France: Bordeaux

Northern Médoc

The wines of Saint Julien, Pauillac and Saint Estèphe
By Jane Anson

This Guide was last updated on 05 March 2010
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Main towns and villages


Really the only town of note in the northern Médoc, Pauillac has an air of a forgotten English seaside town, and its long string of shops and restaurants along the banks of the Garonne sound much better in theory than reality. However, in recent years much has been done to improve the centre, and there are finally a few good restaurants opening up. Just outside of Pauillac, the village of Bages, known as 'village des vins et des saveurs' is fast becoming a foodie destination with the Café Lavinal (see 'Places to Eat'), a bakery, foodie gift shop, play area, artisan workshops etc., not to mention the hotel Cordeillan Bages being just down the road.

Saint Vivien du Médoc

Good luck making it up here, but if you do, you'll be rewarded by the opportunity to buy the Médoc's freshest, plumpest prawns: delicate grey in colour, and absolutely worth the detour (head to the port to buy direct from the producers). No big name châteaux though – this is the Médoc Bleu, so-called because of its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. There are wonderful cycling and walking paths, a good market on Wednesday mornings and the odd lighthouse, but not much in the way of wine tasting.

Soulac sur Mer

Right on the tip of the Médoc peninsula, this seaside town has some interesting things to explore, including wide sandy beaches, bike tracks, Roman remains, the Courdouan lighthouse and some very attractive 19th century villas, Once a year in June there is a traditional steam train that runs between Bordeaux and Soulac, as part of a festival celebrating Soulac in the year 1900.

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