Visit Gironde, France
Gironde, in south-west France, has much to offer the visitor: from the grand city of Bordeaux to Dune de Pilat, the largest sand dune in Europe, and from 'classical' coastal resorts like Arcachon to the famous wines of the Medoc and Saint-Emilion vineyards.
Selected places to visit in Gironde
Highlights in Gironde, Aquitaine
Gironde is situated in north-west Aquitaine, south-west France. The Gironde can be seen as falling into three distinct separate areas: Bordeaux itself; the coast around Arcachon and running northwards along the Medoc peninsula; and the wine regions of Gironde including the eastern Medoc, much of the area around Bordeaux, and east to Saint-Emilion (heading towards the Dordogne department)
Cote d'Argent - western Gironde
Head west from Bordeaux to reach Arcachon and - a charming, turn of the century coast resort, with an interesting variety of architecture and access to some very well known attractions - such as the Dune de Pilat, largest sand dune in Europe.
The dune is found at the northern end of the great forest of the Landes, the largest forest in Europe and also home to the Natural Regional Park of Landes and Gascony, that follows the Leyre river south-east from Arcachon. There are many opportunities for walking, cycling etc while canoeing is also popular on the Leyre itself.
The 'big attraction' to both the north and south of Arcachon in Gironde is the easy access to the Atlantic coast - extending for over 120 kilometres and known as the Cote d'Argent - and the numerous attractive beaches and resorts, including the well known resort of Lacanau.
At the northern end of the Cote d'Argent region you can visit the resort at Soulac-sur-Mer (see also the 12th century abbey-church, while a few of the other popular towns and resorts along theis long stretch of coast in gironde include Carcans, Hourtin and Montalivet, Andernos, and others along the Cap-Ferret peninsula.
Just inland from the coast there are a series of extensive lakes, formed from water 'trapped' behind the sand dunes. These include the lakes of Hourtin-Carcans, Lacanau, Parentis, Aureilhan and Cazaux. Leisure industries have developed around these lakes, based on sailing and lake beaches (which avoid the dramatic waves of the Atlantic beaches).
The highlight of the region is perhaps Bordeaux itself - city of culture, UNESCO world heritage site, new transport system...the city has changed almost beyond recognition in recent years, and is rapidly becoming one of the most interesting and attractive cities in France - see our detailed Bordeaux travel guide
In the centre of Gironde quite close to Bordeaux there are a couple of castles of note: a fine castle with a big moat at Chateau de la Brede and also Chateau de Malle, with Italian style gardens that are a classified historic monument. Further south, the Château de Roquetaillade is also worth visiting. You will also find three listed French National Monuments in Gironde: see visitor information at Chateau Cadillac, Abbey de la Sauve-Majeure, and the very ancient cave decorations at Cave Pair-non-Pair
See our detailed city guide at Bordeaux.
Vineyards of Gironde
The Bordeaux region 'hall of fame' for vineyards includes Medoc, Bordeaux Superieur, Fronsac, Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, and Entre-Deux-Mers among others) with the Bergerac region immediately to the east. Clearly there is much for wine enthusiasts to enjoy!
The 'centre' of the Medoc wine industry in Gironde, with several very famous wine chateaux, is based around Margaux and Pauillac. While here visit also the village of Vertheuil, with its abbey and castle.
Running along the eastern edge of the Medoc peninsula you can follow the Route des Chateaux du Medoc...and sample the local wine of course. If names such as Petrus, Margaux and Chateau Lafite-Rothschild interest you there are many fine wine chateaux that you will enjoy visiting in the region
East of Bordeaux a particularly lovely town can be seen at Saint-Emilion, a beautiful historical town (listed as a UNESCO World heritage Site), running up the hill and looking out across the Gironde vineyards, with a very great reputation for its wine.
Other Gironde highlights
Some other places of interest in Gironde include the historical centre of Libourne and a visit to the bastide town at Sainte-Foy-la-Grande - from here find the time to follow the scenic road along the southern edge of the Dordogne river that leads to Pessac, stopping at Eynesse along the way. See also another traditional 13th century bastide town at Monsegur.
Other suggested visits in this region include the historic town of La Reole, the bastide town at Sauveterre-de-Guyenne and the Abbey of Saint Ferme - see Pellegrue for details - these towns follow the Dropt river valley. Further south you can visit the cathedral at Bazas.
International visitors to Gironde usually arrive at Bordeaux airport
See a list of all Gironde communes
Map of Gironde
French version: Gironde (Francais)