This summer, I had the chance to go on the trip of a lifetime – exploring the Bordeaux-Aquitaine region of France as part of an exciting project with Atout France, the French Tourism Office located in the U.S. This project, hashtagged #VisitFrenchWine, explored the dynamic and exciting relationship France has to the global wine market.
I’ve been a wine enthusiast for quite a few years now and have almost always found myself drawn to French wine (Côtes du Rhône and Bordeaux are among my favorites). When Atout France offered me the chance at a little grape education, I pounced on the opportunity!
Arriving in Bordeaux was a whirlwind. I dropped my luggage off at the modern Seeko’o Hotel and hopped into Désirée, a bright yellow vintage French 2cv6 car born in 1976, for an immersive tour of Bordeaux’s fantastic sights. If you visit Bordeaux, you absolutely must take this tour – it was marvelous!
The following morning, I took a biking tour of some of the more alternative and artistic places the city had to offer. My guide, Véronique Baggio, was an absolute dream – so informed and enthusiastic! Among the spots we saw, the Garage Moderne was my favorite; it’s a community-based mechanical workshop where “students” at any level can learn how to fix anything on wheels! Afterward, I noshed on lunch and an expansive view of the city from the rooftop restaurant at Mama Shelter Hotel followed by a trip to the Cité Du Vin, Bordeaux’s fabulous new venue to showcase global wines and educate consumers along the way!
My last day in Bordeaux proper was a blast – with visits to Bernard Magrez Cultural Institiue, a flight simulation with the cool guys over at Aviasim, and dinner at one of the coolest cocktail bars I’ve ever been to – Point Rouge! They have over 100 references, a total must visist!
The next 36 hours of my trip were spent in Saint-Emilion, the medieval town surrounded by epic chateaux and vast vineyards. In addition to the town itself, the Saint-Emilion winegrowing area has been listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO, encompassing the surrounding villages, which are able to include “Saint-Emilion” in the names of their wines.
I took a tour of the 30-acre Château de Candale, operated by the cooper Jean-Louis Vicard. The property even boasts a bistro-style restaurant – L’Atelier de Candale – that offered stunning views of the property.
While in Saint-Emilion, I had the incredible opportunity to lodge with the Duffau family who run the famed Château La Mothe du Barry. Monsieur and madame Duffau took me on a tour of their massive vineyard and hosted me for a tasting and dinner at their beautiful estate.
The next morning, I traveled by car to the coastal town of Arcachon where the style, charm, and beauty of the Belle Epoche reign supreme. I spent the day touring the oyster beds (with real oyster farmers!) in the Bay of Arcachon and checked out the lighthouse at Cap-Ferret!
My wonderful guide, Christel Santurenne, met me at my hotel, the Hôtel de la Plage, and gave me unparalleled opportunities to explore Arcachon – like climbing the Grande Dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe, and enjoying a 30-minute over the Bassin d’Arcachon with the crew over at Aeroclub de la Teste de Buch.
I can’t thank Atout France enough for giving me this incredible opportunity and allowing me the chance to explore some of highlights of the Bordeaux-Aquitaine region. I would very highly suggest to any one (wine enthusiasts, especially) to consider Bordeaux, Saint-Emilion, and Arcachon for your next trip!