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Dordogne, St. Emilion Trip Report


mukki
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Since I just started learning how to post pictures here, I thought I'd post a brief report on the trip we took to Bordeaux, the Dordogne and Paris last October/November.

After landing in Paris, we took a 4 hour (!) TGV ride (I didn't realize this is the route with several stops along the way) to Bordeaux, where we rented a car and stopped for a night in St. Emilion. Since it was my birthday, we had dinner at the Hostellerie de Plaisance (where we also stayed), which hosts a Michelin 1 star restaurant.

Hostellerie de Plaisance:

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Dinner included the house specialty: lasagne of foie gras with wild mushrooms and truffle emulsion (I'm quoting Michelin here).

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Some other highlights included an oyster:

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Lobster in an Asian-inspired broth:

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Cheese course:

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Mignardises (canneles, coffee-based dessert, and passionfruit caramel):

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The next day we wandered around St. Emilion, which is often called the prettiest village in Bordeaux.

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We bought some wine to be shipped home (at a surprisingly reasonable price) and ate some canneles.

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We then drove to the Dordogne, where we stayed near the medieval village of Beynac in a B&B called Residence Versailles:

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Beynac, with the Dordogne River in the distance:

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Saturday was market day in Sarlat, where we bought walnut cake, walnut oil, and other regional products.

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In Beynac, we had some delicious duck confit, which I had *never* had before. I was floored by how good it was: crispy, juicy (but not fatty, of course), with a hint of garlic and parsley. (No picture, unfortunately.) At the restaurant Le Presidal in Sarlat, we had cassoulet (disappointing) and confit-stuffed escargot.

Le Presidal:

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We went canoeing down the Dordogne:

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After visiting the prehistoric cave paintings at Font de Gaume, we stopped by the village of Leon, where we had lunch at Le Dejeuner Sur L'Herbe.

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Lunch included cidre, walnut beer (very tasty), a tomato salad and a tartine. Lunch was delicious, except for odd intrusion of lavender in both dishes.

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It was then on to Paris, where we stayed in an apartment in the 7th for a week. Every morning we picked up croissants from Poujauran.

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We had a wonderful, if overly filling, lunch at Pierre Gagnaire, but no photos are allowed. We also had lunch at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Highlights included --

Gazpacho:

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L'Oeuf:

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And the L'Agneau de Lait with the famous pommes puree:

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Also included was a stop by L'As du Fallafel for a fallafel speciale, which contains, among other things, hummus, eggplant, cabbage slaw and more:

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Last, but not least, a shot for those cat lovers out there. Here is Enzo, who was on vacation from Paris at our B&B in Beynac:

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Hilary

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Oh, and was the fame of the pommes puree justified, in your opinion?

Yes! It was by far the most delicious mashed potatoes (if you can call it that) that I've ever had the pleasure of eating.

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Thanks for the post! Lots of lovely pictures remind me of the time I spend in Dordogne. And I agree with you about the Duck Confit. Its one of my favorite dishes EVER - along with Pommes Sarladaise, of course!

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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Ahhh memories - nice trip. Reminds me - I was at the Sarlat Saturday market a couple of years ago and had one of the best food items EVER - smoked margret de canard wrapped around foie gras - ate it with a hunk of crusty bread in my car - best lunch ever. Oh the pleasure...

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Thanks for sharing your trip in photos Hilary. The tiny "restaurant" where you ate in Leon appears to be a nice find. It looks like the kind of simple place that I imagined were everywhere in France but in fact are disappearing. I hope it was as good as it looks. The tartine of thick country bread overflowing with meat and cheese is making me wish I had picked up some better bread for dinner.

The cassoulet in your picture also looks tasty. I'm sorry to hear that it didn't live up to appearances.

My husband and I were married in the mairie of Saint-Emilion. It really is an exceptionally beautiful little village, even if I am a little biased. :biggrin: I hope you tried the macarons as well as the canneles when you were there.

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How did you like Residence Versailles? Did they serve dinner there? We stay at a B&B near Isle-sur-la-Sorgue which we love. (lestroisfiguiers.fr) They serve a 3 hour+ dinner there each evening for all the guests. It's a highlight of our trips to Provence.

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Residence Versailles was very nice, particularly considering the price (55 euros ~ which balanced out all of our expensive meals). Our room had tall French windows that overlooked the valley and a wonderful breakfast was served each morning, which seems to be a hallmark of a good French B&B. No dinner, though. An even better B&B that we've stayed at is Le Vieux Figuier, located in Provence (Seguret, to be exact) and surrounded by vineyards.

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Lovely photos, thanks! SW France is my favorite part of the country... And Beynac, like most of the little towns on the Dordogne River, is spectacular. Right next door, La Roque-Gageac, is even prettier, IMHO. Josephine Baker knew how to live...

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  • 7 months later...

As for St. Emillion, I suggest that your parents definitely put the cavistes in town on their list - when we were in St. Emillion a couple of years ago we found that chateau visits were time consuming (though beautiful) and there was a lot of pressure to buy directly after the tasting with no comparison. At the cavistes many if not all of the local vignerons are represented, they have multiple side by side tastings. We loved St. Emillion, although we did not have any special meal there.

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There's a nice place to eat, Le Saprien in Sauternes. The food is good and if the weather's nice, you can sit outside and watch the grapes rotting on the vines

(which is a lot more appealing than it sounds!)

More info here:http://www.fra.webcity.fr/restaurants_bordeaux/restaurant-saprien_100281/Profil-Lieu.

If visiting the area, it's fun to visit Lillet in Podensac and have a aperitif, which is right on the road from Bordeaux to Sauternes, too.

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Sauternes is a singularly sweet microcosm of the delights of Bordeaux. It's a spare and focused village of wine. I'll second David's suggestion of 'le Saprien' and add my own less formal and rustic version of Sauternes hospitality the Auberge des Vignes- a delicious souvenir of roasted birds on the open fireplace and liquid gold by the glass. The town website mentions that it is under new ownership.

Not too far away, the town of Bazas offers a wider experience of shops and cafes as well as spectacular architecture of the Catherdral square. As Bibendum would say, "worth a detour."

St. Emilion also boasts a great wine bar with good bistro cooking, 'L'Envers du Decor" just a couple doors down from the tourist office. Make-up your own flight of Pomerols or other 'local' fare in a very casual setting.

In between the wine, the wine and the wine... there's a lot to see in this area!

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