It’s difficult to see and try out everything in Bordeaux in just a weekend! Here are our top 10 things that you absolutely have to do, a blend of the essentials and options off the beaten track that only the locals know about...
Are you passing through Bordeaux for a weekend or longer? Here are the 10 must-see sights in the city!
1. A special itinerary of wine bars, with vaulted, stone-walled cellars
A tour of the wine bars will encourage you to visit the whole of the city centre.
Le Toscane (place Camille Jullian), for a little taste of Italy in Bordeaux, Aux 4 coins du vins (Place St Pierre), where you can use a smartcard to taste 40 wines, L’Oenolimit (place Fernand Lafargue), decorated in recycled style, with even an old billiards table, perfect for drinks with friends, and Le Petit Bois (18 Rue du Chai des Farines, Porte Cailhau), for its original décor and generous sandwiches.
2. Climb to the top of la Porte Cailhau or la Grosse Cloche and go down into the crypt of the Basilica of St Seurin
35 metres high, Porte Cailhau formed part of the old city walls. From its magnificent oaken roof, there is a breathtaking view over the oldest of the bridges of Bordeaux: the Pont de Pierre.
Place du Palais. Free entrance up to the 1st floor. Visit the entire monument: €5 - reduced tariff €3.50, free for accompanied children under 12 years old.
At the end of la rue Saint James, in the heart of Bordeaux, you will find La Grosse Cloche, the ancient belfry of the town hall. This monument, topped by a bell weighing more than 7 tonnes, is an ancient gate, a remnant of the city's fortification. The bell rings only 6 times a year, but you can climb up to it all year round; the old gaols are of particular interest.
Closed to visitors for 50 years, the crypt of the Basilica of Saint-Seurin reopened its doors in September 2015. You can descend into it through a staircase on the left-hand side of the nave. Here you will find yourself in the oldest early Christian cemetery in Bordeaux. The sarcophagi and tombs conceal many mysteries and legends...
Place des Martyrs de la Résistance.
3. Enter l'Utopia, a former church converted into a cinema
An unusual location, that has become an must-see, on the lively Place Camille Jullian, l'Utopia is a very popular arthouse cinema in Bordeaux, situated in an old church. Here, films from all corners of the world are shown in their original versions.
Our favourite is screen 5, the largest one, with tiered seating and remarkable décor: dressed stone, exposed beams, a statue, murals... an exceptional setting!
Watch a movie and then have a nosh at the restaurant, which serves lovely salads in a cosy atmosphere.
4. Run the 7km between Pont de Pierre and Pont Chaban Delmas
Note to athletes: this circular, flat track passes the renovated docks of Port de la Lune. Cross Pont de Pierre and Pont Chaban Delmas to enjoy the greenery of the right bank but also the UNESCO classified Bordeaux architecture on the left bank.
• Continue straight along the docks of Place des Quinconces until you reach Pont Chaban Delmas: 2.15km
• Cross Pont Chaban Delmas: 470m
• Turn right and follow the docks to the Botanical Garden: 1.63km
• Continue straight along the docks to Pont de Pierre: 900m
• Cross Pont de Pierre: 480m
• Turn right and continue along the docks to the Miroir d'Eau: 620m
• Go straight and continue along the docks to Place des Quinconces: 460m
5. Sit on the grass in Bordeaux’s public gardens or in Parc Bordelais
DClassified as an “Outstanding Garden of France”, Bordeaux’s public gardens are magnificent. This oasis of greenery, in French garden style, is just a short distance from the city centre. Ideal for the whole family (swings, play areas, old-fashioned carousels, etc.), it is also perfect for a romantic stroll!
In Parc Bordelais, the small animal park is a lot of fun: goats, ducks, some exotic pigs… but also wide alleys or tracks for cycling or roller-blading... or the great central lake, where you can take a stroll on sunny days!
6. Stroll through the streets of the city centre, admiring the colour of the stones, bathed in light, and linger on the details of the façades
You need only to look up to see new details every time you pass through each alleyway… If you want to try something unusual in Bordeaux, then visit Bordeaux Secret Défense, which includes a paper chase, an orientation game and a role-playing game. You will be accompanied by two guides that will test your observation and deduction capabilities...
Tel.: +33 6 77 89 17 48
And if you want to explore the dark side of Bordeaux, its ghosts, haunted places and tragic deaths, then you can participate in the nighttime walk offered by Bordeaux Ghosts Tours, every Saturday night at 6 p.mTarief € 25 (2 uur). Reserveringen: +33 7 83 62 70 55.
7. Eat fish kebabs with a glass of white wine on Sunday afternoon at Marché des Chartrons docks
At Marché des Chartrons, there is a very nice weekend walk for friends or couples. Perfect if you want to sample oysters from Arcachon bay!
After this gourmet stop, you can go on to do some shopping at Quai des Marques, where you can find some good deals. If you’re unlucky enough to have poor weather, then make a wine and tapas trip to the Marché Couvert des Capucins!
8. Brunch at the Darwin magasin général
We love the setting of these decommissioned barracks and their industrial look, offering numerous activities: a skate park, graffiti, beehives, co-working... In the restaurant, the décor is created using recycled materials and the food is organic and delicious, at a reasonable price.
Try brunch on a Sunday, from 11:30a.m. to 3:00p.m. An organic grocery store also offers a wide range of responsibly-sourced products. And just before leaving, try out some cookies and carrot cake at Marie's bakery... with a super hispterish ambiance!
Darwin Caserne Niel, Quai des Queyries 87.
9. Have fun at le Miroir d’Eau, unique to Bordeauxux
Located in Place de la Bordeaux, just a short distance from the waterfront, the Miroir d’Eau is to Bordeaux as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. An unmissable sight, it is the largest water mirror in the world; it looks like a paddling pool and a giant atomiser! A site that children, in particular, will adore…
10. Watch a rugby match at the Stade Chaban Delmas
In the land of rugby, be sure not to miss a match of the team from Bordeaux at the Stade Chaban Delmas. Even if you don't enjoy the early stages of the game, it's a must for the guaranteed festive atmosphere!
And because we are generous, here's an additional 11th activity to enjoy in Bordeaux: la Guinguette Chez Alriq on the banks of the Garonne, which reopened after years of closure. A beautiful view and concerts for a good atmosphere.
Note that it is closed from November to March.