Your itinerary from Bordeaux, to Cognac and La Rochelle

From Bordeaux to La Rochelle, get the inside view on Nouvelle Aquitaine with Trainline!

Day 1 and 2: Bordeaux

BORDEAUX, an elegant 18th century city on the Garonne, is classified by UNESCO and world famous for its wines with recognized appellations, like the Medoc, Saint-Emilion, Sauternes or Graves. Stroll along the quays of the Garonne River and discover the port's past. Admire the 18th century architecture and its elegant stone buildings, while enjoying the gastronomic and cultural wealth of the city. Besides its intrinsic beauty, Bordeaux is an ideal starting point for excursions to the nearby wine regions.

To Do:
1) La Cité du Vin (External link) : Sometimes defined as the "Lighthouse of Wine Tourism in Bordeaux" or the "Totem of Bordeaux," the City of Wine continues to entrance its visitors with its unusual architecture and fabulous collections. Discover all the riches and diversity of the world's wine in the museum ranked 7th best in the world by National Geographic. La Cité du Vin is a unique cultural facility dedicated to wine as a cultural, universal, and living heritage. The museum offers a spectacular journey around the world, through the ages, in all cultures.
Address: Esplanade of Pontac, 134 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux

2) Take in the architecture: Along the quays and streets of Bordeaux rise delicate cathedrals like Saint-André and its la Tour Pey-Berland, as well as sumptuous mansions like the Archiepiscopal and the Rohan Palaces. These wonders are dotted with even older structures, like the Cilhau Gate triumphal arch from the Renaissance and the medieval clockwork of the Grosse Cloche.

3) Le Miroir d'Eau: It is less than 10 years old, but it (almost) overshadows the monumental three century old building that it reflects. Located opposite the Place de la Bourse, between the Quai de la Douane and the Louis XVIII quay, this spectacular work by landscape architect Michel Corajoud alternates extraordinary effects of mirror and fog.

4) The Wine Route: From Bordeaux, there are six wine routes to explore the best of this grape-growing region. To the north-west, there is Medoc and its road of the castles, and to the south Sauternes and the Graves, cradle of the vineyards of Bordeaux. In the north-east you can find the region of Saint-Emilion and its medieval village, then, overlooking the estuary, Blaye and Bourg. And finally, to the east: the great region of Bordeaux-Entre-deux-Mers, the "Bordeaux Tuscany".


Day 3: Gare Saint Jean, Bordeaux to Cognac in 1:30

COGNAC, birthplace of François I, is as rich in history and heritage as it is in distillery. Come and discover the eponymous city of this famous drink, also called "liqueur of the gods." The medieval district of the city stretches from the Saint-Jacques towers, along the river, to the Saint-Léger church. The area contains many surprising buildings, built between the 15th and 18th century, located in narrow cobblestone streets. While the city owes cognac its universal reputation, the liquor, though delicious, is only one lense through which to view the city.

To do:

1) The Cognac Houses: each offers specific tours, tastings and experiential workshops.
Hennessy House (External link) : For over two centuries, Hennessy has never stopped writing the history of cognac. The House is today the undisputed leader in this market and one of the major players in the world of high-end spirits.
Maison Martell (External link) : Under the aegis of the Martell family since 1715, Martell, the oldest of the great cognac houses, uses its know-how to create cognacs that have been famous and appreciated for three centuries.

2)Discover the local gastronomy: Meet the local producers in their farm or workshop, discover the traditions and know-how that are passed down from generation to generation, and enjoy their products (honey, nuts, chocolate, foie gras, caviar, snails ...). The cuisine of Cognac will delight the whole family.

3)Tour the Tours Saint Jacques: The two curving towers, called Saint Jacques Towers or Porte des Ponts, are the most visible remains of what was the medieval fortified enclosure. Facing these towers, a medieval bridge, demolished in 1855, gave access to the other side of the Charente.

4) Cognac Castle (External link) : Destroyed in the 12th century and rebuilt in the 15th century, the Château des Valois earned its reputation as the home of a royal family—King Francis I was born there in 1494. Its most amazing features are the Helmet Room, the Tower of Count Jean, and the beautiful vaulted room known as the State Hall. The castle now belongs to Otard Cognac House.


Day 4: Cognac to Rochefort in 1:15

Rochefort, a "ville royale," located at the estuary of the Charente, is a city of art, history, and a love of the sea. The city hides many treasure, including the famed frigate linked with Lafayette, the Hermione.

To do:

1) The Hermione (External link) : This famous boat is linked to the legend of Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, who was on board during his travels to the States during the American Revolution. With dedication and artisinal savoir-faire, the frigate was reconstructed 20 years ago. In 2015, young novice sailors followed Lafayette's transatlantic route along the American East Coast under the command of Yann Cariou. The frigate has since returned to her home port and opens its holds to visitors.

2) The Arsenal (External link) : In the seventeenth century, Louis XIV dreamt of reigning supreme on land as well as on the sea—to do this, he needed a place to build and arm his warships. He chose Rochefort and the Charente, installing the royal arsenal. Nestled in the heart of a meander of the Charente river, the Maritime Arsenal of Rochefort, nicknamed the "Versailles of the Sea," is a place of incredible technical innovation in shipbuilding. Between its opening in 1666 and its final closure in 1927, nearly 550 warships were built there!


3) Stroll in Fouras: a seaside resort at the mouth of the Charente, located between Rochefort and La Rochelle, this peninsula has kept all of its 19th century charm. Sheltered by the islands Oléron, Madame, and Aix with a 360 degree panorama, all five beaches boast beautiful views.


Day 5: Rochefort to La Rochelle in 25 minutes.

LA ROCHELLE and its islands are a city of more than a thousand years old turned towards the future! Nestled in the heart of the Atlantic seafront, the city has transformed its maritime base into a great economic, touristic and cultural asset, while maintaining its unique beauty.

To do:

The Towers of the Old Port: From the Old Port, one can only admire the majestic towers, the guardians of the city. Facing the Atlantic, they've witnessed the power and wealth of La Rochelle through the centuries. These maritime fortifications, built in the Middle Ages and today classified as Historical Monuments, stand out when you visit La Rochelle. On each side of the harbor entrance, the Saint-Nicolas Tower, the highest, and the Tower of the Chain, the further, are connected to it by a wall. Finally, there's the Tower of the Lantern, formerly a lighthouse and prison.
Visit the Ile de Ré: The Bois-Plage-en-Ré located on the South coast of the island is one of the oldest seaside resorts in France. Open to the ocean, the town is proud of the quality of its beaches, awarded the Blue Flag 2015 (a mark of exemplary coastlines). The village is best visited through its winding alleys and streets, pleasantly lined with hollyhocks from May to September.

For more information:

La Cité du Vin (External link)
Trains to France with Trainline (External link)
Visit Bordeaux (External link)
Visit Cognac (External link)
Visit Rochefort (External link)
Visit La Rochelle (External link)
Visit Nouvelle Aquitaine (External link)

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