Although most people will head to the Provence or Paris, Bordeaux is a great city for a small trip. This French city has it all: amazing wine, great food and historic architecture. In fact, if you are not looking forward to the crowds on the Champs Elysees, Bordeaux is a great alternative! I have put together a list of the best things to do in Bordeaux!
Table of Contents
Place de la Bourse
Bordeaux broke down its old town walls to build this majestic square on the Garonne’s left bank in the 1720s.
The Place de la Bourse was designed by Louis XV’s favourite architect, Jacques Gabriel, and this square didn’t take long to become a modern symbol of the city and one of the best things to do in Bordeaux.
I would recommend taking a closer look at the buildings to spot the many sculpted faces and statues.
You will also want to cross the road to the Water Mirror, build by the landscape artist Michel Corajoud. It’s a large shallow pool of water, reflecting Bordeaux’ Place de la Bourse.
You can take a beautiful photographs here, and in summer, kids go crazy in the water.
Best things to do in Bordeaux Quais de Bordeaux
Quais de Bordeaux, the Garonne’s left bank, is one of the world’s most impressive waterfronts.
It’s also the part of the 18th-century World Heritage ensemble.
Set next to the Garonne, crossed by the many curves of Pont de Pierre, there’s a complete openness that will fill your walk or bike ride with some extra sensitivity.
There are benches, lawns, and flower beds below trees where you can have a nice picnic or sit down for a little rest.
La Cite du Vin
The Cité du Vin is a museum and place of exhibitions, movie projections, shows, and academic seminars that are held on the theme of wine. Especially from the Bordeaux region.
This museum will teach you everything about the history of wine, where and how it’s made around the world and why there are so many different kinds of wine.
The museum is incredibly interactive and lets you smell and feel your way through learning more about wine. If you would like, you can also partake in one of the wine tastings held at La Cite du Vin!
The building itself is incredibly modern and cannot be missed when travelling to Bordeaux.
Go for a wine tasting
When travelling to Bordeaux you will not want to miss out on wine tasting! There are numerous caves around where you can do free tastings or pay to taste some more exclusive wines. Alternatively you can book a tour from Bordeaux that will take you to some of the world’s most famous wine castles and wine houses!
Best Things To Do In Bordeaux La Grosse Cloche
Built in the 15th century, La Grosse Cloche is the old belfry for the town hall. It is a rare civil monument along with the Cailhau gate that the city has preserved from the Middle Ages.
It is only the fragments remaining from the city’s medieval period and built on the leftovers of Porte Saint-Éloy, a former gate in the old walls.
This gate once had a prison for juvenile offenders, and they were usually kept behind a door ten centimeters thick.
You can also get a look at the bell from the below, which dates to 1775 and weighs 7,700 tons.
Grosse Cloche remains silent for most of the year, except for the huge public celebrations like Bastille Day.
The Porta Deu Calhau (also known as Cailhau gate) is a gate of Bordeaux, Gironde. It served as a defensive door and a triumphal arch with the presence of a niche with the image of the king. It has been categorized as a historical monument since May 28, 1883.
With a transitional design between the renaissance and gothic, it was constructed to celebrate King Charles VIII’s victory against the League of Venice (at the Battle of Fornovo).
Thus, serving a dual purpose of being a city defense and triumphal arch as well.
For an affordable fee, you can enter the building and go up for Garonne’s attractive view.
Esplanade des Quinconces
The Esplanade des Quinconces, located in Bordeaux, France, is one of the largest squares in Europe (approximately 63 acres).
Its large dimensions make it the Place of choice for a variety of events throughout the year.
Be sure to take a picture of the Monument aux Girondins, with a statue of liberty, fountains, and rampaging bronze horses at the foot.
It was designed to identify the role of the Gironde political group in the French Revolution.
Bordeaux Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church devoted to Saint Andrew, located in Bordeaux, France. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Bordeaux Cathedral.
As with many religions around France, Bordeaux Cathedral had a difficult time in the Revolution, when it was unpainted with its decor. Nearly all of the additions you see now are from other buildings.
Spend your few minutes below the north portal, built as a royal entrance in the 13th century, and has an architecture with images from scenes such as the last supper.
The neighbouring Place – Tour Pey Berland tower is another great way to see the Bordeaux Cathedral if you can climb the 282 steps to the top!
Best Things To Do In Bordeaux Grand Theatre de Bordeaux
The Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux is an opera house located in Bordeaux, France. It was first inaugurated on April 17, 1780. This was the theatre where the ballet La fille mal gardée and a young Marius Petipa performed some of his first ballets.
Come to this Place after dark and enjoy the sight of the porch, 12 statues of muses, and goddesses in lights.
Inside it is decorated with blue and gold, the colors of the French monarchy, which were removed after the Revolution.
The best way to explore this building is to watch a performance by the Bordeaux National Opera.
The Jardin Public combines the popular honey-coloured stone of 18th-century buildings. It has a relaxed setting with a pond that is surrounded by centuries-old trees.
The garden is much more appreciated by the people who enjoy a leisurely walk. It is also a great place for joggers, grandparents, and children, who live with swans and ducks in complete harmony.
The Jardin Public has an English style comprising of lawns, statues, historic trees, fountains, wrought iron bridges, and balustrades.
There’s a restaurant in the old greenhouse, and the park is surrounded on all sides by 18th-century townhouses.
So it’s one of the good things to do in Bordeaux France with a stylish location for reading a book on the grass or for a picnic.
Best Things To Do In Bordeaux Musee d’Aquitaine
The Musée d’Aquitaine (Museum of Aquitaine) is a collection of documents and objects from the history of Aquitaine and Bordeaux.
This attraction does the hard job of crystallizing the history in the Aquitaine region and is one of the major museums of its kind outside of Paris.
The galleries are huge, and there are a few pieces of art that you can’t leave without seeing.
One that will set you to go round and round is the Laussal Venus (a realistic stone carving of a woman 27,000 years old).
Rue Sainte Catherine
Rue Sainte-Catherine is the longest shopping street for pedestrians in Europe.
It is located in the north down to Place de la Victoire. If you’re looking for peace and silence, this is not for you. The street taps with activities at all hours, and if you’re here for a huge shopping trip, you can rest at a cafe and commit to some good old people-watching.
In February and July, things hit out by the sales, when temporary stalls are also put up on the streets.
Place de la Victoire
The Place de la Victoire is one of Bordeaux’s main squares and the capital of the French department of Gironde and the region New Aquitaine.
At the center of this Place is a strange piece of modern public art designed by the France-based sculptor Ivan Theimer.
The work is made with marble from Languedoc, forming a column 16m. Tall.
It was put up in 2005 and, and despite the city’s winemaking heritage, it was the first monument built to recognize viticulture in Bordeaux, France.
There are also 2 tortoises designed by Theimer at the foot of the pillar, mostly popular among children.
Best Things To Do In Bordeaux Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas
The Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas is a bridge on the left bank of the Garonne in Bordeaux, France inaugurated on March 16, 2013.
Its main span is 110 meters long. As of 2013, it is the tallest vertical-lift bridge in Europe. It is named in honor of Jacques Chaban-Delmas and quickly becomes a precious landmark for the city.
Despite being new, it manages to balance the historic cityscape, becoming both a visual and technical accomplishment.
The city runs ferryboats as part of its public transport, and it’s thrilling to see the bridge from the water.
Taste some Caneles
A canelé is a sophisticated and small French pastry flavoured with rum and vanilla. It takes the shape of a striated cylinder up to 5 centimeters in height with a depression at the top layer. A specialty of the Bordeaux, France, widely available in pastries in France and abroad.
To give you a better taste, you can go for a steak with Bordelaise sauce, made with red wine and shallots fried in butter.
They also go well with tea as champagne, and best as a dessert after a meal.
Canelés can also be considered handy as gifts as they come boxed and travel well.
The foundation of the Saint-Seurin Basilica dates back to Gallo-Roman Bordeaux in the 6th century. The church we see standing today is from the 11th century, with many additions to it from the 18th century.
A gothic style entrance was also added on the south-side in the 13th century. Whereas the 14th and 15th centuries saw the addition of some chapels, including the Notre-Dame de la Rose dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
One of the most interesting things about Saint-Seurin Basilica is visiting the ancient tomb to see the Merovingian marble coffins. The tomb gives us a look at the earliest French Christians or the cradle of Christianity in Bordeaux.
Take a Bike tour of Bordeaux, France
Bordeaux, France, is the 4th bike-friendly city around the world. Believe us when we ask you to skip the bus tour and explore Bordeaux by bike. A bike tour of Bordeaux is a great method to cover many of Bordeaux sights, especially if you have less time.
Go to a bike ride to some of Bordeaux’s most beautiful monuments such as the oldest belfries in France, the Bordeaux Tribunal, and the Grosse Cloche that was designed by Richard Rogers.
Discover some of the ‘new’ Bordeaux and explore some of the most stunning views of Place de la Bourse museum after crossing the Stone Bridge to La Bastide.
Best Things To Do In Bordeaux Miroir d'Eau
Miroir d’Eau is the world’s largest reflecting pool that was opened in 2006. It was like a public art installation designed by the famous artist Michel Corajoud and water technician Jean-Max Llorca, inspired by the sight of Piazza San Marco, Venice.
The water mirror became a favourite spot for locals and tourists to cool off on a hot day. Children are always seen splashing in it. There’s frequently a salsa dancing performed on either side and is a favourite meeting place for lovers.
The water goes through a sequence of 3 minutes of fog, 10 minutes of the pool, and 3 minutes of the mirror.
Librairie Mollat is Bordeaux, France’s largest independently owned bookstore and has been run by the same family since they opened it in 1886.
The book shop is a complex of 15 different departments that stocks more than 265,000 books. The departments range from books in English to classic French literature. It is spread across a network of rooms in the former house of the French philosopher Montesquieu.
Movie and music lovers will enjoy getting lost in this multimedia department. And regular events like book readings and signings usually take Place, so be sure to visit it and see what events are on while you’re visiting here.
The Frog and Rosbif Bordeaux Brewery
Bordeaux isn’t just about wine, it also has many beer shops and craft breweries in the city.
The Frog & Rosbif Bordeaux was the first pub in Bordeaux, France, to brew their own beers. And the microbrewery is right here in the center of Bordeaux, some steps away from the famous Miroir d’Eau.
You can take a brewery tour for free. The Frog & Rosbif Bordeaux brews 1-3 times per week, and if you’re lucky enough, they’ll have brewed earlier on the day of your tour. And if they’ve recently brewed, you might get to taste the beer that’s just about to begin its 7-day fermentation process.
Lieze Neven is a globetrotting travel writer and expat currently based in Nepal. With a passion for exploration, she has lived in Dubai, the UK, and Belgium, alongside her international teacher husband. Her parents live in France and she tries to visit Paris at least once a year. Together, they travel the world looking for the best hotels, experiences and food locations have to offer!