The D2 (the ‘route des Châteaux’) is possibly the most famous road in the Bordeaux region,driving up the D2 is like driving through a wine list. Passing one grand example of architecture after another, the road sweeps through the famous appellations of Médoc, Margaux, Saint Julien, Pauillac and Saint Estèphe. And most of these have great roadside restaurants.
Travelling from south to north leaving Bordeaux:
Le Lion d’Or is as typical a local bistro as you can get. The ‘Patron’ is a fervent defender of local cuisine and a dedicated ‘chasseur,’ so game features plentifully on the menu in season. Throughout the rest of the year, local specialties include confit of duck, local asparagus and artichokes. Surprisingly, the wine list is petite. This is because the dining locals are winemakers with their own wine lockers that line the dining room. You can admire fabulous wines guarded by lock and key, which only the owners hold! To compensate, bring your own bottle but only if it is ‘rouge’. Should you want a glass of white or rosé, order it from the house list.
Heading north, continue to Saint Julien and stop at the eponymous restaurant. In the summer the terrace is delightful and in the evening the chef will stoke the grill with vine clippings to prepare the steaks and duck breasts. They also have the best dessert buffet in the region.
Just before arriving in Pauillac, take a break in Bages and on the left is the 2-star Michelin hotel and Restaurant Cordeillan Bages , plus a vineyard. The innovative chef Thierry Marx creates modern interpretations of local products and the experience is a mix of dining and entertainment. He is a staunch defender of the local culinary traditions and has been instrumental in preserving the local milk-fed lamb ‘l’agneau de Pauillac.’
For a more modern take, go back to Bordeaux on the only other main road in the Médoc, the D1. Still on the left bank but south of Bordeaux city in the Pessac Léognan appellation, pause amongst the classified growths in the village of Martillac at Le Pistou , a relaxed local bistro just opposite the church.
Carry on further south to the village of Sauternes where you can dine on the terrace of Le Saprien overlooking the vines and enjoy a menu carefully designed to match with the luscious sweet white wines of this appellation.
The view from the terrace of ‘Le Saprien’
over the vines of Château Guiraud
On the right bank over towards Saint Emilion, take the ND936 from Bordeaux towards Bergerac and turn left towards Saint Germain de Puch where you can have lunch or dinner at l’Atmosphère
, which offers everything from pizza to high-end local specialties such as artichoke and foie gras salad.
Once in Saint Emilion there is only one street to drive through. Half way up Rue Guadet, stop on the left at Chai Pascal for a light lunch with an interesting selection of wines by the glass.
Further up the same street on the right is Essentielle , owned by Jean-Luc Thunevin. This wine bar offers some of the most hard to find wines of the region by the glass accompanied by artisan cheeses and ‘charcuterie’.