France: Aquitaine region, Bordeaux and St Emilion



It’s always fascinating to learn about European history. A couple of weeks ago, I was in the region of Aquitaine, where Bordeaux is the capital. Aquitaine is located in the southwestern part of France and comprises the five departments of Dordogne, Lot et Garonne, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes, and Gironde.

You will notice that there are quite a few British connections and expats in this region, and there’s a real explanation for it. This region of France has been intermittently home to the British during its medieval history. Aquitaine passed to France in 1137 when Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine married Louis VII of France. After their marriage had been annulled in 1152, Eleanor remarried—her new husband became King Henry II of England in 1154—and the area fell under English ownership. Aquitaine remained English until the end of the Hundred Years’ War in 1453 when it was annexed by France.

Over 300 years, the region was ruled by English kings, and the relationship between Aquitaine and England was reinforced. Large quantities of wine produced in southwestern France were exported to English ports. In fact, so much French wine and food was being shipped to London and sold that by the start of the Hundred Years’ War, the profits from Aquitaine were the principal source of the English king’s income per annum. Enough about history! Let’s dive into this pretty region of France.





We started our adventure in Bordeaux, which used to be the center of commerce and trade during the 18th century. Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne and the hub of the famed wine-growing region. The 18th-century architecture predominates the city landscape with the imposing Gothic Cathédrale St-André and a medieval area. Today, Bordeaux is home to the world’s main wine fair, Vinexpo.

It’s a delight to walk around the city and soak in the atmosphere, the fascinating architecture, and wide streets. The historic part of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as “an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble” of the 18th century.

Miroir d’Eau de Bordeaux

Walking by the river on the left bank, you will find the Miroir d’Eau de Bordeaux (water mirror). By the river is a modern water and mist feature that reflects the old architecture of the 18th-century buildings just before the reaching the medieval part of town.

Miroir d’Eau de Bordeaux
La Tupina was our food stop for the evening; this establishment serves hearty, rustic food with surroundings to match, and it has great service with lots of smiles and delicious fare. They also have rooms across the road and a deli well worth a visit.



Paying a visit to the wine school at CIVB – BordeauxWine Council
is a must. It is positioned in the center of this charming city. They offer wine education as well as tastings and a relaxing bar area.  At the wine tasting, we learned about the geography, terroir and some interesting facts about wine and wine making.  Perfect start of our stay in the region before hitting the vineyards.

Bordeaux is the gateway to the wine region by the same name and to the Dordogne and the wine region. This area is known for its elegant and classic wines. The red wines predominate in the area, followed by white, rose, and sparkling wines (Crémant de Bordeaux).

Take the opportunity to visit a vineyard or two; some of them have fantastic food and tours to their cellars.




Saint Emilion

Our next stop was St Emilion and a visit to the  Chateau Dominique, which has a terrific restaurant, La Terrasse Rouge. As you follow the driveway to reach the traditional-looking chateau, you are surprised to find the ultramodern architecture that has been built at the back of the building. An incredible restaurant that serves modern French food, it offers excellent service and delightful wine and views all over the vineyard. You can see the process of winemaking and visit their cellar.

La Terrasse Rouge




Terrific grilled steak

visiting Chateau Dominique cellars and wine making


wine tasting followed

Another fairytale place to visit with a history to match is Chateaux Pressac, Here, the signing of the end the Hundred Years’ War took place. It’s a very particular place and location with views over the valley and beautiful sunset. It’s interesting to hear how much hard work goes into making wine and what makes Bordeaux wine.

Chateaux Pressac



Le Clos du Roy  is a charming restaurant in the center of St Emillion serving more sophisticated food, a beautiful presentation, and, at times, friendly enough service. The curb appeal is not the best; there’s a public toilet to the right when you approach the restaurant, but once inside we were guided to the first floor via a modern stairway into a fresh and airy decor room.

moelleux de foie blond de volaille (chicken liver) smooth and very tasty  and filet de canette rotie sauce olives moires (duckling fillet roasted) with potato fondant with sour cheeries (griolles acidulees) – the duck was perfectly cooked  and the sour cherries just lifted the dish.

filet de canette rotie sauce olives moires, griottes acidulées and pommes de terre fondants


salmon cooked at low temperature served with spirilezed cucumber and cardamom foam


 cheese  and coffee to finish

A place to call home :

Maisonnée Girondine

Just outside St Emilion about a 10-minute drive away, there’s a charming and cosy B&B with the most amazing setting run by Ellie, a smart and vivacious young British woman who, at 24, refurbished an old house to became a B&B owner. She renovated this property to a high-standard finish, and her hosting skills are second to none. What a gem! I highly recommend a stay there. There is also a swimming pool, and her breakfast is comprehensive. Let her know in advance of any dietary requirements, and she will provide a sterling spread.



  1. October 19, 2015 / 9:47 pm

    I've not been to St Emilion for about 20 years. Lovely town and part for France. Lovely post and gorgeous photos.

  2. October 19, 2015 / 9:53 pm

    Hi Helen, St Emilion is such a pretty place just walking around soaking in the atmosphere was wonderful.

  3. October 19, 2015 / 10:09 pm

    I love France, but this is a part I have never visited, now on my list as I'm a bit obsessed with Eleanor of Aquitaine.

  4. October 20, 2015 / 11:00 am

    What an absolutely stunning trip. I've never been to Bordeaux and your post has made me want to visit more than ever. That mist feature looks magical, the architecture and the food look absolutely amazing. Hope you had a super trip.

  5. October 20, 2015 / 11:07 am

    I had never thought of visiting here but now it's definitely on my list! And that food looks amazing!

  6. October 20, 2015 / 11:45 am

    Hi Emma, I do like a good history too. Just learned lots on this trip. Dear Kira, you must go it's very beautiful and great fun R

  7. Andrew
    October 23, 2015 / 4:55 am

    How many of those red pebbles did you steal? I've got three! It is a fabulous region; cant wait to return.

  8. Meeta K
    November 4, 2015 / 6:02 pm

    Just gorgeous! Huge France fan and have travelled extensively through the country with my mum especially this region – brings back some lovely memories!

  9. Nettie Watson
    November 13, 2015 / 1:02 pm

    France is an amazing country! I love the wine and food. Actually it is my favorite country. I didn`t have a bad time spent there. Thank you for sharing such an interesting article! Best regards!