Wine Regions of France: A Weekend in Bordeaux
France is synonymous with wine, and when you’re in France there are so many incredible options. When you look at a wine label in the U.S., you see the type of grape: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc… When you look at a wine label in France, you see the region: Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Côtes du Rhone…
Each region is known for wines that use certain varieties of grapes. Bordeaux wines are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends, while champagnes from Champagne blend grapes including Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. (Click here for a map of France that breaks down grape varieties by region.)
This past week I had the opportunity to visit these two wine regions, taste some of the local wines, and explore the cities of Bordeaux and Reims! Today’s post is all about a weekend in Bordeaux. Enjoy!
After kicking off our weekend with a delicious breakfast at Plume, my friend Emily and I did not wait long to taste some of these lovely canelés at la Toque cuivrée. We had fun tasting the different sizes - bouchée, lunch, and gros - each with a different ratio of soft custardy center to crunchy caramelized exterior. We decided the lunch was best, a happy medium.
We were both really excited to see the iconic miroir d’eau which creates a stunning reflection of the Place de la Bourse, but unfortunately it was off for the winter. It was more of a “miroir de puddles” from the rain that was falling on and off all weekend. We did, however, get a view of the gilets jaunes gathering for their 17th weekend of protests... Oh well, la prochaine fois! Next time!
Emily is a true foodie and did an awesome job of finding our lunch spot, Horace. The dishes at Horace were as beautiful as they were delicious and bien sûr we enjoyed them with a glass of Bordeaux! We ate so well that we didn’t have room for the beautiful desserts and ended up going back for Sunday brunch. This time we knew to leave little extra space for pistachio cheesecake and house made carrot cake.
After lunch we hit a few more important landmarks including la Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux and la place des Quinconces where there was a fair going on. It turns out Nicki Minaj was in town and we missed her at the fair by a few hours. How wild would that have been?! Nicki Minaj in France.
Another shout out to Emily for discovering our next stop, Le Bar à Vin. Located on the ground floor of the Bordeaux Wine Council building, this bar offers a full range of Bordeaux wines from just two euros to eight euros a glass. It’s a great way to try a few different kinds without breaking the bank!
In the evening we strayed from wine to cocktails. Symbiose is a lunch spot by day and a sort of speakeasy by night. You walk into what seems like a deserted restaurant and step behind a clock to bustling night life and curious cocktails made with unusual ingredients like milky oolong. It was a lot of fun!
Sunday started as many Sundays in France do with a trip to the market. The Marché des Capucins was bursting with life. Some people were picking up groceries for the week while others were relaxing at tables with plates of local oysters. We tasted a sweet treat called le puits d’Amour, a pâte a choux topped with a mix of pastry cream and meringue that is caramelized in the oven. I don’t know what it was about these little guys but I loved them!
As France can get pretty quiet on Sunday afternoons and evenings, we also picked up some fresh pasta, red wine sauce, parmesan cheese, bread, a few local cheeses, and a bottle of wine for dinner at Emily’s Airbnb. It’s so fun to build a meal with items from the market!
Our last big stop in Bordeaux was the Cité du Vin, a museum for all five senses dedicated to all things wine. We got to smell wine in each stage of production, learn about the various colors of wine, sit around virtual tables to hear about wine culture from the experts, and taste a glass at the end. The amount of thought, detail, and technology that went into this museum was astounding. I’ve heard it referred to as an amusement park for adults and I see why!
Merci for taking a little trip to Bordeaux with me! Stay tuned for another wine regions of France post. This time we’ll be going to Reims in Champagne! In the mean time, maybe you’ll stop by your local wine shop and pick up a bottle of Bordeaux for yourself!
Warm wishes from me to you!