Sara Matthews on Bordeaux

Sara Matthews started her work as a wine photographer in 1986, when she and her husband, Thomas Matthews, ( Executive editor of the Wine Spectator) moved from New York city to a small village near Bordeaux, resulting in their book, A Village in the Vineyards, published in 1993. Sara tells us her story…

In 1980, I met my husband Tom at my 21st birthday party when I arrived in Paris to study architecture at the école des Beaux Arts with my programme from Georgia Tech. He was on his way to Bordeaux to do a film on the grape harvest, and he invited me to come down to visit.

He picked me up at the train station and took me straight to lunch at La Tupina. We had cassoulet and a nice bottle of Bordeaux! We always enjoy returning and appreciate their cuisine des grands-mères.

A few years later we returned to the region and spent 18 months living in a little village in Entre-Deux-Mers called Ruch. We did a book about our experience there called ‘Village in the Vineyards”. This was when I began to take pictures about grape growing and wine making and I’ve been doing it ever since.

I would suggest to visitors to Bordeaux to spend time wandering all the beautiful streets around the Place de la Bourse, the Grand Théâtre, and the Place du Parlement. Bordeaux is an 18th century city, as opposed to Paris whose buildings are mostly from the 19th century. I love the beautiful colour of the stones, especially reflected in the late afternoon sunlight, and appreciate the classical architecture. Many visitor’s dont realise how beautiful Entre-Deux-Mers is. I recommend taking a drive out into the countryside, to visit a winery and some of the beautiful gothic churches in the region. Then swing by Saint Emilion and have a nice lunch or dinner before returning to the city. Saint Emilion is quite close to Ruch and we spent many happy days exploring all its little twisting streets and great restaurants.

I have seen so many changes in Bordeaux over the years, it just keeps getting better and better. In the 1980’s the buildings were mostly covered with dark soot and the whole city was grey. I give a lot of credit to Mr Juppé and his team for all the positive changes that have transformed the city for the better.