A week ago I had the pleasure to join a press trip organized by my friend and colleague Katja from Travelettes that led us and a group of fellow bloggers to beautiful Bordeaux. When I researched the location of the city on a map I realized that France pretty much reads like the menu of a Gourmet restaurant with Bordeaux not being the only delicacy on the list. It made me realize how much this country is about good food and drinks – sometimes I tend to forget when I just go to Paris.
I’m glad I finally had the chance to see another part of France other than the capital. It’s such a different world really. Not just because of the more Southern weather, but also because of the beautiful landscapes, the charming people and generally more relaxed vibe. When you drive through the area it feels a lot like you are in Tuscany with the charming old limestone buildings, vineyards as far as the eyes can reach lined with cypress trees and rose bushes. It really is the backdrop for romantic movies.
On our trip, we had the chance to visit a lot of places, try a lot of wine and food and discover all the special highlights of the area. It’s a place that I can warmly recommend to anybody – regardless if you are into wine or not. I certainly want to come back here – to explore the city of Bordeaux more and discover more of these incredibly dreamy Châteaux.
The city of Bordeaux was one of the biggest highlights for me personally. It’s incredibly beautiful with stunning architecture from the 15th to 17th century all over the city. Despite being such an old city there is a really youthful and cool vibe here with lots of hip cafes, bars, shops and restaurants filled with interesting young crowds. You can easily spend a couple of days here exploring and living the good life.
photos: Katja Hentschel
Along the Garonne
One of the things we did during our stay was renting bikes and drive along the Garonne river which gives a magnificent view over the city center while leading you out into nature along with some parks, new residential areas, and the botanical garden. There are lots of picturesque little spots along the way to take a rest, take photos or even have a picnic.
La Belle Saison
On our way, we stopped by the incredibly charming La Belle Saison located right by the water. We had a delicious little lunch there and our first glasses of wine of the day. It was nice to just hang out there and enjoying the view of the city.
Darwin Caserne Solidaire
A bit further along the river we discovered the most Berlin place in Bordeaux: Darwin – former military base that was abandoned for a long time until it became an alternative hub full of graffitis that hosts a co-working space for sustainable and ecological business, a second-hand market, a skate park, an exhibition space, a supermarket and restaurant with local bio food, a “second chance” school and some accommodation for refugees. A great place to explore!
Fête le Fleuve
We were lucky that our trip overlapped with the Fête le Fleuve in Bordeaux, a big festival with lots of music, food, and wine along the river. We had a quite unique wine tasting at the busy festival with eye-masks and headphones we took a little meditation and learned about the effects of the right ambiance and emotions on the taste of wine.
Bordeaux by Night
During the night the city streets are buzzing with people hopping from one wine bar to the next, it was a great opportunity to really soak up that Bordeaux life. We were also lucky to catch the impressive fireworks and light show that finalized the Fête le Vin.
From Château to Château
If you leave the city there is so much to discover in the areas around and most significantly the many vineyards and Châteaux. These four we can especially recommend.
Château Guiraud in Sauternes was possibly the most romantic place on our trip. They are known for their excellent dessert wine. Yes, you heard that right: Bordeaux does not only have red wine but also white, rose, dessert wine and Crémant. We had a delightful dinner at the Château in their Michelin star restaurant La Chapelle de Guiraud and seized every minute to enjoy the special ambiance there which was finalized with a breath-taking sunset over the vineyard.
Chateau d’Yquem is actually a quite exclusive place not everyone will be able to go to. It’s fairytale-like garden and castle are made of dreams and it was pure bliss to be roaming their grounds like princesses.
Château Ambe Tour Pourret
Château Ambe Tour Pourret is total girl-power as the estate owner and most staff are female. We had a super interesting wine tasting with a pairing of cheeses and chocolates that made you taste the wines even more intensely. An opportunity you should not miss out on. We also had the pleasure to prepare our own lunch at a cooking class there which was great fun.
Château de Môle
Château de Môle was the one vineyard from our trip that we actually stayed at because they had a lovely B’n’B on their estate. The rooms were absolutely awesome with saunas and whirlpools – pure Château luxury. My personal highlight though was the breakfast – the best I had during the entire trip and I will forever dream of these chocolatines (that’s how they call pain au chocolat). The owner of the estate also has a great restaurant in the walking distance called Bistrot de la Gare.
Sauternes is a picturesque little town South of Bordeaux that we stayed in during our trip. The Château Guiraud and d’Yquem are near here, so this makes sense to combine those three. We stayed at the modern Hotel Le 23 which was a delight and we spend our evening at the absolutely charming open-air bar Le Petite Guinguette that was just down the road.
Saint-Émilion is a unique small town East of Bordeaux that grew around a monastery and is now UNESCO world heritage. Underneath the town lie over 200km of tunnels that were created for the limestone mine that was used to build Bordeaux and other towns of the region. Now it’s used as wine storage for the region. It’s pretty cool to be down there and see this endless maze of tunnels. You can take a tour starting from Les Clos des Cordeliers where you can also have a wine tasting or shop some gourmet products from the region.