Bordeaux - Terrasses

My Week in Nouvelle-Aquitaine by A Lady in London

Nouvelle-Aquitaine has everything I love about France. From fine wine to fairy-tale castles, sandy beaches to heritage buildings, this region features the best of what French cities and countryside have to offer. I recently spent a week Bordeaux and Haute-Vienne, and my itinerary hit the highlights.

Day 1

Bordeaux Porte Cailhau

On the first day I checked into my room at Bordeaux’s Hotel La Zoologie, then took a tour with a local guide. He showed me everything from the cathedral to the 18th-century Hotel de Ville and the Place des Quinconces, one of Europe’s biggest city squares.

After an al fresco lunch at Pastel, we explored the unique Darwin area with its hip restaurants and shops. Later we stopped at the riverside Chantiers de la Garonne bar, which has its own beach.

Darwin - Bordeaux

In the evening I did a wine tasting at Le Metropolitain before heading to dinner at Frida, a cool cocktail bar and restaurant.

Le Métropolitain - Bordeaux

Day 2

Bordeaux - Chartrons

The next day I did a self-guided walking tour of the Chartrons district. Dating back to the 14th century, this neighborhood has a mix of the bourgeois and the bohemian. It’s a great place to get into Bordeaux’s local scene.

From there I went to lunch at Le Familia in the Halles de Bacalan food market. It was right across the street from La Cite du Vin, a cultural center dedicated to the universal living heritage of wine. I toured the temporary exhibition and permanent exhibits, learning about wine and where grapes grown.

Afterwards I walked over to Les Bassins de Lumieres, a center for digital art set in a former submarine base. Inside, a light-and-sound show projected the works of artists like Monet and Chagall across the walls and onto the water.

At the end of the day, I ate dinner at Les Tables Vatel. The restaurant offers bistronomic cuisine and local wines in a series of small dining rooms.

Day 3

Médoc vineyards

The next morning I climbed to the top of the 15th-century Saint Michel Bell Tower to take in the views of Bordeaux. It was amazing to see everything from the river to the city gates.

Back on the ground, I went to lunch at the Puy Paulin restaurant, a classic bistro where I enjoyed vegetable crudites and grilled prawns.

Puy Paulin Restaurant - Bordeaux

Lunch was followed by a wine tour with Olala Bordeaux called “An Afternoon in Margaux”. It took me and two others for winery tours and tastings. We also got to see famous places like Chateau Margaux.

Castle in Margaux - Medoc vineyards

That night I had dinner at Le 1925, a Bordeaux restaurant with a brasserie feel reminiscent of Paris in the 1920s.

Find out more
Read the full article on my stay in Bordeaux

Day 4

The following day my itinerary took me to Haute-Vienne. My first stop was Rochechouart, where I started with lunch outside at the Hotel de France.

After the meal I walked over to the Chateau de Rochechouart, a castle with a Renaissance facade and interiors. It houses the Haute-Vienne Museum of Contemporary Art. Inside I discovered everything from historic frescoes to exhibitions of contemporary painting and sculpture.

From the chateau, I made my way to Champagnac-la-Riviere and checked into my accommodation, La Gare aux Oiseaux. Housed in an old train station, it was next to a walking and cycling path that ran along the former train tracks.

After taking a walk, I returned for dinner at the restaurant next to the hotel. La Gare was reminiscent of the golden age of travel, and I enjoyed everything from gnocchi to opera cake.

Day 5

Haute Vienne - France

The next morning I headed off to explore one of the castles on the Richard the Lionheart Route. The Chateau de Chalus-Chabrol was where the famous English king was mortally wounded in 1199. I climbed the round tower and toured the medieval rooms, imagining what it would have been like in his day.

After stopping for lunch at L’Instant Gourmand, I visited the Musee et Jardins Cecile Sabourdy in Vicq-sur-Breuilh. The museum and its gardens are dedicated to overlooked amateur and experimental art.

In the afternoon I headed into Limoges and checked into my accommodation, an aparthotel called La Maison Blanche. It wasn’t far from Mamie Bigoude, a creperie with bright, quirky decor where I ate dinner.

Day 6

Limoges

The following day I toured the Adrien Dubouche Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of Limoges porcelain. It was fascinating to learn about how ceramics are made and see examples from ancient times to modern.

I ate lunch at a restaurant called Ginette, then took a walking tour of the city with a guide. He showed me everything from the cathedral to the river. He also led me through historic districts like Abbessaille and Boucherie, which had beautiful heritage buildings.

At the end of the day, I dined on scallops and pasta at Le Versailles, a classic restaurant in the city center.

Day 7

Agnelle - Gloves

My last day in France started with a visit to Le Four des Casseaux, a heritage site featuring a huge 19th-century kiln where Limoges porcelain was once fired.

From there I tucked into a plate of risotto at La Souris Verte before driving to the Agnelle glove factory in Saint-Junien. It produces hand-made gloves for everyone from Dior to Ralph Lauren. It was fascinating to witness the process, and I was tempted to buy all the gloves in the factory shop.

Find out more
Read the full article on my stay in Haute Vienne

My week in Novelle-Aquitaine came to an end as I departed Agnelle and drove back to Bordeaux for my flight home. I was sad to go, but happy to bring all the memories of wine and chateaux, porcelain and gloves with me.

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