The best 10 things to do and see in Bordeaux, France
The best 10 things to do and see in Bordeaux, France
Video: How France Lives 1 (Cognitive TV, Alexandre Latsa) 2022, September
Less hectic than Paris but just as beautiful, the French city of Bordeaux is the perfect summer vacation destination. Its cultural and historical significance is enough to keep anyone busy, but add to that the world’s most prestigious vineyards and proximity to the ocean, and suddenly the possibilities are overwhelming. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 things to see and do to help with this dilemma.
Place de la Bourse and Miroir d’eau
Place de la Bourse, on the edge of the Garonne River, is undoubtedly the most recognizable view in Bordeaux. Here you will find the “miroir d’eau”, a large shallow pool of water in which children and adults alike dip their toes as they admire the reflection of the Palais de la Bourse, an example of classic French architecture. The amazing symmetry of the square is enhanced by the stunning attention to detail: the figures on the buildings represent Roman gods and characters from Bordeaux’s rich history of merchants.
Place de la Bourse, Bordeaux, France
Visit the Jardin Public
The Jardin public, or “public garden” in English, is a 10-hectare park in downtown Bordeaux. It was inspired by the gardens of Versailles, which give an idea of what a beautiful place it is. It is the perfect place for a picnic on a hot summer day thanks to the large lake in the middle, bringing very nice freshness. There are many wonderful elements to attract visitors: an artificial waterfall, a natural history museum and the original iron railing, important enough to merit a monument to the history of the monument.
Jardin Public, Bordeaux, France
Enjoy an aperitif on the terrace of a bar or cafe
At the end of summer in Bordeaux, every cafe, bar or bistro is full of people of all ages, just enjoying the end of the day with friends. Joining them for an aperitif – delicious appetizers and an alcoholic beverage – is a typical Southern French experience. It can last for hours and even turn into a light dinner, and sometimes at night. Bordeaux has many bars, cafes and restaurants with aperitifs; highlights include L’Alchimiste for their great cocktails and HMS Victory.
L’Alchimiste, 16 rue Parlement Saint-Pierre, Bordeaux, France, +33 05 56 48 11 82
HMS Victory, 3 place Général Sarrail, Bordeaux, France, +33 05 56 92 78 47
Discover Bordeaux wines
What would Bordeaux be without its famous wines? To learn about this aspect of Bordeaux’s culture and history, book a wine tour. There are vineyards around the city itself, whether on the right or left bank of the Garonne, so the choices are vast. Companies like Rustic Vines Tours and Rendez-Vous Au Chateau offer tours of prestigious areas like Saint-Emilion, but feel free to try larger, less prestigious ones like Médoc. If a wine tour doesn’t seem appealing, there is also a wine assortment of wine bars: Bar à Vin or Le Verre ô Vin, to name a few.
Rustic Vines Tours, +33 (0) 6 42 73 75 33
Rendez-vous au Chateau, +33 (0) 6 28 35 00 95
Le Bar à Vin, 3 Cours du 30 Juillet, Bordeaux, France, +33 (0) 5 56 00 43 47
Le Verre ô Vin, 43 Rue Borie, Bordeaux, France, +33 (0) 5 56 02 52 09
CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain
Bordeaux is not just about history and wine, but also a modern, vibrant city with exciting cultural offerings. This is an example of the CAPC, Bordeaux’s contemporary art museum. There is a permanent collection that includes, among other things, 7 works in situ by artists such as Keith Haring, Max Neuhaus and Neale Toroni, but the focus is on large and bold temporary exhibitions that often feature artists who work in the Bordeaux area. Past exhibitions have featured work by Andrei Putman and Alejandro Jodorowsky. It is also a venue for various creative events.
CAPC, 7 Rue Ferrere, Bordeaux, France, +33 (0) 5 56 00 81 50
After Place de la Bourse the most iconic sight in Bordeaux is the medieval Roman Catholic Saint-André Cathedral. It was already consecrated in 1096, but what we see today is most from the 14th and 15th centuries, with only a wall in the nave remaining from the original building. Oddly enough, there is a separate bell tower, the Pey Berland Tower, built from 1440 to 1500. Climb to the top for a magnificent view of the city. The cathedral itself houses a collection of valuable religious objects such as paintings and illuminations.
Cathédrale Saint-André, Place Pey-Berland, +33 (0) 5 56 52 68 10
Catch a show at the Grand Théâtre
The Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux is a neoclassical building that now houses the National Opera. Watching a show is the best way to discover this beautiful region and enjoy a high-quality ballet, opera or concert in a unique location. Nothing happens in July and August, which means summer visitors won’t be able to take advantage of this opportunity, but for someone it’s definitely not to be missed. The interior was restored to 18th century glory in 1991, which means visitors can get a glimpse of what the opera house would have been like 200 years ago, maybe.
Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, Place de la Comédie, Bordeaux, France, +33 (0) 5 56 00 85 95
Store on Rue Saint-Catherine
Rue Saint-Catherine is Bordeaux’s main shopping street and is said to be the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe, stretching for 1, 2 kilometers. It is filled with many stores with all kinds of price tags: shoppers will find the usual high street brands such as Zara and H & M for clothing, Hema for tableware or Lush for cosmetics, but also for independent stores. A few buildings that are not restaurants or restaurants or bars. Sometimes the whole street turns into an open air market for a few days.
Rue Saint-Catherine, Bordeaux, France
A former submarine base set up by German and Italian forces to house U-Boats during World War II may seem like an unlikely destination, but it’s now a cultural center with plenty of performances, exhibitions and even the occasional club night. Its location on the right bank makes it a bit of a throwback and thus perfect for travelers looking for something atypical. Unfortunately, it’s not open to the public outside of exhibitions and events, so it’s impossible to just visit the building, but be sure to catch something interesting here.
Base Sous-Seine, Boulevard Alfred Dani, Bordeaux, France, +33 (0) 5 56 11 50
Go to the beach
Bordeaux may not be by the ocean, but it’s close enough for a day trip, and the best part is the choice. Arcachon and its four beaches and seven kilometers of fine sand are less than an hour away, and it’s a great opportunity to see Dune du Pilat, the highest sand dune in Europe. If Arcachon doesn’t catch your fancy, Lacanau-Océan, a great surfing spot, is a two-hour bus ride away from the central Victoire Square. If that seems too far away, there is always the option to swim in Bordeaux-Lac, a lake accessible by streetcar.
9 Best Things to See and Do in Bordeaux, France
Paris tends to get the attention when it comes to traveling in France, but there are other great cities to visit. Much of the city is a World Heritage Site, the region has a rich wine history, and the scenery is stunningly beautiful. So, while you’re traveling in France, here are nine of the best things you can do while visiting Bordeaux!
Take a wine tour.
Chateau and vineyard in Margaux, Bordeaux, France
Take a wine tour (nearby hotels)
When most people hear the name Bordeaux, the first thing that comes to mind is wine .
…And rightly so! This region is world famous for its wine production, so do yourself a favor and take a wine tour. There are local guide companies that will take you to several wineries in one day. For example, you can arrange a tour through the city’s tourist office as well as private companies such as Bordeaux, Wine Cab and Bordeaux River Cruise Company. Tours will save you from having to rent a car or risk driving if you have too many sips. You can also visit the many wine bars in Bordeaux and sample several varieties with a delicious cheese plate. There are several regions where you can book a wine tour when you visit Bordeaux, but St. Emilion is one of the most picturesque.
Place de la Bourse.
Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux, at sunset in the mirror of the water
Place de la Bourse (Nearby hotels)
But of course there are many other things to see and do in Bordeaux besides drink wine, such as visit Place de la Bourse. This is a popular public square in the city and a great place to relax and people-watch. The big attraction here is the Water Mirror, which is a mirror pond that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This shallow pool creates a beautiful reflection of the surrounding buildings and transitions from the mist pool to the mirror pool and back again during the day. Also, note that it is at night because this pool is simply mesmerizing. This area is close to the waterfront, which has been transformed into beautiful open spaces and gardens that are lined with stores, bars and cafes.
The Cite du Vin (wine town) is a wine museum dedicated to Bordeaux and local wine production.
La Cité du Vin (nearby hotels)
Another interesting way to learn about Bordeaux wine culture is to visit La Cité du Vin. This is a wine-themed museum where you can learn about how wine is made. You can spend as much or as little time as you want here, depending on how much of a wine connoisseur you are, but it’s fun for anyone visiting. You can take a tour, listen to an audio guide and head to the top for a glass of wine before heading to other attractions in town. For example, a standing tour with tasting and audio guide costs 20 euros and takes about two or three hours.
Bike rentals to explore
Rent a bike and go on a trip (nearby)
One of the best ways to explore the heart of Bordeaux is to rent a bike and explore the city on two wheels. Many of the city’s main attractions are close together, so it’s easy to get around the city by bike to do anything in good weather. While exploring Bordeaux, you’ll find quite a few bike paths. In fact, Bordeaux has been named the fourth-largest city for cyclists in the world! A popular route extends from Place Gambetta to Place Palais.
Store on Rue Saint Catherine
St. Catherine Street is crowded at rush hour with people shopping
Store on Rue Saint Catherine (nearby hotels)
Bordeaux has quite a few beautiful streets, but one of the most famous and pedestrian-friendly is St. Catherine Street, or St. Catherine Street. It is a long street that is always busy and full of energy. You can shop here for different things, have a cup of coffee or wine at a local cafe, and watch locals and tourists do their own thing when you visit this popular neighborhood.
Bordeaux Grand Theater
Bordeaux Grand Theater shot on a sunny day with the French flag
Bordeaux Grand Theatre (Nearby Hotels)
The Grand Theatre in Bordeaux is one of the most iconic venues in the city and was built in 1780. It is marked by Corinthian columns, statues of the Muses, grand staircases and impressive foyers. Depending on when you visit, you can watch a live performance here by an orchestra of a ballet company. Visit the Opera National Bordeaux website to see the show schedule before your trip to see what’s coming up.
Jardin Public and Botanical Gardens of Bordeaux
Statue by the artist Maxime Lalanne (1827-1886) in the Jardin Public Botanical Gardens of Bordeaux
Jardin Public and Botanical Garden Bordeaux (Nearby hotels)
There are also some great ways to get outside and enjoy nature during your stay in Bordeaux. For example, the Jardin Publique de Bordeaux is a park with a history that dates back to the mid-1700s and is an English-style park with statues, fountains, and bridges. Come here to enjoy a picnic and read a book while you take a break from sightseeing in the city. Also, be sure to visit the Bordeaux Botanical Gardens to admire the plants and flowers that grow in Bordeaux’s mild climate. Jardin botanique de Bordeaux is a botanical garden on Place Bardinot with an arboretum, a water garden and many opportunities to relax and observe.
Bordeaux Cathedral (Saint-André de Bordeaux Cathedral)
Bordeaux cathedrals (hotels nearby)
Whether you are religious or not, the Cathédrale Saint-André is a very important place in the history of Bordeaux. Its history dates back to the 12th century and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the destination of the Route Saint James pilgrimage trail, tours are offered, and the architecture itself is impressive. The Basilica of St. Seurin and the Basilica of St. Michael and World Heritage sites are also worth a visit.
Go to a beach nearby
Central Lacano Ocean Beach near Bordeaux, France
Head to a beach nearby (hotels nearby)
It would also be a shame to visit Bordeaux and not spend some time at nearby beaches. For example, you can get to Le Porge-Ocean beach in about 45 minutes by car from the city. Other beaches in the Bordeaux area worth visiting include Carcans Beach, Urten Lakeside Beach, and Abatil Beach. These are all great places to bask in the sun and explore the coastal areas in this region of France.