I've spent a majority of my life traveling around Europe in a VW Campervan, and the only place I wish I had never left was this wonderful campsite south of Bordeaux. It's a prime location for surfers, foodies and hikers alike. The weather is beautiful throughout the summer - and you're allowed BBQs. And what's best, the beach is only a minute's walk, and thanks to the dunes, you can't hear a thing of the (rather tame) beach parties in the night. Fresh fish it served at the local restaurants at a very reasonable price for such good French food.
A cafe/bistro just next door to the Musee d'Aquitaine. Friendly service, bright, pleasant decor and an excellent lunch menu.
It's possibly the coolest place I've ever been. Sitting in my VW campervan, surfboards everywhere, drinking cold beer and listening to the ocean crash a few metres away - you can't go wrong. I made friends at this place that I'll have for the rest of my life. It's less than a minute walk to the beach where you can see that most spectacular sunsets and eat fresh fish until you explode. Although it's off the beaten track and basically unknown to most people, it really is a wonderful place where everyone will feel at home.
Had a fantastic long weekend in Bordeaux recently and spent a day touring vineyards with Caroline of Bordeaux Uncorked.
It felt like the obligatory thing to do (when in Rome, etc) but the wealth of local knowledge and personal service provided by Caroline really made the whole trip for us. I don't think we would have had access to many of the vineyards on our own and having Caroline greeted everywhere by first name made us feel like we were visiting old friends, with very impressive chateaux and wine cellars!
Highlights of the trip: Chateau Figeac and it's ancient cellars. Also recommend lunch in the courtyard at L'Envers du Décor in Saint Emilion.
In Bordeaux itself, pay a visit to Max Bordeaux - a must if you love wine but restricted by budget. Here you can taste some of the most expensive wines by the (small) glass. Taste the liquid gold of Chateau Yquem for under €15? Not a problem. Thanks Bordeaux Uncorked!
We spent a fantastic week in September on a wine lover's tour with cyclebordeaux.co.uk. Not being seasoned cyclists, we did do some mild training beforehand, but were still a little nervous before we started. Our worries were unfounded; we started gently with a long cycling path which led us through countryside studded with chateaux and the occasional and welcome old railway station converted to a pub. We also came across a jazz festival in a field with stalls selling food, gorgeous cheeses and wine; whole families were gathered with bikes in the hundreds - amazing! The remainder of the tour was mostly road based but we were directed through small villages with sleepy squares and through myriads of vineyards waving their luscious grapes as we passed. The terrain was moderate and we managed it surprisingly easily and were gutted when the week was up.
We have just returned from a 10 day holiday at this park. Firstly some couples and families were arriving, without hiring a car, after flying over. You need a car for this one. Excellent site though. Lovely clean pool with water slides, unheated. Also a heated pool on the other side of the camp. Staff were all friendly, especially the Canvas staff (Rochin and Rocco) helped us out whenever we asked.
The on camp shop can be a little expensive so make sure you are stocked up although it is handy for the fresh baguettes and croissants every morning. The on site bar and restaurant is ok if you can't be bothered cooking one night. Again you need a car to explore the local area. Biarritz is fab for beaches and surfing. It can be a little more expensive to eat out there so take supplies onto the beach if you’re there all day for the sun and surf. St Jean de Luz is also a lovely town to visit. Lots of old architecture, golden beaches and restaurants to explore.
We have just completed our second tour with this exceptional company. They organised us a convertible car this time around to add a little extra fun.
Their knowledge of wine and gastronomy of the area is unparalleled and their high level of attention to detail and tailoring the tour to your specific requirements is why we returned a second time.
This time we focussed our wine discoveries in the Medoc area as we didn't have time to visit it properly the first time. We also enjoyed a day's private cookery class which was fantastic fun. If we ever return I think we'll go the full hog and ask for their chauffeured services when we go vineyard hopping.
Wine tasting holidays aren’t just for wine buffs with a lot of money to burn! Last year, my girlfriend and I drove around Bordeaux with a tent and a stove and managed to eat great food and taste a lot of excellent wine on a very little budget.
The vineyard owners welcome you in with open arms and at no point did we feel pressured to buy the wines we tasted. If you let on your ignorance, rather than sneering, most owners proudly launch into a long presentation about their wines, their grapes and their history.
If you are on a budget, going around Bordeaux and France’s other wine regions is probably the best way to taste wines that usually you wouldn’t be able to afford.
The tourist centre is amazingly helpful and will provide you with all the maps, routes, or any other information you might need.
Idyllic converted 18th-century grape press chock-a-block with tasteful antiques hand-picked by the owners. The gardens are beautiful, as is the local aperitif 'Pineau' that used to be made there. A true oasis!
While touring through France, make sure you leave your passport in Bordeoux while travelling on to your next gig in Montpellier.
Get refused entry on a cramped, horrible Easy Jet flight to Luton or wherever. Then spend the next half a day travelling by train through some of the most beautiful wine regions to get home.
Was a little miffed at first to spend my gig money on the return trip, but the experience of 'flying' through the french country side, washing down a 'Parisienne' with a good Bordeoux while chatting to beautiful french ladies.... Sorry Easy Jet, it just doesnt compare.
A great way to travel to Bordeaux is to take the Eurostar to Lille and then simply change platforms and get a 4 hours TGV to Bordeaux Gare St. Jean.
No one does better 'steak frites' than the L'Entrecote restaurant on the Cours de 30 juillet. For around 15 euros you can dine on the best steak frites going served with a delicious sauce that is a closely guarded secret and accompanied by a nice bottle of the local plonk.
It may not seem very orginal but the sheer popularity of this place with locals and visitors alike is testament to how good it is.
For a restful break in stunning countryside, we can highly recommend Les Anes de Vassivière, just outside Peyrat-le-Château in the department of Haute-Vienne, in the Limousin region.
There's a website (see below) with a superb selection of moer than 5,000 other farms throughout France, offering a variety of services.
400 of these farms have camping of one sort or another.
Les Anes de Vassivière,
Immaculate self-catering French farmhouse and gites set in beautiful countryside in Deux Sevres region.
We had a couple of great family holidays here.
Great pool and facilities.
Near Poitiers / La Rochelle airports, so easy to get to.
100% recommended, we will go back again!
Approx 7km outside Chef Boutonne. Nearest airport is Poitiers.
I surf on the south-west of France in Messanges south beach.
I recommend a surf school based in camping d'Albret plage.
Messanges South Beach
Camping d'albret plage
on 00 33 6 78 79 74 40
In the UK we turn our old churches into bars and clubs, in Bordeaux the church St Simeon has become Utopia, an arty cinema.
I wouldn't normally go to the cinema when I'm abroad, but Utopia would have to be an exception. It has a good cafe and five screens showing good films from all over - France, the UK, the US, Bosnia, Algeria, Hungary, Italy, Egypt, Iran, Tunisia, Japan, Finland, Mongolia, Spain, Romania, and China were all represented by films within a couple of months when I last checked. The architecture of many of the salles just adds to the atmosphere and convinces you that you are somewhere special. Films are normally subtitled.
5 place Camille Jullian
The Grand Theatre hosts the National Opera of Bordeaux, with a season of opera, ballet and classical music running largely from September to June. The building itself is beautiful and ornate.
Concerts en balade are held on the first Sunday of every month and have a uniform seat price of 5 euros. They usually take place in the morning or early afternoon and cover music from Mozart to Messaien and Holst to Haydn. You can reserve online.
Place de la Comédie
The Musée d'art Contemporain can be found near the Jardin Public just to the north of the city centre. The building it is situated in is an old 19th century spice warehouse and is very atmospheric, often with imposing and grand exhibitions being shown in the largest hall.
It also has a fantastic cafe -though rather soulless inside the building, it extends onto a sunny terrace. It is often quiet, feels very private and they serve coffee on a fancy plate, often with a slice of cake.
Open daily but Monday from 11am until 6pm.
7 rue Ferrère
Tel : +33 5 5600 8150.
This restaurant is situated near the Grand Théatre, off the place de la Comédie. It is popular, often with queues of customers waiting outside the door at busy times. They will eventually be shown to a table on one of four floors of the restaurant. There is only one main course available - steak with fries, salad and the famous l'entrecote sauce at sixteen euros. And diners only choice of wine is between red and rosé - something of a relief if you're a little tired of being pretentious about wine.
This isn't French dining for the purists - there are plenty of wonderful restaurants in Bordeaux to try, and if you're only going out for one meal in Bordeaux please go to La Tupina. It is, admittedly, part of a very small chain of restaurants throughout France. However, it is affordable, fun, very popular and the steak is yummy.
L'Entrecote, 4 Cours du 30 juillet.
Tel : +33 5 56 81 76 10.
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