Hiring an Avis car gives you the freedom to explore this mouth-watering region
The Bordeaux region is the perfect setting for a memorable romantic break, so rent a car and explore more with your loved ones. Add medieval history, the ocean and a dash of legendary local cuisine – eels, lamb and mullet in delicious red wine sauces –and you've got all the ingredients for a long-term love affair.
Test drive this two-day road trip for the best of Bordeaux Pick up your hire car from Avis Bordeaux Airport and drive north along the Gironde River for the world-famous vineyards of Pauillac, then cross the Garonne by ferry to Angoulême to discover an enlightening snapshot of comic-strip history.
Cruise south along quiet country roads to the medieval town of Saint-Émilion and spend a blissful night in the shadow of the 12th-century church. Drop into the village of Sauternes for some foie gras, then end your journey on the coast at Arcachon with a breath of pure Atlantic air. Drive back to Bordeaux and drop off the vehicle at one of our Avis Bordeaux locations.
High points en route
Pauillac – Bon for bon vivants The Médoc, the wine-making region north of Bordeaux, is a oenophile's dream, with Pauillac at its heart. Make an appointment to visit the famous Château Mouton-Rothschild to taste a vintage drop at the museum and view the superb collection of wine-themed artworks. Take lunch at the two-Michelin-star Chateau Cordeillan-Bages restaurant and savour the tender Pauillac lamb.
Angoulême – Comic relief Around a 100km drive northwest from Bordeaux, this cathedral city is an undiscovered gem. Once the cradle of the French paper industry, it is now the centre of the country's comic strip production. Visit the Centre National de la Bande Dessinée, which owns over 4000 of them, including Astérix, Tintin and many others. Try to spot the cartoons painted onto the sides of buildings as you wind your way up the hilly streets of the vieille ville (old town).
Saint-Émilion – History and heritage Drive back south to this fortified medieval town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Try a macaroon, a local speciality dating back to 1620, before visiting the splendid 12th-century church that dominates the skyline. You won't have far to go to retire – the five-star Hostellerie de Plaisance is underneath the church in what used to be a monastery. Rooms are named after local wine domains and the highlight is the sumptuous Pétrus suite.
Sauternes – Viticultural village It's a tranquil, easy drive to the village of Sauternes, the perfect location to pick up a souvenir bottle of the golden dessert wine of the same name – made from grapes affected by the noble rot fungus, which enhances its distinctive sweet flavour. Savour the foie gras or Roquefort cheese at the quaint Auberge Les Vignes restaurant, close to the village’s pretty church.
Arcachon – Ocean drive For a refreshing change, point your car west to the Côte d'Argent and the seaside town of Arcachon, where the Bordelais escape en masse on summer weekends. The ville d'hiver (winter town), with its wide, curved streets of grand early 20th-century villas and mansions, is perfect for a relaxing afternoon constitutional. For a more arresting sight there's the spectacular Dune du Pyla – at over 100 metres the tallest sand dune in Europe is France's very own slice of the Sahara.
Free time on your hands? Take your pick from the following gems
1. Ile d'Oléron – Island paradise France's largest island after Corsica, linked to the mainland by bridge, features mile upon mile of unspoilt white-sand beaches and a verdant interior of pines, tamarisks and evergreen oak. You'll be hard pushed to find fresher oysters than at the daily fish market in the pretty port of La Cotinière, while Le Marais aux Oiseaux bird park is too good to be restricted to twitchers, home to almost 500 types of bird, including rare and endangered species.
2. Cognac – Spirited away This town needs no introduction, being the place where the most prized type of brandy was invented in the 1600s. Its imprint is everywhere, from the faint scent hanging in the air among the half-timbered buildings of the old town to the restaurants around Place François Ier that serve local delicacies marinated in it. Learn the history of the top tipple with a tour of the Hennessy distillery.
3. Entre-Deux-Mers – A worthwhile pilgrimage With its scattered bastides (walled towns) and rolling green hills, this area is also known as "little Switzerland" and is the prettiest of the Bordeaux wine regions. Visit the awe-inspiring La Sauve-Majeure, a ruined 12th-century abbey that was once a stopping point for pilgrims on their way to Spain. The remarkable views of the nearby village and surrounding vineyards from the top of the bell tower reward the effort of climbing the stairs!
4. St-Macaire – A work of art A short motor south is the historic bastide village of Saint Macaire, which still has its original battlements and contains a beautiful medieval church, the Eglise-Prieuré. The tourist office doubles as a Maison du Pays selling local produce – the delectable honey is particularly noteworthy. Nearby at St-André-du-Bois is the grand but tranquil Château de Malromé, once the summer home of the French artist Toulouse-Lautrec.
5. Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Martillac – Spa-ing partner At this charming wine château you can follow the fascinating tour and tasting (reserve in advance) with a stroll around the picture perfect, peacock-filled gardens. Then head around the corner to the luxury Les Sources de Caudalie spa, where you can indulge your loved one with vine-derived therapies such as a Merlot wrap or a crushed Cabernet scrub.and snorkellers.
Your road trip across Bordeaux awaits … and the open road lies ahead
With offices in over 5,000 locations across 165 countries, Avis can help with your car rental needs wherever you are in the world – and help turn a drive into an experience.