Great Drives Series – Around Bordeaux

I have done a couple of trips into Bordeaux where I have explored the region by car.  There really is no better way to explore the diversity of the region (and its wines!), which may seem at first to be more homogenous than it actually is.  To venture inland, near where Bordeaux runs into the Dordogne is to see a totally different Bordeaux than you may see in the Médoc.  To drive around Sauternes is definitely different than going to Saint-Émilion.

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Beautiful countryside in Bordeaux

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Fields of sunflowers dot the landscape in parts of Bordeaux

Both times I went were in the pre-GPS era but that did not make it difficult to drive around.  A good map (and a good map reader somewhere in the vehicle) is all you need to be able to explore this area without too much trouble.

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Plenty of markers/signs help the visitor find their way around!

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With helpful markers like this one, you know you are in wine country!

One of our stops was the Château Ducru-Beaucaillou where we were taken on a private tour of this grand winemaker (through which I would run the next day when I ran in the Bordeaux marathon!).

Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Bordeaux, Medoc, France, winery, vineyard, chateaux, wine, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou (I would run right past this spot the next day!)

If you are somewhat interested in wine, there will be plenty for you to do and explore. The town of Saint-Émilion is one of the gems of the region.  Walk around but climb up to the top of the town.  There are cafés up there too and nowhere better to be when the sun sets, glass of wine in hand – of course!

St. Emilion, Bordeaux, French town, France, sign, vines, photo,Saint-Émilion, Canon EOS Rebel

The way to Saint-Émilion!

St. Emilion, Bordeaux, French town, France, sign, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Always remember where you parked in a new town! In this case, a nice map at the town entrance helped!

St. Emilion, Bordeaux, French town, France, view , photo, Canon EOS Rebel

View from the upper part of Saint-Émilion down to its main square

We enjoyed some of the big (and seemingly more commercial) chateaux but we also loved to more “rural” areas on roads less traveled and discovering the smaller vineyards and winemakers.  Some of the information offices and hotels had displays full of cards of the many chateaux in the area such as the one below.

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It was one of these cards that led us to discover a gem of a château in SauternesChâteau Sahuc Les Tours.

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The beautiful Château Sahuc Les Tours

The owners even sat down with us to share a bottle of their Sauternes and spent a good hour chatting with us about every topic that could concern French and American alike (they spoke excellent English).  Sauternes (in the Graves area), if you are not familiar, produces a sweet white wine bearing the same name made from sémillon, sauvignon blanc, and muscadelle grapes that have Botrytis cinerea (or “noble rot”) which concentrates the sugars.  We got to see the grapes up front as they began to look like raisins.  But don’t let the thought of rot keep you from drinking this wine!

Sauternes,  Botrytis cinerea, noble rot, wine, grapes, Bordeaux, Graves, Semillon, photo, travel, Canon EOS Rebel

Before and after…

That was such a good experience that I returned 7 years later to that chateau – and to my delight, one of the owners was there and, though she clearly could not remember me, realized I really had been there before as I recounted some of the things they had told us the first visit.  Connecting with locals in a real way is one of the rewards of venturing out and exploring this world!

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The friendly owner of Sahuc Les Tours with a delicious bottle in hand

So while this post is about great drives, let’s not forget that this drive is about wine!  Cheers!

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A beautiful wine in Bordeaux




  1. Great article. Ch DuCru is one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing.

  2. jr schmitt says:

    It’d be tough to be on a wine tour and also driving… seems I might need a driver to really enjoy all the region has to offer!

  3. Wish could have read this before I was there two years ago, nice read.

  4. great pictures!

  5. I’d like to visit Bordeaux sooner rather than later. Looks like a fun couple of days.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted..Red Cat House: A Haven in the Heart of TaosMy Profile

  6. I just got back from Bordeaux over a month ago. It was a two day stop on a cruise docked in La Rochelle. It is very easy to fall in love with the area. I grabbed a bunch of those winery/vineyard cards and hope to use them and this post to plan my next trip.

  7. One day I’ll make it there! Saint-Émilion looks like my kind of small town with that lovely main square… And I’m glad you used a real map! 🙂
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Featured Photos: Avenida Corrientes in Buenos AiresMy Profile

  8. Great pictures Raul! I’ll be your designated driver anytime!

  9. This reminds me that I really know nothing about traveling in France… I’m with Pola, though: St. Emilion looks like my kinda town! I’ll go there and pretend I never learned anything about “noble rot”…
    Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) recently posted..Letting go of my original travel partnerMy Profile

  10. this is SO on my list for the spring. gorgeous!
    the lazy travelers recently posted..laws to travel by – #48My Profile

  11. sure wouldn’t mind a few wine tastings here and there and in bordeaux! PRE-gps era?! (gasp)!
    lola dimarco recently posted..It’s #Movember – That Means Mustaches & #ManlyMomentsMy Profile

  12. I am SO doing this next year, Raul. France will not escape me. And more vin, please!
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..The Luxury Travel Blog Network – November 2013 EditionMy Profile

  13. Looks like the ultimate French wine experience. I think I’d like to get to Bordeaux very soon.


  1. […] if my posts are not  inspiring enough, this one inspired me to book my land trip back to Bordeaux.  While I am hesitant driving outside of the […]

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