On Friday, our last full day in the Gers, we spent a lot of time driving to small villages, some of which we had planned to make it to before the week was out, and others which we decided to visit on the spur of the moment. The weather cooperated occasionally, but it did rain a lot, so sometimes we just drove through a town without stopping, and other times we stopped but really couldn't take any pictures. I also made one more stop at the bar/cafe in Mezin to use the Internet, and I guess I was now recognized as a regular, as the owner said my Floc was on the house. Among the highlights of the day were the chateau in the tiny village of Mansencome and the 12th century bastide town of Valence sur Baise.
|Chateau de Mansencome|
|Valence sur Baise|
We also returned to the beautiful bastide town of Vianne that I had written about in my prior post because we wanted to check out a faience pottery shop in the town. We wound up buying a couple of beautiful small dishes with distinctive colorful designs; the proprietor told us he made everything in the little workshop in back and hand painted all the pieces. Afterwards, on our way back to our gite, we stopped in the nearby tiny village of Villeneuve de Mezin, which had a lovely church with a few surrounding buildings, a door leading out through the old walls, and a dog guarding his baguette, which he proceeded to devour.
Saturday morning we left our gite to head to the Bordeaux region. I had just booked a chambre d'hote (bed and breakfast) over the Internet not far from Bordeaux for Saturday night (part of the reason for my frequent trips to the bar in Mezin), and then Sunday we were returning the car in Bordeaux and staying there overnight.
The first stop on the way to the Bordeaux region was the town of Duras, which had a chateau in the center.
We then drove to St. Emilion, which several people on the trip had said we shouldn't miss. I had been there briefly in 1979, but it was pouring and I saw very little (for awhile it looked like history was going to repeat itself, but the skies cleared for most of our visit). Since then the town has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site (in 1999), and it was magnificent, if a bit touristy. St. Emilion was founded over 1,000 years ago, and the buildings are amazingly well preserved. We spent an hour or so wandering around the town, which was filled with shops offering tastings of the famous St. Emilion wines as well as other Bordeaux wines. We skipped those, but did see most of the town.
|Cloister in St. Emilion|
|Rooftops of St. Emilion|
After leaving St. Emilion we continued on to our chambre d'hote in the town of Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, which was on the property of a Sainte-Croix-du-Mont wine producer, Chateau Lamarque. Sainte-Croix-du-Mont is one of the sweet white wine appellations along the banks of the Garonne River not far from Bordeaux, which includes Sauternes, Barsac, Cadillac, and Loupiac (over the next 2 days we would try almost all of them). All of those appellations are only for sweet white wines; any producers that make dry white or red wines have to use other Bordeaux appellations. Chateau Lamarque makes dry red wines besides its sweet Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, and those wines are simply AOC Bordeaux.
After checking in to our chambre d'hote, we drove to the nearby village of Loupiac for a quick stroll, then drove to Cadillac, a much larger town that still has most of its old walls, and spent several hours there. We saw the chateau of Cadillac and had a glass of sweet Cadillac wine, but didn't see any Cadillac cars. We had dinner in the town, which included a glass of Cadillac wine as an aperitif.
|Gate of Cadillac|
|Chateau de Cadillac|