Southwestern France: the ancient region of ‘la France profonde’ of old. Home to two of the country’s most idyllic regions—Bordeaux and the Dordogne— each hauntingly beautiful and quintessentially French.
Bordeaux captivates with its neoclassical charm, stunning châteaux and grand grapes—a place where viticulture is considered a fine art and its practitioners are revered as master alchemists. Following the river upstream you’ll find Dordogne, a region that has managed to remain very much a part of old France with its prehistoric caves and gastronomic pleasures—not to mention the immediate warmth and authenticity of the locals. Wind your way through these stunners, getting to know the region’s cultural landscape and unique flavours.
Cité Du Vin
It’s a town, a wine, and a province: thrice-named Bordeaux welcomed its new Cité du Vin (City of Wine) in 2016, a museum and educational centre that celebrates the unmistakable heritage of the region. With 44,000 square feet and eight floors, this decanter-shaped building celebrates the unmistakable heritage and centuries of viticulture in the region and around the world. With eight floors, a panoramic tasting room that affords you a 360-degree view of Bordeaux and the Garonne River, there’s lots to enjoy (even if you aren’t a total wine snob). The museum is more interactive and fun rather than overly academic or stuffy.
Fête Du Fleuve (River Festival)
The biggest festival in Bordeaux, this spectacle happens only every other year, and it celebrates the mighty Garonne River, the lifeblood of the region. Splashy concerts featuring international performers, an opening-day parade with fireworks, lights and music framing the town and the Pont de Pierre bridge, initially constructed in 1821 by Napoleon for the purpose of expediting armies to fight in Spain. All the fun culminates in the traditional mass swim across the Garonne, where hundreds of brave souls hop in for a quick swim (but not before grabbing a swig of Merlot). The next edition is set for 2019.