You don’t need to rent a car or travel far from Bordeaux to have a fun and enriching day trip. Some of this region’s treasures can be found in Pessac, one of Bordeaux’s biggest suburbs. Just jump on a tram or your bike and enjoy a full day of history, nature, wine, and street art in a beautiful historic town. The trip I planned is best done by bike but you can also do it by foot, car, or public transport.
Here are all the places I’m going to discuss in this article:
Start your day in the center of Pessac, next to the Pessac Centre tram station. It is one of the liveliest city centers in Bordeaux metropole, with plenty of restaurants, coffee places, and excellent food shops. Here are some of my favorite places in the center of Pessac:
Eat and Coffee – If you want to start your day with coffee or a light lunch, head to the chic coffee shop Eat and Coffee at 14 Place de la Liberté.
Franck Labasse Patisserie – just in front of the coffee shop don’t miss the great chocolatier and patissiere Franck Labasse at 11 Place de la Liberté.
Ragazzi da Peppone – If you’re hungry, just know that you’re standing next to one of the best Italian restaurants in the region. Ragazzi da Peppone is located at 8 Place de la Liberté.
Fromagerie Dauchez – on the main street (30 Avenue Pasteur) you can also find a fantastic cheese shop.
Every Tuesday and Saturday there’s a very nice market in the center of Pessac. Try to plan your trip on one of these days as the center tends to be livelier on market days.
Le marché Bourrec – the biggest outdoor market of Pessac takes place every Sunday on Avenue Pierre Wiehn. This is one of the biggest markets in Bordeaux metropole with more than 170 stalls selling the best products the region has to offer.
Street art in the center of Pessac
Pessac is one of the main street art centers in Bordeaux metropole and even has an annual festival, called Vibrations Urbaines, dedicated to street art. You can find dozens of murals all over town with some located close to the center of Pessac.
My favorite one is located near the train station in Pessac, at 25 Place de la 5ème République. The huge mural of an elderly man called Entre Deux Mondes was created by the French duo Sismikazot in 2017. On the map I’ve made for this article, you can find several other murals in the center of Pessac, marked with a yellow painter’s palette sign.
If you’re a street art geek, you can find many more murals all over Pessac on this site.
Amazing villas in Quartier Casino
Another one of Pessac’s hidden gems is the beautiful villas in quartier Casino, on rue Goya and Rue Alexandre Jaubert. Between 1897 and 1904, a local architect named Hector Loubatie built 17 villas that were inspired by the villas of Ville d’Hiver (the winter town) in Arcachon. Today the neighborhood looks like mini Arcachon and the houses carry the nickname “arcachonnaises”. During the Belle Epoque, these villas were the resort houses of wealthy Bordeaux residents.
Get on your bike and discover Pessac
From the elegant center of Pessac, you can start your cycling tour to discover some of the main attractions of this town, from wine to nature and fascinating architecture. I remind you that this tour is doable by car or public transport and even on foot if you’re in good shape. However, I strongly recommend exploring Pessac by bike.
Cité Frugès – Le Corbusier
This colorful residential neighborhood can be easily overlooked, but it’s actually one of the most important monuments of Pessac. The Cité Frugès is the first housing project of the famous Swiss-French architect, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier.
The project was initiated by Henry Frugès, a wealthy industrialist in order to house working-class families in the 20s. In this project, Corbusier experimented with many new architectural ideas, incorporating strict geometric shapes, panoramic terraces, and vibrant colors in his design.
Cité Frugès was listed as a UNESCO heritage site in 2016.
One of the houses in the district is a museum where you can learn more about the project and visit the house interior with all of the original features. See all the details about the visits on this site. The address is 4 Rue le Corbusier, 33600 Pessac.
Taste wine at Château Pape Clément
Château Pape Clément is a Grand Cru Classé wine labeled under the Pessac Leognan appellation. Pessac Leognan, a wine region that was traditionally labeled under the Graves appellation, became a separate appellation only in 1987. This extraordinary château is one of the best wineries around Bordeaux and definitely worth a visit when you’re in Pessac.
The vineyards of Château Pape Clément were planted at the request of the Archbishop of Bordeaux, the future Pope Clement V. The château itself was built much later and has beautiful Neo-Gothic embellishments. Today apart from producing wine it’s also one of the most beautiful luxury hotels in Bordeaux. The chateau offers daily visits in both French and English as well as winemaking workshops where you can assemble your own wine.
It’s time for some nature! The cyclers or hikers among you will love this part of the trip. From Château Pape Clément take avenue du Pont de l’Orient north until you get to rue Surcouf (it will be to your left), a green pleasant path that follows the Peugeu stream.
The Peugeu is quite a long river that centuries ago was running through the center of Bordeaux flowing into the Garonne river (around Cours Alsace Lorraine). Since then the part running through the city center was covered leaving it exposed to the open air only in the suburbs. On this trip, We’ll be following the stream in the southwest direction.
On the way (around the intersection with Avenue de Noes) you’ll pass by Moulin de Noes, an 18th-century watermill. This is a very picturesque spot for a picnic.
The Ecosite of Bourgailh
From the Moulin de Noes, we’ll be heading to our last destination, the Bourgaill forest. To do that you’ll have to cross the highway through Passerelle Rocade (find the path from rue Ciceron). On the other side continue on Rue des Frênes until it meets Avenue de Monbalo, then take the cycling path on your right until you reach the eco-park of Bourgailh.
The Ecosite of Bourgailh is not just a park, it’s a universe of plants put together in great landscape design. The area of the Forêt 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 beautiful animal-themed playground. This is one of the most kids-friendly places in the metropole and on weekends it’s filled with families cycling and hiking.
There are also plenty of nice ecological and educational events taking place there throughout the year, such as mushroom hunting, a pumpkin festival, planting workshops, and more.
Pessac is actually one of the easiest day trips on my site. It’s located about 10 minutes drive from Bordeaux center and is very accessible by public transport. You can take tram B from the center of Bordeaux bringing you to the Pessac Centre tram station. You can also get there by train from Gare Saint-Jean and by several buses from different parts of Bordeaux.
However, as I already mentioned the best way to do this day trip is by bike! If you don’t have your own bike you can use one of the city bikes of Bordeaux métropole – some of the stations are located in Pessac center so you can start and finish your day there. See all the bike stations in the center of Pessac in this link.
Aubeterre sur Dronne is a small village located in the Charente department in the southwest of France. Aubeterre is labeled as one of France’s most beautiful villages and has a lot to offer, historic monuments, pretty houses, art galleries, and lively restaurants and coffee places. The town is located on the meeting point of the Charente, Gironde, and Dordogne departments which makes it a perfect day trip from many cities in the region such as Bordeaux, Cognac, Angouleme, Perigueux, Bergerac, or Saint Emilion. In this article, I’ll tell you why Auberette is worth traveling to and what you are expected to see in and around this beautiful village.
Aubeterre sur Dronne was founded in the 13th century on one of the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela. Most of the village is built from a white stone typical to many cities and villages in the Charente department. The town feels a bit like an amphitheater with plenty of hanging galleries decorated with a lot of flowers and greenery. Auberrete is situated on the Dronne river and spreads over a hilltop and valley. The two levels are connected by pretty narrow streets with beautiful houses and breathtaking viewpoints on the valley. The town has several interesting monuments, with the most important being the underground church, Eglise souterrain Saint-Jean.
While Aubeterre is quite a small village there are a lot of nice streets and places you should not miss on your day trip there. Start your tour of the village on Place Ludovic Trarieux, named after the influential French politician, Ludovic Trarieux, who was born there in 1840. Trarieux was the founder of the Ligue Francaise pour la défense des droits de l’homme (The Human Rights League of France). This is the liveliest spot in town with several coffee places, restaurants, and boutiques located around the square. For a light lunch, Crêperie de la Source is a cute little restaurant with an amazing view. From here continue to the Eglise souterrain Saint-Jean, the most famous monument in the town.
If there’s one thing that should not be missed in Aubeterre sur Dronne it’s the remarkable monolithic church. The Saint-Jean underground church was carved from one cliff during the 7th century and was considerably enlarged during the 12th century by a community of Benedictine monks. It has a unique form and measures 20 meters high from the interior. The church has a relic pit, a necropolis with 160 stone coffins, and 18 meters high galleries all carved from the same stone. You can visit the site daily throughout the year – see the details here.
From the church start descending to the lower part on the charming Rue Barbichon with its pretty view on the valley. For here turn right to Rue Barbecane where you’ll arrive at Place Merkes Merval, an old washing place. This is a beautiful spot where you can admire the many hanging balconies of Aubeterre. Continue up the street to the main square. If you’re interested in art, don’t miss Espace Ludovic Trarieux on your right as well as Antiquités du Tourniquet, a beautiful antique shop on your left.
From here you can start discovering the western part of the village with its steep and beautiful streets and several historic houses. Don’t miss the Saint Jaques church, a collegiate that was demolished in the 16th century during the wars of Religions. Its remarkable facade is the only original part left from the church that was later rebuilt in the 18th century. Its facade is a real piece of art with arches and sculpted capitals.
Go to the beach
If you’re visiting on a hot day, you can finish your day trip on the Aubeterre beach! To get to the beach, pass the bridge to cross the river and turn right. The facilities on the beach include toilets, showers, a kids’ play area, and a restaurant. The beach is located at the Camping base de loisirs d’aubeterre sur dronne that also offers many water activities like kayaking and SUPs. See more details here.
What to see around Aubeterre sur Dronne
Aubeterre sur Dronne is a great base to discover other parts of the Southwest of France. Here’s the list of the best places to visit around Aubeterre-sur-Dronne:
Angouleme – the capital of the Charente department is located about 50km north to Aubeterre and is totally worth the visit when in the region. Apart from its beautiful architecture, the city is known as the French capital of street art with tens of murals spread all over the city. Read my article about how to discover the street art scene in Angouleme before heading there.
Cognac – the most famous town in this region is Cognac, obviously thanks to the world-renowned spirit produced there. Cognac is located a bit farther north, about 70 km from Aubeterre but it’s a very interesting place to visit, especially if you want to see how Cognac is made. Read all the details in my article about Cognac.
Villebois-Lavalette – much closer to Aubeterre you can find Chateau de Villebois-Lavalette, a thousand-year-old castle that went through a massive restoration project and can now be visited. The chateau is located in a nice little town (Villebois-Lavalette) with a great covered market.
Riberac – Also very close to Auberette you can find the charming town of Riberac which is located in the Dordogne department. The town that shares the same river with Aubeterre is known for its excellent weekly market every Friday morning.
Where to stay in Aubeterre sur Dronne
If you’re planning to go to this region for a few days there are plenty of hotels and guest houses around the town. If you want to stay in the village itself the Grange Bleuet is a recommended place. See more hotels in Aubeterre sur Dronne here.
Where to park in Aubeterre sur Dronne
There are two big free parking spaces in Aubeterre sur Dronne. The central one is located just in front of the tourist office on Place du Champ de Foire. If there’s no space there, you can go higher to the northern parking lot next to Chemin du Cimetière.
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).
As you can understand from my articles and posts on social media I do most of my trips with my kids. But last week, thanks to a platform I recently discovered I had the opportunity to FINALLY travel all alone. And it was so brilliant that I have to tell you about it (I also got you a discount so it’s worth reading until the end 🙂)!
You already know that traveling with a local allows you to discover all the best places, especially in a city. It’s simply the ultimate way to discover the best restaurants and avoid tourist traps. That is exactly the experience I had on my trip to La Rochelle as I decided to use La Voyageuse, a travel platform where women host other women in their homes. I had an amazing host that helped me plan my trip and recommended many of the places I’m going to write about in the next few articles about La Rochelle and the surrounding islands. You can read about my personal experience using this platform at the end of the article.
So what is la Voyageuse?
La Voyageuse is a Bordeaux based start-up that connects female solo travelers to female hostesses. The hostesses are volunteers offering free accommodation in their house (could be a sofa or a room) simply out of their love of hosting and the desire to help other women on their solo traveling journey. The idea behind this startup is to provide female solo travelers a safe way to travel. The startup was founded last year and has been getting attention from the traveling industry (and even won some important prizes).
A few weeks before we all went into lockdown I was contacted by Christina Boixière, the founder of La Voyageuse. Christina thought, rightly so, that many of my female readers are quite adventurous and enjoy discovering special places through the eyes of a local. Also, a lot of my readers travel alone, so providing a safer travel option is a great value I can give you gals. I must admit that this idea really resonated with my personal experience. In my early 20s, I used to solo travel quite a lot and I remember the hesitations and insecurity I felt when arriving alone at a hostel in a new city. Also, I feel that when you travel to a new place for just a few days you rarely have the opportunity to exchange with locals in the region. So this platform gives women a unique opportunity to travel safely and interact with local women who are very welcoming in their nature.
How can you start using la Voyageuse
If you want to start using the platform as a traveler you need to purchase an annual pass for 119€ and you will have unlimited and free access to all the accommodations offered by the network of trusted female hostesses. The fee is used to finance the platform and
the verification process carried out by a dedicated team, to carefully review and validate all members. To support moms, this platform givers you the option to travel with one child under 12 yo. Currently, it’s being used by 2100 verified members of all ages, because let’s admit it, who doesn’t need a vacation after this long confinement period?
Now listen to the best news!!! I managed to get from Christina the founder of the company a special discount just for my readers and followers. So when you purchase it with my coupon code you get a 20€ discount!!! Awesome, right?!
That’s how you purchase the pass: You just go to the purchase page on their website and use my coupon code LOSTINBORDEAUX to get your discount. You can also buy it as a gift to someone else and get the same discount with my code.
An advice from me – If you’re already planning your trip check the map of the hosts before purchasing just to make sure there are any ladies hosting in your destination. You don’t need a pass to be able to see all the hosts on the platform, you just have to open an account on the platform. Once you see that there are hosts in your destination, go ahead and purchase the pass.
My personal experience with la Voyageuse
While I thought the idea was brilliant right away, I told Christina that I had to test La Voyageuse myself before writing about it on Lost in Bordeaux. That’s what I always do, I write only from my personal experience. So when we could finally go back to traveling in France again I decided that after three months with my kids at home this is the perfect time for a solo getaway (or mom vacation in my case 🙂 ).
I’ve been planning a solo trip to La Rochelle for a while now and luckily there were several hosts in La Rochelle registered on the platform. I ended up contacting Sylvia – a Polish expat who has been living there for more than a decade.
To be honest I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that I was going to someone else’s house and invade their life in a way so I wasn’t sure how comfortable I would feel. But all of that disappeared the minute I met Sylvia at the entrance to her warm and lovely house in La Rochelle. She made me feel at home the minute I stepped in, offering dinner and wine and plenty of funny stories about their family life in the region. She then asked me what my plans are for the rest of my trip and without hesitation brought all of her guide books and maps, giving me the most elaborated explanation of what to do and see in the region. I loved that it was advice coming from a local who actually tried all these experiences so you could feel when she was really excited about a place or when it was something not really worth your time.
Then came the best part! At some point when I was trying to decide what to do the next day she said “let’s just go to Île de Ré now and you’ll see how amazing it is” – and just like that we spent an amazing evening discovering Île de Ré.
During my days there, she texted me to see if I’m doing ok and it felt so nice that someone I just met thinks about my well being. There’s just no way I could have had such an amazing experience if I would’ve stayed in a hotel or even a standard Airbnb. A hotel has its benefits of course, but when you travel alone as a woman, feeling safe and welcomed by a verified local woman really upgrades your traveling experience.
I do want to make it clear, that if you’re looking for an Airbnb kind of experience, this is not it. La Voyageuse focuses on the interaction between traveling and local women rather than just a way to find accommodation. You need to have that in mind when planning your trip. There’s a chance that there won’t be an available host at a specific town you’re going to or that they won’t be able to host you for more than two-three nights. So just be ready for that and try to contact the host as soon as possible.
So just to sum-up, why do I think this is a fantastic way for women to travel? Mostly because it’s a great opportunity to meet interesting women in France and other places where the platform is active. Not less important, it’s the safest way for female solo travelers to travel, and finally, it’s just way cheaper than staying in hotels. An annual pass that provides you unlimited accommodation will cost you less than two nights in a hotel in France.
I know that this article was mostly for women, but if you’re a man and you got to this point just know that you can buy the pass as a gift to your girlfriend, wife, sister, or mom. I promise you all of them would love to do a bit of solo traveling right now 🙂 So go ahead and check out their platform to see all the amazing locations you can find a host at and don’t forget to use the LOSTINBORDEUX code when purchasing to get your 20€ discount.
Note: This article contains an affiliate link, meaning that if you buy a pass using my promo code I receive a small commission. So you get the 20€ discount, I get paid, and you will be supporting the work I do at Lost in Bordeaux. So thank you 🙂
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:
Discovering beautiful villages in the southwest of France is one of my favorite parts of living here and with all my traveling lately, I decided that it’s time to write a little bit about the Dordogne as well. So today I’m taking you to Eymet, located in the Bergerac region about 100 km from Bordeaux. While it’s not as famous as some of the villages in the Sarlat region, this cute little village with its picturesque houses and abundance of restaurants is a great option for a day trip from Bordeaux or from Bergerac. In this article, I’ll give you all the info on things to do in and around Eymet including an amazing chateau you can visit with your kids.
You can also join my Facebook group “Travel in the southwest of France” where many enthusiasts of the region share their recommendations for places to visit and things to do in the southwest of France. Now let me take you to this beautiful part of purple Perigord and the village of Eymet.
What to see in Eymet
Eymet is a typical bastide town founded in the 13th century by Alphonse de Poitiers, Comte de Toulouse. Bastide towns that can be 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 the 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. Ironically, while the town was originally established by the French as part of a defensive strategy against an English invasive, today it’s one of the most “British” towns in Dordogne with a 20% British population.
When you arrive in Eymet, start your tour at Place des Arcades, the central square with well-maintained houses. Take some time to admire the beautiful arched houses with stone or timber framed (colombage) fronts. The tourist office of Eymet is located on the square as well. They are very helpful and can give you a map of Eymet with all the interesting houses to see on your little tour. There’s also a map on display near the tourist office so you can see some of the main points of interest even if the tourist office is closed.
From here you can take some time to stroll the narrow charming streets of Eymet. The center of town is very small and many of the more interesting houses are located on rue Traversiere and rue de Veau. Don’t miss the beautiful temple on rue du Temple and the cute flowery passage between rue du Temple and rue Portanel.
There’s also an impressive château in Eymet, however, it’s usually closed unless there’s an exhibition in one of the rooms. It’s still worth taking a stroll through the garden and admire the chateau from the outside.
Where to eat in Eymet
The only problem regarding food in Eymet is that for such a small town there are just too many restaurants to choose from 🙂 There are plenty of restaurants located under the arched houses on the central squares, these are especially fun on sunny days as you can sit outside and absorb the beauty of the village. Two recommended restaurants in Eymet are Le Gambetta on Place Gambetta as well as Walnut which is slightly out of the center.
Markets in Eymet
Every Thursday morning, a lively market with the best products of the region takes place at the central square. You can buy baguettes, cheese, and regional fruits at the market and find a nice spot for a picnic on the banks of the Dropt river. That’s what we do many times as we travel with little kids and picnics are always a bit easier than sitting in a restaurant.
Every Tuesday during July and August a lively night market is taking place here with live music and plenty of food stands. The market is taking place at Place de la Bastide starting from 19:00.
Hiking around Eymet
Besides a stroll in the city which will take you 1-2 hours (if you’re slow like us), you can also go on a short hike to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Eymet. There are two hiking routes you can take around Eymet. One called Sentier du Dropt – a 3km hike that takes you through the port, the old windmill, and other nice spots close to the Dropt river.
Another hike is the Balade Patrimoine au fil du Dropt – an 11.5km route you can also do by bike. I took a picture of my map but you can get it at the tourist office.
Chateau de Bridoire – the chateau of games
If you’re traveling with kids you absolutely must include this place on your trip to Eymet. Château de Bridoire is located at the heart of the Monbazillac wine region about 15 minutes by car from Eymet. The beautiful château is a private historic monument dating back to the 15th century. You will visit 15 different rooms from the kitchen to the dining room and the working office but what makes this château special is that it’s much more interactive than the other castles you’ll visit in the southwest of France. For example, one of the rooms you’re going to visit is the games room where you can touch and play with all the fun wood games. The best part is the garden of the château where plenty of huge games were put in place to be played by the visitors of the chateau.
Needless to say, we spent hours there and they actually had to kick us out as my daughter refused to let go of the bow and arrow.
The château is open daily during the summer, you can see more details here.
What else to see around Eymet
One of the main attractions in the region is Chateau de Duras, a 12th-century impressive castle with an amazing view of the Dropt valley.
If you’re looking for a bigger livelier city, be sure to visit Bergerac, which is located on the Dordogne river only 20 km from Eymet. On the way, you can also visit Chateau de Monbazillac, famous for its white sweet wine.
If you’re visiting the region on a Sunday, you can start your day in Issigeac, yet another beautiful village in Dordogne that holds one of the best markets in the area on Sundays.
If you want to stop somewhere on the way to Bordeaux, don’t miss Castelmoron d’Albret, which happens to be the smallest village in France. You can read more about it in my article about my visit to Castelmoron d’Albret.
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:
I absolutely love street art and any city that makes the effort to complement its historic landscape with a modern expression of art is buying a fast ticket to my “go-to” list. That’s why Angoulême, which is located in the Charente department, about 1.5 hours drive from Bordeaux (or 35 minutes by train) has been on my mind for quite a while now. Angoulême is widely known as the comics and street art capital of France and is globally renowned for its Internation Comics festival hosting more than 200,000 people every year. Although I knew that I’m expected to see some beautiful murals in Angoulême, the creativity of this city took me by surprise the minute I entered the historic part of the city. Angoulême’s admiration for comics was expressed in every detail, from colorful post boxes to painted recycling bins and statues of famous comics characters. Visiting Angoulême is a little bit like playing treasure hunt for art lovers, there’s something to find on every street corner.
Now, don’t get me wrong here, this is by far not the only reason to visit Angoulême. It’s a beautiful historic city, surrounded by ancient ramparts, abundant with elegant monuments, and generally a vivid place with an impressive number of bars and restaurants. My article about all the things you can do in Angouleme is in the making but in this article, I want to focus on what attracted me to this city, which is its street art. My goal is to make you experience this city as if we were in an open museum of comics and street art. Having said that, if you really love comics don’t miss la Cité Internationale de la Bande Dessinée et de l’Image, the comics museums of Angoulême.
There are 25 huge murals painted on different buildings spread around Angoulême. If you can, pass by the tourist office (located in the Hotel de Ville), and grab a map indicating all of these murals. However, you should know that some of them are located quite far from the city center and require a long walk to get there. So if you are limited in time or just want to save your energy for the more interesting parts of the city, I made a map of my favorite murals and other street art that I really loved when strolling the city. In most of the locations on the map, I added the name of the work and the artist’s name and in some, I also added a photo and a link for more info about this work (in French).
I should mention also that there’s an app that can help you navigate around the murals in the city. I didn’t try it myself, but if you want to give it a try, these are the links, Google Play, App Store.
My three favorite murals in Angoulême
I should start by saying that all the murals in Angouleme are stunning but there are several that I particularly loved and I think you should see.
La Fille des Remparts – Max Cabannes
This one is probably the most famous mural in Angouleme and one of the best spots for taking photos and selfies in the city 🙂 In this Mural, Max Cabann imitates the atmosphere of the old city with its ramparts and old buildings. It almost feels like a continuation of the street your standing on. You can find it just next to the market on 6 Boulevard Pasteur.
Chassez le Naturel – François Boucq
This beautiful mural is located in a residential neighborhood slightly outside of the city center, but it’s so stunning it’s worth the walk. François Boucq is a French comics artist known for its books about Jérôme Moucherot, an insurance salesman, who is dressed in a leopard suit. The mural can be found at: Rue du Dr Duroselle above the parking entrance.
L’Archiviste – François Schuiten
L’Archiviste by François Schuiten is one of the most special artworks on the streets of Angoulême – one million holes on a stainless steel plate over a huge building facade. The building is located on 24 Avenue Gambetta.
The Comics Festival
If you can choose when to visit Angouleme, the best time would be in January when the city hosts its famous Comics Festival. The Angoulême International Comics Festival is the third biggest comics festival in the world, hosting more than 200,000 visitors every year.
Discover more art when strolling Angoulême
The murals of Angoulême display the works of the most famous comics artists in France. However, street art and comics are such an important part of the modern identity of this city that the murals are only a fraction of the art you can find in Angoulême. I spent hours just walking and absorbing the colors, the cute characters painted on the shatters, and unusual statues in the garden below the ramparts. Here are some of my favorite discoveries from this beautiful city. I count on you to find many more when you visit fascinating Angoulême 🙂
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:
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 few weeks I’ve been writing a lot about places in Gironde, rather than Bordeaux itself and that’s because I really want to encourage you to discover the amazing area we live in. Gironde is the biggest department in France and one of the most varied ones in terms of what you can see and do. In my previous articles I’ve written about the beautiful beaches surrounding Bordeaux, the best parks around Bordeaux and on some great hiking trails in Gironde. Now that you know all about the magnificent nature we’re surrounded by, it’s time to explore some of the most charming villages in France! So today, I am taking a short break from nature to invite you on a journey to discover Gironde’s beautiful architecture and heritage. In this article I gathered some of the most beautiful villages in Gironde. If you follow my articles, you know that I really like variety and that’s why I included towns and villages from all over the department. Beach towns on the Atlantic coast, beautiful villages in the middle of Bordeaux’s wine routes and plenty of medieval towns in the South of Gironde.
If you take my advice and visit these beautiful villages, I’d love it if you could use the hashtag #lostinbordeaux so I can share your photos on my stories on my Instagram page Lost_in_bordeaux. Also, come and share your experiences and get plenty of new ideas for day trips in Nouvelle Aquitaine in my Facebook group – Travel in the southwest of France.
*Before we start I have an important announcement! I am upgrading my newsletter and from now on I will send a weekly email with suggestions of things to do every weekend. The email will be sent on Friday! So if you want to recieve cool plans for the weekend (especially during this period without obvious events taking place in Bordeaux) be sure to subscribe to my newsletter here!
Now let’s hit the road and discover the most beautiful villages in Gironde.
Entre deux mers and South Gironde
I decided to start my list with the Entre deux mers region and the South of Gironde as they’re usually my go to places when I’m in a mood for beautiful medieval towns. This is one of the most beautiful parts in the southwest of France, embodying the historic and cultural richness of this region. Most of the villages on my list are located close to one another so you can visit them all in one weekend. Public transport is not extremely developed in this part of Gironde so it’s better to travel by car or bike if you like cycling a lot. I did, however, add public transport routes to these places just for completeness.
First on my list is Saint Macaire, a little medieval town located on the banks of the Garonne river, about 50km from Bordeaux. Saint Macaire is a very attractive destination for those interested in history and beautiful architecture. What today seems like a sleepy town in the Entre deux mers wine appellation was once an important city under British rule and was declared the “ville royale d’Angleterre” (An English royal city) in 1341. During the 13th and 14th centuries it was one of the most prosperous cities in Aquitaine due to its significant agricultural and trade activities.
Visiting Saint Macaire can be a great half-day trip if you take the time to discover its rich heritage, the narrow streets, and beautiful old houses and monuments. Place Mercadiou, surrounded by beautiful medieval houses is the main square of the village, where the market takes place every Thursday morning. Another monument not to miss is Porte de la Benauge, the main gate to the old city whose historic center is surrounded by ramparts. Probably the most important monument of Saint Macaire is its Eglise de Saint Sauveur et Saint-Martin. The big church, built in the 12th and 15th centuries has impressive murals that are really worth seeing. Every year at the end of August, Saint Macaire hosts one of the best medieval festivals in the region.
How to get there: It’s a bit complicated to get to Saint Macaire without a car as there’s no regular direct public transportation going there from Bordeaux (there’s one train a day to Saint Macaire). However, you can take a train to Langon and then cross the Garonne to the other side and bike or even go for a nice hike along the river until you reach Saint Macaire.
Cadillac is a little town located on the right bank of the Garonne river at the Entre Deux Mers wine region. It’s quite a popular destination attracting many tourists, especially during summer. Cadillac is hard to miss when driving the D10 route to the south of Gironde. You will be greeted by a big defensive wall and the main gate into the old medieval center built in the 13th century. However, it’s undeniably most famous monument is the Château des Ducs d’Épernon, built by the Duke of Épernon in the 17th century. The chateau is very impressive and is best known for being a women’s prison starting from the French revolution and up until 1950. It now serves as a museum that mostly displays the life of the royals who were occupying the estate before it became a prison. However, on the last floor, you can actually still see the cells and a small exhibition about the prison.
The town is also known for its wine, the Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux appellation. You can visit the maison des vins of Cadillac in order to learn about the wine of this region and taste it of course 🙂
How to get there: You can get there by bus number 501 from the Bastide neighborhood in Bordeaux, see the schedule here.
About 5km from Cadillac you will find Rions, a small medieval town located on the banks of the Garonne river. Like other towns in this region, Rions is also characterized by cute narrow streets and medieval houses. During medieval times it was an important town which was greatly affected by the Hundred years war between France and England. In 1295, Rions, which was at the time under British rule, was conquered by the French Charles of Valois who took down its defensive walls. In 1313, England was able to take the city back and surround it with ramparts, making it one of the Fortified English cities of British ruled southwest of France (Guyenne). It went back into French hands right before the end of the long war and, despite all the turmoil, was left with its impressive architecture and charm, perfect for a few hours trip. If you want to make the best of your day trip to the region, you can go on a 5km hike and see the beautiful surroundings of this medieval town. Read more about the hiking trail from Rions, in my article about hiking around Bordeaux.
How to get there: You can take bus number 501 from the Bastide neighborhood in Bordeaux, see the schedule here.
Castelmoron d’Albret is the smallest village in France and in my opinion one of the most charming ones in the southwest of France. This tiny medieval village is brimming with charm! Almost every house here is covered with colorful roses and other beautiful flowers spilling from eclectic pottery that is made here in the village. No house here looks the same, every window and door has its own particularity. There are almost no signs of modern life here, no cars, no sidewalks, just a beautiful village frozen in time. There are only about 50 people living here and only three businesses operating in the 3.5 hectares village so the atmosphere is incredibly relaxing. I think my kids were the loudest thing this village has experienced in a while.
It will take you about an hour of a scenic drive over the hills and along the vineyards of Entre Deux Mers to reach the little town from Bordeaux. If you want to combine the visit with any other activity, I recommend visiting the impressive bastide town of Sauveterre-de-Guyenne, which is located just a few minutes drive from Castelmoron d’Albret. There are also several hiking and cycling routes you can do in this part of Entre deux Mers. In this link you can find two great hiking trails that start from the village itself.
How to get there: Getting there by bus is fairly complicated and I would advise going only by car. The closest train station tho this village in La Reole but the bus from there to Castelmoron d’Albret is not very regular.
La Réole is a small hilly town situated on the banks of the Garonne river about 50 km from Bordeaux. Although the town developed around a monastery founded in the 7th or 8th century, it’s golden era was in medieval times when it became the second largest city in the region after Bordeaux. Still today, it’s one of the biggest towns in the south of the Gironde department with plenty of interesting events and a very lively weekly market on Saturdays. There are quite a few impressive houses and monuments to see in this little town, among them is the historic 12th century Town Hall, the Saint Pierre church and the Benedictine abbey, the old remparts of the city and more. Get lost in the narrow charming streets of the historic center of La Réole and let the beautiful architecture take you back in time. If you happen to arrive in La Reole when the tourist office is open, be sure to take a map of all the monuments in the city.
How to get there: This is a great destination for those who don’t own a car. You can get to La Réole in 40 minutes by train from Bordeaux. The train leaves from Gare Saint Jean every two hours.
Bazas is one of my favorite towns in the south of Gironde not only because it’s a beautiful place but also due to its rich heritage embodying the Gascony culture. It’s located at the eastern edge of the Gascon Landes forest, about 65 km from Bordeaux. A stroll in the historic center will allow you to discover the impressive architecture of the city and its past role as an important bishopric. At the main square of the town you will find its famous gothic Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste which appears on the UNESCO world heritage list. When strolling the historic center don’t miss the charming old houses on the smaller streets as well as the gardens.
Architecture is not the only attraction of Bazas which is actually quite famous for its gastronomy, especially its meat. You can enjoy the Bazadaise meat in one of the restaurants located on the main square. True meat lovers could also buy meat in one of the many butcher shops in the center. If you’re looking for a full gastronomic experience to discover the cuisine of the region, there’s one tour you shouldn’t miss. Anne, an American living in Bazas is an expert on everything related to food in the region. She knows all the farmers and chefs around Bazas and her guided farm to table tours are an unforgettable experience. Check out her website.
How to get there This is the most complicated place on my list to get to by public transport and I wouldn’t recommend doing it. If you still want to go there by public transport you can take a train from Bordeaux to Langon and then bus number 512 to Bazas.
Before we continue to our next region I just wanted to remind you that I also share plenty of day trips ideas on my Facebook/Instagram pages, so if you’re not there yet, what are you waiting for? Like/follow me on social media and you will never be bored on a weekend again 🙂
The right bank – Saint Emilion and Pays Blayais
You can’t really do a list about villages around Bordeaux without including Saint Emilion in it, can you? This medieval village is known all around the world for its splendid wine but it’s also undoubtedly one of the most beautiful villages around Bordeaux.
Important historical monuments can be found in abundance in this medieval town, some of which date back as far as the 11th and 12th centuries. One of the famous monuments is the 11th-century Monolithic church, carved from a limestone cliff, it’s the largest underground church in Europe. Its picturesque center, densely filled with wine shops and fancy restaurants, turns this little town into a prominent attraction for tourists in the area. If you’re visiting Saint Emilion in the high season of July-August beware that you need to book everything in advance, it gets very busy!
Blaye is one of the most interesting places in the Bordeaux area, located only about 50 km north to Bordeaux center. This little town has a long military and strategic history and is mostly known for its remarkable Citadel. The Citadel and city walls are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you can easily spend half a day discovering them. The entrance to the Citadel is free and you can explore the streets and ramparts admiring the view of the Gironde estuary which can be seen from the top.
Blaye is also well known for its red wine which honestly is really excellent and very reasonably priced. You can visit the Maison du Vin on the main street (12 Cours Vauban), where they would gladly introduce you to the wines of the region and the chateaux you can visit around Blaye.
How to get there? The easiest way to get there is by car or by ferry if you’re coming from the other side of the Gironde estuary. The ferry is leaving from Lamarque, you can see all the details about the tariffs and hours in this link. Beware that masks are currently required onboard the ferry. There are also several bus lines going to Blaye – check all the info here.
Bourg (Previously called Bourg sur Gironde) is a picturesque village at the heart of the wine appellation of Côtes de Bourg located at the confluence of the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers. Bourg has played a key role in the region’s history, it was built in Roman times, fortified by the English and visited by several kings, such as Louis XIV in 1650. Just like its neighboring town of Blaye, Bourg too has a very impressive citadel called Château de la Citadelle. While it’s not one of the main tourist destinations in the Medoc area, those who do get to visit this beautiful place, quickly fall in love with it. Apart from the citadel, the historic part of the city also has a cute central square with restaurants and shops, the market takes place every Sunday.
Bourg is however quite known for its great Côtes de Bourg wine! Don’t miss a visit to the Maison des Vins des Côtes de Bourg, a 19th century former residence with a warm atmosphere that acts as a venue for exhibitions, talks, receptions, tasting classes, meetings with winegrowers and more. You can also see the map of all the wineries here, it’s better to call them prior to your visit.
How to get there: Two bus lines of TransGironde (201, 202) from Lormont pass through Bourg. However, unless you live or stay on rive droite of the Garonne it will take you some time to get to Lormont from the center of Bordeaux. So here too, going by car is recommended.
Arcachon and Medoc
L’herbe is a traditional oyster farming village located on the Cap Ferret Peninsula. Here you won’t find the characteristics of a typical French village, no central square with a bakery, no old houses or medieval gates. Nonetheless, it’s one of the most beautiful villages in the southwest of France, in my opinion at least.
There’s something raw and authentic about L’herbe. You get to walk between the colorful cabins of oyster farmers and see them in action on their special workboats. If you like oysters, you’re going to love this place. Plenty of oyster restaurants are spread along the beach serving only the freshest oysters, pork paté and white wine. This is a perfect destination for a sunny half-day trip from Bordeaux, or a full day trip if you add a visit to the beach as well.
How to get from Bordeaux to L’herbe: by car is the best way to get here as the bus is not a direct one and it takes almost two hours to get to L’herbe from Bordeaux. But if you have no choice take bus 601 (Trans Gironde) from Bordeaux center.
Cap Ferret is a little town located 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, especially if compared to Arcachon city.
Cap Ferret is shaped like a narrow tongue with a long string of beautiful sandy beaches on the Atlantic ocean and a view of the eastern side of the Bassin. Apart from its dreamy beaches it’s also known for its ostréiculture industry, which produces some of the best oysters in France. Dozens of oyster cabins and restaurants with a view on the Bassin give Cap-Ferret a unique character that’s worth a visit. If you want to really profit from the day, rent a bike and cycle along the beaches and through the pine forest that covers a large part of the Cap Ferret peninsula. There are plenty of bike rentals in Cap Ferret, one of them is Bike rental Cap Gyro (7 Boulevard de la Plage, 33970 Lège-Cap-Ferret).
How to get there: Bus 601 will bring you to Cap Ferret but it’ll take you at least two hours to get there, so a car is definitely a better option here. You can also take a ferry from Arcachon or le Moulleau beach, you can see the schedule here.
Soulac Sur Mer
This charming little town is one of the highlights of the Medoc region. It’s located on the very top of the Medoc Atlantique, about 90 km from Bordeaux. If you ever had the chance to visit the town of Arcachon, you will find Soulac sur Mer a bit familiar, and many actually call it “little Arcachon”. Its city center resembles Ville d’été while the northern part of the town with its charming 18th-century villas is similar in style to the impressive villas of Ville d’Hiver in Arcachon. Soulac has some of the most beautiful beaches on the Atlantic coast, attracting many French tourists to the area. There are plenty of cute little restaurants both in the center and on the promenade. Seafood is a very important part of the local cuisine and so many restaurants will serve oysters and large shrimps.
Every year Soulac hosts one of my favorite events in Gironde, called Soulac 1900. A celebration of music, dance, ancient cars and costumes from the beginning of the 20th century.
We came to the end of my list of the most beautiful villages in the Southwest of France, Gironde (at least until I find another treasure that has a place on this exclusive list :)). There are of course more charming villages around Bordeaux such as le Canon in the Cap Ferret Peninsula or Monsegur in Entre deux mers, but I narrowed down the list to the ones I find most special.
If you missed my announcement from the beginning of the post I will repeat it again because I think it’s so cool 🙂 I am upgrading my newsletter and from now on I will send a weekly email with suggestions of things to do every weekend. The email will be sent on Friday mornings! So if you want to recieve cool plans for the weekend (especially during this period without obvious events taking place in Bordeaux) be sure to subscribe to my newsletter here!
The amazing response to my Hiking in Bordeaux article last week, made me realize that now, more than ever, people are looking to replace their city center outings with parks, beaches, and forests. So maybe not everyone is up for a 9km hike but I’m sure most of my readers would love to discover new places where they can admire exotic flowers, observe ducks swimming peacefully in a cute pond and enjoy an outdoor picnic. I know we all miss going to restaurants but opening a bottle of good Bordeaux wine accompanied by cheese, charcuterie and a beautiful view doesn’t feel so bad to me! So this week I decided to write an article about the most beautiful parks in Bordeaux, or better yet “my favorite parks in Bordeaux” 🙂
If you leave the city center and travel to the other towns of Bordeaux Metropole, you will discover that there’s a huge amount of parks and green spaces in the Bordeaux region. Some of them have lakes, playgrounds, picnic areas, others have a more foresty vibe to them and some even have beautiful art installations. In some parts of this article, I mention things like playgrounds, animal parks, coffee places, and picnics, which were a normal thing before the pandemic. I hope that things can get back to normal as soon as possible but for now, please know that some of these places are still closed and that no gathering of more than 10 people is allowed. So be safe and prudent when visiting public spaces.
If you’re keen on staying close to the center you can check out my older article about the best places for picnics in Bordeaux. Also, I just want to remind you that on my Instagram I post plenty of photos and stories from the places I visit in Gironde so follow me to get much more info about the hidden gems of our region.
For those living in Bordeaux, my choice to start with Jardin Public would seem too obvious, but one cannot make a list of parks in Bordeaux without mentioning this beautiful green island harmoniously placed among the historic buildings of Bordeaux. Jardin Public, created in the 18th century is the biggest park in Bordeaux center spreading over 11 hectares! This place is the epitome of city parks, it has a beautiful pond with ducks and swans, a wide green area for picnics, a lot of space for runners and two fun playgrounds for kids. It’s also home to Bordeaux’s natural history museums which is a great spot for families. You can clearly see why it’s one of the most visited places in Bordeaux by locals and tourists alike. In the summer, the park hosts a daily traditional puppets show, which makes it even more attractive for families. For more activities for kids check out my article about the best things to do in Bordeaux with kids.
Parc Bordelais in Cauderan
Parc Bordelais in the Cauderan neighborhood is the biggest park in Bordeaux city. It’s a beautiful 28-hectare green space that attracts both friends and families for picnics around the lake, as well as runners and bikers. It also has a chic cafe, for those of you in need of a cold glass of rosé 🙂 I would dare to say that it’s the most kids-friendly park in Bordeaux. Besides two large playgrounds (for younger and older kids), there is a puppet theater, a little animal park and a kids train that takes you on a tour of the park. While it’s not in the hyper center like Jardin Public, it’s really worth the travel.
There’s no tram directly to the park but you can easily reach it by bus (number 2 or 3) from the center of Bordeaux. You can also take tram D and walk about 15 minutes to the park. It will take you about half an hour to get there walking from the center of Bordeaux.
Parc Majolan in Blanquefort
If I had to make a list of my top three parks in Bordeaux this one would definitely be on it! Parc Majolan in Blanquefort is a great example of a beautiful landscape design. When you follow the paths in the park you feel like you walk through a forest but then suddenly discover ruins of an old gate, beautiful flowers, and finally a stunning lake. The best part of it all is the artificial caves created in the 19th century. This park is so rich that it will take you hours to explore all of it!
How to get there: The entrance to the park is from Avenue du Général de Gaulle 33290 BLANQUEFORT. If you’re coming by bus, take bus number 29 and get off at Parc de Majolan station.
Parc Bouran in Merignac
Parc Bouran is the main park of Merignac and is easily accessible by tram A from the city center. While it’s a proper park with a lake, a beautiful chateau and playgrounds, some parts of it feel rawer and woody, which I find very nice. The park has been built around the Deveze, a stream that runs into the Garone river next to the Saint Pierre neighborhood (the original location of the old port of Bordeaux). In the city center, the stream now goes underground but here in the park, it’s in the open-air, giving it yet another special feature. This park is perfect for families and seems to be very popular with joggers as well 🙂
I feel like this amazing park doesn’t get enough credit. The 20 hectares flower park of Bordeaux side by side with the Bois de Bordeaux (the forest of Bordeaux) in the Barails natural reserve, which I have written about in my Hiking in Bordeaux article. This is one of the most beautiful places in Bordeaux for walking, running, bicycle riding or a picnic.
The colorful Parc floral has a beautiful rose garden with more than 500 varieties of roses. And that’s not all, among the park’s greenery you can find magnolias, many irises, every possible type of rhododendrons and many types of vines (mind you they are there to feed the birds). Throughout the park you will see plenty of statues and structures that look like they have been taken from other parts of the world. These were donated to Bordeaux from different places like Japan, Spain, and Morocco (don’t miss the stunning Moorish mosaics.) Spring is the best time to visit the park. Everything is still blossoming and after two months of confinement, it’s a good reminder that the world is still beautiful and alive 🙂
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.
Le Bois du Bouscat
Le Bois du Bouscat is a 5 hectares park stretched along the big Hippodrome in the Le Bouscat neighborhood. It’s a relatively new park, opened only in 2013 and labeled “entre nature et culture” it strives to connect nature, art, and culture. While it’s not a huge park, its cultural aspect is particularly attractive and it can take you a few hours to see everything if you really pay attention to all the details. Plenty of sculptures are spread throughout the park, unusual benches, each designed by a different wood sculpturer, beautiful metallic animals representing the animals of the forest, and other art installations all related to nature. If you’re in for a culture hike, this is your place.
Parc Peixotto in the center of Talence is not one of the big parks in Bordeaux metropole, but one of my favorites for sure. Well, I’m not objective here, I live just next door to it and it has been my savior every time my kids go bananas at home. What can you find here? A pond with plenty of geese and ducks, a beautiful chateau, and tons of hidden spots for romantic picnics 🙂 In the summer there are usually some nice events taking place in the park as well.
It’s easily accessible by tram B from the city center – the Forum and Parc Peixotto stations are both very close to the park.
Ecosite du Bourgailh in Pessac
The Ecosite of Bourgailh is not just a park, it’s a universe of plants put together in 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 one of the most beautiful playgrounds you have ever seen, which for me is the highlight of this park. There are plenty of nice ecological and educational events taking place there throughout the year, such as mushroom hunting, a pumpkin festival, planting workshops and more.
Parc du Moulineau happens to be one of the biggest parks in the green suburb of Gradignan and it’s a real gem for kids. Not only can they enjoy a big playground but it’s also home to the Maison de la Nature that inhabits nearly 50 different animal species from rabbits to the black and white goat of the Pyrénées. The animal park is still closed so I recommend waiting until it opens up before going there. You can see all the details about the opening hours of the animal park here.
Parc Sourreil in Villenave d’ornon
This little park is well hidden behind its chateau and is easy to miss when passing by its main entrance in Villenave d’Ornon. However, if you go beyond the chateau you’ll find a cute forest-y park with a nice area for kids and some walking paths around the woods. I wouldn’t necessarily make a long trip to see this park but if you’re not far from here, it’s worth a visit!
Parks on Rive droite
Parc de L’ermitage in Lormont
The Parc of Lormont, or by its official name Parc de l’Ermitage Sainte-Catherine, is one of the favorite parks of rive droite inhabitants, or those who love traveling around the metropole. This beautiful hilly park is located on the east bank of the Garonne river and is part of the enormous 400 hectares green space called Parc des Coteaux, which goes through several other towns on rive droite.
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 reenter the park again through Haut Lormont (the higher part of Lormont) to visit the hilly part.
I previously mentioned this park in my article about things to do with kids in Bordeaux. Just next to the park you will find the ferme d’Iris, an animal farm for kids with rabbits, donkeys, goats, and more. For more info about the farm click here.
Parc aux Angéliques in Bastide
Parc aux Angéliques on Quai des Queyries isn’t a park per se, but rather a vast green area close to the city center, perfect for hiking, biking, or a picnic with friends. I felt that I should include it in the list for those looking for a nice picnic spot in the more tranquil part of Bordeaux. The park is spread along the Garonne river from its east side which provides a beautiful view of the buildings and monuments on the opposite side of the river such as the beautiful Place de la Bourse. There’s a very familial and tranquil vibe to it even during the more touristy months of the year. You will see groups of friends picnicking, families playing badminton, and a lot of bikers and runners (well, these are apparently everywhere in Bordeaux). If you’ve made it all the way there you can enjoy places like Darwin and Jardin Botanic, both located just in front of the park. You can read more about these two places in my ultimate guide to a weekend in Bordeaux. If you’re coming with kids, don’t panic if you don’t find a playground in the park. There’s actually a large playground just next to Jardin Botanique at Place des Droits de L’Enfant.
You can get there by tram A (Stalingrad station), by boat from the other side of the river, or with many buses that go through the Bastide neighborhood, You can use the site of the public transport in Bordeaux to find the best route. My favorite way to get there is on a city bike, you can read more about that in my article about cycling in Bordeaux.
In this list, I included only the parks that I had a chance to visit, which is quite a lot but if you think that I should include other parks feel free to write it in the comments below.
If you want to get more information about traveling in Bordeaux and the Southwest of France you should join my Travel in the Southwest of France Facebook group or simply join my Facebook/Instagram pages where I share almost all my travel and experiences in the region on a daily basis. If you want to get exclusive tips on traveling in the region, subscribe to my newsletter here.
Bordeaux isn’t one of France’s cheapest cities but there are quite a lot of things you can enjoy here for free (or at a very low price). In this article, I gathered plenty of ideas for you to enjoy the city and the area around Bordeaux without spending a dime. Following my list, you will learn how to dance, discover amazing art, visit beautiful beaches and do most of it completely free. If you’re coming with kids, this post will give you some nice ideas for entertaining them without breaking the bank. Many of the offered attractions in this article are available during the summer season but some things you can do during winter as well. So let’s start with the list of free things to do in Bordeaux!
Free things you can do all year long in Bordeaux
Stroll the historic city
You don’t need much to enjoy this amazing city. The exceptional architecture is present on almost every street. The old gates to the city, the romantic streets leading to lively squares, the wide beautiful promenade on the river banks will all leave a great impression on you. After Paris, Bordeaux has the highest number of preserved historical buildings in France. No wonder that its historic part was declared as an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble by UNESCO. If it’s your first time in Bordeaux you can read about the most important monuments in my guide to a weekend in Bordeaux.
Darwin – hipster paradise
If you want to take the off-beaten track go to where the locals love to hang out. Darwin is an old military base on the right bank of the river converted into an urban space with a very cool vibe to it. It has a very chic restaurant and several shops but you don’t really need to spend money to enjoy it. You can stroll around the hangars, check out the charity shop, see plenty of street art and just embrace the hipster vibes :). Darwin and the associations it hosts are very active and offer plenty of free events. I tend to write quite a lot about it, so check out my weekend posts. You can also have a picnic at the Parc aux Angéliques located just in front of Darwin.
Address: 87 Quai des Queyries, 33100 Bordeaux
Free museums Sunday
Like in most cities in France, the first Sunday of the month is a free museums day. You have a free entrance to all the public museums and to most exhibitions. Check out the full list of museums in Bordeaux that you can visit for free this Sunday.
Free galleries in Bordeaux
Discover the local art in the many galleries spread in the city, many of them you can visit without a reservation. Here are some of the best galleries in Bordeaux: Galerie D.X., Bouillon d’art, A deux pas d’ici (photography), Cox gallery (street art). For contemporary art, head to FRAC which is located at the new MECA, an interesting architectural attraction by itself.
One of the best ways to discover the city is by bike and you don’t even have to pay much to do that in Bordeaux. There are city bikes (V³) stations spread all over the city and they cost only 1.7 euros for 24 hours. You have to return it to the station every 30 minutes and you can immediately take another one to continue your journey. You can also pay 2 euros per hour and return it later if you want to make a longer ride to areas without city bikes stations. See the location of the stations here.
See Bordeaux’s most ancient monument
Strolling the city center you’ve probably noticed a lot of impressive monuments dating back to the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries such and 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 calling this number +33 5 56 00 66 00.
Bordeaux Metropole is rich with many basilicas and churches, decorating almost every big square in the city. Its history is blended with religion and the churches are a testament to the development of the city. One of the best things about them is that they are always free and open every day. Bordeaux is an old city so you get to explore religious temples from various periods in time, carrying very different styles. Some examples are the amazing Saint Andres on Place Pey Berland that is built in a Gothic Style or the church of Notre Dame with its Baroque style. Other impressive and interesting churches and Basilicas include Saint Croix, Saint Michel and Saint Bruno.
There are free events taking place every weekend, from concerts on the street to huge brocantes, street art events, dance lessons and more. All you need to do is follow my weekend list to be updated on what’s happening in the city at the moment.
Drink at the Capucins Market
One of the main attractions in Bordeaux is Marché des Capucins, Bordeaux’s main market. Eating at the market definitely isn’t free (although very affordable) but you don’t have to eat there to feel the vibe. You can just sip a glass of cold white wine at Chez Jean Me (only 2 euros a glass) and absorb the sounds and smells of the market. If you need more recommendations check out my post about the best restaurants at the Capucins market.
Discover the street art
Like many other cities, Bordeaux too has the street art fever, with numerous talented local artists. One of the best things about street art is that it’s usually free, you just need to put some effort to find it. 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 du Loup with a beautiful work by Nasty, rue Bourrard, quai des platitudes, the Mur in Chartrons, rue Bergeret. One of the most beautiful works, in my opinion, is located just next to Pessac’s train station. The street art scene is always evolving so again you’ll have to get back here for updates 😉
Brocante in Saint Michel
Antiques and flea markets are a popular attraction in many cities. Some people go there to hunt for special bargains to take home and others see it as a way to discover more about the place through the pieces on display. Bordeaux is quite rich with Brocantes and Vide Greniers (a local version of a garage sale) and you can find many of them both in the center and the villages around it. The most famous one is located in Passage Saint Michel, a hangar that gathers about twenty brocanteurs (second-hand goods dealer) together. Just in front of it, on the main square in Saint Michel, you will find the Sunday Brocante with much cheaper items for sale. Another neighborhood to visit is Chartrons, with plenty of more expensive Antique boutiques. If you want to experience a local and cheaper “flea market” you should attend a Vide Grenier in one of the suburbs or the villages next to Bordeaux. To discover when are the next vide greniers taking place check out this site.
Discover the heritage and nature Bordeaux by foot
If you love walking and nature, this is the perfect place for you. There are plenty of beautiful hiking trails to discover in Bordeaux metropole and the towns around it. On the way, you will see lakes, rivers, forests, and historical monuments and guess what, it’s all free. Take a look at the best hiking trails in and around Bordeaux in my article.
What to do for free in Bordeaux during the summer
Go to a free music concert
The summer in Bordeaux is one big music festival with plenty of free concerts and parties scattered all over the city. There are several associations that organize free concerts from June to the end of September in many different styles and locations. Bordeaux Open Air offers amazing electronic festivals in the parks of Bordeaux almost every summer. Relache will make you rock with free rock concerts on different squares of Bordeaux. Banzai lab has amazing parties on the weekend of July and the Pavillon d’été welcomes you to enjoy free music concerts on the right bank of the river. For more information follow my post about things to do in July and August as well as my what to do this weekend post that I publish every Wednesday/ Thursday.
Learn how to dance
If dance classes are too expensive for you, in Bordeaux you can learn it for free! The main dance festival in the summer is Dansons sur les quais, with free dancing lessons on the promenade. The lessons are taught by professional teachers and it’s quite an amazing experience for both kids and adults. However, this is not the only place to take free dance classes in Bordeaux during the summer season. You can also learn how to dance Tango with Tango Bordeaux association and Swing with the Swing In Kiosque at Jardin Public.
Have a picnic at the Park
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy a proper French meal or snack. Just buy some cheese and wine, add to it a crispy baguette from the boulangerie and head to one of Bordeaux magical picnic spots. Many of you probably heard about the beautiful Jardin Public, but this is far from being the only park in Bordeaux. Check out my list of the best picnic places in Bordeaux where I also included information about playgrounds for kids and the closest supermarkets. You’ll probably also like my article about the most beautiful parks in Bordeaux.
Listen to music and dance at la Guingette chez Alriq
La Guinguette chez Alriq is one of the best summer places in Bordeaux with plenty of concerts in the open air. During the summer they host amazing bands from Thursday to Sunday. While on most evenings the concerts cost 6 euros on Sunday afternoon the concerts are free!
Adress: ZA Quai des Queyries, Port Bastide, 33100 Bordeaux
Go to one of the beaches in the city
One of the best free attractions to do during the Bordelaise summer is going to a beach. There are many lakes in the area and two of them happen to be in the city and you can even reach them by public transport. Bordeaux Lac is a fantastic little beach in the north of the city. Unfortunately, the direct line to the beach (line c) from the city center is going through some works until September so going to the beach will take more time than usual. The second city beach is located in the southern suburb of Bordeaux, Bègles. Bègles plage can be reached by line c within 25 minutes from the train station. See the list of the most beautiful beaches around Bordeaux in my article.
Fun stuff to do (almost) for free with kids in Bordeaux
Chill at the Miroir d’eau
The best free attraction for kids (and adults) in Bordeaux is definitely Mirroir d’eau. Kids absolutely love splashing in the water, especially on hot summer days. When tired you can have a picnic at the little garden right next to it.
Go to the pool
Going to the pool is not really free in Bordeaux but it’s very affordable and you can spend the whole day there. There are several kids friendly pools in Bordeaux metropole, two of them are not very far from the city center. Next to the Meriadeck, you’ll find the piscine Judaique located in a beautiful art deco building. A bit farther from the center is Piscine du Grand Parc. Both are very kids friendly with facilities like kids’ pool, water slides, floats and more.
Skateboarding on the quai
If your kids love skating be sure to bring the skateboard with you when coming to Bordeaux. One of the best skateparks in the city is located on Quai des Chartrons and it’s free. For those heading to the Sunday market on the quai, that would be a great break for the kids.
There are plenty of amazing day trips you can go to when visiting the Bordeaux area. It’s not entirely free of course as you have to rent a car but it gives you the chance to discover plenty of amazing places around Bordeaux without paying a dime. Also, If you make sure to rent it a few months before your arrival rental prices are fairly low. If you prefer to go by train, check out my list of the 10 day trips you can do by train from Bordeaux.
Discover the beautiful châteaux of the Medoc region
Even if you don’t want to spend money on a wine tour I highly recommend doing the route du Vin, just for the beautiful châteaux all along the way. If you don’t want to rent a car you can do most of the trip by bike. While in many wineries you’d have to pay for a guided tour, some will offer you to taste their wine for free. For more information check out my article about the wine road in Medoc.
Go to one of Bordeaux’s beautiful beaches
Above I’ve mentioned two beaches that are located within the city but with a car, Gironde is a paradise for beach lovers. Plenty of beautiful sandy beaches surround the Bordeaux Metropole. The more kids friendly ones are located on the lakes, such as lac Lacanau or lac Cazaux and on the Bassin d’Arcachon. Surfers will definitely fall in love with the beaches on the Atlantic coast. If you need help in choosing the best beaches, I just recently released a post about the best beaches near Bordeaux.
Visit medieval villages
To its south and east, Bordeaux is surrounded by amazing medieval villages that you can reach within less than an hour drive. One of the most famous villages in our area is Saint Emilion, but it’s not the only charming village in the area, others include, Bazas, Saint Macaire, La Reole, Rions and more. For more information about some of these destinations check out my article about day trips from Bordeaux. Don’t miss my article about the most beautiful villages in Gironde.
I hope I convinced you that a trip to Bordeaux can be quite cheap when you have so many incredible free things to do. Hope you enjoyed the list!
Just to remind you that I often update about events and exhibition on my facebook/Instagram accounts so be sure to follow! Also, join my newsletter where I share a lot of exclusive info about Bordeaux and the region – sign up here.