Dear fellow travelers,
We recently had the occasion to spend a weekend in Bordeaux, a city in the South-West of France which is mainly famous for its wine! It was a fun trip even if we were not very lucky with the weather. Here are our tips to make the most of Bordeaux!
Cité du Vin. Recently built and inaugurated in May 2016, few days before the start of the Euro 2016 tournament in France, La Cité du Vin is a museum and an exhibition site, but also contains a restaurant and an immense and fascinating wine cave. The building is architecturally very interesting, spiraling up from the river, alternating reflecting silver and golden lights. We expected the exhibition to be more about the Bordeaux wine region and the process of wine-making. Instead, it is about wine in general, different places in the world where wine is made, literary references, and digital technologies play a big part in the exhibition’s animations. The good news is that you get to taste one glass of wine at the end!
Darwin. This is a skate park built in an industrial area a bit far from the city center, but it can be reached with a 20 minutes walk from the Cité du Vin. A true hipster paradise, with amazing graffiti, Darwin is a very convivial place where you can spend the afternoon eating on the wooden tables or shopping at the local concept store. You may want to check out a place called Magasin General, which looks great for brunch. But we advise you to book a table one week in advance. Unfortunately we discovered it too late so we didn’t manage to.
Marché des Capucins. A covered food market, not far from St Michel Cathedral and its well known flea market, Le Marché de Capucins is the ideal place to either buy food or have lunch. We suggest you a Tapas Place called La Maison du Pata Negra. Here you can choose from a number of different delicious tapas and obviously drink a glass of wine. While you are touring the market, do not hesitate to try Canelés – the typical Bordeaux treat.
La Zone du Dehors bookshop.We have a sweet spot for bookshops, and La Zone du Dehors, a bookshop and café situated around the Saint Michel area, really caught our attention thanks to its cozy atmosphere and the richness of their book selection. Must-visit for book lovers.
Le Miroir d’Eau. If you have seen some recent pictures of Bordeaux, you probably came through images of a huge water mirror that reflects the buildings of Place de la Bourse and its Corinthian column-fountain (something stunning like this). This is definitely a sight you should not miss, take the occasion to walk by this square during the day or at night to capture the different shades of the reflection. Not being able to see Le Miroir d’Eau is probably the biggest regret of our visit to the city, as we were there on the last weekend of March and a semi-marathon had been organized for that weekend. Therefore, the area was partially covered with the runners’ village and the semi-marathon start line, and the fountains that normally generate the “water mirror” were turned off. Definitely a shame.
Rue Sainte-Catherine. This is the main shopping street of Bordeaux, all wordwide famous shopping and apparel brands place their Bordeaux shop here. Nearby, you will find many restaurants, so if you go there in the afternoon, it can also be an occasion to start and check the restaurants and see which one inspires you more, to come back and have dinner in the evening.
Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux. The “big bell” of Bordeaux is a 18th century 7.75-tonne bell above a former dungeon for juveniles, and it is still rung on special occasions. Classified as an historical monument, this is one of the favorite landmark of the “Bordelais”. Rue Saint James, a pedestrian street between La Grosse Cloche and Place Fernand Lafargue, is the ideal place to find interesting concept stores.
Apollo Bar. Situated in Place Fernand Lafargue, L’Apollo is an historical landmark of the city’s nightlife. At least once a month, the bar hosts live exhibitions of soul or funk musicians. Even if you just step in for a quick beer in the late afternoon, just make sure you don’t miss it!
Cathedrale Saint-André. The biggest cathedral in Bordeaux, situated on Pey-Berland square, Saint-André cathedral stands out for its majestic façade and for its gothic style.
Try “les dunes blanches”. Dunes blanches are another typical treat from the South-West region and are like choquettes (sugar puffs) filled with chantilly cream. We suggest you to try them at Chez Pascal, a well-known bakery that originally opened on the coast and now has a Bordeaux address. They are inspired by the white sand dunes along the coast not far from the city.
Last but not least: if you want, you can get a car and drive to La Dune de Pylat, we were told it’s beautiful but we could not go during that weekend (also it was not worth as the weather wasn’t great when we were there). Dune de Pylat is a landmark of South-West France so we will make sure we’ll check it out the next time we are in the area.
Hope you enjoyed our suggestions!
Go and… eat the road! 😉