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Wining, dining and golfing in Bordeaux-Gironde

Situated between the Dordogne valley and the Atlantic coast in the South West of France, Bordeaux-Gironde is a most welcoming area, with its great wines, superb food and fine golf courses.

Pétrus in Pomerol - possibly the most famous wine in the world. (Note: you do not say "Château Pétrus", just "Pétrus"
Pétrus - the most famous wine in the world?

The region can boast more than 120 km of sandy beaches, vineyards, pine forest, lakes and a 75 km-long estuary, and is home to historic sites such as the Grotte de Lascaux, the delightful medieval towns of St. Emilion and Sarlat, and the world-famous Bordeaux wine Châteaux.

With 12 golf clubs offering 20 very different high quality golf courses and top hotel facilities, Bordeaux-Gironde deserves to become a favoured golfing destination. Visiting golfers are assured of a warm welcome and good value for money; most of the courses can be played using golf passes (affording special tariffs for visitors - more information at the clubs) as they are working together to help promote themselves and give visitors the opportunity to experience a variety of courses.

Click here for a map of the Bordeaux-Gironde area's golf courses

We were recently invited by the Comité Départemental de Tourisme de la Gironde to sample the gastronomic and golfing pleasures the north Aquitaine area has to offer, and given the chance to play three very different courses and visit two more.

Château des Vigiers

Château des Vigiers, to the east of the region, is just a 20 minute drive from Bergerac Airport and an hour from Bordeaux Airport, right in the heart of the Bergerac wine-growing area.

The Château des Vigiers

The handsome Château, built in 1597, has been entirely renovated and turned into an award-winning 4-star hotel with its own 17 hectare vineyard producing red, rosé and white wines, a beauty spa, a fitness centre and an 18 - soon to be 27 - hole golf course.

You are guaranteed the warmest welcome and the luxurious comfort of the rooms will make you feel relaxed and at home from the very start.

'Le Chai' Brasserie - a converted wine-making cellar

The restaurant "Les Fresques" and brasserie "Le Chai" (a converted wine-making cellar) serve superb and varied cuisine using the best local produce. "Les Fresques" is situated in the left wing of the château and offers beautiful views over the lake and course. You will also enjoy the warmth and cosiness of a wood-burning fire in winter at "Le Chai", or sitting on its terrace with something cool in your hand in summer.

Tennis, swimming, fly-fishing, cycling and horse-riding are available for those feeling like some after-lunch exercise, and the "Résidence du Lac" will welcome you for longer stays.

The undulating par 72 18-hole course surrounding the Château was designed by Donald Steel and offers golfers a delightful round of golf winding through vineyards, whose product you’ll be sampling later, plum and oak trees, and around a lake. It has already been praised by many a press article and voted one of the most beautiful course settings in the world in 1998.

The first six holes run up and down parallel to one another and look fairly straightforward, dull some might even say, but only if they can stay out of the treacherous plum trees and don't enjoy the beautiful views provided by the Château!

The 7th is quite tricky, however, being very narrow off the tee and sloping dangerously to the right towards a welcoming bunker and a well-guarded green. But the 417 yard par four 9th is the highlight of the first nine and a real joy to play. It is downhill to start with, with the lake on the left and a pond coming into play on the right at the foot of an ancient dovecote, leading towards the tricky bunkers protecting the green on an upslope beneath the windows of the Château.

After the open countryside of the first nine, things get more difficult with the second nine on the other side of the Château. Memorable among these is the innocuous looking short par 3, tree-lined 11th, which slopes down towards a ditch on the left, dangerous should you miscalculate your tee shot.

The best and most challenging holes however are the final two. The 521 yard par five dogleg 17th and the stunning 417 yard par four 18th. Donald Steel has described the latter as his favourite hole among the many he has designed, a dogleg turning left over a ridge with a semi-blind tee shot and a second over the lake onto the green in front of the Château. The hole was described in Golf World as Steel's "Vintage Finale".

The Donald Steel course offers you a delightful round of golf.

The course features generous fairways and shortish rough, so that bad shots are not too penalising. True, it is not the toughest of courses, although its undulating greens are quite fast and tricky to read, but it is ideal for people to have fun on. After all, how many of us want to punish ourselves playing an overly challenging course when on holiday? With strategic pin positions and longer rough, however, it could be turned into a tough course for even the best golfer. And the new loop of 9 holes due to open in spring 2008 promises to be tight; the course will then offer three loops of nine, with some existing holes being modified slightly.

Offering pretty much everything you might wish for, this secluded Château could be the ideal spot for a relaxing gourmet holiday with friends or family. It is also an excellent base for exploring the numerous attractions of the area such as its prehistoric cave paintings, its picturesque medieval towns, its numerous châteaux, world famous vineyards and - should you miss big city life - nearby Bordeaux. If you choose to make Château des Vigiers your base in the area, the very welcoming and friendly staff will be more than willing to help you organise your outings.

For full details of the courses and facilities click here.

Relais de Margaux

Relais de Margaux lies right in the heart of the famous Margaux vineyards, close to the prestigious Médoc wine Châteaux, 35 minutes from Bordeaux town centre, and 40 minutes from the airport. Indeed, it was itself a wine-growing estate from the 18th century until the 1980s, and the wine connection is still there as its owners also own Château Lalaudey, whose wines are served in its 2 restaurants, the "Ile Vincent" Gastronomic Restaurant situated in the old part of the building and the modern "Brasserie du Lac" with its panoramic terrace overlooking the course and the Gironde estuary.

Website: http://www.chateau-lalaudey.fr/

The upmarket Relais de Margaux

The upmarket Relais boasts 100 spacious and quiet rooms, 9 conference rooms and a Spa.

The challenging 6048m long par 71 Margaux layout, which opened in January 2006, already has the makings of a top quality course; it couldn’t really afford to be anything else, being the bearer of such a prestigious name! It features small greens, numerous water hazards - among them the mighty Gironde, narrow fairways and cleverly positioned bunkers. The fairways are lined with elms and ash trees, and while some follow the banks of the Gironde estuary, others are surrounded by lakes and other water hazards.

Among the most memorable holes are the 533 metre long and straight par 5 10th, the 11th which is a dangerous par 4 with a ditch to be crossed, and the par 4 13th with water in front. The toughest is probably the narrow, tree-lined 14th with a ditch on the left and a ravine with long weeds waiting for stray shots on the right in front of the green.

The short par 3 12th has two ditches and an extraordinary elevated green with a small vertical wooden wall on the right and the river on the left; it becomes an island green when the tide is very high five or six times a year and you can see a fisherman’s hut - a "carrelet" typical of the region - behind the hole on the right (see photo gallery).

Golf de Margaux is challenging, but an enjoyably tranquil course to play. It will be even better when it has had time to mature and is completely finished, as they are currently still working on the par 3 7th (late 2006). Give it a few more months and you won't be disappointed.

For full details of the courses and facilities click here.

Golf du Médoc - two championship courses: "Les Châteaux" and "Les Vignes"

Located in the heart of the world famous Médoc wine-growing area between Bordeaux and the Atlantic Ocean, Golf du Médoc is home to two very different championship courses: "Les Châteaux", inspired by the links of Scotland and "Les Vignes", built in the heart of a pine forest.

Golf du Médoc - The Championship Châteaux course

These two natural courses are ranked amongst the best 20 in Continental Europe and have hosted major national and international events such as the French Open in 1999 and the Challenge Tour Grand Final in 2000, 2003 and 2004. They are therefore a "must" for golfers who enjoy a strong sporting challenge.

The 6350 metre long par 71 "Châteaux" course, said to be the better tougher of the two, is a natural looking Scottish links-style course featuring gorse, heather, broom and deep bunkers. Water – but not too much of it, bunkers and wind make it a tough challenge, as do the very large undulating greens - it's a good tip to use one more club than you would normally think. Unusually there are only two par 5s, but the very long par 4s and short, well-defended par 3s more than make up for this.

Here, the holes are named after Châteaux and the most difficult on the course - "Château Brillette" - is the 415-metre long 4th with a dogleg on the left, a dangerous bunker on the fairway and a green protected by deep bunkers on either side. If you end up with a par, you can be well satisfied.

"Château Giscours", the 424m long 16th is the longest par 4 on the course and it also has the largest green. Although the fairway is quite wide, watch out for dense vegetation on either side. The prettiest hole is "Château Pontet Canet", the 5th, which is also the most difficult par 3, with a huge pond on the right and a green that is tough to read.

Although "Les Châteaux" presents a succession of demanding holes, you can perhaps afford to relax a little when playing "Château Poujeaux", the 7th, which is the shortest and the easiest. And while relief is almost at hand when you reach the 18th, "Château Léoville Poyferre", you will need accurate shots before tackling the very sloping green.

"Les Vignes", which sadly we didn’t have time to play, is a 6250 metre long par 71 with long par 5s, carefully designed greens and well-placed bunkers calling for accurate shots. It is set in a beautiful, typically local, moorland and maritime landscape of pine trees.

The modern clubhouse, nestled between the two courses, is entirely made of glass and timber and offers views over the course. The restaurant offers good regional cuisine, a buffet is available and you can get a chance to sample the finest local produce of the prestigious Médoc region. They have also recently built an 80-room hotel with a swimming pool and spa between holes 10 and 18. (The hotel is in fact the reason why the "Châteaux" is only a par 71 - to fit it in they had to shorten a hole.) It should be very reasonably priced at around 100-150 euros.

For full details of the courses and facilities click here.

Golf Blue Green - Bordeaux Pessac

Golf de Pessac is situated in the middle of a pine forest, 15km south-west of Bordeaux and just 5 minutes from the airport. It is also just a few golf drives away from one of the largest Bordeaux vineyards: Graves of the Pessac-Léognan appellation.

Golf de Pessac
From left to right: A tough course. The practice range over water. The very good golf school for youngsters.

Golf de Pessac is a flat but testing 27-hole complex, featuring wide pine-lined fairways, tough bunkers, water hazards and quality, contoured, fast greens. It also boasts a very good 9-hole Pitch and Putt, an unusual practice range over water with floating balls and a very good golf school for youngsters.

For ull details of the courses and facilities here.

Golf International de Lacanau

Golf de Lacanau is a delightful, undulating 18-hole course situated a stone’s throw away from the Atlantic Ocean, 45km west of Bordeaux. It winds its way through sand dunes and pine forest and is renowned for its fast greens and water hazards. It is a varied course which manages to remain dry all year round, thanks to its sandy terrain.

Golf International de Lacanau
From left to right: Course set amongst sand dunes and pine forest. View from clubhouse terrace. The welcoming clubhouse.

After your round, you will be made very welcome in the clubhouse. In winter, they offer a bowl of hot soup cooked in the old "marmite" (hot pot) in the fire-place. Good value for money and friendliness are keywords here and of course the food is superb.

On-site accommodation is available in the attached hotel’s newly renovated rooms, and activities for non-golfers can be organised by the resort: surfing, cycling, sailing, spa, horse-riding, tennis, paddle-ball, squash and more. Nearby are Lacanau Ocean beach, with its spectacular waves and beautiful sand and Lacanau Lake with its many activities. For more than 20 years, Lacanau has been the venue for a stage of the World Surfing Championship, competitions.

For full details of all the courses click here.

What to do (apart from its twenty "Grand Cru" golf courses, naturally) ?

If sightseeing is your thing, you will be spoilt for choice. Will it be the nearby Dordogne Valley with its ancient fortified towns and numerous châteaux, the world-famous prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux or the medieval towns of Sarlat and St Emilion? You may also enjoy walking through the many local markets where you can buy truffles, "cèpes" and "foie gras" and wonder about the French Paradox.

For beach, water-sports and nature lovers, Bordeaux-Gironde has 126 km of fine, sandy beaches protected by a continuous wall of sand dunes, including the highest in Europe - Le Pyla - at 112 m. Behind the dunes you’ll find beautiful lakes and the pine forests of "Les Landes" and "Gascony" (the biggest forest in Europe) there to be explored.

You might prefer of course to explore the vineyards of Bergerac, Pomerol, St Emilion, Sauternes, Médoc, Entre-Deux-Mers, Graves, Cadillac, Margaux, Bergerac, to name but a few here which cannot be ignored. With its 7,000 wine châteaux, the Bordeaux region is probably the most famous and arguably the best wine-producing region in France, much loved by the English under the name of "claret", from the French word "clairet", meaning a wine of paler colour than the darker reds of Burgundy.

Bordeaux can be classified into AOC, crus bourgeois and crus classés. The wines are so good there that a specific Bordeaux ranking is needed to classify the best of the best, many of which are universally known: Margaux, Yquem, Pétrus, Cheval Blanc, Haut-Brion...

Château du Taillan - Cru Bourgeois Supérieur

On the way to the Médoc, about 10 kilometres from Bordeaux, Château du Taillan, a Cru Bourgeois since 1932 and a Cru Bourgeois Supérieur since 2003, produces award-winning wines using a combination of the traditional Bordeaux grape varieties - Cabernet Sauvignon (giving red fruit aromas), Merlot (giving velvety roundness) and Cabernet Franc (giving finesse and spicy notes).

The old chai set up for a splendid dinner.

The Château itself dates back to the 18th century and the old "chai" or wine-making cellar was rebuilt in the 15th. Both are French listed buildings.
Visits are available everyday and visitors are either welcomed by a member of the family or the cellar master himself –Groups should book ahead. The wine cellars can be hired for private functions.

Postal Address: SCEA Château du Taillan
56 avenue de la Croix
33320 LeTaillan Médoc
Telephone : +33 (0)5 56 57 47 00
Fax : +33 (0)5 56 57 47 01
E-mail : chateaudutaillan@wanadoo.fr


Planet Bordeaux

Learn everything about winegrowing and all the secrets surrounding wine at "Planet Bordeaux"; fun wine tasting lessons are organised and there’s even a children’s corner (for play while the parents are busy – not for tasting)!

Syndicat des Appellations Bordeaux et Bordeaux Supérieur
1, route du Pasquina
33750 Beychac et Caillau

"Planet Bordeaux" is situated on the way to Saint-Emilion, in the Entre-Deux-Mers and only 20 mn from Bordeaux; RN 89 towards Libourne Junction 5:

Visits: June to Sept.: Mon-Sat: 10.00 am-6.00 pm
Oct. to May: Mon-Fri: 9.00 am- 12.00 and 2.00 pm-5.30 pm. Closed in January except for group reservations.

Visit Bordeaux

The elegant city of Bordeaux

Traditionally a great trading city, the elegant city of Bordeaux is now building itself a new lifestyle. An ambitious urban project is restoring all its prestige to the ancient "Burdigala".
From the Place de la Bourse to the Port de la Lune via the Grand Théâtre and the Allées de Tourny, this prestigious 18th century part of town has been cleaned out and spruced up, and is now a pedestrian area.

Where you used to see people rushing around, these days you see them ambling, cycling or skateboarding, enjoying the sunshine and the cafés terraces. The new tram is up and running and small electric buses are running in some small streets (put your hand up and they stop). Along the quays, the decaying old warehouses alongside the river have been demolished and the area is due to be landscaped.

For more information on the city of Bordeaux: http://www.bordeaux-tourisme.com/

St Emilion

St-Emilion is a picturesque town located 35 km north-east of Bordeaux, between Libourne and Castillon-la-Bataille, whose history goes back to prehistoric times. The town which was named after a monk, who settled here in the 8th century, is a World Heritage site. In the 12th century, the monks built a unique and wonderful monument dedicated to their saint, an underground church "Eglise monolithique" carved out in the solid limestone rock face. It is the largest of its kind in Europe.

St-Emilion - a charming medieval town.

St-Emilion is a charming medieval town with steep hilly cobbled streets. What makes it so beautiful and unique is the unusual yellow warm colour of its ancient limestone buildings. You can start your visit of this fascinating town in the "ville haute" where you can admire the panoramic view over the houses, roof tops and Market Square with its café terrace beneath in the lower part of the town.

Then you can make your way down to the « ville basse » through steep and narrow medieval streets to the oldest monument of the town the monk’s "ermitage" which is carved into the rock, "La Chapelle de la Trinité" next door which was built in the 13th century to celebrate St Emilion, the catacombs and ossuary and finally to the amazing monolithic church.

You can also visit the King’s Tower, the Cordeliers Convent Cloister, the Collegiate Church, the ramparts and Malet de Roquefort's 15th century house and the Musée de la Poterie Populaire "…

St Emilion wine

The Romans planted vineyards in what was to become Saint-Emilion as early as the 2nd century. The area is known for its high quality wines and it is indeed one of the four main Bordeaux red wine-producing areas (the others being Médoc, Graves and Pomerol). They all use the same grape varieties - Merlot and Sauvignon but in different quantities.

Gastronomy and Bordeaux-Gironde Specialties

"Bien manger, bien boire" could be the motto of Bordeaux-Gironde: you’ll be spoilt for choice. Foie gras, duck, cèpes, oysters from "Bassin d’Arcachon", are on the menu everywhere.
More unusual are lampreys, a river fish looking like eels and prepared as "Lamproie à la Bordelaise" (stewed for four or five hours in red wine and leeks to which the drained blood of the fish is added at the end).
Another specialty, which might not be to everyone’s taste, is "Pibales": Tiny eels, also called "civelles", which are considered a delicacy here and can reach 300 euros a kilo.
The tiny little eels - 7mm long, are fished out of the estuary when on their way to the Sargasso Sea where they will become adults. They are cooked "à l’espagnole" fried in olive oil with garlic and chili.


Cèpes (Boletus Edulis)Cèpes (Boletus Edulis)
In the whole of the south-west of France, "cèpes" are regarded as a great delicacy, the kings of wild mushrooms, very much sought after and a real conversation piece when in season (How much…? Where…? How many kilos so and so has picked?...)
From July to October, depending on the weather (they like it hot and humid), they are sold everywhere from temporary stalls set up alongside roads, on markets, supermarkets and prices can reach 25 euros a kilo when scarce.

Cèpes à la Bordelaise

500 g cèpes
5 or 6 soup spoons of olive oil
Some lemon juice
3 shallots and (2 cloves of garlic optional)
Chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
1. Wipe the cèpes clean.
2. Remove the stalks. Cook the chopped heads in hot olive oil over moderate heat. Stir them from time to time.
3. When the heads are slightly brown, add the chopped stalks, garlic, shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook for a further 5-10 minutes.
4. Deglaze the pan with lemon juice. Sprinkle with parsley and serve as a garnish for grilled steak, goose or duck "confit", grilled salmon or in an omelet.

Canelés

You will love the "Canelés", which are sweet little cakes owing their name to the small tins in which they are baked (see photo). They are flavoured with rum or vanilla and can be eaten at tea time, with a glass of sweet white wine or served as in the brasserie at Margaux Golf Club with dry fruit and ice cream.

"Canelés de Bordeaux": (using egg yolks)

Delicious canelé bordelais - served here with dried fruit and ice cream.

1/2 litre milk
2 whole eggs + 2 whites
225 g sugar
150 g flour
1 pinch of salt
50 g melted butter (+ butter for tins)
1 vanilla pod (split)
1 soup spoon dark rum

Preheat the oven to 200° C (390° F); the baking tray should be in the oven.

1. In a medium saucepan, heat milk and vanilla.
2. Mix together 2 eggs and add 1 yolk.
3. Pour the hot milk over the eggs beating all the time and let it cool down.
4. Mix sugar, flour, melted butter, salt and rum over cool mixture and mix well.
5. Let the mixture rest for several hours (24 hours is ideal).
6 Butter the special "canelés" tins (be generous) and ¾ fill with batter.
7. Cook for 60 min (or more) in a hot oven 200° C and remove moulds while still hot.

- Make sure the "canelés" are properly cooked; they should have a brown crust on top and be soft inside.
- The right tins are easily bought in local shops or on the internet


Macarons de Saint-Emilion (using egg whites)

St-Emilion "Macarons" are delicious little cakes made with egg whites, sugar and almonds. Although many shops sell them, the best are supposed to be made by Mme Blanchez who uses a recipe handed down in generation and was originally the St Emilion Ursulines nuns’ authentic recipe dating back to 1620!

Madame Blanchez' MacaronsMadame Blanchez
9 r. Guadet
St Emilion
Tél. : 05 57 24 72 33

An easy recipe (not Mme Blanchez’ !) for the rest of us:
Ingredients :
150g ground almonds
175g sugar
2 egg whites
Icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 175° C (340° F)

1. Add half the sugar to the ground almonds and mix in an egg white. Add the rest of the sugar, then the other egg white and mix well. The mixture shouldn’t be sticky. (if it’s too hard add some more egg white).
2. Allow the mixture to rest for a bit, and make little mounds on a baking tray covered with oiled grease-proof paper. Sprinkle with icing sugar.
3. Put in the oven and open the door from time to time to keep them nice and soft inside.
Get them off the paper as soon as they’re out of the oven.
Mme blanchez, macarons 1 and 2

Where to stay? Where to eat?

Château des Vigiers

Château des Vigiers
Hotel****, Golf course, Restaurants, Brasserie, Beauty Spa
24240 Monestier
Tel : +33 (0) 5 53 61 50 00
Email : reserve@vigiers.com
Website : www.vigiers.com
Look for special offers at http://www.chateaudesvigiers.com/en/golf/packages.htm

 

Relais de Margaux

Relais de Margaux
Hotel****, 100 rooms, Golf course,
Restaurants, Brasserie, Conference
and Banquets Rooms, Swimming Pool,
Tennis & Volley ball Courts, Private
Mooring, Balneotherapy
Relais de Margaux
5, route de l’Ile Vincent
33460 Margaux
Tel : +33 (0) 5 57 88 38 30
Email : relais-margaux@relais-margaux.fr
Website : http://www.relais-margaux.fr
Packages available

Hôtel  Restaurant du Golf de Lacanau

Hôtel du Golf de Lacanau***
Overlooking the golf course,
50 recently renovated air conditioned
rooms in a quiet natural surrounding
Hôtel du Golf - Domaine de L'Ardilouse
33 680 Lacanau
Tel : +33 (0) 5 56 03 92 92
Email : info@golf-hotel-lacanau.fr
Website : http://golf-hotel-lacanau.fr
Restaurant
« La Cuisine de l’Ardilouse »
Overlooking the 9th & 18th greens at
Lacanau golf course, friendly restaurant
specializing in Mediterranean cuisine.
Booking recommended:
+33 (0) 5.56.03.92.96
Open everyday for lunch and dinner.

Restaurant Le Bouchon Bordelais

Restaurant Le Bouchon Bordelais
Very picturesque and welcoming tiny
restaurant situated very close to the Grand Théâtre,
right in the centre of Bordeaux, serving delicious
traditional cuisine. Special offers available &
wine can be bought by the glass.
Also sells bottles or wine in the box to take away.
Open everyday exc. Sat. Lunch & Sun.

2 rue Courbin
33000 Bordeaux
Tel : Reservations : +33 (0) 5 56 44 33 00
Website : www.bouchon-bordelais.com

Flying to Bordeaux:
16 national and international airlines fly to and from 35 destinations in France, Europe and the rest of the world.

AEROPORT DE BORDEAUX
Cédex 40 - 33700 Mérignac
Tél. +33 (0)5 56 34 50 00
Fax : +33 (0)5 56 34 23 01
Website: www.bordeaux.aeroport.fr

There are many direct flights to Bordeaux from various locations in Europe and beyond, particularly from London Gatwick and London Stansted, Amsterdam, Munich, Dublin and Basel.

Daily direct flights from London Stansted to Bergerac operated by the "Low Cost" airline, RYANAIR®.

FlyBE operates flights from Southampton, Bristol and Birmingham to Bergerac with 2 new routes from Leeds Bradford and Exeter.

For further information on general tourism in Bordeaux-Gironde, please contact:

http://www.bordeaux-tourisme.com/

 

 

Click on a course on the map or below for full details:

1. Golf du Médoc

2. Golf de Bordeaux Lac

3. Golf de Margaux

4. Golf de Pessac

5. Golf de Gujan Mestras

6. Golf de Bordeaux-Cameyrac

7. Golf de Lacanau

8. Golf de Teynac

9. Golf de la Méjanne

10. Golf de Biscarrosse

11. Château des Vigiers

12. Golf des Aiguilles Vertes

 Photo credits: © Château des Vigiers - Relais de Margaux - Golf du Médoc - Golf de Lacanau - GolfToday

 



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