Monday, August 20, 2012

Chez Nous à Bordeaux . . .

As we watch summer's relaxed days dwindle, as I try to dodge the stresses of wedding preparation and paid-work-related worries  and watch autumn hurtle towards us with its onslaught of obligations, I'm already dreaming of possibilities for next spring's holiday. Will it include Paris, as usual, or bypass that city in favour of Barcelona? Is it time to get back to Lisbon? Now that the Olympics have moved on, will we go to London again? And for that rural, slowed-down pace with a historically and aesthetically rich European sensibility, will we explore the Spanish countryside or the Italian or go back to the little Portuguese village we love?

Honestly, though, we're leaning heavily into going back to Bordeaux again for at least two weeks, and if we do so, much of the decision will be based on this perfect home away from home. A well-equipped kitchen so that we can enjoy some of our meals at home -- and so that I can always have my beloved tea first thing each morning (even if we do head down to the corner café a bit later for a Cafe Crème and a croissant or tartine).

The most tempting bookshelves I've ever seen in a vacation rental!
A charming garden
with a little dining set that we pulled inside when it rained
but kept outside for breakfast otherwise
Don't underestimate the value of a washing machine and a drying rack when you're travelling. I panicked a bit when I found a chocolate stain on my cashmere sweater, but gentle cycle wash and a few hours in the sun? Good as new!
With the addition of that sunlight-and-oxygen fragrance, with just a hint of honeysuckle!
Here's the upstairs sitting area -- that porch is gloriously private, a wonderful aerie to escape to with a book after too many days of sight-seeing.

Our bedroom was just over those stairs and through the door on the left. And sometimes on my way from the bedroom to the bathroom (the door on the right), I'd find myself detouring to yet another bookshelf, and meandering over to the couch to browse a fascinating travel memoir or discover a new favourite poet. . . .

Or I'd stroll out to the porch with it. . .
peering down to the garden below  . . . . the garden that housed this charming fellow's twin. . .
And the neighbourhood? A repurposed church/convent across the street
another one just down the road. Satisfying architectural details everywhere . . .
Merveilleux, non?

And do you know that I found this treasure through blogging. As we prepared for last year's trip to France, lovely blogger Lezzles suggested a meet-up, should we make it down to Bordeaux. So I made sure Bordeaux made it onto the itinerary, and we had a great dinner out with Lesley and then a fabulous day with her great kids at the seaside. At one point, we mused about coming back for longer, using Bordeaux as a base, and Lesley mentioned that she had a friend who might be interested in renting out a place. And . . . . the rest, as they say, is history. And we now have a few good friends in Bordeaux and a growing affection for the city and its environs. We even took French lessons this past spring with a grad student at the Université, a grad student très sympa.

And although I began this post sounding as if next year's trip was wide open to all possibilities, it does sound as though we're leaning in one direction, doesn't it? Hmmmmm. . . .

Are you also inclined to begin planning -- or at least dreaming about -- your next vacation before you're barely finished your current one?
And have you ever had a vacation home that felt so very comme chez vous?

20 comments:

  1. Hi Mater - what a lovely vacation rental! I just can't imagine you NOT going back to Paris, so I'm interested what your final decision will be.
    Right now we are thinking about a vacation next March break with our younger son - Las Vegas! However, husband and I dream ahead even further in time, to what we'll do and where we'll go once he's retired, or once both kids are out of the home. That's fun - so far we have thought of cruising, back to Europe of course, San Francisco, the southern US. We have plenty of time to make - and change! - plans.

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    1. I know! I can't imagine us not going back to Paris either.
      Those sound like some wonderful future plans -- you must have friends in Europe so that you will always get an inside view now, lucky you!

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  2. What a fabulous rental!
    If I ever get to Bordeaux I will beg you for the name of this space!

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    1. If you ever go, I'll be sure to share it!

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  3. What a beautiful space. I can imagine that it is compelling to return. So peaceful and clean in the design. And then, right out the door, Bordeaux and beyond.

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  4. What a lovely place to spend a vacation. It's always nice to have a bit of a feel of home when returning from a day of sightseeing. Were all the books in English, or a variety of languages?

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    1. We book people -- that's where our eyes are drawn, right? They were in French and English; you would love it!

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  5. I think if I had such a lovely space available, I would not hesitate to return.

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    1. This is what we're thinking too, Terri.

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  6. I adore Bordeaux. I have a very dear friend whose home I visited in Villefranche this past Spring. It was so relaxing and lovely. The pace of life, the Brocantes, the lovely long lunches with charming friends. Ahh...I could return today!!

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    1. Much as I love Paris, we're increasingly drawn to Bordeaux. That riverfront is fabulous and the pace is so amenable. . .

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  7. I think that's a major reason why I adore holidays, staying in such beautiful, minimal spaces, so supportive of reflective rest and reordering of one's mental spaces. We often stay in such apartments in Venice, Rome and on Lake Como. If only my own home was so neat, clean and fresh, rather than a chaotic heap of children's shoes, perpetual drifts of laundry waiting to be ironed, piles of papers to be filed ....

    So many choices for European destinations, I myself would encourage you to explore a bit of Italy but that's my bias :-), just as Paris is yours! Hester

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    1. Oh, that mini-catalogue of Italian place-names, it calls!
      And yes, interior landscapes with no hint of obligations, so permissively inviting. . .

      My daughter and SIL have been similarly urging us toward Italy and we do intend to get there. Might visit more Spain first, though, and I'm missing Portugal as well. . . Do you speak Italian? We've got pretty decent French which we're always trying to improve, which makes France a big draw.

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  8. I'm lazy in learning Italian as DH speaks Italian and I speak Spanish & Greek so I can understand a lot, but do need to attend classes and gain a proper grasp of that beautiful language, when the intense phase of child rearing lets up a bit and I have an hour free for my own self improvement here and there!

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    1. sorry, that last comment was Hester to Mater, you see, distractions of small persons prevents anything coherent being achieved! Small Fluff wailing and larger Fluff demanding help with train track...first cup of tea of day already going cold....

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    2. Oh, I do remember those days! You and your husband make a good travel unit, then. We've put all our eggs in the same basket, so far, although I had 2 years of university Spanish too many decades ago (along with several highschool years of not-so-very-useful Latin!). I keep intending to resurrect it, but rather fear the confusion I used to find with French -- I'd French-ify Spanish nouns or vice-versa with French verbs. . .

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    3. I doubt you'd mix the two, I speak French & it has quite a different cadence to Spanish. It's like different dance forms in which music is the signifier of how to wiggle, equally the immediate culture around one switches one's brain into the correct parlance. My husband speaks six and flips between them easily. Above all, I wouldn't get hng up on feeling one can't visit a place until one can get by in the lingo. As I said, DH speaks Italian but is often at a loss in Italy when people switch into the local dialect. We just smile and gesticulate agreeably and all is well.

      It is raining in my bit of England. I hope that we have sucked up all the northern hemisphere's quota of rain (it feels like it) and thereby your island will be dry and sunny for impending nuptials. Hester x

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  9. I'm so glad that it all worked out well!
    And I agree, it is a lovely place to be. Quiet, yet close to everything. Spare, yet full of things to read.
    I do hope that you decide to come back next year.

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  10. What a lovely and peaceful place to rest and relax, and then Bordeaux! You make me think I might want to travel again someday.

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