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Make motorhome magic in Bordeaux

Bordeaux holds a certain mystical, alluring appeal, especially for those travelling on the great open road in a campervan. Known for some of the best wine in the world, it’s a city of tradition and great taste. Soak in the ambience by strolling the elegant streets or imbibing at one of the many cafes or bars. One of the most beautiful destinations in Europe, it’s no wonder half of the city is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

From Bordeaux, you can then easily go explore Toulouse, Montpellier, Marseille and Nice if you head South. Another option is to drive North of Bordeaux to explore the beautiful Brittany region

What to do in wondrous Bordeaux

Escape. Go wine tasting! In less than an hour in most directions you can tour vineyards and sample reds. Head north to the Medoc region, one of the most famous wine routes in the world. Château Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Latour, Château Margaux and Chateau Mouton Rothschild are all located here.

East to Saint Emilion are the renowned Château Ausone and Château Cheval Blanc. The medieval town of Saint Emilion is said to be one of the most beautiful villages in France. The Graves region to the South has some of France’s oldest vineyards. Château Haut-Brion and Château La Mission Haut-Brion are worth a visit. A three-hour guided Bordeaux Walking Tour is another great way to learn your wines and is relatively inexpensive.

In the city you can rent a bike for just a few dollars and pedal along the Garonne river where 18th-century buildings line each side like magnificent sentinels. Or take to the river on a Bordeaux River Cruise.

Rue Saint-Catherine is a pedestrian street and the main shopping area in Bordeaux. At 1.2km, you can easily find a way to give your credit cards a workout. Or head to Chatrons district for the chic boutiques and antique shops. Victor Louis' Grand Théâtre is stunning. Envisaged as a temple of the Arts and Light, it is now the home of opera and ballet. Visit the contemporary art museum of CAPC. There’sin excess of 1000 works and a beautiful view from their rooftop cafe. For the city’s best view,however,you should climb the tower of Saint-Michel. It’s 243 steps up for a spectacular panorama.

With 200km of white coastline close by, Bordeaux means beaches. Scramble up Dune du Pilat – the highest sand dune in Europe – for impressive views of the Atlantic Ocean or take to the surf.

Perfect ground for camping

France has more camping grounds than any other country, except the United States. Around the Bordeaux region you’ll find many to choose from.

The coast is about an hour drive from Bordeaux, so you’ll need to decide whether you want a seaside site or one closer to Bordeaux itself. Le Village du Lac is only five minutes from Bordeaux and has excellent access to public transport. Camping Caravaning Beau Soleil is small and quiet and close enough to the city to make the most of it.

One of the best camping grounds near Bordeaux is Camping Le Truc Vert. Only 300 metres from the white sand beach, it’s a beautiful place to relax.At the foot of the Dune du Pyla is Camping Panorama in the heart of a pine forest, protected from the noise of the town and the road. The Arcachon basin and Arguin sandbank are within walking distance and there are blissful heated pools within the complex.

When to visit the vineyards

More than three million tourists visit Bordeaux and its region each year. Avoid the first week of April when 400,000 members of the world’s wine trade visit the city. Mid May to mid July is when the vines flower and is the best time to visit. August is hot and most people are on holiday so prices are inflated. Harvest is in October and is always an interesting time.

Meet the variety of Bordeaux cuisine

Slurp oysters and wine at Marché des Capucins on a Saturday morning. The covered market has all the usual suspects, such as cheese and cold meats. La Tupina is lavish and decadent. Two open fireplaces and meat on display remind you to indulge. This restaurant is known the world over and the menu is homely. Le Mably is an upmarket bistro with exquisite duck dishes and an extensive Bordeaux wine list. Try the canelés – a dark caramel cake with a gooey centre of rum and vanilla.

Fernandon the Quai St Pierre looks like a 100-year-old brasserie, but is in fact relatively new.With fresh fish and affordable prices, this is an easy decision for a late lunch. Baud et Milletis in the cellar down a narrow staircase. They have more than 100 cheeses and with 23 years’ experience can match any wine. Fromagerie Deruelle has only been open a few months, but is already well known for the mimolette and bleu de bresse. Pop in for a tasting.Hiding in Mérignac is L'Appart. It looks like a standard villa, but the menu will amaze.

Santé – What to drink

A glass of wine in Bordeaux can be alarmingly expensive, but for those in the know, you can find decent, reasonable prices at Grand Crus. At Aux Quatre Coins du Vin there’s a tasting machine to sample 32 different wines. It’s a great way to find what you like. 

Le Bar à Vin is close to the Grand Théâtre and has great ambience. The prices here for local wines are incredibly low, thanks to local body subsidies. Le Bar à Vin has a wide range and is attached to l'Ecole du Vin, where you can take wine courses.

Bordeaux wines are big, bold and complicated. They can be a bit intimidating but here’s a couple of quick tips.

  • Let young Bordeaux breathe. They’ll change taste dramatically over the course of a couple of hours.

  • To really know wine, you have to drink a lot – and you’re in the perfect place for it.

  • Vintages of 2009, 2010 and 2011 are of excellent quality and make up most of the wines available.

Which motorhome do I choose?

There is a wide variety of camper rental companies to choose from in France.

  • McRent is a large European company with a depot in Bordeaux, located just a couple of kilometres from Bordeaux-Merignac Airport. They have a large fleet and a good reputation.

  • The RVs and motorhome options from Pure Motorhomes are often less than two years old, so a high quality is pretty much guaranteed. Again, they are only 10 minutes from the airport at Bordeaux 33 – Vacances et Loisirs, Chemin de Magret.

  • Black Sheep-van.com is slightly less well known and is a little bit away from the airport along the A630, but the 15-minute journey is worth it. Online reviews for Black Sheep have been very positive. 


Handy camper tips for Bordeaux:

  • If you see the letters "FFN" on a camping sign, the site will be for naturists. These camping grounds often have more facilities than regular camping grounds and nearly always a pool.

  • Parking is a hassle and expensive. The narrow, old streets of the city make traffic jams a problem too. Try to leave your camper out of the city.