This tour takes you around France’s wine capital of Bordeaux and out to meet its winegrowers, visit their châteaux and cellars and learn how to taste wine, as well as taking in the exceptional beauty of the nearby Bay of Arcachon.
Bordeaux, world famous for its wine, named best European destination 2015 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is renowned for its remarkable architectural unity dating back to the 18th century. There are said to be 350 buildings which are listed or registered as historical monuments or classed as Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage routes. And what a way to live – a great mix of exuberance and tranquillity.
The Grand Theatre designed by Victor Louis – it’s fit for a king! Place de la Bourse gives a nod to Versailles, with its facade stretching out along the embankments, its beauty reflected in the water mirror. The Golden Triangle is ideal for window shopping, with chic boutiques to whet the appetite. The famous Rue Sainte Catherine, the main pedestrian artery of the town centre, is a shopper’s delight. For night owls, there are plenty of live music bars, wine cellars and night clubs, from the embankments of Paludate to those of Bacalan via Old Bordeaux and La Victoire. Finally, it’s time to eat, whether local specialities or a more inventive cuisine created by some very talented chefs.
The vineyards of Bordeaux contain 57 “appellations d’origine contrôlée” (AOC) and so many exceptional wines: Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Médoc, Saint-Estèphe, Sauternes and Pessac-Léognan are among the most famous. Under construction for 2016, the Cité du Vin (City of Wine), with its bold architecture and a true “flagship” of know-how and centuries of wine-making tradition, will light up the entrance to the town of Bordeaux. Guided tours of the vineyards and châteaux are organized daily from the Bordeaux Tourist Office.
The most prestigious châteaux are in the Médoc, along the D2 road known as the Route des Châteaux: Margaux, Latour and Mouton- Rothschild.
On the Médoc route, you’ll come across Bordeaux’s most prestigious Grand Cru red wines. Often crafted in châteaux and cellars with their unusual architecture: Châteaux Margaux, Cos d’Estournel, Beychevelle and others.
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Set out from Arcachon in a traditional pinasse boat for an excursion to Cap Ferret and the chance to discover the Bay of Arcachon. You can reach the point of Cap Ferret from Arcachon, relaxing on this “little sea” on a fishing smack, the type of vessel traditionally found hereabouts. There are some hidden locations to arouse your curiosity. Île aux Oiseaux, with its huts on stilts, is the most striking. It’s what inspired Laurent de Brunhof to write Babar.
Arachon is a seaside resort, a winter town whose timelessness has retained the character, the discreet, smart yet extravagant charm of Belle Epoque architecture. Its reputation is second to none, thanks to its health-giving waters and the reputation of its oysters.
For an unforgettable trip, climb the Dune du Pilat, listed as a Great National Site, a mountain of sand rising to 107m, making it the highest dune in Europe. From the top, there’s an outstanding view of the Landes pine forest and the ocean … nearly all the way to America!
To book a suitable hotel or other accommodation in, or near Bordeaux, you can use the map below, which shows current prices for hotels and apartments. To book further afield, then just enlarge the map (+/-) to see more properties or, if you are headed for a particular area, enter your preferred city/town/village in the ‘Where are you going?’ box.
This itinerary is compliments of Visit Aquitaine.