Bordeaux is famous for more than just its wine. There are lots of excellent foods including duck and foie gras. In addition, the city is beautiful to walk around and enjoy the architecture and riverside. The architecture include an old amphitheatre, many old city gates, and stone buildings. And the surrounding countryside is scenic and full of vineyards. I have had the chance to travel to Bordeaux a few times. I’ve arrived by train, car and plane and prefer the train. It is quick from Paris, about two hours on the TGV, and quite relaxing. This is a brief guide for travel to Bordeaux, and I hope you will enjoy this southwestern French city.
- Old city gates around the city
- Bordeaux wines and countryside including Saint-Émilion
- Jardin Public
- Monument aux Girondins
- Bordeaux Cathedral
- Pey Berland Tower
- Opéra National de Bordeaux
- Jardin Botanique de Bordeaux
- Stone Bridge
- Rue Sainte-Catherine pedestrian shopping street
- Basilique Saint-Michel
- Grosse Cloche (clock)
- Marché des Capucins- fruit and vegetable market
- If you have time visit nearby Andernos-les-Bains and Arcachon, beautiful beaches
Before you go
- Bordeaux is in the southwest in the Aquitaine region, along the river Garonne
- Many people speak English, but it is useful to know some phrases in French
- To explore the wine areas and villages around Bordeaux , you may can hire a car or join a tour
- Weather is warm and dryer in the summer, and I recommend visiting between April and September
- Carry an umbrella most of the time as it rains often
- There are mosquitos during warmer months
- Public transport is good and inexpensive- see below Transport section for more information
- Oysters are fresh and very cheap here
- Pain au chocolat is called une chocolatine
- Many shops are closed on Sundays
- The main rail station is Bordeaux Saint-Jean, to the south of the city centre. The fast TGV train from Paris takes only 2 hours
- In contrast, the drive from Paris to Bordeaux took 6 hours with light traffic
- Bordeaux airport is quite small and located fairly close to the city centre. There is a shuttle bus (navette) and also Bus 1 to the centre. TBM is the company running the buses and trams, and the app Witick was very convenient to buy an electronic ticket.
- Twice when I went to Bordeaux, I stayed with friends, so I don’t have any hotels to recommend. However, I always recommend checking a site like booking.com for reviews.
- A third time, I stayed in a great AirBnB right in the city centre on Rue Saint-Rémi. It was compact but had all necessary amenities.
Bordeaux is famous for its red wines and there are many to choose from. One of my favourite villages is Saint-Émilion with a wine of the same name. It is bold and fruity, and made from a mix of Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and/or Petit Verdot. Visiting the local vineyards is a great way to taste wines, and it is also possible to taste at wine bars in the city.
In addition to the red wines, there are also some white wines. One that I tried and liked was Cheval Quancard Cuvée Hortense Prestige Entre-deux-Mers. We enjoyed it along with cheese fondue.
Along with the wine, some of the typical foods include duck and foie gras. These can be found in most of the French restaurants, not just in the southwest. However, there are many local duck-based products to choose from in the Bordeaux area.
One of my favourite French meals was at Melodie, located in the centre. And another was at Les Drôles, a restaurant located on the same street where I was staying. They are both quaint and cosy with excellent food.
For Asian flavours, Mitsuba is a casual Japanese restaurant specialising in Udon. Also, for a more up-scale Japanese meal, my local friends recommend Restaurant Ishikawa. I hope to try it next time!
Le Comptoir des Saveurs is a French restaurant for fine dining. The dishes are creative and use many local ingredients.
The most well-known desserts from Bordeaux are the Canelés. I tried both La Toque Cuivrée and Canelés Baillardran. Of the two, I definitely prefer the taste of La Toque Cuivrée. While there, I had the normal canelés and also canelés au rhum (similar to baba au rhum). Yum!
Q: Do I need a tour guide?
A: No, it is a compact city and easy to find the main sights. However, if you don’t have a car and want to see the countryside then you may want to book a tour, such as a wine tour.
Q: Do people speak English?
A: Many people speak English. However, it is useful to know a few phrases and have a translation app available such as GoogleTranslate
Q: Is it a walkable city?
A: Yes it is walkable and that is the best way to see the city
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