by Marcus Leach
Traditionally a man's stag do was a celebration of his honour, a last drink with his closest friends before he was to be bequeathed to his loving fiancee. Or at least that was the principle behind it.
The reality has always been a little different, as anybody who has been on a stag do will know. But, whilst still appealing to some, the booze fuelled weekend of debauchery that stags often are has lost its appeal, and now there is a desire to do something with at least a small degree of class and sophistication.
I myself got married last year and can't thank my best man enough for ensuring the weekend, as that is the norm now, was a subtle mix of action, adventure and evenings that contained alcohol but not so much that I was tied to a lamp post at some unearthly hour. With that in mind we take a look at some of the better stag do options available.
Wine Tasting in the Loire Valley - If you're happy to swap beer for wine then where better to go than the Loire Valley in France. Studded with storybook villages, time-burnished towns, and—bien sûr—the famous châteaux de la Loire, this area has all you need and more for a fantastic weekend away. Our pick of the vineyards is the charming Domaine de la Noblaie in Chinon. Owned by Jérôme Billard this vineyard makes sparkling Touraine, white and cherry-packed red Chinon, which you can enjoy on picnic tables (bring your own food) beside his vines. Take time out from wine tasting to visit some of the Châteaux of the Loire.
Wild Boar Hunt in Poland - It's fair to say most men who have been on at least a few stag weekends will, at some stage, have ended up taking part in clay pigeon shooting. Not that we are against clay pigeon shooting, but haven't you ever wanted to take it to the next level? Well now you can with a three day wild boar and deer hunt in the forests of Poland. An exhilarating experience, a great way to send the stag off with a bang, but be warned, not for the feint hearted. For more information click here.
Casino Royale in Monte Carlo - All men have at some stage, whether they like to admit it or not, have dreamt of being James Bond. Whilst a weekend in Monte Carlo doesn't come with state of the art gadgets it has all of the other Bond trappings, high class casinos, fast cars, stunning scenery, plenty of beautiful women and the unmistakeable Monte Carlo casino. Thanks to its tax haven status, this sparkling destination is an exclusive city where models and racing driving rub shoulders with playboys and celebrities. It might not be the cheapest stag option, but then when did Bond ever cut corners when it came to class and elegance.
Take a Punt in Venice - Europe is blessed with beautiful cities but there is only one winner when it comes to best in class, and that is unquestionably Venice. A city famous for couples it might not strike you as the obvious stag do destination, but that is exactly the point, after all you don't want to go to a city full of endless other stag parties, you want a little class. What better way to spend the afternoon than drinking champagne whilst being punted around the waterways on gondolas. Cities don't come much more fascinating than Venice, from palaces and marble churches to waterways and history it has it all. And on't worry, there is plenty of classy nightlife on offer as well.
Football in Barcelona - Now I know what you are thinking, going to Europe for a game of football isn't the classiest option going. Granted, it isn't Monte Carlo or Venice, but Barcelona has a huge amount to offer any stag weekend, including seeing one of the world's best and most iconic football teams. Much like the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell a visit to the Nou Camp is part and parcel of Barcelona, and with games later in the evening it gives you a full day to take in the many sights of the city. If it's a slower paced day you want then make your way down to the beach front and enjoy lazy beers in the sun.