1 May 2016

Suitcase. Bordeaux, France - Travel Guide

I love France. I feel as though it's a bit like my spirit country. Every time I go back it captures me with its architecture, its way of life, its language.

My latest trip was to Bordeaux. A region I think I can adequately describe in one word...

Indulgence.
   
bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; architecture;


bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; architecture;

A quick stroll through town on my arrival had me immediately in love. The locals may not necessarily agree, but to me Bordeaux has many Parisian qualities. The architecture, the vibe, the streets. The beauty is there but on a smaller scale. The people also seem much friendlier - they're willing to help and chat to you (albeit in French but that's fine by me!) and there is food everywhere! So many restaurants and cafes lining the streets, all of which look tummy-grumblingly enticing.

If you're in town some of the sights you must see include the iconic Place de la Bourse on the banks of the river...

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; architecture; place de la bourse

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; architecture; place de la bourse;

The St Andre Cathedral...

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; architecture;

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; architecture;

Porte Cailhau which is like the ancient gate to the city...

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; architecture;

The Musee des Beaux Arts...

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; architecture;

And the courtyard near the Grand Theatre, the carousel is like something out of a story book...

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; architecture;

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; architecture;

Having walked all day and indulged in some delightful crepes (not one but two!) I set off for my hotel - the renowned Saint James just outside the city on the hill in Bouliac.

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; le saint james bouliac;

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; le saint james bouliac;

With its own vineyard and a Michelin star restaurant, this is a pretty great spot to base yourself for an indulgent getaway. And, as the hotel has only 18 rooms, you're guaranteed a sense of personalisation and 5-star service. If you can, definitely splurge for the suite, it has its own outdoor jacuzzi.

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; le saint james bouliac;

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; le saint james bouliac;

Having unpacked it was time for bed, and I tell you it was a dreamy slumber, overlooked by the winking lights of Bordeaux in the distance.

I was up with the sun the next morning, people to see, places to go! Top of my list was wine country. Obviously. Off I set in my trusty steed...

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; fiat red;

If you're looking for a picturesque drive you're going to want to head north of Bordeaux, following the river up on the D209. It's stunning countryside. Wineries are dotted back-to-back each with their own ch√Ęteau, from charming little farm-style ones to grand palatial looking things; they took my breath away.

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; le saint james bouliac;

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; vineyard; winery;

Particularly, Pichon Longueville, est. 1851. Wow. My inner princess was screaming "home" whilst looking around for my prince as soon as I pulled up. It truly is a stunning property, surrounded by rows and rows of vines that produce some pretty exceptional cabernet wine.

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; pichon longueville; winery;

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; pichon longueville; winery;

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; pichon longueville; winery;

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; pichon longueville; winery;

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; pichon longueville; winery; red wine;

Having explored plenty of countryside for the day it was time to head back to the hotel, I was in for a treat; dinner at Saint James, cooked by head chef Nicolas Magie. Lucky I'd worked up an appetite, let the 6-course feast begin...

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; le saint james bouliac;

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; le saint james bouliac;

First a little appetiser to get going; a trio of fried chickpea, a creamy fish sphere and a shellfish mousse served in an egg shell. Palette tingling? Yes.

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; le saint james bouliac;

The first course was possibly my favourite. Delicate red mullet served with caviar and tapioca. A lovely way to start a meal.

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; le saint james bouliac;

Next was Mr Magie's famous crunchy egg served with crayfish and a bisque. The technique appeared faultless.

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; le saint james bouliac;

Time then for some fish served with wrinkly little morles (wild mushrooms that are surprisingly subtle in flavour) and topped with a crispy morles creation that tasted somewhat like a prawn cracker.

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; le saint james bouliac;

When in France one must have pigeon of course, this one was served with a blackcurrant sauce, ravioli and snails.

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; le saint james bouliac;

For the cheese course I got to enjoy a warm goats cheese blancmange served with a sweet red pepper sorbet. Certainly a very savoury choice yet delicate and light.

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; le saint james bouliac;

And finally the white asparagus dessert. A vegetable revered at this time of year, who'd have thought it could translate into a sweet dish but it absolutely did when served with caramelized hazelnuts and sorbet. Delicate and beautiful.

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; le saint james bouliac;

I rolled upstairs to bed feeling thoroughly sated, the food was truly exceptional. If you get a chance, be sure to try a cooking class with the Saint James chefs as well. I've got recipes coming for you next week.

The sun peeked through my windows the following morning, signifying my final day. Just a 30min drive away, the beautifully historic village of Saint Emilion is where I would spend it. This ancient village holds such charm and character, not to mention it is a wine and foodie haven. Cobbled pathways entwine through buildings, often so steep and uneven even I struggled with footing. Trek downwards though and you're sure to be rewarded with magical alleys and vine-covered walls.

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; saint emilion;

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; saint emilion;

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; saint emilion;

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; saint emilion;

bordeaux; wine region; france; travel; adventure; wanderlust; saint emilion;

Bordeaux, it was a pleasure. France you were a delight yet again. Thank you to the Saint James for having me, book your stay here, this region is not to be missed.

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Photos by Krissie.