If you want to discover the Medoc area, one of France’s most famous wine routes, this is an excellent time for a visit.  On April 6-7, the region celebrates the beginning of spring with an open doors weekend, hosted by the Maison du Tourisme et du Vin de Pauillac. It’s an incredible event that allows you to visit most of the chateaux of the Médoc region and taste a lot of wine. 

Chateaux Livran

Le Week-end Portes Ouvertes (open doors weekend) in Médoc is an annual event that officially starts the tourist season in the wine region of southwest France. The first time that vineyards have collectively decided to open their doors to the public was in 1991 and it was an immediate success. The Week-end Portes Ouvertes has seen tens of thousands of visitors and the open house tradition was copied to other chateaux in France. This tradition has grown so much that it became a challenge to pick the best chateaux to visit during this weekend.

More than 70 châteaux from eight different AOC (appellation d’origine contrôléewill participate in the Portes Ouvertes weekend:  MEDOC, HAUT MEDOC, PAUILLAC, SAINT ESTEPHE,  SAINT JULIEN, LISTRAC, MOULIS and MARGAUX. The AOC is the French certification for geographical indications of agricultural products such as wine and cheeses. Click here to see which châteaux are participating in the event.

Although visiting the cellars and wine tastings are still at the heart of the event, today the various chateaux try to attract visitors with additional activities such as music, wine workshops, food, art expos and games for kids. If you don’t have a specific chateau in mind you can choose one according to the proposed activities. I gathered a list of activities to help you choose one:

Fine dining

Wines are not the only product the Médoc region does well, it is also famous for its gastronomic specialties, such as: l’agneau de Pauillac (Pauillac lamb), l’entrecôte cuite aux sarments (entrecote cooked with wine shoots), les chocolats de Mademoiselle de Margaux and more. In addition to in-house restaurants, some of the chateaux offer gourmet markets, food trucks and bars. So, besides tasting great wine you are guaranteed to have a great culinary experience.

These are the châteaux offering a lunch or a dinner during the portes ouvertes: Saint-Hilaire – Saint-Christoly – Pierre de Montignac-  Chantelys – Tour des Termes -St-Estèphe – Le Crock- Julia – Hourtin Ducasse – Lanessan- La tour Carnet -Reverdi – Baudan – Chasse Spleen – Haut-Breton Larigaudière – Desmirail – Kirwan -Siran – Larrieu-Terrefort – Les Barraillots –  Maucamps – Paloumey – Agassac – Ségur – Saint Ahon – Taillan

Choose one of these châteaux from the menu in this link to see the ones offering dining options.

Art in the Châteaux

Some of the châteaux will host exhibitions of paintings, sculptures and photographs of both local and international artists.

In Châteaux Saint Hilaire, for example, two Medoc artists will present their aquarelle paintings and photographs. Châteaux Chasse Spleen will open its art center that includes modern and contemporary art works. And in Châteaux Castera, one of the most ancient chateaux in the region, you could see the permanent sculpture exposition “Les bouteilles de vincent libecq”. 

castera chateaux
photo by: castera chateaux

These are the chateâux displaying art during the portes ouvertes: Saint-Hilaire – La Tour de By – Saint-Christoly – Chantelys – Castera – Tour des Termes – Tour Sieujean – Larose Trinaudon – Lanessan – de Lauga – Arnauld- Chasse Spleen – Brillette – La tour de Bessan – Prieure Lichine – Siran – Les Barraillots – Bellevue de Tayac – Cantemerle – Paloumey – Ségur – Saint Ahon

Choose one of these châteaux from the menu in this link to see the exhibitions displayed in every château.

Visiting with kids

Many people take the chance to make the châteaux visit a family trip, and rightly so as kids can also appreciate the charming châteaux and their gardens.  Nonetheless, having to look after your little kids while wine tasting can definitely undermine the experience. That is why some of the châteaux propose activities to entertain your kids while you are tasting wine.

Château Saint- Esthepe offers a coloring corner for kids. In château Julia you will find a trampoline and swings. Château Hourtin-Ducasse will entertain your kids with activities like coloring, ping pong and comics. And château Lamothe Bergeron will hold a creative workshop and grape juice tasting. 

These are the châteaux offering activities for kids : Saint-Hilaire – Saint-Christoly – Livran – St Estephe – Le Crock – Julia- Hourtin-Ducasse – Larose Trintaudon – Camensac- Lanessan – Lamothe Bergeron – Fonréaud – Brillete- Bellevue de Tayac – Haut-Breton Larigaudière – Marquis de Terme – Prieuré Lichine -Prieuré Lichine – Siran- Les Barraillots – Paloumey – Agassac – Ségur – Saint Ahon – du Taillan

Choose one of these châteaux from the menu in this link to see the activities they propose.

Getting to know the wine world

Wine is a multi-faceted experience and many of the châteaux would like you to experience more than just wine tasting. Some organize workshops and activities revolving around the production of wine. 

These are all the châteaux offering workshops and wine-related activities: Carmenère – Saint-Hilaire  – Les Ormes Sorbet – Chantelys – Loudenne – Tronquoy Lalande – Clerc Milon – Pédesclaux- Hourtin-Ducasse – Camensac – Lamothe Bergeron – Arnauld – Anthonic – Haut-Breton Larigaudière – La Tour de Bessan – Siran- Belle Vue – Paloumey – Ségur

Choose one of these châteaux from the menu in this link to see the activities they propose.

Most of the châteaux require a prior reservation for the wine tastings and cellar tours, so if you found a château you would like to discover this weekend, hurry up and make a reservation by email or phone. All of the details, including the address, the activities proposed, the hours and contact details appear on the individual web page of each of the participating châteaux. For more info, simply go to the site of the event and choose a château by name to see its corresponding details.

If you’re coming to Bordeaux especially for this occasion, be sure to check up my list of recommended hotels in Bordeaux center.
If you want to get updates about the portes ouvertes, join my email list here and I’ll send up-to-date info closer to the event.

Enjoy your glass of wine and the official beginning of Spring in the region!

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