8 Best Day Trips from Bordeaux

8 Best Day Trips from Bordeaux

Bordeaux is ideally situated for exploring southwest France, with golden beaches, medieval towns, and Grand Cru wine châteaux all within day-trip distance. If you’re visiting Bordeaux for the France Rugby World Cup 2023, why not make the most of the time between matches and take in some of the regional highlights?

Ready to climb Europe’s highest sand dune, learn how Cognac is made, and visit one of France’s most beloved food markets? Here’s our pick of the 8 best day trips from Bordeaux. 

1. Saint-Émilion

With its Grand Cru vineyards, Michelin-starred restaurants, and UNESCO-listed monuments, Saint-Émilion is Bordeaux’s medieval alter-ego. Wine tasting is Saint-Émilion’s preferred pastime, and this wine capital is home to four appellations (Lussac Saint-Émilion, Puisseguin Saint-Émilion, Saint-Émilion, and Saint-Émilion Grand Cru), and more than 800 wineries and wine châteaux.

Leave yourself time to explore the town, too. Join a walking tour to peek inside the medieval catacombs of the Monolithic Church, climb the King’s Tower (Tour de Roy) for a view over the vineyards, and sample local specialities Crémant de Bordeaux (sparkling wine) and Saint-Emilion macarons. 

Distance from Bordeaux: 25 miles (49 km)

How to get there: Join a guided tour from Bordeaux, hop on the train (a 35-minute journey, followed by an about 20-minute walk), or drive (45 minutes).

Don’t miss: An underground tour of the Monolithic Church.

2. Médoc Wine Châteaux

Mosaic vineyards stretch along the Gironde estuary north of Bordeaux, where storied châteaux and rustic fishing villages pepper the landscapes. Margaux is the starting point of the Médoc Wine Route, nicknamed the “Route des Châteaux” for its Grand and Premier cru châteaux, and there’s plenty to cram into a day trip. 

Hop between the villages of St Julien, Paulliac, and Saint-Estèphe, and book a few wine tastings along the way. Once you’ve had your quota of Bordeaux reds, slip out to the coast, where a brisk beach walk is the perfect antidote to a match-day hangover.

Distance from Bordeaux: 19 miles (30 km) to Margaux.

How to get there: Join a wine-tasting tour from Bordeaux, take the train to Margaux (40 minutes) or Paulliac (1 hour 5 mins), or drive (40 minutes to Margaux).

Don’t miss: Wine tasting at a Premier Cru château.

3. Arcachon & the Dune de Pilat

Hemmed in by the vast pine forests of the Landes, the sandy shores of France’s Côte d’Argent (the Silver Coast) have enough sun and surf to draw beachgoers from all over the country. Arcachon is the flagship resort town, with its elegant 19th-century buildings, sandy beaches, and string of seafood restaurants looking out across Arcachon Bay. 

Visit one of the oyster farms around the bay—Arcachon oysters are renowned throughout France—then continue south to the Dune du Pilat, which holds the title of Europe’s highest sand dune at 328 feet high. A 168-step staircase leads the way to the top, from where the views stretch for miles.  

Distance from Bordeaux: 40 miles (65 km) to Arcachon.

How to get there: Take the train from Bordeaux (53 minutes) or drive (50 minutes) to Arcachon. From there, it’s a further 15-minute drive to the Dune du Pilat.

Don’t miss: Climbing to the top of Europe’s highest sand dune.

4. Cognac

Wine isn’t the only star of the drinks menu in Bordeaux—just north of the city, Cognac is famed for its namesake brandy. A visit to one of the most prestigious Cognac Houses (Rémy Martin, Hennessy, Martell, or Courvoisier) will be the top ticket for Cognac enthusiasts, but the town itself makes a worthy aperitif for your tasting tour.

Wander through the cobbled lanes and half-timbered buildings of Cognac Old Town, stroll along the Charente riverside, and admire the medieval Tours Saint Jacques and Château de Cognac.

Distance from Bordeaux: 75 miles (120 km).

How to get there: Take the train from Bordeaux (1-hour 30 minutes) or drive (1-hour 40 minutes). 

Don’t miss: An expert-led tasting at a Cognac distillery.  

5. Cap-Ferret

Curling around the northern shore of Arcachon Bay, this forested peninsula is dotted with oyster farms, fishing villages, and sandy beaches. Escape the crowds of Arcachon for a coastal walk along secluded stretches of beach, hire a bike to explore the wooded trails, or go kayaking around the bay. 

You’ll need a car to explore the peninsula on a day trip, and there’s plenty to fill your itinerary. Skip between the villages of Grand-Piquey, Piraillan, and L’Herbel; visit Cap-Ferret lighthouse; then drive all the way to the Pointe du Cap-Ferret for a view of the Dune du Pilat. 

Distance from Bordeaux: 30 miles (50 km).

How to get there:  Drive to Lège-Cap-Ferret (1 hour) or take the bus (2 hours).  

Don’t miss: A bike ride along the wild coastal peninsula.

6. Bergerac & Sainte Foy la Grande

Medieval monuments, river views and fine wines compete for attention in Bergerac, where you can set sail on a traditional barge along the Dordogne River, go wine tasting at a historic château or visit the quirky Musée de Tabac (Tobacco Museum). 

En route to Bergerac, the medieval town of Sainte Foy la Grande makes an obvious stop-off, especially on a Saturday when it hosts one of the region’s most popular markets. Leave yourself time to explore the riverside bastide town, enjoy lunch at a terrace café, or stroll along the quay.

Distance from Bordeaux: 75 miles (120 km) to Bergerac.

How to get there: Drive to Sainte Foy la Grande (1 hour 30 minutes), then continue to Bergerac (30 minutes).

Don’t miss: Market day in Sainte Foy la Grande.

7. Sarlat-la-Canéda & Périgord Noir

Natural wonders and picturesque villages await exploration in the neighbouring Dordogne, and the Périgord Noir is our top pick for a day trip. Saturday is market day in Sarlat-la-Caneda, one of the region’s most impressively preserved medieval towns, and it’s the ideal place to sample regional specialities, including truffles, foie gras, Rocamadour cheese, and nougat.  

Along the way, stop by the Lascaux Caves to admire the prehistoric cave paintings, and visit the villages of La Roque-Gageac, Beynac-et-Cazenac, and Saint-Amand-de-Coly, all classified among “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (France’s Most Beautiful Villages).

Distance from Bordeaux: 120 miles (190 km).

How to get there: Drive to Sarlat-la-Canéda (about 2.5 hours).

Don’t miss: The medieval town of Sarlat-la-Canéda. 

8. Biarritz & Basque Country

The Spanish border lies within a short drive of Bordeaux, and a foray into French Basque Country reveals a whole different side of French culture. Sunny Biarritz is the top draw for surfers, where you can take a surf class, hike the coast of the Bay of Biarritz, and admire the views from Biarritz lighthouse. Stick around for a seafood dinner at the Port des Pêcheurs (Fishermen’s port). 

If you can tear yourself away from the beach, a tour of the surrounding Basque villages should also include highlights such as the Caves of Sare and a ride on the Petit Train de la Rhune.

Distance from Bordeaux: 125 miles (200 km)

How to get there: Take the train from Bordeaux via Pessac (2 hours 30 minutes) or drive (2 hours 15 minutes)

Don’t miss: A surf class (or at least a swim) at Biarritz’ Grande Plage.

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