A weekend in Blaye and Bourg

With my map stretched out in front of me over the steering wheel, I follow with my finger the route I will take to reach the Blaye and Bourg-sur-Gironde region.

My adventure will begin by leaving Bordeaux city centre in a westerly direction and crossing both of its arteries: first the Garonne, then the Dordogne, and then I must take a northernly direction where I can follow the riverbanks of the vastest estuary in Europe, the Gironde, which sources from the Atlantic Sea. Bourg is the first commune I will come across, found along the uppermost part of the Dordogne river. I turn the keys and the motor is ready. Let the day begin!

First stop in Bourg !

 
 
As the sun is still overhead, I decide to leave my car in the centre and I take out my bicycle from the boot. (Although it is also possible to rent one from the Tourism office). Bourg- even its name echoes belligerent origins, making reference, in latin, to a town found near a castle. Indeed, the city is famous for its Chateau de la Citadelle. As I am free to zigzag between the tight alleyways where I can appreciate the architecture and the cosy atmosphere in the small village. 

After visiting the fortress, just in front, I stop off at the local bar “Le Petit Port” for a refreshing drink. It is my chance to chat with the locals and get a feel for the village atmosphere. 

It is time to return to the centre and pick up the so-called “Route de la Corniche Fleurie” (D669-E1). But before that, a little detour by the Maison des Vins and its new Wine Bar, not to return empty hands!

The picturesque route by bicycle is only a half an hour ride away and I definitely do not want to miss the beautiful villages that I pass by. I follow the rock face and at times I am on top of the cliff with a panoramic view and at others I am at its feet taking in the splendid gardens.

Route de la corniche  
Bourg depuis l'estuaire  

It is mid afternoon when I eventually wheel in to Blaye

The sun is still high in the sky and my stomach is rumbling. At the tourism office I reserve a guided visit of the Citadelle de Blaye, also known as “Verrou Vauban”. Before entering, I stop for a late lunch inside the citadelle at the restaurant “Le Bastion” which serves food all day long. I am amazed by the immense walls and drink in the views of the estuary from this world heritage site. 

Citadelle de Blaye 2  
Citadelle de Blaye ruelles  

The rhythm of life here is slow and calm...

...so I take my time and allow myself to melt into the scenery. No rush. After the citadelle I am eager to pick up my bike again. I head off for a 20km ride across the vineyards to the Terres d’oiseaux where I am happy to spend the rest of my afternoon with my camera in hand.

Once back in Blaye, I check into “Villa Saint Simon,” a charming bed and breakfast in the centre of the village, which has a restaurant inside. After a delicious dinner I go for a glass of wine with some other hotel guests to the music bar “Le Carré Vauban”.

Bruhant  
grande aigrette  

Cruising along the Gironde estuary

The following day I have planned to visit the islands on the estuary in front of Blaye. In July and August there are organised boat trips to Ile Nouvelle which was inhabited until the 70s. Through a learning game for both adults and children, you can discover the rehabilitated island- the old village with its school, wine warehouse and houses. The island of Patiras is more for adults as the visit is centred on gastronomy and wine. The island is accessible from May to October. 

For a full detailled offer of the estuary's cruises, you can check online the schedules on www.estuaire-gironde.fr

As the day comes to an end, I fold my bike back into the car and head back to Bordeaux centre. History, wine and breathtaking scenery… I have discovered a wonderful region with lots to share.