Audrey Hepburn once said that 'Paris is always a good idea', but the more I see of France, the more I am coming to realise that France in its entirety is always a good idea. Case in point, last week, two gorgeous friends of mine decided to make their relationship official in an absolute stunner of a wedding, in a tiny French town of Boudy De Beauregard. Whilst I must congratulate them on becoming Mr and Mrs P, I also have to credit their choice of venue, or venues over the three day affair. They were all incredibly chic with incredible chefs.
The start to my playmate, Miss O'B, and my weekend got off to a literal bumpy start with a turbulent and delayed flight to Toulouse. Luckily, we made up some lost time in the air and, soon after we landed, we picked up our car. I am a big fan of Toulouse Airport, which I only bring up as I think it makes Toulouse and its surrounding area, an excellent destination for a long weekend. For whilst it isn't a big enough airport to do a Paderborn > Toulouse direct flight, it is big enough to be otherwise well serviced without being a behemoth like Heathrow with its twenty minute walks between gate 1 and passport control. Therefore, within a quarter of an hour of landing, Miss O'B and I were heading to our airport hotel.
I won't say too much about the Pullman Hotel next to the airport. It was perfectly fine for what we wanted. A clean bed, close to the runway and breakfast in the morning should we need it. It did all of those things, though all I would say is, that its modern foyer is curiously different to the interior of the bedrooms on the floor we stayed on. One looks very recently renovated. The latter looks like something from the late 80s. The bed was comfortable however, and the bathroom was spotless with fluffy towels. I booked through Hotwire, so it was pretty reasonable too.
After a lie in befitting the comfortable bed we were staying in, Missy O'B and I uncharacteristically missed the hotel's breakfast hour. They took pity on us and gave us a much better priced coffee and croissant (their light breakfast alone cost 13Euros each) for 8Euros in total. Happy and replete, we jumped in the car (rented through Sixt) and started our two hour journey to the Aquitaine region. About half the journey there is pretty enough along the motorway. At Agen when we turned left, we entered heaven on earth. Everywhere we looked was totally idyllic. None more so than our final stop, in a hamlet called Saint Eutrope de Born, where our BnB called Moulin de Labique was. We booked it through booking.com but it is also in the Michelin and Alistair Sawday guides.
There aren't enough positive adjectives in the world for this establishment. If I imagined a gîte or a BnB, this is how I would picture it in my mind. The owners, Christine and Patrick are utterly charming and they have two of the friendliest dogs that are the size of small bears. The hotel is situated on a large plot of farmland - with the driveway sidling up to a field of goats on one side, and horses on the other. The bedrooms are situated in one of the three buildings that must be a converted barn. Our abode was on the first floor with a balcony terrace from which we could view the gorgeous surroundings, and our private bathroom was up some spiral staircases within our room. The interiors were all decorated in an unforced, totally not twee, shabby chic theme. I could have stayed in this place for summers on end.
Closeby is the town of Monflaquin, which again is more like something that one could only imagine. There are lots of tiny cobbled streets, timbered houses and excellent restaurants. Sadly, I only had time to sample two of the eating establishments. One was a cheap and cheerful creperie, where Miss O'B and I sampled delicious galettes and ludicrously cheap white and rose wine. The second was La Grappe de Raisin, where Miss O'B and I ended up with the original intention of having a coke for her hangover, and a coffee for my energy. A three course lunch later, we departed for our actual lunch venue back at our friend's chateau where a post wedding BBQ was being laid on.
Mrs P had found Chateau de St Paul through her wedding planner, and my gosh she found a beauty. The land and its grey cobbled buildings had lots of little quirky nooks and crannies, but also a chapel that was big enough to hold the sixty strong crowd. The outhouses managed to cater for all the wedding party and there is a swimming pool onsite for those really hot days. On the day of the wedding, we were given pretty pink rose upon arrival, and I had some form of drink in my hand for the next twelve hours. In the name of thorough research, I tried all three colours that the French do so well, and I found that they were indeed living up to their well established wine expert reputation. The caterers did such an amazing job and I ate so very well on my friends' wedding day, and also for the aforementioned bbq, where I continued my in depth wine research. However, even without caterers, Chateau de St Paul, whilst such a great and obvious wedding venue, is also somewhere I would have on my hit list if I wanted a holiday with a large group of friends. With several self contained villas and rooms, you can be as social as you want to be, with grounds that make it very easy to be sociable in. The pool is a decent size, the bbq area a place men can be proud of, and the locations for boules are many. On the eve of the wedding, we attended a pre dinner (where I could have buried my head in the beouf bourginon), that would also suit this purpose. La Bailie in Salles is another stunner that can house large groups. Again, hats off to the happy couple for discovering such places and thanks for introducing them into my life!
This week, I will be releasing my Limited Edition Prints from the area, but I would love to hear any stories from the surrounding area that my readers can share. I intend to return as soon as possible!
PS Congratulations again to the happy couple, and thank you so much for your generous hospitality. It really was a magical few days.