Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Driving Tour of Bordeaux, France

If you are a wine lover like me, you are bound to have included a tour of the Bordeaux region on your bucket list. I have put together a driving tour for you, which will take you to the main wineries of the Medoc, as well as to some lesser known vineyards, which are definitely worth a visit. Print out the map below (it is a large size file, about 6MB, so it will print out nicely on a letter sized sheet of paper) and take it with you on your next trip to France! :)  This tour covers approximately 85 miles.
*Please note that many wineries shut down during the month of August, which means you will not be able to do wine tasting or visit the sites. Some wineries also require a reservation for wine tastings, be sure to call ahead*


The city of Bordeaux is the sixth-largest city in France, and you could spend several days sightseeing there, with its many art galleries, museums, and wine shops, of course. Even if you don't plan on doing much sightseeing there, I highly recommend that you check out the "Maison du Vin de Bordeaux" and pick up informative leaflets on all of the various vineyards in the region. It is located at 1 Cours du 30 juillet (PH: 05 56 00 22 66). EVENTS: The bi-annual Vinexpo trade fair takes place in June in odd-numbered years and offers the world's biggest showcase of wines from all over the world. Read wine journalist Jamie Goode's Vinexpo experience HERE.


From Bordeaux, head to (2) Ludon-Medoc, where you will pass Château la Lagune, one of the few Médoc classed estates that lie outside the appellations of Margaux, St Julien, Pauillac and St Estèphe. The unclassed Château Cantemerle is also here, as well as the good value Château Maucamps. In (3) Macau, turn right or a brief detour down to the banks of the Gironde, where you will find a couple of cafés and a nice view of the Gironde.

Next, continue on to (4) Labarde, and stop at Château Prieuré Lichine, a little further up the road in (5)Cantenac. This is one of the chateaux most geared to welcoming visitors and offers a display of old iron fire-backs and a collection of books by the man who created the estate, the Russian-American wine merchant and author Alexis Lichine.

Chateau Prieuré-Lichine

At (6) Issan, soon after passing the towers of  Chateau Palmer, you can make another detour to the moated, 16th-century Chateau d"issan. Down the road is Chateau Rauzan-Segla, another beautiful estate. At (7) Margaux, at the end of the avenue of Plane trees,Chateau Margaux behind impressive gates. You can stand on the spot where Thomas Jefferson must have stood 200 years ago to admire its classical façade.


Château at (8) Lamarque will more than likely remind you of a fortress where you would have seen knights in armour back in the medieval era. Fort Médoc, past Lamarque is also worth a stop. (9) St Julien-Beychevelle offers a wealth a impressive chateaux, with Beychevelle being the first you will encounter. Also worth a look are Château Ducru Beaucaillou and the three Léoville Châteaux:Las cases, Barton, and Poyferré.


Upon entering the appellation of Pauillac, you will see rival Châteaux of Pichon-Longueville Baron and Pichon-Longueville-Comtesse-de-Lalande. To your right is Château Latour's tower and, a little further on to your left, before you head into the quiet town of (10) Pauillac, you will see Château Lynch-Bages. The road heads north, passing Châteaux Mouton-Rothschild and Lafite-Rothschild before leading you to the oriental façade of Château Cos d'Estournel. The road beside the château goes past (11) Marbuzet and on to (12) St Estèphe.


On your way back south, stop at (13) Listrac-Medoc, where producers like Châteaux Clarke and Fonréaud are trying to make softer reds than in the past, and in (14) Moulis-en-Médoc, where Châteaux Poujeaux, Maucaillou and Chasse-Spleen all offer good-value wines.


  1. Good job on the wine tour in France. Hope many people will appreciate the help you give them with these tips. Keep going.

  2. Thank you for the tips, this looks like a great driving tour!

    1. Thank you for your comment, I greatly appreciate it, and yes, those are amazingly beautiful drives! :)

  3. Hi. This drive looks like a very good option. Can you let me know how long is this itinerary (kilometers or number of days)?

    1. HI there, and thank you for your post. The total distance is approximately 168 Km, give or take a few. You could realistically complete the circuit in one day, but you would not be able to take as much time as needed I am sure. I recommend doing this over at least a 2 day period, stopping at a Bed and Breakfast near St Estephe or St Christoly-Medoc, then finishing the tour the following day. As always, it is a good bet to call Chateaux and wineries to make sure they are open for tours, as many of them shut down during the summer months. Take care!

  4. Replies
    1. Bonjour Emy, I would choose June over September because many of the wineries will close in August and may not open back up until later in September, which means that you'd miss out on some winery visits. June has great weather and everything is open. Bon voyage!