Home Active Go mad in the Médoc: ten days in France’s great outdoors.

Go mad in the Médoc: ten days in France’s great outdoors.

by David 5th March 2018

It’s a wild and wonderful French region that perhaps isn’t on our radars as much as it deserves to be. A land of clear-water lakes, peaceful pine forests and sandy beaches, it’s also a hot-spot for wine-lovers, foodies and history buffs.

Médoc packs a lot into its borders. So whether you fancy a day at the beach, an afternoon in the vineyards or a wander around an offshore citadel, magical Médoc is hard to beat. So where is it? The Médoc is located in the département of Gironde, on the left bank of the 70km-wide Gironde estuary, just north of Bordeaux. Regular sunshine and soft breezes make for pleasant summer days (and great wines! The very best? Our money goes to the wines centred on the small town of Pauillac, the most intense and plummy of all Bordeaux).

We’ve listed a few of our favourite trips and experiences. Enjoy…

Treat your tastebuds on a regional wine tour
No visit to Bordeaux would be complete without a trip to at least one of its famous vineyards. The Tourist Office organises some great daily trips – giving you the chance to sample the wine at two separate vineyards for around €40 a head, www.bordeaux-tourisme.com. Private tours are also available, arranged via individual producers. Bordovino is one of the most well-known, with details at www.bordovino.com. Or visit charming Saint-Emilion, pic r, a historic wine-producing village with a pretty cluster of ochre-coloured buildings climbing up a hill, with panoramic views of the vineyards that surround it, and a fascinating underground church cut out of the bedrock.
Nearest parc: Le Village Western

Take in the sights and sounds along Bordeaux’s revitalised riverfront
Bordeaux has undergone something of a transformation in recent years – not least along its iconic waterfront, on the banks of the Garonne river. The once-tired old port has been given a new lease of life and now boasts a host of fashionable shops, bars and restaurants – perfect for a lazy lunch, civilised sundowner or an evening stroll. And don’t miss the excellent Wine Museum – La Cite du Vin – it’s such a dramatic building, you can’t miss it. Try the smart yet easygoing charm of Estacade for perfectly-presented seafood, paired with the best regional wines.
Nearest parc: Le Village Western

Test your climbing skills at Dune du Pilat
This amazing natural landform is officially Europe’s largest sand dune – and it’s still growing. Now standing at 107 metres high it’s a great place to sit back and admire the view or to try some climbing and bodyboarding. Nestled between the ocean and a pine forest in Arcachon, Bordeaux, it makes a great base for a longer day out too.
Nearest parc: Cote D’Argent

Enjoy a river cruise – with dinner.
Take a river cruise under the new Jacques Chaban-Delmas’s brige to where the Garonne becomes Gironde, where the city gives way to nature and to the vineyards of Blaye and Médoc. Routes head to the estuary’s islands, and the impressive defensive system of Blaye – the “Bolt of the Estuary”. with three forts, it’s the largest in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the mid-17th century this was the gateway to Bordeaux and the entire province, hence Louis XIV’s determination to transform Blaye into a great fortress. Find out more here.
Nearest parc: Atlantique Parc

Explore Lake Hourtin-Carcans
The largest freshwater lake in France, this is an ideal base for exploring the surrounding forest or indulging in some water sports. Try your hand at windsurfing, kayakking and paddle boating, or chill out with a spot of fishing Younger members of the family will love spending time on Children’s Island, a 10-hectare park that’s ideal for under-12s.
Nearest parc: Cote D’Argent

Relax on the sands or swim in the sea at Lacanau Beach
There are plenty of beaches to choose from here but Lacanau is one of the best for a family-friendly day out. Boasting 14 kilometres of fine, sandy beach, it’s a popular spot with surfers and sea swimmers alike. Pack a picnic or eat seafood by the shore. Parfait!
Nearest parc: Atlantique Parc

Spend a Sunday morning sampling the seafood on the Marché des Quais
Seafood-lovers will be spoilt for choice at this spectacular open-air market. Sundays see the area come to life as tourists and locals come together to sample the best of the weekend’s catch. Choose from fresh oysters, seafood skewers, hand-made crepes and pastries, as well as local Bordeaux delicacy, Canelés Baillardran – a soft pastry made with egg yolk and flavoured with rum or vanilla.
Nearest parc: Cote D’Argent

Go wild at Hourtin Splash Park
Kids will love spending the day at this exhilarating splash park. France’s answer to ‘Total Wipeout’ the outdoor park boasts a massive range of giant inflatables, zip wires and rides to keep children – and adults – amused. Tickets cost €18 for two hours and discounts are available for families and larger groups.
Find out more about times and events here.
Nearest parc: Cote D’Argent

Get a bird’s-eye view of Bordeaux
The Tour Pey-Berland is a Gothic bell tower, watching over the heart of historic Bordeaux. Next to the the Cathedrale Saint-Andre, a climb to the top offers amazing aerial views of the city – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and beyond. Access is via 229 steps so make sure you have plenty of time and energy – and watch out for the ‘wobble factor’, when the bells toll they make the whole tower vibrate!
Nearest parc: Le Village Western

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