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Traveling Around France

Let me tell you, the last 2 weeks of September were glorious.  My husband and I ate and drank our way through France and it was magnificent.  I have so much to share with you that I don’t even know where to begin.  But I know it will take several blog posts to transfer the information.  Do I go by food, by wine, by itinerary… I don’t know what makes the most sense.  So, please bear with me as I attempt to share my experiences. I think we will start with an overview and dive into specifics another time.

We started in Paris and did a few touristy things. We climbed 300 spiral steps to the top of Sacre Coeur, strolled through the palace and gardens of Versailles and viewed masterpieces at the Musée d’Orsay. In a little over three days we walked almost 30 miles. And we didn’t even come close to seeing all of Versailles (or Paris)!

 

From Paris we took the train to Beaune (pronounced “bone”) in the heart of the Burgundy wine region. Everything was beautiful and delicious. This is where Escargot and Boeuf Bourguignon were created! It is a food and wine haven so of course we took a cooking class and a wine tour/class. Both were spectacular. And let me tell you… there is A LOT to learn about this wine region. I learned so much and yet I still feel like I don’t know anything at all.  Just enough to confuse me.

 

The highlight of Beaune: my college roommate who now lives in Switzerland came to meet us for dinner on Saturday night.  The same college roommate with whom I spent 6 weeks in France in the summer of 1997.  A 19 year reunion; it was awesome!img_2275

After four wonderful days in Beaune we headed to Avignon in the Provence region. It was a lovely town with so much history; nine popes lived there spanning about a century (I think).  But even more fascinating, right next to Avignon is the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine region… so we had to tour that, obviously. The wine was phenomenal.  We still didn’t have a car to tour nearby towns so 2 days in Avignon was perfect for us.

 

Finally, we rented a car and headed to Aix-en-Provence.  And the “Aix” is pronounced “Ex.”  So, as I was terrified of driving in Europe we headed straight from one “big” city to the next without any detours. And once we got to our beautiful hotel in Aix we were content to pretty much just stay put. One exception- we took a ½ day tour to Cassis. And because we had no idea what to expect, this may have been the highlight of our trip. It is stunning! And on our last full day in France I got to walk around the Market for a few hours. I was in heaven. I bought a few things for a picnic (which was delicious) and bought a ridiculous amount of Herbes de Provence to bring home.

 

 

It was a fabulous trip and we were so lucky to be able to take it. Thank you to everyone who helped make it possible!

As I have still not organized all my thoughts, I decided I would pass along something easy and delicious. I didn’t learn how to make them in France nor did I eat them in France. But, I do have 300 grams of Herbes de Provence from France so I might as well start using them. I had to buy it in grams but it is like over 3 cups if I had to guess… maybe closer to 4. Anyway, here is a delicious side to compliment a variety of main dishes. I will be using regular Russet/Baking Potatoes but the method will work for any type of potato.

Herb Roasted Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 medium Potatoes, scrubbed with skin left on
1 T Olive Oil
½ tsp Kosher Salt
1/8 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Herbes de Provence

Preheat the oven to 425
Cut potatoes into equal sized pieces.
Spread potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Drizzle with oil then sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs. Using your clean hands, toss everything until evenly coated.

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Ready to go in the oven

Bake in the oven until crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, tossing halfway through.
Timing will depend on the size of your potatoes. Mine were about 1 – 1 ½” chunks and took around 25 minutes total.

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Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside

These are great served warm and still delicious at room temperature.  And you can buy Herbes de Provence at your local grocery store… you don’t have to go to France to get them.  But, if you have the chance I would highly recommend it.  Enjoy!

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