Things to do
Other than eat, drink and lie by the pool.
The local town was established by the English in the early part of the fourteenth century. 1315 to be precise, neatly wedged in between Magna Carta (1215) and Agincourt (1415). It’s a typical bastide, with a large square in the centre, and arcades around three sides. There are a few restaurants around Créon (the one of note is La Table in the centre), an oyster bar, a creperie, several bakeries, three coiffeurs, two pharmacies, two butchers, two fruit and veg shops, a fishmonger and a very good cheese shop.
Local food shopping
This is often a major pastime for guests of a foodie disposition. Shopping in Créon is either in the central place of the old town, where you’ll find a few shops, or in or around the supermarket called Carrefour. The best bakery is Le Fournil de Créon, which is within walking distance and not far from the end of our road, Rue Bauduc. Go to nearby Fargues St Hilaire for the best butcher, called Sepeau, along with an excellent fruit and veg shop next door to them and a fine fishmonger opposite.
The Créon market
There is an excellent food market every Wednesday morning from around 8.00am to 12.30pm, and it’s one of the best in the region. They say it’s been held every week since 1315. Seasonal produce, an excellent fish stall (the one on the far side of the square from us), a stinky cheese man and a superb selection of fruit and vegetables, often from the producteurs themselves.
Sunday morning oysters
If there is one thing not to miss out on in the Bordeaux region, it’s the fresh oysters that are sold on Sunday mornings. If you like oysters, that is. We go to the stall opposite Créon town hall, usually near the butchers. The couple are ostréiculteurs from the Marennes, just up the coast, and for a small fee and 20 minutes notice they will open a few dozen of their delicious oysters for you. Take a large plate and expect to pay around €6 a dozen, plus €1.50 for opening them.
Cycle and jogging track
It’s a pity there’s no train service into the centre of Bordeaux but at least the old track has been put to good use. Créon sits at the middle point of this 50km ‘piste’, which was covered over with a tumble-friendly asphalt surface. Bicycles of all sizes can be hired from a shop next to the track - or bring your own - and you can head off in either direction. The piste also serves as a peaceful and safe jogging track, wending through the lovely countryside of the Entre Deux Mers. As the track used to be fit for trains, there are slopes but no steep inclines.
Horse and pony riding
Our daughter Sophie was a regular at the local stables at Camiac. They welcome visitors of all ages with varying degrees of talent and it’s worth booking on to the right session in advance. +33 5 56 23 07 97 office or +33 6 86 41 26 94 mobile.
Arbor et Sens, just 5 miles from Bauduc near St-Genès-de-Lombaud, is an adventure playground in the woods and great fun for all age groups. A bit like Go-Ape in England, by all accounts. It’s a challenging assault course with Tarzan swings, walkways, zip-wires and rope ladders, with colour-coded runs showing different levels of difficulty. Experienced staff are on hand and they are savvy on all safety aspects, and sturdy harnesses are supplied. There’s also a handy junior circuit for small children. See www.arbor-et-sens.fr Reservations +33 6 99 74 45 67 email@example.com
Canoes and kayaks near Sauternes
A great day out for the family and well worth the 40 minute drive to get there. We park up at Villandraut and pick-up our kayaks (2 or 3 people in each), and set off downstream towards Bommes. You can take your own picnic in the waterproof barrel provided, and there’s a picnic point half-way. Allow four hours on the water to Bommes, depending on how competitive you are - and you can do a shorter or longer trip. A phone call back to base and they’ll pick you and the canoes up for the return. Around 18 € per adult, or 6 € for under tens. Booking advised: +33 5 56 25 38 65.
Hardly local but we do go ten-pin bowling as a family occasionally. It’s great fun and not wildly expensive. We go to BowlingStar on the Rives d’Arcins, about 15kms away. Chemin Courréjean, Bègles 33130. It opens at 2pm, so go then to be sure of a slot.
The latest hit with youngsters and younger teens; utterly exhausting, and a good way to get them off screens for a few hours. It’s a fair distance from Bauduc to the north of the city of Bordeaux but worth it. €12 per head for 1 hr. Rue Pierre Baour, Bordeaux 33300.
Older children, teenagers and adults have taken to the new water-skiing lake nearby at Baurech in the warmer months and this is best booked a few days beforehand. Prices are reasonable and the instructor speaks good English. Even closer is Ski Nautique near Espiet, about 8 miles from Bauduc. Call +33 6 50 91 53 72.
Little ones will also enjoy the Ferme Exotique near Cadaujac, with numerous farm animals and the odd camel in residence. Given that the spa for exhausted parents at Les Sources de Caudalie (qv) is near the farm, the farm could be a good day out for granny and grandpa or the au-pair as well.
Our favourite golf course is at the hotel and country club at Château des Vigiers, a 50 minute drive towards Bergerac, south of Ste-Foy la Grande. See www.vigiers.com. There are also a couple of good local tracks at Cameyrac and at the Golf de Teynac near Beychac. For details of these and the golf courses in the Médoc, around Bordeaux and by the coast, this is a useful site: www.golf-bordeaux-gironde.fr
Vineyard tour at Bauduc
A tour around the vineyard and winery at Château Bauduc can be arranged during your stay at the farmhouse. Check with Gavin - see the contacts page.
We can point you in the right direction for visits and tastings at various châteaux around Bordeaux but do give us some notice as many of the more famous estates fill up well in advance.
We recommend a day trip up the D2 wine route in the Médoc, to the north of Bordeaux, passing through Margaux, St-Julien, Pauillac and finally St-Estephe. Many of the world’s most famous wines can be found along this road and we can slot you into a Château in the morning and perhaps another in the afternoon. On the spot visitors can often be frowned upon although there are some that you can pitch up to without booking.
On a different day, time spent in the vineyards of St-Emilion or Pomerol can be equally rewarding, and you shouldn’t ignore some of the great estates of Pessac-Léognan or Sauternes. These are all around a 30 minute drive of Bauduc.
For grown-ups: a top spa
Les Sources de Caudalie is becoming well known around the world for its vine-based beauty products. The original spa and hotel is a 30 minute drive from Bauduc and certainly worth booking up if you enjoy relaxing massages and beauty treatments. The hotel, which also has two very good restaurants, is based in the vineyard of Château Smith Haut Lafitte near Martillac. Reervations of spa treatments are advised - the facials are excellent, as are the massages, merlot body wrap, steam bath and the indoor pool.
The city of Bordeaux
Bordeaux is an impressive city, with a centre that is certainly worth a detour. For the last fifteen years - ever since we’ve been here - it has been undergoing one of the biggest facelifts of anywhere in Europe. A modern tramway has been installed and many areas and buildings have been cleaned up and avenues pedestrianised.
In 2007, the city was made a Unesco World Heritage site, and to see why you have to ignore the sprawling mass of the suburbs and head for the centre with its beautiful neo-classical architecture: there are more protected buildings in Bordeaux than any other French city other than Paris. The tram might be handy but it’s also quite painless to drive in and park in one of the underground car parks - it takes less than half an hour from Bauduc.
Head for the parking at La Bourse on the quais: once inside this huge underground car park, steer in the direction of the Chapeau Rouge car park and you’ll be right under the centre of the city by the Grand Theatre. Or go to the parking under Les Allées Tourny, and from there you can walk to most of the better spots in the centre.
The areas around the fountains in the Quinconces, called the monument to the Girondins, through to the Grand Theatre, over to the Grands Hommes, across to the Cathedal St André, and down to the charming Place de Parlement, are all attractive to stroll around. The Rue Sainte Catherine and Porte Dijeaux are the busiest shopping streets (for better or worse) and antique nuts should head for the road called Notre Dame with the church of that name. Wine lovers will be fascinated by the layout of L’Intendant, the wine shop opposite the merry-go-round on the Allées Tourny.
Other than the occasional meal out or shopping trip, we often go to the UGC cinema near Place Gambetta for films in version originale, or VO, to see them in English with French subtitles.
See www.bordeaux-tourisme.com for more information.
Saint-Emilion is the archetypal wine village and it is so attractive that one can forgive the fact that there are busloads of tourists in the summer and rather too many wine shops. The old town, perched on the limestone hillside overlooking the plains that stretch towards the river Dordogne, is a delight of ochre stone buildings, ancient churches and narrow cobbled streets. There are some striking views, not least from the bell tower of the church, and it is a charming spot to wander around. The monolithic church is worth a visit as are the Cloisters of the Abbey.
A Unesco World Heritage site, St-Emilion has scores of restaurants and café-style bars, so there is no shortage of places to sit and enjoy a glass of the local red. Or even a beer. Just make sure you avoid the hours when the coach tours come to town.
The Bastide towns
The Entre Deux Mers and beyond is stuffed full of picturesque towns and villages, and a drive around some of the prettiest is a pleasant day out for grown-ups. Many of the towns are the so-called Bastides, which date from the middle ages. Some were built by the French and others, like Créon, were constructed by the English during the 300 year period from the middle of the twelfth century onwards when the region was in English hands. They all have attractive market squares in the centre.
A good drive is to go from Créon, past the abbey at La Sauve, on to Sauveterre, down to Monségur and then on to Duras, some 50 kms away. Blasimon and Rauzan are worth a stop and further towards Bergerac, Eymet is very popular with the Brits, so much so that you might get the impression that it has been retaken by les Rosbifs.
Bauduc is an hour from the Atlantic coast with its long sandy beaches and rolling surf. Due west of here is the tranquil Bassin d’Arcachon, with the large seaside town of Arcachon to the south and the enormous Dune du Pyla beyond. Head around the north of the Bassin and the unspoilt seaside resort of Cap Ferret is right down on the point. It’s one of our favourite summer destinations and worth the extra half hour’s journey time if you make a day of it.
In the summer, the restaurant Chez Hortense near Cap Ferret is a super spot, and it’s great for adults but also for families. Almost everyone tucks into the moules frites, and for years we have been trying to fathom the special house recipe for cooking the mussels. There’s no secret to the delicious turbot: brilliant, fresh produce and simply cooked to perfection. Wash it down with an inexpensive bottle of Entre Deux Mers or dry white Graves.