Bonjour Bordeaux!

Bonjour Bordeaux!

September, 2017
Bordeaux, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  How about an unforgettable holiday with us at  New Years’ Jazz in Italy?

Our Music and Markets Bordeaux/Dordogne Tour begins and ends in Bordeaux, and each time we’re there, we imagine spending MORE time in this gorgeous city. Since this was the final Orpheus and Bacchus musical event, around which the tour is planned, we’re hoping to find another music festival in the area  – we want to keep coming here and sharing this beautiful part of France with our guests!
16 rusty statues (all cast from the artist’s 6’2″body) are scattered through the historic center, the work of British sculptor Antony Gormley, who has placed them gazing into the distance, reminding those who live here or visit to pause and look at what’s around them. No problem – we love to do so – especially at sunset!Which lively square shall we choose for dinner tonight? How about St. Pierre, by the church of the same name?Not far from Hôtel de l’Intendance, a comfortable and well-located hotel where we’re staying before our guests arrive, is one of the old city gates, a carved arch, where a vendor sets up a little morning market with the freshest of produce.Moving to the wonderful and elegant hotel we use for our tour, Hôtel de Seze, we begin showing off the city – with the impressive Girondins monument just behind the hotel, honoring a brave group slaughtered in the French Revolution.
On to the cathedral, where Sam hints that Kirk should stop for confession, and the always inviting Porte Cailhau.It’s a busy time of year in Bordeaux – everyone wants to be here around harvest time! So when we return from our countryside rambles a week later, our guests are in Hôtel de Tourny, and we’re in a not-good-enough-for-music-and-markets place where the room’s so small that the toilet is IN the shower!But it is in a fine location for discovering yet more of Bordeaux – such as those Roman ruins we’ve not yet seen! Imagine having this right in your backyard!We’ve had lots of foie gras and duck, a hallmark of the Dordogne region, for the last week, so finish our tour with some prime Bordeaux seafood at Le Petit Commerce before bidding a fond farewell to the city – it’s a beauty!

 

A Chateau and a Concert

A Chateau and a Concert

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Bordeaux region, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  How about an unforgettable holiday with us at  New Years’ Jazz in Italy?

Our final day at Orpheus and Bacchus begins with an after-breakfast walk to the nearest village, Gensac.

cam14588k That jaunty red car  in front of the town café

cam14589would be a fun way to tool around these winding vineyard wrapped lanes,

cam14591watching as the harvest begins.
After the last Hummel presentation by Nova Luce, we join other festival participants for a visit to Chateau Guadet in St. Emilion. Guy Petrus invites us into his garden

cam14604and begins our tour with the history of the family and vineyards, then takes us into the cellars

cam14612before we taste his excellent vintages.

cam14635
Tonight we have a special treat as musicians of Nova Luce join the Wihan quartet in a Mendelssohn Octet – breathtakingly beautiful music!

cam14638And after dinner the music continues on into the night as the younger musicians of Nova Luce persuade Leos, Wihan’s first violin, to join them in some playful music making. What a privilege it’s been to spend four days with these marvelous artists!

cam14650
Tomorrow we’re off to the lush green Dordogne valley…

St. Emilion & a Double Piano Treat!

St. Emilion & a Double Piano Treat!

Sunday, September 25, 2016
Bordeaux region, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  How about an unforgettable holiday with us at  New Years’ Jazz in Italy?

Fall is such a fabulous time to be in southwest France, with brilliant reds and golds garnishing the grapes heavy on the vines (harvest is a little late this year). cam14470We start our day with a morning walk in the vines, and every once in a while move aside when a bike or two whizzes by – cam14472there’s a rally going on in the neighborhood.
New this year at Orpheus and Bacchus, a group of younger musicians are presenting the works of Hummel, an under-rated composer of the late 18th and early 19th century. The “shade of Hummel” strides into the room and shares reflections of his life and interaction with Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, cam14475then the Nova Luce ensemble beautifully performs some of his arrangements and compositions. After lunch with the musicians we’re on our way to Saint Emilion, our favorite Bordeaux wine village. cam14487Set on a hill above miles of rolling vine-striped hills dotted with elegant world-renowned chateaus, it’s eagerly awaiting the harvest. Wine boutiques offer the prized elixir on every lane, and the amazing monolithic (rock-hewn) church soars from underneath the ground to the highest point of town. cam14488The steep streets ramble under arches cam14489and down beside vines growing right in the village, and on the steepest lane of all, cam14498we find our reward – delicious canelés, the chewy pastry of the region.
From the top of the town we look out over terracotta roofs clustered along medieval cobbled lanes, cam14510then wave goodbye to one of Bordeaux’s loveliest.cam14525The Wihan Quartet opens the evening of music with Schubert’s Death of the Maiden Quartet, then pianist Ben Frith wows us with Schubert’s last sonata. A concert on the unique duo-clave piano was on the schedule for tonight, but one of the pianists was unwell and could not come to the festival, so Ben stepped in with this astoundingly beautiful and challenging sonata – just happened to have it “up his sleeve”!
A special treat awaited me before the after-dinner concert, when, with another pianist I….    well, I’ll let Kirk tell you about it:
“Positively giddy with excitement, Anne played a Dvořák piano duet on a Pleyel two keyboard piano. Scroll down for the video!
First she had to roll it to center stage, cam14526athen find her keyboard under the heavy protective padding.

cam14526bThis takes a little coordination, deciding who’s playing which part (Sight-reading! First time I’d seen this music)
Gaining speed on the runway,cam14526e and we have lift-off (click here to listen to the music)!cam14526cvideotooThese 4 hand, 2 keyboard, 1 instrument pianos are a novelty. Only fewer than 50 on the planet. But better playing eye to eye than shoulder to shoulder – and you have the use of the entire keyboard without overlap or collision. I suppose you could play it with 8 hands. I didn’t count them but I think there are 176 strings in there.”
This was certainly the most fun I’ve EVER had at a music festival!

 

 

Markets and Music in the Bordeaux Countryside

Markets and Music in the Bordeaux Countryside

Saturday, September 24, 2016
Bordeaux region, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  How about an unforgettable holiday with us at  New Years’ Jazz in Italy?

From the elegant city of Bordeaux Music and Markets Bordeaux/Dordogne continues as we drive into the lush countryside, where we’ll be surrounded by vineyards and music at the Orpheus and Bacchus festival for the next few days.
It’s market day in the nearest town to the festival, Sainte Foy la Grande, cam14420and we wade into the throngs filling their baskets and backpacks from the stalls set up beside the half-timbered buildings ….kangaroo sausage, anyone?cam14408 Of course there are farm-fresh vegetablescam14410 and wines from the local producers too, cam14418spreading out from the main square through all the adjacent lanes.
After lunch under the arches of the market square, we take in the views, cam14424amore accessible now that the stalls are being packed up for tomorrow’s market (in another village). cam14424Shops and restaurants have been tucked under these ancient arches for centuries!
A bastide town (we’ll see several of these this week), Sainte Foy has the requisite characteristics: a central market hall in the middle of a checkerboard street layout, robust walls, and a stronghold of a church, but is unusual in that it’s built by a river, cam14433the Dordogne, rather than on a hilltop.
La Musique, near the village of Gensac, will be our home for the next four nights, and as we settle into our rooms we’re serenaded by a marvelous quartet rehearsing on the floor above. Ian Christians, the founder of Orpheus and Bacchus, pours an apertif by the pool, cam14440then we ascend the candlelit stairs to the fabulous music room under the beams. cam14449The Wihan Quartet, whom Kirk and I have enjoyed here in previous years, begins with a Beethoven Quartet, then we pause for yet another aperitif of local wines (they flow in abundance here!) before a gorgeous Schumann piano quintet cam14446quartetas pianist Benjamin Frith joins the quartet.
And then dinner – where we’re seated with the musicians – cam14447followed by a more casual concert….which goes on longer than we are able to stay awake! But we can appreciate it from our comfortable room on the floor below – lulled to sleep by beautiful melodies. What joy to be immersed in such marvelous music!

 

Bordeaux Beauty

Bordeaux Beauty

Thursday & Friday, September 22-23, 2016
Bordeaux, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  How about an unforgettable holiday with us at  New Years’ Jazz in Italy?

Across the Atlantic we go again, landing as the sun rises…cam14332tomorrow, Friday, Music and Markets Bordeaux Dordogne Tour begins!
Hotel de Seze is our Bordeaux base – and what a beauty it is! We drop our bags and head out for the first of our errands. We’ve chosen the restaurants for our first and last night, both of which will be in Bordeaux, but want to check out a new one, which one of our favorite France food writers, Alec Lobrano, has recently reviewed – Le Quatrieme Mur. In the classically exquisite Grand Theater, 02121602-grand-theatreit’s small and elegant, and with the continuing summer-like weather, lunch on the terrace is perfect. Each dish is as beautiful as it is delicious, and the excellent wine list comes to each table on a tab! cam14336We think this gem will be a perfect opening-night star for our tour!
We walk by a couple of other of Lobrano’s recommendations, enjoying each pretty square as we go.cam14343After dark we walk to Place de la Bourse, right on the river, where at long last we get to see the Mirroir d’Eau (Water Mirror) reflecting the grand square – it’s as shimmeringly lovely as we imagined! cam14348On our previous visits, winter and early spring, the fountains were not turned on  – they’re a warm-weather special.
We first met our tour clients, Stanley and Elaine, last year in Bath, for our Mozartfest tour, and have since gotten together with them in the US, both in Virginia and in New York where they live. This is their first visit to Bordeaux, so we begin with a walking tour of the city. cam14370Right behind our hotel is the huge Place de Quinconces, the largest square in Europe, anchored by the towering Girondins Monument.cam14371Next stop, a peek into the grand entry of the theater/opera,cam14374and as we continue our walk, we note the resemblance to Parisian streets, with the added pleasure of bright doors and trim once in a while.cam14358As we pass the Mirroir d’Eau the mist comes on, and young and old cool off on this hot day.cam14378Place du Parliament is an always-inviting square, cam14383popular with the Bordelais day and night.
We can’t miss Porte Caillhou, one of the city’s most photo-worthy spots, cam14385before circling back to the hotel.
It happens to be my birthday today, and I’m indulged with my favorite dessert, a Café Gourmand, cam14396bdaytreatbefore Kirk and I return to Hotel de Seze.
In a couple of hours we’re out again, for a first night’s dinner at Quatrieme Mur – cam14398and our guests enjoy it as much as we did yesterday. cam14399Bordeaux is such a beautiful city – with much to see, taste, and enjoy! Tomorrow we’re off to the countryside.

Sunday in St. Emilion

Sunday in St. Emilion

Sunday, April 3, 2016
St. Emilion, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to summer –  why not join us on the fabulous Amalfi Coast , in Provence, or Amsterdam?

Goodbye to Cognac – it was a pleasure!, we’re on our way back to Bordeaux country! St. Emilion is not just the name of a prestigious Bordeaux appellation, but is also a delightful medieval town (our favorite in the area)04021604 emilion st walls built on a hill surrounded by famed chateaux and vineyards. 04021604 grapes pampered vistaMarion, our guide, points out well-known names in the distance, and brings ancient history  alive with her tales of the 8th century monk, Emilion, for whom the town was named. 04021604 guide excellent learnRising straight out of solid rock, Saint-Emilion Monolithic (rock-hewn, made from a single block of stone) Church, constructed in the early twelfth century, is partly subterranean,04021604 monolithic church and for the first time, we’re taken through a secret door and into the ancient underground  – no photos allowed, but what an evocative step back into Emilion-the-hermit’s beginning!
Rather spooky – and what stays in memory the most is the massive iron supports around the huge weakened limestone columns supporting the roof high above – a vast space!
Delighted to step out onto the sunny market square, we continue exploring the town – be sure to hold on on the steepest lane of all!04021605 dangerous most And don’t miss some of St. Emilion’s best canelés – a chewy caramelized pastry – at the shop on the right.
Scores of religious orders followed the original hermit…there’s the Couvent de Jacobins, and a beautiful old Franciscan (Cordeliers in France, we learn) cloister04021605 emilion full of cloisters and monasteries this is cordeliers or francisicans that’s now a perfect place to stop for a wine tasting.04021605 linger longer catch upChai Pascal is a local favorite, and their dish of the day, served with a bottle from just over the hill, is always delicious – today’s Parmentier (shepherd’s pie) is no exception!04021605 plat du jourA short post-lunch stroll, 04021605 see you in septand we’re back on the bus, heading for Bordeaux, where a VERY special dinner will complete this wonderful fam trip….