Hello All ---
We're a group of 3 Americans traveling for two weeks in France. We're planning on visiting the Bordeaux region with a car from Toulouse July 28-29th (arriving on the evening of the 27th). This is part of a two week trip.
We are hoping to stay in a chateau or b&b in the region for the 27th and 28th and visit some vineyards on the 27th and morning of the 28th. Then we will travel to the city of Bordeaux in the afternoon and stay there on the 29th before flying out of France.
We are much more familiar with Italian wines than French wines and we don't speak French. In Italy we toured Tuscany and spent a few wonderful days wandering from vineyard to vineyard and getting informal tastings. We did this unguided. We understand Bordeaux is much more formal --- requiring advanced bookings (sometimes from an esteemed person in the industry), proper attire, and sometimes a guide/driver.
1) Does the whole area of Bordeaux only do very formal tastings? Is there a part of Bordeaux this is smaller and more casual? If not, is there another region nearby that also has full-bodies complex wines?
2) How is it best to accomplish the bookings and driving? Do we need a driver, a guide? Can we drive ourselves (one of us will not be drinking)
3) How many vineyards could one expect to see in a day? We were reading about 3 a day.
4) St Emilion seems like the most beautiful town and surrounding region. Will it be overly touristy this time of year? Are there surrounding towns that are less so? Are there more areas like St Emilion? We know Medoc is very famous, but the region does not sound very interesting. Is this true?
5) How is the region to drive through? We would like to see old architecture and countryside that's interesting and varied, etc in our drive between Toulouse, wine country, and Bordeaux city.
6) Is it possible to do this region affordably? If so, what would be the best way?
7) We also know that knowledge of the Bordeaux wines would make the experience more valuable. Without speaking French or having much knowledge, would you advise us to travel to Bordeaux for wine tasting? Is there another more accessible region you'd recommend?
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