Trip in Bordeaux (3/3)

WHERE TO STAY DURING VACATIONS ?

I will just suggest some nice hotels in or around Bordeaux but I must warn you that I have not stayed at all of them myself, because I live here!

Very nice, beautiful and … expensive : « Le grand hôtel » (www.ghbordeaux.com/fr/index.php), in front of the big theater, in the center of Bordeaux. It’s a five star hotel with pool and spa, amazing, with everything to do in the town just at your feet.

If you prefer to be a little bit out of Bordeaux but stay in a charming hotel, I suggest 2 different addresses : « Le Saint James » in Bouliac (3 miles from Bordeaux) with an excellent view of the town (www.saintjames-bouliac.com/fr/index.php) or « La réserve du pavillon chateau raba » in Talence (3 miles from Bordeaux) in a beautiful old house (www.hotel-bordeaux-raba.com).

If you prefer to stay out of town in the vineyards, I suggest 4 hotels, about 20 miles from Bordeaux.

If you love to play golf on vacation, you should go and stay in one of these two hotels, in Medoc’s vineyards :

www.hotel-golf-du-medoc.com or www.relais-margaux.fr

If you aren’t a golfer, I suggest two wonderful hotels close to the very famous vineyards like Smith Haut Lafitte for the first one and Saint Emilion for the second one :

 www.sources-caudalie.com or www.grand-barrail.com

If you don’t want to spend all your money in the hotel, I can give you some advices. First, I always surf on a french web site, www.fr.lastminute.com,  before going somewhere on vacation to see if they have a top secret hotel in the town. What is it ? The best hotels in France have usually some free bedrooms but, because of their standing (4 or 5 stars), they can’t say openly that they sell those bedrooms for 50% less than the real price, especially during the low season. So, check it first. You will know the name of your hotel just some days before the arrival but for sure it will be a really good one for the price of a 2 stars hotel.

My second bit of advice is to go and sleep in a very original place : in a tree. I’ve tried it for you and it’s fantastic. You will be in your second childhood and  the kids love that (over 4 years old for best security)! It’s less expensive than a classic charming hotel and you will take pleasure to find your breakfast outside after a good night in the middle of the nature. Well, it’s true, except if there is a storm during the night like I had… for my wedding’s anniversary !! www.naturacabana.fr.

My last advice is to go and sleep in a nice holiday cottage in a wine castle, where you can have a wine tasting in front of a beautiful castle. For that solution, my choice is for my friends, Nathalie and Hubert in their wine castle « Chateau Courtade Dubuc »  (www.courtade-dubuc.com) in Camblanes et Meynac, located 10 minutes from Bordeaux. Hubert is an enthusiastic wine maker and he will explain how he creates merlots and cabernets from start to ending….in your glass! He and Nathalie gave us a wine tasting of his vintages and then showed us his vats, barrels and warehouse where he actually produces Bordeaux wine. You can take home some excellent bottles for around 8 Euros and you’ll be able to tell your friends you met the winemaker!

Trip in Bordeaux (2/3)

THE VINEYARDS

There are three areas you should visit : Saint Emilion, Sauternes and the Medoc.

Saint Emilion is a medieval village classified by UNESCO as humanity world heritage, located just 28 miles from Bordeaux. It’s a really picturesque place where you can walk on cobblestoned streets, see a monolithic church, a hidden convent behind the tourist office, the old wash house (laverie), the kings tower, a panoramic view from bell tower square and, of course, all the wonderful vineyards of red wine like Cheval Blanc or La Tour Grand Faurie. You should taste the other specialty of Saint Emilion, a small cake made of almonds. Stop at the Laguiole store to buy some hand made knives made in the store. my last advice is not to go in the village with a stroller but instead to carry your baby, it’s less sport… (My arms remembered it).

To eat, I suggest going to try « Le Clos du Roy » (www.leclosduroy.fr). The food is fantastic, especially Bordeaux’s « canelés » (it’s a little cake to eat with your coffee or tea) and the strawberry macaroon dessert. It’s not too expensive as long as you stick with the set menu for around 30 Euros. In France, all the restaurants offer « le Menu » which from the Carte (what we call a Menu) you have a set price for an appetizer (entree in French), Plat (main dish) and dessert or cheese for one price. It is alot of delicious, gourmet food  at a really great price. They also serve it in 3 courses so your stomach has some time to digest properly and you won’t feel full after your meal. Just really happy….!

If you want to buy some good bottles of wine, go to the museum and wine store just behind the tourist office or, for the best way, go and visit a wine castle around the village. My favorite is Laniote Castle (www.laniote.com), because the wine is fantastic, it’s a « Grand Cru « , and the owner is really funny. Your kids will not be annoyed during the visit, because he loves making magical tricks and he will give you a rebus card. If you want to see more about Saint Emilion, I suggest you check out this video about this wonderful village : http://www.saint-emilion-tourisme.com/fr/videos.html

Sauternes is a cute little village in the south of Bordeaux where you can find the most famous syrupy white wine like Yquem (www.yquem.fr). Like almost every village in France, Sauternes has its perfectly picturesque church and limestone fountain. You can walk around the village in the vineyard or on hiking trails. I recommnend eating at the restaurant Le Saprien (www.saprien.free.fr). If you like sport, you can also arrange a boat tour on the river.

The Medoc between Bordeaux and the Atlantic Ocean is a really famous vineyard with famous castles like Margaux, Saint Julien or Saint Estèphe. More than the wine tastings, you should arrange for a cultural tour to go and visit Margaux castle (www.chateau-margaux.com) and Beychevelle castle which is known as a little Versailles (www.beychevelle.com). If you have more time, take a day to go to Lacanau and see the stunning beaches of the Atlantic coastline, and you can even try surfing in the glamourous seaside resort of Biarritz.

Trip in Bordeaux (1/3)

Have you already heard of Bordeaux’s wines ? I’m sure you have. I invite you to follow me in a trip around Bordeaux and its vineyards. As I have a lot of things to show you, I will write 3 articles on that subject. You will first find some good places to visit in the town (1/3) and, in a second time, I will suggest you some really nice spots in the vineyards to discover (2/3). To finish, you will see some nice places to stay for your vacations (3/3).

BORDEAUX

Bordeaux is an amazing town classified by the UNESCO as world heritage, where you will have a really good time. I live in this urban area of 840 000 inhabitants for 12 years now and there is so many things to do and see here that I can’t imagine leave the south west of France. When you arrived in Bordeaux by plane or by train, take the tram and go directly in the center of Bordeaux. Stop at « Place de la Bourse ». You can discover this wonderful place with the Haussman buildings and the fountain in the middle and, on the other side of the road, the quays, the moon port. You can have a nice walk in front of the Garonne river in the middle of the gardens from the Stone Bridge (built at Napoleon’s reign) to the water mirror,  where you can play with kids. If you like to walk, you can follow the way until the outlet stores for shopping. If not, stay around the Place de la Bourse and visit the Porte Cailhau, one of the old door to enter the historic heart of Bordeaux. Walk in the old and tinny streets until the Place Saint Pierre and the Place du Parlement. If you are hungry, I suggest you to stop at The french restaurant « Le Parlement des Graves » (www.leparlementdesgraves.fr), where you will find a very good food, a nice selection of wines and it’s not too expensive. After lunch, you can continue the visit with the Sainte Catherine street, which is the longest pedestrian street in Europe for shopping (1.24 miles). At the end of Sainte Catherine street, you will arrive on Place Tourny with an amazing view on the big theater, builded in 1780. After that, follow your way until the Place des Quinconces with the Girondins’ fountain. If you haven’t eat yet, I suggest you to enter in a french brasserie, just like in Paris, « La brasserie l’Orléans » (www.brasserie-lorleans.fr), where you can eat very good food with a very good service. When you come in Bordeaux, don’t forget to go and visit the cathedrale, in front of the city hall, the wine world city with its museum and the Palais Gallien, a Roman arena of the third century. To end that fantastic day, I invite you to have dinner on the other side of the river, in the french restaurant « La petite gironde » (www.lapetitegironde.fr) where you will have very good meals with a fantastic view on Bordeaux in a nice garden.

If you want to have a first good idea of the city, you should watch that video by the touristic office of Bordeaux : http://www.bordeaux-tourisme.com and clic on « Voir la video de Bordeaux » at the left bottom of the web site.