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Itinerary and tour company suggestions

I will be spending one week in Arcachon France in September and am interested in a wine tour of Bordeaux. Are there any companies that operate out of Arcachon? Also, if I want to explore the coast south towards Spain (maybe spend a day in Bilbao or San Sebastian), is there a tour company/driver or do I need to rent a car? Any other itinerary suggestions?
Thank you!!

Posted by
1920 posts

Go to Rick Steves Guides Marketplace on this website. Home / Our Tours / Guides' Marketplace
Many wonderful guides who know the area you want to explore.

Posted by
882 posts

We're evaluating a similar trip for October and figure we'll fly to/from Bordeaux and just rent a car at the airport. If you're able to schedule a tour of any of the First Growth Chateaux I'd love to hear about it. BTW - The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil is a great resource.

Posted by
18741 posts

These are places I've enjoyed between Arachon and Bilbao. They have nothing to do with wine.

In the French Basque Country:
Bayonne (my favorite; nice medieval center)
St-Jean-de-Luz (cute coastal town)
Biarritz (didn't appeal to me as much)

In the Spanish Basque Country:
Hondarribia (nice medieval area on top of hill)
San Sebastian (gorgeous beach and pretty town; very touristy)
Zumaia/Getaria/Zarautz (small coastal towns)
Bilbao (my favorite in this area; large medieval district and less touristy than S.S.)

There are other worthwhile places in both areas. However, every place I've mentioned is accessible by public transportation. As someone who has never rented a car in Europe, I'd be more inclined to design an itinerary that would really make use of the car you're going to have. What about seeing a bit of the area around the Dordogne/Lot? It's a beautiful area with many attractive villages. The larger towns are manageable by bus and trains, and there are many very nice ones. But to get to the smaller places a car is either essential or very advantageous. That area is worth a lot more time than you're probably willing to spend away from Arachon and the wine destinations, but I'd still consider it.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you for all of these suggestions. We have heard wonderful things about Dordogne and would love to get there , but don’t want to be stretched too thin. We definitely want to spend one full day doing wine. Any other wineries that are must see/tour in the area?

Posted by
131 posts

We are touring that area in Aug/Sept this year via bicycle so I can't help with tour guide information. We are starting our biking tour from Bordeaux, heading to Pauillac in the Medoc before heading up the Atlantic Coast and then coming back down to Arcachon. From there we go across to the Graves region and will stay in Martillac before heading to the Canal des Deux Mers (Canal Garonne and the Canal du Midi), ending in Perpignan 6 weeks later.

The books I've used to help us decide where we should explore are noted below. I'm looking for the wineries that will be fun to cycle past or perhaps ride up to the chateau rather than tastings and these books were all helpful in their own way:

Exploring Wine Regions: Bordeaux by Michael Higgins
Wine Regions of France - Michelin Guide
Lewin Guides to Wines and Top Vineyards by Benjamin Lewin There are almost 20 guides in the series so you can pick and choose which ones are relevant.
The Wine Bible - mentioned previously is a terrific resource.

I'm sure you know that not all wineries in France welcome visitors which is why a guide is a great idea. There are likely more guides in the area around Bordeaux rather than Arcachon. The local tourism offices are always a good place to try if you can't readily find anything via a web search.