French Heaven

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As many of you know, especially those who have seen the photos of beautiful French food that I’ve been posting, my daughter and I flew to Bordeaux to spend four days with Stéphane. He is the author of My French Heaven, his blog, and Your French Heaven, his business.
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As soon as he picked us up at the airport, we knew we were in good hands. Stéphane is so likable. Lovable, in fact. He’s funny, smart, and slightly irreverent, which suited our personalities to a tee.
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I’m not here only to promote Stéphane’s business; it needs no help from me. But for a little explanation in case you’re not familiar with it, he customizes your visit to the part of France where he was born and raised, based on your likes and desires and how many days you have to spend.

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Of course for me and my daughter as well, our daily plans revolved around shopping for food, cooking it, and eating it.
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But we also got to see the stunning countryside, enjoy the local wines, and see some sights for the benefit of my daughter and her specific interests in the world of art history.
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We also shopped at a brocante, which was a new word for me. It’s a combination of an antiques shop and flea market.

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This blog post could easily be a book because of how much we packed into each day.

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I’ll keep most of the details to myself as cherished memories, because Stéphane designed our time together just for us. He will most likely never duplicate these days, because of course all of the food we prepared together was based on what was fresh and available at the daily markets.

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Some people may not want to have the same extreme foodie days as we did!
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As much as I enjoy meat, we wanted to focus primarily on the lovely seafood available in that corner of France.

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My daughter and I stayed at Chateau Saint Jacques Calon, near St. Emilion, which is the B & B that belongs to Stéphane’s family. That is not mandatory, but it added to the magic of our holiday.

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In fact, the weather was so perfect on 3 of the 4 days that we took breaks and sat by the beautiful pool.

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After a generous breakfast every morning, we drove to a different market.

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No matter where we went in the area, everybody seemed to know Stéphane. It was lovely hearing him chat away in his native French.
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And speaking of that, Stéphane’s English is perfect. I had moments of remembering French words and phrases, as French was shared with English in my home as a child, but mostly I let Stéphane do the talking.

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Stephane always had a general menu in mind for the day, but it all depended on what was available at the market, of course.

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On the first day together, I got to get my hands “dirty” when I helped prepare a foie gras terrine that was planned for our last day.

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That first evening, we walked to a local restaurant, owned by friends of Stephane, and enjoyed a wonderful meal as we watched the sun set.

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The most exciting thing for me was the walk through the French countryside, with grape vines just popping new leaves, and flowers showing off their spring splendor.
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The one good thing about hanging out with another blogger is that it’s okay to constantly take photos. My daughter was often the focus of our photos, because of her innocent beauty. She might have cared, but she didn’t show it, which is a testament to her calm and patient personality.
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She was often my model.

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As well as my hand model.

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Every morning we went to the market, and also stopped by Stéphane’s favorite bread baker for fresh baguettes.

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Then we’d go back to his house to prepare and enjoy lunch, typically outside because the weather was so perfect.
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One day we visited the beautiful village of St. Emilion.

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Which is where we also went to a wine tasting.
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Stéphane also showed us a beautiful part of Bordeaux.
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I’ve never been to this corner of France before, so everything was new to me. The expansive vineyards are quite impressive, especially along the Dordogne.
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Stéphane made sure we always sampled the many different regional wines, and kept us well stocked.
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He also made sure we enjoyed some of our favorite cheeses, as well as experience a few I’ve never heard of before. Fabulous!

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On our final full day with Stéphane, he put out a variety of cakes that he’d ordered from his favorite patisserie in Libourne.
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Both of our birthdays, mine and Stéphane’s, are in April, so we celebrated Easter as well as birthdays!
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I even got a birthday candle!!!

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For our final dinner together, we began with the foie gras terrine paired with Sauterne. Life just doesn’t get much better than that!
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It was bittersweet leaving France, but at least I got to spend a few days with my daughter in London, before leaving her behind and returning home. But we both shared fun, beautiful, and delicious experiences, thanks to our host, Stéphane Gabart.
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And I didn’t have to do dishes!!!
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Au revoir Calli!
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90 thoughts on “French Heaven

  1. It has been wonderful living vicariously through you Mimi! I’m happy that you had such a wonderful time with Stephane, filled with so many happy memories. The landscape is just lovely…and the food… Oh, the food… you must have been in pure heaven! Lovely post! I hope that we get to hear more! <3

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  2. I can’t even begin to tell you how very much I enjoyed this post!! I honestly feel, due to your gorgeous photos and enthusiastic comments, that I just took a wonderful trip to France. What a perfect ‘holiday’!! I’m Pinning this under ‘travel’. Again – I LOVED it!!!

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  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this post Mimi! We all need a Stephane in our lives! Your journey through Bordeaux with your daughter, and all of the the lovely photographs really inspires me to visit this region. And don’t even get me started on the foie gras terrine and Sauterne! French Heaven indeed!

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  4. That sounds like the perfect vacation! It would be much nicer to be able to sample the local markets and be able to cook with the goods rather than eating out all the time. I missed cooking in France :(

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  5. I adore France, but avoid Paris. What a fantastic post … in both word and images. So breathtaking … your photos are just brilliant. It was like I went to France every holiday in 70’s. St. Emilion one of my gems … what a fantastic adventure – good food, great wines …. and friendship.

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  6. Oh Mimi, it looks like wonderful experience. We are starting to brush up on our French language skills with plans to travel to France in 2015. It will of course include some time with Stephane. Thanks for sharing your experience

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  7. What an absolutely stunning and inspiring blog post, Mimi! I can only imagine how amazing the experience was for you and your daughter… just fabulous! Both Stephane and his corner of the world sound delightful :)

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  8. Oh Mimi, I’m swooning. My heart literally has this feeling of being full. Your photos are so beautiful and it’s evident that you really had the perfect time there with such good company, your daughter and the food! The landscape is almost unreal. Your daughter is beautiful. I need to do something like this sometime soon. What a beautiful post. I feel like I’m right there with you.

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    • I wanted my husband to come with me, but he thought it was a bit too foodie for him, plus he doesn’t eat quite the variety of food that I do!!! But I highly recommend a visit.

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    • There might not be another post quite like this. My husband opted not to join me on this adventure, but I think he doesn’t want me doing this all of the time! Thanks for the nice comment.

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  9. It’s been decades since I was fortunate enough to travel a little in France, and this made me more interested to go back than I’ve ever been. Beautifully told, photographed, and yes, cooked! M. Gabart seems to be the absolute perfect host and a delightful person, but you and your daughter are clearly great to have as guests and touring companions, too, so it was obviously a grand match! Thanks for sharing.
    Au revoir, lovely Chef Mimi,
    Kathryn

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    • Having just spent over a week in England, I don’t think that you Brits are missing out on any joie de vivre. This was maybe my 10th trip, to London and elsewhere in England, and I think you just go to pubs to enjoy life!!!

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    • Well I’m French I I am envious of your amazing countryside and sense of humor, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I really wish I had the time and money so I could visit England more often… You know that us, South Westerners, used to be British (well almost)…

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      • England is absolutely gorgeous. And, Brits are funny. Why do they have a reputation of not being funny? All of the best shows have been British, from Monty Python to the Office, and now, my favorite – Episodes. Hysterical.

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      • Little Britain is a little vulgar, but I really love it… Oh and what about faulty towers?! The list is never ending I’m afraid…

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      • I must admit, that’s great to hear Stephane! Some mutual appreciation across the Channel, or indeed, La Manche. I really had no idea about the English/South West connection – a very interesting ‘Google’.

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  10. What a marvellous trip! am green with envy that you had Stéphane to look after you two so well. I’ll be off to France soon, but to the north of France. Mother and daughter are both beautiful ;)

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