May 11th, 2017, 06:02 PM

Bordeaux: 48 Hours In France's Biggest Wine Region

By Alix Creel
Image Credit: Arrowheadwine.com
A guide for a last minute escape from Paris

It was a rainy, gloomy Wednesday in Paris and I was feeling like a needed an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It was too late in the week to book a trip where I would have to fly, so I thought about where it would be easiest to go by train. Most importantly, I wanted to go somewhere in France I hadn't visited before. After looking at last minute ticket prices, Bordeaux ended up being the easiest and cheapest city. Bordeaux is located around 580 km southwest of Paris and is known as the largest wine growing region in France. Bordeaux is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and has recently become a top destination in France due to its restoration; there are many preserved historical buildings and beautiful landmarks. Before leaving, I tried to do some research to ensure that I would visit all of the best spots in the city. Turns out, there are way more chateaux than I imagined, and many are closed on weekends. I decided to just get there, and ask around. A friend of mine from AUP joined me, as well as our two puppies. They were able to go on the TGV train with us for only 7 Euros. 

Image Credit: Foodieinfrance.com

We picked a place to stay that was just outside of the city, approximately 15 minutes by car. We wanted to have fresh air, but also have the luxury of a short trip into the city. We got there on Friday afternoon and checked into our luxury hotel, The Saint James. It was a very nice place, and we were lucky enough to get a last-minute deal on the price. We decided to have a low-key dinner near the hotel at Café de l'Espérance. After dinner, we walked around the chateaux grounds and explored their vineyards. Below is a view from our room, as you can see the City of Bordeaux in the distance.

Image Credit: Alix Creel

We woke up the next morning and had breakfast at the hotel. Then, we asked the front desk what châteaux in Bordeaux were the must sees.  She looked at us and said, "Boh, there are many and the majority are closed on weekends." So, our 'waiting until we got there' tactic was not the smartest idea and I don't recommend it. After doing our own research, we discovered the Château La Dominique. They had availability for a wine tour and tasting, as well as a delicious restaurant called La Terrasse. Win-win! We drove to Saint-Emilion where the chateau was located, as well as many of the famous others. The drive was about 20 minutes, and on the way, we passed at least twenty other vineyards. 

Image Credit: Château La Dominique

After indulging in a day of wine and food at Chateau Dominique, we headed back to Le Saint James and took a nap. A very much needed after an afternoon of wine tasting. That night, we went into the city to check out Belle Campagne, a highly recommend restaurant. This restaurant is located in Bordeaux's Saint Pierre district, which is becoming to be known as the hip district of the city, who knew Bordeaux could be hip?! The waiter was very eager to explain to us what makes Belle Campagne so special. The menu changes every two months and offers dishes made from fresh and seasonal, local products. He mentioned that the restaurant only works with producers within 250 km of Bordeaux, to ensure the freshness and quality of their products. After an exquisite meal, it was very obvious that Belle Campagne prides itself on their promise: fresh, farm to table food. Everything was spectacular.

Image Credit: Odd-aesthetics.fr

Our last day, we were eager to find a beautiful chateau to spend our last few hours at. At Chateau Dominique, our tour guide gave us a few recommendations, which included Château Smith Haut Lafitte. We called before to see if we could reserve a spot for the wine tasting, but unfortunately, it was full (probably a good thing for us.) We decided to still go and explore the grounds. The Chateau was about a 15-minute drive from Le Saint JamesAs we arrived, what stood before us was a beautiful Snow White-esque chateau. We were able to go inside and explore the vineyards. Thankfully, there was hotel Les Sources de Caudalie right next to the Chateau. We had heard of it before, so we headed over there to check out the restaurant. We attempted to eat at the fine dining part, but they would not allow our furry little friends. So, we were advised to go to Rouge, another restaurant in the large hotel. Rouge offered a range of tapas, as well as a selection of wine from the nearby Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte. So in the end, we were able to do a little wine tasting of our own.

Image Credit: Château Smith Haut Lafitte

After indulging in another amazing meal, and another amazing bottle of vin, we walked around the property, dreading our TGV ride back to Paris. Breathing the fresh air and getting out of the hustle and bustle of Paris is necessary every so often and I highly recommend planning your own trip to Bordeaux.