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Cycling along mythical wine castles

You don’t even have to be much of a wine lover to get excited about Bordeaux. Traffic signs, buildings and practically everything else display the names of world-famous domains in this Mecca of the wine world. The perfect way to enjoy the delectable traditions of this impressive French wine region? By bicycle!

Vast and expansive, Bordeaux is France’s flattest wine region and a perfect destination for all cyclists. Endless rows of vines alternate with elegant wine castles and historic wine villages with inviting terraces. Discover the UNESCO World Heritage site, Saint-Émilion, make a pit stop at a grape spa or cycle to the banks of the Gironde or the beaches on the Atlantic coast.

A Mecca for wine lovers
A Mecca for wine lovers

Bordeaux

Meandering roads in Graves-Sauternes

The famous vineyards of Graves and Sauternes lie south of the city of Bordeaux. This area on the left bank of the Garonne River is one of the most beautiful parts of the wine region. Cycle past vineyards and forests and continue along the meandering country roads through the rolling hills of Sauternes. Château Smith Haut Lafitte is a great place for a break in Graves. Take a tour of the wine cellars and admire the modern art displayed amongst the vines. Next to the chateau lies the famous Les Sources de Caudalie spa, which offers beauty treatments made with grape extracts. The adjoining hotel offers not only great restaurants but also a wine bar with an enchanting patio. In Sauternes, pause for a moment at Château d’Yquem to visit not only the vineyards of the most famous (and most expensive) sweet white wine from the Bordeaux, but also the lovely garden.


For more information about this southern part of the wine region, visit the

website

of Graves-Sauternes.

Smith Haut Lafitte in Graves

Multi-day bike tour to the coast

In addition to day trips, Bordeaux also offers great multi-day bike tours. Combine the vineyards of the Médoc with a visit to the Atlantic coast and the mouth of the Gironde River. The Médoc is the most western part of the wine region, and is home to some of the most prestigious wine castles of the Bordeaux, such as Margaux, Giscours and Latour. A small local tour company,

Evazio

, offers a 6-day bike tour for independent cyclists who make the ride with a detailed ‘road book’. Each day you ride 50 to 60 kilometres and lodging is reserved ahead of time in charming hotels and Bed & Breakfasts.

The Médoc, flowing towards the ocean
Vineyards around Saint-Émilion

Bike tours around Saint-Émilion

Saint-Émilion lies approximately 40 kilometres to the north-east of Bordeaux (accessible by train) and is without a doubt the most beautiful town in the wine region. The medieval centre of this wine village consists of a charming maze of narrow streets, gates, courtyards, elegant houses, impressive churches and other monuments. Wine plays a dominant role here in all the stores, restaurants and in the Maison du Vin, an interactive wine museum. Saint-Émilion lies against a hillside, with fabulous views of the surrounding vineyards that produce the Saint-Émilion AOC wine. The town is the perfect starting place for a 2 to 3 hour bike ride in the region. The

Office du Tourisme

offers 5 bike tours, ranging in length from 10 to 21 kilometres; you can download these tours from the website or pick up a printed copy on site. The most photogenic route is the ‘Entre Vigne et Dordogne’, offering not only spectacular views of the vineyards and wine chateaus, but also of the Dordogne River.

Wine village with medieval charm

Restaurant in Saint-Émilion

After returning from a bike ride around Saint-Émilion, it can be hard to pick from the many charming restaurants in this famous wine village. Les Délices du Roy is a reliable destination for a great meal. Large wine barrels are used as tables. However, don’t be fooled by the simple interior; the kitchen is quite sophisticated. The menu features delicious dishes with duck (ranging from duck breast to a haute cuisine hamburger) and of course the best regional wines.

The charming city centre of Saint-Émilion

Photo credits

  • Smith Haut Lafitte in Graves: Megan Cole