A Day in Bordeaux: A Wine and Food Lover's Dream Trip

A blogger submission to Snooth's itinerary contest

 


At some point in every wine lovers journey, she becomes curious about some of the most famous and revered wines on the planet, Bordeaux. Even for those who don’t drink a lot of Bordeaux wines, it is still natural to be curious about the region and wines that are so well known throughout the planet.
 
In the spring of 2008 I was lucky enough to visit this incredible region and experience some of the wines and food that make it worth the journey across the sea. Below is an itinerary of what I would describe as a wine and food lovers dream day in Bordeaux.
 
In my opinion, if you’re going to visit a region like Bordeaux, go big and make an appointment to tour at least one of the great First Growth wineries!  Really, how often are you going to have a chance to visit and taste these famous wines? Chances are, not very often unless you own a fine wine shop or you’re a Texas oil tycoon.
 
My recommendation would be to start with (in my opinion) the one with the greatest stories to tell, Château Mouton Rothschild - located just northwest of the city of Bordeaux, in the village of Pauillac in the Médoc region. A visit to Château Mouton Rothschild provides everything you would expect from visiting a famous château in France - stunning architecture, great history, a grand tour matched with graceful hospitality.
 
During the tour you will learn about Baron Philippe de Rothschild, the innovator behind this famous brand, tour the pristine Grand Chai (a 100 meter barrel hall), admire the history and stories behind their labels, tour the Museum of Wine in Art (a collection of objects collected by the family all devoted to wine), and end with a tasting of the world famous wine. Although wine was not available to purchase, I left my visit with a much deeper appreciation for the history behind the brand as well as a lingering taste of the wine on my palate! The museum tour alone makes it worth the visit.
 
On your way back to the city of Bordeaux make sure to make an appointment to visit another of the classified, yet lesser well known, winery, Château Branaire-Ducru. Classified as one of the ten 'Fourth Growths' (Quatrièmes Crus) in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, a tour and tasting here will provide another look at what makes this region, and its wines, so special. Less formal and more casual, you will receive a tour of the production facility, a sense of the history behind the château, and a taste of some of their wines (subject to what is available at the time), along with the chance to purchase wine.
 
After two tours under your belt you are likely to be hungry and ready for some lunch! An absolute must stop on your itinerary is La Tupina, located a short walk from the city center of Bordeaux in what I would describe as an alleyway (although it is more commonly described as being located in a “small street”).
 
The quaint restaurant provides a rustic feel inside filled with aromas of freshly roasted meat and vegetables. The ambiance was warm and the service was great and unpretentious. Although they were not available on my visit, I have heard phenomenal things about their fries cooked in duck fat (um, yes please!).
 
After lunch take a long stroll around the gorgeous city (that looks like a mini Paris), do some window shopping, and drink an espresso (or two) before heading down to your final tour and tasting.
 
Like I said, when in Bordeaux you gotta go big, so why not finish the day with one more tour at the well known Château Haut-Brion, the oldest of the First Growths located within the borders of the city of Bordeaux. When driving up to the gates of the winery you feel like you’re still in the city, but after entering onto the property you are transformed to a quiet and grand countryside feel with views of the spectacular château and vineyards.  You will receive a private tour of the property, the gorgeous (barrel room), and tasting of their wine.  If you’re lucky you may also get to witness barrel making in progress, as Haut Brion is one of the few chateaux in Bordeaux that have their own cooper on site.  For a wine geek like myself this is a very cool thing to witness.
 
After a long and exciting day full of formal tours and tastings its time for a casual dinner!  If you’re a cheese lover (and who isn’t?) you must check out Baud et Millet, back in the Bordeaux city center. This small restaurant with a neighborhood feel houses over 100 different cheeses in their cheese cellar along with an equally large selection of wines to choose from. The cheese cellar is an all you can eat buffet and the wines you don’t select via menu, but instead you peruse the selection on the shelves along the entryway to the restaurant, grab the bottle you want, bring it to your table and your server will open it. 

If you’re like me and too indecisive for such a large buffet, you can select from their entrees, which provide many options for baked cheese casserole type dishes that are warm, cheesy and delicious.  If you select from the menu you still have to at least check out the cheese cellar! It is quite a sight.
 
If you’re in more of a carnivorous mood then head a few blocks away to L'Entrecote instead, but expect a long queue when you arrive (don’t worry, it goes fast). Don’t expect a menu with a long list of options here.  Instead you have one meal option at this popular spot - meat and fries at one price.  To start you are presented with a green salad, followed by a big skillet of steak, and all you can eat fries all at one price (16 euro). My husband has a weakness for meat and I have a weakness for fries, so we were both equally satisfied here. The restaurant even has it's own brand of wine, so your choice is equally basic; red or white. Simple, straightforward, and yes fun and delicious.
 
After a day with a formal itinerary your next day should be casual, relaxed and impromptu. I recommend a leisurely drive to the right bank to the small and adorable walking town of Saint-Émilion.  Bring your walking shoes as this small town is very hilly with windy roads (this is no place for heals!). Go without an agenda and just take in the breathtaking views of the vineyards and hillsides, and shop among the dozens of local wine shops. I promise you, you will find some awesome little gems that you will never see back in the states. In addition to wine, the town is also famous for their macaroons. So while you’re there you have to stop for some of the delicious local treats. You have earned it after all with all of the walking you’ll be doing! To me, a fun, informal day is a great way to follow one with a strict itinerary! Just explore and let yourself get lost in the beauty of the region.
 
For most wine lovers, a visit to a region like Bordeaux is not an everyday (nor annual) experience. For most of us it is a once in a lifetime trip. So if you among that group then I say go big and make the most of your trip to the region. Visit some of the most famous chateaux while also checking out spots not on anybody’s agenda. That’s how you find exciting new gems. Most importantly, take it all in, enjoy the abundance of great food and wine, and have fun!
 
Cheers

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Comments

  • great article Mary. It was like I was there with you. Someday we hope to viist in person.

    Jul 08, 2011 at 12:24 PM


  • This was a magical trip I lived vicariously through you and Sean! The fantastic cheese picture that hangs in my house is a daily reminder too. Thanks so much for sharing.....

    Jul 08, 2011 at 12:25 PM


  • Snooth User: ErinEM
    882257 1

    I'm ready to book my trip to Bordeaux! This sounds fantastical! Now I'm craving steaks and fries too...

    Jul 08, 2011 at 12:29 PM


  • Snooth User: newmiller
    299786 16

    a lot has happened since 2008.....for starters all the things you spoke about at Ch. Mouton Rothschild are closed for renovation.

    Jul 08, 2011 at 1:04 PM


  • Yes I did read that the wine museum at Mouton Rothschild is closed at the moment for renovations. That is a bummer. There are still, however, many wonderful places to visit to make a trip there worthwhile!

    Jul 08, 2011 at 1:15 PM


  • We go to Angouleme (about an hour away) often to visit friends, and their wines of choice are always Bordeaux, and specifically from Saint-Emilion. I love those wines and reading your article made me realize that we really must do a tour next time we are there. There are wonderful choices to be had at reasonable prices, and I am going to save your article Mary for our next visit! Thanks for the info...great.

    Jul 08, 2011 at 1:17 PM


  • Fun read! Makes me want to travel more!! ; )

    Jul 08, 2011 at 1:25 PM


  • Snooth User: SeaninBDL
    882324 1

    Outstanding....especially the views from Saint-Émilion. I can smell the macaroons.......thanks for sharing.

    Jul 08, 2011 at 2:09 PM


  • Great article Mary. I'm sold, when do we leave?

    Jul 08, 2011 at 4:59 PM


  • Snooth User: AJL0005
    882457 1

    Although travel may be a few years off it is always fun to dream. This article is saved for future travel 'must see' places.

    Jul 08, 2011 at 6:04 PM


  • Snooth User: DrWinePhD
    Hand of Snooth
    745327 3

    My wife, Birgit, and I have had the good fortune to visit Bordeaux 4 or 5 times during the past 15 years, and each time we have discovered something new. This article reminded us of past visits and shared a coupl;e of places we have yet to visit. We hope to take a small group to Bordeaux for about a week during 2012. Thanks for the good read. Bruce, Winemaker, etc. at Sunset Winery in Texas USA

    Jul 08, 2011 at 9:54 PM


  • Snooth User: xanimo
    814384 1

    it feels life i been to Bordeaux after reading this article.....

    Jul 09, 2011 at 5:44 AM


  • Snooth User: wineinpdx
    882773 1

    Dr. Wine PHD Check out http://www.bxwinex.com/, a great place to stay just over the river with little apartments, a 10 minute drive into the city and very quiet grounds. They do tours too, but the hospitality is great!

    Jul 09, 2011 at 8:01 AM


  • Sounds fantastic! When do I get to go?
    I love how you suggested an action packed day and then a more casual one (for recovery?) I'm definitely bookmarking this and crossing my fingers... :)

    Jul 20, 2011 at 1:03 PM


  • Snooth User: Grenelle
    1154335 15

    Beautifull words about the city where i live : Bordeaux! If you want to know more about this fantastic town, red wines and prepare your holidays, take a look at http://where-is-bordeaux.eklablog.c...

    Oct 31, 2012 at 6:21 AM


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