a train through two cities: the culture shock of England.

At the center of every French town lies a carousel, a simple reminder of our childhood: the wind blowing in our face, the hot sun on our neck, and the uncertainty of where we will land. I was sad to leave the countryside, where vines smothered the earth and the people had such pride for their craft. It was another world. The sommeliers world. He was happier here than I had ever seen.


We boarded the train back to Paris, and entered back into reality… sort of. After our country vacation, the marble statues, gold inlays, and water fountains seemed a little high caste. Model-like citizens wandered the streets. On the Eurostar to London, I closed my eyes and drifted off through Northern France.


Arriving in London, the train station was a culture shock. Bright neon lights, circling sushi trains, and craft beer pubs lined the walkways. Western culture invaded my senses. Gone were the dark, muted high class clothes of Paris; bright colors, patterns, and a version of English replaced the soft Latin language of the previous week. Red brick replaced marble as we taxied to Paddington Station.


Family we hadn’t seen in ages met us at the station in Reading, talking as we returned to their spacious flat. Giggles and hugs from boisterous children, followed by ales and meat pies completed our reunion.


The sommelier brought some Pinot Noir from Ladoix (Burgundy, of course!), and the sensual roundness of the wine, coupled with soft tannin and light fruit, not only provided easy drinking, but paired with the Roquefort and beef meat pie beautifully. A match made in heaven.


A short stroll through the gardens, a study of swans, and a tour of a local University enveloped our day. The culture was different, as was the food, but the sentiment was the same: we were home. For now.


Until tomorrow… Cheers.

baguettes, terrine, and turrets: exploring the city of Beaune.

Waking up early, we carefully stepped through the cobblestone streets to the Saturday market in Beaune. The city itself still contains remnants of the original medieval walls that contained it’s residents, with towers overlooking the historic center.


As we made our way to the square, various specialty stores began to emerge: chocolatiers, boulangeries, lingeries, and caves du vin. Through glass windows we could see the delicate layers of sugar, chantilly, and icings that have made France so famous for their desserts.


My mouth already started to water with anticipation of our market findings. As we turned through small adjoining streets, the hum of the townspeople began to grow louder. Tables of duck, pork and beef sausages lined the sidewalks; hard cheeses in red wax and rinds graced stands; bress chickens warmed in rotisseries; and citizens queued to buy produce directly from farmers.


We gorged our souvenir dollars on Dijon mustards and honey, then bought a baguette, some Bourgogne terrine, and walked to the city park.


Feasting on fresh sandwiches and the sweetest strawberries ever tasted, we looked on at vineyards, listened to quacking ducks, and enjoyed the peaceful silence of the country.


Strolling back to the center of the city after the closing of the market, a few Flemish inspired homes appeared on a hidden rue de village. Unique in turrets and bright roofs, these gems brightened the country cream stones that made up local architecture.


In the center of town, lies Hotel-Dieu, an early hospice, the epitomizing reflection of this bright roofed trend. It was built in 1443 by the Duke of Burgundy, and is the city’s largest historical attraction… besides wine, of course.


As the afternoon began to fade away, the sommelier and I met with up and coming local wine makers, tasted Champagne, Bourgogne, Saumer Blanc, and so many others that I lost track quickly. I began to realize that I know absolutely nothing about wine… except what I like to drink…. but I will save that for another post.