There is something different about cities. Some may exude art while some may have a glorious past, some may scream loud and some may be laid-back. Bordeaux is a delightful mix of everything; it has got the right amount of art, the right amount of history and moreover the right of amount of vibes to keep you entertained.
Bordeaux is a UNESCO World Heritage City and a port city on the Garonne River in southwestern France; known widely for wine, oyster, art museums, provincial history museums, diverse food scene and 18th to 19th-century mansions.
Keep scrolling to see our full guide and get some inspiration for your own Bordeaux trip!
BENEFITS OF CITY PASS
There are three types of city pass on offer — 24 hours, 48 hours & 72 hours. We opted for 24 hours pass because we did not have much time on hand. Here’s a quick low down of benefits and saving with the City pass to plan your own itinerary.
Unlimited access to public transport that includes tram, bus services, park, and rides. ( Note: There is no public transport on 1st May, so plan wisely if you are traveling in May )
You can opt for one of the City Tour —
- Open-top bus tour
- Touristic Train Tour that takes you into the oldest parts of the city
- City Guided Walking/ Coach Tour
Free access to La Cite Du Vin ( Note: The entry is free until noon. Post noon, you have to pay an additional charge of 5 Euro. )
Free entry to Museums like Contemporary Art Museum, Museum of Decorative Arts & Design, National Customs Museum, Aquitane Museum, and Fine Arts Museum.
Free access to Submarine Base, Greenhouses of the Botanical Garden, Pey-Berland Tower, Cailhau Gate, Saint Michel’s Spire, Grand Theatre, Palais Rohan, Grosse Cloche ( The Big Bell ) and Archaeological Site of Saint Seurin.
Discounts on Cruises, Guided Wini Tours, Moon Harbour Distillery, Science Exhibition Centre, Great Synagogue of Bordeaux, Museum of Maritime history, Chateau Saint-Ahon, Chateau du Taillan, Chateau Pape Clement.
You can also make the best use of your 72 hours pass and get discount for other places close to Bordeaux like Saint Emilion Souterrain , Citadel of Blaye, Guided tour of Archachon, Boating around Bird Island , Phare De Cordouan Lighthouse, Soulac-Sur-Mer, Prehistoric Cave of Pair-Non-Pair, Fort-Medoc , Sauve- Majeure Abbey and some famous Chateaus.
The best way to experience Bordeaux and marvel at the magnificent architectural heritage is to stroll around the streets of the city!
TOP THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN BORDEAUX
La Citè Du Vin
Bordeaux happens to be the wine capital of the world and it is not a surprise that an entire museum is dedicated to wine. Any visit to the city is incomplete without a visit to the famous and one-of-a-kind museum — La Cite du Vin.
The museum details the history of winemaking links to the wine trade across the world, and the classification of different types of wine based on color, aroma, and place of origin. The educational exhibit ends with a wine tasting session whilst enjoying a panoramic view of Bordeaux.
Timings – 10 AM to 6 PM, 1st April to 31st August – 10 AM to 7 PM.
La Grosse Cloche
One of the oldest belfries in France, the gateway where the bell is hung served a dual purpose of the city’s defense and as a prison. The structure was built in the 15th century and the bell was cast in 1775. The bell is rung 6 times a year. The gateway is open for visits all year round during the afternoon and there is no admission charge.
Timing – 1 PM To 6 PM
Porte Cailhau is a monument that dates back to the 15th century. The monument was built to commemorate the victory of the French King Charles VIII in Italy. This 35-meter tall tower has practically remained unchanged over the years.
You can also enjoy a panoramic view of the river and the oldest bridge, the Pont de Pierre from the top of the tower.
The entrance fee for the tower is 5 Euros per person and it’s free if you have a city pass.
Esplanade des Quinconces
This beautiful and large square is easily the most photographed place in Bordeaux. On one side of the park, there are fountains and statues and on the other side, it has two large columns. These statues are dedicated to the French revolution.
Place de la Bourse
Place de la Bourse is one of the star attractions of the city. It was built in the 18th century by the architect Jacques Gabriel. The magnificent buildings overlooking the banks of the Garonne river exude the glorious architecture that is hard to give a miss.
Located across Place de la Bourse, this shallow pool of water attracts tourists and locals alike. The 2 cm of water on smooth granite creates an amazing reflection of Place de la Bourse both during day and night hence the name Water Mirror. The water levels and mist are controlled using underground pipes. The place has been listed as a contemporary UNESCO world heritage site.
The city is home to various museums like the Aquitane museum which is one of the largest Provincial history museums. Fine Arts Museum houses paintings of various painters like Andre Lhote & Albert Marquet to name a few.
Contemporary Art Museum, Museum of Decorative Arts & Design, and National Customs Museum are other quite popular museums that you could visit if you are inclined towards art and history.
La Fleche Saint Michel & Basilica of St. Michael
A 114 meters tall bell tower in the middle of the city, La Fléche Saint Michel is a source of pride for the people of Bordeaux. The spire is located beside Saint Andre’s cathedral. From the late 1800s to 1990 the spire exhibited mummies which had been found in a cemetery nearby.
Besides the bell tower is the Basilica of St. Michael which is one of the three monuments accepted by UNESCO as part of the French Pilgrim routes of Santiago de Compostela which is added to the list of World Heritage sites.
The beautiful church and the bell tower were built at the end of the 15th century; the bell tower is the second tallest in all of France.
The entrance fee for the spire is 5 Euros per person and is free with a city pass.
Take a stroll, browse or just order a drink at one of the many cafes on the longest pedestrian and shopping street in Europe.
Pont de Pierre
The oldest bridge in Bordeaux connects the banks of the Garonne river.
A 12th-century cathedral where Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII, the future king of France, were married in 1137. The cathedral suffered from a devasting fire in the 19th century. After this incident, all of the furniture in the cathedral was replaced with furniture from other churches.
Saint Andre cathedral’s original bell tower wasn’t capable of supporting the tenor bell, hence a bell tower was built in the 15th century and this bell tower today is known as the Pey-Berland Tower.
You can visit the cathedral and the tower between 10 AM and 5 PM. The ticket price is 5.50 EUR per person.
Visit Medoc or Sauternes region for Wine Tours
There are numerous family-run vineyards near Bordeaux. It makes for a perfect day trip from the city; visiting the wine cellar, exploring the wine regions, talking to winegrowers and learning the history, and knowing more about the winemaking process. You can book a tour or rent a car/ bike and explore the region.
Another interesting way to visit Vineyards is on a cabriolet convertible buggy. This tour is organized by Memosine Tours.
Day Trips from Bordeaux
- Dune of Pilat – Biggest sand dune in Europe ( Do check out our video on Youtube)
- Arcachon Bay
- Bird Island
- Abbey of Sauve-Majeure is a UNESCO World Heritage site ( Distance 25 KM from Bordeaux )
- Saint Emilion – UNESCO listed wine-producing region
- Prehistoric Cave of Pair-Non-Pair – Oldest decorated caves in the world
Some useful websites to bookmark –
Bordeaux Wine Trip – www.bordeuswinetrip.com
Pocket Wi-fi – www.hippocketwifi.com
Events – Bordeaux Tourism Site
Must-Try Food & Drink
- White & Red Wine
- Canelés – Caramelized cake flavored with rum and vanilla
- Dunes Blanches – Buns filled with vanilla-flavored cream
- Bacchus Berries
For rooftop bars/views – Check out Mama Shelter, Intercontinental & Terrace at the Siman.
For mojitos – Check out La Comtesse
For organic beers – Au Nouveau Monde
Where To Stay
Below are a few recommendations
- InterContinental Bordeaux Le Grand Hotel
- Seeko’o Hotel Design
- Hotels in Mercure Bordeaux Chateau Chartrons
- Hotels in Novotel Bordeaux Lac
You can find more hotels on Booking.com
Public transportation is quite good. There are buses and trams within the city and well-connected trains to hop on to explore nearby places.
HOW TO REACH BORDEAUX
Plane | You can fly to Bordeaux from Paris / London or any other major hub.
Train | The train system is well-connected within Europe — TGV, Eurostar, and ICE. Eurail Pass or Interrail Pass are good options if you are planning to visit multiple cities and countries.
Car | You can hire a car from any city and drive to Bordeaux.
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