12/06/2023

A Bastide Town | Libourne, France


Today we are docked in Libourne, France, a quaint fortified harbor town at the confluence of the Dordogne and Isle Rivers, just east of Bordeaux, and a few minute's drive south-east to reach Saint Émilion and Pomerol.

Like most bastide towns, Libourne is laid out in a grid system and the main square is a hub of activity. Every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday you will find the Libourne farmer’s market at Place Abel Surchamp, easily the best in the Gironde. There is a plethora of colorful stalls selling delicacies of the region, fresh oysters, vegetables from local farmers, freshly baked bread, and mouthwatering pastries artfully displayed. A true Libournais wine destination with cafes and restaurants spilling onto the square. In true fashion, you will see French women and families carrying their shopping baskets filled with seasonal produce, and a fresh baguette, living an authentic lifestyle.


There are many things to experience in this bastide town, the iconic vaulted arched bridge from 1820, Pont De Libourne, and the 15th-century town hall, guarding its quiet secret, the Museum of Fine Arts. Discretely exhibiting works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Albrecht Dürer and Auguste Rodin. Or visit the Saint-Jean Baptiste Church which has an authenticated Crown of Thorns of Christ. As you head toward the redeveloped quay, it has become a public promenade for leisure activities.

To conclude my day in Libourne, by appointment only, I visited La Maison Galerie owned by Laurence Pustetto. Once you enter the glass and black lacquered steel door, you are entering an artistic universe.  It is a private home with staged and designed exhibits from contemporary artist. Where Laurence Pustetto, the owner, conducts bespoke tours.   It is a must-see if you are in Libourne, France.

There are many such treasures in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of southwest France all waiting to be explored.

This is my final post from my intrepid travel in southwestern France.  The Gironde is the largest department in metropolitan France and the second largest in France. My homebase was Bordeaux the capital of the Gironde. It was an enchanting trip throughout, where I sipped, sampled, and strolled my way through the enchanting wine villages and picturesque countryside.

 

11/07/2023

Bourg: Perched Atop A Quiet Secret in Dordogne

After exploring Bordeaux, Cadillac, Blaye, Bourg, Libourne, and Saint Émilion, my next port is at tiny historic Bourg. 

Bourg, France, is a hidden gem on the right bank of the Dordogne River, nestled in the heart of the wine appellation of Côtes de Bourg, in southwest France. In the 16th century, Bourg was a fortified community that secured a prominent position at the confluence of the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers.  In medieval times this tiny hamlet was invaded by Visigoths, ravaged by the Normans, fortified by the English, and hosted more royalty than anyone ever expected, having been visited by four kings. 
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina
Nowadays, Bourg sits discreetly among three prominent UNESCO Heritage sites:  Blaye, Saint Émilion, and Bordeaux. This tiny ancient village once named Bourg-sur-Gironde, built in Roman times, tells a tumultuous 2000-year-old history. 


10/26/2023

Saint-Émilion: Lost-in-Time Storied Village


On this journey I have explored Bordeaux, Cadillac, Blaye,  Bourg, and Libourne.  Libourne lies northeast of Bordeaux and sits on the confluence of the Dordogne and the Isle rivers. Join me as we go beyond Libourne and explore the honey-colored village of Saint Émilion.

Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina

Saint-Émilion is a honey-colored wine village in the Gironde department in southwest France, where it gracefully adorns a rocky outcrop overlooking the Dordogne River valley.  In 1999, Saint-Émilion was awarded the title Cultural Landscape by UNESCO; protecting its ancient architecture, landscape, and historic vineyards that still produce world famous wines today.  This quaint wine village will pull at your heart strings with its photogenic beauty, glistening limestone facades, and vine-laced vineyards.

The most practical piece of advice I can give you for visiting Saint-Émilion is to wear sturdy walking shoes. You will thank me later, as you navigate up and down those captivating winding lanes, all inlaid with centuries-old shiny and slick ballast-cobblestones, beckoning you forward - to explore this remarkably rich village.

10/24/2023

Blaye, France: Le Citadelle de Blaye


After spending time in Bordeaux, I traveled upstream to explore Cadillac, to explore the colorful life of Toulouse-Lautrec at Chàteau de Malromè. Now, meandering just north of Bordeaux, is Blaye (blaj) a commune, fortified since antiquity. Join me in discovering this ancient citadel once again.

Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina

The Aquitaine region straddles a prominent position in southwest France. It stretches long and lean against the French Atlantic coastline, reaching up to the Pyrénées mountain range and transcending to the Spanish border.  It is here, in the Gironde department, where intrepid travelers can scamper to the summit of storybook castles, bike through vineyard-laced countryside, walk through ancient villages, and sip world-renowned wines.  Tourist and travelers alike can discover the douceur de vivre in this tiny one-kilometer-long settlement, once named Blaye-et-Sainte-Luce.

Let me introduce you to Blaye, France, a petite but mighty hamlet, sitting at the southern tip of the Gironde estuary, formed by the confluences of the nearby Dordogne and Garonne rivers.  Blaye is a historical and powerful commune from medieval times, where the Citadel of Blaye and its military fortifications sit majestically over the waters of Western Europe’s largest estuary.

10/19/2023

Discover the best-kept secrets of Bordeaux


Traveling solo and arrived today in historical Bordeaux to revisit the city and to explore the small villages and towns in southwestern France.  Where I will glide along the riverscape of the Garonne, Dordogne, and Gironde rivers. Stopping in the quaint communities of Cadillac (kad-e-yak), Blaye, Bourg, Libourne, and Saint-Émilion, the most visited place in the Gironde. 

Bordeaux is a port city located in the southwestern region of France, known globally for its famous wine production. After many years of revitalization, this "sleeping beauty" has awoken from its slumber. With civic pride, a vision, and a grand plan for urban revitalization, the Bordelais set in motion a cosmopolitan renewal. Going about cleaning centuries of soot from historical limestone buildings, removing walls and traffic from the ancient city center. Demolishing and relocating riverfront warehouses and docks – creating a riverfront promenade for tourists, cyclists, and joggers to explore this beauty on foot.

www.scribblesandsmiles.net
Miroir d'eau (water mirror)

It is a mix of historical and modern renaissance. In 2007, Bordeaux received the classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, honoring 1810 hectares in the region, along with its historical buildings and sites.  Situated along one of its greatest assets, the Garonne River, flowing into the Gironde Estuary, Gironde River, and the Dordogne, stretching out to the Atlantic Ocean.  Bordeaux has become world famous for its wine regions and beautiful rivers.