With the coming of spring, so is the desire to get out of the house and explore slowly coming back. I must admit, as much as I love winter, (yes, I am one of those people) I am happy that the sun is making an appearance. Everything is in bloom – the blues of the sky and the greens of nature are in perfect symbiosis once more. Inspired by that artful image I wanted to branch out of the city of Bordeaux and visit the lands surrounding it. Somewhere, where nature is more pronounced and centre stage. Therefore, for my first outing of this season, I and a couple of friends decided to go explore the beautiful city of Blaye.
Some basic information about Blaye
A strategic ‘landing’ spot for travellers, it was an entry point for people coming from the North looking for access to Bordeaux or countries to the South. It is situated on the right bank of the Gironde estuary and is considered to be a subprefecture in the region of Nouvelle- Aquitaine. The journey from Bordeaux to Blaye is about 35 min to an hour. Depending on the direction you are coming from you might use the A10 highway or more locally – D137.
Grab a bite in Blaye
During the weekend, there is a huge market right in front of the famous Citadelle de Blaye, as is the custom in most French towns. We arrived at lunchtime and unfortunately missed most of it, but fortunately, we quickly recovered by visiting a sweet, little bar called Cave De L’estuaire. It was a lovely turn of events as we were able to enjoy some delicious fresh shrimp under the sun with the stunning view of the Citadel front and centre. The staff was also very warm and really fun to converse with, so if you are on the lookout for some snacks and good wine give this place a go.
Cave De L’estuaire, Blaye
History of Blaye
The city undoubtedly possesses the unique and well-known charm of most of the little, French villages. It is easy to imagine why people here are always smiling when you see the sun and the calm waters, drawing the outline of the city. There is also an abundance of vineyards all around the town you should definitely visit. But the pièce de résistance is for sure – the Citadel of Blaye or Citadelle de Blaye. In 2008 the Citadel, Fort Paté, and Fort Médoc became a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
View from the Citadel of Blaye
The Citadel was built by François Ferry under the supervision of Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, who was a famous French military engineer. Inside the Citadel the ruins of an old castle lay – Château des Rudel and well as those of a Basilica of Saint-Romain. Inside the Basilica are buried the remains of Charibert II, king of Aquitaine. The first constructions that took place in the area were actually due to the desire of the ‘Sun King’ to literally fortify his dominance over the Gironde and also Bordeaux. The Citadel was an important point once more during the First Empire when the invasion of English ships was not a rare sight.
La Porte Dauphine
I must admit when I first saw the main entrance – La Porte Dauphine I couldn’t stop myself from imagining walking inside a time machine and travelling back in time. This is one of the best-preserved structures of this size I have seen and the history is almost branded and visible on every rock.
Do not miss on…
The heart of it is almost like a city of its own. There are a couple of beautiful vintage-inspired shops on the premises of the citadel where lovers of old-time pieces could find some real treasure. A charming coffee and ice cream shop is also there in case you need a quick pick-me-up. Or if you are in the mood for a longer stay or a meal, there is an actual hotel and restaurant there, overlooking the waters that linger near the Citadel. The calmness and tranquillity of the spot are breathtaking, mixed with the sight of the horizon beyond the walls. There are so many green spaces that are ideal place to visit with children and enjoy a picnic. You have to for sure take your time to explore the city of Blaye.
Atelier inside of the Citadel of Blaye
So, if you are looking into learning more about the area around Bordeaux, you love history and architecture, good wine and tasty, fresh seafood I would suggest a weekend to explore the beautiful city of Blaye – you won’t regret it.
For more information: Offices de Tourisme