What does a bloody desert have to do with Bordeaux, right? Nothing indeed. But this post isn’t just about Bordeaux, it’s about the town’s surroundings too. In fact, I might as well start with the ‘desert’ in the picture – also known as La Dune du Pilat (the Dune of Pilat).
About 65 kilometres from Bordeaux lies what is Europe’s biggest sand dune. That in itself was enough to get us curious, so we jumped into our car and drove to our sandy destination. Now, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but August might not be the best time to visit one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region. What should have been an hour’s drive, turned into almost three hours because we weren’t the only ones intrigued by this sand phenomenon.
Once we’d arrived, parking the car wasn’t too bad (tip: don’t drive all the way up to the official Dune parking area, try to find a spot next to the road and walk the last bit) and before we knew it we were climbing this massive pile of sand. Despite the many tourists, the place didn’t feel too crowded; the Dune is so big, there’s more than enough sand for everyone to find a spot and enjoy the view. Speaking of which, the view really is nice, you can look over the Atlantic Ocean and also see the neighbouring Bassin d’Arcachon (the Bay of Arcachon).
If it wasn’t for the peak season, we’d definitely gone to check out the famous Cap Ferret as well, maybe we’d even spent a night there. But spontaneously deciding to do so in August is almost impossible, people book months in advance. If you happen to be in the area before – or after – the busy season though, do visit Cap Ferret!
Bordeaux definitely has its fair share of impressive plazas, fountains, and architecture. It’s pleasant just to walk around and see what kind of prettiness is waiting for you around the next corner.
When roaming around Bordeaux, a stroll to the river is mandatory of course, as is having a few glasses of wine – the number one thing both the city and the area surrounding it – are famous for. If you enjoy wine and you have a day to spare, go to St. Émilion. You’ll find plenty of wine caves there that you can visit. Some of them are free, others will ask you to pay a small entrance fee – or buy a bottle of wine when the tour is over.
After a day in Saint Émilion, when you’re tired and feel like a nice, French dinner, without heaps of noisy tourists, you should go to Le Bistrot des Capucins. It’s a typical bistrot that uses super fresh products and has classics like steak and foie gras on the menu. The owner made sure he went to see every table and had a little chat with all of his guests. Most importantly though, the place has good food, great wine and a nice atmosphere. If you want an authentic French bistrot experience – outside the touristy area -this is where you want to go!
There are many, so many, more things to do. You can drive further land inwards, towards Bergerac for example, and visit some beautiful chateaux (castles) in the area. Or you could go further down along the coast, to Mimizan, known for its good surfing conditions. So whether it is wine, culture, nature, or sports you like, one thing’s for certain: you’ll find it in and around Bordeaux.