Last updated on: October 4th 2016
Do you really need more reasons other than the abundance of amazing wine, delicious cuisine and breathtaking scenery? Luckily Bordeaux has all that and more, and is a great destination for a long-weekend trip. If you’re more keen to soak up the art and history of the area, there are plenty of museums and galleries dotted around the city as well.
If you want to beat the crowds and still experience the harvest season, make sure to visit Bordeaux in either May- June or September-October. Keep in mind, however, that by October the majority of wineries close down for the grape harvest. If you decide to visit in June you will be inundated with festivals, markets and other events such as the Bordeaux International Fair, Bordeaux Pride, and the Bordeaux Wine Festival, to name just a few.
When travelling to Bordeaux you will likely be flying into Bordeaux–Mérignac Airport (BOD) (33700 Mérignac, France), 12 km west of the city. From there you can either take the Navette shuttle for approximately 8 EUR (one way) that will take 30 minutes to get to the train station (Gare de Bordeaux-Saint-Jean, Rue Charles Domercq, 33800 Bordeaux, France) or the Lianes 1+ bus. Alternatively, try to catch a ride with Uber which will set you back about 40 EUR depending on when you are travelling and your final destination. If you’re not a fan of flying you can reach Bordeaux by train from many of the neighboring countries and of course via domestic services as well.
Here are a couple of suggestions on what to see while in Bordeaux – you might notice a recurring theme…
Imagine you visit Bordeaux but you can only recount the number of drinks you consumed and learned nothing about the history of the city or how it became such a focal point for wine-making. Don’t worry: the Bordeaux Wine and Trade Museum (41 rue Borie, 33300 Bordeaux, France) will help you! It has an impressive collection of unique historical objects, many testimonies of the past and present and you even get an interesting lesson on the wine region with complementary tasting!
If you’re more into modern art and don’t mind taking a break from tasting wines, head to the Centre of Contemporary Visual Arts (7 Rue Ferrere, 33000 Bordeaux, France) housed in an old warehouse built in the 1820s. It’s an impressive building with interesting temporary exhibitions, check their website in advance to see what’s on.
Dune of Pyla/ Pilat (or Grande Dune du Pilat in French) (Route de Biscarrosse, 33260 La Teste-de-Buch, France) is the tallest sand dune in Europe and quite an impressive natural formation. It’s situated 60 km from Bordeaux and is bordered by forest on three sides and the ocean on the other at the entrance of the Arcachon Bay. It’s a popular tourist destination attracting more than 1 million visitors per year.
The recently opened Cite du Vin (134 – 150 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux, France) is not just a museum about wine and winemaking but also a venue for shows, movie showings and academic seminars on the theme of wine located in Bordeaux. It also has an amazing wine shop with wines from all over the world.
Ironically no trip to Bordeaux would be complete without a visit to St Emilion. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this picturesque small town is about 40 minutes train ride away from Bordeaux. It was actually named after a monk called Émilion, who settled in a hermitage carved into the rock in the 8th century – you can visit this as part of a tour, very impressive! Later the monks who followed Émilion started up the commercial wine production in the area and now it’s a great place to savour local wines straight from the winemakers.
When the weather is good, young and old people flock to the Miroir d`eau (Place de la Bourse, 33000 Bordeaux, France) which is the world’s largest reflecting pool, covering 3,450 square meters. It is located on the quay of the Garonne in front of the Place de la Bourse and it’s a great place to relax and do some people watching in the sun.
Eat and Drink
Needless to say you won’t go hungry or thirsty in Bordeaux, just make sure to pack your stretchy clothes for your visit…
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city center or just want to have a drink al fresco, the L’Orangerie (Jardin Public, Cours de Verdun, 33000 Bordeaux, France) in the Jardin Public is a great option. It’s a beautiful quiet spot in the city.
A no-nonsense French restaurant in the busiest part of the city, so be prepared to wait 20-30 minutes during lunch and dinner time. L’Entrecote (4 Cours du 30 Juillet, 33000 Bordeaux, France) only serves one dish with fries and salad but the food is heavenly.
La Conserverie-Converserie (18 Rue Notre Dame, 33000 Bordeaux, France) is located in the Chartrons neighbourhood of Bordeaux and it is a perfect place to taste wine and have a lovely lunch in their garden. This place has great selection of local and foreign wines and the two ladies in the shop are very helpful when you’re having difficulties choosing the right wine.
When in Bordeaux …. you must try the local pastry, canelé (a rum and vanilla flavoured `pastry` with a soft and tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust) at one of the many pastry shops or cafes such as the Canelés Baillardran (multiple locations across the city).
If you’re travelling on a budget you might want to book accommodation at the Bordeaux Youth Hostel (22 Cours Barbey, 33800 Bordeaux, France) where you can stay for as little as 24 EUR per night…however keep in mind that you’ll be sharing your room with other backpackers.
There are plenty of hip and trendy apartments for rent on Airbnb – look for places in the Chartrons neighborhood, a quaint very typically French neighborhood with lovely small cafes, furniture stores and antique shops. You can find a decent place from 40 EUR up to 70 EUR per night.
If you want to splash out on a luxury hotel in Bordeaux book a room at the La Grande Maison (10 Rue Labottière, 33000 Bordeaux, France) which will set you back by 200-400 EUR/night.
Travel Tips and Local Blogs
For all things Bordeaux check out the tourism site for the city.
In case you want to explore the hidden secrets of Bordeaux check out the European Best Destination website
Don’t believe me? Double-check with the experts on this site