Things to do in beautiful Bordeaux by bike
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If you are looking for some things to do in Bordeaux and enjoy riding your bike, then why not combine the two on your next visit? Using a bike to see the sights of the city and to explore a bit further afield is a great alternative to walking, using public transport or driving. Whether you are someone who rides regularly looking for some longer distances, or someone looking for something a bit different to do while visiting Bordeaux, you will find something to suit. The city and surroundings are generally nice and flat which makes it a perfect cycling destination. So give it a go on your visit, it will be great fun.
We have visited Bordeaux on two separate occasions and have loved the city. On our first visit, we stopped in Bordeaux on our way from Paris to the Pyrenees as a way of breaking up the long journey. We hired the bike-share V3 bike and explored the city a little bit before heading out along one of the cycle paths into the countryside. After our bike ride, we had a nice lunch in one of the city restaurants and explored a little more around central Bordeaux.
Our second visit concluded a 10-day bike packing trip through the Dordogne and Lott regions. We did not have as much time and simply soaked up the atmosphere and caught up with friends before heading off to the Pyrenees again on the TGV. There is no shortage of things to do in Bordeaux both on and off the bike and we are looking forwards to spending more time in this great part of France.
There are many benefits to exploring the things to do in Bordeaux by bike. It means you can get to different places quicker, so you are able to see more if you are pressed for time. You don’t have to worry about catching public transport and can stay out in the fresh air. It’s a great exercise and fun to do. Riding a bike also enables you to explore a little further outside the city center which gives you a better feel for this great city.
9 things to do by bike in Bordeaux
To get you thinking about some of the things to could do by bike in Bordeaux, here are some quick ideas.
- Grab some delicious food from one of the fresh food markets and cycle to one of the many parks in and around Bordeaux for a picnic
- Explore the different sights within the city by bike, drop into a café for coffee or lunch
- Join one of the guided city bike tours to learn more about the history of the city
- Cycle to the town of Arcachon on the coast and sample its world-famous oysters before cycling back or catching the train
- Head into the countryside on the Roger Lapibe bike path and explore some of the small villages along the way
- Ride along the Garonne River from the center of Bordeaux towards the coast
- Explore one of the famous vineyards in the region by bike and sample some of the wines the region is famous for
- Design your own cycling route on some of the many quieter D roads outside the city center
- Do some bike packing and make your way from Bordeaux to Royan (140km) over a few days and explore the peninsula
Practical information about visiting Bordeaux
Before we get into some of the things to do in Bordeaux by bike in a little bit more detail, here is some practical information to help you plan your visit to the city. We have driven to Bordeaux from Paris and caught a train from Bergerac in the Dordogne and have found it easy to navigate around. The train station is not too far from the city center and is connected by buses and trams, or of course, you can grab a bike. We have also driven from the Pyrenees to the airport, which again easy to do and you do not need to worry about getting through city traffic as the airport is on the outskirts.
Getting to Bordeaux
Plane, train, or automobile, getting to Bordeaux is easy regardless of how you wish to travel.
Bordeaux airport is located on the eastern outskirts of the city and connected by bus to the city center. The bus trip is about 30mins in length. A tram line to the airport is currently under construction and is scheduled to be completed in 2022 as an alternative to the bus. You can fly to a wide range of European destinations from Bordeaux airport and some limited international destinations as well.
Bordeaux Saint-Jean is the main train station and is located 2.5km from the city center. There are multiple daily services to Paris by TGV which will take between 3hrs and 4hrs depending on which Paris station you leave from. You can catch the TGV from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to Bordeaux. Saint-Jean also connects Bordeaux to the surrounding region and the Pyrenees mountains.
If you plan to drive, the A10 autoroute connects Bordeaux to Paris and the journey time will be just under 6hrs. If you will be traveling from the south the A63 connects Bordeaux to Bayonne, while the A65 takes you down to Pau in the Pyrenees. From the west, the A89 provides access to a range of destinations inland.
Hiring a bike in Bordeaux
If you don’t want to bring your own bike there are plenty of options to hire a bike while you are in Bordeaux within the city. Some services will deliver a bike to your accommodation if that is a better option for you. Bordeaux also has a bike share scheme with self-serve hire stations located all around the city. See more details about that further down in our article.
Here are some of the options available for bike hire in Bordeaux:
Pierre Qui Roule – 32 Place Gambetta website
Bike Hire Direct – online only bikes will be delivered to your accommodation website
Bordeaux Scooters – 47 rue de Tauzia website
Cool bike – 77 quai de Chartrons website
Bike tours in and around Bordeaux
If you would like to enjoy a bike tour in either the city itself or the surrounding countryside and famous vineyards, there are plenty of companies to choose from. Tours range in duration from a few hours to multiple days. Here are some options for you.
Bordeaux Bike Tour
Bordeaux bike tour offers options to explore the city as well as a bike ride to a nearby wine chateau for some wine tasting. website
Bordeaux Bike Experience
Choose from a few different tour options in Bordeaux of varying lengths. website
Small group tours around Bordeaux city. website
Rustic Vine Tours
Tour through the vineyards around St Emilion in either a full or half-day tour. website
Guided or self-guided wine tours around St Émilion website
Bordeaux by bike
Choose from a range of tours within the city of Bordeaux or a little further afield in St Émelion or Medoc wine regions. website
Discover France offers a selection of multi-day self-guided holidays around the Bordeaux region. website
Overall Bordeaux has a mild climate being near the coast but the months from May to September are the best if you are planning a visit. Here you can expect the days to be nice and warm and the nights not too cold. This period has the least amount of rain as well. Here’s what to expect season by season based on the actual temperatures over the past 12 months.
Winter (December to February)
The winter period is the wettest in Bordeaux and on average you can expect 13 rain days each month. Over the winter months expect daytime temperatures to be around the 10C (50F) mark in December and January and warming up in February to average around the 15C (59F) mark. You can expect the odd day to be much colder or warmer than these averages.
Bordeaux winter nights can be quite cold and hover around the 0C (32F) mark in December and January. Once into January temperatures warm up slightly to overnight lows somewhere around the 7C (44.6)mark.
Spring (March to May)
While you still get some cooler days in the spring months in Bordeaux, generally speaking, things are nice and mild. Daytime temperatures start getting into the high teens and low twenties regularly, making for pleasant days. Expect daytime temperatures between 15C to 20C (59F to 68F) in March, 19C to 23C (66F to 73F) in April, and 20C to 30C (68F to 86F) in May.
The overnight temperatures start getting a bit warmer also in spring. For the most part, these hover around 10C (50F) with some nights still below this and others above it. Warmer clothing is definitely needed still. On average there are 12 rain days per month in spring in Bordeaux.
Summer (June to August)
The summer months in Bordeaux are quite hot and sunny. Daytime temperatures are in the high twenties and low thirties with some days reaching mid to high thirties. The nights are nice and mild also with the odd cooler night thrown in.
Summer is the driest period in Bordeaux and on average each month has 8 rain days.
Autumn/Fall (September to November)
The autumn/fall months are still nice and warm in Bordeaux but not quite as hot as summer and they get cooler as you head towards winter. Nighttime temperatures start to get a little cooler as you get towards winter but there are still plenty of warm nights across the earlier part of the season. It starts to get a little bit wetter in autumn/fall but there are still plenty of bright sunny days to enjoy.
September is still hot and sunny and you can expect temperatures over 30C (86F)for large parts of the month. As you get into October things start to cool off and temperatures between 16C to 23C (60F to 73F) are the norm. November can be similar but you will start getting more colder days as you get towards the end of the month.
Like every region of France, Bordeaux has its own specialties when it comes to gastronomic delights. We always enjoy seeking these out and giving them a go as we travel to different parts of the country. Here are the “must-try” gastronomic delights of Bordeaux and the surrounding region.
This is what immediately comes to mind when people mention Bordeaux. Most of the wine produced in the region is red, although some whites are produced.
The town of Saint Emilion, located about 50km from Bordeaux, is famous not only for its wines but also its macarons. These small round pastries are a tasty treat and the town lays claim to having been the first to have produced these in the late 1700s.
These tasty pastries are baked in small fluted copper moulds giving them a crisp outside with a lovely gooey center. Flavored with rum and vanilla, you will find them all around the city.
The Arcachon Basin lies to the west of Bordeaux and is home to 350 oyster farms that date back to the early 1900s. The quality of the oysters is second to none and is recognized globally.
The town of Blaye, a short distance from Bordeaux, is renowned for the quality and taste of its asparagus. You will find these in farmers’ markets from late March to late May.
How long do you need to visit Bordeaux?
As a bare minimum, we would recommend at least two full days in Bordeaux to get a feel for the city and explore some of what is on offer. You could easily spend a week or more here and explore the city itself as well as the many smaller towns and villages around it.
Things to do by bike in Bordeaux
Explore the city sights
There are lots of things to do and see within the city of Bordeaux itself and exploring by bike is a great alternative to driving or walking. In fact, Bordeaux ranks 6 on the 2019 Copenhagenize index of cycle-friendly cities globally and you will see plenty of locals using a bike to get around. Bordeaux is nice and flat making it easy for everyone to cycle around and not have to worry about too many steep gradients.
The city has a bike share scheme (V3)with over 2,000 bikes, 1,000 of which are electric, located at 184 stations dotted around the city. This means you can rent a bike at one station and drop it off at another. So you do not have to worry about locking your own bike up and leaving it while you grab a coffee or lunch at one of the many cafés or whilst visiting the sights of the city. Like many of these bike-share schemes, the first 30mins will be free so this need not cost much or anything at all. You can find their website here. The service operates 24/7 so no matter when you need one they are ready for you to ride.
Here is a list of just some of the popular things to do in Bordeaux within the city center while you are visiting. These are all located within the central city area of Bordeaux and easily reached by bike.
This large cast iron bell is one of the oldest in France and is housed in what used to be one of the gates into the city in medieval times. You can take a guided tour into the building or wander around the outside yourself. The tiny streets around the Grosse Cloche are also great in their own right for some exploring. website
Cathédrale Sainte André de Bordeaux
A UNESCO World Heritage site that dates as far back as 1096 and was a stopover point for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. There is a free-standing bell tower which you can climb for great views over the city. website
Musée des Beaux-Arts
Bordeaux’s museum of fine arts was built in 1881 and houses paintings from prominent European painters as well as locals from Bordeaux. You can see art from Renoir, Picasso, Matisse, and Rubens among others. website
The Museum of Aquitane houses a collection of objects, artifacts, and documents from the region over the ages. It is one of the largest collections of regional history outside Paris. website
Les Bassins de Lumières
Visit the largest digital art center in the world in a converted German WW2 U-boat base. There are 4 separate areas, that used to be home to German U-boats, with different visual and sound installations. website
Cite du Vin
This museum is dedicated to all things wine around the world. Definitely worth a visit if you want to learn more about the history of wine. There are both permanent and temporary exhibitions as well as workshops and tastings. website
First used in 1780 the Grand Théâtre hosts a range of productions each year and is home to the Grand Opera of Bordeaux. You can take a guided tour of the building during the day or catch a show at night. website
The quai or promenade runs along the western side of the Garonne River and is always a hive of activity. Great for a nice gentle cycle along the banks of the river with plenty of cafés to stop at overlooking the river.
If you want to stock up on some tasty food for a picnic in the park, or simply browse what is on offer you can head to one of Bordeaux’s fresh food markets. The daily markets also have cafés and restaurants to eat at. Our tip is to walk around the market first and see what is on offer before deciding what to get. That way you don’t see something better than what you have already purchased.
Marché des Capucins – The largest market in Bordeaux, open 7 days. website
Les Halles de Bacalans – Opened in 2017 this market is open 6 days, closed Mondays. website
Marché des Quais – An outdoor market on Sunday morning only, located on the Quais. website
Marché Royal – Saturday mornings located in Place Meynard
Rochefort Market – Saturday mornings located in Rue de Rochefort
Bassens market – Sunday morning located in Place de la Commune de Paris
Marché de Producteurs Saint Seurin – Friday mornings located Place des Martyrs de la Resistance
Shopping – rue Saint Catherine
If you feel like a little shopping expedition while you are in Bordeaux, then you need to take a walk down rue Saint Catherine. It is fully pedestrianized along the 1.2km length and full of great shops.
Cafés, bars, and restaurants
Bordeaux has no shortage of great cafés, bars, and restaurants to choose from across different price ranges. Picking one in a great location and spending some time watching the world go by is a great thing to do.
An 11-hectare green space close to the center. Great for relaxing and taking a break between visiting the many other sights the city has on offer.
Created in 2006, the Miroir d’eau or water mirror is a 3,450sqm reflecting pool in front of the Place de la Bourse. It is the largest reflecting pool in the world.
Place des Quinconces
This large city square dating back to 1820 is a popular place for locals and visitors alike. There is a steady stream of people coming and going and the square is used for various events and activities throughout the year.
Explore a park outside the city center
Within a short distance of the city center, you will find some beautiful parks and gardens to explore, all easily accessible by bike. Grab some food from the markets, a bottle of Bordeaux wine, and enjoy a picnic in a park, or just soak in the green space and relax.
Parc de l’Ermitage
Located 10km to the north of the city this rehabilitated quarry site is worth a visit and offers some great views over the city. Please note there are a couple of short but steep climbs to get to the park.
Réserve Naturelle Des Marais de Bruges
This 265-hectare nature reserve is located 9km from the city center to the northwest and is a larger area to explore. The route is flat from the city.
Located close to the Réserve Naturelle it would be easy to visit both these parks. It won a 2020 Travellers Choice Award from Trip Advisor.
Eco site of Bourgailh
A 65-hectare forest to the west of Bordeaux the Eco site of Bourgailh is a 12km ride away. There is a little bit of climbing on the way out which will be nice downhill on the way home. This site also won a 2020 Travellers Choice award.
Lla Forêt du Taillan
The furthest from Bordeaux’s city centre at 15km the Lla Forêt du Tailan is 420 hectares in size. A larger forest with trails of different lengths that can be cycled as well on off-road style trails best suited to mountain bikes.
Head outside the city inland or towards the coast
The Canal des 2 Mers cycle route runs from Royan (north of Bordeaux) to the Mediterranean Sea a distance of nearly 800km. The route passes through Bordeaux and as such offers some great long-distance options either towards the Atlantic coast or inland. website
The Roger Lapibe bike path runs 57km from Bordeaux to the town of Sauvettere de Guyenne to the southeast of Bordeaux. The path is a converted rail line and is totally car-free making it a perfect spot for families or those who do not enjoy cycling on roads. The path passes through plenty of small villages, great for a coffee stop or lunch before heading back. Of course, you will be able to drop into a winery or two if that is something you enjoy doing. website
If you prefer some salt air then you can head towards the Atlantic coast along the Garonne River following the Canal 2 Mers route. The distance to Royan, where the route finishes, is 140km giving you plenty of scope for a nice long ride. From Bordeaux, you head north through more vineyards and wineries before crossing the river by ferry at Lamarque to the town of Blaye. This route is a mix of quiet roads and separated bike paths.
Ride on a quiet country road outside Bordeaux
Like anywhere in France you can choose your own route from the many smaller D roads that surround Bordeaux. Generally speaking, you will be able to find roads that are not too busy. Be mindful that roads around some of the coastal areas are likely to be much busier in the summer months and especially on weekends. We have always found going a bit earlier if you are there in a busier time can help beat the traffic to some degree.
To the west of Bordeaux, you can cycle to the Atlantic coast, a distance of around 62km making for a bigger ride. The train runs to the coastal town of La Teste de Buch, giving you the option of catching it to the coast before jumping on your bike and exploring the coastal region or cycling back to Bordeaux.
There are plenty of things to do along this coast near Bordeaux. The Dune du Pilat is the highest sand dune in Europe, sitting 100m above the surrounding landscape. The coastal area is full of great seafood and is renowned for its oysters. You can take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean during the summer months or simply enjoy the vistas along the coast as you cycle along. To the northeast of the city towards the mouth of the Garonne River, you will find the famous Médoc wine region.
To the east of Bordeaux you can head inland and through the vineyards and towns and villages. There are cycling options along both the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers and plenty of places to stop and soak in the surroundings. The train line runs inland as well stopping at towns such as Libourne, Saint Émilion, Castillon, and Bergerac, giving you some options to get a bit further out before you start riding. Or simply ride one way and jump on the train the other way.
Cycle through the vineyards
While you can see there are lots of things to do in Bordeaux, wine and the region go hand in hand. With that in mind here is some information about where the vineyards are in relation to the city center and how to get there. There are many sub-regions around Bordeaux and you can find additional information on this website. All of the areas we have listed below are accessible by train which gives you the option of catching a train to get there and then cycling around the wineries for the day once you arrive. You can read our article about catching French trains with a bike in case you are not sure how it all works. It is very easy to do.
Northwest of Bordeaux you will find the Médoc wine region sitting on the peninsula on the left side of the Garonne River as it heads out to sea. From central Bordeaux, the town of Pauillac is just over 50km (31 miles) away across a relatively flat landscape.
Located to the east of Bordeaux the town of Saint Émilion is highly recommended, not only for its famous wineries but also for the stunning history of the town itself. Saint Émilion is located 50km (31 miles) from Bordeaux. There are many vineyards surrounding Saint Émilion including the famous Pomerol wines.
This region is the closest to the city of Bordeaux at 26km (16 miles) and lies directly south, near the town of Portet.
Heading further south the Sauternes region is located 65km (40 miles) from Bordeaux. Head to the town of Langon and from there explore the various vineyards in the surrounding region.
We have lots more information about cycling in France on our website to help you plan your next holiday by bike.
Head to our Practical pages for all you need to know about things such as visa requirements, accommodation types, using your phone in France, and more.
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