The area surrounding Bordeaux is very rich in history, and culinary specialities. It just takes a short detour out of the city about 45 minutes southeast to find some wonderful places to visit and delicious foods to try. I asked my friend, Anne Jordan of Aquitaine Travel Guide who lives in the center of this beautiful area to share her favorites in and around her town of Bazas.
Three Castles to Visit in Sud-Gironde
By Anne JORDAN of Aquitaine Travel Guide
One of the most influential people in all of Aquitaine, Pope Clement V, was born 1264 in Villandraut, which at the time would have been in Gascony. His name at birth was Raymond Bertrand de Got, serving as the archbishop to Bordeaux and receiving land from his brother. This land, would would later be renamed Chateau Pape Clement in 1306, after Bertrand was made pope in 1305. His love of wine and vines would follow him to his rule from Avignon, influencing the wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape (for example).
There are multiple chateaux in Gironde built by Clement V, called “châteaux clémentins”. He is also famous for moving the papal palace from Rome to Avignon, thus beginning the French papal rule that would continue for nearly 70 years. His body lies in the church in nearby Uzeste.
His castle in Villandraut is mostly ruins but the conservation society Adichats can offer visits and runs events year-round. It’s a great place to find Halloween parties and historic reenactments. It is open year-round for self-guided tours (covid confinements being the exception) / Kids 3 EURO and Adults 5 EURO / Accueil - Château de Villandraut (chateaudevillandraut.fr) / www.assoadichats.net / Rue Lafon Isore, 33730 Villandraut / +33556258757
Market day is Thursday morning, which can be a little hectic as it is centered around the main traffic circle in town. However, there is a great selection of vendors and if you have an apartment or house rental, it’s a great place to pick up ingredients. Don’t miss Chez Papa Poule for great chicken and poultry / Jours de marché à Villandraut - Jours-de-Marché.fr (jours-de-marche.fr)
Local potter, Lucie & David, makes some unique self-watering systems for your garden, as well as a-typical cassoulet dishes (cassole) and other earthenware / Poterie Lucie & David (poterie-lucie-et-david.fr) / Closed Wednesday and Sunday open on demand / 4 Rue Martin Jean, 33730 Villandraut / +33 (0)5 56 25 39 13 / email@example.com
Take a canoe down the Ciron river starting from Villandraut from May-September and you’ll pass by Chateau Cazeneuve on the way down. It’s a breathtaking, natural break from the heat and a great way to spend the afternoon / Not for children under the age of six / Reservations required / tarif de location de canoe sur le Ciron au départ de Villandraut (e-monsite.com) / firstname.lastname@example.org / +33 (0)5 56 25 38 65
Chateau Royal de Cazeneuve
Stunning home of Henri IV and Queen Margot has been well taken care of and is still occupied by their descendants. The chateau visit itself is impressive, offering glimpses into the life of its occupants over the centuries with beautiful pieces of antique furniture and drapery. The grounds outside, bamboo gardens and walk along the Ciron River are lovely as well, although the flooding of 2020 left the Queens Grotto impassable for the time being.
Open June-September, and some holidays, daily from 14h-18h (last visit at 17h30), otherwise open on weekends with similar hours (last tour starting at 17h15). Picnic area open from 11am / Adults 11.50 EURO and children over 5 years 7 EURO / 33370 Prechac / Accueil château Royal de Cazeneuve en Gironde (Aquitaine) (chateaudecazeneuve.com) / +33 (0)5 56 25 48 16 / email@example.com /
One of the only castles in the area to bear semblance to English castles, due to it being built during the English occupation of Aquitaine, this Chateau/Fort offers beautiful views, authentically decorated rooms and one of my favorite historic kitchens in the area.
The land surrounding Roquetaillade (meaning ‘carved in rock’) is also home to lovely, grey coated Bazadaise cattle, often seen grazing on the hillside. There is a farm house museum opposite the castle which shows life over a century ago in the area, open during summer months and on request for large groups / 33210 Mazeres / Check website for hours / Adults 9.50 EURO and children 6.50 EURO / Payment in check or cash only / https://www.roquetaillade.eu/ /+33 (0)5 56 76 14 16 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Try a local glass of wine at La Grange vineyard next door, also with Roquetaillade in the name, but not related to the same family. They produce a Graves white and red on site, but also own some land in nearby Sauternes, so it’s a great place to try multiple styles of wine / Tastings are free /
Open during the week from 9h-17h and weekends by appointment only / Vignobles Guignard - Les Graves par Excellence | Guignard Frères – Domaines et Châteaux (vignobles-guignard.com) / +33 (0)5 56 76 14 23 / email@example.com
You’ll want to try some Bazadaise beef, usually grilled and served with fries cooked in duck fat. You can buy some meat from and of the butchers in Bazas, keeping in mind the breed of cattle will be ‘Boeuf Bazadais’ and the cattle raised in the local area will be called ‘Boeuf de Bazas’ (could be Bazadaise or Blonde Aquitaine, for example).
Also duck breast (magret) is delicious and plentiful, as foie gras is made nearby. There are duck farms all over, some you can walk in and purchase directly like from farmer Charlie Bertin at Le Petit Casse / Call in advance to make an order and check hours online / 1 Le Petit Casse, 33430 Cazats / FERME DU PETIT CASSE (facebook.com) / +33 (0)7 70 19 55 10 / Charlie.firstname.lastname@example.org
Try washing all of it down with a glass of wine from nearby Chateau Brondelle, who makes a really drinkable red Graves for a great price. Tours and tastings on request, call in advance / Chateau Brondelle, Vin de Graves / Route de Mazeres, 3321 Langon / +33 (0)5 56 62 38 14
There are great local beers as well, Bazas brewery Quitouille which can also be found in many local restaurants / Brasserie Quitouille - Home | Facebook
For additional ideas for visiting the area:
It’s such a great area to rent a house and experience the countryside, so check AirBnB for options. There are hotels and bed & breakfasts in Bazas, Villandraut and Sauternes area.
Villandraut also has Le Cordonnerie, a lovely 19th century home with a lovely interior garden and hot tub with prices starting around 85 EURO a night / https://lacordonnerie-villandraut.fr / 8 Rue Jean Lapeyre, 33730 Villandraut / +33 (0)7 81 05 38 55
In Bazas try the Domaine de Fompeyre, with a covered pool and attached restaurant it is also walking distance to town / Route de Mont de Marsan, 33430 Bazas / https://domaine-de-fompeyre.com / +33 (0)5 56 25 98 00
Feel free to contact us for personal recommendations, including farm stays.
Anne JORDAN started Aquitaine Travel Guide to create her own company to include information on what to see and do in Aquitaine, as well as share other professionals wonderful travel tips and advice. We have over a decade of experience in culinary travel and tours for groups and individuals, from France to Spain.
Feel free to contact us for ideas or if you have any questions while planning your dream holiday! Our Italian guide, Simona PALENGA, is happy to help your travels to Italy as well!