Things to do and see in Bordeaux, France
Bordeaux is often overlooked by people visiting France, a big mistake since this breathtakingly beautiful city has been named UNESCO World Heritage site, has served as the capital of France twice and offers some of the world’s most famous wines. It is also not as touristy as other French cities and will give you a sense of more authentic French life.
Things to See
There’s lots to do in this gorgeous city, from walking to sightseeing to, everyone’s favorite, drinking wine. In itself Bordeaux is a living museum, there is nothing better than walking around the gorgeous city and enjoying all its streets. That being said, here are the sights you must see when you come to Bordeaux
Place de la Bourse: This gorgeous square is what earned Bordeaux its UNESCO World Heritage status. Its 18th century architecture juxtaposed with modern sculptures will blow you away. If you come during the warmer months, you will be able to see the mirroir d’eau (water mirror) right in front of the square. At night, the lights bring it to life and the gardens in front of it light up with colored lights that make strolling through them a genuine pleasure.
Cathedrale Saint André: Bordeaux’s most important and most gorgeous cathedral. This amazing landmark was built in the 12th century and is located at the Hotel de Ville tram A and B stops.
Rue Sainte Catherine: The Champs-Elysées of Bordeaux. If you enjoy shopping and walking this is the place to be. The street will take you all the way from Victoire to the Opera.
Victoire: This is the student district so it is always lively. There are tons of bars, restaurants and places to hang out around it.
Opera: Even if you don’t see a show, the Opera house itself is worth a visit.
Jardin Publique: Bordeaux’s biggest green space and the perfect place to read, picnic, and relax.
Palais Gallien: Roman ruins in Bordeaux? Yep, make sure you check them out!
Gambetta: Another cool place to wander around, sit in the grass, sit in a café and enjoy life.
Wine Tours: The entire city is a wine tour, but if you want to get deeper into it there are a number of organizers who offer wine tours. You can ask the Tourism office for deals!
If you walk around the city center you’re sure to find a place to hang out. There are lots of bars and places to dance in the center and the clubbing street is next to the train station. Here are a few recommendations for cool places to go out:
Le Petit Bois: The absolute coolest cave au vin in Bordeaux.
Les Quatre Chemins du Vin: Perfect place to try out many different wines in one night.
La Comtesse: A very chill bar with unique decoration, perfect for good conversations.
The Cock and Bull: Best English pub in Bordeaux. It also has killer burgers.
La Cale Seche: Awesome rum bar where you can dance.
La Plage: If you’re into the typical club scene this is the place to be.
Calle 8: Best place to dance hispanic (and other) music. It’s always very crowded though!
Oh the places you can eat! Bordeaux is amazing for food because there is so much of variety! If you walk down Rue Saint-Rémi, also known as the restaurant street, you will find many different cuisines at various price ranges to suit all. Rue Sainte Catherine and the area close to La Victoire also offer lots of great food. Here are a few recommendations :
Krishna: In Quai Richelieu for the best family-owned Indian restaurant
Wok to Walk: In Rue Sainte Catherine if you’re looking for a cheap but good place to eat
Pitaya: In Place Fernand Lafargue for a great and cheap Thai restaurant
When to visit
Bordeaux is beautiful year round but the city comes alive when the sun is out. It’s amazing! You can find the entire city in the grass at Jardin Publique, walking the streets, drinking beer outside, and lounging around Place de La Bourse. Bordeaux is definitely a city to visit in the Spring and Summer, though keep in mind it rains a lot in the Spring and gets extremely hot in the summer. Regardless of the time of your visit, you are sure to fall in love with the city.
How to get there
Bordeaux is France’s sixth largest city so it’s very easy to get to. You can fly into Bordeaux-Merignac airport and take bus line 1 straight into the city center. It’s also easy to travel to Bordeaux by train from most major French cities. There is only one train station within the city and it’s right in front of Tram C, so you can feel comfortable about getting into the city and being able to get to wherever you want.
Where to stay
There is exactly one hostel in Bordeaux but there are lots of budget-friendly hotels in the city. The best place to stay is somewhere near Rue St. Catherine, which is where most things happen. Being close to the train station (La Gare) is also a good option and often cheaper, though keep in mind that this is also the clubbing district and it can be a little heavy at night. Another option would be to go outside of the city into the suburbs of Talence, Pessac, and Merignac and just take respective trams into the city, none of them are more than 40 minutes away from the city center. Airbnb is another good option.
If you have time, there are certain day-trips that you MUST take if you’re visiting the region. No, really, not taking them would be missing out on some of the best things France has to offer.
The first one is La Dune du Pylat, the largest sand dune in Europe. This sand dune is like no other you might have seen earlier. It is unique not only due to its sheer size but also because it is uniquely placed between a pine forest and the sea. When you are on top of it you can see the deep blue sea crashing against the sand and the cliffs, right next to this infinite evergreen pine forest. It will leave you breathless! Recommendation: Try to go on a sunny day!
To get there just take a train to Arcachon (around 10 euro) and then take bus line 1 to the dune (around 1 euro)
The second day trip is to another UNESCO World Heritage site: Saint-Émilion! Sound familiar? This picturesque town is one of the most famous wineries in the entire world! You can wander through the small cobble-stoned streets, walk through the beautiful vineyards, drink amazing wine, and enjoy the small unique boutiques that are spread all around the town. Saint-Émilion is small enough to enjoy on a day trip, but there are also many Bed and Breakfasts and hotels that will allow you to enjoy it for longer. To get here just take a train straight from Bordeaux. Be careful though! You can’t buy train tickets at the Saint-Émilion station, so make sure you plan and buy your ticket while you’re in Bordeaux.