The château belongs to Bernard Magrez, the visionary wine magnate who is one of the driving forces behind Bordeaux's budding, high-end wine tourism. He owns three other wine estates in Bordeaux, as well as the Institut Culturel in Bordeaux city, which hosts art exhibitions, artists in residence and other special events, many of them focused around wine. Thanks to this network, Magrez is able to offer his guests a variety of itineraries throughout wine country and in Bordeaux.
At Pape Clement, guests can play château for one or several nights. Rooms bear names like La Serenité, Mon Seul Rêve and La Tranquillité, and all look like Marie Antoinette might have just stepped out, with polished antiques, paintings and sculptures, stuffed fauteuils, upholstered armchairs and lots of velvet and satin wall coverings and curtains framing the comfortable king beds. Most sumptuous is Clos de Songes, a corner room with beautiful views, a white marble fireplace and soaring ceilings. Bathrooms are large and contemporary, equipped with soaking tubs and L'Occitane amenities.
A personal chef is on call for preparing meals, which can be served in the formal wood-paneled dining room that recalls episodes of Downton Abbey, or in the light-filled orangerie that overlooks the vineyards. Because as beautiful as the chateau setting is, Pape Clement is also a working winery that produces some acclaimed Grand Cru vintages. Guests can tour the operation, including a cellar with stained glass detailing—here, wine is the religion. Another fun option is to take a wine-blending workshop hosted by B-Winemaker, where guests sample their way to their perfect blend of Merlot and Cab, creating a personalized bottle to take away.
Magrez's vision is entirely shaped around sharing the passion for his wine region with guests, so his team is happy to arrange a number of experiences, from private tours of other nearby wine châteaux and meeting a master barrel maker to guided tours of St. Emilion and helicopter tours across the vineyards. Pessac; 216 Avenue Docteur Nancel Penard; (33) 5-57-26-38-38.
1 hour east of Bordeaux, in the St. Emilion region
What: Owned by a British couple, this country-inspired chateaux has nine bedrooms and hosts the perfect house party. It's also a good choice for families, as there are lots of on-property amenities (playroom, cinema, large lawns/grounds). It's located a twenty-minute drive from St. Emilion and sleeps up to 16 adults and 8 kids.
Contact: Mouliets-et-Villemartin; 14 Avenue des Châteaux; (33) 5-57-40-17-99; chateaurigaud.co.uk
Where: 1 hour north of Bordeaux, in the Pauillac region
What: This Relais et Châteaux, owned by the Lynch-Bages winery,is most famous for its two-Michelin-starred restaurant, but many foodie pilgrims make it a big night out followed by a stay in one of the 28 rooms, which are done in a modern décor.
Contact: Route des Châteaux; (33) 5-56-59-24-24; cordeillanbages.com
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