Moira Allan, positive ageing advocate, explorer, writer and speaker supposedly moved to France for just two years. Several decades later she’s still there! Here she shares some of the delights of Southwest France, one of her favourite regions. Moira’s complete Southwest France travelogue is on our website www.freebirdclub.com
Cité du Vin
Bordeaux is a good place to start discovering the southwest. The river capital is France’s 9th largest city. Founded in 300 BCE by the Celts it sprawls along the banks of the majestic Garonne as it swoops through the city, and clearly manifests its merit in earning UNESCO World Heritage Site status for its centuries old Port of the Moon, the old Bordeaux, a hub for the wine industry since time immemorial.
Segway, cycle or stroll through the Esplanade des Quinconces, Europe’s largest square, and admire the neoclassical architecture. You will enjoy your selfguided tour of the Cité du Vin – it’s a flair of a building swirling up on the banks of the Garonne, a contemporary monument in glass
and aluminum inaugurated in 2016, in honour of the wines of the world. The eighth story belvedere offers an unparalleled 360-degree panoramic view of the city, the river and way beyond to the vineyards.
From Bordeaux, move onto Saint Emilion, also a UNESCO world heritage site, steeped in 2000 years’ history between man and the grape. The climb to the top of the main square will reward you with a magnificent panoramic view of the region stretching all the way to Castillon La Bataille, your next stop 13 km further east.
Being inducted into the Ordre des Vins de Castillon is a serious business
and requires a signed commitment to honor the traditional values.
This is a must, especially if you are there in the July/ August holiday period because if you are, you are in for a medieval treat. It was at Castillon-la-Bataille that the French defeated the British and ended the 100-year war and 300 years of English possession of Aquitaine.
I first discovered this town and its exciting historical pageant in 2003 when I was with friends who were house hunting. (Theirs is a fairytale. They found their dream house and are still living happily ever after in the Dordogne). Every year, more than 600 local citizens reenact the Battle of Castillon with an infectious joy and enthusiasm and keep their audiences enthralled as the spectacle unfolds over the 7 hectares surrounding the Castegens Castle within cannon range of the original battlefield. This intense 90-minute outdoor spectacle with amazing pyrotechnic effects plunges the audience into the middle ages with gusto.
Plan to arrive early and enjoy the medieval exhibitions and excellent local fare at the modestly priced restaurant. There are 18 performances over summer and it’s best to book in advance.
Loves: Cooking, walking, swimming, biking, relaxing in a deckchair in the garden.
Philosophy of life: If you can not do what you love, try to love what you do.
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LIMOGES, HAUTE VIENNE
Loves: Pilates, reading, knitting, sewing.
Philosophy of life: Enjoy and make the most of every moment.
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Planning a trip to France? To see our full list of hosts, visit our website www.thefreebirdclub.com
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