Bordeaux–an old and beautiful city of France.  Our hosts in Provence have family plans over Christmas so Doug and Martina decide to create some of their own with a visit to SW France.  We camp out on the east bank of the Goronne at an Air B&B, La Maison Bastide, whose hosts provided us with a wealth of local information and very comfortable rooms, but best of all we could communicate in English.  We highly recommend them and stayed there again just before leaving Bordeaux.  

Bordeaux Streets

The city is charming with all the narrow streets you want or need.

Oyster Lunch

One of the specialties that surprised us was their oysters–fresh from the Arcachon area about 50km to the SW on the coast.  Martina and I are settling down into a nice lunch with a crisp Bordeaux white and half dozen starters.  Time to put on my newly purchased beret which enhances the flavor.  Mmmmmm!

Big Dunes de Pilat

Do not miss Arcachon if you visit this region.  They boast one of the largest coastal sand dunes in the world–the dunes at Pyla sur Mer are  approximately 400′ high.  Archachon is a wonderful resort town (Bordeaux’s summer camp) and full of seafood restaurants.  But we didn’t come here searching for oysters……

Beret and Bordeaux

….we came here searching for wines.  I won’t go into much detail here (and besides, they’re a bit hard to recollect), but we did research the fine wines of the area which include (drum roll)……

Lafite Sign

When I began my dental practice I had a wine broker cellar me a bottle/month for 20 years and I’ve ended up with quite a few of these particular wines so was curious why some of these are now selling for over $1000/bottle.   The 2000 and 2005 vintages sold at release for about $10,000/case, with about 35,000 cases produced each year.  Lafite has outperformed the stock markets–and I’d rather keep track of my portfolio here in Bordeaux than on Wall Street.   When you visit Lafite, you will understand.  The vineyards are First Growth and Wall Street is not.

vineyards 1

Two hundred acres & two hundred years of meticulous horticulture.

vineyards 2

After Pruning in Provence, I wonder what skill level you need to prune at Lafite.  Unfortunately, Wall Street prunes their clients portfolios….Not, Lafite!  Only perfection here.

Chateau LaFite

Here’s the Chateau.  The tasting rooms were closed the day we were there; and it was raining very hard with gusty winds.  In WWII, the German army plundered the cellars of wines going back nearly a century.  The record wine sold ($156,000) is a Lafite that was reported to have been owned by Thomas Jefferson.  Today, the Chinese are purchasing many chateaus in the area and many counterfeits are entering the market.  Kind of like Wall Street some would think.

Dinner in Margaux

So, time to enjoy.  We find a huge chateau/hotel nearly empty during the holidays–which offered very affordable rates so we we set up our base camp.  I put on my black beret (to enhance flavor) and we explore the Pauillac, St. Julien, and Margaux.  Hemingway would be jealous.

Castle 3

We head east to explore the St. Emilion east of Bordeaux.  We find vineyards as far as the eye can see from the city itself.  If you continue east, to Sarlat, you see this castle perched high above Beynac.  We spend two nights in the small town below over New Years.

Castle Vista

The view from the castle back toward Bordeaux is impressive.  This castle is virtually intact and was used in the movie “Jean d’Arc.”  Stay tuned for our next exciting adventure.  (Q:  when you buy a Eurail Pass, what’s the best route from Bordeaux to Lagos, Portugal?  Answer in next post).

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