Fancy heading off the beaten track for six days and discovering the most secret vineyards of our region? Sauternes, on the banks of the Garonne, Buzet near Agen, Bergerac in Périgord, Jurançon on the Béarn hillsides and Irouléguy on the Basque mountain slopes.
Nouvelle-Aquitaine ’s secret vineyards, 6 days off the beaten track
DAY 1: Bordeaux, wine in capital letters
Bordeaux, reputed around the world for its vineyards, also enthrals with its heritage, its river, its closeness to the ocean… Check out the visit suggestions on this other itinerary (day 4) to create a tour that suits you.
DAY 2: Pays de Bergerac, its wines are full of panache!
Cyrano wasn’t really a native of Bergerac but the town willingly adopted him for his totally Gascon energy and panache, oh, and of course his nose, which was perfect for tasting the wines from the area! Following a trip on the Dordogne on-board a gabarre (traditional flat-bottomed boat), the tour of Bergerac, where you can admire cobblestone streets and half-timbered houses, takes you from the banks of the river to the Recollets Cloisters. Today, it hosts the Wine and Tourism Centre where you can enjoy guided tours and tasting sessions. You can even have lunch there.
Around this town labelled “Ville et Pays d'Art et d'Histoire” (Town and Land of Art and History), other historic sites invite you in and occasionally propose artistic events (exhibitions, concerts, etc.): the Château de Monbazillac, where the famous sweet, syrupy wine is made and the Château de Duras, set amongst the vines and orchards of the Lot and Garonne Valleys. Some 900 winemakers invite you into their property! A must-add to the programme, a one-of-a-kind visit-tasting session for your palate, 30 min north of Bergerac: Domaine de Neuvic. Here, you won’t be delighting in wine but in caviar.
To relax after this day’s adventures, a great choice of accommodation is on hand, from B&B to 4* hotels, for example the 4 stars Château des Vigiers, Golf and Country Club offering the choice of a brasserie or a starred restaurant, Les Fresques.
DAY 3: Buzet vineyards, a lot of character
Buzet appellation vines, planted on the Lot and __Garonne Valley hillsides , , from south of Marmande to the gates of Agen, produce robust reds, full-bodied rosés and harmonious whites. You’ll delight in the accent of these sun-kissed wines, in perfect accord with local gastronomy__.
To discover them, the vibrant cooperative winery in Buzet-sur-Baïse proposes a guided tour of its facilities, from vinification to bottling completed, of course, by a tasting session. During summer, trekking and e-bike tours are on the agenda and, all year round, you can enjoy some geocaching with Tèrra Aventura. Download the Tèrra Aventura app for free to your smartphone, then head off with the family on an adventure to explore unusual places.
The Baïse is one of the inland waterways of the Lot and Garonne Valleys. Fancy steering a houseboat for an afternoon jaunt? Or why not take a cruise tour from Buzet or Nérac? An opportunity to rediscover a few of France’s historic events, because here in the 16th century, Jeanne d’Albret, the mother of future King Henry IV, established a capital of Protestantism. The Garenne castle and park still buzz with their exploits. The medieval Renaissance town also vibrates to more contemporary tunes with the great events proposed by its cultural centre.
Check out our 3 ideas for river tours in the Lot and Garonne Valleys.
DAY 4: Jurançon vineyards, heading up the Pyrénées
It’s all about Henry IV yet again because it was here, in Pau, that he was born in 1553. His link to wine took place early on as it is said his grandfather baptised him by rubbing his lips with a clove of garlic and a few drops of Jurançon wine. To find out more, head over to the castle-museum, and while you’re there, check out the old town as well as the modern-day one. A stop-off at the Halles (covered market) for lunch? And, a must-not-miss is boulevard des Pyrénées for its vista over the mountain range, which veers from blue to white depending on the season.
Jurancon vineyard © Pau Pyrenees Tourisme D.Guilhamasse-CRTNA
By heading off to the mountains, you’ll be able to see Jurançon vines growing – some planted cirque-style, highly photogenic – then meet up with the winemakers on the Jurançon Wine Route, or visit the Wine Centre in Lacommande, or the cooperative winery in Gan whose old winery is the heart of the visit. As Pau is at the gateway to the Pyrénées, you can enjoy the full range of mountain pleasures and leisure activities, from whitewater to free flight, or a bit of trekking (from total novice to professional) and take time out for tasting ewe cheese and other local products.
DAY 5: Irouléguy vineyards, ongi etorri* !
Welcome to the heart of French Basque Country, to one of Europe’s smallest vineyards, Irouléguy . Some 250 hectares spread over the communes of Saint-Etienne-de-Baïgorry, where the cooperative winery is located, the village of Irouléguy and that of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Saint-Jean-Pied-de Port, well-known to pilgrims on the Santiago de Compostela route and also labelled one of the “plus beaux villages de France” (most beautiful villages of France), is best discovered on foot, from its Unesco-listed Porte Saint-Jacques to its citadel and its panoramic view.
As you can imagine, there’s a host of hiking and trekking trails to enjoy . They will sharpen your senses for the visits which the Irouléguy winery proposes. And, so much the better if all this whets your appetite, as the region invites you to discover another AOC (PDO): Kintoa pork, bred in the Aldudes Valley, a few kilometres away.
* Welcome, in Basque
DAY 6: At the gateway to Bordeaux, Graves, Sauternes and Entre-deux-Mers vineyards
Between Bordeaux and Langon, head off on the Bordeaux en Graves and Sauternes wine route trails and discover the Pessac-Léognan, Graves, Sauternes and Barsac vineyards. Once here, you can enjoy winemakers’ warmhearted welcome as you delight in tasting sessions and visit the properties.
Create your own itinerary to suit your desires on the website : visit grands crus classés or small properties, enjoy a tasting initiation, take part in an activity in the vineyards, visit heritage sites and unusual places, stay over in charming accommodation… As you’ve guessed, there’s plenty of choice.
Chateau Rieussec Sauternes vineyard ©B Bloch-CRTNA
Like the Graves and Sauternes region, Entre-deux-mers is reputed for its wine route. Take time to discover this vast territory, bordered to the north by the Dordogne River and to the south by the Garonne.
Appellation, grape varieties, blends… never fear! To learn in a fun-filled way, Planète Bordeaux is the perfect place to start, at just 20 minutes from Bordeaux. Six spaces to find out all you need to know about the life of wine, from terroirs to vinification. And, there’s even a space for the kids!
BY LA RÉDACTION / editors of Nouvelle-Aquitaine-Tourisme.com
More info on www.nouvelle-aquitaine-tourisme.com/en/bordeaux/nouvelle-aquitaine-s-secret-vineyards
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And don't forget to view the video on Bordeaux fete le vin!