From glitzy Monte-Carlo to laid-back Cap Ferret & a visit to Chef Ronan Kervarrec in St. Emilion

Unwinding to the sounds of the Atlantic ocean

We left Monte-Carlo exactly at the beginning of September, 2017, when vacationers everywhere were already back at home, thus avoiding crowds to unwind in Cap Ferret, in the southern extremity of Lege-Cap Ferret in Gironda known as the Silver Coast, separating the Atlantic ocean and the bay of Arcachon in France.

A pit-stop in Domaine de Biar

We made a stop in Montepellier to cut the trip in two, staying at the Domaine de Biar, owned by Bertrand Schmitt, who in 2007 fell in love with this place and described it as follows: “Biar was a folie (folia means leaf in Latin), but it was also an agricultural farmhouse. I love this ambivalence, a place of pleasure and a farm. We nourish the flesh as well as the senses, in a manner that is in the end spiritural.”

The origin goes back to the 12th century, and the Domaine is located close to an ancient road Via Domitia, built around 120 before J.C., a medieval heritage of German origin, cited the first time in 1155 under the name Manso de Biars. The yound King Louis signed an act authorizing the sale of Biar in 1727 by Charles Joachim-Colbert, Bishop of Montpellier and Maguelone with the Baron Joseph Bonnier of Mosson becoming the new owner and began major construction work. From 1882, the Domaine belonged to the agronomist Henri Mares, known for his discovery of the treatment against diseases affecting grapevines, and who also owned the elegant Chateau de l’Engarron located nearby. Henri Marès dreamt of offering Domaine de Biar to his daughter Henriette to whom he dreamt of offering this beautiful place surrounded by an abundant natural setting. Unfortunately, he did not have time to finish his work and the property fell into oblivion and suffered the ravages of time and remained abandoned for a century, until in 2007, Bertrand Schmitt decided to resuscitate it with the help of architectural agency Dabadabada and interior architect Jean Laforgue, aided by a team of talented artisans, respecting the environment and returning value to the old patrimony to bring back Bair to its original splendor. We can say it is still a work in progress but deserves a visit.

The buildings are majestic and the surroundings really peaceful where humans and horses live in harmony and birds are singing, and you feel at home. The only drawback for us was the bathroom integrated into the bedroom, that my husband and I find neither practical nor tasteful, but it is unfortunately the trend everywhere! Hopefully designers will come to their senses and put bathrooms back where they belong.

A cabin in a pine forest between the ocean and the bay 

In Cap Ferret, we rented once again a wooden cabin in a pine forest between the ocean and the bay, with a pool in the courtyard and a garden of sand surrounded by lush vegetation (See photo insert). The main requirement of my hubby who loves to cook was that the house had a large kitchen and should be at close range from the local market, the”boulanger”, fishmonger and butcher.

Our daily routine started with a small breakfast on the terrace, then driving or walking to the fantastic open air market that has an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and much more! After shopping we sat at the corner cafe for a hot espresso and a local “canele” cake, and then we went back home, where Zsolt prepared a delicious meals while I set the table, with a centerpiece of fresh flowers.

In the afternoon we either had a nap or read a book by the pool, then went for long walks on the wide sandy beaches, or for a ride discovering the nearby villages in a tandem bike!

We seldom had dinner preferring an aperitif at home, or eating oysters with a glass of white wine at the nearby cabanas on the bay, or going for tapas at bohemian Bar 44, or having a picnic on the beach while watching the sunset. Our morning routine changed when we opted to watch the sunrise from the bay rising up really early, and going to the open market afterwards of course! Life in Cap Ferret is relaxing, with a take it easy attitude, dress code is beachwear, jeans and t-shirts, perfect to unwind and de-stress, while enjoying nature at its best! The center of town is limited to a few blocks with only a few fashion boutiques so not recommended for those who love shopping as a pastime! We shall return next September!

Treated to a gourmet lunch by Chef Ronan Kervarrec in St. Emilion

We left Cap Ferret and drove towards the medieval city of Saint Emilion to visit our dear friend and 2 starred Michelin Chef Ronan Kervarrec at Hostellerie de Plaisance. Ronan invited us for a welcome champagne in the sunny terrace followed by a delicious gourmet lunch prepared specially for us, served with a 2000 Chateau Pavie Saint Emilion Premiere Grand Cru. What a treat!

Ronan explains his style in one paragraph: “Like a ‘Proust Madeleine’, my cuisine, inspired by my childhood and my Dad who was an innkeeper in Hennebont, Brittany, is defined as authentic and real, simple and visible, to define the tastes of products made with passion by our friends, the producers, in each season.”

We were really glad to see our dear friend again after he had left the Chateau de la Chèvre d’Or in Eze to move to Saint Emilion, and on top of it all it was a memorable culinary experience!

A walk through the vineyards

We said goodbye to Ronan and we took the opportunity to visit the Bordeaux wine country, known worldwide for the quality of their vignobles. Our guide was Rumanian Cosmic Tilivea a true wine connoisseur who drove us through the vignobles and told us interesting stories.

Images of the center of Bordeaux

We left the vineyards and continued to the center of Bordeaux, staying at the Intercontinental Le Grand Hotel,  visitint this bourgeois city for a couple of days,  before driving back home to Monaco.

Today’s Quote

“To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude.” Jeanne Moreau

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