ACTIVITIES & THINGS TO DO

  1. Gironde
  2. Lot-et-Garonne
  3. Dordogne

GIRONDE

A good starting point for wine lovers would be the Bordeaux wine festival held bi-annually.

www.holidayrentalsinfrance.comThe 12 hectare site in the centre of the world’s largest quality wine district offers thousands of French and foreign wine lovers the opportunity to taste a wide selection of wines from the Aquitaine region.

Prefer to tour the vineyards? – visit the Bordeaux Maison du Vin for information on estates which are open to the public (some even offer meals) to sample such quality classics as St-Emilion from around the River Dordogne, Graves and Medoc from west of the Gironde Estuary, and Entre Deux Mers from between the rivers Dordogne and Garonne.

Members of ‘Vignobles & Chaisin Bordeaux’ are local producers who offer guided tours and assisted tastings. The D2 ‘route du vin’ winds past many wine villages of the Medoc. But remember, some chateaux such as the beautiful Chateau Margaux or the illustrious Chateau Mouton Rothschild can only be visited by appointment. Local Maisons des Vins give more specific information – St-Emilion for example organises wine-tasting lessons and bilingual tours from May to September and Blaye has wine-tastings at its citadel.

For more information on wine tasting and tours, click here

  • Cycling

cycleCycling is popular throughout France and the department of Gironde, where much of the countryside is relatively flat, is well provided with mountain bike tracks.

Maison du Tourisme et du Vin in Pauillac hires bikes and can suggest vineyard routes, whilst the coast from Pointe de Grave to Cap Ferret has 141km of dedicated trail. Sauveterre-de-Guyenne to Bordeaux (55km) makes use of a disused railway line.

Pick up the route halfway at Creon, where equipment can be hired. Arcachon Bay and Gironde’s huge lagoons offer great cycling routes between sandy beaches and pine forests. Look for otters, deer and tortoises along the forest trails around Etange de Cousseau where cars are banned.

France’s longest freshwater lake, Hourtin-Carcans, has wonderfully secluded cycle tracks between the lake and the ocean with plenty of picturesque picnic spots. Most main towns have bike hire shops.

  • Surfing, Lacanau

The 14km of golden sandy beaches at Lacanau-Ocean make this delightful resort deservedly popular for all surflovers of watersports, particularly surfers, who come to enjoy some of Europe’s finest beach breaks. Part of the World Surfing Championships have been held here for the last 20 years.

  • Canoeing/Kayaking

Canoeing and kayaking are great alternative ways to view a landscape which has so many lakes and rivers. The Bay of Arcachon is a safe place to try sea kayaking using longer and narrower kayaks.

For most, Gironde’s rivers offer plenty of opportunities. The canoeing centre at Belin-Beliet, in the ‘Landes de Gascogne’ Regional Natural Park has guided trips down the River Leyre – known as the ‘Little Amazon’ – to Arcachon Bay, and the canoe school at Villandraut organises trips to explore the beautiful Ciron Valley.

The Rivers Dordogne and l’Isle near St-Emilion are also great for canoeing and kayaking as are Gironde’s many coastal lakes. Find out about equipment hire at local tourist offices.

LOT ET GARONNE

  • Enjoy Lot et Garonne’s Produce Markets

With such wonderful produce grown locally, a visit to at least one of Lot et Garonne’s produce markets, such as the one in Marmande  is a ‘must’ during your stay. Weekly markets in Duras, Miramont de Guyenne, Casteljaloux, Cancon are not to be missed!

  • Spend the day at Walibi Adventure Park

walibiA fantastic day out for all the family just down the road from Agen. The 40 attractions and spectacular shows set in 30 hectares, beside an eighteenth century castle take you on adventures around the world.

Loop the loop on the Boomerang ride, zigzag on the swinging Pirate Ship and Fandango. Thrill to the water rides, including ‘Le Drakkar’ where ships shaped like tree trunks hurtle down a 14m slope on ‘Crazy River’. The very young can take the little train to visit gentle Walibil and and Baby Kangourou. Restaurants and gift shops. See calendar on www.walibi-aquitaine.fr for opening times.

  • Visit the Prune Museum, Granges-sur-Lot

100 years of the history of the plum and prunes – part of the traditions and culture of Lot et Garonne. See traditional drying ovens and production methods, videos and enjoy tastings all set amongst fruit orchards. Hunt ‘Dame Prune’ in a giant maze.

Open every day 0900-1200 and 1400-1900 (Sundays and holidays 1500-1900) Closed 15 – 31 Jan.

Tel: (00 33) 5 53 84 00 69

  • See the Cloistered Gardens in Marmandemarmande

The cloister adjoining the southern side of Marmande’s Gothic church of Notre-Dame has finely sculpted decorations in French Renaissance style. The buildings date back to 1540 although now only 2 sides remain. The inner courtyard has been a topiary garden since the 1950s and in 2007 was designated a ‘Jardin Remarquable’ with stunning box tree designs.

  • Parc en Ciel, Lacapelle-Biron

Situated on the D420 north west of Fumel. The whole family will love this treetop adventure playground. Rope courses in the trees (including harnesses and instruction) – 2 for children, 3 for adults. Also mini-golf and small farm and snail museum. Beautiful location for a picnic.

See website for more details including opening times. Tel. (00 33) 5 53 71 84 58

DORDOGNE

  • Chateaux and Castles

Le Chateau de Castelnaud
The most visited chateau or castle in the South of France dominates the picturesque village of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle on the left bank of the Dordogne River. During the Middle-Ages, the mighty English chateau or castle commanded the strategic position at the meeting of the Dordogne and the Céou Rivers, opposite the rival French castle of Beynac. This castle is truly magnificent and transport one back in time.

Chateau de Beynac
beynacThis impressive chateau or castle was destroyed and rebuilt many times. It includes features of many ages, including some rare frescoes of the 15th century. It played a significant role in the 100 years war when the castle was in French hands and battled the English across the river in their strong hold of Chateau Castelnaud.

 

 

  • Canoe the Rivers

The two great rivers of the area are the Dordogne, which the department takes its name from and the Vezere. Both rivers offer excellent canoeing and you will experience different scenery on each. If you do the Dordogne you will canoe past historic villages and medieval castles. On the Verzere you will discover a more rural aspect and float past some of Frances’ most beautiful countryside.

  • Take a Boat Trip on the Dordogne Riverdordogne
  • Picnic – Visit the Sarlat markets and pick up some salami, cheese and bread before heading to the banks of the Dordogne River to relax with a picnic lunch.
  • Swim – Visit one of the many beaches dotted along the Dordogne River and swim in this UNESCO awarded treasure.
  • Cycle – Hire a bike and cycle along one of the many country lanes.

 

 

 

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