Tour France: Travel Experts Bliss Travels Blogged by French Wedding Style

Meet the Experts: Bliss Travels

 As posted on the TOP French wedding blog! French Wedding Style….Wow, Thank you Monique for such a great write up! It’s not too soon to plan for our Valentine’s Weekend Special or for summer. Contact wendy@blisstravels.com now to experience Bliss.

Bliss Travels - enjoying cheese selection on tour

There is nothing more apt when it comes to vacationing in France than the name Bliss Travels. With incredible history, unparalleled beauty, the best food & wines in the world, and a language that can make anything sound romantic, how could it not be the ultimate blissful holiday?

That’s why Bliss Travels, a luxury travel company that designs bespoke trips, weddings and other events in France, has been taking couples through France for over a decade!

French Wedding Style – Photography © most photos by Anthony Bianciella
Bliss Travels teaching photography

Introducing Wendy from Bliss Travels: “Our clients have extraordinary experiences, the kind you can’t buy. We like to say that traveling with us is like traveling with a very well connected friend (who has great taste!) We offer exclusive, insider access to things that no other company can provide. We aim to not only please, but provide “Bliss!”

Many of our trips begin in Paris. How could we deny our clients a chance at specially designed (one-of-a-kind) menus in Michelin-starred restaurants, dining with chefs in their apartments, or in their quaint little bistros; shopping in the fashion capital of the world; and privately guided walks of the major sites and museums?

Bliss Travels - gourmet food and desserts

We love telling people about the surprising histories of famous monuments, sneaking into private little courtyards, and offering up tastes from the shops you couldn’t find on your own. In short, we like introducing people to the little-known treasures of France, and the City of Lights in particular. (Do you know where to find the best hot chocolate you’ll ever drink?  Or how about that great bistro in the Red Light district?)

Surprise Engagements

Sometimes our clients take extra advantage of being in the most romantic city in the world… At the beginning of our wine-tasting trip to Burgundy this September, one of our clients popped the question to his girlfriend after a beautiful meal and an evening stroll along the Seine. So we feted their engagement the next day when we arrived in Burgundy, with a barrel tasting in a 14th wine cellar, followed by a dinner that included red wine poached lobster and finished with luxurious cheeses, all prepared by our private chef. Just a bit more “bliss”!

Wedding planning in Paris

When we design our wine trips, our goal is not just great wines and foods, but also relaxed fun. Bien sur, we have Michelin chefs design private meals in Grand Cru chateaux and taste fine wines from the private collection of wine makers. But we also treat people to authentic experiences, not just formal ones. “Bliss” sometimes means that we are invited into a farmhouse for a rustic meal or a tiny bistro that opened just for us. Sometimes we are invited into a chef’s or winemaker’s home to taste their cooking, as they regale us with their stories. Our goal is to make sure that our clients have extraordinary experiences that are relaxed and enjoyable, not stuffy.

Exclusivity

We’re especially proud of the exclusive access we provide. Whether that means being invited to a vineyard where renowned wine expert Robert Parker was turned away (score 1-0 for Bliss!) or having a special case of (sold out) wine that he rated 100 saved just for us, we want our clients to have experiences they can’t get on their own.  And, we want their biggest problem to be (as one client recently wrote) “How we will be able to go back to drinking the wines we liked before, after tasting so many fabulous ones on this trip!”

Private wine cellar tour with Bliss Travels

After our wine tasting in Bordeaux this year, we decided to take an impromptu trip to Basque country on our way to Spain, just because there were some delicacies we thought people might enjoy! Next stop:  Barcelona to live large! Late nights with gourmet tapas in a private rooftop party, tours with a Gaudi expert to the Sagrada Familia Basilica, and time to explore a city with great nightlife, art, and culture. Perfecto! Adventure seekers call this trip their “Bliss!”

Provence

For more laid back trips, our clients adore the unhurried, cheerful culture of the Provencal region. Miles upon miles of lavender, sunflowers, poppies, perched villages, and ancient ruins make even the drive to a new place gasp-worthy.

Food in Provence is like nowhere else; intimate and relaxed. Where else would a Michelin starred chef create new dishes with us in his kitchen and then joins us for dessert? Or where else could you find a tiny “end of the road” auberge, where the owner brings food out on wood planks and then serenades you by playing an ancient mouth harp, while his goats jump over nearby tables.

Gourmet food tour around France

We always say “you’ve got to see it to believe it.” So get your camera ready! (That’s why we bring a professional photographer with us in the spring to show clients the tricks of the trade.) There is nothing better than realizing you took the Best Photo Ever, of the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen or the most unforgettable experience you’ve ever had.

French Mediterranean

We love to end our trips with a stunning change of scenery: heading to the French Mediterranean to stay in an ancient Chateau atop a cliff, or to visit a festival and watch the bulls run the streets! Many of our clients have called these experiences reminiscent of  “a fairytale”—and we couldn’t agree more.

A day on a private yacht, drifting through the crystal blue waters and going for the occasional dip and sip of wine, leaves each and every person tan, relaxed, and in utter “Bliss!” A summer picnic in a lush garden followed by a night watching the bulls and dancing in the streets is exhilarating and the best honeymoon or anniversary gift, ever. Period.

We have even helped a groom organize a surprise elopement to Paris for his fiancée, which you might recognise from appearing on French Wedding Style.

We’ll see you soon!
A bientot!!

How many experiences in this post are you just itching to be a part of?  What is your favourite activity mentioned?  I love the idea of a bistro owner exclusively opening his doors and kitchen for a private gathering and of course the wine!

If you want to know more about Bliss Travels trips, browse the Bliss Travels website and find more testimonials.

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A Culinary Tour de France: Bliss Travels Food Experiences!

Food is about pleasure, and nobody does food better than the French. Here is just a tiny sampling of  actual dishes we swooned over on our various trips through France.Whether it’s a Michelin starred gastronomic experience, a country auberge or tiny inn, or even a bistro, every single item was authentic and the best of its sort. That’s what all of the dishes below have in common: authenticity. 

Tour France

a stunning finale to a Burgundy tasting menu. This meringue with red fruits was the perfect end

We celebrated with incredible meals. Sacre bleu!

Tomato water sorbet, tomato confit, tomato gelee (frozen)….wow!

Tour France Provence

Local goat cheeses, eaten on a plank on the Provencal farm where they were made

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A Burgundy “amuse bouche” of stunning variety

Tour France Luxury vacations in Provence Paris

The best bistro in Paris, bar none

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The famous chicken from Bresse

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Tomato tart and tomato soup, with shrimps,  to start our meal

Tour France: Provence

Picnic of roast pork and rosemary potatoes, back on the farm

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Paris Michelin starred dining

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The appetizer tray in Provence, our auberge! Merci Amelie et Simon

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Never underrate the perfect omelette. Nothing is better!

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Or the cheese course!

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Stunning and delicious salad Nicoise

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Crispy duck confit, made just for our group

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Edible spoons, zucchini soups, and tapenade in Provence, where else?

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A tasting plate brought to us by one of our favorite restaurant managers. Nacer, we miss you!

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With coffee there is always a sweet or three!

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Chocolate is rich, and necessary

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An aioli. Wow. We made this at an on-the-spot cooking lesson


I f you are hungry, contact us. We’ll book you on our next adventure!

Tour France: Bordeaux & Barcelona. Spotlight The Sagrada Familia

An architectural masterpiece still under construction.

It’s astounding. That’s why we visited it and why 60 Minutes profiled it.  Look below to get a link to that segment.

The Sagrada Familia is a masterpiece 125 years in the making.

The Sagrada Familia is a masterpiece 125 years in the making.

When you look at photos of the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, Spain, your mind simply cannot process what it sees. Huge spires reach into sky and it towers over every other building in the city.

Gaudi's tower feature unusual posts- even a pile of strawberries!

Gaudi’s tower feature unusual posts- even a pile of strawberries!

The genius that designed it, Antonio Gaudi, was considered “God’s Architect,” an extraordinarily devout man who recognized that his design was a little complicated and built models for the next architect to follow.

Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the Basilica on this very spot a few years ago.

Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the Basilica on this very spot a few years ago.

These turned out to be more helpful that he could have known–construction on his church began in 1882 and is still being working on today, making it the longest running architectural project in the world! In the style of Notre Dame, entire families devote their lives to creating this place, and the passion invested in it is as clear and important as the architecture.

When Bliss Travels clients are shown the Sagrada Familia on our Barcelona trips, the meet the church with an awed silence.  People can spend hours exploring in and around the Basilica in awe of this marvel of architecture. Our native Spanish guide whose specialty is Gaudi’s architectural genius gave us all the inside scoop about Gaudi, and about future plans for the Basilica (Of course, being Bliss Travels, we also spent plenty of time finding the best tapas bars in the city to enjoy!)

Even the ceiling is difficult to process!

Even the ceiling is difficult to process!

And yet, at the end of the day there are still no words for this place. The Sagrada Familia has the capacity to make you feel very small, very important, and very proud to be human all at once.

There may be no words, but there are certainly pictures. And if you are as intrigued by the place as we are, come on our April trip to Bordeaux and Barcelona to see this spectacular site for yourself!

The entire building is covered in statues, all showing biblical stories.

The entire building is covered in statues, all showing biblical stories.

When the columns are lit, it looks like something out of a dream.

When the columns are lit, it looks like something out of a dream.

The Basilica towers over all other buildings in Barcelona.

The Basilica towers over all other buildings in Barcelona.

The stained glass windows throw incredible colors on the stone inside.

The stained glass windows throw incredible colors on the stone inside.

A bientot!

Bliss Travels

Want more information on the world’s most fascinating building site? Watch 60 Minutes’ special on the Basilica right here.

French Wine Tasting: Tour de France of Wines in NYC

French Wine Tasting in NYC 

This past Saturday we co-hosted a blind wine tasting of fine wines from several fabulous regions of France. This fun event was held at the NYC home of “frequent travelers” Kat & Mark. They graciously opened their lovely home on a perfect day, and stocked the tables with fabulous French and Spanish cheeses and delicious gourmet treats!

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Getting ready for people

2013-04-27 09.16.00Each glass had a name2013-04-27 11.30.25Just before arrival, our hosts and “penny” enjoying the sunshine.

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We tasted 5 wines, all from France.

Wine 1: Laurent Combier Crozes Hermitage white. A beautiful wine with floral notes and a rich bouquet. This wine is from just north of Chateauneuf du Pape. People don’t think of Chateauneuf du Pape as a town or even area that produces whites, but they produce excellent white wines. This is a very small part of production but the top ones are truly special –and hard to find in the US. We regularly highlight these when in Provence.

The area around Chateauneuf du Pape, where our first wines came from

Wine 2: Meursault, Les Narvaux, 2010 David Moret. A great buttery chardonnay. Loved this wine (as I do all Burgundy wines). This wine has a bit more minerality than the Les Charmes, 1er cru, we like to profile on our Burgundy trips.

Typical of Burgundy, wines and quaint towns and villages

Typical of Burgundy, wines and quaint towns and villages

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Our hosts this past September in Burgundy on a private visit to the 14th Century cellars of the winemaker who owns our luxury inn!

Wine 3: Auxey Duresses, 2010, Billard.  A very nice pinot noir from Burgundy. However, Burgundy did not receive its due by comparing and tasting a village wine with the 1er Grand Cru classe from Bordeaux. Next tasting I will showcase wines from Burgundy that are equal in quality and ranking to the ones from Bordeaux. Because this region’s wines have such a “wow” factor  -and the area itself is so stunning –it’s a shame to leave people thinking one region is superior to the other!

The stunning town of Beaun

The stunning town of Beaune

Wine 4: Les Amouriers, Vacqueyras, 2010. This grenache and syrah wine is also from just north of Chateauneuf du Pape, and a very accessible alternative to the big names (and prices) of Chateauneuf du Pape reds. Needs to breath for about 90 minutes to 2 hours as it is young. But is a good wine, full flavored and a great example of what the region can produce.

St Emilion, from Pavie's vineyards

St Emilion, from Pavie’s vineyards

Wine 5: Chateau Pavie Macquin, 2007, her Grand Cru Classe. Predominantly merlot (84%) with 16% cabernet franc, this wine is truly a top wine. It surely overshadowed the other reds. It was smooth, rich and extremely well balanced. Still young, it was opened 2 hours before drinking. Next tasting, we will bring out the big guns in Burgundy to compare with Bordeaux. I think it will be a very tough decision for folks at that point!

Bordeaux France Wines

Thank you to all of your who came. And for those of you who couldn’t make it, we hope to be able to hold “reunions” for other groups and more return travelers!

One final shot of those of us who went out for dinner at a cute French style bistro after the tasting.

Dinner for those who could stay late

2013-04-27 15.35.19Hope to see you in all again very soon!

A Bientot,

Wendy

Bliss Travels….To Bordeaux and Barcelona. Tour France with us!

Bliss Travels is expanding! Watch for the best, most authentic, most exclusive experiences available anywhere (really).

We spent March in talks with the most exclusive, most stunning, most tasty places you can find in Bordeaux, South West France, and Barcelona Spain.

Tour France, Bordeaux

It’s hard to imagine, but our boutique lodging is this spectacular. Enjoy a glass

of Chateau Margaux as you sit in your stunning room. Yes, we’ll send it up to you!

DSCF0665Or have a taste of wines from the spectacular private collection of Smith Haut Lafitte, where we will enjoy a private culinary and wine event. Several Chateaux have agreed to open their “not open to the public doors” for us and we are humbled. Enjoy Premier Grand Cru Classe wines of world renown.Bordeaux France Wines

We will visit the top chateaux in St Emilion where we have been promised unparalleled experiences. When I heard from one Chateau that  Bliss was welcomed and had access to places that Robert Parker was not allowed I knew we were in for something special. We can’t provide photos of some items in order to keep them private.

After finishing in Bordeaux we will have a gastronomic and artistic experience on the

 French/Spanish border, before heading to Barcelona for tapas that rivaled anything we had seen before.DSCF0752Another newly discovered culinary gem lies in these quaint streets.
DSCF0758Finally,  we have made arrangements at an artistic boutique hotel in Barcelona for a warm, luxurious and welcoming experience. We will have a private tour by Bliss Travels’ newest guide and art expert, through the works of Gaudi, especially  Sagrada Familia (one of the most astounding places one can see anywhere). We will have the advantage of visiting with a guide who has met with the architects of this world wonder and has intimate knowledge of Gaudi’s life,  work and Barcelona generally. We will see Park Guell, another treasure of the city. And I will introduce you to an unknown chef whose cooking is superior, creative and truly a hidden gem.

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Welcome to Bliss! Contact us now to get one of only 10 spots on this amazing journey to Bordeaux. wendy@blisstravels.com