Libourne has always sat in the shadow of its much smaller but more famous neighbour – St Emilion which is located only 5km to the east.
Libourne is a sub-prefecture of the department of the Gironde and has 24 000 inhabitants but it has a rich history dating back to its English roots as a thirteenth century bastide town that developed at the confluence of rivers Isle and the Dordogne. These rivers were powerful transportation routes for the growing wine industry developed by the British during their occupation of the region. Today the river is less of a transportation artery and more of an attraction to locals and visitors alike. The town is served by major roads that connect to the Dordogne in the east and to Charentes / Charentes Maritimes – Paris to the north. Also the TGV Atlantique Paris-Bordeaux / Lyon – Bordeaux Libourne serves the station that puts it at 3 hours from Paris. This TGV sees around 1 million passengers every year!
Because of its location, at the gateway of the famous vineyards of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion, the Libourne river port has had a significant impact on the region’s economy which in turn is evident in the magnificent buildings of the town including the Place Royale and 18th and 19th Century Libourne town houses.
Many people who work in Bordeaux choose to settle in Libourne given its enviable quality of life and schools. Their choice if probably helped by the fact that they can enjoy a beautiful house or a mansion for the price of an apartment in Bordeaux. The facades of Libourne town houses or small mansions have beautiful moldings and pediments (Empire style) again a hint of the town’s powerful economic influence on the region. Many Libourne houses have small walled gardens with a garage at the back, sometimes with a pool too. Despite really feeling like you are in the countryside, one often forgets that Bordeaux is so easily accessible by train + tram (= 45 minutes) or by car (30 minutes by N89).
Although Libourne will always play second to Bordeaux with respect to the big shopping brands, it does offer excellent trade and local services with over 300 shops in the center and immediate vicinity. In addition it has two hospitals and numerous schools (elementary through to High school).
It is a city where one can get around and park quite easily and there are exciting plans afoot to develop the LiBus (a free electric bus) which will be introduced with a number of other green initiatives.
The cultural life of Libourne is also impressive with a strong rugby side leading many sporting clubs and facilities including an international rowing lake. There is also an 8 screen cinema, a theater (the Libournia), several multi-sport halls and the street art festival Fest ‘ arts. Finally and best of all, three times a week there is one of the best French markets located in the heart of the town as well as its permanent covered market. The range of local products is impressive, but it is the quality of foods and produce that is such a treat making it a staple source for many a meal chez moi!