Croissants, sunflowers and foie gras

Guess where? Oui exactement!! For a complete change, we flew to Toulouse to spend 2 weeks in the Southwest of France. We wanted to visit some good friends in Dordogne and we easily settled into a routine of eating a lot of deliciously rich foods, loads of croissants, drinking local red wine and enjoying the beautiful scenery of sunflower fields, vineyards, castles and rolling hills…

We picked up a hire-car when we landed and 1.5 hours later we arrived in Aubiac, a tiny village where we were spending our first night inside a castle compound. When we arrived we had a tour of the castle (although a chateau is a manor house it directly translates as castle), saw the old wine presses and barrels and visited the 12th century church. From Athens to a French castle in 6 hours! We felt completely immersed into a wonderful new world.

We stayed in one of the small houses on the left
We stayed in one of the small houses on the left

Later on we had lunch next to Henri IV’s castle in Nerac and at dinner in a humble restaurant we feasted on a simple 5 course meal including goats cheese, foie gras, duck and creamy desserts. By then it really hit us that we were almost definitely in France! Sometimes we think the world has become uniform but we are always wrong – each culture has it’s own signature: the food, the scenery, the atmosphere, its people.

The river in Nerac
The river in Nerac which is a very picturesque town
Nerac but could be any of a hundred pretty towns we came through
Nerac but could be any of a hundred pretty towns we drove through

Driving to Dordogne the next day we saw our first sunflower field, it was totally mesmerising. After that they kept coming and we kept stopping at each one for what we thought would be the best ever photo.

They are all individuals - especially the one on the right telling the rest to stand up straight
They are all individuals – especially the one on the right with it’s back to us telling the rest to stand up straight
The golden just harvested wheat fields are beautiful as well
The golden just-harvested wheat fields are beautiful as well

Staying with Tone and Ståle and their teenagers in their converted barnhouse was a real treat! They move here from Oslo for 4 weeks each sommer to enjoy the good life.

Each day starts with a coffee, a croissant and a 5km run! Once that’s accomplished they’ll visit a local market or just jump in the pool and relax in the garden and in the evening Ståle cooks up a storm for dinner. The good life indeed – we didn’t wanna leave! Victoria and Jonathan (15 and 10) spoke fantastic English despite never living in England proving that the Norwegian school system is doing something right. On top of that they beat us at cards!

St Aulaye, the nearest village with special decorations
St Aulaye, the nearest village with special decorations

Cheeses and a musician at the weekly market in Chalais

One day we visited St Emilion and got a couple of bottles of wine, it makes a change to popping to the supermarket or bottle shop!!

View over St Emilion
View over St Emilion
And from the other side of town with the only lavender field we saw
And from the other side of town with the only lavender field we saw

St Emilion was probably the busiest of all the places we visited with tourists admiring the beautiful town and the old church you can see below. But again you don’t need to go far to find a few quiet streets.

Vineyards – just imagine how bottles of wine these fields alone would produce

Our time with Tone and Ståle came to an end too quick and I’m writing this in the garden of where we are now staying in the Medoc area, surrounded by 4 chickens and 2 ducks (the dogs and cats are ignoring us right now).

Today we were exited to visit a couple of vineyards which is what this area is all about. The owner of Chateau Sociando Mallet who is a 90-year old gentleman combines wine making with his philosophy that wine is for sharing, for that reason he invites people to a free private tour and tasting. We arrived at 11am which was way too early for our palates, at least that was our excuse! Sybil walked us through the cellars and the rest of the operation which is quite impressive – they produce half a million bottles a year. That equates 400.000 litres which is more than enough to fill a pool and do laps!

Hundreds of barrels and with delightful Sybil in front of the vines at Sociando Mallet
Hundreds of barrels and with hospitable Sybil in front of the vines at Sociando Mallet

Yesterday we ate mussels by the Gironde river, tonight we are going to BBQ in the garden and enjoy the bottle of red we bought at Chateaux des Graves next door.

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Xxxx green tree
A great spot for the swing

Our time so far has been delightful if not exactly action packed and we hope the photos will transport you to this beautiful part of the world for a few moments. Walking or jogging between the fields and the flowers, tasting the sausages and all the flavours and did I mention the croissants… for us this is what it’s all about and we’ve only scratched the surface!

A xxx
It s’mazing



  1. Anne Swanson says:

    Love France. You know there is the Medoc marathon run there each year, taking in the vineyards, wine and cheese en route!
    I see Nick was trying to be incognito in the yellow shorts – some sunflower!!! ?
    Love to you both,

    • Hi Anne
      That would be a great run! Although I wouldn’t make it past the first 5-10k – especially not if you sample the cheese and wine en-route!
      It’s really nice hearing from you again. Hope all is good in Perth and that spring weather is starting to make an appearance. We are starting to look forward to summer in Australia this year.
      If you like Nick dressed as a sunflower there is an even better shot coming up in the next blog…
      Take care
      Malene and Nick

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