Tag Archives: Travel

Frenchie and Chinon

29 May

When a friend buys a hotel in a small serene historical town nestled in the Loire Valley, you just have to go!

I arrived in the very petite gare de Chinon during a foggy morning.

Bleak and oppressive.

I knew my train was surrounded by a very lush bright green nature as it made its way to the station but I could not enjoy any of it.

The cawing crows seemed to follow me as I made my way to the hotel.

A bit eerie yet exciting to be somewhere I had never been.

A quick walk. Already seized by the quaint homes and color accents in the old streets.

It’s very promising I thought!

Jamie and I know each other from blogging.

I’ve followed her life, adventures, thoughts and recipes for years now.

Her words, her stories. Sa vie.

They are tiny glimpses into her heart and soul.

They make me strive to write differently and better every time.

They take you on a journey – a slice of someone else’s life.

And it’s no secret she has a sweet tooth, which means her blog features delightfully enticing recipes.

We always talked about meeting when I am visiting family in France.

It never happened. C’est comme ça.

Until now…

As the sun started to peek through the thick Chinon morning fog, the hotel courtyard appeared.

I don’t even know where to start to describe the place.

The outside white spiral staircase, the second floor terrace with swinging French doors, the roses, the garden, the stylish arbor with climbing plants, the open bedroom windows under the eaves with curtains floating in the morning breeze.

I know I am forgetting a thousand other details.

The first thing you’ll notice when stepping inside Hôtel Diderot is how warm and cosy the place is.

The second thing I noticed, of course, is the armoire à confitures. 

Hundreds of home-made jams of various colors, each carefully labeled and piled up in an open armoire for everyone to admire.

Made avec amour by Hôtel Diderot” some of the labels read. Is it time for le petit déjeuner yet?

And in true Frenchie and the Yankee style, multi-colored serving spoons were adorning each open jar still decorating the breakfast tables as the last guests were leaving the dinning room.

Appetizing names such as gelée de cassis, pêches rafraichies à la menthe, fraises et framboises, bananes aux raisins did indeed keep me good company during breakfast.

I unfortunately hit my sugar intake for the month and did not get to taste all 20-some variety of jams on the breakfast tables but if you read this site you know that I’ve been obsessed with banana jam since Tahiti so Jamie’s impressive range of banana-based jams were a hit.

And I could have pocketed some of the orange cocoa marmalade jars.

No shame. Non, non.

Chinon was everything I could have hoped for.

An attractive architectural wonder with Gothic and Renaissance gems to discover.

A sprawling wine country and tastings available pretty much everywhere.

A warm welcome by Jamie, her husband Jean-Pierre and the staff at the hotel.

A cosy, fun and colorful room – a home away from home in a charming setting.

Private castles to admire in the countryside at every street corner.

Surprisingly good seafood.

Winding streets to discover and the enjoyable game of getting lost in a medieval setting.

Roses, roses and more roses. I don’t think I’ve seen that many roses in one place. Various shapes and colors. A delight for the eyes.

Meeting a friend for the first time and already looking forward to reading more of her new adventures as a brand new hotel owner in Chinon in her upcoming book.

Congrats Jamie!

If you go:

– from Paris, take the train to Tours and change for Chinon

Hôtel Diderot

– follow Jamie’s blogs: Life’s a Feast and Plated Stories – you can also catch her on Twitter and Instagram

– for a wine tasting in a historic family château and vineyard: Le Château du Petit Thouars

Pierre and Bertrand Couly also had an interesting wine tasting worth a visit

– walk the historical streets in the old town leading up to the Château de Chinon because the view from above overlooking the old roofs is breathtaking

L’Océanic for seafood

La Part des Anges for a more intimate dinner either with a loved one or to catch up with a friend – merci encore Jamie!

Frenchie and Weekends Away

7 May

I’ve been very lucky these past few months.

Lucky that I was able to visit friends who no longer live in the same city.

I came to realize I am surrounded by friends who, like me, enjoy moving and end up in interesting cities and countries.

Keeping in touch, optimizing the quality of a friendship with long-distance allies, buddies, mates, can prove to be difficult.

What is the secret to staying in touch?

How do you stay close when the long-distance barrier stand in the way?

Weekends away and mini trips for one-on-one face time – quick reunions to catch up and explore together.

These escapes are something I look forward to.

What do you do to keep up with friends who live far?

Please share your favorite getaway places, cities, memories.

IMG_9775 IMG_9721_2

Continue to discover Washington, DC has been on top of my travel list for a while now.

Food hunting of course. But also immersing myself in the quaint architecture of its various neighborhoods.

A different kind of historic town in comparison to Boston, which I continue to miss dearly.

Washington always surprises me for its colors and random happy spots that I soak up along the way.

From one lone bright yellow house on a busy street surrounded by other gray houses, to the eye-popping colored walls of Georgetown.

Un vrai délice.

In no particular order, my DC list goes as follow:

– the ham croquetas, the manchego and ham open-faced sandwich, the barely spicy thick tomato sauce with eggs at Estadio were a brunch highlight

– the magnificent bold colors, pastel tones, and whimsical look of 12th Place NW off of W Street NW caught my attention.

– the fennel pollen and orange peel saucisson, the home-made punch and the crusty bread at Etto proved to be the perfect afternoon snack.

– relaxing on a bright Sunday morning at the Big Bear Cafe outside terrace while waiting for a lemon blueberry muffin showed me Washingtonians can think about something else other than work.

– the Meridian Hill Park off of W Street NW is a place I had never explored before. A high point in the city and a high point of my visit as I thoroughly enjoyed the walk from Dupont Circle through the various off the beaten path streets leading up to the park.

– the pastrami hash, the bagels, the smoked salmon, the challah French toasts, the rye bread… yes, it is DGS Delicatessen and it is as good as it sounds.

– the unusual elongated and narrow location of Iron Gate restaurant, tightly nestled in between two townhouses. You actually eat in what was once an alley. The old stables in the back turned into a bigger dining room. If you can get seated near the bar at the front of the restaurant in the alley, it is the perfect spot. Oh and I forgot to mention the charred feta stuffed squid with currants, pine nuts and mustard cream.

– if you are lucky to be in DC during the cherry blossom season, the walk around the Jefferson Memorial is stunning.

When talking about Atlanta, I can’t say I know the city well.

Work trips mostly took me there.

Hotels, conference rooms, no real city experience.

I caught up with Atlanta recently and unearthed its unique side.

I focused on the following:

– biking the BeltLine – an all day biking trip featuring colorful walls, murals, parks, and peculiar corners. What fun!

– how could you say no to lamb merguez, chickpeas, olives and mint at One Eared Stag? I couldn’t!

– the Krog Street Market has been on my list of places to visit for more than a year now. Enfin ! GC BBQ, The Little Tart Bakeshop, Superica, Yalla… too many things to try.

– the beauty of old Victorian houses in the Inman Park area.

– the blue and white bright interior at Jake’s Ice Cream and Sorbets shop.

– the walk through the Botanical Garden filled with flowers each prettier than the other.

– a winning gazpacho with lobster meat at King + Duke.

Now that I am back, I can’t wait to go back. I saw a side of the city I had never seen before.

Pictures in this post are from DC and Atlanta along with quick snaps weaved in the story from other weekend getaways in NYC and Blowing Rock, NC.

Frenchie and a Long Winter

21 Apr

 

It has been a quiet winter on the blog.

Time flies quickly when life purposely and unwittingly puts many obstacles on your way.

I hope this long silence is over because I have many photos and experiences to share.

I will be back.

 

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