Exploring The Bordeaux Wine Region
We explored the Bordeaux wine region in spring and it was a beautiful experience. The vineyards were perfect rows of vines and the wildflowers were blooming in stunning profusion. Fields of flowers spread beside French cottages with coloured shutters and surrounded picturesque villages. The wine was filled with floral notes and the cheese oozed with flavour. Bordeaux and its wine region are a province of France that you have to visit. Check out my guide below for exploring the Bordeaux wine region.
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When To Visit Bordeaux
You can explore the Bordeaux wine region in any season, but the most beautiful time to go will be Spring when all the fields are green and the wildflowers and roses are blooming. Summer is hot with good weather, but just remember that most of France shuts down in August for their annual summer holiday. You might have trouble visiting some wineries during this period. Autumn can be stunning photographically as the leaves on the trees and vines begin to change colour. It can become cold and wet after November, and some wineries will close their cellar doors, so winter is not the best time to visit Bordeaux.
How To Get Around The Bordeaux Wine Region
Exploring the Bordeaux wine region is easiest by car. It’s a large area with many places to visit. A car will allow you to explore at your own pace and give you flexibility. You can easily hire a car at the Bordeaux airport.
Depending on where you’re based, cycling the Bordeaux wine region can be a great option. Cycling is an invigorating way to see a destination, and an easy way for some fresh air and tranquillity (except on the hills). There is a popular bike route, the Roger Lapebie path, that goes through Bordeaux. You can use this to explore the Bordeaux wine region. Another beautiful route is to cycle from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion, just be prepared for hills at the end.
If you don’t have a car or the passion for cycling, the easiest way to visit the Bordeaux wine region is to base yourself in Bordeaux and then book tours. There are even a few electric bike tours if you want to combine a bit of both.
Best Things To Do In The Bordeaux Wine Region
Explore the City of Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a beautiful old French city. The avenues are long and the buildings are the classical pale stone with the blue/grey rooves. Cobbled laneways intersect these roads filled with boutiques and bakeries selling extravagant French delicacies. It’s a walkable city with several places and attractions to explore.
The Mirror Of Bordeaux
The Mirror of Bordeaux, or in French, the Miroir d’Eau, is an artistic water feature on the banks of the Garonne River in the centre of Bordeaux. It’s very new but has quickly become one of the best things to see in Bordeaux. It’s a fountain that can also turn into mist and when all the water starts draining away it turns into a reflective mirror of the historic Place de la Bourse in front of it. The mirror is best viewed at night, but watch out for when it shuts off at eight o’clock.
Monument Aux Girondins and Place Des Quinconces Bordeaux
The monument aux Girondins is located at the beginning of the Place Des Quinconces. It’s a mammoth fountain with bronze horses and a statue of liberty on the top. The rest of the Place Des Quincones is usually dedicated to the French Brocante, flea markets. Make sure you give yourself time to wander the stalls full of antiques. Some are dedicated to books and others to furniture. It’s all unique and beautifully French. The hardest part is admitting you can’t fit most of it in your suitcase.
Porte Dijeaux and Rue de la Porte Dijeaux
Porte Dijeaux is the old city gate of Bordeaux. Once you step through you are in the historic centre of Bordeaux and the streets are older and tightly packed together. The Rue de la Porte Dijeaux is lined with boutiques and cafes and restaurants. Go for a wander and window shop. Maybe even treat yourself to a French macaron while you explore.
Visiting Wineries in the Bordeaux Wine Region
One of the main reasons to visit Bordeaux is to explore the wine region of Bordeaux. It’s one of the most picturesque regions of France with rolling green hills and vineyards that extend for miles. White chateaus are interspersed amongst the fields and UNESCO listed villages perch on hilltops.
Unlike in some countries, it’s not always advisable to just turn up to a cellar door in France to try their wine. What is recommended is to book an appointment. You can just ask for a simple wine tasting for free, or pay a small fee and receive a tour of the winery and their full attention for an extensive tasting of their wines. A great website to find all the information on Bordeaux wineries and to book experiences is Rue Des Vignerons. I found it super useful as it shows what wines you can try, it has ratings and reviews, and will usually have information if they can do a visit in English.
I can only recommend the two wineries I visited, but I can highly recommend them. Both of them were fairy tale perfection and the hosts and tours were amazing.
I have a confession. I chose Chateau Mauvinon purely because of the photos of the ivy-covered French cottage. It’s definitely worth the visit. There was a little winery dog that was more than happy to make friends and Brigitte spoke great English. It’s a family vineyard that focuses on red wine only. The cellar is small but interesting and you get to learn about their processes.
Chateau Lamothe Bergeron
I wanted the fairy tale chateau that looks like a castle and this winery delivered. The Chateau Lamothe Bergeron is located in a verdant park with the vineyards surrounding it. They are a large establishment and the wine tour is extensive. You are escorted through the vineyards and taken to their sheds where they have interactive videos showing the winemaking process. The chateau focuses only on red wines and does them very well. A highlight for us was the picnic in the park that they offer. It was divine!
A Gourmet Experience At A Bordeaux Vineyard.
I highly recommend a gourmet food experience in the Bordeaux wine region. A lot of vineyards offer a food and wine pairing. It can be as simple as French cheeses paired with your wines or as luxurious as a gourmet picnic amongst the vines.
As I mentioned above, we booked the food and wine pairing at the Chateau Lamothe Bergeron. Once we’d completed the tour and the wine tasting we were given a picnic basket. It was a warm spring day and the wildflowers were blooming around us. The basket was full of different French cheeses, baguettes, cold cuts of meat, cherry tomatoes, French pâtés and decadent French pastries. It was also accompanied by one of their speciality red wines. Sitting under the blue sky, sipping on wine made from the earth around us, and stuffing ourselves with gourmet French treats was a highlight of the trip. You can book this particular experience here.
Saint Emilion is a medieval hilltop town in the Bordeaux wine region of France. It was world heritage listed by UNESCO in 1999 and this includes the vineyards around it. Saint Emilion needs to be added to any visit to the Bordeaux wine region. It is over 2000 years old and the town squares and streets or gorgeous. It’s a French dream filled with boutiques, wine shops, and cheese shops to tempt you for souvenirs. There are several attractions to visit, but you can also just wander. Book lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants and enjoy some authentic French cuisine.
Go For A Countryside Walk
I’ve already mentioned this a few times, but the Bordeaux wine region is super picturesque. Give yourself time to walk down the country lanes and wander through sleepy vineyards. The landscape is beautiful. In spring you’ll have wildflowers and the vibrant new greens. In summer you’ll have the muted greens and dried yellows and in autumn the browns and reds of fall.
Stay In A French Cottage
You can stay in chateaus or hotels in Bordeaux, but you can also stay in picture-perfect French cottages. We booked ours through Airbnb and fell in love immediately. Roses and ivy were growing up the pale bricks and it had wooden shutters. There were even friendly donkeys in the backyard that we fed. The house was located down a quiet country lane with vineyards all around it. We couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay and explore the Bordeaux wine region.