Gironde combines the pleasures of wine with the joys of the seaside. In the vineyards of Bordeaux, wines and grands crus abound, from Médoc to Entre-Deux-Mers, via the pretty town of Saint-Émilion, which should definitely be on your hit list. The vintages can be tasted in prestigious wine-producing châteaux, the mere mention of which (Yquem, Lafite, Rothschild...) brings the taste buds to attention. Round off a tour of the wine cellars with a visit to the futuristic Cité du Vin, in Bordeaux. Allow two days to exhaust the charms of the area's capital, most certainly one of France's most attractive cities. The ocean is not far away. Follow the Garonne to get to the Gironde, the largest estuary in Europe, at the mouth of which the Cordouan Lighthouse has stood for centuries. From Soulac-sur-Mer, the Atlantic coast runs south in an almost straight line with sandy beaches, down to the Bay of Arcachon and the elegant town of the same name. Then all that remains to be done is climb the famous Dune du Pilat to appreciate everything from the top of the highest sand dune in Europe!
A cinema in an old church, a warehouse converted into a cooperative garage, a concert-boat – Bordeaux is full of unusual venues that can easily slip by unnoticed should you be exploring its streets for the first time. To discover them, take the time to venture into the suburbs far from the touristy city centre.