The Bordeaux region is very much valued by travellers choosing wine holidays in France and counts five certified wine routes. North to south, you'll follow on the route des Châteaux and famous Médoc wines, the route des Coteaux and the Blaye and Bourg vineyards or the route du Patrimoine for the unrivalled Saint- Émilion. The Bastides and Graves routes round up the offer, as well as the city of Bordeaux itself, at the crossroads of them all and cradle of all vineyards.
Each and every of these trails can be visited through different tours set up by the Bordeaux Tourist Office. Take advantage of this occasion to taste some great vintage wines, try out local specialities and meet passionate wine growers who'll be glad to share their knowledge of this world.
Médoc wines through the route des Châteaux
To discover the Châteaux trail, follow the left bank of the Gironde River from the estuary to the Pointe de Grave. From north to south, this 60-kilometre route mainly offers a selection of red wines, including some Bordeaux Grands Crus Classés (official classification) such as the Château Latour, the Château Margaux or the Château Mouton Rothschild. Many names that fire the imagination of wine lovers across the globe... If the word “château” mostly refers to a vineyard here, the region nevertheless counts a lot of gorgeous houses. Note that you can visit these “wine palaces”, especially in the Pauillac region.
Blaye and Bourg through the route des Coteaux
On the other side, the Gironde right bank develops into the Blayais and Bourgeais vineyards (“Côtes de Blaye” and “Côtes de Bourg” certifications). This Coteaux trail wanders through small villages displaying Romanesque-style churches (like in Bayon), valleys and remarkable archaeological sites. Here and there, you'll even be able to make out the ruins of some Gallo-Roman villas. The region is known for its full-bodied red wines and also for fruity whites. If you go through Blaye, do not forget to visit the 17th century citadel built by Vauban, which is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site.
Saint-Émilion wine through the route du Patrimoine
There is no need to be a vintage wine expert to know about Saint- Émilion. A one hour drive from Bordeaux, this splendid medieval city is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Located on top of a hill, Saint- Émilion consists of paved and steep alleyways, of monuments dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries as well as of deep underground tunnels that now house the wine cellars. Climb up the King's Tower, last Romanesque dungeon still intact in Gironde. From up there, you'll be able to gaze at the vineyards of the valley, as well as the lovely towns of Pomerol and Fronsac.
Graves and Sauternes wines through the route de Graves
The Graves trail takes you south of Bordeaux, on the edge of the Landes forest. This region offers the largest range of wines, from the multitudes of reds, to dry as well as sweet whites to be tasted along with local specialities – roasted leg of venison or sole in morels for instance. The first Girondin wine stocks were planted in this soil, so don't be surprised during your visit if you hear that the region is the cradle of all Bordeaux wines!
The Entre-deux-Mers area through the route des Bastides
The Fortresses trail will take you between the Dordogne and Gironde regions, a land scattered with abbeys, Romanesque churches and fortified towns – a sort of journey back in time! Famous writers like Montaigne and Mauriac praised the area, sometimes nicknamed the “Girdondin Tuscany” in relation with the landscape and sweet life. Take this opportunity to visit the Malagar castle, François Mauriac's old house now turned into the François Mauriac Centre, a cultural site exclusively dedicated to the artist work.