Warning: this post is a bit long! Also the pictures weren’t co-operating with me very well so I couldn’t add captions.
Well this was a challenge to say the least! Not only for the fact that the smell coming from a bakery would make me drool, but also because the French have no fricking clue what the hell coeliac is. They don’t even know what gluten is. And when I tried to explain it- well you can just imagine the looks I would get when I told a local that I don’t ever eat bread. In fact, when I explained it to reception at a hotel we were staying in in Toulouse, they had such a panic over what I would eat at breakfast (eh fruit….eggs maybe??….no no not the French!), they had someone run to a health shop and get me a load of gluten free bread. I felt awful when the waitress proudly presented me with the loaf (I don’t eat gluten free bread unless I bake it myself-have you ever read the ingredients label? Like 40 ingredients, half of which I don’t know), I had to politely
pretend toeat a slice and carry that damn loaf around with me!
So to describe the actual holiday- I was there for a wedding but Himself and I decided to make a bit of a holiday out of it and arrived in Bordeaux a week early. Weather was a bit crappy but since we had rented a car, we opened up the map and decided to chase the weather. We spent our first night in Bordeaux and in the morning headed off to San Sebastian. Well the tolls were great fun! Practically every 5km we got smashed with a 2 euro charge (about 26 euro to get to Spain)! San Sebastian is stunning- we went up to a ‘theme park’ on one of the hill tops and the view was just out of this world. We wandered around the town a bit and a few things to note from a food POV: no Starbucks or chains like it, only one McDonalds, tonnes and tonnes of tapas bars and of course siestas…..all the locals came out for dinner quite late at around 9pm and gathered in the bars taking a drink and some nibbles. They also ate lunch quite late-we arrived in the town at around 12.30 and tried to get lunch which proved a challenge. While wondering the streets and shops we noted the huge amount of bakeries and chocolatiers but also the grocery shops were just amazing; the way the food was laid out and the overall freshness was incredible. I picked up a bag of cherries for 1euro (11euro in M&S here) and a bag of strawberries for 1euro (5.50 in M&S and Tesco). Overall a lovely city…..mainly for families and couples though-it was quite quiet.
The next day we set off to Toulouse- we stayed in a really cool hotel called Albert 1er, a totally ecological hotel serving organic food. Really cool idea and right in the city! We grabbed a quick lunch in a restaurant above an indoor market- omg I was in heaven! Just look at the pictures!!!!! I wish we had somewhere to cook because I was dying to buy everything and anything I could get my hands on. By now we were sick of eating out all the time (which was also pretty expensive given the type and amount of food we eat!) so instead we took a walk around the city and to a botanical park where Himself had an ice cream (he didn’t hold back on the bread and treats over here and why the heck not!? Gluten and dairy doesn’t affect him the same as me). We then decided to rent out some bikes and cover more of the city (highly recommended! same idea as the Dublin bikes you can get). For dinner we simply stocked up on some roast chicken, cold meats, salmon, vegetables, fruit and a bottle of wine and had an evening picnic in another park- way better than sitting in a restaurant. This is where I had my breakfast incident and was presented with a gluten free loaf. The buffet breakfast consisted of pastries bread, fruit, yogurt, boiled eggs and cold meats. What was interesting is that we were the only two people to take eggs. Literally everyone else just stock piled their plates with pastries and bread!
The next day we drove back towards Bordeaux but took the back roads instead of the motorway to enjoy a bit of the scenery…..well all the villages were like ghost towns- Monday is a bit of write off (will do another post on French style of life). Weather in Bordeaux wasn’t great so we set off North to La Rochelle- my favourite town by far. Got there around 1pm so went straight to a restaurant where we probably had the best meal so far –devastated I didn’t get picture. Himself had paella while I had a plate of different fish on the grill- salmon fillet, prawns, some sort of local white fish and tuna served with rice and baked potato which I chose not to eat. We then rented bikes again and set off along the coast with our bag of wine. Found a nice place to sit by the beach and enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine-Bliss. I don’t actually like drinking wine or at least I didn’t think I did but the wine was really nice…I only drank red though.
And finally we returned to Bordeaux for two days of rain. We explored the city a bit, enjoyed the architecture and ate in some great places, notably ‘Le Petit Commerce’ which serves only fresh fish. I couldn’t get enough of the flowers as you can tell while a certain someone was drawn to the macaroons….but he resisted! ha to be honest macaroons actually tend to be gluten free because they are made from almond flour. But always worth asking just in case. The macaroons were stunning- the french take such passion in their food and desserts. Some shops we passes presented their chocolates/macaroons/patisseries in the same manner as jewelry with specific lighting and set up etc…
We headed to the outskirts on the Thursday to the wine region to attend the wedding which was set in a beautiful chateaux. The first two days were quite wet but the weather did pick up. I just couldn’t resist exploring so I spent the mornings going walking for anywhere from 2-4 hours. Everywhere was just vineyards! Unfortunately we didn’t get a change to actually do some wine tasting. The wedding itself was set in a stunning church which overlooked the valley followed by the reception in the Chateaux. I didn’t really take any pictures as I felt it would be a bit strange….but you can take my word that it was delicious. Although the alcohol was the biggest hit…..typical Irish….
Below are some pictures of things I saw on my walks- a cherry tree in almost every house (I NEED ONE!!!! seriously had to resist grabbing a few cherries!), stunning old farms with their own vegetable patches (can’t get much fresher), the Dordogne river, vineyards for miles and miles, and the chateaux itself with it’s stunning views.
So ye it was a great holiday- I managed to resist the temptation of eating baked goods which was a serious challenge! My God the smell is amazing. Instead I chose fruit for breakfast and would try and pick up fresh veg from the local market which I could nibble on throughout the day.
Looking back through the pictures it’s quite clear where my priorities lie haha food, flowers and the views!
I am a bit baffled still by how the French stay so slim or at least are slimmer in the general sense….However, I have a few ideas on this which I will follow up on in a separate post.
From an exercise POV I took it easy for the ten days and focused on doing as much walking/cycling as possible- this has done my back the world of good! I continued this practice back here last week because the weather was just amazing. I couldn’t resist walking on the strand at 6am-so peaceful. But after doing my first wod this morning I can tell my fitness has taken a step backwards so time to kick it up a notch!