Historic Sites, Monuments and Architecture
There is a wealth of interesting things to do both locally and in the wider area of Aquitaine. Indeed, within a few minutes walk from the Relais de la Renaissance, there is the estate of Chateau Michel de Montaigne, where you will find a stunning castle which was rebuilt in the 19th century, after the original medieval building was destroyed in a fire. However, the original 14th century tower survived, and this was the sanctuary for the farsighted humanist, philosopher and writer Michel de Montaigne; it was here where he wrote his world famous ‘essais’.
In addition, there is a winery where you can taste a selection of their best wines, as well as beautiful park land to explore. More than 10,000 people come to visit the estate each year. Check out their website for details of when it is open, admittance, etc.
Also within the heart of the village itself, there is the Church of St. Michel de Montaigne, which is classed as a Historical Monument. If exploring ancient Gallo-Roman sites is your thing, then pay a visit to a neighbouring village to see what remains of the Villa Montcaret.
In fact, you could while away many happy hours and days visiting all of the different monuments and historic sites in this area, there is so much to see and do, including many from the middle ages, such as the subterranean monolithic church in St. Emilion. There are also the Bastide towns of Bergerac and Sarlat, and of course historic Bordeaux; all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Plus, the Dordogne region is the cradle of prehistoric life: the caves such as Lascaux are evidence of this.
If you prefer to stay more locally, during July and August the inhabitants of the market town of Castillon, a mere 8km away, re-enact the Bataille, which ended the hundred years war in 1453. You can even hear the thunder of the guns here at the Relais de la Renaissance.
Every year the towns, villages and hamlets of Aquitaine offer an outstanding cultural programme, including music, street theatre and a variety of markets. An event of note in the Gironde is Fest Arts in Libourne, another market town, approximately 18km away. Alternatively there is the well known Jazz Festival of Marcillac, about 2 hours away. Both have earned national and international popularity. You will certainly be spoiled for choice.
Also, if you are looking for a more active holiday, there is an abundance of outdoor activities to be had throughout the Dordogne and Perigord regions, whether that be swimming in the rivers ((Dordogne or Isle) and lakes (lac de Lacadie, or lac de Gurçon), open canoeing, mountain biking along the many trails (some of which go as far as the coast), horse or pony riding, hiking and much more.
If it’s beach life you are after, take a day trip to the south western coastline, which is only a 1.5 – 2 hours away, and visit the Bay of Arcachon or the seaside resorts of Lacanau-Ocean or Carcans Plage. Alternatively stop by the large Lake Hourtins-Carcans, which is 4km from the coast, to further enjoy messing about in and on the water.
‘Route des Vins’
With 140,000 hectares of vineyards and 61 AOCs, it will be no surprise to hear that Aquitaine is the biggest wine growing area for fine wines in the world. In and around Saint Michel de Montaigne, there are numerous wine growers who offer excellent wines, including organic varieties, which can often compete with the considerably more expensive wines of Saint Emilion. Even the smallest of vineyards will often sell their wines to you direct from the door, and most of the larger wineries offer tours and tasting sessions for every palate. With so many to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start, so click HERE to find out more.
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