The department of Gironde is extremely diverse. Atlantic feeling in Lacanau, city excursion in Bordeaux, forests and vineyards in the Entre deux Mers or canals and swimming in the Garonne Canal. What do you like the most? Decide and spend your time in the place you like the most. To help you, I’ll tell you about my trip.
Travel experiences in Gironde
We begin our journey in search of our vacation apartment. My GPS says we’re almost there. We stop in front of a 70s style building. There must be some mistake, I guess, because I don’t notice the expected charm of the world famous Lacanau surfing community: no blondes carrying their surfboards. shirtless and no young surfer girls in wetsuits. A passage through the building leads us, Maxime and I, to the Atlantic. The sun is suddenly burning my eyes because it is low this afternoon. The sea is about to recede, exposing the beach and soothing me with its soft roar. Here we are. Welcome to the Gironde department.
Lacanau | surf spot in gironde
Let’s go to the beach. There are a lot of people this Saturday afternoon. Children swim in the shallow water wearing T-shirts, and two teenagers try to paddle their surfboards. Since the 1970s, Lacanau-Océan has been known as a surf spot. Surfers from all over the world meet here, about 60 kilometers west of Bordeaux, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. Many of them spend the night in holiday apartments, on the many campsites or in their own van in the parking lot just off the coast.
We decide to rent two bikes. We go along the coast, we see surfers and we head south. We would go to Spain if we followed the road. In the other direction, it would go as far as Norway. But at some point, we turn inland. Lake Lacanau, one of the largest inland lakes in France, is our destination. We ride on beautiful cycle paths through pine forests. The salty and humid smell of the sea disappears more and more and is replaced by the resinous smell of conifers. We follow the Boucle du Lion for nearly 18 kilometers, a circular route between the seaside resorts of Lacanau, Carcans-Maubuisson and Hourtin and the lakes, dunes, forests and the sea.
Bordeaux | wine capital
The Medoc peninsula extends geographically to Bordeaux. Here, Maxime and I spend the night at the Le Village du Lac campsite, on the outskirts of the wine-growing metropolis. City travel and camping: Bordeaux shows that the combination is possible. In the evening, we rent two city bikes from the city transport service. Directly in front of the campsite is one of the 174 rental stations. The prices are 1.5 € / hour, 7 € / week, 10 € / month and 30 € / year so low that it is hardly profitable to have your own bike even if you live in the city.
The streets of Bordeaux are very busy, there is a lot of construction and a lot of traffic. A friend, whom we meet by chance in Bordeaux and who we ask why he rides a bicycle, tells me how convenient the bicycle is and allows him to get around the small town quickly.
I learned at the Cité du Vin that 57 million bottles of wine are produced in Bordeaux each year. In the evening, we taste one of them. In the evening we leave the bikes in town and take the tram back.
Between two seas | vineyards as far as the eye can see
Emilie explains to us the next day in Haux, a commune in Entre deux Mers, how the wine is produced before it flows into the French gorges.
If you think (like me) that Entre deux mers means the continent between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, you are wrong. It is correct that the name represents the hilly country between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. But it is also true that the Voie Verte passes through here and takes you to Toulouse, then along the Canal du Midi to Sète and to the Mediterranean.
But back to Emilie. She is a winegrower. The family vineyard of Château Peneau, in Haux, covers 30 hectares. It produces red wines, white wines, rosé wines and Crémant. But also and above all the Cadillac, a white wine, which becomes particularly sweet by adding a mushroom shortly before the harvest. While I annoy Emilie with my questions, she guides us through the wine cellar and shows us the family treasures that are not for sale. The oldest wine dates from 1975. I don’t know much about wines, but the history of wine, production and the profession of winegrower interest me enormously. At one point, we talked so much that we didn’t have time to do a tasting. Fortunately for us, Emilie gives us more bottles of wine than we can carry.
Canal de la Garonne | between locks and plane trees
The next day, we meet Alain. This year he just opened his bicycle rental business, Les Cycles du Canal, in Castets-en-Dorthe. He shows us his bikes, his garage and his workshop. He radiates the pride of a young entrepreneur, coupled with a sympathetic nervousness. We take our time, talk to Alain, film him repairing his bikes and in his garage. Maxime is persuaded to take a small foldable electric bicycle in black . We then descend the hill from the center of Castets-en-Dorthes to the canal. From lock number 52, the Garonne canal begins.
Once again on this trip, I feel like I’m in another world. The diversity of the department is remarkable. We meet cyclists “just” come from Brittany, anglers after lunch, boaters discovering the canals and going up the canal under the plane trees, from lock to lock. Originally, the canal was created for the transport of goods. But at the same time, the railway industry was flourishing, and soon after its completion the canal was beautiful to look at but completely useless.