Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bordeaux, the Medoc and St. Emilion: The 2013 France diaries, Part III

The Main Square, Place de la Bourse, in Bordeaux

We really didn’t want to leave the Dordogne. That’s the downside of trip with a pre-planned itinerary. We had already booked the next stop and so off we went to Bordeaux—the only major French city we’d never visited. Bordeaux has a gorgeous old town—-in this case the old town is the 18th century city. But outside the old town it’s not an especially attractive city.

What drew us to the region, wine–lovers that we are, was the opportunity to visit the fabled vineyards of the Medoc and St. Emilion. The Medoc really gives one a sense of just how much of the French economy still revolves around wine—the vineyards go on and on and on.
Vineyards of the Medoc

The real surprise for us were the vineyards around St. Emilion and the town of St. Emilion itself. The terrain is lush with steep hills--unlike the flat, monotonous expanses of land in the Medoc. The town has an incredibly rich architectural heritage and I advise anyone going to the area to consider using St. Emilion as a base.
The medieval ramparts of St.Emilion

View of the vineyards form the old town of St.Emilion

We stayed in Boulliac a beautiful little town outside of Bordeaux. We came across a good deal on a luxury hotel, the St. James Hotel which offered 3 nights for the price of 4. We were intrigued with the idea of a hotel located in a vineyard and having grapes growing outside our window. Well, we were a little late for the grapes. In that area they were picked at the end of September, but the grounds were beautiful just the same. The hotel had a Michelin star restaurant; we would not have gone out of our way for crazily expensive haute cuisine, but we thought since we were staying there, why not just this one time?

We discovered that at this stage in our lives we much prefer French country cooking—-the reasonably priced food with fresh ingredients and generous portions we had at Hotel du Moulin de la Beaune. We no longer want to pay those crazy prices for a thimbleful of food, beautifully presented. Food as a work of art no longer appeals. The St. James Hotel also ran a little inexpensive bistro a block from the hotel and we would definately recommend it.

We were happy to have seen Bordeaux and the wine country but were itching to get back to Paris.

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