Monday 1 October 2012

Bordeaux & St Emilion, France - Greedy Diva's Gluttonous Travels

Caneles de Bordeaux at Restaurant Le Saint-James

These, my friends, are caneles and they became my addiction in Bordeaux.

Well, when you start quaffing wines at 11am each day, you need a little something to keep you on the straight and narrow. So these little gooey, vanilla-y, custardy cake things became a daily necessity. 

Vineyards outside Saint Emilion

OK, so this blog post is a little long in the tooth. We were in Bordeaux in November. I'm not going to explain myself other than to say "major wedmin". But on with the show...

I was surprised by how beautiful Bordeaux is - since the grand classical and neoclassical facades were polished up to a gleaming white, it has the beguiling beauty of Paris with lots of great shopping and restaurants to boot.

However, we stayed near Saint Emilion - which is a stunning little village full of wine shops, cafes and a maze of stone buildings nestled among the golden vines of the Bordeaux grapes. I highly recommend it as your base.

St Emilion

Our fabulous new B&B, Carre Vigne, in Saint-Hippolyte (just a few minutes drive from Saint Emilion -  was a spacious and stylish home away from home, established as a separate quarters at the back of the welcoming house of the gorgeous Emmanuelle and Bruno. 

Our gorgeous room at Carre Vigne

Emmanuelle is the greatest host. Such a warm and welcoming person, she takes a genuine interest in your travels and, partly owing to her job with the local tourist office, can offer fabulous restaurant tips - we loved all of them. Bruno works at the local Maison du Vin in Saint Emilion, so you need look no further for winery tips either.

Carre Vigne

Emmanuelle delivers a fresh continental breakfast to your room each morning (or take it on your own little private decking overlooking the vines in summer). The room is smartly furnished, with all the comforts you could want, including comfy beds, crisp linens, flat screen TV, free WiFi, coffee machine and a lovely modern bathroom with a large shower and big shower head.

Fine dining at Restaurant Le Saint-James - the lamb

For some modern fine dining, don't miss Restaurant Le Saint-James near Bouliac. We loved our set price lunch by Michelin star chef, Michel Portos, in the bright and sunny room with panoramic views overlooking the vines. Check out the sample of photos - the food tastes as good as it looks:

I love the canale shaped sugar cubes

For something more casual and rustic in St Emilion itself, we had a ball at L'Envers Du Decor, a terrific little wine bar, where you can sample lots of local wines by the glass or the bottle at very reasonable prices, while feasting on some excellent plates of lamb or steak.

Steak at L'Envers Du Decor

Definitely venture into Bordeaux for some of the most gorgeous chocolate shops and delis I've ever seen, some great shopping, and loads of good restaurants.

2 of my favourite things combined - chocolate shoes

 A chocolate an macaron palate

Also not to be missed in Bordeaux is the huge, colourful Des Capucins food market, where you can pull up a seat at a stall and feast on huge plates of local Arcachon Bay oysters over a refreshing wine.

Bordeaux is filled with lots of great cafes and restaurants

We also loved the wine tasting at Max Bordeaux in Bordeaux, where you can pay $20 or more for a tasting card which you slot into dispensing machines to sample wines from all parts of the region including tastes of some of the most expensive grand crus.

Tasting at Max ___

For $10, we were taken on an excellent tour of Chateau Figeac just outside St Emilon, and given a taste of the 2006 Grand Cru at the end.

Chateau Figeac

In the cellar

For exquisite food (albeit in modest surrounds), Auberge Saint Jean is surely on its way to a Michelin Star. Sit overlooking the river in Blaignac, a short drive from Saint Emilion, and enjoy 3 creative courses for 38 euro or the 5 course degustation for 48 euros. Unfortunately, I didn't take my camera but check out the website for some great food snaps. Very nice (if slightly less memorable) fare can also be had at Le Clos de Roy, near Saint-Emilion.

Chicken at Le Clos de Roy, near Saint Emilion

Duck with cherries at Le Clos de Roy, near St Emilion

As a day trip, I also recommend a drive to the pretty Sauternes region where you can taste the good stuff in all its sticky, golden glory. The Cognac and Armagnac regions are also nearby.

It may have taken me a while to blog about it, but our stay at Carre Vigne and the Bordeaux region would have to be one of the best parts of our trip.  The area is stunning, the wine is tremendous and the food was some of the best of our travels. If you live in London, or find yourself heading to France, do all you can to pay this area a visit. Since I'm now in Australia, I'll have to make do with my holiday snaps for the time being...

Where to stay:

GPS : N°44 52 0132; W 0°07.277
44° 52\' 2\'\'N, 0° 7\' 16

Tél.: 06 01 39 47 07
E-mail :
Web :


  1. *sigh* brings back very pleasant memories... Can't believe that we were in Bordeaux at the same time, didn't we have lovely weather?!
    Love your pics by the way, what camera do you have now?

  2. Hi Ute - yes, I must catch up on where you got to in Bordeaux too! Hopeyou had a great time. The weather was so gorgeous - perfect for a tipple overlooking the vines! I just have a little point and shoot but it's great for low lighting - a Canon Powershot S95.

  3. If you're in Brisbane try the Caneles from Choquette in New Farm - I'm also addicted.

  4. Gorgeous! How on earth do you stay so slim Carly? I just look at your blog and put on 7lbs!!

  5. George Pickering11 January, 2012

    Great post! Makes me want to go back! Hope all's well back home.

  6. Anon - thanks for the Brisbane caneles tip. Almost worth a trip as I contemplate morning tea time...

    Diana - Hello, lovely to hear from you! I think all the chewing and lifting hand to mouth burns off a lot of energy!

    Hi George - Lovely to hear from you too! Come and visit me soon! Hope all is great in London town.


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