Bordeaux veteran Jean Michel Cazes has finally realised his dream of restoring the village of Bages.

The highly-regarded proprietor of Chateau Lynch Bages has long harboured the idea of restoring the village near Pauillac from a decaying collection of houses into a thriving food and wine centre.

The project finally came to fruition last week when the village was officially opened.

Bages, to be known as a ‘village des Saveurs et du Vin’, links directly to the cellars of Lynch Bages, and has a bistro and bar, a wine shop and an artisan bakery, all based around a cobbled square with a central fountain.

Cazes, who is stepping down from the day to day running of Chateau Lynch Bages in favour of his son Jean Charles, explained how a need to expand his cellars led to the restoring of the village.

‘Three or four years ago, I was looking to expand my wine storage area, and asked my architect to draw up some plans. He suggested doubling the capacity of the current warehouse, which would have meant tearing down the empty homes behind the chateau.

‘I realised that I didn’t want to turn the village where my grandparents lived and where I grew up, into a warehouse.’

He added, ‘To see it now, with everything finally opened, is very emotional for me. There hasn’t been such a crowd of people in this square for over 100 years.’

Several winemakers were there to witness the launch. Evelyn Maroteaux of Château Branaire Ducru spoke of Cazes as a ‘wonderful ambassador for Bordeaux’.

But another guest, from neighbouring Chateau Giscours, was slightly more critical. ‘It all looks a bit too much like Disneyland,’ he said.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux