The white and red horizontal bands are now part of the decor when you walk around Bordeaux. For the past ten years, a “green loop” has already made it possible to cross the Girondine capital and its neighboring cities, according to their parks and gardens. Here it became a long-distance hiking trail a few weeks ago.
“A sign of recognition and quality for French and foreign walkers”, we rejoice at Bordeaux Métropole. Intended for hikers of all backgrounds, the circuit can be roamed over several days or in sections for a day trip. “The GR crosses a dozen local loops which allow each to discover a district or a commune in more detail, it is a good starting point for a walk”, adds Michèle Rigaud, president of the Bordeaux pedestrian touring, an association of hikers .
The peri-urban circuit has many advantages. More than half of the route is accessible to people with reduced mobility. It can also be reached by public transport such as the bus, tram or batcub, this boat which crosses the Garonne and offers a short cruise with a view for the price of a tram ticket.
North-east of Bordeaux, the GR crosses several wine chateaux of the 19th century and offers, from the Séguinaud park, a panorama of the Garonne and the industrial port of Bassens. A few kilometers away, one of the biggest elevations gives another view of Bordeaux. This belvedere, nestled 70 m above the Garonne, allows us to understand the city’s nickname, “the port of the Moon”, because of the crescent described by the river that crosses it.
The green island also presents 300 species of plants and 92 species of birds identified. It’s hard to imagine that the landscaped park and pond were previously a limestone quarry. Only a fine white trace remains on the skin when you immerse your feet in the turquoise water to cool off.
Like a pilgrim from the Middle Ages
The metropolitan GR could not avoid the historic center of Bordeaux, classified by UNESCO. Whether you have hiking shoes or sandals, this flat section of a few kilometers along the Garonne is an opportunity to admire the Place de la Bourse in front of the photogenic mirror of water, a few steps from the Porte Cailhau . The simplicity of the straight line route offers the opportunity to escape for a moment to admire the Grand Theater, at the end of the impressive Chapeau-Rouge course.
In the south-east, the GR winds from Bègles among the parks to reach the park and the priory of Cayac, in Gradignan, dating from the 12th century. The building, listed as a Historic Monument, is one of the last vestiges in the history of the great pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela. He always welcomes pilgrims. The circuit continues between vineyards, shared gardens and forests. It is not uncommon to come across locals returning from work or school, on portions of the trail.
In Pessac, the GR crosses the city Frugès, built by Le Corbusier in 1926. One of the fifty dwellings of the famous urban architect was transformed today into a museum and can be visited.
Further north, walkers can discover an old blowing snow, a mill or learn more about Magudas, which used to be the laundress district, before strolling through the “vegetable garden of Bordeaux” as the Jalles valley was nicknamed in the 19th century because of its market gardening tradition. The growers are still there.
Initially created to allow city dwellers to escape for a nature walk, the metropolitan GR of Bordeaux has become an original and varied bridge, between the past and the future of a rapidly changing agglomeration.
The long-distance hiking trail will also allow you to discover some of the eleven peri-urban shelters scattered throughout the Bordeaux conurbation. These unusual architectural works in the shape of an owl, star, cloud and even an orbital station have appeared, one by one since 2010, in parks and forests at the initiative of the Bruit du frigo collective.
Their small Spartan lodgings offer residents or passing visitors a free nocturnal break in the countryside. The luckiest will manage to spend the night there, but reservations are not easy for these popular huts. Otherwise, their original and aesthetic structure is worth a look. It’s up to you to find them, some are well hidden!