A long hiking trail accessible via tram
To discover Bordeaux and its surroundings, what better mode of travel than walking? A good way to slow down and spend time observing the environment around us, all the while preserving it. Hiking is particularly conducive to Bordeaux as there is a trail going all the way around the city: the GR Bordeaux Métropole, the first metropolitan GR in France, certified in 2019 by the French Hiking Federation.
A hike that encircles Bordeaux Metropole
The GR Bordeaux Metropole winds through seventeen of the territory's twenty-eight municipalities and spans 160 kilometers. Designed as part of a metropolitan policy to encourage tourists and locals to take up "sustainable tourism", it allows one to discover and rediscover the richness and peculiarities of the territory, in terms of architecture, nature, culture and history alike.
"Rolling plains on panoramic hillsides, banks turned into preserved marshes," according to the topoguide "Around Bordeaux. Walks and hikes accessible via tram." The tool lists both technical data and points of interest from the hike, depending on one’s interests, free time, and level of fitness.
Loops and itineraries for shorter walks
On that note, in order to make the hike accessible to all, it is possible to do only certain parts of the itinerary. This is how the "Great Walks" and a dozen local loops were imagined. The idea is to allow walkers to discover this Metropolitan GR, and to survey urbanized neighborhoods and unspoiled areas of the Bordeaux metropolitan area, for half a day or day at a time.
Some are even accessible by tram or Bat3, such as "The Vine and the Architect" (on the side of Pessac and Mérignac, lasting 2 hours to 1 day), or "Water and clouds" (on the side of Cenon, Lormont and Floirac, lasting 1 hour to 1 day).
A hike that is sure to delight everyone
Whether you are in love with nature, architecture, or history, are curious or passionate, sporty or family-oriented, you will find something to love on this GR. In Bordeaux’s immediate vicinity, the port of Bègles offers a total change of scenery. The Rimbaud prairie, for example, is a symbol of Bègles rural past and was part of the Rimbaud family farm, which operated until 1975. Or on the side of the Priory of Cayac, located in Gradignan, which is a stop for pilgrims of Santiago de Compostela. There are also large wine-producing properties and numerous natural areas such as the Pessacian forest of Bourgailh, very popular today amongst hikers and sportsmen of the metropolis.
On the right bank is the Bouliac area which attracts the most hikers, because "this is where there are the most beautiful panoramas, the most beautiful views, the steepest drops", Bordeaux Metropole declares. There are many points of interest in addition to the parks and forests that line the Bouliac to Bassens route. These include the Floirac Astronomical Observatory, the old chartreuses of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Lissandre, Gelot and Blanchereau wash houses in old Lormont or the Rocher de Palmer, a friendly and multifaceted place dedicated to world cultures and music.
Scattered throughout the city, eleven suburban huts, i.e. real architectural works embodying "each in their own way the singular charm of the landscape from which they are inspired", deserve to be taken a look at or stopped by at night, provided you book at least one month in advance. At the Arcins Park in Bègles, hikers can discover "The Watchers", a hut whose design was inspired by small marsh owls.