Do you have ten days, a car, good company and maybe even a passion for wine? This is the itinerary for you.
In this post I will tell you about our tour in the south of France, it will be a practical post to help those who intend to organize a similar trip.
Let’s start from the basics:
- Days: 10 days, the first ten of September
- Stages: Lyon > Bordeaux > Dune du Pilat > Cap Ferret > Saint-Émilion > Toulouse > Carcassonne > Montpellier > Aix-en-Provence
- Ground kilometres: 2,700 km
- People: 4 (my family) + the navigator (see this post: The conflicting friendship between my father and the navigator)
- Total cost of the trip: 700/800€ per person all inclusive (the car was ours, not rented)
- Visited cities: 8
- Means used: our car, in fact
We left home with our car and crossed all of France from Lyon to Bordeaux. On our way back we passed through the south, along the Provence arriving in Italy passing by the coast.
As usual I drew the map below.
After the general floatation, we move on to the stages. We spent two nights in Lyon, five in Bordeaux, one in Toulouse and one in Montpellier.
In Bordeaux we stopped to visit all the surroundings: the Dune du Pilat, some ocean, Saint-Émilion, Cap Ferret and other small villages nearby.
A – Departure, in our case Bologna
B – Lyon
I expected nothing from Lyon, but I really liked it. This thing that the two rivers (the Rhône and the Saône) meet right in the center of the city I like very much.
Not to be missed:
The whole area of Vieux Lyon
Walk through the markets along the banks of the Rhone
The traboules: you enter through a door and you come out three streets further on
The hill of Fourvière with its splendid Basilica (reachable by funicular)
Dinner in one of the typical Lyonnais bouchons (be careful not to end up in the classic tourist traps)
The peninsula between the two rivers, the Presqu’Île, the vital centre of the city, in particular the walk from Place des Terreaux to Place Bellecour
C – Bordeaux
Elegant, elegant, French without the mouths of the French. Pacata, kind, warm. Also this city was a beautiful surprise. In the evening it gives its best. You can visit Bordeaux walking far and wide with your nose up.
The most impressive place is the Place de la Bourse, a gigantic square with a magnificent carpet of water that reflects the lights of the city overlooking the Garonne.
D – Dune du Pilat
The Dune du Pilat is a mountain of sand, more than 100 meters high, more than 3 kilometers long.
I was there, 1.60 meters low, in front of a colossus 60 times taller than me.
Twice the Tower of Pisa, five Christmas trees of the Rockefeller Center in New York, a Pirellone, a skyscraper in Cesenatico, much more than a Statue of Liberty.
Do you understand how impressive that is?
When you get up you’re left speechless.
On the coast of the dune the view is 360 degrees: 180 degrees of infinite ocean, 180 degrees of pine forest as far as the eye can see.
E – Cap Ferret
The maritime villages of the Gulf of Arcachon are very nice, this I point out in particular because it has a beautiful lighthouse on which you can climb and from which you can see the whole basin. The beaches of Cap Ferret are very long and deserted. The ocean is crazy and superblu. Some areas are particularly frequented by nudists, we have noticed a little late.
F – Saint-Émilion
A village that looks like a watercolor a few kilometers from Bordeaux famous for its wines and cellars (chateaux). To do: take your car and drive around, get lost in the hills and the beautiful chateaux that really look like castles but surrounded by vineyards. It’s like being in a movie.
G – Toulouse
I wasn’t particularly excited about Toulouse. Very nice walk along the Garonne. Very particular the architecture of Cathedrale St-Etienne. City full of clubs and young people. One day is more than enough.
H – Carcassonne
This is a place that would have thrilled me as a child: it speaks of the Middle Ages, of knights, ladies, witches, intrigues, banquets and lace. The old town inside the walls is very touristy and a bit ruined in my opinion. But the whole promenade of the walls is amazing.
I – Montpellier
Viva! It’s a living, pulsating, smiling city! We happened to Montpellier on Friday: from June to September every Friday evening Montpellier lights up with Les Estivales, an event that revives the city centre with shows, concerts, stalls and markets. Even in winter there is something similar, in December: Les Hivernales, of course with a Christmas theme.
J – Aix-en-Provence
Arriving in Aix-en-Provence, it seems as if we are slowly getting into a film.
Have you seen a good year? Take Russell Crow out and add the macarons.
Even the light looks different when the places are so beautiful.
We’ve walked a lot through Aix, far and wide.
Don’t miss Book in Bar, a beautiful place, a bookshop+bar of yesteryear.
Aix-en-Provence is an enchanted place, which alone is worth the trip. It’s worth seeing everything, every corner and every café, every square and every market.
Avoid like the plague on weekends, they will make you hate this enchanting place.
How children (and adults) play in Bordeaux
Café in Bordeaux
Walking in Bordeaux
Overview, Dune du Pilat
Travel notes to the Dune du Pilat
Cap Ferret, the deserted beaches
The lighthouse of Cap Ferret
Cap Ferret, the ocean
Cloister of the Collegiate, Saint-Émilion
The view from Saint-Emilion
The wines of Saint-Émilion
The countryside around Bordeaux
The splendid Carcassonne
The small houses of Toulouse
Toulouse by night
Fine posters in Toulouse
Jardin Japonais, Toulouse
Details of Aix-en-Provence