"La route de la Corniche", a coastal road

The small but beautifully formed fortified town of Bourg is ideally situated at the confluence of the Dordogne and Garonne rivers. Historically important, it played a key role in the region’s defences, built in Roman times and falling variously under French and English rule.

Today’s Bourg is the starting point for a trip along the banks of the Dordogne to the mouth of the Gironde Estuary, the largest estuary in Europe, including this "Route de la Corniche", a coastal and scenic road. The scenery is stunning; even the town supermarket has wonderful views out over the water.

A must stop if you plan a weekend in the region!

The route de la corniche : following in the Captains footsteps...

The D669, a coastal and scenic road (E1) is also known as ‘The Route de la Corniche,’ or ‘The Captain’s Route’. It runs for around 8 kms along the banks of the Dordogne to the start of the Gironde Estuary, from Bourg-sur-Gironde to Villeneuve.

Start with Bourg itself

It’s a pretty little town, with a market, tea shops and several places to taste and buy the local wines (appellation Bourg but you can find wines from neighbouring Blaye here too). The town is perched on the banks of the Dordogne, with a smattering of 18C townhouses adorned with mascarons (stone faces) and forged iron balconies evidence of the booming trade of bygone days.

Built on a rocky outcrop 20 metres above The Dordogne, it’s a town with the 500 steps - known as the King’s Stairway-between tip and toe. Tiny, picturesque alleyways wind down to the harbour via the Porte de Mer. The port plays host to regular regattas. Do not miss to visit the citadel, underground and carriages museum.

In the upper town, the Citadel is worth exploring. It regularly plays host to cultural events, such as classical concerts, organised by the thriving Bourg Arts et Vins association. The annual salt fair ‘Foire Troque Sel’ is held in the port in early September, with a medieval fair taking place in the chateau gardens at the same time.

On the wine front, the exuberant local wines are gaining in reputation as a new generation of winemakers are changing how the wine is seen nationally and further afield.

The vaulted Maison des Vins offer a wide selection of local wines at chateaux prices. At weekends, the winemakers themselves take turns to hold the fort. The newly opened reception rooms and wine bar regularly host various events and organize "after-work" evening, every weekend.

Port et ville bourg  
Route de la corniche avec vélos  

Whilst the coastal road is passable by bike, there’s a reason the tourist office hires electric bikes! The narrow roads are winding and the hills are steep and frequent.

combinations of vines, water and stone

Route de la corniche  

This coastal and scenic road offers wonderful panoramic views with ever varying combinations of vines, water and stone, following the banks of Dordogne River. This is the Captains Route and their houses are still there, famous for their flowering gardens and the views out over the river towards the sea.

There are several small villages en route: the delightfully named Le Pain de Sucre (Sugar Loaf), Bayon, Marmisson, Gauriac and Roque de Thau, all have stunning panoramic views of the estuary.

Look out for the flowering gardens which flourish in the local microclimate, the troglodyte houses tucked away in niches in the cliffs, the fishing cabins with their traditional nets known as carrelets and the shipwreck which dates back to the second world war.

There are numerous picnic opportunities en route and the villages are worth exploring. The magnificent Chateau Tayac (with vineyards dating back to Gallo-Roman times) merits a detour, both for its wines and for the views out over the Bec d’Ambes (the point of confluence of the Garonne and the Dordogne).

The tourist office of Bourg offers an itinerary and audioguide which accompanies a game to be played en route. There are a series of windows looking out over the estuary, each one designed to offer a different view of the local flora and fauna.