Thanks to a little green dinosaur, known to some of us as the Timehop app, I was reminded this morning that one year ago today we finalized the planning of our France trip. Enter the mixed feelings of a deep longing to do it all over again, the disbelief that it feels like we were there just yesterday, not last Aug/Sep and the gratitude I have for being able to take such an amazing trip. Now all I want to do is plan our next one! Kitchen remodel or Europe trip? Kitchen remodel or Europe trip? Sigh. I hate having to make adult decisions sometimes! Continue Reading
I’m still pouring through all of my pictures from France. We haven’t talked about drinking wine in Burgundy yet, touring the quaint town of Beaune or the second half of Paris. Mes excuses! So to get us back on track with Fridays in France, I present to you La Mode Est La Vie! (fashion is life). Continue Reading
Need some inspiration lately? Bogged down with gift purchasing and Holiday meal planning? Take a break and check out my four very favorite sites on the Web. Trust me, you’ll walk away completely inspired and ready to take on anything in your path…even planning quality time with your relatives! Continue Reading
I spent most of my time touring around the Savoie region in both a wine and dairy coma. We’re talking 6 course French lunches, tasting 15 different wines at one time and cheese tastings pretty much every hour on the hour. In the above photo I’m just pretending I’m still drinking. By this point I had already passed out in the back of the car after said lunch, unbuttoned my pants and couldn’t stomach one more drop of vino. Weak? Yep, you got it.
Savoie is a place to indulge to say the least. They have so many different kinds of cheeses, they can’t even tell you how many are produced out of the Region! The wine isn’t too well known, especially here in the States. And that’s a shame. The greatest concentration of vineyards close to Chambéry is below the mountain named Mont Granier. Mont Granier got its abrupt shape from a fatal landslide in the 13th century which buried several villages. The rubble left behind proved fertile ground for growing vines.
The landscape is breathtaking with the mountains (seeing all the way to Mont Blanc in Chamonix on a clear day), the sunsets are gorgeous and the Alpine lakes are abundant. The above photo of the tours de Chignin tower and La tour du clos Saint-Anthelme (the castle-looking structure) are thought to date back to the 8th Century. Can you even wrap your head around that? I can’t. We so enjoyed touring around with our Mountain and Wine Guide, Bernard and his BFF Barto the Wine Pup. Barto rolled without a leash, ran around the restaurants during lunch like he was a boss and plopped down for a nap whenever he felt like it. If that doesn’t sound like the most perfect life, I don’t know what does.
We were definitely sad to leave Savoie – the people, the hospitality, the food. It was top notch. The only tiny regret we have is not heading to Chamonix. Chamonix is one of the oldest ski resorts in France and was the site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924. Everyone we met along the way, whether in the Savoie or Burgundy Regions, was headed here as part of the trip. So if you head this way, put Chamonix on your list. It looks beyond gorgeous. And how about that cable car!?
When deciding whether to spend our two full weeks in France or jump from country to country, it was the chance to explore this lovely area that sold us on staying within country and fully immersing ourselves in French culture. Chambery is located in the department of Savoie (or Savoy), which is in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. I’m sure you’re wondering what I meant by “department”. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. We did not fully understand the history behind the Savoy area until spending a few days in the city and touring around the countryside. Savoy only became part of France in the late 1800’s, and after spending a few days at the beginning of the trip in Paris, you could start to see those subtle differences in the culture. The people in Chambery and in the surrounding areas are proud of their Savoy culture and don’t necessarily consider themselves to be all that French. I still don’t fully understand it all, so I won’t even try to explain it to you. All I can tell you is this area of France, Savoy, whathaveyou is beautiful.
The streets of Chambery are gorgeous. Cobblestone streets with the cutest row homes, hotels, restaurants, shops that you ever did see. The grand Pre-Alps stand stately in the background of the city, and when it’s clear, you can see all the way to Mont Blanc in the Alps. It’s also a college town, so the entire vibe of the city was very laid back. The ladies were of course extremely stylish in their ballet flats, skinny black jeans, blouses and leather jackets. Our favorite little watering hole in the evening was the Irish Pub that opened up into the courtyard of a Catholic Church. I loved how half of the congregation following an evening mass trickled right over into their designated outdoor seats at the Pub. That’s my kind of Religion.
The elephant statue or Fontaine des éléphants is the most famous landmark of the city. It was erected for a Chambery inhabitant who came back from the Indies fabulously rich and endowed with the title of General. As the locals told us, it used to be a great embarrassment to the city. The joke? The elephants have no butts! So the “unofficial” name of the statue is Les Quatre sans Culs (the four without arses). I found it quite lovely, but then, I love elephants. Butts or no butts.
Our few days in Chambery were spent touring the Pre-Alps and the wine region. You’ll have to check in next Friday for that, but I won’t be mean. I’ll leave you with a little preview. Tastings that involved 15 different wines…at one time. My dad’s French twin brother wine maker. Our wine touring furry friend Barto the Wine Pup. And some of the most amazing relics from the middle ages. You might not be jazzed about that last one. It’s really for me. I think history is cool and seeing shit that dates back to the 900’s…mind. blown. Happy Weekend!!