The Ultimate Bordeaux Travel Guide

Introduction

The beautiful city of Bordeaux should be on your list of French cities to visit, and this Bordeaux Travel Guide will give you reasons why. Bordeaux is a vibrant cosmopolitan area which has attracted visitors since its inception. Its romantic location on the sharp bend of the Garonne river earned it the name ‘port of the moon’. 

What draws visitors here all year round?  Is it good weather? Is it the historic structures?  Drum roll please…It’s the wine!  We can guess that’s all you may have heard about this city and there’s no shame in that.

Bordeaux is a refuge for wine lovers and home to some of the finest wines in the world. But Bordeaux is more than just sipping the Grand Cru Class at the chateaux; it’s a stunning  town that’s been enjoying a stylish facelift over the last few years.

Right before you pack up your suitcase, you should know a little about the history of Bordeaux.

Bordeaux traces its origins as a capital city back almost 2000 years.In 70 AD, Bordeaux replaced Saintes as the capital of the Roman province of Gallia Aquitaine.

Outside a period of tension following the break-up of the Roman Gaul, Bordeaux has remained one of the largest cities and, for much of its existence, the capital city.

 

Where is Bordeaux Located ?

Bordeaux is situated in France. This charming town lies in the south-west of France. The city is the most popular wine region in France (and the French definitely know how to make and drink wine). Bordeaux is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Garonne River splits the city into two banks, the left and the right side. Wine tasters are quite emphatic regarding the distinction between wines and blends in the left bank and in the right bank.

Some Interesting Facts About Bordeaux

  1. It’s Not All Red

Bordeaux is best known for the extremely expensive red wines that have been made to age for a very long time, but this area is also home to important plantings of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle grapes which are used to produce dry white wines. Indeed, until the 1970s, Bordeaux actually produced more white wine than red wine.

  1. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The City of Bordeaux  was declared a World Heritage Site in 2007, a fitting tribute to the beautiful architecture of the Enlightenment era. It has more than 350 historic monuments and dozens of important museums and art galleries.

  1. 1855 was Special

It was the year The original “classification” scheme was adopted and served as the official rating of the various Bordeaux wines.  The scheme grouped producers into five groups (or growths) based on the market prices of these particular wines at the time. More than 150 years later, very few improvements have been made to this rating system that plays a major role in establishing the relative pricing of these iconic wines today.

Interesting Things To Do in Bordeaux

Bordeaux is one of the cities that’s incredible for a break from the noise of big cities and allows you to enjoy the countryside and vineyards that surround this region of France.

There are so many things to do in Bordeaux that you’re literally spoiled for choice. It is a city that can be soothing, bustling, and colorful at the same time.

Below are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Bordeaux when you visit. It really is a stunning city that we are most certain you’ll love.

Delight Your Taste Buds with Bordeaux Wine.

Of course this should be the first thing you should try. Where would Bordeaux be without its famous wines? For a memorable experience you can book a wine tour to explore this part of Bordeaux’s culture and history. There are vineyards all over the city itself, whether on the right or the left side of the Garonne, so the range is massive.

Companies like Rustic Vines Tours and Rendez-Vous Au Chateau give tours to prestigious areas such as Saint-Emilion, but don’t hesitate to seek some larger, less glamorous ones like Mdoc. If a wine tour doesn’t seem to appeal to you, there’s a selection of wine bars you can stop by to enjoy amazing wines such as the  Bar Vin or Le Verre Vin, just to name a few.

Travel Back in Time at the Bordeaux Museums

When in Bordeaux, don’t think if you see one museum that you’ve seen it all.  Bordeaux has a plethora of museums, each with a different theme, more than 20 actually! Most popular is La Cite du Vin, an immersive wine museum launched in 2016.

The Cite du Vin, an 80 m initiative dedicated to the celebration of global heritage , culture and passion for wine. The spectacular glass building is shaped like the swirl that wine makes as it is poured into a bottle, and the interactive, visual and historic exhibits inside are mind-boggling. The displays cover everything from the passion of wine to the cocktails of the far-flung coasts. 

There are other museums like the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Science and the Maritime Museum, that are sure to  tickle your fancy.

Climb the Bell Tower for the Best Views of the City.

Brace yourself to climb the 229 steps up the Pey-Berland Bell Tower, which stands separate from the Saint-Andre Cathedral. The cathedral’s 12th-century tower could not fully support the weight of the tower’s tenor bell, so this additional tower was built in 1440.  It’s a wheeze-inducing walk up to the top, about 50 m above the ground, you should lay off the wine if you’ve planned to see the top of the tower..

Bassins de Lumires

The Bassins de Lumires translated the Ponds of Light, is one Bordeaux’s newest attraction and the world’s largest digital art museum. It’s located in the Base Sous-Marine, a u-boat base built during the second world war when Bordeaux was under the germans. the walls of the Bassins de lumires are brought to life with the paintings of Gustav klimt and Paul Lee. To gain access to this site, advance tickets are mandatory.

Enjoy The Awesome Quais de Bordeaux View

The left bank of the Garonne is one of the most scenic waterfronts in the world. It is also part of the 18th-century World Heritage ensemble, where the elegant facades of massive neo-classical buildings line the 80-metre-wide waterfront promenade. Set next to the broad Garonne, crossed by the many arches of Pont de Pierre, there’s a sweeping transparency about the spaces here that will delight you.

Visit the Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux

It’s one of the oldest belfries in the city. The Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux is one of the must-see places in Bordeaux, and it’s totally free and easy to find!

Beautifully constructed in 1775, this gatehouse was built with two clocks and a bell tower and replaced the previous structure, which had been destroyed by fire in the 18th century.

A nearby plaque has on it the legend that the bell was the source of both good and poor news to the people of Bordeaux. Don’t forget to explore both sides of the tower, as there are two separate clocks to admire.

Take a Day Trip to Saint Emilion

Choose a day during your visit and head  to the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saint-Emilion.

This small village is totally picturesque, and it’s a perfect place to learn more about the award-winning and world-famous wines that you totally should try. After walking through the old cobbled streets, you can take a tour of the Monolithic Church that still stands till today.

Take a Moment to Reflect at the Mirror d'eau

The Miroir d’eau is no joke, it’s the biggest reflection pool in the world. Plus, it gives you the most beautiful view of the Place du Bourse. You must not miss this! Take your shoes off and get your camera ready, because it is so gorgeous any time of the day.

A beautiful crescent of white sand, Saint Jean’s Bay Beach features excellent surfing and a thriving coral reef. It’s a perfect location for parents with children, visited by locals and day-trippers from nearby Saint Maarten.

Enjoy a Concert at the Cathedrale Saint Andre

St Andrew’s Cathedral dates back to the 12th century. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, this cathedral was part of  St. James Pilgrimage Route. Pilgrims passed via Bordeaux from Mdoc, Tours and the British Isles on their way to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

St Andrew’s Cathedral has an impressive exterior with the depictions of the Last Supper, the Ascension, and Christ in majesty. The Bordeaux International Organ Festival is held in the cathedral during the summer. Attending the organ concert in the celestial atmosphere of the cathedral is one of the most fun things to do in Bordeaux.

Enjoy the Local Food

Saint Barthelemy Nature Reserve is a coastal reserve separated into five different areas around the island in an effort to protect the delicate aquatic habitats. Some of the best dive spots on the island fall within the limits of the reserve, marked by white buoys.

Easiest Ways To Move About in Bordeaux

Saint Barthelemy is an island’s completely laid-back, secret treasure, ideal for getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It has beautiful beaches, almost ideal weather and a constant yacht and sailboat parade to thrill your eyes as you soak up the water. Everything you’re searching for, you’ll find it in Saint Barthelemy on your beach holiday.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

To get the best vineyard experience, the best time of year to visit Bordeaux is between May and November. If you want to take part in the grape harvest, visit Bordeaux in September .

That being said, Bordeaux is also very fun and romantic in autumn and winter. There is a Christmas market which will please young and old alike. In short, you can visit Bordeaux all year round, while spring and late summer are certainly the best two seasons of the year.

With the convenience of an international airport just 9 km from the center of Bordeaux, flying is by far the fastest and easiest alternative. The daily 40-minute bus service that operates between the airport and the city ensures you’ll get to your final destination easily.

You may prefer the convenience and ease of an airport transfer or a taxi, all of which are abundant.

To add more life to our words and pictures we have attached this video to thrill you even more. You can enjoy this informative video on the wines at Bordeaux to prepare you for your trip to this amazing town.