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In Gironde, vineyards populate the landscape

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Gironde
Gironde

Between vineyards and beaches, heritage and nature

Gironde in short

Gironde is a department in south-western France, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, which has many facets. The Gironde is first and foremost a wine region, with the world-famous Bordeaux Grands Crus. Inland, of course, the landscape is dominated by vineyards. France's third-largest wine-producing department, with 117,200 hectares of cultivated vines, Gironde boasts 57 appellations and a unique diversity of terroirs. Between the vineyards of the Médoc, Libourne, Entre-Deux-Mers and Blayais, numerous wine estates and châteaux open their doors to you for memorable visits and tastings.

Place de la Bourse reflected in the water mirror at dusk

- © Leonid Andronov / Shutterstock

The main city in the Gironde, Bordeaux is home to a rich cultural and historical heritage. Listed as a City of Art and History, it attracts more than two million visitors every year. The Place Pey Berland, the Grosse Cloche, the Porte Cailhau... At every street corner, a building rises up in front of you and you will be enchanted by the magnificence of these historic works. Come and wander through the districts of old Bordeaux, visit its beautiful buildings, stroll along the quays and sit down to a meal in one of its many restaurants. Because in Bordeaux, epicureans are kings!

The Cap-Ferret lighthouse sits enthroned on the tip of the island in the Bay of Arcachon.

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Not far from Bordeaux, it's the Arcachon basin and its vast maritime spaces that offer visitors their vast horizons. The Arcachon basin offers a wide range of water sports: sailing, sea kayaking, rowing, windsurfing, hiking, jet skiing, sailboat and motorboat hire. The Arcachon basin also offers the immensity of the Dune du Pilat, the charm of Cap-Ferret, the wild beauty of the Banc d'Arguin and Ile aux oiseaux, and the authenticity of the oyster ports where you can enjoy a dozen oysters accompanied by a white wine.

The Gironde is also Europe's largest estuary! Large in size, but also in terms of its rich heritage, the Gironde estuary is well worth a visit! On foot, by boat or by bike, this vast area can be visited in 1,000 different ways. It's the largest in Europe. As proof, it is perfectly identifiable on our maps of France. The Gironde estuary has a surface area of 625 km², stretching 150 kilometres from Bordeaux to Cordouan, and is home to a dozen islands. It can be up to 12 km wide at its mouth. It is also the estuary shared by the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, which meet at the Bec d'Ambès.

The citadel of Blaye, a fine example of Vauban's genius

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In Blaye, 50 km from Bordeaux, the estuary takes centre stage, offering a range of visits each as unique as the next. Fortified between 1685 and 1689 by the famous architect Vauban, the citadel of Blaye is listed, along with Fort Pâté and Fort Médoc, as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO under the name "Verrou Vauban". This defensive triptych is unique in France and offers magnificent panoramic views over the Gironde estuary. The defence system put in place by Vauban has been preserved intact, with 1.5 km of ramparts, underground passageways and all the buildings necessary for the functioning of a garrison: former convent, prison, barracks, powder magazine, etc. The citadel also promises a pleasant stroll through its narrow streets to meet the craftsmen, restaurateurs and shopkeepers.

Mainly known for its vineyards, Saint-Émilion is also home to a rich heritage.

- © Martin M303 / Shutterstock

Whether you explore the Médoc, the Blayais, the Bassin d'Arcachon, the Entre-Deux-Mers, the Libournais or the southern Gironde, you're sure to get an eyeful. The Gironde is a skilful blend of cultural and heritage visits and walks in the heart of beautiful, unspoilt countryside. When it comes to heritage, the Gironde is home to more than 1,000 historic monuments! Villages such as Saint-Macaire and Saint-Émilion, and the châteaux of Roquetaillade, Cazeneuve and Vayres, not to mention the bastide towns and wine-growing châteaux, are just some of the must-sees in this destination. Finally, when it comes to nature, the Gironde is home to two regional nature parks, two marine parks, and a diverse range of flora and fauna to discover thanks to the network of cycle paths and hiking trails!

How to get there?

There are many ways to get to the Gironde: by car, plane, bus, train and even by bike, thanks to a fine network of cycle paths. If you're coming by train, Voyages SNCF serves Bordeaux station, while the TER Nouvelle-Aquitaine network connects with other major towns such as Arcachon and Saint-Émilion. Finally, if you're coming by plane, you'll land at Bordeaux-Mérignac airport.

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Where to stay?

The Gironde promises a holiday full of discoveries. With hiking, cultural visits, water sports, cycling, vineyards and more, the Gironde is an ideal destination to recharge your batteries and recharge your batteries in the midst of unspoilt nature. It's an ideal destination to recharge your batteries, but also to recharge your batteries in the midst of unspoilt nature. So, whatever your stopover in the Gironde, you'll be delighted to know that this region is full of great places to go for wellbeing.

Practical information

🔢 Gironde: key figures

Surface area: 10,000 km²
Population: 1.62 million

When to go to Gironde?

Generally speaking, Gironde can be visited all year round without any problems, but the best period is from April to the end of October. The peak tourist season coincides with the school holidays in July and August. If you prefer to avoid the crowds in the most popular destinations, such as Bordeaux, the Médoc Atlantique, the Bassin d'Arcachon or Saint-Émilion, we advise you to plan your trip in spring or autumn. The temperatures are still very pleasant at this time of year, and there are fewer visitors.

The time of year also depends on your interests:

  • For hiking and cycling, July to September are ideal: the sun shines and rain is rare.
  • For lounging on the beach and swimming in the ocean, go in summer: the sea water can rise to 21°C in August, but beware of the busiest beaches where it can quickly become complicated to put your towel down.
  • For surfing: the waves at Lacanau and Arcachon welcome surfers all year round. However, it's a little more complicated in summer, when it's best to go early in the morning or in the evening.
  • To visit Bordeaux, opt for the mid-seasons: the temperatures are milder for strolling around the city and there are fewer tourists.
  • For river tourism on the Garonne Canal, the best period is from May to October.

For a holiday centred on wine tourism: the great wine estates open their doors to you all year round for visits and tastings, but autumn, when the vines are decked out in sublime shimmering colours, is a season full of charm!

🚌 Getting around Gironde

Gironde is the largest département in mainland France. Here are a few tips for getting around:

Gironde by TER

You can get to some of the major towns using the TER network, for example:

  • To the Bassin d'Arcachon, take the Bordeaux - Arcachon line (50 min).
  • To the Médoc, take the Bordeaux - Le Verdon line (1h50 min).
  • The Bordeaux - Saint-Emilion line (33 min) takes you directly to the heart of the vineyards.

The Gironde by bike

The cycling network in Gironde is expanding every year. Today, 390 km of departmental cycle paths and 170 km of departmental cycle routes enable travellers to cross the whole of Gironde and discover the various natural, heritage and landscape sites.

Gironde by bus

You can also get around thanks to the department's bus network. This network has more than 70 regular routes, including 4 routes linking the TER stations in Gironde.

🧳 What to bring back?

In Gironde, shopping goes hand in hand with gastronomy. In fact, it would be a shame to visit this destination without bringing back a culinary souvenir of the varied landscapes you will have visited.

In the Bordeaux region, it's here that your suitcase will be weighed down with bottles, or cases, of the world's most famous wines. Unfortunately, being on the spot won't bring down the sometimes exorbitant prices of the most famous bottles, but visiting the cellars of local producers will enable you to discover little nuggets that sometimes have nothing to envy the world-famous wines.

Then, as you travel around the region, it's up to you to fill your bags with the flagship products of the Gironde: a tin of Aquitaine caviar, cannelés from Bordeaux, macaroons from Saint-Émilion, and so on.

lightbulb_outline Editor's tip

We advise you to avoid becoming a vegetarian or abstainer on the eve of your departure for Gironde: it would be a real shame not to be able to try most of the traditional dishes, accompanied by a good wine from the region!

Useful links
Gironde Tourism

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