It’s that time of the year when pumpkins are getting to be the stars of the market and Halloween decorations suddenly appear in many stores in Bordeaux. Usually, at the beginning of October, I begin scouting for Halloween events and I must admit that since Covid started there aren’t that many of them in our region but I was still able to find a few fun options for kids to put on their costumes and enjoy different Halloween activities. I also included a fun party for adults so don’t close the article yet if you don’t have kids 🙂 Here’s a list of Halloween events taking place in the Bordeaux region (and some in Dordogne) in 2021.
Like every year you can trust Château de Villandraut with a great program for Halloween. This year the events will take place on October 25 – 31 andthe program includes a treasure hunt, a murder party, and more. Check out all the details here.
Cabaret Zombie at the Iboat
Blonde Venus (one of the bars of the Iboat) is hosting a Halloween cabaret night on October 30. For the full program and tickets click here.
Domain du Raba
Domain du Raba in Talence is hosting a fun Halloween day for kids which will include a pumpkin workshop and a movie. For all the details click here.
Ferme Exotique – during the fall vacation
La Ferme Exotique in Cadaujac invites you to celebrate Halloween with their farm animals during the two weeks of school break from October 23 to November 7. In the program: games, masks creation workshops, Halloween makeup, and a phantom train. For more info click here.
A mask-making workshop for kids
The Récup’R Bordeaux association is hosting a mask-making Halloween activity for kids (over 8 yo). The event will take place at the Maison écocitoyenne in Bordeaux on October 27. The event is free but prior registration is required, check out the details here.
School of witches in Château de Bridoire
If you don’t mind traveling a bit then you would also enjoy this event. The Château de Bridoire in Dordogne, also known as the castle of games, is hosting a game called the school of witches, which should be fun for both kids and adults. The activities are about to take place daily during the kids’ fall break from October 23 to November 7. On the weekend of October 29 – 30, the château is also organizing Halloween nights with a murder party escape game. See all the details here.
Treasure Hunt is Bergerac
Not far from the Chateau de Bridoire in the city of Bergerac, you can also participate in a big Treasure hunt for kids (age 6-10 yo). The activities will take place on October 27 and October 30. For all the details click here.
October has always been one of the best months for events in Bordeaux and this year is no exception. The international contemporary art festival is taking place this month as well as the hot air balloon festival in Saint Emilion and open doors weekends in different chateaux. In this post, I published only the biggest and most famous events and festivals in the region, but in a city like Bordeaux you can enjoy many activities and events like brocantes, art markets, and concerts every weekend. I usually publish those in my newsletter which is send every Friday morning – you can subscribe to my email list to enjoy all the updates about Bordeaux and the southwest of France.
Here are the best things to do in Bordeaux in October 2021 (scroll down for exhibitions recommendations)!
FAB – International art festival
FAB is the annual International art festival of Bordeaux Metropole taking place this year on October 1-23. As one of Europe’s biggest art festivals, it attracts some known names from the international contemporary art scene. During the three weeks of the festival, more than 30 shows will take place in more than 20 different locations in Bordeaux. Click here to see the full program of the festival.
When: October 1-20 / Where: Different locations in Bordeaux metropole – check out the program
Nuit des Bibliothèques
La Nuit des Bibliothèques taking place on October 2, is a great opportunity to discover the libraries across the city. 27 libraries in Bordeaux Metropole will participate in this event and will offer such activities as concerts, theater shows, science workshops, games for kids and more. See more details here and the full program here.
When: October 2 – evening / Where: Bordeaux, Merignac, Pessac, and more – check out the full program
La Grande Transhumance Urbaine
The Grande Transhumance Urbaine is a fun event taking place every October in Villenave d’Ornon (one of Bordeaux’s southern suburbs). The idea of this festival is to connect city people to the local agriculture with the main event being an 8km sheep march, passing through different farms. On the way, you can enjoy concerts and markets with local products. This year the event will take place on October 3rd, with the march starting from Ferme de Baugé and ending at Domaine de la Junca. See more details here and the full program here.
When: October 3 / Where: Villenave d’Ornon, check out the full program
Foire aux Plaisirs
This is the fall edition of the traditional Bordelais Fair that is taking place at Place des Quinconces from October 8 to November 1. It’s a perfect activity for kids and for those who are young in spirit as La Foire aux Plaisirs de Bordeaux has it all: a big wheel, roller coasters, ghost trains, bumper cars, donuts, crèpes, candyfloss and more. The fair is open daily from 14:00, you are not required to pay any entry fee, only for some of the attractions. See more info about the fair here.
When: October 8 – November 1 / Where: Place des Quinconces, Bordeaux
Animasia is a festival of Asian pop culture bringing together many elements like J-POP music, Yosakoi dance, karaoke and Cosplay performances. The place will also include thematic areas with martial arts, video games, board games and more. The festival will take place on the weekend of October 9-10at the Parc des Expositions. For more info and tickets check out the website of the festival.
When: October 9-10 / Where: Parc des Expositions, Bordeaux
Village des Sciences
On October 9-10 Bordeaux’s science museum will host its annual Village des Sciences weekend. This year’s theme is “critical thinking”. See more details here (the program will be published soon).
When: September 9-10 / Where: Hangar 20, Quai de Bacalan, Bordeaux
Lire en Poche – books festival
Lire en Poche is a pocketbooks festival that will take place in Gradignan on October 8-10. Besides a huge book sale, a wide range of activities are offered to the participants, among them: reading sessions, theater shows, music, games, workshops for kids, and more. The entrance to the festival is free, however, some activities are paid and require prior reservation. For more info click here.
When: October 8-10 / Where: Théâtre des Quatre Saisons et à La Médiathèque Jean Vautrin, 32 route de Léognan – 33170 Gradignan
Montgolfiades de Saint-Emilion
Montgolfiades is an annual festival of hot-air balloon flights organized by Le Ciel est à Toi association. The flights will take place on October 15-17 above Saint Emilion and the vineyards around it, so the sight is promised to be breathtaking. For more info click here.
When: October 15-17 / Where: in the vineyards of Saint Emilion, just follow the balloons
Open doors in the Chateaux of Graves
Graves, one of the wine regions in the Bordeaux wine area, invites you to an open doors weekend, allowing you to discover its wines and châteaux. During the weekend (October 16-17) 71 châteaux will open their doors to visits, wine tastings, wine workshops and different activities for kids and adults. See the full program of the event and the list of participating châteaux here.
When: October 16-17 / Where: Graves area – chose your chateau from the program
FIFIB- Bordeaux international festival of independent movies
Bordeaux Independent Films Festival will take place on October 13-18 at Rue Mably in the center of Bordeaux. The program includes film screenings, concerts and meetings with special guests. Every evening, the festival village will transform into an open cinema theater and a dance floor. The event is free and open for all. See the full program on the site of the festival.
When: October 13-18 / Where: Le Village du FIFIB, 3 rue Mably, Bordeaux
A bit of Basque country!
Foire au Jambon
If you really love ham, this is the event for you! Every year, Bayonne, the capital of the French Basque country hosts the Foire au Jambon, where the best ham producer is chosen. The program also includes a big market with plenty of local food producers, farm animals, and music on the streets of Bayonne. The festival will take place on October 15-17. For more info click here.
When: October 15-17 / Where: Bayonne
Fête du Piment d’Espelette
Piment d’Espelette is the red pepper that decorates every market in the Basque country and every shop selling Basque products. Like every important ingredient in the French kitchen, this little pepper needs a “fête”. Fête du Piment d’Espelette is taking place on October 23-24 in the beautiful village of Espelette. The program includes a big parade, a huge market, musical concerts, activities for kids, a mass with the choir of Espelette, and more. For more details click here.
Read more about this beautiful village in my article about Espelette.
Finally, for the first time since March 2020, l’Institut Bernard Magrez hosts a new exhibition. This beautiful place is known for hosting some of the best street art exhibitions in Bordeaux and this time it will be the American artist JonOne with his exhibition “Free Spirit”! The exhibition will be presented between September 25 and February 27.
For more details and tickets click here.
La Cité du Vin – Boire avec les dieux
Drinking with the gods is a temporary exhibition presented at the wine museum of Bordeaux until November 7. Through a lively experience of sound and visuals, the exhibition touches upon the connection between wine, gods, and men in Greco-Roman civilization. For more details click here.
Monet, Renoir… Chagall, Voyages en Méditerranée
Visiting Les Bassins de Lumières is an amazing cultural experience that should not be missed when in Bordeaux. The exhibition that is currently running there is called Monet, Renoir… Chagall, Voyages en Méditerranée. You can get a bit of an impression of how it looks inside in my video below. The exhibition is taking place from May 19 to January 2nd. You must book your tickets in advance.
There are plenty of great articles you can find about the main attractions in Bordeaux as well as its most important monuments. However, I feel they don’t reveal all the treasures and hidden gems this city has to offer. You need to fully experience Bordeaux in order to understand why people love it so much. In this article, I summarized my 50 best things to do in Bordeaux. My list includes everything from food, chic cafés, shopping, fun neighborhoods, music venues, art, day trips, and more. Hope you’ll enjoy it! If you enjoyed the list please share it!
Before we start, if you have only one day in Bordeaux, check out my article about what to do and see on a one-day trip – read it here. Also, check out my Travel in the Southwest of France group on Facebook for many more tips. Now let’s start!
Best things to do in Bordeaux and its surroundings
Admire the stunning gates of Bordeaux
Before becoming a modern 18th-century city with spacious squares and boulevards, Bordeaux was once a little town surrounded by walls and impressive entrance gates. Today, five of the gates are still standing, marking the old borders of Bordeaux: the Grosse Cloche and le Porte Cailhau in the city canter, Porte de Bourgogne facing the river, Porte d’Aquitaine on Place de la Victiore, and Porte Dijeaux at the western part of the historic center. The first two on this list are the only two original gates from the 15th century from when Bordeaux was still a fortress and they are real architectural masterpieces.
The Famous Water Mirror
The Miroir d’Eau is a huge water mirror located on the left bank of the Garonne river, just in front of the iconic Place de la Bourse. Le Miroir d’Eau is the most popular monument in Bordeaux attracting many families with kids to splash their feet on hot summer days. It is also one of the best places to take your Instagram photos 🙂
Canelé is the most famous Bordeaux pastry so tasting one is a must when in Bordeaux. Like many other things in this region, the story of Canelé is related to the wine world. Legend has it that the first canelés were made by nuns at the Couvert de L’Annociade de Bordeaux at the end of the 17th century. It made out of flour and egg yolks that were given to nuns by winemakers who used egg whites to purify the wine. Today the little brown striated pastry can be found in many sizes all over the city. My all-time favorite canelé is la Toque Cuivrée and you can see their small boutiques spread all over the city center. See all their shops here.
Bordeaux is a surprising city when it comes to good coffee places. While France doesn’t have a strong reputation in making good coffee, Bordeaux prides itself on its coffee scene, with cute little coffee places popping up in every corner. The list is quite long but here are some of my favorites: Kuro, Sip, l’Alchimiste, and Piha in the city center and Café Eriu and Café Gusco within a few minutes walk of the center. Read more about some of the best coffee places in Bordeaux here.
Check out my video about Café Eriu
Bike along the Garonne river
Bordeaux is a very flat and bike-friendly city. There are many interesting cycling trails you can do around Bordeaux metropole, however, the most recommended one in the city center is the bridge to bridge trail. The circuit goes from Pont Pierre (the central bridge of Bordeaux) to the new Pont Chaban Delmas, on both sides of the Garonne river. Besides the very pleasant ride on the riverfront, you get to see some of the most beautiful and fun places in Bordeaux such as the stunning 18th-century buildings along the riverfront, the Cité du Vin, Darwin, and more. You can read all about it in my article about the bridge to bridge trail.
Go to the Capucins Market
In my opinion, Capucins is one of the best markets in France, here I said it! 🙂 If you love food or at least want to discover a bit of the rich gastronomic culture of the southwest of France, there’s no better place than the Capucins market. This is the biggest daily market in Bordeaux and has everything from stands of fruits and vegetables, sweets, spices, and a bunch of lively cafés and restaurants. I have a whole article about the best places to eat at the Capucins market, so be sure to read it before going.
Don’t miss the little stall with a local pasty called le Puit d’amour, you’ll thank me later.
Drink at the Bacalan market
From a traditional market to the newer chic market of Bordeaux -Marché de Bacalan This impressive hangar is located in the Bacalan district just in front of the famous Cité du Vin and hosts more than 20 different artisans and merchants that were chosen for the quality of their products. Many locals flock to the market on weekends for drinks and tapas and the great vibes. I wrote a whole article about the Bacalan district as it’s one of my favorite places in Bordeaux – check it out here.
See the best exhibitions at the Base Sous-Marine
La Base Sous-Marine is one of the most unique art venues in Bordeaux. Built by the Germans during the Second World War, this old submarine base has been converted into a space dedicated to contemporary arts, which allows you to enjoy the space itself no less than the art presented there. Currently, the place is called le Bassin des Lumières hosting a mesmerizing exhibition of Monet, Renoir, Chagall and others called “Voyages en Méditerranée”.
Important information: tickets must be bought in advance (here’s the link) and masks are obligatory.
Cité du Vin – the world’s biggest wine museum
This impressive piece of modern architecture is a unique cultural center, all dedicated to the discovery of wine. Through its interactive exhibition, it offers a journey to both French and global wine history. You will learn about winemaking, see movies and interviews with wine producers and then smell and taste wine.
Read about what to expect when visiting the museum in my article about my visit to the Cité du Vin. You can avoid the lines at the entrance by booking the tickets online – book here.
Visit Bordeaux’s real wine museum
I know I just talked about the big wine museum in Bordeaux but that’s not Bordeaux’s real wine museum, it’s rather a world wine museum. Musée du Vin et du Négoce is the actual Bordeaux wine museum and the best place to help you discover how the Bordeaux wine area has developed over the years. It’s situated in what used to be a typical house of a négociant (wine trader) in the 18th century in the Chartrons district. It’s not as modern and interactive as the Cité du Vin but if you want to learn about the history of the Bordeaux wine region this is the place to go. It ends with a very nice wine tasting session where you get plenty of explanations about the different wine appellations in Bordeaux.
Arguably the most beautiful building in Bordeaux, le Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux is a cultural landmark you should not miss when visiting the city. The historic monument, built in 1780, is home to the National Opera and ballet of Bordeaux and its program often includes some of the best ensembles from all over the globe. The demand for tickets is usually very high so book your tickets in advance. Even if you don’t have the time to see a concert I recommend taking a tour of the opera as the interior design is spectacular. Check out all the details here.
Classic music concert at the auditorium
Getting tickets to the opera at the Grand Théâtre requires buying tickets well in advice, going to a classical music concert, on the other hand, is much easier. The Auditorium of the Opera National of Bordeaux is one of the largest music venues in Bordeaux hosting several classical music concerts every week. See the program here.
Go to the CIBC for Bordeaux wine tasting
If you really want to understand the variety of Bordeaux wines you should start tasting it and there’s no better place for that than le Bar à Vin. This classic wine bar, located in the 18th-century residence of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux (the Bordeaux Wine Council). The best thing about this place is that they let you taste half glasses so you can discover many fantastic local wines at very low prices. For other great options for wine tasting read my article about wine tasting in Bordeaux.
L’intendant – the wine library of Bordeaux
L’intendant is the most beautiful and rich wine store in Bordeaux and it’s no wonder that it’s referred to as the library of Bordeaux’s wines. It holds a collection of more than 15,000 bottles all stacked on its walls, following a 12 meters high spiral staircase. Established almost 30 years ago, the store has become one of the go-to places to shop for the famous wines of the region.
Explore the Saint Michel neighborhood
Saint Michel is one of the most cosmopolitan and lively neighborhoods in Bordeaux. Although It’s not part of the traditional sightseeing tours of Bordeaux, I really recommend spending a few hours in this cool district. The neighborhood is home to some of the best markets of Bordeaux, numerous places where you can browse for vintage clothes and furniture, and an endless list of lively restaurants and cafes.
Every Sunday morning more than 80 dealers gather at the square in front of the Basilica of Saint Michel for the Brocante du Dimanche. This is the weekly flea market of Bordeaux where you can find real bargains and purchase everything from toys for kids to antique frames and electronic devices.
Discover Bordeaux’s amazing street art
Like many other cities, Bordeaux has the street art fever, with plenty of stunning wall paintings decorating its streets. Darwin is one of the places that have the largest concentration of street art by local artists in Bordeaux. Other spots in the city include the Bassin a Flot district, rue Bouffard, Quai des platitudes, the Mur in Chartrons, rue Bergeret, and more. In the city center, you can follow the huge animals by the local artist A-mo pained on walls and shatters of many shops (don’t miss the huge gorilla and the fox) – I won’t give you the specific locations, I’m sure it’ll be a lot of fun to find them by yourself.
L’entrepôt Saint Germain – the best vintage shop
L’entrepôt Saint Germain is a huge hangar with plenty of vintage furniture, beautiful house decor, antiques, and many creepy, funny, and probably unnecessary items. It’s designed like a little street with different boutiques and cafés (not real ones, unfortunately) where the items are perfectly placed. The place is open daily and is located a few minutes’ walk from the train station of Bordeaux on 96 Rue Amédée Saint-Germain.
Time for chocolate!
There are quite a few amazing chocolate shops in the center of Bordeaux. Some are owned by young talented chocolatiers (chocolate makers) and others are established places dating centuries back. Here are just a few of the best chocolate shops in the center of Bordeaux: David Capi (my personal favorite); Cadiot Badie, the oldest chocolate store in Bordeaux; Hasnaa, the rising star of the Bordeaux chocolate world and Saunion, founded in 1893 and considered one of Bordeaux’s classics.
Do a picnic in Jardin public
Jardin Public is the largest park in the center of Bordeaux with more than 300 trees and vast green planes – a perfect place for a picnic. Besides being visually stunning, it has a large pond (with ducks and geese!), great facilities for kids, and even a nice coffee place. If you want to know more about parks and gardens in Bordeaux check out my article on places for picnics in Bordeaux.
Freep’show – a funky vintage shop
If you like second-hand shops you’re definitely going to love Freep’show, a little hipster store with its impressive selection of plaid shirts, short jeans, and colorful dresses. Once you take your eyes off the big Slash mannequin in the entrance, you can spot plenty of second-hand items from the 80s and 90s that will make you instantly nostalgic. Add to that the vinyl records decor, uplifting music, and stylish employees dancing to its beats and you get one of the best vintage stores in town. You can read my full article about the best second-hand shops in Bordeaux here.
Have a delicious meal
In recent years Bordeaux is gaining popularity as a gastronomic city and even holds the record for the number of restaurants per person in France. So trying at least one restaurant in Bordeaux is a must! There are a lot of excellent restaurants in the city center and choosing one won’t be easy, but let me suggest just a few. Here’s a list of a few restaurants I like in the city: l’Atelier des Faures, Au Bistro near the market, Le bouchon bordelais, Le M, Mets Mots, Le Chien de Pavlov , La Belle Saison and the list goes on and on.
Discover one of the most charming streets in Bordeaux
Rue Notre Dame in the Chartrons district is a posh street with plenty of coffee places, trendy boutiques, antique shops, and more. You can spend several hours admiring the beautiful architecture, shopping, and trying great pastries. It’s one of the most beautiful streets in Bordeaux with a lot of tiny balconies decorated with planters full of colorful flowers. The perfect street for Instagram addicts 🙂
Au Pétrin Moissagais on 72 Cours de la Martinique is the oldest bakery in Bordeaux, established in 1765. Serge, the baker and owner, is very proud of his Gascognian traditions and still makes the original Gascognian white bread in the 18th-century oven. And yes, it’s the same oven since the opening of the boulangerie (bakery), some 24 years before the French revolution! The bakery has a completely different look and feel compared to a standard French bakery, it really feels like you’ve gone back in time to the 18th century.
Eat oysters at the Sunday Market
Every Sunday morning dozens of food stalls with the best oysters of the region, fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, fish, wine, and plenty of food trucks are installed on the Quai des Chartrons. For many visitors, the main attraction is the few stalls with oysters which cost around 6 euros per plate and come with a glass of white wine. It kind of embodies the good life atmosphere in this region 🙂.
See a concert on the Iboat
The Iboat is a big three-level ferry anchored to one of the docks of Bassins a flot, the port of Bordeaux. Since its opening in 2011, this funky concert venue has been promoting emerging artists, especially in the electronic music scene. Over the years it has become a multidisciplinary place with a concert hall and a club hosting more than 250 events a year, a terrace hosting Dj sets and happy hours. During summer you could also enjoy the outdoor area on the deck, with an exceptional view of the basin. Take a look at the program of events.
There are a few cute cheese shops in Bordeaux where you can find all the famous French cheese. However, this can be a great opportunity to try out regional cheese from the southwest of France. When going to the shop ask about Ossau- Iraty from the Basque country, the goat cheese Rocamadour or the excellent Tomme de Bazas. My two favorite cheese shops in the city center are: Fromagerie Beillevaire (8 bis Rue Michel Montaigne) and Fromagerie Deruelle (66 Rue du Pas-Saint-Georges).
Can you really visit a French city without tasting at least one pastry? There are several amazing patisseries in the center of Bordeaux. Here are a few that I particularly love: David Capy next to Marché des Grands Hommes, Pâtisserie Valantin in the Nansouty district, Pâtisserie S. with a special French-Japanese vibe, and Mi-Cielo with a sweet creative collection.
Don’t miss the main Cathedral of Bordeaux
Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux is a Roman Catholic church and the seat of the Archbishop of Bordeaux. Located on the main square of Pey Berland, the cathedral is one of the most impressive monuments of Bordeaux and is labeled as a national monument of France. In the evening the Cathedral often hosts concerts of classical music, choirs, and an organ festival during the summer. You can check out more info about the concerts here.
Shopping of course!
Bordeaux is not Paris when it comes to shopping but it has quite a lot to offer to shopping lovers 🙂 All the main clothing retail stores are located on the main shopping street, rue Sainte Catherine. For the more fancy shops head to the Triangle d’Or district and you’ll find all you need around le Marché des Grands Hommes. However, if you’re interested in small independent boutiques here are a few recommended ones in the center of Bordeaux: Jane de Boy, Blue Madone, Boutique addict, and several other boutiques on rue Saint James and rue Notre dame.
A day trip to Saint Emilion
Saint Emilion has long gained a reputation as one of the greatest wine regions in the world. It’s no wonder it attracts more than a million tourists every year. For many decades this picturesque town has been an economic and religious center attracting royals, winegrowers and pilgrims. Every square in the small village center is packed with history and some incredible architecture. Thousands of hectares of vines surround the medieval village making the landscape an unforgettable scenery. Read about all the things to do there in my article about Saint Emilion. Also, check out my list of recommended wine chateaux to visit.
See a movie in Utopia
Utopia is an independent cinema theater installed in an ancient church, l’église du Vieux Bordeaux. It’s the cheapest cinema in Bordeaux and the one with the most diverse program, from little independent productions to big-budget movies and old classical ones. Utopia has also a big terrace café which is particularly fun on sunny days. See the program here.
Do a cocktails night
The Bordelais might love their wine but they sure do appreciate a good cocktail, and the number of great cocktail bars is a testament to that. Here are some of my favorite chic cocktail bars in the center of Bordeaux: Mama shelter (cocktails with an amazing view of Bordeaux), Madame pang, la Comtesse, Simone, and the Night Beach (the pricey rooftop bar of the Grand Hotel).
Take a boat ride on the Garonne
Bordeaux is situated on the Garonne river and seeing it from the water is a fun experience. There are several companies that offer boat tours on the Garonne, but you can actually sail on the Garonne for at least a few minutes for the price of a tram ticket. As part of its public transport system, the city of Bordeaux provides a ferry (navette fluviale), that has five stops: Stalingrad, Quinconces, Les Hangars, La Cité du Vin, and Lormont (take a look at the ferry time table here). You don’t have to do the whole line, you can use it to just cross the river to the other side.
Darwin is probably one of the most surprising places in Bordeaux. An old military base turned into an urban space with a workspace/incubator for startups, a skate park for all ages, a restaurant, and many other surprises, all with an agenda of ecological awareness. Also, Darwin is an extraordinary place for street art and includes some amazing works by a lot of talented artists on every one of its buildings. They host many cool events so don’t be surprised if suddenly you see an artisan market or a collection of old cars on display.
See a concert at La Guinguette chez Alriq – the best tavern in town
The Guinguette chez Alriq is a big tavern located on the right banks of the Garonne at the Bastide neighborhood (right in front of Darwin), hosting plenty of open-air concerts every summer. The performing bands and artists are coming from all over the world and create a laid-back party atmosphere. There’s usually a small price to pay for the concerts taking place on Wed-Sat and on Sundays the entry is free. You can see their program here. The place is very popular so expect to see a line at the entrance.
The Parc of Lormont, or by its official name: Parc de l’Ermitage Sainte-Catherine, is a beautiful hilly park located on the east bank of the Garonne river. If you climb on the upper side of the park you can enjoy a stunning view of the Aquitaine bridge covering the Garonne river. However, If you’re coming with strollers or generally with little kids, beware that it’s not a very easy climb to the top of the park. In that case, I would advise you to spend your time near the lake at the bottom of the park and then re-enter the park again through Haut Lormont (the higher part of Lormont) to visit the hilly part.
Go to the beach
You don’t need to go far to enjoy the beach in Bordeaux, we actually have a great lake beach which you can reach in 15 minutes by tram from the city center. Bordeaux Lac has a sandy clean beach and a lot of shade from the nearby trees for those who don’t really like the sun. The beach is open to the public daily from June 1st to August 31 and starting July 1st it offers water and beach activities such as sailing, kayaking, mini-golf, and more. Check out the list of daily activities here.
Strolling the city center you’ve probably noticed a lot of impressive monuments dating back to the 13th,14th, and 15th centuries such as the Grosse Cloche or the Saint Michel Basilica. But Bordeaux’s oldest monument is actually located outside of the old city walls.Palais Galien is the ruins of a Gallo Roman amphitheater dating back to the second century when Bordeaux was called Burdigala. The site is located a few minutes’ walk from Jardin public and you can see all of it from the street. There are guided tours to Palais Galien during the summer season. You can book them by calling +33 5 56 00 66 00.
Buy French alcohol
If you want to discover what other spirits France has to offer besides wine, you must go to Émile et Marguerite. This cute little shop on 13 Rue Parlement Saint-Pierre has a huge collection of French alcohol, from Cognac, Armagnac, local gin, craft beer, and many more. They are super nice and offer tastings to those interested to discover more about local liqueurs.
Visit the Natural history museum
After years of renovations, the natural history museum of Bordeaux has opened its doors on March 2019. Created in 1971, the museum has one of the biggest collections in France hosting more than a million specimens. Besides the new design and incredible collection, one of the new features in the renovated museum is the “Early Years Museum” for kids under 6 years old. The museum regularly hosts great temporary exhibitions which are usually very kids friendly. The entrance is free every first Sunday of the month.
The Bordeaux wine region has thousands of wine châteaux spread all over the Gironde department. Luckily there are several great wineries within Bordeaux metropole you can visit by tram or by bus, here are some of the recommended ones: Château Pape Clément in PessacTake line B to Pessac Centre and then continue 20 minutes by foot or take a direct bus from Place Tourny in Bordeaux (line 4). You can book the tour online – just click here. Château Haut brion in Pessac You can reach it by bus line 4 from Place Tourny in Bordeaux. For more info click here. Château du Taillan in Le Taillan-Médoc You can reach it by bus line 5N from Place Tourny in Bordeaux. For more info click here.
Librairie Mollat – one of the oldest book stores in France
Librairie Mollat,a Bordelais establishment since 1896 is the first independent book store in France and is one of the most iconic shops in Bordeaux. It is situated on rue Porte-Dijeaux where the latest house of Montesquieu was once located.
Visit one of the most beautiful parks in Bordeaux – Parc Majolan
Parc Majolan in Blanquefort is a great example of beautiful landscape design. Following the paths in the park feels like walking through a forest but then you suddenly discover the ruins of an old gate, beautiful flowers, and finally a stunning lake. The best part of the park is the artificial caves created in the 19th century. This park is so rich that it will take you hours to explore it all!
The gigantic sand dune is one of the wonders of the area, with its 60 million metric cubes of sand it’s quite astonishing the first time you see it. Dune du Pilat is Europe’s tallest sand dune, rising to an impressive 110 m high while also being 500 meters wide and 2.7 km long so you’ll have plenty of room to wander. You can climb the dune by stairs that are installed from the end of May to early November. If you come during the low season or just feel energetic, you can just climb straight up the sandy slopes. Once you reach the top, a stunning panoramic view will be revealed with the Cap Ferret peninsula on one side, a huge pine forest on the other, and the magnificent Banc d’Arguin nature reserve just in front.
Discover the oyster farming villages of Cap Ferret
Cap Ferret is a peninsula on the Western part of Bassin d’Arcachon and has been traditionally known as a summer getaway for the French upper class. Although it’s been recently gaining popularity among tourists visiting the south of France, it has yet to lose its relaxing beach village atmosphere. The peninsula is known for its many oyster farming ports that are located in small charming villages such as L’herbe and Le Canon. You can rent a car and go on a full relaxing day in this little paradise. Eat oysters directly from the farmers, go on a walk along the bay beaches, take a bike and discover the pine forest, and go surf on the beaches of the Atlantic coast. Read about many other places to visit on Arcachon bay in my article about a day trip to Bassin d’Arcachon.
A day trip to Pessac
To discover all the treasures of Bordeaux you need to go out of Bordeaux center. Some of the most interesting things in the metropole can be found in Pessac, one of Bordeaux’s biggest suburbs. You can take a bike (or use the tram) and go on a full day of history, nature, wine, and street art in this beautiful historic town. I wrote an extensive guide on all you can see there, read all about it here.
Visit the chateau of Montesquieu
There are several historic castles in Gironde but there is one I particularly love and it’s located only 25 km south of Bordeaux. Château de la Brède was built in a Gothic style during the 13th to 16th centuries and is today surrounded by water-filled moats and an English garden. The Château is famous for being the place of birth of Montesquieu, the great French political philosopher. The interiors of the castle are only accessible through guided tours which take you through the main room, the guest room, and his beautiful library where he wrote many of his works. See more details here.
See contemporary art in a beautiful building
CAPC is the contemporary art museum of Bordeaux located in the chic Chartrons district. The museum is housed in an impressive former warehouse from the 19th century where commodities, traded down the river, used to be stored. In 1984 the city decided to transform this unique space into a museum of contemporary art, an idea that was very innovative at the time. In the permanent collection, there are almost 300 works of art and it regularly hosts temporary exhibitions that are dedicated to the history of art. I’ll admit that I’m not always a fan of their exhibitions, having said that, I think the place in itself is very impressive and worth a visit.
Taste the delicious dunes blanches
Last yummy thing before I finish my list! While most outsiders think of the canelé as our regional pastry, there’s another modern contestant that has become very popular amongst locals. The delicious dunes blanches were created in 2008 by the pastry chef Pascal Lucas in his patisserie in Cap Ferret. The little choux pastry filled with whipped cream became an immediate success with several dedicated shops opening up in Arcachon, Bordeaux, and Paris. In the center of Bordeaux, you can find them at 7 Rue de la Vieille Tour, 33000 Bordeaux
Where to stay in Bordeaux
Before we end I want to help out those who are looking for accommodation in Bordeaux! If you’re looking for a hotel, I have an article with recommendations about the best hotels in Bordeaux for different budgets. If you’re looking for an Airbnb or just want to understand where you should stay in Bordeaux, you should definitely read my Bordeaux districts guide.
Need more ideas for things to do in and around Bordeaux? you should definitely join my newsletter where I share a lot of info about the area – sign up here.
You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:
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*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂
La Rochelle, a vibrant port city on the Atlantic coast, has an amazing culinary scene with many seafood restaurants in its old port as well as great classic ones in the old city. In fact, there are so many great restaurants and cool bars in La Rochelle that it was hard to do anything but eat and drink during my last visit there. In this list, I chose some of my favorite restaurants and bars in La Rochelle that are quite affordable for most people. If you are looking for something fancy, try the 3-star Michelin Restaurant Christopher Coutanceau, which I haven’t tried yet but which many people have recommended to me. Let’s go and discover the best places to eat and drink in La Rochelle on your next trip there!
I will soon publish my article about the best things to do in La Rochelle, meanwhile, you can join my travel in the southwest of France Facebook group where you can find plenty of tips about La Rochelle and its surroundings.
Where to eat the best seafood in La Rochelle?
La Gerbe de Blé – for market lovers
If you follow my blog you know that I love market restaurants and that’s why La Gerbe de Ble was one of my favorite places to eat in La Rochelle. The main market of La Rochelle is an absolute must when visiting the city and its seafood section was one of the highlights of my visit. The restaurant gives you the option to buy seafood at the market stalls and eat it at the restaurant, you just have to pay for bread and wine 🙂 This is one of the best ways to enjoy the market!
Address: Marché Central, Rue Thiers, 17000 La Rochelle
Le Panier de Crabe – A proper seafood restaurant in La Rochelle
If you want a proper seafood restaurant with big trays full of crabs, oysters, huge shrimps, and many other creatures from the bottom of the ocean this is the place for you. Le Panier de Crabe in the historic center of La Rochelle is one of the most popular restaurants among locals, especially in the summer so be sure to book in advance (phone for reservations 09 53 56 59 97).
Address: 9 Rue de la Fourche, 17000 La Rochelle
Le P’tit Bleu – a fun place at the port of La Rochelle
Le P’tit Bleu was one of my favorite seafood restaurants in La Rochelle because it has a food truck vibe (which I love) but in a boat. The blue boat is located on one of the docks of the old port of la Rochelle, close to la Tour de la Chaine with its tables spread on the quai next to the docking boats. The place has a delicious seafood menu where you can find amazing oysters, sardines, and mussels besides other delicacies.
Address: Cours des Dames, 17000 La Rochelle
Le Comptoir Saoufé – oysters in the evening
If you’re looking for a place for an apero with a plate of oysters this is your place in La Rochelle. Le Comptoir Saoufé, located on one of the narrow streets in the hyper center of La Rochelle, has a small menu of seafood and tapas and is a perfect place for a night out or a pre-dinner apero.
Address: 12 Rue du Port, 17000 La Rochelle
Other places to eat in La Rochelle
Chez Albert – light lunch or a coffee break
Chez Albert is a very chic cafe in the market neighborhood with plenty of comfy and inviting sofas to sip your coffee on. If you need a light lunch munching a salad/quiche or a coffee break this is definitely the place. Their coffee is great and they have a wonderful menu for a more healthy lunch.
Address: 3 Rue Gargoulleau, 17000 La Rochelle
Cafe de la Paix – The beautiful one
The classic Cafe de la Paix was created in 1793 under the name Cafe Militaire and changed to its current name in 1990. The beautiful cafe with its art deco design is classified as a historic monument in France and is worth a visit even just for a drink.
Address: 54 Rue Chaudrier, 17000 La Rochelle
Heading now to the chic Saint Nicolas district, to the very cool Prao restaurant. Prau is focused on very fresh cuisine and local producers and has a very fun and young design to complement the menu. It is also an art place with exhibitions changing every month.
Address: 10 Rue Saint-Nicolas, 17000 La Rochelle
Bars not to miss in La Rochelle
La Guignette, located in the Saint Nicola districts is a real La Rochelle institution. Every evening, groups of friends of all ages gather around barrel tables to drink the specialty of the place, the red drink called La Guignette Rouge. It is a locals’ favorite so be sure to be early to find a table.
Address: 8 Rue Saint-Nicolas, 17000 La Rochelle
Terrasse de la Chaîne
This cute bar, owned by the Prao group of restaurants is one of the best locations for a drink with a view. The bar is located in one of the famous La Rochelle towers, Tour de la Chaine, and its terrasse view covers both the ocean and the port of La Rochelle.
Bordeaux is a lively city throughout the year, with plenty of restaurants, pubs, and wine bars where you can grab a drink every day of the week (well Mondays are kind of tough, but you can still find a spot for an apero). In the summer, however, Bordeaux takes it up a notch and becomes one of the coolest summer places in France. Plenty of rooftops, terrace cafes, and open bars are surging all over the city making the city extra chic. Most of the summer bars in Bordeaux are open only during the summer (duh!) and some only for a short period during the season, so you have a limited time to enjoy them. Some are more posh and chic, other more simple and chill but they are all super fun to hang out in during the summer in Bordeaux. In this list, I included some of my favorite rooftops and terraces all over Bordeaux metropole so you won’t necessarily have to get to Bordeaux center to enjoy the Bordelaise summer vibes.
*IMPORTANT NOTE: due to Covid 19 restrictions, only six people/table are allowed and there’s a limited amount of people these bars can host, so be sure to reserve your table as soon as possible.
Here’s a list of the best places summer bars in Bordeaux for a perfect cocktails evening or an afternoon apero!
Summer bars in Bordeaux
Mama Shelter – the chic rooftop
Mama Shelter is probably the most popular summer rooftop bar in Bordeaux. It has a funky design and many original cocktails but I believe its location should also get a lot of credit for its popularity. It’s one of the only rooftops in the center of Bordeaux, located just next to the Cathedral Saint André, and it has one of the best views of the city. If you come during evening hours, booking in advance is recommended. For reservations click here.
Address: 19 Rue Poquelin Molière, 33000 Bordeaux
One of the most exciting places to open up this summer in Bordeaux is Gina, a rooftop bar, an Italian restaurant, and a coffee shop located in the new Renaissance hotel in the Bassin a flot district. One of the highlights of this stylish place is the swimming pool in the middle of the rooftop bar, which will open at the end of June. The place is open seven days a week and on weekends offers a brunch as well. The restaurant requires a prior reservation, you can book here. For more details check out their Facebook page. Address: Place des Millésimes, 33300 Bordeaux
La Guinguette chez Alriq – the best tavern in town
La guinguette chez Alriq is one of my favorite places in Bordeaux and its opening event is for me signaling the beginning of the Bordelais summer! The Guinguette is a big tavern located on the right banks of the Garonne at the Bastide neighborhood, hosting plenty of open-air concerts every summer. The performing bands and artists are coming from all over the world and create a laid-back party atmosphere. There’s usually a small price to pay for the concerts taking place on Wed-Sat and on Sundays the entry is free. You can see their program here. The place is very popular so expect to see a line at the entrance.
Address: ZA Quai des Queyries, Port Bastide, 33100 Bordeaux
Les Chantiers de la Garonne
Just next door to La guinguette chez Alriq you can find one of Bordeaux’s best-hidden gems. Les Chantiers de la Garonne is an old hangar turned into a sailing club and a restaurant with one of the best outdoor spaces in Bordeaux. The restaurant is located on the banks of the Garonne river and the outdoor space feels like a real beach with plenty of low tables on fine white sand and fresh seafood with cold bottles of white wine. You can find more info about the restaurant and other activities proposed by the Chantiers de la Garonne here.
Address: 21 Quai de Queyries, 33100 Bordeaux
Les Planches Éphémères
Les Planches Éphémères is the new cool kid on the block. A huge outdoor bar, located at the hippodrome of Bordeaux in La Bouscat. The place offers two bars, a dj set, and a huge chill-out area under the trees. The place is open every day until September 19. Check out their site for more info.
Address: 8 Avenue de l’Hippodrome, 33110 Le Bouscat
Plage de L’IBOAT
The Iboat is a three-level ferry spanning 687m2, anchored to one of the docks of Bassins a flot and mostly known as a concert venue. During the summer they also open their “beach”, a fun outdoor space on the banks of the Bassin a flot with a bar, comfy sofas, and varying outdoor events. La Plage de L’IBOAT is definitely one of the best summer bars in Bordeaux for an afternoon drink! You can see the list of concerts and events here. This year they are planning to open a second outdoor space (starting June 17th) that will be called Blonde Venus with cool features like a kids corner and a vintage shop, see more details here.
For more cool places to visit in the Bassin a flot area check out my article about the Bacalan district. Address: Bassin à Flot n°1, Cours Henri Brunet, 33300 Bordeaux.
Another comeback from last year is the popular tavern (they call themselves a beer garden 🙂 ) called Le Solztice. The outdoor bar is located close to Bordeaux’s main train station, in the Belcier district which has been gaining a lot of hype in the last two years. Solztice is an associative bar that offers plenty of cool features like food trucks, live concerts, pétanque and more. The place is about to open its doors on June 11, for more details click here. Address: 147 Rue des Terres de Borde, 33800 Bordeaux
If you didn’t have enough reasons to go to Bassin a flot, here’s another one. Effet Mer is a fun summer bar, located just next to the Base Sous-Marine. This cool place is open seven days a week and offers daily life concerts and dj sets. For more details click here.
Address: 280 Boulevard Alfred Daney, 33300 Bordeaux
Terrasse 14 – a pop-up bar
Terrasse 14, on the rooftop of Hangar 14, was last summer’s coolest place to be. Besides an amazing view on the Garonne river, this place had all the hipster 101 kit 🙂 A cool bar, a petanque court, great local beers, wines, and tapas, and a lot of chic bordelaise people. I was excited to read that the bar is going to reopen again this summer at the end of June, for more details follow their facebook page. The bar will close its doors at the beginning of September.
Address: Hangar 14, Quai des Chartrons, Bordeaux
This isn’t specifically a Bordeaux summer bar but it’s one of my favorite Terraces in Bordeaux all year long (when it’s not raining of course). For those who’re not familiar with the place, Utopia is an independent cinema theater, installed in an ancient church, l’église du Vieux Bordeaux. At the entrance to this beautiful building, you’ll find le Cafe Utopia, a nice bistro, and a good place to take your laptop for a few hours of work. However, the best part is the terrace which has plenty of tables on one of the liveliest squares in Bordeaux, Place Camille Jullian. If you’re looking for a nice, simple place for a drink in the center of the city, this one is recommended.
Address : 5 Place Camille Jullian, 33000 Bordeaux
Rooftops and Terraces in Bordeaux Metropole
Domaine de Raba
The beautiful chateau of Domaine de Raba is well hidden in a residential neighborhood in Talence. This place is a bit hard to describe as it has everything from a spa to a fancy restaurant, a bar, and different events like cinema nights and morning yoga. About two years ago, the Domain de Raba opened an outdoor bar called the Tiki Bar. The menu of the bar changes every week and it has many special evenings with Dj sets and concerts. Booking in advance is recommended, you can do it online here. This year the bar will reopen its doors on June 9.
Address: 35 Rue Rémi Belleau, 33400 Talence
Les Halles de Talence
The Talence market is the little brother of the Bacalan market, built by Biltoki in December 2018. Inside the market, you can find a very good cheese stand, tapas, Moroccan food, sushi, oysters, and more. The prices are a bit high except for the bar, which has a great variety of wines at a decent price. The best part, however, is the outdoor area! Plenty of tables are spread in the afternoon between the market and the other restaurants in the Forum and you can enjoy a really fun apero or dinner with a very local vibe. I live in Talence so this is actually my favorite place for a Friday apero!
If you want to avoid going to the city center the Canopée Café is a great option! The Canopée Café in Merignac has both an indoor restaurant (open for lunch and dinner) and a very chic rooftop with a huge selection of cocktails and a petanque court, called the Bodega. This rooftop is located in the industrial zone in Merignac and thus lacks the beautiful view of Bordeaux’s rooftop bars but the place itself is super chic and there’s plenty of parking :). All the details are here.
Address: Face Mérignac Soleil, 1 Chemin de Pouchon, 33700 Mérignac
La Laiterie – a new garden bar
Another summer bar in Talence! It’s starting to look like a “Bars in Talence list” but it’s just because I live here :). La Laiterie in Talence is a beautiful outdoor bar hidden in a wild green garden. Once/Twice a week they also have concerts, for those you must book your place in advance – all the details (as well as their opening hours) are here.
Address: Impasse Vieille Tour, 33400 Talence
You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:
I absolutely love street art and any city that makes the effort to complement its historic landscape with a modern expression of art is buying a fast ticket to my “go-to” list. That’s why Angoulême, which is located in the Charente department, about 1.5 hours drive from Bordeaux (or 35 minutes by train) has been on my mind for quite a while now. Angoulême is widely known as the comics and street art capital of France and is globally renowned for its Internation Comics festival hosting more than 200,000 people every year. Although I knew that I’m expected to see some beautiful murals in Angoulême, the creativity of this city took me by surprise the minute I entered the historic part of the city. Angoulême’s admiration for comics was expressed in every detail, from colorful post boxes to painted recycling bins and statues of famous comics characters. Visiting Angoulême is a little bit like playing treasure hunt for art lovers, there’s something to find on every street corner.
Now, don’t get me wrong here, this is by far not the only reason to visit Angoulême. It’s a beautiful historic city, surrounded by ancient ramparts, abundant with elegant monuments, and generally a vivid place with an impressive number of bars and restaurants. My article about all the things you can do in Angouleme is in the making but in this article, I want to focus on what attracted me to this city, which is its street art. My goal is to make you experience this city as if we were in an open museum of comics and street art. Having said that, if you really love comics don’t miss la Cité Internationale de la Bande Dessinée et de l’Image, the comics museums of Angoulême.
There are 25 huge murals painted on different buildings spread around Angoulême. If you can, pass by the tourist office (located in the Hotel de Ville), and grab a map indicating all of these murals. However, you should know that some of them are located quite far from the city center and require a long walk to get there. So if you are limited in time or just want to save your energy for the more interesting parts of the city, I made a map of my favorite murals and other street art that I really loved when strolling the city. In most of the locations on the map, I added the name of the work and the artist’s name and in some, I also added a photo and a link for more info about this work (in French).
I should mention also that there’s an app that can help you navigate around the murals in the city. I didn’t try it myself, but if you want to give it a try, these are the links, Google Play, App Store.
My three favorite murals in Angoulême
I should start by saying that all the murals in Angouleme are stunning but there are several that I particularly loved and I think you should see.
La Fille des Remparts – Max Cabannes
This one is probably the most famous mural in Angouleme and one of the best spots for taking photos and selfies in the city 🙂 In this Mural, Max Cabann imitates the atmosphere of the old city with its ramparts and old buildings. It almost feels like a continuation of the street your standing on. You can find it just next to the market on 6 Boulevard Pasteur.
Chassez le Naturel – François Boucq
This beautiful mural is located in a residential neighborhood slightly outside of the city center, but it’s so stunning it’s worth the walk. François Boucq is a French comics artist known for its books about Jérôme Moucherot, an insurance salesman, who is dressed in a leopard suit. The mural can be found at: Rue du Dr Duroselle above the parking entrance.
L’Archiviste – François Schuiten
L’Archiviste by François Schuiten is one of the most special artworks on the streets of Angoulême – one million holes on a stainless steel plate over a huge building facade. The building is located on 24 Avenue Gambetta.
The Comics Festival
If you can choose when to visit Angouleme, the best time would be in January when the city hosts its famous Comics Festival. The Angoulême International Comics Festival is the third biggest comics festival in the world, hosting more than 200,000 visitors every year.
Discover more art when strolling Angoulême
The murals of Angoulême display the works of the most famous comics artists in France. However, street art and comics are such an important part of the modern identity of this city that the murals are only a fraction of the art you can find in Angoulême. I spent hours just walking and absorbing the colors, the cute characters painted on the shatters, and unusual statues in the garden below the ramparts. Here are some of my favorite discoveries from this beautiful city. I count on you to find many more when you visit fascinating Angoulême 🙂
You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:
In the last few weeks I’ve been writing a lot about places in Gironde, rather than Bordeaux itself and that’s because I really want to encourage you to discover the amazing area we live in. Gironde is the biggest department in France and one of the most varied ones in terms of what you can see and do. In my previous articles I’ve written about the beautiful beaches surrounding Bordeaux, the best parks around Bordeaux and on some great hiking trails in Gironde. Now that you know all about the magnificent nature we’re surrounded by, it’s time to explore some of the most charming villages in France! So today, I am taking a short break from nature to invite you on a journey to discover Gironde’s beautiful architecture and heritage. In this article I gathered some of the most beautiful villages in Gironde. If you follow my articles, you know that I really like variety and that’s why I included towns and villages from all over the department. Beach towns on the Atlantic coast, beautiful villages in the middle of Bordeaux’s wine routes and plenty of medieval towns in the South of Gironde.
If you take my advice and visit these beautiful villages, I’d love it if you could use the hashtag #lostinbordeaux so I can share your photos on my stories on my Instagram page Lost_in_bordeaux. Also, come and share your experiences and get plenty of new ideas for day trips in Nouvelle Aquitaine in my Facebook group – Travel in the southwest of France.
*Before we start I have an important announcement! I am upgrading my newsletter and from now on I will send a weekly email with suggestions of things to do every weekend. The email will be sent on Friday! So if you want to recieve cool plans for the weekend (especially during this period without obvious events taking place in Bordeaux) be sure to subscribe to my newsletter here!
Now let’s hit the road and discover the most beautiful villages in Gironde.
Entre deux mers and South Gironde
I decided to start my list with the Entre deux mers region and the South of Gironde as they’re usually my go to places when I’m in a mood for beautiful medieval towns. This is one of the most beautiful parts in the southwest of France, embodying the historic and cultural richness of this region. Most of the villages on my list are located close to one another so you can visit them all in one weekend. Public transport is not extremely developed in this part of Gironde so it’s better to travel by car or bike if you like cycling a lot. I did, however, add public transport routes to these places just for completeness.
First on my list is Saint Macaire, a little medieval town located on the banks of the Garonne river, about 50km from Bordeaux. Saint Macaire is a very attractive destination for those interested in history and beautiful architecture. What today seems like a sleepy town in the Entre deux mers wine appellation was once an important city under British rule and was declared the “ville royale d’Angleterre” (An English royal city) in 1341. During the 13th and 14th centuries it was one of the most prosperous cities in Aquitaine due to its significant agricultural and trade activities.
Visiting Saint Macaire can be a great half-day trip if you take the time to discover its rich heritage, the narrow streets, and beautiful old houses and monuments. Place Mercadiou, surrounded by beautiful medieval houses is the main square of the village, where the market takes place every Thursday morning. Another monument not to miss is Porte de la Benauge, the main gate to the old city whose historic center is surrounded by ramparts. Probably the most important monument of Saint Macaire is its Eglise de Saint Sauveur et Saint-Martin. The big church, built in the 12th and 15th centuries has impressive murals that are really worth seeing. Every year at the end of August, Saint Macaire hosts one of the best medieval festivals in the region.
How to get there: It’s a bit complicated to get to Saint Macaire without a car as there’s no regular direct public transportation going there from Bordeaux (there’s one train a day to Saint Macaire). However, you can take a train to Langon and then cross the Garonne to the other side and bike or even go for a nice hike along the river until you reach Saint Macaire.
Cadillac is a little town located on the right bank of the Garonne river at the Entre Deux Mers wine region. It’s quite a popular destination attracting many tourists, especially during summer. Cadillac is hard to miss when driving the D10 route to the south of Gironde. You will be greeted by a big defensive wall and the main gate into the old medieval center built in the 13th century. However, it’s undeniably most famous monument is the Château des Ducs d’Épernon, built by the Duke of Épernon in the 17th century. The chateau is very impressive and is best known for being a women’s prison starting from the French revolution and up until 1950. It now serves as a museum that mostly displays the life of the royals who were occupying the estate before it became a prison. However, on the last floor, you can actually still see the cells and a small exhibition about the prison.
The town is also known for its wine, the Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux appellation. You can visit the maison des vins of Cadillac in order to learn about the wine of this region and taste it of course 🙂
How to get there: You can get there by bus number 501 from the Bastide neighborhood in Bordeaux, see the schedule here.
About 5km from Cadillac you will find Rions, a small medieval town located on the banks of the Garonne river. Like other towns in this region, Rions is also characterized by cute narrow streets and medieval houses. During medieval times it was an important town which was greatly affected by the Hundred years war between France and England. In 1295, Rions, which was at the time under British rule, was conquered by the French Charles of Valois who took down its defensive walls. In 1313, England was able to take the city back and surround it with ramparts, making it one of the Fortified English cities of British ruled southwest of France (Guyenne). It went back into French hands right before the end of the long war and, despite all the turmoil, was left with its impressive architecture and charm, perfect for a few hours trip. If you want to make the best of your day trip to the region, you can go on a 5km hike and see the beautiful surroundings of this medieval town. Read more about the hiking trail from Rions, in my article about hiking around Bordeaux.
How to get there: You can take bus number 501 from the Bastide neighborhood in Bordeaux, see the schedule here.
Castelmoron d’Albret is the smallest village in France and in my opinion one of the most charming ones in the southwest of France. This tiny medieval village is brimming with charm! Almost every house here is covered with colorful roses and other beautiful flowers spilling from eclectic pottery that is made here in the village. No house here looks the same, every window and door has its own particularity. There are almost no signs of modern life here, no cars, no sidewalks, just a beautiful village frozen in time. There are only about 50 people living here and only three businesses operating in the 3.5 hectares village so the atmosphere is incredibly relaxing. I think my kids were the loudest thing this village has experienced in a while.
It will take you about an hour of a scenic drive over the hills and along the vineyards of Entre Deux Mers to reach the little town from Bordeaux. If you want to combine the visit with any other activity, I recommend visiting the impressive bastide town of Sauveterre-de-Guyenne, which is located just a few minutes drive from Castelmoron d’Albret. There are also several hiking and cycling routes you can do in this part of Entre deux Mers. In this link you can find two great hiking trails that start from the village itself.
How to get there: Getting there by bus is fairly complicated and I would advise going only by car. The closest train station tho this village in La Reole but the bus from there to Castelmoron d’Albret is not very regular.
La Réole is a small hilly town situated on the banks of the Garonne river about 50 km from Bordeaux. Although the town developed around a monastery founded in the 7th or 8th century, it’s golden era was in medieval times when it became the second largest city in the region after Bordeaux. Still today, it’s one of the biggest towns in the south of the Gironde department with plenty of interesting events and a very lively weekly market on Saturdays. There are quite a few impressive houses and monuments to see in this little town, among them is the historic 12th century Town Hall, the Saint Pierre church and the Benedictine abbey, the old remparts of the city and more. Get lost in the narrow charming streets of the historic center of La Réole and let the beautiful architecture take you back in time. If you happen to arrive in La Reole when the tourist office is open, be sure to take a map of all the monuments in the city.
How to get there: This is a great destination for those who don’t own a car. You can get to La Réole in 40 minutes by train from Bordeaux. The train leaves from Gare Saint Jean every two hours.
Bazas is one of my favorite towns in the south of Gironde not only because it’s a beautiful place but also due to its rich heritage embodying the Gascony culture. It’s located at the eastern edge of the Gascon Landes forest, about 65 km from Bordeaux. A stroll in the historic center will allow you to discover the impressive architecture of the city and its past role as an important bishopric. At the main square of the town you will find its famous gothic Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste which appears on the UNESCO world heritage list. When strolling the historic center don’t miss the charming old houses on the smaller streets as well as the gardens.
Architecture is not the only attraction of Bazas which is actually quite famous for its gastronomy, especially its meat. You can enjoy the Bazadaise meat in one of the restaurants located on the main square. True meat lovers could also buy meat in one of the many butcher shops in the center. If you’re looking for a full gastronomic experience to discover the cuisine of the region, there’s one tour you shouldn’t miss. Anne, an American living in Bazas is an expert on everything related to food in the region. She knows all the farmers and chefs around Bazas and her guided farm to table tours are an unforgettable experience. Check out her website.
How to get there This is the most complicated place on my list to get to by public transport and I wouldn’t recommend doing it. If you still want to go there by public transport you can take a train from Bordeaux to Langon and then bus number 512 to Bazas.
Before we continue to our next region I just wanted to remind you that I also share plenty of day trips ideas on my Facebook/Instagram pages, so if you’re not there yet, what are you waiting for? Like/follow me on social media and you will never be bored on a weekend again 🙂
The right bank – Saint Emilion and Pays Blayais
You can’t really do a list about villages around Bordeaux without including Saint Emilion in it, can you? This medieval village is known all around the world for its splendid wine but it’s also undoubtedly one of the most beautiful villages around Bordeaux.
Important historical monuments can be found in abundance in this medieval town, some of which date back as far as the 11th and 12th centuries. One of the famous monuments is the 11th-century Monolithic church, carved from a limestone cliff, it’s the largest underground church in Europe. Its picturesque center, densely filled with wine shops and fancy restaurants, turns this little town into a prominent attraction for tourists in the area. If you’re visiting Saint Emilion in the high season of July-August beware that you need to book everything in advance, it gets very busy!
Blaye is one of the most interesting places in the Bordeaux area, located only about 50 km north to Bordeaux center. This little town has a long military and strategic history and is mostly known for its remarkable Citadel. The Citadel and city walls are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you can easily spend half a day discovering them. The entrance to the Citadel is free and you can explore the streets and ramparts admiring the view of the Gironde estuary which can be seen from the top.
Blaye is also well known for its red wine which honestly is really excellent and very reasonably priced. You can visit the Maison du Vin on the main street (12 Cours Vauban), where they would gladly introduce you to the wines of the region and the chateaux you can visit around Blaye.
How to get there? The easiest way to get there is by car or by ferry if you’re coming from the other side of the Gironde estuary. The ferry is leaving from Lamarque, you can see all the details about the tariffs and hours in this link. Beware that masks are currently required onboard the ferry. There are also several bus lines going to Blaye – check all the info here.
Bourg (Previously called Bourg sur Gironde) is a picturesque village at the heart of the wine appellation of Côtes de Bourg located at the confluence of the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers. Bourg has played a key role in the region’s history, it was built in Roman times, fortified by the English and visited by several kings, such as Louis XIV in 1650. Just like its neighboring town of Blaye, Bourg too has a very impressive citadel called Château de la Citadelle. While it’s not one of the main tourist destinations in the Medoc area, those who do get to visit this beautiful place, quickly fall in love with it. Apart from the citadel, the historic part of the city also has a cute central square with restaurants and shops, the market takes place every Sunday.
Bourg is however quite known for its great Côtes de Bourg wine! Don’t miss a visit to the Maison des Vins des Côtes de Bourg, a 19th century former residence with a warm atmosphere that acts as a venue for exhibitions, talks, receptions, tasting classes, meetings with winegrowers and more. You can also see the map of all the wineries here, it’s better to call them prior to your visit.
How to get there: Two bus lines of TransGironde (201, 202) from Lormont pass through Bourg. However, unless you live or stay on rive droite of the Garonne it will take you some time to get to Lormont from the center of Bordeaux. So here too, going by car is recommended.
Arcachon and Medoc
L’herbe is a traditional oyster farming village located on the Cap Ferret Peninsula. Here you won’t find the characteristics of a typical French village, no central square with a bakery, no old houses or medieval gates. Nonetheless, it’s one of the most beautiful villages in the southwest of France, in my opinion at least.
There’s something raw and authentic about L’herbe. You get to walk between the colorful cabins of oyster farmers and see them in action on their special workboats. If you like oysters, you’re going to love this place. Plenty of oyster restaurants are spread along the beach serving only the freshest oysters, pork paté and white wine. This is a perfect destination for a sunny half-day trip from Bordeaux, or a full day trip if you add a visit to the beach as well.
How to get from Bordeaux to L’herbe: by car is the best way to get here as the bus is not a direct one and it takes almost two hours to get to L’herbe from Bordeaux. But if you have no choice take bus 601 (Trans Gironde) from Bordeaux center.
Cap Ferret is a little town located on the Western part of Bassin d’Arcachon and has been traditionally known as a summer getaway for the French upper class. Although it’s been recently gaining popularity among tourists visiting the south of France, it has yet to lose its relaxing beach village atmosphere, especially if compared to Arcachon city.
Cap Ferret is shaped like a narrow tongue with a long string of beautiful sandy beaches on the Atlantic ocean and a view of the eastern side of the Bassin. Apart from its dreamy beaches it’s also known for its ostréiculture industry, which produces some of the best oysters in France. Dozens of oyster cabins and restaurants with a view on the Bassin give Cap-Ferret a unique character that’s worth a visit. If you want to really profit from the day, rent a bike and cycle along the beaches and through the pine forest that covers a large part of the Cap Ferret peninsula. There are plenty of bike rentals in Cap Ferret, one of them is Bike rental Cap Gyro (7 Boulevard de la Plage, 33970 Lège-Cap-Ferret).
How to get there: Bus 601 will bring you to Cap Ferret but it’ll take you at least two hours to get there, so a car is definitely a better option here. You can also take a ferry from Arcachon or le Moulleau beach, you can see the schedule here.
Soulac Sur Mer
This charming little town is one of the highlights of the Medoc region. It’s located on the very top of the Medoc Atlantique, about 90 km from Bordeaux. If you ever had the chance to visit the town of Arcachon, you will find Soulac sur Mer a bit familiar, and many actually call it “little Arcachon”. Its city center resembles Ville d’été while the northern part of the town with its charming 18th-century villas is similar in style to the impressive villas of Ville d’Hiver in Arcachon. Soulac has some of the most beautiful beaches on the Atlantic coast, attracting many French tourists to the area. There are plenty of cute little restaurants both in the center and on the promenade. Seafood is a very important part of the local cuisine and so many restaurants will serve oysters and large shrimps.
Every year Soulac hosts one of my favorite events in Gironde, called Soulac 1900. A celebration of music, dance, ancient cars and costumes from the beginning of the 20th century.
We came to the end of my list of the most beautiful villages in the Southwest of France, Gironde (at least until I find another treasure that has a place on this exclusive list :)). There are of course more charming villages around Bordeaux such as le Canon in the Cap Ferret Peninsula or Monsegur in Entre deux mers, but I narrowed down the list to the ones I find most special.
If you missed my announcement from the beginning of the post I will repeat it again because I think it’s so cool 🙂 I am upgrading my newsletter and from now on I will send a weekly email with suggestions of things to do every weekend. The email will be sent on Friday mornings! So if you want to recieve cool plans for the weekend (especially during this period without obvious events taking place in Bordeaux) be sure to subscribe to my newsletter here!
The amazing response to my Hiking in Bordeaux article last week, made me realize that now, more than ever, people are looking to replace their city center outings with parks, beaches, and forests. So maybe not everyone is up for a 9km hike but I’m sure most of my readers would love to discover new places where they can admire exotic flowers, observe ducks swimming peacefully in a cute pond and enjoy an outdoor picnic. I know we all miss going to restaurants but opening a bottle of good Bordeaux wine accompanied by cheese, charcuterie and a beautiful view doesn’t feel so bad to me! So this week I decided to write an article about the most beautiful parks in Bordeaux, or better yet “my favorite parks in Bordeaux” 🙂
If you leave the city center and travel to the other towns of Bordeaux Metropole, you will discover that there’s a huge amount of parks and green spaces in the Bordeaux region. Some of them have lakes, playgrounds, picnic areas, others have a more foresty vibe to them and some even have beautiful art installations. In some parts of this article, I mention things like playgrounds, animal parks, coffee places, and picnics, which were a normal thing before the pandemic. I hope that things can get back to normal as soon as possible but for now, please know that some of these places are still closed and that no gathering of more than 10 people is allowed. So be safe and prudent when visiting public spaces.
If you’re keen on staying close to the center you can check out my older article about the best places for picnics in Bordeaux. Also, I just want to remind you that on my Instagram I post plenty of photos and stories from the places I visit in Gironde so follow me to get much more info about the hidden gems of our region.
For those living in Bordeaux, my choice to start with Jardin Public would seem too obvious, but one cannot make a list of parks in Bordeaux without mentioning this beautiful green island harmoniously placed among the historic buildings of Bordeaux. Jardin Public, created in the 18th century is the biggest park in Bordeaux center spreading over 11 hectares! This place is the epitome of city parks, it has a beautiful pond with ducks and swans, a wide green area for picnics, a lot of space for runners and two fun playgrounds for kids. It’s also home to Bordeaux’s natural history museums which is a great spot for families. You can clearly see why it’s one of the most visited places in Bordeaux by locals and tourists alike. In the summer, the park hosts a daily traditional puppets show, which makes it even more attractive for families. For more activities for kids check out my article about the best things to do in Bordeaux with kids.
Parc Bordelais in Cauderan
Parc Bordelais in the Cauderan neighborhood is the biggest park in Bordeaux city. It’s a beautiful 28-hectare green space that attracts both friends and families for picnics around the lake, as well as runners and bikers. It also has a chic cafe, for those of you in need of a cold glass of rosé 🙂 I would dare to say that it’s the most kids-friendly park in Bordeaux. Besides two large playgrounds (for younger and older kids), there is a puppet theater, a little animal park and a kids train that takes you on a tour of the park. While it’s not in the hyper center like Jardin Public, it’s really worth the travel.
There’s no tram directly to the park but you can easily reach it by bus (number 2 or 3) from the center of Bordeaux. You can also take tram D and walk about 15 minutes to the park. It will take you about half an hour to get there walking from the center of Bordeaux.
Parc Majolan in Blanquefort
If I had to make a list of my top three parks in Bordeaux this one would definitely be on it! Parc Majolan in Blanquefort is a great example of a beautiful landscape design. When you follow the paths in the park you feel like you walk through a forest but then suddenly discover ruins of an old gate, beautiful flowers, and finally a stunning lake. The best part of it all is the artificial caves created in the 19th century. This park is so rich that it will take you hours to explore all of it!
How to get there: The entrance to the park is from Avenue du Général de Gaulle 33290 BLANQUEFORT. If you’re coming by bus, take bus number 29 and get off at Parc de Majolan station.
Parc Bouran in Merignac
Parc Bouran is the main park of Merignac and is easily accessible by tram A from the city center. While it’s a proper park with a lake, a beautiful chateau and playgrounds, some parts of it feel rawer and woody, which I find very nice. The park has been built around the Deveze, a stream that runs into the Garone river next to the Saint Pierre neighborhood (the original location of the old port of Bordeaux). In the city center, the stream now goes underground but here in the park, it’s in the open-air, giving it yet another special feature. This park is perfect for families and seems to be very popular with joggers as well 🙂
I feel like this amazing park doesn’t get enough credit. The 20 hectares flower park of Bordeaux side by side with the Bois de Bordeaux (the forest of Bordeaux) in the Barails natural reserve, which I have written about in my Hiking in Bordeaux article. This is one of the most beautiful places in Bordeaux for walking, running, bicycle riding or a picnic.
The colorful Parc floral has a beautiful rose garden with more than 500 varieties of roses. And that’s not all, among the park’s greenery you can find magnolias, many irises, every possible type of rhododendrons and many types of vines (mind you they are there to feed the birds). Throughout the park you will see plenty of statues and structures that look like they have been taken from other parts of the world. These were donated to Bordeaux from different places like Japan, Spain, and Morocco (don’t miss the stunning Moorish mosaics.) Spring is the best time to visit the park. Everything is still blossoming and after two months of confinement, it’s a good reminder that the world is still beautiful and alive 🙂
Parc Floral is located in the Bordeaux Lac neighborhood and to get there straight without passing the forest first you will need to enter through entree roseraie (next to the Golf de Bordeaux Lac). Before heading there check out the information about the different entrances and parking spots on the official site of Bordeaux.
Le Bois du Bouscat
Le Bois du Bouscat is a 5 hectares park stretched along the big Hippodrome in the Le Bouscat neighborhood. It’s a relatively new park, opened only in 2013 and labeled “entre nature et culture” it strives to connect nature, art, and culture. While it’s not a huge park, its cultural aspect is particularly attractive and it can take you a few hours to see everything if you really pay attention to all the details. Plenty of sculptures are spread throughout the park, unusual benches, each designed by a different wood sculpturer, beautiful metallic animals representing the animals of the forest, and other art installations all related to nature. If you’re in for a culture hike, this is your place.
Parc Peixotto in the center of Talence is not one of the big parks in Bordeaux metropole, but one of my favorites for sure. Well, I’m not objective here, I live just next door to it and it has been my savior every time my kids go bananas at home. What can you find here? A pond with plenty of geese and ducks, a beautiful chateau, and tons of hidden spots for romantic picnics 🙂 In the summer there are usually some nice events taking place in the park as well.
It’s easily accessible by tram B from the city center – the Forum and Parc Peixotto stations are both very close to the park.
Ecosite du Bourgailh in Pessac
The Ecosite of Bourgailh is not just a park, it’s a universe of plants put together in great landscape design. The area of the Foret du Bourgailh includes a 2.6 km walking trail, the largest tropical greenhouse in the region, sports facilities, a skate park, an amphitheater, a zoo and one of the most beautiful playgrounds you have ever seen, which for me is the highlight of this park. There are plenty of nice ecological and educational events taking place there throughout the year, such as mushroom hunting, a pumpkin festival, planting workshops and more.
Parc du Moulineau happens to be one of the biggest parks in the green suburb of Gradignan and it’s a real gem for kids. Not only can they enjoy a big playground but it’s also home to the Maison de la Nature that inhabits nearly 50 different animal species from rabbits to the black and white goat of the Pyrénées. The animal park is still closed so I recommend waiting until it opens up before going there. You can see all the details about the opening hours of the animal park here.
Parc Sourreil in Villenave d’ornon
This little park is well hidden behind its chateau and is easy to miss when passing by its main entrance in Villenave d’Ornon. However, if you go beyond the chateau you’ll find a cute forest-y park with a nice area for kids and some walking paths around the woods. I wouldn’t necessarily make a long trip to see this park but if you’re not far from here, it’s worth a visit!
Parks on Rive droite
Parc de L’ermitage in Lormont
The Parc of Lormont, or by its official name Parc de l’Ermitage Sainte-Catherine, is one of the favorite parks of rive droite inhabitants, or those who love traveling around the metropole. This beautiful hilly park is located on the east bank of the Garonne river and is part of the enormous 400 hectares green space called Parc des Coteaux, which goes through several other towns on rive droite.
If you climb on the upper side of the park you can enjoy a stunning view of the Aquitaine bridge covering the Garonne river. However, If you’re coming with strollers or generally with little kids, beware that it’s not a very easy climb to the top of the park. In that case, I would advise you to spend your time near the lake at the bottom of the park and then reenter the park again through Haut Lormont (the higher part of Lormont) to visit the hilly part.
I previously mentioned this park in my article about things to do with kids in Bordeaux. Just next to the park you will find the ferme d’Iris, an animal farm for kids with rabbits, donkeys, goats, and more. For more info about the farm click here.
Parc aux Angéliques in Bastide
Parc aux Angéliques on Quai des Queyries isn’t a park per se, but rather a vast green area close to the city center, perfect for hiking, biking, or a picnic with friends. I felt that I should include it in the list for those looking for a nice picnic spot in the more tranquil part of Bordeaux. The park is spread along the Garonne river from its east side which provides a beautiful view of the buildings and monuments on the opposite side of the river such as the beautiful Place de la Bourse. There’s a very familial and tranquil vibe to it even during the more touristy months of the year. You will see groups of friends picnicking, families playing badminton, and a lot of bikers and runners (well, these are apparently everywhere in Bordeaux). If you’ve made it all the way there you can enjoy places like Darwin and Jardin Botanic, both located just in front of the park. You can read more about these two places in my ultimate guide to a weekend in Bordeaux. If you’re coming with kids, don’t panic if you don’t find a playground in the park. There’s actually a large playground just next to Jardin Botanique at Place des Droits de L’Enfant.
You can get there by tram A (Stalingrad station), by boat from the other side of the river, or with many buses that go through the Bastide neighborhood, You can use the site of the public transport in Bordeaux to find the best route. My favorite way to get there is on a city bike, you can read more about that in my article about cycling in Bordeaux.
In this list, I included only the parks that I had a chance to visit, which is quite a lot but if you think that I should include other parks feel free to write it in the comments below.
If you want to get more information about traveling in Bordeaux and the Southwest of France you should join my Travel in the Southwest of France Facebook group or simply join my Facebook/Instagram pages where I share almost all my travel and experiences in the region on a daily basis. If you want to get exclusive tips on traveling in the region, subscribe to my newsletter here.
Bordeaux isn’t one of France’s cheapest cities but there are quite a lot of things you can enjoy here for free (or at a very low price). In this article, I gathered plenty of ideas for you to enjoy the city and the area around Bordeaux without spending a dime. Following my list, you will learn how to dance, discover amazing art, visit beautiful beaches and do most of it completely free. If you’re coming with kids, this post will give you some nice ideas for entertaining them without breaking the bank. Many of the offered attractions in this article are available during the summer season but some things you can do during winter as well. So let’s start with the list of free things to do in Bordeaux!
Free things you can do all year long in Bordeaux
Stroll the historic city
You don’t need much to enjoy this amazing city. The exceptional architecture is present on almost every street. The old gates to the city, the romantic streets leading to lively squares, the wide beautiful promenade on the river banks will all leave a great impression on you. After Paris, Bordeaux has the highest number of preserved historical buildings in France. No wonder that its historic part was declared as an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble by UNESCO. If it’s your first time in Bordeaux you can read about the most important monuments in my guide to a weekend in Bordeaux.
Darwin – hipster paradise
If you want to take the off-beaten track go to where the locals love to hang out. Darwin is an old military base on the right bank of the river converted into an urban space with a very cool vibe to it. It has a very chic restaurant and several shops but you don’t really need to spend money to enjoy it. You can stroll around the hangars, check out the charity shop, see plenty of street art and just embrace the hipster vibes :). Darwin and the associations it hosts are very active and offer plenty of free events. I tend to write quite a lot about it, so check out my weekend posts. You can also have a picnic at the Parc aux Angéliques located just in front of Darwin.
Address: 87 Quai des Queyries, 33100 Bordeaux
Free museums Sunday
Like in most cities in France, the first Sunday of the month is a free museums day. You have a free entrance to all the public museums and to most exhibitions. Check out the full list of museums in Bordeaux that you can visit for free this Sunday.
Free galleries in Bordeaux
Discover the local art in the many galleries spread in the city, many of them you can visit without a reservation. Here are some of the best galleries in Bordeaux: Galerie D.X., Bouillon d’art, A deux pas d’ici (photography), Cox gallery (street art). For contemporary art, head to FRAC which is located at the new MECA, an interesting architectural attraction by itself.
One of the best ways to discover the city is by bike and you don’t even have to pay much to do that in Bordeaux. There are city bikes (V³) stations spread all over the city and they cost only 1.7 euros for 24 hours. You have to return it to the station every 30 minutes and you can immediately take another one to continue your journey. You can also pay 2 euros per hour and return it later if you want to make a longer ride to areas without city bikes stations. See the location of the stations here.
See Bordeaux’s most ancient monument
Strolling the city center you’ve probably noticed a lot of impressive monuments dating back to the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries such and the Grosse Cloche or the Saint Michel Basilica. But Bordeaux’s oldest monument is actually located outside of the old city walls.Palais Galien is the ruins of a Gallo Roman amphitheater dating back to the second century when Bordeaux was called Burdigala. The site is located a few minutes walk from Jardin public and you can see all of it from the street. There are guided tours to Palais Galien during the summer season. You can book them calling this number +33 5 56 00 66 00.
Bordeaux Metropole is rich with many basilicas and churches, decorating almost every big square in the city. Its history is blended with religion and the churches are a testament to the development of the city. One of the best things about them is that they are always free and open every day. Bordeaux is an old city so you get to explore religious temples from various periods in time, carrying very different styles. Some examples are the amazing Saint Andres on Place Pey Berland that is built in a Gothic Style or the church of Notre Dame with its Baroque style. Other impressive and interesting churches and Basilicas include Saint Croix, Saint Michel and Saint Bruno.
There are free events taking place every weekend, from concerts on the street to huge brocantes, street art events, dance lessons and more. All you need to do is follow my weekend list to be updated on what’s happening in the city at the moment.
Drink at the Capucins Market
One of the main attractions in Bordeaux is Marché des Capucins, Bordeaux’s main market. Eating at the market definitely isn’t free (although very affordable) but you don’t have to eat there to feel the vibe. You can just sip a glass of cold white wine at Chez Jean Me (only 2 euros a glass) and absorb the sounds and smells of the market. If you need more recommendations check out my post about the best restaurants at the Capucins market.
Discover the street art
Like many other cities, Bordeaux too has the street art fever, with numerous talented local artists. One of the best things about street art is that it’s usually free, you just need to put some effort to find it. Darwin is one of the places that have the largest concentration of street art by local artists in Bordeaux. Other spots in the city include the Bassin a Flot district, rue du Loup with a beautiful work by Nasty, rue Bourrard, quai des platitudes, the Mur in Chartrons, rue Bergeret. One of the most beautiful works, in my opinion, is located just next to Pessac’s train station. The street art scene is always evolving so again you’ll have to get back here for updates 😉
Brocante in Saint Michel
Antiques and flea markets are a popular attraction in many cities. Some people go there to hunt for special bargains to take home and others see it as a way to discover more about the place through the pieces on display. Bordeaux is quite rich with Brocantes and Vide Greniers (a local version of a garage sale) and you can find many of them both in the center and the villages around it. The most famous one is located in Passage Saint Michel, a hangar that gathers about twenty brocanteurs (second-hand goods dealer) together. Just in front of it, on the main square in Saint Michel, you will find the Sunday Brocante with much cheaper items for sale. Another neighborhood to visit is Chartrons, with plenty of more expensive Antique boutiques. If you want to experience a local and cheaper “flea market” you should attend a Vide Grenier in one of the suburbs or the villages next to Bordeaux. To discover when are the next vide greniers taking place check out this site.
Discover the heritage and nature Bordeaux by foot
If you love walking and nature, this is the perfect place for you. There are plenty of beautiful hiking trails to discover in Bordeaux metropole and the towns around it. On the way, you will see lakes, rivers, forests, and historical monuments and guess what, it’s all free. Take a look at the best hiking trails in and around Bordeaux in my article.
What to do for free in Bordeaux during the summer
Go to a free music concert
The summer in Bordeaux is one big music festival with plenty of free concerts and parties scattered all over the city. There are several associations that organize free concerts from June to the end of September in many different styles and locations. Bordeaux Open Air offers amazing electronic festivals in the parks of Bordeaux almost every summer. Relache will make you rock with free rock concerts on different squares of Bordeaux. Banzai lab has amazing parties on the weekend of July and the Pavillon d’été welcomes you to enjoy free music concerts on the right bank of the river. For more information follow my post about things to do in July and August as well as my what to do this weekend post that I publish every Wednesday/ Thursday.
Learn how to dance
If dance classes are too expensive for you, in Bordeaux you can learn it for free! The main dance festival in the summer is Dansons sur les quais, with free dancing lessons on the promenade. The lessons are taught by professional teachers and it’s quite an amazing experience for both kids and adults. However, this is not the only place to take free dance classes in Bordeaux during the summer season. You can also learn how to dance Tango with Tango Bordeaux association and Swing with the Swing In Kiosque at Jardin Public.
Have a picnic at the Park
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy a proper French meal or snack. Just buy some cheese and wine, add to it a crispy baguette from the boulangerie and head to one of Bordeaux magical picnic spots. Many of you probably heard about the beautiful Jardin Public, but this is far from being the only park in Bordeaux. Check out my list of the best picnic places in Bordeaux where I also included information about playgrounds for kids and the closest supermarkets. You’ll probably also like my article about the most beautiful parks in Bordeaux.
Listen to music and dance at la Guingette chez Alriq
La Guinguette chez Alriq is one of the best summer places in Bordeaux with plenty of concerts in the open air. During the summer they host amazing bands from Thursday to Sunday. While on most evenings the concerts cost 6 euros on Sunday afternoon the concerts are free!
Adress: ZA Quai des Queyries, Port Bastide, 33100 Bordeaux
Go to one of the beaches in the city
One of the best free attractions to do during the Bordelaise summer is going to a beach. There are many lakes in the area and two of them happen to be in the city and you can even reach them by public transport. Bordeaux Lac is a fantastic little beach in the north of the city. Unfortunately, the direct line to the beach (line c) from the city center is going through some works until September so going to the beach will take more time than usual. The second city beach is located in the southern suburb of Bordeaux, Bègles. Bègles plage can be reached by line c within 25 minutes from the train station. See the list of the most beautiful beaches around Bordeaux in my article.
Fun stuff to do (almost) for free with kids in Bordeaux
Chill at the Miroir d’eau
The best free attraction for kids (and adults) in Bordeaux is definitely Mirroir d’eau. Kids absolutely love splashing in the water, especially on hot summer days. When tired you can have a picnic at the little garden right next to it.
Go to the pool
Going to the pool is not really free in Bordeaux but it’s very affordable and you can spend the whole day there. There are several kids friendly pools in Bordeaux metropole, two of them are not very far from the city center. Next to the Meriadeck, you’ll find the piscine Judaique located in a beautiful art deco building. A bit farther from the center is Piscine du Grand Parc. Both are very kids friendly with facilities like kids’ pool, water slides, floats and more.
Skateboarding on the quai
If your kids love skating be sure to bring the skateboard with you when coming to Bordeaux. One of the best skateparks in the city is located on Quai des Chartrons and it’s free. For those heading to the Sunday market on the quai, that would be a great break for the kids.
There are plenty of amazing day trips you can go to when visiting the Bordeaux area. It’s not entirely free of course as you have to rent a car but it gives you the chance to discover plenty of amazing places around Bordeaux without paying a dime. Also, If you make sure to rent it a few months before your arrival rental prices are fairly low. If you prefer to go by train, check out my list of the 10 day trips you can do by train from Bordeaux.
Discover the beautiful châteaux of the Medoc region
Even if you don’t want to spend money on a wine tour I highly recommend doing the route du Vin, just for the beautiful châteaux all along the way. If you don’t want to rent a car you can do most of the trip by bike. While in many wineries you’d have to pay for a guided tour, some will offer you to taste their wine for free. For more information check out my article about the wine road in Medoc.
Go to one of Bordeaux’s beautiful beaches
Above I’ve mentioned two beaches that are located within the city but with a car, Gironde is a paradise for beach lovers. Plenty of beautiful sandy beaches surround the Bordeaux Metropole. The more kids friendly ones are located on the lakes, such as lac Lacanau or lac Cazaux and on the Bassin d’Arcachon. Surfers will definitely fall in love with the beaches on the Atlantic coast. If you need help in choosing the best beaches, I just recently released a post about the best beaches near Bordeaux.
Visit medieval villages
To its south and east, Bordeaux is surrounded by amazing medieval villages that you can reach within less than an hour drive. One of the most famous villages in our area is Saint Emilion, but it’s not the only charming village in the area, others include, Bazas, Saint Macaire, La Reole, Rions and more. For more information about some of these destinations check out my article about day trips from Bordeaux. Don’t miss my article about the most beautiful villages in Gironde.
I hope I convinced you that a trip to Bordeaux can be quite cheap when you have so many incredible free things to do. Hope you enjoyed the list!
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I started writing this article mostly for myself about a week before the end of confinement. I wanted to come up with a long enough list of places I could go to with my kids or even alone (if that’s ever possible) where we can enjoy the wonders of the region but still keep social distancing. (If you’re reading this in 2050, we were all locked in our houses for two months, just google COVID-19). Gironde is one of the most beautiful departments in France and actually the largest one as well, so within the permitted 100 km radius you can find an overwhelming amount of hiking options. You can discover the parks and lakes around Bordeaux metropole or combine your trips with some heritage in Entre Deux Mers, or the vineyards of Saint Emilion. There are long hiking trails for fit walkers and shorter ones for families with kids. I had so many ideas that I just had to come here and share them with you. I included hiking trails from every part of Gironde to give a big landscape variety. There are of course plenty of other options for hiking around Bordeaux and I will slowly update this list with more trails so bookmark this page and come back whenever you’re in a mood for a walk. I also publish quite a lot of my daily trips on social media so you are of course invited to follow me on Facebook/Instagram. Now let’s start!
Hiking in Bordeaux Metropole
Let’s start with destinations closer to Bordeaux and its suburbs. There are dozens of big and small parks in the metropole that can be perfect for a nice and easy hike, so you don’t even need a car to be able to enjoy the green areas of Bordeaux. The ones I particularly love are Parc de l’Ermitage in Lormont, Parc Majolan in Blanquefort, and Parc Bordelais in Bordeaux. There are of course many more green and lush places in the city and I’m working on an article with the full list which will be published soon. But for now, I wanted to introduce you to a few great hiking trails in Bordeaux Metropole through which you can discover the towns and forests surrounding the city.
Au fil de l’eau bourde – From Talence to Gradignan
I live in Talence so the first one on the list is close to my home, a 5km trail through some of the green areas of Talence and Gradigan. It’s important to mention though that while most of your hike is going to be accompanied by green scenery, this is not a classic nature trail, meaning that you will have to walk through some urban areas to get from one location to another. Having said that, it’s a beautiful path and you will be surprised by some of the parks and monuments located on the footsteps of Bordeaux.
The starting point is Bois de Thouars, a forest located on the border of Talence and Gradignan (it’s recommended to enter the forest from Avenue de Thouars in Talence). Don’t be in a rush here, take your time strolling around the lake, it feels more unspoiled here than many of the other lakes in the area. From this point, you can follow the markup of GR® métropolitain throughout the entire route. But just to make sure you’re in the right direction, here are a few interesting points you should check on the way. From the forest cross the bridge of the rocade (highway) to get to Gradignan (you should reach rue de Bénédigues in Gradignan). After a few more minutes walking, you’ll be on rue Saint-François-Xavier and will enter a green area that follows the Eau Bourde, a little stream of the Garonne river. Your second destination on the trail is Parc de Pelissey in Gradignan. From there continue along the Eau Bourde to enter one of the biggest parks in this town – le Parc du Moulineau. This park is a gem for kids. Not only can they enjoy a big playground but it’s also home to the Maison de la Nature that inhabits nearly 50 different animal species from rabbits to the black and white goat of the Pyrénées. The animal park is unfortunately still closed due to Covid 19, but that should not bother you to enjoy the vast green Parc du Moulineau (or Le parc René Canivenc by its other name).
When you leave le Parc du Moulineau continue along the stream to get to Parc Mandavit. From here you will continue to the last destination of this trail – le Parc de Cayac, a historic monument on the Saint-Jacques de Compostelle pilgrimage road. From here you can take bus line number 10 to get back to the Thouars forest. There’s also an option to continue to another 9 km hike through Gradignan. You can find more info about this and other hiking trails in the Metropole here.
Réserve écologique des Barails
If you prefer to forget that cars exist for a couple of hours, this next trail is for you! I’m happy to introduce you to the Réserve écologique des Barails, a beautiful natural reserve spreading over 156 hectares which also includes the beautiful Parc Floral of Bordeaux. Located in the North of Bordeaux (the Bordeaux Lac district), it’s actually the biggest green space in Bordeaux. The reserve consists of different parts each with their own characteristic: the forest, the park, the meadows, the wetlands, and the ecological corridors. It’s so rich with nature that most visitors don’t cover it in one visit.
There are three entries to the park. If you enter through Entree bois you’ll have the pleasure to discover more than 6km of hiking trails in the beautiful green forest. Enter the entree roseraie (next to the Golf de Lac) and you can enjoy a beautiful flower park with more than 500 varieties of roses. The reserve is also perfect for an easy stroll with kids and in fact, it was the first place I took mine after the deconfinement. Before heading there check out the information about the different entrances and parking on the official site of Bordeaux.
Floirac – fil vert – the green path
Le Fil vert on the right side of the river has more than 25 km of hiking to offer, passing through Parc des coteaux, the green space that encompasses most of the parks of Floirac, Cenon, Lormont, and Bassens. There are numerous hiking trails you can do here, depending on what part of “rive droite” you want to discover. You can see some of the trails here.
In this article, I’ll focus on hiking in Floirac and Boulac, a trail called Boucle de Floirac – Bouliac, which starts at Parc Castel in Floirac. The park itself is very cute with an impressive chateau, which is the starting point of your walk. Before you start the green path you can climb to the heights of the park to see the “belvédère” for a nice view. Then go down again to find the green loop path (boucle vert) in the le Chemin de Montagne. After about 500m take a left on the main street (Chemin des plateaux) that you will have to follow to reach le Domaine de la Burthe, the biggest park of Floirac. Enter the park through Chemin de Beaufeu and follow the red and white markup in the park, this will lead you to Ruisseau de Jacotte (a little stream of water). You will then have to go down under the highway to cross to the next town – Bouliac. Continue following the markup until it leads you to the next destination – le Bois de Loc Boué in Bouliac. The final destination on this route is the 12th-century church of Saint-Siméon. From here you can start your way back to Floirac. To avoid repeating the same path, you can take a different route through rue de Bourg. Before leaving rive droite you can also take a walk on Quai Deschamps and enjoy the beautiful view on the Garonne river.
The Saint Emilion region
Discover the lamprey capital of Gironde – Sainte Terre – 6.4 km
I’m sure that many of you are familiar with the beautiful Saint Emilion region. Even if you haven’t had the chance to do any hiking there, most of you living here had the chance to drive through the stunning vineyards of the famous wine region. This trail, however, is different from the usual view you see from Saint Emilion as it goes along the Dordogne river. This is a good opportunity to learn about another product the Saint Emilion region is famous for, the lamproie (lamprey in English). The little village of Sainte Terre is the capital of Lamprey. Start your tour from Église Saint-Alexis, the church of Sainte Terre and walk on Rue du Parlement until you reach the river. Take a nice long stroll along the river until you reach the prohibited area sign, then turn left with the path. Follow the path until you reach the town again and then turn left on Rue du Parlement to reach the town center. On normal days you can also visit the Lamprey’s garden, a small park and the museum of lamprey, however, I believe that it’s still closed for visits. You can see the map of the trails with the points of interest here.
The chateaux and restaurants are still closed, but once they’ll re-open I really recommend combining this hike with a visit to a winery or a nice meal in one of the villages around Saint Emilion. If you want more information on what to do in Saint Emilion, check out my article with everything you need to know about visiting this beautiful village.
Entre Deux Mers
Boucle de Rions – heritage and hillsides
Entre Deux Mers is one of the most beautiful parts of Gironde. An abundance of medieval villages scattered along the Gironde river, centuries-old historic monuments, wineries and a lot of nature makes it a perfect place for day trips from Bordeaux. And above all, it’s also a great region for hiking with several paths mixing heritage and nature. Today I want to focus on hiking around one of my favorite towns in the region – Rions.
Rions is a small medieval town on the hills on the banks of the Garonne river that played an important role in the Hundred Years War and was occupied by England during the 13th century. Even if you come here specifically for hiking, don’t be in a rush and take some time to admire the beautiful houses with old shatters and the colorful flower pots decorating the narrow streets of the village. After you got inspired by the beautiful architecture we can start the hike. Leave the city center following rue Lavidon, through Porte Lavidon, and enjoy a pleasant 4.5 km path with a stunning view of the Garonne hillsides and vineyards. You will enter back through the most impressive gate in Rions, Porte du l’Hyan, the only gate that was kept fully preserved to this day. Before you leave, visit the old ramparts of the city, built in the 14th century and restored in the 18th century. You can find the map and all the details here
The South of Gironde
Hostens is one of the highlights of the South Gironde region. Domaine des Lacs d’Hostens is located at the heart of the Landes de Gascogne forest (50 km from Bordeaux) and offers some of the best hiking trails you can find near Bordeaux. The Domain consists of five different lakes with plenty of water activities as well as hiking trails, mountain bike trails, and more. If you’re after a good hike, head to the second lake, Lac du Bousquey. On the way you can see horses, butterflies and other wonders of nature. There are three trails in the Domain of Hostens: 8, 11 et 16 km long so there is something for both fit walkers and people who just want to enjoy a relatively short walk in nature.
In Hostens you will also find one of the best beaches in Gironde, this one located on the shores of another lake, the lake of Lamothe. So if the weather is good this would be the best way to end your hike.
Lac Vert and Lac Bleu
I really love hiking around lakes! I think that water in combination with the greenery around it gives it a very meditational vibe 🙂 Luckily there are a few beautiful lakes around the area where you can have a lovely walk and admire the colors of the water. The first one is Lac Vert (the green lake) in Canejan and the second one is Lac Bleu (the blue lake) in Leognan, both located about 15/20 minutes’ drive from Bordeaux. Their names derive from the color of the water and they are both stunning.
Did you know that the largest man-made forest in Europe is located just an hour’s drive from Bordeaux? The huge Landes forest has a few hiking trails, one of them starting in Saint Symphorien, a village located about 50 km south of Bordeaux. The route starts from the center of Saint Symphorien, which by itself is not very interesting. But it’s nice to dedicate a few minutes to see the town hall, the gothic Saint Symphorien church, and the cute little Maison Cammunale, which was built during the great depression. To start the walk, leave the city center and walk about 5 minutes on Cours de Verdun until you reach Le Chalet Mauriac. In this house the famous novelist, Francois Mauriac used to spend his vacations as a child. The chateau itself is probably closed right now, but the nice park around it might be open.
Your next destination is Moulin de Marian, an old windmill standing close to the Hure river. This is a nice walk that should take you about 30 minutes. From here continue on the path until you reach the department route number D220. Don’t turn to D220, instead continue straight on D115 until you reach Landes de Lassus, turn left here. Then continue north until you get to l’Atelier des Chemins de fer économiques de la Gironde. The building, built in the 19th century is a testimony of what was one of the main economic activities of this village. The site was closed in 1978 but you can still see some of the machines they used back then. You are now almost back to the center of Saint Symphorien, where our tour ends.
One of my favorite hiking places in the region is Lanton on the Arcachon bay. There are of course many other great places for a promenade around the Bassin but I love the fact that you rarely see any people in Lanton and that the drive is not very long. You can start your walk from Plage de Suzette, which is a little port with a few restaurants on it, from there just follow the trail surrounding the little port. If you’ve ever been to the Bassin d’Arcachon you know that the view changes a lot depending on the tide. This trail goes along the bay and that’s why, depending on the time you arrive, it may feel like walking along the beach or in an apocalyptic desert. The scenery and tranquility are just magical and it’s less than an hour from Bordeaux! To discover more places in Bassin d’Arcachon go to my article about the best day trips to Arcachon Bay.
Ville d’Hiver in Arcachon
Here’s an idea for those who like urban trails. The touristy city of Arcachon currently feels very different from its usual lively vibes. Tourists are yet to flood the region and the restaurants will stay closed until at least June. Why not use this opportunity to discover the beautiful architecture of ville d’Hiver in Arcachon city. The winter city of Arcachon was mainly built in the 19th century and among its 300 villas, you can find some architectural treasures. Here are a few villas you don’t want to miss: Teresa, Toledo, Brémontier, Trocadero, Alexandre Dumas, Bayard, and Athena. Before you go, don’t miss the beautiful Parc Mauresque which separates the winter city from the summer city. If you can read some French, here’s a site with a short history of the most famous villas in the winter city. For more info on what to do in Arcachon city check out my article about Arcachon.
There are of course many more hiking routes in the region. We are surrounded by forests, lakes, parks, old villages, and a lot of heritage, so there’s an endless amount of ideas for a walk. But I wanted to release this article as soon as possible so you can start enjoying the weather and the deconfinement. I will add more ideas for walks in this article in the next few weeks, so I invite you all to return to this page. If you enjoyed reading the article, you can always share it with friends and make them go on a hike instead of the crowded city center 🙂
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