The Perfect South West France Road Trip: Itinerary & tips for planning a road trip in South West France

Are you planning a road trip in South West France? You’ve come to the right place!

I spent most of my life in this region so needless to say that I think that south west France is one of the most beautiful regions in the world.

There are many reasons to visit southwest France and opting for a road trip is a great way to discover everything this authentic region has to offer.

While public transport is not too bad, it won’t allow you to reach some of the best spots so exploring with a car will definitely enable you to see the best of the best!

There are plenty of things to do when you’re on holiday in south west France, from exploring our beautiful cities, discovering clifftops villages, hiking, kayaking and of course one tasting in the famous vineyards.

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know to plan your South West France road trip. This includes practical information, where to stay, what to do and of course some insider tips!

So, are you ready to get started with the ultimate South West France road trip? Let’s go!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you!

South West France Road trip

Planning a road trip in South West France

Before we get started with the itinerary itself, we will give you all the info you need to actually plan your road trip in Occitanie and Nouvelle Aquitaine.

When is the best time to go on a road trip in South West France?

This is a tough question because that really depends on what you’re looking for.

South west France region is known for its beautiful summers with long sunny days, but it can get quite hot during the peak season (July and August). Traffic can also be insanely bad near the coast. However, cities like Toulouse are rather empty.

If you’re looking for some peace and quiet or don’t want to deal with the crowds, I would recommend going in May-June or September-October.

Spring and autumn are also beautiful times to visit south west France, with fewer crowds than the summer but still lots of sunshine!

How to get to South West France

You can find airports in most of the major cities in south west France. Toulouse and Bordeaux are the main airports and all have international flights.

You will also find Ryanair airports in Carcassonne and Bergerac (which is handy if you are flying from the UK for example)

For ease and practicality, I recommend flying to Bordeaux or Toulouse. You will be doing a loop and both of these cities have major airports so it’s very convenient.

You will also have more options when it comes to car rentals in these places and can visit the city car-free and then book your car. This will save you a couple of days of rental and carpark.

However, as previously mentioned, Bayonne, Bergerac and Carcassonne are also on the road.

Where to find the best fares?

Here are where you can find the cheapest fares to the airports in South West France.

Renting a car in South West France

Once you have your flight sorted, it’s time to think about renting a car.

Obviously, no good road trip would be good without a car! Also, driving is definitely the best way to explore south west France as public transport will not take you everywhere.

There are many rental companies and most of them can be found at the airports.

That having been said, I would strongly recommend flying to either Bordeaux or Toulouse and exploring the city with public transport for a couple of days before renting your car.

Firstly, a car is not helpful in these two cities. Secondly, it will save you some money since you won’t keep the car for as many days and more importantly, you won’t have to worry about parking the vehicle (which is both a hassle and expensive in these cities).

Finally, renting a car in the city and not in the airport can sometimes work out cheaper but it really depends on what offers they have on which is why you should use a comparison website like Skyscanner to find the best deals.

Click here to find the best prices.

You can also check out these car rental companies since they are really good and sometimes have good offers on Europcar and Hertz.

Renting a car in France is pretty straightforward. You will need a driving license (+ international license if you come from outside of Europe) and a credit card.

If you’re under 25, you might have to pay a bit more for your rental so it’s always worth adding someone over 25 as a driver.

Don’t forget to take extra insurance for peace of mind (or check with your credit card issuer if that’s included). As much as I’d love to say that we are good drivers, let’s be honest, we aren’t really.

PRO TIP: Diesel is much cheaper in France than petrol so if you have the choice, opt for a diesel car.

PRO TIP 2: You will be exploring a lot of small villages which means you’ll also be driving on narrow and bendy roads. For this reason, I wouldn’t advise you to book a large vehicle. In this case, the smaller the better!

Packing list for South West France road

Obviously, it will vary depending on when you go in south west France (hot weather vs cold weather) but this should give you an idea of what to pack for south west france:

  • Dresses and shorts if you are visiting in summer
  • Jeans
  • T-shirts
  • Jacket – Something like a jean jacket should be enough most of the time.
  • A winter coat if you are visiting between November and March.
  • A pair of comfortable city shoes such as Converse.
  • A pair of hiking shoes – sturdy and comfortable since you’ll be doing a lot of walking!
  • A pair of sandals/flip flops – for the beach and walking around in the evening
  • Swimsuit(s)
  • Sunhat and Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses

South West France Road Trip itinerary

Now that you have nailed all the preparations, it’s finally time to start exploring south west France!

Here are all the best stops to add to your South West Road Trip!

Stop 1: Bordeaux

  • Recommended length of stay: 2 days

Bordeaux is a great place to start your road trip, especially since it’s home to one of the main airports in the region.

Bordeaux is famous in the entire world for its wine. If you are interested in learning more about the wine and culinary culture in France, there is no better place to start!

The city and its surroundings have a lot to offer so I would recommend allocating at least two or three days here.

Here are some of the best things to do in Bordeaux :

  • Visiting the Cité du Vin. If you are a foodie and want to learn more about wine in Bordeaux, heading to the Cité du Vin is a must-do! Here you will find 8 floors of exhibitions dedicated to wine and will get to taste some of the most delicious local wines while admiring the stunning views over the city. Entrance tickets can be purchased here.
  • Exploring the old town. It’s full of historical buildings and the perfect place to discover the UNESCO listed monuments. To make the best of this visit, join the local walking tour.
  • Eating Canelés. Bordeaux is known as the birthplace of Canelés so make sure to try one while you’re here!
  • Going on a cruise on the River Garonne. This is a cool thing to do if you want to discover the city from a unique angle. Prices here.

PRO TIP: If you are planning on visiting the Cité du Vin and taking a walking tour, you should consider taking the Bordeaux Metropole City pass. It includes access to these places as well as 15 other landmarks and you can take public transport for free! It can save you a fair bit of money. See prices here.

Stop 2: Saint Emilion

  • Recommended length of stay: 1/2 to 1 day
  • Driving time from Bordeaux: 50 minutes (48 km)

Located just outside of Bordeaux, on the way to the beautiful Dordogne, Saint Emilion is one of the most beautiful villages in south west France.

Its rich history and numerous vineyards have made it a popular spot for tourists, especially among wine lovers!

Not only will you get to discover beautiful landscapes but it’s also an excellent place to taste some world-famous wines!

There are several things to do in St-Emilion:

  • Visit a local winery and chateau and learn more about the Saint-Emilion grand crus. You can book a tour with wine tasting here.
  • Enjoy a leisurely walk in the village and around the vineyards (but don’t walk in the vineyard unless invited).
  • Wine themed Escape room. This is the perfect thing to do if you are at least 3 people. The escape room is set in a local vineyard. It includes the game as well as a wine tasting afterwards. It’s so much fun!

Stop 3: Bergerac

  • Recommended length of stay: 1/2 to 1 day
  • Driving time from Saint-Emilion: 1 hour (58 km)

Your next stop after Saint-Emilion will be Bergerac. You’ve officially made it to the beautiful Dordogne!

Bergerac is a beautiful small town located in the heart of the Dordogne department and on the side of the river Dordogne.

It’s famous for its timber frame houses but also for its wine. This area boasts some of the most famous wines in the world including the delicious sweet Monbazillac.

While you are there, make sure to:

  • Go to Notre Dame de Bergerac Church. This gorgeous neo-gothic church is ideally located in the town centre.
  • Stroll around the historic centre of Bergerac which is full of winding streets, local shops and beautiful timber-framed houses.
  • Visit the Maison du vin. Located in the old town, this is the perfect place to learn more about the wine culture in the area.
  • Wine Tasting. Since Bergerac is also famous for its wine, make sure to enjoy a glass or two and book a wine tasting.

Stop 4: Beynac-et-Cazenac

  • Recommended length of stay: 1/2 to 1 day
  • Driving time from Bergerac: 1 hour (61 km)

After spending some time in Bergerac, it’s time to continue and discover some of the most famous landmarks in the Dordogne.

Your first stop will be Beynac-et-Cazenac, which is just before Sarlat and Les Eyzies de Tayac.

Not only is Beynac one of the ‘plus beaux villages de France’ (most beautiful villages in France) but it’s also home to one of the most iconic medieval castles in France.

The Château de Beynac is located on top of a cliff and overlooks the river Dordogne. From there you can discover breathtaking views of the valley but also the other Dordogne castles such as the Château des Milandes which used to belong to Josephine Baker.

French culture tip: The castle was also featured in the French comedy movie ‘Les Visiteurs‘.

It was released in the 90s and stars Jean Reno and Christian Clavier as a medieval knight and servant.

Some of the scenes of the sequel were filmed in the castle.

You’ll understand pretty quickly since most French people come here to actually see the filming location. If you want to watch the movie before you go, it’s available here.

Stop 5: La Roque Gageac

  • Recommended length of stay: 1/2 to 1 day
  • Driving time from Beynac-et-Cazenac: 7 minutes (5 km)

Just down the road is La Roque Gageac, one of the most beautiful villages in south west France.

This village is built into the side of a cliff and offers some of the most amazing views over the river Dordogne. It’s so unique! You definitely won’t get to see that everywhere.

There are plenty of things to do in La Roque Gageac, such as:

  • Stroll around the village and take in the views of the ochre houses and cliffs.
  • Visit Château de la Malartrie which is a beautiful castle located on the edge of the village.
  • Wander around the exotic garden and Bamboo stand.
  • Take a boat ride on the river Dordogne. This is a great way to see the village and to get a closer look at this beautiful place.
  • Kayaking. If you like sports and the outdoors then you’ll be in for a treat since this is one of the best places in France to go kayaking. You will get to see the village from the river which is quite unique but you can also keep paddling and see all the castles previously mentioned from the valley.

Stop 6: Sarlat-La-Canéda

Sarlat in France
  • Recommended length of stay: 1 day
  • Driving time from La Roque Gageac: 17 minutes (14 km)

Your next stop will be Sarlat-La-Canéda, which is one of the most famous medieval towns in Dordogne.

It’s located in the heart of the Périgord Noir which is known for its truffles.

Sarlat is home to narrow streets, lovely squares and an authentic food market. It’s definitely worth a visit, especially if you love history and food!

Some of the things you can do in Sarlat-La-Canéda are:

  • Explore the old town and take in the beautiful architecture.
  • Visit the Cathédrale Saint-Sacerdos which is a beautiful gothic cathedral.
  • Visit the Manor Gisson
  • Have a drink or lunch in one of the lovely restaurants and discover the local dishes (foie gras, truffles…)

If you’d like to learn more about the culinary culture in Sarlat, make sure to join the gourmet tour of the market.

The guide will take you to the best spots and you will get to taste delicious food and wines. It’s an excellent way to learn more about these dishes and delicacies that although locally produced, are famous in the entire world. Click here to see the prices.

Stop 7: Grottes de Lascaux

  • Recommended length of stay: 1/2 day
  • Driving time from Sarlat: 30 minutes (27 km)

It would be impossible to visit Sarlat without taking a day trip to the world famous Grottes de Lascaux.

Located only 30 minutes drive from Sarlat, in the small village of Montignac, the Grottes de Lascaux are a set of caves that contain some of the most famous prehistoric paintings in the world.

The cave and paintings were discovered in 1940 by 4 teenagers. It opened a few years later to the public before closing again in the 80s.

Unfortunately, the carbon dioxide created by the visitors’ breath and sweat was damaging the paintings.

An exact replica was then created, just next to the original site. It’s called Lascaux IV and is the site that you will visit.

But don’t worry, it’s so well done that you wouldn’t actually know it’s not the original.

In order to visit the Grottes de Lascaux you will need to buy a ticket. Here you have three options:

  • Buy your ticket on-site. This is not recommended since it’s unlikely you’ll manage to get one unless you are visiting during the low season.
  • Buy your ticket online. You can buy your ticket on the official Dordogne ticketing site here.
  • Book a tour from Sarlat. You can also choose to book a tour from Sarlat which includes transport, ticket and a guided tour of the cave. This is also a skip-the-line which means you won’t be losing any time waiting. See prices here.

You will also find a museum which contains information about the discovery of the cave, its history and how it was reconstructed. It’s full of interesting info so don’t forget to check that out.

Stop 8: Rocamadour

  • Recommended length of stay: 1/2 to 1 day
  • Driving time from Montignac: 1 hour 10 minutes (62 km)

Once you are done with Lascaux, you will start heading south.

You will leave the Dordogne to enter one of the most underrated (but yet, gorgeous) French departments: le Lot.

Your next stop will be Rocamadour which is a famous clifftop village in the South West.

It’s one of the most famous villages in France (as in literally since it’s part of the ‘plus beaux villages de France’ association) and it’s easy to see why. The village is perched on a cliff, overlooking the Alzou river canyon. It’s simply beautiful!

Rocamadour is one of the most famous pilgrimage sites in France. It’s known for its Cité Réligieuse which includes several churches and chapels as well as the Black Madonna statue and the stunning Basilica of St-Sauveur.

Here are some ideas of things to do in Rocamadour:

  • Walk up the ‘chemin de croix’
  • Going all the way up to the basilica. The stairs to go up there are not that easy. Traditionally pilgrims would climb them on their knees so you can only imagine how hard it is. If you don’t fancy the walk up, you can take the cable car.
  • Eating delicious food. Rocamadour is known for producing some of the best goat cheese in France. They are called ‘cabécou’ and are well worth trying.
  • Monkey forest and Rocher des Aigles are both great places to visit with kids.

Stop 9: Gouffre de Padirac

  • Recommended length of stay: 1/2 day
  • Driving time from Rocamadour: 23 minutes (16 km)

Located only 25 minutes from Rocamadour, the Gouffre de Padirac is one of the best and most unique places to visit in South West France.

It’s is a natural limestone cave that was formed over millions of years by the action of water on the limestone rock.

The Gouffre de Padirac is one of the largest and most visited caves in France, with over 500,000 visitors a year.

The cave is around 100 metres deep and has a river running through it. This is why it’s so unique. This is not your traditional ‘boring’ cave. There is a river and all visitors get to take a boat trip on the underground river before visiting the cave on foot.

The cave also features impressive stalactites and stalagmites formations.

The visit is split into 3 parts:

  1. You will walk down in the gouffre (which means hole in French). This part kind of looks like you’re stepping into a Jurassic Park movie set.
  2. You will go on a small boat and the guide will bring give you loads of information about the underground river while paddling.
  3. Your guide will ‘park’ his boat and take you all around the cave for further info.

Tickets must be purchased in advance. While there is a front desk there and you technically can buy it on-site, it’s often hard to get tickets.

To avoid any disappointment, book them online.

PRO TIP: Since you will be underground for most of the visit, I always recommend taking a slot just before sunset so you get to see while you’re walking down and then it’s dark while you are in the cave. That’s the best use of your time.

Alternative: If you’re not too much into caves and would prefer to discover more cute villages, you can easily go to Loubressac and Autoire from Rocamadour. It’s a bit closer and they are all adorable places. You can also walk to the waterfall in Autoire (that’s a bit of a hidden gem!).

Stop 10: Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

Saint Cirq Lapopie in France
  • Recommended length of stay: 1 day
  • Driving time from the Gouffre de Padirac: 1 hour 10 minutes (65km)

Your next stop on your South West France itinerary is Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.

This stunning village is located on a cliff overlooking the Lot river and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular with photographers.

Also, it’s another ‘plus beaux villages de France’! It is known for its stunning views, charming architecture, and vibrant colours.

Here are some ideas of things to do in St-Cirq-Lapopie:

  • Wander around the narrow streets and discover how picturesque and unique this village is.
  • Check out the church. It’s located right on the edge of the cliff which is rather impressive.
  • Kayaking. You can rent a kayak from Bouziès and opt go kayaking on the river Lot, just underneath St-Cirq. Not only is it one of the best places in France to go kayaking but it’s also a great opportunity to discover the village from a new and unusual angle.
  • Check out the Towpath. Le chemin de halage is a path entirely built in the stone of the cliff. It’s super impressive!

Stop 11: Najac

Najac in Averyon - France
  • Recommended length of stay: 1/2 day
  • Driving time from Saint-Cirq-Lapopie: 55 minutes (45 km)

Your next stop is another beautiful village but this time it’s located in the Aveyron department.

While it is similar to the other villages you’ve seen, you should start noticing a lot of changes in the landscapes compared to the Dordogne or the Lot. We are heading South!

Najac is also one of the most beautiful villages in France however, it’s not as famous as Rocamadour or St-Cirq-Lapopie. Even the locals don’t even always know about it!

For this reason, it’s the perfect place to visit if you want to add some hidden gems to your road trip in the South West.

This medieval village is incredibly cute and boasts amazing views over the valley. You will also find the castle on top of the hill.

It’s very unique!

Here are some ideas of things to do in Najac:

  • Walk around the village and admire the beautiful medieval houses. If that’s something you are interested in, you should pop by the visitor centre first. They organise guided walking tours so you might want to join one.
  • Visit the castle. From the top of the village, you can walk all the way down and then back up to the castle. It can be visited inside.
  • Go on a hike to see some incredible views over Najac and the valley.
  • Kayaking. With the Gorges de l’Aveyron so close, it would be a shame not to try some water sports while you’re here!

Foodie tip: The Aveyron is known for its authentic and traditional cuisine. While you are in Najac, make sure to go to one of the local restaurants and get a menu that includes Aligot.

It’s a local speciality made with potatoes and cheese. It’s delicious!

Also, restaurants in Najac are often quite cheap so it’s a great place to get food if you are on a budget.

Pro tip: Since Najac is rather small, you can choose to spend 1 day or only half a day here. It’s up to you. If you wish to visit both Najac and Cordes on the same day, it’s entirely possible. It depends on how much time you have ahead of you.

Stop 12: Cordes-sur-Ciel

Cordes sur Ciel in France
  • Recommended length of stay: 1/2 day
  • Driving time from Najac: 30 minutes (26 km)

Located only 30 minutes drive from Najac, Cordes-sur-Ciel is located in the Tarn department and it’s one of the most beautiful villages in France.

It is a fairytale village, perched on top of a hill with stunning views over the surrounding area. It really does look like something out of a storybook!

Fun fact: Sur ciel in French means ‘on sky’. That should give you a good idea of what to expect!

Here are some ideas of things to do in Cordes-sur-Ciel:

  • Walk around the village and admire the beautiful houses, churches, and narrow streets. The visitor centre also offer walking tour so make sure to check them out.
  • Take the mini train. You can find a mini train at the entrance of the village. It takes you all around Cordes and up to les Cabanes so you can enjoy the view. If you are travelling with kids it’s worth considering it.
  • Discovering the medieval marketplace. Cordes is one of the best places in France to see examples of ‘halles’. It’s very big and is located in the middle of the village.
  • Shopping. Cordes is full of cute local shops with food, jewellery and other crafts. If you want to find unique souvenirs, it will be the perfect place.
  • Go for a walk to the view point. The best way to understand why Cordes is named ‘on sky’ is to head to the view point. From there, you’ll get to see the hill and the village. It’s so pretty. It’s also an easy 20-minute walk from the centre.
  • Visiting the chocolate and sugar museum. This is a fun and unique place to visit especially if you are with kids. Nothing boring here, just pure fun!

Stop 13: Albi

  • Recommended length of stay: 1 day
  • Driving time from Cordes-sur-Ciel: 30 minutes (25 km)

Now that you’ve seen many villages in the South West, it’s time to discover some of our beautiful cities!

Albi is a city located in the Tarn department. It’s best known for being the birthplace of painter Toulouse-Lautrec and for its stunning cathedral, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The city has a rich history and there are plenty of things to see and do in Albi. Here are some suggestions:

  • Walk around the Episcopal City and admire the beautiful medieval architecture in the walled area in the heart of Albi.
  • Take a guided tour of the cathedral. It’s an incredible building and well worth a visit. You’ll get to discover exactly why it was listed as a UNESCO site.
  • Visit the Toulouse-Lautrec museum. This is the world’s largest collection of works by the painter and it’s definitely worth a visit if you are interested in art.
  • Have a picnic in the park. There are plenty of green spaces in Albi, so find one that looks nice to you and enjoy a relaxing lunch break.
  • Go to Cap’Découverte. This is a super fun theme park located near Albi. You’ll find a bit of everything including an artificial ski slope!

Stop 14: Toulouse

  • Recommended length of stay: 2 days
  • Driving time from Albi: 1 hour (77 km)

Now it’s time to head to the largest city in the South West, Toulouse!

Toulouse is a vibrant city and there is plenty to see and do here.

It’s a rather ‘young’ city since there are so many students and for this reason, it’s very lively. It is nicknamed the pink city (La ville Rose) and is one of the most underrated cities in France.

Toulouse is also a great place to relax and enjoy some good South West food. Here are some suggestions:

  • Take a walking tour. While walking around the city centre is a great way to explore, if you can you should join a walking tour organised by the visitor centre. You will learn plenty about the history of Toulouse, the Calas case and the mix of medieval and modern architecture. It can be booked through the visitor centre and is included in the Toulouse Pass.
  • Visit the Place du Capitole and admire the beautiful buildings around it, including the city hall and opera house.
  • Take a stroll in the Jardin des Plantes and enjoy the quiet green space in the middle of the city.
  • Have a picnic at the Daurade. This is one of the best sunset spots in Toulouse and a great place to go for a picnic and drinks in the evening.
  • EAT! Toulouse has some amazing food and you’ll be spoilt for choice. Make sure to order a traditional cassoulet!
  • E-bike tour. Toulouse is an awesome city to discover with a bike. It’s flat and there are a lot of cycling lanes. For this reason, I’d highly recommend to consider the e-bike tour of Toulouse. It’s good fun and you’ll learn loads!

READ MORE: Toulouse Travel Tips: 10 Things you need to know before visiting Toulouse, France

Stop 15: Lourdes

  • Recommended length of stay: 1/2 to 1 day
  • Driving time from Toulouse: 2 hours (178 km)

Now that we are done with Toulouse, we are going to head further south and west and go through the stunning Pyrenees to make a stop in Lourdes!

Lourdes is best known for being a religious pilgrimage site and it attracts millions of visitors every year.

It was recognised as a place of pilgrimage because of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Saint Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.

However, even if you’re not religious, the city is worth a visit as it’s very pretty and has a lot of history.

Here are some things to do in Lourdes:

  • Visit the Grotto of Massabielle, where Saint Bernadette had her famous visions.
  • Take a guided tour of the city and learn about its history and the sanctuary. See prices here.
  • Visit the beautiful Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary.
  • Visit the castle. The Château Fort Musée Pyrénéen is a beautiful castle located on a hill in Lourdes. It boasts fantastic views of the Pyrenees and is a great example of medieval architecture.

Stop 16: Biarritz

  • Recommended length of stay: 1 day
  • Driving time from Lourdes: 1 hour 45 minutes (170 km)

Now we are going to make our way to the Atlantic coast and discover one of the cutest coastal towns in France, Biarritz!

It’s well known for its beaches, surfing and golfing. It’s also a great place to just relax and enjoy the sun and sea. Loads of French people choose it as a destination for their summer holidays and as soon as you get there, you’ll understand why.

Here are some things to do in Biarritz:

  • Surf! Biarritz is a world-famous surfing destination and if you’re interested in giving it a go, there are plenty of schools where you can learn.
  • Relax on the beach
  • Have lunch or dinner at one of the many restaurants located on the beach.
  • Visit the old town and admire the beautiful Basque architecture.
  • Walk to the lighthouse and discover beautiful views of the coast
  • Visit les Halles. This traditional market is an excellent place to get food and taste some authentic basque cuisine.

Stop 17: Bayonne

  • Recommended length of stay: 1 day
  • Driving time from Biarritz: 15 minutes (8km)

After Biarritz, we are going to head to Bayonne, which is only a short drive away.

Bayonne is a beautiful town and it’s well known for its Basque culture and food. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in learning more about this unique region of France.

It’s also particularly famous for its ferias in July so if you are visiting at this time of the year, it’s worth considering it. If that’s not something you are interested in though, I’d recommend skipping Bayonne altogether since you won’t get to do some sightseeing while it’s on.

Here are some things to do in Bayonne:

  • Walking tour. The best way to explore Bayonne is on foot and if you’d like to learn more about the main landmarks, this local walking tour will be ideal.
  • Sainte-Marie cathedral. Located in the heart of Bayonne, this gorgeous cathedral is an excellent example of gothic architecture.
  • Sample some of the delicious Basque food at one of the many restaurants located in the old town. Bayonne is also known for producing some of the best chocolate in France so it’s worth doing a chocolate tasting.
  • Walk along the river Adour and enjoy views of the city.
  • Musée Basque. This is the best place to learn more about Basque culture at traditions.
  • Going to les Halles. This is the traditional market in Bayonne and one of the best places in town to get food! Here you will find local products and delicious dishes. It’s a great place for lunch and it’s free to visit (you’ll have to pay for your food though but that’s up to you what you choose to buy or not).
  • Segway tour. If you’d like to do something a bit different, then you can opt for the segway tour of Bayonne.

Stop 18: Capbreton and Hossegor

  • Recommended length of stay: 1 day
  • Driving time from Bayonne: 20 minutes (22km)

Calling all outdoor lovers for this one!

After Bayonne, we are going to head south and explore the towns of Capbreton and Hossegor.

These two towns are located on the Atlantic coast. They are well known for their beaches and being one of the best surfing spots in France!

They’re also a great place to just relax and enjoy the sun and sea.

So, if you’d like to try to hit the waves during your holidays in South West France or just want to take a bit of a break and relax for a day, they will be the perfect spots.

You can choose to visit both in one day since they are very close to each other.

Otherwise, you can go to just Capbreton to relax and Hossegor is better for surfing.

Here are some things to do in Capbreton and Hossegor:

  • Surfing. As I mentioned before, these towns are world-famous for their surfing and if you’re interested in giving it a go, there’s plenty of schools where you can learn.
  • Relax on the beach. Notre-Dame, l’Estacade and la centrale in Capbreton are excellent options.
  • Walk to the l’Estacade pier in Capbreton for some beautiful ocean views and romantic atmosphere (especially at sunset).

Stop 19: Dune du Pilat

  • Recommended length of stay: 1/2 day
  • Driving time from Capbreton: 1 hour 40 minutes (167 km)

After Hossegor, we will be driving a couple of hours up to the Dune du Pilat.

The Dune du Pilat is a huge sand dune located near the town of Arcachon. At 107 meters high, it’s the highest sand dune in Europe and over 2 million people visit it each day.

If you’re looking for an adventure, this is definitely the place to go. You can hike to the top of the dune and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding area.

Not only is climbing it a unique experience but the views from the top are amazing!

Also, if you are a bit of a thrill-seeker, this is the perfect place to try paragliding!

Stop 20: Arcachon

  • Recommended length of stay: 1/2 to 1 day
  • Driving time from the Dune du Pilat: 15 minutes (13 km)

After the Dune du Pilat, we will be driving to Arcachon.

This seaside town is known for its beautiful beaches, seafood and architecture. It’s a popular day trip from Bordeaux so you will find loads of locals here.

It’s only 15 minutes drive from the dune so it would be a shame not to check it out. You can also do both in one day. No need to dedicate a day each.

Some of the things you can do in Arcachon are:

  • Going to La criée (fish auction). When it comes to seafood, Arcachon sets the standard and the best place to get fresh fish is at the port, in the morning. Fishermen come back and will sell their fish while shouting (crier means to shout in French). You’ll need to go super early in the morning though.
  • Explore the town and check out Notre-Dame Basilica.
  • Take a boat trip to the Bassin d’Arcachon. This is a natural bay located south of Arcachon is the perfect place to go on a day cruise. You can discover the famous bird island which is home to over 150 species of birds and to the unique cabanes tchanquées.

We hope this article has helped you, now is time to enjoy your amazing road trip in South West France!

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