Un jour sans vin est comme un jour sans soleil: a day without wine is a day without sunshine—so goes an old French proverb. Twenty-nine Flying Longhorns, accompanied by Texas Exes Career Services director Jennifer Duncan, savored an abundance of both pleasures from Sept. 30 – Oct. 8.
France may be a tried-and-true travel destination, but this group didn’t stick entirely to the beaten path.
Yes, they toured Paris’ world-famous museums, cruised the Seine, and climbed the Notre Dame tower’s 387 steps. But they also explored villages and cities with musical names: Gevrey-Chambertin, Le Fleury, Marais, Troyes, Beaune. And they drank glass after glass of French wine—in spooky cellars, airy champagne houses, and sun-kissed vineyards.
In Burgundy’s Cote d’Or, they visited the Romanée-Conti vineyard, producer of the world’s most expensive wine. The average price of a bottle corked there is $6, 455, and their primo bottles can cost hundreds of thousands. Last year, a scandal rocked the quiet village when someone left a note demanding a one-million-Euro ransom. When the winemaker didn’t pay up, two vines were poisoned.
Romanée-Conti wasn’t on the official itinerary, but when one traveler voiced his interest in the scandal, the travel guide took the group on a memorable detour there. “It was exciting to see a vineyard that famous and that elite,” says Duncan.
The rest of the trip was characterized by happy coincidences, Duncan says. In Paris, the group watched the Oklahoma game at a bar with the Texas Exes Paris Network. There, they happened to meet up with Garrett Keast, BM ’95, Life Member, a conductor now working in Berlin. Another night, they met up with Anna Shoemaker, BA ’06, ’07, a young alumna living in France.
Other coincidences abounded: Two travelers discovered they had graduated from the same high school class; two sets of parents realized their children had dated each other; and one traveler realized her son’s mother-in-law had sung at another traveler’s wedding. “Everyone had two degrees of separation,” says Duncan. “Which is pretty cool when you think about how big a school UT is.”
Photos by Jennifer Duncan and Nancy Crays. See more photos from the trip here.