Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bordeaux - Fete le Chocolat! - Delicious & Fun!

It's that time of year again - Bordeaux Fete le Chocolat!!

This was the 2nd annual event and it was just as fun and interesting as last year! This year it was held at the Jardin Botanique in the Bastide section of Bordeaux.  This free event was again a mixture of Chocolate merchants - expert Chocolatiers - selling their wonderful and decadent creations, demonstrations in Chocolate decorating, Children's workshops, tastings and of course, A Chocolate Sculpture Contest in the theme of Aviation.

Unlike last year where the Sculpture exhibit and the Chocolate merchants were in separate buildings - this year they shared the space inside the exhibition area of the Jardin Botanique and all visitors also got to tour the greenhouse exhibits inside the building.  This exhibit was additionally tailored to understanding how the cocoa bean is grown, harvested & eventually made into chocolate.  This was a fun addition to the festival!
My middle daughter & friend wandering through the greenhouse part of the Jardin Botanique
Nice addition this year - to understand more about chocolate and how it's made!
Enjoying the plants
The creations this year were just as interesting as last year - Very unique and fun!!  Loved the different takes on the theme!
Loved this Hot Air Balloon
Very creative!
Everyone had their own interpretation
This one was definitely colorful and very interesting!
I asked my youngest daughter which one was her favorite - Hands down - she ran over to this one!  I think it's ironic that this young American/French girl liked the one that represented the first transatlantic flight between Paris & New York in 1927!  

The different vendors were excellent about explaining their creations and handed out many samples for visitors to try.  It was also neat to watch the chocolate demonstrations.  There were even workshops for the kids to learn about decorating with chocolate and molding their own creations.  Unfortunately, the slots were all reserved for this particular afternoon, so my kids just enjoyed watching and sampling instead.  I definitely recommend this event for the whole family and if you have kids - go early and sign up - they will have a blast!!
Molding eggs together
Dark chocolate drizzled over strawberries & bananas!  Yummy!
The Chocolate fountain with fruit was a big hit with many visitors.  For 1.50 euros - delicious & inexpensive!! This event was held this whole weekend Thursday through Sunday.  We, unfortunately, went at peak hours on Saturday afternoon - you can see here - there was a line to enter the exhibit.  So I recommend going in the mornings, unless you don't mind waiting.  For us - we waited about 45 minutes to enter the exhibit - but truthfully - we enjoyed every minute of it!!  Even the kids, despite the wait enjoyed all the tastings and the greenhouse exhibit inside!  It seemed like it was so successful this year, that they might need to look for an even bigger location next year! We will definitely be returning  - it was a delightful way to spend a Saturday afternoon!  Thank you - Fete Le Chocolat!!
At Le Jardin Botanique - waiting to enter Fete Le Chocolat!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

La Foire aux Plaisirs - Bordeaux - Place des Quinconces

La Foire aux Plaisirs - Bordeaux

Rides, Games & Fun!

Each year in Bordeaux since 1855, La Foire aux Plaisirs (roughly translates to a City Carnival Fair) arrives twice a year - once in the Fall and again in the Spring and is set up for a month in La Place des Quinconces.  This attraction draws all ages and is full of color, fun, music and of course, the sweets of any fair!  It's no surprise that as soon as my children realize of it's arrival, they beg to go.  We can only hold them off so long!  Like many carnivals and fairs, one can easily drop loads of money on rides and then multiply it by 3 kids! Oh la, la - we could go broke! What's nice about this Fair is that on certain days, rides are half price. 

So this afternoon, on it's last day, we headed to Bordeaux with the girls and their friends and enjoyed the pleasures and the follies of this childhood (& adult) splendor!  It's hard not to have fun here, no matter what age you are.  There are over 150 attractions including rides, games and don't forget the food stands!
My oldest and her friends enjoyed this crazy & colorful ride!
The Place des Quinconces provides such a beautiful contrast to the vibrant colors of the various rides
Spring is definitely in the air!
The Giant Wheel - La Grande Roue
So a little something about me - I do not like heights.  I've never liked open stairwells, leaning over balconies or climbing a tower. My legs get wobbly, I get hot and usually frozen in place! However, today was so beautiful, I decided to be brave and go with my middle daughter and her friend on the Ferris Wheel.  A bit nervous and some sweaty palms, but after the first circle, I calmed down and enjoyed the ride and of course the view!!  I was so glad I did - enjoy the next few photos - a truly unique & different view of Bordeaux!

Liberty "breaking her chains" - Monument des Girondins - Overlooking the city
View of the Chartrons District of Bordeaux
Cathedral Saint Andre
Chartrons, Pont Charbon-Delmas (foreground) & Pont d'Aquitaine (background)
Pont de Pierre built by Napolean - Bordeaux
Bordeaux's newest bridge - Pont Chabon-Delmas - connecting the Bacalan District to the Bastide District
View of Place de La Comedie - in city center
What's a carnival without the sweets? Unlike in the States where fried dough reigns supreme. Here in France, it's the nutella-filled crepes, waffles or beignets (donuts) along with candied apples which are relished by all!
Nutella filled beignets & candied apples
Candied Apples
Nutella on a waffle
Then add whipped cream! - Heavenly!
The very popular - Churros and Chichi-Chichis - great with powdered sugar or filled with nutella!
A few final shots as we say goodbye to the Fair until next Fall.  This truly is a tradition in Bordeaux and it is certainly well attended, enjoyed and talked about! We've been here almost 2.5 years now, and each season, we have made a visit - definitely a highlight for my girls.  If you live here, I'm sure you have gone at least once.  If you are coming to visit or are planning a move to Bordeaux - this event is always lots of fun!  

Au Revior la Foire aux Plaisirs- until we meet again next Fall!  You have certainly been enjoyed by many and I know my children can't wait until your return next season!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesdays - Enjoying Spring!! - Photos from the Medoc!

Next to Chateaux Cissac
              Looking Forward to Portes Ouvertes en Medoc 
April 5th & 6th, 2014
This year 57 passionate vineyard owners open their doors to visitors to discover their vines, their caves,  and their chateux and of course - their wines!!

Here are some photos from last year's Portes-Ouvertes - I can't wait for this year!!  How about you?
Art & Craft display & Chateau Cissac
Just natural - Chateau Cissac
Chateau Chasse Speen

Tasting Room at Chateau Chasse Spleen
Chateau Chasse Spleen

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Blog Anniversary - American Mom in Bordeaux Blog is 2 Years Old!!

Place de La Bourse - Bordeaux
Happy Blog-Anniversary - Two Years!!

Wow - Has it been 2 years already?  2 Years since I started this blog?  The saying goes - Time certain goes by fast when you are having fun!

I was just looking back at a few of my early posts - I really did start this blog to share our new experiences with family & friends back in the States.  A simple way to share my thoughts, ideas and our new adventures.  Additionally, a way to share some of my photography with people. 

As simple and basic- as keeping a journal of sorts. American Mom in Bordeaux has truly grown into something so much more - something bigger than I ever imagined.  At this point the blog as has just gone over 100,000 views.  A number that I truly have a hard time absorbing.  A number that means people have been viewing my various posts and pages over 100,000 times.  I am really touched and honored by everyone who is reading and sharing this blog.  To think at one year ago, as I wrote my one year blog anniversary post - we were at 25,000 views and I was impressed at that number then.  

Weekly, I now receive inquiries about moving abroad, questions about France and the Bordeaux area in general.  These always brighten my day! I have to say I really enjoy these interactions.  It's so fun to connect with other people who have a sense of adventure like myself. Sometimes, I even get to meet some of these people in person. I guess when you are really passionate about where you live and your life - it's just natural to share.  I really do love everyone's questions and inquires!
Bridge in Le Bugue-Dordogne
As most of you know - the blog has it's own facebook page, Twitter account, Google + page, and Pinterest boards.  Not to mention fun photos on Instagram several times a week.  Sometimes it gets hard to balance that fine line between private life and sharing our experiences.  I know it's a hot topic out there - how much do you share? what do you share?  What impressions are you giving?  Yes, so many of these social media platforms give snippets of life and not always the normal, everyday.  Yes, we are a normal family - sibling squabbles, preteen and teenage dramas and days where the whole house seems out of sorts.  I have laundry to do (constantly!), a house to clean and a family to feed, kids to shuttle around to various activities - I share this as I really am just like so many other mothers out there raising their children in this modern world.  I just consider myself lucky right now that we are living in France and I have fallen in love with this area!  
Chateau Pichon-Longuevue - Paulliac

The blog has continued to grow and expand & for that I truly am very grateful.  There has never really been a full plan of where I'm going with with this blog - intuition and what feel right from my heart often leads me.  I connect with other bloggers who are similar to myself - I guest post when asked, if it seems to fit my profile and I'm trying to just be a source here in Bordeaux for English-speaking families.  
La Rochelle

Last year I had several opportunities to guest blog at a couple different sites - These links are to my posts that then take you to the other sites:

Once at Busy as a Bee in Paris -Love the Place you Live - Arcachon

I was also interviewed by  - it Can be read HERE

As a family, we made one of our biggest decision about being expats: We decided to stay in France indefinitely - Check out that post - it's one of my most read and most commented on posts all year (with at this point over 3,300 views) :  HERE
Dune du Pyla - Arcachon
American Mom in Bordeaux was also voted by Circle of Moms website - as one of the Top 25 European Mom blogs for 2013. - HERE & one of the top 100 -Exchange & Experience blogs 2014 - by the IX14 (International Exchange and Experience blogs) -this is a competition sponsored by & Lexiphiles. This competition has been running for the past 6 years.  - HERE
This is me - Jennifer- photo taken by my oldest daughter
Through this blog, I have also connected with other bloggers who are raising bilingual and multilingual children all over the world - raising world citizens who have a multicultural perspective. It's a great network to be a part of and I learned so much from so many other bloggers and also increase my world knowledge and insights.

Through this group, I participated in a great experience of sharing our neighborhoods - HERE.  This was a great opportunity to not only share our town, but to also see how other families live around the world. If you haven't done so already - read my post and then click through and learn about other neighborhoods around the world! It's truly fascinating!
The girls in La Rochelle

My posts in-general cover what life is like living here in France from the American perspective, highlighting family travel experiences, daily life and learning about the French culture.  Through my facebook page, I also share links to expat life in general, information on some French traditions and even some recipes.  This broad set of topics seem to be connecting for people and I look forward to continuing to focus on these areas.  I would also love any suggestions or themes for posts from readers.

I'm still amazed how this blog continues to evolve and grow. The number of views alone in this past year - shows triple the number who read it in year one.   It's one of those things that I really had no idea what direction it would take when I started and even now, I'm still not sure exactly where we are headed - What I do know is that I love sharing our experiences, our trials and tribulations of being an American family in Bordeaux, France.  I hope that some of what I share helps others to understand more of how life in France is different and yet -the same - and it inspires others to enjoy, travel and live life to it's fullest!

Our favorite Chateau in our town.
Grapes ready to harvest - Medoc

Looking forward to seeing where this next year takes American Mom in Bordeaux!!

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