Bordeaux is without a doubt one the most famous wine region on the planet. It has unparalleled majestic chateaux, each with a long history and tradition.
Bordeaux is made up of a number of famous communes/villages each with a distinct wine style and individual beauty. Bordeaux city centre is a stunning mix of magnificent 18th century buildings, avenues and squares. The city and its surrounding villages deliver gastronomic delights to accompany its wine. Bordeaux even has a vineyard in the airport and numerous shops and bars there were you can try great local wines. Glass of 1st growth before your flight, anyone?
Here are our picks for places to go, people to see and some wine and food knowledge to swot up on before you go…Read less
How to get there
Bordeaux is deliciously simple to get to by air. Their international airport is Bordeaux-Mérignac and it’sonly 9 km from the city centre, so about 20 minutes drive away on a good day. Traffic can be a bit of a drag mid week however, so leave a bit more time for your journey if going by car. There is also a regular 40-minute bus service from the city centre to the airport. Cars can be hired easily at the airport
The main train station in Bordeaux train station is Bordeaux St Jean. Bordeaux is connected to Paris and other cities by the high speed TGV network. From London, you can change in Paris from the Eurostar and the whole journey takes around 6 hours.
Once you’re there
Bordeaux has a great tram system and train system once you’re there. Tickets for the tram can be purchased at tobacconists stalls around the city.
France’s currency is the Euro. £ 1Sterling is currently worth approx 1.12 Euro and 1$USD is currently worth approx 0.86 Euro cents
WHEN TO GO AND HOW LONG FOR?
Bordeaux is well developed for wine tourism and the first week of April sees the wine trade come from all over the world to taste the new vintage; a very busy season known as ‘En Primeur’. The vines come to life at the end of April to early May and flourish in the vineyards through to October. Many producers take their holidays in August, while in September and October the Bordelais’ main focus is on the last weeks of harvest. Vineyard tours are certainly available during these months but it is good to book in advance.
WHERE TO GO? SUGGESTED ITINERARIES
● Graves and Pessac-Leognan surround the city proper. Here you will find the famous Chateau Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut Brion. As you drive North with the Garonne river to the right you will pass the commune of Margaux, famous for its feminine and perfumed wines. Further North you enter St Julien, which has more 2nd growth wines, prolific and majestic chateaux than any other region. The adjoining village of Pauillac rises higher above the Garonne where you find the famous tower of Chateau Latour, the great Mouton Rothschild, Pontet-Canet famous for its biodynamic wines and finally the panorama of Chateau Lafite Rothschild. Then into St Estephe and the unique Oriental Pagoda style Cos d’Estournel.
● Saint Emilion & Pomerol: Take a drive (35 km) North-East over the estuary and past the ancient town of Libourne and you will approach Bordeaux’s flagship wine town St Emilion. This ancient village introduced vineyards in the 2nd century A.D. and by the 4th century A.D. the Latin poet Ausonios had begun to extol the virtues of this glorious village built high up on a limestone outcrop. Today the town is a tribute to this limestone with a picturesque town centre and many delightful spots to eat and drink. Its famous neighbour Pomerol sits on a gravel and clay plateau and is the smallest wine producing region in Bordeaux. It is home to the garagiste, a group of winemakers that utilise small plots with tireless labour to produce powerful and luscious Merlot-based wines.
● Sauternes is found 40 km South-East of Bordeaux proper and its imitable conditions allow the Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes to be affected by noble rot. This happens in the spring when the river Ciron pushes its cold waters into the Garonne thereby creating a warm mist that descends into the vineyard causing the grapes to shrivel and become raisined, thereby allowing the flavours to create the delectable sweet honey, apricot and peach eponymous flavoured wine.
● Bordeaux City: Bordeaux is special and worth a weekend break on its own. It combines art and history with incredible Romanesque and neoclassical architecture; you can even see the remains of a 2nd century Roman amphitheatre at the Palais Gallien. You should not miss the place de la Comédie and its stunning 18th century Victor Louis Grand Theatre, or the humbling Cathédrale Saint-André and Church Notre Dame. Take a drink at Place Parlementaire and a night-time walk past the Place de la Bourse. There is also plenty of shopping to be done here! The city has all this and much more!
● The highest Sand Dune in Europe, Dune de Pyla - boasts breathtaking views of the Bay of Arcachon and the Atlantic Ocean. One must also try the Arcachon Oysters with a glass of wine at one of the waterfront restaurants.