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Visiting Gironde, East of Bordeaux

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Hello everyone! In mid-late September my family of three, which includes two 11-year olds, is staying in a gite about 36 km east of Bordeaux. It's between Creon and Branne, 17 km South of Saint-Émilion.

I've been looking on the Internet, on Michelin maps, and various guidebooks, but I'd love to hear your suggestions on things to do, places to eat, thing to avoid, etc. in the area (nearby or farther afield, but understand that we are visiting Sarlat a bit after we leave here). There's not a lot of information available on this part of the Gironde compared to what I see about other places -- I get the impression not a lot of American visitors go to the area. We're especially interested in medieval and historical things around there, and we enjoy nature as well as unusual things, too. A little shopping doesn't hurt, either!

Our reason for visiting is somewhat unusual. Before he passed away the other year, my husband stumbled upon this region of France when he realized his (our) rather uncommon surname appears on a few things in the local area, from back when Eleanor of Aquitaine was about. That connection, to an ancient link we know precious little about, is the impetus for this adventure. In that sense we didn't choose it so much as it chose us :) . We're not beating that aspect of it to death, but it's an endearing, personal connection to an otherwise foreign place... something special dad discovered for his girls. So we're going to check it out. Omg.

The gite and accompanying Chateau where we're staying are in a vineyard, and I think we'll be there when the harvest starts up. We're renting a car during our stay. We don't have a lot planned for our week there as of yet because I want us to have time to settle in and get a sense of the area. Yes, I know a week (8 days) isn't much, but it's what we have, and even that is a gift :) .

Btw I've been trying to learn some French in preparation for this, but to be honest my skills are rather poor (and my pointy head keeps trying to default to what I barely remember from college Spanish classes [a looong time ago]). Though in my 40s this is my first trip overseas. Just so you know.

I recently posted a message about our stop in Amboise on the way down from Paris, and am very happy with and thankful for the information I've received from that. I'm hoping to glean some helpful insights from your collective conscious again. Please speak plainly but gently; you're party to our dreams here ;).

What do you suggest? Thank you!

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