My Surprise birthday
What better way than celebrating my 30th than a surprise trip away. My clues were quite vague “it’s a world heritage site“ and “by a river”. So as we set off in the early hours of the 3rdof February 2011 I have to admit I was very, VERY excited

First stop was Kings Cross station where we painlessly jumped on to the Eurostar heading to Paris. PARIS I thought! How wonderful, wandering the streets around St Germain and the Sacre Coeur eating way too many almond croissants. However this was just the first stop, we then boarded another train heading to Tours. This leg involved the popping of corks on some lovely French Champagne complemented by the gift of some crystal flutes. My final destination was then revealed to me by another thoughtful gift, a guidebook to the Loire Valley. On our arrival to Tours we jumped in our mini me hire car after adjusting to driving on the opposite side of the road and setting our Navman, albeit French speaking. Off we began weaving through the Touraine that sits in the heart of this region.

Our stone cottage with exposed wood beams and white wash stone staircase was magical. With a quick stop at the Super Marché our eyes seemed to glaze over at all the French delicacies on offer, oysters, caviar, foie gras and the smelliest cheese you could ever imagine. More wine and bubbles, smoked salmon pate and French bread. We began to feast as if we were taking part in the last supper. I could have fallen into bed there and then floating in my French birthday bubble; however after scanning the guide book we made a last minute booking at Auberge du Xll Sie`cle. We just made it there for our 9pm booking thanks to the trusty French Navman and with an almost empty restaurant it felt as if this old stone eatery was there to cater solely for us. After a quick scan of the elaborate menu I quickly realized it was written entirely in French. With two set menu options and a little help translating from our waitress we embarked on a marathon of meals.

Dishes such as a shot glass of offal mousse topped with port caramel sauce and scallops on a bed a black pudding seemed a little frightening to my rather unrefined palette, yet all the tastes however foreign, were simply exquisite. The only problem we all had was that after the super Marché hoe down this topped off the largest day of eating I’ve ever experienced. My birthday body was so full I became quite silent and by the 7 or 8th dessert plate I stopped speaking altogether!

Decadence and over indulgence were the theme words of my birthday celebrations and I couldn’t think of better ones to see in the beginning of my 3rd decade.

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