Chamonix, Geneva, Bordeaux, and a return to Paris.
I've combine my last 3 cities for several reasons but mostly because they were my 3 favorite places this trip.
Chamonix is a small ski resort city in the French Alps. I had never before seen the mountains and it was an experience I won't soon forget. It was absolutely stunning. I spent 3 days here and did pretty much nothing but walk around the city and admire the scenery. I love the beach but the mountains are truly majestic. It was an experience I want to repeat over and over again. One of the coolest things I did while there was take the train up the mountain to the glacier valley. The view of the glacier and the mountains from that altitude were a sight I was not ready for. The pictures simply can't fully capture the beauty or experience.
Geneva, Switzerland was taken as a day trip out of Chamonix. The city was very modern situated on a beautiful crystal clear lake. My tour guide told us it takes around 11 years for 1 particle of water to cross the lake. The stillness of the water is what allowed for the clearity. I took a chocolate tasting tour while in Geneva. I had never thought swiss chocolate was the best in the word but after that tour I am convinced. I never knew chocolate was so complex. This tour was the turning point in my culinary experience this trip. We were asked to savor and truly experience each bite of chocolate allowing the complexity of the flavors to truly shine through. This way of eating and tasting foods and wine would be a recurring theme in the remainder of my time in France.
Bordeaux was the last city I visited before my return to Paris. I chose Bordeaux because of my love for Bordeaux wine. As is fitting, my time there consisted of a wine tour and tasting. We visited 2 wineries and a wine merchant. I thought I knew a good amount about wine but I was very wrong. We learned how wine was produced, the different production methods and how they affected the taste, aging processes, and property tasting techniques. It was again stressed that we were to savor the flavors, colors, and aromas of the wine. Nothing was simple about tasting this drink and it was apparent how seriously the french took the wine drinking experience.
Upon my return to Paris I embarked on a "secret food tour." Our Guide PJ took us chocolatier, to bakery, butchery, to fromagerie teaching us the correct way to shop in Paris. We were not allowed to buy anything in any store that the store was not famous for. For example our first stop was to a chocolatier, we bought chocolate. This store however was not known for its macarons therefore we were not to by them until we went to the macaron store. Eventually we collected every item needed for out meal and made our way to our dinner room. PJ had studied for years learning everything about food and was extremely knowledgeable about everything we had to eat or drink. It again was not simply time to eat but to experience the food with every sense.
If I learned anything on this trip it was to enjoy each moment. Life, especially food and wine, is not simply to eat or drink and move on, but to fully experience.
I'll end with a quote. "Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I've seen." -Benjamin Disraeli