Category: Bordeaux

Wish for France

Day 2: Wine Tour Bordeaux Cité de Vin

Three days is the perfect length of time to spend in Bordeaux if you want to get a taste for the city. On this visit I spent Day 1 learning about the secrets of great wine

Day 2: Wine Tour Bordeaux Cité de Vin

The ultimate museum for wine lovers! Immerse yourself in wine history, wines of the world and more in this ultra-modern experience made for learning and fun.

 

Wine Tour Bordeaux

La Cité de Vin

If you ever imagined a Disney World for wine lovers, La Cité de Vin would be it. 

Wine Tour Bordeaux

La Cité de Vin entrance

From the grand front entrance to the wine bar that is at the top of the towering 8-story building, there are visual and sensual activities throughout. 

Wine Tour Bordeaux

The Belvedere where you can taste a selection of the world’s best wines

For the ticket price of 20 euros, you can spend hours wandering through the massive exhibition spaces or focus on your area of interest. Twenty themed spaces — some within bottle-shaped stations, others with audiovisual productions — enable you to self discover the influence of wine on world culture, history, geography, arts and sciences.

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For a special occasion, imagine lunch or dinner here. It is accompanied with a 360 view of the nearby area of Bordeaux and the Garonne. 

Wine Tour Bordeaux

Wine Tour Bordeaux

Dinner with a 360-view

Looking for a favorite vintage? The circular”wine cellar” has a collection of 14,000 bottles on display and for sale.

Wine Tour Bordeaux

Wines from around the world

Simply follow the map

Wine Tour Bordeaux

“Map” of wines for sale at La Cité de Vin

Wine Tour Bordeaux

Expensive wines for expensive tastes

Architects from Paris won the design competition for imaging La Cité de Vin and the building was opened to the public June 1, 2016.  The shape of the futuristic museum symbolizes “knotted vine stocks, wine turning in the glass, the swirls and eddies of the Garonne river.

Wine Tour Bordeaux

At the top, movable glass panels aid in ventilation. A marvel of ingenuity and sustainability!

Wine Tour Bordeaux

Glass panels that move for airflow

If you think it can’t get any better that to visit Le Cité de Vin, it can! There are temporary exhibits such as “Bistro” that are scheduled throughout the year in the art gallery.

Wine Tour Bordeaux

“Bistro” Exhibit

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Ready for Day 3 in Bordeaux?  Stay tuned …. 
Wine Tour Bordeaux

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Wine Tour Bordeaux: The Secrets of Great Wine

 

Now those who follow the Barefoot Blogger know that I’m a wine lover, not a wine connoisseur. That didn’t stop me from a Secrets of Great Wine tour Bordeaux

Offered by the Tourist Office in Bordeaux, the tour started with a walk through the historic wine merchant district, the Chartrons. We traced the route of wine — from barrels that came into warehouses straight from the fields, to barrels that left the district to be transported around the world from the Gironde River.

Wine tour Bordeaux

Tour of the Chartrons

As good luck would have it, the guide for the tour was a direct descendant of one of the wine merchants of the district from 1812 to 2004 —  the Calvets. Along the way Mme Calvet told us about her family life during the time when the merchant trade and the neighborhood were bustling with activity — before warehouses were converted to schools and offices and apartments.

Wine tour Bordeaux

Walls along the walkways in the Chartrons, reminders of the days when barrels of wine were stored

As a child, Mme Calvet lived in the building that now houses the Musée du Vin et du Négoce. In fact before her father (Patreice Calvet) retired, the father and daughter designed the museum at the behest of the city. They used family artifacts to tell the story of the merchant trade of the past.

Wine tour Bordeaux

Mme. Calvet shared the memory of her father tasting wine each morning. He would drink from small glasses lined up on a table in his office. He’d spit out the wine after each taste, then pass judgement on each before selling new wines to his customers. At that time, the wine merchant was solely responsible for the reputation of the wines — not the vineyard. The merchant produced the wine, barreled it, aged it and sold it. It was not until the eighteenth century that bottles were used to age wine!

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Next stop on the Wine Tour Bordeaux

Following a wine tasting at the museum and lunch at a neighborhood cafe, those of us on the morning tour joined a larger group for a 40 km drive to the small town of Saint Emilion.The rainy day drive into the countryside beyond Bordeaux was a perfect time to relax.

Wine tour Bordeaux

 

The route was through miles and miles of vineyards. Along the way, it was obvious that the recent cold snap had severely damaged much of the crop.

Wine tour Bordeaux

Acres of damaged vines due to frost.

Saint-Emilion, the Medieval Town

Soon we arrived at Saint Emilion. Named for Émilion, a cave-dwelling monk from Brittany who created a monastery there in the mid- 700s, Saint Emilion has long been of interest to travelers and pilgrims. The site is, in fact, a stopping point along the Santiago de Compostela route. It is said Emilion escaped persecution by the Benedictines and lived an ermetic life here where he performed occasional miracles. Early pilgrims came to the town on the chance they could be healed or saved. After his death, the monolithic Church of Saint Emilion was built by his followers (photos no longer allowed). The cross-shaped church (125′ x 66′) that is carved through limestone rock is the largest of its kind in Europe. Today tourists flock here to see the cave where he lived (the Hermitage); the underground church that includes the catacombs; and the Holy Trinity Chapel that was built the thirteenth century. The town is a UNESCO site, along with the surrounding vineyards (the “jurisdiction).

Wine tour Bordeaux

Entrance to the Monolithic Church

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Saint-Emilion, the Vineyards

Saint Emilion vines were among the earliest cultivated in the region — first by the Romans, later harvested by monks. Today the area is protected as a UNESCO site and is one of the largest wine producers in Bordeaux. They have the widest range of wines and styles, as well.  The distinctions are dictated by both the soil and terrain — sandy or limestone rock — and choices made by the wine maker.

Wine tour Bordeaux
Wine tour Bordeaux

Our tour made a leisurely stop at Château Haut-Veyrac, a Grand Cru producer of fine wines of the highest quality.  The energetic and knowledgeable guides from the vineyard stepped us through the process — from grapes and vines to bottles on the shelf.

At Château Haut-Veyrac, they are held to standards above the norm, intended to distinguish the area’s finer wines from more everyday wines.

Wine tour Bordeaux
After the lessons on wine-making and the tour, it was time for a tasting and more lessons. It’s all about color, aromas and your own tasting impressions.
Wine tour Bordeaux
So much wine, so little time!

There are not enough hours in the day to learn and experience the secrets of Bordeaux wines. Interestingly, one new fact stands out. Do you know there are often rose bushes in a vineyard. It’s because roses are susceptible to fungi and other diseases that affect grapevines. The health of the rose bush indicates good or bad conditions for vines.

And I thought they were just for decoration!

Wine tour Bordeaux

Wine tour Bordeaux
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Bordeaux city tour

Bordeaux Day 3: The Magnificent City

What can I say about the city side of Bordeaux other than “I love it!”? 

If I was in the business of designing a modern city, it would be just like Bordeaux.

Bordeaux city tour

Bordeaux city tour

Bordeaux city tour

Perhaps that’s why the mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Marie Juppé, is thought of like a rock star. He is considered a monumental player in promoting and revitalizing the city — from infrastructure to visionary new projects such as the La Cité de Vin.

Bordeaux city tour

La Cité de Vin

Throughout its existence Bordeaux has been a city fraught with war and nation-changing. From 300BC when a Celtic tribe settled Burdigala through the eighth century, Bordeaux was ruled by Romans (the capital of Aquitaine), the Vandals, the Visigoths, Franks and marched on by the Muslims, Basques, and the Vikings. (Click on the highlighted links for more history information.)

Port Cailhau, shown below, is part of the city wall from 1496

 

Bordeaux city tour

Porte Cailhau

In the 12th Century, Bordeaux gained importance throughout Europe with the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to the heir of the French throne, Louis VI who became King Louis VII. Eleanor later divorced Louis and married Henry of Anjou, aka King Henry II of England.

Some girls have all the luck!

OK … right … Eleanor also spent a good amount of time fighting in the Crusades and years in prison, but still …

Cathédrale Saint-André is the site of the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII, the future king of France, in 1137.

Bordeaux city tour

CATHÉDRALE SAINT-ANDRÉ (Bordeaux Cathedral)

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Bordeaux city tour: 19th Century Architecture

Bordeaux hit its stride in the 1800s when most of the city’s downtown buildings were built with such elegance that it became the model for transforming Paris to a “modern” capital.  Today many of those structures still frame the boulevards, pedestrian walks, neighborhoods and parks.

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From the fine details of art and color found on private homes and public buildings, to the massive and ornate statues and churches, Bordeaux is a masterpiece of art and architecture.

Bordeaux city tour

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Church of Saint-Louis in Chartrons

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One of the places I walked past dozens of times was the Opera House. My hotel was only a few steps away. I didn’t plan ahead and there were no tickets available for the current performance; however I sneaked into the lobby to take a few photos. Photos inside the Opera area were not allowed. (Be sure to check out the Opera’s website)

Bordeaux city tour

Opéra National de Bordeaux

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A memorial to the Girondins, a political faction during the French Revolution, is the centerpiece at the Place des Quinconces and one of the most vivid reminders of the French Revolution. 

Bordeaux city tour

Monument aux Girondins at Place des Quinconces

And who isn’t amazed at the Miroir d’Eau — the Water Mirror created in 2006 along the UNESCO sited Port de la Lune between The Place del la Bourse and the River Garonne?

Bordeaux city tour: Food and shopping

Restaurants, food and places to shop are just as diverse and colorful as the rest of the city. Here are some of the stops I made through the city.

A cheese shop here …

Bordeaux city tour

Goat cheeses

A canele store there …

(a pastry that’s a legend – read more here)

 

Bordeaux city tour

Bordeaux city tour

Canele de Bordeaux with macaron and almond treat

Unique shopping galleries, big name brands and charming boutiques fill the town.

 

Bordeaux city tour

 

Bordeaux city tour

 

Bordeaux city tour

Bordeaux city tour

Bordeaux city tour: At night

Perhaps the most memorable is Bordeaux at night.

 

Bordeaux city tour

Opéra National de Bordeaux

Bordeaux city tour

Bordeaux city tour

Place de la Bourse

This isn’t a fraction of the sights and sounds of Bordeaux. I could go on and on. Now you know why I must return! 

 

More about Bordeaux:

3 Perfect Days in Bordeaux

Wine Tour Bordeaux: The Secrets of Great Wine

Day 2: Wine Tour Bordeaux Cité de Vine

 

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Bordeaux travel guide

Bordeaux Travel Guide: 3 Perfect Days

There are so many places to visit in France it’s difficult to decide where to go next. So when a friend suggested Bordeaux, I said “when?!”  Although I could have stayed much longer, a 3-day itinerary was perfect. It gave enough of a taste of the city: its wine, its culture, its history and its beauty, to let me know I have to return again.

Here’s a Bordeaux travel guide with my itinerary and points of interest each day.

Day 1: The Secrets of Great Wine tour   

Offered by the Bordeaux Tourist Office, the Secrets of Great Wine tour includes a walk through the Chartrons district and the Musée du Vin et du Négoce; lunch at a neigborhood cafe; a visit to the medieval town of Saint Emilion; and a wine-tasting tour of Château Haut-Veyrac — a Grand Cru vineyard.

Bordeaux travel guide

Day 2: La Cité de Vin 

The ultimate museum for wine lovers! Immerse yourself in wine history, wines of the world and more in this ultra-modern experience made for learning and fun.

Bordeaux travel guide

La Cité de Vin

Day 3: Bordeaux City Tour 

On your own or guided by English-speaking guides, there are tours for your every interest. Check with the Bordeaux Tourist Office Mine was designed for a taste of history and architecture — Place des Quinconces, Place du Palais, Place de la Bourse, The Opera House,

A City Pass in a must! You can hop on-off trams that run through town day and night, plus admission to various museums and exhibitions.

 

Bordeaux travel guide

Place de la Bourse

 

Stayed tuned for more on each day’s excursions….

Bordeaux travel guide

 

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