TRAVEL IN GIRONDE

With a surface area of 10,000 km2, Gironde is France’s biggest département. Its capital, Bordeaux, is also capital of Aquitaine. To the west there is the Atlantic Ocean and its 126 kilometres of coastline and beaches, from Soulac to Arcachon, via Lacanau… Then comes the immense forest protected by the dunes: 480,000 hectares of maritime pine trees, making Gironde the part of France with the greatest area of woodland.

The Gironde Estuary begins at the headland of Ambès and runs into the ocean between the Pointe de Grave and Royan. It is the biggest estuary in Europe (75 km long and 12 km wide) and the last refuge of the sturgeon, a species currently being reintroduced into the river.

And of course there is the world’s most famous wine region with vineyards that seem to go on forever. Both the basis for the local economy and a genuine art de vivre, the wine region includes 57 Appellations d’Origine Contrôlées.

The Girondin people have a rich history, with medieval wars and the Enlightenment, illustrious writers and ancestral vine-growing techniques. During the wars of the 20th century, Bordeaux provided a refuge for the French governments. All this history is what makes up the Gironde heritage.

Nowadays in Gironde, people cultivate a taste for the good things in life. The economic fabric is diversified; agriculture, high technologies, aeronautics and tourism all cohabit and reap the benefits of the European and international commercial centrepoint that is Bordeaux.

Gironde is all this and much more. The region is naturally welcoming – a place where it is pleasant to live and to visit. When you come on holiday you are spoilt for choice: you can walk along the 2750 kilometres of hiking paths, cycle around the 1000 kilometres of signposted cycling tracks, enjoy the landscape via river and green tourism, discover the history of the region by seeing the 205 classified monuments and 453 listed monuments, or do some wine-tasting on visits to châteaux….

THE REGION : BORDEAUX

 

Discover a city of history and architecture.
Discover a city of history and architecture.Since 2007, Bordeaux is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The front of the quays or the picturesque Saint-Pierre, with its maze of streets leading to the church of Saint-Pierre or the beautiful Parliament Square shows how the ranking is deserved. In front of the Palais Rohan, now the City Hall, Pey-Berland Square embraces the Saint-Andre Cathedral. Go up the tower and all Bordeaux will extend at your feet. The Grand Theatre, Quinconces, Tourny alleys are treasures to be discovered.

The City of Wine, flagship of Bordeaux wine tourism

Plunge your eyes from the top of the city of wine on the city of Bordeaux, the banks of the Garonne at sunset. Enjoy wines from around the world. Browse the history of wine and awaken your senses. The wine city is located in the new district near the Chaban-Delmas bridge. After the visit, ask yourself in the halls of Bacalan to discover the covered market and counters to drink and eat local products. Easy access with the Tram.

Go for the best and most tempting of shopping.
Around the Grand Theatre, the windows of area named the “Golden Triangle” offer all major brands. Rue Saint-Catherine, the longest pedestrian street in Europe, brings together the major brands for the most delicious temptations. If you are looking for rare objects, choose the shops of Saint-Pierre, original and charming. For the best deals go shopping at the Quai des Marques along the river, where everything is sold at factory prices.

 

Stroll along the waterfront, the new promenade of Bordeaux.
The Bordelais go there on weekends and weekdays, everything is good to “take the docks”. This walk along the Garonne through the gardens and landscaped areas passes in front of the Place de la Bourse and the beautiful water mirror. You will also find historical bistros and contemporary cafes as Bordeaux also be tasted. The city reveals its secrets during the guided tours of the Bordeaux Tourist Office.

THE REGION : BASSIN D'ARCACHON

 

At the top of the highest dune in Europe.
This is a unique place where the blue sky is a background of the silver sea. The sand adds its heat to the color palette composed by this maritime landscape. Here is the highest dune in Europe, Dune du Pilat. At the top of its 110 meters (height varies), it offers a breathtaking view of the Bay and its islands. Rhythm by the tides and protected by the Arcachon Basin, the place has seen the development of oyster farming. Oysters is the local specialty and, can be enjoyed in the restaurant, bar terraces, or directly to the oyster huts in the small ports bordering the basin.

 

Around the oyster, a water world and harmony. 
The Basin is primarily a world of water. Take the boat from Arcachon to Cap Ferret to see the huts on stilts or the Bird Island, surrounded by oyster parks. You will also discover all the small villages of oyster farmers ou quiet beaches that nestle in Cap Ferret. Stroll to the tip of Cap Ferret, where the Atlantic waves enter the basin. The view on the Dune du Pilat will astonish you.

 

Biscarrosse, the call of the sea and the forest.
20 minutes away, Biscarrosse, at the edge of the ocean, is known for its beautiful lakes where you can enjoy all kind of water sports. Between the village and the sea, the network of trails allows, as in Arcachon a bicycle holiday. The trails are easy and enjoyable, between dunes and forest. The hardest part will be to choose your road as all of them lead to happiness.

THE REGION : MÉDOC

 

The wine route is like driving through a wine menu
Called the Wine Route, the D2 route will lead you to the heart of Médoc, from a castle grand cru producer to another. “As a walk on the wine list of a great restaurant,” according to a Canadian journalist. Admire the terroir of these internationally known vineyards and take the time to visit the castles. Château Margaux, Château du Tertre, Château Kirwan and Château Prieuré-Lichine are among the most famous. A warm welcome will be guaranteed by the properties marked “Vineyards and Cellars of Bordeaux.”

 

On the coast : beaches, surfers and bike paths.
With its long sandy beaches the Médoc became the favorite destination for surfers and nature lovers. Here, the preserved environment can be appreciated by boat on the lakes of Lacanau, Hourtin or Carcans-Maubuisson, and also in the shade of pine trees on the cycling network that goes to Bordeaux! A few days in the Médoc will allow you to capture all the facets of the local character!

THE REGION : ST-EMILION / VALLÉE DE LA DORDOGNE

 

The east of Bordeaux, the wealth of a fertile land.The medieval town of Saint-Emilion.Who does not know the name of Saint-Emilion? World famous for its wines, the village is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Saint-Emilion has kept its authenticity : twice a year, in June and September, members of the Jurade, the brotherhood of Saint-Emilion wines, march in the traditional red dress in the streets of the city. The best way to visit the village is on foot. Take your time, as you will go through ​​the narrow streets, up and down the hill on which the city was built. The visit is also underground as a large part of the heritage of Saint-Emilion is dug into the limestone rock of the hill, the monolithic church, the chapel, catacombs … Do not hesitate to follow the guided tours of the Tourist Office.

 

A bouquet of flavors and colors.Petrus, Ausone, Cheval Blanc … Famous names that evoke the prestigious castles of this region of Gironde. But in this fertile region, many other castles await you. To discover the valley of Dordogne is also a way to borrow one of the many hiking trails. Lose yourself in the vineyards, woods and around villages. Take a break at the village of Sainte-Terre, along the Dordogne, to taste the famous lamprey “à la bordelaise”. In summer, assist at the grandiose sound and light reconstitution of the battle of Castillon. At last, experience the flavors and colors of the weekly markets of Libourne or of Saint-Foye-la-Grande, considered being the best in the region.

THE WINES OF BORDEAUX

You’re bound to know the name and the reputation. “Bordeaux” : a picture of a prestigious wine behind which a whole wold takes shape stroke by stroke.

Understandably, the journey may seem intimidating : how can you begin to savour the 57 appellations of controlled origin, choose between 8,000 chateaux, find wine tasting schools or accommodation in the vineyard? click here

To know everything on Bordeaux wines, soils, grape varieties, wine making : www.vins-bordeaux.fr

If you wish to make an excursion in the vineyard from Bordeaux, see the wine tours, on the Bordeaux tourist office website

Every two years in late June, Bordeaux Wine festival takes place on the Place des Quinconces and the banks of the Garonne river. You can enjoy free concerts and exhibitions, but above all tasting sessions of all the wine appellations in Aquitaine. On this occasion, the experience of discovery and sharing bring together wine-lovers in a festive, gastronomic atmosphere.

THE HERITAGE

Silent vestiges of the history of Gironde, the local stone originates from every era and comes in every style. It represents an anthology of cultures and secrets… A land of diversity down to its very architecture, the Gironde has a style that is Romanesque and gothic, aristocratic and peasant, coastal, religious and military.

Bordeaux with its large 18th century city center, the façade of the quays and the old port La Lune are like a theatre of yellow stones swallowed in the neo classical architecture.

At the county side the large offer of wine chateaux, the ancient villages, the famous French and English walled towns « Bastides », the monasteries, the boarder and the small ports of the Garonne and the Dordogne rivers, the military squares are the witnesses of a glorious and rich history.

Bordeaux and la Gironde entered in the modernity of the 21st century with the arts at the Opera, the modern museum, the popular scenes and shows of the Summer in Gironde or with the great events like “Bordeaux Fête le Vin” and renewed with the “Art de Vivre”.

GASTRONOMY

The ideal climate and soils for growing vines and the know-how of its people have therefore turned the Gironde and Bordeaux into a dream destination for wine lovers but it is also the origin of the great French South West gastronomy.

The top quality produce and the culinary specialties like an entrecote grilled on vine shoots, the Bazas’ beef, the Pauillac lamb served with ceps and other vegetables are the traditional basis of the local gastronomy. Further according to the seasons you can find twaite-shad, lamprey “Bordeaux Style”, from the Bay of Arcachon sea bass and oysters with their special sausage called “Crépinette”. And also some sweets are very famous “Canelé of Bordeaux” and the sweet hazelnut called “Noisettines du Médoc”. Those are some delicious flavours and gourmet pleasures.

The large variety of our gastronomy is also very refined especially when the great Chefs of the famous restaurants create their menus with the local products.

The gastronomy and the winetasting is the real French South-West lifestyle. The large range of the most typical and unusual restaurants offers you delighted gourmet surprise. Ask your hosts, they have their favorite addresses and they will be proud to share them with you.

The farmers’ network « Bienvenue à la ferme » (welcome to the farm) invites you to discover their farms and all the wealth of their local production.

Discover the “Plate of the Country” an unique dish with salty, sweet and salty-sweet savoury, contains only the local products direct from the local producers or regional craft enterprises.

THE ATLANTIQUE SHORE

The Gironde has more than 120 km of ocean coastline with beaches of fine sand. At the north of the Gironde there is the peninsula of the Médoc with on one side the ocean and the other side the estuary of the Gironde (one of the largest of Europe).

 

At the south of the department just before arriving in Les Landes, you will find the Bay of Arcachon, an inland sea well known for the oysters and the Great Dune of Pilat (high 114 m and a length of 5 km).

This coastline is bordered by maritime pines, great lakes and different sea resorts with their typical personal atmosphere; Lacanau and the surfing, Lège Cap Ferret the intimate romanticism ambiance, Soulac and the style of the beginning of 1900, Lanton situated close to Andernos situated at the National Regional Park of the Landes of Gascogne, Gujan Mestras and its 7 small ports, capital of the oyster farming, the famous city of Arcachon and its high life and last but not least Biscarrosse between ocean and lakes.

La Dune of Pilat situated at the south entry of the Bay of Arcachon, extends about 500 m from east to the west and 2,7 km from the north to the south and contains more than 60 million cubic meter of sand! The dune is located in the district of La Teste de Buch next to Arcachon (Gironde) and in the heart of les Landes of Gascogne. This enormous large and moving dune advances inexorably into the interior of the country and its height is between 100 and 117 meters.