La Corrèze: for chilling out

local strawberries brive la gaillard market

 

The Relaxed Side of France

If your list of holiday destination priorities are food, relaxing and a hint of luxury not too far from home then the Corrèze region of France is there waving it’s arms around at ‘cha! Last month I compiled a pretty hefty guide for fun and adventurous things to do in la Corrèze including paragliding, staying in a treehouse and discovering what is basically a film set for Jurassic World. Let’s just say that there’s lots to do to keep you on your toes!

But after all this activity you’re going to be more than ready to discover the other delights, namely amazing food and wine. Here’s my list of amazing places and tastes to chill out in Corrèze.

fresh radishes brive la gaillard market

 

SHOP

Brive Food Market

Once you’ve had a good wander around the beautiful principle town of Brive (see me dressed up like a French girl there!) head straight to the market for lunch and to fill up your bags on local delicacies. We had a great simple lunch at Bistrot Brassens which serves the most massive steak my eyes ever have seen! Finish up with a cherry clafoutis. Don’t forget to spit out the stones!

Now to hit the market. Stock up on fresh fruit and veg, cheese, meats, plants, nuts, sweets and cheese. Did I mention cheese? Don’t miss the long shaped strawberries either, they’re a local delicacy and get their own party – a strawberry festival every summer!

goats cheese brive la gaillard market

vin paillee and mustard in brive la gaillard market

fresh garlic french market brive

cheese stall brive la gaillard market

chips salad and tomatos lunch bistrot brassens brive la gaillard market

traditional cherry clafoutis desert bistrot brassens brive la gaillard market

 

DISCOVER

Uzerche

Research La Corrèze online and you’ll likely get a list of beautiful villages to discover. Uzerche is one such place worth a gander around. Sink into a slice of dozy French life and meander around the old houses, towers and vaulted passageways to see why it’s named ‘the pearl of the Limousin district.’

I got up early and had a walk around on my own in the morning sun. There’s nothing quite like snooping around no-one’s watching! Scroll down to see where to stay in this pretty place.

morning view over uzerche correze france

la palette art gallery uzerche correze france

beautiful church view with roses

view over the town from hotel joyet de maubec uzerche correze france

 

EAT AND STAY

Hôtel Joyet de Maubec

Make Uzerche your stop-over town and stay at the relatively new Hôtel Joyet de Maubec, a beautifully restored boutique hotel and former boarding school with character and elegance (note the delicious smell of lilies everywhere you go!) If you want a touch of luxury then head here, if only to see those views over the valley of the Vézère river!

If you can’t stay, do at least make a stop at its restaurant, La Treille Muscate for a fine dining menu that changes weekly according to seasonal produce and the perfect wine pairings.

fine dining hotel Joyet de Maubec in correze amuse bouche starter

beautiful renovated traditional hotel joyet de maubec uzerche correze france

hotel joyet de maubec uzerche correze france
pretty village scallop house uzerche correze france

breakfast at hotel joyet de maubec uzerche correze france

breakfast at hotel joyet de maubec uzerche correze france

 

DISCOVER

Collonges-la-Rouge

As a blogger, I love a beautiful village with winding streets, who doesn’t?! Gorgeous villages don’t come much better than Collonges-La-Rouge, named one of the most beautiful villages in France, it’s a definite stop off worth looking around.

Why so red? Well, I’m going to whip out my geography for you again folks! The houses lie on a region of clay soil high in iron which came into contact with oxygen. The more the iron elements rusted, the deeper red colour. Hey, I never thought I’d ever want a rusty house!

Be sure to spot the building with the mermaid in the wall at the village museum. Snoop around the hat shop down the road, check out the holes in the walls of the market square where sticks held prized local wine and see the village oven where villagers made bread. Mainly though, take beautiful instagrams!

pink flowers collonges-la-rouge beautiful village town in correze france
little cottage collonges-la-rouge beautiful village town in correze france

hyacinth flowers in collonges-la-rouge beautiful village town in correze france
palm tree in collonges-la-rouge beautiful village town in correze france

sweetcorn drying in collonges-la-rouge beautiful village town in correze france
beams in walls collonges-la-rouge beautiful village town in correze france

gardens collonges-la-rouge beautiful village town in correze france
turrets and mansard roofs collonges-la-rouge beautiful village town in correze france

 

TASTE

Le Vin Paillé

The beady eyed of you may have noticed the beautiful cerise coloured wine bottles in one of my photos in the Brive market and then the white version in the background of our lunch. What you might realise is that the white labeled bottle with the sweet fruity liquor was pretty much a mainstay of our trip, popping at every meal and… breakfast?

Yep, on the second day of our trip, we were tasting it at 10am. All in the name of research of course, after all, it’s not every day that you get to sample wine straight from the hands of the producer. So when Jean Mage, a small-unit Vin Paillé producer invited us along to see the vineyards, vats and explain the process, all concept of time-appropriateness went out the window.

For the vino-heads out there, what makes this wine unique is that the grapes are picked and partially dried traditionally on straw (the French word is ‘paille’.) The sweetness of the grape is concentrated and when pressed produces that delicious flavour. Choose any bottle with the label and it will have been produced traditionally by one of around 20 local farmers like Jean.

vineyard for vin paille in france

wine tasting vin paille in correze vineyard

vineyard award medals for wine making in france

red poppies in francefrench donkey in france

 

Like the look of La Corrèze? Discover the wild side!

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Vive Brive!

french life girl about town blogger outfit

brive town square correze france

blue white and red outfit

beautiful brive buildings palm trees france

bright red leather satchel bag

red vespa scooter

wavy ombre hair breton stripe t-shirt

brive architecture la correze visit france

french girl sitting on steps

blue bicycle wheel with leather basket traditional french

 

Blue, White and Red!

ShinyThoughts is going French today and just in time to celebrate Bastille Day on 14th! I’m half French so dressing up stereotypically as a little girl in my blues, whites and reds doesn’t feel quite so gimmicky! I wore this back when I was visiting Brive-la-Gaillarde in the Corrèze region of France, a market town with character, great food and a historic and literary reputation. I did actually fit in fairly well, as Brive was gearing itself up for the big rugby match of the year. There were flags flying all around the town stating ‘Vive Brive!’ and packed out cafes made the whole place feel buzzing.

It’s the biggest town in the region and sits right near the airport so if you’re looking for a safe bet area to stay in, this is it. Between 21st July and 2nd August, Brive will be grooving along to the sounds of Vanessa Paradis and other stars of the region on a make-shift beach music festival in Brive. There’s also loads of live music events, with tunes spilling from the cafes throughout the summer months so there really is a reason to say ‘Vive Brive!’

I’ll be showing you the throngs of the lively market in my next post but if you’re intrigued by what the region has to offer, take a look at my guide to La Corrèze for the adventurous!

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What I Wore in Brive:

Top – Joules / Skirt – Fashion Union (similar) / Trainers – Converse / Bag – Brit-Stitch / Socks – ASOS (similar) / Scarf – ASOS (similar) / Glasses – Max & Co. / Tote bag – Alphabet bags

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france inspired outfit neckerchief neck tie and pleated skirt

sporty tennis skirt and converse trainers

brive architecture la correze visit france

french girl outfit

walking in brive french town

 

5 Things to do in Brive:

1 – Visit the peculiar Chez Francis cafe. Ogle the amazing cartoons and words scribbled on the family run restaurant walls by famous French writers and journos past and present.

2 – Wander the little streets and pop into Mémé Gâteaux, the cutest children’s’ shop with buy-me stationery.

3 – Visit the Brive book fair on the first weekend in November for a celebration of the biggest names in literature.

4 – Find out how to make local delicacies at the Denoix Master Distiller and the Lamy Chocolate Factory.

5 – Just out of town are the Jardins de Colette, a contemporary flower park representing the regions of France where the author lived. Check out the butterfly shaped maze!

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market baskets for sale

converse trainers and colourful market bags

school girl style back to school outfit in france

La Corrèze: Travel ideas for the Adventurous!

paragliding in the dordogne valley

 

 The wild side of France

As I mentioned in my last post, La Corrèze region of France is an idyllic green destination whether you’re looking to chill and take in the beautiful scenery or if you’re looking for a little bit of wilderness. Here are a few things I got up to that unleashed my adventurous side!

hetre sous le charme treehouse cabin in the woods

 

STAY:

In a Tree House!

We stayed in three different places on our Corrèze trip but nothing came anywhere as close to cool than this treehouse cabin experience. I could write a whole post on this but in short, Hetre Sous Le Charme is an eco tourism project which is the brianchild of two amazing young French girls. I secretly want to run away and live with them because I’ve never seen two people so happy! The girls welcome you at their office drive you to one of 5 cabins on stilts in the woods…

 

Hetre sous le charme eco tourisme in france cabin in the woods

hetre sous le charme treehouse cabin in the woods

Hetre sous le charme eco tourisme in france cabin in the woods

Hetre sous le charme eco tourisme in france cabin in the woods

 

All the cabins are so protected from trees that they’re each incredibly private and secluded. Everything inside the treehouse has been built from scratch and considered for its environmental impact which is why you can only use the lights after 8pm, use a gas heater for warmth and you do your thing in a sawdust toilet. There’s really nothing better than this to get you in touch with nature. Sit out on your balcony and experience the vastness of the valley below you and watch the birds of prey circle above. That weird noise? That’s nature mate. Scream if you like, it’s pretty liberating!

I slept in a princess-like bed and awoke early and excited for the first meal of the day: the much hyped ‘basket breakfast’! Take a look over the edge of your balcony from 8 am and you’ll spot your grub hooked on the end of a pulley rope. Wind it up and enjoy freshly baked muffins and crispy baguette. Actual heaven!

Stay from 135 euro per night. You will need your own car.

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breakfast basket in the woods at HHetre sous le charme

breakfast basket in the woods at HHetre sous le charme

 

TRY:

Rowing a Gabaro Down the Dordogne

When I first heard I was going back to the Dordogne river, years worth of summer holiday memories came rushing back. My favourites involved kayaking for hours down the beautiful river and spending meals overlooking the estuaries. What can I say, I just loved rowing ok!

I couldn’t wait to get my oars back in the water but rather than a canoe, my travel buddies and I were faced with a Gabaro. This boat is small version of the massive barges that strong men rowed down (and up!) the river in, delivering timber to Bordeaux for wine barrels back in the day.

My muscles were treated to a well earned workout but it wasn’t just the size of the boat that made things more challenging, try rowing through strips of rapids! If you’re looking for a bit of mild exhilaration, this is for you. I couldn’t stop laughing! Take a look at me having a go and the pretty village we chilled out in afterwards.

Row your own boat at various schools or take a Gabare trip from 8 euros per person.

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traditional gabaro boat on the Dordogne river

river view in argentat

traditional gabaro boat on the Dordogne river

 

 

WALK:

Down the Dordogne Valley

The Corrèze region is famed for its countryside and conservation. Join one of the waking tours that will take you up and down the valley to explore the various hillsides. On our walk we were taken down to a secret garden, an old stepped allotment used to farm fruit and vegetables by the local peasant population years ago. You can even see the remains of their tiny stone one-room settlements that used to house around 10 people at a time!

Feel the strange change in temperature as you make your way down. A micro-climate of warm air gets trapped in the valley making it unusually adept for cultivation. Weird!

Walking tours by locals in various locations.Visit the tourist offices for details

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view from a derelict window in france over dordogne valley

picnic in the woods traditional french food la correze arbour

walks in correze with the Association la dordogne de villages en barrages

 

EAT:

A Picnic Amongst the Trees

After a brisk walk up and down the valley, it’s time to fill up. On the regions’ delicacies that is. Wine, cheese, pâté, soufflé and duck are all just about carry-able so pack them in your car and then set out a nice spread. Don’t hold back on the courses, you’re in France after all!

Pick up your supplies from the local farmers markets.

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picnic table in the woods traditional french food la correze

picnic in the woods traditional french food la correze wine

picnic in the woods traditional french food la correze duck and foie gras salad

picnic in the woods traditional french food la correze cheese

picnic in the woods traditional french food la correze cherry flan

 

DARE:

To Paraglide!

Corrèze is the place to fly. Yep, just book your slot, get driven up to the highest hill in the region, get strapped in and off you fly! 5 minutes later you’re at the bottom wanting to do it all over again. Sign me up!

Of course sign up I did, except our flight was unfairly cancelled last minute due to wind speeds being too high. Gutted! Our would-have-been instructor didn’t let no wind stop him from at least showing us the kit though and kindly unrolled the ‘planche’ and started kicking around in the gusts. Next time I 100% want to get my feet off the ground!

Book with the paragliding school online. Flight from 60 euros.

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pointing on a map

paragliding in the dordogne valley

 

DISCOVER:

A Century-Old Quarry

Ok so this may not be every twenty-something’s idea of a holiday destination but stick with me. No matter what your interests, you’ll no doubt be in awe at Les Pans de Travassac, the beautiful slate quarry which from above looks like a tiger has scratched slices out of the ground.

The incredible pans of ‘waste rock’ have remained standing since they were first excavated around at the beginning of the 20th century. Years worth of mining the lucrative strips of slate, has made way for pathways allowing you to wind your way around as if in a film set. Look at the rock face carefully to see the dynamite blasts carved in the rock and imagine how the pans have moved vertically since starting life as sedimentary rock. Geography geeks, this one goes out to you.

Once you’ve sufficiently imagined you’re in Jurassic World, watch the artisans splice slabs of rock down into beautifully shaped tiles in the traditional fashion. After two years of solid work by 4 men, the company re-roofed the whole village of the Mont Saint Michel. Now that’s a lot of tiles. Have a go at cutting one yourself and you’ll see that trad techniques are harder than they look.

Tours are 1.5 hours long from 8 euros per person between May and August. Check the website for opening times.

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les pans de travassac slate quarry in le correze

les pans de travassac slate quarry in le correze

les pans de travassac slate quarry in le correze

how to cut slate les pans de travassac slate quarry in le correze

les pans de travassac slate quarry in le correze

 

SEE:

The Waterfalls in Spring

The best way to discover the Corrèze region is by car and on most days you’ll find yourself winding along narrow lanes scooting from village to village. Be sure to add Gimel-Les-Cascades to one of your routes, parking up in the town and then walking down to the entrance to the waterfall park.

Taking a walking trail down the valley, you’ll see 3 amazing waterfalls of different kinds including the ‘horses’ tail and the ‘inferno’ at the end. Your first point of view though is arguably the most awesome – the Big Jump. See it in Spring and you’ll be treated to the gushiest of all the falls!

 

Open every day from March to November. Check website for latest prices. Bring a jacket!

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cascades de gimel waterfall in la correze france

gimel les cascades village illustrated map

cascades de gimel waterfall in la correze france

cascades de gimel waterfall in la correze france

 

 Thanks so much to the Corrèze Tourist Board for inviting me to re-live my school holidays!

Visit their brilliant Corrèze Tourisme website for all other details.

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Argentat

top of the world! climbing up rock dordogne valley view

converse trainers in a row boat

view from cliffs in the dordogne valley over la correze

boohoo printed flares next crochet vest outfit

beautiful french village of argentat correze france

rustic houses with roses argentat correze france

sitting on a step in la correze france rustic printed trousers outfit

pretty cafes in argentat correze france

 

Down the Dordogne

I can’t tell you how happy I was to be back in a boat, cruising past French villages and paddling frantically through rapids in the Dordogne river. Follow that with a nice Perrier and grenadine cordial in Argentat overlooking said river and… aaah, that’s my cup of ‘thé.’

My memories of holidays in the centre of France are very dear to me and so when I heard I’d been invited to discover another department in the region, I couldn’t wait to pull my lifejacket on. I’m going to be sharing two posts very soon on my experience in the Corrèze region. One for if you’re a bit of an adventurer like me, and one if you only want to sign up for the chilled stuff. Whether you choose tracks, or relax, you’ll loose yourself here!

boohoo printed flares accessorize bon voyage luggage novelty bag

flowers in a pram argentat correze france and traditional postbox

boohoo printed flares next crochet vest outfit outfit details hippie

pretty blue houses in argentat correze france

hippie seventies style jewellery details

 

Hippy Vibes

I’m not normally one for a brown colour palette, but being surrounded by nature and beautiful stone houses called for a wardrobe reassessment! I guess you could say that the Correze region brought out the hippy in me. My crochet vest never looked so at home than amongst wicker chairs and rocky outcrops!

Turns out, these flares are super comfy and actually surprisingly practical for climbing! (Highly useful life info there.) As for the bag, I brought it along for a bit of fun. Afterall, I could hardly leave it at home when I was being wished a ‘bon voyage’. NB: You may be more sensible opting for a snazzy waterproof rucksack!

Back soon for lots more on my French adventure!

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ducks in argentat correze france

beautiful flower village to visit argentat correze france

argentat correze france gallerie d'art sign

black retro car in argentat correze france

accessorize novelty mini suitcase travel stickers bag

boohoo printed flares soft trench coat outfit

What I Wore in Argentat:

Flares – Boohoo / Top – Next / Coat – Mint Velvet  (Similar) / Bag – Accessorize / Trainers – Converse / Bracelets – Vintage / Necklace and earrings – Accessorize / Watch – Swatch (similar)

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Marseille Musings

view from the mucem over marseille old town and harbour

view down on the sea and muCem museum in marseille

through the patterned mucem walls in marseille

The Mediterranean Coast

I’m dreaming of being back in Marseille where the sun is hot, there’s sorbet for sale by the beach and the evenings end in glasses of rose overlooking the Med. This was the last day I spent in sunny Provence where I had been staying with the wonderful Celine and boy, did we make the most of it! Whereas the previous days where spent exploring pretty towns and ambling around her hometown, today was spent in the heart of Marseille where the newly built MuCem stands sturdily besides pools of bright blue water.

Constructed to showcase Mediterranean civilisations through history (right in time for the year that celebrates Marseille as Europes’ Capital of Culture) the MuCem takes you on a educational visual tour, depicting all the key battles and events in time that shape what we know as the Mediterranean life today. After saturating my brain, Celine and I took a stroll along the bridges around the buildings’ incredible net-like exterior, ‘ooh’ing and ‘aah’ing at the view.

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An afternoon drive took us to the most easterly end of the city where we chilled with smoothies and gasped at the ‘paysages’ from an empty big wheel on the beach. A short walk away is Le Parc Borély, one of Marseilles few but none the less beautiful parks with palm trees, a river you can boat on and a magical, artistic children’s garden. In the evening we did what the locals do on balmy summer Wednesdays; sit, sip rose and people watch as the sun goes down in the bar beneath the professional swimmers club at La Paillotte des Catalans. Parfait, merci Celine!

sorbet and smoothies by the sea

lucy shinythoughts in marseille

marseille big fairground wheel in the sun

celine bon baisers d'allieurs in mirror sunglasses in the sun

beach view over marseille visit provence

pink houses on the hills in marseille provence

palm print playsuit in provence

palm trees in provence

traffic people palm print playsuit summer holiday outfit

mirror sunglasses and palm tree product shot

call it spring flip flops by the water side

 

Playsuit – Traffic People / Cap – ASOS / Earrings – Gogo Philip / Flip flops – Call it Spring /  Sunglasses – H&M

turquoise changing huts by the sea in provence

chin chin! toasting to summer holidays with rose in marseille

coastal view by the sea in marseille

 

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p.s Have you seen my Bloggiversary giveaway in my last post? Enter to win pieces from Lazy Oaf and Mi-Pac!