Monday, March 19, 2012

Most Beautiful Villages in France: Brittany

The spectacular region of Brittany, located along France's northern shore, boasts rugged coastlines with breathtaking views. And impressively, she hosts five of the Most Beautiful Villages of France.

The wonderfully-preserved quaint village of Locronan earned its unique name through its hermit founder Saint Ronan, who founded the town in the 10 century. Small as it may be, the village managed to become one of the leading producers in the sailcloth industry. Today, the village still contains beautiful Renaissance houses and a stunning 15th church.

Sitting southeast of Saint-Brieuc is the charming medieval village of Moncontour. With a walk around the town, one will discover rich medieval buildings and 17th century gentry houses built from the proceeds of the linen trade. And just like its neighbor Locronan, the walled town had a booming industry producing some of the finest linen in the world, peaking during the 17th century. Visitors shouldn’t miss touring its magnificent baroque church of Saint-Mathurin with its ornate clock tower and lovely stained glass windows.

Situated in the countryside of southwest Brittany is the flower-filled town of Rochefort-en-Terre. The charming village is decked with vibrant flower displays, such as wisteria and germaniums. In the heart of the village lies its main square, which is dotted with bustling cafes, craft shops and restaurants. Explore its cobblestone streets and you’ll find half-timbered houses, 19th-century architecture, and delightful quaint hotels.

Le Faou
Le Faou lies in the Brest harbor. The village was once a bustling port with the transport of oak and especially beech wood from the trees that stood in forest of Le Cranou. Since the 16th century, the village has kept many corbelled houses built of shale and granite and also the church of Saint Sauveur.

Perched between land and sea is the pristine village of St. Suliac, impressively overlooking the Rance estuary. Back in the day, fisherman would reel in their cods by the coast of Newfoundland while the statue of the Virgin de Grainfollet watched over them. Discover its locally-renowned treasures: A tide mill, old salt marshes, and menhir of Chablé.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Good Taste: It’s Bordeaux on a Budget

Who said you couldn’t enjoy some exquisitely-tasting wine for under $40?

And mind you, these budget-friendly finds aren’t your typical, over-the-counter bottles with funny brand names. They’re actually from the renowned wine region of Bordeaux!

During a Bordeaux wine-makers dinner hosted by the Fig Tree Restaurant in San Antonio, TX, award-winning journalist Tanji Patton debunked the myth that good wine must put a dent in your wallet.
  • Chateau Mongravey, Margaux – A perfect blend of 70% Cabernet and 30% Merlot. With wonderful flavors of black cherry, cocoa and vanilla, this steal pairs exceptionally well with food.

  • Chateau Fonbadet, Pauillac – Take cherry, dark fruit and vanilla flavors with 60% Cabernet, 20% Merlot, and a hint of Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec, and you got one heck of a delicious steak wine.

  • Chateau Picque Caillou, Chateau Haut-Brion – We cannot neglect the goodness of white wines! The Picque Caillou comes with 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Semillon. The wine has citrus flavors of a Sauvignon Blanc, but the Semillon with its pear, saffron, and vanilla elements deliciously softens the wine. Indulge with grilled fish, or any type of seafood for that matter.

Craving to sample an array of Bordeaux wine in the real Bordeaux region? Set sail on hotel barge Mirabelle to savor 7 days of everything Bordeaux.

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