14 August 2018 Travel
The Southwest of France is an incredible region to discover on a road trip. We’re going to look at some wonderful places to pitstop while holidaying in this area. The journey will take us from Bordeaux down to Saint Jean de Luz.
Bordeaux, the capital of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region is a great city to start your travels in the Southwest of France. You can often find cheap flights to Bordeaux (Mérignac Airport) all year round. Bordeaux wine is famous all over the world and you can start your trip by visiting the new Bordeaux wine museum (La Cité du Vin). Here you can complete a state of the art tour and wine testing. Bordeaux is also well located to allow for day trips to the renowned St Emilion wine region. Here you can visit world-famous vineyards who open their doors for exclusive tastings of their quality wine.
Bordeaux weather can often touch 40 degrees during the height of summer. If you need some cooling off head to “The Water Mirror” (miroir d’eau). Located in front of the place de la bourse, it is the world's largest reflecting pool and sprays water vapour into the air every few minutes to cool down visitors.
Moving on from Bordeaux you can head out to the seaside town of Arcachon. It will only take 45 minutes for the the train from Bordeaux to Arcachon, or you can hire a motorhome in Bordeaux to set off on your journey.
The Arcachon bay produces beautiful Oysters and is a perfect pitstop for a tasting, accompanied by a glass white wine. The Arcachon beach is rather small but you can also go to Cap Ferret, a sandy headland on the “Bassin d'Arcachon” which will allow for some more beach space.
While at Arcachon don’t miss the incredible “Dune du Pilat”, Europe’s tallest sand dune. It offers magnificent views of the Bay of Biscay.
Moving further south down the A63 motorway for about 2 hours, you’ll come to the quaint town of Dax. Dax is well known for its “Feria de Dax” festival which takes place in August every year. Dax is also well known for being France’s largest spa town. An enormous amount of thermal spring water is produced here so it's the perfect place to cool off when after a few hours on the road.
About a 35 minute drive from Dax you’ll arrive at Hossegor. Hossegor offers miles of beautiful beaches and is known for being a Mecca for surfers across the globe. This is where the Quiksilver Pro France tournament is held every September. Hossegor is a must if your searching for a few quality days at the beach and is very well kept and clean. The waves are impressive and perfect if you’d like to rent a surfboard and enjoy a few hours of surfing. There is also a water park and other sporting activities making it a great spot for the whole family.
Bayonne is another south-western town which is famous for its amazing feria, the “fete de bayonne” which takes place for 5 days every July. Here you can learn about Basque culture and taste the famous local cuisine, including Bayonne Ham (jambon de Bayonne), cured ham which is delicious as a started or eaten with melon. Check out the beautiful bridges and architecture of the city centre while you visit. As it’s situated in the Basque country, Bayonne weather is often prone to heavy rainfall so pack your umbrella just in case.
If you visit Bayonne, you must consider checking out the neighbouring coastal town of Biarritz. Famous for being a holiday destination, it is often packed with tourists in the height of summer so visiting during the off-peak period (from September) is recommended. Biarritz has a beautiful beach where surfers can enjoy the waves and also sports picturesque rocky coastal areas. Biarritz weather is generally warm but just like its neighbour Bayonne, it is also prone to rainfall, even during its driest months. You may struggle to find accomodation during the summer period. If you're travelling in a motorhome or campervan consider reserving a campsite in advance. There you can enjoy beautiful coastal views, which are bound to top the views from any 3 star hotel in the area.
The last stop on our trip is the charming fishing town of Saint Jean de Luz, located about 20 kms further south from Biarritz and very close to the France–Spain border. Saint Jean de Luz provides the only sheltered bay between Spain and Arcachon and has powerful sea walls which help shelter the town for the wild Atlantic Ocean. For this reason it is a great place for a calm ocean swim. Saint Jean de Luz is also particularly attractive to retired people, many of whom decide to move to the town to enjoy are more easy-going way of life.
Many cultural and sporting events are hosted in Saint Jean de Luz every year, including a festival dedicated to young filmmakers, a surfing film festival and Basque Pelota world championships. It’s the perfect place to relax at the end of your road trip.
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