Smith Haut Lafitte in Graves
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.
The Médoc, flowing towards the ocean
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.
Wine village with medieval charm
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.
The charming city centre of Saint-Émilion
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.