DAY 6: Bordeaux region, France

There was a period of about 300 years when British royalty spoke French because they felt it was an elevated language and they also had a great fondness for French things. Eleanor of Aquitaine (the region where Bordeaux is located) married King Henry II (in the year 1151). The marriage resulted in huge amounts of wine from Bordeaux being imported to England. The English loved their queen’s wine, and called it Clairet, which is still used today for lighter red Bordeaux wines. 

The Bordeaux region offers a huge variety of events throughout the year including exhibitions, concerts, festivals, fairs, markets and cultural events. The region and nearby areas offer a great variety of landscapes, historic sites, and attractions. Several hundred châteaux are open for visiting, attracting visitors with tours, special themed tours, tasting classes, dinner pairings and other activities. Beyond the Bordeaux region, within easy driving range, are several quite different and interesting areas of pretty villages, each boasting its regional gastronomic specialties, wines and spirits – well worth checking out as day trips from Bordeaux or for staying a few nights to get a more immersive experience.

Only 3o miles west of the most prestigious vineyards in the world lies the Atlantic Ocean, with its beautiful coastal landscape of oyster-farming ports, sandy beaches and seaside resorts. Here you can take in the Arcachon Bay, France’s largest body of water; see the Gironde Estuary, the largest in Europe, and climb the tallest sand dune (la Dune du Pilat) in Europe. Enjoy the areas oysters, cycle, bird watching, swimming, bicycling around the bay, view Belle Epoque grand bourgeois houses and a mix of a variety of other cultures’ influences on the architecture.

photos courtesy of Atout France

An easy day trip within easy driving distance (not quite 2 hours) is the town of Cognac and its great Cognac houses. A range of exploratory activities like walking itineraries, cellar and distillery visits, workshops and other activities are available to fully enjoy the city, its old city, shops and the luxury Cognac spirit (a specific type of brandy) and Cognac-based liqueurs. 

Bordeaux and the surrounding region experience peak times between June and August when many French and other Europeans visit. If you prefer smaller crowds, spring or autumn times are better, except for September when some wineries don’t allow visitors due to busy harvest time.

With France always a popular destination among Americans as well as Europeans and the rest of the world, book your Bordeaux vacation at least 9 months prior to your travel dates.  Suppliers have now published rates for 2021 and some of 2022, and with no risk cancellation policies, book early discounts, reduced deposits and other special offers, you can confidently plan your Bordeaux vacation now.

WHEN TO GO: Spring or Fall, Allow at least 3 to 4 full days for Bordeaux and its countryside, more if spending a day or two on the coast

POPULAR TRAVEL STYLES: Small Private Groups, River Cruise, Small Ship Cruise, Independent Travel 

IDEAL FOR: Culinary/Wine, Romantic Travel, Bicycling, History, City Stay, Regional Travel or Multi-Country Tour

Clairet, sometimes mistaken for a rose’, is a light red wine produced in Bordeaux

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Published by Cheryl Walton

Travel changes your perspective while creating special memories along the way. My goal is to always help create the vacation experience you imagine - whether it's bucket list travel, a celebration or a special interest vacation - history, WWII, heritage, wine, beer, culinary, language, art, and genealogy (just a few of my favorites). My first trip abroad was to southern Belgium as part of a town twinning program to help keep French culture alive in Louisiana. My host family provided an inside view of their country, lifestyle and culture, creating a friendship now 30+ years strong through 4 generations! That trip definitely impacted my style of travel - getting off the beaten path and engaging with locals - as well as a later career change to travel advisor. I strive to provide similar experiences tailored to your interests and comfort level.

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