Tag: Absolutely Southern France

The Oyster World of Tarbouriechh

Best Oysters South of France: Tarbouriech

Nancy McGee of Absolutely Southern France and I often team up for a road trip. Or just to get into trouble. This time, the road took us southwest from Uzès to Marseillan. We visited the oyster world of Tarbouriech. 

Oyster world of Tarbouriech

For three days in the heat of the south of France, it was road trip time for Nancy McGee and me. This outing, we did one of my favorite things — eat oysters! Not just any oysters, Tarbouriech. The name may not mean much to some, but to oyster fans, Tarbouriech oysters are among the very best in the world. It’s all due to the unique farming process they developed. Oysters actually spend a scientifically determined number of days being dipped in and out of the water. It’s all automated through solar panels. Welcome to the oyster world of Tarbouriech.

Oyster fact: Did you know that seahorses love to live around oysters? The presence of seahorses proves the water is very safe. Tarbouriech has loads of seahorses. Real ones!

The Oyster World of Tarbouriech

 

Oyster Spa, too!

Everything at Tarboureich is about oysters. The new Tarbouriech Domaine with luxury rooms, restaurant, bar, and pool. And they have an oyster spa. Even an oyster massage. No, there are no raw oysters involved. Just a finely polished, heated oyster shell. It’s much like a massage with hot rocks. Devine!

Down the road Le St. Barth Tarbouriech is where the oyster business started. Home to a seaside oyster bar, you can ask for a boat tour of the oyster beds…. after an oyster feast, of course!

Loving South of France Oysters

 

Come along and enjoy the day!

 

 

 

Loving South of France Oysters

 

 

 

 

South of France Memories Tour 2019: Only 4 Spots Left!

Sign up now for the South of France holiday you’ll never forget.

While the Barefoot Blogger has been distracted with a move to a new apartment in Uzes and NO wifi, my friend and cohort Patricia Sands has been busy gathering our next new best friends for the 2019 South of France Memories You Promised Yourself Tour 2019. 

Only 4 Spots Left!!

We’ve done all the trip planning.

The “South of France Memories” tour itinerary was created by one of the top experts in travel in the south of France — Absolutely Southern France. It is designed for all travelers — veterans and novices.  Our itinerary includes some of the most visited places in the south of France — and some that are just getting on the travel radar. From the Côte d’Azur to village markets to historic towns to wild life sanctuaries, we’ll experience it all.

Here’s an overview of the destinations for our 2019 women’s tour. It includes 12 days of exploring, touring, eating, drinking and making new friends. For all the facts and cost, click here.

  • Stroll the seaside Promenade des Anglais in Nice and tour the colorful city
  • Meander through cobblestone streets of Saint Paul de Vence, filled with history, galleries and charming shops
  • Discover Eze and the spectacular gardens of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
  • Explore the ancient harbor town Antibes, Patricia’s home away from home
  • Walk in Cézanne’s footsteps in Aix en Provence
  • Savor vibrant, trendy Sète and a culinary adventure
  • Live in Arles among roman treasures, world-renowned  architecture and the spirit  of Van Gogh
  • Enjoy a safari to observe the Camargue’s unique flora, fauna and rose-colored salt marshes
  • Experience market day in St Remy de Provence & the spectacular Carrières de Lumières in les Baux de Provence
  • Peek into the Barefoot Blogger’s world in Uzés, Pont du Gard
  • Join harvest time and taste the wine

Life is short.

Sometimes you have to get packing and make memories you promised yourself.

visit the south of France

 

 

Perfect Day Trip to sete

A Perfect Day Trip to Sete: Gourmet Tour and Oyster Farming

Co-leading a tour of the South of France with Patricia Sands for sixteen ladies was the ideal opportunity to design the perfect day trip to a Sete—one of my favorite places to go along the Mediterranean. But where to start? 

Perfect Day Trip to Sete

Nancy McGee of Absolutely Southern France, my friend and tour destination planner extraordinaire, created a plan that highlighted Sete’s history, famous foods and oyster farming.

Come along and join the fun. Imagine you’re right there with us on the South of France Memories Tour with Nancy Mcgee and Patricia Sands.

Perfect Day Trip to Sete

Accccccccchhhhhhh

Pretend you’re enjoying the video I created about our perfect day in Sete. Guess what? I’m in the hospital. .. the video won’t download over the hospital WiFi! I’ll save the video for another place and time. While I’m experiencing technical difficulty and a new part of my adventure in France, the hospital system, please stay tuned to the Barefoot Blogger on Facebook for daily updates. 

Meanwhile… 

Patricia Sands is revisiting the Memories Tour on her blog. Oh, it’s so much fun traveling with these ladies! Read on…

On our first morning in Arles, we met on the front terrace of our hotel Le Cloître to set off on today’s adventure. This would become a favourite gathering spot, morning and evening, under the magnificent giant Paulownia tree.

 

South of France Memories Tour 2018

Day 1: South of France Memories Begin in Nice

Day 2: Around and About Nice: Memories Tour Day 2

Day 3-5 Hot Spots on the Côte d’Azur: Memories Tour Day 3-5

Day 6:Aix-en-Provence in One Day

Day 7: A Perfect Day Trip to Sete: Gourmet Tour and Oyster Farming

Day 8: Memories tour/18 ~ Day 8 ~ Arles

Day 9: Memories Tour/18 ~ Day 9

Day 10: Memories tour/18 ~ Day 10 – St. Rèmy and Les Baux de Provence

Day 11: Memories tour/18 ~ Day 11(part 1) – Pont du Gard and San Quentin la Poterie

Day 11: Memories tour/18 – Day 11, part 2 – Uzés

Day 12: Memories tour/18 ~ day 12 – Wine Harvest

Memories Tour Interrupted

3 Days in the Loire Valley: Château Clos Lucé and Leonardo Da Vinci

On a three-day visit to the Loire Valley, my friend Nancy McGee and I made up our itinerary along the way. Nancy, destination guide “extraodinare” of Absolutely Southern France, was on vacation. That meant no set schedule, just a home base near Amboise. 

After seeing Château Amboise which is in the middle of the town of Amboise, Nancy and I walked a short distance to Château Clos Lucé. The attraction of the small chateau was , to us, that it was where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last years.

Château Clos Lucé in Amboise

Château Clos Lucé in Amboise

 

The chateau was built in the fifteenth century by Hugues d’Amboise. It was acquired by Charles VIII for his wife, Anne de Bretagne. Later, it was used by Francis I who invited da Vinci to stay and work there. Da Vinci remained at the chateau until his death in May 1519. It is now a museum dedicated to the memory and inventions of the master artist and inventor.

 

Workshop of Leonardo da Vinci at Chateau Clos Luce

Workshop of Leonardo da Vinci at Chateau Clos Luce

 

An Experiment. Please comment!

In the spirit of the visit to Clos Lucé, I’d like to experiment with a different format for sharing photos with you. I really need your feedback, please. There are many pictures I’d like to show you from the Loire Valley trip. However, I don’t want to make my posts too difficult for you to view. So … how do you like to help me decide.

For example, do you like slideshows that you can view from YouTube? (The quality is not as good as the slideshow through WordPress) … or do you prefer the imbedded slideshow that has better quality but requires more time to download? Other options are below.

Let’s give this a try and please, please, let me hear from you on your preference:

  • Slideshows from Youtube
  • Imbedded slideshow?
  • Photos (6-10) per blog post? (as usual)
  • Photos and slideshow?

Here’s Château Clos Lucé … enjoy!

 

(Imbedded slideshow)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Youtube slideshow

 

 

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 3 Days in the Loire Valley: Wine Caves and Parties

Staying in a small village near Amboise turned out to be one of the best choices along this visit to the Loire Valley. Fireplace, neighborhood parties and wine caves.

Arriving at our “château” after a day of castles and wine in Amboise, our host popped in to invite us to a neighborhood party–a birthday celebration. Perhaps it was because of the guest we picked up in town.

Where's Brad Pitt
He was quite a hit with the ladies.. and a big help, too.

Where's Brad Pitt
I guess he’s used to partying in France and I’m certain he was ready to have some fun. He really got into helping out in the kitchen, especially getting prepared for the barbecue.

Where's Brad Pitt

Party! party! 

Next day all the party-animals met at the nearby wine cave, Caves du Pigeonnier,  for a tour and degustion (tasting)

Amboise France

Amboise France

My friend Nancy McGee of Absolutely Southern France, who has taken many tours in France with her travel customers,  says this was the “best guided wine tour ever.”

Amboise France

Guestault Caves of the Loire Valley

 

With Nancy performing as interpreter the few English speakers,  we all learned so much about wine production in the Loire, especially about the 300 year old cave that’s been owned by the same family for six generations.

Guestault Caves of the Loire Valley

Nancy McGee of Absolutely Southern France

Guestault Caves of the Loire Valley

The ancient cave has been enlarged in recent years yet wine producing techniques from its beginning are still prominent, including the “vat” in the cave wall that was used in the process before the introduction of barrels.

Guestault Caves of the Loire Valley

Guestault Caves of the Loire Valley

Bubbling juices and skins being prepared to use as “coloring”

Guestault Caves of the Loire Valley

Wooden crate contraption that rotates to turn bottled wine during the production process

 

Under the wine appellation (AOC) Montlouis, the production at Guestault is predominately white wines from chinon grapes, including sparkling wines.
Guestault Caves of the Loire Valley

As ancient as the caves and some of the original processing methods, the grape production at Guestault is thoroughly modern. I turned on the video recorder for this explanation, interpreted onsite by Nancy.

Next stop, Château Clos Lucé

 

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Sea Urchins: Facts, Fiction and How To Eat Them!

Ever eaten a sea urchin? Find out why the French love them, fresh from the Mediterrean.

One of my favorite people in France is Nancy McGee, contributor to the Barefoot Blogger’s  Absolutely Southern French Food and Etiquette page. She really knows about the south of France, it’s foods, its places and its customs. Proprietor of the now infamous Absolutely Southern France tour company in Sete, Nancy’s company won Best Holiday Tours 2016 in Luxury Travel Guide and … drumroll …. Nancy is Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year for her region of France for 2015.  Thanks to Nancy we’ve enjoyed reading about two of France’s favorite foods — cheese and oysters. Now it’s time to learn about sea urchins. Yes, those spiny creatures that, if you’re not careful,  you step on while wading in the Mediterranean.

Would you believe they’re edible? Read on and find out more.

SEA URCHINS  : A REVELATION

My story – Nancy McGee

What is it that makes one fall in love with the south of France? Is it the lifestyle, climate, food, wine…? For me it was all of the above – plus my future husband, a young medical student. Thirty years ago, rather than return home to Canada after a one-year work assignment, I readily exchanged the arctic climate of Quebec for endless days of sunshine. My husband and I spent our summers in his hometown of Ajaccio on the island of Corsica. I have many happy memories of those leisurely days spent on the beach, swimming, sunbathing and also discovering many culinary gems of this Mediterranean island. However, it wasn’t until much later that I learned to appreciate the most highly prized of all: the sea urchin.

Sea urchin from Sete

In Corsica, where this bounty from the sea is almost revered, summer beach parties which centred around the thorny creatures are a popular tradition. The young men dive for the urchins and return to the beach bearing sacks full of ‘treasure’. Beach towels are spread out, bottles of wine, opened – and the sea urchins are slit and eaten on the spot. Fresh from Canada, I was quite taken aback by the “primitive” nature of this event. As far as I was concerned, sea urchins were something to be cursed, especially if one had the bad luck to step on one! But to eat them raw and live? It was simply out of the question!

I graciously refused the kind offers to join the feast but have since made up for lost time!

Originally called ‘sea hedgehog’ for obvious reasons, the sea urchin has been a much maligned creature along with its cousins like the sea cucumber, sea star and sand dollar. The very name suggests ragged, scavenging youngsters out of the pages of Charles Dickens. (And indeed the species – echinoidea – does scavenge the ocean floor.) In 19th century Newfoundland they were disdainfully referred to as ‘whore’s eggs’, yet they were considered delicacies in the days of Pompeii. The philosopher Aristotle studied them long and hard. In his book The History of Animals he described their ‘mouth’ (center) as a horn lantern, known as ‘Aristotle’s Lantern“. It is capable of drilling through rocks!

The “revelation” for me came around five years ago when a friend in the colourful Mediterranean port of Sète, which is now my home, invited me to a New Year’s Eve party. As the guests sipped aperitifs, a huge seafood platter was presented and we were asked to serve ourselves. I must admit I don’t know if it was the excitement of the New Year or a little too much bubbly, but I spontaneously took hold of a sea urchin, scooped out the small bright orange sections – and cautiously took a bite.

Never could I have imagined such a delicious and delicate sweetness. I felt like a princess (the word primitive was instantly erased from my vocabulary) as I explored the shell in search of a small bite of this newly discovered treasure. It took me back to the beach parties and the young men offering unlimited quantities of sea urchins. It made me realize how much I had missed and how silly I had been to refuse to taste this fabulous sea food.

 

A FESTIVAL TO CELEBRATE THE SEA URCHIN

The south of France offers a variety of festivals, mainly during the summer, which draw hoards of visitors and tourists to the Mediterranean coast.

urchin 3

 

One of my favorites is the Sea Urchin Festival in March , or ‘oursinade’ which is unique to the town of Sete. Over 20,000 sea urchins are served in the main square over the weekend. Just 5 euros buys a glass of local Picpoul white wine and a dish of raw sea urchins, which are generally accompanied with slices of fresh baguettes and butter.
The urchins are hand picked by divers in the neighboring lagoon by the Mediterranean and sold in the local markets for approximately a mere 4 euros per dozen.
At first glance, admittedly, sea urchins do not appear particularly appealing, but they are comparable to oysters for delivering a fresh, straight-from-the-sea flavour. Often described as tasting like the sea without being fishy, they have a “creamy ocean, slightly sweet flavour”. Rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, they are a good source of protein. (Also rumoured to be an aphrodisiac, but that’s another story…)
Please bear in mind if you plan on travelling to the Mediterranean coast that sea urchins are not available in the summer (from May to October). It is the reproduction season with laws instated to protect the species.

Recipes

Scrambled eggs with sea urchin
Ingredients
8 eggs, 12 sea urchins, 2 spoons of butter, salt and pepper
Open sea urchins and retrieve the « coral » ,
Beat eggs , add salt and pepper.

In a double boiler, first melt t 1 teaspoon? spoon of butter. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can easily place a light, non-plastic bowl set over a pot of lightly steaming boiling/simmering? water
Add eggs and stir with wooden spoon until the eggs become creamy
In a saucepan, melt 1 spoon teaspoon? of butter and add the sea urchin coral coral wasn’t explained , heat for 1 minute
Pour over the scrambled eggs and serve

As legend would have it...

  • Fossil sea urchins were thought to be stones that had fallen from the sky during a storm.
  • The druids thought that sea urchins were eggs of snakes.
  • Sea urchins “Eurhodia”, found in abundance, are called ” lucky stones ” in Jamaica.

And the facts…

  • The sea urchin first appeared five-million years ago and more than 200 species of sea urchin populate waters around the world.
  • In the south of England, fossil sea urchins are placed on the racks of the dairies to prevent milk from turning.
  • They are believed to be strong aphrodisiacs.
  • Sea urchins prefer rocks to the ocean floor because their tentacles can cling to rocks.
  • Sea urchins do not have a brain.

urchin 2

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