Going local – exploring closer to home

As it was our last full day in the villa we decided to make sure we had seen all the local sights, so after breakfast we headed off with Dave at the wheel. While we were in Bordeaux, he had done a little bit of solo exploring near to home as his dicky knee was not up to much walking. He was keen to show us a few places he had seen, and also we were checking out the local eateries, deciding we needed to splash out for lunch and dinner on our last day.

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A chateau in the distance at the river’s edge
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So many fields have rustic old buildings
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Grand houses pop up everywhere

Just one observation before I move on regarding dining out – the only disappointing aspect of the trip has been the difficulty we have experienced in finding good places to eat. To be honest, Castillon is totally bereft of good places to dine. If you are looking for a reasonable meal, you need to go to one of the nearby villages or bigger towns. The major problem is that many do not keep to their advertised hours. Booking seems to be essential and good luck with that if you can’t speak French. Fortunately we managed to make our phone reservations, and we did have some tasty meals – but nothing out of the ordinary.  Of course we weren’t dining at Michelin star restaurants, and you can’t rival the ambience in French brasseries, bistros and cafes, but not one of our meals was outstanding. The wines however were pretty good …

Back to  our exploring – as we drove on,  Kim spied a roadside sign leading to one of the restaurants recommended to us – Le Melchior. It is attached to very pretty small hotel and has an outdoor terrace which we could see through the closed gate – it was due to open for lunch so we decided to return after our reconnoitre.

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Le Melchior outdorr terrace

We passed pleasant rural scenes as we headed to Rauzan to see the castle ruins there, and drove through a pretty town on the river, St Jean-de-Blaignac. Chateau spotting is great fun in this area and we spotted one overlooking the water.

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There is a chateau hiding up there
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Bridge leading to St Jean-de-Blaignac
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Woohoo flowers!

We arrived in Rauzan ready for a coffee before we explored the ruins, yet not one cafe in Rauzan was open – and as it was a Monday, the Castle ruins were closed! – Foiled again and another lesson learned – always check the opening hours of historic sites! Since no coffee was on offer, we wandered around the ruins and the town before heading off again.

On his solo travels, Dave had found a wonderful old C12th church on the hill in St Pey de Castets and we were keen to see it. 

Having seen most of the local highlights on our final sortie we returned to Le Melchior – and what do you know? It was open. We had a really pleasant meal on the terrace in the sun – a great find!

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After lunch there was packing to do – not too hard in the scheme of things and when the sun showed its face again, we had to have a last long laze by the pool. We so enjoyed our our stay in La Villa Franc-Daut. It is such an elegant gite and the location is superb since it is so easy to reach the surrounding villages and Maisons du Vin.

We enjoyed Saint Emilion so much that we chose to have our last dinner there – in quite a funky restaurant/bar/wine cellar called O Trois Fontaines. The menu was limited but interesting – the baked camenbert was delish!

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Vineyard as we enter Saint-Emilion

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Let’s eat here
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Love the table
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So who drinks beer in a wine cellar?
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Baked camembert
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Au revoir Saint-Emilion

Next post  – Return to Paris…

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