It’s that time of the year when pumpkins are getting to be the stars of the market and Halloween decorations suddenly appear in many stores in Bordeaux. Usually, at the beginning of October, I begin scouting for Halloween events and I must admit that since Covid started there aren’t that many of them in our region but I was still able to find a few fun options for kids to put on their costumes and enjoy different Halloween activities. I also included a fun party for adults so don’t close the article yet if you don’t have kids 🙂 Here’s a list of Halloween events taking place in the Bordeaux region (and some in Dordogne) in 2021.
Like every year you can trust Château de Villandraut with a great program for Halloween. This year the events will take place on October 25 – 31 andthe program includes a treasure hunt, a murder party, and more. Check out all the details here.
Cabaret Zombie at the Iboat
Blonde Venus (one of the bars of the Iboat) is hosting a Halloween cabaret night on October 30. For the full program and tickets click here.
Domain du Raba
Domain du Raba in Talence is hosting a fun Halloween day for kids which will include a pumpkin workshop and a movie. For all the details click here.
Ferme Exotique – during the fall vacation
La Ferme Exotique in Cadaujac invites you to celebrate Halloween with their farm animals during the two weeks of school break from October 23 to November 7. In the program: games, masks creation workshops, Halloween makeup, and a phantom train. For more info click here.
A mask-making workshop for kids
The Récup’R Bordeaux association is hosting a mask-making Halloween activity for kids (over 8 yo). The event will take place at the Maison écocitoyenne in Bordeaux on October 27. The event is free but prior registration is required, check out the details here.
School of witches in Château de Bridoire
If you don’t mind traveling a bit then you would also enjoy this event. The Château de Bridoire in Dordogne, also known as the castle of games, is hosting a game called the school of witches, which should be fun for both kids and adults. The activities are about to take place daily during the kids’ fall break from October 23 to November 7. On the weekend of October 29 – 30, the château is also organizing Halloween nights with a murder party escape game. See all the details here.
Treasure Hunt is Bergerac
Not far from the Chateau de Bridoire in the city of Bergerac, you can also participate in a big Treasure hunt for kids (age 6-10 yo). The activities will take place on October 27 and October 30. For all the details click here.
October has always been one of the best months for events in Bordeaux and this year is no exception. The international contemporary art festival is taking place this month as well as the hot air balloon festival in Saint Emilion and open doors weekends in different chateaux. In this post, I published only the biggest and most famous events and festivals in the region, but in a city like Bordeaux you can enjoy many activities and events like brocantes, art markets, and concerts every weekend. I usually publish those in my newsletter which is send every Friday morning – you can subscribe to my email list to enjoy all the updates about Bordeaux and the southwest of France.
Here are the best things to do in Bordeaux in October 2021 (scroll down for exhibitions recommendations)!
FAB – International art festival
FAB is the annual International art festival of Bordeaux Metropole taking place this year on October 1-23. As one of Europe’s biggest art festivals, it attracts some known names from the international contemporary art scene. During the three weeks of the festival, more than 30 shows will take place in more than 20 different locations in Bordeaux. Click here to see the full program of the festival.
When: October 1-20 / Where: Different locations in Bordeaux metropole – check out the program
Nuit des Bibliothèques
La Nuit des Bibliothèques taking place on October 2, is a great opportunity to discover the libraries across the city. 27 libraries in Bordeaux Metropole will participate in this event and will offer such activities as concerts, theater shows, science workshops, games for kids and more. See more details here and the full program here.
When: October 2 – evening / Where: Bordeaux, Merignac, Pessac, and more – check out the full program
La Grande Transhumance Urbaine
The Grande Transhumance Urbaine is a fun event taking place every October in Villenave d’Ornon (one of Bordeaux’s southern suburbs). The idea of this festival is to connect city people to the local agriculture with the main event being an 8km sheep march, passing through different farms. On the way, you can enjoy concerts and markets with local products. This year the event will take place on October 3rd, with the march starting from Ferme de Baugé and ending at Domaine de la Junca. See more details here and the full program here.
When: October 3 / Where: Villenave d’Ornon, check out the full program
Foire aux Plaisirs
This is the fall edition of the traditional Bordelais Fair that is taking place at Place des Quinconces from October 8 to November 1. It’s a perfect activity for kids and for those who are young in spirit as La Foire aux Plaisirs de Bordeaux has it all: a big wheel, roller coasters, ghost trains, bumper cars, donuts, crèpes, candyfloss and more. The fair is open daily from 14:00, you are not required to pay any entry fee, only for some of the attractions. See more info about the fair here.
When: October 8 – November 1 / Where: Place des Quinconces, Bordeaux
Animasia is a festival of Asian pop culture bringing together many elements like J-POP music, Yosakoi dance, karaoke and Cosplay performances. The place will also include thematic areas with martial arts, video games, board games and more. The festival will take place on the weekend of October 9-10at the Parc des Expositions. For more info and tickets check out the website of the festival.
When: October 9-10 / Where: Parc des Expositions, Bordeaux
Village des Sciences
On October 9-10 Bordeaux’s science museum will host its annual Village des Sciences weekend. This year’s theme is “critical thinking”. See more details here (the program will be published soon).
When: September 9-10 / Where: Hangar 20, Quai de Bacalan, Bordeaux
Lire en Poche – books festival
Lire en Poche is a pocketbooks festival that will take place in Gradignan on October 8-10. Besides a huge book sale, a wide range of activities are offered to the participants, among them: reading sessions, theater shows, music, games, workshops for kids, and more. The entrance to the festival is free, however, some activities are paid and require prior reservation. For more info click here.
When: October 8-10 / Where: Théâtre des Quatre Saisons et à La Médiathèque Jean Vautrin, 32 route de Léognan – 33170 Gradignan
Montgolfiades de Saint-Emilion
Montgolfiades is an annual festival of hot-air balloon flights organized by Le Ciel est à Toi association. The flights will take place on October 15-17 above Saint Emilion and the vineyards around it, so the sight is promised to be breathtaking. For more info click here.
When: October 15-17 / Where: in the vineyards of Saint Emilion, just follow the balloons
Open doors in the Chateaux of Graves
Graves, one of the wine regions in the Bordeaux wine area, invites you to an open doors weekend, allowing you to discover its wines and châteaux. During the weekend (October 16-17) 71 châteaux will open their doors to visits, wine tastings, wine workshops and different activities for kids and adults. See the full program of the event and the list of participating châteaux here.
When: October 16-17 / Where: Graves area – chose your chateau from the program
FIFIB- Bordeaux international festival of independent movies
Bordeaux Independent Films Festival will take place on October 13-18 at Rue Mably in the center of Bordeaux. The program includes film screenings, concerts and meetings with special guests. Every evening, the festival village will transform into an open cinema theater and a dance floor. The event is free and open for all. See the full program on the site of the festival.
When: October 13-18 / Where: Le Village du FIFIB, 3 rue Mably, Bordeaux
A bit of Basque country!
Foire au Jambon
If you really love ham, this is the event for you! Every year, Bayonne, the capital of the French Basque country hosts the Foire au Jambon, where the best ham producer is chosen. The program also includes a big market with plenty of local food producers, farm animals, and music on the streets of Bayonne. The festival will take place on October 15-17. For more info click here.
When: October 15-17 / Where: Bayonne
Fête du Piment d’Espelette
Piment d’Espelette is the red pepper that decorates every market in the Basque country and every shop selling Basque products. Like every important ingredient in the French kitchen, this little pepper needs a “fête”. Fête du Piment d’Espelette is taking place on October 23-24 in the beautiful village of Espelette. The program includes a big parade, a huge market, musical concerts, activities for kids, a mass with the choir of Espelette, and more. For more details click here.
Read more about this beautiful village in my article about Espelette.
Finally, for the first time since March 2020, l’Institut Bernard Magrez hosts a new exhibition. This beautiful place is known for hosting some of the best street art exhibitions in Bordeaux and this time it will be the American artist JonOne with his exhibition “Free Spirit”! The exhibition will be presented between September 25 and February 27.
For more details and tickets click here.
La Cité du Vin – Boire avec les dieux
Drinking with the gods is a temporary exhibition presented at the wine museum of Bordeaux until November 7. Through a lively experience of sound and visuals, the exhibition touches upon the connection between wine, gods, and men in Greco-Roman civilization. For more details click here.
Monet, Renoir… Chagall, Voyages en Méditerranée
Visiting Les Bassins de Lumières is an amazing cultural experience that should not be missed when in Bordeaux. The exhibition that is currently running there is called Monet, Renoir… Chagall, Voyages en Méditerranée. You can get a bit of an impression of how it looks inside in my video below. The exhibition is taking place from May 19 to January 2nd. You must book your tickets in advance.
There are plenty of great articles you can find about the main attractions in Bordeaux as well as its most important monuments. However, I feel they don’t reveal all the treasures and hidden gems this city has to offer. You need to fully experience Bordeaux in order to understand why people love it so much. In this article, I summarized my 50 best things to do in Bordeaux. My list includes everything from food, chic cafés, shopping, fun neighborhoods, music venues, art, day trips, and more. Hope you’ll enjoy it! If you enjoyed the list please share it!
Before we start, if you have only one day in Bordeaux, check out my article about what to do and see on a one-day trip – read it here. Also, check out my Travel in the Southwest of France group on Facebook for many more tips. Now let’s start!
Best things to do in Bordeaux and its surroundings
Admire the stunning gates of Bordeaux
Before becoming a modern 18th-century city with spacious squares and boulevards, Bordeaux was once a little town surrounded by walls and impressive entrance gates. Today, five of the gates are still standing, marking the old borders of Bordeaux: the Grosse Cloche and le Porte Cailhau in the city canter, Porte de Bourgogne facing the river, Porte d’Aquitaine on Place de la Victiore, and Porte Dijeaux at the western part of the historic center. The first two on this list are the only two original gates from the 15th century from when Bordeaux was still a fortress and they are real architectural masterpieces.
The Famous Water Mirror
The Miroir d’Eau is a huge water mirror located on the left bank of the Garonne river, just in front of the iconic Place de la Bourse. Le Miroir d’Eau is the most popular monument in Bordeaux attracting many families with kids to splash their feet on hot summer days. It is also one of the best places to take your Instagram photos 🙂
Canelé is the most famous Bordeaux pastry so tasting one is a must when in Bordeaux. Like many other things in this region, the story of Canelé is related to the wine world. Legend has it that the first canelés were made by nuns at the Couvert de L’Annociade de Bordeaux at the end of the 17th century. It made out of flour and egg yolks that were given to nuns by winemakers who used egg whites to purify the wine. Today the little brown striated pastry can be found in many sizes all over the city. My all-time favorite canelé is la Toque Cuivrée and you can see their small boutiques spread all over the city center. See all their shops here.
Bordeaux is a surprising city when it comes to good coffee places. While France doesn’t have a strong reputation in making good coffee, Bordeaux prides itself on its coffee scene, with cute little coffee places popping up in every corner. The list is quite long but here are some of my favorites: Kuro, Sip, l’Alchimiste, and Piha in the city center and Café Eriu and Café Gusco within a few minutes walk of the center. Read more about some of the best coffee places in Bordeaux here.
Check out my video about Café Eriu
Bike along the Garonne river
Bordeaux is a very flat and bike-friendly city. There are many interesting cycling trails you can do around Bordeaux metropole, however, the most recommended one in the city center is the bridge to bridge trail. The circuit goes from Pont Pierre (the central bridge of Bordeaux) to the new Pont Chaban Delmas, on both sides of the Garonne river. Besides the very pleasant ride on the riverfront, you get to see some of the most beautiful and fun places in Bordeaux such as the stunning 18th-century buildings along the riverfront, the Cité du Vin, Darwin, and more. You can read all about it in my article about the bridge to bridge trail.
Go to the Capucins Market
In my opinion, Capucins is one of the best markets in France, here I said it! 🙂 If you love food or at least want to discover a bit of the rich gastronomic culture of the southwest of France, there’s no better place than the Capucins market. This is the biggest daily market in Bordeaux and has everything from stands of fruits and vegetables, sweets, spices, and a bunch of lively cafés and restaurants. I have a whole article about the best places to eat at the Capucins market, so be sure to read it before going.
Don’t miss the little stall with a local pasty called le Puit d’amour, you’ll thank me later.
Drink at the Bacalan market
From a traditional market to the newer chic market of Bordeaux -Marché de Bacalan This impressive hangar is located in the Bacalan district just in front of the famous Cité du Vin and hosts more than 20 different artisans and merchants that were chosen for the quality of their products. Many locals flock to the market on weekends for drinks and tapas and the great vibes. I wrote a whole article about the Bacalan district as it’s one of my favorite places in Bordeaux – check it out here.
See the best exhibitions at the Base Sous-Marine
La Base Sous-Marine is one of the most unique art venues in Bordeaux. Built by the Germans during the Second World War, this old submarine base has been converted into a space dedicated to contemporary arts, which allows you to enjoy the space itself no less than the art presented there. Currently, the place is called le Bassin des Lumières hosting a mesmerizing exhibition of Monet, Renoir, Chagall and others called “Voyages en Méditerranée”.
Important information: tickets must be bought in advance (here’s the link) and masks are obligatory.
Cité du Vin – the world’s biggest wine museum
This impressive piece of modern architecture is a unique cultural center, all dedicated to the discovery of wine. Through its interactive exhibition, it offers a journey to both French and global wine history. You will learn about winemaking, see movies and interviews with wine producers and then smell and taste wine.
Read about what to expect when visiting the museum in my article about my visit to the Cité du Vin. You can avoid the lines at the entrance by booking the tickets online – book here.
Visit Bordeaux’s real wine museum
I know I just talked about the big wine museum in Bordeaux but that’s not Bordeaux’s real wine museum, it’s rather a world wine museum. Musée du Vin et du Négoce is the actual Bordeaux wine museum and the best place to help you discover how the Bordeaux wine area has developed over the years. It’s situated in what used to be a typical house of a négociant (wine trader) in the 18th century in the Chartrons district. It’s not as modern and interactive as the Cité du Vin but if you want to learn about the history of the Bordeaux wine region this is the place to go. It ends with a very nice wine tasting session where you get plenty of explanations about the different wine appellations in Bordeaux.
Arguably the most beautiful building in Bordeaux, le Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux is a cultural landmark you should not miss when visiting the city. The historic monument, built in 1780, is home to the National Opera and ballet of Bordeaux and its program often includes some of the best ensembles from all over the globe. The demand for tickets is usually very high so book your tickets in advance. Even if you don’t have the time to see a concert I recommend taking a tour of the opera as the interior design is spectacular. Check out all the details here.
Classic music concert at the auditorium
Getting tickets to the opera at the Grand Théâtre requires buying tickets well in advice, going to a classical music concert, on the other hand, is much easier. The Auditorium of the Opera National of Bordeaux is one of the largest music venues in Bordeaux hosting several classical music concerts every week. See the program here.
Go to the CIBC for Bordeaux wine tasting
If you really want to understand the variety of Bordeaux wines you should start tasting it and there’s no better place for that than le Bar à Vin. This classic wine bar, located in the 18th-century residence of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux (the Bordeaux Wine Council). The best thing about this place is that they let you taste half glasses so you can discover many fantastic local wines at very low prices. For other great options for wine tasting read my article about wine tasting in Bordeaux.
L’intendant – the wine library of Bordeaux
L’intendant is the most beautiful and rich wine store in Bordeaux and it’s no wonder that it’s referred to as the library of Bordeaux’s wines. It holds a collection of more than 15,000 bottles all stacked on its walls, following a 12 meters high spiral staircase. Established almost 30 years ago, the store has become one of the go-to places to shop for the famous wines of the region.
Explore the Saint Michel neighborhood
Saint Michel is one of the most cosmopolitan and lively neighborhoods in Bordeaux. Although It’s not part of the traditional sightseeing tours of Bordeaux, I really recommend spending a few hours in this cool district. The neighborhood is home to some of the best markets of Bordeaux, numerous places where you can browse for vintage clothes and furniture, and an endless list of lively restaurants and cafes.
Every Sunday morning more than 80 dealers gather at the square in front of the Basilica of Saint Michel for the Brocante du Dimanche. This is the weekly flea market of Bordeaux where you can find real bargains and purchase everything from toys for kids to antique frames and electronic devices.
Discover Bordeaux’s amazing street art
Like many other cities, Bordeaux has the street art fever, with plenty of stunning wall paintings decorating its streets. Darwin is one of the places that have the largest concentration of street art by local artists in Bordeaux. Other spots in the city include the Bassin a Flot district, rue Bouffard, Quai des platitudes, the Mur in Chartrons, rue Bergeret, and more. In the city center, you can follow the huge animals by the local artist A-mo pained on walls and shatters of many shops (don’t miss the huge gorilla and the fox) – I won’t give you the specific locations, I’m sure it’ll be a lot of fun to find them by yourself.
L’entrepôt Saint Germain – the best vintage shop
L’entrepôt Saint Germain is a huge hangar with plenty of vintage furniture, beautiful house decor, antiques, and many creepy, funny, and probably unnecessary items. It’s designed like a little street with different boutiques and cafés (not real ones, unfortunately) where the items are perfectly placed. The place is open daily and is located a few minutes’ walk from the train station of Bordeaux on 96 Rue Amédée Saint-Germain.
Time for chocolate!
There are quite a few amazing chocolate shops in the center of Bordeaux. Some are owned by young talented chocolatiers (chocolate makers) and others are established places dating centuries back. Here are just a few of the best chocolate shops in the center of Bordeaux: David Capi (my personal favorite); Cadiot Badie, the oldest chocolate store in Bordeaux; Hasnaa, the rising star of the Bordeaux chocolate world and Saunion, founded in 1893 and considered one of Bordeaux’s classics.
Do a picnic in Jardin public
Jardin Public is the largest park in the center of Bordeaux with more than 300 trees and vast green planes – a perfect place for a picnic. Besides being visually stunning, it has a large pond (with ducks and geese!), great facilities for kids, and even a nice coffee place. If you want to know more about parks and gardens in Bordeaux check out my article on places for picnics in Bordeaux.
Freep’show – a funky vintage shop
If you like second-hand shops you’re definitely going to love Freep’show, a little hipster store with its impressive selection of plaid shirts, short jeans, and colorful dresses. Once you take your eyes off the big Slash mannequin in the entrance, you can spot plenty of second-hand items from the 80s and 90s that will make you instantly nostalgic. Add to that the vinyl records decor, uplifting music, and stylish employees dancing to its beats and you get one of the best vintage stores in town. You can read my full article about the best second-hand shops in Bordeaux here.
Have a delicious meal
In recent years Bordeaux is gaining popularity as a gastronomic city and even holds the record for the number of restaurants per person in France. So trying at least one restaurant in Bordeaux is a must! There are a lot of excellent restaurants in the city center and choosing one won’t be easy, but let me suggest just a few. Here’s a list of a few restaurants I like in the city: l’Atelier des Faures, Au Bistro near the market, Le bouchon bordelais, Le M, Mets Mots, Le Chien de Pavlov , La Belle Saison and the list goes on and on.
Discover one of the most charming streets in Bordeaux
Rue Notre Dame in the Chartrons district is a posh street with plenty of coffee places, trendy boutiques, antique shops, and more. You can spend several hours admiring the beautiful architecture, shopping, and trying great pastries. It’s one of the most beautiful streets in Bordeaux with a lot of tiny balconies decorated with planters full of colorful flowers. The perfect street for Instagram addicts 🙂
Au Pétrin Moissagais on 72 Cours de la Martinique is the oldest bakery in Bordeaux, established in 1765. Serge, the baker and owner, is very proud of his Gascognian traditions and still makes the original Gascognian white bread in the 18th-century oven. And yes, it’s the same oven since the opening of the boulangerie (bakery), some 24 years before the French revolution! The bakery has a completely different look and feel compared to a standard French bakery, it really feels like you’ve gone back in time to the 18th century.
Eat oysters at the Sunday Market
Every Sunday morning dozens of food stalls with the best oysters of the region, fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, fish, wine, and plenty of food trucks are installed on the Quai des Chartrons. For many visitors, the main attraction is the few stalls with oysters which cost around 6 euros per plate and come with a glass of white wine. It kind of embodies the good life atmosphere in this region 🙂.
See a concert on the Iboat
The Iboat is a big three-level ferry anchored to one of the docks of Bassins a flot, the port of Bordeaux. Since its opening in 2011, this funky concert venue has been promoting emerging artists, especially in the electronic music scene. Over the years it has become a multidisciplinary place with a concert hall and a club hosting more than 250 events a year, a terrace hosting Dj sets and happy hours. During summer you could also enjoy the outdoor area on the deck, with an exceptional view of the basin. Take a look at the program of events.
There are a few cute cheese shops in Bordeaux where you can find all the famous French cheese. However, this can be a great opportunity to try out regional cheese from the southwest of France. When going to the shop ask about Ossau- Iraty from the Basque country, the goat cheese Rocamadour or the excellent Tomme de Bazas. My two favorite cheese shops in the city center are: Fromagerie Beillevaire (8 bis Rue Michel Montaigne) and Fromagerie Deruelle (66 Rue du Pas-Saint-Georges).
Can you really visit a French city without tasting at least one pastry? There are several amazing patisseries in the center of Bordeaux. Here are a few that I particularly love: David Capy next to Marché des Grands Hommes, Pâtisserie Valantin in the Nansouty district, Pâtisserie S. with a special French-Japanese vibe, and Mi-Cielo with a sweet creative collection.
Don’t miss the main Cathedral of Bordeaux
Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux is a Roman Catholic church and the seat of the Archbishop of Bordeaux. Located on the main square of Pey Berland, the cathedral is one of the most impressive monuments of Bordeaux and is labeled as a national monument of France. In the evening the Cathedral often hosts concerts of classical music, choirs, and an organ festival during the summer. You can check out more info about the concerts here.
Shopping of course!
Bordeaux is not Paris when it comes to shopping but it has quite a lot to offer to shopping lovers 🙂 All the main clothing retail stores are located on the main shopping street, rue Sainte Catherine. For the more fancy shops head to the Triangle d’Or district and you’ll find all you need around le Marché des Grands Hommes. However, if you’re interested in small independent boutiques here are a few recommended ones in the center of Bordeaux: Jane de Boy, Blue Madone, Boutique addict, and several other boutiques on rue Saint James and rue Notre dame.
A day trip to Saint Emilion
Saint Emilion has long gained a reputation as one of the greatest wine regions in the world. It’s no wonder it attracts more than a million tourists every year. For many decades this picturesque town has been an economic and religious center attracting royals, winegrowers and pilgrims. Every square in the small village center is packed with history and some incredible architecture. Thousands of hectares of vines surround the medieval village making the landscape an unforgettable scenery. Read about all the things to do there in my article about Saint Emilion. Also, check out my list of recommended wine chateaux to visit.
See a movie in Utopia
Utopia is an independent cinema theater installed in an ancient church, l’église du Vieux Bordeaux. It’s the cheapest cinema in Bordeaux and the one with the most diverse program, from little independent productions to big-budget movies and old classical ones. Utopia has also a big terrace café which is particularly fun on sunny days. See the program here.
Do a cocktails night
The Bordelais might love their wine but they sure do appreciate a good cocktail, and the number of great cocktail bars is a testament to that. Here are some of my favorite chic cocktail bars in the center of Bordeaux: Mama shelter (cocktails with an amazing view of Bordeaux), Madame pang, la Comtesse, Simone, and the Night Beach (the pricey rooftop bar of the Grand Hotel).
Take a boat ride on the Garonne
Bordeaux is situated on the Garonne river and seeing it from the water is a fun experience. There are several companies that offer boat tours on the Garonne, but you can actually sail on the Garonne for at least a few minutes for the price of a tram ticket. As part of its public transport system, the city of Bordeaux provides a ferry (navette fluviale), that has five stops: Stalingrad, Quinconces, Les Hangars, La Cité du Vin, and Lormont (take a look at the ferry time table here). You don’t have to do the whole line, you can use it to just cross the river to the other side.
Darwin is probably one of the most surprising places in Bordeaux. An old military base turned into an urban space with a workspace/incubator for startups, a skate park for all ages, a restaurant, and many other surprises, all with an agenda of ecological awareness. Also, Darwin is an extraordinary place for street art and includes some amazing works by a lot of talented artists on every one of its buildings. They host many cool events so don’t be surprised if suddenly you see an artisan market or a collection of old cars on display.
See a concert at La Guinguette chez Alriq – the best tavern in town
The Guinguette chez Alriq is a big tavern located on the right banks of the Garonne at the Bastide neighborhood (right in front of Darwin), hosting plenty of open-air concerts every summer. The performing bands and artists are coming from all over the world and create a laid-back party atmosphere. There’s usually a small price to pay for the concerts taking place on Wed-Sat and on Sundays the entry is free. You can see their program here. The place is very popular so expect to see a line at the entrance.
The Parc of Lormont, or by its official name: Parc de l’Ermitage Sainte-Catherine, is a beautiful hilly park located on the east bank of the Garonne river. If you climb on the upper side of the park you can enjoy a stunning view of the Aquitaine bridge covering the Garonne river. However, If you’re coming with strollers or generally with little kids, beware that it’s not a very easy climb to the top of the park. In that case, I would advise you to spend your time near the lake at the bottom of the park and then re-enter the park again through Haut Lormont (the higher part of Lormont) to visit the hilly part.
Go to the beach
You don’t need to go far to enjoy the beach in Bordeaux, we actually have a great lake beach which you can reach in 15 minutes by tram from the city center. Bordeaux Lac has a sandy clean beach and a lot of shade from the nearby trees for those who don’t really like the sun. The beach is open to the public daily from June 1st to August 31 and starting July 1st it offers water and beach activities such as sailing, kayaking, mini-golf, and more. Check out the list of daily activities here.
Strolling the city center you’ve probably noticed a lot of impressive monuments dating back to the 13th,14th, and 15th centuries such as the Grosse Cloche or the Saint Michel Basilica. But Bordeaux’s oldest monument is actually located outside of the old city walls.Palais Galien is the ruins of a Gallo Roman amphitheater dating back to the second century when Bordeaux was called Burdigala. The site is located a few minutes’ walk from Jardin public and you can see all of it from the street. There are guided tours to Palais Galien during the summer season. You can book them by calling +33 5 56 00 66 00.
Buy French alcohol
If you want to discover what other spirits France has to offer besides wine, you must go to Émile et Marguerite. This cute little shop on 13 Rue Parlement Saint-Pierre has a huge collection of French alcohol, from Cognac, Armagnac, local gin, craft beer, and many more. They are super nice and offer tastings to those interested to discover more about local liqueurs.
Visit the Natural history museum
After years of renovations, the natural history museum of Bordeaux has opened its doors on March 2019. Created in 1971, the museum has one of the biggest collections in France hosting more than a million specimens. Besides the new design and incredible collection, one of the new features in the renovated museum is the “Early Years Museum” for kids under 6 years old. The museum regularly hosts great temporary exhibitions which are usually very kids friendly. The entrance is free every first Sunday of the month.
The Bordeaux wine region has thousands of wine châteaux spread all over the Gironde department. Luckily there are several great wineries within Bordeaux metropole you can visit by tram or by bus, here are some of the recommended ones: Château Pape Clément in PessacTake line B to Pessac Centre and then continue 20 minutes by foot or take a direct bus from Place Tourny in Bordeaux (line 4). You can book the tour online – just click here. Château Haut brion in Pessac You can reach it by bus line 4 from Place Tourny in Bordeaux. For more info click here. Château du Taillan in Le Taillan-Médoc You can reach it by bus line 5N from Place Tourny in Bordeaux. For more info click here.
Librairie Mollat – one of the oldest book stores in France
Librairie Mollat,a Bordelais establishment since 1896 is the first independent book store in France and is one of the most iconic shops in Bordeaux. It is situated on rue Porte-Dijeaux where the latest house of Montesquieu was once located.
Visit one of the most beautiful parks in Bordeaux – Parc Majolan
Parc Majolan in Blanquefort is a great example of beautiful landscape design. Following the paths in the park feels like walking through a forest but then you suddenly discover the ruins of an old gate, beautiful flowers, and finally a stunning lake. The best part of the park is the artificial caves created in the 19th century. This park is so rich that it will take you hours to explore it all!
The gigantic sand dune is one of the wonders of the area, with its 60 million metric cubes of sand it’s quite astonishing the first time you see it. Dune du Pilat is Europe’s tallest sand dune, rising to an impressive 110 m high while also being 500 meters wide and 2.7 km long so you’ll have plenty of room to wander. You can climb the dune by stairs that are installed from the end of May to early November. If you come during the low season or just feel energetic, you can just climb straight up the sandy slopes. Once you reach the top, a stunning panoramic view will be revealed with the Cap Ferret peninsula on one side, a huge pine forest on the other, and the magnificent Banc d’Arguin nature reserve just in front.
Discover the oyster farming villages of Cap Ferret
Cap Ferret is a peninsula on the Western part of Bassin d’Arcachon and has been traditionally known as a summer getaway for the French upper class. Although it’s been recently gaining popularity among tourists visiting the south of France, it has yet to lose its relaxing beach village atmosphere. The peninsula is known for its many oyster farming ports that are located in small charming villages such as L’herbe and Le Canon. You can rent a car and go on a full relaxing day in this little paradise. Eat oysters directly from the farmers, go on a walk along the bay beaches, take a bike and discover the pine forest, and go surf on the beaches of the Atlantic coast. Read about many other places to visit on Arcachon bay in my article about a day trip to Bassin d’Arcachon.
A day trip to Pessac
To discover all the treasures of Bordeaux you need to go out of Bordeaux center. Some of the most interesting things in the metropole can be found in Pessac, one of Bordeaux’s biggest suburbs. You can take a bike (or use the tram) and go on a full day of history, nature, wine, and street art in this beautiful historic town. I wrote an extensive guide on all you can see there, read all about it here.
Visit the chateau of Montesquieu
There are several historic castles in Gironde but there is one I particularly love and it’s located only 25 km south of Bordeaux. Château de la Brède was built in a Gothic style during the 13th to 16th centuries and is today surrounded by water-filled moats and an English garden. The Château is famous for being the place of birth of Montesquieu, the great French political philosopher. The interiors of the castle are only accessible through guided tours which take you through the main room, the guest room, and his beautiful library where he wrote many of his works. See more details here.
See contemporary art in a beautiful building
CAPC is the contemporary art museum of Bordeaux located in the chic Chartrons district. The museum is housed in an impressive former warehouse from the 19th century where commodities, traded down the river, used to be stored. In 1984 the city decided to transform this unique space into a museum of contemporary art, an idea that was very innovative at the time. In the permanent collection, there are almost 300 works of art and it regularly hosts temporary exhibitions that are dedicated to the history of art. I’ll admit that I’m not always a fan of their exhibitions, having said that, I think the place in itself is very impressive and worth a visit.
Taste the delicious dunes blanches
Last yummy thing before I finish my list! While most outsiders think of the canelé as our regional pastry, there’s another modern contestant that has become very popular amongst locals. The delicious dunes blanches were created in 2008 by the pastry chef Pascal Lucas in his patisserie in Cap Ferret. The little choux pastry filled with whipped cream became an immediate success with several dedicated shops opening up in Arcachon, Bordeaux, and Paris. In the center of Bordeaux, you can find them at 7 Rue de la Vieille Tour, 33000 Bordeaux
Where to stay in Bordeaux
Before we end I want to help out those who are looking for accommodation in Bordeaux! If you’re looking for a hotel, I have an article with recommendations about the best hotels in Bordeaux for different budgets. If you’re looking for an Airbnb or just want to understand where you should stay in Bordeaux, you should definitely read my Bordeaux districts guide.
Need more ideas for things to do in and around Bordeaux? you should definitely join my newsletter where I share a lot of info about the area – sign up here.
You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:
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*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂
La Rochelle, a vibrant port city on the Atlantic coast, has an amazing culinary scene with many seafood restaurants in its old port as well as great classic ones in the old city. In fact, there are so many great restaurants and cool bars in La Rochelle that it was hard to do anything but eat and drink during my last visit there. In this list, I chose some of my favorite restaurants and bars in La Rochelle that are quite affordable for most people. If you are looking for something fancy, try the 3-star Michelin Restaurant Christopher Coutanceau, which I haven’t tried yet but which many people have recommended to me. Let’s go and discover the best places to eat and drink in La Rochelle on your next trip there!
I will soon publish my article about the best things to do in La Rochelle, meanwhile, you can join my travel in the southwest of France Facebook group where you can find plenty of tips about La Rochelle and its surroundings.
Where to eat the best seafood in La Rochelle?
La Gerbe de Blé – for market lovers
If you follow my blog you know that I love market restaurants and that’s why La Gerbe de Ble was one of my favorite places to eat in La Rochelle. The main market of La Rochelle is an absolute must when visiting the city and its seafood section was one of the highlights of my visit. The restaurant gives you the option to buy seafood at the market stalls and eat it at the restaurant, you just have to pay for bread and wine 🙂 This is one of the best ways to enjoy the market!
Address: Marché Central, Rue Thiers, 17000 La Rochelle
Le Panier de Crabe – A proper seafood restaurant in La Rochelle
If you want a proper seafood restaurant with big trays full of crabs, oysters, huge shrimps, and many other creatures from the bottom of the ocean this is the place for you. Le Panier de Crabe in the historic center of La Rochelle is one of the most popular restaurants among locals, especially in the summer so be sure to book in advance (phone for reservations 09 53 56 59 97).
Address: 9 Rue de la Fourche, 17000 La Rochelle
Le P’tit Bleu – a fun place at the port of La Rochelle
Le P’tit Bleu was one of my favorite seafood restaurants in La Rochelle because it has a food truck vibe (which I love) but in a boat. The blue boat is located on one of the docks of the old port of la Rochelle, close to la Tour de la Chaine with its tables spread on the quai next to the docking boats. The place has a delicious seafood menu where you can find amazing oysters, sardines, and mussels besides other delicacies.
Address: Cours des Dames, 17000 La Rochelle
Le Comptoir Saoufé – oysters in the evening
If you’re looking for a place for an apero with a plate of oysters this is your place in La Rochelle. Le Comptoir Saoufé, located on one of the narrow streets in the hyper center of La Rochelle, has a small menu of seafood and tapas and is a perfect place for a night out or a pre-dinner apero.
Address: 12 Rue du Port, 17000 La Rochelle
Other places to eat in La Rochelle
Chez Albert – light lunch or a coffee break
Chez Albert is a very chic cafe in the market neighborhood with plenty of comfy and inviting sofas to sip your coffee on. If you need a light lunch munching a salad/quiche or a coffee break this is definitely the place. Their coffee is great and they have a wonderful menu for a more healthy lunch.
Address: 3 Rue Gargoulleau, 17000 La Rochelle
Cafe de la Paix – The beautiful one
The classic Cafe de la Paix was created in 1793 under the name Cafe Militaire and changed to its current name in 1990. The beautiful cafe with its art deco design is classified as a historic monument in France and is worth a visit even just for a drink.
Address: 54 Rue Chaudrier, 17000 La Rochelle
Heading now to the chic Saint Nicolas district, to the very cool Prao restaurant. Prau is focused on very fresh cuisine and local producers and has a very fun and young design to complement the menu. It is also an art place with exhibitions changing every month.
Address: 10 Rue Saint-Nicolas, 17000 La Rochelle
Bars not to miss in La Rochelle
La Guignette, located in the Saint Nicola districts is a real La Rochelle institution. Every evening, groups of friends of all ages gather around barrel tables to drink the specialty of the place, the red drink called La Guignette Rouge. It is a locals’ favorite so be sure to be early to find a table.
Address: 8 Rue Saint-Nicolas, 17000 La Rochelle
Terrasse de la Chaîne
This cute bar, owned by the Prao group of restaurants is one of the best locations for a drink with a view. The bar is located in one of the famous La Rochelle towers, Tour de la Chaine, and its terrasse view covers both the ocean and the port of La Rochelle.
The purple Périgord (Périgord Pourpre in French) is located in the southwest part of the Dordogne region, with Bergerac as its capital. The region draws its name from its famous vineyards, being the second-largest wine region in Nouvelle Aquitaine after Bordeaux. And while the most visited part of Dordogne is actually the Black Périgord, this beautiful region should not be overlooked. It is a land full of rich gastronomic traditions, old medieval villages, rivers, and impressive castles. Discovering little charming villages, getting lost in the narrow paved streets, and tasting local specialties at the weekly market is my favorite part about traveling in France and this part of Dordogne has plenty of that to offer. In this article, I gathered the most charming beautiful villages in Purple Périgord in Dordogne as well as some tips on what to see there. For my Bordeaux readers, most of the places mentioned in this list are located within less than two hours’ drive from Bordeaux so remember this list next time you’re in search of a fun day trip (you can also pin it – look on the pin at the bottom of the article).
Here are some other day trip ideas from Bordeaux you might want to read about:
Eymet – a lively bastide town
Eymet is a typical bastide town founded in the 13th century by Alphonse de Poitiers, Comte de Toulouse. Bastide towns, recognized by their arched central squares were created from the 12th to the 14th century in the southwest of France by both the French and English kings. These were new towns (or “villes neuves” in French) built to encourage settlements of empty areas. There are many of them in the old Gascony region with most being small sleepy towns. Eymet, however, is a rather lively little town with plenty of restaurants and a small cultural scene. This cute village is located about 25 km from Bergerac and 100 km from Bordeaux making it a fun day trip from Bordeaux as well.
You can read more about all you can see, eat and visit in and around Eymet in my article about my day trip to Eymet.
Issigeac – known for its market
Visiting a good market is a must when visiting this part of France and Issigeac is famous exactly for that. Every Sunday the charming village hosts one of Dordogne’s best markets, with tens of stalls carrying the best products this region has to offer spread over the town’s narrow alleyways. The village itself is a beautiful circular town that was able to preserve many of its historic 13th-18th century buildings and is thus worth a few hours trip even if you’re visiting it on a non-market day. If you do visit on Sundays be sure to get there before 11:00 as the center gets pretty busy with local flocking to the market. There are quite a few cute coffee places in the city center, for those of you who need a break in the middle of your shopping. Issigeac is located about 20 minutes’ drive from Bergerac.
Monpazier – one of the most beautiful villages of France
Monpazier is one of the most impressive bastide towns in the southwest of France, labeled as one of France’s most beautiful villages. The town is considered a bastide model town as it stayed untouched since its creation in 1284. Today you can spot a few cafés, restaurants, and boutiques blending perfectly under the arches of the main square of Monpazier. A nice weekly market takes place at the main square every Thursday, a tradition they keep for the last 700 years.
The Bastideum museum on the main square will help you discover the history of Monpazier, describing its special architecture, important events in its past as well as how life used to look there during the middle ages. Monpazier is located on the east side of Perigord Pourpre and can be combined with visits to either Bergerac or Sarlat.
Limeuil – one of the most beautiful views
I dare to say that Limeuil is the most beautiful village in the region of purple Périgord, or at least the one with the most beautiful views. Like Monpazier, it was also named one of the most beautiful villages in France, so I guess I’m not the only one to think that way. Limeuil is a medieval town, built at the confluence of the Dordogne and Vézère rivers and used to be an important port town. You can spend a full day here, exploring the stone houses on the small side streets rising from the banks of the river to the top of the hill.
If there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss in Limeuil is its beautiful panoramic garden (Jardins Panoramiques de Limeuil). Apart from the impressive landscapes of the garden, you’ll also get to enjoy a stunning panoramic view of both the Dordogne and Vézère Rivers.
If you’re up to something more active you can go kayaking on one of the rivers. Aquafun Canoes Dordogne, which is located on the port of Limeuil is one of the companies offering kayaking and canyoning in this region (see other kayaking options in my article about kayaking in Dordogne). If you find yourself going to Limeuil on a hot day, you can cross the Dordogne river to the other side and enjoy the nice little beach called Plage de Limeuil.
Limeuil is situated on the border between the purple and black Perigord regions (Perigord Pourpre and Perigord noir) and so can be easily visited from anywhere in Dordogne.
Lalinde – a magical spot on the river
Another beautiful village on the Dordogne river that’s worth a visit is Lalinde. Located about 30 minutes’ drive from Bergerac this picturesque town was actually the first English ruled bastide town in the region. The best day to visit Lalinde is on Thursdays when its famous market takes place (active since the 13th century!). Lalinde is also a great starting point for a hike or a biking trip along the river.
Beaumont de Périgord – the center of Purple Périgord
Beaumont de Périgord (which is now officially a part of Beaumontois-en-Périgord) is a cute little village located in the heart of the Purple Périgord region. It’s a rather typical village for this area, with a central arched square and several streets adorned with pretty houses. Its most noticeable monument is the medieval fortified church, Église Saint-Laurent-et-Saint-Front.It’s a bit less lively than some of the other villages but still a very nice stop if it’s on your way. In the summer it hosts a great night market with live music every Monday.
There are of course many more cute and picturesque villages in this part of Dordogne so this list is most definitely not exclusive. However, the few on this list are more preserved and lively than other villages in Périgord Pourpre and thus make for a great day trip. My biggest tip here would be to not skip tourist offices in this region, they usually have a map with all the most interesting monuments and buildings to see in the town. That will add some interest and depth to your visit which is important in a rich history region like the southwest of France.
Arcachon is one of the most popular destinations in France. Beautiful beaches, cute villages, amazing oysters, and the proximity to Bordeaux make it the perfect place for a summer vacation. While there are manygoodhotels in Arcachon, many people prefer to go to camping sites which offer plenty of activities, especially for kids. Here are some of the best camping sites in Arcachon (in Cap Ferret and next to Dune du Pilat), recommended by me and my avid traveler friends in my Travel in the Southwest of France group. Before going there be sure to read my articles about What to do and eat in Arcachon and the best places to visit in Arcachon and Cap Ferret.
Camping sites in Cap Ferret
Camping Aux Couleurs du ferret
This is one of the nicest campsites around Arcachon Bay, located in the northern part of the Cap Ferret peninsula, close to the port towns of Ares and Andernos les Bains. Camping Aux Couleurs du ferret is very family-friendly, with a big playground and a bike rental service, which is the perfect way to discover some of the beaches in Cap Ferret. This is a great camping site for people looking for a quiet holiday close to the beach. If you’re looking for more entertainment, go on to the other options on this list. Book your stay here.
Where: 101 Avenue du Médoc, 33950 Lège-Cap-Ferret
Camping Village Sublu Les Viviers – Maeva
If you want to have the full Cap Ferret experience this is the place for you. The Les Viviers camping site is located at the heart of the Cap Ferret peninsula, next to the le Four village, surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches of Arcachon Bay. The Camping has a private beach and offers a lot of different sports activities and a huge outdoor pool. It’s located just next to the cycling path of Cap Ferret which allows you to get to the ocean beach in 15 minutes. Book your stay here.
This camping is located just a few steps from one of the best ocean beaches in Cap Ferret, le Truc Vert. It’s set up in the midst of a beautiful pine forest, which makes it one of the most idyllic locations on our list. Camping le Truc Vert offers many amenities like restaurants, shops, a play area for kids, different events and more. This is a perfect place for campers but offers no mobile houses like some other camping sites on this list so you need to bring your own camper van or tent. Book your stay here.
Where: Route du Truc-Vert – 33950 Lège-Cap-Ferret Ocean
Best Camping sites near la Dune du Pilat(the Dune of Pilat)
Camping Panorama du Pyla
One of the most popular groups of camping sites in France, the Yelloh campsites, has a great site just at the foot of the Dune du Pilat. Camping Panorama runs a kids club during the summer for kids over 5yo. They offer plenty of services such as bike rentals and a restaurant with a beautiful view of the beach.
Book your stay here. Where: Route de Biscarrosse, 33115 La Teste-de-Buch
Camping La Forêt (Camping La Forêt du Pilat Tohapi)
Another fun place right at the base of Dune du Pyla is Camping La Forêt. The campsite has several types of accommodations such as air-conditioned cabins, mobile homes, parking for camping cars, and more. They offer plenty of entertainment options such as free activities for kids over 4 years old and disco nights and concerts for adults.
Book your night here. Where: Route d’Arcachon À Biscarrosse, 33115 La Teste-de-Buch
Another good option just next to the famous dune is Pyla Camping which offers several accommodation options: mobile homes, furnished lodge tents or pitches for camper vans, caravans, and tents. Pyla Camping is one of the best places in terms of entertainment with activities such as sports tournaments, mountain biking, horse riding, and karaoke nights. The facilities are not as good as some of the other campings on this list, but the prices are very affordable and it’s generally a fun experience. If you bring your own tent the price is less than 20 euros a night. Book your night here.
*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂
Armagnac, like its more famous sister Cognac, is also produced in the southwest of France. However, most people are not aware that this region, located less than two hours’ drive from Bordeaux, is one of the gems of the region, priding itself with charming medieval villages ancient chateaux, and family-owned distilleries. this beautiful region. Bas Armagnac (the lower Armagnac) is located in the heart of the Landes department, about 120 km to the southwest from Bordeaux, which makes it a perfect day trip. In this article, you will discover the best things to do in the Bas Armagnac area in the Landes department. I’ll take you to the most beautiful villages in Armagnac, help you find distilleries to visit, and suggest the perfect day trip to the Landes. Let’s start!
Armagnac is actually produced in three different departments in the southwest of France: Les Landes, Gers, and Lot et Garonne, representing a large part of the old Gascony. The whole 15,000 hectares region is divided into three producing districts: Bas-Armagnac, Armagnac-Ténarèze, and Haut-Armagnac, each with their appellations and methods of production. I’m not going to dwell on the details of how Armagnac is made as I’m not an expert, that is something you will learn by visiting one of the distilleries I write about in this article. What I will talk about is how to have an amazing day visiting Armagnac. For the sake of this article, I focused only on the Bas Armagnac district which is the closest one to Bordeaux (or Bayonne for those coming from the Basque country). Armagnac-Ténarèze and Haut-Armagnac are equally beautiful and interesting to visit for those who have more time.
La Bastide d’Armagnac is a classic bastide town with a central arched square (Place Royal) that was built at the end of the 13th century by the Count of Armagnac, Bernard VI. This is one of the more lively villages in this part of the Landes department. In the main square, you’ll find several restaurants and coffee places as well as an Armagnac shop so if you don’t have time to visit a distillery, this is a good place for tastings. The main square is surrounded by many narrow streets with old wooden houses, most of which are the original houses, adding to the authenticity of the village.
Apart from the beautiful center, there are a few things to do around La Bastide d’Armagnac. When visiting there don’t miss the Chapel Notre-Dame de Cyclistes, a cute little church located in a very serene setting and dedicated to cyclists. Also just next to the village you can find the Ecomusee de l’Armagnac. The museum is dedicated to the history of Armagnac making and will help you discover all the techniques, tools, and different crafts that went into making this lucrative spirit over the centuries. It’s also a fun place to visit with kids as you can take them for a walk in the beautiful park on the domain.
Less than five km from La Bastide d’Armagnac you’ll find another beautiful village called Saint Justin. Here the central square is quite simple and doesn’t give away the charm of this little town, but a short stroll will make you fall in love with Saint Justin. My favorite part is the string of beautiful houses covered with flowers peacefully overlooking the little river that crosses the town. The calming sound of the stream can bring you into a very deep level of tranquility, which is something all of us badly need right now 🙂
If at this point you’re starting to be hungry, Saint Justin is a great place to stop for lunch or dinner. Along the main street, Allée Gaston Phoebus, you’ll find several good restaurants. One that I particularly liked was Le Cadet de Gascogne.
Mauvezin d’Armagnac is a small village located just next to La Bastide d’Armagnac. It’s very small without any specific monuments but there are a few beautiful old houses with wooden fronts in the center and it’s worth a short stop on the way.
Another beautiful town in Lower Armagnac is Roquefort, not to be confused with the famous blue cheese that is produced in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in Aveyron (I’m sure plenty of visitors pass by wondering where all the Roquefort producers are hiding). This little town is somewhat overlooked but it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re traveling to the Bas Armagnac region. Roquefort, founded in the 10th century, is a fortified town situated on the road to Vézelay (one of the roads to Camino de Santiago). There are a few points of interest I recommend seeing when visiting the town, among them the beautiful Eglise Saint Marie, the bridges, and the 1949 art deco building, the foyer municipal. The best day to visit Roquefort is Saturday when the weekly market takes place on Avenue des Arenes.
Visiting distilleries in Armagnac
If you made it all the way to the Bas-Armagnac region I would highly recommend visiting at least one Armagnac distillery. Unlike Cognac, here in Bas – Armagnac most of the distilleries are still owned by small families which are usually eager to host and talk about their Armagnac. It’s always inspiring to meet people who are so devoted to the complicated process of producing Armagnac and the visits are usually quite enriching.
I should warn you that visiting an Armagnac Chateau is a bit more complicated than visiting wineries around Bordeaux, which are more tourism-oriented. Here they don’t have a lot of visits and so they don’t have people to welcome visitors. This means that you usually need to call them in advance and ask for a private visit, especially if you are visiting outside the touristic season. Having said that, many of them will gladly welcome you to their distilleries so don’t hesitate to call. Here are two places I recommend visiting (there are many more of course).
Chateau de Lacquy
The beautiful Chateau de Lacquy is the oldest Armagnac house in the Bas-Armagnac region. The Chateau is owned by the de Boisséson family that has been producing Armagnac since acquiring the property in 1711. We were welcomed by the owner, Gilles de Boisséson, who gave us a very interesting and extensive tour of the vineyards and the cellars and served us so many glasses straight from the barrels that my husband finished the tour quite “pompette” as they say in French. On our private tour, Gilles shared a few fascinating family stories with us, including the part his grandmother took in the French resistance during WW2. You can contact them through their site to book a tour. The owner speaks English which makes communication very easy.
Chateau de Ravignan
Chateau de Ravignan is a family property, built in the 17th century in the Louis XIII style and is labeled a historic monument. The Ravignan family has been occupying the place and producing Armagnac there since 1732. Apart from tasting Armagnac and visiting the cellars, you can also take a guided tour in the impressive chateau and discover the history of the family through their art, furniture, and decorations. The chateau is surrounded by beautiful French gardens that can be visited separately from the chateau.
This chateau is open daily in the summer so you don’t need to call ahead if you want to visit the chateau itself. However, if you want to do some tastings it’s better to contact them in advance. All the details are here.
Taste Floc de Gascogne
Before I end my article about a day trip to Armagnac I want to talk about another spirit you should taste there. While Armagnac is quite a familiar name among spirit lovers, Floc de Gascogne is a much more local drink that’s popular mostly in the Southwest of France. Floc de Gascogne is a regional aperitif, a vin de liqueur fortified with Armagnac which is mostly consumed in the old Gascony region where Armagnac is produced. Many of the Armagnac houses produce Floc de Gascogne as well so if Armagnac is a bit too strong for you, try this drink. I’m sure you’ll love it!
La Fete de la Distillation
In case you missed the summer season, you can visit the region in November during Fete de la Distillation. The Fete de la Distillation takes place every November when the new Armagnac is being born after the harvest season. This year (2020) Chateau de Ravignan will celebrate la Fete de la Distillation on November 21-22, see all the details here. For more details about these events in other domains please contact the tourist office of Bas Armagnac directly through their site.
The Bas Armagnac (lower Armagnac) is best visited during summer as it’s not very lively outside of the tourist season and many places tend to be closed. However, some of the villages are still nice to visit on Saturdays and most chateaux will welcome you if you call them a bit in advance.
Hope you enjoyed this article and marked Armagnac in your to-go list. When you go there, don’t forget to tag me in your posts and stories on Facebook (@Lostinbordeaux) and Instagram (@Lost_in_Bordeaux).
Did you know that the smallest village in France is located in Gironde, the department of Bordeaux? Castermoron d’Albret is a tiny village of only 3.5 hectares, located in the Entre Deux Mers wine region, about an hour drive from Bordeaux. Entre Deux Mers is sometimes called the Tuscany of France due to its scenic landscape of hills and vineyards. In this article, I am going to tell you why you should really consider visiting it on your trip to the Bordeaux region! At the end of the article, you can find other recommendations of villages worth visiting on the way.
Being the smallest village in France is a nice title but is it really worth an hour’s drive? In the case of Castelmoron d’Albret, the answer is definitely yes! The medieval town is brimming with charm and beauty with old houses covered with eclectic pots filled with colorful flowers. No house is the same here, every window, shutter, and door have its particularity and will make you stop and admire the beauty. There are almost no signs of modern life here, no cars, no sidewalks, just flowers, and pure charm. It looks so authentic that it feels like it got stuck in time. Mind you, it didn’t go unnoticed by French moviemakers who shot several period movies here.
There are only about 50 people living here and even with some tourists wandering around, the village feels calm and peaceful, you can barely hear any noise here. I believe that my kids are the loudest thing this village has ever known 🙂
What to see in Catelmoron d’Albret?
There aren’t any important monuments you should see here and that’s kind of the beauty of it. Take your time to stroll the captivating streets of the village, smell the flowers, admire the stone houses, pass through the narrow corridors between the four streets of the village. Despite its tiny size we somehow managed to spend three hours there. I have to mention though, that we travel with kids who stop to pick up every stone and leaf so for most people, it would probably be a nice tour of about a 1.5h. The village is situated on a hill, so don’t miss the beautiful view from the little green square located next to the Halles. Another spot not to miss is the old lavoirs (wash house) located on the footsteps of the village. You will see it on the left when you enter the village from the main street, the Grande rue. In this map you can see all the places worths paying attention to.
The are only three businesses in this village. The most interesting is the pottery workshop of Cécile and Christophe, which is both a shop and a workshop where they host groups. They also have a little tea garden just next to the workshop.
There’s also Serge the silversmith with his big workshop that specializes in fixing agricultural equipment. And finally, you can also visit the Bar- Brocant of Pierre located at the entrance to the village.
If you love hiking there are two great hiking trails you can do from the village. One is a short 5km trail called Boucle locale du moulin and a longer one Boucle locale de l’etang which is 10km long. You can see signs in the villages leading in the direction of the trails. Or use the instructions on the official site of the village (in French) – find them here.
When to visit Catelmoron d’Albret?
The best time to visit this and other villages in the region is spring! All the flowers are blossoming with roses climbing all over the medieval houses. Just that will make you fall in love with the Southwest of France!
However, in Castelmoron d’Albret, Christmas is also a special time and if you’re in the region try to plan a trip here. Every Christmas, the couple from the pottery shop are installing one of the most impressive Crèche de Noël (nativity scene) in the church of the village and most windows on the main street are decorated with little characters from the creche. It creates an amazing atmosphere that gives this village even more charm.
What else to do around Castelmoron d’Albret?
Castelmoron d’Albret is a perfect half a day trip but if you made the effort to get here from Bordeaux you may want to visit one of the other villages, towns or sites in the region. There’s a lot to visit in this part of the Southwest of France, Here are some suggestions:
Sauveterre-de-Guyenne – just seven minutes’ drive from Castelmoron d’Albret and you’ll arrive to one of the most important towns in Entre Deux Mers. The town was founded in the 13th century and is one of the many bastide towns located in this region of France. You’ll see its impressive entrance gate from the road, it’s hard to miss.
La Réole – a small hilly town situated on the banks of the Garonne river located about 14 km from Castelmoron d’Albret and about 50 km from Bordeaux. It’s one of the most impressive towns in the South of Gironde and has a great market every Saturday. For more beautiful villages in the region check out my article about the most beautiful villages in Gironde.
Duras – you can also continue a bit further to Duras, a town located in the Lot et Garonne department, about 17 km away from Castelmoron d’Albret. The most important monument in Duras is Chateau de Duras, a very impressive castle with a magnificent view of the Dropt valley.
Sauve Majeurs – if you’re looking to stop somewhere closer to Bordeaux, this is the place to go. The Abbaye de la Sauve Majeure built in the 11th and 12th centuries is located just midway between Bordeaux and Castelmoron d’Albret. The ruin of the ancient abbey is a historic site that appears on the UNESCO list of protected heritage sites. It was an important religious site until the Hundred Years’ War and was destroyed during the French revolution. Next to it, you can find the Maison du Vin of Entre Deux Mers which can help you with information about different wineries in the region.
In the last year, with Covid restrictions, we started doing much more hiking than before, which I’m very happy with. However my kids are still small, so a not very well-planned trip usually turns into a whining journey and ends with me and my husband carrying them half the way. That is why in the last few months I did a lot of research to find kids-friendly walking paths in Gironde. In this article, I chose the hiking trails I enjoyed most when traveling with my kids. Most of them had also longer trails which you can enjoy with older kids that can walk longer distances.
I have to warn you though that some parts of most of the trails are not very stroller friendly so if you are hiking with babies I strongly recommend bringing a carrier with you. In any case, for stroller-friendly hiking I recommend going to the parks of Bordeaux, you can discover the best ones in my article about the most beautiful parks of Bordeaux. Also, check out my article about the best hiking trails around Bordeaux for additional locations in our beautiful region.
If you’re interested in more ideas for things to do with kids in the region I invite you to follow me on Facebook/Instagram. Now let’s start! let’s dive into family-friendly hiking trails around Bordeaux!
Family-friendly hiking in Bordeaux Metropole
The city center itself is very friendly for kids but here I’m mostly going to talk about trails in nature so I didn’t include it.
Ecosite du Bourgailh in Pessac
One of the most pleasant and kids friendly hiking trails in Bordeaux is located in Pessac. The Ecosite of Bourgailh is not just a park, it’s a universe of plants put together in a great landscape design. The area of the Foret du Bourgailh includes a 2.6 km walking trail, the largest tropical greenhouse in the region, sports facilities, a skate park, an amphitheater, a zoo, and a really fun wooden animal theme playground.
Parc Floral, located in the north part of Bordeaux is part of the Réserve écologique des Barails, a beautiful natural reserve spreading over 156 hectares. The reserve consists of different parts each with its own characteristic: the forest, the park, the meadows, the wetlands, and the ecological corridors. All of them are great for hiking but the one that kids love the most is Parc Floral.
The park starts with beautiful flowers and continues to the surprising twin cities gardens with sculptures and structures donated by some of Bordeaux’s twin cities like Ashdod (in Israel), Fukuoka (Japan), and Casablanca (Morocco). Kids usually use the twin gardens as a playground, climbing and running around the different statues. The most magical part of Parc Floral is the Torrent de Montagne, a mountain river with stones from the Pyrénées.
Parc Floral is located in the Bordeaux Lac neighborhood and to get there straight without passing the forest first you will need to enter through entree roseraie (next to the Golf de Bordeaux Lac). Before heading there check out the information about the different entrances and parking spots on the official site of Bordeaux.
Hiking with kids in Arcachon
Arcachon is heaven when it comes to hiking with kids. Everything is flat, the landscape changes a lot depending on the timing of your arrival and it has a rich flora and fauna to explore during your trip. There’s also always the option of going to the beach at the end to motivate kids to finish the trail. Here are some of the best family-friendly hiking trails in Arcachon.
The Domain of Certes-Graveyron
If you want to explore the nature of Bassin d’Arcachon at its best, Domain of Certes Graveyron in Audenge is the place to go. Located at the very heart of the Arcachon Bay, this natural reserve of 530 hectares is an amazing place for hiking with kids no matter what age they are. There are several trails you can take to discover the salt meadows and the migrating birds passing through Arcachon. The most kids-friendly one is Boucle de Graveyron, a 5.5 km circular hiking trail that goes through some of the animal farms in the region, the cute port of Audenge, the Audenge beach, and the blue colored salt marshes.
What I especially love about the Domaine de Certes is that it looks different every time you visit it. Due to its location at the heart of the Bay, the reserve completely changes its looks depending on the tide hours during the day of your visit so every visit there feels like you’re exploring a new location. The reserve is free and can be visited whenever you want. Bicycles are not allowed on the walking paths of Domain de Certes et Graveyron. There are maps and good trail markings on site.
Réserve Naturelle Nationale des Prés Salés d’Arès
La Réserve des prés salés d’Arès is a huge natural reserve that offers several short and long hiking trails. The hiking starts at the port of Arès which is a nice place to stop for a plate of oysters before you hit the road 🙂 The most family-friendly trail is the 4.5km Boucle d’Arès, a path that goes along the salt meadows and then continues in a beautiful forest. The one downside is that this path ends on a road so you have to walk a bit along passing cars. However as the road is in the village itself, the few cars passing there are driving quite slow so it doesn’t really ruin the experience.
Les Prés Salés Ouest
Prés Salés Ouest is another beautiful natural reserve, located on the other side of the Bassin d’Arcachon in La Teste de Buch. I love recommending this one to parents with small kids as it’s one of the only stroller-friendly hiking paths in the region. You can start the 2.2km trail from the port of Teste de Buch or from the Avenue du Général Leclerc (you will see a big parking from the road).
We started hiking when the tide was still quite low and finished it when it started to rise, the change in the landscape was spectacular. If you want to make it even more fun, stop at the port for some fresh oysters. The entrance is free and open for cycling as well.
Hiking with kids in other parts of Gironde
Réserve Naturelle des Dunes et Marais D’Hourtin
Let’s now move to the Medoc region which offers a lot of great hiking trails. Hourtin is the biggest lake in Gironde surrounded by beautiful beaches and a lot of natural spaces. The Réserve Naturelle des Dunes et Marais D’hourtin is located at the northern point of the lake. It offers several trails which are all quite easy to do with kids, with the shortest one being the green path (Le Sentier de la Lobelie), a 2 km path along the lake. If it’s hot enough, finish your day at the beach nearby! To start the hiking trail park your car at the Piqueyrot beach.
You can see more details about all the trails in that reserve here.
Lac Bleu and Lac Vert
I love hiking around lakes! I think that water in combination with the greenery around it gives it a very meditational vibe 🙂 Luckily there are a few beautiful lakes in Gironde where you can have a lovely walk and admire the colors of the water. The first one is Lac Vert (the green lake) in Canejan and the second one is Lac Bleu (the blue lake) in Leognan, both located about 15/20 minutes’ drive from Bordeaux. Their names derive from the color of the water and they are both stunning. They are both great to visit with kids, although the green one is easier to do with strollers. If you have a dog, they would love Lac Blue!
Forêt de Migelane
Forêt de Migelane is a 280 hectares forest situated on parts of the Saucats, Martillac, and la Brède towns in Southern Gironde. The calm forest has several hiking trails to offer, from the most kids-friendly one we have la Petite Boucle circular (1.4 km), La Petite Boucle circular trail to la Balade Forestière (2.7 km), la Balade Géologique (5.2 km) and la Grande Balade (6.5 km). See more info here.
Bordeaux is a lively city throughout the year, with plenty of restaurants, pubs, and wine bars where you can grab a drink every day of the week (well Mondays are kind of tough, but you can still find a spot for an apero). In the summer, however, Bordeaux takes it up a notch and becomes one of the coolest summer places in France. Plenty of rooftops, terrace cafes, and open bars are surging all over the city making the city extra chic. Most of the summer bars in Bordeaux are open only during the summer (duh!) and some only for a short period during the season, so you have a limited time to enjoy them. Some are more posh and chic, other more simple and chill but they are all super fun to hang out in during the summer in Bordeaux. In this list, I included some of my favorite rooftops and terraces all over Bordeaux metropole so you won’t necessarily have to get to Bordeaux center to enjoy the Bordelaise summer vibes.
*IMPORTANT NOTE: due to Covid 19 restrictions, only six people/table are allowed and there’s a limited amount of people these bars can host, so be sure to reserve your table as soon as possible.
Here’s a list of the best places summer bars in Bordeaux for a perfect cocktails evening or an afternoon apero!
Summer bars in Bordeaux
Mama Shelter – the chic rooftop
Mama Shelter is probably the most popular summer rooftop bar in Bordeaux. It has a funky design and many original cocktails but I believe its location should also get a lot of credit for its popularity. It’s one of the only rooftops in the center of Bordeaux, located just next to the Cathedral Saint André, and it has one of the best views of the city. If you come during evening hours, booking in advance is recommended. For reservations click here.
Address: 19 Rue Poquelin Molière, 33000 Bordeaux
One of the most exciting places to open up this summer in Bordeaux is Gina, a rooftop bar, an Italian restaurant, and a coffee shop located in the new Renaissance hotel in the Bassin a flot district. One of the highlights of this stylish place is the swimming pool in the middle of the rooftop bar, which will open at the end of June. The place is open seven days a week and on weekends offers a brunch as well. The restaurant requires a prior reservation, you can book here. For more details check out their Facebook page. Address: Place des Millésimes, 33300 Bordeaux
La Guinguette chez Alriq – the best tavern in town
La guinguette chez Alriq is one of my favorite places in Bordeaux and its opening event is for me signaling the beginning of the Bordelais summer! The Guinguette is a big tavern located on the right banks of the Garonne at the Bastide neighborhood, hosting plenty of open-air concerts every summer. The performing bands and artists are coming from all over the world and create a laid-back party atmosphere. There’s usually a small price to pay for the concerts taking place on Wed-Sat and on Sundays the entry is free. You can see their program here. The place is very popular so expect to see a line at the entrance.
Address: ZA Quai des Queyries, Port Bastide, 33100 Bordeaux
Les Chantiers de la Garonne
Just next door to La guinguette chez Alriq you can find one of Bordeaux’s best-hidden gems. Les Chantiers de la Garonne is an old hangar turned into a sailing club and a restaurant with one of the best outdoor spaces in Bordeaux. The restaurant is located on the banks of the Garonne river and the outdoor space feels like a real beach with plenty of low tables on fine white sand and fresh seafood with cold bottles of white wine. You can find more info about the restaurant and other activities proposed by the Chantiers de la Garonne here.
Address: 21 Quai de Queyries, 33100 Bordeaux
Les Planches Éphémères
Les Planches Éphémères is the new cool kid on the block. A huge outdoor bar, located at the hippodrome of Bordeaux in La Bouscat. The place offers two bars, a dj set, and a huge chill-out area under the trees. The place is open every day until September 19. Check out their site for more info.
Address: 8 Avenue de l’Hippodrome, 33110 Le Bouscat
Plage de L’IBOAT
The Iboat is a three-level ferry spanning 687m2, anchored to one of the docks of Bassins a flot and mostly known as a concert venue. During the summer they also open their “beach”, a fun outdoor space on the banks of the Bassin a flot with a bar, comfy sofas, and varying outdoor events. La Plage de L’IBOAT is definitely one of the best summer bars in Bordeaux for an afternoon drink! You can see the list of concerts and events here. This year they are planning to open a second outdoor space (starting June 17th) that will be called Blonde Venus with cool features like a kids corner and a vintage shop, see more details here.
For more cool places to visit in the Bassin a flot area check out my article about the Bacalan district. Address: Bassin à Flot n°1, Cours Henri Brunet, 33300 Bordeaux.
Another comeback from last year is the popular tavern (they call themselves a beer garden 🙂 ) called Le Solztice. The outdoor bar is located close to Bordeaux’s main train station, in the Belcier district which has been gaining a lot of hype in the last two years. Solztice is an associative bar that offers plenty of cool features like food trucks, live concerts, pétanque and more. The place is about to open its doors on June 11, for more details click here. Address: 147 Rue des Terres de Borde, 33800 Bordeaux
If you didn’t have enough reasons to go to Bassin a flot, here’s another one. Effet Mer is a fun summer bar, located just next to the Base Sous-Marine. This cool place is open seven days a week and offers daily life concerts and dj sets. For more details click here.
Address: 280 Boulevard Alfred Daney, 33300 Bordeaux
Terrasse 14 – a pop-up bar
Terrasse 14, on the rooftop of Hangar 14, was last summer’s coolest place to be. Besides an amazing view on the Garonne river, this place had all the hipster 101 kit 🙂 A cool bar, a petanque court, great local beers, wines, and tapas, and a lot of chic bordelaise people. I was excited to read that the bar is going to reopen again this summer at the end of June, for more details follow their facebook page. The bar will close its doors at the beginning of September.
Address: Hangar 14, Quai des Chartrons, Bordeaux
This isn’t specifically a Bordeaux summer bar but it’s one of my favorite Terraces in Bordeaux all year long (when it’s not raining of course). For those who’re not familiar with the place, Utopia is an independent cinema theater, installed in an ancient church, l’église du Vieux Bordeaux. At the entrance to this beautiful building, you’ll find le Cafe Utopia, a nice bistro, and a good place to take your laptop for a few hours of work. However, the best part is the terrace which has plenty of tables on one of the liveliest squares in Bordeaux, Place Camille Jullian. If you’re looking for a nice, simple place for a drink in the center of the city, this one is recommended.
Address : 5 Place Camille Jullian, 33000 Bordeaux
Rooftops and Terraces in Bordeaux Metropole
Domaine de Raba
The beautiful chateau of Domaine de Raba is well hidden in a residential neighborhood in Talence. This place is a bit hard to describe as it has everything from a spa to a fancy restaurant, a bar, and different events like cinema nights and morning yoga. About two years ago, the Domain de Raba opened an outdoor bar called the Tiki Bar. The menu of the bar changes every week and it has many special evenings with Dj sets and concerts. Booking in advance is recommended, you can do it online here. This year the bar will reopen its doors on June 9.
Address: 35 Rue Rémi Belleau, 33400 Talence
Les Halles de Talence
The Talence market is the little brother of the Bacalan market, built by Biltoki in December 2018. Inside the market, you can find a very good cheese stand, tapas, Moroccan food, sushi, oysters, and more. The prices are a bit high except for the bar, which has a great variety of wines at a decent price. The best part, however, is the outdoor area! Plenty of tables are spread in the afternoon between the market and the other restaurants in the Forum and you can enjoy a really fun apero or dinner with a very local vibe. I live in Talence so this is actually my favorite place for a Friday apero!
If you want to avoid going to the city center the Canopée Café is a great option! The Canopée Café in Merignac has both an indoor restaurant (open for lunch and dinner) and a very chic rooftop with a huge selection of cocktails and a petanque court, called the Bodega. This rooftop is located in the industrial zone in Merignac and thus lacks the beautiful view of Bordeaux’s rooftop bars but the place itself is super chic and there’s plenty of parking :). All the details are here.
Address: Face Mérignac Soleil, 1 Chemin de Pouchon, 33700 Mérignac
La Laiterie – a new garden bar
Another summer bar in Talence! It’s starting to look like a “Bars in Talence list” but it’s just because I live here :). La Laiterie in Talence is a beautiful outdoor bar hidden in a wild green garden. Once/Twice a week they also have concerts, for those you must book your place in advance – all the details (as well as their opening hours) are here.
Address: Impasse Vieille Tour, 33400 Talence
You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here: