August 11 Day 7 – Libourne
Our free choice was to explore the exclusive estate of Château Franc Mayne and taste its Grand Cru Class wine, instead of viewing the eclectic city of Bergerac and enjoying a foie gras tasting at a charming local farm.
No morning exercises with bands for us today. Just trying to get a bit of sleep. Our bus didn’t leave for the excursion till 9:30 so we had breakfast a bit later too. Its so sad, I am pretty much down to toast and jam and maybe a slice of orange. Too much food! It seems like an easier day today. A drive though the countryside, visit the winery, hang around for twenty minutes in the heat for the tour of the limestone quarry to begin, then through to the shop for the wine tasting. Okay, the tour – it would have been great had I remembered to take the polarizing filter off my camera. Focused on getting my camera to work I missed a lot of what was said in the tour. Okay then, while twiddling my thumbs tasting wine – I broke an aerator – mortifying – then I bought one along with a nice square tray. We went back to the ship for lunch then into Libourne to shop. On the way back to the ship we went to find and have a good look at the Port tower. Afterward, showers and off to the lounge to enjoy the Cheese Presentation with the Chef. Yahoo. Followed by the Port Talk, dinner and then Disco Night! Whoohoo! The Disco was great fun with members of the staff joining in as did the Archibald gang. Unfortunately the only pictures taken were fuzzy. I’m sure it was the lights and not the alcohol or shortness of breath.
The Scenic Diamond left for Bordeaux and arrived around 10:30 pm.
Château Franc Mayne: The building surrounded by the vineyard is a former coaching inn of the 16th century, built on the Gallo-Roman route (with grooves visibly worn into the stone), linking Libourne to Saint-Emilion. The richness of Franc Mayne also lies in an extraordinary quarries on the property, dating from the 12th and 13th centuries. These limestone vaults give a particular cachet to the estate and offer ideal natural conditions with a pretty constant 13°C and 80% relative humidity for barrel aging of wines. Rock from this quarry helped to build the town of St. Emilion. And much like the monolithic church it looks as though the quarry walls have been constructed, with neat block lines, rather than deconstructed. The tour takes you through the quarry, emerging at the newly renovated post house, ready for the wine tasting.
We traveled around the Saint-Emilion area and up to the plateau before heading back to tour Chateau Franc Mayne.
Libourne was founded in 1268 on the initiative of Edward 1 of England and built by Roger de Leyburn, seneschal of Aquitaine. Conscious of the advantages of the site located at the confluence of the L’Isle and the Dordogne rivers, plans were made to build a fortified port.
La Porte du Grand Port of Libourne is the last vestige of the ramparts which included seven gates that once protected the city. Flanked by two cylinder-shaped gates, Tower Richard and Tower Barré, La Porte du Grand Port has been graded a historical monument since 1921.
The gate of the Grand Port was built between 1330 and 1350 between two tall round towers: the Richard tower and the Barrée tower. It should be noted that this was the only gate with a door that could be opened at night. In the 17th C a roof was added to the Richard tower. In January 1794 the municipality of Libourne decided to demolish the medieval walls, gates and towers considered to be symbols of feudalism by the city. A house and workshop supported by the two towers of the Grand Port protected this remnant of the fortifications from destruction.
Town Hall built in the 15th century was remodeled extensively in the 19th century to make it look more medieval.