The Tango is a historic barge built in 1930 and moored in Bordeaux that takes you along the rivers tasting fabulous wines, dining on market-fresh French food and leisurely visiting breathtaking wineries and cultural sites.
I’ve always been a fan of embracing the season and so when winter swung by London and the first snow of the season had fallen, we hopped on a train in search of the ski slopes of France.
Funnily enough, our trip to France would actually involve taking the train to Italy and then finishing the journey with a little drive back to France.
Tickets booked via Voyages SNCF, we headed off to Montgenevre in France, with a quick pit-stop and an amazing lunch at Le Train Bleu.
Little sidebar: Voyages SNCF is THE go to place for European train travel. I never really use it for the UK – I’ve just always used my Trainline app (which can occasionally be annoying as they have fees on certain journeys) or I just buy my tickets in person at the station (especially for tickets when it doesn’t make a difference in the price if I buy in advance or on the day of arrival).
If you plan to visit Bordeaux (and why wouldn’t you, the wine alone!), Vauban’s fortifications on both sides of the Gironde River is an interesting day out.
Once an orphan living in poverty, later an engineering genius with a prestigious career. A familiar story, perhaps. Yet that doesn’t diminish its power to inspire.
That is also the story of Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban: military engineer, advisor to Roi Soleil Louis XIV, France’s most famous king, and most importantly for this little piece, builder of forts, 12 of which have found their place on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites.
I’ve written about military architecture before. To my surprise, I’m finding it all sorts of interesting.
In Aquitaine in southwestern France, the kids and I visited the Citadel of Blaye and Fort Médoc, two of Vauban’s constructions.
When cycling through the wonderful forests of Fontainebleau, approximately 37 miles southeast of Paris, you will pass by the artistic village of Barbizon. Since the first half of the 19th century a lot of famous – and less famous – painters have found their inspiration in this area. After a visit of the local museum the bike tour continues through the gardens of the châteaux, or palace of Fontainebleau. This medieval royal residence and hunting lodge was very much in favor among French kings, such as Louis VII and Napoleon III.
Nowadays you’ll find a museum in this UNESCO World Heritage Site: the most beautiful sights of this château are the gallery of Francis I; the ballroom with an ornate coffered ceiling and a floor that mirrors the design of the ceiling; the queen’s bedroom and the apartment of the Pope.