October 31, 2014

the tarn | albi

It's hard to believe that I jetted off to the South of France to enjoy the last of the beautiful late summer weather twice in one month, I'd do anything to be able to have that weather back right now instead of being tucked up in bed hiding away from the cold. This time round we headed to The Tarn region and stayed in the centre of Albi.

Our first stop was Musée de la Mode which houses fashion exhibitions throughout the ages based on a particular theme, this time it was all about velvet. There were so many beautiful pieces that I wanted to steal and take home with me, the little velvet clutch handbags being what I lusted after most.

Albi also runs a great food market, just as you'd expect for any French town. It's on Saturday from 7.30am until 1.30pm and has lots of cheese and meat sellers indoors too. I got myself a big bunch of rose garlic to bring home which turned out to be some of the best that I've ever tasted, and just €3 for 6 bulbs!

Just outside of the town is La Réserve, a five star hotel which has been visited by a whole host of celebrities including the Queen no less. I spent most of the time there obsessing over their cute little dogs which would follow be around, I instantly became best friends with a puppy named Joy and wanted to pack her in my suitcase to take home.

My next post on the rest of the trip will be up within the next few days, keep an eye out!


October 22, 2014

aveyron | soulages museum and café bras

For our last day in Rodez, we took a trip to the Soulages museum which was ultra modern and minimalist both outside and in. When it comes to design and art, I am a great lover of simplicity over intricacy so this was most definitely the place for me. 

After having a good look around the museum we headed to Café Bras which is located as part of the same building. It's a rather fancy fine dining restaurant that was created by the famous chef Michel Bras, who owns another restaurant in the region which has been awarded three michelin stars. Table reservations at Café Bras are high in demand and you will need to book around two weeks in advance, that being said, prices aren't sky high and you can easily get a great meal here without breaking the bank.

To start; roquefort cheese and aubergine soufflé with green salad and edible flowers. This was one of the best starters I've ever had and left me wanting to steal the plate next to me so that I could eat it all over again.

Main course; quinoa and chickpea salad with beetroot, sweet potato, edible flowers and a poached egg.   

Dessert; chocolate tart with mascarpone cream.

We were also welcome into the kitchen to take some photos and to watch all of the action unfold. The chefs and staff were all so nice about it and actually wanted us to be in there which goes to show how the place has just the right balance between being fancy without being at all snooty.

October 12, 2014

aveyron | conques abbey and la chartreuse monastery

Four out of five blog posts through and it seems like I managed to never put my camera down on my trip to Aveyron, it's hard to believe that I took so many photos in the space of a 48 hour stay. On the second day, we were once again blessed with such beautiful late summer weather. Looking like something popping up straight out of a fairytale and nestled in the middle of a village of just 90 people is Conques Abbey. As a girl who has lived in Norfolk (also known as 'the flat land') for the past six years, being driven through such a winding landscape and seeing huge buildings from different heights and perspectives made the landscape so much more magical in my eyes. 

The Abbey, which dates back to the 12th century, has a great sense of space and light which set it apart from many traditional religious buildings. There's no intricate stained glass windows as you'd expect either as these were designed by Pierre Soulages with the purpose of the giving the building different dimensions of light. There's also a small treasury building which keeps all of the treasure which was rediscovered in the Abbey after the French revolution, I ended up spending rather a long time gazing at all of the different jewels and wanting to make a necklace out of them all. Even if you're not usually a fan of wandering around churches, I really would recommend checking this one out purely on the basis that it shows the beauty of minimal design even in a religious setting. Not to mention how pretty the village of Conques is too.

Back to Villefranche-de-Rouergue, the same town that runs the amazing food market which I blogged about a few days ago, and is something which I will never be able to pronounce. 

There's a monastery named La Chartreuse based just a little way out of the town itself, it was one of the most serene places I've ever visited and really was so fascinating to look around. 

Somewhere between the two villages was this beautiful waterfall which we spotted at just before sunset. I have no idea which settings to put my camera on for when it comes to shooting waterfalls so just imagine it looking ten times better in real life.