Subject: Re: Two weeks in France - Bordeaux as a base
Hi Hank & Wellsie,

I and a pack of 5 others recently returned from Bordeaux which could serve as a good base. Bordeaux is a wine region that encompasses several cities/towns and is also a city. I'll try to maximize confusion by using both interchangably. Bordeaux is undergoing a large streetcar building project so lots of construction going on - but I have no problem with that. I was overall thoroughly impressed and pleasantly surprised about Bordeaux. Here is general info:

Some general info on SW France

About 45 minutes away is St. Emilion which offers a more rustic although elegant view of the Bordeaux wine region. You could get the general vibe in a day, but definately stay for the charm at night.

If you stay in Bordeaux you must stay here. This is new place, charmingly small, unbelievable nice owners, comfortable and close.

You could take a wine class at the Bordeaux Wine Council.

Bordeaux wines are well-known and regarded and the vineyards and chateaux are nice. Bus tours or private tours from Bordeaux are available. Tourist office can fill you in about details. or this

Also, search Wine Spectator's and the ilk's archives for wine stories and tips.

About 2 hours (by car) east of Bordeaux is where the prehistoric cave paintings are. The only original is limited to 200 people per day. Book well in advance.

There is a interesting truffle farmer and his wife also ~2 hr east of Bordeaux. He has a great farm with a B& B or a house across the road for rent (self service). He teaches you all about truffles. It's a bit remote, but great.

I also want to visit a snail farm in the area NE of Bordeaux but didn't have time.

Further NE of Bordeaux (about 2.5 - 3 hrs) is Cognac where, naturally, you can find Cognac and Pineau des Charentes (a yummy appertif). You can tour the big guys like Remy Martin but also seek out the small ones.

If you got big bucks or strong passions for food, do a cooking class.

About an hour to the west is the Atlantic. There is the larger resort town of Arcachon or the quaint, former oyster-farming villages on a penisula.

Most important thing to know what you want out of the trip. I go for packing in as much as I can without being rushed or stressed. That means lots and lots of planning ahead. If you want to show up and just see what happens - you can do that to.

Have fun, Brian