Last Updated on March 2, 2024 by April Verge
Are you looking for the best things to do in Bordeaux in the winter? This guide has you covered – keep reading for more!
Whatever the season, there’s always something fun and exciting to do in Bordeaux. However, there is something unique about activities in Bordeaux in the winter.
Get into the festive spirit from late November to early January with an abundance of holiday decorations, sparkling Christmas lights, lively celebrations, and vibrant markets. However, be advised that it will be crowded—particularly in December!
Come and enjoy January and February in Bordeaux after the holidays. It’s the cheapest time of year, and since the busy season is over, there are fewer people in the city. Now is the time to take advantage of some of the best offers on hotels and attractions.
If you’re not a fan of the cold, Bordeaux offers an abundance of indoor activities and attractions to keep you occupied for several months.
Since I have been to Bordeaux every month from November to March, I would like to share with you the top winter activities in Bordeaux as well as advice on how to best prepare for your trip!
Planning a trip to Bordeaux?
Psst! This blog post contains affiliate links in it which sends me a bit of extra money if you use them… at no extra cost to you. Merci!
If you are in a hurry, here’s a summary of what to do in Bordeaux in the winter 2024:
Bordeaux Winter Temperatures
Bordeaux’s location in the southwest of France results in warm summers and wet but generally mild winters.
Bordeaux is beautiful during the winter, and some people might even argue that it’s the best time of year to visit if you don’t mind an occasional wet day!
Choosing to visit Bordeaux in the winter is a great way to avoid the high season’s crowds and exorbitant prices (harvest season and early July to late August are considered peak seasons).
Bordeaux experiences relatively mild winter daytime temperatures on average.
Anticipate highs of about 50° F (10° C) on average and lows of about 37° F (3° C).
You should definitely dress warmly (and waterproofly!) for the wet winter weather in Bordeaux, as the maximum temperature in the winter seldom rises above 60° F (16° C).
Does it snow in bordeaux
Bordeaux does experience some wintertime chill, but snowfall is incredibly uncommon, so you’re not likely to see it if you visit in the winter.
It does, however, get fairly rainy, so make sure you dress appropriately!
What Should You Wear in Bordeaux in the Winter?
Wintertime in Bordeaux can get chilly, as we have already discussed. Make sure you pack appropriately if you intend to visit during the winter. Wear layers of clothing if you anticipate spending most of your time inside to avoid becoming overheated. I know this because we’ve been to Bordeaux in the winter numerous times. Don’t let the cold stop you from checking off the top Bordeaux winter activities on your list.
These are my top essential items to wear to make your trip enjoyable:
- Winter Jacket: The ideal jacket should be well-insulated on the inside and have an outer shell that is waterproof to provide good weather resistance.
- Winter Hat and Gloves: To shield yourself from the cold, make sure you can completely cover every inch of your body with clothing.
- Warm Boots: Take along some comfortable, casual boots that will keep your feet warm, as you aren’t going to be hiking. Traction will help you avoid slipping as the city is covered in a layer of shiny snow.
- A Cozy Baselayer: Wear a warm base layer to help you maintain a stable core temperature, particularly if you anticipate spending a lot of time outside. If you should perspire, a base layer made of polyester or merino wool is a good option because it won’t stay wet.
- Scarf or Buff: I love my buffs! In addition to keeping you warm when necessary, they fold up easily to fit in your purse or bookbag.
Having these things with you will make you very happy, especially when the temperature drops!
Fun Things to Do in Bordeaux in the Winter
Enjoy a festive atmosphere at the Christmas Market
Bordeaux has a lot of Christmas events to enjoy throughout the holiday season, making it a great place to be.
Of all of them, the Marché de Noël is undoubtedly the most well-liked.
Every year at the end of November, the Allées de Tourny host the Christmas Market.
This magnificent esplanade in the city center of Bordeaux is situated directly across from the Grand Théâtre, the well-known opera house.
The biggest of the region’s Christmas markets, it draws shoppers from all over southwest France and beyond with its selection of handmade goods, local specialties, and ideas for Christmas gifts.
More than 150 vendors, arranged in traditional wooden chalets along the esplanade, offer their wares to both locals and visitors.
The marché’s atmosphere is especially lovely at night, when the festive fairy lights are turned on, hot mulled wine and gingerbread pastries are served, and the holiday spirit is definitely present.
For dates and times for Bordeaux Christmas market 2024, visit the Bordeaux Tourism website.
Get Warm in One of the City’s Best Cafes
Bordeaux provides a great coffee experience and is home to many charming coffee shops!
Since its opening in 2017, Café Piha has experienced a steady influx of patrons.
In addition to serving delectable food options like avocado toast, pancakes, and other pastries, they are well-known for their strong beer.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to work or a great place to meet friends for a cappuccino in the middle of the city, Café Piha offers the perfect setting.
Books & Coffee is an excellent location to visit as well. This cafe is adept at satisfying the demands of a coffee enthusiast.
With years of experience in coffee roasting, it provides a wide range of options, including freshly brewed cappuccinos and bottled coffee.
A variety of treats, such as paninis, delightful tarts, and seasonal salads, are also available to visitors.
L’Alchimiste Cafe Boutique is another popular coffee shop in the city.
The coffee shop serves several roasts from Eastern Africa and Central America and has a small gallery, a sitting area with a forest theme, and a coffee bar.
Enjoy the Festival of Lanterns this Winter in Bordeaux
The Odyssée Lumineuse, a grand light festival held every winter, opens the city’s holiday season with over 500 illuminated sculptures on display.
The colorful show comes to life after dark!
Explore the park and its plethora of enormous lanterns with enchanted themes that use renewable energy, such as Alice in Wonderland, Ancient Egypt, the Dinosaur Age, and Space Exploration!
If you happen to be in Bordeaux in the winter, it’s a magical experience that you should definitely not miss.
Tickets for the event are available at the city’s tourism office, and it takes place between November and January.
Explore the largest square in France during the twice-yearly Brocante
The greatest brocante (flea market) in Bordeaux is the Great Autumn Fair, which takes place in the Place des Quinconces every November and into early December (as well as in the spring).
Due to its size, this city square is among the largest in Europe, providing ample room for rows upon rows of exhibitors’ stands to be explored while looking for unique antiques and other flea market finds.
The striking Quinconces Square is encircled by trees, adorned with sculptures and statues, and features the well-known Monument aux Girondins fountain, which honors the locals who perished in the French Revolution.
When you’re at the Fair, stop by one of the many food trucks to grab a delicious local snack, then relax on the steps of the fountain to take in the beauty of the square and your surroundings.
Visit La Cité du Vin, a renowned wine museum
La Cité du Vin is a must see in Bordeaux France, a cutting-edge museum devoted to the history of wine, regardless of the season.
Since its opening in 2016, it has grown to be one of Bordeaux’s most popular tourist destinations.
With a personalized digital tour guide that is available in eight languages, it covers eighteen thematic modules.
It provides an incredibly immersive wine experience that highlights wines from all around the world in addition to local vintages!
The visit, which lasts roughly three hours, includes stops at three tasting areas featuring an amazing multisensory area, kid-friendly educational workshops, and a reading room filled with a wealth of information about the world of wine.
There are three dining areas at La Cité du Vin, one of which is the restaurant with panoramic views on the seventh floor.
Once the tour is over, you’ll have the chance to enjoy views of Bordeaux and the surrounding area from the eighth-floor belvedere.
Indulge in additional wine tastings
A two-day Bordeaux Tasting event is held in December at the magnificent Palais de La Bourse, which was once a royal palace dating back to the 18th century.
Winemakers of the most prestigious Bordeaux wines, known as grands vins, are gathered for this wine tasting event so that amateurs can join in and sample.
You can purchase tickets online or by calling the tourism office.
Another option is to take the Urban Wine Trail, which offers an app that allows you to download a list of 20 of the greatest wine bars in the city.
Follow the route shown on the map, visiting as many or as few of the cozy little bars as you like, and savoring delicious local cuisine paired with excellent wines.
Or visit a few of the wineries that aren’t in Bordeaux
You can go on a guided wine tasting tour if you want to see the local vineyards or if you can’t make it during the Bordeaux Tasting event! Winter is the best time to visit Bordeaux vineyards in my humble opinion.
If you want to compare your options and get down to the details, I’ve put together a list of the top 12 Bordeaux wine tours here.
To keep things simple, though, I enjoy this full-day tour of Bordeaux’s most well-known (and delicious) wine appellations, Médoc and St. Émilion.
This all-day tour includes a picnic lunch, a guided tour of the St. Émilion village UNESCO center, and eight wine tastings at three nearby wineries.
Explore Bordeaux’s Ice Skating
Go ice skating to embrace the Christmas spirit on chilly winter’s days. Take a frozen adventure at one of the best ice skating rinks in the region.
The Patinoire de Mériadeck sports complex was established in 1981.
The facility hosts ice games, concerts, and exhibitions and lets guests skate on Olympic-sized tracks.
With a seating capacity of between 4800 and 7250, the Mériadeck rink is the biggest in the city.
The tram serves the complex, which is situated in the downtown area. It provides opportunities that are specifically tailored for both young and old, under the “family plus” label.
It’s critical to make reservations in advance to beat the line and ensure you have all the information you need regarding skating, performances, and concerts.
There’s information in English, French, and Spanish on this website. Wheelchairs are welcome at the rink.
Stay warm in the museums and galleries of the city
Bordeaux experiences inconsistent winter weather.
Gorgeously sunny days with temperatures as high as 70°F can be sprinkled in between chilly, rainy spells!
If the weather is bad, however, you can shelter inside one of the many museums or galleries.
After visiting the wine museum La Cité du Vin, there are numerous other museums that are well worth seeing!
The ones that are most worthwhile to visit, in my opinion, are the Natural History Museum on the grounds of the Jardin Public, the Musée d’Aquitaine for local history, the Musée des Beaux-Arts for fine art collections, the CAPC Museum for contemporary art, and Bordeaux’s newest addition, the Bassins de Lumières.
Located on the outskirts of the town, the Bassins de Lumières is the world’s largest digital art center and a visual feast! It was once a World War II submarine base!
Tip: For those who wish to visit several museums, the Bordeaux Metropole City Pass is a great deal! It includes a guided walking tour of Bordeaux, all public transportation, and fifteen museums (including La Cité du Vin).
Savor at One of Bordeaux’s Finest Restaurants
One of France’s greatest dining scenes is found in Bordeaux. Let’s look at a few of the best choices in the city!
Symbiose is a cocktail bar and restaurant that captivates with its charming terrace, stone walls, and wooden beams.
A menu featuring traditional fare and house speciality drinks will be presented to you, along with dishes prepared using ingredients gathered from Symbiose’s on-site garden.
Le 7, which is located on the seventh floor of the Cité du Vin, features large windows that provide breathtaking views of the Garonne River and the city.
Renowned for combining regional produce with a wide range of flavors, the cafe entices customers with dishes like chickpea hummus, oyster tartare, and beef carpaccio.
Savor a wide selection of wines and mouth watering desserts. The most delicious Neapolitan pizza in the area is served at the restaurant Bocce Saint Paul’s as a welcome to its guests.
Highlights of the menu like the smoked mozzarella, truffle and pistachio mortadella, and a selection of Italian wines from the restaurant’s cave inventory will astound you.
Enjoy a breathtaking river cruise
Bordeaux has the River Garonne, just as Paris has the Seine, which Parisian life revolves around.
A river cruise on a vintage yacht is among the greatest ways to take in this river’s beauty.
It’s still a great thing to do in Bordeaux during the winter, don’t worry, because the inside is heated.
Take pleasure in a sumptuous hour-and-a-half cruise through the center of Bordeaux while sipping a hot beverage or a glass of wine and a canelé, a beloved dessert in the area.
This winter cruise leaves at 3 PM and returns at 4:30 PM, so you can take advantage of the late afternoon light (the sun sets in Bordeaux around 5:30 PM!).
Explore the squares and streets of the medieval old town
Wandering around Bordeaux’s medieval neighborhoods and getting lost in their maze of streets and squares is one of the most enjoyable things to do.
The best way to explore this walkable city is to take your time and explore it at your own pace.
Place de la Bourse, the city’s magnificent riverfront square, is to the left of the old town, which is mostly located inland from the Garonne River.
Make your way through the most beautiful locations, such as Place du Parlement, Place St Pierre, Place Camille Jullian, Place du Palais, and Place Fernand Lafargue, with brief stops to take in the views of the Porte Cailhau and Grosse Cloche, two examples of the medieval city gates.
Then make your way back via the numerous rues that radiate from Place Pey Berland, the main cathedral square.
Take a Day Trip from Bordeaux
Bordeaux’s Christmas celebrations also extend to the surrounding areas, many of which are reachable by train from the city.
Yes, it is true that Bordeaux is merely a short distance from the Atlantic Ocean.
Seasonally or otherwise, many Bordelais (the Bordeaux locals) make their weekend getaway to the posh seaside resort of Arcachon, which is just under an hour’s journey by train.
This charming little town, which is situated on the southern shore of Arcachon Bay, also celebrates Christmas in style.
Christmas market, live music, Christmas tourist train, and much more are all part of the full month-long celebrations that take place in December.
The arrival of Santa Claus by boat into town from across the bay is the most unique aspect.
A group of swimmers brave the winter waves to greet him (yikes!) and he’s then fervently carried ashore for a joyous promenade en ville.
Check out the Arcachon town website for their annual festive program for a taste of Christmas by the sea, where you can enjoy the fresh air and salty smell of the Atlantic.
Enjoy the last days of winter in true Carnival fashion
Celebrated as a last farewell to winter, Mardi Gras is big in France!
And during the Carnaval des Deux Rives celebrations, Bordeaux’s streets on both the right and left banks of the River Garonne come to life.
Depending on the year, the yearly event occurs in either late February or early March.
A joyful atmosphere permeates the city as vibrant parades of carnival floats parade through the streets, live music events take place, and people of all ages dress up and join in on the festivities.
If you plan on visiting the city for the carnival, get the complete schedule from the tourist office.
Where to Stay in Bordeaux this Winter
It’s likely that you’re searching for accommodation now that you know more about the top winter activities in Bordeaux. Fortunately, I’ve compiled a list of some of the top hotels below to help with your planning!
The InterContinental Bordeaux Le Grand Hotel is the ideal option in Bordeaux if you’re looking for accommodation that exudes old-world elegance. The rooms’ striking carpets and wallpaper, ornate beard boards, and vintage accents give the impression that the design was taken from a Hapsburg-era palace. The best part is that some of the rooms have an Opera House view!
You can book your stay at InterContinental Bordeaux Le Grand Hotel here, an excellent choice for a winter getaway in Bordeaux!
Mid-Range: Hôtel Madame
Hôtel Madame is an excellent choice for a boutique hotel that is ideally situated. As one might anticipate from a boutique hotel, each room is exquisitely designed, and the hotel’s location in Bordeaux’s pedestrian area is ideal. The views from the rooms are also breathtaking.
Plan your stay at Hôtel Madame here, and book soon to avoid any disappointment.
Ibis hotels are always a good option if you’re looking for an affordable, basic place to stay in Bordeaux. The ibis in Gare Saint Jean is no different.
Book your stay at ibis budget Bordeaux Centre – Gare Saint Jean here and get ready to enjoy Bordeaux at its finest during the winter!
If, like me, you would prefer to spend your money on experiences and adventures rather than travel, be sure to check out the more reasonably priced lodging options in areas like Bordeaux Lac district or Bastide, which is located across the Garonne River. Below, I’ve included a few fantastic but slightly more distant options:
Final Thoughts about Bordeaux in the Winter
Winter in Bordeaux offers a unique and enchanting experience for both locals and visitors alike. From the charming cityscape adorned with festive lights to the cozy wine bars and delicious culinary delights, there is something for everyone to enjoy during this season.
Whether you prefer exploring historical sites, indulging in world-class cuisine, or simply strolling along the picturesque riverside, Bordeaux has it all. So bundle up and embrace the magic of winter in this captivating French city.
Did I miss any of the best things to do in Bordeaux in the winter? How would you spend winter in Bordeaux?
Let me know in the comments below!
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