Paris and Provence tend to be the two most-requested destinations when booking a cooking vacation to France. But one foodie destination that is increasingly drawing attention is situated in the country’s southwest: Bordeaux. Known for its legendary wines and surrounding stunning vineyards, the historic city is becoming more of a tourist destination in no small part to the La Cité du Vin, an immersive museum that’s been called an amusement park for lovers of wine.
Come for the museum that opened just a year ago, and then stay to explore the city’s food and wine scene, and everything that entails, from visits to the area chateaux to wine tastings in the famous Medoc and St. Emilion vineyards. With more than 7,000 chateaux in the area alone — and more than 10,000 wines produced from those estates — there is an incredible amount of wine to taste and discover. That said, many chateaux are private, and many require advance appointments (making Bordeaux wine and cooking vacations like our Best of Bordeaux trip ideal — those appointments are made for you!)
During a wine estate tour and tasting, learn about how the land impacts the flavor of the wine, see the production process firsthand, and even learn how wines are blended. One must see during your tour of the Bordeaux area? St. Emilion. This medieval town is charming around every cobblestone turn and path.
Wine shops abound, and the history of the town is unlike anything other… especially the monolithic church (the church was carved from one piece of rock). From atop the church, the view of the Bordeaux countryside is simply breathtaking, something not to be missed.
Try out two regional recipes for duck breast in Bordeaux wine sauce.
But while the wines of the region often garner more attention, the cuisine of Bordeaux should be savored too. In fact, it’s incredibly diverse, from hearty comfort food dishes featuring ingredients like Bazas beef and Pauillac lamb, to seafood, particularly fresh oysters. The city of Bordeaux is heavily populated with Michelin restaurants, but you’ll find brasseries and canteens as well. Dishes are often seasonally inspired, but no matter what the time of year, be sure to finish your meal with a canelé – a custard-like cake – for dessert.
So when should you pack your bags for Bordeaux? Some of the best times to travel to Bordeaux for a wine and cooking vacation are in the late Spring — think May and June — or early Fall, when the grapes are still being harvested.
By Liz Hall
Learn more about the regions of France.
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