Bordeaux is famous for wine. It is the 2nd largest wine producing region in the world and here you will find many famous vinyards such as Château Lafite Rothschild and many others. I’m not a wine expert but love drinking a good wine and equally enjoy discovering a little about wines and history relating to the Bordeaux region.
On this motorhome journey we have visited three of the famous areas around Bordeaux and I’ll explain where we stayed.
Medoc is the name of the wine area on the left bank and north end of the Gironde estuary. Further south you will find Haut-Médoc. We took the ferry from Royan and after a short stay at Montalivet we took the D2 road south. This takes you past famous wine growing estates in Pauilac and Margaux. The opportunities to stop for wine tasting are endless and you will see some very grandeur properties such as Chateaux Latour.
Many wineries allow you to park your motorhome overnight amongst the vines. We parked overnight for free at Chateau D’Osmond. The owner gave us a personalised tour of the vines, the wine making process and a wine tasting. Needless to say a ‘free’ stay ended up costing us the price of 12 bottles of wine!
The small town of Blaye lies on the right bank of the Gironde and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The highlight is the imposing 17th century citadel that was built on rocky cliffs overlooking the river as a fortress to protect Bordeaux. It’s amazing how much of the citadel is still visible and you get great views of the river if you walk along the walls.
We stayed overnight on the motorhome parking area which is located just outside the citadel walls and 50 metres from the river. 24 hours parking costs only €3 and there is space for around 30 motorhomes.
It was the Romans who planted vines in this area over 2,000 years ago and today there are over 450 wine growers in the area. As you drive into Blaye from Bordeaux on the D137 there are many opportunities to stop for wine tasting. The wine from Blaye is predominantly Merlot and it is well known for its simple easy drinking red Bordeaux that is drunk by the local French population.
Saint-Émilion – a ‘must see’ place
After Blaye we drove to Saint-Émilion, another UNESCO world heritage site. It’s a famous wine village that I have wanted to visit for a while and it did not disappoint. The village is a stunning mix of medieval architecture, great monuments and world famous wines. Walking the narrow cobbled streets lined with high-end wine shops, shops selling regional produce and restaurants, is a joy, as is a visit to the 8th century church.
There are dozens of wine shops in Saint-Émilion all trying to offer more high-end shop front gloss than their competitors.
The Romans planted vines here, in the sand, clay and limestone soil. The unique micro-climate has made the wine here amongst the most expensive in the world. I saw bottles of Petrus 2000 on sale for €6,600 as well as many more reasonably priced bottles! The price list was outside the shop to spare customers the embarrassment of asking for the price.
Where to stay in Saint-Émilion
There is a small motorhome aire in the village but we stayed at the Yelloh Village campsite, about 1.5 miles north of the village. We were very impressed with this campsite. At only €19 a night (with an ACSI discount card) it offered a heated swimming pool, free canoeing on the lake, a small supermarket, a very good restaurant, a free shuttle bus into Saint-Émilion and a free wine tasting. They also offered free escorted walks through local vineyards to the chateau on the hill. The owner there also offered free wine tasting. The showers were clean, hot and very powerful and at the washing up sinks they had two dish washing machines available (€2 charge).
The Bordeaux wine region is a great place to explore by motorhome. There are many overnight parking motorhome areas as well as good campsites. In addition to offering world famous wine the region offers cosmopolitan cities, medieval villages, miles of beaches and good scenery. What more could you wish for!
There are, of course, other wine growing regions in the Bordeaux area which we didn’t get chance to explore. Maybe next time!