48 Hours in Bordeaux: Hotel Le Saint-James
We have the same number of hours in the day as Beyoncé. How is that even possible? Not a single day goes by without us wishing we had just one more hour to send those last few emails, call our parents (because we’ve been promising for about six weeks now), and maybe even sit down with a glass of red wine. Seriously, where is Beyoncé getting this time from?
The answer, perhaps, is in Bordeaux. We spent a whirlwind 48 hours in the wine country and threw ourselves in to more activities, learned more new skills and soaked up more French culture – and vin rouge – than Beyoncé could ever dream of.
Arriving at Hotel Le Saint-James before 11am, the YCB team was greeted with champagne, fresh orange juice and mini muffins. This, apparently, was breakfast. We were sold. Hearts beating a little too fast already – could have been the champagne, could have been all the alluring French accents – we were shown to our rooms.
Casually calling them ‘rooms’ feels like an understatement, a deplorable injustice: these were luxurious, light, bright, blissful havens. Fluffy robes sat neatly folded, imploring us to snuggle up in them. Coffee machines called out to us; let me make you the silkiest of espressos, they said. And yet despite the robes and the coffee, oh, and more champagne, it was the view that really bewitched us. Sitting on our beds we were surrounded on three sides by sparkling glass, granting us breathtaking panoramic views of Bordeaux.
Shaking ourselves from this strange vista-induced spell, we made our way across the courtyard to meet one of the hotel’s chefs. This poor chef was going to have to try her best to make us learn how to cook Michelin-star food at the hotel’s cookery school Côté Cours. All starting tentatively, not wanting to embarrass ourselves in front of a cook with such impressive credentials, it quickly became competitive.
After unspoken games of how finely can you chop your onions? and sly glances at each others frying pans we eventually served up a phenomenal (if we do say so ourselves) three course meal of scallops with cream of cauliflower, chicken fillet stuffed with truffle served with salsify risotto, and the most rich yet light chocolate dessert ever to grace the world with its presence. And so yes, after a nervous start we all now absolutely consider ourselves to be Michelin star chefs and will continue to employ our new skills back at home. Take that Beyoncé.
The next morning as we watched the sun rise over the sleepy lights of Bordeaux we were blissfully unaware that we were about to embark upon an epic adventure – the memories of which our stomachs and our livers will remember for years to come. We were taken on a tour around Chateau Du Ferrand, an estate with 32 hectares of vines. We spent most of the tour with our jaws attractively on the floor as we learned about the painstaking process every single bottle of red wine goes through, and were even shown the tree the bottle corks are cut from!
We were then asked to put our new knowledge to the ultimate test: given four light courses our competitive spirit was reignited as we had to correctly match each course with a vintage red. Interestingly, we all agreed that it made us really taste food in a way we never had before; we had to really pay attention to all the new flavours and textures.
Fit to burst we walked off our lunch with a leisurely stroll around Bordeaux, an absolutely beautiful city with an abundance of boutique shops and cafes for coffee stops. Returning to the hotel we discovered that our stomachs weren’t off the hook for the day – they had an eight course meal, each served with a different wine, to get through yet.
This meal was a marathon. A heroic marathon that began at 7 pm and continued in to the early hours of the morning. Determined not to be defeated we all savoured every single mouthful of each course at the hotel’s gastronomic restaurant, and by the end had learnt many new things… some of us learnt that we actually quite like the taste of pigeon, some of us learnt it’s ok not to finish the whole glass of wine when there’s still another 729 to come, and we all learnt that there’s no such thing as too much cheese.
Love the sound of all the things we crammed in to 48 hours in Bordeaux? (You should, it was amazing!) Treat your partner to a romantic getaway this Valentine’s Day: Le Saint-James hotel is offering a very special one night Valentine’s package, which includes champagne, chocolates and rose petals in the room on arrival, a Valentine’s dinner in the Michelin starred restaurant, a cookery lesson, and a delicious breakfast which can be served in the bedroom on request, all for just 470 Euros per person. Prepare to be swept off your feet!