DAY 10 and DAY 11: Bordeaux, France

Back to back wines from the Bordeaux region – where the majority of wine produced is red, but worth noting that the region also produces excellent whites, roses and sparkling wines. Since I’ve already presented Bordeaux on Day 4 and Day 6, today’s post will focus on the “micro regions” of Bordeaux. For a comprehensive tour of the Bordeaux region, you may choose to visit a few (or all!) of its various wine routes each its own micro region, with distinct landscapes, attractions and ambiance. 

Head northwest from the city of Bordeaux to reach the Medoc region. Forming the left bank of the Gironde Estuary and stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the city of Bordeaux, you can embark on a discovery of a thousand and one châteaux. Over two days you could visit several of the chateaux, take in a beach trip and visit a surfing town or France’s oldest lighthouse, and even explore some of the fishing villages around the estuary. Fun festivals and special wine related activities are typical, like an annual mountain biking trek that combines wine and sports at the end of May, with thousands of costumed participants traveling the Médoc roads in a party atmosphere!

photos courtesy of Bordeaux Tourism Board, Medoc Tourism and AutoEurope

Continuing clockwise, across the estuary and northeast of the city, to the Blay & Bourge region. The landscape is rolling vineyards, golden stone villages, Romanesque churches, and archaeological sites. The 450 wine properties of the region welcome visitors to try their wines and explore the “green” villages located on the edge Europe’s largest estuary, in the heart of the vineyards, where flora and fauna are preserved as well as the region’s prehistoric grottes (caves).

Next traveling clockwise, on the right bank of the Dordogne, you’ll reach the Libournais region. You can treat yourself to a tour of the world renowned, age-old vineyards of Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Saint-Émilion boasts many historic monuments as the first traces of human activity there date back to the late Stone Age.

To the southeast is Bordeaux’s Entre-deux-Mers, an area between the Gironde and Dordogne Rivers dotted with small villages and sometimes called the “Bordeaux Tuscany”. The largest wine region within Bordeaux, wine tourism is huge here. All the full range of Bordeaux wines are here …. White, Entre-Deux-Mers dry white, Rosé and Clairet, Red and Supérieur Red, as well as Crémant (sparkling).

The wine estates are displays of remarkable architecture and the surrounding countryside is unique. With rolling landscapes and a multitude of peaceful villages, the area’s rich heritage and traces of the Middle Ages unfold in the country houses, mills, fortified towns, monasteries, abbeys and churches. The Abbey of La Sauve Majeure (built in 1079), is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and masterpiece of Romanesque art, and is part of the Roads to Santiago de Compostela, the medieval pilgrimage Route network through France and Spain.

It is the ideal place for cultural walks and being closer to nature. With its slightly rolling tracks and its preserved nature, Entre-deux-Mers is also popular with cyclists. Working up a hearty appetite in this area is not a problem as this is also a land where passionate chefs and local produce combine in gastronomic delights. The local products can also be purchased on Saturday mornings, at the area’s largest market in Cadillac. The market has been held for more than eight centuries! 

Next head to the Sauternais region, south of the city of Bordeaux, greatly appreciated by visitors for its discreet charm and unspoiled nature. This region is a sea of vineyards surrounding villages with charming, old stone houses, many elegant Renaissance-era chateaux and Romanesque churches. The Gascogne Natural Regional Park is nearby providing your choice of trails for walking and biking, horse rides, lakes for relaxing and water sports, and even the Contemporary Art Forest, uniquely blending nature and art. 

Typically, early November is a special time here, when fifty properties open their doors for you to taste their wonderful “golden wine”, meet those who make them and listen to their stories of the last harvest and promises of the year. During this special event, the region comes alive with concerts, fun and educational activities and festivities.

And lastly, the Graves region, on the left bank of the Garonne River, just south of the city of Bordeaux where you’ll find a concentration of vineyard landscapes and pine forests that frame the special art of living found only here. Gastronomy, art, folklore, festivals and traditions make the area unique. Graves also hosts an annual “Open Door” weekend every October for you to experience it fully. During this weekend there is something for everyone, presented in a genuine, friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Visit vineyards and cellars, meet the owners and winemakers and partake in discussions of the local winemaking lure, history and techniques. Take part in workshops organized by the Bordeaux Wine School where you can test your palate and nose. Engage the kids with a treasure hunt or pony ride. Endulge in local specialties like a hog roast, delicious oysters or the special local Bazas beef, and so much more offered in the quite extensive program boasting more than 60 participating chateaux!

WHEN TO GO: Spring or Fall for the Wine Festivals (October/early November) Depending on how many regions you plan to visit, at least 3 to 4 full days 

POPULAR TRAVEL STYLES: Small Private Groups,River Cruises, Yacht Cruises, Canal Cruising, Independent Travel, Luxury Travel

IDEAL FOR: Culinary/Wine, Romantic Travel, Destination Weddings, Nature Vacation, Family Travel, Hiking/Biking/Water Sports 

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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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