London Diary – A French Holiday! (Part 2 Bordeaux)

Bordeaux’s fame is legendary, a bottle of wine from Bordeaux excites expectation. It however wasn’t until I started to research for the trip that I understood a little more about the Bordeaux wine region. There are numerous wine producing chateaus in the area, those on the west of River Gironde and Garonne, north and South of Bordeaux, which is set on River Garonne’s west bank itself, and those east of River Gironde and River Dordgone, north and south of St Emilion. And then there is the city of Bordeaux itself. Amidst all these, I discovered Route de Châteaux, ie Castle Road, or D2.

Here is how Bordeaux unfolded for us.

Chateau Julie

There are numerous options for accommodation in the area. But what could be better than staying at a wine producing chateau?  Luckily I found Chateau Julie, a lovely 18th century chateau with its own wine label.

The main house, situated at the end of a tree-lined approach road, is handsome, rooms are spacious and comfortable, lounge room with coffee and tea making facility and both dining room are nice. There was a fruit basket in the lobby or dining room ready for those who are interested, water bottles were supplied each day, and Easter chocolate eggs were plentiful that weekend. And befittingly, there is always a bottle of Chateau Julie wine in the lobby as well for sampling. There is also a self-serving bar operated on honest system.

Our room being in the back of the house had a lovely view of the vineyard. A little further beyond, there was a small lake where we found a couple of canoes laying by the bank.

Chateau Julie offers set menu, 3 course dinner at €30 pp which included a glass of champagne and endless wine. The wine served at our dinner, 2012 Chateau Julie Bordeaux Superieur, was lovely, flavorful, smooth, not too light and not too strong for me, which is all I the layperson can elaborate on the subject.

This wine is available for purchase at the chateau for €8. I was a little surprised by the inexpensive price, it tasted more than that J Renee, who run the chateau along with her husband, and both were Dutch, mentioned that the wine can only be purchased at the Chateau or in China, and the owner is in Shanghai, which I did not expect, I had previously thought she and her husband own the chateau.

 

20160326_182312rs20160326_185614rs

 

Day One: Route de Châteaux to Pointe-de-Grave

Medoc is the strip of land situated between the Atlantic Ocean and River Gironde, where many of the famous Bordeaux wine is produced. Castle Road is one route that traverses through the heart of Medoc, goes through a number of villages and leads you to many of the wine producing chateaus.

We drove the entire length of Castle Road, taking detours and making photo stops. You could see that spring had sprouted, tiny baby leaves could be spotted on the trees if you pay attention, it however was not enough to turn the scenery around yet. And the vineyards for the most part were still covered by brown grape stumps.

In spite of that, it was a wonderful ride. The chateau country, adorn by numerous chateaus of various size and style and vineyards as they were, was like none others I had seen and was idyllically enchanting.

As suggested as one of the most approachable chateaus in the area, I emailed Chateau Lynch Bage and was able to get an appointment for a tour that fitted our schedule, perfectly. The one hour tour had more than a dozen visitors, was guided in English, included visit to the vat room, cellar, decommissioned former multi-functioned room, and wine tasting. The pair of wine we tasted were 2011 Chateau Ormes Pez (St Estephe), also owned by Chateau Lynch Bage, and 2011 (Grand Vin) Chateau Lynch Bage Grand Cru Classe (Pauillac). Interestingly, no wine was available for purchase at the chateau. And being Easter Sunday, the wine shops in the village were closed.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(Chateaus in the slide show are Château Palmer, Church next to Château Margaux, Château MargauxChâteau Lanessan, Château Pichon Longueville, We could not name this, Château Lafite-Rothschild and Château Cos d’Estournel (Flag reflects ownership))

Pointe-de-Grave

After the tour, we were ready for some lunch at the only café open in the village. Alas, we just missed it, at 3pm, it was about to close up. We drove on and passed by multiple villages. It was all very quiet, “Ferme” was the sign we found on door after door. At Saint-Vivien-de-Medoc, a small town, we finally noticed some activities. Still nothing open, but there was a town fair going on. That seemed to be the weekend for town fair, we noticed town fair on that weekend multiple times, including in Bordeaux. So at Saint-Vivien-de-Medoc’s town fair, we found some relief in a sandwich and Nuttela crepe.

We continued on afterwards until we reached the tip of Medoc, Pointe de Grave, where Gironde ends, Atlantic begins and a long white sandy beach shimmers under the sun and stretches on. From there, ferry carries passengers to and from Royan across the water.

 

20160327_173455rs

 

Soulac-Sur-Mer

Soulac-Sur-Mer is a seaside town about 10 minutes south of Pointe-de-Grave, a pretty town with an architecture style that is different from its neighbors in the area. We stopped to have dinner before heading back to Chateau Julie.

 

20160327_180553rs20160327_182649rs

 

Day Two: Bordeaux City

Chateau Julie is 30km north east of Bordeaux city center and east of River Dordgone. There is a nice solution though thanks to the Park and Ride system. We drove to the closest tram station, parked and rode the tram to city center, and all for €4.5.

Being an Easter Monday, almost all attractions were closed. Still, we strolled across the city and put our tag at most of them anyway, including Cathedral of St Andrew, Tour Pey Berland (free standing belfry), Hotel de Ville (former Bishop’s residence), Basilica of St Michel, Basilica of St Seurin, Grand Theater (Opera House), Place de la Bourse, Esplanade des Quinconces (there was a large town fair there on that day and attracted many families), Palais Gallien(Roman Ruin), Pont de Pierre(early 1800 bridge) and Grosse Cloche(medieval clock tower).

Most of the attractions are within walking distance to each other, for those who cannot walk much, there are the trams to help. Bordeaux has indeed some impressive monuments. Some are in desperate need of cleaning up. Cathedral of St Andrew is being cleaned up and you can see the drastic difference between the different sections.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Dinner that night was at Café de la Gare 1900 in St Andre de Cubzac, recommended by Chateu Julie.

Day Three: St Emilion

Driving up to St Emilion from Chateau Julie, there were some nice country views of chateaus and vineyards, not long after leaving Chateau Julie and before reaching St Emilion.

But another medieval village? Yes it was a good thing we did allow time for St Emilion.

It is breathtaking! Among others, Collegiate Church and its Cloister is old and evocatively beautiful. Monolithic Church and its Bell Tower, closed that day and we did not get to see the inside, is mind boggling just with the little we did see. King’s Tower (Tour du Roy) is interesting in its own right and offers wonderful panoramic view. There is a tourist office located at Place du Clocher, the town square where the bell tower is, and you can get a free map that is helpful with rambling on your own. From the same square and the terrace of the hotel next to the tower, you get some wonderful views. One other thing, St Emilion could very well be the place of most wine shops per capita for there are so many of them packed in this little village.

We had a nice meal at Amelia Canta at Market Hall, with view of the Monolithic church, before having to leave.

20160329_130818rs20160329_141052rs20160329_143246rs20160329_144542rs

Advertisements

3 Responses

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: