This girl has had a jam-packed few weekends recently but I now have a moment to breathe and a few weekends rest coming up before my next trip away.
I recently went over to France to visit my parents for a little sunshine break but also to celebrate my dad’s birthday, it’s a rarity that all the family manages to get together but for the occasion my brother and his girlfriend also came across from their house in France to help celebrate. It was only a few days but it was really nice to see everyone, the sun didn’t shine the whole time we were there but it didn’t rain and it stayed warm so it was fine.
We spent our first night eating the Clubhouse, basically my parents live on a private housing estate on the edge of a small holiday resort called Etang Vallier, the same guy who owns the holiday park is the one who built the house my parents now live in. It’s a lovely little area, there is a lake with a beach on it and over the years it has expanded to include some water sports, a camping ground and a new complex with a café in it. There is also a restaurant further round the lake but this caters more to a formal meal and is much more French based meals, we fancied some nice burgers and pizzas though.
The food was great, the service was fantastic and the views were spectacular. We sat on the terrace with our drinks, food and great company and watched the sun set over the lake, it was a perfect start to the holiday really.
Our next day was spent in Cognac, we grabbed a spot of lunch in the centre and had a little stroll down by the river, and honestly you don’t need to spend much time here. The town is quite small but it does have some lovely things to see, the riverside was all set up for a festival the weekend we visited so we could not see all of it but it looked lovely. We then headed out to the Rémy Martin estate for a brewery tour, it turned out we were the only ones booked onto our tour so it was almost like a private one. The staff at this place were amazing, from the minute you walk into reception to the second you leave the staff treat you with such respect, nothing is too much for them and you are made to feel extremely welcome. You get taken around the different warehouses that show the stages of making and ageing the Cognac, some of these warehouses are massive and quite far apart and during the summer heat this would be a lot of walking so thankfully there is a little bus/train that takes you around between them. One thing that you maybe don’t expect when you walk into the warehouses is the smell of alcohol, it’s not just the smell though, it’s the feeling of it on your chest, and it really hits you. The woman explained it’s due to the evaporation from the barrels and as you get to the older barrels the smell gets stronger. The tour ends with a view of the brewery’s prestigious supply of Louis XIII, this is all held underground and in the dark, this stuff is really rare and takes over 100 years of sitting in the barrel before it is deemed ready to go into a bottle.
The tour ends with a tasting; this is where the staff at Rémy Martin once again truly shines. As we came into the little bar area all of the staff were there waiting for us to wish my dad a happy birthday and to present him with a little gift. The tastings were great, we tried two different types of cognac and had small nibbles to go with them, and this gave a great idea of pairings but also demonstrated how the flavours of the cognac change with different food.
My dad’s birthday ended in Angouleme in a lovely little Italian down a side street, this is one town I would recommend visiting if ever in the area. Its centre is up on the hill-top in the ramparts and it’s a total maze of stunning little streets that are all individual, one of the reasons for this is that Angouleme is a famous for its graffiti. The views from the top of the ramparts are stunning and we were lucky enough to time it so that we were up here for a sunset, you really can see for miles from here. Our holiday ended with a day spent relaxing by the pool with the kindle and a BBQ in the evening before our early morning flight back to Bristol. It is really nice to have this place over in France and be able to hop on a flight and go enjoy it, I am aware just how lucky I am to have this opportunity and now my brother has moved to France I get to do it even more.