For the team at BordeauxLife, one of the joys of living in France is a visit to our local parapharmacie. Think Ikea for the body - you go in looking for a bottle of shampoo and come out with a bag full of things you never knew you needed.
For those new to France - don’t confuse a pharmacy with a parapharmacie. A parapharmacie is not allowed to sell you any medicine - nothing, zip, nada - not even a junior aspirin. For that you will have to visit a dispensing chemist - a pharmacy where staff are fully trained and indeed always our first point of call for all our basic medical requirements.
Parapharmacies stock a wonderful array - often at discount or two-for-one prices - of personal hygiene products; baby care products; cosmetics; dietary supplements; hair care products; vitamins etc. Many of these items have almost cult followings, some are not available outside of France or, if you can find them, you will undoubtedly pay considerably more.
See below for just a small selection of our favourite products
Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse
This oil contains seven plant oils and has wonderful hydrating properties. Free of preservatives and 98% natural - we use it on everything from top to toe!
Caudalie Huile Solaire
Not only does this smell gorgeous, it offers sun protection along with hydrating and anti-ageing properties. It’s a little less greasy than the Nuxe Huile and gives your skin a wonderful post sun-bathing glow.
Ahh - who can live without the marvel that is Biafine. Like many who have made the move to France - this product has been a revelation. We use it for everything from stove top burns to sunburn; soothing rashes; keeping wrinkles at bay (note to self: use more); scarring from minor grazes - the list is endless. No self-respecting French household would be without a tube of this in “that'' kitchen drawer.
Another skin-rescuing tube of dreams. Enriched with plant extracts and Vaseline to soothe dry hands, calm light burns and skin irritations. Many use it as express-plumping lip balm or an overnight mask for dry lips - ideal for those long haul dehydrating flights (if we ever get on a plane again!).
Dry Shampoo Klorane
An absolute essential for the busy working Mum or for a quick spritz before that last minute invitation to an evening out. It’s very gentle and doesn’t leave the residue that some other dry shampoos can - ie you don’t end up looking like you’re heading out to a Halloween party.
La Roche-Posay Disinfectant Hand Gel
If you can get your hands on this (pardon the pun) as it is selling like hotcakes at the moment for obvious reasons, it’s definitely the best antibacterial gel around, soothing and moisturizing. Expensive compared to other products on the market but absolutely worth it.
The list is endless, from Avene to Bioderma, the Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc range (their hand creme is a life saver in the winter) and all Caudalie products - not just well priced and lovely to use but a by-product of the wine industry and local to Bordeaux.
Two of the best Bordeaux city centre parapharmacies (combined with a pharmacy) and both open on Sundays (bonus!) are Pharmacie Principale, 10 rue Saint Catherine and Pharmacy Grand Hommes, 1 Place des Grand Hommes.
What are your must have parapharmacy favourites? We’d love to know.
BordeauxLife has an 80% international client base and first contact is generally via our website or social media. When a potential client gets in touch, by whatever means, we always suggest that it would be good to talk. Email and WhatsApp messenger have their uses but nothing beats a good chat! Thanks to today's technology, it costs almost nothing but it does help us to understand exactly what your expectations are, your likes and dislikes, your timeline and, most importantly, whether we are able to help you with your move.
We are also able to explain in detail how we work together to ensure a successful relocation. This is really important as we do not work in the same way as many other relocation consultancy companies. As the majority of our clients come from overseas, this often means that we are looking for accommodation and schooling in advance of your arrival in France and we know, from experience, that the more we get to know you, the easier it is for us to really personalise your relocation from start to finish.
We own the company and we do the work. We are very personal and passionate about both ensuring that we deliver the very best service possible and, above all, that you and your family are going to be happy and settled in your new city. Sometimes all you may need is a little more detail on schooling for your children or information on how to compile a French property dossier. This may help you move forward and make a more informed decision on whether your planned move is possible or not.
We often feel that our prospective clients are a little scared to talk, perhaps worried that they are going to be on the end of a “hard sell”. That’s definitely not the way we work! Indeed, we are candid and transparent and have, on the rare occasion, found that we are not able to help. Perhaps due to our high workload, geographical constraints or perhaps because your dossier would not be accepted here - it’s very rare but not unheard of - but we do make sure that we offer alternative routes and options for you.
As individuals we have moved with our families both internationally and within France and really do understand how challenging and stressful this process can be making us your ideal relocation partner. So please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us - even if your dream to move to Bordeaux is still in its infancy. We are always happy to give advice and to talk you through the positives (and negatives - yes, believe it or not, there are some negatives!) of life in Bordeaux and her surrounding areas.
Many of our relocating clients are travelling with their four legged friends and we are often asked about where to find specific brands of dog food, the best local dog walks, do’s and don’t for dog owners in Bordeaux, recommended veterinary clinics and so on. Whilst this is, by no means, a definitive guide, as dog owners ourselves we thought we’d share some of our recommendations and experiences.
The Gourmet Woof
The BordeauxLife dogs are all fussy eaters (read spoilt!) and supermarket food just doesn’t cut the dijon with them. Duffy (a “too smart for her own good” Berger Picard) has finally decided that the Belgian brand Edgard Cooper is her preferred choice, whilst Wogie (a wise and wonderful Black Labrador) heads more in the direction of Lily’s Kitchen, interspersed with medium rare steak hache and the odd boiled chicken breast.
Neither of these brands are available in supermarkets (of course!). Edgard Cooper can be bought directly from the supplier whilst Lily’s Kitchen is often available at J'ai Plus de Croquettes - a wonderful, pet friendly store in Merignac or via Wanimo. Many garden centres have also started stocking the more “up-market” brands and your vet is also a good starting point but it is definitely worth shopping around to find the best price.
The Active Woof
Both the BordeauxLife hounds love a good walk. Wogie is a well trained, elderly gentleman and enjoys his daily walks around some of the local parks. The Jardin Public is lovely and has the added bonus of a dog run for some extra socialising. Parc Bordelais is perfect for a long walk but best avoided if your dog has a strong prey instinct. There are literally hundreds of rabbits there and a walk here with Duffy would result in an urgent appointment with the osteopath! Duffy’s favourite walks are in Parc Bourran where she can commune with the geese, or in Bois du Burck - both are in Merignac but top of her list is a trip to the beach (off-season only) - chasing sand is the best thing ever. We also love a walk along the Quay de Bordeaux, often with a stop for a little refreshment - for both dog and owner.
Almost all parks in Bordeaux have free poo-bags at the entrance but it’s always a good idea to carry your own just in case they run out as it’s never a good idea to get caught short!
The Social Woof
There are approximately 1 dog to 4 people in Bordeaux and this makes for a dog-friendly city. Many restaurants welcome our furry friends and are happy to provide a bowl of water and a shady spot. Our favourites are: Le Chien de Pavlov - a fabulous, traditional French bistro in the centre of town; Alma - perfect for a post-Quay walk; La Tupina - better to eat first and then walk off the calories! To be honest the list is loooooong. There are so many options but if you are planning to eat inside then it’s always good to call and check first.
The Knowledgeable Woof
Okay - so our “woofs” aren’t that clued up really but did you know that you can take your dogs on public transport (not categories 1 & 2 - sorry!). Trams, buses and even the Bat Cub boats welcome dogs.
Whilst we are always hesitant to recommend medical professionals - everyone has their own view on what they prefer, we are often asked about the availability of English speaking vets in Bordeaux. Cristina Escudero in Pey Berland speaks English (05 57 85 95 55) and Clinique Veterinaire Alliance also has a couple of English speakers.
In our experience, many boarding kennels in the area have not always lived up to our expectations, however, if like us, you see your dogs as an extension of your family then a drive out of town to Les Chenils du Marmandais where Sue and Lee look after your dogs as if they were their own is your best bet. Alternatively, signing up to sites such as Trusted Housesitters really is the next best thing.
If your woof needs more than a quick brush and scrub in the shower then J’ai Plus de Croquettes also provide dog grooming services and there are a few mobile groomers starting up around Bordeaux who will come directly to your house.
If you are planning a move to Bordeaux or the surrounding areas with (or without) your pets then please get in touch with us - we’ve been there, done that and would be delighted to help with everything from advising on current travel requirements; finding the perfect home for you, your family and your four-legged companions and everything else in between.
The team at BordeauxLife are beyond excited that our favourite restaurant opens on 11th June and we’re starting to dream. It’s a balmy evening and we are sitting at a table with friends and family (socially distancing bien sûr!), we’re sipping a chilled glass of rosé and soaking up one of the best sunset views in South West France. We’re looking at the menu - think local seafood platters and expertly prepared fish and anticipating the simple joy of eating something that has not been prepared in our own kitchen (we never want to see a pack of beef mince again - ever!).
Where are we? La C(o)rniche in Pyla sur Mer of course - a 2 hour round trip for us which these days feels like a treat in itself - a little taste of the freedom that has been missing from our lives since 17th March. La C(o)rniche is a hotel and restaurant on the Atlantic coast to the west of Bordeaux - a little slice of heaven on the edge of the largest sand dune in Europe.
Perhaps we’ll leave Bordeaux a little earlier than planned and take a walk along an almost deserted beach - Plage Petit Nice would be perfect. Fresh salty air and gentle waves. The sand beneath our toes and a paddle in the icy ocean is the perfect balm for feet that have forgotten what the word “pedicure” means!
Pleasures such as these are something we took for granted 3 months ago, never for a minute imagining that life was going to charge so dramatically. Our mental health has taken a beating and it has become increasingly tough as we move closer to seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. The world seems like a much smaller place now and focussing on local attractions without the stresses of air travel, in our opinion, is absolutely the way to go.
Where are your dreams taking you? A family picnic or a hotel spa? A walk on the beach or live concert? We’d love to know.
Some of the most wonderful experiences in our lives come as a result of taking the plunge and moving to a new country. On the flip side - one of the hardest parts of expat life is saying goodbye to friends who have become like family to us. It doesn’t matter how often this happens, it never gets any easier.
Today at BordeauxLife, we said goodbye, not just to our friend, but to our business partner. Laura Jallier and her family are moving to pastures “almost” new and returning to Australia to begin the next phase of their lives together.
We would like to wish Laura, Pascal and the children the very best of luck. You will be missed.
They say that a change is a good as a rest and with the TGV from Bordeaux to Paris taking a little over 2 hours - why not plan a day trip with the children to Paris, the city of light, during the holidays? There’s something for everyone.
Visiting Paris with children is not nearly as daunting as you would think. It is an incredibly child friendly city with a lot of activities, especially around at this time of the year. A day trip is more than do-able, however if Disneyland is on your agenda you might want to book a hotel and stay overnight.
The easiest (and cheapest) way to get around Paris is by metro, although it’s a good idea to avoid rush hour (between 7am-9am and between 4.30pm and 7pm). Alternatively just walk, Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and there is always something to look at and admire.
Paris has some of the greatest ice rinks in Europe. Have you ever dreamed of skating in the stunning Grand Palais? Well now you can! The worlds biggest ice rink is back for a 5th year from December 13th to January 8th 2020. It’s a truly special venue even for non-skaters.
Alternatively, Galeries Lafayette Hausmann has set up an ice-rink on their roof-top. This not only means you can skate and enjoy unobstructed views of Paris but you can do some Christmas shopping at the same time. A double whammy!
Of course one shouldn’t forget all the Christmas markets in Paris, which are numerous, here are a couple of our favourites:
Saint-Germain-des-Prés Christmas Market
This is a charming and authentic market is situated on the Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th arrondissement and is open from 1st December 2019 to 5th January 2020.
Champs-Elysées Christmas Market - Jardin des Tuileries
The Champs-Elysées Christmas market can be found at the Jardin des Tuileries, one of the most beautiful parks in Paris. This market is open from November 15, 2019 to January 5, 2020. There is a wealth of gift ideas, entertainment, a merry-go-round and all the wonderful food stalls you would expect in the heart of the French capital.
See the Christmas Lights
As you might imagine, many areas of Paris are lit up for the holidays. As night falls when not take a Christmas light tour. Some of the most spectacular displays can be found at: Champs-Elysées; Avenue Montaigne; Faubourg Saint Honoré; Saint-Germain-des-Prés; Place Vendôme. Alternatively, take an open top bus tour, bookings can be made in advance through www.booking.parisinfo.com, hot drinks and blankets are provided!
A Disney Christmas
Disneyland Paris will be celebrating the holidays in style throughout the month of December. Visitors can participate in a number of festive activities and displays throughout the park. The most popular event is the Christmas parade featuring all the favourite Disney characters. There are also hotels in the and next to the Disneyland park. For prices and further information go to Disney Hotels.
Eating in Paris
There’s no better start to a chilly day than a proper French “chocolat chaud” and a freshly baked, buttery croissant. One of the best (and diet-busting) hot chocolates can be found at La Durée (www.laduree.fr). La Durée is one of the original French patisseries and most famous for their macarons. Today however, they also serve breakfast - don’t miss their fantastic eggs benedict.
Most restaurants will have a separate children’s menu (smaller and cheaper portions). Here is a list of some of the child friendly restaurants in Paris.
These are just a few tips on what Paris at Christmas has to offer for you and your family. There are, of course, many other things that you can do and visit: climb the Eiffel Tower; visit the museums and exhibitions; and shop (we love shopping, we really do!). The list is endless, but whatever you choose, we wish you a super trip and a very Merry Christmas.
At BordeauxLife we value friendship above all else and when Complete France magazine contacted us about contributing to an article specifically relating to making new friends in France, we were delighted to help - and here is the result!
As the wine harvest (vendange) draws to a close, something in the air has changed and it is not only the weather. Those long summer days are coming to an end, beckoning in the crisp autumn air, but it is also a time of anticipation, excitement and celebrations.
Every year, Bordeaux has sees an influx of people coming in to work in the vineyards either voluntarily in return for board or as a way to earn money.
This year, my family and I were fortunate enough to be able to participate in Chateau Marjosse’ vendange in the beautiful appellation of Entre-Deux-Mers. We arrived full of enthusiasm and ready for a hard days work.
We were given the task of picking one row of Merlot. They hung deliciously red and full on the vines. Fully equipped with our secateurs and wooden baskets we all set off at a quick pace. The weather was unseasonably hot and we had to work fast in the early morning to protect the quality of the grapes. The professional grape pickers had started their day at 3am (yikes!) to ensure the grapes remained at their best.
Making sure we only had the best grapes, our baskets were emptied into the chai. With Queen playing in the background (the 8 year old’s choice of music!), we started the laborious task of de-stemming. This process of separating the stem for the grapes before they are crushed is a long and tiring job and proved to be a little too much for the younger crew members, however time passes quickly with good company and good music and we were soon finished.
We had fun with the children, encouraging them to "press" the grapes in an amphora (a beautiful handmade terracotta pot). Unfortunately this is an ancient (Greek I believe!) method of pressing and whilst visually stunning is no longer a viable method - clean feet or not! Our youngest crew member started the crushing process in the amphora and clearly enjoyed it!
A well-earned celebration brought the day to a close, with a delicious harvest lunch, cooked by our friends Alex and Pierre, accompanied, of course, by some of Chateau Marjosse’s earlier vintages. Let’s hope our ‘cuvee’ will reflect, all the fun, joy, passion and hard work that we put into the day.
Somewhat naively, it has to be said, we assumed that French schools would not go down the Bake Sale fund-raising route. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that there is a boulangerie on every corner selling cakes that, let’s face it, we could only hope to produce in our dreams. Sadly, this is not generally the case - especially if you choose an international school for your little darling(s).
Bake Sales, are at some point in most parents lives, inevitable. And, as sure as eggs are eggs, if you don’t contribute then your children are mortified and the PTA hate you and if you do contribute then, without fail, your contribution looks like something the cat threw up. The end result is that your children are not only embarrassed by you and, in some extreme but not unheard of cases, scarred for life. In a nutshell, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Of course, it’s a given that your child will remind you at 8pm the evening before that you are expected to produce a tasty masterpiece for the following day. To avoid major panics we now stockpile a selection of sprinkles, marshmallows, popcorn, food colouring, cup cake cases, bars of chocolate, ribbons and sweetie bags. If it looks good the marauding groups of children assume that it tastes good too and you will avoid the shame of having to take your efforts back home with you whilst your child scowls at you (or worse, sobs) in the rear view mirror.
If you don’t have children or have passed the Evil Bake Sale point in your life then skip this blog post, open a bottle of wine and run around the garden in your undies congratulating yourself on successfully getting through this particularly stressful phase of your life.
If you would like to have a chat about the educational options available in Bordeaux for your children then please don't hesitate to drop us an email. We have considerable experience of international schools (Bordeaux International School, Montessori International School Bordeaux etc), private French schools and state schooling in Bordeaux and surrounding areas and are more than happy to share.
We also know where to source all the equipment, sprinkles and chocolate chips required for your bake sale delicacies and, if necessary, exactly where to buy (and how to "personalise") these goodies if you don't have the time, or inclination, to bake yourself! #notcheatingreally
Last weekend, the team at BordeauxLife, in a bid to ignore all things Brexit, decided to celebrate the arrival of spring in our outstandingly beautiful part of France.
A Saturday morning trip to the local market yielded new season green asparagus, locally grown and hand picked that morning. In addition to fresh eggs and baby potatoes we added a couple of barquettes of Gariguette strawberries to our baskets. An old and much loved variety, sweet and juicy with the promise of summer in each bite.
After a couple of pleasant hours in the kitchen we enjoyed the fruits of our labours under a warm Spring sun.
In an attempt to walk off Saturdays lunch, we took the dog down to our local stretch of canal for a chilly early morning walk - even after 10 years of living in this area, the stunning views never fail to give pleasure, whatever the season.
Lunch with friends at La Co(o)rniche in Pyla-sur-Mer was next on our agenda - in just over an hour the landscape changes from rolling vines to flat, never-ending horizons, impossibly tall pine trees and almost deserted white beaches.
We may continue to ignore all that is happening in Europe next weekend too!
Blogs At BordeauxLife
A mostly light-hearted look at life in South-West France