Bordeaux Wine Tour
Bordeaux turned out to be an easy train connection from Paris CDG Airport via TGV train.
After making prior arrangements for bike rental with O2 Cycles in Bordeaux, we were met at the start of our cycle tour at the Pouillac rail station, about an hour train ride from Bordeaux. Norbert came with bikes & all the necessary accessories, as well as some guides for some recommended rides in the region.
We started with a circuit through some of the many vineyards around Pouillac. Right away we were surrounded by vineyards. There are many small growers as well as renowned estates such as Rothchild, with its Grand Crus. The following video shows some highlights of the Vineyard tour starting at the Paulliac Gare (Rail station) and ending at our hotel in Pauillac.
This got us accustomed to the bikes & made for several photo ops as we passed chateaus, lush vineyards & small wine villages.
The following day we began with a ride to the ferry in Lamarque, then crossing of the Gironde Estuary to Blaye and riding along the other side of the river to Bourg.
We discovered route into town that avoided traffic brought us to the port, with a welcoming park alongside the river. We spent some time exploring the old center, with it’s narrow & steep streets.
We had already found that Bourg itself seemed to have limited accommodations. The only hotel had been closed because of a fire. So we chose a Chateau, up the hill from Bourg, that more than met our expectations. This was a Chambres de Hôte & they serve breakfast; but, you’re on your own for dinner. The Chateau de Grave has been in this family for generations & offered a few rooms in the “tower”. We sipped their wine, walked the grounds & enjoyed a refreshing dip in the pool. This is the life!
The following day we were off to St Emilion & thanks to extensive Google searches, we devised a route that kept us on small quiet roads for most of the ride. The big thing is getting through the larger cities, like Liborne & also finding good ways over the big Autoroutes & rail tracks. The only place this really could not be avoided was the last few km on the D243 into St Emilion, where the traffic is heavy & the narrow road is shared with cars, buses, trucks & bikes.
St Emilion was worth an extra day stay, as we partook in the interesting underground tour & had time to roam freely to see the historic town. This is truly wine central with wine shops offering degustation all through this tiny town. We also picked one of O2’s suggested loops around some of the surrounding small wine villages.
Just outside of town was a lovely stopover for pilgrims enroute to St Jacque de Compostila on the long trek into Spain. Note the signpost with the distance posted, along with the signature sea shells.
From St Emilion, we started reversing our way back to Bordeaux. We headed to Sauveterre la Guyenne, which didn’t seem to offer much; however, it had one of the best TI’s we had encountered; manned by an English speaking local who offered maps & good advice. This town dates from 1281 & still has its 4 town gates intact and an impressive church.
The big selling point is that this is where we get on the Piste Cyclable for the 56km ride into Bordeaux on the following day. The one hotel/gas station/restaurant had no less than 9 other cyclists staying on the night we had reserved.
This cycle path made for a really nice ride as we pedaled past forest & fields & passed by what remained of an old rail line. The remnants are the old stations. The town of Creon has put their’s to good use with a TI, bike rental/repair, as well as picnic tables & rest stop facilities, which are always welcome. It was an easy & well marked ride into Bordeaux, which we found to be a very pedestrian & bicycle oriented small city with many areas off limits to cars. We hit the TI the next day & spent a pleasant day doing the self guided walking tour of the old town & some of the parks. We turned in our rented bikes in Bordeaux; but, as is the case with many cities, they offer racks of “city bikes” which can be rented easily if you have a credit card with chip.
I can’t say enough about this route into Bordeaux. It is well signed & in excellent condition. This is also where we saw our first lovely sunflowers of the tour. If you pick up the route brochure, it outlines the towns near the trail & their historic buildings, as well as restaurants. This path took the place of a disused rail line, as you will notice while passing by some of the old rail stations along the way. In Creon, about 24km from Bordeaux, the rail station area is a TI & there are bicycle amenities beside the trail & a picnic area.
The final km’s into Bordeaux keep cyclists safely away from the autos & we found this an excellent approach to a larger city.
We spent the next day exploring Bordeaux, which has embraced the inner city for cyclists & pedestrians. If you don’t have a bike of your own; no problem. There are kiosks through the city for quick & easy rental. Many streets are pedestrian & cycle only.