Bordeaux Fete le Vin

Dec 26th, 2015, 12:32 PM
  #1  
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Bordeaux Fete le Vin

My wife and I will be in Paris for business in mid-June and were planning to split the following week 6/18-6/25 in Dordogne (perhaps 4 days) and Bordeaux (perhaps a couple days). It turns out that the Bordeaux Wine Festival is 6/23-26 and I am guessing it will be totally packed and chaotic for the Festival. We love wine and I am sure the festival would be a spectacle but we would probably prefer to see Bordeaux some day under more sedate circumstances. Does anyone know whether the weekend before the festival begins would already see a very crowded Bordeaux? Thanks very much for suggestions. From other discussion topics I am sure that many will feel we should just spend the entire week in Dordogne!

Ted Golos
Madison, Wisconsin
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Dec 27th, 2015, 05:31 AM
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Yes, it will be jam packed, not to mention very, very expensive. Bordeaux has seen such a renaissance of culture in the past few years it's probably one of the last places in France I'd want to be sharing with a few hundred thousand wine mavens. I'd save it, and go for more than 2 days.

There's plenty of great wine in the Dordogne, and if you must have some fancy, special Bordeaux wine all it takes is a trip to a Julien de Savignac or other respected caviste...or frankly even a supermarket. And there are all the lovely vineyards in the Bergerac area that you don't have to share with busloads of visitors.
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Dec 27th, 2015, 06:05 AM
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Having spent two holidays in the last two years in the Bordeaux area I'd not say avoid the place and remember the city of Bordeaux is not where the wine is made, only where the business of wine is conducted.

The Bergerac region is pretty wonderful and along with Montbazillac (famous for its sweeties) is an easy jog to the west while Blaye and Bourg are equally enticing even before you head into the Bordeaux sub regions.

If you follow my name back you'll threads about buying wine and about cycling making me hungry for french food which might give you some ideas
bilboburgler is online now  
Dec 27th, 2015, 07:05 AM
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Take a look at photos of crowds from last year's Fête du Vin:

http://www.bordeaux-fete-le-vin.com

I'm not a big fan of crowds like that.
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Dec 27th, 2015, 10:51 AM
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Thanks for replies. I think we will just base in the Sarlat area and travel around for the week. I've seen other Dordogne threads that have many ideas. Is a day trip from Sarlat to St. Emilion worth the time? We are not so wine-focused as experiencing something different from the Dordogne villages, and St. Emilion sounded like a change, although I haven't looked to see how far a drive it is. I have read that it does get crowded in season, although we will be in Dordogne 6/18-6/25 which may not be too busy yet.
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Dec 27th, 2015, 11:15 AM
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A lot of people are bowled over by St-Emilion. I'm not, finding it overpriced and pretentious. The monolithich church is worth a visit, but none of it IMO holds a candle to the myriad sites and scenery of the Dordogne. It's about 2 hours, maybe a bit more depending on the route you take, between Sarlat and St-Emilion. For my money, if you want to see something different from Dordogne villages (and you may not!), I'd drive the 2 hours to Toulouse.
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Dec 27th, 2015, 12:43 PM
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Thanks StCirq for your reply. We like the idea of just staying in one place for the week rather than splitting the week between two slightly different locations.

If we base in one town, I'm looking at Sarlat, Domme, Roque-Gageac or someplace nearby based on other Dordogne threads. Do you have a recommendation?
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Dec 27th, 2015, 01:21 PM
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Well, it depends...Sarlat is of course the market hub of the region, and a large place by comparison to most. It certainly has a lot more shops, cafés, restaurants, and commerce than most other places, which is good if you want to walk to a nice place for dinner, have some wine, and walk home again. But by the end of June it's starting to get really crowded, especially on market days (Saturday and Wednesday), and getting in and out of town can get tiresome.

I wouldn't recommend Domme or Roque-Gageac at that time of year, either. Domme is a very touristy hill town, darling in its own way and with possibly the best view ever of the Dordogne Valley, but a lot of the shops are selling "Made in China" souvenirs. Also the only way to get into and out of the town is through one of two enormous old stone portals - beautiful to look at, but a total pain if there's any traffic, because only one car can fit through at a time.

La Roque-Gageac is also a stunning setting, but it's built up right at riverside, with one tiny two-lane road that runs along the riverbank and the one sidewalk in town. A couple of tour buses and it can take you 40 minutes to get through town (whereas you could walk it in under 10). Also, people will likely be full of kayakers and canoeists by the end of June, and the foot and automobile traffic they generate can be daunting. Same goes for Beynac. All these places should be visited, but may not be the best choices for a base.

I would look for someplace a little less touristed, a place that has plenty of cafés and shops but that's not on the heavily trodden tourist beat, someplace that isn't all clogged up with traffic (though it won't be HORRIBLE in June anywhere). Look at places like St-Cyprien, Le Bugue, Meyrals, Monpazier, Montignac, Belvès, Siorac, Le Buisson...these are more "ordinary" towns, though they are all beautiful, but they are geared more toward locals than tourists.
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Dec 27th, 2015, 07:25 PM
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We were in Southern France for September. Sarlat was an ideal base for day trips in all directions, Les Eyzies, Domme, Beynac, Roque-Gageac, Castelnaud. Once we left Sarlat there were hardly any cars on the roads which was surprising. We spent an hour or two in Montignac as friends of friends of ours have bought a place there, but found nothing to be memorable or charming, plus it is rather out of the way for visiting villages you mentioned. We loved our half day in St. Emilion, but were driving from Bordeaux to Sarlat and thus it was en route. In mid-September St. Emilion was very crowded, but that didn't bother us at all. Different geography than we'd seen in Paulliac, St. Julien, Margaux (all of which were completely uncrowded).

In Sarlat, we stayed a couple blocks south of the historic area and enjoyed the walk to and from dinner each evening. We spent 5 nights there, then went east to Rocamadour before heading south to Albi & Toulouse. It seemed easier to see Autoir, Loubressac, St. Cere, Figeac based in Rocamadour than from Sarlat. Do not miss Rocamadour; it is perhaps an hour drive from Sarlat.
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Dec 27th, 2015, 08:36 PM
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Thank you again, planning this trip has been a pleasant diversion for Christmas weekend.
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Dec 27th, 2015, 11:33 PM
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September is very different from the end of June.
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Dec 28th, 2015, 05:25 AM
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St E is based in a bowl with steep walking and those shops not selling wine are selling expensive tourist tat. Lovely views can be had but in crowds I might avoid.

Monbazilliac on the other hand is a very small village with one chateau over looking the valley with a fine park you can walk around, plus a good wine tasting area. The village also holds two restaurants, one is Michelin type and not bad, the other is bar/snack place with a great cook and beautiful garden dining which is probably worth going to for that alone. If you want a quick dive into Bergerac, come from the south, park on the southside of the river (to the west of the bridge) walk across the bridge and stay in the old town.

As a wine buff I'd swap these last 2 for St E every time.
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Dec 29th, 2015, 09:43 PM
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As StCirq said, the crowds in late June are far bigger than in Sept. As much as Sarlat is a beautiful town (and it is a town, not a small village), there are many other beautiful, authentic villages to stay in, without such summer crush. Several have already been suggested. If you want to make it a bit of a winery wander through the Dordogne, there are great wineries just north of Bergerac in the Pecharmant region, if you're into reds. Just near them, you could stay in a beautiful chambres d'hotes like La Libertie. Or just 10 mins drive south of Bergerac, there's iconic Chateau Monbazillac, as mentioned by Bilboburgler, for its famous semi-sweet whites and other varietals. From there you can head to 'Plus Beaux' villages like Monpazier and Belves, which have all amenities and good dining choices. North of the Dordogne, there are many options, but you will find good hotels or chambres d'hotes in & around St Cyprien, Tremolat, Limeuil or Montignac.
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