According to 800ZIPCODES, Gironde is a department located in southwestern France. Today Gironde belongs to the Nouvelle-Acquitaine region. Until 2016, Gironde was part of the former region of Aquitaine, which was dissolved on January 1, 2016. The economy of Gironde used to be based mainly on trade and seafaring. Viticulture was soon added to this and today industry and tourism also make a significant contribution to the success formula of this department. Dutch tourists know how to find Gironde in large numbers every year. You can even call this one of the most popular areas in France. It is striking that it is mainly campers who make the drive to Gironde. The Dutch mainly stay at the campsites that can be found along the coastal strip of the Atlantic Ocean. A little further inland people mainly stay in holiday homes, gites and hotels.
The nice thing about Gironde is that it is a very varied area where there is plenty to see and do. You can be active here, for example in the form of windsurfing, hiking or cycling, but thanks to the pleasant climate you can also relax here during an ‘everything is possible but nothing must’ holiday. For wine lovers, the Gironde is a true paradise. The best wineries in France ripen their grapes here on the vines that are provided with the necessary amount of moisture and sunshine in the somewhat hilly landscape. In Gironde there are also many nice villages and towns where you can see, feel and experience the real France.
Top 10 things to do in Gironde
Bordeaux is the largest city and capital of Gironde. If there is one place in Gironde you must visit, this is it. In Bordeaux you can easily enjoy yourself for a few days. A whole day in Bordeaux is the least you should plan. You can then choose to get a quick global impression of the city by means of an organized bicycle tour. What makes Bordeaux so unique is the atmosphere and the way in which urban renewal has been done in recent years. What is beautiful has been preserved. Other parts have been given a new function, creating new spots. Sometimes hip, often beautiful and above all special. Bordeaux has a lot to offer and yet is not overrun with tourists.
Among wine lovers, the name Saint-Émilion will immediately ring a bell. Many Grand Cru wines come from here. But it is not only the many high-quality wine chateaus that make Saint-Émilion so special. The village is an attraction in itself. Saint-Émilion is a charming medieval town that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historic character. The way the village is built contributes to the overall atmosphere of the town. Differences in height, historic buildings, attractive squares and partly car-free streets ensure that Saint-Émilion has an exceptional beauty.
#3. Dune of Pilat
Along the coast of Gironde lies the highest dune in Europe: the Dune du Pilat. The name of this huge sand dune is also written as Dune de Pyla. The dune was created by the growth of a sandbank on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. This started in the eighteenth century and now there is a dune that is about three kilometers long, 500 meters wide and more than 100 meters high. The highest spots are on the east side. If you look at the Dune du Pilat from the air, you will see a huge sand mass surrounded by forests. The fairly steep climb to the top can be partly covered by stairs. On the ocean side you walk through the loose sand, which is nice and strenuous for the calves.
Within the department of Gironde, many hectoliters of wine are produced every year. The centuries of experience in viticulture, in combination with the fertile soil and excellent climatic conditions, ensure that wines are made in Gironde that are among the best in the world. The Bordeaux wine region is known for its many grand crus. Viticulture has a major influence on the landscape. In many places you can see fields with vines. Between the grapes are beautiful chateaus where the wines are made. Many of these wineries can be visited to taste and buy wine.
#5. Blaye Citadel
The village of Blaye is located on the Gironde. Its location a few tens of kilometers north of Bordeaux was the reason to build a citadel on this strategic spot. In this way, Bordeaux could already be defended far from the city walls against unwanted visitors who would like to reach the city via the Garonne. The Citadel of Blaye was built in the 17th century under the supervision of the chief military engineer Sebastien Le Prestre de Vauban. To limit the dangers even more, he decided to build two more fortresses. Fort Pate was placed on an island from which one had a good view of Fort Blaye and Fort Medoc on the other side. This is also known as the ‘Vauban system’.
The Blaye Citadel is considered one of Vauban’s more beautiful fortifications. The historical complex is in excellent condition and can be visited free of charge. Thanks to its elevated position, the citadel offers a beautiful view of the surroundings, including the neighboring village of Blaye.
The Gironde department has many beautiful villages and towns. It is difficult to choose which villages in Gironde are the most beautiful. As far as we are concerned, the village of Cadillaccertainly to the more beautiful villages that you will find around Bordeaux. Cadillac was founded in the year 1280. In the course of the fourteenth century, the village was central to the development of the vineyards of Entre-Deux-Mers. Many good wines are still made here. Today the town has about three thousand inhabitants. Within a fairly compact area are attractions such as the classic Cadillac Castle, the ramparts, various gates and towers such as the beautiful Porte de l’Horloge and the striking Hotel de Ville with a covered market on the ground floor.
#7. Abbey of Sauve-Majeure
In the village of La Sauve is the Abbey of Sauve-Majeure. Founded in 1079, this abbey is considered an excellent example of Romanesque art. Today the abbey is a ruin, but one in which many style elements have been remarkably well preserved. The sculpture of the capitals is the main attraction of the Abbey of Sauve-Majeure. Today, the medieval complex is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. It falls under the registration of the Pilgrim Routes in France to Santiago de Compostela. During the summer season, the Abbey of Sauve-Majeure can be visited daily. During the winter season, this attraction is closed on Mondays.
#8. Castle of La Brède
The Château de La Brède is one of the castles built in Gironde. The medieval castle is one of the best-known châteaux in Gironde. This is due to the fact that Charles Louis de Secondat was born here. The name Montesquieu might rather ring a bell. This French philosopher is considered one of the most important philosophers of the Enlightenment. The Château de La Brède is open for visitors. You can see Montesquieu’s study and personal library, among other things.
Wine is not only made in Gironde. Many regional products are produced in the region, such as cheese, sausage and pâté. The best place to buy these kinds of treats is at the market. Scattered throughout Gironde, there are numerous weekly markets where you can buy delicious regional products, such as in Créon where the stalls are set up on Wednesday mornings. In addition to regional products, the markets are also ideal places to pick up flea markets. Among the second-hand items there is a lot of junk, but also pieces of curiosities that are unique and can be a nice addition to your interior.
Thanks to its location on the Atlantic Ocean, Gironde has a number of nice seaside resorts. Some of these seaside resorts are not located directly on the sea, but on the Bassin d’Arcachon. This bay has an area of about 150 square kilometers. Arcachon is the most famous and largest seaside resort on this inland sea. As early as the nineteenth century, Arcachon grew into an important seaside resort. In the first half of the twentieth century, Arcachon had grown into a chic seaside resort that was known beyond the French borders as one of the more beautiful tourist destinations in France. In the immediate vicinity of the water there are many villas that have been set aside in different architectural styles from the past. The main attraction of Arcachon is of course the large sandy beach. The location on the bay ensures that there is hardly any wave action or a treacherous current. Arcachon is therefore seen as an ideal seaside resort for families with children.