Brocantes, they’re the stylish French equivalent of the British car boot sale – and they’re fascinating! Full to the brim of traditional French treats for home, garden, wardrobe and toy chest. Read our latest blog to help you get the most out of your next visit to a Brocante. Plus details of our exclusive Brocante shopping weekend in October.Read More
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There might be a chill in the air but we think it's the perfect time of year to step away from the keyboard, put down the smartphone, and look out at the world. Get outside and spend your days breathing in fresh-air! Here’s what to do in and around beautiful Bordeaux.
Get on your bike
If you’re ready to uncover the marvels of Bordeaux city, start on your bike. Bordeaux By Bike provide smart guides and fun rides across the destination. Bordeaux was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002, and has since been transformed. The city uses ‘soft transportation’ with the Tram and extensive bicycle paths allowing a stress-free way to get around and soak up the history. Bordeaux By Bike currently have 6 different routes to choose from.
Wander the vines
Wine, it’s what Bordeaux is famous for and the main business sector here. With over 117,000 hectares of vineyards in the region, there are many tours to choose from. Popular tours include: the Rustic Vines Napoleon tour, Bordovino tours, and Ophorus’ Bordeaux vineyard tours. Many tours are very welcoming of children, particularly Chateau Soutard with its mini train and ‘safari trek’.
Visit the Zoo de Pessac
A zoo trip – it’s the ideal family day out! At Zoo de Pessac, be taken on a journey from Africa to South America and Asia – meeting lions, tigers, giraffes, pandas, tapirs, and even dinosaurs. This zoo is well laid out with plenty of shade for on those hot and sticky summer days.
Visit Place des Quinconces
Soak up Bordeaux’s culture and history at this expansive city square, one of the largest in Europe. The principal monument (Le Monument aux Girondins) featuring bronze horses and French Revolution troop is remarkable, and there are several other sculptures to captivate.
Climb the Great Dune of Pyla
If you’re looking for a challenge, take a trip southwest of Bordeaux to the Great Dune of Pyla rising 351ft above the beautiful Arcachon Bay. Not one for little children, here you can tackle a sandy hike up to incredible views or try your hand at ‘sandboarding’ (or snowboarding in the winter).
Make a splash at the Miroir d'Eau
Opposite the Place de la Bourse, the Miroir d’Eau translates as ‘reflecting pool’ and you’ll soon see why. This unique installation has water periodically recede underground and return as a mist that your children will adore to wander through. If it’s a hot day, don’t be surprised if you spend over an hour here!
Family fun at ‘Ferme de Exotique de Cadaujac’
Another excellent animal attraction in the Bordeaux region, the Cadaujac exotic farm has over 1,000 animals of different types and origins. Other highlights the children will love, include: horse and pony rides, camel rides, mini train rides, donkey-drawn carriage rides, circus shoe and carousel.
Explores the Landes de Gascogne
The natural landscapes surrounding the city of Bordeaux certainly aren’t the most adventurous of Southern France, but the Landes de Gascogne is a nice base to play explorers. It covers 315 hectares of hiking and horse-riding opportunities, and has a bird sanctuary in which over 300,000 migratory birds take rest.
Hit the waves at Lacanau
If you’re in the mood to get wet and have a laugh (or show off your natural talent) try your hand at surfing on the coastline of Lacanau – considered to be one of the best surfing spots in the whole of Europe! In the summer water temperatures can reach a very comfortable 21c.
Cruise the Garonne
Another chance to take to the waters, why not spend a day canoeing/kayaking on the Garonne River? Or take a more leisurely approach and book a spot on a river cruise ship – much more appealing for those who’d otherwise be hung up on trying not to capsize!
Marvel at Église Sainte-Croix
If you want to take in the history of Bordeaux city, don’t miss the early 12th century Église Sainte-Croix (Church of the Holy Cross). You can take a pleasant walk from the old town along Cours Victor Hugo and arrive here for a photo opportunity – and if you fancy, a look inside too. Look out for the imposing Grand Organ.
Browse the Marché des Quais
Take a stroll along the riverside with a stop by this charming producer’s market. This lovely weekly market takes places every Sunday from 7am-4pm and offers edibles, crafts, books, and more. (Food stalls close at 1pm).
If you thought our French holiday home rentals were suited purely to those who want a lazy break away, think again. While I relish the chance to escape and do nothing much but soak up the sunshine, what I love about the Dordogne is there’s so much to uncover! No matter how ready-to-relax we’re feeling, it’s hard to resist a venture to take in the historic charm of the region. Here’s a look at the gems worth considering on your trip:
Bergerac Old Town
Situated on the northern bank of Dordogne River, look out for the signs for ‘Vieille Ville’ if you want to discover the old town of Bergerac. Here you will find both the 12th Century Old Cloister, Maison de Vins de Bergerac (home to the Bergerac wine exhibition!) and the half-timbered Medieval designs on Rue St Clar. Each ready to take you straight back to a time long gone.
If walking through the Medieval street warrens of Bergerac isn’t your thing, make sure you seek out the beauty of Monpazier. This stunning French town was founded by Edward I in 1284; Monpazier is home to a mix of Medieval, Classical, and Bourgeoise architecture and has a historic market hall complete with the original weighing and measuring equipment used on it's establishment. Step inside and vividly imagine the olden hustle and bustle, order a coffee and watch the world go by.
Hanging Gardens Of Jardins De Marqueyssac
Chateau de Marqueyssac was built in the 17th century at Vezac, Dordogne. But it wasn’t until the 1860’s that new owner, Julien de Cervel, chose to plant and carve thousands of boxwood trees – creating an eccentric landscape of rounded hedges. History books say the garden lost its appeal during the centuries (read: lost its attentive gardeners!) and it wasn’t until the 90s it was restored with a water feature. It is simply stunning and a must for any green fingered enthusiasts.
13th Century Hilltop Domme
History buffs and avid ramblers, make a point of visiting the enchanting fortified town of Domme with its cliffside promenade and breath-taking views across the Dordogne valley. You’ll also find a 17th century covered market hall and historic wall carvings at the gate towers. An interesting spot for history-reluctant youngsters who love graffiti at home!
More ancient wall art can be found at the famous Lascaux caves. These Palaeolithic cave paintings are thought to be around 20,000 years old. Featuring large animals once found in the Dordogne region. A true bucket list visit.
Château de Bridoire
Located in the heart of the vineyards of Monbazillac, Château de Bridoire is 12 km south of Bergerac and only 20 minutes from our beautiful La Verger villa. The château is open for visitors in which you can wander the historic furnished receptions rooms, preserved kitchens (complete with gleaming copper pans) and vast living room with knights in armour! In the château’s garden, discover the medieval games which both children and grown-ups will love. Or immerse yourself in the labyrinth forest, a two-hour walk with puzzles and conundrums along the way – a favourite spot my boys never tire of.
Nestled at the foot of a ragged cliff, picturesque La Roque-Gageac looks like a model village from a far. Arguably one of the most beautiful villages in France, you’ll be able to capture postcard perfect holiday snaps as you stroll the line of golden yellow houses upon the river. One of the best ways to see this town is by boat or canoe. A brilliant family day out and if you take a picnic you can stop along the way and enjoy the views. Look up the cliffside and see the troglodyte fort if you want to go further back in time!
Issigeac is another medieval highlight. Always particularly popular on a Sunday morning, this village hosts one of the best markets in the area, especially for fresh produce. So take your wicker baskets! In July and August, there is also a Marché nocturne (their fabulous night market) held every Thursday from 7pm. And if that’s not enough, Issigeac is home to the Foire aux Paniers et à la Vannerie (a willow weaving festival held in July, where you can buy baskets, gorgeous ornaments, and plants for the garden) and Medieval Day (August) a parade where locals dress in medieval clothing and entertain the crowds with the likes of jugglers and street theatre.
Château de Castelnaud
Find a spot to perch and take in the grandeur of Château de Castelnaud, Dordogne’s most famous Chateau. If you’ve got the kids in tow, they’ll love to pretend they’re Knights & Crusaders as you march around the defences and see the replica trebuchets which are often in demonstration firing various items from cabbages to balls.
Another glorious stop-off just a few kilometres north of the River Dordogne is Sarlat-la-Canéda (or just Sarlat if you’re a local). Wander the winding Rue des Consuls, pass the south-eastern Cathedral, and enjoy the Place de Payrou. Time your visit nicely and there’s no better spot for a breakfast coffee; as early morning sunshine hits the yellow sandstone buildings expect to see the town at its finest. It’s the perfect illustration of Dordogne’s enchanting history – and a great example of why we love it here!