'Bises' from Bordeaux - A Simple Valentine

Food & Drink

The first Valentine was sent by a priest in 269 AD and simply signed, `Your Valentine`.

The first Valentine was written and sent by a priest on February 14, 269 AD  to a prison guard’s daughter.  It was signed simply, “Your Valentine”.  Saint Valentine wrote this in friendship to thank this young friend for the support she had given him in the days leading to his death.

Against the laws of the Roman emperor Claudius, Saint Valentine had continued to marry soldiers and their sweethearts and was condemned to death for bringing these lovers together.   What could be more romantic if not dramatic than these marriages conducted in secret?  One can only picture such a simple scene by candle light in a small quiet room with a couple in love and a priest.  Perhaps a model, for many reasons, and an alternative to those extravaganza affairs of modern day!

Valentine’s Day had its roots in friendship and love and ever since then people have been getting more and more creative about expressing their feelings to one another.  For some of us, cue STRESS!  What are you going to do this year that will truly top the Valentine’s Day inevitable expectations?  The answer, follow Saint Valentine’s example and keep it simple whether you celebrate with a sweetheart or a friend.

Saint Valentine and Venus

Where to go? What to do? Think “Bises from Bordeaux” or as dear friends often sign notes, “Kisses from Bordeaux”.  Tourists haven’t really discovered Bordeaux yet. That’s the biggest plus and in itself a secret to keep as you whisk your sweetheart or friend off to this surprise destination!  There are so many romantic destinations, restaurants, spas and sites within easy reach of Bordeaux that romantic choices are limitless. Did you know there are more restaurants per capita in the city of Bordeaux than any other city in France -  there are 13 Michelin starred restaurants in and around Bordeaux. Chocolate was practically invented here - the answer to champagne that doesn’t break the bank.  A smile will only spread on your face as you discover hundreds more gastronomic delights outside the city.  If you’re lucky enough to be in the royal city of Bordeaux or nearby here are just 10 suggestions. We could go on and on and on and……. If you’re not here try suggestion number one. 

1. Come to Bordeaux on Saint Valentine’s day or plan a getaway weekend at a B & B, small hotel or spa retreat. There are some great little hotels near Saint Emilion such as Chateau Grace Franc-Dieu. Feel like an emperor? Runaway to Eugenie’s  and Napoleon’s Romantic imperial resort and spa in Biaritz, now the Hotel du Palais!


2. In the city of Bordeaux go for a walk to the location of Place Gallien, a Roman amphitheatre where legions of Romans gathered to hear sweet music and take in a play or two. Take a simple picnic and remember Saint Valentine.  Like the walking theme - visit Biarritz and walk along the ocean front and through the sea garden of towering rocks, a dramatic location for a quiet picnic.

3. Vino theraphy together! Get scrubbed in grape seeds and grape extracts. Luxuriate, cleans and get in the mood for love by spending the afternoon together at a famous wine inspired spa. One of the best is the Grand Barrail Chateau  which offers everything from manicures, to facials, massages and warm baths to help you utterly unwind from stress. What stress? You’ve forgotten the word in this oasis just outside Saint  Emilion. Cheers!

4. Climb the Dune de Pilat near Arcachon and propose to your sweetheart from great heights overlooking one of the most spectacular coast lines in France, the Cote d’Argent. End up for a lakeside romantic dinner at L’Idylle Café Plage.  Their food is delicious and service warm, friendly and dedicated.

5. No Valentines is complete without chocolate - pay homage to your favourite sweet at the Chocolate Museum in Biarritz.  Back in Bordeaux try little chocolate cubes of praline with wine soaked raisons dipped in chocolate from La Maison Darricau.  From the oldest chocolate shop in Bordeaux and in the heart of the city, Cadiot-Badie makes chocolates with passion!  Pluck the best classic cherries dipped in dark chocolate that you can possibly find! 

Cherries from Cadiot-Badie, the oldest and finest chocolate shop in Bordeaux

6. Plan a wine tasting day and drive into the romantic country side of right bank chateaux. Bordering Entre de Mer is Le Chai au Quai,  a great discovery for an overview tasting from several wines of the region. Wind through the UNESCO wine area of Saint Emilion or check out the Secret Garden of Fronsac. Tour up into the left bank to Medoc, Paulliac, and Saint Esteph regions and view some of the Grand Cru Classe chateau like Chateau Margaux or glimpse the Rothchilde empire.

7. Have you tried Crement?  Seek out and drink Crement from the region. Bubbly, crisp, and delicious. It’s the answer to champagne in the Bordeaux regiona at a fraction of Champagne prices. Crement may become one of your best finds as you discover yet another surprise in Bordeaux.

8. Go retro in the iconic symbol of peace and love, the VW camper van!  Beetle about in a vintage VW van complete with surf boards.  Well maybe you’re not brave enough to surf the Cote d Argent in February but you’ll look particularly cool whereever you go. You’ll need at least a long long Valentine weekend for this adventure. Consider it a reconnoiter adventure for a full on holiday later! Discover the romantic beaches as you meander down to Bayonne. Sample Basque cuisine and the gastronomy of Gascony on the way!  Dedicate your taste buds to sample foie  gras at every opportunity in the Xzanado region of this luxurious treat. Belle Vie Campers near Arcachon  will look after you well and help to make this dream come true.

9. Be a Prince with your Princess and stay overnight or for a weekend in the kingdom of chateaux!

10. Come back every Valentine’s Day to Bordeaux and make this romantic region your own tradition! Bises from Bordeaux. XXOO

Wine tasting at Le Chai au Quai