Plans for a massive new road through Bordeaux have been shelved.

A Bordeaux tribunal yesterday gave in to protesters and blocked plans for the ‘Grand Contournement’ road that was to pass through the Médoc and Côtes de Bourg and Blaye.

The bypass and bridge across the river Gironde were designed to relieve congestion on the Rocade, the existing ring road around Bordeaux. It would also allow easier access to the Spanish border from northern France

The French government greenlighted the project in May 2004, although work was not to begin for another 15 years.

The wine community protested vigorously when detailed announcements of proposed routes, published last year, showed several routes cut straight through prime viticultural land in Bourg, Blaye and Margaux.

Chateau Cantemerle director Philippe Dambrine, one of the most vociferous voices against the proposals told decanter.com, ‘It’s very good news for us, as there were plans to cut our vineyards entirely in half. We don’t need a motorway through the Médoc, we need to concentrate on making the existing D2 road really welcoming for tourists, and ensure all the towns and villages along it are well restored.’

Not every one is pleased. Jerome Bonacorrsi of Château La Rivalerie in Premieres Côtes de Blaye said, ‘Even though the road would have cut through my vineyards, the proposed exit would have been a chance to bring more tourists to Bourg and Blaye. We need a solution that stimulates the local economy but not at the expense of the winemakers.’

Another well-placed observer said the road was needed for speeding up commerce. ‘It just shows once again that, in France, if you complain for long enough, the authorities cave in.’

The government has the right to contest the decision.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux