Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Somewhat Rocky Start to Our France 2016 Trip

      We left for France on Wednesday, March 30, flying from Boston to Paris on Icelandair, with a change of planes in Iceland. Unfortunately, while we made the change of planes fine, my suitcase did not, as I later found out. So when we arrived in Paris at Charles de Gaulle Airport, we waited for my suitcase, but it never arrived. The airline then checked and said it was still in Iceland. Because of a national strike that day, I knew our train was canceled, but as it turned out, when we got to the Montparnasse train station in Paris, we were able to get an even earlier train. So we arrived in Bordeaux earlier than expected, albeit with fewer suitcases than we expected. We checked into our hotel in Bordeaux, had dinner nearby, and while we were very tired from a long voyage, we took a long stroll through the quiet quarter of Bordeaux where our hotel was located.

      The next morning, after having a chat with the hotel owners, whom we knew from 2 prior visits, we left the hotel to pick up our rental car. Before leaving, the hotel owner gave us a bottle of Bordeaux, which he had done the 2 prior times we had stayed there. On our way to the train station we stopped at the large indoor market, and stocked up on cheese. There were 2 fabulous cheese vendors at the market, and we gave both of them some business.

        After picking up our car in Bordeaux, we headed out to the town of Eauze, in Gascony. It was about a 2 hour drive to Eauze, where we were spending the night. Eauze is an old bastide town with a circular road running around the center. We parked on the outskirts of the center of town, and checked in at our hotel, the Cafe de France. The hotel was right on the main square in the center of town, and we had a great view of the magnificent church from our room. After checking in, we took a drive through the countryside, stopping briefly at the small village of Courrensan, where we found 2 friendly cats and had a great view of the chateau.

Cats and Chateau in Courrensan

      Back in Eauze we took a stroll around the town, meeting 2 more cats, named Ficelle and Bella, before going back to the hotel for an aperitif before dinner. We each had a floc, a drink made with Armagnac liquor and fruit juice. For dinner, we ate at the lovely hotel restaurant, which featured typical Gascogny cuisine such as foie gras and sauteed duck breast. With the duck, we had a rich Madiran wine from Chateau Bouscassé, which dictated part of the next day's trip.
View from our room at Cafe de France in Eauze

Cafe de France

Sitting Area in our Room

Ficelle and Bella

      The next day, Saturday, we left Eauze and headed towards our gite in the Bearn region in the Pyrenees. On the way, we passed through the Madiran wine region, where I had planned to stop at Chateau Viella to taste and buy some wine, but after the prior night's dinner, we added Chateau Bouscassé to our itinerary. The wines from both producers were outstanding, and we bought several Madiran and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh wines from each producer. The appellations of Madiran and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh cover the exact same territory, but Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh is only for white wines, while Madiran is only red (and a little rose). For Madiran, the principal grape is Tannat; for Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh the grapes are principally Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng. The wines of Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh can be either dry or sweet, and most producers make both styles.
Chateau Bouscasse

        After our winery visits we stopped in the town of Madiran and had lunch, then headed south towards our gite in the Pyrenees region. The gite is located in the village of Bosdarros, just outside the town of Gan. Before arriving at our gite we stopped in Gan to pick up some provisions. We then drove down the road to the gite and met the owner. After settling in we had a glass of wine and waited for our British and French friends to arrive. Cathy and Jim were flying in from England, and they were getting picked up at the airport by Ghislaine, who was driving from her home in Burgundy. They arrived in the early evening, then we all had dinner together with some things that Ghislaine had brought with her and some wines we had picked up earlier.
Madiran Vineyard

Madiran Village


  1. France, the land of wine, cheese, and general strikes. So glad that you are sharing your travels with those of us at home in cold, snowy (yes, snowy) Maine.

  2. France, the land of wine, cheese, and general strikes. So glad that you are sharing your travels with those of us at home in cold, snowy (yes, snowy) Maine.

  3. I hope your suitcase arrived intact so you can be the cleaned clothed and debonair Bob Rossi we know and love. The locale looks wonderful as usual and hoping you have a splendid time. Thanks for the French cat visuals. I hope no one show them to Tavel.
    Safe journey.

  4. Good to read about your latest trip, Bob. Is Jurancon on the itinerary?

  5. Ah, another vicarious trip through France with my dear friends Bob and Ann! Can't wait to hear more about the wines, the gates, the countryside, the cats, and the cheese. I hope you managed to smuggle those lovely sitting room chairs in your carry-ons.

  6. Dang autocorrect! That's "gîtes," not "gates."

  7. Hi Bob

    I see you replied (got an email notification) but can't see it above. Anyway, you're obviously like me, in that you have a short memory(!) I've blogged extensively about Domaine de Montesquiou before, and you've commented on at least one occasion about your plan to pay them a visit. If you're in the area for a few days, I'm sure I could email them and put them in touch with you. That said, I'm sure if you turn up unannounced, they'd be glad to receive you - they really are lovely people. Plus of course, their wines are without equal. :-) See here, if your memory needs jogging.........