Head off and meet passionate winemakers around Bordeaux and Cognac, unlock the secrets of their wineries and taste their incomparable vintages…. You’ll see that 5 days is not near enough to discover the uniqueness of each vineyard, to try everything, taste everything.
You’ll be back, that’s for sure!
DAY 1: Cognac, the supreme spirit
Morning: in the midst of art and history
Visit the landmarks of the town where King Francis 1st was born: the banks of the Charente and St Jacques’ towers, the castle of Francis 1st, Duke of Valois, the Récollets Convent, the public park, the art and history museums and those of the Arts of Cognac.
Cognac, awarded the "City of Art and History" label, proposes highly-original and unusual guided tours throughout the year which offer a fresh look at the town.
Take time out for a gourmet break on a terrace on Place François 1er or along the banks of the Charente.
Afternoon: Discovering the great Cognac houses
So, how do you go about opening the gates of paradise in the Cognac region? Ever-so easy… just visit one of the great Cognac houses. Courvoisier, Hennessy, Martell, Meukow, Camus, Rémy Martin… Cognac and its surrounding area totals some fifteen Cognac houses which propose guided tours and tasting sessions as well as immersive experiences. Multi-sensorial discoveries, tasting workshops, bottling an eau-de-vie selected by a cellar master… a host of visit ideas await you.
Then climb on-board a gabarre (traditional flat-bottomed boat) on the Charente River (leaving from Saint-Simon, 30 min from Cognac) to admire the Cognac scenescapes and vineyards, or why not head off for a bike ride along the river following the “Flow vélo” bikeway or try your hand at a workshop proposed by Rémy Martin: Cognac and chocolate by Chef Philippe Saint Romas, mixology, tasting initiation…
In the evening, relax at the Indigo by Martell bar, on the rooftop of the Martell Corporate Foundation and enjoy a Cognac-flavoured cocktail. A breathtaking vista over the old town and the river guaranteed!
DAY 2: On the Blaye to Bourg wine route
Morning: A spectacul’ary stroll
The most exquisite sunrises are to be admired from the Route de la Corniche (coast road) (D669 – E1), which links Bourg and Blaye. Delight at the rolling landscapes where vines stand proud with the Gironde Estuary as a backdrop, then stop off in the village of Bourg-sur-Gironde. A charming fortified village built during the Roman era invites to discover its port, its wash-house, its citadel and its craftspeople.
Enjoy a picnic lunch along the banks of the estuary or at the Maison des Côtes de Bourg with its wine bar.
Afternoon: Direction the UNESCO-listed Blaye Citadel
Head off for Blaye by following the coast road to discover villages with troglodytic dwellings and fishermen’s huts on stilts (known as “carrelets”, from the square net used for fishing) and an incredible vista over Europe’s greatest estuary.
Then stroll around Blaye Citadel, a UNESCO-listed world heritage site: a Vauban masterpiece harmoniously blending nature and old stone, a touch of magic, offering a panoramic view over the estuary.
You can also jump on-board a boat at the foot of the citadel to discover the Gironde Estuary and its islands with one of the cruising companies: Bordeaux River Cruise, the 2 Rives Company or Cœur d’Estuaire.
DAY 3: Along the Médoc châteaux route
Morning: Discovering the grands crus classés.
Head down to the jetty in Blaye for a ferry ride to Lamarque in Médoc. From here, take the D2 departmental road to discover the most prestigious Bordeaux red grands crus classés. Generally produced in châteaux and wineries with highly-unusual architecture: Châteaux Margaux, Cos d’Estournel, Beychevelle, etc.
Visits and tasting sessions are proposed throughout the year in vast properties as well as in more intimate châteaux.
Afternoon: Experiences season in, season out!
Fancy your hand at grape-picking? In autumn, the winegrowers along the Médoc wine route throw open their doors and invite you to join them for this exclusive moment. For example, Château du Taillan and Château Paloumey propose grape-picking workshops for half a day or a full day.
The rest of the year, there’s also a surprising place to visit, which is a cellar and wine bar, exhibition centre and concert venue… : The Winery, near Arsac. You’ll be wowed at what you find out here during a workshop which reveals your “oenological sign” and tells you everything you need to know about your wine tastes.
DAY 4: Bordeaux, world wine capital
Morning: An urban stroll blending heritage and state-of-the-artness
Wander through Bordeaux city centre, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Home to a host of architectural treasures, from medieval towers to ultra-contemporary buildings. Must-sees: 18th-century facades reflecting in the Water Mirror along the river banks.
Cross over the Garonne, on a BatCub (river shuttle) and enjoy lunch on the banks of the Garonne, in the city’s former shipyards. Just across the way, check out Darwin, urban wasteland renovated into an alternative cultural & leisure place: outdoor exhibitions, organic store, skatepark, and more…
Afternoon: Wine culture
To weave your way through wine culture and find out everything there is to know, explore the Cité du vin, the city’s emblem. Ranked as the world’s 7th best museum by National Geographic, the Cité du vin invites you on a totally-immersive sensorial visit through 19 themed spaces. A one-of-a-kind cultural establishment, open to all, an opportunity for aficionados and novices alike to delight in the oenological world.
At the end of your tour, contemplate Bordeaux from the top of the Belvedere, admire the Garonne River and the city’s districts whilst sipping on a glass of wine.
As dusk falls, pursue your Bordeaux wine initiation with a food & wine pairing evening in one of the city’s many vibrant wine bars or during dinner in a starred restaurant at the very heart of the vineyards (Château Cordeillan Bages 4, Sources de Caudalie 5, etc.).
Did you know? The "Best Of Wine Tourism" is an award honouring outstanding wine estates for their architecture, their gardens and parks and their eco-friendly approach and/or the originality of the visits they propose. The Bordeaux Tourist Office proposes a full-day excursion to visit the wine estates which have won this award.
DAY 5: On the Saint-Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac wine route
Morning: Discovering the medieval UNESCO-listed village.
Saint-Emilion is listed as a world heritage site for its viticultural landscape which, of course, comprises the medieval village as well as the vineyards around. It goes without saying that its nickname “a stone gem in a setting of vines” in no way exaggerates the charm radiated by this village built in a rocky cirque (amphitheatre-like valley) and surrounded by the vineyards of ten prestigious appellations.
Contact the local tourist office which proposes a host of tours, strolls through the vineyards, winemaker days and other activities.
Enjoy a gourmet stop-off in one of the bistronomic or gastronomic restaurants in the village.
Afternoon: Intoxicating experiments
You’ve always dreamt of creating your own wine, a wine that resembles you. Thanks to the B-Winemaker workshop you can learn to differentiate grape varieties the, using your test tubes, have fun as an apprentice oenologist and try out various blends. You can test up to 9 ‘mixes’ and take your personalized bottle of wine home with you.
At the end of the day, head to Château de Bonhoste in Saint-Jean-de-Blaignac to delight in a one-of-a-kind experience at the very heart of the vineyard. “Coup 2 foudres” invites you to spend the night in a genuine “foudre” (old, high-volume wine vats).
Greens & Grapes – the travel agency in the Bordeaux region dedicated to providing ‘all-in-one’packages including à-la-carte golf, wine, gastronomy and culture. We organise breaks for groups and individuals and are the local destination concierge of a gourmet clientele looking to experience a chic and relax art-de-vivre à la française.