The Gironde Estuary is the largest estuary in Western Europe. And the best preserved. Covering an area of ​​635 km², it is 75 km long and 12 km wide in its downstream part. A true Mississippi!


Along the vineyards of Médoc, Blaye and Bourg, this estuary home to many islands, three of which are visited during cruises departing from Bordeaux, Blaye, Bourg and Pauillac : I'Island of Patiras,Margaux Island and l'new island. It is also on the Estuary that the " Vauban lock“, defensive triptych imagined by Vauban and listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Gironde estuary, a unique natural environment

The shores of the Estuary

Left bank, side Medoc , there is an alluvial plain dominated by an essentially viticultural landscape. Then the vines gradually give way to marshes and dunes. Right bank, the vineyards of Blaye and Bourg are located on hillsides overlooking the Estuary. To the north of Blaye, there are large marshes where an exceptional fauna lives and reproduces: storks, spoonbills, otters, harriers and gray herons... to be observed in the ornithological reserve Land of Birds.

The estuarine islands

Eight islands stretch out in the heart of the Estuary from Bec d'Ambès to Pointe de Grave: Patiras, Ile Nouvelle, Pâté, Verte, Nord, Cazeau, Margaux, Macau. These islands are both natural sites conducive to the preservation of exceptional wildlife (New Island) and resource hubs for agriculture (Island of Patiras), fishing or viticulture (Margaux Island and Green Island).

Patiras Island and its lighthouse © David Remazeilles (Gironde Tourisme)

Sail on the Estuary

On approximately 350 km² of navigable area, the Gironde Estuary offers an infinite range of visits along the water. Going up the Estuary or visiting the islands for a day or half a day, you will be spoiled for choice from the ports of Bordeaux, Blaye, Bourg, Pauillac.

The Estuary within reach of lighthouses

Let yourself be guided by the charm of the estuarine lighthouses. Each one more surprising than the other, they invite you to gain height on the immensity and the singularity of the Estuary. At the mouth, Cordouan lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in Europe (1611) is still inhabited by keepers and open to the public. On the left bank, the Grave lighthouse which provides signaling at Pointe de Grave has a Museum of Lighthouses and Beacons devoted to Cordouan. Further south, the Richard lighthouse in Jau-Dignac-et-Loirac houses a museum dedicated to the life of the Gironde estuary in the XNUMXth century.e century to the present day. And finally Patiras lighthouse, located on the island of the same name, offers an exceptional view of the estuary archipelago and the two banks of the Estuary.