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Ira Szmuk

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I started writing this article mostly for myself about a week before the end of confinement. I wanted to come up with a long enough list of places I could go to with my kids or even alone (if that’s ever possible) where we can enjoy the wonders of the region but still keep social distancing. (If you’re reading this in 2050, we were all locked in our houses for two months, just google COVID-19). Gironde is one of the most beautiful departments in France and actually the largest one as well, so within the permitted 100 km radius you can find an overwhelming amount of hiking options. You can discover the parks and lakes around Bordeaux metropole or combine your trips with some heritage in Entre Deux Mers, or the vineyards of Saint Emilion. There are long hiking trails for fit walkers and shorter ones for families with kids. I had so many ideas that I just had to come here and share them with you. I included hiking trails from every part of Gironde to give a big landscape variety. There are of course plenty of other options for hiking around Bordeaux and I will slowly update this list with more trails so bookmark this page and come back whenever you’re in a mood for a walk. I also publish quite a lot of my daily trips on social media so you are of course invited to follow me on Facebook/Instagram. Now let’s start! 

Hiking in Bordeaux Metropole

Let’s start with destinations closer to Bordeaux and its suburbs. There are dozens of big and small parks in the metropole that can be perfect for a nice and easy hike, so you don’t even need a car to be able to enjoy the green areas of Bordeaux. The ones I particularly love are Parc de l’Ermitage in Lormont, Parc Majolan in Blanquefort, and Parc Bordelais in Bordeaux. There are of course many more green and lush places in the city and I’m working on an article with the full list which will be published soon. But for now, I wanted to introduce you to a few great hiking trails in Bordeaux Metropole through which you can discover the towns and forests surrounding the city. 

Parc Majolan

Au fil de l’eau bourde – From Talence to Gradignan

I live in Talence so the first one on the list is close to my home, a 5km trail through some of the green areas of Talence and Gradigan. It’s important to mention though that while most of your hike is going to be accompanied by green scenery, this is not a classic nature trail, meaning that you will have to walk through some urban areas to get from one location to another. Having said that, it’s a beautiful path and you will be surprised by some of the parks and monuments located on the footsteps of Bordeaux.

 Parc du Moulineau in Gradignan

The starting point is Bois de Thouars, a forest located on the border of Talence and Gradignan (it’s recommended to enter the forest from Avenue de Thouars in Talence). Don’t be in a rush here, take your time strolling around the lake, it feels more unspoiled here than many of the other lakes in the area. From this point, you can follow the markup of GR® métropolitain throughout the entire route. But just to make sure you’re in the right direction, here are a few interesting points you should check on the way. From the forest cross the bridge of the rocade (highway) to get to Gradignan (you should reach rue de Bénédigues in Gradignan). After a few more minutes walking, you’ll be on rue Saint-François-Xavier and will enter a green area that follows the Eau Bourde, a little stream of the Garonne river. Your second destination on the trail is Parc de Pelissey in Gradignan. From there continue along the Eau Bourde to enter one of the biggest parks in this town – le Parc du Moulineau. This park is a gem for kids. Not only can they enjoy a big playground but it’s also home to the Maison de la Nature that inhabits nearly 50 different animal species from rabbits to the black and white goat of the Pyrénées. The animal park is unfortunately still closed due to Covid 19, but that should not bother you to enjoy the vast green Parc du Moulineau (or Le parc René Canivenc by its other name).

When you leave le Parc du Moulineau continue along the stream to get to Parc Mandavit. From here you will continue to the last destination of this trail – le Parc de Cayac, a historic monument on the Saint-Jacques de Compostelle pilgrimage road. From here you can take bus line number 10 to get back to the Thouars forest.
There’s also an option to continue to another 9 km hike through Gradignan. You can find more info about this and other hiking trails in the Metropole here

Réserve écologique des Barails

If you prefer to forget that cars exist for a couple of hours, this next trail is for you!  I’m happy to introduce you to the Réserve écologique des Barails, a beautiful natural reserve spreading over 156 hectares which also includes the beautiful Parc Floral of Bordeaux. Located in the North of Bordeaux (the Bordeaux Lac district), it’s actually the biggest green space in Bordeaux. The reserve consists of different parts each with their own characteristic: the forest, the park, the meadows, the wetlands, and the ecological corridors. It’s so rich with nature that most visitors don’t cover it in one visit. 

Réserve écologique des Barails

There are three entries to the park. If you enter through Entree bois you’ll have the pleasure to discover more than 6km of hiking trails in the beautiful green forest. Enter the entree roseraie (next to the Golf de Lac) and you can enjoy a beautiful flower park with more than 500 varieties of roses.  The reserve is also perfect for an easy stroll with kids and in fact, it was the first place I took mine after the deconfinement. Before heading there check out the information about the different entrances and parking on the official site of Bordeaux

Floirac – fil vert – the green path

Le Fil vert on the right side of the river has more than 25 km of hiking to offer, passing through Parc des coteaux, the green space that encompasses most of the parks of Floirac, Cenon, Lormont, and Bassens. There are numerous hiking trails you can do here, depending on what part of “rive droite” you want to discover. You can see some of the trails here.

Parc Castel in Floirac

In this article, I’ll focus on hiking in Floirac and Boulac, a trail called Boucle de Floirac – Bouliac, which starts at Parc Castel in Floirac. The park itself is very cute with an impressive chateau, which is the starting point of your walk. Before you start the green path you can climb to the heights of the park to see the “belvédère” for a nice view. Then go down again to find the green loop path (boucle vert) in the le Chemin de Montagne. After about  500m take a left on the main street (Chemin des plateaux) that you will have to follow to reach le Domaine de la Burthe, the biggest park of Floirac. Enter the park through Chemin de Beaufeu and follow the red and white markup in the park, this will lead you to Ruisseau de Jacotte (a little stream of water). You will then have to go down under the highway to cross to the next town – Bouliac. Continue following the markup until it leads you to the next destination –  le Bois de Loc Boué in Bouliac. The final destination on this route is the 12th-century church of Saint-Siméon. From here you can start your way back to Floirac. To avoid repeating the same path, you can take a different route through rue de Bourg. Before leaving rive droite you can also take a walk on Quai Deschamps and enjoy the beautiful view on the Garonne river. 

The Saint Emilion region 

Discover the lamprey capital of Gironde – Sainte Terre – 6.4 km

I’m sure that many of you are familiar with the beautiful Saint Emilion region. Even if you haven’t had the chance to do any hiking there, most of you living here had the chance to drive through the stunning vineyards of the famous wine region. This trail, however, is different from the usual view you see from Saint Emilion as it goes along the Dordogne river. This is a good opportunity to learn about another product the Saint Emilion region is famous for, the lamproie (lamprey in English).
The little village of Sainte Terre is the capital of Lamprey. Start your tour from Église Saint-Alexis, the church of Sainte Terre and walk on Rue du Parlement until you reach the river. Take a nice long stroll along the river until you reach the prohibited area sign, then turn left with the path. Follow the path until you reach the town again and then turn left on Rue du Parlement to reach the town center. On normal days you can also visit the Lamprey’s garden, a small park and the museum of lamprey, however, I believe that it’s still closed for visits. You can see the map of the trails with the points of interest here

Sainte Terre

The chateaux and restaurants are still closed, but once they’ll re-open I really recommend combining this hike with a visit to a winery or a nice meal in one of the villages around Saint Emilion. If you want more information on what to do in Saint Emilion, check out my article with everything you need to know about visiting this beautiful village. 

Entre Deux Mers

Boucle de Rions heritage and hillsides

Entre Deux Mers is one of the most beautiful parts of Gironde. An abundance of medieval villages scattered along the Gironde river, centuries-old historic monuments, wineries and a lot of nature makes it a perfect place for day trips from Bordeaux. And above all, it’s also a great region for hiking with several paths mixing heritage and nature. Today I want to focus on hiking around one of my favorite towns in the region – Rions.

Rions

Rions is a small medieval town on the hills on the banks of the Garonne river that played an important role in the Hundred Years War and was occupied by England during the 13th century. Even if you come here specifically for hiking, don’t be in a rush and take some time to admire the beautiful houses with old shatters and the colorful flower pots decorating the narrow streets of the village. After you got inspired by the beautiful architecture we can start the hike. Leave the city center following rue Lavidon, through Porte Lavidon, and enjoy a pleasant 4.5 km path with a stunning view of the Garonne hillsides and vineyards. You will enter back through the most impressive gate in Rions, Porte du l’Hyan, the only gate that was kept fully preserved to this day. Before you leave, visit the old ramparts of the city, built in the 14th century and restored in the 18th century. You can find the map and all the details here

The South of Gironde

Hostens 

Hostens is one of the highlights of the South Gironde region. Domaine des Lacs d’Hostens is located at the heart of the Landes de Gascogne forest (50 km from Bordeaux) and offers some of the best hiking trails you can find near Bordeaux. The Domain consists of five different lakes with plenty of water activities as well as hiking trails, mountain bike trails, and more. If you’re after a good hike, head to the second lake, Lac du Bousquey. On the way you can see horses, butterflies and other wonders of nature. There are three trails in the Domain of Hostens:  8, 11 et 16 km long so there is something for both fit walkers and people who just want to enjoy a relatively short walk in nature. 

Hostens

In Hostens you will also find one of the best beaches in Gironde, this one located on the shores of another lake, the lake of Lamothe. So if the weather is good this would be the best way to end your hike. 

Lac Vert and Lac Bleu

Lac Vert

I really love hiking around lakes! I think that water in combination with the greenery around it gives it a very meditational vibe 🙂 Luckily there are a few beautiful lakes around the area where you can have a lovely walk and admire the colors of the water. The first one is Lac Vert (the green lake) in Canejan and the second one is Lac Bleu (the blue lake) in Leognan, both located about 15/20 minutes’ drive from Bordeaux. Their names derive from the color of the water and they are both stunning. 

Saint Symphorian

Did you know that the largest man-made forest in Europe is located just an hour’s drive from Bordeaux? The huge Landes forest has a few hiking trails, one of them starting in Saint Symphorien, a village located about 50 km south of Bordeaux. The route starts from the center of Saint Symphorien, which by itself is not very interesting. But it’s nice to dedicate a few minutes to see the town hall, the gothic Saint Symphorien church, and the cute little Maison Cammunale, which was built during the great depression. To start the walk, leave the city center and walk about 5 minutes on Cours de Verdun until you reach Le Chalet Mauriac. In this house the famous novelist, Francois Mauriac used to spend his vacations as a child. The chateau itself is probably closed right now, but the nice park around it might be open.

Le Chalet Mauriac

Your next destination is Moulin de Marian, an old windmill standing close to the Hure river. This is a nice walk that should take you about 30 minutes. From here continue on the path until you reach the department route number D220. Don’t turn to D220, instead continue straight on D115 until you reach Landes de Lassus, turn left here. Then continue north until you get to l’Atelier des Chemins de fer économiques de la Gironde. The building, built in the 19th century is a testimony of what was one of the main economic activities of this village. The site was closed in 1978 but you can still see some of the machines they used back then. You are now almost back to the center of Saint Symphorien, where our tour ends.

Arcachon

Lanton

Lanton on the Arcachon Bay

One of my favorite hiking places in the region is Lanton on the Arcachon bay. There are of course many other great places for a promenade around the Bassin but I love the fact that you rarely see any people in Lanton and that the drive is not very long.  You can start your walk from Plage de Suzette, which is a little port with a few restaurants on it, from there just follow the trail surrounding the little port. If you’ve ever been to the Bassin d’Arcachon you know that the view changes a lot depending on the tide. This trail goes along the bay and that’s why, depending on the time you arrive, it may feel like walking along the beach or in an apocalyptic desert. The scenery and tranquility are just magical and it’s less than an hour from Bordeaux!
To discover more places in Bassin d’Arcachon go to my article about the best day trips to Arcachon Bay.

Ville d’Hiver in Arcachon 

Here’s an idea for those who like urban trails. The touristy city of Arcachon currently feels very different from its usual lively vibes. Tourists are yet to flood the region and the restaurants will stay closed until at least June. Why not use this opportunity to discover the beautiful architecture of ville d’Hiver in Arcachon city. The winter city of Arcachon was mainly built in the 19th century and among its 300 villas, you can find some architectural treasures. Here are a few villas you don’t want to miss: Teresa, Toledo, Brémontier, Trocadero, Alexandre Dumas, Bayard, and Athena. Before you go, don’t miss the beautiful Parc Mauresque which separates the winter city from the summer city. If you can read some French, here’s a site with a short history of the most famous villas in the winter city. For more info on what to do in Arcachon city check out my article about Arcachon.

Ville d'hiver Arcachon

There are of course many more hiking routes in the region. We are surrounded by forests, lakes, parks, old villages, and a lot of heritage, so there’s an endless amount of ideas for a walk. But I wanted to release this article as soon as possible so you can start enjoying the weather and the deconfinement. I will add more ideas for walks in this article in the next few weeks, so I invite you all to return to this page. If you enjoyed reading the article, you can always share it with friends and make them go on a hike instead of the crowded city center 🙂 

Before I go, I just wanted to let you know about all the other places you can get my information about traveling in Bordeaux and the Southwest of France. 

  1. My Travel in the Southwest of France Facebook group – where people from all over the Southwest of France share their favorite places to visit in the region.
  2. My Facebook/Instagram pages where I share almost all my travels and experiences in the region on a daily basis.
  3. Newsletter – I decided to go on a little break with my emails during the confinement being that most of the content there is about villages, restaurants, museums, and heritage sites, which is not content anyone currently needs. But I’m coming back with my weekly emails soon so you are all welcomed to join me there – subscribe here

The Bassin d’Arcachon or the Arcachon Bay has become one of the most popular destinations in France with more than half a million visitors heading there during July and August alone. While some people rent a house close to the beach, most tourists go there for day trips from Bordeaux, which is located about an hour’s drive from the bay.If you look at the map you’ll see that the Arcachon bay is quite a big place with plenty of villages and activities so how do you choose where to go? That’s what I’m here for! In this article I’m going to introduce you to some of the best destinations for a day trip or a weekend on Bassin D’Arcachon. The places with the most unique atmosphere, the best beaches, interesting activities for you and your kids and spots where you can enjoy the famous Arcachon oysters. 

We can roughly divide the bay into two parts, the north and south of the Bassin. When I’m in the mood for a beautiful village or an unspoilt  beach I tend to go to the northern part of Arcachon bay. There, you have the most charming villages on the Arcachon Bay like L’herbe, Le Canon, Andernos les Bains and others. However, if I’m in a more active mood, I’d usually go to the southern part of the bay where you can climb the incredible dune de Pilat, visit the oysters museum, spend a day in a huge birds reserve and kayak on the Eyre river. 

Before we start, here are a few other articles you might want to read when you’re traveling around Bordeaux:
The best beaches around Bordeaux
Day trips around Bordeaux – wine, beaches and villages 
10 day trips from Bordeaux by Public transport
A weekend in Medoc- Bordeaux wine tours
What to do and eat in Saint Emilion

You can also join my Facebook group “Travel in the southwest of France” where many enthusiasts of the region share their recommendations for places to visit and things to do in the southwest of France.

Now let’s start discovering some of the most beautiful and interesting places to visit on the Arcachon Bay!

Andernos les Bains a perfect day trip to the Arcachon Bay

Andernos les Bains is not a prime tourist destination like some of its better-known neighbors on the Bassin d’Arcachon and that, in a way, makes it even more attractive. With an old prehistoric site, 19th-century villas and a long sandy beach overlooking the Bassin, it’s not hard to spend a pleasant day in this seaside resort. Like other towns on the Arcachon bay, Andernos les Bains is also known for oyster farming, and a wealth of restaurants serving delicious oysters and seafood garnish its shores. Most restaurants are located next to the port from which you can take a nice promenade on the longest pier in France. My favorite spot for oysters is Cabane 21 Station des Gus, which is also very kids friendly. But mind you, it’s a spot for real seafood lovers as you won’t find anything else on the menu (except wine of course). Andernos les Bains is also known for its fun events and festivals such as the Festival Cabanes en Fête (an oysters and wine celebration) in December and the  Andernos Jazz Festival in July.

eating oysters at Andernos-les-bains

How to get from Bordeaux to Andernos les Bains: The best way to get there is by car but if you have no other choice you can also take Bus 601 (Trans Gironde) from Bordeaux center.

L’Herbe – the best-hidden gem on the Arcachon bay

L’herbe is a traditional oyster farming village located on the Cap Ferret Peninsula. Here you won’t find the characteristics of a typical French village, there’s no church nor a central square with a bakery and a restaurant. Nonetheless, you can easily say that it is one of the most beautiful villages in the southwest of France. 

L'herbe  -  a beautiful village on the Arcachon Bay

There’s something raw and authentic about L’herbe. You get to walk between the colorful cabins of oyster farmers and see them in action on their special workboat. If you like oysters, you’re going to love this place. Plenty of oyster restaurants are spread along the beach serving only the freshest oysters, pork paté and white wine. This is a perfect destination for a sunny half-day trip from Bordeaux, or a full day trip if you add a visit to the beach as well. 

How to get from Bordeaux to L’herbe: Same as with Andernos les Bains, a car is the best way to get here as the bus is not a direct one and it takes almost two hours to get to L’herbe. But if you have no choice you can also take Bus 601 (Trans Gironde) from Bordeaux center. 

Cap Ferret – dreamy beaches and the best oysters on the Arcachon bay

Cap Ferret is a little town located on the Western part of Bassin d’Arcachon 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 beach village atmosphere, especially if compared to the more southern towns of Arcachon bay. 

Cap Ferret - one of the best day trips  to Arcachon Bay

Cap Ferret is shaped like a narrow tongue with a long string of beautiful sandy beaches on the Atlantic ocean and a view of the eastern side of the Bassin. Apart from its dreamy beaches it’s also known for its ostréiculture industry, which produces some of the best oysters in France. 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.

Another fun thing to do in Cap Ferret is to bike along the beaches and through the pine forest that covers a large part of the Cap Ferret peninsula. There are plenty of bike rentals in Cap Ferret, one of them is Bike rental Cap Gyro (7 Boulevard de la Plage, 33970 Lège-Cap-Ferret).

How to get from Bordeaux to Cap Ferret: The same 601 bus can take you to Cap Ferret but it’ll take you at least two hours to get there, so a car is definitely a better option here. If you’re near Arcachon or le Moulleau, you can see the schedule here

Arcachon – the city 

It’s not my favorite destination on the bay mostly due to it being a town rather than a village. Having said that there are plenty of great things to do in and around the town of Arcachon and if you have the time it’s worth a visit. 

ville d'hiver - something to discover on your day trip to the Arcachon Bay

The town of Arcachon is divided into four districts, named after the seasons of the year. Ville d’Été, covering the touristic center, main beach, restaurants and boutiques. Ville d’Hiver – the historic center adorned with glamorous 19th-century villas. Ville de Printemps in the west is closer to the most beautiful and less crowded beaches of Arcachon and Ville d’Automne is the beautiful port area packed with great fish restaurants. A visit to Arcachon can easily take the 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. 

le moulleau on Bassin d'arcachon

Another reason to go to Arcachon is the beautiful beaches located on the south part of the bay. Two that I particularly like are petit Nice and La Corniche where you can also grab a drink at the fancy La corniche hotel /restaurant. A fun way to discover that part of the bay is by bike. You can hire one in the center of Arcachon city and just follow the cycling route along the beach. 

In my guide to Arcachon city, you can find all the details about things to do, places to eat, where to hire a bike and what beaches are the best ones to go to in Arcachon. 

How to get from Bordeaux to Arcachon: Arcachon is the easiest one to get to by train directly from Bordeaux. A train leaves almost every hour from the main station in Bordeaux and the station of Pessac centre. Beware that if you come by car, free parking is not easy to find, so taking the train is advisable during the touristic season. You have more details about parking in my article about Arcachon

The Magnificent dune du Pilat in Teste de Buch

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.

Dune du Pilat Arcachon

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 for yourself.

Dune du Pilat Arcachon

How to get from Bordeaux to dune du Pilat: If you’re coming by public transport, line 1 (Baia company) will take you from the Arcachon train station to Dune to Pilat.  Otherwise, you can get there by car and park in the paid parking of the site.

Lanton – a beautiful promenade

If you’re looking for a beautiful quiet place for a long walk, Lanton is the perfect spot for you. You can start your walk from plage de Suzette, which is a little port with a few restaurants on it and just follow the trail that starts next to the boats. If you’ve ever been to the Bassin d’Arcachon you know that the view changes a lot depending on the tide. This trail goes along the bay and that’s why, depending on the time you arrive, it may feel like walking along the beach or in an apocalyptic desert. If you want to escape the crowds in the summer head to Lanton as the scenery and tranquility are just magical.

Lanton - take a walk on the Arcachon Bay

The birds’ reserve in Teich

The Teich Ornithological Reserve is a protected nature reserve located some 50km from Bordeaux, where you can watch thousands of wild birds from up-close. 110 hectares of wooded areas, saltmarsh, reed beds and meadows stretch out between the mainland and the Bassin d’Arcachon coastline, offering a perfect habitat for many birds. Some stay here permanently and some just pass by.

The Teich Bird Reserve is explored on foot along a 6 km long circular path (with a shorter route proposed to visitors with young kids). The path goes through a rich diversity of natural habitats, giving a great overall picture of the site and its surrounding areas. I would highly advise taking a binocular with you. Many of the birds stay quite far from the designated Viewpoints and are just too distant to observe. Doing the same route with a binocular made the visit much more interesting in my view. 

The Reserve Ornithologique du Teich is open all year long except on December 25, and can even be reached by train (the Teich train station is located about 15 minutes walk from the reserve). For more info see the website of the reserve: https://www.reserve-ornithologique-duteich.com/en/

Gujan Mestras – the capital of oysters

Gujan-Mestras is a little town known as the capital of oyster farming on the Bassin d’Arcachon. It has seven oyster ports which you can visit and watch oyster farmers’ work. You can even join one of the farmers and take part in their work for a few hours. Find the list of farmers providing that experience on the tourist office website

You can also visit the “Maison de Huitre”, an interactive museum where you discover everything about oyster farming. And finally, don’t forget to taste the freshest oysters in one of the cabanes along the coastline, many of which are located at the famous Port de Larros. Gujan-Mestras also has a beautiful beach called Plage de la Hume. Due to its interior position on the Arcachon bay, there are almost no waves and it feels more like a lake than a sea beach, which makes it very kids friendly. 

Plage de la Hume
Plage de la Hume on the Bassin d’Arcachon

The town hall of Gujan-Mestras is quite active and hosts plenty of nice events for kids and adults in the summer, you can find them all on their site:  https://www.gujanmestras.com

How to get to Gujan Mestras? The same train that goes to Arcachon also stops in Gujan Mestras so you can easily get there by train if you don’t want to drive. 

These are some of my favorite spots on the Arcachon bay, and I hope it will encourage you to get out and spend at least one day in this magical place. 

For more tips about things to do in Bordeaux, day trips from the city, vineyards, markets, brocantes and more check out the Facebook page of Lost in Bordeaux, subscribe to my newsletter and join my Facebook group “Travel in the Southwest on France“. 

I truly believe that the best way to discover the center of  Bordeaux is by foot, simply because every building in this city is an architectural work of art worthy of your full attention. One exception is the waterfront of Bordeaux, which is the perfect place for cycling in the city. Surely if you’ve been living here for a while you would think that there are many other interesting trails around the city, but for a newcomer, this cycling route is the best way to discover some of Bordeaux’s most interesting and entertaining spots. In this article, I’m going to introduce you to the “Bridge to Bridge” cycling route in Bordeaux. This trail starts from “la rive gauche”, the western side of Pont Pierre (the central bridge of Bordeaux). It then continues north all along the waterfront until you get to the most modern bridge of Bordeaux, Pont Chaban Delmas. From there you will cross to the Bastide neighborhood, the local’s favorite weekend getaway.

Cycling in Bordeaux

In this article, I’m going to mention all the beautiful monuments and interesting places you should pay attention to as well as recommend places that require a longer stop. I do want to want to warn you that there are quite a lot of stops here, I wrote them all just for you have all the options, but if you really want to feel like you’re cycling you might want to skip some of them 🙂
I am only referring to places located along the waterfront so If you want a deeper introduction to Bordeaux go to my ultimate guide to a weekend in Bordeaux.
There is so much to see on the way and I don’t want you to miss any of it, so tune in and let’s start cycling.
*For information on bike rentals go to the bottom of the article.

What not to miss while cycling in Bordeaux 

The “rive gauche” – the 18th-century charm of Bordeaux 

Start your tour next to the central and oldest bridge of Bordeaux, Pont de Pierre. The first bridge of Bordeaux was commissioned by Napoleon I at the beginning of the 19th century. Prior to the building of this bridge, the only way to get to the other side was by boat. If you’re using the city bikes, there is a station just a minute walk north of Port de Bourgogne, otherwise, look on the map of available bikes here

Pont Pierre in Bordeaux

Now that you have your bike, you can start cycling north, all along the Garonne river. Look at the shape of the river, does that remind you of anything? The Garonne river is shaped like a moon and that’s where Bordeaux got its’ nickname “la Port de la Lune” – the moon port. 

It’s time for some sightseeing! It will be very hard to miss the first monument on our route, the spectacular Porte Cailhau,  one of the two original gates to the old city of Bordeaux. It was built in 1495 to commemorate the glory of king Charles VIII and you can find the statue of the king right in the center of it. 

We are in front of the Miroir d’eau, which is by far the most popular location in Bordeaux during the summer. And although you’ve been cycling for only a couple of minutes this place demands a stop. This modern monument, built in 2006, is the world’s largest reflecting pool. 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. 

Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux

I would highly recommend crossing the road to Place de la Bourse and take a look at this masterpiece of classic French architecture from the 18th century. Don’t miss the famous mascarons of Bordeaux, these are the little faces looking on you from the arches of the buildings. There are more than 3000 mascarons decorating the buildings and monuments of Bordeaux, taking inspiration from Greek mythology, wild animals, religion and the economical development of Bordeaux. To learn a bit more about the architecture of Bordeaux go to the Bordeaux Patrimoine Mondial, an architectural and heritage interpretation center. The center hosts a modern exhibition presenting various stages in the development of Bordeaux and the factors that have influenced its construction.

You can now pop on your bikes and continue to our next stop, but before we get there, here are a few places I don’t want you to miss. 

Place des Quinconces
Place des Quinconces is the largest city square in France! 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.

Remembring the slave trade in Bordeaux
In the last few years, Bordeaux has become more engaged in trying to acknowledge its dark past of slave trade that took place from the 17th to the 19th century. A decade ago you could barely find any remanence of Bordeaux’s role as the second biggest slave trade port in France. Today, however, several statues of slaves can be found in the city and Bordeaux’s triangular slave trade voyages carrying more than 150,000 slaves are documented in the Musee d’Aquitaine.

Quais des Bordeaux

One of the most beautiful statues was created by a Haitian sculptor named Filipo and is located right here on the waterfront, just in front of the Bourse Maritime. The statue depicts a young slave named Modeste Testas who was bought when she was only 15 years old by two Bordelaise brothers. She worked on their plantation in  Saint-Domingue and was set free after the death of her owner. You can read about her story on the panel explaining the statue.

You can read more about the acknowledgment of the slave trade by Bordeaux in this very interesting article by Invisible Bordeaux

Stop 2  – CAPC

If you’re in an artistic mood our second stop is for you! CAPC is the contemporary art museum of Bordeaux located between the Quinconces and Chartrons districts. The museum is housed in an impressive former warehouse from the 19th century where commodities, traded down the river, used to be stored. In the permanent collection, there are almost 300 works of art and it regularly hosts temporary exhibitions that are dedicated to the history of art. I have visited the place several times and while the exhibitions are not always the best, the building itself is very impressive. On top of the building you can find a very chic restaurant, a nice place to stop for lunch or a drink. 

If you want to see what other museums Bordeaux has to offer, check out my article about the Museums of Bordeaux

Stop 3 – lunch on the Quai des Chartrons 

If you’re feeling peckish, Quai des Chartrons is the perfect location for a good lunch. You have many good restaurants along the waterfront to choose from, two of my favorite ones are Symbiose and Pastel. 

If you’re doing the cycling tour on Sunday, don’t miss one of the best markets taking place every Sunday morning on Quai des Chartrons. This market hosts dozens of food stalls selling everything from fresh fruits, cheese, pastries and oysters. Besides the fresh local products you can buy at the market it’s simply a very nice spot to have an early lunch or a plate of oysters with white wine if you want to feel like a local. 

Sunday market in Bordeaux

If you are not time constrained take an hour or two to discover the super chic Chartrons district. You can simply follow my article about the best things to do in Chartrons

Stop 4 – Cap Sciences

If you’re doing this bike tour with kids here’s another cool place to keep in mind. Cap Science is a nice science museum that proposes interactive exhibitions and activities all dedicated to different aspects of science. The museum is located at Hangar 20, Quai de Bacalan. For other activities for kids check out my list of 30 things to do with kids in Bordeaux

Hermoine in Bordeaux
See the ship parade in Bordeaux

Just next to it don’t miss Pont Chaban Delmas, a modern bridge that was inaugurated in 2013 and named after one of the mayors of the city. It’s the longest vertical-lift bridge in Europe and seeing it elevating to let the tall ships pass is a very impressive sight.

Before you cross the bridge to the other side let’s discover another hip neighborhood in Bordeaux 

The Bacalan neighborhood – the cool kid on the block 

Bacalan is a northern district of Bordeaux, an area that, until recently, has largely been avoided by tourists and locals. The grungy landscapes of the port and its distance from the city center aren’t as appealing as the beautiful architecture and lovely squares of the historic center of Bordeaux. In the last few years, however, the Bacalan district has been changing its face, emerging to be one of the most interesting places in Bordeaux, with plenty of new neighborhoods and places to explore.

things to do in Bacalan Bordeaux

You can spend a few hours discovering this cool place, using my guide to the Bacalan district. But as we’re in the midst of our “Bridge to Bridge” cycling trail, I’ll point out two of the places close to the river that I think you should visit. 

Stop 5 – La cité du Vin

La Cité du Vin is Bordeaux’s famous wine museum. This impressive piece of modern architecture is 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 winemaking, see movies and interviews with wine producers and then pass on to smell and taste wine. The Cité du Vin allows you to discover a selection of wines from all over the world and offers one of the best panoramic views of Bordeaux. You can think of it as a kind of wine amusement park that can be very enjoyable to both wine lovers and people who don’t drink at all. 

cite du vin
Learn everything about wine making

Read more about visiting the world’s best wine museum in my article about the Cité du Vin.

Stop 6 – the Bacalan Market 

It’s time for a little break from sightseeing to go for a drink in one of Bordeaux’s chic markets – les Halles de Bacalan, located just in front of the wine museum. This impressive 950m2 hangar hosts more than 20 artisans that were chosen for the quality of their products (85% of which are produced in the South-West region of France).

Marché de Bacalan
Marché de Bacalan – a new covered market

The “rive droite” – the hipster hub

You can now go back to the modern bridge and cross it to the eastern side – la rive droite. The Bastide neighborhood represents another side of Bordeaux’s charm. Instead of the classic monuments, it has a much more tranquil and funky spirit that attracts many local families and young hipsters of Bordeaux on 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.

Let me walk you over some of the best places to stop by at the Bastide neighborhood.

Stop 7 – Fabrique Pola

Our next stop is definitely not a must, but it can be a nice place to discover for art lovers. La Fabrique Pola is an artistic hub that brings together associations related to the visual arts. They always have different (usually free) exhibitions running and sometimes on weekends, they have live music on the banks of the Garonne. For the program take a look at their site

Stop 8 – Darwin 

Darwin is probably the main reason to cross the river to the east part of the city. It’s an old military base turned into an urban space with a huge chic restaurant and a cafe/organic food shop, a skate park for all ages, a second-hand shop and many other surprises, all with an agenda of ecological awareness. Whether alone or with kids you can spend hours in Darwin. It is also 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.

Darwin in Bordeaux
Darwin by Lost in Bordeaux

If you’re interested in plants or just love beautiful gardens, don’t miss the neighboring Jardin Botanique. This little park was created to allow the wide public to discover the world of plants, biodiversity and sustainability.

Stop 9 – finish your day with a fabulous picnic

Your cycling route along Quai des Queyries (the waterfront of “rive droite”) goes through one of the best green corners of Bordeaux. That part of the Bastide district is called Parc aux Angéliques, a wide green space with a stunning view on some of the most stunning monuments in the center of Bordeaux. Closer to Darwin, the vibe gets more hipstery.. further away and it’s more of an extended family kind of atmosphere 😉

The Bastide district
The Bastide district by Lost in Bordeaux

On summer days it’s one of the best places for a picnic in the city. If you don’t have any food with you, just go over to Magasin Général in Darwin and buy some cheese and wine (the perfect set for a French picnic). For a larger selection go to the Carrefour supermarket on Allée Serr. For other beautiful green spots in the city, check out my article about the best places for picnics in Bordeaux

Before you go back to the center of Bordeaux through Pont Pierre, stop by one of the most famous statues of “rive droite”, Le Lion. The blue lion on Place Stalingrad is created by a famous French artist Xavier Veilhan as a tribute to the victory of the Soviet army during the Second World War.

Le Lion Bastide Bordeaux

That’s it, our cycling route in Bordeaux has come to its end.  But that doesn’t mean you have to stop! Bordeaux is a super friendly city for cycling and you can continue discovering other neighborhoods and parks. You might get some ideas from the article about the Five alternative ways to discover Bordeaux

Where to rent bikes in Bordeaux 

There are plenty of places to rent bikes in Bordeaux, one of them is located just next to our starting point, next to Pont Pierre. The shop is called Bordeaux Velo and the address is 46 Quai Richelieu.

However, if you’re on a budget or just don’t want to commit to a bike for several hours you can use city bikes that are spread all over the city. The price is only 1.7 euros for 24 hours if you return them to the station every 30 minutes (you can take another bike right away). If you rather not spend your time looking for a station in the middle of your trip you can return them after you finish your ride and pay 2 euros for every additional hour.  

If you live in Bordeaux you also have the possibility to rent a free bike for several months. The organization is called la Maison métropolitaine des mobilités alternatives (MAMMA) and it’s located at 69 cours Pasteur – 33000 Bordeaux. You can check out all the details here

I hope you enjoyed this beautiful city and if you have a few more days in the area don’t forget to check out my article about the best day trips from Bordeaux. If you want more tips on restaurants, concerts and exhibitions follow me on facebook/Instagram. Or better yet, join my newsletter where I share a lot of exclusive info about Bordeaux and the region – sign up here.

Markets are probably one of the most exciting experiences in France. The fresh oysters coming directly from the sea, the huge variety of cheese and seasonal fruits can get me more excited than most works of art. As the French love buying their food at the market, there’s always an impressive amount of them in every city, many of which are weekly held taking place on the main square of every neighborhood. Luckily for us, Bordeaux has one of the best market scenes in France! Besides the small weekly markets in the different neighborhoods of the city, there are several big covered ones that are open daily and offer a great shopping and dining experience. Also, this is one of the most prolific agricultural regions in France, so visiting the markets are absolutely a must here. You have the most delicious strawberries from Lot et Garonne, tomatoes from Marmande, sheep cheese from the Basque country, duck from the Dordogne, and that’s only the short list of all the delicacies you’ll find in the markets here. In this article, I will help you discover the best food markets in Bordeaux, both in the city center and in the suburbs. Let’s start!

Food Markets in Bordeaux city

Marché des Capucins 

The Capucins market is one of the most visited places in Bordeaux. It’s the city’s biggest daily market and it has everything from fruits and spices, to local sweets and plenty of oysters stands. You can spend hours here strolling between the stands and discover the gastronomy of the Southwest of France. To make it an even better experience finish it with lunch in one of the many restaurants in the market. If you need help choosing what and where to eat, check out my article about the best places to eat in Marche des Capucins. This is a covered market so it can also be a perfect place to escape from one of Bordeaux’s rainy days. Weekends are especially busy in Capucins with locals meeting their friends for oysters and wine after their market run. So if you want to get a table on a Sunday be sure to be there before 11 am.

Marches des capucins

You can also join my food tours in the market which is a fun way to learn about the local food scene.

Opening hours: Open daily except Mondays / Address:  Place des Capucins, 33800 Bordeaux

Marche des Quais

Every Sunday morning dozens of food stalls with the best oysters of the region, fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, fish, wine and plenty of food trucks are installed on the Quai des Chartrons. 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 is the few stalls with oysters which cost around 6 euros per plate and come with a glass of white wine. It kind of embodies the good life atmosphere in this region 🙂

Marche des quais - bordeaux

On Thursdays, a smaller market takes place at the same place. It hosts only a few stalls and doesn’t have the lively atmosphere of the Sunday market but if you need good organic products to cook at home, it’s a good market to go to. 

For more info about the market and other places around it read my article about the best places to visit in the Chartrons district

Opening hours: Every Sunday and Thursday morning / Address:  Place des Capucins, 33800 Bordeaux

Les Halles de Bacalan

This fancy food market opened its gates on November 2017 and has been visited by more than 60,000 people in the first month. It’s no surprise, as Bordeaux is well known for its gourmand population. This impressive 950m2 hangar is located just in front of the famous Cité du Vin and hosts 23 different artisans and merchants that were chosen for the quality of their products (85% of which are produced in the Southwest of France). Most weekends the market hosts different events like pintxos evenings, cooking workshops, music concerts and activities for kids. This is one of the best places to go for an afternoon drink and tapas with friends. 

bacalan market

If you have time, you can stay a bit longer and explore one of the rising neighborhoods in the city. Read about it in my article about the Bacalan district. If you would also like to visit one of the best wine museums in the world, check out my article about visiting the Cité du Vin.

Opening hours:  from Tuesday to Sunday (the market closes between 14:30 t0 16:30 on weekdays) / Address: 149 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux

Marché Royal in Saint Michel

Marché Royal is one of the biggest open-air markets in Bordeaux, taking place every Saturday morning at Place Meynard in the Saint Michel district. The surroundings of the church and bell tower are covered by tens of stalls, with merchants selling everything from fruits and vegetables to kitchen supplies, clothes and even pillows :). From my experience, this is the cheapest market in Bordeaux. However, if you are into organic produce, this one is probably not for you. On sunny Saturday mornings, the market attracts both locals, doing their weekly shopping and outsiders that come for the noisy market atmosphere and chic cafés.

Saint Michel Bordeaux - market day

On Monday mornings a different market is taking place in front of the church. You will find very diversified merchandise displayed on the stands of Marché Neuf, including books, house supplies, clothing, toys and more, however, it’s not a food market and doesn’t have the vibe of Marché Royal. This market is composed of hundreds of stands but has a more local vibe to it. On Sundays and Fridays,  antiques and flea markets are also taking place on the same square so this place is always worth a visit. 

Wondering what else is there to do in this neighborhood? Check out my article about the best things to do in the Saint Michel district

Opening hours:  Saturday for the food market, and Monday, Friday and Sunday for the other markets / Address: Place Meynard,  33000 Bordeaux

Marché de Producteurs Saint-Seurin

The producers market of Saint Seurin takes place every Friday morning at Place des Martyrs de la Résistance, about 10 minutes walk from the center of Bordeaux. It is a fairly small market with about 20 stalls but has a very cozy atmosphere and a variety of high-quality products from local farmers. In addition, it’s located on a beautiful square next to one of the most impressive churches of Bordeaux, la Basilique Saint Seurin, so it’s definitely worth a visit.

Opening hours:  Every Friday Morning (7:00-13:00) / Address: Place des Martyrs de la Résistance

Markets around Bordeaux Metropole

Les Halles de Talence

The Talence market is the little brother of the Bacalan market, built by Biltoki in December 2018. This too has a bit of a fancy vibe to it compared to Marche des Capucins, the main market of Bordeaux. The prices are not very cheap but you have everything you need in this covered market: a butcher, seafood, a bakery, a tapas stand that also makes a great sangria and more. The Biltoki bar in the center of the market welcomes plenty of locals who love to visit the market for a beer or a cup of coffee on the bar.  Like the Bacalan market, Les Halles de Talence too hosts plenty of nice events with concerts and a local vibe.

Les Halles de Talence

Every Wednesday there’s also an open-air market (in front of the covered market) that offers great products at much more reasonable prices. If you want to stay for lunch, a few nice food trucks are there to welcome you every Wednesday until about 14:00.

When: Daily except for Mondays, the market closes for a break between 14:30 to 16:30 on weekdays  / Where: Place Alcala de Henares, 33400 Talence

Thouars Talence – Every Sunday 

Let’s stay in Talence just a little bit longer as there’s another great market I must mention in this list. This one takes place every Sunday morning in the Thouars forest in Talence, just in front of the swimming pool. This is the biggest weekly market of Talence with tens of stands with great French products. I particularly love going there for the big variety of fruits and veggies and for the deals at the fish stall (if you come towards noon of course). This is not only a food market! You can also find other practical things like plants, clothing and kitchen accessories. The market is located within a few steps from a beautiful lake so you can also make a nice picnic day out of it. It’s not the easiest one to get to by public transport but if you have a car it’s worth a visit.

Marche de thouars in Talence bordeaux
When: Sunday morning  / Where: the parking of 235 Avenue de Thouars, 33400 Talence

Le Marché du Centre-ville de Mérignac

Another market I really love attending during the weekend is the Merignac city center market. The market takes place every Wednesday and Saturday morning on Place Charles de Gaulle, just next to Mediatheque Mérignac, the city library. A short ride on tram A from the center of Bordeaux will take you to one of the best markets in the city, with tens of stalls of regional wine, a huge variety of cheese, nuts, honey, pastries and all the basics like vegetables, meat and fish. In the center, there are tables put in place for you to enjoy a nice cup of coffee from the market’s coffee roaster stall. I visit this market quite often so I might even see you there 🙂  

One of the best markets in Bordeaux - Merignac
When: Wednesday and Saturday  / Where: Place Charles de Gaulle, Merignac

Pessac center

A very nice market takes place in the center of Pessac every Tuesday and Saturday morning. Pessac is one of the more charming suburbs of Bordeaux and a market day is a good excuse to visit its lovely city center. The market is not big but the products are excellent, I especially love the cheese stall. And as a bonus, you can finish your market tour with a drink in one of the coffee places on the square. You can reach it easily by public transport, just take tram B from the center of Bordeaux to Pessac Centre.

A much bigger market is taking place not far from the center every Sunday morning. Le marché Bourrec, on Avenue Pierre Wiehn is hosting more than 150 merchants and farmers coming from all the departments surrounding Bordeaux (Lot et Garonne, Dordogne, Landes…) with the best products of our region. This market also has stalls of clothing, art and more. 

When: Tuesday and Saturday and Sunday  / Where: Place de la Ve République and Avenue Pierre Wiehn. Pessac.

Marché de Rochefort –  Gradignan

Marché de Rochefort is a market I discovered just recently and I think it’s a great option for those who live in the Southern suburbs of Bordeaux. More than 70 merchands arrive here every Saturday morning selling everything from meat to cheese and fish, flowers and more. As it’s a very local market there’s a very cozy vibe to it. People are greeting each other and the customers share their cooking ideas and stories from their family dinners with the merchants who come here every week. It’s a very nice market if you’re looking for a calmer local vibe rather than a touristy atmosphere. It’s located next to the central road of Gradignan, Cours du Général de Gaulle so it’s easy to get there by public transport from Bordeaux and Talence (bus line 10 stops next to it).

Marche de Gradignan
When: Saturday morning (8:00-13:00) / Where: rue de Rochefort ( between the cemetery and le collège des Fontaines de Monjous), Gradignan. 

Marché de Bassens

The Bassens market is less known by most tourists but it’s actually one of the biggest markets in our region and one of the most popular among people on the rive droite of the Garonne. The market takes place every Sunday on place de la Commune de Paris in Bassen, a town located just after Lormont. Almost 150 stalls are waiting for you with some of the best products in the southwest of France. There are oysters from Arcachon and from Ile de Re, charcuterie from the Basque country, tarts from the Landes and other produce from almost every corner of Nouvelle Aquitaine. Among them, there are quite a few food stalls like Morocain couscous, Portuguese grilled chicken and a coffee place. You can spend a really fun morning here, strolling the many alleys of the market and tasting local food.

When: Sunday morning (9:00-13:00) / Where: place de la Commune de Paris, Bassens

If this list of the best markets in Bordeaux got you in a foodie mood you can also read my article about the most foodies streets in Bordeaux and the one about the sweet specialties of Bordeaux.

Is it your first time in Bordeaux? If it is you should definitely check out my ultimate guide to Bordeaux to get familiar with all the must-see places in Bordeaux. To help you choose a hotel in Bordeaux I’ve gathered a list of the best hotels in the center of Bordeaux as well as a guide to the districts of Bordeaux to help you find your preferred AirBnB location.

Lost in Bordeaux helps you enjoy the city and region in many ways so be sure to follow us on facebook/Instagram for more daily updates on things to do and see. Or better yet, join my newsletter where I share a lot of exclusive info about Bordeaux and the region – sign up here.

When you think about festivals in Bordeaux, the first thing that comes to mind is wine and gastronomy. But let’s not forget that Bordeaux is the capital of the Southwest of France and one of France’s cultural hubs. So it’s not a surprise that there are quite a few big music festivals in Bordeaux. In this post, I gathered the biggest music festivals in Bordeaux and a few other attractive locations in Gironde. The list is very varied and I deliberately included many music genres like Jazz, Rock, electronic music and even Reggae. I added the dates of the festivals in 2020 (if published). For more information about the time and place follow my monthly and weekly lists, or subscribe to my newsletter

Music Festivals in Bordeaux Metropole

Bordeaux Rock Festival 

The Bordeaux rock festival takes place every January in the best music venues around the city, among them places like the Iboat, Quartier libre, L’avant scène, Void, La Tencha, La Voute, L’imperio, L’Antidote, and Salle des fêtes du grand parc. This festival was founded in 2004 by Bordeaux Rock, an association created to promote emerging music through cultural events. This festival is considered the main rock festival of Bordeaux, with tens of local and international acts performing here every year. In 2020 the festival will take place on January 22-26.

Bordeaux Open Air

The Bordeaux Open Air festival is a series of music events taking place in different locations during the summer. These are all electronic music concerts, hosting djs from all over the world. They have a very young urban vibe to them and they are completely free! Some of the events are taking place in Jardin Public, right in the center of Bordeaux and in other parks around Bordeaux metropole. With this festival your summer Sundays are covered. The dates of the Bordeaux Open Air event are published closer to the end of the spring and will be updated here. 

Bordeaux relache festival

Another “all summer” festival is the Relache Festival. This one was created by the Allez les filles association in 2015 with the goal of providing free quality concerts to everyone. The festival lasts around three months (from June to August), with one or two concerts taking place on one of the squares of Bordeaux during each weekend. The program usually includes concerts of both local and international bands in many genres of music. The dates of the concerts will be updated here as summer approaches.

Fête de la musique

La Fête de la Musique is a French national day, dedicated to the celebration of music, with free concerts and street parties happening on the same day (June 21) all over France. This is an extraordinary day where you have the chance to walk around the city and enjoy an endless amount of small and big concerts from many genres of music. Like every other city in France, Bordeaux too celebrates La Fête de la musique with its own street concerts and activities.

Climax Festival 

Climax Festival is an annual electronic festival taking place in Darwin, one of the coolest places in Bordeaux. Besides the electronic live concerts, the festival includes many conferences, debates and cultural events related to climate change and other environmental issues. The festival takes place every year at the beginning of September. For more info about the festival click here

 Piano Festival

Here’s a festival that’s slightly different from other events on this list – the Piano festival of Bordeaux. Festival L’esprit du Piano takes place every year in the Auditorium of Bordeaux, usually mid November – beginning of December. Every year this festival hosts worldwide known pianists like Abdullah Ibrahim, Chick Corea, Yefim Bronfman and more. Read more about the festival here

Music festivals close to Bordeaux (the Southwest of France)

Millesime festival

This is a great event for all electronic music lovers who want to enjoy the unique atmosphere of an electronic music festival and still stay in the region of Bordeaux. Festival Millesime takes place in the early summer days in a beautiful town, La Réole, located about 40 minutes drive from Bordeaux. The festival hosts more than 30 electronic artists on three stages that are located on the banks of the Garonne river. Live electronic music with a beautiful view, sounds like a perfect summer festival to me.  

This year (2020) the festival will take place on May 29-30– click here for more details. 

Jazz Festival in Saint Emilion

Saint Emilion with its romantic scenery is the perfect place to host this elegant event. The Saint Emilion Jazz festival was founded in 2012 and since then has been taking place every year in June / July. It has become one of the most popular music events in the South West of France, attracting around 10k visitors every year. During the three days of the festival Saint Emilion offers a great mix of jazz concerts, wine tasting and tasty food. In the festival area you will find a wine bar with the wines of Saint Emilion and a gourmand market with local products and food trucks. In 2020 the festival is taking place on June 26-27

Festival Garorock

One of the biggest music festivals in our region is about to take place in June in Marmande (about an hour drive from Bordeaux). Garorock is an international festival with 5 big stages that usually hosts more than 50 French and international artists. In 2020 the festival is going to take place on June 25-28. For more info and tickets click here.

Arcachon en Scene

Arcachon en Scene is a popular music festival that brings big French and international acts to perform in this beautiful beach resort town. The festival usually takes place at the end of July/ beginning of August. 

Les Estivales de Musique

Les Estivales de Musique en Medoc is the only music festival in France dedicated exclusively to young laureates of international competitions.  The festival was created in 2003 to discover new talents in classical music. The concerts are hosted in some of the most prestigious châteaux in the Medoc area and are followed by wine tastings. The dates of 2020 will be updated closer to the event. See more info about the festival here.

Festival Musicalarue

One of the biggest music festivals in the Bordeaux area actually takes place in a small village in the Landes department, named Luxey. The Musicalarue music festival usually takes place in mid August in the forest, just next to the village. The lineup includes a very long list of artists and bands, which in previous years included some big names such as Shaka Ponk, Gaël Faure and Matmatah, Patti Smith, Orelsan and more. In 2020 the festival will take place on July 31- August 2 – click here for more info. 

Reggae Sun Ska music festival

Sun Ska is a huge Reggae festival taking place every August in Vertheuil, between the vineyards of the Medoc area. The lineup includes tens of artists with some big names like Ziggy Marley and the French Dub Inc. The festival was created in 1998 and besides music, it has a strong environmental agenda. During the days of the festival, many activities are taking place to raise environmental awareness among the participants. 

In 2020 the festival is taking place on August 7-9 – for more details click here.

 

In this list, I included only the main music events taking place in and around Bordeaux. These, however, represent only a fraction of the cultural life in the region. There are tens of music, gastronomic and other cultural events taking place during the year. If you want to be up to date on all other events taking place in Bordeaux you can read my monthly lists or follow the Lost in Bordeaux Facebook page where I regularly post about activities in the region. If you want to know more about events taking place in other parts of the Southwest of France join the Travel in Southwest of France Facebook group.

Bordeaux is so rich and beautiful that you can spend several days here without visiting even one museum. But actually, to the surprise of many tourists, Bordeaux has quite a variety of interesting museums. In this small city you can see permanent exhibitions of classic art, modern design, street art, architecture, archeology and more. In this article, I gathered a list of the most interesting museums to visit in Bordeaux. So if you’re in a cultural mood, this article is for you. If you found this article while desperately looking for something to do on a rainy day, check out more ideas in my article about the best things to do when it’s raining in Bordeaux

Just before we start I need to mention a few important bits of information. 

Discounts for Bordeaux’s museums 

The fees that I mention next to every museum represent the full ticket price. But that doesn’t mean you will have to pay that price as there are plenty of discounts in France. The price is usually reduced (or even free in some cases) for students, people under 25 yo, seniors, people with disabilities, unemployed, and people holding the Bordeaux city pass. So it’s always good to check the site of the museum to see if you can get a reduced price. 

Musee des beaux arts in Bordeaux
Musee des beaux arts in Bordeaux

Bordeaux city pass – This pass is a card you can buy online or at the tourist office that allows you to freely use the public transport, visit plenty of museums and enjoy some attractions for a reduced price. This pass is available for 24, 48 or 72 consecutive hours (the prices are 29€, 39€ and 43€ euros respectively). Even the expensive wine museum is there so it’s really worth checking out if you plan to visit a few places and use public transport a lot. You can see all the details and purchase the Bordeaux city pass here
Bordeaux museums pass – this pass is more interesting for people who live here or visit the city on a regular basis. The pass gives you unlimited entry for a year to seven museums in the city. You can see the list of museums and all the details here. The price is 25 € for a single pass and 37,50 € for a couple pass. You can purchase it in any of the museums mentioned in the link above. 
Free Sunday – many of the museums in the city are free on the first Sunday of the month, which includes permanent and temporary exhibitions. 

Now that we’re done with all that let’s get into our artistic mood and start discovering the museums of Bordeaux. 

Wine museums in Bordeaux 

Cité du Vin

The Cité du Vin is one of the most popular attractions on the tourist trail in Bordeaux. In the last couple of years, it has become one of Bordeaux’s most iconic institutions even though it opened its doors only in 2016. The extraordinary building, inspired by the movement of wine swirling in a glass, is 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, culture and knowhow. You will learn about winemaking, 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. The fee of the museum is quite high (20 euros) so if you want to decide if it’s worth the money, you can read my article about my visit to the cite du vin to get a good idea of what to expect.

You can also skip the line and buy the tickets online- click here to purchase the tickets. 

Cite du vin - colors of wine
A fun place even if you don’t like wine
Address: Esplanade de Pontac, 134 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm and Saturday – Sunday and bank and school holidays from 10am to 7pm
Fee: 20€ for adults and 9€ for kids and free for kids under 6 years old. 
The site of the museum: https://www.laciteduvin.com/en

Musée du Vin et du Négoce de Bordeaux

Apart from the Cité du vin, Bordeaux also has another wine museum that is dedicated to Bordeaux’s wine history. Musée du Vin et du Négoce is a small museum, located in what used to be the house of an Irish négociant (wine merchant) in the 18th century. During that time Chartons was the neighborhood of Flemish, Irish and German wine merchants who settled close to the Garonne river in order to export wine to their home countries. Thanks to this museum you can go back in time and see how a typical house of a négociant used to look like. The ground floor was used to store wine and meet the winemakers and potential customers and the top floor was the residence of the family. Throughout your visit you will learn about the evolution of winemaking in Bordeaux during the last three centuries. You will discover old techniques and equipment that were used at the time and the way wine was stored and shipped. It goes into interesting details like the first use of bottles to age wine, the first wine etiquettes and more.

musee du vin et du Négoce bordeaux

This museum is small and not as modern and interactive as the Cité du vin but if you want to learn about the history of the Bordeaux wine region this is the place to go. It ends with a very nice wine tasting session where you get plenty of explanations about the different wine appellations in Bordeaux.
The museum is located in the northern part of rue Notre Dame, one of the most interesting streets in Bordeaux. If you want to know what else you can do on that street and generally in the posh Chartrons neighborhood, go to my article about the Chartrons district

Address: The entrance is from 41 Rue Borie, Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open every day 10:00-18:00
Fee: 10€ (visit and two glasses of wine)
The site of the museum: https://www.museeduvinbordeaux.com/

Art Museums in Bordeaux

Le musée des beaux-arts – fine arts

Le musée des beaux-arts is the main art museum of Bordeaux, known for its large collection of sculptures and paintings from the 16th to the 20th century. The museum owns a huge collection of more than 6000 paintings, 600 sculptures and 3000 drawings. Nevertheless, the museum is quite small and so most of these artworks are not displayed to the public. It’s a very nice museum but it’s quite modest so don’t expect a second Louvre here :). The museum is located in a beautiful house built in 1801 and has one of the most beautiful gardens in Bordeaux. The permanent collection includes a lot of famous works by artists like Pérugin, Rubens, Chardin, Delacroix, and Matisse alongside Bordelaise artists such as Odilon Redon and Albert Marquet. The museum often hosts temporary exhibitions as well as concerts and art events. 

Museums in bordeaux
Address: 20 Cours d’Albret, 33000 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open every day except Tuesday 11:00-18:00
Fee: 5€ , free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August)
The site of the museum: http://www.musba-bordeaux.fr/

Le CAPC – musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux

CAPC is the contemporary art museum of Bordeaux located in the chic Chartrons district. The museum is housed in an impressive former warehouse from the 19th century where commodities, traded down the river, used to be stored. It was planned to be demolished in the 20th century but was saved thanks to a new law protecting houses with historic importance. In 1984 the city decided to transform this unique space into a museum of contemporary art, an idea which was very innovative at the time. In the permanent collection, there are almost 300 works of art and it regularly hosts temporary exhibitions that are dedicated to the history of art. I’ll admit that I’m not always a fan of their exhibitions, having said that, I think the place in itself is very impressive and worth a visit. 

CAPC Bordeaux
CAPC museum in Bordeaux

The museum is also home to the Architecture center “Arc en rêve”, which hosts temporary exhibitions related to urban planning, design, landscaping and more. I usually find their exhibitions super interesting and recommend visiting it when you are at the museum. The center is located on the first floor and is sometimes hard to find, so just ask for help from one of the employees. The entry is free every first Sunday of the month (except July and August).

Address: 7 Rue Ferrere, 33000 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open from Tuesday to Sunday 11:00-18:00. Every second Wednesday of the month the museum in open until 20:00. 
Fee: 7€, free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August)
The site of the museum: http://www.capc-bordeaux.fr/capc

Musée des Art décoratifs et du Design

The museum of decorative art and design is located in a beautiful 18th-century mansion and is one of UNESCO’s heritage sites in Bordeaux. It has a large collection of furniture, porcelain and art objects, dating to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The building itself, named Hotel de Lalande, was built by Pierre- Raymond de Lalande, a counselor of the Parliament of Bordeaux and is an architectural piece of art by itself. Through the museum’s backyard, you pass to a separate building (former stables) where the temporary exhibitions are presented. These are usually very good and attract many locals. If you’re hesitating on whether to spend your time in this museum check out their website for the temporary exhibitions as these alone can be worth the visit. The museum is free every first Sunday of the month, except for July and August. 

Musée des arts décoratifs bordeaux
Musée des arts décoratifs bordeaux
Address: 39 rue Bouffard 33000 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open every day except Tuesday 11:00-18:00
Fee: 5€, free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August)
The site of the museum: https://madd-bordeaux.fr/

La Base Sous Marine

This is one of the most unique places in Bordeaux. Built by the Germans during the Second World War, this old submarine base has been converted into a space dedicated to contemporary art, allowing you to enjoy the space itself no less than the art presented. It can be a bit tricky to find the entrance, so if you come from the la Cité du Vin tram station be sure to walk on rue Lucien Faure before turning right to Boulevard Alfred Daney. Also, if you come with kids, it’s important to know that strollers are not allowed in the exhibition as it’s dark and has a lot of stairs (you will have to leave the stroller next to the entrance). 

Base sous marine - entrance
La Base sous-marine museum in Bordeaux

Starting from April 17, 2020 the museum will go through a huge transformation and the Base Sous-Marine will become the Bassin des Lumières! It currently belongs to the city of Bordeaux and only part of it is occupied by the art exhibitions. However, starting April from next year, it will be run by a private company that is upgrading it to another level. Four big pools (where previously the submarines used to dock) will be used for a spectacular light installation, taking you over the bridges and along the quays of Bassins a flot (the current port of Bordeaux). The downside is that the price is going to be much higher, from its current fee of 5 euros it’s supposed to go to 15 euros per person.

La Base sous-marine is located in the Bacalan neighborhood which is yet another cool place to discover in Bordeaux and I have a whole article about the best things to do there, you can read it here

Address: Boulevard Alfred Daney, 33300 Bordeaux
Opening hours (until April 17. 2020): Open from Tuesday to Sunday 13:30 to 19:00 (only during exhibitions).
Fee: currently 5€ but will change soon, free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August).
The site of the museum: https://www.facebook.com/BasesousmarinedeBordeaux/

Institut Bernard Magrez 

If you’re in for some street art, you’re in the right city! Bordeaux has plenty of amazing local street art to offer. Surprisingly enough, one of the best places to see street art in Bordeaux is located in a beautiful 18th-century mansion called Chateau Labottiere. A cool contrast, isn’t it? The place is called the Institut Bernard Magrez and it regularly hosts exhibitions by the best local and international street artists. The art is beautifully integrated with the classical features of the chateau and is being alternated every couple of months so there is always something interesting to see there. Next to the château, there are two smaller exhibition spaces where amazing exhibitions of paintings, sculpture and photography are hosted on a regular basis so you actually get to see three exhibitions during one visit. The cultural institute also hosts plenty of creative workshops for kids and concerts for adults so check their events list on their site.

Mika Bordeaux
Mika at Institut Bernard Magrez
Address: 16 rue de Tivoli, Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open from Friday to Sunday 13:00 to 18:00 (the museum is often closed for events so it’s always better to call and ask them if they are open before going).
Fee: 8 €, free every first Sunday of the month
The site of the museum: https://www.institut-bernard-magrez.com/

FRAC – local contemporary art 

If you crossed Pont Saint-Jean in the last year or so you must have noticed the new, very modern building that reminds a bit the Arc of La Defense in Paris. This is MECA the Regional Pole of Culture and Creative Economy. It houses many offices that don’t mean much to most people, but there is one place inside that is worth going to if you’re looking to discover new art. FRAC, that sits in MECA is a cultural institution with a mission to promote contemporary art in Nouvelle Aquitaine, hosting several exhibitions of local artists. It has reopened its doors after being closed for two years. The exhibitions are varied and include many genres from photography to painting and sculpture. The works are not always my style but it’s big and you can always find a lot of interesting artists there. 

Address: Corto Maltese, La MÉCA 5 parvis, 33800 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open Tuesday to Saturday and the first Sunday of the month from  13:o0 to 18:30. Every third Thursday of the month the museum is open until 21:00
Fee: It’s an organization that works on contributions so you can pay 1 euro minimum or more if you wish. 
The site of the museum: https://fracnouvelleaquitaine-meca.fr/

Kids Museums in Bordeaux

The Natural History museum 

After years of renovations, the natural history museum of Bordeaux has finally opened its doors in 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. 

kids museums in Bordeaux

I’m not sure that I should’ve put it under the category of kids museums as it’s a fascinating place for everyone. But it’s extremely kids friendly and it has become a go-to place for Bordelais parents, especially when it’s cold or raining outside. If you need more ideas for activities for kids check out my article about 30 things to do with kids in Bordeaux

Address:  5 Place Bardineau, 33000 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open from Tuesday to Sunday. From April to September from 10:30 to 18:00 and from October to March from 10:30 to 17:30. 
Fee: 5€ (7€ when there are temporary exhibitions). Free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August).
The site of the museum: https://www.museum-bordeaux.fr/en/accueil

Cap Sciences

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. It touches upon topics of light, space, time, robots and more and everything is presented in an interactive and approachable way for kids to understand. They normally also have an exhibition that is dedicated to little kids, up to 6 yo, so it’s really great for all ages. All the descriptions are also translated to English so it’s a welcoming place for tourists and locals alike. 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. 

Cap Sciences
by Lost in Bordeaux
Address:  Hangar 20, Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open from Tuesday to Friday from 14:00 to 18:00 and Saturday – Sunday from 14:00 to 19:00. The hours change during school break so check their exact hours on the site. 
Fee: The fee changes according to the exhibitions presented in the museum so check their site for current prices. 
The site of the museum: http://www.cap-sciences.net/

History, culture and others 

Musee d’Aquitaine 

Musée d’Aquitaine is the largest museum in Bordeaux, dedicated to archaeological findings and regional history and ethnology. The museum’s permanent collections span two floors. The first floor is largely dedicated to archaeological findings including tools from the Old Stone and Bronze ages. The other big collection covers the Gallo- Roman period of Bordeaux, with old statues and parts from the original wall that surrounded the city from the 3rd to the 18th centuries. The second floor is dedicated to the 18th century and the modern era of Bordeaux. A big part of the exhibition touches upon the importance of the port and the slave trade that Bordeaux was part of. The exhibition finished with some inspiring videos presenting the big (chances?) of Bordeaux in the last decade and leaves you with a taste to discover more of the city and region. The museum is very rich with information but the first floor is a bit outdated with almost no explanations in English. The second floor somewhat makes up for it with a more modern style of display and many more explanations in English. It also has many videos giving you an idea of how the city looked like in the 18th century, one of the most important centuries in Bordeaux’s history. 

Musee d'Aquitaine Bordeaux

The museum also runs good temporary exhibitions on specific topics related to the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. They often have guided tours in English but their schedule is always changing so it’s better to send them a message on facebook and ask when’s the next one. 

Address:  20 Cours Pasteur, 33000 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open every day except Tuesday 11:00-18:00
Fee:  5€ , free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August)
The site of the museum: http://www.musee-aquitaine-bordeaux.fr/

Musée national des Douanes

This small museum is the national museum of the history of French customs. It’s located in one of the most beautiful buildings in Bordeaux, called the Hôtel des Fermes du Roi on Place de la Bourse, just in front of the water mirror. The exhibition of the museum presents the evolution of the customs administration from ancient to modern times. In the 18th century, it was the local headquarters of the French customs administration in the region, collecting taxes for the king. Through paintings, uniforms, maps and musical instruments the museum allows you to discover the works of one of France’s oldest administrations and their different challenges.

The Musée national des Douanes is a great place for people who are interested in history, especially French one. The fee is only 3 euros so it is worth a visit. 

Address:  1 Place de la Bourse, 33000 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open every day except Tuesday 10:00-18:00
Fee:  3€ , free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August)
The site of the museum: http://www.musee-douanes.fr/

Musée Mer marine

The sea and marine museum is one of the newest museums of Bordeaux, located on the Bassin a flot, the port of Bordeaux in the Bacalan district. As the name suggests the museum is dedicated to the sea world with a remarkable exhibition of boats, sculptures and objects. The permanent exhibition has more than 10,000 sea and marine related objects like navigation instruments, maps and many pieces of art as well. The idea behind it was to create a bridge between the marine and art worlds. Even the building itself is interesting if you like modern architecture. The museum regularly hosts temporary themed exhibitions such as different illustrations by a specific artist, photography and more. The museum is certainly a good place to visit if you’re interested in boats. The entry fee is 14 so I’d also check their website for the temporary exhibitions to see if it’s worth going.

Address: 89 rue des Étrangers, 33300 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Wednesday to Friday  10:30-18:00 and Saturday to Sunday 10:30-19:00
Fee:  14€ 
The site of the museum: https://www.mmmbordeaux.com/en/home/

La Maison de l’Huître

This cute little museum is actually located on the Arcachon bay, but I decided to add it to the list because many people go to Arcachon for a day trip. The museum sits in Port de Larros in Gujan Mestras, the oysters capital of the Arcachon bay. It’s no wonder then that they have decided to dedicate a whole museum to oysters. The permanent exhibition includes a beautiful movie and plenty of items and information about all the techniques of oyster farming and the history of the oyster in our region. The museum is very interactive and fun to visit with kids. They even have a special oyster farming boat made for kids where they can play. If you’re heading to the Bassin d’Arcachon anytime soon, I highly recommend visiting there. 

La Maison de l'Huître arcachon
Address: Rue du Port de Larros, 33470 Gujan-Mestras
Opening hours: September to June from Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 12:30 and from 14:30 to 18:00. July and August, open everyday from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 14:30 to 18:30. 
Fee: 5.9€ for adults and 3.9 for kids (5-14 yo)
The site of the museum: http://www.maison-huitre.fr/

If it’s your first visit to Bordeaux don’t miss my full guide to a weekend in Bordeaux and my article about the most interesting districts in Bordeaux. And if you’re in for a foodie experience check out my foodies tours in Bordeaux 🙂 

Lost in Bordeaux helps you enjoy the city and region in many ways so be sure to follow us on facebook/Instagram for more daily updates on things to do and see. Or better yet, join my newsletter where I share a lot of exclusive info about Bordeaux and the region – sign up here.

*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂 

Chartrons is a super chic neighborhood, located in the north part of the city right after Place des Quinconces. It developed in the 17th century when Flemish, Irish and German wine traders (négociants) have settled beyond the walls of old Bordeaux to export wines to their home countries. So it was basically the “expats” neighborhood of the time. They have built beautiful houses along the riverfront with long warehouses on the first floor where they would store the barrels and bottles of wine before sending them by ship to other countries in Europe.
By the time Chartrons became officially part of Bordeaux in the 19th century, it had already become a flourishing and lively neighborhood. It was a hip bourgeois neighborhood attracting many artists, craftsmen and sailors, the “place to be” of the 19th century if you want 🙂 And while it has lost some of its glory during the 20th century, in the last two decades it was revived into a chic neighborhood with plenty of boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants and museums giving new life to the old warehouses. Today it’s one of the more posh and cool neighborhoods of Bordeaux and you can easily spend a day here when visiting the city. To help you discover it like a local I wrote a list of all the places you should visit and things you can do in the Chartrons district. 

If you want to learn about other neighborhoods in Bordeaux you can also check my guide to the Saint Michel district and my article about things to do in the Bacalan neighborhood. Now let’s discover the chic district of Bordeaux, Chartrons!

Stroll rue des Notre dame – the main street of Chartrons

what to do in Chartrons Bordeaux

Chartrons is one of the biggest districts of Bordeaux, but there’s only one street that’s really the heart and soul of this neighborhood, a street that is one of the “musts” when visiting Bordeaux. Rue Notre Dame is a posh street with plenty of coffee places, trendy boutiques, antique shops and more. You can spend several hours here admiring the beautiful architecture, shopping and trying great pastries. It’s one of the most beautiful streets in Bordeaux with a lot of tiny balconies decorated with planters full of colorful flowers. The perfect street for Instagram addicts 🙂 If you want to discover the foodie side of this street check out my article about the foodie streets of Bordeaux

Discover some of the best pastries in Chartrons

boulangerie rue notre dame bordeaux

Chartrons is home to some of the best boulangeries and patisseries in the city. On rue Notre dame you can find P’tite Boulangerie (Notre-Dame62 Rue Notre Dame), one of the best bakeries in Bordeaux. Continue South on the main street and you’ll find the cutest pastry shop of Chartrons, Micheline et Paulette (21 Rue Notre Dame). If you’re lucky, you may catch their one and only table available so you can stop for a coffee and one of their brilliant cakes or pastries. In other parts of Chartrons, you can find Maison Boileau (11 Rue Camille Godard), which has won the Meilleure boulangerie de France award (best bakery in France) in 2019 in a very popular TV show. Chartron even has the oldest bakery in the city (but more about that later).

Stop for a good cup of coffee

If you’re a coffee lover, another place you’d want to discover is la Pelle Café (29 Rue Notre Dame). The place is owned by Carlos who roasts his coffee on the spot and is a real advocate for quality coffee. It’s a very chic and popular place where both locals and tourists like to stop for a cup of coffee and homemade cakes. Before you enter, take a moment to look at the beautiful building, which used to be an oriental bath in the 19th century. Another good coffee shop that’s worth a visit is the 4e Vague Café (92 Rue Notre Dame) that makes Hawaiian coffee. You can also stop for a cup of tea (or coffee) at Juliena, a cozy Salon de thé with a nice selection of cakes (15 Rue Notre Dame).  

If you want to discover other good coffee places in Bordeaux check out my article about the five coffee places in Bordeaux you don’t want to miss

One of the best spots for shopping in Bordeaux 

shopping in Bordeaux

Bordeaux can be a fun place for shopping but If you’re looking for something more than big retail stores like Zara or H&M, I highly recommend going to the Chartrons district. Here you can find plenty of chic clothing boutiques, beautiful babywear and the coolest accessories. Most of the stores are located on rue Notre dame, here are just a few examples: Do you speak français? (a chic clothing store with a funky name), Nos Minis (the cutest baby wear ever), Coutume store (for anything stylish for your home). 

Look for antiques 

Antiques chartrons Bordeaux

Remember that I’ve told you that many of the houses on the east side of Chartron (the ones that are close to the river ) were originally warehouses where wine was stored? Well, today many of those warehouses are used as big antique shops. More than ten antique and vintage shops can be found on rue Notre dame alone and if you take some time to stroll the little streets around it you’ll find plenty of others. The biggest antique shop is Village Notre Dame (61 rue de Notre dame) which is settled in an old printing bureau. It’s the first antique shop of Aquitaine and it gathers several professional dealers in one huge store. Most of the antique shops on the main street are quite pricey but there are a few places in Chartrons where you can find some bargains. One example is the big hangar named Broc Alain (58 cours de la martinique).  

Every October Chartrons celebrates wine and antiquities with the lively Fête du Vin nouveau & de la Brocante. If you’re in town I highly recommend going to this event.

Learn about the history of Bordeaux wine at the musée du Vin et du Négoce

musee du vin et du Négoce bordeaux

The Cité du Vin is Bordeaux’s famous wine museum but in the Chartrons district, there’s another museum dedicated to the wine of Bordeaux. Musée du Vin et du Négoce is a small museum, located in what used to be a typical house of a négociant (wine trader) in the 18th century. This is the best way to learn how the Bordeaux wine area has developed over the years. It’s not as modern and interactive as the Cité du Vin but if you want to learn about the history of the Bordeaux wine region this is the place to go. It ends with a very nice wine tasting session where you get plenty of explanations about the different wine appellations in Bordeaux. The museum is located in the northern part of rue Notre dame (the entrance is from 41 Rue Borie).  If you also want to continue to the Cité du Vin which is located close to Chartrons, read my article about my visit there

Have a picnic in the central park of Bordeaux

Jardin Public Bordeaux

Jardin Public, the central park of Bordeaux, is technically not a part of the Chartrons district but one of the entrances is on Course de Verdun, one of the main streets of Chartrons. It’s a beautiful park with vast green planes, a lake with ducks and geese and plenty of different facilities for kids. On a hot day, it’s a perfect spot for a picnic, just don’t forget to buy a bottle of wine before heading there 🙂 

If you want to discover other perfect spots for picnics go to my article about the best picnic places in Bordeaux

Discover one of the foodie streets of Bordeaux – Cours Portal

Cours Portal is not a very charming street but it definitely deserves a visit if you’re interested in food. It’s a long street with most of the good boutiques located close to Place du Marché des Chartrons. Here you have several good cheese shops and specialty shops for local products. If you like to make quality coffee at home, check out Café refuge, a coffee specialty shop. The coffee roaster machinery there is really impressive! Like every foodie street, Cours Portal has its own little patissier, named Taupy (19 Cours Portal). If you’re a foodie, don’t miss this street. 

Have a delicious meal in one of the restaurants in Chartrons

Chartrons is one of the most gastronomic spots in the city with dozens of restaurants to try. Many of the good ones are located in the center, on rue Notre dame, place du marché des Chartrons or the little streets surrounding it. If you want an even nicer scenery go to the quai (river banks), where you can find plenty of good restaurants with tables facing the Garonne river. Two of my favorite restaurants in Chartron are located exactly there: Pastel on 2 Quai des Chartrons and Symbiose on 4 Quai des Chartrons.

Discover the oldest boulangerie in Bordeaux

Au Pétrin Moissagais the oldest bakery in Bordeaux

Au Pétrin Moissagais on 72 Cours de la Martinique is the oldest bakery in Bordeaux, established in 1765. Serge, the baker and owner of the place, is very proud of his Gascognian traditions and still makes the original Gascognian white bread in the 18th-century oven. And yes, it’s the same oven since the opening of the boulangerie (bakery), some 24 years before the French revolution!. Don’t be shy if you want to take photos of the oven, Serge will happily show you around. The bakery has a completely different look and feel compared to a standard French bakery, it really feels like you’ve gone back in time to the 18th century. Don’t miss a visit there when in the neighborhood. 

Visit the local market

marche des quais Chartrons

There are several food markets taking place in Chartrons at different days of the week. The biggest and most famous market takes place every Sunday morning on Quai des Chartrons. It’s a very popular market with dozens of food stalls selling everything from fresh fruits, cheese, pastries and oysters. 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 fresh local products you can buy at the market it’s simply a very nice spot to have an early lunch or a plate of oysters with white wine if you want to feel like a local. A much smaller version of that market takes place at the same spot every Thursday morning. During the week you can also go to the covered market on Place des Chartrons, which is open every morning from Tuesday to Saturday. 

Visit Church Saint Louis

Eglise Saint Louis Chartrons Bordeaux

Eglise Saint Louis is the main church of Chartrons, a gothic-revival church built in the 19th century on the remains of the former chapel of the Chartreux (a religious brotherhood, Chartrons is named after). This church is largely ignored by tourists in Bordeaux as it’s located outside of the city center, but it’s worth a visit especially thanks to its beautiful stained-glass windows. It’s located on rue Notre dame, so it’ll be hard to miss. 

Go to the contemporary art museum

The contemporary art museum of Bordeaux (CAPC) is located right on the southern edge of the neighborhood. TheCAPC is worth visiting even if you are not a big fan of contemporary arts. The museum is housed in an old wool warehouse where commodities, traded down the river, used to be stored. What makes it special is the combination of modern art with the old architecture of the building. In the permanent collection, there are almost 300 works of art and it regularly hosts temporary exhibitions. I admit that I’m not always a fan of their exhibitions but I think the place in itself is very impressive.  Open from Tuesday to Sunday 11:00-18:00.

Explore the street art 

le MUR - street art Bordeaux

The street art scene in Bordeaux is blooming. You can find quite a few extraordinary works of local artists on many of Bordeaux’s buildings. One of the most interesting spots for street art is actually located here in Chartrons. Le M.U.R (the wall) of Bordeaux (located on 2 Place Paul) is a 35m2 wall where local street artists can express their art. Every month or so a different artist is invited to paint on the wall and you can come and watch them do it live. This event is usually published on their Facebook page, you can check it out here. The works are always usually amazing and worth the walk.

Discover the kids Science museum of Bordeaux

Cap Sciences Bordeaux

If you’re looking to occupy your kids in Bordeaux, Cap Science is a great option and it’s located here in Chartrons, on the promenade at the northern part of the district. This cool kids science museum proposes interactive exhibitions and activities all dedicated to different aspects of science. The museum is located at Hangar 20, Quai de Bacalan.

For other stuff to do with kids in Bordeaux check out my list of 30 things to do with kids in Bordeaux

Wave Surf Café

Another cool place in Bordeaux for both kids and adults is the Wave Surf Café, the first coffee shop where you can also 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. If you’re in Bordeaux for just a few days and have no time to go to the ocean, this can replace your surfing experience  (although real surfers will probably disagree with me here 🙂 ). For more details click here.

Sing Karaoke

For all of you wannabe singers, Chartrons has recently welcomed the biggest Karaoke bar in town, called BAM Karaoke Box. The bar offers private Karaoke rooms for 6 to 15 people for blocks of two hours. The place is designed in a central American style with every room having a different theme. If you’re a group of friends this could be a fun way to finish your day in the Chartrons neighborhood. For more details click here. 

Shop in the Hangars – Quai des Marques

quai of Bordeaux

If you’re really craving more shopping there’s another place in Chartrons you can go to. Les Hangars on the promenade are old warehouses converted into a shopping center with plenty of shops and restaurants. It’s not my favorite spot to eat but sometimes when the weather is really good I do sit there for lunch as the view on the river is just stunning. You have a decent amount of shops to visit but it’s mainly different chains rather than small boutiques. The center is called Quai des Marques and it’s located on 15-19 Quai des Chartrons. 

Check out what’s happening in Hangar 14

To the north of the shopping center, you will find Hangar 14 – a venue that frequently hosts different events like wine fairs, creators’ markets and more. I usually publish these events in my weekend posts but if you’re passing by, don’t hesitate to take a sneak peek to see if there’s anything interesting going on.

There are plenty of cool bars and boutiques in Chartrons so I could continue talking about it all day long but I think I’ve intrigued you enough to make you go and visit this chic neighborhood. Hope I helped you discover some hidden spots in Bordeaux that you didn’t know about :). 

If it’s your first visit to Bordeaux don’t miss my full guide to a weekend in Bordeaux and my article about the most interesting districts in Bordeaux. And if you’re in for a foodie experience check out my foodies tours in Bordeaux 🙂 

Lost in Bordeaux helps you enjoy the city and region in many ways so be sure to follow us on facebook/Instagram for more daily updates on things to do and see. Or better yet, join my newsletter where I share a lot of exclusive info about Bordeaux and the region – sign up here.

Wine enthusiasts don’t need an introduction to Saint Emilion. The small wine appellation (comprising only 6% of the vineyards in the Bordeaux denomination ) has long gained a reputation as one of the greatest wine regions in the world. It’s no wonder it attracts more than a million tourists every year. However, when many visitor plan their day trip to Saint Emilion they don’t realize it’s also one of the most beautiful and fascinating villages in the Southwest of France, registered as a heritage site by UNESCO. 

For many decades this picturesque town has been an economic and religious center attracting royals, winegrowers and pilgrims. Every square in the small village center is packed with history and some incredible architecture. Thousands of hectares of vines surround the medieval village making the landscape an unforgettable scenery. And so, many tourists arriving to Bordeaux become overwhelmed when trying to construct their own trip. In this article, my goal is to tell you about all there’s to do and see in Saint Emilion, where to eat and how to get there. While you can still take guided tours, I hope this complete guide to Saint Emilion will make you want to do it by yourself and at your own pace. If you still prefer to take a guided tour, I have a few to recommend, so you can continue reading or go directly to my article on how to get to Saint Emilion (with or without a tour).

day trip to Saint Emilion
Saint Emilion from above by lost in Bordeaux

I previously published an article about the best wineries to visit in Saint Emilion so you can skip all my explanations about the city center and jump straight to wine tasting if you wish, simply click here

What to do and see in Saint Emilion

A little touch of history

Saint Emilion has an integral part in the history of Bordeaux and the region. The history of wine in Saint Emilion (or Ascumbas as it was called back then) can be traced to the 3rd century BC, when the Romans planted the first vines in the region. It originally had a mere 200 hectares dedicated to vineyards, clearly not the wine empire it is today. 

In the 8th century, a monk named Emilian arrived to the little village in search of a quiet simple life and decided to make it his home. He lived in a little cave, receiving the many followers who traveled all the way to Saint Emilion to get his blessing. That’s actually how the village received its name, Saint Emilion. In the following decades, many religious orders would follow the steps of the monk and move to Saint Emilion to build their churches and convents, which explains the abundance of religious buildings in such a small village. The city became an important landmark for many of the pilgrims following the Camino de Santiago pilgrim way to Spain. The cave of Saint Emilion inspired the construction of the most impressive monument of Saint Emilion, the monolithic church. 

In the middle ages, during the 300 years of British rule, Saint Emilion was an autonomous city with a lot of financial and governmental power. In 1199 the British king established the Jurade, a group of magistrates governing the city. In return for the economic and political autonomy, the British received in return the best wines of Saint Emilion. That’s how the wine of Saint Emilion become so popular in England. 

The rich history of this little town left many traces in the city center. Many books have been written about its historic monuments, but here I want to share with you a few places that are in my opinion a must on your day trip to Saint Emilion. 

Take a tour to discover the underground of Saint Emilion 

Probably the most famous monument of Saint Emilion is the 12th-century Monolithic church that as its name suggests is carved from one stone. It’s the largest Monolithic church in Europe and it’s construction required the extraction of 15 000 mof stone. When looking at its modest front, it’s hard to imagine how big it is from the inside. I saw many pictures of the Monolithic church before going to Saint Emilion for the first time but I was still amazed when I saw this masterpiece firsthand. 

As it’s a preserved site, to visit the church you will need to take the tour proposed by the tourist office. I know that many people are not big fans of guided tours but this one is really worth it. During the tour, you get to also visit other underground sites which tell some of the history of the city. Apart from the church itself, you will visit the catacombs, where the important people of Saint Emilion used to be buried in the middle ages. You will get to sit on a fertility chair in the original cave of Saint Emilion (according to the tourist office many babies have been born following this ritual) and to see the impressive paintings on the 14th century Chapelle de la Trinité.

Two English tours are offered two times a day. At 11:00 you can take a general tour in Saint Emilion which ends with the underground tour. While the 14:00 tour is dedicated only to the underground sites. Times may change according to the season. See more details on the official tourist office page. 

The bell tower of the Monolithic church. 

While the church itself is well hidden in the rock, its bell tower is standing tall and can be seen from every spot in the city. If you’re interested in architecture, the tower is a fascinating monument by itself, built in both Romanesque and gothic styles. You can climb the bell tower and see a magnificent view of Saint Emilion from the highest point in the city.

The Collegiate church

The Collegiate church is a beautiful monument built between the 12th and 15th centuries and you can visit it all by yourself, without taking a tour. Here again, you can see an interesting mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles, reflecting the long period of its construction. The west door of the church was built in a pure Romanesque style during the 12th century while the north door is a Gothic one from the 14th century. It’s located behind the tourist office and you can enter it through one of the two doors or through its beautiful cloister. If you pay close attention to the walls of the cloister you will see quite a lot of interesting items such as graves, statues and even a little dragon. 

La tour du Roy

The 13th century King’s Keep is one of the most famous military architecture monuments in Gironde. There’s still a debate between historians on who ordered its constructions but one thing is sure, it’s a beautiful monument well worth a visit. It’s also a great spot to see the view of the vineyards of Saint Emilion. The tower is open daily for visits, consult the opening hours and prices here

Les Cordeliers – drink sparkling wine in an old cloister

Red wine is not the only famous product of Saint Emilion, you can surprisingly find also one sparkling wine as well, called Cremant de Bordeaux. The producer of the sparkling wine sits in a beautiful old cloister that is worth a visit even if you’re not a fan of bubbly wine. The Cordeliers cloister was established in the 14th century by the Franciscan brothers. For several centuries that’s where they used to live, pray and grow vegetables in their beautiful garden. Most of the building was destroyed during the French Revolution and was later sold to private owners. In the 19th century, the new owners of the place decided to use the enormous underground galleries to produce and store sparkling wine.

Today the production has moved to a remote location but they still store their bottles in the caves underneath the cloister and they offer daily tours where you get to visit the caves and taste the sparkling wine of Saint Emilion. Although the tour is nice, it’s not a must unless you really want to see the underground galleries. 

They also have a nice bar outdoors where you can grab a glass of Cremant de Bordeaux (the sparkling white or rosé) together with a picnic basket and sit in the beautiful garden. For more details about the tours and the history of the place click here
Address: 2 Bis Rue de la Porte Brunet, 33330 Saint-Émilion

Enjoy the vibes of the Local markets

The markets in the Southwest of France are a treat so visiting at least one should always be on your list. The market in Saint Emilion takes place every Wednesday and Sunday between 8 am and 1 pm in the city center. It’s a nice small market that can give you a little taste of how a typical French village market looks like. However, if you want to experience a real big regional market with tens of stands of local cheese, wine, charcuterie, oysters and more you must visit the Libourne market that takes place every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Libourne is located just a few minutes drive from Saint Emilion so it’s really in the neighborhood. 

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If you’re about to visit Bordeaux on your trip, don’t miss a chance to visit Bordeaux’s main market, Marché des Capucins. It’s truly one of the liveliest markets in France and a great place to try local food. There are plenty of restaurants at the market and you can read about the best ones in my article about where to eat at the Capucins market. 

Night market

Like many small villages in the area, Saint Emilion holds a weekly night market during the summer months. The market takes place at Parc Guadet and has a very fun local vibe to it. Every year it attracts many tourists and locals to enjoy the best local food and concerts. If you arrive to Saint Emilion in July-August you can get all the details about the night market in the tourist office. 

Try regional sweets 

macarons of Saint Emilion

If you’re tired of wandering around soaking history and sipping wine it’s time to stop for some local sweets! Yes, the Bordeaux region has special sweets that you can’t find anywhere else in France and one of them is coming straight from Saint Emilion. Did you know that the original Macaron was actually born in Saint Emilion? The macaroons of Saint Emilion are produced there since 1620 when the Ursulines sisters established their convent in the village. The recipe is being passed from generation to generation and hasn’t been changed ever since. You can get a box of macarons at the little sweets shop “Fabrique de macarons” ( Address: 9 rue Guadet). Or have a cup of tea with a great variety of local sweets and pastries at Au Parvis des Thés, a nice coffee shop, located behind the tourist office. Address: 1 Place Pioceau, 33330 Saint-Émilion

If you want to learn more about the macarons and other Bordeaux sweet specialties go to my article about the sweets of Bordeaux

The Saint Emilion wine route – visiting wineries 

How to visit wineries in Saint Emilion 

We’re finally getting to the topic most visitors come for – how to visit the wine chateaux of Saint Emilion. If you just want to drive around the Saint Emilion area and taste and buy some wine directly from the wineries, it’s quite straightforward. Many of them will happily welcome you to the chateau and will happily let you taste their wine. However, if you’re interested in a tour (even a basic one), you usually have to either make and appointment or book online. So it will require some communication on your part, but I highly recommend visiting at least one chateau when in the region. 

best wineries in Saint Emilion

Here’s a good tip for those of you who don’t like to plan and would just love to visit a few properties. The tourist office in Saint Emilion publishes a list of two to four chateaux on a daily basis that are open for a visit without prior reservation. It allows you to be both spontaneous and to discover some wine chateaux you may have never heard of. You can see the daily list of wine chateaux here

Having said that, I know that most people traveling such a long distance to the southwest of France would love to know ahead what chateaux are the best ones to visit. There are more than 130 wine producers in the great Saint Emilion area, many of which are open to visitors. So obviously choosing only one or two is not easy. But as I had the chance to visit many chateaux in Saint Emilion in the last two years, I’ve gathered a list of some of the best wineries to visits in Saint Emilion. This list is very limited and surely there are many other excellent wineries in the region but I found those to be particularly friendly and interesting to visitors. At least half of my list is dedicated to small family estates rather than big wineries owned by big companies. I personally prefer this kind of visits as they feel more personal and allow you to discover the passion and history stretching several generations of winegrowers in one family. 

Château Cantenac in Saint Emilion
Château Cantenac by lost in Bordeaux

Most of the winery owners and their employees speak English so contacting them should not be a problem. However, If you don’t want the hassle of contacting the chateaux you can always book a visit through Rue des Vignerons

Discover the Pomerol Appellation 

If you’re really passionate about wine I would also recommend discovering the luxurious neighbor of Saint Emilion, the Pomerol Appellation. It’s located very close to Saint Emilion but is considered a separate wine area and while it’s one the most prestigious appellations in the area, it’s not included in the official classification from 1855. It’s the smallest wine appellation in the Bordeaux wine region, covering roughly 800 hectares of vines.
Chateau Petrus is the most famous one in Pomerol. Unfortunately, most of us cannot visit this chateau as they are open only to wine professionals and honestly, most people can’t afford it either. But there are several Pomerol wineries who will be more than happy to welcome you to their estate. The most impressive one, in my opinion, is Chateau Beauregard with the most impressive wine tanks I’ve ever seen. Another one I really like is the smaller family-owned Chateau Bel Air.

Visit wineries in Bordeaux Chateau Beauregard in Pomerol
Chateau Beauregard in Pomerol

Even if you don’t have the time to visit a winery in Pomerol you can still taste it in one of the wine shops in Saint Emilion. It’s really a great wine so I strongly recommend it. Many call it a ladies wine because it’s easier to drink than a Saint Emilion, but don’t say that to a Pomerol producer, they don’t like that label 🙂 

Taking a guided tour to Saint Emilion 

While I believe that Saint Emilion is a great trip to do on your own, I know that many visitors love to take guided tours. So for those of you who would rather not drive in France or just don’t want to spend time planning their visit, here are a few recommended tours that will take you from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion. 

  • This is one of the most popular half-day tours from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion. Besides the ride to Saint Emilion from Bordeaux the tour also includes several wine tastings and a visit to two wine chateaux which for many people is plenty for one day. The price is €94 per person. You can find all the details of the tour and book directly here.
  • This is a half-day tour in Saint Emilion with a visit to one winery for € 75 per person. It’s rather intimate as they book small groups meaning you get to actually listen and ask questions. You can check out the details and get your ticket here.
  • A full day trip from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion, visiting three different chateaux at € 125 per person. This is a great option if you want to see different techniques of winemaking and taste different wines from the same area. You can see all the details and get your ticket here.
  • One of the cheapest tour options (€ 42 per person) is a half-day trip to Saint Emilion leaving on Wednesdays and Sundays that also includes a visit to a chateau. The downside is that these groups are quite big so don’t expect an intimate experience. See all the details and get your tickets here.

What to eat in Saint Emilion 

The village of wine must take itself seriously when it comes to gastronomy and indeed there are dozens of great restaurants in Saint Emilion. Nevertheless, as I already mentioned, Saint Emilion is a very popular tourist destination which means that there are plenty of tourist traps to watch out from. Also, it’s crucial to make reservations in advance! Most of the good restaurants are booked so avoid trying to enjoy a spontaneous meal there. I gathered a shortlist of good restaurants in Saint Emilion, which includes both high-end gastronomic institutions and more simple but very good restaurants.

Logis de la Cadene – I dare say that this one Michelin star restaurant is the most praised restaurant in Saint Emilion. If you’re celebrating a special event or just want to have a culinary treat, this is the place for you.
Address: 3 Place du Marché au Bois, 33330 Saint-Émilion

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L’Envers du Décor – It’s the first wine bar in Saint Emilion that became one of the best restaurants in town. The place is a bit pricey but the food and the overhaul experience are worth it. Plus, they have a nice little garden which is super fun when it gets warm. It’s currently owned by the Perse family, the owner of the famous Château Pavie so perfect wine matching won’t be a problem. The restaurant is open daily. The address is 11 Rue du Clocher, 33330 Saint-Émilion

Delices du Roy – a delicious menu of local cuisine with a more relaxed atmosphere than many of the other restaurants in Saint Emilion. One of their trademark dishes is the duck burger. Address:1 Rue de la Porte Bouqueyre, 33330 Saint-Émilion

L’huitrier-pie – a creative restaurant with great food. It feels very fancy but the prices are not too high compared to the more expensive restaurants in Saint Emilion. Address: 11 Rue de la Porte Bouqueyre, 33330 Saint-Émilion

Comptoir des Arts – If you don’t want to spend a lot of money or just prefer a light lunch head to Comptoir des Arts. This small little restaurant serves nice quiches and salads at very reasonable prices. The restaurant is located at the very pleasant Cour des Arts in the center of Saint Emilion. 

Chateau de Candale – If you want to take full advantage of the wine region you can have lunch between the vineyards. Chateau de Candale has a nice gastronomic restaurant in their wine chateau and you can even combine it with a great wine tour. Click here to book a wine tour in Chateau de Candale.

Attend some of the best events in Saint Emilion 

Saint Emilion is a small but very lively town with plenty of events taking place throughout the year. This wine region celebrates everything from wine to gastronomy to Jazz music so check out if there’s an event lining up with your planned trip. I write monthly and weekly posts about the events taking place in and around Bordeaux (including Saint Emilion) so all the events will eventually appear on my blog. But here are just a few of the major ones:

The open doors in Saint Emilion – a weekend at the beginning of May when tens of wineries open their chateaux and welcome the public for free tours, wine tastings, exhibitions, concerts and more. 

Saint Emilion Jazz festival – The Saint Emilion Jazz festival is one of the biggest music festivals in the region taking place at the end of July. Plenty of local and international Jazz bands arrive to Saint Emilion to celebrate music and good wine. 

Montgolfiades de Saint-Emilion – a hot air balloon festival taking place every year in October above the vineyards of Saint Emilion. This event is absolutely stunning!

saint emilion hot air balloon
Saint Emilion hot air balloon festival

Ban des Vendanges – a ceremony taking place on the King’s Keep in September, officially starting the harvest season in Saint Emilion. 

What’s the best time to come to Saint Emilion 

Let’s start with when not to come to Saint Emilion! try to avoid coming at the beginning of April as it’s the primeur week. The En Primeur way of buying wine is very common in Bordeaux thus most wineries are busy with hosting wine traders and won’t have time to offer you a tour. Also, once in two years in June, Bordeaux hosts one of the biggest wine events in the world – Vinexpo, meaning that many wineries will send their staff to the expo and will welcome only a minimal amount of tourists. The next one is about to take place in June 2021. Also, avoid coming to Saint Emilion in the last week of December and the first week of January. While many wineries stay open for visits even during the winter, in those two weeks you will have a hard time finding an open chateau. Don’t forget that many of the wine estates employ only a small number of people and these usually leave for their Christmas vacation. 

day trip to Saint Emilion
cute little shops in Saint Emilion

Is Summer a good time to visit Saint Emilion?

Generally, summer is a good time to visit the Southwest of France and the Bordeaux area in particular. It’s the official tourist season and most places are open and offering you a world of activities and adventures in this lovely area. On the other hand, arriving in August, the most touristic month, can also be a disadvantage. Saint Emilion is one of the most popular destinations meaning that during the summer it gets packed with tourists flooding its narrow streets. Even getting a simple lunch in the city center can become a real hassle. And while the big chateaux are all open for daily tours some of the small family-owned chateaux can close their wineries for a few weeks in August. I’m not discouraging you from coming in August of course but I want you to be prepared. If there’s a particular winery you’d like to visit, contact them in advance. And most importantly, book your lunch and dinner in advance as well or else a homemade sandwich might be your only friend in August 🙂 

When is the best time to come to Saint Emilion?

In my opinion, the best time to come is from Mid April to July and then in September through October. May and June are excellent months for a visit as all the tourist attractions are open for the summer season but it’s not too crowded yet. September and October are the magical harvest season and if you’re interested in wine it’s something you wouldn’t want to miss. 

harvest time in Saint Emilion
harvest time in Saint Emilion

How to get to Saint Emilion

My directions here mostly focused on people coming from Bordeaux for a day trip. I will just mention that the two closest airports to Saint Emilion are the Bordeaux airport in Merignac and the little airport in Bergerac. 

How do you get from the center of Bordeaux to Saint Emilion

Saint Emilion is one of the easiest destinations to get to from Bordeaux as there’s a direct train from Gare Saint-Jean (Bordeaux’s main train station) to Saint Emilion. The station in Saint Emilion is located about 15-20 minutes walk from the city center. If you want to know in detail about the train’s time schedule, where to buy tickets and how to get a transport from the station to the city center, read my article about how to get from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion

Nonetheless, if your day trip to Saint Emilion includes a visit to more distant wineries I do recommend coming with a car. 

Where to park in Saint Emilion?

There’s the free parking lot of the Gendarmerie (police station). However, this parking is often full on busy days in which case you can leave your car at the free parking next to the train station. There are also several paid parking lots (about 2 euros/hour): around the collegiate church (the upper town) and Place Bouqueyre (bottom town). 

Where to stay in Saint Emilion

I know that many visitors go to Saint Emilion only for a day trip but consider staying a night in the medieval beautiful city as it can really be a beautiful experience. Here are a few recommended hotels for those who decide to stay in Saint Emilion.

Logis de la Cadene

This is one of the most recommended hotels in the center of Saint Emilion. The hotel, with an amazing view of the historic center, has a warm and elegant design to it. And as I mentioned above it also has one of the best restaurants in town. Book it here

Hostellerie de Plaisance 

One of the most luxurious and beautiful hotels in the center of Saint Emilion. The hotel is located just next to the Monolithic Church of Saint Emilion and offers a magical panoramic view of the medieval village and the vineyards. Book it here.

Les Chambres d’Ovaline

Les Chambres d’Ovaline is a cozy and beautiful B&B located a few minutes walk from the center of Saint Emilion. The rooms are beautifully designed and you can enjoy your breakfast in their cute garden. It’s also much more affordable than the other options in Saint Emilion. Book a room here

Château Hôtel Grand Barrail

where to stay in saint emilion

A luxury hotel located in the middle of the vineyards a few km from the center of Saint Emilion. The hotel has a pool and a SPA facility as well as a gastronomic restaurant. This is a great place if you’re looking for a more isolated vacation. Book it here

Le Relais de Franc Mayne Saint Emilion

A magical B&B with the most beautiful view on the vineyards of Saint Emilion. The rooms are quite spacious and beautifully decorated. To book a room click here.

Bleu Raisin

If you don’t mind driving a bit, this cute B&B is located in an old wine farm, about 14 km from the center of Saint Emilion. Their price is really great and the setting is quite amazing. Book a room here

I know that this article was very long so if you got to the end, “Bravo” as the French say. Here are a few other articles you’ll find useful when traveling to the area.

If you’re planning to visit Bordeaux you can follow my guide to a weekend in Bordeaux or my post about what to do in one day in Bordeaux.

If you want to discover other wine areas in the Bordeaux region read my article about two days in the Medoc region. Also, check out my article about day trips from Bordeaux

Hope you find this article helpful! If you do, please share it with your friends!

*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂 

With the highest number of restaurants per person in France, Bordeaux is heaven for foodies. If you find youreself hungry in this city, finding a place to eat will be an easy task 🙂 However, food specialty boutiques selling cheese, chocolate or products from the southwest of France are not as easy to find as one might think. I receive many messages from both tourists and locals asking me about the best streets for foodies, and hidden places where they could find specialty products that aren’t available at the supermarket.

Luckily that is exactly the research I had to do when I was building my food tours. I spend several days simply strolling the streets of Bordeaux, looking for those special places I can take my tourists to. Today I want to share some of these foodie secrets with you! In this article, I gathered a list of my favorite foodie streets in Bordeaux. Here you will find the best patisseries, specialty chocolate places, quality coffee, cute little cheese shops and more. So if you’re in a discovery mode, join me for a foodie ride in the streets of Bordeaux! 

Foodie streets at the historic center of Bordeaux

rue des Remparts

Rue des remparts
Stop for cheese and wine – Rue des Remparts

Let’s start with one of my favorite foodie streets in Bordeaux center- rue des Remparts, located just next to the city hall of Bordeaux. At first glance, it looks like many other streets in this district full of fashionable boutiques and art galleries, but it’s actually one of the richest gastronomical streets in Bordeaux. As you climb the street heading north you’ll pass by plenty of specialty shops, many of which are focused on a specific local product. There are two great chocolate shops on this street. The first one is Mademoiselle de Margaux which sells specialty chocolates from Margaux located in the Medoc wine region and the other is a famous chocolate shop from Bayonne – l’Atelier de Bayonne. You’ll also find a fancy cheese shop (Chez Delphine) where you can stop for some wine and cheese (the best thing to do when in Bordeaux). Besides that, there are quite a few interesting shops you should keep an eye on, among them Pierre Oteiza with their Basque charcuterie and Noisettines du Médoc with their nut products from Medoc as well as Oliviers & Co, an olive oil shop. 

Rue de la Vieille Tour

Once you finish rue des Remparts you’ll see the beautiful Porte Dijeaux on your left. Continue straight into another magical street that you might have missed when strolling the city – rue de la Vieille Tour. Until a few years ago rue de la Vieille Tour was just a quiet back street in the Hotel de Ville neighborhood. Today many people know it thanks to the presence of one of the best coffee shops in Bordeaux – l’Alchimiste. Just in front of the coffee place sits the second star of this street, the dunes blanches. This pastry was born a few years ago in Cap Ferret and was since embraced by the locals as a proper Bordelais pastry. I often stop there on my food tours and peoples’ reaction to the yummy cream-filled pastries never disappoints :).  On the same little street, you can find two of the best chocolate shops in Bordeaux, Hasnaa Chocolat grand cru and La Maison Darricau. If you’re in the mood for a good homemade cake and tea don’t miss the cozy Mona cafe. 

Mona Cafe Bordeaux
Mona Cafe by Lost in Bordeaux

If you want to discover other great coffee shops in Bordeaux, check out my article about the five coffee places you don’t want to miss

Rue des Trois Conils

The next street on my list is still in the Hotel de Ville neighborhood but this time we’re heading towards the river on Rue des Trois Conils. I find this street a bit less charming than rue des Remparts but it’s no less interesting when it comes to food. In just two minutes’ walk, you’ll find two great chocolate shops (Yves Thuriès and Jeff de Bruges), a delicious Spanish ham place (Viandas de Salamanca), a chic canned products shop (Conserverie la belle-iloise) and more. It’s even more attractive if you love cooking or baking as there are two big cooking shops in the middle of the street, my favorite is Alice Delice. One of the most interesting boutiques on this street is La Trinitaine Biscuiterie. Here you can find plenty of traditional local sweet specialties like cookies and chocolate that are not easy to find in the center of Bordeaux. One such example is the Bouchon de Bordeaux, you can read more about this and other local desserts in my article about the sweets of Bordeaux

foodie street in Bordeaux
a chocolate shop on rue trois conils

Le marché des Grands Hommes

The triangle d’Or district in the center of Bordeaux is probably one of the most attractive areas in the city when it comes to foodie boutiques. Here you can find some of the best wine shops and a number of lucrative chocolate boutiques. For example, just next to the Opera, on allee de Tourny, you will find l’Intendant, a shop that earned the name “the wine library of Bordeaux” due to its wide selection of local wine. Just a few steps from there, don’t miss the oldest chocolate shop in Bordeaux, Cadiot Badie. 

In my opinion, however, the best foodie places are located on one of the narrow streets surrounding the marché des Grands Hommes, notably, rue Michel Montaigne. If you’re a patisserie snob, you’re likely to find one of the best patissiers on this street. David Capy is one of the best chocolatiers- patissiers in Bordeaux, and a visit there should not be missed. That is also the street I take people who join my food tours for cheese tastings. The shop is called Beillevaire and I especially like it as it’s both a shop and a cheese producer. 

More foodie spots around Bordeaux

Rue Fondaudège

Rue Fondaudège
Rue Fondaudège by lost in Bordeaux

I bet that most of you visiting Bordeaux for a short period of time have never heard of rue Fondaudège but it’s actually one of the rising stars in Bordeaux. After several years of tram works this street finally got the spotlight it deserves. It’s a long busy street, very different from the cozy streets of the center of Bordeaux, and it’s quite easy to miss all the interesting food shops on it. But if food is your thing, it’s worth taking a few minutes to walk from the city center just to discover this street. Here’s just a short list of some of the specialty shops on this street: Chocolaterie Lalère, if you want a hot chocolate; Aux dix vin, a great little cheese shop; Perrin, a very good bakery and Original US, a shop of American products (a lot of candies 🙂 ). One of my favorite secret spots on this street is a little coffee place named Eriu. Apparently, other expats love it as well as you can often spot some English speakers ordering their scones there. 

Rue Notre Dame

If you’ve been to Bordeaux for more than two days, most chances are that you have visited this street. Rue Notre Dame in the Chartron district is a stylish street full of boutiques, antique shops and restaurants but it’s especially attractive for foodies. La P’tite Boulangerie Notre-Dame, one of Bordeaux’s best bakeries is located just in front of the church, you will easily spot it by the long queue. A little pastry shop I especially love is Micheline et Paulette – they have a very small selection of cakes but they are all excellent and the place is super cute. If you want to stop for a cup of coffee don’t miss la Pelle cafe. Check also la Conserverie which will introduce you to a variety of local products and wines. The atmosphere in this place is great and they’re not closing after lunch which is unusual for Bordeaux. 

Notre dame street and the central square next to it are full of specialty boutiques and good restaurants so one paragraph will not be enough to cover all of them. You have two choices, go and discover it for yourself or wait for my article about the Chartrons district coming up soon 🙂

Cours Portal

Cours Portal is not a very charming street but it definitely deserves a visit if you’re interested in food. It’s a long street but most of the good boutiques are located close to Place du Marché des Chartrons. Remember Beillevaire, the cheese shop I’ve mentioned before? Here you can find their second boutique in Bordeaux. Another good cheese shop is La Fromagerie de Pierre, visit both for the variety.  If you like to make quality coffee at home, check out Café refuge, a coffee specialty shop. The coffee roaster machinery there is really impressive! Like every foodie street, Cours Portal has its own little patissier, named Taupy. One of the more interesting places on rue Portal is Gastronomie Des Pyrénées, a specialty shop offering products from the southwest of France. 

foodie street in Bordeaux
Café refuge on Cours Portal

Marché des Capucins

Although my list includes only streets and not markets in Bordeaux, I had to add the place all foodies in Bordeaux fall for. Marché des Capucins is the ultimate place to go to if you want to explore the food of the Southwest of France. At the market, you have three-cheese shops where you can buy a variety of French cheeses. If you’re looking for a place to taste oysters while in Bordeaux, Chez Jean Me is definitely the place to go to. While on weekdays the atmosphere at the Capucins market is very chill, on weekends many more merchands are coming to sell their produce at the market. The central part gets completely covered with little stands of basque cheese, locally grown fruits and vegetables and plenty of local pastries such as the famous canelés and basque cakes in many flavors. There’s one local pastry in the market you shouldn’t miss called Puits d’amour by Maison Seguin. This little ‘well of love’ will keep you happy all morning 🙂 If you want to read more about sweet local specialties I invite you to read this article about my favorite sweets in Bordeaux. If you want to learn more about the market, check out my article about the best places to eat at Marché des Capucins

Marche des Capucins Bordeaux
Marche des Capucins by Lost in Bordeaux

I’m sure that many of you are familiar with other boutiques in Bordeaux where you can find fine cheese and delicious pastries. In this article, I focused on streets with a high concentration of shops selling products that will allow you to discover the gastronomic side of Bordeaux. If you know other streets and interesting specialty shops in Bordeaux, please share them with us in the comments below. 

Is it your first time in Bordeaux? If it is you should definitely check out my ultimate guide to Bordeaux to get familiar with all the must-see places in Bordeaux. To help you choose a hotel in Bordeaux I’ve gathered a list of the best hotels in the center of Bordeaux as well as a guide to the districts of Bordeaux to help you find your preferred AirBnB location.

Lost in Bordeaux helps you enjoy the city and region in many ways so be sure to follow us on facebook/Instagram for more daily updates on things to do and see. Or better yet, join my newsletter where I share a lot of exclusive info about Bordeaux and the region – sign up here.

The Cité du Vin is one of the most popular attractions on the tourist trail in Bordeaux. In the last couple of years, it has become one of Bordeaux’s most iconic institutions even though it’s quite new. The Cité du Vin was inaugurated in 2016 with the goal of celebrating wine and educating people about its production and history. The spectacular building can be seen from afar and uplifts the grungy port of Bassin a Flot, where the museum is located. Its shape is inspired by the movement of wine swirling in a glass. What’s inside the 55m giant and why do so many people rush to visit it? In this article, I’ll offer you a glimpse into what is considered to be the best wine center in the world. I’ll explain what you’ll experience in the main exhibition, what other attractions are offered and why it’s worth visiting even if you’re not a wine lover. Step with me into Bordeaux’s fascinating wine world.

What will you find in Cité du Vin in Bordeaux 

My good friend Julie calls the Cite du Vin an amusement park for wine lovers, and that in my opinion, describes it the best. It’s an interactive journey into the wine world offering anything from videos, touch screens, sensory tables and more. On your journey you will discover all the important wine regions in the world, learn about the different types of grapes, the fermentation process and on the history of wine in different areas across the globe.

The permanent exhibition includes 19 sections divided into six areas. The first area is dedicated to the wine regions of the world and welcomes you with huge screens portraying breathtaking images from the world’s most famous wine regions. It’s a beautiful video getting you into the mood to learn everything you can about wine. 

cite du vin - wine of the world
The most beautiful wine regions in the world – all photos by lost in Bordeaux

The second part is much more technical and will teach you about the whole process of how grapes turn into wine. Although there are quite a lot of technical explanations involved, the Cité du Vin made it interactive and entertaining enough to intrigue even those not obsessed with wine. One of the best sections in this area is the wine portraits. Flat touch screens, surrounded by gigantic wooden bottle shaped statues, help you explore the major wine types, from red to sweet whites and onto the sparkling ones. 

cite du vin - different types of wine
An interactive way to learn about different types of wine at the Cité du Vin

The third area is about wine and civilization. Here you’ll learn the history of wine routes and how the sea voyages of wine transportation used to look like. The fourth part is dedicated to imagination and has a magnificent space where you can lay down, listen to music, close your eyes and think of wine. 

cite du vin - aromas of wine
The buffet of the five senses

The fifth area is called “wine and you”, and includes my favorite part in the museum, the “buffet of the five senses”. Plenty of different food items from fruits to honey and cookies are presented in front of you on two big tables, allowing you to explore different wine aromas. The sixth and last area is dedicated to the hosting city, Bordeaux. Here you will learn about the wine history of the biggest wine region in France and the tale of the city itself. 

When you finish exploring the exhibition, you will move to one of the best parts of the visit – the wine tasting. For that, you need to go back to the ground floor and take another elevator to the 8th and last floor of Bordeaux’s wine museum. The floor is called the Belvedere and offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Bordeaux. You can choose one wine from one of the regions the exhibition is currently focusing on and take your glass to the balcony to admire the view. A perfect ending to this enriching experience. 

wine tasting cite du vin
wine tasting at the end of the tour

How to explore Bordeaux’s wine museum?

The permanent exhibition is so big that you need at least half a day to cover it all and let’s face it, some people don’t have the time nor the patience for that. If you have only two-three hours to visit the cite du vin you have four trails you can follow. The museum offers four self-guided theme tours that focus on different aspects of the wine world. 

The Essentials tour

This tour is supposed to take up to an hour and a half (If you follow their recommendations) and will get you familiar with some of the most famous wine regions in the world. You will meet winegrowers (virtually of course) that will tell you about their traditions, the grapes they use and the volumes of their production. Just touch the screen on one of the tables dedicated to Argentina, Georgia, Italy, France and more. You will then explore the design aspect of wine with videos of beautiful wine cellars and trendy wine bars. The trail also includes the senses table and wine portraits that allow you to acquire a lot of new knowledge about the different types of wines. Their guide instructs you on how much time to spend on every station so you can actually end the tour on time.

cite du vin - wine makers
Meet the winemakers of the world

The Making wine tour

Besides the “wine of the world” area, this trail includes the “E-Vigne” section that is dedicated to the grapes and their selection by winegrowers. This is a very interactive station with some kids’ trivia questions about winemaking. Most of this route focuses on the “metamorphoses of wine” section, which will teach you all about the vats, fermentation and aging in barrels. The tour takes about an hour.

cite du vin
Learn everything about winemaking

Feast your eyes tour

Another shorter visit can be done with the “Feast your eyes” trail which leads you through some of the more colorful sections with screens and music. This one is particularly recommended to those who are not very interested in wine and just came for the flashy experience. 

Cite du vin  - colors of wine
A fun place even if you don’t like wine

Did you know that a visit to the Cité du Vin can be kids friendly?

Last but not least is the Juniors tour for kids ages 7-12 years old. This trail will help your kids discover the wine world. It includes all the sections where they can touch, smell, look, feel and play. They will smell the aromas on the senses table, answer trivia questions about grapes, watch an amazing cartoon about the wine journey in the sea and discover the history of Bordeaux through an interactive game. 

What else is there to do at the wine museum? 

When you finish the permanent exhibition don’t be in a rush to leave the Cité du Vin, you still have a lot of things to do there. First of all the ticket includes access to the temporary exhibition as well. The Museum regularly hosts great exhibitions that focus on different aspects of the wine world. At the time of writing this article, the temporary exhibition was dedicated to the wine of Argentina while previously there was a beautiful exhibition that portrayed the relationship of wine and glass. The temporary exhibition is located on the first floor where you will also find a beautiful library of wine-related books. 

glass expo in cite du vin
Great temporary exhibitions at the cite du vin – glass and wine

The first floor is also where the wine tasting workshops are taking place. Several modern rooms dedicated to daily wine workshops in French, English and Spanish (mostly during the high season). The English workshop is mainly dedicated to Bordeaux wines while those in French are varied. You can choose workshops about specific wine regions or learn how to match wine with cheese or chocolate. 

If you’re looking for other places in Bordeaux to taste and learn about the wines of the region, you should check my article about wine tasting in Bordeaux.

Wine tasting workshop at the cite du vin
Wine tasting workshop at the cite du vin

On the first floor, you will also find the amazing wine shop that includes around 800 bottles, with 600 of them representing non-French wines. The seventh floor is the fancy Le 7 Restaurant that offers a beautiful view of Bordeaux.

All the practical details you need to know before going to Cite du Vin

Tickets and prices

The ticket are a bit pricey but definitely worth the one-time experience. A regular ticket that includes the permanent and temporary exhibition and one glass of wine costs 20 euros for an adult, 9 euros for kids and free for kids under 6 years old (you have to present something to prove it). A family pack is 50 euros and worth buying if you are two adults and two kids. 

The museum is very popular and sometimes the lines to buy tickets can be quite long. To avoid that you can purchase the tickets online in advance and head straight to the entrance door when you arrive. Click here to reserve your tickets in advance. 

Opening hours

The opening hours of Cité du Vin are Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm and Saturday – Sunday and bank and school holidays from 10am to 7pm. The hours change in the high season so check them out on the site of the museum before going. 

How to get to the wine museum

The easiest way to get to Cité du Vin is by tram B that passes through the center of Bordeaux. The station is called “Cité du Vin” and it’s located just next to the museum. If you come from the other side of the Garonne river you can also take the public transport boat (BAT 3). It accepts the same ticket as a tram but you get there in a more stylish way 🙂 For more information about the hours and stations of the BAT3 – click here.

Another option is taking the city bikes from one of the V3 stations that are spread all over the city. The ride from the city center to the wine museum is one of the best things to do when visiting Bordeaux. I’ve even included it in my article about the best things to do in Bordeaux in one day

What else is there to do next to the wine museum

If you don’t have anything planned after your visit to the museum don’t rush to leave this cool neighborhood. As you will see, Bassin a Flot, the port of Bordeaux has a totally different feel and look than the elegant center of Bordeaux. This is one of the rising districts of Bordeaux with plenty of street art, bars, music venues and even a chic market. If you want to learn more about the neighborhood around the museum check out my article about the north district of Bordeaux

things to do in Bacalan Bordeaux
The Bacalan district in Bordeaux

If you want to explore the Bordeaux wine region more in-depth check out my articles about the best wineries in Saint Emilion and about traveling in the Medoc wine region.

If it’s your first time in Bordeaux check out my ultimate guide to Bordeaux to get familiar with all the must-see places in the city. To help you choose a place to stay I’ve gathered a list of the best hotels in the center of Bordeaux as well as a guide to the districts of Bordeaux to help you find your preferred AirBnB location.

Lost in Bordeaux helps you enjoy the city and region in many ways so be sure to follow us on facebook/Instagram for more daily updates on things to do and see. Or better yet, join my newsletter where I share a lot of exclusive info about Bordeaux and the region – sign up here.