Bucket and spade hols

Activities

Ocean beaches

this being the Côte d'Argent (the silver coast) there's almost 100kms of ocean beach to choose from. All the main towns have supervised bathing areas but if they're too busy, without venturing too far along you can usually find a quieter patch (though sometimes unsupervised - ocean currents can be strong so only good swimmers should venture out of the shallows). The sea is as always great for swimming, a splash about or a simple paddle. The beaches are sandy spacious allowing for sand castle creation on a grand scale. For the ultimate 'sand' experience why not take a trip to the Dune du Pilat in Pyla which is the largest sand dune in Europe.

Lake beaches

The areas lakes ('étangs') offer a lovely alternative to the ocean, with beaches perfect for toddlers and with the added comfort of shady picnic areas close by. Try the etangs de Lacanau and d'Hourtin-Carcans. They are delightfully tranquil.

Cycling

France looks after its cyclists well, and the Médoc Bleu is no exception: it enjoys a 141km stretch of prepared trail along the Médoc coast from the northern Pointe de Graves to Cap Ferret, which has the additional benefit of being relatively flat! It's a lovely, safe way to get around; Bicycle hire is available in Soulac.

Golf

locally Grayan has a small golf practice area on the site where a new golf club is planned however good golf courses including the highly-rated Golf du Médoc and Golf de Lacanau-Ardilouse are close by. If crazy golf is more your style then this is available at The Relax cafe/bar. Fishing - lake fishing is available in Grayan and sea fishing trips are available from Port Medoc.

Walking

paths wind through the forest, around lakeshores and over dunes all along the coast.

Surfing

Aquitaine is Europe's home of surfing, and the Médoc Bleu region is no exception. Soulac, Montalivet and Le Gurp all offer good surfing, and have hire shops and surf schools. Sailing and wind-surfing are also popular, especially on the lakes at Lacanau and Hortin.

Horse-riding

horse-riding is popular, with several 'centres équestres' (including in Soulac) offering courses and treks for beginners and more experienced riders in the forest and along the beach. Pool - there is a pool table at The Relax Cafe/bar. Alternatively look out for the game of French billiards. This can be seen being played most days in St Vivien.

Wine-tasting

the Médoc rouge, a short east from the Médoc Bleu, is home to the world's most famous châteaux, including Château Margaux, Château Lafite and Château Mouton-Rothschild. Many (but not all) offer tours and tastings by appointment. The Gironde Tourist Office also publishes the excellent 'Trips to the Bordeaux Vineyards' which includes a detailed section on the Medoc - please contact them via their website for details.

Sky-diving

There is a small airstrip and skydiving club at Soulac. For the novice tandem jumps can be arranged. Experienced jumpers need to bring their relevant paperwork with them. Equipment can be hired.

Shopping

Markets are plentiful. You can find them at Montalivet,St Vivien and Soulac. Slightly further afield is Lesparre or onto Bordeaux which has a large and charming pedestrian zone. Here you will find some of the world's most popular brand names on parade: Cartier, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss, Mont Blanc, Christian Lacroix, Rolex and Tartine et Chocolat. There are also plenty of less expensive French chain stores here, as well as numerous locally-owned boutiques. If rumaging for antiques is more your style you can find brocants in Soulac, Lescapon and Valeyrac. Supermarkets are available in Soulac, Vendays and Lesparre.

Eating and Drinking

the local area boasts a wide choice of places to eat out. You can enjoy tapas with an apperitif. You can have couscous, chinese food, pizza's and grills or you can splash out on some 'posh nosh'. The area is best known for oysters which are readily available. Other popular dishes seen on many menus is Moule Frites (mussels and chips) and raclette which is a sort of French fondu (for want of a better description). Popular drinks are first and foremost the locally produced wine, red, white and Rose. A delicious local apperitif is Pineau (a fortified wine which should not under any circumstances be confused with Sherry) either white or rose. Cocktails to savour are the Mohito or punch both of which are white rum based.

Places of Interest

in Soulac include The Unesco World Heritage Site, Musee de Souvenir, Musee d'Art et d'Archeologie and the Notre Dame de la Fin des Terres basilica. The Tourist Office offers guided tours in English if wished. You can take a boat trip from Le Verdon to the Cordouan Lighthouse to learn about the Cockleshell heroes as well as pick some mussels to take home to cook for supper. It is quiet an experience to walk around surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.

Petanque

can be seen being played in almost every town and village. Why not join in.

Flora and Forna -

local to the are includes, obviously vines for wine making. Mimosa trees are beautiful when in bloom having an almost lime green hue. Pine trees grow well in the sand. Obviously Mirabelle trees producing the wonderful plums. In gardens around you see calla lillies in white, orange and red. Mushrooms grow readily in the forest and mushroom picking is a popular local pastime. Hunting for deer and wild boar (le chasse) is very popular in the Medoc. The countryside also has many beautiful birds (owls, birds of prey and many more). Rabbits bob about the woods, coypu populate the waterways and lizards scamper about in the sunshine.

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