Bordeaux Travel Guide: The Ultimate Visitors Guide to Bordeaux

Last Updated on July 10, 2024 by April Nicole

Bordeaux Travel Guide
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Exploring the vibrant city of Bordeaux offers travelers a perfect blend of rich history, exquisite wine, and stunning architecture. Bordeaux Travel Guide

In this Bordeaux travel guide, you’ll discover the city’s hidden gems and must-visit spots, ensuring you experience the best Bordeaux has to offer.

Many travelers face the challenge of planning a trip to a new city, feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available online. This comprehensive Bordeaux travel guide is designed to simplify your journey, providing insider tips and detailed itineraries.

With years of experience exploring Bordeaux, I have curated this guide to help you navigate the city with ease, highlighting local favorites and essential attractions.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, this Bordeaux travel guide will equip you with everything you need to enjoy a memorable and stress-free trip.

Why Visit Bordeaux?

Bordeaux is renowned for its wine, but there’s so much more to discover. With its stunning architecture, vibrant culinary scene, and picturesque streets, Bordeaux is a destination that caters to all tastes. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or simply looking to relax and enjoy beautiful scenery, Bordeaux has something for everyone.

Getting to Bordeaux

By Air

The easiest way to reach Bordeaux is by flying into Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport. This airport is serviced by several major airlines, offering direct flights from many European cities and connecting flights from around the world. Once you arrive, the city center is just a short 30-minute drive away, and you can easily catch a taxi, shuttle bus, or rent a car. 👉 Book your flight now and start your Bordeaux adventure!

By Train

Traveling by train is another convenient option. The TGV (high-speed train) connects Bordeaux with Paris in just over two hours. Other major French cities, such as Lyon and Marseille, are also well-connected by train. The Bordeaux-Saint-Jean station is centrally located, making it easy to start your adventure as soon as you arrive. 👉 Reserve your train ticket to Bordeaux and discover the ease of rail travel in France!

By Car

If you prefer to drive, Bordeaux is accessible from major cities like Paris, Toulouse, and Nantes. Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore the surrounding countryside and vineyards at your own pace. Just be prepared for some traffic in the city center, especially during peak hours. 👉 Rent a car and enjoy the freedom of the open road on your way to Bordeaux!

Where to Stay in Bordeaux

Luxury Hotels

For those seeking a luxurious stay, Bordeaux offers several high-end options. InterContinental Bordeaux – Le Grand Hôtel is a top choice, located in the heart of the city with elegant rooms and exceptional service. Les Sources de Caudalie, situated in the vineyards just outside the city, combines luxury with the charm of a wine estate. Bordeaux Travel Guide

Boutique Hotels

If you prefer a more intimate setting, boutique hotels like Hotel des Quinconces offer a unique experience with personalized service and stylish decor. La Maison Bord’eaux is another great option, blending contemporary design with historic architecture.

Budget-Friendly Options

Travelers on a budget will find plenty of affordable accommodations in Bordeaux. Ibis Bordeaux Centre Meriadeck and Hotel La Maison du Lierre provide comfortable stays without breaking the bank. Hostels and budget hotels are also available, offering basic amenities and convenient locations.

Getting Around Bordeaux

Public Transportation

Bordeaux boasts an efficient public transportation system, including trams, buses, and bikes. The tram network is extensive, covering most of the city and providing an easy way to get around. You can purchase single tickets or day passes at tram stops or online.

Walking and Biking

One of the best ways to explore Bordeaux is on foot. The city center is compact and pedestrian-friendly, with many attractions within walking distance. For longer journeys, consider renting a bike.

Taxis and Ridesharing

Taxis are readily available throughout the city, and ridesharing apps like Uber operate in Bordeaux. These options are convenient for late-night returns or when you have heavy luggage.

Top Attractions and Sights

Bordeaux’s attractions reflect its vibrant past and dynamic present. The city’s well-preserved architecture and landmarks tell the story of its historical significance, while its museums and galleries showcase the region’s cultural depth. Wine enthusiasts will find themselves in paradise with the numerous vineyards and wine-related activities available. Here are the must-see attractions in Bordeaux: Bordeaux Travel Guide

Historical Landmarks

Bordeaux Travel Guide
If you only have one day in Bordeaux, I suggest visiting the Bordeaux Cathedral (Saint-André Cathedral)
  • Place de la Bourse: This iconic square, built in the 18th century, is a masterpiece of classical French architecture. The Water Mirror in front of it is the largest reflecting pool in the world and creates stunning reflections of the surrounding buildings.
  • Bordeaux Cathedral (Saint-André Cathedral): A prime example of Gothic architecture, this cathedral dates back to the 11th century. The Pey Berland Tower offers panoramic views of the city.
  • Porte Cailhau: A medieval gate that once served as the main entrance to the city. It offers a glimpse into Bordeaux’s past and provides excellent photo opportunities.
  • Grosse Cloche: One of the oldest belfries in France, this landmark is a symbol of Bordeaux. It’s a beautifully preserved remnant of the medieval city walls.
  • Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux: An architectural gem designed by Victor Louis. It hosts opera, ballet, and classical concerts in a stunning neoclassical setting. Bordeaux Travel Guide

Museums and Galleries

Bordeaux Travel Guide
Musée d’Aquitaine is a great indoor activity if you’re visiting Bordeaux in the winter
  • Musée d’Aquitaine: This museum offers a comprehensive look at the history of Bordeaux and the Aquitaine region, from prehistoric times to the present day.
  • CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain: Housed in a former warehouse, this museum features contemporary art exhibitions and installations, showcasing both local and international artists.
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux: One of the largest art galleries in France outside of Paris, it houses an impressive collection of European paintings from the Renaissance to the 20th century.
  • La Cité du Vin: More than just a museum, it’s an interactive experience dedicated to the world of wine. Learn about wine history, production, and enjoy tastings from around the globe.

Wine and Vineyards

Bordeaux Travel Guide
Looking for a great wine tour from Bordeaux? I suggest visiting Saint-Émilion
  • Saint-Émilion: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this medieval village is surrounded by vineyards. Guided tours often include visits to wine cellars and tastings at prestigious châteaux.
  • Médoc Region: Known for its prestigious wine estates, the Médoc offers vineyard tours where you can sample some of the finest wines Bordeaux has to offer.
  • Graves and Sauternes: Famous for their rich red wines and sweet whites, respectively. Many wineries in these areas offer tours and tastings. Bordeaux Travel Guide
  • Wine Tours: Companies like Bordovino and Bordeaux Wine Trails offer guided tours that include transportation, tastings, and in-depth knowledge about Bordeaux wines.

Culinary Experiences

Bordeaux’s gastronomy is deeply influenced by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding wine regions. The city’s restaurants pride themselves on using fresh, local ingredients to create dishes that reflect the region’s heritage. Here are some of the culinary highlights and must-visit restaurants in Bordeaux:

Bordeaux Travel Guide
Canelé

Traditional Bordeaux Cuisine

  • Canelé: A small pastry with a caramelized crust and a soft, custard-like center, flavored with rum and vanilla. It’s a local delicacy that’s perfect with coffee.
  • Entrecôte à la Bordelaise: A rib steak cooked in a rich red wine sauce, often served with shallots and bone marrow. Bordeaux Travel Guide
  • Moules Frites: Mussels cooked in white wine and herbs, served with crispy fries.
  • Oysters from Arcachon Bay: Fresh and briny, these oysters are a must-try for seafood lovers.

Top Restaurants

Bordeaux Travel Guide
Le Pressoir d’Argent – Gordon Ramsay, one of the top restaurants in Bordeaux

Fine Dining

  • Le Pressoir d’Argent – Gordon Ramsay: A Michelin-starred restaurant located in the InterContinental Bordeaux. It offers a luxurious dining experience with exquisite dishes that highlight the best of local ingredients.
  • Le Chapon Fin: One of Bordeaux’s oldest restaurants, known for its elegant setting and innovative cuisine. The menu combines traditional flavors with modern techniques.
  • La Grande Maison de Bernard Magrez: This Michelin-starred restaurant offers an exceptional culinary experience, with a menu curated by renowned chef Pierre Gagnaire.

Casual Dining and Bistros

  • La Tupina: A beloved bistro famous for its traditional Southwestern French cuisine. The cozy atmosphere and hearty dishes make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
  • Chez Fred: This casual seafood restaurant is known for its fresh catch and relaxed vibe. It’s a great spot to enjoy classic seafood dishes in a welcoming setting. Bordeaux Travel Guide
  • Le Petit Commerce: A bustling bistro that specializes in seafood. The lively atmosphere and delicious dishes make it a popular choice for a casual meal.

Wine and Dine

Bar à Vin
L’Intendant
  • L’Intendant: A unique wine shop and bar with an impressive wine tower. It’s the perfect place to sample Bordeaux’s finest wines by the glass, paired with local cheeses and charcuterie.
  • Bar à Vin: Located near the Place de la Bourse, this wine bar offers an extensive selection of Bordeaux wines. Enjoy a glass of wine with small plates of regional specialties.
  • La Cité du Vin: More than just a wine museum, it also features a wine bar where you can taste wines from around the world. The panoramic views of Bordeaux from the bar add to the experience.

Gastronomic Markets

  • Marché des Capucins: Bordeaux’s largest market, offering fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and regional delicacies. It’s a great place to sample local foods and experience the vibrant market atmosphere.
  • Marché de Noël: A festive Christmas market that features a variety of seasonal treats, crafts, and holiday decorations. It’s a delightful spot to enjoy the holiday spirit and local flavors.

Specialty Shops

  • Baillardran: Famous for its canelés, this pastry shop is a must-visit for anyone with a sweet tooth. The beautifully crafted pastries make for a perfect souvenir or treat.
  • Lavinia: A renowned wine shop with a vast selection of Bordeaux wines. Knowledgeable staff can help you find the perfect bottle to take home or enjoy during your stay.

Cultural Experiences

Enjoy a river cruise on the Garonne.
  • Quai des Marques: A shopping area along the Garonne River where you can find a mix of outlet stores, restaurants, and cafes. It’s a great place to enjoy a leisurely stroll and some retail therapy.
  • Darwin Ecosystem: A unique cultural and commercial space housed in former military barracks. It features co-working spaces, organic food shops, a skate park, and frequent cultural events.
  • Bordeaux River Cruise: See the city from a different perspective with a river cruise on the Garonne. Various operators offer sightseeing tours, dinner cruises, and wine tasting cruises.
  • Public Gardens (Jardin Public): A beautiful park in the city center, perfect for a relaxing walk, a picnic, or simply enjoying the natural beauty.

Shopping in Bordeaux

Rue Sainte-Catherine, is the main shopping street in Bordeaux, France

Local Markets

Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting Marché des Capucins, Bordeaux’s largest market. Here, you’ll find fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and regional delicacies. If you visit during the holiday season, don’t miss the Marché de Noël, a festive Christmas market filled with crafts and seasonal treats.

Boutique Shopping

Stroll along Rue Sainte-Catherine, Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping street, which offers a mix of high-street brands and independent boutiques. For unique finds, explore the Chartrons district, known for its antique shops and trendy stores.

Wine Shops

To bring a piece of Bordeaux back home, visit Lavinia or Le Chai des Chartrons, both offering extensive selections of local wines. Knowledgeable staff can help you choose the perfect bottle for your taste and budget.

Day Trips from Bordeaux

Saint-Émilion

Saint-Émilion village

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Saint-Émilion is a picturesque medieval village famous for its vineyards and historic charm. It’s located just 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) northeast of Bordeaux, making it an easy and rewarding day trip.

  • Wine Tasting: Saint-Émilion is renowned for its exceptional wines. Many vineyards offer guided tours and tastings, giving you the chance to sample some of the best wines in the region. Notable estates include Château Ausone and Château Cheval Blanc.
  • Historic Sites: Wander through the cobblestone streets and explore landmarks like the Monolithic Church, an impressive structure carved out of limestone. The King’s Tower offers panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards.
  • Gastronomy: Enjoy a meal at one of the village’s charming restaurants, such as L’Envers du Décor, which offers a delightful menu featuring local specialties.

Arcachon Bay

Bordeaux Travel Guide

Arcachon Bay is a beautiful coastal area located about 55 kilometers (34 miles) southwest of Bordeaux. Known for its stunning natural beauty and seafood, it’s a perfect destination for a relaxing day by the sea. Bordeaux Travel Guide

  • Dune of Pilat: Climb the Dune of Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe, for breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, Arcachon Bay, and the surrounding pine forests. It’s a great spot for hiking and photography.
  • Oyster Tasting: Arcachon Bay is famous for its oysters. Visit one of the local oyster farms to taste fresh, delicious oysters straight from the sea. Chez Boulan and La Cabane de L’Aiguillon are popular spots for oyster tasting.
  • Beach Activities: Relax on the sandy beaches or take part in water sports such as sailing, windsurfing, or paddleboarding. The beaches of Cap Ferret are particularly popular for their serene beauty.

Médoc Region

The Médoc Region is situated northwest of Bordeaux and is home to some of the most prestigious vineyards in the world. This area is a must-visit for wine enthusiasts looking to explore Bordeaux’s legendary wine heritage.

  • Wine Tours: The Médoc is known for its grand châteaux and exceptional red wines. Take a guided tour of renowned estates like Château Margaux, Château Latour, and Château Mouton Rothschild. These tours often include a visit to the vineyards, cellars, and tastings of their finest wines.
  • Scenic Drives: The Route des Châteaux is a scenic drive that takes you through picturesque villages and past beautiful vineyards. It’s a great way to explore the region at your own pace.
  • Cultural Sites: Visit the Fort Médoc, a historic military fort built by Vauban in the 17th century. It’s a fascinating site that offers insight into the region’s history.

Cognac

View of the cellar of Otard winery of Cognac

Further afield, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Bordeaux, lies the town of Cognac. Known for its namesake spirit, Cognac offers a fascinating blend of history, culture, and gastronomy.

  • Distillery Tours: Explore the world of Cognac production with tours of famous distilleries like Hennessy, Rémy Martin, and Martell. Learn about the distillation process and enjoy tastings of various Cognacs.
  • Historic Sites: Visit the Château de Cognac, the birthplace of King François I and now home to Cognac production. The Musée des Arts du Cognac offers insights into the history and production of this renowned spirit.
  • River Cruises: Enjoy a scenic cruise on the Charente River, offering a unique perspective of the town and its surrounding vineyards. Bordeaux Travel Guide

France Travel Planning 🇫🇷

Accommodation 🛌

  • Booking.com – Find diverse accommodations, enjoy easy booking with great deals, and rely on real reviews and 24/7 support.
  • Expedia.com – With its user-friendly interface, it simplifies the process of booking hotels and holiday packages to France.
  • VRBO.com – Your go-to platform for unique and comfortable vacation rentals in France.

Transportation 🚘

  • DiscoverCars.com – Offers a seamless booking experience, ensuring you find the ideal car for your adventures in France.
  • GetTransfer.com – Is the ultimate solution for your travel transfer needs, offering an efficient, flexible service and comfortable transportation.
  • Trainline.com stands as a quintessential tool for savvy travelers seeking to navigate France’s extensive rail network with ease and confidence.
  • Skyscanner.com – Simplifies your travel planning with its user-friendly interface, offering a comprehensive comparison of flights.

Attractions, Activities and Tours 🇫🇷

  • Viator.com – Stands out as a trusted resource for travelers seeking unparalleled experiences across the globe.
  • GetYourGuide.com – Offers an extensive collection of tours, activities, and attractions in France.
  • ParisCityVision.com – This tour company specializes in crafting exceptional experiences across Paris and France.

Communication 📱

  • Orange Sim Card – Discover seamless connectivity on your French travels with an Orange Holiday Europe Sim Card, a top choice for tourists.
  • Airalo.com – The world’s first eSIM store that solves the pain of high roaming bills by giving travelers access to eSIMs (digital SIM cards).

Travel Insurance ✈️

  • SafetyWing.com – Travel with peace of mind knowing you’re protected in almost every corner of the world.
  • Travel Insurance Master – Visit their website to discover the ideal insurance plan that aligns with your travel dreams.

These are only a few of my favorites; for more, see my comprehensive guide to the top travel booking websites for France.

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