Arrive in St-Émilion. Take time to explore the town, then hop on your bicycle and head west to some of the best known vineyards in the area - Figeac, Cheval Blanc and Chateau Petras - Grands Crus Classés producers. Pass through a series of charming towns like Neac, Les-Artigues-de-Lussac and Faise. The 18th-century Château St-Georges is the most beautiful estate in the area with towers and a magnificent staircase. The Romanesque church St-Martin-de-Mazerat has a richly carved south portal. See a 16 ft stone Neolithic menhir, the “Pierrefite”, from the New Stone Age.
Enjoy a full day’s ride east to the Dordogne Valley through rolling countryside to the little wine villages of St-Christophe-des-Bardes and St-Genes-de-Castillon. Extend this loop to Lamote-Montravel on the north bank of the Dordogne, known for its fine AOC wine. The last battle of the Hundred Years’ War was fought near here in 1453 and the remains of a Roman villa have been found at Moncaret. Cross the Dordogne at Pessac, and return to St- Émilion. You’ll pass Château Pavie, one of 13 Grands Crus Classés producers. On a longer extension, follow the Dordogne on tiny roads to bustling Ste-Foy-la-Grande, founded as a defensible bastide in 1255. If you ’d like something shorter, head to the less hilly country south of St-Émilion, passing through St-Pey-d’Armens and Ste-Terre, on the north bank of the Dordogne River. Extend your ride to the attractive town of Branne, and, closely following the Dordogne over a series of tiny roads and through small towns and ports, reach the busy and grand town of Libourne before returning to St-Émilion.
There are still many options to choose from. Consider a walk to Château Ausone. You’ll pass literally half of the top rated vineyards of St-Émilion and walk entirely on the tiny lanes just west and south of St-Émilion. Just south of the town walls at Château Belair, you can still see where vines once grew in ancient “flower pot” rows gouged into rock centuries ago and filled with soil. Adjacent to Château Belair are the ruins of a Roman villa owned by the Roman governor Ausonius who gave his name to the greatest St-Émilion estate, Château Ausone, one of only two group “A” Premiers Grands Crus Classés, which you’ll pass as well. Or Walk to Château Laroque, heading south to the Dordogne River valley. From the top of the Massif of St-Hippolyte, you’ll see some of the best scenery in the area - long, long views to the Dordogne and beyond. The imposing Château Laroque is set around a large, formal courtyard. On a small side trip, visit the Union des Producteurs de St-Émilion, one of the best wine co-ops in France.
Today do more biking into château country northeast of St-Émilion, pass several impressive châteaux and many Romanesque churches, beautiful with their solid simplicity. This scenic but somewhat hillier countryside shelters many charming towns like St-Cibard, Villefranche-de-Lonchat and Francs, and the wine villages of the Puisseguin-St- Émilion. But you can also enjoy a walk to the little town of St-Christophe-des-Bardes, considered one of the best St-Émilion satellite wine producing communities. Return on an elevated ridge, the Massif of St-Hippolyte, entering St-Émilion through the only surviving gate in the original walls of the town, the Porte Bourgeoise. Then head off on your next adventure.