My French Heaven

FOOD, PHOTOGRAPHY & JOIE DE VIVRE IN BORDEAUX, FRANCE

When a grand castle becomes a home

Latour Ségur - A heaven in heaven

My friend Corinne and her husband André are what we call in French “des amoureux des belles pierres”, which kind of translate like “lovers of beautiful stones”. But “belle pierres” means more than just pretty stones, it means an old home that has soul and a history. It is about “cachet” and class and history and authenticity. That’s it! Authenticity!

Latour Ségur - A heaven in heaven

And so Corinne and André bought a château near mine a few years back. It is called Château Latour Ségur. It is almost a thousand years old and is nested in a large park with magnificent old trees. Oaks, Lebanese cedars, linden trees… It has a large pond in the back, a rose garden up front and an amazing vegetable garden and orchard at the end of the grand alley. Then there are grand stables and barns and so on and so forth.

Latour Ségur - A heaven in heavenLatour Ségur - A heaven in heaven

As all great people, Corinne and André are animal lovers. There are many dogs running around the château. And chickens and geese and…

Latour Ségur - A heaven in heavenLatour Ségur - A heaven in heaven

A place like this, so large, lost in the trees at the end of a vineyard could look quite bleak and feel oppressive. It takes a lot of love and talent to make it all look as colorful and bright and full of life as it is. These people are madly in love with their home and they have renovated it with so much care and taste.

Latour Ségur - A heaven in heavenLatour Ségur - A heaven in heavenLatour Ségur - A heaven in heaven

Many wealthy people from all over the world buy their dream home in France. They invest in a grand castle and strip it bare. What they’ll typically do is a complete overhaul rather than careful renovation. They end up stripping the soul away. They don’t understand that these stones have memories. They don’t get that old sometimes is SEXY. They do a complete face lift when all the place really needs it a good glass of wine a pretty scarf and a night out with the girls… You see, I, for one, like a woman with wrinkles. It tells me she’s laughed a lot and i’ll probably have a blast with her around…

Latour Ségur - A heaven in heavenLatour Ségur - A heaven in heaven

At Latour Ségur you will find beautiful accommodations and a state of the art spa. This place is truly magical and the couple who brought it back to life are very special indeed!

Latour Ségur - A heaven in heaven

Oh! And André, although he’s pent most of his adult life in the States, is from Belgium! Needless to say he always has the best beer in the fridge and makes “French” fries like noone else!!!

Latour Ségur - A heaven in heavenLatour Ségur - A heaven in heaven

Latour Ségur - A heaven in heaven

Beloved tree resurrected…

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As many of you know, I live in my grandmother’s townhouse now. The property was bought right after the war by my grandfather and took half a city block. He needed lots of grounds and buildings to store his wine (note: he was a wine merchant, not the world’s biggest alcoholic). In the black and white photos from my archives, you’ll see the family having coffee (and wine of course) in the garden with part of the orchard in the back, my sister (who is now 58) watering the plants and my grandfather and grandmother on the very month they bought the house in 1947.

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The house was also the company’s headquarters. As time went by, the company evolved and the processes were streamlined. My sister, the latest CEO, decided to keep less stock. Most of the wine we sell now stays on property at the châteaux she buys it from. Long story short: we didn’t need the warehouse side of the property and all the buildings were converted into condominiums. As a result, half the garden was converted into a parking lot. I didn’t really mind, as the garden was much too large for me to take care of. The only thing I really missed was a HUGE fig tree we had there. I spent most of my childhood playing around that tree. And, once a year, Paulette, my grandmother’s cook, would use its figs to make the most wonderful jam.

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Now back to 2013. As I was cleaning my garden last year, I noticed a tiny fig tree growing on a rock in the middle of my herb garden. You see, Paulette couldn’t pick all the figs for jam, my grandma and I also raided the tree regularly. We would pick the darkest fruits and bring them back to the house for everybody to enjoy. So I guess one of the figs fell from our basket and landed on that rock in the herb garden. Nature did the rest.

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I will never see my grandmother again and I miss her every day, but my beloved fig tree is coming back to me…

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It will be years before I see fruit again. So I went to the market and got the sweetest figs I could find. Today I decided to enjoy them with a few slices of Camembert on tasted walnut bread…

 

Call me the bliss catcher…

Rallye des remparts 2014

You see, at the end of the day, it’s not food or wine or cars that interest me the most. It’s the people who know how to really enjoy these things who really fascinate me. My nephew Geoffrey and my friend Jame are such people. They are true petrol heads. I joined them both last weekend at the Angoulème Rallye. Le Rallye des Remparts. At least half the participants were British and I must say this: thank god for the Brits and their love of cars…

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Anyhow, I know most of you couldn’t care less about cars, but I know that every single one of you, like me, admire passion and pure beauty….

This gathering is one of the largest in Europe. More than 1200 cars from all over the continent were listed. I think my favorite was a little old MG with a silver hare on the hood.

Here is to bliss! Here is to “joie de vivre”!!!

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The last market of Summer…

We’ve had an incredible month of September here in Bordeaux. Sunny and warm; ideal for the vineyard. I predict that 2014 will be a vintage to remember (I’m full of it. I have no clue). The farmers’ markets however have to follow the seasons. Tomatoes and strawberries are slowly disappearing from the stalls and I’ve had to cook batches and batches of stuffed tomatoes before the last of the big reds are gone…

I visited my aunt Nicole the weekend before last. We went to the market together and got everything we needed for the most amazing omelette with chanterelles and herbs. For our main course, Nicole bought a few pigeons from a 90 year old gentleman. We found out how old he was during our conversation with him (it lasted for EVER). We also bought the sweetest prunes and mirabelles for a pie. Aunt Nicole is a fabulous cook!

I took tons of photos; so many in fact that I haven’t had much time to sort through them all; but you good people are used to my slacking off by now. So here they are in no particular order:

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