The farmhouse is a great place to relax and do a very little but it’s also a terrific base from which to explore Bordeaux, the Gironde and the Bordeaux wine region.
The superbly restored city of Bordeaux and the medieval wine village of Saint-Emilion, both Unesco World Heritage sites, are just over 15 miles (24kms) away.
At Bauduc, there are many walks through our private vineyards, fields and woods, and a tour of the vineyard and winery by Gavin can be laid on. We are a short stroll from Créon, a town founded by the English in the early 14th century (the region was in English hands for nearly 300 years) and a market has been held here every Wednesday since 1315, apparently. It’s one of the best food markets around.
Créon has excellent local butchers, bakers, fruit, veg and cheese stores and a leading fishmonger. These, plus a decent supermarket and other shops, are within a 5-minute drive. For eating out, there’s a choice of excellent restaurants, whether you prefer something local or one of the many spots in and around Bordeaux or Saint-Emilion.
If you fancy a car-free trip into Bordeaux during the week, there’s a new express coach service, the 407, from the end of our road. On the hour, every hour, from 7am till 10pm.
Many guests make use of the excellent activities on offer locally. You can hire bicycles nearby in Créon to go on the cycle route, which replaced the old railway line that stretches 25kms in one direction and 25kms in the other - a peaceful jogging track too.
There are well-run stables close by for horse or pony riding at all levels, and there are good tennis courts in Créon which we can get access to. A big tree-climbing activity centre, with ropes and walkways and tarzan swinging, is only 5 miles away and has proved to be a hit with more adventurous adults, teenagers and smaller children.
A great day out is canoeing or kayaking down the Ciron river in Sauternes, starting at Villandraut and winding up at Bommes. It’s a 45 minute drive from here but worth it, more so if you take a picnic. Everything else is provided, including the waterproof picnic holders. The organizers come and bring you back to your car when the day is done.
For wine lovers, you could hardly be more central. La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux is easy to get to, with or without a car, and we’re half an hour’s drive from St-Emilion and Pomerol, or 30 minutes from Graves, Pessac-Léognan and Sauternes in the other direction. We’re less than an hour to the famous Médoc appellations of Margaux, if avoiding rush hour, and 80 minutes to St-Julien, Pauillac and St-Estéphe beyond.
The long sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast around Archachon and Cap Ferret are an hour or so in the car but worth the trip, depending on traffic, weather and the season. Watch out though in August. Heading inland, there are lovely bastide towns and pretty villages set in the quiet countryside near the Dordogne and Garonne rivers.
We now keep a desk full of up-to-date brochures and maps in the house and are usually on hand to give advice on all this, and more. Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or for guests it’s best to text/WhatsApp Gavin +33 6 42 32 98 53.
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 bars and cafés on the square, and a couple of popular restaurants - La Table being the most frequented. A new café called ’La Tasse qui fume’ has been a hit with guests, and children quite like the crêperie that's also on the square.
LOCAL FOOD SHOPPING
This is a major pastime - and a necessity - for us and for guests of a foodie disposition. Shopping in Créon is mostly on the edges of the town, with many of the shops of note being out towards the Carrefour supermarket. The buildings are modern and functional rather than picturesque but at least there’s plenty of room inside and space to park. See the detailed map in The Local Area. The best and busiest bakeries are Maison Catarino and Le Fournil de Créon, both of which are not far from the end of our road, Rue Bauduc. The butcher-fishmonger-fruit-veg store called Mer et Saveurs, near the Carrefour roundabout, is terrific. So too are the new butchers Eleveurs Girondins and the fruit and veg shop, Saveur et Fraîcheur, both nearby.
THE CRÉON MARKET
There is an excellent food market every Wednesday morning from around 8.15am to 12.30pm, and it’s one of the best in the region. They say it has been held every week since 1315. Seasonal produce, a fine 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. Do though watch out for some rather expensive cheeses, cured meats and so on. The parking can be difficult around town and you may have to do as the locals do and park halfway up a pavement near the end of our road.
SUNDAY MORNING OYSTERS
You can take them a bit for granted when you live here but, if you're a fan, don't miss out on the delicious fresh oysters that are sold by the ’ostréiculteurs’ themselves on Sunday mornings. We have always been to the couple who have two stalls - madame with a stand opposite the Mairie or Créon town hall, usually near the butchers, and monsieur who is usually outside the huge Cave Cooperative on the other side of Créon. You can't miss it if you take the road to Bordeaux via Fargues. 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 or €7 a dozen, plus €1.50 for opening them.
If Sunday doesn't work, then Mer et Saveurs above can provide a deluxe oyster offering at a reasonable price. They'll open them and put them on a bed of a ice on a polystyrene tray, from Tuesday to Sunday morning.
VINEYARD TOUR AT BAUDUC
A tour around the vineyard and winery at Château Bauduc can be arranged during your stay at the farmhouse. It's often best to wait until we can see what the weather forecast offers. Check availability with Gavin by text, WhatsApp or call 0033642329853, or email email@example.com.
CYCLE AND JOGGING TRACK
It’s a pity there’s no train service into the centre of Bordeaux but at least the old line has been put to very good use. Créon sits at the middle point of this 50km ‘piste’, which is covered with a tumble-friendly asphalt surface. Bicycles of all sizes, including infant trolleys and seats, can be hired from the ’locations’ shop next to the track on the other side of Créon, or bring your own. 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 mercifully few steep inclines. You’ll find a café at Espiet in 8kms one direction, and another at Lignan-de-Bordeaux, 7kms the other way.
THE ABBEY AT LA SAUVE
The ruined abbey at La Sauve, a couple of miles down the road, is a good stop for families who want to go on a shortish, 5km cycle ride on the ’piste’ and then have something to do at the other end. Or you can simply drive there, of course. The abbey and gardens have been neatly preserved and the steps are worth the climb up the tower for the view. There's also the Maison des Vins de l’Entre Deux Mers in the same complex of old buildings for grown ups to taste and buy some local, fairly inexpensive wines.
Arbor et Sens, just 8kms 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
HORSE AND PONY RIDING
Our daughter Sophie was once 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.
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, which is hardly a place of beauty but it's efficient, enjoyable and not expensive. 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 hour. 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.
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
VISITS TO OTHER CHATEAUX
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 - we are around 50 to 75 minutes from the famous Médoc appellations of Margaux, St-Julien, Pauillac and finally St-Estéphe. 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 essential - 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 17 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 try to make sure you avoid the hours when the coach tours come to town.
SAINT EMILION RESTAURANTS
For more details, take a look at TripAdvisor or whichever guide you prefer. These are simply some of our suggestions. For phone numbers and locations, try www.saint-emilion-tourisme.com
Suggested restaurants at Chateaux, out of town, overlooking vineyards
La Table de Siaurac. €€€
Near Néac, in Lalande de Pomerol and just a few miles from Saint Emilion. The affable owner, Paul Goldschmidt, has done a fantastic job in turning this impressive Chateau into a lovely destination for tastings and fine but relaxed dining. The inhouse chef is certainly talented. Both dinner inside the charming house and lunch on the lawn were both delightful, and the wines from the various estates under the same ownership very fairly priced. From memory the fixed price dinner menu was around €45 and the lunch €28, though a cheaper one was available.
Les Belles Perdrix de Troplong Mondot. €€€€
Delicious, Michelin-star quality food. Wonderful for lunch on the terrace in summer. The set lunch was €60 but certainly worth it.
La Terrasse Rouge at Chateau La Dominique. €€€
Wonderful setting in summer, on the roof of the new winery, overlooking the vineyards of Chateau Cheval Blanc and Pomerol across the road. Good food although reports from guests are mixed.
L’Atelier de Candale €€/€€€
This is under new ownership and the signs are promising. A fine location, especially outside, in the grounds of Chateau Candale, a Saint Emilion vineyard at Saint Laurent de Combes.
In the town itself
Logis de la Cadene €€€€
From the owners of Chateau Angelus. Fine, Michelin-star dining, either on the charming, smallish terrace, or inside. There's a larger table option upstairs. The food bears no relation to what was served under the previous management (which was rustic and fun but completely different).
Le Tertre. €€/€€€
Popular spot, good reports.
Les Délices du Roy. €€/€€€
Good reports from guests.
We went a few years ago and enjoyed it.
Chai Pascal. €€
Relaxed and informal but stylish. Good stop for lunch especially.
L’Envers du Décor. €€/€€€
Under new ownership - with the Perse family of Chateau Pavie and the Hostellerie de Plaisance. It will be interesting to see how this popular brasserie, with an enclosed garden area out the back, evolves under new direction.
Cheap lunch, out of town
La Puce €
Low cost, great value lunch place on the main road between Libourne and Castillon, not far from the Cave Coop of Saint Emilion. Enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
Branne, near Saint Emilion on Dordogne river
Le Caffe Cuisine (sic). €€/€€€
Popular with locals and tourists. Fixed menus offer value, excellent beef, fairly relaxed policy on corkage.
Catusseau, near Pomerol
La Table du Catusseau. €€/€€€
We've enjoyed this on a few occasions. The food is excellent, both for lunch and dinner. The corkage policy is worth a look if there are a few of you - buy a bottle of Champagne off the list (€60 for an excellent Blanc de Blanc) and there's no corkage on the wine you take. The wine list is good though.
Out of town, near Montagne Saint Emilion
Clos Mirande. €€/€€€
Popular, very good restaurant overlooking the vineyards outside the village of Montagne.
Out of town, St-Gènes de Castillon
Comptoir de Gènes. €€
A good brasserie, specialising in the wines of Castillon.
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.
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. A favourite haunt of ours for lunch or supper is the restaurant Cafe Plage Pereire on the beach of that name.
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.