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!
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I started writing this article mostly for myself about a week before the end of confinement. I wanted to come up with a long enough list of places I could go to with my kids or even alone (if that’s ever possible) where we can enjoy the wonders of the region but still keep social distancing. (If you’re reading this in 2050, we were all locked in our houses for two months, just google COVID-19). Gironde is one of the most beautiful departments in France and actually the largest one as well, so within the permitted 100 km radius you can find an overwhelming amount of hiking options. You can discover the parks and lakes around Bordeaux metropole or combine your trips with some heritage in Entre Deux Mers, or the vineyards of Saint Emilion. There are long hiking trails for fit walkers and shorter ones for families with kids. I had so many ideas that I just had to come here and share them with you. I included hiking trails from every part of Gironde to give a big landscape variety. There are of course plenty of other options for hiking around Bordeaux and I will slowly update this list with more trails so bookmark this page and come back whenever you’re in a mood for a walk. I also publish quite a lot of my daily trips on social media so you are of course invited to follow me on Facebook/Instagram. Now let’s start!
Hiking in Bordeaux Metropole
Let’s start with destinations closer to Bordeaux and its suburbs. There are dozens of big and small parks in the metropole that can be perfect for a nice and easy hike, so you don’t even need a car to be able to enjoy the green areas of Bordeaux. The ones I particularly love are Parc de l’Ermitage in Lormont, Parc Majolan in Blanquefort, and Parc Bordelais in Bordeaux. There are of course many more green and lush places in the city and I’m working on an article with the full list which will be published soon. But for now, I wanted to introduce you to a few great hiking trails in Bordeaux Metropole through which you can discover the towns and forests surrounding the city.
Au fil de l’eau bourde – From Talence to Gradignan
I live in Talence so the first one on the list is close to my home, a 5km trail through some of the green areas of Talence and Gradigan. It’s important to mention though that while most of your hike is going to be accompanied by green scenery, this is not a classic nature trail, meaning that you will have to walk through some urban areas to get from one location to another. Having said that, it’s a beautiful path and you will be surprised by some of the parks and monuments located on the footsteps of Bordeaux.
The starting point is Bois de Thouars, a forest located on the border of Talence and Gradignan (it’s recommended to enter the forest from Avenue de Thouars in Talence). Don’t be in a rush here, take your time strolling around the lake, it feels more unspoiled here than many of the other lakes in the area. From this point, you can follow the markup of GR® métropolitain throughout the entire route. But just to make sure you’re in the right direction, here are a few interesting points you should check on the way. From the forest cross the bridge of the rocade (highway) to get to Gradignan (you should reach rue de Bénédigues in Gradignan). After a few more minutes walking, you’ll be on rue Saint-François-Xavier and will enter a green area that follows the Eau Bourde, a little stream of the Garonne river. Your second destination on the trail is Parc de Pelissey in Gradignan. From there continue along the Eau Bourde to enter one of the biggest parks in this town – le Parc du Moulineau. This park is a 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 unfortunately still closed due to Covid 19, but that should not bother you to enjoy the vast green Parc du Moulineau (or Le parc René Canivenc by its other name).
When you leave le Parc du Moulineau continue along the stream to get to Parc Mandavit. From here you will continue to the last destination of this trail – le Parc de Cayac, a historic monument on the Saint-Jacques de Compostelle pilgrimage road. From here you can take bus line number 10 to get back to the Thouars forest. There’s also an option to continue to another 9 km hike through Gradignan. You can find more info about this and other hiking trails in the Metropole here.
Réserve écologique des Barails
If you prefer to forget that cars exist for a couple of hours, this next trail is for you! I’m happy to introduce you to the Réserve écologique des Barails, a beautiful natural reserve spreading over 156 hectares which also includes the beautiful Parc Floral of Bordeaux. Located in the North of Bordeaux (the Bordeaux Lac district), it’s actually the biggest green space in Bordeaux. The reserve consists of different parts each with their own characteristic: the forest, the park, the meadows, the wetlands, and the ecological corridors. It’s so rich with nature that most visitors don’t cover it in one visit.
There are three entries to the park. If you enter through Entree bois you’ll have the pleasure to discover more than 6km of hiking trails in the beautiful green forest. Enter the entree roseraie (next to the Golf de Lac) and you can enjoy a beautiful flower park with more than 500 varieties of roses. The reserve is also perfect for an easy stroll with kids and in fact, it was the first place I took mine after the deconfinement. Before heading there check out the information about the different entrances and parking on the official site of Bordeaux.
Floirac – fil vert – the green path
Le Fil vert on the right side of the river has more than 25 km of hiking to offer, passing through Parc des coteaux, the green space that encompasses most of the parks of Floirac, Cenon, Lormont, and Bassens. There are numerous hiking trails you can do here, depending on what part of “rive droite” you want to discover. You can see some of the trails here.
In this article, I’ll focus on hiking in Floirac and Boulac, a trail called Boucle de Floirac – Bouliac, which starts at Parc Castel in Floirac. The park itself is very cute with an impressive chateau, which is the starting point of your walk. Before you start the green path you can climb to the heights of the park to see the “belvédère” for a nice view. Then go down again to find the green loop path (boucle vert) in the le Chemin de Montagne. After about 500m take a left on the main street (Chemin des plateaux) that you will have to follow to reach le Domaine de la Burthe, the biggest park of Floirac. Enter the park through Chemin de Beaufeu and follow the red and white markup in the park, this will lead you to Ruisseau de Jacotte (a little stream of water). You will then have to go down under the highway to cross to the next town – Bouliac. Continue following the markup until it leads you to the next destination – le Bois de Loc Boué in Bouliac. The final destination on this route is the 12th-century church of Saint-Siméon. From here you can start your way back to Floirac. To avoid repeating the same path, you can take a different route through rue de Bourg. Before leaving rive droite you can also take a walk on Quai Deschamps and enjoy the beautiful view on the Garonne river.
The Saint Emilion region
Discover the lamprey capital of Gironde – Sainte Terre – 6.4 km
I’m sure that many of you are familiar with the beautiful Saint Emilion region. Even if you haven’t had the chance to do any hiking there, most of you living here had the chance to drive through the stunning vineyards of the famous wine region. This trail, however, is different from the usual view you see from Saint Emilion as it goes along the Dordogne river. This is a good opportunity to learn about another product the Saint Emilion region is famous for, the lamproie (lamprey in English). The little village of Sainte Terre is the capital of Lamprey. Start your tour from Église Saint-Alexis, the church of Sainte Terre and walk on Rue du Parlement until you reach the river. Take a nice long stroll along the river until you reach the prohibited area sign, then turn left with the path. Follow the path until you reach the town again and then turn left on Rue du Parlement to reach the town center. On normal days you can also visit the Lamprey’s garden, a small park and the museum of lamprey, however, I believe that it’s still closed for visits. You can see the map of the trails with the points of interest here.
The chateaux and restaurants are still closed, but once they’ll re-open I really recommend combining this hike with a visit to a winery or a nice meal in one of the villages around Saint Emilion. If you want more information on what to do in Saint Emilion, check out my article with everything you need to know about visiting this beautiful village.
Entre Deux Mers
Boucle de Rions – heritage and hillsides
Entre Deux Mers is one of the most beautiful parts of Gironde. An abundance of medieval villages scattered along the Gironde river, centuries-old historic monuments, wineries and a lot of nature makes it a perfect place for day trips from Bordeaux. And above all, it’s also a great region for hiking with several paths mixing heritage and nature. Today I want to focus on hiking around one of my favorite towns in the region – Rions.
Rions is a small medieval town on the hills on the banks of the Garonne river that played an important role in the Hundred Years War and was occupied by England during the 13th century. Even if you come here specifically for hiking, don’t be in a rush and take some time to admire the beautiful houses with old shatters and the colorful flower pots decorating the narrow streets of the village. After you got inspired by the beautiful architecture we can start the hike. Leave the city center following rue Lavidon, through Porte Lavidon, and enjoy a pleasant 4.5 km path with a stunning view of the Garonne hillsides and vineyards. You will enter back through the most impressive gate in Rions, Porte du l’Hyan, the only gate that was kept fully preserved to this day. Before you leave, visit the old ramparts of the city, built in the 14th century and restored in the 18th century. You can find the map and all the details here
The South of Gironde
Hostens is one of the highlights of the South Gironde region. Domaine des Lacs d’Hostens is located at the heart of the Landes de Gascogne forest (50 km from Bordeaux) and offers some of the best hiking trails you can find near Bordeaux. The Domain consists of five different lakes with plenty of water activities as well as hiking trails, mountain bike trails, and more. If you’re after a good hike, head to the second lake, Lac du Bousquey. On the way you can see horses, butterflies and other wonders of nature. There are three trails in the Domain of Hostens: 8, 11 et 16 km long so there is something for both fit walkers and people who just want to enjoy a relatively short walk in nature.
In Hostens you will also find one of the best beaches in Gironde, this one located on the shores of another lake, the lake of Lamothe. So if the weather is good this would be the best way to end your hike.
Lac Vert and Lac Bleu
I really love hiking around lakes! I think that water in combination with the greenery around it gives it a very meditational vibe 🙂 Luckily there are a few beautiful lakes around the area where you can have a lovely walk and admire the colors of the water. The first one is Lac Vert (the green lake) in Canejan and the second one is Lac Bleu (the blue lake) in Leognan, both located about 15/20 minutes’ drive from Bordeaux. Their names derive from the color of the water and they are both stunning.
Did you know that the largest man-made forest in Europe is located just an hour’s drive from Bordeaux? The huge Landes forest has a few hiking trails, one of them starting in Saint Symphorien, a village located about 50 km south of Bordeaux. The route starts from the center of Saint Symphorien, which by itself is not very interesting. But it’s nice to dedicate a few minutes to see the town hall, the gothic Saint Symphorien church, and the cute little Maison Cammunale, which was built during the great depression. To start the walk, leave the city center and walk about 5 minutes on Cours de Verdun until you reach Le Chalet Mauriac. In this house the famous novelist, Francois Mauriac used to spend his vacations as a child. The chateau itself is probably closed right now, but the nice park around it might be open.
Your next destination is Moulin de Marian, an old windmill standing close to the Hure river. This is a nice walk that should take you about 30 minutes. From here continue on the path until you reach the department route number D220. Don’t turn to D220, instead continue straight on D115 until you reach Landes de Lassus, turn left here. Then continue north until you get to l’Atelier des Chemins de fer économiques de la Gironde. The building, built in the 19th century is a testimony of what was one of the main economic activities of this village. The site was closed in 1978 but you can still see some of the machines they used back then. You are now almost back to the center of Saint Symphorien, where our tour ends.
One of my favorite hiking places in the region is Lanton on the Arcachon bay. There are of course many other great places for a promenade around the Bassin but I love the fact that you rarely see any people in Lanton and that the drive is not very long. You can start your walk from Plage de Suzette, which is a little port with a few restaurants on it, from there just follow the trail surrounding the little port. If you’ve ever been to the Bassin d’Arcachon you know that the view changes a lot depending on the tide. This trail goes along the bay and that’s why, depending on the time you arrive, it may feel like walking along the beach or in an apocalyptic desert. The scenery and tranquility are just magical and it’s less than an hour from Bordeaux! To discover more places in Bassin d’Arcachon go to my article about the best day trips to Arcachon Bay.
Ville d’Hiver in Arcachon
Here’s an idea for those who like urban trails. The touristy city of Arcachon currently feels very different from its usual lively vibes. Tourists are yet to flood the region and the restaurants will stay closed until at least June. Why not use this opportunity to discover the beautiful architecture of ville d’Hiver in Arcachon city. The winter city of Arcachon was mainly built in the 19th century and among its 300 villas, you can find some architectural treasures. Here are a few villas you don’t want to miss: Teresa, Toledo, Brémontier, Trocadero, Alexandre Dumas, Bayard, and Athena. Before you go, don’t miss the beautiful Parc Mauresque which separates the winter city from the summer city. If you can read some French, here’s a site with a short history of the most famous villas in the winter city. For more info on what to do in Arcachon city check out my article about Arcachon.
There are of course many more hiking routes in the region. We are surrounded by forests, lakes, parks, old villages, and a lot of heritage, so there’s an endless amount of ideas for a walk. But I wanted to release this article as soon as possible so you can start enjoying the weather and the deconfinement. I will add more ideas for walks in this article in the next few weeks, so I invite you all to return to this page. If you enjoyed reading the article, you can always share it with friends and make them go on a hike instead of the crowded city center 🙂
Before I go, I just wanted to let you know about all the other places you can get my information about traveling in Bordeaux and the Southwest of France.
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The Bassin d’Arcachon or the Arcachon Bay has become one of the most popular destinations in France with more than half a million visitors heading there during July and August alone. While some people rent a house close to the beach, most tourists go there for day trips from Bordeaux, which is located about an hour’s drive from the bay.If you look at the map you’ll see that the Arcachon bay is quite a big place with plenty of villages and activities so how do you choose where to go? That’s what I’m here for! In this article I’m going to introduce you to some of the best destinations for a day trip or a weekend on Bassin D’Arcachon. The places with the most unique atmosphere, the best beaches, interesting activities for you and your kids and spots where you can enjoy the famous Arcachon oysters.
We can roughly divide the bay into two parts, the north and south of the Bassin. When I’m in the mood for a beautiful village or an unspoilt beach I tend to go to the northern part of Arcachon bay. There, you have the most charming villages on the Arcachon Bay like L’herbe, Le Canon, Andernos les Bains and others. However, if I’m in a more active mood, I’d usually go to the southern part of the bay where you can climb the incredible dune de Pilat, visit the oysters museum, spend a day in a huge birds reserve and kayak on the Eyre river.
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’s start discovering some of the most beautiful and interesting places to visit on the Arcachon Bay!
Andernos les Bains – a perfect day trip to the Arcachon Bay
Andernos les Bains is not a prime tourist destination like some of its better-known neighbors on the Bassin d’Arcachon and that, in a way, makes it even more attractive. With an old prehistoric site, 19th-century villas and a long sandy beach overlooking the Bassin, it’s not hard to spend a pleasant day in this seaside resort. Like other towns on the Arcachon bay, Andernos les Bains is also known for oyster farming, and a wealth of restaurants serving delicious oysters and seafood garnish its shores. Most restaurants are located next to the port from which you can take a nice promenade on the longest pier in France. My favorite spot for oysters is Cabane 21 Station des Gus, which is also very kids friendly. But mind you, it’s a spot for real seafood lovers as you won’t find anything else on the menu (except wine of course). Andernos les Bains is also known for its fun events and festivals such as the Festival Cabanes en Fête (an oysters and wine celebration) in December and the Andernos Jazz Festival in July.
How to get from Bordeaux to Andernos les Bains: The best way to get there is by car but if you have no other choice you can also take Bus 601 (Trans Gironde) from Bordeaux center.
L’Herbe – the best-hidden gem on the Arcachon bay
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, there’s no church nor a central square with a bakery and a restaurant. Nonetheless, you can easily say that it is one of the most beautiful villages in the southwest of France.
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 workboat. 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: Same as with Andernos les Bains, a 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. But if you have no choice you can also take Bus 601 (Trans Gironde) from Bordeaux center.
Cap Ferret – dreamy beaches and the best oysters on the Arcachon bay
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 the more southern towns of Arcachon bay.
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 and a taste.
Another fun thing to do in Cap Ferret is to bike 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 from Bordeaux to Cap Ferret: The same 601 bus can take 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. If you’re near Arcachon or le Moulleau, you can see the schedule here.
Arcachon – the city
It’s not my favorite destination on the bay mostly due to it being a town rather than a village. Having said that there are plenty of great things to do in and around the town of Arcachon and if you have the time it’s worth a visit.
The town of Arcachon is divided into four districts, named after the seasons of the year. Ville d’Été, covering the touristic center, main beach, restaurants and boutiques. Ville d’Hiver – the historic center adorned with glamorous 19th-century villas. Ville de Printemps in the west is closer to the most beautiful and less crowded beaches of Arcachon and Ville d’Automne is the beautiful port area packed with great fish restaurants. A visit to Arcachon can easily take the whole day but many tend to combine it with a visit to the Dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe and one of the most popular destinations in France.
Another reason to go to Arcachon is the beautiful beaches located on the south part of the bay. Two that I particularly like are petit Nice and La Corniche where you can also grab a drink at the fancy La corniche hotel /restaurant. A fun way to discover that part of the bay is by bike. You can hire one in the center of Arcachon city and just follow the cycling route along the beach.
In my guide to Arcachon city, you can find all the details about things to do, places to eat, where to hire a bike and what beaches are the best ones to go to in Arcachon.
How to get from Bordeaux to Arcachon: Arcachon is the easiest one to get to by train directly from Bordeaux. A train leaves almost every hour from the main station in Bordeaux and the station of Pessac centre. Beware that if you come by car, free parking is not easy to find, so taking the train is advisable during the touristic season. You have more details about parking in my article about Arcachon.
The Magnificent dune du Pilat in Teste de Buch
If there’s one thing in this list I consider a “must” it’s definitely this one. The gigantic sand dune is one of the wonders of the area, with its 60 million metric cubes of sand it’s quite astonishing the first time you see it. Dune du Pilat is Europe’s tallest sand dune, rising to an impressive 110 m high. It’s also 500 meters wide and 2.7 km long so you’ll have plenty of room to wander. You can climb the dune by stairs that are installed from the end of May to early November. If you come during the low season or just feel energetic, you can just climb straight up the sandy slopes.
Once you reach the top, a stunning panoramic view will be revealed with the Cap Ferret peninsula on one side, a huge pine forest on the other and the magnificent Banc d’Arguin nature reserve just in front. After working so hard climbing the dune, you can slide to the other side (when the sand is not too hot of course) and go straight to the beach. If you’re not in a rush you can easily spend the day here, have a nice picnic and swim in the crystal clear water. It’s hard to describe the beauty of this site in words, you really must see it for yourself.
How to get from Bordeaux to dune du Pilat: If you’re coming by public transport, line 1 (Baia company) will take you from the Arcachon train station to Dune to Pilat. Otherwise, you can get there by car and park in the paid parking of the site.
Lanton – a beautiful promenade
If you’re looking for a beautiful quiet place for a long walk, Lanton is the perfect spot for you. You can start your walk from plage de Suzette, which is a little port with a few restaurants on it and just follow the trail that starts next to the boats. If you’ve ever been to the Bassin d’Arcachon you know that the view changes a lot depending on the tide. This trail goes along the bay and that’s why, depending on the time you arrive, it may feel like walking along the beach or in an apocalyptic desert. If you want to escape the crowds in the summer head to Lanton as the scenery and tranquility are just magical.
The birds’ reserve in Teich
The Teich Ornithological Reserve is a protected nature reserve located some 50km from Bordeaux, where you can watch thousands of wild birds from up-close. 110 hectares of wooded areas, saltmarsh, reed beds and meadows stretch out between the mainland and the Bassin d’Arcachon coastline, offering a perfect habitat for many birds. Some stay here permanently and some just pass by.
The Teich Bird Reserve is explored on foot along a 6 km long circular path (with a shorter route proposed to visitors with young kids). The path goes through a rich diversity of natural habitats, giving a great overall picture of the site and its surrounding areas. I would highly advise taking a binocular with you. Many of the birds stay quite far from the designated Viewpoints and are just too distant to observe. Doing the same route with a binocular made the visit much more interesting in my view.
The Reserve Ornithologique du Teich is open all year long except on December 25, and can even be reached by train (the Teich train station is located about 15 minutes walk from the reserve). For more info see the website of the reserve: https://www.reserve-ornithologique-duteich.com/en/
Gujan Mestras – the capital of oysters
Gujan-Mestras is a little town known as the capital of oyster farming on the Bassin d’Arcachon. It has seven oyster ports which you can visit and watch oyster farmers’ work. You can even join one of the farmers and take part in their work for a few hours. Find the list of farmers providing that experience on the tourist office website.
You can also visit the “Maison de Huitre”, an interactive museum where you discover everything about oyster farming. And finally, don’t forget to taste the freshest oysters in one of the cabanes along the coastline, many of which are located at the famous Port de Larros. Gujan-Mestras also has a beautiful beach called Plage de la Hume. Due to its interior position on the Arcachon bay, there are almost no waves and it feels more like a lake than a sea beach, which makes it very kids friendly.
The town hall of Gujan-Mestras is quite active and hosts plenty of nice events for kids and adults in the summer, you can find them all on their site: https://www.gujanmestras.com
How to get to Gujan Mestras? The same train that goes to Arcachon also stops in Gujan Mestras so you can easily get there by train if you don’t want to drive.
These are some of my favorite spots on the Arcachon bay, and I hope it will encourage you to get out and spend at least one day in this magical place.
I truly believe that the best way to discover the center of Bordeaux is by foot, simply because every building in this city is an architectural work of art worthy of your full attention. One exception is the waterfront of Bordeaux, which is the perfect place for cycling in the city. Surely if you’ve been living here for a while you would think that there are many other interesting trails around the city, but for a newcomer, this cycling route is the best way to discover some of Bordeaux’s most interesting and entertaining spots. In this article, I’m going to introduce you to the “Bridge to Bridge” cycling route in Bordeaux. This trail starts from “la rive gauche”, the western side of Pont Pierre (the central bridge of Bordeaux). It then continues north all along the waterfront until you get to the most modern bridge of Bordeaux, Pont Chaban Delmas. From there you will cross to the Bastide neighborhood, the local’s favorite weekend getaway.
In this article, I’m going to mention all the beautiful monuments and interesting places you should pay attention to as well as recommend places that require a longer stop. I do want to want to warn you that there are quite a lot of stops here, I wrote them all just for you have all the options, but if you really want to feel like you’re cycling you might want to skip some of them 🙂 I am only referring to places located along the waterfront so If you want a deeper introduction to Bordeaux go to my ultimate guide to a weekend in Bordeaux. There is so much to see on the way and I don’t want you to miss any of it, so tune in and let’s start cycling. *For information on bike rentals go to the bottom of the article.
What not to miss while cycling in Bordeaux
The “rive gauche” – the 18th-century charm of Bordeaux
Start your tour next to the central and oldest bridge of Bordeaux, Pont de Pierre. The first bridge of Bordeaux was commissioned by Napoleon I at the beginning of the 19th century. Prior to the building of this bridge, the only way to get to the other side was by boat. If you’re using the city bikes, there is a station just a minute walk north of Port de Bourgogne, otherwise, look on the map of available bikes here.
Now that you have your bike, you can start cycling north, all along the Garonne river. Look at the shape of the river, does that remind you of anything? The Garonne river is shaped like a moon and that’s where Bordeaux got its’ nickname “la Port de la Lune” – the moon port.
It’s time for some sightseeing! It will be very hard to miss the first monument on our route, the spectacular Porte Cailhau, one of the two original gates to the old city of Bordeaux. It was built in 1495 to commemorate the glory of king Charles VIII and you can find the statue of the king right in the center of it.
Stop 1 – the most popular monument of Bordeaux
We are in front of the Miroir d’eau, which is by far the most popular location in Bordeaux during the summer. And although you’ve been cycling for only a couple of minutes this place demands a stop. This modern monument, built in 2006, is the world’s largest reflecting pool. The surface is made from blue granite covered in water, reflecting the 18th century Place de la Bourse. During the summer months, the system of le Miroir d’eau operates in cycles of 15 minutes creating a shallow pool where you can wet your feet and a fog at the end of the cycle when the water is coming down.
I would highly recommend crossing the road to Place de la Bourse and take a look at this masterpiece of classic French architecture from the 18th century. Don’t miss the famous mascarons of Bordeaux, these are the little faces looking on you from the arches of the buildings. There are more than 3000 mascarons decorating the buildings and monuments of Bordeaux, taking inspiration from Greek mythology, wild animals, religion and the economical development of Bordeaux. To learn a bit more about the architecture of Bordeaux go to the Bordeaux Patrimoine Mondial, an architectural and heritage interpretation center. The center hosts a modern exhibition presenting various stages in the development of Bordeaux and the factors that have influenced its construction.
You can now pop on your bikes and continue to our next stop, but before we get there, here are a few places I don’t want you to miss.
Place des Quinconces Place des Quinconces is the largest city square in France! On one of the sides of this enormous square, you will find the beautiful monument dedicated to the Girondins (members of a political faction) who were killed during the French Revolution. Throughout the year the square hosts many different events, festivals and fairs such as the Brocante de Quinconces. I tend to write a lot about the events that take place on Place des Quinconces so be sure to check out my monthly and weekly updates about things to do in Bordeaux for up to date recommendations.
Remembring the slave trade in Bordeaux In the last few years, Bordeaux has become more engaged in trying to acknowledge its dark past of slave trade that took place from the 17th to the 19th century. A decade ago you could barely find any remanence of Bordeaux’s role as the second biggest slave trade port in France. Today, however, several statues of slaves can be found in the city and Bordeaux’s triangular slave trade voyages carrying more than 150,000 slaves are documented in the Musee d’Aquitaine.
One of the most beautiful statues was created by a Haitian sculptor named Filipo and is located right here on the waterfront, just in front of the Bourse Maritime. The statue depicts a young slave named Modeste Testas who was bought when she was only 15 years old by two Bordelaise brothers. She worked on their plantation in Saint-Domingue and was set free after the death of her owner. You can read about her story on the panel explaining the statue.
If you’re in an artistic mood our second stop is for you! CAPC is the contemporary art museum of Bordeaux located between the Quinconces and Chartrons districts. The museum is housed in an impressive former warehouse from the 19th century where commodities, traded down the river, used to be stored. In the permanent collection, there are almost 300 works of art and it regularly hosts temporary exhibitions that are dedicated to the history of art. I have visited the place several times and while the exhibitions are not always the best, the building itself is very impressive. On top of the building you can find a very chic restaurant, a nice place to stop for lunch or a drink.
If you want to see what other museums Bordeaux has to offer, check out my article about the Museums of Bordeaux.
Stop 3 – lunch on the Quai des Chartrons
If you’re feeling peckish, Quai des Chartrons is the perfect location for a good lunch. You have many good restaurants along the waterfront to choose from, two of my favorite ones are Symbiose and Pastel.
If you’re doing the cycling tour on Sunday, don’t miss one of the best markets taking place every Sunday morning on Quai des Chartrons. This market hosts dozens of food stalls selling everything from fresh fruits, cheese, pastries and oysters. Besides the fresh local products you can buy at the market it’s simply a very nice spot to have an early lunch or a plate of oysters with white wine if you want to feel like a local.
If you are not time constrained take an hour or two to discover the super chic Chartrons district. You can simply follow my article about the best things to do in Chartrons.
Stop 4 – Cap Sciences
If you’re doing this bike tour with kids here’s another cool place to keep in mind. Cap Science is a nice science museum that proposes interactive exhibitions and activities all dedicated to different aspects of science. The museum is located at Hangar 20, Quai de Bacalan. For other activities for kids check out my list of 30 things to do with kids in Bordeaux.
Just next to it don’t miss Pont Chaban Delmas, a modern bridge that was inaugurated in 2013 and named after one of the mayors of the city. It’s the longest vertical-lift bridge in Europe and seeing it elevating to let the tall ships pass is a very impressive sight.
Before you cross the bridge to the other side let’s discover another hip neighborhood in Bordeaux
The Bacalan neighborhood – the cool kid on the block
Bacalan is a northern district of Bordeaux, an area that, until recently, has largely been avoided by tourists and locals. The grungy landscapes of the port and its distance from the city center aren’t as appealing as the beautiful architecture and lovely squares of the historic center of Bordeaux. In the last few years, however, the Bacalan district has been changing its face, emerging to be one of the most interesting places in Bordeaux, with plenty of new neighborhoods and places to explore.
You can spend a few hours discovering this cool place, using my guide to the Bacalan district. But as we’re in the midst of our “Bridge to Bridge” cycling trail, I’ll point out two of the places close to the river that I think you should visit.
Stop 5 – La cité du Vin
La Cité du Vin is Bordeaux’s famous wine museum. This impressive piece of modern architecture is one of a kind cultural center, all dedicated to discovering the wine world. Through its interactive exhibition, It offers a journey to both French and global wine history. You will learn about winemaking, see movies and interviews with wine producers and then pass on to smell and taste wine. The Cité du Vin allows you to discover a selection of wines from all over the world and offers one of the best panoramic views of Bordeaux. You can think of it as a kind of wine amusement park that can be very enjoyable to both wine lovers and people who don’t drink at all.
Read more about visiting the world’s best wine museum in my article about the Cité du Vin.
Stop 6 – the Bacalan Market
It’s time for a little break from sightseeing to go for a drink in one of Bordeaux’s chic markets – les Halles de Bacalan, located just in front of the wine museum. This impressive 950m2 hangar hosts more than 20 artisans that were chosen for the quality of their products (85% of which are produced in the South-West region of France).
The “rive droite” – the hipster hub
You can now go back to the modern bridge and cross it to the eastern side – la rive droite. The Bastide neighborhood represents another side of Bordeaux’s charm. Instead of the classic monuments, it has a much more tranquil and funky spirit that attracts many local families and young hipsters of Bordeaux on weekends. This district is especially charming from May to October when you can enjoy all its green areas and all the summer bars and restaurants on the riverfront.
Let me walk you over some of the best places to stop by at the Bastide neighborhood.
Stop 7 – Fabrique Pola
Our next stop is definitely not a must, but it can be a nice place to discover for art lovers. La Fabrique Pola is an artistic hub that brings together associations related to the visual arts. They always have different (usually free) exhibitions running and sometimes on weekends, they have live music on the banks of the Garonne. For the program take a look at their site.
Stop 8 – Darwin
Darwin is probably the main reason to cross the river to the east part of the city. It’s an old military base turned into an urban space with a huge chic restaurant and a cafe/organic food shop, a skate park for all ages, a second-hand shop and many other surprises, all with an agenda of ecological awareness. Whether alone or with kids you can spend hours in Darwin. It is also one of the most extraordinary places for street art and includes some amazing works by a lot of talented artists on every one of its buildings.
If you’re interested in plants or just love beautiful gardens, don’t miss the neighboring Jardin Botanique. This little park was created to allow the wide public to discover the world of plants, biodiversity and sustainability.
Stop 9 – finish your day with a fabulous picnic
Your cycling route along Quai des Queyries (the waterfront of “rive droite”) goes through one of the best green corners of Bordeaux. That part of the Bastide district is called Parc aux Angéliques, a wide green space with a stunning view on some of the most stunning monuments in the center of Bordeaux. Closer to Darwin, the vibe gets more hipstery.. further away and it’s more of an extended family kind of atmosphere 😉
On summer days it’s one of the best places for a picnic in the city. If you don’t have any food with you, just go over to Magasin Général in Darwin and buy some cheese and wine (the perfect set for a French picnic). For a larger selection go to the Carrefour supermarket on Allée Serr. For other beautiful green spots in the city, check out my article about the best places for picnics in Bordeaux.
Before you go back to the center of Bordeaux through Pont Pierre, stop by one of the most famous statues of “rive droite”, Le Lion. The blue lion on Place Stalingrad is created by a famous French artist Xavier Veilhan as a tribute to the victory of the Soviet army during the Second World War.
That’s it, our cycling route in Bordeaux has come to its end. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop! Bordeaux is a super friendly city for cycling and you can continue discovering other neighborhoods and parks. You might get some ideas from the article about the Five alternative ways to discover Bordeaux.
Where to rent bikes in Bordeaux
There are plenty of places to rent bikes in Bordeaux, one of them is located just next to our starting point, next to Pont Pierre. The shop is called Bordeaux Velo and the address is 46 Quai Richelieu.
However, if you’re on a budget or just don’t want to commit to a bike for several hours you can use city bikes that are spread all over the city. The price is only 1.7 euros for 24 hours if you return them to the station every 30 minutes (you can take another bike right away). If you rather not spend your time looking for a station in the middle of your trip you can return them after you finish your ride and pay 2 euros for every additional hour.
If you live in Bordeaux you also have the possibility to rent a free bike for several months. The organization is called la Maison métropolitaine des mobilités alternatives (MAMMA) and it’s located at 69 cours Pasteur – 33000 Bordeaux. You can check out all the details here.
I hope you enjoyed this beautiful city and if you have a few more days in the area don’t forget to check out my article about the best day trips from Bordeaux. If you want more tips on restaurants, concerts and exhibitions follow me on facebook/Instagram. Or better yet, join my newsletter where I share a lot of exclusive info about Bordeaux and the region – sign up here.
Markets are probably one of the most exciting experiences in France. The fresh oysters coming directly from the sea, the huge variety of cheese and seasonal fruits can get me more excited than most works of art. As the French love buying their food at the market, there’s always an impressive amount of them in every city, many of which are weekly held taking place on the main square of every neighborhood. Luckily for us, Bordeaux has one of the best market scenes in France! Besides the small weekly markets in the different neighborhoods of the city, there are several big covered ones that are open daily and offer a great shopping and dining experience. Also, this is one of the most prolific agricultural regions in France, so visiting the markets are absolutely a must here. You have the most delicious strawberries from Lot et Garonne, tomatoes from Marmande, sheep cheese from the Basque country, duck from the Dordogne, and that’s only the short list of all the delicacies you’ll find in the markets here. In this article, I will help you discover the best food markets in Bordeaux, both in the city center and in the suburbs. Let’s start!
Food Markets in Bordeaux city
Marché des Capucins
The Capucins market is one of the most visited places in Bordeaux. It’s the city’s biggest daily market and it has everything from fruits and spices, to local sweets and plenty of oysters stands. You can spend hours here strolling between the stands and discover the gastronomy of the Southwest of France. To make it an even better experience finish it with lunch in one of the many restaurants in the market. If you need help choosing what and where to eat, check out my article about the best places to eat in Marche des Capucins. This is a covered market so it can also be a perfect place to escape from one of Bordeaux’s rainy days. Weekends are especially busy in Capucins with locals meeting their friends for oysters and wine after their market run. So if you want to get a table on a Sunday be sure to be there before 11 am.
You can also join my food tours in the market which is a fun way to learn about the local food scene.
Opening hours: Open daily except Mondays / Address: Place des Capucins, 33800 Bordeaux
Marche des Quais
Every Sunday morning dozens of food stalls with the best oysters of the region, fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, fish, wine and plenty of food trucks are installed on the Quai des Chartrons. The market is usually quite busy with both locals and tourists, especially if you come towards noon, but it’s still worth the visit. Besides the local products you can buy at the market it’s simply a very nice spot to have an early lunch. For many visitors, the main attraction is the few stalls with oysters which cost around 6 euros per plate and come with a glass of white wine. It kind of embodies the good life atmosphere in this region 🙂
On Thursdays, a smaller market takes place at the same place. It hosts only a few stalls and doesn’t have the lively atmosphere of the Sunday market but if you need good organic products to cook at home, it’s a good market to go to.
Opening hours: Every Sunday and Thursday morning / Address: Place des Capucins, 33800 Bordeaux
Les Halles de Bacalan
This fancy food market opened its gates on November 2017 and has been visited by more than 60,000 people in the first month. It’s no surprise, as Bordeaux is well known for its gourmand population. This impressive 950m2 hangar is located just in front of the famous Cité du Vin and hosts 23 different artisans and merchants that were chosen for the quality of their products (85% of which are produced in the Southwest of France). Most weekends the market hosts different events like pintxos evenings, cooking workshops, music concerts and activities for kids. This is one of the best places to go for an afternoon drink and tapas with friends.
If you have time, you can stay a bit longer and explore one of the rising neighborhoods in the city. Read about it in my article about the Bacalan district. If you would also like to visit one of the best wine museums in the world, check out my article about visiting the Cité du Vin.
Opening hours: from Tuesday to Sunday (the market closes between 14:30 t0 16:30 on weekdays) / Address: 149 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux
Marché Royal in Saint Michel
Marché Royal is one of the biggest open-air markets in Bordeaux, taking place every Saturday morning at Place Meynard in the Saint Michel district. The surroundings of the church and bell tower are covered by tens of stalls, with merchants selling everything from fruits and vegetables to kitchen supplies, clothes and even pillows :). From my experience, this is the cheapest market in Bordeaux. However, if you are into organic produce, this one is probably not for you. On sunny Saturday mornings, the market attracts both locals, doing their weekly shopping and outsiders that come for the noisy market atmosphere and chic cafés.
On Monday mornings a different market is taking place in front of the church. You will find very diversified merchandise displayed on the stands of Marché Neuf, including books, house supplies, clothing, toys and more, however, it’s not a food market and doesn’t have the vibe of Marché Royal. This market is composed of hundreds of stands but has a more local vibe to it. On Sundays and Fridays, antiques and flea markets are also taking place on the same square so this place is always worth a visit.
Opening hours: Saturday for the food market, and Monday, Friday and Sunday for the other markets / Address: Place Meynard, 33000 Bordeaux
Marché de Producteurs Saint-Seurin
The producers market of Saint Seurin takes place every Friday morning at Place des Martyrs de la Résistance, about 10 minutes walk from the center of Bordeaux. It is a fairly small market with about 20 stalls but has a very cozy atmosphere and a variety of high-quality products from local farmers. In addition, it’s located on a beautiful square next to one of the most impressive churches of Bordeaux, la Basilique Saint Seurin, so it’s definitely worth a visit.
Opening hours: Every Friday Morning (7:00-13:00) / Address: Place des Martyrs de la Résistance
Markets around Bordeaux Metropole
Les Halles de Talence
The Talence market is the little brother of the Bacalan market, built by Biltoki in December 2018. This too has a bit of a fancy vibe to it compared to Marche des Capucins, the main market of Bordeaux. The prices are not very cheap but you have everything you need in this covered market: a butcher, seafood, a bakery, a tapas stand that also makes a great sangria and more. The Biltoki bar in the center of the market welcomes plenty of locals who love to visit the market for a beer or a cup of coffee on the bar. Like the Bacalan market, Les Halles de Talence too hosts plenty of nice events with concerts and a local vibe.
Every Wednesday there’s also an open-air market (in front of the covered market) that offers great products at much more reasonable prices. If you want to stay for lunch, a few nice food trucks are there to welcome you every Wednesday until about 14:00.
When: Daily except for Mondays, the market closes for a break between 14:30 to 16:30 on weekdays / Where: Place Alcala de Henares, 33400 Talence
Thouars Talence – Every Sunday
Let’s stay in Talence just a little bit longer as there’s another great market I must mention in this list. This one takes place every Sunday morning in the Thouars forest in Talence, just in front of the swimming pool. This is the biggest weekly market of Talence with tens of stands with great French products. I particularly love going there for the big variety of fruits and veggies and for the deals at the fish stall (if you come towards noon of course). This is not only a food market! You can also find other practical things like plants, clothing and kitchen accessories. The market is located within a few steps from a beautiful lake so you can also make a nice picnic day out of it. It’s not the easiest one to get to by public transport but if you have a car it’s worth a visit.
When: Sunday morning / Where: the parking of 235 Avenue de Thouars, 33400 Talence
Le Marché du Centre-ville de Mérignac
Another market I really love attending during the weekend is the Merignac city center market. The market takes place every Wednesday and Saturday morning on Place Charles de Gaulle, just next to Mediatheque Mérignac, the city library. A short ride on tram A from the center of Bordeaux will take you to one of the best markets in the city, with tens of stalls of regional wine, a huge variety of cheese, nuts, honey, pastries and all the basics like vegetables, meat and fish. In the center, there are tables put in place for you to enjoy a nice cup of coffee from the market’s coffee roaster stall. I visit this market quite often so I might even see you there 🙂
When: Wednesday and Saturday / Where: Place Charles de Gaulle, Merignac
A very nice market takes place in the center of Pessac every Tuesday and Saturday morning. Pessac is one of the more charming suburbs of Bordeaux and a market day is a good excuse to visit its lovely city center. The market is not big but the products are excellent, I especially love the cheese stall. And as a bonus, you can finish your market tour with a drink in one of the coffee places on the square. You can reach it easily by public transport, just take tram B from the center of Bordeaux to Pessac Centre.
A much bigger market is taking place not far from the center every Sunday morning. Le marché Bourrec, on Avenue Pierre Wiehn is hosting more than 150 merchants and farmers coming from all the departments surrounding Bordeaux (Lot et Garonne, Dordogne, Landes…) with the best products of our region. This market also has stalls of clothing, art and more.
When: Tuesday and Saturday and Sunday / Where: Place de la Ve République and Avenue Pierre Wiehn. Pessac.
Marché de Rochefort – Gradignan
Marché de Rochefort is a market I discovered just recently and I think it’s a great option for those who live in the Southern suburbs of Bordeaux. More than 70 merchands arrive here every Saturday morning selling everything from meat to cheese and fish, flowers and more. As it’s a very local market there’s a very cozy vibe to it. People are greeting each other and the customers share their cooking ideas and stories from their family dinners with the merchants who come here every week. It’s a very nice market if you’re looking for a calmer local vibe rather than a touristy atmosphere. It’s located next to the central road of Gradignan, Cours du Général de Gaulle so it’s easy to get there by public transport from Bordeaux and Talence (bus line 10 stops next to it).
When: Saturday morning (8:00-13:00) / Where: rue de Rochefort ( between the cemetery and le collège des Fontaines de Monjous), Gradignan.
Marché de Bassens
The Bassens market is less known by most tourists but it’s actually one of the biggest markets in our region and one of the most popular among people on the rive droite of the Garonne. The market takes place every Sunday on place de la Commune de Paris in Bassen, a town located just after Lormont. Almost 150 stalls are waiting for you with some of the best products in the southwest of France. There are oysters from Arcachon and from Ile de Re, charcuterie from the Basque country, tarts from the Landes and other produce from almost every corner of Nouvelle Aquitaine. Among them, there are quite a few food stalls like Morocain couscous, Portuguese grilled chicken and a coffee place. You can spend a really fun morning here, strolling the many alleys of the market and tasting local food.
When: Sunday morning (9:00-13:00) / Where:place de la Commune de Paris, Bassens
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When you think about festivals in Bordeaux, the first thing that comes to mind is wine and gastronomy. But let’s not forget that Bordeaux is the capital of the Southwest of France and one of France’s cultural hubs. So it’s not a surprise that there are quite a few big music festivals in Bordeaux. In this post, I gathered the biggest music festivals in Bordeaux and a few other attractive locations in Gironde. The list is very varied and I deliberately included many music genres like Jazz, Rock, electronic music and even Reggae. I added the dates of the festivals in 2020 (if published). For more information about the time and place follow my monthly and weekly lists, or subscribe to my newsletter.
Music Festivals in Bordeaux Metropole
Bordeaux Rock Festival
The Bordeaux rock festival takes place every January in the best music venues around the city, among them places like the Iboat, Quartier libre, L’avant scène, Void, La Tencha, La Voute, L’imperio, L’Antidote, and Salle des fêtes du grand parc. This festival was founded in 2004 by Bordeaux Rock, an association created to promote emerging music through cultural events. This festival is considered the main rock festival of Bordeaux, with tens of local and international acts performing here every year. In 2020 the festival will take place on January 22-26.
Bordeaux Open Air
The Bordeaux Open Air festival is a series of music events taking place in different locations during the summer. These are all electronic music concerts, hosting djs from all over the world. They have a very young urban vibe to them and they are completely free! Some of the events are taking place in Jardin Public, right in the center of Bordeaux and in other parks around Bordeaux metropole. With this festival your summer Sundays are covered. The dates of the Bordeaux Open Air event are published closer to the end of the spring and will be updated here.
Bordeaux relache festival
Another “all summer” festival is the Relache Festival. This one was created by the Allez les filles association in 2015 with the goal of providing free quality concerts to everyone. The festival lasts around three months (from June to August), with one or two concerts taking place on one of the squares of Bordeaux during each weekend. The program usually includes concerts of both local and international bands in many genres of music. The dates of the concerts will be updated here as summer approaches.
Fête de la musique
La Fête de la Musique is a French national day, dedicated to the celebration of music, with free concerts and street parties happening on the same day (June 21) all over France. This is an extraordinary day where you have the chance to walk around the city and enjoy an endless amount of small and big concerts from many genres of music. Like every other city in France, Bordeaux too celebrates La Fête de la musique with its own street concerts and activities.
Climax Festival is an annual electronic festival taking place in Darwin, one of the coolest places in Bordeaux. Besides the electronic live concerts, the festival includes many conferences, debates and cultural events related to climate change and other environmental issues. The festival takes place every year at the beginning of September. For more info about the festival click here.
Here’s a festival that’s slightly different from other events on this list – the Piano festival of Bordeaux. Festival L’esprit du Piano takes place every year in the Auditorium of Bordeaux, usually mid November – beginning of December. Every year this festival hosts worldwide known pianists like Abdullah Ibrahim, Chick Corea, Yefim Bronfman and more. Read more about the festival here.
Music festivals close to Bordeaux (the Southwest of France)
This is a great event for all electronic music lovers who want to enjoy the unique atmosphere of an electronic music festival and still stay in the region of Bordeaux. Festival Millesime takes place in the early summer days in a beautiful town, La Réole, located about 40 minutes drive from Bordeaux. The festival hosts more than 30 electronic artists on three stages that are located on the banks of the Garonne river. Live electronic music with a beautiful view, sounds like a perfect summer festival to me.
This year (2020) the festival will take place on May 29-30– click here for more details.
Jazz Festival in Saint Emilion
Saint Emilion with its romantic scenery is the perfect place to host this elegant event. The Saint Emilion Jazz festival was founded in 2012 and since then has been taking place every year in June / July. It has become one of the most popular music events in the South West of France, attracting around 10k visitors every year. During the three days of the festival Saint Emilion offers a great mix of jazz concerts, wine tasting and tasty food. In the festival area you will find a wine bar with the wines of Saint Emilion and a gourmand market with local products and food trucks. In 2020 the festival is taking place on June 26-27.
One of the biggest music festivals in our region is about to take place in June in Marmande (about an hour drive from Bordeaux). Garorock is an international festival with 5 big stages that usually hosts more than 50 French and international artists. In 2020 the festival is going to take place on June 25-28. For more info and tickets click here.
Arcachon en Scene
Arcachon en Scene is a popular music festival that brings big French and international acts to perform in this beautiful beach resort town. The festival usually takes place at the end of July/ beginning of August.
Les Estivales de Musique
Les Estivales de Musique en Medoc is the only music festival in France dedicated exclusively to young laureates of international competitions. The festival was created in 2003 to discover new talents in classical music. The concerts are hosted in some of the most prestigious châteaux in the Medoc area and are followed by wine tastings. The dates of 2020 will be updated closer to the event. See more info about the festival here.
One of the biggest music festivals in the Bordeaux area actually takes place in a small village in the Landes department, named Luxey. The Musicalarue music festival usually takes place in mid August in the forest, just next to the village. The lineup includes a very long list of artists and bands, which in previous years included some big names such as Shaka Ponk, Gaël Faure and Matmatah, Patti Smith, Orelsan and more. In 2020 the festival will take place on July 31- August 2 – click here for more info.
Reggae Sun Ska music festival
Sun Ska is a huge Reggae festival taking place every August in Vertheuil, between the vineyards of the Medoc area. The lineup includes tens of artists with some big names like Ziggy Marley and the French Dub Inc. The festival was created in 1998 and besides music, it has a strong environmental agenda. During the days of the festival, many activities are taking place to raise environmental awareness among the participants.
In 2020 the festival is taking place on August 7-9 – for more details click here.
In this list, I included only the main music events taking place in and around Bordeaux. These, however, represent only a fraction of the cultural life in the region. There are tens of music, gastronomic and other cultural events taking place during the year. If you want to be up to date on all other events taking place in Bordeaux you can read my monthly lists or follow the Lost in Bordeaux Facebook page where I regularly post about activities in the region. If you want to know more about events taking place in other parts of the Southwest of France join the Travel in Southwest of France Facebook group.
Bordeaux is so rich and beautiful that you can spend several days here without visiting even one museum. But actually, to the surprise of many tourists, Bordeaux has quite a variety of interesting museums. In this small city you can see permanent exhibitions of classic art, modern design, street art, architecture, archeology and more. In this article, I gathered a list of the most interesting museums to visit in Bordeaux. So if you’re in a cultural mood, this article is for you. If you found this article while desperately looking for something to do on a rainy day, check out more ideas in my article about the best things to do when it’s raining in Bordeaux.
Just before we start I need to mention a few important bits of information.
Discounts for Bordeaux’s museums
The fees that I mention next to every museum represent the full ticket price. But that doesn’t mean you will have to pay that price as there are plenty of discounts in France. The price is usually reduced (or even free in some cases) for students, people under 25 yo, seniors, people with disabilities, unemployed, and people holding the Bordeaux city pass. So it’s always good to check the site of the museum to see if you can get a reduced price.
Bordeaux city pass – This pass is a card you can buy online or at the tourist office that allows you to freely use the public transport, visit plenty of museums and enjoy some attractions for a reduced price. This pass is available for 24, 48 or 72 consecutive hours (the prices are 29€, 39€ and 43€ euros respectively). Even the expensive wine museum is there so it’s really worth checking out if you plan to visit a few places and use public transport a lot. You can see all the details and purchase the Bordeaux city pass here. Bordeaux museums pass – this pass is more interesting for people who live here or visit the city on a regular basis. The pass gives you unlimited entry for a year to seven museums in the city. You can see the list of museums and all the details here. The price is 25 € for a single pass and 37,50 € for a couple pass. You can purchase it in any of the museums mentioned in the link above. Free Sunday – many of the museums in the city are free on the first Sunday of the month, which includes permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Now that we’re done with all that let’s get into our artistic mood and start discovering the museums of Bordeaux.
Wine museums in Bordeaux
Cité du Vin
The Cité du Vin is one of the most popular attractions on the tourist trail in Bordeaux. In the last couple of years, it has become one of Bordeaux’s most iconic institutions even though it opened its doors only in 2016. The extraordinary building, inspired by the movement of wine swirling in a glass, is a one of a kind cultural center, all dedicated to discovering the wine world. Through its interactive exhibition, It offers a journey to both French and global wine history, culture and knowhow. You will learn about winemaking, see movies and interviews with wine producers and then smell and taste wine. The Cite du Vin allows you to discover a selection of wines from all over the world in its spectacular wine shop and to see the best panoramic view of Bordeaux. The fee of the museum is quite high (20 euros) so if you want to decide if it’s worth the money, you can read my article about my visit to the cite du vin to get a good idea of what to expect.
You can also skip the line and buy the tickets online- click here to purchase the tickets.
Address: Esplanade de Pontac, 134 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm and Saturday – Sunday and bank and school holidays from 10am to 7pm Fee: 20€ for adults and 9€ for kids and free for kids under 6 years old. The site of the museum: https://www.laciteduvin.com/en
Musée du Vin et du Négoce de Bordeaux
Apart from the Cité du vin, Bordeaux also has another wine museum that is dedicated to Bordeaux’s wine history. Musée du Vin et du Négoce is a small museum, located in what used to be the house of an Irish négociant (wine merchant) in the 18th century. During that time Chartons was the neighborhood of Flemish, Irish and German wine merchants who settled close to the Garonne river in order to export wine to their home countries. Thanks to this museum you can go back in time and see how a typical house of a négociant used to look like. The ground floor was used to store wine and meet the winemakers and potential customers and the top floor was the residence of the family. Throughout your visit you will learn about the evolution of winemaking in Bordeaux during the last three centuries. You will discover old techniques and equipment that were used at the time and the way wine was stored and shipped. It goes into interesting details like the first use of bottles to age wine, the first wine etiquettes and more.
This museum is small and not as modern and interactive as the Cité du vin but if you want to learn about the history of the Bordeaux wine region this is the place to go. It ends with a very nice wine tasting session where you get plenty of explanations about the different wine appellations in Bordeaux. The museum is located in the northern part of rue Notre Dame, one of the most interesting streets in Bordeaux. If you want to know what else you can do on that street and generally in the posh Chartrons neighborhood, go to my article about the Chartrons district.
Address: The entrance is from 41 Rue Borie, Bordeaux Opening hours: Open every day 10:00-18:00 Fee: 10€ (visit and two glasses of wine) The site of the museum: https://www.museeduvinbordeaux.com/
Art Museums in Bordeaux
Le musée des beaux-arts – fine arts
Le musée des beaux-arts is the main art museum of Bordeaux, known for its large collection of sculptures and paintings from the 16th to the 20th century. The museum owns a huge collection of more than 6000 paintings, 600 sculptures and 3000 drawings. Nevertheless, the museum is quite small and so most of these artworks are not displayed to the public. It’s a very nice museum but it’s quite modest so don’t expect a second Louvre here :). The museum is located in a beautiful house built in 1801 and has one of the most beautiful gardens in Bordeaux. The permanent collection includes a lot of famous works by artists like Pérugin, Rubens, Chardin, Delacroix, and Matisse alongside Bordelaise artists such as Odilon Redon and Albert Marquet. The museum often hosts temporary exhibitions as well as concerts and art events.
Address: 20 Cours d’Albret, 33000 Bordeaux Opening hours: Open every day except Tuesday 11:00-18:00 Fee: 5€ , free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August) The site of the museum: http://www.musba-bordeaux.fr/
Le CAPC – musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux
CAPC is the contemporary art museum of Bordeaux located in the chic Chartrons district. The museum is housed in an impressive former warehouse from the 19th century where commodities, traded down the river, used to be stored. It was planned to be demolished in the 20th century but was saved thanks to a new law protecting houses with historic importance. In 1984 the city decided to transform this unique space into a museum of contemporary art, an idea which was very innovative at the time. In the permanent collection, there are almost 300 works of art and it regularly hosts temporary exhibitions that are dedicated to the history of art. I’ll admit that I’m not always a fan of their exhibitions, having said that, I think the place in itself is very impressive and worth a visit.
The museum is also home to the Architecture center “Arc en rêve”, which hosts temporary exhibitions related to urban planning, design, landscaping and more. I usually find their exhibitions super interesting and recommend visiting it when you are at the museum. The center is located on the first floor and is sometimes hard to find, so just ask for help from one of the employees. The entry is free every first Sunday of the month (except July and August).
Address: 7 Rue Ferrere, 33000 Bordeaux Opening hours: Open from Tuesday to Sunday 11:00-18:00. Every second Wednesday of the month the museum in open until 20:00. Fee: 7€, free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August) The site of the museum: http://www.capc-bordeaux.fr/capc
Musée des Art décoratifs et du Design
The museum of decorative art and design is located in a beautiful 18th-century mansion and is one of UNESCO’s heritage sites in Bordeaux. It has a large collection of furniture, porcelain and art objects, dating to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The building itself, named Hotel de Lalande, was built by Pierre- Raymond de Lalande, a counselor of the Parliament of Bordeaux and is an architectural piece of art by itself. Through the museum’s backyard, you pass to a separate building (former stables) where the temporary exhibitions are presented. These are usually very good and attract many locals. If you’re hesitating on whether to spend your time in this museum check out their website for the temporary exhibitions as these alone can be worth the visit. The museum is free every first Sunday of the month, except for July and August.
Address: 39 rue Bouffard 33000 Bordeaux Opening hours: Open every day except Tuesday 11:00-18:00 Fee: 5€, free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August) The site of the museum: https://madd-bordeaux.fr/
La Base Sous Marine
This is one of the most unique places in Bordeaux. Built by the Germans during the Second World War, this old submarine base has been converted into a space dedicated to contemporary art, allowing you to enjoy the space itself no less than the art presented. It can be a bit tricky to find the entrance, so if you come from the la Cité du Vin tram station be sure to walk on rue Lucien Faure before turning right to Boulevard Alfred Daney. Also, if you come with kids, it’s important to know that strollers are not allowed in the exhibition as it’s dark and has a lot of stairs (you will have to leave the stroller next to the entrance).
Starting from April 17, 2020 the museum will go through a huge transformation and the Base Sous-Marine will become the Bassin des Lumières! It currently belongs to the city of Bordeaux and only part of it is occupied by the art exhibitions. However, starting April from next year, it will be run by a private company that is upgrading it to another level. Four big pools (where previously the submarines used to dock) will be used for a spectacular light installation, taking you over the bridges and along the quays of Bassins a flot (the current port of Bordeaux). The downside is that the price is going to be much higher, from its current fee of 5 euros it’s supposed to go to 15 euros per person.
La Base sous-marine is located in the Bacalan neighborhood which is yet another cool place to discover in Bordeaux and I have a whole article about the best things to do there, you can read it here.
Address: Boulevard Alfred Daney, 33300 Bordeaux Opening hours (until April 17. 2020): Open from Tuesday to Sunday 13:30 to 19:00 (only during exhibitions). Fee: currently 5€ but will change soon, free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August). The site of the museum: https://www.facebook.com/BasesousmarinedeBordeaux/
Institut Bernard Magrez
If you’re in for some street art, you’re in the right city! Bordeaux has plenty of amazing local street art to offer. Surprisingly enough, one of the best places to see street art in Bordeaux is located in a beautiful 18th-century mansion called Chateau Labottiere. A cool contrast, isn’t it? The place is called the Institut Bernard Magrez and it regularly hosts exhibitions by the best local and international street artists. The art is beautifully integrated with the classical features of the chateau and is being alternated every couple of months so there is always something interesting to see there. Next to the château, there are two smaller exhibition spaces where amazing exhibitions of paintings, sculpture and photography are hosted on a regular basis so you actually get to see three exhibitions during one visit. The cultural institute also hosts plenty of creative workshops for kids and concerts for adults so check their events list on their site.
Address: 16 rue de Tivoli, Bordeaux Opening hours: Open from Friday to Sunday 13:00 to 18:00 (the museum is often closed for events so it’s always better to call and ask them if they are open before going). Fee: 8 €, free every first Sunday of the month The site of the museum: https://www.institut-bernard-magrez.com/
FRAC – local contemporary art
If you crossed Pont Saint-Jean in the last year or so you must have noticed the new, very modern building that reminds a bit the Arc of La Defense in Paris. This is MECA the Regional Pole of Culture and Creative Economy. It houses many offices that don’t mean much to most people, but there is one place inside that is worth going to if you’re looking to discover new art. FRAC, that sits in MECA is a cultural institution with a mission to promote contemporary art in Nouvelle Aquitaine, hosting several exhibitions of local artists. It has reopened its doors after being closed for two years. The exhibitions are varied and include many genres from photography to painting and sculpture. The works are not always my style but it’s big and you can always find a lot of interesting artists there.
Address: Corto Maltese, La MÉCA 5 parvis, 33800 Bordeaux Opening hours: Open Tuesday to Saturday and the first Sunday of the month from 13:o0 to 18:30. Every third Thursday of the month the museum is open until 21:00 Fee: It’s an organization that works on contributions so you can pay 1 euro minimum or more if you wish. The site of the museum: https://fracnouvelleaquitaine-meca.fr/
Kids Museums in Bordeaux
The Natural History museum
After years of renovations, the natural history museum of Bordeaux has finally opened its doors in March 2019. Created in 1971, the museum has one of the biggest collections in France with more than a million specimens. Besides the new design and the incredible collection, one of the new features in the renovated museum is the “Early Years Museum” for kids under 6 years old.
I’m not sure that I should’ve put it under the category of kids museums as it’s a fascinating place for everyone. But it’s extremely kids friendly and it has become a go-to place for Bordelais parents, especially when it’s cold or raining outside. If you need more ideas for activities for kids check out my article about 30 things to do with kids in Bordeaux.
Address: 5 Place Bardineau, 33000 Bordeaux Opening hours: Open from Tuesday to Sunday. From April to September from 10:30 to 18:00 and from October to March from 10:30 to 17:30. Fee: 5€ (7€ when there are temporary exhibitions). Free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August). The site of the museum: https://www.museum-bordeaux.fr/en/accueil
Cap Sciences is a kids science museum and one of the most fun and educative places in Bordeaux. The museum proposes interactive exhibitions and activities all dedicated to different aspects of science. It touches upon topics of light, space, time, robots and more and everything is presented in an interactive and approachable way for kids to understand. They normally also have an exhibition that is dedicated to little kids, up to 6 yo, so it’s really great for all ages. All the descriptions are also translated to English so it’s a welcoming place for tourists and locals alike. Another interesting feature of the museum is the kids’ workshops arranged by different age groups. Among them, you can find photography, molecular cooking, eco-citizens and more.
Address: Hangar 20, Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux Opening hours: Open from Tuesday to Friday from 14:00 to 18:00 and Saturday – Sunday from 14:00 to 19:00. The hours change during school break so check their exact hours on the site. Fee: The fee changes according to the exhibitions presented in the museum so check their site for current prices. The site of the museum: http://www.cap-sciences.net/
History, culture and others
Musée d’Aquitaine is the largest museum in Bordeaux, dedicated to archaeological findings and regional history and ethnology. The museum’s permanent collections span two floors. The first floor is largely dedicated to archaeological findings including tools from the Old Stone and Bronze ages. The other big collection covers the Gallo- Roman period of Bordeaux, with old statues and parts from the original wall that surrounded the city from the 3rd to the 18th centuries. The second floor is dedicated to the 18th century and the modern era of Bordeaux. A big part of the exhibition touches upon the importance of the port and the slave trade that Bordeaux was part of. The exhibition finished with some inspiring videos presenting the big (chances?) of Bordeaux in the last decade and leaves you with a taste to discover more of the city and region. The museum is very rich with information but the first floor is a bit outdated with almost no explanations in English. The second floor somewhat makes up for it with a more modern style of display and many more explanations in English. It also has many videos giving you an idea of how the city looked like in the 18th century, one of the most important centuries in Bordeaux’s history.
The museum also runs good temporary exhibitions on specific topics related to the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. They often have guided tours in English but their schedule is always changing so it’s better to send them a message on facebook and ask when’s the next one.
Address: 20 Cours Pasteur, 33000 Bordeaux Opening hours: Open every day except Tuesday 11:00-18:00 Fee: 5€ , free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August) The site of the museum: http://www.musee-aquitaine-bordeaux.fr/
Musée national des Douanes
This small museum is the national museum of the history of French customs. It’s located in one of the most beautiful buildings in Bordeaux, called the Hôtel des Fermes du Roi on Place de la Bourse, just in front of the water mirror. The exhibition of the museum presents the evolution of the customs administration from ancient to modern times. In the 18th century, it was the local headquarters of the French customs administration in the region, collecting taxes for the king. Through paintings, uniforms, maps and musical instruments the museum allows you to discover the works of one of France’s oldest administrations and their different challenges.
The Musée national des Douanes is a great place for people who are interested in history, especially French one. The fee is only 3 euros so it is worth a visit.
Address: 1 Place de la Bourse, 33000 Bordeaux Opening hours: Open every day except Tuesday 10:00-18:00 Fee: 3€ , free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August) The site of the museum: http://www.musee-douanes.fr/
Musée Mer marine
The sea and marine museum is one of the newest museums of Bordeaux, located on the Bassin a flot, the port of Bordeaux in the Bacalan district. As the name suggests the museum is dedicated to the sea world with a remarkable exhibition of boats, sculptures and objects. The permanent exhibition has more than 10,000 sea and marine related objects like navigation instruments, maps and many pieces of art as well. The idea behind it was to create a bridge between the marine and art worlds. Even the building itself is interesting if you like modern architecture. The museum regularly hosts temporary themed exhibitions such as different illustrations by a specific artist, photography and more. The museum is certainly a good place to visit if you’re interested in boats. The entry fee is 14€ so I’d also check their website for the temporary exhibitions to see if it’s worth going.
Address: 89 rue des Étrangers, 33300 Bordeaux Opening hours: Wednesday to Friday 10:30-18:00 and Saturday to Sunday 10:30-19:00 Fee: 14€ The site of the museum: https://www.mmmbordeaux.com/en/home/
La Maison de l’Huître
This cute little museum is actually located on the Arcachon bay, but I decided to add it to the list because many people go to Arcachon for a day trip. The museum sits in Port de Larros in Gujan Mestras, the oysters capital of the Arcachon bay. It’s no wonder then that they have decided to dedicate a whole museum to oysters. The permanent exhibition includes a beautiful movie and plenty of items and information about all the techniques of oyster farming and the history of the oyster in our region. The museum is very interactive and fun to visit with kids. They even have a special oyster farming boat made for kids where they can play. If you’re heading to the Bassin d’Arcachon anytime soon, I highly recommend visiting there.
Address: Rue du Port de Larros, 33470 Gujan-Mestras Opening hours: September to June from Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 12:30 and from 14:30 to 18:00. July and August, open everyday from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 14:30 to 18:30. Fee: 5.9€ for adults and 3.9 for kids (5-14 yo) The site of the museum: http://www.maison-huitre.fr/
Lost in Bordeaux helps you enjoy the city and region in many ways so be sure to follow us on facebook/Instagram for more daily updates on things to do and see. Or better yet, join my newsletter where I share a lot of exclusive info about Bordeaux and the region – sign up here.
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