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Am I tempting fate

We somehow still have a couple of weeks booked in south-west France in August, roughly between Marmande and Bergerac.

I obviously don’t want to curse the chances of us being able to go (which have improved recently) by mentioning this, but would also really value the input of all the knowledgeable members of this community who may have recommendations on where / who to visit, both wine and food-related.

Bear in mind that impatient, frequently feral children (5 and 9 by that stage) will be present and although there will be some me (wine) time, it might be somewhat limited (particularly if I require a taxi service back from the destination).

So, any advice would be fantastic and give me a foundation to state my case for a couple of outings.

Cheers

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I’m also looking to hear the responses to this as I “think” we are looking to do our usual few weeks on French campsites but further south than we have managed the past few years.

I’m sure you’re aware, but the Eurotunnel is going bonkers right now. The website crashed at the weekend when we had to make a couple of modifications to our original booking, which ended up quite a bit more expensive as well.

One other question. I’m a total novice to the area, but I am assuming I’ll be able to pick up some Bordeaux reasonably easily and that it will be a little cheaper than buying the same here. My plan was to skip the 2019 EP campaign and try and grab some 2016 while I am down there.

Are my assumptions valid and is the 2016 better (or safer at least) than 2019 or has my brain finally melted in lockdown?

Rocamadour is beautiful and well worth a day out from there. Sarlat la Caneda is a little touristy, but on the plus side, it’s a little touristy and caters for tourists :smiley:

Likewise, if you fancy a day at the beach, Mimizan Plage is nice, and probably not quite as busy as Arcachon etc.

From a wine perspective, you’re probably quite close to Tirecul La Graviere. Beautiful wines, all through the range. We went at harvest time a few years ago, and one of the ‘Tries’ was 4 buckets of incredibly shrivelled grapes, which looked like they’d produce about 2 bottles of wine between them, probably why the Cuvee Madame is about 80 euros/500ml give or take. Lovely people too :smiley:

And in that area, I implore you, if you only visit one property for wine, go and see Yves Herman-Jouffreau at Clos de Gamot. Even if you don’t buy anything, 1/2 an hour in his company is like an education in life itself, let alone wine.

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Nope, didn’t know!! Mr. Leah is still in Canada and probably will be until the end of July/early August :see_no_evil:. I guess I better get looking.
Also, 2016 yes, buy. @JamesF is all knowledgeable on areas to visit, wineries etc… as I believe he has done this a number of times… child also in tow.

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Climb Europe’s highest sand dune - spectacular if the kids are very early risers.


Doing your own vineyard tours by following the local “Routes” is good.
Monbazaillac and St Emilion are always lovely. Ask for other local epicurean fancies while tasting the wines. Chocolate coated prunes are :yum: and many of the farms do them as well as wine.

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I am sure I have mentioned before that it is worth getting hold of a copy of ‘Guide Hachette des vins’ which is published in English as well as French and is an invaluable guide to French wines and whether it is possible to visit/taste wines at the winery. Particularly useful is their system of highlighting wines that are especially good for their price bracket. It is a book that I always found useful when visiting wineries in France - useless of course in any other country.

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It’s been a few years since we were down that way, and our kids were a bit older than yours are now…but here’s a few suggestions.

Wine - I particularly enjoyed a couple of wines in a restaurant from Ch. Montdoyen, which we then visited (our kids were old enough to be left at pool!) and I bought about a case of wine from them. Very friendly and welcoming, and the wine ranged from competent to excellent, particularly the Monbazillac and a couple of the reds which were just Bergerac appellation. There are loads of other vineyards offering tastings around Monbazillac too.

In Bergerac itself, the Maison des Vins is down near the quay at the river, and it’s ok as a quick overview of the area and some decent wines to taste too but pretty busy when we were there. Worth exploring the reds of Pecharmant which are probably the best in the area and quite good value. Also in Bergerac, if you are a cheese lover, is the fromagerie Blanchard Christian, about 10 minutes walk from the centre - definitely the best cheese shop locally.

We found Sarlat a bit crowded, Rocamadour nicer but parking can be an issue. One thing we really enjoyed (possible exception my wife) was canoeing down the Dordogne and one of the tributaries. Various places and lengths of trip - we did it from a place at Limeuil, but your kids would probably enjoy that. The tributary was good fun as smaller and shallower river…

Hope you manage to get there ok!

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there is a saving to be had on some wines but the best part is getting wines that aren’t that easy to get in the UK !

despite what @Leah said, my ‘expertise’ lies in Bordeaux and the Gironde…if you dont want any advice on that then ask!

For St Emillion (not too far away) make a booking - we managed Angelus in the past as well as Ch. Beausejour Duffau-Lagarrosse (the old man was the rudest man in wine!!). the town itself is very pretty but take sandwiches or a mortgage advisor :rofl:

in Creon (on way to Bdx) you have Creon and Ch Bauduc

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do you have a copy of GH in English ? 2020 ?..

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Sorry I have not got a recent copy of GH

I think they stopped producing the annual guide de vins in other languages many years ago…mine go back to 2004 and all in French

That said, they contain a large amount of data that is accessible with a minimal amount of French - indeed, the key aspect of stars and price ranges don’t need translation !

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Can’t really help with the wines but Eurotunnel are tweeting that they are having problems with their booking system. We were due to travel on July 7th but I thought that was tempting fate so persevered with the system and paying extra and moved to late August. Loire wine visits for us hopefully :grinning: :grinning:

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Yes they are, ive been trying to check availability this morning and no luck :see_no_evil:

This page may help Cahors & Bergerac Suggestions

I think this is the discussion where we got the splendid recommendation for Chateau Vari tasting room in the village of Monbazillac. Fantastic tasting of superb mostly sweet wines from many vintages. Also a cafe and serves the best Grand Creme coffee we have ever tasted. Also Chateau Monbazillac worth a visit. Lovely grounds for youngsters to run amok in and spot enormous frogs in the brook you cross to enter. Big shop/tasting room (it’s a wine coop) with plenty to choose from.

We stayed in Lalinde which is east of Bergerac. Lovely little village with an excellent wine shop. Bergerac Maison du Vin was closed for refurbishment of the whole quayside when we tried last summer so check before making a trip there.

Should you find yourself on the Atlantic coast at Lacanau Plage then be sure to visit Chez Mimi wine shop! We put it off being rather snobbish about the name but that was a mistake. Completely free tastings at the back of the shop, very friendly patronne. We tasted a range of red Bordeaux ranging from the petrol pump (just to clean our pallets according to Mimi!) right through a range of increasingly delicious wines. Good discounts for half cases too!

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We enjoyed the canoeing on the Dordogne tributary too! Decided on a shorter one and it was completely delightful.

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We did main river one day…and my son and I got stuck in a huge back eddy in a very deep pool…it was more annoying than anything else…eventually managed to get out after going round it about three times, whilst telling wife and daughter not to follow that line in!

The tributary was good fun as it was pretty shallow but quite fast the first bit. My wife hit a couple of underground boulders twice, despite me pointing them out…the fisherman in me could see the boil and glide on the water at them. It was priceless, thought she was was sinking and drowning until I pointed out the water was only 2 feet deep…and got out to prove it and reposition her canoe which had got stuck between two of the rocks! Think it was the Vezere…?

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Yes that sounds right for the name of the river. We drove to Limeul, at the confluence of the Vezere and Dordogne rivers, signed up there for the canoe, then they drove us to a spot up river where they dropped us off for the canoe back downstream. We did turn upriver to see how difficult it would be to pull against the current and agreed that it was a lot easier and quicker to go with it rather than against. Idyllic is the right description for the experience.

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Living in the south we can recommend Cuvee Hortense is a lovely white that regularly receives prizes. At circa 6 euros you have a massive bargain.

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firm favourite here - great value for money !