Plan a cycling holiday in Bordeaux
The city of Bordeaux and its surrounding region is one of the most popular places to plan a holiday in France. Many people visit the area made famous by the wine itself, but it has a lot to offer and we personally think Bordeaux is a great place to enjoy a cycling holiday. Below we have included some practical information which will help you plan your holiday to Bordeaux. This includes transport options, accommodation, food specialities as well as the types of cycling available to you there.
Cycling in Bordeaux – what to expect?
Both the city and region of Bordeaux are fantastic places to cycle in. As a city, Bordeaux has been ranked one of the most cycling-friendly cities in the world – no 6 on the Copenhagenize index. It is certainly noticeable once you arrive at the city just how many people are out riding bikes there. Bordeaux is a very flat city which means the cycling there need not be too strenuous to get from one area of the city to the next. The cycling infrastructure throughout Bordeaux also makes it very convenient to cycle with quite a lot of bike lanes and bike parking available right throughout the city. We have written an extensive article which details ideas for exploring the beautiful city of Bordeaux on two wheels. You can read more about it here.
We have mapped out a number of cycling routes that you can choose to explore whilst on a cycling holiday in Bordeaux. Each route includes the ability to download files to a range of devices and includes other helpful information. Some of the routes begin in the city of Bordeaux itself, whilst others are located at other points in the broader Bordeaux region, such as Saint-Èmilion. Click below to see the riding options in greater detail:
The best way to travel to Bordeaux
Bordeaux is the sixth-largest city in France and is well connected both for international travel as well as travel from within France. It serves as a natural gateway to the region. Rome2rio.com is an excellent site to help plan your trip to the Bordeaux region. Simply enter your start and endpoints and it will tell you the different options available, cost range and timetable.
Bordeaux has its own international airport which is located just 11kms / 7mi outside of the city itself. You will find many airlines fly directly into Bordeaux airport with regular services each day. Access to the airport is provided by the the30′ Direct shuttle service. This shuttle bus provides you with free luggage transfer and operates a regular service inclusive of weekends and public holidays. It takes approximately 30mins to travel from Gare de St-Jean in Central Bordeaux to the airport itself.
The main train station at Bordeaux is called Saint-Jean. This station is well connected with regular train services to destinations throughout France. There are options also for faster TGV train services which connect Bordeaux directly with the larger cities such as Paris and Toulouse. The TGV service from Paris to Bordeaux takes just 2hrs and 20mins.
The A10 is the main motorway that links Bordeaux to Paris. It is also the longest motorway in France. The total distance is just under 600kms / 370mi and you can expect a travel time of approximately 5hours and 40 minutes.
We recommend reviewing the route planning tool on the ViaMichelin website which will also indicate any tolls along the route as well as fuel stations.
There are regular bus services that link Bordeaux with cities such as Paris, Toulouse, Nantes, and Lyon. Most services depart and arrive from the main train station in Bordeaux -Gare Saint-Jean. Flixbus is a good service which you can utilize and operates several bus routes from Bordeaux to numerous destinations in France. You can discover more about them here.
Accommodation options in Bordeaux
As you would expect with a city the size of Bordeaux, there is no shortage of options when it comes to Accommodation. To help you plan we have provided links to a number of booking sites so you can see what is available. Have a look at our page on French accommodation types if you are not sure what is available.
B & B
Bordeaux – Eating and drinking
There are no shortage of places to eat and drink in the area and we generally turn to tripadvisor.com to look at options for restaurants and cafés or just take a punt on a place that looks nice and busy and is open and serving food. We have yet to be disappointed.
Bordeaux produce markets
Being such a large city there are a number of produce markets for you to discover in Bordeaux. Here you will find lots of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as local cheeses, small goods, seafood, and meats. This southwest region of France is well known for being a food lovers region, so if you are a ‘gourmand’ you will certainly be impressed by the quality of the local produce which is showcased there.
Market days are listed below:
Marché des Capucins – Tuesday to Sunday. Be aware the markets are extra busy on weekends.
Les Halles de Bacalan – Tuesday to Sunday
Marché Royale – Saturday morning
Les Halles de Talance– Tuesday to Sunday
Regional specialities to try whilst holidaying in Bordeaux
Every region in France has its culinary specialties and Bordeaux is certainly no different. Indeed, the Bordeaux region prides itself on being a food lovers paradise. You will find many eating establishments in Bordeaux that will offer these regional specialties such as Magret de Canard, (duck breast), Cepes (mushrooms), or for those with a sweet tooth Cannelles (a small caramelized pasty cooked in a copper mould). On top of this, you can also expect to find fois gras and it should go without saying, plentiful amounts of Bordeaux wine. Of course on the wine front, there is plenty to sample from the Bordeaux region is famous for producing not only great Red wine but also Sauternes which is a sticky dessert wine.
Bike shops and hire
There are many options for cycle hire in Bordeaux. Largely this is owing to the popularity of cycle tourism. In fact if you are looking to explore the city of Bordeaux on a bike, we would recommend utilizing the cities bike hire scheme called V3. You will find 184 of the V3 rental stations or ‘hubs’ located right throughout the city, and you have options for eBike hire as well. In fact, almost half of the 2000 strong V3 rental fleet are now eBikes! The first 30minutes of hire is also free so you can find that exploring the city of Bordeaux by bike is a very cheap way of getting from point A to Point B.
Of course, if you’d like to explore the region beyond the city limits a different type of hire bike may be better suited for this, especially if you want to be riding for hours at a time. There are several providers who offer hire bikes in the Bordeaux region. To help you with your research we have listed these out in the table below. Here you can see the type of bikes available to hire, as well as contact details.
Lastly, If you are looking to hire a bike for your Bordeaux cycling holiday, we would recommend getting in touch directly with the hire shop and arranging this in advance of your holiday. This will avoid the disappointment of missing out on a rental due to popular demand.
Where to base yourself for a cycling holiday in Bordeaux?
If you are planning a cycling holiday in the Bordeaux region then there are a few options in terms of where to base yourself. A lot will depend on how long you are planning to be there for, and the type of cycling you would like to take in. For example, if you’d like to explore the city of Bordeaux itself then it makes sense for you to stay there. The city is well serviced by all forms of transport which makes it easy to navigate to. There are options at all budget levels for accommodation and then of course the cycling infrastructure within the city itself is rated as some of the best in the world.
But if you instead would like to explore some of the wineries which the region is so famous for, then staying outside of Bordeaux may be a better option. We have listed below some places which you can consider.
The village of Saint-Èmilion is a destination worth visiting in and of itself, and if it is wine which has brought you to this part of Bordeaux then some would say there is no finer red wine than that which is grown here. Choosing to base yourself in Saint-Èmilion will allow you to enjoy the Bordeaux region without being in the hustle and bustle of a larger city. There are many options for great cycles which see you riding alongside endless vineyards as far as you can see. Of course, Saint-Èmilion is also a UNESCO heritage area and the village is proud to be named as one of France’s plus beaux villages (prettiest villages in France). You can discover more about Saint-Èmilion here.
Located less than an hour away from Bordeaux city itself is Arcachon. It is renowned for producing some of the best oysters in the world and if you are a lover of seafood this is a must-visit. Staying in Arcachon would allow you to take in some cycling along the coastline and also explore the Dune of Pilat – the tallest sand dune in Europe which is located in Arcachon Bay. There is also a great cycle path network stretching 220km / 137mi which will take you all over Arcachon Bay itself. If you are keen to try for a full circuit around the bay it is also possible with a combined ferry trip. Note that ferry times and schedules vary depending on the time of the year you are traveling. You will find numerous accommodation options for all budgets in Arcachon as well as brasseries, cafes, and restaurants. To discover more about Arcachon click here.
Popular activities and experiences in Bordeaux
Whether you want to spend some time off the bikes or have family members that are not keen cyclists there are plenty of things on your holiday in the Bordeaux region. Included below are some of our suggestions.
Bordeaux city tour
Being France’s 6th largest city there are quite a lot of sites which you can choose to take in. Many operators offer different types of city tours catering for groups of varying sizes. To see a selection of what is on offer click here.
As you’d expect there are several wine tour options which you can look to enjoy whilst in Bordeaux. Some are within the city itself where you can enjoy some wine tasting from wines across the Bordeaux region, whilst others include visits to the wineries themselves. You can choose from a few hours, half-day or full-day options. Learn more here.
Arcachon bay is located approximately one hour away from Bordeaux and is a popular option for a day trip whilst you are holidaying in the city. It is famed for farming some of the highest quality oysters in the world and you will find many options to dine there and taste the local specialty. Whilst there you can also explore the Pilat Sand dune which lays claim to being the tallest sand dune in all of Europe. Of course with its location by the Atlantic, other water sports activities are also on offer, such as surfing and paddle boarding if that is more what you are after. Discover more on what is on offer here.
We have included some useful websites to help you see what is on offer and plan your trip.
Viator.com – book a range of tours and attractions before you leave home
Bordeaux tourism – includes lots of information about the Bordeaux region and also links to the events calendar.