This year Bordeaux launched a fascinating cultural program named Liberté. As the name suggests, many of the exhibitions inaugurated in the last few weeks have the common theme of Freedom. In this article, I decided to gather a list of the best exhibitions being presented in Bordeaux this summer. The exhibitions are very diverse, from street art to design and contemporary art. I must say that this summer the cultural institutions in Bordeaux have done a great job bringing interesting and diverse exhibitions to the city. So here we go with the list of the best art exhibitions in Bordeaux this summer (2019).
Institut Bernard Magrez – Two street art exhibitions
May 28 – September 1st and July 5 – October 6
Two amazing street art exhibitions are going to be presented at the Institut Bernard Magrez throughout the summer. The first one (from May 28 to September 1st) is called Instincts, an exhibition by Mika which is one of Bordeaux’s most prominent street artists. The other one (July 5 – October 6) is an exhibition by one of the most famous street artists in the world, Seth (Julien Mallard) who also happens to be French. For more details click here.
Address: 16 Rue de Tivoli, 33000 Bordeaux
Galerie des beaux arts – La passion de la liberté. Des Lumières au romantisme
June 20 – October 13
For those looking for classic arts in Bordeaux, there are some exciting news this summer. Le Musée des Beaux-Arts and le musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design are presenting a collection from le Musée du Louvre. This exhibition is marking an unprecedented partnership between Bordeaux and the prestigious art institution. ‘La passion de la liberté – Des Lumières au romantisme’ exhibitions hosting works of art from different departments in the Louvre museum, bringing together more than one hundred works – paintings, sculptures and graphic works – created mainly during the 18th and 19th centuries. The exhibition revolves around the concept of Freedom (liberté) which is the theme of all the cultural events in Bordeaux this summer. The idea is to make the public reflect on philosophical, political, ideological, social and economic aspects of freedom through famous works of art. The exhibition will be presented at the Galerie des Beaux-Arts. For more details click here.
Address: Place du Colonel Raynal – 33000 Bordeaux
Muséum de Bordeaux – Rire!
June 24 – January 26, 2020
According to scientific research, we laugh 18 times a day on average. Laughter, however, is not unique to us human beings, different animal species also have different expressions of laughter is their language. The new and super fun exhibition at the natural history museum in Bordeaux offers different activities that provoke laughter. It’s a very interactive and kids friendly exhibition that includes videos, sounds, games, and painting. If you haven’t visited this museum yet, you definitely should! For more details click here.
Address: 5 Place Bardineau, 33000 Bordeaux (in Jadin public)
Musée d’Aquitaine– La déferlante surf
June 19, 2019 – January 5, 2020
The Atlantique coasts of the south-west of France are a popular destination for surfers these days and it looks like this sport has always been here. But did you know that surfing was actually introduced to Europe through our region in the 50s? Thus it only makes sense that Musée d’Aquitaine, which explores the history of the region, will also explore the surfing culture in Aquitaine. The new exhibition, La déferlante surf, deals with different aspects of surfing from the sport itself to its economic and environmental influences. Among others, the items presented include videos, sounds, different traditional objects, images from different beaches and more. For more details click here.
Address: 20 Cours Pasteur, 33000 Bordeaux
Musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design (Madd) – Memphis – Plastic Field
June 22 – January 5, 2020
Memphis is a movement founded in 1981 by Ettore Sottsass, an Italian architect and designer, which united many young artists who dreamed of shattering the codes of modernism and rationalism. The works of this movement had a great effect on the European design landscape in the past three decades. It has radically changed the language of shapes and colors, focusing on the presence of the object rather than its functionality. This summer the geometric shapes and bright colors of the movement are being hosted by the Madd museum in Bordeaux. For more details click here.
Address: 39 Rue Bouffard, 33000 Bordeaux
le Musée Mer Marine – Sempé en liberté
May 29 – October 6
For its second exhibition, le Musée Mer Marine is hosting about 300 works of the famous cartoonist, Jean-Jacques Sempé who was born in Pessac. Sempé is mostly known for its illustrations in Frech classical kids book series Petit Nicolas and from publications in big magazines like the New Yorker and Paris Match. The sea museum finally opened its doors on June 21, so now you can go see the permanent exhibition as well. See more details here.
Address: 89 Rue des Étrangers, 33300 Bordeaux
Rivages et Vertigo Sea – a new exhibition
June 20 – September 22
The Base sous-marine is hosting a new and intriguing exhibition this summer. It is, in fact, a combination of two exhibitions addressing the themes of sea and shore. Rivages is a photography exhibition by the artist Harry Gruyaert and Vertigo Sea is a video installation by the director John Akomfrah. For more information about the exhibition click here.
Address: Boulevard Alfred Daney, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Frac – Il est une fois dans l’Ouest
June 29 – November 9
Frac is a cultural institution with a mission to promote contemporary art in Nouvelle Aquitaine. After almost two years of hiatus, it finally opened its doors to the public in the new MECA building. The new exhibition ‘Il est une fois dans l’Ouest’ hosts 15 artistic projects of artists and art curators who are originally from or operate in Nouvelle Aquitaine. I didn’t find all the art installations very interesting but many of them were very good and it was great to discover the artists of the region and the new exhibition space. For more details click here.
Address: 54 Quai de Paludate, 33800 Bordeaux
That’s it my art-loving friends! I’m still exploring the art in the region so with time I’ll add more exhibitions to the list. Meanwhile, you can also check out the list of events taking place in July in Bordeaux. Also if you’re here during the weekend check out my weekend list.
Just to remind you that I often update about events and exhibition on my facebook/Instagram accounts so be sure to follow! Also, join my newsletter where I share a lot of exclusive info about Bordeaux and the region – sign up here.
The Bordeaux wine route is one of the most visited attractions in the south west of France. It’s actually not one but five different wine trails around Bordeaux and one of them is the beautiful Medoc region. “Route des chateaux” is the unofficial name of this magnificent wine trail, which combines nature, history and culture in one beautiful road. If you have more than a day to spend on a wine trip in Bordeaux, you should definitely consider Medoc. In two days, you can see a wealth of beautiful chateaux, taste some of the best wines in the world, go to the beach on the Atlantic Ocean and enjoy the local cuisine. The list of things to do in Medoc is quite long and you can easily turn it into a weeklong vacation if you like. However, as most people go to Medoc for a weekend, I decided to write a two-day itinerary. I tried to cover the most important things to do and places to visit in the Medoc Peninsula, so apart from wine related activities I also included recommendations of beautiful villages to visit, beaches, markets, hotels, restaurants and more. I truly hope this article will help you plan your wine trip in the area and will make you fall in love with the marvelous region of Medoc.
The Medoc wine region consists of eight appellations (AOC) covering 16,500 hectares, which include Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Margaux, Pauillac, Saint Julien, Saint-Estéphe, Moulis and Listrac. The Medoc wine is classified according to the Bordeaux wine official classification of 1855 with five levels of Grand cru classé, Premier cru classé being the highest of the five. There are five chateaux classified as Premier cru classé in the Bordeaux area, four of them being in the Medoc area: Château Margaux, Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour and Château Mouton Rothschild. The fifth one is Château Haut-Brion from the Graves wine area. Visiting the Medoc Premier cru chateaux can be complicated as they are usually open only to professionals or by appointment. But you don’t really need these four to make it an unforgettable trip. There are 60 Grand cru classé wineries, craft and cooperative chateaux and many other incredible wine chateaux that you can visit on the Medoc route. Now it’s time to discover them, so let’s dive into the two-day itinerary in the Medoc wine route.
Day one – Châteaux along the Medoc wine road
Start your day from Bordeaux on the D2 road, which is essentially the famous wine road called “Route des châteaux”. It starts at Blanquefort and continues all the way to the top of the Medoc Peninsula. All along the D2 road, you will pass through tens of km of vineyards and châteaux and through towns like Margaux and Pauillac, names you may know from the labels of Bordeaux’s wine bottles. The Medoc wine route is beautiful and you will enjoy it even if you don’t plan to taste any wine at all. Take your time to admire (and take photos of) the breathtaking châteaux that you will randomly see by the road. Some of them are so magical that you start feeling as if you’re on a movie set.
For the full wine route experience you need to actually visit one or several wineries and taste their wines. However, as you will witness, there are so many of them on the D2 road that choosing one or two to visit is practically impossible without some guidance.
Visiting a château in Medoc – how to go on a wine tour?
Visiting a wine château in Medoc is a marvelous experience providing you with a glimpse into wine-making in one of the most prestigious wine areas in the world. Most guided visits in the wineries will start with a tour of the properties, many of which carry historic value. Often this includes the story of a wine making family over several generations. Some châteaux also hold little art museums with family collections. Others display impressive exhibitions of art in their gardens or even in the cellars themselves. In some cases, the property won’t be very impressive but the warm welcome of the family will make it an unforgettable visit.
The second part of the visit deals with the wine itself. You get to visit the vineyards and hear the characteristics of different types of grapes and blends. In most tours, you will continue to the cellars and see some old and new techniques of wine making. And there’s always the fun part, the tastings, where you get to taste two or three different wines of the château.
There are many wineries who welcome visitors to their wineries but it’s important to know that they usually require prior reservations for the tour. However, if you come spontaneously and ask to have a quick look on the property and taste some wine, many of them will happily welcome you inside (if they’re not in the middle of a tour). If you don’t want to be calling the wineries yourself you can buy tickets to many of the tours through the tourist office in Pauillac.
Don’t try to run and see tens of chateaux, there are just too many of them, just take your time to enjoy a few. I recommend visiting two or three châteaux just for the sake of comparison.
Coming from Bordeaux, make the first stop at the southern appellations, not far from the Margaux area. As it’s located only about 30 km from Bordeaux city, you can make it early and still have time to visit more chateaux that day. Some of the châteaux I really loved in this area are: Chateau de Taillan which is owned by 5 sisters; Chateau d’Arsac, one of the most beautiful properties in Medoc with an extravagant display of art in its enormous gardens. Closer to Margaux itself you have the charming family-run Chateau Siran and Chateau Kirwan.
The town of Margeaux
Margaux isn’t very impressive on its own, but there are several reasons for a quick stop there during your trip. First one being Mademoiselle de Margaux, a chocolate shop and factory with chocolates you can find only in the region. The factory was created in Margaux in 1969, and produces delicious chocolates that are inspired by wine. If you’re looking for an original present to bring back home from Medoc, this is one of the best options. Also, Margaux is home to one of the most famous châteaux in the world, Château Margaux. They don’t offer visits to individuals but you can still take a walk around some of their facilities and see the magnificent mansion through the gate. If it’s lunch time, there are a few restaurants in the center. Remember, in France all the restaurants close for a break at 14:00 so try not to miss the lunch slot!
Next on our route du vin is Paulliac, one of the main wine destinations in the Bordeaux area. It’s a very nice town with a charming riverfront where you’ll find plenty of restaurants. If you want to stop for a nice meal of mussels and wine, les Moules du Cabanon on the riverfront is the perfect place. Pauillac is also home to the famous Café Lavinal, one of the most renowned dining institutions in the area. If you wish to discover the traditional food of Medoc, this is the place for you.
After lunch, head to the Tourist Office and the Maison du Vin which is located on the riverfront. Contrary to many tourist offices, this one is a very informative resource to all you can do in the area. They have recently launched a new interactive activity for kids and adults where you get to practice your wine smelling skills. They can also advise you on the closest wineries to visit in the afternoon. There are plenty of impressive chateaux to see in the northern area of Medoc, both in Pauillac, Saint Julien and Saint-Estéphe. Some of the most impressive and interesting ones are Château Beychevelle, Château Cos d’Estournel, Château La Tour de By, Château la Tour Carnet,Château Lafon-Rochet andChâteau Pichon Longueville Baron. As mentioned above, many of the wineries require you to book the visits in advance so go to their sites to see more details.
Château Loudenne for a special experience!
Château Loudenne was one of my favorite experiences in the region. It’s a 17th-century mansion, known as château rose, the pink house, which you get to explore during the visit. The château is located almost at the end of the wine route and is the only château in Medoc that has a private port, with a beautiful view on the Garonne Estuary. Apart from the impressive property, they have a beautiful garden where you can take a walk after tasting their divine wine. They offer two free tours at 11 am and 2 pm during the touristic period and will welcome you without reservation when it’s less busy.
If you arrive for the morning visit (11am) you can spend the whole day at the château. They offer an amazing picnic basket (which you should order ahead) so if the weather is nice you can have a picnic on the river banks. There are boats that pass by the port several times a week, proposing a guided tour of the Gironde estuary. Book the boat tour at the same day as it will depend on the tide. Chateau Loudenne is open from Tuesday to Saturday, check out their contact details on their website.
Have dinner on the Port of Saint Vivien de Medoc
The northern part of the Medoc peninsula is a magical place most travelers don’t get to see. Starting from Château Loudenne the vineyard landscape starts to change into a completely different scenario of little ports on the Gironde Estuary. Several little port villages lay between the last châteaux and Le Verdon sur Mer, the northernmost point of Medoc. One that I found especially charming was Saint Vivien de Medoc, with a cute little portwith several restaurants and bars perched along the river. My favorite one was la Cabane du Port, a charming tapas bar with comfy chairs, great food and a great view of the docking boats. The Kayak Café is also great for a more substantial meal.
Visit Phare de Richard and the traditional fishing houses
Phare de Richard is an old lighthouse turned into a nice museum telling the story of the Estuary and the fishing industry around it. If you come during the opening hours you can climb to the top and see a beautiful view of the Estuary. However, the site is worth a visit even without entering the lighthouse just to see the Carrelets, the traditional fishing cabins. The site also has a very nice picnic area with a small playground for kids.
Second Day – from wine to the ocean – discovering Medoc Atlantic
Soulac Sur Mer – the Arcachon of Medoc
This charming little town is one of the highlights of the Medoc region, located at the very top of the Medoc Atlantique, about 90 km (55 miles) from Bordeaux. Soulac sur mer looks like a little Arcachon, with the city center resembling Ville d’été and the impressive 18th-century villas has a similar architectural style of Ville d’Hiver in Arcachon (For more details about Arcachon click here). Soulac has some of the most beautiful beaches on the Atlantic coast, attracting many French tourists to the area. There are plenty of cute little restaurants both in the center and on the promenade. Seafood is a very important part of the local cuisine and so many restaurants will serve oysters and large shrimps. While there, don’t forget to visit the amazing covered market of the region that sell all the delicacies of the area. Also, if you want to stop for a coffee, Livres Et Cornets is a cute chic cafe on the main pedestrian street.
Sunday Market at Montalivet les Bains
The Montalivet market is not to be missed if you happen to be there on Sunday morning. This is one of the biggest markets in the area, hosting more than 200 merchants all year long. Here you will find all the delicacies of the region, the Medoc wine, oysters from Cap Ferret and Île de Ré, cheese from the Basque country and more. But the real attraction of the market is the oysters stands where plenty of people gather to sip white wine accompanied by this local delicacy. By 11am it gets really crowded so try to make it as early as possible.
Due to its location on the Atlantic coast, Montalivet les Bains became a popular destination for surfers. The city center, which is located close to the main beach, looks like a typical surf resort town with plenty of surf and water equipment shops. All along the main street, restaurant owners will invite you to have a drink or lunch on their terraces. The highlight for me was the gallery café, located just in front of the market, which is both a very chic coffee place and a vintage shop. They serve delicious fresh food and it’s a perfect spot for a brunch. The address is 49 Avenue Brémontier, 33930 Vendays-Montalivet. If you’re travelling with kids, this town can be a nice break for lunch but I didn’t find the beach very kids friendly.
Visit Vertheuil – an old beautiful village
If you’re done with wine and the ocean (if that’s at all possible) there’s one last stop to make on the way back from your Bordeaux wine route. Vertheuil is probably one of the most charming little towns in the Medoc area. It’s located somewhere in the middle of the peninsula so it can be on your way whether you still have some wineries to visit or want to go back straight to Bordeaux. It’s a very small village surrounding the Abbey of Vertheuil that dates back to the 12th century (and reconstructed in the 18th century). At the back of the Abbey there’s a lovely garden with a terrace cafe and even a little playground for kids. The Abbaye of Vertheuil is open from Tuesday to Sunday in the afternoon on July and August.
If you’re hungry there’s a nice little Italian restaurant right in the center of the village called Casa Trogarra.
Where to stay in the Medoc area?
There are plenty of accommodation options in the Medoc area, you just have to decide on the setting and view. You can spend a night in the vineyards and enjoy the calm atmosphere, sleep in a gorgeous chateaux on the Route des chateaux or have a more lively vibe in the center of Soulac sur mer. Here are some good options:
Hotels in Medoc
Château de l’Isle
An exceptional bed and breakfast in a beautiful 18th-century house, located between Margaux and the two lakes of Medoc Lacanau and Hourtin. The breakfast is served outside in the beautiful garden, just next to the pool. They provide their guests with bikes so you can even enjoy a bicycle ride in the vineyards of Medoc. They have only four rooms in the chateau so try and book as early as possible. Book it here
Relais de Margaux
A 4 star hotel located in a beautiful 19th century chateau in the heart of the Margaux vineyards in Médoc. The hotel has beautiful and spacious rooms and offers a spa and an outdoor pool. There’s also a golf course but it’s currently closed for renovation. Book it here
Sleeping in a wine Chateau
You’re travelling on the wine road so why not make your hotel part of the journey and stay in one of the wine producing chateaux that also offer accommodations? Here are some options:
Hotel Rollan de By
A beautiful 3 stars hotel located in one of the most gorgeous areas in the Medoc, between the vineyards and the Gironde Estuary. The hotel is quite close to the little ports I’ve mentioned above meaning you have a lot of options for dinner. Rollan de By is an active winery so you can have a wine tour and tastings while staying at the chateau, how great is that? Book it here
Château du Tertre
This is a beautiful guesthouse, located in a 19th century mansion. The rooms are elegantly decorated and have a view on the vineyards of the estate. You also get a free tour in the château and the cellars, which are quite remarkable. This is the closest hotel to Bordeaux, so if you want to visit Bordeaux and the Medoc area without changing your accommodation, this is a great option. Book it here
Château La Tour Carnet
If you want to feel like you’re staying in a real castle, this is your best option. Château La Tour Carnet is a famous winery located in one of Médoc’s oldest estates, a former medieval fortress. The amazing room decorations and the setting in a 12th century castle is an experience like no other in the Medoc area. There are only two rooms in the chateau so it’s almost private. The stay here is not cheap but its truly exceptional! Book it here
Château Pierre de Montignac
This is a more simple and affordable place if you want to stay in a wine chateau. The rooms are comfortable and clean and you get a nice breakfast in the morning. And you even get a gift bottle as a gift 🙂 Book it here
Soulac sur mer – for a more lively stay
Au cœur de la station et de la plage
A charming apartment in the center of Soulac sur mer, just a few minutes walk from the main beach. Book it here
Villa Le Cid
A guest house in one of Soulac’ most beautiful villas. The rooms are quite simple but the house is incredible and the staff is amazing. It’s located a few minutes walk from the market of Soulac. Book it here
Finally, if you are looking for a fun and delicious activity in Bordeaux, check out my food tours in which I’ll take you through a three hours journey in the culinary scene of the Southwest of France.
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Bordeaux is a very touristic city and as such it’s packed with boutique and budget hotels. However, not all of them offer good value for your money and finding a good hotel can be a hard task. That’s why I gathered this list of hotels to help you out. This list includes hotels from the city center and from surrounding districts. I included both basic hotels and beautifully designed boutique ones so the price range is quite big and you can easily find a place that fits your budget and needs. If this is your first visit to France, read my short article about things you should know before ordering a hotel in France.
This post includes affiliate links, meaning that if you book a hotel through my links I’ll receive a small commission. It will cost you nothing, and you will be supporting the work I do at Lost in Bordeaux. So thank you 🙂
Hotels in the center of Bordeaux – from budget to luxury
A super stylish central hotel with a great atmosphere and an incredibly good value for your money. Mama Shelter is part of a chain of hotels, located in several cities in France. It has 97 colorful and funky rooms designed by Philippe Starck. The hotel is located next to Hotel de Ville and so it’s very close to the historic center of the city. You’re at a walking distance from all the bars, boutiques and monuments the city has to offer. It has a great restaurant and one of the best rooftop bars, with an amazing view of Bordeaux. The price is really affordable, especially if you book in advance.
The Boutique Hotel is a 4- star luxury hotel which is quite popular among Bordeaux tourists. It’s located in the elegant district of Triangle d’Or, at just a few minutes walk from the Opera. The owners designed the rooms themselves with a lot of charm, combining the historic elements of the building with a more modern design. Each of the 27 rooms and suites reveals a different atmosphere and is named after one of the region’s famous chateaux. If you come with kids there are a few large apartment style rooms available. The rooms come with a view of Bordeaux’s rooftops or the green courtyard which also has a beautiful wine bar. Parking is not provided but you have a reduced price in the parking lot next to the hotel.
Hôtel Majestic is another establishment located close to the Opera of Bordeaux. The 4-star hotel, situated in a beautiful 18th-century building has 47 rooms, each with its own specific decor. The hotel is a few minutes walk from the Miroir d’eau and the historic center. But as it’s in the north part of the center it’s also quite close to Jardin Public which is perfect for sunny days. All the chic wine and chocolate boutiques are located just a few steps away. Private parking is available in the hotel.
Hôtel de sèze is a 4-star hotel, located in the fancy Triangle d’Or district next to many luxury boutiques and wine and chocolate shops. Situated in a beautiful 18th-century building, the hotel has 55 rooms with 18th-century decor that gives it a very elegant look. It also harbors a spa (not commonly seen in Bordeaux’s hotels), a beautiful library and a golf course (15 minutes by shuttle).
This is a 4-star hotel with 33 rooms complete with a late 20s art-deco atmosphere. The hotel is made of two beautiful houses dating from the 18th century, the Bayonne and the Etche-Ona, with an interesting story behind each one. A perfect location, just a minute walk from the Opera and next to le Marche des Grands-Hommes where you can buy some delicious souvenirs to bring back home. If you need a good coffee in the morning, Kuro is just a minute away. Parking requires prior reservation.
This hotel is located in the Saint Pierre district of Bordeaux, probably the best location you could think of. It’s the heart of Bordeaux’s historic center and the best bars and restaurants are just around the corner. The hotel itself is a simple 3-star hotel but it’s very clean and has everything you need for a nice stay. This is a great value considering its location. It’s important to note that the hotel doesn’t have a parking space but they do have a partnership with the parking lot of the Grand Hommes (5 minutes walk) with reduced prices at around 15 euros a day. The parking is closed on Sunday.
A very basic 2-star hotel, perfectly located just a few minutes walk from the hotel de Ville and the opera. There’s nothing very special about the decor or its atmosphere but it’s clean and very affordable. And as a bonus, you have one of the best coffee places in Bordeaux, L’alchimiste, just next door. The parking is a six minutes walk from the hotel and requires prior reservation.
A 2-star hotel located at the heart of the historic center of Bordeaux. It’s a basic hotel with small but clean rooms. The location is perfect! It’s situated on rue saint Remi, a street full of bars and restaurants, and just two minutes from the Miroir-d’eau, one of Bordeaux’s main attractions. It’s a great value if you want to stay in the city center.
This is a 3-star boutique hotel situated in a beautiful 18th-century house. La Maison du Lierre was named after the 200 years old ivy covering its terrace. It’s located on a quiet street, away from the hustle but just a few minutes walk to the opera of Bordeaux. The rooms are small but very nice and clean and it has a beautiful terrace which is a real upgrade.
Where to stay in the surrounding districts of Bordeaux center
Villa Victor Louis
Villa victor Louis is a charming boutique hotel with beautiful decor that combines 18th-century furniture with a contemporary style. You have a wonderful outdoor space where you can relax on sunny days. It’s located in the quiet Saint Seurin neighborhood, a few minutes walk from the main park of Bordeaux and the elegant Triangle d’Or district. While you won’t be located in the heart of the historic center (a 15 min walk), you’ll benefit from being a few minutes away from one of the best patisseries in Bordeaux, Maison Lamour.
A 4-star hotel located in the north of the Chartrons neighborhood. A bit out of the historic center but a good location nonetheless. The Seeko’o hotel has 44 spacious rooms with a chic and urban style, very different from the classic hotels in the city center. Some of the rooms’ windows turn to the bassin-a-flot, an old port with plenty of boats and a very unique architecture. The hotel also offers a sauna and a hammam which is a lovely bonus. The parking requires a reservation as there are only 10 places available.
Personal note: if it’s a short stay and you really want to feel the vibe of the center of Bordeaux, then this hotel is a bit far. If you don’t mind walking 20 minutes to the city center (or taking the tram) then it could be a great option. It’s located at the southern border of the Bacalan neighborhood, which is now one of the coolest neighborhoods in the city, with a beautiful covered market, the wine museum and plenty of street art so you will enjoy your stay nontheless. Discover this funky district with my post about the best things to do in Bacalan.
There’s nothing fancy about this one but it’s a decent clean nicely designed hotel. The rooms are air-conditioned which is a big bonus if you’ll be staying in Bordeaux during the summer. It’s located at the Meriadeck district about 15 minutes walk from the historic center of Bordeaux. Not far from the hotel you can find the Meriadeck, the only shopping mall in the city center, and the ice skating rink of Bordeaux.
It’s the administrative district of Bordeaux and it’s not very chic, so if you really have the urge to feel the vibe of the historic center when you go out of the hotel, look at some of the hotels at the begining of this article. If you need a good coffee place, Gusco is perfect and nearby. All-in-all It’s a nice hotel and because the location isn’t perfect the price is usually affordable.
Maison Fredon is a little boutique hotel located in a renovated beautiful 18th-century building. There are only five rooms in this hotel, all uniquely designed to combine modern decor with the classic style of a bourgeois bordelaise house. The rooms are very spacious which is uncommon in French hotels. It’s located in Saint Michel, an old neighborhood just outside the historic center of Bordeaux, a special place by itself. In recent years it gained popularity having plenty of bars and restaurants open up on a monthly basis. In the same property you’ll find a very popular restaurant, Tupina, serving delicious French food.
On a personal note: This is a perfect gourmet location. It’s only 5 minutes walk from the main market of Bordeaux and has five restaurants on the same street. It’s also a few minutes walk from the train station, which can be great from those of you traveling by train. discover the Saint Michel neighborhood check out my post about the best things to do in Saint Michel.
Where to stay next to the train station of Bordeaux
Many people are looking for accommodations next to the train station as they are traveling to the area by train. That’s why I added two affordable hotels just next to gare Saint-Jean, although I’m not a big fan of this area.
Hôtel Mercure de la Gare Saint-Jean
The first one is hôtel Mercure de la gare Saint-Jean, one of the best options in the area. While the hotel is a bit old the rooms are clean and comfortable and the staff is very welcoming. It’s a 4-star hotel but very affordable. It’s located just a few minutes walk from the station but very close to one of the most beautiful churches in Bordeaux, L’église Sainte-Croix.
If you’re on a limited budget, Ibis gare saint jean could be a good solution as well. It’s not the most charming hotel but it’s definitely a good value for its price. It’s a 3-star hotel with nice clean rooms and it’s located 300m from the station.
I hope this post was helpful for finding accommodation on your next trip to Bordeaux! Just remember that Bordeaux is not a huge city so all of these hotels are relatively close to the center. If you found a hotel that interests you, it’d be amazing if you book it through the links on my site. It’ll add absolutely nothing to your cost and will allow me to continue writing more fun and useful articles about things to do in Bordeaux and Southwest France!
Bordeaux is located in one of the most beautiful areas in France, surrounded by charming villages, impressive chateaux, vineyards and sandy beaches. When visiting the city, many are looking for day trips from Bordeaux that will allow them to discover the area without driving for hours. And you can indeed easily fill your visits here with amazing day trips from the city. However, many of these places are hidden secrets to most tourists and information is not easy to find online. That’s why I decided to make this list of places to visit around Bordeaux. I tried to make it as diverse as I could to help anyone find its perfect spot for a day trip. It’s important to notice that most of these locations are not very accessible by public transport, so renting a car is recommended. For those of you that prefer not to go by car, be sure to check up my article about the best day trips from Bordeaux by train.
Wine related day tips around Bordeaux
Saint Émilion is probably the most famous wine related day trip from Bordeaux. Its picturesque center, densely filled with wine shops and fancy restaurants, turns this little town into a prominent attraction for tourists in the area. Saint Émilion is mostly famous for its wines so a visit to one of the châteaux (wineries) is a must. The charming town, however, is worth a visit even if you’re not a wine lover. Important historical monuments can be found in abundance in this medieval town, some of which date back as far as the 11th and 12th centuries. One of the famous monuments is the 11th-century Monolithic church, carved from a limestone cliff, it’s the largest underground church in Europe.
There is a direct train from Bordeaux to Saint Émilion however if you want to visit some of the distant chateaux in the region, coming by car is recommended. There is just one problem is Saint Émilion, there are just too many beautiful spots to visit and it’s really hard to choose just a few! In my article about the best wineries to visit in Saint Emilion, I cover both the most interesting chateaux and the most welcoming wine producing families in the area so check it out!
The Medoc Wine Route
The Medoc is one of the most famous wine regions in the world, attracting many wine enthusiasts to the Medoc wine route. The famous route is a never-ending road (the D2) leading from the northern part of Bordeaux Metropole (start in Blanquefort) to almost the northernmost point in Gironde. An infinite landscape of vineyards adorned with mesmerizing châteaux. A view that will leave you speechless even if you don’t like wine.
There are about 600 châteaux along the Medoc wine trail. You probably won’t have time to visit most of them, but luckily, some of the most beautiful ones can be seen from the road so all you have to do is stop for a quick photo. The most famous wine houses (like Château Margeaux and Château Mouton Rothschild) are open only to professionals but don’t worry, there are plenty of beautiful properties you can visit. Some of the prettiest and more interesting are Château d’Arsac, Château Siran, Château Beychevelle and Château Cos d’Estournelle. If you don’t mind going a little further to the north I highly recommend visiting the last chateau on the trail, Château Loudenne. This charming (it’s pink!) old château has a huge garden and its own port so apart from the wine visit, you can have a lovely picnic or take a boat tour. Make sure you book your visit to the wineries before going there as it can get quite busy in the summer.
Wine is not the only alcoholic drink the Southwest of France is known for! Bordeaux is located about 120 km (75 miles) from Cognac, an area that produces one of the most luxurious spirits in the world. The town of Cognac, located in the Charente department, is a charming and interesting place that’s worth a visit even if you’re not a big fan of Cognac. The old center of the city is characterized by narrow paved streets with houses dating from the 16th and 17th century. Some of the most famous Cognac houses are located right in the city center, among them, you’ll find Hennessy, Martell and Rémy Martin. All of them offer tours which normally include a visit to the cellars and Cognac tastings. You can read more about Cognac in my post about the 10 best things to do in Cognac. While it’s possible to get to Cognac by train, it’s quite a long journey so going by car is recommended.
Discover the sandy beaches around Bordeaux
Arcachon is one of the most popular summer destinations in the southwest of France. A seaside resort town renowned for its beautiful beaches, impressive architecture and vibrant atmosphere. Within an hour drive from Bordeaux you get to swim in the ocean, eat oysters and see beautiful villas. A day trip from Bordeaux to Arcachon can easily take a whole day but many tend to combine it with a visit to the Dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe and one of the most popular destinations in France.
I recently wrote a post about the best things to do and see in and around the town of Arcachon, which is one of the main tourist destinations on the Arcachon Bay. So take a look at it before you head to the area. You can reach Arcachon by train, however coming by car will allow you to easily access the dune and to visit other places on the bay, such as Gujan Mestas and the Teich bird reserve.
Soulac sur mer
This charming little town is one of the highlights of the Medoc region. It’s located on the very top of the Medoc Atlantique, about 90 km (55 miles) from Bordeaux. If this is too far for you, you can combine it with the wine trail in Medoc which I mentioned above.
Soulac sur Mer is a resort town that resembles Arcachon, with the city center looking like Ville d’été and the impressive 18th-century villas that look just like Ville d’Hiver. Soulac has some of the most beautiful beaches on the Atlantic coast, attracting many French tourists to the area. There are plenty of cute little restaurants both in the center and on the promenade. Seafood is a very important part of the local cuisine and so many restaurants will serve oysters and large shrimps.
When there, take a map in the tourist office and go on a discovery tour of the most interesting villas. I highly recommend coming here at the beginning of June during the festive weekend of Soulac 1900, a really fun Jazz festival.
Cap Ferret is a charming town located on the Western part of Bassin d’Arcachon (Arcachon Bay) and has been traditionally known as a summer getaway for the French upper class. Although it’s been recently gaining popularity among tourists visiting the south of France, it has yet to lose its relaxing, uncrowded beach village atmosphere.
Cap Ferret is shaped like a narrow tongue with a long string of beautiful sandy beaches on the Atlantic ocean and a view on the eastern side of the Bassin. It’s also one of the main producers of oysters in France due to its location on the bay that creates perfect conditions for the ostréiculture industry. Dozens of oyster cabins and restaurants with a view on the Bassin give Cap Ferret a unique character that’s worth a visit and a taste.
The Biscarrosse lake
This one is a great option for a day in nature. If you don’t mind driving a bit longer, the beautiful Biscarrosse lake is located about 70 km (45 miles) from Bordeaux. It is one of the biggest lakes in the area with plenty of amazing beaches and pine forest surrounding it. As it’s so big there are several beaches to choose from, some of which are Plage Navarrose and Plage de Caton. Aquapark, the biggest inflatable water park in France is located on Plage Maguide. If you’re into surfing, head to the beaches on the Atlantic coast. You can also start the day with a biking trail on the canal, connecting the big and little lakes.
A day trip to beautiful villages
Bazas is a beautiful town with lovely people and a great heritage embodying the Gascony culture. It’s located at the eastern edge of the Gascon Landes forest, about 65 km (40 miles) from Bordeaux. A stroll in the historic center will allow you to discover the rich history of the city and its past role as an important bishopric. Its beautiful architecture includes the gothic cathedral (recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO), old mansions, gardens and historic monuments.
Heritage is not the only attraction of this charming town, it’s actually quite famous for its gastronomy, especially its meat. You can enjoy the Bazas meat in one of the restaurants that are perfectly located on the main square. True meat lovers could also buy meat in one of the many butcher shops in the center. If you’re looking for a full gastronomic experience to discover the cuisine of the region, there’s one tour you shouldn’t miss. Anne, an American living is Bazas is an expert on everything related to food in the region. She knows all the farmers and chefs around Bazas and a guided tour with her is an experience you don’t want to miss. Check out her website.
Blaye is one of the most interesting places in the Bordeaux area, located only about 50 km (30 miles) from the center of Bordeaux. This little town has a long military and strategic history and today it’s mostly known for its remarkable Citadel and red wine. The Citadel and the city walls are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you can easily spend half a day discovering the old city walls. The entrance to the Citadel is free and you can explore the streets and ramparts admiring the view of the Gironde estuary which can be seen from the top.
Blaye is also known for its red wine. You can visit the Maison du Vin on the main street (12 Cours Vauban), where they would gladly introduce you to the wines of the area and the chateaux you can visit around Blaye. The easiest way to get there is by car or by ferry if you’re coming from the other side of the Gironde estuary. The ferry is leaving from Lamarque.
Visit castles in the South of Gironde
South Gironde is a magical area with a landscape colored with history, tradition and character. It’s a rural area, abundant with beautiful medieval villages and ancient castles. One of the most impressive castles is Château de la Brede which is located only 30 minutes from Bordeaux. It is a 14th-century castle that was built in a Gothic style. The house has a historic importance as it was the residence of Montesquieu. The château is open for visits from April to November (consult their opening hours here).
Another interesting castle to visit is château de Cadillac located in a charming little town that goes by the same name. The chateau is very impressive and is best known for being a women’s prison starting from the French revolution until 1950. Now it serves as a museum that mostly displays the life of the royals who were occupying the estate before it became a prison. However, on the last floor, you can actually still see the cells and an exhibition about the prison.
Bergerac is one of the main cities in the Dordogne area, quite close to the eastern border of the Gironde department. While it’s not as appealing as some of the small beautiful villages in Dordogne, it’s a lively city with a lot of charm to it. In the city center, you will find plenty of restaurants, a great market and long shopping streets. Bergerac is seated on the banks of the Dordogne giving it a beautiful view of the river. You can take a tour on the traditional boats (les gabarres) and discover the history of the city as well as the natural reserve around it.
The area is also known for its wine and you can combine your trip there with a visit to a château. One of the most famous ones is the beautiful Château de Monbazillac, which is located only 15 minutes away. It’s known for its sweet white wine. If you’re going to Bergerac on a Saturday, don’t miss the great market in Saint Foy la Grande which is just on the way from Bordeaux.
Finally, if you are looking for a fun and delicious activity in Bordeaux, check out my food tours in which I’ll take you through a three hours journey in the culinary scene of the Southwest of France.
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Capucins is one of the oldest markets in France and it rightfully carries the title “The belly of Bordeaux”. Bordeaux’s market has such an importance in the gastronomic scene of Bordeaux that I always spend at least an hour there on my food tours.
It’s a big market, abundant with colorful stands of fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese and all the delicacies of the Southwest of France. However, it differs from many other French markets in that it’s a place for much more than just buying groceries. People go there for their morning coffee, for lunch or the sacred combination of wine, oysters, and friends meeting on the weekend. There are so many restaurants and stands at the Bordeaux market that for a newcomer it can be a bit overwhelming. That’s why I decided to gather a list of all my favorite places at Marché des Capucins.
When it comes to local food, oysters are one of the highlights of our region. Bordeaux is just one hour away from Arcachon, one of France’s main oyster farming centers. So it’s not a surprise to find good oysters at the main market of Bordeaux. Chez Jean-Mi became one of Bordeaux’s go-to places for fresh oysters. I love that place so much that it quickly became a must on my food tour! On weekends, many locals rush here to meet their friends over a plate of oysters and a glass of white wine. Apart from oysters, the place serves a variety of seafood, delicious soups and more. You can sit inside and soak up the market atmosphere or grab a table outside to enjoy the sun while you sip your wine. The place tends to be very busy during the weekend so be sure to come early (around 11 am) to get a table.
Opening hours: Tuesdays to Saturday from 7:00 to 13:45 and Sunday from 9:00 to 15:15.
Café Laiton – the best coffee in the Bordeaux market
Finding good coffee in a French market is not always easy and that’s what makes Café Laiton quite revolutionary. This cozy little coffee place is owned by the lovely Gaëlle who decided to open a quality cafe in Bordeaux after spending several years in Buenos Aires. There she used to work and drink her coffee at the market and came with the idea to replicate the ‘coffee at the market’ experience back home. Moving to Bordeaux, she realized that the Capucins market, where she used to spend a lot of time as a child, is the perfect scenery for her coffee shop. The place is quite small, but the market adds a lot of space to it. You can sit at the bar or grab a table outside. Apart from good coffee, they also serve homemade food and pastries and a delicious brunch on Sundays.
Opening hours: Wednesday to Friday from 8:30 to 13:45 and Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 to 14:45.
Bistro Poulette is a chic restaurant that can easily fit the stylish food scene in the city center. But being located at the market of Bordeaux gives it a unique twist. Food and drinks are being served quite early in the day and you don’t have to wait for lunch to start your gastronomic celebration. If you come in the morning you can enjoy their breakfast, brunch or take it a bit further with a plate of charcuterie and wine. At lunchtime, you get to enjoy their specialty, which is Mussels, served in casseroles and cooked with a variety of sauces like white wine, curry and more.
Opening hours: Wednesday to Friday from 8:30 to 15:00 and Saturday and Sunday from 7:00 to 15:00.
Tortill’art – a Spanish delight at the Bordeaux market
Strolling in the market, you can easily miss this littletortilla bar. But, as it’s one of my favorites at the marché des Capucins, I must spread the word. Juan servers several types of tortillas and delicious Spanish Jambon with wine or a homemade Sangria. Tortillas are his specialty and some of the recipes run in his family for generations. He’s a super nice guy who you can have a fun chat with while sitting at the bar. What makes this place even more attractive are the prices! You can easily have a full lunch here for less than 10 euros.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday until 13:00 and Saturday and Sunday until 14:30.
Pata Negra – for the best Pintxos
One of the best tapas bars in Bordeaux is located in the Capucins market. In the middle of the week, this place mainly sells Spanish delicacies but on weekends it turns into a fantastic tapas bar with a huge variety of pintxos. Once you’re seated by the hostess and get your plate you can start picking the Pintxos. There is one problem though! there are so many of them that it’s really hard to choose only a few. Just be sure not to throw the long toothpicks holding the pintxos, as that’s how the restaurant knows how much to charge you. This is a very popular place so if you’re in the mood for delicious tapas, be sure to come early.
Opening hours of the bar: Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 15:30
Les Jardins – delicious lunch and tapas
Another fun place for lunch is Les Jardins. This little restaurant has a great variety of dishes on their daily menu. You can enjoy local meat dishes and many French delicacies like snails, oysters, and shrimps. The service is super friendly, especially when you’re coming in the middle of the week. The owner really tries to give attention to every customer which is refreshing.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9:00 to 13:00, Saturday 5:00 to 14:00
Les Puits d’Amour – a magical dessert before you leave the market
This beautiful pastry carries the name le Puit d’amour, a well of love. It’s a local pastry, created by Maison Seguin in a little town South to Bordeaux called Captieux. Les Puit d’amour is filled with crème Chiboust (a mix of crème pâtissière and an Italian meringue). It’s a perfect bite size end to your market journey. Be aware that they arrive every day with only a few trays of les Puits d’Amour and once they finish selling them, puff they’re gone. So be sure to pass by before lunch and buy a box for later.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9:00 until the last puit d’amour 🙂
Hope you enjoyed our virtual market tour! If it opened your appetite to discover more of the local flavors of the South West of France, check out the Lost in Bordeaux food tours where I take you through a journey of tastes and fascinating stories about the cuisine of the Bordeaux region.
Arcachon is the main town on the Bassin d’Arcachon, a bay of the Atlantic ocean that attracts many visitors from Bordeaux. Less than 60 km separates the capital of the Southwest from Arcachon and its beautiful villas, clear blue beaches and delicious seafood. This is also one of the main osticulture (oysters farming) centers of France so eating oysters is a “must” when coming to the area. I know many of my readers are less enthusiastic about oysters than the French are, but don’t worry, this place is a gem even if you’re not a fan of “huitres“. In this article, I will walk you through the best things you can do in Arcachon, where you should eat and even how to get there.
I have to warn you though, Arcachon is one of the most popular sea resorts in France and in the summer, it’s flooded with tourists and locals alike. The best time to go there is either May-June or September. To avoid the crowded places you can visit one of the other charming villages on the Bassin d’Arcachon, such as la Teste de buch and Gujan Mestras. There are other amazing towns in the north and west parts of the bay, such as Andernos les Bains and Cap Ferret. However, in my opinion, if it’s your first time in Arcachon, you can by no means miss the incredible Dune du Pilat, south of the bay, and so I’ve focused my recommendations on that area.
Arcachon is divided into 4 regions: the summer city is the city center with walkways and restaurants; the winter city is adorned with beautiful 19th-century villas; the autumn city includes the fishing area; and the spring city covers the most beautiful beaches in the Southern part of the bay. In most cities, people usually get to visit only the city center, but in Arcachon each part offers something completely different and you have to visit at least three to fully discover it. To help you do just that I’ve made a list of all the places I think you should visit and things you should do while in Arcachon. Hope you enjoy it 🙂
Best things to do in Arcachon
La Ville d’Eté – the main beach and the Arcachon market
The summer city is the touristic center of Arcachon. Typical to most towns in the region it has a nice pedestrian area with plenty of restaurants and boutiques. You can start your visit directly on the waterfront, just stroll along the beautiful promenade next to the main beach (Plage d’Arcachon). Its location on the Arcachon bay protects it from the threatening waves of the Atlantic Ocean and makes it the safest beach for kids. During the summer this beach tends to be very crowded so you might consider searching for a quieter one in Ville de Printemps (see below).
One of the main attractions in Arcachon’s city center is the main market, Marché d’Arcachon. Like many towns in the area, Arcachon too has a fantastic covered market gathering plenty of food stands with local delicacies. The best thing is that the market is open daily from mid-June to mid-September and from Tuesday to Saturday the rest of the year so you can rely on it for great home-cooked meals or just a breakfast snack. In the summer, a night market takes place several days a week, with stands of clothes, accessories, jewelry and more. The night market is open until 23:00 (for the dates click here).
La Ville d’Hiver – Beautiful villas and the main park of Arcachon
The Architecture of La Ville d’Hiver
This neighborhood might not be the city center but La Ville d’Hiver is definitely the most beautiful part of Arcachon. The winter town, built on the hills of the city in the late 19th century, attracts many visitors thanks to its gorgeous architecture. Strolling the calm – green streets you will discover beautiful villas, each designed with different elements, giving the neighborhood an elegant yet eclectic style. Among the 300 villas, there are a few that should not be missed, among them Villa Tolledo, Villa Teresa, Villa Alexandre Dumas, and Villa Bremontier. If you can read some French, here’s a site with a short history of the most famous villas in the winter city.
Parc Mauresque – a beautiful park with a panoramic view
Overlooking La Ville d’Eté you will find the charming Parc Mauresque, built in 1843. It’s located on a hill which you can spot right from the city center. If you don’t want to climb too many stairs, there’s a lift that will bring you all the way up to the park’s center. That’s also the best way to pass from the summer city to winter city. The park is equipped with great playgrounds for kids and many cute spots for a picnic. This would be a great time for a picnic before heading to the beach.
Just next to the park, you’ll find the Observatoire de Sainte Cécile, a belvedere built from metal on which you can climb to see an incredible panoramic view of the Arcachon Bay. If it reminds you of the Eiffel Tower, that’s because Gustave Eiffel took part in the project!. The site is open daily and is free.
The beaches of La Ville de Printemps
The best beaches of Arcachon are located in “Spring town”, the western part of the city. The most famous beach is Plage Pereire, which starts right after the pedestrian promenade (bordered by Jetée de la Chapelle). It’s a beautiful three km beach with white sand and a view of the Cap Ferret peninsula on the other side of the bay. This beach is equipped with many sports facilities, a cycle path and green lawns for people to have a picnic on.
If you walk south on the beach line, you’ll get to Plage des Abatilles and des Arbousiers, the last one attracting the windsurfers and kite surfers coming to the area. Most beaches in Arcachon are supervised and well-equipped, so you just have to choose between the calmer beaches on the bay or the big ocean waves.
A visit to Le Moulleau
Le Moulleau, located in the far west, is officially a part of the city of Arcachon. However, in reality, it feels like a completely separate little resort town with its own center, beaches and restaurants. Le Moulleau is built around the beautiful Notre Dame des Passes square and its pier. There are several restaurants on the main street (Boulevard de la côte d’argent) and the Chemin des Pères promenade. The hotels and some restaurants in Le Moulleau are quite pricey as the area attracts a lot of wealthy French tourists. The resort is located mid-way between the center of Arcachon and the famous Dune du Pilat, so this could be a nice stop on the way there. If you’re coming by public transport, line 1 (Baia company) will take you from the Arcachon train station to the main street of Moulleau.
Take a boat to go eat lunch in Cap Ferret
If you’re around Le Moulleau during lunchtime, you can upgrade your lunch to a fun adventure. Just in front of Le Moulleau beach lies the peninsula of Cap Ferret. It’s one of the most charming villages on the Bassin d’Arcachon and is known particularly for its oyster farming. Many people go there from Arcachon just for a few hours to eat the freshest oysters in one of the restaurants on the beach. The village is located on the other side of the bay so going there by car will take more than an hour. But you can totally skip the long route and go by sea. From April to mid-September there’s a fairy that takes you from le Moulleau to Cap Ferret in just 20 minutes (leaving from Jetée du Moulleau). You can also take the fairy from the center of Arcachon, which takes 30 minutes to reach Cap Ferret. For the schedule and tickets reservation click here.
A boat trip to Iles aux Oiseaux and the Cabanes Tchanquées
The Arcachon bay is not just another resort town. The biodiversity and natural conditions which helped its famous oyster farming industry also make for fascinating adventures. If you really wish to discover the Bassin d’Arcachon beyond its beautiful beaches visit two of its landmarks, Les Cabanes Tchanquées and L’Ile aux Oiseaux. Les Cabanes Tchanquées, the two wooden huts decorating almost every postcard in Arcachon, are one of the most emblematic symbols of the bay. They were originally used for supervising the oysters farms but are no longer in use and can only be seen from outside. L’Ile aux Oiseaux, the birds’ island, owes its name to the many birds that reside in the Island yearlong.
There are several companies that offer both group and private tours to these and other parts of the bay. You can go by regular boat or by pinasse, which is a traditional boat from Arcachon. The tours are usually in French but many of the guides speak some English and can easily explain the most important details. The tour leaves from Jetée Thiers, located on the main beach of Arcachon. You can also get more information about different tours in the tourist office.
Dune du Pilat – the amazing sand dune
If there’s one thing in this list I consider a “must” it’s definitely this one. The gigantic sand dune is one of the wonders of the area, with its 60 million metric cubes of sand it’s quite astonishing the first time you see it. Dune du Pilat is Europe’s tallest sand dune, rising to an impressive 110 m high. It’s also 500 meters wide and 2.7 km long so you’ll have plenty of room to wander. You can climb the dune by stairs that are installed from the end of May to early November. If you come during the low season or just feel energetic, you can just climb straight up the sandy slopes.
Once you reach the top, a stunning panoramic view will be revealed with the Cap Ferret peninsula on one side a huge pine forest on the other and the magnificent Banc d’Arguin nature reserve just in front. After working so hard climbing the dune, you can slide to the other side (when the sand is not too hot of course) and go straight to the beach. If you’re not in a rush you can easily spend the day here, have a nice picnic and swim in the crystal clear water. It’s hard to describe the beauty of this site in words, you really must see it yourself.
If you’re coming by public transport, line 1 (Baia company) will take you from the Arcachon train station to Dune to Pilat.
Discover Arcachon by Bike
There are many bike paths and roads with very little traffic in the Bassin d’Arcachon which makes it a perfect place to discover by bicycle. The bike lanes go along most of the waterfront and lead from one beach to the other quite easily. You can also take the circuit from the center of Arcachon to Dune du Pilat and go through le Moulleau and Pyla sur Mer, the village where Dune du Pilat is located. To follow the path see the map here. There are many bike rental places in Arcachon where you can rent a bike for a few hours or for the whole day, see their details here.
Have a drink at la Co(o)rniche
La Co(o)rniche is a 5-star hotel designed by Philippe Starck with the most amazing view of the bassin. The hotel is luxurious and expensive so it’s for special occasions, but you can still enjoy the stunning view with a cocktail in the terrasse. The Co(o)rnice is just a few minutes by car from the Dune du Pilat.
Theater and Casino
If you want to finish your day with an artistic program, go ahead to Theater Olympia. This great theater hosts a variety of shows and concerts almost every night. For more details and tickets clickhere. If you’re staying the night in Arcachon you can also check out the Casino located in the city center.
Where to eat in Arcachon
There’s quite a few restaurants in Arcachon, but you should know where to go in order to avoid tourist traps. A few good places are located right at the market.
Le Bouchon du marché is located in the heart of the market with plenty of tables outside as well. The restaurant serves excellent local food, is open daily and has a great vibe to it. The market is also a good opportunity to taste some of the best oysters in Arcachon. l’Oyster Bar is an excellent spot to taste the local delicacies as well as other seafood. If you want to enjoy a better view, go to Chez Pierre located on the main beach of Arcachon.
You don’t have to stay in the city center for Lunch, there are some nice spots in Le Moulleau as well, among them is Le Jardin with the magnificent terrace and the Royal Moulleau on the riverfront. For desserts head to the center of Moulleau where you can find plenty of great ice cream on every corner.
For special occasions, there are several fine dining places worth mentioning, among them Thierry Renou’s Le Patio on the port of Arcachon. You can also stop for lunch at the Haaitza hotel which has an amazing restaurant, located just a few minutes by car or bicycle from the Dune du Pilat.
How to get to Arcachon and where to park?
By public transport
The easiest way to get to Arcachon is by train from the Saint-Jean station in Bordeaux. The train leaves every 30 to 60 minutes depending on the hour (with a break of two hours between 9:00 and 11:00). It takes about 50 minutes to get there and if you want to avoid traffic this is how I recommend getting to Arcachon. However, the train tickets aren’t cheap so if you’re more than two people, renting a car is a better option. It’s a local train without seat reservation and tickets can be bought online or at the station. See the hours of the trains here.
It can take about an hour to get from Bordeaux to Arcachon, depending on traffic. During the summer, the bay is packed with locals and tourists so the traffic can be a bit heavy. If you’re planning to visit only the town of Arcachon and the dune, getting there by train would be the easiest option.
However, if you also want to visit some of the other magical spots on the bay, a car is a more practical way to get around. Except Dune du Pilat mentioned above, there are plenty of other fascinating places you can visit on the way, such as the oyster capital Gujan-Mestras and the Teich bird reserve.
The Bordeaux airport in Merignac is less than an hour drive from the Bassin d’Arcachon. You can rent a car at the airport and avoid entering the city if you’re planning to go straight to Arcachon. If you want to do everything by public transport, take bus number 1 from the airport to the train station and a train to Arcachon from there, as explained above. There’s also an airport for private jets if you want to make a classy entrance to the bay 😉
If you’re coming in low season parking is not a big issue. Between October 1st and March 31, you can park in most of the streets of Ville d’hiver which is only a few minutes walk from the city center. However, during the summer, finding free parking is nearly impossible and you should get familiar with some of the parking spaces the city proposes. On July and August, the cheapest way to park in Arcachon is to leave your car at the Parking Relais, and then take their Navette to the city center and other parts of Arcachon. Some other parking places in the city include the Parking du centre ville, Parking de la gare, Parking place de Verdun, Parking place Peyneau and Parking place Carnot.
The main events
Arcachon is a very lively place with plenty of entertaining events. Besides the local small events taking place throughout the year, there are several big ones you should pay attention to when planning your visit.
Andernos Jazz Festival at the end of July – a jazz festival in one my favorite towns on the bay (Andernos les Bains). This place was not mentioned in the article as it’s located a bit far from the city of Arcachon but if you come during the festival I highly recommend going there.
Music O Teich in July – a world music festival with free concerts every night on the port of Teich.
Fêtes de la mer in August – the city celebrates the sea and its maritime traditions. Festival Arcachon en Scéne at the end of July, beginning of August – a big music festival you should check out
Festival Cadences in September – a dance festival on the beach and at the Olympia theater.
Cabanes en fete in December – another fun event celebrating oysters, taking place in Andernos les Bains.
To be honest, this area is pretty amazing even without any special events but those definitely add to the fun atmosphere of the Bassin d’Arcachon.
That’s it, that’s my first article about the Bassin d’Arcachon. As someone who lives close by I know that there’s plenty more to do around the bay. However, some of the other towns deserve a separate article, that’s exactly what I intend to do in the future. For now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this list!
Saint-Émilion is one of the most prestigious wine areas in the world. With more than 800 wine producers, an endless landscape of vineyards, and its vicinity to Bordeaux, it became one of the top destinations in the southwest of France. More than a million visitors arrive each year to explore the nine communes of the Saint-Émilion region: Saint-Émilion, Saint-Christophe des Bardes, Saint-Sulpice de Faleyrens, Saint-Hippolyte, Saint-Etienne de Lisse, Saint-Laurent des Combes, Saint-Pey d’Armens, Vignonet and parts of Libourne.
With so much excellent wine and beautiful châteaux, choosing which wineries to visit in Saint-Émilion can be quite a difficult task. The fact that many of the well-known châteaux are only open to professionals in the wine industry doesn’t help either. So to help you build your trip to this amazing wine region, I gathered my list of the best wineries to visit in Saint-Émilion. The list includes wineries having great wine (obviously), beautiful properties and interesting tours. I featured both small family run wineries and bigger châteaux, and if time permits I would recommend combining both in your visit.
Just a quick note before we start. If you’re coming to Bordeaux in September, you should know that it’s the grapes harvest season, with events and activities that will allow you to witness one of the most interesting processes in the wine production. To learn more about that go to my article about the harvest season in Bordeaux and Saint Emilion. Also if you’re interested in disccovering other regions of the Bordeaux wine area, check out my article about the Medoc wine route. Now let’s dig in!
This elegant château is located about 20 minutes’ walk from the center of Saint-Émilion. The property has a 400-year history as it has been handed down from generation to generation since at least the early 17th century. Today, the family’s 14th generation lives in the property and runs the winemaking business. One of the things that won me over when I first visited was their amazing garden with its own pond and ducks. Combine that with a glass of wine and you will enjoy an amazing picturesque scenery. It’s particularly great if you’re visiting with kids as they can enjoy the garden while you’re taking the wine tour. The David-Beaulieu family is very welcoming and they guide the tours themselves giving a very personal feel to it.
There are two tours to choose from: The “Tradition” (45 min – 5€) which includes the history of the estate, a visit to the winery and the family cellar, and wine tasting. And the “Prestige” visit (1h30 – 12€), which is for 8 people max, and also includes a tour through the vineyards and an exploration of Coutet’s treasures. The tours have to be scheduled ahead. To book a visit call ++33 (0) 5 57 74 43 21 or ++33 (0) 7 82 22 01 05 or write an email to [email protected] . Website:http://chateau-coutet.com/en/wine-tour/ Address: Coutet, 33330 Saint-Émilion
Château Bernateau is also a family run winery owned by the 11th generation of the Lavau family. The tour is run by the lovely Karine who is married to one of the sons running the family business. The visit, which lasts around an hour and a half, takes you from the vineyard to the glass. You will see 60 years old vines as well as new ones, visit their beautiful new gravity vat house and then taste wine from different years and styles. It’s a beautiful property with a green and charming garden and a small playground for kids. So if you want to spend some time in the château beyond the tour itself and maybe have a picnic, this place is highly recommended.
They are open daily and offer tours in English and French. The price is 6 euros if you join a group and 10 euros for a private tour. Click here to book a tour online. You can also book a tour by phone (++33 (0) 5 57 40 18 19) or by email: [email protected] Address: Château Bernateau, 33330 Saint-Étienne-de-Lisse
The Beaurang winery is located in the southern part of Saint-Émilion, about 5 km from the center. This isn’t a fancy château, but if you’re looking for a warm welcome, a family feel and great wine this is the right place for you. Claude Puyol and his daughter Delphine represent the third and fourth generation in this artisanal wine-making family. They have an interesting history as they are descendants of Spanish immigrants who came to the region in the early 20th century as simple workers and were eventually able to buy the château and start making their own wine.
The visit will teach you quite a lot about the wine in the region and about the life of a winemaker. In a fascinating way, Claude presents both the beauty and the struggles of wine growers including the effect weather has on their business. At the end of the tour, you will taste some of their great wine, which was one of our favorites in Saint-Émilion. The tours are offered every day from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00. They offer the visit for free but require a reservation. You can book a tour by phone (++33 (0) 6 81 56 35 58) or by email: [email protected] Website: https://www.chateau-beaurang.com/ Address: Château Beaurang, 1, Beaurang, 33330 Saint-Emilion
Château La Croizzille
Château la Croizille offers a fascinating journey combining old and new. The modern château stands right next to the traditional Château of Tour Baladoz, owned by the same family. This tour allows you to discover the differences between the traditional techniques and the innovative ones for which Château la Croizille is known for. One of the highlights of this tour is the amazing view from the tasting room overlooking the vineyards from the top. The basic tour (12€ per person) is offered daily and includes the modern cellars and tastings. You can also get a picnic basket full of local goodies for 35€. Click here to book online. Another option is to book a private tour (35€ per person) by phone (33) 05 57 74 55 86 or by email: [email protected] Website: http://www.chateaulacroizille.com/en/ Address: lieu-dit Baladoz, 33330 Saint-Laurent des Combes (Saint-Emilion)
Château Guibeau is a bit far from Saint-Émilion (15 minutes drive) but totally worth the ride. It’s considered a big winery in Saint-Émilion, with 38 hectares on which they produce around 120,000 bottles a year. It’s owned and run by Brigitte and Eric Destouet. Brigitte is the one running the tours and she will easily make you fall in love with their property and bio wine.
The visits to the chateau are possible from Monday to Friday from 10h30 to 12h and from 14h to 18h for only 5€ per person. You can also take the gourmand tour, with a delicious basket to take to a picnic in the garden of the chateau with an amazing view. Book both tours here or by email to [email protected] or by phone: ++33 (0) 5 57 55 22 75. The owners also have a guesthouse on their property so if you’re looking for an immersive experience that includes a stay in a wine chateau, this is a great opportunity. Click here to book a room. Website: http://www.chateau-guibeau.com/ Address: 51 Guibeau Ouest, 33570 Puisseguin
At a mere 10 minutes walk from the center of Saint-Émilion stands the impressive 18th-century Château Soutard. If visiting a beautiful château is high on your list, this is a great option. Since 2006, its owned by La Mondiale company, so it doesn’t have the cozy family feel like many of the other chateaux on this list. But it’s a very popular and highly rated experience. The Château offers plenty of fun activities such as a wine blending workshop, biking in the vineyards, a gourmet picnic and of course, wine tours. Their basic wine tour (12€ / person) starts at 14h every day from April to October, no reservation is required. It includes a visit to their vineyards and cellars. At the end of the tour, you have the chance to taste their renowned Grand Cru Classé wines. To book any of their activities click here. Website: http://www.chateau-soutard.com/ Address: Soutard, 33330 Saint-Émilion
Another charming family-run winery is Château Cantenac, built in 1870 on the locality “Cantenac”. The property and its vineyards are located about 3.5 km west of the center of Saint Emilion. Since 1937, the winery is owned by the Roskam-Brunot family, which are now in their 3rd and 4th generations of winemakers. The family is very friendly and their tours are full of knowledge about the winemaking process. The tours are guided by a family member, who is really passionate about the heritage, the wine and the whole process of producing it. The tour ends up with a comparative and educational wine tasting experience. The winery offers two tours: The one-hour classic tour (10 € / person) and the Prestige tour ( 25 € / person ) which also includes some snacks and more wine. You can visit the château from Monday to Friday (10h30 to 14h) upon reservation. Click here to book the tour directly through their site. Website: https://www.chateau-cantenac.fr/histoire/la-famille-roskam/ Address: 2 locality Cantenac, 33330 Saint-Emilion
Château de Ferrand
Another impressive château on our list is Château de Ferrand, located about 6km from the center of Saint-Émilion. Part of the tour will include the history of the Château that dates back to the 17th century. The wine is a Grand Cru Classé and with its 32-hectare, it’s considered a big winery in the Saint-Émilion wine region. During the tour, you’ll get to visit the vineyard and their big wine cellars. While many of the wineries on this list have a family feeling to them this one is a bit different. It’s much more professional and the wine tasting part is conducted by a professional sommelier that will teach you how to taste wine. Tour prices range between 17 and 21 euros depending on the number of glasses you’re going to taste. The most expensive tour (21 euros) includes tastings of cheese and charcuterie. Click here to book a visit through their site. You can also book by phone + 33 (0) 5 57 74 47 11 or email: [email protected] Website: http://www.chateaudeferrand.com/en-gb/home.aspx Address: Château de Ferrand, Saint-Hippolyte, 33330 Saint Emilion
If you come to Saint-Émilion by train and you really don’t want to leave the village, Château Villemaurine is perfect for you as it’s a short walking distance from the village center. The Château combines tradition, modernity, centuries of history and the refined production of great wines. Château Villemaurine offers three guided tours. The first one is a group discovery tour (15€ / person) where you get to visit the vineyards and the monolithic cellars which are located underneath the vines of the estate. Second is the Heritage tour (15€ / person ) where you will discover the stunning network of quarries owned by the Château Villemaurine. Last is a private tour (45€ / person) which is personally designed for wine enthusiasts. All the tours include wine tasting in the end. Click here to book the tour online. Website: https://www.villemaurine.com/index.php/en/ Address: 23 Villemaurine-Sud, Saint-Émilion
Visiting with kids
If you’re visiting Saint-Émilion with kids and you’re afraid that a visit to a winery will bore them, take the train tour. The little train leaves every 45 minutes from Espace Villemaurine (next to the bus parking). It’s a 35 minutes tour (7€ / person) that takes you through the vineyards and the big châteaux of Saint-Émilion. If you wish to combine that with a winery visit, the 11€ tour includes a stop at Chateau Rochebelle and its stunning, beautifully lit monolithic cellars (with wine tastings at the end). The tickets can be bought in the tourist office in Saint-Émilion or online (24 hours in advance). For all the details and to book a train tour click here.
Now for the more practical part. While some châteaux will welcome spontaneous visitors, most of the wineries require prior reservations. So be sure to book the tours in advance. In addition, unless you’re coming during the summer, some of the châteaux are closed on the weekends, so if you have the chance, try visiting during the week. Lastly, while visiting Saint-Émilion is a beautiful experience any time of the year, there are some months that are less recommended for wine tours. During the winter (from December to March) and especially in January when it gets cold, many wineries are closed for visits. September is one of the most interesting times in the area as it’s the harvest season but take into account that many small châteaux don’t have enough staff to offer tours during that time so make sure to contact the château in advance.
Saint-Émilion is the queen of wine tourism and one article cannot possibly cover all the tours you can take in the area. In this article, I simply wanted to highlight some of the tours I personally enjoyed and to offer a variety of both big and small châteaux to help my readers plan their trip to the area. Hope you liked it 🙂
Bordeaux is a very lively city with plenty of restaurants, boutiques and interesting places to visit. So if you want to fully enjoy all this city has to offer, choosing the right hotel or apartment location is crucial. The most vibrant and central neighborhood in Bordeaux is Saint Pierre and if you don’t have a tight budget or other constraints (kids, noise, vicinity to the train station, etc.) it’s a great area to stay in. But you shouldn’t limit yourself to Saint Pierre, there are lots of good neighborhoods in Bordeaux. In this guide, I’ll help you discover the best areas to stay in Bordeaux: lively neighborhoods, hipster districts and the best areas for families visiting the city. If you need specific recommendations for hotels in the city center, check out my post about the best hotels in Bordeaux for every budget. Let’s dive in!
Central Areas in Bordeaux
Saint Pierre and Saint Paul – The historic center of Bordeaux
Saint Pierre and Saint Paul districts represent the historic heart of the city. These are the most vibrant and lively areas in Bordeaux, where you stroll by paved narrow streets, charming squares and several famous monuments (the Miroir d’eau, place de la Bourse and others). it’s also the heart of the gastronomic scene in Bordeaux, with plenty of amazing restaurants, cocktail bars and hip cafés. Many are concentrated around the Place Fernand Lafargue, especially on rue Saint James. In Saint Pierre, almost every street has a good restaurant, but the best bars are on rue Parlement Saint Pierre and rue Parlement Sainte Catherine.
The neighborhoods are bounded by the Opera of Bordeaux from the north and rue Victor Hugo from the South. Going east you can enjoy a pleasant stroll on the gorgeous promenade of the Garonne River. The western border of the historic center is marked by rue Sainte Catherine, the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe hosting all the main retail stores as well as several smaller boutiques.
You can find plenty of Airbnb apartments in this area but they will usually be more expensive. Also, you should know that some of the streets can be a bit noisy at night. You can see a few recommendations for hotels in the Saint Pierre district in my post about the best places to stay in Bordeaux.
Pey Berland and Meriadeck – the administrative district of Bordeaux
Bordering the historic center is the Pey Berland neighborhood, home to the main Cathedral of Bordeaux, Saint André and the city hall (Hotel du Ville). This is one of Bordeaux’s central neighborhoods located within a walking distance from all the main monuments in Bordeaux. Pey Berland is also known as the museum district of Bordeaux with several good museums worth visiting: Musée des Beaux-Arts, Musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design and the Musée d’Aquitaine (a regional history museum).
This district is also a hub for the new wave of hip quality cafés emerging around Bordeaux such as SIP, The Blacklist, l’alchimiste and Gusco. If Sainte Catherine left you hungry for more shopping, this district will not disappoint you. Plenty of clothing boutiques and art galleries are located between the town hall, place Gambetta and Cours de l’independance. On rainy days, you can also visit the Mériadeck, the only shopping mall in the center of Bordeaux. If you’re looking for accommodation in this area but still want to feel the historic vibe of Bordeaux, try choosing a place to the east side of Cours d’Albret.
Quinconces and Triangle d’Or – The fancy area of Bordeaux
To the north of the historic center, we find the Triangle d’Or district, where the architecture mostly dates back to the 18th century. You’ll immediately notice the contrast in scenery coming from the narrow paved streets of old Bordeaux to the wide boulevards and elegant facades of the Triangle d’Or. This is the fancy part of Bordeaux, abundant with luxury boutiques and some of the best chocolatiers in Bordeaux.
The neighborhood also borders Jardin Public, the biggest park in the center of Bordeaux, making it a very kid friendly area. Triangle d’Or is also the home of the Opera of Bordeaux as well as the Esplanade des Quinconces, one of the biggest squares in France. Several times a year, different fairs take place at the square or on the Allée de Tourney. Among them are the Christmas market, the big brocante (flea and antiques market) of Bordeaux and an amusement park. In my blog I cover all the main events taking place in the city during the year, so for more updates follow my monthly and weekly lists.
Chartrons – the posh area of Bordeaux
The Chartrons district, neighboring esplanade des Quinconces, starts the northern part of Bordeaux. It’s quite a big district but the more interesting part of it lies next to the riverfront and around the long rue Notre Dame, one of the most posh streets in Bordeaux. This central street and the little ones surrounding it are full of excellent restaurants, trendy boutiques and antique shops.
The Chartrons riverfront is characterized by warehouses once used by foreign merchants to age and store wine. It gives the neighborhood a vibe different than the rest of the city. Also, every Sunday a big market takes place on Quai des Chartrons, gathering many tourists and locals from all parts of the city. So even if you don’t stay there, don’t miss this charming neighborhood.
Saint Michel, Saint Croix and Victoire – the Cosmopolitan areas of Bordeaux
If you’re looking to lower your budget or change the scenery from classic Bordeaux, the southern districts of the city are a great option. Saint Michel, Saint Croix and Victoire are the cosmopolitan districts of the city. A very mixed population lives in these neighborhoods, you could find international students, artists and immigrant merchant families. The area has a lively culinary scene, from the main market of Bordeaux to local bars and cute little restaurants. Although it’s only a few minutes walk from the city center, apartments in this area are considerably cheaper than the neighboring Saint Paul district.
Jardin Public and Saint Seurin – the quiet and green area of Bordeaux
Jardin Public and Saint Seurin are two residential neighborhoods, located quite close to the city center. If you’re planning a trip to Bordeaux with kids, these neighborhoods are perfect as they are calm and close to the main park of Bordeaux, Jardin Public. They are within a short walking distance from the Opera of Bordeaux and some of the best restaurants in the city so you won’t feel isolated.
The more distant neighborhoods in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is not a big city and you can easily reach the center from several other more distant districts. So if the center of Bordeaux is a bit out of your budget, consider some of the following areas. Another advice is to look for something on one of the tramlines as those are very regular, as opposed to buses in Bordeaux. Here is the map of the tramline in Bordeaux, to make it easier for you to do your search.
Bastide – the other side of the river
While most of the historic monuments are located on the west side (rive gauche) of the Garonne, rive droite has its own charm and can be a good place to stay in Bordeaux. By crossing the central bridge of Bordeaux (Pont Pierre) you arrive at the Bastide neighborhood. Until quite recently it was a sleepy residential neighborhood but in the last decade, it transformed into a hip area where many locals love to spend their weekends.
This district is especially charming from May to October when you can enjoy all its green areas and all the summer bars and restaurants on the riverfront which are then open for the summer season. Bastide is still much cheaper then the center of Bordeaux and can be a great option if you’re on a budget. However, to still feel like you’re close to the city center, search for a hotel or apartment close to Tram A. This line will take you through Pont Pierre to Hotel du Ville in just a few minutes ride.
Bacalan – The grungy area of Bordeaux
Neighboring Chartrons from the north is the Bacalan district, located about 30 minutes walk from the center of Bordeaux. They are a far not only in their geographical distance but also in their landscape. The Bacalan neighborhood is built around the port of Bordeaux and has a very grungy look to it as opposed to the classic city center. In recent years, the city of Bordeaux has been transforming this neighborhood into one of the most interesting areas in the city. Apart from the magnificent Cité du Vin, it also houses some of the best music venues and has a thriving street art scene. If you chose to stay in this area, be sure to stay in the Southern part (close to the Chartrons district) and as close as possible to the tramline (Tram B) that will take you to the city center in a few minutes.
If you want to learn more about things to do in the Bacalan neighborhood, click here.
Gare Saint Jean – next to the train station
Saint Jean isn’t one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Bordeaux and in some parts can be a bit shady. However, if you need to catch a train early in the morning staying there can be quite practical. And it’s also much more affordable than the center of Bordeaux, which you can easily reach with the Tram Line C. There are some nice hotels on the way from the train station to the riverfront (the quai) and, generally speaking, this is the nicer part around Gare Saint Jean. Also, Quai des Paludate is home to some of Bordeaux’s night clubs and to the new Boca food market. Gradually and with a lot of investment from the city of Bordeaux, this area is becoming more popular and the stay can indeed be quite nice.
One of the most family friendly neighborhoods in Bordeaux is Saint Augustin. It’s a small quiet neighborhood, located about 20 min (by tram) from the city center and a walking distance from two beautiful parks in Bordeaux, Parc bourran and Parc Bordelais. The neighborhood has a little center with a few restaurants and a weekly market.
Saint Genes and Nansouty
South to the center, you can find Saint Genes and Nansouty. These are two quiet neighborhoods bordering Place de la Victoire from the South. There isn’t much to do here but it’s only about a 15 minutes walk from the center and it’s conveniently placed on the tram line B that takes you to all the main spots in Bordeaux.
The Bordeaux Lac district is located in the north, quite far from the center of Bordeaux. Apart from cheaper rates, its main advantage is being close to the parc des expositions, where many of Bordeaux’s fairs and salons take place. So if you come to Bordeaux for a conference this will be a good option for you. Also, if the shopping in the city center was not enough, Bordeaux Lac has one of the biggest shopping centers in the region.
As its name suggests, the neighborhood has a big lake with a popular beach that is open to the public during the summer. You can reach the exhibition park, the shopping center and the beach by line C from the center of Bordeaux.
I hope this article covers everything you need to know about the different neighborhoods you can stay in when visiting Bordeaux. If you need more specific recommendations, check out my post about the best hotels in the city center.
For many years Bordeaux was considered a bit of a shady town, where you would stop by on your way to the wine regions in the south of France. In the last decade however, Bordeaux has gone through a massive makeover, making tourism its highest priority and becoming one of the most beautiful and interesting destination in Europe. With it’s 362 historic monuments (second only to Paris), an extraordinary gastronomic scene and a vibrant city life, it’s no wonder this beautiful town was named theEuropean Best destination in 2015.
There are plenty of articles, suggesting lists of things to do in Bordeaux. However my objective for creating yet another one was to offer you a detailed step by step guide to all the must see things in the city from a local’s perspective.This article is primarily meant for first time visitors in Bordeaux and can be done in 2-3 days if you’re in shape 🙂
If it isn’t your first time in Bordeaux you’ve probably visited most of the things in the list, but Bordeaux is beautiful enough to see it twice and you might have missed some of the items mentioned here. I still enjoy revisiting these sites when making tours with my guests.
Although this guide proposes a specific route to follow, feel free to take whatever you want from the list and adopt it to your style of travelling. You can switch the order of places you’re planning to visit but pay attention to things that are taking place only on Saturdays or Sundays. This list is quite dense so if you come for more than two days, feel free to reduce the pace and take some time to visit the city more calmly, enjoy its cafés and the general atmosphere.
One last thing before we dive in. If you’re looking for a hotel to stay in during your visit here, check out my post about the best places to stay in Bordeaux. I’ve included some beautiful boutique hotels and several more affordable ones.
Place de la Victoire
Start your day from Place de la Victoire, an impressive square which is recognized by the 18th century arc and the marble obelisk at its center. The square, located at the southern part of central Bordeaux, connects some of the biggest streets in the city, among them the popular Sainte Catherine street. It’s proximity to the busiest street in the city, the University campus and the numerous cafes and bars on and round the square creates a very happy and busy vibe. I wouldn’t necessarily put this place on my “5 top things to see in Bordeaux” list, but this beautiful arc is a very good place to start your Bordeaux tour with due to t’s central location.
If you don’t have much time in the Bordeaux and you really want to see only the main sights of the city you can skip to number 4 where I lead you to the center and more chic part of Bordeaux. But if you want to taste the local vibe, continue with me to number 2 on our list.
Marché des Capucins
If it’s not too early in the morning for starting your gastronomic experience in Bordeaux, I highly recommend going to Marché des Capucins. This is the biggest daily market in Bordeaux and has everything from stands of fruits and vegetables, sweets, spices and a bunch of lively cafés and restaurants. It’s a covered market so you can enjoy it on the city’s numerous rainy days. Most cafes and restaurants also have tables outside where you can have a coffee or an early lunch. During the weekend, the market is packed with locals, who gather to eat oysters accompanied by white wine. Be sure to come early to be able to catch a table.
Before you go, be sure to check out my article about the best places to eat at the Marché des Capucins. The market is open from Tuesday to Sunday, however, be aware that not all the restaurants and stands are open on Tuesday and Wednesday.
If you need help in discovering the market, I offer a market tour where you will taste and get familiar with the flavors of the southwest of France. So if you’re into starting your day with a foodie experience check out my food tours page.
Now after opening the morning at the market we can start touring Bordeaux and admire its beautiful architecture. If you followed my advice and went to the market, your next destination should be Saint Michel. From Place des Capucins continue to rue Clare which will bring you to the heart of the Saint Michel neighborhood. As I said before, if you don’t have much time you can skip it and go straight to number 4. but from my experience even a short tour in Saint Michel is quite worth it.
Discover the Saint Michel neighborhood
Until quite recently Saint Michel was not the most welcoming place and was quite ignored by the tourists arriving to Bordeaux. In recent years a younger population moved to the neighborhood and gave it a second life. Today the interesting mix of chic cafes and shops of immigrants makes it a great authentic place.
There are many things to do and see in this area and if you have more than two days and would like to spend some time in Saint Michel, check out mydetailed guide to Saint Michel. If, however you are short in time and just want the “best of”, this is what I suggest:
The Basilica of Saint Michel – classified as a world heritage of UNESCO in 1998 stands at the heart of this lively neighborhood. It is located on the main square, Place Meynard, surrounded by plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars.
la Flèche Saint-Michel – Just next to the basilica you’ll find the Saint Michel bell tower, one of the main monuments of the city. I highly recommend climbing it to see a magnificent view of Bordeaux.
The market on Saturday – Every Saturday there’s a local market around the Basilica. Even if you don’t need to buy anything I’d still recommend going there on a Saturday morning just for the atmosphere
Antiques – if you love antiques markets, whether it’s to buy or just to have a look, you’re at the right place. This neighborhood have several antique places that are open daily. Check out my guide to Saint Michel for a detailed list with addresses.
From here we will be entering the historic center of Bordeaux- Follow me 🙂
From Place Meynard take rue des Faures to get to one of the main streets in the center of Bordeaux (rue Victor Hugo), which will lead you from the Saint Michel neighborhood to the Quartier de la Grosse Cloche (see the beautiful gate on your right). The charming paved streets of this small neighborhood will definitely leave their charm on you. This area is full of chic cafés and boutiques and is one of the most popular places among the locals. The Grosse Cloche, a bell tower through which you’ll enter the neighborhood is one of the most prominent symbols of Bordeaux and was used to be the gateway to the city (and at some point functioned as a prison).
Rue Saint James
The first street you encounter when entering through the Grosse Cloche is Rue Saint James. This is one of the most charming streets in the neighborhood, with beautiful coffee shops (such as books and coffee with its elegant decor and beautiful cakes) chic boutiques and specialized shops. Take some time to discover this street as well as the lovely narrow streets around it.
Continue on the street until you get to Place Fernand Lafargue. A long time ago this square used to be the city’s market and today it’s one of the best spots for a nice Lunch. The square and the emerging streets are a real food hub with plenty of cafes, bars and a variety of restaurants from hamburgers to Sushi and Ramen soup.
Few of my recommendations are: Apollo bar for a drink, Un chateau un ville for a glass of wine, Frida restaurant for a brunch on a nice terrace, Kokomo for a great hamburger and Piha for a great coffee.
After you finish strolling around the Grosse Cloche continue on Cours d’Alsace et Laurent until you get to rue Sainte Catherine.
Shop on rue Sainte-Catherine
This is the longest pedestrian street in France, full of clothing boutiques and one of the only places in the center where you can find all the main clothing retail stores. If you followed my list you would have entered the street somewhere in the middle of it. If you go left, in the direction of Place de la Vicoire you will mostly find cheap clothing shops and a huge variety of fast food. If you fancy a great naan kebab, this is the street for you (and yes, it’s a thing in Bordeaux). If you choose to go right, you will find all the big chains such as Mango, H&M, Fnac as well as the best canelé (a Bordelais pastry) in Bordeaux -La Toque Cuivrée. When you finish your shopping go back to Place Saint Projet and through rue des Trois Colis continue to the main cathedral of Bordeaux on Place Pey Berland.
Place Pey Berland
Place Pey Perland is one of the most central places in Bordeaux and the home to the town hall and one of the biggest Cathedrals in Bordeaux. Located very close to two of the main museums of the city (see item #7 on the list for details), Pay Berland is also full with great coffee shops and restaurants.
Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux
The big Cathedral on the main square of Pey Berland is a Roman Catholic church, the seat of the Archbishop of Bordeaux and is labaled as a national monument of France. In the evening the Cathedral often hosts concerts of classical music, choirs and an organ festival during the summer. You can check out more info about the concerts here.
Tour Pey Berland
Just next to the Cathedral you’ll find its 15th century bell tower – la Tour Pey Berland. On the top of the tower you can see the statue of Notre-Dame d’Aquitaine rising to the height of 66 m and three bells which are still operating today as the bells of the Cathedrale. A “short” climb of 231 stairs of the tower will take you to one of the best views of the city. A ticket to the bell tower is 6 euros and free to people below 26 years old. I recommend climbing it only if the weather is good, otherwise you won’t see much.
Opening hours: June – September 10:00 – 13:15 and 14:00-18:00/ October to may 10:00 – 12:30 and 14:00-17:30.
Follow the tram line to discover two of the most interesting streets of the Pay Berland neighborhood
From Place Pey Berland continue on rue Vital Carles, alongside the tram B line which goes through the main spots of the center of Bordeaux. One of the most noticeable things on this street is ,LibrairieMollat, a Bordelais establishment since 1896 which is the first independent book store in France. Apart from the huge literature selection, the bookshop ads to its charm by having employees write little notes on the books they recommend, making it an intimate shopping experience. Another point worth mentioning is Porte dijeaux, which you will see on your left. This pretty arc is another gate to the historic center of Bordeaux and has been classified as an historic monument in 1921.
There are three museums in this neighborhood, which are nice if you have a lot of time to spend in Bordeaux, but I wouldn’t put them on my priority list when coming only for a weekend. Nevertheless, if you must visit a museum during your visit or it’s raining outside and you need a getaway, here they are:
Musée des Beaux-Arts: is the fine-art museum of Bordeaux and one of the largest art galleries in France outside Paris.
20 Cours d’Albret, 33000 Bordeaux
Museum of Decorative Arts of Bordeaux – installed in a beautiful chateau, the museum is a home to collections of furniture, ceramics and many other objects dated from the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum also has a nice outdoor coffee place in the beautiful courtyard of the building
39 Rue Bouffard, 33000 Bordeaux
Musée d’Aquitaine – If you want to learn about the history and archaeology of Bordeaux and its region (Nouvelle-Aquitaine), this is your best source.
20 Cours Pasteur, 33000 Bordeaux
If you skipped the museums continue walking on Vital Carles street and be ready for a beautiful surprise. At the end of the street you will turn right to one of the most impressive streets of Bordeaux Cours de l’independance. This is a wide street which really conveys the feeling of Bordeaux – historic, beautiful and very calm- just stand there and take a breath for a second. Continue on Cours de l’independance until you get to Place de la Comedie
The beautiful 18th century building on Place de la Comedie will be hard to miss. This is one of the most impressive buildings in the city and is home to the National Opera of Bordeaux. If you have the chance, try to book tickets to one of the concerts of the Opera or the national ballet. If you didn’t have a chance to see a concert you can still have a tour inside this impressive building (the tour is in French). The tours take place every Wednesday and Saturday at 14:30 – 16:00 – 17:30 costing 6 € (free under 26 years old). There are no tours during the summer period.
Have a fancy meal
If you want to have a fancy meal while in Bordeaux, Place de la Comedie and its surrounding streets is one the main spots for fine dining in Bordeaux. My favorite restaurant, when I’m in a bit of a luxury mood is le Quatrième Mur, which has a lunch menu of 35 € (relative to the quality of the restaurant and the popularity of the chef this price is quite low). The restaurant is located inside the Opera of Bordeaux complete with all its lavish decor.
Place des Quinconces
Next on our list is Place des Quinconces, the largest city square in France and one of the biggest ones in Europe. On one of the sides of this enormous square you will find the beautiful monument dedicated to the Girondins (members of a political faction) who were killed during the French Revolution. Throughout the year the square hosts many different events, festivals and fairs such as the Brocante de Quinconces. I tend to write a lot about the events that take place on Place des Quinconces so be sure to check out my monthly and weekly updates about things to do in Bordeaux for up to date recommendations.
If you’ve been following my guide so far, you’ve probably walked quite bit. This would be the perfect time for a rest in one of Bordeaux’s most beautiful green spots. From Place des Quinconces continue to Cours du Marechal Foch until you get to Jardin Public.
Do a picnic in Jardin Public
Jardin Public is the largest park in the center of Bordeaux with more than 300 trees and vast green planes – a perfect place for a picnic in the park. Besides being visually stunning, it has a large pond (with ducks and geeses!), great favilities for kids and even a nice and coffee place. If you’re traveling with kids, it’s really worth visiting the new Natural history museum that is situated in the park.
Now back to the city and to the last location on the first day of discovering Bordeaux – the Chartrons neighborhood. Leave the park from Cours Xavier Arnozan and continue towards the Garonne river. Turn left on rue Notre Dame to enter the Chartrons neighborhood, but before doing so, on your right you’ll see the CAPC, which is the Contemporary art museum of Bordeaux. This beautiful building was previously used as a warehouse for colonial foodstuffs and today is the house of contemporary art in Bordeaux, curating many exhibitions. Now turn left on rue Notre Dame to enter our next destination.
Visit the northern chic district of Bordeaux – Les Chartrons
Although it’s not part of the center of Bordeaux, this northern district is a popular place with a high concentration of fashionable boutiques, antique stores and restaurants, most of which are located on the main street – rue Notre Dame. At one point on your left you will see Eglise Saint-Louis des Chartrons, a 19th century Neo-Gothic church.
Turn left straight after the church to get to the heart of the neighborhood- Halle des Chartrons. There are plenty of restaurants around the central square, mostly French and Italian, most offer good lunch menus. The Halle des Chartrons in the center of the square often hosts activities and exhibitions, so check it out.
Start the day at Place du Palais Station (Tram A) to enter the Saint Pierre Neighborhood.
Enjoy the squares of Saint Pierre neighborhood
This neighborhood is the touristic heart of Bordeaux. There aren’t any major monuments to see in this part of town but the little narrow paved streets and the beautiful lively squares are what makes it one of the more pleasant places in Bordeaux. I’ll mention some of the best things to do in this neighborhood, but I really recommend to just take a few hours to get lost in the beautiful little streets and get a feel of historic Bordeaux.
From Cours d’Alsace et Lorraine turn left to place du Palais. This is the first of many squares you’ll see while touring the neighborhood and probably the most special one. The magnificent Porte Cailhau, a monument that looks like it has been taken from a fairy tale cannot be missed. This gate was built in 1495 to commemorate the glory of king Charles VIII. On the square itself you’ll find a few nice cafes and restaurants that have an incredible view on Porte Cailhau. For a light lunch try La Cagette restaurant.
There are three other squares worth mentioning in this neighborhood, all of which are beautiful and full of nice cafes with tables outside for sunny days. Each and every one of them is quite unique and worth a visit, but if you don’t have much time don’t feel obligated to visit all the squares.
Place Camille Julian
One of the busiest squares in towns and one of the rare places where you can find food quite late at night. The most interesting thing to see on the square is Utopia, a church turned into a cinema with a varied program of both blockbuster movies and small independent films.
Place Saint Peirre
Place Saint Peirre is not that interesting by itself but what makes it special is the Gothic Flamboyant styled Saint Pierre church. This church was previously the main praying temple of the craftsmen and traders living in the area and today is classified as an historic monument.
Place du Parlement
Another beautiful square in this lovely neighborhood is Place du Parlement, which was classified as an historic monument in 1952. This is yet another spot with many cafés with tables outside which are perfect for a sunny Bordelaise day. This square is located just a few steps from one of the biggest and most special squares of Bordeaux – Place de la Bourse.
From Place du Parlement continue to rue Fernand Philippart to Place de la Bourse which is facing one of the most popular attractions in Bordeaux – le Miroir d’eau! This modern monument, built in 2006, is the world’s largest reflecting pool. located on the quay of the Garonne river. The surface is made from blue granite covered in water reflecting the 18th century Place de la Bourse.
During the summer months the system of le miroir d’eau operates in cycles of 15 minutes creating a shallow pool where you can wet your feet and a fog at the end of the cycle when the water is coming down. The sight of little kids running in the water creates one of the most beautiful and photogenic moments that you can experience in Bordeaux.
Take a walk on the quai (promenade)
The promenade on the board of the Garonne is one of Bordeaux’s highlights. In recent years, since the renovation of the area, the quai became one of the city’s most central spots, hosting many events and festivals during the summer. The 4.5 km promenade is also perfect for a walk or a bicycle tour. The most interesting part of it is between the two bridges of Bordeaux – Pont Saint Pierre in the center and Pont Chaban Delmas in the north of the city, which includes the miroir d’eau as well as big playgrounds for kids, restaurants with a view on the river and the Chartrons Market, which is our next stop.
Shop and dine at the Chartrons market
Every Sunday morning dozens of food stalls with the best oysters of the region, fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, fish and plenty of food trucks are installed on the Quai de Cahrtrons. The market is usually quite busy with both locals and tourists, especially if you come towards noon, but it’s still worth the visit. Besides the local products you can buy at the market it’s simply a very nice spot to have an early lunch. For many visitors, the main attraction are the few stalls with oysters which cost around 6 euros a dozen and come with a glass of white wine, this plate kind of embodies life in the region 🙂
Pont Chaban Delmas
Pont Chaban Delmas is a modern bridge, named after the previous mayor of the city which was inaugurated in 2013. It’s the longest vertical-lift bridge in Europe and seeing it elevating to let the tall ships pass is a very impressive sight. On the way there you will pass by several hangars that were turned into restaurants, boutiques and a fantastic science museum for kids (Cap Sciences).
18. Cite du vin
What comes after the bridge is hard to miss. The cité du vin is a “must” place for any wine lover and can also be very interesting and enjoyable for people who don’t drink at all. This extraordinary building is the wine museum of Bordeaux, a one of a kind cultural center, all dedicated to discovering the wine world. Through its interactive exhibition, It offers a journey to both French and global wine history. You will learn about wine making, see movies and interviews with wine producers and then smell and taste wine. The cite du vin allows you to discover a selection of wines from all over the world in its spectacular wine shop and to see the best panoramic view of Bordeaux.
This covered market is new in Bordeaux (Opened in November 2017). It’s not a must visit place if you’re short on time but it’s a great place for drinks with friends and a nice way to discover part of the Bacalan neighborhood. This impressive 950m2 hangar is located just in front of the famous Cité du vin and hosts 23 different artisans and traders that were chosen for the quality of their products (85% of which are produced in the South-West region of France).
Take a boat to the other side of the Garonne
Now it’s time to discover the other side of the Garonne river – the Bastide neighborhood. To do that you can either cross the bridge (it’s a very nice walk but will take some time) or take a boat. Since 2013 the public transport system in Bordeaux has introduced a ferry (navette fluviale) that will cross you over to the other side. The ferry that operates from 7am to 7pm, stops at five stations: Stalingrad, Quinconces, les Hangars, La Cité du Vin and Lormont. If you followed my guide up to now, take the navette at La Cité du Vin and get down at Stalingrad (on the other side of the river).
Arriving from Place de Stalingrad your first stop would be Jardin Botanique de Bordeaux, a beautiful little park that can be a great spot for a pause. Jardin Botanique was created to allow the wide public to discover the world of plants, biodiversity and sustainability. If you’re not really interested in plants and have no need for a break continue straight to Darwin which is located a few minutes walk from the park.
Darwin is probably one of the most surprising places in Bordeaux. An old military base turned into an urban space with a work space/incubator for startups, a skate park for all ages, a restaurant and many other surprises, all with an agenda of ecological awareness. Whether alone or with kids you can spend hours in Darwin. One of the buildings hosts the restaurant and the Darwin products store with a huge selection of different bio products from pastry to beer and even soap. Also, Darwin is one of the most extraordinary places for street art and includes some amazing works by a lot of talented artists on every one of its buildings. They host many cool events so don’t be surprised if suddenly you see an artisan market or a collection of old cars on display.
This is the end of our weekend journey in Bordeaux! Before I leave you, here are some useful links:
Useful links and info
Bordeaux expats blog is great if you need more info about the tram system as well as recommendations on restaurants and other interesting places given by expats who live in Bordeaux.
The site of the tourist office in Bordeaux have loads of information about all the points of interest in the city as well as about most of the main events, although not all in English unfortunately. They also offer a lot of tours in and around Bordeaux – so check it outhere.
The official site of Bordeaux offers a lot of interesting info about the places you will see (in French)- read ithere.
I’m sure that by now, like many people coming for a visit, you have fallen in love with Bordeaux. I hope you’ve been able to see most of the places I’ve suggested, and if not then you should definitely come back as there are plenty of other things to do in and around Bordeaux. If you only have one day, these are the sites I consider “the must see”: Grosse Cloche, Cathédrale Saint-André, The Opera building and Miroir d’eau.
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Bordeaux attracts many tourists coming for the wine, fine dining and beautiful architecture. But many are unaware that it’s also a family-friendly city with plenty of things to do with kids. Beautiful gardens, adventure parks, climbing, biking and even discovering the wine world, the Bordeaux area has it all. In this list, I gathered 30 things you can do in Bordeaux and its surroundings with both small and big kids. This is a long list of ideas for both tourists and locals and is meant to be exhaustive, a kind of reference to keep for the future. It includes both outdoor and indoor activities (for those rainy days), both calm and active, in both Bordeaux and its surroundings. I hope it will give you some ideas you didn’t think about! Let’s dig in!
Things to do with kids in Bordeaux center
Splash in the Miroir d’eau
The biggest water mirror in the world is one of the best things to do with kids when the temperatures rise in Bordeaux. Every 15 minutes the water rises and creates a very shallow pool where kids can run and splash in the water. When tired you can have a picnic at the little garden right next to it.
Eat in a kids friendly restaurant
Bordeaux is the city of restaurants but we all know how exhausting it can be with kids. That’s why you must have a list of a few good kids friendly restaurants you can go to when you start recognizing those kids hunger tantrums :). Here are a few kids friendly restaurants in Bordeaux: Osteria pizzeria de bartolo and It for Italian food, Santosha next to the Grosse Cloche for Thai food, Kokomo for hamburgers, Horace and Cofete B for coffee and cake and a light lunch, Mama Shelter for a more chic experience.
Cap Sciences is a kids science museum and one of the most fun and educative places in Bordeaux. The museum proposes interactive exhibitions and activities all dedicated to different aspects of science. Another interesting feature of the museum is the kids’ workshops arranged by different age groups. Among them you can find photography, molecular cooking, eco-citizens and more. For more details click here. Where: Hangar 20, Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux
Take a scooter or bicycle and go to the quai
One of the main accomplishments of Bordeaux’s makeover in the last decade is the beautiful new dock on the left bank of the Garonne river. A pedestrian only 4.5 km quais stretches out between Gare Saint Jean and Bassin a flot in the north of the city. When it’s sunny outside you can see plenty of families with bikes, scooters or skates riding the paths. You also have an amazing view of the river on one side and the beautiful architecture of Bordeaux on the other. If you don’t have bicycles you can take the (almost) free city bike, all you need is a credit card. Check out all the station in Bordeaux here.
Puppet show in the parc
Le Guignol Guérin, founded in 1853, is the oldest puppetry show in France which holds daily spectacles for kids in the Parc Bordelais during the summer (July and August). The show usually starts at 16:00 but can be cancelled or postponed when it’s raining or getting too hot. Read more about the theater here. Where: Rue du Bocage, 33000 Bordeaux
Picnic in the park (Jardin public and many others)
A picnic in the park is one of the easiest ways to spend some time outside with your kids. You can enjoy your bottle of rosé while they run around the park. When in Bordeaux, many people head straight to Jardin Public, and while it’s a beautiful park, it’s far from being the only green spot in the city. To help you get familiar with the green parts of the city, I gathered a list of the best places to have a picnic in Bordeaux, which include both big parks and little gardens and some necessary playgrounds – click here to read the post.
Take the little train to tour the city
If you want to discover Bordeaux in a fun way, take the little train which departs from the tourists’ office. This 45 minutes tour passes by the main sites of the historic city like place des Quinconces and Place de la Bourse (with Scripted commentaries available in 8 languages). The train leaves every two hours from the Tourist information office, where you also buy the tickets. For more details and tickets click here.
Natural History Museum
After years of renovations the museum of natural history of Bordeaux has finally opened its doors on March 2019. Created in 1971, the museum has one of the biggest collections in France with more than a million specimens. Besides the new design and the incredible collection, one of the new features in the renovated museum is the “Early Years Museum” for kids under 6 years old. Where: 5 Place Bardineau, 33000 Bordeaux
Go to the pool
There are several kids friendly pools in Bordeaux metropole, two of them are not very far from the city center. Next to the Meriadeck, you’ll find the piscine Judaique located in a beautiful art deco building. A bit farther from the center is Piscine du Grand Parc. Both are very kids friendly with facilities like kids pool, water slides, floats and more.
Go ice skating at the meriadeck
La Patinoire de Mériadeck is a sports complex in Bordeaux center that hosts hockey games as well as many different concerts. However, several days a week the place is open to the public and you can come with your family and enjoy ice skating in this huge arena. As the Patinoire hosts many different events during the year, it’s opening hours might change from time to time, so before heading there with your kids, check out the schedule. It is usually closed during the summer vacation. Where: 95 Cours Maréchal Juin, 33000 Bordeaux
Artistic workshop in institut Bernard Magrez
Institut Bernard Magrez is one of the best places in the city for art lovers. They present beautiful street art exhibitions several times a year and frequently hold kids creative workshops around the theme of the exhibition. To be updated on their future workshops follow them on facebook. Where: 16 Rue de Tivoli, 33000 Bordeaux
Surfing in a coffee place
This is a super cool activity for kids (over 8 yo). The Wave Surf Café is the first indoor cafe where you can surf! The Big artificial wave in the middle of the coffee shop imitates the ocean waves and allows you to feel like a professional surfer in the city center :). It’s a nice experience for kids who don’t live next to the sea and don’t have the opportunity to surf. For more details click here. Where: 174 Cours du Médoc, 33300 Bordeaux
Go rollerblading with the whole family
Kids love rollerblades so if you’re looking for a fun family time, why not do it with them? You can join the Airroller club association that organizes a big family ride once a month. You don’t have to be a member to join the ride, but if you do, you can enjoy skating lessons adapted to all levels and ages. For more info about the activities of the association click here.
There are two great options for kids who like to skate. One is the skatepark on Quai des Chartrons which is a great facility. For those heading to the Sunday market on the quai, that would be a great break for the kids. If you need a change of scenery from the center of Bordeaux, cross the river to Darwin. It’s a super cool urban space that has a skateboard park made from recycled materials and a special cultural landscape of street art and electronic music. This is a good option for rainy days. Where: 87 Quai des Queyries, 33100 Bordeaux
Shopping in one of the malls
Who doesn’t love shopping, right? Well I personally don’t but I know that quite a lot of teenagers see it as legitimate site seeing in the city. So where do we shop in Bordeaux? The main shopping street is rue Sainte Catherine, the longest pedestrian street in France. Very close to it you have the Meriadeck which is the only shopping center in the city center. But if you’re looking for bigger malls, with plenty of clothing retailers, you’ll have to go a bit further to the shopping centers in the surrounding towns such as Rives d’Arcins in Begles, Aushopping in Bordeaux lac or Mérignac Soleil.
Spend time at the main library
If your kids are interested in books, the Bibliothèque in Mériadeck has a library for kids between 0 and 13 years old. The place includes novels, comics, manga, music, movies and even a coloring space for the little ones. Apart from books the Meriadeck library also hosts different events such as little shows for kids, story time and video games in groups. Where: 85 Cours Maréchal Juin, 33000 Bordeaux
Things to do with kids in Bordeaux – outside the city center
Go to a kids cinema
It’s not always easy to find movies for little kids, so I was happy to find a cinema fully dedicated to mini me’s. The cinéma Le Festival in Begles specializes in animation movies and special effects. Plenty of animated movies and cartoons, accessible to kids over 3 years old are screened every day. Check out their website for all the details and the program. Where: 151 Boulevard Albert 1er, 33130 Bègles
Go to the beach at Bordeaux Lac
The beach is the perfect summer spot for kids and if you’re in Bordeaux you don’t have to go very far for it. The cute beach of Bordeaux Lac has everything you need: a sandy clean beach with beautiful clear and calm water and a lot of shade from the nearby trees for those who don’t really like the sun. The beach is open to the public daily from June 1st to August 31 and starting July 1st it offers water and beach activities such as sailing, kayaking, mini-golf and more. Check out the list of daily activities here.
When you really need your kids to let off some steam the best place to go is a soft play and there are several of those in Bordeaux: Yopi park Royal kids in Pessac, Happy park in Begles and Kidooland in Bordeaux Lac where you can actually have lunch while someone is watching your kids.
Kfe des familles – Café associative
Kfe des Familles is a cute associative café that allows parents to spend time with their kids while also enjoying a coffee or lunch. Besides a nice little restaurant, the place has a room for kids’ workshops as well as a space for the little ones, where they can play accompanied by their parents. The cafe organizes plenty of activities and events throughout the year. For more info click here. Where: 46 rue de New-York 33300 Bordeaux
Ferme urbaine des Iris
The Iris animal farm in Lormont is a magical place that allows you to spend a fun day with your kids in nature. In the farm your curious kids can learn about animals and feed them. They have a big variety of animals, among them rabbits, donkeys, and goats. The farm is closed for groups on school vacations. For more info click here. Where: 8 Rue Sourbes, 33310 Lormont
Discover the city on a canoe
The Bordeaux Canoe company offers you a fantastic tour on a canoe or a SUP. During the two hours tour you will discover the wild islands on the Garonne river, the traditional cabane on the riverbanks, and the river’s history. The starting point of the tour changes according to the flow of the river. The tour is adapted to kids over 10 years old on the Canoe and 14 on the SUP. For more info click here. Where: 21 Parc d’Activités des Queyries, 33100 Bordeaux
Indoor climbing has become extremely popular in Bordeaux and there are numerous facilities where you can do that with kids. These are the climbing centers in or close to Bordeaux: Arkose, Block’out Roc’ Altitude and the newest one – Climb up.
Adventure park in Talence
The Loisirs et Aventures company runs an adventure park in Bois de Thouars in Talence where kids can practice treetop walking. The company offers six courses for different ages, starting from 4 years old. The adventure park is open on Wednesdays and during the weekend from April to October and every day on July and August. For more details click here. Where: Bois de Thouars, Avenue de la Marne – 33400 Talence
Go to the zoo
The zoo of Bordeaux, which is actually located in Pessac, is a beautiful family friendly place. It allows you to discover more than 250 different animals from monkeys to giraffes and white tigers. The zoo organizes plenty of events for kids throughout the year. For more details click here. Where: 3 Rue du Transvaal, 33600 Pessac
A bit farther – things to do around Bordeaux
Discover contemporary art in the forest
How about combining nature with art? One of the best ways to discover the massive forest of Landes de Gascogne in the south of Gironde is by following the map of la foret d’art contemporain. This is a cool project that aims to promote contemporary art by placing it in different spots in the forest. Around 20 different pieces of art were placed in all parts of the forest, usually close to one of the smaller towns, to allow you to discover the more rural parts of Gironde. Follow the map of the project – here.
La Ferme Exotique
La Ferme Exotique is a charming animal farm located in Cadaujac, about 20 minutes from Bordeaux. There are almost 1000 animals in the farm, coming from all over the world and in all sizes. It’s a unique experience as they allow kids to really connect with the animals and even help feed some of them. For more details click here. Where: Domaine de la Roussie, 1932 Chemin du Port de l’Esquillot, 33140 Cadaujac
The inflatable water park in Biscarrosse
Bordeaux is just one hour away from the biggest inflatable water park in the world! The AquaPark is equipped with water ziplines, several diving boards of different heights, trampolines, catapults, climbing walls, slides and more. The park is accessible to kids over 4 years old. For more details and tickets click here. Where: Port Maguide, 18 Chemin de Maguide, 40600 Biscarrosse
Take the kids to an amusement park
Parc de la coccinelle is an amusement park in Gujan-Mestras, on the Bassin d’Arcachon. This park is a perfect day out that your kids will definitely enjoy. It has everything from water slides, roller coasters, trampolines and even an animal farm where you can feed baby goats. It’s open from April to the beginning of November, however, it’s not open every week, so check out the schedule before going. For more info click here. If you need more ideas on what to do with kids when going to Arcachon, check out my post about day trips from Bordeaux. Where: Parc de loisirs, La Hume, 33470 Gujan-Mestras
Route du vin with kids
Coming to Bordeaux with kids doesn’t mean you can’t discover the incredible wine of this region. Children are welcomed to many Bordeaux wine estates (wine chateaux) but some of them organize activities that will make it a super kids friendly visit. Chateau d’Agassac has a treasure hunt game. Château Gruaud Larose has a special path for families in the vineyards and Chateau Kirwan organized a gouter (a snack) for kids every Wednesday.
If you need ideas for what to do with kids when it’s raining in Bordeaux, click here. Apart from that list I constantly update about kids friendly events and activities taking place every weekend, so follow the blog for more update. And don’t forget to join me on my weekly newsletter where I share plenty of recommendations on where to go and what to do in and around Bordeaux – click here to subscribe.