Bordeaux, in France’s Gironde district lies near the Atlantic coast and is famous for food, wine and the good life. Considering a return air flight from Gatwick will probably cost less than a couple of bottles of the best Bordeaux it’s certainly worth a visit. Just book with one of the gatwick airport hotels with parking, pack your holiday bags into the car and set off for a feast.
Bordeaux and the surrounding district have been committed to the art of wine production for hundreds of years. Bordeaux has become rich and prosperous because of wine. The city is beautiful and glamorous and has had a serious facelift recently. The limestone front walls and buildings have been sandblasted and cleaned up, and the public transport system, especially the tramway system has been upgraded and is second to none in France.
The city itself has plenty to see and experience and it’s not just things that go into the mouth. The 18th century buildings are magnificent, the op0era house complete of course with a great restaurant is worth visiting and there are boutiques, bars and restaurants galore.
If you are even half interested in wines and vintages, visit the Ecole du Vin (Wine School) in the middle of the city. There are many wines for the tasting at ridiculously cheap prices and there are wine tasting lessons for the amateur wine connoisseur which is also very good value.
Of course, once you have polished up on your wne tasting credentials, and hopefully you will not be too sozzled, it will be time to visit the real heart of wine country – Bordeaux’s surrounding countryside. There are a huge variety of wines out here – with a corresponding diversity in quality in price and quality. Every village in the region seems to have its own wine specialities – names that you have probably seen on many a wine bottle – like St Emilion or Margaux. The many chateaux in this area, too, are wine tasting delights – the winemakers here speak English well so you can chat away while you have a quaff.
The Gironde not only takes its wine seriously, but its food, too. The nearby rivfer estuaries of the Garonne and Dordogne are home to one of France’s largest oyster growing regions and oysters are on the menu just about everywhere – washed down by a bottle or two of wine of course.
If you have never eaten oysters before bear in mind that it can bean acquired experience – oysters au naturel– as they are generally eaten around here are raw oysters perhaps with a touch of lemon juice eaten straight from the opened shell.
Arachon Bay, itself, is surrounded by marvellous sand dunes and pine forests and is amazingly unspoilt. Small ferries and boats make their way across the bay from Bordeaux, allowing access to the villages on the shores. Here is Europe’s highest sand dune – over 300 feet high and once you’ve scrambled laboriously to the top a great view over the bay, it’s turquoise waters and the white beaches that line it.