From San Sebastian we drove to Biarritz, beautiful beach resort at Bay of Biscay. This coastal town was highly admired by Napoleon III and his Wife Eugenie in 19th century. At nowadays Biarritz is famous for its fine sandy beaches and world-class surfing. Lonely Planet Southwest France by Julia Wilkinson and John King helped us to find cozy hotel Palym at the pedestrian street near the beach for 50EUR+breakfast 5EUR per person. It is family run hotel, which also has a cheerful restaurant.
Floors are sloping, furniture is ancient and the rooms are well kept. I think this was good value for money.
It was really good to be back in France. To celebrate that, we had a delicious gourmet dinner at the beach restaurant. This is amazing, how well French can cook. Every bite was really delicious. In the morning we walked on the beach. There were surfers waiting for a wind, it seemed that some people have spent the night on the beach. I am convinced that San Sebastaian and Biarritz are both resorts where it is good to relax and spend more time than a day.
The destination of the day was Bordeaux. The wine area is approximately 260km from Biarritz. After driving 200 km, we thought that it would be good idea to have some beach. From Lonely Planet guide we read that just some 30 km from the highway there is a remarkable Dune du Pilat (or Dune de Pyla), which is Europe’s highest sand dune (appr.115m) and 3km long. There are stairs to climb to the top and it is worth (even on the hot day) because the view from the top is magnificent. From the top we saw the beach on the other side of the dune. We walked down to it and took a sunbath and swim. Then we realized that may be this was not very wise idea as now it was needed to go back also. But there were no stairs on this side of the dune. The weather and sand was hot and this is quite demanding to climb on the steep dune. We found a way not to climb whole way back, but still we were very tired (but happy) then got back to the parking lot. There are also several tourist boutiques and food points in the parking lot and most important - there is also a possibility for shower for 2EUR. This was very relaxing.
After this rough experience at the dune we drove towards Bordeaux and Chateaus. We did not have any accommodation booked. It seems we were lucky to find a B&B in the Châteaux - Domaine Les Sapins, B&B in Moulis Médoc, Bordeaux. The place was lovely in the middle of the vineyards. It also had a pool in the backyard. The interior of the chateau was antique. The price of the chambre Petrus for one night (including breakfast) was 68EUR. After checking in we drove around and saw a lot of vineyards, we also visited a local supermarket in order to buy some wine and food for dinner. Wine in the shop was high quality but cheep. The beer and wine were almost equally priced. We spent an evening near the pool, tasting wine and cheese, this was really romantic evening.
The plan for the next day was to visit several chateaus for vine tasting. We asked from the host where to go, because there are so many chateaus that it is difficult to choose. He gave us a map with 280(!) Chateaus on it in the Medoc area and said “Go to any of them!”. Can you imagine! We were confused. We decided to go to the sub area Haut-Medoc and chose by eyes. I think you can not be wrong here. All the chateaus have a history and we did not try any bad wine. Of course the higher quality is in Chateaus which have Grand Cru classe. When going there, keep some free space in the baggage room and usually it is expected that when tasting, you buy a box of five liters or more.
The Châteaux we stopped by for longer time was Châteaux Tour du Haut Moulin. Robert Parker Guide says: "Estimate of its current classification: this excellent cru bourgeois ranks as good as 5th Classified Growth for the vintages 1985, 1986, 1988 and 1990.
The vineyards of this excellent cru bourgeois as located direct on the North of Châteaux Lamarque, near the village of Cussac. There is no doubt that the owner Lionel Poitou makes one of the most concentrated and aromatic wines in the region.
He is not afraid to let the fermentation temperatures reach the very dangerous level of 34 - 35 C, and he operates with a long vatting of quite one month.
Moreover, the low yield (45 hl/la) and the plantation density (10000 plants/ha) give to the wine, when the season is good, an incredible dark and purple ruby color as well as a wonderful depth and concentration.
This is certainly one of the best Crus bourgeois. There is no doubt that by an blind tasting it would put more than one classified growth in a difficult position.”
See more Bordeaux pictures in Bordeaux photo gallery.