Destination Southwestern France: Heaven among the Vineyards

Stéphane Gabart - My French Heaven | ©Tom Palladio Images

One of the highlights — and there were many — of my just-concluded, 10-day sojourn around parts of southwestern France was to finally meet a fellow blogger in the flesh.

Not only did my petite famille gather for a week of joie de vivre, but our host during our entire get-together was Stéphane Gabart, the effervescent, bon vivant behind My French Heaven, a must-read blog for anyone who loves and craves all-things French — from cuisine, to design and fashion, to the laid-back lifestyle that is uniquely southwestern France.

It was through Stéphane’s blog that I found out about his family owned and operated B&B, the Chateau Saint Jacques Calon, in Montagne, just across the hill and around the bend from postcard-perfect Saint-Émilion — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — in the Gironde department of the Aquitaine region.

  Chateau St. Jacques Calon - Montagne, FR | ©Tom Palladio Images

You can come for the scenery, and you should, but, by all means, stay for the food and the superlative wines. Thanks to Stéphane, he provided us with au courant dining suggestions and every night, and sometimes at midday, we experienced another layer of his French Heaven via knife, fork and wine glass. Mon Dieu!

And for sightseeing, Stéphane was always Jeannot-on-the-spot with great recommendations on where to go and what to see: small villages, the nearby seacoast, open-air markets, wine tastings at some of the world-famous chateaus, guided tours, etc.

Hand drawn road maps | ©Tom Palladio ImagesIn the end, his mobile phone got quite a workout, as he always called ahead and booked our tours, wine tastings and restaurant table reservations.

In addition, Stéphane’s one heckuva cartographer, as he would draw up maps every morning filled with minute details to ensure that we did not get lost along the way. An in-car GPS doesn’t always get you where you want to go, but there was no “recalculating” when following Stéphane’s hand-drawn road maps.

Chateau Saint Jacques Calon wine - Montagne, France | ©Tom Palladio ImagesThe former estate-home of an award-winning vineyard that continues to produce the chateau’s namesake wine, the property was purchased separately by Stephane’s family some years ago.

They may not own the vineyards, but guests can take a leisurely stroll through the endless rows of merlot and cabernet franc grape vines just beyond the property line up to the two well-preserved windmills. From there you can see why Stéphane calls his blog My French Heaven.

Our small party of five-and-a-half had the “run of the house,” as we occupied one wing of the chateau, the side facing the deep blue, saltwater swimming pool surrounded by a well-manicured garden. We enjoyed our daily petit dejeuner (breakfast) poolside, as well as a few picnic lunches at midday and our nightly aperitif before heading off for another dinner of regional haute cuisine.

The Palladian Traveler's "posse" | ©Tom Palladio ImagesThe Chateau Saint Jacques Calon was the perfect base for our family reunion in the southwest of France.

The rooms, with their comfortable four-poster beds, were clean, bright and spacious. And, the complimentary WIFI service made it easy for me to blog about my days and nights in this photogenic corner of France, either inside the air conditioned room or outside around the pool. If you missed my previous six dispatches, just click HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

For complete details on this tranquil B&B, located in the heart of one of France’s most prestigious wine-producing areas, just click HERE. The Chateau Saint Jacques Calon — Stephane’s French Heaven, and now ours, too.

Oh, if you go — and why wouldn’t you — just tell him The Palladian Traveler sent you. 🙂

Sunset over St. Emilion, France | ©Tom Palladio Images

©The Palladian Traveler

TPT Borssalino_RedWhiteBlue | ©Tom Palladio Images



  1. I’ve so enjoyed traveling with you! I’m sad that the journey is over, although I always enjoy reading your posts anyway. I’d love to visit the Chateau one day and give you the credit for the recommendation. Several days ago,while watching the Tour, I saw a windmill just like the ones you photographed above. It made me smile.

    Welcome back!


    1. Thanks Janet. Nice to know that my postings were well received and on par with Le Tour de France scenics. I, we, had a great, great time. Thanks for virtually tagging along. You were great company. 🙂

  2. I take it you made it home safe. I hope the drive wasn’t too hard… What a lovely post! Your pictures are incredible. Oh the colors! I love the one of the maps! Not too sure about the one of me… I’m glad you made it home safe and I hope to see you again soon! Who knows, maybe in Italy someday…

    1. It would be my pleasure to show you around my fair city of Vicenza and wines we produce here, and, of course, the food. Next time I visit SW France, I’ll fly — much too far to drive in one day, nearly 12 hours and w/o your maps! Arrivederci, mon ami. About the photo of you that I used, to quote American actor-commedian Billy Crystal, “You look MAHvelous!” About the colors, well all I did was point-and-shoot, your locales did all of the heavy lifting. Ciao for now. Tom/TPT

      Sent from my iPhone

    1. Pat — Can’t count money when I’m on vacation. It was worth every penny/euro. Such a great 10 days. Now, what do I do for an encore? I think a seaside stay in the Marche region of Italy. Stay tuned. Ciao ciao.

      1. Yes, trips like this make being a parent and grandparent so very special. I hope you recognize how fortunate you are to be able to not worry about the cost. I was thinking of the exchange rate not from your perspective but because hubby mentioned it to me and said we needed to keep that in mind when planning future travel. I look forward to visiting the Marche region with you. 🙂

      2. Believe me, it didn’t cost me an arm and a leg from where I am. I drove there and back, and did not have an over-the-pond airline ticket to worry about along with the meals and lodging. That’ll happen soon enough when I return to the states this fall for a visit; my first in almost six years.

  3. That looks fantastic. What is the closest airpot to this place? I wouldn’t mind a country escape here with all the gorgeous scenery and food!

      1. I have just suggested it to my husband! He’s going to look into when we can fit it in. Hopefully it’s easy to get to Bordeaux from London 🙂

      2. I’m sure there are direct flights into Bordeaux from one of the three London airports. Worst case, you’ll have to transfer somewhere in France, like CDG or Lyon. Bon voyage!

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