After leaving the beautiful and serene Chateau La Durantie my cousin, grandmother, parents, aunt, new uncle, boyfriend and I climbed into our rental car (van – classy!) and headed south.
During our ALL DAY drive from Lanouaille to our ultimate destination of Bordeaux we did a couple of things. First and foremost, we drove in circles. No seriously. We actually passed through one town three separate times. That has to be some sort of record. Needless to say, alternately ignoring and blindly following your GPS while traversing small country roads in Southern France is not necessarily the way to go… But on the plus side, no one died and we did ultimately arrive in the correct place. The key word being “ultimately.”
The second thing we did was stop and enjoy the views and architecture of a handful of small towns and villages, including Sarlat, Domme & Gageac de Roc (pictured above). My favorite was Sarlat, which was adorable and picturesque, but they were all pretty gorgeous.
Fashion: Given that we were road-tripping for a good portion of the day we weren’t terribly fashion-conscious. My favorite fashion moment of the day was actually discovering chocolate shoes in the window of a candy shop!
Food: I munched nuts and Larabars in the car for most of the day so that I didn’t turn into the hulk (seriously, I’m kind of scary when I’m hungry) and we stopped for a midday meal in Sarlat. The group was nice enough to let me pick where we ate, since I’m the hardest to feed, and I found a cute little restaurant near the town square that actually had a section on the menu for vegetables! I think everyone’s favorite food memory from this day were the macaroons though, we stopped and got three or four different varieties to try, and that was the quietest we were all day.
Fitness: There was so much walking during this day that my lower back actually started to fail and I had to sit out the last stop of the afternoon. I think it was a combination of no core exercises or stretching, hours seated in an uncomfortable position (as the shortest person in the car I was squeezed in the middle of third row of seats) and lots of walking on cobbled streets.
Lodgings: After hours and hours (and hours) in the car, we arrived in scenic Saint-Émilion, a gorgeous little city on a hill surrounded by patchworked green countryside. Truly one of the most stunning views that we saw during our trip. Unfortunately for us, despite the clock reading 6pm, this wasn’t our final destination. Saying goodbye to my family, Sean and I jumped into a taxi and took a 30 minute ride to Bordeaux where we “checked in” to our hotel. I use sarcastic ” ” marks because it was a really unique system since there was no front desk, just a podium with a print out of who is staying in which room. We climbed the stairs and found our room which was spacious, clean and new, grabbed the keys and left for some sightseeing.
Sights: We spend close to two hours wandering aimlessly around the city center, gazing at the architecture, checking out the fancy hotels nearby and getting thoroughly lost. I feel like I should make a confession at this point. I have the worst sense of direction. I was completely and utterly lost for 90% of this trip. Even looking at the metro & bus maps in Paris, Bordeaux and later Madrid, I still couldn’t figure out where I was. Clearly traveling alone would be a BAD idea.
Travel: After just one night in Bordeaux (we decided we could have easily stayed another 2 nights at least) we woke up, checked out and found the closest grocery store to stock up on food for the next leg of our journey. While I got more tabouli (the French really seem to like it!), veggie patties, fruit & nuts, what did my boyfriend get? A roasted chicken. Which he proceeded to eat, with his hands, over the course of our 4 hour train ride. And no, he did not have napkins. The entire train smelled like chicken!
Highlights: Sean’s favorite part of this leg of our journey were the views in Domme, which was a tiny cliff side city inside a retaining wall overlooking the Dordogne. Very medieval! My highlight was the phenomenal hotel that my aunt and uncle stayed at in Saint-Émilion, we joined them for a glass of champagne and enjoyed the views before we caught our taxi to Bordeaux.
Stay tuned for my favorite part of the trip, sunny San Sebastian!