Bonjour, parkrun de Mandavit

Mandavit parkrun #30

Geoff’s 50th birthday weekend and my first* overseas parkrun, yay! Geoff had booked us two nights in Bordeaux and secured us tickets to the Cité du Vin for Saturday afternoon.

Airport to Bordeaux centre

I’ll just begin with our trip from the airport on Friday afternoon. We had a choice of transport to the centre of Bordeaux, taxi, shuttle bus (‘navette’) or regular bus route 1 (‘Liane un’). We were keen to save our pennies for drinking wine over the weekend so we looked at the bus options. Our hotel was the Mercure right next to the Gare St Jean in Bordeaux and both the shuttle bus and Route 1 took us straight there. There’s also an excellent tram service in Bordeaux (more of that later) which you can pick up not far from the airport if you first take a bus.

In the end, with a longish wait ahead for the next shuttle (€7.20 pp), we hopped onto the regular number 1 bus, which takes about an hour to reach the station but costs only €1.50 (the standard fare for single journeys across the whole of Bordeaux’s public transport system). Lots of stops, but a chance to take in a little of regular suburban Bordeaux on the way in. It was all very straightforward. We had a seat all the way and enjoyed listening to the multilingual chatter on the bus. We heard Eastern European languages and something that we think was Basque.

Tip for public transport – remember to ‘validate’ your ticket in the machine on every bus or tram, even if you’ve bought it from the ticket machine at the stop or from the driver.

Getting to Parc de Mandavit in Gradignan

Our hotel receptionist was a little hazy on how to get to Parc de Mandavit in Gradignan and worked out that by bus the journey would take an hour and 39 minutes on Saturday morning. Not a prospect we cherished so we booked a taxi (€35 – consider booking with Uber if you are going to do this, much cheaper but we didn’t find out until later that was a possibility). In the end, the journey took only 20 minutes so we arrived shortly after 8am and clambered out from the taxi into the mellow October 1st morning air. There was a vestige of mist around, but it didn’t feel like rain.The taxi driver dropped us off at the head of the avenue of trees leading to the Ecole de Musique. There are lots of well-maintained sports fields to the right and a modern theatre building to the left. If driving you can park just here at the entrance, or if the barrier is raised, you can drive right up to the playing fields car park. There were several cars there and groups of boys waiting to be given lifts to their morning football match, but plenty of space if we had been driving.

parkrun de Mandavit is held in the lovely wooded recreational park behind the Ecole de Musique in the village of Gradignan. They had an interesting map showing some marked trail routes – 2.5km, 5km and 7km – but the parkrun route doesn’t adhere to any of these particularly.

The course

Excitingly, there are no marshals out on the course: the parkrun route is marked by a mix of black and yellow signs and yellow tape tied to branches and bushes. It’s quite twisty-turny through the mixed deciduous and pine woods. It is easy to get lost so you need to pay attention and look ahead to where the next piece of tape may be – sometimes just around a corner. You run past exercise equipment situated in little clearing around the woods, across a little wooden bridge and along well cleared trail paths. I imagine they could get a little squishy in winter.Wear trail or road shoes.

All in all a really fun course and pretty much flat. It’s two 2.5km loops. You start in front of the Ecole de Musique (attracts.maple.limes), do two loops and then finish behind the Ecole de Musique on the grassed area.

We didn’t use the public loos here but apparently there are some, across the road from the Ecole de Musique next to the car park for the football fields.

The experience

Like every parkrun we’ve been to there’s a welcome and sense of camaraderie on arrival. Aurélie the RD had set up her flag in plain view at the front of the building so we couldn’t mistake the group hovering around from about 8.45am, small as it was. There is still a very small uptake here in Gradignan amongst locals so most of the participants are visitors. Such a shame! We saw dozens of local people out jogging and exercising while we were running. Allegedly the local joggers seem to think parkrun is a ‘club de footing pour les anglais’. I do hope they’ll cotton on to the wonders of parkrun soon. One of the runners, Letitia, has been in Gradignan teaching and attending parkrun for just four weeks so at least there are nascent signs of a persistent local community. On our day there, only seven runners completed the course. Which means Geoff came second (woooh!) and I had token number 7 (wink). French parkrun results tables do not permit the results page to be shown in finishing order (it’s not a race!), so they list finishers in alphabetical order. OK, OK, I was last!

A nice touch here was that (since we numbered so few), the RD and others brought hot flasks of herbal tea and ‘proper French coffee’. We did our bit for Geoff’s birthday by providing chocolate mini-rolls which the younger spectators seemed to enjoy.



With no café immediately on site, our first thought was to walk the short distance into Gradignan and see if there was a boulangerie open for café and croissants. Gradignan is a pleasant little village and there was at least one boulangerie open but we didn’t find anywhere to sit and eat. Instead, we decided to check out where the bus stop was. The Liane 10 bus would take us from L’église de Gradignan all the way to the Gare de St Jean in less than an hour, and runs every 12 to 15 minutes. We decided to get the bus back into Bordeaux and seek brekkie near the station and our hotel instead.

Note, if you want to aim for central Bordeaux an alternative route is to catch the number 8 bus from Les Stellaires at parc de Mandavit and then change to the tram at Hôpital Pellegrin.

What Geoff said:

Très beau parkrun. Beaucoup d’arbres et beacoup de gâteaux. Pas beaucoup de participants!

Yes that’s really what he said. Not bad!

*Geoff has previously been to Amager Faelled in Denmark.

After this parkrun we visited Bordeaux’s Cité du Vin (City of Wine) attraction and had a cultural stroll (read ‘bar crawl’) in the city centre. Read about our visit here.

Mandavit (France)

  • Date visited: 1st October 2016 – event #30
  • Car parking: free and plenty of spaces
  • Number who ran: 7
  • Course: two laps of woodland trail, flat and with lots of turns.
  • Shoes: road or trail
  • Café: none, but RD brings flasks of drinks. Cafés and brasseries in nearby Gradignan (15 mins walk)
  • Toilets: near the start, next to nearby car park.
  • Dogs: yes
  • Buggies: with difficulty on trail paths
  • Peculiarities and specialities: course largely marked by tape hanging from tree branches
  • How easy to find: search sat nav/Google maps – Parc de Mandavit route de Leognan 33170 Gradignan.
  • Public transport: Bus: Line 8 (stop Barthez), Line 10 (stop Poumey), Line 36 (stop Mairie de Gradignan), Line 86 (stop Parc de Mandavit).
  • Startline is at: w3wlogo attracts.maple.limes
  • Where we stayed: Hotel Mercure de Bordeaux Gare de St Jean
  • Also worth visiting: Cité du Vin, Bordeaux city centre



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