A visit to Libourne France, site of the 2021 World Rowing Masters – Rowing stories, reports and interviews
Carlo and Margarita Zezza send the following report from Libourne France, where Carlo notes that “We can expect more certainty on travel restrictions in a year, and accommodation near Libourne is plentiful as it is a tourist destination. the famous wine chateaux are in the Libourne, Libourne itself is unknown in North America.
Margarita and I have been kindly invited to row at Libourne, the site of next year’s World Masters regatta. After Silverskiff in Turin, we went with our singles to see the place and visit the southwest of France. For rowers planning to go next year, this offers some information and our recommendation to go. It is a good place for a regatta.
Click here to go to ‘lac des Dagueys’ in Google Maps to see the layout. Widely used for elite French regattas, the lake is a 2 km eight-lane racecourse with a basin near the finish line. A lot of ground around the basin can support a big regatta. We had light cross winds and sunny weather in November; September is reported as generally similar. The club members are friendly, Xavier Buffo, the club president, took good care of us, and we loved rowing there.
Libourne is a shopping center about 40 minutes from the city of Bordeaux. The Libournais includes towns renowned for their Grand Cru wines, Saint Emilion, Pomerol, Fronsac, etc. The hilly terrain covered with rows of vines is pleasantly picturesque, and the town of Saint Emilion is a top tourist destination for its medieval architecture and winding streets.
Bed and breakfasts abound in the region. We used Google Maps to locate a B&B 15 minutes down a country road from the lake. Exit 10 of the French A89 toll motorway is only two minutes from the launch site. Exit 11 (Coutras) is 7 minutes east at the 80 mph speed limit and could be closer in time than accommodation closer in distance. For overseas visitors, a rental car will be required for all bikers except the sturdiest.
The area is renowned for its good food and we found two restaurants near the launch area; we ate at one, the Grand Café du Lac, and skipped Buffalo Grill. There are no monks left in the Cordeliers cloister in Saint-Emilion, but the staff prepared a delicious picnic for us to enjoy in the garden. While big name wines are not a bargain, the local standard for wine is high and the restaurants offer great wines from small vineyards at very reasonable prices. Shopping in supermarkets is no different from home, except that some stores only take orders online and do not allow access inside. They are identified as “Drive” and visitors must shop elsewhere.
Bordeaux is the second city in France after Paris. We were disappointed to find its iconic reflecting pool dry and devoid of reflection. The buildings bordering the city are impressive, but it’s far from Paris for things to see and do, and Paris is only 2 hours away by TGV, the French high-speed train. The TGV is an experience in itself; the countryside whistles silently past the windows at 200 mph. One hour east of Libourne by car, Périgord is rich in gorges, medieval towns, castles and forts, vestiges of centuries of conflict including a hundred-year war between the English and the French. The history of Périgord dates back 17,000 years to the wall paintings in the Lascaux caves. For anyone with a few days to go, there is a lot to see.
Miroir d’Eau Bordeaux, photo by Fabrizio Sciami
We can’t wait to go back next September. It will be great if a lot of Americans choose to participate in a regatta like the good old days, before Covid.