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If you are living in France or just passing by and you wish to discover one of its most important regions, now is an excellent time to be heading to Médoc, one of the most famous wine growing regions in the world, located in the Gironde department, north of Bordeaux.  To celebrate the beginning of the spring the Maison du Tourisme et du Vin de Pauillac will hold an open doors weekend on April 7-8, where you will be able to visit all the chateaux of the Médoc region and do a lot of wine tasting.

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 South west 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. Starting its third edition, the  Week-end Portes Ouvertes has seen tens of thousands of visitors and the tradition of the open house was copied to other chateaux in France. This tradition has grown so much that it became a challenge to pickthe best chateaux to visit during that weekend.

Sixty three châteaux (Château Clarke will eventually not be participating in the open house weekend) from eight different AOC (appellation d’origine contrôléewill participate in the Portes Ouvertes weekend:  MEDOC, HAUT MEDOC NORD, PAUILLAC, SAINT ESTEPHE,  SAINT JULIEN, LISTRAC, MOULIS, MARGAUX. The AOC is the French certification for geographical indications for agricultural products such as wine and cheeses. To see what châteaux are participating in the event, see the full list and the map below.

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 attractions such as the restaurant of the chateau, music, games, art expos and activities for kids. If you don’t have a specific chateaux in mind you can choose one according to the proposed activities . What follows is a listing of chateaux according to their proposed activities:

Fine dining

Wines are not the only product the Médoc region does well, it is also famous for some of its gastronomic specialties, such as: l’agneau de Pauillac (Pauillac lamb), l’entrecôte cuite aux sarments (entrecote cooked with vine 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.

See the plan of the participating ChâteauxSaint-Hilaire – Saint-Christoly – Chantelys – Castera – Tour des Termes –Tronquoy Lalande – St-Estèphe – Le Crock – La Rose Pauillac – Julia – Hourtin Ducasse – Cassana – La Tour Carnet – Lanessan – Lauga –Lamothe Bergeron – Malescasse – Reverdi – Baudan – Vignerons associés Grand Listrac – Fonréaud – Chasse Spleen – Meyre – Bellevue de Tayac  – Haut-Breton Larigaudière – Ferrière – Lascombes – Marquis de Terme –  Prieuré Lichine – Desmirail – Dauzac – Larrieu-Terrefort – Belle-Vue – Clos la Bohème –  Maucamps – Paloumey – Agassac – Ségur – Saint Ahon – Taillan

chateaux desmiral

Art in the Chateaux

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

in Châteaux Saint Hilaire, for example, two Medoc artists will present their aquarelle paintings  and photographs. Châteaux Lanessan will give visitors the opportunity to see the family’s carriage collection, dated to the 19th century. And in Châteaux Castera, one of the most ancient chateaux of the region, you could see the permanent sculpture exposition “Les bouteilles de vincent libecq”. Follow the list of the participating chateaux to see the kind of art  on display.

castera chateaux
photo by: castera chateaux

See the plan of the participating ChâteauxSaint-Hilaire – La Tour de By – Saint-Christoly – Chantelys – Castera – Tour des Termes – Tour Sieujean – Lanessan – Moulin Rouge – Granins Grand Poujeaux – Chasse Spleen – Bellevue de Tayac – Clos La Bohème – Cantemerle – Paloumey – Ségur – Saint Ahon – Magnol

Visiting with kids

Many people take the chance to  make the chateaux visit a family trip, and rightly so as kids can appreciate the charming chateaux 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 chateaux propose activities to entertain your kids while you are tasting wine.

For example: Château Lamothe Bergeron will hold creative workshops as well as grape juice tasting for kids,  Château Hourtin-Ducasse will entertain your kids with activities like coloring, ping pong and comics; and Château Ségur  will hold an egg hunt and a mask coloring workshop.

See the plan of the participating ChâteauxSaint-Hilaire – Saint-Christoly – Livran – Lilian-Ladouys – Julia– Hourtin-Ducasse – Lanessan – Lamothe Bergeron – Fonréaud – Haut-Breton Larigaudière – Marquis de Terme – Prieuré Lichine – Clos La Bohème – Paloumey – Agassac – Ségur – Saint Ahon – du Taillan – Magnol

 

Getting to know the wine world

The world of wine is a huge body  of knowledge and many of the châteaux would like to see you experience more than just wine tasting. Some of them organize workshops and activities revolving around the production of wine. Those can come in the form of a demonstration of the different tractors they use (Château Maucamps), discovering your sensors in blind wine tasting (Château Ségur), a vines workshop (Château Chantelys) and more.

See the plan of the participating ChâteauxChantelys – Lilian-Ladouys – Hourtin-Ducasse – Lamothe Bergeron – Haut-Breton Larigaudière – Prieuré Lichine – La Tour de Bessan – Dauzac – Maucamps – Paloumey – Ségur – Saint Ahon

A Map of all the Châteaux participation in the Portes ouvertes weekend:

 

Most of the Chateaux require prior reservation to the wine tasting and cellar tours, so if you found a chateaux you would like to discover this weekend, hurry up and make a reservation by email or phone. All the details, including the address, the activities proposed, the hours and the contact details appear in the link of the participating chateaux above. For more info, go to the site of the event.

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

UPDATE: If you want to know what’s happening in Bordeaux in April 2019 – click here.

Don’t let the rain get you down, spring is almost here and the Bordeaux area will soon start flourishing with interesting things to do.  Now all we need is the sun to come out so we can get our spring party started. Meanwhile, take a look at all the great events Bordeaux has to offer this month.

This is my list of things to do in April 2018 in Bordeaux and the surroundings. I didn’t want this list to be too long so I focused on the big events, however I do plan to publish updates so stay tuned.

Treasure Hunt on Pâques Weekend

The first weekend of April is the long weekend of Easter in France and the area of Bordeaux offers a great deal of activities to entertain you and your kids. Egg hunting, visits in beautiful chateaux and chocolate workshops are only some of the activities you could do this weekend. To discover all Pâques events in and around Bordeaux read my article about “What to do in Bordeaux  in Easter 2018“.

Huge chocolate egg, easter in Bordeaux
photo by: Ramon Szmuk

Festival Musical Écran

Festival Musical Écran is a very unique film festival all dedicated to documentaries about music. This year the program of the festival includes 20 films from four different countries. The festival will be held April 1-8 in different places in Bordeaux: Cinéma Utopia, Cour Malby, Bibliothéque Mériadeck, Institut Cervantes, Université de Bordeaux Campus Victoire.

Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution
Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution
When: April 1-8
Where: see locations.
How much: 39 € for the whole festival

Bicycle spring sale

Are you looking to buy or sell a bicycle, the big spring bicycle sale is just around the corner. Bordeaux bicycle stock exchange will take place  April 1 at Quai Louis XVIII. Those who wish to sell their bike can do it between 9:30 and 11am and the buyers will be able to start buying after 10am.
For more details.

bourse velo Bordeaux

When: April 1 (9:30 to 17:30)
Where: Quai Louis XVIII

Esclave du livre (literature festival)

Esclave du livre  is a literature association whose goal is to promote reading and to support the creation of new literature. April 6-8 they will hold a literature festival that will bring together authors and illustrators for debates, public readings, performances and uncovering of pieces that haven’t been published yet.

When: April 6-8
Where:  Place Renaudel – Quartier Ste Croix

Convention Tattoo Bordeaux 

The international tattoo convention of Bordeaux will take place on the weekend of April 14-15 in Hangar 14, which is located at Quai des Chartrons.  The program includes: tattoo contest, expositions, live concerts and different activities such as jungling and brakedancing.

a girl with tattoos
Photo by Timothy Paul Smith on Unsplash
When: April 14-15
Where: hangar 14, 115 Quai des Chartrons, 33000 Bordeaux
How much: 15 € /day

Brocante des Quinconces

The big brocante of Bordeaux is hosted twice a year at place des Quinconces with 200 antique dealers, horticulturists, restaurants and craftsmen. This spring is the 100th edition of the brocante and it will take place from April 20 to May 8.

brocante des quinconces
photo by: Ira Szmuk
When: April 20 – May 8
Where: Place des Quinconces

Art

Digital Abysses at Base Sous-Marine 

If you still didn’t have a chance to visit the incredible Base sous- Marine, it’s time to do it. The first exhibition, Digital Abysses, ( 9 March to 20 May 2018 ) is by the digital artist Miguel Chevalier, which explores nature through underwater plants and wildlife. The characteristics of this unique place with the combination of fixed works and interactive digital installations makes it a special experience.

base sous marine
photo by: Ira Szmuk
Address:  Boulevard Alfred Daney, 33300 Bordeaux

Street Color at Institut Bernard Margez

An extensive street are exhibition will be presented from April 5 to June 24 at the Institut Bernard Magrez. The expo will include some well known street artists (mostly French ones), such as MAD C (GER), Seth (FRA), d’Alexöne (FRA) and more. This institute is a historic monument dated to the 18th century, so the combination of an ancient chateau with street art will most certainly add to the atmosphere of the exposition.

For more info and tickets.

seth-street-art merapi indonesia
Seth street art-Merapi Indonesia
Address:  16 rue de Tivoli, Bordeaux

Luminopolis at Cap Sciences

The Luminopolis  exposition of Cap Sciences has been running from June 2017 and if you haven’t had the chance to go there yet, it’s time to do it now before the museum gets crowded with a lot of tourists. Luminopolis is a light exposition that have been structured as an Escape game where you need to answer questions about light in order to get out.
The expositions runs from June 2017 to September 2017 ,the ticket price is 8 euros and the minimum age is 6.

For more info.

Address: Cap Sciences Hangar 20, Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux

Concerts:

Lisa Stansfield

The famous British 90s start, Lisa Stansfield will perform at Theatre Femina on April 28 at 20:00.

For more info and tickets

When: April 28/ Where: 10 Rue de Grassi, 33000 Bordeaux

Virginia Rodrigues in Cenon

Virginia Rodrigues, the Brazilian singer with the amazing voice will give one concert at Le Rocher de Palmer in Cenon in April 6.


When: April 6 / Where: 1 Rue Aristide Briand, 33152 Cenon

Imagine Dragons

The american rock band, Imagine Dragons, will stop by the Bordeaux Métropole Arena  on April 4 as part of their world tour. 

For more info and  tickets

Address: 48-50 Avenue Jean Alfonséa, 33270 Floirac

Portes Ouvertes

Open doors in Médoc 

To celebrate the beginning of the spring the Maison du Tourisme et du Vin de Pauillac will hold an open doors weekend where you’ll be able to visit all chateaux of the Medoc region and do a lot of wine tasting. The event will take place April 7-8.

For details about all the participating chateaux.

When: April 7-8
Where:  different locations (see the site)

Open doors in Saint-Emilion

An open door weekend will take place on April 29 to May 1 at Saint Emilion where 84 chateaux will hold open door events and will propose different activities to the visitors. Some châteaux (such as Château Fleur Cardinale) will start the open door weekend April 28.

On the event website you can see the participating châteaux , the activities and the wine tasting proposed for that weekend – see more info.

When: April 28 – May 1
Where: 7 Thibaud, 33330 Saint-Étienne-de-Lisse

Meetings

If you’re craving for some activity with other English speakers, like going to Utopia cinema or just having a coffee together , check out the monthly planning of the ICB (International Club of Bordeaux)- see agenda.

Do you have any interesting events you know about? Please share with us in the comments below.