Universally lauded as the most romantic country on earth, there is perhaps no place more perfect to tie the knot and celebrate love than France. People’s minds often immediately jump to the glitz and glamor of Paris, but France is a country of surprising variety, with an endless number of stunning regions just waiting to be discovered.
Travel down the west coast and you’ll come to the port city of Bordeaux. Many will be aware of Bordeaux as an exporter of some of the finest wines of the world, but, alcohol aside, foreigners’ knowledge of the city and its surrounding areas tends to be limited at best.
Luckily for us, Bordeaux-born-and-bred Alexandra Habemont, who also happens to be the founder of wedding planning service Once Upon A Time, has compiled a list of some of the most desirable wedding venues Bordeaux and the wider Nouvelle-Aquitaine region have to offer.
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Situated in the quartier des Grands Hommes, the heart of Bordeaux’s historical center, this hotel is perfect for couples seeking an elegant and metropolitan venue. Le Grand Hotel was designed by revered architect Victor Louis in the eighteenth century, and was built with the excessive splendor which was so emblematic of the period, and which remains just as striking today.
The hotel’s interior is just as opulent. Couples have the opportunity to celebrate their nuptials in the lavish Sauternes meeting room, dating back to 1907. The same level of extravagance is evident in the services provided by the hotel, which include Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin-starred restaurant The Pressior d’Argent, world-class sommeliers on hand to advise wedding menu wine pairings, and a spa comprising ten treatment rooms.
If you’re thinking that this château’s name rings a bell, you’d be right – world-renowned wine has been produced here for centuries, with sources documenting grapes first being planted by the noble Bosq family as early as 1365. The estate has changed hands a number of times over the years – previous owners include Scotsman George Smith (which explains the distinctly un-Gallic third of its name) and the Mayor of Bordeaux, both of whom ensured that the prestigious reputation enjoyed by the château and its produce was preserved.
The estate is capable of catering to wedding parties of varying sizes, and can accommodate up to 300 guests. A number of halls and salons are at your disposal, with the Cantlelys Hall remaining the most impressive. This space is one which will truly transport you and your guests back in time, boasting period features such as a Renaissance chimney, original 12th century exposed beams, and a grand stone staircase.
Again, a dream venue for oenophiles and history buffs alike, Château Pape Clement is the oldest wine estate in Bordeaux, and celebrated harvesting its 700th vintage in 2006. The estate’s name is derived from its original owner, Bertrand de Goth, who was elected Pope in 1306 and took the name “Clement”. You’d be hard-pressed to find another venue steeped in as much rich history as this.
Its suitability as a wedding venue is certainly not compromised by its age. Only 15 minutes from Bordeaux, but surrounded by 60 hectares of vineyards, you really do get the best of both worlds. The estate also blends a number of architecture styles, leaving it up to the bride and groom to decide whether they’d rather say “I do” in the intriguing neo-gothic surroundings of the château, or if they’d prefer to opt for the decorative glass pavilion in the garden, designed by none other than Gustave Eiffel.
Positively modern in comparison to the other venues on this list, Villa La Tosca was constructed in 1903, blending both French and Italian architectural influences. The villa caters for smaller, more intimate wedding parties, making it the perfect venue for couples seeking a low-key affair, without forgoing any of the French elegance abundant in the region.
The main selling point of Villa La Tosca may well be its paradisiacal setting. Located in the Bay of Arcachon, the villa is concealed by pine forest on one side, and exposed to the sea on the other. This makes marrying your dreams of a beach ceremony and a lavish European soirée a piece of cake!
Another château which enjoys a very regal history, Cazeneuve has been home to the likes of Henry IV, and is still inhabited by the Sabran-Pontevès, a Ducal family. The estate is made up of a number of styles, ranging from its medieval cellars (in which you can find – you guessed it – an impressive range of bottles of Bordeaux) to the Renaissance architecture of the main château building. The lower yard even plays host to troglodyte caves, sure to fascinate any guests with a penchant for spelunking!
Newly-weds and guests alike will be able to celebrate the day (and night) within the castle walls. Cocktail receptions are held in the large courtyard, dinner takes place in vast halls complete with vaulted ceilings and stone fireplaces, and you’ll be able to dance the night away in the guard room.
There you have it – Alexandra’s picks of the most awe-inspiring venues this region has to offer. Come for the wine, stay for the opulent architecture and stunning natural beauty. Still hesitant to take the leap across the Atlantic? Contact Once Upon A Time for all you need to know about arranging un mariage bordelais!
*This list is not ranked preferentially.