In, Saint Emilion, get the family back out into the fresh air across the road at Chateau Soutard with a ‘Safari trek’ to discover the unique flora and fauna of the vineyards. Children will also love the boutique at the end of the visit, alongside the wine, there is a treasure trove of old fashioned toys and modern gadgets to appeal to all ages.
Nearby Chateau Villemaurine is right on the doorstep of the medieval village of Saint Emilion and they also use their stunning network of quarries to create a light show tour explaining the history of the village and the surrounding region. Don’t let the family leave Saint Emilion without taking the little train tour through the vineyards surrounding the town explaining the history, the vineyards and pointing out the highlights of this UNESCO heritage site.
If your family likes games Chateau Monconseil Gazin has a challenge that will appeal to every generation. Ten minutes from the UNESCO Citadel of Blaye, this unique site dating, back to 1894, brings history back to life with an escape game. Will you be able to break to codes to discover the 100 year old cellars and find the treasure left by Charlemagne? The whole family will enjoy rising to the challenge!
Energetic family members can explore by bike, at Château Marquis de Terme. On this bicycle tour through the vines you will discover their plots of vines spread out through the Margaux appellation, discovering the four different soils and the four varietals planted on them used in the famous Bordeaux Blend. You’ll have earned your tasting at the end.
At Chateau Saint-Ahon join the family friendly, self-guided walk through the “Jardins de Mirabel”. Mirabel is the donkey mascot of the property. The tour through the vines, woods and park of the château allows explorers to discover the vine flora and fauna with Mirabel guiding the youngsters through explanatory panels, quiz question and QRCodes to scan for the more tech friendly.
Those same tech friendly youngsters will also enjoy the self-guided tour at Chateau d’Agassac. On specially programmed I-pods, a series of questions leads guests through the history of this moated castle to liberate the princess imprisoned in one of the towers. While children are trying to free the Princess, adults can further their knowledge of the wines and history of the château with their own I pod programme with details of the wine and wine making.
Further North, Chateau Lanessan allows you discover the vineyard in a horse and carriage. Alongside the cellars the estate has spectacular horseshoe shaped stables and a horse and carriage. If you can time your visit on the 6th and 7th of April for the Medoc Open days, there will be special events for younger guests with clowns, magic balloons, play workshops, colouring, sculpting and treasure hunts.
Horse lovers in the family should also visit Château de Rouillac. Baron Haussmann built spectacular stables here in the 19th century and the current owners, the Cisneros family, share his passion. You can taste their wines in the renovated stables and discover the vineyards in a horse-drawn carriage. Like Chateau de Rouillac the beautiful 18th Chateau Léognan also has an equestrian background offering a horse drawn carriage tour, but if you have a more competitive streak, join their ‘Le Challenge Oenoludique’. Compete by answering questions about the history of the property to find the combination to the chest, once open it will reveal the secret behind the wine of the property. The champions win a wine tasting, but losers can console themselves with lunch in The Manège (riding school) the name of the restaurant opened in the old stables of the property.
If you prefer cars to horses, head to neighbouring Château Carbonnieux where, in the cellars of this historic property, there is a permanent exhibition of the family collection of ancient French cars.
With wine there should always be food and choosing family friendly eating is important – why not opt for a picnic? At Chateau de Cerons the owners, Caroline and Xavier Perromant, will prepare a picnic for you to enjoy in the grounds of their beautiful Chateau, a historical monument dating back to the 17th century. Dog lovers will enjoy the company of Laurel and Hardy, the tiny Fox Terrier and the big Bouvier.
An old fortress on the banks of the river Garonne, Chateau de Portets, is the perfect adventure playground for children. Owner, Marie-Hélène Yung-Théron, has created a scavenger hunt for children to discover the Château, its history, architecture and geography using their natural curiosity and a special scavenger map. As a reward for answering the riddles they will get to taste grape juice from the property and receive their scavenger diploma.
Just across the river on the outskirts of the walled town of Cadillac, La Maison du Vin de Cadillac welcomes children from 3 à 12 to play and learn on their ‘Jeux de raisin’ bilingual playground. A giant puzzle, a ‘grape’ cup and ball game, hopscotch, mystery boxes to awaken the senses and a climbing frame to reach the highest grape are next to the picnic area where tables have inlaid board games. Grown ups can buy local specialities to fill their picnic baskets to go with a glass of wine from a large selection of red, white rose and sweet wines from the region.
And while we’re on a sweet note, while the adults are wine tasting at Chateau Carbonneau, starving family members can tuck into Jacquie Franc de Ferière’s delicious home made cakes at the glass house tea rooms. Who can resist?
By Wendy Narby