Indie's One-week Bordeaux Road Trip

Difficulty

600 km

Distance

6 - 7

Recom. Days

General

Trip type

Cora Harrison

Freelance writer for Indie Campers, currently trying to find herself in Indonesia but without much luck. Enjoys exploring weird and wonderful world cuisine — the less identifiable, the better.

Bordeaux Road Trip Itinerary: Bordeaux Round-Trip

Holidays in France will never go out of fashion and the rich variety of the southwest is sure to tick your box whatever kind of traveller you are. Get ready for a Bordeaux road trip!

Historic and elegant Bordeaux parades its centuries-old architecture and laid-back chic, its glitz and boho glamour. Next, the surf capital Biarritz, with waves, silky sands and the oyster beds of the Bassin d'Arcachon. Finally, drive through lush green vineyards and visit epic chateaux in Médoc.

Taking in cities, sand, windswept cliff-tops, wine, and fine dining, this campervan road trip itinerary across France’s southwest is a sure-fire winner

House in Biarritz, one of the Bordeaux Road Trip destination
Pick-up in
Bordeaux depot
1

The journey begins in Bordeaux

Bordeaux, France’s sixth largest city, is best known for its wine. Surrounded by vibrant green vineyards, Bordeaux and its residents enjoy the good life — by which we mean, yes, lots of wine.

But the city’s heady allure also owes to its architecture. Half the city is UNESCO listed, making it the world’s largest urban World Heritage Site. But alongside history is a progressive and youthful vibe, thanks in part to its 87,000-strong student population.

The centre of Bordeaux by night is a must-do on the Bordeaux Road Trip

Arriving at this first stop on your French road trip itinerary, begin at the Place de la Bourse. This Neoclassical masterpiece overlooks the Miroir d’Eau, a shallow fountain reflecting the world above in mesmerising clarity, and the perfect place to cool off. Continue along the river promenade, where you’ll find ample art museums and galleries.

After indulging in art, go for a river cruise or simply stroll around the shabby but charming Chartrons neighbourhood. As for dinner, pick between upscale restaurants, boutique eateries, and even food trucks — just make sure to pair your dish with a generous glass of Bordeaux.

Visiting

Bordeaux

1

Recom. Days

Main route

15 km

from depot

30 min

drive

Visit

Ecole du Vin

Learn the dacts behind drinking at wine school

Pont de Pierre

Head here at dusk for spectacular views

Grand Théâtre

Chandeliers, music, ballet and opera

Eat at

Belle Campagne

€€€

Seasonal and local produce

Miles

€€€€

Modern bistro in centre

Belle Campagne

€€€

Seasonal and local produce

Le Bouchon Bordelais

€€€

Affordable dining in heart of city

Parking

SGGPB (Parc des Allées de Chartres)

€€€

Open from 8am - 8pm

Stay at

Le Village du Lac, Bordeaux

€€€€

Access to city centre by bus or bike

2

Head to the Bassin d'Arcachon for beachside bliss

Come summer, many of Bordeaux’s residents pack up their cars and flock to the gold sands of the seaside paradise that is the Bassin d’Arcachon. Follow in their suit and head on to the next stop on your Bordeaux road trip itinerary.

From delightful Arcachon itself, with its whimsical villas and gardens, to the chic and sophisticated Cap Ferret, there is plenty here for a memorable stop on your French adventure.

Seafood in front of the sea, with plates and glasses of wine, on a Bordeaux Road Trip

First up: oysters. Oyster beds stretch all along the shoreline here, as do waterfront restaurants serving nothing but wine and nature’s aphrodisiac. Stroll the streets of Arcachon, with its hotchpotch of architectural styles.

Take a pinasse — a traditional long wooden boat — over to Cap Ferret. Or there’s the pyramid-shaped Dune du Pilat, Europe's highest sand dune — climb to the top for mind-blowing views.

Cycle to the picturesque villages of L'Herbe or Le Canon. Or hire a canoe to explore the region’s water-dwelling flora and fauna.

Visiting

Bassin d'Arcachon

2

Recom. Days

Main route

200 km

from Biarritz

2h20m

drive

Visit

Parc Mauresque

Floral wonderland and natural oasis

Dune du Pilat

Enormous sand dune perfect for paragliding

Le teich

Bird reserve and nature park

Eat at

The Skiff Club at Hotel Haitza

€€€

Unpretentious but delicious dishes

Hotel de la Plage, L'herbe

€€€

Classic French restaurant, ideal for oysters

Sail Fish Café, Cap Ferret

€€€€

All-day café-bar, perfect for people watching

Stay at

Campsite Fontaine Vieille

€€€

Located in Andernos-les-Bains, close to beach

3

Next up: the old school brilliance of Biarritz

Once the glitzy haunt of European royalty, today Biarritz still entertains a fair number of celebs, but the vibe is less aristocratic glamour and more beach-bum chillout. People have flocked to Biarritz for holidays for centuries, and this west coast surf destination continues to tempt many to its six breathtaking beaches.

And it’s not just sand and surf. You also have Belle Époque relics, art deco villas, and even a 1930s casino.

Beach with a bridge in Biarritz, a stop on the Bordeaux Road Trip

Arriving at your next road trip itinerary destination, walk in the footsteps of Empress Eugénie and Napoléon III — who started high society’s obsession with the city — with a visit to Eugénie's extravagant villa, now the Hôtel du Palais. Then perhaps a digestif on the terrace of the Casino Municipale, although you’ll need a gown or tux to go inside.

As for beaches, there’s the sandy expanses of La Grande Plage, or the rugged La Côte des Basques. And for breathtaking views, head to the Rocher de la Vierge.

Visiting

Biarritz

2

Recom. Days

Main route

200 km

from Bordeaux

2h30m

drive

Visit

Port de Pêcheurs

Rustic harbour for seafood and sunsets

Musée de la Mer

Art deco aquarium featuring a shark cave

Les Halles de Biarritz

Food market ideal for picnic supplies

Eat at

Le Clos Basque

€€€

Michelin-starred Basque dining

La Tantina de Burgos

€€

Traditional Basque dishes in rustic setting

Blue cargo

€€€€

Music and private beach

Parking

Avenue Notre Dame

Free

Free parking overlooking Côte des Basques

Stay at

Camping Oyam

€€€

15-min drive south of Biarritz in quaint village

4

You’ve made it to the Médoc, your boozy finale

Northwest of Bordeaux you’ll find the megastars of the French wine world. Along the Gironde Estuary are some of the region’s most acclaimed vineyards, including Haut-Médoc, Margaux, and St-Julien, familiar to anyone who knows their grape.

But even if you don’t, this is the perfect final stop on your Bordeaux road trip. Unspoiled beaches and seaside towns. Horse riding and mushroom picking through lush forests. And those crumbling old villages that lend this corner of France its unique charm.

The Bordeaux Road Trip includes a green area in Médoc

Choose which of the region’s extraordinary châteaux you fancy and call ahead to schedule a visit. Château Ducru-Beaucaillou or Château Margaux are good options.

Time it right and you might catch part of the Marathon du Médoc, a race that offers cheese, oysters, foie gras, and — yes, you’ve guessed it — wine, at the stations along the way. And, of course, you’ll need some dining to go with all that wine-ing, so be sure to try the Pauillac lamb at some point — it’s delicious.

Visiting

The Médoc

1 - 2

Recom. Days

Main route

110 km

from the Bassin d'Arcachon

1h45m

drive

Visit

Château Lynch-bages

One of the best-known Médoc wineries

Château Lanessan

Neaoclassical château with English-style gardens

Centre Equestre Petits Chevaux

Horse-riding for kids

Eat at

Cafe Lavinal

€€€

Sophisticated but not fussy

Château Cordeillan-Bages

€€€€

Michelin-starred in château setting

Le Saint Julien, Saint Julien

€€€€

Fresh, grilled dishes and patio

Stay at

Camping Municipal Gabarreys

€€€

Peaceful campsite with views of the river

Drop-off in
Bordeaux depot

85 km

from the Médoc

1 hr

drive