Last December, Mel, Charlie and I had been in the Languedoc, France to do our blends of the 2013 Tortoise Creek wines and had then gone on to the Southern Rhone to spend some time with our Rhone partner at Le Charmel in the Costieres de Nimes. It gave us a perfect excuse to spend the weekend in Cairanne and eat and drink at one of our favorite wine bars in the world called Le Tourne au Verre (1 33 4 90 30 72 18).

All the vineyard owners go to La Tourne au Verre to eat simple and wonderful food and drown themselves in the amazing value local vinos. We had invited our dearest gastronomic pals Deke and Jilly Arlon (music manager/ publisher and TV writer) who live not far from St. Tropez, to help us out.  Deke is one of the finest home chefs I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  We six magnum pioneers were going to do our level best to deplete their cellar! We were fairly successful! White Chateauneufs, Condrieus, Roussanne/Marsanne magic, St Josephs and Cornas, Syrah/Grenache/Mourvedre blends, Chateauneufs galore.  NO, not one meal but over three glorious days with long walks each day to make room for it all.  Anyway, if any of you are in the Southern Rhone any time soon, this is a MUST visit.

On our way to England to spend Christmas with our British relatives (that’s a whole other story!!) we stopped off for a couple of days Paris. On our first evening, we ambled back in wobbly fashion after dinner at our favorite Paris bistro (Chez Georges) on the Rue de Mail (011 33 1 42 60 07 11) and strolled through the gardens of the Palais Royale and over the Pont de Pietons (footbridge over the Seine to the Left Bank) still weighed down with hundreds of thousands of padlocks left by lovers locked onto its wire balustrades. We arrived at the Rue de Seine and noted it was by blocked by angry, frustrated Parisian motorists.  It was 10.30 at night. We wandered further up the street to the sound of furious horns blaring and found out the reason for the gridlock as the Rue de Seine crossed the Rue de Bac.

Crazy Parisians

A bus had tried to turn left at the Rue de Bac but was blocked by a gazillion dollar Porsche that was parked illegally right on the corner in the middle of the crossroads.  The bus driver was in the street waving his arms and screaming into a mobile ‘phone and ALL the traffic in 4 directions was at a halt and, according to one of the drivers had been there for the last 45 minutes!  The cafes were full and everyone was enjoying the spectacle enormously.  Suddenly, about 15 cars back on the Rue de Seine a Mini Cooper swerved out onto the sidewalk and, blaring its mighty mini horn, it scattered the terrified pedestrians and roared into the crossroad and turned into the Rue de Bac – STILL on the sidewalk.  It then abruptly slammed on its brakes and reversed back beside the bus. The young woman stepped on the gas and drove directly into the side of the Porsche!!!  Reversing again she bumped up onto the sidewalk and sideswiped the planters of a café scattering the screaming patrons and knocked down the first row of tables and broke the canopy posts which flopped onto the rest of the patrons and roared off down the sidewalk of the Rue de Bac to the roars and cheers of all the onlookers  – including the bus driver!!!  Take that, you selfish billionaire  – egalite, not-so-much fraternite to you, moron!  Someone in one of the cafes offered the bus driver a drink which he accepted and everyone clapped and cheered for democracy.  If I’d been the owner of the dented, mashed Porche (probably seeing the whole episode from one of the cafes) I would NOT have shown my face.  He would’ve been lynched!!

Love the French!