Why the Chateau de la Treyne is the Perfect Chateau Hotel in Dordogne France

Why the Chateau de la Treyne is the Perfect Chateau Hotel in Dordogne France

The Chateau de la Treyne is a fairytale castle perched on a cliff overlooking the Dordogne River below.   Isolated and romantic white stone walls capped with black turrets, Chateau de Treyne is every Beauty and the Beast castle ever imagined. You see the hulking mass first across a steel bridge crossing over the Dordogne and can easily imagine a misunderstood prince/beast hiding from the superstitious peasants below. We found this Relais & Chateaux hotel exceeds expectations in every respect not just the amazing location with its far reaching views over the French countryside  The Dordogne famously has more than 1000 chateaux, so its perfect place to try a chateau hotel. Even with a choice among chateau hotel Dordogne lovers single out Chateau de la Treyne as unique for its beauty and exceptional hospitality.

Chateau Hotel in Dordogne

Originally built in 1342, the Chateau de la Treyne France was destroyed by the King’s forces during the Religious Wars of the 16th century. The  owners of the Chateau at the time were supporters of the Protestant side. The Chateau de la Treyne was rebuilt in the 17th century when the owners returned to the Catholic religion.

A book details the extensive work done at the Chateau de Treyne to get it to current luxury standards.

A book details the extensive work done at the Chateau de Treyne to get it to current luxury standards.

The chateau was passed along among various lines of the family until 1910.  A wealthy industrialist bought the chateau and fixed it up.  The formal gardens were put in by a famous French landscape designer. The Gombert family have owned and operated the Relais & Chateaux hotel since 1982.

Fun fact! The Louvre storied some of its priceless Egyptian antiquities in Chateau de la Treyne during World War 2. 

Chateau de Treyne has 17 rooms some of which are suitable for families. There are 5 categories of rooms which range from the master suites to the standard rooms. 

Even amongst the hotels Dordogne France can boast a view of the river itself.

Even amongst the hotels Dordogne France can boast a view of the river itself.

Our luxury room overlooked the Dordogne River. The room was decorated in a charming red and white toile fabric.  The whole thing would have been even more romantic if our son wasn’t on his sofa bed in the corner of the room! 

Our romantic hotel room at the Relais Chateaux Dordogne France

Our romantic hotel room at the Relais Chateaux Dordogne France

The bathroom is spacious. I found the fixtures a bit old fashioned, for example, the corner Jacuzzi.. There is a separate (and great) shower. 

A nice welcome touch was the tray of baked goodies the pastry chef had left with a welcoming note in our room. 

A tray full of baked goodies welcomed us to our room at the Chateau de la Treyne

A tray full of baked goodies welcomed us to our room at the Chateau de la Treyne

There is a tiny little elevator that you can use to access all the floors. We, however, preferred the wide stone staircase with its cute little windows overlooking the Dordogne River. 

Family-Friendly (and Pet-Friendly) Chateau Hotel Dordogne

Although a fancy Relais Chateaux Dordogne hotel, we did not find Chateau de la Treyne to be stuffy. Both children and pets were made to feel welcome at this luxury hotel in Dordogne France.

Chateau de la Treyne Restaurant 

The Chateau de la Treyne restaurant has been rated as a one Michelin star restaurant. Located in the Louix XIII room on site, the restaurant is open for dinners. This room is a masterpiece of traditional luxury – a massive fireplace, coffered ceiling, tapestry lined walls and Aubusson rugs. 

The fabulous room in which the Chateau de la Treyne restaurant is located.

The fabulous room in which the Chateau de la Treyne restaurant is located.

The chef Stephane Andreiux uses regional products and flavours. He has been at the Chateau de la Treyne restaurant since 2001. You have a choice of set menus or a la carte as well as an extensive wine list.

Our dinner from the a la carte menu was superb. My husband and I both had foie gras to start. For the main course, I had fish and my husband and the veal. 

The Chateau de la Treyne restaurant is known for its use of foie gras.

The Chateau de la Treyne restaurant is known for its use of foie gras.

Our son ate with us at the Chateau de la Treyne restaurant.  There is a children’s set menu which includes a main course and a dessert. Our son chose to just have one of the mains from the adult menu – the lamb rack which is one of the famed dishes at the restaurant.

Lamb served three ways at the Chateau de Treyne

Lamb served three ways at the Chateau de Treyne

There was another table with children as well. Mostly though the Chateau de la Treyne restaurant was full of couples enjoying a fancy meal in a romantic setting. 

This Relais & Chateaux hotel has an extensive wine list.

This Relais & Chateaux hotel has an extensive wine list.

We also saw a couple of well-behaved French dogs in the restaurant. They trotted in like they belonged there and went under the table without a fuss.  Clearly my dog isn’t used to fine dining restaurant behaviour because she would have been sniffing around looking for attention from everyone. 

We were not lucky with the weather when we stayed at the Chateau de Treyne.  In good weather, you can dine on the terrace and watch the sunset over the Dordogne river below- simply beautiful!

The view from the terrace of the sun setting over Lacave France.

The view from the terrace of the sun setting over Lacave France.

We had coffee and petit fours in front of the elaborate woodburning fireplace which dates back to the time of the French Renaissance. It’s these little touches that set Chateau de Treyne apart from other hotels in Dordogne France.

After dinner nibbles in front of a roaring fire at this Chateau hotel in France

After dinner nibbles in front of a roaring fire at this Chateau hotel in France

Extensive Grounds

The Chateau de la Treyne is set on hundreds of acres with woodland and hiking paths. Along with the gardens, there is a heated pool open from April through October and a tennis court.

The Chateaux Midi Pyrenees are surrounded by nature.

The Chateaux Midi Pyrenees are surrounded by nature.

Exceptional Extras at Chateau de Treyne

The breakfast is also exceptional and served in the pretty Green Salon. It was easily the best hotel breakfast we have ever had. Breakfast is individually served at the table with freshly baked goods and fresh juice. 

At this Relaix Chateaux Dordogne visors enjoy both elegance in a relaxed atmosphere.

At this Relaix Chateaux Dordogne visors enjoy both elegance in a relaxed atmosphere.

My favourite design element? The fresh flowers everywhere. A totally charming yet elegant touch.

Location of the Chateau Hotel Dordogne

The Dordogne Chateau Hotel is located in the countryside between Sarlat and Rocamadour about 125 miles from Bordeaux and a 105 miles from Toulouse. The nearest airports are Toulouse and, if you are willing to chance Ryanair, Brive Dordogne (18 miles away). 

Hotels in Midi Pyrenees don’t come with a more stunning less than this clifftop location.

Hotels in Midi Pyrenees don’t come with a more stunning less than this clifftop location.

Things To Do Near This Chateau Hotel in France

The chateau hotel in France is a good location from which to base yourself for activities in the surrounding area of Perigord and Quercy. 

  • Prehistoric cave art at the Lascaux Caves with art from 17,000 years ago and the Pech-Merle cave has art from 20,000 years ago
  • The UNESCO world heritage site of Rocamadour built practically vertically into a cliffside
  • Go underground at the Lacave Caves discovered in 1902 and the cave system at Gouffre de Padirac discovered in 1889.
  • The beautiful medieval town of Sarlat-Le-Caneda
  • See the Dordogne valley by steam train on the Haut-Quercy tourist train which leaves from Martel 
  • The UNESCO designated world biosphere reserve of the Dordogne valley is full of chateaux to visit such as the 12th century Chateau de Castelnaud and the 16th century Chateau de Montal.
  • Wander through one of the best gardens in France, the Manor d’Eyrignac, famed for its topiary art.
  • Tour the vineyards in the Cahors Valley which are among the oldest in Europe and known for its Malbec
  • The region is full of summer music festivals such as the Jazz Festival in Souillac and classical music at Festival Vezere in Correze.
  • Visit local markets which are held in the nearby towns regularly, such as the Souillac market on Friday morning and Martel and Sarlat Markets held on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. 

Chateau de la Treyne France

The Chateau de la Treyne is in Lacave France. The hotel closes annually for 3 months from January to March. 

Want more than my Chateau de la Treyne review? Check out the great Chateau de la Treyne TripAdvisor review other hotel guests have given.

Make your booking now! Check out prices for Chateau de la Treyne on Expedia!

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This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them at no extra cost to you. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.

The Bordeaux Museum of Wine: Why We Loved It And So Did The Kids

The Bordeaux Museum of Wine: Why We Loved It And So Did The Kids

Opened in 2016, the swirly metal contemporary design of the Bordeaux Museum of Wine celebrates a tradition that goes back thousands of years. You may have heard that it is the best wine museum in the world and it really is. Recommended by friends with children similar in age to ours to go to the wine museum Bordeaux was known for because their kids loved it.  In this wine museum Bordeaux France really has created an eclectic edutainment-focussed explanation of wine and its culture. You learn so much about wine and viniculture at the Bordeaux museum of wines that you don’t even realise you are learning.

The Bordeaux Museum of Wine Bar & Restaurant 

Entry into the Musueum of Wine gives you a free glass of wine which you can pick up on the top floor bar. With thumping French club museum, the bar was clearly going for atmosphere. On the other hand,  the bar has great views.  The queues were long at the bar  so we decided not to bother with our free glass and headed to the Cité du Vin restaurant. 

The museum of wine Bordeaux  is situated on the banks of the Garonne.

The museum of wine Bordeaux is situated on the banks of the Garonne.

The next floor down is the Cité du Vin restaurant which is a nice place to have a glass of wine. The Cite du Vin restaurant is open all day from breakfast through dinner. We heard there were better dining options than the Cité du Vin restaurant but that we should go there for a drink for the fabulous views.

There is indeed a whole lot of choices on the menu at the Cité du Vin restaurant. We were a little surprised that many of the wines were local Bordeaux but that is part of the whole world wine experience. Moreover, you would think that since we were paying, La Cite du Vin restaurant would have been a better experience. No, the service was abysmal. 

La cite du Vin restaurant at the wine museum in Bordeaux

La cite du Vin restaurant at the wine museum in Bordeaux

What did we learn? There are better places in Bordeaux than the Museum of Wine for the experience of drinking wine. 

The Permanent Galleries At The Wine Museum Bordeaux

The actual Wine Museum Bordeaux is an elevator ride back down to the ground floor from the elevator bank that holds the Cité du Vin restaurant. You ascend via a staircase. to a series of 19 permanent exhibits spread out amongst a spacious 3000 sq.m. which are frankly … fascinating.

Multimedia screens make the material compelling.

Multimedia screens make the material compelling.

We thought we would spend a couple of hours at the Bordeaux museum of wines. Wrong, We were there until they pretty much closed the doors behind us. 

The interactive exhibits at the museum of wine Bordeaux

The interactive exhibits at the museum of wine Bordeaux

The Wine Museum Bordeaux France Educational Aspects

The very first exhibit at the City of Wine Bordeaux will underscore that this is a museum about world wine.  Bordeaux may be the wine capitol of the world but this wine museum in Bordeaux  is celebrating wine on a global scope. Large screen televisions take you on an aerial view of different vineyards around the world. Frankly, the global vineyard tour was mesmerising – the variety, the scale, the adaptations to the local climates and landscape – who knew? 

Large contemporary light space

What did we learn at the wine museum in Bordeaux? Lots. The history of the barrel process, fermentation, the different types of wine, the different types of terroir etc. 

Learning about grapes in short concise bits of information.

My favourite exhibit at the Bordeaux museum of wines had to be the Buffet of the Senses. Large dining tables were filled with glass cloche-type jars were you got to sniff the different aromas of both red and white wine.

Trying to sniff the different aromas that wine can have.

Trying to sniff the different aromas that wine can have.

I was also surprised to learn that there’s actually some white wine that looks red!

All the colors of red wine you can have at the wine museum Bordeaux

All the colors of red wine you can have at the wine museum Bordeaux

Even with all the emphasis on the global aspects of wine culture, you do learn a lot about Bordeaux and its wine regions.

There are some exhibits at the museum of wine Bordeaux that are not appropriate for children. Well above a child’s visual height, there are exhibits like peep shows where you can see wine and erotica. 

The relationship between wine and erotica were on plinths artfully placed well off the ground.

The relationship between wine and erotica were on plinths artfully placed well off the ground.

A Wine Museum in Bordeaux for the Digital Age

And, none of it was boring because the City of Wine Bordeaux has embraced a digital and interactive experience whole-heartedly. 

Even better? None of the exhibits were very long. You had options where you could spend longer but you didn’t need to. Perfect for our short-attention span world. You could easily flit  between exhibits like a butterfly punch drunk on spring nectar. 

Interactive exhibits in artfully shaped wine bottle stands at the wine museum Bordeaux France

Interactive exhibits in artfully shaped wine bottle stands at the wine museum Bordeaux France

One of the coolest features at the City of Wine Bordeaux is a smartphone device which is freely given to every visitor. This deice translates the exhibits into your own language when you are near a hotspot. 

Flights of Fancy at The City of Wine Bordeaux 

Some of the exhibits at the Bordeaux museum of wine are more fanciful. This is a wine museum in France after all. 

There’s a psychedelic movie where you recline back on a long sofa and snippets of the relationship between wine and love are played. You can explore how wine inspired great cultural works of art, literature etc. 

The interaction of wine and love – a familiar experience for many people.

Then the Bordeaux museum of wine takes on the concept of a dinner party. You get to sit inside an exhibit set up like a dinner party where the hologram attendees discuss the role of wine in things like celebrations or restaurants.

Some of the exhibits are eclectic and  entertaining. There is a movie where Pliny the Elder, Thomas Jefferson, Louix XIV, Alfred Hitchock, Napoleon, Winston Churchill, Rabelais and Voltaire among others are discussing wine at a banquet. All those male egos in one room, thank goodness there was plenty of free flowing wine!

A Wine Theme Park Bordeaux

The Bordeaux Museum of Wine has been marketed as a wine theme park. Be careful how you interpret this as an English speaker. Yes, it’s a wine theme park in that it has attractions that are clearly along the wine theme. 

Light and wine glasses create a modern art piece at the museum of wine Bordeaux

Light and wine glasses create a modern art piece at the museum of wine Bordeaux

On the other hand, unless I am on log flume plunging into a lake of Bordeaux along the lines of Splash Mountain at Disney, you have unnecessarily gotten my hopes up by calling it a wine theme park. The Bordeaux Museum of Wine is more a multi-media experience explaining wine and viniculture in highly effective and entertaining format. 

A Wine Museum in Bordeaux for Design Lovers

The Bordeaux museum of wine building itself is also a cool design meant to look like a aluminium and glass wine swirl rising 180 feet high into the sky. Some people say the shape is supposed to be a wine decanter, others that it is a stalk of grapes. It’s definitely organic and curvaceous. The museum’s design is as audacious for the average staid museum goer as New York’s Guggenheim Museum would have been back in 1959. 

The wine museum in Bordeaux is definitely recognisable from a distance! It cost £63 million and lies on the bank of the Garonne river. The Garonne was instrumental in turning Bordeaux into a wine-making powerhouse. 

Swirlling wine in a decanter? This amorphous cape can be interpreted many ways.

Before you leave, do check out the wine shop, Latitude20,  which a is super circular design. It also stocks an amazing 800 varieties of wine (only 200 of them from France). 

 I knew I was going to be impressed by the City of Wine Bordeaux  when I was fascinated by the design of the parking garage. It’s steel designed to look like the protective paper mesh that wraps bottles of wine. 

I was even impressed by the parking structure.

Practical Information for the Bordeaux Museum of Wines

The museum is open every day during the tourist season from 10-7. It’s best to check on its website before you go. There is 7 floors of dedicated museum parking nearby and a tram runs right by the front.

The Bordeaux Museum of Wine has become a must-see attraction in Bordeaux in the couple of years that the museums been open.  We went on a Saturday and the place was heaving. We stayed so long that the crowds cleared out by closing time. I would suggest you go early or late in the day to avoid the crush. 

Top Tip! Buy your tickets to the Bordeaux Museum of Wine ahead of time to save time standing in the queues. Why not combine your skip-the-line ticket with a tour to the Medoc which has some of the most prestigious wines in Bordeaux?

Everyday at 4:30 there is an English-language talk on Bordeaux wine at the Bordeaux Museum of Wine.

The address for the museum is 1 Esplanade du Pontiac, 33300 Bordeaux. 

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Kids at a wine museum?!? Yes, they’ll love it! The Bordeaux Museum of Wine opened in 2016, and it’s considered the best wine museum in the world, but it’s more. It’s an eclectic edutainment-focussed explanation of wine and its culture, that kids (and adults) love. Check out why visiting it is one of the best things to do in Bordeaux, France, and why bring your kids here. #bordeaux #france #wine #museum #winemuseum #kidfriendly

Kids at a wine museum?!? Yes, they’ll love it! The Bordeaux Museum of Wine opened in
2016, and it’s considered the best wine museum in the world, but it’s more. It’s an
eclectic edutainment-focussed explanation of wine and its culture, that kids (and adults)
love. Check out why visiting it is one of the best things to do in Bordeaux, France, and
why bring your kids here. #bordeaux #france #wine #museum #winemuseum
#kidfriendly

We did not receive compensation of any form, monetary or otherwise, from any of the products, services, hotels  etc mentioned in this article.

This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them at no extra cost to you. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.

Why Saint-Emilion Is The Perfect Town To Visit For A Bordeaux Wine Tour in France

Why Saint-Emilion Is The Perfect Town To Visit For A Bordeaux Wine Tour in France

Saint-Emilion is both a beautiful medieval village and a famous appellation of red Bordeaux wine. When you go on a Bordeaux wine tour, be sure to check out the St Emilion wineries as well as Saint Emilion village. Although small, there are plenty of things to do in St Emilion in addition to sampling St Emilion wine. The Saint Emilion restaurant scene is fantastic and there are several historic sites in the village to visit. The very helpful Saint Emilion tourist office runs tours, rents bicycles etc. Moreover, you should consider checking into one of the St Emilion hotels so that you can enjoy this beautiful place when the tour buses leave with their hordes of tourists.

Saint Emilion Bordeaux

Saint Emilion village is widely accepted as the most beautiful of the wine towns in the Bordeaux region. And with good reason!

St Emilion Bordeaux is 21 miles east of the city of Bordeaux which is a 45 minute drive. The town and its vicinity are a UNESCO world heritage site since 1999. Although only about 2000 people call it home, it hosts thousands more visitors annually.

The medieval town of Saint-Emilion is named after Emilion, a hermit cave-dwelling monk from Brittany. After his death, his cave became a place of pilgrimage which gradually expanded to become Saint Emilion village . 

The irony? St Emilion with his hermit habits would have hated the crowds of tourists who flock to his town every year.

Wear comfortable shoes when you visit St Emilion because those hills and cobblestoned roads get tricky.

Wear comfortable shoes when you visit St Emilion because those hills and cobblestoned roads get tricky.

 The glow of the limestone buildings adds to the charm of the rabbit warren of charming cobble-stone streets.  The steep streets are called tertre locally. There are still parts of the 13th century city walls in existence.

Fun Fact!  Those pretty cobblestone streets are a result of the wine trade with England. The English ballast stones used to weigh the ships down on their journey from England were traded for French wine barrels on the way back. Enterprising locals used the ballast stones as paving stones. 

Vineyards in St Emilion 

Saint Emilion is one of the major red wine regions of Bordeaux along with Medoc and Graves.  Some of the most prestigious and expensive wine is produced in St Emilion Bordeaux. A lot of the best Saint-Emilion wines  are actually being produced in the limestone soil of Saint Emilion wineries within a mile of the town itself. 

Saint Emilion Bordeaux has been a wine region since the Romans planted vineyards here nearly 2000 years ago. There’s even a wine growing brotherhood (the Jurade de Saint Emilion) which was set up by King John (of England and Magna Carta fame) in 1199. In exchange for the Jurade, English merchants got first pick of all the St Emilion wine. This arrangement lasted all the way until the French Revolution!

The spire of the St Emilion monolithic church  can be seen from the fields of the Vineyards in St Emilion nearby.

The spire of the St Emilion monolithic church can be seen from the fields of the Vineyards in St Emilion nearby.

St Emilion wine is a combination of mostly Merlot and Cabernet Franc with some Cabernet Sauvignon added for good measure. 

Did you know?  Over 25 million litres of St, Emilion wine is made annually!

Saint Emilion wine is classified into 3 tiers since 1955. Every 10 years, St Emilion wineries have to take the classification test for their wine production.

There are approximately 800 Saint Emilion wineries, both large and small. At the top of the pecking order is the Premier Grand Cru Classe (18 chateaux), then the Grand Cru (another 63 chateaux), then the Grand Cru Classe (276 chateaux) and finally your standard Saint Emilion wine (443 chateaux). Note these numbers are as of 2012.

The Tourist Office at Saint-Emilion  offers daily listings of chateaux that are open for wine tastings. In addition to checking out the wine room, vats and barrel cellars, you may get lucky and even get to see a bit of the 125 miles of underground cellars some of these St Emilion wineries possess.

Wine tasting St Emilion

You can spend days wine tasting St Emilion wines and die a happy person pickled in red wine. 

If all that wine tasting has you coveting Saint Emilion Bordeaux wine for your own home cellar, stores will happily ship the wine anywhere in the world. 

Bad Boy Bordeaux

For a break with tradition, check out Bad Boy Bordeaux, one of the innovators of wine in the region in the 1990s. The producers of Bad Boy Bordeaux created their award winning wine in a garage instead of a chateau due to a lack fo funds. A visiting wine critic was so impressed he called it the “Bad Boy of Bordeaux”.  The name stuck and the so-called garagistes gained traction.

Just for fun! Check out the garage where Bad Boy Bordeaux originated which is an alley behind 18 rue de Petite Fontaine. 
Bad Boy Bordeaux has lead to other garagiste Saint-Emilion wines such as Bad Girl

Bad Boy Bordeaux has lead to other garagiste Saint-Emilion wines such as Bad Girl

Bordeaux Classique

Bordeaux Classique is a wine store run by Greg Stanford, an Australian chemist who married a French woman and settled in the area. Greg is gregarious, enthusiastic and knowledgeable about his wine. And, obviously being a native English speaker he could answer all our questions in a way we could understand.

Top Tip! A fan of wooden French wine crates (or their lids)? Greg will give them to you free if you buy something in his shop. (Not a hardship!). The French wine stores charge something like 5 Euro for a wine crate even if you do buy their wine. 

We highly recommend a stop by Bordeaux Classique who demystified St Emilion wine for us without being patronising. Moreover, Greg’s store is not limited to St Emilion wine. Among the boxes of Saint-Emilion wines we shipped home to London, my husband snuck in a bottle of Armagnac.

A selection of the St. Emilion wine we tried on Greg’s impromptu St. Emilion wine tour.

A selection of the St. Emilion wine we tried on Greg’s impromptu St. Emilion wine tour.

Maison du Vin Saint Emilion

If you want to take the whole wine tasting thing more seriously, go to Maison du Vin Saint Emilion which has a wine school as well. You can have various wine tastings depending on your familiarity with St. Emilion wine.

A Self-Guided Wine Tour St Emilion

Feeling active? You can walk or cycle around the Saint Emilion vineyards working off (some of) the wine you imbibe. As previously noted, most of the best St Emilion wineries are within a mile of the town itself so you don’t need to go too far.

Wine tasting St Emilion is pretty easy when there are so many wine stores!

Wine tasting St Emilion is pretty easy when there are so many wine stores!

The superb St Emilion tourist office has also runs a St Emilion bike rental service. The St Emilion tourism office also have suggested hiking and cycling routes. Fear not, the easiest route is just a 2 mile loop! These routes work to a 30 mile loop if you are feeling hard-core. 

Some of the best St Emilion wine is grown in the Saint Emilion vineyards  closest to the town.

Some of the best St Emilion wine is grown in the Saint Emilion vineyards closest to the town.

If cycling is too much hard work, visit the St Emilion wineries by train – Saint Emilion has those adorable little toy trains that you seem to find in every tourist area of France. You can also visit St Emilion by Tuk Tuk! Both of these options leave from the Espace Villamaurine.

Actually there are a lot of St Emilion tours that have unique ways to see the Vineyards in St Emilion – motorcycle side car, hot air balloon, electric scooter etc. 

A Bordeaux wine tour involving a Porsche sounds  like a good idea but someone will have to be the designated driver.

A Bordeaux wine tour involving a Porsche sounds like a good idea but someone will have to be the designated driver.

What to do in Saint Emilion

There are plenty of cafes, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries in Saint-Emillion in addition to a handful of historical sites. We are, of course, assuming you will want things to do in Saint Emilion that don’t involve a Saint Emilion wine tour.

In addition to visiting Saint Emilion wineries, there’s fun boutiques and art stores to visit in Saint Emilion village itself

In addition to visiting Saint Emilion wineries, there’s fun boutiques and art stores to visit in Saint Emilion village itself

Saint Emilion Restaurant Options

Every Saint Emilion restaurant is poised to balance all that fine wine with good food. In addition to brasseries and bistros, there are also fine dining establishments, including two Michelin starred restaurants located St Emilion hotels.

There’s a two Michelin starred restaurant at this St Emilion hotel , Hostellerie de Plaisance

For those with a sweet tooth, Saint-Emilion is known for its macarons thanks to the Ursuline nuns who established their convent in the town in 1620 (and rescued from the French Revolution).

Indulging in macarons when you visit St Emilion is among the fun things to do in St Emilion

Indulging in macarons when you visit St Emilion is among the fun things to do in St Emilion

St Emilion Monolithic Church

The St Emilion monolithic church carved into the limestone is from the 12th century. This church is the focal point of the town. The bell tower of the St Emilion Monolithic Church soars 173 feet into the sky which makes the town instantly recognisable from a distance. 

The St Emilion monolithic church is definitely an impressive structure

The St Emilion monolithic church is definitely an impressive structure

You can only visit the St Emilion Monolithic Church on a guided tour from the St Emilion Tourist Office.  On the tour, you will get to see the cave where St Emilion lived for the last years of his life as well as the catacombs of early Christians. If you are feeling fit, you can climb the 196 steps to the top of the tower. 

Chateau du Roy

After climbing the steep 118 steps of the 800 year old Chateau du Roy, you are rewarded with great views over the Saint Emilion wineries and the Dordogne River just a few miles away. 

Did I mention that your glutes will have a workout in Saint Emilion Bordeaux ? 

The King’s Keep offers up yet more panoramic views of the Saint Emilion wineries

The King’s Keep offers up yet more panoramic views of the Saint Emilion wineries

Anyway, its unclear whether it was a French King or an English King or maybe even the Jurade who constructed the Chateau du Roy.

England… but it’s so far away from England??

When Eleanor of Aquitaine ditched her first husband, King Louis VII of France, to marry her second husband, King Henry II, she gave the English kings a claim to this region. The area was a bone of contention between the French and English kings for hundreds of years. 

The Cordeliers Monastery and Cloisters

The Cordeliers Monastery got its name from the Franciscans who wore a brown robe with a cord tied around the waist. The Franciscans occupied this monastery from the 14th century until they forced out during the French Revolution. The monastery fell into ruin until the late 19th century when a sparkling wine facility was opened in its cellars.

With all the red wine Saint Emilion produces, bet you didn’t know there was also a sparkling Saint Emilion wine? 

These cellars run for miles under the Saint Emilion village . Of course, you can arrange for a Saint Emilion wine tour and wine tasting of the Cordeliers cellar. 

Eglise Collegiale

This church in Saint-Emilion  has a nave dating from the 12th century. Probably the most memorable part for my son was that he got to hammer pins into a wooden stake in lieu of lighting prayer candles. 

The cloisters of the parish church of St Emilion Bordeaux

The cloisters of the parish church of St Emilion Bordeaux

Washhouses

There are two lavoirs in St Emilion Bordeaux where the local women would come to rinse their laundry in clean water. These are now fountains and a cool historical throwback to when Saint Emilion village wasn’t chock full of tourists.

This old village washing place in Saint-Emilion is now been incorporated into the outside space of a Saint Emilion restaurant

This old village washing place in Saint-Emilion is now been incorporated into the outside space of a Saint Emilion restaurant

Festivals

If you are a music lover, one of the cool things to do in St Emilion is visit during its annual jazz festival at the end of July.

The Jurade wine brotherhood also organises two annual festivals, the Spring Festival in June and the Vintage Festival in September where the members of the Jurade parade in snazzy traditional red and white robes. 

Saint Emilion Hotels

During the busy summer season, Saint Emilion Bordeaux  can get very crowded. You will have the better experience if you stay in Saint Emilion village  so that you have it to yourself after the tour buses have left. On the downside, with a town this small, you don’t have many options for in-town Saint Emilion hotels.

Although there are plenty of luxury options in the countryside, these are the best hotels in Saint Emilion France itself. In such a small town, there really isn’t that many St Emilion hotels to choose from. There is another high-end St Emilion hotel, Les Chambres d’Ovaline, which is closed until February 2020.

Hostellerie de Plaisance is a Relaix & Chateaux property with a double-starred Michelin restaurant onsite, La Table de Plaisance. This 5 star St Emilion hotel is based in a former convent with beautiful views over the town. 

Check out the great TripAdvisor reviews for Hostellerie de Plaisaince.

Compare prices for Hostellerie de Plaisance and book through these search engines:
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The garden of the Hostellerie de Plaisance Hotels, one of the best hotels in Saint Emilion

The garden of the Hostellerie de Plaisance Hotels, one of the best hotels in Saint Emilion

Auberge de la Commanderie is a luxury guesthouse located in a former 12th century Knights Templar house. It, too, has a Michelin starred restaurant on site – Le Logis de Cadene. This St Emilion hotel  also has family rooms that can accommodate up to 5 people.

Check out the great TripAdvisor reviews for Auberge de la Commanderie.

Compare prices for Auberge de la Commanderie and book through these search engines:

Au Logis des Remparts is our pick among 3 star hotels in Saint Emilion. A boutique hotel in the center of St Emilion, this St Emilion hotel has a pool which you will welcome on a hot summer day.

Check out the great TripAdvisor reviews for Au Logis des Remparts!

Saint Emilion Map

The Saint Emilion Tourist office has great maps of both the town and the surrounding countryside. This Saint Emilion Map though is just the basics to help you get oriented to the town. 

Saint Emilion To Bordeaux (and Vice Versa)

If you are in Bordeaux, then you can get to Saint-Emilion fairly easily. There are Bordeaux wine tours that visit St Emilion. You can also take the train which takes about 45 minutes and leaves you at a train station a little less than a mile outside of town.  If you drive it’s 25 miles and also about 45 minutes. 

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Saint-Emilion, a beautiful medieval village near Bordeaux, France, is a great destination in itself. Although small, there are plenty of things to do in St Emilion in addition to sampling St Emilion wine when you go on a Bordeaux wine tour. Check out what to do in Saint-Emilion and why it’s the perfect town to visit for a Bordeaux wine tour in France. #saintemilion #bordeaux #france #winetour

Saint-Emilion, a beautiful medieval village near Bordeaux, France, is a great destination
in itself. Although small, there are plenty of things to do in St Emilion in addition to
sampling St Emilion wine when you go on a Bordeaux wine tour. Check out what to do in
Saint-Emilion and why it’s the perfect town to visit for a Bordeaux wine tour in France.
#saintemilion #bordeaux #france #winetour

We did not receive compensation of any form, monetary or otherwise, from any of the products, services, hotels  etc mentioned in this article.

This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them at no extra cost to you. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.

Les Sources de Caudalie: The Luxury Hotel in Bordeaux Not To Miss

Les Sources de Caudalie: The Luxury Hotel in Bordeaux Not To Miss

A family-friendly luxury hotel in Bordeaux that has a world-famous vinotherapy spa? Set amidst vineyards in the Bordeaux countryside, I knew I had to make a pilgrimage to Les Sources de Caudalie, one of the best hotels in Bordeaux. At Sources de Caudalie, you can indulge in so many of my favourite vices: plenty of delightful wine drinking, beauty treatments at the original Caudalie vinotherapie spa and even a 2 starred Michelin restaurant onsite, Le Grande Vigne. This Bordeaux luxury hotel also had plenty to keep my son entertained -cycling through the fields, a forest to explore and farm animals to squeal over. It was a win/win for everyone in my family.

Les Sources de Caudalie

Les Sources de Caudalie looks like it has been around forever with its weathered buildings and countryside location. It’s hard to believe that Sources de Caudalie is actually only 20 years old! This Bordeaux hotel and spa ooks older because it was constructed using timber from abandoned local buildings. 

In actuality, this luxury hotel in Bordeaux has a neighbour Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte which has been around for hundreds of years. You can clearly see Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte from Sources Caudalie Bordeaux which is set amidst its vineyards.

A view of Chateau Smith which is separated from Sources Caudalie Bordeaux   by a road.

A view of Chateau Smith which is separated from Sources Caudalie Bordeaux by a road.

We wondered why with all the space in the French countryside, Sources de Caudalie is so close to the Chateau Smith. Then my husband actually met the owner of Chateau Smith while out cycling with my son and she mentioned that her daughter and son-in-law own Sources de Caudalie!

The Bordeaux hotel and spa has multiple buildings containing the main reception, guest rooms, the restaurants, the indoor swimming pool and the spa. If you are looking for a Bordeaux hotel with pool, fear not this Bordeaux vineyard hotel has multiple pools!

You never get the feeling that the Sources de Caudalie hotel is crowded because people are spread out amongst the complex. Interspersed among the Caudalie hotel buildings are vineyards, woods, lakes, a kitchen garden, etc so the overall ambience is of a small village. 

Among the best hotels Bordeaux France has to offer, Sources Caudalie is set up with low-lying buildings that harmonise with its environment.

Among the best hotels Bordeaux France has to offer, Sources Caudalie is set up with low-lying buildings that harmonise with its environment.

How beautiful is this stand-alone Caudalie hotel suite set on stilts above a lake? Such a romantic setting.

Even amongst luxury hotels Bordeaux hotels may not be so beautifully situated.

Even amongst luxury hotels Bordeaux hotels may not be so beautifully situated.

One of the best hotels in Bordeaux, Sources Caudalie is an easy 20 minute drive from the city centre of Bordeaux. Technically, with its country side setting Sources Caudalie would be considered one of the hotels near Bordeaux France. 

Caudalie Hotel

At the Caudalie Hotel, we had a suite with a separate bedroom, lounge area with sofa bed, private outside space and luxury bathroom. The suite was comfortably furnished with references to midcentury modern style. The televisions were hidden by curtains which we found a little old school. 

The sofa in our suite at this 5 star hotel Bordeaux turned into a bed for our son.

The sofa in our suite at this 5 star hotel Bordeaux turned into a bed for our son.

You know how I feel about Wifi right? It was excellent throughout this luxury hotel in Bordeaux, except the spa which I will discuss separately. We mainly used our phones, iPads etc because the television had lots of channels but most were French channels. There’s only so much CNN and CNBC you can watch. 

The bathroom was spacious with a power shower and a separate bathtub. As you would expect, you have a selection of Caudalie product available in your Caudalie hotel room.

The bathroom toiletries at the Sources des Caudalie hotel are Caudalie product.

The bathroom toiletries at the Sources des Caudalie hotel are Caudalie product.

Sources de Caudalie Food & Drink

Breakfast is served in the room that holds Le Grand Vigne in the evening. With views over a lake and vineyards, the room is beautiful.  Breakfast itself is a delicious affair with more food than you can ever want or need. Fresh breads, fruits, yogurts and cereals accompany a selection of hot dishes. The tea served was my favourite French brand = Le Mariage Freres, a Parisian gourmet tea company.

Les Sources des Caudalie has small bar in the main building as well as Rouge a separate wine bar. Rouge is the place for hanging out with wine, tapas, cheese etc. while the bar area was perfect for a pre and post dinner drinks. Rouge also has a grocery store presumably to take away with you if you want to continue the party in your room or back at home.

Le Grande Vigne

Le Grande Vigne is the two star Michelin restaurant at Sources de Caudalie. Children are welcome in the restaurant as are dogs!

The food was excellent as was the service. You have a choice of a 5 or a 7 course tasting menu which invariably becomes more because you always get an amuse bouche or two. The staff brought my son some starters and allowed him to pick just one dinner dish because a multi-course menu would have been too much food for him. 

Some of the courses at 2 Michelin starred Le Grand Vigne including oysters, pigeon and foie gras.

Some of the courses at 2 Michelin starred Le Grand Vigne including oysters, pigeon and foie gras.

What was my favourite dish? It was all excellent but I really liked the cognac ice cream which was laced with serious amounts of cognac. In my opinion, the cognac ice cream is what good rum raisin ice cream should be!

La Table du Lavoir

La Table du Lavoir is the hotel’s interpretation of a country inn from the region. The lavoir is a reference to the communal washing area where the winemakers’ wives would gather to do laundry and gossip. This being Bordeaux the occasional wine may have been drank too!

La Table du Lavoir tries to recreate the convivial spirit of those days gone by. You know it’s some chichi designer’s idea of a simpler happier rural time because hand washing laundry would have been back breaking work even with a bottle of Bordeaux to drink.

Like the rest of this Bordeaux luxury hotel, La table du Lavoir is a new-build made with old materials.

Like the rest of this Bordeaux luxury hotel, La table du Lavoir is a new-build made with old materials.

La Table du Lavoir is absolutely charming with its mismatched vintage china, checked table clothes and a fireplace salvaged from a defunct winery. The room is surrounded on three sides by windows so dinner here is a great place to catch the sunset which sets over the Chateau Smith next door.

Sunset over a Bordeaux vineyard, hotel views don’t get better than this!

Sunset over a Bordeaux vineyard, hotel views don’t get better than this!

We thought the food at La Table du Lavoir was good and occasionally great. The service was excellent.

La table du Lavoir serves up local produce in an upscale bistro setting.

La table du Lavoir serves up local produce in an upscale bistro setting.

My husband and I both had fish which we enjoyed and my son had candied pork rib which he loved. We liked the mashed potatoes and vegetables which came on the side. As you would expect, the wine was excellent and we only had one of the basic Chateau Smith red wines.

Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa 

The whole concept of vinotherapy started at Les Sources de Caudalie. A vinotherapy spa uses the byproduct of wine to make beauty products. With vinotherapie Caudalie also discovered that its products have excellent anti-aging effects. Although other locations exist for Caudalie spa France, this Sources de Caudalie spa is the original. Vinotherapy and Caudalie product are now a world-wide phenomenon with a heavy emphasis on science. 

Decorated in deep reddish violets keeping with the wine theme, the Caudalie vinotherapie spa is set in a separate building. In the spa, you have dedicated indoor and outdoor pools, steam rooms, saunas and even a barrel-shaped hot tub. 

This Bordeaux hotel spa was the first to promote vinotherapy,

This Bordeaux hotel spa was the first to promote vinotherapy,

Modern and elegant on the inside, I found the Caudalie vinotherapie spa very quiet and supremely relaxing. There were many couples who were having treatments. From some of the treatment rooms you have views of the vineyards. 

Tip! Book your spa treatments well in advance because the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa is very popular.

The Caudalie spa France is the first spa that I’ve ever been to (and you know I love spas) where you were given a timetable of your treatments. There is plenty of time between treatments so you get the feeling you are not rushed. I had a vinotherapy spa bath which involved a jacuzzi with grape extracts and bath oils. After a Caudalie vinotherapie facial and a vinotherapy massage as well, I was blissed out. 

The Sources de Caudalie spa has a barrel shaped hot tub in keeping with the whole vineyard Bordeaux hotel theme.

The Sources de Caudalie spa has a barrel shaped hot tub in keeping with the whole vineyard Bordeaux hotel theme.

I was also bored to tears. There’s no Wifi at the Caudalie Spa France which I have seen in  other resort spas because they want to promote a calm atmosphere. Of course, I can see the point in principle. The French guests though have access to their local carriers and were on the phone. And, all the magazines available at the Sources de Caudalie spa were in French which I don’t read. So I spent a lot of time taking selfies! 

Moral of the story? Download something onto your phone that you want to watch, read or listen to when you have downtime between your vinotherapy spa treatments.

I felt so good after Bordeaux hotel spa day I even bought all of the Caudalie product the therapist foisted on me! That’s definitely a first for me. 

How Family-Friendly is Sources Caudalie?

Very. We were pleasantly surprised by how family friendly Sources Caudalie is. There were quite a few very well=behaved French children at this Bordeaux luxury hotel.  Children are welcome at both Le Grande Vigne and Le Table du Lavoir restaurants (high chairs are available). Although we did not use the facilities, for younger children there is a play room with toys and books. 

There is an indoor swimming pool which was a really nice temperature and is available for family swims without restrictive time tables Located in its own building, the fitness room and indoor pool are spacious. There are outside seating areas as well as plenty of indoor loungers. There is even a little conservatory with a pool table. 

This Bordeaux hotel with indoor pool is great for families too.

This Bordeaux hotel with indoor pool is great for families too.

While I was having my spa treatments, my husband and son took the bikes for a spin through the vineyard. They got to explore the wooded area with its contemporary art too. 

Bicycles are available to take out for a spin through the fields at this Bordeaux vineyard hotel.

Bicycles are available to take out for a spin through the fields at this Bordeaux vineyard hotel.

My children love animals and this hotel did not disappoint between the ducks wandering freely around, the working horses and plowing the vineyard. Did I mention the goats and the llama?

Working horses are probably  not a usual occurrence at vineyard hotels Bordeaux.

Working horses are probably not a usual occurrence at the vineyard hotels Bordeaux.

Our Opinion of Sources de Caudalie Bordeaux

Writing a Les Sources de Caudalie review is easy. It’s fabulous and lives up to its reputation as one of the best hotels in Bordeaux.

We loved Sources de Caudalie Bordeaux and would go back in a heartbeat! For a luxury hotel, it is exceptionally family friendly and laid-back. Expensive but worth it.

Exceptional beauty and service make Sources Caudalie one of the best hotels Bordeaux France has.

The hotel suite was great. Very comfortable beds and total privacy. We didn’t mind going into Bordeaux for sightseeing but honestly you can stay at Sources de Caudalie for a few days and not even be bored. We loved the beauty of being surrounded by French vineyards and countrysides.

The highlights of our stay was the spa, the cycle ride, breakfast and the dinner at Le Grande Vigne. 

Wand more than my Les Sources de Caudalie review? Check out the great TripAdvisor reviews of Les Sources de Caudalie.

Compare prices for Sources Caudalie and book through these search engines: 

Les Sources de Caudalie is located at Chemin de Smith Haut Lafitte, 33650 Martillac, France.

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Wondering where to stay in Bordeaux, France? Discover why Les sources de Caudalie is a luxury hotel in Bordeaux not to miss. It’s family-friendly, has a world-famous vinotherapy spa, and it’s set amidst vineyards in the Bordeaux countryside. Read more about it! #bordeaux #france #hotel #hotelreview #luxuryhotels #familyfriendly

Wondering where to stay in Bordeaux, France? Discover why Les sources de Caudalie
is a luxury hotel in Bordeaux not to miss. It’s family-friendly, has a world-famous
vinotherapy spa, and it’s set amidst vineyards in the Bordeaux countryside. Read more
about it! #bordeaux #france #hotel #hotelreview #luxuryhotels #familyfriendly

We did not receive compensation of any form, monetary or otherwise, from any of the products, services, hotels  etc mentioned in this article.

This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them at no extra cost to you. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy

5 Great Ways To Explore Paris As An Art Lover (+ See An Old Favourite Differently!)

5 Great Ways To Explore Paris As An Art Lover (+ See An Old Favourite Differently!)

Paris is just as much an art enthusiast’s paradise as it is a lovers’ destination. From the traditional to the avant-garde, the City of Lights has many interesting things in store for the art lover. If your love for the arts has brought you to Paris, consider visiting these spots which range from taking in modern street art, viewing Old Masters in the museums, staying in a luxury Paris art hotel, taking an opportunity to eat in the dark and browsing an art and design bookstore.

Paris Art Hotel le Bellechasse

Your exposure to the arts can begin with your accommodation at a Paris art hotel. The Hotel le Bellechasse, a boutique hotel in boho cool St Germain des Pres, offers 7 different art themes across its rooms. The interiors of this Paris art hotel are a beautiful display of Bohemian styles and Parisian neo-classicism. The hotel was designed by renowned French fashion designer Christan Lacroix who is well known for his theatrical flair.

Hotel Bellechasse is one of several hotels in Paris that has been designed by Christian Lacroix.

Hotel Le Bellechasse is one of several hotels in Paris that has been designed by Christian Lacroix.
(Image credit: Hotel le Bellechasse’s Facebook)

Street Art at Paris Oberkampf

In Paris Oberkampf is the district known for its vibrant street art sort of like Shoreditch in London. There is art everywhere, from building walls to metal shutters to street furniture. Like its British counterpart, Oberkampf Paris nightlife is also very popular spot. After getting your cultural fix, you can stick around and party late into the night.

You can find street art in Paris in several neighbourhoods.

You can find street art in Paris in several neighbourhoods.

Perhaps the most popular street art spot in Oberkampf is the Le Mur, which is a wall dedicated to showcasing the works of internationally renowned artists. The art on this space is changed every two weeks (to date 270+ artists have had their turn on this space). Check out their website to find out when the next installation will occur.  Crowds gather to watch each installation happen.

Eat in the Dark at Dans Le Noir?

… food is not simply organic fuel to keep body and soul together, it is a perishable art that must be savoured at the peak of perfection.

– E.A. Bucchianeri

If you’re in love with the concept of being fed the unknown, Dans Le Noir? will be an enjoyable experience. In this restaurant, you are forced to eat in the dark with no knowledge of what’s on your plate. No, not dimly lit like so many trendy restaurants but total pitch black darkness. The idea is to heighten your other senses in the absence of sight.

Experience a feast for the senses by dining in the dark.

Experience a feast for the senses by dining in the dark.

Reviewer Zach Brooke even jokes that it’s not a restaurant you ought to dress up for because of the many possible moments you could knock your glass over or spill food. In addition, he notes that the experience where you eat in the dark makes one realize how much the eyes play an important role in food, whether it’s cooking or eating.

Old Masters at the Musée du Louvre

The Louvre Museum is renowned for having one of the most extensive and impressive art collections in the world. There’s Michelangelo’s Dying Slave statue, Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People painting, and the Law Code of Hammurabi.

One of the most popular pieces that everyone wants to see in person is Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. When my kids first saw the Mona Lisa they were surprised by how small the actual painting is – so outsize is its influence in modern culture appearing everywhere from high brow books to low brow memes.

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most famous paintings in the world.

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most famous paintings in the world.

The Mona Lisa arguably the artist’s most famous piece, though his other works are also noteworthy in their own right. Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings in general have a huge influence even outside the art industry, as they’re often subjects in other forms of media like films and video games. For instance, his works functioned as plot devices in the film The Da Vinci Code. Meanwhile, SlotSource’s Da Vinci Diamonds game heavily feature the artist’s portraits in its gameplay mechanics. Because of the prominence of such products, even non-artists are familiar with Da Vinci’s paintings.

Travel Tip! Expect the museum to be crowded especially around the most famous pieces, such as the Mona Lisa. Try visiting on Wednesday or Friday evening, as the museum stays open until 9:45 PM.

Prefer your art with less crowds? Sainte Chapelle houses a large collection of 13th century stained glass which has to be seen to be appreciated.

Art and Design Bookstore, Artazart

The unique offerings at Artazart makes it a must-visit art and design bookstore in Paris. You can find a curated collection of books and magazines on graphic design, photography, and other art-related topics. Aside from books, the store also sells polaroid cameras and prints.

Artazart is a well-regarded art and design bookstore in Paris.

Artazart is a well-regarded art and design bookstore in Paris.
(image credit: Artazart’s Facebook)

This art and design bookstore also holds monthly exhibitions in order to shine the spotlight on both popular and up and coming artists. After shopping for art and design books here, you can also stop by the Canal Saint-Martin, which is both a nice picnic area and a popular spot for street art.

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5 Great Ways To Explore Paris Through an Artist’s Eye

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The Best Things to Do in the Languedoc-Roussillon Region of France

The Best Things to Do in the Languedoc-Roussillon Region of France

Although ever-popular Provence gets all the attention, the neighbouring French region of Languedoc-Roussillon is where the smart money goes to avoid the crowds but still get the French countryside charm. We first discovered the Languedoc accidentally when my husband won a charity auction for a luxury stay at Maison Laurent near Carcassone. We loved it so much we have returned several times including with the kids. We weren’t surprised when Lonely Planet named it among the top 10 regions to visit in the world for 2018, along with Alaska in the USA, the Julian Alps in Slovenia and Bahia in Brasil. It was only a matter of time before everyone discovered the cheaper and less-touristy part of the South of France.

Things To do in the Languedoc | Montepellier Attractions | Things to Do in Perpignan | What To Do in Carcassone

The Languedoc region has a great mix of history, culture, nature and food and wine.

Like the rest of the South of France, summers in the Languedoc Rouissillon are extremely hot and the winters are mild and comfortable. It’s an easy weekend break from the rest of Europe because French airline manufacturer Airbus is headquartered near Toulouse airport. When our daughter spent a few months studying French in the area, we would visit her on the weekends. We got to know the area just enough to realise that if we were ever to live in France, we would want to live in this region.

Where is the Languedoc-Rouissillon?

 The Languedoc Roussillon is located in the Southwest of France. The region extends from France to the Pyrenees (and borders with Spain and the Mediterranean).

Things To do in the Languedoc | Montepellier Attractions | Things to Do in Perpignan | What To Do in Carcassone

A map of the Languedoc Roussillon region. Together with the Midi-Pyrenees next door, the area is now known as Occitanie.

The Languedoc-Roussillon region has been an important area since Roman times.
The Languedoc was its own important kingdom until it got annexed by the kingdom of France after the defeat of the Cathars in the 13th century. The Roussillon section was actually part of Catalonia until it was given to the French in the mid-17th century as part of a larger treaty between Spain and France.

The Cathars

Catharism is a form of Christianity that grew alongside Roman Catholicism during the early years of Christianity. It deviated from Catholicism in several important ways, such as for example, stating that men and women were equal.
In the tolerant and liberal Languedoc kingdom, Catharism flourished. Worse, Cathars called out the Catholics for being corrupt (which they were) and refused to pay the Catholic church any taxes.
The Roman Catholics couldn’t have that. Pope Innocent III declared them heretics and ordered a crusade against the Cathars. The French saw the opportunity for a land grab as well as bonus points to get into heaven. After two generations of fighting, the Cathars were decimated and the land annexed by France.
Next thing, the Catholics started the Inquisition in the Languedoc to root out any remaining vestiges of Cathar heresy. The once powerful language of Occitan was reduced to a regional patois, and the area went into economic decline.

Things To do in the Languedoc | Montepellier Attractions | Things to Do in Perpignan | What To Do in Carcassone

The walled city of Carcassone was a Cathar stronghold.

Occitanie

In 2016, the Languedoc-Rouissillon was merged with the midi-Pyrenees region to form Occitanie, a massive region that is the largest in all of France. The people in this area had all spoken Occitan in the past (which is related to the Catalan language).

Getting To the Languedoc-Roussillon

There are several airports in the area including Carcassone, Perpignan and Montpellier. We have always flown into Toulouse though because it is a main regional airport with a choice of flights and airlines.

Things To Do in the Languedoc- Roussillon

What To Do in Carcassone

The historic center of Carcassone is a UNESCO world heritage site. The walled city retains its medieval charm with the world’s largest medieval castle and 54 towers. Carcassone is the second most visited tourist attraction in France (the top spot is the Eiffel Tower). You will find plenty to occupy you in the narrow streets of historic Carcassone.
Check out two ways to explore Carcassone – Take a 1.5 hour Guided Segway City Tour and/or Explore the Castle and Ramparts with fast entry tickets.

Things To do in the Languedoc | Montepellier Attractions | Things to Do in Perpignan | What To Do in Carcassone

The medieval walls of the city of Carcassone

Canal du Midi

The UNESCO world heritage listed Canal du Midi connects Toulouse to the Mediterranean over 264 kilometres (164 miles). The advent of the railroads made the canal obsolete and now it is primarily used for recreational purposes.

Other Places to Visit in Languedoc Roussillon

Montpellier is the fastest growing city in France and the regional capitol. Some of the Montpellier attractions include the Cathedral St. Pierre, Roman-era aqueducts, the Montpellier Zoo and the Musee Fabre (containing European Old Master paintings).
Nimes is famous for its well-preserved Roman archeological remains including the UNESCO world heritage listed Roman aqueduct, Le Pont du Gard.

Things To do in the Languedoc | Montepellier Attractions | Things to Do in Perpignan | What To Do in Carcassone

Le Pont du Guard, a well-preserved Roman aqueduct, is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Fun Fact – Denim gets its name because it’s fabric that comes from Nimes (serge de Nîmes).
Beziers was where the ill-fated Cathars (and any unfortunate Catholics with them) were slaughtered wholesale. Nowadays it is known for its wine and bullfighting.
Narbonne is a laid-back seaside town famous for its Gothic cathedral and its wine industry. During Roman times, it was the capital of Gaul and a crossroads between the rest of France, Spain and Italy.

Things To do in the Languedoc | Montepellier Attractions | Things to Do in Perpignan | What To Do in Carcassone

The Cathedral of Saint-Just and Saint-Pasteur in Narbonne.

Perpignan is the last city in France before the Spanish border and so it has an interesting mix of cultures. Things to do in Perpignan include visiting the Palace of the Kings of Majorca, the Basilica Cathedral of St. Jean the Baptist and the Arab and Gypsy quarter.

Food and Drink

The Languedoc region produces 1/3 of all French wine – thats approximately 2 billion bottles a year. It is also fertile farmland with a number of excellent local products – oysters, anchovies, beef, lamb, cheeses and foie gras to name a few.
Why not take a Montpellier Food Tour with a local expert?  – Visit a local market, and sample products straight from the producers.

Things To do in the Languedoc | Montepellier Attractions | Things to Do in Perpignan | What To Do in Carcassone

Vineyard near Montpellier

Nature

 You can find Europe’s biggest river delta at the Camargue which borders Provence. These 900 square kilometres (approximately 350 square miles) of wetlands are famous for their pink flamingoes, wild horses and bulls.
Take a Guided Tour! – You can take a full-day guided minibus tour to the Camargue to explore its wildlife as well as learn about how salt is harvested from the salt marshes.

Things To do in the Languedoc | Montepellier Attractions | Things to Do in Perpignan | What To Do in Carcassone

Two white horses in the Camargue

When we went skiing in the Spanish Pyrenees resort of Bequeira-Beret, we flew into Toulouse and drove through the Languedob-Roussillon. There is, of course, skiing in the French Pyrenees too.
The Cévennes is a national park of almost 800,000 acres with its main entrance by the pretty little town of Florac. With mountains, gorges and plateaus, this area is a nature-lovers paradise of wild, unspoiled countryside.

Beaches

There are miles of beautiful sand beaches sprinkled with little towns edging the Mediterranean. The Espiguette is the Languedoc’s largest sand beach and backed by sand dunes. Cap D’Agde has Europe’s largest nudist beach. The beaches near Beziers are also excellent (Portiragnes and Serignan). La Franqui is popular with windsurfers. Argeles is said to be one of the best beaches in all of France – it’s wide, sandy and has stunning views of the Pyrenees.
Right before you hit the Spanish border, you have the Cote Vermeille, the undisputed star of which is the pretty little artsy town of Collioure. Note that the beaches here are pebbly.

Things To do in the Languedoc | Montepellier Attractions | Things to Do in Perpignan | What To Do in Carcassone

The Cote Vermeille or the Vermillion Coast is so-called because of its red rocky coastline.

Tips for Visiting the Languedoc-Roussillon

Although we have explored Carcassone, undertaken a pilgrimage to Lourdes, visited the beaches in the summer, this region of France is vast with plenty of things to do.

Things To do in the Languedoc | Montepellier Attractions | Things to Do in Perpignan | What To Do in Carcassone

Isn’t this perfect for an evening stroll after indulging in a fantastic dinner and wine?

Who better to ask for advice on visiting the Languedoc-Roussillon than travel bloggers who have been there?  Below are the recommendations and travel tips for this region of France from five fellow travel bloggers.

The medieval walled city of Carcassone

The medieval walled city of Carcassone Image credit: Thomas Dowson

– by Corinne Vail from ReflectionsEnroute and on social media at

Montady in the Languedoc-Rousillon

The Town of Montady (Photo credit: Corinne Vail)

The Languedoc-Rouissillon

Collioure in the French Vermeille

Much less touristy than the neighbouring region of Provence, the Languedoc-Rouissilon region of France has an incredibly rich historical heritage.  The towns and villages are filled with Roman architecture – who can forget about the amphitheatre in Nimes – beautiful cathedrals and precious castles, like the world-famous Carcassone.
It’s also a place where cultures meet. Perpignan for example is the capital of French Catalonia, and although people speak in French, you can also see many signs of the Catalan identity.
One of the most beautiful places to visit in this region is the charming village of Collioure, situated in the French Vermeille, very close tot he Spanish-French border. It’s one of the most romantic villages in the Languedoc-Rouissilon region with cozy cobbled streets, artisan shops, local seafood restaurants and magical atmosphere.
Many French and Catalan artists – Picasso or Henri Matisse for instance – chose to live here for some time and found the atmosphere very inspiring. The two main landmarks of this picture perfect village to visit are the Notre-Dame-Des-Angles Church and the Chateau Royale de Collioure, a fortress that was held by several different royal families throughout history.
– by Gabor Kovacs from Surfing the Planet and on social media at

collioure in the Languedoc Rouissilon

The village of Collioure in the Languedoc-Rouissilon (Photo credit: Gabor Kovacs)

Minerve 

Walking through the narrow streets of Minerve is like stepping into the pages of a children’s storybook but today’s beauty disguises a gruesome past.

The quiet village, around 50 kilometres from Carcassone, came under attack during the Albigensian Crusade in 1210 when a number of Cathars (non-Catholics) from Beziers took refuge in Minerve. After a six week siege, the village was forced to surrender and 140 Cathars were burnt at the stake.

To learn more about the bloody events of the past, a visit to the Hurepel Museum is a must. Here, the story of the siege is told in sixteen clay dioramas made by local artisans.

Today Minerve is classified as one of France’s most beautiful villages and it’s easy to see why. Perched on a rocky peninsula at the meeting of two rivers and alongside deep gorges, Minerve’s setting is picturesque.

A tall, narrow tower and a small section of wall is all that’s left of the medieval fortifications, whilst the 12th century church and the impressive double-arched bridge that spans the River Cesse are the other major sites in the village.

But for me, the real attraction of Minerve are the cobbled streets lined with centuries-old stone buildings some now serving as shops, boutiques and cafes.

Sitting on a shady terrace sipping a drink and admiring the views you can’t help but be thankful you’re visiting today and not back in 1210.

– by Carolyn Schonafinger who  writes at Holidays To Europe and on  

The Town of Minerve near Carcassone

The town of Minerve in the Languedoc Roussillon (Photo credit: Carolyn Schonafinger)

 

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