A Road Trip Through Bordeaux and Dordogne's Nature and Wine Country

5 Days | Self-Drive Trips & Tours, Wine & Food

A Car Opens Up Outdoor Possibilities in Bordeaux and Dordogne

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A self-drive trip is a fantastic way to explore what makes the area around Bordeaux so special. Spend a couple of nights in town before heading out to the countryside. This suggested itinerary takes you to sample Saint-Émilion grand crus and invites you to explore the region’s cuisine with a cooking class. It finishes with three nights in the incomparable Arcachon. It’s an outdoor paradise with the towering Dune du Pilat, Arcachon Bay, and the Gascogne Regional Nature Park.

Day by Day

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Day 1: Bordeaux

Pick Up Rental Car

Upon your arrival, a rental car will be at your disposal for the length of your stay (5 days). Thus, you can move freely and comfortably. On the day of departure, you will drop off the vehicle.

Private street Art in the Chartrons guided tour

Come and discover one of the most picturesque areas of Bordeaux in a different light, thanks to a variety of Street artists. Follow your guide from the Garonne riverside straight to the heart of the Chartrons to understand how this unmissable district of the city has become a popular hub for Bordelais and street artists alike.

Former wine-trading quarter coveted for its proximity to the quays of Bordeaux’s port, the Chartrons started to develop north of the city center in the 17th century. This renowned faubourg, initially distinct from Bordeaux, became increasingly prosperous, often attracting a foreign population with a very different identity than the city’s inhabitants. So, it’s not actually that surprising that various street artists, whose expression of art is somewhat non-standard, seized the walls of the Chartrons, a district full of charm, stories to tell, and surfaces to paint.

From the quays of the Garonne to the antique dealers of Rue Notre Dame, whilst passing by the old wine storehouses, you will observe the work of renowned artists such as Clet, A-MO, Mr. Poulet, and Alber. This artistic exploration of the Chartrons, sprinkled with history and anecdotes is the perfect way to (re)discover this charming area in a fun and original manner.

Garonne River Dinner Cruise

Discover Bordeaux’s beautiful UNESCO-recognized waterfront and architecture while enjoying dinner aboard the restaurant boat, Sicambre.

The menu is inspired by traditional southwestern French cuisine. It is prepared onboard using local, seasonal ingredients. Explore the terroir of this region, reputed as perhaps the best corner of France for foodies.

Overnight Stay with Breakfast in a Historic 4-star Boutique Hotel in the Center of Bordeaux

Day 2: Arcachon

Oyster Picking in Bassin d’Arcachon with a Local Producer

Enjoy a warm and original reception from the actual grower and sensory exploration of a wonderful universe, the oyster beds, farming methods, and “au naturel” oyster tasting.

The oyster farmer will welcome you about 3 hours before the low tide starts. After a peaceful boat ride, you will reach the farm where he will show you how the oysters are bred. You will then have the opportunity to bring back to shore a few oysters for an exciting tasting experience along with the farmer.

Our professional guide will be there to advise you on weather conditions.

Suggestion: Visit Arcachon

The tranquil Arcachon Bay emerged as a luxury retreat for Bordeaux’s rich in the 19th century. Most foreigners never make it, but that’s a mistake. The elegant belle epoque villas, rejuvenating spas, and expansive golden sandy beaches make it a favorite of the French. The largest sand dune in Europe, the Dune de Pilat, is an impressive site with even better views from the top.

The main attractions in Arcachon are the miles of sandy beaches, the vibrant town center and its markets, and the architecture of the ville d’hiver that boasts rows of belle epoque mansions. There’s an eccentric mix of neoclassical, neo-gothic, colonial, and Swiss chalet styles. In the 19th century, this winter town competed with Alpine retreats as a sanatorium for tuberculosis sufferers.

Arcachon’s beaches are on Arcachon Bay, sheltering them from violent Atlantic waves. This makes it a wonderful area for families with children. Head south towards Biscarrosse for waves, surfing, and body-boarding.

The seafood restaurants in Arcachon are of course particularly popular from classic Bistrot fare like Moules Frites (mussels and fries) along the beach to fine dining restaurants a few blocks into town. Foodies would be remiss to not try the oysters.

This is a great area for cycling. Rent a bike to take advantage of the 18-mile trail to Biscarrosse that passes by beaches and through seaside towns. Behind the beaches is the Landes des Gascogne Regional Natural Park, an expansive pine tree forest and wetland area.

An unforgettable paragliding ride above the Dune du Pyla

During this flight, you will have the opportunity to fly over the Dune du Pyla, take the controls of the paraglider, and even feel the effect of the amazing movements made by your instructor.

Once in the air, your face will light up with a wide smile and you will only want to come back down to Earth!

The flight will be adapted according to your feelings of the moment. It is quite possible to make only a quiet ride for the most contemplative, a flight entirely centered on the learning of the piloting for the most curious, or an eventful ride from the beginning to the end for the most daring!

Overnight Stay with Breakfast in a Historic 4-star Boutique Hotel in the Center of Bordeaux

france atlantic coast

Day 3: Bergerac- Les Eyzies

Make your way to Dordogne, on the way, you can stop next to Saint-Emilion for a visit and a tasting. Drink responsively!

Private visit and tasting from the barrel at Clos des Jacobins

Clos des Jacobins is located at the entrance to the medieval village in the heart of Saint-Emilion’s great terroirs. The vineyard has exceptional homogeneity and has existed as one single block of vines planted around the cellars since the 17th century. These vines are situated at the foot of the Saint-Emilion slope, where its clay soils are enhanced by the limestone scree that has eroded from the plateau above. This special location and its south-facing orientation provide a unique, early-ripening, and generous terroir. The cellars have been renovated in their entirety; and the oak vats are temperature-controlled.

This visit will offer you an authentic experience in the heart of the elaboration of a Grand Cru Classé of Saint-Emilion. You will taste the Clos des Jacobins parcels directly in the barrel ageing phase.

A tasting of 3 wines will close this unique and privileged experience.

Suggestion for a stop on the way – Bergerac

Bergerac is Dordogne’s largest wine appellation. This area is home to more than a dozen Appellation d’Origine Contrôlées (AOCs), covering red, white, and rosé variations. The most famous are the white Monbazillac and the deep red Montravel. You can learn all about the region’s fine wines at the Maison des Vins.

The charming city of Bergerac is worth exploring. The Notre Dame and Saint-Jacques Churches are among its highlights. The historic district is characterized by half-timbered houses. The Place Pélissière is a wonderful spot for lunch or a drink. The Musée du Tabac is a curious stop that explores tobacco’s cultural, sociological, and historical impact. It is housed in a 17th-century château.

Overnight and breakfast in a charming 4-Star hotel in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil

Day 4: Sarlat - Montignac - Vezac

Suggestion: Explore Périgord Noir

Explore Perigord Noir. It is impossible to run out of things to see here with its famous castles and villages set in spectacular locations. Sarlat-la-Canéda was the medieval capital of Dordogne and is one of France’s loveliest towns.

Three of the villages here are classified among France’s most beautiful. The setting along the river, ancient village streets, and castle make Beynac-et-Cazenac a real highlight. La Roque-Gageac is a delight with its ancient riverside stone houses. The hilltop village Domme offers fabulous views of Dordogne.

The Château de Montfort is a fairy-tale castle just a few kilometers from Sarlat. With its close attention to historical detail, the Château de Beynac makes for another worthwhile visit. Château de Castelnaud is both a medieval castle and an extensive museum of medieval warfare. It’s a favorite for kids! The nearby 15th-century Château des Milandes is a charming visit too. It is well-known because Josephine Baker made it her home in the 1940s.

One-Hour Small Guided Group Tour of the Lascaux Caves

In a well-known story, the Lascaux caves were discovered in 1940 by a group of teenagers who were searching for their dog. After the end of the second world war the caves were opened to the public, to great acclaim, but then were closed in 1963 because the paintings were damaged by the breath of thousands of visitors.

The cave paintings at Lascaux are mostly pictures of large animals. There are also some carvings of animals to be seen, and a few images of people, most notably in a sequence that seems to represent a bison hunt. In total there are more than 1000 images in the cave system, and their vibrancy and color make them the prehistoric equivalent of the Sistine Chapel – except they were painted in almost complete darkness!

A copy of the caves was created nearby so that visitors to Lascaux could still appreciate the caves. Known as Lascaux II, the ‘reproduction’ caves are a copy of most of the prehistoric paintings contained in the original Lascaux caves, 200 meters away. As far as possible the same materials – natural pigments, etc – and techniques have been used for the copies as for the originals.

Private visit to the Marqueyssac Gardens

In Vezac, the romantic and picturesque gardens of Marqueyssac offer more than 6 kilometers of walks lined with 150,000 hundred-year-old hand-pruned boxwoods and embellished with belvederes, rock gardens, and dry-stone huts.

Your guide will walk you through the first part of the garden, explaining to you everything about the project, the vision of the founder, and how the site is operating nowadays. He/She will also guide you through the mansion, converted now into a museum.

You will then have the time at your disposal to continue the visit by yourself. We recommend you take one of the walks to reach the Belvedere. It offers one of the most impressive panoramas of the Périgord over the valley and its castles.

Overnight and breakfast in a charming 4-Star hotel in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil

Day 5: Monbazillac

Make your way back to Bordeaux, on the way, you can stop next near Bergerac

Entrance to Chateau de Monbazillac

The castle itself is a listed historical monument and dates from the 16th century. It is in an early Renaissance style and is in an attractive wooded setting with far-reaching views across the region.

On visiting the Chateau de Monbazillac there are three floors to explore. Whilst the chateau was built as a defensive chateau with towers, a moat, arrow slits, and battlements, it incorporates the early Renaissance styles of architecture with large windows. The rooms, therefore are lovely light and airy rooms.

End of Our Service

Your journey with us has come to an end. We hope to see you soon!

 

Map

 

About this Trip

    • Enjoy 24/7 English-spoken telephone assistance while traveling
    • This itinerary includes transport, activities, guides, accommodations with breakfasts, and other listed services
    • Price is in USD per person, assuming double occupancy. Note that prices and availability are subject to change.

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Suggested Hotels

Domaine de Raba
Hotel Les Glycines
Hotel Le B d'Arcachon
Hotel de Sèze

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