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Destination Southwestern France:
Story and photos by Tom Weber

vineyard in the village of Montagne, Southwestern France, at dusk

ay three of my photo shoot around southwestern France finds me in the small village of Montagne, located in the middle of as-far-as-the-eye-can-see vineyards in the Gironde department of the Aquitaine.

two vintage windmills at the village of Montagne

Smack dab in the middle of the grapevines, at the top of a small clearing, stand two well-preserved moulins (windmills) that are the pride-and-joy of a local winery, Chateau Saint Jacques Calon, the producer of a fine Appellation Saint Emilion Merlot-Cabernet Franc blend, Cuvée des Moulins.

vintage windmill framed by wooden paddle blade, Montagne

Back in the mid 1800s, all across l'Hexagone vintners were under attack by a tiny aphid invader from North America that systematically brought the entire French wine industry to its knees, region-by-region, vineyard-by-vineyard.

windmills at Montagne with grapevine in the foreground

In anticipation of the imminent devastation, chateaus rushed to construct windmills to serve as the workhorse for their backup plan: burn down the vineyards, temporarily grow and harvest wheat and mill it into flour until the earth below was renewed and newly planted vines could take root and flourish.

another picture of the two windmills at dusk in Montagne

As daytime exhales its final, long deep breath signaling nighttime's arrival, there's really no better place to be than alongside the rose-colored windmills of Chateau Saint Jacques Calon to watch the setting sun bid bonsoir in the vineyards.

Recommended dining: Le Clos Mirande – Montagne-St. Emilion – t. +33 05-5774-5016 –

the Le Clos Mirande in Montagne

I enjoyed my first dining experience here so much that I returned twice more during my stay in the area. Le Clos Mirande delivers on its promise to provide market fresh seasonal dishes that reflect the generous, local and regional gastronomy with a flair.

Both a restaurant and a bistrot, Montagne's finest eatery offers its clientele a delightful dining experience outdoors, weather permitting, in its lovely terraced garden with its spectacular panoramic view of the rolling hills and vineyards. Begin the evening with an aperitif as you take in the sunset and study the menu featuring an array of delectable and creative dishes.

table setting at the Le Clos Mirande

appetizer at the Le Clos Mirande: layered zucchini and eggplant, fresh cheese and smoked Serrano ham

Highly recommended as an appetizer is the millefeuille de courgettes et aubergines, fromage frais et copeaux de jambon fumé (layered zucchini and eggplant, fresh cheese and smoked Serrano ham).

the Le Clos Mirande's skewered and lightly grilled lamb tartar

grilled fillet of sea bream at the Le Clos Mirande

For the main course, you can't miss by choosing either the brochettes d'agneau grillés (skewered and lightly grilled lamb tartar - browned outside, moist inside) or the filet de daurade royale grillé (grilled fillet of sea bream).

dessert at the Le Clos Mirande: thin crispy of triple thick dark chocolate surrounded by fresh raspberries

another dessert selection at the Le Clos Mirnde

And, for dessert, enjoy the croquant de chocolat noir triple avec framboises fraîches (a thin crispy of triple thick dark chocolate surrounded by fresh raspberries), or order one of the many other selections to satisfy your sweet tooth.

wine bottles from around the Appellation Saint Emilion at the Le Clos Mirande

wine from the Chateau Saint Jacques Calon, Montagne

With its multi-paged wine list of bottles from around the Appellation Saint Emilion, including the aforementioned Chateau Saint Jacques Calon – whose vineyards nestle up to the restaurant-bistro's property line – and the greater Bordeaux region, coupled with its vast and ever-changing creative menu, Le Clos Mirande is well-worth a reservation should your travels find you in Montagne.

Cost per person is approximately 35 euro ($45) for an entrée, main course and dessert selection. Aperitif, wine, water and coffee selections are extra; the breathtaking view out back is FREE.

Related Articles:
Destination Southwestern France: Domme and Beynac-et-Cazenac; Destination Southwestern France: Sarlat-la-Canéda; The Medieval Towns of Bruges, Leiden and Dijon; Thoughts About Les Hommes Français; Provence; The Magnificent Cities of Champagne and Lorraine

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Let Tom know what you think about his traveling adventure.

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Feedback for Destination Bosnia: Inside Sarajevo's Tunnel of Hope

Spent time in Sarajevo in the fall of 1973…beer was excellent!

--- David

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Hi Tom,

I must say, you're photographs are always amazing. They are top notch. You bring so much class to Traveling Boy. It's photographs like yours that make me want to go out and do my own traveling. Please don't get tired of sending us your amazing adventures. It's such a delight for the soul.

--- Raoul, Whittier, CA

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Hi Tom:

I'm also an American living in Italy. I've read with interest your blog and articles. I'd like to speak with you regarding residency and citizenship for Americans in Italy as you do seem to have a great deal of knowledge on all of these subjects. Would it be possible to give you a call on the phone? If so, please let me know how to reach you. If not, I can ask my questions via email.

Thank you!

--- David

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Hey Tom – Wow! Love those photos – they are so super that they make me A) Want to start eating NOW. B) Go there myself. C) See all that pristine beauty that looks so restful and peaceful. Great story, superb pix!!! Bravo!!

--- John, Los Angeles, CA

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Feedback for Destination Southwestern France: Saint-Émilion

Good job, Tom, and timely info. St. Émilion is in the list of places Jim Hayes and I will visit in September 2014. If we get the chance, we will exploit your experience to enhance the trip!

--- Bobby Harper, Dameron, MD

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Feedback for Vicenza Walks – Monte Berico

I lived in Vicenza for 4 years in the U.S. ARMY from 1963 to 1967. A wonderful place to explore. Palladio’s works are amazing. Have been back twice since and find new places to visit. My favorite is MONTE BERICO where I have some wonderful photos of my family.

--- Dr. Albert Pizzi, Hanover, MA

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I liked the new TB particularly the Vicenza article that took me back as a youth when we lived in Naples and travelled up there for a baseball tourney (U.S. Military Bases dependent schools played each other.)

Took me back to the plaza.

--- Bill

Feedback for A Canterbury Trail (Sutri)

Very interesting note. I have wedroned which route the early pre-Christian and Christian pilgrims travelled to Rome from England. Is it still possible to travel the Francigena trail?

--- Pawel

You can find out more info on walking tours of Via Francigena at this site: Thanks for stopping by and commenting..


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Good article, enjoyed reading it. Saved your recommended sights for future use.

--- Dardenne Prairie, MO

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You're going to be great at this Tom. Congrats.

--- Donna Vissa -Montreal

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