The one place to visit in France this weekend: Blaye

For this week's one place to visit in France this weekend, Stephanie Irwin explains why Blaye in the Gironde is the perfect place for history buffs and wine lovers alike. Email us to share your own recommendations with readers.

The one place to visit in France this weekend: Blaye
Photo: Ville de Blaye website
Where is it?
Located on the right bank of the Gironde estuary in the south western Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, Blaye has a small population of around 5,000 residents.
Google maps
How to get there
It is close to the A10 motorway and easy to reach by car from Bordeaux, the Dordogne and the Charente.
There are car ferry and pedestrian ferries that run between the left and right side of the estuary and schedules can be found online by visiting the TransGironde website.
You can also get there by bus however there is no train station. 
Photo: AFP
Why go?
An easily overlooked but magnificent spot to visit, Blaye boasts one of the most impressive and well preserved citadels in France.
Granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008, the citadel is the ideal stop for families and history buffs, like me.
Designed by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, it is reminiscent of the locations seen in Game of Thrones and while there you can visit the quaint local artisans permitted to sell on the site, walk the grounds and enjoy the gorgeous views of the estuary, dramatic turrets and fifty foot walls. 
There is also a very unique hotel bar located on the citadel site itself, with a swimming pool, comfortable rooms and great views which made the perfect pit stop for a beer or coffee when I was exploring the site. 
After visiting the site, stop at one of the many road side cafes of the small town a short walk from the citadel and enjoy a light lunch or early fish supper.
Photo: Michael Clark Stuff/Wikicommons
But there is more to Blaye than its citadel.  
While most people start there, there is also a 12th century medieval castle, Château des Rudel to visit and for wine lovers, the region around Blaye is known the red wine made in the neighbouring vineyards, Côtes de Blaye.
If you want to taste these wines, you can go to the Maison du Vin on the Cours Vauban or to the Cellier des Vignerons in the citadel. 
And for food lovers, there is a market in the town every Wednesday and Saturday with local produce on sale, including the asparagus of Blayais, which can be bought from March to May.
When to go
Each spring, Blaye holds its Printemps des Vins wine tasting and sale inside the citadel, making it the perfect time to make the most of this pretty town… and that's also when you can get your hands on the famous asparagus.
If you think there is a place we should include in our “One place to visit in France this weekend” series email [email protected] following the same Q&A format as above.

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Photo: Roman Boed/Flickr

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