6/18/2018

Gorbio: A Perched Medieval Village in the Alpes-Maritimes


Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
                                                         Gorbio, France                                         Photo Credits: Jacques Dufrenoy

Gorbio, France is a perched medieval village, high-up above Menton, in the southeastern corner of the Côte d’Azur. This picturesque village seems to be perched atop a quiet little secret, hence it seems to be forgotten by tourists. As with other historic perched villages, Gorbio has an impressive view, 354 meters high above the Mediterranean Sea. 

On arriving in Gorbio you will see the main square, the Place de la République. It’s a traditional French village square, where people congregate to chat and exchange pleasantries over a café; this is a village where everyone knows everyone else. In this square, history is rich and runs deep, here we find a celebrated 300-year-old elm tree. It was planted in 1713, to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, returning the County of Nice back to the sovereignty of the Duke of Savoy.

With only 300 residents in the village of Gorbio, and 1000 total in the commune, it is an astonishing community of religious fêtes, festivals and celebrations. One is the Procession aux Limaces (Procession of Slugs), where after the olive harvest, snail shells are filled with olive oil and lit to illuminate the entire village on this night of festivities. It is where villagers celebrate the abundant olive harvest and await the processional through the village, led by the local Priest, all-the-while giving thanks to the Virgin Mary.

Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina

Streets of Gorbio, France                          Photo  Credits: J. Christina


Gorbio tugs at your heart strings with its stunning views and medieval vaulted passageways that seem to lure you forward, for a closer peek inside. It’s a little storybook village with a beautiful history, lovely people, and the most charming maze of cobblestone lanes, and houses built from iconic stone, all festooned with flowers. Strolling the steep, winding stone paths of Gorbio is an authentic experience. It’s a lived-in village, seemingly unchanged from ancient times, where centuries old buildings and antiquities cascade throughout, i.e., the exotic fountain in the Place de la Mairie, built in 1882, and the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs de la Sainte Croix, built in 1445.

The village has a Michelin rated restaurant, Le Beau Séjour, owned by the Bracco family. The owners have captured the essence of French décor, in a canvas of French grey and linen white, creating a romantic ambience. The food is homemade with locally sourced ingredients, all composed from traditional recipes, such as rabbit, lamb and fish… along with the not-to-be missed apricot pie!

Truth is, there are many scattered hidden treasures along the Cote d’Azur: secluded hideaways, ancient ruins, and villages like Gorbio steeped in history. Discovering places serendipitously is the pleasure of travel.

Transportation: Zest Bus Line:   Bus 7 from Menton – shuttle bus- 22-25 passenger
Restaurant: Le Beau Séjour (cash only-March–October lunch only//July-August lunch & dinner-*closed every Wednesday)

About J. Christina:
J. Christina is founder at Scribbles and Smiles, travel writer, and hobbyist photographer. Writing a personal travel blog from the Midwest. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world - sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role of  editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

J. Christina’s blogging journey began before the word blog was trending, writing about European travel destinations on share-sites, forums and online journals. After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

You can read their most recent dispatches from aboard an elegant European river ship, sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers and their capital cities. Or, follow them through serendipitous discoveries in the Cote d’Azur, where J. Christina captures the essence of a perched medieval village.

J. Christina’s work has been featured on France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and Perfectly Provence.

5/30/2018

Treasures of the French Riviera: Musée National Marc Chagall

Treasure of the French Riviera: Musée National Marc Chagall by J. Christina appeared on the digital magazine Perfectly Provence on May 30, 2018.   Perfectly Provence is a digital lifestyle and Mediterranean magazine for locals and visitors - focused exclusively on the South of France.  Please enjoy our post below. 

Situated on the south east coast of the French Riviera, Nice, France hardly needs an introduction as one of the most beautiful and sophisticated regions in the world. Nice is the second-largest city in the Provence-Alpes Cote d’Azur - often referred to as the Queen of the French Riviera. Whether you call it the Côte d’Azur or the French Riviera, this is a prime location for discovering historical  art and cultural highlights.

Artistic treasures and gems are bountiful in Nice. Many discreetly tucked away in peaceful gardens, up craggy hillsides, and even atop ancient ruins. Others scattered along the Mediterranean seascape. One remarkable treasure, perched high above Nice is Cimiez Hill.  From this extraordinary vantage point, Nice offers cityscape views where the azure Mediterranean Sea beckons you to explore more of the jewels in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur province.
Scribbles and Smiles J. Christina
At the foot of Cimiez Hill is the Musée National Marc Chagall, opening its doors to honor the talents and philanthropic generosity of this great Franco-Russian artist.  It is an extraordinary art museum that is the benefactor of the largest public collection of Chagall’s works, including seventeen masterpieces entitled, The Biblical Message.  In 1966, Marc Chagall originally donated the Biblical Message series to the French State, first being exhibited at the Louvre in Paris, and eventually making its permanent home in the upper-class neighborhood on Cimiez Hill in Nice.

With the collaboration of Marc Chagall, the museum’s architectural design includes a large airy, polygon shaped room, which exhibits the first of twelve biblical message interpretations – all edifying the first two books of the Old Testament: Genesis and Exodus.  The remaining five wall-size paintings – The Song of Songs explodes in fiery reds, telling the story of Solomon. All seventeen masterpieces render powerful spiritual and religious stories all told through Marc Chagall’s artistic color, passion, and whimsical symbols.  
Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
Abraham and the Three Angels

Follow link for additional Biblical Message images
The Musée Marc Chagall is a must see with its peaceful and light filled environment, and enriching art, all defined by his own imaginative style. The Musée contains decades of Chagall’s artistic career as he continued to work up to his death in March 28, 1985, in nearby Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France where he is buried.
The French Riviera is just waiting for you to amble through its winding hillsides, discover small villages, and climb its hilltops to discover a treasure-trove of artistic treasures.

Museum Access Details


Musée National Marc Chagall (website)
36 Avenue Dr Ménard,
06000 Nice, France
Tel: +33 (0)4 93 53 87 20
Transportation: Bus #15 or #22/ 1.50€
Entrance fee: 10€
Closed Tuesdays

About J. Christina:

J. Christina is founder at Scribbles and Smiles, travel writer, and hobbyist photographer. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world - sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role as editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

Follow Scribbles and Smiles recent posts on Access Riviera,  Perfectly Provence  France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and  often from onboard an elegant European river ship - sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers. Or, follow them on their journeys via Instagram.


5/09/2018

Bourg: Perched Atop A Quiet Secret in Dordogne

Bourg, France, is a hidden gem on the right bank of the Dordogne River, nestled in the heart of the wine appellation of Côtes de Bourg, in southwest France. In the 16th century Bourg was its own fortified community that secured a prominent position at the confluences of the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers.  In medieval times this tiny hamlet was invaded by Visigoths, ravaged by the Normans, fortified by the English, and hosted more royalty than anyone ever expected, having been visited by four kings. 
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina
Chateau de Citadelle of Bourg @ image T. Sonnontine

Nowadays, Bourg sits discreetly among three prominent UNESCO Heritage sites:  Blaye, Saint Émilion and Bordeaux. This tiny ancient village once named Bourg-sur-Gironde, built in Roman times, tells a tumultuous 2000-year-old history. 

4/25/2018

Is European river cruising really all that?

Having traveled on the great rivers of Europe for more than decade, there are few journeys more endearing than slowly plying Europe’s waterways, on-board a specialty designed river ship.  Sailing these great rivers of Europe, including the delightful Danube, the mighty Rhine, river Rhône, and the romantic Seine; is simply a one-of-a-kind curated experience.
Scribbles and Smiles JChristina
Douro River Valley
Embarking on a river cruise allows travelers to step-off into the heart of great historical cities steeped in tradition, with grace and anticipation.   Intrepid travelers dream of being up-close and personal with iconic landmarks, flower-laced villages, and picturesque hamlets, all lying within steps of their boutique river ship.  With river cruising you will experience vistas and landmarks that some only glimpse on postcards.  So simply put – yes, European river cruising is all that!

Scribbles and Smiles JChristina
Seine River - Paris, France
Whether it’s traveling untethered along Bordeaux’s alluring Garonne and Dordogne rivers, or the mirrored waters of Portugal’s Douro river - all are a feast for the senses.   Being immersed in local culture, discovering UNESCO World Heritages Sites, or indulging in the sip, sample, and stroll among some of the world’s greatest vineyards will make unforgettable memories.   There’s no better way to authentically connect with the region and discover its hidden nuances.
Scribbles and Smiles JChristina
Dordogne river valley
Many river cruises are inclusive, running the gamut from romantic and stunning, to awe-inspiring; others are more humbling.  One of the great benefits of joining a European river cruise is the variety of itineraries available for river cruisers.  How about a cooking lesson in a romantic chateau, biking through the leafy vineyards of Médoc wine region, or scampering around the ancient ruins of a citadel?  Or, delve into history with a private lunch destination in the once war-torn Croatia, all accompanied with remembrances of the strife and struggles during the Homeland Wars? There are many heart-warming, educational, and memorable journeys to be discovered while cruising on Europe’s diverse waterways.

One thing is for sure---you will create, capture, and record countless shareable moments to last a lifetime – right from the luxury of your floating boutique European river ship.



About J. Christina:
J. Christina is founder at Scribbles and Smiles, travel writer, and hobbyist photographer. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world - sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role as  editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

Follow Scribbles and Smiles recent posts on Access Riviera,  Perfectly Provence  France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and  often from onboard an elegant European river ship - sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers. Or, follow them on their journeys via Instagram.








4/07/2018

Saint-Émilion: Lost-in-Time Storied Village

Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
Saint-Émilion is a charming medieval village located in the heart of the famous Bordeaux wine area.
Saint-Émilion is a honey-colored wine village in the Gironde department in southwest France, where it gracefully adorns a rocky outcrop overlooking the Dordogne river valley.  In 1999, Saint-Émilion was awarded the title Cultural Landscape by UNESCO; protecting its ancient  architecture, landscape, and historic vineyards that still produce world famous wines today.  This quaint wine village will pull at your heart strings with its photogenic beauty, glistening limestone facades, and  vine-laced vineyards.
The most practical piece of advice I can give you for visiting Saint-Émilion is to wear sturdy walking shoes. You will thank me later, as you navigate up and down those captivating winding lanes, all inlaid with centuries-old shiny and slick ballast-cobblestones, beckoning you forward - to explore this remarkably rich village.
Saint-Émilion is a medieval, fairytale-esque town with a maze of curlicue stone streets filled with charming storefronts, enchanting squares, and flower-laden terraces just waiting for you to enjoy the splendor. The village of Saint-Émilion grew famous and wealthy in the eighth century through its wine trade and prominence on the route to Santiago de Compostela. Visiting Saint-Émilion is so much more than wine; nowadays, you can spend time just strolling the crooked and charming streets without ever visiting a wine château (but wouldn't that be a shame).

Scribbles and Smiles by JChristina
Saint Émilion Monolithic Church
Postcard perfect Saint-Émilion is more than just renowned wines - it will steal your heart with its landscape, history, and serene lifestyle. In this blonde-colored wine village, just east of Bordeaux, perhaps the most extraordinary site is what lies below ground, the Monolithic Church from the twelfth century.  1300 years ago, a Breton monk named Émilion, came to this ancient town, then named Ascumbas, to escape religious persecution.  According to legend he has an intriguing and curious story - Émilion lived and existed in this dark and damp  subterranean cavern-church, where it is said he performed miracles.  In this ancient story, Émilion was believed to have carved a limestone seat that aided women in fertility; and during this period more miracles appeared among his faithful followers.  Many believed the underground spring-fed pool of water used for baptism also cured blindness. 
The most dramatic sight from afar is a raising steeple from the corner of the Les Cordeliers: a fifteenth century bell tower, soaring up 68-meters high above Saint-Émilion. Where climbing nearly 200 steps upward situates you atop a glazed tile rooftop, with a majestic view across the valley of lush vineyards and châteaux.   
This lost-in-time storied town, Saint-Émilion, weaves an incredible visual story that goes with its legendary origins through Romanesque architecture, religious sites and cultural indulgences. Simply put, it’s a one-of-a-kind destination. This beautiful town with its scarred ramparts bears witness to battles, while weaving an amazing memoir. Truth is, there are many such treasures in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of southwest France all waiting to be explored.

Saint-Émilion Tourism
Saint-Émilion is a quick car, train or bus ride from Bordeaux and the town is easily explored on foot, by petit tourist train, or even via tuk-tuk ride.


About J. Christina:
J. Christina is founder at Scribbles and Smiles, travel writer, and hobbyist photographer. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world - sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role as  editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

Follow Scribbles and Smiles recent posts on Access Riviera,  Perfectly Provence  France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and  often from onboard an elegant European river ship - sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers. Or, follow them on their journeys via Instagram.






11/15/2017

Sainte-Agnès: A Hidden Treasure in the Alpes-Maritimes, France

Sainte-Agnès, France is a perched medieval village, 10 kilometers inland from Menton, in the southeastern corner of the Cote d’Azur.  This rocky outcrop gracefully dangles at an altitude of 800 meters above the sea. Since 1997, this medieval village has been classified as one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.  What’s more, this quaint village also boasts the title of “highest coastal village in Europe. 
Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
Sainte-Agnès gracefully dangling
Reaching Sainte-Agnès is an exhilarating feat, driving up the steeply winding, precarious mountain road, where at every turn, you are welcomed with incredible views of this Provençal hilltop village. Once you’ve mastered this twisty road, reaching this jagged peak you’ll find this enchanting village offers tourists several atelier shops, arched pathways, and cobblestone streets beckoning to be explored. The village has a few terraced restaurants and vantage points, to enjoy the incredible view that spans east and west along the French Riviera coastline below and across the azure sea. 
Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
Luminary shop along the ancient cobblestone walkway           
In this off-the-beaten path medieval village, there is an unexpected cosmopolitan surprise; we discovered de l'Espace Culture à Ste. Agnes - a cultural center building. The center exhibits significant historical works of archaeology, history, heritage, and artistic expression by local artisans. Here we are welcomed with a sneak preview, a gallery of images, by well-known local street photographers: Jilly Bennett and Philippe Chiodi.  Even in this small French commune, you will find incredible artistic talent flowing, all the while being recognized, honored, and celebrated.
Many scenic hilltop villages are centered around ancient churches, castle ruins, religious pilgrimages, and legends. Here we discovered a unique site, the Baroque Church of Notre Dame des Neiges (Our Lady of the Snow), dating from 1535, with its amazing bell tower and rooftops covered in glazed-enamel tiles. According to legend, this church was built in commemoration to Virgin Mary’s miracle of snowfall in August, 352AD, in Rome.  For those making the rugged pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, in northwestern Spain, the trail leads through Sainte-Agnès, and is easily recognizable with the metaphorical scalloped shell pointing the way.
As you weave your way along the rough, stone streets, and through the primitive passageways, heading south, you will find Fort Sainte-Agnès Museum. An original and fully equipped military bunker fortification, built in the 1930’s, it was part of the Maginot defense system, intended to deter an invasion by the Germans.
Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
Maginot defense system                    
Climbing even higher above the village, you will discover 9th century castle ruins and gardens, perfect for a day of exploring (and photo ops!). At this vantage point, you can also enjoy a panorama view of the Cote d’Azur, and see the defensive position that Sainte-Agnès occupied during World War II.
The Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, is one of the most diverse and beautiful areas in France. Like Sainte-Agnès, there are several ancient perched villages, seemingly forgotten, lost in time, just waiting for an intrepid traveler to discover its history.

Tourism: Côte d’Azur
Transportation: Zest Bus #10 from Menton– 22-25 passengers shuttle bus

J. Christina is the founder at Scribbles and Smiles, travel writer, and hobbyist photographer. Writing a personal travel blog from the Midwest. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie.
Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world; sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role of editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

J. Christina’s blogging journey began before the word blog was trending, writing about European travel destinations on share-sites, forums and online journals. After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

You can read their most recent dispatches from aboard an elegant European river ship, sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers and their capital cities. Or, follow them through serendipitous discoveries in the Cote d’Azur, where J. Christina captures the essence of a perched medieval village.

J. Christina’s work has been featured on France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and Perfectly Provence.






11/14/2017

Visit Menton A Hidden Seaside Treasure on the French Riviera






Menton is a commune in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France.  It’s the last major town before leaving the French Riviera, wedged in-between the French-Italian border. It’s a place where you can tickle the turquoise sea, or enjoy the snow-capped mountains in the distance. Whether you call it the Côte d’Azur or the French Riviera, this is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and sophisticated regions in the world.
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina
Some call this place “the Pearl of France”. It’s a storybook setting, a hidden seaside treasure, that is just far enough away from the playground of the rich and famous - to enjoy this Franco-Italian Riviera destination. 

Menton boasts 316 days of endless sunshine, “but who’s counting?” all producing a microclimate favorable for growing the town’s trademark aromatic and sweet Menton lemons. It’s no wonder, this is where the Fête du citron is held every February, where Menton welcomes thousands for a grand festival of fireworks, performances and parades in celebration.

There’s nothing like sitting on the Promenade du Soleil watching the sparkling sea in the intense sunshine, cascading shadows off the ochre and pink facades. Or, simply watching a magnificent sinking orange sunset in the distance. If the breathtaking landscape wasn’t enough, there’s so much history and culture to explore in this enchanting seascape, with its confluence of French and Italian cultures.
A must see is The Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel, from 1619, a minor basilica since 1999. Lying at its feet is the Grimaldi coat of arms, all inlaid with white and grey pebbles from Menton’s beaches.
Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
And, for a final hurrah, climb the majestic multi-level yellow stone staircase, up and past St. Michael, for a magnificent view over Menton-with storybook pastel houses, and the shimmering Mediterranean Sea.
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina
For more astonishing Baroque architecture, stop in at the Chapel of the Conception, that once belonged to the Order of the White Penitent. While down by the sea, explore the Musée Jean Cocteau, exhibiting the world’s largest collection of works, by the most multifaceted artist of the 20th century. Squeezed between St. Michael and the seafront, shop the historic 1898, Belle Époque covered Marché; that sells local and specialty items of the region.
Discover the renowned gardens, some public, others private, where the Alpes-Maritimes climate generates a variety of exotic flora, not grown in other regions of Europe. Enjoy the historic gardens, e.g. the Jardin de La Serre Madone, with plants from exotic lands, or the Jardins du Palais Carnolès, containing the largest citrus collection in Europe. Or, saunter and explore the many gardens that are hidden gems, growing betwixt and between the sloping terraces of citrus groves.

In the heart of quaint Menton, pause for a moment in the Place aux Herbes, where Menton commemorates American and Canadian forces for liberating the town from German occupation in 1944, during World War II.  Taking nearly ten years of perseverance and dedication - Menton rebuilt and repaired the damage in this idyllic seaside town, for all to enjoy.

The commune of Menton is just waiting for you to amble through the winding side-streets, duck into passageways, climb the curlicue hillsides, and discover hidden treasures that will leave an indelible impression on your heart.

Transportation: bus #100-1.50€.
Train: Nice to Menton
Menton Tourism

About J. Christina:
J. Christina is the founder, writer and hobbyist photographer behind  Scribbles and Smiles. Writing a personal travel blog from the Midwest. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world - sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role of editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

J. Christina’s blogging journey began before the word blog was trending, writing about European travel destinations on share-sites, forums and online journals. After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

You can read their most recent dispatches from aboard an elegant European river ship, sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers and their capital cities. Or, follow them through serendipitous discoveries in the Cote d’Azur, where J. Christina captures the essence of a perched medieval village.

J. Christina’s work has been featured on France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and Perfectly Provence.

11/01/2017

Parisian Life: Hidden Treasures in the City of Light

It’s certainly no secret that Mr. Christie and I enjoy Paris. We especially like going in autumn to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage, strolling the less crowded streets, and stopping to warm ourselves in a cozy sidewalk café.  Our year was filled with intrepid travel,  enjoying destinations in five countries - many storybook perfect; but we always enjoy circling back to Paris and sharing our memorable moments. 
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina

We have made several trips to Paris to revisit and reacquaint ourselves with the city over the years. We enjoy ambling through side streets, ducking in passageways, stopping in a quiet spot to sit, reflect, and admire the beauty of the City of Light, all the while attempting to discover more of its glory. We are the type of visitor who needs a bit more; we aim to look beyond the iconic Eiffel Tower to find an intimate setting that will leave an indelible impression on our hearts. 

Not long ago, at our pied-à-terre in the 8th arrondissement on Rue de Laborde, near Boulevard Haussmann, is where we enjoyed our hidden treasure.  Discreetly tucked away on a quiet street in a quaint garden courtyard – situated just far enough away from tourist-filled streets and crowds. Inside, there was the most inviting bank of nearly floor-to-ceiling windows – with perfect south-facing views of rooftops gardens and Parisian streetscapes. After a busy day of exploring, on foot and metro,  we would enjoy a glass of wine and watch the golden glow of lights flickering on in the neighboring buildings, just as the sun was setting. We felt like we were getting a peek into real Parisian life.
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina

Truth is, there are many scattered hidden treasures in the 8th arrondissement and throughout Paris. They range from little niches of solitude, serene retreats, or off-the-beaten track cafés. It sometimes happens serendipitously – moments that take you by complete surprise – moments that simply take your breath away.

It was a typical Paris day for us as we wandered through the streets and alleyways with no map or matter in mind as to what would be next on the itinerary. Suddenly we found ourselves at 46 Boulevard Malesherbes, site of the grand Église Saint-Augustin de Paris (Church of St. Augustine).
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina
This grand Haussmann-designed Catholic Church is perched on a quiet secret in Paris; hence it seems to be forgotten by the crowds.

The Église Saint-Augustin Catholic Church can be seen all the way from the Arc de Triomphe– down Avenue de Friedland– and seems to call out like a beacon; “Come on in and savor the moment – enjoy my majestic surroundings.” The red steel spire with its golden cross sits atop the slate blue steel dome – soaring 100m high in the sky. Inside, this Byzantine and Romanesque designed church gives an intimate feel. Neighborhood families quietly come and go, kneeling, praying, lighting candles and elderly women faithfully praying the rosary. They have found their peace and comfort in this local church.

For us, it was drifting along softly and quietly, down the aisles, all the while admiring the stained glass, religious icons, and soaring iron angels…when suddenly, we glanced into the chapel and realize we were about to witness a beautiful, and private baptism! What a glorious moment.

The petit bébé was delicately dressed in his long, white, flowing christening gown, tied with satin ribbons. The priest held him high for everyone to see, all the while offering blessings and prayers to the child and his family in affirmation. Family members snapped photos and basked in the moment.  We glimpsed – and even felt a part of – this family’s private ceremony on this special day.

To us, that is precisely what makes Paris so incredibly special: stumbling upon serendipitous moments that you’ll always treasure. I don’t think I will ever forget how truly magical that day was, and we feel thankful for the memory.

About J. Christina:
J. Christina is the author and hobbyist photographer behind  Scribbles and Smiles, writing a personal travel blog from the Midwest. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world - sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role of in-house editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

J. Christina’s blogging journey began before the word blog was trending, writing about European travel destinations on share-sites, forums and online journals. After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

You can read their most recent dispatches from aboard an elegant European river ship, sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers and their capital cities. Or, follow them through serendipitous discoveries in the Cote d’Azur, where J. Christina captures the essence of a perched medieval village.

J. Christina’s work has been featured on France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and Perfectly Provence.

10/20/2017

Château Royal de Cazeneuve: Sauternes vineyards

Here in North America we are settling back into our daily routine after a summer of travel around Europe.  We are watching autumn unfurl in fiery red and gold foliage - with glorious sunsets floating in brilliant pink and orange.  It's easy to move on with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but today we're having a throw-back moment - visiting the Aquitaine - one of the most diverse regions of France. Come on along and enjoy food and wine with us - at this storybook castle.

The alluring Gironde countryside is a wine lover’s paradise and every traveler’s dream. This appellation is a feast for the senses: panoramic views, storybook castles, chateau-dotted hillsides, and winding rivers, all nestled among flourishing vineyards, in the heart of the Aquitaine. Here we discover the time-worn Cazeneuve Castle, an ancestral residence for the House of Albret-in the small commune of Préchac, France.
JChristina ScribblesandSmiles
Located between the wine regions of Bassin d’Arcachon and the Sauternes vineyards, is the historical Château Royal De Cazeneuve; a family jewel of the Duke of Albret. First built in the eleventh century and it became the residence of Henry IV and  Queen Margo, and where history still lives on. Today this fortified castle remains a family legacy – cascading down through descendants, of the ducal family de Sabran-Pontevés.
Chateau Cazeneuve majestically overlooks the Gorges du Ciron, surrounded by a moat, and defended by two rectangular towers. The chateau was awarded the benchmark of Tourism in Aquitaine, the prestigious two-star Michelin Green status - and the bestowed honor of Historical Monument.  Here individual, private, and group tours are received; along with bespoke gala dinners, weddings and seminars, all by appointment only.

After a recent tour of the castle-fortress, medieval cellars, troglodyte caves, and royal apartments, we entered the castles large vaulted reception room. Inside the walls are honeyed limestone, warmed by a medieval fireplace, accented with red velvet chairs, and luminous silver candlesticks.  Our tables are bejeweled, a feast for the eyes, with sparkling stemware and silver for pairing Bordeaux’s sweet wines, Sauternes.  Sauternes is a French sweet wine taking its name from the Sauternes region and Graves area, here in the Gironde department.  

JChristina ScribblesandSmiles

Historical Royal Castle of Cazeneuve, in partnership with La Maison du Vigneron de Sauternes, reserved an artisanal wine-pairing luncheon fit for a King and Queen, that we enjoyed. Pairing Reserve Classique, Sauternes - with ribbon of smoked salmon with creamy horseradish emulsion, along with Classified Growth of Sauternes, to complement cilantro caramelized hen supreme, 

JChristina ScribblesandSmiles

and a finish of Peach Melba on a wine barrel staved with crunchy praline – all crisp and balanced with Reserve Old Vine, Sauternes.


This gilded sweet wine comes from a mix of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have ripened until aromatic and sweet by the Botrytis cinerea, or more commonly called, noble rot.  Noble rot is a welcomed fungus by winemakers, enhanced by moist conditions from the maritime climate of the Aquitaine, accompanied by low-lying misty fog, -from the Ciron and Garonne rivers and specific terroir-viticulture. With this magical combination, grapes shrivel, resembling wrinkled raisins, resulting in fine and concentrated sweet wines of the Sauternes region, a wine not to be missed.

The Aquitaine capital city of Bordeaux is among the most diverse regions of France. This protected region offers unparalleled scenery, historic sites, chateaux, and classified terroir, all waiting for travelers and wine connoisseurs from around the world to enjoy.

Bordeaux Tourism


About J. Christina:
J. Christina is the author and hobbyist photographer behind  Scribbles and Smiles, writing a personal travel blog from the Midwest. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world; sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role of in-house editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

J. Christina’s blogging journey began before the word blog was trending, writing about European travel destinations on share-sites, forums and online journals. After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

You can read their most recent dispatches from aboard an elegant European river ship, sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers and their capital cities. Or, follow them through serendipitous discoveries in the Cote d’Azur, where J. Christina captures the essence of a perched medieval village.

J. Christina’s work has been featured on France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and Perfectly Provence.