Where In The World…
Can you sit on a magnificent sand dune 110m high, eat local caviar, drink arguably the finest wine, stay in 5 star luxury, visit spectacular historic buildings and enjoy a unique gastronomic experience created with one of only 5 silver lobster presses in existence – you might know a few places, but only one is less than 90 minutes from the UK. Intrigued? ……………I was.
Bordeaux, a 75 minute flight from Gatwick sits on the Garonne and less than an hour’s drive from the coast at Arcachon on France’s Atlantic coast. The centre of the French Oyster and caviar industries, the coastline boasts some of Europe’s best beaches and the stunning natural phenomenon of the Dune of Pyla – a stunning sand bank created by the Gironde estuary.
The Bordeaux region is also blessed with a myriad of beautiful medieval towns and cities with genuine character. On a recent visit I found I could have spent all day in St Emilion rather than the hour allotted to us. Natural beauty lurks beneath the surface as well, as it is the soil of Bordeaux which has given the region its greatest claim to fame producing the perfect grape for wine.
Let’s not beat about the bush here, St Emilion, Pauliac, Margaux, Pomerol, St Julien, Medoc, Sauternes, Graves – they’re just the wines, the individual vineyards are perhaps even more famous, Lafite, Mouton, Latour and at $3,000 a bottle probably the most expensive wine in the world, Petrus. You can spend a lifetime visiting each small and uniquely charming chateau, or simply visit one of the fabulous wine houses.
Now for the town, or should I say city of Bordeaux which is a magnificently preserved 18th century wonder and a World Heritage site. Architecturally stunning the city has a wonderful atmosphere combining its old traditional heritage with a modern edge as it hosts the largest university in France with 60,000 students in a city of 1 million people.
Sat in the middle of this beautiful city opposite the magnificent opera building is another wonder; the Regent Grand Hotel Bordeaux. It is the sort of building that when you walk past you wish you were staying in, and if you are staying there you wish you were never leaving. In my humble opinion it’s not modern and chic – that would be a little vulgar for this beautiful building. No, this hotel is sheer refined elegance, intrinsically personal and pure indulgence. The square outside the hotel is filled with crowds taking equal numbers of pictures of the hotel and the Opera – it really is that impressive.
In summary, if you haven’t been to Bordeaux, go.