Scenic Cities and Captivating Coastlines: A Road Trip to Bordeaux and the Basque Country
Visit beautiful cities and stunning coastlines on this eight-day Road Trip to Bordeaux and the Basque Country complete with memorable experiences and charming hotels along the way. Explore the characterful cities of Bayonne and Bordeaux and unwind with laid-back boat trips in Le Landes Natural Park and Cap Ferret.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Travel from Folkestone to Calais via the Eurotunnel
- Enjoy a surfing lesson on the Basque coast with a private instructor
- Explore the beautiful city of Bayonne with a local guide
- Take to the water for a cruise along the Courant d'Huchet river and a boat trip around Archachon Bay
- Indulge in wonderful food and wine in Bordeaux
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When To Travel
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Day 1: France Awaits
Your Road Trip to Bordeaux and the Basque Country itinerary begins today as you drive to Folkestone for the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle service to take your car under the Channel to Calais in just 35 minutes. We recommend upgrading to FlexiPlus tickets to benefit from a dedicated check-in, access to the exclusive lounge serving complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and snacks, and priority boarding on the next available shuttle so you don't have to worry about catching a specific train. If you are looking for a longer road trip, you can always combine this French adventure with another road trip from the UK.
Once in France, your eventual destination is Guethary, a quaint fishing village in western France, south of Biarritz, but that's ten hours or so drive away, so we recommend making your way to Chambord in the beautiful Loire Valley region, five hours drive from Calais and the perfect pit stop for the night where you can sample some of this fine wine region's best vintages.
Day 2: Basque Country Bound
After breakfast this morning, stretch your legs with a wander around Chambord before hitting the road again. The onward journey to Guethary will take five or so hours.
On arrival your accommodation for the next two nights is a charming boutique hotel just a few steps from the beach. Freshen up after your long journey and enjoy a hearty homecooked meal with delicious seasonal cuisine and a stunning sea view before retiring to your room for a good night's sleep ready for a day of exploring tomorrow.
Day 3: Surf’s up!
After a couple of busy days travelling, enjoy a slow start with a leisurely breakfast at your hotel and perhaps a walk on the beach.
This afternoon, we've arranged for you to enjoy a surfing lesson with a private instructor. The birthplace of surfing in Europe, the coast of the French Basque Country is a great place to learn to ride the waves with over 100 miles of coastline and excellent conditions which draw internationally-renowned surfers.
After your surfing lesson, we can arrange an optional visit to the Guggenheim Museum, just across the border in the Spanish city of Bilbao. Housed in a fabulous futuristic creation designed by 'starchitect' Frank Gehry, this museum of modern and contemporary art is a must-visit with its many thought-provoking exhibitions and stunning architecture.
Day 4: Beautiful Bayonne
It's back in the car today as you hit the road and travel towards Le Landes Natural Park, approximately two hours away. Along the way, you'll stop off in Bayonne, the largest city in the French Basque Country.
Divided into three districts by the Adour and Nive rivers, Bayonne is characterised by its network of narrow medieval streets, Gothic-style cathedral and slender houses with colourful shutters. Explore at your own leisure, or take part in a private city tour, followed by a late lunch in one of the many charming restaurants that line the riverbank.
From Bayonne, it's a one-hour drive to your accommodation, a tranquil colonial-style house in the small seaside resort of Vielle-Saint-Girons, where you will be staying for the next two nights of your Road Trip to Bordeaux and the Basque Country. Located at the entrance to Le Landes Natural Park, this peaceful property is an excellent base with beautiful natural surroundings and a great restaurant serving delicious local cuisine.
Day 5: River Cruising
Day four of your Road Trip to Bordeaux and the Basque Country sees you heading off on a private cruise down the beautiful Courant d'Huchet river, which connects Etang de Leon lake to the sea. Flanked by a tngle of vegetation on both sides, the channel takes you through gorgeous green landscapes and peaceful marshlands before heading out to sea.
The afternoon is yours to enjoy at leisure. With Le Landes Natural Park on your doorstep, there is glorious nature galore including the Ornithological Reserve of Teich - home to over 320 bird species - a huge pine forest and an eco-museum. For a truly memorable experience, we can arrange for you to fly over Lake Biscarrosse by seaplane for a bird's-eye view of the sublime scenery.
Day 6: Boat Around Archachon Bay
Your Road Trip to Bordeaux and the Basque Country continues today as you travel two-and-a-half-hours through Le Landes Park to Cap Ferret, a long lick of land west of Bordeaux. With its Atlantic beaches and rolling dunes, the area's laid-back landscapes are the perfect backdrop for an authentic escape on the coast.
After checking into your hotel, a former forestry worker's home in a quaint fishing village, set off for a boat trip along Archachon Bay aboard one of the area's traditional pinasse boats. Along the way, you'll pass Bird Island - home to over 150 bird species - and the Arguin sandbank with its curving dunes and brilliant blue waters. For lunch, tuck into a picnic of local oysters and wine and afterwards, take part in an optional visit to an oyster farm where you'll meet local oyster farmers and learn about oyster aquaculture.
Return to your hotel this evening for dinner in the restaurant and a nightcap while watching the sun set, the perfect end to a relaxing day at sea.
Day 7: Bordeaux Bound
Wave goodbye to Cap Ferret as you drive one-hour-and-20-minutes to the pretty port city of Bordeaux in France's famed wine-growing region.
Your base for the next two-night stay is a characterful 18th-century property in the city's Chartrons neighbourhood, known for its leafy streets, buzzing bistros and waterside restaurants. After getting settled into your hotel, we recommend enjoying an evening in the city with a delicious meal (we can suggest the best tables in town) and a nightcap in a laidback bar.
Day 8: Wine and Wandering in Bordeaux
Today, on the penultimate day of your Road Trip to Bordeaux and the Basque Country you'll be indulging in Bordeaux's most famous export: wine.
Begin the day with a tour of the city with a private guide who will introduce you to the city's highlights - including the UNESCO-listed quayside with its beautiful 18th century architecture and the Cite du Vin, a wine museum housed in a bold metallic building designed to resemble wine swirling in a glass - as well as its more secret spots.
After enjoying lunch in the city, we've arranged for you to go on an oenology course followed by a wine tasting in one of the area's premier vineyards. You'll learn about some of the region's best-loved vino varieties - including Medoc, Saint-Emilion, Graves, Sauternes and Pomerol - and taste three grand cru wines.
Day 9: Home Time
Sadly, today is the final day of your Road Trip to Bordeaux and the Basque Country. After a hearty breakfast at your hotel, pack up the car and drive eight-and-a-half-hours to Calais where you will cross back to Folkstone via the Eurotunnel. Should we wish to break the journey we can of course recommend somewhere en route to Calais to spend the night and break up the journey.
Kate L is our expert for this itinerary and, as a seasoned traveller, has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.