French Wine Lovers’ Road Trip from Bordeaux

Roadtrip Overview

Day 1

Arrival and self guided walking tour (see below) of Bordeaux

Day 2

See more of Bordeaux then pickup rental car and drive 45 minutes to St. Émilion

Meander through St. Émilion, taste and buy a lot of wine then set for 2.5 hour drive to Rocamadour

Enjoy a quiet dinner and one night’s stay in Rocamadour.

Day 3

Breakfast in Rocamadour and walk up to the church.

A quick walk in Martel on teh way back to the main highway.

4 hour drive to Lyon, France

Be warned- Roadtrips in France are far more expensive than in the US. You can expect to pay about 80 euros in tolls between Bordeaux and Lyon.

Starting in Bordeaux

We arrived in the beautiful city of Bordeaux with little planned other than to drink wine and eat chocolate. After just one day in the city, we accomplished our goals and found a few other gems along the way.

Suggested Walking Route

This is a map of our walking route, which covered all the major Bordeaux City landmarks in about 90 minutes (with pictures) besides the City of Wine Museum.

  • Port Caihau
  • Place de la Bourse
  • Place du Parlement – really not a whole lot to see here.
  • L’Intendant Wine Shop, Bordeaux (The wine store pictured with the spiraling staircase)
  • Bordeaux Cathedral – breathtaking. Make sure to go inside!
  • Eglise Catholique Saint-Eloi
  • Quartier Saint Michel  & Saint Michel Basilica (You can also climb a nearby tower for a good view / photo op.)

Make sure to stop for chocolate, wine, macaroons, baguettes, or the delicious Caneles (in the picture above) along the way.

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La Cite du Vin (City of Wine) Museum

At first, we thought 20€ was a bit steep, but we thoroughly enjoyed our time at the interactive museum learning about the history, culture, production, and marketing of wine.   It wasn’t only focused on French wine either.   At the end, you enjoy a glass at their panoramic bar.

I would spend 20 € again.

I had never really thought about all the influences that wine had on society, religion, and the economy so I found the exhibits fascinating.    

(They are closed on Mondays)

Saint-Émilion, France

A perfect little city to stretch our legs along our roadtrip between Bordeaux and Lyon.

Don’t miss the sprawling wine caves that are underneath the Clos des Menuts winery store. It’s free to explore.

We did a free wine testing at Le Cellar de St. Emilion and received wonderful service.  Our sommelier taught us a lot  about the French wine regions and explained what attributed to the difference in taste between each wine we tried.  We also learned that it is typical for Americans to prefer the taste of younger wines, this held true for us.  We didn’t feel any pressure to buy bottles at the end, but we bought one anyway. 🙂

Rocamadour

This tiny village clinging to the hills of the French Countryside is a must for anyone who wants to truly feel like they are in a small French village. The quaint town only has a few hotels, fewer parking spots, and one narrow street. It will take you about 2 hours to explore including a climb to the church at the very top of the cliff. If you can time your journey right, seeing the town late in the day was the best for great photos. You will first enter Rocamadour via a small town that overlooks the valley. Make sure to stop here to get a photo of the buildings on the hill. You will need to park in the valley or just outside of town as there is no where to leave your car inside the village unless you are staying in one of the hotels.


Climbing… Climbing… Climbing
There are 216 steps to reach the small church on top of the hill. Don’t worry, there are small shops and food vendors to stop at along the way and catch your breath. If you are lucky enough to be there on a Sunday, speakers will fill the climb with the sounds of the mass; making for quite the spiritual journey (Although you won’t understand it if you don’t speak French, like us). If you don’t think you can make the climb, there is an elevator that will take you up for a few euros.

Food
There are a few food options within the village, but it is quite expensive. For a tasty meal and large portions try Le Quercygnac, a great restaurant right at the entrance to the pedestrian street. You will find many shops selling Foie Gras, a local specialty, give it a try.

Martel
About 20km outside of Rocamadour is the small town of Martel. If you are headed back to the highway make sure to stop in this town and wander the small alleyways. This town has less of a touristy feel and will make you feel like you are a part of French country life.

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Road Trip from Bordeaux

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