Many years ago, I visited Le Cordon Bleu (Pasadena) inquiring about taking up a course to upgrade my kitchen work skills. But because the course required several months of staying in California while my kids were still in grade school in Manila, the choice was easy: drop the idea and find other ways. I then signed up for a course at ISCAHM, Manila; but three lessons into my course, some God-events (including my father passing away) took place that hindered that from prospering too. One day when I was considering going to Provence for a short cooking course, I encountered this verse during my quiet time:
This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Ecc. 5:18
The Lord impressed in my heart to be glad with opportunities to upgrade my work skills through short cooking courses and culinary trips. One of those I dreamt about was Mimi Thorisson’s Manger Workshop in Medoc, France brought on by an ad for 50% discount for the cross-continental airfare! One of the other major things I needed to figure out was where to stay in a completely new place where I spoke only survival-level French.
From the time Patrick Lapayrere of Real en Medoc sent a prompt English reply to my room inquiry, it was a smooth, worry-free transaction. As my plan continued to evolve over six months, Patrick patiently revised our contract every now and then. PayPal payment for the deposit was convenient and a discount was given for a certain minimum number of nights. This greatly helped me take care of the other details of my trip.
Then, D-day came. The pleasant drive from Bordeaux-Merignac Airport was straightforward using the car rental’s navigation system (make sure you book the GPS when booking your car).
Pictures are inadequate to capture the beauty of the view ahead… rolling hills between harvest-ready vineyards underneath painted skies with cotton candy clouds among tree-lined roads, chateaus one after the other, with much greenery and fresh air to breathe. It is a perfect sight to play your favorite French songs.
Saint-Seurin de Cadourne, a commune with a listed population count of 700 people in 2008, is in Medoc, one of Bordeaux’s (predominantly red) wine-growing regions in the département of Gironde, which is home to about 1,500 vineyards.
In its midst nestled in refreshing nature, gentle climate, and abundance of wine lies Chateau Real, built in the 1800’s, which has been a family residence for over six generations. Its vineyard is now operated independently by a professional vintner.
About ten years ago, empty-nesting husband and wife team, Patrick and Violaine Lapeyrere, opened the doors of their home and offered it as the guesthouse, Real en Medoc Chambres d’Hôtes (translated “Guest Rooms”).
My fellow parent/ cooking friend, Maura, (who introduced Mimi’s blog to me) and I were fortunate to be guests here. Unlike in a hotel, the experience here is like visiting long-lost family. It is in the middle of wine country and is on the same road as the Thorisson’s home where the Manger Workshops are held.
The GPS said, “You have arrived at your destination.” indicating the RIGHT side of the road. We thought it was the structure beyond the grape vines…
…missing the house on the LEFT side of the road!! Immediately after this vineyard is the Real Parking. On our next round, we finally saw the sign that says “Real Parking” across the street from the house.
Patrick and Violaine greeted us and helped Maura and and me with our luggages.
The garden and courtyard:
The charming house:
Despite its historic aura, the chateau’s stairway is equipped with a modern stair-lift, provision for mobility-impaired guests to get to the second floor rooms.
I chose my namesake room, The Emilie, named after Violaine’s grandmother.
The bright, happy decor in our cozy room brought the sunshine in during the day and happy inspiring thoughts along with our praise playlist after sunset.
Violaine herself designed and sewed the bedcovers made from her own traditional family heirloom monogrammed linens. The only thing is that there is no door between the room and bathroom so Maura and I agreed that we would allot each other ample space and time.
The couple invited us to have a healthy kefir drink which is similar to yogurt but using water instead of milk. Patrick himself baked the very flavorful hazelnut bread.
Over our afternoon refreshment, we got to know one another more. Maura is from Italy but lives in Switzerland. I’m from the Philippines, and our hosts are from France! They told us about their families and the house. It was a warm welcome chat.
I was so delighted taking photos. Then, Violaine expressed disdain over my photo mania. I love and appreciate her genuineness to express herself honestly to me (instead of being nice in front of me and then expressing her disdain behind my back which is sadly what sometimes happens with the Asian non-confrontational culture and you never know what went wrong). I truly understand her viewpoint that it is rather rude to be on the phone and taking photos instead of laying the phone down and having a proper face-to-face conversation with earnest eye-to-eye contact. Many years ago, I had the same sentiment. I tried to adjust and take half the quantity of photos I would normally take over merienda (so that reduces it to about thirty). 🙂
Before it got too dark, Maura and I headed off to the supermarket and to the Chateau Saint Julien’s fantastic restaurant, Le Saint Julien.
The following day was our first workshop day. Violaine prepared a hearty homemade breakfast for us, complete with her own made-from-scratch confitures, some of the fruits from her own garden; she also served her own homemade bread, homemade yogurt, homemade baked apples and whole wheat pancakes!!! It’s like spending a vacation with Martha Stewart! We were spoiled!
Patrick and Violaine joined us for breakfast, just like family, catching up and sharing stories about food, France, and family.
Patrick brought out a party-sized wine bottle and I had to take another picture(!) to show my husband that I’m going to learn how to drink wine here in Bordeaux.
Exploring the most charming parking lot was an adventure in itself with different kinds of vegetables (eggplants, squash) , fruits (figs), and nuts (walnuts) that Patrick and Violaine use for their jams and breads.
The days went by quickly and soon it was time to say goodbye to our kind hosts and head towards home. Violaine had a big, wide smile, not minding the number of shots I had to take! 🙂
This was quite a lovely stay. Thank You, Lord, for the blessing of English-speaking kind hosts who cared for our needs, kept us safe and warm, even pampered us with homemade food from their own beautiful kitchen! They made our Medoc stay seamlessly enjoyable.
REAL EN MEDOC
6 rue Clément Lemaignan
33180 SAINT SEURIN DE CADOURNE