Guardian of the river, the Citadel was heavily fortified by the Counts of Angoulême in the tenth century. In the seventeenth century, Saint-Simon, a man of great wit and author of the memoirs of the same name, was able to convince King Louis XIV of Blaye’s strategic and military importance. The monarch commissioned large scale fortification works. Vauban, by a stroke of genius would later add a Fort on the island of Paté, backing it up with the Médoc Fort on the opposite side of the river, thus locking the access to Bordeaux.
The Verrou de Vauban. Listed Unesco world heritage, the Verrou is made of the Blaye Citadel, the Paté Fort and the Médoc Fort. The Citadel is open to visitors. Arts and crafts workshops, restaurants and a museum on the history of the site and the Gironde estuary can all be found inside the Citadel around the Place d’Armes. Guided visits of the Verrou de Vauban and the old underground passages.
Cruise on the estuary. In addition to the visits, one can take a boat trip on the Gironde to take in the full scope of the fortifications put in place by Vauban.
The Saint Romain Basilica. Partly destroyed, the crypt still holds the remains of Roland, his companion in arms Oliver and those of Bishop Turpin.
Taking the ferry. . Every day throughout the year, the ferry crosses the Gironde estuary from Blaye to the Médoc region, on the left bank. 30 minutes crossing time. Tel.: +33 5 57 42 04 49
Tourism office of the district of Blaye, allées Marines. Tel.: +33 5 57 42 12 09. www.tourisme-blaye.com
Château Marquis de Vauban. In the village of Blaye, route des Cônes, the Château Marquis de Vauban 26 hectare wine estate produces Côtes de Bordeaux Blaye wines. One to recommend, the Roy blend, Première Côtes de Blaye 2005 vintage, purple colour with intense notes of grilled hazelnuts and raspberries, with a splendid long aftertaste. During the summer, the château hosts horse-drawn tours of Blaye’s Citadel followed by tours of the wine store and tastings back at the estate. Initiations to wine tasting are also proposed on the themes of the art of the table and how to match wines and foods. By appointment. www.marquisdevauban.com
Maison du Vin de Blaye. The 800 wine growers of Blaye invite you to discover all the nuances of AOC Côtes de Blaye, to get to know its land and taste its wines. Initiations to tastings are offered to visitors during the summer months. 12 cours Vauban. Tel.: +33 5 57 42 91 19. www.aoc-blaye.com
Le P’tit Canon. Located in the Blaye Citadel, on the Place d’Armes, the P’tit Canon refers to that small glass of wine to drink with your friends and not to the piece of armament. A brasserie with great local dishes and wine by the glass. Simple and unpretentious, it is not a cannon ball! Tel.: +33 5 57 42 17 10
L’Avant Scène. An annex to the gastronomic table La Citadelle, l’Avant Scène remains in the great South West culinary tradition. The dishes are simply less rich and the prices are lower. The menu showcases a great range of fish, squid, burbot, lamprell à la bordelaise and garnished with heirloom vegetables. A range of traditional deserts includes rice pudding infused with Jasmin. Tel.: + 33 5 57 42 17 10.