This summer, Juliet Shaw embarked upon an adventurous, no-fly holiday to Barcelona from the UK. Here, she shares the first part of her break – an opulent stopover at La Course hotel Bordeaux
Meticulous plans often go awry, and so it was that our planned tour of the coast of Normandy – en route to Barcelona via Bordeaux – didn’t happen for a variety of reasons.
But that’s the beauty of the modern road trip – thanks to mobile phones and booking apps, we were able to make an unscheduled stop in the tiny village of Argoules, in Picardie, instead.
Our sleepy eyes were fixed firmly on the prize – a luxurious guest house in the heart of Bordeaux
Having, rather foolishly, driven well into the night, we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere in pitch darkness; it was a huge stroke of luck to do a quick “find hotels in my area” search on my hotels.com app and discover the charming Le Gros Tilleul just a 10-minute drive away.
With a very early start, it was little more than a pitstop, but we’d love to return to make more of the pretty chalets, gardens and pool. Argoules is within easy reach of the UK and perfect for a shorter trip if a quiet break in rural France is what you seek.
With our sleepy eyes fixed firmly on the prize – a luxurious guest house in the heart of Bordeaux – we faced a marathon drive to reach our destination; but we were happy to take on the trek. We became familiar with the joy of life on the open road during our journey to Barcelona by car in 2015, and weren’t afraid to tackle the 10 hours or so (including stops) it would take us to reach Bordeaux.
And it was well worth the effort.
Our destination was La Course hotel Bordeaux, a converted three-story town house in the centre of the city. The hotel has been sympathetically renovated to retain the features of the grand family home it once was, with some very carefully considered additions to elevate it to luxury accommodation status.
Each en-suite room has been thoughtfully designed to illustrate the history of Bordeaux: La Palombe Bleue is a nod to the city’s historic train station, while Les Epices celebrates the trade routes that have exported Bordeaux’s famous wine for centuries.
La Pinada (the room we stayed in) recreates the pine forests of the region’s west countryside, with the Suite Familiale and Les Voiles both offering a nautical theme. The Lovebird suite, with its four-poster bed and huge standalone bath, is as its name suggests: the perfect nest for a romantic break.
The piece de resistance of La Course hotel Bordeaux is the Suite Terrasse Piscine. The rooftop suite boasts a private pool and terrace, with its glass roof allowing guests to sleep under the stars in opulent luxury.
All rates include breakfast, which is served in the open-air courtyard, or in the grand drawing room if the weather doesn’t allow for al-fresco dining. The cellar features a 24-hour fitness centre with steam room, and bikes are available for guests to use to explore the city free of charge.
This being Bordeaux, the hotel wouldn’t be complete without its own wine cellar. Tasting sessions are available on request, and there’s an extensive library of specialist books about the history of wine in Bordeaux and Medoc.
If you can tear yourself away from the hotel, La Course is situated in the heart of Bordeaux, at the edge of the historic district of Chartrons.
Just across the road is the entrance to the Jardin Public, one of 10 public parks in the centre of Bordeaux. The Rue Notre Dame, renowned for its many antique shops, is a five minute walk away, as is the Marché de Chartrons with a huge choice of fine-dining restaurants. Famous Bordeaux landmarks including the Esplanade des Quinconces the Grand Theatre and Place de la Bourse are all within easy walking distance.
After such a luxuriously relaxing and welcoming stay – manager Juliette Lafon and her team are wonderfully attentive and helpful – we found it difficult to say goodbye.
But with a cabin in Albanya in the Spanish Pyrenees awaiting, we took once more to the open road.
How to get to La Course hotel Bordeaux without flying:
Juliet travelled from the UK to France via Eurotunnel. From the Calais terminals, the French toll route takes around eight hours.
Alternatively, the drive from Bilbao in Spain, via overnight ferry from Portsmouth, takes three and a half hours.
Words: Juliet Shaw for Feet on the Ground
Images: La Course hotel Bordeaux