean
Cite de Carcassonne France
Telephone : 04 68 47 42 43
Posted in food and drinks, Languedoc-Roussillon, restaurants, tips, travel and places, travel tip Tagged with: Carcassonne, france, french restaurants, Le St. Jean
The sandwich invasion, not the underground transportation system.
Posted in food and drinks, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, photos
Specializing in beef, apparently. How good have we gotten at disassociating the cow from the steak? Very good.
tags: france, french, nimes, butcher, beef, disassociating the cow from the steak
Posted in advertising & marketing, daily life, food and drinks, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, photos, products, Provence, shopping, weird
The Cafe de la grande bourse is probably one the best placed cafes in Nimes, one that offers a good view of the colosseum and a main side walk, perfect for people watching. It had been a while since I was in Nimes, and it looks like over the last 5 years or so, they’ve cleaned things up tremendously, and it’s now a nicer place for walking and sightseeing.
tags: france, cafe, nimes, colosseum, arena
Posted in cultural differences, daily life, food and drinks, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, tips, travel and places, travel tip
This restaurant’s name probably doesn’t bug other people as much as it bugs me – but what on earth are people thinking in Nimes??? The restaurant is called, “Le Sake,” you know, “sake” being the alcoholic beverage made of fermented rice from JAPAN!? YET. The restaurant specializes in Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine. That’s like calling a place Sombrero and selling underpants there.
You know what I mean.
I don’t care if the restaurant is good or not – I’m boycotting!
tags: france, french, sake, nimes, badly named restaurants, fail
Posted in advertising & marketing, daily life, food and drinks, funny, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, photos, Provence, restaurants, signs, weird
The dish, Moules Frites (mussels and fries), is practically an institution in France, which should be reason enough to sample some while you’re here, best eaten near the sea of course. These are from a brasserie called Le Belvedere in the southern seaside town, Saintes-Maries de la Mer, which is considered the capital of the Camargue.
We had a nice view of the beach and sea, sitting outside in the warmth of the provencale sun, munching on our moules and perfectly fried fries. (The restaurant had friendly service and reasonable prices, too.) What a great way to forget about the global financial deterioration spreading quickly around world…
21 Avenue de la plage
13460 Saintes-Maries de la mer France
Tèl : 04.90.97.92.87
tags: france, french, camargues, Saintes-Maries de la Mer, moules frites, Le Belvedere , beach
Posted in Cote d'azur/Riviera, cultural differences, daily life, food and drinks, Languedoc-Roussillon, nature, Provence, restaurants, tips, travel and places, travel tip
We haven’t been too thrilled about the chilly weather that has descended upon us in Burgundy so we decided to head south to our favorite bed and breakfast home away from home in Provence, Apres la sieste in Saint Laurent des arbres, not far from Avignon. This is the fourth time this year we’ve been back. They can’t get rid of us!
It’s beautiful and warm, just what we needed. The olives are ripening.
Chill time in the warmth.
I saw this creepy praying mantis! Probably recently ate its mate and is now getting ready to lay eggs. I’ve never seen a real one before but it totally reminded me of Zorak from Space Ghost Coast to Coast.
Après La Sieste
2 suites, 3 rooms; breakfast included
Contact: Jacques et Chloé (English and French spoken)
Website: Après La Sieste
(Visit their site for more room photos, details and rates)
Telephone : 04 66 50 33 94
Mobile Phone: 06 61 84 58 40
Related: Our Favorite Place to Stay in Provence Has a Chef, Dinner Chez Apres La Sieste, Friday France Photo: Saint Laurent des Arbres, Provence
tags: france, apres la sieste, saint laurent des arbres, praying mantis
Posted in Cote d'azur/Riviera, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence, Recommended Accommodations, tips, travel and places, travel tip
Tired of the constant criticism aimed at the wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, specifically that the wines were “crap,” an independent vintner responded with a revolutionary and rebellious idea and created, “Le vin de merde” (Shit wine). The wine label will be hard to miss if you ever see it on a shelf because there’s a big fat fly on it as if it were sitting on a pile of poo. Brilliant and funny publicity stunt. The wine, however, is supposedly not crappy at all. Would make a fun dinner party gift.
tags: france, wine, le vin de merde, great publicity stunt, shit wine
Posted in advertising & marketing, cultural differences, daily life, food and drinks, funny, Languedoc-Roussillon, nature, news, products, Provence, shopping, weird, wine
Before the weather gets too chilly, I thought I’d mention the village of Cap d’Agde, where being butt naked is obligatory. If interested, you’ll still have time to enjoy the sun à poil (in your birthday suit).
The village of Cap d’Agde, also called, “The Naked City,” is a seaside port and resort along the Mediterranean not far from the cities of Carcassone, Nimes and Montpellier. (in the Hérault department, in the région of Languedoc-Roussillon). It is supposedly the world’s largest naturist village. “Naturism,” which many people call nudism, is legal so it isn’t uncommon to see families walking around naked in supermarkets, shops, banks, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, camp sites, etc. The beach in Cap d’Agde, which extends across 3 kilometers of beach, enforces a “nudity mandatory” policy, which means you MUST be nude there. I’m not sure what happens if you have any clothes on. Do the police rip them off of you? Are you arrested for wearing a sock? What happens in the COLD winter?
So anyway, this is a place where you can literally let it all hang out, perfect for an even tan with no bathing suit lines. Definitely not for everybody, and for the most part, it’s really no big deal – But don’t be led to think it’s entirely a wholesome place to vacation with the kids. Cap d’Agde is a lot of things.
While it IS perfectly okay to vacation here with kids, the place fulfills a whole spectrum of expectations, primarily regarding sexual satisfaction. For example, during the day families and kids are at the beach to have fun in the sun, but at the same time, others may be scouting the territory to find potential sexual partners for the evening or couples will be looking for other couples to switch partners with. Say, you’re invited to a party one night in the village. It would very a rare occasion if that party didn’t involve gratuitous non-committal sex with multiple partners. In other words, it has some innocence but on the other hand, anything goes. So with all the swingers clubs scattered amidst the family shops and restaurants, and the people, voyeurs and all (yes there are naked voyeurs here), it all seems pretty relaxed. For some reason these two incongruous communities: happy family fun and the old school naturists, and the sex motivated swingers with pierced genitals, work harmoniously side by side.
tags: france, travel, nude beaches, cap d’agde, naturism france, naked city
Posted in cultural differences, french laws, funny, Languedoc-Roussillon, nature, travel and places, travel tip
“Paris Mushrooms, it’s when they’re in your mouth that they’re the happiest.”
Aside from this ad promoting Champignons de Paris (button mushrooms) in France being very, very cute, I’m wondering why the mushroom industry (if there’s a mushroom industry) needs to advertise in the first place. Is there an overproduction of mushrooms? I rarely see ads for other veggies like cucumbers or celery or artichokes or for any veggies, ever; really, this is strange to me. Is there a silent mushroom consumption grève (strike) or something? … So much so that mushroom farmers need a push from ads?
Just a couple of weeks ago, our neighbors asked us if we had any extra mushrooms they could borrow because they couldn’t find any anywhere near our neighborhood. My sweetie, being even more of a conspiracy theorist than I am (yea, I know! unbelievable but true!), suggested that the radioactive leaks lately have been compromising the mushrooms, which perhaps were then removed from the market. Apparently, mushrooms excessively absorb radiation, which is an enormous help to people around…unless they eat those mushrooms…
tags: france, mushrooms, champignons de paris, radioactive contamination, uranium leaks
Posted in conspiracy theories, daily life, environment, food and drinks, Languedoc-Roussillon, nature, news, politics, products, Provence, shopping, weird
Two nights ago on the evening news Francoise Laborde lightly mentioned that there was yet ANOTHER uranium leak at the Tricastin nuclear power plant near Avignon. This makes a reported 3 radioactive leaks in the last couple of months, and 2 leaks at the same plant. Only partially paying attention, I wasn’t sure I heard correctly. Me, “Wait. WHAT??!” But the subject was over in literally 20 seconds. No elaboration of any kind. This seemed like substantial news but it was slipped hidden in between back to school news and international news (video archive Edition du Mercredi 6 Août 2008).
Me: That nuclear power plant in Tricastin is 30 years old or so, and it’s encountering more and more problems.
Me: Is this an accident waiting to happen, here? I mean, it’s literally falling apart at the seams.
Me: Should we get the hell outta Dodge?
Me: Should we leave France? I don’t want to be here when that things blows. You know, a French Chernobyl.
Him: Don’t worry about it. It probably has already blown.
Me: Um. Great. No wonder I’ve been feeling so crappy lately.
Link: Tricastin: Encore une fuite cachée? (in French)
tags: france, uranium leaks, tricastin, radiation, contamination
Posted in conspiracy theories, conversations, daily life, Languedoc-Roussillon, news, politics, Provence, weird
“Too much wine, it is known, can cause violent behavior. But few have gone as far as the grape growers of France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region, the world’s biggest wine-growing area by volume. Hurting from overproduction and cheap imports and punished lately by the rising cost of gas, a small group of local winegrowers has resorted to “wine terrorism” in a violent attempt to shock the French government into helping them.
On July 26, police arrested a vineyard farmer from the region for production and possession of illegal explosives. Apprehended in a hospital where he was being treated for injuries suffered when those explosives unexpectedly detonated, 34-year-old Jérôme Soulère confessed to police that he’d been responsible for the July 2006 bombing of a tax-collection office in a neighboring village. He also admitted, police say, to authoring the failed bombing last year of a site the Tour de France was set to pass the following day.
Those incidents are just two of many in a series of violent and destructive acts by local grape growers over the past three years that has targeted public and private buildings, supermarkets, tanker trucks hauling cheap imported wine, and businesses accused of gouging growers with ever shrinking prices. Claiming responsibility: a clandestine group known as….”
Read the full article
Related: Don’t Mess with French Farmers
tags: france, wine, vandals, wine lake
Posted in articles, business / economy, food and drinks, Languedoc-Roussillon, news, products, weird, wine
“Lucky Boy” (that’s not very French!) is probably one of the most chill cats ever. He’s the cute mascot of the B&B in Carcassonne, Aux Anges Gardiens chez Patricia and Andre where we stayed not long ago. He IS lucky to live where he does and in fact, he is so lucky, he rubbed a little luck on me and I wasn’t at all allergic to him, when normally, it’s another *sneeze!* story.
Posted in Languedoc-Roussillon, lulu/dogs/cats, photos, travel and places
It just occurred to me that the bed and breakfast where we stayed in Carcassonne (southwest France) recently, was not only the first B&B we’ve stayed in in France, but it was also a real one, in the sense that you really are staying in someone’s house. In this case, you’re chez Patricia and Andre Ledu.
We loved it.
“Aux Anges Gardiens” means “With The Guardian Angels,” and you’ll feel like your guardian angels were watching over you when you selected this b&b as your home away from home while taking your holidays in Carcassonne.
Patricia and André fled a hectic lifestyle in Paris to embark on a completely new adventure with their B&B. They bought and embraced an 18th century “fixer upper,” took it under their wings and completely restored it. The result of their hard and thoughtful work is a warm, welcoming sanctuary where you’ll feel comfortable and cozy. The house and your hosts will quickly put you at ease and you’ll readily be able to settle in and feel at home. Aux Anges Gardiens is another one of those rare places where you’ll not want to leave.
The rooms are spacious and luxurious, and all have their own private bathroom, so you won’t have to share facilities with other guests in the house. You might be able to tell by the names of the rooms that this place is ideal for couples.
For example, we stayed in the room called, “la Chambre Nuptiale / The Honeymoon Suite” but you have other choices. Oui oui. How about “la Chambre Cocoon / The Love Nest” or the “la Chambre de Maitre / The Master Suite”? Does it sound like a perfect romantic getaway?
If you’re into more chill kinds of vacations, you will LOVE the patio and pool area at Aux Anges Gardiens. Grab some much needed French rays (remember your sunblock) out there, and laze to your heart’s content during your stay. You’ll be one happy B&B-er.
Since it is a real and true B&B, and we’ve talked about the first B (bed), you’ll be glad to know that the 2nd B, breakfast, is pure YUM. French coffee, fresh bread and baguettes from a nearby bakery, homemade jams, baked cakes made in-house, fruit, yogurt, fruit juices. The REAL breakfast of champions à la française.
Much like Après La Sieste in Provence, Aux anges gardiens is another ideal location that you’ll be able to use as a convenient base but in the region of Langedoc-Roussillon. The medieval city of Carcassonne is just minutes away. Drive or grab the bikes at Patricia and Andre’s to get there or to the neighboring lake. Nearby cities include: Toulouse, Perpignan, Narbonne, Montpellier, and if you have a couple of hours, you’re not very far from Barcelona. Just cross the border and you’ll be speaking Catalan in no time. On a semi-sidenote, from Carcassonne you’ll find really cheap flights to Ireland on Ryanair. I mean, really, really cheap (based on an advanced purchase): about 20 euros roundtrip. REALLY.
Back to the guardian angels. If you’re in the area for business or travel, consider staying at this absolutely fabulous B&B. You will not regret it.
Aux Anges Gardiens, Bed and Breakfast in Carcassonne
Open all year, highspeed internet, 3 rooms, breakfast included
Contact: Patricia et André Ledu (English, French spoken)
2 rue du Barry – hameau de Villalbe – Carcassonne – France
Tél. +33 (0)4 68 47 14 03 – cell .+33 (0)6 64 90 70 13
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: Aux Anges Gardiens, B&B in Carcassonne (more photos, rates and availability)
Posted in chambres d'hotes/bed and breakfast, Languedoc-Roussillon, Recommended Accommodations, travel and places, websites
On a lighter note, here’s today’s France photo. It’s a sculpture we saw at the entrance of a tunnel I think somewhere in the vicinity of Montpellier. It’s not particularly attractive but it does get your attention, if anything.
Posted in art/culture/design, daily life, Languedoc-Roussillon, photos, travel and places, weird