The Ultimate 7-Day RV Road Trip Guide: Biarritz and Bordeaux
The Ultimate 7-Day RV Road Trip Guide: Biarritz and Bordeaux

The Ultimate 7-Day RV Road Trip Guide: Biarritz and Bordeaux


Embark on an unforgettable week-long road trip through the picturesque regions of Biarritz and Bordeaux in southwestern France. This guide is crafted to offer you an in-depth exploration of these stunning areas, renowned for their rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and vibrant culture. Traveling by RV or campervan provides the freedom to explore at your own pace, stopping to savor each destination’s unique offerings.

Where is it?

Biarritz: The Jewel of the Basque Coast

Biarritz, a coastal gem nestled in the French Basque Country, offers an exquisite blend of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. With its stunning beaches, world-class surfing spots, and elegant architecture, Biarritz is a destination that captivates the hearts of travelers. This charming city, known for its aristocratic elegance and relaxed beach vibe, is the perfect starting point for your road trip through southwestern France.

Grande Plage

The Grande Plage, or “Great Beach,” is the beating heart of Biarritz. This expansive sandy beach stretches along the city’s coastline, framed by the azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Grande Plage is a hub of activity, drawing sunbathers, swimmers, and surfers alike. The gentle waves make it an ideal spot for beginner surfers, while the soft sand and clear waters invite visitors to relax and soak up the sun.

The beach is bordered by the iconic Hôtel du Palais, a luxurious palace-turned-hotel originally built for Empress Eugénie. This grand building adds a touch of historical elegance to the beachfront, harking back to the days when Biarritz was the summer retreat of European royalty. The bustling promenade that runs alongside Grande Plage is lined with charming cafes, upscale shops, and vibrant markets, offering plenty of opportunities for people-watching and enjoying the seaside atmosphere.

Rocher de la Vierge

A short walk from the Grande Plage brings you to one of Biarritz’s most iconic landmarks, the Rocher de la Vierge. This dramatic rock formation juts out into the ocean, crowned with a statue of the Virgin Mary. According to legend, sailors who survived a shipwreck in the 19th century attributed their rescue to the Virgin Mary and placed the statue on the rock in her honor.

Accessible via a bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel, the Rocher de la Vierge offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Bay of Biscay and the rugged Biarritz coastline. The sight of the waves crashing against the rocks below and the vast expanse of the ocean stretching out to the horizon is truly awe-inspiring. This spot is a favorite among photographers and nature lovers, providing a perfect vantage point to capture the wild beauty of the Basque coast.

Cité de l’Océan

For those interested in marine science and the mysteries of the ocean, the Cité de l’Océan is a must-visit attraction. This innovative and interactive museum is dedicated to the study and celebration of the ocean. Through a series of engaging exhibits and cutting-edge virtual reality experiences, visitors can explore the depths of the sea, learn about marine ecosystems, and discover the history of surfing and oceanography.

The museum’s design, resembling a wave, is a nod to Biarritz’s status as a premier surfing destination. Inside, you’ll find exhibits that cover a wide range of topics, from the physical properties of ocean waves to the diverse life forms that inhabit the deep sea. The Cité de l’Océan also offers hands-on activities for children, making it a fun and educational stop for families.

Les Halles de Biarritz

No visit to Biarritz would be complete without a trip to Les Halles de Biarritz, the city’s vibrant central market. Open daily, this bustling market is a food lover’s paradise, offering a dazzling array of fresh produce, seafood, cheeses, meats, and gourmet products. The market is a great place to sample local Basque delicacies, such as Bayonne ham, Basque cake (gâteau basque), and a variety of pintxos (Basque tapas).

Les Halles is not just a market but a social hub where locals gather to shop, eat, and socialize. The lively atmosphere is infectious, and the friendly vendors are always eager to share their knowledge and offer samples of their products. Grab a coffee and a pastry at one of the market’s cafes, or pick up some ingredients for a picnic on the beach. The market’s central location makes it an easy stop during your explorations of the city.

Surf Culture in Biarritz

Biarritz is often referred to as the surfing capital of Europe, and for good reason. The city boasts several world-class surfing spots, attracting surfers from around the globe. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a complete beginner, Biarritz offers waves for all skill levels. The Grande Plage and Côte des Basques are two of the most popular surf beaches, known for their consistent waves and stunning views.

For those new to the sport, there are numerous surf schools in Biarritz offering lessons and equipment rentals. Experienced instructors provide guidance and support, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience on the water. Beyond the waves, the city’s surf culture is evident in its laid-back vibe, surf shops, and beachside cafes where surfers gather to share stories and tips.

Architectural Wonders

Biarritz’s architecture is a fascinating blend of styles, reflecting its evolution from a small fishing village to a glamorous seaside resort. The city’s buildings range from traditional Basque houses with their distinctive red and white facades to elegant Belle Époque mansions and modernist structures. Strolling through Biarritz, you’ll encounter architectural gems at every turn.

One of the most notable buildings is the aforementioned Hôtel du Palais. This opulent palace was built in 1854 for Empress Eugénie and later converted into a luxury hotel. Its grand design and sumptuous interiors have hosted countless celebrities and dignitaries over the years. Another architectural highlight is the Art Deco Casino Municipal, located on the seafront. This striking building features ornate detailing and offers a glimpse into Biarritz’s glamorous past.

Cultural Attractions

Biarritz is home to a variety of cultural attractions that showcase its rich heritage and vibrant arts scene. The Asiatica Museum houses an impressive collection of Asian art, including pieces from India, China, Nepal, and Tibet. It’s a unique cultural offering that highlights the city’s diverse influences.

For a taste of local history, visit the Biarritz History Museum, located in an old Anglican church. The museum chronicles the city’s transformation from a humble fishing village to a renowned seaside resort, featuring exhibits on its maritime heritage, surfing history, and famous visitors.

Throughout the year, Biarritz hosts a range of cultural events and festivals. One of the most notable is the Biarritz Surf Festival, which celebrates the city’s surf culture with competitions, film screenings, and concerts. Another highlight is the Fête de la Saint-Jean, a traditional Basque festival featuring music, dancing, and fireworks.

Bordeaux: The Heart of French Wine Country

Place de la Bourse

One of Bordeaux’s most iconic landmarks, the Place de la Bourse, is a must-visit. This magnificent square, designed by architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel in the 18th century, epitomizes the elegance of Bordeaux’s classical architecture. The square opens up to the Garonne River, providing stunning views, especially at dusk. The Miroir d’eau, or Water Mirror, is a modern addition that has quickly become a symbol of the city. This shallow reflecting pool alternates between a mirror-like surface and a misty spray, creating mesmerizing reflections of the surrounding buildings and offering a cool respite on hot days.

La Cité du Vin

For wine enthusiasts, La Cité du Vin is a highlight. This futuristic wine museum, located on the banks of the Garonne, is dedicated to the world’s wine cultures. The building itself is an architectural marvel, designed to resemble the swirl of wine in a glass. Inside, you’ll find interactive exhibits that explore the history of wine, its cultural significance, and the art of winemaking. The museum offers a multisensory experience with wine tastings from around the world and panoramic views of Bordeaux from its rooftop terrace.

Les Quais

The riverfront promenade, known as Les Quais, is perfect for a leisurely stroll. Stretching along the Garonne River, this revitalized area is lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops, creating a vibrant atmosphere. It’s a popular spot for both locals and tourists, offering beautiful views of the river and the iconic Pont de Pierre, Bordeaux’s oldest bridge. The promenade is also a hub for various events and markets, adding to its lively charm. Don’t miss a sunset walk here, as the golden hour casts a magical light over the cityscape.

Bordeaux’s Historic Center

Bordeaux’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a treasure trove of architectural and cultural gems. Wander through the narrow, cobblestone streets of the Saint-Pierre district, where you’ll find hidden squares, quaint cafes, and artisanal shops. Key landmarks include:

  • Cathédrale Saint-André: This Gothic cathedral, with its striking bell tower, the Tour Pey-Berland, is a masterpiece of medieval architecture. Climb the tower for panoramic views of the city.
  • Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux: An architectural masterpiece, this neoclassical theater is home to the Bordeaux National Opera. Its grand façade and opulent interior are truly impressive.
  • Rue Sainte-Catherine: One of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe, this bustling thoroughfare is a shopper’s paradise, lined with boutiques, department stores, and cafes.

The Wine Country

No visit to Bordeaux would be complete without exploring its world-famous wine regions. Bordeaux is surrounded by prestigious vineyards producing some of the finest wines in the world. Consider a day trip to the following areas:

  • Médoc: Known for its robust red wines, the Médoc region is home to many of Bordeaux’s most celebrated châteaux, including Château Margaux and Château Latour. The scenic Route des Châteaux offers a picturesque drive through the vineyards.
  • Saint-Émilion: This charming medieval village is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also a renowned wine region. Explore its historic streets, visit the impressive monolithic church, and enjoy tastings at some of the top wineries.
  • Graves: South of Bordeaux, the Graves region is famous for both red and white wines. Château Haut-Brion, one of the oldest and most prestigious estates, is a highlight of any visit to this area.

Culinary Delights

Bordeaux’s culinary scene is as impressive as its wines. The city boasts a wealth of dining options, from Michelin-starred restaurants to cozy bistros and lively markets. Local specialties include:

  • Canéles: These small, caramelized cakes with a custardy center are a Bordeaux delicacy. Enjoy them with a cup of coffee at a local patisserie.
  • Entrecôte à la Bordelaise: A classic dish of rib steak cooked in a rich red wine sauce, often served with crispy pommes frites.
  • Oysters: Fresh oysters from the nearby Arcachon Bay are a must-try. Enjoy them with a squeeze of lemon and a glass of crisp white wine.

For a truly memorable dining experience, consider visiting the Marché des Capucins, Bordeaux’s largest market. Here, you’ll find an array of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and seafood, as well as food stalls offering delicious prepared meals. It’s a great place to sample local flavors and immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant food culture.

Cultural Attractions

Bordeaux is a city that celebrates art and culture. In addition to its historic sites and wine heritage, the city offers numerous museums and galleries:

  • Musée des Beaux-Arts: One of the largest art museums in France, it houses an impressive collection of European paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from the Renaissance to the present day.
  • CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain: Located in a former warehouse, this contemporary art museum features works by renowned international artists, as well as temporary exhibitions and events.
  • La Base Sous-Marine: This former WWII submarine base has been transformed into a unique cultural venue, hosting art exhibitions, concerts, and performances.

Bordeaux also boasts a lively theater and music scene, with performances ranging from classical concerts at the Auditorium de Bordeaux to contemporary plays and dance shows at the Théâtre National de Bordeaux en Aquitaine.

Historic Significance


Biarritz has a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages when it was a small fishing village. By the 19th century, it had transformed into a fashionable seaside resort, particularly favored by European aristocracy. Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III, played a significant role in its rise to prominence by building a palace on the beach, which is now the luxurious Hôtel du Palais.


Bordeaux’s history spans over 2,000 years, marked by its strategic location and role in the wine trade. The city flourished under Roman rule and later became a major center for the export of wine to England in the Middle Ages. Bordeaux’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, showcases its wealth of architectural and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Place de la Bourse and the Gothic Saint-André Cathedral.

Highlights, Essential Sights, and Key Stops

Day 1-2: Discover Biarritz

Start your journey in Biarritz, where you can enjoy its pristine beaches, vibrant markets, and surf culture.

Grande Plage

The main beach of Biarritz, Grande Plage, is a wide stretch of golden sand that attracts sunbathers, swimmers, and surfers alike. The beach is bordered by elegant hotels and cafes, offering a perfect spot to relax and soak up the sun. The gentle waves are ideal for beginner surfers, while the bustling promenade provides plenty of opportunities for people-watching and enjoying the seaside atmosphere.

Rocher de la Vierge

A must-see landmark in Biarritz, the Rocher de la Vierge is a dramatic rock formation jutting out into the sea, crowned with a statue of the Virgin Mary. Accessible via a bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel, the site offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Bay of Biscay and the Biarritz coastline. It’s a fantastic spot for photography and appreciating the natural beauty of the area.

Cité de l’Océan

For a deeper understanding of the ocean and its mysteries, visit the Cité de l’Océan. This interactive museum offers exhibits on marine life, oceanography, and the history of surfing. Engaging displays, virtual reality experiences, and hands-on activities make it a fun and educational stop for visitors of all ages.

Discover Biarritz: The top 10 must-see tourist activities - Guide du Pays  Basque

Les Halles de Biarritz

This bustling market is the heart of Biarritz’s culinary scene. Open daily, Les Halles de Biarritz offers a wide variety of fresh produce, seafood, cheeses, and gourmet products. It’s the perfect place to sample local delicacies, pick up picnic supplies, or enjoy a leisurely meal at one of the market’s many food stalls.

Day 3: Bayonne and the Basque Country

A short drive from Biarritz, Bayonne is a charming town known for its half-timbered houses and vibrant Basque culture.

Cathédrale Sainte-Marie

This magnificent Gothic cathedral, also known as Bayonne Cathedral, is a must-visit landmark. With its twin spires and beautiful stained glass windows, the cathedral is an architectural marvel. Inside, you’ll find intricate wood carvings, a stunning organ, and a peaceful cloister that offers a quiet escape from the bustling town.

Musée Basque

Dedicated to Basque history and traditions, the Musée Basque offers a fascinating look into the region’s unique culture. The museum’s extensive collection includes traditional costumes, tools, and artworks that tell the story of Basque life from ancient times to the present day. It’s an excellent place to gain insight into the local heritage and customs.

Petit Bayonne

This lively district is filled with narrow streets, colorful houses, and an array of shops, cafes, and art galleries. It’s a great area to explore on foot, soaking in the vibrant atmosphere and discovering local boutiques and eateries. Don’t miss the chance to try some local Basque specialties, such as Bayonne ham and Basque cake.

Day 4: Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Hendaye

Continue your journey along the coast to Saint-Jean-de-Luz, a picturesque fishing village with a rich maritime heritage.

Port de Saint-Jean-de-Luz

The charming harbor of Saint-Jean-de-Luz is filled with colorful fishing boats and lined with seafood restaurants. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a fresh seafood meal while watching the boats come and go. The town’s maritime heritage is evident in its architecture and local culture, making it a delightful place to explore.

Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste

This historic church is famous for being the site of the marriage of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa of Spain in 1660. The church’s baroque interior is adorned with beautiful wood carvings, including a stunning altarpiece. The atmosphere inside is serene and contemplative, offering a glimpse into the town’s rich history.


Located at the Spanish border, Hendaye is a beautiful coastal town known for its long sandy beach and scenic promenade. The beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports, while the promenade offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Don’t miss the impressive Château d’Abbadie, a neo-Gothic castle built by the explorer Antoine d’Abbadie, which features an observatory and beautiful gardens.

Day 5-6: Explore Bordeaux

Drive north to Bordeaux, a city renowned for its wine and architecture.

Place de la Bourse

One of Bordeaux’s most iconic landmarks, the Place de la Bourse is a stunning square that showcases the city’s elegant neoclassical architecture. The square is bordered by beautiful buildings and features the Miroir d’eau, the world’s largest reflecting pool. The tranquil water surface creates mesmerizing reflections of the surrounding buildings, making it a popular spot for photography and relaxation.

La Cité du Vin

For wine enthusiasts, a visit to La Cité du Vin is a must. This interactive wine museum offers an immersive experience that celebrates the history and culture of wine. Exhibits cover everything from the ancient origins of winemaking to modern production techniques, and the museum offers tastings of wines from around the world. The building itself is an architectural marvel, designed to resemble the swirl of wine in a glass.

Les Quais

The riverfront promenade in Bordeaux, known as Les Quais, is perfect for a leisurely stroll. The promenade stretches along the Garonne River and is lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops. It’s a vibrant area where you can enjoy the lively atmosphere, watch boats on the river, and take in the beautiful views of the city’s historic buildings.


A short drive from Bordeaux, the village of Saint-Émilion is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its medieval architecture and world-class vineyards. Explore the narrow, cobbled streets, visit the monolithic church carved into the rock, and enjoy wine tastings at some of the region’s prestigious châteaux. The surrounding vineyards produce some of the best wines in Bordeaux, making it a paradise for wine lovers.

Day 7: The Arcachon Bay

End your trip with a visit to the Arcachon Bay, a beautiful coastal area known for its oyster farming and natural beauty.

Dune du Pilat

The Dune du Pilat is the tallest sand dune in Europe, standing at over 100 meters high. Climbing to the top of the dune offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, the bay, and the surrounding pine forests. It’s a unique and exhilarating experience, whether you choose to hike up the dune or simply enjoy the views from the base.

Île aux Oiseaux

This picturesque island in the Arcachon Bay is home to numerous bird species, making it a paradise for birdwatchers. The island is best explored by boat, and guided tours are available that offer insights into the local wildlife and the traditional oyster farming methods practiced in the area. The tranquil beauty of the island makes it a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Arcachon Town

The charming seaside town of Arcachon is known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant market, and stunning architecture. The town is divided into four districts, each named after a season, with the Ville d’Hiver (Winter Town) being particularly famous for its 19th-century villas. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the promenade, visit the bustling market to sample local delicacies, and relax on the sandy beaches.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to embark on this road trip is from late spring to early autumn (May to September). During this period, the weather is warm and sunny, perfect for outdoor activities and exploring the coastal and vineyard regions. Summer is peak tourist season, so expect more crowds, especially in popular areas like Biarritz and Bordeaux. Spring and early autumn offer a more relaxed experience with milder temperatures and fewer tourists.

Route Details

Route Overview

The route from Biarritz to Bordeaux is approximately 200 kilometers (124 miles) and can be comfortably covered in a week, allowing ample time to explore each destination. The trip can be divided into manageable driving segments, ensuring you can enjoy the scenic beauty and attractions along the way.

Suggested Route

  • Day 1-2: Biarritz
  • Day 3: Bayonne
  • Day 4: Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Hendaye
  • Day 5-6: Bordeaux
  • Day 7: Arcachon Bay

Driving Tips

  • Road Conditions: The roads are well-maintained and signposted, making navigation straightforward. However, be aware of narrow streets in historic towns and plan your route accordingly.
  • Toll Roads: France has an extensive network of toll roads (autoroutes). Have some cash or a credit card handy to pay tolls.
  • Fuel Stations: Fuel stations are plentiful along the route, but it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your fuel gauge, especially in rural areas.

Examples of Places to Stay with a Campervan

Biarritz Camping

Located close to the city center and beaches, Biarritz Camping offers excellent facilities including spacious pitches, modern amenities, and easy access to public transportation. It’s an ideal base for exploring the city and nearby attractions.

Website: Biarritz Camping

Camping de la Corniche, Hendaye

This campsite is situated near the beach and offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. With its family-friendly atmosphere, it provides various amenities including a swimming pool, restaurant, and direct access to the coastal path.

Website: Camping de la Corniche

Yelloh! Village Saint-Émilion

Nestled in the heart of the Saint-Émilion vineyards, this campsite is perfect for wine enthusiasts. It offers well-equipped pitches, a swimming pool, and organized wine tours, providing a unique and immersive experience.

Website: Yelloh! Village Saint-Émilion

Airotel Pyla Camping, Arcachon Bay

Located at the foot of the Dune du Pilat, Airotel Pyla Camping offers breathtaking views and direct access to the beach. The campsite features modern facilities, including a swimming pool, restaurant, and various water sports activities.

Website: Airotel Pyla Camping

Biarritz and Bordeaux

A road trip through Biarritz and Bordeaux is a journey filled with natural beauty, historic charm, and culinary delights. Whether you’re surfing the waves in Biarritz, exploring the vineyards of Bordeaux, or climbing the Dune du Pilat in Arcachon Bay, this region offers something for every traveler. Traveling by RV or campervan enhances the experience, allowing you to immerse yourself in the scenic landscapes and vibrant culture at your own pace. Pack your bags, hit the road, and prepare for an unforgettable adventure in southwestern France.

For more information on planning your trip, visit the following resources:

Happy travels!