The start of a love affair .....
Our drive into Bordeaux, though on the motorway (E72), rewarded us with glorious views of a landscape that varied hugely from those that we had seen before. We felt so lucky to be experiencing this area at this time of year as the bursts of autumnal colour made everything looked even more breathtakingly beautiful alongside the rows upon rows of grapevines, wide open pastures, enormous trees, church spires and towering castles. Above all though, the feature of this landscape which really set this area apart was the sky. I have never seen the sky look so huge, literally endless and so so blue. I am not sure why the sky here looked so different, possibly due to the huge plains, but it really was quite something to see and something I would never tire of looking at.
Have I mentioned the sky?!
We stopped at a aires for a break and the boys enjoyed playing with their remote control car that we had picked up for them at a second had shop in Castelsarrasin.
After the visual feast of our drive we found our destination "Chateau Haut Pezaud" just a few kilometers into the Dordogne. There were a few campers already parked up and we chose a site that was literally right between two rows of grapevines.
VERY excited to be going to a vineyard!
It was probably my favorite position yet and when we opened the doors Felix almost immediately positioned himself underneath a vine and started picking grapes and popping them straight into his mouth!
It really was the most incredible setting. The owners of the vineyard also had chickens and geese which the boys loved looking at although the geese did get a bit territorial! Mylo ran about, exploring our new terrain and kept bringing me back little flowers to keep.
We visited the onsite shop and had our own personal wine tasting session which was a brilliant experience given that we could see men and women in the fields picking grapes, and the machinery at work.
We purchased numerous bottles to ensure we were stocked up and also bought some local pate. It was the selling of this local fare that allowed the owners this piece of paradise to let campervans stay for free for up to three nights after which a 2E fee per night applies! Absolutely incredible, I wish we could have stayed here for months, eating grapes and drinking wine and truly and absolutely relaxing in the beauty of it all.
The morning after our arrival the rain came so, knowing that we only had a week left until our crossing back to England, we pushed on to St Emilion. A clearing in the weather gave Jeremy the opportunity to skate down a road which he of course snapped up :-)
The mist and moisture from the rainfall seemed to enhance the beauty around us and we were thankful to get stuck behind a grape collector as it it meant we take in even more of the gorgeous surroundings. We savored an exquisite route through clustered vineyards and chateaux, linked together by quiet lanes which made us feel as though we were the only ones who had discovered the heart of Bordeaux.
We arrived at "Yelloh Saint Emilion" campsite at 7.30pm and made a decision to splash out and eat "a la carte". After ordering our food we had a chance to look around the campsite and were wowed by the facilities. There was a heated swimming pool and jacuzzi, tennis courts, mini golf, a bouncy castle, a lake with free hire boats, a giant chess set and a dedicated children's bathroom with 2 big frog baths and 2 animated showers and sinks. The campsite was virtually empty but the staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome and we got some good tips for exploring the area.
We started the following morning with a Croissant breakfast and with heavy rain outside we passed the time by getting out Mylo's art supplies.
By mid morning the rain had cleared and and we cycled into St Emilion center along quiet back roads among the vines. It was impossible not to feel part of Bordeaux while being surrounded by fruit laden vines. There was a distinctive pungent smell coming from some vineyards, which we assumed was the smell of freshly harvested grapes despite not seeing anyone working in the fields.
St Emilion itself is the most gorgeous town imaginable with small cobbled streets and a steep winding descent through the village flanked on every side by vines as far as the eye can see. We grabbed a quick sandwich lunch and sampled macaroons and other delicacies.
We all got soaked on the cycle home but were delighted to try out the fabulous kids bathroom.
The next day I couldn't resist heading out on my own to pick up some supplies from the local Boucherie which we all enjoyed for lunch
We knew we would need to leave tomorrow so made use of the facilities.
Our final day in Bordeaux was the day to sample some wine! The campsite was closing for the season so we parked up outside St Emilion and put the boys in the buggy. We discovered a side of St Emiilon that we hadn't seen before which looked down over the town and gave a concentrated view of the brilliant architecture
We happened across a wonderful market in a cloister and treated ourselves to some local delights.
We were unsure where to go wine tasting and popped out heads into one shop but were told that we could not try before buying. The prices outside looked a little bit out of our budget anyway!
Just around the corner we found the most gorgeous shop "Etablissements Martin" and were welcomed in by Charles who, from the moment we walked in the door, took such good care of us and gave us a wine tasting experience we will never forget.
We tasted 7 wines and learned a HUGE amount and left with 4 bottles, 2 for now and 2 to keep. Charles let us hold some bottles of some VERY expensive wine, I can't remember how much the most expensive was but it was in the thousands so thank goodness we didn't drop it!
We walked off the wine from the tasting and gave the boys a picnic dinner before saying goodbye to Bordeaux which farewelled us with the most magnificent sunset, from an unforgettable sky.