A QUICK TRAVEL GUIDE TO BORDEAUX IN FRANCE

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Living in London meant I was able to fly to other European countries within an hour or two - so good! Even more so when it is impossible to fly to another country within an hour or so from Australia. Thanks to a sale on EasyJet, a spur of the moment trip saw me take a weekender to Bordeaux and Paris in Autumn a little while back. I've been to Paris a few times however I was really keen to visit the vineyards in Bordeaux and sample some of the best wines in the world.

How to get there Bordeaux is a stunning port city approximately 500km southwest of Paris and is situated on the Garonne River. The 9th largest city in France, it is fondly nicknamed "La Belle Endormie" which translates to Sleeping Beauty in reference to the old centre of the city. If you are heading over to London from Australia and want to explore the best French vineyards, a flight with EasyJet to Bordeaux is approximately one hour. You can also take the TGV from London to Paris, and catch a connecting train down to Bordeaux.If you choose to fly, which I highly recommend, when you arrive at the airport try and agree on a fare with a taxi driver before you set off, if possible. When I went I didn't do this and I got caught in some serious traffic which took the fare well and above what was the normal rate. Unexpected expenses like this whilst travelling can be quite stressful when you're watching your Euros. When you drive into the city you'll notice it is built on a bend of the Garonne river, and is divided into two sections: the right bank to the east, and the left bank to the west. This allows you to maintain your bearings when wandering through the city.

What to do Bordeaux is the world's largest wine capital and is also home to the world's main wine fair, Vinexpo. With Bordeaux wine being produced in the region since the 8th century, it's essential to know that the wineries are divided by the Garonne river and offers the richest soil in which to grow succulent varieties of grapes. According to Wikipedia, Bordeaux has about 287,000 acres of vineyards, 57 appellations (a protected geographical area for grapes to be grown for wine), 10,000 wine-producing chateaux and 13,000 grape growers. Put it this way, you won't leave Bordeaux without several bottles or more of wine.

With an annual production of 960 million bottles, Bordeaux not only produces the largest quantities of everyday wine in the world, it also produces some of the most expensive wines in the world known as Premier Cru. The Bordeaux area produces five Premier Cru red wines - mouth watering goodness. I bought a bottle of Premier Cru Medoc and slowly enjoyed it on Christmas Day later that year. Both red and white wines are produced in Bordeaux so you are bound to find a blend to suit your tastes.

My biggest advice when visiting Bordeaux is to book a wine tour and let the local experts guide you around the various vineyards. You don't need to book one in advance, you just need to visit the Tourism Centre which is located in the middle of the city and book one for the following day. They will match you wine preferences with a tour and the time you have available, such as a half day or full day tour. Most tours range from €70 to €200, depending on the experience you want.

There is obviously a lot more to see and do in Bordeaux other than sample wine - the city is a vibrant hub of colourful locals, beautiful architecture, history and shopping. It also has a really good food scene which will keep you occupied for many hours. I loved wandering around the city in no general direction and was delighted when I found myself in the middle of a winter carnival complete with rides, a ferris wheel and fairy floss in every flavour you can imagine. A perfect destination for a weekender, Bordeaux was absolutely beautiful and my wine knowledge vastly improved after just a few short days.