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We had several plates – several – that looked like this one.

ARCACHON, France – Fresh oysters, shrimp, langostines, crab, snails, and a few other things I didn’t recognize was Saturday’s highlight of my three days in France.

I have been here as a wine press guest of the CIVB, or Bordeaux’s professional winery association, marketing group and producer cooperative. But those are my words and not the association’s description.

See photos from Friday’s Bordeaux visit here.

Today was our final day in Bordeaux with all three U.S. wine writers facing an early day tomorrow and the long flight home. It’s hard to quantify the amount of knowledge I’ve absorbed about Bordeaux in three short days.

Today was about seeing other things the area has to offer and, frankly, enjoying ourselves. We headed out of town at 9 a.m. toward Arcachon on the French coast. The bay is known as one of the best oyster regions in all of Europe. It’s also known for its charming small town, fabulous beach, and incredible homes of the rich and famous along the shore lines.

The trip wasn’t all wine all the time like many of these press trips or the three previous ones I’ve joined. This trip all accentuated the wonderful things to do in the Bordeaux area besides wine. And I bought it enthusiastically. The Arcachon area is good as beach life gets. It was fun seeing kids playing a handball/beach volleyball combo game as we walked to our boat. The town was charming.

The boat captain was a great sport and toured us around the bay on a three hour cruise. It just doesn’t get much better than that – but then add the fresh seafood and representatives of two Bordeaux wineries pouring white, Rose’, and red wine and it was quite a morning. Arcachon may be new to many but is a fabulous vacation area.

Another highlight was a quick visit with Alfredo Ruiz, the only Latino-American winery owner in France. He had a restaurant at the Fete le Vin and we visited for a good 45 minutes. We heard his story and tasted three of his wines that I thought were some of the best I tasted at the value price point. He sells his white, Rose, and red for 10 Euro so under $15 with the U.S. conversion. He’s trying hard to expand his U.S. market. It’s really a great story. I intend on telling that story in the near future in one of my wine writing venues.

I finally had a small bit of time to walk through the Fete le Vin wine festival after that interview. It’s one cool event that draws a half million visitors in three days. There is constant live music, food, and all that Bordeaux wine. Each evening wraps up with a  really sophisticated light show and then big fireworks.

We then had a couple of hours off to do that ‘last day’ shopping. Bordeaux really is a great food city to go along with the wine, and a great shopping city. I bought French milled soaps, chocolate, Bordeaux’s favorite dessert, a t-shirt and other odds and ends to take back home.

We finished up our trip at a café in the city’s grand Opera House on the Place de Comedie – or the old theatre.

I have photo albums from Friday and Saturday to get up on the blog but it will probably be early in the week. So, please check back. We’re in a charming little hotel near the riverfront and the wine festival but the internet access is quite slow.

I’m like many people and have always found Bordeaux a bit intimidating. After spending just three days here, noting it was a pretty incredible three days of experiences, it’s now demystified. Bordeaux should be on any oenophile’s bucket list!

I have a very early flight tomorrow to Nice and then on to New York before Indy. I hope to do some work on the plane getting more photos up and such!

Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com