What to expect
Our Bordeaux Winetrail Cycling Holiday is a fantastic exploration of the wines from the most famous vineyard region in the world.
We start in Les Eyzies and spend Sunday cycling along the Dordogne to the edge of the Bordeaux vineyards. From Monday we're in wine country. We'll explore little-known islands of quality, such as Pécharment near Bergerac, as well as famous vineyards in St Emilion and the Haut Médoc. A feature of this cycling tour are the exquisite dessert wines that we'll taste in Monbazillac and Haut Montravel, and we finish up exploring the médoc on the borders of the Atlantic.
Along the way, of course, back roads, vineyards, great food, and truly spectacular views across the Gironde.
- Single Room Supplement: +£365
- Join in London +£265
- Join in Paris +£195
- Transfer from Train Station: +£95
- Airport Transfer: +£260
- Self-Drive: +£170
Day 1 Always Start A Cycling Holiday With a Damn Good Dinner!
We start from Les Eyzies in the heart of the Périgord, and meet up in the evening for a feast of gourmet food at Le Moulin de la Beune, my favourite hotel in the region.
Day 2 No Wine Tasting Yet ... but More Gourmet Food
This isn't wine country yet, but it is beautiful country. Our cycling holiday takes us over the 'Cingle de Tremolat' where we're treated to 3*** views across the Dordogne valley.
We take a lunch break at the lovely Bastide town of Limeuil where the Dordogne and Vézère rivers meet. We end the day at Lalinde, another Bastide and once an important town where the canal took boat-traffic past the rapids of the Dordogne.
Day 3 We Hit The Ground Running - Wine Tasting with the Count
Today we enter Bordeaux wine country. We're headed for St Foy La Grand, just the other side of the Bergerac appellation, but en route we visit two very special areas within the Bergerac vineyard.
First up is Pécharment, locally styled as 'The St Emilion of Bergerac'. This appellation dates from way before Bergerac was similarly honoured, and the growers take great pride in their wines.
We'll partake in wine tasting at Château Tiregand, courtesy of Le Comte de St Exupéry (hold on, I thought they'd done away with that lot in the revolution ...).
The Comte is a lovely bloke, a great host and as well as being one of the most respected winemakers in the region, he makes wine tasting interesting and a great pleasure.
In the afternoon we continue our cycling tour through Monbazillac, home of exquisite sweet wines. These are among my favourite wines, and extremely difficult to make. The yields are tiny, and as you'll see the vignerons are justly proud of their wines. Dominique Vidal, of Chateau Fonmourges where we'll partake in wine tasting this afternoon, is a specialist with an encyclopeadic knowledge of his subject.
We end the day in St Foy, one of the best preserved Bastides in France. En route we pass through Bergerac, with a beautiful 'old town' and a rich history.
Day 4 No Sleep 'til St Emilion!
Today we follow the Dordogne, first passing through the appellation of Montravel. Most wine-drinkers would be hard placed to locate Montravel, but actually it's a fascinating appellation.
A single estate can produce wines under five separate "Appellation d'Origin Contrôllée", and at le Puy Servain we meet one of the finest winemakers in the region; the list of prizes runs to several books - literally - and he's been featured more than once in Decanter magazine. Wine tasting at Puy Servain can be a marathon - we'll have to pace ourselves!
Passing the 'monument of shame' (the Monument Talbot, where the English Admiral Talbot finally lost The Hundred Years War in 1453) we cycle through Castillon to arrive in St Emilion.
We have the chance to visit Château Belair, one of St Emilion's top wine estates, for a wine tasting and a tour of their amazing underground caverns, and this evening we eat at the restaurant of Francis Goulée.
Of our seven cycling tours, this is perhaps the finest gourmet food of all, and in fact St Emilion, with its medieval cobbles, centuries-old wine traditions and ancient monolithic church, is just unforgettable. I remember well my first visit, and I never tire of seeing it again.
Day 5 Guess What? More Wine Tasting. Today's Wednesday, This Must Be Fronsac
Today is a long cycle ride - almost 40 miles. We leave the Dordogne behind us at Libourne and begin our acquaitance with the Gironde that will last the rest of the week. We pass through St Andre de Cubzac, birthplace and resting place of Jacques Cousteau, and we cycle through Pomerol, Fronsac and the Côtes de Bourg on our way to the Gironde port of Blaye, gateway to Bordeaux.
Our hotel tonight is the delightful Auberge de Porches, where the owner has a deserved reputation for her adventurous cooking - she needs almost no provocation to pull out articles featuring her hotel and its gourmet cuisine. Blaye boasts an absolutely huge Citadelle that once protected the approaches to Bordeaux from the English, who used to own the place.
Depending on timing today, we can taste at one of the premier estates in this under-rated appellation, Château Peybonhomme-les-Tours, and perhaps at the Syndicat du Vin in Blaye, courtesy of the aptly named Monsieur Château.
Day 6 The Haut Médoc, the Heartland of Bordeaux
Lazy day, and isn't it about time? We cross the Gironde by ferry to Cussac, and make our way to the Bernard family at Château du Raux in the Haut Médoc. This is exactly the popular image of wine-making in France, a family estate producing quality wines as a family business.
The son, Patrick, is a highly qualified wine-maker, and provides a fascinating insight into wine - with luck you'll be wine tasting direct from the barrel. The process of extracting wine from the barrel is fascinating if you haven't seen it before, and involves a drill, a crowbar and an ingenious device that holds a glass and a candle. Sound a bit like your dentist? You'll have to come and see it.
After lunch we'll visit one of the more famous names of the Haut Médoc at Chateau Lynch-Bages, an opportunity to see one of the finest names in wine-making going about their business. Time and energy permitting, we might also have the opportunity to visit the museum at Mouton Rothschild. Normally I recommend that we avoid the carefully manicured estates of the Grand Cru Classé in the Haut Médoc, but it is fascinating to see the difference. I wouldn't want to spend a week in them, but an afternoon seeing how the other half of the wine world live is fascinating. Tonight we stay in Pauillac, the world centre of fine wine.
Day 7 The Médoc. Still in Bordeaux, Just a Little Bit Lower
Today we 'descend' from the Haut Médoc (literally the High Medoc) to the Médoc, a drop of almost 10 metres!
The landscape changes. Centuries ago Dutch engineers built causeways between the gravel areas of the Médoc and drained the land in between to reclaim the land that we cycle through today, and the gravel deposits are where the vineyards are.
Leaving behind the well-known estates of the Haut Médoc we have the chance to visit fascinating estates today.
At Le Tour de By they still use huge wooden vats that are almost never seen these days, and at Château Loudenne we can see how a superbly organised commercial vineyard works. Our final resting place tonight is a return to Pauillac.
Please take careful note of the train times. Our transfers are scheduled to meet these designated trains; if these train times are inconvenient, please contact us so that we can be sure of arranging appropriate transfers.