Patrick Mace, wine-grower and history lover

The small town of Blaye, an hour north of Bordeaux, “is lucky enough to have been given a great treasure” says Patrick Mace, owner of the Château Marquis de Vauban. With the words “great treasure,” he is referring to the citadel of Vauban- a huge star-shaped fortress that looks over the Gironde estuary. Every year, this charismatic wine owner, originally from Brittany, attracts 18,000 visitors to the small town of 5000 inhabitants thanks to his range of popular touristic activities. “Before, tourists would come and visit the citadel, which is free of entry, and not spend anything in Blaye. The citadel, being a UNESCO heritage site, needs to be looked after. But where do we get this money from?”

Patrick and his wife, Maryse, decided to diversify their wine production- for their sake and that of their adopted town.

They soon understood the potential of uniting their chateau with the citadel and that is where their adventure started. What began as a small wine-producing business has become the top tourism packaged in Blaye. Now, the couple manage a team composed of almost 30 members. 

 

At the beginning of your visit you will have tea and coffee and be introduced to your guides, distinguishable by their glossy pageant sash.

You will then visit the modern wine warehouse where you will be equipped with the most trendy blue plastic shoe socks.

Next on the itinerary is a ride on the tourist train to visit the citadel- practical if you are with young children or elderly people. You will learn about the history of the citadel, its famous architect Vauban and the tree point defence system designed to protect Bordeaux from its ennemies.

After the train ride, it is time for lunch: starters, main, cheese, desert and three different wines. A meal fit for a king- do not think you will leave hungry. Quite the contrary- prepare yourself for a two hour banquet!

To end your visit and help you digest, a one hour horse-drawn carriage ride around the town of Blaye is proposed, weather permitting.

What about a horse-drawn carriage ride?

calèche marquis vauban  

This package activity is known as the “journée découverte” and costs 36 euros, however there are other activities that are also worth taking note of. As of 17:30, every day, rain or shine, an “apéro” (afternoon drinks) is organised in the middle of the citadel- it is the perfect opportunity to mingle with the locals and also meet other tourists. In the evenings, concerts are often held in the chateau grounds. It is also possible to mis-match the activities as you wish, for example, if you would like to just have a ride on the horse drawn carriage and then take part in the afternoon drinks- it is possible! We also organise all inclusive week-long trips around Bordeaux’s vineyards, including Saint-Emilion and two days visiting Paris

Citadelle de Blaye 2  

And finally, if you are arriving in Blaye in a camper van, Patrick and Maryse offer the first 48 hours of your stay for free with access to water and electricity. Tours are available in French, English, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese, they are wheelchair friendly, are free for 0-3 years olds and a 50% discount is offered for 3-16 year olds.  
 

A great fan of history   

Patrick is a great fan of history and loves to tell stories of kings, queens and their romances. His eyes light up with enthusiasm and pride when talking about their links to Blaye. Central to local history and to the chateau itself, Saint Simon, Louis XIII and Anne d’Autriche amongst others are depicted on the walls of the chateau.

But that is a story that we will leave you to discover. 

patrick macé portrait