October 2, 2018 Bordeaux FR

Everyone we talked to over the last few days told us we had to go to Bordeaux.  Ron was a little intimidated with the idea of driving into a big city, and there are no official aires or campgrounds in the city.  After some research our Dutch Parking App listed a parking lot next to a soccer stadium and municipal pool that had good access to the city by bus. 

One of the new trams in Bordeaux, there is a lot of work going on to expand the tram lines.

To everyone who told us not to miss Bordeaux thank you we both enjoyed it very much.  It is a medium sized city with a very well developed transit system that was easy to use.  The waterfront promenade goes on for a couple of kilometers and is wide and pleasant to walk. The promenade has cafes on one side, and river cruise ships, and one very expensive yacht on the other.

These Buildings fronted the river.  Bordeaux is one of the larger ports in France.

We visited the World of Wine Museum which is a little pricey, but a very modern multi-media museum, and the entrance did come with a taste of one wine from their world selection.  The different multimedia displays included something to taste touch, and many different ways of visually presenting information about wine.  It was interesting to see how curators are trying to integrate all of the audio visual stuff that is available now.  We also got a small taste of French humor in some of the presentations which was fun.

A display on Egyptian Wine.
Most museum stores have books and t-shirts for sale, this one has wine.  My kind of museum store.

After cutting ourselves off after over three hours in the museum we headed down town to look at some of the buildings in town.  The city center is quite nice, and looks like it was not terribly damaged during WWII despite being a major base for German U-Boats.  With a city as tuned into wine as Bordeaux is the cafe scene is quite extensive, and a lot of people were enjoying an afternoon drink, so we decided to join them for a beer.  We had a couple of French microbrews and they were quite satisfactory.

We really enjoyed our day in Bordeaux.

October 1, 2018 St. Laurent Medoc FR

We spent the day exploring the wine region on the west side of the Gironde River.  This area has some of the most expensive wines in the world.  To get there we had two choices, a 100km drive around the Gironde and thru Bordeaux, for the time and gas, or a 20 minute Ferry Ride that would put us right in the middle of the wine area we were aiming towards, for cash money.  We opted for the ferry ride because Ron is a sucker for ferries, and does not like driving thru big cities.

François in the hold of the ferry.
François posing in front of a windmill and grape vines.

We really wanted to see the town called Margaux which is the center of the Premier Cru wines.  As we were driving there, harvest was in full swing everywhere.  This limited our opportunity to visit wineries as the smaller wineries that we tend to visit were closed due to the harvest.  When we got to Margaux the town itself did not make much of an impression, besides having a couple of larger than normal homes it could have been any small French village.  

Surprisingly to us they harvest a great deal of the grapes in Bordeaux with machines.

We decided to get out to take a quick walk thru town, and were about to head back to François when we saw a winery that was open, in France we have learned that an open sign does not always mean they are open.  We were poking around the outside trying to decide when a lady stuck her head out of the door and informed us they were open.  We went in with her and found ourselves in the poshest place we have been to in quite a while.  She offered us a tour of the winery for €50 each.  We decided to splurge for a glass of wine and some desert instead.  While we were savoring our small moment of poshness, another American couple came in and joined us.  We had a nice conversation with them before heading out. The wine was really good.

Ron enjoying a good wine, and trying to look like he belongs in such a nice place.

On our way out of town we saw the signs for Chateau Margaux whose wines retail for over $1200 per bottle and decided to do a drive by.  On arrival we saw that their parking lot was pretty full so we turned into the winery, but were stopped by a security guard and told to turn around.  We clearly are not Chateau Margaux customers!

Chateau Margaux where we were not welcome. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon driving around looking at the Chateaus, and the harvest process before parking up for the night in a little village in the center of the wine country.  The village of St. Laurent Medoc is not nearly as posh as Margaux so we fit in.

Another harvest shot at a small winery.

September 30, 2018 Blaye FR

We had an early start to the day.  The weather continues to be great, highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 50’s.  We headed into Bordeaux which is the home of Cabernet Sauvignon, the area we wanted to visit produces some of the most expensive wines in France.  

Our Dutch App that we use to locate places to stay recommended we stay at a winery called the Marquis de Vauban.  It was free so we punched it in as we left Rochefort, after a nice relaxing Sunday drive of about 110Km’s we arrived.  Our expectation was a spot in a parking lot.  We were very pleasantly surprised to find we are parked right in the vineyard of the winery with electricity, and water provided.  We went into the tasting room and signed up for the 4pm English tour.

The view from the front of François.

We had a few hours to kill so we walked into the town of Blaye to see the fortifications there which is a UNESCO world heritage site.  This is another fort designed by the French designer Vauban, (the same guy our winery is named after).  It was designed in 1660 on the site of a medieval fort on the River Gironde.  The Gironde is the largest River estuary in Europe and it is about 3 miles wide here.  The purpose of the fort was to protect Bordeaux from ships coming up the Gironde.  It is an immense fort and was put to the test in 1814 when the British besieged it.  The fort withstood the siege and kept the British from getting down the Gironde.  It was decommissioned after WWII and turned over to the town.

Looking across the Gironde River towards the town of Paulliac.  Goats have taken over one of the outer parts of the fort.
An inland entrance to the fort with a bridge over the dry moat facing the town.

We took our winery tour and tasting with a couple from Wales.  After the tour we took a nice horse carriage ride into town to top off the night.  While we were relaxing there was a knock on the door of the RV and it was the guide from the horse carriage wanting to know if we wanted an aperitif for the night, of course we did.  The aperitif was poured from a used Evian water bottle.  After everyone from the campground got their glass he asked what it was, we had no idea, but felt better when none of the other guests knew either.  It turned out it was blackberry currant mixed with red wine.  It was delicious.  After that we returned to the RV to have our dinner, and call home.

This black swan was out looking for dinner outside the RV.

September 29, 2018 Rochefort FR

Today we reluctantly left Brittany and decided to take a big bite out of our trip to Spain. We covered over 350km today to the city of Rochefort.  The roads were generally good and for almost half of the way were limited access free ways with no tolls.

Rochefort is an interesting town.  It was founded in 1666 to support a naval yard that was placed here by one of the kings.  Unlike any French city we have ever visited it is actually laid out in a grid.  The town itself had a kind of Mediterranean/California vibe.  Ton thought it was kind of boring, but Ron was comfortable in a town he could navigate in without getting lost!

Even thought the roads were straight there was still a nice old gate in Rochefort.

We made another attempt at getting a French phone.  The guy at the Orange store (the biggest French mobile phone company), was really nice, but basically told us that there were no good solutions to our problem.  We could either get a standard French mobile plan and pay the monthly cost, or get a sim card that only works in France and nowhere else in Europe.  We are going to keep trying, there must be a way to make this work.

We went down to the old naval yard.  It was a major producer of vessels for the French Navy from 1660 to the 1920’s.  In addition to building French Ships of the Line (really big sailing battle ships) and Frigates like the USS Constitution, it also built France’s first submarine (named the Plunger).  Unfortunately the location was not good for larger modern ships and it was abandoned.  

The French Frigate Hermione reconstructed.  

Today they have a replica of the French Frigate Hermione.  This ship is famous here for being the ship that took Lafayette to the US during the revolution.  It is really well done.

After that we took a look around the ropery which was a large factory used to make all of the ropes used in the French Navy.  By the end of the walk we headed to an aire for the night and relaxed.

The ropery building at the French Maritime Museum.

October 2, 2018 Bordeaux FR

Everyone we talked to over the last few days told us we had to go to Bordeaux.  Ron was a little intimidated with the idea of driving into a big city, and there are no official aires or campgrounds in the city.  After some research our Dutch Parking App listed a parking lot next to a soccer stadium and municipal pool that had good access to the city by bus. 

One of the new trams in Bordeaux, there is a lot of work going on to expand the tram lines.

To everyone who told us not to miss Bordeaux thank you we both enjoyed it very much.  It is a medium sized city with a very well developed transit system that was easy to use.  The waterfront promenade goes on for a couple of kilometers and is wide and pleasant to walk. The promenade has cafes on one side, and river cruise ships, and one very expensive yacht on the other.

These Buildings fronted the river.  Bordeaux is one of the larger ports in France.

We visited the World of Wine Museum which is a little pricey, but a very modern multi-media museum, and the entrance did come with a taste of one wine from their world selection.  The different multimedia displays included something to taste touch, and many different ways of visually presenting information about wine.  It was interesting to see how curators are trying to integrate all of the audio visual stuff that is available now.  We also got a small taste of French humor in some of the presentations which was fun.

A display on Egyptian Wine.
Most museum stores have books and t-shirts for sale, this one has wine.  My kind of museum.

After cutting ourselves off after over three hours in the museum we headed down town to look at some of the buildings in town.  The city center is quite nice, and looks like it was not terribly damaged during WWII despite being a major base for German U-Boats.  With a city as tuned into wine as Bordeaux is the cafe scene is quite extensive, and a lot of people were enjoying an afternoon drink, so we decided to join them for a beer.  We had a couple of French microbrews and they were quite satisfactory.

We really enjoyed our day in Bordeaux.


October 1, 2018 St. Laurent Medoc FR

We spent the day exploring the wine region on the west side of the Gironde River.  This area has some of the most expensive wines in the world.  To get there we had two choices, a 100km drive around the Gironde and thru Bordeaux, for the time and gas, or a 20 minute Ferry Ride that would put us right in the middle of the wine area we were aiming towards, for cash money.  We opted for the ferry ride because Ron is a sucker for ferries, and does not like driving thru big cities.

François in the hold of the ferry.
François posing in front of a windmill and grape vines.

We really wanted to see the town called Margaux which is the center of the Premier Cru wines.  As we were driving there, harvest was in full swing everywhere.  This limited our opportunity to visit wineries as the smaller wineries that we tend to visit were closed due to the harvest.  When we got to Margaux the town itself did not make much of an impression, besides having a couple of larger than normal homes it could have been any small French village.  

Surprisingly to us they harvest a great deal of the grapes in Bordeaux with machines.

We decided to get out to take a quick walk thru town, and were about to head back to François when we saw a winery that was open, in France we have learned that an open sign does not always mean they are open.  We were poking around the outside trying to decide when a lady stuck her head out of the door and informed us they were open.  We went in with her and found ourselves in the poshest place we have been to in quite a while.  She offered us a tour of the winery for €50 each.  We decided to splurge for a glass of wine and some desert instead.  While we were savoring our small moment of poshness, another American couple came in and joined us.  We had a nice conversation with them before heading out. The wine was really good.

Ron enjoying a good wine, and trying to look like he belongs in such a nice place.

On our way out of town we saw the signs for Chateau Margaux whose wines retail for over $1200 per bottle and decided to do a drive by.  On arrival we saw that their parking lot was pretty full so we turned into the winery, but were stopped by a security guard and told to turn around.  We clearly are not Chateau Margaux customers!

Chateau Margaux where we were not welcome. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon driving around looking at the Chateaus, and the harvest process before parking up for the night in a little village in the center of the wine country.  The village of St. Laurent Medoc is not nearly as posh as Margaux so we fit in.

Another harvest shot at a small winery.


September 30, 2018 Blaye FR

We had an early start to the day.  The weather continues to be great, highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 50’s.  We headed into Bordeaux which is the home of Cabernet Sauvignon, the area we wanted to visit produced some of the most expensive wines in France.  

Our Dutch App that we use to locate places to stay recommended we stay at a winery called the Marquis de Vauban.  It was free so we punched it in as we left Rochefort, after a nice relaxing Sunday drive of about 110Km’s we arrived.  Our expectation was a spot in a parking lot.  We were very pleasantly surprised to find we are parked right in the vineyard of the winery with electricity, and water provided.  We went into the tasting room and signed up for the 4pm English tour.

The view from the front of François.

We had a few hours to kill so we walked into the town of Blaye to see the fortifications there which is a UNESCO world heritage site.  This is another fort designed by the French designer Vauban, (the same guy our winery is named after).  It was designed in 1660 on the site of a medieval fort on the River Gironde.  The Gironde is the largest River estuary in Europe and it is about 3 miles wide here.  The purpose of the fort was to protect Bordeaux from ships coming up the Gironde.  It is an immense fort and was put to the test in 1814 when the British besieged it.  The fort withstood the siege and kept the British from getting down the Gironde.  It was decommissioned after WWII and turned over to the town.

Looking across the Gironde River towards the town of Paulliac.  Goats have taken over one of the outer parts of the fort.
An inland entrance to the fort with a bridge over the dry moat facing the town.

We took our winery tour and tasting with a couple from Wales.  After the tour we took a nice horse carriage ride into town to top off the night.  While we were relaxing there was a knock on the door of the RV and it was the guide from the horse carriage wanting to know if we wanted an aperitif for the night, of course we did.  The aperitif was poured from a used Evian water bottle.  After everyone from the campground got their glass he asked what it was, we had no idea, but felt better when none of the other guests knew either.  It turned out it was blackberry currant mixed with red wine.  It was delicious.  After that we returned to the RV to have our dinner, and call home.

This black swan was out looking for dinner outside the RV.

September 29, 2018 Rochefort FR

Today we reluctantly left Brittany and decided to take a big bite out of our trip to Spain. We covered over 350km today to the city of Rochefort.  The roads were generally good and for almost half of the way were limited access free ways with no tolls.

Rochefort is an interesting town.  It was founded in 1666 to support a naval yard that was placed here by one of the kings.  Unlike any French city we have ever visited it is actually laid out in a grid.  The town itself had a kind of mediterranean/California vibe.  Ton thought it was kind of boring, but Ron was comfortable in a town he could navigate without getting lost!

Even thought the roads were straight there was still a nice old gate in Rochefort.

We made another attempt at getting a French phone.  The guy at the Orange store (the biggest French mobile phone company), was really nice, but basically told us that there were no good solutions to our problem.  We could either get a standard French mobile plan and pay the monthly cost, or get a sim card that only works in France and nowhere else in Europe.  We are going to keep trying, there must be a way to make this work.

We went down to the old naval yard.  It was a major producer of vessels for the French Navy from 1660 to the 1920’s.  In addition to building French Ships of the Line (really big sailing battle ships) and Frigates like the USS Constitution, it also built France’s first submarine (scarily named the Plunger).  Unfortunately the location was not good for larger modern ships and it was abandoned.  

The French Frigate Hermione reconstructed.  

Today they have a replica of the French Frigate Hermione.  This ship is famous here for being the ship that took Lafayette to the US during the revolution.  It is really well done.

After that we took a look around the ropery which was a large factory used to make all of the ropes used in the French Navy.  By the end of the walk we headed to an aire for the night and relaxed.

The ropery building at the French Maritime Museum.