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Bordeaux Wine Country, Saint Emilion, Paulliac, & Cognac, France

Chateau Winery Medoc Wine Region France
Chateau (Winery) - Medoc Wine Region, France

Bordeaux Wine Country, Saint Emilion, Paulliac, & Cognac, France (5/8-10/2013) – Visiting one of the finest wine regions in the world was fun and a great Travel experience.

Fish Duck Lunch Margaux Medoc Wine Region France French Food
Fish & Duck Lunch - Margaux, 
Medoc Wine Region, France

The vast Bordeaux wine country features quaint villages with flowers everywhere, very nice restaurants, well-preserved medieval villages, country roads with vineyards, and friendly people (see photos). The wines of Bordeaux are full body made of wonderful blends of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties. With over 5,000 chateaux (wineries) in 57 wine appellations to choose from, it’s a wine lovers dream.

Chateau Pichon Longueville Pauillac Medoc Wine Region France
Chateau Pichon Longueville 
- Pauillac, Medoc Wine Region, France
As the capital of the region, the city of Bordeaux (click here to see)is both the commercial and cultural center of southwest France. Bordeaux is also in the middle of one of the great wine regions of the world - Medoc to the northwest, Sauternes lies to the south, and Pomerol and St-Emilion to the east.

Famous Chateau Lafite Rothchild Pauillac Medoc Wine Region France
Famous Chateau Lafite Rothchild
Pauillac, Medoc Wine Region, France
Country Wine Road Medoc Wine Region France
Country Wine Road - Medoc Wine Region, France
We drove the Medoc wine road (D2) northwest of Bordeaux through towns of Pauillac, Margaux, and others made famous from the wines produced there. Just north of Paullac, Letilte Rothchild has beautiful grounds you should not miss (see photos). We visited during France’s Victoire 1945 national holiday. Everything was pretty much closed but we still had a great time. We still tasted wines at a wine shop and found a nice restaurant to enjoy more great French food (see photo).

Street Saint Emilion France
Street - Saint Emilion, France
Saint Emilion France
Saint Emilion, France
A definite must is a visit to beautiful Saint Emilion, located about 25 miles from Bordeaux, with its well-preserved medieval streets and buildings. Wandering through its cobblestone streets (some rather steep) is like walking into the past. There are wonderful views from the upper landing outside the church (see photos).

Staying Dry Saint Emilion France
Staying Dry 
- Saint Emilion, France
Saint Emilion France
Saint Emilion, France
Saint Emilion was named after the monk Emilion, who settled there in the 8th century. Monks following him started the commercial wine production in the area. Saint Emilion is one of the principal red wine areas of Bordeaux. Merlot and Cabernet Franc are the primary grape varieties used with some small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon also being used by some chateaux (wineries).

Saint Emilion Travel tip... The Tourist Office in the center of Saint Emilion offers free maps, a guide book, and information on wine tasting tours.

Map Bordeaux Old Town Wine Region France
Map - Bordeaux Old Town 
& Wine Region - France
Travel tips when visiting Bordeaux region... The lack of public transportation to most of the chateaux (wineries) means that it is best to explore the region in your own car or sign up for tours that can be arranged in the tourist office in Bordeaux. Make sure you have good directions north out of Bordeaux to the Medoc D2 wine route – it is easy to get lost. If you need information or a hotel reservation, drop by the friendly Tourist Center in Bordeaux. They were very helpful to us.

Hotel Chateau Pomys Medoc Wine Region France
Hotel Chateau Pomys 
- Medoc Wine Region, France
You can use Bordeaux city (click here to see) as a base to explore the famous wine regions that surround it. Hotels, called Chambres d’hôtel in the wine regions, although very quaint, are more expensive and there is not much to do at night. To save money on hotels and parking-hassles, we recommend staying in the La Bastide area across the river from Bordeaux’s old town with easy-to-find free parking. You can walk to the old town in about 20 minutes or take a boat or tram ride to the old town.

Pat Thinks Bigger is Better Medoc Wine Region France
Pat Thinks Bigger is Better 
- Medoc Wine Region, France
Wayne likes the Cognac spirit and wanted to learn more about it. On our way to the Loire Valley north of Bordeaux, we visited the town of Cognac. Cognac’s old town medieval quarter (Vieux Cognac) runs from the Tours Saint-Jacques, alongside the river, up to the Saint-Léger church. Situated on narrow cobbled streets, it contains buildings built between the 15th and 18th centuries.

Cognoc at Hennessey Dating Back to 1873 Cognac France
Cognoc at Hennessey 
Dating Back to 1873 - Cognac, France
About the spirit Cognac... The town of Cognac gives its name to one of the world's best-known types of brandy. Cognac must be made in certain areas around the town of Cognac and be made according to strictly defined regulations.

Love French Food Saint Emilion France
Love French Food 
- Saint Emilion, France
Cognac’s uniqueness comes from the fact that it is double distilled in copper pot stills. This process can be viewed in one of the many Cognac houses all having visitor centers. In Cognac are Hennessy, Otard, Martell, Remy Martin, and Camus. East of Cognac in Jarnac is home to Courvoisier. We did the tour of Hennessy and were glad we did. The tour is well done, informative, and includes a short boat ride (see photos). Hennessy stores over 300,000 barrels, some dating back over 100 years.

Wine Tasting La Cave D'Ulysse Medoc Wine Region France
Wine Tasting at La Cave D'Ulysse 
- Medoc Wine Region, France
All Cognac is produced by a blending of different grapes. The best Cognacs are usually made only using Petite and Grande Champagne grapes. Different qualities of Cognac are produced including VS (Very Special) aged for as least 2 years; VSOP (Very Superior) for at least 4 years, and XO (eXtra Old) at least six years (in 2016, 10 years) but on average for upwards of 20 years. English terms are still used because in the early days of Cognac production it was the British and Irish who were the main consumers and also became some of the main producers of Cognac, using techniques acquired from the distillation of whisky).

Bordeaux Wines France
Bordeaux Wines, France

The different qualities of Cognac are controlled by the length of time it is aged in oak barrels - longer aging makes the Cognac smoother. Most Cognac houses have barrels dating back to the 19th century waiting for blending.

Please see our other 10 posts about beautiful France:

Bordeaux's Old Town, France

Paris, France

Loire Valley, France

Mont Saint Michel & Saint Malo, France

Strasbourg - Alsace, France 

Alsace Wine Villages, France

Burgundy & Cote d'Or Wine Country, France 

Chablis, Dijon, & Vezelay, France

Champagne Route, France

Reims (Champagne Capital), France

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Bordeaux Wine Country, Saint Emilion, Paulliac, & Cognac, France


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