Adventure in the Pyrenees :: Chateau de Gudanes

 

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As you know by now, Frank and I drove to Barcelona from Italy, and we made a one-night stop on our way to Medoc, France through the Pyrenees at Chateau de Gudanes, so I could check it out for a possible Style + Photo Workshop location.

This region of France is known as the Dordogne region. It is located in southwestern France, with its prefecture in Périgueux. It is located in the region of Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees, and is named after the great Dordogne river that runs through it. It roughly corresponds with the ancient county of Périgord. We were unfamiliar with this region of France. We drove through the country of Andorra which was very interesting. It’s a sliver of a country between Spain and France, mainly known for cheap gas, cigarettes, alcoho,l and duty free zone, with unappealing architecture. Incredibly distracting from the beautiful mountains. Needless to say, it was a weird drive.

We pulled up to Chateau de Gudanes which is located just on the other side of Andorra, in a scenic valley with a beautiful view of the Pyrenees mountain range. Karina, the owner, was waiting for us in her car in front. She greeted us with a big smile and looked like she had been working in the Chateau all day…which she had. She apologized for her appearance, and I assured her we were the same having driven all day. Quickly, she brought us up to the front door of the chateau, told us to watch our step as she was laying tile in the massive foyer. Karina was very lovely; she toured us through the chateau, telling us the story of how it took 2 years to buy it from the French government. Two years to reconstruct the inside floors and ceilings, and how she was now restoring the massive 100,000 square foot structure mainly by herself, and with the help of a few artisans in town. Daunting is an understatement, I was more than impressed by her devotion and conviction to this overwhelming project. What a lady! After our tour, we sat around the kitchen table, the warmest room in the place. Karina prepared us local sausage and potatoes, salad from her garden, and strawberry pie, all washed down with local Rose wine. She and her daughter, Jasmine, and her lovely friend visiting from Australia entertained us with stories of the chateau.

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We had a delightful visit. Thank you to Karina, and best of luck with this project! Thank you for having us. xx

Update on the France Style + Photo Workshop: I know many of you emailed me about this workshop when I was here visiting. Here’s the story: Upon our site visit, I decided that the Chateau was in no shape to host a workshop at this point in time. Karina and I will stay in touch. Once there is electricity and proper bathing and sleeping accommodations in place, we will revisit the possibility of using it as a workshop location. The danger of injury is also great. I want to ensure safety and comfort to all or my workshop guests. I will update you once a date has been set with Karina.

 

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Mimi Thorisson’s Manger Workshop

 

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As you read in the last post, Frank and I road tripped to Barcelona from Italy a couple weeks ago. I wanted to take Mimi Thorisson’s Manger Workshop. Quite frankly, I was not sure how this was going to work out since at the time of the workshop, Mimi was 9 months pregnant. But she assured me that most of the time, her children arrived late, so she was pretty sure it would all be fine. And she was right; it was more than fine. Tucked into a little village in Medoc, France, you will find Mimi and her husband, Oddur and their (now) 7 children. It’s a picture perfect home with a picture perfect family living inside. It’s a curated dream; every corner is a photo op, and every person is beautiful. Even more amazing is that Mimi and Oddur are sincere, lovely, sweet, inviting, and engaging people. They are wonderful.

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One thing that no one mentions is that Oddur is a key component in the Manger workshop. He’s the wine guy, and master of ceremonies, and he’s superb at it. They are truly a dream team. Even the children play an integral part in the experience. They are just adorable, personable, and polite.

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Our group was 7 ladies from all over. Mostly Americans with the exception of a lovely lady from Paris (via Spain). Mimi explained that the workshop is rather casual; she likes to make you feel like it’s a group of friends gathering around her kitchen table. She showed us how to make the perfect asparagus souffle, and it was delicious. Oddur popped in checking on the progress of lunch as he and the children set the table. Mimi has one assistant, Allegra. She’s from Italy and was helpful and informative as well.

We spent a beautiful 4 days watching Mimi prepare her French cuisine, her other specialties, and showing us her tricks of the trade. Oddur conducted countless wine tastings and regaled us with stories of the region and local characters. He is super entertaining. It was a delightful experience in a part of France we may never have visited, and I am so happy we did.

As of this post, Mimi and Oddur most likely have welcomed their 7th child. Big Congrats, and I hope to see them again…maybe this time in Italy.

Mimi

xx, Annette

photos via: me

 

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