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. 

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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!

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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

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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

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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!

A Photographic Tour of the Best of Provence (One of the Regions of France)


Top 6 Reasons to Visit Provence

Last year I printed the top 4 reasons to visit Provence in the spring. But, really, there are so many more things to explore than just 4, and so many wonderful things to do and see all spring and summer (and fall). Here are Bliss Travels top tips for Provence.

1. Stunning scenery bathed in light that made world famous painters like Renoir, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Monet …..swoon. In May, there are poppies, cherry blossoms, almond blossoms, and all sorts of spring flowers. In June, the cherries are in full bloom. In July and August you have Lavender.bill m france 2008

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Our class topped the tart with cherries -not fresh like the ones here, found in June in Provence

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2. The Provencal Markets. Whether it’s the first fruit and spring vegetable, or the late summer melons, peaches and figs, the produce in Provence is unrivaled –and the crafts, crowds and street life are all showcased at the colorful Provencal markets.

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3. The Villages. They are beautiful and each one is a piece of art in its own right!

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3. Food. Mouthwatering, amazing, real, local, sustainable, gourmet FOOD.

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5. Wines. Provence is home to the Cote du Rhone and has many fine wines, Chateauneuf du Pape among them. It is home to Bandol, Tavel, Vacqueras, Gigondas and many many more.

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6. Festivals. The festivals in spring and summer are wonderful. Everything from fancy markets, to bull fights to street music, to games, to dancing, tasting and more. There are cherry festivals in May and June. Village festivals from May through August. Music festivals in June. Melon festivals in July. Lavender festivals in August. Bastille Day festivals –on Basstille Day (see our earlier post about this.)

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6. Time on your own with your family and friends--even with all the activity! Provence is a place with lots of beautiful little corners, fabulous walks, quiet beaches, empty mountain tops, miniscule villages –all where you can see something new, and be away from it all — Be with yourself, your family or your friends, or your thoughts.

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If you’d like to learn more about Bliss Travels, small, custom trips –and how we provide exclusive access to things your typical traveler never sees, please  look at our website at www.blisstravels.com or our testimonials and  email us or call us at 609 462 6213. We have limited spring and summer trips available.

Tour France: 6 Culinary Treats to Eat in Paris Over the Holidays

6 Holiday Paris Treats! 

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One of the great things about French food is that it’s so seasonal….Unlike our large supermarkets where you can find “n’importe quoi, n’importe quand” (anything, anytime), that’s not the case in France. April/May are for strawberries and asparagus. July and August for peaches and melons, and so on. Well, the December holidays, though not during a “growing” season, have some of the most special culinary treats of any time of year. This is the time of year for….

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1. Foie Gras. Too hot to keep well (and too rich) for summer. This is prime time for foie gras. Best served with dried fruits, fruit breads, chutney…Don’t miss out on this. There are even “stands” at some of the Christmas markets that serve this as street food. And also, there are fabulous specialty places that make or bring in the best of the best. We have a restaurant we frequent who does this beautifully.

Photographer Anthony B makes this foie gras with fig look as good as it tasted!

2. Oysters and Champagne. Yes, you can have this along the streets or by the river bank during the holidays only. The vendors are set up, and a heater or fire is not too far away. Contemplate the lit up night sky while having these treats. Best of the best, at the best time of year. Walk to find the best market streets or by the river bank, where the views are “manifique”.Tour France Paris over the holidays

3. Chestnuts. In many forms. Roasted, and sold on the streets, or pureed and served with lamb or venison. Or candied and soaked in cognac (and sold by the best gourmet shops. Try Fauchon for this special treat. They do it particularly well.) A nutty but sweet flavor, that can be an accompaniment to both savories and desserts (think, Angelina’s Mont Blanc)!

photo by Sarah Miller Photography

4. Anything…in a Truffle Sauce. (Still remembering that dish as it simmered for Christmas Eve dinner in a little –very little– bistrot we frequent, on the Left Bank). I met the chef that morning as I was out shopping and he was taking a cigarette break. When i commented on the heavenly smell coming from his kitchen, he invited me in. He showed me the boudin blanc and the truffle sauce he was making. Also cooking a stuffed game hen for the night, he gave me a personal recommendation –Get the hen, and then ask for the truffle sauce. It was sublime!


5. Warm Wines. As we stroll the Christmas markets, there are vendors who sell warm mulled wine, both white and red. They add calvados or cognac to them for an added degree of “warmth” and you take your cup and stroll along the miles of markets looking for your favorite artisan products or gifts. We visit several of the markets each year and highly recommend you too visit more than one. Because some specialize in art and antiques, some are filled traditional gifts and crafts, and others have the best foods…Tour France Holidays in Paris

6. Chocolates. This is the time of year the really fine, and very perishable chocolates come out of hiding–and in full view. Perhaps you’ve heard of the wonderful Maison du Chocolat. Truly a great place. But, there are some remarkable, amazing, smaller (lesser known outside of Paris, but feted as masters in Paris) chocolate houses….And dare I say, it’s worth going to Brussels to experience some of this magic. We often do day or overnight trips to Brussels for just this purpose (along with some mussels, or amazing savory waffles).Tour FranceWe love these little holiday treats. Inexpensive and deceptively light. Try one!
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Contact us if you’d like to celebrate with Bliss!
www.blisstravels.com

 

Tour France: October in Provence (video)

October in Provence…

On our recent trip to Provence we visited the Luberon and Chateauneuf du Pape.

What was extra special about this trip though was that people had the option to participate in daily photography workshops/sessions before or after sightseeing, and also that we had professional photographer, Anthony Bianciella traveling with us full time. That meant that he was always there to offer help and advice, or simply take on the spot photos for people. (Isn’t it nice to be in your own vacation photos for a change?)

Of course, before we sped down to beautiful Provence via TGV train, we spent a little time in Paris. Walking, sightseeing, photographing…

and, mais oui, dining -in this case, on the season’s first truffles. Truffles in a creamy polenta.

One of the highlights is always the Provencal scenery. The ruins of Chateauneuf du Pape compete for our attention with the changing colored vines, and the gorgeous Medieval villages… Hard to choose which is the best view.

This particular trip included some light hikes through the countryside as well as the ocher mines, sightseeing in various Medieval villages, and a day trip to Chateauneuf du Pape for some truly remarkable wines from some pretty great vintages (Beaucastel, La Nerthe, Vieux Telegraphe, Barroche…to name a few). Click on the “wine” and watch the video Anthony Bianciella made of our trip so that you can take a “virtual vacation” in Provence.

Our next trip to Provence with Anthony is this May….Everything will be in bloom. Poppies, iris’s, cherry blossoms. It is a gorgeous time of year to go to Provence. Some of Anthony’s Spring photos are below. Click on any of the photos to learn more about our May 2013 trip to Provence. It’s small, custom and pure Bliss!

flower boxes around every corner.

spring produce fills the markets.

poppy fields everywhere.

7 Photo Categories (contest): Spring/Summer in Provence

Bliss – Full” photos of Spring and Summer in Provence, the Luberon

Please give us caption suggestions –either in comments or via email. We will post our favorites and  give you credit –and link to your blog if you are chosen!

A Bientôt,

Wendy

1. Sunflowers!

2. Painted buildings –from colors mined in Provence.

3. Color co ordinated flower boxes!4. Happy couples  -dare we say “blissful“?

5. Lavender cakes –yes, you heard right. These are absolutely wonderful –and only found here!
6. The amazing cliffs, and the unbelievable, otherworldly blue of the water.

6. The fabulous chefs we get to watch, work with, and whose specialties we adore!


7. Wines, and where they come from!

Paris & Luberon (Provence) See Who Rates it Top Place to Visit

It occurred to me the other day that all the experts and large publications rank vacations and destinations. So, I decided to do some research. And, you know what? Paris, Provence and the French Riviera dominate every list and every writer’s mind.

Here is how SIX experts rate France in 2012 (I had to narrow it down or I’d be writing all day!)

1. The New York Times writes about Provence regularly –several times a year, waxing poetic about its incomparable beauty and superior dining and lifestyle.

2. US Travel & News Report Paris #1 Best Vacations in 2012.

3. National Geographic Luberon (Provence) Top 50 Tours of a Lifetime in 2012

4. Travel Channel rated (Paris) a top destination in 2012
5. Weather Channel chooses a St Tropez beach as among the 10 best in the world, and other spots in France as among the best food, wine, and most romantic –on each of their top 10 lists.
6. Without Borders lists 5 places in FRANCE as among their 100 Most Beautiful Places in the World.
Below is a taste of what makes France so Blissful.
That the local restaurant uses this fountain to fill their water carafes –and so do we!
You can taste fruits and FINE wines at this stand by the side of the road (I once tasted 30 year old wines here –believe it or not! I came in for a melon and left 3 hours later after tasting about 16 incredible vintages…and buying a few!)
Villages really do look like this from your bedroom window and as you walk to market!

Lavender. The Lavender Festival. The Markets. The bounty!
Art: Whether you’re looking or making!
(by Michel –our talented artist in Paris!)
And, my favorite of all: Poppies in May!

Spring in Provence: Bliss Travels Newsletter

Bliss LogoOUR NEWSLETTER!

Bonjour!
Spring has sprung! On our recent trip to Paris was sunny and beautiful. Spring is a spectacular time to travel to Provence too. Poppy fields, iris’s, cherry blossoms, vines, and beautiful weather.  All without any crowds. . There is still time to book our May 15-21, 2012 custom trip to Provence and Paris. See things most tourists don’t have access to. Enjoy custom itineraries in a private, small group setting. Contact us now. 609 462 6213.wendy@blisstravels.com.

Foodie Trends in France
Local takes on new meaning in France. Local is not just from the region, it’s specific to the village, sometimes the farm. Our artisan jam maker in Provence grows all of her own fruits and herbs. Lavender, olive, lemon, verbena, strawberry, peach…if it’s not in her back yard, and ripe for the picking, then it’s not in her pots of jam or sorbet flavors. Chemicals and additives? No way. And now the chefs are following that trend. The top spots are buying from the local producers, in small quantities….
See our blog for more photos and trends.

Summer Provence Travel
mediterraneanSpring and Summer fun in Provence and along the Mediterranean. We have great dates and special itineraries available. Tour the Provencal markets. See the Bastille Day fireworks. Witness the running of the bulls. Ancient villages, impressionist art, wineries and so much more. Book your trip now. wendy@blisstravels.com
“I miss France! What a great trip. I felt so spoiled having you take care of everything. Thank you. Being a person that does like “tours” and having already been through Provence I didn’t really expect much – I couldn’t have been more wrong!!!” (October, 2011, New York client) 

 

Contact us now. Special family prices and custom small group trips. wendy@blisstravels.com or 609 462 6213
Sincerely,
Wendy Jaeger
Bliss Travels
Up and Coming
French Culinary Trends
Summer Trips
Spring in Provence

Insider Access Makes the Difference!
What does an “insider” provide? What difference does exclusive access to things not available to the public make? Click here to read what Anthony says and you’ll find out!
Or just read what our clients say:

“Wendy gave me not one but two vacations of a lifetime. The first vacation was so nice I booked a return trip within 60 days…. Her knowledge of the country and culture and attention to my special needs…and ability to deliver made me feel I was always in good hands. It was so nice I did it twice.” (April and June 2011, Philadelphia client)

“I had the most wonderful trip to Burgundy….. As a former head of the Bordeaux wine society in Washington, DC, but a great lover of Burgundies, I can tell you that all of my expectations were exceeded, from the pre-Burgundy days in Paris , during which I experienced things I had not, despite living in Paris for almost 5 years, to the Burgundy Adventure – including where we stayed, the tours, both of Beaune and the chateaux, the teaching sessions, and the meals (Ah, the meals!) it was the best vacation of its type I had ever taken. ” (September, 2011 Washington, DC client.)

Follow-up Links

Top 4 Reasons to Visit Provence in May!

4 Reasons to Visit Provence in May.

Of course, there are many more than 4  reasons. But, let’s just look at the top 4!

1. Beautiful Spring Scenery! May is the time for poppies, cherry blossoms, almond blossoms, and all sorts of spring flowers.

2. Space and warmth! …You beat the crowds and enjoy the season’s first picnics!

3. Everything is new. Spring vegetables are appearing in the markets.

4.It’s Bliss! Experiences most tourists don’t have. Exclusive access events and opportunities. Do what you want –at your pace.  Everything custom designed with ease! May 15-21, 2012

Read  what our clients have to say!


Contact us now to reserve your spot. May 15–21, 2012. wendy@blisstravels.com. 609 462 6213.

Wedding Story Contest: Bliss & France!

 Romantic France!

Contest

Tell Us About your Fantasy French Wedding/Vow Renewal, Romance or Honeymoon

WIN Your Choice of a free 2 hour photography session in Paris or a 2 hour privately guided custom tour in Paris!

To Enter

1. DESCRIBE: your idea of the most “Bliss”ful French wedding, elopement or honeymoon. Include how both France (whether Paris, Provence, or other locale) and the concept of “bliss” fit into you and your fiancés personal romantic story.
2. Friend Bliss Travels on Facebook
The contest is open to any engaged or soon to be engaged person 21 years of age or older. It is also open to people renewing their vows in the next 12 months. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. Must sign rules/entry form.

Winners

Entries will be judged on creativity, how close they adhere to the theme of their upcoming wedding, “bliss”, and how well connected the event is to some area in France.

The winning story will be featured on our blog, and the couple will be our “couple of the month” and featured on our website. The winners will receive their choice of a free 2 hour photography session in Paris (and a dvd of images) OR a custom designed 2 hour private walking tour of the Paris sites. 

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Bliss Travels www.blisstravels.com 609-462-6213 wendy@blisstravels.com 

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HOW TO ENTER. GO TO BLISS TRAVELS WEBSITE. WWW.BLISSTRAVELS.COM AND CLICK ON THE LINK!
Sign the below entry form and the rules pages, submitting the signed documents electronically with your essay and photos. Submissions without this will not be reviewed. (contact us for your copy of the form or see below)
OFFICIAL CONTEST RULES (“Rules”)
 
Qualified Participants: The contest is open to anyone 21 years of age or older, who is a resident of a state in which contests are legal, and who is planning a wedding, elopement or vow renewal before 1/1 2014. This contest is void where prohibited by law.
 
Background: Bliss Travels is looking for people who embody the spirit of our Blissful Weddings in France to become our couple of the month!
 
Sponsors: The Contest is sponsored by Bliss Travels Destination Weddings of Princeton, New Jersey
 
Contest Eligibility Requirements: Qualified Participants are allowed to submit an original 500 word (or less) essay on the contest theme and photo(s). All submissions become the property of Bliss Travels. All photos become the property of Bliss Travels. The contestants agree to allow the publication of all essays and photos (without contestant names, unless they wish to be identified) at the discretion of bliss travels. Any and all participants must assent to the republication, reproduction, or any other use of the submissions and the likenesses, personas, and voices contained therein by Bliss Travels and hereby agree to submit all applicable releases (see “Clearances” below). Qualified Participants are not limited to one entry, but will only be eligible to win one prize.
 
Steps to Enter: Qualified Participants must:
1. Read and agree to the contest Rules. To do so, you may find the contest Entry Form and a copy of the contest Rules Contest Entry Form signed by all participants .
 
2. Create an original essay of up to 500 words on the your idea of a Blissful wedding/elopement/vow renewal in France and how holding that event in France is connected in some way to your personal romantic story.
 
3. Submit your essay and photo, along with entry form and signed release. 
 
Contest Description: 1. Selection of finalists will be based on originality, creativity, adherence to the theme, and overall quality.
.Contest Prizes: The monthly winning story will be featured on our blog, and the couple will be our “couple of the month” and featured on our website. The winners will receive one of the items above.
Privacy: Any and all names, contact information, and related should be submitted only on the entry form and other required forms. Names, contact information, or any other personally identifiable information should not be included within the essay S
ubmitted Essays: All  submissions must be the original work of the participants. Participants must not have granted any other person or entity prior right to use the work.Submitted entries will not be accepted or eligible if they include – in the sole judgment of Bliss Travels— any content that contains or appears to contain:
  1. Profane, obscene, or inappropriate material;
  2. Endorses, encourages, glorifies, or condones drug use, underage drinking, alcohol abuse or any

other illegal activity;

  1. Nudity, profanity or gratuitous violence.
  2. Inappropriate language;
  3. Any express or implied commercial endorsement;
  4. Any derogatory characterization of any person or group based on age, race, color, gender,

gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, marital status, mental or physical disability, citizenship, creed, national origin, physical appearance, political affiliation, union membership, or other unethical or unlawful factors;

  1. Depictions of any conduct, language or other context deemed inappropriate.
  2. Any actual or apparent copying or other infringement of another’s intellectual property rights.

Clearances: Each participant is solely responsible for obtaining from all applicable individuals or entities any and all required rights, releases, consents, clearances, licenses, and other authorizations necessary to exploit and otherwise use their submitted video in any and all media. Clearances required include, for example:

  1. Location releases;
  2. Releases from any person whose name, voice, likeness or persona is referenced, shown, or

otherwise used in the submitted video;
3. If any individual depicted is under the age of majority, participants must obtain the signature of the individual’s parent or guardian on the applicable clearance(s).
4. By submitting entries, participants warrant that the contents of the submission do not infringe on any copyright owned by another, and/or that the content of the video is within the bounds ofthe fair use doctrine. Participants also confirm that to the best of their knowledge, any statements made in the submitted video are true and do not violate or infringe on the rights of third parties. All necessary clearances must be obtained and provided to Bliss Travels prior to selecting the video as a finalist or winning video. The sponsor may disqualify any submitted video at any time if the participant has not obtained all necessary clearances. Conditions of Participation: 1. By entering, participants agree to defend and indemnify sponsor(s) and sponsor’s principles, subsidiaries, affiliates, directors, officers, employees, and agents from any and all liability for any injuries, loss, or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with the contest as a result of receiving participants’ submissions and/or misuse of any prize.2. Each participant agrees that the sponsor(s) may retain a copy of the submitted video and releases the sponsor from liability for any loss or damage thereto. Each participant, by submitting the video, also consents, approves and authorizes the sponsor the right to use, broadcast, webcast, podcast, link to or from, syndicate, or otherwise exhibit or display the submitted video in its original or an altered form or format.
3. Each participant grants the sponsor(s) the unqualified, unrestricted, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual and royalty-free right to use his or her name, logo, marks, submission entries, and other distinctive identification in connection with promoting or marketing the contest or its theme, and future contests, materials or as the sponsor(s) determine.

  1. The rights described in these official rules begin immediately upon submission of the video.
  2. The sponsor has no obligation to post or display any submitted video and may at its discretion

remove any submitted videos at any time.

  1. The participant releases the sponsor from any and all claims by third parties or the participant
  2. in connection with the submitted materials.

.General Conditions: 1. This contest is governed by the laws of the state of New Jersey and participants consent to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of the state and federal district courts located within and of the state of New Jersey for any causes or controversies arising therefrom.
2. The sponsor reserves the right to void entries it deems associated with electronic or non- electronic tampering.
3. Should technical or other difficulties arise that compromise the integrity of the contest the sponsor may cancel, modify or suspend the contest without notice. In that case, the sponsor reserves the right to award the prizes from eligible entries received before the cancellation.
4. The sponsor is not responsible for any technical malfunction or service outage related to the contest.Questions? Please contact wendy@blisstravels.com or Anthony@anthonybphotos.com Sign and include with your submission.

 

6 French Wine & Food Pairings

Friday night Bliss Travels had the pleasure to lead a food and wine pairing. So, off we went to Montclair, New Jersey to meet a great group of about a dozen people to share French wines, stories and photos (courtesy of our photography partner, Anthony Bianciella). We are leading a private one again today! Many of the same wines, but with cheeses this time.

Below are some of our pairings and suggestions from these two events.

We compared the Cotes du Rhone (Provencal wines from the area around Chateauneuf du Pape)

and Burgundy. 

Our two favorites both to visit and to drink.

1. Muscat. This is served all over the South of France as an apero. Usually, the accompanying food is salty –such as olives, tapenade, anchoiade. (For cheeses, we pair this with a Bleu, and serve this last, rather than first in in our tastings.)

Mas Amiel, Muscat de Rivsaltes, 2008

2. Cotes du Rhone, white! A Fleur de Pampre, Cotes du Rhone Village, Visan, Domaine La Florane. Great bouquet. Floral. Light and slightly sweet. We paired with this with an aged goat cheese from the region, served on toasts, and topped with a fig confit brought back from Provence on one of Bliss Travels recent trips. For our cheese pairing we are taking orange and fennel pastry spoons, made by a world famous Parisian bakery (we brought them back from Paris on this last trip) and filling them with a fresh, mild goat cheese, a drizzle of lavender honey will complete this amuse bouche! (Want more recipes and food ideas? Contact us!)

3. Burgundy, white. A 2008, Saint Veran, Tirage Precoce, Domaine Corsin. This was served with a smoked salmon. The full flavor of the Chardonnay pairs well with the full fatty flavor of the salmon. This Chardonnay also pairs well with Comte cheese.

4. Roses from Provence. These are under appreciated in the US. Rose is drunk all over France, all summer long. With fish, meats, vegetables…

We recommend the Roses from Provence very highly.. The Bandol’s are wonderful (Mediterranean). The Tavels (Northern Provence) are a favorite. Every community will have it’s own, and it will pair beautifully with the foods.

We paired ours with an Aioli,made using Bliss Travels recipe. It’s a dish we made last May in Provence –and will make again this May when we go with Anthony Bianciella to Provence for our custom spring trip through the region (his photos are here. If you’d like to see more, look at his website).

It pairs equally well with our Soupe au Pistou. Click on the link for the recipe and to “see” the lesson.

5. Burgundy, red. 2009 Savigny-Les-Beaune, Les Picotins, Domaine Jean-Luc Dubois. This pinot noir paired with sauteed mushrooms and a light ratatouille. It would have been wonderful with our lamb dish as well. We are pairing this with a hard cheese of Sheep’s milk , and also with St Marcellin.

Of course, the best pairings are food and wine, where they exist locally. Some of last September’s group to Burgundy.

6. Cotes du Rhone, Red. 2010 Mas de Libiun, Khayyaim. A full bodied Grenache. We served with with a herb encrusted rack of lamb. In Provence, we recommend lamb or even a strong local goat cheese to stand up to this full flavored wine. Coming full circle, this red can be paired with a strong, aged goat cheese, on a fig bread, with a fig confit….All of these items live, grow and are made in the same small towns.

Thank you to our wonderful host (and very frequent traveler) Karen! Thank you to Chef Nikko for making dishes to pair with our wines!

Want to know more about our trips or learn what our travelers have to say? Read our testimonials.  Or contact us at 609 462 6213 or wendy@blisstravels.com. Spring and Summer in France are spectacular!