France is one of the most visited countries in the world, making it a safe and easy place to travel solo. The country’s South West region is home to outstanding scenery, world-class wines and vibrant cities – ideal surroundings in which to fully immerse oneself in the rich, laid-back French way of life.

Bordeaux aerial

Soak up the atmosphere in Bordeaux 

The hub of the South West region, Bordeaux is brimming with character and charm. This lively city sits on the Garonne River and is famed for its gothic architecture and the Cathédrale Saint-André. The city centre has recently been revitalised, with several new features contrasting against the old. 

Visit Place de la Bourse, the city’s famous central square, and take in the beauty of its honey-coloured Baroque architecture. A recent addition to the square is Le Miroir d’Eau, a collection of water fountains and glass that reflect the entire square. 

This compact city is a must for solo travellers – with a generous selection of highly-rated restaurants, popular bars and its lively medieval quarter — the Saint-Pierre district.

Bordeaux city

Venture on solo to Toulouse

The other main city in South West France is Toulouse. Known locally as the Pink City – due to the distinctive terracotta bricks used in its buildings – Toulouse is the capital of the Occitanie region and sits close to the Spanish border. 

Its charming Vieux Quartier – historic town — is a hotpot of coral-painted boutiques, quaint churches and narrow, meandering alleyways. Outside the old town, Toulouse is a sprawling metropolis – hectic, and bursting with life. Adding further character to the city are its waterways, which wind in and out of its districts and provide endless dreamy backdrops for solo strolls and bike rides.

Toulouse st pierre bridge

Sample fine wine in Saint-Emilion

The Saint-Emilion region of France produces one of the world’s largest quantities of wine, and the popular Roman town is home a wide range of vineyards – from the world-famous to the quirky, family-run estates. 

For the solo traveller, wine tasting events and vineyard tours are a great way to meet local people, while learning about their culture and wine-making history. Saint-Emilion is famous for its production of Grand Cru wines – thought to be of the highest quality – and estates such as Chante Alouette and Chateau Corbin are excellent places to sample sumptuous red wine and learn how each grape makes it from vine to glass.

Woman tarveling in Saint Emilion village France

Experience island life

Nowhere in South West France feels quite as good for the soul as Ile de Re. This little island — about 150 kilometres north of Bordeaux — is home to ten small, white-washed villages, several long stretches of sandy beaches and dramatic salt plains. For the solo traveller, Ile de Re offers many idyllic spots to enjoy. Sunbathe on the Plage de la Conche des Baleines, while the wind seeps sand dunes and pine trees behind you. Wander around the pretty streets of Ars en Re, and marvel at its gothic church, old painted houses and flower-lined alleyways.

Or take a tour of the Salt Marshes between March and November. Starting in Loix, the ecomuseum of Salt Marshes tours explain the journey of salt – from the sea to the table.

Ile de re salt marshes

For more things to do in South Western France, check out our travel guides to South-West France

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