Trek Notes - France

Vineyards of Bordeaux 8 Day

Cycling through Gironde: Entre-Deux-Mers

Mention Bordeaux and you will spark thoughts all around the world of good wine. As you travel through the vineyards by bike on carefully chosen routes you will experience much more of the Gironde. Unique castles will catch your eye, rivers meander their way across beautiful countryside, the unspoilt Natural Park, oyster beds and the Atlantic coast add a multitude of dimensions to your journey.

This is an easy-going, hotel-based on-road cycle tour exploring the delights of the Gironde region. Best known for the vineyards that produce Bordeaux wines, this area that stretches south of the Dordogne and west to the Atlantic also harbours shady forests, the Gironne River, quaint rural villages and enormous sand dunes on the coast. Apart from the rolling nature of some of the vineyards, the ride is generally flattish and covers modest daily distances. There will be plenty of time for relaxing, looking around and perhaps having a few long lunches. All in all it is a leisurely tour for enjoying the ample delights of rural France - and especially the great Bordeaux cru.

Our first night is spent in Capian in a hotel that is part of a wine estate where you can taste the produce with your first evening meal. Next morning hop on to the saddle and venture out through the Bastide towns of Cadillac and Chateau Malrome (where Toulouse Lautrec lived) and into vineyards of Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux and Cotes de Bordeaux to St Macaire. Here is a medieval cité with wine 'caves' to explore and superb views of the Gironne. Crossing the Gironne we head toward the Landes Natural Park, following the River Ciron, but not before exploring the vineyards of Sauternes, most renowned of which is Chateau d'yquem. Day four takes us into the forest and a day of easy cycling among the pines with a fabulous picnic spot by the lake. Later look forward to your evening meal that will be served by Monsieur Bourrissoux on his terrace shaded by vines and cooled by a fountain. Riding on, the forest thins and the smell of the sea gets stronger as we reach a bird sanctuary by the Bay of Arcachon. Following the coast and detour for a climb to the top of Europe's highest sand dune. It is worth it for the views. Arcachon is a sophisticated, chic resort, built on a lagoon west of Bordeaux. Its fine, sandy beach is bordered by a tamarisk-shaded promenade, with views across to the beaches of Cap Ferret.

There are two full days to explore from Arcachon, time to try the cycle track that leads around the bay visiting the villages in this nature reserve and quiet sandy beaches. Also not to be missed is a ferry to whisk you and your bike across the bay to Cap Ferret where the wealthy Bordelais play and to the oyster village of L'Herbe. This is the centre of France's oyster production and from these beds come the best you can get; if you have never tried them this is your chance.


Start any day April - Mid October

Level of Difficulty

Grade B (Moderate cycling), over flattish terrain - can be warm. Day stages 32 to 54km. The terrain is relatively flat, with short climbs out of the river valleys onto the intervening vineyard areas.  This makes cycling easy and enjoyable.

The Bikes

On this tour bike hire is included in the tour price and no security deposit is required.

The bikes are 21-speed hybrid bikes equipped with  aluminium frame, lock, saddlebag, pump, basic repair kit, waterholder and key lock.  You can bring youngish children on this tour as the bike supplier can provide a trailer.  Helmets are also included if you want them, but we would recommend that for sizing and hygiene reasons  that  you bring  your own. Please bring your own drinks bottle.   Road assistance will be given in the event of serious breakage or damage.

Before travelling, we will need to be advised your height and inside leg measurements, so that we can organize for the correct bikes to be available for your arrival.

Itinerary Guide

     Day 1.  Arrive in Bordeaux and transfer to Capian is  included. The starting point of the tour is Capian, near to Bordeaux. You arrive at the railway station or the airport and you will be transferred to the first hotel where you will be warmly received. You will need to give us details of arrival times and locations etc, if you are a ‘Land only' customer. You will also get your route book, bike and any extra documentation there. The area is in the middle of the wine growing area and dinner will be served in the company of your hosts.

    Day 2. Capian to  Saint macaire 35km approx. This ride takes you into the ‘Entre -Deux-Mer' area. Cycling through  the Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux winegrowing area. You get some superb views of the Garonne River and visit the charming old merchant town called Saint Macaire as well as Cadillac where you can visit former residences of the artist Henri Toulouse - Lautrec and the writer Francois Mauriac.  This is an old ‘bastide' town and the chateau is worth a look.

     Day 3.  Saint Macaire to Origne 53km approx.  From the village you cross to the left bank of the Garonne river, the tour follows the twisting roads through the World famous vines of the  Sauternes area, including the  jewel in its crown - ‘Chateau Yquem.'  You pedal onto Budos then through valleys carved out by the River Ciron to Leogats and Nouaillan, then onto Balizac where you enter the ‘Landes de Gascogne regional Nature Park,' before reaching Origne.

     Day 4. Origne to Le Barp 32 km approx.  Today's ride takes you throughout the Regional Nature Park. You will be riding along a lovely little forest road offering great scenic variety and taking you westwards. Heading towards Louchats, the pine forest becomes denser and the scent of pine resin richer. Leave your bike at the site of the lagoons of Gat -Mort.  Hosten Lake offers plenty of shade by the shore, perfect for an afternoon nap!  A cycling track will then take you between pine trees and heather, to the small road leading to Le Barp.

      Day 5. Le Barp to the bay of Arcachon and the ocean. 51 km. Today you begin with a gentle cycle ride along the cycling track to Mios, where you join a minor road as the pine forest gradually thins. Crossing over the railway line takes you to Le Teich where the park meets the sea.  You can have a look around the ornithological park and take a break. From here then take the coastal path, with the salt from the bay under your wheels and follow the scent of the sea air to Gujan-Mestras. A link road will connect you with the minor forest road taking you as far as the Atlantic Seaboard. There you can pay a visit to the Dune du Pyla, where you can leave your bike and climb to the top of the highest dune in Europe with great views from the top. Then in your own time roll along to your hotel.

    Day 6. Around Cap Ferret. Today you can take the boat with your bike to cross Arcachon to reach the cap Ferret and ride on the other side of the bay.  Leave your bike to walk up to the top of the lighthouse and then pedal on to reach the very pretty village of l'herbe, some reservoirs and the ‘Tapper's Shack.' You must however be careful not to miss the last boat departure back across the bay to return to the hotel.

     Day 7. Into the Domaine de Certes in Audenge.  Leave Arcachon and take the cycling track via the port of La Teste. Leave the track and visit the 7 oyster ports of Gujan Mestras. This minor road runs around the bay. Then head back to your hotel for your last night.

     Day 8.  End of Tour. After breakfast take the train back from Arcachon to Bordeaux, for flight or rail connections (not included approx 9 E).

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