My incredible nine-day tour through the south of France ended last night when I returned home. I got right to work as soon as I landed in France because there was so much I wanted to explore.
I spent three days seeing Bordeaux and the neighboring wine areas of Medoc and St. Émilion. After that, I traveled by rail to Aix-en-Provence where I spent three days visiting Cassis, Avignon, and the Pont du Gard on short excursions. With a couple additional day trips to Eze, Monaco, and St. Paul du Vence, Nice served as my final stop. Words cannot express what an incredible experience this was!
I won’t overwhelm you with vacation pictures all at once, but I did want to give you a taste of what I got to see and do in Bordeaux, France. As you are aware, I reside in the heart of California’s wine region, where we produce all of our own wine. I’ve been surrounded by it all my life, but I wanted to try something new, so Bordeaux was one of my first stops.
I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about the wine-making process in this part of France, where they have been doing it for centuries longer than we have. Unlike us, they identify their wines by appellation rather than grape. Growth, mixing, and marketing are all carefully regulated processes. Since I was a part of small tours, I was able to visit a couple of their wineries, or what they call chateaus, which are open to the public for tastings.
I enrolled in one of the many businesses that provide small (6–8) wine region trip groups on my first day. It’s a lot of fun to board a small, air-conditioned van with other English-speaking travelers from around the globe. From Australia, South Africa, England, Ireland, and other countries, I made the best friends. I did this on multiple occasions during my trip, and as a result, I met a lot of new people, which significantly improved my travel experience! While in France, I also went on a few independent trips where I took buses and trains on my own.
The weather in Bordeaux in September was inconsistent during my visit; it was occasionally gloomy and other times sunny. I was able to explore the landscape and the flatter Medoc wine region—known for its cabernet blends—by taking short wine tours. I went on a day trip with Bordovino, . They are situated in the heart of the city and have knowledgeable and amiable tour guides.
Another day, I rode the train to the hilltop wine region of St. Émilion, which is well-known for its merlot and cabernet blends. On this day, despite the precipitation, I enjoyed exploring the cobblestone streets and taking in the charming stores and buildings.
When traveling in France, one must indulge in cheese, wine, and bread, especially following a trek around the town.
In St. Émilion, there is a lovely church that is also well worth visiting. On an overcast day, it was challenging to take pictures, but I adored this courtyard with all of its arches.
If you only have one day to visit a wine region outside of Bordeaux, I’d highly recommend this hilltop hamlet because it has a lot of wine shops in a small space that do give samples. It is incredibly simple to travel there by rail; just take the local tram to the Gare St. Jean and purchase a ticket to St. Émilion. A wonderful small day excursion, allow 45 minutes for the train ride, then walk about half a mile into the town and spend a few hours exploring.
Don’t miss a sample of the cannales, a type of little cake popular in Bordeaux that has a caramelized surface and a custardy middle.
I was able to easily travel around and see everything I wanted to see on foot because I was staying at a tiny hotel in the center of the city. A cycling tour is another fantastic way to see Bordeaux; I used Bordeaux Bike Tour and Jean-Christophe was a fantastic guide. Our guide gave us a leisurely tour of the city while pointing us all the major monuments and discussing its history. A bike tour is a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with the city and gain a sense of it so you can later explore it on foot.
I spent the day and evening exploring the town following my bike tour, and I had supper at the most charming café with a mix of locals and visitors. Once more, you’ll observe that the weather is erratic, with sunny skies one hour and rain showers the next. Bordeaux is a delightful city with winding alleys and cafes, charming stores, and a lively nighttime scene with people strolling around and enjoying supper and beer or wine at all the quaint cafés. My three days were wonderful!
You are aware that many people use scooters and motorcycles to go around the cities in France. I frequently ride a white Vespa around my area, so while I was in France, I kept an eye out for them. The hue of this one that was parked on the pavement attracted my attention.
I created a two-minute film for my new YouTube channel to give you a taste of the Bordeaux region. Observe it below!
Put Bordeaux on your travel itinerary if you enjoy wine or simply want to explore a hip French city!