Friday, December 19, 2014

Chateauneuf du Pape - New Home of The Pope

WAHHHHHH ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh WEEEEEeeeeeeeEEEEe
screamed the hobbits!!!!

Yeah my dear minion Hobbits....we are at the golden valley of Chateauneuf du Pape, then followed by more waahhh weeeeee, this time by yours truly. We were finally here!!! yeaaaah~~~

JS -_-" shoke his hand in embarrassment.
Our chauffeur was laughing hard and commented that we have a big "family" which he didn't realise until they came popping outta my bag.

the unmistakable iconic medieval ruins on top of the hill of Chateauneuf du Pape or short CDP. Chateauneuf du Pape is located just about 12 km away from Avignon, the medieval city which we were staying put for a few nites. The reason why we headed all the way down to Avignon was bcoz of CDP and little did we know there was so many things to do, see, eat and learn in Avignon itself.

The broken bridge of Avignon alone already impressed me so much and at that juncture, we have yet to step foot into the Palai des Papes - palace for the popes which looked more like a fortress instead of a glorious palace. Definitely nothing like the Vatican at all.

I could stare at this for as long as I want. Now where's our picnic basket, this would be the best moment and place to pour ourselves glasses of CDP wines.

The view from up here is simply magnificent with a view of Mount Ventoux. It was made famous all thanks to cycling...yes cycling...the gruesome scary climb up to this steep windy mountain - Tour de France.

Ventoux means windy and in fact the entire part of Southern France is exposed to the famous Mistral wind, which is also very important in wine making in this part of France. Mistral wind could go up to 320km/ph, I will speak more of Mistral in the future postings - we experienced it on our last day in Marseilles and it was so strong, I clung onto the bus stop bcoz it was the nearest and sturdiest structure available then!!!

dearie Hobbits~~~ u guys ready to go up to the tower?

Later I realised, it's not just a tower, but the remains of Pope John XXII's castle which was built in 1317. It served as a defence castle and also a vacation summer palace for the popes.

This tower was all that remained, the rest of the 14th century buildings were gone due to neglect after the departures of popes when the seat of power has been relocated back to Vatican. Actually it's not even an entire tower, just part of its walls.

JS and his camouflage jacket. He lurved everything camouflage from pencil case to shoes to clothings and bags. I know wat u gonna ask next...and to answer you, nope he doesn't have any boxer shorts in camouflage, prollie that would make a nice secret santa pressie LOL please make sure it's from Prada, my dear brand concious housemate. 

Then we headed for our wine appointments and started with Chateau La Nerthe. The majestic properties that was already there since the 12th century.

Our Chauffeur, Monkey and hostess at Chateau La Nerthe, speaking amicably about the characteristic of their wines, made for the aristocrats and the popes since hundreds of years ago.

Monkey clasped her hands in glee~~~~twirled around in circles, beaming with smiles and danced a little in here.

I want this cellar~~~ I want this I want this I want this

Dear Santa, I've been a really good notti monkey this year, would u just please grant me this?

The Gallet of Chateauneuf du Pape. It plays a very important role in creating the micro climate unique to this terroir. The gallet store heat in the day and release heat at night to assist the ripening of the grapes. It was our first time staring at such rocky soil.

our white haired genial chauffeur climbed faster than we do~~~~
GAH!!! wait for me old man!!! it must be your diet for u to be this healthy
and the answer was more wines from this region of CDP. Wuahahahahaha

this medieval town that produced one of the most outstanding wines from the Rhone valley is actually really small. As we walked, we are back at the broken tower again. Hmm this trip had been about broken bridge and broken tower...what's next?

JS answered me: "Broken bank account...."
Monkey >.< 

I wanna climb this really old wall that's pretty much exposed over the hundreds of years.

JS: "Monkey pls don't damage the wall, it may be some UNESCO site ok? Go and climb some trees."

Bohohohohohoho Monkey was crying, even genial Chauffeur was pacifying me.

"Don't cry my dear child, I'll take you for a excellent lunch down the road."
He was so kind to carry all my stuffs :D
I wanna have a permanent chauffeur now heeeeeeee

then as we descend down for lunch, a green window caught our eyes. Could it be? Nah it can't out kepoh-ness we walked to its door. The main plague confirmed our curiosity.

indeed it's the home of Chateauneud du Pape's legend.....yes he's a legend!!!!

JS ran towards the door and beamed a million dollar smile to me.
"It's him!!! it's him!!! his home!!!!!"
Monkey and hobbits -_-"
yes....there's a plaque there, we all can read don't we?

Mr. Bonneau is very old now, born in 1938, and it's extremely difficult to have an appointment by him, not to mention a visit to his cellar which was just underneath this door, criss crossing underground around this town. Lucky and privileged editors and merchants who've visited his cellar said it's like a catacomb underground stretches miles and miles. One could just get lost down there!!!

JS is so in lurve with Mr. Bonneau that everything is soooo about him.

"If we have a daughter, we should name her Celestins."
after the great wines of Mr. Bonneau.
"What??? I didn't see this coming."

it's only a If, anyway we are not planning to expand our family of hobbits and Monkey and a housemate. It's sufficient. Since we are not gonna have a daughter or a new toy to name her Celestins, we will buy more and enjoy more. 

In conclusion, finally we really do have a broken bank account for Henri Bonneau wines are one of the most top range and most expensive on Planet Earth. Even if u have all the money, to get access and have your hands on these bottles are difficult. See I told ya, money can't buy you everything.

Maybe we should have knocked on the door and asked for internship. 

Then we found Pegau down the street. Memories of our dinner together with the winemaker a few years ago in Malaysia came back. Laurence Pegau wasn't in CDP, she was travelling in Asia for some wine convention.

To read bout our dinner with Madame Laurence Pegau *click here*

It was a very educational trip down to CDP. Would love to come back again for more appointments with wine makers. There's so much more to be learnt. Hence we should really seek some kind of internship here but again I don't think I can work at the vineyard. It's all hardwork out there!!!!

JS said we better off enjoying all the hard labour from the vine to the glass. Let's work hard on wat we are good at instead. That's very true. You think so?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Picnic by Le Rhone, Avignon

In our previous posting, after we have visited and walked on the broken bridge, we decided that it's a must do on the other side of the Rhone River. Picnic~~~~~
I dunno why I lurve picnics since I was a lil gal. Even in school, I have picnics with my friends, we brought our own mats and that beautiful pine tree would be ours. Everyday during recess *I was in the afternoon session*, that spot would be ours with other kids looking in awe. Picnic??? Yeah picnic and I was only 8 then.

Until today, we lurve to incorporate lil picnics whenever we could, esp if good locations were found. So in Avignon, where else could you ask for if not by the Rhone river overlooking the broken bridge?

The water level of the river was pretty high, thanks to the horrendous rain 2 days before. We were lucky to arrive in Avignon with no rain for 5 days. This trip had been reaaaaallllyyy lucky and fulfilling.

and Monkey found the best spot and concurred this is where we gonna lay our bums and munch and nom our food. Our packed McDonald's cardboard food. Yes sometimes we do have McDonald's and the menu is of coz different from those back home in Malaysia.

I lurve this tree too....sturdy and majestic. So at peace :)))))))

JS shook his head in digust coz I was eating cardboard food. McD fries. Hahahaha. I know, life is too short to be waste calories on fast food, but sometimes I do crave for it every now and then.

I'm such a slave to McDonald's that I got this bag as well in Paris. Moschino Runway Capsule collection which was a massive sold out worldwide. Again I was a lucky gal :)))) Nope I didn't get the rest of the items. It's just only this. I'm a very single minded person.

After our high calories lunch, we walked a few kilometres around here, enjoying the breeze and view.

JS was all bundled up, he didn't wanna get sick during vacation. 

The Palais des Papes from the other side of the River, with the attached broken Pont d'Avignon
Haaahhhh wat a beautiful and serene view....wished I could sleep here all afternoon but we gotta burn some calories and strolled around.

Do u have any picnic stories to share?

Aaaaahhh picnics....that brought back memories of our picnic at:
Bordeaux, France *click here to read*
Bali *click*

Phuket *click to read*

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Broken Bridge of Avignon - Pont Saint Benezet

When we arrived at Avignon via the speedy TGV train from Lyon, the weather looked threatening. Anytime the sky will open up and rain all it wants...somehow we didn't let this grey sky deterred us from getting out from out hotel - which was again a really nice boutique hotel. JS was so delighted upon checking in bcoz we have the whole barn to ourselves. Yes we stayed in a barn like hee-haww minus the hay. The property converted the barn into a really nice luxurious suite. Anyway posting on our barn, I mean our hotel another time.

Monkey was so eppy!!! we are here!!! we are here in Avignon in front of Pont d'Avignon and started dancing and singing and circling around.

JS -_-"

Okie I wasn't the only one doin it. Those who grew up with sur le Pont d'Avignon will know this song....u'll notice French/local tourist will do the dance underneath this bridge. By the way it's a 16th century song. I lurve it!!! I know...I have a really old soul inside me.

Recently I heard this song again during my French Language lesson at home. My private tutor made me dance and he sang. LOL and nope I did not but he sang so nicely coz this is how he sang to his child as she sleeps beautifully :))))))) 

JS called it the broken bridge of Avignon~~~~ bcoz seriously from engineering point of view, there's too many flaws in the construction of this bridge that now became a world heritage site. JS concluded that the French can't build bridges as good as the Romans!!!!

Hahahaha and yes I had a good discourse on construction of bridges at this visit. JS was a civil engineer or he called himself the sh*t engineer. From the design and constructions of buildings, bridges, canals, sewage??? hence the term sh*t engineer!!! LOL but his passion is still bridges so this lil Pont d'Avignon makes such an excellent study.

Today there's only 3 arches left. During its glory time, there were 22 arches, spanning not just across the 2 islets/islands but over to the far far land with another castle on top of the hill. Oh well u can't see it from the pic here.

The river was muddy on that day from the rain the nite before.

This bridge was called Pont Saint Benezet officially. Locals and tourists prefer it to be called Pont d'Avignon after that popular song. :)))

built in 1177, yes that's 837 years old. Seriously it isn't that old compared to many other monuments that are still standing tall and majestic in Europe. That's why JS said this bridge has got a lot of flaws.

Don't jump my dear!!! it's just some imperfection on this bridge....errrr yeah I guess there's quite some imperfection there for it to collapsed like this. JS explained it isn't something like imperfection of an art piece. It's major engineering failure. And to further understand this, I took the audio guide with me.

Look at the horror face!!! as I was listening as to why the bridge collapsed.

Hello Butler!!! I am hungry....please fetch some ham sandwich and a bottle of crisp chilled Rhone White wine. I don't mind a picnic here :)))))))

The view is rather beautiful here. We spent almost 1.5 hours on this broken bridge. There's also a small chapel here.

kekekekeke nope I am not gonna jump, the water looked muddy after the heavy rain with a lot of debris floatin around. Afterall this is the main Rhone River so everything from Lake Geneva flows all the way through here into the Mediterranean sea.

JS waited for everyone and every single tourist to be out of sight before snapping this pic. Great job!!

WAHHHHHHH I'm terrified of heights!!!!
Hmmm the opposite side is just the islet, not even the mainland yet. So this broken bridge passed through 2 islets on the Rhone River before reaching the other side. That's about 900m, almost a kilometre long.

Then we decided we should come back for a lil picnic...oh not on the bridge but on the other green green side at the islet itself!!! oh well Avignon isn't that big, we went everywhere on foot for 5 days here.

from the end of the broken bridge u could see the Palais des Papes, the "Vatican of Christianity" for official 6 Popes and 3 unofficial ones, so a total of 9. Heh heh heh aren't u surprised that 6 popes resided here and "ruled" from this Huge fortress in Avignon, South of France.

More info to come in separate posting on Palais des Papes.

hey the rain isn't here yet and here I was walking around with my umbrella~~~~
the sun continued to shine for the rest of the day.

and went around exploring Avignon until the sun said goodbye for the day. It's such a lovely city~~~we didn't expect so much from a small medieval ancient town. We decided to come here all because of winery visit at Chateauneuf-du-Pape. So it's really worth making the trip down here.

Watch this space for more of our lil adventure down south of France!!!!