In the last year, with Covid restrictions, we started doing much more hiking than before, which I’m very happy with. However my kids are still small, so a not very well-planned trip usually turns into a whining journey and ends with me and my husband carrying them half the way. That is why in the last few months I did a lot of research to find kids-friendly walking paths in Gironde. In this article, I chose the hiking trails I enjoyed most when traveling with my kids. Most of them had also longer trails which you can enjoy with older kids that can walk longer distances.
I have to warn you though that some parts of most of the trails are not very stroller friendly so if you are hiking with babies I strongly recommend bringing a carrier with you. In any case, for stroller-friendly hiking I recommend going to the parks of Bordeaux, you can discover the best ones in my article about the most beautiful parks of Bordeaux. Also, check out my article about the best hiking trails around Bordeaux for additional locations in our beautiful region.
If you’re interested in more ideas for things to do with kids in the region I invite you to follow me on Facebook/Instagram. Now let’s start! let’s dive into family-friendly hiking trails around Bordeaux!
Family-friendly hiking in Bordeaux Metropole
The city center itself is very friendly for kids but here I’m mostly going to talk about trails in nature so I didn’t include it.
Ecosite du Bourgailh in Pessac
One of the most pleasant and kids friendly hiking trails in Bordeaux is located in Pessac. The Ecosite of Bourgailh is not just a park, it’s a universe of plants put together in a great landscape design. The area of the Foret du Bourgailh includes a 2.6 km walking trail, the largest tropical greenhouse in the region, sports facilities, a skate park, an amphitheater, a zoo, and a really fun wooden animal theme playground.
Parc Floral, located in the north part of Bordeaux is part of the Réserve écologique des Barails, a beautiful natural reserve spreading over 156 hectares. The reserve consists of different parts each with its own characteristic: the forest, the park, the meadows, the wetlands, and the ecological corridors. All of them are great for hiking but the one that kids love the most is Parc Floral.
The park starts with beautiful flowers and continues to the surprising twin cities gardens with sculptures and structures donated by some of Bordeaux’s twin cities like Ashdod (in Israel), Fukuoka (Japan), and Casablanca (Morocco). Kids usually use the twin gardens as a playground, climbing and running around the different statues. The most magical part of Parc Floral is the Torrent de Montagne, a mountain river with stones from the Pyrénées.
Parc Floral is located in the Bordeaux Lac neighborhood and to get there straight without passing the forest first you will need to enter through entree roseraie (next to the Golf de Bordeaux Lac). Before heading there check out the information about the different entrances and parking spots on the official site of Bordeaux.
Hiking with kids in Arcachon
Arcachon is heaven when it comes to hiking with kids. Everything is flat, the landscape changes a lot depending on the timing of your arrival and it has a rich flora and fauna to explore during your trip. There’s also always the option of going to the beach at the end to motivate kids to finish the trail. Here are some of the best family-friendly hiking trails in Arcachon.
The Domain of Certes-Graveyron
If you want to explore the nature of Bassin d’Arcachon at its best, Domain of Certes Graveyron in Audenge is the place to go. Located at the very heart of the Arcachon Bay, this natural reserve of 530 hectares is an amazing place for hiking with kids no matter what age they are. There are several trails you can take to discover the salt meadows and the migrating birds passing through Arcachon. The most kids-friendly one is Boucle de Graveyron, a 5.5 km circular hiking trail that goes through some of the animal farms in the region, the cute port of Audenge, the Audenge beach, and the blue colored salt marshes.
What I especially love about the Domaine de Certes is that it looks different every time you visit it. Due to its location at the heart of the Bay, the reserve completely changes its looks depending on the tide hours during the day of your visit so every visit there feels like you’re exploring a new location. The reserve is free and can be visited whenever you want. Bicycles are not allowed on the walking paths of Domain de Certes et Graveyron. There are maps and good trail markings on site.
Réserve Naturelle Nationale des Prés Salés d’Arès
La Réserve des prés salés d’Arès is a huge natural reserve that offers several short and long hiking trails. The hiking starts at the port of Arès which is a nice place to stop for a plate of oysters before you hit the road 🙂 The most family-friendly trail is the 4.5km Boucle d’Arès, a path that goes along the salt meadows and then continues in a beautiful forest. The one downside is that this path ends on a road so you have to walk a bit along passing cars. However as the road is in the village itself, the few cars passing there are driving quite slow so it doesn’t really ruin the experience.
Les Prés Salés Ouest
Prés Salés Ouest is another beautiful natural reserve, located on the other side of the Bassin d’Arcachon in La Teste de Buch. I love recommending this one to parents with small kids as it’s one of the only stroller-friendly hiking paths in the region. You can start the 2.2km trail from the port of Teste de Buch or from the Avenue du Général Leclerc (you will see a big parking from the road).
We started hiking when the tide was still quite low and finished it when it started to rise, the change in the landscape was spectacular. If you want to make it even more fun, stop at the port for some fresh oysters. The entrance is free and open for cycling as well.
Hiking with kids in other parts of Gironde
Réserve Naturelle des Dunes et Marais D’Hourtin
Let’s now move to the Medoc region which offers a lot of great hiking trails. Hourtin is the biggest lake in Gironde surrounded by beautiful beaches and a lot of natural spaces. The Réserve Naturelle des Dunes et Marais D’hourtin is located at the northern point of the lake. It offers several trails which are all quite easy to do with kids, with the shortest one being the green path (Le Sentier de la Lobelie), a 2 km path along the lake. If it’s hot enough, finish your day at the beach nearby! To start the hiking trail park your car at the Piqueyrot beach.
You can see more details about all the trails in that reserve here.
Lac Bleu and Lac Vert
I love hiking around lakes! I think that water in combination with the greenery around it gives it a very meditational vibe 🙂 Luckily there are a few beautiful lakes in Gironde where you can have a lovely walk and admire the colors of the water. The first one is Lac Vert (the green lake) in Canejan and the second one is Lac Bleu (the blue lake) in Leognan, both located about 15/20 minutes’ drive from Bordeaux. Their names derive from the color of the water and they are both stunning. They are both great to visit with kids, although the green one is easier to do with strollers. If you have a dog, they would love Lac Blue!
Forêt de Migelane
Forêt de Migelane is a 280 hectares forest situated on parts of the Saucats, Martillac, and la Brède towns in Southern Gironde. The calm forest has several hiking trails to offer, from the most kids-friendly one we have la Petite Boucle circular (1.4 km), La Petite Boucle circular trail to la Balade Forestière (2.7 km), la Balade Géologique (5.2 km) and la Grande Balade (6.5 km). See more info here.
All the bars and restaurants are currently closed which probably makes you want to skip this Valentine’s day altogether. But during these tedious times, celebrating love is more important than ever and nature could be a magnificent scenery for that. In this article, I gathered a few fun ideas for couples to do together this Sunday on Saint Valentine’s day. So grab your bottle of wine, maybe even a picnic, and follow me to the most romantic places around Bordeaux.
See the sunrise from Plage de la Pointe aux Chevaux
The Pointe aux Chevaux beach in Petit Piquey is one of the most magical beaches in Cap Ferret. Surrounded by pine trees and a few oyster cabanes, it looks like a place taken for a movie. The beach worth a visit any time of the day but if you’re a morning person, I would really recommend leaving the house early that day and go see the sunrise, nothing will give you more romantic vibes than that.
Dune du Pilat
Our beloved Dune cannot is a permanent resident on a list like this. The panoramic view of the forest and the ocean is quite hard to compete with. Of course, the ultimate pleasure would be to see the sunset from the top, but as there’s a curfew at 6pm, you’ll have to do with a romantic picnic on the top of the dune instead.
Saint Croix du Mont
This is one of my personal favorites in the region. Saint Croix du mont is a small village located in the south of the Entre Deux Mers region and is known thanks to its excellent white sweet wine. There’s not much to do there but the view from the top of the village is absolutely stunning. During the summer there is a nice bar there but currently, you’ll have to bring your own bottle of wine to enjoy the view. You can also do a little hiking trail from the top of the village.
Visit a winery
Did you know that many of the wineries in the region are open for visits? They are allowed to have up to 6 visitors but as there aren’t any tourists here, you’ll most likely be alone and have a romantic wine tour and tastings just for yourself. The choice, of course, is enormous so you’ll have to do some work to see which are currently open. Here are a few suggestions of wineries to visit in Saint Emilion.
Go biking together
There are plenty of beautiful biking paths in the region. If you want to stay in the city, you can cycle on the promenade from both sides of the Garonne. But if you don’t mind getting a little farther away, Roger Lapébie Bicycle path can be a great romantic adventure.
You can start your path from Pont Pierre in Bordeaux and cycle on the right side of the river until you get to Latresne, where the official path starts (follow the river bike path to Latresne). The official path is 57km long and it goes through the Entre Deux Mers region until it gets to Sauveterre-de-Guyenne. Here’s an article with more instructions.
Visit the smallest village in France
There’s something cute and romantic about being the smallest village in a country and in our case the smallest village in France is located in Gironde and called Castelmoron d’Albret.
There’s not a whole lot to do there, the town is simply very cute and you can have a picnic while enjoying a beautiful view. If you want to visit another place in that region you can stop by Duras or Sauveterre-de-Guyenne. For more info about villages to visit in Gironde read this article.
There are plenty of beautiful hiking routes in this region and if the weather is good, it can make a perfect Valentine’s day activity. Hostens is definitely one of the best hiking trails in this region but if you prefer going to Arcachon over the Landes forest, The Domain of Certes-Graveyron is a perfect place to spend the day.
For hiking ideas in Bordeaux, be sure to check out my article.
Do a fun street art day
If you love street art there are many places to discover in the region but nothing can be compared to Angouleme, the street art and comics capital of France. Tens of beautiful mural and funny comics decorate the city walls and it will take you hours to spot them all, a full fun, and romantic day :). It’s only 1.5 hours drive from Bordeaux and you can even reach there by train. Check out my guide to the street art of Angouleme before going.
Go to the Pyrenees to see snow
There’s so much snow this year, you must go see it before spring starts. Spend the day in one of the lovely ski towns in the Pyrenees and enjoy the tranquility created by the beautiful white powder. All the ski facilities are closed this year but you can go to Cauterets and enjoy this charming ski resort town. Then drive up the mountain to Pont D’Espagne for a hike in the snow.
That’s it for our romantic weekend!
I hope you find it useful and if you travel to one of these places don’t forget to tag me in your stories on Instagram @lost_in_bordeaux.
You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:
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.
The Arcachon bay is one of the most popular destinations in the southwest of France. Its beautiful beaches and cute resort towns attract many tourists and locals from the Bordeaux region. There is plenty of stuff to do there and I have already written two guides about visiting Arcachon: The guide to Arcachon city and the best places to visit on the Arcachon Bay. But I have yet to talk about the fact that it’s one of the best vacation destinations to do with kids. Plenty of family-friendly beaches, sports activities, parks and interactive tours are some of the things you can do with kids in Arcachon. In this article, I gathered a list of 15 fun things to do with kids around the Arcachon Bay, both in the southern part and the Cap Ferret Peninsula. If you’re also visiting Bordeaux on your trip, please read my article about 30 things to do with kids in Bordeaux.
COVID 19 warning – although most sites in the region are now open to the public, please remember that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. It means that in all the places on this list you’ll need to keep a distance from other visitors, groups of over 10 people are not yet allowed and some sites recommend adults to wear masks (see info on their websites before going). And most importantly, as the situation is quite dynamic the information about the opening hours as well as the reservation requirements may change by the time you read this article. I strongly encourage you to contact Arcachon’s tourist office or the websites of the places you’re planning to visit when planning your trip to Arcachon Bay.
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 dive into the list of the most fun things to do with kids on Bassin d’Arcachon.
Beaches and nature in the Arcachon Bay
Go to one of the kids-friendly beaches in Arcachon
My first item on the list is quite obvious, isn’t it? Which kid doesn’t love to splash in the water and build castles in the sand? In that regard, Bassin d’Arcachon is heaven for families and that’s because the water in the bay is very calm due to its shape. Many of the beaches are also quite easily accessible and don’t require a long walk from the parking lot, which we all know can be a real hustle with little kids.
Here are just a few kids-friendly beaches around the Arcachon Bay: Plage Pereire, which starts right after the pedestrian promenade (bordered by Jetée de la Chapelle). It’s a beautiful three km beach with white sand and a view of the Cap Ferret peninsula on the other side of the bay. You can also reach this beach by public transport from the center of Arcachon. Petit Nice – one of my favorite beaches on the bay, located just in front of the Le banc d’Arguin which protects the beach from the ocean waves and creates a very calm and family-friendly beach. Plage de la Hume in Gujan Mestras is definitely one of the safest beaches on the bay. Its location on the bay makes the water very calm and easy to swim in. However, this beach is only fun when the tide is high so if you want to swim, you should check the tide hours first. They are changing daily and in some hours of the day, you can barely see any water. Click here for the daily tide hours. Cap Ferret – You can also go to Lege Cap Ferret where many of the beaches turning towards the bay are kids friendly. Two of my favorite beaches on the peninsula are the Plage de la pres de la pointe and the little beach of L’herbe.
Climb the dune du Pilat
Dune du Pilat needs no introduction! If you’re planning to go to Arcachon, most chances are you have already heard about the dune before. 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. I had to include the dune on this list as kids absolutely love climbing it. It’s an amazing activity with the kids and more so gliding back down on the sand from the top of the dune.
VIsiting dune du Pilat is a bit tough if your kids are very small. However, during the touristic season when the stairs are installed, you can easily get to the top of the dune and enjoy the incredible view from the top! There is a huge (paid) parking lot right next to the dune.
Go to le Lac de Cazaux
While I love the ocean, I usually prefer taking my kids to the lake as it feels safer and it’s easier to handle them there. The Arcachon region is home to Lac de Cazaux, one of the biggest freshwater lakes in France. The big lake is wind-sheltered by the pine forest around it and is known for its tranquil and beautiful beaches. The most popular beach on the lake is the Plage de Cazaux Lac, with plenty of summer water activities and easy access for handicaps. My favorite beach on the lake is Plage de Laouga, it feels a bit wilder and very tranquil.
A boat trip to Iles aux Oiseaux and the Cabanes Tchanquées
A great way to explore the landscapes and biodiversity of the Arcachon Bay is by boat. There are quite a few boat operators offering different boat tours across the Bassin. The best one to do with kids in my opinion is the “ Grand Tour d’Iles aux Oiseaux”. It’s a two hours boat tour that takes you to two of the most notorious places on the bay: Les Cabanes Tchanquées and L’Ile aux Oiseaux. Les Cabanes Tchanquées, the two wooden huts decorating almost every postcard in Arcachon, are one of the most emblematic symbols of the bay. You can take the tour from Jetée Thiers, located on the main beach of Arcachon but also from other ports on the Arcachon bay such as Gujan Mestras, Cap Ferret, Le Canon, Le Moulleau and Andernos les Bains.
You can choose the hours you’re interested in and the port you want to take the tour from on this site.
Bird Watching at the Teich Ornithological Reserve
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. A visit to the reserve can be a fun and educative day for both kids and adults. If your family is in shape you can do the 6km tour of the whole reserve. If your kids are too small for 6km, the reserve also has a 2km path for families. In any case, the path is accessible with strollers in case your toddler doesn’t want to walk. The Teich Ornithological Reserve has a great website with a lot of info, even giving you the approximate bird’s arrival schedule so you can plan your visit according to that. Consult all the info here.
Amusement parks and sports activities
Kayaking on the Leyre river
No list of activities for kids can be complete without kayaking or a canoeing experience (mine are too small so I’m really waiting for that). There are quite a few places for kayaking on the bay, one of the best is on the Leyre river. The tropical river, that got the nickname La Petite Amazone (little Amazon) flows through three towns on the Bassin d’Archachon: Le Teich, Biganos, and Mios. There are many operators that offer kayaking and canoeing in that area, one of them is located on the colorful little port of Biganos. You can do this activity with kids older than 6yo and there are several routes to choose, among them, there are morning/afternoon tours or whole day excursions. You can see all the info here.
Pay attention to the starting location as it changes depending on the tour you want to take. You should also know that the hours may change depending on the tide so always call a day in advance to know what hours are best to arrive. Where: Canoe-kayak Courant D Eyre Location de canoë sur Leyre, 88 Rue du Port, 33380 Biganos
Tree Climbing at Bassin Aventure
Another super fun sportive activity in Arcachon is accrobranche (tree climbing) that is offered by Bassin Aventure in Gujan Mestras. It’s one of the only sports activities that you can do with little kids (starting from 3 yo). The place has 22 different tree-climbing circuits and 250 different games on and around the trees. Reservations are recommended, you can see all the prices here. Please read carefully about all the restrictions related to COVID 19 on the website of Bassin Aventure. Where: Avenue des Loisirs, 33470 Gujan-Mestras
Parc de la Coccinelle
This cute amusement park in Gujan-Mestras is perfect for a day out with kids. It has everything from water slides, roller coasters, trampolines, and even an animal farm where you can feed baby goats. If you’re traveling with more than one kid it’s not always obvious to find a park that both little ones and bigger kids can enjoy. And that’s why the Parc de la Coccinelle is so fun! See the time schedule and tariffs here. Where: Parc de loisirs, La Hume, 33470 Gujan-Mestras
Cycling along the Arcachon Bay
The Arcachon bay has some of the prettiest and easiest cycling paths in our region and this can be a great way to discover the bay with kids. With more than 220km of cycling lanes stretching from Cap Ferret to the south of Arcachon, you have plenty to discover. Start your circuit from the center of Arcachon and continue to Dune du Pilat, through le Moulleau and Pyla sur Mer. To follow the path see the map here. There are also several cycling routes in Cap Ferret, choose a circuit from this site or just follow the path that starts from the center of Cap Ferret.
There are many bike rental places in Arcachon where you can rent a bike for a few hours or for the whole day, see their details here.
Your kids can learn surfing in Arcachon
Arcachon is located on the famous Côte d’Argent known as a paradise for surfers. If your kids are over 8 yo they can go to a surfing school. The surfing school for kids is located on the Plage du Grand Crohot at the top of the Cap Ferret Peninsula. They offer a five-day course for kids as well as a first-time discovery session. You have to reserve in advance. All the details, tariffs and registration forms are on the website of the school.
Put the following coordinates in your GPS to arrive at the right location: Latitude: 44° 48′ 9,12” Nord, Longitude : 1° 13′ 33,60” Ouest
Educational activities and games
The Oysters museum
Arcachon is well known globally for its oyster farming. The capital of oyster farming in Arcachon is definitely Gujan-Mestras which is a very nice destination for a day trip. You can bike along the 7 oyster ports of Gujan, stop in one of the oyster cabanes for tastings, and go to the beach (la Hume which I mentioned earlier). But if you want to turn it into a nice and educational experience for kids take them to La Maison de l’Huitre. The oyster museum is an interactive museum where you’ll discover everything about oyster farming. See more details about their opening hours and tariffs here.
Where: La Maison de l’Huitre, Rue du Port de Larros, 33470 Gujan-Mestras
Go to the Zoo
The Arcachon zoo is located in the middle of the great pine forest, Forêt des Landes. The zoo is spread over 22 hectares and inhabits more than 800 animals from all over the world. The zoo is opening its doors this Saturday (June 6) and masks are obligatory from 11yo and up – please read all other instructions here before going to the zoo. The tariffs are 16 euros for kids aged 3-11 and 23 euros for everyone older than 12yo (it’s one euro less if you book the tickets online). See all the info here.
Where: Boulevard de Cazaux, 33260 La Teste-de-Buch
Discover the winter city of Arcachon by train
Ville d’hiver in Arcachon city is a beautiful neighborhood with extraordinary architecture that is well worth a visit. However, taking a walking tour there could be a bit dull for kids, instead, take the little train that goes through the most beautiful villas of Arcachon as well as to the Periere beach where you can see an amazing view of the Bassin. You can buy the tickets directly from the driver, see the tariffs and time schedule here.
Where: the train leaves from the tourist office- MA.AT Esplanade Pompidou, 22 Boulevard du Général Leclerc, 33120 Arcachon.
Eat ice cream at Le Moulleau
Le Moulleau, located in the far west, is officially a part of the city of Arcachon. However, in reality, it feels like a completely separate little resort town with its own center, beaches and restaurants. Le Moulleau is built around the beautiful Notre Dame des Passes square and its pier. If you’re traveling with kids, this neighborhood is well worth a visit. It has one of the prettiest and most kid-friendly beaches on the bay and also several good ice cream shops on the main street 🙂
Find the treasure with Terra Aventura
Terra Aventura is a fun activity you can do with your kids in many locations in Nouvelle Aquitaine. Terra Aventura organizes geocaching games in which children try to find characters well hidden around monuments and nature by answering different riddles. All you have to do is download the free app of Terra Aventura to start treasure hunting with your kids.
The Bassin d’Arcachon offers five different games located in: Arès, Biganos , Andernos, Gujan-Mestras and Mios. You can find all the details about the starting points here.
That’s it for today, but before we go let me ask you an important question! Are you subscribed to my email list? Every Thursday/Friday I’m sending a weekly email with suggestions of things to do every weekend, everything from day trips, hiking paths, markets, activities for kids and other secret gems in the region. So if you want to receive cool plans for the weekend be sure to subscribe to my newsletter here!
Apart from luxurious wine, the Bordeaux area is also known for its beautiful beaches. On sunny days many tourists rush to the coast of Arcachon without knowing that there is actually a great deal of amazing beaches near Bordeaux. In this article, I want to share ten beaches in the area that I find absolutely stunning. The list includes both lake beaches, ocean beaches and of course the best beaches on the Bassin d’Arcachon. There are many more gorgeous beaches in the Southwest of France but I made sure to include only those that are located within a reasonable distance from the center of Bordeaux. Hope you’ll enjoy the article and the beaches around Bordeaux 🙂
Hostens lac 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 (50km from Bordeaux) and has one of the most beautiful beaches in our area. This place is much more than just a nice place to swim. Hostens offers plenty of water activities such as kayaks and pedaling as well as hiking trails, mountain bike trails and more. There are actually 5 lakes at the domain but the beach is located on the shores of lake of Lamothe. There’s also a restaurant and a snack bar next to the beach so no worries if you didn’t come prepared. You can get more information about the activities at the tourist information point which is located next to the parking at the entrance to the Domain or read some of it here.
Bordeaux Lac – in Bordeaux city
If you’re in Bordeaux and prefer to avoid renting/using a car, this beach is perfect for you. Bordeaux Lac has everything you need, a sandy clean beach and a lot of shade from the nearby trees for those who don’t really like the sun. the beach is open to the public daily from June 1st to August 31 and starting July 1st it offers water and beach activities such as sailing, kayaking, mini-golf and more. Check out the list of daily activities here.
La Plage du Moutchic – Lacanau
Plage du Moutchic is located on the banks of Lacanau lake, about 50 km from Bordeaux. This beach has a nice supervised swimming area, a shaded picnic area and sports facilities like boat rentals, windsurfing, canoes and paddle boats which makes it very popular with families from the region. In case you forgot to bring food (god forbid), there’s a snack bar and two restaurants with a beautiful view on the lake. For those who don’t like sand (my hubby including 🙂 ), part of the beach is covered with soft green grass. There’s big free parking behind the beach.
Plage Laouga – Close to Arcachon
Plage Laouga on Lac Cazaux is a fine sandy beach located about 400 m from the main beach of this beautiful lake (Plage Cazaux). Its calm warm water makes it one of the best places for families. This part of the lake is sheltered by the pine forest of Landes de Gascogne, which creates a lot of shaded spots on the beach (a must in the South-west summer). The beach is supervised during the summer season (mid June- mid September) and has free parking just next to it. Plage Laouga is located about 70 km from Bordeaux.
Beaches on the Arcachon Bay – close to Bordeaux
Le Moulleau beach
Le Moulleau, while officially a part of the city of Arcachon, feels like a completely separate little resort town with its own center, beaches and restaurants. It’s a very popular beach that attracts both families and many young people. The Moulleau is located midway between the center of Arcachon and the famous Dune du Pilat which is always a great spot to finish your day. There are a few bars and restaurants very close to the beach so you can easily spend the whole day in this resort. You can also take a ferry and check the beaches on the other side of the Bassin at Cap ferret. The beach can be reached by car, bike or a bus from the train station of Arcachon.
Plage Pereire, one of the most popular beaches in Arcachon, is located in Ville de Printemps (the winter city of Arcachon) about 67 km from Bordeaux. It’s a beautiful three km long beach with white sand and an amazing view of the Cap Ferret peninsula on the other side of the bay. This beach is equipped with many sports facilities, a cycle path and green lawns for people to have a picnic on. When coming from Arcachon center, one of the best ways to get there is cycling. A flat cycle path, stretched from the central beach to the Dune du Pyla, passes through Plage Pereire and other Arcachon beaches. On a hot summer day, you can enjoy a cold rosé at the bar-restaurant du soleil located on the beach.
Andernos les bains
Andernos les bains at the north of the Bassin d’Arcachon is one of the most attractive towns in the area, especially during the summer season. It has a cute little center leading to the main beach that is abundant with restaurants, ice cream shops and beach clothing boutiques. While the main beach is really nice, if you want a more isolated and relaxed atmosphere you should continue in the direction of the oysters port and go the remarkable nature reserve of les Quinconces. After a short walk from the port into the reserve, you’ll discover a beautiful beach with the forest as your background. This beach is quite isolated so there are no facilities here and it’s not supervised. Andernos les bains is located about 50 km from Bordeaux.
Plage de la Hume – Gujan Mestras
Plage de la Hume is a family friendly beach located at the touristic part of Gujan Mestras, a little town known as the capital of oyster farming on the Bassin d’Arcachon. Its location on the bay makes the water very calm and easy to swim in. However, if you’ve come for more than the beach itself and really want to swim, check the tide hours first. They are changing daily and in some hours of the day, you can barely see any water. Click here for the daily hours. The beach is supervised in July and August (from 10:00 to 19:00), which makes it a very safe place for kids. Plage de la Hume is located just next to the ports that Gujan Mestras is famous for, so if you’re getting hungry you can always stop in one of the cabanes on the port for fresh oysters.
Beaches at the Atlantic coast
Plage du Grand Cohort – Lège Cap-Ferret
Grand Cohort beach is located on the Ocean side of the Cap Ferret peninsula. As opposed to the more calm water on the side of the Bassin d’Arcachon, on the ocean side, the waves are strong which makes it a surfing paradise. This beautiful white sand beach attracts both kite surfers and families that love to swim in the ocean. In the summer the beach tends to be quite busy and sometimes parking can be an issue so try to come early. If you’re coming with kids, this beach is supervised during the summer. This beach is located about 60 km from the center of Bordeaux.
Lacanau Ocean beaches
If your idea for a beach day is a more active one, this is the beach for you. The Lacanau Ocean beach begins right at the end of Boulevard de la Plage at the Lacanau Ocean town, which is located about 55km from Bordeaux. It is one of the longest beaches in the Aquitaine area, spreading to 15 km of white sand. The beach is considered a perfect place for surfing and windsurfing and it has become known for surfing competition and events. This long beach is also a great place for bathing in the sea with your family and has all the facilities you need, including many restaurants and shops in its little center.
There are plenty of other amazing beaches near Bordeaux but I think that these ten beaches will give you a sense of how beautiful and magical the Gironde region is!
For more places to visit around Bordeaux check out my guides about day trips from Bordeaux by car and by train.
Bordeaux is located in one of the most beautiful areas in France, surrounded by charming villages, impressive chateaux, vineyards and sandy beaches. When visiting the city, many are looking for day trips from Bordeaux that will allow them to discover the area without driving for hours. And you can indeed easily fill your visits here with amazing day trips from the city. However, many of these places are hidden secrets to most tourists and information is not easy to find online. That’s why I decided to make this list of places to visit around Bordeaux. I tried to make it as diverse as I could to help anyone find its perfect spot for a day trip. It’s important to notice that most of these locations are not very accessible by public transport, so renting a car is recommended. For those of you that prefer not to go by car, be sure to check up my article about the best day trips from Bordeaux by train.
Wine related day tips around Bordeaux
Saint Émilion is probably the most famous wine related day trip from Bordeaux. Its picturesque center, densely filled with wine shops and fancy restaurants, turns this little town into a prominent attraction for tourists in the area. Saint Émilion is mostly famous for its wines so a visit to one of the châteaux (wineries) is a must. The charming town, however, is worth a visit even if you’re not a wine lover. 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.
There is a direct train from Bordeaux to Saint Émilion however if you want to visit some of the distant chateaux in the region, coming by car is recommended. There is just one problem is Saint Émilion, there are just too many beautiful spots to visit and it’s really hard to choose just a few! In my article about the best wineries to visit in Saint Emilion, I cover both the most interesting chateaux and the most welcoming wine producing families in the area so check it out!
The Medoc Wine Route
The Medoc is one of the most famous wine regions in the world, attracting many wine enthusiasts to the Medoc wine route. The famous route is a never-ending road (the D2) leading from the northern part of Bordeaux Metropole (start in Blanquefort) to almost the northernmost point in Gironde. An infinite landscape of vineyards adorned with mesmerizing châteaux. A view that will leave you speechless even if you don’t like wine.
There are about 600 châteaux along the Medoc wine trail. You probably won’t have time to visit most of them, but luckily, some of the most beautiful ones can be seen from the road so all you have to do is stop for a quick photo. The most famous wine houses (like Château Margeaux and Château Mouton Rothschild) are open only to professionals but don’t worry, there are plenty of beautiful properties you can visit. Some of the prettiest and more interesting are Château d’Arsac, Château Siran, Château Beychevelle and Château Cos d’Estournelle. If you don’t mind going a little further to the north I highly recommend visiting the last chateau on the trail, Château Loudenne. This charming (it’s pink!) old château has a huge garden and its own port so apart from the wine visit, you can have a lovely picnic or take a boat tour. Make sure you book your visit to the wineries before going there as it can get quite busy in the summer.
Wine is not the only alcoholic drink the Southwest of France is known for! Bordeaux is located about 120 km (75 miles) from Cognac, an area that produces one of the most luxurious spirits in the world. The town of Cognac, located in the Charente department, is a charming and interesting place that’s worth a visit even if you’re not a big fan of Cognac. The old center of the city is characterized by narrow paved streets with houses dating from the 16th and 17th century. Some of the most famous Cognac houses are located right in the city center, among them, you’ll find Hennessy, Martell and Rémy Martin. All of them offer tours which normally include a visit to the cellars and Cognac tastings. You can read more about Cognac in my post about the 10 best things to do in Cognac. While it’s possible to get to Cognac by train, it’s quite a long journey so going by car is recommended.
Discover the sandy beaches around Bordeaux
Arcachon is one of the most popular summer destinations in the southwest of France. A seaside resort town renowned for its beautiful beaches, impressive architecture and vibrant atmosphere. Within an hour drive from Bordeaux you get to swim in the ocean, eat oysters and see beautiful villas. A day trip from Bordeaux to Arcachon can easily take a 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.
I recently wrote a post about the best things to do and see in and around the town of Arcachon, which is one of the main tourist destinations on the Arcachon Bay. So take a look at it before you head to the area. You can reach Arcachon by train, however coming by car will allow you to easily access the dune and to visit other places on the bay, such as Gujan Mestas and the Teich bird reserve.
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 (55 miles) from Bordeaux. If this is too far for you, you can combine it with the wine trail in Medoc which I mentioned above.
Soulac sur Mer is a resort town that resembles Arcachon, with the city center looking like Ville d’été and the impressive 18th-century villas that look just like Ville d’Hiver. 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.
When there, take a map in the tourist office and go on a discovery tour of the most interesting villas. I highly recommend coming here at the beginning of June during the festive weekend of Soulac 1900, a really fun Jazz festival.
Cap Ferret is a charming town located on the Western part of Bassin d’Arcachon (Arcachon Bay) 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, uncrowded beach village atmosphere.
Cap Ferret is shaped like a narrow tongue with a long string of beautiful sandy beaches on the Atlantic ocean and a view on the eastern side of the Bassin. It’s also one of the main producers of oysters in France due to its location on the bay that creates perfect conditions for the ostréiculture industry. 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.
The Biscarrosse lake
This one is a great option for a day in nature. If you don’t mind driving a bit longer, the beautiful Biscarrosse lake is located about 70 km (45 miles) from Bordeaux. It is one of the biggest lakes in the area with plenty of amazing beaches and pine forest surrounding it. As it’s so big there are several beaches to choose from, some of which are Plage Navarrose and Plage de Caton. Aquapark, the biggest inflatable water park in France is located on Plage Maguide. If you’re into surfing, head to the beaches on the Atlantic coast. You can also start the day with a biking trail on the canal, connecting the big and little lakes.
A day trip to beautiful villages
Bazas is a beautiful town with lovely people and a great heritage embodying the Gascony culture. It’s located at the eastern edge of the Gascon Landes forest, about 65 km (40 miles) from Bordeaux. A stroll in the historic center will allow you to discover the rich history of the city and its past role as an important bishopric. Its beautiful architecture includes the gothic cathedral (recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO), old mansions, gardens and historic monuments.
Heritage is not the only attraction of this charming town, it’s actually quite famous for its gastronomy, especially its meat. You can enjoy the Bazas meat in one of the restaurants that are perfectly 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 is Bazas is an expert on everything related to food in the region. She knows all the farmers and chefs around Bazas and a guided tour with her is an experience you don’t want to miss. Check out her website.
Blaye is one of the most interesting places in the Bordeaux area, located only about 50 km (30 miles) from the center of Bordeaux. This little town has a long military and strategic history and today it’s mostly known for its remarkable Citadel and red wine. The Citadel and the city walls are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you can easily spend half a day discovering the old city walls. 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 known for its red wine. 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 area and the chateaux you can visit around Blaye. 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.
Visit castles in the South of Gironde
South Gironde is a magical area with a landscape colored with history, tradition and character. It’s a rural area, abundant with beautiful medieval villages and ancient castles. One of the most impressive castles is Château de la Brede which is located only 30 minutes from Bordeaux. It is a 14th-century castle that was built in a Gothic style. The house has a historic importance as it was the residence of Montesquieu. The château is open for visits from April to November (consult their opening hours here).
Another interesting castle to visit is château de Cadillac located in a charming little town that goes by the same name. The chateau is very impressive and is best known for being a women’s prison starting from the French revolution until 1950. Now it 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 an exhibition about the prison.
Bergerac is one of the main cities in the Dordogne area, quite close to the eastern border of the Gironde department. While it’s not as appealing as some of the small beautiful villages in Dordogne, it’s a lively city with a lot of charm to it. In the city center, you will find plenty of restaurants, a great market and long shopping streets. Bergerac is seated on the banks of the Dordogne giving it a beautiful view of the river. You can take a tour on the traditional boats (les gabarres) and discover the history of the city as well as the natural reserve around it.
The area is also known for its wine and you can combine your trip there with a visit to a château. One of the most famous ones is the beautiful Château de Monbazillac, which is located only 15 minutes away. It’s known for its sweet white wine. If you’re going to Bergerac on a Saturday, don’t miss the great market in Saint Foy la Grande which is just on the way from Bordeaux.
Finally, if you are looking for a fun and delicious activity in Bordeaux, check out my food tours in which I’ll take you through a three hours journey in the culinary scene of the Southwest of France.
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Arcachon is the main town on the Bassin d’Arcachon, a bay of the Atlantic ocean that attracts many visitors from Bordeaux. Less than 60 km separates the capital of the Southwest from Arcachon and its beautiful villas, clear blue beaches and delicious seafood. This is also one of the main osticulture (oysters farming) centers of France so eating oysters is a “must” when coming to the area. I know many of my readers are less enthusiastic about oysters than the French are, but don’t worry, this place is a gem even if you’re not a fan of “huitres“. In this article, I will walk you through the best things you can do in Arcachon, where you should eat and even how to get there.
I have to warn you though, Arcachon is one of the most popular sea resorts in France and in the summer, it’s flooded with tourists and locals alike. The best time to go there is either May-June or September. To avoid the crowded places you can visit one of the other charming villages on the Bassin d’Arcachon, such as la Teste de buch and Gujan Mestras. There are other amazing towns in the north and west parts of the bay, such as Andernos les Bains and Cap Ferret. However, in my opinion, if it’s your first time in Arcachon, you can by no means miss the incredible Dune du Pilat, south of the bay, and so I’ve focused my recommendations on that area.
Arcachon is divided into 4 regions: the summer city is the city center with walkways and restaurants; the winter city is adorned with beautiful 19th-century villas; the autumn city includes the fishing area; and the spring city covers the most beautiful beaches in the Southern part of the bay. In most cities, people usually get to visit only the city center, but in Arcachon each part offers something completely different and you have to visit at least three to fully discover it. To help you do just that I’ve made a list of all the places I think you should visit and things you should do while in Arcachon. Hope you enjoy it 🙂
Best things to do in Arcachon
La Ville d’Eté – the main beach and the Arcachon market
The summer city is the touristic center of Arcachon. Typical to most towns in the region it has a nice pedestrian area with plenty of restaurants and boutiques. You can start your visit directly on the waterfront, just stroll along the beautiful promenade next to the main beach (Plage d’Arcachon). Its location on the Arcachon bay protects it from the threatening waves of the Atlantic Ocean and makes it the safest beach for kids. During the summer this beach tends to be very crowded so you might consider searching for a quieter one in Ville de Printemps (see below).
One of the main attractions in Arcachon’s city center is the main market, Marché d’Arcachon. Like many towns in the area, Arcachon too has a fantastic covered market gathering plenty of food stands with local delicacies. The best thing is that the market is open daily from mid-June to mid-September and from Tuesday to Saturday the rest of the year so you can rely on it for great home-cooked meals or just a breakfast snack. In the summer, a night market takes place several days a week, with stands of clothes, accessories, jewelry and more. The night market is open until 23:00 (for the dates click here).
La Ville d’Hiver – Beautiful villas and the main park of Arcachon
The Architecture of La Ville d’Hiver
This neighborhood might not be the city center but La Ville d’Hiver is definitely the most beautiful part of Arcachon. The winter town, built on the hills of the city in the late 19th century, attracts many visitors thanks to its gorgeous architecture. Strolling the calm – green streets you will discover beautiful villas, each designed with different elements, giving the neighborhood an elegant yet eclectic style. Among the 300 villas, there are a few that should not be missed, among them Villa Tolledo, Villa Teresa, Villa Alexandre Dumas, and Villa Bremontier. If you can read some French, here’s a site with a short history of the most famous villas in the winter city.
Parc Mauresque – a beautiful park with a panoramic view
Overlooking La Ville d’Eté you will find the charming Parc Mauresque, built in 1843. It’s located on a hill which you can spot right from the city center. If you don’t want to climb too many stairs, there’s a lift that will bring you all the way up to the park’s center. That’s also the best way to pass from the summer city to winter city. The park is equipped with great playgrounds for kids and many cute spots for a picnic. This would be a great time for a picnic before heading to the beach.
Just next to the park, you’ll find the Observatoire de Sainte Cécile, a belvedere built from metal on which you can climb to see an incredible panoramic view of the Arcachon Bay. If it reminds you of the Eiffel Tower, that’s because Gustave Eiffel took part in the project!. The site is open daily and is free.
The beaches of La Ville de Printemps
The best beaches of Arcachon are located in “Spring town”, the western part of the city. The most famous beach is Plage Pereire, which starts right after the pedestrian promenade (bordered by Jetée de la Chapelle). It’s a beautiful three km beach with white sand and a view of the Cap Ferret peninsula on the other side of the bay. This beach is equipped with many sports facilities, a cycle path and green lawns for people to have a picnic on.
If you walk south on the beach line, you’ll get to Plage des Abatilles and des Arbousiers, the last one attracting the windsurfers and kite surfers coming to the area. Most beaches in Arcachon are supervised and well-equipped, so you just have to choose between the calmer beaches on the bay or the big ocean waves.
A visit to Le Moulleau
Le Moulleau, located in the far west, is officially a part of the city of Arcachon. However, in reality, it feels like a completely separate little resort town with its own center, beaches and restaurants. Le Moulleau is built around the beautiful Notre Dame des Passes square and its pier. There are several restaurants on the main street (Boulevard de la côte d’argent) and the Chemin des Pères promenade. The hotels and some restaurants in Le Moulleau are quite pricey as the area attracts a lot of wealthy French tourists. The resort is located mid-way between the center of Arcachon and the famous Dune du Pilat, so this could be a nice stop on the way there. If you’re coming by public transport, line 1 (Baia company) will take you from the Arcachon train station to the main street of Moulleau.
Take a boat to go eat lunch in Cap Ferret
If you’re around Le Moulleau during lunchtime, you can upgrade your lunch to a fun adventure. Just in front of Le Moulleau beach lies the peninsula of Cap Ferret. It’s one of the most charming villages on the Bassin d’Arcachon and is known particularly for its oyster farming. Many people go there from Arcachon just for a few hours to eat the freshest oysters in one of the restaurants on the beach. The village is located on the other side of the bay so going there by car will take more than an hour. But you can totally skip the long route and go by sea. From April to mid-September there’s a ferry that takes you from le Moulleau to Cap Ferret in just 20 minutes (leaving from Jetée du Moulleau). You can also take the ferry from the center of Arcachon, which takes 30 minutes to reach Cap Ferret. For the schedule and tickets reservation click here.
A boat trip to Iles aux Oiseaux and the Cabanes Tchanquées
Arcachon Bay is not just another resort town. The biodiversity and natural conditions which helped its famous oyster farming industry also make for fascinating adventures. If you really wish to discover the Bassin d’Arcachon beyond its beautiful beaches visit two of its landmarks, Les Cabanes Tchanquées and L’Ile aux Oiseaux. Les Cabanes Tchanquées, the two wooden huts decorating almost every postcard in Arcachon, are one of the most emblematic symbols of the bay. They were originally used for supervising the oysters’ farms but are no longer in use and can only be seen from outside. L’Ile aux Oiseaux, the birds’ island, owes its name to the many birds that reside in the Island yearlong.
There are several companies that offer both group and private tours to these and other parts of the bay. You can go by regular boat or by pinasse, which is a traditional boat from Arcachon. The tours are usually in French but many of the guides speak some English and can easily explain the most important details. The tour leaves from Jetée Thiers, located on the main beach of Arcachon. You can also get more information about different tours in the tourist office.
Dune du Pilat – the amazing sand dune
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 yourself.
If you’re coming by public transport, line 1 (Baia company) will take you from the Arcachon train station to Dune to Pilat.
Discover Arcachon by Bike
There are many bike paths and roads with very little traffic in the Bassin d’Arcachon which makes it a perfect place to discover by bicycle. The bike lanes go along most of the waterfront and lead from one beach to the other quite easily. You can also take the circuit from the center of Arcachon to Dune du Pilat and go through le Moulleau and Pyla sur Mer, the village where Dune du Pilat is located. To follow the path see the map here. There are many bike rental places in Arcachon where you can rent a bike for a few hours or for the whole day, see their details here.
Have a drink at la Co(o)rniche
La Co(o)rniche is a 5-star hotel designed by Philippe Starck with the most amazing view of the bassin. The hotel is luxurious and expensive so it’s for special occasions, but you can still enjoy the stunning view with a cocktail in the terrasse. The Co(o)rnice is just a few minutes by car from the Dune du Pilat.
Theater and Casino
If you want to finish your day with an artistic program, go ahead to Theater Olympia. This great theater hosts a variety of shows and concerts almost every night. For more details and tickets clickhere. If you’re staying the night in Arcachon you can also check out the Casino located in the city center.
Where to eat in Arcachon
There’s quite a few restaurants in Arcachon, but you should know where to go in order to avoid tourist traps. A few good places are located right at the market.
Le Bouchon du marché is located in the heart of the market with plenty of tables outside as well. The restaurant serves excellent local food, is open daily and has a great vibe to it. The market is also a good opportunity to taste some of the best oysters in Arcachon. l’Oyster Bar is an excellent spot to taste the local delicacies as well as other seafood. If you want to enjoy a better view, go to Chez Pierre located on the main beach of Arcachon.
You don’t have to stay in the city center for Lunch, there are some nice spots in Le Moulleau as well, among them is Le Jardin with the magnificent terrace and the Royal Moulleau on the riverfront. For desserts head to the center of Moulleau where you can find plenty of great ice cream on every corner.
For special occasions, there are several fine dining places worth mentioning, among them Thierry Renou’s Le Patio on the port of Arcachon. You can also stop for lunch at the Haaitza hotel which has an amazing restaurant, located just a few minutes by car or bicycle from the Dune du Pilat.
How to get to Arcachon and where to park?
By public transport
The easiest way to get to Arcachon is by train from the Saint-Jean station in Bordeaux. The train leaves every 30 to 60 minutes depending on the hour (with a break of two hours between 9:00 and 11:00). It takes about 50 minutes to get there and if you want to avoid traffic this is how I recommend getting to Arcachon. However, the train tickets aren’t cheap so if you’re more than two people, renting a car is a better option. It’s a local train without seat reservation and tickets can be bought online or at the station. See the hours of the trains here.
It can take about an hour to get from Bordeaux to Arcachon, depending on traffic. During the summer, the bay is packed with locals and tourists so the traffic can be a bit heavy. If you’re planning to visit only the town of Arcachon and the dune, getting there by train would be the easiest option.
However, if you also want to visit some of the other magical spots on the bay, a car is a more practical way to get around. Except Dune du Pilat mentioned above, there are plenty of other fascinating places you can visit on the way, such as the oyster capital Gujan-Mestras and the Teich bird reserve.
The Bordeaux airport in Merignac is less than an hour drive from the Bassin d’Arcachon. You can rent a car at the airport and avoid entering the city if you’re planning to go straight to Arcachon. If you want to do everything by public transport, take bus number 1 from the airport to the train station and a train to Arcachon from there, as explained above. There’s also an airport for private jets if you want to make a classy entrance to the bay 😉
If you’re coming in low season parking is not a big issue. Between October 1st and March 31, you can park in most of the streets of Ville d’hiver which is only a few minutes walk from the city center. However, during the summer, finding free parking is nearly impossible and you should get familiar with some of the parking spaces the city proposes. On July and August, the cheapest way to park in Arcachon is to leave your car at the Parking Relais, and then take their Navette to the city center and other parts of Arcachon. Some other parking places in the city include the Parking du centre ville, Parking de la gare, Parking place de Verdun, Parking place Peyneau and Parking place Carnot.
The main events
Arcachon is a very lively place with plenty of entertaining events. Besides the local small events taking place throughout the year, there are several big ones you should pay attention to when planning your visit.
Andernos Jazz Festival at the end of July – a jazz festival in one my favorite towns on the bay (Andernos les Bains). This place was not mentioned in the article as it’s located a bit far from the city of Arcachon but if you come during the festival I highly recommend going there.
Music O Teich in July – a world music festival with free concerts every night on the port of Teich.
Fêtes de la mer in August – the city celebrates the sea and its maritime traditions. Festival Arcachon en Scéne at the end of July, beginning of August – a big music festival you should check out
Festival Cadences in September – a dance festival on the beach and at the Olympia theater.
Cabanes en fete in December – another fun event celebrating oysters, taking place in Andernos les Bains.
To be honest, this area is pretty amazing even without any special events but those definitely add to the fun atmosphere of the Bassin d’Arcachon.
That’s it, that’s my first article about the Bassin d’Arcachon. As someone who lives close by I know that there’s plenty more to do around the bay. However, some of the other towns deserve a separate article, that’s exactly what I intend to do in the future. For now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this list!
When staying for more than a weekend in the area, many tourists are looking for day trips from Bordeaux. And rightly so, as Gironde (Bordeaux’s department) is one of the most fascinating areas in France, rich with beaches, beautiful villages, nature and heritage. There are plenty of beautiful locations around Bordeaux and some are even accessible by public transport. Thus, in order to help those who don’t want to rent a car, I gathered a list of the 10 best day trips from Bordeaux you can do by train.
* If you do rent a car you have much more options for day trips around Bordeaux – check out my article about day trips with a car.
All the tickets to the suggested destinations can be bought directly at the Gare Saint Jean train station in Bordeaux. The only one I would recommend ordering ahead of time is Angouleme, only because it’s on the direct line to Paris and the tickets might be expensive if you buy them last minute at the train station. So let’s start discovering the Bordeaux area by train with this list of the 10 best day trips around Bordeaux.
Arcachon and Dune du Pilat
Arcachon is one of the most popular summer destinations in the southwest of France. A seaside resort town renowned for its beautiful beaches, impressive architecture and vibrant atmosphere. The town is divided into four districts, named after the four seasons. 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 and Ville d’Automne is the amazing port area of Arcachon packed with great sea food restaurants. A day trip from Bordeaux to Arcachon can easily take a 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. Words can’t describe how impressive this sand monster is, you’ll have to climb it to fully appreciate its beauty. For more info:www.arcachon.com *If you want to learn more about Arcachon check out my guide to what to do and eat in the Arcachon.
How to get there by train? There is a direct train to the center of Arcachon from the Gare Saint Jean train station (or Pessac train station). To continue to Dune du Pilat, take bus number 1from the train station in Arcachon. The train leaves Bordeaux every 30 minutes from 6 am to 11:30 pm.
Saint Émilion is probably the most famous wine related day trip out of Bordeaux. Its picturesque center, densely filled with wine shops and fancy restaurants, turns this little town into a prominent attraction for tourists in the area.
Saint Emilion is mostly famous for its wines, with four appellations d’origine controlee (AOC) – Saint Émilion, Saint Émilion Grand Cru, Lussac Saint Émilion and Puisseguin Saint Émilion. A visit to one of the châteaux and participating in some wine tasting is a “must” when coming to the area. If you’re having a hard time choosing a wine château for a visit, check out my article about the best wineries to visit in Saint Emilion.
The charming town, however, is worth a visit even if you’re not a wine lover. 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. Check out the tourist office’s website for all the information about châteaux in the Saint Émilion area – http://www.saint-emilion-tourisme.com/
How to get there by train? You can get to Saint Emilion by train from the Saint Jean station in Bordeaux. There’s a 15 minutes walk from the station to the city center.
Another option is to take a guided tour that picks you up from Bordeaux and brings you to Saint-Emilion and back. Here are some of the best guided tours from Bordeaux to Saint-Emilion:
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. Get lost in the narrow charming streets of the historic center of La Réole and let the beautiful architecture take you back in time. For more info: http://www.lareole.fr/
How to get there by train? It takes about 40 minutes to get from Bordeaux to La Réole train station. The train leaves from Gare Saint Jean every two hours.
Wine tasting in Margaux
Visiting châteaux in the Médoc area is definitely easier by car, but if you prefer going by train that’s totally doable. You can always do this day trip the DIY way. A train from Bordeaux will bring you to the center of Margaux in the Haut Médoc wine making region. Margaux is also the name of one of the most famous wine appellation d’origine which includes châteaux in the village itself and several villages around it. Some of the wine châteaux are within a walking distance from the train station allowing you to have the route du vin experience without renting a car.
*If you do rent a car you should check out my article about a two-day itinerary in the Medoc wine region.
Here are the names of several recommended wine châteaux which are close to the train station (all require prior reservation):
Château Lascombes: 1 Cours de Verdun, 33460 Margaux
Château Marquis de Terme: 3 Route de Rauzan, 33460 Margaux
Château Ferriere: 33bis Rue de la Tremoille, 33460 Margaux
Château Les Barraillots: 4 Rue Corneillan, 33460 Margaux
The beautiful Château Margaux is only a 25 minutes walk from the train station. Unfortunately their tours are only open to professionals but you can walk around the winery, see the beautiful vines and take photos of the famous chateau.
How to get there by public transport: There’s a train leaving Bordeaux to Margaux every couple of hours.
This is not a familiar destination to most people visiting Bordeaux, but it’s definitely worth a day trip. Saint Macaire is a medieval city located some 50 km from Bordeaux on the banks of the Garonne river. In the 13th and 14th centuries Saint Macaire was one of the most prosperous cities in Aquitaine due to its significant agricultural and trade activities. This charming town with its narrow streets and beautiful old houses is a great place for those looking to get a sense of the region’s heritage.
How to get there by public transport? You can get to Saint Macaire by train from the Saint Jean station in Bordeaux. In the middle of the week, however, the train leaves very early in the morning and the next one leaves only in the evening. Several trains are running between Bordeaux and Saint Macaire on Saturdays so this is the recommended day to go if you want to get there by public transport. A more flexible option would be to get to Langon, from which there are more frequent trains from Bordeaux and then take a taxi (it’s a 10 minutes ride from Langon). Or if you have a bike you can take it with you on the train to Langon and then ride about 15 minutes to Saint Macaire.
Libourne is a beautiful town located at the confluence of the Isle and Dordogne rivers. The city was founded as a Bastide town in the 13th century and has been for many years an important port city central to the wine and wood trade done on the river. Surrounded by some of the world’s most renowned wine labels such as Saint Emilion, Pomerol and Fronsac, it used to play an important role in the economy of the region. While it’s not as attractive as Bordeaux, it’s the main city in northern Gironde and it’s rich with history and beautiful architecture.
Due to its location, many people see it as a wine destination from which you can visit the numerous chateaux in the area. But this city has more to offer and is worth a separate visit. You can start your visits at Place Abel-Surchamp, the main square of the city hosting the outdoor market every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. This is one of the main markets in the area, attracting people from all the little towns around Libourne. It’s recommended to visit the city on one of the market days as it really lifts the atmosphere. You can see a lot of interesting buildings on the little streets leading to the main square, some worth mentioning are Rue Victor Hugo and Rue Fonneuve. Don’t forget to take a walk on the beautiful quais of the Isle river. For more info: http://www.tourisme-libournais.com/
How to get there by train? There’s a train from Bordeaux to Libourne every 20-30 minutes.
Sainte Foy la Grande
This beautiful bastide town, situated in the north east of Gironde, is one of the most charming towns in the Libournais area. The Dordogne river runs through the town, unusual for bastides which are typically situated on hilltops. Many of the buildings in the center of this medieval town date back to the 15th century and give St. Foy la Grande it’s charming look. It’s a small lively town with little cafés on the main central Place du Marché square. Although it’s not a very touristy destination it does get quite busy during Saturday’s market. The market is one of the biggest in the area and it’s the recommended day to visit Sainte Foy la Grande. If you want to spend the whole day there you can cross the river to the other side and visit a small river beach called Plage des Bardoulets. For more info: http://www.tourisme-dordogne-paysfoyen.com/
How to get there by train? It takes about an hour by train from Saint Jean station to Sainte Foy la Grande.
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. One “must” stop is 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 coast line, many of which are located at the famous Port de Larros. If you’re planning to spend the whole day there, check out the Plage de la Hume. For more info on what to do in Gujan-Mestras check out: https://www.gujanmestras.com
How to get there by train? Gujan-Mestras is one of the stations on the way from Bordeaux to Arcachon. The train leaves every 30 minutes from Bordeaux Saint Jean or Pessac Centre stations.
Visit Châteaux in Bordeaux by tram or bus
Many people are looking for châteaux in the Médoc region or next to Saint Emilion, but actually there are some famous châteaux in Bordeaux metropole and you can easily reach them by tram or by bus.
Some of the more familiar ones are: Château Pape Clément in Pessac Take line B to Pessac Centre and then continue 20 minutes by foot or take a direct bus from Place Tourny in Bordeaux (line 4). You can book the tour online – just click here.
Château Haut brion in Pessac You can reach it by bus 4 from Place Tourny in Bordeaux. For more info click here.
Château du Taillan in Le Taillan-Médoc You can reach it by bus 5N from Place Tourny in Bordeaux. For more info click here.
Château Saint Ahon In Blanquefort Take line C to the Blanquefort train station and then continue 20 minutes by foot or take bus 29 from the Blanquefort train station. For more info click ere. All of them have amazing wine and are beautiful destinations, be sure to make reservations before you go.
One of the biggest cities in the south west region is Angoulme. The town is located on a plateau overlooking the Charente river, attracting many tourists thanks to its beautiful historic center and vibrant cultural life. Stroll the streets to explore the historic part of the city and the beautiful boulevards with their view on the original ramparts. It’s a vibrant city with plenty of cafes and restaurants, a big market, museums and historic monuments worth visiting. It’s also famous for its comics festival taking places in January and its interesting comics museum. You can admire the comics art by just strolling the streets. There are 20 murals of comics and illustrations on buildings in almost every neighborhood around the city. For more info: http://www.angouleme-tourisme.com/
How to get there by train? The TGV train to Paris stops in Angouleme, so even though it’s located 130 km from Bordeaux, you can still get there from Bordeaux in about 35 minutes.
If you have more time and you’re looking for a weekend destination to go to by train check out my two posts about things to do in Biarritz and in Cognac.
Need more ideas for things to do in and around Bordeaux? you should definitely join my newsletter where I share a lot of info about the area – sign up here.
Until just a few months ago I used to publish monthly posts with plenty of suggestions for things to do in Bordeaux every month and then like the rest of the world I had to stop. So I can’t even describe how good it feels to finally write this article. Those who live or have ever visited Bordeaux know that there are plenty of fun events taking place here every summer. This summer most events were obviously postponed to the summer of 2021 but luckily there are still plenty of great summer places that will be open, allowing us to enjoy this lovely season. In this article, I gathered 15 places and things you can do in Bordeaux this summer (2020). For specific events and other ideas for things to do every weekend, I invite you to subscribe to my email list here.
Go see the amazing Gustave Klimt exhibition – D’or et de couleurs
The long-awaited Gustave Klimt exhibition at the Bassins de Lumières (previously known as the Base sous-marine) was finally opened on June 10th. This is one of the most stunning exhibitions to ever arrive at Bordeaux and a visit there is a must! Whereas previously the quays of the Base sous-marine were used only to access the exhibition, this time all four pools, the quais, and the bridges are all used to screen the animated paintings of Klimt and his friends in the Vienna Secession movement. The result is mesmerizing! Important information: tickets must be bought in advance (here’s the link) and masks are obligatory.
Dance at La Guinguette chez Alriq
The Guinguette is a tavern on the right banks of the Garonne hosting plenty of open-air concerts every summer. The performing bands and artists are coming from all over the world and create a laid back party atmosphere. You can see their program here. The place is open from Wednesday to Sunday with concerts taking place daily. If you’re a group of people you can book a table – see all the details here.
Bordeaux museums are free this summer
Yes, you heard it right! Five main museums in Bordeaux are going to be free all summer long! This is the list: le Muséum d’histoire naturelle, le CAPC, le Musée d’Aquitaine, le Musée des Arts Décoratifs and le Musée des Beaux-Arts. If you’re coming with kids, the natural history museum of Bordeaux is fantastic!
The Cité du Vin is one of the most popular attractions on the tourist trail in Bordeaux. 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. One of the downsides is that the visit is quite expensive, the entry price for an adult is 20 euros and 9 euros for kids, so a family visit there makes it a pricey experience. However, this summer la Cité du Vin is free for kids under 17yo so it’s a great opportunity to take them to one of the most entertaining museums in Bordeaux. You can read my article about my visit to the Cite du Vin to get a good idea of what to expect there.
Enjoy a fun day in Darwin
Hipster paradise is finally open again! For those new to Bordeaux, Darwin is 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. On Saturdays, you can enjoy an outdoor local produce market. It’s also one of the most extraordinary places for street art and includes some amazing works by a lot of talented artists on each one of its buildings. Since the reopening, they added plenty of tables outdoors in what they call “Darwin Plein Air”, with some nice food stands for snacks. It’s not clear if Darwin Plein Air will continue throughout the summer but Darwin is a fun place to hang out in any case.
This summer (until August 31) Bordeaux Lac will offer FREE activities such as kayaking, SUP, zumba and more! The activities are taking place daily from 14:00 to 18:00 and registration is taking place on the beach starting from 13:30. Please read the content in this link as it includes instructions for some documents you need to present to be able to register as well as the schedule of the daily activities.
Puppet Theater for Kids
Le Guignol Guérin, founded in 1853, is the oldest puppetry show in France with daily spectacles for kids in Parc Bordelais during the summer (July and August). The show usually starts at 16:00 but can be canceled or postponed when it’s raining or getting too hot. Read more about the theater here.
Go to the IBOAT beach
Well, it’s not really a proper beach where you can swim but it’s definitely one of the coolest places in town. La Plage de L’IBOAT is a fun outdoor space with a bar, comfy sofas, and different outdoor events. The Iboat, mostly known as a concert venue, is a three-level ferry spanning 687m2, anchored to one of the docks of Bassins a flot.
For more cool places to visit in the Bassin a flot area check out my article about the Bacalan district.
Have a drink at Mama Shelter
This is one of the best places for drinks in Bordeaux, a rooftop bar on top of the Mama Shelter hotel in Bordeaux center. The rooftop is currently open every day from 12:00 to midnight, however, hours may change so check out their website before going. This place is very popular and tends to get busy in the late evening, so booking a table is recommended.
Mama Shelter is only one of the cool rooftops in Bordeaux Metropole, if you want to discover more hip rooftops and fun terrace cafes check out my article about the best summer bars in Bordeaux.
Don’t we all need to refresh our closet after this long period of being stuck at home? Summer sales are a great opportunity to enjoy good deals on clothes, shoes, electric supplies, toys and more. This summer the soldes d’été will take place from July 15 to August 11.
Enjoy the best markets in Bordeaux
You know how you always see people uploading beautiful pictures from French markets, with piles of strawberries, mouth-watering cheese, and crispy baguettes? Why not have the same fun touristic experience here, in one of Bordeaux’s numerous markets. The most popular market in Bordeaux is of course Marché des Capucins but there are plenty of amazing open-air markets in different neighborhoods in the city. Even if you live here you’ll probably discover a few new markets in my article about the best markets in Bordeaux.
Things to do around Bordeaux – Gironde and Dordogne
Taste the good life of Arcachon
If I had to make my top “good life in the Southwest of France” list, oysters, white wine, and beautiful beaches would probably be in my top 5. The Arcachon Bay is located about 50 km from Bordeaux and offers some of the best summer experiences in France. Tens of amazing beaches, oyster farmers villages, natural reserves, beautiful 19th-century architecture, and plenty of attractions for kids. A day trip (at least) to the Bassin d’Arcachon is an absolute must when visiting Bordeaux. To help you decide where to go I wrote an article about the best places to visit on the Arcachon Bay.
For a perfect summer afternoon gateway, head to Dune du Pilat and finish with a drink in La Corniche. Sounds splendid, isn’t it? Read more about these places in my article about the southern part of Arcachon.
Kayaking or Canoeing in the Dordogne river
Bordeaux is surrounded by many big and small rivers, it’s not a surprise then that there are quite a few places for Kayaking and Canoeing in the Bordeaux region. One of the biggest rivers near Bordeaux is the Dordogne, which splits from the Estuary of Gironde some 30 km north of Bordeaux. The low flow in most parts of the river makes it ideal for a kayak or canoe trip as you can easily descend and visit many beautiful villages and impressive chateaux on the way. I wrote an article about some of the best Kayaking clubs on the Dordogne river, some of which are located close to Bordeaux. You can also enjoy kayaking on the Leyre river on the Arcachon Bay.
Being close to the Atlantic ocean and surrounded by lakes are some of the best things about being in Bordeaux in the summer. We have an incredible amount of beautiful beaches with white fine sand, amazing views and nice beach facilities. You can surf in the Atlantic ocean, enjoy the kids’ friendly beaches of the Arcachon Bay or go to one of the beautiful lakes (and even hike around them!). If you’re here for a short period of time, it’s hard to choose where to go. To help you out I wrote an article about the best beaches around Bordeaux.
Discover the most charming villages in Gironde
Bordeaux itself is a beautiful and lively city but some of the best architectural treasures are spread around Gironde. The biggest department in France has some of the most charming villages in the Southwest of France. Bastide towns with arched squares, medieval towns with narrow streets, historic chateaux and citadels are all part of the incredible heritage of this region. In my article about the most beautiful villages in Gironde, I listed all my favorite villages around Bordeaux.
Go hiking and discover Gironde’s nature
Besides impressive heritage and beautiful beaches, the Bordeaux region is also rich with nature reserves, forests, and parks. If hiking is your thing, the options are endless. If you need some ideas for fun and interesting hiking trails, check out my article about hiking in Bordeaux.
Picnic in the vineyards
Like many industries the wine growers of Bordeaux have suffered the financial consequences of the lockdown. To bring back visitors to their wineries the winegrowers of the Bienvenue à la ferme en Gironde association are coming up with a great initiative – a picnic at the vineyards. Every Friday, 16 wineries in Gironde will host visitors for an event that will include wines and tapas from different local producers at a price of 7 euro per person. The visit has to be booked in advance directly with the winery – you can see the list of the chateaux here.
Visit the most beautiful chateaux in Gironde
Dordogne earned its reputation as the queen of Chateaux in the southwest of France, but did you know that some of the most beautiful chateaux (castles) in this region are actually located in Gironde? Château Royal de Cazeneuve, Château de Roquetaillade and Chateau Villandraut are all located in the south of Gironde. These three are rich with history and beautiful architecture and are some of the most interesting heritage sites in our region. This summer the tourist offices of the South of Gironde offer a special chateaux pass giving you a discount if you visit more than one chateau. The pass can be bought in the tourist office in Langon and at the reception desk of all three chateaux. You can see more details here.
A new huge Labyrinth in Gironde
Popcorn Labyrinth is a new huge Labyrinth in Cestas that is about to open its doors on July 11th. During the summer the Labyrinthe will be open every day and even has night sessions on Fridays and Saturdays. You can see the hours and prices in this link.
Taste white wine in Entre deux mers
Bordeaux is the capital of wine and is mostly associated with red wine. However, I think that the hot summer in Bordeaux is a great opportunity to discover the white wines of Bordeaux. The largest sub-region in Bordeaux is Entre Deux Mers, the area located between the Dordogne and the Garonne river. While both red and white wines are produced in this region, only the white ones can get the AOC label of the Entre Deux Mers appellation. The wine is usually drunk young and is absolutely perfect for the Bordelais summer. In this link, you’ll find many of the wineries you can visit in the Entre Deux Mers region.
If you need more advice about the wines of the region and about the best wineries to visit, you can visit the Maison des Vins that is located at the La Sauve Majeure Abbey, about 30 minutes drive from Bordeaux.
Plenty of Jazz festivals are taking place this weekend around Bordeaux. If you prefer to stay in town, as usual there are cool summer parties happening all over the city and they are all included in this post. Here’s the list of things to do this weekend in Bordeaux (July 26-28).
Andernos Jazz Festival
One of the best Jazz festivals in the Gironde region is taking place this weekend (July 26-28) in Andernos les Bains. Nineteen concerts will take place on four different scenes in this beautiful town on the Arcachon Bay. For more details about the Andernos Jazz Festival click here and the full program here.
When: July 26-28 / Where: the center of Andernos les Bains
A fun event for kids is taking place this weekend (July 26-28) at the Peixotto park in Talence. There will be two separated spaces, one for the very little ones and one for bigger kids. For more info click here.
When: July 26-28, from 14:00 to 19:00 / Where: Peixotto park, Talence
Bordeaux Open Air
Bordeaux Open Air is a series of free summer electronic music events, all set in different locations and with a great city vibe to them. Every event is dedicated to a different country and hosts its DJ’s for sets of electronic music. The next Open Air event will take place this Sunday (July 28) at Parc aux Angéliques. For more details click here.
When: July 28, starting 15:00 / Where: Parc aux Angéliques, Bordeaux
Arcachon En Scene
Arcachon en Scene is a popular music festival that brings big French and international acts to perform in this beautiful town. This year’s program includes Amir and Kimberose (July 29) and GIMS (August 2). For more info check out the facebook page of the event, for tickets click here.
When: July 28 29, August 2 / Where: Stade Vélodrome d’Arcachon
Jazz in Marciac
Marciac is a nice little village in the Gers department (about 2 hours drive from Bordeaux) that hosts one of the biggest Jazz festivals in the region. The festival takes place for three weeks (from July 27 to August 15) and has a very impressive lineup of international Jazz artists. The tickets are sold separately to each and every concert. Check out the full program here.
When: July 27 to August 15 / Where: Marciac
Banzaï Land – Plein Air
Banzaï Land invites you to a weekend full of concerts at the old Casteja police station (close to Gambetta). The event will take place from Friday to Sunday (July 26-28), check out the full program here.
When: July 26-28 / Where: 87 Rue Abbé-de-l’Épée, 33000 Bordeaux
Jazz in Sanguinet
Another cool festival this weekend (July 25-28) will take place in Sanguinet, just next to Biscarrosse lake. This is a fun and free event with plenty of concerts and exhibitions. For more info click here.
When: July 25-28 / Where: Espace Gemme, Avenue du Born, 40460 SANGUINET
Relache Festival, created by the Allez les filles association, is a series of free concerts taking place at different venues and dates during the summer. The next events are taking place this Friday (July 26) at the Salle des fêtes du Grand Parc and Saturday (July 27) at Place du Palais. For the lineup and more details click here and here.
When: July 26-27 / Where: Salle des fêtes du Grand Parc and Place du Palais, 33000 Bordeaux
Go see an exhibition
There are some amazing exhibitions presented this summer at various museums in Bordeaux. I gathered the best exhibitions I think you should see in one of my recent articles, read it here.
Guided English tour in Musée D’Aquitaine
The Musée D’Aquitaine is offering English guided tours of the entire permanent collection every Sunday until the end of August. The tour covers pre-history to the modern ages with a focus on the museum’s highlights, including the Laussel Venus, the statue of Hercules, the cenotaph of Michel Montaigne and more. The visits are on Sunday at 11 am, admission is 5€ full price, 3€ reduced, the tour is included with the entry price.
When: every Sunday at 11:30 / Where: 20 Cours Pasteur, 33000 Bordeaux
Le Verger Grand Format
Les Vivres de l’Art is hosting a fun afternoon party this Saturday (July 27) with a lineup of DJs from all over the world. If you still haven’t visited this beautiful place in Bacalan, it’s time to do just that. For more info click here.
When: July 27/ Where: 4 rue Achard, 33300 Bordeaux, France
La Bataille de Castillon
La Bataille de Castillon is a spectacle taking place during more than 10 evenings in the summer, replicating the famous fight from 1453. Castillon-la-Bataille, the town where the show takes place also hosts many activities and events revolving the big show: tours of the city, exhibitions, and workshops of medieval art and more. For more info and tickets click here.
When: July 19 – August 24 / Where: Association 1453, Mairie de Castillon, 33350 CASTILLON-LA-BATAILLE
Dance on the Quai
Dansons sur les Quais is a series of dancing classes and events where people gather to dance together and learn a variety of dancing genres like Tango, Salsa, Bollywood, Forro, Hip Hop, Street Jazz, Zumba, Country and more. These activities will be guided by professional dancers from different dance schools in Bordeaux and they are completely free, so this is a great opportunity you don’t want to miss. Dansons sur les Quais is taking place every day until August18. For more details and the full program check out the website of Dansons sur les Quai.
When: Daily from July 14 to August 18 / Where: Quai Louis XVIII, 33000 Bordeaux
Quai des Sports
This is the 11th edition of this fun sportive event taking place every summer (July 13 to August 11) at the Parc des sports Saint Michel. The program this month includes a variety of sportive activities such as a fitness night, beach volleyball, basketball, BMX, beach wrestling and more. The festival will be accompanied by artistic and music events. Many of the activities are aimed at kids and teenagers and are a perfect solution for entertaining them in the center of Bordeaux during the summer. Check the full program here.
When: Daily from July 13 to August 11 / Where: Parc des sports Saint Michel, Bordeaux
The summer pavilion on the right side of the river
Like every summer in the last five years, the Orangeade association opens its summer pavilion on le Quai Deschamps (in the Bastide neighborhood) with live concerts every Friday (18:00 – 01:00) and Saturday (12:00 to 01:00). These events are not just music concerts but rather a place for friends and family to spend the weekend with yoga classes, creative workshops, activities for kids and more. The next event will take place this weekend (July 26-27), for more details click here.
When: July 26-27 / Where: Quai Deschamps, 33100 Bordeaux, France
Rétro mobile du Bazadais
This Sunday (July 28) Bazas will host its annual ancient cars salon. The event is taking place next to the city hall of Bazas. For more details click here.
When: July 28/ Where: Hôtel de ville de Bazas
La Guinguette de L’Hippodrome
La Guinguette de l’Hippodrome is yet another nice spot for summer nights in Bordeaux. The tavern in le Bouscat is inviting you to its weekend parties taking place every Friday and Saturday until October. For more details click here.
When: July 26-27/ Where: 8 avenue de l’Hippodrome, 33110 Le Bouscat
Skatopiak is a reggae festival taking place this weekend (July 27-28) in Saint-Jean-d’Illac. The program includes a lineup of seven concerts. For more details click here.
When: July 27-28/ Where: Parc de l’Eglise, Saint-Jean-d’Illac
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