The strikingly modern hotel was built in a medieval vineyard overlooking the city of Bordeaux. Owner and chef Jean-Marie Amat is a true artist: The St. James features constantly changing art exhibits, avant-guard rooms (one has a real Harley-Davidson motorcycle in it) and innovative cuisine that earned Jean-Marie a Michelin star. He shares an easy Mediterranean recipe with us.
Originally a wine-growing chateau in the village of Pauillac, the elegant inn now caters to guests exploring the nearby great vineyards. The Bordeaux Wine School is based here, and we attend a class to learn some expert tasting techniques. Owner Sylvie Cazes takes us to her family's nearby winery, Chateau Lynch-Bages, for a closer look at wine-making, and later to a concert at the Grand Theatre in Bordeaux.
CHATEAU DU FOULON
The 19th century manor is the family home of the hospitable Vicomte and Vicomtesse Jean and Danielle Baritault. The couple enjoy sharing its splendid natural setting, complete with peacocks, swans and a 100-acre forest. The Vicomte and his wife take us to see one of the nearby wilderness reserves and the magnificent white sand coastline, an increasingly popular alternative to the crowded Riveria.
The City of Bordeaux
When France was the most powerful nation in Europe, Bordeaux was its great port. The city transformed itself into a magnificent 18th century jewel. We tour the historical center, and visit the Grand Theatre, a world class example of neo-classical architecture.
Bordeaux red wines are considered the world's best, and many come from its Medoc region. Jean-Marie Cazes, the "Baron of Bordeaux", has revolutionized the wine business, building up a small empire of 12 great estates by using advanced scientific methods to perfect the wine-making art. He shows us a few of his secrets, and explains why great Bordeaux wines often reach their peak after 50 years in a bottle.
Huge sections of Bordeaux were uninhabitable until the 1700's, when a engineer named Bermontier persuaded the government to fight the swamps and sand by planting trees. The 100 year project was enormously successful, and the man-made forest is now the largest in Europe. We visit a newly reforested area , and learn that Bordeaux earns more money selling wood products each year than it does selling wine.
Most French oysters are grown in the Archachon Bay, although oyster farmers produce so many they've run out of room to raise them and three-quarters of their young are sold to other regions. We go out with an oyster farmer and experience a delicious new kind of tourism-tasting oysters just as they're pulled from the icy waters.