Savoring Bordeaux – Journal & Topics Media Group

By Janet Steinberg
Special to Journal & Topics

The Monument aux Girondins, the fountain commemorating the Girondins of the French Revolution, is located at the edge of the Esplanade des Quinconces.

“God created only water”, said Victor Hugo, “man created wine”. And what better place to taste this wine than in Bordeaux and the surrounding Aquitaine region. The historic region of Aquitaine, the largest region in France, forms the southwestern corner of the country. This is the land of “quackers” and cheese… where the word “duck” evokes more than a Disney character. In Bordeaux, you will devour this delicacy in the form of pâté, confit, duckling, foie gras, or simply grilled on the vine. You will snack on goat cheese, reblochon and camembert which will give new meaning to the word “cheese”. No wonder Charles de Gaulle once exclaimed, “How can you govern a nation with 246 different kinds of cheese?

The typical vineyards offer art, history and culture as well as wine. (Photos by Janet Steinberg)

Sniff… swirl… sip. Contemplate it. Inhale it. Taste it. Once you’ve had even a single taste of Bordeaux wine, you’ll never drink a glass of wine again. Like the best Francophiles, you’ll know it’s something to savor. This region of France paints a very varied landscape, an ever-changing palette of forests, rivers, dunes, plateaus, valleys and hillsides. It is a region where the origin of man dates back thousands of years.

The city of Bordeaux, which has carefully preserved its elegant 18th century architecture, is an international tourist destination with more than 350 historical monuments. After Paris, it is the city with the most listed or listed monuments in France. Bordeaux represents a centuries-old cultural influence of rare permanence and richness. With its extraordinary heritage of classical, neoclassical and contemporary architecture, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.

The Water Mirror built in 2006 is the largest reflecting pool in the world.

Located opposite the Place de la Bourse, on the banks of the Garonne, is Le Miroir d’eau. Built in 2006, it is the largest reflecting pool in the world, covering 37,100 square feet. Less than an inch of water covers granite slabs that you can walk on while seeing your reflection in the water. It is one of the most photographed sites in the city.

The Great Synagogue of Bordeaux, built in the Hispano-Portuguese style, was inaugurated in 1882. It was recognized as a historic monument on July 20, 1998. The city has a special place in Jewish history as it was home to the Marranos , the “Jews” who fled there from Spain and Portugal after the Inquisition.

La Grosse Cloche is one of the oldest belfries in France.

La Grosse Cloche is one of the oldest belfries in France. The Grosse Cloche was cast in June 1775. Until the Liberation of France at the end of the Second World War, the bell announced all important events in the city, including fires and the start of the harvest. However, due to its weight and the risk of cracks that could cause the bell to vibrate, it now rings only on memorable occasions.

The spectacular Monument aux Girondins, the fountain commemorating the Girondins of the French Revolution is located on the Esplanade des Quinconces by the river. Along with the water mirror, it is another of the most photographed sites in the city.

Before exploring the surrounding wine regions, stop off at the Maison Du Vin De Bordeaux located in the center of the city. They will assist you with advice and a crash course in wine tasting. Let yourself be tempted by the color of good taste. (The color of good taste.) A circuit through the Bordeaux vineyards which stretches along the banks of the Gironde, the Garonne and the Dordogne, is a circuit through vineyards gently bathed in the fragrant breezes of iodine from the Atlantic Ocean. . The 250,000 hectares of vines, which occupy this most favorable location in the southwest of France, represent a third of the total wine production in France. A variety of soils, subsoils, microclimates, grape varieties and traditions generate a diversity of nuances and bouquets and offer a range of wines unique in the world. (Red wines; dry white wines; sweet white wines; and dessert white wines.)

20th-century Colonel Sanders reigns supreme over 18th-century street Bordeaux.

The UNESCO village of Saint-Emilion, with its 13th century ramparts and surrounding moat carved into solid rock, is a picturesque town nestled in a horseshoe-shaped niche in the rocky hills overlooking the Dordogne valley. A visit to the village includes monuments such as the Collegiate Church with its magnificent 12th century cloister and the Monolithic Church, a 12th century church carved into one of the cliffs above the town. It is the largest underground church in Europe. Adjoining the church, the catacombs include a mass grave and numerous tombs dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. Even if you’re not a wine lover, the history and architecture of Saint-Emilion are also worth a visit.

Château d’Issan is one of the oldest vineyards in the Médoc. The history of this ancient domain dates back to when this French province was part of the British crown. Above the stone entrance are engraved the Latin words: Regum Mensis Arisque Deorum. (For the table of kings and the altar of the gods.) No wonder Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph chose Issan as his favorite wine. Nearby, the town of Margaux is home to the world famous Château Margaux wines.

Occupying roughly the same area as the former province of Périgord, the department of Dordogne is the third largest in France. A day in the Dordogne is a day of castles, caves and Périgord’s black diamond, the truffle. Of the 1,000 castles in the Dordogne Valley, Château Beynac is probably the most impressive. Home base of the French during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453), Beynac was built at dizzying heights on an escarpment dominating the Dordogne. It commands a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.

A visit to Lascaux II, in Montignac, reveals an exact subterranean replica of the original prehistoric cave that stands a few kilometers away. Lascaux cave, the most beautiful of all decorated prehistoric caves, was closed in 1963 to protect its precious paintings. The Montignac reproduction of Lascaux II, begun in 1972, was inaugurated in July 1983.

Your stay in the Dordogne must include a visit to Sarlat. To visit this Renaissance city is to travel to the living past. Medieval architectural gems, which span from the 12th to the 18th century, have been carefully preserved and restored with exemplary skill. It was in Sarlat that I first learned the French country tradition of faire chabrol. “Making chabrol” involves finishing your bowl of creamy blanc de tourain (heavenly garlic and egg soup), pouring in enough red wine to cover the tablespoon, lifting the bowl and drinking it. Reason enough to visit the Dordogne.

Savor the flavor of Bordeaux. Cheers ! Cheers!

Photo credits: Janet Steinberg

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