the historic town of Blaye is in the Gironde Department, Aquitaine. The region straddles a prominent position in southwest France. It stretches long and lean against the French Atlantic coastline, reaching up to the Pyrénées mountain range and transcending to the Spanish border. It is here, in Blaye, that intrepid travelers can scamper to the summit of storybook castles, cycle through vineyard-laced countryside, walk through ancient villages, and sip world-renowned wines. Tourist and travelers alike can discover the douceur de vivre in this tiny one-kilometer long settlement, once named Blaye-et-Sainte-Luce.
History of Blaye
Blaye is a petite but mighty hamlet, sitting at the southern tip of the Gironde estuary formed by the confluences of the nearby Dordogne and Garonne rivers. It’s an historical and powerful settlement from medieval times. The mighty Citadel of Blaye and its military fortifications sit majestically over the waters of Europe’s largest estuary.
Le Citadelle De Blaye along with Fort Médoc and Fort Paté, formed a military defense system during the 18th and 19th centuries. Their purpose was to protect the downstream port of Bordeaux from sea invasions and wars. It is a legendary example of engineering genius and Romanesque architecture designed, built by Vauban and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. It’s a picture postcard town, with scarred ramparts, that bears witness to battles and conflict through this gallant maritime route.
Nowadays, we find the citadel is a living monument. Inside the bastion a maze of cobblestone streets, stone houses, artisan shops, cafes and wine shops, still thrive. From atop the medieval walls of the photogenic Blaye Citadel there are stunning panoramic views of the estuary and across to the famed Médoc wine producing area. Photographers love this view in the golden hour light, where mirror images reflect off the estuary waters.
What to see and do in Blaye
It is free to enter the citadel and its ramparts. Within its walled city visitors pay for guided tours of Abbey Saint Romain or Musee d’Archéologie et Histoire de Blaye, through the Office of Tourism.
Walking the main street of Blaye, there is a feel of authentic characteristics, transcending through en plein air markets, held every Wednesday and Saturday, in front of the Citadel. The street is vibrant, rich and colorful with tented stalls, and locals and travelers buy local produce and seafood from the region. The soil in Blaye is rich and varied, and the region boasts 240 days of sunshine that results in prized asparagus, figs, and celebrated Côtes de Blaye red wines. A must visit is the Maison du Vin on the Cours Vauban to taste the famous wines from this enchanting region.
A visit to Blaye is a step-back in time where the locals are warm and welcoming, making your time in the Gironde, a captivating experience.
J.Christina is the blogger behind www.scribblesandsmiles.net. Blogging from the Midwest, J. Christina, and her husband, Mr. Christie, share their European trips so others can travel vicariously through their scribbles and images.